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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Weird Conference draws those seeking a ghost of a chance

Weird Conference draws those seeking a ghost of a chance

Things that go bump in the night came out to play in the day – at least that's what visitors hoped for, Friday and Saturday at Ghost Rush 2008. The American Paranormal Investigations-sponsored conference focused on ghosts, phantom noises, strange temperature changes and weird, seemingly invisible movements.

Stationed at the historic St. George Hotel in Volcano, a tiny Gold Rush town nearly 60 miles outside of Sacramento, API founder Dave Bender watched as a group of paranormal experts, including "debunkers," "sensitives" and psychics – joined approximately 53 ghost buffs to discuss how technology combined with a bone-chilling gut reaction can pinpoint the presence of a spirit.

"It really is a scientific process," Bender, 36, said. "We utilize equipment, take readings and try to find, first, if there's a plausible explanation for what's going on."

The St. George Hotel, long believed to shelter myriad ghosts, is the ideal location, Bender said.

"Volcano, Placerville, Coloma – all these Gold Rush towns hold a lot of history," Bender said.

Bender launched the API in 2001 as a way to expand upon his paranormal interests. Now, the Sacramento-based group investigates approximately 100 cases each year, going into homes and businesses to explore hard-to-explain occurrences.

Armed with camcorders, digital audio recorders, electromagnetic field detectors and Geiger counters used to detect radiation, investigators gather evidence while a "debunker" tries to discern a plausible explanation for every last bump, shadow and hint of ghostly chatter.

Debunking the presence of a ghost is just as important as proving it, Bender said. Once you've dismissed any credible explanations, it's easier to focus on what is – or isn't – in front of you.

"A lot of people don't believe in this – they think it's too hard to prove the paranormal," he said. "But it's a very personal thing, and you and I might experience it very differently."

For Jason Lindo, a 48-year-old Sacramento "sensitive," that experience is purely physical.

"Sometimes I'll feel a compression in my chest – like an energy that's starting to build," he said. "Or sometimes it's a chill or (I'll hear) a voice."

So, has Lindo sensed an otherworldly presence here?

Yes – just not today. Yet.

"I came through here earlier when we were scouting a conference location," he said. "Then, I could feel an older gentleman and a young girl. Later I learned that a lot of the visitors at this hotel have also seen them."

Now, Lindo's still waiting for another encounter. He's confident they'll show up. It's just a matter of focus as well as the right ghost at the right time.

"There are a lot of people here right now stirring up the energy and the (ghosts) who want to be seen – the divas and the drama queens – will make their presence known."

Suzanne Briscoe is waiting. The 58-year-old Salt Lake City resident journeyed here with friends for the chance to encounter a spirit.

"I keep waiting for my husband to show up," she said, laughing. "But nobody's tapped me on the shoulder yet."

If that does happen, Briscoe said, she's ready to embrace the hard-to-believe.

"You have to be open-minded because sometimes you're just not sure what to believe," she said.

So far, she added, the conference experience has been refreshingly "normal."

"The people here aren't goofy or weird – no one's running around in turbans or flowing gowns," she said. "It's just a bunch of normal people interested in the same thing."

Her pal, 66-year-old Joyce Carter, sees it this way:

"I'm just enjoying my time here, going to the workshops and learning," Carter said. "I don't know if I totally believe in all this stuff – but then again, I don't know if I totally doubt it either."

About the writer:

* Call The Bee's Rachel Leibrock, (916) 321-1176.

Weird Furious electro-dance style sweeps France

Weird Furious electro-dance style sweeps France

PARIS (Billboard) - Enter any nightclub in Paris right now, and chances are you'll bump into a group of weird-looking teenagers, seemingly trying to rip their own heads off. If so, don't worry -- you have just entered the world of Tecktonik.

This electro-dance scene was born in 2000 at Paris nightclub Metropolis, and has gradually become an all-encompassing teenage lifestyle, incorporating a highly distinctive dance and dress code (skinny-fit trousers and tight T-shirts, Day-Glo colors and punk-inspired spiky haircuts). It's now ubiquitous in France: on TV, in newspapers and magazines, in discos, even in schools.

EMI France international development director Laurence Muller compares it to hip-hop.

"It involves fashion, visuals, music and dance," he says, "with maybe graphic arts a bit behind."
A man is seen with a 'Tecktonik' hairstyle in a hairdressing salon in Paris March 7, 2008. (Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters)

Reuters Photo:
A man is seen with a 'Tecktonik' hairstyle in a hairdressing salon in Paris March...

It's also a brand in the purest sense of the word. "Tecktonik" and "TCK" are official trademarks, owned by Cyril Blanc and Alexandre Barouzdin, the two electro dancers who, eight years ago, launched Tecktonik Killer club nights, which mixed various electronic music styles with synthesized, repetitive voices and a high beats-per-minute rate.

