For Sham! TAPS En Vacance

In which the Atlantic Paranormal Society pretends to investigate the Winchester Mystery House, and then, in a tour de force of – something, “debunks” faked “evidence” on the haunted Queen Mary.  Who faked the evidence?  The Talking Mongoose has some ideas.

Now that we chumps at the Ouija Board know to our dissatisfaction that those hucksters of hauntings, peddlers of the paranormal, drummers of duplicity, TAPS, are working both sides of the fence, we’re not going to subject ourselves to the agony of examining episodes like the Bradley Playhouse yawner in depth. Life is too damn short. Mme. Blahblatsky has dogs to walk, and the Talking Mongoose has become enamored of Gordon Ramsay and Sir Alan Sugar. Where we focus our gimlet eyes from now on will depend on pure whim. It’s not like we’re going to run out of episodes anytime soon, as they’re being run off the Pilgrim production line as fast as Krispy Kreme makes doughnuts.

So per Talking Mongoose request, we’re off to California. This is a transcripty recarp of episode 211, the R.M.S. Queen Mary, of the “reality show” in which “Ghost Hunters” pretend to hunt and/or debunk ghosts.

Disclaimer: Pilgrim Pilgrim Pilgrim. Have you told your mothers what you do for a living? All the silly dialogue of these hustlers belongs to Pilgrim Films and Television. They are making moola off it. We are just getting moody.

In this episode, TAPS “investigates” the Winchester Mystery House, which, in terms of hunting ghosts, unless you are deeply invested in the wild imaginings of the sad, guilt-ridden Sarah Winchester, is akin to visiting Cinderella’s castle to verify the existence of Cinderella.

TM: Or ordering Welsh rabbit expecting to get rabbit.

MB: Or finding diamonds at Diamond Head.

TM: Or a casino in Clams Casino.

MB: Or Queen Mary on the Queen Mary.

TM: Or ham in hamburgers.

MB: Or Pilgrims at Pilgrim Films.

TM: Or eggs in egg creams, or cream in cream soda, or…

MB: Okay, I think we’ve run this one into the ground.

Narrator: “On this episode of Ghost Hunters, TAPS travels to California, to investigate one of the most unusual haunted housed yet. But will Steve’s inexperienced tech team hold up the investigation? And will this tangled web of a mansion overwhelm the team? And then TAPS tours a luxury liner full of supernatural activity. Will the ghost hunters capture evidence of the spirits? Steve and Dave make a shocking discovery.

We see staircases to nowhere, Donna slapping Dave Tango’s hand away from a fruit bowl, then Donna and Dave in a dance clutch, an infrared view of Jason, Steve getting dizzy, Grant getting “touched” and Steve and Dave getting in a tizzy. There is the usual dramatic drummy music.

TM: American reality show music is so overwrought compared to British reality show music. They just whack you with a two-by-four, don’t they?

MB: That you would even be able to draw a comparison concerns me. Look – there’s Race Rock Lighthouse again.

TM: We were so young and innocent back then, weren’t we?

MB: Eh. We were rapidly aging chumps.

The episode credits include Investigator Andy, Demonologist Twins Carl and Keith, and Tech Specialist Dustin, who are all, alas, going to be missing in action for this one.

The Roto-Rooter van is on the road in Rhode Island. A phone rings inside it, and we hear Jason say hello.

Donna: “Hey, Jason. Donna.”

MB: Donna!

TM: See? You’re almost glad to be back in the second season, aren’t you?

MB: Temporarily.

Jason is driving. Grant is in the passenger seat. They have been driving around for ages in that damn van, waiting for Donna to call.

Jason: “What’s up?”

Donna: “Uh, listen. I have a really interesting case that I really want to speak to you guys about.”

Jason: “Yeah, that’s fine. I’ll be there in about a half hour.”

Donna: “All right. Bye.”

It’s time for an over-rehearsed confab in the conference room at TAPS headquarters in downtown Warwick.

Donna: “How you doin’, guys?”

Grant: “Good.”

Jason: “So what’s this all about?”

Donna, with glee: “The Winchester Mystery House.”

Jason: “In California?”

MB: No, the one in Jersey.

TM: No, the one in Dubai!

Donna: “Yeah, Sarah Winchester is the – uh – was the widower [sic] who owned the house.”

