Posts Tagged ‘Ghost Adventures’

I’ve mentioned time and time again how I want to visit haunted locations. In the past, I managed to visit the Paris catacombs, where I saw plenty of skulls but no paranormal phenomena, and last year I visited The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, where I caught my first paranormal evidence on video. And over this weekend, I had the opportunity to visit another one, one that’s in my home state of Ohio that I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time: The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. And wouldn’t you know it? I saw plenty of stuff that can be considered out of the ordinary (besides me, I mean).

Some context first: for a while now, my dad’s side of the family have been planning an “Ungarfest,” where the whole family gets together and hangs out. It’s a chance for all three of the families–my dad and his family, his brother and his family, and his sister and her family–to see each other now that most of the next generation are grown and there’s a chance our lives will take us all over the place. Currently all three families still live in Ohio and Michigan, so the majority of us were able to come together and see each other. And guess where the family ended up spending the afternoon after spending the morning at a nature garden in the morning? You guessed it, the Ohio State Reformatory.

Now some of you may know the reformatory, or OSR for short, as the place where The Shawshank Redemption, among other famous films and a few TV shows, were filmed. However, the OSR is also famous for being something of a paranormal hotspot. Plenty of deaths have occurred there over the years, and of course stories of hauntings have popped up over the years. With that in mind, I bought my own pair of dowsing rods so I could speak to the spirits there (the ones at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast worked so well for me).

Me protesting my guilt with a cell-door on the lawn.

Me pretending to shank my stepsister for some reason.

So once we got there, we went in (two of my sisters decided not to go in because they found the whole thing too freaky), and met JD, our tour guide, who was honestly just the best tour guide we could ask for have (I’ll get into why in a bit, but for now, just know that if you get to come here for a tour, you can’t go wrong by asking for JD). He took us around for the first half of the tour, talking to us about the history of the prison and what it was like for a prisoner during the prison’s heyday.

How can one describe the prison accurately? Well, it’s big, I can say that. Metal and drywall and brick and stone are everywhere. The paint on the walls and every other surface is peeling all over the place, and you can smell the building’s age and paint everywhere. In various rooms, you’ll see original artifacts from when it was an active prison, such as the original electric chair that was used there, products made in the shops the prison ran, and much, much more.

You also got to see a lot of the locations where The Shawshank Redemption and other films used as sets. Warden Norton’s office is perfectly preserved for the most part, as well as the door that the guard broke the window in that one scene of the movie. And apparently Brooks and Red’s apartment was filmed in the prison too. It was cool to see that piece of film history on display there.

JD (left) and his fellow tour guide Michael (right) talking to us in the room where a scene from Air Force One was filmed.

Me at the foot of the stairs where Andy Dufresne and Warden Norton talked about budget issues in getting a library.

I’m at Warden Norton’s desk. There’s a bit of “blood” still on the window.

Me doing my imitation of that guard from the movie. Also, this is my new author pic.

And so was Rami

But definitely one of the best parts of the tour was JD. He was friendly, funny, and a really cool dude with a voice that reminded me of musicians I’ve seen in movies and TV (and that description is how you know I’ve been writing for a long while). I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out he was a musician, he seems like the kind of guy who would enjoy playing some guitar on the weekends. But he was also very inspiring. You see, JD was an inmate for a short time at OSR back in the 1980s. During the tour, he took us by the cell in the west block where he stayed while there, and how his experience at OSR helped him turn his life around. It was really inspiring to hear. A lot of people think of people who have gone to jail, and it isn’t usually a positive image. But JD was able to give us this personal story of how his stay affected him. Combined with his friendly and very humble personality, it really made his story all the more powerful. You couldn’t help but like him, not just as a tour guide but as a person. And on top of his personal knowledge of what it was like to be a prisoner at the Ohio State Reformatory, it just made for an excellent tour.

JD in front of his old cell, telling us how being at OSR changed his life.

If it’s not obvious, I highly recommend JD as a tour guide. On a scale of 1 to 5, a definite 5. If you get him as your tour guide, you won’t regret it.

Of course, you’re curious about the paranormal stuff I witnessed. First off, the dowsing rods had an excellent first time out. I got a lot of communication from spirits, some of which made it onto video and then onto YouTube. One of the first places we visited was solitary confinement, where the spirit of Frank Hanger, a security guard who was murdered by three inmates in that area, is said to hang out. Here’s the video of that particular encounter.

