The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Military funding of paranormal spies and warriors

Another of those things stranger than fiction. From a review of Jon Ronson’s The Men Who Stare at Goats originally published in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May/June 2005:

Then, in 1995, the story broke that for the previous 25 years the U.S. Army had invested $20 million in a highly secret psychic spy program called Star Gate (also Grill Flame and Scanate), a Cold War project intended to close the “psi gap” (the psychic equivalent of the missile gap) between the United States and Soviet Union. The Soviets were training psychic spies, so we would as well. The Men Who Stare at Goats, by British investigative journalist Jon Ronson, is the story of this program, how it started, the bizarre twists and turns it took, and how its legacy carries on today. (Ronson’s previous book, Them: Adventures with Extremists, explored the paranoid world of cult mongers and conspiracy theorists.) In a highly readable narrative style, Ronson takes readers on a Looking Glass-like tour of what U.S. Psychological Operations (PsyOps) forces were researching: invisibility, levitation, telekinesis, walking through walls, and even killing goats just by staring at them (the ultimate goal was killing enemy soldiers telepathically). In one project, psychic spies attempted to use “remote viewing” to identify the location of missile silos, submarines, POWs, and MIAs from a small room in a run-down Maryland building. If these skills could be honed and combined, perhaps military officials could zap remotely viewed enemy missiles in their silos, or so the thinking went. Initially, the Star Gate story received broad media attention—including a spot on ABC’s Nightline—and made a few of the psychic spies, such as Ed Dames and Joe McMoneagle, minor celebrities. As regular guests on Art Bell’s pro-paranormal radio talk show, the former spies spun tales that, had they not been documented elsewhere, would have seemed like the ramblings of paranoid cultists. (There is even a connection between Ed Dames, Art Bell, and the Heaven’s Gate cult mass suicide in 1997, in which 39 UFO dev
I've listened to Ed Dames on Art Bell's show many a night. I won't jump into the debate of whether he's credible or not. I will point out that I believe it was proven he had a better track record of accuracy than other, mundane methods used by the CIA and DIA, but then again, looking at some of their failures of late, that's not saying much. I do know I'm looking forward to reading the book, The Men Who Stare At Goats.

I'll also point out that the FBI consulted the military during the siege of Waco. We all saw how well that turned out.

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National Catholic Reporter vs. Father Malachi Martin

The famous exorcist may be dead, but that doesn't stop the National Catholic Reporter from kicking him while he's down.

Back in the 1970s, when possession and exorcism were the cinematic and fictional flavor of the era -- one that historian Martin Marty appropriately called “the silly season” -- it fell to my lot to conduct a pre-publication review of Malachi Martin’s sensational book Hostage to the Devil. I was allied in this with an internationally celebrated clinical psychologist. Working independently, our conclusion was the same: Martin’s five “cases” were fabrications of an inventive but disturbed mind, lacking all psychological, historical, theological and pastoral credibility. Some time later, I interviewed Malachi Martin on television. A former priest, Martin had left the Jesuit order under cloudy conditions, to say the least. (The sordid details were described in Robert Blair Kaiser’s agonized 2002 memoir, Clerical Error: A True Story.) In person, I found Martin to be a clever, charming, engaging Irish rogue who evaded every effort to document the instances of possession he so graphically described. In the end, my earlier suspicion that Martin was a deeply disturbed individual was strongly reinforced.

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A ghost hunt at 'the Mouth of Hell'

Why do people always go to the Mouth of Hell when I'm not around? Seriously, if I didn't have to be out of town this weekend, this is where I'd be:

APRIL 30, 2005


They were the forgotten men! It was the Mouth of Hell!Those who died are restless souls…crying out for help…wandering the battlefield looking for lost friends…waiting for the proper burial that NEVER came!

The bodies were forgotten for so long that many became fodder for the roaming pigs. A local farmer whose family lived on the battlefield during the Battle of Antietam took me to this place. He wouldn't even get out of the car.

"My grandmother heard the screams comin' from here from thedying about a week after the battle. She made my grandfather and uncles get in the wagon to go check. When they got here, they could hear the screams and wails of the wounded…but wasn't one ofthem left alive. Never used that part of our fields agin. Never came here agin. They didn't eat the pigs that come down here,neither. You stay away from here, Missy! This here's the mouth ofHell!"


April 30, 2005

Meet us at 8:30 PM in the parking lot behind McDonald's in Shepherdstown off of Route 45 East.

(There's only one McDonalds in Shepherdstown!)

$25 per person. Reservations, please!

This Investigation is not appropriate for elementary school-aged children.


For a list of upcoming events, visit the West Virginia Society of Ghost Hunters. You also may join their Yahoo group for details of upcoming events, classes and reports of their investigations.

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Archaeologists dig into an Iranian mystery


A team of Iranian archaeologists is trying to solve the riddle of why a newly discovered Median monument had been deliberately concealed with material such as stones, bricks, and mud, the director of the team working at the site announced on Tuesday.

“The monument contains one large and one small room constructed in a circular plan. The rooms have been filled almost to the ceiling with stones and their outer section has been hidden with a wall made of stone and brick which is about two meters thick,” Mehrdad Malekzadeh said in reference to the Median monument which was discovered at the ancient site of Zarbolagh near the central Iranian city of Qom. “The arrangement of the stones and the high precision (used in their construction) indicate that the camouflage had been created deliberately. In fact, the inhabitants probably wanted to prevent any access to the monument in the future,” he said.

snip “Excavations carried out by British archaeologist David Stronach at Nushijan Tepe in the 1960s led to the discovery of a temple with a beautiful fire altar. The temple was the only example of a camouflaged Median monument for years, but another was unearthed at Ozbaki Tepe over the past few years. This one was a sacrifice altar,” Malekzadeh explained.
Maybe because the site was cursed and the people in the past wanted to protect future generations? (That's how I'd write it.)

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Book worthy of 'DaVinci Code' discovered in Wales

From The Western Mail:

Just like Dan Brown's book, the dusty document contains long forgotten insights into the history and relationships of Jesus Christ.

Now scholars at a Welsh college believe they have unearthed their own version of the Da Vinci code with the discovery of a 400-year-old book. Entitled The Genealogy of Jesus Christ, it has spent the past 70 years locked in the dusty depths of the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Papyrus yields ancient secrets to new technology

National Geographic has new details on the stories I blogged earlier this month including an intriguing detail at the bottom of this post:

