Tea’s Weird Week: Happy (Virtual) Halloween!

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This has been a busy week for me (as you can see by this week’s “Please Clap Dept.”) with writing, podcast interviews, ghost tours, etc. October is always the busiest month for me and especially the last week of the month, so I’m mostly just sharing Halloweeny links in this column.

First off, here’s a column I wrote last October, “October is Mad Ghost Boo Biz,” and last week’s column, “I Love Those Old Monster Movies,” both good reading on my eerie life.

Halloween, like everything else, is pretty much cancelled this year– it sucks, I know. I’m going to celebrate by watching some of those old monster movies, hopefully going for a walk in Forest Home Cemetery, leading ghost tours for American Ghost Walks, and I made a play list of creepy cool music– 101 songs (plus a reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of Red Death” by Basil Rathbone!) That’s 6 and a half hours worth of music for your stay-at-home Halloween party. I tried to get a good mix of classics, obscure, and a few bands I am friends or acquainted with. You can listen on Spotify here:
Tea’s Weird Week: 101 Songs of Halloween Party

Have a Happy Halloween, and of course VOTE. This election is not just about the McDonald Trump, but the local elections. Check your ballots– is someone who is a QAnon supporter on it? What about someone from the III%er militia or one of the Proud Boys or someone dangerous and terrible like Laura Loomer? There’s a lot of extremist candidates on ballots this year– vote the bastards out!

Please Clap Dept.: Busy week, I had a lot of great media opportunities:

* I was on the CripesCast, with the very funny Charlie Berens (Manitowoc Minute): https://cripescast.podbean.com/e/episode-19-tea-krulos
* I joined the guys on Lumpen Radio’s Eye 94 book show, includes some American Madness excerpts read by Shanna Van Volt, giving it a nice conspiracy jazz lounge tone: https://www.mixcloud.com/lumpenradio/eye-94-10-29-2020-tea-kroulos-conspiracies-and-qanon/
* I was part of a written roundtable discussion on misinformation for LitHub with authors Renata Salecl and Jonathan Berman. You can read it here: https://lithub.com/the-misinformation-superhighway-a-roundtable-on-the-rise-of-the-great-american-conspiracy/
* Last, I’ve never been on a baseball podcast before, but was glad to talk to Hall of Very Good to talk about the Pfister Hotel, where many MLB players have been haunted by ghosts: https://hallofverygood.libsyn.com/episode-255-tea-krulos

Buy my books American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness and a special Halloween treat, Wisconsin Legends & Lore.

Tea’s Weird Week: I Love Those Old Monster Movies

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I got the idea for this week’s column from the Vice Presidential debate. One of the star performances was not from Mike Pence or Kamala Harris, but the housefly that landed and sat on Pence’s head. I got some much needed laughs when I looked to social media and found that my feeds had been filled with fly memes. I saw a few people posting references to David Cronenberg’s 1986 film The Fly (starring Jeff Goldblum) but I thought I would join in by sharing an image from one of my favorites, the classic 1958 Fly, which featured the great Vincent Price in the cast.

The Fly (1958)

This classic film and others from this era have a dear place in my heart, because I grew up on them. You see, my parents were very strict about what I could watch as a kid. I was their firstborn, they were very religous and they wanted to protect me from a 1980s world gone made, from things controversial or provocative, from hearing words like “fucknut” or seeing sex parts. My options were limited, mostly to cinema pre-1970, give or take, or Disney films.

As such, as other kids were developing screen idols in 80s celebrities, mine were the likes of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Lon Chaney, Basil Rathbone, Vincent Price, and all of their creepy peers.

My favorites were the classic Universal stuff like Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and The Wolfman, Godzilla movies, and other classic monster and sci-fi like The Blob, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and many more. If it’s black and white and features monsters, aliens, ghosts, etc., chances are I’ve seen it.

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

In addition to horror and sci-fi, I also watched a lot of old comedy (the Marx Brothers, Abbot and Costello) and mystery and noir (I especially liked Humphrey Bogart and anything by Hitchcock). At the time it was somewhat frustrating because on the playground, the guys would tell me how they had witnessed actual exposed boobs in movies like Porky’s or had seen someone cut in half with a chainsaw in a Friday the 13th movie and I’d be like…uh, yeah but have you dudes seen King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)?

The Wolfman (1941)

My parents were strict even about seeing PG movies when I was younger. If I really wanted to see a movie, like say, Ghostbusters, or Gremlins, and lobbied them succesfully, I would wait until it was out on video, they would watch it by themselves, then the next night I could watch it with them but they would fast-forward through scenes with swear words of anything suggestive.

That means I wouldn’t get lines like “yes sir, it’s true. This man has no dick,” from Ghostbusters until years later, when I re-watched with friends.

Night of the Living Dead, 1968

Looking back on it, I’m glad though– I feel like I probably got at least a couple of college film history classes in before I even turned 14. And to me, Halloween will always mean old black and white monster movies. What’s your favorite classic horror/sci-fi? Share in the comments!

