04 November 2023


Hello there.
I'm on LinkTree. Check out the links or even buy me a cuppa on Ko-Fi.
Thanks so much.

08 October 2023

Mnemonic Gun: The Hook


Mnemonic Gun

It was a chilly, misty October night as Donny Robson, age 24, raced through the maze of alleys in the BAM’s harbor districts. His clothes were drenched by the freezing rain, but despite his exhaustion, Donny felt exhilarated. He was one of the last few participants left in The Wild Hunt—the Shadoweb’s most notorious live-action roleplaying game—with a million Commonwealth reserve notes up for grabs as a prize.

According to the latest gamemaster’s update, there were only three players left.

And, of course, Donny was one of them.

The prize money was a very tempting payout of one million Commonwealth reserve notes. Mind you, Donny Robson didn’t need the money . . . but he craved that adrenaline rush playing the game gave him and how high it made him feel. You see, Donny had been in a rut the last few months and he needed something, anything, to make himself feel good once again.

That was why Donny found himself sprinting down a poorly lit, trash-strewn alleyway as he zeroed in on his next targets. Terminate the other two players, slice into the Solntsevskaya Gang’s data cache and—

There was a flash of baleful red light that tore out of the darkness like a scythe, searing into Donny's chest – a direct hit. His body collapsed onto the wet pavement like a puppet with cut strings, leaving behind a wisp of steam from where his heart used to be. Afterwards, the autopsy report said he never felt any pain.

In that moment, the game ended for Donny Robson.

And that’s how it started for me.

© Brad Smith

25 September 2023

Writing Updates.

 Hello there.

As I recently posted on Facebook, I'm still writing, working on that damn novel. With the upheaval that happened over the summer and to find a new place to live -- and then packing, moving and unpacking -- it's been chaotic.

That said, I'm still writing . . . albeit with some changes.

Starting with the title.

The Aeons of Night is the new title; Against the Vast of Night, the Stars Are Fire will be the second novel's title. Not much else has changed.

Other than as I was writing the first chapter, it took a life of its own, becoming something of a prequel. It doesn't have a strong connection to the novel and I didn't want to cut it completely.

So . . . I made a decision.

Called Mnemonic Gun, it's Zed's story of how he assimilates himself into Earth/Terra/Tehrani culture and discovers an insidious conspiracy that endangers many innocent lives. It's a great introduction to The Zedverse, as I call it.

But it's a novella and too short for any publisher to print. 

So, I'm going to self-publish it, probably on Amazon or PublishDrive; I haven't decided yet, I'm still weighing various factors. The plan is to self-publish the novella and send the novel to a traditional publisher.

I've spoken with a professional artist about cover artwork and I know they will do a great job.

In the meantime, this will be my writer's website.

That's all for now.

When the novella is ready, I'll post the information here.

Thanks so much.

Take care and Hallowe'en is almost here.

Be seeing you.


27 December 2022

Christmas Traditions: From Festivus fisticuffs to fried caterpillars

By Brad Smith

‘Tis the season to talk about Christmas traditions throughout the world.

For years, people have embraced the so-called fictional holiday, Festivus. The holiday was first mentioned in an episode of Seinfeld. Personally, I never liked the show – I found all of the characters highly annoying and unlikeable – but I did find the idea of Festivus somewhat amusing. Reportedly, a Seinfeld staff writer’s family had been celebrating Festivus since 1966; Dan O’Keefe’s father Daniel had the holiday as an anniversary celebration of his first date with his future wife and Dan’s mother, Deborah. As detailed in the December 23, 1997, episode, “The Strike,” there is the “airing of grievances,” that happens during dinner: Yes, each person present describes how others have disappointed them over the past year. After the meal, the “feats of strength” ensue, including wrestling with the head of the household to the floor . . . and if and when they’re pinned, the holiday concludes.

According to O’Keefe, there was never a Festivus Pole.

Since then, throughout the world, yes, Festivus has been celebrated on Dec. 23.

However, for many years, a similar holiday tradition has been celebrated in Chumbivilcas, a Peruvian province in the Cusco Region. It’s called Takanakuy – in the regional language Quechua, it means “when the blood is boiling” or “to hit each other,” depending on the source.

On Christmas Day, communities throughout Latin America typically hold large public celebrations, with people in colorful costumes, lots of food, drink, music and dancing. In communities throughout the Cusco Region, however, celebrants flock to the local sporting arenas or public squares for Takanakuy and watch as people of all ages, kids to the elderly, men and women alike, engage in fist fights.


Single combat.

Takanakuy is how grievances that people have had with one another over the past year are resolved. Be they personal matters or civil disputes, two people slug it out after calling one another out by name. The victor is decided by knockout or intervention by an official. According to tradition, Takanakuy is how people settle conflicts and resolve to spend the new year living peacefully with one another, strengthening community and even familial bonds.

