Tuesday, December 30, 2008
This year will be another year of great change for me. I have things to accomplish and things to look forward to. Some friends who drifted by the wayside will stay in the shadows this year. People come and go in our lives at different times so I understand the cycles. Yet other friends who have been long absent will be returning. It's a trade-off: some fade while others re-emerge. I'll accept it for what it is: an evolutionary process.
I've taken a few breaks from research to amuse myself with reading and films. So many sad lives. As I watched the commentary for The Bad Seed, I was frustrated by the lack of knowledge behind the film. Neither commentator knew about the author of the novel on which it was based, William March. He died two years before the film was made. And the interesting tidbit behind knowing how loved this film is by gay men? March, the author, was gay. He also thought the book was crap. Of all his works, it was the one he wasn't proud of. Yet it's what he is remembered for. How ironic.
Yet that's the writer's curse. We judge our work and the critics (and audiences) have an entirely different view.
It only reinforces how unpredictable life really is. People we believe will be around forever aren't. Things we do that we believe matter most don't. Insignificant things end up having great meaning.
Life is a game of Russian roulette.
So to those of you planning out resolutions, remember that nothing ever works out exactly according to plan. Life can't be scheduled for the proceeding year. Don't beat yourself up if that list goes unheeded. Set your sights on goals, but be willing to be a little flexible...
Sunday, December 28, 2008
So far, two bed & breakfasts in Provincetown have said yes, they are haunted. I have also been tipped off about two other known haunted inns in town. Unfortunately, one of these has proved difficult to contact. It is closed for the next few months and the email I sent came back undeliverable. I can't wait for them to reopen, so it might take some work to track down the owner. Another location invited me to check out their ghosts, but that will have to wait. I'll discuss that with the owner this week.
Otherwise, I'm awaiting response from two dozen places I have contacted. It's the final push before sinking into my writing coma. Key West hasn't yielded a single hit, but I'm not giving up without a fight. There could also be another gay haunting from Colorado if I can get the full story. One location in California hasn't responded, so that chapter might end up getting dropped if I can't get any verification.
I have a stack of new reading material thanks to Santa... some for research, some for pleasure. I must take the time to tackle some reading this coming week. Otherwise, the year is slowly drawing to a close. It's becoming as quiet as the bare trees swaying in the coldness of December. Piles of notes are stacked on my printer, waiting to become new chapters. I have two days to get organized again and have a clean desk to begin my typing. I would love to reposition my desk facing the window, but I have to check the length of the cords before even considering that.
I'll take the time to write up a few more posts this week before New Years. After that (and recovering from the celebration) we shall see how quickly my work progresses. I am optimistic that I can tackle my chapters at record speed, but I'd hate to jinx myself. But now it's time for me to pack up the Christmas tree and do a little rearranging...
Monday, December 22, 2008
The next few months will be quiet. That deadline for my book has been pushed up slightly, so I have about two months to pound out a few dozen chapters and tweak things. My initial reaction was elation followed by heart-pounding terror. It's completely doable, but all free time is now eliminated. My "la-lala, this is fun and fascinating" view of the manuscript will turn into "AAH! I'll absorb it all later! Just write it down now!" in the ensuing months. New Years will be my one chance to socialize before the snow melts here in Ohio. The darkest, coldest days of winter will be spent chained to my laptop, making phone calls and sending emails to track down people about the book. But it'll be worth it. Come this Halloween, I'll be able to stop in a bookstore and see my name on the shelf. And the crazed flurry of writing will subside... in its place will be my amusement listening to people comment on the book without realizing the author is listening in.
Another valuable lesson of life: good things come from blood, sweat and tears. Nothing is easy. Hard work and diligence pays off down the road. If you want to accomplish something, brace yourself for a long time of trailblazing and sacrifice. Which is what I'm setting out on now. I'll forgo everything else that comes my way as I plow through this project. As the tulips poke through the thawed ground, I too will emerge from my cocoon of literary hibernation. It means sporadic blogging and setting other tasks aside, but it has to be done.
