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: The Radio Krampus Special
It remains a mystery to us how DJ 10-foot Tall Krampus was able to break into the Tea’s Weird Week podcast studios to record this “Radio Krampus” special, but we got to admit that hell’s bells, it’s pretty bangin’ so enjoy!
Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week Special: Radio Krampus (podbean.com)
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- “Dance with the Krampus,” Xposed 4heads
- “Krampusnacht!” Darkzine
- “Krampusnacht is Here,” The Courtesan & the Cabin Boy
- “I Saw Mommy Kissing Yog-Sothoth,” H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society
- “The Krampus Song,” The Chardon Polka Band
- “American Monsters,” Sunspot
- “Krampus Redux,” Actually
- “Carol of the Bells,” ShadowFire
- “Monster Mash,” Bobby “Boris” Picket and the Crypt-Kickers
- “Day of the Ratbatspider,” Ratbatspider
- “Krampus,” Punk Freud
- “Whipping Bells,” Manuela Horn
- “Krampus is Coming…Hide ya Kids, Part 3,” Android138
- “Ra ra ra,” Zombie Carol Choir
- “Krampus is Coming,” Joe Hart
- “The Ballad of Mari Lwyd,” Frosty
- “War on Christmas,” DJ 10-foot Tall Krampus
- “Krampus Christmas,” Actually
- “A Krampus Carol,” Madame Onça & Paolo Garbanzo
- “Fan the Flame,” The Quilz
- “Twelve Nights of Krampus,” The Courtesan & the Cabin Boy
Milwaukee Krampusnacht donations: www.gofundme.com/f/milwaukee-krampusnacht-2021-costs
Listen to more Tea’s Weird Week here: Tea’s Weird Week Podcast | (teakrulos.com)
Tea’s Weird Week: My Favorite Moments from Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2021
My name is Tea Krulos– I’m a journalist, author, tour guide, podcast host, and I founded the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference in 2015. The event took place this year September 24-26 and was sponsored by American Ghost Walks. It was a great time– the conference weekend is always kind of a whirlwind for me, but I had some really nice moments I wanted to share.
Friday Sept. 24: Paranormal Party Time
The conference officially begins with Paranormal Party Time at Faklandia Brewing. We were supposed to have activities on their patio, but rain came in and I had one of those stressful oh shit, everything is ruined moments. But I found myself surrounded by a great crew of people from American Ghost Walks, Tea’s Weird Week, and other assorted friends, standing around and drinking in the rain trying to figure out what to do. We rearranged some stuff and did a Ghost Story Open Mic, trivia, and a performance by Sunspot.
You can hear a recording of the Ghost Story Open Mic session here: Tea‘s Weird Week Special: Ghost Story Open Mic 2021 (podbean.com)
Oh, and our volunteer Judy baked a UFO-themed cake for the event because it was birthday weekend for both of us! She also showed up at the conference the next day in an outfit inspired by the Flatwoods Monster. Amazing! My friend Hillarie Higgins also made me some ghost cookies!
Saturday Sept. 25: Milwaukee Paranormal Conference at Alverno College (also my birthday)
-The morning of the conference is always a mad scramble. That’s just the way it is. But while scrambling, I was just so glad to see familiar faces of people I haven’t seen in awhile and to be able to meet some cool new people, too. The vendor floor was a great mix and we had a nice line-up of guest speakers. We tried to focus on Wisconsin-centric stories this year, everything from local ghost stories to Bigfoot sightings. Shetan Noir kicked things off with a talk on the “Lake Michigan Triangle” to a full house of people! Other Speakers included Baranaby from CAPS, Amelia Cotter, Allison Jornlin, Stacy Schuerman, Mike Huberty, Noah Leigh, J. Nathan Couch, and Jeff from Badgerland Legends.
