The Wow! Signal May Have Finally Been Solved, And It’s Probably Not Aliens

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It’s been one of the great unexplained space mysteries for decades: A sequence of six numbers and letters which, when taken together, represent a radio signal so astonishing that the first word that came to mind to the astronomer who discovered it was simply, “Wow!” That’s what Jerry Ehman wrote in the margin of the data sheet on which the sequence had been recorded — and now, it seems the Wow! signal may have finally been solved.

Alas, though, if this new explanation is correct… well, you might want to brace yourself for some disappointment.

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‘Mommy Dead And Dearest’: Further Reading On Gypsy Rose Blancharde, Dee Dee Blancharde, And Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy

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I jettisoned cable a couple of years ago, so sometimes I miss what’s going on in the world of broadcast television. As such, I didn’t realize that HBO was airing a documentary about Gypsy Rose Blancharde and the killing of her mother, Dee Dee Blancharde, until after it had already happened. I’m quite familiar with the case already, having been following it for almost two years now; however, word on the street is that Mommy Dead and Dearest, directed by Erin Lee Carr, is quite an exceptional examination of the story, so I’m looking forward to giving it a watch once I’m able to get my hands on it.

In the week since the documentary aired, it’s occurred to me that it might be useful to put together a roundup of further reading (and listening, in one case) for those interested in finding out more about the case. If that’s you, then you might find the below worth a look.

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The Body Of Serial Killer H. H. Holmes Will Be Exhumed, Laying To Rest Whether The Devil In The White City Faked His Own Death

I’m a little late to the party on this one, but it’s too good to pass up, so here we are: A team of researchers is about to exhume the body of H. H. Holmes. Holmes, whose real name was Herman Webster Mudgett, was born in Gilmanton, New Hampshire on May 16, 1861; he would go on to become one of the most notorious serial killers of all time, dispatching his victims in an intricate death trap of a building in Chicago, Ill. known as the “Murder Castle” during the years surrounding the 1893 World’s Fair. Holmes was caught on Nov. 17, 1894 in Boston, Mass., tried in October of 1895 for the murder of Benjamin Pitezel, found guilty and sentenced to death — at which point he confessed to 27 murders, although only nine have been verified — and executed by hanging on May 7, 1896. However, a rumor has persisted for more than a century that Holmes didn’t actually die in 1896 — that he somehow escaped the hangman’s noose, faking his own death and running away to South America. With the exhumation, his descendants are hoping to put the rumor to rest once and for all, and honestly, I can’t blame them. I mean, how bananas must it be to know that you’re related to H. H. Holmes?

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The ‘Rabbits’ Podcast From The Creators Of ‘The Black Tapes’ & ‘Tanis’ Wants To Play A (Probably Dangerous) Game With You

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So, hey, guess what? The folks behind The Black Tapes Podcast and Tanis have a new podcast for us. Called Rabbits, it debuted today on Pacific Northwest Stories’ sister network, the Public Radio Alliance. It features a new voice, that of producer Carly Parker, whose bio tells us cut her teeth at PRA as an intern in college and who later worked for the network as an associate producer; we’ll also probably hear some other voices with which we’re already familiar, like Nic Silver’s.

Here’s the description from the Rabbits site:

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The Remains Of Jacob Wetterling, Missing Since 1989, Have Been Found, Drawing To A Sad Close A 27-Year-Old Mystery

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Bittersweet news today: The remains of Jacob Wetterling,  a Minnesota boy who has been missing since 1989, have been identified, drawing an almost 27-year-old mystery to a close. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the remains were found on Sept. 1, 2016 on a farm in Paynesville, Minn., which is located about 30 miles away from Jacob’s hometown of St. Joseph; the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office confirmed on Saturday that according to dental records, the remains belong to Jacob. Further DNA testing will be carried out by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in the coming weeks.

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Land Of Oz Amusement Park At Beech Mountain, NC Will Be Open Fridays In June During The Summer Of 2016

Tucked away atop Beech Mountain in North Carolina is a tiny town that bears the same name as the mountain that houses it. The population is small — only several hundred people — and besides the fact that Beech Mountain is geographically the highest town in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, making it a good spot for skiing, there isn’t much else to draw people there. It does, however, have something completely unique that’s worth visiting — as long as you can get in, that is. Your next opportunity is coming up soon, too: The Land of Oz theme park will be open on weekends in June in 2016, so if you’ve always wanted to see it, now would be the time to get planning.

Land of Oz isn’t precisely abandoned, which is why I’ve never included it in any of the editions of “Abandoned” I’ve written over the past several years. However, it’s also not fully functional, opening only for very brief periods at a few key points during the year. One of those times is during the fall, for the annual Autumn at Oz festival; and one is during the summer for select weekends. These events have been running since roughly the late ‘90s, and now they’re a much-beloved part of Beech Mountain’s cultural landscape.

The Wizard of Oz-themed park first opened in 1970, the creation of Jack Pentes and Grover Robbins, who had previously seen success with his Tweetsie Railroad park in Blowing Rock, NC (which, by the way, is still open today).  The idea was to make Beech Mountain not just a ski resort, but a year-round attraction, with visitors interacting with the story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as if they had stepped right into Dorothy’s silver shoes (or ruby slippers, depending on whether you’re following the book’s mythology or the movie’s). There weren’t rides in the traditional sense; the park was more of a walk-through experience hinging on the source material’s emotional journey.

Robbins sadly passed away shortly before the opening of Land of Oz, although the park operated for 10 years. Hard times, however, caused Land of Oz to close in 1980, and for many years thereafter, it existed in a state of disrepair, vandalized and with key elements stripped from the property by trespassers.

In 1990, though, a project called Emerald Mountain was launched, and in the decades since, Emerald Mountain has restored Land of Oz — although these days, it’s less of a theme park and more of “an enchanting private garden,” as Emerald Mountain’s website puts it. Dorothy’s farm and the gazebo have been brought back to their former glory; water-based elements of the park’s landscaping — fountains, waterfalls, and the like — have been made operational again; and the yellow brick road has been put back in order. You can rent the place for weddings and parties, and again, for a handful of moments throughout the year, the park is open to the general public for a relatively inexpensive price of admission — usually around $12, plus a $10 ticket for the ski lift to the property, which must be purchased separately.

This year, Land of Oz presents Journey With Dorothy, with tours occurring on June 3, 10, 17, and 24 — all Fridays — on the half-hour every hour from 10:30am to 3:30pm. Tickets are $12.50, plus the aforementioned $10 lift ticket; they’re limited, though, so you’d better move fast. The flora and fauna have grown a little wild, so be warned that the park’s pathways aren’t super accessible — but I mean, come on. It’s Oz. Who wouldn’t want to check that out?

Head over to Emerald Mountain’s website for more about the history of the park and to the official Land of Oz website for more about Journey With Dorothy. Just follow the…

…Well, you know how it goes.

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