Similarly, Biblical scholars can expect valuable new material to emerge as some gospels that weren't included in the New Testament didn't survive. "The texts that are in the Bible were selected out of a much larger body of work that once circulated," Obbink said. "We have samples of that material here." snip He says the Oxyrhynchus collection holds a lot of information about the rise of Christianity during the Roman period. (Egypt became part of the Roman Empire after Cleopatra's fleet was defeated at the battle of Actium in 31 B.C.). "[Christianity] starts out as a small social phenomenon, then just takes over everything," Obbink said. "You can see other cultural sea changes taking place—changes in taxes, changes in rule. It's all reflected in the papyrus." Oxyrhynchus, 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of modern-day Cairo, rose to prominence under Egypt's Greek and Roman rulers. The town's papyrus-rich garbage heaps were excavated in the late 1890s by two Oxford University fellows, B.P. Grenfell and A.S. Hunt. Researchers have been painstakingly piecing together the Oxyrhynchus papyri fragments ever since. So far 65 volumes of transcripts and translations have been published by the London-based Egypt Exploration Society, which owns the collection. The latest volume includes details of fragments showing third- and fourth-century versions of the Book of Revelations. Intriguingly, the number assigned to "the Beast" of Revelations isn't the usual 666, but 616.
I'll leave it to the End Timers and conspiracy experts to figure out what that means. UPDATED Leave it to the fine folks at The Daily Grail to point us to the answer so quickly. The Marvel Universe that we read about in the comics is dubbed Earth-616 (as opposed to the many alternative universes, timelines, planes of existence, etc.) Alan Moore apparently created the reference. From Wikipedia:
Another theory is that Moore simply chose a random number to show the "mainstream" Earth was inherently no more important than any other (unlike DC Comics, whose Earth was known at the time as Earth-1). It is possible that Moore's choice was inspired by the release date of Fantastic Four #1, which is considered by most to be the date the modern Marvel Universe was launched. Although the cover date of the comic book is given as November 1961, there are claims that the comic book was released as early as June 1961, hence, "61/6" [1] ( It is also possible that "616" is a reference to the Number of the Beast in the final chapter of the Christian Bible, the Book of Revelation (or the Apocalypse of John). While most early manuscripts give the Number of the Beast as "666", the earliest existing fragment of the Greek text of this book gives it as "616". Irenaeus argued against the "616" number in his neverending battle against early heresies. Moore, a student of mystic esoterica from a very early age, could well have known about this alternate rendering. Quite why the Marvel Universe should even be named after the Number of the Beast may be an indirect reference to set it apart from the DC Universe. For many years, the headquarters of DC Comics was located at 666 Fifth Avenue in New York City. Thus, the name could be a subtle joke that the DC Universe was Earth-666 while the Marvel Universe was Earth-616; both numbers, of course, are renderings of the Number of the Beast.

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Experts dismiss link between full moon, behavior

From the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader:

So, if the effect is a myth (as most experts say it is), how did the full moon get associated with wild behaviors in the first place? After all, there's a long history of blaming it for acting out — the term "lunatic" has its roots in the word "luna," which is Latin for moon.

William Wedenoja, a professor of anthropology at Southwest Missouri State University, wonders whether the full moon had more of an immediate effect on people's behavior in the past.

"Basically (without artificial lighting) it's dark after the sun goes down, but if there's a full moon, you can stay awake later into the evening," Wedenoja said. That means, before artificial lighting, people could be more active on full-moon nights.

Also, Wedenoja said, a connection between full moons and out-of-the-ordinary events could be more a perception than a fact.

"We have the persistency to believe things even when there's no foundation," he said. "If you expect your patients to act odd on a full-moon night, they are always acting odd."

On the other hand, there's this exchange from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein: Larry Talbot: You don't understand. Every night when the moon is full, I turn into a wolf. Wilbur: You and twenty million other guys!

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Scientists study Lake Erie's 'Dead Zone'

This could make for the plot of a horror story if I ever get back into the groove of writing fiction. From the Detroit Free Press:

An expanding, oxygen-starved "dead zone" in Lake Erie is generating a massive international mobilization of scientists, high-tech equipment and research vessels to find clues to the biological mystery.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Ann Arbor-based Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory will lead the 2-year study, one of the largest such probes of Lake Erie.

Launched this week, the study involves dozens of experts from Canada, Great Lakes states, universities and federal agencies. Potential factors contributing to the dead zone include the zebra mussel, low water levels and fertilizer runoff from large factory farms, experts say.

"We not only want to find out why this is happening, we want to find out how it might affect the food web and what the consequences might be," Stephen Brandt, director of the research lab, said Monday.

Too bad reality is providing too many horrors. Fictional horrors need not apply.

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'Witches' lynched in India

This is horrifying. Two women suspected of witchcraft were lynched in their village in northern India. The Courier-Mail in Australia has the shocking story:

A Tribal mob in northeastern India lynched and decapitated two women accused of practising witchcraft, threw their bodies into a river and paraded their heads as trophies, police said.

The mob dragged the 60-year-old Bodo tribal woman and her 30-year-old daughter from their village in Jarbari, 280 km west of Assam state's main city of Guwahati, and killed them.


Eight people have been arrested over the attack. Witchcraft is practised in various areas in India but is particularly popular in some parts of the remote northeast where it is used to treat ailments or cast spells on enemies.

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Do you want to see something REALLY scary?

Not for the faint of heart. Hat tip to Georgia10.

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The Amityville Snorer

I finally made it to the Berkeley Plaza Cinema 7 to see the Amityville Horror. I thought the trailer looked good and my hopes were raised when the makers decided to go with an R-rating instead of the more financially safe PG-13. I had the almost perfect setting to see a scary movie. My usual movie-going buddy had to work and the theater, for a late showing on a Tuesday night in April, was dead. I sat alone in the theater. I had my $5 ticket in my pocket, my $2 bag of popcorn in my lap and a readiness to suspend belief and be thrilled. After watching the movie, I'm really not sure why The Amityville Horror deserved the R-rating or how it would have been less effective at PG-13. There's more skin shown in the average NYPD Blue episode and more horror and violence seen in an episode of The Shield. Certainly the movie had better special effects than the original yet it's not the size of your special effects it's what you do with them that counts. The movie begins promising with the slayings of the family in the Amityville house: effective, brutal and to the point. Yet after that, the movie meanders and never seems to remember if it's a ghost movie or a psychological thriller with the husband going slowly insane. Certainly the elements of possession that are hinted at could have been presented in a more believable and frightening manner. The original released in 1979 was weak material to begin with. As Stephen King describes it in his review of horror fiction, Danse Macabre, the 1979 movie was "stupid," "transparent" and "simplistic." Yet King modified his view of the movie from between his review of it in Rolling Stone magazine and by the time he wrote Danse Macabre. He still saw it as stupid and transparent, but he recognized the elements that worked that he originally missed. One reason the movie worked, and it was a huge box office success in 1979, was in allowing the viewers to follow a simple story. The simplicity allowed the audience to exercise their imaginations and accept the inexplicable without clutter requiring them to think. As King wrote:

