Saturday, May 31, 2008

Running on Empty...

In case you hadn't noticed, I haven't felt too much like blogging much lately. I've just been feeling a bit worn out and drained lately with so many things. Not in a negative way, just in the sense of feeling exhausted.

Last night, the paranormal group had a bit of a meeting. Though we all decided to remain friends, we reached an agreement that it might be best to split off and form two separate groups, based on region. It isn't easy for everyone to travel to everything and many of us have different views and opinions. So instead of risking the loss of friendships, we'll act as two separate entities... and then get together here and there to spend time as friends. One thing I have learned in life is mixing business with friendship or anything else for that matter is never easy... and often ends in disaster. But I'd rather lose a business associate than a friend.

After a very late dinner at the Boneyard, we watched Big Gay Sketch Show until around 3:30 AM. I had a difficult time getting to sleep, and had to be up early this morning. I made it home, tried staying awake, but felt too sick from the lack of sleep. I took a long nap in the afternoon. I feel somewhat rejuvenated, but still not quite human.

Still, I have a feeling a nice cool shower will do wonders...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Queer Paranormal Road Trip: Trax Bar

Known for being the "gay mecca" of the world, San Francisco is rich with history. The infamous Haight-Ashbury neighborhood saw the rise of the "hippie culture" in the 1960s... and has its share of spooks.

Right on Haight Street, you can find Trax Bar, a local gay watering hole in the middle of it all dating back to 1974. With it's "easy to get to, hard to leave" slogan, you can tell it's worth a visit. The drinks come cheap and the fun never ends. Yet there seems to be other spirits in this establishment, beyond those shelved behind the bar.

The bar itself dates back to the 1940s, when it was known as The Question Mark Cocktail Lounge. An old photograph discovered by workers hangs in the foyer, showing the original pub during the one-year anniversary. When the owner saw the picture, he noticed something familiar about it. He had seen the man who was pointing at the camera before... inside the bar.

There have been haunting rumors surrounding Trax for quite some time. Customers and employees have reported strange sightings. An ethereal man has been seen sitting at the end of the bar, watching the patrons. The same apparition has been spotted walking through the bar, into the office, and out the door. He doesn't seem to be an unfriendly presence, just a casual observer.

Perhaps a former patron who loved the atmosphere? Or even an old manager who refuses to leave?

Nevertheless, Trax has earned a spot on the Haunted Haight ghost tour and has more than it's share of visitors. If you can get beyond the drink specials, drag queens, and loud music, you just might find yourself face to face with the mysterious figure yourself.

Either way, you're guaranteed to have a good time!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fortunes, Forecasts,... and Homoscopes...

What do the stars hold in store for you?

Even though most of us take astrology with a grain of salt and treat it solely as a source of entertainment, it can be quite a fascinating pseudo-science. Most of us would like to believe there is some order to the cosmos as well as our own lives. Yet traditional horoscopes seem to lack that one thing: a gay slant.

Believe it or not, there have been many gay and lesbian astrologers over the years. And I'm not talking about Miss Cleo.

Still today, you can find them anywhere on the web. One of the best resources is AstroQueer. It's a free site jam-packed full of anything and everything astrology-related for the GLBT community at large. And then there's Homostrology, another online site featuring gay horoscopes.

Personally, I've been visiting AstroBarry over the past few weeks for a little amusement. He's quite an amusing (and often funny) individual... and his weekly forecasts are certainly worth a read.

And sometimes, a little too uncanny.

Here's a brief excerpt of this week's Aries horoscope. I think it's quite fitting to some parts of my life!

"The jumping-off point from last week's horoscope that I want to begin with is the idea of getting up and walking away, should you find that some shit-stirrer or drama-queen wants to drag you into their shit or drama. The moment you begin to sense traces of a ridiculously irrelevant power struggle brewing, that's your cue to move it along. And why stay put, Aries? With all the people and possibilities out there, there's no real need to overstay your welcome in any one place—particularly if it's just not very friendly. Perpetual social motion is one of your best pals this week, to be sure..."

If you're really into astrology, check out the books Queer Astrology for Menand Queer Astrology for Womenas well...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Death of a Sorcerer...

An 18-year-old was fatally stabbed Saturday in South-East London after an altercation over mobile phones.

