Tuesday, July 24, 2012

DESTINATION TRUTH - Alien Invaders; Swedish Lake Monster

SyFy - Original Air Date: 7/24/12

Josh & team go to Kazakhstan to search for fallen UFOs.  There, they fool around with the locals, as usual, and talk to witnesses, some of whom claim the government took away the mysterious fallen sphere. Which, in fact, Josh discovers the government has done, and they then take him to see it.  (What a change from the usual story!)  They let him photograph the sphere and even take a small flaked-off piece for analysis, as they don't know what it is.  (Looks like one of those spheres that used to ring Soviet space capsules to me.)  They go to the forest where the alien reports come from, set up camp, and go hunting in the dark.  They see a shooting star, find a warm chunk of metal, and see a strange light moving quickly across the sky.  (Satellite? Space Station?)   The sphere turns out to be titanium, and shows traces of melting, perhaps from reentry. So, they take their evidence to a UFO expert. The photos that started this quest he declares a missile shot from the local spaceport: the Cosmodrome, the biggest spaceport in the world; the sphere is likely a fallen Russian satellite.  The first light the UFO expert declares a shooting star; the second he doesn't know -- though it still looks like a space station (with tether extended to a trailing instrument pack) to me.

Then the team is off to Sweden to look for the Great Lake Monster, the Swedes' snake-like Loch Ness beast, which is protected by law.  The team eats strange food (moose) and talks to the locals.  There is a local, government-sponsored, monster-hunting research center which has 2 pretty mysterious-looking videos: one shows an eel-like tendril/creature underwater, the other 2 strange humps moving across the lake.  Josh spots something on the thermal during a flyover, but when they surround it with jet skis, it's gone, perhaps vanished into the deep.  So they go diving in the dark, cold waters, but find nothing. A night water investigation must be called for, because you always have to hunt monsters at night.  (Or it wouldn't be scary.)  And you know, I always wonder about chasing after shy monsters with noisy speedboats (or other motor vehicles). Holy heard you coming miles away!  They get a hit/wave on their thermal and something big on sonar before heading back to LA to talk to Lee Kats, biologist.  He thinks the the eel-like thing is strands of algae and the humps possibly something drifting. The thermal hits from plane & night suggest some kind of animal, clearly not cold blooded.  Some sightings are clearly misidentified, but perhaps something still lurks in the lake.

Another fun show, as usual, made more interesting by cooperative governments not looking to cover up UFOs and an official Swedish monster-hunting team.

Monday, July 23, 2012

TOURNAMENT OF DEATH FUNDED! The Final Push! New “Get in the Story” Rewards & Stretch Goals!

In case you haven't heard, late last night we reached our funding goal!  So, Tournament of Death (1 & 2) is now officially a GO!  Live writing starts when the Summer Games do, but we've still got about a day to push this as far as we can!

Thank you so, so much!  You all are AWESOME!

In case you missed it, I recently lowered the costs for the "Get in the Story" rewards where you can sponsor a monster, get a character named after you (or someone you love), or even help create an actual contestant.  Existing backers got first crack at those, and numbers are limited, so if you want one, snatch it up now.  (There's no "tomorrow" on these!)

Also, because I want these books to be the coolest they can possibly be, I just lowered the "make the books illustrated" Stretch Goals.  The stretches now start at only $2000 -- we're almost there already!

Help me pack the book with illustrations by: 1) Telling everybody you know about this! and 2) Getting your friends to pledge!

This is also a great time to check your backer level and upgrade.  (Now that we know we're funded!)  Maybe that softcover or hardcover looks better now that you know it's a sure thing.  Or maybe sponsoring a monster or naming a character will impress your friends.  Maybe you even want to snatch up that 1 remaining "create a contestant" reward!

And remember, all editions of the rewards you get are exclusive to this Kickstarter.

So, that's it.  We've got about a day to get this all wrapped up, and then those that are aboard head for the Tournament of a Lifetime -- and those that aren't wish they hadn't missed the boat.

Again, thank you all so very much.  Let's push through this final day and make Tournament of Death the best it can be!

Below: Possible Backers-Only Cover for Tournament of Death (Raw) 2.


Saturday, July 21, 2012


We're just one weekend (three short days) away from the funding deadline for my Kickstarter project, and I've decided to sweeten the pot.

I've lowered the costs on the "Name In Lights" backer levels, where you get to work with me to develop challenges (MONSTERS, traps, etc.), characters, and/or get someone in the book named in your honor.  This is your chance to have your Name In Lights -- and these levels make great gifts, too!

