Tag: ouija board
The Saturday 6/27 show concluded with yet another simultaneous Ouija board-EVP session that gave us all plenty to talk about. Audience volunteers JOY and JOE (not the same Joe who sat at the board in the previous show) personed the board while the audience and I gathered round to watch. Joy and Joe contacted someone named V I V (short for Vivian, or perhaps it’s 3 initials) who was 7 8 years old and standing to my R I G H T. What did she think of the show? S U B T L E. (That was a first, and a particularly eloquent response that made me blush underneath my sadhu ocher, ash and dirt). Did she know anyone in the audience? YES. J O E. How did she know Joe? H O M E. Joe and I didn’t like where this was headed so I quickly changed the subject: would Viv like to speak with us electrically? YES.
I took a few steps away and fired up my trusty P-SB7 “spirit box” and connected it to a loudspeaker as usual. Somewhere between the hiss of the spirit box and my ad libbed one-liners Viv’s seemingly jovial mood changed and she suddenly got annoyed with us. When I asked if she could say my name, a voice (continue reading…)
We had an enthusiastic crowd Friday night for my first show and first concluding seance at the Art Church of West Philadelphia. The Ouija board was personed by audience volunteers JOE and JOHN and the planchette was zooming about urgently. We spoke to a M A N who was 5 0 and A R M E N I A N who told us he did not speak or write English well. His name was L A M E K (Lamech? A Hebrew surname; were we talking to an Armenian Jew?).
Kolkata’s Armenian Ghat, a former loading dock along the banks of the Hooghly built long ago by Armenian merchants, is mentioned in the show, and after the Ouija board spelled the word Armenian an audience member, someone who was not touching the board, spoke up and self-identified as Armenian).
I asked Mr. Lamek if he knew anyone in the audience and he spelled J O E. When asked if he had a message for Joe it spelled out L A L A L A L A over and over. This oblique response has happened to me twice before (in 2011 during my previous show Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead and in 2012 during a midnight seance on the stage of Philadelphia’s historic Plays & Players Theatre) and my belief is that it means the spirit doesn’t want to answer the question, or (continue reading…)
Don’t miss my autobiographical stand-up tragedy Jeffrey Stanley’s BONEYARDS while it’s at the Art Church of West Philadelphia as part of the 2015 SoLow Fest.
Friday 6/19 @9pm
Saturday 6/27 @9pm
Sunday 6/28 @7pm
Awesome timing from this week’s New Yorker, a review of a new biography of James Merrill by Langdon Hammer. Merrill’s a major influence to the point that I’ve often made mention of him in my Boneyards and Beautiful Zion playbills and many times here on my blog in reference to those shows. I got a good look at his homemade Ouija board when I was a Copeland Fellow at Amherst College back in 2001 (it’s in the college library’s archive) and I urge all poetry fans or supernatural fans to settle into his epic poem The Changing Light at Sandover sometime.
James Merrill’s Supernatural Epic
A trust fund, a Ouija board, and an unprecedented poem
by Dan Chiasson
“…And Ouija boards: Merrill made the most ambitious American poem of the past fifty years, seventeen thousand lines long, in consultation with one. The result, “The Changing Light at Sandover,” was a homemade cosmology as dense as Blake’s…” FULL ARTICLE HERE
According to an automated Facebook message I received this morning I posted this picture 4 years ago today on 4/12/11. I decided to check my blog for that date as well and yep, this was about to happen:
This posting is a promised addendum to my 3/17/15 seance and EVP session held in room 551 of the Hotel Colorado on a two-day stopover during my Amtrak Writers Residency trip across the US. To learn about my encounter with the Most Adorable Ghost-Hunting Family Ever, a Disney Channel reality show waiting to happen, I urge you to read the full entry here before proceeding. (If you’re looking for the Bachelors Grove Cemetery EVP session and slideshow they’re here).
The Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, CO was built in 1893 and is considered by many to be haunted. Supposedly, the hotel’s ghosts include a young girl in Victorian clothing seen playing with a ball, a woman who hovers over sleeping male guests, and a man who roams the hallway on the fifth floor (where I stayed). Both of the primary haunted rooms, 325 and 553, were booked, so the clerk kindly put me as close to one of them as possible, which wound up being room 551 which also has its share of haunting tales.
One popular story about room 551 regards a ghostly interior decorator. In 1982 an attempt was made to replace the wallpaper. The morning after contractors put it up, all the paper had mysteriously rolled off the walls and was in the floor. They reapplied it but the next day it was found on the floor again. After a few more tries, the contractor got the idea to leave several wallpaper samples on the bed overnight. When he returned the next morning all of the samples but one were on the floor. They papered the room with the choice left alone on the bed and the wallpaper stayed in place. Also, there is supposedly a high level of electromagnetic energy detectable in the hallway between the door to 551 and an unmarked door across from it which leads to the attic.
