Oculus—One Cloudy Film

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Oculus Movie Poster

Oculus Movie Poster

 

Oculus—One Cloudy Film

The gals from Archer Paranormal Investigations (API) took in the film Oculus Saturday night. Many, many words come to mind now that I have properly reflected upon it, and none of them are the words “Good,” “So-So,” or even “Marginal.” This movie was horrible.

There were only two things I liked about the movie: the eerie music and “Dog.” Spoiler Alert: The only saving grace was that the dog was released half way through. I wished that I too was released then. I kept looking at my cell phone to see how much longer the pain would continue. The mediocre storyline could have been overcome with less flash backs. The lady down from me kept saying how confused she was. I wasn’t confused. I was bored.

Prior to the screening, I was concerned that the movie would be too graphic and gruesome. There was one bug-out scene where the adult Kaylie, played by Karen Gillan, mistakenly eats an abnormally large, round light bulb thinking it was an apple. (And the hairdresser should be shot for styling her hair that way, just saying.) Other than that, the horror factor was low. And that would be okay if the director played upon our psyche. He did not. Instead he kept rotating the flashback scenes with present day trying to confuse the viewer. There are so many holes in the plot. Why weren’t the kids in school? What neighbor walks a pre-teen child back without calling 9-1-1? Who has a tattoo on her arm in 2002? How does a mother who never leaves the house really believe her husband is having an affair in his home office? None of this makes sense. Then add an expensive mirror with ties to royalty. How on God’s green earth did this family afford it? It was too distracting to try and reconcile all of this and still watch.

In the end no one won. And that’s a cinematic problem. The protagonist always wins. That’s the formula. That’s what makes the genre work. Instead one dies and the other is remanded back into custody. The movie ends with an obvious desire for a sequel. Pass.

For Sale (Actually Lease): Poveglia Island—Ghosts Included

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Haunted Poveglia Island Up for Auction

Haunted Poveglia Island Up for Auction

 

For Sale (Actually Lease): Poveglia Island—Ghosts Included

Seventeen prime acres of island property are up for sale in Italy—complete with ghostly hauntings. Poveglia is Italy’s most haunted island, and if you have millions of dollars sitting idly by you can be its new owner.

The island is public property owned by the Italian government. The sale is an effort to reduce the country’s public debt. In the 18th century deceased plague victims were dumped on the grounds. In 1922, a doctor conducted lobotomies on mental patients using crude tools. The mental hospital closed in 1968 amid rampant rumors of abuse. The island is reportedly haunted by tens of thousands of distressed spirits. The most notable ghost is that of plague victim Little Maria. Although the island’s access is restricted, paranormal investigators have conducted investigations on the island.

Several buildings remain on the main island including a hospital, church, bell tower turned lighthouse, prison, and administration buildings. A canal divides the main smaller island with a larger, mostly undeveloped island. The third island has some remains of a fort. Plague pits are scattered there as well. An estimated 10,000 people died on the island throughout its illustrious history. That alone should caution any potential buyer.

Italy isn’t really selling the island. Instead, it is offering a 99-year lease of the property with a starting bid of 350,000 euros (approximately $490,000 US). Not a wise investment decision!

However, it begs the question as to whether anyone would purchase the island. Personally, I would not. This location is steeped in possible paranormal drama. It’s a literal quagmire. There is simply too much going on. Although I would purchase an historic property, even with the possibility of hauntings, this island is out of the question. Some places are not meant to be owned but to be admired. From far, far away. But, if anyone asks me to investigate, I am all in!

Povelgia--Interior

Povelgia–Interior

The Wonderful Talking Board, Part 2

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Ouija Board

Ouija Board

The Wonderful Talking Board, Part 2

The “Talking Board” was patented under the Toy/Game Section. Kennard Novelty Company brought a medium to the Patent Office in order to demonstrate. And the Ouija Board performed. Patent granted. And the Ouija Board became a multi-million dollar seller. But in 1973 the Ouija Board’s reputation turned forever.

The Exorcist brought the true essence of the board to the attention of international movie-goers. Religious bodies worldwide took notice and began cautioning parishioners about its use. But does it really work? No. Spoiler: A spirit does not communicate via the board.