Just one week left before the dawn of a new year. And what a year it will be...
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
While they do try to be skeptical and seek logical explanations, there have been some bizarre happenings. Unfortunately, they haven't been able to uncover much history on the Victorian home since many records were destroyed in a fire in 1920. Luckily, my research skills are still sharp. Even being several hundred miles away, I tracked down the original owner's name and historical information. I just sent that off to him moments ago... a little early present for them.
They are discussing the idea of having "psychic nights" during the off-peak season and hopefully once my book is in stores, I'll be able to arrange a few events there in 2010. It's quite a beautiful old place. If you happen to find yourself in the oldest art colony in the United States, be sure to stop by Christopher's or book a few nights there on the quiet street. Hopefully, the Encyclopedia Britannicas in your room will stay on the shelf...
Otherwise, I'm continuing with my editing work while tackling as much research as the holidays allow (which isn't quite enough, since so many people are preparing to leave town). I have many emails to pound out and a few phone calls (including one to a gay psychic with firsthand information about one location for the book), but that will have to wait until 2009. So much to do... but it's the little things that bring be much joy.
But no slacking allowed for me. Back to work!
Monday, December 15, 2008
Perhaps it sounds rude of me to not extol the glories of the holiday season. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Caroling through snow-swept neighborhoods. Glittering lights and jingling bells. But that isn't Christmas anymore. It's a nightmare of rudeness, bombardment by family, and the worst fright of them all: American consumerism run rampant. That's right: the absurd notion that the holidays mean nothing more than getting the biggest, most expensive gifts.
The heart of Christmas is dead. In its place is greedy materialism wrapped in a phony red bow. Good will toward men went out the window with George Bailey and Clarence the angel in pursuit of some shred of hope. The little things--the scent of pine boughs, being with loved ones by a roaring fire, and yuletide feasts--are forgotten memories of a bygone era. Simple pleasures no longer exist.
It's depressing and infuriating to see people clamber for bargains, trinkets, and gadgets, pushing and fighting over meaningless objects. And that, I'm sorry to inform you, is what all these "deals" are: empty nothingness. Something to be forgotten in another month. Another toy to add to the pile and keep children from realizing they have an imagination. Another gizmo to impress people with nothing better to do with their time than keep up with the Joneses. Piles of junk that will one day line another methane-manufacturing landfill which will serve as the foundation for another useless chain store selling more of what is buried inches beneath the feet of its shoppers.
Yes, there are things I would truly like to have. But the important things I wish for most can't be found in glittery wrapping paper beneath a tree. They can't be bought or sold or picked up last-minute in the final shopping rush. Good company. A sense of belonging. Time. Love. Understanding. Just like that G-scale train set or airplane ticket to Sydney, they're not bound to appear this year suddenly on the 25th.
I live in a bitter world of materialism. Not by choice, but by surroundings. There are many good people out there, yet many choose to hibernate through the chaos like myself. I still believe these intangible gifts are out there and I see a peek of them from time to time. Yet they're the least likely gifts any of us will receive. They require honest effort, not a padded wallet. They come from the heart, not from a cold store shelf.
The greatest gift we can ever give is care. It can be as simple as the phrase "I'm sorry" said in honesty. It's telling someone how much they mean to you instead of what they can buy you. It's setting aside those few free minutes in your day for someone special. It's giving a hand to someone who needs a little help or politely opening that door for someone. The smallest efforts make the greatest impact.
