333

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been waking up at the same time every night – at 3:33 am. At first, this was greatly amusing – I even chuckled aloud once or twice. But then, I began to wonder why, and of course I thought there might be a paranormal connection. What else, right? Oh, I realize how frequently people manage to awaken themselves like this with their own inner clocks, but that’s no fun. Given my proclivity for things paranormal, a supernatural explanation should not be unexpected. You know, I even started to look forward to it.

But last night, as I opened my eyes to the now familiar 333; stood and started on my way to the bathroom; as I reached the bedroom door, something caught my t-shirt and held me back. It was actually difficult to pull away – whatever had me used a lot of force. I checked for nails, small slivers of wood – anything out of the ordinary, and I removed the shirt to search for snags, tears, or whatever. You can imagine – there was nothing. Was this what all these 333 moments were about? Was a spirit preparing me for this small tug of war just to let me know he was there? Was this actually paranormal?

Probably not. You know, I realize that we’re not exactly on top of things in the early morning hours; that we’re groggy when we wake up, and our senses are not to be believed. But this was a hefty pull, and I was awake, dammit! I know many of you might prefer I keep this to myself – why incur further embarrassment. You don’t want to think of me as confused and blindly accepting of such esoteric explanations. But what’s the difference? Something pulled my shirt. In fact, it lasted 3 or 4 seconds before I could break free. Does it matter which explanation suits me more?

It’s not so terrible to believe a spirit has been waking me at 333, and pulled my shirt. Mankind has always believed in things that go bump in the night, so frankly, it seems more normal than a lot of rational explanations based on maybe and what if scenarios. In my little world, I reserve the right to believe this fantasy and unexplained nonsense any time I choose.

I think what gets me; what chafes my thighs the most, is that because of this I have become a sleepwalking, dream-dazed, unaware old man, whose commentary on the things he does is now completely unreliable and specious. I couldn’t possibly be getting it right because I was asleep 5 minutes earlier. It couldn’t be a ghost or a spirit. Really? But why on earth does it matter? Why can’t it be Aunt Sue here to tell me that she’s present? “Because that’s just silly!” Who cares?! I like that possibility. It pleases me to think some spirit – whoever he or she might be, went to all the trouble of tugging on my shirt. I like all the foreplay of waking me up every night at 333. And it’s never going to be explained, so I think I prefer the nonsense explanation to the “walking dead” theory.

Even if I am wrong about this, it will never matter. It’ll just be one more fascinating little piece of life that makes me smile. Forget all the serious stuff, and my betrayal of duty as a modern man in a world full of incredible, but true explanations. When I pass this plane, I’m gonna ask everyone I meet on the other side if they pulled on my shirt and woke me up at 333 every night. I’m gonna ask until I find the guy who did it, and then I expect to smile about it all over again.
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Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

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Indisputably Worthless

It has been suggested that I write the occasional movie review here on The Voices Blog. Well, it’s true that once upon a time I knew everything there is to know about film, and since I have a BFA in Cinema, I still should, right? But over the years, all the knowledge has slowly drained from my brain into an amorphous lump of unfortunate drivel usually based solely on nothing more than what I like. Since quality is no longer a major concern, I’ve obviously become one of the “great unwashed.”

To help explain this… For me, The Walking Dead isn’t good because of camera angles or point of view; character development is of incidental importance. The rhythm of the editing is meaningless, the acting inconsequential, the special effects of secondary significance, and the underlying definition of the human condition is irrelevant. The Walking Dead is good because there are cool zombies and crazy people. You see? It’s taken a lot of years, but I’ve finally forgotten every last thing I learned in college. When they told me a college education would come in handy, I didn’t think there was an expiration date. It no longer comes in handy.

These days, my usual comments about the films I watch are so pedestrian and personally indulgent that I don’t even enjoy hearing my own opinions as I state them. So, in case you’re still not convinced, here are just ten of the reasons why my opinion on film is totally and indisputably worthless.

1. I have developed an intense hatred for slasher movies. Every time someone gets cut I have to look away. I usually turn to whomever I’m with and say, “This is just stupid. Do you like this crap?”
2. I think “2001: A Space Odyssey” is ground-breaking and seminal, and I still laugh at the instructions for using a zero gravity toilet.
3. When did Monty Python stop making movies? They were just getting the hang of it!
4. I liked “Mama.”
5. I’ve seen “That Thing You Do” 27 times, and I’m not ashamed of it. I want to tell you my favorite part, but it’s too embarrassing.
6. My favorite genre is alien movies. I like ghosts and demons too, but all it takes to get my money is a Gray in his birthday suit.
7. I couldn’t sit through an entire romantic comedy if my life depended on it. Lord save me! Doesn’t matter how much sleep I’ve had the night before, I’m bagging zzzz’s well before that fool decides he can’t live without her. Sometimes I even fall asleep with popcorn still in my mouth.
8. If Bruce Willis is in it, I’m there!
9. I have actually heard myself say, upon occasion, that Tom Cruse is a good actor. When you couple this with the Bruce Willis thing…
10. The whole Jack Sparrow persona still hasn’t gotten old for me.