Something you should know: that question Jay threw out about the electric chair was a trick question to make sure we were actually talking to a spirit and it wasn’t random movements on the part of the rods. Turns out it wasn’t random movements: those three convicts committed suicide, so Officer Hanger’s “no” was a point for the I-was-communicating-with-spirits side.

The other major spirit I spoke to was that of James Lockhart, an inmate who killed himself by immolation. His cell is notoriously haunted. I got to speak with him as well, and learned some interesting things.

Sorry about the vertical filming. You can only do so much with your cell phone.

I also had a lot more communications, some of which I got on video. But these are the best quality, so I wanted to make sure people got to see them. You can draw your own conclusions on what happened while at OSR that day (just don’t leave vitriol-filled comments for me to read), but I like to think that I got some communication from the other side that day. And a lot of people who witnessed me using the rods, including this one family I kept seeing around the east cell block (they’re the ones asking me to ask Lockhart if he burned himself), probably believe me now (I think they took video footage of some of my communications. There may be footage of that floating around the Internet somewhere).

Oh, one more thing I want to mention. This isn’t so much explicitly paranormal as it is weird, but it’s worth a mention. You remember that photo of me at Warden Norton’s desk? Well, this may have just been an issue in the transition from my camera to Instagram, but it’s still weird and kind of freaky.

I have no idea what happened here. The photo of me at the foot of those stairs seems to have been overlaid with me at Warden Norton’s desk. Not sure how that happened, but it is pretty cool. Even if it isn’t exactly supernatural.

All in all, the Ohio State Reformatory was an amazing experience. It is a beautiful building, filled to the brim with history, pieces of culture, and a few spirits. I’m so glad I got to go, as well as to test out my dowsing rods in such a great venue. And now that I have my driver’s license, I may be able to go up again someday very soon and perhaps get some more proof of the paranormal. In fact, you should bet on that happening (Zak Bagans, call me). Until then, definitely consider making a trip to the Reformatory and seeing the history and hauntings yourself. Guaranteed you won’t regret it.

And thanks to JD and the folks at OSR for hosting my family this weekend. We enjoyed ourselves immensely while there. I hope you’ll see us (or maybe just me) again soon.

The Ungar clan, AKA 40% of the reason I’m as messed up as I am.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you enjoyed my little travelogue. I’ll be seeing you all again very soon. Until then, pleasant nightmares!

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It’s Friday again, so you know what that means. It’s #FirstLineFriday!

Now if you don’t know what #FirstLineFriday is, let me explain the rules. On Fridays, you:

  1. Create a post on your blog entitled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  3. Post the first one or two lines of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed or published work.
  4. Ask your readers for feedback, and encourage them to try #FirstLineFriday on their own blogs (tagging is encouraged but not necessary).

As I said in my last post, I’ve been having a lot of great ideas for stories. And on Monday, I had this rather strange and unique idea for a novel, inspired by Japanese mythology and culture (one of my best sources of ideas, by the way), and has an interesting structure to it that would be unusual and fun to write. Obviously, I can’t go into more details without giving away the plot (and I hate to give that sort of thing away). But I can hopefully give you a very good opening for this story, while maybe adding a hint in that opening.

Anyway, enjoy:

Almost everybody has a bucket list, along with something on that list that they want to accomplish before they graduate or leave town or die: to learn how to code (the dream of my somewhat nerdy brother Eric, as well as my somewhat cool boyfriend Luca), to go to a heavy metal festival and see their favorite bands perform (my friend Rudy, who plans to do just that after graduation), or to confess their feelings to the rebellious, cool-as-hell River Fuhrmann (my friend Lavender Murphy, who has no idea that the rebellious, cool-as-hell River also has a thing for Lavender, but is too proud to admit it). I have my own bucket list, but mine is rather unusual, as at the top of my list was ghost stories.

Thoughts? Overly long? Any errors? What’s on your bucket list*? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

And while you’re at it, why not try #FirstLineFriday yourself? It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s great practice for authors of all stripes. Sadly, I’m taking a small break from tagging, so you’re safe from my torture for now. But if you want me to tag you, consider yourself tagged. Or better yet, let me know. I’ll catch you next week.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m hoping to see a movie this weekend and maybe write a review of it. If not, you can expect a blog post this Sunday.

