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Tea’s Weird Week: Introducing the #TrumpConspiracyCounter

TeaWeirdWeek

On Tuesday, I stood in line and shuffled into the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena to witness a Trump rally. I like to have experiences outside of my comfort zone to try to figure out what this weird world is all about. This one was pretty intense– imagine a stadium of ten thousand people screaming, totally high on hatred. I wrote about just a few WTF moments at the rally for the Shepherd Express in an article titled “The Top Ten Wildest Lines from Last Night’s Trump Rally in Milwaukee.”

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This was my view at the Trump rally.

I had another reason for attending– this year I’m closely monitoring Trump’s promotion of conspiracy theories and have been working on a new feature of my writing here. I’ll end some “Tea’s Weird Week” columns with a tally called the #TrumpConspiracyCounter.

It’s a fact, of course, that Donald J. Trump is a conspiracy theorist, sometimes legitimately, sometimes opportunistically. This is one of the reasons I believe that my upcoming book American Madness is very timely.

To give you a quick rundown of Trump’s greatest conspiracy hits so far: he was the person with the biggest platform to promote Birtherism, the racist conspiracy that suggested Obama was born in Africa and forged his Hawaiian birth certificate; that there was massive voter fraud in California that led to Hillary winning the popular vote; he kicked off his presidency by saying a media conspiracy had underreported his inauguration size; climate change is a “Chinese hoax”; the sound of wind turbines “causes cancer”; Ted Cruz’s father was part of the conspiracy to kill JFK; vaccines cause autism; 79-year-old Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was possibly murdered; there is a liberal “War on Christmas” (and last year mentioned a sequel “War on Thanksgiving”); he’s also given many endorsements of personnel from InfoWars and other conspiracy theorists.

And that’s just off the top of my head. Why is this dangerous? Trump is in the highest position of authority, he has 72 million Twitter followers and a cult-like population that accepts his every word as fact.

Every time Trump speaks or tweets something that is a conspiracy or shares from a known conspiracy theorists this year, it’ll be added to the #TrumpConspiracyCounter. I can only take so much Trump talk, so if you notice his promotion of conspiracy, please do help me out by commenting on the blog here or e-mailing me at: teakrulos@gmail.com.

To be clear, this is only tracking claims or associations that have an element of conspiracy to them. To see a tracking of straight-up lies and deceptions, you can look at CNN’s collection of 15, 413 (and counting) gumballs.

Here’s where we are 16 days into the year.

#Trumpconspiracycounter2020
1.) On January 2, Trump tweeted: “Their partisan Witch Hunt is hurting our Country do [sic] badly, & only bringing more division than ever!” It’s a term he tweeted out 11 times in December 2019 alone. In a rambling letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on December 17, 2019, regarding the vote on impeachment, Trump says he is being treated unfairly and that “more due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.”

At least 25 people were hung, pressed to death, or died in jail as a result of the Salem witch trials. Trump mentioned “witch trials” in tweets January 6, 12, and 13, to the press on January 7, and at rallies Jan 9 and 14.

I think this is a good place to start with the #TrumpConspiracyCounter. Note that Trump’s daily language is steeped in terms like “fake news,” a supposed media conspiracy perpetrated against him by CNN, NBC, the “Failing New York Times,” and the Washington Post, all of whom he refers to as “the enemy of the people.”  Investigations into him are a “witch hunt” and equivalent to a “lynching.” All of this normalizes conspiracy ideas and the language surrounding it.

I was originally going to catalog ever time Trump says “witch hunt” on the counter, but his volume of using that and related terms ( “hoax,” “scam,” etc.) is too much. We’ll count this as number one and then move on.

2.) January 3: Trump retweets Alt-Right troll and conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec, a correspondent of One America News Network. Posobiec has been a frequent InfoWars guest and promoter of Pizzagate, among other theories. The retweet was just a commendation of Trump’s killing General Soleimani, but the act of retweeting Posobiec is enough to get on the #TrumpConspiracyCounter.

3.) January 14: Back to the Milwaukee rally. I was wondering if he might leave some conspiracy gem, and sure enough, he brought back his old claim that Obama is guilty of “wiretapping” Trump Tower or in some other way spying on him, sometimes suggesting the FBI was part of “Spygate” as the conspiracy is known (there is no evidence of the theory). Here’s something I wrote for the Shepherd Express article but cut because of length:

“Barack Hussein Obama,” Trump told the booing crowd, “which [sic] administration loves spying on people’s campaigns. By the way, by the way, could you imagine if it was the other way and I spied on his campaign? What would these fake news people be doing?” Trump said, gesturing to the media in the back of the room.