Watching film is something I do incredibly well – probably because it’s so easy! I do a lot of it too, in one form or another – everything from television shows to movies to footage of my last investigation. I watch it on a big screen tv, iPad, computer, iPhone, and of course, in the theaters. If something has been immortalized on video, celluloid, or digitally mastered, I’m all about it and looking for a front row seat. Problem is, I might know what I like, but I’m no longer certain why. Fortunately, I haven’t lost all semblance of intelligent thought, because I’m smart enough not to attempt a movie review. I wonder what happened to me?
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Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Impeccable Timing

A man told me a tale while we were discussing Season One of American Horror Story. It seems that early one crisp Thanksgiving day, while driving down a lonely, local road, he happened upon a transparent person crossing in front of his speeding car. Slamming on the brakes to avoid hitting the figure, the car came to a stop just a few feet away from an unfazed revenant. Yes, he was indeed transparent, seemed to lack one leg, and consisted of a shimmering, unstable substance. The driver was not drunk or otherwise impaired; he wasn’t tired or distracted. It was just a trip down the road for cigarettes on a holiday morning; a trip he had made many times before.

The apparition turned and looked him right in the eyes, offered a beaming smile, and literally tipped his hat, before turning to predictably disappear. “He faded away. He was just gone.” The man went on to say he was shaken, and stayed stopped in the road until the sound of an approaching car snapped him to his senses. He slowly proceeded home, and not knowing how to explain the encounter, kept it to himself for years. “You know,” he confessed, “I might have been driving too fast. Maybe that thing made me slow down so I didn’t hit a tree or something.”

Maybe, I thought, and I remembered reading a similar story a few months earlier concerning a woman trapped in a burning building. She was confronted by a floating apparition who directed her through the maze of fire, and eventually to safety. It was a miracle, and she was completely convinced her life was saved by “the white angel.” Maybe my friend in the car was keeping similar company.

Were these angels? Possibly deceased human spirits sent to save the living from an unnecessary and horrific death? No one will ever know of course, and it requires faith to see this as a backup plan for when our senses and sensibilities fail. But there are those who disbelieve the paranormal verity suggested by both of these incidents; naysayers who can offer no explanation, but plenty of doubt. There always has to be rationality; a real reason – maybe “something more believable.” Because they lied? “Well, let’s just say mistaken.”

My inner believer wants to slap the skeptic right off of some people. I am amazed at our inability to accept one another’s honest testimony. Must we know whether these two incidents were real or imagined; whether they were placed into the mind by a higher power, or manufactured by a subconscious need to survive? All the possible explanations are preposterous, but does it matter?

There are times when the paranormal comes to visit in ways we could not have even imagined, and frequently, we benefit. Often, we lose sight of the true nature of things paranormal – we prefer to make it frightening and menacing. We so easily welcome the notion of demons and monsters; creatures whose only purpose is to suck the life out of us or possess our mortal souls. But the true meaning of such things doesn’t have to be abhorrent. When we least expect it, the paranormal comes bearing gifts – of life, love, and an understanding of what it means to be flawed and in trouble. Sometimes, the paranormal is a good thing to have around. Sometimes it’s timing is impeccable.

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Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/

Beside Us

The lady misplaced her jacket, and they spent a portion of three months searching for it. She remembers hanging it on a hook in the hall closet, so they were certain it was not lost, but after a while, they forgot about it, and no longer cared. It would show up eventually, no doubt.

Lately, they’ve been experiencing loud, unexplainable banging sounds, and their three year old frequently complains about a strange man in his room. So, yesterday, when the jacket was found hanging on the railing, in plain sight, they were understandably disturbed. The long forgotten jacket appeared on the end piece of the railing at the bottom of the most noticeable place in the living room. Something paranormal was possibly afoot.

But here’s the interesting part, because a story about a missing jacket doesn’t typically qualify as a legitimate “paranormal” event – she found her car keys in the jacket pocket. Car keys that she has used every day while the jacket was on sabbatical. The Mister said she turned a whiter shade of pale and muttered something about seeing the “ghost hunter” down the street. That would be me, and just so we understand each other, I absolutely believe their story.

Now, I’m not saying I think their house is haunted, but I know these people, and inventing this tale would not be their kind of thing. I like to think I have a pretty good BS detector, and everything about them screams “the truth.” Regardless, I volunteered to look into it, if they wanted – they did not. I offered to provide some equipment they could use on their own, if they felt it might help – they thanked me and said no. All I had left to offer were words of comfort, but it seems they really just wanted to talk about it; they’d be fine.