Instead, I watch the crowds hurry along with blind eyes in pursuit of plastic treasure.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Here is mine for this past week:
ARIES (March 21-April 19): Your sign, Aries, is one of leadership… at least in the sense that, generally speaking, you Mars-ruled types don't often wait around for others to give you permission to do that which moves you. You just pick yourself up—sometimes without even thinking things all the way through (which, incidentally, isn't always a bad thing)—and launch into it. Aries-style leadership, as such, isn't a 'stand up in front of everybody and tell them what to do' didacticism. Rather, it's more the 'grab a machete and cut a new path through the brush' variety, inspiring others to follow through your own actions. And gosh darn, don't we all need a little bit of such guidance-through-example (as opposed to hot-air declarations) right about now? The time is now upon us, Aries, when we need you to step up to the plate and occupy the unmistakable public role of defiant pioneer, the leader who takes it upon him/herself to create something new (and, in the process, to ignore something old) wherever it's become obvious that official 'talk' of principles has gapingly diverged from actual behavior. This is a role you mustn't try to avoid, nor one that's short-lived… and chances are, either very soon or a bit later, you will piss somebody off and/or cause some fracture that may not be reparable. No matter. Among us all, you are one of the bravest, overflowing with 'fuck it' attitude when it's most needed. Apparently, it's needed now.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Watching everyone paving trails and bolstering their "new" views reminds me of a quote I stumbled across several months ago. If anything, it sums up my stance better than anything else.
"I used to want to change the world. Now I just want to leave the room with a little dignity."
The paranormal realm is comparable to the Greek king Sisyphus repeatedly pushing a massive boulder uphill only to watch it roll back to the bottom. Each new investigator enters the scene with delusions of grandeur, only to end up in the same rut pushing another rock. It wears you down until many people either give up or lose ambition. Most never achieve pop star status. Irrefutable evidence becomes the elusive great white whale. Ghost hunters turn into bearded Ishmaels with EMF detectors.
The sad truth is we may never find Moby Dick. No amount of believing or disbelieving will change that. It becomes a bitter curse. The cold, calculable world of science takes a toll on our beliefs.
Yet I like to picture life with some magic and mystery left in it. Many people hold some religious principles to be true without hard science. Are they wrong for doing so? Hardly. It is a human condition to have some form of faith. Faith holds society together. It gives reason to hope and avoids complete chaos. Just imaging a world absent of beliefs and faith. No consequences in the hereafter. No morals. No good triumphing over evil. Every man and woman for himself in a blind, unscrupulous fight for survival. It would mean a real Armageddon with disastrous results.
The existence of ghosts may rely on faith, but that doesn't make it a sect, necessarily. Spirituality deals with the intangible. Ideas, thoughts, and principles. The pursuit of spirits is about perceivable phenomena: touch, smell, sight, and sound. While belief in ghosts may be a form of religion, the pursuit is perceptibly different.
Should everyone believe in ghosts? Not at all. It is not my life's ambition to play Jesus and attempt to convert masses of people to some new religion. I lay my views and opinions out on the table allowing anyone who wants to look and gather from it what they wish. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. If you want to know the answer to the existence of ghosts, find out for yourself. That has been my stance for many years and will not change. I'm not a prophet. If anything, I'm a tour guide.
At least by directing supernatural tourists, my dignity remains relatively unscathed.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Now I try to be open-minded to all sides in arguments (which creates issues in itself), and I'm far from a perfect person. I get caught up in the wave of dissent and make a few blunders. I do my best to keep a sense of humor, though, and avoid lambasting people with definitive statements. I see all sides of everything.
For those not "in the know", a woman accused members of Paranormal State of faking results. Wow... isn't that a first? I'm hard pressed to find any group or show that hasn't met controversy. Are the allegations true? Honestly, I have no idea. Depending on who you ask, you'll get a different answer.
While allegations are often plausible, it's the after-effects that end up revealing clues. And in this case, it does strike me strange that someone feeling jilted by free publicity would begin charging people to visit her haunted home. Is it proof positive? No, but a red flag goes up.
People have misconceptions about television and those who appear on a screen. I have known writers, filmmakers, actors, and other individuals in the public eye. Yes, what you see isn't always exact reality. "Improv" can be scripted. Troubles brew on the set. And often, the visible people face the brunt of it all. Anyone who knows the behind-the-scenes workings can tell you that it's a totally different world from what appears to the viewer. Even in "reality television", nothing is as it appears.
An old friend of mine stepped away from the movie world for good in recent years. Seeing all I witness, I know why. It's not about being a bad actor or not finding work. It's about sanity, avoiding rumor mills, and wanting a normal life. And there is no fault in that. If he wants to work at a restaurant and come home to his other half, it doesn't mean "he couldn't cut it" or "has a pathetic life", as some could suggest. Fame has its price. Getting out of the downward spiral and nightmarish hellstorm while you can is wise.
