Tea’s Weird Week: The Gavel

A lot of court cases caught my interest over the last week or two. Me and Heidi discuss some of them in the latest episode of the Tea’s Weird Week podcast. Here’s a run down:

– Kyle Rittenhouse case. As of this writing, the jury is still deliberating on what Rittenhouse, who shot and killed 2 people (and injured a third) in August 2020 in Kenosha. I’ve had an interest in this case since it happened. I wrote a Milwaukee Press Club award winning article on the “citizen journalists” who caught the shootings on video: How Citizen Journalists Captured the Chaos in Kenosha (milwaukeemag.com)

As well as a short follow up during the trial: Citizen Journalists Footage Plays Key Role at Kyle Rittenhouse Trial (milwaukeemag.com)

[UPDATE: Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all 5 felony counts]

Alex Jones meets consequences. A Connecticut judge found Jones to be liable for damages, in the latest ruling on cases filed by families of the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. Jones promoted that the tragedy was a “false flag” and that the grieving parents were “crises actors.” My book American Madness talks about Jones and Sandy Hook and the terrible influence Jones has on people. The jury will now decide how much Jones will face in damages.

-The QAnon Shaman. Sentenced to 41 months, Jacob Chansley probably got a longer sentence than other participants because his image was plastered all over the place. It was hard to ignore the shirtless guy wearing a horned headdress, facepaint, and carrying a spear. Another participant in the Q d’etat, Jennifer Leigh Ryan, who bragged that she wouldn’t go to jail because she was “white, with blond hair and a good job” got sentenced to 2 months in the slammer.

-Super creep Steve Bannon was indicted for contempt of Congress after he ignored a deposition to appear before a House committee looking into the January 6 insurrection. He’s facing a charge for contempt and another for refusal to produce documents. He could face 30 days and a year in jail respectively as well as fines up to $100,000.

-Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona was censured and had his committee assignments stripped by Congress after he shared an anime video that photoshopped his image onto a character slashing his colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s head with a sword and then attacking Joe Biden. As I said in one of my first columns of this year, the Orange Stain will remain for a long time.

Hey, I know who can get these dingdongs out of prison! The Ex-presidentiables! (Yes, this is a new painting by Jon McNaughton, subject of a TWW column from last year titled Tea’s Weird Week: Laughing My Ass Off at These Bonkers Trump Paintings | (teakrulos.com) )

Tea’s Weird Week, S3 ep09: The Gavel. Me and Heidi discuss some of the above mentioned cases and other weird news, trivia by Miss Information, and we close with a track by Creepy Little Things, “Mind Games.”
Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep09: The Gavel (podbean.com)
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Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)

Tea’s Weird Week: Things are Getting Strange, Damn Strange in Dallas

Last year, I wrote a column titled “I got my own conspiracy theory, which is that the world is becoming 24 more times batshit crazy every day.” Still a solid theory that I stand by. Back in April 2020 I was talking about the QAnon theory that “mole children” were being held captive in tunnels under Central Park. Today I bring you a disturbing number of stories of conspiracy theory madness…all from just the last couple of weeks. Ready? Yeah, neither am I.

1.) Hundreds of QAnon believers gathered in Dallas because they believed JFK Jr. would appear to them. (via The Dallas Morning News)

If you missed this one, hundreds of QAnon believers gathered in Dealey Plaza in Dallas (where President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963) on November 2. They believed that JFK Jr. (President Kennedy’s son, who died in a plane crash in 1999) would appear there, revealing he was alive. JFK Jr. has been part of QAnon canon since their early days– they believe he faked his death and has been in hiding, secretly helping Trump and may even be “Q” himself.

This gathering believed JFK Jr. would appear, talk about how Trump would be reinstated as president, but then being a messiah-like figure that transcends politics Trump would hand the presidency to JFK Jr., who would make disgraced Gen. Michael Flynn the Veep. When JFK Jr. failed to appear at noon as prophesized, they said he would appear like the Great Pumpkin at Midnight. Or maybe in disguise at a Rolling Stones concert that was happening that evening. But the story didn’t end there…

Photo via Dallas Morning News


2.) A QAnon sect appears to be starting a cult compound in Dallas. (via Vice)

As if point one wasn’t strange enough, it appears a contingent of those QAnon believers never left Dallas.

Last weekend, a large group led by QAnon influencer Michael Brian Protzman (and his parrot) returned to Dealey Plaza. There, the group lined up single file as Protzman brought them to him, one by one, to point out an “Illuminati symbol” aka something pyramid-shaped. This seems kind of like a baptism ritual. Then the group arranged themselves in a giant Q in the park. Much of the group has been staying at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas since November 2, where they hold meetings in the hotel conference room.

Vice reports:

In videos of the meeting shared online, Protzman talks about the Rolling Stones concert he attended [note- the concert happened the night JFK Jr. was supposed to appear in Dealey Plaza] with members of the group, and claims that Michael Jackson, John F. Kennedy Jr., Elvis, and Prince were all at the concert and were in fact playing the music on stage, disguised as the Rolling Stones. He also claims that R&B singer Aaliyah, who died in 2001, was one of the backup singers.”

So many questions. Which Rolling Stone was Prince portraying? I mean Elvis, who would be 86, must be Keith Richards? But QAnon believes that Richards was portrayed by JFK Jr. himself. What happened to the real Rolling Stones? Didn’t the Stones sing a song called “Sympathy for the Devil”– and Satanic Panic Q fans are ok with that?

Anyway, none of this is the most fucked part of the story– a rapper called “Pryme Minister” has “offered the use of a property near the city that could act as a permanent headquarters for the group, calling it “the promised land.”

Wow, that sounds like it’ll end well.

Dallas QAnon sect leader Michael Brian Protzman. Not pictured: his parrot.


3.) An update on the Vancouver Masonic Lodge. (via North Shore News)

Shout out to Vancouver friends Steve and Erin who sent articles on this. On March 30, a Vancouver man named Benjamin Kohlman drove around Vancouver, setting three Masonic lodges on fire. He was back in court this week. The North Shore News reports:

“The court heard Nov. 8 that Benjamin Kohlman, 43, who has drug addiction problems, was hearing voices that told him to burn the buildings because the Masons were engaged in mind control of other people…The damages to the buildings were $500,000, $2.1 million and $34,000 to $43,000, respectively, the court heard.”