Everyone who pledges by Friday night will get an extra e-book sent to them (via site mail) on Saturday!  That's right, if you pledge now, you get a free book (related to Tournament of Death whether or not the Kickstarter succeeds.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

DESTINATION TRUTH - Ghosts of Cannibal Village - Kapre

SyFy - Original Air Date: 7/17/12

In the Fijian village of Namutautau, missionaries were once slain by local cannibals; now the villager's descendants think they are being haunted by vengeful spirits.  Naturally, Josh & crew go to investigate, which, as usual, means talking to witnesses, goofing with locals, and, this time, not eating strange food.  (You never know who it might be.)  They catch a "strange light" (looks like a bug) in a cave where people were, according to lore, cooked.  Then they explore the proverbial haunted village and do 1-on-1 spook-out stakeouts (isolation sessions).  Liquid on an altar shows markers for human blood, people feel "touches" and we get the usual "weird" EVPs.  Plus the ax used to killed the missionary (still displayed in the ruins) falls over during the investigation without being touched -- apparently.  All in all, just another day at the ghost hunt -- but I remain skeptical.

Filipinos have claimed to be menaced by the towering Kapre since time gone by, so Josh & crew go to Manila, eat & goof with the locals, check out a Stargate-themed strip club (they don't get in), and head into the outback to talk to witnesses and find the beast.  They get some thermal hits on their cameras, and nearly run into something in the bushes.  An expert suggests a tarsir, which is much smaller than a kapre (bigfoot) in a tree, a wild pig in the grass, and a mystery animal in a daylight tree.  So, more fun exploration, but no real finds.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

HAUNTED HIGHWAY - Darkman of Standing Rock; Blackstar Shadow Man

SyFy - Original Air Date:

In this new show, there are two teams: Jack Osborne (host) and his researcher Dana make up one, and Jael & Devin from Fact or Faked make up the other -- and their presence is the reason I'm even checking this show out.  My first impression from the clips is that this is another "people running around in the dark scaring themselves" show.  We'll see how that pans out as Devin & Jael head to North Dakota to find the Darkman, sometimes called the Grim Reaper or the Devil, the sighting of which portends bad things to come.  This show (supposedly) features no camera crews, just the hosts/researchers filming themselves.  Clearly a show for people who like shaky cameras; I am not one.  They collect stories from locals and try to pinpoint where to hunt this creature: Grey Ghost Butte.  Then it's running around in the dark scaring themselves.  Although they do catch a pair of "red eyes" on video.  Later, their fire "mysteriously" extinguishes itself and their horses run off. But, mostly this was like watching Blair Witch with people I know and like already from TV.

Second Jack/Dana part is looking for the Shadowmen, "malevolent spirits" you can only see out of the corner of your eye (in a canyon in California).  More witness stories, more blundering around in the dark scaring themselves.  And a video of a shadow (bug?) moving across Dana just before one of her freak-outs.  Like the first segment, the hosts are unwilling to declare anything supernatural was proved in all their tromping around, but...

Let's be serious: This is a mythology show.  I like mythology shows, mythology is one of my favorite subjects, but only when it's done in the spirit of education/anthropology.  This, on the other hand, is another in a series of shows trying for success by playing up to superstitious believers.  My son, who walked into the room while I was watching said, "If this were really science, the woman performing the experiment wouldn't know what the witnesses said they had previously experienced."  Exactly.  You go into a room where I say I've seen the shape of a dog on the wall, and by gum that's what you'll be looking for, and chances are you may find it.  I doubt that, despite my fondness for Jael & Devin, I'll be reviewing this show much more, because in the end, it really was just people running around in the dark scaring themselves.

Time to turn on the lights.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

DESTINATION TRUTH - Return to the Haunted Forest; Belize

SyFy - Original Air Date: 7/10/12

Josh & the DT team return to a famous haunted forest in Romania, where -- last time -- one of their camera crew was apparently knocked off his feet, and scratched, by an invisible force.  Now they've lured him back for a second go-round.  (Sounds like a set up for a "Don't do that!" horror movie, doesn't it?)  First, of course, they must fraternize with locals, eat strange food, and talk to local experts.  Supposedly, the haunted forest has only gotten worse since DT's incident.  Despite the fact that during the last time they tried to overfly the area, their plane's roof came off (literally), the try it again and spot the strange, treeless circle in the middle that seems to be the center of the activity.  And are forced out of the sky by sudden gusts of wind.  They spot mysterious "lights" on their IR cameras, find some weird "laughing" sounds on their EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) recordings, and get scared by mysterious shadows.  Sitting in the mysterious circle, their cameraman gets a ringing in his ears and one of his ears is mysteriously bloodied.  (Though this might be nerves and disorientation, still, the team is spooked.

