Paranormal Deck of Cards – Eight of Mysteries
The Sailing Stones of Death Valley
When I was formulating the idea for this PDOC series, I began by creating a list of 52+ potential topics which intrigue me. Then I divided them into four categories: creatures, psychopaths, haunts and mysteries.
I’m still trying to fill out the list of haunts that I want to explore, but I had no trouble immediately coming up with (more than) 13 mysteries. I always knew that the mysteries suit would be my catch-all for things that didn’t fit neatly into any of the other categories. I also knew it was likely to be my favorite suit. I am fascinated by odd occurrences, strange places and perplexing objects.
In my initial brainstorming stage, one of the first things I jotted down was the Sailing Stone of Death Valley. At the time, I did not expect the phenomena would be definitively explained before I could even write about it.
To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about this. I certainly did not plan for this project to be about debunking, dismissing, or solving my beloved mysteries. Like many of you, I enjoy knowing that I can’t know everything. I appreciate being wonder-struck and baffled. But I also like to learn new facts and gain increased understanding of how the world works.
So I guess it’s all good.
If you’re tapped into the same (or similar) sources of information that I am, you may already know that the phenomena of the Death Valley Sailing Stones has been scientifically explained in the current issue of the journal, Plos One. If you are not connected to such sources, however, you may not even know what all the fuss is about.
Let’s start there … with what was known about the stones before a crack team of scientists, armed with the latest technology, figured out was going on.
“Racetrack-Playa-Death-Valley-2” by Daniel Mayer – Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is (was) here
first upload in en wikipedia on 04:23, 28 October 2002 by Maveric149. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
THE HISTORY OF THE SAILING STONES:
In 1915, a prospector named Joseph Crook is reported to have discovered a remote, flat area in Death Valley where stones appeared to have left trails in the desert as they traveled across the barren ground. The mechanism of the stone movement was a mystery.
WHY THIS IS WEIRD:
The area Crook discovered is a playa, which is a dry lake-bed. It is a little less than than three miles long and a little more than a mile wide. The playa is extremely flat, with its southern edge being about one and a half inches lower than the northern. Interestingly, the stones often seem to move up the incline, from south to north. The trails inscribed by the wandering stones “are often tens to hundreds of feet long, about 3 to 12 inches wide, and typically much less than an inch deep.” (Wikipedia) Many of the trails are long and straight, but some curve, zig-zag or double back on themselves. These trails are not etched in dust or sand, but in hard-baked clay. One can walk out to the stones to examine the engraved trails and not leave a mark on the ground. Though no one (until 2013) had observed the active movement of a stone, periodic checks on the locations of individual rocks revealed that the they were moving and leaving new trails.
The stones have been “sailing” – without apparent interference from humans or animals – for at least a century. I’ve listed several notable scientific investigations that have been conducted at the playa below, but one specific study was of particular interest:
HOW FAR DO THEY SAIL?
In a study that began in 1972, the location of thirty stones, (with what appeared to be fresh trails,) were marked. Each stone was given a name. Over the next seven years, changes in the stones’ locations were recorded.
Ten of the stones moved in the first winter. One, named Mary Ann, moved 212 feet. In two of the next six winters, multiple stones moved. By the end of the seven-year study, 28 of the named stones had moved. The smallest stone to move had a diameter of 2.5 inches; the largest was 80 pounds.
One stone – estimated to be over 700 pounds – was named Karen, and it did not move during the monitoring period. It was believed that its original trail, which was 570 feet long and very straight, may have been drawn when it originally tumbled onto the playa.
After the study was complete, however, Karen seemed to disappear from the playa. It was rediscovered in 1996 by a geologist who located it about a half mile from its 1972 position.
Over the years, multiple theories had been advanced to explain this phenomena. Modern, conventional, scientists has always believed that some combination of water, ice and wind were responsible. It is likely that the inaccessibility of the area during winter months prevented the first people who studied the rocks to think along such lines. The earliest scientific theory was that there was a magnetic anomaly in the area, but this was proved to be unlikely when the rocks themselves were revealed to be entirely non-magnetic.
The playa’s relative proximity to Area 51 led some theorists to the conclusion that the phenomena must be connected to alien activity. My absolute favorite theory in this category is detailed in a blog called, Villains & Vaudevillians. I’ve provided the link to the full article below, but here’s a snippet from it:
Are the sailing stones pieces of a spacecraft that met its untimely demise during prehistoric times? Was the object that the crashed in Roswell, New Mexico really an extraterrestrial salvage vehicle sent on another mission to located the long vanished spacecraft, only to succumb to the same fate. Is the wreckage at Area 51 giving off a beacon in the form of a magnetic field to call its lost brother home?
It really is a must-read, if you have a few minutes to spare.
THE MYSTERY OF THE SAILING STONES, SOLVED:
It turns out that the modern scientists were right — this is a phenomena caused by water, ice and wind.
The following set of photographs was published in a paper entitled Sliding Rocks on Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park: First Observation of Rocks in Motion, in the journal PLOS One.
Take a look at the stone indicated by the red arrow and compare its position as it changes – in less than 30 seconds – in relation to the two (non-moving) stones indicated by the blue arrows.
This was not the only movement observed by this team.
Here are a couple of excerpts from the paper which explain quite well how the stones sail:
Observed rock movement occurred on sunny, clear days, following nights of sub-freezing temperatures. Steady light winds and morning sun caused floating ice to break-up near mid day, accompanied by widespread popping sounds from fragmenting ice panels. Ice initially broke into floating panels tens of meters in size that became increasingly fragmented and separated by open rippled water as melting continued. Floating ice sheets driven by wind stress and flowing water, pushed rocks resting on the playa surface, in some cases moving >60 rocks in a single event.