Godzilla 1954

You can buy my book American Madness from Lion’s Tooth, Quimby’s, Bookshop.org and wherever books are sold. I had the great pleasure this week to talk about the book with Quimby’s Bookstore. We had fun talking about the book and played some conspiracy trivia–see how well you would have fared! You can catch it here:


And just in time for Halloween, you can get signed copies of my book Wisconsin Legends & Lore from the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Square shop: https://milwaukee-para-con.square.site/product/wisconsin-legends-lore-by-tea-krulos-signed-and-inscribed-/44?cs=true

Tea Krulos (and conspiracy theory trivia) @ Quimby’s!

I’m very happy to be joining Quimby’s Bookstore (one of my favorite bookstores) for a virtual event this Tuesday, October 20, 7:30pm CST, It’s free to anyone in the world and will be livestreaming from their YouTube Page: www.youtube.com/user/QuimbysBookstore

Facebook event: www.facebook.com/events/2150860985077674

I’ll be talking about my new book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (Feral House). If you order through Quimby’s, you get an autographed nameplate for the book PLUS a bonus reprint of a comic (while supplies last) created by Richard McCaslin, aka the Phantom Patriot, the main subject of the book.

We’ll also being doing an online conspiracy theory trivia session. Tip: read American Madness and you’ll have the competitive edge as many questions (but not all) will be pulled from the book.

What could you win? Come on dowwwwwwn for these fantastic conspiracy-related prizes!

Why yes, this is a musical based on the alleged case that Lee Harvey Oswald was framed in the JFK assassination. I picked this up at the 2019 JFK Assassination Conference.
The Flat Earth Man in a British guy who sings in the style of honky tonk country. His songs are all about the “globe lie.” This CD has all his hits like “Do You Still Believe we went to the Moon” and “I Don’t Wanna Talk About NASA”
And yes, it is signed by the Flat Fucking Earth Man himself! Tell your friends around the world you one this amazing CD that I picked up at the 2019 Flat Earth International Conference.
Is this the best bumper sticker ever made? Yes it is. Designed by Alex Groh.
This is a 12-page full color zine that Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot created in 2012. It’s different than the one included in Quimby orders. It’s a fictional adventure starring Phantom Patriot and Real-life Superheroes Motor-Mouth and Mutinous Angel. The 3 of them did actually peacefully protest outside the Bohemian Club in San Francisco (detailed in American Madness chapter “Return of the Phantom Patriot”) but in this comic, they raid the club and battle Reptilian aliens. Very rare item!
This beautiful, rare item (only 4 made) contains an “action figure” of the Phantom Patriot, designed via 3-d printer and hand painted by the talented Jack of Hero Gear Designs. The backer card was illustrated by frequent collaborator and awesome artist David Beyer.

May the odds be ever in your favor! Order American Madness via Quimby’s here: https://www.quimbys.com/store/9655

Tea’s Weird Week: Crazy Uncle Trump: “I don’t know that, and neither do you”

I was really hoping to be moving toward writing about Halloweeny shit instead of conspiracy shit this week, but NO. Let me rephrase that: NOOOOOOOOOOOO. Trump had a town hall thing last night (he refused a virtual debate, leading to rival Trump and Biden town halls) and I didn’t think he could possibly appear to be more of a dangerous idiot than he did at the last debate, but welcome to 2020 where everything you know is wrong and the hellmouth continues to open! It was a great night for deranged conspiracies and a bad night for…well, the entire planet, really.

To recap:

QAnon: When asked about QAnon, Trump did his usual “deny but don’t reject” dance. You might recall this from the debate where Trump refused to denounce white supremacy, then gave a perceived shout out to the Proud Boys, then claimed he “didn’t know” who the Proud Boys were. Moderator Savannah Guthrie, of NBC News, explained what QAnon was in a nutshell– the belief in a Democrat satanic pedophile ring (she didn’t mention their idea that Democrats get high on adrenochrome, though) and asked Trump if he would denounce them. The response:

Trump: I know nothing about QAnon.
Guthrie: I just told you.

Trump: You told me, but what you say doesn’t necessarily make it fact, I hate to say that. I know nothing about it, I do know they are very much against pedophilia, they fight it very hard, but I know nothing about it.
Guthrie: They believe it is a satanic cult run by the DNC!

Trump: [rambles about how vicious Antifa is]…I just don’t know about QAnon.
Guthrie: You do know!

Trump: I don’t know!…Let me tell you, what I do hear about it is they are very strongly against pedophilia, and I agree with that.
Guthrie: Ok, but there’s not a satanic pedophile–
Trump: I know nothing about that
Guthrie: You know nothing about that?!
Trump: No, I have know idea and neither do you know that [sic].

Trump still doesn’t know who QAnon is! Well, he knows they fight pedophilia “very hard.” That’s funny because, as I noted in a previous column Trump said at an August 20th press conference that he didn’t know who QAnon was other than “I understand they like me very much.”