Grant: “Right.”

Jason: “Yeah, I’m very familiar with the Winchester mansion. Uh – she died at the age of 83 and that’s when construction stopped but up until that point a psychic had told her she need to keep on building to protect herself from the spirits that killed her husband and daughter. I love the idea of checking it out but it’s also in San Jose, California.”

Grant: “Yeah.”

TM: You know. Jason totally had to look up who Sarah Winchester was before this scene.

MB: No, he didn’t. “She died at the age of 83” just came tripping out of his mouth. Didn’t you know Sarah Winchester died at the age of 83?

TM: I did not.

MB: Yeah, I couldn’t even remember her first name. But I don’t believe Jason looks things up. I don’t believe he knows how. It’s that darn alphabet – very tricky.

TM: Donna looked it up for him.

Jason: “Is there anything else we’ve got?”

Donna, all smiles: “I’m glad you asked that question. The Queen Mary.”

Jason pretends to consider this, furrowing his brow.

Donna: “Long Beach? It’s a tourist attraction that’s touted for having paranormal activity.”

Grant: “As long as they’re ready for our answer, be it haunted or not.”

MB: I don’t think the Queen Mary could give two figs whether two plumbers from Rhode Island think it’s haunted or not.

TM: Or one fig.

Jason: “These places have always been on our list.”

Donna, acting up a storm: “So I’m really excited. I really want to go and check this out.”

Jason pats her hand: “All right. Absolutely.”

Donna squeals and giggles: “Thank you!”

Grant, taken aback by Donna’s near-hysteria: “Thank you! Jeez. Merry Christmas.”

Jason: “The – uh – mystery house – me and Grant have always wanted to go there and check it out. We’re finally gonna get the chance and Donna just sweetened the deal by bring up the Queen Mary so we’ve got two places that have always been on our top ten list. It’s definitely worth the four-day trip it’s gonna take us to get there.”

TM: Me and Grant’s top ten list – what do you suppose was on that?

MB: Well, the Myrtles, pft. I don’t understand why they aren’t going to the Whaley House, though. Instead of the silly Winchester house. They are not driving all the way to California for that and Queen Mary.

TM: Of course not. Steve is driving. Because, you know – shrieking phobia about planes.

MB: And everyone else is flying.

TM: Well, Hans and Franz, for sure. Maybe they are actually going to Hollywood to try to sell Ghost Hunters The Movie.

MB: I feel a shrieking phobia coming on, myself.

A much reduced TAPS gang is loading up the van. Even the Lead Investigators are helping. This is what happens when you lose your prime whipping boy. Also, apparently not everyone can dash off on the California gold rush. Tech Manager Steve Gonsalves, Investigator-in-Training Dave Tango, and Case Manager Donna LaCroix are the only ones going. They’re packing a lot of extension cords.

Donna claps: “We’re all set.”

The van doors slam.

Grant interviews: “I think the team that we happen to have for this is gonna be perfect. We got four experienced seasoned investigators and one new guy. I mean it’s just – it’s a perfect set-up.”

MB: In other words, he’s very unhappy.

TM: Not enough worker bees.

MB: No Brian to push around.

Jason: “California, here we come.”

The vans roll out of the parking lot and are transported instantaneously to the Midwest.

Dave, excited: “Horses! I’ve never seen so many horses and cows – tons of cows.”

Steve: “We’re gonna get mad cow disease just lookin’ at ‘em.”

The editors furnish flashes of state border signs – New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Arkansas, Kansas, Arizona, Nevada.

TM: Can you imagine the horror of spending four days driving across the country with Steve and Dave?

MB: No. Nooooo.

Jason: “It’s gonna be an interesting night at Winchester Mansion.”

Grant: “Seriously, it’s gonna be difficult. We have to be on our toes.”

Jason: “There are a lot of areas that are unsafe. You need to remember that those rooms are about 1922 so they don’t even meet codes.”

TM: Codes for rooms? 1922? What is he talking about?

MB: Earthquakes? Plumbing? Conduct?

Steve: “It’s probably going to be the single largest building that TAPS has ever investigated.”

Dave: “Are you serious?”

Steve: “Yeah, man. This place has 163 rooms.”

MB: He must mean biggest house.

