Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Year is Dawning...

After a few days if internet woes (following weeks of writer's block and apathy/uninspiring times), I'm back. Still, this is a time of great change. In less than 24 hours, a new decade will begin. And that has me contemplating so many things, including the state of this blog... and its future.

I have a lot of things to juggle right now. Old projects, new optimistic possibilities. So many things have changed in my life over the last year, let alone the past 10 years. And I feel I don't have adequate time to devote to Spooked! right now, nor have I for months. A trend started this past year... not merely writing about strange things and place, but seeing new horizons and actually living those things. I've laughed and loved, taken risks to venture into new strange lands, and remembered what it was to be happy. I still love the paranormal and this blog will always be a fond memory. As for whether I continue it or begin a new one, that remains to be seen.... and we will all find out as 2010 arrives.

Tonight, I took a fond look back myself at some of the interesting things from my life, and reviewed old videos sent by my dearest friend on the planet, Joel. So many things have happened in the course of our friendship. We shared the good and bad together, laughed as well as cried. It was a pleasant trip, but not without a few sad thoughts. He has been the greatest impact on my life out of anyone I know, and still having him in my life is the greatest gift I could ever receive. Still... it reminds me that Australia has been an ambition of mine for half my life. Of my few opportunities to see the country, fear has always stopped me in my tracks. And that is one thing I hope to shed in the near future. I've even made a pact with my friend Dana that if we can find a way, we will travel there together, making it a less frightening experience for both of us.

And then there are other things coming up... but I will wait to mention those things after the fact. I'd rather not jinx myself by saying some things are in the works and find out that everything falls through. But I'm off to a party tomorrow so I'll be away from the computer for the next couple days. But stay tuned....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Manicure for All Eternity...

In the ancient world, death was often as important as life. The two worlds were intertwined and coexisted in the minds of many people. Egyptians held ceremonies for their dead and celebrated the afterlife, making sure that tombs were stocked full of food and wares for their journey into the next life (we could say they obviously disagreed with the old adage "you can't take it with you"). They also believed in ghosts, or khu. Although we can't be sure that apparitions wander the Valley of the Kings, there might be a few restless spirits lingering near the Nile River. And all of them may not be straight.

A tomb was unearthed in 1964 near Memphis which surprised many archaeologists. It was the final resting place (or way station, in their views) of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, two royal servants from the Fifth Dynasty (2498-2345 BC, a.k.a. Old Kingdom). When combined, their names can be translated as "joined in life and joined in death", which is fitting given their life together and joint burial near the pyramid of King Unas. Though what is not very common is the fact that Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum were both men.

This pair of royal confidants were "Overseers of the Manicurists in the Palace of King Niuserre", according to inscriptions at the site (fascinating how some 4500 years later, we sometimes perpetuate the stereotype by having such professions). In artwork adorning the tomb, the two men are shown holding hands and touching noses (the Egyptian version of a kiss). At the time, the accepted hypothesis was that they were twin brothers and that explained the "exaggerated affection" shown. But the evidence from history could not be ignored, leading some historians to name the pair the oldest documented gay couple in history.

While some people insist that homosexuality was not accepted in ancient Egypt, the lack of mentions of gays and lesbians may, in fact, mean that sexuality was a non-issue. Mundane, every-day things were not often recorded in history, after all. For these two royal manicurists to be given a tomb together says a lot about the world before Christianity took root. it's nice just to know that thousands of years ago, the love between men could be deemed worthy enough for the afterlife... and two male lovers could share an eternity together.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Can't You Hear, Can't You Hear the Thunder...

I'm an aussiephile; there's no denying it. So far in my life, I missed out on a chance to attend university in the "land down under" and take a vacation there (after saving the money and wasting it on a bad relationship). The country itself intrigues me to no end, as does the history. Needless to say, I was absolutely tickled pink to find my book on sale at Angus & Robertson. I might not be on the other end of the globe, but some part of me is.

I'm still determined to get there. Most people don't realize how hard I tried to find ONE story from Oz for the book. I gave up after a tiny nibble (a bed & breakfast which might be haunted, but needs to be investigated), but this time I'm more determined than ever. So, I'm asking for a little help from readers. If you're in Australia and know of any possible hauntings (be it hate crime ghosts, haunted gay bars, or anything of the like), I would really appreciate any tips. There has to be at least one LGBT haunting in the country, and I need to hear about it!! I'm about a dozen stories shy of being able to start work on the next book, so any input is much appreciated. Even if they're not from Australia, I'd love to hear from anyone who might have an interesting tale to tell.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And the Compass Turns to Nowhere That You Know Well...

In Celtic circles, November is the beginning of a new year. And thus far, the month has been a time of further great change for me. Finding time for blogging hasn't changed, though. Coupled with a dash of writer's block and feeling completely worn down, I simply haven't had much energy to devote to Spooked! Maybe the culmination of all the events of the year have led me to this very point, where I'm back to where I began: uncertain of the future and longing for change.