All caught up? Good. As I explained in the aforementioned posting, as soon as amazing Iowans the Warren-Powell family and I entered my room on my second night they all fanned out with tablets and smartphones and began snapping away at every square inch of the place. I told them not to bother as I had already done that and seen nothing unusual. The words were barely out of my mouth when high school senior Cody interrupted. “You’ve got a little boy in the bathroom.” Huh? Sure enough on the pic he had just snapped we could make out what seemed to be the solid figure of a short person (let’s say roughly a 10-year-old) leaning halfway in the bathroom doorway right where we were standing, yet it wasn’t visible to the naked eye. Are you getting chills yet? I was. Here is the original photo and a closeup of the mirror (click on any photo to enlarge it):
The Friday 2/27/15 show marked the New York premiere of Boneyards after my performing it regularly in Philadelphia since its launch in the 2013 Philly Fringe. The concluding séance was my first one at the Morbid Anatomy Museum and the results are in: that sucker’s haunted.
My antique 1917 Ouija board with 1920 planchette was personed by audience volunteers Aaron and Chris while audience volunteer Josie stood aside and served as questioner. The rest of the audience stood in a circle watching the disturbing, heart-breaking events unfold.
They contacted a presence/spirit/demon/subconscious ideomotor impulse (depending on your beliefs) named R U S T Y who was 7 and died In 2 0 1 0. Did he see the show? Y E S. What did he think of it? U 1 which I cheekily interpreted to mean “you’re number 1.”
Was he still in the cellar with us? N O. He was upstairs on the T O P F L O O R of the two-story museum. How did he die? G U N. By whom? D A D.
Later he told us he had wafted back down to us in the cellar and that he was hovering at the C E I L I N G. Previously I had told the audience that from past experiences speaking with children on a Ouija board they tend to indeed talk like children, giving brief answers and also misspelling words. This was borne out when we asked if he could see us he said Y E S, thanks to the M E A R (mirror).
A full-length mirror is part of my set and is used at various times during the show. I also point out just before every séance that it’s there to provide a window for the spirits to see us and the show as, according to James Merrill’s epic supernatural poem The Changing Light at Sandover, ghosts get the best views of the living via reflections. (continue reading…)
Don’t miss my stand-up tragedy Boneyards while it’s in NYC at the Morbid Anatomy Museum.
Friday 2/27 @8pm.
Last chance to book now.
A Shaheb’s Guide to India
I’ve traveled India a bunch in the past five years and have learned that almost no one in India seems to have heard of a Ouija board. I’ve also been in tons of stores ranging from rustic bazaars to gleaming shopping malls and have never seen a Ouija board for sale even though they have plenty of other Western toys and board games.
People there do, however, know what you’re talking about when you explain it, only they call it “doing planchette” and those who do it would only ever make their own. The idea of buying one seems foreign to them. Culturally, “doing planchette” seems to hold the same place as it does here: spooky, scary, forbidden, inviting doom, naughty, tempting, very real. Once I got my wife’s Hindu family elders talking about it, they recalled tons of stories that pretty much parallel the kinds of escapades you hear recalled in the US.
Her great uncle warned me against it, telling me there’s a reason God has created two separate dimensions for the living and the dead, and that to try and bridge the gap is inviting trouble. He then told me how once as a young man he and a bunch of friends were vacationing in a small shack in the jungle on a wildlife preserve (the Indian version of the “cabin in the woods” archetypal horror setting) and one evening they got bored and someone made a planchette board. They typically use a coin as the planchette. They soon were in touch with a man who said he was recently deceased. He said he was a Naxalite (Indian Marxist rebel) who had recently been killed by a rival Communist. At that moment the lights went out, engulfing them in darkness. Everybody freaked, they balled up the planchette board and threw it away and my great-uncle vowed never to do the planchette again.
He remains true to his word. I asked him if he would draw one for me exactly as they had drawn them back in the day, and he grimly said, “This is not possible.”
I dropped the subject but later that evening I approached my wife’s grandmother to ask the same question. She shrugged and said, (continue reading…)
Dear Sunday Audience,
I’m stunned that yet again the voices have spoken backwards. I’d heard of this happening but only experienced it the first time during my 7/16/14 recording. I never imagined it happening to me again, yet here it is less than 2 weeks later. Are my “synagogue saints” trying to scare me away and be done with us? You’ll have to decide.
Do the names Jane and Patrick Foote or Jason mean anything to any of you? If so, feel free to post a comment here or email me privately. The voices recorded during your session say these names emphatically as you’ll hear, either identifying themselves or calling for these people. Perhaps I’m mishearing the names, see what you think. I tried doing a web search but didn’t turn up much. I did find a pair of siblings named Jane and Patrick Foote, born to a mother with maiden name Durbin, the same as actress Maud Durbin whose name comes up in the show. I haven’t checked further to see if they’re related but perhaps a junior genealogist among you will want to take up the mantle and report back. Video here– (continue reading…)