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Ghost Adventures – Texas Horror Hotel – S10E11

imageWe’re off to the big state of Texas, to visit the Magnolia Hotel. The hotel was built in 1840 by James Campbell. Alas, he wasn’t able to stick with his business venture too long as he was scalped, stripped of his clothes and stabbed 27 times by the local Indians. My goodness, he must have done someone wrong!

The legend also speaks of a little girl named Itsy that passed away at the hotel. It’s claimed that even before her murder, Itsy had a less than amiable life as her mother would lock Itsy in her room when she went to work. I’m surprised this wasn’t a woman in white, a prostitute and a jilted lover. That’s usually how these stories go.

Another spirit, that of Idella Lampkin is said to visit the hotel. She was a fortune teller that would give readings on the premises. The owner claims that Idella speaks to her from time to time. The owner also just happens to do genealogy and locates a relative of Idella. Tnisha Sutton comes to pay the location a visit and she claims to have the psychic gift as well.

As a final piece to the legend is that of William Faust, who attempted to murder his estranged wife at the hotel. I say attempted, because he didn’t succeed in killing her because she wasn’t there. Instead, she had switched rooms with a friend’s daughter. When Faust realized his mistake, he attacked his wife and made her blind. Seems she got the business of an axe.

There are claims of hearing the little girl and seeing her figure. There are claims of getting scratched across the face like William’s wife. And there are also claims that Idella is still on the property. Interestingly, it’s the owner of the hotel who makes most of the assertions. Idella speaks to her. She sees the little girl. She feels the presence of William. Taking every word at face value, Zak asks if the place is haunted. The owner of course says it is and that’s all Zak needs to hear. He completely dismisses the guy in Seattle, but he’s totally on board for this one. But yet again I point out, it’s really hard to take these sorts of claims too seriously when it’s the owner of a business making them. Oh my, how much will business improve if someone investigates the hotel and says it’s haunted? How much extra will she charge for you to stay in one of her haunted rooms?

So what happens during the investigation to support all these claims?

As the investigation starts they hear footsteps. Nothing new there, we pretty much hear those in every single episode now.

They decide to bring Tnisha in for the investigation and she asks if Idella is around. She says she gets a bump or a push in response. Additionally, Billy sets up a new piece of equipment, the Electromagnetic Microphone. It’s supposed to light up when the right kind of energy is near. While they try to talk with Idella, they get a couple of bangs and bumps.

Meanwhile, Zak heads off to the room where the events of William Faust took place. They hear bangs, but it turns out to noises from the room below. This once again proves that just because they hear noises, like footsteps doesn’t mean they’re paranormal. They are proving that sound is travelling from other parts of the house or down the road as in the case of Tombstone and that all these noises can have perfectly normal explanations.

However, they press on and try to taunt William. The temperature in the room drops to the sinister 66.6 degrees. We all know where this is going. You know, sometimes a temperature is just a temperature.

As they continue the investigation, it’s time to bring out old reliable. Zak starts with his, "I’m getting powerful emotions". You can’t quantify these so it’s always a good way to go to establish the paranormal. He continues by explaining that he’s feeling the energy from different people and that all these spirits are passing through him. You would think with so many spirits running around they would have captured a lot more evidence by now.

But wait, there’s more. Zak brings out the ever crashing SLS camera which is basically a Microsoft Kinect device hooked to a monitor. It detects there is a small figure on the bookcase. It lasts for a moment and then disappears. They believe this was Itsy or a little girl at the very least.

Right after this, Aaron walks straight into a chair. This gets turned into a super paranormal moment as Zak says the chair didn’t move and now it has a hand print on the seat. Moments later, the hand print is gone. Clearly the chair was stopped by and unseen force and clearly the hand print is paranormal. There is no way that Aaron, in the dark, tipped the chair at an angle which stopped it from moving and in his surprise did not put his hand on the seat to steady himself. There is absolutely no way these two things could have happened under anything other than paranormal means.

In the bottom of the house, Billy and Jay come face to face with a real horror. They have a raccoon on their hands. The large varmint has apparently made his home down there. This in no way could be mistaken for the footsteps they heard earlier or any other noise in the house for that matter. I’m almost wondering if this is what scratched someone on the face, in the dark, when they weren’t looking. Additionally, Jay feels that some sort of energy comes rushing at him.

