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, Season 3 starts today! Our previous two seasons were 13 episodes long, this time we’re doing ten episodes (but also a couple special episodes, like a holiday “Radio Krampus” special). This is our first autumnal season, so we got plenty to do and talk about– ghosts and monsters and much more. We’ll be recording live at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, September 24-26 and if you’re in the area hope to see you there: Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Returns Sept. 24-26, 2021 | Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (milwaukeeparacon.com)
We’re kicking things off this episode with a talk with Lyle Blackburn, a Texan author, musician, speaker, and narrator of documentary films for Small Town Monsters, a great independent production company that has created a series of documentaries on cryptozoology and other paranormal cases. Oh, and he’s also started his own line of handcrafted hot Monster Sauce!
Lyle has specialized in writing about cryptid cases from the South, documented in his books like Lizard Man: the True Story of the Bishopville Monster, Sinister Swamps: Monsters and Mysteries from the Mire, and The Beast of Boggy Creek: The True Story of the Fouke Monster, among others. That last title, about a Bigfoot-like creature stalking the Boggy Creek area of Arkansas, led Lyle to his first collaboration with Small Town Monsters. He’s since narrated several of their documentaries, include their new film, Skinwalker: Howl of the Rougarou. It’s out September 14. Here’s a trailer for the film:
As the trailer mentioned, the Rougarou is a tale of Cajun folklore from Louisiana. The word is derived from loup garou, the French word for “werewolf.” It’s said a curse can be placed on you that will transform you into a Rougarou under the moonlight in the Louisiana bayous. Some people have even claimed to have encountered this terrifying wolf creature.
Lyle told us more about the Rougarou legend, his work on the documentary, and the low down on some of the other projects he’s got going on, and let us know about a new destination on the Tea’s Weird Week bucketlist– the Rougarou Fest, which happens every fall (Oct. 22-24 this year) in Houma, Louisiana. It featues live music, delicious Cajun-style food, and they crown a Rougarou Queen– Oooooowooooo!
This episode also features me and Heidi Erickson trying to figure out this week’s weird news– people horsing around with Ivermectin, Christians Against Dinosaurs (“Big Paleo,” LOL), demons sending text messages, an expensive porno stash, and more. Plus original music by Android138, a new trivia question from Miss Information, and we close out with a track from Lyle’s hellbilly band, Ghoultown, “Night of No Tomorrows,” off their latest album, The Curse of El Dorado.
Tea’s Weird Week, S3 Ep01: “What the Rougarou Do,” Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep01: What the Rougarou Do (podbean.com)
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Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)
Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)
In 2015 I was really hyped about the release of my second book, Monster Hunters: On the Trail with Ghost Hunters, Bigfooters, Ufologists, and Other Paranormal Investigators (Chicago Review Press). Writing the book had been a blast– I had travelled around to meet investigators and go on Lake Monster and Bigfoot expeditions, went to a UFO conference, and spent several long nights trying to detect evidence of ghosts, among other adventures.
As I was thinking of book promotion, I had this light bulb moment– why not create an event that would showcase my work, fill a niche, and be hella fun? I could invite some of the people I had met while working on the book as guest speakers! I knew a ton of cool artists that could be vendors! I found a venue– the Irish Heritage and Cultural Center, located in an old (probably haunted) church that didn’t cost an insane amount to rent out. I was all in.
I started to assemble a line-up of speakers and turned to people I had met in my research like Noah Leigh (founder of the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee) and Allison Jornlin (founder of American Ghost Walks) for suggestions on potential guest speakers. We had a good line-up of speakers on cryptozoology as well as ghost experts– but I wanted some UFO talks. Two of the suggestions were Donald R. Schmitt and Mark O’ Connell.
While doing research for Monster Hunters, I had encountered Schmitt– I had seen him give a talk at the International UFO Congress in Arizona and realized I had probably read one of his books about the Roswell UFO crash in the 90s– as a teen I had been on a kick reading about UFOs, as teens tend to do. You might call Don “The Roswell Guy” as he’s written several books on the subject. I had no idea Schmitt was from Wisconsin and thought, wow, that’s cool, so I contacted him and he agreed to give a talk about Roswell.
I was also told that Wisconsin was home (at the time) to a writer named Mark O’ Connell, who had penned scripts for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine and was working on a biography of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, astronomer and pioneer of UFO studies. I thought, wow, that’s also cool, and I contacted him and he agreed to give a presentation on Wisconsin UFO cases. So now I had a great conference lineup of ghost researchers, Bigfooters, a Goatman expert, a panel that I was going to moderate, and the UFO talks and I started to post info about them online.
