Monday, September 24, 2012

EPISODE 206: Stirring the Dead/Ghost Writer

Coming to you from Oberlin, OH, this case was the fourth one we filmed this season and right after it we all took a break for the holidays.  It was cold, it was cloudy, but we were all happy to be back and filming season two.  This case also coincided with John's birthday.  Jesslyn and I made several trips to WalMart to get gifts and cards and generally prepare for his surprise party.  One of those trips he actually came with us and since we had no good reason to deny him, we had to cloak and dagger it the whole time, sneaking around to try and keep him in the dark as to what we were planning.  The quick-thinking and comedy of the situation was worthy of an episode of Three's Company.  Classic.

Ground Control to Major Tom
 • As some of you may have noticed, this season we had a souped-up, mega-surveillance system to use. Last season, the modest one we used was mine, as you could probably tell from the SCARED! sticker on the top of the DVR unit.  Dubbed the "DIGE 5000" after it's purchaser, it served us well on Haunted Collector and still does during SCARED! investigations.  but for season two, the producers wanted to go bigger.  I was behind this 100% - if we were going to be on a channel called "SyFy" I wanted some cutting-edge gear!  So we had a new system built...ten military grade IR cameras, plus two PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) 360ยบ cameras with separate IR illuminator modules all tied into a touch screen command module which was cleverly built into a Pelican case for transport.  It was like something out of a James Bond movie...and it was about time, if you asked me.  Chris and I hovered over that little monitor of mine for long enough, now we had something a bit more sexy.  However, since it was all built last-minute, it did have it's share of malfunctions...and during this case it bombed out the first night we were there.  The hard drive for the DVR had crashed and threatened to take the footage from our last three cases with it.  As the Fates would have it, the clients husband, Joel, was an IT guy as well as a handy technician.  He saved our footage and did a field repair on the DVR module.  Big thanks go out to him for saving that portion of our show!  He knew what he was doing in that area, since he was into ham radios and electronics and all sorts of communication equipment.  The footage was mostly cut, but he had an antenna array up in the attic that looked like it could contact Mars!  It was probably an ordinary one but the fact that it was in the attic and not up on the roof made it interesting.  When we first did our walk through, devoid of camera crew, I began to wonder what kind of signals this was pulling in beyond just radio or TV.  Spirits being comprised of energy and having a vibration, could it be possible that they piggy-back on the waves we use and interact with every day?

Speaking of cut footage, here is a bonus scene from the episode regarding some activity coming from the attic.  Perhaps it lends credence to my theory?  Hmm...

Fresh fish!
 • One of the things I loved about this season were our field trips.  On days off or when we had a half day of filming, I'd hop in the van and take off to the nearest paranormal spot, with mixed cast in tow.  St. Augustine's Lighthouse, Bobby Mackey's...there always seemed to be a famous haunt nearby where we filmed.  But by far, my favorite was Ohio Reformatory, a.k.a. Mansfield - better known by it's big screen moniker, Shawshank Prison!  When we first got there, the gates were shut - there were no tours and they were closed for the season!  This simply would not do...The Shawshank Redemption is perhaps my favorite movie and I'd never been there before, so to be so close and denied access to it was killing me.  We called the number on the gate, got no answer.  We circled the perimeter of the place, which got the attention of a prison guard in a patrol car - next to the historic prison is a more modern, operating prison and it looked like we were the getaway car for a potential escapee!  I parlayed our way out of that one and we returned to the main gate where we saw some people in front of the building.

Our Gracious Hosts
 We made some noise, beeped the horn, got their attention and suddenly the gate opened.  We drove down the driveway, much like the prison bus did in the movie.  As the building grew larger and loomed before us, the fan boy in me grew more excited.  But we really had no leverage to be there so I imagined that we'd have to take in as much of the outside as we could before we were sent on our way.  I turned to Chris and Jason and told them to follow my lead, I was going in...long story short, the guys we met were beyond cool.  They had heard of the show before and knew the Zaffis reputation so that got us a private, guided tour to every part of the prison!  It was ironic, as we toured the cell blocks and hallways, they would stop to point out parts that were allegedly haunted and all I wanted to hear about were the behind-the-scenes bits about The Shawshank Redemption, which they were happy to provide me with.  It was a great day and the special treatment made us feel even better.  We were all floating on the ride back to the hotel, having successfully gotten in - and out - of prison!

Do they sell used YT-1000's?
 • The picture here speaks for itself.  There is little more I can say to convey the coolness of this.  Every time we passed this place on the way to or from the case, I had to point it out.  And now I'm pointing it out to all of you...the circle is now complete.

