My first Tea’s Weird Week column, “Parallax and Cthulhu Power Zones” was published almost a year ago on June 28, 2019. I started the column because I wanted to connect with readers, promote projects I’m working on (mostly books I’m writing), write about topics I’m interested in (some of which might be featured in future books), and to have a small weekly writing deadline.
In that first column I wrote a year ago, I talked about a book I had recently read (Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea by Christine Garwood) while finishing up some research on my upcoming book, American Madness. I also discussed how I had just learned about “Cthulhu Power Zones” (I’ll let you read the column on that one). Since then, I’ve written the column weekly (minus a couple weeks off in December for the holidays). Some of the topics have included ghost stories, Real Life-Superheroes, lots on conspiracy theory, quarantine journals, Internet hoaxes, CIA UFO files, as well as an occasional life reflection.
I collected all the columns I wrote in 2019 into an e-book: Tea’s Weird Week: 2019 Review which you can get for the low, low cost of $1.99 (or free on Kindle Unlimited): CLICK HERE
Here are my 5 favorite or most noteworthy columns from the last 12 months:
1.) Best working theory: “A Theory About Vampires, Zombies, Killer Clowns…and Donald J. Trump” (Sept. 5, 2019). A brief examination of politics and horror movies, this column got a nice boost when it was reprinted (in a slightly different form) in Fortean Times, the best magazine dedicated to all weird things.
2.) Scariest shit: “There are Two Dozen Members of QAnon Running for Congress” (Feb. 13, 2020). QAnon has been running candidates across several states. In February the number totaled about 24, but I’m sad to say that number has doubled. This column got a lot of reads and I followed up in another column “Trump Inspired QAnon Followers, Proud Boys, Gun Nuts, Racists, all Have 2020 Campaigns” (May 8, 2020).
3.) Fun stuff: “9 Music Conspiracies and Urban Legends”(Oct.10, 2019) I love hearing about music/Hollywood urban legends and talked about the classics in this column and a sequel: “Now That’s What I Call Music Conspiracy Vol.2” (Nov. 8, 2019). A spin-off, about the conspiracy theory genre of flat earth hip hop (or “flat hop”) “The Top 7 Flattest of the Flat Earth Hip Hop Songs” (Feb. 6, 2020) totally bombed though. “I watched like one minute before I had to turn it off,” one of my friends wrote, after watching one of the presented music videos. “I couldn’t get past the headline,” wrote another. Well, excuuuuuuuze me for my “flatsmacking!” 😉
4.) Most read/ second best working theory: “I got my own conspiracy theory, which is that the world is becoming 24 times more batshit crazy every day” (April 9, 2020). This column had the most views, including quite a few from across Europe. It featured bits on the QAnon “mole children” theory, 5G towers being burned over conspiracy theories, and a bit on the Wisconsin elections. This was during peak pandemic boredom, or maybe lots of people were googling “batshit crazy.”
5.) Tie between two columns: I really loved “Ask Tea Anything (Pandemic Edition)” (April 23, 2020), I think because I was lonely during the pandemic, so it was nice to interact with people even if it was just answering questions in a column. I also really loved the concept for “Freak Out Your Next Zoom Call With These Conspiracy Inspired Backgrounds” (June 12, 2020) where I just created some Zoom backgrounds based on well known conspiracy sites, like this one from Area 51:
Thank you for reading over the last year. Who knows what other weird stuff 2020 is going to throw at us (nervous laughter)– but I look forward to writing it up!
Next week: I’m taking a trip for 4th of July weekend, so I’ll be reporting live from the road.
It’s on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52486773-american-madness
“Tea Krulos has forged a fascinating collection of work by immersing himself in various sub-cultures that exist on the fringes of society.” —Cult of Weird
The third round of Tea’s Weird Week Trivia happened this last Saturday. Congrats to Tom and Andrew who each won a round and Jessica who won two.
I’ll be back this Saturday, April 18 with four more rounds– Andrew won the chance to pick a trivia topic and he chose “Hollywood urban legends” and other categories include Philip K. Dick, Zombies, and “Puppets that ain’t for kids.” Prizes will include books (authored by myself and others) and other weird swag. Tune in this Saturday, 5pm (central), on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/theTeaKrulos
Here’s the questions from last week if you didn’t get a chance to play. You can get a feel for the trivia and host your own trivia session with your roommate. Answer key is way at the bottom of the post. For this week, I am encouraging that trivia players to check out Lion’s Tooth, who have a great book/zine/comic subscription and are doing an Indiegogo for a brick and mortar store here:
Warm-up: Conspiracies in the News
Which of the following conspiracy news happened in the last two weeks?
