"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Friday, December 2, 2016

Weekend Link Dump

During the month of December, the weekly Link Dump will have the honor to be sponsored by the Cats of Christmas!

What the hell is this Antarctic snow pyramid?

Where the hell are Nefertari's legs?  Now we know?

Who the hell was D.B. Cooper?  A whole lot of people want to know!


Watch out for the monster of Pocomoonshine Lake!

Watch out for those murder marshes!

Flying monks!

Killer peas!

An explorer goes fatally insane.

An odd tale of child murder in a church.

The history of James Hadfield's pistol.

An ancient Egyptian cat cemetery.

19th century drugged-out dinner parties.  For science!

Chinese astronauts hear an extraterrestrial knock-knock joke.

Let's talk post-mortem photographs on vegetables, shall we?

A woman was hit by a meteorite.  And then things began to get weird.

Early 20th century girls and their "chap records."  I'm surprised I had never heard of these before.

Napoleon's coronation had its problems.

How Victoria and Albert popularized Christmas.

Even better, let's talk Krampus.

If you're guilty of incest and infanticide, it's wisest to keep a low profile.

The world of Victorian Vaudeville.

Don't forget to feed the fairies!

More on why selfies are the Black Plague of our age.

Some Midwinter folklore.

The stones of Anne Taylor.

Katterfelto and his famous black cat.

More on the wreck of the "William & Mary."  (Still more!)

Avoiding the apocalypse through white roosters.

A unique auction of cat art.

A scandalous early 19th century love triangle.

When dentists take to experimentation, things are bound to get weird.

Civil war soldiers seek to escape frying pan, land in fire.

A 17th century Franciscan has an uneasy meal.

Abortion in the 18th century.

1999 in 1967.

News to me:  Nathaniel Hawthorne's daughter is a candidate for sainthood.

A music examiner tours early 20th century India.

A life-saving beetle.

Old Whitey, the ghost of a sunken ship.

Dying for incest.

Technology is making us miss out on sea serpents.

That time we thought we had conquered pain.

That time California children declared war on squirrels.

Folklore of the "hairy people."

Ancient Romans meet British snow.

A manhandled UFO.

Anglo-Saxon sign language.

Caesarians and a 14th century queen.

A man is reincarnated as a tree.  Sort of.

For this week in Russian Weird, here is the grave of a Siberian Robin Hood.

We're done for this week! See you on Monday, when we'll be looking at a famous American murder mystery. In the meantime, here's some classic country-rock from back in the day.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

The fourteenth "Famous Cats of New England" presented by the "Boston Post" is Squeak, modest homebody with unexpected aquatic talents:
"Squeak" can claim to probably be the highest type of cat in the annals of New England's famous cats. No public institution cat is Squeak; seeking publicity in the busy marts of men. Squeak is the quiet home dweller, beloved in the bosom of the family; puss that, purring contentedly on the hearth rug, beside the old high backed rocker, has made "home" more of a home for so many of us.

"Just a regular feller, not fancy, but oh, so nice," says Squeak's mistress, Mrs. Webster Hayward of Spring street, Somerville, of her silky coated fireside pet. Stronger still are the praises of Squeak's master. He tells how the coming home hour is made so much the fuller by the sight of the cat silhouetted against the lamp post at the corner, watchfully waiting for him to get off his car.

Each summer Squeak motors with his "folks" to Boon Lake. There the warm months are spent in the companionship of Michael--a most delightful Irish terrier. The best of friends, the cat and the pup vie for the affection of their mistress.

It was when Squeak felt that Mike was winning out that the cat performed a feat that has gone down among the traditions of Boon Lake. It was Michael's custom to swim after the canoe whenever Mrs. Hayward paddled out across the lake. Squeak followed only to the shore and stood there looking wistfully out to sea--decidedly out of it.

Paddling as usual one morning, Mrs. Hayward looked back to assure herself that Michael was coming along in safety when she descried a smaller series of ripples emanating from a small dark object that was battling manfully with the current. Backing until she was closer Mrs. Hayward recognized Squeak, and at the peril of capsizing pulled the valiant little cat into the canoe, where it rested perfectly satisfied with having gone Michael one better.
~December 22, 1920

Monday, November 28, 2016

To Meet Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton

Longtime readers of this blog are aware that this site is meant not to be just entertaining or educational, but inspirational. Moral Uplift is my middle name. So naturally, I'd be sadly remiss in my duty if I failed to introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Ray Hamilton. This couple symbolized Strange Company Family Values at its finest.

