Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cthulhu Rising!

Source: Deviant Art by DaShadeE
H.P. Lovecraft would be proud; his iconic horror creation, Cthuhlu, is still as relevant today as it was in 1928!  One example is a beautiful digitally altered photographic art piece that happens to be fooling quite a few people...

This photo is making its rounds on social media.  I saw it shared on a popular Facebook group with the description that it was taken on Interstate 40 (in Tennessee) heading toward Pigeon Forge.  It managed to fool even a staff member of an education based, scientifically-minded Facebook group, who suggested that the image was simple pareidolia.

In reality, this work was created by DeviantArt user, DaShadeE.  It is entitled Cthulhu Rising and is a digital alteration of a normal digital photograph.  In fact, the artist admits finding the original photo on Google Images and believes its from an area near Sophia, Bulgaria.

By sharing this image and mentioning the incident with the Facebook group staff member, I don't mean to put down anyone or poke fun at them. Rather, I hope to use that information as an educational springboard.  I instantly recognized this photo as a digital manipulation, not because of any technical analysis but simply because of my familiarization with the Cthulhu story and H.P. Lovecraft.  Arguably, such Lovecraftian works aren't everyone's cup of tea, but the Cthulhu mythos is a pretty widespread part of pop culture, or so I thought.  That's why I personally think that a working knowledge of pop culture, as well as history, art, literature, film, etc. is almost as important to a paranormal researcher as the basic stuff, such as scientific theory and knowledge of paranormal concepts.  To illustrate this point, I previously wrote a blog about the importance of cinematic research...and even though it sounds sort of facetious (and it is, lol) its also interesting to note that it was someone with a strong familiarization of horror movies that debunked the popular Skin Walker photo that was all over the place awhile back!

This photo also offers an example of a little research trick that anyone analyzing potentially paranormal photos needs to understand.  The reverse-image search from Google is an absolute life-safer!  You can actually take any photo that you find on the web, including those on Facebook, and either upload it, drag and drop it, or put in its url into Google Images and find other pages that have posted that photo.  This is a great tool to find out where an image came from and whether or not the story posted with it is true.  I've provided a couple of tutorial links on how to use this tool, but a little practice and patience is needed to really make the most of it.

Google Reverse-Image Links:
Wiki-How
Google Support Page
5 Ways to Use Reverse Image Search

Friday, January 30, 2015

6 Cute and Spooky Tattoos

It's not a well known fact, but I do have quite a few tattoos...and a handful of those tattoos are spooky/Halloween-y in nature.  However, I don't have any GHOST tattoos!  For several years I've seriously pondered correcting that little oversight, but before I invest the money in a new piece of body art portraying such an important part of my life, I want to make sure I choose the best representation.  I lean toward the cutesy stuff, but prefer very simple lines.  Here are a few of the cute examples I found while browsing---I still haven't found THE ONE yet, but these are too cool not to share!


I'm definitely digging the graveyard scene!

From Pinterest


Boo. Boo y'all, boo.  Look at his little ghost arms tucked behind his back!  He looks like he got caught with his phantom hand in the ethereal cookie jar.

Source


I love the little heart and the sweet expression on this guy's face, but he's a tad too Klannish looking for my tastes.

Source

OMG! The sunglasses are killing me!  They call him the Ghost Bro, lol. 

Source

I like this little guy, but I'd probably pick a different phrase (or no phrase).  Plus, Hilary Duff has this tattoo...is that weird?

Source



How cute is the face on this little guy?!  I'm not necessarily digging the dotted outline, though. 

From Pinterest
So there ya have it---six adorable little ghost tattoos!  I didn't find one that was perfect for me, but I had a fun time browsing through plenty of examples and I hope you enjoyed it, too.  Feel free to share this list with your friends, and be sure to check out my blog post on Chicago's Old Town Tatu, America's most famous haunted tattoo parlour.  Stay spooky!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Houston's Haunted Zoo

Ever since I wrote the blog post on the phantom lioness of the Cincinnati Zoo, I've been intrigued with the idea of haunted zoos.   You wouldn't believe how many zoos throughout the United States have ghost stories attached to them, but none seem as mysterious as the haunting of the Houston Zoo.

The Houston Zoo is located on the grounds of Hermann Park, and has been at this location since 1922 after the need for a larger facility to house additional animals was decided upon.  With this new location came a new employee:  Hans Nagel.  It is believed that Nagel was born in Germany in 1892.  As the son of a military officer, he was sent at a young age to Officer Training School.  However, the military life was not in the cards for Nagel; he went AWOL and literally jumped off a ship, only to be rescued by an animal collector working with Hagenback Gardens.  Nagel had found his calling and quickly learned the animal training trade.