A necessary condition for the rock motion we observed is the existence of a playa pool deep enough to submerge the southern section of the playa, yet shallow enough to leave many rocks partly exposed at the pond surface. Other repeating features of rock movement events that we observed include the presence of floating ice, temperatures and sunlight sufficient to create melt pools in the ice, and light breezes that are steady enough to drive floating ice. Although the ice breaks up around rocks, even thin moving ice sheets can generate sufficient force to drive rocks across the pool. All observed rock movement events occurred near mid-day when sufficient ice melting had occurred to allow ice break-up. Creation of rock trails is difficult to observe because trails form below the ice-covered pool surface where they are often not evident until the ice has melted, and liquid water has been removed. In addition, rock movement is slow and relatively brief—our GPS instrumented stones traveled at speeds of 2–5 m/minute for up to 16 minutes—so casual observation is likely to miss rocks in motion. Weather station data show that the freezing temperatures necessary for ice formation, and winds in excess of 3–5 m/s are common phenomena at Racetrack Playa during the coldest few weeks of winter. Therefore, the extremely episodic occurrence of rock motion (years to decades) is likely due to the infrequency of rain or snow events sufficient to form winter ponds.
Citation: Norris RD, Norris JM, Lorenz RD, Ray J, Jackson B (2014) Sliding Rocks on Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park: First Observation of Rocks in Motion. PLoS ONE 9(8): e105948. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105948 (Please find link to full article below.)
First observed / reported:
2013 – 2014
Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park, California
Coordinates: 36.6813°N 117.5627°W
NOTE: Racetrack Playa is approx. 140 miles from Area 51
Geography (from Wikipedia):
“The playa is in the small Racetrack Valley between the Cottonwood Mountains on the east and Nelson Range to the west. During periods of heavy rain, water washes down from the Racetrack mountain area draining into the playa, forming a shallow, short-lived, closed-system lake. Under the hot desert sun, the thin veneer of water quickly evaporates leaving behind a surface layer of soft slick mud. As the mud dries, it shrinks and cracks into a mosaic pattern of interlocking polygons.”
Climate & meteorology of the area:
Daily summer temperatures can reach 120 °F (49 °C). In the winter, the temperature can plunge to 15 °F (−9.4 °C), though the average winter night temperature is closer to 39 °F (4 °C). Annual precipitation is 3 to 4 inches.
Notable Scientific Investigations:
- 1948: two geologists mapped the area’s bedrock and mentioned the sliding rocks in a report in the Geologic Society of America Bulletin
- 1952: a National Park ranger detailed observations of trail lengths, widths, and courses
- 1955: a geologist published a paper discounting the prevailing theory that winds were strong enough to move the stones, even when the ground was wet
- 1972: a long term project was begun to track the movement of the stones over seven years
- 1995: a research group determined that at least some of the stones were moved in a large, contiguous ice-floe
- 2006: a NASA scientist developed a “table top model” that suggested small ice rafts formed around individual stones and reduced drag so that even light winds could trigger movement
- 2013: actual stone movement was recorded with GPS sensors and time-lapse photography
The Sailing Stones of Death Valley in the Media:
- The World’s Weirdest Places by Nick Redfern (at GoodReads)
- Mysteries of the Unknown: Inside the World of the Strange and Unexplained (at Amazon Books)
Note: That second book is actually scheduled to be released on Sept. 16th, 2014. I wonder what they are going to do about the chapter on the Sailing Stones.
1) Atlas Obscura – THE SAILING STONES OF RACETRACK PLAYA
–Lots of great photographs of the stones and their trails.
2) Jon Sullivan’s commentary from a trip to Death Valley on 08/23/2003
–I have no prior knowledge of Mr. Sullivan, but in my research, I found his first-person account of a visit to the playa interesting.
3) The Mystery of Death Valley’s ‘Sailing’ Stones from The Weather Channel
–31 excellent photographs and some outdated information about two former theories.
4) Sliding Rocks on Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park: First Observation of Rocks in Motion
–The published scientific paper at PLOS One.
5) Weird History: What are the Sailing Stones By CURTISRX
–the source of the re-assembling, pre-historic, spacecraft theory I mention above.
Weird or What? (embedded below.)
The following video is one episode of a series called Weird or What?, which airs on SyFy and is hosted by William Shatner. This episode is currently available for viewing online, courtesy of the YouTube channel, Documentary Hub.
The Sailing Stones are covered in the first segment of this episode, which runs for approximately 15:38 minutes.
(Video availability on the internet comes and goes, so if the above viewer doesn’t work, try searching for “Weird or What sailing stones.” Because this has been internationally broadcast, the season and episode numbers are conflicting, depending on which version of the show turns up in the search engine.)
Note: right now the search engines are flooded with the news that this mystery has been solved. If anyone knows of a documentary made BEFORE the announcement, please leave a comment so I can track it down.
This is an early entry in my PDOC series. I’m working on creating the deck’s homepage. If the image above doesn’t yet link to a new page, it soon will.
Fall 2014 television schedule: TV for lovers of horror, paranormal, dark fantasy, suspense (and retro.)Posted: August 29, 2014
It’s still hot and sultry here in Minnesota, with no hint of autumn weather to lure me outdoors. Last week, I provided a selection of Halloween-themed crafts and hobbies that can be started now, in the dog days of August and September. This week, I’ve scoured the web to find and curate a list of new and returning television shows to watch while crafting or hobby-ing. (Or simply escaping the weather.)
