Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Unskilled Labors...

Insult has been added to injury for me this week. I have been once more turned down for work. The required job components? Excellent research abilities, writing fluently, and good typing skills.

Oh, the irony of it all...

Some weeks really are better than others. Sometimes, it feels like the universe just wants to bitchslap you so hard that you fall backward and are knocked unconscious. But hey, that could just be my high stress level talking.

Otherwise, it's been a hot, muggy, and moody week for me. A little something positive would be nice right now. Still, I remain optimistic as often as possible. Optimism is often the only driving force we have left.

I did get out to enjoy the peaceful serenity of a berry farm this week, picking blueberries in a field where the warm, breezy atmosphere was interrupted but once by the incessant twitter of a mobile phone. For a while, I longed for the simplicity and plainness of the pioneer era. We often make our lives more difficult than they're supposed to be. Keeping up with the Joneses and grabbing for the latest in high-tech, low-imagination gadgetry.

We often think of those early settlers as being backward and dim-witted, but I can't shake the thought that they had more brains than we do. They could handle basic life without a microwave or plasma screen television. Reading and creative storytelling were actual forms of entertainment. There was no need to panic over an energy crisis or fuel consumption, since horses and the hay they eat are both renewable resources. It might have taken two years to build a house, but in 50 years you knew it would still be standing.

My friend Chris mentioned a few times he has always felt he was born in the wrong time. Perhaps I share that vision, though my proper decade predates his by miles. I really adore the works of Mark Twain, as well as his wit and humor, and there are those moments when I wish I could fall asleep beneath a tree and wake up back then, as a slight variation of his A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

Perhaps it's why I feel a sudden nostalgia for classic American literature. Twain. Bierce. Hawthorne. Irving. Poe. Some of the best, brightest, and warped minds of a forgotten age.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Undead and Proud...

Who would've known that gay zombies would be such a popular cinematic theme?

Gay Zombie is another strange comedy about life... and being undead. Miles, a zombie in West Hollywood, is feeling sexually confused and is in counseling. He meets Todd and becomes smitten. But can Miles reconcile his taste for human flesh... and horrible skin problems?

I actually caught the tail end of this film a while ago. Nothing like watching the last 15 minutes of a film like this to leave you utterly bewildered...

Check out the trailer:

Monday, July 28, 2008

No Man is an Island...

For quite some time now, I have felt the rumblings of a broadening schism in my life. I feel isolated and secluded, not merely in the physical sense, but in more metaphorical and philosophical terms as well. The chasm is intangible, psychological, yet has the same effect on the psyche as gazing out across the Grand Canyon.

I remember peering into a parking lot weeks ago, seeing pigeons clustered together seeking out food. On the fringe of the flock stood a few gulls, standing out like a sore thumb. Segregated by differences.

I can relate entirely.

I feel greatly disassociated from many people I know, much as a rat would feel in the company of mice. It is possible to cloak oneself in his surroundings for brief periods, but the charade is difficult to maintain. I am not someone who can set aside their differences with ease. I pride myself in being an individual: viewing life and the world from a multitude of angles. Convention is, at times, a foreign concept to me. My likes and dislikes may be obscure, but they are my own.

If a baby chick becomes injured and bleeding, the others will peck it to death, viewing it as an unwanted foreign intruder. Human beings react in the same manner. We tend not to embrace diversity as much as attack it. Ostracize it. In all walks of life, conformity is never cast upon us but merely alluded to in not-so-subtle ways.

We expect things and even make demands of others. Behaviors must rhyme with those of our peers. Opinions which do not mirror our associates are mocked and ridiculed. Gestures are taken for granted. Equality and selflessness become idealistic myths in the pastures of our society. The same thoughts are regurgitated time and again as we chew on the cud of our existence.

While we all have the same wants and needs, no two people are alike. Each of us is the product of his or her own environment, beliefs, and upbringing. Differing views and lifestyles are not wrong by being different. Prioritizing wants in an unconventional way isn't wrong. Asking for harmony or the return of a favor is not ludicrous or selfish.