It’s been almost 2 months– you couldn’t get an intern to hop on Google to see what all this bullshit was about? The real answer is that Trump is a liar– he very well knows who QAnon is and a cult devoted to him is appealing to his massive ego.

The “Biden Killed Seal Team 6 Theory”: This week Trump retweeted a QAnon account twice that had posted a baseless theory that the Navy SEAL 6 team mistakenly killed Osama Bin Laden’s body double in 2011 and rather than say “oops,” Obama and Biden had the whole team assassinated to cover up the mistake. Yes, THIS IS FUCKING CRAZY. It led to this beautiful town hall exchange, when Guthrie brought it up:

Trump: That was a retweet. That was an opinion of somebody and that was a retweet. I’ll put it out there. People can decide for themselves. I don’t take a position.
Guthrie: I don’t get that. You’re the president. You’re not someone’s crazy uncle who can retweet whatever.

Thank you, Savannah Guthrie, for doing your job and calling Trump out and not letting him try to steamroll you.

Obamagate/Voter Fraud: Trump mentions his Obamagate theory and talks about voter fraud.

Trump:”When I see thousands of ballots dumped in a garbage can and they happen to have my name on it, I’m not happy about it.”
Guthrie: There is in fact no evidence of widespread fraud and you are sowing doubt in our democracy.
When Guthrie added that the FBI director noted their was no evidence of mass voter fraud, Trump replied, “Oh really, then he’s not doing a very good job.”

What else– oh yeah, he refused to answer whether he tested for COVID the day of the debate, he misrepresented a study, saying 85% of people who get COVID were wearing masks (FALSE), said he’s second only to Lincoln in helping African-Americans and on and on blah blah bullshit.

FAKE NEWS! But wait, there’s more! Early this morning, Trump tweeted out a post from the Babylon Bee, a satirical site that’s a wannabe version of The Onion. The post said Twitter had shut down to slow the spread of negative news. “Wow, this has never been done in history. This includes his really bad interview last night,” Trump tweeted.

Well, he’s right– this has never, ever, neverever been done in history. If you are voting for Trump, there is nothing I can say to you, you are too far gone. I just hope you put some serious thought into where your own mind and soul are.

And if you don’t think conspiracy thinking is dangerous, I invite you to read two pieces I wrote this week.

Richard McCaslin: An Obituary,” is about a person I met who descended into conspiracy theory. As the title suggests, he died. I wrote about him in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness.

A Militia of Phantom Patriots” discusses how conspiracy theory was a factor in the Wolverine Watchmen militia terrorists and their plan to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (and possibly Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, as we now know).

My book American Madness is a guide to Conspiracyland (buy it at Bookshop.org or wherever books are sold). Speaking of crazy uncles (I am one, myself!) I talked with the guys on the Strange Uncles podcast about my book to kick off their fourth season. They say: “American Madness is probably one of the best books we’ve read in awhile…highly recommended.” Thanks, Uncles! You can listen here: https://strangeuncles.podbean.com/e/strange-uncles-s4e1-interview-with-american-madness-author-tea-krulos/

Also, I’m doing a virtual event with the fantastic Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago on this Tuesday, October 20 at 7:30pm. I’ll be talking American Madness and doing some conspiracy theory trivia for some cool prizes. It’s free and streaming live on their YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/QuimbysBookstore
Check out the fantastic prizes HERE.

Richard McCaslin: An Obituary

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Richard McCaslin died two years ago today. I wrote about his life in detail in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness. I realized he never received an obituary. I wrote one for him here. 

RICHARD WILSON MCCASLIN was born to Ned and Elsie McCaslin on June 20, 1964 in Zanesville, Ohio. He was a Marine, Real-Life Superhero, stuntman, activist, and artist. Richard developed a passion for superhero comics when he was a kid and this interest in comic book mythology would shape the direction of his life. Richard was an honors student in high school and after he graduated, he served with the United States Marine Corps from 1982 to 1985, and was honorably discharged.

After he returned home, Richard bounced between Zanesville and wandering the country for several years, looking for a career that would utilize his talents and creative power. His hobbies included illustrating his own comic adventures and designing costumes based off his favorite characters– photos of him in these costumes appeared in comic book letters pages and in the quintessential magazine devoted to comic news, Wizard. In 1987, he attended the Kim Kahana Stunt School in Chatsworth, California, hoping to find a career in stuntwork. Nothing panned out in that field at first, but in 1996 and 97, he got to play one of his childhood heroes, Batman, in a stunt show at Six Flags Astroworld (in Houston).

Around this same time in the late 90s and early 2000s, Richard went through a tough time, losing both his parents and struggling to make connections and a career. He moved to Austin, where he created his own superhero persona, the Phantom Patriot, and moved briefly to Carson City before he stormed a place called the Bohemian Grove in California. He had seen a video created by conspiracy theory peddler Alex Jones (of InfoWars) that suggested a cabal of powerful men were sacrificing people, possibly children, in front of a statue of an owl inside of the retreat.

