Soul to Soul

“That team is better because they have more equipment.” Not! Still, imagine for a second that quality paranormal research and investigation actually does hinge on possessing an abundance of gear. More is better. Bigger is better! Where have I heard that kind of thinking before? How discouraging…

Well, I guess a large library with a gazillion books is better than a small one. Assuming they’re quality books, of course – not just limited to bad romance novels and every Atlas known to mankind. It’s also probably true that a large urban medical group with dozens of specialists is more effective than old Doc Brown (third barn on the left), unless all those specialists are graduates of the Mozambique Academy of Archery and Medicine. That changes the perspective a bit. And certainly all those painters of motel wall art can’t be bad, right?

I still cry hogwash. More equipment does not mean a paranormal team is better. How many laser grids does one need? “Anyone want a FLIR? I’ve got two!” The first paranormal team I was associated with was anything but overly equipped and we managed to capture more evidence than any team I’d heard of, so you’ll never convince me that results have anything to do with how much really cool stuff you’ve got. But there are reasons our team’s investigations were fruitful, and it’s the same for every working paranormal team that succeeds. 

At the top of the list is using your resources wisely. Keep your equipment in working order, know when and how to use it, and understand that these wondrous devices are tools – it’s you who is doing the investigating. Pay attention to your surroundings and above all else, react to what you see and hear. Learn how to follow your core instincts, and don’t be afraid to go in the wrong direction. Be respectful and understanding of those whose environment you may be invading. And certainly not last or least, be as thorough as you can.

Investigating is actually a very dynamic situation – it becomes an entity of its own, and investigators feel their way through like the notes of a song in search of the melody. We become part of the darkness; a breeze in the wind, if you will. We are the peaceful representatives of the living world in a place where life may just be relative. We are ambassadors. “Yeah yeah, wax poetic, old man. A breeze in the wind indeed!” Well, overly hyperbolic or not, none of any of that requires even one piece of equipment. Investigation starts with the humanity of the individual, I think, and success doesn’t hinge on the lux of one’s IR bullet camera.

The team that spends its time bragging about their equipment, probably has their priorities out of line – a fairly understandable statement to make, I think. But what does that say about those of us who assume it makes them better? Not very much, I’m afraid. One doesn’t hire a surgeon for the number of scalpels he owns. His knowledge, creativity, and skill are better reasons. Why should it be any different with paranormal teams? Then again, I’d love to walk through a location armed to the teeth with every possible scientific apparatus available, but then how much time would I spend investigating? Equipment has its place – no doubt, and if used properly, can provide the evidence we all so covet, but I’ve always believed spirit communication is best achieved soul to soul. Equipment isn’t part of that equation.

I’m not saying less is best, or that a highly equipped team is automatically lacking – certainly, we need “things” to do our job, but most of today’s paranormal devices can’t prove a thing; won’t provide a shred of actual evidence. What we really need are well-trained, highly motivated investigators in whose hands to place all that equipment, and even then there are no guarantees.

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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.

Anything Is Possible

I understand why people who are involved with the paranormal do not view the subject casually. That’s me. It holds great meaning for me and challenges my convictions in an intensely philosophical way. And occasionally, it strengthens my religious beliefs and redefines my understanding of our true relation to the universe.

I used to cringe every time I heard myself attempting to convince others of how dispassionately objective I was about the subject, because I’d hoped to remain the eternal skeptic. And I really tried, but wearing a mask of total impartiality never worked – you could always see the real me underneath. Eventually, I felt so hypocritical that the better part of valor was just to own it, so I confess – I believe there are events for which there are no plausible explanations. Therefore, even if only by definition, paranormal anomalies must exist.

That doesn’t mean I think every stray noise is demon clatter, or every mist, mass and vapor a ghost. It doesn’t mean that the continuance of the human soul can be proved or that God is behind a lick of it, but being a true paranormal disciple means anything is possible. That includes Heaven and Hell, possession, the transcendence of the soul, little green men, and water nymphs named Bob. I’m not saying I’m down with everything – just that I’m seriously not ruling anything out.

