Sunday, February 28, 2010

Living Lost in the Woods...

Life has a way of keeping you on your toes. You never quite know just what will come next. In my own life, I often find myself at crossroads with decisions and choices immediately ahead of me. There is little time to think or react, and once a path is chosen even more forks in the road are right beyond that point. It's a world where we have to make split-second decisions on matters that require more thought than a fleeting glance. Take a breath. Decide. Hope for the best.

One of two things are possible for me in the coming months. Either a) a whole lot of nothing will change and the stagnancy will remain; or b) my entire life is going to be severely altered in one immense upheaval and I will find myself surrounded by uncertainty and unfamiliar everything. Neither presents itself as a comfortable prospect. I hate being in a situation where I have no clue what is on the horizon just as much as I loathe living a dull, uneventful life. I'm terrified, confused, and on mental overload.

Last year, I experienced a lot of frightening and abrupt changes from the normal routine. I journeyed to far-away places to see what good could come from it. I met wonderful people along the way and while I felt great trepidation on my travels, things were pleasant in reflection. I poked my head out of my safe-but-tiresome surroundings for the first time in a great while. It was worth it every time. But now I see it was merely a testing ground for my willingness to take broad steps outside the familiar. I rode around the block by myself without training wheels. Now, I look ahead and see the vast landscape ahead, a wild oblivion of streets and rolling hills, as the pit of my stomach does a backflip while I contemplate a greater voyage.

So, if I fail to write too much in the near future, know that part of the time is spent immersed in a new book I'm working on... and the rest of the time is paralyzed by the fears and decisions rushing up on me faster than I'd care to think about. I always say that I don't want to lead a dull existence, that I want my life to be interesting and meaningful and adventurous. Now that certain things are right in front of my face, however, I have to decide if I can practice what I preach... or if my own phobias and worries will stop me in my tracks before taking a single step.

Monday, February 22, 2010

There's Ghosts in Them Thar Hills...

I'll confess I haven't been reading much lately. As a writer that's probably a very poor decision on my part. Yet occasionally, I do take the time for reading. And given that I'm slowly getting myself back in writing mode and preparing to start a new book (no, not the sequel at this point), it would be wise for me to get back into reading as well. Still, I can be picky with literature. And my limited bookshelf reflects that.

In any event, I did manage to pick up a new book this week and was pleasantly surprised with it. It's the first book by paranormal investigator Heather Woodward, founder of PISA Paranormal, called Ghosts of Central Arizona. The best part (and to me, a sign of a truly enjoyable book) is that I caught myself laughing out loud at moments. Over a ghost book. Who knew?

Heather has a very good head on her shoulders, especially for someone who considers herself a medium. That's not to say that all psychics can be flakes, but so many have an air of arrogance and tendency to be totally unrealistic. They know all. Everything is paranormal. So to read the writing of someone who has the ability to be skeptical and rational is refreshing, especially from someone with some form of psi ability. And the idea that she can find humor in both her own life and the paranormal realm is a wonderful thing as well (especially since those of you who read this blog probably have noticed I take very little too seriously).

Her book teaches ghost hunting basics while it explores the various haunted places in a few cities in the state. Not only does she talk about Mile High Grill & Inn (which I mentioned in a Queer Paranormal Road Trip post a while back), but onward to Sedona (known for its vortexes and its infamy as a "metaphysical mecca") and the Superstition Mountains (a deadly place with legendary gold).

Quite simply, it's an amusing book from an amusing person, both grounded and interesting. And with the overall not-so-serious feel of the writing, certainly something that anyone who likes this blog should take a look at...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Paranormal Fiction Leads to True Lesbian Love...