And change itself is something we love and loathe. While we hope things will become better or different in a positive sense, we are ever fearful of reaching outside our comfort zone. There is danger and risk outside the known bubble in which we exist. Calamity and heartache, rebirth and different scenery. Which is why so few people ever step toward that great horizon and dare to see what could be. It can be a great adventure... or an incredible disaster.

I am often guilty of wavering on issues and directions. I contemplate too much. But there's a good reason for it. I can see all sides of most situations and moves, and there's never a perfect decision to be made. For every step we take, there can be both joy and pain. What brings happiness to some leaves other individuals damaged, battered, or bruised. Change itself is one of those risky behaviors our school teachers warned us about. We hate the people who refuse to change while chastising those who do. We question the purpose of mending the wall while keeping with the status quo.

I often ask myself where I will be in another year, another decade. I have no sure answer. A dozen trails lay before me and I could follow any one of them at any given time. There is no "safe path" except inaction. And oh, how I loathe stagnation. But I'm the dreamer, the surrealist. My life won't follow a course of normality. I don't want my life to be average. Yet I pay the price time and time again. And therein lies the trick to leading an alternative existence: understanding the risks involved and weighing your options. Sometimes, it's important to take the plunge into a new pool. It's up to each of us to decide whether to check and make sure it's filled with water first, though.
As winter fast approaches, I have a great many things to ponder. I have new projects to work on and important decisions to make. And honestly, I have no idea what the outcome of any of it will be. The only thing I know for sure is that any choices I make carry permanent risk and damage. In the end, I will follow what I believe to be best. Perhaps it's being selfish, but they will be the decisions best for my own life. Of course, I will be considering how it will impact everyone else close to me. Given my nature, I can't help but ponder the ripples through my own private ecosystem. Each path we forge or stream we reroute effects our world.

In retrospect, the past year has been a bit terrifying at times. I've taken chances for the first time in what feels like centuries. I set a dinghy out among clippers and schooners in the literary world and managed not to sink, ventured beyond the United States and explored and loved and lost, and navigated the East Coast solo. None of these were without a few bumps along the way, but I survived. Adventure is like heroin, and I'm finding myself addicted. I need more exploration in my life to feel fulfilled. As for what kinds of adventure it will mean next year, that remains to be seen.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Spooky Happenings in the Crescent City...

Among the many cities I'm dying (well, not literally) to visit is New Orleans. Just like the Witch City of Salem, it's a town where death seems to be a part of life. Ghosts, witches, vampires, and other nocturnal peoples seem quite at home there and the presence of hoodoo is undeniable. Every shop, bar, and hotel carries with it some fascinating, if not haunting, tale.

One such place is 5 Continents Bed & Breakfast, which I did look into and noted in the "Haunted LGBT Accommodations" section in the back of my book. While I left out some of the history and hauntings at the inn, I just might finally revisit it for the sequel. It's a beautifully-restored old home, and apparently still occupied by its original owners.

Passport Magazine visited this haunted hotspot for the Halloween season (possibly after seeing it listed on my website... I'm not trying to assume, but reporter Paul West did attempt to contact me about a story earlier this summer, but due to email issues I missed him... sorry again, Paul!) and interviewed the innkeeper as well as a paranormal team as they looked for paranormal evidence at the business.

Check out the video from Passport.TV:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Crawling Out from Under...

October is finally over. And somehow, I managed to survive. Sure, I slept away the entire first day of November, but my body was trying to tell me something, aside from all these aches, pains, and utter exhaustion that still floods over me. I feel as though I've been thrown in a washing machine with a few dozen boulders. And my throat feels like I tried swallowing a grapefruit.

Boy, you're probably thinking, sounds like he sure had a fun Halloween! If only that were so. If fun involves being too exhausted to focus energy on anything for more than 5 minutes, trying to nap and failing miserably, battling the cold weather of Ohio, watching as half the people you know face automobile problems, and ending it with phone calls to police and hospitals, panicked that a family member has been in a serious accident (or possibly dead)... then, and only then, would I say yes, it was fun.

That does make it sound like I had the worst month ever, though. And I can't say that. I've met and spoke with wonderful people, traveled extensively, made new friends and contacts, and found a few times to smile and laugh genuinely. Still, there have been difficult moments. And some people have been left by the wayside as my time has been horrifyingly limited. I'm still only in the beginning phases of catching up, so hopefully I can, at least in part, make up for the many blunders and changes that've happened in these short few weeks. Only time will tell.

I do need to get back to business here on this blog too. I've had one guest blogging offer already, which pleases me to no end. Any time I can have a few people take over for a brief time and post some interesting, amusing, or humorous tidbits in keeping with the intended purpose of this blog, it's greatly appreciated. As one man, trying to write these posts along with other articles all over and future book projects, it can be difficult finding the time to remember that my own life is often kept on the wayside. I love to write on here, don't get me wrong, but after a few years of posting far more regularly, I do need a break. There are people out there I want to have some actual time with and trips I need to make or plan. And to top it all off, I have a severely difficult project on the horizon: writing a sequel to my book. It won't be easy, that's for sure... but I want to do it and refuse not to do it.