“But I thought you were a modern man,” you may ask. I am! But I refuse to be blinded by that modernity; I cannot accept the foolish notion that there must be limitations to existence. Science doesn’t limit possibilities, so why should we? Art doesn’t feel obliged to inhibit either it’s form or expression. What are mathematicians if not the architects of an unknown future? Why should we place the things we’ve witnessed into a little box labeled “nonsense” and store it on the top shelf with the rusty garden tools?

Being objective isn’t so difficult if the intention is for truth. You just tell it like you see it, and let the chips fall where they may. There’s no vested interest in anything paranormal being truth or illusion – it is what it is, and if it’s the truth we’re looking for, then I don’t see how we can arbitrarily decide that something can not be possible. Don’t believe in spirit communication? Unwilling to accept alien visitation? Demonic possession, climate change and evolution all sound like a bunch of hogwash? Fine, but you’ll have to prove it.

I mean, that’s how it goes, right? For years it’s been acceptable to assume the burden of proof belongs solely to the paranormalist* – it’s up to us to provide the world with iron clad, irrefutable proof backed by solid, unquestionable evidence. And if that’s not possible, every piece of our premise tends to be negated. But I think it’s time we share the burden for a change. It’s not good enough to dismiss paranormal explanations with a chuckle and a knowing look toward the local mental institution. Claiming an idea to be preposterous must be accompanied by facts, reason, logic, and a willingness to explain why. If you’re going to aggressively nullify things paranormal, then you’ve invited yourself into a conversation that carries with it some responsibility.

There’s just as much reasonability in the concept of life after death as there is in additional dimensions at the quantum level. Both ideas must bear the strain of reason – both concepts require some original thinking. Neither one merits anything less than our best consideration. Ultimately, no one cares what we believe – only what is factual. If we don’t know what that is yet, we must not be looking everywhere.

The word “paranormalist” borrowed from Renae Rude.
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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.

EVP Central

I used to refer to my mother’s house as “EVP Central.” I swear, once I thought I heard a voice claim to be the “dispatcher,” and frankly, there were so many different spirits representin’ at such an amazing frequency, the idea of a dispatcher seemed wholly plausible. That was in the beginning of my trip with EVP, and it was a fruitful initiation, but it feels like a very long time ago now.

These days, it’s not so hectic over at Mom’s. EVP frequency has dipped from time to time over the years – there’s always been a recovery, but the past few months have been downright mystifyingly quiet. I still manage to record the occasional comment or two, but the party atmosphere has vanished. No more joking, sarcasm, or weird impressions of the living; no more preaching or attempted words of wisdom. Now, it sounds like every other home I’ve investigated – often they say something fascinating, but mostly, they’re rather pedestrian.

As my mother grows older and nearer her final days, I would have expected activity there to increase. It felt like a logical conclusion over the years, and I couldn’t wait to record the droves of deceased family members and friends. I’ve been expecting a smorgasbord of transcendental treats – spirit voices off the hook, if you will, and I could just see ’em all lining the walls and floating around; bouncing on the beds or trying out the microwave. Instead, they may have grown tired of answering my stupid questions. Maybe they’ve run out of interesting things to say. I suppose it’s possible that I’ve gotten on their literal last nerve, annoyed them into silence, or maybe this is just how it goes – that as we approach our final days, everything becomes a little more serious. Those who visit may become more respectfully quiet. Who knows?

If I’ve learned anything about the paranormal over the years, it’s that everything is unpredictable and totally random. With that in mind, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised when things don’t follow my “game plan” – nothing ever does. With the paranormal, stuff either happens or it doesn’t, but either way, it’s usually gone quickly, and while we’d all love to have been there, frequently we’re not. I guess that’s what is going on at EVP Central – these days it’s a lot more not than got, and I don’t have to like it, but I definitely have to accept it.

Well, I’ll still be recording there for as long as I can. I don’t have to come out with dozens of wildly disassociated voices – I’ll be more than happy with the occasional “hello” or a soft-spoken “yes” or “go away” from time to time. It was fun while it lasted, all those rousing spirit conversations, but nothing lasts forever, and I’ll definitely count myself lucky for being there when the time was ripe.