A. A man derailed a train in LA trying to hit a hospital ship he believed was part of a conspiracy.
B. People believing 5G internet causes coronavirus destroyed at least 20 5G towers around the UK.
C. QAnon followers began talking about a theory that coronavirus is a cover up to rescue “mole children” living in tunnels under Central Park.
D. All of the above dammit.
Paranormal Reality TV Personalities
- This show host often searches for paranormal or cryptozoology topics. He came to Milwaukee to search for a treasure hidden in Lake Park. He ditched the search after a thunderstorm rolled in. He also searched for a similar treasure in Florida and helped a family find one in New Jersey. Points for name of host and show.
- The daughter of this pioneering ghost hunter has a show that premiered in October that reopens her father’s case files. A point for the name of the father and the show.
- Ghost Hunters had three official spin offs, a point for each one.
- This new show explores a notoriously weird and frightening ranch in Utah. What’s the name of the ranch?
- The very first episode of Ghost Adventures took Zak Bagans and company to which location?
A. Transallegheny Lunatic Asylum
B. Bobby Mackey’s Music World
C. Winchester Mystery House
D. Ohio State Reformatory
- At the end of March, a Dutch museum closed because of coronavirus was broken into. A painting titled “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884” was stolen. Which Dutch painter was the artist?
- In 2014 Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond left a performance when he was tazed and his 300 year old instrument was stolen. Bonus point if you guess anywhere of the price range of how much it’s worth.
- The largest art heist of all time took place in 1990. The two watchmen were duct-taped to chairs as thieves stole 13 works of art including ones by Rembrandt, Degas, and Manet. The case remains unsolved. Which city did it happen in?
B. New York
- In 1994 thieves stole a painting in 50 seconds from a museum in Oslo, Norway. The 1893 painting is considered to be the most famous piece of art created by a Norwegian. Another version of the painting was stolen in 2004. A point for the artist and painting name.
- The Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911 from the Louvre by an Italian man who kept it hidden in his apartment for 2 years. What did he say his motivation was:
A. He said the Mona Lisa’s mysterious smile made him believe that they were soul mates.
B. He believed the painting depicted his mother in a past life.
C. He believed it was his patriotic duty to return the painting to Italy.
D. He wanted to sell it to the Pope
1.) This new theory suggests that Jimi Hendrix didn’t die but changed identities and careers and became which actor?
2.) This classic story says that which blues singer got his guitar playing abilities by selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads?
3.) Paul is Dead is the theory that Paul McCartney died in a car crash and was replaced by a lookalike. Theorists say clues can be found on the front and back cover of which album? Bonus point for what year it came out.
4.) This singer that likes to party is accused of being a franchise of look alikes that perform different shows. Andrew WK
5.) This urban legend says that Marilyn Manson was a child actor on which show?
Dystopian Novel or White House Pandemic Press Conference?
This round sponsored by the Apocalypse Blog Book Club
Identify if this quote is from a novel (and a bonus point if you name the novel) or from Trump at a coronavirus press conference.
1.) “My mother once told me that no woman is naked when she comes equipped with a bad mood and a steady glare.”
2.) “Stay inside and let’s win this and let’s get our country as soon as we can. I think it’s going to be sooner than people think. Things are going really well.”
3.) “Better never means better for everyone..it always means worse for some.”
4.) “That’s all anybody can do right now. Live. Hold out. Survive. I don’t know whether good times are coming back again. But I know that won’t matter if we don’t survive these times.”
5.) “There will be a lot of death, unfortunately, but a lot less death than if this wasn’t done. But there will be death.
My upcoming book American Madness features a journey through conspiracy culture. It’s out August 25, 2020 from Feral House. To pre-order: CLICK HERE
It’s on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52486773-american-madness
“Having just returned from the grocery store during an official pandemic, I’m reminded to highly recommend Apocalypse Any Day Now, from Tea Krulos, who went way down the doomsday prepper rabbit hole. Fun and unfortunately highly relevant. Do it.” — Brent Gohde, Cedar Block/ Science Strikes Back
Warm up: D. All of the above dammit. Paranormal Personalities: 1. Josh Gates/ Expedition Unknown 2. Hans Holzer/ The Holzer Files 3. Ghost Hunters International, Ghost Hunters Academy, UFO Hunters. 4. Skinwalker Ranch 5. B. Bobby Mackey’s Music World
Art Heists: 1. Vincent Van Gogh 2. Stradivarius violin valued at 5 to 6 million dollars 3. C. Boston 4. Edvard Munch, The Scream 5. C. He believed it was his patriotic duty to return the painting to Italy.