TM: Or Eastern State Penitentiary had 162 rooms.

Dave: “I’m just really afraid I’m gonna get lost in one of those rooms, man.”

A “Welcome to California” sign indicates somebody drove there, even if it was only Steve and Dave.

Grant: “Here we are, gentlemen. California!”

The caravan is pulling up at the San Jose Burger King drive-thru for lunch. No, it is the entrance to the Winchester Mystery House.

The Investigation

Winchester Mystery House

Friday 1:15 PM

We see a very large shingled Queen Anne house with a lot of gables, dormers, turrets, and porches.

TM: That is a flashing nightmare. That is just one big leak waiting to happen.

MB: It doesn’t rain in California.

TM: Oh.   Well, then.

Grant: “Wow.”

Jason: “Wow.”

They go inside the “Mansion Tour Entrance” under an illuminated sign that notes no. 54 is being served, and find a woman waiting for them.

Jason: “Hi! How you doin’? I’m Jason from TAPS.”

Woman: “Nice to meet you, Jason.”

Grant: “Hi. Grant.”

Woman: “Hi, Grant. Nice to meet you. I’m Cheryl. Welcome to the Winchester Mystery House.”

Jason: “Thanks. This place is incredible. Can we get a tour?”

Woman: “Definitely. Come on.”

Grant: “After you.”

Cheryl Hamilton, Marketing Coordinator, interviews: We’ve been aware for some time that TAPS has wanted to come and do an investigation at Winchester Mystery House and we were happy to accommodate them and let them try to prove or disprove the hauntings.”

MB: Aha!

TM: What?!?

MB: Nothing. Just jumping the gun. I’m out of recarp condition. It’s been a while.   Anyway, they can’t pretend the Winchester Mystery House asked them to help.

Cheryl in scene waves them off in a direction: “You guys can go up the staircase.”

Grant complies. “Yeah, okay.” He then laughs. The staircase ends at the ceiling.

TM: Good one, Mrs. Winchester.

MB: I hope she had cats.

Jason: “Alrighty. Feel like I’m in a carnival house.”

Cheryl: “Mrs. Winchester built a lot of strange things like that into the house. She built the house 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for 38 years. She didn’t want construction to ever stop ‘cause she was told by a psychic that if construction of the house did stop, the spirits of the people who’d been killed by the Winchester and who she believed were responsible for the deaths of her husband and daughter would come and kill her as well.”

The house is a warren of hallways and rooms, with woodwork everywhere – a festival of paneling. There is a large display of Winchester rifles in glass cases.

TM: Have you ever seen so much beadboard?

MB: I like beadboard. But gosh, there must be a lot of echoes in there.

TM: The better to hear the ghosts.

MB: Poor Mrs. W. Imagine hearing hammering 24 hours a day. For years.

TM: I expect after a while she sort of enjoyed the whole thing. Something to do.

Cheryl: “There are 10,000 windows in the house. There are 40 bedrooms.”

TM: There are not 10,000 windows. It’s a big house, but it’s not that big.

MB: Maybe she means window panes.

The tour has entered a derelict-looking room where plaster has fallen off its laths.

Jason: “So what’s this room?”

Cheryl: “This we call the Daisy Bedroom and this is actually Mrs. Winchester’s bedroom she was using before the 1906 earthquake. When the earthquake struck she had the front 30 rooms of the house boarded up and didn’t use them anymore. That’s why she changed bedrooms.”

Grant is doing his signature face twist and shaking his head.

Cheryl: “But we’ve had a lot of guests who come through here feel temperature changes in this room just passing through.”

Jason: “So where to now?”

Cheryl: “We’re going upstairs but we get there by a pretty strange way. This is the Goofy Staircase. We call it that because you’ve got 44 stairs, 7 complete turns, and you’re going to travel about a hundred feet but you’re only going to make it 9 feet up to the second floor.”

Grant: “Was she a short woman?”

Cheryl: “She was. She was 4 feet 10 inches tall.”

The Goofy Staircase consists of many huge treads with tiny risers, switching back and forth.

Grant: “GPS units. We shoulda brought GPS.”

Jason whistles: “This is gonna be a lotta room to cover.”

MB: Oh for crying out loud. They have no intention of covering this house. They’re on their freaking California vacation. No ghosts = no work.

