Saturday, August 17, 2019

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Zozo...And A Few Things You Didn't Part Two

Author's note: This is the second part of our look at Zozo, the so-called Ouija Board demon. For part one, head to this page. And as always during paranormal season, DO NOT TRY ANYTHING WE DISCUSS ON THIS BLOG. DEALING WITH DEMONS IS DANGEROUS. LEAVE IT TO THE PROS. Just because you watch people trying to Ouija up Zozo on YouTube doesn't mean you can. Folks like Tim Wood at LiveSciFi know what they're doing. You don't. Okay? And yes, I know--some of you are already ignoring me. Read on for the consequences of that decision.)

Yesterday, we really dug into Zozo's origins on multiple levels, and believe me when I tell you that post could have been one hundred times as long and still wouldn't have scratched the surface. What we discussed yesterday was rudimentary demonology. Today, we're going to sort through Zozo in the modern day, and we'll be getting into some dark and dangerous stuff. Read at your own risk.

Ouija, Spirit, and Talking Boards and Zozo

The first patent issued for a device used for contacting the dead was in the mid-nineteenth century, not for a talking board but a gadget that could be used in automatic writing. The first mention of spirit boards was in 1886 by the Associated Press, when they were touted as the newest and most accurate communication device used in Ohio spiritualist camps. 

The Ouija board as we know it today was invented in 1890 and patented (the planchette was the reason the board could be patented considering that handmade spirit boards were already in common use at the time) by Charles Kennard in 1891. So many people were desperate to communicate with their loved ones following the Civil War and then three decades later for World War I that the Ouija board became an essential part of the grieving process as well as a drawing room's entertainment option. That is...until disturbing coincidences began to pop up in Ouija board communication. Zozo is perhaps the best-known of these today, having earned the nickname of “the Ouija board demon” in the past twenty-five years.

Encounters with the entity that called itself Zozo reportedly began to occur on the Ouija board in the second half of the twentieth century. In the 1960s and 70s, the Ouija board was marketed as a toy, thereby ensuring that most users of the board were under twenty-five. Ouija use had an upsurge in the eighties. As the internet was developed in subsequent decades and became more accessible, Zozo encounters gradually rose and victims began to compare notes. Darren Evans’s website publication in 2008 gave those victims a forum. Once video streaming equipment improved, Zozo videos increased at an exponential rate—particularly in the last four years. 

Of course, the reason for that is easily explained.More people are looking for Zozo.

There are non-paranormal explanations for Zozo as well. Zozo could be the result of a tulpa—an entity or phenomenon created through mental discipline, like the Philip experiment in Toronto, Ontario allegedly managed to do in the early 1970s. For that matter, what people take as communication on a Ouija board could actually be the result of ideomotor movements--involuntary twitches of the hands that propel the planchette across the spirit board in a predictable and repeated manner. 

With escalating visibility on platforms like YouTube, the unsuspecting, or the thrill seekers who "play" Ouija are a rich pool of potential prey for the demonic realm to feed upon.

That doesn't mean Zozo is fake. Tulpas are alleged to exist and take on personalities and agendas of their own. At the present moment, Zozo is a dangerous reality, whether it's hung around for centuries or was created by the subconscious minds of people popping LSD-laced sugar cubes in 1975. The Zozo entity is not only real, but it's growing stronger and being fed by the resulting craze around it.

And oh, how it's grown. Zozo has exploded on a global level, as has the number of people claiming to have had experiences with the entity. The 2012 movie I Am Zozo undoubtedly had a great deal to do with that, as did the 2014 major motion picture Ouija and investigations conducted by the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures show at about the same time. In fact, during the 2014 Christmas season, Ouija board sales were up 300% from the year before

Currently (August, 2019), there are 36.5 million hits on Google when searching for Zozo. That's a lot of people focusing their energy on the same entity or tulpa...a lot of fuel. If Zozo didn't exist before the Dictionnaire Infernal in 1818, it certainly does now. 

Zozo Characteristics/Behavior

Items associated with Zozo: Blackbirds, Louisiana, slavery, Voodoo and other French/African religious blends, the number 28, French/Basque and African etymology, sex or sexual assault, possession of humans, possession of animals, Ouija or spirit boards, death and/or suicide, and haunted locations.

Behavioral habits: When the entity first presents itself, it’s usually pretending to be a dead friend or family member so it can make a connection with the person it’s targeting on the board. Once the relationship between the Ouija user and the entity is established, Zozo announces its presence on the Ouija board when it appears. The planchette either begins to move rapidly from side to side in an arc between the letters Z and O, or it starts an escalating series of figure 8 movements in the center of the board.

But once the bond is established between Zozo and a board user, the entity departs from “normal” demonic behavior. The Zozo entity names itself at the beginning of each interaction. Zozo, Zaza, Zizi, Oz, Ozoz, Mama, and Abacus are all known aliases of the Zozo entity. The entity frequently refers to “paradise” and uses the word “abracadabra” as well, which has a disputed etymological history dating back to ancient times. 


The first known mention of the word was in the second century AD in a book called Liber Medicinalis by Serenus Sammonicusphysician to the Roman emperor Caracalla, who in chapter 51 prescribed that malaria sufferers wear an amulet containing the word written in the form of a triangle. "Abracadabra" has also been attributed to Gnostics, Greeks, and Sumerians, but is almost certainly Hebrew/Aramaic in origin. 

Perhaps the most ominous behavior of the entity is the countdown. The board counts down from ten to one, and that usually prefaces extremely negative paranormal activity.

The most terrifying behavior is its knowledge of things it shouldn't know, like something that happened in a board user's childhood and none of their current friends knows about *or* something as totally invasive as knowing what color a person's underwear is. 

And through it all, Zozo is acknowledged as a demonic entity. I absolutely think Zozo is demonic in nature. So do many paranormal researchers, investigators, and scholars...not to mention clergy.

So why, then, haven’t attempted exorcisms of the Zozo entity worked? In 2017, LiveSciFi founder Tim Wood and I conducted a month-long experiment, trying to learn as much about this puzzling entity as we cold without endangering ourselves, each other, or any of the half a million subscribers on YouTube who showed up nightly to witness our live-streamed investigation. I believe our conclusions from the Zozo experiment explain why this isn't just a demon, but an evolution of something entirely different.

The Zozo Experiment and Subsequent Conclusions

The Zozo demon can’t be exorcised for one very simple reason—Zozo isn’t a demon.We believe Zozo is something entirely different—an alias used by multiple demonic entities in order to gain access to potential victims. 

You can’t exorcise Zozo because it’s not a demon. It’s a gateway. Some kid can ‘play’ with the Ouija board one time and he’s opened the gate and invited whatever’s close by and looking for a victim to come on in. 

You’ve heard of demons or psychics or demonologists talking about Legion, right? Zozo is the revolving door of Legion, and you never know if you just invited the ghost of a pissed-off librarian to haunt your house *or* if you invited Beelzebub to possess your body and feast on your soul.

That’s why exorcisms of the Zozo entity don’t work. Victims of Zozo are actually being tormented by multiple demons who are using the name as an alias. Legitimate exorcisms that are conducted by the clergy of the Catholic church take weeks, months, or even years before the name of the demon is forced from the unwilling adversary. Many oppressions/possessions pit the exorcist against a number of demonic foes. With a Zozo attachment, this proves even worse than usual.