Normally, I'm not a major fan of audio books, or even digital books for that matter. But for once, I've actually been looking into listening to my first audio book... and it ended up being a very educational experience.

for years now, I've been a big fan of author Daniel Hecht. And had it not been for his email to me years ago when he was starting his Cree Black thriller series, I probably wouldn't have known his name. But they are wonderful reads, all about a female paranormal investigator with some psychic ability solving interesting mysteries with supernatural ties. His last book, Bones of the Barbary Coast, was excellent (and I still need to get the hardcover to add to my shelf) so I decided to look his books up in the audio listings. There it was... read by one Anna Fields. It turns out she's a well-known name in the world of audio books. And it gets even more interesting.

Barbary Coast was released in the summer of 2006. In December, tragedy struck in Seattle. On the 14th, a flash flood struck the area and an actress by the name of Kate Fleming was trapped in her basement recording studio after part of the foundation collapsed. Fleming also recorded for audio books, under the name--you guessed it--Anna Fields. Her partner of nine years, Charlene Strong, was helpless to stop her death. And even now, she is haunted by the tragedy... and turned her plight into a film.

Strong has become known in the past few years as a champion for same-sex partner rights. It was never her intention, but after the untimely death of her partner Fleming at only 41, she found herself in the public eye. Through her actions, Washington State passed legislation for Domestic Partnership rights. The documentary For My Wife chronicles her story, from grieving widow to activist.

I can't help but wonder if Barbary Coast was one of her final projects. If you've ever read the book, you'll note some interesting irony between these two stories. If not, I highly recommend it. Here I set out simply to glance through an audio version of one of my favorite paranormal-themed fiction books... and ended up learning a lot more than I bargained for.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Even the Dead are in Love Today...

Today is the final day for the By My Valentine Blog Tour. I thank everyone who stopped by and commented and wish you luck with the book winning contests... and I hope my usual readers were a bit entertained in the process. Whether any of you wish to hear it or not, Happy St. Valentine's Day.

Love comes in all varieties, from passionately physical to kindred friendships. While I mostly covered the more physical types over the past few days, today is somewhat different. Two years ago, I wrote a blog post on love which still rings true even today. And I think it's a good time to look back on a few of the things I said back then:
Everyone wants to be loved. Some people go to extremes to have it. During moments of desperation, we forsake our own happiness... our individuality... for a pair of arms to wrap around us and feel momentarily comforted. We forget the negative aspects of bad relationships in the hope that there is a silver lining to the dark, gloomy cloud.

We forget what love is.

Love isn't about gifts of roses and chocolate. It isn't candlelit dinners for two. It isn't a house with 2.5 children and a white picket fence. Love is comfort. It's not needing to explain yourself a million times or striving for that little reassuring word or action. It's unconditional support and nurturing. It can't be wrapped with a bow. It can't be asked for.
No matter who you are, or where you're from, remember these words today. They're important. They're words to live by. In delving into the paranormal for these nearly 15 years, love is a common string. Unrequited love. Waiting for a lover to return. Dying in the name of love. So many stories of devotion and heartache, great joy and the deepest sadness. Love is a powerful force, no matter the form, and it begs to be acknowledged.

But let's end this on a lighter note. For those of you adults out there, I saved the best photo for last. So if you care to see an artist's rendering of male-on-male, ghost-and-living action, be sure to click here!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Tour Continues With Spectral Sexuality...

Welcome back to another day for the Be My Valentine Blog Tour! Tomorrow's that wonderful (or dreaded) day all about love and stuff. But here, I've decided to once more focus on the act, rather than the emotional attachment involved. Specifically, sex and the afterlife.

A lot of people wonder if there is lust still after death and I've read just about every opinion on the matter that you can imagine. Some from psychics and "experts" saying adamantly that no, there is nothing of the sort in the spirit world. We "transcend" these "bodily desires" in some form of enlightened nirvana, according to the vocal majority. But I find that very difficult to believe. There are ghosts of murderers and victims of crimes still holding on to their grief and emotions in almost every ghost story you find. Ghosts don't seem to be leaving ANYTHING behind, especially feelings and emotions. Is it really so realistic to think that sex drive is fully attached to the physical body?