Disclaimers: I like my television paranormal, gothic, fantastic, and/or mysterious. (I don’t watch much in the way of personality-based reality and/or investigative shows like Ghost Hunters or Paranormal State. Documentaries are another story entirely, but I’ll save those for another post.) I also have a taste for juicy historical and retro shows.
Information: I’ve included the premiere dates for new AND returning shows that are likely to appeal to my readers. (But I don’t watch them all.) For returning shows, I’ve researched the availability of past seasons, just in case you think you maybe made a mistake in the past by not making room for a particular show. (I regret not watching Grimm from the beginning.)
Tips: If you click on the pic, you’ll be taken to either IMDb (for new shows) or Wikipedia (for returning shows.) If the series has specific page provided by the network, I’ve linked to it with the word ‘homepage’. If the series is available via Netflix, I’ve linked to the appropriate listing to simplify your queue management.
SUMMER SHOWS FINISHING UP
Under the Dome | CBS | Mondays | 10/9c | resumed June 30th
(2nd season, 9 of 13 episodes have aired.)
Season 1 is available on Netflix discs. Season 2 can be reserved, but is not yet available.
From the homepage:
“Based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel about a small town that is suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by a massive transparent dome.”
Witches of East End | Lifetime | Sundays | 10/9c | resumed on July 6th.
(2nd season, 7 of 13 episodes have aired.)
Season 1 is available on Netflix streaming.
From the homepage:
“Inspired by Melissa de la Cruz’s New York Times best-selling novel, “Witches of East End” centers on the mysterious Beauchamp family: free-spirited artist Joanna (Ormond) and her two grown daughters, wild-child bartender Freya (Dewan Tatum) and shy librarian Ingrid (Boston), both of whom are unaware that they are gifted (and cursed) with a magical birthright.”
Extant | CBS | Wednesdays | 9/8c | debuted July 9th, 2014 | NEW
Episodes 4-10 are available at the homepage. (Apparently it will have 13 episodes.)
From the homepage:
“In a thrilling drama, Berry will play an astronaut who returns home from a year-long solo mission in space and tries to reconnect with her husband and son in their everyday life. Her experiences in space and home lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history.”
The Strain | FX | Sundays | 10/9c | debuted July 13th | NEW
All previously aired episodes are available IF you can access them via you service provider. Click “VIDEO” tab at this link and follow the instructions, or just check to see if they are available on your TV ON DEMAND. (My Comcast Xfinity has them.)
From the homepage:
“The Strain is a high concept thriller that tells the story of “Dr. Ephraim Goodweather,” the head of the Center for Disease Control Canary Team in New York City. He and his team are called upon to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism. As the strain spreads, Eph, his team, and an assembly of everyday New Yorkers, wage war for the fate of humanity itself. Co-Creators, Executive Producers and Writers Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan co-wrote the pilot script for The Strain, which was directed by del Toro.”
THE FALL TV LINE-UP
Oh. My. God. Have you heard about THIS?!?
Utopia | FOX | Tuesdays | 9/8c | Sept 7 (NEW)
From the homepage:
“Behold UTOPIA, a bold new series based on the hit Dutch program. Watch what happens as 14 pioneering Americans wave goodbye to the lives they’ve known, move to a remote location, and set out to create a society from scratch. They’ve got limited supplies, wildly diverse backgrounds, and zero bathrooms…” No, seriously go read the rest here.
Okay. Back to sane TV:
Haven | Syfy | Thursdays | 10/9c | Sept 11 (RETURNING – 5th season)
Seasons 1-4 are available on Netflix streaming. (Formerly only available via disc.)
from the homepage:
“Syfy’s one-hour drama series Haven, starring Emily Rose, is based on the novella The Colorado Kid from renowned author Stephen King. The series follows the shrewd and confident FBI agent Audrey Parker (Rose) as she arrives in the small town of Haven, Maine on a routine case. Before long, her natural curiosity lands her in the epicenter of activity in this curious enclave, which turns out to be a longtime refuge for people that are affected by a range of supernatural afflictions. The truth about Audrey’s mysterious past (which she can’t fully remember) starts to come out as well.”
Z Nation | SYFY | Fridays | 10/9c | Sept 12 (NEW)
From the homepage:
“Z Nation starts three years after the zombie virus has gutted the country, a team of everyday heroes must transport the only known survivor of the plague from New York to California, where the last functioning viral lab waits for his blood. Although the antibodies he carries are the world’s last, best hope for a vaccine, he hides a dark secret that threatens them all. With humankind’s survival at stake, the ragtag band embarks on a journey of survival across three thousand miles of rusted-out post-apocalyptic America. Z Nation comes from The Asylum, the production house behind Sharknado and Sharknado 2.”
Sleepy Hollow | FOX | Mondays | 9/8c | Sept 22nd (RETURNING – 2nd season)
Seasons 1 is available on Netflix discs.
from the homepage:
“In this modern day twist of Washington Irving’s classic, Ichabod Crane is resurrected and pulled two and a half centuries through time to unravel a mystery that dates all the way back to the founding fathers. Revived alongside Ichabod is the infamous Headless Horseman who is on a murderous rampage in present-day Sleepy Hollow. Bound to the Headless Horseman by a blood spell cast on the battlefield of the American Revolution, Ichabod quickly realizes that stopping Headless is just the beginning, as the resurrected rider is but the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
Gotham | FOX | Mondays | 8/7c | Sept 22nd (NEW)
From the homepage:
“GOTHAM is an origin story of the great DC Comics Super-Villains and vigilantes, revealing an entirely new chapter that has never been told. GOTHAM follows one cop’s rise through a dangerously corrupt city teetering between good and evil, and chronicles the birth of one of the most popular super heroes of our time.”
