Macabre Media: Dance in the Graveyards plus Daniel Radcliff in Horns


Tonight’s post comes to you courtesy of my daughter, Pooka. Last night she sent me a link to this amazing video. This could be my theme song (even OUR theme song.) It just makes me happy. I had to share it with you all ASAP (though it would have been entirely appropriate to save it for The Day of the Dead.)


Horns, the movie adaption of Joe Hill’s book, starring Daniel Radcliff, is coming to the big screen on October 31st, 2014. Here’s the trailer:

I’ll send a heads-up out on FB & Twitter & G+ when we get a little closer to the release date.

Gorgeous Graveyards: The Old Burying Ground, Beaufort, NC

In June, my son and I went to North Carolina to see my daughter and her beau. It was our first vacation in many years and we had a wonderful time. We toured several attractions in the beautiful state, but my favorite stop, by far, was The Old Burying Ground, in Beaufort, NC.

We came across the cemetery by accident, and when we found it, we had only about twenty minutes to explore before the property would be closed for the night. I knew I’d want to share as many pictures as possible here at the blog, so I hurried through the gates, a madwoman on a mission.

Old Burying Ground, NC gate

Just a couple of yards into the graveyard, though, I had to slow down and breathe. The peaceful, timeless atmosphere under the ancient oak and magnolia trees would not allow me to feel rushed. As I stood in the cool dappled shade, taking in the historic beauty of the place, all the tension in me melted.

Below, you’ll find more information about The Old Burying Ground and some of the graves I saw in the cemetery, but before we get to that, I invite you get a sense of what it felt like to actually wander through this sacred place by watching this video:

(For best picture, click on “watch on YouTube”, then full-screen.)

Have you ever seen such a gorgeous graveyard? I wish I could have done it justice, but I hope I captured the feel – at least a little – for you.

On to the details.


Address: 400 Block of Ann Street, Beaufort NC, 28516

Established 1709

The Old Burying Ground originally came into use in the area surrounding a building used for sessions of the Court and for reading the service of the Angelican Church in St. John’s Parish. The earliest graves were marked by shells, brick, or wooden planks. Large swaths of the cemetery appear to be sparsely occupied, but an archaeological survey in 1992 confirmed there are many burials in such open areas.

In 1731, the cemetery which had come into existence around a courthouse-cum-church was deeded to the town of Beaufort.

Currently, the entrance of the cemetery is flanked by two churches: a red brick First Baptist and a white clapboard United Methodist. The graves lie nestled between the two buildings until the property opens up a bit at the back. This makes it look and feel like a real churchyard, as you will see in some of the photographs that show the gravestones snugged right up next to the churches.

Beaufort itself is one of the oldest towns in North Carolina. In the early 1700s, when the notorious pirate Blackbeard was going about his business along the coast, it was known as Fish Town. In 1722 it became an official seaport. During the Revolutionary War, it was the third largest port in the state, according to the Beaufort NC homepage.

In 1997, the wreckage of what is presumed to be Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, was discovered two miles from Beaufort Inlet, approximately 20 feet below the surface of the water.

This town has seen a lot of living, and a lot of dying.

Old Burying Ground, NC  sign

Captain Otway Burns (1775 – 1850)

In the War of 1812, Captain Burns was considered a great naval hero. He received “Letters of Marque and Reprisal” from the United States, which allowed him to plunder British ships. (The letters made him a sort of  legal pirate, otherwise know as a privateer.)

His monument features a cannon removed from his ship, Snapdragon.

Old Burying Ground, NC cannon grave

Nancy Manney French (1821 – 1886)

In the video, I mark this grave with the caption: “A sad love story.” Here’s the tale, drawn from the guide pamphlet that was available just inside the gates of the graveyard:

Nancy fell in love with her tutor, a man named Charles French. Nancy’s father disapproved of the relationship. Charles left Beaufort with the intent of finding his fortune and earning the right to ask for Nancy’s hand in marriage. In the ensuing years, both Nancy and Charles tried to maintain their romance through letter writing, but the postmaster in town – who was a friend of Nancy’s father – intercepted all the letters. Years later, upon his deathbed and stricken by guilt, the postmaster confessed what he’d done to Nancy. Later still, Charles returned to Beaufort. He was an old man, but he’d never been able to forget his love. He found that Nancy was dying of consumption. The two married anyway. Nancy died just a few weeks later.

