Monthly Archives: January 2014

Lessons in Photography & Other Nerdly Stuff

 

I wanted to be inspired to blog about something exciting tonight, but it turns out my brain (and my body) is tired from long work days this week. How about some more photography from two new cemeteries? While at the second cemetery, I captured a killer sunset that just took my breath away. I’m not entirely sure I did a great job of capturing it, but it was fun trying. 

 

 

Fifteen minutes later I caught this one with my iPhone in the grocery store parking lot. 

 

 

Back to the cemeteries… Bellerive Gardens in Creve Coeur, Missouri and Thomas Howell Cemetery in St. Charles, Missouri. 

 

 


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While I’m at it, I’d love some constructive criticism from any experienced photographers. I had a chance to talk photography with a colleague at school today. He’s a “retired” administrator and former music teacher who has been doing some long-term subbing in our building. He does photography on the side, and so I took advantage of the opportunity to ask him some of those silly questions that a new photographer might ask when they’re learning lingo and the how-to. You know, like when do I need to switch lenses? What’s ISO? Things like that. I’ve found that he is GREAT at explaining things to me and making me not feel stupid. Ha! (He’s really great at explaining new sound systems too, by the way.) 

 

 

 

A lot of times when I’m shooting in a cemetery, I have the urge to lay on the ground for several shots. If you don’t know me, physically, crawling across the ground, under trees and bushes, and straining to get back up again is not the greatest activity for my back and will almost always result in breaking out the good pain pills. It’s also funny when you stop by the grocery store on the way home and realize you have twigs and leaves clinging to you everywhere. It’s totally worth it, though. 

 

 

Anyway, I’ve suspected this, but I’ve learned that I think I tweak things like the saturation and contrast a little too much in Photoshop Elements. I need to find a balance. You learn as you go, I guess. Here’s the link to most of my favorite recent photos from the new camera.

 

 

 

This was on a grave marker. How cool is that?!

This was on a grave marker. How cool is that?!

 

Question: Do I need a Flickr account, or something similar? Why? Why not? What’s the point of it?

 

 

 

 

Love creative photography? You might also like:

Something Unsettling (KarlPfeiffer.com)

Photos by Randall Keller on Viewbug

 

 


A Song of Spirits (My 300th Post!)

 

Back from CON!

I just returned from a con. (Okay I have to stop there already. I can’t say, or in this case think “con” without chuckling… but I wanted to try it. I can’t even play it off. I attended a music educator’s convention/conference. Is that cool enough to be a “con”? Ha!)

Back to focus. I just returned from a music educator’s conference, which explains my longer than usual absence from the blog world. For years it was an annual event for me, but after an absence of four years, I decided it was time to get back… time to be inspired and refreshed. And as always, this is exactly what happened.

 

Reading Session…

One of the activities or sessions that almost always happens at one of these conferences is called a “reading session”, where groups of music educators, choir directors, and college students get together to sing through various pieces of music. Often it’s new music, but not always. It’s a way for directors to hear the pieces in performance and get ideas for programming concerts. Often times it’s just people who love to sing and look forward to making beautiful music with other fellow choir nerds.

 

Spirits

So here I am sitting on the floor (on the floor because it was so packed) in a JWPepper reading session led by the wonderful Cheryl West. As an adult man who spends his days singing middle school soprano and alto all day (Yes. It’s true.),  I don’t often have the opportunity to sing with adults, and I forget what it’s like to sing with my adult male voice with other adults. Singing next to a friend and colleague, I was really enjoying myself. Then Cheryl moved on to the next piece, a piece called Spirits, written by Douglas Beam (along with some additional text), with text by William Shakespeare. I was not taking notes, and so I wouldn’t want to take the chance of getting details wrong in this post, but Cheryl told us of the touching and sad true story that inspired this piece to be written. The whole time I was thinking Wow! How long have I been waiting for a piece like this?! Most of my students know that I’m a card-carrying paranormal nerd, and I just knew they’d get a kick out of this song. Finally, a way for two of my biggest passions, if only for a few months during part of my day, to collide. I knew I was going to purchase it before I even heard it.

