Friday, June 28, 2013

Supernatural Friday: Zombies Never Came From George Romero

Zombies are a term some reporter titled the ghouls in George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead." The zombie and the horror movie were married very early in the history of films. In fact, the 1932 movie, “White Zombie” which stared Bela Lugosi pretty much type cast the zombie as a movie monster.
Interestingly enough, zombies actually come from the Congo and not Benin where Voodoo comes from. The word, “nbzambi” refers to their primary sprit and/or refers to one’s soul. When the Trans-Atlantic slave trade mixed peoples from all over the African Atlantic Coast, the zombie found a new home in Voodoo.

Four kinds of zombies are in Voodoo; the Great Spirit, the Spiritual Soul, the Herbal Zombie, and the Bargained Zombie.

Li Grand Zombi: this is the snake spirit in Voodoo given the Congolese name for the same principal entity. The snake used by Marie Laveau in New Orleans was said to have been called “li grand zombi.” The Louisiana mud snake used in rituals is sometimes called “ouncongo.”

Now, that familiar living dead zombie of movie familiarity has two versions, one is spiritual and the other, chemical.

Spiritual Zombie: this follows an African belief that a person has two souls. One is called the Great Angle. The other one is called the Little Angle. When a person dies, the Great Angle immediately knows the person is dead and departs the body. The Little Angle, on the other hand, takes about three days to realize the body is dead (this seems to be close to how when someone passes away, it takes three days usually before they are buried. During that time, a witchdoctor may invoke the Congolese Ghédé spirit to reach the Little Angle and cause it to believe the body is not dead. The corpse is reanimated, using the Little Angle as a motor.

Herbal Zombie: The West Africans were master chemists in use of herbs and poisons.  To make a zombie chemically, it was necessary to cause the victim to have the appearance of death, then apply an antidote to revive them. The basic poison comes from the common blowfish. Dried and powdered, it is a nerve poison, and is applied mainly in one’s shoes, surreptitiously, and absorbed through the sweet glands in the feet. The poison inhibits the natural conductivity of the nervous system and causes the body to atrophy and look decreased.  This phase completes the deception of death. In the second phase the antidote, a paste from the seedpod of the angle’s trumpet flower is applied. The seedpod contains two types of active ingredients. The first is atropine to counteracts the nerve poisoning. The second is a hallucinogenic that causes both amnesia and disorientation. The final result is a person who appeared to have died, is resurrected, and is now mentally incoherent, but physically functional. A form of control.

In Haiti, which is most closely associated with the resurrected zombie, it is considered a fate worse than death to become a zombie. A zombie is supposedly an immortal slave. To become a zombie is considered a great catastrophe and a terrible fear far worse than death.

Bargained Zombie: This is a voluntary arrangement in which the volunteer bargains to have his lesser soul exorcised and keep by a Voodoo Queen. Due to this arrangement, the Voodoo Queen can protect and give advantages to the volunteer. At some point, the volunteer has to surrender the rest of his soul. This usually occurs when the Voodoo Queen dies, and is no longer able to protect the volunteer. The classic example of this the case of Jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton and his godmother, Voodoo Queen, Eulalie Hécaud.

Rougarou: Ah, this creature was used a monster of the week in a “Supernatural’ episode. There’s a swamp creature in Louisiana that is half man, half beast. It is a strong figure in Cajun folklore. Like a zombie, he is often the product of the manipulation of a deceased soul by a witchdoctor.  Although the legends of the rougarou are closely related to European werewolf tales, there are several distinctions between the European werewolf, the French loup-garou, and the night lurking, bayou-wandering creature called the rougarou. Yes, like the French loup garou (werewolf), it often has red eyes and is usually nocturnal. But just like a zombie, it is deathly afraid of frogs. 

