Today I Learned …

For an art festival in Kassel, Germany, Argentine artist Marta Minujin built a full-size replica of the Parthenon using 100,000 books that have been banned at one time or another. Constructed with a steel framework, the sculpture was made with books donated by the public from a list of over 170 titles, including The Da Vinci Code, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and The Catcher in the Rye. And the coolest part? It was built on a former Nazi book-burning site. (From Ripley’s Believe It Or Not: A Century of Strange)

Today I Learned …

In April 1935, the Titanian, a tramp steamer carrying coal from Newcastle, England, to Canada, encountered an iceberg in the same area as the Titanic had done 23 years earlier. Crew member William Reeves had a premonition seconds before the iceberg came into view and yelled “Danger ahead!” to the navigator, who quickly reversed the engines and brought the ship to a halt. Reeves was born on April 15, 1912 — the date on which the Titanic sank. (From Eyewitness: Titanic)

Guess Whose Book Won First Place?

I have news! Good news! I’ve just found out that Days of the Dead: A Year of True Ghost Stories has won First Place in the Bookfest Awards. How about that? And you can go here to get your very own copy, if you haven’t already:…/days-of-the-dead-a…/9781735668987

You can also get it here: Paperback:–2kxKyMMQo92XiWTOcAYgaBq8f6lHfINp-He4oeOQyH8

And here: Kindle:

Today I Learned …

The app RunPee advises users on the best time to take an urgent toilet break during a trip to a movie theater so that they do not miss a crucial moment. It picks out three- to five-minute-long movie scenes that do not contain essential plot twists, exciting action, or laugh-out-loud moments. (From Ripley’s Believe It Or Not: A Century of Strange)

Today I Learned …

A typo helped the Allied forces crack the famous Enigma code and ultimately defeat the Germans in World War Two. The UK Ministry of Defense recruited Geoffrey Tandy to work at its top-secret Bletchley Park headquarters in Buckinghamshire, England, in the belief that he was an expert cryptogramist — someone who deciphers codes — when in fact he was a cryptogamist, an expert on mosses, algae, and seaweed. Despite the mistake, he stayed, and when a German U-boat was sunk in 1941 and its cryptic documents captured, his knowledge of preserving water-damaged specimens proved invaluable in making the papers readable. (From Ripley’s Believe It Or Not: Beyond the Bizarre)

Today I Learned …

George Romero, famous for his Living Dead zombie movie franchise, also made videos for Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

When Romero got out of college, he and a few friends started a movie company called The Latent Image, and billed themselves as “Producers of Industrial Films and Television Commercials.” Some of Romero’s earliest jobs were short films commissioned by the show, shown on Picture Picture: “Things With Wheels”, “Things That Feel Soft”, and “How Light Bulbs Are Manufactured”. (Romero still jokes that the scariest film he ever made was “Mr. Rogers Gets A Tonsillectomy.”) With the experience he got on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Romero scraped up $114,000 to make Night of the Living Dead, helped by volunteers and free entrails from a local butcher shop. He really wanted Betty Aberlin, the human actress in the Land of Make-Believe, to play Barbara, the lead in Night of the Living Dead, but Mr. Rogers put his foot down and said NO. (And by the way, Mr. Rogers saw Night of the Living Dead — and loved it.) (From Kindness and Wonder: Why Mr. Rogers Matters Now More Than Ever, by Gavin Edwards.)

Lights Out: The Watseka Wonder

I KNOW, I know, it’s been positively AGES since you guys have enjoyed an episode of Lights Out! (Unless you’ve been watching or listening to past episodes, in which case, good for you!) I’ve got a great excuse — I’ve been putting the finishing touches on a new book for you all, so that’s why I’ve been slacking off a bit on the podcast/YouTube front. But fret not! Here is a brand-spanking-new episode of your virtual campfire.

We’re headed to the town of Watseka, Illinois, for a bit of Victorian-style ghost hunting at the Roff House. Enjoy!