Well, I was glad I could help in some way. More often than not, it’s enough to just lend an understanding ear. People often feel better by getting it off their chest, and the simple act of saying everything out loud becomes a cleansing measure. Besides, I think there are too many people conducting investigations at the drop of a hat these days – investigations that may not be warranted or result in positive experiences for the so-called victims.

Not every odd occurrence should become part of the paranormal laboratory, you know – sometimes acceptance is the better path. On rare occasions, we miraculously realize that learning to deal with life as it is presented is the true test of who we are, and that sometimes, spirit life is permanently and intricately intertwined with our own. Sometimes, we come to the understanding that sharing our existence with what we cannot comprehend is only normal, and that truly, if we want to be left alone, we must find the will to reciprocate. Not all ghosts need to go away; some spirits belong beside us.

It’s difficult to think of such things this way, because we seem geared against coexistence, and our fear is so easily justified by peers and society. Fortunately, every now and then, one of us (perhaps even a small family) rises above the dread and apprehension in order to willingly share life’s tranquility. Peace is always more easily found when all involved are allowed to partake.
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Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/

Without a Shred of Relevance

The other night, I was sitting in bed recording while my wife slept and the CPAP droned, but as soon as I stopped, she was awakened by a vivid dream. To make a very long story short, it turns out that I captured a voice saying “wake up” just seconds before she actually did.

I love it when EVP fit the situation so relevantly, and it seems to happen often. This kind of meaningful interaction is what most convinces me of their authenticity. No matter where they occur, EVP can be downright uncanny when it comes to situational significance, but lately I’ve been wondering just how often this actually occurs. I’ve been pondering a new kind of classification that reflects the relevance of these voices.

We already classify EVP as A through D to indicate strength and clarity, and personally, I use three others – N, E, and R. Huh? N designates a noise phenomenon – something I believe to rarely be paranormal (re: There Is No Silence, Chapter 4). E stands for Extreme EVP, and R represents those which need to be played in reverse to be understood. Now I want to add more! I am a bureaucrat at heart, you know.

Perhaps numbers could be used. We could start at the number one and go to five, with one denoting the most relevant EVP, and five indicating total irrelevance. Well, it needs work, but I wanted to see how many random EVP samples would actually achieve #1 status. It turns out not as many as I thought. The majority of 200 specimens were classified #3 – somewhat relevant, but not necessarily. In fact, the results made a beautiful bell curve when plotted on a graph.

Of course, this doesn’t attest to the authenticity of EVP. We’ve always been aware of how whacky some spirit comments can be, so this occasional absurdity is nothing new. Still, my test results have caused me to embrace these less lucid fellows much more than before. We should be more appreciative of the lowly #5 voices; those without a shred of relevance. I don’t know about you, but I find them infinitely more fascinating.

On July 7, 2009 I recorded a voice that said “Collins is 51 today” – a high-end, fully understandable B-class comment that related to absolutely nothing. This was quickly followed by another voice saying “caw caw caw.” (No, it wasn’t a bird – trust me.) The point is, these comments may not be relevant to situation, location, or people we know, but they’re spoken from somewhere other than here, and in that regard, they’re very important.

Statistics are important too. Indeed, statistical evidence may be the most compelling argument for the authenticity of EVP voices, but it goes much deeper than numbers, trends, or anything that fits on a chart or graph. Each individual EVP represents the expression of someone unseen, and my guess is that while they may not always be relevant to us, they’re probably very relevant elsewhere. So, happy birthday, Collins – wherever you are. You’re A number one in my book. Maybe I’ll throw a surprise birthday party this July 7th, so save the date. Do you think he’ll feel the love from so far away? I wonder how many of us it will take.

The Sixth Sense

The sixth sense exists. It’s real, there is proof, and I’ve seen it in action. It’s not as strong as our other senses, of course, which is why most of us are not aware of it, but it’s there – absolute, undeniable, and statistically provable.

The experiment goes something like this… Put two curtains in front of a person and let them know that behind one is a photo of something. It could be anything – a rabbit, a family of four, ball bearings; doesn’t matter. Behind the other curtain, there is nothing. Now choose which curtain hides the photo. Sounds like a 50/50 proposition, doesn’t it? It is. On average, people get it right half the time. We’re obviously guessing, and the laws of probability rule the day.