4.) Aaron Fucking Rodgers. I’m just going to leave you with this Milwaukee Record headline: “Aaron Rodgers outs himself as delusional, pathetic, stupid person in rambling interview.”

5.) Conspiracy candidates to watch out for. Conspiracy theorists should concern us all as conspiracy peddlers are actively running for (and sometimes winning) public office and setting policy. In 2020 there were over 70 QAnon aligned candidates who ran for Congress. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado were elected. In the upcoming 2022 midterm and 2024 elections, expect more. There’s some “big names” who might be throwing their hat in. One is Ron Watkins, 8kun administrator and suspected fabricator of posts by “Q” (or at least someone who had a major role in creating QAnon). He’s running for a congressional district in Arizona (via the Arizona Mirror). And then there’s Trump’s conspiracy guru, Roger Stone. Stone has threatened that he’ll run for Governor of Florida if Gov. DeSantis decides to run as an opponent of Trump in 2024 (via CBS Miami). What’s next? A Congressional Committee to look into adrenochrome? A Flat Earth Party? It seems entirely possible.

Left: ultimate Troll and Q suspect Ron Watkins. Right: conspiracy peddler and Batman villain Roger Stone.

6.) Conspiracy believers say Travis Scott concert deaths were part of “Satanic” ritual. After the tragedy of the concert deaths in Houston (which now total 9 after another person died of their injuries), theories started to spring up that the deaths were actually some kind of Satanic blood libel sacrifice to Moloch. Evidence cited was a stage catwalk that looked like an inverted cross, fiery visual effects, and hip hop’s alleged association with the Illuminati.

Sadly, as someone in the Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group pointed out, these were sacrifices– to the almighty buck. They knew there was no way to safely do security for 50,000 people, but they packed them in anyway because they were greedy. No Illuminati or Reptilians needed when you have run-of-the-mill shitty, greedy people on the job.

Tea’s Weird Week, S3 ep08: Things are Getting Strange, Damn Strange in Dallas: Me and Heidi discuss these conspiracy stories and more weird news, trivia from Miss Information, and we close out with a track from our sound engineer, Android138, “WrongTown (Sex Appeal).”

Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep08: Things Are Getting Strange, Damn Strange in Dallas (podbean.com)

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Check out my book, which explores conspiracy theory culture and the dangers within:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Tea’s Weird Week: Horror Hosts

I’m still recovering from October. What a month! Definitely one of the busiest I’ve experienced. I did a bunch of tours for American Ghost Walks, did some podcasts, took a trip to California to work on the American Madness doc and…oh yeah, started a new project– a documentary short based on an article I wrote for the October Milwaukee Magazine. The doc’s working title is Kenosha Horror Hosts.

This all started back in 2016 when I met a horror host from the Kenosha area, Deadgar Winter, who has a show called Deadgar’s Dark Coffin Classics. That same year I also first encountered Dr. Destruction, a horror host with a show called Crimson Theatre, also based in Kenosha.

A horror host show features a zany character (or cast of characters) that introduces an old horror film (or independent features) and they do short skits as “bumper segments” when going to commercial breaks.

Vampira is cited as the first horror host. Actress Maila Nurmi hosted The Vampira Show in 1954. Her life story is really interesting and amazing and if you’re looking for a good book, I highly recommend Glamour Ghoul: The Passions and Pain of the Real Vampira, Maila Nurmi, written by her niece Sandra Niemi (published by Feral House, who published my book American Madness).

The original Goth Queen, Vampira.

Some other famous examples of horror hosts– Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (she was supposed to be a Vampira reboot, but her producers decided they would just rip Vampira off and not pay her), Chicago’s Svengoolie, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and Joe Bob Briggs to name a few.

I got Svengoolie’s autograph at the 2015 Chicago Ghost Con.

After I met Deadgar Winter and Dr. Destruction, I thought there might be an interesting story there and I filed it away in the back of my brain. When I saw that two of Deadgar’s co-hosts, Celeste and Morgan Parker had split off and started their own show (Hexen Arcane), I decided it was time to do the story up. Then I discovered there was a fourth show in the Kenosha area– Nightmare Cinema with Uncle Wolfman. Whaaaaaat. Four Kenosha horror host shows?

While working on the article I just had a kind of light bulb moment where I could see the story being a great documentary short– it’s a story filled with colorful characters. My Tea’s Weird Week podcast co-host Heidi Erickson introduced me to her friend, filmmaker Alicia Krupsky, who agreed to be director. Christopher House, a co-founder of the Twisted Dreams Film Fest is a producer and cinematographer. Stephen Vincent Anderson and Heather House have provided additional camera work and we’ll have more talented people helping with production.

The documentary crew at Dr. Destruction’s haunted manor, an attraction at the Jerry Smith Pumpkin Farm in Kenosha. L-R: me, Christopher House, Dr. Destruction, Alicia Krupsky, Stephen Vincent Anderson.

We did a few shoots, including the bulk of interviews we wanted last month and it’s been a blast. Winter is going to be a good time to work on editing. We’re hoping to be done in late spring or early summer and will be entering Kenosha Horror Hosts into film fests. In the meantime, you can read my Milwaukee Magazine article here (or listen to me read it on this week’s Tea’s Weird Week podcast, link below): A Look Inside the Surprisingly Large Web of Local Horror Hosts (milwaukeemag.co

My article in the October Milwaukee Magazine.

Tea’s Weird Week S3 ep07: Halloween Hangover: Happy witching season! Tea reads his article on Wisconsin horror hosts from the October issue of Milwaukee Magazine. Tea and Heidi discuss Tea’s encounter with a street preacher while leading a ghost our, QAnon thought JFK Jr. would appear to them in Dallas, Zuck’s BBQ bottle and more. Miss Information has trivia and we close out with a track by Rexxx, “Animal.” 

Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week S3 ep07: Halloween Hangover (podbean.com)
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Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)

Why the Alec Baldwin Shooting Became an Insta-Conspiracy

A tragic accident that resulted in death could have been avoided if the crew on the film Rust were listened to. Alec Baldwin, a producer as well as star on the film, fired a prop gun and a live round from the gun killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and critically injured director Joel Souza. The Union workers had warned of unsafe conditions on the set and specifically the prop gun, which had not functioned properly in previous takes. Some workers quit over safety concerns, other Union workers were removed and non-union workers brought in to replace them. It’s unknown how a prop gun with a live round made it’s way on set– the investigation is still in process. I immediately knew that this would become conspiracy lore, and that was correct– I’ve since seen a variety of QAnon theories, with one even pinning a piece of yarn to Alec Baldwin’s role in the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October. Because, well…it’s October. How did I know this was insta-conspiracy material? Well, here’s the main reasons:

1. Baldwin is Already a QAnon Villain

QAnon believes there is an evil cabal of Satanic pedophiles out there and all you have to do to be put on this shit list is to be an opponent of Trump. There is a “6 degrees of Kevin Bacon” going on here– anyone that knew Jeffrey Epstein (except Trump himself, of course), associated with Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, etc. etc. is part of the conspiracy. But Alec Baldwin is one step beyond that– he is, in Trump’s squinty eyes, an actual enemy. Enraged by Baldwin’s doofy impersonation of him on Saturday Night Live, Trump used his Twitter platform to frequently attack SNL and Baldwin in particular.

In 2017, Trump tweeted that SNL was “very unfair and should be looked into.” In 2019 he tweeted that the “Federal Election Commission and/or FCC” should investigate the show because it spent “all of their time knocking the same person (me) over & over.” In 2019 he also tweeted:

“Nothing funny about tired Saturday Night Live on Fake News NBC! Question is, how do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution? Likewise for many other shows? Very unfair and should be looked into. This is the real Collusion!”

Again, to be clear, the President of These United States was all bent out of shape and spending an inordinate amount of time talking about this:

2. Trump Helped Normalize Spreading Conspiracies About His Enemies to His QAnon Followers

With Roger Stone (a self-described “dirty trickster”) as his spiritual guru, Trump quickly repeated the benefits of conspiracy theory as a weapon of choice in his campaign. It wasn’t the first time– Trump was the loudest and most famous voice that pushed the racist Birtherism conspiracies about President Obama. Many people still believe that Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii (as per his birth certificate). After beating down the vast field of Republican runners leading up to the 2016 election with silly nicknames, in the final stretch he knew he needed to “go hard” against the remaining few left standing. That’s when he implied that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination. Look, I despise Ted Cruz and thoroughly enjoy laughing about the conspiracy that he’s the Zodiac Killer, but the reality is that he’s not the Zodiac Killer and his father wasn’t involved in the JFK assassination, and the fact that Trump just got away with saying that without any repercussions is pretty insane.

If we lived in a normal timeline, that (along with him openly mocking a person with a disability, being racist, bragging about sexually assaulting women, etc.) would have ended his campaign. But one of the worst things about the Trump presidency is that it normalized conspiracies, misinformation, name-calling, narcissism, and labelled actual media as “fake news” and “the enemy of the people.” He got away with it by utilizing a “firehose of falsehoods” i.e. he was spouting out so much crazy stuff, it was hard to pin down one thing or another because minutes later he was saying something else equal to or more crazy.

Cruz was far from the only target. When Trump got butt hurt over watching pundit Joe Scarborough’s show, (Morning Joe, MSNBC) he dug up a conspiracy hit piece that he had murdered an employee in 2001 and left her dead body in a campaign office even though he was out of town. (See my column, “Trump’s Joe Scarborough Conspiracy Obsession“). And these are just a couple examples– I haven’t even mentioned Hillary Clinton, Hunter Biden, “Obamagate,” or the 2020 election.

3. The World is Chaos and That’s Something Conspiracists Can’t Wrap Their Head Around

Conspiracists don’t believe in coincidence. They think everything is a well designed plot, especially if there is an unknown element.

Take for example the murder of Seth Rich. Rich was a staff member of the Democratic National Committee. He was shot twice in the back and died just after 4am while walking home from a bar. Police believe it was an attempted robbery. Oh, but they didn’t take his wallet! Attempted– maybe something scared off the robber(s) but we don’t know because it’s an unsolved case. A feeding frenzy of conspiracy, from InfoWars to FOX News quickly spun a story that Rich was the one who sent DNC emails to WikiLeaks, and thus was murdered as part of the Clinton Body Count– the theory that Bill and Hill have left a pile of corpses behind them to rival Mickey and Mallory Knox as they’ve killed their way into power. I like to think of them cranking death metal and jumping out of bushes to personally stab the shit out of their enemies.

When I watched the report on the Alec Baldwin shooting on CNN, I was like, well this is definitely going to be a conspiracy because the reporting was uncertain. The anchor said “this is an accident as far as we know” and “we don’t know how such a tragic accident could happen.” That’s the difference between journalists and conspiracy peddlers. Journalists (good ones, anyway) need to wait for the facts. They can speculate, but they need to wait for investigations, reports, documentation. Those aren’t available immediately. Conspiracists, on the other hand, can pretend to know everything instantly– isn’t it suspicious how a prop gun could fire a lethal round? That’s because it’s a cover up– FACT.

Was this accidental shooting tragic and something that could have been avoided? Yes. Did it happen because Alec Baldwin was engaged in some kind of blood libel secret murder? NO.

You can read more about the tragic toll of conspiracy thinking in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness a book by Tea Krulos (bookshop.org)

Tea’s Weird Week: An American Madness Road Trip

Over the summer I was contacted by a filmmaker named Eric Hayden, who had heard me on a podcast (Rumor Flies) talking about my book, American Madness. He got a copy and read it and then messaged me, asking if I’d thought about adapting the book into a documentary. I told him I had always believed that the book would adapt well into that format.

There were a couple things that made me want to work with Eric (and his wife, Kim).

One was that he had read the book and understood it. That might seem like a low bar, but over the past ten years or so I’ve talked to plenty of reality show jokers and other people with film projects who want me in on something they’re developing who haven’t read my stuff. At best they are wasting my time (and their own). At worst, they are hoping that I hand over my research and/or contacts to a fringe group of people for little to nothing in return. Eric was offering to have me be involved each step of the way, something very much appreciated by me.