I guess when you can go anywhere you want, do whatever you please, and never have to worry about paying the rent, finding a new “haunt” seems normal. Transparent becomes the new black, after all, but wouldn’t most of us do the same? No sense in sticking around here when everything else is your oyster. I guess that’s why I’ve always felt so blessed to have heard from these people at all. But I’d be lying if I said I don’t miss it. EVP Central seems closed for business – just a skeleton crew on board. And me, of course – till the end, whenever that will be.
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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.

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.

The Conjuring

I was fortunate enough to see an advance screening of The Conjuring last night, and even though I promised never to write a movie review, I’m gonna do it anyway. Since the official release date is July 19, I’ll do my best not to ruin it for you.

Basically, I think I may have witnessed the birth of a classic – the kind of paradigmatic film people recommend 40 years later for all the right reasons. The Exorcist and The Sixth Sense” immediately come to mind, and that’s some pretty lofty company. The Conjuring was just that good for me. It’s one of the best directed films I’ve seen in years, and the lack of CGI effects make the experience even more faithful to reality. Every technical aspect seemed wonderfully flawless to me, and the cast was perfectly selected, but that doesn’t explain why this movie works so well. That comes from its honesty, because this film tears right through your soul.

If you’re a fan of Ed and Lorraine Warren, and who isn’t really, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga do them proud with sensitive, realistic performances that can only add to the Warren legacy. And Lili Taylor was spectacular in my opinion. She righteously communicated the most difficult range of emotions to translate on film – that of growing, gripping fear, without any reliance on melodrama or forced reaction. For my money, Ms. Taylor may have turned in the best performance of her career – never over the top, but always on the edge. The entire cast was impressive, and they did it the hard way, with an obvious dedication to character and old-fashioned acting.

Unlike most modern films, The Conjuring doesn’t try too hard. Theres no window dressing or useless frills; no assaultive shock-value or cheap thrills; no bullshit paranormal mumbo-jumbo – just an unassuming but astonishing story that feels completely genuine every second of the experience. Of course there are moments sprinkled throughout the film that make you jump, but they’re natural without ever being obvious. And The Conjuring certainly doesn’t tone down the creepiness factor, but it never seems forced.

This is basically a throwback film in that it doesn’t rely on gimmicks, illogical horror, or gratuitous violence. Instead, The Conjuring commits to quality of story and just the perfect amount of suspense to seamlessly lead you down the same terrifying path of no return the Perron family is forced to endure. You share their anguish, feel their indescribably damaging and hopeless terror, and suffer every excruciating second along with them. But this film succeeds where so many others fail because it rises above the nonsense and makes you a true believer. I don’t think I spent a single moment questioning either its authenticity or plausibility.

The Conjuring is just very good filmmaking – possibly great. Certainly it is near the top of its genre. This is a must see, and well worth the trip to the theatre. This is what “the movies” are all about.
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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.

Definitely Kinda Sorta

I have a problem. I’ve captured video of some thingy that travels unpredictably, is incredibly fast, changes shapes, and casts its own very bright light. I recorded it during a private daytime investigation, so duh… It’s not a bug, flashlight, or car lights. Besides, no one was even in the building. But listen, I know what it’s not – I just don’t know what it is.

At first I was disappointed to see it a second time because that suggested a naturally recurring situation, but everything about it was completely different from the first one, so I labeled both of the anomalies as temporarily unexplainable. Likewise for the third, fourth, and fifth occurrences – each different, and each completely without sensible interpretation. However, by the time number six arrived, I was pretty jaded and with much chagrin, decided that I couldn’t accept any of them as paranormal. Into the proverbial trash with them all.

No, I had to re-evaluate. I knew eventually I would have to discredit the darn things because that’s my job, so I pushed it aside for later and moved on to the final video file. And there it was – number seven. This time, it was the shape and size of a bright orange baseball. I watched transfixed; spellbound and incredulous, as it moved up the stairs casting a soft, golden glow on the far wall of the stairwell. Basically, I just stared at the screen – fully awake and focused – watching it take the shape of a perfect orb, and slowly float away.