Urban Legends: 1. Morgan Freeman 2. Robert Johnson 3. Abbey Road, 1969 4. Andrew WK 5. The Wonder Years.
Dystopian Novel or White House Pandemic Press Conference? 1. Feed, Mira Grant 2. Trump 3. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood 4. Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler 5. Trump.
November is Conspiracy Month at Tea’s Weird Week. Shit is about to get real weird, real fast.
Last month I did a column titled “9 Music Conspiracies and Urban Legends,” where I wrote about some classics like Paul McCartney being dead, Elvis (and Tupac) being alive, the 27 Club, and more. There were some stories that didn’t make round one, so I thought I’d start “Conspiracy Month” with a sequel column. To preserve this list, I’m picking up numbering where I left off with number 10.
(10.) Ace of Base is Secretly a Nazi Band
I laughed when I heard this one. There’s no way the Swedish sugary pop of Ace of Base, omnipresent in the 90s, could be some white power message in disguise, right? But as it turns out, there’s a spot of truth in here.
It comes down to one of the band members, Ulf Ekberg, being in a band called Commit Suiside, a Gothenburg white power band that was around from 1983-86. Vice wrote a story on it here: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/rm35nr/ace-of-bases-secret-nazi-past
Ekberg has tried to spin his involvement, saying he wasn’t part of recordings where extremely racist lyrics were recorded but he also expressed this:
“I told everyone I really regret what I did. I’ve closed that book. I don’t want to even talk about it, that time does not exist in me any more. I closed it and I threw the book away in 1987. I took the experience from it, I learned from it. But that life is not me. It’s somebody else.”
Did Ekberg’s Ace bandmates see “the sign” of this troubled past before they hired him to the Base? That’s unknown.
(11.) A Couple Things About Marilyn Manson
I heard both of these urban legends while in high school (or shortly after). I don’t have time right now, but I’d love to look into how urban legends like this spread before the Internet. Radio shows? Written publications? Just a whisper campaign that spread across the country? Because these didn’t originate in the halls of my high school. Anyway, the first Marilyn Manson myth is that he is actually the child actor who played the character of Paul Pfeiffer on the 80s sitcom The Wonder Years. Paul was main character Kevin (Fred Savage)’s geeky sidekick. The actor was actually Josh Saviano, not Brian Warner (aka Marilyn Manson).
The other myth was that Marilyn Manson had removed one of his bottom ribs so that he could enjoy auto-fellatio. There are also myths that Cher and several other celebrities have gotten ribs removed to have a slimmer waist. Snopes wrote about it here: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/getting-waisted/
(12.) Backmasking Satanic Panic
This is another one I heard in high school and was quite intrigued with. Certain records are said to have secret messages if you play the record backward. A classic example being The Beatles song “Revolution #9,” which if played backward is supposed to say “turn me on, dead man.”
In the great moral Satanic Panic of the 1980s and early 90s, the hand of Satan was seen everywhere– Dungeons & Dragons, comic books, and especially heavy metal. Hidden Satanic messages heard in rock and heavy metal were prolific. (Some bands later did put these hidden messages in, inspired by the hype). Led Zepplin was said to have an ode to Satan in “Stairway to Heaven” while the Judas Priest song “Better By You, Better Than Me,” was said to inspire suicide attempts. “You know Satan holds the keys to the lock,” is heard when you play the Cheap Trick song “Gonna Raise Hell” backward and “See you in hell!” is heard in the Grim Reaper song “Final Scream.”
As I mentioned, some later examples were probably added deliberately by bands after backmasking was established as a thing. Pareidolia is the wonderful thing where your brain sees faces, shapes, and items in woodgrains, architecture, pictures of fog, etc. It’s what’s happening when a lot of people think they have a picture of a ghost or a Bigfoot lurking in the woods. I’m not sure what the audio equivalent is, but I think that’s what’s going on with some of these.