If the person has only the beginnings of an attachment to Zozo, then you just sever the person’s use of the name. Don’t say Zozo anymore or acknowledge it. But if a person has an actual attachment (a demonic infestation, oppression, or possession) then they have to discover the name of the actual demon attacking them and sever their attachment to the name of Zozo and the board. Only then can they have a clearing or deliverance done.

And that exorcism needs to be performed by a legitimate member of the clergy and not someone who started his own "church", maybe claiming it was an Old Catholic church that broke away from the Vatican because they disagreed with the canon of Papal infallibility in something called the Utrecht schism.  Yes, there are legitimate Old Catholic churches out there that did follow the bishop of Utrecht, but those churches have actual congregations. 

Most of the paranormal clergy advertising their services online aren't legitimately Old Catholic. Their entire church consists of several bishops under the dominion of a self-proclaimed archbishop and a deacon or two. No congregations. No physical churches. No parishioners despite naming these bishops as the head of parishes. Best way to tell is easy: Google maps. Put in their physical address and look up the location on street view. If it comes up as an apartment building, a house, a strip mall, or a church that's a completely different denomination? It's not a real church and therefore the archbishops and bishops and deacons aren't legitimate clergy. 

Did I mention the next article I do is about paranormal parasites like these? Okay, good. We'll break down the Utrecht schism and how that works in legit Old Catholic churches in that article. 

But in the meantime--and pay attention, folks. The best and easiest way to not have to deal with Zozo is not to go looking. Regardless of how it's marketed, the Ouija board is not a game. It's a form of conjuration, and opens the door to any kind of interaction with the spiritual world imaginable. But you can't trust what any entity says on the talking board. Not a word, and especially if that entity self-identifies as Zozo. 

By communicating with Zozo, you have invited the diabolical into your life. Once that door is open, it's almost impossible to close--and then I'll get an email or a phone call from a paranormal group trying to help you but that can't. That's the end result of most Zozo-created infestations, and unless there's a legitimate exorcist involved there's no way to know what demonic entities have come through that board. 

So yeah. 

DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME.

DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME.

AND DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME.

Everything You Wanted To Know About Zozo...Plus A Lot Of Things You Wish You Didn't Part One

The Zozo demon is commonly referred to as "the Ouija Board demon". Because of some paranormal groups' preference for using a Ouija board on investigations, Zozo has been a frequent...and frightening...guest on many videos. But who--or what--is Zozo, exactly? The historic and arcane history of the entity is fairly difficult to track and impossible to document. That is, until the internet's explosion in the late 2000s and early 2010s. 

But what's really terrifying is how impossible the entity is to combat. If Zozo is taken at face value, it's a demonic entity that can't be fought using the tools and methods that have expunged the demonic since Christ exorcised demons and sent them into the bodies of pigs. Two millennia of demonic warfare doesn't get rid of Zozo, and we want to know why.

In this two-part article, we'll break down the roots and history of the so-called "Ouija Board Demon", its growing visibility in modern society, what the diabolical agent seems to really be, and why exorcisms do not and cannot work. That's why my usual warning regarding the diabolical is appearing twice. TRYING TO CONTACT ZOZO IF YOU AREN'T A PROFESSIONAL RESEARCHER/INVESTIGATOR IS THE SPIRITUAL EQUIVALENT OF PLAYING RUSSIAN ROULETTE. Do NOT try any of this at home.

History Of Zozo

The first mention of any entity named Zozo occurred in an 1818 reference guide written by Jacques Collin de Plancy, a self-proclaimed occultist and author, in his Dictionnaire Infernal. The story as related in the Dictionnaire’s entry under the word POSSÉDÉS (Possession, in English) goes as follows:
In 1816, an unmarried girl from a town called Teilly in the Picardy region of France found out she was pregnant. She promptly announced that she was possessed by three “imps”—one named Mimi, one named Crapoulet, and the third Zozo. The girl would walk around the town on all fours or on her hands, and acted as if she was possessed. A Jesuit priest from Spain performed an exorcism on the girl, which was described in the text:  Mimi went quietly; Zozo was more tenacious and broke a window of the church when he tried to escape through the roof. As for Crapoulet, he was pursued in vain, even with the blessed tool (I think this tool is a holy item such as an aspergillum) he could not be removed, and eventually took a position in the genitals of the girl, only leaving at the Jesuit’s insistence. Eventually, the town leaders put the pregnant girl in the hospital and the Jesuit was told that if he did any more exorcisms, he’d be arrested as a fraud.
Nineteenth century France in the wake of the revolution and the ascendance of Napoleon, prided itself on its science and logic and fought against old “superstitions” like exorcism or demonic possession.

That being said, this incident is related in a book written by an author with no particular expertise in research and there’s no way to verify anything he wrote in that book either. In fact, Collin du Plancy was nothing more than a pulp fiction writer, capitalizing on the rise of the spiritual movement to sell more books. And it worked! The only positive thing the Dictionnaire Infernal actually did was to publish probably the greatest collection of early nineteenth century engravings and illustrations of the occult and demonic. That’s about it.

I have found absolutely no references to a demon named Zozo prior to the Dictionnaire Infernal. And despite multiple claims to the contrary, there are no references to a demonic entity named Zozo at any point of history before the publication of that one particular book. Specifically, there are no documented "medieval manuscripts" that list Zozo in the lexicon of known demons, in arcane
knowledge or grimoires, and not even in Church documents which is absolutely where you'd find such a reference. Regardless, one self-proclaimed Zozo-ologist told me personally that not only was there a history of Zozo the demon stretching back to medieval manuscripts in the twelfth century (1300) but that he personally has a copy/has seen a copy of that manuscript.

That, of course, became a challenge from the time we discussed it (in an August, 2017 Live Sci Fi investigation of Goatman's Bridge in Denton County, Texas). I was in the process of writing Stalked by the Zozo Demon with LSF founder Tim Wood and hadn't found even a whisper of a demon named Zozo despite having conducted (and still conducting) years of research regarding medieval demonology and the history of the Inquisition and the witchcraft trials. Fortunately, my background in Latin and Greek, not to mention being brought up in my French mother's bilingual home and therefore able to read/translate French put me in a great position to see what such a manuscript said. That's why I asked to see it. 

Unfortunately, I'm still waiting.

Here's the thing: if Zozo was even a minor demon on the fringes of some obscure diabolical lexicon, I am pretty sure I would have found it by now. That's why I'm a researcher--I know how to research things. Right? Instead of being provided a medieval manuscript or a link to a scan of it (because obviously, a 700-year old manuscript would require expensive protective storage and restoration), however, I found a story which I find fascinating. That story begins with this: 

ZosoThere is a history of “zoso” stretching back (at least) to the sixteenth century in this form, but it’s not used in a book or document as a name for a demon and has nothing to do with what we call Zozo today. Zoso is a sigil, an illustration used to represent the Greco-Roman god Saturn who governs the house of Capricorn in the zodiac--essentially a drawing that can be used as a magical implement. It allegedly possesses arcane power. That's why self-confessed Thelemist Jimmy Page used the sigil on Led Zeppelin’s unnamed fourth album—because he’s a Capricorn, not because there is a demon named Zozo.
  