In Beliz, the Tata Duende is a small rat-like humanoid with powerful claws and a whistle-like cry that heralds its coming.  Local witnesses, food, experts follow -- as usual.  They tromp through the jungle and go swimming in a cave in the dark.  (As if all this wasn't dangerous enough in broad daylight.)  They hear strange sounds (howler monkeys), get spooked by unseen things in the water, and get a skull analyzed (not a primate), but find no real poof of the mythical creature.

DESTINATION TRUTH - Vietnam's Bigfoot

SyFy - Original Air Date: 7/10/12

In this 5th season opener, Josh, Ryder, and crew head to the jungles of Vietnam to hunt for bigfoot.  There, they perform their usual rituals of meeting the locals, eating strange foods, and talking with local experts on the crypto-beast.  In the jungle, they hear "footsteps" and spot a fleeting figure on some of their cameras before losing it near a rapid river.  (And almost drowning.)  Stomping through the jungle, they find prints and take casts.  Stomping through a huge cave, they find more prints, but left the casting powder behind,  Annoyingly, they don't go back for those prints, which looked very clear in the video.  They don't catch the beast, though, and soon head back to the US to analyze what they've found.  They scan the prints into 3d and take all their evidence to Jeff Meldrum.  Of course, the cave prints are not clear enough to identify just from video.  ;-p  Meldrum, a well-known bigfoot researcher with reputable scientific credentials, concludes that Josh's cast along with the photos are the best evidence yet of an unrecognized species in the remote jungles of Vietnam ... the best evidence yet, short of finding the creature itself.  Josh declares it the most significant evidence to date of an unknown primate.

Another entertaining episode in perhaps the best of the "monster hunter" shows, DT certainly entertains me more than the rest, and occasionally they even find something strange.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

FACT OR FAKED: Surveillance Specter; Morgue Mystery

Syfy - Original Air Date: 6/26/12

This show follows its usual format, which I've documented many times, so I'll hit the highlights.  Passed Over This Week: Mississippi UFO -- Two lights hover over water, but they could easily be a military craft.  Russian Levitating Girl is blurry and likely faked, though some team members are interested in it.  Fort Worth Explosions -- The alleged UFOs are merely news helicopters reporting transformer explosions during a storm.

INVESTIGATED:  Surveillance Specter shows a spectral figure on a security camera at a supposedly haunted British school, Bellgrave Hall.  Bill says many paranormal investigator teams have looked into this video and not been able to determine what it is.  Falling leaf in rain test: Near perfect match, but they continue testing for due diligence.  Smoke Grenade Test: Similar, but not big enough, and the original "specter" seems to be in the air.  Flogo (floating soap bubble clouds) Test: Also remarkably similar, though a lot of trouble to go to.  It's a leaf. Yeah.  Why could none of the other "investigators" figure this out?  But, as Jael says, "True to Fact or Faked form, we should do a night investigation."  (I wish they didn't need these to sell the show.  Can you imagine Mythbusters doing this?)  They capture strange "footsteps" from overhead, where there was no floor above them, and a mysterious shadow moving across a stairway wall -- which is good as far as spookstuff goes, but still... Who cares?

Morgue Mystery is a photo that shows a spectral figure standing in front of boxes (looks like motion blur) and a video of an unattended chair toppling over during an investigation in a supposedly haunted morgue.  They figure the chair topple is either real or a hoax, no in between.  Spider Wire Test: A magnet on wire attached to the chair is a spot-on recreation of the original, but doesn't have the initial upward movement. Electromagnetic Hoax, using a tiny electronic ram that pops out of the chair leg is even better looking. The chair tip could definitely have been hoaxed.  Motion Blur Tests: Changing the camera settings quickly results in a good match, but they try some other ideas as well.  Anamorphsis Test is an optical illusion technique that creates a picture that can only be seen from one particular angle -- and that looks good, but the motion blur was better.  So, time for the ghost hunt (so believers will keep watching the show).  They get the usual equipment malfunctions, and film a doll on a string (the place is decked out like a haunted house) spinning where there is no wind.  Conclusion: Maybe paranormal, but the photo at least was motion blur.

My conclusion: Don't go hunting ghosts when you've got better explanations for "weird" events.  Have you ever seen a ghost hunt on one of these shows where absolutely nothing happens?  The cynical part of me suspects cameramen and/or Production Assistants goose things up a bit.