Friday, February 29, 2008

Falling Under Friendly Fire...

"Why I endure under force majeure slander without shame or tact
I who studied make-up, mime and Buddha who taught two generations to react
About me the critics lied I ignored them and survived
in spite of coming under friendly fire
shot in the fatal cause of rock-and-roll

I have nothing, really nothing, to deny"
-from Friendly Fire, The Pet Shop Boys

One thing in life is certain: the things you say to someone will often come back to haunt you.

Or eventually be thrown back in your face.

We all feel the need to vent out frustrations and disagreements. Most of us have our ways: talking to close friends, working out, even blogging. I've always been more of a writer, so I prefer to disperse any grievances through words. Be them emails or long, drawn-out journal entries, I find the most therapeutic (and humorous) way to express my inner bitchiness.

Occasionally, people will tell me "be careful what you write... you never know who may be looking". So what? If I write something in a message to someone or in a journal, odds are I don't care who reads it. I'm not out to be the most politically correct person who ever walked the earth. I spent too long trying to please anyone around me... tip-toeing around my words as not to offend or upset.

In reality, people become offended and upset no matter what. There is no way of expressing your view without someone feeling insulted, degraded, misunderstood, or worried. Everyone interprets things differently. What I may find to be laughable, others may think is dead serious. Guess what, people? Life isn't that serious. Life is funny. People are funny (and often more amusing than apes eating their own feces, though amusing in the same manner).

I find much reason to laugh at life and people. Of course, in all fairness, I laugh and poke fun at myself just as much. We are all funny creatures... and often the more serious we try to play ourselves to be, the more humorous we appear.

The difference between my "humor" and some comments made by unassuming people? My jibes are all meant in playful fun. I'm not out to personally attack someone. I mean what I say and say what I mean. If I think something is foolishness or absurd, I'll play that up to the utmost level. I may appear to personally attack someone from time to time, but I merely add a little whimsy to the caricature they paint of themselves.

I don't go for the throat. I don't speak of unfamiliar matters. I don't degrade someone for having a differing opinion. I know and understand humbleness and humility. I accept the world for what it is.

Still, I've found myself the target of many snarky, arrogant, and degrading remarks and comments many times. Words intended to belittle and insult. Sometimes from the people who proclaim politeness the strongest. Negative energies from "positive-only" peoples.

I'm human, so yes it will effect me. But I don't allow it to gain a stranglehold over my existence. I vent it out and move on. And often, I simply turn it into a funny, witty anecdote.

After all, most people are far more humorous than they realize.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Who Do I Look Like?

66% Alexis Denisof (actor)
64% Philip Seymour Hoffman (actor)
61% Lance Bass (gay singer, N*SYNC)
56% Vyacheslav Molotov (Russian diplomat)
54% Sean Lennon (singer, son of John Lennon)
53% Jay Hernandez (actor)
53% Elvis Costello (singer)
53% Matt Stone (co-creator, South Park)

What Started It All...

I've been asked several times, "what made you start being interested in ghosts?"

It's hard to say exactly, but I would have to say I owe part of it to Walt Disney.

One of my earliest memories I can recall is playing with an imaginary friend in my back yard. He seemed perfectly real to me, and I still wonder if he could have been a ghost. His name was Robin, and in a flashback beneath an apple tree, I saw myself walking along railroad tracks with him. He felt the need to prove his steel nerves and stood on the tracks, waiting to jump off at the last second. He was too late. I remember seeing the shadow of the train pass and knowing he was dead.

All this at 4 years old.

In the next few years, I was introduced to cable television. The Disney Channel had a habit of playing "The Adventures of Ichabod Crane and Mr. Toad" every autumn, and through this I became familiar with Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". It tells the story of a thin, awkward schoolmaster by the name of Ichabod Crane and his encounter with the ghost of the Headless Horseman.

A few years later, I bought my first book on ghosts. Some of those earliest books I still have today. It snowballed from there and I started researching my first few real ghost stories around the age of 13. By 16, I was seeking out haunted places on my own.

Sleepy Hollow still stands out in my mind as one of the most intriguing places I have yet to visit. Yes, the town actually exists. Irving based most of the tale on fact. The characters were each real townspeople, though he changed the names in most cases.

And most importantly, The Headless Horseman wasn't a fabrication of his imagination.

A Hessian mercenary was killed near the town of Sleepy Hollow in the late 1700s. His body was buried deep in the woods of what is now Patriot's Park. For over 200 years, people have claimed to see his headless apparition riding through the woods... even in the local cemetery. But this is just the tip of the iceberg with hauntings in the small, quiet village.

Both Old Dutch Burying Ground and Sparta Cemetery have ghosts. Captain Kidd's bride is supposedly dragged through the streets at midnight. And then, or course, there's the haunting of Sunnyside... by none other than the ghost of Washington Irving himself. It is said that his apparition has a fondness for punching the posteriors of women visitors....

For more information, visit my page on Sleepy Hollow or the town's page concerning its haunted attractions.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Brothers Do It Better...

Police in Philadelphia have finally nabbed the suspected burglars in a string of rooftop robberies. They are two brothers from New Jersey.

Twin brothers Keyontyli and Taleon Goffney. Gay twin brothers. Gay twin brothers who do porn.

And they were apprehended after robbing a beauty shop on the 19th of February. How ironic and stereotypical can you get?

Apparently, they used an ax and a handsaw to gain entry through the roofs of the buildings and plunder the stores. Among the things stolen from a Rite Aid the previous day were cigarettes, money, and condoms.

Maybe the latter was for a little post-victory celebration...

Keyontyli is a model. His brother has a long history with the police, including eluding police and drug charges.

I guess there's more than one way to become famous...

Fortunes, Forecasts, and Lucky Charms...

Normally, I'm quite a skeptical person with astrology. I know it's based on generalizations. Not reliable. Often wrong. But I just looked at my overview for this year, and so far I have to admit it's quite accurate!


