Category Archives: Epic Travels
Tea’s Weird Year: Here’s What I did in 2022 (and 12 Things I Want Myself to Remember)
2022 was quite a year. It was often challenging. Challenging doesn’t necessarily mean bad. I pushed myself, I won some, lost some, and a couple times landed in-between. I don’t think I’m qualified to give anyone life advice but I’ve put some key points from this year in bold as notes to myself on lessons learned and appreciated this year or things I should remember to be grateful for. I’ve also linked to relevant articles, blog posts, etc.
In January, my friend Paul Kjelland asked if I wanted to jump in the van and road trip with him to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Yes, I did. I thought Santa Fe was beautiful and I checked out some interesting stuff. Santa Fe is mostly adobe style houses and many people hang bunches of dried red chile peppers on their porch to celebrate New Mexico’s status as “Chile Capitol of the World.” Dishes with chile sauce are popular in Santa Fe. You can get a red chile sauce or a green one, I recommend getting “Christmas” style, a mix of both. That trip was the only out-of-state travel I did in 2022, but I do believe there is more in the future. (1.) Traveling to new places and seeing how people live their lives there is important.
I wrote a total of 67 articles (for various publications) and Tea’s Weird Week columns in 2022 (yes, I kept a list). I had a feature article in the February issue of Milwaukee Magazine titled “Fishy Business” (note: I’m referring to all articles by the title they had in the print version, those often get tweaked or changed completely for the web version) It was about the thin line that makes the sale or barter of sturgeon eggs illegal. The Sconnie Crimes Unit: dees are dem der stories. But seriously, I had no idea and found the entire story to be fascinating, everything from the family traditions involved to the number of cars that fall through the ice every year to the hilarious difference in how caviar is presented in the Lake Winnebago area versus some fancy restaurant (Lake Winnebago: a Ritz cracker with a smudge of cream cheese and a cheap beer). (2.) Look for interesting stories you’re not aware of in your own back yard.
“Visibly Indigenous” was a feature for the March issue of Milwaukee Magazine. It was honor to write. In talking with my editor, Chris Drosner, my goal was clear– (3.) Shut up and listen. I am grateful to Chris and the rest of the Milwaukee Magazine staff for their faith in me to do a good job with a story.
There were two seasons of Tea’s Weird Week podcast in 2022, one that ran late January through early April and another that went late June through early September. Many weird news items were examined and interesting people were interviewed. Thanks to my co-host Heidi Erickson, sound engineer Android138, trivia host Miss Information, and all our guests and listeners. We got a holiday/end of year special that will be out next week but I’m not sure when a new season might roll out.
Ghost tours started up in May. This year, besides freelancing, my gainful employment was leading tours for American Ghost Walks and filling in some odd shifts at Lion’s Tooth (a great bookstore here in Milwaukee). (4.) I greatly appreciate working for people who have businesses I am glad to support and who treat me kindly and fairly.
More favorite Milwaukee Magazine articles– “The Last Fisherman of Washington Island” (June) and “The Last Frame” (July) which both kinda sound doomsdayish, but they’re not. I enjoyed my visit to Washington Island and the more familiar environs of the Falcon Bowl. I also wrote an article on infamous Milwaukee prankster Mark Gubin and am working on another project or two in different mediums to tell his story. (5.) It is good to enjoy what you are working on.
August through September was a dark period for me, not going to lie. I think it took me awhile to figure out why, but one factor was I finally got COVID in August. There was also some work stress, lost work, and rejection and other bad shit. Normally I probably would have pushed through like a hammerhead, but I think the COVID put me in a bad mental state. I was in bad shape there and I know a couple people might have been worried about me. Sorry! (6.) I’m trying to learn that sometimes failure is inevitable and you just got to pick yourself up and keep going.
