Thursday, December 17, 2009

Apple Customer Service Failure at Every Level: Or How I Learned to stop Worrying and Quit Buying Macs

I host an internet-based radio show that reaches a fairly broad audience. Each week I deliver my tirades to my audience and when I’m treated fairly, I treat that person to some of the same, lifting them up above the cloud of my vengeance and staying my wrath. Prepare then, Apple, to lose thy place among the exalted. You have failed me.

I have been a Mac enthusiast for the last 8 years since my first Mac desktop purchase. Tired of the daily maintenance of anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-trojan, anti-malware, anti-familytime, anti-usability software that encases the average windows system in a very thin bubble of easily exploitable, and definitely not Pope-like protection, the transition had been painless, and I thought, well earned after my years of uncompensated Windows vulnerability patrol. When it was time, in the fall of 2007, to outfit my new home studio I purchased one of the brand new core 2 duo Imacs. I know, I know. Why would you buy an all-in-one integrated system? Two words: consumer confidence. By this time I had purchased 2 Mac minis, one macbook, one macbook pro, and now the 24” intel mac. The whole family had been outfitted. For the most part, the only unit that was receiving moderate to heavy use was the imac. All was happy in the land of mac, the evil virus rebellion had been squashed and we rejoiced with barrels of the finest meads, retiring to our drinking halls at night, happy members of the mac cult I had always heard so much about. My Jonestown, however, was about to be served the proverbial kool-aid. The beginning of 2009 marked the downturn for my imac’s overall health. Things seemed to slow down a bit. We no longer frolicked in the fields of our internet and Photoshop of our youths, we meandered lazily on intensive tasks and eventually the concussive blast of my first hard drive failure was felt throughout my little kingdom. No problem I thought, I’m under warranty. This is Apple. The uber –hip, utra saavy, we-know-what-our-customers want industry shakers right?

Turns out that the Apple representative informed me that my initial one year warranty was a week expired. Ok. So hook me up with Apple Care, brothah. I have a credit card and me and debt go way back. No? Well, I assumed that after paying another $100.00 annually for my .mac account and idisk that I would have received an email informing me that it was time to pay up. I should have? Oh, well I didn’t. My first verbal disagreement ensues with Apple’s less than cheery service. After two days and two fraud disputes over using my Apple credit card to pay for Apple Care (the representative finally submitted when it was admitted that my email they had on file was actually different than the one that I had set up… how this happened will later be explored in a future episode of Mystery Quest as we both agreed the mix up was near impossible, but nevertheless had indeed happened) You see, and this makes perfect sense, that when you try to use your Apple Card to make a purchase through Apple, a red flag goes through to the bank that this could be a possible fraudulant charge. Again, why not? Since I had agreed to take the trip to Crazyville why not stop at all the local sites and learn about the town’s thriving logging operations. Sigh. I pay for the Apple Care after numerous attempts by Apple to refuse my money and deny me service. I win. Not really, but I’m desperate after my exchanges and frankly the trip to planet Customer Service Insanity had left me a bit rattled.

I find an Apple Certified Service Center in my area and decide to take it there instead of an Apple Store thinking I might get more personal attention. They give me so much personal attention that they extend the repair time of 2-3 days to two weeks. For a hard drive. Yeah. I finally get my unit back, reinstall everything and I’m back up and running. I’m reunited with the wayward traveler who has found his way back home. We reminisce, but his journey has left him changed, different somehow. He has trouble sleeping, and when I say he has trouble sleeping I mean that he goes to sleep and DOES NOT WAKE UP. I reboot and change the energy saver settings. Wait you must for the Halls of Valhalla my friend as there will be no rest for you in this life!!! So my system must never sleep. My system is now the autistic insomniac girl from Real Genius, but I have my machine back and I’ll weather the small inconvenience because I can’t spend another two weeks working exclusively on my laptop.

I back up my system on a pretty neurotic basis. Mostly I use external drives and occasionally I use discs just to be sure. I started racking up coasters in a pretty short amount of time. Oh but the stress of war had really taken its toll on our traveler. My optical drive checked out. The awesome thing is that it checked out right in the middle of my Snow Leopard installation. Yay! If you’re going to step up to me, don’t half-step, optical drive. Don’t half-step. Hey, hey, this man be prepared though. I gots my Apple Care, and there shouldn’t be an issue. Apparently Apple Stores only carry flux capacitors, warp cores and other mythological and totally intangible replacement parts, because they have NOTHING ELSE IN STOCK. Hello Totally Indifferent and Disinterested 19 year old Mac Store employee. Mac go boom, no more worky. How long bring back from Black Sleep of Khali Ma? 2-3 days. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

Over the next week and a half of I and my Mac’s trial separation I find myself thinking a lot about our relationship. Was I asking for too much? I rarely every used a pc anymore and I knew a thing or two about discretion, so that couldn’t be it. Was I losing that loving feeling? I decide to give this thing another go and try to find what we once had. Afterall, I had a lot of time invested in this relationship by now. Lots and lots and lots of time. All those brooding long distance drives to the Mac stores and repair centers kept playing over and over again in my mind, but I had made a commitment.

My Mac and I regarded each other that day as I finally picked it up from repair and we made a silent promise: never again. Everything seemed fine after that. As a sign that we were willing to change I purchased more memory: promise memory, if you will. If there is one thing that today’s hits and tomorrow’s favorites of soft rock have taught me is that promises are sadly made to be broken.

I should put a Kerouacian title on the next few paragraphs. Maybe Dead, Pixels Dead Soldiers? Maybe that’s too Robert Frost… dead pixels are the syphilis of the designer’s world. Why won’t this spot go away? I keep using the microfiber cloth but this spot just won’t go away!!! Everything feels fine, but Oh my God… are those dead pixels?!?!?! A week ago I noticed two dead pixels. Two dead pixels. Side by Side. RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SCREEN. I lie to myself and choose a darker wallpaper. I’m back in school now and the intense curriculum for my Masters forces me to use my laptop more. It’s a big deal but it can wait. I sit on my sofa and pick up my apple remote. I’ll just listen to the soothing sounds of the RiverDance as I learn about the weighted cost of capital. Remote seems to have its line of sight blocked or something, hmmm. Too bad my studio has more free space than the frickin Tardis. I now also have bad IR sensor it seems. The combination, and those of you with heart murmurs might want to write this down, is a surefire tapdance to the sounds of a coronary. I call Customer Service, who now practically knows what kind of cereal I eat and why I get especially ticklish after jogging asks about the wife and kids and I proceed to tell him about the myriad of new problems. We make an appointment for me at a local store for the Genius Bar (giggle).

I arrive at the Genius Bar at a different Mac Store location with my Mac practically coughing and wheezing at this point (the Mac. Not me. But I did save two bullets. Ya know, in case we absolutely had to.) Hello Totally Indifferent and Disinterested 19 year old Mac Store Employee. Good to see you part of family business. Saw your brother at other store. Mac no respond to remote. Honeymoon Over. Do need Carousel? Renewal? Wait for it. Wait for it. … 2-3 Days.

Every man has a trigger, and I’m not talking about the well-oiled hair trigger of a BA-K-47 assault rifle as the sight reflects the sun from your thoroughly researched and well out-of-site vantage point. I’m talking about the trigger that signifies the end of tolerance, the end of patience…ok so these two triggers are very similar. I spit words through my clenched teeth. Very diplomatic and carefully chosen words: “Replace it”. I didn’t want a repair, I didn’t want this machine back. I wanted it replaced. I had already brought it in twice previously and now I just wanted a new system. I might have well just crapped out a live tiger right there on the counter, because the look that I received rested somewhere between confusion and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. “I could go get my manager?” It was a question and it almost seemed distant and rhetorical as if it shouldn’t have been said aloud. “Yes” was my answer.