New opportunities arise this year, resulting in a positive turn for your career. You will learn to master your energy to meet your goals. You are good at taking leadership, and you'll make deep, transforming changes and tap into this abundant energy in new and dynamic ways. Even though you may feel pulled to accomplish great things, you will still be able to keep balance in your personal life and your energy alive and renewed.

Amidst this change, you will be able to remain mentally focused. You may become more methodical and practical than usual in managing your responsibilities. Stopping to think things through carefully will impact you and your surroundings in a very profound and positive way. Seize the opportunity to think things through during the first few months of the year. Even though you enjoy beginning new projects, make the time to relax a bit to complement your natural tendency toward activity, both physical and otherwise.

As you successfully achieve your career goals this year, it will be important to maintain a watchful eye over the security of your family life. You may find yourself doing some remodeling in your home and you will take pleasure in spending more time and energy enjoying the creature comforts you have created. You will cultivate good relationships through the end of the year, which will reflect positive changes in your life. Your will enjoy socializing more than usual. You will be networking and connecting with different types of people from all over the world and it will feel like a breath of fresh air. As your career takes off, it will be much easier than usual to express yourself with warmth and charm.

All My Friends are Bizarre People...

Much to my chagrin, I had a message waiting for me today. it was from my friend "Camevil", webmistress for Dead Ohio!

She created a little video of her exciting weekend activities. As always, with a little interesting music and a lot of wit and humor. I couldn't help but share...

At least one of us is enjoying the winter weather...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

An American Perspective...

Yes, I know. This image has been around for a few years.

But so what? It's still very poignant and worth a giggle.

Sometimes, Less is Just Fine...

Attention! Attention! We are down two gays. Call for backup!

Well, last night's investigation was rather interesting. Unfortunately, my friends Bill and Chris were both horribly sick and stayed home. I arrived with another member quite early (25 minutes early to be precise). We chatted with the homeowner and her family briefly before having a walk-through of the home. I took notes and let the psychic do her thing.

7:00 PM came and went. No one else had arrived yet. The first group members walked through the door at 7:20. Another at 7:30. The final one arrived at almost 8:00 after being lost for 20 minutes. Finally, the show could start.

I set up my camcorder in the rear upstairs bedroom. We discussed the hauntings and checked different rooms. Things seemed relatively peaceful to me, though I'm not exactly psychic. It was quite a nice smaller home. There were plenty of small rises and drops in the floor from the many additions over the last 130 years. There are a few mysteries attached to the house: the identities of the female spirit, the small boy ghost upstairs, and a possible girl buried in the yard. Murder? A family plot? Hopefully some of these secrets will reveal themselves.

All in all, I think it was a success. My girl-pal psychic cleansed the house of negative energies and, with the help of the homeowner, seemingly removed the negative spirit. I guess we'll find out soon enough if everything worked. All I know was that by 11:00 PM, I was utterly exhausted and ready for bed.

I stayed up a short time to check email and finally crashed. I still feel a bit sore and tired today. I have no idea why. I didn't fall down the narrow staircase or move furniture. Perhaps from standing in one spot for so many hours?

I have over 2 hours of video to watch. I know I'll need to make a fresh pot of coffee to survive it. Though I do love reviewing evidence, watching footage of an empty room can become tiresome.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Pause That Doesn't Refresh...

I think it's finally time to write an update about my personal life. There's been so much going on lately that even though I still feel a bit boring, my mind is racing a million miles a second.

First there's my book. I really need to find some time to get back to work on it. It's been over a year since Haunted Cuyahoga and the sequel is already overdue. I'm still trying to collect enough stories to fill it out. No matter what happens, I'm still going to have it finished by June. I just can't delay it any longer.

I've also been in contact with another author who is requesting personal accounts of the paranormal for her new book. I'm submitting a few of my own stories as well as seeking out others to help her. A little press is always a good thing and I do enjoy helping out a fellow writer whenever possible.

Then there's my other writing: my blog and beyond. I've been pushing myself to post daily on here, which isn't always an easy thing to do. Some days are better than others. Some days, I don't feel like writing or going near the computer. I guess today has been one of those days. Though I do love to write, I sometimes need time away from it. Now I'm discussing becoming a regular contributor for something else. As they say, it's feast or famine.

I have another investigation to attend with the paranormal group tonight. I'm both excited and loathing it. For the past week, I haven't been sleeping well, so my energy level is quite low. Still, I'll pull myself together, put on a smile, and get the job done. Besides, it'll be good to see some of my friends again.

Aside from that, I can't think of much else happening. I'm still single. That can be both a blessing and a curse. It's just like real estate: when you've been on the market for a year, people wonder what's wrong with you. There must be a fatal flaw in the foundation that keeps the buyers away.

Maybe I just need a face lift and another open house.

Time seems to be passing too fast today. I've accomplished a lot, but still have so many things to finish. Even my taxes are sitting here, glaring at me. I'm a bit hungry but not enough to actually eat. I'm tired but I've already had too much coffee. And naps? I don't believe in them.

And then I stop and stare at my Australian flag, wishing I were on a plane to Sydney right now. The 24-hour flight would be worth it. But there isn't the time or the money in my budget.

Sometimes, you just have to plow through the matters at hand and put off those pleasurable things for another day.

Sucks, doesn't it?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Deutschland und Geists

Ghosts are everywhere. I do mean everywhere. Every continent, every country, and every city. No matter where you are or where you look, you are bound to find a tale of the paranormal not too far away.

It has been four years since my ghost hunting comrade Daniel has joined me on a paranormal investigation. It's not that easyhe lives near Köln (Cologne), Germany! I remember him to be a shy, quiet young man. I never even noticed any accent since he spoke so softly and so little. We visited Indigo Lake, not far from me, along with a paranormal group I belonged to at the time. I had even invited my then-boyfriend along... much to my relief, it hadn't made either of them uncomfortable (Daniel is straight).