TM: But it is a swell house.

Cheryl stops at an antique lamp: “This is a gas lamp fixture. There were – was electricity in the house but only for the last 3 years that Mrs. Winchester lived here. Before that it was all gas lighting.”

Grant: “Hey, speaking of electricity, we have a lot of stuff that we have to plug in and uh – is that going to be an obstacle here?”

Cheryl: “Um. I hope you have extension cords.” She laughs, and leads them onward.

Jason: “I cannot believe that you know where you’re going.”

Cheryl: “And about three different ways how to get here, too.”

Jason: “It defies all laws of logic. Oh my gosh.”

Grant: “Holy …”

They have come upon a large room with an old organ, parquet flooring, and more paneling.

TM: That psychic was married to a carpenter, wasn’t she?

MB: And all their children and brothers and uncles and cousins were carpenters.

TM: And they became very rich, and lived in big stucco houses with plaster walls and tile floors, and the sight of beadboard made them all gibber and moan.

MB: Which is why no carpenters haunt the Winchester Mystery House.   Or all of them do.

TM: It is carpenter hell.

Cheryl: “This is the grand ballroom and this is where you take off your shoes. It’s all original hand-done floors in here.”

Jason: “Oh my god.”

Cheryl: “I think she probably used it as a music room. They said she played the piano, the organ, and the violin, and we have had people in the house who’ve heard an organ playing and think that it came from this room. You ready to go down to the basement?”

Jason: “Yes, we are.”

They climb down to the cellars.

Jason: “What kind of things have gone on down here?”

Cheryl: “We’ve sent people down here to clean up the basement and while they were doing that they’ve seen a man in coveralls walking down here around this boiler.”

Grant: “All right.”

Jason: “Cool. So this is pretty much it?”

Cheryl: “This is it.”

Jason and Grant retreat to the parking lot to exhort the minions.

Jason: “Now Steve – no taping to the wooden floors. You can tape on the carpet, all right? No taping to the wooden floors.”

Steve: “Okay. No wooden floors.”

Jason: “If you’re going near the ballroom, take your shoes off. Do not walk on that floor with your shoes on. We gotta get moving, so let’s go.”

Tables are toted, extension cords are unpacked, night falls.

Winchester Mystery House

8:30 PM

MB: That tour must have been a lot longer than it seemed.

TM: They went and had dinner. I want more dinner scenes. If they’re just being tourists, they could do something more interesting that unpacking extension cords. It’s not like we haven’t seen them unpack extension cords before.

MB: There aren’t many plot elements to these episodes, that’s for sure. You know, if we’re willing to watch extension cords being unpacked for the umpteenth time, we probably deserve whatever we get.

TM: Pft.   On the other hand, contemplating nothing is very zen, so it’s good for us.

MB:  I think you have to be happy to do it for it to be zen.

TM:  Then forget it.

Donna is trying to walk around the Mystery House without a map and compass.

Donna: “Fuck.” She giggles and waves her hands. “No, that’s alright. I just almost walked into a closet. This house is kinda creepy. I mean I just totally went off in the wrong direction. There’s just a lotta little nooks and crannies and turns that you think you’re going the right direction, then you hit a wall, and then you gotta bounce back and it’s like a little madhouse.” She throws her hands up in defeat.

Dave is wandering, and makes a loud frustrated noise. Apparently he is lost.

Steve: “I think you guys gave Jason the wrong end.”

Grant is sitting in Command Central acting frazzled.

Grant: “What’s up? How’re we doin’?”

Steve: “Um. We – don’t know yet.”

Steve interviews: “It’s kinda disorganized right now.”

Grant interviews, disapproving: “Right now the set-up’s taking a little longer than usual. I don’t – I don’t know what’s goin’ on. We need to get these guys back into efficiency mode.”

The editors cut to Donna and Dave dancing in the ballroom in socks.

Donna: “I want you to show me how to do the Tango.”

Elsewhere, Steve pontificates: “Two people on the team completely in- – Donna’s completely unfamiliar with the equipment. Uh – Tango pretty much is, as well. Um, for some reason they didn’t bring an investigator that was familiar with the equipment.”

TM: Was he going to say incompetent?

MB: So much for Grant’s perfect team.

