Tea’s Weird Week: I Won Two Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism Awards

The Milwaukee Press Club Gridiron Awards were last night at the historic, beautiful (and famously haunted) Pfister Hotel. Yours Truly was there. I had a seat at the big kid’s table with the Milwaukee Magazine staff (I should point out that while I’m a frequent contributor, I’m a freelancer, not staff). That was nice, I got to meet some people in person that I’ve only worked with via email. I sat next to Rich Rovito, a hard working writer who absolutely deserves the five awards he took home.

The ballroom was filled with a who’s who of media– the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel thankfully has enough writers left to fill a table, WUWM was there (Lake Effect host Joy Powers won an award–congrats!–and is always surprised at how tall I am). Concealed Carry Magazine was there, too. I assume they were all packing in case someone tried to run off with their awards.

The awards got over 900 submissions (across all categories), according to MPC. They were judged by other press clubs and organizations around the country. Being judged by my peers is more meaningful to me than some run-of-the-mill online vote popularity contest.

I want to give a heartfelt thanks to all of the Milwaukee Magazine staff– Alli, Archer, Brianna, and especially Carole Nicksin and Chris Drosner for giving me the opportunity to excel. I appreciate their faith in me. Also a big congrats to Matt Ludtke, who won Gold for his fantastic photography on a story I wrote, “The Last Fisherman of Washington Island.”

I’m going to tell you a bit about my two Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism award winners, both in the “soft news” category. Soft news refers to pieces on entertainment and lifestyle as opposed to “hard news” on politics, crime, business (my first MPC award was in the short hard news category, 2021).

The Last Frame (GOLD- Best Short Soft Story)
www.milwaukeemag.com/the-future-of-this-riverwest-institution-is-uncertain

This story already won the best award possible– the approval of former Falcon Bowl owner Lynn Opinski. I’m told she read the article out loud at the bar and enjoyed it. I think a sure bet when looking for a soft news story is to look for a place or event or institution that has a lot of love from a community and try to explore why that is.

In this case I had a good head start– I’ve hung out at Falcon Bowl on and off since my early 20s, so I know firsthand that it is a favorite gathering place for the good people of Riverwest and beyond. I wrote this while the future of the business was unknown, the Riverwest Investment Cooperative (which was another unique aspect to this story) was still in negotiations with new business operators.

Here’s what I think made this article a winner.

Photo by Jarvis Lawson for Milwaukee Magazine


1. A strong opening. I can’t tell you what a rush it is when someone gives you a good quote and you can visualize the quote marks hanging around it. I thought Vince Bushell would be a good interview for this article and his story in the opening really paved the path for the rest:

One evening, Vince Bushell was strolling down Clarke Street when the night erupted into sound. The bells of St. Casimir Church were tolling the evening hour; bowling balls were crashing into pins in the basement of Falcon Bowl; somewhere in between, a punk band was screeching out a rehearsal in an attic.  

Bushell, sometimes referred to as the “Mayor of Riverwest” for the number of community projects he’s helped foster, had an epiphany: He was hearing the “collective soul of Riverwest floating up and down the street between St. Casimir’s steeple and the lanes of Falcon Bowl.” 

2. Lots of color. Magazine pieces need a lot of “color,” (a word for description) and I kept that in mind. What does the place sound like? “The clatter of balls striking pins punctuates her sentences as she talks from behind the counter.” What does it look like, feel like? “Orange and tan plastic seats, beer holders on the scoring tables, racks filled with bowling balls in purple, blue, mottled and standard black – it all feels as comfy as your uncle’s rec room.”

3. A strong ending. I knew it would be key for me to witness the last day of league bowling for the season before the transition to new business owners. I hung out and then captured this end of an era:

Then, at 10:39 p.m., the last ball rolls down lane 4, delivered by a bowler named Ricky. After hitting two strikes, he ends the night with two pins left standing. The crowd cheers and heads upstairs for another round at the bar. The lane lights are shut off. And that’s it … for now. 

An update: I’m glad to say that the new Falcon Bowl owners are doing a fantastic job giving the building some needed updates while still retaining the wonderful soul of the place so we can all continue to enjoy visiting, hopefully for many more years.

Wanna Buy a Famous Tugboat? (SILVER-Best Soft Feature- Online)
www.milwaukeemag.com/wanna-buy-a-famous-tugboat

Where to start with Mark Gubin? I’ve described him as a “cosmic prankster” for his famous roof, which reads WELCOME TO CLEVELAND (it’s on the flight path to Mitchell International here in Milwaukee). My editor Chris passed on an email from Mark (who often ignores media requests), explaining he was looking for press because he wanted to sell his beloved historic tugboat, the Solomon Juneau. The first thing I do when figuring out a story is to Google the person or place to see what’s already out there, so when I saw Mark was the guy with the roof, I was instantly very interested in the story.