Since I have such a fascination with Europe (in all aspects, even men), I've always wanted to tour many different cities and seek out the local hauntings. Though I have been to a few European cities in the past, I never took the time to find any ghosts. I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to ghost stories of Europe, but I know there must me many of them floating around.

In fact, there are several reportedly haunted locations around Germany. The TAPS spin-off, Ghost Hunters International, even visited a few in recent episodes. One of these has become infamous in literature and on screen: Castle Frankenstein.

Yes, there really was a "Doctor Frankenstein". He was an alchemist (and a known grave robber) by the name of Johan Konrad Dippel Von Frankenstein, whose experiments on body parts labeled him as "the blood brother of the devil". While Dippel was creative, he was prone to failure. During an experiment, he accidentally discovered nitroglycerin and blew up his lab. Though he managed to cheat death, it finally caught up with him when he tested his immortality potion on himself. It was a fatal mistake: the concoction turned out to be poison.

Though you could say that he has become "immortal" through his legend. Perhaps he was on to something... though not in the way he had intended. Be careful what you wish for.

The ghost said to roam this fortress is actually his ancestor, Arborgast Von Frankenstein. He built the castle in 948.

There is also Cochem Castle in Cochem, Germany rumored to be haunted by an unknown specter, as well as Reichenstein Castle in Trechtingshausen haunted by the headless apparition of Dietrich von Hohenfels. Castles are always a popular place to look for spirits, but not the only locations to investigate. I know there are more out there. It's just a matter of finding them. Unfortunately, I have yet to find any hauntings in Cologne. Perhaps no one cares to speak of these matters in that particular city.

Very soon, Daniel will have an opportunity to experience Ohio ghosts once more. He just sent word that he'll be visiting again in May. Perhaps I can stir up a few new spooks for him by then...

The Continental Divide of Humor

The average American doesn't truly appreciate comedy from other countries.

When I was in elementary school (I cannot remember my exact age... somewhere between 7 and 10), I had a brilliant idea for a Halloween costume. I went as a "granny mountie", an oddball version of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police where I rode an old woman instead of a horse. It was borrowed from a skit I watched on Benny Hill. My classmates were confused. A few teachers nearly died laughing. I was thoroughly amused by myself.

Yes, I watched Benny Hill at that early of an age. I was truly a warped child. Yet the scantily-clad women apparently had no effect on me...

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household where I was exposed to many television choices unlike those of my peers. Instead of Dynasty, Beverly Hills 90210, Baywatch, and Melrose Place, I was watching Sherlock Holmes, Lovejoy (where my email and old paranormal group name, 'Moonspenders' is derived from), All Creatures Great and Small, Are You Being Served?, and one of my favorite physical comedy programs: Mr. Bean.

In recent years, Rowan Atkinson has finally become noticed by the general US public. He made a few Mr. Bean movies and starred as the misfit special agent in Johnny English. None of them seemed to appeal to a broad American audience, and that's truly a shame. Mr. Bean's Holiday was a hilarious film!

I'm not saying that Americans are the only ones who don't always find the humor in British humor and other comedy. Different styles appeal to different people. Nonetheless, Bob Smith the average Yankee doesn't quite understand why Monty Python or Kids in the Hall makes some people laugh. What's wrong with Saturday Night Live?

Sometimes, it's cultural differences. Unknown politics and celebrities. Even I am forced to admit that although I love the Australian program The Chasers War on Everything, occasionally I miss a joke because the name is not familiar. European comedy is most familiar. I try my best to keep up on foreign politics. I know all about Tony Blair (the bastard). I recognize that Jacques Chirac is no longer in office, and hasn't been since May of 2007 (et il est un homosexuel...). I know about the recent hate crime in Canberra, Australia. I know Brazil's economy is booming.

In short: I'm aware of the world around me.

Perhaps that's why I grasp the humor of other countries. And not just because I find America as humorous as they do...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Just Say Nonnein to Ouija?

Most of us have fiddled around with a Ouija board during our childhood. My sister and I tried to contact the spirit of singer/songwriter John Lennon one afternoon in our living room. The planchette moved a few times. She later confessed to having moved it herself.

Oh well. I'm sure he had far better things to do with the afterlife.

The "mystifying oracle" is a popular topic of discussion whenever the paranormal world is mentioned. People occasionally try to hold their own séances using the board, contacting what they believe to be their dead relatives.

Unfortunately, most people don't know much of the history of the parlor game.

Ouija (derived from two translations for "yes": "Oui" being French and "Ja", German, therefore Ouija means yes-yes), as we know it, has been around for almost a century. Earlier versions of talking boards have existed since as early as 540, but the first patent was registered in the US for a "ouija board" by Elijah Bond in 1891. William Fuld took over production of the board in 1901. His name can still be found on modern boards. Parker Brothers purchased the full rights in 1966.

It is no surprise that the Ouija board first became popular during the First World War. Families were desperate to contact their deceased loved ones and find a little peace of mind. Another spike in popularity hit during the 1960s and 1970s, when mysticism began making a comeback. It remains a well-recognized image today, though its popularity has dwindled.

Today, most scientists rationalize the results of its practice with the ideomotor effect; that is, unconscious reflexive reactions of the body. Some paranormalists agree, but believe it to be the subconscious mind giving results from a higher power, without the knowledge of the conscious mind. Spiritualists maintain that it's the sole work of spirits and ghosts.

Modern day parapsychologists and paranormal investigators have abandoned its use. Generally speaking, it is not a trustworthy device for communication with the deceased. Would your dead Aunt Claire really be interested in returning home just to entertain a group of high school cheerleaders during a slumber party? Probably not. If it does indeed contact spirits, it is far more likely to randomly choose the nearest ethereal presence, be them good, bad, honest, or foolhardy. Many mediums and researchers go as far as declaring the boards "dangerous" and "demonic".