The Blacklist | NBC | Mondays | 10/9c | Sept 22 (RETURNING – 2nd season)
Season 1 is available on Netflix discs.
From the homepage:
“For decades, ex-government agent Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) has been one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives. Brokering shadowy deals for criminals across the globe, Red was known by many as “The Concierge of Crime.” Now, he’s mysteriously surrendered to the FBI with an explosive offer: He will help catch a long-thought-dead terrorist, Ranko Zamani, under the condition that he speaks only to Elizabeth “Liz” Keen, an FBI profiler fresh out of Quantico. For Liz, it’s going to be one hell of a first day on the job.”
Forever | ABC | Tuesdays | 10/9c | Sept 23rd (NEW) –
Update: Episode 1 is on Mon. 22, then show is regularly on Tuesdays, starting the 23rd.
From the homepage:
“Doctor Henry Morgan, New York City’s star medical examiner, has a secret. He doesn’t just study the dead to solve criminal cases, he does it to solve the mystery that has eluded him for 200 years—the answer to his own inexplicable immortality. This long life has given Henry remarkable observation skills which impresses his new partner Detective Jo Martinez. Each week, a new case and their budding friendship will reveal layers of Henry’s long and colorful past. Only his best friend and confidant, Abe knows Henry’s secret.”
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D | ABC | Tuesdays | 8/7c | Sept 23rd (RETURNING – 2nd season)
Season 1 is available on Netflix discs.
From the homepage:
“Clark Gregg reprises his role of Agent Phil Coulson from Marvel’s feature films, as he assembles a small, highly select group of Agents from the worldwide law-enforcement organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. Together they investigate the new, the strange, and the unknown across the globe, protecting the ordinary from the extraordinary.” Executive producer: Joss Whedon
NCIS: New Orleans | CBS | Tuesdays | 10/9c | Sept. 23rd (NEW)
From the homepage:
“NCIS: NEW ORLEANS is a drama about the local field office that investigates criminal cases affecting military personnel in The Big Easy, a city known for its music, entertainment and decadence. Leading the team is Special Agent Dwayne Pride, aka “King,” a native of New Orleans who is driven by his need to do what is right. Working with Pride is Special Agent Christopher LaSalle, who plays hard but works harder; and Special Agent Meredith “Merri” Brody, a charismatic and tough interrogator who transferred from the Great Lakes office in search of a fresh start. Supporting them is coroner Dr. Loretta Wade, who is as eccentric as she is smart. This colorful city that harbors a dark side is a magnet for service personnel on leave, and when overindulgence is followed by trouble, Pride’s team is at its best.”
NOTE: This is clearly more crime drama than paranormal, but: New Orleans (!) Scott Bakula (!) & Lucas Black(!)
How to Get Away With Murder | ABC | Thursdays |10/9c | Sept 25 (NEW)
From the homepage:
“The brilliant, charismatic and seductive Professor Annalise Keating gets entangled with four law students from her class “How to Get Away with Murder.” Little do they know that they will have to apply what they learned to real life, in this masterful, sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller.”
Once Upon A Time | ABC | Sundays | 8/7c | Sept 28th (RETURNING – 4th season)
Seasons 1-3 are available on Netflix streaming.
From the homepage:
“This is Fairy Tale Land. It’s filled with magic, monsters and all of the characters we all know from stories growing up. It’s real, and so are the people in it. But unlike the “happily ever after” you may have heard about, their stories continued, and The Evil Queen cast a Dark Curse over the land….This is Storybrooke. It’s a quiet, little, New England town filled with people who go about their everyday lives with no idea who they really are. The Queen’s Curse has trapped them here and placed her in near-complete control. They have no real memories and no real hope.”
NOTE: There is a special scheduled to air on Tuesday, Sept. 2nd, at 8/7c, called: The Story of Frozen
Resurrection | ABC | Sundays | 9/8c | Sept 28th (RETURNING – 2nd season)
Season 1 is available on Netflix discs.
From the homepage:
“The people of Arcadia, Missouri are forever changed when their deceased loved ones suddenly start to reappear. An 8-year-old American boy wakes up alone in a rice paddy in a rural Chinese province with no idea how he got there. Details start to emerge when the boy, who calls himself Jacob, recalls that his hometown is Arcadia, and an Immigration agent, J. Martin Bellamy, takes him there. The home he claims as his own is occupied by a 60-year-old couple, Henry and Lucille Langston , who lost their son, Jacob, more than 30 years ago…”
Stalker | CBS | Wednesdays | 10/9c | Oct 1 (NEW)
From the homepage:
“…a psychological thriller about detectives who investigate stalking incidents – including voyeurism, cyber harassment and romantic fixation – for the Threat Assessment Unit of the LAPD. Det. Jack Larsen is a recent transfer to the Unit from New York City’s homicide division, whose confidence, strong personality and questionable behavior has landed him in trouble before – but whose past behavior may also prove valuable in his new job. His boss, Lt. Beth Davis, is strong, focused and an expert in the field, driven by her traumatic personal experience as a victim. With the rest of their team, young but eager Det. Ben Caldwell and deceptively smart Det. Janice Lawrence, Larsen and Davis assess the threat level of cases and respond before the stalking and intimidation spirals out of control, all while trying to keep their personal obsessions at bay.”