So, as the weather gets colder and more dreary here in Ohio, we'll see what happens with my cabin fever as we head into winter. One year of so much traveling and interesting adventures will certainly make matters worse. And when the first snow flies in the coming month or so, I'll probably have more time for blogging... but long for the world outside that is frozen in place until the spring thaw.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Out With the Old...

In light of new projects coming my way (and since Halloween/Samhain is also the new year in certain religions), I've decided to take Haunted Cuyahoga off the market soon. And by soon, I mean after selling ONE more copy. (I'm notified of every sale, so I can do that.) Yes, just one... making a grand total of printed copies 266. Why? Well, it's time to move on for me. New things on the horizon... letting go of some of the past that's weighing down this suitcase of life I carry with me. It's been three years since this little venture, and I'd like to lay it to rest...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Home is Where the Tell-Tale Heart Is...

So, I'm back in northeast Ohio after a LONG hiatus. What a trip—er, trips—it's been. I feel like the last two weeks, I haven't had much time to sit still for long, let alone digest everything. From Salem (an incredible city... thanks to everyone there who made my trip enjoyable and the many new friends I made along the way) and my first-ever book signing at Cornerstone Books to Dayton (as well as Yellow Springs where two bookstores now carry Queer Hauntings) and my wonderful friends, both distant and close, there who kept me on my toes. I haven't even unpacked yet, but I did take the time to make a Halloween tree and decorate my window a little, just to cheer myself up from the exhaustion for a little while.

I have so much to get done, I'm not sure how long it will be before I have the time to write a regular blog entry. It might be time to finally create that team of bloggers to help me keep Spooked! active during my more busy times. I promised myself I would have a book signing in my own area before trying to tackle other signings elsewhere. I have a place in mind, but I need to make some calls and see what's happening.

Otherwise, much to my surprise and chagrin, it has been a good month for press. Although I had to decline a few media events due to my hectic schedule, Toronto's Autumnplay Magazine featured an article about the book and I. But that's not all; just yesterday, I was told that Instinct Magazine reviewed my book this month. I still need too get my hands on a copy! It may not have been long or 5 stars but till, it's exciting.

Having said that, this neck ache is creeping up my spine and giving me a headache, so I shall bid you all adieu. I'll be back soon, hopefully, if time permits. There's too much to do, but right now it's time to take some aspirin and watch the twinkling ghost lights dance around my window frame...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

No Need for Broom Closets....

For starters... Happy National Coming Out Day!! I know, I didn't realize until just now. Sorry! My mind has been elsewhere!

Well, Salem has been everything I thought it would be. And above all else, the entire month of October is one, long Halloween for this town. There isn't another city on earth I can think of where zombies, vampires, and other costumes are seen daily on the street. Of course, fighting your way through the crowd is another matter. It's a madhouse around here.

I'll have to update about my entire trip when I get back. I want to devote some time to everything here in the best way that I can, with enough rest for my bones and less aches and pains from hours on the streets. I have so many businesses to talk about... interesting people to mention (beyond Jeffrey Justice, who has been a dear even though he's run ragged with work... stay tuned for a Supernatural Spotlight featuring him) and photos to share (I know I'll max out my monthly allowance of photos on Flickr for sure). I've been trying to avoid being a tourist, but it's difficult not to be.

I'm down to the last 5 copies of my book already, and I've only been here three days! Let's hope they last me through it all. I wasn't expecting this much. I dropped off two copies at The Magic Parlor yesterday and they both sold within 24 hours! We shall see how long the 10 signed copies there now last. Otherwise, I've met some amusing people, had some interesting conversations, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. People are far more receptive about Queer Hauntings than the naysayers would care to believe. And if all goes well, aside from a few radio show/podcast interviews I have coming up thanks to some good people I've met, I might even be talking at a university in the coming months!

It's all so exciting, wonderful, and yet exhausting. But for now, I'm signing off from the Witch City. It will be a very long week...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

(Un)Dead Man Walking...

Welcome to October... or, as I prefer to think of it, that time of year when suddenly everyone thinks about ghosts, ghouls, and hauntings only to forget about them after Halloween. Those of us dealing with the dead generally feel it's "just another day at the office" and sometimes scoff at the sudden interest. Although there is one exception to it being like the rest of the year: everyone wants you to be everywhere at once for the whole 31 days.

Honestly, I haven't had what you might call a laid-back October in a few years now. I miss the days when Halloween was something to look forward to instead of the last night and a mile marker for that next chance to take a deep breath, kick off your shoes, and relax. But this is what I've chosen, because I love the paranormal. So I won't complain... though I might try my best to find mild ways of enjoying myself between gigs.

And this month is going to be action-packed for me. I'm gone to Cleveland this weekend to conduct an investigation at a haunted place, followed by an appearance on The Kode 'N Nyte Show on NRR Radio on Sunday to talk ghosts, have fun, and give away a copy of Queer Hauntings. Then I have a few days of down time, hopefully having coffee with a friend, before taking my great adventure east to Salem, the Witch City!

