September 2, 2009

GH: Thornbury Farm

Sorry for the extended delay. Aside from a prolonged case of the Labor-Day lazies I also found this episode to be particularly uninspiring and have come to grips with the fact that in a post-collargate world I simply can't be impressed with anything TAPS does. The most impressive thing in the world can happen and at this point all I would think is, "I wonder how they pulled that off". Still, I'll do my best not to let my cynicism drown out any genuine skepticism so here is the review:

Thornberry Farm is apparently a very historic site. One of the largest land battles of the Revolutionary War, the battle of Brandywine took place there with over 18,000 troops clashing on the battlefield. Inside the house there were varying reports but one of the more prominent ones had little to do with the battle and instead surrounded the legend of a little girl. Their hosts said they sometimes hear sobbing coming from one of the bedrooms and during the investigation while Jay & Grant were downstairs from this room trying to talk to dead soldiers they (and we) suddenly heard something strikingly similar to that description followed by what seemed to be footsteps in the room above. Of course they went upstairs to investigate and no further evidence on the matter was found.

In the Spring House, another building on the property, there was reported to be another haunting, also with no apparent connection to the battle. This spirit was described as mischievous and while Jay was talking to it suddenly the small flashlight clipped to his jacket went on. He removed it from his jacket and put it down some distance from either himself or Grant, where it proceeded to turn itself on twice more (after first being turned off again, of course).

My biggest gripe with the entire thing was that Jay and Grant went on about how cold the flashlight was, yet still no trace of all those wonderful thermometers they had back in season one — apparently we're still measuring temperature by touch, proving that as GHI gets more scientific TAPS becomes less so. Also of course there is still the question of whether the flashlight was set up to "help" the "ghost".  We know from previous flashlight experiments — direct from Grant's mouth — that they had screwed/unscrewed the battery compartment cap so the flashlight would go on with the slightest vibration. This was supposedly done to make it easier for the spirit to turn on. Even during that demonstration Jay and Grant had mentioned how difficult it was to turn the flashlight on (despite later acknowledging it was not at all difficult because of how they set up the flashlight) so when Grant repeatedly emphasized how difficult this particular flashlight was to turn on I still have to wonder if that's really the case.

Still, it seemed impressive that the experiment repeated 3 times and even with no one near the flashlight, and I still have no explanation for the sobbing/weeping sound. I also lack an airtight explanation for the "true" EVP that was caught following the third time the flashlight went on: a recording that seemed to be a laugh or chuckle. I say it is a "true" EVP because it appeared on only one recording device and that suggests it was not an audible sound but something imprinted directly on the device. The best explanation I can come up with is that the warbling sound could be some sort of unremarkable electronic interference, but of course I have no explanation why it should appear at that particular moment.

Ultimately, when something seems like a genuine mystery as some of this evidence indeed seems to be, I find myself leaning towards the explanation it was hoaxed — and I really hate myself for that because I have criticized other skeptics for jumping to that explanation way too early and without any real evidence. Still, there is some circumstantial evidence at this point: we've seen a number of events that we could probably prove to a jury of our peers beyond reasonable doubt they were hoaxed, and one in particular where it's essentially scientifically provable. We also have the fact that while Jay and Grant repeatedly have these very fascinating experiences the rest of their team almost invariably reports in that nothing remarkable happened to them or around them the entire investigation. Even if we wiped our memories of every specific instance where evidence strongly indicated hoaxing, after 5 years of things happening repeatedly and exclusively to the two guys who founded the team while everyone else comes up with a goose egg we'd be stupid not to be suspicious.

My advice to Jay and Grant: I liked that during the investigation in this season's premiere the tinny-sounding voice came out of nowhere while the girls were investigating in the basement and you two were nowhere in sight. Give us more of that. The stuff where Jay pans the FLIR around in an obviously restricted-and-not-genuinely-searching-for-anything manner and then eventually turns it back on Grant, who takes the opportunity to emphasize that since he was on camera there it couldn't possibly have been him running past earlier — yeah… that whole thing isn't really working for me.

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Comments on GH: Thornbury Farm »

September 2, 2009

Matt @ 11:26 pm

Woo-hoo! I'm first. I love coming here after the episodes. Can't wait to hear what you guys have to say about the flashlight. I, unfortunately, have nothing to add to the conversation.

tourmaline @ 11:39 pm

The thing with the flashlight was very intriguing, however I wish they had demonstrated on camera the mechanism by which the flashlight is turned on and off. I love history, and I loved seeing the house and property. It was very evocative.

September 3, 2009

Revenant @ 12:42 am

Tourmaline-"The thing with the flashlight was very intriguing, however I wish they had demonstrated on camera the mechanism by which the flashlight is turned on and off."