Note: Another crime drama, but I do love Dylan McDermott.
Gracepoint | FOX | Thursdays | 8/9c | Oct 2 (NEW)
From the homepage:
“When a young boy is found dead on an idyllic beach, a major police investigation gets underway in the small northern California seaside town where the tragedy occurred. Soon deemed a homicide, the case turns neighbor against neighbor and sparks a media frenzy, which throws the boy’s family into further turmoil and upends the lives of the town’s residents.”
NOTE: Okay. It’s ANOTHER crime drama, but there’s certainly a creepy vibe.
American Horror Story – Freakshow | FX | Wednesdays | 10/9c | Oct 8th
(RETURNING – BUT ALSO ENTIRELY NEW, IN THE WAY OF AHS)
Season 1: Murder House & Season 2: Asylum are available on Netflix streaming.
Season 3: Coven – Not yet available on Netflix.
For some reason, FX has not yet provided us with a new homepage for AHS: Freakshow.
“The fourth season will be set in Jupiter, Florida in 1952. It will be centered around one of the few remaining freak shows at the time, as its members do anything to keep the business alive. The season will focus on the conflict between the freaks and the “evil forces” who do not understand them. The season will also feature a “clown killer” and a “bearded lady”.”
The Walking Dead | AMC | Sundays |Oct 12 (RETURNING – 5th season)
Seasons 1 – 3 are available via Netflix streaming.
AMC is pretty great about doing marathons before a new season begins … keep an eye out for season 4.
Homepage here. I trust no story description is necessary?
Constantine | NBC | Fridays | 10/9c |Oct 24th NEW
From the homepage:
“Based on the wildly popular comic book series “Hellblazer” from DC Comics, seasoned demon hunter and master of the occult John Constantine is armed with a ferocious knowledge of the dark arts and a wickedly naughty wit. He fights the good fight – or at least he did. With his soul already damned to hell, he’s decided to abandon his campaign against evil until a series of events thrusts him back into the fray, and he’ll do whatever it takes to protect the innocent. With the balance of good and evil on the line, Constantine will use his skills to travel the country, find the supernatural terrors that threaten our world and send them back where they belong. After that, who knows… maybe there’s hope for him and his soul after all.”
Grimm | NBC | Fridays | 9/8c | Oct 24th (RETURNING – 4th season)
Seasons 1 – 3 are available on Netflix discs.
From the homepage:
“Grimm” is a drama series inspired by the classic Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales. After Portland Homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt discovers he’s descended from an elite line of criminal profilers known as “Grimms,” he increasingly finds his responsibilities as a detective at odds with his new responsibilities as a “Grimm.”
Stuff on The CW:
I don’t watch this network, but it appears to be overflowing (like a heaving bosom from a tight bodice) with paranormal / horror shows. Here’s a few highlights, but if these kind of programs are your thing, it’d be best for you to explore the whole CW line-up.
The Vampire Diaries | Thursdays | 8/7c | Oct 2nd (RETURNING – 6th season)
Seasons 1 – 4 available on Netflix streaming.
The Originals | Mondays | 9/8c | Oct 6th (RETURNING – 2nd season) Vampires & New Orleans!!
Supernatural | Tuesdays | 10/9c | Oct 7th (RETURNING – 10th season)
Seasons 1 – 8 are available on Netflix streaming.
SHOWS WE’LL JUST HAVE TO WAIT FOR
Penny Dreadful | HBO | Season 2 expected spring 2015 (Season 1 not available via Netflix.)
NEW: The Whispers | ABC | “coming soon”
NEW: Aquarius | NBC | “coming soon”
NEW: Emerald City | NBC | “to be announced”
Salem | WGN | Season 2 will air Apr 2015 (Season 1 is not available via Netflx.)
Hannibal | NBC | Season 3 expected spring 2015 (Seasons 1 & 2 available on Netflix discs.)
NEW: Wayward Pines | Fox | 2015 – mid-season replacement | Juliette Lewis, Matt Dillon. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. (I’m excited about this one!)
The Following | FOX | Fridays | 9/8c | 3rd season expected January 2015 (Season 1 available on Netflix streaming.)
Downton Abbey | PBS | Sundays | 5th season expected Jan 4th, 2014 (Seasons 1-4 available on Netflix discs.)
Bates Motel | A&E | Mondays | 10/9c | 3rd season expected early 2015 (season 1 on Netflix streaming.)
Mad Men | AMC | Sundays | 8th (and final) season is likely to begin in Apr 2015
Lost Girl | Syfy | Sundays | 10/9c |5th season expected 2015
Did I miss anything you love? What show are you most looking forward to?
H. H. Holmes: Gilded Age Con Man & Serial Killer (1861 – 1896)
H.H. Holmes is considered by many to be the first documented serial killer in the United States. He built a convoluted hotel / rooming house / office building in Chicago just before the beginning of the 1893 World’s Fair. Some of the rooms were designed to be airtight and sound-proof gas chambers. He hired and fired several different contractors to complete the building. One benefit to this behavior was that he was able to avoid paying laborers and contractors by claiming that a firing was due to improperly done work. Perhaps more importantly, for Holmes’ purposes, no one other than Holmes himself really understood the design and layout of what eventually became known as the Murder Castle or Murder Hotel.