So, what is the Ouija board, exactly? It's a board game. It's a divination device. Take your pick. But if you decide to use one for yourself, it would be wise to treat it as a source of skeptical entertainment rather than definitive truth.

Panic and the Disco

Sexuality and its origins have always been a fiercely debated subject. Is it genetic? Is it a learned trait? Is it both? Even though science has discovered several possibilities, no one can agree.

I heard a stand-up comedian once discuss a German study involving stress and homosexuality. It turns out, her routine was based in fact. The Dresden Study, as it has become known, noted that during World War II, a higher-than-normal percentage of infants born during the bombing of the city ended up being gay or lesbian. Dr. Günter Dörner published his findings in 1982 (Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 11, No. 5, 1982, pp. 445–450). Researchers in America and the United Kingdom confirmed that the stress chromosome cortisol may lead to a decrease in testosterone, causing infants to become homosexual.

Lately, there's been a rise in researchers trying to find physical differences to "weed out" gays and lesbians: the length of ring fingers, left-handedness, number of older brothers, hair patterns, fingerprints, etc. In most circumstances, the traits apply to "many" gays and lesbians, but not all.

So, where do I register on the plethora of scientific babble floating around in cyberspace? Well, my mother suffered from panic attacks during her pregnancy. Check. I am left-handed (supposedly, gays and lesbians are more inclined to be left-handed... us south paws are better with spatial tasks, i.e. art, science, math, architecture, and everyday life). Check. My index finger is shorter than my ring finger. Oops. My hair has a clockwise whorl. Oops. I have no brothers. Oops. I didn't dress like a girl as a child. Oops. I played with toy cars and trains as a child. Oops.

So, science hasn't quite figured things out. Hopefully, they never will. Why do I say that? very simple: it would create a basis for discrimination and extermination. Mothers could choose whether or not to abort a child who might grow up to be homosexual. People with certain key features could be ostracized or excluded from activities and society. Though the world would not instantaneously become an intolerant place, it would be a better breeding ground for people with malevolent intentions.

My sister is pregnant with her first child. With all the dysfunctional genes and health issues running in our family, it will be quite interesting to see how he or she turns out.

I'll try not to stress her out too much to test the hypothesis.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Blood Baths, Lesbians, Dracula, and Transylvania

I've always been fascinated with Eastern Europe. Perhaps it stems from my heritage (my great grandfather lived in an apartment in Bratislava, Slovakia before coming to America). Or it could be the result of the countless images of werewolves, old crumbling castles, and vampires haunting my nightmares at an early age. I even dated a Romanian named Dani during my college years (yes, he was from the region known as Transylvania... his hair, voice, and sense of humor were all dark... but he wasn't a vampire, sorry).

Often, our most iconic images are not so much based in reality but a blend of fact and fiction.

Dracula, as we are familiar with him in our culture, never actually existed. His image stems from three sources: superstition, Vlad Dracul, and Elizabeth Báthory.

A strigoi, in Romanian mythology, is the evil soul of the dead capable of transforming itself into an animal or specter to haunt and terrorize the countryside.There were a few different forms: Strigoi vii were living vampire witches, while Strigoi morţi were their undead counterparts. Both fed off the life force (be it the soul or blood) of their victims and could only be destroyed during their feast.

Vlad Ţepeş ("Vlad the Impaler", Vladislav III Dracula , or "son of Dracul", Prince of Wallachia) was a fair and well-loved ruler in Romania during the 15th Century. His nickname stems from his preferred method of punishment. Tales of Vlad drinking the blood of his victims circulated around Europe, though these words came from the lips of his enemies. After escaping Poienari Castle ("Dracula's Castle" as it is now known, where his first wife leaped to her death in the Argeş River below), he returned in 1475 with Stefan Báthory to reclaim the throne, only to be killed in battle during the winter of 1476. His body has never been found.

Speaking of the Báthory family, there's yet another possible origin for the vampires of legend: Báthory Erzsébet, better known as Countess Elizabeth Báthory of Hungary. Elizabeth was a lesbian and always surrounded herself with beautiful, young women. As age and fading beauty began consuming her thoughts, she devised a plan to keep herself young.

She would bathe in the blood of young women. Well, torture and mutilate them first... just for fun.

Everything seemed to go quite well, under the guise of schooling young peasant girls from the countryside. But soon, the rumors of her misdeeds reached government officials. To avoid a public scandal, she was sentenced to house arrest. Čachtice Castle in modern-day Slovakia became her prison for the remainder of her life. She passed away on August 21, 1614 while still bricked into the single room.

Over the many centuries, these and many other tales became twisted and molded into the character we know today as Count Dracula. Transylvania and much of Eastern Europe still retain their superstitious beliefs, but most of the negative reputation is unwarranted.

But who knows... if you ever find yourself wandering the Bohemian countryside after dark, you just might encounter a spook or two... or even a lesbian vampire...

Divination Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery...

Fortune-telling has been around for centuries. People seek out an explanation for why they are the way they are and why their lives follow a certain path. From tasseography (tea leaf reading) to tarot, countless versions exist. Practically anything can be used to gain insight into the client as well as predict their future.

Including body parts.

Most people are aware of palmistry (the ability to tell information of someone's past, present, and future from lines on their hand) and phrenology (reading someone's head shape). But what about other, less-considered physical features? Believe it or not, it's all been done. And I do mean everything.

I thought I'd share a few of the most amusing ones with all of you.

First comes rumpology. Yes, it sounds like the fictitious work of a dirty mind. It is what it sounds like: divination of the buttocks. Ulf Buck of Meldorf, Germany caused quite a stir several years ago when the media picked up on his abilities. Buck, who happens to be blind, claims that the lines and wrinkles on someone's posterior tell a lot about a person. And he's not alone. In the US, Jacqueline Stallone will read your rear for a reasonable US$125 (126 Euros).