A person who encounters the rougarou draws one or three drops of blood, that person then has the spell, and from there, the tale can be either light or dark. In the darker tale, usually the person who encounters the rougarou commits suicide. The darker tale is almost always associated with a person who told of the encounter in less than a year. According to local stories printed in several sources in the Ellender Memorial Library archives, these animals roam the streets at night. They antagonize wandering people until they attack it, stabbing or shooting it. At the first drop of blood the animal will return to its human form. The rougarou will tell the attacker who he is.  Often the rougarou is someone the witness knows or has heard of. The rougarou usually tells the witness if he informs others of this encounter within one year and a day, he too will become a rougarou.
This popular folklore creature is often used to scare small kids into good behavior. The term rougarou has even become so popular in south Louisiana that it has evolved into a descriptive adjective, "rougarouing," used to describe a person who runs around or stays up late at night. The annual Rougarou ball on deep Bayou Goula happens every St. John’s Eve and is real.  

Monday, June 24, 2013

Check Out my Radio Interview at Midnight This Saturday on Angel's Asylum!


Angels Asylum

Anything and everything! We may have a topic like anything scarrryyy or we might just talk about what's going on so join me every Saturday night at Midnight est!

I'll be doing a radio interview this Saturday, June 29th on Angel's Asylum from midnight to 12:30 a.m. (the show has a chatroom that opens at 11:30 p.m.) Call-in number: 1-310-807-5159.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Supernatural Friday: "A Ghost By Any Other Name is a GHOST!"

"A Ghost By Any Other Name is a GHOST!" 

Slithering through the ether
A breath of cool breeze,
Or something else.
It haunts corners of deserted buildings
A lost soul, or demonic thing.
Sometimes, they are like radio,
Repeating endlessly over and over.
Other times, they communicate.
Move objects and appear to us.
Ghosts, specters, phantoms,
Orbs, apparitions, reverent,
Haint, shade, shadow person,
So many descriptions, so many names.
Doesn’t matter;
Haunting is what they do!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Supernatural Friday: Happy Haunting. . .I Mean Reading!


It's Friday and I've been ill past couple of days.  So today, I will go easy on myself. Since World Horror Convention is going on this weekend in New Orleans and it's summer and many libraries will be doing summer reading, where you read at most ten books and turn in you did so for a prize, maybe even to help buy bag of foo for a animal shelter, or something else.

Horror books are a good beach read or to read indoors in the AC. With Stephen King's novel,  Under the Dome coming as a TV minseries end of this month, might be a good time to attempt to read it before hand. Or numerous other books.

What is horror? Horror fiction, horror literature and also horror fantasy is a genre of literature, which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten its readers, scare or startle viewers/readers by inducing feelings of horror and terror. It creates an eerie and frightening atmosphere. Horror can be either supernatural or non-supernatural. Often the central menace of a work of Horror fiction can be interpreted as a metaphor for the larger fears of a society. The genre has ancient origins which were reformulated in the 18th century as Gothic horror, with publication of the Castle of Otranto (1764) by Horace Walpole.

So, see you can even take on the old classics. Like Dracula by Bram Stoker, H P. Lovecraft’s tales, those scary tales by Edgar Allan Poe, Shirley Jackson ghost story, The Haunting of Hill House, and many others.

Right now, I am reading NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son).  I am reading
Reliquary, sequel to Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. What are you reading, or what other scary books are you planning to read this summer? Leave a comment, so others can find these great reads in their local library or at their bookstore or an online estore.

Happy Haunting. . .I mean Reading!


Friday, June 07, 2013

Supernatural Friday: Vacationing in the Bermuda Triangle May Not Be a Good Idea

The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle is in the Caribbean area. This is the area where planes, ships and people have vanished. In almost every account of the mystery surrounding the Bermuda Triangle, you'll see reference to the fact that it is one of only two places on Earth (the other being the Devil's Sea off the coast of Japan) where a compass points to true north rather than magnetic north. Theorists say that this causes compasses to malfunction and ships and planes to get off-course. It’s not on any official map and you won't know when you cross the line. The Bermuda Triangle is located off the Southeastern coast of the United States in the Atlantic Ocean, with its apexes in the vicinities of Bermuda, Miami, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. It covers roughly 500,000 square miles. Since a magazine first coined the phrase "Bermuda Triangle" in 1964, the mystery has continued to attract attention. Digging deeper into most cases, one finds most have viable explanations. Either they were never in the area to begin with, they were actually found, or there's a reasonable explanation for their disappearance.