TM: Because jeez, how complicated can this be? We’re talking extension cords and a couple of cameras, not installing computers at the NSA.

Dave is wandering again. The tech group regroups. Steve snaps at Donna. Donna raises her hands and retreats.

Donna: “I know why you’re getting frustrated. We’re trying to work fast.”

Donna interviews: “It’s – it’s turned into a really stressful night. I – Tango – could have been more efficient tonight.”

TM: If this non-drama is supposed to deflect us from the realization that they’re not really there to non-hunt non-existent ghosts, it’s not working.

MB: I think you may have over-negated your point there.

TM: But you know what I mean.

MB: Yes, as a TAPS crisis, this one is pitiful. Let’s hurry up and do nothing.

Winchester Mystery House

9:42 PM

Donna and Dave are still messing around with stuff, to no obvious point.

Donna: “Leave it there. We’ll go grab the cords.”

Dave stares at some infrared lights, looking confused.

Dave: “I don’t think – uh – anyone has planned the set-up. It was really my fault. I was just trying to think what I could do instead of actually doing it.”

Grant interviews: “Dave Tango – he’s loyal, but he’s still got a lot to learn. He’s gotta ask more questions. He’s gotta be more bold.”

TM: Ooh – foreshadowy. In an ironic, editorial sort of way.

Grant in scene: “Steve, uh – do you think we can – uh – kind of get everyone to maybe stop for a second and re-attack it ‘cause they go and place the camera and then they come back and they get the cords. So just take – you know what I mean?”

Steve mumbles something, either assenting or dissenting. Elsewhere, Donna is trying to get Tango to snap out of his fog.

Donna: “Hello? You gotta turn the volume up.” She grabs his radio and demonstrates the technique.

The Lead Investigators finally seem to have torn themselves away from the  craft service van and are trying to finish this excruciating set-up. Three of the four quarters of the four-screen monitor have video. It is July 22, 2005, and it seems to be 11:19 PM.

Grant: “How’s that?”

Jason: “Yeah, why’d we just lose video?”

Cheryl: “When you’re plugging stuff into sockets in the house, so we’re not going to be able to turn off the lights without turning off the power to the sockets.”

Jason: “Ah. It’s a friggin’ nightmare.” Grant slaps him on the shoulder.

Grant: “Make it work, brother.”

Jason interviews: “We’ve run into a few obstacles – uh – you know – certain areas we can’t get into – uh – some power issues.”

Grant: “We’re runnin’ out of time.”

Jason: “It’s workin’ real slow here. It takes two people to put a camera up there? We need to – uh…” He snaps his fingers. “One person can run a wire.”

Grant: “I think going to the area they should run a…” He waves his arms.

Jason: “Dave, Dave – while one person’s putting the camera in somewhere we gotta grab the cable. We gotta get goin’ here, all right? It can’t take two people to place one damn camera on the floor. So let’s get it going.”

MB: As opposed to two people doing nothing…




Jason interviews: “Set-up was moving way too slowly and me and Grant pulled Steve aside. We turned the heat up on him. I gotta be honest. Steve pulled through. He pulled through with flying colors. Because of the limited outlets we had to reroute the power to active rooms of the house. Luckily we had enough extension cords.”

The three peons labor at unreeling cords.

Steve: “I finally found some power.”

Jason: “Steve, we’ve got power.”

Grant, on radio: “Power’s on. Thank you.”

The four-screen monitor is seen to have four video screens.

TM: But where did they put the cameras? And why?

MB: They’re not looking for ghosts, silly.

TM: I keep forgetting.

Jason: “So let’s get lights out. Let’s do it. All right? All right. Let’s get switched out.”

There is a faint chorus of agreement from the dispirited TAPS labor force.

Steve: “I’m gonna go upstairs and start [something or other].”

Dave: “Okay.”

Steve: “Ballroom. Ballroom?”

Dave: “Ballroom? Where’d it go? I think it’s in here.”

Grant interviews: “It’s interesting how much psychology’s involved walkin’ through the place. It’s like you’re walkin’ through Mrs. Winchester’s mind. It’s just – twisted and weird.”

Steve, still looking for the ballroom: “Where the hell are we?”

Dave: “Which way to the ballroom?”

Steve: “Oh, that’s right. It’s down here. Ready?”

Dave: “Here we are.”