"At first, we protected the name to prevent other nightclubs (from) advertising Tecktonik nights," Barouzdin says. "We did not mean to create a brand."

Now, however, a mind-boggling range of official Tecktonik products are available: from music compilations and a Sony Ericsson mobile handset (due in April) to clothes, jewelry, an energy drink and even two official hair salons.


Blanc and Barouzdin also initiated the dance with exaggerated arm and head gestures, which spread through battles at Metropolis and then online, when dancers started posting their performances on video-sharing sites including YouTube, Dailymotion and Skyblog.

"Tecktonik videos are among the most-watched on our service," Dailymotion content director Martin Rogard says. He says traffic first spiked in March 2007 and then exploded with the release of Mondotek's hit "Alive" (Mercury/Universal) in November. The official posting of the "Alive" video alone has attracted more than 1.9 million views.

Around the same time, mainstream pop artists Lorie and Yelle incorporated the dance into their videos as Tecktonik hit the mainstream.

Unlike many musical movements, Tecktonik takes a stance against drugs and alcohol. Frederic Pau, program director of No. 1 France music radio network NRJ, praises it as "a healthy movement, with a good spirit." NRJ is organizing a Tecktonik tour, expected this summer.

Barouzdin and Blanc, who decline to reveal financial details, have licensed their brand worldwide to EMI Music France for music-related products. TF1 Enterprises -- a division of leading French TV channel TF1 -- acts as Tecktonik's agent for distribution licenses for other products.


EMI France says its latest genre compilation, "Tecktonik/Vol. 4," is the most successful yet. The album, featuring such local acts as Hardrox and Dim Chris alongside international DJ/mixers including U.S.-based Robbie Rivera and Italy's Paolo Bolognesi, has shipped more than 230,000 copies since its December release, according to EMI. "Vol. 5" is due April 21 and will include a DVD featuring dance tips.

But despite the trademark protection for the Tecktonik name, the popularity of the movement has inspired other labels to release their own electro-dance compilations targeting Tecktonik fans.

"We don't need the word 'Tecktonik,"' says Philippe Solas, marketing director at Mercury France, which released Mondotek's "Alive." "(The style of) dance says enough by itself."

Barouzdin remains sanguine about the competition.

"Successes such as Mondotek help the movement live," he says. "The brand Tecktonik is just a quality label."

He also has plans to help the Tecktonik eagle symbol spread its wings internationally. Tecktonik Killer nights have already taken place in Morocco, Belgium and Switzerland; there are negotiations for events in Hungary, Russia and Japan.

Meanwhile, "Tecktonik/Vol. 4" has been rolling out internationally since February 18, and international artists are showing interest. Moby's single "Disco Lies" (Mute) was remixed by Tecktonik DJ Dim Chris, while a video shot by Dailymotion shows Janet Jackson discovering the dance.

"We have made her choreography proposals," says Barouzdin, who also claims interest from Kanye West and Madonna.

Pau has no doubt the movement will eventually catch on globally.

"All it needs," he says, "is one international artist or DJ to embrace it."


Very Weird But True



March 30, 2008 -- Cops in Salem, Ore., are on an epic quest - to find out who left a full suit of medieval armor at a bus stop.

The suit includes everything from metal boots to a helmet, and even has a shield.

The cops are hoping the nude knight will come forward, but he had better have a receipt if he wants it back.


This year's book with the oddest title has been named - and the winner is "If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs."

The Bookseller magazine named the love self-help guide the winner in a close call over "I Was Tortured By the Pygmy Love Queen."

"Cheese Problems Solved" came in third.


Outraged Ukrainians are crying, "I wanna rock!" after the nation banned all Western music from their train cars.

Riders used to listening to rock and pop hits now have to listen to obscure local folk music.

The ruling also applies to the nation's planes.


A British teacher found a new way to get out of paying a parking ticket.

He successfully got the case against him thrown out because the ticket was placed in the wrong color envelope when it was placed on the car.

The ticket was in a black and yellow envelope, but because it was handed out by a private ticket-issuing company, it was not allowed to be that color.

Talk about bureaucracy.


Unemployment offices in Britain are really working hard to get people jobs - they're even posting ads for work as pole-dancers and sex-chat-line workers.

One pole-dancing job offered $30 an hour to start.

A lap-dancing job said that no experience was necessary but that the job might "cause embarrassment to some."

A sex-line job was offering $100 an hour, but for that the applicant would have to be willing to appear in front of a Web cam alongside "nude adult images."

The job also has one extra requirement - it's important that the applicants be "enthusiastic."

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