Second– Eric’s background is not in documentary filming but mostly video effects (though he does have directing and writing credits), however in looking at his impressive resume it was clear to me that he built his career by being hard-working, innovative, and talented. Some of the films he’s worked on include Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, Deadwood: The Movie (Eric’s team was nominated for a video effects Emmy for that one), and many more. Most recently, he’s been a video effects supervisor on The Orville.

So after some discussion, we agreed to start working on this documentary with myself, Kim and Eric producing, Eric directing, and me helping set up interviews. The first day of shooting was July 31 and was an extended interview with me here in Milwaukee. Since then, we’ve been working slowly but steadily to arrange interviews, dig up materials, and plan the direction of the documentary. We’re in contact almost every day– today, for example, me and Eric have been texting about how the tragic death on the set of a movie starring Alec Baldwin is ripe for a quickly developing conspiracy around it.

Earlier this month, we decided to spend a few days interviewing in Northern California and LA. It was a great, productive trip. Here’s some notes on what we did. If you don’t know what the Bohemian Grove or Richard McCaslin is, you should read my book American Madness.

I arrived in San Francisco on October 7 and spent the next day, Friday, relaxing. I met my friend Elizabeth for lunch, she had moved from Milwaukee to San Francisco many years ago. Saturday, Oct. 9 was the longest day of shooting interviews. We started out by talking to “Anonymous Grove Valet,” someone who had worked in one of the Bohemian Grove camps for over ten summers as a “valet,” an all purpose job of cooking, pouring drinks, cleaning, helping with luggage, etc. We wanted to find out what this person did or did not see in the Grove and what the clientele was like.

From there we headed to Superhero Desserts (1449 Webster St.) in Alameda, a bakery operated by Real-life Superhero members of the California Initiative. I first met Rock N Roll and Night Bug ten years ago at an RLSH event called HOPE in 2011. Def some of the favorite people I’ve met in that movement, I’ve several times cited them as doing the RLSH the “right” way. And so cool that they’ve opened their bakery business, a portion of proceeds going to their food/supply handouts to the unhoused. Rock and Bug also met Richard McCaslin in passing a couple times. It was great to see them and my only regret, as always, was not having more time.

Left to right: producer Kim Hayden, Rock N’ Roll, producer/director Eric Hayden, Yours Truly, Night Bug at Superhero Bakery in Alameda.

From Superhero Desserts, we ventured further north to visit Mary Moore. Mary is a longtime activist and one of the founders of the Bohemian Grove Action Network. For decades, she helped organize a group of activists who gathered outside the gates of the Bohemian Grove every summer to protest. BGAN was also key in sneaking undercover reporters into the Grove and extracting documents and pictures out (by Grove employees). I interviewed her by phone for American Madness, but slowly cruising up a windy, narrow mountain road to visit her cottages in the Redwood forest was quite an experience. Now in her 80s, Mary showed us around her incredible collection of research and I’m so glad we got to visit and get an interview with her. Mary lives just a few miles down the road from the Grove, so we of course had to visit. We didn’t attempt to trespass, but shot some footage in the area.

The road into the Bohemian Grove!

The next day, on Sunday, we interviewed Don Eichelberger, another BGAN founder, in front of the Bohemian Club in downtown San Francisco, then began the long drive down to the Los Angeles area. Once there, the Haydens were incredibly hospitable towards me, letting me stay in their guest room. We shot an interview with Dave Baker and Andrew Price, comic book writers and hosts of the Deep Cuts podcast, who were able to give insight on comic book aesthetics and conspiracy problems (they are currently unrolling a massive Deep Cuts series on QAnon, listen here: deepcutspod.com). We had another meeting, then I flew home.

There’s still much to do on the documentary, including work on reenactments and interviews in other cities. For now, we’re catching up on the many hours of interviews that were already filmed. I’ll update periodically as production moves forward. And next week I’ll talk about ANOTHER (but smaller scoped) documentary short project I’m working on about local horror hosts. Fun stuff!

Tea’s Weird Week, S3 ep 05: Denver Airport Conspiracy: On my way home from California, I transferred at Denver International, a notorious hub of conspiracy. I spoke to my Denver friend Jenny Sanchez (Long Days Travel) about how these conspiracies spun. Me and my co-host Heidi Erickson discussed weird news about the Not Deer, an unemployed wizard, the country’s fattest pumpkin, the Zodiac Killer, and more. Plus trivia with Miss Information, and we close out with a track by Jon Henry, “Chicken Little.”

Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week S3 ep05: Denver Airport Conspiracy (podbean.com)
Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)

Tea’s Weird Week: A Weird October

I’m back from an epic trip through California helping work on a documentary adaptation of my book American Madness. I’ll be writing more about that trip next week. This week I’m just sharing links to the latest Tea’s Weird Week episode.

Tea’s Weird Week, S3 ep04: A Weird October

Tea and Heidi discuss the recent Windigo Fest and other fall projects, plus weird news about NYC’s Mole Man, Shakira attacked by boars, shaman bear urine disaster, ninja infiltrates military base. 

Plus trivia from Miss Information and we close out with a track by Sleepersound, “Innamorata,” off their new album Idle Voices. 

Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep04: A Weird October (podbean.com)
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Please Clap Dept.: I also made recent appearances on two great shows:

Fascinating Nouns with host Daniel Glenn: Fascinating Nouns Ep. 192: The Proliferation of Conspiracy Theories w/ Tea Conspiracy
Midnight Society with Tim Weisberg: Monday, October 4th – Guest: Tea Krulos | MIDNIGHT.FM

Great conversations with both about my books and other projects. See you next week!

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)



Tea’s Weird Week: My Favorite Moments from Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2021

My name is Tea Krulos– I’m a journalist, author, tour guide, podcast host, and I founded the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference in 2015. The event took place this year September 24-26 and was sponsored by American Ghost Walks. It was a great time– the conference weekend is always kind of a whirlwind for me, but I had some really nice moments I wanted to share.

