Today I Learned …

Male and female reindeer both have antlers, but males shed their antlers during winter due to hormonal changes. They regrow them in the spring. Male reindeer only keep their antlers all year of they have been castrated. This means that Santa’s reindeer, who are always shown with antlers, are either females or castrated males.

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Today I Learned …

Have you put your Christmas tree up yet? You can prolong the life of your tree (if you have a real one) with maple syrup. Before putting it in the stand, cut an inch off of the trunk, and stand the tree in a bucket of cool water to which you’ve added a cup of syrup. Let the tree soak two to three days before putting it in its stand and decorating it.

The Madness — Fun! I Mean Fun! — Continues!

Halloween may be over, but the spookiness doesn’t stop, oh no no no. We’ve got loads more wonderful (and creepy) stories coming in December.

So where am I going to be? You know a moving target is harder to hit, so let’s see how you do with target practice this month. On Thursday  November 29 (which is technically NOT December, but I’ll remind you about it anyway) I’ll be doing the Spirits of Christmas program at Galesburg Library (40 E. Simmons Street, Galesburg).

As December rolls in, I’ll be at Farmington Library (411 N. Lightfoot Road, Farmington) at 6:30 for Spirits of Christmas, on Tuesday December 4 at 6:30. Then on Thursday December 6, I’ll be at Salem Township Library (102 N. Burson Road, Yates City, IL) for the same thing. I’ll be presenting Spirits of Christmas twice more, on Tuesday December 11 at 6:30 at Parlin-Ingersoll Library (205 W. Chestnut Street, Canton) and at Washington Library at 6:30 on Thursday, December 20 (380 N. Wilmore Road, Washington).

But the fun doesn’t stop there! I’ll also be doing a couple of radio shows. Listen on December 13 at 7 pm when I’ll chat with Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross on their show, and join me on December 18 at 8 pm for the Brian and Sherri Show. I’ll post show links as we get closer.

Starting on December 13 and running through December 24, Christmas Eve, I’ll be partnering again with Darren Marlar to bring you the Twelve Nightmares of Christmas. And somewhere in there will be the Christmas 2018 edition of Lights Out, your virtual campfire.

So! There’s lots and lots of wonderful things in store for the rest of 2018. And boy oh boy, 2019 will bring some cool news too. Stay tuned, and stay spooky!SoC

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well here’s something interesting …

You guys know I’m always on the lookout for weird and strange facts. And we’ve talked before about how Christmas, in Victorian times, was kind of a mashup of Halloween, New Year’s Eve, and Mardi Gras.

But did you know that Thanksgiving, too, was once an excuse for people to dress up and go door to door? And that this happened as late as the turn of the twentieth century?

Here’s an interesting article — and old photographs! — from the good folks over at The Lineup. Check it out! https://the-line-up.com/thanksgiving-maskers

Today I Learned …

Women’s wigs and hairpieces in the 1700s were held together with lard. (Hey, no one had invented hairspray yet.) There is no mention in 18th century writings of how heinous wigs covered in lard smelled when they inevitably went rancid. But we do know that many households in the American colonies had a rodent problem. Rats and mice were attracted to the lard-soaked wigs. Merchants sold wire “rat screens” to place over the hairpieces when not in use, to keep them from being gnawed to bits!

The Spookiness Continues …

So now that October’s over, so are the ghost stories, right? Bzzt — no way!

I’ll start off November with a bang, going all the way up to Warren Township Library in Warren, Illinois (210 Burnett Avenue). I’ll be doing the Spirits of Christmas talk there, hanging out from 11 am to 1 pm. (The talk isn’t THAT long, but since I’m driving alllll that way, I figure I’ll stick around for some ghost chat afterwards. And I’ll treat myself to a Galena visit after that.)

On November 8, I’ll return to my old stomping grounds in Monmouth, and give a talk at Warren COUNTY Library on the square (62 Public Square, Monmouth, IL) at 6:30 pm. We’re really going to be warming up for the holiday season — it’s Spirits of Christmas again.

On November 10, I’ll return to my favorite indie bookstore, I Know You Like A Book in Peoria Heights. I’ll be there from 2 pm to 4 pm to sign copies of Spirits of Christmas.

On November 17 and 18, I’ll be at the Quad Cities Psychic and Paranormal Fair, sharing a table with my good friend Ophelia Julien. I’ll be debuting a new talk at this fair, so show up and listen to something brand-spanking new! (I don’t yet know what the schedule will be, so I’m sorry, I can’t tell you exactly when that is. But it will be either Saturday or Sunday. 😀 )

On November 20, I’ll be visiting with Jim Harold of Ghost Insight at 7 pm Central. We’ll get into the holiday mood with some spooky Christmas ghost stories.

And on November 29, I’ll head west again, and do the Spirits of Christmas talk at Galesburg Library (40 E. Simmons Street) at 6:30.