Thankfully traveling via Amtrak again (I love rail travel... so relaxing), I'll be arriving in Boston on October 8th where I'll meet with Jeffrey Justice, who has been tirelessly helping me plan events in Salem for my week-long stay. I don't have a full schedule yet to give you all, but you can be sure I'll be poking around town, popping up in some of the expected (and more unexpected) places. If you happen to be in the area, check with your local bookstores and see if I'll be popping by... I know Cornerstone Books is on my list for the 15th!

Although it is mainly intended to be a "business" trip, that doesn't mean I'm not planning on enjoying myself. If money permits, I'll be having a nice celebratory beverage at some night spot with Jeffrey and I'll be taking plenty of photographs throughout my stay. I''m even planning an excursion to a haunted New England site as research for the sequel to Queer Hauntings (yes, I'm already working on that slowly). Perhaps I'll take a few interesting photos and have a little contest here... letting my dear readers try to guess where I was.

After I arrive back in Ohio on October 17th, it's off to Dayton for another busy week with friends, followed by a ghost tour. Perhaps I'll stop to breathe around the 24th before the month crescendos into Samhain, or All Hallows Eve. All the while my laptop will be with me. During all my excursions, I should be letting everyone know what is happening and updating things accordingly. There is no guarantee I'll have time to post daily, but at least I'll do my best to share my experiences with you all.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I See a Bad Moon Rising...

It's early Monday morning, there's thunder outside and the rhythmic sound of rain falling. It may be close to dawn, but there's still enough "dark and stormy night" to make me forget all the stress, drama, and insanity of recent time and think back to Halloween's approach.

October (and all the festivities that come with it) is a time when we all want to be someone... or something... else for a little while, even just to pretend for a few hours. And what best exemplifies this desire than the shapeshifter. Werewolves and other humanoids have been a part of lore for centuries. We've been terrified by the thought of people who could become animals while the moon was full, though secretly, we all would like to have that ability: the power to change who we are and live differently for a brief time. Let's face it. None of us is completely happy with ourself or life as it is. There's something intriguing out there that catches everyone's fancy.

Still, as I always say, there's humor to be had in everything. And in light of the fact that life can get insane, overwhelming, and downright difficult, I think it's time to get a little amusement out of that inner animal inside us all. And an ingenious man online did just that... having a little fun with Shakira's song "She Wolf". I can't help but laugh watching this one. Well, ok... perhaps between chuckles I think he's not too bad to look at:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Win a Copy of Queer Hauntings!

Most of you readers may not realize how much work goes into trying to find interesting stories, websites, etc. to mention in this blog. It can be tiring work. But the research and digging doesn't end there. Even when it comes to my book, finding reviews, booksellers, or anything else happening with it, that too requires a lot of research and digging. Yes... believe it or not, authors aren't told everything!

In fact, one such bit I just stumbled across may be of interest to most of you. Edge (along with its different individual city websites) often gives away a variety of tickets , DVDs, books, etc. on its website. Now, it's giving away a copy of Queer Hauntings to one lucky entrant! There isn't a deadline listed, but I wouldn't wait too long to enter. Click here to go to Edge Boston's page for the book giveaway.

Sorry, everyone, but it's not a signed copy. Although that can be arranged if you win...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Creepy Queer Photo Ops...

It's been too long since I posted any interestingly delightful images. So here's a little something to disturb or brighten your day...

Creeping from the Crypt...

I've done it again. I've neglected this blog. Of course, this month I haven't been online as much as I normally am, so that's part of the reason. It's been another crazy few weeks for me, chock full of anxiety, stress, and my usual confusion. The temperatures here are slowly dropping down to autumn levels and Halloween will be here before we know it. That's not such a bad thing, though. I'm ready for pumpkins, cider, and the sweet scent of burning wood mixed with foliage in the air. Besides, 'tis the season for people to suddenly regain interest in ghosts and hauntings...

Personal dramas aside, I have also been working (when possible) on research for a sequel to Queer Hauntings. It might sound premature considering the book isn't even available everywhere yet (and I haven't even seen my first copy of it yet), but this time around. the research will be more grueling. I have perhaps five places to research at this moment, which means I need at least another 35 stories before I will have another full manuscript. My goal is by next year to have it finished, along with another possible book I'm looking into... though writing two books at once might be a struggle.

On the bright side, I'm still looking forward to my great escape to Salem in October. I'll be updating with details as soon as I know anything for certain. I'll also be off to Dayton yet again for another adventure with friends and spooks, so it will be a busy time for me. I'm hoping to have a few books on hand before I begin my travels, but we shall see how things work out. Also, on October 4th, I'll be on NRR Radio talking about my new book, as well as doing a bit of ghost hunting on the air. Apparently, the studio where DJ Kode and DJ Nyte are based has become a lot more active in the past month, so this could prove to be interesting. But don't expect things to be too serious. We're all going to have a little bit of fun... and during the program, I highly doubt the only spirits around will be those of the dead.

