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The Booo! Blog: Paranormal New England

ASMR: Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

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Please Note: Due to format changes,
English/Spanish audio is not available
for this addition of the The Booo! Blog









Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is a neologism for a perceptual phenomenon characterized as a distinct, pleasurable tingling sensation in the head, scalp, back, or peripheral regions of the body in response to visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or cognitive stimuli. The nature and classification of the ASMR phenomenon is controversial, with strong anecdotal evidence to support the phenomenon but little or no scientific explanation or verified data. (Wikipedia)

I thought I'd step down a somewhat different path of the unknown with this edition of The Booo! Blog. While not the usual ghosts, aliens, monsters and other assorted spookies that I usually deal in, ASMR is still considered an 'unknown', just not the type that will haunt, abduct or eat you. For that reason, we can hammer this slightly square peg into our round paranormal hole. Not a perfect fit, perhaps, but let's expand our minds a bit. So, slip on your headphones, sit back, relax and let the tingles take you away...

A 'Good' Migraine?

It's very possible that you've never heard of ASMR. In fact, your co-worker in the cubicle next to yours may be having intense, daily "braingasms", and you have not even noticed. Before you scream, "Eeeewww! That's disgusting!" in horror because you have occasionally borrowed his/her chair, know that it's become a quiet riot on websites such as YouTube over the past three or four years and, no, it's not what you think. The entire goal of the movement, and of the so-called "ASMRtists" who perform, is relaxation and/or sleep facilitation. Given our increasingly hectic and out-of-control world, it's really a no-brainer as to why it has caught on. Some ASMRtists have even reached star status within the ASMR community and with their fans.

So, in a word, what is ASMR? Tingles. You've probably experienced the phenomenon in fleeting, momentary blips throughout your life, but have been unable to pin it down, let alone assign it a name. ASMR is not a 'one size fits all' experience, as one person may respond to a particular stimuli, and another not at all. The best way to think of ASMR is as a migraine headache, which any sufferer can tell you are unbearably painful, often causing autonomic nervous system symptoms along with throbbing head pain. Yes, I realize that's a bizarre and unpleasant analogy but, in reality, it's actually a very accurate one. Instead of the pain associated with a 'bad' migraine, let's think of the opposite: a 'good' migraine. Instead of pain, a good migraine would cause a pleasurable sensation. Why is this an accurate analogy? Just as with most migraines headaches, ASMR, or good migraines, require a "trigger". And, just as with migraine headaches, these triggers, the stimuli that set off the headache, vary widely from person-to-person.

What Pulls Your Trigger?

The stimuli that sparks an Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is only for you to determine, but there are some that seem to be common to many people, and they can encompass any of our five senses, either singularly or in combination. Most (but not all) require the person wishing to experience the sensation to be in a passive role. In other words, watching, hearing, feeling, tasting or smelling the stimuli. The following is hardly an exhaustive list, and ASMR triggers are not gender-specific. You may have a trigger or multiple triggers unique to you. Take a moment to think about it because, chances are, you already know what they are. Many can fall into multiple categories depending on whether a person assumes an active or passive role. Among the most common:

Visual: Hair cutting, hair brushing, gentle hand movement, application of hand lotions or gels, painting, page turning.

Auditory: Whispering, foreign accents, rain, tapping, rubbing, music, keyboard clicks, paper crinkling, mouth sounds.

Touch: Massage, application of nail polish, manicure, pedicure.

Taste: Personal and specific to you. It could be the taste of a food that transports you back in time.

Olfactory: Personal and specific to you. It could be a scent that transports you back in time. 

John Waters: The Original ASMRtist

For our purposes, let's focus on visual and auditory ASMR triggers, as those are the two senses ASMRtists attempt to tingle and are, by far, the most common. And let's face it...attempting to touch Angelina Jolie's lips through a computer screen is pretty futile (but admit it...you've tried), as is tasting a double-fudge brownie or smelling freshly-baked bread. That's why director John Waters was way ahead of his time. Ever watch his old film, Polyester? If so, you've probably wondered why the numbers 1 through 10 randomly pop up on the screen. You see, Waters had this ASMR thing figured out decades ago. He called it "Odorama". When the film was released, everyone in the theater got a scratch card with the numbers 1 through 10 printed on it. When a number flashed on the screen, much like a lottery scratch ticket, the viewer was supposed to scratch and sniff that number to smell what was being depicted on the screen. Sometimes mild, sometimes really gross but, yeah, he knew about triggers way before most in the ASMR community were even born. Cool, eh?

A Happy Little Accident

Bob Ross. You may not recognize or remember the name, but you can't forget the stark image of a bushy-haired guy on your TV screen. Nothing but a black background and standing, artist's palette in hand, creating painting-after-painting of nature and landscapes. His instructional show was called The Joy of Painting, and ran in the United States on PBS stations from 1983 to 1994. He spent years relaxing and lulling millions to sleep, most never having the intention of ever picking up a paint brush. People would record his 30-minute program on their VCRs (Remember those big, ugly boxes sitting on top of your console TV that constantly flashed "12:00" in your face?) to watch before bed. His gentle brush strokes and soothing voice instructing viewers to apply feather-light pressure on the canvas, "Two hairs and some air" or appreciate their "Happy little accidents" while painting became his trademarks.

Bob Ross died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 1995, but still lives on. Most episodes of The Joy of Painting can be found on YouTube and are still watched by millions, not necessarily for his painting skills, but for Mr. Ross' ASMR talent. And that remains, for many, his happiest little accident.

Enya's Got a Secret (And She May Not Even Know It)

Keep this on the down low, but Grammy Award-winning Irish singer/songwriter Enya stumbled onto the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response phenomenon years ago, and probably by accident. People tend to either love or be totally indifferent to her music, and the difference seems to be in whether she floats your ASMR boat or not. And she apparently floats a lot of boats, as she's sold millions of records worldwide, her voice and the ethereal acoustics of her recordings being a common trigger. While the same can be said of an individual's response to music in general, most people have a visceral and autonomous response to her music in particular. Not the 'I love that song and sing along' -type response, but an instant relaxation and calming effect. Does Enya know what makes the magic? I have no idea, but she records in her own custom-designed studio, and likely for a reason. Put on one of her CDs (not a crappy, compressed MP3 file), slip on a pair of headphones, and listen to the soaring acoustic signature of her recordings. And notice the dead silence. Nothing but her voice and whatever instruments she chooses to include. Each a sonic masterpiece, the listener is transported into her world and the real world ceases to exist, just like with the best ASMRtists. Of course, just as with any ASMR trigger, her thing may not be yours. If not, you will feel nary a tingle. That's a pity.

Let's Play Doctor

Role play is a technique many ASMRtists employ in an attempt to relax you into a semi-conscious state, and it can be very effective. There's no surprise here, as it is just what you think. What is a mystery, however, is how effective it can be.

For this technique, the ASMRtist becomes an actor, assuming the role of another person. This is particularly effective if the person the ASMRtist is portraying is someone who would normally take the active roll. For example, doctors, barbers, masseur/masseuse ...you get the idea. There are an astonishing number of soft-spoken doctor/patient ASMR videos, and they can be surprisingly effective. As with any talent, some ASMRtists seem to be more popular than others, which may be an indication of their skill set. On YouTube, a good (albeit not always accurate) indicator is the number of views an ASMRtist's videos receive. However, keep in mind the person may be very good at a common trigger, hence the largest number of views. You may find that a more obscure ASMRtist employing a more off-the-wall trigger works best for you, so give everyone a try.

Who Needs Drugs?

ASMR is a drug-free zone, but you will need a decent pair of headphones. Listening through speakers isn't nearly as effective and with some ASMR techniques, such as binaural recording, the effect and ASMRtist's intent is completely lost if not listening through headphones. The around-the-ear type (that cup your entire ear) are best for ASMR as they block out most of the distracting noise around you. Other than that, you're good to go; your express ticket to Xanax-free nirvana. My first stop would be YouTube, as that's where most ASMRtists post their work.

Back to binaural recording for a moment, as it is now a huge trend in ASMR videos and recording. While many ASMRtists are employing it, recording with special microphones to facilitate the effect, as a listener I have not found the effect necessary to illicit an ASMR response. However, as ASMR is so highly personal and specific to the individual, you may find just the opposite to be true. On YouTube, the ASMRtist will usually note if his/her video was recorded binaurally.

Superstars of ASMR

The following are a few YouTube ASMRtists from around the globe that I think are excellent. Of course, your mileage may vary as I've stated repeatedly: ASMR is a very personalized response. What works for one person may not work at all for another, so give everyone a shot. Many have PayPal or Patreon accounts if you would like to donate to keep them going. That information can be found on their pages. Enjoy!


ASMRtist: Tabuhan ASMR

Turkey

This guy is amazing. Watching him is a master class in acting and facial expression, and many find his soft-spoken Turkish accent the magic key to stress relief. His personality jumps through the screen, and many of his videos are done with an off-beat sense of humor. He makes it look effortless, which is even more impressive when you know that he does not plan his videos, but makes them up as he goes along. While he hasn't been doing this for as long as some of the others, he's posted a huge collection of ASMR videos, and is definitely a talent to keep your eye on. Truly one of the best. 



ASMRtist: GentleWhispering ASMR

United States

Another incredible ASMRtist who has developed a massive following over the past few years. A native of Russia, but now living in the United States, she records ASMR videos in both the Russian and English languages. Her slight Russian accent when speaking English and magical hand movements will relax you in a nanosecond. Also the best fingernails in the business!


ASMRtist: ASMRGAINS

United Kingdom

Here's one that has a huge following, but seems to have fallen off the planet, as he hasn't posted in quite some time. He did have many more ASMR videos posted on YouTube, but has apparently deleted some of them. Still, his videos work well, and still receive a ton of views. Update, September 18, 2015: After a long absence, a new video has been posted on Fred's YouTube channel, so he is apparently alive and well, and hasn't fallen off the planet after all.


Who Says I Don't Bring You Cool Stuff On My Blog and Website?

I'm often asked, "What's the difference between a paranormal investigator and a ghost hunter?". Well, with all my editions of The Booo! Blog, as well as with my connected website, you are seeing that difference firsthand. I do my best to supply solutions and answers to the weird and wonderful for the sole purpose of helping you, the reader, and I try to present it in a lighthearted-but-serious manner. Whenever possible, I will give you the 'how' and 'why', the theory behind what it is you are questioning. I tell it like it is, and I hope I've met your expectations. I'm sometimes introduced as a "ghost hunter" in media interviews and, for sure, ghosts and hauntings are certainly a huge part of what I do, but there's a helluva a lot more out there than just restless dead people. 

Until next time, look to the skies, look under your bed, and always keep an eye out for what may be lurking in your closet...







Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.

The Horsefly Chronicles or The Horsefly Hoax?

The Horsefly Chronicles-Book Review-Philip Siracusa-Karissa Fleck-Anthony Duda-Hoax-Fake-Fraud-Haunting-Psychic-Medium-Demon

 
Please Note: Due to format changes,
English/Spanish audio is not available
for this addition of the The Booo! Blog.









The Horsefly Chronicles Haunting: A Book Review

Author Philip Siracusa appears to have ripped a page from the well-worn Ed and Lorraine Warren playbook with his first "true" paranormal literary effort, The Horsefly Chronicles: A Demonic Haunting. As you may know, Ed (now deceased) and Lorraine (still kicking) were paranormal investigators, or so-called "demonologists", that had the incredible fortune and dumb luck of finding demonic entities in virtually every location they investigated. Even more incredible was their talent for turning their incredibly fortunate and dumb luck into best-selling books, along with their almost alchemist-like ability to turn those books into gold. However, by far their most lucrative bit of magic was selling the book rights of their incredibly fortunate and dumb luck to Hollywood. The Warrens were involved with such infamous hoaxes as Jay Anson's devilishly discredited book-turned-movie, The Amityville Horror, where horseflies famously made their first satanic appearance (Hey, if it worked once...) as well as the more recent money-making films Annabelle and The Conjuring. The awkward title of this book originates from Mr. Siracusa's claim of the image of a horsefly appearing to him whenever he is about to experience a paranormal event. Well, I guess it does sound a bit more convincing than an aardvark...

The Warren Playbook: Now New and Improved!

In an edition of The Booo! Blog a few years ago, I wrote what had always been the Ed and Lorraine Warren formula for success: Demonologists + Imaginary Demon + Rogue Catholic Priest = Books and Movies. A Catholic priest was always thrown into the mix to give the air of legitimacy. However, while obviously still successful, I admit that it now seems somewhat dated. While active in the '60s, the Warrens really hit their stride of national notoriety in the 1970s; a decade when such demonically-themed spookfests as The Exorcist and The Omen (as well as The Amityville Horror) were packing the public into bookstores and theaters. Just as all products continually go through an evolutionary 'improvement' process to reflect the culture and to appeal (read "sell") to consumers, I now present what appears to be Mr. Siracusa's updated take on the Warrens' leisure suit-era equation: Amateur Ghost Hunters + Imaginary Demon + "World-Renown" Psychic = Books and Movies. Deserved or not, after more than a decade of scandal, Catholic priests just don't hold the moral weight and authority they once did with the public. We now look to "reality" TV ghost hunters and media-savvy mediums to feed us the tweets and give us the lowdown to satisfy our fascination with the other side. And make no mistake, reading The Horsefly Chronicles, it was obvious to me that the book was conceived and written with hopes that Hollywood would come-a-callin'. While scores of 'demonic haunting'-genre books have been written over the subsequent decades since The Amityville Horror, there seems to be a concerted public relations effort to anoint The Horsefly Chronicles as the natural successor to that 1970s landmark, a rather dubious distinction indeed.

That's My Story and I'm Sticking to It Like Flies On...

The Horsefly Chronicles is a plodding and incomplete telling of Mr. Siracusa's life, and his personal journey with his 'gift' of connecting with the other side. Following this yellow brick road, we visit his visions of Heaven and Hell, which I found the only interesting part of the book, as he does describe what he claims to have witnessed in colorful detail. We find him working as a bouncer and for the Mafia, the latter of which would sensibly only be revealed posthumously by an author, a big, red flag due to my law enforcement training, and one of the credibility issues, aside from the subject matter, that I have with the book. Spelling and grammatical errors abound in The Horsefly Chronicles, made even more tedious by the book's length. Maybe I'm just anal about such things, but how can we take Mr. Siracusa's account seriously if even the grammatical basics are overlooked? Tight budgets are no excuse, even with self-published titles. A good spellcheck application, free with all computer operating systems, can do much of the work of a human editor if diligently applied.

Oh yes, I mentioned that even at a snooze-inducing 334 pages, Mr. Siracusa's tome is "incomplete". Incomplete as in 'Screw you, you thought you bought a complete story, but you'll just have to wait for the next book' incomplete. The author plays his audience as suckers; not until you buy the book and dive into the text of The Horsefly Chronicles is the reader told that not all answers will be forthcoming until future volumes. The telling of the story was apparently conceived as a trilogy, which makes perfect sense if we are to assume that Mr. Siracusa had dreams of the New York Times Best Seller list and Bradley Cooper portraying him on a 3D Imax screen. Think the Harry Potter series or The Lord of the Rings trilogy, both infinitely better-written, and which may be based in more reality than The Horsefly Chronicles. After all, why not extend the life of a potential cash cow? The problem with that bit of marketing wisdom is, unlike Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, I have serious doubts the reader of the first volume of The Horsefly Chronicles will be sufficiently interested to stick around for the second. 

The Horsefly Chronicles Family: Summon the Psychic! Gather the Ghost Hunters!

It is said that, "It takes a village to raise a child", but apparently it takes a "family" to promote a book, especially if you don't have a publisher behind it. What the public needs to understand about this business is there are individuals and groups that will hitch their wagons to just about anything if they think it will bring them even an ounce of notoriety. Remember the updated Ed and Lorraine Warren formula mentioned earlier? Here is where it comes into play. The magic is in the marketing! Gather a few amateur ghost hunting groups willing to attest online for the authenticity of The Horsefly Chronicles. Summon Karissa Fleck, lead paranormal investigator and described by some as a "world-renown" psychic medium, to spend four months in Mr. Siracusa's haunted horsefly hacienda, a modern home in Easton, Pennsylvania that just happens to have the incredible fortune and dumb luck of having four bedrooms, two baths and a portal to Hell and...BINGO! You've hit all the right Paramount...uhhh, I mean Poltergeist...uhhh, I mean paranormal, notes. To be fair and to my knowledge, the author has never referred to Ms. Fleck as "world-renown", but the title is already out there, floating in the ether of the Internet, apparently placed by those promoting the book. In reality, while possibly a gifted sensitive, Ms. Fleck is a twenty-something woman and just a member of Eastern Pennsylvania Paranormal Society, a local ghost hunting group that Mr. Siracusa contacted when things in his home purportedly became demonically dicey. It is curious to ponder why the author felt it necessary to contact a small town ghost hunting group and its resident psychic to corroborate and validate events in his home when he had already enthralled us with his road trip to Heaven and Hell, not to mention his stint acting as a middleman between the Mafia and the great beyond. Call me naive, but it seems to me that Mr. Siracusa would be the person better-equipped to handle demons in his home. After all, he claims to have already been to theirs. 

Mr. Siracusa and Ms. Fleck, together and individually, have been on The Horsefly Chronicles promotional circuit since 2014, talking to anyone and everyone who will have them. They naturally hope people will buy the book, as does any author. However, as the book is self-published and has little marketing muscle, one gets the impression when listening to their interviews that the true goal is to make so much noise that The Horsefly Chronicles gets optioned.

Faults and Final Thoughts

Did I enjoy reading The Horsefly Chronicles? No, I didn't. Do I believe it to be nothing more than an elaborate hoax, likely conceived and written as the vehicle to drive to a movie deal? Yes, I do. 

For all its many faults, my issue is not only with the story, but with what I believe was Mr. Siracusa's motivation for writing the book and his insistence on presenting himself as the protagonist in what he claims to be true. In essence, his claim is that The Horsefly Chronicles is his autobiography. However, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, especially when charging the public to read such claims. The question I found myself asking over-and-over while persevering through the pages? Why would Mr. Siracusa go to the trouble to write such a lengthy, implausible tale, then go to the expense to self-publish such a lengthy, implausible tale, without a much larger motivation and goal in mind than simply selling a few books and making a few bucks? Couple that question with the relentless self-promotion surrounding The Horsefly Chronicles, and the red flags begin to fly. By all accounts, the author is leading an otherwise normal life: gainfully employed, raising a family of four, a truly 'move along, there's nothing to see here' -type of existence. All of which makes his role as some sort of lifelong closet paranormal superhero even more difficult to swallow. While the basic structure and mundane facts of Mr. Siracusa's strange saga may, indeed, be autobiographical, it is my opinion as a paranormal investigator with years of experience under my belt that his yarn, if not completely fabricated, is at the very most a work of semi-fiction. There have been many instances of such literary hocus-pocus, one recent example being James Frey with his 2005 bestseller, A Million Little Pieces. You may remember him as the author Oprah Winfrey first praised and recommended for her book club, and later verbally eviscerated in a televised interview when it was discovered that a large part of his memoir was fabricated. There is a common thread of misplaced ego in the creation of such works, but Mr. Siracusa is probably well-aware that, unlike Mr. Frey, but just as with Ed and Lorraine Warren, Jay Anson and countless other predecessors, he will largely be protected under the paranormal umbrella. It is hard to be pinned-down to black and white in a world that consists of more than fifty shades of grey. The singular reason authors dealing in paranormal storylines sometimes go the 'true story' route is the belief that it will make their work more commercially viable. That said, I believe Clive Barker, Dean Koontz and that unsuccessful, starving author from Maine...jeesh, I can't remember his name...Stephen something...would tend to disagree.

