September 4, 2008
GH: Iron Island Museum
With a few strong investigations under their belt, the GHI team promptly racked up disappointments and frustrated their viewers to an incredible extent. The return of more Ghost Hunters episodes with investigations conducted by the original TAPS team we've come to know (and love?) was always going to be something to look forward to, but I couldn't have imagined just how much I'd been looking forward to it until I actually saw the credits rolling. In fact, TAPS kicked off this next batch with a full-episode investigation that one might say actually knocked my socks off. It didn't, I'm still wearing them, but it really was that good.
I will say though, that I'm glad I wasn't eating anything at the very start of this episode or else I might have choked to death on it in disbelief when I saw Grant and Jay reprising yet again their supposed role as Roto-Rooter plumbers who happen to bring a camera crew around with them everywhere they go just in case they get a call from the TAPS office on their cellphone. Grant: "We're just finishing up with a condensate line here and then we'll come over and talk about it." Good thing you guys are out making real money for a living while Kris & Co. are living it up in the cushy office you paid for with your hard-earned plumbing money, guys. Kudos on being able to have cameras running to film both ends of that conversation, despite the impromptu nature of the matter.
Lest I get too deep into the annoying the staged bits of the show (which cause us to suspect other bits of the show may be "re-enacted" as well), I'm going to let the matter stand here because — after all, the lead-in is just the lead-in and the main event here is well worth sitting through the opening band.
The Iron Island Museum in Buffalo, New York is nothing exciting. Architecturally, it can't hold a candle to a single site GHI investigated this season. The most interesting thing about the building is that it was originally a Church and still has a vaulted ceiling in the attic and original stained glass windows up there as well. The most interesting historical detail also seems rather boring when compared to what GHI has been up to. No brutal murders or armies clashing, the most interesting thing that happened here is that the Church became a funeral home. On a coincidental note, one of the museum's volunteer's recalled that her little brother died just shy of age seven and was laid out in that very building back in the late 1960's. They did have a special in memorium section just for him.
The contents of the museum were equally unremarkable. I mean no offense to those who put their time into maintaining and growing the museum, simply that they are not housing any great works of art — it is a cultural museum meant to preserve some basic history of their little corner of the world, specifically as relates to railroads (how they got their name) and now military history.
As usual, during the tour they were told about the experiences that happened to others in the building and one of them struck a chord with me: One of the women who volunteers there (and told her experience directly to the GH production team's camera — I always like a first-hand story better than second-hand one) found a picture frame on the floor one day, apparently just standing up like it belonged there. She thought it was odd but just picked it up and put it back on the table. The thing is, the same thing happened multiple times and eventually she started getting freaked out. I mean, if it fell off the table that would be one thing, but who would pick up a picture frame and place it standing on the floor, again and again?
Certainly, there is always the age-old possibility that someone was playing a joke on her, but if we could rule that out (and we cannot) then there's really no other straightforward reason I can think of that anyone would take a single picture frame and place it on the floor. It just seems like a completely odd thing for someone to do.
Another woman who volunteered there got increasingly uncomfortable after "feeling" someone — possibly children — was in the room with her and had to leave. This stood out to me in quite the opposite way from the first story: someone left because they had a "feeling" and someone is supposed to investigate that? How do you have a "feeling" that "children" are in the room? I could understand hearing children, but this story just had me thinking "…and ?"
This oddness followed them into the basement, where their host told them there had been "talk of" and nasty, angry man and "talk of" children. What does this mean, "talk of" ?? What reason do people believe specifically that there is a "man" who is "nasty" and "angry" and/or "children" haunting the basement? Saying there has been "talk of" is just about the least helpful, least specific report I've ever seen someone give to TAPS on any of their investigations. It may be just the way they cut it, perhaps she elaborated and we just weren't shown the footage, but I was just shaking my head and shrugging at this point in the tour.
…and I continued to be confused as she talked about a "Shadow Man" that has been seen around the building. In one particular case she gave a very detailed account how someone had seen this "Shadow Man" go down a specific hallway and look into a room, and I'm wondering how you can tell a shadow man is "looking" into a room. I mean, was he standing at the edge of the doorway and leaning inwards? If you could see enough detail to make out the eyes or even the head turning, doesn't that make this not a "Shadow Man" ?
She even said that the individual in questions ran up to find no one in the area and all of the doors were still locked. To me, it seems that if someone saw this much activity from a distance and still checked the doors, then he must have thought it was a real person that he'd been seeing. "Shadow Men" on the other hand are fairly consistently reported to be like freestanding shadows (often in the shape of a man) where no shadow should be. I'm wondering if the "Shadow Man" aspect was added in later, because when people report seeing these things it's usually in the context that they immediately recognized it was not an actual person and it totally freaked them out — as opposed to your average "ghost" report, where someone sees someone in another room (who they believe to be a living, breathing human being) and then subsequently discover the person to have vanished into thin air.
Kristyn Gartland accompanied the TAPS team on this investigation and while she was doing an interview with the camera about the little boy who had died (and how, as a mother she couldn't imagine losing a child) we get out first sign that this episode is actually going to be a whole lot more interesting than one might have first expected. While she is talking there is a sound, and replaying the tape you can see a glint of light over her right shoulder. It would seem that the main door to the building opened and shut behind her while she was talking.