Friday Sept. 24: Paranormal Party Time

The conference officially begins with Paranormal Party Time at Faklandia Brewing. We were supposed to have activities on their patio, but rain came in and I had one of those stressful oh shit, everything is ruined moments. But I found myself surrounded by a great crew of people from American Ghost Walks, Tea’s Weird Week, and other assorted friends, standing around and drinking in the rain trying to figure out what to do. We rearranged some stuff and did a Ghost Story Open Mic, trivia, and a performance by Sunspot.

Heidi (left) shares a ghost story, Miss Information leads a round of trivia

You can hear a recording of the Ghost Story Open Mic session here: Tea‘s Weird Week Special: Ghost Story Open Mic 2021 (podbean.com)

Oh, and our volunteer Judy baked a UFO-themed cake for the event because it was birthday weekend for both of us! She also showed up at the conference the next day in an outfit inspired by the Flatwoods Monster. Amazing! My friend Hillarie Higgins also made me some ghost cookies!

Judy has been a great volunteer and supporter of the conference. Happy Birthday!

Saturday Sept. 25: Milwaukee Paranormal Conference at Alverno College (also my birthday)

-The morning of the conference is always a mad scramble. That’s just the way it is. But while scrambling, I was just so glad to see familiar faces of people I haven’t seen in awhile and to be able to meet some cool new people, too. The vendor floor was a great mix and we had a nice line-up of guest speakers. We tried to focus on Wisconsin-centric stories this year, everything from local ghost stories to Bigfoot sightings. Shetan Noir kicked things off with a talk on the “Lake Michigan Triangle” to a full house of people! Other Speakers included Baranaby from CAPS, Amelia Cotter, Allison Jornlin, Stacy Schuerman, Mike Huberty, Noah Leigh, J. Nathan Couch, and Jeff from Badgerland Legends.

Researcher Shetan Noir gives the first talk of the day on the “Lake Michigan Triangle”

– At 11AM Milwaukee Krampus Eigenheit, a group of local Krampus enthusiasts, was supposed to give a presentation but couldn’t make it. I stepped in to talk about the Milwaukee Krampusnacht event (Dec. 5, Bavarian Bierhaus). Rather than yammer on, I just showed this great video our friends at Haunt Collective put together after our first event and some photos from our 2019 event (taken by Troy Freund Photography). There was great enthusiasm for the event– it’s going to be the best holiday celebration in Milwaukee!

-At noon Mike Huberty was set to give a presentation on the urban legend of Haunchyville but was hung up for a minute helping with tech in the other room, so I told the people waiting for him that Mike would be along in a minute to “talk about a little place called Haunchyville?” Now that’s a good joke! (Get it? Because Haunchyville is an urban legend about a secret village of angry little people in Muskego? Ah, nevermind.)

Donovan Scherer of Studio Moonfall also created this fabulous Haunchyville coloring sheet to give out at the talk:

-Throughout the day, I signed a few books for people. It’s always a great feeling to get a book into the hands of a reader instead of sitting in a box somewhere. You can find out more about my books here: teakrulos.com/about

-The Tea’s Weird Week Live panel happened at 1pm. Me and Heidi hosted a panel that included Goddess Adia, Hillarie Higgins, J. Nathan Couch, and Donna Lea Wells Fink. Before we called guests up, me and Heidi discussed one item– that the latest paranormal investigator to explore the famously haunted Pfister Hotel was…Megan Thee Stallion, staying there because she was performing at Summerfest. I told Heidi that wasn’t a surprise because she had sung on “WAP,” which obviously stood for “Weird, Abnormal Phenomena.” Hey c’mon, that was a good one! But a very fun time. I gave out about a dozen gifts to the audience– books, a bat kite, hot sauce, and swag packs.

The Tea’s Weird Week podcast crew.

You can listen to the panel here: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep03: Live from the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (podbean.com)

-American Ghost Walks also did a panel with Mike Huberty, Allison Jornlin, Wendy and Scott Markus, and Carrie Postuma. We recorded it so you can listen here: Milwaukee Paranormal Conference American Ghost Walks Panel (podbean.com)

The American Ghost Walks panel

-Thanks to everyone who attended, our guest speakers and vendors, and our dedicated volunteers!

-Kinda nice– after the conference we didn’t have a live event this year, so I went home and got into pajamas to watch livestreams– Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee investigated the Cedarburg History Museum and American Ghost Walks livestreamed from the Brumder Mansion.

Sunday Sept. 26: Activity Day

-At 10am I arrived at Forest Home Cemetery where the day was starting with a Yoga in the Cemetery session. It was an absolutely beautiful day for it and when I arrived I found about 20 yogis ready to enjoy the morning. I really wish I could have participated, but I had to keep er movin.

Yoga in the Cemetery @ Forest Home Cemetery

-By Noon I was in Riverwest to drop by the MPC Poetry Open Mic at the Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts. It was MC’d by Kavon Cortex-Jones, one of the most talented poets in the city. Meanwhile, my friend Kelly Teague hosted a Pop-up Death Cafe at Grant Park (which is supposed to be haunted) and I hear that went really well.

MPC Poetry Open Mic @ Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts

-2pm, Wisconsin’s leading mafia expert Gavin Schmitt gave a talk at the Bay View Community Center, a perhaps lesser known but great event space. I stopped in and Gavin signed a couple books for me. He was a great addition to the conference this year.

-We had Third Ward and Waukesha American Ghost Walks and a Forest Home Cemetery “Art and Symbolism” tours going on at 3, but I headed over to the Witches Faire at Faklandia Brewing, set up by Heidi Erickson and friends. It featured vendors and workshops and it was the perfect day for it. There were many beautiful witches there, so I just hung out with a drink in the warm September sun and enjoyed hanging out with them.

The Witches Faire

-And holy smokes, another birthday cake, this time a Bigfoot-themed, baked by witches! If there was a spell baked into it, it was a good one!

-I didn’t make it to the last event of the day, a Milwaukee Twisted Dreams Film Fest presentation of Lake Michigan Monster at Shaker’s Cigar Bar. I hear it was fun!

Milwaukee Paranormal Conference will return next year. Milwaukee Krampusnacht is Dec. 5 at Bavarian Bierhaus.

If you want to help support us, we have some leftover merch. Artist Estephanie Mendoza did the fantastic designs this year. Check out our shirts (we especially got a lot of XL left), buttons, and stickers on our Square store: milwaukee-para-con.square.site There’s also donation buttons on the Square site as well as a PayPal donation link here: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/mkeparacon


Your support is appreciated!