VH1 has some clips of backmasking you can listen to here: http://www.vh1.com/news/52612/15-songs-satanic-backwards-messages/
(13.) The Killer Jerry Lee Lewis
Was Jerry Lee Lewis, nicknamed the Killer (for his throttling of the piano) actually guilty of murder? Lewis has been married seven times (so far). He had a famous controversy when he married his third wife, who was his 13-year-old first cousin, once removed in 1957. His 5th wife, Shawn Stephens, was found dead under mysterious circumstances in 1983. The couple had been married just 77 days.
It looked like there was blood underneath Shawn’s fingernails, bruises on her body, and there were scrapes on Lewis’s hands. There was blood all around the house. Shawn had called her mom the night before saying she wanted to leave Lewis, but he wouldn’t let her. Lewis was abusing alcohol and speed. Despite all of the pieces of evidence, Shawn’s death was dismissed as “an accident.” Did The Killer get away with murder? Tea’s Weird Week is not a court of law, but it looks likely.
For more, including how local law enforcement probably helped the case go away, I recommend listening to the Disgraceland podcast episode titled “Jerry Lee Lewis: The Killer and Getting Away with Murder.” It talks about other Jerry Lee Lewis myths including tales that he sold his soul, was a vampire that fought in the Civil War, and the time he drove his car into Graceland’s gates, trying to assassinate Elvis.
(14.) The Andrew W.K. Factory
I mentioned this in the last column I wrote when I mentioned celebrities being replaced by doppelgangers, but wanted to explore a bit further. The Andrew W.K. conspiracy alleges that Andrew is not a singular person, but a sort of Mall Santa persona that is franchised out to play different shows.
Her’es Andrew addressing his frustration with the conspiracy in a Sept. 2017 interview with Ashley Naftule of the Phoenix New Times:
This idea that I don’t exist … I really don’t know what to think of it. There are times where I’ve gotten really angry about it, where I’ve been really frustrated by it, and there are times where I just wish I could control what other people think of me. But there’s nothing I can do to control what other people think. There are other times where I think I can control that perception if I work really hard, but then I see other performers have similar accusations that there are multiple versions of them too …
It’s just this archetypal myth that people go through with all sorts of people. But it does seem to be specifically about music figures. I’ve never heard anyone say there’s more than one Michael Jordan. But with Paul McCartney and Avril Lavigne or Taylor Swift or me – I don’t know why that is. Nobody says, “Oh, there’s more than one Bradley Cooper.”
He’s right, though I can think of a couple non-musician doppelganger conspiracies. As I mentioned in my last column, See You On The Other Side did a doppelganger episode (“Avril is Dead“) where they addressed the conspiracy that the Ultimate Warrior was replaced by the WWF. There’s also a theory that a sick Hillary Clinton was replaced by longtime Hillary impersonator Teresa Barnswell.
Anyway, it is my belief that there is only one Andrew W.K. out there– no one else can party that hard.
(15.) The Curse of Jelly Roll Morton
I read this classic story in a comic by Robert Crumb, “The Voodoo Curse of Jelly Roll Morton,” originally published in Raw vol.1 no.7 in 1985. I read it in The Complete Crumb Comics Vol.16 (2002). The comic was based on an interview jazz great “Jelly Roll” Morton gave in 1938. Morton attributed his success to using hoodoo in New Orleans, but also told about how the hoodoo boomeranged back to him in Brooklyn when a co-worker in the music industry cursed him.
As business began to decline, Morton suspected a curse and found a mysterious powder hidden under the rug near the entryway of his office. He saw a mystic Madame Elise who told him to take a bath with some special oils and to burn all his clothes in a bonfire. But he continued to lose work and felt he never broke the curse.
#ClownWatch2019: September, 25, 2019: Fort Madison, Iowa: Continuing reporting on frightening clown sightings, police gave chase in Fort Madison back on September 25 after receiving a report of a “menacing clown.” The clown jumped a fence and escaped capture.
October 29, 2019: Not a clown mask, but worth mentioning. Today reports on an Indiana man, Evan Zimmerman, who likes to dress as Mike Meyers from Halloween and sneak onto people’s property:
“I’ll stand in random people’s yards and look at them through the window until they notice me standing there,” Evan revealed. “I carry a fake butcher knife.”
Evan, I’m not sure you thought this hobby through.
Next week: I’ll be on the road and reporting from a…uh…very interesting location.