Tag Archives: paranormal television

The Amazing Karl Pfeiffer – The Big Seance Podcast #86

In Interview with Karl Pfeiffer on paranormal tv, orbs, the stanley hotel, and his photography - The Big Seance Podcast: My Paranormal World #86 - BigSeance.com

 

An interview with Karl Pfeiffer, the multitalented photographer, novelist, and ghost hunter. We cover his time on Syfy’s Ghost Hunters Academy, as well as his thoughts on paranormal TV. We bravely tackle the polarizing topic of orbs! Plus his experiences from leading ghost tours at the Stanley Hotel, and the inspiration for his photography! 

 

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I’m Baaaaaaaaaack!

 

I’m back from the greatest and most eventful spring break I’ve had in years… and maybe ever! But I’ve been itching to get back to this computer, since I’ve never had such a long absence from this blog! I have so much to share with you, including TONS of photos and stories from my T.A.P.S. and Chip Coffey weekend at Belvoir Winery  in Liberty, Missouri… but I feel I should share chronologically. Plus, I just now got back home and must now return to a busy real life tomorrow, and I have much to go through in order to work up some Belvoir posts. I’m so excited though, because I have plenty to share, including meeting more para-celebs and some great new friends! Also, perhaps some video clips from our large group investigation from Saturday night! So stay tuned…

 

 

THE PARANORMAL PORTION OF THIS POST

So here’s a little update. I wrote the first part of this post yesterday and intended to publish it last night. I’ve been recovering from a cold and some kind of a bug since returning from Cancun. Suddenly in the middle of this post, I began getting chills that within an hour became more intense than I’ve ever experienced. It was horrible. I stood in a hot shower for a ridiculous amount of time, and when I forced myself to get out, I curled up in blankets on the bed. I couldn’t get warm enough. As I began to shiver myself to sleep, I either straight up hallucinated or dreamed that I had physically jumped inside my iPhone (not easy for a fat man) and was cruising through my Facebook feed. So… very… bizarre. I ultimately ended up sleeping for a few hours and woke up at bedtime, of course. Was I visited by the ghost of Montezuma? Did Trixie at Imos add some fairy dust to my pizza? (Oh you KNOW I’m totally going to put “fairy” and “faery” in the tags to this post now.)  I really don’t know, and I’m feeling much better today, but I stayed home from school to be sure (after several late night hours of creating substitute teacher plans, of course). One thing is certain, last night was not fun. 

 

THIS CONCLUDES THE PARANORMAL PORTION OF TODAY’S PROGRAMMING

For now, though it’s not very paranormal, I wanted to share a few photos from our spectacular trip to Cancun, Mexico! For the rest of my artsy-fartsy Cancun photos, feel free to visit my Flickr page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Greetings from the Smoky Mountains! (Big Séance)

Two Smoky Mountain Cemeteries (Big Séance)

 

 


Danvers State Insane Asylum and Session 9

Yesterday I watched Session 9 (from my list of movies I plan on checking out this fall), a movie filmed on location at the Danvers State Hospital/Insane Asylum in Danvers, Massachusetts. I’m not sure where I was when this film was released in 2001, but I was a different kind of nerd then, and this film just wasn’t on my radar, I guess. I enjoyed it, though I have to tell you it put me in a funk for a few hours. It belongs in the psychological horror genre, but less emphasis should be placed on the horror and more on the PSYCHOLOGICAL! The plot of the film, according to the movie’s IMDb page: “Tensions rise within an asbestos cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital with a horrific past that seems to be coming back.” But the cool thing is that the parts of the story that pertain to the hospital itself are loosely based on real history and events.

For most of the movie, like a true paranerd, I couldn’t stop obsessing about the building, wondering what they added, what they didn’t, etc. I also couldn’t get my mind off of the fact that the place doesn’t exist anymore (more on that later.) If you’re brave, continue reading the somewhat bi-polar thoughts that came out of my fingers after the movie and after researching Danvers State Hospital all day.

 

Danvers State Hospital/Insane Asylum 

800px-Danvers_State_Hospital,_Danvers,_Massachusetts,_Kirkbride_Complex,_circa_1893

Construction on the site began in 1874 and opened to patients in 1878. Like most asylums and hospitals of this type and age, it has a complicated, sad, unbelievable, and depending on the decade, even a criminal history. Most of the infamous and inhumane treatments and methods were practiced here at one time or another, including shock therapy and lobotomies.

By the 1960s, a combination of controversy and budget cuts caused Danvers to begin shutting down sections of the hospital. For the most part, by 1985 the whole campus was closed and abandoned.

