Poltergeists

February 19, 2008 at 7:36 pm | Posted in Ideas | Leave a comment
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Noises and movements caused by ghost, tied to the earthly plane, terrify some and enthrall others.   

Eerily reminiscent of The Shining, a novel by Stephen King, about a haunted hotel, John Stone’s Inn located in Ashland Massachusetts, seems to be the home of a spectral resident. A young girl has been heard, singing, bouncing a ball, or dancing in the hallways. During renovations, locked doors were opened and lights were turned on and off.  Some staff members claim to have seen evidence of the playful poltergeist, levitating cigarettes or blowing out candles. Unlike the apparitions associated with hauntings, poltergeists are phenomena of real life physical activities; noises, vibrations or movements.   

The Walker family moved into a farmhouse and the children immediate sensed a presence.  Local stories told of the former owner haunting the house after he was murdered on the property. Phenomena such as footsteps, faucets, lights or TV turning on and off.  The spirit seemed to have its own agenda, playfully hiding things and helpfully opening locked doors.   

Ghosts have been captured in photographs as orbs or misty cloud.    

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Children and adolescents can be magnets for poltergeist activity.   

“Poltergeist activity tends to occur around a single person called an agent or a focus.  Foci are often, but not limited to, pubescent children.” (1) 

Experts don’t agree on the reason for this attraction, but some believe it may be the emotional state of the witness.    Skeptics think that the phenomena may be prank, perpetuated by the child themselves.  There maybe mundane explanations for many of the experiences; noisy plumbing, wind creating vibration or the opening and closing of gates and doors.  This doesn’t seem possible in the case of Hanna, as described by her mother:

Hanna, who had a wrought iron canopy bed, was hanging on to the post and levitating in mid-air! She was holding on for her dear life. Black shadows flying around the room quickly gathered and flew out of the window. (Normally, this window needed something to prop it open, but it was staying open by itself.) When the shadows flew out the window, the window crashed shut and Hanna slammed down to her bed. “ (2)

Country singer Bobby Mackey, opened a night club in 1978, and since that time employees and customers have felt a malevolent spirit.  Shortly after renovations began, Bobby’s wife Janet says she was attacked by the spirit when a ladder scuttled across the floor and nearly fell on Janet.  She heard voices demanding that she leave the building and felt hands pushing her down the steps.  Other witnesses report a song playing on the juke box, even though it was unplugged at the time. The Chief of security once heard loud voices in an argument behind the stage. When he went to investigate, there was no one there.  A customer was attacked by a trash can flying across the room. He turned to confront his attacker and saw a man in turn of the century clothing.  He felt as though he were suffocating and fainted.  Mackey tried to squash the ghost rumors, but with so many different stories, he eventually brought in a psychic to communicate with the spirits.  Echo Bodine is a clairvoyant who can see and hear spirits. Echo reported seeing a young woman who committed suicide in the building, Johanna. Scott and Alonso killed Pearl, burying her body on the property and both men were hung for the murder. All three remain in the building.  Echo also feels more evil seeping from a well in the basement. Echo performed a cleansing to exorcise the building of the spirits willing to transcend to the other side. 

“Poltergeists might simply exist, like the “elementals” described by occultists. Another version posits that poltergeists originate after a person dies in a powerful rage at the time of death. According to yet another opinion, ghosts and poltergeists are “recordings.” When there is a powerful emotion, sometimes at death and sometimes not, a recording is believed to be “embedded” in a place or, somehow, in the “fabric of time” itself. This recording will continue to play over and over again until the energy embedded disperses.” (1) Advances are being made with instrumentation used to investigate poltergeist activities, so one day the scientific community may be able to prove the phenomena truly exist.  Dr Colman  hopes one day to prove the existence of poltergeist activity through research and documented evidence.   We may never know the source of the poltergeist energy, but researches must keep an open mind about whether or not the energy exists.  Poltergeist is a genuine experiences, whether they are created in the mind or in some other realm of reality.   