Until the next time, my Followers of Fear!

*Mine involves meeting and/or having my books read by Stephen King and/or Anne Rice, going ghost-hunting with the Ghost Adventures Crew, having a custom car made from a hearse, and writing for Doctor Who. Does that surprise any of you?

It’s Friday again, so you know what that means. It’s #FirstLineFriday! And if this is your first time joining us for this most fun of traditions, here are the rules.

  1. On Friday, write a post on your blog titled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. You explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  3. You post the first one or two lines of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed or published story.
  4. You ask your readers for feedback, and then encourage them to try #FirstLineFriday on their own blogs.

So this week’s entry comes from an idea I had for a novel about two weeks ago, inspired by the season premiere of Ghost Adventures (people can trash that show all they want, I don’t care. I love it, I believe in what Zak Bagans and his team are doing, and I get so many ideas from it. How can that be bad?). It’s definitely a weird and creepy story, to say the least. Enjoy:

The house didn’t seem to have changed a bit since she was last here. Indeed, Anna almost expected to hear Pinocchio come running up to greet her with his wagging tail, and Miss Myrtle to call to her from the kitchen and ask her how her day at school was.

Thoughts? Too wordy? Does the story intrigue you? Let me know in the comments below.

And if you enjoyed reading this post, why not give #FirstLineFriday a try on your own blog? It’s fun coming up with new lines every week, and you get such great feedback from your readers. Plus as an author it gives you an idea of how people might respond to certain story ideas, which is always nice.

Anyway, that’s all for now. If anything comes up–and knowing my life, that’s a definite possibility–you’ll probably hear about it pretty quickly. Have a great weekend, my Followers of Fear!

Mark and Debby Constantino. Courtesy of their website.

Recently I read something online that made me feel downright depressed and mournful. As you know, I’m a huge fan of the TV show Ghost Adventures and the people behind it. I feel they’re actually out to prove the existence of spirits and I find them inspirational for my own writing. Frequently they bring guests on the show, including other paranormal experts. Two of these experts were Mark and Debby Constantino, who specialized in electronic voice phenomena, or EVP examination.

This is where it gets sad: Earlier this week, the Constantinos died horrifically along with one other person. Apparently there had been a history of domestic violence in their marriage, including a prior kidnapping by Mr. Constantino, who had been estranged from his wife. This week, Mr. Constantino, who was out on bail, killed a man at the house his wife had been staying at, kidnapped her, and then later killed her and himself after a standoff with police. You can read the full story of this tragedy here, if you want to.

Since this has happened, I’ve seen a lot of reactions to what has happened. Obviously, there are a lot of people wishing condolences to the victims’ families and to the victims themselves, and there have been a lot of people talking about domestic violence, its devastating effects, and offering help or links for those who have been or are being abused. That’s good. We should mourn those who have been lost in situations like this while also recognizing that what has happened could’ve been prevented and working together to help make sure that incidents like this don’t become a regular occurrence.

However, some reactions I’ve seen to this actually made me feel rather worried and at time disturbed, and they are the reason I’m writing this post. One reaction that’s really upset me is that people are making jokes over the Constaninos’ deaths based on the fact that they were ghost hunters. Examples include “Now come back and show us that ghosts are real” and “They can still star on Ghost Adventures“. That’s just awful. There’s no joke you can make about a woman who was kidnapped from her home, maybe saw someone she knew die, and then was held hostage by someone she’d once loved, trusted, and had children with, only to be murdered by that person in the end. Doesn’t matter what they believed or thought, this was a tragedy, and you’re not being funny or cool by making a joke of it. Doesn’t matter that on the Internet you can be anybody you want to be either. All that’s happening is you’re cheapening someone’s early and awful death and you know it. And if you still don’t see anything wrong with that, then I’m not so sure I would like to associate with you.