Richard was arrested at the Bohemian Grove and charged with five felonies. After his raid, Richard was called “crazy” and a “domestic terrorist,” but I’d like to note that he acted on faulty information and believed he would be rescuing people that were in danger. There were multiple times inside the Bohemian Grove that he could have shot someone, but he didn’t. Richard spent about 6 and a half years in prison, where he channeled his creative side by drawing a comic book that included an autobiographical account of his Bohemian Grove raid.  

Upon his parole ending in 2011, Richard exercised his free speech rights by conducting peaceful protests, including a tour where he traveled coast-to-coast, protesting and seeing the country through his eyes. He conducted a protest in front of the Bohemian Club (which owns the Bohemian Grove) in downtown San Francisco in 2012. He moved to Las Vegas and then out to Pahrump, Nevada, where he finally settled down in a place he could call home. He lived a quiet life there, working with Las Vegas Motion Pictures to produce videos that showcased his creative talents, and regularly traveled to Las Vegas to protest and, of course, buy comic books. 

His videos can be seen on his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTSuMTR4SI1AZyEBt8WGIfA

Richard_McCaslin

I think it’s fair to say that the people that Richard befriended didn’t agree with or necessarily even understand his views. But no one that met him will forget him, and he made our lives more interesting and gave us plenty to think about. Few people got to see the side of Richard that was a caring, concerned, loyal friend. 

In October of 2018 Richard traveled from Pahrump to Washington DC, choosing to take his life in his truck, parked outside of a Freemason temple. He died October 15. A small memorial took place on his property with friends and neighbors in November 2019. I hope Richard has found peace from the things that troubled him in his voyage here on Earth.

–Tea Krulos
Author, American Madness: The True Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness 

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A Militia of Phantom Patriots

Cambria, Wisconsin, population 767, has “no bank, no grocery store and no stoplight,” as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes. For big city livin’ like that, you have to drive 25 minutes to Beaver Dam. Being Wisconsin, it does of course have a bar, which is called The Dump.

It’s out here on a property surrounded by cornfields that five domestic terrorists, militia members who called themselves the Wolverine Watchmen, met on July 10-12 to engage in “firearms training and other combat drills,” according to an affidavit by the FBI. They also attempted to built IEDs out of “black powder, balloons, a fuse, and BBs for shrapnel,” but they failed to detonate.

They property owner is a man named Michael H. Jung. His Twitter bio reads:
Belong to both Oath Keepers and III%ers. We are here to honor our countries [sic] Constitution and keep it the law of Our Country. What about you? MAGA Trump Patriot.

Michael Jung’s Twitter profile pic.

Both the groups Jung lists are militias. The Three Percenters get their name from the supposed fact that only 3% of America’s population fought against the British in the Revolutionary War. The Oath Keepers are named after the oath order to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Both groups view themselves as Revolutionaries fighting against a tyrannical government. They fly the “don’t tread on me” Gadsen flag, and the 13-star flag Betsy Ross flag.

The training session in Cambria was for a failed attempt to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who according to one of the Wolverine Watchmen, was a “tyrant bitch.” A couple of the members were identified in pictures from the massive pandemic protests at the Michigan Capitol building in April and May. Hundreds of armed people were there to protest COVID lockdown measures, which they said violated their freedom.

The FBI affidavit reveals that the Wolverine Watchmen had been forming a plan for months to kidnap Governor Whitmer and take her to “a secure location in Wisconsin for ‘trial.'” The location wasn’t identified, but perhaps it was to be Jung’s property in Cambria.

One of the militia’s ideas called for rallying “200 men” to storm the Michigan Capitol building in Lansing to take hostages, including the Governor. In another plan, they plotted to kidnap her from her vacation home and spent time staking it out twice in the last couple months. They planned to blow up a bridge to distract law enforcement and bomb police cars with Molotov cocktails. 13 men involved with the plot were arrested on federal and state charges.

The Wolverine Watchmen were all Trump fans and perceived him to be a fan of them– after all, as the lockdown protests were taking place Trump tweeted out “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” The assembled militias saw that as validation. Trump also often showed his disdain for Governor Whitmer, sometimes refusing to say her name and referring to her as “that woman from Michigan.” Trump tweeted out that in regards to the militias, the Governor should “talk to them, make a deal,” nevermind the fact that some of these protesters were calling for her to be lynched and beheaded.

Here’s another thing about the Wolverine Watchmen: they were conspiracy theorists. Reviewing the Twitter feed of Michael Jung, the property owner in Cambria, we find the full gamut of 2020 conspiracies between February and his last tweet in August 25– lots of posts sharing anti-vaxxer media, a few posts celebrating QAnon (including a video titled “We are Q. The Plan to Save the World.”) as well as posts about 5G (a “direct energy weapon system”), voter fraud, FEMA camps, the fake “plandemic,” and references to Democratic governors being “tyrants.”