Many of us fail to see the world beyond our own eyes. We fail to realize that differences are wonderful, giving and receiving go hand in hand, and everyone wasn't meant to be the same. Maybe we're too busy casting judgment.

Frightfully Entertaining Cinema...

Mix together toxic waste, mutated mosquitoes, and gay men cruising at a highway rest stop... and what do you get?

A messed-up, hillarious movie.

The Creatures from the Pink Lagoon is a campy spoof on the old horror movies we all love to hate. Set in 1967, it tells the tale of party-goers plagued by a group of gay zombies with attitude, disdain for cheap cologne, and a penchant for musicals and Judy Garland.

The black and white film is the first feature-length production by director Chris Diani. It has been screened at countless film festivals to much acclaim and is now available on DVD.

Watch the trailer here:

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Code Name: Ignoramus

With web design, sometimes the simplest things end up being the most complicated.

I've been busy looking to add some new, unique features to my blog. Of course, only a few are on here. Why? Because my blog template hates me, apparently. I learned basic HTML code many moons ago. Now, everything is in CSS, JavaScript, and XML.

I love it.

So while I have all these interesting images and links all over the place, just waiting to be used... I can't for the life of me get things just how I want them. Perhaps that will change. I do have a few ideas on the horizon, but it's all in the planning stage.

I will make one good recommendation though: if you're clueless about web code and interested in teaching yourself the basics, definitely check out HTMLGoodies. I learned a lot from that site. It's actually how I originally took my website off AOL Hometown and created my first domain back around 2000.

I guess I could use a little refresher course myself. It's time to tackle those codes that I never bothered with before.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Seeing is Believing...

After an interesting discussion this week on skepticism and the paranormal, I have come to a grave and unfortunate conclusion: in the eyes of true skeptics, I do not exist.

I don't mean to say that my beliefs are unfounded or my views are ignored. I mean that as a gay male, I am as fictitious of an entity as a phantasm.

According to the American Psychological Association, " There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors."

In other words, while scientists and experts have diligently attempted to prove the existence of homosexuality in a legitimate, biological manner, they have failed to find any concrete evidence. Therefore, under scientific scrutiny, the existence of homosexuality is bunk.

Following the CFI's method of inquiry, based on the work of Bertrand Russell in his essay, "The Ethics of Belief", :
  1. "we should not accept a belief as true if there is a preponderance of evidence against it, or if it is found to be rationally inconsistent with other well-founded beliefs, or both. To cling to beliefs for which there are abundant evidence and reasons to the contrary is irrational. Another application of this rule is reasonable, that is,
  2. that we ought not to accept a belief as true if there is inadequate evidence and insufficient reasons to do so, and conversely,
  1. we should accept a belief claim only if it is based on adequately justifying reasons and sufficient evidence. A corollary of this is that
  2. where we do not have adequate grounds for believing that something is the case, then we should, wherever possible, adopt the stance of the skeptic and suspend judgment."
So, let's examine the evidence, shall we?

There are websites, books, and social groups from around the globe openly discussing homosexuality. These can be quite misleading to the general public. People claim to be homosexual, yet science cannot back up these claims with hard evidence. An abundance of people know of or have witnessed homosexuals, but this is mere hearsay. And then there are the photographs and videos of homosexual people and acts. Seriously, these can easily be faked.

How can any logical human believe we really exist?

As a society, we must learn to be more critical thinkers and not merely follow blindly the beliefs and ideas passed along to us by others.

But don't take my word for it. After all, I'm not real.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Bigfoot(ish) Broadcast...

It's time again for another shameless plug for an interesting and charming individual...

Cullan Hudson was the special guest last night on Let's Talk Bigfoot. The discussion involved more than just the furry creature in the woods, though. Stories from his book, Strange State, were mentioned, as well as UFOs and even a brief touch on the subject of ghosts.

In case you missed Cullan's interview, you can listen to it here:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble...

On July 11th, police encountered a female driver swerving on the streets of Eagle, Colorado. She was pulled over and showed obvious signs of intoxication.

Upon being arrested, the 56-year-old suspect flew into a rage. She announced to the officers that she was a "black witch" and vowed to hex the two cops. In the back seat of the cruiser, she kicked, screamed, and smacked her head on the inside of the vehicle.