Robert Hamilton was born into that peculiarly oxymoronic environment known as "American Royalty." This descendant of Alexander Hamilton was the son of famed General Schuyler Hamilton. He was a successful lawyer, a popular clubman, and a member of the New York Assembly. In short, he epitomized the genteel East Coast blue-bloods of the late 19th century. Hamilton could have stepped out of an Edith Wharton novel.

What caused his life to careen from Whartonian elegance to Illustrated Police News farce was his marriage in January 1889 to Eva Mann. Mann, a former star of the May Howard Burlesque Company, was about the last person one would imagine someone of Howard's status taking as a consort. The wedding becomes a little less surprising when you learn it was of the "shotgun" variety. Hamilton evidently felt an illegitimate child would be more scandalous than an inappropriate wife. Perhaps he even fancied himself in love.

As Mrs. Robert Hamilton, the former showgirl was showered with fabulous jewels, a wardrobe of costly and stunning gowns, and an allowance of six thousand dollars a year. A few months after the marriage, she presented her husband with a daughter, Beatrice. The handsome newlyweds shone brilliantly at all the fashionable clubs, restaurants, and summer resorts. "Quite the Cinderella story," you are undoubtedly thinking.

Read on.

In July 1889, the couple visited Atlantic City. Accompanying them was little Beatrice and the baby's nanny/wet nurse, Mary Donnelly. Unfortunately, tensions began simmering between Mrs. Hamilton and the nurse--for reasons that will become evident later--and the nanny was told her services would no longer be required. On the night of August 26, the Hamiltons got into a flaming row over Eva's demands for an increase in her allowance. Eva became so enraged that she picked up a dagger and lunged at her husband. Donnelly, hearing the clamor, rushed into the room and joined the brawl in Robert's defense.

This was a serious mistake. Eva instantly turned her wrath towards the nanny. "You she devil!" she shouted. "You are the cause of this. You'll never be about me again!" She plunged the dagger into the nanny's body.

Fortunately, Mary Donnelly survived the attack, which is more than one can say for the reputations of Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton. Eva was soon hauled before a grand jury, which led in September to her trial for attempted murder. Eva pleaded that it was a case of self-defense. The nurse, she declared, had attacked her, so what else could she do except thrust a knife into the woman's abdomen? The court proceedings revealed the remarkable details behind the Hamilton marriage, all of which kept newspaper readers agog for weeks.

First of all, calling Mrs. Hamilton a former "burlesque dancer" was a polite euphemism. Her real performances took place in one of New York's many brothels. It was at this establishment that she and Robert first made their acquaintance. Next, it emerged that since the marriage, Eva had been using Robert's money to support her old madam, a Mrs. Swinton, as well as Swinton's son, Joshua Mann. Mann had been Eva's lover before and after her marriage. (The defendant's animosity towards Donnelly evidently arose from the fact that she suspected the nurse of tattling to Hamilton about Eva's adultery.) The trial also revealed many juicy details about Eva's habitual violent temper. (The defense countered this by forcing the injured Nurse Donnelly to admit that she herself had often "mauled" people, had threatened on a number of occasions to kill Mrs. Hamilton, she was drunk at the time of the stabbing, and she had once attacked her husband with an axe.) Allegations were also floated that the Hamilton marriage was invalid. It was said that Eva was really the wife of Joshua Mann, who was, people presumed, likely the real father of baby Beatrice.

As it happened, Beatrice's parentage was even more interesting than that. After the bigamy rumors surfaced, the police brought Mrs. Swinton and her son into headquarters for a friendly chat. Under interrogation, the pair admitted that Eva had never been pregnant at all. It was all a ruse designed to pressure Robert into marrying her.

According to Mann and Swinton, Eva had more trouble finding a fake baby than most women have producing the real thing. A suitable period of time after her marriage, Eva acquired a newborn girl via a cooperative midwife. Sadly, a day or two later the child sickened and died. Eva went running back to the midwife and got a second baby girl. This one also died within a few days. The increasingly exasperated Eva was given a third baby, but this loving pseudo-mother decided the dark-haired child "looked like a Dutch baby." Unacceptable. She returned the baby in disgust. Finally, Eva got her hands on a child who was both healthy enough and non-Dutch enough for her needs. She complained that she had had to pay the midwife $10 for the infant. [Note: Let us pause for a moment to ponder the easy availability of spare bogus babies in 19th century New York]

Upon hearing all this, Robert filed for an annulment. Eva, for reasons known only to herself, was shocked at the news.