Mark made this easy as he’s the ultimate, boss level Milwaukee character. It would be pretty hard to write a dull piece about him.

There were some big struggles with this story internally, but I’m not going to get into that. I’m just happy that this story happened and received this recognition. Most of all, I’m glad I made a new friend– me and Mark get lunch together almost every Thursday. I’m working with two talented local filmmakers, Alicia Krupsky and Stephen Vincent Anderson (also working with me on I’m Your Host) to create a short documentary about Mark. We’ve done most of the interviewing for that already. The working title, of course…Welcome to Cleveland.

Photo by K. Synold for Milwaukee Magazine.

Freelancing is tough work. Getting recognitions like this helps you to carry on. I’m grateful to everyone who supports me.

If you’d like to support me and a bunch of other writers, artists, and musicians, I ask you to please consider supporting QWERTYFEST MKE by making a donation, buying tickets, and helping spread the word: linktr.ee/qwertyfest_mke

Tea’s Weird Week: I’m Here to Chew Bubble Gum and Kick Ass, but also Announce a Paranormal Conference Date, Burn a Bӧӧgg, and Solicit Funds for a Typewriter Festival

Sorry about that column title, but it has been a helluva week. Let’s talk about it.

Milwaukee Paranormal Conference dates announced! Here’s the breakdown: Friday, October 13– Friday the 13th Fest opening night party (venue TBA cause I haven’t found one yet).

Saturday, October 14– our main conference day returns to our roots at the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center (ICHC). It’s a beautiful building (and haunted! Allison Jornlin wrote about the ghosts of the ICHC HERE) that will be filled with guest speakers and vendors. American Ghost Walks is sponsoring this so there will be free admission, just register for your tickets here: milwaukeeparacon.com

Sunday, October 15 will be our Activities Day, featuring a Witches Faire, tours, and more special fun stuff. Follow us on Facebook or sign up for the American Ghost walks newsletter for the freshest news on MPC23.

Me and Bobby McBӧӧgg. See my article for a bunch of pictures of the ceremony.

Burn the Bӧӧgg! My latest article for Atlas Obscura is about a Swiss snowman (called a Bӧӧgg) burning ritual, a version of which I got to witness in New Glarus, Wisconsin. This article is part of a larger series that rolled out this week at Atlas Obscura, “Rites of Spring.” The entire series is of interest.

You can read my article on here: www.atlasobscura.com/articles/burning-snowman-boogg-sechselauten-switzerland-new-glarus

That’s me with fellow writers Ridire Quinn and Ellie Piper typing QWERTYFEST letters at The Bindery.

QWERTYFEST MKE! In my last TWW column, I mentioned QWERTYFEST MKE, a new festival that I’m co-organizing with Molly Snyder, with help from a bunch of local writers, artists, teachers. There’s a lot going on and it’s kinda hard to report on it from the eye of the storm, but there’s lots of great things happening with the event. We’re happy with the variety found in the event schedule and I’m really excited about our tie-in publication, QWERTY Quarterly, which will help promote the event but also features short articles, poetry, fiction, and art by local talent. I told Molly the vibe of the publication is a little bit “typewriter zine meets the New Yorker.

On Thursday, we had 18 various writers meet up at The Bindery (a great local creative print lab) for a promotional letter writing session. We typed out letters to local media, organizations, and individuals. It was a fun energy, a big thank you to everyone who helped out.

Right now, our biggest challenge is getting word out, and fundraising donations and ticket sales– we’re trying to make our expenses for this year as well as having some money in the bank to pay deposits for 2024. So if you’re reading this, please consider throwing in some money so we can make this event happen. We want to celebrate Milwaukee history as well as showcase the incredible contemporary talent this city has. We just need to raise some money to do it.
Tickets: milwaukeekrampusnacht.ticketbud.com/qwertyfest-mke
Fundraiser page: www.indiegogo.com/projects/qwertyfest-mke

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Thanks to those that attended my storytelling session at Lion’s Tooth. I audio recorded the event, which you can listen on Podbean//Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts

My eBook Chicago Mothman: A History and Cultural Study of a Monster Case is available on Kindle now: https://www.amazon.com/Chicago-Mothman-History-Cultural-Monster-ebook/dp/B0BZY598JX/ref=sr_1_3

Tea’s Weird Week: Please Help Us Fund QWERTYFEST MKE, a Celebration of Milwaukee History and the Arts

Friends, soliciting money is not something I’m great at. However, I am part of a talented local group that is putting together an event that I believe strongly should be funded. QWERTYFEST MKE is happening June 23-25 this year. It’s a celebration of the typewriter as well as local writers, artists, musicians, and businesses. It includes a party, tours, “Type Talks,” workshops, and a Typewriter Brunch Open Jam. We are also creating a publication called QWERTY Quarterly, a zine that will showcase work by people involved in the event.