Until more grievances arise.

The Philippines has the highest population of Catholics in the world. At midnight Sept. 1, radio stations start playing Christmas music, lights and decorations appear everywhere. The city of San Fernando, known as the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines,” hosts Ligligan Parul Sampernandu, the Giant Lantern Festival. Surrounding villages compete against one another as they build large, elaborate lanterns; Japanese origami paper was originally used but now more modern materials are used and the lanterns with their kaleidoscope patterns are lit up by lightbulbs rather than candles.

Some lanterns can be nearly 20 feet in diameter.

In Japan, Christmas isn’t a national holiday but some still observe it . . . by eating chicken, Kentucky Fried Chicken in particular. Back in 1974, some savvy salaryman came up with a marketing campaign called “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii” or “Kentucky for Christmas.” Ever since then, Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii has proven to be very popular in Japan. How popular? Well, KFC restaurants start taking advance orders for holiday meals as far back as September or October or it’s a two or three-hour-long line of people wanting their Christmas chicken meal. Employees also dress as Santa Claus too.

Iceland has a number of Christmas traditions. A small nation yet one with one of the highest literacy rates, there’s the Jólabókaflóðið – the Christmas Book Flood. On Christmas Eve, books – the most popular holiday gift in Iceland – are exchanged and people stay up all night, reading their new books and drinking hot chocolate.

And while most countries observe the 12 Days of Christmas, Iceland has thirteen. Each night leading up to Christmas, the thirteen Yule Lads make their rounds as kids place one shoe in their bedroom window. Good kids get candy and the bad ones get rotten, stinking potatoes. The Yule Lads are elf-like creatures and were once depicted as being somewhat malevolent at times. Over the years, they’ve become more mischievous.

Their mother Grýla, however, is a horrific ogress living in the mountains. She’s always on the prowl around Christmas, searching for naughty children to throw in her cauldron of boiling hot water.

Icelandic folklore also has a large black cat that prowls the country on Christmas Eve – everyone must get new clothes and if not, the Christmas Cat will kill and eat them.

Be thankful for those new socks or ties, okay?

In Barbados at Christmastime, people eat Jug Jug: Influenced by Scottish immigrants, it’s a dish that combines salted meat, pigeon peas, guinea corn flour and herbs. Glazed ham and rum also round out holiday meals.

Going back to pagan beliefs, on Christmas Eve, Norwegians hide all of the household brooms in closets, in the fear that evil witches will take them and fly about all night.

That said, in parts of Italy, a good witch named Belfana travels about, leaving gifts and candy for kids.

Instead of candy, kids in South Africa snack on delicious fried caterpillars. Seriously.

If you’re ever in Caracas, Venezuela during Christmastime, be prepared to see people wearing rollerblades; skating to church services is so common that officials keep vehicles off the roads.

For years now, some people have Christmas dinner at Chinese restaurants. Over a century ago, Jewish immigrants could dine out on Christmas because everything was shut down. Save for Chinese restaurants. By the late 19th Century, Jewish and Chinese immigrants often lived close to one another, so, proximity was a factor. Another was that the Chinese didn’t adhere to antisemitic views held by other European immigrants or Americans. They felt safe there.

As New York restauranter Michael Tong said in a 2003 New York Times interview:

“Welcome to the conundrum that is Christmas New York style: While most restaurants close for the holiday, or in a few cases, stay open and serve a prix fixe meal laden with froufrou, thousands of diners, most of them Jewish, are faced with a dilemma. There's nothing to celebrate at home and no place to eat out, at least if they want a regular dinner. That leaves Chinese restaurants . . . .”

When the film A Christmas Story was released in November 1983, the practice of having Chinese food for a holiday meal gained more popularity.

Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, Merry Christmas and a Blessed Yule.

20 October 2022



By Brad Smith

I decided to repost some earlier Rogue Free Press Halloween-themed articles. I hope you enjoy.

It’s October, almost Hallowe'en, so it’s to revisit earlier articles about all things spooky and paranormal.

Let's get started.

Ghosts haunt Ashland and the surrounding area – it’s a place rich in paranormal lore.


Southern Oregon University has a few stories. From the Ghosts and Critters website, here’s a rundown of its most notable stories:

Southern Oregon University’s Plunkett Center has been put to many uses since the University acquired the old building in 1966. It has been alumni and development offices on its second floor and the first floor is used as museum displays by the local historical society. This building is also known as the Swedenburg House, taken from its former tenant, Dr. F. Swedenburg. Swedenburg was a prominent local physician who lived in the house from 1919 until he died in 1937. 

