Author Archives: teakrulos

Tea’s Weird Week: Monolith

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I started a Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group and let me tell you it’s everything I hoped for and more. New members, both friends and strangers, are joining every day and sharing just straight up weird stuff they’ve found on the Internet. I love it! In just the last couple days people have posted articles about cat milk being turned to cheese, warnings about moose licking cars, strange banana art, D.B. Cooper, and much more. Join us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/359809171918389

But the story of the week everyone is talking about is the mysterious monolith that was discovered out in the Utah desert. Workers from the Utah Department of Public Safety and Division of Wildlife Resources were doing a headcount of bighorn sheep when they saw something glimmering in the desert sun. After landing, they discovered a 12-foot tall smooth, shining monolith securely placed in a carefully cut base in the isolated red-rock canyon.

The Utah Monolith discovered last week.

The Utah Monolith is reminiscent of the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey and there’s been speculation as to whether this is some kind of device from beyond this world? Is it a sign of everything we’ve been suspecting about 2020– that the world is doomed and extraterrestrials will finally reveal that they walk among us? Well, one thing Internet detectives (who scrutinized Google Earth) quickly determined is that this object has been sitting in the desert for at least five or more years, so it hasn’t landed here specifically for the craziness of 2020…though this was the year it was discovered.

Extraterrestrial road marker is one explanation, but I’d put forward some other theories– perhaps some Kubrik-wannabe indie filmmakers, or someone leaving it as a prank (kind of like the people who tied red balloons to sewer grates after It was released) or someone who just knew the thrill of creating a mystery monument. A couple other examples spring to mind:

The Georgia Guidestones, located in rural Georgia, are 19-foot tall tablets commissioned by an anonymous person or persons and lists ten guidelines for humanity in several languages. The farmland they sit on was also bought up anonymously. It’s been part of conspiracy lore ever since, especially due to the points on the stones that seem to talk about population control or eugenics. They were vandalized in 2008 with graffiti that read DEATH TO THE NEW WORLD ORDER.

The Georgia Guidestones

In Namibia an artist named Max Siedentopf has installed a sculpture at an undisclosed location in the Namib Desert. The piece, titled Toto Forever, features 6 outward facing speakers hooked up to an MP3 playing that is playing Toto’s 1982 earworm hit “Africa” on repeat, at least until the Namib Desert’s harsh conditions destroy it.

Toto Forever: “It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you/
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do”

There’s already threats to remove the Utah Monolith– it’s in a remote location and the State of Utah isn’t especially keen on having to engage in rescue operations to save curious monolith-seekers. Whether this is the work of aliens or eccentric artists, a round of applause to whoever put another strange landmark on the map.

UPDATE, 12:26pm CST: Was the Utah Monolith a creation by minimalist sculptor John McCracken (who died in 2011)? His gallery seems to think…definitely, maybe: https://www.9news.com.au/world/utah-monolith-desert-mystery-solved-john-mccracken-sculptor-artist-2001-a-space-odyssey/0bae1a27-5bd2-451e-90a6-393928d9ed02

UPDATE, 11/29: After several people journeyed to visit the site, Utah Bureau of Land Management says the monolith has now vanished, but they are not the ones who took it. Did someone steal the ultimate 2020 souvenir or did it disappear into another dimension?
https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/28/us/utah-monolith-disappears-trnd/index.html

Zorth Watch: Two weeks ago, I wrote a column about how one Dr. Matthew A. Johnson had managed to combine a little from column A (a telepathic Bigfoot council) with column B (QAnon) to share a message from Zorth (a QAnon telepathic Bigfoot) that Trump would still be declared winner. Many people, including Trump himself, are still in denial about the election. I ended up channeling my own Bigfoot, Zaarg (it’s a long story, read my column here: “Zorth, I Will Kick Your Hairy Ass.”)

Well, I decided to take a look at Johnson’s Team Squatchin USA group, and yep, they are still at it. Here’s a post from Johnson to the group on Nov. 24:
“In the end, Trump wins. (Zorth, November 3, 2020)”

And here’s some actual responses in the comments:
“Trust God, Trust Zorth, Trust the Plan. WWG1WGA.” (“Trust the plan” is QAnon language, pure cognitive dissonance meaning you should believe in Q even if things aren’t going as predicted; “where we go one, we go all” or “WWG1WGA” is the oldest QAnon motto.)

“I trust in Zorth (thumbs up, praying hands, American flag emojis).”

All this is ridiculous, of course, so I was glad to see the entire group hadn’t gotten into the Q Kool-Aid. QAnon has proven to be a dangerous cult mentality, so I was glad to see some dissenting opinions in the comments, too:
“Zorth is a liar.”