Other Wolverine Watchmen posted conspiracy media as well. Eric Molitor posted conspiracy theories related to QAnon, Peter Musico, ranted on YouTube about the “Deep State,” and shared links to Owen Shroyer, an InfoWars host, while Joseph Morrison shared anti-vaxxer theories and also encouraged his Twitter followers to tune into InfoWars, run by conspiracy peddler extremist Alex Jones. And that’s just what we know so far.

Musico, Molitor, and Morrison on the bottom row all shared conspiracy theories on their social media.

Jones and InfoWars often pop up in conspiracy driven plots– in my book American Madness, I detail how the influence of Alex Jones led a man named Richard McCaslin to heavily arm himself and raid a private retreat of powerful men called the Bohemian Grove back in 2002. He believed he would find satanic sacrifices taking place there. McCaslin viewed himself much like the Wolverine Watchmen probably do, not as domestic terrorists, but as patriots (McCaslin even dubbed himself the “Phantom Patriot”), fighting in a Revolutionary War.

Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot after his arrest in 2002.

The story repeated again in 2016 when a man named Edgar Maddison Welch saw a video on InfoWars about the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which led to his raid on the Washington DC pizzeria Comet Ping Pong. A wave of violence inspired by QAnon beliefs has risen under the Trump administration. 

Alex Jones, by the way, denounced McCaslin’s Bohemian Grove raid after it happened, saying that it sounded “crazy,” even though he was the inspiration. That’s a pattern of denial and disassociation he’s followed ever since, and sorry, Wolverine Watchmen, that includes you. On a recent show, Jones said the whole scheme was a “false flag” by the “Deep State.” In his words:

Well, we knew it was coming. I predicted over and over again, the last few months, it’s not a hard prediction, that they’d engage in a provocateur setup or a false flag against Democrat Party officials, to make them look like victims when they launch incredible tyranny.

Trump, the Conspiracy Theorist-in-Chief,  is culpable in this. His presidency has normalized conspiracy belief about the pandemic, alleged voter fraud, and civil unrest. He knows the value of misinformation and fear-mongering– that’s his true Art of the Deal.

This has not been the first incident of armed conspiracy theorists on the march recently– last month I wrote a column where I reported on two armed men heading to Kenosha (to potentially shoot protesters) that were arrested at a hotel. They were part of the 417 Second Amendment Militia. An examination of one of their Facebook pages again turned up lots of posts about the “COVID hoax,” voter fraud, and conspiracies about Trump’s favorite enemies. A disturbing report from Minneapolis, meanwhile, has shown that a private security firm is hiring mercenaries to “make sure the Antifas don’t try to destroy the election sites,” though there’s no evidence such a plan exists.

Taking to Twitter to comment on the plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer, Trump once again chose not to condemn right wing extremists, but called out “Antifa, Anarchists, Looters and Mobs.”

The real threat to safety of people’s lives, as these cases show, are white supremacists and conspiracy-inspired militia groups like the Wolverine Watchmen. And no matter the results in November, expect to see more plots like this one. If Trump loses, they will consider themselves at war. If he wins, they will be emboldened.

Tea Krulos is the author of American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness.

Sources

Read the FBI affidavit in the militia plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer,” Detroit Free Press

Residents shocked band of men trained in Cambria for governor kidnapping plot,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The ‘Wolverine Watchmen’ Accused of Targeting Michigan Guv Spooked Their Neighbors,” Daily Beast

Michael H. Jung Twitter page: https://twitter.com/climer6699 [accessed Oct. 10, 2020]

Plot to kidnap Michigan governor has ties to Wisconsin,” CBS 58

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones: Alleged kidnapping plot against Gov. Whitmer a ‘false flag’ by the ‘deep state,'” Media Matters for America

Tea’s Weird Week: Would-be Kenosha Shooters were into Conspiracy Theory; ‘Q revealed?‘” teakrulos.com

Former Special Forces sought by business group to guard polling sites in Minnesota, company says,” Star Tribune

Tea’s Weird Week: A Brief History of the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

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By Tea Krulos, Milwaukee Paranormal Conference founder and director

As I was wrapping up my second book, Monster Hunters in 2015, I came up with a spark of an idea for promotion– why not host a mini-paranormal conference? I had met a good number of interesting researchers of all things unusual from the Midwest. I could invite the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee, the ghost investigation team I had shadowed to write several chapters of the book about. I could invite Linda S. Godfrey, the researcher that broke the Beast of Bray Road story, and Jim Sherman, the Bigfoot researcher from Michigan I had spent a weekend with trying to find the elusive Michigan Sasquatch.

It all started to come together really well. I found a venue, the absolutely beautiful, historic, and atmospheric Irish Cultural and Heritage Center. There was a strong interest in the event– there hadn’t been an attempt at such a conference in Milwaukee for about ten years. It was stressful as any event run on a shoestring and a dream is, but what a great time. I thought I really had something there, so I decided to expand, rapidly.

That’s me leading a panel discussion with Allison Jornlin, Jim Sherman, and Nick Roesler in 2015.