Since the University purchased the property there have been ghost stories surrounding it. Some skeptics believe the stories get more elaborate year after year. Believers who counter this opinion included a University professor and the head of campus security. 

Joey Ngan began his experiences with the Swedenburg house when he was a junior campus security guard. Ngan had the graveyard shift when he started out working for security. He always felt as if he was being watched when he went onto the second floor. He would announce himself and explain that he was just there to check out the building. If he did not do this he always felt as if something did not want him there. 

The house was restored in the early 1980s and a new security system was installed. Ngan and another officer had just finished checking the building and ensuring that the alarm system was operational. Later they drove by the house and saw a woman illumined by the porch light. She was sitting beside a window in a first-floor office. They saw her for a second and then she was gone. They entered the building and searched it for her. The door was locked and the building was empty. 

Political Science Professor Bill Muelemans came to the University in the early 1970s and collected several of the stories over the years. In 1973 the building was closed down and the electricity was turned off. Muelemans, a security guard and three students decided to hold a vigil in the house. They went to one of the second story rooms with candles, flashlights and a Ouija board. The board spelled out messages, including a statement that one of the students had tried to commit suicide in the past. This was true, though no one besides the student knew this. The board began moving and seemed to jump in the air about 18 inches. 

At that point they ran out of the building. The security guard was the last one out. As he was locking the door he felt as if his hand was frozen to the doorknob for about 30 seconds before he could break free. Many visitors have seen another specter. A young girl dressed in an old-fashioned pinafore dress with her hair in pigtails has been seen by many unrelated visitors. She is usually seen out of the corner of the visitor's eyes and only for a few seconds. There are rumors of burglar alarms going off and glowing apparitions seen by students late at night. It is hard to pin them down to a definite location.

There are a few other stories, buildings haunted by long dead janitors, teachers and students. Universities and colleges have those kinds of stories, ranging from botched hazings to distraught students dying by suicide. And, some of them are urban legends: The same basic story transferred from one school to another, with some details changed to fit local history or what have you.

Think about it: How many hotels or other places have stories of the jilted bride who killed herself? Yes, at some point, it happened . . . . And then a slightly altered version of the story found its way attached to another hotel or well-known resort. Then, it spreads from there.

Then, you have some local folklore altered into a ghost story.

Tunnel 13 is a good example.

It was called the last great train robbery of the American West. On Oct. 11, 1923, the DeAutremont brothers – twins Roy and Ray along with their younger brother Hugh – robbed the Oregon–California Express as it was on its way to San Francisco. During the robbery, four men were killed and the brothers fled empty handed. Thanks to the efforts of a Berkeley chemistry professor named Edward Oscar Heinrich and his forensic skills, the DeAutremont brothers were eventually captured and sentenced to prison.

Since then, many have claimed Tunnel 13 is haunted. People claim to have felt cold spots as they walk through the tunnel – well, it’s a tunnel. It’s a tunnel with a violent past and it’s like the funhouse effect, as some of us paranormal investigators call it. It’s like when people look at a spooky old building and think it’s haunted.


Because it looks spooky.

It’s the same with Tunnel 13. It has the right perquisites for a haunted location. Remote, foreboding, violent history and – most importantly – it has the number 13.

It has to be haunted.

I love history, crime stories and forensics; so the Tunnel 13 story has plenty of hooks for me as it is. And, yes, as a paranormal investigator, I’d love to check it out but I feel that there isn’t enough documentation to say there’s any paranormal activity at the location. There’s a lot to assume and the YouTube videos I’ve seen . . . well, I’m not impressed. Anecdotal evidence might be an interesting hook but it’s not real evidence.

Now, if someone has a different view or even evidence – please, let me know. As Mulder’s poster so famously says, I want to believe.

Ashland is home to a number of ghosts and here are few of their stories.

Spanning more than 90 acres, Ashland’s Lithia Park is the city’s largest park, with famed landscape architect John McLaren overseeing a number of improvements. One of the park’s most well-known ghosts is the Blue Lady or Blue Girl. According to the accounts, back in the 1880s, a young woman was sexually assaulted and murdered. Since then, many witnesses have reported a mysterious blue light – or a glowing mist – floating throughout the park, particularly the duck ponds.

Always at night, of course.

The Blue Lady, in her mist form, has been known to move out in front of moving vehicles or seemingly appear out of thin air. In these accounts, as the vehicles pass through the blue mists, the occupants are hit with a cold chill.

Then, the cold goes away along with the mist.

Another story has it that a logger was killed during an accident. According to some accounts, the ill-fated logger used a drinking jug as a musical instrument . . . witnesses claim to hear strange musical sounds as they walk through the park at night.