Please Clap Dept.: I was featured in MKE Lifestyle Magazine in an article titled “The Season of Supernatural,” which features interviews with me and colleagues Linda S. Godfrey and Anna Lardinois. Here’s what they say about me:

“Local treasure Tea Krulos enjoys delving into the fringe side of social movements, oddball personalities and the supernatural. With a quick wit and measured tone, the Milwaukee author and journalist gleefully blogs and chats about our strange world and the paranormal in his “Tea’s Weird Week” column and podcast.”

Did you hear that? LOCAL TREASURE.

Photo by Laura Dierbeck

Tea’s Weird Week, S3 ep03: Live from the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference: Tea and Heidi lead a panel live at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference with special guests Goddess Adia, Hillarie Higgins, J. Nathan Couch, and Donna Lea Wells Fink. Plus a paranormal trivia question from Miss Information and a great spooky season track from Sunspot, “Spend the Night.”

Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep03: Live from the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (podbean.com)
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Tea’s Weird Week: The Great Conservative Radio Host Extinction of 2021

Marc Bernier, a conservative Florida talk radio host, has had his voice silenced.

No, not by the Deep State or Big Tech. Marc Bernier is as dead as a doornail and the cause was COVID-19.

“I’m Mr. Anti-vaxx,” Bernier proudly told his listeners in Daytona Beach on WNDB. “Mr. Anti-vaxx” is one of five conservative radio hosts who have died of COVID in the last month or so, an event that I’ve dubbed the Great Conservative Radio Host Extinction of 2021.

These 5 conservative radio hosts have all died from COVID in the last month.

Dick Farrel (also 65 and from Florida– he worked at stations in Miami and Palm Beach as well as the Newsmax channel) bit the big one. Farrel called COVID the “scam-demic” and described Dr. Anthony Fauci as a “a power-tripping, lying freak.”

Nashville-based host Phil Valentine, 61, host of The Phil Valentine Show, has croaked off. He was the anti-vaxxer answer to “Weird Al,” one of his songs being “Vaxman,” a toe-tapping tune about the government holding people down and forcing them to get vaccinated in parody of The Beatles’ “Taxman.”

Valentine’s fellow Tennessean Jimmy DeYoung, 81, a radio preacher who was host of the nationally syndicated Prophecy Today, warned his flock that vaccines were “government control.” He probably didn’t prophesize his death from a disease that has a widely available, free vaccine.

The latest to shuffle off the mortal coil is Bob Enyart, pastor at the Denver Bible Church and host of the Real Science Radio show (which, as you can probably guess, is not based on real science)– he died earlier this month. This guy was a real piece of shit. As The Mercury News notes:

“On his old TV show, Bob Enyart Live, the host would ‘gleefully read obituaries of AIDS sufferers while cranking ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ by Queen.'” Well, guess what, Bob?

Hey I’m gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust

That is 5 radio hosts who told their listeners not to get the vaccine, not to wear a mask, not to listen to the “Nazis” in the government, the CDC, the Deep State, the whatever. All dead.

You would think that will make people say, hey, maybe I should get that vaccine so I don’t die. But it won’t change a damn thing– people just will not get vaccinated no matter what, even if everyone around them dies.

On the other hand, I’ve often thought of how we can stop the firehose of falsehoods and the epidemic spread of mis and dis information, lies, pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, etc. Having hosts spreading misinformation die from coronavirus is not the solution I had in mind, but… there are now five less dangerous voices telling their audience to kill themselves. How high will the body count of the Great Conservative Radio Host Extinction of 2021 go?

Time, something these guys don’t have, will tell.

Tea’s Weird Week, S3 E2, A Panel of Witches: Heidi Erickson talks to Lane Burns and Raechel Henderson, two of the workshop presenters at the Witches Faire, part of the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference September 24-26. Tea and Heidi talk weird news about Real Life Superheroes, wooly mammoths, UFOs, and people going on some wild joyrides. Plus trivia from Miss Information and we close with a track from Puerto Wiccan (who will also be at the Witches Faire) called “Kryptonite.”

Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep02: A Panel of Witches (podbean.com)
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Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)

Tea’s Weird Week: What the Rougarou Do

Tea’s Weird Week, Season 3 starts today! Our previous two seasons were 13 episodes long, this time we’re doing ten episodes (but also a couple special episodes, like a holiday “Radio Krampus” special). This is our first autumnal season, so we got plenty to do and talk about– ghosts and monsters and much more. We’ll be recording live at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, September 24-26 and if you’re in the area hope to see you there: Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Returns Sept. 24-26, 2021 | Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (milwaukeeparacon.com)

We’re kicking things off this episode with a talk with Lyle Blackburn, a Texan author, musician, speaker, and narrator of documentary films for Small Town Monsters, a great independent production company that has created a series of documentaries on cryptozoology and other paranormal cases. Oh, and he’s also started his own line of handcrafted hot Monster Sauce!

Lyle Blackburn

Lyle has specialized in writing about cryptid cases from the South, documented in his books like Lizard Man: the True Story of the Bishopville Monster, Sinister Swamps: Monsters and Mysteries from the Mire, and The Beast of Boggy Creek: The True Story of the Fouke Monster, among others. That last title, about a Bigfoot-like creature stalking the Boggy Creek area of Arkansas, led Lyle to his first collaboration with Small Town Monsters. He’s since narrated several of their documentaries, include their new film, Skinwalker: Howl of the Rougarou. It’s out September 14. Here’s a trailer for the film:

As the trailer mentioned, the Rougarou is a tale of Cajun folklore from Louisiana. The word is derived from loup garou, the French word for “werewolf.” It’s said a curse can be placed on you that will transform you into a Rougarou under the moonlight in the Louisiana bayous. Some people have even claimed to have encountered this terrifying wolf creature.

Lyle told us more about the Rougarou legend, his work on the documentary, and the low down on some of the other projects he’s got going on, and let us know about a new destination on the Tea’s Weird Week bucketlist– the Rougarou Fest, which happens every fall (Oct. 22-24 this year) in Houma, Louisiana. It featues live music, delicious Cajun-style food, and they crown a Rougarou Queen– Oooooowooooo!