I've finally been updating my website a bit, so feel free to check things out. There are book excerpts posted and I'm slowly adding links as I find more booksellers offering Queer Hauntings. I'm still hoping to do book signings, lectures, and library events as time passes though it might take a little time. I know my local library might be interested in setting up something, though I'm hoping to break out of Ohio here and there too. Yet another thing for me to get going on: contacting places and trying to set up a few events as locations from the book. So much to do, so little time when you're only one man. That's where this blog suffers too. Perhaps Jeanne Barrack is right... I need a blogging team to help keep this thing going!

I'll do my best to keep this thing alive, though. Hopefully I'll find some nifty things to write about soon...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Beware the Oompa Loompas!!

What if that world of "pure imagination" were really a sick, twisted, dark place filled not with candies and chocolates, but with gore, brutality, and horror? Well, for all of you who thought that Willy Wonka really was a few apples short of a bushel, writer Eric Appel brings you a strange twist on the old tale of Charlie Bucket. His movie trailer for Gobstopper mixes comedy with terror. And best of all, it stars one of my all-time favorite actors... Christopher Lloyd!!

Who else could pull off that uncomfortably-creepy character with just the right comedic timing? (Sorry, Gene Wilder... deal with it. lol)

Sadly, the film isn't real. But what a shame! Here's the "trailer' for Gobstopper, via Funny or Die:

And now... I bit you all adieu for a few days as I take care of some offline affairs. Thanks, Fred, for telling me about this gem of a video. I'll be doing my best to add a little humor in your life now, since you need it the most.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Glancing Down the Road...

In light of the crazy week it's been, I haven't had the time yet to write about some of the interesting things I've run across. But it's coming... never fear. Meanwhile, just a short personal update. The final cover is done for Queer Hauntings: True Tales of Gay & Lesbian Ghosts, so here's a sneak peek:

I'll be posting more soon. And also, plans are going ahead with my Salem adventure in October. So in less than two months, I'll be trekking across the witch capital. I've been wanting to go there for years... and what better time than the Halloween season?

I'll be gone all weekend, but hopefully I'll give you all a few amusing things to read about before I leave...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Need an Incubus to Succubus?

Thanks to my friend Buddy, I received this little clip in an email. It's The Soup's take on the season finale of Ghost Adventures. Just a little reminder to be careful what you say, especially on camera. It might come back to haunt you...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Infantile Behavior...

Another interesting week draws to a close. Keeping busy with a plethora of things, checking up on friends, and receiving my first onslaught of negativity from an unexpected (well, expected... but not expected) source. Shocking? Slightly. Crushing? Not at all. I know who I am and what I believe, and this year has been educational about the definition of friendship. If not marching to someone's drum or telling people what they want to hear makes me a bad man, then hooray for being rotten!

But it's an interesting world out there with plenty of views. And while a lot of the news is on the depressing side, there are some things that aren't so dire and jaded.

Take, for example, Jose Alvarenga of Paraguay who opened his infant son's coffin this week to find that he wasn't dead, as doctors had told him. While it's good news for the new father, it doesn't bode well for doctors and staff at the unnamed hospital in Asuncion. If you can't tell dead from living, perhaps medicine isn't the proper field for you.

Then back to the United States, where in Florida sightings of what is described as a "baby Bigfoot" have been reported in the Baker County area. While it might be an orangutan, the mystery creature has an apparent sweet tooth. Among the witnesses was a bear hunter who lost a few jelly donuts too the furry caper. Subsequent attempts too lure the pint-sized furball out in the open with confectionery treats have failed.

That's all for now when it comes to abnormal childlike behavior. Bear with me as I struggle with graphics, barrel ahead toward autumn and Halloween, and blaze a few trails in the world, as well as my own life...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Like Manna From Heaven...

When I finally let go of the stress... release the reins and said "que sera sera" about the coming month... it happened. I have word, thanks to the goddess Google. Here are the details of my upcoming book:

Queer Hauntings: True Tales of Gay & Lesbian Ghosts
by Ken Summers
196 pages (paperback)
Publisher: Lethe Press
Price: $15.00 (US)
Release Date: September 18, 2009

And apparently, it's already available for pre-order on, though the cover remains to be seen. but at least now you all know!

Friday, August 14, 2009

You Can't Keep a Good Blogger Down...

Yes. I have been way too serious lately on here when I have bothered to post. And I've been distracted too much by my worrying, acutely-emotional side (ok... overwhelmed by it) to the point of madness. But it that my sole reason for not posting? Well... not exactly.

For starters, I was hoping to start mentioning more about the new book. So far, I have no updates for you, unfortunately. Except for one: there has been a change of title. Queer Paranormal will not be titled Queer Hauntings. Why? Oh, silly issues with categorizatio
n. You would think "paranormal" would be the least troubling term of the two! Otherwise, nothing has changed. And as soon as I know about cover art, page count, pricing, etc. I'll pass that information along to you all. You're not the only ones getting anxious about it. Just over a month remains until the expected release date! If I weren't keeping up on trimming my fingernails they would all be gnawed off by now.