And that's a wrap for this edition of The Booo! Blog. Let's fade to black, and would someone please get those damn flies off the set...








Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.

Update, August 27, 2015: In response to my book review of The Horsefly Chronicles, the following is the transcript of a 'conversation' lead paranormal investigator Karissa Fleck initiated with me on Facebook on Thursday, August 27, 2015. It should be noted that I never once used in my book review, nor did I ever refer to Ms. Fleck or anyone in my review as "fake". On the contrary, I stated that "she may perhaps be a gifted sensitive". As for the title she states I used, I believe she is referring to "World-Renown", which has been used by her promotional people online to describe her. I also note in my review that Mr. Siracusa, to my knowledge, has never used that term to describe Ms. Fleck, nor do I state that, again, to my knowledge, she has ever used the term "World-Renown" to describe herself. However, she does believe herself to be "famous", as you will read below. I believe this short exchange speaks for itself, and also speaks volumes. I apologize to my readers for Ms. Fleck's poor grammar and use of profanity:

  • Karissa Fleck: Hello Anthony I read your little article and I feel the need clear somethings up. First off I'm not in eastern pa paranormal I am a freelancer and I work with some bigger names in the paranormal, second the title as you so kindly referred me too I've never called myself that. Third who are you again? I've never heard about you once in my life. Fourth so I guess your calling myself, Dave Spinks. Jeff Leeper, Sean Austin, Scott Gerhart, Erik knapp bob baines and about 60 others fakes? You should invest in a life because clearly you don't have one if you feel the need to bash strangers you don't even know
  • Karissa Fleck: Fucking loser
  • Karissa Fleck: You bring up the first team I ever worked with and act like I still work with them journalism skills
  • Anthony Duda: Can't take the constructive criticism of a book review? And your language. Wow. I read the book. I gave my opinion. I suggest you grow a thicker skin and get over it.
  • Anthony Duda: As for still working with EPPS, I also suggest you visit their website. You will see your photo and bio on their team members page. So your argument is not with me, it should be with them.
  • Karissa Fleck: Your right you know when your famous you get critics and crazy jealous people attacking you all the time I should be use to it by now have a good day
  • Anthony Duda: You're famous? Wow...news to me. Jealous? Hardly. I was in this field years before you were even born. You know what they say, "If you can't take the heat..." Have a good day, Ms. Fleck.

Update, September 16, 2015: Well...surprise, surprise! Alerted by reader "GinainTX" (see post below), it seems there was already a possible movie deal in the works for The Horsefly Chronicles, according to Movieplot.com, dating all the way back to January 2015. I cannot sum it up better than another reader, "Tanner", so astutely did below: "Mission accomplished, Mr. Siracusa".

Update, September 18, 2015: Please note that I have decided to close comments for this edition of The Booo! Blog, as I have found it necessary to reject many profanity-laden posts.This blog is simply a review of the book, The Horsefly Chronicles, and the author, nor anyone connected with the book, should be subjected to such language. Quite frankly, I have no desire to read such comments. Therefore, while I do not have the ability to stop submissions, any future comments will not be posted, and will be rejected and deleted unread. Thank you for your understanding and expected cooperation. 

Update, October 13, 2015: The harassment and intimidation campaign by The Horsefly Chronicles lead paranormal investigator Karissa Fleck after my review of the book continues unabated. On September 30, 2015 and continuing on October 1, 2015, Ms. Fleck initiated the following conversation with me. This was completely unprovoked. Actually, I was on the road doing research for an unrelated future blog, when my cell phone alerted me that someone was posting about me on Facebook. As you will read, she has stooped to a new low on public social media, accusing me of being a sex offender, stalking her online, giving out her home address, as well as having a criminal record, all totally false accusations without an ounce of truth. I am not a mental health professional, therefore I do not make or pass judgement on Ms. Fleck in that professional capacity. However, based on her off-the-wall rants, wild accusations and seemingly paranoid delusions, I will withhold my personal opinion and allow you, the reader, to form your own. Keep in mind that Ms. Fleck has been widely credited as the lead paranormal investigator in The Horsefly Chronicles saga and has done and continues to do scores of promotional media interviews in that role. Thus, she figures prominently in the paranormal investigation aspect of the story, as was detailed in a companion book that Mr. Siracusa has authored, The Curse of the Horsefly Chronicles. In truth, as lead paranormal investigator, the responsibility would have ultimately fallen to Ms. Fleck to objectively verify the paranormal claims of the story, which is the entire crux and premise of this "true" paranormal trilogy, and she claims to have spent four months living in Mr. Siracusa's home doing just that. Okay, now think about that for a moment and let it sink in, because not only did that claim, which Ms. Fleck and Mr. Siracusa repeat in nearly every media interview, raise the red flags in my mind, it caused them to wave wildly. Four months. 120 days, give or take a day or two. Now that you, an intelligent and practical human, have allowed that to saturate your brain cells, extrapolate that scenario to your life, or even the lives of people you know. Under what circumstances could you, an adult, pack up and move into someone's home for that length of time? Would you break the lease at the apartment where you currently reside? If married, would you tell your husband or wife, "See ya, honey! I'll be back in four months. Gotta hunt for demons!", as he/she stands in the doorway, holding your Pug, and waving goodbye? And what about income? Would you, as an adult, be able to survive without income for four months, or 120 days, give or take a day or two? No? Then, how? Were you employed at the same time? If not, were you collecting unemployment benefits? Disability? Money has to come from somewhere for the occasional Mickey D's run, or even the basic necessities. Are you independently wealthy? If not, then who would support you to undertake such a protracted paranormal investigation and, more importantly, why? I do not question whether Ms. Fleck did move into the Siracusa home, only the somewhat murky circumstances which brought that about. "Just the facts, Ma'am", as Sgt. Joe Friday is often misquoted as saying in the über-old Dragnet TV series. Ms. Fleck has been described as a "family friend" of the Siracusa family. Was she already a family friend before moving in, or did she become a family friend after? Was she a "famous" psychic medium who just happened to need a place to crash and who just happened to be friends with an author who just happened to have a gateway to Hell in his home? Incredible fortune and dumb luck? I certainly do not imply knowledge, or even suspicion, of nefarious motivation or collusion, but am simply trying to understand the facts. As lead paranormal investigator of The Horsefly Chronicles case, the facts surrounding not only Ms. Fleck showing up on the Siracusa family doorstep like Mary Poppins (or, more accurately, Nanny McPhee), but then moving into their home for four months, or 120 days, give or take a day or two, to conduct a marathon paranormal investigation, is central to the very premise of this "true" paranormal account. While taking the lead, Ms. Fleck was not the only paranormal investigator involved in The Horsefly Chronicles case. How did the others come on board? Did they meet or know each other beforehand? Or were they collectively drawn to this mysterious location in Easton, Pennsylvania by some unknown metaphysical force, like in Close Encounters of the Third Kind?

It is often the case that the backstory is more interesting than the story itself, and the backstory of The Horsefly Chronicles is certainly no exception. As you will read below, Ms. Fleck seems very interested that you see my public record so please, by all means, feel free to go to any of a number of online sites that facilitate public record searches and enter my name. These records are in the public domain and it is perfectly legal. What will you find? Nothing. No criminal record, no arrests, just a traffic ticket from 1977 which probably dropped off the report years ago, if it was even on it to begin with. I'm such a nerd that I've never smoked weed. I've never even smoked a cigarette. I don't drink. Plain vanilla. Nuns think I'm boring. Now, while you're at it and since Ms. Fleck 'went there' and broached the subject, enter the name of Karissa Fleck, lead paranormal investigator of The Horsefly Chronicles case and central to the very premise of this "true" paranormal account. Yes, indeed...often the backstory is more interesting than the story itself.

What is the point of all of this and what does it boil down to? The point is that I believe the public has a right to dig beyond the claims and media hype, especially if they are being asked to shell out their hard-earned money. Once individuals willfully place themselves in the media spotlight, whether it be via books, movies, claims of psychic abilities or anything else, they are then open to public scrutiny. What this boils down to is the fact that I have been a paranormal investigator for well-over two decades. In that time, I have never taken a penny from a client for my services, nor do I ever intend to do so. I read The Horsefly Chronicles. I had many doubts about the paranormal claims in the book. I read a lot of books. Most are not about the paranormal, as I sometimes just need a break from the spooky stuff to clear my head. I write a paranormal blog. I wrote my review of the book on that blog. It was simply my honest opinion as someone in the paranormal field. I had already written my next blog on a completely unrelated subject. That was the end of it...or so I thought. Until, of course, Karissa Fleck, lead paranormal investigator of The Horsefly Chronicles case, began making wild, unfounded and untrue accusations about me on social media in retaliation for my review. I could have just blown it off considering the source and would have preferred to do so, but Ms. Fleck's accusations became too vile to ignore. So, here we are...

What follows is yet another unedited public Facebook 'conversation' initiated by Karissa Fleck, self-proclaimed "famous" psychic medium and, yes, as lead paranormal investigator of The Horsefly Chronicles case, central to the very premise of this "true" paranormal account:

  • Karissa Fleck: Your a sex offender posting my address on facebook. I would watch yourself if I was you.       
  • Karissa Fleck: All your doing is digging your own grave with your obsession my lawyers have and are looking into you and so are the police.
  • Karissa Fleck: Karissa, what are you talking about? I have never posted anything about you on Facebook. The only thing that I wrote was my book review on my site. Feel free to have the police and lawyers contact me all they want. What you don't seem to understand is this person on Facebook isn't me. He tried to get over on me, too.
  • Anthony Duda: Why on earth would I have an obsession with you? I even stopped all comments on my book review because they were too negative towards you guys. Feel free to call me to discuss if you want. My # is very easily found on my website.
  • Karissa Fleck: Tried calling you and you didn't answer.
  • Anthony Duda: Was away from my cell. Saw # when I got back but didn't know it was yours.
  • Karissa Fleck: You didn't call me back or answer the second time I called you. What you state is a book review (which my name isn't even in the first book) is resulting in threats towards me from people who follow you if not you yourself. For someone who has never met me you are the lowest of the lows to do something like this to someone else. You block me from my other account and you act lik... (Anthony Duda: Ms. Fleck's paragraph ended mid-sentence. I have no idea what "other account" she is talking about. I have blocked her from nothing).
  • Karissa Fleck: Infact you know the article isn't true because you put a disclaimer up. Why would you do that other then the fact that you know you lied and you know you have lawyers watching you. (Anthony Duda: My website and all of my blogs have had the same legal disclaimer since 2011. The primary reason is liability. If someone visits a haunted location that I may mention, they do so at their own risk. It is quite astounding that most paranormal websites actually do not have such a disclaimer, which is why I consulted my attorneys before creating my site).
  • Anthony Duda: I'm in bed. Long day tomorrow. If you look at all of my blogs going back to the very first in 2011, you will see the same legal disclaimer. It is also on my website written by my attorneys. It was a book review. An opinion. It is what I thought of the book. There was no malicious intent.
  • Anthony Duda: As for lawyers watching, accusing someone baselessly of being something as vile as a sex offender on social media will not be tolerated again by my lawyers. Although you may have deleted it, I have the screen grab.
  • Karissa Fleck: Yea I have the screen shot of you posting my address and other things that will also not be tolerated by my lawyers so keep it up and I'll see you in court if you want to keep playing these childish games I also have the iP addresses from all the fake accounts you use to harass me.
  • Karissa Fleck: Fine, then take it to your lawyers and the police. It's not me. I'd be happy to answer any questions they may have. I have no idea who this person is, but I do know that when he tried to dupe me and others on a paranormal page on Facebook, he was going by the name of "Joe Para".
  • Anthony Duda: Furthermore, I have no idea what your address is, or even what state you now live. I suppose if someone was determined or cared, it could easily be located on the Internet.
  • Karissa Fleck: Yea just like I found your records online things can be easily traced.
  • Anthony Duda: Fine. I'd be happy to tell you where I live. Is that some type of veiled threat?
  • Karissa Fleck: Nope not a threat whatsoever you leave me alone I leave you alone but charges stay on record for a long time and it seems yours isn't clean.
  • Anthony Duda: Fine, Ms. Fleck, and please feel free to trace all of the IP addresses you may have. You will find none connected to me or, as far as I know, anyone I have any connection with. It's very strange that you have created all of this about me when I literally have not given you a second thought. You were simply part of the story of The Horsefly Chronicles, which I reviewed. Before that, I had never heard of you. I hope you catch this elusive person you say is harassing you. Actually, I honestly do. No one should be harassed. Have a good night, Ms. Fleck.
  • Karissa Fleck: Yea it also seems strange to me that you have done nothing but attack me since reading a book I'm not even mentioned in lol. But it's ok like I said you leave me alone I'll leave you alone. You google me and you leave your shit little blog on other things about me you are the one following me not the other way around bye anthony if I hear from you again your charges will be out for all to see (Anthony Duda: Apparently, Ms. Fleck had somehow forgotten that she was the one who initiated our 'conversation' on this day, not the other way around. While true that Ms. Fleck is not mentioned in the first volume of The Horsefly Chronicles, she has been doing extensive media interviews since 2014, aggressively promoting the book and her role in the story. As mentioned previously, Mr. Siracusa has also authored a companion book to The Horsefly Chronicles, The Curse of The Horsefly Chronicles, which details Ms. Fleck's lead role, as well as the roles of others).
  • Anthony Duda: Please post my "charges", Ms. Fleck. I'd love to see them. Other than a traffic ticket in 1977, there are no "charges". Really, please post these "charges" that you have. I really would love everyone to see what you supposedly have, Ms. Fleck.

Charming, isn't she? At that point, Ms. Fleck ended her attack. I'm still waiting to see the "charges" that I supposedly have, which will be news to everyone as I was a law enforcement officer on a state level for many years, licensed to carry weapons and have passed numerous criminal background checks. Apparently, they didn't care about my 1977 traffic ticket. Lucky for me, as sliding on an icy road and hitting a mailbox in my '66 Volkswagen Beetle was such a heinous crime. 

Update, November 11, 2015: Unfortunately, she continues. Yes, Karissa Fleck, lead paranormal investigator of The Horsefly Chronicles case, appears to have reached an all-time low. What she has now publicly accused me of in her October 21, 2015 interview with Paranormal Herald Magazine in apparent retaliation for my review of The Horsefly Chronicles goes beyond disgusting. It goes beyond vile. There are simply no words.

I am currently out of the Boston area on an investigation in another region of the country. While in my hotel room doing research for an upcoming case, I happened upon Evan Jensen's online interview with Ms. Fleck. Mr. Jensen is the owner of the Paranormal Herald Magazine website and the person responsible for its content. Apparently, none of Ms. Fleck's interview statements or accusations were fact-checked by Mr. Jensen, nor did he or anyone associated with his website contact me. Had he bothered to do so prior to publication, he would have discovered that none of Ms. Fleck's accusations against me have any factual basis. Her tale is a complete fabrication. He and Ms. Fleck apparently believe that using the word "allegedly" absolves them from the responsibility of the truth, as if I have been accused of such disgusting charges in the legal nomenclature. That is not the case, as the only person making these wild, untrue accusations is Karissa Fleck.

Am I angry? Not at all. Am I upset? Not in the least. However, I am determined, and I will end this. I did not pick this fight, I simply reviewed The Horsefly Chronicles and Ms. Fleck's role in the case, a role that has been discussed extensively by both Ms. Fleck and Mr. Siracusa in their numerous media interviews, as well as documented in Mr. Siracusa's published companion book, The Curse of the Horsefly Chronicles.

What follows is an email sent to Evan Jensen, owner of the Paranormal Herald Magazine website and the person responsible for its content. I have been very patient throughout Ms. Fleck's libelous rampage, choosing to refrain from legal action considering the source. However, today that patience ended. I now hope both Ms. Fleck and Mr. Jensen retain excellent counsel. I will keep you, the reader, updated as advised by my attorneys.

Hello, Mr. Jensen,

My name is Anthony Duda. I just finished reading with interest the interview with Karissa Fleck that you posted on your website.

Please be aware that none of Ms. Fleck's allegations are true. According to Ms. Fleck, there is someone stalking her online, and perhaps that is the case. However, that person is not me, nor is it anyone I am familiar with to the best of my knowledge. I have never been contacted by the police, nor have I ever seen or posted any photos of Ms. Fleck, indecent or otherwise. The only thing that I have posted is my review of The Horsefly Chronicles, the updates to that review, and the email response to the review. I have never seen and am not familiar with the screen captures that you have attributed to me in your article/interview.

Ms. Fleck's accusations apparently stem from my August 25, 2015 review of the book, The Horsefly Chronicles, on my blog. As you probably know, both Ms. Fleck and the book's author, Philip Siracusa, have been heavily promoting the book and Ms. Fleck's role in the case in media interviews since 2014. In fact, Mr. Siracusa has published a companion book, The Curse of The Horsefly Chronicles, documenting her role as lead paranormal investigator in the case, as well as the roles of others. I have read both books, but only reviewed The Horsefly Chronicles on my blog, and had many doubts of the paranormal claims detailed in the book. Since posting my review of The Horsefly Chronicles on my blog, it seems that I have become the subject of an intimidation campaign by Karissa Fleck, of which I am only aware when I happen to come across websites and articles/interviews such as yours, as well as being mentioned in social media and contacted via random texts by Ms. Fleck, of which I have full documentation. You have apparently deemed it appropriate to allow Ms. Fleck to libel me with truly vile and untrue accusations on your website without bothering to perform due diligence in confirming the facts, or even extending the courtesy of contacting me to obtain those facts. In doing so, you are complicit in that libel and defamation of my character. If you had bothered to read my review of The Horsefly Chronicles, as well as the updates posted to the same review, you would have noticed that there are no accusations directed towards Ms. Fleck or Mr. Siracusa, only my opinion of the book and questions about the validity of the paranormal claims and Ms. Fleck's role in the investigation, which both have discussed extensively in media interviews while promoting the book. Ms. Fleck was only mentioned briefly in my review of The Horsefly Chronicles. Only after her 'conversations' with me did I post my opinion of said conversations and have further questions.

Today is Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 2:56 AM and, as stated, I have just read your posted article/interview. In fact, I am away from New England, in another region of the country, on an investigation and happened upon it online while doing research for a case I am working on. I will be contacting my attorneys in Boston as soon as their offices open later this morning.

Regards,
Anthony Duda
Boston, Massachusetts
857-247-7503
www.AnthonyDuda.com

Oh, and here, again, is that notorious legal disclaimer that you'll see on each of my blogs...

Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.

Is The Rebecca Nurse Homestead Haunted?

New England Paranormal Investigators,Anthony Duda,The Rebecca Nurse Homestead,Danvers,Massachusetts,Haunted,The Salem Witch Trials,Ghosts,Paranormal,www.AnthonyDuda.com
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead,Danvers,Massachusetts,Haunted,Salem Witch Trials,Ghosts,Paranormal,www.AnthonyDuda.com

Please Note: Due to format changes,
English/Spanish text audio is not available
for this addition of The Booo! Blog.











A Tale of Two Salems

Located and landlocked in the heart of Essex County, Danvers, Massachusetts is an unassuming town, much like many others. The familiar juxtaposition of strip malls and rural New England dominates the landscape. It's acceptably pleasant, even very nice, but "Nothing to see here..." might be the initial reaction of a casual visitor, especially when compared to New England's more scenic opportunities. No, there aren't too many 'Kodak Moments' in Danvers. Unless, of course, you happen to be a paranormal investigator...

"Oh Shitteth! We Should Not Have Donneth That..."

Whether due to lingering shame or aggressive marketing on the part of its seaside neighbor (or a bit of both), a frequently-ignored fact is that Danvers voluntarily entered history's version of the Witness Protection Program. You see, until 1752, the Town of Danvers did not exist, and had a completely different identity: Salem Village. Yes, that Salem. Shortly after hanging nineteen innocent people and crushing another, the townsfolk collectively realized they had screwed-up big time and, hoping to bury the past, save their butts and dispense with the stigma attached to the witch trial mess they created, came up with "Danvers" as the slick, guilt-free new name for their village.

