Solving the 1932 Bladenboro Fire-poltergeist Case

January 26, 2016

In 1932, several mysterious fires erupted in a house on Elm Street in the small town of Bladenboro, North Carolina. Police, fire experts, and others were baffled by the outbreaks that occurred over three days in the home of elderly residents Council H. Williamson and his wife Lydia. Beginning on January 30 with a burning curtain and window shade in the dining room, and continuing the next day with a set of bedclothes, a stack of papers stored in a closet, and a hanging pair of trousers, the rash of twenty mysterious fires ended about noon on February 1. Soon, however, the fiery case went cold and, according to an article by, remains unsolved to this day (Tomlin 2016). But that has now changed.

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The Bigfoot Obsession

January 25, 2016

With Joe Gisondi’s Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot (2016), the subtitle says it all. Gisondi, an outsider, traveled with Bigfooters, those credulous folk motivated to search for the fabled creature despite zero scientific evidence for its existence. At times he sounds like a skeptic: “How could creatures presumed to be so large remain so elusive?” (77). At other times he seems a believer: “. . . I felt something watching me” (37). He is, in fact, a journalist trying to be objective and show both sides: “As always I straddle the world of what could be and what is” (42).

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See “The Real ‘X-Files’”

January 11, 2016

By now you have perhaps learned of the online video by Vice Media, The Real “X-Files?” in which I star as “the real-life Scully” (as in Agent Dana Scully from the popular TV series and film).

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“Concussion”: A Nickell-odeon Review

December 29, 2015

Concussion soon reveals how the Big Business and fans of an American craze respond to a medical interloper who would cost them money (and fun).

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Haunting Tales: Folklore or—?—

December 16, 2015

I am often struck by how careless are the writers of those endlessly proliferating articles and books promoting belief in ghosts and hauntings.

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“Spotlight”: A Nickell-odeon Review

December 02, 2015

Here it is at last, the film about priests’ child sexual abuse in Boston—and its cover-up by the Catholic church—seen from the vantage point of the Boston Globe reporters who broke the story.

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“Suffragette”: A Nickell-odeon Review

November 25, 2015

Suffragette is the story of oppressed women seeking the right to vote in early twentieth-century Britain.

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“He Named Me Malala”: A Nickell-odeon Review

November 13, 2015

The documentary He Named Me Malala is of course the story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen who fought for girls to be educated just like boys, and refused to be intimidated by the fascistic Taliban who in 2012 shot her in the head.

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Pueblo Kachina Dolls

November 02, 2015

The Kachinas are powerful supernatural beings in the spiritual life of the Native American Hopi and Zuni Pueblo peoples. Kachina wooden dolls are given to children, not as playthings but as treasured objects to help them identify the many different kachinas. (Shown here are Hopi dolls from the author’s collection, made by Indian craftmen.)

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Beware Urgent “IRS” Calls

October 23, 2015

At 12:09 p.m., Thursday, September 18, 2015, my answering machine recorded an urgent message from the IRS:

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