 

Some of the text from the piece:

 

By the moon we sport and play, with the night begins our day,
As we dance the dew doth fall, Gather little spirits all!

Lightly as the little bee, two by two and three by three, 
and about we go, and about go we!

They whisper so softly a sweet refrain. 
Their voices surround me. They speak my name!
I reach out to touch them, I stretch my hand. 
Their figures slip through me like grains of sand. 

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See the video below for a recent performance of the piece.

 

 

300!

Now if you’ll please allow me to be distracted by the passing chicken, this is also my 300th post! I simply cannot believe it, yet I can. It’s a big deal, right? Many blogs don’t get close to 300, and when I started out on February 5, of 2012, I never dreamed I’d get to that number. I can’t lie and say that every post came organically or easy, and I know it’s continuously growing and changing, but as I approach that two-year blogiversary in less than two weeks, I can promise you that I have loved every minute of the ride. The wonderful people I’ve met and the experience I’ve gained was not something I saw happening at the beginning of this journey. I thank you all! 

Peace!

PK

 

 

 


Tales of the City, New EVP, Lizzie Borden, and 300!

I’m having one of those unmotivated, yet excited, but distracted “look there goes a chicken” weeks. I decided that this evening I wouldn’t fight it. So… here’s a plethora of bloglish for you! 

 

A.   Armistead Maupin’s The Days of Anna Madrigal hit shelves today and also arrived ON MY DOORSTEP!

Why are you bugging us about this non-paranormal book, you ask? Let me explain. It must have been about eight years ago when an ex of mine had inspired me to start reading the Tales of the City series. Reading was something I absolutely never did unless I was getting a grade for it, and I could count every book I’d read for pleasure my whole life on one hand and still have a few fingers left. I agreed to borrow the first book just to humor him. I absolutely fell in love with it, which led to me finishing the first six books from the series. I was shocked to find that I was quickly becoming obsessed with reading. For that first year I read a book a week, on average, though mostly fiction titles. Then the seventh “Tales” book, Michael Tolliver Lives, was written a year later, followed by Mary Ann in Autumn a year or two after that, and now the ninth and final volume (according to Mr. Maupin himself) is sitting right next to me! 

Obviously, I read almost all paranerdal non-fiction now, and I’ve slowed down quite a bit (due to family, investigations, sitting in this chair and blogging), but it is all due to my ex and the brilliant Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin. My current “to be read” shelf has been put on hold for the time being. Reading about and catching up with Anna Madrigal will be a special moment.

 

2.   Cemetery recordings and two possible EVP artifacts.

For the first half of my visits for my grave adoptions this last fall, I took an audio recorder along, which is pretty typical for me. This week I finally made my way through those recordings. It seems as though no historic cemetery (at least the ones I find) managed to escape the noisiness of our new modern highways and interstates. It is sometimes hard to imagine many of them being secluded in the quiet country as they were intended. More and more I’ve realized that our society has been shoving cemeteries aside, like we’re ashamed of them or don’t know what to do with them. How do I know? People still comment in disgust or confusion as to why I spend so much time visiting or taking photos from the cemetery. Lately my answer has been… Why not?! Basically, not too many people care to even notice that they’re driving right by these cemeteries, as beautiful headstones cling to life on the edge of a retaining wall meant to separate the living from the dead.

Sorry. One of those “look there goes a chicken” moments. Back to my recordings. In much of the audio, you can’t even hear my voice over the traffic. I even captured a big rig blowing a tire while I was visiting Johnnie. I’m not sure if he jumped, but the birds in the trees next to us didn’t like it. Truthfully, I’m sure I jumped at least a few feet in the air. From all of the photos I’ve been taking, you’d never know these beautiful and historic plots of land were so noisy.

So because of all the noise, I decided that for the remainder of the visits I’d focus on what really mattered and leave the recorder in the car. It’s a wonder I was able to catch two possible EVP artifacts from my visits with Johnnie. Honestly, I probably would have written the first two-syllable muffled voice off if it hadn’t been captured again two weeks later at the same instant (as I was turning and leaving). They both sound very similar. Now the fact that they’re similar and happen at the same time on two different visits is impressive, but could also mean there’s likely to be some explanation. I haven’t decided if I’ll share them or not. I’ve learned my lesson on getting excited about an EVP and sharing it right away. Plus, I’ve been away from EVP for a while and may be out of practice. More to come. Maybe.