That's what happens when you mix tequila and methadone.

The woman now faces charges of careless driving, disorderly conduct, failure to display a drivers license, driving under suspension, and resisting arrest.

If she had been sober enough to place a curse, apparently it hasn't worked yet.

Flying would've been a far safer option.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Land of Unbelieve...

Remember when summer camp meant ghost stories by a campfire, swimming, games, and group hikes?

Better toss those archaic notions out the window, you narrow-minded fools.

Camp Inquiry is a new, different sort of summer camp. Sponsored by the Center for Inquiry, is an environment void of the supernatural and religion. Skepticism and critical thinking are encouraged. Aliens, bigfoot, and urban legends are debunked by experts and the kids, ranging from 7 to 16 years old, are taught to demand proof.

While religion isn't openly discussed, it seems to be a topic left for free time. The majority of the children are either atheist or secular humanist. The camp provides a stark contrast to Bible study programs, allowing them to discuss their disbelief without fear of ridicule.

Austin and Jordan Fischer, brothers from New York City, learned of the camp from an advertisement in Skeptical Inquirer and Free Inquiry (magazines coincidentally published by the Center for Inquiry). "All the other [camps] are team building, physical stuff, a lot of playing," said Jordan. "This is more intellectual."

Thankfully, cooperation, exercise, and imaginative fun won't be ruining the summer months for these kids.

While I'm all for encouraging children to make up their own mind on many philosophical matters of life, this just doesn't seem "unbiased" to me. Teaching children thought, reason, and science is a wonderful thing, but what lines do you draw? Do you tell the seven-year-old that he's a moron for believing in Santa Claus? If a child wears a cross, is he or she shunned by the counselors or deprogrammed? Does the child who believes she saw a ghost have to go in for a brain scan?

What's so wrong with leaving a little mystery and imagination in the world? And does science really have the answer to every, single, solitary question possible in the universe at this moment in time?

Monday, July 21, 2008

In the Middle of the Night...

Billy Joel said the song "River of Dreams" came to him in the night. However, he wasn't imagining things on a separate occasion at his former home in East Hampton, New York.

In an interview with Details magazine, Joel admits to having seen an apparition. "...I walked into my bedroom and I saw what looked like a woman brushing her hair in front of a mirror. She was very old-fashioned-looking—it looked like a 19th-century woman in a dressing gown. It was quite realistic. It was quite three-dimensional. I wasn’t dreaming. I saw this. It lasted for about a minute," said the singer.

While the artist is a self-confessed atheist, he admits that as he grows older, there are more things he cannot explain about the supernatural aspect of the world.

The house was sold to comedian Jerry Seinfeld in 2000. If he has had a similar experience, he hasn't bothered to mention it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Call It What You Want...

In my constant rambling mind, another conundrum has stricken me.

If you've been following my blog from the beginning, you'll know this the second name it has had in its existence. The first was Afterglow: The Diary of a Gay Ghost Hunter. As time passed and being serious seemed less and less appealing, it changed to Spooked! A Gay Ghost Hunter's Snippets of Life... and the Afterlife some time last year. While I do like the name, I am in a bit of a quandary.

The name 'Spooked' took on a different association with the release of Spooked: The Ghosts of Waverly Hills Sanatorium, by Spooked Productions. The film also lead to Spooked Television Releasing... and they even have a blog of their own.

Now, I am not in any way, shape, or form associated with any of this. Which makes me wonder, should I alter the name? While I'm not aware of anyone owning the rights to the name "Spooked!", it has its similarities.

I've been toying around with these thoughts. One idea I have had is changing the name to "outSPOOKED!", since it is still similar enough to the current name, but different enough to be noticeable (plus the gay implications are somewhat appealing, given the context of this blog).

Of course, I would like feedback from my loyal readers. Feel free to voice your opinions in the form of a comment.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Queer Spirit Among Us...