In the DVD’s special features, Brad Anderson (writer/director) and Stephen Gevedon (writer) explain that they had Danvers in mind before they even started writing the script. They also mentioned that they racked their brains trying to figure out exactly how they were going to tell the story in this building, meaning why in the world would anyone be in an abandoned asylum? This is a great example of life just before, or at least in the infancy of what I’ve always referred to as the great paranormal craze. How quickly we paranerds forget what life was like before Jay and Grant and the T.A.P.S. team. It is difficult for me to comprehend this, but Ghosthunters didn’t premier on SyFy until 2004. Clearly, if this script were being written today, asbestos would still be an issue, but they would have used a paranormal investigation team, armed with plenty of night vision and oxygen masks, to tell the story.

**RANT WARNING**
Now I know, I know… I’ve mentioned this before, but every paranormal investigator in the world likes to claim that Ghosthunters on SyFy had no influence on what they do in the field. I’m here to tell you that 99% of them are lying. It is accurate to say that paranormal investigation was not invented by Jay and Grant. It is accurate to say that a few of you may have been in the field before 2004 (like 2 of you, perhaps). However, it is also correct to say that approximately eleventy-thousand new paranormal teams and paranormal television shows have popped up since Jay and Grant popped on the scene. Whether or not the craze is truly a great thing is a topic for debate. I’ve got to be honest, though. I owe them a lot for really changing my life and my interests, and I’m giving them props where props are due. **RANT OVER**

Now cut to December of 2005, four years after Session 9 was released. Despite a brave fight by local groups and community members trying to preserve the enormous acreage of the Danvers hospital campus and its unique history, demolition began. In its place is now an Avalon apartment community. Can you believe it?!

I can’t help but think that perhaps if they would have been able to hold off for just another year or two, enough interest would have grown to somehow save this strange, embarrassing, yet fascinating and physically beautiful landmark. Now days all it takes is a visit from SyFy or the Travel Channel to put a place back on the map, turning it into a paranormal tourist spot. Many similar locations have been saved, at least for now, by funds that are raised by leading tours or by paranormal groups paying to investigate. See Waverly Hills Sanatorium as an example. I have mixed feelings on all of this, however, and I know it hits some ethical nerves of some of my readers. In my opinion, the great paranormal craze has its side effects, one of them being tons of paranormal groups trampling through historical buildings, tearing things up, and riling up spirits. These groups will leave their trash, their “trigger objects”, and their energy behind. (I have to include myself in “these groups”, by the way. I told you this was somewhat bi-polar.) And then 30 years later, will we be investigating an old asylum or a historic former paranormal training facility? What about the investigators who will have died during that time period? Those paranerds LOVE these places and the memories they made there. Are they now hanging out there for eternity too? Ha! I know I’m being silly, but it all just gets weird for me. But… at least this way a historic location has a fighting chance, right?

Hollowed out facade of the central part of the main Danvers building.

Hollowed out facade of the central part of the main Danvers building.

So let’s get back to the demo and that mean old Avalon company and the apartment community, which I believe was completed in 2007. Interestingly, of the massive hospital campus, which consisted of an enormous main building (shaped like a bat) and several outer buildings (click HERE for an aerial photo), the facade of a small central portion of the main building was saved (see photo to the right). Though this portion was hollowed out, leaving only the front face of the building, I have to say, what they attached to it looks pretty cool to me. There are several other buildings and typical apartment units now on site, but apparently some of them are in the ominous “new” asylum building. Check the Avalon site HERE for cool interior photos. (On a related note, check out the former Michigan Insane Asylum, which is now residential condos, office, and retail space.)  Part of me thinks it is completely annoying and greedy for a company to come in and do this and then fake us out with a phony tiny portion of a Danvers building. But that’s silly, right? Why should a place stay abandoned, damp, and dark, with endless walls of peeling 1960s hospital green paint? Another part of me thinks it’s a really cool way to preserve at least a portion of Danvers, in a way that only a big company with big money can do. Another part of me thinks ARE THESE RESIDENTS CRAZY?! WHO WOULD MOVE IN THERE?!

………………………..and then the last remaining part of me wants to move in there. 

The new Avalon community building attached to the facade.

The new Avalon community building attached to the facade.

 

Clearly I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I’d REALLY love to hear from residents of this new Avalon community. What are the chances of this post finding someone who lives in the new faux Danvers building? Contact me!

