Ohio’s Historic Haunts: Name That Location #1


Well, the page proofs for my upcoming book, Ohio’s Historic Haunts, are finally here! And I figured a fun way to give everyone a sneak peek at what’s to come would be to “leak” some actual photos from the book and see if you guys can guess the location!

Some of the locations are instantly recognizable, so in those cases, I’ll probably crop the photos a bit just to make it a bit harder for you to guess. And after I’ve let you all scratch your heads for a while, I’ll post the answer, along with a brief description of the location and maybe, just maybe, a couple of hints as to what happened when I spent the night inside the place.

So here you go: your first test. This photo will appear on page 38 of Ohio’s Historic Haunts. Name the location! Feel free to post your answer below…or just scream it real loud at your computer screen. Either way, good luck!


“Teens Everywhere” Conjuring Demons By Playing Charlie, Charlie


Let the conjuring begin! — via Doubtful News

“Satan, I command you to open the gates of hell and bring forth…Charlie.”

I’m sorry, what?

Yup, the Interwebs and anti-social media are all a-flutter with this new viral (god, I hate that term) craze that’s sweeping the nation. Apparently, “teens everywhere” are dividing pieces of paper into 4 quadrants, balancing pencils in the middle, and commanding a demon to come and answer their burning questions in a game that’s become known as Charlie, Charlie.

And they’re not just summoning any demon, mind you. In this case, they are said to be calling upon “the Mexican demon, Charlie.”

That’s right: Of all the denizens of Hell, Charlie is the one you need to reach out to if you need your questions answered. And make sure you specifically ask for “Charlie, the Mexican demon.” God forbid you get stuck with “Charlie, the American demon” or even “Charlie the Norwegian demon” because you’ll be lucky to get anything useful out of those guys.

So what exactly are “teens everywhere” doing? Well, not that I’m condoning this type of behavior, but the whole thing’s really simple. You just need a piece of paper and two pencils.  Take the piece of paper and draw a giant plus sign on it so as to divide the page into 4 sections. Then, write down 4 “answers” with one in each box: “Yes” and “No” are the popular favorites, but feel free to mix in a “Maybe” or an “Ask Again Later” just to give ol’ Charlie some variety.

For the final step, place one of the pencils on the vertical axis (i.e., the line going up and down) and then balance the second pencil across the first one (i.e., so it is laying horizontally). Then, ask away! So far, the popular way to ask seems to be by saying “Charlie, Charlie, can we talk?” It is said that if Charlie’s around, the top pencil will spin to “Yes” (so you better make sure you have a “yes” on your paper or you’re screwed from the get-go). Once Charlie answers, you’re off and running.

Who knew that all it took to conjure up a demon was $1.98 in used office supplies? — Via NY Daily News

Now, aside from the fact that balancing a pencil on top of another one makes it quite easy to get it to move, let’s talk for a moment about the utter silliness of this activity being blamed on Charlie, the Mexican Demon.

All of the other paranormal imports from Mexico have at least retained their Spanish names–Chupacabra, La Llorona, etc. So why not this demon? And when did we stop giving demons really spooky (and usually unpronounceable) names?

Online demonologists (who scare me for totally different reasons) are claiming that the demon only calls himself Charlie because it’s an “unassuming name” that allows him (it?) to lure teens over to the dark side. I guess that could be it. Of course, it doesn’t explain why, up until a few days ago, Charlie the demon and even this “game” simply did not exist. In fact, until it went viral (there’s that damn word again), it doesn’t appear that anyone had even played this particular game before. There does appear to be a game known as “The Pencil Game” that involves making a rectangle by sticking 6 pencils together and holding it in the air while chanting “Charlie, Charlie, can we play” (see a video of kids playing that version here). But this whole “hey, demon, can you spin this pencil for me” is something new.

Of course, there’s no denying that this sort of “conjuring” is nothing new, either. Of course, people are pointing to this becoming “the new Ouija”, but for me, it seems closer to those paper Cootie Catchers kids used to make to try and figure out who liked them or who they were going to marry. Indeed, an online search for “Charlie, Charlie” pulls up a bunch of suspect YouTube videos and several images where the spookiest questions being asked are along the lines of “which member of One Direction will I marry.”