The victim was Robert Knox, who was at Metro Bar that night celebrating the end of filming on Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Knox played alongside Daniel Radcliffe as Ravensclaw student Marcus Belby in the new film and had recently signed to appear in the sequel.

Only a week earlier, Knox had confronted the man and told him to stop stealing his friend's mobile phones. Several friends who intervened also received stab wounds and were treated for their wounds. Police and witnesses believe Knox was targeted because he was defending his friends.

This marks the 14th teenager murdered in London this year.

Friends and family members have been leaving flowers and small memorials at the scene of the crime this week.

They're Chasing Amy...

Some people believe that Amy Winehouse is in serious need of an exorcism. Amazingly, they just might be right...

According to news reports, Winehouse fled her North London flat early Thursday morning. She was terrified... and had scratches on her arms (well, other than the usual ones we would assume). She has told friends that she refuses to return to her home until it has been exorcised.

Winehouse believes the ghost of a little boy who may have died in the flat haunts it. She has told friends that she believes he has brought in other ethereal friends who wish to harm her. It all originates in the spare room she was planning to redecorate, with it's "creepy airplane wallpaper".

For now, she is staying at a Chelsea Harbour hotel.

Nevermind that she was caught on camera smoking crack not too long ago. These ghosts must be real...

... and they might want her to do heroin.

Buy Your Own Bottled Spirits?

Most of us prefer to buy bottled spirits at a liquor store. But now, you can buy a different form of bottled spirits online.

Jon Deese of St. Augustine, Florida is selling bottles. What's in them? Well, ghosts... or so he claims. He says he contracts with "ghost catchers" from around the country who catch spooks in bottles which he offers on his website, Ghost in a Bottle.

"They’ll go in and catch them from haunted establishments, cars, hotels, maybe even graveyards," says Deese.

How do they get them in there? That's a good question... and not one that Deese is willing to elaborate on. But he does tell his customers to open them at their own risk. While some say it makes for a nice conversation piece, others have claimed unusual activity when they opened the bottle.

Twenty dollars for a haunting? Surely it's a bargain price.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Supernatural Spotlight: Dougall Fraser

Is there such a thing as a gay clairvoyant? The answer is yes more often than you may think. And one of the better-known gay psychics is Dougall Fraser.

Fraser lead a very different life from most people. He realized at an early age that what he could see was different than others around him. At the age of 8, he gave his first psychic reading. Over the years, he studied massage, psychology, meditation and healing to build on his abilities. He left New Jersey for Dallas, Texas in hopes of becoming a massage therapist. Those plans fell through, but his psychic work gained momentum. By the time he was 20, he was voted Best Psychic in Dallas.

Being 6'6" tall, overweight, gay, and a psychic made for turbulent teenage years. Yet Fraser learned to cope as many of us do through humor and a positive outlook. In 2005, he wrote down the memoirs of his earlier years in the book But You Knew That Already: What a Psychic Can Teach You About Life. He may not be any older than I am, but from the sound of it, he has lived enough to fill a book!

Fraser now calls Los Angeles home, where he moved with his husband David last year. He is still a popular psychic consultant. He was featured on X Zone Radio in April and will be traveling back to Texas and New York City in the coming months.

Whether or not you believe in psychic ability, he is certainly a fascinating individual. And of course, if you're in the market for a clairvoyant, he's certainly someone worth checking out...

These Boots Were Made for Walking...

What a looong weekend.

Friday evening, I went hiking with a small group at Indigo Lake in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It was another late-night haunted hike... and I finally crawled into bed around 1:30 AM.

Saturday was another busy day. After keeping busy all morning, I went for a walk with Bill, Evelyn, Natasha and Robin in Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland. We started out in the Garfield Monument, viewing President Garfield's tomb, climbing the stone spiral staircase, and enjoying the view. Trust me, it's not a small cemetery. I do believe we walked a few miles and we didn't even see the entire graveyard. And somehow, we managed to avoid most easy inclines and stairs, choosing instead to walk up and down the steepest part of the many hills. By the end, my feet were sore and I was feeling dehydrated.

Evelyn, Bill and I stopped at Tommy's in Coventry for a healthy dinner and browsed a few shops. I haven't visited that area of Cleveland in years, but it was just as nice as I remembered it. Plenty of interesting people to look at... and a bit of eyecandy as well.

We returned to Bill's for a few strawberry mudslides, movies, and a very late-night game of Trivial Pursuit. I crashed around 3:00 AM.