Wait. An orb? Oh Lord, not an orb! I don’t believe in orbs. Not even a little bit. In order for me to believe in an orb it would have to introduce itself verbally and sit in my hand while singing Handel’s Messiah and juggling. Orbs are never paranormal, dammit! And that’s final. But I dunno what this is! It was round just that once, which suggests I can probably avoid the word “orb,” so I’m calling it a light anomaly. But just because I don’t know what the phenomenon is, doesn’t mean I don’t know what I think, and I definitely kinda sorta don’t think it’s paranormal. Am I just being stubborn? I prefer prudent, cautious, and sensible, but if that’s so, then why does it feel so wrong? Well, it’s one of those things, right? Sometimes it doesn’t matter how unexplainable something appears to be, ya just can’t call it paranormal. Sometimes you just suck it up and try to muddle through.

But why? Am I actually going to ignore this just because it’s an orb? I could have been wrong all these years. Orbs might actually be paranormal. Not the silly ones that supposedly have faces and only happen at the exact same moment as lens flare, of course, but what kind of investigator refuses to recognize evidence just because it differs from his “other” world view? Either this is real or it isn’t – there’s no middle ground here. But an orb? Sigh… I’d have preferred a tap dancing T-Rex.

Well, I’ll be okay – don’t worry about me. I’ll just do a lot of shoulder shrugging and say things like, “I dunno what it is. What do you think?” My reputation will stay in tact; my credibility will come back. There’s nothing to fret about because it is sooo not an orb, but then what is it? Okay, I know. I get it! It’s a light anomaly, and there’s an explanation out there somewhere. I’ll figure it out. Geeez… Why me?
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Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/

Is That All There Is?

Let me just say that nothing in my life can ever communicate the adoration that comes with knowing my children, and that the impact their very existence has made can never be equalled. That said, I’ve been blessed to have done a great many other things during my time on this planet and plane. I’ve been a rose-grower, janitor, art director, web designer, a professional photographer, and even a musician – briefly. These are the tip of the iceberg. I was once fired from a detective agency because my voice wasn’t “sweet enough” when I answered the phone. I wrote a song that was stolen by a famous artist (don’t ask – I won’t tell).

I demonstrated for civil rights and against the Vietnam War, was hired to film Richard Nixon at a funeral, and saw both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones live. Janis Joplin and Ravi Shankaar as well. I actually had a “real” ticket to Woodstock, which I gave away. I helped occupy my college administration building in 1969, have been robbed at gunpoint twice, been punched in the face for looking “Jewish,” and I legally challenged and beat the draft. I was offered the job of lead sound engineer on a tour with Sly and the Family Stone, which I turned down. I put everything I owned in a VW microbus and moved to LA. Six months later, tail between my legs, I drove back in a first generation, 2-cylinder Honda car.

I have six fantastic children, six grandchildren, and my parents turned out to be right on most things. I play guitar, some keyboard, harmonica, and (shudder) accordion. I believe in both God and Jesus, but can not over-emphasize the intense spiritual catharsis I experienced reading the Bagivad Gita and The Upanishads. And still, we’re only touching the surface. All of these things are just what came to mind, and don’t even begin to indicate what a full and diverse life I feel I’ve had. I’m not finished yet – there’s still much more to experience. I see what comes my way as gifts, and I do not intend to waste them.

Outside of the personal relationships, none of this has come close to the life affirming revelation of hearing from the afterlife through EVP. Things paranormal seem to have somehow touched every sub-atomic spec of reality within me; taught me how to begin filling the gaps in living; allowed me to intellectually fathom the potential in eternity. Something just happened to me the day I truly realized that EVP was like hearing from the hereafter. It was as though nothing else could ever matter quite as much. Since then, for me, nothing else has so completely articulated the essence of humanity.

One single voice from beyond trumps every experience in a heartbeat. It teaches us that life is forever, and that the diversity of it proves every second of effort to be of tremendous value. Knowing that life continues ought to enhance our souls, and for me, it bestows new and significant ambition to the concept of our time on earth. A true believer in Chaos Theory, I am convinced that everything we do simply leads to the next, and that an eternity of living promises is nothing less than spectacular. A little melodramatic? Arrogant? Too much over too little? An EVP-crazed lunatic? Probably, but like I said at the beginning, I feel blessed, so a little passion seems in order. For those who live life and wonder “if that’s all there is,” my answer is always a resounding “Hell no!” You’ve only just started. All we have to do is listen.
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Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/

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/

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.