Now replace the random photo with a picture of something erotic, and repeat the experiment. Miraculously, the erotic photo is discovered 53 percent of the time – consistently. Is that because we’re a sex obsessed species? Well, yes, as a matter of fact. Over the millennia, we’ve had to survive varying degrees of a harsh environment, and the key to our survival has been the ability to successfully reproduce sufficiently enough to continue as a viable species. When faced with the promise of something so vital to our subconscious need to exist, our sixth sense is awakened, and we’re no longer merely guessing.

I would imagine that some of us fall below this 53 percent – like me, for example, but that means there’s someone else whose sixth sense is incredibly stronger than the average. I find that encouraging. I love the idea that there are people with a highly developed sixth sense, even if I’m not entirely certain what that means or how it can be reliably put to use. Evidently, this truly is a gift – like throwing a baseball faster, or playing a violin better. Certain people among us just seem to know things the rest of us don’t, and we should revere and celebrate their abilities as much as those of any athlete or musician.

Personally, I’m satisfied that the sixth sense is more than the stuff of coincidence or fiction. Scientists at Harvard and Cornell are convinced as well, and while it’s a tremendous leap to suggest any paranormal implications, that too may be possible. It certainly gives me pause to wonder, and I’m not alone. Studies are being done on willing test subjects with the hope of discovering those individuals whose sixth sense is the most highly developed, and whether this could include the ability to deal with “other” things unseen.

If this sixth sense had a hand in allowing mankind to make wise decisions and recognize better survival choices millennia ago, why couldn’t we use it once again – now, when we seem so hellbent on annihilating ourselves in such a variety of ways. I think we’re missing the boat here! Not that we should become a planet of seers and fortune tellers, but maybe we could finally learn to embrace life without so much misappropriated effort, unfounded prejudice, and lousy decision making.

Personally, I’m all for it. The sixth sense is real – just as real as the moon, the stars, and Hershey’s chocolate. There’s no denying the data. Why deny ourselves the benefit?

Not Suitable for Television

Friends and family frequently come to me with questions about the paranormal TV shows. “Is Ghost Adventures bogus? Celebrity Ghost Story is just for publicity, right? You know John Zaffis, don’t you?” Well, lets see – I don’t think so, no, and I only met him once (for ten seconds). I guess they think because I’m in the field, I’m compelled to watch every single paranormal show. It’s a requirement, right? “You went to Penn State. Was Ryan Beuhl there then?” Good Lord, he wasn’t even born yet! Hush.

Okay, okay – I can name drop if I need to. I sold a copy of Voices From Forever to Debbie Constantino and another to Chris Fleming. They were very nice, but I kinda doubt they read it. Chip Coffey once nodded in my direction – knowingly. That counts! Barry Kling said, “How’s it going?” Then he continued walking toward the Men’s Room. I didn’t follow up on that. So that’s the extent of my hobnobbing with the paranormal immortals. Sorry.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – I’d hang with Jason and Steve for sure; have a beer with Zak. I’d love to spend the day with Amy Allen, or the evening with Jael and Lanisha; me and Josh Gates could do some Parisian Catacombs – in the dark. I’m sure all these folks are just wonderful people – salt of the earth, and I wish ’em all well, but even if I did know them, I wouldn’t be spreading the dirt. I don’t feel one ounce of moral turpitude concerning the authenticity of their programs. I’m too preoccupied with keeping my own house in order to go mess up someone else’s.

Good grief! The business of television is to entertain the masses (that’s us), and I for one turn the damn thing off when I’m not being entertained. So I guess it’s highly possible that some things aren’t on the up and up in Paranormal TVland, but I don’t know anything about it.

No one’s ever offered to give me a show. Imagine that! It’s okay though – I always figured the reason film crews didn’t follow me around is because I’m boring. Really boring! Most of the guys they do film are not, but don’t get me wrong, I still love what I do – that’s why I do it. I’m fairly certain it’s not suitable for television though, but a guy can dream, right?

I can see it now – they’ll call it Ghostly Voices or The Ghost Listener… I hate the name, but the contract is air tight, and I have no say about anything. Section Five provides the usual standard pay of $1,300 per episode, and I have to buy my own lunch. Theres no wardrobe budget. Every week we’ll have a zoom close up of me pressing record; spooky sound effects will swell as I ask “is anyone here?” I’ll look all focused between questions – intense; even cerebral. They’ll find me a sidekick (hopefully Jael or Lanisha) who will pretend every word out of my mouth is pure genius; people will wonder if we’ve worked together long. It’ll be great!

Okay, dream is over. Stop asking me about these stupid shows – it’s too painful having to face the depth of my failure to reach paranormal deification. Think whatever you like, but they don’t deserve your adoration – it’s not like they’re The Beatles or Neil Diamond for God’s sake. Of course, you’d probably be better served not to worry about authenticity so much – just enjoy the show. And if you want to be seriously creeped out, watch Honey Booboo – she can’t possibly be real.