Ghost Adventures – Bracken Fern Manor and Tudor House – S12E03

imageWhile in Lake Arrowhead California, Zak is going to investigate two locations at once that happen to be right next to each other. On one side is the Bracken Fern Manor and on the other is the Tudor House. These two locations were built during the 20s Prohibition era and were known to be a playground for celebrities who wanted to escape the public eye. They indulged in gambling, prostitution and bootleg liquor. There is even talk that Bugsy Siegel may have been involved with the operation. However, the local historian dismisses these claims and says the mob wasn’t involved. He does agree there was plenty of liquor, women and gambling. He also disagrees with Zak that there is a network of tunnels linking the buildings and fanning out in all directions. Zak is quite convinced of these tunnels and isn’t willing to take no for an answer.

As he talks with some of the local staff, he meets with a housekeeper who says she was grabbed while cleaning one of the rooms. They also speak with her son Robert who says he was scratched by one of the spirits and the experience has changed him, and not for the better. He insists the encounter made him violent and aggressive toward people. The mother happens to agree. As they take a tour with Robert, he becomes very agitated. At this same time, Zak and Aaron get an odor of sulfur which they say is the smell associated with negative and demonic energy.

They meet with another man who claims he was down in that same area and smelled rotten eggs. He also claims to have seen a Native American woman, and the spirit walked right through him.

Since Zak didn’t believe the local historian about the tunnels, he brings in a ground penetrating radar specialist and they scan the ground between the two buildings looking for the remnants of a tunnel. While GPR doesn’t actually show tunnels and the like, it does show ground disturbances. As they scan, it looks like there might be something that could form a tunnel between the two buildings. It seems to head in the right direction and be the right width. However, it’s a big if. Even the specialist says it’s only 50-50 to be a tunnel. He’s only able to show the ground is different in locations. However, as they continue, Zak feels they get the best evidence yet that something was dug and then caved in. This might be confirmed by some sinking home foundations in the path they are walking. The radar specialist is willing to up the percentages of a tunnel, but, since they can’t dig anywhere nor do they find any sort of entrance, they are still mostly guessing. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time tunnels were built for the purpose of smuggling liquor and women.

As they begin the investigation, they focus on the story of Violet, who is said to have killed herself after her lover was killed by the mob. We don’t really have a link to the mob, but the idea is certainly plausible. They investigate her room and Zak feels the presence of a woman come up to him. While working with the Ovilus, they get the words Gateway and Lasting. Zak feels strongly this refers to the tunnels they found earlier.

In another part, they set up the Rem Pod and with the help of the SLS they detect a figure moving around. They feel it is a woman sitting across from Zak. During this time they also hear footsteps and get the smell of rotten eggs again.

While trying to communicate with Violet and ask about the details of her death, Zak gets the words Axe for how she was killed and Money as the reason. It’s hard to say if that’s a mob connection, but it certainly sounds like their method and style. Along with this, Billy feels something sneak up on him while down in the lower part of the house. He also gets the words Found and Malicious on his device as though they have found a malicious spirit. The word malicious is coming up a lot lately.

While a Speakeasy with mob connections makes for a good story, there are a whole lot of assumptions associated with this. It’s sort of hard to dispute a mob connection with this sort of place, but they are really reaching to make it happen. And of course, there is always the hard luck story of a prostitute who kills herself. How many times have we heard this snippet before?

As far as evidence goes, it’s pretty hard to latch onto anything solid. Phantom smells aren’t really evidence even if you do think it’s the devil showing up. That SLS camera is somewhat interesting, but who knows what the devil that thing is locking onto. And footsteps in an old building? I think we can come up with some earthly reasons for those like the ever popular expanding and contracting of wood. The scratches on Robert? It’s interesting, but the guy works in an old building, that could be from anything. His aggression? In today’s modern age, that too could be from anything and perhaps he should see someone about it. There might a simple medical explanation.

Again, paranormal is for things that don’t have a regular explanation. There is nothing in this investigation that suggest these events defy explanation. Hell, that sulfur smell could be from a bad lunch and someone just didn’t want to fess up.