The idea for QWERTYFEST came to me when I walked by a historical marker downtown that notes that nearby was the workshop of Christopher Latham Sholes, who invented the QWERTY keyboard. I had seen this historical marker before, and always thought it was great that Milwaukee has this connection to the typewriter. This time when I walked by I thought– this is something that should be celebrated. Fast forward a few months and it’s a thing. My co-organizer for this event is Molly Snyder, a senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Many other people are participating, and it’s a great thrill for me to have this opportunity to work with this assembled talent.

Here’s what’s going on at the first QWERTYFEST MKE.

Our logo, designed by Alicia Krupsky.

Friday, June 23: National Typewriter Day Party @ The Dandy. June 23 is the date that Sholes got his patent for the QWERTY keyboard, which he invented 150 years ago. It’s the perfect day to kick off the fest with a party that features a performance by Nineteen Thirteen. This cello-and-percussion duo’s music is the perfect fit for QWERTYFEST. Janet Schiff’s beautiful cello is not as old as the typewriter, but it is a 110-year-old, crafted in the year 1913. And Victor DeLorenzo’s innovative drumming is what helped give Violent Femmes their signature sound. Listen to them here: nineteenthirteen.bandcamp.com

The party also features the Clackathon, hosted by Anja Notanja Sieger. This is a unique event that is staged as a typing competition where local writers are challenged, game show style. It’s going to be a lot of fun! The evening will also feature a couple of vendors, QWERTYFEST merch, a crossword puzzle challenge, raffle for cool stuff (including a typewriter), and drinks at The Dandy’s bars. Tickets are $25 or part of the ALL CAPS Weekend Pass ($75).

Saturday, June 24: Various Locations

Workshops @ The Bindery (ticket info soon)

11am: “Typewriter 101” with teacher Lisa Floading
Noon: Writing Workshop with Kro, the Traveling Typist

2pm: Special tour @ Forest Home Cemetery (ticket info soon)

4pm: Type Talks @ Forest Home Cemetery’s chapel
“150 Years of the QWERTY Keyboard,” UWM Professor Jason Puskar
Presentation on women and typewriters by OnMilwaukee.com Senior Editor Molly Snyder
“Clack Bait: Drawing Stories and Exceptional Encounters,” 2022-23 Pfister Hotel Artist-in-Resident Christopher T. Woods

Admission for all three Type Talks is just $5, or by showing your ALL CAPS Pass.

After party TBA

Sunday, June 25: Typewriter Brunch Open Jam @ Company Brewing

This is open to anyone who wants to bring a typewriter, hang out and have brunch, and write! It’s free, but if you want to go, get one of our free tickets so we can get an idea of how many people to expect. Also, please do order Company Brewing’s great food and drink.

Wait, there’s more! We’re also starting a publication that ties into the event, titled QWERTY Quarterly. It’ll feature profiles on people involved with the event as well as articles on history, poetry, short fiction, a fun page, and more. It’ll be available in stores and at the fest, but you can get a free copy with the ALL CAPS Pass and/or it will be mailed to anyone who donates at levels of $75 or higher.

Pretty great stuff, right? We’re looking forward to celebrating with you and our hope is that the festival continues to grow and expand in the future.

Tickets: https://milwaukeekrampusnacht.ticketbud.com/qwertyfest-mke
Fundraiser: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/qwertyfest-mke/x/14628551

Thanks to those that attended my storytelling session at Lion’s Tooth. I audio recorded the event, which you can listen on Podbean//Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts

My eBook Chicago Mothman: A History and Cultural Study of a Monster Case is available on Kindle now: https://www.amazon.com/Chicago-Mothman-History-Cultural-Monster-ebook/dp/B0BZY598JX/ref=sr_1_3

Tea’s Weird Week: My Chicago Mothman eBook is Live!

Years in the making, I’m glad to say that an eBook project of mine is finally done and out. Chicago Mothman: A History and Cultural Study of a Monster Case contains three pieces. “Chicago Mothman: The Story of Red-eyed Creatures and Green-eyed Monsters” is a repackaging of my two-part article for Fortean Times magazine (a British publication). It ran in their February and March issues. “A Strange Door Opens” is an oral history style writing, in which the investigators in the Chicago Mothman case explain how they got interested in paranormal investigation to begin with. “Mothman: A Cultural Study” is an essay looking at all the ways Mothman has become a pop icon. Plus an Introduction to all this by Yours Truly.