Next (surely a favorite for many people) is phallomancy. Yes, you heard me right: divination of the penis. Believe it or not, some people believe you can judge a man's character by it. Of course, I tend to believe you can tell a lot about a man without having him drop his trousers... but if it's in the name of science...

To be fair, there is also mammomancy or mastomancy: divination of the breasts. Obviously a perfect excuse for straight men and lesbians to feel up their girlfriends.

Believe it or not, all of these techniques have existed since ancient times. They aren't simply modern creations brought on by a lustful society. At one time, they were very much accepted and widely practiced. In our modern society, they tend to be met more with a chuckle and a little disdain.

As a society, we strive to move forward while accusing our ancestors of being incompetent and crude. We view ourselves as superior. More advanced. Better educated. We're slowly learning that the ancient world was far less archaic than we've assumed. Perhaps our blushing and tittering at these practices shows us to be far more childish than our predecessors. Or perhaps we are right to scoff at these "bizarre" practices.

Whichever it is, we can all agree that it's quite amusing.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

When Psychics Meet Modern Thought

To say that last night's meeting went smoothly would be a prevarication. Once more, I opened my mouth and allowed a personal opinion to tumble forth... leading to vivid discussion and complete confusion on my part.

All I said was, "It would be nice to have a way to tell how accurate the psychics in the group are. Maybe we could test them somehow."

In the ensuing discussion, the line between scientific evidence and psychic impressions became more of a tug-of-war than open discourse.

Frankly, I have no problems with psychic ability. I have some belief in it. Everyone has some type of extrasensory perception, however minuscule. That doesn't mean all psychics are reliable or even trustworthy. Plenty of people (even some well-known names) use manipulation to pull information out of people and spit it back to them under the guise of channeling or communicating with the spirit realm. This makes the work of the honest, true psychics more difficult and often the target or ridicule.

In my 13 years of investigating ghosts and hauntings, I've worked with over a dozen psychics. Some have left me feeling thoroughly unimpressed, though I always remained polite. Others left me shocked and speechless at the information they had no way of knowing. I hold a deep respect for the tried-and-true psychics and sensitives of the world. However few there are.

Most of the best psychics don't flash themselves around. They're the ones you rarely see on television or see advertisements about in newspapers. They're modest and sometimes doubt their ability. They're humble. They're normal or a little goofy. They welcome technology and scientific verification. And best of all, they're great company.

Still, many psychics will occasionally have issues with my methods. I don't blindly trust people to tell me the truth. I need proof and validation. I want to rule out natural phenomena and mental illness. I want to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a real reason to investigate a haunting. And if someone rids a place of a spirit without this validation, what proof will there ever be that there was something there in the first place? Is it really necessary to evict every single ghost on the planet? Is the role of a psychic a landlord and housekeeper?

I can't help my rational mind. I walk a very thin line. I'm open to things beyond normal human perception yet I need my five senses to be appeased and alerted. Without both sides of the spectrum, all we are is a bunch of freaks wandering around in the darkness with flashlights. And that's all we'll ever be to the world.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Diligently Following the Campaign Treasure Trail...

With the US presidential campaigns finally kicking into high gear, there was bound to be some controversies and allegations sooner or later. Barack Obama is edging out Hillary Clinton for Democratic nominee. And now, a man has come forward with allegations of Obama's recent past, only to be ignored by mainstream media.

What's the fuss all about? Oh, nothing serious. Just that Obama smoked crack cocaine and received oral sex from a man in 1999.

A man named Larry Sinclair recently came forward with this bold statement. He posted a YouTube video concerning the matter and claims that soon afterward, Obama and the Democratic National Committee began threatening and intimidating him. He went so far as to file a lawsuit against them on February 11th.

According to Sinclair, the incident took place in his limousine. He also stated that the then-Illinois legislator purchased powdered cocaine for him. They then proceeded to a hotel where... well, you can fill in the rest with your imagination.

Is the story true? We should find out before the March 4th primary elections. Sinclair was paid $10,000 for his story by and they are administering a polygraph test on February 26th. If the test results show he is telling the truth, he'll be given an extra $100,000 by the news agency.

Could this damage Obama's campaign? Of course. But even if the allegations are true, at least he opted to have a sex scandal before entering the Oval Office...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

All That You Will See Is a Celebrity...

So many people in the world claim to know (or even to have slept with) a celebrity. people make bold statements, often to be ridiculed by others online and in real life. To say that you know someone famous is to be arrogant or showy. Of course, it's not always true. Sometimes, knowing someone with some level of fame happens by sheer coincidence. Sometimes, it's not all the glamour people think it is.

Long ago, in high school, I was involved with singing and acting. Some people, such as myself, simply used it as a fun social outlet. Others had aspirations of stardom. When you're young, no one really expects any of their peers to make it anywhere. it's just a dream that most likely leads to table-waiting jobs in New York City. That reality is always in the back of your mind.

One of my classmates seemed to have the acting bug. We weren't close by any stretch of the imagination. He was the nice kid who treated me fairly. The one who leaned in close to me during choir to make sure he was on the right note. Eye candy for a shy, quiet boy yet to come out of his shell.School came and went. Years passed by. And then came the fateful day, watching an Absolutely Fabulous marathon on Comedy Central. A commercial flashed across the screen as I was getting something to drink. That voice. It sounded so familiar. But no, it couldn't be...

But it was.

A few years later, I was browsing for new movies. I stopped cold. There was that face staring back at me again. The movie was Camp. I grabbed a copy and watched it. I laughed and fidgeted. Daniel Letterle really had made it.

A few more years went by. A few more movies. The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green. Monster Island. I heard through the grapevine that he had returned home to Ohio and was living relatively nearby after a bit of a rough time in Los Angeles. On a whim, I emailed him. A while later, I finally heard back.

During the summer of 2007, we became reacquainted again. Living only a mile away, it was quite convenient having a new-found friend for socializing. We laughed, commiserated, and watched movies. We even plotted out a comedy script. I learned perhaps more than we care to learn about our friends. We had moments of disagreement, sometimes bordering love-hate. His life became rougher and had a few down slides. We stepped away for a few months, losing contact.