Holmes killed for two distinct reasons. He is most well-known for the murders of women in his hotel. At least some of those murders seem to have been committed simply to entertain Holmes. He also killed for practical and financial reasons. Holmes was a criminal in many ways. He ran various cons, including stealing bodies from graves, then cleaning and selling the skeletons, as well as insurance fraud schemes which sometimes led to murder. He was also a bigamist that was married to at least three women. Interestingly, he never killed any of the women he married. (Though he did kill a mistress.) He is known to have fathered one child.
Some theorists believe that H.H.Holmes was responsible for at least one of the Jack the Ripper murders in Whitechapel, London. Though Holmes and Jack the Ripper were contemporaries, there is no evidence that Holmes ever traveled to England. (It is possible, however.) What little evidence there is, in support of this theory, lies in a similarity of handwriting between letters written by Holmes and those sent to various news outlets from people claiming to be Jack.
I am disinclined to believe that a an organized, hands-off, voyeuristic murderer like Holmes would change his signature drastically enough to commit any of the savage, up-close and intimate murders attributed to Jack.
Herman Webster Mudgett; Dr. Henry Howard Holmes
1888 – 1894
Most murders took place during the 1893 World’s Fair.
Chicago, IL, USA
In a hotel he built especially to house the fair goers.
Number of murders:
Holmes confessed to 27. Nine were confirmed. Some estimates credit him with up to 200 murders.
Type A – people, usually women, taken specifically for the purpose of terrifying, torturing and killing within the walls of his “murder hotel.”
Type B – people, male or female, adults or child, whose death / disappearance benefited Holmes as he played out his financially motivated con games.
Convicted of 4 counts of 1st degree murder & 6 counts of attempted murder.
Executed by hanging on May 7th, 1896 at the age of 34.
Holmes was buried in an unmarked grave. His coffin was encased in a concrete vault to deter grave robbing and / or vandalizing.
H.H. HOLMES IN THE MEDIA:
- The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (at GoodReads)
- A Competent Witness by Judith Nickels (at GoodReads) – See comment to this post by the author of this novel.
- The Torture Doctor by David Franke (at GoodReads)
- Depraved: The Shocking True Story of America’s First Serial Killer by Harold Schechter (at GoodReads)
- Confessions of the Serial Killer H.H. Holmes by Mudgett (aka H.H. Holmes), Herman Webster (at GoodReads)
- Bloodstains by Jeff Mudgett (at GoodReads) – NOTE: This a controversial account of Holmes’ crimes and the legacy of them, written by his great-great grandson. It’s unclear from the description and reviews if it’s intended to be fiction, based-on-true, or biographical (and autobiographical.)
- Rumor has it that Leonardo Di Caprio may play Holmes in a film version of The Devil in the White City. It looks like this project has been in discussion for some time, though, and no progress has been made.
–This article includes a video tour of some tunnels under a Chicago Post Office that was built on the site of the murder hotel. Some original brickwork may have been incorporated into the newer structure.
2) H.H. Holmes Murder Castle Site Basement Footage (Embedded below.)
H.H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer (streaming on Netflix)
–1 hour and 4 minute documentary that focuses on all of Holmes’ crimes rather than on the World’s Fair, which is mentioned but not detailed. This is more sensationalized than the two listed below.
Madness in the White City (streaming on Netflix)
–45 minute documentary which – like the book of the same name – divides its time between discussing Holmes and the World’s Fair.
H.H. Holmes Full Biography on bio.com (available in full on Bio.com)
–45-minute treatment of the story from the folks at Biography, plus three shorter video snippets.
Note to my regular readers:
This is the first entry in my PDOC series. Tonight I’m working on creating the deck’s homepage. If the image above doesn’t yet link to a new page, it soon will.
NOW: MeTV & Svengoolie
For a couple of months now, I’ve been enjoying the offerings of a channel called MeTV. It’s a haven for paranormal folks, especially old-school types and those of us who … have been consuming macabre media for a while now, and who enjoy a dose of nostalgia.
Here’s what I catch when I have time:
- The Alfred Hitchcock Hour
- The Fugitive
- H.R. Rufnstuf (!!)
- He Man and the Masters of the Universe (Ok, I’m a child.)
- Night Gallery
- Perry Mason
- Thriller (with Boris Karloff)
- The Twilight Zone …
…Oh, there’s just so much. (Lots of westerns, from Rawhide to Bonanza & comedies from Make Room for Daddy to Bosom Buddies & more.) You can see the complete show line-up here: MeTV Featured Programs
I’m going to be honest, I don’t often watch these blast-from-the-past shows from start to finish. I’ve found the station to be great when I just want to catch a little something while I eat a quick bowl of cereal, or when I’m trying to fall asleep.
There is one show, however, that I actually record to watch: Svengoolie.
I discovered MeTV, in fact, because I was looking for an old-fashioned Horror Host — someone like Elvira, Sir Cecil Creape, The Ghoul, or Vampira — that I could watch now. I went off on google quest one day and found that I could get Svengoolie via my cable provider, Comcast / Xfinity.
I wasn’t looking for stuff that I could watch on my computer; I really wanted something that would be similar to my experiences as a young teen, when I’d watch Hammer House of Horror movies in the late night, or to an even earlier time, when our non-network channel (remember those?) played some b&w syndicated horror host from Chicago on Sunday afternoons.
The closest thing I’ve found so far is Svengoolie.
I have to say, I’ve seen better. (After all, Mystery Science Theater originated here in Minnesota, for God’s sake. It’s hard to compete with that.) And we’re all spoiled by the slick re-packaging that was done for the the likes of Elvira. Still, there’s fun to be had watching Svengoolie.