And then, we have the obvious examples that sex and death can overlap: incubi and succubi. Both of these spirits are said too attack women and men, respectively, and though the incubus is often male and succubus is often female, there are some possibilities of overlap with same-sex relations. As I mentioned in Queer Hauntings, a possible incubus in Zanzibar--known as Popobawa--is male and seems to have an affinity toward male victims (as depicted in the picture below). Then there are other cases of people reporting rapes involving ghosts and spirits, and even some apparitions with very sexual behaviors. From pinching lesbian ghosts to spectral male trouser enthusiasts to a Midwest haunt where the ghost seems to sport an erection, it doesn't seem very likely that the afterlife lacks the pursuit of physical pleasure.

And on that lurid not, let's bring on a bit more interesting eye candy:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Touring It Up to My Bloody Valentine's...

Welcome everyone from the Be My Valentine Blog Tour and Liquid Silver Books, as well as my other regular (and perhaps bewildered) readers. Some of you may be wondering why a nonfiction writer is partaking in a blog tour dedicated to mainly romance authors and books of that vein. Well, for one I have many friends who write fiction (especially m/m romance) and I do indulge in a wide variety of reading. Secondly... well, being an author of a book dealing with LGBT-related paranormal phenomena, it seems most people aren't quite sure what to classify my work as. A book like Queer Hauntings has never before been written, so I seem to be caught in limbo hovering somewhere between New Age and Gay Fiction.

And in some cases, truth really does meet fiction. Author Jeanne Barrack and I became friends not long after she wrote The Sweet Flag about a gay ghost hunter and civil war spirit. For her, it was a surprise to find a real-life gay paranormal investigator (though I hate too admit I bare no physical resemblance to her character) after creating a fictional person with so many similarities. Had she known about me before then, I'm sure she would have picked my brain for her research. And there are a few other romance books chronicling the queerer side of the paranormal. Author Ally Blue writes a series involving Bay City Paranormal Investigations, a fictional paranormal troop headed by a gay paranormal investigator, Sam Raintree. And that's not even including the many other romance writers who tell tales of ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural beings with a gay slant.

While we often think of this as a "time of love" with the approaching holiday, it is also a time of lust. And generally-speaking, the two can easily become intertwined. And now, to appease that lustful side of many of you, here are a few of the more interesting images I've run across (click the photos to enlarge, they will open in a new window):

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Down But Not Dead Yet...

It's been a rather interesting week here, and I do apologize to those of you who were getting used to regular updates again. A week of stress, major back aches, headaches, upsetting news, new ventures, and dentist visits has had me out of commission, so to speak. Even now, I could really use a Tylenol or two. But I wanted to assure everyone that I am still very much alive, though not kicking vigorously. And although I waffled around New Years, Spooked! shall live on.

I'll be taking an online hiatus for a few days while I recover physically and mentally from the recent overload. But I have arranged a few entries to post automatically in my absence. They may be a slight departure from my standard ramblings and strangeness, since my blog will be part of a blog tour over the next three days. This means a bit less babble and a lot more eye candy. When I return in a few days to my usual online presence (and depending on where I am at the time and what else is going on) I should be returning to regular posts once more, if not every weekday then hopefully 3-4 times a week. And so, until Sunday... enjoy the end of your week and remember to find the humor in everything...

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Notorious"... And Now Haunted?

For those of you who are fans of primetime television's supernatural series Ghost Whisperer on CBS, you may have noticed the newest cast addition is none other than gay icon and stand-up comedian Margaret Cho. She will have a recurring role as Anthropology Professor Avery Grant, a rather serious (and perhaps a bit snobbish) role which might surprise Cho fans. Most of us know her better as an outlandish and blunt funny woman instead of the weeping widow.

