November 19, 2008
GH: Clovis Avenue Sanitarium
So it looks like the "Plumber" thing isn't going to go away. During All Access 2008 Jay & Grant reassured us they were still on Roto-Rooter's payroll, and they've made it clear they feel that gives them license to stage scenes where they begin to install a "New GE Washer" in someone's basement just as Kris Williams calls to say she's found an amazing place to visit 3,000 miles away in California and they should all drive there right away, for a single investigation, because no one has the cojones to B. A. Baracus Steve and slip some valium into his OJ.
Also, it gives them an excuse to bring in Amy Bruni, who is part of the TAPS family on the west coast, and apparently, from the All Access 2008 announcement she will now be joining them full time? I'm not really sure, it didn't seem that way from this investigation at least. After what they did last year — with that guy who won the contest to become the "Next Ghost Hunter" and then that apparently meant he got to hold an EMF detector for ten minutes before going home for the rest of his life. Maybe he just found out that being a cop makes him a lot more money than Jay & Grant were willing to part with.
There were, of course, an array of personal experiences related during the initial walkthrough but one in particular stood out to me. I'd heard a similar story during the walkthrough at Fort Mifflin and it strikes me as one of the most credible types of eyewitness reports: where multiple people see the same thing. In this case, a tour guide looked over and saw a man that looked rather odd. he noticed the man was wearing a white shirt and that his face seemed blurry, and then the man just faded into thin air. Before he could say anything, one of the people in the group said, "Did you see that?" Now of course such a story could be manufactured to seem credible, but assuming it's true I think it's much more intriguing than many other experiences because we can pretty much rule out hallucination, or even misidentification of something seen from the corner of the eye.
I also want to make sure I properly malign a bad habit that's been going on for some time, both with TAPS and Ghost Hunters International: The Telephone Game. As Kris Williams walks into the basement she tells Amy Bruni about the stuffed animal that "moves around". No, it doesn't move around. It moved around. Once. This seems relatively minor, but such errors are frequent and sometimes they're decidedly less benign. In one GHI investigation Robb was told that the employees made up a name for the male ghost they believe haunts the building, and shortly thereafter Robb told his team the name of the spirit they were trying to contact was "Frank" (or whatever the name that the employees had jokingly made up was), and suddenly everyone is trying to contact someone named "Frank". Then there was the time the restaurant owner told Grant about a "Musky" smell, and Grant repeated the word "Musky" but a couple of hours later he was telling everyone he found the source of the "Musty" smell and "debunked" it. TAPS needs to take their investigations a little more seriously because just a tiny bit of sloppiness can have significant consequences for an investigation.
While Kris & Amy were in the basement they heard a bang, which turned out to be a large rock (or piece of concrete?) someone had dropped near the top of the stairs. I'm sorry, but with all the mounting evidence for hoaxing I pretty much need to see video of that rock floating or materializing out of thin air before I'm going to rule out normal explanations (like Grant seeing a rock on his way into the building and thinking, "I know what I'm going to do with that later"). Without some specific evidence to point to a paranormal explanation, this going right in my paranormal trash can.
Upstairs Steve & Dave were trying to get the spirits to make some noise when they heard something: apparently some papers had fallen from a box. They weren't sure if the papers had been place in the box though, or on top of it. This is where wonder twin powers were activated. They rewound their cameras and tried to determine what the original location of the papers were, and when they couldn't detemine that conclusively they went to command central and used the large LCD so they could make that determination — and the papers had fallen off the box, not jumped out from inside the box. Their admirable investigative efforts were paid off with good karma: they placed the papers on top of the box and stomped around trying to make them fall off, but the papers stayed put, so their recreation still allows for paranormal possibilities.
Jay & Grant went down into the basement, I guess to investigate the rock, and they heard what Grant called "the loudest disembodied voice I've ever heard in my life". Forgive me for not getting excited, but as I've mentioned previously I just find it extremely unlikely that the dead just this season of Ghost Hunters figured out how to audibly talk to the living, and they've chosen to do it only when Jay & Grant are in the room, and to sound "tinny" like they're being played through a speaker. Oh, and for once it's almost crystal clear what this voice said, "I like the one in the hat" — seemingly referring to Jason. Honestly, it sounded to me like someone was doing their unflattering impression of a mentally challenged person.
But no one can accuse Jay & Grant of not keeping up on the latest hoaxing theories. Immediately after hearing the voice Jay asked Grant if that was his walkie. Grant responds that it wasn't, pulls out his handheld recorder and says it wasn't that either because it's still recording. They then proceed to search the area for hidden speakers, but regrettably find nothing.
Eager to play along though, and continue his bad habit of making false promises to ghosts, Jay offers up his hat to this alleged spirit. He also pulls the flashlight trick, where he loosens the battery cap so it will go on with the slightest touch from a spirit (or vibration from anywhere else) and then puts it on the floor. The flashlight went on, but Jay still left with the hat. Initially it looked like TAPS has neglected to cover the flashlight with a camera too, which would have been humorously angering, but it turns out Steve's DVR cam got it and it did indeed turn on when no one was touching it. When they tried for a followup though, asking the spirit to turn it back on by the count of 5, the light remained off. Maybe it's because the spirit was miffed about not getting Jason's hat after the first time.
One solid piece of last minute debunking was delivered by Amy Bruni, who was researching the owner's reports that 911 had been dialed from the building multiple times despite having no working phone and most of the lines being cut. It turned out he might not have working phones but he had a working phone system and the particular type of system he had was programmed to call 911 automatically in the event of an emergency. In fact, apparently other systems of this type are known to malfunction occasionally and call 911 for no apparent reason, so mystery solved! Our phone lines are free from spirits for one more day. No Ghost in the Machine to worry about just yet.
So all in all, there was some impressive investigating done, nothing in the way of impressive evidence, and a couple of highly suspicious things masquerading as impressive evidence. Standard fare, eh?
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