On November 14th, 2007, I was out with fellow ghost hunters having dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse in Akron, Ohio. As we waited to be seated, I saw him waiting tables. At first, I wasn't sure what to say so I said nothing. Finally, an hour later, I caught his attention. He seemed different in a positive sense. He didn't have that facade anymore. He wasn't pretending to be anyone. He actually seemed happy... stable. We talked briefly and said we'd get back in touch. We still haven't caught up on life and news.

Sometimes, people hold actors and other celebrities on a pedestal. We think them to be impervious to pain, emotion, and thought. In reality, they're just the same as all of us. They have hard times. They make mistakes. They try to seem happy when they're screaming on the inside. They feel confused about themselves and their lives. But they're human too. Beneath that tough exterior built up by the harshness of Hollywood, they're just like the rest of us.

I always had a difficult time thinking of Dan as a "celebrity". He was just Dan: the goofball kid who tried making other people laugh and be happy. The boy with the slight exhibitionist streak who would wander around before high school plays in nothing but a pair of white briefs, simply for the shock value. The guy with hopes and dreams, and deep down, a heart of gold. He's not a meal ticket or a toy. He's just someone who, all frustration aside, I still consider a friend. And like most friends I've known, we lose touch now and then.
Wherever he is now, whomever he's with, and whatever he's doing, I do hope he's happy. And perhaps our paths will cross again some day...

It's Not Officially a Party Until...

Another crazy and interesting night gone.

Last night was a surprise birthday party for a psychic friend. Believe me, it's no small feat to surprise a psychic! She had a feeling that something was up, but we convinced her she was wrong for at least 25 minutes. Not too bad, I must say.

There was pizza, games, and tons of laughter. We can be an odd bunch at times. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, even if some of the biggest laughs were at the expense of others. Nothing too vicious, mind you. But who can't laugh when margarita comes out someone's nose?

After watching the new episode of Paranormal State, we decided to take some photographs for the ghost hunting website. Some people were picky about their photos, others could care less. Of course, being tall, I suggested getting down on my knees to make it easier. My friend Bill had to make a snide comment about that... but we all laughed at the irony. I even caught a chuckle coming from the quiet straight man/pro wrestler in the corner of the room. I couldn't tell if he blushed... he's too tan!

A few group photos were taken on the couch, as well as a comedic picture of Bill, Chris, and I pretending to be a flamboyant gay ghost-hunting trio. I would post it here, but I'm still waiting to get a copy... perhaps that will be another entry later this week when I have nothing of any consequence to say...

The evening finally wrapped up around midnight. We all headed for home, exhausted. I checked email one final time and curled up in bed.

I still have much to accomplish today. Either I'm insanely busy or bored to tears. Everything should slow down by the weekend, and I'm actually looking forward to the peace and quiet...

Monday, February 18, 2008

There's Something Queer About That Old, Spooky House...

I can't help it. It's nearly impossible to be a gay man and not try to find a gay slant to nearly everything.

Even the paranormal.

When I first started investigating the supernatural, I still felt quite alone. I was a teenager in a small town, battling my own demons and shame while searching for dead people in the darkness. Actually, that's what drew me further into the world of ghosts and hauntings: they seemed so sad. So misunderstood. So feared and hated for no good reason. They were viewed how I felt I was being viewed. They just needed someone to listen. Like me.

Then came the other investigators. Many were devoutly religious and "of a high moral fiber" (meaning Bible-thumping tyrants). Some were very nice, though, and very accepting. And as time went on, I stumbled across one or two who were 'family'. At least I wasn't the only gay in the village anymore...

I've come to realize that there are many gays and lesbians in the field, scattered across the country (we really are everywhere!) and many were just as shocked to find out they weren't alone.

But that wasn't quite good enough for me. It lead to another question: are there any gay ghosts?

Obviously, there had to be. The world of the dead can't be all straight! Right?

In fact, I was right. I have found stories. I've even been compiling notes for a book on the subject.

So, where are these queer spooks, you say? Just look around the globe and you'll find them. Corpsewood Manor, tucked away in a remote section of Tennessee, is allegedly haunted by a gay couple who were murdered for worshiping Satan (hmm... what better way to rationalize a hate crime than making the victims sound like terrible people). A well-known bar in New Orleans, Cafe Lafitte's in Exile, is rumored to be the favored watering hole of long-dead writers Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote. There's even a haunted gay bar in Italy!

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

To be honest, I'm dying of curiosity to see these places for myself and investigate the spirits which inhabit them. It's not simply because of the gay content. The tales themselves are just plain fascinating to me. Though I will admit, the fact that they involve gay characters does make it more intriguing.

We may not have the right to marry, but we do still have the right to haunt the bastards who've bashed us!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Unpatriotic Tendencies...

I often think I was born in the wrong country.

I'm not a church-going Christian. I don't salivate over an automobile (or even care for them). I agree with Socialist views. I can't stand NASCAR and barely tolerate American Football. I detest handguns. I believe in the importance of historical preservation.

Joseph McCarthy would have had me burnt at the stake.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not part of some underground militia movement. I just don't see the "greatness" of a bankrupt, arrogant country run by idiots. I constantly hear that "America is the greatest country in the world", but where's the proof? What evidence backs that up? Has anyone who says these things actually read a newspaper in the past decade?

Probably not. They're too busy drinking beer, watching NASCAR, bitching about the price of gas as they fill up their Hummers, and waving that flag to bother reading anything aside from the welfare check they received in the mail.

I know I sound overly cynical, but at times, I can't help it. No, I don't think all of America is stupid. Still, ignorance in this country is more widespread than the Black Death... and unfortunately, there aren't enough casualties. If you look at our origins, it's a shame to see what we've become: a herd of cattle trudging along in our daily lives and gabbing about American Idol and YouTube. You know: the important things.