The oft-ignored dirty little secret, however, is that most of the witch hysteria did not happen in Salem Town (what we now know as Salem) but in Salem Village (now Danvers). While Salem Town certainly did have some craziness going on back in the day, the bulk of the name calling and finger pointing actually happened in Salem Village. In fact, even the hangings and the "pressing" (a quaint,17th century term to describe crushing someone to death) occurred outside the limits of Salem Town. 

Today, Salem is flocked to as the 'Witchcraft Capitol of the World', even though it suffers from a touch of Dissociative Identity Disorder. The business owners embrace all the spooky stuff but, by and large, the permanent residents of Salem do not. For a variety of reasons, they would prefer their city not be invaded every October, available parking not the least among them. Even within the city ranks there is a whiff of conflict, as some would prefer Salem to be known for its rich maritime history instead of black cats and broomsticks, let alone its darker side.

Even though it's actually deeper in witch trial history than Salem, Danvers has, for the most part, successfully deflected all of the hoopla and publicity. It's amazing what a simple name change and some Teflon can do. Sometimes, however, things still stick. And, yes, sometimes, the buried refuse to remain dead...

The Rebecca Nurse Homestead

Rebecca Nurse was one of the twenty innocent people put to death, 'convicted' of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials. Stoic and dignified to the end, she was hanged on July 19, 1692, her story probably the most well-known of the unfortunate victims.

I have heard and read numerous reports of odd sensations and occurrences from people visiting The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, her original home meticulously maintained by the Danvers Alarm List Company, a dedicated group of living history reeanactors in the Danvers, Massachusetts area, and finally had the time to quickly grab some equipment and spend a few hours there.

Date of Visit: Friday, July 24, 2015

Time of Visit12:30 PM - 2:30 PM EDT (Time approximate)

Location of Visit: 149 Pine Street, Danvers, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA

Coordinates of Visit: N42° 33' 30.094", W70° 56' 53.885" (WGS84)
                                     42.558359,-70.948302 (GPS)
 
Weather Conditions During Visit: Sunny, 78°F 

Equipment Used During Visit: 1) Moditronic Deep Infrared Camera  2) Spectercam Full Spectrum HD Camcorder
                                                  
                                                  
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead is open varying hours depending on time of year. Please call 978-774-8799 or visit the website for further information. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable and super-pleasant, and are happy to answer any questions you may have. Admission: Adults: $7.00, Seniors (65 and older): $5.00, Children 16 and under: $4.00, Children under 6: Free. Guided tours begin at 10:30, 11:30, 1:00 and 2:00 and last 40 minutes to an hour. All information is believed accurate at the time of this writing.


The Rebecca Nurse Homestead,Danvers,MA,Salem Witch Trials,Haunted,Ghosts,Paranormal,www.AnthonyDuda.com



The Rebecca Nurse Homestead
Danvers (Salem Village)
Massachusetts







The Buildings

All of the structures on the grounds of The Rebecca Nurse Homestead look as though they belong, but only the house itself is original to the land. The barn and shop were located at another homestead, and re-erected on the property in 1983 to replace the original Nurse barn that burned down in 1964. The Shoemaker's Shed and Dairy Shed were brought from other locations as well. The impressive Salem Village Meeting House is an exact reproduction of the 1692 Salem Village Meeting House, and was built in 1984 for the film Three Sovereigns for Sarah, which was filmed on the location.

The Grounds

Sitting on 25-acres of grassy fields and woodlands, I can't say that I blame whomever or whatever for wanting to hang around the place past their mortal expiration date. Not only are the grounds saturated with history, they also drip with atmosphere. One gets the impression that the centuries-old trees are the silent sentinels of the property, watching over the Homestead.

The Graveyard

So far, I've sounded much more like a tour guide than a paranormal investigator, but here's where things take a turn for the creepy: Welcome to The Nurse Graveyard...

Family graveyards presented somewhat of a problem for the early settlers, and it went something like this: Uncle Ezekial dies. Uncle Ezekial is placed in a wooden box. The wooden box containing Uncle Ezekial is planted in the ground. The wooden box eventually rots and, well...so does Uncle Ezekial. Uncle Ezekial seeps into the ground water. Before long, Uncle Ezekial is with you in your bathtub (creepy). And in your tea (beyond creepy). And suddenly, the chamber pot becomes the most valued and fought over possession in the 17th century New England home. Yes, the entire family has come down with a screamin' case of "Uncle Ezekial's Revenge". Or worse.

To avoid all this unpleasantness, family graveyards were located as far away on the property as possible from the house and ground water supply, so as not to contaminate the well. The Nurse Graveyard is located in the back of a field, far from the living area.

"At The Corner of Happy and Healthy"?

Since Rebecca Nurse was convicted and executed for the charge of witchcraft and cavorting with the Devil, she was not allowed a Christian burial. In fact, none of the twenty men and women found 'guilty' were allowed such burials, their bodies simply and unceremoniously thrown into a ditch after the party was over. It is believed that Rebecca Nurses' son, Benjamin, secretly retrieved her body from Gallows Hill under the cover of darkness and buried her somewhere on the Nurse Homestead grounds. The grave was not marked in case the 'good' people of Salem Village got curious and decided not to let Rebecca rest in peace. There is a memorial that was erected in The Nurse Graveyard in 1885 but, the truth is, no one knows for certain where her remains are buried. To avoid the ground water contamination issues mentioned above, it's a safe bet to assume that she was buried on the grounds as far away from the house as possible, and that probably would have been the area that is now the family graveyard.

Speaking of Gallows Hill, the 'official' Gallows Hill, located in Salem (Salem Town) in what is now known as Gallows Hill Park, is one of those big, fat lies of history. The real Gallows Hill, where the carnage took place, is likely located on what is now private property abutting a Walgreens on Boston Street, a location known as Proctor's Ledge. It's ironic their sales slogan is that their stores are located "At The Corner of Happy and Healthy". My guess is that Rebecca and the gang would beg to differ.

Blast from the Past

Twice while walking through the house, I felt a very noticeable cold breeze hit me while taking pictures. There is no air conditioning in the original section of the structure, and the indoor temperature averaged 80°F. I could find nothing to account for the sensation.
(Click on image to enlarge)


Cold Breeze Photo #1
Cold Breeze Photo #1
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): A blast of cold air hit me while taking this shot in the kitchen of The Rebecca Nurse Homestead. I saw nothing unusual when taking this photo, yet the camera recorded this image. These are not blurred images caused by the movement of a handheld camera. While EXIF data shows that the shutter speed was, indeed, slow (1/20 sec.), the camera was securely tripod-mounted. Whatever this was, it was moving and blurring the image, not the other way around. Taken with the Moditronic Deep Infrared camera.
Cold Breeze Photo #2
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): Another 'cold air' shot taken in the kitchen of The Rebecca Nurse Homestead. Again, I saw nothing unusual. Taken with the Moditronic Deep Infrared camera.
Cold Breeze Photo #2
The Macabre Mosaic

There is something not quite 'right' about The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, as the photographs seem to indicate. During my visit, the kitchen seemed to be the focal point of activity and photographic anomalies. In particular, the back kitchen windows seemed to almost tell a story. Life sucked back in 1692 New England and, other than the Church (and Rebecca would soon discover in the worst way that they had no sense of humor), any type of social life was frowned-upon. Perhaps she spent much of her time sitting at her kitchen table, gazing out those windows. And Rebecca Nurses' kitchen is as good a place as any for a dash of common sense and a pinch of caution: Our brains often try to make recognizable shapes out of random patterns, a phenomenon known as apophenia, so we always have to be mindful of 'seeing' things that are not really there. Still, taking everything into account, the following photographs definitely fit into the 'high weirdness' category, which is why I present them here. There have been some interesting online comments concerning these particular windows, and I was determined to get to the truth. I'm not sure that I have, but this may be the first time they have been photographed and examined using deep infrared and full spectrum technologies. The soft focus is inherent in both technologies. No manipulation was done on these images except minimum contrast enhancement and black and white conversion. So, without further adieu...

(Click on image to enlarge)


Rear Kitchen Windows (Deep Infrared)
Rear Kitchen Windows (Deep Infrared)
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015).
Rear Kitchen Windows (Full Spectrum)
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015).
Rear Kitchen Windows (Full Spectrum)
Enlargement: Left Kitchen Window (Deep Infrared)
Enlargement: Left Kitchen Window (Deep Infrared)
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): Enlargement of left kitchen window.
Enlargement: Left Kitchen Window (Full Spectrum)
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): Enlargement of left kitchen window.
Enlargement: Left Kitchen Window (Full Spectrum)
Enlargement: Right Kitchen Window (Deep Infrared)
Enlargement: Right Kitchen Window (Deep Infrared)
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): Enlargement of right kitchen window.
Enlargement: Right Kitchen Window (Full Spectrum)
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): Enlargement of right kitchen window.
Enlargement: Right Kitchen Window (Full Spectrum)
Enlargement: Left Window, Top Half, Top Left Pane (Full Spectrum)
Enlargement: Left Window, Top Half, Top Left Pane (Full Spectrum)
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): Is Rebecca Nurse still gazing out her window?
Enlargement: Left Window, Top Half, Top Right Pane (Full Spectrum)
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): Writing? What does it say?
Enlargement: Left Window, Top Half, Top Right Pane (Full Spectrum)
Enlargement: Left Window, Top Half, Top Right Pane (Deep Infrared)
Enlargement: Left Window, Top Half, Top Right Pane (Deep Infrared)
The Rebecca Nurse Homest. ad, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): Writing? What does it say?
Enlargement: Left Window, Lower Half, Upper Left Pane (Deep Infrared)
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): Is that a woman hanging from a tree?
Enlargement: Left Window, Lower Half, Upper Left Pane (Deep Infrared)
Enlargement: Right Window, Top Half, Lower Right Pane (Deep Infrared)
Enlargement: Right Window, Top Half, Lower Right Pane (Deep Infrared)
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): Who's this satanic-looking little fellow?
Enlargement: Left Window, Top Half, Lower Right Pane (Deep Infrared)
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): This was barely visible in Full Spectrum, so I didn't post it. See the cross? There is no cross inside the home in that location. And what's with the hunched, Nosferatu-like figure?
Enlargement: Left Window, Top Half, Lower Right Pane (Deep Infrared)
Enlargement: Left Window, Top Half, Center Pane (Full Spectrum)
Enlargement: Left Window, Top Half, Center Pane (Full Spectrum)
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): Lynch mob scene in lower portion of window?
Enlargement: Right Window, Upper Half, Lower Right Pane (Full Spectrum)
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): Head and shoulders shot of a hooded figure?
Enlargement: Right Window, Upper Half, Lower Right Pane (Full Spectrum)
Enlargement: Left Window, Lower Half, Center Pane (Full Spectrum)
Enlargement: Left Window, Lower Half, Center Pane (Full Spectrum)
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): Is that one evil-looking face or what?
Enlargement: Right Window, Lower Half, Upper Left Pane (Deep Infrared)
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): Hello, Kitty! Is this a profile of an animal head?
Enlargement: Right Window, Lower Half, Upper Left Pane (Deep Infrared)
Left Window, Upper Half, Upper Center Pane (Deep Infrared)
Left Window, Upper Half, Upper Center Pane (Deep Infrared)
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): Apparently, an evil pig demanded equal face time. He's such a ham!
Enlargement: Left Window, Upper Half, Lower Center Pane (Deep Infrared)
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts (2015): Another shot of the 'mist', this time in the window. And finally, what you've all been wondering. Witches? Admit it, you know it's crossed your mind...
Enlargement: Left Window, Upper Half, Lower Center Pane (Deep Infrared)
...What About Donatella??
...What About Donatella??
Seriously? Do you have any doubt? I'm just sayin'...





















































































































































































































































































Is The Rebecca Nurse Homestead Haunted?

I will leave that question for you to ponder while examining these photographs late at night. Come to your own conclusions. Time for bed? Perhaps you should leave the nightlight on, just in case...

Until next time, pleasant dreams...

The Rebecca Nurse Homestead,Danvers,Massachusetts,Haunted,Salem Witch Trials,Ghosts,Paranormal,www.AnthonyDuda.com






Update, January 12, 2016: There has long been a debate concerning the actual location where the hangings took place. A group of researchers, using scientific methodology and process of elimination, today announced the results of the work they began in 2010. As mentioned in my blog, the actual location was not the 'official' Gallows Hill, but the unassuming, rocky location next to the Walgreens at 59 Boston Street in Salem known as Proctor's Ledge.

Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.

A Hiccup in Time in North Reading, Massachusetts

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A Hiccup in Time in North Reading, Massachusetts

Strange tales of time slips, while uncommon, do come my way from time-to-time. I go into depth about what a time slip is, as well as the possible cause, on the Ghosts and Hauntings page of my website. The short and dirty definition of a time slip? The brief, unintentional intersection of another timeline, either past or future (or, perhaps, even an alternate present) with a present timeline that an individual knows and recognizes as their timeline. In other words, their reality. While all of this may sound like the plot of a sci-fi movie that you dare not take a bathroom break during for fear of being totally lost when you get back to your seat, there is some fairly interesting theoretical science behind it. And since I just brought it up, I might as well clue you in on one of my pet peeves: people who take a pee break or make a Twizzler run during a movie, then get back to their seat and insist that you explain what happened while they were gone. I mean, am I just being a jerk, or is that annoying? Okay, I'm probably just being a jerk...

Now that I've vented and gotten that off my chest, let's get back to the spooky stuff, with a story of an incident that allegedly happened in our own backyard. This was told to me by a client, and I have been given permission to pass it on to you with one caveat: that I do not use his real name. We'll call him 'John'. It is interesting to note that this tale of weirdness occurred the same weekend that Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on New England. Did the unique meteorological conditions play a part? Possibly. Extreme or unusual weather conditions often factor into paranormal events. After interviewing John, reviewing multiple references, and recreating the route of his drive during those early morning hours in late October 2012, I have documented the following information:

Date of EventSunday, October 28, 2012

Time of Event12:30 AM EST (Time approximate)

Location of EventHaverhill Street, North Reading, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA

Coordinates of Event: N42° 35.3273', W071° 4.9297' (WGS84 coordinates approximate)
                                      42.588788, -71.082161 (GPS coordinates approximate)

Weather Conditions at Time of Event: Hurricane Sandy (During lull in storm)

It is important to note that, although returning from a party, alcohol appears to have played no role in the incident. In addition, John passed voice stress analysis (X13-VSA PRO) without issue. While somewhat controversial and not an exact science, it does bolster the credibility of his account of events. What follows was taken from his account, recorded at his home on Saturday, October 4, 2014.

John Tells His Story of Strangeness

"I was returning from a Halloween party at a friend's place in North Andover (Massachusetts) on Saturday night. Well, actually the drive home was early Sunday morning, October 28, 2012. I guess it was around 12:30 or so. Hurricane Sandy was hitting us hard that weekend, so I was surprised the party was still on, and don't know why I went. Looking back, I should've stayed home because the roads weren't safe. It's dark and rural out that way. I remember thinking it was the perfect atmosphere for a Halloween party, though. Maybe that's why I went, I don't know. I didn't wear a costume 'cause I had enough sense to figure if I got stranded on the road someplace, I'd look like an idiot if the cops came.

I took Haverhill Street on the way home, so I guess that would be southbound or southeast? Yeah, I guess it must be, because you have to go through North Reading (Massachusetts) before you get to Reading (Massachusetts). Anyways, I went through the center square in North Reading, where all the old, historic buildings are. The rain and wind wasn't too bad; it seemed to be letting up. A couple minutes past that spot, just before North Reading/Reading town line, on the North Reading side, I drove into a thick fog. You always know when you cross the town line because the pavement on the road changes, rougher or the North Reading side, smoother on the Reading side, and I hadn't noticed that it had happened yet. The fog was weird, it was like no fog anywhere, then all the sudden, bang! A thick fog. Really weird. My radio went completely dead. I mean, the panel was still lit, but no sound, just hiss. My hearing got muffled, too, like having your hands over your ears. It scared me a little bit. Well, it scared me a lot (John chuckles nervously). What really was crazy, though, was what I could see through the fog, or what was supposed to be there that wasn't. Most of the houses on the street weren't there anymore. It was like I drove into this thick fog, but once in it, it wasn't that foggy anymore. Like going through a door, the change was that quick. It was still night, but there were no streetlights, either. The road seemed to be narrow, but I got the impression that whatever structures that were there had been pushed back. I don't know how to explain it better than that. None of the recognizable cues were there anymore; my perception was completely different. No other cars, but I guess there wouldn't be much traffic on that section of Haverhill Street that time of night, especially during weather like that. You know the weird thing, though? Gaslights! I saw what looked like gaslights or candles in the few houses that I saw. They definitely weren't electric lights. This went on for what I later estimated to be about twenty seconds or so, then I hit that thick fog again and everything was back to normal, just as quick as it happened. Sound was coming out of my radio again, same station, just like nothing changed.

Nothing like that had ever happened to me before or since, and I've been on that road, damn, I don't know how many times. I've given up on trying to figure it out, 'cause it just makes you crazy and I don't think there's an answer. I can tell you that I never drink and drive, and the strongest thing I had at the party that night was a Sprite." (John again chuckles nervously).

"You're not gonna use my name, right?" 

"No, not your real name", I reassure John on the recording. "I'm just interested in your story."

Destination: Arkham, Massachusetts?

Many towns in New England celebrate their rich Colonial past, but few to the degree of North Reading. While the blight of progress has infected even the most hearty and stalwart of New England communities, North Reading remains oddly immune. Walking through the Center Square, one gets the sense that the 1700s never really ended, and those golden arches and horseless carriages seen in other towns are merely an unfortunate illusion.

North Reading,Massachusetts,Haverhill Street,Boston,New England Paranormal Investigators - Boston - MA - CT - ME - NH - RI - VT,Haunted,Ghost,Paranormal,Time Travel,Time Slip,New England Paranormal Investigators,Anthony Duda,www.AnthonyDuda.com,I recently paid a visit to North Reading, traveling historic Haverhill Street to get a feel for what 'John' experienced. While I certainly didn't expect to be transported in time by a fog bank, I nonetheless wanted to complete the images his account had drawn in my head. Fog bank not withstanding, I was not disappointed.

"Historic" Haverhill Street? Yes, indeed. The street intersects many towns, and was the main route between Boston and Haverhill, Massachusetts back in the day when Paul Revere was excitedly yelling something about the British coming. For all we know, Mr. Revere could have encountered the same fog bank, gone fast-forward a few hundred years, and was referring to The Beatles. Yes, North Reading really is that strange...

Many houses and farms from the Colonial era still silently stand on Haverhill Street, and even without some paranormal trick of time, my eyes had to search for current-day reminders. The pavement surface does change abruptly at the Reading/North Reading demarcation and is very noticeable when driving, just as John had stated. I also noted that a path of high power lines cross over the street at the approximate location where John said he had his experience. I find this interesting, as high power lines have been involved with paranormal experiences in many documented cases. This may be due to the effects of strong electromagnetic fields on the brain or, as some paranormal researchers believe, that the fields supply the energy for such events to occur and manifest.

The sudden appearance of fog, the brief time frame, and the "muffled" hearing sensation John said that he experienced during the incident have been a component of some other documented accounts of slips in time. And one cannot help but wonder what role, if any, the unusual meteorological conditions due to Hurricane Sandy contributed to the event. Last (but, yes, almost certainly least), it was almost Halloween. The town would be the perfect setting for an H.P. Lovecraft story. No, it wouldn't surprise me a bit if his fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts was inspired by North Reading. After all, it was his neck of the woods. I'm sure Miskatonic University is waiting there for the next unsuspecting traveler, just beyond the fog...

