OK, Ohioans, here’s something we can all be really proud of: Estately.com (yeah, I’ve never heard of them, either) has just handed the state of Ohio the title of Most Miserable State to Spend Thanksgiving In. And according to them, it wasn’t even close:

 “Ohio won the title of The Most Miserable State to Spend Thanksgiving In by an overwhelming margin. If any state will feature a simultaneous argument about Benghazi and the ethics of eating meat it will be over a plate of sugar-free pumpkin pie at an Ohio dining room table. Family divisions will only get more heated when the severely inebriated and the guests with food poisoning fight over who gets to use the bathroom first.”

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So how does one go about determining the most miserable state to spend Thanksgiving in? Well, apparently you come up with 6 categories and then rank all 50 states. The somewhat-random categories Estately.com came up with were:

1. Likelihood of a family food poisoning episode (salmonella)

2. Likelihood of relatives getting drunk and making a scene

3. Likelihood of political arguments

4. Dietary restrictions impacting meal quality

5. Likelihood of favorite NFL team losing on Thanksgiving

6. Likelihood of guests/cooks abandoning meal to shop a Black Friday sale

Looking over that list, I’m not really sure what categories 2, 3, and 4 have to do with Thanksgiving. Matter of fact, you could say the likelihood of  members of the Willis family getting drunk and making a scene, all while arguing politics and bitching about the food to be the standard chain of events at ALL of our gatherings, not just Thanksgiving. And I’m the only family member who lives in Ohio!

As for the other three categories, while they are tied to Thanksgiving, they’re still pretty random. Oh yeah, and then there’s the mind-boggling stat regarding the “likelihood of (the state’s) favorite NFL team losing on Thanksgiving”. Granted, Ohio came in 5th in that particular category, but it still doesn’t make any sense. That’s because, despite the awesome power of Troy Polamalamalamalamalu’s flowing locks, Ohio’s teams are still the Bengals and the Browns.

Now, you could make a case that the Bengals and Browns don’t have a single victory on Thanksgiving Day between them (collectively, they are 0 for 4). But the simple fact is that the Bengals and Browns almost NEVER play on Thanksgiving Day. The Bengals’ last Turkey Day appearance was in 2010 and the Browns? Well, it’s been 25 years since their last appearance (1989). So unless all you Bengals and Browns fans have Dallas Cowboy jerseys hiding in your closet (where they should remain, BTW), I’m not sure how that stat should have any impact on Ohio’s ranking.

Now, Ohio coming in 1st in the Dietary Restrictions category? That I get! The Buckeye state does seem to enjoy overeating and for seeing who in the family can come down with the sugar-betes first. But I blame Dave Thomas for that one!

So how about it, my fellow Ohioans? Is Thanksgiving in the Buckeye state really that bad?

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You can see Estately.com’s ranking of all 50 states by clicking here

 

That’s probably the question I get asked most often, followed closely by “weren’t you the weird guy who…”? Some of my friends tell me it’s because I have “a familiar face”. Not sure what that means, although I have been told I have a face made for radio. Funny, right?

Me posing near one of my favorite “trippy” posters they created for my Wright-Patterson OSC presentation in 2014.

But in all honesty, I think it’s because people know I’m into strange and spooky stuff. So if something weird and/or spooky comes up, they naturally assume I had something to do with it. And I’m cool with that! Quite touching, to be honest.

Anyway, the whole thing got me thinking: what are all the different things I’ve been on over the years (medications excluded, of course). That’s what led to my creating a list of all the places you could have seen my ugly mug or heard my voice. The fact that the list can also be used as a promotional tool to show that I “get around” doesn’t hurt, either!

The night a bunch of “ghosts” decided to roll my booth at the 2009 Ohio Paranormal Convention in honor of my birthday

So have a peek at the list and see how many places you spotted me. The mighty, mighty list is available in the About section, above, or by clicking right here!

 

 

Around 7:00 pm on Sunday, November 16th, three “earth-shaking booms” were heard around Dayton, Ohio. Not only in the Dayton area, but across most of Montgomery county and even neighboring Warren county.

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Reports seemed to be centered around Montgomery County (highlighted in red) — via Wikipedia

As reported by WHIO, local authorities, including fire and police, reported receiving calls from numerous people, all claiming to have heard the noises. Some claim the noises were so loud, they caused their houses to shake.

Most people, including yours truly, would chalk the noises up to sonic booms coming from nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. However, a check with Base personnel revealed that “no aircraft were flying in the area that could have caused a sonic boom by breaking the sound barrier”.