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With my book American Madness out this year, it’ll be interesting to see how many clicks the counter racks up by the book release date (Aug.25 2020). We’re at 3 now. What do you guess the number will be?


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Pre-order my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (August 2020, Feral House)

Read all my columns from last year collected in Tea’s Weird Week: 2019 Review ($1.99/ free on Kindle Unlimited)

Follow me: Facebook//Twitter//Instagram

 

 

“Journalist Tea Krulos has made a curious and enlightening career out of examining groups of people with odd beliefs.” — Skeptical Inquirer

Tea’s Weird Week: Winter Reading List

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I read 6 out of 8 books on my Fall reading list, 3 fiction, 3 non-fiction. I’m glad to say they were all good choices. I recommend:
Fiction:
Someday Jennifer by Risto Pakarinen. This was an excellent novel that is themed on nostalgia and the desire to go back in time to get our lives right. As an 80s kid, I loved all the 80s references. Someday Jennifer is a fun read– great work, Risto!
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I wanted to read this book for years and I did and it was great.
Feed by Mira Grant. This was the Apocalypse Blog Book Club fall selection. I enjoyed it– a good spin on the old zombie story, with a media theme I found interesting.

Non-fiction:
Bitten by Kris Newby. Explores the theory that the government manufactured Lyme Disease as part of a biological weapon program. Disturbing and fascinating.
Good Time Party Girl by Helen Cromwell with Robert Dougherty. An entertaining autobiography (and a vivid history) by “Dirty Helen,” who lived an adventurous life and worked as a madame and speakeasy operator.
The Enemy of the People by Jim Acosta. An account by Trump’s most detested “fake news” reporter from CNN who writes about his struggle as a White House reporter. A great insider perspective.

Winter is, of course, a great time to read here in the Midwest, where the weather is often cold and gloomy. Here’s what I got on my list so far.

(1) A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.

This was the winter selection for the Apocalypse Blog Book Club. I know nothing about it (other than it is hopefully dystopian themed) but I’m looking forward to get into it and discuss it with the club.

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(2) Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson by Bruce Conforth and Dean Wardlow

One of my publishers (Chicago Review Press) put this out recently. I wrote a brief bit on Robert Johnson myths in a “Tea’s Weird Week” column here a few months ago and wanted to read more on it.

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(3) The Lake Michigan Mothman: High Strangeness in the Midwest by Tobias Wayland

New book on the Lake Michigan Mothman phenomenon from the Singular Fortean Society, who have been referenced in this column several times. Congrats, Tobias, looking forward to reading it!

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(4) The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

This one got bumped from my fall reading list, I just didn’t get around to it, but it’ll make great winter reading. This book is the second in a fantasy series by Wisconsinite Patrick Rothfuss.

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(5) Sleep Paralysis: A Guide to Hypnagogic Visions and Visitors of the Night by Ryan Hurd

I’m just starting to work on a fiction novel, a horror story, and this book is a little background research.

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Pre-order my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (August 2020, Feral House)

Read all my columns from last year collected in Tea’s Weird Week: 2019 Review ($1.99/ free on Kindle Unlimited)

Follow me: Facebook//Twitter//Instagram

 

 

“Journalist Tea Krulos has made a curious and enlightening career out of examining groups of people with odd beliefs.” — Skeptical Inquirer

Tea’s Weird Week: Have a Happy Murder Holiday With Kevin Spacey

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Conspiracy theory doesn’t take a holiday. I learned that while on Christmas break. I spent a couple days in pajamas, watching TV, reading, and surfing the net. It was good– I needed a few days off, especially from all this conspiracy stuff. Time to reset. But then, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a headline titled “Is Kevin Spacey straight-up murdering his accusers?

Whuuuuut? I grabbed some chocolate-peppermint cookies and settled in, eager to learn more.

I’ve enjoyed Kevin Spacey’s career, especially films like The Usual Suspects, Seven, Leaving Las Vegas, American Beauty, and 21. Most recently, I’ve enjoyed his portrayal of ruthless politician Frank Underwood on House of Cards, though I think I fell off somewhere around season 4. Bravo! Here’s two Oscars, a Tony, and a Golden Globe, Kevin Spacey.