The earliest verified use I've found of the Zoso sigil is the 1521 (some references list the publication date as 1511, making the 1521 book a second edition) grimoire entitled Le Veritable Dragon Rouge--a book about necromancy that you can download if you really want to. The first well-documented use of the sigil appears in Gerolamo Cardano’s 1557 book Ars Magica Arteficii, which translates roughly to “The Art of Magic” or “The Magical Arts”. Cardano was a mathematician and physician, and in the sixteenth century astrology was an important part of both sciences. So the sigil, at least, appears some five hundred years ago.

But this history, while fascinating, has nothing to do with Zozo, demonology, or spirit boards. The sigil was used in astrology because most people couldn’t read. Most likely, this gentleman researched the sigil after seeing it on the Led Zeppelin album sleeve, found a link online for the sigil, and without comprehending what that actually meant assumed this was a direct reference to the entity. I don't think it was an intentional thing. 

I do think that misinformation, especially regarding the demonic, can be dangerous. 

So, the only real history for the name is linguistic as opposed to historic or religious.You can read more about the Zoso sigil, its meaning, and how it got tangled up with Led Zeppelin and demonology in modern culture on www.zososymbol.com, which is an outstanding resource and links to all the pertinent books, articles, and websites.
ledragonrouge
This 1850 version of Le Dragon Rouge is a reprint of  an earlier 1521 text “The Red Dragon and The Black Hen, including the secrets of Artephius, the secrets of Cleopatra and how to make yourself invisible“. Courtesy of www.zozosymbol.com

Zozo Etymology and the Power of A Diabolical Name 

The linguistic roots for Zozo are combined in both French-based and African tongues. In Haitian Creole, the word ‘zozo’ means bone (also slang for penis). In Louisiana French Creole, ‘zozo’ means blackbird or raven—a word which survived from the medieval Basque language of southern France/northern Spain. During the early twentieth century, French travel guides in Greece referred to
Zozo as an alternate name for the demon Pazuzu, but there is nothing else to support that claim. In Zulu, the word ‘uzozo’ means a wound that never heals, and the word moved into modern slang when the small huts crafted of tin in the poor areas of African cities were known as ‘izozo’ or today’s ‘zozo huts’. In current French slang, ‘zozo’ means nitwit or dude.

However, the linguistic roots of the name do give us a clue about something disturbing.


Every demonologist and exorcist will tell you that demons do not willingly give up their names to anyone, which is why the Catholic Rite of Exorcism is specifically designed to force the demon to name itself. Knowledge of an entity’s name gives the exorcist power over it. That's why any search for a legitimate historical trail involving the entity is pretty much a waste of time, regardless of how many people try to create a history for Zozo. 

Zozo creates a paradox.

Zozo identifies itself by name and claims to be a demonic entity, but demons just don't blurt out their real names to a teenager with a Ouija board.

Demons reveal their names only after long spiritual battles, like exorcisms. So right from the outset, there’s something suspicious about this entity. Zozo is either not a demon at all, or Zozo is just a bluff—an alias behind which one or multiple demons can approach the users in a spirit board session without endangering itself. And no matter what imaginary medieval manuscripts say, there's only one surefire link to Zozo. 

The Ouija board.

(Part 2 of this article is here and it deals with the Ouija board and the modern evolution of the Zozo entity, including observations and conclusions from the 2017 Zozo experiment with LSF founder Time Wood. As with any of my demonic articles, DO NOT TRY ANYTHING YOU READ ABOUT IN THIS ARTICLE AT HOME. If you do it's a really, really, REALLY bad idea. I'll link part two once it goes live, but until then you can check out my other paranormal articles including the Bell Witch series here. )

Thursday, July 04, 2019

When The Demonic Knows Your Name

(Author's note--this is a 2019 reworking of a 2016 post that is very pertinent to what's going on right now. Enjoy it--except for Chip Coffey, who now hates me. Read on for why...it's hilarious. But make no mistake: the rest of this post is decidedly not funny, as you'll soon see for yourself.)

So you guys know I'm normally keeping myself pretty busy, and especially at this time of year. 2019 was originally supposed to be a leisurely writing year with a light publication schedule, but that has changed thanks to some stuff I can't announce yet. (Darn NDAs) So because I just cannot be too busy, this story is one I need to update, including new information we've learned that makes everything clearer.

And scarier.

I spent October of 2015 shredding the abysmal A&E television show Cursed: The Bell Witch and the absolutely execrable Destination America Exorcist Live! and putting together my blog series The Real Bell Witch, all of which you can see by going to the Paranormal, Bell Witch, and Zozo page tab at the top of the blog. I should probably mention here that because of me trashing Exorcist Live! I was blocked on Twitter by Chip Coffey, who must have psychically found my blog and gotten offended at the way I felt about his contributions to this said show. It's actually pretty damn funny when you think about it--I didn't follow him. Heck, I didn't really care enough to even check. Then a couple of years later someone directed me to a Tweet of his but I couldn't see it because I'd been blocked!

I had no idea a psychic needed Twitter. After all, shouldn't everything on their feed be old news? Shouldn't they have heebie-jeebied and known everything on their feed.

But I digress.

I'd been working with Tim Wood out at LiveSciFi on a series of articles about an investigation they did in Oklahoma City--an investigation into an entity known as Zozo or the Ouija board demon. If you've never heard of that name, do a quick Google search. In 2016, you would have turned up over 34 million results. 289,000 of those results were YouTube videos. And Tim was the king of the paranormal on YouTube with over 400,000 subscribers and 68 million views--and counting.

Now in 2019, those stats have all increased: 37 million results for Zozo on Google, 367,000 YouTube videos. Tim Wood's LSF channel now has over half a million subscribers and 90 million views. The weekend of the 2016 post, LSF was working with a guest investigator, Darren Evans, for a huge live stream collaboration. 

Let's link everything up real quick so that you can go see my 2015 articles, the Blogcritics interview, and the LiveSciFi site.

Tim and I subsequently conducted an experiment in 2017 where we tried to learn more about the entity. Tim contacted Zozo on the Ouija board every night for a month, while I stood as the control of the experiment. We live-streamed every video, documenting all the activity in front of the LiveSciFi audience. We collaborated on different things to try so we could arrive at a conclusion of what Zozo really was, and the evidence we got was actually pretty staggering. We subsequently co-wrote a book about our findingsStalked by the Zozo Demon came out two months later, was a bestseller in paranormal non-fiction, and is available now on Amazon and other online e-tailers. (#ObligatoryBookPlug)

But the Zozo experiment led to serious repercussions.


I've since expanded my studies within the paranormal field and have delved deeply into the history and lore regarding the demonic. Won't be too much longer before I announce a couple of things that will encompass all that information. For that, you'll have to stay tuned. But this is my blog, so here I get to tell you about some of the crap that's gone on since Tim and I started researching the diabolical four years ago. We're still conducting that research--hell, the night we dissected a voodoo doll (video to the immediate right--> ) was the direct result of that research, and one of the creepiest paranormal objects I've ever seen by the way. (The woman who made that voodoo doll was consumed by hatred and rage that was seething through every stitch and ripple of fabric in the damn thing. That artifact is without a doubt the worst cursed/haunted object I've ever investigated.) But all this research also leads me to a story I've hinted about, but never told before the book came out.