Where the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Black Swan Theatre now stands, nearly a hundred years ago, there was a large parking lot (an automobile dealership would later take its place). During the day, a young man – called Dog Boy or Dog-Faced Boy due to an accident that scarred his face – would sell pencils out of a tin cup; at night, he would break into parked cars or burglarized nearby businesses. However, local vigilantes, according to one story, caught Dog Boy in the act and beat him to death.

Ever since, Dog Boy has been seen the in the area, looking for another vehicle to rob or maybe even seeking shelter from vigilantes.

Famed stage and film actor Charles Laughton went to the OSF in the early 1960s and enjoyed the shows he saw. It’s been said Laughton had always wanted to play King Lear at the OSF and, supposedly, the deal was made. However, Laughton died . . . stories have it that whenever Lear is produced at the OSF, Laughton or some shadowy figure can be seen in the audience during rehearsals or his footsteps can be heard backstage.

In the town’s old railroad district, what’s now the Peerless Hotel was once a boarding house for railway workers and is rumored to be haunted by a ghost prostitute who visited the men.

It should be noted that these stories are based on various accounts and urban legends. Each story probably has several different versions – that’s the nature of folklore.

A few miles west of Gold Hill, Ore., right off of Rogue River Highway, is Rock Point Cemetery.

According to locals and a number of paranormal investigators, it’s haunted.

There was once a small community call Rock Point and it had a post office along with a train station. Some buildings reportedly still stand but the cemetery remains. Rock Point Cemetery is more that 26 acres in size and has an Independent Order of Odd Fellows section and the rest, in the past, has been called the Pioneer Cemetery. IOOF members maintained their section while the rest of it fell into a state of disarray. Eventually, Gold Hill citizens banded together and started cleaning the cemetery.

Over the years, a number of stories about paranormal activity have swirled around the cemetery, even to the point that paranormal investigators and curiosity seekers from all over the state have come to visit.

One of the most well-known accounts is about a hooded figure, carrying a lantern and sometimes bathed in green light, that roams the cemetery. When people approach the hooded figure, it vanishes into the night. There are a pair of crypts located in the cemetery and there are stories of both surrounded by green mists or even green fire. Strange lights, eerie sounds and – again – that green mists were experienced by nighttime visitors . . . typically, local young people who went to the cemetery as a dare or even for teenaged romantic escapades.

As I was working on my first Rock Point article, I discovered that a common dare was for someone to lie across one of the crypts and wait for the green fog or flames to happen. Some stories have it that as young people drove through the cemetery, their car windows would crack or shatter due to an unseen force.

Both sextons and members of the Gold Hill Historical Society claim that people wearing Victorian era clothing have been seen wandering the cemetery – then disappearing. One such spectral figure, a woman, is usually accompanied by the strong fragrance of lilacs.

It is a beautiful place during the fall and spring, thanks to the local cleanup efforts. A number of the gravesites are fenced off and have been decorated with ornaments and toys.

As I researched Rock Point’s history, I discovered who the hooded figure was.

At some point in the late 19th Century, a Civil War veteran moved to the Gold Hill area. On some nights, he would put on his military longcoat, grab a lantern and go to the cemetery. He would visit the gravesites of other veterans, checking on them and even talking, as if having a conversation with the dead.

Many years after his death, it appears that the old veteran still patrols the cemetery grounds.

Happy Hallowe’en . . . .


30 January 2021

The Frontier's Tragic Fallout

 Fallout The Frontier has been pulled from the Nexus Mods website.

The Frontier was an ambitious mod, nearly 15 gigs in size, adding Portland, Ore., to the New Vegas storyline. Variants of established factions -- the NCR, the Legion and the Brotherhood of Steel -- were represented and the fascist Enclave would be an antagonist as well.

The mod featured some really cool things: Drivable vehicles, a helicarrier type vessel and an orbital battle station as well.

The mod was released little over two weeks ago -- it crashed Nexus' website as players downloaded it.

Then, there were problems. As noted in an Eurogmaer article:

"The mod team was already facing criticism for containing "fetishy" content. Many of the complaints were centred on the companion character America, and in particular, a line of dialogue that allowed you to turn her into a slave. America also had a line describing the rather horrible condition of her feet, which is apparently appealing to some people. Both of these lines are now being removed from the mod.

"The team had already removed other controversial scenes, including an "on the nose" line calling the Enclave fascists, and a skill check to have sex with a deathclaw (yes, really). The latter interaction, tgspy told me, was a wild wasteland encounter that was disabled in a hotfix due to its "incomplete state". Prior to last night's events, tgspy told me he felt he "[didn't] believe any fetishes were brought into the mod in the first place", arguing the content being highlighted as fetishy "already existed in the old games", and telling me it was unlikely the mod would be tweaked further as a result of the complaints. Recent developments appear to have changed the team's mind."