Manney grave

The Rum Keg Girl (1700s)

An English family had settled in Fish Town, but a daughter, who had been only an infant upon arriving in the colonies, wanted to see her homeland. The girl’s mother did not want the child to travel, but the father convinced her it would be all right, and promised to bring her home no matter what. The girl reportedly enjoyed her visit to England but she died on the return trip. Traditionally, she would have been buried at sea, but the father chose instead to purchase a barrel of rum from the captain, so that her body would be preserved and she could be buried in the town graveyard.

As you can see, visitors to the burial ground have been touched by the story. Of all the graves in the cemetery, this was the only one displaying grave goods on the day I was there.

Some light research into the possibility that this cemetery is haunted revealed that some guests have reported seeing a young girl playing among the stones, then disappearing suddenly. Sometimes, some of the trinkets from her grave are found in other parts of the cemetery when the gates are opened for the day.


 Vienna Dill (1863 – 1865)

This very young child died of yellow fever and was buried in a glass-topped casket. Later, curiosity reportedly led vandals to dig up the grave to see the corpse. According to legend, the girl’s body appeared intact and life-like. The vandals supposedly then opened the coffin, only to have the body disintegrate.



One thing I wanted to draw your attention to is the massive vines that stretch over the area above her monument. If you look very closely, you can see how the thick vines are wound around what looks like a fallen tree trunk.

The graves and the headstones were fascinating and touching, but they are not the only reason this graveyard is so beautiful. Many of the trees, vines, flowers and ferns are breathtaking to a Minnesotan like me.

Resurrection Fern

I was particularly taken by the Resurrection Fern that grew on many of the nearly horizontal branches of the oaks. Apparently this plant causes no harm to its hosts. I’ve read that very dry conditions will cause the ferns to dry up and appear dead, but that providing water will revive them nearly instantly.

I’ve probably rhapsodized enough about this distant-in-time-and-space place that somehow felt like home to me. I’ll leave you will a sincere wish that you find such a place yourself.

PS: I thought it might be a good idea to give you an extra resource, which I found useful when I was looking at these photographs.

Click the following link to see a guide to some of the grave markers you’re likely to see in southern graveyards. Regionality matters. In Minnesota, for example,  I’ve never seen a “table tomb” like the one pictured below.

PreserveALA’s guide to grave markers.

Old Burying Ground, NC vista 6




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Macabre & Mysterious Music: Madeline’s Lament by Nox Arcana

Music for a lovely stroll through a graveyard in the Bronx … or anywhere else, I suppose.

Nox Arcana

NOTE: Because I’m a stickler for respecting copyright, anything posted here at the blog will be carefully vetted – I’ll only embed videos and sound clips posted to YouTube by the artist for sharing, or those being offered by the original artist from the artist’s home page. If you know of a cool, creepy, macabre or mysterious song, drop me a comment. I’m always looking for good stuff.

Friday Night Picture Show: 1894 Hinckley, MN Firestorm

This is the first entry in my new blog feature, the Friday Night Picture Show.

In the future, I expect to post a photograph or photo set most of the time, but it seemed right to start things off with something weightier, to anchor the feature.


blogher Blogroll_Large_Oct_2013


Friday Night Picture Show


Halloween Decor: easy, inexpensive haunts to make for the house and yard (plus some wow-projects.)


halloween countfdown 5 updated

For many of us, October 1st is the official start of the Halloween season. (At least the part of the season that happens outside the broom closet.) Before I post the next countdown article, that magical date will have arrived. This, then, is the week for pulling out all the dusty boxes of decorations, shopping the seasonal aisle of discount stores, locating the nearest specialty shop, and making a new project or two to flesh out the theme of this year’s display.

NOTE: All photographs and images below are used for the sole purpose of referring readers to the original website that offers the pictured content, At posting, all links are current and active. If a link fails to direct properly, it is due to a change by the site-holder which is out of my control.


These just caught my eye as I prowled. They range from insanely cheap and easy to more elaborate but still doable. Click project name for instructions.


This year, I found some great videos. I’ve shared a variety below — from “wow, that’s a crazy and potentially dangerous project” to “yeah, I could do that.” I’ll let you categorize them for your self.

