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  • Index Biography #34: Prize a book September 30, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Index Biography #34: Prize a book

    ***Congrats to Melissa for getting this one*** The Index Biography is a new form of biography pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The creator must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write down eight peripheral facts about the individual’s life. We offered […]

    Pook’s Hill and Kipling September 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Pook's Hill and Kipling

    There are two versions of the history of Pook’s Hill: the official version; and the official-official version. First, the official version. Kipling wrote in the Edwardian period a book for his children about English history: Puck of Pook’s Hill, published in 1906. A fairy, Puck, introduces Kipling’s two children to the marvelous wonders of the […]

    Alabama Treasure Ghosts September 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Alabama Treasure Ghosts

    Some enjoyable treasure ghosts from the deep south… Though  this tract is now largely cleared and settled, these  traditions and ghost stories are still told and  believed by the negroes, Creoles, and ignorant  whites, Poinquinette, an old Creole fisherman and  a repository of interesting lore, has related some  of his personal encounters with the Magazine […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: Sewer Snakes September 25, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: Sewer Snakes

    The search for the original sewer dwelling creature continues. The first reference to sewer snakes comes from a British newspaper in 1888. It is agreeable to recall that, not long ago, a huge boa-constrictor was discovered in a Vienna sewer, the serpent having evidently escaped from a menagerie, and either taken refuge there from cold, […]

    Snowball Atrocities #5: Urban Legend Snowballs September 24, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Snowball Atrocities #5: Urban Legend Snowballs

    Beach recently ran across this marvelous nonsense: Probably the most remarkable manner of extinguishing fire has occurred at Boswell, a mining town in Pa., America. Hundreds of men, women, boys, and girls saved the town from destruction by throwing snowballs. The town says (the veracious chronicler) has no fire department and water is scarce. The […]

    The Itza: the Last American Indian State September 23, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Itza: the Last American Indian State

    When did the last American Indian state fall to predatory Europeans? Well, you could argue that there are still some independent hunter-gatherer ‘states’ in the Amazon that have preserved their independence by virtue of jungle foliage. There was resistance among the plain Indians in the US as late as the 1920s (another post, another day). […]

    How Fast Do Fairies Fly? September 21, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    How Fast Do Fairies Fly?

    This comes from a story told in the The Prince Edward Island Magazine (June 1902), which uniquely, gives us the evidence for fairy flight speed. We are in the Canadian Maritimes, on the eastern coast of Canada. Prince Edward Island (PEI) is one of the Canada’s most attractive provinces. By the twentieth century there was […]

    Floating Islands (and the Loch Ness Monster) September 20, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Floating Islands (and the Loch Ness Monster)

    Let’s talk floating islands. A few years ago Beach had a very gentle battle with a courteous Nessie writer Roland Watson. As a sceptic with folklore interests Beach was intrigued by many parts of Ronald’s argument, but one piece of new evidence that stood out was the claim that there was a floating island on Loch […]

    Wrong Time Bread, Wrong Place Fairies September 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Wrong Time Bread, Wrong Place Fairies

    Beach wants to introduce today a folklore custom that survived unexpectedly for three hundred years in the dark, before emerging to be briefly photographed by stunned folklorists at the end of the twentieth century. The tradition in question relates to bread. It was believed in south-west England in the 1600s that if you carried bread […]

    Tripadvisor Ghosts September 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Tripadvisor Ghosts

    Beach is knackered and trapped in a public computer room after coming down to a large Italian city to see his middle daughter start school. While doing some correction work on ghosts and thinking about a recent bad experience in a hotel (idiot manager): his tired mind managed to knit the two together. Does, he […]

    Earliest Optography? September 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Earliest Optography?

    Two ideas interested late nineteenth-century crime fiction writers. First, the ridiculous notion that finger prints were unique and that they could be recorded to incriminate this or that thief or murderer; and, second, optography, the sensible-sounding proposition that a murder victim would record the last thing he or she saw on the eye’s retina. Take […]

    The Future and Moles September 15, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    The Future and Moles

    Weak old humanity has long tried to wring drops of the future out in the present by: cutting open live calves, watching birds, reading palms, throwing bamboo rods and, well, hundreds of other methods. It is rarely that Beach comes across a form of divination that has most others beaten. His reference work is a […]

    Maria Screams September 13, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Maria Screams

    A WIBT moment from early nineteenth-century Portugal. Thousands of well dressed but harassed men and women are milling and pushing in Lisbon harbor before a score of great British and Portuguese ships. The tense silence is suddenly broken as a piercing scream begins from behind. The woman’s voice, from a royal carriage is continual. Maria […]

    Most Interesting Eighteenth-Century Life: Francisco de Miranda September 11, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Most Interesting Eighteenth-Century Life: Francisco de Miranda

    It would be futile to discuss which historical man or woman had the most interesting life: what, after all, is ‘interesting’? However, if we think of places visited and people met, then a good candidate is surely Francisco de Miranda (1750-1816), South American patriot, playboy, soldier, sexual athlete and general n’er-do-well. Consider, just as a […]

    70 Million Dead in One Second September 8, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    70 Million Dead in One Second

    The year is 1908. You are walking through a jungle territory in southeastern Cameroon in central Africa when you hear the sickening smack of the machete on flesh. Expecting the worst you emerge, your rifle half lifted, but see only a local hunter with a kill. He has taken a chimp in a trap and […]

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