Then 2017 happened. Let me lead you through what went down next so you can see this conspiracy theory unfold.

October 2017: Actor Anthony Rapp, followed by over 15 other men (and then 30 plus people), accuse Spacey of sexual harassment and assault. Spacey’s career begins to implode from the allegations– Netflix removes him from House of Cards and shelves his film Gore. His role in All the Money in the World is reshot with Christopher Plummer.

Christmas Eve 2018: A little over a year later, Spacey records a holiday video message titled “Let Me Be Frank,” which he delivers as Frank Underwood, his House of Cards character. If you haven’t seen the show, by the way, Underwood is a politician who sabotages and even murders people who stand in his way. He pushes a journalist in front of a subway train and also kills an inebriated politician and makes it look like a suicide.  And that’s just what I remember from the first few seasons.

In this video, Spacey (as Underwood), is wearing a Santa Claus print apron, casually sips hot cocoa and says lines like:

“We’re not done, no matter what anyone says.” and “You wouldn’t rush to judgment without facts, would you? Did you?”

February 2019: Linda Culkin dies. She was charged with sending Spacey and his associates bomb and anthrax threats in 2009 and 2011 and was sentenced to prison and probation time in 2014. Culkin died Feb. 25, 2019, after she was hit by a car. The driver was not charged as she was walking against a red light. Culkin was a nursing assistant and says her actions were inspired after a patient told her that they were “attacked” by Spacey.

October 2019: An anonymous Spacey accuser who was a massage therapist dies of cancer. The accuser filed suit against Spacey in September 2018, alleging the actor had tried to kiss him and forced him to grab his genitals in 2016. The lawsuit against Spacey was dropped because of the accuser’s death.

Christmas Eve 2019: Like a calendar inspired serial killer, Spacey returned one year later with another cryptic holiday video message. This time he was in front of a fireplace, wearing a Christmas-ey sweater, again in character as Frank Underwood.  Titled “KTWK” (“kill them with kindness”) the video starts with Kevin Spacey stoking the fire. But as he turns around, we soon realize this is Frank Underwood.  “You didn’t really think I was going to miss an opportunity to wish you Merry Christmas, did you?” He says in Underwood’s southern twang. [Cut to me chewing a cookie and nervously looking around my living room.]

And he went on to deliver this holiday cheer…

“As we walk into 2020, I want to cast my vote for more good in this world. Ah yes, I know what you’re thinking (stokes fire)… can he be serious? I’m dead serious. And it’s not that hard, trust me. The next time someone does something you don’t like, you can go on the attack. But you can also hold your fire and do the unexpected. You can (dramatic pause) kill them with kindness.

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Be careful, he can see through your screen directly at you.

Christmas Day 2019: The next day Ari Behn, a Norwegian author who says that Spacey once grabbed him “by the balls” while at an event together, dies by suicide.

I enjoy hearing about weird stuff and conspiracy, but I’m also a skeptic. Being skeptical of what you see and hear via the Internet is possibly more important now than it ever has been. We are in desperate need of media literacy education.

The hyped “three Spacey accusers died this year” is a good story without any context. But on closer look, it doesn’t make sense. The Culkin case was resolved in 2015, ending in jail time for her. The anonymous accuser died of cancer, are we supposed to believe that Spacey somehow caused cancer or covered up the cause of death? Behn briefly mentioned his “#MeToo moment” in a radio interview, not in court.

Why would 2 out of 3 Spacey targets be people who don’t have any litigation towards him? Why would he murder them instead of the 30-some people who are suing him?

That being said, Spacey is being pretty creepy with his weird holiday videos, which he’s making to– I don’t know– intimidate people? Distract attention from his cases with strange behavior? Is he just being angry weird? Maybe he’s having a breakdown and morphing into Frank Underwood? I’m sure we’ll get another clue next Christmas (if he isn’t in prison).

The video is below–watch at your own risk. Oh, and by the way, thanks for reading the first “Tea’s Weird Week” of 2020! I’m dead serious.

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If you like conspiracy, pre-order my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (August 2020, Feral House)

Read all my columns from last year collected in Tea’s Weird Week: 2019 Review ($1.99/ free on Kindle Unlimited)

Follow me on: Facebook//Twitter//Instagram

Tea’s Weird Week: 2019 Review e-book

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Tea’s Weird Week: 2019 Review

A collection of the “Tea’s Weird Week” column from author Tea Krulos which shares his research, adventures, and stories from his personal life. Krulos writes about his favorite topics– the paranormal, bizarre subcultures, conspiracy theory, folklore, and more. Krulos shares stories from his youth, books he’s reading, as well as encounters with Flat Earthers, Krampus, Real Life Superheroes, Mad Max fans, Transhumanists, and other interesting people.