Yard Ghosts from Tomato Cages

Frankenstein’s Lab Light Bulbs

Bloody Sheet with Masks (cool adaptable technique)

Body Bags (This is a 20 min. video, folks.)

Boarded-Up Windows (easy and cheap)

I might add more links to this section as I continue to wander. Anyone know of a good link? Leave a comment below 🙂


The following link takes you a page showing 31 consecutive days crafty posts, by Priscilla, from Halloween 2012. (In reverse order.)

Go read her journey through the season – she’s charming and it doesn’t take long. Oh, and there’s some great classic projects.

31 Days of Halloween at Thrifty Crafty Girl

For some reason, The Boy will not agree to be my model for

the awesome mummy project Priscilla has up on Oct 25th.

decor mummy tape


At Frugal Frights and Delights, Debbie shares her experiences related to constructing a fantastic front-yard haunt, peopled by some of my favorite characters. She uses material that we can all easily lay hands on and gives down-to-earth instructions.

Here’s what caught my eye:

decor ring girl with patch

The Ring Girl Samara Tutorial


The Well from the Movie The Ring, version 1 (heavy) AND new version 2 (light)

Recently, Debbie has expanded her amazing collection of characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas with new The Mayor:


click the pic to go to tutorial

decor sally complete


In 2013, she created Sally in FOUR detailed posts.

Photo courtesy of Marciniak Photography.

Photo courtesy of Marciniak Photography.

I admit, that’s pretty elaborate stuff. Here’s something quick & easy from Debbie’s place:

decor see no evil

See No Evil Jack O Lantern stack


This site is a treasure trove of brilliant how-tos by a professional prop master. Despite his credentials, he uses everyday objects and imagination, rather than expensive specialty items and power tools, to craft most of the projects he shares. (I find his blog to be generally entertaining too.)

Here’s what caught my eye:

Bloody, Dripping, Head Sack How-To

And here are some more of my favorite projects – but this is only a sampling.

Make a Moving Monster Eye – this is so cool that I called The Boy from the other room to come see. You’ve gotta read the article to really get it.

Morphing Ghost Picture with LCD Photo Frame – I have a fantastic old photograph of my grandmother as a young girl, flanked by her two brothers who are showing off their guns. (Perhaps you’ve seen a potion of the picture in my randomly displayed header images.) I also have a husband who is a Photoshop wiz.

I’ll post a little video of our results when we’ve finished.


I’ll admit it – forums confuse and overwhelm me. Which is a shame, because I think Halloween Forum is a gold mine of serious cool. For you – despite my trepidation – I girded myself and explored a bit. I’ve returned from the forum wilds with these projects. They are well beyond my available time, energy and skill, but – OMG – they are fun to look at.

decor grim reaper

It seems Terra, from the forum, has a collection of video tutorials on this dedicated YouTube channel:

Scary Lady Videos

new This is the easiest, most appealing project I found among Terra’s treasures:

Black Light Ghillie Suit – Halloween Scare


NOTE: If you’re going to have a Halloween party, you should set the date now.


2014’s Countdown-to-Halloween Ideas & Checklist

Join The Paranormalist’s 1st Annual Halloween Photo Scavenger Hunt from here

Print your 6-week planning calendar from here



halloween countdown main fridays

Graveyards, churchyards and cemeteries: spending an afternoon with the dead.

 For me, time spent in a cemetery is peaceful and conducive to introspection at any time of the year. My favorite season to visit a graveyard, though, is autumn.

In the northern hemisphere, at some point in September or October, a well-treed cemetery will become one of the loveliest possible places to view the colors of fall’s changing leaves. The park-like nature of the grounds make it likely that these brilliant reds and golds will be displayed above, against an azure sky, and underfoot, against an emerald lawn. A graveyard in the fall tends to be a quiet place, with few other people around to intrude on one’s thoughts. As a bonus, autumn’s cooler temperatures reduce the number of mosquitoes that often seem to love old, shaded cemeteries as much as I do.

Besides all that, the season of All Hallows Eve, Samhain, and Dia de los Muertos just feels like an entirely appropriate time to spend an afternoon with the dead.


In another of my Halloween articles, I provide a printable checklist of things to do in the weeks leading up to October 31st. One of my favorite suggestions in the booklet is to adopt a grave and tend it through the season.