This episode also features me and Heidi Erickson trying to figure out this week’s weird news– people horsing around with Ivermectin, Christians Against Dinosaurs (“Big Paleo,” LOL), demons sending text messages, an expensive porno stash, and more. Plus original music by Android138, a new trivia question from Miss Information, and we close out with a track from Lyle’s hellbilly band, Ghoultown, “Night of No Tomorrows,” off their latest album, The Curse of El Dorado.

Tea’s Weird Week, S3 Ep01: “What the Rougarou Do,” Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep01: What the Rougarou Do (podbean.com)
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art by David Beyer

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)

Tea’s Weird Week: The Story of the Great Roswell Debate of 2016

Mark O’ Connell (left) and Donald R. Schmitt at the Roswell Debate, Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2016. Photos by Wendy Schreier Photography.

In 2015 I was really hyped about the release of my second book, Monster Hunters: On the Trail with Ghost Hunters, Bigfooters, Ufologists, and Other Paranormal Investigators (Chicago Review Press). Writing the book had been a blast– I had travelled around to meet investigators and go on Lake Monster and Bigfoot expeditions, went to a UFO conference, and spent several long nights trying to detect evidence of ghosts, among other adventures.

As I was thinking of book promotion, I had this light bulb moment– why not create an event that would showcase my work, fill a niche, and be hella fun? I could invite some of the people I had met while working on the book as guest speakers! I knew a ton of cool artists that could be vendors! I found a venue– the Irish Heritage and Cultural Center, located in an old (probably haunted) church that didn’t cost an insane amount to rent out. I was all in.

I started to assemble a line-up of speakers and turned to people I had met in my research like Noah Leigh (founder of the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee) and Allison Jornlin (founder of American Ghost Walks) for suggestions on potential guest speakers. We had a good line-up of speakers on cryptozoology as well as ghost experts– but I wanted some UFO talks. Two of the suggestions were Donald R. Schmitt and Mark O’ Connell.

While doing research for Monster Hunters, I had encountered Schmitt– I had seen him give a talk at the International UFO Congress in Arizona and realized I had probably read one of his books about the Roswell UFO crash in the 90s– as a teen I had been on a kick reading about UFOs, as teens tend to do. You might call Don “The Roswell Guy” as he’s written several books on the subject. I had no idea Schmitt was from Wisconsin and thought, wow, that’s cool, so I contacted him and he agreed to give a talk about Roswell.

I was also told that Wisconsin was home (at the time) to a writer named Mark O’ Connell, who had penned scripts for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine and was working on a biography of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, astronomer and pioneer of UFO studies. I thought, wow, that’s also cool, and I contacted him and he agreed to give a presentation on Wisconsin UFO cases. So now I had a great conference lineup of ghost researchers, Bigfooters, a Goatman expert, a panel that I was going to moderate, and the UFO talks and I started to post info about them online.

I got a polite email from Mark saying that he saw that Don was going to be at the event and that he did not really get along with him, so he wanted to prevent an awkward situation– for example putting them on a panel together. I didn’t find this to be too unusual– while working on Monster Hunters I had encountered many paranormal beefs. I spoke to a member of a ghost investigation group almost entirely composed of ex-members of a different group. I learned about Bigfooters who hated each other with a big, hairy passion. There are many rivalries in all the paranormal fields. I responded to Mark and told him that they would not cross paths. I still don’t know exactly what their dispute was about, but it had something to do with the J. Allen Hynek research (I think, don’t quote me on it).

The day of the conference was exhilarating and all kind of a blur. I was (at times literally) running around making sure things were running smoothly. We had a good crowd. There had not been any sort of paranormal themed conference in Milwaukee for over ten years and we got a good reception. Don was the last speaker of the day, and by this point I could take a breath and grab a beer (this is Wisconsin, where people drink anywhere and everywhere and the Irish Center’s bar was busy all day). I walked into the main room of the Irish Center to see how Don’s talk was going over. I looked up at the second floor balcony of the room, and noticed that Mark and his wife were sitting there, watching Don. Well, well, I thought. Keep your friends close but your enemies closer. Or something like that.

The after party was at Shaker’s Cigar Bar (probably haunted) and I sat down and had a drink with Mike Huberty, Allison Jornlin’s brother and organizer of American Ghost Walks. Mike had really saved my ass that day, as I am all thumbs with technology, but he is a mix-master, so he got things up and running on the main stage. We somehow got on the topic of Don and Mark and Mike made the joke that they should get up on stage and debate each other. We laughed about it.

Inspired by the success of the 2015 event I decided to do the conference again and to GO BIG in 2016. I’m not ashamed now to say that I got in over my head. Too big, too fast. I decided to do a 2-day event, switching the location to facilities at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. There was so much going on– 2 speaker rooms, a workshop room, a vendor floor, a livestreamed media table, a paranormal sound booth, there were guests like Loren Coleman and Katrina Weidman being flown in, a VIP dinner party, a film screening session. I knew the enormity of the task and began planning in September 2015, a bit over a year from the October 2016 event.

That’s me in the middle with cryptozoologist Loren Coleman (left) and paranormal investigator Katrina Weidman, MPC 2016 VIP dinner party.

The 2016 conference took over my life, I lost a shit ton of money that I didn’t have, and afterward I sank into a depression that stretched through the rest of that fall and winter. But I’m getting off track. I started lining up guests and emailed Don about returning as a guest speaker. His reply was quite intriguing and included this sentence: “I would be willing if it could also include a debate between me and Mark O’ Connell over Roswell.”

Whaaaaaaaat.

Of course I was into the idea. Conference programming can sometimes be dry and dull, so this was an exciting proposal. I also really believe that debate is a valuable skill and that society would be better off if more people learned how to think critically and present arguments. I emailed Mark and he said he was “very interested” as long as acceptable terms were established. Game on! Now I just needed to figure out how to properly run a debate.

After some searching I found David Henning, Director of Debate and Forensics at Lakeland College in Plymouth, Wisconsin. His credentials were impeccable and he was not involved at all in the world of paranormal research and as such was an impartial moderator.