Man, Charlie, you’re screwed! They didn’t even give you a “none of the above” option — via PIX 11

So come now, people, don’t we have better things to do than engage in this silliness? Even if this were true, think of poor Charlie the Mexican demon: having to be ready to race around the world at a moment’s notice, usually on the whim of some random teenagers who is just dying to know when 5 Seconds Of Summer is going to “release the next album” (and yes, I’m old, so I had to Google “5SoS”).

If you ask me, I think Charlie got the short end of the stick. But then again, he is in hell, so I guess he deserves it.

Come now, is “3000” even a viable answer? Remember, it’s not nice to fool Mexican demons! — via The Telegraph


Click here to check out the BBC’s article concerning where Charlie, Charlie might have originated.

Here’s what the NY Daily News is saying about Charlie, Charlie.

Read about Doubtful News‘ take on Charlie, Charlie by clicking here.

PIX11 has more on the story, including several videos showing people attempting to contact Charlie. Check it out here.

Vine compilation of people playing (and parodying) Charlie, Charlie (NSFW–Language).

Ghost Of A Dirty Windshield Reported At Ohio’s Randall Park Mall


I love it when people send me ghost photos and videos to check out (with the exception of the videos where things jump out and scream at you–those just piss me off). But when one of my fellow bloggers passed along this bit of “news” for me to weigh in on, I found myself just shaking my head.

ABC 5 out of Cleveland recently ran a photo that was submitted to them by a gentleman who was out with some people checking out the abandoned (and currently being demolished) Randall Park Mall. According to the person who e-mailed the photo, when it was taken by his “girlfriend’s cousin”, they didn’t notice anything strange. That all changed when they got home and re-examined the photo. That’s when they found the image of a “ghostly figure” floating in the corner.

“Oooooohhhhhh, I’m a smudgy ghost, arriving too late for ghostly bargains at the mall. Clearly, I should have consulted the mall hours before getting in my ghostly car and driving all this way for nothing. Ooooooohhhhhhhhhh!” –Via newsnet5

Now, I could take the professional route and go on and on about how I’ve been investigating reported hauntings in Ohio since 1999 and don’t have a single reference to a ghost ever being anywhere near the Randall Park Mall. But what’s the point? The “ghostly figure” is clearly just a smudge on the windshield. In fact, the entire photo is filled with all sorts of smudges and possibly even some reflections off the glass. And let’s be honest here: If you really didn’t see anything when you were taking this picture, then what the heck were you taking a picture of in the first place? Put another way, why is the picture crooked…other than to make the “ghost” appear to be “rising” as opposed to doing a swan dive?

As to what caused the smudge, I’m not sure about that. But if I had to guess, I’m going to go with the ever-popular “bird poop”. And if that’s the case, in my “expert” opinion, these guys missed a golden opportunity. Rather than calling it a ghost, they should have admitted it was bird poop, but said it was “holy sh*t”. That, ladies, and gentlemen, is clearly news!

You can read the entire Newsnet5 article by clicking here.

Information On My Thurber House Appearance



On Wednesday, July 29th, I will be the featured speaker at one of Thurber House’s Literary Picnics. What’s a Literary Picnic? Simply put, it’s an opportunity for people to come out and hear an author speak while enjoying a picnic-style dinner on the front lawn of the historic Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. How cool is that?

If you’ve ever been to one of my presentations, you know that I tend to enjoy assaulting my guests’ eyes and ears with all sorts of weird visuals and audio clips. Not sure how much of that I do while standing in the middle of a yard with the bright summer sun shining, so for now, exactly what I’ll be doing is still up in the air. But rest assured, it will be memorable!

Thurber House -- via thurberhouse.org

Thurber House — via thurberhouse.org

In terms of tickets, there are several packages available: you can get the whole “dinner and a show” ticket or, if you prefer, you can bring your own dinner and just buy a ticket to my talk. Either way, the Thurber House will be open for tours during the entire evening and you can even BYOB!

There will be copies of my books available for purchase. However, I am not handling the book sales, so I have no idea which ones they will have on-hand (Weird Ohio and The Big Book Of Ohio Ghost Stories are safe bets, though). I’ll be hanging around after my talk to sign books, shake hands, and consume any of your leftover reubens, if you let me.

But perhaps the biggest question people have been asking me is “are you going to talk about your new book?” The answer to that is “yes”. While Ohio’s Historic Haunts isn’t due out for a few more months, I will indeed be spending a bit of time discussing the book and maybe even giving a sneak peek or two at what readers can expect to see when it finally comes out.