The eBook is 86 pages and is $3.99 (or free on Kindle Unlimited). All monies raised go to the Krulos Lunch Fund so I can get something to eat. Just click here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BZY598JX/ref=sr_1_2

This wonderful cover art was illustrated by Stinky Goblin Emporium (who also designs the Milwaukee Krampusnacht art every year).

I’ll be talking about this project and other adventures from my writing career on Sunday, April 16, 4-6pm at Lion’s Tooth.

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram
My latest books are:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021, VA Press)
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Tea’s Weird Week: A Big Week for the TWW “Please Clap Dept.”

I don’t know why this moment cracked me up so much, but it sure did. While out campaigning for the presidential nomination in 2016, candidate Jeb Bush faced a less-than-enthusiastic room. After making a point to the sleepy audience, he looked at them and asked them to “please clap.” That was unofficially the end of his campaign and the Bush presidential dynasty.

It’s strange to admit, but in that moment…I kinda felt for him. Well, maybe not him, but the situation he was in. It sometimes feels rough, exhausting, futile, frustrating trying to get attention for things you do. It makes you feel invisible, underrated, like you’re begging the world to notice you. Please clap, dammitI put a lot of work into this.

At some point in the life of this column, I knew what I would call the little blurb I sometimes add to the end of Tea’s Weird Week to mention things I’ve worked on that are published, recognitions I receive, big media appearances, etc.– the Please Clap Dept. (the “Dept.” part is probably engrained in my brain from Mad Magazine, where they’d call different features “departments.” “Spy vs Spy,” for example was listed as being in their “Joke and Dagger Dept.”

This week, there was a lot of incoming good news for the Please Clap Dept. so I’m going to share these items.

I won two Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism Awards. These are my 2nd and 3rd MPC awards. It’s an honor– unlike a popularity “Best of” contest, this one is judged by peers at different press clubs around the country. MPC says 2022 was one of the most competitive in their award history– over 900 entries (across all categories). My article “The Last Frame” won in the Short Soft Feature Story category and “Wanna Buy a Famous Tugboat?” got in the Best Soft Feature Story (Online Exclusively). I will find out if these stories won gold, silver, or bronze at an award ceremony in May. But as I said on Facebook, a double bronze would not be seen as sad to me. I will be writing a column looking behind the scenes of these stories and thanking people who helped after the award ceremony. I’ll also be hosting a party at Falcon Bowl (subject of “The Last Frame.”)

The MPC Award I won for a 2020 article

I wrote an article for Atlas Obscura. Longtime fan, first time contributor. I wrote an article following local treasure hunters Tom and Molly as they search for a hidden treasure buried somewhere in Milwaukee in the 80s: “Hunting for ‘The Secret’ Treasure Buried in Milwaukee.” This was a great experience from me and I hope it leads to more freelancing with AO. I’ve already gotten a few emails from people on their theories of where the Milwaukee and other Secret treasures in other cities are. I’m telling everyone the same thing– put me on speed dial and if you dig one of those up, let me break the story!

Treasure hunters Tom Klein and Molly Westenberger shared this image with me, one of the clues they believe point to Red Arrow Park as the location of Byron Preiss’ hidden key.

Pull tabs! I also wrote a feature for Milwaukee Magazine on the Wisconsin pastime of playing pull tabs and the interesting story behind the legality of it. You can read the article here: How Are Pull-Tabs Legal in Wisconsin? | Milwaukee Magazine
I also got a chance to stop by the WUWM studios to discuss the article with Joy Powers on Lake Effect. You can hear that segment here: The history and legality behind Pull-Tabs in Wisconsin tavern culture | WUWM 89.7 FM – Milwaukee’s NPR

Pull tab machine– photo by Matt Haas for Milwaukee Magazine.

Please clap. Thank you.

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram
My latest books are:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021, VA Press)
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Tea’s Weird Week: I’m Going to Talk About my Adventures in Writing at Lion’s Tooth on April 16

My first book, Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Superhero Movement, was published ten years ago. Time flies! That book was followed by Monster Hunters (2015), Apocalypse Any Day Now (2019), American Madness (2020), Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020), and Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021). In April I’ll be publishing a short e-book, Chicago Mothman: A History and Cultural Study of a Monster Case under my own imprint, Tea Set Press.