 

My resources for this rambling post:

Session 9 DVD Special Features & Commentary

http://www.danversstateinsaneasylum.com/home.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danvers_State_Hospital

http://www.avaloncommunities.com/massachusetts/danvers-apartments/avalon-danvers/pictures/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0261983/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Session_9

 

You might also like: 

Rosemary's Baby (1968 (Big Séance)

Rosemary’s Baby (1968 (Big Séance)

The Milton Schoolhouse, Alton, IL (Big Séance)

The Milton Schoolhouse, Alton, IL (Big Séance)

Papa Jack's Pizza: Final Investigation Report (Big Séance)

Papa Jack’s Pizza: Final Investigation Report (Big Séance)

There's Just Something Romantic About a Staircase  (Big Séance)

There’s Just Something Romantic About a Staircase (Big Séance)


My thoughts on the ‘American Horror Story: Coven’ Premier

Just one of many creepy promo posters for American Horror Story: Coven.

Just one of many creepy promo posters for American Horror Story: Coven.

Well tonight was a big night for a lot of paranerdal folks. Not only did we get to see the mid-season premier of Ghost Hunters (in their 9th season), but a growing audience of fans got to see the much-anticipated premier of American Horror Story: Coven. I wanted to leave you with just a few of my thoughts on these wicked witches before heading to bed for another insane day of work.

I’ve been looking forward to this season since the first rumors of a witch plot began to spread. Endless articles and reviews have been written in anticipation of the series, but other than watching all of the promos as they were released, due to work and being busy I hadn’t really read too much about it. It wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be, but that’s not a bad thing. I was pleasantly surprised… and I think I’m going to LOVE it! Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, and Frances Conroy are simply going to rock my world! No pressure, ladies!

SPOILER ALERT (if you haven’t seen episode one yet.)

The LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans.

The LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans.

Even after watching the first half of the episode, with all of the slavery and torture, and even after seeing the famous LaLaurie Mansion (well known to most paranerdal folks) and knowing much of its history, it took me several minutes to begin to put two and two together. Duh! The LaLaurie Mansion and the real life Madame Delphine LaLaurie will apparently play a major part in the story this season. Maybe this is old news by now, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it, and it is why I’m even more excited about the rest of the season. 

And how about some of those hilarious lines?! Someone is getting paid well. “Don’t make me drop a house on you.” HAAA! It was something like that. Keep ’em coming, Ryan Murphy. 

My only thumbs down as of now is the very low-budget power that the newest witch pupil has over the boys. Maybe I’m old and no fun, but I’m hoping this doesn’t end up playing a major part in the rest of the season, because it could potentially ruin it for me. It just seems cheap and reeks of Cinemax to me. Am I alone? Maybe it’ll grow on me. 

 

 


Why do we assume?

As a teacher, occasionally I will have those days where nothing seems to go right. Some days I set out to inspire and end up coming home feeling like I spent the day pulling entire classes to the park in a wagon… all of them packed in like sardines, excited for the fun to come, but too apathetic to pitch in to help get the group there. (I apparently use this metaphor frequently because my last group of eighth grade students left me at the end of the year with a little red wagon, autographed by every one of them. Those days make it all worth it.) There have been a few times where on those wagon-pulling days I’ve decided to relieve my frustration while breaking the tension of the class at the same time… with a sudden drawn out scream. If you want the full effect, imagine Pee Wee Herman when someone said the secret word. Yes. I’m classy. But it usually works. We all laugh and move on in a much lighter (hopefully) atmosphere. 

The wagon story has nothing to do with this post, but remember that scream and get ready to picture it. 

 

I recently got caught up on what seemed like an endless amount of paranormal shows on the DVR. Episode after episode, I continued to see and hear investigators determine a location was haunted by the ghost of a “little girl”, because they captured an EVP with a higher pitched voice. Of course, it couldn’t be the voice of a little boy, even though little boys and girls voices often share the same higher pitch until puberty. With your eyes closed you might not always know. I hope that little boy wasn’t insulted. I guess they’ve also never heard my voice. I’m mistaken for a “ma’am” in the drive thru frequently and spend my days singing soprano and alto with middle schoolers. And what makes investigators believe that the timbre of the voice they’re picking up is what that spirit’s voice sounded like in life, anyway? What if vibrations come through an octave higher (or lower) as it pushes through the veil? Clearly, spirit voices lose a significant amount of clarity, consonants, and sometimes syllables when attempting communication, so what makes us so sure the pitch determines gender or age? Why do we assume?

In another episode they visit a building that holds centuries worth of memories and emotional stories, but because a rather famous person visited there twice, of course that must be the ghost that resides there. “Elvis! Is that you? Will you autograph my EMF meter?” Wouldn’t they be embarrassed to know that the voice they captured was actually of a fan who died just that week and simply followed them into the building, hoping to have their big moment. After all, no one can see them anymore and they’re pretty frustrated with being ignored. They just KNOW that Zak will hear them.