 

C.   Lifetime’s Lizzie Borden movie airs Saturday.

This past July, I shared news that Christina Ricci had just finished filming a Lifetime movie about the infamous (and alleged) ax murderess, Lizzie Borden! It finally airs this Saturday! Watch this preview!

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4.   My next post will be number 300!

300?!

I don’t even know what to say about this one. 300 is a big deal, right?! It is so unbelievable to me! What does one write about for his 300th post?! 

Thanks for reading! Peace!

 

 


Another Visit to Gumbo

 

This afternoon I made another visit to Gumbo Cemetery in Chesterfield, Missouri. I hadn’t been there yet with the new camera, and I was excited to get more practice in! This cemetery is the resting place of Clara, from my Grave Adoption series. All photos taken with the Canon Rebel T3i and a prime 50mm f/1.4 lens.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The back of Clara’s headstone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You might also like:

A New Lens and a New Cemetery (Big Séance)

Learning Curve and the First Shots with my New Camera (Big Séance)

Christmas Eve at Machpelah Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri (Big Séance)

Oak Grove Cemetery, St. Charles, Missouri (Big Séance)

 

 


Dream Haven

I’m curious. Do any of you have your own personal oasis or room that you go to in your head for meditation purposes, for example? I recall seeing exercises or being prompted in a canned meditation to go to that very personal Zen space. Maybe from there you meet your guide or passed loved ones. Perhaps some of you use this imaginary space strictly for those “Calgon take me away” moments. Some choose nature for their space. A bench in the park, a meadow, a fountain, or perhaps a recreation of the Other Side. My space had always been a room, perhaps a tiny cottage up in the clouds, nothing fancy, some comfortable furniture, some candles. It loosely resembled the living room of the house where I lived for most of my childhood. The last time I was in this imaginary space, I was led there by a medium during a séance. For some reason an indoor space is easier for me to design and recreate in detail when I need it.

 

I continue to make my way through Michelle Belanger’s Psychic Dreamwalking (which is absolutely fascinating so far, by the way), and she guides the reader through creating a “dream haven”. This idea reminded me of my personal space for meditation, only in this case, Michelle suggests using it as a starting point to get to your dream space. It can be a personal haven meant only for you, or it could also be used as a meeting area for those invited into your dream space.   

 

I had some quiet time during a study hall today and I decided to get the book out to read a few pages. With Michelle’s help, and using my imagination, within ten or fifteen minutes I’d moved out of my old space and creatively designed a dream haven so beautiful and perfect for me! I only wish I was an artist and could paint the picture for you. The fireplace is unbelievable and so it’s always warm and cozy. The best part? There’s no need for wallpaper since nearly every inch of the walls are decorated with books. It takes me back to another time! I can’t wait to practice visiting my dream haven! 

 

Please share! Do you have a dream haven or something similar? 

 

© Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar / CC-BY-SA-3.0

© Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar / CC-BY-SA-3.0

 

You might also like:

Dreamwalking with Lady Gaga (Big Séance)

 

 


Dreamwalking with Lady Gaga

Photo Source: http://www.flickr.com/people/ryanjreilly/ (Creative Commons)

Photo Source: http://www.flickr.com/people/ryanjreilly/ (Creative Commons)

No one will ever believe this, but I’ve been hanging out with Lady Gaga. She moved in down the street. Oh she’s not the Lady Gaga you’re used to seeing… she’s here for the peace and quiet during her down time, so she wears the typical A-Lister disguises. It doesn’t take much though really, because without all the makeup and costumes meant to shock, she doesn’t look much like her character at all. She almost fits in. Yesterday we took a long walk through the neighborhood, acted goofy, took selfies, and I find out that we’ve actually been Facebook friends for a few years now, but I never knew since she goes by another name on social media. How crazy and random is that?! Today she’s back at it though, and she texted me a photo of herself backstage in a crazy costume–business as usual–just before it was time to greet her massive screaming audience.  