I'll go one step further. I would have liked to have seen that flashlight pulled apart so we could know for sure that there was no trickery involved. I'm sorry, but at this point in the game, Grant's word that it's just an old flashlight that they've used for years isn't good enough. Was I the only one who got a red flag in his head when Grant added how hard it is to turn on the flashlight? So you can buy an Inn, but you can't buy a new flashlight that doesn't give you problems turning on or off?

Another thing that seemed odd to me was Jason's reaction to the flashlight first turning on by itself. It was pinned to his jacket. It turns on. For a moment, he "appears" shocked. Then he simply turns his head and smiles at Grant. Again…another red flag. Isn't this the same guy who took a swing at a shadow in a prison on another episode? He didn't take a step back. He didn't look around for shadows, mist, or an apparition. His two first physical reactions are to look down for a moment and then to smile at Grant to his right. Again, is that just me or is there something weird about that?

And can someone please check something for me? I only saw the show once, I didn't record it (long story). The third time the flashlight came on, Jason's left hand held, presumably, just a recorder. Just as he pointed it at the flashlight, the flashlight turned on. My question is, where was his left hand which was holding that recorder during the second time that the flashlight turned on? Was it also pointing at the flashlight? You can guess where I'm going with this. Just trying to rule out possibilities…

Oubliette @ 12:44 am

Some quick comments before going to bed:

1. Having acted in regional theatre, IMO Jay and Grant flubbed their lines in Kate's bedroom after hearing that either very fake or animal sound. They fumbled through that scene; looks like neither was on the right page on the script. Why it wasn't reshot I can't figure out, but then again sometimes some scenes never come out right no matter how many takes are made. If that wasn't scripted, I'd be very surprised.

2. Both seemed tired and bored; Jay's remark about getting out of there after the reveal was a bit disrespectful. He couldn't wait to hit the road. I thought it sounded rude.

3. The flashlight–too similar to the one they put on the floor and that blinks on and off on command. Others here, I'm sure, will come up with various ways this could have been pulled off. And why didn't the gals get anything of import in that same area? Again, Jay and Grant get all the good stuff while the rest of the cast get little or nothing by way of important evidence. It seems the girls never get anything approaching success but enter the Dynamic Duo and things start hopping.

4. Jay looked tired or hung over and simply was going through the motions. Note to Jay: get more rest and try to look like you really care. Maybe lay off the booze before filming. Again, just my thoughts. Goodnight, all.

tourmaline @ 2:12 am

This is off topic and I don't want to devolve into character assassination or gossip, BUT…there is s scene with Grant and Jay on the Queen Mary episode where Jay acts so uncharacteristically bizarre that I can only assume he had been drinking. First he tells Grant that Grant is "hot" and then he starts drunkenly talking in a silly voice which makes even Grant do a double take and look uncomfortable. Very strange. Every time I see that part of that episode, I think "Jay please lay off the sauce when you have to do an investigation. Please. For me." lol

Realdeal @ 3:44 am

Wow, two questionable EVP's and a flashlight turning on and off and the place is definitely haunted! I remember a post in the fourms where Stephen mentioned the magic flashlight Jason uses is a Inova X5 is this the same one? I know its at least magic like the other one.

Learjet @ 5:04 am

@ Revenant, the second time the flashlight comes on, Jason's left hand is swinging freely by his side.

I could be wrong but it doesn't look like they made this one easy to turn on like they normally do by adjusting the end cap at the threshold.

I would have liked them to have placed an EMF meter and a thermometer near the flashlight to get some readings while they were doing this, especially since the flashlight went cold.

StanTheMan @ 7:55 am

I was watching Grant during the flashlight incidents and in the first turn-on he seems to turn away in a strange way and his right hand was in his pocket. For the other two he positions himself behind Jason and again I think his hand was in his pocket. I thought his positioning was very suspect. If I see a light turn itself on I would be as close to it as possible with any other equipment I had. It was also a bit too perfect to have a "prankster ghost" playing a prank.

I also thought it strange that during the tour the owner told about hearing footsteps in the floor above him in the 1990's. So he has lived in the house at least a decade and heard the steps once, must be paranormal. I knew right when he told them that the dynamic duo would hear steps and they didn't disappoint. Also the previous owner child saw a women and child once. She never said anyone else saw them and the present owner never said he saw them so being seen once, by a child no less, is evidence which draws TAPS to investigate.

Angelayo1970 @ 8:24 am

Couple of thoughts. I DVR'd this and watched the flashlight scene several times to make sure I was seeing this correctly.

Flashlight incident 1: Grant's right hand, which had been swinging freely as he held the camera in his left, was in his pocket fidgeting around the first time the flashlight came on (when it was still clipped to Jason's shirt.)

Flashlight incident 2: Grant's right hand, fidgeting in pocket.

Flashlight incident 3: Grant's right hand (or left hand, for that matter) can't be seen because he is all but hidden behind Jason, which I thought was odd. Usually they are standing side by side.