I work sometimes filling in at the wonderful Lion’s Tooth bookstore and talked with Cris and Shelly, the owners, about setting up a date just to hang out and talk and have all of my books available. I decided it would be fun to talk about some adventures and key moments in my writing career both in authoring books and freelance magazine writing.

It’s going to be happening Sunday, April 16 at Lion’s Tooth, 4-6pm (5pm is when the storytelling starts). I’ll talk about the time I almost got expelled from high school for publishing my own satire newsletter, an assignment to make the White Pages interesting, both times I got pepper sprayed in Seattle, why the British tabloids were calling me early in the morning for awhile, my story that won a Milwaukee Press Club award, and what I’m currently working on.

I’m really looking forward to grabbing a drink from the Lion’s Tooth cafe and telling these stories to you. Some of these are tales I’ve never told publicly. Check out the list of what I’ll be talking about below!

TEA KRULOS: LIVE AT LION’S TOOTH set list

  1. I Was A Teenage Underground Newsletter Publisher
  2. Famous Names
  3. People Fighting and Superheroes and Pepper Spray and…I Don’t Know
  4. Pepper Sprayed in Seattle Again
  5. London Calling
  6. That Time I Went on a Bigfoot Expedition But Saw a UFO Instead
  7. Doomsday Bunkers of the Rich and Famous Revisited
  8. An Award-Winning Idea
  9. The Phantom Patriot Lives
  10. How One Mothman Led to Another
  11. Where is My Mind? 2023 Edition
  12. Loose Bruce Destroyed My First Typewriter

I’m going to try to get to all of those and I’ll answer questions and of course will be glad to sign books. I hope to see you there!
Facebook event page: facebook.com/events/621847019771594

Please Clap Dept.: The documentary I’m a producer on about Kenosha-area horror hosts, I’m Your Host (which won a Milwaukee Film Brico Forward Fund grant) will premiere at the Twisted Dreams Film Festival, Oct. 20-22, 2023.

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram
My latest books are:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021, VA Press)
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Tea’s Weird Week: I’m Not Saying it was Aliens, but…

The 2020s have just been the wildest. A pandemic, riots, an attempted Q d’état insurrection, mystery monoliths, and now a UFO invasion.

UFOs have been a topic of interest of mine since I was a teen. X-Files was big at the time, and that inspired me to read whatever I could find on real UFO cases, though I don’t consider myself an expert on the field. I did see a UFO while I was out on a Bigfoot expedition (you can read about that experience in my book Monster Hunters).

Here’s what happened over the last couple weeks.

February 4: After bobbing along across the country, a Chinese spy balloon is shot down off the coast of South Carolina (another was spotted over Colombia and Costa Rica).

February 10: A UFO is shot down off the coast of Alaska. The fighter pilots who shot it down say the object “interfered with their sensors,” and that it had “no identifiable propulsion system.” Also interesting– the pilots who encountered it “reported back very conflicting accounts.” This is all being reported by multiple mainstream news outlets, by the way, not InfoWars or Joe Schmoe’s UFO Podcast. They describe the UFO as being the size of “a car.”

The Pentagon noted that the UFO “does not resemble in any way the Chinese surveillance balloon shot down off the coast of South Carolina earlier this week.” [Politico]

February 11: US and Canadian jets shoot down a UFO over the Yukon. This one is described as a “cylindrical object.”

February 12: A third UFO is shot down over Lake Huron, after flying over Montana, Wisconsin, and Michigan. It was reported to be “an octagonal structure with strings hanging off but no discernable payload.” [ABC] All three UFOs are described as being “unmanned.”

What the hell is going on here? So far, officials haven’t given additional information as they are still collecting and examining the wreckage. Really, I think there’s just a couple possibilities:

1. )

2.) UFOs are, as my friend Mark Gubin posits, time traveling tourists from the future, here to observe one of the most terrible and dumb chapters of history.

3.) They are spy surveillance drones from China, North Korea, or Russia. That’s the most realistic theory, though I don’t put a lot of stock into the word “realistic” anymore.

I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords. I’m eager to see developments on this story. Will there be more? Will we get answers? Tune in and keep your eyes to the sky!

UPDATE: From today’s (Feb. 13) White House press conference:
“I just want to make sure we address this from the White House. I know there have been questions and concerns about this, but there is no, again, no indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity with these recent takedowns,” Jean-Pierre told reporters as she opened the White House press briefing. “Wanted to make sure that the American people knew that, all of you knew that, and it is important for us to say that from here.” [CBS]

Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? 😉

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram
My latest books are:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021, VA Press)
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Tea’s Weird Week: Eternal Slap Bass of the AI Seinfeld Mind [Updated: Damn it, Larry!]

