Is there a movie that has ever freaked you out because of its semblance to your own life?
On a road trip from Los Angeles to a suburb of San Francisco, I tried to make conversation with my father. As usual, I had to ensure that we stayed off of certain topics, such as my choice to pursue a career in journalism. My dad went to school to become an engineer, a much safer and seemingly tougher career choice, so like many, he assumed that journalism would be loser career, if you could find a job in it at all.
I instead asked Dad what his favorite film is, and he told me the plot of A River Runs Through It, a film eerily similar to the life of my dad. Both him and the main character grew up in a beautiful, natural setting, exploring with their respective brothers. They both ended up going off to University, and both their brothers were particularly bold, fun people.
I decided to record and watch the movie when we got to my parents' house. Soon after I started it, my dad came in to watch. I don't think he had seen it in a long time.
Dad sometimes says that I remind him of his brother, Dan: risky, curious, energetic. Dan has explored many topics and climbed many mountains: a true fencehopper, and all. Dan is also like the character in A River Runs Through It, the younger brother named Paul, who tries new things, gambles, and becomes a successful journalist. Paul's colorful personality and open mind make his writing shine, and his words immortal.
There is one more similarity between my dad's life and that of Norman, the older brother in the film. Their brothers, Paul and Dan, lived very exciting lives, and their antics both worried and amused their families. Ultimately, through their dangerous lifestyles and a whole lot of bad luck, they were both killed in their prime.
Later, as always, we got back onto the subject of journalism as my career. This time, my dad said something different than usual.
"Actually, I think you'd make a good journalist." I was surprised to hear this, of course. "You've got an inquisitive mind, like Dan. He could have been a journalist too."
I don't think anyone in my family believes in reincarnation; I know I don't. I just happen to be similar to my uncle Dan, and Dan just happens to be similar to Paul. And Paul was a journalist. So now, because I saw a movie and reminded my dad of the kind of person his brother was, I have Dad's blessing and the chance that Dan lost.
Remember in high school when people you knew could be put on a linear scale of success? Basically all you had to do was look at their GPA and maybe extra-curriculars, and that would determine the caliber of school that they went to. That, in turn, would probably determine their success in life. So, what happened to the people who were obviously going to fail and the people who were obviously going to succeed? It's obvious, right?
Let's look at my friend, who I'll call Mike, and his sister, "Amanda," who together perfectly illustrate the deviant vs. straight and narrow model. I've known their family very closely for a long time, and they both went to the same high school that I did, while I too figured them as the wise king and the fool.
Mike is the fool, a looney person, passionate about everything. He'd insist that trail markers and signs are just suggestions, and as long as you know where you are you're fine. He's a strong flavor of ice-cream; not for everyone but always memorable. However, he procrastinated doing homework and housework and spent each dinner arguing with his parents.
Amanda, the first born, was somehow the polar opposite. She was smart and beautiful, and she studied hard. Amanda was an obedient dog, desperate to please her parents, someone who would never disagree or try to go a different way. The wise man, the straight path, follow the guide.
Amanda was cherished as she always did what her parents said, and Mike was the perpetually patronized. Amanda was getting over a 4.0 GPA and Mike was barely making B's. While Mike was bringing home medals and awards from his sport, his parents would just insist that he should drop out. They even called the school and asked to have him disenrolled because it was taking away from studying time and making him gain weight.
Where are they now? The next installment will explore where they went.
Two people from California Delta Paranormal came to my house today to see if they could get any readings from the ghost that I had jokingly said inhabited a rocking chair.
One of them was a rotund man carrying a Jack Skellington courier bag, and he was accompanied by an older red-headed woman. They explained to me their various techniques for finding ghosts.
First they brought out a milligaus meter, which measures electricity frequencies. The woman placed it on the rocking chair and kept an eye on it while we were talking. Randomly the meter would get a small reading and the woman would proclaim, "We got a hit!" They tried to talk to the ghost, but Spooks didn't feel much like talking.
The man then pulled out some water-dowsers and asked me "May I use water dowsers in this house?" I think other people consider bent pieces of aluminum to be accursed or something.
Water-dowsers are insane. They are metal bent at 90 degrees and round with metal spheres on the end of them. They are a little difficult to hold still, as a slight tilt to the left or right will make them move. The man held them and asked the ghost questions.
"Please cross the dowsers for 'yes' and push them apart for 'no,' " he asked.
Curious, my sister came in. I suppose she wanted to get involved, so she started to tell them a story about our uncle, Dan, who had died twenty years ago, thinking this would make the haunting story more interesting. I had to pull her aside and tell her that that's not the story with which I was going, and since it took place twenty years ago I can't tell them to these individuals who believe I bought it this year.
When I came back, our paunchy paraphile asked Ecto-woman if the haunting had anything to do with Dan. He tilted his hands inward (unwittingly, I'm sure) making the dowsers cross for "yes." Sighing inwardly, I told them an altered version of the Dan story that would align with the rocking chair story. Now we are supposedly dealing with the interaction of Dan and the rocking chair ghost.
They followed the dowsers around a while, going in circles and claiming that "this ghost is such a jokester!" After they were done, they told me a little more about the organization. According to the red-head, spook-hunting is "very scientific; this is science, not some hocus-pocus like Ouiji Boards or anything." I guess she thinks this because there is rather deep theory involved in ghost hoaxes, like the idea that ghosts exist on a different wavelength and expensive equipment is needed to listen to and see this different wavelength while at the same time communicating with it. I guess that means that since there are so many books written on Scientology, that must be real, too.