Sometimes, I see this country in the same light as I view the first class passengers of the Titanic. The ship is going down but who cares? Someone should be shoveling the ice off the deck. Rounding up the undesirable steerage passengers and putting them back into their coral. Fetching another glass of wine instead of worrying about lifejackets. After all, she's unsinkable. Isolationism rules!

We forget how difficult it was to create the vast experiment now known as the United States of America. And that’s what we still are: an experiment. We’ve grown comfortable even though we are a very young country. Instead of heeding the advice of our predecessors, we forge ahead like a reckless teenager. We know everything. Parents are stupid.

I’ll admit that everything about America isn’t junk. There are plenty of good qualities: freedoms, liberties, independences. Things we take for granted and forget are always in jeopardy. Ideals believed in so highly that our soil is stained by the blood of our ancestors in their pursuit of these goals.

But if that hallowed ground comes in the way of a new Super Wal-Mart, it’s not so important. We can’t let those things get in the way of progress, right?

I think that’s by biggest issue with this country: we’re apathetic. In the safety of our small, cloaked world, we ignore the things which truly upset or endanger us. We gripe about the high cost of gas when we pay less than most of the world and remain helplessly dependent on fossil fuels. We moan about politicians yet many Americans don’t vote or protest to change the status quo. We whine about jobs lost overseas yet buy everything we can that’s manufactured in China. We’re complainers, not doers.

I do hold out some hope for this country. I’m not that much of a pessimist. Yet before things begin to change, they must become increasingly worse. We believe some things are worth fighting for only when we have no other option. And by then, the internal struggle to regain the America we once knew will rage on for decades.

I may be around for that battle. Or I may have moved on to more foreign surroundings. Either way, it will be interesting to watch it all unravel on Fox News.

Too bad phoning in a vote won’t really matter.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The New "Ghost Show" in Town...

So, I'm a bit behind the times. I barely watch television anymore, so I'm ignorant when it comes to the latest show episodes... though I usually try to keep up-to-date on what is actually out there. Finally on Thursday evening, I had a chance to watch the new A&E series, Paranormal State.

All I had known of it was heresay. Positive remarks. Negative feedback. Praise. Bitching. I reserved comment until experiencing it for myself, and just like many other shows I do have positive and negative views of it. Overall, though, I do think it's one of the better paranormal shows on television.

I truly wish I had taken the initiative and created a paranormal student group at Kent State when I was attending there. Kudos to these people for making the bold step. Their main goal is helping people, as it should be. They occasionally use psychics, though the group leader Ryan Buell admits he's very skeptical of psychics. He also combines religion with his work. These are my points where I skew in two different directions.

Psychics: everyone has an opinion of them. From Miss Cleo and Sylvia Brown to John Edwards and Chip Coffey. They're everywhere. They sometimes make bold statements. And often, there's a lack of definitive proof behind their statements (not by all of them, mind you... though no psychic has more than 60% accuracy on average). It's a touchy subject and I try to remain neutral on matters of psychics. I'm open to their thoughts and ideas, yet I need something firm to grasp on to before trusting any one psychic at their word.

And of course, the ever-debated religion. Buell wonders why so many paranormal investigators shy away from religion. I can't speak for all of them, but personally I have many reasons: my own questioning about who is right about what (I don't think any one religion has all the right answers), past interactions with different religions (mainly religious jealots who attached certain stigmas in my mind about some religions, though I never allow that to turn to hatred or closed-mindedness), and sensitivity. The latter is my main concern when I've done my own investigations. Different people (be them group members, clients, ghosts, etc.) have differing religious views. I don't like to step on toes or offend people by using one denimonation over another. Sure, religious beliefs may come in to play. They may explain why a spirit acts how he or she does or why a client is upset. But if there's no religious affiiation (or a client is athiest), is it right to enforce a view? Must everyone have a label? A scarlet letter?

Aside from this, I think the show is truly worth watching. Bringing in counselors and psychologists is an astounding step that more groups should consider. There's more than just the spirirual world being effected and it takes different approaches. It's not just about gathering evidence, praying, and going home. Some people need other forms of help. Help outside of the supernatural realm. We aren't here to make people feel better by hearing what they want to hear: we're here to make things right how they need to be put right.

Of course, the good folks at Penn State PRS welcome dicsussions and debates. More of us need to be open to these things. How can we ever expect to learn if we don't converse more and let our differences mingle? Does anyone know the whole story? Isn't sharing information and experimenting what this profession is really about anyway?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bake Me a Cake as Fast as You Can...

They say it's the thought that counts.

When you're a perfectionist, little things like that are worse than a mosquito buzzing in your ear.

I should have learned my lesson from Chef Duff at Charm City Cakes: buy pre-made frosting. But no, silly me... I ignore the negative reviews of the recipe and charge forth. The cake itself came out wonderfully. Making the rolled fondant frosting last night instead of today? Well, that was a bad decision. As was using all the powdered sugar called for. And substituting simple syrup for corn syrup. And trying to be different and unique instead of simple and plain.

Still, with the hours of aggrivation, I will admit it does look like it's intended replication. I still have 5 more hours to worry about a few small details. I don't foresee any major disasters, though they wouldn't surprise me. Still, it's just cake. All that matters is that it tastes good and shows some thought and care. After a few cocktails, everything looks better anyway, right?

In about 7 hours, all will be forgotten. The cake will be a devoured pile of crumbs and a memory to laugh about. After all, it really is the thought that counts, right?

Happy birthday, Bill. I hope it's one of the best ones yet!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Love Is (Or Isn't) in the Air...

It's that time of year again. February 14th is tomorrow.

Depending on who you are, one of several thoughts come to mind: the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, spending time with the one you love, giving or receiving roses and chocolates, or loathing the reminder that you're still single.

This year, my Valentine's Day will be spent in a different way: celebrating my friend Bill's birthday.