“I had no idea there were so many nutbags on here. You idiots will believe absolutely anything. You’re giving us serious Sasquatch researchers a bad name.”

Ouch. Ouch, Zorth, ouch.

Please Clap Dept.: Check out this wonderful review of my book American Madness on the Book Self Blog HERE.

Please vote for me in the Shepherd Express “Best of” contest in the Milwaukee Author category: shepherdexpress.com/best-of-milwaukee/2020

You can buy American Madness on Bookshop.org or wherever books are sold: https://bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963

If you’re looking for some fun podcast listening on your holiday, I recently made appearances on the Eye 94, CripesCast, and Strange Uncles podcasts (click titles for link).

Tea’s Weird Week: Firehose of Falsehood: An Autopsy of Trump’s Conspiracy Theory Presidency (and Why it Will Haunt Us Moving Forward)

NEW: Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group, a place to share weird stuff: CLICK HERE


It’s fitting that Trump’s presidency is ending on election fraud conspiracies as his 2016 ambitions and every step of his presidency has been one big conspiracy conglomerate, a massive machine of misinformation, salacious rumors, and heavily biased, actual fake news sources. Here’s a tour of some of Trump’s greatest conspiracy hits, why conspiracy has been so beneficial to him, and how the orange stain will linger on long after he’s gone.

Birtherism: In my book American Madness, I wrote a chapter about Trump called “The InfoWars President,” which starts with Trump at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, where he’s being mocked by Obama for his promotion of “Birtherism.” That conspiracy suggests Obama’s birth certificate is fake and that he was actually born in Kenya, thus making him ineligible to be U.S. president. Trump promoted the conspiracy relentlessly, but at the Correspondents Dinner everyone in the room was laughing at him. Trump’s former advisor, conspiracy guru Roger Stone, thinks that night is important in Trump’s plan to run for president.

InfoWars appearance: After launching his presidential campaign in 2015, Trump appears on the most notorious conspiracy-mongering show of all– The Alex Jones Show on InfoWars, at the suggestion of Roger Stone. Trump knew he could build a fringe alliance that would help bolster his base.

Tilting at Windmills: I think Trump probably believes some of the conspiracies he shares are true at gut level, but others he realizes are just a good form of attack. A great example of this is Trump’s seemingly bizarre campaign against wind turbines, or “windmills” as he calls them. The reality behind this is that Scotland built a windfarm near one of Trump’s golf courses, which he will forever be pissed off about because it “ruined the view.” So now he yammers on about wind turbines killing birds and causing cancer because he hates them for ruining his golf course.

Conspiracy Language: Trump quickly began to normalize language like “fake news” (any media that doesn’t shine him) and “witch hunt” (any allegation he’s committed a crime) as a way to deflect. He sometimes also uses language direct from conspiracy theorists, for example, the evil but hard to define “Deep State” that secretly rules the world.

Joe Scarborough Murder Theory: A specific example of Trump using conspiracies to attack his enemies (which is anyone who disagrees with him) is his madness in dealing with Joe Scarborough, former Florida House Rep and host of Morning Joe on MSNBC. Trump responded to criticisms from Scarborough by digging up an old conspiracy that suggests he killed an intern. You can read more in my column here: “Trump’s Joe Scarborough Conspiracy Obsession.”

Social Media Summit: Trump’s “Social Media Summit” in July 2019 was who’s who of Internet trolls, conspiracy peddlers, and the far-right blogosphere. Throughout his presidency he’s platformed these people by re-Tweeting sources like Breitbart News, TheBlaze, and other far right sites to his tens of millions of followers.

QAnon: One of the most alarming stories of 2020 is the rise of QAnon, a conspiracy cult movement that believes that Trump is a Messiah figure who will vanquish an evil cabal of satanic pedophile Democrats that get high on adrenochrome harvested from people. Is this crazy? Yes. Do we have one QAnon believer now elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (and one who seems at least to be open to QAnon beliefs)? Also yes. (See also: “The Election Day Hangover That Won’t Quit“). Trump’s ego, of course, would never shut the idea of a cult dedicated to him down, so he’s tried to waffle on QAnon, saying he “didn’t know who they were” but also heard “they fight pedophilia very hard.”

There are several cases where QAnon believers have turned to violence. Two armed QAnon believers were arrested when they were discovered trying to deliver a Hummer full of fake ballots to a ballot-counting site in Philadelphia. QAnon will cheat and get arrested for Trump and maybe even die for him.