At Eva's trial, the testimony of the three participants in the near-fatal fight provided a surprisingly strong case for self-defense. Mrs. Donnelly, it became clear, was more than a match for Godzilla. Courtroom observers predicted an acquittal. However, the many lurid revelations about Eva's past--not to mention present--told heavily against her. She was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison. Many believed it was one of those cases where the jury disregarded the evidence and condemned the defendant on the grounds of violating public morality.

The verdict was an unpopular one, and efforts to secure Eva a pardon were ultimately successful. She was freed in November 1890.

While his annulment suit was still pending, Hamilton went West to escape the scandal. He hoped that while he was away, this unfortunate episode in his personal life would be forgotten, and he could eventually re-enter politics. Hamilton settled in Yellowstone Park, where he opened a hunting lodge with an old friend from Yale, John Sargent. On August 23, 1890, he went on a hunting trip.

He never came back. No sign of him could be found for some days, until a body was found floating in a remote area of the Snake River. The corpse was too decomposed for any definitive identification to be possible, but it was accepted to be that of Robert Ray Hamilton. It was presumed he had accidentally drowned. For reasons unknown, his relatives never had the body shipped to New York for burial, and it was quickly laid in a simple grave. These unusual circumstances kept the newspapers entertained with colorful rumors--still persisting to this day--that the ill-fated blue-blood had faked his own death, seeking to replace his unsatisfactory old life with a new Eva-free existence. One Henry Strong came forward insisting that he had met Hamilton face-to-face in Yellowstone days after the New Yorker was supposedly buried.  There are no other reasons to believe the allegation was true, but if it were, it would be the least nutty thing about this entire story. (For their part, Hamilton's relatives declared they were perfectly satisfied--one is tempted to use the words "absolutely delighted"--that he was dead.) A few years later, when John Sargent, (who had found Hamilton's body,) was indicted for killing his wife and child, speculation arose that he had murdered Hamilton as well, but this story appears to have been equally unfounded.

As Hamilton had not formally divorced Eva at the time of his death (or, if you prefer, "death,") she immediately filed suit for her dower's share of Hamilton's half-million dollar estate. These legal proceedings were enlivened by Eva's reluctant admission that Joshua Mann (described by the lady herself as "practically an idiot") had been her long-time lover, and that she had never given birth. The Hamilton camp countered by seeking to prove that her marriage to Robert had been bigamous, meaning she had no legal claim to his estate.

Although the courts twice ruled that Eva had indeed been married to Mann at the time she went to the altar with Robert Hamilton, she announced that she would not be giving up the fight. Hamilton's executors, feeling that no price would be too high if they could just see the last of her, gave her a cash settlement of $10,000. Unfortunately, this one-time Cinderella did not have a happy ending. Eva quickly squandered her money, took heavily to drink, and died in a New York hospital's charity ward in 1904. She was given a pauper's funeral in Mount Olivet Cemetery. As for little Beatrice, dubbed by the newspapers, "The Ten-Dollar Baby," she was taken in Hamilton's executor, E.R. Vollmer. Despite the revelations about her parentage, Hamilton was genuinely attached to the baby, and generously provided for Beatrice in his will. Unfortunately for the girl, in 1899 the courts ruled that Hamilton's estate did not have to give Beatrice the annuity granted by her "father."  I have been unable to find any further information about her.

Our little domestic tale had one final legal skirmish. In his will, Robert had stipulated that a fountain should be built in his memory. However, his family felt that his was a memory best quickly forgotten, and they opposed the project. Happily, these killjoys lost the battle, and to this day New York's Riverside Park boasts the "Robert Ray Hamilton Fountain." If you're ever in its vicinity, do go by and drop in a coin for me.

Just as my way of saying, "Thanks for the memories, Bob."

Friday, November 25, 2016

Weekend Link Dump

This week's Link Dump is sponsored by the Cats Who Ate Way Too Much On Thanksgiving.

What the hell became of the Greenland Vikings?

Where the hell is Diego Velazquez?

Who the hell was the Babushka Lady?

Watch out for those supernatural sadists!

Watch out for those killer snake wheels!

Watch out for those exploding witch bottles!