This next paragraph was going to be spent issuing a love letter to the truly majestic and buoyant man breasts of the Mac store manager, but I thought it petty, so I’m not going to do it. Manager has obviously read Conrad as he steps over the brown tiger in the room and borrows the other employee’s confused child-like stare. I explain my multiple issues with “the lemon” and how now that it was going to need a new IR sensor, a new video card (I left the red-yellow pixel shift that accompanied my Safari use out of this blog because it sounded like a wedding dance and things are already getting confusing), a new display and a new logic board, I simply wanted a replacement unit. I even said that I would pay for an upgrade to a new unit as my faith in the older product line had been considerably shaken. Of course at that moment a shockingly stealthy giraffe must have crawled out of my pants to challenge the ass-tiger to a rousing game of yahtzee because the manager’s face turned the shade of hemorrage and crumpled in on itself more confused than before.

His response was that since the unit had not been in for repair before (huh?) that there was no grounds for a replacement (whaaaaaaaaa??????). Employee #1 then casually slid over and pressed a key on the store’s computer that either showed a new screen or actually turned it on and the manager was presented with information on the previous repairs. I was then informed that this still didn’t warrant a replacement. Wiping the blood off of my hands from where my fingernails were progressively digging deeper I explained that repairing this “lemon” (I thought the good folks at Apple would appreciate the fruit analogy) was just going to lead to more repairs and that a replacement would solve this. I do want to thank the good folks at Apple for laughing at me after I left and not directly to my face, as the answer was again a “no”. I further explained that I was simply tired of lugging the unit back and forth to be serviced and then being without the machine for weeks at a time. I was then told that I had always had the option of a technician actually coming out to my property to check the machine and then take it for repairs. Umm, really? Looks like that option had never been explained to me. EVER.

So the latest breaking news from this morning is that they were currently waiting on the last of the parts to arrive (today being day three of my 2-3 days). I was then informed that even if it did arrive today, that there were no repairs being done today and just to let me know, there is a LOT of work that has to be done on this machine … “Frustration is in the lead with Piping Hot Anger in a close second and the dark horse in running, Ritual Suicide is closing in. Wait, what’s this? Vein Splitting Fury has suddenly made this race interesting in a surprise move here in the last hour!!!”…

I have had horrible customer service. I’m not going to even say that HP’s customer service back in the day when I was still in the PC game was stellar. Here’s the difference: I paid 598.00 for my HP in 2005. I paid (including Apple Care, tax, etc.) 2500.00 for my Mac in 2007. There are certain expectations that come with a product that is touted for its reliability and a company that boasts of its customer relations. After meeting the same kind of service on three different occasions from three different locations, I can’t call this a fluke, nor can I chalk it up to “bad policy”. I place the blame firmly on a company that has forgotten that not everyone who buys their products falls squarely and neatly under one tax bracket. There are those of us who intend to make our purchases last and are not impressed with a 2500.00 lemon when they could have just as easily settled for a 600.00 one. Could be the reason I decided to go Mac in the first place, huh? Too bad this is a story that goes from first place to last place way too quickly.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Artificial Immortality: At What Point Do We Stop Being Human?

With the scientific advances that have been made in medical care over the past few decades with things such as artificial organs, prosthetic limbs, and computer technology, how far are we from making ourselves immortal?

Nowadays we have artificial kidneys and other organs, but those are only good for a limited time, but with advances in medical technology, how far off are we really from having parts that will not only function for longer, but will be better than the real thing? What about organs that are interchangeable by the person that they are installed in? I know we have seen fictional cyborgs like Robocop, but how far off is that from becoming a reality? Was Murphy still alive in that shell, or was he just a skinning on a robot that accidentally carried over some memories from a previous life?

This scenario raises many questions for me. It makes me wonder if we will be able to produce artificial immortality and what parts of the body are actually fully necessary to still be human. I'm sure a fully working artificial heart will not be far off to where it will plug into the brain and use electronic pulses from the brain to know when to speed up or slow down as necessary. It seems there is now also a way to combine living neurons with microchips. We already have somewhat artificial limbs and I'm sure there is someone somewhere working on a way to replace our veins and arteries with surgical tubing. I know people who have metal bars working as a bone when the bone was shattered, and how many senior citizens have you heard of having an artificial hip?

Sure we want our loved ones to be with us forever, but there is also the ethical question of how long should we keep someone alive and when we do have the ability to keep someone alive artificially, at what point should we pull the plug and send them to the afterlife, or are they already in the afterlife and the living entity is just a soulless shell of a person. Where do we cross the line from being living to dead? I think the best answer to this is to just listen to our hearts.


Friday, December 4, 2009

If I Never See Bigfoot, Does He Not Exist?

We’ve all heard the philosophical phrase “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Since sound is vibration that is transmitted to our senses through the mechanism of the ear and recognized as sound only at our nerve centers. The falling of the tree or any other disturbance will produce vibration of the air. If there are no ears to hear, there will be no sound." So in other words, if one never sees Bigfoot or anything commonly classified as paranormal, does it not exist and in turn lessen their credibility when discussing the topic?

As many of you probably know by now, I have been an avid paranormal enthusiast (ok...I take that back, a paranormal fanatic being the more fitting term) for as long as I can remember, yet never have I seen anything that can be considered paranormal. Does this make me or anyone else that fits this description any less credible when he/she is looked at as somewhat of a paranormal SME (Subject Matter Expert)? I’d like to believe that it affords me a little extra objectivity when debating with skeptics or responding to one of the many expert guests we interview weekly on ‘The Parafactor Radio Show‘. Though I yearn for the opportunity to step in some proverbial Sasquatch poop, there is also another part of me that is scared to death and wants no part of a firsthand encounter with the beast or anything paranormal for that matter. I believe it is this inherent fear of the unknown and the never ending quest for truth that keeps me coming back for more.

There is also an additional part of me that is afraid of being disappointed by the paranormal much like meeting that sports hero and finding out he did steroids his whole career to achieve those lofty statistics. For example, maybe Bigfoot is a big jerk and no fun to hang out with at all. Maybe he just wants to sit around and watch bad reality television while smoking cheap cigars, or better yet, crash fancy White House shindigs! I guess everyone has their flaws; sports stars, celebrities, politicians, and yes, even Bigfoot. I’m almost certain that The Loch Ness Monster, Yeti, Extraterrestrials, Chupacobra, Champ, etc., etc., etc., all have their share of faults and inadequacies as well. This doesn’t make us love them any less, does it?

My point being in all of this is that it’s ok to have an interest in, or even worship, something that may never have tangibility. It’s even ok to revere those with flaws and imperfections. I recall reading somewhere that man (shortcomings and all) was created in God’s image, so wouldn’t this hold true for paranormal beings too? Have passion for whomever and whatever you believe in, regardless of whether or not you can reach out and touch them.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Calling all Succubi

The first time I saw Ghostbusters, as a boy, it made an impression on me. That impression as memory serves me now is as follows: “What the hell was that ghost doing unzipping Dan Ackroyd’s pants and why is he so damn happy about it?!?!?!” A sidenote that I must now include is that Ghostbusters also marked a period of my adolescence where I swore randomly. I think I was just angry because I was being picked on by a man who would later live out his twenties in the basement of a YMCA. It also could have been Turrets Syndrome…

My first impression of Ghostbusters as an adult was as follows: “Where the hell can I find a succubus?” I mean, really, is this the worst that hell’s legions of demons can throw my way? I hear a creak on the stairs (not the “I will drag your almost impossibly endowed girlfriend through the hall and baby-soft talcum powder Paranormal Activity creak”) and a dark horned figure stands in the doorway, pitchfork or whatever bails hay in hell in hand, leveraging a taloned finger at me and says.” Ash Hamilton. Your name has been inked in the book of Leviathan. Prepare to be drained of all bodily fluids by thorough sexing that will not result in pregnancy, an STD that makes you pass wing nuts out your urethra or awkward conversations that begin with. “So did that constitute a “half-and-half” or an “around the world”?

Where was Dante Alighieri when Satan added that particular level of hell, “Lessee, we get uh fire dancing on the soles of the feet, buncha lawyers in a river of boiling blood…uh, hey Mephistopheles! I’m thinking of switching things up a bit…I can’t just put another blood river here.” (Satan here is played by character actor Joe Pantoliano) How did this one get through the cracks? This is a pretty big oversight to make its way outta hell’s audit.