This is something I’ve been doing casually for a long time, but when I decided to elaborate on the activity for this Halloween-themed post, I set out for the graveyard so I could get some photographs. At the time, I was just thinking about gently sweeping away debris and leaving a flower.


As usual, there were all sorts of touching and appealing candidates for grave adoption, but the moment I saw this little stone I was caught by the heart. It sits at the foot of a larger marker which is engraved with Frances’ full name, life dates, and a dedication from her husband. She was 31 when she was buried in 1904.

Based only on the foot stone, I assume she and her little one died in childbirth.


The grave(s) lie in what is now a graveyard, but was once a churchyard.

Until recently, I didn’t know there was a difference, but there is – even if the distinctions are subtle:

  • churchyard: the yard or ground adjoining a church, often used as a graveyard
  • graveyard: a burial ground, often associated with smaller rural churches, as distinct from a larger urban or public cemetery
  • cemetery: an area set apart for or containing graves, tombs, or funeral urns, especially one that is not a churchyard
  • In modern usage, the words cemetery and graveyard are interchangeable.

In this case, the resting place of Frances and Little One was once the site of the first church built in White Bear Lake, Minnesota – St. John In the Wilderness Episcopal.  (So named because it was located thirteen miles north of St. Paul, the state capital. According to church records, the first interment was in 1861. At that time, the area really was wilderness.)

Though this burial ground was once a churchyard, it became a graveyard in 1874, when the church building itself (see below) was picked up and transported over the ice of White Bear Lake, so it would be more conveniently located for parishioners. A graveyard that continued to serve the church was left behind. (No churchyard exists at the site where the church was moved to.)

red church

The graveyard of St. John in the Wilderness is only 152 years old… which is nothing compared to those that can be found on the East Coast … which is nothing compared to the churchyards of Europe.


In the introduction to his fascinating book, At Home: A Short History of Private Life, Bill Bryson relates the following conversation (which I have abridged):

    “Have you ever noticed,” Brian asked as we stepped into the churchyard, “how country churches nearly always seem to be sinking into the ground?”

I allowed … that I had no idea.

“Well it isn’t because the church is sinking.” … “It’s because the churchyard has risen. How many people do you suppose are buried here?”

I glanced appraisingly at the gravestones and said, “I don’t know. Eighty? A hundred?”

“I think that’s probably a bit of an underestimate,” Brian replied with an air of kindly equanimity. “Think about it. A country parish like this has an average of 250 people in it, which translates into roughly a thousand adult deaths per century, plus a few thousand more poor souls that didn’t make it to maturity. Multiply that by the number of centuries that the church has been there and you can see that what you have here in not eighty or a hundred burials, but probably something more on the order of, say, twenty-thousand.”

In the book, Brian Ayers – retired county archaeologist of Norfolk, in the East of England – goes on to explain how centuries of burials causes the land to rise over time. I encourage you to read it – it’s full of fabulous stuff like that. (Of course. It is, after all, by Bill Bryson.)


Here in in the state of Minnesota, I haven’t yet found a churchyard that matches the image that Bryson creates in my head. A bit of web searching, however, turned up this photograph from Old Pine Churchyard in Pennsylvania.

Old Pine Street Church yard

By John W. Schulze
shared via Creative Commons

In the summer of 2014, I did get the opportunity to visit an American churchyard, in Beaufort, North Carolina. It was beautiful and I made a video tour to share with you.

For more information about the cemetery, visit

Gorgeous Graveyards: The Old Burying Ground, Beaufort, NC


The Minnesota churchyard / graveyard of Frances and Little One is not nearly so crowded. There is space between each monument, and I can believe that most of the 621 recorded burials there are accurately represented by tombstones.

Which is a good thing.

You see, while I was getting this post ready today, I ended up finding a new hobby, and a new reason to spend time in cemeteries.

find a grave banner

When you go to this site, a world of interesting graveyard-related information and activities opens up.  At Find A Grave, you can:

  • ” Find the graves of ancestors, create virtual memorials, add ‘virtual flowers’ and a note to a loved one’s grave, etc.”
  • Search for the graves of famous people by name or location (check your state for possible pilgrimage destinations)
  • See photographs of interesting and unusual memorials
  • Read interesting epitaphs


As I explored Find A Grave, curiosity made me enter my dad’s name into the search box. I discovered that a distant cousin on my mother’s side has located and virtually adopted my dad’s grave. (My father died when I was 9, and is buried hundreds of miles away from me. I am not in contact with anyone from his side of the family. Until today I wouldn’t have known how to even find the site.) My cousin also started a online memorial which I can now add to. This discovery brought tears to my eyes.