But back to Chip, Ryan, and the drama.
So, what do I believe? I think that there is a lot the general public doesn't know about every single show and film ever made. I believe that truth is relative. And I still have faith that truth wins out over all else. Not a satisfactory answer? Sorry. I have heard so many things about so many people over the years. I've watched message boards fill up with rumors while knowing the truth. I've been called a liar, fake, and charlatan. I have tried to tell the truth to defend people only to be told I was "making it up for fame". Then, when truth finally rears its head, people magically forget that someone had their facts straight.
I know the burning questions people want an answer to: is Chip a fraud? Is Ryan vain? Is the woman a greedy sod? I'm not here to answer those things. I'm here to find amusement in humanity. Our petty babblings and stupid assumptions. I play devil's advocate to test the waters. I have psychic friends who have come under attack (actually, every single one has). I also have friends who felt jilted by celebrities. It bothers me to be forced into the middle, so I refuse to do it. A friend of mine from Florida emailed me about a psychic on television who "stole" his television show idea and ran with it. Since the show is currently on air, I'm not saying another word. But I avoided commenting back about that. They're both adult men and can duke it out themselves. I refuse to take sides with either one. Why? Because I don't have all the facts. I get along with most everyone and intend to stay that way. I'm not here to say which psychic is better than the other.
To be honest, I like Chip. And I give him credit for holding his own with all the trash that goes around. Does that mean that everyone I know, associate with, or befriend likes him? Hardly. But so what? I'm Switzerland. I indulge all sides in their say. Switzerland harbored refugee Jews and laundered Nazi money. Do I agree with everyone? No. But in this world of name-calling and mean words, I tend to keep quiet about my own views. Trying to be friendly with everyone is one of the most difficult tasks in the world. Yet one thing holds true: often, the people who accuse others of certain behaviors and deeds are guilty of the same things. That's why I smile. it's merely a suppressed laugh.
And for those of you who want answers, I'll give you one. You'll probably never know the real answers to these questions. Is psychic X legit and psychic Y a fraud? Find out for yourself. Judge people by their character and compassion and not popularity or rumors. Most of us are undecided on the truth behind psychic ability. Yet I have had things told to me by psychics which ended up being true. I've also had horrible readings that were nothing but trash. I've known arrogant psychics who saw themselves as demigods and hesitant ones who worried about every word they said.
Am I a little biased with who I like? Of course. Aren't we all? I'm not perfect nor am I entirely neutral. Those are two impossibilities in humanity. And I am human... last I checked. I can be lead astray. I make errors in judgement. I put my foot in my mouth. But at least I'm sensible enough to admit it. If I laugh at the world's stupidity, shouldn't I laugh at my own?
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
As always, I'm behind with many things. I have editing to tackle, blogs to catch up on, a disaster I call my desk begging to be uncovered, and plenty of my own writing and research to pounce upon. One thing I've learned in life is that there are two possible modes: complete utter boredom and overwhelming chaos. We shift between the two. And now, my life is headed toward the latter.
I'm quite good at jinxing myself, so I'll keep tight-lipped about some things until I feel safe tossing everything out there for the universe to listen. I will say that things are going splendidly. I am making headway in more ways than one. But this week, I have plenty of things to tackle. Emails to send and await replies. Voraciously reading, rereading, and revising written work. Piles of notes to sift through, write legibly, and add to. And that pesky pattern for a stuffed animal to create.
December needs to slow down a smidge.
