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)
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Check out my latest books:
Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)
Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)
Tea’s Weird Week is posted here every Thursday.
September has been really busy, as it seems every September is. Major event tomorrow night and Saturday– the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference. If you’re in the general Wisconsin area, hope to see you there. More info: https://milwaukeeparacon.com/milwaukee-para-con-2018/
Besides that, I’ve been working day jobs, freelancing articles, and working hard on finishing book manuscripts. It’s good, busy is good. But sometimes, what can one do in a situation like this but to dream of crisp fall days, drinking a hot caffeinated beverage in pajamas and reading a good book? Today I thought I’d share my fall reading list, I’m looking forward to these. Will I finish all these titles by the end of fall? Probably not. But here’s what’s on the docket.
Let me know if you’ve read any of these.
(1.) Feed by Mira Grant
This is the fall selection for the dystopian book club I founded, the Apocalypse Blog Book Club. I’m about halfway through and enjoying it. It’s a zombie apocalypse with a journalism twist. Fun stuff. Join the club on Facebook, this is our fall selection and we choose a winter selection next month.
(2.) Someday Jennifer by Risto Pakarinen
Risto is a cool dude and an editor at Scandinavian Traveler, where I’ve done some freelance work. It’s a novel with an 80s nostalgia theme, is about all I know. I pre-ordered it, the English translation is out later this month. Looking forward to it!
(3.) Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons by Kris Newby
I mentioned this in a previous Tea’s Weird Week, where I talked about programs like Operation: Big Itch and other insect experiments. I’m interested to read this as it lays out the theory that Lyme Disease was developed by a government program to create “weaponized ticks.” That’s pretty fucked up.
(4.) Good Time Party Girl: The Notorious Life of Dirty Helen Cromwell, 1886-1969 by Helen Cromwell and Robert Dougherty
One of the reasons I’m thrilled to have a book out with Feral House next year (American Madness, August 2020) is that their catalog is just bulletproof. I could grab any book they’ve put out and find it interesting. That’s certainly the case with Good Time Party Girl, the autobiography of a notorious underworld madame, “Dirty Helen” Cromwell, who operated The Sunflower Inn in the 1930s-50s here in Milwaukee. I love this type of history.
(5.) The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
Probably about a year ago I asked for recommendations for an epic fantasy series. For some reason I seem to really want to read/ see fantasy stuff in fall and winter (I watch The Lord of the Rings trilogy every December). Two of my friends suggested this series by Patrick Rothfuss. I read the first book in the series, The Name of the Wind, last winter, and it was great. I was glad to learn Rothfuss is a fellow Wisconsinite (Stevens Point). I started on book 2, but only got about 100 pages in when I was swept away with other stuff.
(6.) The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America by Jim Acosta
I picked this up when it was first out on a whim, but haven’t cracked it open yet. I still have a romantic vision of journalism and want to read this account of journalism in the Trump era.
(7.) The Eight Doctors by Terrance Dicks
If you didn’t know, I’m a huge Doctor Who fan, have been since I was a kid. Some of the early novels I eagerly read were the Doctor Who novelizations that were cranked out by Terrance Dicks, who died this month. I thought it might be fun to revisit his work. I singled out this one because it was an anniversary special of a crossover that never happened on screen. However, I see this book getting dragged mercilessly in reviews (which doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like it) and so I might find a better representation of his work… or maybe just skip it. Sometimes nostalgia is best left in your head. In any case, RIP Terrance Dicks, and thanks for your part in me becoming a young, avid reader.
(8.) Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Oh yeah, why does this one keep getting lost in the shuffle? Started reading it like two years ago, then boom boom deadline, put it aside, put it further aside. What the hell dude?
Milwaukee Paranormal Conference is this weekend: https://milwaukeeparacon.com/milwaukee-para-con-2018/
2014 was a good but often challenging year for me. I feel I did a lot of things I have not yet seen the payoff for, but hopefully will in 2015. 2014 was a lot of work. Good things happened and I’m looking forward to the future.
I hit 2014 running, as it was around the halfway point of my deadline to my second non-fiction book, Monster Hunters: On the Trail With Ghosthunters, Bigfooters, Ufologists, and Other Paranormal Investigators (Out June 1. Links to: Goodreads, Amazon).
In a way, writing this one was easier, because I had an idea of what had to be accomplished to write a book. On the other hand, it was intimidating because I had a lot of work to do in a fairly short amount of time. In 2013 I traveled to Vermont, Maine, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Florida. In 2014 travel continued to Arizona (for the 23rd International UFO Congress), Illinois, Michigan, and I continued to join local group Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee on cases.
In addition to the field work, I did a lot of research, interviewing, revising and more revising. By summer 2014 I had been reading about paranormal stuff for a solid year, was hammering out the final draft, and losing my mind.
I turned over the manuscript to my publisher (Chicago Review Press) in September. It was a huge relief and the book is currently going through the design phase. I’m looking forward greatly to having a stack of the books on my desk in June!