Otherwise, my life has changed in some ways over the past few weeks. Feelings toward people have shifted forms, whether by nature or with some prodding from them. I hate to call one of these changes becoming "single" because in most ways, nothing has changed. I have a wonderful, funny, charming man in my life... we just aren't sleeping together or picking out furniture for that little dream cottage. I took my time to mill over things, "turn emo" as some uncouth people might say, and come out on the other end content with the people who make my life enjoyable. The list isn't long (and rarely consists of Ohioans) but it's a good one.

And more changes... Spooked! is now brought to you via Vista! That's right, after almost a decade, my old laptop was on its last legs so I made the leap and upgraded (frighteningly enough, the new one cost 1/3 the price of the old one and has 5 times more space and 12 times more RAM) to a Compaq Presario. In widescreen. Yay! I'll decide later what to do about upgrading to Windows 7 in October (that month will already be insanely busy for me, no doubt). For now, there are other changes on the horizon...

I've decided that I truly want to do a little reinventon. I hate growing too stagnant and I've spent so long waiting on that bench at the station of life that it's time to jump on a new train... whether people like it or not. Perhaps a few wardrobe changes (I did get a hoodie this summer... and I like it) and such. But the biggest thing I've been pondering it a change of hair color. No, not that horrible mistake of bright yellow I made years ago. I've been seriously thinking about going black ("once you go black..." lol). Why? Well, aside from blue, it's been one of the colors I've always wanted to try. And after a nice chat on a Greyhound bus with a sweet emo kid (if you read this, Jason, thanks again for cheering me up), I have some confirmation that black just night suit me. Aside from that Gothic demeanor I can give off. And with Halloween approaching, how could it go wrong?

But I'm pondering it a but and am seriously thinking about leaving it up to you folks... to some extent. I've thought about saying, "Since the Tip It button has never yet been useful, if I get 13 tips of $1 or a total of $13... that nice, unlucky number... I'll dye my hair black," but I wonder if that would ever happen! So, I'll make it slightly more interesting: either $13 in my Tip It jar for the blog, or 13 unique comments from separate readers (anonymous comments won't count toward that, so you'll have to log in with Open ID (Livejournal, Wordpress, Typepad, or AIM) if you're not on Blogger) with a majority in favor of black (or more unique comments might be necessary if the first thirteen are not a majority "yes" votes)--whichever comes first--and I shall make the change within 48 hours of said events. At least this gives you all a little incentive to comment, right?

Otherwise, bear with me as I get the last of the software on the laptop, learn to navigate my new technology, and return to your regularly (un)scheduled strange tales and rants. Spooked! is back.... and those dead queens and crazy people who land in the headlines had better watch out...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Heavy Cloud But No Rain...

As life leads us through those little pathways in the woods, we never quite know where the trails will lead us. Sometimes, what seems to be the surest, best-worn footpath ends up at a dead end... or worse, leads to a grassy meadow where no trail can be found. And there, we're left to wander for a spell, avoiding spiders and snakes and stinging insects in the blazing sun until we find some faded walkway to follow once more.

It has been an interesting few weeks... and I regretfully tell you all that the video posts I was planning will have to wait. Life has shifted in many ways for me at the moment, but through all the changes, I have to say that I do not regret anything. Honestly. I have a pile of incredibly wonderful memories from the recent past to make me smile and some wonderful people in my life. Perhaps things have changed from "certain" to "lost in the woods" in some areas of my life, but in some level, it all has been worth it. Life is a risk. A life without chances might be safe, but never answers those "what-if" questions. I'd rather have spent my life stepping off the edge once in a while and not finding solid ground beneath me than taking a safe route and never experiencing life's joys, loves, and aches.

I have also had some time to think. And what have I concluded? Mainly, that I'm rather confused about my own path... and disappointed at the person I've become as of late. I feel the need for reinvention and want to do some changing with my appearance, life, etc. yet am not sure how exactly I'll be doing that. I dislike how I've foregone my own opinions and beliefs to please those around me and avoid arguments for so long that I've lost my spark, my trailblazing spirit that took so long to develop. I've slipped back down a gravel slope toward passivity, and it wasn't until someone I care about held a mirror to my face that I realized who I had become. I hated what I saw. But I needed to see it. I'm truly sorry for any grief it caused.

And even more, I hate that I've lost my chipper, blogging habits. I lost the point of this whole blog: to find amusement in the mundane and laugh at some incredibly absurd things about life and death. For that, I apologize to my readers. Life is too serious. We all deal with depression, stress, grief, pain and unbelievable heartache constantly in our lives. It doesn't get better or worse as you age. Ignoring it won't make it disappear, but dwelling on it doesn't make it better. Accept life and people for what they are... find the beauty and wonderful sides to everyone to avoid turning bitter... and most importantly, never forget to laugh.

It's a strange world out there. And during terrible times, humor is often the only thing to save us from total destruction.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Nothing to See Here...

So far, most of my trip has been dodging rain showers, therefore I haven't quite been able to film anything outdoors. And I'm heading out on a journey starting this evening, so perhaps I'll get to it eventually. Worst-case scenario, I'll record a clip in the final days of my voyage when Marc is at work and I'm flying solo.