Does this mean that there aren’t unexplained disappearances? Scientists have documented deviations from the norm in the area and have found some interesting formations on the seafloor within the Bermuda Triangle's boundaries. Many think of the Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle, as an "imaginary" area. The U. S. Board of Geographic Names does not recognize the Bermuda Triangle and does not maintain an official file on it. However, within this imaginary area, many real vessels and the people aboard them have disappeared without explanation. The area may have been named after its Bermuda apex since Bermuda was once known as the "Isle of Devils." Treacherous reefs that have ensnared ships sailing too close to its shores surround Bermuda, and there are hundreds of shipwrecks in the waters that surround it. The past 100 years, there have been a lot of occurrences. The U.S. Coast Guard says there’s hasn’t. Who is telling the truth?

It was in 1975 that Mary Margaret Fuller, editor of "Fate" magazine, contacted Lloyd's of London for statistics on insurance payoffs for incidents occurring within the Bermuda Triangle's usually accepted boundaries. According to Lloyd's records, 428 vessels were reported missing throughout the world between 1955 and 1975. I am sure more have been reported since to the 21st century.  Th­ere appeared to be no greater incidence of events occurring in the Bermuda Triangle than anywhere else in the world.

Gian J. Quasar, author of "Into the Bermuda Triangle: Pursuing the Truth Behind the World's Greatest Mystery" and curator of, argues that this report "is completely false." His claim is that Lloyd’s of London does not insure yachts and neither, private planes or charter boats. He requested data on overdue vessels. He gotten records of 300 missing/overdue vessels for around to years before the date he asked. Whether those vessels returned or not is unknown. His Web site has a list of these vessels.

The mystery of the Triangle took hold with the first famous disappearance of five Navy Avengers who disappeared in 1945. The cause of the disappearance was tabbed "pilot error," but family members of the pilot leading the mission couldn't accept that he had made such a mistake. They got the Navy to change it to "causes or reasons unknown."
Reporter E.V.W. Jones compiled a list of "mysterious disappearances" of ships and planes between the Florida coast and Bermuda. It was two years later, that George X. Sand wrote an article for "Fate Magazine." "Sea Mystery at our Back Door,” was about a series of strange marine disappearances, each leaving no trace at all, that have taken place in the past few years" in a "watery triangle bounded roughly by Florida, Bermuda and Puerto Rico. In 1964, "Argosy Magazine" gave the triangle its name in an article titled "The Deadly Bermuda Triangle" by Vincent Gaddis. More articles, books, and movies have appeared, suggesting theories ranging from alien abductions to a giant octopus.

Now some of the disappearances blamed on the Triangle weren’t near the area. One was the famous Mary Celeste from 1872. This was a yacht found floating on the sea, no one on board. Everything exactly as they had left it. Though blamed on the Triangle, it has been found hundreds of miles away. To this day, there have been books about it, even a chilling children's book,  The Mary Celeste: An Unsolved Mystery from History by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple.

Other disappearances have no explanations, while some do. Like the U.S.S. Cyclops during WWI. The ship served along the eastern coast of the United States until January 9, 1918. At that time, she was assigned to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service and was scheduled to sail to Brazil to refuel British ships in the southern part of the Atlantic. She set out from Rio de Janeiro on February 16. But after she stopped in Barbados from March 3 to 4, the ship was never seen or heard from again. All 306 passengers and crew had vanished—no trace, no reason.

The next happened to be the most famous Bermuda Triangle mystery of the five missing Navy Avengers of Flight 19 in 1945. The story of Flight 19 is usually summarized this way: a routine patrol set out on a sunny day with five highly experienced student pilots. Suddenly, the tower began receiving transmissions from the flight leader that they were lost, compasses were not working, and "everything looked wrong." Never seen again, extensive Navy investigations turned up no clues to explain the disappearance.

