The Trickster Has A New Home

If you care at all about ufology or any of the other paranormal categories we entertain, you need to check out Jeff Ritzmann’s new blog The Numinous Den. In it, he breaks down and dissects George Hansen’s Trickster Theory in every situation where it rears its head. It’s superb. It’s easy to grasp. And he’s only a handful of posts in so it’s easy to start at the beginning and catch up.

In honor of Jeff’s latest accomplishment, I offer my two cents on the Trickster element at work in the psyche….


‘Trickster’, by Bill Lewis

You could easily mock people who report experiences that fall outside the range of normal awareness if they occurred only a handful of times or in a few cultures. That they happen with frequency throughout all time and in every culture means normal awareness is being mocked at every turn, and so to mock high strangeness experiences is to ignore that fact with high prejudice.

The whole feedback loop is one big knowing smirk, but those limited to normal awareness aren’t conscious of the joke. The debunkers don’t know what they’re laughing at but they know they’re being laughed at, so they guffaw as bullies and demean experiencers and anyone who takes experiencers seriously. Their arrogance is from ignorance. Not miseducation or lack of education, but ignoring. On that deeper ignored level, they understand the joke is on them. In this sense they deserve pity for they’ve not had an experience which forces them to question reality in any sustainable way past being born.*

We’re all living in a facade in which and with which we self-identify. Some of the unhealthy impulses beneath the surface are sadistic because they are psychotically detached. Some of the healthy impulses may feel sadistic because they are compassionately detached and we are not consciously equipped to tell the difference.

Perhaps there is an intelligence trying like Hell to help us tell the difference. Perhaps there is a unifying principle that shocks its way through all cultures in all times like a jagged lightning strike through clouds.

Perhaps that raw, unfiltered consciousness messing with us is also us.

*There is a reason all children question reality and it’s not because they don’t know anything. By the time they’re able to articulate questions, they’ve been filled with knowledge. But knowledge doesn’t answer the unknowable and they haven’t yet given up on the questions, repressed, or handed them over to personal and cultural authority figures with fake answers. Really, what bigger paranormal experience have we normalized than popping into existence from out of nothing? And if the appearance of form from formlessness isn’t a fractal version of the ultimate forms-within-formlessness transcendental bubble, I don’t know what is.

Is Gene Steinberg A Fraud?


Gene Steinberg

Fraud. That’s a strong word. Defined in the search engine as “wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain,” one wonders if this applies to The Paracast host Gene Steinberg, a man who has been begging his audience, his guests, his co-hosts, and his email list to pay all of his bills and rent for the past 10 years as a form of charity for an evolving set of excuses that tend to evoke pity. His begging is well-chronicled. The letters he sends to his email list are often cut and pasted haphazardly, as if even that is too much work. And there’s this underlying expectation that this is how things should be, like in this letter from 08/08/2016 titled, A Brief Stay, But Time Is Short, where Gene writes, “If you can assist me in getting through this crisis, I’d really appreciate it more than I can say. If you’ve already done your share, just tell me and I won’t annoy you again.” In fact, these two sentences encapsulate what is wrong with the last ten years of begging letters. Let’s unpack them.

“If you can assist me in getting through this crisis….”

Everyone with a heart wants to assist in a crisis. Heck, Jeff Ritzmann and I helped raise donations for Gene years and years ago on Paratopia, before we realized there was no crisis that couldn’t be solved by Gene getting a job. But he’s made it clear that he will not. First excuse was the bad economy, which worked for a while because there was actually a bad economy. But as Gene tells it, the economic recovery brought not one job for which he is qualified to his home state of Arizona. He has told us he’s moved to different towns within Arizona in the last 10 years. None of them have work. All of the potential employers on down to the convenience stores and fast food chains are discriminating against him based on his age. For 10 years. Now that the economy is bouncing back, he talks about how hard it is to get a job in the summer. What about the winter? Spring? For 10 years?

What, then, is he doing to make money? Podcasting. It seems he’s put all of his eggs in that basket. It’s difficult to make money through podcasting let alone make a living. But here he is telling us he’s working hard, always on the cusp of success but never quite there, if we can just continue to subsidize his life for a little bit longer… little bit longer. He’s the leech drummer boyfriend with a band and a dream and we’re the enabler girlfriend with high hopes and low self-esteem funding his weed-fueled X-Box sessions.