Sunday was a late start. I mowed Bill's lawn while he did laundry (with a manual reel push mower, mind you) and collapsed on the couch downing water like crazy. It was quite warm outside, yet we still went for a bike ride at Cuyahoga Community College. I wasn't on my customary bicycle so between the blister from the mower and the seat hurting my rear, I only did one loop around campus. after pizza, I went home again, exhausted. I'm still a bit sore today!

I won't complain, though. It was a nice weekend to be outdoors. It seems that the weather is finally improving... hopefully for good.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Dead Disco Drama Queens...

A creepy old, run-down house and a young straight couple. Sounds like an A-typical Hollywood horror movie, right?

Not quite.

A French film titled Poltergay changes everything. Homeowner Mark is awakened by loud disco music only he can hear. Winged penises appear on walls, bare butts poke through walls, and a polariod camera snaps a picture of him in the shower. Yet his wife Emma and his best friend don't notice anything out of the ordinary. Apparently, 27 years prior, there was an explosion at a gay nightclub at the same site. Five of the victims now haunt the house!

Yes, it is intended to be a comedy. The characters are stereotypical and the storyline intriguing. If you can get beyond the subtitles, be sure to check it out! Of course, finding a copy of it might not be very easy... I have yet to locate the 2006 film on DVD.

Check out the trailer for yourself:

Bend It Like Beckham?

Sometimes, it's the little things in life that make it more amusing. And sometimes, we all need a little giggle to make our day better.

British comedian James Corden decided that a classic image of David Beckham from an underwear ad could be done a little better...

Heat Magazine gave us all a peek this week.

Here is the original photo:

And here's Corden's rendition:

Friday, May 23, 2008

Queer Paranormal Road Trip: Carluccio's Tivoli Gardens

If you're looking for fine dining in Las Vegas, be sure to check out Carluccio's Tivoli Gardens. And you might just have a paranormal encounter during your stay!

The restaurant opened it's doors in 1983 and was designed and owned by famed pianist Liberace (few people realize he loved to cook... he even wrote a few cookbooks). Woodwork in the English Lounge was imported by him from a pub in London. And if you're at all curious, the Liberace Museum which opened on April 15th, 1979 is right next door.

Most of the original interior of the eatery remains untouched, including Liberace's private lounge. While he was alive, he would use the room to quietly slip into the main dining area and play piano to the delight of the diners.

Some say he still enjoys doing a little entertaining in his former restaurant. Many patrons have reported seeing his apparition in the dining area. Electrical disturbances are often reported throughout the restaurant. On one such occasion, the power went off in the entire building on Liberace's birthday until the entire staff sang 'Happy Birthday' to him (electricians found no problems with the wiring afterward). And then there's the ladies bathroom, where guests have complained of doors locking and unlocking by themselves.

I wonder if he still is looking for his brother George...

Let's Get Metaphysical...

And so tonight, after grabbing a quick bite to eat with Bill, Evelyn and I once more ventured to the weekly meeting at Heavenly Hardware. it has become a pleasant escape from monotony and life's little insane moments. Best of all, it's a very fun-loving, welcoming environment... free of harsh opinions and belittling comments. You can honestly speak your mind on any possible topic, and it will only be met with opened ears... and perhaps a little off-the-wall humour.

We revisited the world of Reiki massage after prolonged introductions (I finally had an opportunity to speak about last week's odd dream though) and met with a few new faces. Pagans, atheists, and mixed believers alike all enjoyed the diversity. We spent some time meditating while listening to Native American chanting music,which was an unusual experience in itself. And then it was my turn.

Mike Reikied me. And it felt good.

He is quite good with his hands, you know.

If you have never given Reiki a try, I highly recommend it. Perhaps it is merely your subconscious mind at work, but I did feel relieved and relaxed afterward. We each chose a gemstone and waited for the others to finish. I held a pale blue fluorite stone. A blue feather popped into my mind. Though I need to seek out the meaning behind the symbolism still, one other member of the group did find the possible Blue Jay feather to be quite significant, in relation to her departed father.

Coincidence? Only The Shadow knows...

As is often the case, I left in high spirits. As a teenager, I was intrigued by metaphysics. I had a gigantic collection of gemstones. I explored chakras, psi phenomena, astral projection, and other sundries. I occasionally burnt incense. I felt very much at peace with the world, in the most tumultuous time of my life.