Researchers claim the board works via the “Ideomotor Effect.” Simply put, the participants’ subconscious movements cause the planchette to move. Participants’ expectations are the driving force at play. Further, the participants are the ones who respond not a spirit. While perusing the Internet for information, I found an interesting article with the “Rule of Play” for the Ouija Board. Even though I am ardent about its disuse, I believe a short primer for those who ignore the warning is in order. According to RelativelyIntersting.com (http://www.relativelyinteresting.com/do-ouija-boards-really-work-spoiler-alert-they-dont/), the Rules are:

  1. Ouija Board Rule #1
    Never play with the Ouija board alone.
  2. Ouija Board Rule #2
    Do not allow the planchette to count down through the numbers or backwards through the alphabet.
  3. Ouija Board Rule #3
    Always place a silver object upon the Ouija board before playing.
  4. Ouija Board Rule #4
    Never, ever mention “God,” as it is believed that entities contacted through the Ouija Board are generally “evil” in nature.
  5. Ouija Board Rule #5
    When you are done playing, say “goodbye.”

Please visit the above-referenced link for explanations. They are quite candid. The Ouija Board can act as a portal or opening for lingering spirits to come through. If they do, their intentions are BAD. So while the spirit is not communicating by moving the planchette, the spirit may be waiting for user error in order to do its business once the board is put away.

Listen to the Archer Paranormal Radio episode where the API gals discuss the Ouija Board. It is educational, enlightening, and highly entertaining.

 

A Brief Interlude

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Cima da Conegliano, God the Father

Cima da Conegliano, God the Father

Brief Interlude—The Importance of God

Before posting Part 2 on the Ouija Board, I wanted to take a brief interlude. An “interlude” is anything that fills time between two events. Most, if not all, paranormal investigators steer clear of Ouija Boards. Nothing good comes with their play. However, some of our clients do dabble with the game—even if they adamantly deny it. Bad things come out with the board. And only a strong firm belief in the Lord combats the evil.

All ghost hunters need to have a firm belief in God. It is a necessity for the job. I am always cautious of people who believe in the Devil but who aren’t “religious.” You cannot have the Devil without the Lord. The universe is a balance between good and evil, light and dark, and God versus the Devil. It doesn’t matter if you regularly attend church, you must believe that God is the Supreme Being. The End.

But what should you be doing? You should be praying to talk with God AND meditating to hear His instructions. Prayer + Meditation = God’s instructions. The angels who look after you are directly linked to God. You don’t have to memorize the Bible. You don’t have to quote scripture. But you must believe!

The Wonderful Talking Board, Part 1

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The Ouija Board

The Ouija Board

The Wonderful Talking Board, Part 1

Nothing divides a room than a discussion about playing with the Ouija Board. On one side sits the ardent not-in-a-million-years group. On the other, the occasional player. Where do you fall?

America was in a frenzy with the rise of Spiritualism in 1848. Spiritualism was compatible with Christian ideology. Séances were en vogue. Mediums enjoyed a celebrity type status. A simplified planchette was manufactured and sold across the country. However, a savvy businessman saw the potential to make millions.

The man who brought Ouija to the masses was in it for the money. Kennard Novelty Company patented the Ouija Board (Patent Number US446054 A) in 1891. Ironically, in order to receive a patent, the company had to demonstrate that the board actually worked. The Ouija Board game was introduced as a parlor wooden board game in the early 1900s—right as interest in the afterlife was growing. It was priced at $1.50 and consisted of a wooden board and wooden planchette.

Where does the name originate? Despite numerous stories, the name is not a combination of the words “Yes” and “No.” The most likely source of the name comes from co-founder Elijah Bond’s sister-in-law Helen Peters, a medium in her own right. Peters asked the board what it wanted to be called, and the response was “Ouija”—loosely translated as “good luck.” Dig a little deeper and you learn that Ms. Peter’s was sporting a locket containing the picture of women’s rights activist Ouida. Hmm.

Norman Rockwell

Bernice Bobs Her Hair, Norman Rockwell, May 1, 1920.

The Ouija Board was a mainstream activity in homes. Norman Rockwell added one in his May 1, 1920 illustration for The Saturday Evening Post. Polite society sat in their parlors and attempted to communicate with the dead. All hands would lightly rest on a teardrop-shaped planchette. A question would be called and mysteriously the planchette would move to reveal an answer. The answer may come in the form of a “yes” or a “no.” Or the spirit may spell out the answer one letter at a time. Or indicate a number. This process of deciphering a message from beyond the Veil could take hours. And many waited.