"Simplicity may not always make great artistic sense, but it often makes the greatest impact on minds which have little imaginative capacity or uponminds in which the imaginative capabilities has been little exercised."
We saw it in the results in the 2004 election. Many listened to the simple message and accepted what they were told no matter how outlandish rather than to think for themselves and to comprehend more sophisticated, but necessarily more complex positions. The other reason the original movie worked well, the "real watchspring" as King describes it, is the subtext of tremendous economic unease. The 1970s were a difficult time for most Americans just as today's economy is difficult. The middle class is being squeezed out of existence. When $1,500 goes missing to cover the wedding party caterer, you see the agony in the faces. There is genuine horror when Mr. Lutz writes a check to cover the cost and knows he does not have the money in the account to cover it and the other bills.
"Brolin's check may not have been 100 percent Goodyear rubber, but in his sunken, purple-pouched eyes we see a man who didn't really have the money any more than his hapless brother-in-law did," King wrote. "Here is a man tottering on the brink of his own financial crash. He finds the only trace under the couch: a bank money-band with the numerals $500 stamped on it. The band lies there on the rug, tauntingly empty. 'Where is it?' Brolin screams, his voice vibrating with anger, frustration and fear. At that one moment we hear the ring of Waterford, clear and true -- or if you like, we hear that one quiet phrase of pure music in a film that is otherwise all crash and bash."
As King describes it, everything that works best in the movie is summed up in that scene. The house is slowly strangling the family financially and that is understandable by the vast majority of movie goers, particularly those today with gasoline at $2.35 per gallon and corporations shipping good paying jobs to low-wage earners in Asia in order to make the wealthiest of the country receive even higher dividends. "Think of the bills," King notes a woman sitting behind him in the theater as saying. Certainly today's economic situation is every bit if not even more frightening than in the 1970s. Then most Americans could expect that if they worked hard or studied hard in college and found a job, they would do better than their parents did. Certainly the economic uncertainty caused by record ;national deficits on top of record consumer debt and rising housing costs (whether a bubble or not) causes many, like the woman sitting behind King in the theater, to "Think of the bills." I know what King speaks of. While watching The Ring 2, the only genuine moment of unease for me came when the water gushed out of the television set. "Think of the carpet!" I thought. The water damage. The mildew. The horror. The horror! For someone who waited eight years to buy replacement carpeting and installed it himself to save money, that was the scene I found most effective in The Ring 2. In the current version of the Amityville Horror, it is as if the director, Andrew Douglas, is willing to show the viewers horrific corpses and brutal murders, but flinches when it comes to scaring us with our subconscious financial fears. The actors playing the Lutzs, Ryan Reynolds as George and Melissa George as Kathy, dutifully tell us that all their finances are sunk in the house, but we don't see it. Telling is much weaker than showing in story-telling and movie-making. For a couple worried about finances, neither goes to work. They're not shown scratching their heads as they pay the bills or tearing up the house in an anguished search for missing money. Perhaps it has something to do with how Americans feel about economic class today compared to the 1970s. The images of financial success must always be shown to audiences to create escapism rather than allow the reality of existence to creep into the theater. In the 1970s, the film makers may have trusted the audiences to still look favorably upon those in economically challenged straits. Today's audiences cannot be trusted to see themselves as being anything other than successful for fear it would shatter the illusion (often created by charges to high-interest credit cards) that leads 20 percent of wage earners to believe they are among the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. The movie has many other failures as well: the children see frightening apparitions and are terrified out of their wits, but in the next scene appear to have no memory of the house being haunted; the mother fears leaving the children alone in the house and then proceeds to do that for several scenes; at the end, when they finally must escape, they go past the vehicle parked nearby in the driveway to leave by the speedboat in the boat house far across the lawn. I don't know about you, but if the ghosts are after me, I'm taking the nearest vehicle away. As King explained about the original "...the main reason that people went to see it, I think, is that The Amityville Horror, beneath its ghost-story exterior, is really a financial demolition derby." That seems to be a horror that Hollywood fears to show us today.

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For real horror lovers

I like the vampire one although the devilish one is nice too. Hat tip to NeutralObserver

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Necropoliss. Hauntingly beautiful photos.

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Do you see a ghost?

Ghostcam - Llancaiach Fawr Manor. Some night I'm going to do a round up of "ghostcams." Enjoy. This one is in Wales (in case the name didn't give that away).

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X-Files sequel planned

The Chicago Sun-Times uncovers the truth. Go read the article for the details. Here's my favorite part:

Speaking of which, guess who watches the show now on TNT? Yes, it's Mulder himself. "When we were making the episodes, I'd say, 'Wow, some of them aren't so good.' But now it's on TNT. I'll be flipping around. I'll see one and say to my wife Tea [Leoni], 'This is really good. And I don't even remember the story, so I'm going to watch the whole thing.' I'll get involved and -- honestly -- I don't remember what happens next.

"Mostly, I'll sit there thinking, 'Mulder and Scully are cool. They have that elusive thing -- chemistry," says Duchovny. He also found chemistry with his wife, who stars in his directorial film debut "House of D," which opens April 29.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

Indiana Jones and Lara Croft be warned

Tomb raiding is an international problem.

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Mysterious tunnels to secret places

I love stories of mysterious places. Combine that with dark tunnels and you could interpret that in a Freudian way or you could just go to this paranormal site for a great round up web sites devoted to secret and spooky tunnels:

There is something fundamentally and primally mysterious about caves and tunnels. Maybe it's their darkness or the fact that they open into the very body of the Earth. They are invariably the subjects of adolescent adventure stories, such as the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew mysteries, and R.L. Stine's books. And they serve as backgrounds in exciting stories directed at older audiences as well, such as Jules Verne's A Journey to the Center of the Earth and the Indiana Jones films. Tunnels represent the unknown and touch the fears that reside deep in the primitive human subconscious. Recently, I've come across several sites on the Web that tell what some believe are true stories of vast underground networks of tunnels. And they are no less mysterious and fantastic than those used as settings in the fictional tales mentioned above. It's not that the tunnels merely exist and are unknown to most people, it's what they contain, who built them, and why - and that takes us into the deepest recesses of the unknown.

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Walpurgis Night: get your bonfires ready for lighting

Walpurgis Night is nigh:

There's a penetrating chill in the wind. The bright moon rises behind the shivering, nearly naked trees. A profound sense of foreboding permeates the darkness. This is the night, after all, when witches ride their broomsticks through the sky, and the natural world is forced to confront the powers of the supernatural.

No, it isn't October 31 and this is not Halloween. It's April 30 and it's Walpurgis Night.

Like Halloween, Walpurgis has its roots in ancient pagan customs, superstitions and festivals. At this time of year, the Vikings participated in a ritual that they hoped would hasten the arrival of Spring weather and ensure fertility for their crops and livestock. They would light huge bonfires in hopes of scaring away evil spirits.

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Mass murder, vampires and child brides

CNN covers the horror:

In an unexceptional, wood-paneled courtroom on the fifth-floor of the downtown Superior Court here, the story of the city's worst mass murder is unfolding in chilling detail.

The tale emerging from the trial of Marcus Wesson rivals an Anne Rice novel, with testimony of incest, child brides, vampire aliases, coffin beds and an apocalyptic obsession that led a one-time bank teller to turn his extended family into a reclusive cult.

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Indiana residents recount UFO sighting

I usually steer clear of UFO stories since they're covered so much elsewhere, but since this one happened in Raybin's home state of Indiana, it's worth noting here. The South Bend Tribune covers the details:

For Carpenter, it was around 10 p.m. on a Thursday night. Several of her friends and neighbors saw the disc-shaped object in the sky, as well. So, too, did Gene Winters and his wife, who live mid-way between Mexico and Denver in Miami County. A couple of Plymouth people also reported seeing the object.

"That one we never solved," said Roger Sugden, assistant director of MUFON and an investigator who drove down to check things out along with Stuart Hill, a MUFON state section director. "And it was the best case we've come across in 10 years."

Keep watching the skies! as they say at the end of The Thing.

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Insomnia is turning me into a vampire

It's almost 4 a.m. Why can't I sleep? I just finished watching Werewolf of London (1935), part of the Universal Monster Legacy Collection. Good movie, but not good enough to keep me up this late. The middle section should have put me to sleep. It has in the past. I give up. I'm taking a sleeping pill.

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Bite into this tempting vampire comic book

Bite Club sounds like my kind of comic. reviews:

Throughout the tale, the third-person narrative separates the Hollywood mythology of vampires from the real deal. Rather than turning the vamps into soulless, ghouls interested in only blood, Bite Club makes them overly human, more susceptible to every vice. The lack of morality as they drink from victims and kill indiscriminately is shown as product of both nature and nurture.

A vamp's insatiable lust drives them in all aspects of their livelihood. They hunger for blood, for sex and for power.

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Sunday, April 24, 2005

Haunted Times indeed

Haunted Times appears to be an interesting site. I just registered. Apparently they also put out a magazine too.

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Wisconsin reporter goes on ghost hunt

From the Stevens Point Journal:

Seated in the passenger seat of a Kia station wagon, waiting for the ghosts of a slain Boy Scout Troop to emerge from the woods, I couldn't help but reflect on how I'd arrived in this position. Ghost-hunting, after all, does not appear in the job description for most entry-level reporters. A couple of weeks earlier I'd received a press release about the Unexplained Conference, a meeting place for those who have an interest in ghosts, UFO sightings and such scheduled for today in Stevens Point. Being curious by nature and pretty darn brave in my opinion, I decided to try my hand in paranormal investigation. One phone call later, I'd set up a tour of Stevens Point's "haunted spots" with Chad Lewis, an Eau-Claire-based paranormal investigator. Chad is not what you'd expect of a paranormal investigator. To begin with, there is nothing spooky about him: The short 20-something is friendly, quick with a joke and slow to cry "Ghost!" In fact, Chad said he's never had a paranormal experience himself. But that doesn't keep him from searching.