David received, as many innocent people have over the years, a very strange email from me requesting help. I was thrilled when he replied that he was willing to establish debate rules and moderate. David gave me a couple of debate formats that might work and we agreed on one that would total 60 minutes with an additional 15 minutes for questions from the audience. Each speaker would have a 3-minute opening statement, followed by six topic questions with each speaker given 2-3 minutes response and alternating debaters given a 1 minute rebuttal.

David explained to me that “this format forces debaters to focus on word economy and clear, concise issue analysis.” (gavel cracks) Sounds good to me. The questions were to be shared ahead of time so the debaters could prepare. I’ve done a lot of non-fiction writing, everything from short blurbs to books, and a key ingredient is usually asking the right people the right questions, so I racked my brain on topics. But I had time, after discussion with all parties we determined it would fair to give the debaters questions one month before the debate to prepare. I put the debate aside and worked on the hundreds of other details of the conference that needed to be attended to.

Fast forward to September 2016, a month before the conference. I assemble the questions, like “Is it time for UFOlogy to move on from the Roswell event?” and “What impact has the Roswell Slides had on UFOlogy? Has it damaged credibility in the UFO field?” To explain that last question, Don had been involved in revealing photos that had been found on slides in a case that had been sitting in an attic for decades. One appeared to show an extra-terrestrial corpse, and the photo date was 1947, the same years as the alleged Roswell crash. Upon being revealed, researchers were able to deblur a placard in the image and discovered that the photo was of the mummified remains of a child that were on display at a museum.

The Roswell Slide

Don replied that he felt the questions were “slanted” against him. I replied that I was glad to talk to him about suggestions on changes to the wording, but he replied “Let’s go with what you have. No problems.” At this point I didn’t have time to ask twice– I was being bombarded with questions about the conference day and night.

My next message from Don said that in lieu of his 3-minute opening statement, he wants to show a video instead. This new twist was unusual, so I turned to David Henning for his opinion– he was the expert after all. David was inclined to reject the video idea entirely, but after some discussion was agreeable to it if all parties involved can view the video. Don wasn’t happy. When I told him David’s determination, he replied:

“Why don’t I send you all my answers as well? Is this a debate or a scripted reality show? I have participated in many debates through the years and have never been asked to provide my playbook before the game.”

This made me wonder what the hell does he have on video that was so secretive and important? Did he hire a private eye to tail Mark and capture some salacious indiscretion? Did he have actual film of the Roswell aliens? In any case, I had a sinking feeling that the debate was probably off.

After several days of back and forth, Don relented and sent me his video opening statement. I paused what I was working on to check out the video and it was… a clip from a George Carlin stand-up routine?! One of the classics where Carlin is angry and speaking out against the club we’re not a part of– the corporations, the fucking government. I use the F-bomb here because George uses a variation of it six times in this clip, but in the video Don gives me all the profanities are muted out. (Remember that detail.) You can see the exact clip right here (and yes I did title it “George Carlin Reveals the Secret Plot to Cover Up the Roswell UFO Crash.”)

I was quite baffled. This is what all the drama was about? I guess the video message was that “they” were covering up Roswell and that Mark was complicit in it? I can only speculate, but I think Don thought if he could surprise everyone with this clip that Carlin’s ranting would throw Mark off, unnerving him. Maybe in the same way chess master Bobby Fisher would try to throw his stoic Russian opponents off by demanding the room be rearranged, the lighting changed, and by making erratic movements on the chessboard.

As moderator, David was not happy with this twist as he thought Don was just trying to turn the debate into a “farce.” Mark was puzzled, but ok with the video, except for his concern that Don would swap the video out at the last second with something else and wondered if we had a killswitch in the event this happened. I assured him that we would be playing the video Don sent and wouldn’t allow him to switch it out.

As it turns out, Mark’s suspicion wasn’t unfounded. Right before the debate, Don approached Mike Huberty, who once again was helping us with A/V stuff, and handed him a jumpdrive, asking him to play the video on it as his opening statement. Mike knew something was up, and already had the original video cued up and ready to go, so he just played that. Afterward, Mike handed me the jumpdrive and explained what happened. The evidence sat in my pocket over the hectic weekend, but when it was all over, I popped the drive into my laptop to see what Don had intended to swap his ringer with. And it was…the exact same video, uncensored. It looked like Don’s secret plan was to try to rattle Mark with colorful fucking language.

The debate itself went well, I thought. After the strange video open, Mark and Don were both well-spoken, interesting, and followed David’s format, ceding to his gavel when time was up. After answering questions submitted by the audience, they shook hands and parted ways.

But you can make the determination of who had a better argument for yourself. Here’s an audio recording of the entire debate. It starts right after the two debaters were introduced: Tea‘s Weird Week Special: The Roswell Debate, Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, 2016 (podbean.com)

The Roswell Debate concludes: Mark O’ Connell (left) shakes hands with Donald Schmitt. Debate moderator David Henning is in the middle. Photo by Wendy Schreier Photography.

It took me 5 years to write about this, I think, because I needed some distance from it. Personally, 2016 was a pretty bad, painful year for me. The whole conference was stressful, and trying to negotiate the Roswell Debate was part of that stress. I’m having a really good year in 2021, so I think that now I can reflect. Here’s my thoughts on the Roswell Debate years later…what a goddamn strange thing that was, from beginning to end! But I’m so glad it happened. It was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a debate between two guys who have made really interesting writing careers related to the topic of UFOs, so thank you Don and Mark for participating, and to David for answering my weird invitation to moderate. I will always remember it, fondly now, as a wild and crazy chapter of my life.

Post-script: Mark O’Connell’s book, The Close Encounters Man: How One Man Made the World Believe in UFOs came out in 2017. Donald Schmitt’s latest title in Roswell: The Ultimate Cold Case (co-authored with Thomas J. Carey).

The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference is happening Sept. 24-26 at various locations. There are no debates planned this year. More info can be found here: Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Returns Sept. 24-26, 2021 | Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (milwaukeeparacon.com)

The Tea’s Weird Week podcast returns with Season 3 next week! We’re kicking things off with an interview with Lyle Blackburn– author, musician, lecturer and narrator of the new documentary Skinwalker: Howl of the Rougarou.

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)