This guy is camp and schlocky. He’s a big fan of puns and rubber chickens. The movies he introduces, however, are pretty good. He just wrapped up a series of Creature From the Black Lagoon spin-offs. This week, he’ll be doing Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman. (Click that link to see the promo that is running right now.)
The show is broadcast on Saturday nights, at 10/9C.
I have to manage my DVR-ing because my provider doesn’t list the program as “Svengoolie” but rather as the name of whatever movie he’s featuring. With any luck, your provider will be smarter.
Find your provider here: MeTV interactive map.
I’d love to live-tweet with some of you one night while watching. Let me know if you’re up for it.
I’m looking forward to this:
Detective Hazel Micallef [ Susan Sarandon] hasn’t had much to worry about in the sleepy town of Port Dundas until a string of gruesome murders in the surrounding countryside brings her face to face with a serial killer driven by a higher calling.
- Starring: Susan Sarandon, Ellen Bernsten, Donald Southerland, Topher Grace, Gil Bellows
- Directed by: Jason Stone
- Rated: R
- Theatrical release date: August 29th, 2014
I’ll give folks a heads-up on twitter / FB / Goggle+ a little closer to the release date.
PS: Because of a fabulous comment that came in to this post, I have to share a video clip of one of the horror hosts, Sir Cecil Creape, at work. Imagine meeting this guy when you’re five. You’d probably scream in his face too … even if he was a personal hero.
Last weekend, Ogre and I ran away for the day to have a summery date. We drove to the quaint town of Stillwater, Minnesota. Our goal was to score some fudge, taffy and turtle bars from two of the three hand-made candy shops there. (Hey, if a shop makes the best of a certain kind of thing, you’re a fool to not take advantage of it.)
When we arrived, it was such a gorgeous day that we decided to look for something else to do first. It turns out there is a historical trolley tour available during the summer. We hopped on and settled in.
Stillwater – which is on the St. Croix River which separates Minnesota from Wisconsin – was founded as a lumber town even before Minnesota became a state. Its proximity to the river- which was an excellent avenue for transporting the raw lumber to the mills, and the milled lumber to its destination – quickly turned it into a wealthy city. As we cruised up and down the steep hills of the city, we saw dozens of beautiful 19th century mansions. Each was proof of the prosperity Stillwater enjoyed in the years just before the last of the towering white pines of Minnesota were logged out.
[To get an idea of the kind of logging that was done here, you might want to check out a video I made last summer: 1895 Hinkley Minnesota Firestorm.]
Perhaps the most interesting bit of information we gleaned from our cheerful tour guide was a story about The Worst Husband in the World. Allow me to explain.
Bedrooms: 3 Bathrooms: 3.5 sq ft: 4,588 Year Built: 1882
Last Sold: Feb 2002 for $375,000
Isn’t it charming? It was built by a lumber baron, Edward Hersey, as a gift to his wife. But there’s a catch. Do you see that porch and the bay window? From either of those vantage points, you see the following view of the opposing house:
Bedrooms: 9 Bathrooms: 9 sq ft: 7,000 Year Built:1879
Last Sold: Mar 2004 for $810,660
This house – 319 Pine St. W – was the first house that Edward Hersey had built for his wife.
In 1879, the Stillwater Lumberman [local newspaper] noted “Edward Hersey about to build on lots at Pine and Sixth.” Behind those few words are numerous associations: the construction of another opulent home for another of Stillwater’s well-to-do lumber families, the possible involvement of architect George Orff in his second home for a Hersey brother, and the abundant use of large, eye-catching architectural elements. The Victorian home offers a virtual laundry list of stylistic elements: a tower, a veranda, a gable, a large chimney, and a two-story bay.
According to our guide, the wife (whose name was Mary, but we’ll take a look at that in more depth in a moment) had a great deal to do with the planning of this house. It seems that Hersey himself was not as thrilled with it as she was. He had dragged his feet about commissioning it in the first place, and didn’t care for it even after he had agreed to have it built.
As the house was nearing completion, Mary went abroad to purchase proper furnishings for her dream home.
Edward Hersey promptly lost the mansion to his business partner, Jacob Bean, to settle a debt. Some say this debt was actually a high-stakes poker game. (The home is now known at the Ann Bean Mansion, after Jacob Bean’s wife.)
When Mary returned to Stillwater, Edward had already commissioned the building of the much more modest 320 Pine W house … directly across the street.
The tour guide said that Mary refused to live there.
I could have shared that much of the story with you the night I returned from the daytrip, but I wanted to do a bit of research to confirm the facts. I was able to do that – for the most part anyway – but my digging also left me with some lingering questions.
Above, I mentioned that I wanted to come back to the identity of Edward Hersey’s wife, Mary. Edward actually married TWO women named Mary in his lifetime: Mary Merrill in 1877 and Mary Haskell in 1894. A quick look at the dates of construction of the houses will reveal that the woman in the Stillwater story must have been Mary Merrill.
Just to make this easy for everyone, here the math:
- Edward was 23 in 1877 when he married Mary Merrill.
- He was 25 in 1879 when construction began on the big house, 319 Pine W.
- He was 29 in 1882 when the small house, 320 Pine W, was completed.
- There is then an 11-year gap in the story until 1894.
- He was 40 in 1894 when he married 25 year old Mary Haskell.
- (In 1894, he did something else as well, but I’ll get to that in a sec.)
- He was only 54 when he died in 1908.
- Mary Haskell Hersey died in 1950, at the age of 81.