My first encounter or battle against the diabolical. It's your lucky day.

In 2015, when I was interviewing Tim Wood and Darren Evans prior to the Zozo investigation,  I noticed several odd similarities in Tim and Darren's stories. Not the 'they talked ahead of time' similarities, but elements that popped up in their individual experiences with the demonic that had also popped up, frighteningly, in my own.  One of the articles I did, Ouija Board Demon Zozo--Connecting The Dots outlined those similarities. What I neglected to include in the story was how I shared many of those characteristics with the two investigators, and those events stemmed from my adolescence and two hauntings. One of those hauntings, of course, was the Bell Witch case in Adams, TN. You guys have heard all about my opinions and experiences with that right here on this blog (or you could hear about them if you click on the Bell Witch, Paranormal and Zozo tab). The other was the demonic oppression of a friend of mine in college--an oppression that manifested in activity right before my eyes that I absolutely could not explain. Seems appropriate to tell that story now. All the names, naturally, have been changed, and bear with me: by the end of this post, it'll all make sense.

My friend's oppression began after the death of his younger brother in a mysterious car wreck. The brother had been involved in a high school "coven" with nine friends. Of those ten kids, eight died: four in the same car accident, two by suicide, one murdered, and the last of some totally bizarre infection. I have no idea what happened to the other two. After his brother's funeral, the entity hopped to my friend, Jeno. 

Jeno was a smart, good-looking guy--football player, math whiz, popular kid with an infectious grin and a sweet personality. We attended the same college but I'd known him since high school, when he'd been in the same class I was. His family was Mormon and in every aspect he was just a normal, happy guy. But after his younger brother's death, everything suddenly went wrong. He literally started to almost wither into nothingness. Within a month, he looked gaunt and uptight. We shared a mutual friend--a guy named Rob and we would hang out some nights. We usually would go to this bizarre park in the middle of town, down this crazy steep hill and tucked away under the big railroad trestle that loomed hundreds of feet over our heads. That park was basically some fifty year old swings and a parking lot, but behind that were a few trails and a creek. We liked it there. People rarely went there during the day, much less the night, so we could hang out there and act like idiots or talk about our lives and no one ever disturbed us. 

On one of those nights during the fall of my sophomore year in college, we went to that park. It was September, and still warm but despite that, Jeno was wearing a turtleneck sweater. And as we sat in our usual spot in a clearing tucked out of sight of the road, Jeno told us what was happening to make him look so gaunt and stressed out. 

His house was haunted, he said, since his brother's death a few months earlier. He would wake up in the middle of the night, fighting with an unseen force pummeling him in the bed. Things would fly off his wall. Drawers would open and crash against the wall on the opposite side of the room. Strange shouts, bangs, and terrible smells would emanate from his younger brother's closed and unused bedroom.

I was fresh off my first investigation of the Bell Witch Cave and the Edens farm, where I'd experienced things much like what Jeno was talking about. In fact, I'd stood outside on the front porch of Bimms Eden's empty house and listened as the living room furniture was rearranged--things that neither Rob nor Jeno knew about. So I was able to take Jeno's story at face value.

But what I didn't expect was the condition of his body. 

The first time he lifted his shirt and showed the massive bruising on his torso, I was startled--and I couldn't help but be slightly skeptical as well. What I couldn't figure out was a trio of scratches that started on the right side of his neck and continued in an unbroken, continuous diagonal across his chest and finally terminated on his left hip. It was like someone had taken one of those little three-pronged gardening forks down his body, but the cuts were too deep and sharp-edged for that. They had scabbed over, and even the scabs were precise and identical.

For a few days after, I tried to figure out if there was some way to do that to oneself. It was so weird because the scratches were the same depth, the same width, and completely seamless. On top of that, Jeno was right-handed. There was no way he could have done that to himself with such perfect symmetry. But I didn't say anything to him about it at the time. When you're eighteen and a good-looking guy is telling you he's being attacked by a ghost his dead brother's coven conjured up, you figure it's probably not a good idea to interrogate him but just to act as if you totally buy into his story and be supportive of him that way. After all, he had just lost his brother. It only made sense to me that he would be have trouble dealing with his death. 

A few weeks later, we were hanging out in the same park. It was October--my birthday weekend, in fact--and it was one of those perfect, crisp autumn evenings you get in Tennessee when the season is changing. We weren't even talking about the haunting at the time; we were planning a road trip as I recollect. Jeno didn't drink, I couldn't drink, and Rob...was Rob. He was drinking, mean thing that he was. At any rate, we were laughing when all of a sudden Jeno screamed and fell backwards, landing basically on my lap. Instinctively, I grabbed his shoulders and his body was so hot (temperature) that I could feel the heat baking through his jacket and sweater.

The next thing I knew, three burns came up on the side of his throat. Each burn was as wide as my thumb and almost instantly blistered. Rob pulled off Jeno's shirt and those burns followed the exact same path as the scratches had. 

I saw those burns pop up. If you're a woman and have ever burned the side of your neck with a curling iron, that's exactly what it looked like. Except Jeno was six feet tall and those burns crossed his body like a sash and disappeared into the waistband of his jeans while he was wearing a thick cable-knit sweater and a Member's Only jacket. (dated myself there) And these weren't surface burns either; they were second degree burns. We took him to the ER--I don't even remember the BS story we told to try to spin the whole mess. That night after he was released, we took him back to Rob's place, figuring he might be able to rest there. Jeno pretty much passed out as soon as we tucked him up on the couch, exhausted as he was and full of pain meds, while Rob and I sat across the room trying to figure out what in the hell we'd just seen. 

I had been at the Bell Witch cave just a few days before, and had gotten several EVPs (my first ones, actually) before the cave suddenly went spook-monster on me and drove me out. So I was already a tad...jumpy and Rob knew this. But as we sat there trying to rationalize what had happened, the light bulb in the hanging lamp over his kitchen table exploded...like--legitimately exploded, glass shattering, sparks in the wiring, sounding like a pop gun kind of exploded. 

Rob and I just stared at each other over all that glass, and Jeno said suddenly from the couch, "It followed me here." 

My first thought at the moment was uncharitable to say the least. Thank you so fucking much for bringing your pet ghost, Jeno isn't the best retort in such a moment. But Jeno's voice was terrified and quiet all at the same time, and it made such an impact on me that I couldn't say a word. Rob, bless him, instantly popped up with, "Man, we need to take you to a church." 

That's when Jeno told us that the Mormon church in town had excommunicated him. He'd gone to them for help when all the manifestations began before his brother's death, and they had kicked him out of the church! 

Rob and I were both raised Catholic--Rob's mother was Spanish; mine was French--and we figured that if anyone would help Jeno, it would be the parish priest. So we loaded  Jeno into the back seat of my Bug (yes, I was a vintage VW kind of punk girl back in the day--a 1972 Superbeetle, Tennessee orange of course) and took him to the rectory next to the church both our families attended. Our parish priest was an awesome guy--a chain-smoking, Scotch-drinking, honest-to-God Irish lean whip of a man who had baptized, christened, and First Communion-ed me. The drive lasted maybe five minutes, and it was the longest five minutes of my life. After what we'd already seen that night, and the knowledge of how Jeno's brother had died, a VW Bug didn't seem like the safest place in the world to be. On top of that, it was three o'clock in the morning, and we were going to wake up a priest. 