Local utility companies did not report any abnormal activity or outages, either, leaving authorities scratching their heads as to the cause of the mysterious sounds.

So what of it, my Dayton-area readers: did you hear anything strange & spooky on the night of November 16th? If you did, tell us about it!

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WHIO’s news report on the unexplained booms can be accessed here.

 

 

Last week, someone spotted something weird in the skies over Toledo, Ohio. So weird that he reported it to the Mutual UFO Network, MUFON, who promptly assigned it an official case number.

According to MUFON Case #61353, the male witness was traveling south on 475. As he approached the underpass for the Ohio Turnpike, he noticed an object “about the size of a Lear jet” in the sky, flying over the roadway, roughly 150 feet off the ground.

As the object crossed the road, the witness was able to get a good look at it and described it as having “three white lights – one at each end and one in middle – about 5 to 8 feet above the others. It did not have any strobe lights and did not make any sound that I could hear.”

The witness further described the body of the UFO as appearing “to be a rectangular panel of solid, bright, red lights made up of 6 to 8 smaller panels butted together.”

After crossing the roadway, the object continued in an easterly direction, where the witness eventually lost sight of it.

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Area of reported UFO sighting — via OpenMinds

Right now, there’s a little bit of “chicken and egg” going on with regard to the reporting. As of this writing, the report appears on two different web sites: OpenMinds and MUFON. Now, you would think of the two, the more thorough report would be on the MUFON site. After all, MUFON gave the sighting its own official case number and everything. But you’d be wrong. For aside from having very little information, the MUFON article points you to the OpenMinds article should you wish to “read more.” As for the OpenMinds article, it doesn’t add much in the way of additional information and, you guessed it, directs you back to the MUFON site.

It’s also a little confusing as the headline for both posts say the UFO moved  “150 feet over” the Ohio Turnpike, which, all things considered, is not really that impressive. But since the body of both articles mention that the UFO was spotted moving “under 150 feet” and state that this was how low to the ground the UFO was when it was seen,  I think we can safely say the headlines are just a little confused. Still, since these are the initial reports, you’d think the reporter would want to clean those headlines up ASAP.

More as it develops.

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You can read the MUFON report here.

The OpenMinds report can be found here.

This story is blowing up all over the Internet, even though many of the specifics are not yet known (shocking, isn’t it). My paranormal Spidey Senses have been tingling ever since I first read the story, though, and I have a bad feeling that no matter how this plays out, it’s not going to end well for the field of paranormal research.

It is alleged that in the early morning hours of Friday, November 7th, 2014, 37-year-old Robert Steven Laursen Jr. was taking part in a ghost hunt with several other individuals at the infamous Villisca Ax Murder House in Iowa.  At approximately 12:45 am, Laursen was alone in one of the rooms when the other individuals heard him call out for help. When they reached him, they found Laursen on the floor, suffering from what appeared to be a self-inflicted stab wound in his chest. Laursen was taken to Clarinda Regional Hospital before being airlifted to CHI Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha. He was last listed in serious condition.

When reached for comment, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office stated their investigation “showed no indication the stab wound was caused by an accident or fall”. Further, since there was “no indication of foul play”, the Sheriff’s Office did not expect to be filing any charges.

The Sheriff’s Office concluded that there had never “been a report of a similar situation” at the Villisca Ax Murder House before.

Sad and disturbing news, to be sure. But why does it have me so concerned? Well, for starters, I think it is only a matter of time before someone brings up the dark history of the house and tries to say there is some sort of “demonic” presence lingering within the walls of the home that someone forced this guy to knife himself. When (not if) that happens, the demonic/possession/satanic floodgates are going to open wide and that house is going to be awash in reality show posers and wannabes, all ready to do battle with the devil and his minions. You know I’m right. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least 3 ghost reality show “stars” who are literally licking their chops and oiling up their pecs as we speak at the idea of doing an upcoming episode inside the house. That’s saying nothing of the slew of “I’m not really a member of the clergy, but I play one on reality TV shows” guys busy pressing their Halloween Express-purchased priest outfits and giving an extra blast of starch to their fake clerical collars.

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“The power of Halloween Express compels you!” –via Halloween Express

For the past few years, there has been a disturbing trend (as least for me) developing among the vast majority of these ghost reality shows. Namely, the ghosts are getting angrier and angrier. Now, it is no longer just angry ghosts, but demonic spirits. Sadly, I think the Villisca Ax Murder House just unwittingly gave these shows a potential new angle: demonic spirits that can stab people.