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A ghost in chat

I enjoy chatting online. I'll have to be on the look for the Excite chat room ghost.

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What kind of book are you?

Take the test.

The Vampire Novel Hmm, very interesting! You scored 135! People are addicted to you, as you make such entertaining and sexy reading material. You get people's imaginations flowing and make for the type of book people want to read more than once. Cults have been inspired by the likes of you.
My answer from my test sounds like an accurate description of my book, The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire. Personally, I think I'm the reclusive hermit Silas Marner.

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Saturday, April 23, 2005

A report on an investigation of a Bunker Hill haunting

The West Virginia Society of Ghost Hunters recently investigated a haunted home in Bunker Hill, W.Va.:

On Wednesday, April 20, 2005, Certified Paranormal Experts (CPE) and Certified Senior Paranormal Investigators (CSPE) conducted a Paranormal Investigation of a private home in Bunker Hill, WV. The family contacted the WV Society of Ghost Hunters to ask for our help. The supernatural activity in their home was making them more than a little nervous; a dark ghostly man who glides up their stairs, children who refuse to sleep in their bedroom or walk down the central hallway of the home, and a shadowy woman who floats through the living room! Click on "Link to post" to read the entire report. Bunker Hill is, in a sense, a community of haunted houses! We have investigated dozens of homes in Bunker Hill and found EVERY ONE of them to be haunted! The Civil War was cruel to Bunker Hill and its citizens. The town straddled the only hard-surface road in the Shenandoah Valley. That road stretches from Hagerstown in Maryland, straight south through Falling Waters, Martinsburg, Bunker HIll, Winchester etc. Every army invading the Shenandoah Valley from the north used the road! When General Lee brought his army north to Antietam and Gettysburg, he used the same road. Hot fighting between North and South was inevitable and common along the road. Civilians and soldiers died in Bunker HIll and for miles on either side of the road, their ghosts walk the land and invade the homes to this day! The home we investigated this week was quite typical of homes in Bunker Hill. When we walked in the door, we could feel a heaviness in the air. As we looked around in broad daylight, we could see that some parts of the living room and central hall were much too dark for natural shadow! We found hot spots and areas of intense superantural energy that registered quickly on our instruments. While interviewing the family on the deck and the house was empty, we watched in awe as curtains in the bathroom window moved dramatically away from the glass about 18 inches and then float back into place...not just once, but over and over and over again. Then, we saw bright flashes of supernatural light firing in bedroom windows! Incredible! We came to understand in detail why the family is uncomfortable in the house! Jared S. got a wonderful series of three photos, taken one after the other, as fast as the camera would reset, of a the stair case. In the first, the stair case is bright. In the next, the staircase is filled with a dark, supernatural cloud of miasma. In the third, the stair case is bright again! Bev got a photo of darkmiasma laying on the bed in the master bedroom and felt something invisible sit down beside her as she sat on the bed! Will repeatedly captured unusual spikes of sound in the hallway that scares the kids. Oddly, he was recording active decible levels but we couldn't hear anything! Ghostly sounds are so strange! The photo of the evening was taken by Jared. As usual in these homes the Ghost Hunters photograph every glass or mirrored surface since ghosts are often captured in reflection on glass surfaces. Jared captured a small bright light in the glass of one wall-hanging. After careful checking, we were certain that this wasn't flashback, or the reflection of any man-made light source. When Jared blew this spot up using his computer software, it was the face of a ghostly Native American woman, complete with feather in her hair! Needless to say, we certified the house as haunted! [Note: Many investigations of private homes and complex haunted "hot spots" are done by Paranormal Investigators at the most senior levels of certification. Our weekly Paranormal Investigations and by-weekly Ghost Hunts are where folks gain experience to prepare themselves to tackle the very complex or dangerous ghost hunts.]
The West Virginia Society of Ghost Hunters held a ghost hunt and camp out at the Paw Paw Tunnel of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal tonight. I was disappointed I couldn't go because of a scheduling conflict. But with the temperature at 46 degrees and a hard, cold wind blowing, I'm kind of glad I couldn't make it afterall.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Recollections Ossuary at Sedlec, Czech Republic: Church of All Saints

At my request, my dear friend 42 and her daughter wrote up their experiences visiting the Ossuary at Sedlac. What follows below is their accounts and photos: We first arrived at the Ossuary just at closing time on Saturday. The weather was cloudy, temp 55 degrees. The Church was recognizable from a distance because of the skull and crossbones type of weathervane decorations. The Ossuary holds 40,000 sets of bones and the chapel is decorated with many of them. A large stucco wall surrounded the property. Immediately inside the gate and walls was a well-kept but very small, graveyard which surrounded 3 sides of the church (the 4th being blocked off to the public). The graveyard's layout reminded me of a raised vegetable garden with it's various sections blocked off. The graves and plots themselves were of various sizes and adorned with large markers, lit candles and fresh flowers - particularly daffodils. This treatment of graves is common in Eastern Europe. Large religious statues also dotted the graveyard. As I peered into the Ossuary from the large wood main door, I could see past the entry vestibule and down a flight of steps to a bone statue in the main chapel. The place was empty except for the ticket lady closing the doors to us and pointing to the sign saying they would open again at 8 the next morning. My impression at this point was, one of disappointment as my interest was definitely peaked by the quick glimpse inside. - the bones themselves seemed to be beckoning me in for further investigation. That night we stayed at the hotel located immediately next door. Several times that evening we walked past the chapel and its quietly guarding walls. Just outside the wall closest to the hotel , by a side entrance, was a large statue of a bishop who had captured and chained a devil. Sunday morning was a bleak, cold, rainy day. We arrived at the chapel a little before 9am...just as 5 tour buses were ready to descend on the Ossuary. The inside of the church martched the outside, despite the spotlights shining on various sculptures. My descriptions/impressions are during that quiet lull when there was only the 5 of us in the Ossuary, for as one brochure states: only when a man is silent things around start speaking The entry vestibule housed the very modest (by American standards) ticket/souvenir counter. The Church is divided into two floors, the Ossuary chapel is located down 15 steps in the lower, partially-subterranian level. From the start of the steps, one could see bones everywhere...on the walls...from the ceiling...bone displays in the middle of the room. All were tastefully and artfully arranged. The date and the artist of the latest round of artwork were done in bone on one wall. Four large pyramids of bones made up the four corners of the small chapel...A hole-like tunnel left in the middle allowed one to peer through and see how deep the pyramid was. A monstrance was housed in a niche in another wall. In the center of the chapel hung a large chandelier containing every bone in the human body (and numerous extraneous skulls, of course.) It is very dominant and a focal point to the room...more so than the altar immediately behind it. To the front left of the altar were the votive candles which one could light in memory of a deceased loved one. I lit one in memory of the souls whose bones were present before us. For the two non-religious in my group, this place felt a bit creepy. Mainly for the reason that these bones had been exhumed and not in their original resting place. For the rest of us, it wasn't creepy at all. With one exception: each skull in the Ossuary has a story to tell. By studying the heads' features and cranial sutures one could ascertain much about the individual. The only disturbing part for me, the only area where I felt any unease,was near a display of skulls that had holes in them. Unlike the vast majority at the Ossuary, these people did not die of a natural cause, but were soldiers who died an untimely, violent death, victims of the Hussite War. Overall, there was a solemnity about the Ossuary and a serenity that comes from peacefulness and calm. Even when the tourist hoards descended, there was a strange oneness between the alive and the dead, between the saints and the sinner. And who amongst us could tell which was which between the flesh and the bones? 42's daughter also wrote her impressions: The Kostnice Ossuary at Sedlec was surrounded by a tall, thick, tannish-grey stucco wall. Driving past was disappointing because the church itself was not visible from the road. Outside of the walls were intriguing statues - four religious figures standing in a square facing outwards. The one that struck me most was the figure facing the street, a bishop. Attached to the bishop's scepter by a length of iron chain was the Devil, gnawing at the collar he was forced to wear. I wondered who the bishop was, and why an artist would seek to represent him as having tamed evil. Inside the walls of the Ossuary were many, many graves, packed into a small space like sardines in a tin. What we had heard on the internet was true, everyone really did want to be buried here. What really struck me was the disorder of the cemetery - gravestones and monuments of all different shapes and sizes were squished together, sticking out at weird angles. Still, they were all in very good condition, and had flowers strewn about (or almost all, there was a grave in the shade in the corner, covered in ivy, that looked all but forgotten.) This was as far as we saw the first day, because we had arrived just at closing time. We stayed the night at a hotel all of 200 feet away, Hotel Uze Rosa' or something similar that translated to The Rose Hotel. I felt no discomfort sleeping so close to the Ossuary, but whether that was primarily from a lack of fear or an abundance of sleepiness I am unable to say. The next morning we went to the Ossuary directly after breakfast, payed the entrance fee of 30 krone (about one euro), and looked about. The day before, we had poked fun at the fact that the Ossuary was decorated by a half-blind monk, but the bones were truly artfully assembled. Every nook and every cranny had bones hiding in it somewhere, but it didn't feel crowded. The pair of chalices, the sunflowers, the chandelier and the pyramids and the coat of arms... all were skillfully made, and the effect was profound. The Ossuary was dark and somewhat hot from candles and spotlights showcasing the bones. It smelled of dust, but was not dusty. The only noises that could be heard from inside were our footsteps and camera flashes, and the sound of four or five tour groups filtering out of their buses to come and look at the building. Some of the people in our group thought that the Ossuary was creepy and didn't like being among reminders of decay and death. They were perturbed by the fact that the bones had been removed from their silent, peaceful graves to be made into this disconcerting artwork. However, I did not feel that the Ossuary was creepy, in fact, it was the most peaceful place I have ever seen. The artwork of bones that surrounded from all sides, though by far the dominating image of the church, were not the symbols of most importance, at least to me. Behind the altar was Christ on the cross. To me, Christ was the most profound image of the building. Around us in all directions was death and decay, a clear and present danger, but in the front was our salvation. I was beginning to see what the half-blind monk had in mind using bones as artwork: only after being fully aware of the magnitude of death can we really and truly appreciate the magnitude of salvation through Christ. I distinctly remember looking again at the bones, thinking: This is what Christ overcame for us!