One Year Old Today!

Today The Voices Blog is one year old! Hats and horns are appropriate and all well-wishing is accepted. I sincerely hope everyone will be able to participate in the day’s festivities, beginning with a quick brunch on the third floor of Trans-Allegheny. There is free time until dinner, which will be highlighted by what I expect to be a rousing speech from President Theodore Roosevelt. Make certain you have your recorders ready.

Of course, the reality is that this will be a quiet celebration. I plan to get my hair trimmed, do some late morning EVP, have a Steak-Ums lunch, and begin work on the layout for a book Nick Missos and I plan to release soon. Sound like a fun day? And to think some of you actually have jobs. By the way, the book features original poetry with photos taken “undercover” at what shall remain an unnamed abandoned mental institution. Shameless plug, but I’m excited about it!

Sometimes I make stupid Top Ten lists when I’m annoyed or angry, and when it wears off, I throw the list away. I found one the other day that didn’t make it to the circular file, so it naturally qualifies as the perfect piece of mental self-gratification to share with the entire world. Here it is (unedited) – “Things That Should Be True About TV Paranormal Shows.”

– 1. Female ghosts should never wear white. Just sayin…
– 2. Every time an investigator says “we’re not here to harm you,” something should knock him down.
– 3. There should be no fist bumping at the end of Ghost Hunters episodes.
– 4. Paranormal teams should not pose for group photos that make them look like a stupid death metal band.
– 5. There should be an Ovulus equipped with the entire dictionary – 26 words is not enough.
– 6. It should only be a misdemeanor to investigate Eastern State or The Stanley on TV.
– 7. Bobo from Finding Bigfoot should have to put money in the jar every time he says “squatchy.”
– 8. Haunted Collector clients should embrace the haunting and refuse to fork over the priceless family heirlooms.
– 9. TV investigators should stop yelling at ghosts as though they were hard of hearing.
– 10. Why are paranormal shows considered reality television? Just askin…

When I started The Voices Blog, I didn’t think I could find enough interesting things to say, and actually I still don’t, but it’s been an enjoyable year just the same. Even added a “sister” blog – Voices Unplugged, so It must be true that time flies when you’re having fun. I know – bit of a cliche there. I’d like to use less of those, get more comments, improve my grammar, and find the perfect length per post. Well, there’s time to grow, I suppose.

I’ll just say “thank you” for your support. And for your interest. I love the fact that someone reads this stuff. Peace!

18 Hours Earlier…

A few days ago, I wrote about something I saw (re: “Description of an Apparition”), and I eluded to the fact that this was the second of two paranormal occurrences within 18 hours. Well, before I touch on what came first, let me just thank those of you who felt compelled to send me personal emails concerning the state of my sanity and (regrettably) my honesty. We have the mechanism in place here to comment and reply – why not use it as others do? Question my veracity publicly! Why not? I’d prefer it, and I’m certain others would love to see your comments. I mean, you might be right! Keep it clean, of course, but consider taking a more forthright approach and lay it out there – I can respect that.

Now on to business. I’ve stated many times that I plan on attempting to contact my deceased sister via EVP, but until the other day, there was precious little to report. A garbled word here, a low whisper there… I’ve been able to capture some references to her, and some interesting, but inconclusive comments that exhibit her personality. There seems to be a new spirit available on most sessions I’ve conducted, but there’s been nothing specific to allege, and I don’t enjoy making claims.

The other day, I decided to take a rather vexing problem directly to her. I talked to her about one of my children – just the way I would have before her death. I was stumped. You can imagine my surprise during playback, as each response seemed more lucid and apropos than the one before. It began with an announcement of her name. Not Margo (her given name), as I always referred to her, but Mimi – the nickname she gave herself. She also mentioned my child by name, something I had not done, and in two subsequent comments, told me exactly what she recommended I do to solve the situation.