Which brings me to my dilemma. How does one go about procuring one of these little kittens? I tried being virtuous and pious. No succubi. Tried being that “haunted man living on the edge, one step away from losing his soul…and his humanity. This summer ex - cop Tyler Trent learns the very definition of…” No succubi. Apparently there is also one thing that Craigslist does not have…succubi. Did see an ad for a bi-curious Wiccan trying to pay for culinary school. No succubi.

So this is my call to arms. I am looking for a succubi. I am even willing to sublet someone else’s succubi if an arrangement of mutual benefit can be met. I’ll even go Sunday, Monday, Tuesday if I have to. I would prefer a succubus who takes care of herself, maybe late thirties/ early forties, but dishy. Luckily the lack of a corporeal body will probably make this one a sure thing. Oh… if sharing succubi, I don’t want to know what you have named it. I will name it and that will make things less weird for me; probably Raven or Candy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ewww that Smell: Do Olfactory Hallucinations Support the Multiverse Theory?

Phantom smells seem to accompany the paranormal on almost every level. From the smell of rotten eggs that sometimes marks spirit activity to the overwhelming odors of the skunk ape, aptly named for the very smell that precedes it, the paranormal is an odiferous area of study. Are these odors, like the banal and unsuspicious smells we encounter everyday, simply an attribute of the phenomena, or might they allude to a mechanism by which the phenomena presents itself?

Phantosmia is usually an indicator of a serious illness and phantom smells can be the harbingers of horrible medical concerns including epilepsy and brain tumors. Phantosmia, which has been linked to temporal lobe seizures, often accompanies epilepsy stemming from the hippocampus.

Temporal lobe epilepsy in particular has been somewhat of a catchall explanation for ghosts among debunkers and the scientific field in general. Temporal lobe seizures have often been associated with “seeing” ghosts and have even been singled out in possession cases. The aspect of “alien control” associated with temporal lobe conditions replaces the demonic when there is reason to suspect hyperactivity in the temporoparietal cortex, again, making the temporal lobe a convenient neurological patsy when it comes to explaining away the paranormal. It is a patsy so convenient, in fact, that it incurs suspicion through the frequency of its diagnosis.

The temporal lobe itself is not limited to producing just olfactory hallucinations and here is where the skeptic gets a little more fuel for their fire. The ventral part of the temporal cortices are responsible for such high perception recognition as faces and scenes. Put together the instances of phantosmia, alien control (which has a wide range of seemingly paranormal attributes from feeling as though there is a presence in the room to actually losing physical control of your body), and visual hallucinations stemming from the fusiform gyrus and parahippocampal gyrus part of the temporal cortex and you have all the makings of a serious haunting. Or is it that easy?

If it was, we would seemingly see a lack of both EVPs and thermal imagery, you would think. Could mass hallucinations be the culprit again then? Are our ghost hunters all victims of a form of temporal lobe epilepsy specific in it’s conditions? Let’s pose an alternative. Trauma to the brain can often cause temporal lobe lesions. Many people who have temporal lobe lesions may have some of the effects of temporal lobe epilepsy varying in severity. What if exposure to a rip in dimensional barriers could tax both the fusiform gyrus and parahippocampal gyrus areas to such an extent that temporary damage is done to that area of the temporal lobe? Let’s go a step further and ask if these areas of the brain HAVE to be manipulated in order for the multiverse to be seen. If so, can a brush with the paranormal lead to multiple exposures simply due to the damage done to the temporal lobe during that first incident? What if overstimulation caused by paranormal activity results in a small lesion in the temporal lobe? If damage or stress to the temporal lobe opens one up to paranormal experiences can the forming of lesions snowball and intensify these experiences?

(Continued in Part 2)


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Skepticism and The Fourth Kind

Have you ever found yourself, trying to explain your theory on the mole
people or some other paranormal topic to a new friend or coworker? Have
you ever been greeted with skepticism and the "he might be crazy look?"
I have. In fact I was greeted with it not once, not twice, but three
times this week.

So why was met with such skepticism? Was it the topic of abduction? I
don't think so. Was it the words I used to articulate my views?
Probably. One thing I have learned in my years of being open to things
beyond Starbucks and the box we are expected to live within, is that the
saying, "it's not what you say, but how you say it" is true. If you get
the chance email me your experiences with the skeptics, how did you
handle it?

Speaking of abduction, the Fourth Kind is out and I am looking forward to
meeting it with my own kind of skepticism this Friday. Keep your
spoilers out of my inbox :-). Those that may not know The Fourth Kind is
an abduction film that takes place in a very remote Alaskan town. No
soccer moms or minivans in these parts, just Milla Jovovich and a bunch
of really cold abductees. Apparently there is some fact to this film,
but ill avoid looking into that and exploring that, until after I have
seen the movie.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rise of the Robots: Are we our own Terminators?

On a previous episode of The Parafactor we covered a story about robots that were being designed to perform scientific experiments that would allow them to reason for themselves. This sort of spontaneous intelligence could be
a blessing or a curse. If executed correctly we might be able
to get definitive proof that life either does or did exist on other planets, utilizing the resilience and longevity of thinking machines for prolonged space travel. We might be able to help the severely handicapped through programmed “super providers”; nannies and caregivers that always remember to administer medication, and that never need to sleep.

So let's say that they will be used for good. They have the capacity to
store as much information as their hard drive will hold, and if it gets
full you can always upgrade it or even have the unit itself switch out its own hard drives when need be. This will give them countless different scenarios to run
through where each scenario can be sorted, logged and utilized for reference. We can program thinking machies to sort
through different drugs and find the correct combination of medicines to
cure diseases. We can run situational computations based on our fossil fuel resources to help move away from our reliance on oil. If these are the goals
that we are working towards, then I am all for it.

There is, on the other hand, that whole becoming self aware thing where machines see the apparent aberrations in mankind and start to develop their own contingency plans to deal with it. How will we be able to damage them at all when the scientists/mechanics that built them have built them to survive in the harshest environments on other worlds? The very design that enables their functionality could very spell our ruin. And how long until that functionality is recognized for its hidden resource and the production is moved towards alternative applications.

Let's look at the alternative now; metal killing machines. Is it all that farfetched to think the government will send robots into war against other countries? We see it as an element of blockbuster science fiction, but is it really all that unthinkable? Remember that drone technology is currently siphoning off some major defense dollars. If they do end up going this route, will they be able to differentiate between friends and enemies. Their enemies could be of any race, creed, or
class and the robots will need a way to determine who to shoot. If there is
a malfunction it could turn into a bloodbath for the wrong side, so they
will need to be not only to be intelligent, but also somewhat aware; an astute awareness that goes far beyond our current not-so-successful facial recognition attempts and move into musculature of the face and even potential phoneme recognition and predictive facial feature recognition based on certain dialects. Sounds a little like ethnic profiling doesn’t it? And we haven’t even the time to look at the social implications. Let’s just refer back to Asimov and move on.

When they become aware of the world around them, they will shortly then become “self-aware”. It’s a more term we apply more to Cyberdine Industries, but pop cultural references aside, it is the turning point that we all fear. If they become self aware, they may realize that they are being used as killing
machines and that self awareness may turn from quizzical to philosophical to pragmatic in just a few beats of the war drum. There is a fine line between patriotism and sadism, and personality often drives the latter. Sure,
we think Data from Star Trek was cool, but they won't be him.. It could be Cyberdine’s Skynet, and it wouldn't be pretty.
It has already happened once
in the S.W.O.R.D.S. project (Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance
Direct-action System). Luckily nobody was hurt this time. So what do you
do when you try it once and it doesn't work? The only logical answer is
to try, try again. This time
, they're making transformers as part of a project
called M.A.A.R.S. (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System). What will
happen next?


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Shadow People and Poltergeist Activity: A Connection?