This collection contains all 26 “Tea’s Weird Week” columns from 2019 as well as 4 bonus articles he freelanced for other publications. Make your week a little weirder with this funny and informative round up of Krulos’s life and times.

Available on Kindle for $1.99/ free on Kindle Unimited: CLICK HERE

On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49238699-tea-s-weird-week

Tea’s Weird Week: Happy Holidays!

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Wow, what a year! I really pushed it to the limits this year. I took on too much, honestly, but I got it all done and no major disasters. It was a year of tackling major projects. As a writer, I freelanced for publications like the Shepherd Express, Milwaukee Record, and Scandinavian Traveler. I started this column in late June and got the ball rolling, writing a column every week, no matter how busy I was. One of the columns got reprinted in Fortean Times. But the most major thing of the year was finishing two manuscripts– my major work American Madness (out August, Feral House) and Wisconsin Legends & Lore (out in fall from The History Press). You’ll be hearing more about those in the coming months.

I also brought the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference back after a year off, and directed another huge Milwaukee Krampusnacht. I hosted ghost tours for Milwaukee Ghost Walk, facilitated selections for the Apocalypse Blog Book Club, worked day jobs at the Hubbard Park Beer Garden and the Cream City Hostel, both enjoyable places to be.

The year ahead is going to be busy, but I think it’ll be easier and that I’ll be benefitting quite a bit from the work I put in this year. I have a few smaller scale projects I’m working on, there will be book releases, and the events like the paranormal conference and Krampusnacht are going to be built on a foundation that’s been established.

“Tea’s Weird Week” is off the rest of the year, but check this out– I put all my 2019 columns, along with a few other articles I wrote this year into a good looking e-book, Tea’s Weird Week: 2019 Review. It’s only $1.99 (or free on Kindle Unlimited) and you can order it by CLICKING HERE.
(And if you’re on Goodreads please add to your list: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49238699-tea-s-weird-week)

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There will be a lot to discuss in this column in 2020– ghosts, Mothman, flat earth hip hop, Krampus, legends and lore, conspiracy theory, and much more.

Thank you all for reading this year and to all of you who have helped support me or my projects in some way. I am deeply grateful and appreciative to know so many great people. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and are as happy as I was in 1988 when I got Super Mario Bros. 2 for Christmas!

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Here are links to my new e-book and previous books (they make great holiday gifts, I’m obliged to tell you out of self-interest):

Tea’s Weird Week: 2019 Review

Apocalypse Any Day Now
Monster Hunters
Heroes in the Night

Facebookfacebook.com/theTeaKrulos Twitter:@TeaKrulos Instagram: @teakrulos

Tea’s Weird Week: The Ghost of the Christmas Tree Ship

TeaWeirdWeek

I sent in my manuscript for my book American Madness which will be out August next year. I also have a little book out about a year from now called Wisconsin Legends & Lore, which is a collection of some classic Wisconsin folklore, ghost stories, and urban legends. One of the stories I read about while researching is the tragic story of the Rouse Simmons, also known as the Christmas Tree Ship, a nice Wisconsin Christmas ghost story for you this Friday the 13th.

Every holiday season, Chicagoans eagerly awaited the arrival of the Christmas Tree Ship, which would load up with evergreens in Michigan, then sail down to Chicago, where it would tie up to a dock. Families would head over, pick out a tree, and drag it back to their homes on a sled. The arrival of the Rouse Simmons meant the arrival of the holidays.

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The Rouse Simmons.

Captain Herman Schuenemann aka “Captain Santa” ran the business. He sold trees for fifty cents or a dollar, but he was known for generously donating trees to orphanages, hospitals, and poor families. His was not the only Christmas Tree Ship, but it would become the most famous. In November of 1912, Captain Schuenemann and his crew loaded 5,500 trees (imagine how piney that must have smelled!) into the Rouse Simmons, packing it as much as they could. There were supposedly bad omens, according to crew who declined to make the journey– rats seen abandoning ship, a crew totally an unlucky 13, and the ship leaving port on a Friday.

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Captain Schuenemann (center) and crew members.

