Volo vs. Ouija

Here’s one I didn’t know – in the early days of the Ouija board, a Chicago company made a clone called the Volo and tried to take over the talking board market.

Troy sent me this link.

The ouija company seems to have put them out of business as part of their legal work – they must have had one heck of a legal team. At one point, they even tried to claim that the boards were not toys, but religious tools, and, hence, should not be subject to taxation. They lost, though.

Halloween cartoons

, I’ve revamped, revised, and expanded halloweenspecials.net, my website about Halloween TV specials and cartoons. It now features a LOT of actual video and has been expanded a bit. I’ll keep adding onto it over the next few weeks; are their any good specials that I missed?

In other news:
The Ghost Tours are filling up fast for October!
– The ghost hunting book I’m doing for Llewellyn Press is nearly done. I think it’ll be out in Spring/Early Summer of next year.
– The Weird Chicago book is working its way into stores; many area stores have ordered copies.
– my new middle grade book, I PUT A SPELL ON YOU, a spelling bee story based on Watergate, came out last week, and is available all over – Barnes and Noble usually has copies on the shelf.
– Troy tells me he does have a source on the “hand of Frank LEavy” story that at least confirms that it wasn’t made up by the people I THOUGHT might made it up – stay tuned!

Hot Dogs!

Cross-posted from dragitthroughthegarden.com.

Finally, there’s a GOOD place to get a proper Chicago-style hot dog in West Town!

Rockstar Dogs, on Chicago and Ashland, deserves to be in the Weird Chicago book (as it will be) for two reasons right off the bat: for one thing, it’s thought to be the narrowest-eat-in restaurant in the city. Years ago, when Ashland street was widened, the already-narrow building was chopped in half. For another, it’s probably the only hot dog place in town that boasts its own stripper pole. If not, it’s certainly the only one you’d want to eat at.

Rockstar Dogs are new to the Chicago scene, but deserve to take their place among the new generation of Chicago dog icons. While the all-hot-dog menu isn’t as wildly original as Hot Doug’s, one doesn’t get the sense that these guys are trying to be quite like Doug – this is a hot dog joint with attitude. A sign on the menu specifies that ketchup is not allowed unless you’re under 13 (the fastest way to a Chicago dog connoisseur’s heart), the decor is mainly rock photos by Philin Phlash, whose work also adorns much of The Liar’s Club, and the place is open until the wee small hours of the night. The logo features a woman in a bikini holding a hot dog in one hand and a bottle marked “XXX” in the other.

Given the style of the place, the food almost seems like an afterthought, but it turns out to be fantastic. The Chicago-style dogs are perfectly executed, well constructed, and wonderfully tasty. The fries, which come with every dog, are well above average, as well. To top it all off, each one comes with a guitar pick. Another true Chicago original. http://www.rockstar-dogs.com


In the process of digging up information for our upcoming book, we’ve ended up with more on certain subjects than we can possibly fit. For instance, we have upwards of a thousand pages worth of contemporary documents about the H.H. Holmes Murder Castle alone in our files!

Therefore, we’ll soon be introducing the Weird Chicago Presents series – a series of smaller books that will be available both in print and as ebooks. Stay tuned!

Don’t poke the bear.

I would like to share with you all a very funny and personal moment from one of our tours last night.

Now let me preface this by saying that Adam is one of the funniest guys I have ever met and has an intrinsic need to be a smartass. In fact “professional smartass” is on his business card. Adam also has a profound respect for all religions.

We were giving our “Bloody Chicago” true crime tour which both Adam and myself were hosting and we were just coming from the Richard Speck mass murder site when we came across the Mosque that is best known for being the home spiritual center of the Nation of Islam and the honorable Louis Farakhan. There was also a large convention in town which happened to include a fair number of that denomination. Outside the mosque there were a number of dour looking fellows in suits with bow ties and hats that had a 1950s look about them talking to other African American people, handing out literature and selling bean pies. Now this will sound like stereotyping but most members of the Nation of Islam are not known for their profound sense of humor. A stoplight at that intersection haulted our progress down the road and Adam noticed these guys. You could tell he had thoughts of something funny to say, got a twinkle in his eye, opened the door to the bus and leaned out while pointing a finger in the air as he was ready to say something smartassical to the Fruits of Islam. As he did this I simply said, “Close the door white devil.” He got a grin and closed the door.

When you see a bear in a cage, no matter how fun it would be, don’t poke the bear.