British romance novelist Ida Cook (1904-1986) wrote over a hundred books for Mills & Boon under the name Mary Burchell
, including the thirteen-book, opera-focused Warrender saga
. The passion she and her sister, Louise Cook, shared for opera carried them across oceans and countries in the years prior to the outbreak of WWII, and when Ida took account of her writing career's financial success, she was by struck by a "terrible, moving and overwhelming thought--I could save life with it." So beginning in 1937, she and Louise helped save dozens of lives by entering Germany disguised as themselves: eccentric opera fanatics. Louise Carpenter's "Ida and Louise"
looks into the lives of these two sisters, these "lives which swung dizzyingly between the purest fantasy and the utterly real." [more inside]
posted by mixedmetaphors
on Jul 31, 2014 -
How New World Wine Resurrects Old Religion
I used to be a regular at a wine bar in San Clemente, a beach town in California where my wife and I lived when we were first married. The ‘Tuscan’ decor of the place was a little too vivid for my taste, but the wine was priced right and the owner was a great conversationalist. He would tell us stories from behind the bar about his travels to vineyards in Chile and New Zealand, and he had a charming populist streak. When people got too pretentious about the wine, he would roll his eyes and say: ‘Relax, it’s just a beverage.’
He was wrong about that, of course. Since its invention more than 8,000 years ago, wine has always been more than just a beverage.
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Jul 16, 2014 -
Ehrich Weisz may not have had much formal education
, but he grew up to be Harry Houdini, self-educated stunt performer, escape artist, and owner of "one of the largest libraries in the world on psychic phenomena, Spiritualism, magic, witchcraft, demonology, evil spirits, etc., some of the material going back as far as 1489." Houdini bequeathed much of his collection to the Library of Congress
, which received 3,988 volumes from his collection in 1927, including a number of magic books inscribed or annotated by well-known magicians. Archive.org has more of the Harry Houdini Collection online
. He also put a great deal of research into his tricks, as seen in his letter to Dr. W. J. McConnell, a physiologist at the U.S. Bureau of Mines
, written up after Houdini's watery grave stunt
posted by filthy light thief
on Dec 3, 2012 -
One of the hottest authors of the 1910s had been dead for over 200 years before she ever published a word. Patience Worth
, as channeled through the ouija board of St. Louis housewife Pearl Curran, published several novels
and scores of poems
before the death of her link to the material world in 1937.
posted by Horace Rumpole
on Sep 14, 2010 -
About 2% of the US population died while serving in the military during the US Civil War, roughly equivalent to about six million people today. A few years after the war the best selling book at 100,000 copies was Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
' The Gates Ajar
, which deals mainly with heaven and what exactly happens there. Spoilers follow. [more inside]
posted by shothotbot
on Jan 27, 2010 -
He sees dead people.
(NYT link) John Edward, host of Sci Fi channel's "Crossing Over", can "read" his audience and pass messages from the deceased. Or is it just like a game of 20 questions? After a few questions he can make guesses and be close enough to right that people believe it. Have you ever seen the show, and do you believe him? Have you ever been read by a psychic? Do you have psychic powers yourself?
posted by msacheson
on Jul 31, 2001 -
Belief in Astrology up 3% to 28% and belief in ghosts up 13% to 38%. I find the new Gallup Poll
on Americans' Belief in Psychic and Paranormal Phenomena depressing, but not surprising. Aren't we supposed to be headed in the other direction?
posted by quirked
on Jun 8, 2001 -