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Friday vampire dance party

Currently playing, Sarah McLachlan: Angel. Previously playing, Garbage: I'm Only Happy When It Rains (in honor of Heather). and The Killers: Mr. Brightside. The video is back although MusicVideoCodes still seems to be having some server issues so it might take a moment to load. For those who do not like the song (or are reading the book and are tired of hearing the same song or if you have your own music playing) hit the pause or stop button. Feel free to make requests.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Human sacrifices buried alive in necropolis

It does not get better than this. This site pre-dates the pyramids (the necropolis site, not this blog). One day I will make it to Egypt. The BBC (dare I say it) digs up the story:

Archaeologists say they have found the largest funerary complex yet dating from the earliest era of ancient Egypt, more than 5,000 years ago. The necropolis was discovered by a joint US and Egyptian team in the Kom al-Ahmar region, around 600 km (370 miles) south of the capital, Cairo. Inside the tombs, the archaeologists found a cow's head carved from flint and the remains of seven people. They believe four of them were buried alive as human sacrifices.
Seriously, as a reader, does the excitement I feel about this come through? From The Mummy (1932 version): Sir Joseph Whemple: [translating inscription on box] "Death... eternal punishment... for... anyone... who... opens... this... casket. In the name... of Amon-Ra... the king of the gods." Good heavens, what a terrible curse! Ralph Norton: [eagerly] Well, let's see what's inside!

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Strange cult takes over Florida community

This might be the biggest cult outside of the White House compound! From the Associated Press:

The gentleman, who was 67, must have been a preacher, it was rumored, for he often could be seen strolling about his new yard in a funereal suit and necktie, even on the muggiest of summer days, with a countenance of serenity and beneficence that could belong only to a servant of the Lord. But there was something disquieting about this man, too, something inexplicable that made his neighbors uneasy whenever he greeted them by politely touching the brim of his fedora. snip Finally, a few longtime residents approached these newcomers. What, they asked them, was so special about their little corner of the universe to merit such offers? The answer they got was this: Lake City was the Promised Land. It was holy ground for the world's true Christians - meaning the lucky few whom Meade had chosen to follow the teachings of his End Time Ministry. They had come to establish God's perfect community on Earth, to prepare for Armageddon, which, their leader had warned them, was imminent. Those who followed Meade would be saved. Unbelievers would be banished to eternal damnation. Why, though, should anyone believe him? Meade had told them he'd walked with God along the Milky Way and heard the Lord's very word.
I love the Lord too, but if he sends me a message that involves joining people inside a compound encircled by razor wire to keep me in and others out, I'm going to have some serious questions about whether I heard him correctly.

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Signs, signs, every where are signs

From the Theosophical Society in America:

While the symbolist worldview encompassed a wide range of symbolic patterns, one of these in particular —the omen—came to hold special importance for traditional societies. “Coming events cast their shadow before them,” an ancient proverb proclaims. Through the study of omens, men and women sought to glimpse future possibilities and shifts of fortune and thus prepare themselves for the challenges and opportunities awaiting them.

As with all aspects of symbolist thought, the concept of the omen has expressed itself at widely varying levels of sophistication. At their subtlest, omens exist in a world where the boundaries between past, present, and future are permeable. Influences of past conditions or events still echo within the present, while from the other direction, what is to come sends ripples into the now, like the bow waves preceding an advancing boat. Hence the phenomenal play of each moment represents the complex blending of symbolic influences from all three dimensions of time, with those from the future designated as omens.

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Go read the letter the newspapers don't want you to read

From Rense:

Mistrust in the present government is not exclusively due to the lies, distortions and distractions surrounding the Iraq WMD claims, and the legal advice about going to war with Iraq. Government deceit extends also to the clearly inadequate investigation into the death of Dr David Kelly. Crucially, why did Lord Falconer choose a method of inquiry which was specifically designed to be invoked in multiple death scenarios, in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of inquiry, as in a rail disaster? Dr Kelly's death was a solitary unnatural death requiring rigorous investigation at a coroner's inquest. Invoking Section 17a, as Lord Falconer did, was not appropriate.

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Curse of the Ice Man: Fifth scientist dies after exam

Curses! I meant to post this yesterday. Too busy of late. Since I'm rushed, let's go straight to The Guardian for the details:

He had lain in his icy tomb on an Alpine glacier in northern Italy for 5,300 years, a perfectly preserved Stone Age warrior, complete with fur robes, leather shoes and bow and arrow. But since being found 14 years ago, five of the people who came in close contact with Oetzi the Iceman have died, leading to the inevitable question: is the mummy cursed?
Go read the article about the deaths, if you dare!