And, another side quest involved Lizard people living in Portland's sewers -- and having a need to use drugs and procreate with humans.


They went there.

I was bummed.

Then, one dev who called themselves ZuTheSkunk shared "deeply disturbing" pedophilic content on their personal artist accounts. The other devs banished ZuTheSkunk from the team and their Discord channel and disavowed him in social media.

I've been looking forward to this mod for years. As an Oregonian, I looked forward to seeing Portland and the Pac Northwest being featured in it.

I watched the demos and loved seeing the Vertibirds, tanks and Mad max-style vehicles in action. A flying aircraft carrier? Cool. Things like that have been a staple of the old SF pulps and the US military attempted it via the Macon and other airships during the 1930s. Given the retrofuture background of the game, yeah, it worked for me.

The space station? Orbital weapon platforms have been on the drawing boards for a long time and, again, works for me.

I was really looking forward to it.

A friend of mine has been streaming the NCR Exiles story arc and it's fun to watch -- I have the mod download but health issues have risen so I haven't felt like gaming. That said, i liked what I saw.

Then I heard about people upset with the Enclave branded as fascists. Well. Damn. They are. Get over it. I figured it was like those Wolfenstein idiots a few years back.

Then I heard about the Deathclaw sex. Cringy, yes. What the hell, devs?

The Lizard people. They've been a staple of SF/fantasy for years and it seems natural that we have Lizard men joining aliens, mutants, robots and androids roaming the Wastelands. And . . . a wasted side quest. It has potential and it's a shame the devs squandered it.

America. It seems that Odinsword has some issues. Yes, the Fallout games have featured slaves before and mods as well. It was a mess from the beginning.

ZuTheSkunk. As problematic as The Frontier was, all of those things could have been taken care of via updates. It happens. But, ZuTheSkunk's deplorable behavior was the last thing The Frontier needed. While I have issues with some of the devs' creative decisions and poor writing, I feel sorry for what's happened. For over seven years, I waited for this mod; New California left me cold and I had hopes The Frontier would be fresh and exciting.

It was just that. But, ZuTheSkunk screwed up and added to the mod's woes. Devs had left the team. Voice actors want their parts cut from the mod. Lead dev Tgspy wants to excise the problematic segments and upload a "final" version to the Nexus.

And, last I heard, walk away from it.

It's a sad coda to something that could have been special.

Once The Frontier's final version has been uploaded, I hope creative modders will jump in and add some cool stuff to it. Of course, it's to be expected, there will be some bad mods made for it too.

Time will tell.

I still have The Frontier on my gaming 'puter. I haven't played it and I really don't know if I will. I might wait for the "final" version to hit the Nexus.

I just don't know yet.

30 September 2018

That One Time I Almost Saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show

I've never seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

That's right. I've never seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show -- well, in its entirety.
That one time happened in my freshman year of college.

It was early October 1983, I believe. I'd settled comfortably into college life, especially what little of a social life I had: Well, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights were typically spent gaming and I was GMing a Star Frontiers campaign with my friends. It was a lot of fun, very good times. A tight knit bunch, we hung out a lot and cruised comic book stores and hobby shops, fast food runs and the like.
One night, during a game session, some girls stopped by the dorm room we used; one of them was crushing on Brian, one of my friends, and she wanted to see him.

Of course, she had her entourage with her.

There was that awkward moment when we explained what we was doing and, to their credit, they understood. Anyway, one of the girls suggested we all go to the on campus movie night, which was The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Now, you have to understand some of us lived in Central Nebraska and all of these girls were from Omaha -- so, sometimes there was cultural disconnect. However, we geeks had the 411 on things. One of the girls said, "I bet you guys have never heard of it."

That's when I launched into an overview of the plot, the ritualistic audience participation and so on. One of the girls asked if I had seen it.

"No. I saw it on 60 Minutes and read about in Time and Newsweek."

There was an awkward pause . . . and there was an agreement to see it as a group.

Now, many students showed up in full costume, especially Frank-N-Furter. A number of cornfed football players were in the crowd and some were already tense and edgy -- some had hit on a few of the Franks and were visibly distraught to see they had hit on a guy.

Oh. It got worse.

With all of the singing, dancing and everything else, the jocks were not happy. After a "Great Scott!" and a volley of toilet paper pelted them, some jocks -- most a bit drunk already -- were thrown into an alcoholic, testosterone-fueled rage. The air was filled with sodas, popcorn, rolls of toilet paper, wigs and gold-colored hats. Fists were flying and I do recall a squad of Rockys, Magentas, Brads and Janets pummeling a downed jock. He'd been abandoned by the others during the melee, fleeing campus security.

It was so surreal but ever so poetic justice, looking back at it now.