It was around this time that this Tea’s Weird Week column went into a hiatus mode for the most part. I was too zapped to do a weekly column. That’s ok. I’m going to reevaluate the Tea’s Weird Week column in the New Year to see how it might move forward. After that rough period, there was a lot to do, so I got back to work… Milwaukee Paranormal Conference happened October 15-16. Overall, I think there’s a good handle on this event now. This was our third year at Alverno College. American Ghost Walks and our great volunteers helped a lot. (7.) I’m trying to learn to be better about asking for help when I need it.
I’m producer on a documentary titled “I’m Your Host” based on a 2021 article I wrote. Alicia Krupsky is the director, other fantastic people are involved, too. We applied for a Brico Forward Fund grant and found out in October that we won! That will help make sure we have the right resources to get it done. Alicia showed me part of the edited doc the other day and it’s really coming together well. (8.) It’s great to meet solid collaborators who share your vision.
It’s weird because this has been the first year in the last ten years that I’ve not been signed to some book deal. There are things in the works. Me and co-author Jenny Sanchez are working on a travel guide together titled Paranormal Road Trip. Looking forward to working on that more this coming year. I got a couple other book ideas, but I’ll keep those on the down low for now. (9.) It’s good to have future goals.
Pretty cool– I tabled at a few fun events around the state this year– conferences, bookstores, events, and sold my books. I was a guest on several podcasts and radio shows this year and was featured, albeit pretty briefly, on an episode of 99% Invisible in November for an episode that talked about the Real Life Superhero movement. Nice to know my first book, Heroes in the Night, published almost ten years ago, still gets talked about sometimes.
And then BAM, Milwaukee Krampusnacht on December 4. This year was a leap of faith. It was a lot of work, the biggest event I’ve produced so far. To be honest, it was a little terrifying. Was it possible? Would we make our money back? Would we get permits in time? Would people attend a second-rate Knockoffnacht instead?
It ended up being an incredible collaboration between artists, performers, musicians, vendors, and all sorts of wonderful weirdos all helping and participating. There were some places for improvement, but overall a huge success I’m happy with that we can build on next year. Big stuff ahead for Krampusnacht. I will be putting together a Planning Committee– more info on that next month if you’re interested. (10.) We must (and will) continue to kick ass! Atlas Obscura wrote a great article about the event here: www.atlasobscura.com/articles/what-is-krampus
Sadly, it seems every year, I have to say good-bye to someone. Linda S. Godfrey was a wonderful paranormal researcher and author I got to meet while working on my book Monster Hunters. She was a Milwaukee Paranormal Conference guest speaker and I last saw her a couple years ago (2019) when I lead a discussion about her (last) book I Know What I Saw at Boswell Books. Jann Goldberg— another paranormal investigator I met while working on Monster Hunters, one of the funniest people I’ve met, also passed away, as well as my friends EB Brown and Sarah Danger Underhill. I wasn’t very close to either of those last two in recent years as they had moved out of state, but I have fond recollections of hanging out with both. (11.) I was fortunate enough to meet these people and they will live on in my memories.
Thanks to everyone who has participated and supported me, my weird life, and various projects this year. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2023 has in store for me, to keep learning, keep working on personal growth, and keep dreaming.
First up for 2023 is cleaning and organizing my office– it’s a mess because I was so busy with events that I just threw stacks of paperwork, boxes, and books on my desk, shelves, wherever I could stuff it without causing an avalanche. I also need to organize my plans, my calendar, and my mind. I’m listening to an audiobook with Kate, Work Clean: The life-changing power of mise-en-place to organize your life, work, and mind by Dan Charnas. Mise-en-place (“putting in place”) originates from the culinary world and refers to properly preparing and organizing. In a kitchen that’s having a station set up with all the ingredients and utensils in place and ready to go, as well as being physically and mentally prepared so you’re not running around the kitchen in a panic. Charnas applies this to other professions in his book, and I’ve found his lessons insightful. And so, my last note to myself from 2022 is: (12.) Get your damn mise-en-place ready to go for 2023 cause it’s gonna be a big one.