Obamagate: In January, I attended a Trump rally here in Milwaukee. I guess I wanted a look at the belly of the beast. One thing that puzzled me for a moment was Trump talking about Hillary Clinton and basking in the crowd chanting “Lock her up! Lock her up!” Had I time-traveled back to 2016? But then I realized that this was the major policy of the Trump Show– “Crooked Hillary” and the conspiracy that Obama had wiretapped and spied on the Trump campaign. Without his Bond villains, Trump has nothing to fall back on.

Demon Sperm Lady: ‘Nuff said on this one, but you can read more here: “Demon Sperm, Reptilians, and Alien DNA…Meet Trump’s Latest COVID Expert.”

Antifa: As civil unrest and rioting flooded the streets after the murder of George Floyd, Trump found a boogieman he could conjure up when he wanted to attack Democrat led cities and states and scare his constiuency– Antifa. Radical left Antifa warriors, dressed like ninjas, were everywhere– driving caravans of buses into small town America, filling up domestic flights dressed in black bloc gear, recruiting senior citizens to jam police scanners, and burning and looting across the country.

Election Fraud: And of course, what will be the last major Trump conspiracy– mass voter fraud. This is how he goes out– tweeting and babbling (along with his team) a firehose of falsehood, trying to override the truth. Christopher Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) put out a statement that read, in part, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

Which means, of course, Trump fired him.

Beyond January 20: More American Madness

Over 73 million people voted for Trump. A growing population out there believe that Democrats and other “radical left” figures are satanic pedophiles who get high off adrenochrome that they harvest from living people. And now these same people believe the election was “rigged” and stolen from their beloved leader.

These people are being riled up by bad actors like Alex Jones, who has led rallies in Phoenix, Austin, DC (at the “Million MAGA March”), and most recently, Atlanta, where he cruises around in his InfoWars armored vehicle, screaming through a bullhorn about how there will be a revolution like 1776.

Stewart Rhodes, leader of the militia Oath Keepers told media at the Million MAGA March that his group won’t “recognize Biden as legitimate” and “anything he signs into law we won’t recognize as legitimate. We’ll be very much like the founding fathers. We’ll end up nullifying and resisting.”

Trump’s people now believe they at war, and these people are angry, delusional, and heavily armed. Remember that just recently we learned about a plot by a militia/ domestic terrorism group (the Wolverine Watchmen) that was working on potential plots to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and possibly Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

Trump’s Street War will continue on after he’s dragged out of the White House yelling “Rigged!”on January 20.

Please Clap (or vote as the case may be) Dept.: I’m nominated for the Shepherd Express 2020 “best of” contest in the “Milwaukee Author” category. The category was introduced in 2011 and since then historian John Gurda (The Making of Milwaukee) has won it 8 out of 9 years. Can Gurda be overthrown? I’ll get out there with a bullhorn like Alex Jones if I have to. Vote here: shepherdexpress.com/best-of-milwaukee/2020#/

You can buy my new book American Madness here: https://bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Or wherever books are sold!

And you can find my book Wisconsin Legends & Lore here: https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467143448

Tea’s Weird Week: Zorth, I Will Kick Your Hairy Ass (a Story of Bigfoot and QAnon)

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Back in April 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.” It’s a theory I still stand by.

While doing the media and virtual appearance rounds for my book American Madness this fall, people asked what the wildest or craziest conspiracy I encountered was. That was a moving goal post, I’d reply, every time I thought I’d found the most outlandish theory I’d discover that nope, the rabbit hole keeps going. Reptilians, Flat Earth theory, and Pizzagate were all thought to be the peak while working on the book, but the ruthless onslaught of 2020 conspiracies loomed ahead.

Before I continue on, let me preference the rest of this column by saying I’ve met many Bigfooters (people who research and investigate Bigfoot sightings) over the years. While working on my book Monster Hunters, I had a fun and wild adventure exploring the woods of Michigan with Bigfooter Jim Sherman of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO). I’ve met several since. Bigfooters range in personality from very cool, very interesting people (which thankfully describes all the ones I’ve met) to total assholes to somewhere between. But now I’m sad to report that the joy of Bigfooting, or at least a small corner of it, has been struck by the foul cancer of QAnon.

So, it’s late at night, I should be asleep, but I’m doomscrolling Facebook when I stumble across a video titled “Zorth Says That President Trump Wins in the End” in a group I’m apparently a member of called Team Squatchin USA. This group has over 14,000 members.

There are two Kruloses in my head. One says do not watch this damn video, go to bed and the other says do it. watch this damn video. Do it.

I watched it.

Here’s what I learned:

– A man named Dr. Matthew A. Johnson (aka “Dr. J”) says that he is “the 13,” an ambassador to humanity for a council of 12 Xanue (aka Bigfoot Forest People, Sasquatch, etc.) and communicates mostly with the head of council, Zorth, through telepathy.