Perhaps Evelyn is right. Maybe I should reawaken that curious child within myself and begin exploring that often forgotten and belittled aspect of the supernatural world. It may be just a bunch of hocus pocus to some, but but we all have to believe in something to make the world a more tolerable place...

...don't we?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Not Your Typical Tarot...

Tarot cards and playing cards have the same origins from early Europe. The earliest surviving painted Tarot deck comes from 15th Century Milan, Italy. Records indicate a deck was first used for divination of the future in the mid 1700s and remains a popular fortune-telling method.

We all have a picture in our minds when we envision these divination cards, but they have become extremely diverse. Aside from the most popular Rider-Waite deck, cards exist depicting and centered around angels, Native Americans, gemstones, astrology, baseball, Wicca, animals, gummy bears, vampires, and many others.

And then, there are the gay tarot decks.

The Original Gay Tarot started it all. Created by Paul Chirumbolo, the deck was designed to "help gay men live and love and learn and grow by touching into the unique sources of creativity found within themselves." Its images combine both traditional and digital media, and has a companion book: THE Original GAY TAROT: Everything You Need To Know About Sex, Money, Power, Love and the Secrets of the Universe.

More widely known is Gay Tarot by Lee Bursten and Antonella Palatano. The deck replaces traditional male-female archetypes with symbols of male homosexual unions. It is also the product of Llewelyn Publications, a well-known and well-respected New Age company carrying a diverse range of occult and Wiccan books.

There is also the Brotherhood Tarot. This deck is limited to an edition of 2500 copies. The images are a combination of mythology and gay history, representing a more "Radical Faerie" influence.

And that is just a small sampling. various other gay tarot decks can be found all over the web. If you prefer a deck that is more gay and lesbian inclusive, there is also The Cosmic Tribe Tarot.

Regardless of your opinions on divination methods, it's a fascinating aspect of the paranormal realm. And some of the illustrations are quite lovely as well...

Nothing to be Frightened of...

A haunted house is up for sale in Waikanae, New Zealand this week.

Well, okay... it's not really haunted. Only in the movies.

Richmond Hall has one major claim to fame: it was one of the filming locations for Peter Jackson's 1996 movie, The Frighteners. The five-bedroom neo-Georgian style home, built in 1982, can be seen in the "Flying babies" scene and was also used in other interior shots throughout the feature.

Owners Jill and Noel Phillips say it isn't the paranormal that is driving them from their home of nine years, or even crazed fans. They simply bought another home down the road in Te Horo and plan to relocate soon.

The house is valued at around $680,000 and is expected to sell at or above its value, even with the housing market slump. And this is the final week, so look while you can...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ectoplasmic Excuses...

It seems there is a new trend in criminal defense tactics: blame it on dead people!

In England, Dawood Khan is accused of murdering a Yorkshire College student last year with a cricket bat. He claims no knowledge of the actual crime. Doctors at the Stockton Hall Hospital where he is being held have stated that he believes he was under the influence of "black magic and two ghosts".

Similarly, in Salinas, California, attempted to explain the 1996 drug-related murder of 20-year-old Victor Manuel Gutierrez on a ghost, only to recant his tale later. As his trial approaches, he is now blaming it on another (living) man.

Has this ever been a valid argument, or are people just more desperate to use the insanity defense?

Pansy Power...

What happens when a fairy becomes a bit of a faerie?

This is the question posed by a new musical movie sweeping independent film festivals by storm around the world.

Were the World Mine tells the story of Timothy, a young gay man in the midst of straight America.He spends his time escaping in musical daydreams until a teacher offers him the role of Puck in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. While studying the script, Timothy uncovers a secret spell hidden within the massages, creating a purple love-pansy. He tests it out on rugby jock and secret crush Jonathon before slowly turning his fellow classmates into frolicking fairies. Chaos ensues as his entire town is swept up in the spell... and Timothy shows others what it feels like to walk a mile in his own shoes.

The tale is an expanded version of director Tom Gustafson's short film Fairies and takes what could be yet another typical teen angst drama to new, comedic and musical heights.

You can catch a brief glimpse into the film by watching the following trailer...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Deathly Drab and Ghoulishly Gay?

"The closet is no place for a monster..."

If you think there's no room for campy gay humor in comics, you're wrong. Dead wrong.