– At 11AM Milwaukee Krampus Eigenheit, a group of local Krampus enthusiasts, was supposed to give a presentation but couldn’t make it. I stepped in to talk about the Milwaukee Krampusnacht event (Dec. 5, Bavarian Bierhaus). Rather than yammer on, I just showed this great video our friends at Haunt Collective put together after our first event and some photos from our 2019 event (taken by Troy Freund Photography). There was great enthusiasm for the event– it’s going to be the best holiday celebration in Milwaukee!
-At noon Mike Huberty was set to give a presentation on the urban legend of Haunchyville but was hung up for a minute helping with tech in the other room, so I told the people waiting for him that Mike would be along in a minute to “talk about a little place called Haunchyville?” Now that’s a good joke! (Get it? Because Haunchyville is an urban legend about a secret village of angry little people in Muskego? Ah, nevermind.)
Donovan Scherer of Studio Moonfall also created this fabulous Haunchyville coloring sheet to give out at the talk:
-Throughout the day, I signed a few books for people. It’s always a great feeling to get a book into the hands of a reader instead of sitting in a box somewhere. You can find out more about my books here: teakrulos.com/about
-The Tea’s Weird Week Live panel happened at 1pm. Me and Heidi hosted a panel that included Goddess Adia, Hillarie Higgins, J. Nathan Couch, and Donna Lea Wells Fink. Before we called guests up, me and Heidi discussed one item– that the latest paranormal investigator to explore the famously haunted Pfister Hotel was…Megan Thee Stallion, staying there because she was performing at Summerfest. I told Heidi that wasn’t a surprise because she had sung on “WAP,” which obviously stood for “Weird, Abnormal Phenomena.” Hey c’mon, that was a good one! But a very fun time. I gave out about a dozen gifts to the audience– books, a bat kite, hot sauce, and swag packs.
You can listen to the panel here: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep03: Live from the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (podbean.com)
-American Ghost Walks also did a panel with Mike Huberty, Allison Jornlin, Wendy and Scott Markus, and Carrie Postuma. We recorded it so you can listen here: Milwaukee Paranormal Conference American Ghost Walks Panel (podbean.com)
-Thanks to everyone who attended, our guest speakers and vendors, and our dedicated volunteers!
-Kinda nice– after the conference we didn’t have a live event this year, so I went home and got into pajamas to watch livestreams– Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee investigated the Cedarburg History Museum and American Ghost Walks livestreamed from the Brumder Mansion.
Sunday Sept. 26: Activity Day
-At 10am I arrived at Forest Home Cemetery where the day was starting with a Yoga in the Cemetery session. It was an absolutely beautiful day for it and when I arrived I found about 20 yogis ready to enjoy the morning. I really wish I could have participated, but I had to keep er movin.
-By Noon I was in Riverwest to drop by the MPC Poetry Open Mic at the Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts. It was MC’d by Kavon Cortex-Jones, one of the most talented poets in the city. Meanwhile, my friend Kelly Teague hosted a Pop-up Death Cafe at Grant Park (which is supposed to be haunted) and I hear that went really well.
-2pm, Wisconsin’s leading mafia expert Gavin Schmitt gave a talk at the Bay View Community Center, a perhaps lesser known but great event space. I stopped in and Gavin signed a couple books for me. He was a great addition to the conference this year.
-We had Third Ward and Waukesha American Ghost Walks and a Forest Home Cemetery “Art and Symbolism” tours going on at 3, but I headed over to the Witches Faire at Faklandia Brewing, set up by Heidi Erickson and friends. It featured vendors and workshops and it was the perfect day for it. There were many beautiful witches there, so I just hung out with a drink in the warm September sun and enjoyed hanging out with them.
-And holy smokes, another birthday cake, this time a Bigfoot-themed, baked by witches! If there was a spell baked into it, it was a good one!
-I didn’t make it to the last event of the day, a Milwaukee Twisted Dreams Film Fest presentation of Lake Michigan Monster at Shaker’s Cigar Bar. I hear it was fun!
Milwaukee Paranormal Conference will return next year. Milwaukee Krampusnacht is Dec. 5 at Bavarian Bierhaus.