1. Wikipedia: Poltergeist, Updated April 2007, Retrieved December 2007

2. Wagner, Stephen:  Poltergeist Levitation; About .com, Retrieved December 2007

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Dean Koontz

February 7, 2008 at 7:23 pm | Posted in Writers Write | Leave a comment
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Dean Koontz has long been one of my favorite authors.  I have accompanied him on his journey from shocking horror master to supernatural guru.  At times the path was messy with blood and gore and at other times, inspiring. Over time,  his work has become increasingly formulaic: 2 parts ordinary hero thrust into a hopeless situation fighting omnipotent villains, 1 part supernatural activity, 1 part faithful companion and a dash of spirituality.   While the recipe has created plenty of tasty treats: Odd Thomas, The Good Guy and The Husband, are all somewhat bland in their predictability.   Whispers Dean Koontz

 

 

Koontz is a wonderful writer. He is a master of language, commanding words to create breathtaking images or heart thumping scenes.  Similar to Stephen King, Koontz creates flesh and bone characters, so well developed they feel like friends, family or lovers.  His protagonists are flawed yet brave, loners yet likeable, reluctant yet forced to take action.

 

“Anyway, only a fool or a madman goes looking for adventure in picturesque Moonlight Bay, which is simultaneously one of the quietest and most dangerous communities on the planet. Here, if you stand in one place long enough, a lifetime’s worth of adventure will find you.” Seize the Night

 

 

Koontz’s break through novel was Whispers published in 1980. The main character, Hilary Thomas, is repeatedly attacked by Bruno Frye, even after he is killed.  Hilary represents the classic Koontz heroine: brave, alone and victorious.

The Servants of Twilight, published in 1988, is a fan favorite. The story is about a mother, Christine Scavello, who must protect her son from crazed cult members who believe her child is the Anti Christ.

 

His work became noticeably darker, beginning in 1991, with Hideaway.  Hatch Harrison was clinically dead for eighty minutes and was brought back to life by a pioneering doctor.  He begins to have violent visions of a serial killer, called Vassago. Other works published in the 90’s feature sadistic killers: Intensity, Dragon Tears and Tick Tock. By the late 1997, Koontz began to explore characters with diabilities. Chris Snow is featured in a trilogy of books beginning with Fear Nothing. Snow suffers from the rare disease called XP (xeroderma pigmentosum); he is allergic to sunlight. Supporting characters may have Down’s syndrome, they may be agoraphobic or blind.

 

“The girl stamped her left foot on the ground, causing the leg brace to rattle softly. She raised her left hand, which proved to be deformed: The little finger and the ring finger were fused into a single misshapen digit that was connected by a thick web of tissue to a gnarled and stubby middle finger.” One Door Away From Heaven

 

While the human characters are important to the story, there is often a canine character who steals the spot light.  Koontz is an animal lover.  His friend Trixie, a golden retriever, graced several book jackets, co authored a few books and even provided a pseudonym to which Koontz published.

Dogs played a prominent role in many of his works, including: Fear Nothing, Seize the Night, The Taking, Watchers, Dark Rivers of the Heart, Dragon Tears and One Door Away from Heaven.

“The dog also knew what the ringing meant. He padded out of the shadows into the candle glow, and stared sorrowfully at me. Unlike the others of his kind, he will hold any man’s or woman’s gaze as long as he is interested. Animals usually stare directly at us only briefly – then look away as though unnerved by something they see in the human eyes. Perhaps Orson sees what other dogs see, and perhaps he, too, is disturbed by it, but he is not intimidated.He is a strange dog. But he is my dog, my steadfast friend, and I love him.”   Fear Nothing

None was more prominently featured then Nikki, a rescued golden in The Darkest Evening of the Year.  I was disappointed by the book, finding the plot and character development lacking. The book is also burdened by Koontz’s own political and social agendas. Of all his works, I still love Lightning the most.  Published in 1988, the story was inventive, surprising and romantic.  The most important moments in Laura Shane’s life have been punctuated with lightening, which happens to coincide with the appearance of a stranger.

Anne Rice

February 5, 2008 at 5:05 am | Posted in Writers Write | 5 Comments
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Anne Rice is an author who has become a cult figure in the vampire subculture.  She transformed the image of vampires for a generation of readers, from mysteriously foreign to conflicted, seductive characters.  Born in New Orleans, a city rich with diverse religions and superstitious beliefs, Anne grew up Catholic.  She was fascinated with the symbolism of the church.  Anne’s mother struggled with alcoholism which created a sense of dread for the children, never knowing if she would be “sick”.  Her mother died when Anne was fourteen and a year later her father remarried and moved the family to Dallas.    

 

 Anne wrote stories from a young age.  She explored ideas that conflicted with her strict religious upbringing, so she left the church.  At 19 she went to San Francisco, lured by the promise of an artistic, hip community.   She married Stan Rice in 1961 and moved to Texas, but they were back in San Francisco a year later. They had their first child, Michele in 1966.   Michele at 4 years old was diagnosed with leukemia and she died two years later.  During Michele’s illness the couple turned to alcohol to cope. 