Just recently we were fortunate enough to interview Jason Offutt concerning all of the reports he has collected on the subject of shadow people. The idea of shadow people is one that tends to divide the paranormal community over those who feel that pre-internet reports of shadow people were labeled under different monickers and that the phenomena itself has been around far longer than the advent of the web, and those that feel that the phenomena itself is a web generated, or more aptly put, web propagated experience. Regardless of it's origins, reports never cease to make their way across his desk, or as in this story, into our inbox.

Considering that my own humble beginnings started in the midwest I will occasionally ask for , and receive, stories from that region. Below is a recent email received shortly after the Jason Offutt broadcast:

"I live in a Large Two Story house in Illinois with my husband and three children. There has been a lot of personal turmoil in the last few years and we have all been through some troubled times. About a year ago I kept feeling that I was being watched especially when I was alone and the kids were in school. I would see something out of the corner of my eye but, being someone that does not follow any super natural experiences or who even watches those kind of shows, I decided that I was just imagining that I saw something. This was happening quite often and then we had Thanksgiving last year and after we sat down my mother's eyes got big and by her expression I just knew that she had seen something. I looked at her and said, "Mom what is wrong?", and before she spoke I said "let's talk about it after dinner". When we were alone in the kitchen she said that she saw two dark figures walk from the foyer and move towards the stairs. My mom is very interested in the Paranormal and told me that she thought that what we saw were shadow people. Things had been fairly quiet this past summer but now I have a teenage son that is having problems in school and he has started to see these beings as well. At first he would just act funny and say that nothing was wrong but now he has confided in me about what he sees. He is another non believer and for him to be upset I believe he is truly seeing them. I also have two dogs and several times I see them cock their heads and bark and absolutely nothing. I have heard that animals are very sensitive to this so maybe they see something also."

The idea that emotional turmoil has an impact on supernatural phenomena is not a new one. In many poltergeist cases, there is usually a child entering puberty or working through a broken marriage or move that becomes a central figure in the phenomena. This is also the case in instances of demonic possession.

I was able to contact the family and soon realized I had stumbled onto something that exceeded their original story. When asked if the family had experienced anything preceding these events the mother said no, then followed with, "Well, my youngest used to have imaginary friends,but I don't see where that has anything to do with this." I pressed a little further and she revealed that immediately following her divorce with her previous husband her youngest son began to tell stories of two children who would play with him late at night when everyone would go to sleep. Her son also remarked on the appearance of the children. Both children were apparently wearing what he called "short pants". His mother had, at first believed this to just be his own jargon for shorts or even boxers. Upon seeing an antique picture, however, the boy pointed to the style of dress and exclaimed, "Short pants!".

Of particular interest to me is the fact that both phenomena started after a traumatic event in the "children's lives". Being that much poltergeist activity deals with a physical interaction of the entity and its immediate surroundings, my line of inquiry migrated to the child's toys and was met with a short story revolving around the placement toys in the room always being disturbed after the child's late night play sessions. Many toys were also displaced never to be found again.

My question now has to be whether we are seeing a troubled adolescence as a gateway phenomena or simply as fuel allowing entities to manifest themselves after leaching off of the child's distress. Hopefully with the growing number of shadow people cases that bloggers like Offutt are collecting we will see the correlation between these two phenomena and gain greater awareness of its origins.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

If You Were Abducted By Aliens...

I know everybody thinks "oh, it would be so cool if I were to get abducted", but how would you really feel? Something comes to your house and takes you against your will and begins doing strange tests on you. I guess what it would mostly boil down to would be the temperament of the aliens that were abducting you, but what about the time before you would even get to that?

First would be the feeling of confusion, what is going on? Where am I and how did I get here? Then there would be almost immediate fear once you realize that you don't recognize your surroundings, fear for your life because you do not know if you are in danger, you do not know who has kidnapped you. You will not even think that you are on an alien vessel. The first thought at this point would most likely be "Who has done this to me and what do they want?" and think that you were in a Silence of the Lambs type situation of a crazy person that wants to torture you.

Once the initial panic has passed you would probably begin looking around trying to find clues as to your whereabouts. You may be loose in a large room or you may be strapped down to what appears to be a hospital bed. You would start to look around and maybe see a language that you do not recognize. In your mind you would see this and possibly rationalize it as an East Asian language because you are not thinking of the possibility of it being alien.

About the time that you calm down and come to terms with the fact that you are in a situation that you have no control over, the first one enters the room. You recognize the familiar shape from movies, stories, and cases that you were never sure if they were real or not and now you get a slap of reality right in the face. At this point I ask, how would you react to it?


Sunday, October 25, 2009

The creature rings twice – A bizarre cryptid sighting from Illinois

Illinois, aside from its metropolitan anchor city of Chicago, reflects a lot of the Midwest in its vast expanses of farmland bordered with forestry relatively untouched by any encroaching development. It is often that places like this yield some of the more fascinating, yet puzzling stories of strange creatures. This story, told to me by my mother years ago and later reiterated during one of our past broadcasts, is no exception.

In the fall of 1966 my mother’s cousin was living in the town of Georgetown, IL. Georgetown’s population at that time was under just a couple of thousand souls and many residents still lived on the old lanes that dotted the perimeter of the town. Many of the houses that edged the city’s limits were set off the main roads, often as much as a quarter of a mile back or further, with long driveways that looked more like service lanes. My mother’s cousin, who we will nickname Barb lived in such a house. Below is a brief retelling of the story from my mother herself in a recent email

“In a small rural town in central Illinois my cousin when she was about 16 was baby sitting late one night around One in the morning when she was walking up to her house after being dropped off. It was very common for houses to have a mile or so long driveway. She had a strange feeling that someone or something was watching her. She picked up her pace and could feel the hairs on her neck prickled up. When she turned around she saw something white and hairy running towards her and she panicked of course and slammed in to the front door, which was left unlocked for her late arrival. She ran upstairs to her parents and was screaming that there was a monster after her. They ran outside and looked to find nothing. Her bedroom was downstairs and she decided to go to bed. She heard a noise outside of her window and when she pulled back the curtains there was a creature with long white hair covering the body except for the facial features staring back at her. When she screamed for her parents it disappeared. It took her a long time to get over this. But the strangest and most disturbing fact is that this story does not end here. Years later after she was married and had two little girls she moved to the edge of Kentucky. Her husband was a avid hunter and gone a lot. They lived in the country and one weekend when her husband was gone on a hunting trip she and her two daughters were alone and heard something outside. They looked and thought they saw something run across the yard but thought that it must have been a deer or whatever. A little while later they heard something again and this time it was on the front porch and when she pulled back the curtains a creature with long white hair and skin type features was pressed against the window pane. She screamed and ran to call the authorities but by the time they arrived it was gone. When she had told me this story we were at her house in Kentucky and I could see that it still was terrifying for her to talk about. She also said that the stare from this creature was not one of curiosity but a devious stare.”

The implications of a multiple sighting spanning decades is interesting to me because of the change in location in this instance. Does this lend itself fmore to the paranormal? We often here of animals being able to cross thousands of miles to return home or find owners who had moved while the animal was out hunting or off the property, but years later? Or was my mother’s cousin, in fact, part of the hunt for this creature? Had it tagged or marked her, returning years later to terrorize her again?


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Greg's Thoughts on Paranormal Activity

The hype surrounding Paranormal Activity has been crazy. The funny thing, about hype is that the reality never quite lives up. Now at this point, two sentences in, you must thinking, “Fuck him, he doesn’t know shit. That movie was great.” Well, you’re right it is a great movie, but did it live up to the “I had to walk out I was so scared” hype? Certainly not. It’s a movie. You know it, and I know it. The demons aren’t going to follow you home from the theater. Did the script and situations, sufficiently immerse you into the characters and settings? In my opinion, they did, but the scares just weren’t THAT scary. Perhaps the cynic in me is just too powerful to let me fall in far enough…..

If you want to scare me you will need two things: A zombie creating agent and some bears to turn into zombies. Now that would be scary. Imagine, your walking through the woods, and you see this nice cuddly baby bear, but somethings not quite right. As you back away behind you a branch falls, when you turn, IT’S MOMMA ZOMBIE BEAR!!!!!