Even if I’m wrong (and I sincerely hope that I am), there’s something else that bothers me, perhaps even more so than the reality TV angle. If we take the devil out of this occurrence, what we are left with is an individual who clearly has some sort of emotional problem. A problem that clearly can manifest itself in violent ways. Now you could make the case that the only person Laursen harmed was himself, but the fact that an individual apparently plunged a knife into his own chest on purpose can not be ignored. And he chose to do it during a public ghost hunt.

I don’t know about you, but ghost hunts have always been events that I’ve felt safe at. Even on the public hunts I conduct with fans of my organization, The Ghosts of Ohio, I’ve always felt like I was among kindred spirits. If I ever did worry about being hurt, it was usually thinking I was going to trip and fall in the dark or maybe a piece of an old building’s ceiling breaking off and braining me. Not once has it ever occurred to me that the danger might be coming from a fellow ghost hunter in my group. Until now.

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–via the Daily Nonpareil

This is not to imply that Laursen meant to harm anyone other than himself that night in Villisca. We just don’t know what his intentions were and perhaps we never will. Either way, it does seem to imply that from this point on, we all need to take a closer look at who we choose to get locked inside a haunted building with.

Sadder still, no matter how you look at it, there’s no denying that the fields of ghost hunting and paranormal research have both just lost a bit more of their innocence. Not that we had that much left to lose.

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One of the first newspapers to cover this story was the Daily Nonpareil. You can access that article here.

Omaha.com covered the story and includes some more quotes from the owner of the Ax Murder House. You can read the article here.

Syracuse.com also covered the story, but basically has the same information as the Daily Nonpareil. It does include a link to a video tour of the Ax Murder House, though. The article and video can be found here.

According to Dayton’s WHIO, mother Nicole Allen walked into a local Dollar Store and purchased what she thought was a “magic wand” for her 2-year-old daughter. When they got the wand home and the daughter started playing with it, Nicole was shocked to find that when the silver metallic “snowflake” was peeled back, it revealed a photo of what appeared to be a demonic woman slitting her wrists with a knife.

Nicole was outraged but when reporters confronted store owner Amar Moustafa, he simply said that parents need to pay more attention to what they are buying for their children, pointing out that the name of the toy is “Evilstick”. He has no current plans to pull the toy from the shelves, but said he would consider doing so if enough people complained.

OK, I’ll admit it: I absolutely LOVE dollar stores of all kinds! You can find some of the coolest, weirdest things lurking in their aisles. But there’s a reason everything’s being sold for only a dollar. These types of stores sell everything from expired food and damaged products to items which could only be termed “bootlegs”. In these stores, you get what you pay for.

I’m not faulting this woman for buying a $1.00 toy for her child. Heck, I’ve gone into those stores and dropped $20.00 on stuff for Courtney (and OK, some stuff for me, too. Gotta feed the Strange & Spooky Museum, you know). But here’s the thing: I don’t let Courtney out of my sight when she playing with any of those toys because I know they are all probably going to break, leak, or perhaps spontaneously combust within 15 minutes.

I think the fact that, as the shop owner points out, what is being called a “magic wand” is actually clearly labelled “Evilstick”. That and the idea that the “wonderful music” the device is said to emit is actually one of those traditional Halloween laughs should have given the mom a couple of hints that this wasn’t really a wand that was going to summon rainbows and magical pixies.

Do I think it’s an appropriate toy for children, especially a 2-year-old. whom the mother bought the EvilStick for? Certainly not. For one, if you look closely at the picture above, you can see it’s labelled for ages 3 and up. But I think even 3 might be a little young for something like this. But again, I think in this case, the mom should have taken a closer look at the packaging and the toy before chucking it in her buggy.

And yes, if anyone happens to be in a Dayton-area Dollar Store, I’d like an EvilStick, please. Not for Courtney, though. It’s for me, even though I’m pretty sure just touching that metallic-looking snowflake is going to give me cancer, Black Lung, and perhaps a wee bit of gout.

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You can read the original report and watch the video, on WHIO’s site. Just give a click here. 

Another report on the incident is available at The Independent, a news wire site from the UK. Great article if for no other reason that the author of the article seems amazed that the US has places called “Dollar Stores”, although they often refer to them as the “$.100 store”.

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It seems only appropriate that on the eve of the release of perhaps the greatest Blu-ray box set the world has ever known, I come clean about something Bat-related. Namely, that it took the Caped Crusader’s snubbing of my daughter to find out my Bat Library was missing an essential book.