I would type more, but I need to prepare for the trip... and these bloody Francophone keyboards are tricky to get used to!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

One of Those Crazy Months...

And suddenly, three weeks vanish. Who knew?

It has been a busy time, so I regret having neglected this blog, but hopefully it's not becoming a permanent thing! Working on final details with the book (which is still coming out this fall... September), travels, other little side projects here and there... all these things have distracted me. Life has distracted me.

Last weekend, I tagged along with SIGHT of Ohio to an event at Akron's Civic Theatre. I presented the history for a paranormal investigation, opened to the public. It was a good turnout and I enjoyed myself... but with fielding so many questions and doing so many things, I didn't have much chance to explore for myself. That's the downside of being involved behind the scenes at an event: you can't participate. Still, I usually don't mind that. Sometimes, I want to sit back and enjoy a nice ghost walk or presentation, but there are times I'd rather be involved in the production itself and left out of the details.

In just a few hours, I'm leaving for Ottawa for three weeks, with a brief stay in Montreal thrown in for good measure. It won't all be a vacation, but it'll be an adventure. And, time and energy permitting, I will be blogging from there this time! But to spare you all the boredom of merely reading about these places and things to do, I'm thinking I just might give video blogging a try. So if all goes well, expect a taste of haunted Ottawa... perhaps even a brief Montreal clip too.

Otherwise, I'll be back in mid-August... hopefully with updates and new information!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Creepy Queer Photo Ops...

Sorry again for the prolonged silence! Busy, busy, busy! meanwhile, here's a little Flickr find that caught my attention. Makes me think of a haunted gay club... this really should be titled "Demon is a Dancer".

poptastic ghost

Hopefully, I'll have some more updates to fill everyone in on very soon. I'll be gone later this month to a wedding, so I'll try to find time whenever possible to let you all know I'm still alive...

...or am I?

Friday, June 26, 2009

When "Horny" is a Bad Thing...

Want the holy ghost in you? Feeling possessed by one of those pesky gay demons? Well, you might be in luck. All you need is a little help from the friendly folks at Manifested Glory Ministries of Bridgeport, Connecticut. After all, they helped someone out recently. The church held an exorcism to rid a teen boy of his homosexuality, hence equating it with demonic possession.

Reverend Patricia McKinney and her cult... I mean congregation... performed what they called a "casting out of spirits" (because she thinks the 'exorcism' label isn't accurate) three separate times on a 16-year-old boy (the reverend claimed he was 18) at his request. he writhed on the floor, vomiting up the "evil", while onlookers made such priceless statements as "Loose your grip, Lucifer!" and "Right now in the name of Jesus, I call the homosexuality, right now in the name of Jesus!"

When did homosexuality suddenly become an object or energy? I missed that memo.

So, what do you to when you get rid of the "homosexuality demon"? You post it on YouTube, of course! I guess they figured they already had a website and the best way to scare the hell out of people (no pun intended) is to be were the action is. Activist groups and citizens are up in arms about the video, since taken down by the flock. But the church stands by their actions. McKinney, who calls herself a "prophet", told the press, ""Every Sunday we call people up to the altar who want to be delivered from any spirit that causes them to not be able to function. We were just beginning to worship the Lord and all of a sudden he hit the floor."

"Manifested Glory Ministries is not against homosexuality. We do not hate them," the reverend said. "We do not come up against them. We do just not believe in their lifestyle." I'm sure it makes sense to someone. Is that anything like a double negative?

And did their purging work? According to the executive director of True Colors, Robin McHeavin, the boy told their organization he has since been "engaging in risky behavior". I guess if you take something out of someone, you just have to put it back in.

This is actual footage from the "exorcism":

Monday, June 22, 2009

Just One Final Poke...

After the last post, I couldn't resist mentioning this little find. If you're a skater (or just happen to like them), you might find this interesting. The demented... er, creative guys behind Roger Skateboards, Stacy Lowery and Michael Sieben, have one board in particular with a mention.

What is it about a skateboard featuring a ghost with a boner that's so interesting? Beats me. No, not some obsession with necrophilia. It's just... bizarre. But bizarre in a good way, hence it earning a place on here. My humor quotient is way down lately, so I figure, what better way to get back into the swing of things (sorry... bad joke). hey, it could've been worse... I could've mentioned the trouser snake one.

That is all for now. No more lewd paranormal talk or mental images of sharking ghosts for you today. Carry on as you were.

Sleeping with a Stiff in St. Louis...

Our next story which fell through the cracks during book research brings us deeper into the center of the United States. This time, the setting is St. Louis, Missouri during the mid-1980s. It centered around a musician named David Udell and an unusual experience which he recalled on his blog.

At this time in his life, David called an apartment on Oregon Avenue his home. It was by no means spacious; with a mock recording studio taking up one entire room, his bedroom consisted of a large converted storage room facing the street, just large enough for sleeping quarters. The streetlights maintained a certain level of illumination on David's bed all through the night. His more-fortunate roommate stayed in a separate bedroom in the rear of the home.