On November 23, 1912, the Rouse Simmons was sailing past Two Rivers, Wisconsin on route toward Chicago. A terrible storm hit Lake Michigan. The Rouse Simmons, already an old ship and overladen with thousands of trees, was thrashed in the wind, ice forming on the sails and ripping them. The Christmas Tree Ship (and a few other boats on the lake that night) and all hands were lost. Christmas trees from the boat washed ashore for years afterward.

Rather than be deterred by the lake that had claimed Captain Schuenemann’s life, his wife and daughters took over the business. The new Captain Schuenemann was his brave daughter, Elsie, who led the delivery of trees that same winter season of 1912. The family kept the business going until railroads and highways made the Christmas Trees ships obsolete in the 1920s and 30s..

The wreck of the Rouse Simmons was discovered by a scuba diver in 1971. They found that there were still needleless, skeleton-like trees in the cargo hold.

Legend says that you can see the ghost ship of the Rouse Simmons on Lake Michigan on stormy winter nights or on the anniversary of the night it sunk, struggling in the choppy waters to get south to Chicago.

A nice ending to this story is that a non-profit group called Chicago’s Christmas Ship, with the help of the Coast Guard, now continues the Christmas Tree Ship legacy. Using the sturdy Mackinaw, they’ve sailed to Navy Pier the last 20 years with a cargo of Christmas trees, where they work with community organizations to get trees to people who can’t afford them to make their holiday a little brighter.

You can find out more and donate here: http://christmasship.org/

More ghost stories! I host the Milwaukee Ghost Walk- Ghosts of Christmas Past tour tonight, tomorrow, and next weekend!: https://americanghostwalks.com/wisconsin/milwaukee-ghosts-of-christmas-past/

Thrilling to have a “Tea’s Weird Week” column (reworked slightly) printed in this month’s Fortean Times (#397, “Zombies, Vampires, Killer Clowns…”)!

My latest book, Apocalypse Any Day Now makes a nice existential stocking stuffer: www.chicagoreviewpress.com/ApocalypseAnyDayNow

Facebookfacebook.com/theTeaKrulos Twitter:@TeaKrulos Instagram: @teakrulos

Tea’s Weird Week: Krampusland

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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.

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Me and Kate made this Krampus Gate.

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.

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I even got to participate in the parade this year with my puppet, Count Krampula. My sister made the mask and I made the rest.

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!

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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

Facebookfacebook.com/theTeaKrulos Twitter:@TeaKrulos Instagram: @teakrulos

Tea’s Weird Week: Greetings From Beautiful Eroda

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Conspiracy Month at Tea’s Weird Week wraps up today. 

Nothing beats a vacation to the beautiful island of Eroda, from the “stunning cliffs” to the “rolling grassy hills.” And then there’s the “quaint villages, lively pubs, and bustling fish markets” of the island’s four villages– Marmoton, Garona, Martin’s Heaven, and Yuna. It’s a place to enjoy fresh seafood and check out the developing art scene.

There’s just one downer about vacationing in Eroda– it doesn’t exist.

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My friend forwarded me to this story on Twitter, where a guy named Austin noticed an ad for “Visit Eroda” and his posts trying to figure out if the place exists went viral. Visit Eroda has a Twitter, Instagram, and website.

A tweet asking people for their favorite Erodean memories has over a hundred hilarious replies from people LARPing along. Here’s a couple:

I stopped by the castle hoping to just bask in history, and ended up running into an archaeology student studying for her PHd, I learned a lot about how the cultures that used to inhabit Eroda lived.

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It was a bit odd that the inhabitants only wore white (I’d packed colourful clothes, like a chump), but their constant chanting soon put me at ease. My friend Beth left me a note to say she left early – silly thing missed the feast! The meat was great – I think it was pork? Yum!

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A photo purporting to be Eroda from the Visit Eroda website.

What is Eroda? A joke? A class project that took on a life of its own? A marketing publicity stunt? Probably one or more of those three. But it reminds of a couple things I’ve encountered in paranormal and conspiracy research.

The first thing that popped to mind was the “Mandela Effect” which suggests there is a parallel reality where things are similar but not quite the same. The name comes from people who are insistent that they remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 80s. Mandela was (in reality) released from prison and died in 2013. The most amusing example of Mandela Effect to me is people collectively remembering a movie about a genie starring the comedian Sinbad titled Shazaam (which doesn’t exist, at least in this universe) and a similar movie that stars Shaquille O’Neal as a rapping genie called Kazaam (1996). People swear they saw the Sinbad movie and remember being surprised when such a blatant rip-off followed. So perhaps Eroda is a real vacation spot in this alternate reality.