Okay my last gripe. I’m almost afraid to bring this one up again. “Look! There went a shadow! Go grab Father Dowling. We’re doing an exorcism.” Because a spirit or entity presents itself today as a shadow (on a night where you no doubt begged for some sort of manifestation or communication), it doesn’t make it an evil or demonic entity. Even if it’s quick to get away from you. Even if it’s an unusually short shadow. What makes you think you know? There’s probably a good chance that the shadow was not even paranormal at all, so leave the crucifix in the car. Anyway, it’s just Uncle Charlie, and a shadow is all he could muster today, thank you.  

 

AHHHHHHHHH! These things make me scream and jump up and down on the couch with my hands on my head. Were they edited to look this way? Surely they wouldn’t assume… would they?

Why do we assume? AHHHHHHH!

Ah well. At least I feel better now.

 

Related Posts: 

 

How to Evaluate the Authenticity of an Observer’s Supernatural Encounter (Big Séance)

 

 

 

I Still Watch Ghost Hunters… So What? (Big Séance)

 

 


Ghost Adventures & Weird or What?

Weird or What? 

My dad called me about this one. “Hey! Turn it on SyFy. There’s a new show and they’re talking about séances!” This seems to be a goofy show that tastes a little like Unsolved Mysteries to me. Maybe it’s the reenactments that give me that vibe, because it’s certainly not the goofiness. And that’s not horrible, I guess… because I love me some old school Unsolved Mysteries. To this day the old theme song can make me pull the covers over my head, but musically I just love it! But Weird or What? is hosted by William Shatner (which explains the goofiness).

William Shatner hosting Weird or What?

William Shatner hosting Weird or What?

The particular episode that I watched was episode #2 and titled “Life After Death”. In this episode, Mr. Shatner makes his entrance on a Segway…. ??? I was delighted to see that the séance material ended up being about the Scole Experiment, which I’ve discussed on this blog quite a bit (see related links below). Most of the information was watered down to fit a small segment, but it was nice to see some fresh discussion on the topic with people involved. Other segments include a man who has been told and is convinced that in a past life he was a general in the Civil War Battle of Antietam, and a man who comes back from the dead after 18 years. That last one, of course, is trying to take advantage of the huge zombie craze that the American culture is going through right now. 

Some of the interviews in this episode include a scientist who discusses his theory about the soul and quantum physics (that’s when I started seeing chickens out of the corner of my eye and thought about going downstairs for a snack),  a photography expert that analyzes some of the Scole evidence (even though it has already been done), and a Harvard psychologist and a scientist who both play the part of skeptics. The scientist sets up an almost insulting and fake séance for unsuspecting sitters. Of course, this is his way of saying it’s all an illusion. 

So what did I think? It’s the only episode I’ve watched and my DVR is not set to record anymore episodes. 

 

Ghost Adventures: Glen Tavern Inn

I used to not like the boys from Ghost Adventures at all. In fact (as if I knew it all), I would roll my eyes and tell you all about why I thought they were giant asses (though they have been in the past). I’ve talked to other GA fans who believe that they’re softening up a bit and getting more serious. That might be true, but I think I just didn’t really give them a chance before because of the first impression. I began really checking them out in preparation for my Fort Chaffee Prison investigation with JPRS. They had investigated that location a year or so before and I studied that episode. Some people turn their noses up and pretend that all paranormal television (Ghost Hunters, etc.) are nonsense and had nothing to do with why they do whatever it is they do in this field, but I’ve learned to appreciate them for what we can get out of them. I suppose there are pioneers out there who have been at it for years, but the vast majority of people in this field joined AFTER the great paranormal craze of the early 2000s. (Warning: Completely random comment. I think we need to start using the term “ott” or “ot” again when referring to the first ten years of the century. Thoughts?) I can’t pretend Ghost Hunters wasn’t one of the biggest inspirations for why I do what I do. 

The Goldfield Hotel

The Goldfield Hotel

Anyway… (Look! There goes another chicken!) I’ve been watching more Ghost Adventures episodes recently. The episode of their most recent visit to the Goldfield Hotel was outstanding, but just the other night I watched the Glen Tavern Inn episode. What fascinated me about this one? Not only did they get some really great EVP, and they gave us plenty of shots of the beauty of the hotel, but they conducted a séance! I was pleased to see Zak and the boys be open to doing that. The fact that they (like Ghost Hunters) have been having celebrity guests lately has been getting on my  nerves, but I guess they gotta do what they gotta do. 

Has anyone else been watching?

Glen Tavern Inn

Glen Tavern Inn

Related Posts:

I Still Watch Ghost Hunters… So What?

Video Highlights from our 9/15/12 Séance

Exciting News! Beyond the Scole Experiment!

The Scole Experiment… My Review… 

The Scole Group’s “A Basic Guide”

More Random Bits and Thoughts on Scole

Some Random Bits and Thoughts on Scole

 

 


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