Meantime, my gamer crew and I, along with our Omaha dates, were quite amused by what went down. One of the girls was weekend house-sitting for a cousin, so we went there for a party.

Heh. It was some party but that's a story for another time.

So. No. Never saw the entire movie ever again. After a night like that, how could I?

14 August 2015

Seriously, Zak?!

Seriously, Zak?!

It's bad enough that your antics give decent, hardworking paranormal investigators a bad name. Now, you have graphic and violent "reenactments" on your show.


Shock value? Dude, your stupidity is shock value enough. I watch your show because it's bad paranormal TV and it shows people HOW NOT TO INVESTIGATE. Bad TV is one thing, but, a splatter film is something else.

It's not cool. It's not funny. It's not even in good taste.

Are you desperate for ratings? Really, truly desperate?

You want to be a decent paranormal investigator? Call Loyd Auerbach. Take some lessons from him. Read up on Harry Price, the man who set the standards we follow today -- well, the standards you avoid.

Get a clue. Grow up. Be professional.

And, in the name of all that's holy, give those pants back to MC Hammer. He wants them back . . . .

09 August 2015

Questions Paranormal Investigators Hear . . . .

How much do you charge?

Nothing. Our services are free. We do this because we want to help our clients and also to learn more about the paranormal. Our goal is to help people understand what is and isn't paranormal and to put their minds at ease.

How accurate are those paranormal reality TV shows?

In my opinion, not very accurate. Some of those shows exaggerate claims of paranormal activity. About 90 to 95 percent of cases are actually normal activity misidentified as something paranormal. Environmental issues or even structural issues surround the house can cause people to feel that they're experiencing paranormal activity. Even things such as medication use can contribute to the situation.

A good paranormal investigator looks for any and all answers. Not all things are paranormal.

Also, if there is paranormal activity, it's rarely negative. Unlike what you see on many paranormal reality TV shows, "demonic" or "negative" activity is rare. No one has ever been killed by a ghost -- only in those movies does something like that happen.

What you see on those shows is done solely for entertainment.

Yes. Some of the things presented on those shows are staged.

What about psychics?

First off, no "psychic" has ever solved a crime. The FBI and Scotland Yard have no records of anything like that. Only in books and movies does something like that happen.

Some groups use "sensitives." A sensitive might get impressions on things in the area. Impressions or feelings. Those impressions might corroborate the client's claims . . . or not.

There can be a case when you have two sensitives in the same area and get two separate interpretations.

I've worked with the best sensitives in the field. People like them are of a rare caliber.

Sensitives are helpful. However, not always necessary to an investigation.

How do you prepare for an investigation?

After being contacted by a prospective client, a preliminary interview and investigation is conducted. It gives us the chance to meet the client and gives the client a chance to get to know. It also gives the investigators a chance to check out the property and assess things for a possible investigation. After that meeting, a formal investigation is set up, with a date set that is agreeable to both the investigators and the client.

Before the investigation, investigators will do some historical research, check for seismic activity, even checked space weather websites for increased electromagnetic activity in the area. Those things can factor into an investigation.

During the actual investigation, the investigators will come in and set up their equipment and start the process. We do not ask the clients to leave their home during the investigation. It is the client's home and we feel that the clients need to be a part of the investigation.

We set up video recording equipment. Digital voice recorders. We do sweets with the electromagnetic field detectors. We go over the notes about the client's claims of paranormal activity and attempt to replicate them. We look for possible natural answers for claims of the paranormal. Again, many things occur naturally that can be easily mistaken for paranormal activity.

After the investigation, the data is analyzed and we take it from there.

If you do find something paranormal, how do you resolve it?

There are things we can research and do what can help. It's a case by case situation and it depends on what is going on.

Do you respect the clients privacy?

Yes. We have confidentiality agreements and other release forms for clients to sign.

If the clients do not wish us to post photographs of the investigation, then we will not.

I hope this helps out. This is just a sample of questions I have heard over the years. I'm always open to talking to people about what I do.

As I said before, I've spent a number of years working with members of American Paranormal Investigations and now Medford Paranormal Investigations. We've helped a number of people over the years and I'm looking forward to helping many more in the future.

08 August 2015

Well, this is awkward . . . .

So. My latest post is time-stamped for a few years ago. It's published. You can find it. Oy vey, it has been a long time since I've blogged . . . .

04 January 2012

Sometimes -- We're Warriors & Sometimes We Don't Really Know What We're Talking About!

Yesterday, I caught "Darkness Falls," the eighth episode of Paranormal State's fourth season, where Ryan Buell and his Paranormal Research Society investigators go to West Virginia State Penitentiary -- allegedly, Buell had been there six months earlier and encountered "something dark and evil" . . . and it scared him, apparently.