By the time the Kennard Novelty Company sold the game to Parker Brothers in 1967, the game turned into a multi-million dollar business. All was good until 1973 and The Exorcist. The sole factor in how a seemingly harmless parlor game turned into the portal of evil rests squarely on one motion picture. The Exorcist is loosely based on one pre-teenage girl (in real life it was a boy) who played with the Ouija Board and let loose the Devil. Parker Brothers was sold to Hasbro, current owner of the game. Since the movie’s premiere, the great divide on where people stand on the board has widened. Ouija Board games are ceremoniously burned with the likes of Harry Potter. Pat Robertson warns that demons can reach us through the board. Church leaders denounce the usage. The board game became spooky. But is it really? “Good-Bye.” For now…

The Not-So “Haunted” Pillar of Augusta

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Haunted Pillar Augusta

The historic marker for the “Haunted” Pillar in Augusta, Georgia.

The Not-So “Haunted” Pillar of Augusta

Urban legend claims that an unknown preacher was denied the right to sermonize at the location. He demanded that the city pay to build him a church in order for him to speak to the masses. When the city refused to give into his demands, the preacher cursed the location. Some versions claim he cursed the pillar specifically. According to local legend, the preacher vowed that anyone who attempted to move the pillar would be killed (or struck down). This reportedly occurred in 1829.

Built in 1830, the “Haunted” Pillar once stood at the Market House on Broad Street in downtown Augusta, Georgia. The Market House stood strong until February 7, 1878 when a tornado leveled the market leaving only the one pillar. Additional stories claim that the pillar was the sight of multiple lightning strikes and an alarming number of automobile accidents.

The pillar has been moved several times. In addition, it may have undergone significant cosmetic enhancement (i.e., been rebuilt). It begs the question: Is it haunted?

Doubtful. The Internet is ripe with tales of people hearing footsteps around the pillar. People turn to the “curse” and claim the preacher is responsible. However, the story is murky. The supposed “curse” was done one year before the pillar was built. In addition, the lone surviving pillar has been moved a number of times. And it has been rebuilt and restored numerous more times.

Currently, the pillar sits at a precarious intersection, which may be the cause of all of the car wrecks. And, despite the contrary, lightning does strike the same place twice. Don’t fall it. It’s a good story, but not a haunted location.

The Actual Pillar

The Actual Pillar

 

Buying a “Haunted House”: A New Trend

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Billy Bob Thorton Buys Haunted House

Billy Bob Thorton recently purchased this house in Moorehead, ND.

Buying a “Haunted House”: A New Trend

Billy Bob Thorton has joined the ranks of Zak Bagans by purchasing a purported “haunted” house. Seems to be the new trend. Well, “Hell’s bells.”

Ghost Adventurer’s Zak Bagans purchased the supposed “Portal to Hell” located in Gary, Indiana last month. Reportedly, he plans to live—and to film—all the demonic activity. At a bargain price of $35,000, the house remained silent until the former tenant moved in with her three young children. She moved out after three, possibly four, exorcisms failed to remove the evil being. Although the “evidence” seems to be crumbling, Bagans is determined to go through with his plan.

Now Billy Bob Thorton, self-professed “southern-trailerpark-redneck” has found his next house. Mr. Thorton has secured the leading role in the new TV series Fargo and was searching for a “unique” home in the area. Located in the City of Moorehead, the house has a long and dubious history. Local legend has it that an elderly woman and her dog were found frozen on the front porch after her electricity was turned off. Doors open mysteriously, crows hover nearby, and smoke detectors go off. The best is that cell phones don’t work properly while inside. An image of the old lady is displayed with the message: Can’t call 9-1-1. Try calling 6-6-6.”

The eccentric Mr. Thorton snapped up the house. Apparently it fits his sense of spirit.

Is this a growing trend? Apparently not. According to the 2013 Realtor.com report “Haunted Housing Report,” sixty-two percent (62%) of the respondents stated that they would consider living in a haunted house. Thirty-five percent (35%) claimed to have lived in one. Wow! (No small wonder Archer PI is swamped!) Looking and buying are two completely different things, however. Remember A Haunting in Connecticut? Buyer Beware!

Haunted Houses For Sale

Haunted Houses For Sale

 

Duke University. What happened?

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ESP Duke Parapsychology Lab

Participants are tested for ESP at the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory.

Duke University. What happened?

With Mercer’s Cinderella performance against Duke University in college basketball, I wondered: What happened? March Madness aside, I’m still curious. How did one of the most prestigious parapsychology laboratories lose favor? However, public interest still grows.

