Today I Learned …

Hugh Hefner’s original Playboy Mansion was in Chicago. The seventy-two room mansion was located in the city’s Gold Coast neighborhood. The brass plate on the mansion’s front door was inscribed with the Latin phrase: “Si Non Oscillas, Noli Tininnare” (“If you don’t swing, don’t ring.”)

Lights Out — Let’s Take a Vacation!

Hey hey, it’s time for another episode of Lights Out. We’re staying in the Dells, and lacing up our sneakers for a walking ghost tour. Want to take a stroll in beautiful Wisconsin Dells and hear some ghost stories? You’re in luck! Sit back and enjoy some spooky tales, including stories of a haunted pinball machine, a Confederate spy, and a hungry spirit that likes sandwiches.

Today I Learned …

During World War II, one of the oddest military tactics was used in the Pacific. A lot of the fighting there was done on islands with sandy beaches. Undercover agents strapped foot-shaped rubber soles onto their boots. When they landed on one of those sandy beaches, they left tracks that looked like “bare feet” footprints, making it look like locals had gone for a stroll along the shore. No soldiers here, nope, not a one.

Coming Soon!

Got a new project in the works! I’ll be one of the researchers for a new show, Halloween 247. Jeni will be taking care of the actual Halloween lore, and I’ll be providing the spooky paranormal tales. Seeing as how I’ve been obsessed with the strange and mysterious all my life, I’ve got loads of material coming at you guys. Subscribe to the Shadow Hunters YouTube channel, tune in to the show, and prepare to have your world rocked!


Book Review: Burn, by Patrick Ness

It’s 1957. Eisenhower has just been sworn in for his second term as president, racism is still very much a thing, and there are dragons living in Canada that farmers can hire to clear their fields. By the end of page 1 I was hooked. By page 6 I was entranced. And by the middle of the second chapter I was hopelessly, helplessly in lust with this book. Ness writes with an easy grace that makes you feel like you’ve crawled through the page and are walking around in the book yourself. I’m definitely going to seek out more of his work.

Burn by Patrick Ness

National Book Lovers Day

Today is National Book Lovers Day! Curl up with a good book — bonus points if you do your reading in a porch swing. I love the feel of paper pages turning beneath my fingers, but if you have an electronic device, you can still enjoying the satisfying pleasure of a good read. If you have a library card and a smartphone, check out the Libby app (provided by Overdrive). This app gives you access to multiple libraries, and you can check out ebooks for free, just like physical library books. And don’t forget, audiobooks count too! Enjoy a good book on a lazy summer day!

Available as an audiobook!

Lights Out: Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, Wisconsin Dells

It’s time for another episode of Lights Out! Gather ’round the virtual campfire, break out your marshmallow stick, and snuggle in for some wonderful spooky tales. Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum in Wisconsin Dells is a treasure trove of the delightfully bizarre. With all the oddities contained in the museum’s collection — a sculpture of a python made of fingernails, a West African “hate doll”, a picture made of toaster crumbs — it’s no surprise that the museum is, in fact, haunted. Come along with me as we explore the treasures within this fascinating place.

Marigold Festival News

So for those of my fans in the Peoria area, you guys know how much I really enjoy chatting with people at my booth at the Marigold Festival (held the weekend after Labor Day in Pekin). I’m very sorry to tell you that — to the surprise of absolutely no one — this year’s Marigold Festival has indeed been cancelled.

I’m disappointed too, because it’s such a joy to talk with the people that stop by the booth to say hello. But! I will be back in 2021, and by that time, I will most definitely have a new book out. And, I have a haunted outing planned for that weekend, which will of course show up as a Lights Out episode. We’re going back to Malvern Manor — in the dark this time — and I’m going to spend the night, just so I can share the experience with you all. Stay tuned, and stay spooky!

Today I Learned …

It wasn’t always easy being Shakespeare. The playwright had to deal with unauthorized reproduction of his plays — pirating in the Elizabethan Age. Stenographers would attend his plays, writing down the lines at a feverish pace. Then they would copy the copy, and sell manuscripts of the plays loaded with copying errors. This glut on the market drove the price of Shakespeare’s plays down to a penny. This rock-bottom price kept the plays popular — and accessible to all — and probably helped make Shakespeare the best known playwright of all time. (From Chuck Palahniuk, Consider This)

Helpful Bees!

I’m always happy to see bees working my flowers, even if they aren’t honeybees. Here’s a couple of native pollinators enjoying the gifts of the sunflower right outside my back door. One is gathering pollen the traditional way, and the other is cheating a bit by getting the stuff that has fallen on the leaf below the bloom. Go bees go!

Today I Learned …

Obsession, the cologne by Calvin Klein, doesn’t only draw the interest of humans. It also works its magic on big cats — in fact, the BBC reports that Banham Zoo in the UK is requesting that people send them old bottles of the cologne as a treat for the lions, tigers, and leopards at the zoo.

According to Mental Floss, “Like many perfumes, the key ingredient in Calvin Klein’s Obsession is animal musk. The musk used in Obsession is civetone, a pheromone secreted by small cat-like mammals called civets. When big cats like tigers and lions get a whiff of the scent, they go nuts for it and rub themselves all over the source. Experts suspect that cats interpret civetone as a kind of territorial marker and roll around in it as a way to mark the area with their own scent.”