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Faust of the Opera

From The New York Times:

In the annals of the Met, "Faust" can never be just another night at the opera. It was with "Faust" that the company - William Henry Vanderbilt's showcase for the Morgans, the Huntingtons, the Whitneys and their nouveau riche ilk - opened its doors, firing a shot across the bow of the Academy of Music on 14th Street, the preserve of the Belmonts and the Astors. That was on Oct. 22, 1883, and within two seasons, the Academy of Music was but a memory. In decades to come, Gounod's melodious adaptation of the most familiar episodes from Goethe's densely philosophical, encyclopedically symbolic 12,000-verse dramatic poem showed up so often that some took to calling the Met the Faustspielhaus, punning on the German for a festival hall.
The Times story is on the latest version. Alert the Opera Ghost.

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Ghost hunter shares his experiences in Texas

From The University of Texas at Austin's Shorthorn:

Loyd Auerbach is looking for ghosts.

As director of The Office of Paranormal Investigations, he travels the world to find apparitions.

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Religion and the supernatural

In the same article as above, there was also this:

Aaron McLaurin, architecture sophomore and EX.C.E.L. member, said he plans to attend the lecture and demonstration. He said he's skeptical of the paranormal because of his religious preferences but doesn't doubt the possibility of the unexplainable.

"I've always been interested in beyond the physical plane," he said.

McLaurin's answer makes no sense to me unless his religious preference is no religion. If his religious preferences are Christian or any of the other major religions, his faith is all about the supernatural.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Dangerous wolf-like 'animal' kills near Durham

The lonely and lovely British countryside near Durham is the scene of grisly attacks. The Newcastle Sun covers the story:

Mr Bell, however, reckons the killing method used suggests it was not a big cat that was responsible but a wolverine, a creature feared by hunters the world over.

The police sergeant said: "We have had big cat sightings at Iverston, but cats never kill two prey at the same time and pumas certainly don't leave their prey just lying there. They always carry them off.

"We have evidence that wolverines are loose in this country. A few years ago the National Farmers' Union was advising farmers in Wales that there were at least two wolverines in the area and about five years ago Northumbria Police came to me about some dead lambs with big bitemarks on top of their heads.

A wolverine or a werewolf?

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Ugly giant furniture mars Hampstead Heath

Ugh! Some of my novel is set on Hampstead Heath so I have a fondness for it. The Telegraph of London writes people either love it or hate it. Put me in the hate it catagory:

The north London suburb of Hampstead, the subject of jokes and envy in equal measure, is to have this 30ft high table and chair installed on its famous heath for the summer. The sculpture, designed by the Italian artist Giancarlo Neri, is called The Writer and is intended to be "a monument to the loneliness of writing". Neri chose Hampstead because of its literary fame, but the authorities refused permission in 2003 and The Writer has stood in the grounds of the Villa Ada in Rome since then.
Don't get me wrong. I can appreciate a tribute to the loneliness of the writer. And certainly the original Dracula helped give Hampstead Heath a great deal of its literary fame. But a giant desk and chair?

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Xinjiang’s mummies undergo genetic tests

From the Khaleej Times:

After years of controversy and political intrigue, archaeologists using genetic testing have proven that Caucasians roamed China’s Tarim Basin 1,000 years before East Asian people arrived. The research, which the Chinese government has appeared to have delayed making public out of concerns of fueling Uighur Muslim separatism in its western-most Xinjiang region, is based on a cache of ancient dried-out corpses that have been found around the Tarim Basin in recent decades.
I wish Robert E. Howard were alive today. He'd write this up into a fantastic adventure story.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Wakefield Today reporter joins spook hunt in pub

Reporters find any excuse to spend a night in a pub. The Wakefield (England) Today has a fun read:

A HAUNTED pub, midnight and me – three things you would not expect to find in the same sentence, but that is exactly where I found myself earlier this week.

I went on location with local paranormal investigators Truth Finders and BBC Radio Leeds to The Mill, in Ossett, for a ghost hunt that was broadcast live as part of the station’s week-long investigation into the weirder side of West Yorkshire.

Grown men have been known to flee in fear from the pub’s games room and kitchen and staff have refused to enter some rooms in the Dewsbury Road drinking hole.

New landlord Richard Jones and his wife Linda have yet to see a ghost, but say there is definitely something strange going on.

Richard said: “The salt and pepper pots will be on the table when we leave them at night but when we come in the next day, they will be on the floor.”

The hive of activity the ghostbusters have experienced at the pub in previous visits has made it one of their favourite locations.

They always go fully equipped to make sure they capture every spooky spectacle.

Group member Toby Ion had one of his scariest ever experiences at the pub. He said: “I was in the kitchen setting up a voice recording experiment. I was counting to test the tape and, as I did, there was a really loud bang in front of me like someone banging on the worktop.

“I am usually quite brave but I have never run so fast in my life."

Run, don't walk, to go read the rest of the story.

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Sunken Japanese sub may hold World War II secret

The Guardian has the details of an intriguing mystery. I know, it's not supernatural. Consider it the possible setting for a future supernatural story.

An American Vietnam veteran could be about to answer one of the most intriguing questions arising from the second world war: was Japan preparing to seek peace with the allies more than a year before the war ended?

Paul Tidwell, a shipwreck salvager, said yesterday he believes wreckage of a Japanese submarine sunk by US warplanes in the Atlantic on June 23 1944 could contain a peace proposal from Tokyo that never made it into the hands of its intended recipient.


The vessel is thought to be carrying the remains of 112 crew, two tonnes of gold and a similar quantity of opium. After learning about the I-52's mission while sifting through declassified military documents in Washington in 1990, Mr Tidwell's initial interest became a passion.

"I knew I-52 was special, I knew there was gold on it," he said. "I was driven to find out everything possible about the submarine and her mission."

According to the documents, Yoshikazu Fujimura, the assistant naval attache in Switzerland, had been in secret peace negotiations with a US representative, Allen Dulles.

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Mysterious stone found at site of old Maine fort

From the Bangor Daily News:

Last week, crews working on a new entrance to the fort in connection with the nearby Waldo-Hancock Bridge construction unearthed a large hand-worked piece of granite that has become known as "the mystery stone." The granite is 17 inches thick and tapered, with a circumference of 51 inches on the fat end. There is a hole in the center, and the outer edges still bear the marks of the hand chisel that shaped it. The taper indicates that the stone was intended to fit into something, according to Tom Desjardin, historic-site specialist with the state Bureau of Parks and Lands. "Somebody spent a lot of time working that," Desjardin said Saturday at the site. "It doesn't make sense that they would put that much effort into something that was going to be covered up.">

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Jack the Ripper: artist, serial killer or both?

From the Belfast Telegraph:

Walter Sickert was, according to best-selling American multi-millionaire crime writer Patricia Cornwell, the real "Jack The Ripper". This Jack-the-Bad was the murderous mystery man who terrified foggy London town, brutally savaging ladies of the night throughout his long and bloody career.

But now the selfsame Walter's drawings and paintings fill the Ulster Museum's largest art gallery in what is regarded as one of its most powerful travelling exhibitions in many years. For as Sickert fan Alistair Smith, director of the University of Manchester's world famous Whitworth Art Gallery explained on its opening night, Walter was one of the most important English artists of his time.