The terrier who inspired a children's book.

A brief history of Christmas lights.

A bottle tells of murder and suicide.

A French Crazy Cat Man.

19th century turkey farming.

The mystical world of magic books.

A 17th century bishop's um, unusual mark on history.

Worst Thanksgiving ever?

Second worst Thanksgiving ever?

Just one really weird historical anecdote.

Edward Winslow, the man who gave us Thanksgiving.

Oh, just Vincent Price summoning demons.

Thanksgiving in the early 19th century.

The art of Angelica Kauffman.

A social-climbing housemaid.

Georgian era charity events.

Dante's ghost and his missing cantos.

The Boy Scout and his nuclear reactor.

18th century children's literature.

Fashionable mid-19th century hairstyles.

A recipe for the 18th century version of instant soup.

This week's Advice From Thomas Morris:  What not to do with a toothbrush.

Why you should never insult a squirrel.

Why you should never underestimate a porpoise.

Why you should never take up the profession of sin-eating.

Mysterious inscriptions in a Jordan desert.

The Mars Rover may have found evidence of ancient life.

Midshipmen's WWII journals.

Folklore's influence on modern-day werewolves.

A look at the 18th century "fair sex."

The scientist who specializes in prehistoric sex.

A tragic fossil.

Lifestyle advice from the Aztecs.

The UFO on the moor.

A man with a window in his chest.

A man with a window in his grave.

More conspiracy theories about the Templars and the Ark of the Covenant.

This is something of a companion piece to my Wednesday post about the turkey legal expert.

If you feel like going down a rabbit hole this weekend, here's a very curious side note to that mother of all rabbit holes, the JFK Assassination.

A Russian princess at the London court.

"Sky ships" in Ireland.

The Ordinary of Newgate.

One really old pair of dentures.

Even older bone jewelry.

The death of Zorro.

Alchemical art.

The wonders of Occult Dentistry!

The wonders of visible speech!

The execution of a 15th century wizard.

This week in Russian Weird brings us shape-shifting Yetis.  Just another day in Siberia.

Oh, and their mummified monks are on the move.

And there you go for this week.  See you on Monday, when we'll take another look at marriage, Strange Company style.  In the meantime, you'd like to see a bunch of Japanese nesting dolls playing Beethoven on the theremin, wouldn't you?

Yes, of course you would.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Newspaper Clipping of the Day, Thanksgiving Edition

Turkeys everywhere are now seeking asylum in Ireland.

While this is not a Thanksgiving Day story, this salute to "a wonderful turkey" surely should be part of the holiday season. Admittedly, as a vegan, I'm all for hiring the birds as legal consultants, rather than eating them. From the "Illustrated Police News," July 9, 1870:
At the last Petty Sessions at Newtownards, near Belfast, an amusing case was heard. It was a process brought to recover a sum of money due for the use and occupation of a house at Ballyhay. The plaintiff was examined, and deposed that the defendant left his house without his knowledge or consent, and he now wished to recover the rent due.--Mr. O'Rorke: Were you advised not to bring this case into court, as there was no chance of your winning it? Plaintiff: I was.--His Worship: Who advised him?--Mr. O'Rorke: Tell his worship who gave you this advice.--Plaintiff: The neighbours about the place told me I need not put myself to the trouble of coming here, as I would never receive a farthing of my rent, as the turkey had told them I was a done man. (Loud laughter.)--His Worship: What's that?--Plaintiff: The turkey told them I would lose the case. (Laughter.)--Mr. O'Rorke: And you will find the turkey was right. (Laughter.)--His Worship: And whose turkey is this that gave this legal advice? Plaintiff: It is the turkey kept by the villagers. It is consulted on all questions affecting their interest, and its advice is said never to have failed. (Loud laughter.)--His Worship: This is certainly a wonderful turkey.--Mr. O'Rorke: I never heard of a legal turkey before. (Laughter.)--His Worship: Where did this consultation with the turkey take place regarding your case?--Plaintiff: It usually takes place in the house of the owner.--His Worship: And how is he consulted?--Plaintiff: A meeting of the people takes place in the owner's house. A table is placed in the middle of the floor, and the turkey put upon it. The people then form in a circle round the table, and the person who has called the meeting--the same as the defendant in this case--asks the turkey whether or not such and such a thing will take place. If the turkey answers in favour of the person who asks the question, it will nod its head; and if it is against the person who asks the question, it will shy away. (Laughter, which lasted several minutes, his worship joining.)--His Worship: This is a nice state of affairs in the 19th century. What did the people tell you the turkey said on this occasion?--Plaintiff: The turkey was asked would I lose the case, and it nodded its head. (Loud laughter.)--Mr. Dinnen: But you did not believe in the turkey's advice?--Plaintiff: I did not; I thought I would try his worship.--His Worship: How long has this turkey been consulted in cases of this kind?--Plaintiff: Oh! it has been the case for upwards of twenty years. If you look into Irish history you will find things of this kind recorded there.--Mr. Dinnen: I think this is a case for reference.--Mr. O'Rorke: Very well.--The case was then left to the arbitration of two gentlemen, and on their return into court they stated that they had found in favour of the defendant, and that there was no rent due to the plaintiff.--His Worship: How does that agree with the advice of the turkey?--Mr. Dinnen: It proves that the turkey was right. (Laughter.)--His Worship: I think in future we should refer all disputed cases to the turkey.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Kidnapping of a Champion