His journey to America and specifically to Texas is a shady one, but the important this is, he made it and was quickly given employment with the Houston Zoo.  Nagel was a showman; his lion-taming feats, among other amazing shows, were constantly featured in newsreels and publications of the day, bringing in numerous guests to the now-thriving zoo.

Before long, Nagel was made head keeper/director of the facility, and it was a job he took very seriously.  He was known to patrol the grounds of the zoo with his 9mm Luger pistol, keeping it safe from intruders...and the occasional rogue animal.  The city of Houston once awarded Nagel a gold medal for shooting to death a Bengal tiger that was attacking one of the zoo officials.  The city also awarded Nagel a commissions as a special police for the zoo.

That distinction was pulled from Nagel in 1929 by Mayor Walter Monteith on the recommendation of the City Park Commission over issues that Nagel was abusing his authority.  But, a lack of title wasn't going to stop Nagel from protecting his beloved zoo.  Unfortunately, six bullets would.

Hans is on the left
On a Monday afternoon in November of 1941, a police officer patrolling the area of the zoo noticed Nagel hiding in some bushes, spying on a car of teenagers.  The officer asked the teens if they knew they were being watched, which was an obvious 'no.'  The officer then attempted to handcuff Nagel and bring him to the station to discuss the matter of jurisdiction.  At this point, things get a little sketchy.  Nagel apparently resisted arrest, and the officer claims he went for that famous Luger pistol he always kept at his side.  Before he could reach the pistol, the officer shot Nagel six times, killing him.  The officer was acquitted on the grounds of self-defense.

Those six bullets may have stopped Nagel's body, but even they couldn't stop his spirit.  Many believe he is still keeping a watchful eye over his zoo.  Unexplained occurrences have been noted in the Denton A. Cooley Animal Hospital, but the majority of ghostly activity is associated with the Commissary building.  The Commissary is where all the food for the animals is stored and prepared.  Staff reporting to work in the building between 5 and 6 am have reported hearing voices and seeing the shadowy figure of a man walking around.  The ghost stories are such an integral part of the zoo's history that they are extensively covered in the zoo's official blog.  Further, amateur ghost hunters on staff at the zoo routinely take turns spending the night in the building in hopes of collecting evidence of Nagel's presence.  So far, a couple of really good EVPs have been caught (which can be heard on the link below) but I personally think they sound like a woman's voice.

But why would Hans choose the haunt the Commissary, a building that wasn't even built at the time of his death?  Zoo staff believe they have solved that mystery; according to police reports, Nagel was shot "about 300 feet from the Outer Belt Road and on a gravel road leading West to East."  When they compared old maps of the zoo, they found that this area coincides with the current location of the Commissary building.

Sources:

Official Houston Zoo Blog

Houston Chronicle article by Craig Hlavaty

Houston Museum District


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Book Review for Haunted Lewisburg West Virginia

Title: Haunted Lewisburg West Virginia
Authors: Nancy Richmond, Tammy Workman, and Misty Murray Walkup
Published: 2011
Amazon Info
Also available on Kindle!

Haunted Lewisburg is an awesome collection of ten haunted locations in Lewisburg, WV.  This historic town, voted the Coolest Small Town in America in 2011, may not cover many square miles, but its definitely packed with plenty of haunted buildings, cemeteries, and even streets.

This is actually the second book from the authors that I've read; back in 2012 I read and reviewed Ghosts of Greenbrier County which focused on the whole county where Lewisburg is located.  I thoroughly enjoyed that book, and was not disappointed with this one either.  In fact...I think I may like it even better!  Like Ghosts of Greenbrier County, Haunted Lewisburg was well-written and accentuated with beautiful, full-page color photos of the haunted locations.  However, while Ghosts of Greenbrier featured a variety of stories, both personal and public, Haunted Lewisburg really focused on ten locations that are easily accessible to the public, but also to paranormal investigators.  In fact, in some cases, the results of paranormal investigations of these locations are included.

I was also surprised that even though there are a few overlaps in locations between the two books, there wasn't an issue of repeated, copy-and-paste information that I've seen with other local authors.  Haunted Lewisburg really fleshed out the information behind these locations, and provided plenty of updated information on the hauntings.  My only problem was that this book was too short!