Run for your life, because if there is anything that will live up to the hype, it’s a zombie bear.

Changing it up a bit, do you know what I find fun? Chainsaws. These tools of destruction are immensely fun to turn on unsuspecting trees and hookers. The big problem is the person tells you “Cut here and here” has been the victim of a massive stroke. Do not trust this person’s cuts, otherwise that tree, will fall on your pool. It happened to me.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Just a moment on life and its fleeting spark...

My mother and father are both alive and for that I can barely express how grateful I am. I am lucky. I am also one of those people who tend to take for granted the people that surround them and I doubt that this blog entry will change that, but I hope it might at least make a difference. We often see our own mortality in the strangest of places. I think this year it has been recognized by the passing of entertainers that not only marked our own passage of time, but the passing of an era.

I used to be a crazy Michael Jackson fan when I was a kid. I had the pleather jacket that I wore to school and the Making of Thriller was one of the first things that I watched on our Zenith VCR. Michael's untimely passing has had a way of making people forget the persistent allegations and rumors that supplanted his fame in "later" years. Those same allegations and the plethora of bizarre tendencies made him a less than endearing figure for me and the idea of relating to someone like him is pretty much flat-out, out of the question. I don't think any one of us can imagine a world where a seventy something Jackson still attends the Oscars and tours in support of the next best "Hollywood friendly" presidential candidate. Michael left in much the same bizarre fashion that lived. Untimely death, but not all together surprising. That being said, I doubt we'll ever hear tell of the "everyman" Michael Jackson that would have a beer with a fan or chat up newlyweds at a city hotel. He was a music video, and the rumors, for me, make him hard to mourn.

Easy to mourn for me is "the fighter". Maybe not the classical archetype and not as wise as the "old man" personna, but the fighter has always been that perfect mash-up of Jung's hero and Freud's super-ego for me. We've seen them as well on stage and screen, and we want to be them. As a man who spends more of his life in front of a computer than anything else, it sometimes seems like a biological imperative to throw away the trappings of my monitor and keyboard and brandish a sword or become the drifter martial artist of Swayze's Dalton or Elliots' Garret in Roadhouse. There is a kickassery to that movie that transcends the heartthrob idol that Swayze personified in Dirty Dancing. Thank God for TNT and USA to play Roadhouse ad nauseum. Enough for me for relish in a silly earnestness that makes that little film more than just a b-rate action flick. It was a movie that seemed custom made for my generation and one that left an impression far beyond the one that Kelly Preston left on the wall of that loft. My sister even named fer oldest after the titular character.

It's both easy and difficult to mourn an actor like Swayze. Easy because he seemed like that everyday guy who sorta "fell" into acting. He could have been a parent on my block or just a good looking guy that was at the right place at the right time. He was an easy actor to like, and presumably a kind person that carried his own warmth onto the screen. I didn't know him, but unlike Jackson or Fawcett, I don;t think it would have seemed unrealistic to have known him. Either way, the public came to see him as a fighter of another sort. Tabloids or never kind and they have a way of shoving their own dead pool in your face everytime you have to checkout in your local grocery store. This wasn't a man addicted to plastic surgery or strung out on booze to the point of being unintelligible...this was just a man trying to survive.

Another one of Swayze's movies, Ghost, is probably responsible for more of the public's opinion on the afterlife than our generation would care to admit. It's hard not to transpose the mythology of Zucker's film onto our own imaginings and speculations of what the afterlife might be like. I'm guessing it's visuals have probably been inserted into more paranormal researcher's personal belief system than they would care to admit. Another one of Swayze's films that proved to be a defining pop-cultural hallmark for a generation. My generation. My generation is now among those that spearhead the new paranormal or even "spiritual" movement if we want to call it that. It is, what most people would consider a rather morbid little past-time. One thing that I have recognized is this community's heart and how it is rarely morbidity, and instead a sincere commemoration for those who've passed and longing to understand when and where they might be waiting for us on the other-side. Wherever it is and however we get there, there is I'm sure a warm reception for those we remember, and those we mourn. Rest easy, Johnny Castle. Rest easy, Sam Wheat. Rest easy, Bohdi.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Are We Truly Prepared for Contact: What District 9 Represents

This summer's alien offering, District 9, might have a little more gore and gristle than the typical Independence Day "time to meet the aliens" contact outing, but it also has a message that resonates on a deeper level: if contact is imminent and we are faced with the interstellar pot-luck that contact could imply, are we ready?

The film, which carries a very strong socio-political message about mankind's inability to tolerate and co-exist with the different factions and races within itself, raises a few strong questions that seem to go largely unasked in UFOlogical circles. One of these questions is very simple. Have we celebrated and glamorized the idea of contact to fantastic heights that will undermine the very event itself? What if we aren't looking at Adamski's and Meijer's visitor's. What if we aren't face with the Nordic visages of the Plaeidians? What if, in fact, OUR visitors appear grotesque and not humanoid at all? We as humans seem to have a hard enough time dealing with different colors, even deformities, but what about an extending pair of mandibles or a prehensile tail that can decapitate with the same lethal force as a grizzly bear? What if on top of their appearance they were more agile, stronger, faster, and prone to the same aggressive outbursts that we ourselves are privy too? Some race is bound to circumvent their own extinction sooner or later none the wiser?

Let's suppose that for one moment there is the possibility that they don't come bearing gifts. What if instead of handing out a Sear's Roebuck catalog of new technology and extending the olive branch, solving our problems, they need OUR help. Then we are faced with a slightly new Malthusian argument. What if they are seeking refuge or even sanctuary? What if we are looking at a planet-wide exodus where their surviving numbers increase our own by 20%? 40%? Our scientific pursuits aren't always altruistic. What if we had to divert our research to sustaining a population that explodes instantaneously?

I think a film like District 9 is meant to entertain the audience with sometimes a heavy handed undercurrent of introspection. It uses aliens, explosions and the fantastic, allowing us to look at our own prejudices through the shimmery veil of Hollywood. My final question, and one that might seem as heavy handed as the politic laden District 9, is this: Has the UFO community spun a veil of it's own, leaving us as unprepared and as prone to mistakes as the very real kind of antagonists that make District's conflict not only a plausible one, but perhaps a disappointingly prophetic one?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What Is Wrong With The Mainstream Media?

I just finished watching ABC's Primetime Outsiders special and I am livid. They are not the only ones guilty of this, but that is where I am focusing my anger right now.

First, a major network decides to do a special on abductees and experiencers. Good idea, right? Not if you are the mainstream media. It seems that the entire pupose of the show was to debunk the people that were kind enough to be on and make them look like they are crazy, liars, or as they put it, "charlitans". The only person they interviewed on the show outside of the people that have had the experiences are either very stout non-believers, and one clinical hypnotist that they made look like he was crazy for believing in extraterrestrial life.

Why don't they have proper UFOlogists on? Because that might make these people look legitimate. If these people look legit, then they won't be able to try to turn their special into an episode of the muary povich show. Would it have been that difficult to get people like Timothy Good, Stanton Friedman, or Bill Birnes? Of course not, I have been able to reach out to each of those people at one point or another to get them on our show and we're just an internet radio show, I'm sure they would jump at the chance to be able to express their views on national television, but it will never happen. It won't happen because each of these people are too intelligent for these programs to have on, there is no way that they would be able to make them look silly in front of their viewing audience.