In 2016, I bit off more than I could chew. We moved to UWM and although I’m proud of the programming that year, it was an insane amount of work and I walked out of the event losing lots of money (well, a lot of money for a semi-employed, bohemian writer who is constantly rolling the dice with his bank account). Between that and other factors in my life, I fell into a deep depression. I thought that perhaps Year 2 was also the end of the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference.

But then I remembered how much I loved working with all of these cool experts on weird subjects, the vendors, wonderful volunteers, supportive friends, awesome artists and musicians, everyone was just so enthusiastic about having this event. It’s a place where we could discuss all things paranormal– from parapsychology to debates on the Roswell crash to Lake Monster sightings to round-table discussion on the disappearance of D.B. Cooper. Dammit all, the show had to go on!

We returned to the Irish Cultural Center in 2017. It was ok– attendance was low. In order to organize and promote an event like this, it takes a lot of work and I’m often spread thin between the different aspects of my life. And as I was reminded recently when my dad showed me my 6th grade report card he found while cleaning, I’m not always good at asking for help, as 3 out 4 teachers agreed. It was good to see everyone again, though and keep it rolling. We also expanded to other events– we began hosting Friday the 13th Fests every Friday the 13th, a mix of horror themed music, fun stuff, and burlesque as well as Milwaukee Krampusnacht, held at Lakefront Brewery in 2017 before moving to the Bavarian Bierhaus.

The MPC banner flies again! 2019 @ Alverno College

The conference skipped a year in 2018 but returned in 2019 to Alverno College. I think 2019 was a good renewal year– there is certainly lots of potential with the Alverno space and we will be returning there with a big event in 2021 (if the pandemic ever ends).

This year we decided that rather than cancel entirely, we would feature some programming online. The great thing about this is that it’s free and available to anyone who wants to register. There is a solid line-up of speakers, panels, and activities, some from Wisconsin researchers as well as some from beyond.

You can buy this design as a t-shirt, tank top, sticker and other merch right here: https://www.teepublic.com/user/milwaukee-paranormal-conference

Friday: we are kicking things off by having a Ghost Story Happy Hour, I’m hosting Tea’s Weird Week Trivia (categories: Monsters of Folklore, Epic Ghost Hunters of History, and Wisconsin Cryptids) and a performance by Sunspot.

Saturday: Speakers and panels all day, headline speaker is John E.L. Tenney, and at 8pm tune into a live investigation of the Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear by the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee.

I will be giving a talk and showing some slides at 11:15am (CST) Saturday on “Strange Places and Secret Societies,” talking about research I’ve done for my book American Madness.

Sunday: Starting things off with a meditation session with Goddess Aida, then virtual tours, a documentary screening and more.

I’m looking forward to it. A huge thanks to everyone participating, American Ghost Walks for sponsoring, and for everyone joining as attendees during this crazy time. I appreciate you all and hope to see you there virtually, and hopefully in person in 2021.

Again, you can register for free for the virtual conference and check out the full schedule here:
https://milwaukeeparacon2020.heysummit.com/

You can get my new book American Madness wherever books are sold, but I recommend my friends Lion’s Tooth: https://www.lionstoothmke.com/american_madness.html#/

My other books are available signed and personalized through the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Square store (in the “Tea’s Weird Week Gift Shop” section): https://milwaukeeparacon.com/online-store/

Diorama from Feral House on Vimeo.

Tea’s Weird Week: Trump’s October Surprise

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Trump has COVID! Who would have guessed it could happen to a guy who refuses to wear a mask, refuses to socially distance, and huffs hot air all day? Melania has it! Hope Hicks has it! Will Mike Pence get it?

My sources say “likely.” I haven’t really looked online yet, but I’m sure the conspiracies are already starting to fly.

This might be Trump’s October Surprise. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, I refer you to Wikipedia:

In American political jargon, an October surprise is a news event deliberately created or timed to influence the outcome of an election, particularly one for the U.S. presidency, or sometimes an event occurring spontaneously that has the same effect. 

This October Surprise is going to shake down one of two ways. Here’s the first:

Imagine this– Trump is gravely ill. His supporters are all holding their MAGA hats over their hearts, praying for Trump (and a winning lottery ticket– prosperity gospel and all) when, all of a sudden, full recovery! Trump runs up a ramp and announces to a packed stadium that hydroxychloroquine cured him and COVID is over if you want it! Everyone is elated and begins screaming and spraying droplets in each other’s faces. They begin telling the story of the Trump-Messiah, the man who stared Death in the face but defeated it by his own wit and wile (“See, I told you hydroxychloroquine would work. It worked tremendously.”)

That last part isn’t far-fetched. He already has a cult devoted to him–QAnon, who view him not as a business scam artist/ reality show clown/ orange hobgoblin, but as a savior figure.