11:29 PM

Steve: “Gotta take our shoes off.”

Dave: “Your feet smell?”

Steve sniffs his shoes.

Dave: “You? I don’t smell anything.”

Steve: “No, I’m pretty good.”

Steve interviews: “I guess the next thing they hear an organ plays, I guess. Yeah.”

Steve and Dave examine the organ. A clanking noise off behind them is heard. Steve looks in that direction.

Dave: “What was that?”

Steve: “I don’t know what it is.”

There’s some more clanking. It doesn’t sound like ghosts.

Dave: “It’s such a big room.”

Steve: “Yeah, it is.”

Dave: “What is that?”

They run their flashlights over paneled ceiling and walls. There’s some more clanking. Steve finds a small door to investigate. And we’re suddenly in the cellars.



Jason and Grant are, as usual, hogging the thermal imaging camera, the only piece of equipment cool enough for them to stoop to use. Jason is wearing a head lamp and looking like and ill-tempered optometrist.

Grant: “Watch your head. So this is the area people see that guy lookin’ around.”

Jason: “Mm-hmm.”

Grant: “Did you hear that?”

The same clanking we heard upstairs is audible in the basement.

Grant: “So many weird sounds.”

Jason’s head-lamp light bounces around as he tries to find the noise source.

Grant interviews: “While Jason and I were down in the basement, we kept hearing these odd banging sounds we couldn’t identify. At the same time, Tango and Steve were up in the ballroom hearing the same thing.”

Grant in scene: “It’s like you can’t trust this place. It’s just – sounds could be coming from anywhere.”



Donna is sitting in front of the 4-screen monitor, smiling tightly and jiggling a knee. It is not clear why the editors thought we needed to see her, as we immediately return to the upper regions.

Dave: “You smell that?”

Steve: “It’s just musty. Phantom smell maybe.”

They check their underarms.

Grant interviews: “Phantom smells or psychic smells are any random aroma that you just cant’ be explained by your surroundings. Typically they’re cigarettes or flowers, perfume.”

Dave and Steve have moved on to another room.

Dave: “Steve, Steve – this is what I was smelling before. You smell this room?”

Steve: “Some must.”

Dave: “This is what I was smellin’. But it was like three times worse.”

Grant interviews: “The theory on phantom smell is that an entity, in trying to express itself, will express itself through smell, and smell is one of the most powerful memory joggers.”

TM: Phantom smell, pooh. Why isn’t Grant lecturing about matrixing here? Why aren’t they debunking the phantom smell? For that matter, why are they doing nothing more ambitious than smelling their armpits? Where are the EVP recorders? Where are the EMF meters?

MB: I think I saw a thermometer, but again, dear, they are not looking for ghosts.

TM: Oh. That’s right, too.



Jason and Grant are still doing their useless thermal trolling.

Grant: “This used to be her bedroom but she then moved it after the earthquake to the other one. I guess they say quite a few people have felt cold spots in this area.”

Jason: “Ho.”

Grant: “What was that?”

Jason: “What was what?”

Grant: “Go back.”

Jason: “What? What did you see? You want to check it?”

Grant: “What’s weird is you just came back across there and I didn’t see it the second time. This place is filled with so much glass. Oh, yeah. We got a reflection over there. Yeah, that – it was you.”

Jason: “Yeah, there’s ten thousand windows.”

Grant: “It’s a nightmare for us.”

TM: There are not ten thousand…

MB: We know.

TM: The Empire State Building only has 6,500.

MB: Really?

TM: The Pentagon only has 9,000.

MB: That’s fascinating. Let’s keep moving.

Steve and Donna are peering into some inaccessible corner of the house.

Steve: “Look it – that place looks awesome. Too bad it’s padlocked.”

Donna: “Where does that go? Is that door open? Wow. I really wish we could go in there. Oh.”

Elsewhere, Jason calls them back from their “ghost-hunting.”

Jason: “Hey.”

Donna: “Hello.”

Jason: “It’s time. Let’s wrap up. Let’s get out of here. Call it a night.”

Steve: “Sounds good. I’ll go round up some cameras.”

There is much reeling of cords, and closing of cases.

Grant: “Phew. All I can say is what a place.”

Cheryl laughs: “I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

TM: That’s not what he said.

MB: Hush.