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'Cast of Shadows' reviewed in New York Times

From The New York Times:

The chief ingredients of Kevin Guilfoile's creepy new thriller are the same ones Michael Crichton has used to fashion a hugely successful and lucrative career as a popular novelist: a hot-button social topic combined with lots of science talk (to make readers feel they aren't reading just a potboiler but something relevant and informative); lots of scary chase scenes and/or cliffhanging chapter breaks (to make sure the story is bought by Hollywood); and some very villainous villains and very virtuous victims (to make certain the page-flipping airplane reader knows whom to root against). What's striking about "Cast of Shadows" is that Mr. Guilfoile, in his first outing as a novelist, does all this with a lot more panache than Mr. Crichton has demonstrated in many years. His story occasionally stumbles into the clichés thrillers are prone to: portentous, hyperventilated foreshadowing; dreary school-room talk of good and evil; and a supporting cast made up of standard-issue cops, private detectives and long-suffering spouses. But Mr. Guilfoile's tricky, high-concept plot continually subverts and plays with the reader's expectations. The inspiration for that plot comes from the mother of all horror stories: Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein." In that novel a student named Frankenstein brings to life a monster made from body parts stolen from graveyards and dissecting rooms. After being rejected as a freak by the rest of society, the monster goes on a bloody rampage, wreaking revenge on his creator, who had dared usurp God's role as creator. The Frankenstein role in "Cast of Shadows" is taken by a workaholic doctor named Davis Moore, who specializes in cloning. The novel takes place in the not so distant future when human cloning has become a feasible if controversial method of reproduction; like abortion today, cloning draws the ire of certain religious groups, including a handful of vigilantes intent on using violence to publicize their protest. Chief among these vigilantes, we're told, is a man known as Mickey the Gerund, who has killed a growing list of fertility doctors and who has made an unsuccessful effort to assassinate Davis.

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Hat tip to skippy the bush kangaroo

Thanks for the "howdee."

give a bloggy howdee to

rosie o'donnell

david duchovney

tom peters

carl pope

us food policy

mystery of the haunted vampire

I can honestly say that's the first time David Duchovney and I have ever been linked together in any way (Actually, the same could also be said of me and Rosie, Tom Peters, Carl Pope and U.S. Food Policy). But the Duchovney linkage is really cool because this site is like the X-Files of the blogosphere.

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Cruise ship hit by huge, freakish wave

In related news, poets and artists dream of underwater city ruled by Cthulhu:

A cruise ship struck by a freak seven-story-high wave that smashed windows and sent furniture flying returned to New York Harbor on Monday and docked at its berth on the Hudson River.

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Beheaded skeletons found in York

I didn't do it (sorry, natural reflex when headless skeletons found). The Yorkshire Post has the story:

ANOTHER headless skeleton discovered in York is among a series of gruesome archaeological finds which could hold the key to unlocking secrets behind Roman burial rituals.

The latest discovery of human remains by archaeologists follows in the wake of another headless skeleton found shackled in a grave and a Roman mummy which was also unearthed in The Mount area of the city.

A total of 57 bodies – 50 adults and seven children – and 14 sets of cremated remains have been found during excavations, most by the York Archaeological Trust at a site in Driffield Terrace.

Archaeologists are now confident the bodies will provide perhaps the clearest indication yet on the Roman attitude to death.

It is thought the Romans could have beheaded corpses to release the human spirit, which they believed was contained in the head.

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Mysterious mounds hold secrets on South Carolina's Fig Island

From the Myrtle Beach Sun News:

Fig Island looks like any of the thousands of tidal hummocks along the S.C. coast.

Craggy cedar trees and palms with every other crown blown off rise over the surrounding tidal creeks. Prickly-pear cactus and bush palmetto carpet the surface.

The vegetation disguises one of the most important, and least appreciated, cultural history sites in the country.

Much of Fig Island was built by man, not nature.

Three of the four separate pieces of high ground that make up the 40-acre island were constructed around 4,000 years ago. Oyster shells - with some conch-type shells, broken pottery and a few animal bones mixed it - were crafted into stadiumlike rings and crescents for reasons that remain a mystery.

Fig Island is to the Southeast what the cliff dwellings are to the desert Southwest. It's twice as old as Rome's Colosseum and, like that facility, might have been used for public spectacles by the natives who lived here in the Late Archaic period.

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Modern graveyard planned near ancient monoliths

From The Scotsman:

The circle at Cothiemuir Wood, a tranquil wooded glade on the Castle Forbes estate near Keig in Aberdeenshire, is widely regarded as one of the most spectacular ancient sites in the north-east of Scotland.

Flanked by seven upright monoliths hewn from red granite, the 20-tonne basalt recumbent stone at its centre is one of the largest in Britain. The distinctive markings on its outer face are known as the "Devil’s Hoofmarks".

Furious locals fear that the site could be destroyed by plans by Native Woodland, an Edinburgh company, to develop a natural burial ground at Cothiemuir Hill within 15 yards of the ceremonial site, a scheduled ancient monument.

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Archaeology teams on way to Iran

From Mehr News:

Sixteen teams of foreign archaeologists are to work with Iranian experts at several of the country’s historical and ancient sites during the current Iranian calendar year, an official of the Center for Archaeological Research said on Saturday.

“The teams will be from the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, Poland, Germany, and Japan,” Karim Alizadeh added. A group of archaeologists from Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Chicago, which have worked at Iran’s ancient sites since 2002, have asked for permission to continue their activities.

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Ancient manuscripts give up their old secrets

The Scotsman has the story:

A VAST array of previously unintelligible manuscripts from ancient Greece and Rome are being read for the first time thanks to infra-red light, in a breakthrough hailed as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail.
The Independent of London also covers it:
Now, in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed. In the past four days alone, Oxford's classicists have used it to make a series of astonishing discoveries, including writing by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod and other literary giants of the ancient world, lost for millennia. They even believe they are likely to find lost Christian gospels, the originals of which were written around the time of the earliest books of the New Testament. The original papyrus documents, discovered in an ancient rubbish dump in central Egypt, are often meaningless to the naked eye - decayed, worm-eaten and blackened by the passage of time. But scientists using the new photographic technique, developed from satellite imaging, are bringing the original writing back into view. Academics have hailed it as a development which could lead to a 20 per cent increase in the number of great Greek and Roman works in existence. Some are even predicting a "second Renaissance".
Just keep them away from the Necronomicon.

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Egyptian site holds a timeless record

From AlAhram Weekly of Cairo:

It seems incredible to us today that such an important archaeological site should have been so neglected for so long. In 1943, when French Egyptologist Etienne Drioton was director-general of the Antiquities Service, news reached him that workmen were actively engaged in levelling the land to build a military road across the tell. Drioton sent the then antiquities inspector Labib Habashi to check the report. Habashi described the site as "as disaster". He found that a military road to connect Port Said with Alexandria via Mit Ghamr was well underway and already traversed about three feddans of the site. He described the once beautiful temple as a mass of broken papyrus bud columns, pillars and lintels. Blocks of stone with inscribed texts, he wrote in his report, were impacted into the earth, and he confirmed that the tell was still being systematically depleted both for raw material to make bricks for houses in the ever-expanding urban area surrounding it, and by the sebakhin. Antiquities, he wrote, were totally disregarded, "unless they were gold and silver".

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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Spooky for a good cause is holding a charity auction on eBay to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Go support two good causes: putting great art in your home and raising money for research. Hat tip to Grimalkin

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Man snaps photo of a big black cat in England

A zoo official says it's a panther. The London Mirror has the picture and story.

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Saturday, April 16, 2005

Actress's ghost haunts Plymouth theater

The Plymouth (England) Evening Herald has the spooky details:

Ghostly apparitions, unexplained noises and doors that unlock themselves - Plymouth's ABC Cinema is showing a lot more than just the latest big-screen epics these days. The cinema has experienced a number of spooky goings-on, which staff say get noticeably worse when the cinema is showing a scary film. Stories have been circulating for years that the cinema is haunted, with one suggesting it could be the ghost of an actress who committed suicide in one of the old dressing-rooms at the rear of the building, which used to be a theatre. Manager Carole Nelson said there had been reports of ghostly sightings of a woman in a long red skirt and jacket with black braiding round the neck and arms. The apparition has become such a regular feature at the cinema that staff have even given her a name - Emma. Staff have also noticed random cold spots in the cinema and seats which do not spring back to the upright position when not in use, giving the impression that someone is sitting in them. All the sightings occur around the cinema's Screen Two, and when spooky films are shown the complex often suffers problems with its sound system. Ms Nelson said many of the cinema's staff felt uncomfortable working in Screen Two, one even giving up his job because he was so unsettled. Customers had reported cold spots and the feeling of an unnatural presence.
The entire story is worth reading with great details of a traditional-style haunting.