North Reading,Massachusetts,Haverhill Street,Boston,New England Paranormal Investigators - Boston - MA - CT - ME - NH - RI - VT,Haunted,Ghost,Paranormal,Time Travel,Time Slip,New England Paranormal Investigators,Anthony Duda,www.AnthonyDuda.com,






Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.

USS Escolar (SS-294): Has She Been Located?


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"And I Think It's Gonna Be a Long, Long Time..."

...but who knew it would be this long? I advise on the homepage of my website to "check the dates", and question how committed others are to their sites if they don't regularly update them. Much to my embarrassment, I'm now just as guilty. Projects and life have kept me away from the keyboard, but I never really left the paranormal. I'm back and, yes, it has been a long time. Too long.

USS Escolar (SS-294): Everything You've Read Is Wrong

No edition of The Booo! Blog has generated, and continues to generate, the volume of mail and inquiries as the January 2012 edition. While the others are widely read, my story of USS Escolar, a submarine lost in 1944, seems to have connected on a different level. The mystery surrounding her disappearance, the tragic loss of all hands, and a spectral encore apparently made for a potent mix, but not one by design. The blog tells of what was known about USS Escolar and her crew at the time of her disappearance, and what happened decades later as a result. As I've stated elsewhere on these pages, and with apologies to Mark Twain: Sometimes truth is spookier than fiction.

The unknown fate of USS Escolar has always followed me, as my uncle, Joseph James Bender, Jr., Ph1M, United States Navy, was a member of her crew. Whenever life gets hectic and Escolar, by necessity, drifts to the back of my mind, something always jolts it back, front and center. It happened tonight: I was watching an episode of Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen (a rare episode where he actually did very little screaming...the guy's my hero) and what did one of the chefs prepare? Escolar. I knew that Escolar is a fish, but have you ever heard of anyone having it for dinner? Ever seen it on a menu? My intention was to write this blog several days ago, but I was pulled in another, unrelated direction. Just as the countless times in the past, synchronicity stepped in, hit me over the head, and the crew of USS Escolar found a way to politely say, "Excuse us, we don't mean to be a bother, but if you wouldn't mind pulling your ass away from the television, we're still waiting to be found". Transcending the passage of time that we, on this side, perceive as seventy years, these interdimensional ship to shore reminders have recently been on the upswing. Why? Because, thanks to an odd twist of fate sparking an international effort involving a team of dedicated individuals, we now believe we know, not only what happened to USS Escolar, but where she likely rests. With the recent surfacing of new documents, primarily from sources in Japan, it has become apparent that the official U.S. Navy account of what was believed to have happened to USS Escolar in October 1944 was, in fact, not the reality. She did not hit a mine, disintegrating in relative swiftness. To the contrary, Commander W.J. Millican and the crewmen of USS Escolar engaged in an extended and harrowing game of cat and mouse in a desperate attempt to save their lives.

What follows, published for the first time, is a copy of the USS Escolar (SS-294) Factual Summary. It is important to understand that this is a 'living' document, and contains information believed to be currently accurate. Therefore, as new information is uncovered, it is possible that this document may be subject to emendation. 
_________________________________________________________________________________________________

USS Escolar (SS-294)
Factual Summary
Compiled/Written: Anthony Duda
Telephone: 857-247-7503
Date: July 2, 2014
 
 
FACT 
 
The last known radio transmission received from USS Escolar (SS-294) was on Tuesday, October 17, 1944. Escolar reported that she was 33°-44'N, 127°-33'E, and was heading for 33°-44'N, 129°-06'E. These coordinates place the submarine in the Tsushima Strait. The 'wolf pack', known as "Millican's Marauders" and consisting of USS Escolar (SS-294), USS Croaker (SS-246) and USS Perch (SS-313) entered the strait on Sunday, October 15, 1944. On Tuesday, October 17 at 23:00, Escolar Commander W.J. Millican ordered Croaker and Perch south of Sasebo, Japan. They departed, separating from Escolar.
 
DISCREPANCY
 
The data is undisputed.
 
SOURCE
 
Entry in the USS Perch (SS-313) log, dated Tuesday, October 17, 1944. 
 
FACT 

On Thursday, October 19, 1944, Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer CD-38 detected an unknown submarine and engaged in an anti-submarine attack while escorting IJN convoy MI-23 in the Tsushima Strait, dropping over 30 depth charges. Bubbles and an oil slick immediately appeared and gear believed to be from the submarine surfaced at the site. The coordinates of the attack: 33°-32'N, 128°-43'E. USS Escolar (SS-294) would have very likely been at those general coordinates at that time. If she did, indeed, execute her route according to her last radio transmission, the documented attack coordinates would have been along her route.
 
DISCREPANCY 
 
It must be noted that the Japan Geodetic System used the Bessel Ellipsoid, not WGS84 Ellipsoid. Therefore, the coordinates documented in 1944 may shift as much as 60m to the north with conversion to WGS 84 Ellipsoid.

CORROBORATION
 
Victor Lavon Lee, Jr. (deceased), crew member of USS Croaker (SS-246) while on patrol with USS Escolar (SS-294) and USS Perch (SS-313). He contacted Anthony Duda on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 in response to his Wednesday, January 4, 2012 blog about USS Escolar (SS-294). He stated that he witnessed sound of explosions in distance and the direction of USS Escolar (SS-294) at approximately 15:00 on Thursday, October 19, 1944.
 
SOURCE 
 
*Combat Action Report of CD-38, dated Thursday, October 19, 1944. Japan Center for Asian Historical Records National Archives of Japan.
 
*Wartime diary of IJN PB-102. Japan Center for Asian Historical Records National Archives of Japan.
 
*Imperial Japanese Navy personnel memorandum. Library of Peace Memorial Display Museum.
 
*USS Perch (SS-313) log, dated Tuesday, October 17, 1944
 
**Richard F. Graham, MosaicGeo USA, LLC, Seattle, Washington
 
FACT
 
No other United States Navy submarine or submarine from another nation was reported as attacked or sunk on Thursday, October 19, 1944 in the area where USS Escolar (SS-294) would have likely been at the time of the IJN CD-38 attack*.
 
DISCREPANCY
 
The data is undisputed.
 
SOURCE 

*IJN 1 Escort Flotilla wartime diary (CD-38 and PB-102 were part of IJN 1 Escort Flotilla), October 1944.
 
*Exhaustive Internet investigation and research.

 FACT
 
There is an official Japan Coast Guard 'snag report' map that notates a wreck in the approximate documented location where IJN destroyer CD-38 located and attacked the unknown submarine on Thursday, October 19, 1944.
 
DISCREPANCY
 
The data is undisputed.
 
SOURCE
 
Japan Coast Guard.

FACT
 
According to bathymetric charts, the documented coordinates (regardless of the possible Bessel Ellipsoid/WGS84 Ellipsoid discrepancy) in the Tsushima Strait place the wreck at a relatively shallow depth of 140m (460 ft).
 
DISCREPANCY
 
The data is undisputed.
 
SOURCE
 
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 

Note
 
According to Yutaka Iwasaki, a researcher in Japan, the documented coordinates where IJN CD-38 attacked the unknown submarine (33°-32'N, 128°-43'E) would place the location of the wreck in or very near an area of the Tsushima Strait known as "Area Golf", a fire training area for United States military forces in Japan. The Japan Coast Guard warns not to enter the area without full knowledge of the possible risk.

Summary
 
While there is some question as to the exact location of USS Escolar (SS-294), this slight discrepancy is likely due to the Bessel Ellipsoid utilized by the Japanese at the time relative to the WGS84 Ellipsoid used today. In any event, the Japan Coast Guard does know where the wreck is located, as they have noted it on their 'snag report' map of the area. In addition, we have fairly precise coordinates, corroborated by multiple source material. The facts demonstrate that there is every reason to believe the "unknown submarine" attacked in the Tsushima Strait on Thursday, October 19, 1944 was, indeed, USS Escolar, with no existing evidence to suggest otherwise.
 
The 82 brave men aboard USS Escolar want to be found. They want finality and closure for their family members and loved ones and, only then, will they finally rest. But perhaps, most of all, they want their story to be told. They want us to know the truth.
 
We owe them that. 

Research and Assistance
 
USA:
Bruce Abele
Darrell Ames
Anthony Duda
Charles R. Hinman
David Johnston
Keith Kibbe
Richie Kohler
Ronald Norford
Vickie Rodgers
 
Japan:
Kiyotaka Asano
Yutaka Iwasaki
Brad Pearson

Israel:
Michael Mohl
_________________________________________________________________________________________________

USS Escolar (SS-294): The New England Connection Runs Deep

Nine crewmen aboard USS Escolar (SS-294) hailed from New England*
(Click on image to enlarge)


Thomas Babb, Lieutenant
Thomas Babb, Lieutenant
Gloucester, Massachusetts
Joe Monroe Cummings, Motor Machinist's Mate, First Class
Joe Monroe Cummings, Motor Machinist's Mate, First Class
Waterbury, Connecticut
John Clinton Farwell, Chief Yeoman
John Clinton Farwell, Chief Yeoman
Boston, Massachusetts
Losson Verner Jeffrey,                Lieutenant, Junior Grade
Losson Verner Jeffrey, Lieutenant, Junior Grade
Norwich, Connecticut (Photograph not available)
Howard Carlton Latham, Lieutenant, Junior Grade
Howard Carlton Latham, Lieutenant, Junior Grade
Esmond, Rhode Island
William Clarence Lyons, Jr., Motor Machinist's Mate, Second Class
William Clarence Lyons, Jr., Motor Machinist's Mate, Second Class
Brookline, Massachusetts
Joseph Masloski, Fireman, First Class
Joseph Masloski, Fireman, First Class
North Hatfield, Massachusetts
Richard Clarence Turner, Electrician's Mate, Second Class
Richard Clarence Turner, Electrician's Mate, Second Class
New Bedford, Massachusetts (Photograph not available)
Richard William Wybrow, Ship's Cook, Third Class
Richard William Wybrow, Ship's Cook, Third Class
Keene, New Hampshire (Photograph not available)
*Photographs and information courtesy of Charles R. Hinman/On Eternal Patrol: Dedicated to all men lost while serving in the U.S. Submarine Force. For more information, please visit the website: http://www.oneternalpatrol.com

We Need Your Help!

Regardless of what part of the United States they were from, eighty-two men tragically lost their lives aboard USS Escolar. There is a need to get 'eyes in the water' utilizing side-scan sonar and other equipment at the documented coordinates of the attack on October 19, 1944, the location of the wreck documented on the Japan Coast Guard snag map, as well as the immediate, surrounding area, as some drift may have occurred due to the passage of time and effect of currents. Therefore, we respectfully urge the U.S. Government, Japanese Government, and private individuals and concerns with the capability to assist to do so. Sadly, while the story of USS Escolar is dramatic, it is certainly not unique. We now believe we know what happened to USS Escolar and, yes, we now believe we know where she is, resting at a relatively shallow depth of 140m (460 ft). This would not be a salvage mission, but one of identification, documentation, and closure. It matters not if seven days or seventy years have passed, they are waiting and want to be found. And yes, we do owe them that.

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I would like to thank Dr. Robert Ballard of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for his attention and consideration in the search for USS Escolar (SS-294).

Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.

New England Cryptozoology

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Boston's Worst Hour. Boston's Finest Hour.

I read some criticism by physician turned U.S. Congressman turned perennial presidential hopeful Ron Paul concerning the handling of the tragic events that unfolded during the Boston Marathon. Apparently, Dr. Paul believes that public transportation, and the city in general, should not have been shut down when the location of the surviving suspect was narrowed to the Watertown suburb. His delicate Libertarian sensibilities were rocked when residents were asked to stay in their homes for their own safety, local businesses were asked to close, and police went door-to-door to find the perpetrator. Really, Dr. Paul? Are you serious?

Boston has certainly had its share of tragedy; Albert DeSalvo's murderous 1960s adventure as The Boston Strangler comes to mind as a relatively recent example. And whether he alone was responsible for the deaths of all thirteen women is a moot point in the context of that tragedy. Going way back, we have the blood and war of Revolutionary times and all that transpired. Several others have occurred in between, of course, but the events of April 15, 2013 are among the most spectacular and tragic. Agencies at all levels worked seamlessly to ensure public safety. Emergency and medical personnel saved lives. Three innocent people with their lives ahead of them were dead. A police officer had been gunned-down in cold blood. No one knew, exactly, what the situation was or if more carnage was just around the corner. We now know that the two suspects' next stop, had their plan not been thwarted in Boston, was to continue their reign of death and dismemberment in Manhattan. Yet, the good doctor is upset because law enforcement made it temporarily impossible for residents to go to Walmart or hail a taxi to get there. On behalf of the people of Boston, please allow me to cordially relay this message to you, Ron Paul: You're an idiot!

Thank you for allowing me to vent; I feel much better now.

New England Cryptozoology: Three Men and a "Baby Moose"

New England is no stranger to the strange. Ghosts? Yes, they've certainly kept me busy all these years. UFOs? Our corner of the country is definitely a hot spot. How about Cryptids? "What? Say that again?" Crytozoology can be described in highbrow, scientific, but totally boring terms such as "The study of unknown creatures...". Forget that. I much prefer monster hunting!

We New Englanders are more than happy to embrace our witches and ghosts. We welcome our strange friends in the sky with open arms. But dinosaur-like lake dwellers and smelly, hair-covered bipeds? Nah, they're other peoples' problem! How inconvenient! How dirty! "They'll pee in our water!". They'll poop in our woods!". "Let them stay in Alaska!". "Keep them in Montana!". Sorry folks, but it's too late; they're already here. There goes the neighborhood...

It's sometimes difficult for us to see past Fenway Park and Logan International Airport, but New England encompasses much more than Boston. And that "much more" is a lot of wilderness: The Green Mountains in Vermont, White Mountains in New Hampshire, much of Central and Western Massachusetts, and practically the entire state of Maine. Throw in the sparsely-populated areas of Connecticut and Rhode Island, and you've got a lot of nothing. Granted, extremely scenic and beautiful "nothing", but nothing just the same. And if you knew you were 'monasteriense non grata' and wanted to avoid the torches, pitchforks and cellphone cameras of the local townsfolk, where would you hide? My guess is that only a few miles from one of the largest, most densely-populated metropolitan areas of the country would not be your location of choice. All of which makes this strange tale even more, well...strange...

On the night of April 21, 1977, three men, Bill Bartlett, Andy Brodie and Mike Mazzacca, had their creepy brush with cryptozoological infamy. Around 10:30, driving along Farm Street in Dover, Massachusetts, only fifteen miles outside of Boston, they spotted the creature that still has New Englanders talking more than 30 years later, and remains just as much a mystery: The Dover Demon.

The size of a large dog, the men saw the 'thing'  walking along the roadside in the headlights of their car. Described as being pink/gray in color, having a hairless, spindly, humanoid body, huge head, large eyes that glowed orange in the headlights, long, thin fingers and walking upright, it quickly scurried away over some rocks and into the nearby woods. That should be the end of our story. Maybe just a known animal? A raccoon with mange? Perhaps even a small child? But no, that's not quite the end...

It's now midnight, and less than two hours have passed since Bill, Andy and Mike spotted our unusual friend. John Baxter is walking down Farm Street towards his home. And walking towards him? The same creature seen by the others. Needless to say, John wasted no time on pleasantries, and got the hell out of there. The following evening, on April 22, it was again seen by two other people, this time on Springdale Avenue, closer to the center of town. It then disappeared, never to be seen again.

So, what was it? As with most mysteries in cryptozoology, we'll probably never know. And, as with most cryptids, shyness seemed to be its dominant personality trait. This one just happened to find itself a little closer to civilization and, perhaps, that was not by choice. Its described physical appearance is very similar to that of the 'classic' gray alien: small body, large head disproportionate to that body, large eyes, gray in color, long fingers. Very much like the alien in the movie E.T. Maybe it was trying to find its way home; by some accounts it did seem lost and confused. Did the movie influence what the witnesses believed they saw? Sounds logical, except for the glaring fact: this was 1977, and Spielberg wouldn't release E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial until 1982. The sightings were extensively researched by New England cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, who named the creature, the name which has stuck to this day.

And what about the "moose" mentioned in the title? Credit that to skeptic Marvin Kottmeyer. He decided what was seen was nothing more than a baby moose. A moose with fingers. A moose that walked upright on two legs. 

No, we will probably never know what The Dover Demon was. But we can be fairly certain what it was not.

Until next month...

New England Paranormal Investigators - Boston - MA - Ghosts - Hauntings - UFO - EVP - Cryptozoology, Connecticut - New Hampshire - Rhode Island - Maine - Vermont, Anthony Duda, Boston Paranormal Investigators - Massachusetts Paranormal Investigators, New Hampshire Paranormal Investigators - Maine Paranormal Investigators, Rhode Island Paranormal Investigators - Connecticut Paranormal Investigators, Vermont Paranormal Investigators, New England Cryptozoology, Dover Demon






Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.

Ghost Hunting: Want Better Results? Mind Your Manners!

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Interviews, Ghosts and Gremlins

I've recently been asked to do an increasing number of radio and Internet radio interviews, even though I don't have a book to hawk or anything to put out there in the hope of getting listeners to part with their money. Not that that's a bad thing; everyone has a right to make a buck. But just like a celebrity who turns up as a late night guest on Leno, Letterman or Kimmel on the eve of their latest movie's premiere, those in the paranormal biz seem to 'coincidentally' pop up all over the place when their books, events or TV shows are soon to appear. All of which make my radio visits seem like a bit of an oddity.

Along with more interviews comes more technical problems; dropped calls, connections that truly suck, or being unable to connect at all. Could it be due to the fact that I'm sometimes driving like a rabid bat out of Hell during the interviews? Damn it! Technology is supposed to work. Period :-)  I did an interview in Toronto and was 15 minutes late, not for lack of effort, but because a phone line routed through New York refused to cooperate. Maybe ghosts don't like to be talked about? Could be, but the real culprit here seems to be Skype, not spirits.

Want Better Results? Mind Your Manners!

I've often been asked the best way to "approach" ghosts during an investigation. My reply: "Mind your manners!" and approach them as you would any living person. I cover this a bit on my website, but would you want to cooperate with a stranger or (worse) group of strangers that had just barged into your home? Probably not. If we are to believe that personalities don't change when someone crosses over, then why be disrespectful? This becomes even more of an issue when dealing with an entity from a bygone era; etiquette and politeness were expected, and sensibilities were quite different. With very few exceptions, never go 'Zak Bagans' on a ghost and do the theatrical yelling/screaming/"I dare you" routine. Does it work for the Ghost Adventures buffoons? Yes, if you want to sit in front of a camera and claim that an entity is taking over your body or record an "EVP" so unintelligible that it has to be captioned. It's not an EVP; it's a digital artifact from the inexpensive digital voice recorders they (purposely) use. As for claiming an entity is entering their body, I could only venture an educated guess as to the point of entry on a TV ghost hunter.

Now, I did say, "with very few exceptions", and that is dependent on the location. Are you investigating a former orphanage? Nope, that's not one of those exceptions. An old prison or correctional facility? Maybe. If you're trying to place a call to Al Capone while investigating Eastern State Penitentiary, a little paranormal arm twisting may be in order. In Alabama trying to connect with a gracious Helen Keller? No, the bellicose shouting and taunting is rude and unnecessary. And could she hear you anyway? Think about it...