Her debut appearance featured her communicating with a spirit with the aid of a Ouija board, an item with which Margaret is quite familiar (and I'm jealous of her collection). It may surprise some people to know that the comedian is actually a believer in the paranormal. In fact, on her MySpace profile, it clearly states she would like to meet " bottoms, bears, paranormal investigators,..." and a slew of other fascinating people. Perhaps she is a girl after my own heart, considering I quite possibly meet all those qualifications (ok... so the first one is relative).

Here's a brief behind-the-scenes interview with the comedian on her experience with the show and her thoughts on Ouija:

Dragged into a World of Lycanthropy...

Many of us remember that rather interesting scene from An American Werewolf in London where Hollywood magic met full nudity, watching a man transform into a hairy beast while sprawled out naked on the floor. Perhaps a few of us found it strangely sexy on some amusing level, while others were intrigued by the thought that we could change our outward appearance in such a drastic way (if only in our imaginations). The werewolf remains an iconic image from classic movie horrors. Even modern audiences still thrill over vampires, ghosts,... and now the lycanthrope.

From Joe Johnston (director of Jumanji, The Rocketeer, and Jurrasic Park III) and writers Andrew Kevin Walker (who wrote the screenplays for Sleepy Hollow and Se7en) and David Self (The Haunting) comes a new remake of The Wolfman, due for release in theatres this week. At first glance, the film does seem to have a certain Tim Burton quality to it which might be caused by the music (written by my personal favorite composer Danny Elfman).

There is quite an impressive cast for Wolfman... and one in particular may be of special interest to you, dear readers. Some of you might recognize Hugo Weaving from The Matrix while I prefer to remember him as "Felicia Jollygoodfellow" in the gay Australian flick The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. It seems all three lead actors from the film have gone on to bigger and better things. Movie fanatics may recognize another cast member from Priscilla (Terence Stamp, who played the transsexual "Bernadette") from his role as the butler in Disney's The Haunted Mansion.

Though I'm afraid Wolfman fails to bring out any cross-dressing creatures, the image might give a few moviegoers something interesting to imagine while seeing Hugo on the big screen. Without further adieu, I bring you the official movie trailer:

Friday, February 5, 2010

Supernatural Spotlight: Jeffrey Justice

Well over a year has passed since my last post highlighting someone in the paranormal field. And it was my intention to write about Jeffrey over 4 months ago, but as they say better late than never. In the past year, I have come to know him as a good friend and fascinating individual, regardless of his various talents. But as with everyone I've written about on this blog, whether I know them personally or not, I do my best to set aside any personal bias I may have and give those I deem worthy of some praise a bit of the limelight.

Honestly, I have known several dozen psychics and mediums in my life and they have run the gambit between truly talented and complete frauds. From my own experience, Jeffrey Justice falls into the former category. A Massachusetts native and direct descendant of those disturbing people called the Puritans who landed off Cape Cod nearly 400 years ago, Jeffrey comes from a long lineage of people with some form of psychic ability. While his parents wished for him to have a normal life and avoided discussing any strange experiences he encountered as a child, his grandmother helped him better understand the nature of what people often describe as "the gift."

Although he has received some press coverage for his talents as a medium, Jeffrey is widely unknown outside his native New England. Yet perhaps that is as he would prefer it to be. Although mediumship is his profession and full-time business, he doesn't wish to find fame and fortune in his supernatural abilities. He does offer his services as a medium, tarot reader, channeler, numerologist, and much more to the public and can be found at certain events in and around Salem (founded by his ancestor Roger Conant), yet doesn't wish to spend his entire life being "The Mayflower Medium", as he is often dubbed. His greatest ambition is pursuing a literary career... and perhaps living in a warmer climate.

Wherever his life may take him, there is no doubt that the paranormal will always haunt him. It's difficult to entirely turn your back on the supernatural once it's in your blood. But at least for now, people from New England and beyond can contact him and explore his talents of the metaphysical variety. Whether or not you choose to believe in psi abilities or the ability of a living individual to contact the dead, Jeffrey is a fascinating individual and worthy of a bit of praise and notice.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ghosts and Goblins Get Down and Dirty...