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Ghost Adventures – Scientology Lab – S12E02

imageFor this episode, Zak and team are visiting Casa de Rosas which has been used as a school, housed soldiers during war time and for a short period was the compound for Dianetics author and founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard. It was built in 1893 and has now fallen into complete disrepair. The building is a wreck with broken walls, graffiti, vandalism and who knows how many animals now call the place home. But those who have paid the location a visit claim to feel dark energy, see figures, have a sense of dread, feel that the walls are closing in and feelings of claustrophobia. What started off as an experimental kindergarten has basically turned to rubble. It’s even said that a woman was found dead on the third floor.

The main hook for the location is the link to L. Ron Hubbard, who worked at the compound during the 1950s. To that end, Zak interviews Jeffrey Augustine, a former member of Scientology who has some revealing stories to tell. He claims that Hubbard was a Satanist and one of his main goals was to bring the Antichrist into the world. He accuses him of locking people into small rooms and emotionally abusing them with the intent of bending them to his will. He also claims that Hubbard borrowed many of his teachings from Aleister Crowley and Themela.

The investigation starts with the SB7 box. Aaron gets what he believes is a female voice at the same time that Billy feels cold spots above the bed. This could be the same location where Essie died. Zak also believes he sees an orb moving around the room. The activity seems to hit a frenzy and a mysterious doll appears out of nowhere which Aaron feels was thrown at him.

In another part of the house, Jay puts aside the handheld camera and instead puts on a GoPro camera around his neck with UV lights to pick up images. This serves to make it impossible for Jay to actually see where he’s going, so he will need to feel his way around in the dark. I’m not quite sure I understand the purpose of this method. I like the idea of the camera around the chest, but why put one of the guys in total darkness?

During their investigation they hear a lot of banging, a lot of knocks, the sound of what might be doors closing and when all is said and done, Jay walks out of the house with a large scratch along his neck. While it’s not that likely, the red streak points toward a tattoo with a pentagram in it.

While the idea that L. Ron Hubbard hung out at Casa de Rosas, when all is said and done they really don’t capture any evidence I would say is compelling. Regardless of how dramatic Zak is with his comments on dark energy and Hubbard practicing Satanism and trying to conjure up the Antichrist, let’s look at a couple of things. What did they really capture? An orb? Hmm, that’s usually headlights from cars out on the road. The voices? Garbled noise and could be anything. Having Jay wander around in total darkness? All that does is cause sensory deprivation and who knows what he is going to experience. That is hardly reliable and far from a scientific method of inquiry. And the red mark on his neck? You lock the guy in the dark and he has to fumble around. He ends up with a scratch on his neck? How shocking! How could such a thing ever happen? No one crawling around an abandoned building in the dark has ever scratched themselves before, this must be the work of the paranormal!

Let’s also not forget that right at the beginning, Zak not only says and shows the place is riddled with dead animals, what abandoned building isn’t going to be home for all sorts of vermin and small animals? I’m sure they have nothing to do with the noises they hear. It’s certainly not going to be boards creaking an expanding through heat or simply crumbling to the ground.

Another thing that was interesting is how the term "fun house effect" was thrown out. If you get a building that’s starting to sink, has crooked walls, cramped spaces, odd angles and strange slopes to the doors, you’re going to feel out of sorts. This has nothing to do with the paranormal and is something you can experience during the day. How interesting they bring up the idea themselves then completely ignore it.

Finally, before Zak even steps foot in the place, he has already convinced himself the place has dark energy, is the home of the demonic and buys into the idea that Hubbard was practicing Satanism. He doesn’t need any proof and because of his preconceived notion, everything he sees and hears supports his ideas. That’s the same as making the data and the experiment support your hypothesis before you even start. It might make for good television, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t bunk.

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Lucifer – New Series with Tom Ellis

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A new series has popped up on Fox and it’s grabbed my attention. What if the devil got bored with ruling the Underworld, took a vacation, appeared in Los Angeles and set up shop as a club owner? And what if Lucifer got paired up with a detective that both baffled and intrigued him? What if he wanted to solve crimes, not to bring peace to the victim, but to make sure justice was served on the guilty? And what if some of his methods were a touch on the unorthodox side?

Well, that’s what we’re looking at. And the ironic thing is, the devil is quite honest about who and what he is. He introduces himself as Lucifer Morningstar, a God given name (wink wink), says he immortal, claims to have a way with people so they tell him their deepest, darkest secrets, and makes plenty of references to "you humans", "wrong deity", and "our father". But no one seems to pick up on these clues and just thinks he’s a little quirky. He’s gone a little Hollywood apparently.