Technology can be perplexing and scary enough for those living in the 21st century, so think how our equipment must seem to someone who was alive 200 years ago? Lights flashing, cameras snapping, video monitors flickering; all with no point of reference as to what these 'machines' do or what they're used for. We must think of what they may think; "Are they here to hurt me?" "Are they going to make me leave my home?" The old adage, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" equally applies to ghosts. Always introduce yourself and your team in a calm, reassuring manner, explain your intentions, and describe your equipment and its purpose in terms a person from the past could grasp. You will get much more cooperation and, therefore, much better results. Alas, it seems our friend Zak never got the memo.

All the best until next month...

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Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.

An Occurrence on Hurricane Mountain Road

Hurricane Mountain Road,North Conway,New Hampshire,Haunted,Ghost,Paranormal,Ghost Car,New England,Anthony Duda, www.AnthonyDuda.com
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The Satanic Sweaters?

Televangelist Pat Robertson is at it again. He recently told a woman who called in to his show, The 700 Club, that a second-hand sweater she bought from Goodwill might be infested with demonic spirits. Oh my, as if the recent bedbug resurgence wasn't scary enough, now we have this to worry about? Pat's made some wacky statements over the years and, as he's galloped off into his personal sunset like a senile great uncle, no doubt his family has become increasing concerned about what he's going to blurt out at the next family reunion. But wait! Not so fast; I agree (sort of) with him on this one.

As I mention on my Ghosts and Hauntings page, be aware of used or antique items that you bring into your home. If your place has always been spook-free, but suddenly all kinds of weirdness is going on, remember anything you brought home from a thrift shop or flea market and try to match the time line. And no, size doesn't matter, at least not when it comes to hauntings. It could be as small as a button or large as a bed; the key is what emotional or sentimental attachment the deceased former owner had to the item.

And now for the "sort of" part, and where I disagree with Pat. The clingy spirit, like the person when alive, may be cheerful or cranky but, no worries; they are not demonic. That really cool '60s lava lamp? Maybe Sharon Tate thinks it's too cool to forget, too. Oh, and remember Pat's caller's sweater? '50s? Angora? Snug, yet oddly stretched? Guess what, sister? Lana wants it back.

Step Through The Paranormal Portal

If you're haunted but hiding, I've got awesome news...step through The Paranormal Portal. I've long-noticed that some are reluctant to seek help when it comes to their paranormal problems. The portal will open every Sunday evening 10:00 - 11:00. I can anonymously answer any paranormal questions that you may have; think of it as a private-but-creepy confessional. I'm here to help!

An Occurrence on Hurricane Mountain Road

I love New Hampshire. Portsmouth and the rest of the Seacoast, Lake Winnipasaukee, the White Mountains. The Granite State has never been shy about its strangeness, either. One of the earliest and, without a doubt, most famous alleged alien abduction cases, the 1961 tale of Betty and Barney Hill, happened near Lincoln. Norman Muscarello's brush with the otherworldly happened in Exeter in 1965. Throw in the higher-than-usual number of UFO sightings, assorted cryptids and ghosts, not to mention a mysterious Stonehenge-like site in Salem (What? You thought that Salem, Massachusetts had a lock on everything spooky?), and you have one very odd state. And that state is where my story takes place...

North Conway, New Hampshire: May 2009

Nestled in the White Mountains, North Conway is everything you'd imagine a New England town to be; lakes and camping in the summer, roadside stands bursting with pumpkins in autumn, snow and skiing in the winter and...parking lots with mountains of leftover snow in spring. Little stores and shops are everywhere, selling everything from antiques to The Old Man in the Mountain souvenirs (a natural rock formation resembling a face that, sadly, no longer exists, falling off the state's Cannon Mountain years ago). Looking to stay at a Holiday Inn? It's probably here somewhere, but bed and breakfasts are the bread and butter of the area, with none finer than The Buttonwood Inn. During a two-night stay, a companion and I decided to take a late-night "What the Hell, let's do it" drive along Hurricane Mountain Road, an extremely narrow (think driveway narrow) road that slowly winds its way up, over and down Kearsarge North, a mountain near the inn. No two cars can pass without one yielding the right-of-way. During the day, the road is fun and friendly. At night, it seems forgotten and foreboding, with very little light, except that supplied courtesy of the moon.

Being a beautiful and relatively warm night for the White Mountains in May, we slowly made our way up the lonely, pitch-black road. Not a car to be seen. Not a house. Just the glow of an occasional deer or opossum in the headlights. "Cool", I thought, "It doesn't get better than this". The XM satellite radio ('60s on 6!) was playing and, even though it wasn't warm enough to roll the windows down, the smell of the semi-warm mountain air drifted through the vents. We finally reached the highest point, and started to descend. Hurricane Mountain Road's twists and turns disorient you a bit, but something in your brain still tells you that you're no longer on a vertical climb. Still, no cars, which would not be unexpected on such a road at such an hour.

"Where The Hell Did That Come From?"

Suddenly, there were two headlights approximately 100 feet behind us, and closing in fast. Abnormally fast. Unnaturally fast. Within a few seconds, the car was only an inch or two from our back bumper. "Where the hell did that come from?", I asked my partner, both of us knowing that no other car was on the road and there was no place for it to hide as we drove by. Especially a car of its size. While dark, I could make out that it was a huge boat from the 1970s, dark in color, with yellowish, non-halogen headlights. Within not much more time than it takes to blink, this thing had gone from being in our rear view to being practical connected to us. And it wasn't backing down, keeping the same distance from us no matter how much I stepped on the gas. Then, I realized something strange; the satellite radio, which had been fine throughout our trek on the mountain, had been losing its signal and cutting out since the car was kissing our ass. I never panic, but let's just say that I was becoming "extremely concerned", as was my passenger. After about one minute of playing chicken, I saw the end of the road, with a stop sign at the cross street. As we slowed to make a right turn, the car veered around my driver's side, making no attempt to stop, and proceeded to make a left at a high rate of speed, vanishing as it made the turn. No, not 'vanished' as in 'sped away', vanished as in, well...vanished! The vehicle simply disappeared, as if entering an invisible tunnel. Being in the 'paranormal biz' for as long as I have, I know urban legends of phantom or ghost cars abound; almost every state has theirs. They're as common as the vanishing hitchhiker and roadside ghosts wearing powder-blue prom dresses. Still, after considerable digging, I haven't been able to unearth any dirt on this one.

After sitting in silent bewilderment for a few seconds, we did make that right turn off of Hurricane Mountain Road, the radio once again crooning Johnny Rivers.

Hurricane Mountain Road,North Conway,New Hampshire,Haunted,Ghost,Paranormal,Ghost Car,New England,Anthony Duda, www.AnthonyDuda.com






Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.

Paranormal New England: Thanks! You Guys Are Awesome!

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Great People Like You Are Why I Do What I Do!

I never saw the need to have a website, and was very content for two decades, quietly conducting paranormal investigations through referrals and word-of-mouth. I've always considered (and still do) the privacy and welfare of my clients to be my first priority, and preferred to be more invisible and anonymous than even the ghosts I was chasing. However, I believed the misinformation, ridiculous nonsense and 'me too' ghost hunter websites all over the Internet had the potential for causing much more harm than good. Not to mention that I got very weary of answering the question, "Why don't you do it like those guys on TV?". I decided to answer once and for all in August, 2011 when I created my site and this blog. I wanted to give straightforward, no-nonsense thought, opinion and observation about the nature of the paranormal and its investigation. There had to be somewhere online that people could turn when having a possible paranormal problem without wading through all the TV ghost hunter crap. Those sites are virtually everywhere, started by groups that are here one day and gone the next. When many groups realize that real paranormal investigation doesn't resemble a one-hour edited show with a spooky soundtrack, they quickly get bored and become history. Since I've been around long-before those shows were even a thought in a TV producer's mind, I considered creating a website and said, "Okay, let's do this".

On the Ghost Hunting Questions page of my site, I used the iconic line from one of my favorite movies, Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will come". My thoughts always were that, if I created a website that was unique and had something new to say concerning the paranormal, people interested in the subject or having a problem would eventually find it and, hopefully, find it helpful and informative. I've been amazed how the site and this blog have taken on a life of their own, with hundreds of daily visits from all corners of the world. Even with very little optimization and in a relatively short time, the site is now ranked #1 on virtually all Internet search engines for its intended search phrase. And do you know who's responsible for that? You. You found my site and, yes, you did come. In droves. Thank you so much! I've never charged for an investigation and, in over 20 years, have never made a penny doing this. But continue, I will, and sincerely hope that my website and blog continue to help those who have nowhere else to turn, and continues to be an island of paranormal sanity in a sea of ghost hunter sludge.

Exciting news in the New England paranormal field! Let me introduce you to two of the consultants that I work with on many investigations. Both have always resisted having their photos and information on the site, much preferring to stay out of the spotlight. However, with a lot of persuasion and arm twisting, they've finally relented. There's no way I can do it all on my own; a combination of time, logistics, knowledge and abilities (some of which I don't possess) go into any given investigation, and some are way over the level of which I'm individually capable. While I consult with a variety of different individuals on a case-by-case basis, these guys are my 'go to' core group:

New England Paranormal Investigators - Boston - MA - Welton Arcos







Welton Arcos



In my experience, the vast majority of psychic mediums, sensitives...whatever you choose to call them...really can't do what they claim. And it's not always because they're dishonest; many honestly do believe they can dial-in and get somebody to pick up the phone on the other side. Subconsciously, they're doing the equivalent of 'cold reading'. Cold reading involves asking leading questions to a stranger, picking up clues and narrowing down the possibilities with each successive question until you obtain the information you need to make a very informed guess. At that point, the stranger, usually a member of the audience on a TV show, starts to tear-up and someone in the studio hands them a Kleenex. We've all seen it, and there are some very famous (and profitable!) "psychic mediums" that I believe are nothing more than extremely talented cold readers. Then, on the other hand, there's Welton Arcos...

More educated than any one person has a right to be and fluent in twelve languages, Welton can not only make the "I see dead people" claim, but the "I can hear dead people" and "I can talk with dead people" claims as well. However, unlike many who make those claims, he never charges for his services, working on a strictly donation-only basis. He doesn't work from home with a red neon sign in his window that screams, "Psychic Readings. Walk In". And no, he has never worn a brightly-colored scarf around his head (as far as I know!). Yes, I was extremely skeptical at first, but after years of working with him on investigations, I know he's the real deal. Actually, on some investigations he takes the lead, and I'm relegated to the sidelines. Affectionately known as "Zelda" around here, after the late, great but vertically-challenged actress Zelda Rubinstein of Poltergeist fame, my high-tech equipment is usually no match for his abilities. Some in the paranormal field (or more accurately, the amateur ghost hunters and groups) may snicker and roll their eyes at the thought of using a psychic medium, as it's an assault to their "scientific methodology". You can check out my Ghost Hunting Myths and Ghost Hunting Questions pages for my answers to them.

New England Paranormal Investigators - Boston - MA - Jason J. Gagnon








Jason J. Gagnon



Wicked 'smaht' and blessed with perfect eyebrows (I mean, look at them!), Jay's the 'UFO/USO/Everything in the sky that's not supposed to be there' guy. While ghosts far outnumber aliens as the topic of inquiries I receive, if you tell me that something unknown has just landed in your backyard or you suspect someone other than your doctor has been probing your nether regions (without your consent, of course), here's the guy I'm gonna call to help me make sense of it all.

Seriously though, Jay is incredibly compassionate and knowledgeable. The UFO phenomenon is far less accepted by the general public than are ghosts and hauntings. Why is that? I'm not certain, but probably because far fewer people have had an encounter. However, if you have, you can be shaken to your very core. If you believe you have actually been abducted, things can be even worse. Please be assured that contacting me will be a judgment-free experience, so never hesitate to do so.

Keepin' it Weird

Turning in a completely different direction, I'd like to take a moment to thank Dave Hurwitz from the Unregular Radio show Keepin' it Weird for having me on. Check it out every Sunday, 2:00-3:00 pm EST...it's well worth your time! Here's the link to the podcast when I was his guest.

That's it for the February, 2013 edition of The Booo! Blog. I promise to keep the website and blog a living, breathing BEAST!

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Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.

Now Is Not the Time for Newtown

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We Were All Six Years Old

Two days after the tragedy of Friday, December 14, 2012, I began receiving 'hits' on this website and blog from Newtown, Connecticut, which have continued on an almost daily basis. My guess is that other New England paranormal investigators and groups have very likely received the same, whether or not they have the ability to monitor traffic on their sites. Another guess, which is probably fairly accurate, is that these were visits by those directly affected by the event. Please don't get me wrong; we were ALL affected by what transpired. Just when you think that it's no longer possible to be shocked by yet another incident of senseless violence, something so horrific and unimaginable happens as to make us stop in our tracks in disbelief. However, no matter how horrific, no matter how unimaginable, words cannot accurately express what those who are directly involved must be going through. They are going through the extremely painful, yet necessary grieving process. They are vulnerable. They are looking for comfort. They are looking for answers. We, as paranormal investigators, can offer neither. Not now, at least. This, tragically, is one of those events that I wrote about in the May 2012 edition of The Booo! Blog: The Ethics of Ghost Hunting. The ethical will stay away but, sadly, the unethical will not. We should leave the healing (if that is at all possible in this case) to grief counselors and others in the medical and psychiatric professions. Most importantly, we should leave the healing to time, and now is not the time for anyone in the paranormal community to be involved with Newtown.

You Can Ignore Your Fruitcake...

Moving on so soon to another subject, it's somewhat difficult to gleefully wish everyone a happy 2013, but I certainly do hope it brings health and happiness. Let's hope for a better New Year! My New Year's resolution? To be more disciplined in keeping up with The Booo! Blog. I get busy and this blog, like the annual fruitcake your neighbor gives you for Christmas, sits forgotten in the back of the refrigerator. That fruitcake, infused with every preservative known to science, can remain totally ignored and will still outlive us all (yes, even Cher), but this 100% natural, preservative-free blog will not. The moral to the story? I have to be a good, diligent paranormal investigator, lose a few hours sleep and type 'til my fingers bleed. Every month.

Welcome to 2013!

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Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.

Chasing UFOs

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Ghosts and 'Greys'

When most people hear that I'm a paranormal investigator, their response is invariably, "Oh, you're a ghost hunter!". Well, that's true, but they could respond "UFO hunter" or "monster hunter" and be equally correct. The paranormal encompasses a heck of a lot more than dead people making return engagements, and a paranormal investigator's expertise should as well. Unfortunately, that has become more the exception than the rule.

In some ways, 'UFOlogy', the study of and search for Unidentified Flying Objects, is a much easier and less stressful branch of paranormal investigation. Unlike 'ghost hunting', UFO sightings rarely involve a close encounter with an otherworldly being, no less one in your home that is determined to stay. However, when they do, especially in the form of alleged alien abduction, things can get very stressful, not only for those involved, but the investigator as well. The reasons are fairly transparent, but one you may not know: while many believe UFOs are extraterrestrial in origin, much fewer find alien abduction believable. The leap from seeing a mysterious light in the sky to short, big-eyed gray dudes suddenly appearing at the foot of your bed to float you off for your proctology exam is huge. Tell someone you've seen a ghost and they'll probably tell you of their similar encounter. Tell someone you've been abducted and don't expect them to be quite as sympathetic.

Is Alien Abduction Real?

I don't know, but some cases I've investigated have been truly weird. While most do have many things in common, they are all unique and most definitely not slavishly torn from the pages of a book or Hollywood script as some with various agendas would have you believe. These encounters are notoriously difficult to investigate; even after those involved in an alleged abduction contact me, they still find it very difficult to talk about. It's almost as if they sense that if they tell, 'they' will punish them in some way. It's a very dark and foreboding fear, and is a common thread in all such cases. For those reasons and the more obvious, I believe these incidents, real or imagined, are woefully underreported.

Chasing UFOs

National Geographic Channel is one of the few classy destinations on basic cable television, much as the magazine has been in print media since 1888. While the channel has acquiesced somewhat to market realities in recent years and offered programming that is decidedly more sensational, it has always remained, more or less, true to its namesake. Until now.

Chasing UFOs (Fridays 10pm) is a highly-hyped, blatant attempt to cash in on the popularity of this branch of paranormal investigation. Is that necessarily a bad thing? No; even the magazine has occasionally featured the phenomenon in past issues. The problem is the show is unnecessarily dreadful. And derivative. Think of it as Ghost Hunters but with UFOs instead of dead people or, more accurately, Destination Truth without the fun or personality and with UFOs instead of cryptids or dead people. Or a Destination Truth and (canceled) UFO Hunters hybrid with UFOs but without the fun, personality, cryptids or dead people. Are you starting to get the picture? In any event, Nat Geo could have and should have done much better, and Chasing UFOs is the perfect example of why all the expensive, 'gee whiz' technology in the world does not a good television program make. We've seen everything Chasing UFOs has to offer before only, in most cases, done much better.

The show utilizes the 'team' approach, with three members: Ben McGee, Physical Scientist (the "skeptic"), Erin Ryder, Tech and Recon (the "skeliever", whatever the hell that means, who pulls double-duty as a Destination Truth cast member) and James Fox, UFOlogist (the "believer"). Of these, only Fox can honestly claim a background in investigation of the UFO phenomenon, having produced two excellent documentaries/movies on the subject, Out of the Blue and I Know What I Saw. Now that we have all the bases covered, running the gamut between skeptic and believer (and have now probably figured out what a 'skeliever' is), let's get to the 'chemistry' between the team members. Thud. While individually they may be interesting people and the life of the party, collectively they seem to be on life support. All the obligatory mini-cliffhangers and teases before commercial breaks can't revive this interplanetary snoozefest. In the words of the law enforcement officer that urges people on when they're gawking at a car wreck: "Move on people, there's nothing to see here".

"He's Cheating Us!"

You may have noticed that I've combined the June and July editions of The Booo Blog!. I'd like to say it was because I'm busy (I am), but the real reason? I got incredibly lazy! Sometimes you just have to chill and enjoy the nice weather...which in New England lasts about two weeks. I promise to do better.

Finally, I'd like to thank Mark Henry, host of Edge of the Unknown on WECK 102.9 in Buffalo, New York for having me on his show. No, the signal doesn't reach us here in Boston, but the show does stream live on the station's website Sunday nights 9:00-12:00. You can click here to listen to the June 24, 2012 podcast. Check it out; always fun, interesting and entertaining!

That's it for now, and remember...watch the skies!

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Chasing UFOs, Friday, July 6, 2012: Feeling that I may have been too hasty to judge Chasing UFOs, basing my opinion on only the first episode, I decided to give the program another chance. Tonight's episode featured the ubiquitous 'Romanek video', which has been bouncing around the Internet for several years. In the highly unlikely chance that you haven't seen it, Stan Romanek is a gentleman in Colorado who claims to have recorded a 'grey' alien popping its head up to look through his bedroom window, an image that could have very easily been hoaxed. The video has been analyzed backwards, forwards, upside down and sideways by experts and amateurs alike. The overwhelming consensus? It is, indeed, a hoax, and not a very clever one at that.

Enter our fearless trio, presenting this almost as a new find, hoping the casual viewer won't realize that it's only the zillionth time it's been featured on similar programs. Break out the infrared 'night vision' cameras! Let's 'go green' and get to the bottom of this 'mystery'! Hopefully the viewer will stick around to see if we caught another a glimpse of 'Mr. Grey'! And, guess what? They do! The teaser before the last commercial break showing him dutifully appearing in the very same window. Yup, we've hooked the viewer now! They won't dare touch that remote! Following the break, we find out what we thought may have been the video capture of the century was in actuality Ben McGee holding an alien mask up to the window. Our fearless trio then have a good laugh...a good laugh at the expense of the viewer. "This is what I was gullible enough to stay tuned to this crappy show for?", I thought. At that moment, I understood how a viewer could have felt cheated and taken advantage of; no program should take its audience for granted. And, at that moment, I also realized my initial assessment of the program was actually much too kind.