Lieutenant Charles C. Taylor led the mission, which included several planned course changes. They departed at 1:15 p.m. on December 5, 1945. At 3:00 p.m., Lieutenant Robert F. Cox was flying over Fort Lauderdale, Florida when he heard a signal that he thought was from a boat or plane in distress. He called Operations at the Naval Air Station to report. He told Taylor to fly with the sun at his left wing and up the coast until he hit Miami. Taylor answered that they soared over a small island and they saw no other land in sight. If he was over the Keys as he had said, however, he should have seen several islands as well as the Florida peninsula.

With less than two hours' flying time until they ran out of fuel, Taylor described a large island to Operations. Assuming this was Andros Island, the largest in the Bahamas, Operations sent Taylor a heading that would take him to Fort Lauderdale. Apparently this heading was correct, because once Flight 19 assumed the new course, Taylor's voice began coming in stronger over the radio. Taylor, however, didn't believe this course was right and after a few minutes said that they "didn't go far enough east. Turn around again and go east. We should have a better chance of being picked up closer to shore." With this move, transmissions began to weaken as they flew out of radio range in the wrong direction. For unknown reasons, Taylor ignored the standard flying procedure of flying west if over water and east if over land. Two PBM-5 Mariner seaplanes went out to search the area, but one exploded soon after takeoff. The other never located Flight 19.

Another story concerned the S.S. Marine Sulphur Queen, a tanker bound for Norfolk, Virginia from Beaumont, Texas. It carried 15,000 tons of molten sulfur in heated tanks. Last communication took place on Feb. 3, 1963, when its captain radioed a routine position report. The message placed her near Key West in the Florida Straits. She never reached Virginia.

Three days after the position report, Coast Guard searchers found a single life jacket floating 40 miles southwest of the tanker's last known position. It's likely that leaking sulfur may have caused an explosion. Escaping sulfur gas could have poisoned the crew and prevented them from sending a distress call. Officers on a Honduran banana boat reported to the Coast Guard that their freighter ran into a strong, acrid odor 15 miles off Cape San Antonia, the western tip of Cuba, just before dawn on February 3.

The area known for being infested with sharks and barracuda, not surprising that no bodies had ever been found. The U.S. Coast Guard History Archive lists the following items found from the Sulphur Queen: two pieces of board bearing the name of the ship, eight life jackets (some with rips believed caused by sharks’ teeth), five life rings, a shirt, one piece of oar, a oil can, a gasoline can, a cone buoy and a fog horn.

It was on a clear night in 1965 that a seasoned flying crew from the Air Force Reserve Command's 440th Airlift Wing flew from Milwaukee on way to Grand Turk Island in the Bahamas. They landed as scheduled at Homestead Air Force Base in Florida at 5:04 p.m. and spent two hours and 43 minutes on the ground. They took off at 7:47 p.m. and flew south to the Bahamas. They never reached their destination. No indication of trouble and only routine radio communication. When they didn't land, radio traffic controllers started calling Plane 680. No response. A few scraps of debris were found, and those could have been tossed out of the cargo plane. Among those on board was an expert maintenance crew, so any problem, they could fix it. There never has been any explanation for the disappearance of Plane 680.

The Triangle has the highest UFO sightings. Good reason for the theory of alien abductions. But abductions aren't the only theory; some also have theorized that the Bermuda Triangle area is a portal to other planets. It is also believed that this area is home to the lost city of Atlantis and remnants of its advanced technologies. Famous psychic Edgar Cayce said that Atlantis had many modern-day technologies, including a death ray weapon, which he claims ultimately destroyed the city. There are those who say that the people who lived there were an alien race from the Pleiades star cluster. Cayce predicted that researchers would discover the western edge of Atlantis near the coast of Bimini, in the Bahamas. A road of stones was found there in 1968. The initial researchers and archeologists who studied the site, known as the "Bimini Road," put it down as a natural occurrence. Later investigations found evidence that supports the idea that the stones were shaped and placed there as a wall. The additional finding of a possible underwater city near Cuba adds fuel to the fire for those supporting the Atlantis idea.