They also mentioned that they had gotten hoaxes before, but they were able to determine them by the picture beforehand. I'm not sure what she meant by this, but the woman said "Apple works for us to determine if ghost photos are real." Perhaps she means that there's a program that can verify photos.
So, should I get this organized before I move, it looks like these people will be coming back for a full-scale investigation. After they process the evidence they plan to do a review, to which anyone can come. Apparently once there was a major party during one of these review sessions. Sounds like a lot of fun to me.
Some are concerned that they can sue me. Keep in mind that if they're not paying me, there's really no way that they can even claim, let alone prove, false advertising. I am, however, rather hoping that they don't find this blog, as it would make them very sadface.
I'll update this with part 3 if I can organize it before moving.
It's kind of embarrassing to admit that I used to be really into ghosts and the paranormal, but it's true. I would frequent http://www.ghoststudy.com
because I enjoyed the rush of seeing photos of "ecto orbs"
and reading stories about people hearing ghostly moans and seeing things thrown across the room by an unseen entity.
Of course now I've learned what a lens flare is, and the simple way to explain those stories is acknowledging the fact that the storyteller was lying.
In fact, it's so easy to fake a ghost story and photo that I thought I'd do it myself, just for the giggles. I had to sell some stuff on craigslist anyway, so why not say the old rocking chair was haunted?
I made up a crap story with the names of some of my friends in it, and shopped a little picture. Here's what I posted:
HELP!!!! I got this rocking chair at an estate sale but now I'm regretting it!! Here's what happened. I was checking out an estate sale when I was in driving in Martinez beside the train tracks. The house looked kind of unkempt and creaked wherever I stepped. There were lots of creepy dolls around, and they were selling a lot of baby clothes that looked like they had never been warn. I saw this chair and loved it--it's vintage and adorable, and it goes with any earth tones in my house. I decided to take it, and I asked the lady at the counter how much it is. She looked kind of old and sad, and she said it was $200. I gave her the cash and she helped me load it into her car. Then another woman came out of the house and said to the first woman that she shouldn't sell it, that "Wendy is always in that chair." They argued a little, but the first woman who had sold it to me said that they needed to get rid of it before it brings them any more bad luck. I asked this woman if she wanted to keep the chair. She said that she didn't want to keep it, but I shouldn't take it either. She said that they were having an estate sale because this was her sister's house, and her sister had died a month ago. Her sister, Wendy, had always wanted a child, but her husband Kyle left her. Shortly after he left, she discovered that she was pregnant. Wendy was distraught because her husband couldn't help take care of the baby, but she was overjoyed to have one anyway, and she sat in that chair every night making baby clothes for it. When the time finally came, there was a complication with the birth and both Wendy and the baby died. This woman, Ashlee, said that she still hears Wendy and sees her in the chair, but the spirit is an angry one. Ashlee said that she sees the chair rocking on her own and hears what sounds like her sister crying. In addition to that, baby clothes are often flung across the room, and the TV will turn on at random times! I didn't believe her because I don't believe in ghosts or anything, so I took it home. Boy was I wrong! First I heard what sounded like heavy winds, but when I looked outside I could see that the trees were not swaying, so it couldn't have been wind. Then baby name books started showing up, which I definitely do not remember buying, and they are always turned to the name "Kyle"! Random things are happening at this house...TVs are turning on, the cat won't even come into the house anymore, and I found my shoes on the roof!! One afternoon I heard very distinct sobbing coming from the dining room. I took my camera phone and went to take a picture. I couldn't see anything, but I took a picture just in case. THIS IS WHAT SHOWED UP ON MY PHONE!! [see above]Now I need the money to exorcise my house. Please only take this if you're willing to assume the risks!!! I'm not responsible for any injury or even death that comes with taking this item!!
- it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
Pretty ridiculous, right? All I had to do with this photo was take a pic of the chair, then sit in it and take another pic. I changed the second pic to grayscale in photoshop then used dodge on the figure (myself) and placed it over the first pic. I erased the parts of the grayscale pic that didn't have me in it and changed the opacity of the layer, and bada bing bada boom, I have a ghost photo. Not that there are a lot of real ghost photos floating around against which to compare it, so I understand the mistake.
Got a few people asking me if the posting was real, and I told them that it was not. One person just e-mailed me the initiallism "LOL :)" One person responded with this:
My name is Devin S----. I am Co-founder of California Delta Paranormal. Needless to say your case caught our eye and we would like to help. We also may have a buyer for the chair. He is an avid collector of haunted items. We would like offer to do a full scale investigation at your place of residence. Now we are a non profit business, so that means the only thing it will cost you is your time. We completed 47 investigation last year and this year we are just as busy. You can check out our web-site at CaliforniaDeltaParanormal.com. If you are interested, please give me a call at (925)-------. Again our services are free.
I debated indulging them. I don't want to be mean of course, but hey, if it weren't for joke or otherwise hallucinatory ghost sightings there would be no ghost sightings at all, and these would be out of a job--or, hobby. I don't want to encourage chasing false rainbows, but I was really curious to see what they would do. Plus, when I asked my friends via my facebook status, most people said I should do it. So, I let them come over to scope out the place.