It's a testament to who our priest was both as a man and a religious that we didn't even hesitate about going to him. This was the same priest I argued reproductive rights with, the same one who always told his congregation that if they were in spiritual trouble to come to him. Rob and I figured this would qualify, and all we wanted to do was to get Jeno to someone who knew what to do. 

The rectory was a sold-looking Victorian building. Rob, who was quite a bit smaller than Jeno, was literally hauling him up the front porch steps while I banged on the door and rang the doorbell. The porch light snapped on and our priest peered out then he opened the door. He took one look at the three of us (we probably looked like we were crazy) and immediately let us all into the house.

And what happened from that point on is something I don't talk about. I can't. We went through months of serious terror. There were further occasions when Jeno was attacked in front of me--the worst happened one night after he'd been kicked out of his parents' home and was living in a small apartment right off-campus. Jeno had two couches in his shabby living room. I was asleep on one and he was on the other when suddenly he screamed. I jumped up like a scalded cat and he was fighting for his life against something that was only visible because it was under the blanket with him, like some huge freaking guy had crept up on that couch with him and crawled under the quilt to strangle him. I hauled Jeno off the couch into the floor, the blanket went flat, and the attack stopped.

We sat up the rest of the night in the floor with every light in the house on and my rosary beads around his neck.

But there was nothing else I could do. I couldn't help him and organized religion wouldn't (at the time). The response of both the Mormon and Catholic Churches to Jeno's situation made me angry--angry enough to forego religion for a long, long time. Exorcisms were not something the Catholic church approved or even talked about openly at the time. Although our priest prayed with Jeno, blessed him, and conducted minor rites in the hope that something would alleviate his suffering he was told by his superiors to stop.

Father protested on Jeno's behalf (and also for Rob and me, since we were now getting peripheral notice from the entity), but the diocese was emphatic. The Catholic church rarely approved exorcisms, there was no exorcist in the diocese, and the bishop flat refused to sanction anything remotely resembling an exorcism for a non-Catholic. Probably as a result of his protests, our priest was moved to another parish within six months.  But before he left, he told me that it was dangerous to spend so much time with Jeno trying to help him and told Rob the same thing. Being know-it-all twenty-somethings, we ignored him.

Unfortunately, Rob told Jeno what the priest had said. Six weeks after that, Jeno left town and I have never heard from him again.


All that is history. Let's talk about the present, as in what has happened from 2015 to 2019 and specifically for Tim and me.

After I began to research and write the articles surrounding the 2015 investigation of the Zozo house, I was getting poked paranormally in my house. The notes I took that night and Darren's phone number mysteriously disappeared from my computer, even though I had saved my work (being a writer makes you autosave-suspicious) and turned off the computer that night. A pair of lights in my living room blew within three minutes of each other. One lamp fell from the end table for no reason--I watched it fall and there wasn't a cat near it or under it. My mother's rosary beads disappeared from my closed jewelry box in the bedroom. (I later found it under the living room couch.)  Had a few random bangs on the front door and one from inside the linen closet in the hallway. (I live in a century-old house). I spent three days looking at the TV or computer screen with one hand over my eye due to an almost incapacitating migraine that wouldn't respond to any kind of migraine medicines. Despite all this, I managed to get four articles and three press releases done on top of my normal, everyday workload.

The Zozo experiment exacerbated everything exponentially. As the month went on, Tim and I both began having parallel paranormal experiences including nightmares, poltergeist activity, shadow figures in our non-haunted homes, and extreme emotional swings. Lightning struck my house when I was interviewing I ended up quadruple-saving the rough draft of the book and my notes because they kept disappearing from my computer. We did several investigations together after the experiment, and no matter where we went, the demonic pursued us. I ended up taking a break from investigations for a while, and gradually the activity on my end slowed and stopped.

This year, Tim and I started investigating and working together again. The last trip we took we were deliberately looking to contact the Zozo entity, and once again Tim and I began to experience parallel activity. That started up in the two weeks prior to the investigation and has not only continued but increased and intensified. Eventually, once I can announce the super secret big projects we're working on, all of you will be able to hear the rest of that story. Shouldn't be too long.

Here's the thing. I know there are no coincidences when it comes to paranormal activity. For two hundred years, authors working on the Bell Witch story have reported losing their entire manuscripts. I know a writer who lost his entire book--back when writing a book required a typewriter and lots of Liquid Paper. The physical manuscript just disappeared from inside his locked desk drawer. Film crews would find their equipment malfunctioning inside the Bell Witch cave or the landing outside it--but it all worked perfectly on top of the cliff. This happened famously during the late 1980s when the show Unsolved Mysteries tried to film there. Also, when you're writing about the Bell Witch your source materials and research--particularly the Ingram book--disappear. So I know the history involved with writing about paranormal entities and resultant paranormal activity that interferes with that.

For the same thing to happen here makes me suspicious.

In an era when demonic attacks are perceived to be on the rise, when the Catholic church is suddenly embracing the rite of exorcism in order to meet the rising need to help victims of demonic oppression and possession, when non-Catholic "exorcists" are working openly with paranormal investigators who are looking into demonic hauntings you have to stop and think: is there some reason the diabolical forces are increasing? It's kind of a chicken or the egg sort of dilemma. Is the increased interest in the paranormal the reason we are hearing more about demons or demonic hauntings? Or are demons becoming more openly prevalent and that's why there are more paranormal investigations?

Make no mistake, any time an investigator like Tim or a researcher like me starts to poke at demonic entities, it's playing with fire. People who understand the dangers of this type of paranormal research also understand the need for protecting themselves as they proceed. But sometimes, depending on the entity, that protection isn't enough...or fails. Even the most experienced paranormal investigator can sometimes end up with an attachment or worse. And if multiple people on the same team end up with parallel activity--and especially if they don't live in the same place like Tim and me--that's a huge red flag. At that point, whatever methods of self-protection they employ have been compromised, leaving the investigators open to worse and increasing activity.

I knew when I first wrote this blog post that because we were investigating Zozo, an entity that has Ouija-bombed and stalked Tim for years, there would be paranormal consequences. That didn't surprise me. What did surprise me was how quick and how severe those consequences were. They had far-reaching effects on everyone involved.

Make no mistake: paranormal investigation is NOT a game. It's dangerous to everyone involved. So getting a cheap voice recorder and running around a deserted haunted house at night or "playing" with a Ouija board isn't some kind of cheap thrill. It's potentially deadly, and these cautionary tales shouldn't be ignored or dismissed. Leave it to the experts, because even the experts in the paranormal field know that this type of investigation weighs heavily in favor of the demonic, not the investigators.

Hopefully after this, you'll know that too. Stay tuned, folks. This ride is getting to be VERY bumpy. Oh, and if you want to learn more about Tim and his experiences with the Zozo entity, watch that last video I posted. You'll learn a lot.

Particularly why you don't want to get any closer to that entity than reading about it in a blog.

Author's note: I had just finished typing the line directly above this one when the ceiling in my office/spare bedroom suddenly collapsed. I was hit with plaster and insulation, and the guest bedroom which I had just finished renovating was pretty much destroyed. The collapse barely missed taking out all the electronics--tv, desktop, laptop, Nintendo Switch--but managed to destroy the overhead light. So allow me to reiterate one more time: dealing with the diabolical is not a game, is not "fun", is not an adrenaline rush. It's dangerous on multiple levels.