What about social services? Apparently, there are none of those either. Not for him. Not for his wife. The State of Arizona is also ageist, not just the private sector. There is no welfare for Gene Steinberg, no food stamp program, no Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefit that keeps him away from GoFundMe.

What about his son? Can’t his family help? No, no–it’s on you. And that would be fine–would not sound suspiciously like fraud–if he just asked for money because he felt he deserved to get paid from his podcast audience. Nothing wrong with that. But that doesn’t bring in the big bucks. The thousand-dollar donors rarely come out for anything but a crisis. If I remember correctly, Gene’s “crisis” used to be that he gave all of his life savings to a family member to pay attorney fees for a lawsuit. His family won and so he was due to recoup his money and pay the donors back. It wasn’t charity, it was a loan. But that payday never came for him or for those kindhearted people who loaned him money.

What happened to those loans? His wife gave their bank account info to a Nigerian scammer and they all got wiped away. So the next crisis was needing all of that money all over again.

Then came the mounting electric bills.

Then his wife’s knee surgery.


Dental surgery.

Then came rent.

Then it kept on coming.

And it wasn’t a loan, it was for keeps. This is where we are now. Gene and his wife are perpetually on the verge of being evicted from their home. They just need a little more… a little more… because they have this demanding “slumlord” who, I take it, is such because he’s demanding they pay their rent the way Gene demands you pay his. But isn’t this slumlord a different person than the landlord from the last home they had to vacate in 2012? This eviction thing isn’t new, is it? It gets confusing after a while and you’ll be forgiven if you forgot that it has happened before.

“If you’ve already done your share….”

He’s written (or pasted) this a number of times in his crisis emails through the later years. Done your share? Your share of funding his life? Is there a Steinberg Tax hiding somewhere in the code? It’s this type of arrogance–this expectation that you will give him money–that it’s your turn–that really makes me wonder if this is a long con.

“…just tell me and I won’t annoy you again.”

I am not on Gene’s email list, but I get his missives forwarded to me by others who have

Gold Standard Gym

Also Gene Steinberg (courtesy of John Randall)

tried to get off it and can’t. This has been a chronic complaint for years: you try to unsubscribe from Gene Steinberg’s entitlement poverty crisis acting, but the letters keep coming.

I don’t know if these crisis events are real or not, but after 10 years of refusing to get a job, and with no significant podcasting revenue in sight, it is fair to say that begging is Gene’s career. There are homeless people in India who will lob off appendages for greater sympathetic coin. Gene may be their American counterpart, living in such a way that the crises are real but they are of his own making, one after another after another so that there is no choice but to fund him to keep him and his wife from going homeless. (Although that is the whole of the analogy, as the poverty in India is real.)

In an email letter dated 08/10/2016 titled Closer To Success, Gene begs for money for just about every moving expense imaginable, including a cleaning fee. In the middle, he makes a hopeful promise: “Once everything is paid up, though, I expect to be able to keep the rent payments up to date each month.”

Really? How? Did he find work? Did his wife? Has some rich benefactor come to his aid? Whatever his newly found steady stream of income, I was kind of glad to read this. Maybe this is all real, I thought. Maybe there’s an end in sight. If not for Gene’s follow-up email two days later titled So Close and Yet So Far, I would never have written this blog post. In it, after much of the same begging, he retracts his promise: “I won’t say I’ll be completely past this financial nightmare once we’re settled in our new home. I may still need a little help from time to time. But I’m working real hard to boost cash flow to keep this from ever happening again.”

Oh. I see. The begging goes on. The crisis morphs again. Another ten years goes by. A sucker is born every minute. But you don’t have to be one of them. In fact, thanks to the work of Tyler Kokjohn, we now have a list of agencies in Gene’s area that may be able to help Gene with all of his misfortunes, provided they are not ageist. Instead of sending Gene your money to help boost his cash flow, consider sending him these links.


The link below takes you to the Maricopa County emergency assistance program web page.  This links to resources for homeless persons, or those at risk of becoming homeless, but if you notice the county also helps with energy bills and other issues.



In the past, to speak these facts out loud was to invoke Gene’s ire in private emails and in the comments section of any blog or forum where he found his poverty questioned. He’s got plenty of time to defend himself even while being evicted. Ultimately, what he says is, “Shut up. It’s none of your business.” Here’s where I disagree. Gene is a person who calls out ufologist frauds on his show. He wants to run the UFO Watchdog Hall of Shame, where he judges the fraudulent from the decent. But who is watching the watchdog? And how can he afford to juggle another unpaid, time-consuming hobby in such dire crisis?

None of it adds up. Be weary of adding to it… which should be the closer for this but as I was about to click the publish button, I heard that friendly phone jingle telling me I’ve got email. And in that email is the latest from Gene, just published, titled, Waiting for a Monday Miracle!

I’m not reading it. I’ve read it before. We all have. You shouldn’t either. Time to let this bird fly on his own.


When the Thaw Comes

When the Thaw Comes

by Guest Blogger,
Erin K. Parker

41loSxeo0YL._SL_300_Six months after life pulled the rug out from under me, I decide to run away from the suburbs of Los Angeles and go back to school in a safer, slower world. Safe is more important than slow, but slow is appealing. I long for my old out of state college in the foothills of the Wasatch Front. I want the red canyons of Color Country. I want mountains covered with quaking aspen and bristlecone pine. I want to throw myself into Lit classes, to write papers about words and stories and their meaning. I want time to move differently than it does in Los Angeles.

I register for classes over the phone, pack a few boxes and give notice at my job. And then with a week until classes start and no place to live, I leave the crisp sunny days of Southern California in January, drive hours through the desert, and arrive in the muddy gray of a winter that’s already gone on too long. I have reserved 3 nights in a motel on Main Street, confident I’ll find a furnished room to rent. A room where I can find my way out of the dark. There is no Plan B. And here it is: a room for rent listed on the first flyer on the first bulletin board I come to at the Student Center on campus. I take the flyer down and drive carefully on icy roads to the address.

I knock on the front door of the house. The woman who answers tells me the room for rent is in a 3 bedroom apartment in their basement, and 2 of the rooms already have tenants. She leads me to the driveway lined with snow drifts, down the dark stairs next to the garage, and knocks on the door. A girl about my age lets us in. Inside it’s a cozy, dim, wood paneled basement and the bedrooms have windows right under the ceiling with dirty snow piled against the glass panes outside. The bedroom for rent is in the back, and when the girl opens the door to show me, nobody says a word. It’s musty and dark and could use some paint, but it’s quiet and furnished and that’s all I want.

“I’ll take it,” I say, turning to the owner and the two girls who live there. My new roommates, Viv and Tina. They exchange a glance and smile at me.

The winter progresses and the snow gets higher until the windows are covered with gray and no light can get through the ice. I live underground like a rabbit. I listen to records and read books and drink hot peppermint tea against the cold. Sometimes I stay up late and write stories in a notebook. I sporadically attend classes. I eat a lot of Top Ramen and hardboiled eggs because they are cheap. I crave salt and warmth. Sometimes my roommates make chocolate chip cookies and invite people from church to come over and play Uno. I realize fairly quickly I may have made a mistake in coming back to this town. Everything has slowed down and has now buried me in this underground room with no light. Paralysis has set in. I am homesick for things I can’t put into words.

One night I have trouble going to sleep and am laying in the dark room looking at shadows on the ceiling. I am wondering how to gather the energy I would need to move back home. The thought of packing my car up and driving home feels impossibly difficult. The thought of staying here also seems impossibly difficult. Then the heavy air in the room becomes heavier and the dark gets darker. Over by the closet there’s a ripple in the shadows, and maybe it’s from the tree branches outside through the ice on the windows, but maybe it’s not. I sit up in bed, straining to see into the corner across the room. I realize I am not alone, and go cold.

A girl’s face flashes lightning-quick into my mind, and I see her shaking her head at me, disappointed and a little amused. In an instant, I see myself like she sees me: a girl huddled in bed, drowning in self-pity and circles. I see her face again, like quick frames from a film. She’s shaking her head, a mocking half-smile on her lips. She’s chiding me. She can’t believe the despair I have allowed myself to fall into.

“You have everything,” she says to me, her words flashing in my mind. She’s not sympathetic, or wise, or all knowing. She’s annoyed. This is something you might say to a friend who needs to be told the hard truth. A friend who has taken things too far for too long, and could benefit from a reminder to get up and start living. I have a strong impression of a finger wagging. Enough, she scolds. Enough.

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself,” she says. “You’re alive, so you have everything.”

She’s in front of the closet door facing me, laughing a little, shaking her head, mouth pursed in amusement. I strain to see her in the dark. I feel her looking at me. She’s right there. Is someone there? Curiosity wins out over fear. For a moment I am comfortable, content even, accepting that I may have gently slid sideways and lost my grip on reality. I am surprised that it’s so easy. I reach for the lamp on my nightstand, and before I can switch it on, she’s gone. She’s just gone. I’m still in the dark, but very much alone.

I wrap the covers tight around me and lie back down, holding this flash of a girl in my mind. The impression of her words, her knowing look, her message that is starting to make sense. Or maybe I am losing it. Have already lost it. I think I am kind of okay with that as I drift off to sleep.

The next morning I wake up feeling better than I have in weeks. The snow is almost gone now and I can see light out the windows. Spring must be close. I am lighter and happier than I have been in a long time. Maybe I am crazy, but crazy feels pretty good.

In the afternoon, my roommates and I are in the living room doing homework with the radio on. I’m drinking hot tea. Perhaps we will make cookies later.

“You’re in a good mood today,” says Tina.

“The weirdest thing happened,” I say. “Last night I couldn’t sleep. Then, you know how you can feel that someone is in the room with you? Well, that’s what I felt. Like someone was in my room. I got this image in my head of this girl. She was in my room over by the closet. She was kind of making fun of me for being so depressed.”

They look at each other quickly.

“What,” I say. “You think I’m crazy. I know it sounds weird.”

“No it doesn’t,” Viv says.

“It was like this girl was telling me to stop feeling sorry for myself,” I continue slowly, “that I have no excuse to feel depressed. She said I was alive, so I had everything, that I was lucky. I mean, that makes sense, right?”

They look at each other again, and Tina says to Viv, “Should we tell her?”

My heart starts pounding and I’m filled with apprehension. “Tell me what.”

“Didn’t you ever wonder,” Viv says slowly, “why your room was available when you moved here to start school in the middle of the year? Nobody has lived in that room for a long time. Nobody wanted to.”

“I just thought I got lucky when I found the ad that the room was available,” I say. “But you’re right, it is kind of odd.”

“There was a girl that lived in your room about a year and a half ago,” Viv says, her eyes filling. “She died. She had left to go to her hometown, but never made it. She disappeared. She was missing for a couple of weeks. Then they found her body. She was murdered. It was an awful time, such a nightmare.” She stops and looks at me, wiping her eyes. “This is hard to talk about. You would have liked her.”

Viv is crying now, remembering, telling me how the girl’s dad and brothers showed up. How she helped them pack up boxes, clean the bedroom and load their car up with her things. How she had always kept the door to the bedroom closed, and sometimes she would hear sounds in the room like someone was opening the desk drawer. Sometimes she would find the light on in the closet even though no one had been in there. The older couple who owned the house didn’t try to rent the basement bedroom out for over a year. They’d put the notice up at the Student Center the week before I got into town and came by. There had been no interest until I showed up.

Tina jumps in. “I didn’t live here last year,” she says, “so I didn’t know her. But I knew the story, and poor Viv was trying to deal with everything that happened. Nobody else wanted to live here. So when you showed up to look at the room, we decided not to tell you. You looked so nice we didn’t want to scare you away. I’m sorry.”

Viv wipes her eyes and says with a sad smile, “I hope you don’t want to move out now.”

I am letting it all sink in. Now there is this girl who has died a horrible death. This girl who was my age, who had slept in the same room, under the same iced windows, and in the same bed. This girl who had lost her life, who saw me wasting mine by feeling sorry for myself. This girl who reminded me I had everything, and my whole life was in front of me. Who knows when it will all be over? None of us know. She hadn’t known.

She told me to wake up, to grab life, to make it what I wanted and stop wasting time. Because even the bad times mean you’re alive. And when you’re alive, you do have everything. She was telling me to get up, seize it and hold on tight. Because it is valuable and rich and far, far too short. She told me to start living.

And so I did.




When the Thaw Comes is a true story.  It appears in The Secret and the Sacred, Erin’s collection of short stories, and in an anthology, In Case We Die.  Both are available on Amazon.  Erin works as a commercial designer, and lives in Long Beach, California with her boyfriend and their magnificent cat.

Visit her online at