Don't even get me started on that terrible host Juju Chang. You could tell her questions were so passive agressive to make these people look bad it wasn't even funny. She went into it without even trying to believe or even be slightly open-minded about it. I've never seen anyone be so outright condescending in an interview in my life. She should be ashamed at her piss-poor excuse for journalism and throw herself off of a tall building. If I were any of those people and she asked me some of those questions I would have tried to turn it around on her and slam her lack of journalism skills. Of course, that part would have wound up on the cutting room floor, but I would have my own hidden camera going and put it up on youtube. The show should not have been about her or her worthless views. It's about the guests, that is why we have guests that return to our show regularly. We aren't here to debate them, make them look bad, or confront them. We are here to let them talk about their experiences, talk about their subject matter, and tell us their feelings on these extraordanry situations that live has given them, and I promise all guests that we ever have on this show, we will NEVER treat you like that.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Book Review - Dark Force by Bill Bean

I am a fan of the untrained talent; the unrefined voice, the unadulterated vision. There is a purity and a passion to compulsion that practice seems to dilute over time. I think we are often prone to see truth when we are unfettered by the need to critique or analyze the presentation. Although Bill Bean is an adept storyteller, it is not so much his ability to chronicle his experiences that impresses, it is the honesty of his written voice. Dark Force, either way, is an easy read. It rarely lingers on the unimportant tangent and the strength of that focused narrative helps propel the pace ever forward.

Dark Force tells the story of Bill and his family over a harrowing and tumultuous decade of experiences in their Maryland home. For those that are looking for the haunting that “passes strange”, this is one to add to their summer reading list. Bill’s accounts represent the extreme end of the haunting spectrum, one that is often disturbing in its ferocity and evil in its intent. It is the single mindedness of the presence to terrify and ultimately try to destroy the Bean family that separates Bill’s account from many similar hauntings that have been written about by some of his contemporaries. There is no question of purpose when it comes to the entities involved: they sought to maim not only the family’s fate but their physical persons and in may ways succeeded on the latter, which ultimately makes Dark Force a story of survival at its heart.

Dark Force begins during Bill’’s adolescence with the purchase of the house in Maryland, a project for his father, a master carpenter, and the obvious socialite of the Bean troupe. Bill’s father and the way he is affected by the dark presence is reminiscent of the Amityville Horror and the parallels are drawn easily, but never disqualifying the intensity of the events. We are able to get a child’s perspective that not only chronicles the sad, desperate path of the head of the family, but every member in the family. We move from sister to father to mother to son and the evolution of these experiences captures the ever present dread not only of the house and it’s unearthly occupants, but of a boy seeing his family literally torn apart from the inside by something he has no frame of reference to combat.

It is, in fact, Bill’s ability to write with the same emotions that he experienced as his child-self that allows you to sympathize not only with the author now, but look through his eyes as he was younger, and share that same fear and ultimately the hope that transcends the horror of it all.

The Parafactor

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Interstellar Kid Gloves: A Child Abduction Observation

This month marks a year that I have been broadcasting my weekly show on the paranormal. No, this isn’t a shameless plug, and I am guilty of it enough to know when I’m actually NOT doing it. Having the show has afforded me the opportunity to meet many interesting and many opinionated people. It has also helped to lay a baseline of similarities in experiences that I have shared with some of my guests. One guest in particular happened to be Paul Shroeder, a self-proclaimed abductee. Paul’s case, like most abductees starts out weird and graduates to a level of high strangeness that a lot of abductees share that makes their experiences not only hard to categorize even in the paranormal, but often the subject of ridicule in a field that usually frowns upon narrow mindedness.

I rarely relate my own experiences because I have tried to take the focus off of myself not only in interviews with my guests, but because I feel as though I’m on a different journey of discovery right now. I, however, cannot deny when an experience related to me shares some of the same qualities as my own. Like many abductees, Paul Schroeder’s experiences in adulthood have triggered memories reaching back into his childhood. Not unlike Paul, I myself have a childhood memory that has troubled me far into the current stages of my life.

I was raised in a rural part of Illinois, just far enough south of Chicago to practically feel as though we existed in an entirely different country. My father worked third shift as an electrician at a local automotive factory and, like most men his age in that part of the country, basically worked all of the time. We had a single level ranch home at the edge of town at the end of a dead end street. Bordered on one side by the small rural town that served as our community, two cornfields and an old abandoned elementary school fenced us in on the others.

The old school was a magnet to many of the kids living on the three or four blocks surrounding the old edifice. The building itself was off limits, but the old playground was for the most part intact, and inviting to those kids whose parents couldn’t police them enough to keep them off of the property, My parents figured I was close enough to come calling with a skinned knee and let my sister (five years my senior) and I play there almost everyday. Eventually the bond between my sister and myself would wane as boys started to take interest in her and I suddenly became the annoying little. Suffice it to see that playground became more of a gathering place for her and her friends to socialize and less of a place where I would have had the social opportunity of the more often used and approved park on the other side of town. It was close however and close meant more play time and less time to-and-from.

My bedroom was less of a sanctuary than the old playground and I can remember the uneasiness I often felt alone in that room. I was an extremely difficult child to get out of my parents’ bedroom and often suffered bad dreams and night terrors that would land me back in the comfort of their bed, much to their chagrin, I’m sure. I had a closet that always felt particularly suspicious in its ominous and most sinister presence and a window that felt equally malevolent to me. It is the memory of that window, moreso than the closet that serves as muse and monster to me now.

I was no more than seven when my own stranger came calling. My favorite book was an illustrated number called “Grandpa’s Ghost Stories” In retrospect, this might be one of the earliest memories of my fascination with the bizarre. Of course, I can still only speculate if it is cause or effect. I would often have my mother read this book to me and the protagonist’s journey through the spirit world somehow excited my curiosity the way baseball cards did other children. It would not be phantoms that would hijack my fears and feed on my terror, but something else entirely.

I had no reason to wake up from my sleep and look out that window. There was no noise, no light, no reason. I just did. What I saw wouldn’t occupy even a margin note in “Grandpa’s Ghost Stories”. Children typically don’t scare other children unless they’re the school bully or have an illness that isn’t understood by the child brain. Children playing by themselves rarely scare other children at all. Instead, their lack of social brand is often viewed as an opportunity to meet another child or claim a little stake on valuable playground property.

The child that I saw playing outside of my home when I was seven, quite simply shouldn’t have been there. Not alone. Not in the middle of the night. Not looking at me, looking at him. There shouldn’t have been that much light around him. In fact, I couldn’t remember seeing exactly where the light was coming from, it was just there showing me what my eyes couldn’t in the blackness outside my window. As curious as kids are , that curiosity knows little loyalty and jumps from one thing to the next like a lonely fall wind. This child was fixated on me and when he smiled I remembered the animatronic Teddy Ruxpin that my family had purchased for me for X-Mas. It could open its mouth and even tell me a story, but it could never quite match its inflection with its robotic maw. It was a device used to mimic a very human and very simple emotion. It was supposed to endear the toy to the child and become its best friend. That’s easy for a stuffed teddy bear to do with children. They usually don’t even have to talk.

I was glad that this Teddy Ruxpin, standing spotlighted outside of my childhood home had not tried to talk. I think the awkwardness of it might have been too much even for my “Grandpa’s Ghost Stories” kid-brain to wrap itself around. As it stood, I do remember being very confused as if someone had pulled a quarter out from behind my ear; knowing that someone had just played a trick on you that had nothing to do with magic, yet still not knowing how they did it. One thought still permeates the fog between then and now: This is a kid that really isn’t a kid. I felt like I was somehow looking at an adult that had managed to disguise itself as a potential playmate. It had all the coverings of another seven year old, but its motives were far older.

This is where my memory ends and I have no idea where it comes from, or if the event itself escalated at that point in time. I only have assumptions, and they are quite varied.
So as I was listening to Paul Schroeder tell me about his experience as a child, I felt that same recognition that as different as these experiences might be in context, there are similarities that although offer little in the way of answers, might at least give clues to motive in method and process.

The abduction experience among children has some defining characteristics similar amongst experiencers. While most scenarios in the adult years are often frightening and nightmarish, the approach to children seem to be different, if not somewhat, still awkward. Children seem to be drawn into the experience, being allowed to slightly acclimate themselves to the dream like quality of the event, often looking out of a window or down a flight of stairs. Adults on the other hand, are definitely thrust into the “kid gloves are off” arena of experience. This raises a lot of questions.

