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.
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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: I Kicked 2021’s Ass (or Maybe it Kicked Mine)
This is the last Tea’s Weird Week column of the year before I take a holiday break from it. Well, what can I say–2021, like 2020 was a pretty insane, surreal year overall. I mean, 6 days into it and there was a violent, conspiracy-fueled mob who stormed the Capitol. There were challenges for me, personally, but it was also one of the best years I’ve had as a writer.
One thing that was spectacular was that it was a year that I expanded the mediums I work in and this also involved collaborating with other people, more so than I’ve done in a long time. Writing can be a very lonely art, so it was great to work with others on a podcast, documentaries, and events.
Here’s my 2021 highlights!
January: The launch of the Tea’s Weird Week podcast. My great crew for the show includes my co-host Heidi Erickson, sound engineer Andrew (aka Android138), and our trivia master, Christen (aka Miss Information). For our first year we recorded 36 episodes as well as a couple specials and bonus tracks. We did some fun stuff like getting live interviews at Midwest Haunters Convention and UFO Daze. You can catch up on Tea’s Weird Week here: Tea’s Weird Week Podcast | (teakrulos.com)
April: I returned as a walking tour guide for American Ghost Walks, running tours for the rest of the year. The “Ghosts of Christmas Past” tours this weekend and next wrap up the season. More tour info: American Ghost Walks | Haunted History Tours and Ghost Walks
May: I was honored to receive a gold Milwaukee Press Club Award in the “Best Short Hard Feature” category for an article I wrote for Milwaukee Magazine about citizen journalists titled “Reporting Live from the Street.”
June: I also won a National Indie Excellence Book Award in the “Current Events” category for my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness.
July: Also American Madness related– production begins on a documentary adaptation of the book. Eric and Kim Hayden are producers. The Haydens have been great to work with and we’ve been slowly and steadily getting interviews and other material to tell a great visual version of the book.
September: After a virtual only event, Milwaukee Paranormal Conference returned Sept. 24-26 with events at Faklandia Brewing, Alverno College, and a variety of locations on Sunday’s Activity Day. It was great to be back and see familiar faces.
October: I wrote an article for Milwaukee Magazine on Kenosha area “horror hosts” titled “Terror on the Tube,” and that article is being adapted into a documentary short. Alicia Krupsky is director, me and Christopher House are producers, several other talented people are involved in the production, too. Production began in October. I also took a trip for about 5 days to California to help shoot interviews for the American Madness doc.
December: Milwaukee Krampusnacht returned Dec. 5. Organizing that event is a lot of work and this year was especially challenging. But it looked like everyone had fun, so it was worth it.
As if that wasn’t enough, Dec. 9 was the official release of my book Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches, a collection of short stories I wrote about a drug store/ greasy spoon diner I worked at in my youth. It’s published by Vegetarian Alcoholic Press and you can order here: Tea Krulos • Brady St. Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches — Read the Future (vegetarianalcoholicpress.com)
Here’s a TWW Pharmacy episode: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep 10 (Finale): A Brady Street Pharmacy Fever Dream (podbean.com)
Release party was at Lion’s Tooth, a great independent bookstore here in Milwaukee. The owners asked if I could cover a few shifts working there in October and of course I said yeah, cause they are awesome.
What a year! The Tea’s Weird Week column and podcast will be back sometime next month, mid-January. Between now and then, I’m going to try to take it easy. I’ll be working on a couple articles for Milwaukee Magazine and the documentary projects, but also hoping to catch up on some reading, movies, and enjoying some holiday time. If you’re reading this, congratulations on living through another crazy year and I hope you have a lovely holiday season. See you in 2022!
My books make a good gift. here’s the best links to order each one:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021)
American Madness (2020)
Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020)
Apocalypse Any Day Now (2019)
Monster Hunters (2015)
Heroes in the Night (2013)
Tea’s Weird Week: Horror Hosts
I’m still recovering from October. What a month! Definitely one of the busiest I’ve experienced. I did a bunch of tours for American Ghost Walks, did some podcasts, took a trip to California to work on the American Madness doc and…oh yeah, started a new project– a documentary short based on an article I wrote for the October Milwaukee Magazine. The doc’s working title is Kenosha Horror Hosts.
This all started back in 2016 when I met a horror host from the Kenosha area, Deadgar Winter, who has a show called Deadgar’s Dark Coffin Classics. That same year I also first encountered Dr. Destruction, a horror host with a show called Crimson Theatre, also based in Kenosha.
A horror host show features a zany character (or cast of characters) that introduces an old horror film (or independent features) and they do short skits as “bumper segments” when going to commercial breaks.
Vampira is cited as the first horror host. Actress Maila Nurmi hosted The Vampira Show in 1954. Her life story is really interesting and amazing and if you’re looking for a good book, I highly recommend Glamour Ghoul: The Passions and Pain of the Real Vampira, Maila Nurmi, written by her niece Sandra Niemi (published by Feral House, who published my book American Madness).
Some other famous examples of horror hosts– Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (she was supposed to be a Vampira reboot, but her producers decided they would just rip Vampira off and not pay her), Chicago’s Svengoolie, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and Joe Bob Briggs to name a few.
After I met Deadgar Winter and Dr. Destruction, I thought there might be an interesting story there and I filed it away in the back of my brain. When I saw that two of Deadgar’s co-hosts, Celeste and Morgan Parker had split off and started their own show (Hexen Arcane), I decided it was time to do the story up. Then I discovered there was a fourth show in the Kenosha area– Nightmare Cinema with Uncle Wolfman. Whaaaaaat. Four Kenosha horror host shows?
While working on the article I just had a kind of light bulb moment where I could see the story being a great documentary short– it’s a story filled with colorful characters. My Tea’s Weird Week podcast co-host Heidi Erickson introduced me to her friend, filmmaker Alicia Krupsky, who agreed to be director. Christopher House, a co-founder of the Twisted Dreams Film Fest is a producer and cinematographer. Stephen Vincent Anderson and Heather House have provided additional camera work and we’ll have more talented people helping with production.
We did a few shoots, including the bulk of interviews we wanted last month and it’s been a blast. Winter is going to be a good time to work on editing. We’re hoping to be done in late spring or early summer and will be entering Kenosha Horror Hosts into film fests. In the meantime, you can read my Milwaukee Magazine article here (or listen to me read it on this week’s Tea’s Weird Week podcast, link below): A Look Inside the Surprisingly Large Web of Local Horror Hosts (milwaukeemag.co
Tea’s Weird Week S3 ep07: Halloween Hangover: Happy witching season! Tea reads his article on Wisconsin horror hosts from the October issue of Milwaukee Magazine. Tea and Heidi discuss Tea’s encounter with a street preacher while leading a ghost our, QAnon thought JFK Jr. would appear to them in Dallas, Zuck’s BBQ bottle and more. Miss Information has trivia and we close out with a track by Rexxx, “Animal.”
Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week S3 ep07: Halloween Hangover (podbean.com)
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Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram
Check out my latest books:
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)
Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)
Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)