Today I Learned …

When King Louis XVI of France was a child, an astrologer warned him to be on his guard on the 21st day of each month. Consequently, he never conducted any business on that date. Even so, on June 21, 1791, following the French Revolution, Louis, and his queen, Marie Antoinette, were arrested in Varennes while trying to flee France. Then on September 21, 1792, France abolished the monarchy, and finally on January 21, 1793, Louis was executed by guillotine. (From Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Beyond the Bizarre)

Today I Learned …

Salmonella is a bacteria in the Enterobacter family that causes food poisoning — we all know this. But here’s something you might not know: salmonella lurks not only in raw chicken, but also on the skin of reptiles. Which is why you really should wash your hands after handling, say, a red-eared slider turtle or an iguana. It’s also why the FDA came up with the “4-inch law” in 1975. It says that any turtles sold in the US have to have a shell length of at least four inches, because that makes it harder for a child to stick the turtle in his or her mouth. (Do you need to sit down for a minute? It’s okay, take your time…)

2022 Calendars Still Available!

Are you still looking at your 2021 calendar? The year is over (and thank goodness for that!).

There’s a great way to get your spooky fix for all of 2022. I’ve put together a new calendar, using twelve of the 366 stories in Days of the Dead: A Year of True Ghost Stories. It’s bigger than last year’s calendar, so you’ve got lots of room to write down dentist’s appointments, swim meets, class reunions, stuff like that. $18 gets a calendar sent right to your door.

And here’s what else that $18 gets you: when you order a calendar, using the Contact Me link at the top of the page, tell me a date that’s special to you. Come closer … whisper it in my ear. It could be your birthday, or the day you brought your furbaby home, or the day you watched a really pretty sunset. Tell me about it, and I’ll write a special message on that day in your calendar.

So click that Contact Me button, and get ready to make every day spooky!

Welcome — I Think? — To 2022.

What can I say about 2021, besides things that would probably get my mouth washed out with soap? Good grief. (Literally. We lost many family members this past year, including a sweet dog.)

But life does have a way of going on. For instance, there are now two MORE places you can listen to my true ghost story podcast, Lights Out. It can now be found on Amazon Music/Audible (, and at ( So go, check it out, subscribe if you like. I’ve been promising a new episode for, like, forever, but I have several good excuses, including the fact that I’ve been working really hard on a new book for you guys. More on that later.

For now, go out and sneak your way into the New Year. Remember, no sudden movements. (It can’t see you if you hold still, or does that only work for T-Rexes?)

Also remember: I love you guys. Stay safe.

Today I Learned …

When John Williams was tapped to compose the music for “Schindler’s List”, he was really intimidated. (Imagine, John Williams having imposter syndrome…) During an early meeting about the project, Williams told Steven Spielberg, “You need a better composer for this.” Spielberg replied, “I know, but they’re all dead.”

Today I Learned…

Of the billions of letters sent to Santa each year, most of them come from France. An incredible 1.7 million letters are written to the jolly old elf from the good boys and girls of France. Canadian kids send 1.35 million letters to him (using postal code H0H 0H0). Just over one million letters show up at the North Pole from children in America. Mexico and Latin America aren’t even on the list, but this may be because kids in those countries don’t send letters to Santa. They put their letters in helium balloons and release them.

Merry Christmas 2021!

Thanks for being a vital part of this blog! You guys all rock. I appreciate you tuning in every Monday morning for Today I Learned, for Lights Out episodes, and for whatever other thoughts are running around my brain. Here’s a little extra Christmas present for you guys this year: links to a couple of Christmas shows I’ve done recently.

The Christmas episode of “Right Now” (host Mia Johnson says, “Could listen to your stories all day…”) :

Into the Parabnormal:

On Ron’s Amazing Stories we have something special. We play the classic old-time radio version of A Christmas Carol written by Charles Dickens. This adaptation is performed, written, and directed by Orson Welles. The part of Ebeneezer Scrooge is played by actor Lionel Barrymore who has performed this role more than once during his historic career. Also, on the show, Sylvia Shults and I preview next week’s groundbreaking podcast which will be focused on A Christmas Carol.

On Ron’s Amazing Stories this time we are presenting a follow-up to what we played on last week’s show. Call it A Christmas Carol – Part Two, with a twist. Sylvia Shults and I are going to take and turn the classic story on its head with real ghost stories, Victorian oddness, Historical observations, and much more. We have skits, gripping discussions, and a whole lot of fun. So press that play button, this is going to be something special. RAS522-Xmas2021-122321.mp3