Side note>>>>>>QAnon, did I not tell you to leave Chrissy Teigen alone? (See my column “Am I Chrissy Teigen?“) Teigen had a miscarriage this week. Heartbreaking, right? Who could possibly be low enough to kick someone when they’re down like that? I think this Daily Beast headline answers that:
QAnon and Pro-Lifers Hit a New Low Mocking Chrissy Teigen’s Miscarriage.”

These are Trump’s people. You know who else is? His own street gang, the Proud Boys, who won bigly in Tuesday’s debate. Asked to denounce white supremacy, Trump evaded the question, told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” and called out Antifa instead.

The Proud Boys are being described by a lot of media as a white supremacy group, which isn’t exactly true, though they often stand shoulder to shoulder with white supremacy groups. They are sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, offensive, and violent. They are a club that celebrates toxic masculinity, Trump, InfoWars, and mostly just wants to fight with Antifa.

The Proud Boys were of course thrilled by Trump’s call to arms and added the words “Stand Back, Stand By” to their logo and members answered his call by posting comments like “standing by, sir!” When pressed on it the next day, media got a classic Trump waffle– he claimed he had never heard of the Proud Boys (highly unlikely as they’ve had a tight relationship with his former advisor Roger Stone).

This is the same strategy he’s had about others he claims ignorance of instead of doing the right thing, denouncing them– QAnon (“I don’t know much about them, but I hear they like me very much”) and former KKK member David Duke (“I don’t know anything about David Duke,” though he did later “disavow him.”) and even WikiLeaks (he praised WikiLeaks over a hundred times while campaigning, but after Julian Assange was arrested he said “I know nothing about WikiLeaks.”)

This means that either Trump is a spineless liar or he’s grossly incompetent about domestic threats and current events, take your pick, but I’d say the former.

As I said, this October Surprise is going to go down one of two ways– Trump is going to recover on the third day, a holy light radiating off him (oops, that’s just an energy efficient light bulb reflecting his orangeness, nevermind) as a crowd of QAnon, Proud Boys, Bikers for Trump, Pro-Lifers, gun nuts, Karens, incels, and the Ku Klux Klan cheer wildly, or you know, here’s the other way it could go down:

By the way, misinformation is rampant– this image is not from The Simpsons, as a viral claim makes, but a clever fake.

UPDATE: Here’s what one of the (former) QAnon candidates for Congress thinks (and, according to her, what we’re all thinking.)

My book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness is out now from Feral House and is available wherever books are sold, including Bookshop.org

I had a great time discussing the book on The Rogge Report, which you can watch here:

Tea’s Weird Week: Fall 2020 Reading List (Non-Fiction)

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It’s been awhile since I posted a reading list (last one was in January) so I’m taking a break from conspiracy theory this week to talk about 3 titles I’ve read recently and 3 I hope to read soon, all non-fiction titles. Any time is a great time to read, but I suppose I have a particularly romantic vision of reading in fall. Tomorrow is my birthday– I don’t have any strange birthday adventures planned, but I do plan on reading and relaxing a bit. Click on the highlighted titles below to find links to them at Bookshop.org.

Read it, loved it

The Rise of Real-life Superheroes (And The Fall of Everything Else) by Peter Nowak

When I first heard about this book, I was a bit like “well, been there, done that,” as I wrote a book about Real-Life Superheroes in 2013 titled Heroes in the Night. I’m glad I read the book– Nowak does a first rate job telling this story. There’s some familiar names and history to those who know RLSH, but Nowak explored some fresh angles as well. I really enjoyed reading about a Superman tulpa, African interpretations of superheroes, and really great material on the Guardian Angels, as well as reading about teams I never got around to meeting.

Nowak presents an engaging book that explores comic book (and vigilante) history and ends up on street level with the Real-Life Superheroes in San Diego, Chicago, Orlando and beyond. It’s an accurate portrait of a fascinating, colorful, and timely subculture.

Sisters in Hate: American Women on the Front Lines of White Nationalism by Seyward Darby

In American Madness, I wrote about the history and evolution of conspiracy theory, using a man named Richard McCaslin’s life story to talk about these themes. Darby has written an excellent book that tells the story of three women and their lives in the white power/ Alt-Right movements, and by extension a history and examination of who these people are. I read the entire book with much interest– it moves along without getting bogged down but is also informative. It’s frightening and disturbing– but it’s something we need to be informed on.

Juggalo: Insane Clown Posse and the World They Made by Steve Miller

Someday you’ll find out why I’m reading up on Juggalos, but for now I’ll just say that this is a good portrait of the Insane Clown Posse and their following, and very much my style– honest but not condescending, a great story of outsiders banding together. Will you be “down with the clown” after the book? Maybe.