“Wow, can you believe how much time has gone by?” A blocky, pixelated character named “Yvonne” says, followed by a staccato burst of canned laughter on February 3, 2023 at 11:22am CST. But in Yvonne’s world, time does not have meaning.

Imagine being able to watch your favorite program anytime you wanted, 24/7– always on and always new content. That’s what happened, in a way, when a Seinfeld inspired show called Nothing, Forever launched on Twitch on December 14, 2022. Since then, Nothing, Forever has run non-stop and will continue on…well, theoretically, until the world ends.

The show features Jerry …oops, sorry, Larry Feinberg who shares scenes with his friends Fred Kastopolous and Yvonne Torres, and his eccentric neighbor Zoltan Kakler. The infinite sitcom scrolls through Larry’s apartment, where the characters exchange banter and jokes, Larry onstage at the mic in a comedy club, and an exterior shot of Larry’s apartment and an AI generator TV guide screen that breaks the scenes up. AI determines how long a scene is and which characters are in it. A laugh track randomly cuts in, adding to the confusion. The chat room scrolling down the side seems to be mostly AI generated as well.  

A lot of the scenes focus on Larry and friends talking about Larry’s comedy career, new pets, and new restaurants. In one scene, Larry and Fred discuss the mayor’s plan to rename New York “Schnitzelville” because of a new restaurant that opened down the street (as seen Feb. 3, 2023, 11:20am CST). It was kind of funny in a slightly off sort of way.

I don’t know why, but there is something unsettling about this. Just the thought of an eternal Seinfeld world, never sleeping, never blinking, just constantly rolling on with non-sequitor jokes and digital canned laughter. Ah well, let me leave you with a joke from the great AI comedian, Larry Feinberg, February 3, 2023, 8:22PM CST:

“Why do elephants paint their toenails different colors? So they can hide in a package of Skittles.” (Laughter)

You can watch for a minute, an hour, or maybe the rest of your life here: twitch.tv/watchmeforever

UPDATE: Damn it, Larry! As reported by the AV Club on Feb. 6, Twitch suspended Nothing, Forever for two weeks after our AI comedian Larry talked about trying out some transphobic, homophobic material. I mean I’d expect that from his co-star, Zoltan Kakler, but et tu, Larry? Well, I suppose AI is a reflection of our own intelligence, which is not something to bank on. You can read the AV article here: www.avclub.com/nothing-forever-jerry-seinfeld-ai-openai-gpt3-1850077760

2023 Read List

I’m keeping track of all the books I’m reading this year as a footnote to this column. I’m actually a pretty slow reader, but after a crazy busy fall and year end, I realized how important it is to set aside reading time every day. Here’s what I started with this year.

1.) Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. I’ve wanted to read this for years and finally got around to it. A devastating, important book. It fully deserves the many awards and honors it won. Read it. I got my copy from Lion’s Tooth.

2.) Ghost Story by Peter Straub. In October, my colleague Carmella D’ Acquisto wrote a piece for Milwaukee Magazine’s website, asking local authors and booksellers for “Halloween reads.” I told Carmella, in part:

I’ve really wanted to read more work by Robert Bloch (who wrote Psycho) and Peter Straub (who co-wrote The Talisman with Stephen King, among many other works). Both of those horror authors spent a formative part of their life in Milwaukee, and I think we should celebrate more works by Milwaukee authors. 

I don’t like to talk outta both sides of my face, so I am making an effort to read more works by Wisconsin authors, historical and contemporary. I enjoyed this one and will pick up another Straub book in the future. I got this one from the library.

Upcoming appearance: I’ll be tabling at the Punk Rock Rummage Sale on Saturday, February 11, 11am-4pm at Promises (538 W. National Ave.) with my books and strange swag. Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1388237528250313

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram
My latest books are:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021, Vegetarian Alcoholic Press)
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Tea’s Weird Week: Let’s Talk About the Dang Old Chicago Mothman

Hey, it’s the first Tea’s Weird Week column of 2023! I started this column in 2019 and kept up with it weekly for years, but this year I have many projects to work on, so this column will be sporadic and when I have time for it, but I’ll have a column atleast a couple times a month. Hopefully the TWW podcast will return soon, too.

I’ve not had any writing published this month, but I’ve got some articles lined up for the next few months for a variety of publications that I’m excited about. One is a project I’ve been working on over the last three years that is finally seeing the light of day, an article titled “The Chicago Mothman: Red-eyed Creatures and Green-eyed Monsters,” a two-part article that is the cover story for the February issue of Fortean Times, with the second part appearing in the March issue. In April, I will be packaging the article, as well as some “bonus material,” as an e-book.