Another reaction I’ve seen is that some people think this may have been a case of spirit or even demonic possession, that Mark and Debby Constantino were oppressed and ultimately influenced to die by something otherworldly. Now, I know that for those who believe (including me), a spirit can attach itself to a person or persons and make their lives miserable. However, I don’t think this is a case of demonic possession or something like that. Why? Because domestic abuse happens to uncounted numbers of people worldwide everyday, sometimes leading to the death of victims, few if any related to the supernatural. While it’s tempting to write off what happened in the Constantinos’ marriage to something extraordinary, in truth what happened is all too ordinary, even if it escalated to the point that it did.

And I know some of you will point to how the Constantinos seemed so normal on TV or at conventions. Plenty of people who are abused or abuse others are very good at presenting a happy, perfectly normal public image. It’s in the privacy of their homes that they show their true colors, because that’s the only place where they know they won’t be stared at because a loved one is hurting them. And many abusers are experienced in finding ways to carry out abuse in ways that won’t leave bruises or broken bones, which allows them to continue doing what they’re doing. Sometimes it’s not even physical, it can be completely verbal, financial or psychological. You never know who could be suffering inside.

And the only way to even make demonic influence more than just a wild guess is some sort of recorded proof from the Constantinos themselves that they were being oppressed, and I don’t think that exists. Even if it does, I doubt the family of the deceased would release that documentation. I think the family would prefer to be left alone to mourn, and not have to deal with people focusing on whatever they released, questioning its validity and the motive of those who released it.

Ultimately, the most logical, and the most difficult conclusion, is that the Constantinos had a troubled marriage, those troubles were too difficult for them to solve alone, and this was the terrible result of that. And in the wake of such a tragedy, the best thing we can do is offer help when it is asked for, and look for solutions to the worldwide epidemic of domestic violence, no matter what form it takes.

My condolences to the Constantinos and their loved ones, as well as their colleagues and many, many fans. I can only hope that we can all take positive steps in the wake of such dark events.

If you or a loved one has or is suffering domestic abuse and would like help, to know your rights, or even just to know what constitutes as abuse, you can call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or visit their website at www.thehotline.org for more information. Or you can talk to a trusted teacher, counselor, clergy member, or even a friend or family member. Wherever you are, there is someone who can help you.

Thank you and the best of luck to you.

I’ve just finished a new story, “Stuck in the Horror House” (not to be confused with a previous short story of mine, “Hunt in the Slaughterhouse”). I’ve been working on this story for weeks, and at one point I had to go back and start rewriting it because I was dissatisfied with the way the story was progressing. But now I’m glad that the first draft is finished. And it’s a long first draft too, 12,607 words, making it a novelette. Boy, when I have a story to tell I just don’t care about word count these days, do I?

“Stuck in the Horror House” is a story inspired by an episode of Ghost Adventures. In one episode, the GA Crew investigates a factory that has been converted into a haunted attraction, and one of the hauntings there was purported to be an actual demon, summoned by an actor there dressing up as Satan and reading verses out of an actual Satanic Bible and attacking said actor whenever he had the chance. That story stuck around with me, and so I ended up adapting it into a story. In this case though, I made the story about a bunch of teenagers who sneak into a haunted attraction during the off-season and one of them does a summoning ritual on a lark, which leads to all sorts of trouble. The protagonist of the story is telling his story to a psychiatrist, leading to questions about whether or not he’s imagined everything or if there’s truly a demon afoot.

Now, as far as first drafts go…I’ve had better ones. Even in the writing I could see places where this story can be improved in future drafts. But, like Ernest Hemingway said, most first drafts are shit. A lot of writing is revision, and that’s when the story really starts to shine and entrance. The first draft is laying down the bare bones so that they can form something extraordinary later on.

In the meantime though, I’m excited for where this story could go in future drafts. I definitely feel like with subsequent drafts it could make for a very terrifying story. Maybe it’ll even go into Teenage Wasteland, seeing as most of the main characters are 18 or 19 years old. We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, I’m taking a break to watch a scary movie I recently found online. I might even write a review of it later. I also would like to write a blog post or two for my other blog, From the Voice of Common Sense, and I think I’ll take the time to write an article for Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors before starting another story and then working on editing Laura Horn.

Yeah, I’m busy. And that’s not even including work or searching for whatever comes after my internship is over. And the way I work, I doubt I’ll ever slow down. Until next time, my Followers of Fear. Have a great rest of your weekend!