I find it hard to believe that the differences here are based on any sensitivity on part of the entities. I have come to suspect that although these powerful forces are capable of emotion, it is usually of ill temperance. What then would be the provocation to adjust the methods that, albeit take no account of the subject’s well being, seem to be an across the board used routine for the adults of our species? Maybe we’ve been approaching this from the wrong direction. Maybe it’s not a misplaced politeness on the part of our invasive little visitors, but a much warranted apprehension.

What if the process of child abduction and the way it tends to vary from adult abduction is not so much preferential as precautionary? This certainly separates the sentiment from the sentient with our hosts, but it definitely follows in line with their cold and pragmatic behaviors. Again, this might not be leading us to any new answers, but it might start us on the road to asking the right questions.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Redesigning the Studio: part 2

Redesigning the Studio: part 2


Things are coming along well with the studio and it's making us more and more psyched the more we work on it and it's really beginning to look like a proper studio. We're going to be spending more time on it this weekend to see how close to completion we can get it. Anyway, here's the part you guys have been waiting for. PICTURES!!

Check back next week for more updates!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Redesigning the Studio


We've decided that it's time for us to take off our boyhood and put on our manhood. We are going to take down the Lord of the Rings swords and Ash's hat display and turn this into a full fledged studio. I've attached some before pictures and we will keep you updated on all of the changes that are being made as they go in. I also want to give a huge thank you to Carol at for some great advise she has given us to create the look we need. Check out her blog, she's done some amazing work.

The Wall of Swords (and a guitar)

Watch out! Marks got Andurl!

Ash on a break

Friday, February 6, 2009

ParaWeeks in Review

1-30-09 and 2-6-09

Yes, I know, I missed last weeks ParaWeek. But you get a two-fer this week. Last week we had an amazing experience with Charles Peden talking about pets and his psychic connection with them, and we even have an update on that. He had mentioned to our caller (Ash's mom HA) that one of her cats was having a problem with her back teeth,so she took it in to get it checked and mentioned to the vet to check that and it turned out he was spot on once again. Last night we made a big announcement of our new co-hosts, that's right, plural. We announced that Mike Gorney that has been on the past few episodes with us will be joining us along with Jacqueline LeClair A.K.A. Jackie. Jackie was with us last night to perform an on air hypnosis with me. It was a very interesting feeling. It felt as if I was in the state between waking and sleeping where you hear everything that is going on around you but you are not quite awake. Only time will tell if it worked or not.

So what has been going on in the Paranormal news for the past couple of weeks? Look into that with our good friends at It seems that Jennifer Love Hewitt has managed to make contact with her deceased grandmother. Sure you may be thinking "oh, Mark, she just has a show called Ghost Whisperer". Nope, real life ghost wisperer James Van Praagh (I always thought that was an unnecessary use of an extra "a") seems to have got her on the line and transferred her over to Jennifer. I can only imagine what the long distance bill will be. Also it appears that ParaFactor friend Adam Davies has returned from his expedition to The Himalayans in search of the Yeti for Monster Quest. It seems that there was some injury there, we won't go into how severe it may be, but we'll try to get him on the show to promote Monster Quest and maybe talk about the cum monkey again. Also it seems that there were twice as many UFO sightings in the UK with a whopping 285 for 2008 stomping all over 2007's count of 135.

We've got some great shows lined up for you in the next few weeks. Next Thursday the 12th we've got Frank Joseph coming on to talk about Atlantis and other lost civilizations, and on the 19th we've got P.M.H. Atwater on to talk about near death experiences! We're looking forward to it!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The John Palifox Key Mystery/Hoax Part 3

…they were watching a Dickensian paranormal epic unfold.

Ferabo or Leguay appeared on the JPK forum scene a little over two months after the initial post. He knew latin and would captivate the other posters with his well…latin. Apparently knowing latin is as good as a mensa membership in the internet world, so no one questioned Leguay’s intentions or his actual existence for that matter.

Before I let my entire train of thought derail I have to inject an observation. For those of you that have seen the movie Good Will Hunting, I think you’ll know where I’m coming from. When Will (Matt Damon) is involved in a conversation with Robin Williams’ character over the strength of his intellect, Will’s Achilles heel is revealed: although he is learned, it is a book smart based intelligence that has rarely seen the outside of a library or bookstore. There was something about Ferabo’s posts that rang of this exchange and it stuck with me the entire time. For those less cinematically versed, let’s imagine Homer claiming he was Ulysses and writing under the pseudonym Achilles…which now brings us back full circle.

So Ferabo, battle hardened scholar and armchair adventurer, played an interesting and integral role as our protagonist. I say interesting because I felt the “development” of the character was crucial to the stories ongoing draw. Ferabo was initially played as a skeptic. Sure, his belief in JPK and his book were real and unwavering, BUT, he questioned the validity of the statements and overall ideas of the author. This is a very important facet for a character, especially if you’ve just paid your 199.95 for Joseph Campbell’s Build- A- Hero course. Taking the focus off of the debate of the actual crux of the story and placing it on other details gives the reader a choice that is immediate and yet imperceptive. To follow the story and its new offshoot, you are conceding to the story’s foundation. It’s a great device that leaves the starting gate so far in it’s wake that the principles of the story itself are no longer questioned; midgets, upright reptiles, die-hard Latinists all inclusive.

So we have a hero, a supporting cast and a goal (Childe Rolande’s quest for the ever elusive Dark Tower), but where is our opposition ahhh….the plot develops at the same time as what some might call an “alternate reality game” construct starts to weave itself into the narrative. The opposition becomes the very skepticism that was so craftily avoided through the lynchpin role of Ferabo. To now question the very essence of the plot is to remove the momentum of new insights and debates that drives the engaging heart of the story itself; and engaging is exactly what it had become. By now we had our gnomes, upright lizards ,our bumbling, yet masterminding professor (sorry kids, no Flubber), a repentant gnome murdering biker (yepper) and a leather-bound book that also served as a passport to Middle Earth…but, all tired kitchen sink jokes aside, we seem to be missing something: a vast conspiracy that extends to the ends of the earth and just possibly…one with implications so vast that it can shatter the very core of the guardians of our future…topless dancers!!!

(continued in part 4)

Friday, January 23, 2009

ParaWeek in Review

What an amazing show we had last night. Michelle Dresbold was able to give a pretty good profile of me just based on a paragraph that I had written and my signature. What an amazing woman, and a cutie too. For those of you that missed it, go to our past shows section and download it, you won't be disappointed.

In the news this week from our friends at there is a video that CNN captured before the inaguration of a UFO flying behind the Washington Monument. It's a pretty cool video, it can be found at Also, Loren Coleman has discovered hobbits and Jesus and Mary decided to make yet another appearnce... this time in a Lava Lamp.

Tune in next Thursday when we have animal psychic Charles Peden and he will talk about animal depression, how animals think, and his special that will be on the Travel Channel next friday. See ya then!


Friday, January 16, 2009

ParaWeek in Review

This week has turned out pretty good for us, we got some press on Anomalist with Ash's John Palifox Key story and we had Jesse Marcel Jr on the show last night to talk about the Roswell crash and his fathers experience in the military prior to the wreckage. We also had a couple of more auditions and lined up a couple more so that process is still going on in case any of you are interested.

Also in the news this week we have had NASA admit that there is some form of life existing on Mars, Obama is set to be briefed on the existence of UFO's and Extraterrestrial life, there were "V" shaped objects flying over Chicago, and to top it all off, MosterQuest is about to go on the first Yeti expedition of the year. Just two weeks into the New Year and it's already shaping up to be an exciting one.

And to end the weekly blog this week I want to give a huge thank you to Jesse Marcel Jr. for coming on the show. Also, raise your glasses for Khan and Number 6, better known as Ricardo Montalbon and Patrick McGoohan, you'll both be missed. Cheers!


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The John Palifox Key Mystery/Hoax Part 2

A central figure emerged throughout most of the posts on that went by the handle FERABO. This personality was unassuming at first and like most message posters went on at great lengths about how his opinions were nothing short of god’s law and should be taken as such. If there is one thing the internet has taught me is that there is a virtual smorgasboard of undiscovered geniuses out there that can literally change our lives if only we listen to them unquestioningly. Ferabo was no exception: a smart guy who wanted everyone to know it.