Pilgrim diligently went through their footage and it turned out they actually had video of their host locking that door. Not only that, but the door had little square windows set into it and TAPS had draped a blanket over it to block out any light from outside that might interfere with the investigation. The blanket covered both doors from what I could see, which basically rules out someone actually slipping through that door in the short amount of time before Kris, Kristyn and their camera operator reacted. Literally, everyone was facing in that direction except Kristyn — and unfortunately she was standing in between the camera and the door (facing the camera as she spoke) but Kris Williams apparently had a clear view and she saw what she described as a shadow move from right to left and through the door.
Certainly, without a key the only way to unlock the door would be from the inside, and the door was in fact unlocked when they got to it. There seems to be very little question as to whether the door opened and closed: I would say it definitely did. The question is, was it opened and closed by a living, breathing human being? The blanket, which was still in place when the girls opened the door a moment later, would seem to suggest otherwise. Someone would have to be extraordinarily quick and nimble to turn the deadbolt, open the door and duck underneath the blanket, all while a camera was pointed in their general direction, but quick enough not to get caught.
Jay & Grant where in the van monitoring at the time and no one on the crew was supposed to be by the front door. I don't think they completely ruled out a person slipping out that door and then running down the block or hiding around the corner, which is unfortunate. Still, if that was someone hoaxing then it was one of the most simultaneously brilliantly simple, audaciously risky and smoothly executed hoaxing attempts I've ever heard of. With Kris Williams having a clear view and the camera just barely missing the money shot, I'm basically left thinking that this would almost require a TAPS hoaxing conspiracy to pull off, because who would even attempt that considering the risk of being caught in the act?
A short while later, Jay & Gran were doing an interactive EVP session with their always-on K2 meter when they started to get when they believed to be responses (after telling the spirits to wave their hand in front of the device). In fact, they got a much bigger response then I've ever seen them get on the blasted little device — at one point the light stopped flickering on and off and simply went solid and approached the top of the scale. We've discussed at length how there is absolutely no science behind the claim that any EMF radiation it is picking up is ghosts, but still that's a heckuva signal to suddenly pick up out of nowhere in the middle of a room.
J&G asked for more activity, and suddently there was now banging (like footsteps) coming from the attic. They assigned Dave Tango & Steve Gonsalves to keep investigating the EMF while they checked out what the heck was up in the attic, and Dave & Steve did manage to find an unshielded copper wire running along the basement ceiling which was giving off a high EMF read. Still, the read they were getting was consistent, while the read Jay & Grant got was nil originally and then fluctuated and grew.
Grant climbed the ladder and popped his head through the small opening that gave access to the attic area. He used the FLIR for a few minutes until they satisfied themselves that there weren't rats or racoons running around up there. After that they unfortunately seemed to put it away and opt for no video recording equipment in the attic — which is even more disappointing (or convenient) considering what came next: The thumping continued and Grant reported that some of them even sounded like they were right next to him, but he couldn't see anything making them and there wasn't even any floor on which to walk — just rafters.
What happened next was Grant said something blocked out the light of one of the far windows and that the shadow appeared to be moving straight towards him. He scooched down to clear his head out of the attic, afraid it might be an animal or something that could hurt him. This was accompanied by rapid thumps/footsteps that they said seemed to originate from the far area of the attic and move rapidly towards Grant.
At around this same time, Grant said he heard what sounded like an old man whispering. I'm curious how anyone can differentiate an "old man" whispering from anyone else whispering, but that's another question entirely. Grant also later heard what he thought was an "older woman saying something", which Jay also heard but said he thought it sounded like a sight and didn't hear any words.
After seeing all this excitement second-hand Jay had to experience the attic for himself, so he popped his head up there and reported that he also was seeing something occasionally block out the light of that window, but he couldn't make out what it was. Why no one offered them a DVR camera or even a flashlight is beyond my comprehension. It's sloppy investigating at best and calculated showmanship at worst.
They then sent Dave Tango into the attic with a camera guy, which was nice except nothing happened. It looked like he was in there for a while too, but nothing whatsoever occurred. If there really was something, like an animal, that J&G had seen it's possible that two people actually climbing all the way into the attic (instead of just sticking their heads up through a hole in the ceiling) might have scared it into hiding. The excuse on the ghostly end of things was that perhaps the spirits had expended all their energy interacting with Jay & Grant.
Well, maybe not. There were a few EVPs and these were some of the best I have yet heard. There was one that seemed to be a male voice saying, "Whaddya want?" in response to Jay & Grant and that woman's voice they both heard was captured as well, although what she was saying is unclear (assuming it really is a woman's voice and not just the human brain interpreting it that way). When their host heard it she said the voice sounded familiar and she believed the language to be Polish, although she didn't explain why.
The coup de'grace though, was an EVP recorded when Tango was frustrated (and cursing) up in the attic, thinking he was getting no response. The recording is as clear as I've ever heard and I don't think there can be much doubt it is a voice saying, "LEAVE ME ALONE". In fact, it sounds exactly like you'd expect it to if someone wrote this episode as an episiode script and sent it to the audio effects department.
Honestly, I'm not sure what to think. This is about as definitive as TAPS has ever gotten, and I'm very excited about it but I can't help but have reservations. That last EVP could almost be described as "too perfect", the door opening and closing right in front of three people and a camera seems too risky to even attempt. I don't know whether to be astounded by or suspicious of the evidence our favorite Ghost Hunters collected during this investigation, but it certainly made for good TV.
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