If you're looking for a quick read and are interested in the ghostly folklore of West Virginia, pick this book up today! It is another must-have for any tri-state paranormal investigator as well.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Jiangshi

From The World of Chinese: A Chinese Ghost Primer
I recently watched a really awesome documentary on Netflix called Doc of the Dead.  This film is an excellent look at the evolution of the zombie film, and the effect of such on popular culture.  Early in the film, people off the street are being interviewed about their thoughts on zombies and a young Chinese couple share some interesting cultural information about zombies that...hop.

The creature in question is called a Jiangshi, a word that literally translates to stiff corpse.  The corpse is so stiff that it cannot bend its legs and walk like you and me.  Instead, with its legs locked rigidly and its arms straight out in front of it, it furiously HOPS after its victims, not stopping until it has succeeded in sucking the victim's life force dry!

Sometimes referred to as a vampire and sometimes referred to as a zombie, but always described as a reanimated corpse, the Jiangshi was first mentioned by Ji Xiaolan of the Qing Dynasty.  It is believed that the Jiangshi legends originated with a folk belief concerning the burial of those who died many miles from their ancestral homes.  If proper transportation could not be afforded by the family to bring the body home, they could hire a Taoist priest who could teach the reanimated corpse to HOP its way home under the cover of night.  Supposedly, this myth has some historic ties as many young people in one of China's many provinces would leave to work elsewhere.  If they died away from home, their bodies were carried back in a bamboo contraption carried by two men; as the body was carried along the route, the bamboo would flex, and it would appear as if the body were hopping up and down by itself.

You can spot a Jiangshi by its furry greenish white moldy skin, and its penchant for wearing the traditional garb of a Qing Dynasty official. Also present is the mystical tag attached to the creature's forehead. And, if heaven forbid you actually find yourself being pursued by one, there are a host of ways to scare it off, including swords made of peach wood, the blood of a black dog and your garden-variety broom, among others!

Source: Wikipedia




Monday, January 26, 2015

Kith Haven Wheelchair Ghost


Today's ghost photo is sometimes referred to as either the Wheelchair Ghost or the Nursing Home Ghost.  It first appeared a couple of years ago on About.com's Paranormal Photos page and according to the person submitting it, it was taken on November 23, 2012 in the basement of the Kith Haven Assisted Living Facility in Flint, Michigan.

Allegedly, an employee working in the basement actually saw the apparition with her own eyes, and the ethereal gentleman was kind enough to stay put long enough for her to grab her cell phone and take a picture.  Unfortunately for the paranormal world, this is another image that is just too good to be true.  It is simply one in a long list of spooky photographs created with the help of a cell phone application that adds in a fake ghost image to one's own pictures.                                                                                                     


This particular ghost app is the Ghost Cam, published by Nightinart and is available for Android phones and devices.  The awesome website, Bust That Ghost, which is working on a comprehensive database of ghost app images has provided the image and app information.                                                                                                                     
Obviously, this image pulled from the menu of the Ghost Cam app is pretty proof-positive that the image was fraudulently created...but seriously, just the description that accompanied the photo on About.com is enough to cause serious doubt: 

"This photo was sent to my friend and co-worker. He received it from his ex-wife. Her cousin took it. She said she was working in the basement of the home and was walking quickly between rooms when she noticed something from the corner of her eye.  She stepped back and it was right there---and stayed there---while she took the photo with her phone! She was amazed to see the image in the center of the hall---could not believe it was real!"

So, you've got the photo being shared by someone who is three times removed from the actual photographer and the revelation that a cell phone camera was used.  I'm guessing this case follows the same pattern as so many other ghost app images---someone was playing a prank on someone else and sent them the altered photo with a bogus story.  That person, in turn, shares it with all of his/her friends who share it with their friends, each time adding a little more to the back story and not realizing that this was a simple joke.






Sunday, January 25, 2015

Faces of Waverly Hills


I've posted this video before on Theresa's Haunted History Facebook page, but I thought it deserved a more permanent homage here on the blog.  The first time I saw this video, I completely fell in love with it.  As you all know, I am obviously drawn to the historic research aspect of paranormal investigation.  In addition to the history, I'm drawn to the human element behind the hauntings.  In each case, no matter how small or how big, I think we need to get to know the people behind a suspected haunting, give them the respect and recognition they deserve, and honor their memories.  So much bad is associated with Waverly Hills--this video does an excellent job showing the role the institution played in so many peoples' lives, including happier times.


This video was posted to Youtube on March 2, 2014 by kingzimage.  In the description, he notes that these photos are from a period between 1922 and 2008.  The photos and video came from a variety of sources, from internet research, to family photos from the Mattingly's, and even footage taken by the Youtube user himself.  The music is 'Any Other Name' from American Beauty