I got a polite email from Mark saying that he saw that Don was going to be at the event and that he did not really get along with him, so he wanted to prevent an awkward situation– for example putting them on a panel together. I didn’t find this to be too unusual– while working on Monster Hunters I had encountered many paranormal beefs. I spoke to a member of a ghost investigation group almost entirely composed of ex-members of a different group. I learned about Bigfooters who hated each other with a big, hairy passion. There are many rivalries in all the paranormal fields. I responded to Mark and told him that they would not cross paths. I still don’t know exactly what their dispute was about, but it had something to do with the J. Allen Hynek research (I think, don’t quote me on it).
The day of the conference was exhilarating and all kind of a blur. I was (at times literally) running around making sure things were running smoothly. We had a good crowd. There had not been any sort of paranormal themed conference in Milwaukee for over ten years and we got a good reception. Don was the last speaker of the day, and by this point I could take a breath and grab a beer (this is Wisconsin, where people drink anywhere and everywhere and the Irish Center’s bar was busy all day). I walked into the main room of the Irish Center to see how Don’s talk was going over. I looked up at the second floor balcony of the room, and noticed that Mark and his wife were sitting there, watching Don. Well, well, I thought. Keep your friends close but your enemies closer. Or something like that.
The after party was at Shaker’s Cigar Bar (probably haunted) and I sat down and had a drink with Mike Huberty, Allison Jornlin’s brother and organizer of American Ghost Walks. Mike had really saved my ass that day, as I am all thumbs with technology, but he is a mix-master, so he got things up and running on the main stage. We somehow got on the topic of Don and Mark and Mike made the joke that they should get up on stage and debate each other. We laughed about it.
Inspired by the success of the 2015 event I decided to do the conference again and to GO BIG in 2016. I’m not ashamed now to say that I got in over my head. Too big, too fast. I decided to do a 2-day event, switching the location to facilities at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. There was so much going on– 2 speaker rooms, a workshop room, a vendor floor, a livestreamed media table, a paranormal sound booth, there were guests like Loren Coleman and Katrina Weidman being flown in, a VIP dinner party, a film screening session. I knew the enormity of the task and began planning in September 2015, a bit over a year from the October 2016 event.
The 2016 conference took over my life, I lost a shit ton of money that I didn’t have, and afterward I sank into a depression that stretched through the rest of that fall and winter. But I’m getting off track. I started lining up guests and emailed Don about returning as a guest speaker. His reply was quite intriguing and included this sentence: “I would be willing if it could also include a debate between me and Mark O’ Connell over Roswell.”
Of course I was into the idea. Conference programming can sometimes be dry and dull, so this was an exciting proposal. I also really believe that debate is a valuable skill and that society would be better off if more people learned how to think critically and present arguments. I emailed Mark and he said he was “very interested” as long as acceptable terms were established. Game on! Now I just needed to figure out how to properly run a debate.
After some searching I found David Henning, Director of Debate and Forensics at Lakeland College in Plymouth, Wisconsin. His credentials were impeccable and he was not involved at all in the world of paranormal research and as such was an impartial moderator.
David received, as many innocent people have over the years, a very strange email from me requesting help. I was thrilled when he replied that he was willing to establish debate rules and moderate. David gave me a couple of debate formats that might work and we agreed on one that would total 60 minutes with an additional 15 minutes for questions from the audience. Each speaker would have a 3-minute opening statement, followed by six topic questions with each speaker given 2-3 minutes response and alternating debaters given a 1 minute rebuttal.
David explained to me that “this format forces debaters to focus on word economy and clear, concise issue analysis.” (gavel cracks) Sounds good to me. The questions were to be shared ahead of time so the debaters could prepare. I’ve done a lot of non-fiction writing, everything from short blurbs to books, and a key ingredient is usually asking the right people the right questions, so I racked my brain on topics. But I had time, after discussion with all parties we determined it would fair to give the debaters questions one month before the debate to prepare. I put the debate aside and worked on the hundreds of other details of the conference that needed to be attended to.
Fast forward to September 2016, a month before the conference. I assemble the questions, like “Is it time for UFOlogy to move on from the Roswell event?” and “What impact has the Roswell Slides had on UFOlogy? Has it damaged credibility in the UFO field?” To explain that last question, Don had been involved in revealing photos that had been found on slides in a case that had been sitting in an attic for decades. One appeared to show an extra-terrestrial corpse, and the photo date was 1947, the same years as the alleged Roswell crash. Upon being revealed, researchers were able to deblur a placard in the image and discovered that the photo was of the mummified remains of a child that were on display at a museum.