If you want to help support us, we have some leftover merch. Artist Estephanie Mendoza did the fantastic designs this year. Check out our shirts (we especially got a lot of XL left), buttons, and stickers on our Square store: milwaukee-para-con.square.site There’s also donation buttons on the Square site as well as a PayPal donation link here: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/mkeparacon
Your support is appreciated!
Please Clap Dept.: I was featured in MKE Lifestyle Magazine in an article titled “The Season of Supernatural,” which features interviews with me and colleagues Linda S. Godfrey and Anna Lardinois. Here’s what they say about me:
“Local treasure Tea Krulos enjoys delving into the fringe side of social movements, oddball personalities and the supernatural. With a quick wit and measured tone, the Milwaukee author and journalist gleefully blogs and chats about our strange world and the paranormal in his “Tea’s Weird Week” column and podcast.”
Did you hear that? LOCAL TREASURE.
Tea’s Weird Week, S3 ep03: Live from the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference: Tea and Heidi lead a panel live at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference with special guests Goddess Adia, Hillarie Higgins, J. Nathan Couch, and Donna Lea Wells Fink. Plus a paranormal trivia question from Miss Information and a great spooky season track from Sunspot, “Spend the Night.”
Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep03: Live from the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (podbean.com)
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Tea’s Weird Week: Krampusland
What a night! Yesterday was the third annual Milwaukee Krampusnacht. I’m the director of the event, but many people worked hard to make it a success. Volunteers, the Bavarian Bierhaus staff, vendors, musicians, Milwaukee Krampus Eigenheit, and all the parade performers worked together to make this fun holiday celebration come to life.
I was first introduced to Krampus in the pages of a book by Monte Beauchamp (editor of the great BLAB! magazine). I thought it was right up my alley. I began to see pictures and video from Krampusnacht celebrations around the country. Bloomington, Indiana has one, New Orleans has one…but not Milwaukee?! I invited Minnesota Krampus to the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference in 2016, and they drew a lot of interest. I met Krampus enthusiast Robert Schonecker and we agreed the Milwaukee needed to experience a Krampus horde in action.
We had no idea it would have such a huge interest. In 3 years we’ve nearly quadrupled in size. Krampus is a hit! Why? I think people like being part of, or witness, this tradition. I know I’ve loved monsters since I was a kid. I also think Krampus is the antidote for all the holiday stress and pressure bullshit and the sugary Hallmark stuff.
As I said, big interest. This year we took a first step expanding into the beer garden with the Bells & Chains Tavern as well as a bonfire performance. We had great music inside, a sold out Kid’s Krampus Hour (and KinderKrampus parade) and a fantastic vendor floor.
I’ve seen a couple of complaints from people about something that ruined the experience for them– they couldn’t find parking, they didn’t get snappy food service, not enough elbow room. I’m open to constructive criticism, but when you work really hard on something (I can’t even guess how many hours I’ve worked on the event) and someone just walks by and lifts their leg and pees on it, it’s a sour feeling.
Now that I vented that out, I’m glad to say that these complainers will have nothing to jaw about next year (well, they will always find something, I suppose). We are expanding into Heidelberg Hall in the beer garden, which will be serving food and drink. With both the Bierhaus and the Beer Garden open (and entertainment in both locations), we will have plenty of room to circulate people. There is another parking lot at the far end of one of the soccer fields we expand into, too.
I’m choosing to focus on the positive– the majority of attendees were very happy with the event and had a good time. I saw hundreds of people dancing, laughing, catching selfies with Krampus, walking out with beautiful, unique items from the vendor floor, and enjoying a delicious Bells & Chains beer.
Cheers to all of you, for making December 5 my favorite day of the year!
Here’s a few event photos from TMJ 4: https://www.tmj4.com/homepage-gallery/the-wonderfully-strange-and-creepy-celebration-of-krampusnacht-milwaukee-photos
We will have an album of photos uploaded soon on the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Facebook: www.facebook.com/milwaukeeparanormalconference
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