When I heard about the passing of George Michael earlier today, it brought to mind several emails I've received from readers over the past few months, asking "What's up with all the celebrity deaths this year?" From the deaths of David Bowie to Prince, it seems that every day some iconic entertainer is gone away before their time. Some readers wanted to know if perhaps there is some sort of astrological phenomenon at play, or perhaps some mysterious curse.
Of course, since Journal of the Bizarre deals with all things spooky, we were curious ourselves, so we conducted our own scientific study of dead celebrities (which very well may be the first of its kind) to see if there really is anything unusual about 2016. We pored over every celebrity death since 2000-- that's 17 years worth of deceased singers, actors, authors, directors, models, professional athletes, politicians and any one else whose death warranted a mention on the venerable website Deadoraliveinfo.co…
Did Bible Code experts foresee a victory for Donald Trump?
Prophecy is a funny thing. It's one thing to look for signs and codes and hidden messages after an incident has already taken place, but prophecy takes on a different perspective when a prediction was made long before the incident occurs. For instance, many people looked to the prophecies of Nostradamus after the 9/11 attacks and seemingly found "proof" that Nostradamus "foresaw" the terrible event (the proof, of course, being a vaguely worded passage that kind of resembles something that could possibly be construed as a description of what happened). These interpretations are subjective; people fit Nostradamus' vague words to events that have already happened, pointing out similarities to suit their interests. This is what is known as "retroactive clairvoyance", or "postdiction" (as opposed to prediction).
While the quatrains of Nostradamus were all the rage in the 80s and 90s, …
From the Granny Smith to the red delicious, there are hundreds of varieties of apples-- but only one of them recalls the legend of a blood-chilling murder.
This particular variety of apple comes from New England and traces its roots to Norwich, Connecticut. It has fair, firm yellow skin and excellent flavor and each individual apple, when cut in half, exhibits a red speck, like a drop of blood. Known locally as the "Mike" apple, this variety is named after a 17th century farmer named Micah Rood.
Micah was the son of Thomas Rood, one of the earliest settlers of Norwich. As a youth he dutifully tended and cultivated his father's fertile acres but one day his habits changed. He became gloomy and restless and began shirking his duties in favor of whiskey. He lost interest in his work and stopped attending church. He was shunned by his neighbors, many of whom believed that Micah had fallen under a witch's spell.
One spring, after winter melted away and the countryside bu…
If you enjoy Journal of the Bizarre, be sure to visit our sister blog, Pennsylvania Oddities, where we delve into all things odd and peculiar from around the Keystone State. From unsolved murders to haunted places, from lost treasure to mysterious creatures, Pennsylvania Oddities has something for everyone to enjoy!
Here are just a few examples of what Pennsylvania Oddities has to offer:
Of the many odd superstitions from the West Indies, the superstition of Jamaica's river mother, or Rubba Mumma, is perhaps the most famous and bizarre of them all.
While many Jamaicans might scoff at the idea of mermaids, many Jamaicans are adamant in their belief that water nymphs live at the heads of the island's mountain streams. In previous centuries the sources of these streams were considered sacred places; Jamaican plantation slaves persuaded their masters to allow them to sacrifice oxen or other livestock at the head of the waters as an offering to the Rubba Mumma, to ensure good fortune. Owners of sugar plantations gladly went along with this custom, since it was these mountain streams that powered the wheel of their sugar mills. On most sugar plantations a bull or calf was sacrificed annually to ward off droughts.
These sacrifices to the Rubba Mumma continued well into the 20th century, long after the closing of the island's last sugar plantation. In rural regio…
How do we decide which reader-submitted stories to include in our My Strangest Experience series? We like to use a little something we call the tingle test. That's when you read something so spooky that it makes all the tiny hairs on your arms and ears and neck tingle. This story, submitted by a woman from Tennesee named Judy Yannick, definitely passed the test!
During the summer of 1974 my family took its last summer vacation as a family. I had just turned nineteen and would be going away to the University of Tennessee in the fall. My younger brother Barry, who was a few months shy of his eighteenth birthday, had already committed himself to the navy and he, too, would be going away. As we had done every year since I was old enough to remember, we took our shiny Airstream camper to Lake Brownwood State Park in Texas. Located virtually near the state's geographical center, it was a convenient drive from our home in Winchell.
As usual, my parents, Flo and Louis Gotschall, got …