While high-profile kidnappings of animals are less frequent than human abductions, they happen more frequently than you might think. Arguably the most famous example is the unsolved disappearance of the magnificent racehorse Shergar.

As a three-year-old in 1981, he won one of the most illustrious races in the world, the Epsom Derby, by 10 lengths--a record winning margin for the event. Later that year, he was named European Horse of the Year, and was retired to stud, where his connections--as well as race fans--earnestly hoped he might duplicate his success on the racetrack in the breeding shed. He was acclaimed as one of the greatest equines of the century.

Shergar was sent to Ballymany Stud farm in his native Ireland. He was not only an intelligent horse, but gentle and good-natured, so he was adjusting well to his new routine. There was no reason to suspect he had anything but a long, placid life ahead of him.

On February 8, 1983, those expectations went horribly, shockingly wrong.

It was a blustery, icy-cold day, so Shergar was kept inside his heated stable for most of the day. After a brief run in his paddock, the horse's 58-year-old "stable boy," Jim Fitzgerald, brought Shergar back to his shed and returned to his house on the farm's grounds, locking the main door of the stable behind him, as always. All was quiet.

No one was around to see a strange car enter Ballymany's main gate, which had been left unguarded on this wickedly cold, foggy, snowy night. Fitzgerald was completely unprepared when he heard a knock on his door. His son, Bernard, opened the door. A masked stranger asked him, "Is the boss in?" Then, without warning, the intruder delivered a blow to the young man's head that left him flat on the floor. Fitzgerald rushed into the room, only to see the man pointing a pistol at him.

Other masked men--Fitzgerald later thought it was eight or so of them--suddenly entered the house, as well. The gunman told him, "We've come for Shergar, and we want £2m for him. Call the police and he's dead."

Fitzgerald was led at gunpoint to Shergar's stable. They forced him to put tack on the horse, and they led the unsuspecting animal to their waiting truck, and drove off with him.  Some of the kidnappers stayed behind, where they trained guns at Fitzgerald's family for several hours. Fitzgerald was shoved into a second vehicle and driven around for three hours before being tossed out on to the road, with a warning not to call police.

The hunt for the prized stallion began with a bizarre game of "Telephone." Fitzgerald reported the crime, not to the police, but to the stud farm's manager, Ghislain Drion. Drion then called Shergar's vet. The vet called a friend, who in his turn called the Irish Finance Minister. This official then contacted the Minister for Justice. It was not until eight hours after Shergar was taken away that anyone thought to inform law enforcement that they had a particularly weird abduction on their hands.

The crime seemed a complete mystery. No one had any clues who had committed this unprecedented and peculiarly revolting crime, let alone any indication of where Shergar could be. People claiming to be the kidnappers eventually contacted several racing journalists, as well as one of the horse's owners, the Aga Khan, to relay their ransom demands. These moves toward negotiation came to nothing. The horse's syndicate never had any intention of paying a dime, reasoning that if they had given in to the criminals' demands, no valuable racehorse in the world would be safe. The BBC and the Irish racehorse trainer Jeremy Maxwell also received anonymous phone calls claiming that Shergar had suffered an "accident" which required him to be euthanized, but authorities suspected the calls were a sick hoax.  After four days, the alleged kidnappers simply stopped calling. And no one for certain has ever seen Shergar--alive or dead--since.