So forgive me if my posts are erratic. It will all be explained in due time, but for now I'll use the excuse of pre-holiday insanity. Time is not on my side and Norman Meade should be shot for suggesting anything of the sort. As we count down the final weeks of 2008, this year certainly is heading for a bang.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
It's been a busy week otherwise. I'm slapping on my editor's hat and working diligently on a book being written by a friend. I'll be cracking down on my brainstorms more this coming week. Plenty of notes, outlining, and rewriting to tackle, but it'll be a fun project nonetheless. I'm not abandoning my own manuscript at all. It's been a semi-exciting week again, but fearing I may jinx myself I've kept tight-lipped about it. I'll just say this: 31 minutes. Some of you already know what I'm talking about... the rest, well, you'll find out eventually barring any unforeseen disasters or writer's blocks.
To avoid another dull, lonely New Years, I'll probably be finalizing plans with friends this weekend as well... since no one else has stepped forward with an offer. *cough*
But I must run now. Too much to do and never enough time in the day.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Needling those Politicians...
Sorry, President Sarkozy. A French court has decided against banning voodoo dolls made in his image. The novelty toys may have won, but they didn't walk away unscathed. K&B was ordered to pay one Euro in damages plus court costs and now needs to attach a disclaimer to the doll stating that the President of France disapproves. I'm sure Sarkozy is feeling a but more blue than his fabric likeness.
Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell has decided to 'spice up her life'. The actress and singer recently discovered her own psychic abilities! As proof of her supernatural skills, she accurately predicted that one of her PAs would give birth to a girl. Good going, Ginger. It's the little victories that matter most, right?
¡Salsa Dios Mío!
The Virgin Mary decided to get a little favor when she miraculouly appeared in salsa splatter on a wall in Bakersfield. While mincing the Spanish treat in a blender, the California woman noticed the pattern on her kitchen cabinet after some dip splashed out of its container. The anonymous homeowner says there is also the scent of roses in her flowerless home. She told local media sources that she beieves it to be a sign that "people need to start treating each other better". She could start by passing the nachos...
Drive-In Ghost Tours...
Don't believe what you hear; ghost hunting can be deadly! Participants in a Charleston ghost tour discovered this for themselves Tuesday night when an out-of-control Mazda RX7 crashed through the crowd at Meeting and Broad streets, known as the Four Corners of Law. The driver accidentally stepped on the gas instead of the clutch, injuring two tourists. Tour owner John LaVerne refunded everyone, though most continued the tour. Talk about your die-hard ghost hunters!
I Fell into a Burning Ring of Fire...
What do you do when your apartment is infiltrated by evil? Well, a woman in Marietta, Georgia thought she chose the best solution: burn it down. Claiming that items inside her dwelling were possessed by voodoo curses, Felicia Johnson stacked the belongings in two piles and lit them ablaze to "cleanse the apartment of the spirits". Marietta Fire Department quickly conquered the flames and avoided serious damage to the complex. She was charged with first degree arson and taken to a hospital to undergo mental evaluation.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Or so I've learned.
The number of "Oh my god! I took a picture of Satan in my oatmeal! Do I need an exorcism?!" photos I end up receiving can, at times, be mindboggling. Blurry, dim, and/or erroneous digital pictures can create a fount of possibilities in our minds. Of course, most of the time it really is all in your head. Hand me any picture taken anywhere and I can point out at east one "face", and probably a dozen other objects - from skateboards to dragons to tubas. Are they paranormal or paranoia? Well, hopefully neither... but often the latter.
Then there are the dozens of "orbs", usually taken in either basements or attics (coincidence?), I muddle through, trying to find the politest way to reply. Dust... oops, I mean "orbs"... happens. Old, dirty houses have dust! Even your cleanest home has particles flying around in the air. And outdoors, pollen and insects are an orb hunter's dream come true! Don't believe me? Experiment a little Shake a flower or an old pillow gently in the air and snap a photo.
So, to the many people capturing remarkable digital photos of orbs, faces, devils, witches, ectoplasm, faeries, dead celebrities, and alphabet soup flying through the air, I have one bit of advice: test out a few mundane possibilities before dialing 9-1-1. Photograph shadows, breath, dust, insects, and deer before giving yourself cardiac arrest.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
The historic Villa Montezuma in San Diego is an incredible piece of Queen Anne architecture. For a brief time, it was home to pianist, author, and medium Jesse Shepherd who still haunts the dwelling to this very day. Built in 1887, the structure suffered damage in a fire in 1986 and its foundation needs repairs. A non-profit organization, Friends of Villa Montezuma, has worked tirelessly since the 1970s to renovate the structure and return it to its former glory.