I think the show is off to a fine start with Tom Ellis playing a mischievous, but not evil little devil, who is out to have a good time and is doing his best to stave off boredom. Since he still has his powers, why not punish the guilty and enjoy a bit of wine, women and song.

Of course, there has to be a few wrinkles. You don’t just get to take a vacation from the Underworld and he’s reminded that his presence is requested before things get out of hand. Additionally, he’s taken a bit of a shine to the detective that seems resistant to his charms. And dare we say, he might be developing some feelings or at least compassion for these human creatures and may be starting to enjoy his time down here on earth.

Let’s not forget, Lucifer is also seeing a psychologist to work out a few existential problems.

If you’re in the mood, Lucifer is making an appearance on Monday’s.

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Ghost Adventures – Black Dahlia House – S12E01

image To kick off the new season, Zak and the gang delve into the mystery of the Black Dahlia and head to the location where the murder of Elizabeth Short may have taken place. They’re at the home of George Hodel, suspected murderer of Elizabeth and a doctor who may be linked to other murders.

As a quick recap, Elizabeth Short was murdered, disfigured and then displayed as a public spectacle. There was no true motivation for the murder with no one actually charged for the crime. There were many suspects, Hodel being one of them, but he was never officially charged as he fled the country. Technically, the murder is unsolved although his son Steven Hodel, a police officer, is firmly convinced his father committed the murder of Short as well as other women. He has written books on the subject and currently owns the property believed to be the murder site.

To get a little background, the team visits a couple of locations Elizabeth Short visited in her final days. They visit with Kim Cooper who has researched the Black Dahlia and now gives tours. She takes them to the Figueroa Hotel where she stayed as well as the bus station where some of her personal belongings, including many letters she never posted were kept. These are mentioned as some of the last places Elizabeth was seen.

After literally soaking up some of the energy of the area, they head back to the Hodel house to conduct a seance with Patti Negri and Fauna Hodel. It’s a bit odd that Zak is fine with a seance but it so against the Ouija board. But during the event, Zak asks questions, holds up pictures of George Hodel and has Billy work the computer to try and record responses.

During their conversation the word "malicious" comes up several times as well as the word "penny" which they assume to be the name of someone, perhaps a victim. Amidst the feelings of dark energy, Zak sees a ball of light moving around. Billy also claims to not feel well.

With the seance done, they head down to the basement where a lot of bad energy has been felt. Zak gets quite a scare when he hears a voice in his ear. They also have Billy go down to the basement wearing just an IR camera. This means he’s not looking through the lens and will have to feel his way around. Things turn a bit ugly as he becomes full of aggression and throws some violent outbursts at the George Hodel. A bit out of character for Billy.

The final part of the investigation is to head upstairs to the bathroom area where it is believed  Elizabeth was not only murdered, but dismembered. Her body was actually severed in half and this could be where it happened.

Using the modified Kinect camera, Zak believes he sees someone moving, possibly working on a body and then moving to a sink to wash it’s hands. He feels they are seeing George Hodel carrying out his deeds on another victim.

Unfortunately, they don’t make contact with Elizabeth, nor is there evidence to suggest the energy of George Hodel is within the house. As mentioned, he fled the country, possibly Asia, but his whereabouts is unknown. Interestingly, if you look up George Hodel, some have tried to link him to the Torso Murders and as well as the Zodiac killings. Those might be a bit of a stretch, but George got a pretty nasty reputation if he’s being linked to these other crimes.

I will have to say there were several embarrassingly comical pieces to this investigation. Again, the fact Zak is on board with a seance, but says a piece of cardboard known as the Ouija is a portal to the demonic is annoying. And at that same seance, Patti acts like she’s drunk out of her gourd and Billy has taken up the mantle of saying he feels dark energy and is going to throw up. Not to mention his little outburst down in the basement. Zak says that was caused by Billy touching the (tainted) ground. Pretty hard to buy into that. Sorry, but that felt staged. And finally, Zak coming unglued because of a voice in his ear? Come on, how many times have we seen this now? They all seem to be playing into the "dark energy" pretty handily these days.

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