 • Being our fourth case with the new cast members, we were still getting to know them.  The following incident made it clear to me that Jason was definitely one of us.  One night, on the way back to the case, Chris, Jay and I were stopped at a train crossing waiting for the train to pass by.  I was driving and Chris was in the back seat.  Jason heard the train approaching and he seemed to get antsy...we looked at him and asked what was up.  His response was short and simple, "Sorry guys, I gotta do this...NIGHT TRAIN!" And with that, he hopped out of the car and ran up towards the tracks.  Chris snapped out of his usual trance and stuck his head through the seats.  "What - is he doing?" he asked.  "Night train?" I responded, clearly baffled.  Just beyond the barricade stood Jason, arms extended above his head in a victory stance, the wind from the passing train buffeting him as it sped by.  Chris made a grunt and then before I knew it, he was getting out of the car to join Jason beyond the barricade.  There I sat, bewildered as my two teammates hooted and hollered victory cries at the metal monstrosity.  Had they gone insane?  Had the bleakness of winter and the sparseness of Ohio driven them mad?  Regardless, I envied them at that moment.  They were experiencing a freedom I could not share in.  For the rest of the season, everywhere we went, we would hear trains nearby and look at each other knowingly.  I kept saying that I wanted to pull a Night Train Maneuver myself but it was not to be...perhaps during Season Three.

On the Threshold
 • During the case, we poked around the house a lot more than you saw on TV.  I climbed up into the access shaft that led to a weird middle-attic.  I don't think it was officially a room, but more of a space that was created by other walls that just happened to form a cubby hole of it's own.  Supposedly that's where the boot came from that triggered the start of all the activity.  Also, during our baseline sweep, Chris and I were startled by a light bulb that broke behind us.  I don't know if it just rolled off a table or was thrown at us, but the noise it made as it shattered was loud and we both jumped - a rare instance of that - I'm surprised it didn't make it to the air!

In filming order, we had just seen the implosion in Huron.  Next stop, Tipp City to Browse Awhile Books.  Our tour of Ohio continued.  The implosion was such a big deal they decided to make it the season opener - not a bad choice on the parts of the producers.  So it was with that fresh in our minds that we arrived at our next case - and despite the lack of explosives, it turned out to be an interesting one!

Read...or else!
 • I knew this place would be active for us from the moment I walked in.  I've always loved books and books are special to people, so in a store that has a lot of used books, the energies from those people will have collected.  My suspicions were confirmed almost immediately.  Chris and I were on our way to check out the science fiction section in the back and as we made our way through the stacks, a book flew out in front of me.  About six feet in front of me, from a shelf to the right a book came flying out with a clear and defined horizontal vector.  It landed in front of me and I stopped to look at Chris with the typical question, "Did you see that??"  I wasn't threatened, I was excited!  Such things rarely happen so quickly to me, so this "greeting" of sorts was a sign that we'd have a great investigation and that the energy in here was sufficient to literally get things moving.  And to be honest, I'm glad it happened this way...with no cameras rolling or no production team around.  I told the producers about it after and they were surprised that it was starting so soon.  When I told John, he just smiled.  For the record, the book was a book about World War II planes...which I have always said I wanted to fly.  Coincidence?

Ball Two
 • Given that experience, I was not surprised at all that several things moved during our time there.  Now allow me to clear up something that got muddled in the episode.  In the mystery room we captured footage of the ball moving - there is a discrepancy in the edit however, and in one shot the ball is at rest further to the right than it was in the original shot.  For the episode, it was a big moment, but in reality, it happened more than once.  The editors didn't use the same shots twice, which was unfortunate, but given the usual frequency of kinetic activity, I'm not surprised they thought it just happened once.  I just wish something other than the ball had moved, or even something in addition to it.  If a book can be moved, why not the cow?  I bought those animal figures with the express purpose of having them be trigger objects.  One of them I kept and still have - the cat (which never made it to the floor).  He became my Inception-esque token.  I had it on me for most of the season afterwards.  Whenever John tried to hassle me, I'd pull out the cat and hold it in front of me to ward him away.

Missing Crystals
 • This season, the audience gets to see a little bit more of how John works and what he does to help people who need it.  It's not simply investigate, remove object, repeat.  Even so, some things do hit the wall of network sensibility and bureaucracy.  Why?  Your guess is as good as mine, but at least some of it got through.  At the end of this case, John is seen telling Amanda to put mirrors in the windows to help reflect some of the energy away.  What you didn't see was him helping her put crystals in the corners to help as well.  If it's not the usual formula of things, the network sometimes gets skittish.  Perhaps the mirrors were all they could handle...maybe the crystals seemed too far from the tech explanation they like so much.  But, when working in the paranormal, there are often many different solutions and some of them are quite old school.  For us, it's whatever gets the job done.

I'm so far behind in this blog, by the time I get through all the episodes and my commentary, the new season will be upon us.  But maybe that's not such a bad thing, is it? ;)

1 comment:

  1. I have to say this was a good episode, but putting the mirror on the window seal will it really work? It would be interesting to see John at Bobby Mackey's in a future episode, it is good to see that you all are going good and strong on these investigations, I can remember my mom telling me two weeks before she passed Don't go searching for what your not aloud to find you might not like the out come, I am still puzzled by that, I did a first investigation not listening to her as I sometimes did, hehe but I have to say there is something with us that is more intelligent than us. I finally caught up with the season 2 can't wait to see what John has new, your blog is cool the way you explain what you all do, keep it up and be safe out there with the others *smiles*