I can’t tell you what she said, because it would embarrass my child – there was nothing generic about the situation I brought to her, and mentioning the specifics would violate a family trust. This was quite an explicit problem, and the responses I received were unmistakably fitting. With each response, I became increasingly aware that not only was I getting good advice from beyond the veil, but that there was a very good chance that I knew who was giving it.

I hate it when someone in my position makes all sorts of unsubstantiated claims about the arguable identity of an EVP voice. I cringe every time I find myself even tempted to do it. So much so, that even now I will stop short of making that claim. But I want to. Not only do I feel that my sister was the spirit responsible for the interaction, it was typically good advice! It sounded like her, used words the way she might, identified itself by name… What else do I need to label this as a conversation with Margo? Well, evidence I guess. Indisputable, unequivocal, undeniable, completely verifiable evidence!

All I know for certain is that there was an unexplainable voice that seemed to answer a set of questions. But deep down inside? Well, that’s another story, isn’t it? I was floored, and I’m fighting off the goosebumps still. I guess ya had to be there, ya know – how do you top that? Eighteen hours later, an partition appeared on my bed! Geez! What a day!

Description of an Apparition

The last 18 hours have been fascinating: two paranormal-like events! I will start with this one and tell you the other in a day or two.

It has been about an hour since I woke up to see an apparition standing on my bed. I had been asleep and dreaming, but the dream awakened me, and I was attempting to remember details; putting off the inevitable trip through the cold to the bathroom. I didn’t want to open my eyes, and after about 2 minutes I felt someone climb on the bed. I first thought it was my daughter, but the sensation was that of a lighter person, so I assumed it was my granddaughter.

I waited for her to speak, and when she didn’t, I begrudgingly opened my eyes. Instead of a 45 pound 7-year old, there was a tall, sharply-formed, dark person. He was about 5 feet tall, was wearing a nearly black jumpsuit, and his left arm (stretched out in front of him) was parallel to the plane of the bed. The jumpsuit was creased in a way that indicated pressing, but there were no parts of his body visible. He did not have a head, his feet were buried in the stomach of my wife, and his outstretched hand seemed to blend into the long sleeves.

I had opened my eyes without moving my body, so I thought perhaps he was not aware that I was watching. It also occurred to me that without the slight light creeping through the nearby window, he would possibly have looked like a shadow. And then, after about 3 seconds, he put down his arm as though finished, and he was gone. He seemed to break apart; to dissolve into the air as we often see in movies – digitally and very quickly, but in pieces; as though in small clumps of pixels. The difference is that he was not flat and projection-like – he appeared solid, and his dissolving was three-dimensional in appearance.

He was less than three feet away from me, and I was not asleep or groggy, or disoriented. I realize many people will suggest this visitation was trickery of the mind, or a classic case of confusion – something else; various other nonsense. It was as I saw it, and I was fully aware. I knew what it was the moment I opened my eyes. I knew some of what it wasn’t. I checked my wife, got out of bed, walked through the entire house, and sat down to write this. And now, there are questions.

Considered Easy

Paranormal people are supposed to be skeptical. That’s the company line, and it always has been. We just accept it, and for the most part, it makes sense. Everything we don’t immediately understand can not be labeled “paranormal” – mostly because we’d be wrong, but also because we want to know the truth. Truth requires unsusceptible validation. Accepting every bump in the night, or shadow in the dark as an other worldly expression is just too cozy an answer; too easy, and since when have human beings ever been considered easy?

Our religions are insane – even on a good day, and everyone thinks their’s is the true one. Our politics is crazy as well. Forget the dictators and the megalomaniacs – even the planet’s glorious democracies are riddled with nonsense, stupidity and hypocrisy. Inter-personal relationships are a crap shoot at best. All you have to do is observe most marriages, and the horror should make the point for me. Not very much about the human condition seems easy for an excellent reason. It just isn’t.

Faith and belief are frequently comfortable situations – they don’t require much from us, and allow us to accept without reason. They speak to our humanity quite effectively, but they make us lazy and neither represent universal concepts – one man’s faith is another’s call to arms. We seem able to believe in almost anything – often to the exclusion of common sense or without a reasonable parsing of clear facts. Can you imagine investigating the paranormal with only faith and belief in your equipment bag? Skepticism absolutely has its place – especially if it’s informed and enlightened enough to fuel study and research.