Then it will be time for December. There’s so much going on then, I’m going to save that for another post!

 

Happy Halloween!

Baskin Robbins had a sale today, as a Halloween treat. So I treated myself.

And as I was sitting there enjoying my cone, listening to the “Dunkin Donuts” radio station, the radio played one of my favorite songs from back in the day: “Electric Blue” by Ice House. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDOtpdIEsGI )

Life is so very good.

IceCream2

Halloween’s Coming!

I told you there’d be more spooky fun coming up in October …

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be a guest on the Faith and Hunter Show on B104 in Bloomington. (Yes, it’s a country station. Yes, it’s a 45-minute drive. Yes, I have to be there at 6:30 in the morning. Who says non-fiction writers can’t also suffer for their art?)

So if you’re so inclined, tune in to www.wbwn.com from 6:30 to 8 am next Wednesday, October 31. Get your Halloween started off right with some ghost stories from Peoria and (of course) Bartonville. I’m told there will be contest stuff going on, so join me!

Today I Learned …

Okay, so everyone knows that Orson Welles’ Halloween 1938 radio presentation of War of the Worlds scared the paste out of listeners. And some people even know that this was because a lot of the audience tuned in late, and missed the disclaimer at the beginning of the show that it was fiction and not a real broadcast. But do you know why people tuned in late?

Mercury Theater, which is the show Orson Welles worked for, was aired opposite The Charlie McCarthy Show, hosted by Edgar Bergen and featuring the famous ventriloquist’s dummy, the titular Charlie McCarthy. It was much more popular than Mercury Theater, so people would tune in to it first, and if the guest for the show didn’t grab them, they’d wander down the dial to the less popular show. Mercury Theater was fully aware of this, and they didn’t even try to compete with the talking dummy. Instead, they ran episodes of the classics, usually Shakespearean dramas, commercial-free. For the Halloween show, they decided to air an updated version of H.G. Wells’ science fiction classic, The War of The Worlds, rewritten and narrated by Orson Welles. The folks who had started their evening with Charlie McCarthy and had gotten bored with Charlie’s guest … well, they got quite a surprise. And that’s how Orson Welles was able to inadvertently scare the paste out of radio America on Halloween night, 1938.

Lights Out — The Farmhouse Fiend (Halloween 2018)

It’s time for the Halloween episode of Lights Out! Join me as I listen to James Brija, of Ghostbusters Peoria, spin tales of the haunted farmhouse where his grandparents lived for a time. These stories are sure to send a shiver or two down your spine, so settle in for a delightfully creepy time. https://youtu.be/LBtXaMoFVik

lightsout

Fun On The Canal!

I got to have a bunch of fun last night — I told ghost stories on a canal boat.

The boat was the Volunteer, on the I & M Canal in LaSalle, Illinois. It was supposed to be drawn by a mule, Larry, but unfortunately, Larry had injured himself a little while before (he rubbed up against a fence the wrong way and gave himself a cut on his side, right where the belly strap of his tack would go). So the crew decided to use the boat’s engines to provide the power for the cruise, and let Larry heal all winter. (The boat will be shutting down operation for the winter soon anyway.)

But I got to share ghost stories for an hour, and we enjoyed a lovely ride.

(And afterwards, I got to feed Larry a couple of apples.)

So if you’re interested in a gorgeous boat trip down the canal, look up Lock 16 Cafe and Visitors Center, 754 First Street, LaSalle. It’s not too spendy — $15 for the trip — and it’s a really nice ride for an hour. And maybe next October, I’ll be there again telling ghost stories. (The turning leaves are absolutely beautiful, too.)

BoatTour1
The Volunteer. (Taken after the ride, just before I left.)

BoatTour2

BoatTour3
This is Larry. He’s fuzzy because he kept moving.
BoatTour4
Just look at this face! Who wouldn’t want to feed apples to this face?

October Fun Continues!

Looking for something out of the ordinary to help celebrate the spooky season? I’ll be going up to LaSalle, Illinois, the weekend of October 20 and 21 (Saturday and Sunday). LaSalle has a Canal Boat Tour at 5 pm along the I&M Canal each of those days, and I’ll be telling true ghost stories on the tour. The boat is a replica of an 1840s canal boat, and it’s pulled by mules! It’s $15 for the boat trip, which is about an hour long, and all ticket sales are used to support preservation of the I&M National Heritage Area. Plus you get to hear me tell ghost stories!

http://www.lasallecanalboat.org/ride-the-boat/daily-rides/

RAS #349 – Ghost Stories With Sylvia – Volume 5

Ron's Amazing Stories - The Blog

On Ron’s Amazing Stories this week we continue theMonth Of Spookywith guest and friend, Sylvia Shults. For those of you who are not familiar with her, this will be her fifth year forGhost Stories with Sylvia. Included in the program are the stories:The Encounter, Tales by Lord Halifax, two brand new listeners stories and a specialFive Minute Mysterywith Tom Williams.

