As you may know, I will be having a book published and released this coming September. Perhaps it was fate that led me to this publication, because just a few months ago, not only was there no book written, but I did not have any aspiration to write one after many frustrating attempts to get something done all ended in failure. I either finished a manuscript and never had the drive to edit it and send it in to try to get it published, or started on a tear and cranked out a lot of pages before losing interest and not completing it. This spring, when my computer crashed and I lost nearly every document I had written in the previous seven years, my mind was pretty much made up for me: it’s just not in the cards—focus on something else, Greg. My paranormal investigating hobby has kept me extremely busy since last September, when I co-founded Haunted Travels along with Jake Reid, which is a web series that we shoot whenever we have the chance. So I focused on that. I have also found a home at Strauss Mansion, working for their board, and being the go-to guy for paranormal investigations. After several very successful public investigations and lectures there in May, it dawned on me: I have enough notes, stories, and experiences written down about this place that I could very well have a book here. I started typing them up and throwing it all together. It was not exactly long enough, but with a few chapters on background information on ghost hunting methods and technology, as well as a brief history of the hobby and some thoughts on popular culture, I realized why yes, yes I do have a book here.
There is an old saying that goes, “When legend becomes fact, print the legend.” That is exactly what the late-Gertrude Neidlinger, former curator of the Spy House Museum in Port Monmouth, did during her time from the 1970’s through the 90’s; only she went one step further: she did not just print the legend, she made it up entirely.
There might not be a more alluring and mysterious house in all of New Jersey than the humble, little establishment that rests close to the beach overlooking New York City on what was once known as Shoal Harbor. It is a building, historically known as the Seabrook-Wilson House (two families that made it their residence during its history), and more affectionately by folklorists and locals, as the Spy House, that has many different myths and legends surrounding it, that have been cultivated over the last few decades. It is a house that is so incredibly rich in history that one would imagine it too good to be true. In fact, after doing some investigating and researching, I have found that might be exactly the case.
I didn’t want Tanner Glass either, but as I said yesterday on Twitter, amidst an overabundance of complaints about his signing, if the biggest thing Ranger fans have to complain about this off-season is an annual salary of $1.45 million being paid to a fourth liner, then that means Glen Sather did not do so bad after all. It’s a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Sather didn’t, hence the damning, and a furious one at that. The onslaught continues on social media today towards the team for signing a bottom-three grinder who really is not that good. Yes, I am disappointed, but it’s not the end of the world, and what’s done is done. In the weeks leading up to the beginning of free agency, I saw many a post from fans hoping that Sather “learned from his past mistakes” and will not sign anyone to a long-term deal. He didn’t. Now, fans complain that he did not make any big moves. Would you have rather had him blow everyone out of the water and offer perennial 60-point center Paul Stastny a seven-year deal, then complain when he does not turn into a 100-point scorer overnight? There were not that many players on the free agent market that had interest in coming to New York, or would have fit if they did, both physically and salary cap speaking. Instead of putting his ability to re-sign RFA’s Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard, and John Moore in jeopardy, he went out and signed veteran defenseman Dan Boyle for two years/$9 million, a steal, brought back Dominic Moore for 2 years/$3 million, which is pure perfection, and Tanner Glass at a questionable three years/$4.35 million. Horrible? Not exactly. Puzzling? Yes. Based on the reaction from fans, it is like he is the be all, end all of signings this season, as if the fan base was promised gold and given a tin cup instead. Ranger fans are some of the most passionate and knowledgeable in all of sports, but my goodness, there certainly are some dumb ones out there.
The New Jersey Devils are coming off a season where they were the oldest team in the NHL, at just under 30 years of age. With their signings today, they have just gotten older, which is quite an accomplishment considering they had nowhere to go but down. After 27-year-old defenseman Mark Fayne followed the money trail to Edmonton, along with Benoit Pouliot of the New York Rangers, the Devils added wingers Mike Cammalleri (32) and Martin Havlat (33), and just recently as I write this, goaltender Scott Clemmensen (36) to be Cory Schneider’s backup this season. The Cammalleri contract certainly leaves a lot to be desired, but overpayment was the order of the day, and the Devils had to cough up $5 million per season on a five-year deal, which is pretty steep for a guy who has never played a full season and has been on the decline since 2009 when he signed a mega-deal with Montreal. Since then, he has not surpassed 26 goals or 50 points. As for Havlat, he is the dictionary definition of fragile, also never playing a full season, and having one of the more injured records of any player currently in the league. Since 2005, he has suffered two season-ending shoulder injuries, and played only 48 games last season due to a lower body injury. During the campaign, he scored 12 goals and 10 assists. He is not really much of a gamble, since it is a one-year deal for only $1.5 million. You could argue that it is a low risk, high reward deal, because if he stays healthy, he could really provide an offensive spark. However, speed has always been his biggest asset and a catalyst for his offense, and that too has been on a decline for the past few seasons.