But every once in awhile we have to give in to our human frailty. Sometimes, we have to believe. We need it, and resisting can lessen our chances of seeing the truth when it presents itself. For instance, It’s easy to insist that an EVP is a recording aberration no matter how loud or clear it is; simple, because all you have to do is refuse to believe. There is nothing to prove the voice in question is paranormal; there’s as much support that it is not. Without belief, we must decide that what we hear on a recorder is never the voice of a spirit – only a technological mistake. By refusing to believe, we render spirit as completely non-existent. What will we learn from that?

There will never be a way to guarantee a correct paranormal diagnosis as long as the the skeptic and the believer in us remain separate. Staunch skepticism will always win the day because the cry for proof can never be answered – no proof is possible. No “one and one is two” in the paranormal; no sun setting in the west. It will never matter what we experience – verifiable proof will always be lacking.

But we have never been satisfied with a two-dimensional acceptance of only those things that are provable, so why do we insist it be so with the paranormal? Being able to appropriately mix a little belief into the recipe allows us to understand more fully – multi-dimensionally, no matter how untenable it makes us feel. It requires courage to believe; even greater fortitude to know when to stop. By refusing to believe at all, we can never learn the whole truth – only the easy truth. And since when have human beings ever been considered easy?

Stupid

Okay! I’m gonna try to keep this brief, because frankly, if I say too much I’ll just look stupid. Occasionally, you run across EVP that do that to you – they make you look and feel stupid! Maybe dumb is a better word, or uninformed, incapable, ineffectual, or even reactionary. I don’t know. I was recording around a small child, and doing things the way I do them – pulling out clips of suspicious sounding, possible voices. You know! Hopeful EVP.

I usually don’t return to the clips until I’ve listened to the original file exhaustively, and I had labeled this clip “male voice,” expecting to figure it out later. When I went back to sink my teeth into the thing, no matter how many times I re-listened, it kept saying, “Jesus is close. Forget about him.” I know. I know! But I can’t just ignore it. I can’t pretend it didn’t freak me out. I know the color had to drain from my face; I could feel that weird sensation of warmth and tingling combined. It felt exactly like that time I completely erased my hard drive. It was the same feeling I had seeing my deceased father standing in the hall. Oh, who am I kidding – it’s impossible to explain.

I just felt stupid. Was this voice talking to me, the child, or to someone else I couldn’t see? Was this one of those subliminal attempts to alter behavior? Was it someone “negative” attempting to lure the toddler away from Jesus? Was the voice telling a spirit friend to leave us alone because the boss was coming? It could have been telling us to stop messing around and pay attention to The Lord’s entrance. He might as well have said, “Drop everything. There’s a Beatles reunion in the bedroom!” You’d pay attention to that, right? I mean, come on, when you hear a spirit say, “Jesus is close,” you listen up.

There are so many different ways to interpret what those words could mean, but that could never be a throw-away phrase. Forget the fact that you might not even believe in Jesus – the name Itself definitely ups the ante, and automatically heightens the emotional response. Of course, there’s also a chance that the spirit just decided to freak me out. Well, that worked, didn’t it? Regardless of how many different possible meanings one could attach to this simple statement, it definitely freaked me out.

But that’s how it is with EVP, isn’t it? Just when you least expect it, there’s a controversy of some kind. You’re totally convinced that you know exactly what the voice is saying, and someone else comes along and throws the proverbial wet blanket on the fire. You’re positive that you’ve heard something earth-shattering, but no one else is impressed. A key word could actually be several different words – each one changing the meaning completely. EVP can be very frustrating despite the fact that they’re also such a pure blessing.

So what am I going to do with this “Jesus is close” comment? I don’t know! I suppose eventually I’ll decide what it means to me – I’ll take my best guess. It’s conceivable that I’ll file it away somewhere and re-listen several months later. Who knows, maybe then it will sound like something different, but as for today, I just feel stupid. Stupid because of how I reacted, stupid because I can’t decide what it means, and stupid because I love every minute of it. I do, you know – every last, freaked out minute of it.