I know it’s hard to believe. It’s so exciting though. I think I’ll call her now to… 

 

Wait… I hear my alarm… I mean I think that’s my alarm. Yup… a soft harp accompanied by an obnoxious buzz. I can’t wait to tell people I hung out all day with…  Oh no! This is the morning I have to be up at 5:30am! That’s NOW! Am I NOT really neighborhood buds with Gaga? That’s unfortunate. But why Lady Gaga, anyway? She’s definitely not a topic that pops up in my daily discussions. What was I reading before bed? Oh yeah, Psychic Dreamwalking by Michelle Belanger.

 

Hey Gaga! You weren’t reading the same book last night, were you? I don’t suppose there’s a chance you remember me?

 

When I mentioned my crazy and random dream to Michelle Belanger on Twitter, she said “My dreaming life has never been the same since writing that. It was active before, but now even more so.” Good to know! I only started the book. Can’t wait to see what’s next. 

 

You might also like: 

Christina Ricci as Lizzie Borden on Lifetime? (Big Séance)

Being Able To Read In Your Dreams (Big Séance)

A fascinating sketch, from what I remember (Big Séance)

Dreaming of Flying… and Dogs? (Big Séance)

 

 

 

 


The Uninvited: The True Story of the Union Screaming House

The Uninvited: The True Story of the Union Screaming House by Steven LaChance (2008), is about a man’s experiences with a haunted house in a small Missouri town during a several year time period in the early 2000s. I was unfamiliar with Steven or the “Screaming House” in Union until this book showed up in an Amazon.com book search. Being from Missouri, I figured it was something I should definitely check out. 

In the beginning, the book focuses a lot on Steven (the author), who is a hardworking single father struggling to make it with three children. After moving from one disappointing rental to another, they manage to find what seems to be a dream home for their family… and this is where the real story starts. I am a person that reads a lot of books that would keep most people up at night, but I don’t usually have any issues. The activity that LaChance describes was enough to keep me from reading before bed. It does tend to be a little heavy on the demonic, and things like oppression and possession, but one thing I liked was that the author was really honest in describing those experiences and his opinions.  

After reaching his limit of paranormal activity, the author finally moved his family out of the haunted home, but activity seemed to follow them, often in the form of nightmares. Fate also seemed to arrange for Steven to meet Helen, the next renter (or victim?) of the home. He felt the need to help her to find answers with the ongoing activity. In doing so, they formed a close relationship, and Steven ended up forming Missouri Paranormal Research (which I believe is now Paranormal Task Force), and the group seemed to spend an exhaustive amount of time investigating in the home. From there, the story focuses on Helen and the extreme experiences she goes through, including signs of possible oppression and possession, threatening both homicide and suicide, and even spending a short amount of time in a mental health facility. Steven seemed to talk himself through the thoughts that I was having while reading. Was she truly being affected somehow by some kind of demonic entity from the house, or was she purely having a psychological breakdown?  

One thing is for sure. You won’t be bored with the twists and turns in the story. 

For Steven’s website, click HERE. For a pictorial tour of the Union Screaming House, click HERE.

 

Author’s bio from the book cover:

Steven LaChance (Missouri) is co-host, with Denice Jones, of the popular Internet radio show Haunted Survivor. He appeared in the documentary film Children of the Grave and his story was featured on The Discovery Channel’s A Haunting. His experiences at the Union screaming house inspired him to form the Missouri Paranormal Research Society.

 

You might also like: 

The Spirits of Ouija: Four Decades of Communication (Big Séance)

The Spirits of Ouija: Four Decades of Communication (Big Séance)

Chip Coffey's "Growing Up Psychic" (Big Séance)

Chip Coffey’s “Growing Up Psychic” (Big Séance)

Vintage: A Ghost Story (for the gay teen in your life) (Big Séance)

Vintage: A Ghost Story (for the gay teen in your life) (Big Séance)

 

 

 


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