I think that’s all I have to say or want to say about this year. I hope you have a happy Krampusnacht, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Yule, Boxing Day, Saturnalia, New Year’s, or whatever holidays you choose to celebrate.
Krulos Central Station, Dec. 21, 2022
Tea’s Weird Week: Our Horror Host Doc, “I’m Your Host,” Won a Brico Forward Fund Award!
I’ve been wanting to keep up with Tea’s Weird Week as a weekly column (as the name implies) but it’s been a real busy time for me. The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference happened. I’ve been running that thing since 2015. I think it went fine. I’m a little burnt out on everything, but it went fine. I hosted a panel with my colleagues Matthew Prigge, Anna Lardinois, and Gavin Schmitt. All three are authors and Matthew and Anna are also Milwaukee Magazine contributors. There were a lot of other great talks and I had a lot of fun on our Sunday Activity Day.
Up next: Milwaukee Krampusnacht. We’re pushing for our biggest year yet so please head over to milwaukeekrampusnacht.com to check out the schedule, ticket info, and you can be a Krampus– put together a costume and register on our site!
Here is a BIG FREAKING DEAL though– a documentary project I’m producer on, I’m Your Host, won a Brico Forward Fund Award by Milwaukee Film!
I’m Your Host is somewhat based on an article I wrote for the October 2021 issue of Milwaukee Magazine. It’s title in print was “Terror on the Tube.” It’s about Kenosha, Wisconsin’s unusually high number of “horror hosts,” people who have their own shows where they introduce old, usually public domain, or independent horror films. You know, like Vampira, Elvira, Svengoolie, etc.
Kenosha has four of these shows– Dr. Destruction’s Crimson Theater, Hexen Arcane, Nightmare Cinema, and Storm’s Eclectic Realm (which features some of the cast of Deadgar’s Dark Coffin Classics. Curtis aka Deadgar Winter passed away shortly after we interviewed him for this doc last year. I wrote about his death for MilMag’s website here: www.milwaukeemag.com/beloved-horror-host-deadgar-winter-has-died)
As I was wrapping the article up, I put together a crew for a documentary that includes our director, the talented Alicia Krupsky, as well as Christopher House, director of the Twisted Dreams Film Fest as a producer. We hired local filmographer Stephen Vincent Anderson for some of the shoots, and Heather House and others have helped, too. The soundtrack features local bands Ratbatspider, Imperial Fall, and The Almas.
It’s been a roller coaster! We have shared in our subject matter’s heartbreak over the death of Curtis (Stephen and Alicia helped with his memorial show, I wrote his obituary) but were also able to share the success of Dr. Destruction being inducted in the Worldwide Television and Radio Horror Host Hall of Fame (we helped plan his party).
We applied for the Brico award and Tuesday was the big day. Me and Alicia showed up for Milwaukee Film’s event to announce the award recipients. There were a good number of people there and I did feel intimidated. Shortly before the announcements started I told Alicia, “ya know, if we don’t win it, at least we tried. A lot of people don’t even make it this far.”
They began, introduced the award jury, and then started talking about the first award winner. Me and Alicia looked at each other. They were talking about us! It was quite a great moment in my life. I’ve had some wins and some failures, but this was a big win. The award is going to provide us with some funding as well as some free access to professional services that will really help make our doc the best it can be. We’re all very excited to get it finished and share this story by getting it out to both traditional and horror film fests.
A big THANK YOU to everyone who has been supportive of this project, especially the horror hosts themselves.
Here’s our first trailer, which was part of our award application.
I’m Your Host – Trailer from Alicia Krupskaya on Vimeo.
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: My Top 5 Strange Places
For the Tea’s Weird Week podcast this week, I met up with and interviewed Jenny Sanchez, a travel writer and creator of the Long Days Travel website. She’s been all over the world to check out cool and unusual places and it got me to thinking about the strangest places I’ve been to. There’s a lot, but I picked out what I think are the top 5. Please note that “strange” doesn’t necessarily mean awesome and good or creepy and bad… just strange.