Once the diabolical knows your name, it never forgets it. When it knows you're planning to confront it, the demonic will make its presence known. 

Monday, January 07, 2019

2018 Sports--Year of the Asshats

Sorry for the long layoff on this blog. 2018 was an extraordinarily busy year for me, with the release of 11 new fiction titles (oh my Harlequin--how hard it's going to be to say goodbye to you next month when your series is done! Until then, you can take a look at Dominic on his first book cover just for fun), two non-fiction titles, multiple ghost writing projects, and editing. I couldn't do a lot of sports blogging like I usually do on this blog, or write many columns for the Orange & White Report. Both of those circumstances will be changing in 2019, which is currently a "light" year for me with five fiction titles and two more non-fiction projects in the works. 

But that doesn't keep me from paying attention to what's going on. 

2018 was a tough year in sports. Aside from the continuing inactivity in sexual assault and abuses in programs like Baylor and Michigan State (the conviction and indictment of Larry Nasser, the physician/rapist in East Lansing was a brief high point for the judicial system and an ongoing disaster for the NCAA), other egregious nightmares were exposed. The death of 19-year old University of Maryland football player, Jordan McNair, was directly attributed to abusive coaching practices under former HFC DJ Durkin. What was great to see was that Maryland actually investigated the program; what was absolutely unbelievable was that they reinstated Durkin as head coach. The fan and backlash was so virulent that they fired him the day after they put him back in charge of the team.

Another tone-deaf administration undone by the anger of an educated fan base. 

Then, just twenty minutes up the road from where I'm writing this in the middle of the night, Urban Meyer's long-predicted and oft-expected end-of-the-road scandal reared its ugly head like a 17-year cicada. The former wife of OSU assistant Zach Smith revealed that not only did her husband abuse her physically and mentally, but that Meyer knew about the abuse for a decade and  had still retained Smith on his staff, giving him annual raises and promotions. That coaching relationship between Meyer and Smith had its roots in the dog-dirty Florida football program that generated the likes of murderer Aaron Hernandez. During his occupation of the Swamp, Meyer saw thirty-one of his players get arrested between 2005 and 2010. You'd think he would have taken away something constructive from the fiasco that accompanied his exit from Florida.

You'd think he would have learned that the quickest way to destroy a coach's legacy is to look the other way at criminal activity. 

But no. Zach Smith proved to be the rocks on which Urban Meyer's ship foundered, and while the embattled coach backslid into the same "health issues" smokescreen he'd used to exit Gainesville, stepping down at the end of the 2018-19 season with his reputation once more in tatters. 




And then, of course, new information was brought to light regarding the former head football coach at Tennessee, Butch Jones, in a book that has my name on the front cover. During the course of the months co-author Tom Mattingly and I devoted to research and dozens of interviews, we unearthed a slew of nasty stories about the abusive atmosphere Jones created--the abuse of players, the withholding of transcripts so players couldn't transfer, the reason for the staggering number of injuries the Vols suffered every year, the micromanagement that turned into a totalitarian regime, and the interference in medical protocols that resulted in players having untreated injuries once their playing days on Rocky Top were done.

In all these cases, a common denominator existed that tie the universities together. 2018 was the year of the fan, and make no mistake--that's not always a compliment. 

Anytime you've got someone in the media that breaks a big story, there's going to be a lot of backlash. As a writer, you try to prepare for that. I certainly tried to steel myself before Empowered was released, and I know that an experienced journalist like Brett McMurphy (who broke the Zach Smith case) almost certainly did as well. But in the sports world, there's really no way to prepare yourself for the ignorant fan or the belligerent fan or the stupid enough to call Paul Finebaum's nationally syndicated show and brag about poisoning the famous oaks at Toomer's Corner because Auburn beat Alabama that year Harvey Updike sort of fan. 

Image result for surrender cobra
Surrender cobras...usually the first reaction of an asshat
fan when the game doesn't go their way.
2018 was a year in which the asshat fan thrived. 

Now sure--the asshat fan is just the leading edge of a fringe element in all sporting fandoms. Usually, we all believe the asshat fan is at that OTHER school or rooting for that OTHER divisional team. It's much more difficult to accept that your university is just as guilty of asshat fans as every other university is. And nowhere does the asshat fan thrive more than in big-money NCAA sports. 

When McMurphy broke the Zach Smith case, the response of Ohio State fans was immediate and extremely defensive. Fans howled at the media, especially McMurphy. 

They also howled at Smith's victim for a decade, his ex-wife Courtney Smith. As their anger increased so did the asshattedness, until much of what you saw on social media consisted of fairly serious threats against her--a woman who'd endured a decade of abuse from her spouse and with small children to raise. But many Ohio State fans were more concerned about the threat of losing their national championship winning coach. As Chris Thompson put it in his article for Deadspin: 

Probably no one in this story especially needs a rally of support on the OSU campus, and certainly not the guy collecting payments on a $6.4 million annual salary to sit at home and not do a job, while his employer tries to figure out whether he was apathetic about one of his assistants abusing and terrorizing someone. But sports fandom—all fandom, for that matter—is a fucking disease, and so here we are: some 250 deeply wacko Buckeyes fans gathered angrily outside Ohio Stadium Monday afternoon to chant and sing and wave signs in support of Meyer.
Bolding mine.

Sports fandom is a fucking disease. Sounds kind of harsh, doesn't it? But isn't it also an accurate diagnosis of the cray-cray that infests every fan base, from Little League to the NFL? I mean--take a look at the definition: 

fan2/fan/...noun


  1. a person who has a strong interest in or admiration for a particular person or thing.
    "football fans"

    synonyms:enthusiastdevoteeadmirerloverMore

Abbreviation of fanatic. Might be something to keep in mind moving forward. All I know as the mother of a young woman who, like Courtney Smith, is enmeshed in the horror of an abusive marriage to a man more than twice her size and weight compels me to state unequivocally that there are no circumstances or situations where it's justifiable for one marriage partner to beat, choke, slam, slap, claw, or strangle their spouse.

Zero. None.


Image result for urban meyer protest
These men represent the worst of the bad. They not only supported an enabler of domestic abuse, but they hijacked a hashtag for victims of sexual abuse and tried to blame two entities for the scandal that had nothing to do with it: Paul Finebaum and ESPN. 
I'm sure that among the two hundred and fifty Urban Meyer fans who protested outside Ohio Stadium, a few probably agreed with the statement I just made. But those same fans were saying something completely different when they started their protest (a very amateurish copy of what happens when Vol Nation decides to take a stand on something, by the way). They were declaring to the world that domestic violence was less important to them than winning football games. They knew that Urban Meyer was the key to getting back into the College Football Payoffs--oops. Sorry. I meant PLAYOFFS of course--and they were unwilling to sacrifice him . So they sacrificed Courtney Smith, her children, and her safety instead.


This has nothing to do with our ex-wide receiver coach, or the accusations against him, with his ex-wife. I don’t want to talk about that! I don’t condone what he’s accused of, I don’t condone any of that stuff! This is not why I’m here. That’s not why I drove twelve hours and you guys are standing out in 95-degree heat—to talk about what he did or didn’t do.