For more information about Thurber House’s 2105 Summer Literary Picnics, click here. Or, if you’re chomping at the bit to get your tickets, click here to review the different packages available and order your tickets online. 

No idea how many tickets are available, but I’ve been told they do sell out quickly. So if you’re thinking about coming, don’t wait to get your tickets.

Hope to see you there!

This Fall, Visit Some Of Ohio’s Historic Haunts With Me



This Fall, when people come up to me and ask me what I’ve been doing the past 2 years, I will finally have an answer for them: I’ve been working on a book. But not just any book: it’s the one I’ve been waiting my entire life to write!

Ohio’s Historic Haunts: Investigating The Paranormal in the Buckeye State will be released by Kent State University Press this October. That’s right: Kent State University Press is putting out a book on ghosts. How freakin’ cool is that? I honestly can’t think of any other time a university has backed a ghost book, so that in and of itself makes this pretty special. But there’s more to it than that.

You see, I have always believed that ghost stories and actual history go hand-in-hand. Regardless of whether or not a ghost story can be validated, those stories contain historical information that can help keep actual history alive. In essence, ghosts are history.

Sadly, today’s ghost reality shows have relegated history to the back seat, instead focusing on jump scares and nonsensical “equipment” in an attempt to entertain. In the process, they’ve made a mess of the field of paranormal research. It made me sad and I knew I needed to try and change things. And I wanted to start with Ohio.

So for Ohio’s Historic Haunts, I started with a short list of historically significant buildings in Ohio that had a reputation for being haunted. After spending countless hours (months, actually) researching the history of each location, I did something that far too many ghost books don’t: I personally visited each and every one.

Not only that, but I sat down and conducted dozens upon dozens of one-on-one interviews of owners, managers, and employees about their alleged ghost encounters–a grand total of 220 hours’ worth of interviews. I didn’t rely on the Internet or other books for my ghost stories; I went right to the source.

Not only is this something somewhat unique, but it provided me the ability to look across the table during the interviews, right into the eyes of the interviewees, to see if they were being truthful with me. But that’s not all. After that, I spent the night, sometimes alone, inside every single one of the locations to see if I could have my own ghostly encounter. Better yet, I brought along some of that fancy “ghost-hunting equipment” to see if any of it really works.

The result of all this is Ohio’s Historic Haunts. Here’s what the publisher has to say about it in their official press release:

Many of Ohio’s historically significant locations have developed a reputation for being haunted. While it might be almost impossible to prove the validity of the paranormal tales that surround them, one thing is clear: ghost stories help to keep history alive. But the questions remain: How did these stories get started? More important, are any of them tied directly to actual historic events? And do any facts support the ghost lore?

Rather than rely on second­ and third-­person accounts, author and paranormal researcher James A. Willis sat down with the owners, employees, and patrons of Ohio locations that are said to be haunted; the Arts Castle in Delaware, the Fairport Harbor Marine Museum, the Haunted Hydro in Fremont, Loveland Castle, the Merry­-Go-­Round Museum in Sandusky, the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, the Zanesville Community Theatre, and many others. After conducting more than 200 hours of one­-on­-one interviews, Willis was able to piece together unique histories for each location, including eyewitness accounts from people who believed they experienced paranormal activity.

But Willis wasn’t content to stop with first­-person accounts. He also brought high­-tech ghost­ hunting equipment into each location and spent a night attempting to collect empirical data to see if he could experience a paranormal encounter himself. What were the results of these vigils? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Come along on a journey with Willis as he travels to the cross­ roads where history and folklore collide, and visit the fascinating Ohio locations where the past comes alive in more ways than one!

So there you have it; the ghostly cat’s out of the bag, so to speak. And I couldn’t be happier to finally be able to talk about this book! You don’t know how hard it’s been for me to keep this under wraps!

In the coming months, I will be posting more information about each of the locations that will be featured in the book. And this Fall, I will be touring the Buckeye state, giving everyone the inside scoop on what happened at each location, complete with audio, video, and photos. In some cases, I will be making appearances at the actual locations themselves, along with some special guests.

Of course, I will have plenty of copies of Ohio’s Historic Haunts with me to sell and scribble my name in for you (as well as copies of Weird Ohio, for the 4 of you that don’t already own a copy). But if you can’t wait that long, the book is already available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and of course, Kent State University Press. It will also be made available for preorder online at most major retail stores, but right now, Wal-mart is the only one who has it listed.

More as it develops. But get ready, Ohio, because this Fall, ghosts are history!