The kidnapping remained an utterly cold case until 1992, when an imprisoned Irish Republican Army leader-turned-informer, Sean O'Callaghan, told the world what had happened to Shergar.

According to O'Callaghan, another IRA member, Kevin Mallon, was given the job of stealing the horse. The plan was merely to hold Shergar for a great deal of money to pay for arms and other expenses. After the ransom was paid, the horse would be returned.

The plan quickly proved disastrous. O'Callaghan said Mallon told him that Shergar, in unfamiliar surroundings and in the hands of inept thugs, became so hysterical that his kidnappers were unable to handle him. In a panic--and quite scared of this huge, dangerously high-strung creature--the terrorists lost their heads completely and machine-gunned their frenzied captive. According to O'Callaghan, this pampered, noble animal died a particularly slow, agonizing death.

The story goes that the IRA gang dug a large pit in the remote mountains near Ballinamore, about a hundred miles from Ballymany. Then, Shergar's corpse was dumped in this hasty, unmarked grave.

This depressing story is considered the most probable explanation for Shergar's disappearance, but it has never been proven. For what it's worth, the IRA has never claimed responsibility for the theft, and O'Callaghan, like many professional rats, has shown himself to be chronically unreliable.

For years after Shergar vanished, there were numerous "sightings" of him reported all over the world. To this day, there are still racetrack folk who say that his kidnappers, once they realized the impossibility of collecting a ransom, merely turned him out to live "incognito" at some private farm or another.

One would certainly like to think this is what happened.

Whatever Shergar's fate may have been, his kidnapping was one of those crimes as utterly pointless as it was cruel. The thieves themselves--whoever they were--never profited from their crime. The companies who had insured the horse refused to pay Shergar's owners, on the grounds that it was never established that the champion was dead. Only those few members of the 34-member syndicate who insured him against theft received any compensation--about $10.6 million, according to Lloyd's.

When talking to a writer for the "Daily Telegraph" in 2008, Jim Fitzgerald still became teary-eyed when remembering the horse he had known and loved so well. "Shergar was a grand horse," he said. "He deserved better."

That is all anyone can say with any certainty about the matter.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Weekend Link Dump

This week's Link Dump is sponsored by the League of Cats Who Just Couldn't Give a Damn.

Why the hell was King Tut's tomb built in such a hurry?

Where the hell is George Washington's sash?

Where the hell are the WWII shipwrecks?

What the hell flew over Lake Ontario?

What the hell caused the killer 1952 London fog?  Now we know?

Watch out for those weasels!

Watch out for those headless horsemen!

Watch out for those murderous jesters!

Watch out for those Italian demon cats!

The elephants of France.

If you're in Myanmar, get a helmet.

The world of the panorama.

Meet the Joneses we're all trying to keep up with.

The tragedy of the lamplighter's wife.

A clairvoyant hunts for a missing explorer.

A Venetian secretary's clemency plea.

A female coterie.

Photos of 1980s Nepal.

A very unlucky roll of the dice.

An attempted murder in Gloucester, 1878.

I know the only reason any of you visit my stupid blog is because you're hoping to learn how to bewitch rats, so here you go.

A village "fatal affray."

The infamous drownings at Nantes.

Tojo's insulting dentures.

So how much did Georgians drink, anyway?

This week's Advice From Thomas Morris:  Don't mess with those 19th century Hungarian soldiers.

Also, don't blow into rifles.

On a more positive note, this week's Advice From Untold Lives tells us how to acquire a pension. Even if we're crooks.

When vanished people reappear.

It didn't pay to pretend to be a Czar's son.

ISIS is still doing its best to make the Nazis look like a Girl Scout troop.

The founding of the Iraq Museum.

What mirrors reflect about us.

That time Britain tried to stop a Dane from exploring Arabia.

On the hazards of traveling through 19th century East Anglia.

A croissant gets its own museum.

Recently-discovered ancient stone structures.

Recently-discovered "lost world of shipwrecks."

A young Queen Victoria visits the theater.

A poisoner's lucky escape.

Modern book reviews are too damn nice.

Extreme bagpiping!

The afterlife of Napoleon III.

The many deaths of Queen Victoria.

A violin-playing WWII hero.

Superstitions involving feathers.

This week in Russian Weird brings us workout videos for the dead.

And we're done!  See you all on Monday, when we'll be looking at a dark mystery from the world of horse racing.  In the meantime, here's some Marshall Crenshaw.