(1.) The Outpost (undisclosed location in Pahrump, Nevada)
My book American Madness follows the life of Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot, a costumed, conspiracy believing commando. After serving prison time and parole, Richard eventually settled down and bought a home in Pahrump, Nevada. As I describe in a chapter of American Madness titled “Where the Heck is Pahrump?” the small desert town is sort of a magnet for odd characters– Art Bell, original host of Coast-to-Coast AM, lived there, as well as other famous eccentrics.
Richard found a good deal on a house, with one of the selling points being the large Quonset hut on the property, which he visualized as a low budget superhero headquarters/ training facility/ filming set/ Phantom Patriot museum that he named “the Outpost.” I visited the Outpost twice– I traveled to Pahrump in 2015, where we filmed an episode of his webshow, Phantom Patriot Retro Cinema (ep 02, “Assault on Area 51”) and I spent the weekend at his house in his guest bedroom. We also made a day trip to film near Area 51 and the Li’l Ale’ E’ Inn. That was the last time I saw Richard alive.
After Richard died, I returned to the Outpost in November 2019 to join a few of Richard’s friends and neighbors who gathered there to have a memorial and spread his ashes on the property. Just thinking about the whole story– meeting Richard, befriending him, visiting Pahrump and having a stressful filming day out in the desert, learning of his death– all of it is the strangest story I’ve experienced, mainly because I was a part of the story, too. It’s something I’ll never forget.
(2.) International Cryptozoology Museum (Portland, Maine)
My second book was titled Monster Hunters and it took me to all sorts of strange places– Bobby Mackey’s Music World (a haunted honky tonk), the Skunk Ape Research Center in Florida, the International UFO Congress conference in Arizona, Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant, a Bigfoot expedition in Michigan, and more– so it’s hard to pick the best one for this list, but one of my strange and favorite visits was to the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine in 2013, I visited on my birthday that year. The museum is curated by Loren Coleman, prolific author and one of the world’s leading and most well-known cryptozoologists. The museum is such a great collection of Sasquatch footprint casts, models of cryptids, rare documents, art, and other interesting items related to the study of unknown creatures. Since my visit, the museum has moved to a new location– time to make a trip to Maine sometime soon!
(3.) The House on the Rock (Spring Green, Wisconsin)
I was reminded of just how strange this place is over the 4th of July weekend. I met my family in Spring Green, where they were having a holiday weekend, to take a trip through the wild fever dream that is the House on the Rock. I can’t really think of anything that compares to this– it is just one huge room after another filled with mind-boggling sights– a giant whale fighting a squid, the world’s largest carousel, which is going just a little too fast and has an automatic band with thumping bass drums adding to the mania– collections of weird guns and circus miniatures and so much more. When I interviewed Jenny Sanchez, it was also the first place she brought up for unusual destinations, she called the House, “the Disneyland of the unusual.”
I’ve been especially wanting to return since reading/ seeing it in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I wrote about the House on the Rock in brief in the “Legendary Places” chapter of my book Wisconsin Legends & Lore.
(4.) Survival Condos (undisclosed location in Kansas)
While working on my book Apocalypse Any Day Now, I arranged a tour of the Survival Condos, a state of the art underground bunker built in an old Atlas missile silo. Me and my friend Paul drove out there and spent about 3 hours checking the place out with building developer Larry Hall. The condos not only include the living units but a swimming pool, recreation areas, school, gym, a small grocery store, and a movie theater 14 floors underground. I wrote a chapter about the experience titled “Doomsday Bunkers of the Rich and Famous” and did a column/podcast episode revisiting that experience, which you can check out here: Tea’s Weird Week: Doomsday Bunkers of the Rich and Famous (Revisited) | (teakrulos.com)
(5.) Wasteland City (Mojave Desert)
Another experience I had while working on Apocalypse Any Day Now was attending Wasteland Weekend, which is a sort of Mad Max-Burning Man of the Damned-post-Apocalyptic festival. “Wasteland City” assembles in the Mojave Desert outside of California City for the week and the junk city includes its own FM radio station, post office, a Thunderdome for cage fighting, marketplace, casino, night clubs, and much more. It is a place that only appears for the duration of the 4-5 days of Wasteland Weekend, which takes place in late September. There are hundreds of Mad Max style cars and thousands dressed in post-Apocalyptic style garb. I even found work there writing short articles for the daily newsletter, The Wastelander, under my Wasteland name, Krulos the Terrible. I had such a fun time getting drinks at the Atomic Cafe and then wandering around Wasteland at night and checking stuff out. I definitely want to return– it’s not likely I will this year, but I’d like to make it a 2022 goal.
Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep08, Long Days and Weird Weeks: I meet up with Jenny Sanchez, a travel writer who seeks out unique and unusual places to visit, which she documents on her site, Long Days Travel. We talked about strange destinations, bucket list, and travel tips.
In the news segment, me and Heidi talk about another appearance by the Moorish Sovereign Citizens, the 2014 Slenderman case, the three UFO capitals of Wisconsin, and more. Plus trivia with Miss Information and we bring it all back home by closing with a tribute to Milwaukee, “Good Land,” by The MilBillies.
Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep08: Long Days, Weird Weeks (podbean.com)
Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts
Tea’s Weird Week: Live from the Midwest Haunters Convention
Last weekend (June 26-27) the Tea’s Weird Week crew (Me, Andrew, and Heidi) tabled with the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference and American Ghost Walks at the Midwest Haunters Convention. I was glad to be there to promote the events, but I was also excited to be there to take a look at the world of “Haunters” which is a term for people in the professional haunted entertainment industry or amateurs who just enjoy decorating and appreciating Halloween and the haunting season 365 days a year. It was a fun experience– Haunters are creative, artistic, and like to have spooky fun. I had some interesting conversations and saw a lot of great costumes and props. Since this was such a visual experience, I’m just going to share a bunch of pictures I took for this column.
If you scroll through to the end, you’ll find a link to this week’s Tea’s Weird Week column which features interviews and clips me, Andrew, and Heidi captured live on the conference floor, plus an eerie trivia question by Miss Information and the perfect track for this event “Halloween 365” by Ratbatspider.
Paranormal Real Estate Mogul: I like to add a little reoccurring project to the tail end of this column sometimes, so I’m glad to announce this new section. “Paranormal Real Estate Mogul” will share listings I come across that are either haunted, cursed, or have some paranormal tie. We’ll start with this listing:
Property: Village of Lawers
Location: Perthshire, Scotland
Listed at: £125,000 ($175,000US) Realtor: Goldcrest Land and Property Group
Notes: Lots to like with this listing– own your own haunted village! Well, the “village” is just 3.31 acres of the 17th century ruins of Lawers, a village of just 17 people that dropped down to 7 by 1891 and was completely abandoned by 1926. Bonus– it does have it’s own beach on the shores of Loch Tay and huge bonus– it does have a ghost, the “Lady of Lawers” a former resident of the village that had “known for her eerie prophecies.”
Tea’s Weird Week, season 2 episode 7: Live from the Midwest Haunters Convention:
Tea, Heidi, and sound engineer Android138 check out the Midwest Haunters Convention, an event geared towards “Haunters,” or people who work in or are fans of the haunted attraction industry, or simply love decorating for Halloween or keeping it spooky year round. The TWW crew did some floor interviews with vendors and other event participants.
In the news segment, Tea and Heidi talk about a “Redneck Rave” (what could go wrong?), Moorish Sovereign Citizens, Heidi has a new mission for the Satanic Temple (read: #FreeBritney), that new UFO report, and more. Plus an eerie trivia question from Miss Information and we close out with the perfect track for this episode, “Halloween 365” by Ratbatspider. Happy hauntings!
Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep07: Live from the Midwest Haunters Convention (podbean.com)
Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts
Check out my latest books:
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)
Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)
Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)