The episode was all about Buell returning to the old penitentiary to confront the Big Bad and overcome his fears, I guess. He drags along the usual PRS crew yet he tells them nothing about his earlier experiences or what they could possibly face.

In fact, the team talks amongst themselves and speculate upon why Buell brought them to WVSP. Buell does his best Robert Pattinson angsty pout -- minus the sparkling -- and says nothing whenever he's asked by the team why they're at the site or what had happened before.

Buell has a hissy-fit when the PRS share a laugh and he decides not to tell them anything until they take the situation "more seriously."

And, earlier on, Buell takes issue with the "Shadow Man" picture that investigators Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson debunked when TAPS went to the prison. Allegedly, Buell had others debunk the debunking, alluding that the photograph was real. I don't buy it. I've seen shapes and shadows, mixed in with poor lighting, produce "Shadow People" phenomena. I would have loved to have seen the "debunking" but it was never shown.

After awhile, Buell takes the crew to the "Warden's Tower," where Buell had the Big Bad Encounter . . . the crew find an inverted pentagram *gasp*.

In typical Buell fashion, he postures and rants about Satanism and hints that there must have been a satanic conspiracy among those who worked at the prison. Michelle Belanger supports his statements.

In disgust, I switched off the TV.

A few things. Paranormal State is entertainment and it's not how an investigation should be conducted. Case in point how Buell melodramatically led his team into the prison.I'm sorry, but if I had encountered some "Big Bad" and was taking my team to where it had happened -- it's my duty and responsibility as a lead investigator to keep my team informed, for their safety's sake.

Then again this is Ryan Buell, who supposedly was stalked by a demon . . . and during that time, he allegedly went on investigations, dragging that bloody baggage into people's homes -- as if the clients had enough to worry about.

I don't really know how much was real and how much was "for the show" . . . . But if Buell is like that during actual investigations, then I'm not impressed; if anything, I'm more concerned for the other investigators and the clients.

Especially the clients.

Now for the "inverted pentagram."



The above the link is a great resource of information about pentagrams and the like and I highly recommend it to paranormal investigators.

In fact, I highly recommend it to Ryan Buell and Michelle Belanger.

But I digress.

What of the prison and the "pentagram?" It's nothing. There's nothing satanic or occult about it, there wasn't a coven of satanists at the prison and so on.

In fact, these symbols can be found on many older buildings -- even churches -- scattered throughout the world. Again, nothing dark and sinister.

I'm disgusted by this episode. Shoddy investigation and shoddier research, enabled by Buell's narrow-minded views.I was never impressed by Paranormal State and I would never recommend it to people.

Unless I wanted to illustrate to people on how not to conduct a paranormal investigation.

Be seeing you.


28 August 2011

New life, New team. Same purpose.

Time has flown by the last few months.

I've been back home in Oregon for nearly six months now. In the Mundane World, I've settled into a nice home and am looking forward to working as a reporter . . . life's good and a lot of possibilities are opening before me.

That's the Mundane World . . . .

As for the Other World . . . .

I've worked a few investigations on my own. Working solo has been okay but I really miss working with my old old API family. Since moving back here, I've been very anxious to get back into investigating the paranormal. This area is rich in paranormal activity and lore, and I have a feeling that there are a number of people who need help.

My friends Wendy and Jesse have been interested in the paranormal for a long time and they wanted to form a team of their own. We met a few times and discussed some plans. Wendy put together a Facebook page for the group,  Medford Paranormal Investigations

An MPI community FB page can be found here.

Last night, MPI conducted a training investigation at the Rock Point Cemetery, next to the (in)famous House of Mystery and the Oregon Vortex, west of Gold Hill.

Many stories about Rock Point. Accounts of a hooded specter carrying a lantern and wanders the cemetery; green flames that shoot out from some crypts; a green fog that drifts through the cemetery, sometimes breaking vehicle windows.

None of that happened last night.

However . . . .

Over the course of the few hours, the team managed to capture some orb activity -- and I do mean phenomenon with structure and emitting energy not dust or moisture -- on digital and some amazing EVPs were captured.

Some of the team even experienced being touched.

Even now, more evidence is being reviewed and more things are bring uncovered.

All I can say is that the team did a great job. More than ever, I know that I'm finding myself working with some great people.


I'm really looking forward to our first investigation.

23 January 2011

Blogging . . . .

I haven't blogged in a long time.

And, I'm ashamed of that.

I blogged a lot on MySpace . . . yeah, I said MySpace . . . but not much here. And, I need to.

I've been working on my novel and am now in a rut. I need to keep writing . . . and this is the best way to do it.

I created this account, The Midnight Eye, just for writing about the paranormal. I'm expanding into other subjects, from issues I encounter as a reporter to reviews on movies and dining, even some social issues.