A lot of fake ideas are spread on the Internet, and as they are passed along, a certain percentage of people believe them. While Eroda likely started as a hoax, how many people will believe this place actually exists? Concepts like Flat Earth and QAnon have a growing number of followers because videos filled with made-up information suck people into a YouTube rabbit hole. One college teacher was fired for making his class watch QAnon videos, and I expect you’ll see more conspiracy theory being taught as facts. Will Eroda make its way into a geography class someday by a teacher who believes it to be real?

Milwaukee Ghost Walk- Ghosts of Christmas Past tour starts tonight. It’s a fun tour that I’m doing about 7 or 8 times over the next month. Tickets here: www.americanghostwalks.com 

Speaking of scary holiday traditions, today is Bleccch Friday–  take it away, Brett Newski!

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Tea’s Weird Week: Dallas, Part 2: JFK Assassination Conference

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Conspiracy Month continues on Tea’s Weird Week as he continues to report live from Dallas…

I’m still here in Dallas. Tomorrow is my last day. I decided to come down here because I noticed the JFK conference which involves what is sometimes called the “Assassination Community” was happening a week after the Flat Earth conference. Both conferences have been interesting experiences. The JFK conference has been a smaller, older crowd, and it hasn’t been as eye-popping as the flat earth one (but what else could be?) Much like the International UFO Congress I attended years ago (while working on my book Monster Hunters) I find some of the talks to be really interesting and others are…well, pretty out there.

This is the last material gathering expedition for my upcoming book American Madness (out August 2020). The JFK assassination might be my last experience, but the event is where it all begins.

Before I went to this week’s conference, I stopped in the Sixth Floor Museum, housed in the former Texas Book Depository, where Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy as he passed by in a motorcade. Of course, the people I’ve heard give talks these last couple days don’t believe that story. They have a wide range of ideas who the secret hand was organized the shooting, with bullets coming from all different directions– the famous grassy knoll, a bridge above the road, from within the motorcade itself. Oswald was just a patsy, they say. The nebulous “Deep State” are the actual murderers.

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The vantage point of the grassy knoll.

This picture grabbed my attention. It was taken shortly before shots rang out.

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From the Sixth Floor Museum.

56 years ago today, President Kennedy was murdered and the course of the world was forever changed. The president died and our America the Conspiracyland was born.

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I’ve got a lot of notes and literature from my Dallas conference experiences and another day of the conference tomorrow. Then I’m heading home. Which is good– I need some time to chill out, collect my thoughts, then after a hot minute of rest work on my manuscript and Milwaukee Krampusnacht (milwaukeeparacon.com/krampus).

Facebook: facebook.com/theTeaKrulos Twitter:@TeaKrulos Instagram: @teakrulos

And if you want to buy me a Texas-size coffee for the road, I ‘preciate that:
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Tea’s Weird Week: Dallas, Part 1: Live from the Flat Earth International Conference

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OR… STOP THE FLAT EARTH, I WANT TO GET OFF

November is Conspiracy Month at Tea’s Weird Week. Reporting live from Dallas…

Well, as I mentioned on Facebook, here in Dallas is probably where my story jumps the shark or falls off the edge of reality. The edge of the Flat Earth, that is. Yes, this “globehead” (which is what suckers like me who believe the world is a sphere are called) went undercover to hang out at the Flat Earth International Conference the last two days here in a suburb called Frisco in a hotel conference center.

