The Quick 10: 10 Famous Uses of the Ouija Board

The Ouija Board was one of my favorite slumber party games when I was a kid. I know – some people would say that it’s certainly not a game. Look what happened to Regan in The Exorcist, after all. I haven’t used one in years, but maybe I should – several famous writers made very good livings off of their work with a Ouija Board. Here are their stories and a few others.

1. Sylvia Plath wrote Dialogue over a Ouija Board in 1957. It is, as you might suspect, her results from a session with the board. She also wrote a poem about the phenomenon.
2. After Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 crashed into the Florida Everglades in 1972, John G. Fuller wrote a book about it called The Ghosts of Flight 401. Employees of Eastern Air Lines reported seeing the ghos
ts of pilot and co-pilot Bob Loft and Don Repo around the company, and the ghosts of the 10 deceased flight attendants kept showing up on another plane. The theory was that parts from Flight 401 were salvaged and used in the only other Lockheed L-1011 the company owned. Anyway, Fuller used the Ouija Board and a medium to contact the spirits to write his book.

3. Even Pulitzer Prize winners have consulted the Ouija. Poet James Merrill extensively used the board to write his work, including 1982’s The Changing Light at Sandover, which was a 560-page epic consisting of messages from fellow poet W.H. Auden, friends Maya Deren and Maria Mitsotaki, and no less than the Archangel Michael.

4. Alice Cooper once claimed that he got his stage name from using the Ouija Board. Vincent Furnier consulted the board, which told him he was the reincarnation of a 17th-century witch named Alice Cooper. He adopted the name as his own, and there you have it. True or not, it’s a good tale.

5. Perhaps one of the most famous uses of the Ouija Board happened in 1917, when a Missouri author named Emily Grant Hutchings published a book titled Jap Herron, which she claimed was dictated to her via the Ouija Board by her acquaintance Mark Twain. Skeptics said the book was such crap there was no way Twain would have written such a thing, dead or not.

6. It’s no surprise that Hutchings was good friends with Pearl Curran, who became famous for her Ouija-dictated books. Curran supposedly co-wrote with a Puritan woman named Patience Worth, a prolific lady who wrote multiple novels and many, many poems before Pearl Curran died in 1937. Patience, of course, was kind enough to let Pearl know that her demise was imminent.

7. William Butler Yeats didn’t use a board, exactly, but took advantage of his wife’s channeling abilities (she was a medium) to write A Vision through her automatic writing. Same concept as the Ouija, but it involves a spirit actually coming through the medium’s hand and scribbling down notes instead of spelling out cryptic messages on a lettered board.
8. Bill Wilson may have turned from one addition to another when he eschewed alcohol but picked up a pretty bad Ouija habit. The co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous had a “spook room” set up in his house where he would contact spirits that helped him with his alcoholism. One of the spirits, he claimed, was a 15th century monk named Boniface. He even acknowledged in his autobiography that he used the Ouija Board to create the program’s famous 12 steps.

9. You probably wouldn’t catch most politicians admitting that they used a Ouija Board, but that’s what former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi did when he was asked, under oath, how he knew where previous Prime Minister Aldo Moro was being held by the Red Brigades. And the spirit who told him this information? Giorgio La Pira, the former mayor of Florence who had died the previous year. Most people believe that it was simply Prodi trying to avoid revealing his real source.

10. The band The Mars Volta says they wrote an entire album around the Ouija Board. A session with the board gave them a story that they ended up using in the whole creative process, but when strange things started happening – a flooded studio, one of their engineers had a nervous breakdown, and their lead singer injured his foot – they burned the Ouija Board and buried it.

Have any of you had any creepy Ouija Board experiences? Do you buy into it?

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.



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