Chasing UFOs is pure garbage, and gives serious investigation and study of the phenomenon a bad rap. Perhaps McGee and Ryder can be forgiven, as they only seem to be along for the ride. However, James Fox has no excuse; serious investigators don't get involved with this type of fluff. Oh, and in case you're wondering...our fearless trio also believe the Romanek video to be a hoax. Congratulations! You've avoided wasting one hour of your life that you would never recoup to learn something a few second Google search would have told you years ago.



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The Ethics of Ghost Hunting

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"Who You Gonna Call?"

If you are a regular visitor to my website and blog, you know that I believe there is a huge difference between serious paranormal investigation and 'ghost hunting', and thoughts on the subject can be found on my Ghost Hunting Questions page. As in any field, we have the good and the bad here in New England, which is also true of the rest of the country. I have said numerous times (and now must repeat as I get a flood of not-so-nice email whenever I bring up this subject) there are many good paranormal groups in New England. However, there are just as many that are totally clueless and can actually make your problem much worse. A key point to keep in mind is that a high ranking on Google, Bing, Yahoo and others is not necessarily indicative of the quality of any group, only the skill of the individual tweaking the code and keywords of their site, which is known as SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Once a website gets at or near the top of the list, it tends to get more 'hits' (people visiting the site) by virtue of its position and, therefore, tends to stay there as search engines use that data and more to assist them in ranking the site. I tell you this at my own risk because this website consistently ranks very high on all search engines for the targeted keywords, but my point is that you still must not rely solely on search engine ranking when choosing an individual or group to help you with your paranormal problem. While I make it a policy to not name any individual or group - good or bad - on these pages unless they have chosen to enter the media spotlight, please allow me to break my own rule and give credit where it is due...

I recently had the pleasure of working with The Massachusetts Paranormal Research Group and its founder, Dave Costello. Based in Taunton, its members are dedicated, discreet, completely professional and, best of all, you will not be subjected to the television ghost hunting theatrics so common to many groups in New England. You can do no better than TMPRG if in need of assistance with things that go bump in the night...or day.

New England's (Old and Pudgy) Paranormal Investigator?

A quick mention of something completely unrelated that definitely falls into the 'Who gives a rat's ass?' category: Yes, I did change my photo! The reason? After meeting me in person, I became weary of people asking 1) "How long ago was the photo on your site taken?" and 2) "Have you gained a little weight?" The answers? As I'm usually behind a camera instead of in front of one, I have very few photographs of myself. The previous shot was taken only one year before the one above, but I tend to look different in various photos, usually ranging from hideously ugly to the even worse, "He should be forced to submit to a vasectomy. Quick! Throw a bag over his head!" And no, my weight has remained steady and normal. Now you have my official answers, so quit askin' already! Jeesh! :-)

The Ethics of Ghost Hunting

I would like to narrowly focus this month's edition of The Booo! Blog on ethically choosing a location for an investigation, as much information concerning other paranormal-related ethical issues can be found on the Ghost Hunting Myths and Ghost Hunting Questions pages and elsewhere on my site. This actually is much more applicable to the ubiquitous weekend ghost hunting groups, as experienced paranormal investigators should already be well-aware that some types of locations, while very possibly haunted, should really be left alone. Luckily, they are few and far between and, although it may be perfectly legal, some ethically and morally "just don't feel right".

The first that comes to mind is the site of the former World Trade Center twin towers in lower Manhattan. Realistically, I doubt if any paranormal investigation would be allowed due to security and the current construction of the Freedom Tower on the site (shove that up your asses, al-Qaeda). That being said, time does play a huge part in what 'feels right' when we think of sites in this regard; it's way too soon and still seared into the national psyche. Families are still grieving over their lost loved ones, friends are still terribly missed and, although that never goes away, passing years do buffer it a bit. Sensitivities of those personally connected to the tragedy must remain foremost in any decision. Yes, I have no doubt that many have privately contacted psychic mediums over the past 10+ years in an attempt at closure and to deal with their grief, but that should remain private. However, I am equally as certain that many more have chosen, for various reasons, to simply leave it be; to respect and honor the memory of those lost. Yet, taking all of this in to account, somehow it still wouldn't feel right to conduct a paranormal investigation of the site.

Along the same lines, we should really think twice before conducting investigations on the site of any recent tragedy; murders, auto accidents, fires and the like. Some could make an argument that we are giving a voice to those now unable to speak, and may actually uncover information or even evidence along the way. My take? Leave the 'voice' to psychic mediums should a family member choose to privately take that road and, as for evidence, that's why we have law enforcement.

Paranormal investigation of battlefields such as Gettysburg and Antietam are really a matter of personal perspective and belief, but just about every location connected with the Civil War has been heavily investigated over the years. Countless books have been written and television documentaries have been done. There are even many reports swirling around the Internet of paranormal occurrences during the filming of the 1993 historical epic, Gettysburg (an amazing movie!) Conducted with respect, I see no ethical issues. In fact, I've found the men very eager to let their presence be known, and even speaking provided the investigator has the necessary equipment to facilitate it. Now, not wanting to start another war between North and South, I've found both Blue and Gray equally adept at informing us they're still around.

While my initial target was New England, it appears this website has unexpectedly taken on a life of its own and is now being read in many countries. For that reason, please allow me to mention one more group of locations that should always be left alone: Nazi concentration camps. I have never been to one but, like many, have seen the old film footage of the atrocities that transpired. I cannot believe that officials would ever allow a paranormal investigation to take place at one of these locations (of course, I may be - and probably am - wrong about that) but don't think I'm in the minority when I state my belief that they should forever be off limits to such activity. Some subjects are just too deep. Some events are just too tragic. Some places have just too much pain. Let them rest.

And that's a wrap for this month...

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Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.

Paranormal New England: You Have Much More to Fear from the Living than the Dead!

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Change of Season

One thing I've noticed over the years is that seasonal change seems to bring with it a spike in paranormal activity. Email and telephone inquiries invariably increase during these times, none so dramatically as from Winter to Spring. You would think it would be in October, right? Well, sort of. Inquiries do, indeed, rise during that time, but mainly from the media because of Halloween. Everyone likes a good ghost story! But from the average person sending out a paranormal distress call, this time of year trumps all others.

The reason? Hard to say, but the weather taking a turn for the better is associated with a lot of change in many homes. The old Spring adage, "Out with the old, in with the new" may not always go over well with with your resident ghost; they may have really liked the 'old'. Small 'fix-it-up' projects around the house will sometimes cause them to voice their opinion in any way they can. In fact, construction (no matter how minor) is high on the list of things that can spook a spook.

Hmmm...so what to do? Involve them in the process, and be firm but fair. No, they won't be much help at your beer and pizza painting party, but keep them updated on what you're doing and why, all-the-while politely reminding them that it's now your house. How do you do that? Simple; talk to them just as you would a living person. So often I get calls from people who want answers: " Who's in my house?" "Why are they here?" "What do they want?". My reply: "Well, did you ask?". Perhaps not immediately, but you'll be surprised at the answers you can get; many times they'll let you know via one method or another. The first and best thing you can do in any possible haunting is to attempt to verbally communicate.

You Have Much More to Fear From the Living
 
Ghosts aren't inherently evil. Grandma doesn't become a psycho killer and Uncle Milton doesn't transform into an ax murderer once they say "adios" to this existence. Now, let's flip that coin; John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy don't become choirboys, either. Unless Gram and Uncle Miltie had it in them while living (and admit it; you always suspected he did), they'll have the same personalities at their new address. And, unless Johnny and Teddy get a much-needed ass whoopin' over there (which I'd very much like to believe is the case), they'll be every bit the slime they were when breathing. The good news? While Gram may no longer be able to bake her brownies (curious how happy you always felt immediately after eating Gram's brownies), she can and probably will stop by occasionally to say "Hi". Even better news? There's not much the latter two can physically do to you; their hands are tied tighter than those of their victims. And Uncle Milt? Well, who cares; he always creeped you out anyway.

Ghosts don't scare as much as startle; even Mother Teresa would be somewhat unnerving if she suddenly made her entrance at the foot of your bed at 3:00am. However, you never have to set your security alarm for these spectral intruders. And that, my friends, is why you really do have more to fear from the living than the dead.

Hey! Spring is here! Now turn off your damn computer and head outside to enjoy the fresh air :-)

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Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.

Battleship Cove, Fall River, Massachusetts

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Battleship Cove: Drop Everything and Go!
 
Okay, this is one amazing place! Said to be "The World's Largest Naval Ship Museum", Battleship Cove is located at 5 Water Street in Fall River, MA, an easy drive from the Boston area. I had the pleasure of spending a recent afternoon climbing aboard massive giants, with hundreds of tons of iron and steel beneath my feet; to say that I was impressed would be a severe understatement. Living in New England for so long, I definitely had a "Duh!" moment as in, "Why did I take so long to visit?".
 
It was a sunny, but chilly, Friday, which is probably why I had the place almost entirely to myself. During warmer months, I can see how Battleship Cove is a major destination; fresh air, cool water, important naval history and beautiful scenery compete for your attention. However, keep in mind that the "off " season is just as fun, and even more so if you want to avoid the crowds. Imagine having free reign on USS Massachusetts, USS Fall River, USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. and submarine USS Lionfish, the sister boat of USS Escolar. How cool is that?!
 
I don't know if any vessel at Battleship Cove is genuinely haunted, although a local ghost hunting group does conduct annual Haunted Battleship tours on USS Massachusetts during the Halloween season. I can tell you that structures containing large quantities of iron and locations near bodies of water seem to attract and help entities manifest, hence the abundance of stories of haunted ships and lighthouses. Just old legends? Maybe, but when ghostly seafarers and phantom crews survive and flourish for decades or even centuries, there's usually an ember of truth to those scary tales told 'round the campfire. My apologies to Mark Twain, but truth is spookier than fiction. Throw in the wartime battle histories, mix the emotions, personalities and presence of the thousands who proudly served and walked those decks, and paranormal investigators have all the necessary ingredients for a haunting to come sailing their way.
 
A Bargain at Twice the Price
 
Fifteen bucks. Yeah, that's it. Fifteen bucks to spend hours exploring giant hunks of history costing millions and, just when you think Battleship Cove has shown all it has to offer, you're in for a surprise; anti-submarine, attack and huey helicopters, PT boats, a Soviet-built missile corvette, T-28 trainer plane and more urge you to explore even further. It's home to the Veterans' Voices Oral History Project and Admiral Arleigh Burke National Destroyermen's Museum, and even has a vintage 1920 carousel for the kids when they (and their parents!) need to take a break. Open 7 days a week and closed only on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day, Battleship Cove offers admission discounts for children and seniors, as well as for groups and active military with ID. Check their website for hours and further details.
 
So, What Are You Waiting For?
 
I plan many more visits to Battleship Cove. The main goal of my initial visit was to climb inside USS Lionfish, as she's one of the few remaining WWII Balao-class subs and escaped the fate of sinking, scrapping or target practice. Her nearly identical production history to Escolar was my primary interest. The one realization I left with was that submarines of that era were not boats that willingly ferried a crew, but machines that merely tolerated humans only because they needed them to survive. Unfortunately, as was the case with USS Escolar and many others, that survival still wasn't possible.
 
Plan on making a day of it at Battleship Cove. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and I honestly got the impression that working there is more than only a job; to them it's not just iron and steel. One very convenient feature are the walking planks between vessels; visitors can explore effortlessly between them. The main decks of the battleship and destroyer, both PT boats, and all pierside aircraft exhibits and rest rooms are handicap-accessible. Due to their design and construction, interiors of the ships and boats are not. Last, but not least...parking is free!

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Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.

Synchronicity: Whispers Through the Screams

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Wow! Four Months of Blogs Already!
 
Welcome to the February 2012 edition of The Booo! Blog. The response to the January edition has been overwhelming, and I thank everyone for their comments and email. Many have asked about the location and fate of USS Escolar, but neither is known for certain. Her general location is believed to be known or, at the very least, it's an educated guess. As for the fate of the boat (submarines are usually referred to as boats, not ships) and her crew, the best explanation is that she probably hit a stationary or floating mine. While many submarines were lost in WWII, many with all hands, only Escolar and a few others remain a mystery.
 
I am currently in the process of digging deeper into the tale of Escolar but, as have others in the past, will probably hit a brick wall; a point where no further information is available. As technology advances and individuals in the private sector have searched, more wrecks have been located. And Escolar can be located; it just takes the will and the resources. Several have the former, but few the latter. With today's technology, I find it unconscionable that the government has not made more of an effort to locate Escolar and others. As time moves on and the modern world goes about its business above, we still have men and machines from a bygone era, all but forgotten and silently waiting on the ocean floor below. These crews gave their lives, and deserve better than "maybe", "possibly" and "could have..."
 
Synchronicity: Whispers Through the Screams
 
I love this definition I found floating on Google. It eschews all the hoity-toity Jungian psychology and gets to the point, although the term itself was coined by Carl Jung in the 1920s:
 
syn·chro·nic·i·ty: the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.
 
You may be thinking, "What does synchronicity have to do with the paranormal?" The answer: probably much more than is believed. Skeptics believe synchronicity is nothing more than coincidence. Most psychologists disagree with Jung and believe it to be confirmation bias, a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions and avoids information and interpretations that contradict prior beliefs*. In that sense, it is somewhat akin to apophenia, a term you will hear thrown around quite a bit in the paranormal community. The average person on the street doesn't know what it is, but realizes there's much more to it than either can sufficiently explain. Most of us have had related events happen inexplicably, some of us repeatedly. The latter is what interests me; is someone trying to tell us something? To guide or gently push us in one direction as opposed to the other?
 
Jung's explanation would sound more natural coming from a New Age guru or theoretical physicist than a psychologist, involving terms such as "indestructible energy" and "space/time continuum", among others. The term "paranormal" is never used, but he really was on the fringe with this, and probably very ahead of his time. Many paranormal investigators are beginning to believe the answer to much of legitimate paranormal activity will be found in theoretical/quantum physics. I mentioned this on my site, but it bears repeating: there is nothing abnormal about the paranormal, we just don't yet understand it.
 
My interest in synchronicity started in earnest with my interest in USS Escolar. I found that whenever I actively worked on research, synchronous events would occur. As would anyone else, I first shrugged them off and did chalk it up to coincidence. However, they soon became too pronounced to ignore. The last (but not the most obvious) was very recently, while working on the January 2012 edition of The Booo! Blog. I hadn't thought of Escolar in any great detail in quite a while. The day after I wrote the blog and before it was published, I received an email from the brother of one of crew members, a very nice and knowledgeable gentleman I hadn't heard from in several years. Alone, I would have brushed it off to coincidence, although I wish I'd have such luck with odds when playing Mega Millions or Powerball! In their cumulative entirety? Is it coincidence or confirmation bias? No. That's why I've pursued the trail of Escolar, and will continue to do so until I slam headfirst into that brick wall.
 
So, what's going on? Most of the time, any attempt to analyze the phenomenon will only result in frustration and headaches, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. For most of us, day-to-day life is so crazy and we're preoccupied with whatever daily crisis is happening at that moment. Crying kids, shouting bosses, thumping bass from the car next to you at the traffic light, calls from the cable company with a friendly reminder that last month's payment was never received (oblivious to the reality that food is more important than the Food Network) and blaring TV commercials asking us to ponder what we want from our toilet paper all compete for our attention. Stop! Someone is trying to tell you something. Just as a local radio station can overpower a distant one, such is the case with faint messages and guidance from the other side. Can you still hear that distant station? Yes. You just have to listen for whispers through the screams.

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*Definition provided by Wikipedia


Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.

USS Escolar (SS-294)

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MMXII
 
I'll get to USS Escolar in a moment, but first...Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and that 2012 brings you health and happiness. I've always heard the older you get, the faster the years seem to fly by; that certainly seems to be true.
 
While this blog really is a mix of all things paranormal, the emphasis (as with my website) is to supply information to help you with your paranormal problems and issues. The Internet is vast and seemingly infinite, with endless possibilities. Yet, I believe most New England paranormal investigators and weekend ghost hunting groups have wasted opportunities and failed to supply anything but the same tired (yawn) information on their sites, information that has been repeated and recirculated throughout the Internet for years. Rarely will you find differing opinion, original thought or unique ways of approaching subjects in the paranormal realm. For that reason, and because of the swelling tide of nonsense out there, I decided to come forward. With all that being said, I've decided to deviate a bit off my usual path with this edition of The Booo! Blog and tell you a very personal ghost story, one that has contributed to my opinion of what this whole 'ghost thing' is all about: the story of the Escolar...
 
USS Escolar (SS-294)
 
USS Escolar (SS-294) was a Balao-class submarine built by the Cramp Shipbuilding Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and launched on April 18, 1943. She was transferred to the Boston Navy Yard after launch, then on to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (named for Portsmouth, New Hampshire, but the facility is actually across the Piscataqua River from Portsmouth in Kittery, Maine) prior to her commissioning on June 2, 1944, Commander W.J. Millican in command. While I could find no official record, I have heard an unconfirmed report that Escolar did, indeed, make a stop at the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in New London, Connecticut while en route to Boston from Philadelphia.
 
Escolar had final combat training at Pearl Harbor, and was put out on her first war patrol on September 18, 1944. After topping off fuel at Midway Island, she joined USS Croaker and USS Perch for a coordinated patrol of the Yellow Sea.
 
On September 30th, when Escolar was estimated to be about north of the Bonin Islands, a listening post received a partial message from her:
 
THIS FROM ESCOLAR X ATTACKED WITH DECK GUN BOAT SIMILAR TO EX-ITALIAN PETER GEORGE FIVE OTYI
 
Escolar was then forced to break off the transmission and the engagement with the gunboat.No further transmissions were received by bases from Escolar, but Croaker and Perch recorded intra-ship communications with her until October 17th, when Perch received a routine message from Escolar giving her position and course. She was never heard from again. Had Escolar ended her patrol on the scheduled date, she would have arrived at Midway on or around November 13, 1944. All attempts to contact Escolar failed, and she was reported on November 27, 1944 as presumed lost.
 
Information supplied by the Japanese on anti-submarine attacks gives no clue as to the cause of her loss, but the Yellow Sea area is thought to have been mined. Her course as transmitted to Perch does not cross any known Japanese mine fields, but positions of mines laid before April 1945 are not precisely known. However, the most likely explanation for her end remains that she detonated a mine. (Written with assistance of Wikipedia.com)
 
As Paul Harvey Used to Say, "And Now, the Rest of the Story..."
 
The above account is taken from the official report issued by the United States Navy, and may very well be the telling of events as they actually occurred. However, rumors of a cover-up have circulated for decades among family members of those lost on the Escolar, as well as crew members of Croaker and Perch, some of which can be found on the Internet. Cramp Shipbuilding Company had little experience in building submarines, and closed its doors in 1947. Construction done at the yard was said to be shoddy at best, and some believed the Escolar unseaworthy, but she was pushed through the process because of need on the part of the Navy. There have also been reports that error or friendly fire on the part of Croaker or Perch caused the sinking of Escolar, but these are unconfirmed and will forever remain rumors. What was the actual fate of Escolar and her entire crew? It will likely never be known.
 
Joseph James Bender
 
Among the 82 crew members of Escolar was "Bender, J.J. PHM1", my uncle. His duties per designation (Pharmacist's Mate 1st Class Petty Officer) would have been to dispense medications, administer first aid and keep medical records, among others. While I never knew him (the disappearance of Escolar happened 14 years before I was born), my understanding is that he was relatively short in stature, small build with a sarcastic sense of humor. He was 22 and married at the time. The only photograph of him I had ever seen was his official Navy portrait that my mom kept displayed in the house when I was a kid.
 