According to legend and speculation, the city of Atlantis relied on the power of special energy crystals that were extremely powerful. Cayce supported this idea, and the discovery of a great underwater pyramid and crystal by Dr. Ray Brown in 1970 reinforced it. Scuba diving in the Bahamas, Dr. Brown said he found a large pyramid made of mirror-like stone. He entered it and saw a brassy metallic rod with a multi-faceted red gem hanging from the apex of the room. Directly below this rod was a stand with bronze hands that held a crystal sphere four inches in diameter. Brown removed the crystal, keeping it secret until 1975. Then he exhibited it at a psychic seminar in Phoenix, Arizona. He claimed that when one gazed into the crystal form, three pyramidal images are seen, one in front of the other with each decreasing in size. Some people reported to have seen a fourth pyramid in front of the other three after entering into deep meditative states.

The Fog: A Never Before Published Theory of the Bermuda Triangle Phenomenon by Rob MacGregor and Bruce Gernon talks of an "electronic fog" that both men experienced while flying in the Bermuda Triangle. Gernon and his father flew to Bimini on December 4, 1970. The skies were clear. Suddenly, they saw a strange cloud with almost perfectly round edges hovering over the Miami shore. As they flew over it, the cloud began spreading out, matching or exceeding their speed. They thought they escaped it at 11,500 feet, but only to discover that it had formed a tunnel. It seemed that was the only way they could escape it, so they went through the tunnel. Once inside, they saw lines on the walls that spun in a counterclockwise direction. Gernon's navigational instruments went haywire. The compass spun counterclockwise. Gernon reported that he "realized that something very bizarre had happened. Instead of the clear blue sky that we expected at the end of the tunnel, everything appeared a dull, grayish white. Visibility appeared to be about two miles, except nothing to see. Neither ocean, horizon, sky, only a gray haze.

When Gernon contacted Miami Air Traffic Control to get radar identification, the controller said that there were no planes on radar between Miami, Bimini, and Andros. Several minutes later, Gernon heard the air traffic controller acknowledge that a plane had been spotted directly over Miami. Gernon didn't think he could possibly be over Miami Beach, because it usually took 75 minutes to get to Miami and only 47 minutes had passed. The cloud tunnel began to peel away ribbons of fog. The instruments return to normal and as he looked down, Gernon spotted Miami Beach below. Loss of time was  confirmed by their watches and the plane's clock. Gernon believe that the electronic fog had time travel qualities. He experienced the fog one more time when he flew with his wife. Other pilots claimed to have similar experiences in the area. Gernon believed powerful electromagnetic storms from within the Earth break through the surface and come into the atmosphere where they soon disappear, leaving the strange electronic fog. A Swedish scientist has said that magnetism is weaker in the triangle than anywhere else on Earth, a reason why the fog happens there more often than anywhere else.

Another interesting theory is blue holes. These are water-filled caves and cavities with blue coloration, and may be both a simple hole in the ground in the interior of islands (inland blue holes) and holes in shallow waters on the banks (marine or ocean blue holes). British scuba diver Rob Palmer directed a blue holes research center in the Bahamas for years. But in July 1997, the man failed to surface after a dive in the Red Sea, He was presumed dead. Some think that the blue holes may be related to or formed by micro-wormholes that are believed to exist in the area. It is even thought that these might even be transit points for UFOs arriving here from other dimension.

Now the plausible explanations for the incidents in the Bermuda Triangle—this includes explanations given by the U.S. Navy and Coast –Guard—are due to human error and environmental effects. The area is one of the most highly trafficked for amateur pilots and sailors, so more traffic leads to more accidents and disappearances. 

Another possible reason for the Triangle’s area to be subject to these disappearances is violent and unexpected storms. Weather changes, too. Short but intense storms build up quickly, dissipate quickly, and go undetected by satellite surveillance. Waterspouts can destroy a passing plane or ship with no problem and is not uncommon. A waterspout is simply a tornado at sea that pulls water from the ocean surface thousands of feet into the sky. Other possible environmental effects include underwater earthquakes. Scientists have found a great deal of seismic activity in the area, plus have also spotted freak waves up to hundred feet high.

The underwater topography of the area may be a factor, going from a gently sloping continental shelf to an extremely deep drop-off. Some of the deepest trenches in the world are found right in the Bermuda Triangle. Ships or planes would sink into these deep trenches and never likely be discovered.

