October 31, 2010
October 29, 2010
October 28, 2010
I love a good ghost story. So imagine how thrilled I was to discover eight tales of real life hauntings on author Corinne May Botz’s website. (You can listen to them here.) The site also features photos of buildings that are said to house spirits. Having listened to a few of the stories, I can’t wait to get my hands on Botz’s new book, Haunted Houses.
October 27, 2010
It was the Swinging Sixties, and you were the most fashionable girl in London. Every night you went out on the town to dance and be wooed by Beetles, Bonds, and various members of the ruling class. Your family called you the wild child. Your mother fainted the first time she saw your collection of miniskirts. Your father swore you were doomed to a life of depravity the day you dropped out of university.
And yet, no matter how hard you seemed to party, you always made it to work on time the next day. You were a nurse in the office of a noted veterinarian. His clients were a “Who’s Who” of the English aristocracy, and his practice had always been successful. But once you came along, every dog in London seemed to come down with a cold.
When the animals arrived at the office, you took them from their owners and led them to an examination room. It was a short walk, but you had plenty of time to perform your real function. Tiny listening devices were hidden in the collars of new dogs. Dogs returning had their “bugs” either replaced or removed.
You’d been recruited by MI5 in your first year at Cambridge. And your miniskirts had had nothing to do with it. The spies were looking for a serious young woman with a love of animals and flair for electronics. You fit the bill perfectly.
MI5 had learned that someone close to the Duke of Edinburgh was slipping secrets to the Soviets. Embarrassing secrets that might be used to blackmail the royal family. The roster of suspects was long, and the names on the list belonged to some of the most respected men in Britain. MI5 didn’t dare bug their homes. So they’d decided to bug their beloved dogs instead.
Without your technical expertise, however, the plan would have never made it off the ground. The transmitters the MI5 engineers had built were much too bulky to hide in a dog collar. You designed, delivered, and personally positioned the bugs that managed to get the job done.
The spies were caught, but their names remain classified. As for the secrets they’d planned to send to Moscow, let’s just say that the Queen and her family owe you a big one.
October 26, 2010
October 25, 2010
(Above: Could this be YOU?)
So we’ve had quite a few new visitors in recent days! In case any of you are interested in playing our little “game,” here’s how to do it. Every few days, I’ll put up a post with the title THE NEXT VOLUNTEER WILL BE . . . The first person to comment on the post will receive a past life reading!
Here are the instructions for entering!
Send me a picture of yourself–one you feel captures your personality–and I will tell you who you were in a previous life. Do I have the credentials to be offering this kind of service? No. But I suspect I may have a special talent for peering into the past. Let’s see what you think.
Here are the rules . . .
1. Send ONE photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. (The picture and the story will be published here.)
2. Title your email, “Who was I?” (This is important. I get a lot of mail, and I wouldn’t want to miss your note.)
3. Do not give me any additional information about yourself.
4. You can’t complain about your past life. You probably weren’t Cleopatra. (Although who knows?)
October 25, 2010
In the 1780s, your father opened a pastry shop in Paris, one block from the Seine. He was said to make the best mille-feuille in all of France, and the store was an instant success. But it wasn’t until you joined him in the kitchen that the patisserie began creating the desserts that would make it legendary.
You could bake with the best of them, but it wasn’t your cooking that brought you fame. The Revolution had begun. The aristocracy was no longer gorging on pastries, and no one wanted to be seen eating cake. Your father’s business was in serious trouble. Then one day, a handsome young man ducked into your shop. Your father was busy with the mille-feuille, so you stepped up to the counter to take the gentleman’s order.
He wanted to purchase a custom-made cake. He didn’t care about flavor or icing. He wanted to know if you could bake a secret message inside—a single word that would be revealed when the cake was cut in half.
You knew he was trouble. But you couldn’t resist. It’s possible that you believed in his cause. Though, at the time, you probably just thought he was cute. (You’d spent too much time baking to know much about politics.) Or perhaps you were looking for way to challenge your culinary skills. Whatever the reason, you joined the Revolution.
You taught yourself how to bake secret messages into cakes. How to hide keys in the gooey center of pastries. And how to plant a weapon inside a Buche de Noel. With your assistance, your handsome young friend grew famous. (And pastries became all the rage again.) You wisely decided to remain in the shadows.
The Terror started in 1793. Your boyfriend was too popular, and the men who now ran France had a guillotine with his name on it. Their soldiers watched his every move. He was hours away from arrest and days away from losing his head when you hatched the plan that would save his life. You baked a wedding cake just large enough for him to curl up inside.
Your boyfriend entered your shop and you emerged moments later. Two workers loaded a large cake into a carriage. You and the cake left under the soldiers’ noses, bound for a church outside the city. And safety.
When the people of Paris learned of your trickery, you became a celebrity overnight. Your father’s shop made a fortune. But you never knew of your fame. While your name was on every Parisian’s lips, you and your new husband were on a boat bound for America.
October 25, 2010
(Art by Nicolas Lampert and Micaela O’Herlihy)
From the Onion.
October 24, 2010
October 22, 2010
Does this day feel particularly special to you? Yes, I know it’s your birthday. What you might not realize is that it’s been your birthday five lives in a row. You’ve lived in feudal Japan, fourteenth century Finland, Timbuktu during the Songhay Empire, and early twentieth century Las Vegas. But you’ve always arrived on earth on October twenty-second.
It all goes back to Japan. In the twelfth century, you were the wife of a legendary samurai. Though your name has been lost to history, in your time you were almost as well known as your husband. While he was away (and he was often away), you used your wit and your wiles to grow the family fortune. And you never hesitated to defend that fortune with a deadly naginata. Though you were young, people traveled for miles to seek your council on issues that ranged from animal husbandry to the proper treatment of carbuncles. There seemed no limit to your wisdom.
Over time, however, you became unhappy. You were anxious to settle down properly (perhaps even start a family), but your husband was never at home. (The wives of other samurai often took such matters into their own hands. But you adored your husband and never dreamed of betraying him.) The letters you sent to the battlefields of Japan would have made the Emperor himself shed a tear. At last, your husband promised to return.
No matter what happened, his last letter read, he would meet you on your birthday. October 22.
I think you know where this is going. He didn’t get there. And you died of a broken heart. But this isn’t a story with a tragic ending. You both remembered what day you were meant to meet. So you’ve both returned to earth on October 22. (And the universe has made sure that the years match up.) You’ve found each other in three lives so far. I hope you’ve found each other in this one. (If not, just wait.)