I sent a note of thanks to my cousin, and left virtual flowers on Dad’s memorial page.


Then I really dug into the site.

If you go through a quick, free registration, you can also:

  • Add burial information
  • Volunteer to fulfill requests for photographs of grave sites
  • (once you are registered you click “Contributor Tools” then look for options in Photo Volunteer)


In the space of one day, I was able to:

  • register at Find A Grave
  • find and claim a request for a grave site photo that I thought I could fulfill within 14 days
  • locate the grave, photograph it & leave flowers (This grave was not at St. John in the Wilderness, but it was still an easy drive.)
  • return home and click “fulfill the request”
  • see the deceased’s existing online memorial (Which I could have done before I left to find his grave, but I didn’t know that.)
  • read some posted information about him (He died in 1902 and was the oldest man in White Bear Lake at his death.)
  • upload 3 photos to fulfill the request (with my notes about the grave site)
  • leave virtual flowers for him
  • AND receive a gracious thank you note from the person who placed the request

Update: The requestor of the grave photo has given me permission to share the link to Joseph Marcotte’s memorial to show how Find A Grave works.

If you click on any of the pictures credited to Renae Rude, you can see what notes I added. In this case, I was lucky – the tombstone was almost completely illegible, so I fulfilled the request with what I THOUGHT was likely Joseph’s grave. Because she had seen it years ago, she was able to confirm we’d found the right one.


I don’t suppose locating and photographing lost graves will always be that easy and fast, but it was a perfect introduction to my new reason to spend inordinate amounts of time prowling graveyards.


Of course I checked Find A Grave for additional information about Frances and Little One. There isn’t much. Someone uploaded a photograph of the main stone and transcribed the inscription. Whoever did it doesn’t appear to be a family member, but rather a person who was cataloging the whole graveyard. I added my photo of the small foot stone to the listing.

I googled Frances’ name, to see if I could find an obituary, but nothing popped up. My next stop will have to be the microfiche at the local historical society. I’d like to find more information about her, so that I can add it to her online grave site listing.



There is a wealth of information available at The Association for Gravestone Studies.  I encourage you to explore the site thoroughly when you have time.

If you’re feeling inspired to get up and out the door NOW, I’ve cherry-picked some important and/or fun info for you:

1) It is NOT okay to do gravestone rubbing willie-nillie.  If this is something you’d like to try, start by reading the guidelines here:

2) The symbols carved on tombstones, and the design of the headstones themselves, often have cultural meaning. (Though we can never be CERTAIN of why any survivor wanted a grave to appear a certain way.) For printable (PDF) guides to some common symbolism, click on either or both of the following links, which are provided by The Association for Graveyard Studies.

BONUS: My favorite graveyard song. (I also think of it as sort of my theme song.)



The ghost from room 107.

I think we may have a ghost at the hotel. (Possibly more than one, but the story of room 217 is for another post.) If we do, it is a non-confrontational spirit – one that just flickers at the edge of my awareness, late at night. There have been no full-bodied apparitions, no objects mysteriously moved. Sometimes, though, when I am bent over paperwork, I peripherally see a dark shape walk past the corner of the desk, toward the main entrance. Sometimes, when I am washing my hands in the employee restroom, I get the feeling that someone is in the laundry room beyond the bathroom door – perhaps near the triple sink across the room, perhaps around the corner of the washing machine, near the fridge. My sense is that the presence is male, and my logic tells me that he would likely be the revenant of a suicide that happened, before my time, in room 107.

When I first started working at the hotel, my coworkers were eager to share stories of all the scary things that had happened there during their employment. I was told of medical emergencies, drug overdoses and domestic disputes. (One involving a gun.) Don’t get me wrong. I work at a nice, mid-range, chain hotel, in a fourth-ring suburb. Most of the guests are business people in town for a meeting, or families on their way to vacation destinations up north. Some people, however, go to hotels for much darker reasons, and one of those reasons is to die quietly, leaving no muss for loved ones at home to discover. I would be surprised to find a hotel (more than a couple of years old) that had never sheltered a successful suicide.