The forum posts that went well into the thousands surrounding the subject detailed one woman’s account while driving on a business trip that took her directly into the “JPK Zone”. According to her story, while driving she was suddenly thrust into another reality where she witnessed small lizard-like and gnome-like beings carrying or “farming” these weird fruits with sharp geometric structures or possibly large D20 D&D dice, which would explain a lot. These misplaced LARPers were aware of her presence but didn’t seem to be entirely impressed with it, going about their business. Fortunately for her and their roll of increased strength and indifference to interdimensional traveling salesmen, she popped back into her own dimension. Distraught over her little blip into Oz, the forum poster went on to ask for anyone who had similar accounts or any advice to her her a holla. Enter John Palifox Key, Proofs of My Return and Ferabo..

ApacheUnger’s (the experiencer’s monicker) original post was simply her cry for help over her episode in rural Michigan: a harrowing tale of midgets and strange fruit north of the Motor City; the stuff most harrowing tales are made of. The book however changes all of that when it is introduced adding yet another layer to the story and injecting the first dose of “pre-existing mythology”. Now we have an anchor. This anchor not only dropped with a resounding thud in the forefront of the casual forum poster’s imagination, it carried them down into the very murky depths of obsession.

But, in true Highlander fashion, “Kurgan!!!”…er….”there can be only one!!!” and Ferabo stepped up to the plate. Ferabo, who would later become known as Joel or Joey painted himself a patriot and veteran that had a wealth of experience traveling the world on Uncle Sam’s dime. He talked of foreign conflicts and American history with a grizzled zeal and confidence that gave his every post an air of legitimacy, albeit tinged with arrogance. The persona of Leguay grew and soon he became the archetypal hero of the forum, taking a personal quest to investigate the mystery himself. Now mind you, Leguay had a cast of supporting characters: the distraught accidental daytripper taking her place now sidestage as well as others, all questing for the ultimate truth to the JPK enigma. It was involving and the posts were frequent enough that the casual reader felt that they were watching a Dickensian paranormal epic unfold... (continued in part 3)

Monday, January 12, 2009

The John Palifox Key Mystery/Hoax Part 1

The John Palifox Key Mystery/Hoax

I have been known to take my interests and curiosities to the extreme. This is not something that I feel deserves reproach or praise. It’s just how my brain does business. Those same business practices started a two year odyssey of stupidity/revelation revolving around a little known internet hoax/game that went by the name of John Palifox Key.

At the time I first heard of Key and the mysterious tome he had aledgedly written while teaching at Emory University, I was working data entry for a small German camera manufacturer. The job was an exercise in repetition and although the menial, thought robbing clicks of my tasks drained me of most thought and ambition, the work load was ebb and flow and I was afforded time to randomly search the internet. A good deal of this was spent meandering lazily through stock photo sites as I was going to school for design at the time. NOTE: I was actually going to school for animation, but seeing as I am now a designer by necessity saying that I went for design lessens the blow a little. This usually resulted in me putting in softcore porn phrases and ogling the models on any number of stock photography sites….all in the name of art, you have to understand.

When I wasn’t concealing my little searches for “muscular female calves” I was also visiting paranormal forum sites…because we all know that softcore fetish porn and alien abduction accounts go together like pb&j. What I found, besides the fact that 3 out of 4 fashion photographers prefer ball gags to good lighting, was an interesting thread concerning a man named John Palifox Key. The Key immediately stuck out as an allusion to the actual work of the man himself and you’ll see why.

Key, for all of his lack of googleness, was pretty popular in small circles for penning a book entitled Proofs of My Return. The book supposedly served as an autobiographical account of Key’s journeys into parallel dimensions, his return and details of “portal” areas where the die-hard interdimensional daytripper could jump ship and live amongst the denizens of the Secondary Alternate realm; aforementioned inhabitants being gnomelike creatures that instantly sparked my interest. I am known to be a little of a Tolkien nerd, so talk of dwarves always sets my nerd phaser to stunned. So stunned I was to learn that a few of these portals were within map’s reach right here in the continental United States. Stunned further was I to learn that I was spending hours of my day researching this. (mind you that data entry is so mind numbingly boring that I would’ve joined Amway or the Jehova’s Witnesses for a brief reprieve) I chose however to scour the message boards for anything that I could find to bring this mystery a little closer to closed for myself.

A central figure emerged… (continued in part 2)

The Parafactor

Friday, January 9, 2009

The ParaWeek in Review


It's been busy here at The ParaFactor studios, auditions, auditions, auditions! We've been looking for someone to fill the 3rd mic spot since the beginning of the year. We're about to finish up the first round of auditions, but if you're in the north Jersey area and want to take a crack at it, use the contact us section of the site and shoot us an e-mail letting us know you're interested.

We had a great show last night with Steven Lachance and I highly recommend everyone goes out and gets his book "The Uninvited" and download the episode once we get it up and just listen to it over and over and over again until our show next week with Jesse Marcel Jr. Speaking of next weeks show, if you want to be prepared for that, get off yer ass and pick up his book The Roswell Legacy!

Finally, we're hoping to get Michelle Dresbold, author of "Sex, Lies, and Handwriting" on the show for the 22nd, she was supposed to be on at the beginning of December to do a handwriting analysis on me, so I'm hoping that we will be able to get that done then. This is just an example of the splendid programming that we have lined up for you. Keep listening for more details and watch this space for all of your ParaFactor news!


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Launching in 5...4...3...2...

Launching in 5...4...3...2...

Ready for liftoff. So it goes when we begin again. As much as I loved the name and the show of The Paranomalists, things were happening that were forcing a change. Anything ranging from people having priorities over the show to the name, as catchy as it is, not being as user friendly as it could be. Just as death metal logos that are so intricate that they are illegible; our name was sort of a sour point as far as people finding us. I loved the name, but Paranomalists is not something that just rolls across the keyboard, it's not something that one is used to saying, and it's not a common term in the dictionary... or in the dictionary at all for that matter. Our numbers were there for downloads on other sites, but I think if people were looking to find our show online and more about our show, it was a little difficult. It also didn't help that there was another show that used the more user-friendly term The Parano
malists. So what do you do?

Ash and I decided to take a look over the situation. We took inventory of what we had and what we have coming up, decided to close the door on The Paranomalists, streamline our production, start holding auditions for 3rd mic, and start The Parafactor running at full speed at the beginning of the year (also it was nice to get a small break from the show to be with our friends and family over the holidays). Luckily we won't have the growing pains that we did with The Paranomalists because we have all of the equipment already, we have the know-how to keep things running smoothly, and we have the connections that we need for what we do. We are listening to older shows and finding what we did that worked and what didn't work and how we can make things even better than it already was.

The Name Game

The hardest part of the whole process so far has been coming up with a name. Do we keep "Para" at the beginning of it, or can we come up with something that covers what we do without that. Then you have to take into consideration about how things look when written and how they sound. For instance, Paraspies sounds cool, like paranormal spies, but how easy would it be to look at it and see par-aspies... ass pies?!? Exactly. ParaPhiles sounded really cool until we decided it would make us seem like we wanted to molest underage ghosts, and ParaSyndicate sounds great, but it's just too long to put on a hat or bumper sticker. We also briefly looked at Para-Guys until we realized that sounded like a homo-erotic porn. Finally after a week and half of thinking of different things and calling each other at all times of the night, we settled on The ParaFactor. Now for the next step that killed a lot of names that we came up with prior... is the URL available. After doing some checking, we discovered that
,, and
were all available. We wanted
, but that is taken. The site that has it looks as if it hasn't been updated in quite some time. I sent an e-mail to the address on the site to try to bargain with him for the URL and offered assistance with coming up with another name and an interview on our show, but he declined. Hopefully one day he will change his mind but until then the offer still stands. So that has been our last few weeks. Check back next week for more news and updates about The ParaFactor!