Category Archives: Other Oddities

Salem Witch Execution Site Found

Gallows Hill, Salem, 1861, Witch Trials

Never before have I dedicated a post to an article I didn’t write, but this one is right up my alley–probably up yours, too, if you read this blog regularly. The site where 19 victims were executed during the Salem witch trials has been confirmed. Here’s an excerpt from the Salem News article:

The Gallows Hill Project prepared a series of questions and answers explaining how they confirmed Proctor’s Ledge as the execution site for accused witches.

How did they pin down the site?

Marilynne Roach discovered a few key lines of eyewitness testimony in a Salem witch trials court record from Aug. 19, 1692. … The record quotes the defendant Rebecca Eames, who had been on her way to the court in the custody of her guards and traveled along the Boston Road, which ran just below the execution site.

A few hours later, she appeared the Salem court for her preliminary examination. The magistrate asked Eames whether she had witnessed the execution that took place earlier that morning as she was passing by. She explained that she was at “the house below the hill” and that she saw some “folks” at the execution. Roach determined that the “house below the hill” was most likely the McCarter House, or one of its neighbors on Boston Street. The McCarter house was still standing in 1890 at 19 Boston St.


Read the rest of the article here! (No, seriously, do it–it’s awesome.)


Animal Kingdom: Where Gazelle Prance and Elephants Hump

I have to make this post a short one, which is a shame since Animal Kingdom was my favorite of all the Disney Parks. Here are just a few of the things I was able to do there:

  1. Eat samosas.
  2. See a cheetah get an endoscopy.
  3. Go on a wilderness safari, during which I saw two elephants humping. (The tour guide claimed they were just playing, but I know humping when I see it.)
  4. Pet goats.
  5. Almost get grabbed by a yeti.
  6. Feel bugs crawl under my butt.
It's Tough to Be a Bug, Animal Kingdom, Disney World

It may be “tough to be a bug,” but it’s also no picnic getting a glute massage from an acorn weevil.

In terms of my amateur data collection, I overheard some really creepy things and saw some truly confounding shirts. Here’s the breakdown:


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Christmas Overload: Hooray for Hollywood (Studios)

I imagine I’ve mentioned this before, but just in case I haven’t: I’ve got ADHD. The condition comes with all the stereotypical symptoms–I’m hyper, I’m impulsive, I draw pictures of myself juggling eggs when I’m supposed to be paying attention in class…

Joanna Lesher juggling eggs

Exhibit A.

…but it also comes with some that are less well-known. For example, I’m easily overwhelmed. Which is why parts of Hollywood Studios were too much for me.

Imagine some lights. Now imagine some more. Imagine five million of them. Imagine they dance and change colors in time with festive Christmas songs. Imagine one of those songs is pop-punk band Less Than Jake’s Geneva-Convention-violating cover of “I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ for Christmas.” Imagine soap is raining from the sky. Finally, imagine all of this is happening while you’re shoulder-to-shoulder and ass-to-front with tens of thousands of other tourists, and you’ll have a fairly good grasp on the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights.

It’s gorgeous, don’t get me wrong. But after a few songs, I had to sit down on the ground, close my eyes and ears, and focus on something else (like how much I wanted to give Less Than Jake “nuttin'” for Christmas).

Less Than Jake, Nuttin' for Christmas

They have it coming.

It wasn’t all overwhelming, though. Most of Hollywood Studios was pretty righteous. For example…

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Finding Religion: Epcot, Disney’s Christian Hotspot

I don’t know what it is about Epcot, but people there sure are Christian. How else to explain the five Christian pop-culture parody shirts we saw, in comparison to the zero we saw at Magic Kingdom?

You know the kind of shirts I’m talking about. If you grew up in an evangelical family, you probably wore the kind of shirts I’m talking about. The designers will use the Facebook logo, only it will say “FAITHBOOK” and ask if you’ll accept Jesus’ friend request; or they’ll use the Mountain Dew font to spell out “Jesus MEANT TO DIE for you!” (lest you think he did it on accident).



Given the popularity of The Force Awakens, perhaps it’s no surprise that the most popular Christian t-shirt at Epcot was a Star Wars parody reading: “MAY THE LORD BE WITH YOU.”


Why is Jesus Darth Vader in this picture? (fineartamerica)

Fortunately for me and my irrational distaste for matching family vacation t-shirts, there were a lot fewer of those than at Magic Kingdom. Maybe all the Jesus shirts warded them off. If that’s the case, I need to start going to church again.

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Disney by the Numbers: The Magic Kingdom

I visited Disney World for the first time over the holidays and decided to do a little amateur data gathering. Not about crowd size or ride capacity or anything substantive like that–no, as with everything I do, the study veered sharply toward the stupid. Here are the categories I investigated:

  • Kids: Worst Kid, Best Kid, Crying Kids, Kids on Leashes, Oldest Kid in a Stroller, Most Kids in a Single Stroller, Kids in Princess Costumes
  • Adults: Adults Having Tantrums, Overdressed Adults, Most Adults on a Single Mobility Scooter, Adult on a Mobility Scooter Who Very Clearly Does Not Need a Mobility Scooter
  • Miscellaneous: Minions Shirts, Christian Shirts, Matching Family Shirts, Stupid Shirts, Funniest Thing Overheard

And here are the results for The Magic Kingdom: Continue reading

Uncanny Erratic: The Spooky Majesty of Agassiz Rock

1870s stereoview, Little Agassiz Rock

“Something weird happened here”–I wish there was a single word to describe that feeling, or a simple explanation of where it comes from. The scientific part of me wants to chalk it up to an eerie atmosphere combined with the unrivaled ability of the human imagination to spew spooky bullshit. The paranormal enthusiast part of me, meanwhile, wants to hide under the covers and spin theories about undocumented slaughters in antediluvian ages.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s look at some cool rocks.

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Ruins in the Woods: The Abandoned Estate of Frederick Law Olmsted

An entrance gate to the one-time estate of architect Frederick Law Olmsted.

An entrance gate to the one-time home of architect Frederick Law Olmsted.

I can’t remember the name of the place, or even how we got there.

I realize that may dissatisfy some of my readers, but it’s the truth. I wasn’t paying much attention when I drove out to the woods with my cousin and her friend a few weeks ago. I didn’t know there was anything to pay attention to. As far as I’d been told, we were simply killing time by taking a stroll through a beautiful–but otherwise unremarkable–New England nature preserve.

It was only forty minutes into our walk that my cousin’s friend turned to me and asked: “Do you want to see the abandoned mansion?

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