That's what the organizer of the rally--tragically self-identifying as "Tennessee Jeff"--had to say in his opening statement. 

Sigh. Tennessee can't thank you enough, "Jeff".

Of course that's not what he wanted to talk about because he knew, way down deep in his two sizes-too-small heart that he was basically opening up an abuse victim to the worst kinds of online attention. He and the rest of the "protesters" stood around and talked and sang (Yes, I saw them. I was waiting for them to bust out "We Will Overcome" just to make their make-believe persecution delusions complete.) and talked some more, holding signs that were so gobsmackingly inane and devoid of awareness that even a certifiable cynic like me was stunned.

Yes, Virginia. There is a species of sub-human that is so ridiculously oblivious to how they make themselves and their university look. What? You want more of the surrender cobras? Okay. Here's one of my favorites. 


Image result for surrender cobra Georgia Tennessee 2016
Of course this is the Tennessee-Georgia game from 2016. These UGA fans are watching the celebration after the Josh Dobbs to Jauan Jennings "Dobbnail Boot"Hail Mary reception  to win the game.

Naturally, Ohio State fans were terrified that without Urban Meyer, Ohio State would implode and the 2018-19 season--when they had legitimate playoff hopes--would end up as a disaster. I wasn't terrified about that. In fact, I was kind of hoping they were right. (I'm married to one of them, by the way, and it's hard to gloat too much about Urban screwing up yet again when one of them is snoring on the other side of the bed.) And while the season didn't implode per se, the disaster that struck the Buckeyes when they were blown out by Pursue enabled me to gloat just a little. 


I can't wait for Urban's health issues to miraculously resolve in time for him to head to another coaching destination so he can screw up their school in five years or so because that would get his scurvy carcass out of the state where I live. 


See? See how easy it is to devolve into asshattery? While fans from any other university wouldn't consider what I just wrote as asshat enough to be worthy of the asshat fan designation, folks who love Ohio State certainly would. We all are just as protective of our school's reputation as we are proud of their prowess on the field. To any other school, Tennessee's five and seven season in 2018-19 shouldn't create any kind of positive outlook for the program's future. But Vols fans do have something to be proud of: two of those five wins were against ranked SEC opponents, both of whom went to bowl games and both of whom won their bowls--Auburn, dominating the hapless Purdue (who beat OSU by twenty and ruined their playoff dreams) and Kentucky, beating heavily favored Penn State in the Citrus Bowl. 

So, yes. Every fan base has its asshats. But then you have the schools who habitually sit atop the football or men's basketball pyramid, and their asshattery assumes a virulent, shrill nastiness of manner that makes them universally loathed. You know who I'm talking about. Is there a school more arrogant about its men's basketball team than Kentucky? Duke, maybe. North Carolina, perhaps. UCLA has made a serious run at total asshattery, using methods that John Wooden would have never permitted. But in football, just take a moment to consider these asshattery candidates: Alabama. Oklahoma. Clemson. Notre Dame. 

Four teams that made it into the CFB Playoffs this year. 

I have a wide-ranging circle of friends within the comforting circle of football fandom. All of my Bama friends go out of their way to avoid being asshats, which is rather difficult considering the unquestioned mastery Nick Saban maintains over his program. When Alabama has a team that sports pundits are defining as the "best college football team ever" it's impossible for Tide fans not to talk themselves up. Here in a couple of hours, 98% of the Crimson Tide lovers online will be getting up and getting ready for work, maybe dropping an excited Tweet or two about the game tonight. 

But here we are...four in the morning on the day of the College Football Playoffs National Championship Game, and there's a faction online right this moment basically Tweeting nonsense just so they can type the following: #RollTide. They're also hunting for cyber-prey: basically people who hate Alabama that they can gang up on.

Yesterday, a lot of people were discussing my book with me, particularly the reported abuses Butch Jones had employed upon his team, staff, and assistants. The chapter where I go into that topic is the longest in the book. Tennessee's Hidden Nightmare: Player Injuries and Mistreatment. 

That chapter includes this young man's story. Watch Mykelle McDaniel tell what happened to him in his own words and then let me know how that story makes you feel.





Butch Jones turned a football program into a totalitarian regime. I interviewed multiple players and staff members, three of whom went on the record. Between those three players, the entire spread of Jones' tenure in Knoxville was covered, and the escalating severity of his abuses was never addressed by the university because there wasn't consistent leadership or oversight. 

There's not much difference between Jones and Maryland's DJ Durkin. Butch Jones spent the 2018-19 season as an "intern" at Alabama--an incredibly bizarre job title for a guy who'd been a head coach in the SEC just a year earlier. Saban recently brought the disgraced Maryland head coach, DJ Durkin, to Tuscaloosa as well. So I made the comment that all Saban needed was one more predatory coach and he'd have the classless trifecta. In pops a Bama fan, so rabid to defend Saint Saban that he accused me of making up these stories in order to exploit the Tennessee fan base and promote my book. 

This guy was supposed to be my friend.

Needless to say, I took exception to what he said so I verbally eviscerated him and kicked him to the curb, muting him when I was done. I'm not too proud to confess that I used language I almost never employ when talking online. But yeah...I cussed that you-know-what up one side and down the other. But , you ask? Because he cast aspersions on my work, publicly accusing me of making up sh*t so I could exploit the still-nervous Tennessee fan base and make money off them. Not exactly the approach a friend should take. Never mind the interviews online that corroborated the stories I'd published. Never mind the fact that we interviewed former players and staff, parents, journalists, physicians, donors and fans. 

Nope. I "invented" those stories as exploitative promotion tactics so I can make a fortune In and of itself, the idea that any author makes money off a book like this one is kind of ludicrous. Yes, we had an Amazon #1 Bestseller in both Football and the History of Sports genres. But we didn't start cashing six-figure checks. Believe me.

Fast forward twenty-four hours. Dude is still at it, cyber-stalking me to YouTube, where a video about my book and the exposure of Butch Jones's treatment of his teams had been posted by the world's favorite LSU fan, TJ LSU Dad. Bama fan proceeded to leave a comment on the video, saying that I was a "hag" and a Finebaum "wannabe" blah blah blah. 



LSU Dad doesn't go in for fake moral outrage, and as a LSU fan he doesn't have a dog in the fight. His reaction to my book and Mykelle McDaniel's filmed interview with me was exactly what I hoped a neutral party's reaction would be.

Yeah, this bushy-tailed squirrelly lover of the Crimson Tide is a bona fide pin-headed nincompoop for thinking that calling me a "hag" was going to hurt my feelings. You see...to me any CFB fan should be proud of their programs and their coaches--not just for the wins each season on the field, but also the wins off the field.  When the Vols run through the T each home game every season, I feel so much pride for our team and school that sometimes I tear up, especially if I'm on a rare trip back to Neyland.

Tonight, the University of Alabama will take the field for the national championship against Clemson, and right in their midst will be Butch Jones, the Bama "intern" who single-handedly destroyed the careers and futures of dozens of Tennessee players. That's nothing to be proud of. That's nothing to brag about. As a matter of fact, Butch Jones representing the University of Alabama in any capacity is just as egregious as Urban Meyer knowingly enabling a wife-beater throughout his career. Think about it--what does it say about Nick Saban when he's the guy who brought Jones on as a $35,000 per year staff member--carefully keeping Jones's salary well below the figure where he'd lose the $9 million of his buyout from Tennessee?