As I closed my eyes last night, drifting off to sleep, a shadow passed through the moonlight in my bedroom window. Even with my eyes closed, I could detect the change in brightness. Instantly, I somehow knew who it was. In all my research for gay ghosts around the globe, I had forgotten one.

I forgot what time of year it was. July 8th had slipped my mind.


I still remember the first day I met Chris. I was killing time in the office of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Union on the campus of Kent State University. My conversation was interrupted by an intruder. A tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed creature stood in the doorway, dressed in the deep blue uniform worn by drivers from the Campus Bus Service. He introduced himself hurriedly, not having much time. He would return later to meet everyone and have a proper conversation.

He was a new, returning student at the university. After living for the previous 5 years illegally with his boyfriend Marcel in Germany, he had returned to the States and decided to continue his education. He was a very interesting person with a certain wit and sarcasm to him that came across in a humorous way. I was still quite painfully shy in those days, but gradually he worked his way into my circle of friends.

Our friendship took an odd turn one evening. I visited him at his apartment in Cuyahoga Falls. Marcel was very moody and after a few sharp words in German, left for bed. Chris and I stayed up and watched Victor, Victoria on laser disk. We both needed a bit of an escape, so he pulled out a bottle of vodka and some cranberry juice and we each had several cocktails. Perhaps it was the alcohol, but one thing lead to another. I had a bit of a crush on Chris so I couldn't resist crossing that invisible friendship line in the sand.

We talked about it days later. He told Marcel what had happened. I felt incredibly awkward. We stayed friends, though I did distance myself. Months later, he called me out of the blue. It seemed like casual conversation, but I could tell by his voice something was wrong. He apologized for sounding so quiet. He and Marcel had an argument. Marcel had thrown him down a flight of stairs and broken a few of his ribs. It was the first time I began to worry about him.

We became casual friends after that point. The only time we really would see each other was when we crossed paths at his usual hangout, a small bar in Akron called Adams Street. We would catch up, joke, laugh, and drink, letting all the trouble go away for the moment. We never really discussed the bad things in our lives. One of the last times I saw Chris there, he told me that his life had taken a turn for the better. He had found the courage to leave Marcel, found a new, wonderful man, and moved to Tonawanda Avenue in Akron. He gave me his phone number and I said I'd keep in touch.

I'm infamous for being lousy at calling people.

Quite some time passed before I found myself in Akron again, back at Adams Street in hopes of running into Chris once more to catch up on the latest news. I remember sitting down at the bar, feeling someone step up behind me so close it made me jerk around. There was no one else within arm's length of me. I couldn't think of what to order, when a very loud voice inside my head told me 'vodka and cranberry juice'. I sat back, contemplating whether or not the bar was haunted and struck up a conversation with a friend of mine.

That was the night I learned of Chris' death. Almost six years ago to the day.

From what I was told, Chris has battled depression quietly most of his life. He was alone on the night of July 8th (his boyfriend worked nights). He hit his low point and didn't spring back. His boyfriend found him the following morning. He had hanged himself with a telephone cord.

It took me a while to grasp his death. I spent over a year telling myself I should've been in better contact. I could've prevented it somehow. Slowly, the pieces fell into place from that evening. Had it been Chris who stood behind me when I heard the news? The coincidence was too uncanny. There have been several times over the passing years when I believe his presence was around. A friend of mine with psychic abilities whom I trust told me he does linger around occasionally, even giving me ideas for my writing. It has been years since I've visited his grave, but I don't believe in that tradition. I know he's not actually there anyway. It's just his body.

Chris was the first person to tell me about any local ghost stories, which began my interest in the Cuyahoga Valley. In some ways, he was another first: the first gay ghost I ever encountered.

A Kinder, Gentler Self-Criticism...

As writers, we are often our own worst enemy.

Plots take time (and a little trial and error) to hash out. Storylines change and evolve. Subplots need to carefully be woven into the main plot. Drafts are met with our own criticism and cynical eye. Most of us abhor our first attempts at chapters. It takes a lot of internal drive to push through the nightmare that is creative writing.