I hope you all join me for this venture . . . .

Yes. I hunt ghosts . . . .

My name is Brad Smith. Some family and friends know me as "Doc." Aside from being a now-freelancing journalist and a writer, I'm a paranormal investigator.

Yes. I hunt ghosts.

Well, to be honest with you, I also am interested in UFOs, cryptids (Bigfoot and other unusual critters), the occult and other subjects.

Now, I'm sure that some of you are wondering how did I become interested in the paranormal and find myself investigating it. Well, here's what happened.

It was the early 1970s and my family lived on a ranch in Eastern Oregon. I was attending a very small school -- in fact, my first grade class consisted of myself and a girl, the teacher's daughter who was named Mary-Ann. When our lessons were finished and the teacher focused on the other students in the classroom, Mary-Ann and I were encouraged to find a book from the small but amazingly well-stocked library and read.

As a kid, I was fascinated by space travel and being an astronaut . . . so I read books about space travel. Eventually, I read every book about space travel -- some of them dating back to the 1950s -- and then stumbled upon a book about flying saucers.


I read that book . . . and another. Then my teacher suggested I read a book about Bigfoot, then ghosts . . . . Well, that's how it started. Then as I read books on astronomy and ancient history, there were also books I read and learned about the legend of Atlantis, the Bermuda Triangle and so on.

Now, I had a speech impediment. Stuttered and stammered a bit and had a problem when I tried to pronounce words starting with an "s" or an "r." It wasn't much of a problem when we lived in Oregon; however, when we moved to Nebraska, that changed. Kids being kids can be horrible monsters. So, I spent a lot of recess time reading books.

Of course, those books were about space, ufos, ghosts and so on.

Yes, that made me more of target for ridicule.

As time went on and I grew older, my interests in the paranormal never waned. I found myself wanting to be a writer and wrote science-fiction and fantasy stories, with some horror thrown in. On the weekends, I played D&D with my brothers and a friend of ours. In college, I found more friends with whom I shared a number of interests, from gaming to the paranormal.

Some of those friends shared their stories with me, about their UFO sightings or encounters with ghosts. One night, a bunch of us used a Ouija board to contact the spirit of H.P. Lovecraft.

Damn. I still remember that night. Nothing really happened as we used the Ouija board but after everyone left and went back to their dorm rooms. Everyone, including myself, allegedly had weird stuff happen to them. The lights in my room flickered on and off for an hour and I ended up unplugging my alarm clock to stop it from going off. My other friends complained during breakfast the next morning that they'd seen weird shapes moving in their rooms or kept getting strange phone calls throughout the night.

I had one other encounter with a Ouija board and have stayed away from them.

I digress.

In the 1990s, I moved back to Oregon and from time to time, had chance encounters with the paranormal. Living in Ashalnd, I worked in some buildings that were haunted. It was a little unnerving at first, but, after awhile, I got used to it. After a few years, I went back to Nebraska; a girl I dated lived in a haunted house and for a few months I lived in an apartment that had some activity.

However, at some point, I grew tired of the paranormal. I got sick and tired of hoaxes and frauds. Of conspiracy theories. Of some investigators constantly presenting faked evidence.

I got sick and tired . . . and backed away from it.

In 2004, I was introduced to TAPS and the "Ghost Hunters" TV show. I liked the show, I liked what they did. It revived my interest in the paranormal and wanting to investigate it and do research.

October 2006. I was working at a daily newspaper in Yreka, Calif. I pitched an idea to my editor about doing a series of articles on local ghost stories. Those articles led me to a few "attempts" at investigating. I got a lot of good responses from the articles by many people; however, a few religious folks voiced "concerns" and the editor refused to do it again.

January 2008. While UFOs lit up the skies above Texas, some people saw something strange above Yreka. I did an article, consulted the local MUFON chapter and then found myself on Vic Smith's Midnight Bookworm radio show, discussing the paranormal. Every Saturday night, I was on the show with Vic for a few hours, talking about UFOs, Bigfoot and ghosts.

For one of the programs, I contacted Dave Bender, of American Paranormal Investigations, a group of ghost hunters based in the Sacramento area -- and members of the TAPS Family Network.

It was a good program and Dave told me to give him a call if I was ever in the Sac area.

Months later, I left Yreka and moved to the Sac area. After I got settled in, I called Dave and we setup a meeting. My idea was to see if I could tag along an investigation, write about it and the whole process and see if I could sell the article to the Sac News and Review or somewhere.

However . . . .

Dave invited me to join API and I accepted. That was June of '08. After working a number of investigations and prelims as a debunker, I was promoted to senior investigator in October. In the spring of 2009, I was promoted to lead debunker.

And, well, that's how I got here.

What else would you like to know?