Jason: “What we’re gonna do now is in the next couple days we’re gonna analyze the evidence that we caught. We’ll set up a time to come back, sit down, let you what we found and what we didn’t find.”

Cheryl: “All right. I’m looking forward to it.”

Jason: “Thank you for having us. It’s been wonderful.
Cheryl: “Thank you.”

Grant: “Thank you. And get some sleep, okay?”

Cheryl: “Thank you, and you, too.”

Cheryl interviews: “TAPS seemed to have covered every room that we’ve had activity in before, so hopefully the investigation will be able to help us confirm some of the stories that we’ve been hearing from guests and employees.”

TM: People are always so damn hopeful.

MB: Hope. Eternal. Sad.

TM: On the bright side, TAPS confirmation is fairly worthless.

MB: True. Except at lunatic asylums.

TM: Did I tell you the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is hawking ghost tours and “investigations” at $40 and $150 a head? “The Hospital of Horrors.”

MB: Rebecca Jordan is going straight to hell.




A function room in the San Jose Holiday Inn.

Donna: “I’m ready, guys.”

Steve interviews: “Donna’s expressed an interest in helping us review the evidence so I’m going to let her help us out an – uh – I think an extra pair of eyes will definitely help.”

Steve, Donna, and Dave sit slumped over in various positions at a table with their respective recording devices. Time passes. Positions change.

Dave: “Look at this camera. It’s just bouncin’ around. Look at this. They’re goin’ in circles – whsshh whsshh whsshh.”

He twirls his finger in the air to demonstrate the spinning camera action. Donna looks over and grins. Steve remains glum.

Donna: “I wonder why they did that.”

Dave: “Probably got lost.”

Donna chortles.

Steve must put a stop to such frivolity: “If you’re watching this alone, just so you know, every time you take your eyes away, you have to press “pause.” Okay?”

Donna: “Okay.”

Steve: “Okay?”

Donna: “Okay.”

Steve: “’Cause that second you could miss…” He wags his finger.

Donna: “Something significant.”

Steve: “Yeah, like that – penitentiary footage? You know if Brian and I had looked away for ten seconds…”

Donna: “You would have missed it.”

Steve: “We would have missed it.”

MB: Brian!

TM: Maybe that’s why they’re having such a hard time setting up. No Brain.

MB: I miss Brian.

Steve interviews, snippily: “More than experience, I think Donna lacks the focus. She needs to understand that the good investigator sees the investigation through to the end. Because of all that data you never know where that key piece of evidence is that could prove it’s a legitimate haunting.”

MB: Well, with you guys at the wheel, that’s going to be never and nowhere, so we all can relax.

TM: Are there illegitimate hauntings?

Donna: “Wait. Go back. I just saw something.”




Donna is looking at the screen showing a staircase. Why they have a camera trained on this staircase has not been explained.

Donna: “I thought I saw something in this upper right-hand corner. The stairs – can you just go back and look at it?”

Steve: “Mm-hmm.”

A large fluffy white thing floats by the camera lens.

Steve: “I’d probably say that’s a bug because of the speed it’s moving and how…”

Donna: “The direction, too.”

Steve: “…it’s distorted when it moves. Dust usually doesn’t distort.”

Dave leans back from his monitor: “[Mumble] DVD.”

Donna: “You’re done?”

Dave: “I’m done.”

Donna: “Oh my god. You know what? I give you guys a lot of credit for – uh – being able to do this time and time again, because it’s – it’s more intense than I thought it was.”

Steve smiles modestly.

Donna: “I’ll never underestimate your job again.” She laughs.

The three peons vanish magically from their chairs.

TM: They have discovered teleportation. Someone has been studying Tesla!

MB: The editors got tired of faking lightning. They have a new toy.




Knocking is heard.

Donna: “Hellooo! It’s us!”

The three peons are admitted access to the room of the grand pooh-bahs. The pooh-bahs have laptops out and are pretending to be working.

Jason: “So what’s goin’ on?”

Donna: “Hey, guys.”

Grant: “Hey.”

Steve: “Not so much. Uh – we analyzed everything. We didn’t find anything unfortunately.”

Grant: “At all?”

Steve: “At all.”

MB: Gee.

TM: What a disappointment.