Armed with the knowledge of the second wife, I was left wondering what had happened to the first. My assumption was that she died, so I turned to FindAGrave to discover her fate. Sure enough, I found the Hersey family plot, where Edward was buried, in a nearby St. Paul cemetery. Several members of his family also rest there, including Mary HASKELL Hersey. As for Mary Merrill, though, there is no sign of her in the plot.
Of course it is possible that Mary Merrill did die, and that her body was sent back to Maine from where both families hailed. I did do a search for her at FindAGrave and came up with two possible results. One has very little info aside from the name Mary E. Hersey. The other grave bears the name Mary M. Hersey, but it is adjacent to a man named Melville Hersey. Neither of these women died before Edward married Mary Haskell.
I have been unable to find any further reference to Mary Merrill Hersey. Mary Haskell Hersey, however, was the darling of the society pages:
In 1896, the St. Paul Globe expressed admiration for the new bride: “Mrs. Edward L. Hersey, who, by her charming personality and culture has identified herself with society in St. Paul and Stillwater, is a brunette of a very lovely type. Her eyes are large and beautiful, of a dark brown, her lashes, brows and soft, luxuriant hair corresponding in color. She is possessed of an almost perfect figure, and her carriage is graceful and stately. In her address one notices a fascinating little accent, peculiar to the East.
I mentioned that Edward Hersey did something else besides marrying the charming Mary Haskell in 1894. He moved into this:
Bedrooms: 11 Bathrooms: 6 sq ft: 7,586 Year Built: 1894
Last Sold: Apr 1993 for $170,000
Estimated current value: $891,813
I guess he really like Mary Haskell.
PS: Just FYI, Summit Ave. was THE ritziest neighborhood in Minnesota at the turn of the century. (It’s still pretty swanky, though this house has been converted to a multi-family rental property.)
ALSO: Edward’s daughter, Marie Hersey was a chum of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Apparently he spent a lot of time in this house, back in the day.
POST postscript: I just ran into a thing called Storify and I’m playing with it. I tossed together a test and am attempting to embed it below, so I can see what it is and how it looks. Ignore at will.
ADOPT HISTORICAL SLEEP PATTERNS TO HAVE MORE MYSTICAL DREAMS
From T. M. Luhrmann at nytimes.com:
MEET ARTIST JURY THE CLOWN
From Mitch Lavender at Life in 64 Square Feet:
READ ANOTHER GOOD CREEPY TRUE GHOST STORY
From Christy at Ghosts & Ghouls:
SUPPORT A DOCUMENTARY OF PARANORMAL WISCONSIN
Jessica Freeburg, children’s writer and paranormal investigator, recently contacted me about a paranormal investigation project that is currently seeking funding on INDIEGOGO. After checking into it, and watching a 30-minute webisode, I am intrigued. In the spirit of being a good neighbor (Jessica is from Minnesota, and the film’s subject is paranormal Wisconsin) I thought I’d share some information:
Haunted State: Whispers of History Past is a unique documentary about the state of Wisconsin that has never before been told. The film focuses on the history and folklore surrounding the state, seeking to answer questions that have been asked for generations …
With a scheduled release for fall 2014, the crew is currently running an IndieGoGo campaign to help fund the final phase of production. “This money will help cover things like insurance, permits and travel expenses. Right now, we’ve got a good movie. We want a great movie,” said Michael Brown, the film’s Executive Producer. Take a peek at their website www.hauntedstate.com for more details and information the film, or go directly to their IndieGoGo page at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/haunted-state-whispers-from-history-past/x/7256993 to see how you can become a part of this innovative historical, paranormal film!
Here’s the short trailer for the project, to whet your appetite.
The following 30-minute webisode, however, is what really drew me in. I appreciated the enthusiastic but respectful personality of Michael, who conducts an interesting spirit box session at about the 10-minute mark. I’m also impressed with the captured EVPs.
Check out the INDIEGOGO project:
MOURN A FAD THAT WE ALL WOULD HAVE LOVED
From Patrick Keller at The Big Séance:
READ THE REVIEW THAT INSPIRED ME TO ADD A FEATURE TO MY MOST POPULAR BLOG POST
I think you all know that I don’t often do standard reviews of books and movies here at The Paranormalist. Yes, I have my Courting Creepy Movie Lists, but in them I really only provide a teaser or snippet, my personal reason for recommending the film, and a link to IMDb (or a similar source) so that interested readers can read plot summaries and full-length synopses if they want.
Today, though, I read a review of The Haunting (1963) at one of your blogs that made me think, “Ayup. That’s exactly right. I couldn’t have said it better myself.” That’s when I realized there’s no reason that I can’t link my movies recommendations to reviews written by my blogging peers. (After all, some of you specialize in that art.)
The Haunting happens to rank high on: The 13 most haunting films, for ghost story lovers (and another 13+ worth watching.) Because this is my most popular post, I think it’s the perfect list to host this idea.
The haunting films list is due to be updated, so I’ll start adding review links when I tackle that task. You don’t have to wait until the revamp to see what kind of review I particularly like though … go see an example now:
From Scholar* at The Angry Scholar:
*I do actually know his name, but I learned it AFTER we’d communicated a fair bit, so he will always be Scholar in my mind.
IF YOU HAPPEN TO HAVE A REVIEW (OF ONE OF THE MOVIES ON THIS LIST) HIDDEN AWAY ON YOUR BLOG, DROP A LINK BELOW!
If I agree with your assessment of the film (or if your piece provides an interesting opposing view) I may link it.
There is no way I’m going to capture every great thing that happens in my personal web, let alone on the wider internet. The posts I feature here just happened to catch my eye. They resonated with me and whatever is going on in my life right now. And they are worth sharing.