I was talking with Jeanne Barrack the other day, discussing stories and work. I mentioned my screenplay and the novel it was intended to be. She thoroughly enjoyed the basic concept and thought it would make for a good book. I, on the other hand, see the tale as riddled with problems, and the draft which hasn't been touched in over three years was, in my eyes, a catastrophe of infantile scribblings.

Then, I decided to actually reread my draft.

You know something? It wasn't half bad.

I think as a writer, I have been my own biggest obstacle. I demand perfection of myself, which doesn't come overnight. My sample chapter of a non-fiction book I've been researching is decent at best (but for something written in two days, could it really be flawless?). My novel series "wasn't good enough" to pursue, in my mind. So, more often than not, I've shelved projects before ever giving them a chance to see the light of day.

I have said so many times that this is a year of profound change for me. Perhaps this is one of those steps I need to take. Leave the criticism to the critics. Give myself the benefit of a doubt and understand that a first draft is just a first draft. Test the waters.

I forget what happens when my criticism overrides my confidence. My first book sat around for a decade before being thrown together in a matter of weeks. I have story ideas scattered on scraps of paper that have been waiting to be written since high school! My old poetry hasn't been taken out of boxes in a dozen years (and some has been lost forever in various moves).

What am I so afraid of?

That's easy: failure. But what's life without risk? Sitting on your laurels and playing it safe isn't living. I've taken risks in every aspect of my life, yet my writing seems to be the one fragment that goes untouched by the boldness. It's a slow process which I have been changing, but I need to do more.

So my latest book proposal isn't the pink of perfection. So my stories could use some polishing. So what? All of my projects can only get better. With a little diligence and some prodding, it will go somewhere. I have already taken a bold step this year, and had surprising results. The sky really is the limit... if I can place some duct tape over the lips of the doubting Thomas babbling inside my head.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

An Alien Evacuation?

In May, surveillance cameras were set up near Green Lane Reservoir in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Park officials were attempting to capture footage of a bear believed to be roaming the area. Instead, the footage revealed something else.

If you pay close attention to the lower right side of the video below, you will see what appears to be an alien. But wait. What is he doing? Is he doing what I think he's doing?

Was he hiding, or did nature call while in nature? You decide...

And if you're ever in the woods and see green poo, don't touch it!

When Pink Flamingos Just Won't Do...

Tired of the same lawn ornaments everyone else has? Want something unique to spruce up your garden and show your macabre sense of humor?

Why not a zombie?

Alan Dickinson, a British sculptor, was commissioned to create an odd, spooky piece for the Toscano home and garden catalog. So, he created a life-size undead man! The Zombie of Montclaire Moors comes in three pieces and can easily be placed in a garden, lawn, or darkened corner of a basement...

It's perfect to frighten children, or keep those nosy neighbors at bay. And if you have a brown thumb, at least your plants won't be the only dead thing in your yard...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Time Is Relative Indeed...

This week has been a bit nostalgic for me, and I've learned an interesting lesson.

Often, time doesn't quite pass as quickly as we believe it does.

I stumbled across my first local news interview from my days in a now defunct paranormal group. While the video is long gone, the text story is still online. It seemed so long ago, yet it was from February of 2003.

I also wrote an article for Ghost! Magazine back in 2004. At that time, it was an online magazine, but it has now undergone several changes. Unfortunately, along with those changes, my article was taken down and lost in the shuffle. Luckily, someone wrote about it in their blog so it's still floating around in cyberspace. While the topic, orbs, has been heavily scrutinized in the past few years, it was a poignant discussion in its day.

It's hard to believe that so much has happened in my life in the mere 4 or 5 years since these events. While time often feels as though it is speeding up, perhaps it isn't. Either that or my life is more busily chaotic than I had previously thought.

Looking back, the last decade has been filled with activity. Though the last four years may seem dull in comparison, I truly have lead an adventuresome life.

Perspective is a wonderful thing.

Somebody Needs the Wood...

Last week, a severe storm struck the small town of Maryville, Tennessee. A large oak tree was fell in Magnolia Cemetery and the groundskeepers worked on clearing it.

One of them noticed something peculiar about a section of log they lifted up. Ernest Ward claims the cross section bore a striking resemblance to a face. Amused by the discovery, he took it to the Daily Times.