The book? Gotham City: 14 Miles. And put it this way, if you know what the book’s title is in reference to, you need a copy. Don’t even give it another thought. Just click here and order your copy through Amazon.

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How did I come to have my eyes opened to this book? Well, one of the lovely people who wrote to express their sadness over my daughter’s inability to meet Batman was Ms. Becky Beard. Becky sent me an IM saying that she found Courtney’s story very upsetting. The only thing she found uplifting about the whole thing was Courtney’s addiction to the 60s Batman TV show. Several IM exchanges later, Becky said she was sending Courtney (and me) an autographed copy of “a book”, Gotham City: 14 Miles.

Not having heard of the book before (go ahead: pelt me with rocks and garbage. I deserve it), I did a quick search and found that it was released in 2011 and consisted of a collection of essays edited by Jim Beard. Beard? Hey, wait a second!

Yup, that’s right: Jim is Becky’s husband (something she failed to mention until I came right out and asked about it). What Jim has done with Gotham City: 14 Miles is put together a collection of essays from different writers, including his wife, Becky, all centering around “why the 1960s Batman TV show matters.”

Simply put, this book is a gift from the Bat-gods! Almost 300 pages and I was done with it in under 24 hours. It’s that good. Nestled among the essays which touch upon the phenomena that was the 1960s TV show are deep-dives into such topics as the show’s music, visuals, and, of course, all those Bat-gadgets. Even 1966’s Batman: The Movie is covered.

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Courtney’s a bit too young to appreciate Gotham City: 14 Miles just yet, although she totally digs the pictures of all the guest villains out of their costumes. She did, however, ask that it be placed on her bookshelf next to the dog-eared copy of The Official Batman Batbook that she absconded with from her father’s collection.

OK, enough reading: go get your own copy. And for the record, no, I’m not getting any kickbacks off  any sales of the book. It’s just a damn good book that no Bat-fan should be without.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Courtney and I need to stock up on snacks, get our mail forwarded, and make sure our matching Bat-PJs are clean: there’s 120 fully remastered (in HD) episodes heading to our house as we speak!

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Check out Gotham City: 14 Miles on Facebook, here.

Wait, before you answer that question, you need to help me out on this.

Recently, I received an e-mail that I think is hate mail. Can’t really be sure, though, which is why I need my faithful readers to lend a hand. Here’s the content of the e-mail I received, in its entirety (bold and italics mine):

You are so stupid! Why don’t you stop writing about stupid things and write about stuff that’s not stupid!

Yup, that’s it. Nothing else. Not even a subject line. The e-mail address (which I won’t post here), appears to be legit and the IP address it came from is also legit–it appears to be where this person works. I don’t recognize the person’s name and I have never had any dealings with the company from which the e-mail appears to have originated. All that, plus the fact that the e-mail mentions my “writing about stupid things”, which I have been known to do from time to time (mainly because I like to), would all seem to point to it being legit.

But seriously, who writes like that? It sorts of reeks of something one of my friends would do just to mess with me. And if the e-mail is legit, they obviously wanted to anger me or get a rise out of me. On both accounts, they failed. To be honest, even if it’s not real, the e-mail made my day. I must have read it at least 20 times the very day I got it, and it got funnier each time!

If this thing really is legit, the e-mail arrived the day after I posted my article on Gore Orphanage. Guess that article could have made a few people mad, but I don’t think anything in it was stupid, per se. The other  popular articles the day the e-mail showed up were The Day Batman Stood My Daughter Up and the post about People.com totally blanking on their choice for an “iconic ghost” to represent the state of Ohio. Controversial stuff, huh? Oh yeah, and as always, most of the Tokoloshe articles were hot that day, too. But everybody knows there’s nothing stupid about the Tokoloshe.

Real or not, I do have a few bones to pick with the author. First off, I don’t think they used the word “stupid” enough. I think they should have opened the e-mail with the salutation “Dear Stupid.” That would have freed them from only being able to use “stupid” as an adjective. And by using the capital “S”, they could have made “Stupid” a proper noun, which would have made it possible to re-write each sentence as if there were addressing me directly, thereby adding an additional “stupid” to the end of each sentence: “You’re so stupid, Stupid.”

So what do you guys think? Is this legit hate mail or just someone messing with me? Feel free to let me know in the Comments section, below.

In the meantime, I’ll be over here, pondering whether or not I should start selling the following shirts at my presentations and posing for pictures next to anyone who buys one: