Amityville
ghosts, The Unexplained

Revisiting Amityville 45 years later…

Happy Halloween! This month’s blog post is coming a little earlier in order to celebrate this unholy holiday.

Last year I read Jay Anson’s Amityville Horror: A True Story around Halloween. I listened to the audiobook during my commute, because I thought it would be the perfect story to get me in the holiday season.  At the time, I wasn’t crazy about it. I thought the writing was a little stilted, and the plot was far too outlandish to be within the realm of possibility.  However, I’d had no idea of the context in which this book was published. I’d had no idea that this book was originally marketed as a literally “true” story…

There has been intense debate over the last 30 years as to whether or not the Amityville horror is a hoax or the most prolific and notorious haunting that the world has ever seen.  Most of the information I have about the case comes from a riveting documentary called “The Real Amityville Horror”. It’s a 2005 documentary by Nobles Gate Production.  They interview many of the people involved, which adds an authentic personal touch.  I highly recommend watching it.  It’s spooky and informative and not a bad way to spend a cool autumn evening.

Amityville

Continue reading “Revisiting Amityville 45 years later…”

Advertisements
Ambrose Bierce
Conspiracies, The Unexplained, writer

Ambrose Bierce and the Crystal Skull

Ambrose Bierce
Ambrose Bierce with a not-crystal skull

Ambrose Bierce was an American short story writer and journalist at the turn of the century. According to Times Magazine, he’s most famous for his short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”.  His book “The Devil’s Dictionary” was dubbed one of the “100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature”.  He was said to have had a “morbid fascination with horror and death”. (Who here can relate?) (Time Magazine). A civil war veteran, Ambrose Bierce accomplished a lot in his 71 + years of life.  But it’s his disappearance and presumed death that has had everyone speculating and theorizing over the last hundred years.

Continue reading “Ambrose Bierce and the Crystal Skull”

Shelf of old books
Curses, The Unexplained

Kiss Me, I’m Irish: The Good (and Bad) Luck of the Blarney Stone

Everyone knows that kissing the Blarney Stone gives you good luck. But where does all that good luck come from?  Did you know that there’s a lesser known legend surrounding the Blarney stone… and its curse? Could the “good luck” associated with kissing the Blarney stone be leached from the victims of this curse?

Continue reading “Kiss Me, I’m Irish: The Good (and Bad) Luck of the Blarney Stone”

Picture of books on Voynich
Conspiracies, Mysterious Books, The Unexplained

The Voynich Manuscript: Decrypting a Mystery

The Voynich Manuscript is one of history’s greatest mysteries.  Written in Central Europe in the 15th or early 16th century, this 240-page document is inscribed in a language or code that has not yet been deciphered, despite decades of cryptologists, historians, and mathematicians attempting to interpret it. Even the famous cryptographers from the Bletchley Park, who decoded the Nazi’s Enigma codes in WWII, have taken a crack at it, but all to no avail.Picture of books on voynich

Take a look at the Voynich Manuscript and see the strange language for yourself.

Named after Wilfrid Voynich, the Polish book dealer who purchased this manuscript back in 1912, this document is unusual in a number of ways.  First off, it appears to be a magical or scientific text, with many vivid images of herbs and plants that to this date have not all been identified.  It includes astronomical and astrological drawings, and lists of what appears to be recipes.  It even includes images of what might be alchemical processes; however, the images are original and odd and do not correlate to the scientific processes of the time this manuscript would have been created.

Continue reading “The Voynich Manuscript: Decrypting a Mystery”

Image of a train
The Unexplained, writer

The Case of the Missing Mystery Author: How Agatha Christie Disappeared for 11 Days

Image of Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie 1890-1976

Everyone has heard of Agatha Christie.  She wrote during the golden age of detective fiction, and she’s been crowned as the Queen of the Cozy Mystery.  She’s written at least 74 books, including “Murder on the Orient Express”, “And then there were none”, and “Death on the Nile”.  But there’s one mystery that she didn’t write.  Instead, she lived it.  

On December 3, 1926, Agatha Christie went into her seven-year-old daughter Rosalind’s bedroom in their home in Berkshire, England, and she kissed her on the cheek goodnight.  Then, she got into her car and drove away.  She wouldn’t be discovered for another ten days.  Not only did she go missing for ten days, but when she was found, she claimed to have absolutely no memory of where she’d been or what she’d done.  

Continue reading “The Case of the Missing Mystery Author: How Agatha Christie Disappeared for 11 Days”

Image of a Ouija Board
ghosts, The Unexplained

A Genuine “Ghost” Writer

In 1912, a St. Louis, Missouri housewife named Pearl Lenore Curran had a good friend and writer named Emily Grant Hutchings over for a visit. Emily brought a Ouija board with her, because she was interested in the resurgence in “spiritualism” that had taken over America at this time (Carroll, 2015). They experimented with the Ouija board, but it wasn’t until almost a year later that Pearl received her first message from the beyond.

Image of a ouija board
“tonight she talks, tonight she watches” by Emily Mucha CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Pearl began to channel the writings of “Patience Worth”, a British woman from the seventeenth century. Pearl would sit at the Ouija board, her hands whipping the planchard back and forth as her husband, John, transcribed the many poems, short stories, and novels of this seventeenth century author. Patience could also take over Pearl’s mouth, engaging the many scholars who came to observe this miraculous feat in delightful conversation. She also took over her hands, as Pearl later wrote by hand with what is considered “automatic writing”. Pearl/Patience would come up with poems at the drop of a hat, given only a prompt from a skeptical onlooker. Many scholars at the time praised her work, and they didn’t know what to believe (Diliberto, 2010). Was she writing these fully composed works of fiction off the top of her head? Or was she truly channelling the spirit of a seventeenth century writer? Otto Heller, Dean of Washington University’s Graduate School said: “I still confess myself completely baffled by the experience” (Diliberto, 2010). Many books have been written about her, and some, like Edgar Lee Masters, believed wholeheartedly that she was a true medium, while others, like Harry Houdini, believed her to be a fraud (Schlueter, 2012). Continue reading “A Genuine “Ghost” Writer”

The blob movie scenes
The Unexplained

My Blob Post

With Halloween just around the corner, I’ve decided to deviate from my typical library and book-related theme. Much to my delight, horror movies have been playing on some TV channels around the clock. I’ve been reading The Amityville Horror, a book which inspired a classic movie and a whole slew of lame sequels. The book, however, just so happens to be based on a true story. A lot of horror movies are based on true stories: The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, The Girl Next Door, The Conjuring… But there’s one movie that’s based on a true story that you wouldn’t expect. This is a real head scratcher. The film is the 1958 B-movie, “The Blob”.

Image of "The Blob" movie poster
“The Blob” by BigdogLHR CC BY 2.0

For those of you who have never seen it, the movie is about a a strange “blob” that falls out of outer space, but it doesn’t just sit there. It oozes around, consuming people, and, of course, getting bigger. The movie stars Steve McQueen in his first leading role. This isn’t a review of the movie, so I’ll just link to this trailer for “The Blob”, and you can watch it for yourself if you’re interested, before I tell you the “true” story.

Now, how can a movie about a killer “blob” be based on a true story? Let me tell you…

Continue reading “My Blob Post”