A former worker believes the face is that of a spirit. Others, including The Sun, believe it bears a striking resemblance to Queen Elizabeth.

Be it male or female, royalty or pauper, this story probably will fade into the proverbial woodwork quite quickly... except in a small town with a slow news day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lingering in the Darkness...

My friend Bill posted some lowbrow humor last week. A little flatulent humor. So, I thought it best to pay homage in the only way I know how: with a little spoof I stumbled across on YouTube.

From the insane people at, I bring you Most Farted.

"Open your windows and shut your legs - it's Most Farted."

As if that weren't the best... they also created a theme song! Ask yourself this: has anyone sampled clips from Most Haunted and farts and placed them against the backdrop of a dance beat? Well, look no further... here it is: 'Stale Meat'.

(You may have to click the play button twice to get it to work.)

Scaring Up Some Funding...

Want to help improve the lives of people recovering leukemia? Grab your flashlights, cameras, tape recorders, and camcorders and head on over to Winter Gardens Theatre on October 18th.

The Anthony Nolan Trust is continuing its Fright Nights (ghost hunts for charity) this summer and fall. Dozens of places are slated for the events across the United Kingdom. Among these is the Winter Gardens Theatre in Morecambe, Margam Castle in Swansea, and Ordsall Hall in Salford. All three were featured on the television series, Most Haunted.

Anyone interested is asked to pay the reasonable entrance fee and raise a minimum of £125 per person for the foundation. All participants must be at least 18 years of age.

So if you've ever felt you wasted a ridiculous amount of money on an overnight ghost hunt at a place without enough real activity to be bothered with, why not spend the money knowing it'll go to a good cause?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cursing Like a Sailor...

Doctors in Canada are baffled. Rosemarie Dore has lived all of her 50 years in southern Ontario, yet after suffering a stroke two years ago, something is different.

She now speaks with an east coast "Maritime" accent.

Soon after recovering, her family noticed the differences. Dr. Karin Humphreys of McMaster University said it involves "a change in some of the very precise mechanisms of speech-motor planning in the brain's circuitry.” The unexplainable change in accents was highlighted in the latest edition of the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences.

While cases of foreign-accent syndrome (FAS) are extremely rare, they do occur. An American named Tiffany Roberts made headlines in 1999 after developing a British accent, described by The Telegraph as "a cross between Eliza Doolittle and Sybil Fawlty". Later in 2004, Lynda Walker of England suddenly dropped her thick accent following her stroke and began speaking like a Jamaican.

The most curious aspect of some of these cases is that some of these people had never been exposed to the accents previously.

Can the stopping and restarting of the heart really change who we are as a person? Or is this something that traditional science simply can't rationally explain away?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Queer Paranormal Road Trip: Buddie's Pub

The ghost of what was once a gay bar can be found on South Broad Street in Trenton, New Jersey. It was known as Buddie's Pub and had been in operation since the 1960s. Unfortunately, the last efforts to keep the establishment alive failed a few years ago. But the legend lives on... as does, presumably, the ghost.

In 2004, the final owners, Beth and Gary Feltus, did extensive renovations to the century-old building. After tracking down the original blueprints, they restored the interior to its original layout and design. The Trenton Historical Society recognized their work with an award for historic preservation. Otherwise, it was your typical corner bar with inexpensive drinks and nightly entertainment.

And then there was the ghost.

Glasses would fly off their rack. Games and lights would turn on and off sporadically. Pictures and objects would fly off the walls. The light over the pool table even fell off its hooks... without the hooks falling from the ceiling.

Patrons and owners never feared the supernatural presence. In fact, they knew who it was. Most of the paranormal happenings were attributed to Seymour, who converted the pub into a gay establishment in the mid-1960s. He allegedly died in the tavern and never felt the need to leave. Two regulars also met their demise in an adjoining building. One passed away after having his throat cut; the other murdered his lover.

For a brief time in 2007, the structure became a Mexican restaurant, yet it seems to be abandoned once more. Hopefully, the next owner will take good care of the property and reopen it as a successful business, if the spirits approve...