It's a day of mixed emotions for me. While I do cherish my friendship and know I'll have a good time with good people, it won't be a stereotypical holiday for me. There will be no dozen roses. There will be no cards... no boxes of chocolates. No, there won't be that kiss or those three words everyone longs to hear.

Then again, I've never had a Valentine's Day similar to those fantasies.

Last year, I was just becoming single again around this time. Some people might think of that as a sad moment, but for me it was a relief. The rocky three-year relationship had taken its toll on me and my life. I felt more boxed in than a Whitman's Sampler. Now, I'm free or that episode of my life. But with that freedom comes a certain amount of loneliness and resentment.

Everyone wants to be loved. Some people go to extremes to have it. During moments of desperation, we forsake our own happiness... our individuality... for a pair of arms to wrap around us and feel momentarily comforted. We forget the negative aspects of bad relationships in the hope that there is a silver lining to the dark, gloomy cloud.

We forget what love is.

Love isn't about gifts of roses and chocolate. It isn't candlelit dinners for two. It isn't a house with 2.5 children and a white picket fence. Love is comfort. It's not needing to explain yourself a million times or striving for that little reassuring word or action. It's unconditional support and nurturing. It can't be wrapped with a bow. It can't be asked for.

In my life, I have felt love. I have been in love. Though it can be fleeting at times, it's always a possibility... but never a guarantee. I honestly believe everyone has a chance at love if they keep themselves open to the possibility. It just happens.

Tomorrow, I'll be surrounded by it. Perhaps not love in the romantic sense, but in that of true friendship. Sometimes, we all forget that our friends hold a certain level of love for us and that kind of love is far less fragile. I may not be arm and arm with my soul mate, but that doesn't mean it has to be a miserable day. Good friends, good music, good food. Perhaps a cocktail. That's far better than an evening alone with one person whom you know isn't right for you and you pray won't have another violent outburst.

If you're involved with that special someone, be sure to let them know tomorrow just how much they mean to you. If you're not, remember that you still have people in your life willing to shower love on you if you give them the time of day. Perhaps if you keep that positive outlook, you just might find yourself dangerously close to someone perfect for you before the night is over...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Call Me Now, for Your Free Paranormal Investigation!

I'll warn you now... I'll try my best to post an entry about last night without sounding too bitchy or sarcastic, but I may not succeed...

Bill, Chris, and I arrived at the private residence around 7:30. Of course, being there early is what I prefer. It gives the impression that you care and actually think something is important enough to set aside the time. Sure, sometimes people are occasionally late, but generally I think early is the best way to be.

Of course, it's only my opinion. Some people spend their lives determined to be late without a care about it.

Oops.. bitterness seeping in... better not let that negativity influence things... Oops! There I go again being sarcastic! Oh no!

The owner arrived around 8:00 PM, which was fine, considering the nice warm 11°F (-12°C) weather was perfect for a casual stroll down the lane. We amused ourselves by cracking jokes and keeping as sane as humanly possible, which is never a major feat in good company. The investigation was apparently scheduled for 8:15, and the last half of the gang arrived at around 8:21. It was a very lovely house... sparse, but in an elegant way.

We broke up into pairs and solos, scattering between the basement and 3rd floors with very little equipment and more psychics than a Montel Williams episode. I started in the basement with my camcorder and worked my way up to the 3rd floor. I would have loved to have spent some quality time in a few of the rooms by myself or with one other person, but I didn't quite have much luck with that. I thought I saw something in one of the rooms and a name popped into my head, but I'm very hesitant to claim any psychic abilities, so I just wrote it off as possible coincidence.

I was interested in trying to find something to film that could be definitive and paranormal. That was my goal. Though I haven't yet reviewed the tape, my hopes aren't very high. Instead, I ended up feeling more like the cameraman dragged around by the reporter to film a piece and go home. I snapped a few photographs... captured a few "dust orbs" and sat and watched, basking in the glory of expertise the likes of which the world has never known...

There I go again. I'm a bad man... I know.

The evening was ended with a makeshift seance to send some spirit or two 'toward the light'... though the comment was made that no need to verify the names historically were really needed... some people just know things are facts. Like thunderstorms being angry gods fighting in heaven.

Stop it! You're being bad again, hands!

After a house blessing with white sage, which sounded a bit like this:

We bless this house in the name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
This house is blessed by the blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
I command any presences to leave in the name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
The Lord, Jesus Christ, is my Lord.
I'm bosom buddies with Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Our Lord, Jesus Christ, saved tons of money by switching to Geico Auto Insurance.
Everything I do, I do it for you, Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ!

... we finally made the long snowy journey home. I was exhausted. So were Bill and Chris. I crashed, only to be woken up at 7:30 AM by the downstairs dog barking up a storm. I wished I weren't so against firearms at that moment.

I will say that the investigation was unlike anything I'm accustomed to. Yes, it had its interesting moments, but perhaps I've always dealt with a more scientific rationale and view of things. Silly me for paying attention to Arthur Conan Doyle as a child: "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the solution." Bollocks to that... what was I thinking?

No, I'm not saying that I think all psychics are hacks. Far from it. I have very dear friends who call themselves 'psychic', and some of them are good people with the best of intentions. of course, on the opposite end are the arrogant, pompous people who either deem themselves to be deities or omnipotent beings, high above the rest of the world. if there's one thing I truly hate it's arrogance. That and inflicting your personal views on others without the decency to even ask if they want to hear it. It's just as bad as ignorance... if not worse.

Some people will read this and laugh. Some will understand where I'm coming from. Others will scoff and be insulted. Of course, I know that probably the wrong people will view it as an insult. If you're a good friend of mine and ghost hunter with psychic abilities and you feel insulted, odds are it's not intentional. By that I mean Chris or Bill. LOL

As for a few other people I know who might stumble across this... well, it's open season... and I'm hunting wabbit.... hehehehehehehe.....