This really raised a big red flag for me. I'm wondering how long it will be until this one is added to Grant's list as well.

Nosfer @ 8:47 am

@Learjet…I'll go you one better. I'd like to have seen the thermal trained on the flashlight. If it got cold we should see it change before our eyes. But if they couldn't swing that, a regular IR thermometer hit on it would be nice.

I also was watching hands very closely and it was odd that Grant was quite hidden or with a hand in pocket. Isn't this also the first time Jason's ever worn a flashlight? I always get suspicious when things happen right off when you see them doing something new (like clipping it on)

And what was Grant saying about this never happening before? Maybe not with THAT particular light, but….

And Grant's reactions "Did that just turn on?" "Awesome" etc were just too "unrealistic" for my liking.

alicat @ 9:39 am

I've come to the conclusion that the TAPS Boot Camp must have a class entitled "TAPS Acting 101" and is poorly taught by Jason & Grant or possibly the wives. No Emmmy, Tony, Oscar. Hasty Pudding or even a Razzie in their future.

SparkyWoof @ 11:38 am

I heard an audible click before the EVP they heard while in the living room. was loud enough to hear on the production audio. When this happned i started paying very close attention to G&J's hands, i couldn't see their right/left hands respectively. though for all anyone knows the camera man was holding the recorder.

At the same time i payed attention to grants reaction when i started hearing the noise on the production audio. he seemed to kind of half ass his normal "what the heck was that"

SparkyWoof @ 11:42 am

@ Oubliette

He might have wanted to get out of there as fast as possible because he knew he was selling them some pretty bad snake oil this go around. maybe his conscience is starting to nag a little

The Doctor @ 1:14 pm

Once again our Techmangler has 5 cameras hooked up, but only calls out 4 of them.

The best shot of it is over Steve's shoulder when they are discussing the placement of the wireless mike. A 3x of Cam 1 covers most of the screen – the missing cam is the bottom one on the column on the right. I can't find a location match for it.

Curious that the Spring House, with reports of a "Prankster" who moves things and closes doors, get no cam at all.

… and wouldn't you know it, that's where the visual "evidence" shows up.

The Doctor @ 1:18 pm

BTW – Anyone notice the Christmas lights tacked on the kids bed ?

Think our Ghost Hunters should have tested or mentioned this possible "fear cage" ?

Bobarino @ 1:40 pm

I agree with all the comments about the flashlight.

I would just add that after it happened, along with all the comments about it being hard to turn on, he made a comment something about it being a prank by the ghost almost like a "see it wasn't us". I just felt that comment was directed at people like us, if not us directly. That comment caught my notice more than the flashlight turning on and off.

I wish I remembered what he said exactly. You know, they say memory is the second thing to go when you get old… Of course it doesn't help I was falling asleep during the episode, and I did not record it. Hopefully someone can re-listen and post what he said.

J. @ 2:08 pm

Bobarino: Was it Grant when was speaking to the prankster ghost and said "Alright, alright. You did it twice." ?

Handsty @ 2:14 pm

Nobody mentions where J's hands are during the flashlight incident. I believe they were (at least one was) in his pocket(s). We are all on to Grant so they have to shift things over to J. Quite honestly it never dawned on me that he could be boozing. That's hysterical. I'll have to watch for that. Revenant, that is funny. Can afford an inn but not a new flashlight. I thought perhaps it was somehow remotely controlled by J to go and off.

My favorite part of the show was with Tat (Steve) and Tango in the barn with the whip.

StanTheMan @ 2:27 pm

Handsty – it could very well be Jason "assisting" the ghost but I was very suspicious of Grant's intentional positioning/turning throughout the incident. He was almnost hidding behind Jason and getting Jason between him and camera.

Revenant @ 2:43 pm

Handsty- "Revenant, that is funny. Can afford an inn but not a new flashlight. I thought perhaps it was somehow remotely controlled by J to go and off."

Well, I didn't want to come right out and say it, but…that is definitely a possibility. So far in the thread, there has been a great deal of talk about Grant and his odd behavior. I understand why, especially when one considers "The Grant List," yet, I am not ready to rule out Jason. He does not get a pass in this. Just because Grant "seems" guilty of other things does not mean that he was guilty in this instance. By the same token, Jason should just not be presumed innocent because Grant was in the room at the same time.

Beyond really wanting to examine that flashlight, I would really like to examine the device that Jason was holding. And whatever Grant had on him as well. Unfortunately, we'll never get that chance.

Can we consider the flashlight turning on three different times as evidence of the paranormal? Since we cannot verify whether or not the flashlight had been tampered with and since we cannot verify whether or not J&G or the camera crew had some sort of remote control device, I do not see how we can. There are just too many unanswered questions about this event. We only have the word of "J&G" that everything is in proper working order…and their word simply cannot be trusted. I'm throwing this event onto the ever-growing pile of "highly questionable" evidence…

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