When reports of a “Mothman” (also called the “Lake Michigan Mothman,” “Chicago Bat,” and “Chicago Phantom”) creature haunting the Chicago area began to circulate in 2016, I, of course, had a strong interest as my homebase of Milwaukee is just north of Chicagoland. As the story unfolded, I became more interested in what was going on behind the reports rather than the reports themselves. In 2020 I visualized writing a longform piece on the entire case and began interviewing people associated with the investigation. I ended up interviewing 12 people between January and May 2020. As you can see, the project soon had extra time for interviewing and the massive undertaking of transcribing the interviews (my least favorite and most time consuming aspect of writing) during pandemic quarantine. I’d work on transcribing for an hour, then doomscroll the news for a bit.

I thought I would be a good person to write this because even though I obviously have a strong interest in the paranormal, I think I’m good at viewing the field and the people involved in it objectively because I’m not deeply immersed in it. It is one of my interests, but one of many. I don’t belong to any paranormal teams or groups. I get invited to paranormal events and conferences once in awhile, but not often cause I got no “star power.” I don’t have a reality show where a nightvision camera follows me as I roll around on the ground screaming about ghosts and that’s what you need to succeed in that field.

Of the 12 people I interviewed about the Chicago Mothman case, I know some of them and some I don’t, but I didn’t have an agenda against anyone. I just wanted to report the story.

I worked on it and re-worked it. I struggled on how to present the story. At one time, I was inspired by the great Chicago oral historian and author Studs Terkel (1912-2008) to present the case as an oral history. Studs was best known for this style, where he would record stories from a wide array of people and compile them to tell a story of American life. He won the Pulitzer for The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two and his book Division Street is a classic oral history and examination of race, class, and everyday life in Chicago. In these volumes, Studs let the people do the talking while he used his skills quietly as an editor. Studs was one of Chicago’s most famous voices. I don’t know that Studs had any interest in the paranormal — but I think he would have at least humored this strange story as it spread across his beloved Chicagoland, from Oz Park to the lakeshore to O’Hare to the neighborhood of Little Village.

I decided to ditch the oral history format (though you’ll see an element of that in the e-book) because it’s a lot harder than it looks. I opted for a more traditional article presentation and sent it across the pond as a submission to Fortean Times, the great British magazine dedicated to all things weird.

Publishing is a funny business. Sometimes it moves really fast, other times it just goes on forever and a day. And so now, about 3-years after I began the project, I’m glad to say it’s done and in print. At least that’s what I hear, I haven’t received my copy as it takes time to ship from Jolly Old England, and I’m told extra time as a postal strike is going on over there.

Anyway, it’s done! I did it! But what exactly the hell is the Chicago Mothman? Unidentified creature? Aliens? Owl? Interdimensional beings? Demons? Internet hoax? I’ll let the investigators speak for themselves and let you puzzle on the mystery, as I have.

Please Clap Dept.:

Chicago Mothman: A History and Cultural Study of a Monster Case will be released as an e-book in April 2023, Tea Set Press. Cover art by Stinky Goblin Emporium.

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram
My latest books are:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021, Vegetarian Alcoholic Press)
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Everything I Wrote in 2022

Here’s a list of articles and TWW columns I wrote in 2022. I’ll be tracking what I wrote and all the books I’ve read in 2023.

JANUARY

  1. The Healing Power of Hula,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  2. The Secret: Milwaukee Has a Hidden Treasure,” American Ghost Walks newsletter
  3. Anime Milwaukee Returns, Feb. 11-13 at the Wisconsin Center,” Shepherd Express
  4. TWW: “Chosen One” to Cops: Take Me to Your Leader
  5. Arsonist Destroys Buses for Homeless Outreach, but the Community Steps in to Help,” Milwaukee Magazine (web)
  6. Hear Nineteen Thirteen’s New Single, ‘Cello and Drums Forever,'” Shepherd Express

    FEBRUARY
  7. Fishy Business,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  8. TWW: High on the Herzog
  9. This Living Statue Stepped in for the Bronze Fonz,” Milwaukee Magazine (web)
  10. Milwaukee Poet Kavon Cortez-Jones Returns to ‘Club Noir,'” Milwaukee Magazine (web)
  11. TWW: Paranormal Real Estate Mogul
  12. Haunted Milwaukee- Tied House is Home to ‘The Lady of the Pub,'” American Ghost Walks newsletter
  13. TWW: Illuminati Super Bowl Party
  14. TWW: Famous Ghosts of Chicago

