Contributions

On Waiting for Houdini’s Ghost
November 7, 2019 ·


Writing this poem constituted my annual “Houdini Séance” for 2019. (Houdini died on October 31, 1926.) It is written in my own style, which I call Improvisational Rhyming. I wait, not for Houdini to haunt, but      for the rest      of us to meet      in pretense      at some séance table.      In life      he slipped off      handcuffs, …

Something to Cry About: Investigating a “Miraculous” Eye-Con
October 9, 2019


At the request of the Toronto Sun, on September 3, 1996, I drove to Canada to investigate a “weeping icon.” It would prove not to be really weeping and was not a true icon, only a print, but I am getting ahead of an interesting series of adventures in my career as a “miracle detective.” …

“Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood”: A Nickell-odeon Review (with Personal Memoir)
September 4, 2019


This latest film by director Quentin Tarantino is a masterful collage of the movie city of 1969, providing a genius mix of fairy tale, cinema business, sheer hilarity, and horror that will have staying power. It held a special fascination for me who, just eight years later (in 1977), became immersed in what was still …

Yours Truly Didn’t Disappear—Khashoggi-like—at Turin Shroud Conference
August 23, 2019


The 2019 International Conference “Science, Theology and the Turin Shroud” was held August 14–17 at Redeemer University College in Canada. Despised by some Shroud zealots as the author of Inquest on the Shroud of Turin (1983, updated 1998), I was billed as a presenter, but fears of a possible tragic outcome were whispered in skeptical …

Investigating New Mexico’s Bottomless Lakes
June 26, 2019


I don’t know if the world is ready for this, but in 2015 I got to the bottom of New Mexico’s Bottomless Lakes. I mean I got to the bottom of the fanciful claims thereof. Here is what I found.1 Bottomless Lakes is a state park (New Mexico’s first, established in 1933) that encompasses a …

Secrets of the Fakir of Ava
May 29, 2019


Isaiah Harris Hughes (born on Christmas Day, 1813, died May 24, 1891) was a conjurer’s conjurer. Almost forgotten today, Hughes was once widely known as the Fakir of Ava. Since he is buried in Buffalo’s beautiful Forest Lawn Cemetery, not far from where my wife Diana and I live, we often pay our respects at …

New Case of Lycanthropy From an Accused Man-Beast
April 30, 2019


According to a psychiatric report released in March 2019, a South Florida man, accused of murdering a couple and chewing on the face of one, suffered from “clinical lycanthropy delusions.” This is a psychiatric syndrome in which a person believes he can transform into a non-human animal—in this instance the killer believing he was “half-dog, …

Plane Abducted by UFO?
April 2, 2019


I recently came across an old (March 1979) issue of Fate magazine, which promised “The World’s Mysteries Explored.” One featured story was headlined: “Did UFO Abduct Aircraft?” As I suspected, that case was one destined to become a classic of UFOlogy, one that I would eventually have a hand in solving—at the request of a …

Spontaneous Human Combustion? Coroner Solves London Mystery
February 15, 2019


Under the heading, “Man spontaneously combusts in streets of London,” Fate magazine in late 2018 resurrected the fiery bogeyman of spontaneous human combustion. That is a pseudoscientific term for an unexplained fire injury or death. I have since followed the case to its final resolution at a coroner’s inquest, and have here placed it in …

Ukraine Splits from Russian Church
February 5, 2019


Ukrainian Orthodox Christians have officially split from the Russian Church to which they were tied for over four centuries. The spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide formalized the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in a ceremony in Istanbul on January 6, 2019. Ukraine’s action resulted in the granting of legitimacy, thus bestowing …