Friday, April 22, 2011

Celebrity Ghost Stories: Cure for Withdrawal

I'm a big fan of Celebrity Ghost Stories, and right now the only shows airing are re-runs that I have already seen. Today, I wanted to check to see if Ernie Hudson from the movie Ghostbusters had been featured on Celebrity Ghost Stories because in an interview this week with TMZ Ernie Hudson said he didn't believe in the paranormal. But I remembered seeing him on the show, and I was right. I remembered that he had stayed in a haunted hotel with his family and they were scared by an apparition in the middle of the night.

While searching the Celebrity Ghost Stories website I found some short videos that are exclusive to the website with stories told by some of the featured celebrities that were not part of their aired segments. It was great, because it was like a new episode or two of the show was available with all new material.

I guess my favorite was Tracy Nelson, who said she dreamed of her father, the singer Rick Nelson, after his death. In a series of dreams he would call her on the phone and tell her she was very sick and needed to see a doctor. She had few symptoms but went to see doctors asking them to check her out, and they repeatedly found nothing. In the final dream, her father was yelling at her to find a doctor to treat her, that her life was in danger. She finally found a doctor who discovered a large tumor behind her heart and she was treated for cancer after that.

I also had a dream in which my former mother-in-law called me on the phone on the first anniversary of her death. When I heard her voice on the phone, I said, "Did you come back?" She was crying and saying that she was worried about her youngest son who needed some help, and that he had no place to live. In the dream I assured her that he was fine. She told me, no, he had misspent his money and had no place to live. Two days later, her youngest son showed up at my door saying he needed a place to sleep because he had been living outdoors for awhile and he was cold. So that was interesting to me. The dead calling on the phone to reach us in dreams.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Paranormal TV Update

In the Paranormal-O-Sphere of reality TV, new episodes of My Ghost Story are being aired on the Bio Channel these days on Saturday nights at 10 p.m. with re-runs of the past weeks' show at 9 p.m. These are usually pretty freaky stories, although my feeling is that some of them are exaggerated or fabricated. Last week featured a couple that bought a big old house that they wanted to turn into a haunted attraction. In spite of the fact that they had some really vicious experiences, they said they still wanted to open it to the public as an attraction. Are they not concerned about exposing the public to activity that seemed almost demonic? Or are they just trying to drum up business?

This week, two stories were related to St. Augustine, Florida, where the lighthouse is supposed to be the most haunted lighthouse in the country, there was also a woman featured who takes video of water that she lightly disturbs. On the video there are frames that show pictures of people and animals. While I have never seen that exact technique, I have heard of using water or a mirror as an oracle for connecting to the other side or the use of videotape and static images on a screen.

While watching My Ghost Story I noticed that they are encouraging viewers to tweet their own ghost story to the Twitter address. Viewers of paranormal reality shows seem really interested in telling their own stories -- often anonymously, but more and more they are willing to be public about it even to the point of getting their 15 minutes of fame in doing so.

Ghost Hunters is airing its last episode of this recent season. The new format includes more interesting graphic frames and the addition of Jason's dog, Mandy, being used on investigations -- I suggested that TAPS use animals on investigations in a prior post here, based on the popularity of Animal Planet's The Haunted and the apparently obvious sensitivity of animals to paranormal activity evident in those stories. I made the suggestion on a Facebook thread for Jason Hawes about a year ago. I think they actually do listen to viewer comments in the web discussions and social media chats and threads. In some of the web discussions I had seen the complaint that the background music was distracting when investigators claimed to have heard something, and it didn't allow viewers to hear the sounds, as well. Now the production people are shutting off all music just prior to any allegedly inexplicable sounds that the investigators are hearing. The background silence signals something is about to occur, and viewers can focus their ears accordingly. I also noticed that Jason is much more animated in these recent episodes, and whether it is because of his increased fitness level due to his stringent workouts or because people posting online about the show complained that J&G were no longer "in it to win it," he apparently is more hyped up when he is pursuing a possible entity.

Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files follows the Ghost Hunters slot, and it was announced last week that they had record-breaking audience levels for four weeks consecutively. Not sure exactly what the "record breaking" means, but they had 1.4 million viewers for this past week's show, which was 6% higher than the previous week's show. Fact or Faked features a team made up of a photographer, tech expert, journalist, scientist among others who review web video claiming to depict paranormal and inexplicable phenomena and they determine which cases might be possible to investigate as hoaxes or truth. There are a lot of UFO and alien videos examined as well as those with ghosts and other odd occurrences.

Syfy has a new show starting Wednesday, June 1 at 9 p.m. -- Haunted Collector, which depicts the investigation of haunted objects causing problems for owners. The show features John Zaffis, who has been a paranormal researcher and demonologist for the past 30 years. Haunted Collector will precede the Hollywood Treasures show, which airs at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays. This is normally the Ghost Hunters slot--and I believe GHI or Ghost Hunters Academy usually follows right on the heels of the last Ghost Hunters episode of the season. However, it looks like GHI will be back around July, but I don't know if GHA will be.

Animal Planet's The Haunted is airing new shows now on Friday nights at 10 p.m. Last night's show featured a house that was built over a graveyard. A young child and her mother were experiencing activity and, of course, family members thought she was crazy, especially her husband. When the woman's sister experienced things, herself, she wouldn't go back into the house. In spite of other people having personal experiences and being visibly shaken by what they experienced, the husband didn't believe any of it. It always amazes me when they say, "This was different. Now it wasn't just my wife telling me she saw something. I actually saw it MYSELF." What does that say about his opinion of his wife or their relationship? Even the woman's mother was laughing at her until she felt a burning sensation and found teeth marks on her body. Not laughing now. In my research I looked at what makes people believe something is true or realistic, and it often has a lot to do with the trustworthiness people feel is exhibited by the source providing the information. Testimony + trustworthiness + evidence affect belief. Obviously, for him, the evidence was missing, but there was testimony from someone one would assume is trustworthy to him.

I'm a big fan of I Survived...Beyond and Back, which airs on Sunday nights. It is in re-runs now but it has the least production effects (background music is minimal and there is no re-enactment, just graphic images to enhance the story). The story is told solely by the person who had the NDE and a person who was involved in the accident or death event or who was involved in the resuscitation. I think the minimal treatment these stories get (based on the same production techniques used in the I Survived program) are very effective to keeping the focus on the story and the person telling the story rather than being an enhanced interpretation of the story that is dotted with comments by the actual people involved.