While they don’t collect any real evidence down there, Jay has a very bad experience with the cellar door. Not only does it come crashing back down on his head as he’s trying to leave, but his hand bashes through the rotting wood and he takes a pretty nasty tumble. While this looks like it seriously had to hurt, I’m surprised this wasn’t ruled the work of the paranormal. Perhaps the local Indian spirits are seeking revenge.

Finally, the team gets together and turns on the spirit box. This would seem to be Aaron’s cue to start acting ill. He says he feels sick and is ready to black out. Of course, there are orbs of light in the area which Zak assumes are entities going after Aaron.

To be honest, this episode was a steamy pile. Right from the start they believe every ghost story they’re spoon-fed by the owner, who just happens to know all these stories, yet doesn’t have a single piece of evidence of her own. This entire thing comes across as a commercial to "come stay the night at my haunted hotel, if you dare!" I find it really hard to believe people who have a commercial gain by their business being haunted.

But aside from that, what did they capture? Some bangs in the night? The feeling of powerful emotions? Seriously, what tangible piece of evidence do they present? They have barely any more evidence to go on at this site than they did in Seattle, yet that guy is a faker and this place is haunted.

I just don’t get it. Nor do I believe it.

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Ghost Adventures – Demons in Seattle – S10E10

Zak and the gang are off to Seattle to investigate a house with claims of the paranormal to rival that of Amityville and the Exorcist combined. Keith Linder rents a home where he says bibles have been burned, crosses have been scorched, furniture has been knocked over, plants are thrown so hard they put holes in the walls and there are even claims there is blood on the walls and the entity has actually set fire to the house. Further, there is the number 666 supposedly burned into the walls and symbols that resemble the pictograph of Man from the Native American culture. Even more, Jennifer Madsen, who has investigate the house and even tried her own blessings, swears by all the activity. Keith has even had the clergy come out for a house cleansing and blessing, but nothing has changed. And the clergy kinda, sorta, didn’t actually believe him.

Yet strangely, Keith seems pretty calm about the whole situation and doesn’t have plans to move. He says he’s emotionally and spiritually grounded. He even seems rather calm talking about everything and doesn’t seem to have fear or concern over his safety.

By the claims, this is the most dangerous house on the planet! Merely stepping inside is surely to get you beaten, thrown down the stairs and quite possibly set on fire. This house is off the charts! This should be exactly the type of place Zak is looking.

But yet somehow it isn’t. I’m confused. Here’s the part that cracks me up, Zak doesn’t believe the claims.  Here is a guy stating all these terrible things are happening to him and claims he has real documented evidence and Zak and his team rip him apart and basically call him a fraud within the first 5 minutes. However, this is the same group that will visit Tombstone, a sanatorium or a jail and believe every single story they’re told without a lick of evidence. We’ve seen this dozens of times. They believe a place is haunted before even stepping inside and then no matter how slight the evidence, they will claim the place is teaming with dark energy. Dave even says this would be great for a book or a movie.

Whoa, what’s going on here? When the hell did Zak become a skeptic and not believe every half-baked, outlandish and ridiculous ghost story he was told? He even thinks Keith is painting the 666 on the wall just to get publicity and refutes all the footage he’s shown. Wow, Zak! Maybe you should turn that same critical and skeptical eye on the dreck you throw at us!

But Zak forges ahead with the investigation to see what can be learned. Keith and his girlfriend Tina walk around the house asking questions in the usual style. Nothing.

They move from room to room telling the spirit it needs to move on. Nothing.

They tell the entity to show itself and not hide now that new people are in the house. Nothing.

Zak and Dave Schrader give the place a once over. They ask questions, try to get the entity to answer, ask why it causes harm and what it wants. Nothing.

Even the big gun comes out as they use some cockamamie piece of tech they cobbled together using who knows what. But this time, it projects stuff on the wall! Wahoo!

It’s really nothing more than a glorified temperature sensor made to look like something ultra fancy with moving charts and a wave pattern. And as you might expect, it doesn’t do a darn thing and they capture no evidence.

Zak and his team tries and tries and tries, but they can’t get a shred of evidence to support the claims. And since they don’t believe the claims themselves, they can’t even stretch the truth and make something out of nothing.