Silvia’s Links: WordPress,Facebook,Amazon Author Pageand Light’s Out Podcast.

Anything You Can Do and The Month of Spooky:
We are not playing new chapters ofAnything You Can Doby Randall Garrett duringThe Month Of Spooky.  It will return in November. For those of you who can’t wait for more of the novel. I will be updating theAnything You Can Do homepageeach week with new chapters introduced by Mark Nelson himself. Also…

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Today I Learned …

Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise ride features a palm tree that’s much older than the park.

Just outside the entrance to the ride stands the “Domiguez Palm”, which is named after the family that owned the land on which Disneyland was built. The tree dates back to 1896. According to mentalfloss.com, the rancher who sold the land to Walt Disney requested that this particular tree be spared when the theme park was constructed. Disney obliged, and moved the tree and its surrounding dirt — fifteen tons in all — from the parking lot area to Adventureland.

Fun Stuff Ahead!

Oh boy oh boy, here we go! Time to start the season of busy!

Things kick off this Saturday. I’ll be speaking at the conference in Rockford at the veteran’s hall right across from the public library. We’ll be getting into the holiday mood a little early; I’m doing the Spirits of Christmas presentation.

The first weekend in October is super busy! At 3:00 pm on Friday, I’ll be at the Lake Villa Library in Crystal Lake for the Ghosts of the Illinois River presentation. Then at 7 pm, I’ll head to the Barnes and Noble in Crystal Lake to hang out with fun folks like Dale Kaczmarek and Shadow Hunters. And on Saturday, I’ll be manning a table at the Afterlife Paranormal Conference in DeKalb, at the Red Roof Inn. Swing by and say hi — I’ll likely be there all day.

On Thursday October 11, I’ll be chatting on The Brian and Sherri Show at 8 pm. It’s always fun to catch up with those guys.

The next week, it’s time for a couple of library presentations. I’ll be at Lillie M. Evans Library (207 N. Walnut, Princeville IL) at 6:30 PM on Tuesday October 16 for Ghosts of the Illinois River. On Thursday October 18, I’ll be doing Fractured Spirits at Mackinaw Library (117 S. Main Street, Mackinaw, IL) at 6:30 PM.

On Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21, we’ve got something super cool coming up (I’ll do another post on that later). Long story short, I’ll be telling ghost stories on a canal boat on the I&M Canal near LaSalle. That’s at 5 pm both evenings.

And on Thursday October 25, I’ll be joining the fun in Bloomington at nightshop (517 N. Main Street, Bloomington). Horror comes alive just in time for Halloween. Dark tales, macabre music, haunting stories, scary movie chat, and ghastly art – all wrapped up with a gory bow on top. It’s an event you won’t want to miss. Featuring Troy Taylor, The Murder-Metal-Mayhem Podcast Hosts (Pete and Chris), The Quaker Goes Deaf, and MORE! It’s $6 at the door, and it will be SO worth it!

I’m quite sure I’ll be adding more events as the month goes on. And stay tuned for upcoming events in November and December as well.

Why I Keep Writing

This past weekend found me at Pekin’s Marigold Festival, enjoying the end of summer and watching the parade of people come past my booth. Some of them even stopped in to chat. That’s always my favorite part of the festival.

I’ll keep writing books as long as people want to keep reading them, of course. But every so often, I’m reminded of why I do what I do. Having someone come up to me and say, “Okay, I’ve read this one, this one, and … yeah, this one too. What have you got that’s new?” That’s a really powerful incentive to keep coming up with new books — and new ideas.

One woman came by with her young son. The kid was a bit distracted, running his fingers along the table and not making much eye contact. The mom bought the new book for the kid, and I happily signed it for him. She said, “Your books are the only ones he’ll read cover to cover.” Way cool!

Later in the weekend, another woman came up to the booth, and bought a book — this wasn’t her first experience with my books either. She confided to me that she has fibromyalgia. “Your stories just flow so beautifully; they really carry me along as I’m reading. Your book was the first one in years I’ve been able to sit with and read.” (I believe she was talking abut 44 Years in Darkness, if you’re interested in what title captivated her attention like that.)

It is such an honor to be able to touch people’s lives, and it’s a joy when they come up to me and tell me! Thanks for letting me share my tales with you all.

Today I Learned …

Paleontologists have long known about coprolites, or fossilized poop. But some sharp-eyed scientists have also discovered fossilized farts. We’ve all seen Jurassic Park — insects become trapped in tree sap, which hardens into amber. In their efforts to escape, the bugs would break wind. (Ever done situps? Tell me you haven’t farted once or twice with the exertion.) The amber preserved both the insect and the tiny bubbles it let loose during its unfortunate struggle.