In October, I also self published a little book called Palookaville (links to Goodreads, Amazon). It’s a short collection of zany poetry and illustrations I slowly amassed over a year or so for kicks. A small project, but a fun one. I saw someone reading it and laughing, that’s all the pay off I really needed on that one.
One project I’ve been really excited about is Ballyhoo. I wrote the script for this comic and illustrator David Beyer, Jr. has been working on the art. We’re envisioning either a graphic novel or a 6 issue mini-series. I’m glad to announce here that David has completely finished the art for what will be issue or chapter one. Our next step is to shop it to a publisher. Wish us luck! I also recently finished first draft of what will be issue/ chapter 2. You can follow our progress at the Ballyhoo blog (which will be updated with new art soon) here: ballyhoocomic.wordpress.com
Although I was hella busy with Monster Hunters and other projects, I did freelance a few articles over the year. Rather than list them all, I’ll just list my favorite ones.
“Riverwest’s Ghost District,” Riverwest Currents, October 2014
“Milwaukee’s Pinball Wizards,” Shepherd Express, May 21, 2014
“Cream City Cabaret Gets Its Footing,” Shepherd Express, Nov. 25, 2014 (The talented Wendy Jean took the photo for that one.)
“Calamity Janes and the Fratney Street Band End Their Fantastic First Act,” Shepherd Express, Sept. 24, 2014
“Real-Life Superheroes: Inside the Secret Subculture of Costumed Crime-Fighters,” Fortean Times, May 2014. Cover story! Included an excerpt from my book and additional material I wrote on the RLSH subculture.
“Pretty Fly for a Daredevil Guy: the Return of the Human Fly,” Pop Mythology, Jan. 5, 2014. A different version of this article also appeared in the July 2014 issue of Fortean Times.
I continued to do promotional appearances for my first book, Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Superhero Movement (Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook) throughout the year. I made guest appearances at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, MKE Comicbook Meetup, Translator, Minneapolis Comic Con, McMillin Memorial Library in Wisconsin Rapids, Fantasticon, Milwaukee Zine Fest, the Museum of Wisconsin Art, and the Chicago Ghost Con. I got to see a lot of familiar faces and meet some great new friends, too. Lots of fun.
I think the most major event of the year for me will be the release of Monster Hunters in June. To tie in I am planning a one day Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, which will be held June 6 at the Milwaukee Irish Cultural and Heritage Center. Mark your calendar, it’s going to be a really fun day: milwaukeeparacon.wordpress.com
I also have a plethora of freelanced articles that I’ve finished or are currently working on that will be in print soon. I’ve got about seven articles I can think of off the top of my head that are happening between January and March. My New Year resolution is to blog here more often and post links to all articles I write throughout the year and also write more about upcoming events.
In 2015 I also have some other small projects I’m working on, there’s some brain-storming sessions to be had have, and I’m also pretty deep into what I think will be my third non-fiction book.
But that, my friends, is in the future. Happy New Year!
I really had fun this weekend. A lot of the time writing (for me, anyway) involves me being anti-social, staying at home at the desk. So when I have a weekend of getting to see friends, old and new, it is a hella cool time for me. My girlfriend Wendy (a talented photographer, who took the photos below– her website is HERE) and I hit the road and visited West Bend and Chicago for a couple of events I was invited to participate in.
Friday, I participated in the Museum Of Wisconsin Art‘s member show, which was superhero themed. I judged a costume contest along with Real Life Superhero The Watchman (one of the subjects of my book Heroes in the Night, available HERE) and fashion designer Miranda Kay Levy, who you might have seen on Project Runway. She asked me to help judge and you know when an acclaimed designer like Miranda asks me for my fashion opinions, we’re in for a rare situation. There were about 10 or 12 entries in the contest and they were all great, very creative.
I had some waves of nostalgia rolling in to town, as I was briefly a resident of West Bend in 1996. I finished my Senior year of high school there. More importantly, it’s where I met an incredibly unique group of individuals who became my friends. I think my life adventures really began in West Bend.
In addition to the costume contest, I tabled with Heroes in the Night, sold a few copies, and talked with a few people who were genuinely interested in what I was up to. People got to talk with The Watchman, who was there with two of his kids– Wonder Boy and Guardian Girl.
The next morning, we headed down to the Chicago Ghost Conference. Real Life Superhero Razorhawk (of Minneapolis) had been invited to do a panel on what being a RLSH is all about and he had Chicago RLSH Citizen Prime and Wraith as well as myself as guests. Attendance was low, but we didn’t let it get us down. I got to chat with a couple people I’ve met over the last year or two who will be featured in my next book, Monster Hunters (out in June 2015, you can pre-order HERE).
I also met a few new people involved with the field of paranormal investigation. I did an interview with second generation ghost hunter Alexandra Holzer, which will make for a great future article somewhere. I even got my photo taken with B movie host icon Svengoolie.
I am planning a one day Milwaukee Paranormal Conference for June 6 (see website HERE), so perhaps the best thing I got from the conference was taking a look firsthand at things I thought worked and things I thought did not.
A fun weekend hanging out with a lot of great people I’ve had the fortune of meeting, and in many cases, writing about.