Time on my hands from being temporarily unemployed, somewhat curious and knowing very little about the story, I decided to do some research in the 1980s at the local library. As there have been many submarines lost and Escolar had such a brief service history, little information was available back in the days before the public had access to the Internet. Most books, even those dedicated to the subject, had practically no mention of the sub; basically just an entry in lists of lost vessels. As my quest was halfhearted at best, I quickly moved on to other things, and what little I did learn was quickly forgotten. End of story, or at least that's what I thought...
 
Salem County, New Jersey: February 2000
 
It was a bitterly cold and crystal clear Tuesday afternoon in Southern New Jersey, the kind of cold that would make your tongue stick to a pole like in A Christmas Story. I was visiting my family home located very near Parvin State Park in rural Salem County, and decided to walk my dog. Walking down the street and on to a short wooded path, I entered the Thundergust Picnic Grove portion of the park, which I had visited probably hundreds of times over many years growing up at the house. The path ends at the red gravel parking lot of the picnic area, across from a large, open, grassy area with two softball fields. The nearest field has a small set of aluminum bleachers for watching the games. I looked around. As expected, no cars were parked in the lot and not a soul was there, with the quiet stillness that only frigid cold can bring. It was midweek and, familiar with the location, I would have been very surprised if someone had been there. It seems to get relatively little visitation even in the best of weather.
 
Being clumsy and always tripping or falling over something, I tend to look down when I walk. Upon again looking up and across the parking lot, I noticed someone sitting on the cold, metal bleachers that were approximately 30-35 yards away, staring out in the opposite direction over the field. Now, I know what you're probably thinking, and the Field of Dreams analogy has not been lost on me, although it didn't occur to me at the time. It was a man in dark blue Dickies-type work clothes much like a mechanic would wear, but wearing absolutely no coat or jacket of any kind. Almost as soon as I looked up, I saw him, still sitting, turn towards me and smile broadly. I remember thinking, "What idiot would be sitting there with no coat in this weather?" as he continued to stare intensely at me with a wide grin on his face. Not wanting to engage him, I turned in the opposite direction and started to walk my dog through the picnic area and around the pond in the grove, which was frozen solid from days of sub-zero temperatures. The complete circle takes about 20 minutes, finally ending where it started, in the Thundergust parking lot. As I again glanced towards the ball field, I saw the man still sitting, motionless, in the bleachers. He again turned and smiled, but this time stood up and started walking towards me at a 45 degree angle as I walked through the lot to get to the short trail to exit the area, the same way I had entered. For some reason I did not feel threatened, even though I knew he was walking to intersect my path. My dog was wagging his tail and pulling on the leash towards him as he approached, but I kept my course, pulled him back and headed towards the exit. During this time, I got a more detailed look at him. He was about 5'8", early 20s, average build with brown hair that struck me as cut in a style that would have been popular in the 1930s or 40s. Something about him made me feel that he just didn't belong there. I remember my overwhelming thought at the time was, "He looks like a young Matthew Broderick", as ridiculous as that sounds. He adjusted his course to my continuing pace, to the point to where he was walking only a few feet in back of me by the time I reached the exit trail. Pulling my dog along, I quickly turned to see him walking at arm's length behind, still silent, still grinning. I walked another step, again turned, but he was nowhere to be seen. Within a time frame of no more than two or three seconds, he had completely vanished! I visually scanned my immediate area, but was alone. The trail is only about 25 feet in length and sparsely wooded; there was absolutely no way for someone to hide or leave that quickly other than literally dissolving into thin air. It was at that time that I realized I had just witnessed something truly special...I had come face-to-face with a ghost.
 
While a bit stunned, I took it in stride. In the following days, I wondered who 'he' was and why neither of us spoke. To this day, I don't understand why I didn't say something; maybe I was a bit more wary of him than I thought and more interested in getting away from there than having a conversation. In any event, the thing that kept going through my mind was, "Why there?" Knowing the park's history, nothing in recent memory made sense. His manner of dress suggested his lifetime could be measured in decades from the present day, not centuries. I knew of no tragedy or deaths at the location. Quite the opposite; it was all rather uneventful and benign. While not forgetting the incident, I filed it away and moved on to everyday matters and responsibilities. It soon became only a curious memory.
 
Portsmouth, New Hampshire: July 2004
 
It was a slow day at the office, and almost time to leave. Sitting at my desk, I was doing some web surfing and stumbled upon a story about USS Thresher (SSN-593), that went down with all hands off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts in April 1963. That again got me thinking about Escolar, which hadn't entered my mind in several years. A click of a mouse and, much to my surprise and in stark contrast to what my library search uncovered two decades before, there was a wealth of information about Escolar, including several sites with photographs. You've got to love the Internet! Zooming in on one of the group shots, I got one of the biggest shocks of my life. Standing there was Joseph James Bender, my uncle and the man I had encountered in the park four years before. Suddenly, everything came full circle, although still unexplained. There was no doubt of his identity; this more casual photo looking much different than his posed and likely airbrushed official Navy portrait that I had seen as a kid.
 
I contacted my aunt, his only living sibling. Extremely curious, but not wanting to upset her, I asked for any information she had about him without telling her the events leading to my renewed interest. She was gracious enough to send everything she had, including photographs and a letter he wrote just before leaving on the journey that would end his life and those of 81 other men only a few months later. Mimeographed and heavily redacted as was procedure at the time for secrecy and matters of national security, the letter added color-a faint echo of a voice-to those smiling black and white faces about to sail away, completely unaware of what awaited them.
 
Some Final Thoughts...
 
No, I still don't know why he decided to visit on that icy-cold February day, and have come to terms with the fact that I'll probably never have the answer. I regret that I didn't say something-anything-to him, and am equally clueless as to why. Missed opportunities are common in the paranormal; the very nature and unexpected spontaneity almost guarantee it. We can beat ourselves up and ruminate over why we did or didn't do something, or we can simply be thankful for an encounter that few get an opportunity to experience. I'm through with the former, and am now comfortable with the latter.
 
This experience and others during the course of my investigations have shaped my opinion of what is really going on in some 'hauntings'. Yes, there are definitely haunted locations, but sometimes it's not the location that's haunted, it's the person(s) at the location. I don't think location had any relevance in my encounter, other than it being a moment when I was totally alone. In that sense, it was merely an opportunity.
 
As for the true fate of Escolar and her crew, we can only speculate. The only certainty is that her 82 men will forever remain On Eternal Patrol.

 
Joseph James Bender, PhM1 United States Navy  
Joseph James Bender, PhM1 - USS EscolarJoseph James Bender, PhM1 - USS Escolar

            
             


















 
  

I would like to thank Mrs. Anne Harris and Mr. Ronald Norford. Without them, this blog would not have been possible.

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How To Photograph Ghosts

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Two Blogs This Month?
 
Yes, I said this was going to be a monthly blog, but since it's my blog, I reserve the right to occasionally break the rules. So...get over it :-) Just like bad Hollywood marriages and even worse Hollywood movies, some things deserve a sequel, so welcome to the December 2011 edition of The Booo! Blog, Part Two!
 
Smile, and Say "Cheese"!
 
Without a doubt, the most frequent question I receive is, "How can I photograph ghosts?", naturally followed by questions about camera type, best time of day, use of flash or external light source and questions concerning the ultraviolet and infrared spectra. As there is so much more to this than one might think, please allow me to take the easier (and lazy!) route and attack them from the 'ghosts really do exist' angle and assumption. Let's tackle them in no particular order...
 
What's the Best Type of Camera to Photograph Ghosts?
 
The best camera is always the one you have with you! While theories abound as to what ghosts are and the best methods to capture their image, the truth is that it's a complete mystery.
 
Digital Cameras
 
Almost everyone has gone digital, and for very good reason: no film or processing costs, ease of sharing/emailing, instant gratification as results can be seen immediately, hundreds or thousands of shots can be taken and stored on one small memory card, and ease of editing on any computer (or even in the camera itself). All are, without a doubt, a huge advantage in convenience over analog (film) photography, but the last is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to your quest for proof of the paranormal. Sure, you'll be able to proudly send your shots with ease to all the paranormal websites, but the fact is that digital data is easily manipulated. Whether it's that elusive ghost in your town's oldest cemetery, the UFO that's buzzing over your neighbor's house, or the lake monster that you're convinced has taken up residence in your city's municipal reservoir (and doing its business in your drinking water...eeeeew!) your photographic 'proof' will forever be suspect if captured digitally. While a single photograph, regardless of medium, will never and should never be accepted as definitive proof of the paranormal, your digital shot will always send skeptics, debunkers and naysayers in to a fit of denial. Why? Because they'll ask one question consisting of three simple words: "Where's the negative?"
 
"Film? They Still Make That Stuff?"
 
Yes, film is still being manufactured, albeit more of a niche professional product than a mainstream consumer item. And, guess what? With all types of negative (a.k.a. "print") film you'll get one thing that your digital camera and printer will never spit out or cough up: a film negative! Positive (a.k.a. "slide") film will produce a film slide, which is just as good as a negative, only it's a 'positive' rendition of the scene as opposed to a negative. Ughhh...is your head spinning yet? Well, to make it easy, just remember that any type of film that requires processing will produce either a negative or a positive color slide, just like what Grandpa used to send out and pick up at the drug store or camera shop back in the day. Why does an image caught on film make for a more convincing pro-paranormal argument? Because the physical film negative or slide is much more difficult to manipulate and alter, and can easily be detected by independent experts and the film's manufacturer. Of course, all bets are off if the actual scene itself was fabricated; film would probably have no advantages over digital capture in such a scenario. The same would also be true if the film negative or slide was digitally scanned, then altered in Photoshop or another program. However, when push comes to shove and the name calling and accusations start to fly, the film photographer will always have the advantage in that he/she will have the original negative or slide to fall back on. The digital photographer? Well, good luck with that.
 
There are a few very good film emulsions still in production for paranormal use. No, that's not their intended and stated purpose according to their manufacturers, but "good" in the sense that they tend to record a wider light spectrum than can be seen by the human eye. As we don't know at what wavelength of light ghosts reside, it's always a good idea to cast as wide a net as possible. Kodak Professional T-Max 100 and 400 black and white negative films pierce the UV-A spectrum down to about 360nm or so. Rollei Aviphot (Superpan) 200 and 400 black and white negative films made by Agfa in Germany, reach up to 820nm in the near-infrared range. Ilford SFX200, also a black and white negative film, has "extended red" sensitivity, and goes just beyond normal human vision to 740nm. All of these films also record the visible spectrum, which is approximately 400-700nm for most humans, and can be used with various filters to selectively block or allow individual spectra. And while we're on the subject of film, don't think your garden variety drug store film can't be used. Those, of course, record visible light, which may be all that's necessary to snap that once-in-a-lifetime (yours, not hers) shot of Aunt Wanda sitting in her favorite recliner with a scotch and soda in one hand and a filterless Camel dangling from the other...charming, and just how you always remembered her. Remember to use a relatively 'fast' film; ISO 400 or 800 is what I recommend, unless you can use a support such as a tripod. Avoid using the camera's flash (I'll talk more about that in a minute). One thing to keep in mind: long before everyone on the Internet (including yours truly) was talking about fancy schmancy, expensive "ghost" cameras capable of amazing feats, photographers were recording supposedly paranormal images with their Kodak Brownie box cameras and $20.00 Kodak Instamatics. Yep, the best camera really is the one you happen to have with you!
 
Does the Brand of Digital Camera Make a Difference?
 
All digital camera manufacturers try, as closely as possible, to have their products track the spectral sensitivity of the human visual system, and all do an admirable job. If that were not the case, your photos would have weird coloration and would not look like the scene as you, with your human eyes and brain, remember it. The problem is that most digital sensors can 'see' a much wider spectra than humans, digging deep in to infrared and somewhat piercing UV. The camera manufacturers solution? Filtration, and lots of it. The trick to avoiding photos with red, pink and blue hues is to filter out most IR and UV before the light rays hit the sensor. While most manufacturers now have it mastered, some of their older models did a good, but not great, job of it. For example, some models that used a previous generation Sony sensor particularly adept at recording IR information and using less-aggressive filtration could be used for infrared photography, even without modification. The Pentax K100D Super is such a camera. Others, such as the Fujifilm FinePix E550, using the offbeat (but excellent) proprietary sensors and filtration that Fuji is known for, did only a fair job of filtering UV and IR.
 
Why does this matter? Because if you're in the market for a new digital camera to use exclusively for ghost hunting, you may be better off with a used, older model. If you're in the 'ghosts are visible within the normal range of human vision' camp, any camera, new or used, should serve you well. On the other hand, if you believe that ghosts have only been photographed because of some of the quirks and filter/sensor combinations that allow the UV/IR spectra to shine on through, do an Internet search and find some older models that others have had success with. Some sites devoted to UV and IR photography have excellent, albeit dated, recommendations.
 
Just a (sort of) quick note concerning Canon DSLR cameras, both new and older models, and why they may not be the best choice to catch a shot of Honest Abe if, by chance, Barack and Michelle invite you to spend a night in the Lincoln Bedroom:
 
Decades before electronics companies such as Sony and Panasonic jumped in to the digital camera arena, Canon was a traditional camera and lens manufacturer. Canon, along with Nikon, have long produced the lion's share of gear professional photographers rely on. However, unlike Nikon, Canon saw the future of photography and, in the 1960s, began to develop in-house electronics capability and expertise that helped it immensely in subsequent decades; first with electronically controlled film cameras and all the way to the digital marvels we have today. With its professional backbone and capabilities, almost every part on a Canon camera, from proprietary digital sensors and filtration to the buttons that control the beasts, are made by Canon. In contrast, the sensors used by Nikon in their cameras are made by Sony. Yes, some other manufacturers do have that in-house capability, such as Sony and Panasonic, but not the commitment to the professional market or traditional background. For those reasons, Canon products are consistently among the best in image quality, with their proprietary components delivering the exacting results professional photographers expect. And that, my friends, is where the problem may lie in their paranormal use.
 
"Exacting results" and images as true as possible with digital sensors requires aggressive filtration, and Canon has it down to a science. It's the reason images from their unmodified DSLRs have very little IR or UV contamination and, therefore, the reason you may not notice Abe stopping by to say "Hi" if you're sleeping in his bed. To be sure, the lines between camera manufacturers are blurring in this regard, and are not nearly as prominent as they were only a few years ago. All are quickly approaching a level playing field, but it still may be a factor you want to consider. As with any major purchase, do your research.
 
"Full Spectrum" Cameras
 
I wrote about these in some detail on my website, so I won't go in to too much here. There are brand differences, and I can only recommend those made or modified by Moditronic and Spectercam. Suffice it to say, these are the 'must have' item in the paranormal field at the moment, and I've caught some very cool images with them. The UV-A portion of a full spectrum camera's range is the most difficult to capture, and is easily blocked by lens coatings, multiple lens elements, and even air itself. The visible light and infrared spectra can completely overpower the ultraviolet so, for all these reasons, special care, balance and expertise are required in creating a competent and capable full spectrum camera. However, there's still no scientific proof of their superiority in capturing the paranormal. My thoughts? If you've got 'em, use 'em. Planning on purchasing one? Go with one of the two brands I've mentioned. Can't afford one? Don't let that stop you from searching for spooks! Use whatever you have; you may be very surprised at what you're able to capture. When it comes to equipment to photograph ghosts, often the old adage "less is more" rings very true. Why? Read on...

Ghosts on the Cheap!

The visible and near infrared spectra are easily captured by full spectrum cameras. However, as stated above, near ultraviolet is much more difficult. In short, the more you put between the UV-A wavelength and the object attempting to record it, the less UV-A gets through. It is important to keep in mind that what is transparent in visible light and to human vision, such as clear glass, is much less so in the ultraviolet wavelengths. The more glass in the form of camera lens elements you pile on between the UV-A light waves and the camera's digital sensor or film plane, the more those waves are blocked. Add to that the anti-reflective multi-coatings used on virtually all modern camera lenses, and that advertised zoom lens "full spectrum" ghost hunting camera you bought on Ebay is simply a "visible light/near infrared" camera. Yes, the camera's digital sensor may be capable of recording the UV-A spectrum, but the multi-element, multi-coated lens attached to the camera is completely blocking it from reaching that sensor. Those modifying and selling these cameras don't tell the buyer that very important fact or, worse, don't even know it.

And, yes, that's why less really is more when trying to catch a glimpse of a ghost on digital or film. A cheap, simple camera with an uncoated lens with the fewest elements is the way to go. If you want to buy a fixed lens (a lens that cannot be removed) full spectrum digital camera, look for one that has the most basic lens available. When buying an SLR film camera, digital SLR or digital mirrorless camera with removable lenses, always use an uncoated, basic lens for ghost photography, and that's when Ebay does come in handy! Starting in the mid-1940s, most lens manufacturers started to use a single-coating on their lenses to reduce glare and reflection, resulting in increased contrast and image quality. Later, in the 1950s and 60s as their technology improved, they advanced to multi-coatings for an even more dramatic improvement. Unfortunately, by design, as lenses became more complicated and lens coatings more effective, less of the UV-A spectrum could penetrate. The result, if we are to believe that ghosts are visible in that spectrum, was less spectral photobombing. Skeptics and debunkers love to use the "If ghosts a real, why aren't we seeing more ghost photos if nearly everyone has a cellphone camera with them?" argument. Well, the reason above, and manufacturers purposely filtering out UV-A, could very possibly be the answer. Now, let's get back to that online auction...

You will find the largest selection of old, uncoated lenses and cameras with simple, uncoated lenses on Ebay. For lenses to use on your digital SLR, search for some 1930s and 40s models, even into the early 1950s. Read the seller's description of the item carefully. If you are still unsure, Google the name of the camera or lens and do some online research. The optics of an uncoated lens should be completely without a color tint, just clear glass. Although it may be difficult to tell in the seller's photos, in your hand, single-coated lenses will have a slight monochromatic tint, usually yellow or blue when held up to the light. Multi-coated optics will usually exhibit multiple colors when doing the same. You will not find an old lens with the same mount as your digital SLR, but conversion adapters for most mounts can also be found on the cheap on Ebay. Keep in mind that you will not have all the exposure modes your camera offers available when mounting an old lens with an adapter, and you will have to manually focus, but it is doable and the possible results certainly worth it. And that leads us to... 

Ghosts on the Cheap, Part Two!

Here's an example of a film-based still ghost camera setup that will equal or better any modified digital "full spectrum" ghost camera you'll find on Ebay, and you can have it for under 20 bucks. Yup, that's right...$20.00.

Start with a very basic 35mm, fixed-focus point-and-shoot camera that has an electronic flash, such as the Vivitar PS33. Remember, as I mentioned above, the golden rule to capturing images in the UV-A spectrum is putting the least amount of uncoated glass between the ghost and the film, and the PS33 and several similar cameras meet that requirement. The PS33 has only two lens elements, and both are uncoated. That's about as simple as you are going to find with the exception of a pinhole camera (a camera which has no lens). However, pinhole cameras are impractical for ghost photography due to their fuzzy image quality and the long exposure times needed. I bought my Vivitar PS33 camera new on Ebay for the astronomical sum of $1.49. Now we add the magic...

Buy a roll or two of 36-exposure Rollei/Agfa Aviphot Infrared 400 or Kodak T-Max 400 film. These are black and white negative films with sensitivity in the UV-A, Visible (white light) and Near IR spectra. Their 400 ISO speed is also a perfect match for basic electronic flash cameras such as the Vivitar PS33. Neither film requires special handling. While it will equal the Near IR and visible light capability of most expensive modified digital "full spectrum" cameras, this inexpensive camera/film combination will literally blow them away in its ability to capture UV-A. While you may not get the instant gratification of immediately seeing the image on the LCD screen of your digital wonder, keep in mind that you will likely have a better chance of capturing a ghostly image with this cheap camera/film set-up than with your high-priced, dedicated digital ghost camera. You will become more judicious, learn to rely on your intuition and take images that count, not just shoot with the shotgun approach and hope for the best, as most ghost hunters do with digital. Remember, paranormal investigators back in the day were capturing ghostly images, and arguably higher-quality ghostly images, long before digital came along.