On one particular night in either 1983 or 84, he was settling down after a late night. It was some time after three in the morning when he laid down on his mattress to get a bit of shuteye, his back turned toward the doorway. Moments later, he heard the sound of what he believed to be his then-girlfriend entering his room. He felt some comfort as he felt someone slip in bed beside him, nuzzling up close in a spooning position. Playfully, he reached around and gave her rear a squeeze. For reasons still unknown to him, he felt a compulsion to reach around to the front.

What awaited him wasn't anything he had expected. His hand latched onto something. Something becoming stiff. Whatever was in bed with him wasn't a woman, and it seemed a bit too happy to see him. David yelled and turned around, only to find himself alone. In seconds, he was out from beneath the covers and bounding over studio equipment in a mad dash for his roommate's bedroom. Waking him from his sleep, David told him of his experience and forced him to stay awake with him until daylight came.

When David's roommate asked him if he finally believed in the paranormal, his response was a weak and sheepish "no..."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Spirit of No Importance...

When the great playwright Oscar Wilde died penniless in a cheap Paris hotel room in 1900, he never would've imagined his posthumous fame. Yet after decades of silence regarding the writer, somewhat humiliated publicly by the trials concerning his sexuality, he is today viewed as one of the greats. In 1962, The Letters of Oscar Wilde was published and accepted by a more open-minded population. That same year, a lesser-known event occurred: Oscar Wilde apparently returned from the grave.

It happened in a séance room belonging to Leslie Flint, often regarded as one of the great British mediums who held up to ridicule and testing. Flint was known to contact both common people and celebrities in his time through an ectoplasmic "voice box", which would appear during mediumship, making the words come not from his own lips but the nearby air. On the 30th of August, a spirit came through in the presence of George Woods and Betty Greene. After much aloofness, it declared itself as Oscar Wilde.

The author spoke of his life and afterlife, and views of many differing topics for quite some time before fading away from "lack of energy". Given Flint's fame as a medium, audio recordings were taken of each session starting in 1955. The recording of "the spirit of Oscar Wilde" has survived and can still be listened to today. Many recordings can be found on this website. The full 30-minute recording of the Wilde séance is available online through this link. A partial excerpt and transcript is provided on "Oscar Wilde Returns". British videographer Jim Clark took an excerpt of the recording and jazzed it up slightly. Here is his computer animation of a photograph of Oscar speaking the words recorded almost 47 years ago:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Love Lies Bleeding in the Windy City...

While researching for Queer Paranormal, I ran across a lot of interesting tales from everywhere. Unfortunately, several stories could not be researched enough to earn a spot in my book. In light of Pride Month, however, I think it's an appropriate time to give some mention to these tales and revive this blog from its coma as of late. And so, I bring you a strange tale from Chicago of a haunted apartment and its gay phantom...

Christina* lived with her roommate on the northern end of Chicago during the 1990s in a run-down, old, inexpensive building. Throughout her five years tenancy, strange incidents occurred that made her question whether they were indeed alone. Footsteps paced the floor between the kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen itself seemed to be a hot spot for activity; sounds of a chair dragged across the linoleum floor and silverware being put away were not uncommon. But one incident in 1997 escalated the spooky goings-on to a new level.

One hot summer's day, Christina relaxed in her room, absorbed in a book while stretched out on her bed. She was suddenly struck with unexplainable paralysis. As she looked toward the end of her bed, a shirtless man stood there before her. He appeared to be in his late 20s, with a muscular torso and handsome face twisted into an irate expression. His whole body exuded anger, so powerful that Christina felt the pain in her own limbs. They stared at one another for an agonizing moment before the young man slowly faded into the air. Able to move once more, Christina ran from her room and stayed out of the apartment until her roommate returned. Knowing her roommate's fear of ghosts, she didn't mention the unnerving event.

Two years passed. When the landlord announced the building had been sold, Christina decided to inquire into the strange event. During a conversation with the owner, the owner mentioned thatsince they would soon be out of the apartmentshe had a confession to make. She had not been entirely up-front about the history of their apartment. In the years before Christina and her roommate moved in, the ground floor space had been rented by a gay couple, one of whom was a very handsome, athletic young man... the other, somewhat older. At that time, the neighborhood was very gay-identified, even having a few bars nearby. Both men were involved in S&M, and consumed a lot of drugs. Perhaps the substances contributed to the constant arguments heard from their apartment. The police were called on many occasions to break up the fights.

On one particular night, the couple returned from a night of heavy drinking and partying. An argument began, and escalated quickly from the alcohol. In a passionate rage, the older man stabbed his young lover to death in the very bedroom used by Christina. the murderer was sent to prison for his crimes, but the landlord remembered the horror of cleaning up the aftermath. Christina asked for a more detailed description, and it matched the apparition she had witnessed perfectly.

Whatever became of the the apartment (or even it's location), as well as the haunting presence of the angry young lover are not a mystery. But undoubtedly, somewhere in Chicago, the wandering spirit of the murdered man still lingers, filled with rage over his life cut short so early.

*Complete name unknown; anyone knowing this person or the apartment, please contact me!