Throw on the “To-Read” Pile

Earth A.D. The Poisoning of the American Landscape and the Communities That Fought Back by Michael Lee Nirenberg

One reason I was thrilled to have American Madness published with Feral House is that all of the books in their catalog are interesting, if not completely fascinating. Nirenberg’s book, about citizens that live in toxic zones fighting back, came out around the same time as mine and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels: Insulting the President, from Washington to Trump by Edwin L. Battistella

Edwin interviewed me for his website, Literary Ashland and after I was introduced to him I found he had written this book which looks like a fun history of insulting Presidents, including that polyester cockwomble bawbag fucknugget leather-faced shit-tobbaganist Trump (those insults were all lifted from Scottish Twitter, btw)

Sinister Swamps: Monsters and Mysteries from the Mire by Lyle Blackburn

Blackburn narrated my book trailer for American Madness (you can see it at the end of this post) and is just a cool guy– he’s in a hellbilly band called Ghoultown, narrates documentaries for Small Town Monsters, and has authored several books about cryptozoology cases of the south– I’ve read his books on the Beast of Boggy Creek and the Bishopville Lizard Man, which were both great, so I’m looking forward to Sinister Swamps. You can find it on his website: lyleblackburn.com

Oh yeah, please do read my book, too: American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness has been getting great reviews and is available wherever books are sold, including Bookshop.org

Tea’s Weird Week: Am I Chrissy Teigen?

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Hopefully this will clear up further confusion. That’s me, Tea Krulos, on the right. I mean left! That’s me on the left.

At first, it would appear I don’t have much in common with Chrissy Teigen. Sure, we’re both fabulous. We’ve both starred in magazines, though for her it’s publications like the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and I’m more likely to be found in the Fortean Times…um what else– we both like cookies and cocktails and we’re both carbon based lifeforms. But twinsies– I dunno.

Let me explain– my friends at Cult of Weird did me a solid and posted a link to my new book American Madness, with this nice summary:

Conspiracy theories used to be relegated to the fringes of society, people hiding in their basements with tinfoil hats. How did something like QAnon suddenly become mainstream? Infiltrate the deep state with author Tea Krulos in his new book American Madness.

Well said, thank you Cult of Weird. But apparently not appreciated by Cult of QAnon. One of the pro-Q commentators left this stunning revelation:

“Tea Krulos aka Chrissy Teigen.”

Hmmm. I replied: “You busted me, dude. Please don’t tell my husband John Legend.”

Sadly, after being exposed to conspiracy ways of thinking for almost a decade, I think I understand what’s going on here. The main subject of my book, Richard McCaslin, saw symbolism and hidden meaning everywhere, in everything– owls (the Bohemian Club), skulls (Skull & Bones), reptiles (Reptilians), numbers (33 being a Freemason number, for example). Perhaps this person saw my name hidden within Chrissy’s: TEAgen, Ch(K)riulossy–?. I don’t know. I don’t think I even want to know.

Here’s the scary part: Chrissy Teigen and John Legend have been bombarded with harrassment by QAnon for years now, accused of being part of the Pizzagate sex trafficking/ cannibalism ring. There were false allegations the names of the famous couple were on the flight logs of Jeffrey Epstein’s “Lolita Express.” At one point Chrissy blocked 1 million people on Twitter (through chain blocking) because she was ruthlessly being attacked.

QAnon followers are well trained to believe that any enemy of Trump is an enemy to them and must be part of some conspiracy. Just over a year ago, Trump, alleged grown man and President of These United States, had a Twitter feud with Chrissy, referring to the couple as “boring musician John Legend and his filthy-mouthed wife.” That’s a rich comment coming from someone who openly brags about assaulting women and rips on “shithole countries.”

Chrissy responded by calling Trump a “pussy ass bitch.” Maybe we are the same person!

QAnon got the conspiracy machine rolling, scrapping together bits of information that they interpreted to build the narrative– Chrissy had tweeted once about a show called Toddlers & Tiaras, a smoking gun that she was a pedophile, according to Q’s followers.

Chrissy’s reaction was featured in an article in Newsweek:

“[I]f I take legal action, it gets worse because then, to them, it’s true and I’m trying to ‘silence’ them. It’s on posts about anything. Random 90 days fan pages, meme accounts, anything. Even if the content is normal, the comments are….this s**t,” Teigen remarked in a tweet thread blasting the “Q” conspiracy theorists.”u know what is not great? I still have to read on social media many times a day that John and I are pedophiles and look at photoshopped/miscaptioned photos of us on ‘Epstein Island’ and I just have to deal with it because ‘people are crazy these days,'” Teigen continued.

Now I can’t speculate what’s going through Chrissy’s head (or can I?) but it certainly must suck to have an insane internet mob harassing you on every post you make about how you’re a satanic pedophile cannibal. And all because these people got into the Q-cult, where beliefs like this are the norm.

Leave Chrissy Teigen alone, you ghouls! And leave my man (oops, I mean her man) John Legend alone, too!

Please Clap Dept.: I got a bunch of American Madness related media this week, including Lake Effect, OnMilwaukee.com, Literary Ashland, Diabolique magazine (and The Rogge Report, which should be out tomorrow) and this appearance on Rising Up with Sonali:

You can order American Madness via Lion’s Tooth, Quimby’s, Bookshop.org, and wherever books are sold.