Today, I will be posting some quick hits, or my thoughts on some of the signings we have seen during free agent frenzy this afternoon, which is living up to its nickname. We have seen a lot of deals so far, some good, and some bad. Here are three of them:
Benoit Pouliot to Edmonton (5 years/ $20 million)
Though he had a career year in points scored last season (15-21-36), the journeyman Pouliot was immensely and grossly overpaid by the Edmonton Oilers today, a team that has no choice but to throw the checkbook at free agents in order to sign them. Pouliot has been on five teams during his eight NHL seasons, and did not find any consistency until this past season with the Rangers, while on a line with Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard. This led many of us to believe that he would want to stay with the Rangers, so that he career might enjoy more success. However, even with how well he played last season, he did go through stretches of invisibility and was always good for a bad penalty late in a game. This was obviously a concern for the Rangers, who were not going to even come close to 3 years/$9 million, which was a rumored offer last week. Then the Oilers came in and blew everyone out of the water. He is a big body with good hands, but will he be able to keep his head in the game? That is a question that Edmonton will hopefully have answered for them in the positive. Still, this is a terrible deal for them, since much of his success last season was a byproduct of his line-mates. His career high in goals is 17 and points is 36. He is a good third liner, but that is all. I wanted the Rangers to keep him, but for that price, take him!
The real Dracula would not have even gone by that name. He was Vlad Tepes, of the Order of the Dragon, roughly translated into Dracul, and he served as prince of Wallachia, a region in what is now Romania. Even more than 500 years after his death, he still remains a controversial figure. Though a folk hero to the Romanian people, and also to Eastern European Christians due to his vicious opposition against the Ottoman invasion of his home country, he is more known for his horrific cruelty than anything else. He is the man whose name was altered to “Dracula”, thus becoming a literary and film legend more than a century later. While Vlad’s entire life story may not be known, and the history that has been recorded over the centuries might not be entirely accurate (his enemies may have painted a more evil picture of him than what was true), what is certain is that he was, in fact, one of the most bloodthirsty rulers in human history, a man who had tens of thousands horrifically tortured and executed. It is a story that has never been told in Hollywood, though Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula spent the first few minutes on the “real” figure and his main method of execution: impalement. Be that as it may, I have waited years for the real story to be told. Given this current generation’s love of all things violent and bloody, and how such movies rake it in at the box office, you would think that by now, such a project would have sprung up. I was excited the other day, when I saw a trailer announced for a film due out in, of course, October, titled Dracula Untold, and thought that this might finally be it. Upon further inspection, I then learned the truth: it wasn’t.
Demons! Demons everywhere! In a way, I blame the Discovery Channel series A Haunting, when back in 2005 or 2006, their episodes started to drift from ordinary haunted house stories to those of evil entities and demonic possession. From that moment on, no house was ever subject to a regular, good old-fashioned haunting by ghosts, or spirits of deceased owners or those who died on the property. No, every haunting was caused by evil spirits and demons, who brutally oppressed the bewildered new owners, and, more often than not, possessed them. Every episode, save for the characters and setting, was nearly identical, with a priest of various faiths being called to the residence within the final third of the show to drive the demons out of the person or house. The people would then talk about how the atmosphere or energy in the house was “lighter” and then they move on with their lives, all happily ever after, of course. Being a paranormal investigator, and a realistic one at that, I do not have to tell you how utterly preposterous those episodes are, because if the small and random sampling of “hauntings” as seen on the show were an accurate percentage of all those whose houses are actually haunted, being an exorcist would be a full-time profession and a multi-million dollar industry.