Contributions

CELERINA: Quackery with Cocaine
January 19, 2018


“Celerina” was a medicine dating from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, originally of secret formulation, sold as a nerve tonic and cure-all.

RIDDLEculous XVI
January 10, 2018


More funny riddles with a science/critical-thinking angle.

Rare “SANDS’S SARSAPARILLA” Bottle
December 27, 2017


In my continuing study of historical quackery, I recently acquired an antique sarsaparilla bottle that is especially interesting for the clues to its age that have been captured in the glass—analogous to ancient insects preserved in amber.

“Loving Vincent”: A Nickell-odeon Review
December 18, 2017


Loving Vincent is unique: the world’s first animated feature film that was entirely painted in oils! Its storyline begins a year after the death of Vincent Van Gogh and follows Armand (a postman’s son) as he attempts to deliver the painter’s sidetracked last letter to his brother Theo. Along the way Armand is forced to consider whether Vincent’s suicide was in reality a homicide.

Is the Beale Treasure Haunted?
December 8, 2017


Does a ghost guard the famous (or notorious) Beale treasure—an alleged cache of gold and other valuables hidden in 1819 by a Thomas Jefferson Beale and his partners near a historic Virginia inn?

“Baby Killer” Nostrums
November 20, 2017


Nothing could have seemed more harmless than the picture of a mother and her baby with the words, “Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup for Teething Children.” Trouble was, the nineteenth-century pacifying nostrum contained morphine!

Bigshoot: A TV Misadventure with “Bigfoot”
November 14, 2017


As one of several mysteries for the currently airing series on the Science channel, Strange Evidence, CFI video expert Tom Flynn and I were asked to look at a creature videotaped on a deputy sheriff’s dashcam. It was recorded on the night of May 16, 2009, in northern Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Park.

Ghosts at Nevada’s Pioneer Saloon
November 6, 2017


On a Friday night sojourn from the excellent CSI conference in Las Vegas (October 26-29, 2017), three of us visited the “haunted” century-old Pioneer Saloon in Goodsprings, Nevada—no doubt the most haunted site in the former mining town, population 229, not counting ghosts.

Houdini’s Halloween Legacy
November 1, 2017


Halloween, the time of would-be goblins, is also celebrated by magicians and magic lovers as National Magic Day (part of National Magic Week, the last seven days in October). First called “Houdini Day,” it was initiated by the Society of American Magicians following the death of the great conjurer, escape artist, and nemesis of fake mediums, Harry Houdini, who died at age 52 on Halloween, 1926.

St. Padre Pio’s Relics Tour U. S.
October 23, 2017


Relics of Padre Pio—the late, alleged stigmatic—attracted the credulous faithful during two tours of the United States in 2017. The show was apparently good for business everywhere.