Duke Parapsychology Lab

Original home for the lab.

Starting in the 1930s, major colleges and universities in the United States and Great Britain opened research laboratories focusing on different aspects of parapsychology. One of the most well-known was the facility housed at Duke. In 1935, J.B. Rhine and William McDougall started the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory. For the next three decades the lab received substantial private funding and enjoyed the support of the university. However, by the early sixties, funding sources dried up and academic scrutiny displaced the lab and it moved off of the college campus. Seems the heyday of parapsychological research ended. But had it really?

According to Glen McDonald’s article “Whatever Happened to Parapsychology?” (http://news.discovery.com/human/psychology/whatever-happened-to-parasychology-1306241.htm) public interest remains high. Further, research continues. The Rhine Research Center (current name of the former lab) continues Dr. Rhine’s mission but works with substantially less staff, funding, and academic support. The skeptics are incredibly vocal and better work the media than the parapsychology academics. And academic skeptics are particularly pesky. They claim that since experiments cannot be consistently repeated in controlled conditions, ESP and the like cannot exist. It’s plain tomfoolery to them.

Dr. Rhine died in 1980 without any breakthrough in research. This week news outlets reported that scientists had established “mind reading.” Brain scanners were used to recreate images that participants were thinking. Gee, that sure sounds closely related to ESP.

Duke Parapsychology Lab

Group photograph of the staff at the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory.

Duke University made a mistake pushing Rhine and his research off the college grounds. Had the school rode the 60s wave and ignored the naysayers, parapsychological research would be further along. As it is, fewer institutes are making strides in the field. Yet, some of cable television’s highest rated shows have some paranormal or parapsychological aspect. The public craves more. We shouldn’t leave it up to “reality tv” to advance the field.

Side note: Stacy Horn has penned a wonderfully dense book about the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory titled Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory (HarperCollins, 2009). It’s not beach reading; however, it effectively captures the essence of lab’s history and parapsychology’s place in modern science. Worth the read!

For those seeking the “quick” version, see Horn’s blog http://www.echonyc.com/~horn/unbelievable/. It is chalked full of information and pictures.

 

Book Review: Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery

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Atlanta's Oakland Cemetery book

Cover Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery by Ren and Helen Davis

Book Review: Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery: An Illustrated History and Guide

By Ren and Helen Davis

Every book about cemeteries should be this stunning. (Actually, every cemetery in America should strive to be this tranquil.) Visually appealing, this book matches the actual cemetery. It is well organized into four distinct sections. Each section begins with an illustrated map denoting the gravesites discussed and important structures. A brief overview provides the reader with enough information to pique her interest. The authors pack as many stories into the book as possible. The final chapter details the importance of the cemetery and its role in the Atlanta community. And quite a role it has. History lives on while visitors stroll through this beautiful cemetery. Preservation is paramount. Through annual events and memberships, funds are reinvested into maintenance and education. Oakland Cemetery is more than the final resting place to Atlanta’s population. It exemplifies the garden cemetery plan prevalent in the nineteenth century. The Introduction by Timothy J. Crimmins details the popularity of rural garden cemeteries and their importance in American history. The book does justice to the numerous mausoleums and statuary located throughout the grounds. Stories of great wealth, and sorrow, reside within this cemetery.

Nuts and Bolts: This book contains everything that makes a good book great. It is well-researched. Crisp photographs are accompanied with historical images. The writing style is casual and appealing. The Appendices are clearly structured and relevant to the content. Although not a proper bibliography, the Notes section does provide enough information for the reader to continue on. Finally, the Index is thorough.

Conclusion: Visit Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery. It is a subtle reminder of our history and challenges us to honor the dead. Before you leave, stop in the adorable gift shop (the former bell tower) and purchase this book.

Archer Paranormal Radio

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Archer Paranormal Investigations

Archer Paranormal Investigations.

Archer Paranormal Investigations (API) consists of three female investigators: a daredevil, a researcher, and a physical medium. Together with a support crew, API investigates paranormal activity in the Metro-Atlanta area. Visit us at www.archer-pi.com; like us on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Archer-Paranormal-Investigations; follow us on Twitter @JMSpear, @HauntedLib, & @MagnoliaPsychic.

Tune in every Thursday night at 7 pm EST to Archer Paranormal Radio on www.liveparanormal.com.

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