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Book written on Chillicothe, Ohio UFOs

Normally I skip UFO stories, but this one in the Chillicothe Gazette is close to home:

Hammond's experience with the supernatural began late one night in 1983 when a ward nurse called security about lights in the sky. As he approached the building, he said he saw yellow lights coming nearer to the building. "I knew to look up to the sky (because of the call). Otherwise, I probably would have driven right by it," Hammond said. "It reminded me of a Xerox machine and it was almost like there were images being reflected back to that craft ... It was very scary. I got out of the cruiser and started to run." After the incident, Hammond, now 48, worked at the VA until 1987 and continued researching similar occurrences. He said some departments at the hospital had been reporting sightings since 1959 and while he was working there, two more occurrences were reported to him in 1986. His curiosity about the occurrence he witnessed has never left him and it took therapy, he said, to rid himself of nightmares about that 1983 night. "I would wake up at 3 and 4 a.m. screaming ... I was worried my neighbors would hear me and think I was crazy, but other times I hoped they would (hear me) so they could help me," Hammond said.

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Friday, April 15, 2005

Thing From Another Planet soundtrack on sale

I love this movie and the sound track is now released on CD. SciFi ranks it a top pick:

But few would deny that this score, bombastic though it may be in places, perfectly fitted the film and became something of a blueprint for '50s "monster" movies.

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Ghost jinxes Sunderland's Black Cats

The BBC has the story:

Superstitious Sunderland players are worried their promotion campaign could be put in jeopardy by a ghost.

Black Cats stars insist they have seen a strange apparition hanging around the corridors of their training ground.

Striker Marcus Stewart told BBC Radio Newcastle: "What made me think it's true, is Stephen Elliott has seen it. He's adamant that he's seen something."

The alleged sighting coincided with Sunderland's home defeat by Reading - ending a run of eight straight wins.

Coincidence - or something more sinister at work perhaps?

The ghostly figure has also been spotted by backroom staff in the corridors of the Academy. It is described as a "strange black shape", but so far no-one has established whether it is a man or a woman.

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Area 51 unveiled by Google maps

For great satellite images of the lake bed and buildings of the ultrasecret Area 51and a funny account, go read this Live Journal:

After a few seconds of searching aimlessly through imaged suburbs on the outskirts of Vegas, the realization finally dawned on me…maybe Area 51 could be located with this thing…At first I didn’t really know how to go about searching. I tried to scroll up the map a bit, hoping to accidentally stumble upon the military’s worst best kept secret, but it was too no avail…who knew Nevada was full of deserts and mountains???

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Hawking: alternative versions of history occur

The Independent of London carries Stephen Hawking's speech in Spain on alternative views of history occurring in the universe. I found it fascinating, but in an another plane of history I probably skipped it to hang out at the beach:

What does it mean to say that the universe has many alternative histories? Which is the real history of the universe? To answer such profound philosophical questions, I think one must adopt the positivist approach of Karl Popper and others. in this, a theory is just a mathematical model to describe the observations. It has no claim to reality, whatever that may be. Two very different models may describe the same observations. Both theories are equally valid, and neither can be said to be more real than the other. The results are disappointing for those who hoped that the ultimate theory would predict everyday physics. We live in the anthropically allowed region in which life is possible, but I think we might have chosen a better location.
Even someone as smart as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University finds the universe mysterious.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Did unicorns exist in ancient times?

A Southwest Missouri State University professor suggests in a column in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader the mythical creatures may have been more than just legends:

Today the unicorn is legendary, or mythical. But this was not always so. At one time the unicorn existed--or, at least, was thought to exist.

As described in ancient scientific writings and depicted in painting and tapestry, the unicorn was a beautiful horse-like creature with a single long horn thought to have medicinal properties.

Respected ancient scholars, such as Aristotle and Pliny, mention them existing in their day. But today unicorns have gone the way of fairies, elves, and trolls. Belief in such creatures was abandoned with the 18th century Enlightenment. Oddly enough, however, the unicorn remained a fixture in the Bible until the 19th century.

That sounds very much like the theory put forward by Professor Henry Armitage in my novel, The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire.

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Witches sink construction plans in England

The BBC has the story, but does it have the truth?:

Plans to build luxury houses on what is believed to be the site of an ancient witches' ducking pool have been halted.

Gower Homes wanted to build 22 houses off Gerald Street in Wrexham. However, local people had campaigned against the plan, claiming traffic would increase and the historic site would be lost forever.

Increased traffic? A likely story. That ancient curse had nothing to do with it. (OK, I made up the part about the curse. But if there were witches killed there, they probably did curse the site like in the Vincent Price classic The Haunted Palace.)

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Blackpool Police hunt for a 'vampire'

An attacker goes for the neck so the police immediately blame a vampire. I may put in a call to the Anti Un-Dead Defamation League. Lytham (England) Today covers it:

POLICE are searching for a man who tried to bite a Lytham shopkeeper's neck in a sickening vampire-style attack.

The bizarre unprovoked assault took place in sandwich shop Dejeuner in Church Road on Monday afternoon.

The 38-year-old shopkeeper was talking to a man - mainly in French - in the shop, at around 2.30pm.

They discussed the weather in French and broken English, before the man grabbed the woman and hugged her.

He then tried to kiss her and as she struggled, attempted to bite her neck. The shopkeeper managed to frantically push the man away and get away from him.

The attacker is described as a man of Asian or Middle East appearance, aged 35-45, with very dark, short hair. He was around 5ft 8ins tall and of average build.

A spokesman for police said: "They were talking when he hugged her, tried to kiss her, and then attempted to bite into her neck.

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Ohio's Serpent Mound may cover meteor crash

This strikes close to the old home, so to speak. The Plain Dealer reports on an astonishing discovery:

Sifting through rocks snagged from twin boreholes punched deep into the planet's crust, scientists have detected an unearthly substance hidden for eons in Ohio's basement.

And its presence 1,412 feet beneath the forests and farmlands near Serpent Mound in south-central Ohio -- already on par with Britain's Stonehenge and Egypt's pyramids as one of Earth's most mysterious manmade structures -- adds to a puzzle shrouded in legend and lore for centuries.

When scientists peered into the geo-strata that emerged from beneath the mound, they were confronted with pure, weird data. Under their microscope, they saw quartz crystals with flaws like those found at nuclear test sites and in moon rocks brought back by astronauts.

It pointed toward a massive energy burst that left behind telltale traces of a cosmic crash.

Now, those findings are rattling through the world of geology, shaking up long-held conceptions and misconceptions about Ohio's distant past.

"I think we can say with authority today that this is an impact from a meteorite," said Mark T. Baranoski, a state geologist. "It affected the region in a spectacular way."

Rock samples from beneath the mound contain significantly higher than normal concentrations of iridium, an extremely rare metal. Because it is so heavy, iridium seldom shows up anywhere but near the planet's molten core.

At Serpent Mound, the levels measured were 10 times beyond what is usually present in the Earth's crust.

Serpent Mound State Memorial is well worth visiting if in southern Ohio. It attracts many of the same types of visitors drawn to Stonehenge. The head of the serpent is aligned with the summer solstice at sunset and the coils point to the winter solstice sunrise. The Moundbuilder Indians are believed to also have built Serpent Mound about 1,000 years ago. The truth, however, is no one knows for certain. The world is a mysterious place.

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