    MARCH
  15. Visibly Indigenous,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  16. Undercover Publication: Quirky 1981 Milwaukee history book is a rare gem,” Milwaukee Record
  17. How Lakefront Brewery’s Showing Support to Ukraine After Years of Selling Beer There,” Milwaukee Magazine (web)
  18. TWW: Hey, I Invented a Batman Villain Based on an Obscure Myth About Bingo
  19. TWW: Rollin’ with Baba Yaga
  20. TWW: Quest for the Weirdest Movies
  21. Inkgeeks Platform Connects Local Tattoo Community,” Shepherd Express

    APRIL
  22. Stopping the Slide,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  23. TWW: The World According to Gorb
  24. Zorro is Dead (Brady St. Pharmacy excerpt),” Nimbus Magazine
  25. TWW: Phantom Patriot Featured in New Primus “Conspiranoia” Video
  26. Rhinelander’s Hodag Store Robbed by…Carmen Sandiego?” American Ghost Walks newsletter
  27. TWW: There Are About 60 QAnon Candidates Running for Congress This Year
  28. TWW: Friday Happy Hour w/ Tea @ Lion’s Tooth
  29. TWW: Hello, I Must Be Going
  30. The Ghost of Al Capone,” American Ghost Walks Newsletter
  31. Ancient Aliens Lands at Pabst May 22,” Shepherd Express

    MAY
  32. TWW: New Podcast “The Superhero Complex” Examines the Phoenix Jones Story
  33. TWW: A Tale of Two Chupacabras
  34. Oddities & Curiosities Expo Celebrates the Strange and Macabre May 28 at the Wisconsin Center,” Shepherd Express
  35. TWW: You are Geraldo Rivera, high on ecstasy, looking at a UFO in the Bahamas
  36. TWW: Jurassic Lark? Are Dinosaur Deniers for Real?

    JUNE
  37. The Last Fisherman of Washington Island,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  38. TWW: Who Said It– Phantom Patriot or Marjorie Taylor Greene?
  39. Top 5 Milwaukee Haunted Brunch Spots,” American Ghost Walks newsletter
  40. TWW: The TWW podcast is back on for Season 5!
  41. Sinisterhood Podcast Stops in Milwaukee to Talk about Pfister Ghosts,” Shepherd Express

    JULY
  42. The Last Frame,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  43. TWW: Talking with Sinisterhood
  44. TWW: My Favorite Jann Goldberg Quotes
  45. 5 Takeaways From Our DNR Records Request on the Sturgeon Caviar Affair,” Milwaukee Magazine (web)
  46. TWW: Introducing Paranormal Road Trip
  47. TWW: Amberrose Hammond’s New Book Explores Mysterious Michigan

    AUGUST
  48. From Middle Earth to Marquette,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  49. The Other Vet Mental Health Crisis,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  50. Attention Spies: Beware of SafeHouse Spooks,” American Ghost Walks newsletter
  51. TWW: Alex Jones in His Own Hell
  52. TWW: The Chessboxer, Part 1
  53. TWW: The Chessboxer, Part 2

    SEPTEMBER
  54. Tea’s Weird Hiatus
  55. Awkward Nerd Book Fair Taps Into Nostalgia for Inaugural Event,” Shepherd Express
  56. Wanna Buy a Famous Tugboat?” Milwaukee Magazine (web)
  57. Local and International Artists will be Inking at Milwaukee Tattoo Arts Festival,” Shepherd Express
  58. Sarah Kohlbeck Talks About ‘The S-Word,’ a Suicide Prevention Podcast,” Shepherd Express
  59. Horror Movie Recommendations from Ghost Hunters!” (contributor) American Ghost Walks Newsletter

    OCTOBER
  60. Fighting Fits,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  61. This Bay View Halloween House Has a ‘Beetlejuice’ Theme,” Milwaukee Magazine (web)
  62. TWW: The Story of Father Pellegrino Ernetti and his Time Travel Viewing “Chronovisor”
  63. Milwaukee Home Movie Day Archives and Celebrates Family History,” Shepherd Express
  64. TWW: Our Horror Host Doc, “I’m Your Host,” Won a Brico Forward Fund Award!

    NOVEMBER
  65. Scoot Your Way to Election Day with ‘Lime to the Polls,” Shepherd Express
  66. Erna Meets Krampus…Again!” American Ghost Walks Newsletter

    DECEMBER
  67. Tea’s Weird Year: Here’s What I Did in 2022 (and 12 Things I Want Myself to Remember) (also reprinted in “Lucky New Year 2023” zine)