My understanding of the story of ‘our’ suicide is incomplete. Different employees seem to have different versions in their heads, and none of them seems able or willing to come out and tell everything that happened. (My suspicion is that the clerk on duty that night no longer works at the hotel.) I’ve heard there was a lot of blood for the housekeepers to deal with, but I’ve also heard that it was a simple overdose. I believe the victim was male, but I have no idea how old he was, or if he acted differently from any other guest checking into the hotel. The one thing everyone agrees on is that it happened in room 107.

If the door to room 107 were just one or two strides nearer, it would be visible from the front desk. That thought bothers me. Had he lost his nerve, it would have only taken a few steps, or a loud shout, to summon help.

At the first opportunity, of course, I visited the room. It was late. The hotel was near-empty. I carried the house phone with me so I could answer any calls, but I didn’t expect it to ring. Because it is a smoking room, I also took my cigarettes and an ashtray along. It’s an ordinary room. There is one queen bed wearing a shiny floral bedspread, flanked by two nightstands. At the bed’s foot, a sturdy dresser holds a lamp and a small television. In the corner, near the window, there is a round table. Pulled up near the table is an armchair, upholstered in tan vinyl.

The vinyl was clammy when I sat down. I kicked off my shoes, brought my legs up under myself, and lit a cigarette. No pictures adorned the walls. The red digits of the alarm clock blinked 12:00. A small black beetle crawled across the snowy-white pillow on the left half of the bed. Other than that, nothing moved. Nothing happened. Except, well, except that I became progressively sadder as I smoked and waited and watched.  When my cigarette burned down to the filter, I stubbed it out and stood. The carpet felt damp to my feet, so I hurried to slip back into my sandals. I didn’t switch off the lights until I could do it from the safety of the bright hallway.

I’m not convinced that what I felt in room 107 was in any way paranormal. Being alone in such an inexpensive, nondescript hotel room is simply depressing. On top of that, this particular room has a distinct and special air of abandonment, because the other clerks avoid renting it out until they have to. (Though one told me she deliberately gives it to guests who irritate her when they come in.) I think the housekeeping staff hurries to clean it and get out when it has been rented. The bedspread is often askew and they frequently forget to stock it properly.

It wasn’t until after my visit to room 107 that I began to notice the sense of a presence in the laundry room, and the shadow that seemed to move past the desk. The paranormal investigator in me jumps to the obvious conclusion – that a lonely, unhappy spirit latched onto a naive hotel clerk, freeing itself to roam beyond its former prison – but I don’t really believe that. I realize that the human imagination is vulnerable to the kind of atmosphere that exists in a sprawling hotel in the middle of the night. I realize that I’m sleep-deprived much of the time, and that it’s not surprising that I occasionally think I see something move from the corner of my eye.

Here’s where things get tricky for me. It is in my nature to make up the details for sketchy but intriguing stories I come across. In this case, I’ve put all the pieces together and come to this:

The hotel where I work is haunted by the ghost of a young male suicide. He cut his wrists or took an overdose of tranquilizers. Either way, he did it in the bathtub, with the warm water running. Toward the very end of his life, he changed his mind. He called out. Because he was close to the front desk, he should have been heard, but the clerk on duty was doing laundry (or in the bathroom) and didn’t hear a thing. The young man wished he could take it back, just leave the hotel and start over. Then he died. He was found because the water eventually overflowed and soaked the carpet, of course. (Which is why it feels damp now, even when it really isn’t.) Some nights, his spirit goes looking for the clerk who didn’t hear him. (Which is why I sense him in the laundry room.) Some nights he imagines himself leaving the hotel before it’s too late. (Which is why I see him heading toward the main entrance, but never getting there.)

See how tidy it all becomes? This is how ghost stories are made. Now that I can see the progression so clearly, I should come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a real haunting, don’t you think? But I don’t. Instead I wonder exactly what I have experienced. More accurately, I second guess my experiences. In an effort to sort things out, sometimes I write about what I think I experience, which – given time – solidifies the story I’ve crafted even more.

Am I talking myself into – or out of – believing in paranormal phenomena?

WriMoProg: 0 + 21 = 21/42