Winchester House San Jose California

Crooked House

Not the Agatha Christie novel, but those who have read the Stephen King story Rose Red will find this piece of architectural confusion vaguely familiar.

The story begins in Connecticut when heiress and widow Sarah Winchester consulted a spiritualist for advice following a depression brought on from the deaths of her only daughter in 1866, her father-in-law in 1880 and her husband, wealthy gun magnate William Winchester, in 1881. She had assumed that the Winchester family was cursed from the deaths that had occurred.

The medium she consulted was reputedly psychic and told Sarah Winchester that the family were indeed cursed — by the spirits of the people killed by the Winchester rifle. The medium advised her to move west and build a new house for herself and the spirits.

The twist was that if Sarah Winchester was to ever halt construction on the house, she would also die. Continue reading “Crooked House”

Friedrich III of Germany

What If Friedrich III Had Lived?

Historically, Friedrich III was already terminally ill with cancer when he ascended the throne in 1888 and died 99 days thereafter.

He was married to Princess Victoria, eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and held Great Britain in high regard (half of his personal medical staff was British).

Friedrich was on excellent terms with his parents-in-law; took rather liberal views and there are indications that he wished to turn the German Empire into a constitutional monarchy modeled after the British. Continue reading “What If Friedrich III Had Lived?”

Canal Defense Light artwork

Scatter! Britain’s Secret Tank Weapon

From a narrow slit in the thick steel hide of the British tank a light burst out. The blinding 13-million candlepower light pierced the darkness when a moment later the solid beam of light changed on the command of “Scatter!”

Reaching into the inky night the shaft of light began to strobe. It dazzled and disoriented the enemy who unwisely tried to take aim at its brilliant flicking beam. With the adversary illuminated and confused, the tank rolled through the countryside ready to finish off their foe. Continue reading “Scatter! Britain’s Secret Tank Weapon”

Clark Gable Joan Crawford

Tobacco’s Golden Era

This shows Hollywood stars Clark Gable and Joan Crawford indulging in a cigarette in the 1934 film Chained.

Despite the many health risks associated with smoking tobacco, in the Golden Era, cigarette smoking was a fashion statement that showed the smoker to be a classy person. Indeed, many a student bedroom is adorned with the iconic photograph of Audrey Hepburn with cigarette holder clinched betwixted gloved fingers.

Continue reading “Tobacco’s Golden Era”
A7V Sturmpanzerwagen

A7V Sturmpanzerwagen

Whenever a new technology is introduced, whether on the battlefield or at home, there is always a brief period when inventors, unfamiliar with the new concepts, begin experimenting with designs and plans, trying to push innovation to the limit. While these experiments occasionally produce useful results, the great majority end up on the scrap heap of history.

One such forgotten experiment was the A7V Sturmpanzerwagen, an early German attempt at creating a battle-ready tank. Continue reading “A7V Sturmpanzerwagen”

RMS Mauretania

RMS Mauretania

On July 28, 1938, at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, England, the flagship of the new Cunard White Star Line was launched. In honor of the proud and record-breaking vessel that served Cunard between 1906 and 1934, this ship was christened Mauretania and — like her predecessor — destined to become a favorite among transatlantic travelers because of her speed and luxury.

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Carnival of Venice Italy

The Carnival of Venice

The Venetian Carnival evokes thoughts of a centuries-old tradition of lavish celebration. A seemingly timeless event, with it roots in the thirteenth century, the carnival is known the world over for its elaborate costumes; as a playground for the nobility, the wealthy and the common man alike; a time of celebration, dancing, gambling, intrigue and just plain old craziness of every kind imaginable.

A more perfect backdrop for a steampunk story seems hard to imagine.

Continue reading “The Carnival of Venice”