The Gay Monsters is a web-based comic created by illustrator and flash animator Andy Bauer. It features a host of undead characters from Twinkle Toad Town, including a zombie drag queen, queeny Frankenstein-esque monster, hunky dead stripper, and jealous mummy. It's a unique blend of cute humor and dead people (and the penis-shaped tombstone is a nice touch...).

Though the comic is only a little over a year old, it's still relatively undiscovered, which is a true shame. If you're looking for a little amusing and funny pick me up, be sure to check it out... and visit the MySpace site!

And now for the preview:

Supernatural Spotlight: John Kachuba

This week, it's time to finally recognize author and fellow Ohioan John Kachuba.

I actually ran across one of Kachuba's books, Ghosthunting Ohio, a few years ago. Regretfully, I missed his nearby book signing in the town of Peninsula, yet we agreed to call it a draw, considering he left out my own paranormal website in the book (he has a good sense of humor about him).

With his Haunted Heartland book series, he has since gone on to cover the state of Illinois and the rest of the United States with his new book, Ghosthunters: On the Trail of Mediums, Dowsers, Spirit Seekers, and Other Investigators of America's Paranormal World. He treats his approach to the paranormal realm with a healthy dose of objective skepticism and a touch of dry wit.

But don't pigeonhole him as a ghost writer. His first books include How to Write Funny and Why is The Job Killing Me?, co-authored by his wife Mary Newman. He holds Creative Writing degrees from Antioch University and has taught courses at Ohio University and the University of Cincinnati. He has been widely published in various magazines and publications and is an instructor with the Gotham Writers Workshop.

So, whether you're looking for a little help with the craft of writing or an interesting supernatural tale, be sure to check out his work. Or even stop by his Cafepress store and pick up some merchandise. He might be coming to a library, bookstore, or radio program near you very soon...

I'm Not Dead Yet...

I know it has been a few days since my last post. I've been feeling a bit under the weather so I've avoided writing. I think it's a combination of a cold, recovering from a long and hectic weekend, and the usual stress which reminds me that I'm alive.

I have a lot on my plate at the moment, and so many things to contemplate. That's without the constant cloudy threat of drama that circles above me. Perhaps I'm getting a little burnt out. But when everything is intertwined like some knotted cord, it's not very easy to separate the positive things from the negative.

I'll be getting back to my regular posts again today. I could use the healthy distraction. With so many things to ponder, it may take forever to mentally sort through the mess and get back on a normal keel. But that's life: one big tornado of plans, dreams, buzzing mosquitoes, and flying cows. As much as I'd like to take shelter in some cellar and wait for everything to blow over, there's simply too much shrapnel flying about to find the latch.

Yet I won't allow that happy bubble of mine to be popped for the sake of meaningless rubbish. Life's too short for it. I just need to find my humour again...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Day Against Hate

Today marks yet another observance of International Day Against Homophobia. It was first designated by Fondation Émergence on June 4, 2003 in Québec, Canada to promote harmonious relationships among people of all orientations, end discrimination, and show the consequences of homophobic acts. It's perfectly fitting for Québec to take this initiative: it was the first province to forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1977. This day marks a time for both celebration and awareness. Though tolerance seems better than in years before, there are still many milestones to pass.

Homophobia comes in many forms: from the casual derogatory use of the words "fag" and "gay" among teenagers to public hangings of homosexuals in various countries. It stems from societal and individual inabilities to grasp differences among people... and in turn, view them as a threat. These beliefs can even lead to internalized homophobia, where gay and lesbian individuals begin to view themselves as inferior or worthless. The self-loathing can eventually lead to suicide.

This year's focus is on health issues, including depression and suicide, blood and organ donations, addiction, and AIDS. Medical institutions and employers still have been known to discriminate against individuals based on hiv status and sexuality. People still equate AIDS with homosexuality. And the risk of suicide in both teenagers and adults hasn't ended.

We can all do our part to help end the hate. Encourage teachers and employers to discuss homophobia. Ask businesses, organizations, newspapers, and media sources to publicize this day and make a firm stand on tolerance. Contact your political representatives and tell them to support diversity and follow through on past promises. Persuade parents to talk openly and non-judgmentally about homosexuality with their kids. Find the courage to "come out" in some way and let others know they aren't alone.

Or just feel free to kiss someone in public...