And what does it say that he's also poised to bring Durkin onto his staff as well?

No one was louder about Urban Meyer and the Zach Smith scandal than the asshats among Alabama fans. Their moral outrage when Meyer was only benched for three games was vociferous as they clutched their pearls in sheer horror. How hypocritical my latest cyber-stalker's behavior is now! 

You can't scream about Zach Smith and ignore Butch Jones on your own sideline.

I know what you're thinking, cyber-stalker. You're thinking that if roles were reversed, I would have accused you of making up bullshit for the money too. You're thinking that I would have responded worse than you did, cyber-stalking you as well. 

Well...no, I wouldn't have. 

Right now, UT is conducting a search for its new Offensive Coordinator. Several of the names that were brought up were names I found unacceptable for one reason or another. But one name in particular--Kendal Briles--had me writing this a couple of weeks ago in a column:

So as fans and supporters, we have to look at the story that Tennessee is considering Kendal Briles as its new offensive coordinator and make our own determination of what we think and how this news makes us feel--not just about UT but about ourselves. Make no mistake--bringing Briles to Rocky Top will once again expose the university and the fans to the ridicule and scorn of the national media and other fan bases. Deservedly, I might add. That move would make the idea of Tennessee "morality" into a national joke.

I was horrified, however, at how many of my fellow Tennessee fans were 100% behind the Briles hire at OC. Remember when I said that every fan base has its asshats? The University of Tennessee is no exception. We have idiots who suck up to recruits--basically "writing love letters" to them, as one of my friends sarcastically said about the worst such offender--and then, when the kid and his parents choose to sign with a different school, these grown-ass men (for the most part) suddenly nuke the recruit's social media feeds, screeching like crazy old ladies who shoot kids with BB guns if they set one toe too close to their pansies in the flower bed. 

Every member of Vol Twitter knows exactly which asshat I'm talking about. *waves to Sab*

We also, apparently, have fans for whom winning is more important than reputation or history or brand, and in places like Baylor winning is MUCH more important than the psychological, emotional, and physical health of those fifty-one rape victims or the thirty players that allegedly committed those rapes. Just like I said a minute ago: you can't revolt against the hiring of Greg Schiano on morality grounds and then welcome the architect of the "show 'em a good time" recruiting policy at Baylor, where recruits were taken to strip clubs, given alcohol, and allegedly provided with girls for sex. And just like when my cyber-stalker accused me of manufacturing the charges against Butch Jones--I discovered what had happened to dozens of Tennessee players by interviewing the victims just like the attorneys and Title IX enforcers and law enforcement discovered what was going on at Baylor by interviewing the victims. 

Of course, seeing as my cyber-stalker hasn't actually READ the book and the stories in question, anything he has to say is automatically null and void. Bashing a book's veracity just because you want the stories to be untrue is one step away from burning books, or banning them, or censoring them. 

2018. The year of the asshat fan has extended, sadly, into 2019. Here in about thirteen hours, the pageantry and hype of the last football game of the season will kick off and every football fan will be set up for four hours of the greatest sport ever existed (save for jai alai) and the subsequent drought once it's over. By this time tomorrow, every football fanatic in every fan base except for one (tonight's winner) will have their thoughts turned to next season. 


Tomorrow night, either the Clemson fans or the Alabama fans--whichever is victorious--will turn their attention to torturing every other school with gloats, boasts, brags, and for most of them a very real sense of joy at what their team has accomplished. Hidden in the depths of the winning fan base, however, are going to be the asshats whose online behavior cranks up in activity but plummets in class. They don't care that they're ruining the sport for everyone but themselves. They don't care that one day, their beloved coach is going to retire or go to the NFL or otherwise move on, and then their program will take a nosedive. That's the way that athletic success works. Winning programs move through history like a pendulum, and the bigger the swing into championship seasons, the greater the corresponding downfall of the program will be.  

As for my beady-eyed, bushy-tailed, acorn-hoarding cyber-stalker...

You may think I'm a hag. I don't look my best at times, but by God, I'm still walking despite being advised by my surgeon that I'll end up in a wheelchair within the next few years. I refuse to let my physical deterioration interfere with my professional goals, which are ambitious. So I defy anyone to come out of the last two decades I have--the automobile accident, the chronic pain, the agonizing repercussions of multiple major spinal surgeries--and have them looking like they could still win beauty pageants. At the end of the day, I don't give a damn if you and your Loser in 'Loosa buddy think I look like a hag. I'm a fifty-two year old grandmother of seven, and as long as my damn good-looking husband, who's worked his ass off since I was disabled just to keep our heads above water, is content then I could give two craps about what a man who's too much of a coward to use his real name or his photo in his profile.  

At least I don't brag if my name is mentioned on one page of Finebaum's last book. I sure as hell can brag that my name is on the spine of over forty books instead. 

At least I have the courage to squirrel out a story, even if that story damns my own school, and get the information out there because it's the right thing to do. 

At least I have the courage to use my own name on social media, and blog instead of hiding behind a ridiculous pseudonym like squirrel or chipmunk or raccoon. 

At least I have the courage to expose a squirrel's cache of wrongdoing, although more than one person warned me that if I got too close to the truth about one particular family I could be endangering myself. 

You can always tell if a person's really a rodent underneath their smiling facade, because anyone who cyber-stalks you as a result of your opinion--whether it's about football or politics or who gets to sit by the window on the plane--is nothing but a big fat rat. 

One of my other friends, Archie, had enough of the squirrelly way my cyber-stalker was acting yesterday afternoon. Keep in mind, this was twenty-four hours after the stream of abusive commentary began when I expressed my disappointment in Alabama for continuing its quest for a trifecta of low-class former coaches enrolled in Nick Saban's Reformatory. When he was done with the panorama of Bama non-gramma, Archie said this: 


You've made an ass of yourself trolling the past 24 hours chipmunk. I'll give you a few minutes to read this, then handle you accordingly.

I thought his remark was remarkably pithy. That's the downfall of every asshat fan. Eventually, you get called out by a total stranger for being an asshole. Not assHAT. AssHOLE. 

Sports are a huge part of our societal culture. Sports have been a form of entertainment since well before the first time two guys were thrown into an amphitheater with a couple of swords and told to fight for the amusement of ancient Rome. So maybe think of it this way as we move out of football season and into the heart of basketball season--

Don't ruin sports for everyone around you. Don't be the asshat who stands at the end of the bar, drunk as a lord, screaming curses at the big screen TV like the coaches or referees or players can hear you and ultimately launching your beer bottle at the TV if things don't go your way. Don't cyber-stalk someone who doesn't share your fandom for your school. 

Don't be that asshat fan. 

Because all too soon, football season's done and your basketball team is mediocre at best. 

Instead of being an asshat, try to do the right thing--and try to force the university you support to do the right thing also. Because this much I can guarantee you: having Butch Jones on your sideline tonight? That'll make people believe Nick Saban doesn't have one damn iota of common sense, as if the University of Alabama is condoning the abusive and predatory nature of Butch Jones. 

And karma, my erstwhile friend, is a total bitch.