Everywhere you look these days, paranormal and supernatural themes are quite popular. Some of the most talked about books and movies feature ghosts or vampires. Even on television, the inundation of witchcraft, hauntings, and monsters is extremely obvious. As a society, we love the mysterious, the unknown, and the surreal. And it reflects in everything... including subjects of a more adult nature.

Yes, believe it or not, even pornography has crossed over into these supernatural realms in the past few years.

I debated for a long time whether to touch on the subject here at Spooked! I've always tried to keep subjects humorous yet not too risqué. But in all honesty, we tend to be very sexual beings and at the same time, you can't help but laugh sometimes as these films. So now, I'd like to take a moment to finally give those of you who enjoy such things a little interesting insight into the world where porn meets the paranormal. And for those of you who wish not to subject yourself to such material, feel free to stop reading now and skip along to a different post.

Continue Reading...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Save a Horse, Ride a Centaur...

More than a few of us have dated a jackass, but usually it's not something meant literally. Though to some, that idea just might be appealing. But in these instances, we hardly even consider the possibility that it could lead to a half-human newborn. It's simply impossible, right? Well, as bizarre as it may sound, some experts say that not only is it plausible, but it may be a real part of history for thousands of years.

In 2005, a study of approximately 5,000 rock paintings in South Africa and Australia dating as early as 30,000 BC by University of Cambridge anthropologist Christopher Chippendale and Dr. Paul Takon of the Australian Museum led the duo to a fascinating conclusion: primitive man lacked the imagination to paint what he could not see, therefore such creatures must have existed. In their new visualization of early man, our ancestors walked the earth alongside these half human beings, known collectively as therianthropes. They surmised that while the frequency and chance occurrence of such births would have been rare, the "beasts" from mythology most likely did exist.

The most famous examples come from Greek mythology. The centaur (from Ancient Greek Κένταυροι or Kéntauroi, meaning "piercing bull-stickers") was half-human, half-horse and is seen even today as an iconic image of mythical creatures, as well as the symbol of Sagittarius in astrology. Soldiers during ancient times would bring sheep and goats with them as both a source of food and sexual relief, since it was deemed less sinful than sleeping with a prostitute (my goodness, how times have changed). The Roman poet Juvenal even made mention that "Roman women often exposed their naked buttocks to tempt donkeys into sex contacts."

Well-respected scholars of the past, including the Italian lecturer and philosopher Fortunio Liceti, recorded several births of therianthropes (both born from humans and animals). Even in more recent history, mentions of half-human births were found in medical books of the 19th and 20th centuries. Although genetically-speaking, animals and humans vary only slightly, modern science held out for some time on the belief that interbreeding was even feasible, yet experiments are said to have resulted in successfully creating organisms with both human and animal cells.

So, could your next boyfriend be a centaur or girlfriend be the REAL cat-woman? Not very likely. Russian biologist Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov attempted such experiments during the 1920s and all his attempts were thwarted before his eventual exile to Almaty due to public outcry. Beastiality, even in the name of science, is seriously frowned upon by the general population. Yet who knows? Perhaps in some remote land, far from societal pressures and taboos, any one of us could very well find a four-legged, two armed man of our dreams who is quite literally hung like a horse.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ballsy Specter or Unfortunate Urology?

A rather creepy photograph has haunted Wales for nearly 14 years. While many may be unaware of it, one lucky gentleman has had his private bits immortalized by a rather comical article written up in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

An ultrasound performed in 1996 at Royal Gwent Hospital on a 45-year-old patient was far from normal. Doctors were attempting to locate an undescended right testis in the patient, yet it wasn't found. Instead, in the patient's sac where a normal testis would be found was a rather peculiar image. The radiologist J R Harding (quite a fitting name) described it as a "screaming ghost-like apparition". But you can feel free to judge for yourself:

As Harding stated, "If you were a right testis, would you want to share a scrotum with that?"