You’ll be able to read more about the experience in my upcoming book, American Madness (Feral House, August 2020) but for now, here are some random notes, observations, and a couple photos.
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  • First of all, yes, these people really do believe the earth is flat. Or at least they think that they think they do. I think it’s more cult-like, a group of people looking for a place to belong.
  • Some demographics: my estimate was 300-500 attendees. Mostly white, but not exclusively. Wide age range and I would say more men than women, but not by much. Some observations from my note pad, people that looked like “eccentric professors” “kind of punk rock” “family: man with beard, woman in prairie dress, 3 kids–Amish? Mormon?” “bros with backward baseball caps” “Latino bodybuilder with Flat Earth tank top” “sunburnt bald guy with Snidley Whiplash mustache.” But a lot of people looked like regular everyday people you might see in line at the grocery store.
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  • Enemies of Flat Earthers, called out repeatedly during the conference: NASA (“masonic and Satanic,” as one speaker said), Neil Degrasse-Tyson, Bill Nye, MythBusters (all guilty of ridiculing flat earth), Albert Einstein, Elon Musk, and mainstream media. They did seem to admire Nikola Tesla.
  • There were about a dozen young kids in attendance. I did make me really sad to think of these kids growing up being told that space and space exploration and science in general is FAKE. Science is very cool, kids.
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  • I recommend the Netflix doc on FLat Earthers.  Behind the Curve. Most of the people in that doc were here, including main subject Mark Sargent.
  • There are religious flat earthers, who believe the Bible provides clues that the earth is flat. Then there are flat earthers who have pieced together some pseudo-science experiments, like bring a carpenter’s level onto an airplane or shining a laser across a flat area to prove there’s no curvature.
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  • One moment I kept thinking about– during a break I went across the street to get a slice of pizza from 7-11. I sat on a bench outside to scarf it down. A guy came walking up and gave a little wave. “Hey, fellow Flat Earther,” he said. “Hey man!” I replied. He looked like he wanted to say something more, but he shyly turned away. I saw him around the conference, sitting by himself. He seemed awkward, lonely, in need of a friend. He probably fell down a YouTube hole (that’s how many Flat Earthers are converted) and ended up here.
  • The most popular flat earth pseudoscience podcast is GLOBEBUSTERS (their experiments were featured in the Behind the Curve documentary). I got to see a recording of the podcast including a live performance of the Globebusters theme song! It’s not quite a parody of the Ghostbusters song, but kind of an odd remix and it’s been stuck in my damn head all day.

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    That’s a giant level on top of the car.

  • Speaking of music, Flat Earthers have a rich output of music geared toward them, which makes them unique in conspiracy culture (where is the anti-vaxx or Reptilian themed songs?) Flat Earth Man sings country tunes on flat earth related topics. He sadly didn’t perform live this year, but he popped up in no less than four Flat Earth Video Awards nominees and I bought a signed copy of his CD.There also is a flat earth hip hop genre, there were a couple of live performances of booty shakin’ hits like “Lean Flat.” I think I’ll be writing a column or article on flat earth hip hop someday soon.Also performing were a couple of vocalists I’d describe as…pop? Soul? Imagine Mariah Carey singing about how NASA lies and believing your own eyes about not seeing a curvature on the earth.
  • I was excited to see a “Flat Earth Game Show” but it turned out to be a scene they’re shooting in a movie about Flat Earth…but the cast were all Flat Earthers (Mark Sargent was the host).
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  • When I saw a comedy show listed, I had high hopes it would be like an open mic where Flat Earthers roasted globeheads or made Seinfeld like observations about day-to-day life on flat earth. I did get to see a bit of this at the awards show, but the main comedy event was Alt-Right comedian Owen Benjamin who has been shunned by mainstream comedy and has found refuge here in the fringe. His set bashed gay and transgendered people, he ranted a defense about being able to use the N-bomb in a comedy bit, blah blah– complete shit. Bad form, Flat Earthers.
  • I watched about six talks, including “NASA: Going Nowhere Since 1958” and “Coming Out of the Flat Earth Closet: A Call to Activism.” In between, I checked out the vendor floor, spread down the conference hallway. It included flat earth models, clocks, posters, self-published books, DVDs, clothes, jewelry, and busts of Nikola Tesla.
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  • I was really excited to see the “Flat Earth Mega Panel” and submitted questions to it, but because the other speakers were longwinded, it was canceled. Flat Earthers not only don’t use globes, they also don’t like to use watches, apparently.
  • The conference ended with the Flat Earth Video Awards, aka the “Flattys.” It featured live music performances, and included awards to “Best Flat Earth Awakening Video,” “Best Flat Earth Proof Experiment” and “Best Flat Smacking.””Flat smacking” is when you drop the truth bomb that the world is flat on a poor, unsuspecting globehead, you see.  Now you know! The conference was a very interesting experiment, and I’m excited to write on it in more detail for American Madness. Time for me to get to work, my friends–  as the Flate Earthers like to say– keep it flat!IMG_5564

     

    Next week: My conspiracy journey continues here in Dallas. Will things get even weirder? I don’t think that’s possible. Will they remain reasonably weird? Yeah. 

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