Structural concerns have closed the home to tours, though the society hopes it isn't permanent. While I'm sure they do appreciate gracious, larger donations, they gladly accept whatever the public can offer. In these troubling economic times, our pockets are lighter, but the same applies to non-profit organizations. Without a helpful hand, so much of our history will disappear from the landscape. The past is more fragile than you may think.
If you feel this house is worth saving, you can make a donation or become a sponsor for a restoration project. It can be as simple as becoming a member or, if you live in the San Diego area, you can donate your time and aid the society at events.
And remember: not all presents can be bound by bows. Sometimes the best benefactions are those which warm the soul and come without benefit of reciprocation.
You are The Hermit
Prudence, Caution, Deliberation.
The Hermit points to all things hidden, such as knowledge and inspiration,hidden enemies. The illumination is from within, and retirement from participation in current events.
The Hermit is a card of introspection, analysis and, well, virginity. You do not desire to socialize; the card indicates, instead, a desire for peace and solitude. You prefer to take the time to think, organize, ruminate, take stock. There may be feelings of frustration and discontent but these feelings eventually lead to enlightenment, illumination, clarity.
The Hermit represents a wise, inspirational person, friend, teacher, therapist. This a person who can shine a light on things that were previously mysterious and confusing.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
Monday, December 1, 2008
So, you ask, is there anything that science can say to give us a glimmer of hope that the supernatural exists?
Don't ask me. Ask Dr. Dean Radin, Senior Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences.
Radin, 14 (he was born on February 29), is a bona fide scientist with a doctorate in psychology. His work ranges from physics to research in consciousness. While he takes his work seriously and maintains a professional, scientific view of the world, he also believes there is more to parapsychology than we give credit.
At a spoon bending gathering in 2000, Radin experienced unusual malleability in the metal. Not content to simply bend a spoon at the neck, he attempted to alter the spoon at its strongest point: the bowl. To his surprise, it bent nearly in half quite easily between his thumb and forefinger. Knowing the amount of force required in the eyes of science, it concreted his long-held belief and understanding in psi phenomena.
Amazingly, Radin believes he has discovered a coexistence between science and parapsychology. If you want to find out about his work, be sure to read his 1997 book The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena. His newest book Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality further explores scientific reality and parapsychological experiences. Even harsh skeptics can't help but take notice.
So, is there truth to our belief and hope that the rational world of science isn't so bland and concrete? Perhaps. But don't take my word on the matter. Read the books and find out for yourself.
Since the early days of HIV awareness in 1981, over 25 million people worldwide have lost their lives to AIDS. While we have come far in our understanding of HIV and mislabeling it a "gay disease", a certain amount of prejudice still exists. It can effect anyone, without regard for age, race, or sexual orientation. Some victims, like Liberace, kept quiet for fear of scandal. Others, such as Ryan White, became public speakers helping the world understand the virus better and giving sufferers a face of normality. Yet there are still people who believe past misinformation and stereotypes. For as far as we have come, we have greater strides to make.
Throughout my life, I have watched the slow changes since its initial discovery. I remember watching Ryan White on television and seeing the earliest uses of the symbolic red ribbon. I have known and befriended people living with the disease. I have watched fear and hysteria give way to somber understanding. Great advances have been made in the past 20 years, from drug cocktails to scientific work on a vaccine. Yet the fight isn't over. In 2007, the number of individuals living with HIV was estimated at 33 million. In poorer countries, the survival rate is extremely low. While we may not consider AIDS as a serious affair worthy of news attention today, the battle hasn't ended.
It doesn't take much to become a catalyst for change. Educate yourself on the disease by reading information provided by the World AIDS Campaign or volunteer some time or financial donations at one of the many AIDS organizations throughout the world. HIV won't disappear simply because we turn a blind eye. Like anything we fear, we have to face it head-on.