Ahhh...but what about developing the film? Isn't it expensive? It's difficult, right? No and no! You can easily process black and white negative film in your bathroom. In fact, you can even develop it in coffee and Vitamin C (how cool is that?!). Google the subject; there's a wealth of information online. Buy a super-cheap 35mm negative scanner (Ebay or Amazon) and download the images to your computer. If you still don't want to attempt processing the film yourself, you can send it to a lab, such as my friends at The Darkroom in San Clemente, California. They're fast, cheap, do awesome work, and will send you postage-paid envelopes to mail your film. And yes, you can request high-resolution scans of your film to CD instead of prints to satisfy your digital cravings. The best part? When the naysayers and debunkers who masquerade as healthy skeptics try to convince you that you didn't see what you know you saw dosmugly ask, "Where's the negative?", you can confidently reply, "Here it is, Mr. Randi" (or Mr. Nickell, or Mr. Shermer...or any of the countless debunkers masquerading as healthy skeptics in the media). The even better than best part? You've done it all on the cheap!

Ghosts on the Cheap, Part Three!

If you still insist on the instant gratification rush of digital capture, it may cost you just a bit more than taking the film route, but not by much. Let's go back to Ebay...

If you're not particularly handy with a screwdriver, search "Full Spectrum Digital Cameras" on the site. You'll find a lot of offerings but, again, remember the golden rule about what you put between the capture device of the camera; in the case of digital, the imaging sensor instead of film as in the example above. The same rule applies regardless of if the camera is analog (film) or digital. You may be tempted to spring for the more expensive modified cameras with well-known names, such as Canon, Sony, etc., and these are fine cameras to capture the visible (white light) and Near IR spectra. However, because of their more complex lenses (because the lens has more elements) and multi-coating, you'll be missing out on most, if not all, of the UV-A spectrum. Again, technically the modification will allow the camera's digital sensor to record UV-A, but the lens and coatings in these more expensive and sophisticated models will block the UV-A information before it ever reaches that sensor. The solution? Our favorite word: CHEAP!

Look for low-end models such as DXG and others. Many paranormal groups sell the modified, full spectrum versions of these cameras on Ebay to raise money for their investigations. They have less-complex lenses (fewer lens elements), are usually uncoated, and therefore allow more of the UV-A spectrum to pass through to the camera's digital sensor. This really is an example of "less is more"; you'll have a device more capable of capturing the advertised "full spectrum", and it will be a win/win scenario...for you and your wallet. But wait, you say you want cheaper still? Keep reading...

If you are handy with a screwdriver (and you'll probably need a set of 'jeweler' screwdrivers available at Home Depot, Lowe's, or any hardware store for about five bucks), you can modify a digital camera yourself. Go to a place like Wal-Mart or K-Mart and get one of those cheap digital still or video cameras, you know, the ones for sale on the rack in blister packs, usually for under $20,00. I strongly urge you not to attempt to modify an expensive camera that you may already own; the cheap camera will better suit your purpose, will be more capable of full spectrum photography once modified (the lens again), and won't break the bank if you screw-up the modification. The Internet abounds with 'how to' instructions and, even if you can't find the exact model they are modifying online, remember that most of these cheap digital cameras are very much alike, many coming from the same factories, so you'll be okay. Save the bucks and good luck!

Flash and External Light Sources
 
There's no inherent problem in using the flash on your camera or an external light source on an investigation; the problem is with the thought process of many paranormal investigators and amateur ghost hunters in their use. They may be the most misused and overused tool in the paranormal equipment arsenal. Instead of thinking outside the box and attempting to come up with something truly unique and innovative, most equipment manufacturers continue to crank out 'me too' camera/video lights almost as frequently as they produce yet another model of 'me too' EMF meter. Everybody and their brother is offering some type of "full spectrum", ultraviolet or infrared lighting on eBay or for sale through their group's site for use with still or video cameras. That's all fine and dandy if you want to photograph a room in those spectra, and can be helpful if, for example, you want to keep a camera trained on a trigger object to see if it moves, without the glaring distraction of bright, visible lights. Unfortunately, that's not how most are used.
 
There are really only two ways that we're aware of how images appear on film or a digital sensor: via reflective light or via luminescence. Reflective light is how we are able to see most of our world; a light source that produces rays in our visible range (approx. 400-700nm) that reflect or 'bounce' off an object and are perceived and processed by our visual system. Film and digital sensors, while more crude in their sophistication, work in a fairly similar fashion to our visual system in that light from an object is reflected on to them to form an image, just as it is on the retina in the backs of our eyes. Luminescence is the emission of light from an object itself, a form of cold radiation, and does not involve or need a reflective light source. A good example would be a dayglo wall poster from 1960s, the type excited by black lights (Yeah, even with everything you were smoking back then, you remember those!). Cold luminescence is very different from thermal energy, which standard photographic films, digital sensors and even our visual system cannot see. Yes, all can see fire or the red glow of a hot burner element on a stove, but that's not thermal energy itself, it's the visual result of thermal energy. Thermal imaging cameras are sometimes used in paranormal investigation, but despite being touted and featured on some ghost hunting television programs, they're of dubious value. I have one, but after several months, realized the technology offers little with regard to paranormal investigation. It is among the many pieces of equipment that I've put 'out to pasture' and have retired from investigations.
 
While the debate rages as to what ghosts actually are, most agree they do not seem to consist of solid matter. A more likely and probable scenario is that we are dealing with something akin to a projected image or something with luminescent properties. They could be 'visible' in any or all spectra; ultraviolet, visible and/or infrared. Why, then, would we want to blast them with high-intensity light in those spectra in an attempt to capture their image on an analog or digital medium? Is the projected image on a screen in a movie theater easier to see with the lights on? No, of course not; image quality and contrast suffer greatly. Would you want to snap a photo of a candle flame bathed in the intense brightness of a searchlight? No, because the flame would be completely washed-out and invisible under such conditions. Should you blast a non-physical being with UV-A light in hopes of making it visible, in similar fashion to that '60s wall poster? No, because the key term here is "non-physical", which is very unlike that poster. If ghosts are visible in the ultraviolet spectrum, use of any light source would be counterproductive, as their image would be overpowered. Yet, many in the paranormal field still insist on 'lighting up', using every type of light source imaginable, and happily snapping away. That makes absolutely no sense unless we're dealing with solid, physical matter that can reflect light, and everything we do know through anecdotal reports and observation leads us to believe that's not the case. It really comes down to an issue of independent thought; thinking things through to their logical conclusion, applying as much scientific theory and probability as can be applied to paranormal investigation in context of the limited information we have on the subject and, most importantly, not becoming a flock of sheep and doing something just because everyone else is or because it's how the clowns on cable say it should be done.
 
So, what's the best lighting technique to photograph our spooky friends? Whether digital or film and regardless of conditions, use a tripod, avoid the use of flash, and never use an external light source (normal indoor room light is okay as long as it's not too bright) unless you are not attempting to photograph the actual spirit, but only the movement of a physical object, such as a trigger prop. For more information on ghost photography, see the Ghost Hunting Myths and Ghost Hunting Questions pages of my website.
 
Is There a Time of Day/Night That's Better for Capturing Ghostly Images?
 
No, but it's always best to be there at the time most ghostly activity is reported to occur. Obviously, daylight photography is easier to accomplish, has less variables and is less suspect in the eyes of skeptics, but follow the suggestions in the paragraph above for night or indoor activity. And no, it really isn't like TV would have you believe; ghosts seem to be just as active during the day.

Rain? Snow? Fog? Stay Home and Watch a Scary Movie Instead.

You know those spooky-but-ubiquitous nighttime cemetery orb photos that are posted on just about every paranormal website? How about those creepy-but-ubiquitous nighttime graveyard 'ectoplasmic mist' shots? They say "a picture is worth a thousand words", although that idiom no longer holds much truth in the age of digital manipulation and Photoshop. And it has never been true of outdoor shots featuring floating spheres and misty goo. Unless, of course, you're talking about the weather.

Most 'ectoplasm' and 'orbs' are nothing more than the intense light of the camera's flash reflecting off something very normal, not paranormal, in the atmosphere. The combination of rain or snow, darkness and flash photography is certain to conjure orbs every time. Cold temperatures, your breath and a camera's flash will conspire to summon ectoplasm, seemingly out of thin air. As for the latter, I'll give you a reason to quit that even the American Cancer Society fails to mention: cigarette smoke will do the same, regardless of outside temperature. What's that you say? You still refuse to quit? My only reply to that is, as a paranormal investigator, you should have a unique perspective on one absolute truth: it is much better to be above the ground than below it.
 
Location, Location, Location?
 
I've often wondered why ghosts would want to hang-out in a cemetery; wouldn't they rather visit a location connected with happier times in their lives? Chilling and spending time with living friends and family seems as though it would be much more appealing. Well, many are spectral couch potatoes and prefer home sweet home over grass and granite. Still, many interesting 'ghost in the cemetery' photos exist, even after discounting the ridiculous orb and mist shots offered as 'proof' on the sites of some New England paranormal investigators and weekend ghost hunting groups. How, then, are we to explain this ghost/cemetery connection?
 
If you've read the Ghosts and Hauntings page of my site, you already know that I believe ghosts have free will and, just like the living, can make their own choices. Time and distance are meaningless concepts 'over there', so they can be wherever, whenever. They also seem to be drawn and respond to the emotions and thoughts of those they were close to in this life. That seems to be the motivation behind the use of prayer in so many religions, as it is believed the prayers can be 'heard' by those who have passed. If that is the case, ghostly manifestations in cemeteries actually start to make sense. Where was the last large gathering of friends, relatives and loved ones all concentrating on the departed? Very likely, it would have been the funeral and subsequent burial in the cemetery. When someone is visiting a cemetery, where are their thoughts? Probably with the departed and, if someone does take the time to visit, they almost certainly had some type of emotional connection to that person. No, I don't believe ghosts are squatters and join some type of "Occupy the Cemetery" movement, but they can and do visit, and the catalyst is not the dead, but the living. Ghosts are sometimes photographed at family events such as parties, reunions and weddings, and the combined energy and thoughts of family members, just like in the cemetery, could very well be the reason. While I don't believe a ghost is around every corner, they can be anywhere, and location may not be as important as the person(s) at the location.

Dead Wedding Crashers

Ghost photography is, for the most part, of the candid variety.Think of yourself as a spectral Henri Cartier-Bresson, the famous French master of candid street photography. He happily snapped away, catching fleeting glimpses of people going about their business, often without them being aware they were being photographed. Sure, he captured the living and you want to capture the dead, but let's not sweat the minor details...the idea and technique are the same. While many praise Cartier-Bresson for his sharp eye for composition, I tend to think the magic was in the numbers. I certainly do not doubt his skill, but the simple fact is that if you take enough shots of a subject, odds are a few will be 'keepers'. I often wonder about the shots that never made it to the pages of the countless books dedicated to his work; I'm sure they far outnumber the ones that did. However, opinions such as mine amount to heresy in the world of artsy-fartsy photography. But then, I also dislike French cinema and am annoyed by National Public Radio fundraising week, so I apparently lack the 'artsy-fartsy' gene...

What we can learn and adapt from Mr. Cartier-Bresson, however, is the value of the shotgun approach to candid photography and, specific to our purposes, candid ghost photography. In my experience, dead people are camera shy and truly hate to strike a pose. The exception to that pearl of wisdom is during group photos, such as weddings, family reunions and the like, where they will sometimes photobomb the shot to be part of the group. That leaves us no choice but to try to photograph them unaware and caught in the act, taking lots of shots in succession and hoping for that keeper.

The goal of ghost photography is to document, not to take pretty pictures. You may have to retrain your eyes and mind to be less conscious of composition and more aware of what is going on around you. Get a weird vibe from a room? Start hitting the shutter release button. A particular area of a location giving you the heebie-jeebies? Start snapping in that direction. Metaphorically, put away the rifle and use the shotgun.

WWKD?: What Would Kanye Do?

So you've taken some pictures, now what? Get ready to play haunted hide and seek. Spend some time, somewhere without distraction, and closely examine your shots. Even if using film, it is a good idea to get high-resolution digital scans of your negatives at the time of processing to view them on your computer monitor. That way, if you do think you see something unusual, you can zoom in on it to get a closer look, and a high-res scan will make that possible to do with reasonable clarity.

Unless obnoxiously egotistical in life, a ghost will usually not appear front and center in a frame. Of course, the ghosts of Donald Trump and Kanye West would but, yes, they're still with us. However, as mentioned above, the vast majority of ghosts seem to want to avoid the limelight. Whether that is an unwritten code of conduct rule in the spirit world, I haven't a clue, but it is what it is. Make sure that you examine all areas of the frame. For example, if you have shots in a cemetery surrounded by woods, check not only the main part of the shot, but the margins of the tree line.Taking outdoor shots of a purported haunted house or other structure? Check even the smallest details in the windows. And don't be surprised if you see that someone, or something, was watching you. Boo!

Final Thoughts
 
I hope you've found this information helpful, and please feel free to shoot me an email with anything you've captured. Now...grab a camera and get to work!

How to Photograph Ghosts,Ghost Photography 101,Haunted,Paranormal,New England Paranormal Investigators,Boston,Full Spectrum,Infrared,AnthonyDuda,www.AnthonyDuda.com

 




Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact. 

The Paranormal Community: Extending an Olive Branch (of sorts)

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I Didn't Know There Were That Many Curse Words...

Welcome to my second installment of The Booo! Blog. I'm glad you're here!
 
When I created my website, I knew it would very likely cause a small commotion in the New England paranormal community. Based on my years of experience and observation in the paranormal field, I wanted it to be informative, helpful and brutally honest, and with that honesty sometimes comes controversy. While the response from the general public has been overwhelmingly positive, what I was not expecting was the sheer volume of vitriol and venom on the part of some paranormal investigators and ghost hunting groups, not only in New England, but across the country. The public has access to the Guest Book section of my site, and a few of the negative comments are printed there. With limited exceptions (use of profanity, personal attacks on others, naming individual investigators or groups) I have made it a policy to print the positive and the negative. I do not have the capability to edit posts but do manually approve them, so if yours violated one of my few rules and did not appear, please accept my apologies. However, the vast majority of nastiness has been sent via private email and that, of course, will never be reprinted on my website without the consent of the sender, as it would be a violation of their privacy.
 
I mentioned this a few times on my site, but the message and sentiment may have become a bit overshadowed, so it bears repeating: There are some very reputable and well-established paranormal investigators and groups in New England. That being said, as in any field, there are those that (for lack of a more accurate descriptive term) really do suck at this. A sizable portion of my website is devoted to helping you, the reader, recognize the difference, hopefully choose the former and, at all costs, avoid the latter. My concern is for those who may be experiencing a paranormal problem and, yes, even for the 'ghosts' involved. If you happen to find yourself smack in the middle of a genuine, honest-to-goodness haunting and believe your uninvited guest(s) were once living, breathing, compassionate beings, it should be the concern of your chosen investigator or group as well. Needless to say, the 'I learned everything I need to know from TV' sledgehammer approach favored by many weekend ghost hunters is far from the nuanced, knowledgeable and experienced attempt at a solution that you and your resident spook require and deserve.
 
While remaining independent of any paranormal group or organization has afforded me a huge advantage in the unique way I can approach and tailor an investigation to a client's individual needs, some who have read my site may find it surprising that I have never declined a request to assist other individuals and groups in this field. Yes, I am opinionated. Yes, I am brutally honest. However, I am not (as some email has suggested) an "a**hole". Actually, that was one of the milder accusations; I had to Google a few of their 'colorful' word choices just to understand what some New England paranormal investigators and groups thought of my website :-) Regardless, I have happily supplied advice, expertise and equipment on numerous occasions, especially when consulted for more difficult cases, and will continue to do so. Please never hesitate to contact me if the need arises...I don't bite.
 
So, there you have it, and that'll do it for this month's edition. Have a happy and safe holiday season, and we'll talk again in 2012!

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Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.

Paranormal New England: A Brand New Blog!

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Time to Relax a Bit
 
Whew! The rush is over! October has always been the busiest month for anyone in the paranormal field. It's been my intention to add a monthly blog to my website, but this is the first chance I've had to do so. I'll use the opportunity to give a quick update of what has been happening since the site went 'live' almost two months ago.
 
Apparently, the arrival of my site has ruffled a lot of feathers, struck a few nerves and bruised some egos in the paranormal community, not only in New England, but the entire country. I must say that it took me a bit by surprise, as I honestly intended and wrote the site for the New England area. I guess that just shows the power and reach of the Internet. While the vast majority of comments have been overwhelmingly positive, those negative have been particularly vicious. I've made it a policy to make all comments (with some listed exceptions) posted to my guest book available. However, I will never make private email comments or inquiries public, as that would not be fair to the writer. As Martha Stewart would say, that's probably a "good thing", as the language used in some would put any demonic entity (if they actually existed, of course) to shame. To all of those who chose to leave positive comments, I thank you. To those choosing to leave negative nastiness, I thank you as well. Really, I do. I've enjoyed them immensely.
 
I'm also extremely surprised (and pleased!) how quickly my site has climbed the search engine rankings. Very little search engine optimization was done, primarily because I'm technologically challenged when it comes to that area. Yet, it continues to ascend, despite competition from some very well-established New England paranormal websites. While it will probably never be in the top three on Google because of the site's name and other factors, I feel proud in that I wrote it, not to please the search engines and rank highly in their results, but to say what I wanted to say and the way I wanted to say it (damn...that's a mouthful!) I can only assume people like you have found my site, liked it, and that traffic is somehow affecting how Google and the others rank it. I'd like to say 'thanks' to all of you.
 
I've received many inquiries concerning the music on my Images page, as well as some who were convinced that I must have done some type of Photoshop manipulation on the photos. Let me address these points in the order presented:
 
The song is Fear from the television series One Step Beyond (aka Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond) which aired on ABC from 1959 through 1961. It was an anthology series similar to The Twilight Zone, except the stories were exclusively paranormal in nature. The music was written, arranged and conducted by Harry Lubin, and performed by The Harry Lubin Orchestra. I have the original CD on Taragon Records, but it has recently been re-released by Red Bitch Music (yes, that's really the name) and available from Amazon.com on CD and MP3 download. Please note that, being a soundtrack from a series, not all the music has the same creepy vibe, but there are a few. It's definitely worth a listen, as there's nothing else like it being recorded today.
 
As for the images, no manipulation was done, except for some minor sharpening, lightening or contrast enhancement. The weird coloration on some is just the nature of how a particular camera records the UV and IR spectra. I could have converted all of them to black and white but, again, I wanted to do as little manipulation as possible. There are many more to come; I just need time to compile them from over the years, then upload them to the server.
 
Each monthly edition of this blog will tackle a single topic relevant to the paranormal. Some may not always like what I have to say, but if you've perused my site, you've undoubtably come to the realization that I'm not bothered by that fact ;-) I hope you will continue to check it out.
 
Thanks!

New England Paranormal Investigators - Boston - MA - Ghosts - Hauntings - UFO - EVP - Cryptozoology, Connecticut - New Hampshire - Rhode Island - Maine - Vermont, Anthony Duda, Boston Paranormal Investigators - Massachusetts Paranormal Investigators, New Hampshire Paranormal Investigators - Maine Paranormal Investigators, Vermont Paranormal Investigators, Connecticut Paranormal Investigators - Rhode Island Paranormal Investigators

 
 



Legal Disclaimer: All information, opinion and theories on this website and blog are published in good faith and for general information purposes only. I do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on my website and blog is strictly at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with its use. All opinion and theories are strictly my own, and should not be construed as fact.