Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Twas the Night Before Deadline

A little ditty I wrote last year and thought I'd share again this year. Enjoy!

Twas the Night Before Deadline
Adaptation by Dana Davis (my apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

Twas the night before deadline, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even my mouse.
The sticky notes hung by the computer in rows,
In hopes that my muse soon would make a show.

My characters were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of plotlines danced in my head.
And computer all booted, and hand on my mouse,
I’d just settled my brain for a long writer’s joust.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the desk to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the glass.

The moon on the pool and the landscape lights
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects in sight.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature woman in flowing apparel.

The little odd woman, so lively and loose,
I knew in a moment it must be my muse.
More rapid than eagles her course she came,
And she whistled, and shouted, and called out my game!

"Now Dashes! now, Spaces! now, Paragraphs and Verbs!
On, Comas! On, Clauses! on Headers and Blurbs!
To the top of the page! To the margin and title!
Now type away! Type away! Type away, writer!"

As dry leaves that before the wild monsoon fly,
When she meets with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So into the house the course she flew,
With a bag full of ideas, my lovely muse true.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard in my brain
The prancing and pawing of each little refrain.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Into the office my muse came with a bound.

She was dressed all in letters, from her head to her foot,
And her clothes were all garnished with phrases and words.
A bundle of ideas she had flung on her back,
And she looked like a fairy, as she opened her pack.

Her eyes-how they twinkled! her dimples how merry!
Her cheeks were like roses, her nose like a cherry!
Her droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the skin of her chin was as white as snow.

The stump of a pen she held tight in her teeth,
And the nouns they encircled her head like a wreath.
She had a round face and a little loose bun,
That bobbed when she laughed, like a hummingbird tongue!

She was chubby and plump with ideas for my shelf,
And I laughed when I saw her, in spite of myself!
A wink of her eye and a twist of her head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

She spoke not a word, but went straight to her work,
And filled all my sticky notes, then turned with a jerk.
And laying her finger aside of her nose,
And giving a nod, out the window she rose!

She danced and she laughed, and gave out a whistle,
And away she then flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard her exclaim, ‘ere she flew out of sight,
"Happy writing to all, and to all a good-night!"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Monti’s Ghost Hunt

As promised, a peek into my latest investigation. This time I went to Monti’s Restaurant in Tempe, AZ, one of the oldest establishments in the city, and a purportedly haunted establishment. This was separate from my private investigative team and not in any way affiliated with them. We had some famous guests with us, including Heathyr Hoffman from Ghost Hunters Academy and one of the original Amityville house residents. It was quite a night.

First off, the hosts told a little about themselves and their experiences in the get-acquainted hour, while the restaurant staff was clearing out customers and cleaning up. We were going to have the place to ourselves, at night, in the dark. I couldn’t wait. I brought handheld gear with me because I knew we would be moving around a lot. I had my digital camera, my digital recorder, a flashlight, an EMF (electromagnetic field) detector, a grid light, and the most important tool of all, myself.

There was one table with a small group of people who’d been drinking heavily before we ever got started. I didn’t want to be anywhere near them because I just knew they would be trouble. Or at the very least, loud and obnoxious, which is not conducive when investigating. That behavior would never be tolerated in my private investigative team but since I wasn’t with them tonight, I had no say in the matter. All I could do was stay far away from the drunks. They were loud so it was easy to avoid them.

After the introductions, I walked around the restaurant, getting to know the place a bit, and did a sweep. This means I used my EMF detector to see where the electric spikes were located. There were a couple of huge spikes in two areas of the restaurant, the hallway and the enclosed banquet room. Nothing paranormal. Just a lot of old wiring and pipes, but the amount of EMFs in those areas were enough to create a fear cage. People sensitive to electromagnetic fields can experience hallucinations, feelings of paranoia, nausea and lightheadedness, which can be mistaken for paranormal stuff. This is referred to as a fear cage. Lucky for me, I’m not very sensitive to it. Another theory is that spirits use electrical energy to manifest so sometimes ghosts will be attracted to those areas. I was open to experiences and at the same time skeptical that anything paranormal would actually happen. I’ve heard from other investigators that this is a healthy attitude to take.

As I was doing my sweep, I also took photos. The original part of the restaurant has uneven floors, another thing that can contribute to a feeling of paranormal activity, as well as a lot of mirrors. Reflections bounced around everywhere. I had to keep this in mind when looking at the photos later because mirrors can toss all kinds of light and shadows around and look like ghosts. A neat thing about the place were the original doorways that date back to the 1800s. They’re short. Even I can touch the tops of them. Creating short doors was a trick of the old western movies to make actors look bigger and I got a kick out of feeling tall. Of course, these doors weren’t created for a movie set. They were the real deal. The tin ceiling is beautiful, too, but yet another reflective surface I would need to keep in mind.

Once I finished my sweep, the real fun began. I joined Heathyr Hoffman’s group and she led us into a room with a beehive fireplace, where we sat down at a long table and set up our equipment. Two others had flashlights that twist on and off, so they set them up and we began to ask questions, hoping to get responses with the flashlights. Twist on for yes and off for no. Simple, right? I didn’t think anything would happen but we began to get responses almost right away. This excited our group and we became quite animated in-between our questions. Heathyr, who is also a sensitive, said she felt a presence in the room with us, which added to the excitement. We continued this until the activity waned.

After a while, we moved into the banquet room and started a session with those in the other groups. Again, we got responses with flashlights. Everyone seemed on their best behavior and the room was very quiet for such a large group. I don’t remember seeing the drunken people there so maybe that was the reason. Like in the other room, the activity began to fade after a while.

Next, we regrouped and switched leaders. We welcomed our new leader then headed into the Senator’s Room. Again, we set up the flashlights, and again we got direct responses to questions. Excitement swelled again and we began getting creative with our questions. Our leader seemed impressed with the results.

Once the responses stopped, we moved into yet another room, this one at the front of the restaurant. It was fairly quiet, but as we sat down, traffic picked up outside, including sirens. That’s when we realized it was 2:10 AM and the bars had just closed. We got no flashlight responses here and there was too much contamination from outside, so we headed back to the banquet room, this time with just our small group of about five people. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much this time around and we were all growing tired. At around 2:30 AM, we regrouped and called it a night.

I thanked the hosts and headed home, eager to go over my audio and photos to see if I got anything. That would have to wait, though. I needed to sleep. The next day, I went through my photos. The pictures showed nothing unusual. Oh, I got several dust “orbs” but those are just dust particles reflecting off my camera flash. That same day, I learned that one of our hosts had been in a serious car accident on his way home. He survived, thankfully, but not without serous injuries and a totaled car. Needless to say, that put quite a damper on my excitement. He’s recovering now, much to everyone’s relief.

A few days later, when I had time to listen to the audio recordings, I heard what I thought was an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon). This is some that’s not heard at the time of the investigation, but is picked up on the recorder. I sent a clip to my team director and she confirmed that it sounded like a legitimate EVP. She wasn’t present at this investigation, since it wasn’t with our team, but it’s always nice to get her input because she’s been doing this for many years. As you can imagine, I got excited. This was my second EVP, the first one being from the San Carlos (see previous blog post), and makes me want to get back over to Monti’s for another ghost hunt.

Despite the tragic accident that happened that night, I’m looking forward to future investigations. As a writer, these experiences enrich my imagination, and I have no doubt I’ll be using some of them in my future books. Dramatized, of course. After all, I am a fiction writer.

Have a wonderful holiday season and Happy New Year!

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