-Zorth has been telling Dr. J repeatedly that “in the end, Trump wins” and that Zorth has “adamantly insisted” that Dr. J share this message with the world (via YouTube). Here’s a message from Dr. J to the Team Squatchin USA group:

ZORTH is adamant about me passing on the following message that he shared with me a week ago: The Xanue are able to see into the future via a limited manner via multiple possible time lines. ZORTH wants everyone to know that in the majority of the possible time lines, President Trump wins his reelection bid. I DID NOT want to post this but ZORTH strongly insisted that I post it now.

Heavy is the head that wears Zorth’s will.

-Like Trump, Dr. J apparently has no concept of how the vote count happened and the split between in-person (which leaned Trump and were counted first) and mail-in/early voting (which leaned Biden and were counted later). “All of a sudden they miraculously find all these votes overnight.” Incorrect.

-In one of several Xanue/ Trump endorsement videos Dr. J shows footage of a popular QAnon propaganda “documentary” titled Q- The Plan to Save the World. Many of Dr. J’s posts parrot election fraud conspiracy language. QAnon is going to be facing an identity crisis and they, much like Trump himself, are currently in the “denial” phase.


– Is this guy for real? Yes, I’m afraid so. And judging by the many pro-Trump, pro-Zorth comments on Johnson’s videos on Facebook and YouTube, so are his followers. Why on earth would they believe such a shaggy Sasquatch story? Because Dr. J has “done his own research” and written two self-published books and created a whole bunch of YouTube videos. What more evidence do you need?

Look, researching and investigating Bigfoot is one thing. Saying that a wizened council of Bigfoots endorsing an awful person who lost the election and is in a delusional downward spiral about it is another. We need to fight back against conspiracies about the pandemic, civil unrest, and election fraud.

The author’s depiction of Zorth.

Biden won the election and Trump is attempting a coup like a fascist banana republic wannabe dictator. There is no credible evidence of election fraud. Trump’s hollow lawsuits are all being shut down due to lack of evidence. The only reason Trump won’t concede is ego alone.

Here’s something I haven’t revealed until this column– yes, it’s true, I also have the ability to communicate telepathically with the Sasquatch– prove that I can’t. I happen to be in contact with a rival council of 12 known as the Xerox and their spokesquatch, Zaarg.

And…oh my, here it is. Zaarg says they have an urgent message I must relay. An important message. Zaarg says:

Zorth, I will kick ya hairy arse, ya traitor. Y’ll look like a mangy bearskin roog when I’m done with ya, boy-o, mark me foocking words. [Zaarg is also an Irish bare-knuckle boxer] I will take on all 12 of ya Xanue foocks with one hand tied behind me back, ya foocking liars. Ya deserve to have yer arses shaved and painted orange like the Trump baboons ya are, make no mistake!

Hey, don’t shoot the messenger!


I’m a candidate for Milwaukee author in the Shepherd Express annual best of. You can read the rules and vote here: shepherdexpress.com/best-of-milwaukee/2020

My book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness is out now. It explores a wide range of conspiracies, (but doesn’t explore the Bigfoot-Q connection.)
You can find it on Bookshop.org here: https://bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963

Tea’s Weird Week: The Election Day Hangover That Won’t Quit

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Hello from Battleground Wisconsin. What a fucking week! As I mentioned on Facebook, I ran myself pretty hard all of October– promoting my book American Madness, a Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, socially distanced ghost tours, freelance writing, plotting, planning. I was busy and it was great, but by Election Day I was ready to wrap up in blankets, drink a lot of whiskey, and see where this batshit crazy year would take us next. And what a day to drink copious amounts of whiskey it was! As of this writing, nothing is official yet and in 2020 anything can happen, but here’s my early takeaways from the election.

The Good: It looks like Trump will be voted out of office–unless he pulls off some crazy dirty trick (and we know if nothing else, he’s masterful at dirty tricks). And of course angels might intervene. That’s the case Trump’s spiritual adviser Paula White makes here:

Trump out of office is good news, a start, but there’s is a lot of damage to repair. We’ll talk about that in a moment. First, more good news– progressive candidates representing marginalized people won campaigns across the country. These include Cori Bush, the first black woman to represent Missouri in the House, and the reelection of all 4 members of “The Squad.” Several LGBT candidates made historic victories, including Sarah McBride of Delaware, the first transgender state senator, and Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones, the first gay latinx/black congressmen.