Jason: “Yeah, I think it’s just creepy enough to see a lady spend that much money doing that all based on what a psychic told her. Yeah, well, all right. Good job.”

Steve: “All right, guys.”

Jason: “Get ready ‘cause we got the Queen Mary coming up.”

The Atlantic Paranormal Society chuckles in anticipation. Jason waggles his eyebrows.

MB: It’s like Christmas is coming.

TM: More like Halloween. No, Cabbage Night.




TM: What makes it 5:47? Is it when they arrive in the parking lot? Open the door? Sit down? Do they have a special intern who is keeper of the time-stamp log? Do the editors throw dice to choose a time?

MB: Do you really care?

TM: No, but as they’re about to reveal nothing, I need something to think about.

Cheryl, Jason and Grant are sitting on opposite sides of a picturesque arbor. They have foregone the usual laptop set-up, since, of course, there is nothing to see.

Grant: “So how you doin’?”

Cheryl: “Great, thanks. Nice to see you again.”

Jason: “Always a pleasure.”

Cheryl: “We’re interested to find out what you found.”

Grant: “Well, as you know – uh – we’ve always wanted to investigate this place. It’s – it’s been touted as one of the most haunted places.”

TM: By who?

MB: By whom.

TM: By whom?

MB: By the all-knowing Them. The ones who are always saying stuff.

Jason: “We try to deal pretty much with the evidence at hand – what we catch, we can actually put out there for the world to see.

MB: The world, ha.

Jason: “And with that we didn’t really catch any evidence that would support claims of a haunting.”

Cheryl nods.

Grant: “I wish we had experienced something but – uh – the place is just –mysterious, and I can see why somebody would assume it’s haunted.”

Cheryl nods.

Jason: “It’s a wonderful place, wonderful people, and you guys have made it delightful for us being out here.”

Cheryl: “Thank you.”

Jason: “We really want to say thank you for having us.”

Cheryl: “It’s great to have you guys come out.”

Grant: “Thank you.”

Cheryl: “Thank you.”

The three vanish magically from the arbor.

TM: If they do that too much they’re going to end up dead, or stuck halfway through a rock somewhere.

MB: The editors will get sick of it eventually.

TM: They could spice it up with some of that fake lightning.

Cheryl interviews as the diabolical duo take to the road again: “Even if Jason and Grant didn’t find anything, just know that when they were here there was nothing, but it just leaves the mystery open for us, and that’s what we do. We present all of our guests with all of the facts.”

In the car:

Jason: “That went really well.”

Grant: ‘I really think it did. She was very accepting. She understood and uh…”

Having no place else to go with that thought, Grant subsides.

Jason: “Now the Queen Mary, man.”

Grant: “It’s a big boat.”

Jason: “Yeah, it’s huge. Huh. Hopefully it’ll go a lot smoother than it went at the – uh – Winchester mansions.”

Grant: “Hopefully.”

Jason: “So let’s get back to the hotel and – you know – get everybody and head off to Long Beach.”

Grant waves his hand: “Onward.”

Jason: “On to the next.”


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3 Responses to “For Sham! TAPS En Vacance”

  1. Stephen Says:

    Howdy TM and MB,

    Love this site. I live about a mile from the Winchester Mystery House, and was kind of frustrated when they came up with nothing. Not disappointed, per se, since I’m a skeptic, but when has a lack of ghosts stopped them before?

    A minor correction: Sarah Winchester wasn’t crazy. She had a quazillion dollars. She was “eccentric”. But slightly more seriously, I don’t think she actually told anyone why she built the house the way she did. All this stuff about appeasing the ghosts of her victims is legend to try to explain what she did. Her real reason might have been nothing more than a desire to keep the place full of sweaty men.

  2. thetalkingmongoose Says:

    Heh. Excellent point. I, personally, would take great pleasure in ordering contractors to do bizarre things, sweatily or not. Why Mrs. Winchester should be labeled “crazy” for that is quite unfair.

  3. thetalkingmongoose Says:

    Stephen –

    Mme. B. here. You live a mile from the Winchester Mystery House. Have you been there?

    I want to know more. I know you’re a skeptic. The mongoose has informed me. But are you waiting for one white crow? Or do you need a flock of them?

    I need two. I’m waiting for my second one. Then I will declare it enough. I think.

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