All in all, it seems like this is an absolute hoax. But why? Why do these things? Why vandalize the house? Why not just move? Why stick around? Is this the story of a couple that just wants to break a rental agreement? Do they just want some publicity and have their house immortalized like Amityville? Are they in the throws of demonic possession and they have no idea what they’re doing?

And where the heck is the real home owner? What does the landlord have to say about all these shenanigans? If my place was on the news and getting trashed like that, I would have a few things to say on the matter that’s for damn sure!

Who knows what the heck is going on here.

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Ghost Adventures – Return to Tombstone – S10E09

imageGhost Adventures returns with a return trip to Arizona and Tombstone to investigate the Bird Cage Theater and Big Nose Kate’s. Reports are the paranormal activity is picking back up again with people being touched, hair pulled and even reports of hands feeling up the legs of a female tour guide. There is also talk of a spirit called "The Swamper", an old miner that may still be trying hold onto his claim. Also, they come back to honor the memory of Leroy Colomy who was sadly killed in what seems to be a gun related incident.

Now, before we get too far into things, I’ve been to Tombstone and it’s a fantastic place with lots of great and exciting history. I’ve been to the Bird Cage Theater and to Big Nose Kate’s as well as lots of other places on that strip. They are very fun, but let’s keep one thing in mind, they all need to have a tale to tell or else there’s no reason to come in an buy souvenirs. Every place has a bigger and better gunfight story. They all have the ghost of someone who was shot in a poker game. The stories are truly the stuff of legend, but that’s what they are – stories and legend. Each one of them starts of with "rumor has it" or "legend says" so to be honest, so much of what you hear is just marketing to keep the cash flowing in. Make no mistake, there was plenty of death and gun fights, but take each story with a grain of salt.

I also have to say that was just about the dumbest and cheesiest intro they’ve done for the show.

Anyway, to begin the investigation they start off in the Bird Cage Theater. They bring in Patricia who claims to have been groped by one of the spirits. How strange this sort of thing has never happened before, but as soon as the cameras show up, it’s a different story. To help with the investigation and to run with this ghost groping idea, they enlist the help of one of the female crew to get dressed up and play a "show girl". They will offer themselves up as the evening’s entertainment.

As they get things into place they hear crying and singing. What could this be? A spirit crying out in pain? The residual energy of poker games gone by? Nope, it’s the saloon a couple doors down having a Karaoke night. While the mistaken identity is funny, it does prove that sound travels very easily and that so many of the sounds they feel are paranormal have a perfectly normal explanation – if they’re just willing to look.

To kick off the investigation, they play period music and take pictures using a variety of cameras. Zak gets yet another one of his photos involving orbs and light energy. He sees those pretty much every episode now. And of course it hovers over the girls and must the spirit energy from one of the gunslingers.

Further, as if on cue, Patricia’s hair flips into the picture. Of course, it could just be hair playing with or tossing her own hair because we can’t see her other arm. But no, to Zak and his crew, this must be the work of the paranormal. To discourage the naysayers, they even sync up the footage so you see Patricia’s arms so you clearly tell she isn’t tossing her own hair around. Ok Zak.

Also, to build the suspense, Patricia starts to feel ill which again hasn’t happened before. Seems to me when the evidence is light or non-existent, this is their go-to symptom. I can’t document it, but oh, this place makes me so queasy and dizzy.

Zak claims to hear footsteps below them as though someone is walking around. Of course nothing is to be seen and there’s no possible way it could be someone walking around outside on those wooden walkways they have there.

Next, they head over to Big Nose Kate’s to check out the story of The Swamper. From "legend", he was a recluse that would go to the very bottom of the building and lock himself away. Turns out he was secretly digging into the silver mines of the area. Basically, he was doing a little claim jumping. However, no one ever heard from him again and a body was never found. So instead of him being run out of town, or stealing some silver and hauling ass out of there, the story goes he must have been roughed up and taught a lesson. This makes for a better tourist attraction.

As they investigate, their hacked up Kinect rig faults and Windows 8 takes a dump on itself and crashes. Clearly this must be the work of the supernatural as well because Windows 8 never crashes! It’s only the second worst operating system Microsoft has released, but just like the last time it crashed while using it, there must be otherworldly reasons.

There is one other piece of evidence as Zak tries to engage the services of a lady of the evening. There is a jumbled voice that Zak believes is saying, "I’m trying to hear". If you say so.