The Bad: 68,943,879 (and counting) million people voted for Trump. Here in my home, Wisconsin Biden won 1,632,542 to Trump’s 1,610,007 (as of this writing), less than 20,000 votes. I just can’t wrap my head around this. Anything less than Trump losing in a major landslide is a failure of our society, in my opinion.

The aftereffect of Trump will be long-lasting– you’ll see some immediate examples when we get to “The Ugly” section of this post. The Trump presidency will be studied for generations. Most puzzling will be how such a large population stuck to this terrible person so loyally and so willingly voted against their own interests. Why did 69 million Americans vote for a racist, sexist, conspiracy theorist conman reality star goof? After everything that happened over the last four years, how can they still see him in a positive light? I will never understand.

Here’s what I mean, visualized. This is Trump supporter Jon McNaughton’s latest masterpiece, “2020 Ride.” I wrote about McNaughton’s art in a column from February titled “Laughing My Ass Off at These Bonkers Trump Paintings.” Here McNaughton says he is showing Trump as a cowboy hero, successfully taming all of the issues of 2020.

I don’t see that in this painting, though. I see a sad, hateful man dressed like a clown, riding a beast that he himself created in the sunset of his presidency. But I guess art is subjective.

“2020 Ride,” by Jon McNaughton. If this was a real scene, every bone in Trump’s body would be broken.

The cognitive dissonance in Trump supporters is just staggering. As just one example, compare Pro-Trumpers at a polling station in Detroit chanting “stop the vote!” while Pro-Trumpers in Phoenix are chanting “count the vote!”

Well, which is it? It depends, of course, on what favors Trump, democracy be damned. Conspiracy theories about election fraud, stoked by Trump himself, are in full swing. No, there isn’t hundreds of thousands of dead people voting. That’s easily fact checked: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/11/04/fact-check-no-fraud-wisconsin-overnight-vote-spike/6167188002/

Trumpers storm an election center in Detroit. AP Photo: Carlos Osorio

The Ugly: Along with new progressive candidates, we also elected the fringest of the fringe right-wingers, like QAnon believers. The most major of these is Marjorie Greene, a QAnon believer from Georgia who won a House seat. I wrote more about her here: “Well, it Happened-Meet Your First QAnon Represenative.”

Marjorie Greene is a QAnon believer and House representative from Georgia.

But she wasn’t alone– Lauren Boebert also won a House seat in Colorado. Boebert has made comments supporting QAnon in the past, saying QAnon was “motivating and encouraging and bringing people together, stronger,” but has since disavowed the conspiracy cult. She owns a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, called Shooters Grill, where the staff are encouraged to open-carry.

Another QAnon believer who ran successfully is MMA fighter Tito Ortiz, who won a seat on Huntington Beach, California’s City Council. Ortiz sold QAnon themed athletic wear on his website and ran on the campaign slogan “Make Huntington Beach Safe Again.” MMA site Bloody Elbow has the disturbing details here: https://www.bloodyelbow.com/2020/11/4/21549515/ufc-pioneer-qanon-supporter-tito-ortiz-elected-huntington-beach-city-council-mma-politics

Idiocracy: Tito Ortiz wearing a “Where We Go One, We Go All” QAnon tank top. Dare I say future President Ortiz?

Also heading to Congress is Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina. He’s disavowed QAnon, but takes talking points from their playbook, talking about a cabal of sex slave traffickers. As the Charlotte Observer notes:

“Cawthorn’s rise to prominence has already been mired in scandal, as he’s faced accusations of ties to white supremacy, sexual misconduct, racism and lying about his record.” 

Even if Trump is gone, an orange stain will remain.

Read more about how we got to this crazy time in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness.

* I discussed American Madness on the CripesCast, with the very funny Charlie Berens (Manitowoc Minute): https://cripescast.podbean.com/e/episode-19-tea-krulos
* I joined the guys on Lumpen Radio’s Eye 94 book show, which includes some American Madness excerpts read by Shanna Van Volt, giving it a nice conspiracy jazz lounge tone: https://www.mixcloud.com/lumpenradio/eye-94-10-29-2020-tea-kroulos-conspiracies-and-qanon/
* I was part of a written roundtable discussion on misinformation for LitHub with authors Renata Salecl and Jonathan Berman. You can read it here: https://lithub.com/the-misinformation-superhighway-a-roundtable-on-the-rise-of-the-great-american-conspiracy/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fly (1958)

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

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

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

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

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

The Wolfman (1941)

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

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

Night of the Living Dead, 1968

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

Godzilla 1954

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To recap:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richard McCaslin: An Obituary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richard_McCaslin

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

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

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

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A Militia of Phantom Patriots

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

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

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

Michael Jung’s Twitter profile pic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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