After Michele’s death, Anne’s alcoholism took over her life and drove the couple further and further apart. Anne went to Texas to stay with Stan’s family and six weeks later she returned for a fresh start with her husband.  In late 1973, she returned to her work. She began with a short story, Interview with The Vampire.  At the end of five weeks she transformed Interview into a novel.  The manuscript was rejected repeatedly, but finally in 1975 it was bought for $12,000.  The film rights sold months later and then paperback rights soon after.    

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The intense sexuality, homosexual undertones and philosophical questions were different than anything on the market at the time.  It was met with critical distain and luke warm success.  She gave birth to her second child, Christopher,  in 1978.    The money she received from the sell of Interview allowed Anne to write full time.  She and Stan quit drinking and Anne published three erotic novels under a pseudonym.   She also wrote a sequel to Interview, “The Vampire Lastat” which reached the best sellers list within two weeks.  The San Fransisco writing community shunned her and disregarded her success.  

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In 1988 “The Queen of the Damned” was published. It was the third installment of the vampire chronicles.  The family moved to New Orleans.  Rice was inspired and wrote “The Witching Hour”.  Rice’s fans are diverse, from disenfranchised teens to suburban mothers. Anne played a role of gothic queen, wearing costumes and arriving in a coffin to book signing events. By 1993, Rice had written 15 books.

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Her first book, Interview with The Vampire was being made into a movie, with Tom Cruise in the lead role.  Rice didn’t approve of the casting choice, but when the movie was released, she recanted her doubts.  She continued to write prolifically, releasing nearly a book a year.   

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In 1998, Anne fell into a mysterious coma. She was diagnosed with diabetes and had to slow down her frenetic pace.      

Stephen King

February 1, 2008 at 7:06 pm | Posted in Writers Write | Leave a comment
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When asked why he became a writer, Stephen King responded: “The answer to that is fairly simple-there was nothing else I was made to do. I was made to write stories and I love to write stories. That’s why I do it. I really can’t imagine doing anything else and I can’t imagine not doing what I do.” (1)

Stephen King

 

His father, Donald, sold vacuums door to door and his mother Ruth, stayed home to care for her two boys, David and Stephen.  In 1950, Donald abandoned the family and Ruth was forced to work two or three jobs to support her family.  David and Stephen would stay home, reading mysteries and horror comic books.  Ruth would tell her children stories to keep them entertained.  The small family enjoyed reading and their home was full of books.  The children also published their own newspaper, to which Steve would contribute movie and book reviews. 

Stephen enjoyed horror movies and television shows, never showing the fear.  Instead, he would write about the things that frightened him and submitted his stories to magazines.  He collected rejection letters, but he remained persistent until he his first manuscript was published. 

I was a Teenage Grave Robber was the first story to be published in 1965 by Comics Review.  In college, Stephen continued to write, including a column in the student newspaper; a comic serialized western and novels.  He not only aspired to be a writer, he actually did it.  The Glass Floor was the first story published for which he received payment. 

Stephen and Tabitha met at school, had a daughter Naomi and were married after graduation. They were poor and working odd jobs to support their small family.   King continued to write, feeling this would be his ticket out of poverty.    By the time Joseph, the King’s second child, was born, King was working as a teacher and submitted stories to adult magazines.  The income from the stories barely covered expenses.   

Bill Thompson an editor at Double Day, agreed to publish Carrie, with a $2500 advance.  

Carrie Stephen King

The soft back version garnered a $400,000 paycheck for publishing rights, of which King received half, and he was able to devote himself to writing full time.   For the first time in his life, Stephen King was able to indulge himself, so he bought a Cadillac. Otherwise, he kept his feet firmly on the ground and his butt firmly in his seat, writing 1500 words a day.  He was inspired by the day to day events of his life in a small town.  

 According to King I get my ideas from everywhere. But what all of my ideas boil down to is seeing maybe one thing, but in a lot of cases it’s seeing two things and having them come together in some new and interesting way, and then adding the question ‘What if?’ ‘What if’ is always the key question.” (1) 

His second novel Salem’s Lot was published by Doubleday. 

Salem’s Lot Stephen King

 The Shining was inspired by a family get away to the Stanley Hotel.  During their stay, King began to work on a story about a boy with paranormal powers and his drunken father.   “In On Writing, King admits that at this time he was often drunk and was even intoxicated while delivering his mother’s eulogy. He states he was the basis for The Shining’s alcoholic father, though he would not admit it (even to himself) for several years.” (2) The movie Carrie was released in 1976 and it was a box office winner.  Stephen King, the author, was well known and in demand, but his privacy was the high price he paid. 