The Gulf Stream is extremely swift and turbulent. The Triangle is located along it. It can pose extreme navigational challenges, especially for inexperienced sailors. The Gulf Stream has been reported to move faster than 5 mph in some areas. This is more than fast enough to throw sailors hundreds of miles off course, especially if they don't compensate correctly for the current. It can erase any evidence of a disaster.

One more theory appears to hold promise for at least some of the disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle when scientists at Cardiff University discovered the presence of large concentrations of methane gas trapped in the ocean floor. This gas is due to dying and decomposing sea organisms. The sediment contains bacteria that produce methane. This accumulates as super concentrated methane ice, called gas hydrates. The layer of ice traps the methane gas, and scientists are studying it as a potential energy source.

Within seconds of a methane gas pocket rupturing, the gas surges up and erupt on the surface without warning. If a ship is in the area at the time, the water beneath suddenly become much less dense. The vessel could sink and sediment could quickly cover it as it settles onto the sea floor. Planes flying overhead could catch fire during such a blowout. Although he doesn't agree with the methane hydrate theory as an explanation for the Bermuda Triangle, Bill Dillon, a research geologist with the United States Geological Survey said that, "On several occasions, oil drilling rigs have sunk as the result of [methane] gas escape."
Pirates from historical times like Blackbeard or others like him may not be likely candidates for disappearances; pirates of modern times can be accused of this quite well. In the 1970s and '80s, drug runners often pirated boats to smuggle drugs.  Also, as proven to pirates off coast of Africa, capturing prisoners off boats for other reasons, maybe even killing them and sinking them and the boats into the sea, or take them elsewhere to be dispose of.

There are about ten triangles around the earth. One second in disappearances is the “Dragon's Triangle.” It comes from a centuries-old Chinese legend of dragons living in palaces beneath the sea. The actual area encompasses a triangular line from western Japan north of Tokyo, to Guam to Taiwan. It, like the Bermuda Triangle, exhibits some magnetic anomalies, and vessels that pass through it have reported navigation and communication malfunctions. Reports of bright lights, volatile and sudden weather changes, unexplained sudden ocean swells, whirlpools, thick fogs, and storms coincide with disappearances of maritime vessels, aircraft, and tales of drifting, crewless ghost ships.
The Dragon's and Bermuda Triangles align point to point through the center of the Earth, with the same latitude and longitude. Both are located at the eastern end of large continental masses, where the sea's currents are colliding with warm and cold water, over volcanic areas. Deep trenches are another commonality, with the triangle in the Pacific Ocean featuring the Mariana Trench, the deepest known point in all the seas. The Dragon's Triangle in particular, reports an ever-changing seascape with professionally charted landmasses and islands literally forming and disappearing overnight.
Kublai Khan made two unsuccessful attempts to take over Japan in the 13th century, but both attempts failed on the trip through these waters and over 40,000 crewmen were lost in the first attempt alone. The Japanese people believed that Nature intervened to protect them and attributed the victories to the “Divine Wind”.

Although these theories (among others) probably account for disappearances in the area known as the Bermuda Triangle and also the Dragon's Triangle, many people still prefer to believe that aliens, electronic fog, or another supernatural phenomenon must be the cause. And who’s not to say they’re right or wrong? If nothing else, great background for fictional author of horror, science fiction and paranormal for their stories and novels, or  fascinating fodder for those to read in nonfiction books in cold or winter or on the beach. Though that may not be good to read if that beach is on an island in the Bermuda Triangle . . . so watch out for a mysterious cloud in the horizon.  You just might vanish without a trace. . .


Sunday, June 02, 2013

Signed Copies of Three of My Ghost Books at Barnes and Noble at Libbie Place

If live in Richmond or visiting it, you can find signed copies of "Haunted Richmond," "Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths and True Tales," and "Virginia's Haunted Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, and Other Haunted Locations" at the Barnes and Noble at Libbie Place, 5501 W. Broad Street Richmond, Virginia 23230. 804-282-0781. There is only one copy of "Virginia's Haunted Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, and Other Haunted Locations," and Haunted Richmond II sold out.