Don replied that he felt the questions were “slanted” against him. I replied that I was glad to talk to him about suggestions on changes to the wording, but he replied “Let’s go with what you have. No problems.” At this point I didn’t have time to ask twice– I was being bombarded with questions about the conference day and night.
My next message from Don said that in lieu of his 3-minute opening statement, he wants to show a video instead. This new twist was unusual, so I turned to David Henning for his opinion– he was the expert after all. David was inclined to reject the video idea entirely, but after some discussion was agreeable to it if all parties involved can view the video. Don wasn’t happy. When I told him David’s determination, he replied:
“Why don’t I send you all my answers as well? Is this a debate or a scripted reality show? I have participated in many debates through the years and have never been asked to provide my playbook before the game.”
This made me wonder what the hell does he have on video that was so secretive and important? Did he hire a private eye to tail Mark and capture some salacious indiscretion? Did he have actual film of the Roswell aliens? In any case, I had a sinking feeling that the debate was probably off.
After several days of back and forth, Don relented and sent me his video opening statement. I paused what I was working on to check out the video and it was… a clip from a George Carlin stand-up routine?! One of the classics where Carlin is angry and speaking out against the club we’re not a part of– the corporations, the fucking government. I use the F-bomb here because George uses a variation of it six times in this clip, but in the video Don gives me all the profanities are muted out. (Remember that detail.) You can see the exact clip right here (and yes I did title it “George Carlin Reveals the Secret Plot to Cover Up the Roswell UFO Crash.”)
I was quite baffled. This is what all the drama was about? I guess the video message was that “they” were covering up Roswell and that Mark was complicit in it? I can only speculate, but I think Don thought if he could surprise everyone with this clip that Carlin’s ranting would throw Mark off, unnerving him. Maybe in the same way chess master Bobby Fisher would try to throw his stoic Russian opponents off by demanding the room be rearranged, the lighting changed, and by making erratic movements on the chessboard.
As moderator, David was not happy with this twist as he thought Don was just trying to turn the debate into a “farce.” Mark was puzzled, but ok with the video, except for his concern that Don would swap the video out at the last second with something else and wondered if we had a killswitch in the event this happened. I assured him that we would be playing the video Don sent and wouldn’t allow him to switch it out.
As it turns out, Mark’s suspicion wasn’t unfounded. Right before the debate, Don approached Mike Huberty, who once again was helping us with A/V stuff, and handed him a jumpdrive, asking him to play the video on it as his opening statement. Mike knew something was up, and already had the original video cued up and ready to go, so he just played that. Afterward, Mike handed me the jumpdrive and explained what happened. The evidence sat in my pocket over the hectic weekend, but when it was all over, I popped the drive into my laptop to see what Don had intended to swap his ringer with. And it was…the exact same video, uncensored. It looked like Don’s secret plan was to try to rattle Mark with colorful fucking language.
The debate itself went well, I thought. After the strange video open, Mark and Don were both well-spoken, interesting, and followed David’s format, ceding to his gavel when time was up. After answering questions submitted by the audience, they shook hands and parted ways.
But you can make the determination of who had a better argument for yourself. Here’s an audio recording of the entire debate. It starts right after the two debaters were introduced: Tea‘s Weird Week Special: The Roswell Debate, Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, 2016 (podbean.com)
It took me 5 years to write about this, I think, because I needed some distance from it. Personally, 2016 was a pretty bad, painful year for me. The whole conference was stressful, and trying to negotiate the Roswell Debate was part of that stress. I’m having a really good year in 2021, so I think that now I can reflect. Here’s my thoughts on the Roswell Debate years later…what a goddamn strange thing that was, from beginning to end! But I’m so glad it happened. It was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a debate between two guys who have made really interesting writing careers related to the topic of UFOs, so thank you Don and Mark for participating, and to David for answering my weird invitation to moderate. I will always remember it, fondly now, as a wild and crazy chapter of my life.
Post-script: Mark O’Connell’s book, The Close Encounters Man: How One Man Made the World Believe in UFOs came out in 2017. Donald Schmitt’s latest title in Roswell: The Ultimate Cold Case (co-authored with Thomas J. Carey).
The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference is happening Sept. 24-26 at various locations. There are no debates planned this year. More info can be found here: Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Returns Sept. 24-26, 2021 | Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (milwaukeeparacon.com)
The Tea’s Weird Week podcast returns with Season 3 next week! We’re kicking things off with an interview with Lyle Blackburn– author, musician, lecturer and narrator of the new documentary Skinwalker: Howl of the Rougarou.
Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)
Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)
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:
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.