 The Dead Zone was almost autobiographical of King’s struggle to protect his private life.   “As the best-selling novelist in the world, and the most financially successful horror writer in history, King is an American horror icon of the highest order. King’s books and characters encompass primary fears in such an iconic manner that his stories have become synonymous with certain key genre ideas.”(2)

 Pet Cemetery was also inspired by real events in King’s life.  His family rented a home near a busy road which was treacherous.  Neighborhood pets were frequently killed and buried behind the King’s home. The King’s youngest child was also nearly killed and in order to cope with the fear, Stephen wrote about it, but the subject was so terrifying he put it away for four years. 

The Stand, King’s fourth novel, is a classic story of good versus evil. According to King “I never said this to anybody because it sounds so goddamned pretentious, but I wanted to do The Lord of the Rings with an American background…The more I thought about this particular Gordian Knot, the more I thought, “Suppose you cut right through the middle of it. Suppose everybody died except maybe a certain percentage of the world’s population – then there’d be enough oil!” I began to embroider on the idea – the empty towns, the sand dunes.” (3) 

Between 1980 and 1984, King wrote fourteen novels, as well as, poems, short stories and plays.  Literary critics often called Stephen King a hack. However, with growing popularity and rich, diverse stories, he gained respect.  By the late 1980’s he had published 30 books, 16 of which were made into movies: including Misery, Dolores Claiborne, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile all critically acclaimed. 

The Green Mile

1. Stephenking.com, FAQs, Retreived December 20072. Wikipedia, Stephen King, , Retreived December 20073. Wikipedia, Interview with Abe Peck, College Papers,Rolling Stone, 1980.

Secret Brotherhood of Freemasons

February 1, 2008 at 3:09 pm | Posted in Ideas | Leave a comment
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In 1773, the Boston Tea Party was a protest against heavy British taxes.  Many scholars believe the Masons were involved in the plan, including Paul Revere and Joseph Warren.  Men who didn’t belong to polite society were welcomed to Masonary Brotherhood; Ben Franklin, John Hancock, George Washington and nearly half of the solders of the Revolutionary War were members.   

 “After the Revolution, the American Freemason lodges broke from their British forebears and reorganized under state Grand Lodges. Although these lodges were never centralized under any formal authority, they recognized each other as mutual fraternities. Two different forms of Masonry came to exist in America—the Scottish Rite (following English traditions), and the York Rite (following French traditions). “ 1 

The brotherhood claimed to be a divinely blessed guardian of democracy. Shrouded in secrecy and symbology, many of which dated back to mason trade guilds.  A square, a compass, the Bible became the symbols of an enlightened life.   

“Masons should “square their actions by the square of virtue” and to learn to “circumscribe their desires and keep their passions within due bounds toward all mankind”. However, as Freemasonry is non-dogmatic, there is no general interpretation for these symbols (or any Masonic symbol) that is used by Freemasonry as a whole.” 2 

Lodges accepted members who were not stone masons and the focused on ethical and spiritual ideals of the day.    The society created elaborate rituals and imaginative history.  Public monuments were christened with Masonic ceremonies offering corn meal and wine.   

By 1826, members occupied political offices.  A disgruntled Mason, William Morgan, planned to publish a book that would expose many of the Mason’s secrets.  In retaliation, ominous threats were printed in the newspaper, Morgan was arrested and his home ransacked.  He was released from jail, led away by a group of men and presumed dead. The community was appalled by the abduction and demanded justice.  Twenty six Masons were arrested and tried as murderers and accomplices, however in every case the trial judge was a Freemason.   The conspiracy to protect criminals had a powerful public backlash.  Opposition of the order spread throughout the country.   

Similar to the Knights of Templar, Masons were undone by their secrecy and rituals.  Once admired for their spiritual enlightenment, Masons were suspected of satanic worship.  Citizens voted for anti-Mason candidates, independent of Republican or Democratic parties.  

In 1850s the New FreeMasons made a comeback by distancing themselves from the previous order.  They became a social brotherhood rather than the guardians of Democracy and focused on charitable activities rather than politics.

  1.  Watson, Stephanie: How Freemasons Work, Retrieved January 2008.2.  Freemasonry, Wikipedia, Retrieved January 2008.

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