Like so many of these, what do we really have? Do we really have enough evidence to be sure this place is as haunted as Zak thinks it is? In my opinion, absolutely not. They get some junk evidence and try to oversell it. When that doesn’t work, they go with the standby of feeling sick. They try to hype up the story to make it sound so dangerous and spooky. Well, everyone does that in Tombstone. I’ve never been in those places in the dead of night, but there was nothing that ever made me thing the stories they tell on haunted tours was anything more than story. This investigation still proves that to me.

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Expedition Unknown – Mayan Apocalypse – S01E09

imageFor this episode, Josh heads down Mexico way to try and undercover some truth about the Mayan Empire and why the civilization simply vanished. You remember the Mayans right? They had that wacky calendar that said we were all going to be obliterated and wiped off the face of the earth in 2012. Well, jokes on them. We’re all still here. The same can’t be said for the Mayan culture itself though. Looks like they were wrong about our demise and their own.

But new evidence has been brought to light which may answer some questions. At the height of the Mayan Empire there were over 4000 cities with a population of over 20 million people. They thrived and were masters of math, astronomy and the land. But then suddenly, they disappeared. Josh heads down to Cancun to get things started.

Before we go anywhere we must contend with a lost bag that has decided to take a side trip to Washington DC. Additionally, we must visit the exciting Dia de los Muertos festival. The people of Mexico embrace the idea of the afterlife and spirit world in quite a festive style. Not to be left out, Josh goes with some decorative face painting and blends in with the crowd. Good thing this didn’t turn into a Mardi Gras style event.

As Josh heads out to the ruins and makes his way into the thick jungles, climbs the pyramids and looks out into the thick undergrowth, there is something missing. Where is the water? What did the Mayans use for drinking and watering their crops? We know corn was a pivotal ingredient, but how did they grow it. Turns out the Mayan cities sit on top of thousands of water filled caverns called "cenote".

Josh is given the opportunity to head down into these caves which have been formed and eroded by rainfall. The clear water caverns are connected by thousand of miles worth of tunnels. It is also believed that these caverns were considered a place of supernatural power where demons and gods lived. This was the entrance to the Underworld itself. In order to keep the gods happy, the Mayans would perform sacrifices to show their devotion. This would include blood sacrifice as well as throwing offerings into the cenote. Strangely, this offering would many times be children. Is it really a good idea to throw people into your own water supply?

We can see evidence of their presence in the underworld by the pottery they left behind. This also means the water level would have been lower during that time.

Josh then heads to Chichen Itza, which has some of the best preserved Mayan structures. The city covers 1000 acres, has ball courts which seem pivotal to the Mayan people as well as sacrificial alters and temples. It is believed the city was built and designed to worship Chaac, the god of rain. The huge city sits on top of a network of cenote. Because of their skill with astronomy, it has been believed the cities were placed in line with the sun, moon and planets. But it is now believed water was equally, if not more important and dictated where the city would be placed.

One of the cenote, Holtun Cenote, has a small opening they can climb through so Josh and his guide head down. Turns out this small opening is actually a doorway to massive cavern. It also appears this cenote has some astrological significance as every May 23, the sun shines directly into the cavern and can illuminate the whole area. This would also line up with the pyramid itself which doesn’t appear to be any sort of coincidence.

As they venture down into the watery depths, they find quite a few items of pottery. But it’s the bones and skulls that really stir things up. Clearly people came down here on a regular basis. These items didn’t wash up here, but were placed by hand. They also discover a "shelf" that has human and animal remains lined up. This appears to be a sacrificial alter. Since people were obviously able to walk to these locations the water level would have been receding. This points to a severe and lasting drought for the Mayans. These sacrifices were an attempt to bring back the rain. Without the rain, the crops would wither and die and people would starve and die of thirst.

It appears the Mayans kept cutting into the forest to expand their empire and clear a places for crops. As they removed more and more of the trees, the rainfall dwindled. As the rain dwindled so did the people. The success and expanse of the Mayan people appear to have been it’s downfall. They were destroying the very thing they needed in order to survive. So as they build more and more, they ended up with less and less. It also seems that throwing bodies into the water and letting them rot didn’t do much good for the sanitation conditions.

As Josh says, perhaps we should look at this as a cautionary tale. We need to strike a balance. As we continue to use up our resources we will soon be at the point where we don’t have enough to sustain ourselves. And as always, this was a fascinating look at the people and culture of our neighbors.

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