For the longest time, I fought Instagram. I had no interest in joining, simply because I didn’t see the point. To be honest, the whole thing felt a little silly and, well, pompous. Sure, people seem to enjoy it, but I’ve never been the kind of guy who felt the need to upload pics of his turkey on rye with the message “getting ready for lunch #boyamihungry #luvturkey #ireallythinkpeoplecareaboutwhatieatforlunch”.

But the more I looked at Instagram, the more it seemed to be something I could use to sort of give everyone a quick glimpse inside my strange and spooky world. I know you’re going to find this hard to believe, but not everything in my life is blog worthy. Shocking, but true!

What Instagram allows me to do is show you all a little peek behind the curtain, if you will. Like this picture, which is a random shot of some of the items from my Strange & Spooky Museum that I recently unpacked:

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And then there was this strange little picture, which is related to my latest paranormal project. I uploaded it to Instagram and it promptly blew up, with everyone wondering aloud what the heck it meant. What do you think it means?

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Anyway, If you’d like to follow along, you can find me lurking on Instagram here. I’m only getting started, but there’s already some strange and spooky images on there. Just don’t expect to see any pics of turkey sandwiches…unless they look really, really weird.

You can also access my Instagram site by clicking on the photo in the “Latest Instagram Upload” feed, which is over on the bottom left side of the very page you’re reading now!

 

 

So here’s the photo they chose to use of me in Cleveland.com’s recent review of last Saturday’s Author Alley. I couldn’t be happier!

Now, most people would be horrified if they found a picture of themselves online, looking like that. Not me. I think it’s the coolest thing ever, especially since it was taken during a book signing. You see, I’ve always felt uncomfortable at book signings, including ones that have multiple authors at it. Don’t get me wrong, I love attending them and have met some wonderful people and authors at these events, including the Author Alley. It’s just that I always end up feeling like something of an outsider at these things, usually because people don’t know what to make of me.

Put it this way; sandwiched between novels, collections of poetry, and children’s books, you’ll find me–the weirdo who believes in ghosts and likes to run through the woods looking for Bigfoot.

On top of that, all the other authors are so professional, telling people who stop by what the inspiration for their book was and handing out professionally-printed press kits and business cards. Sure, I have business cards and flyers. But if someone comes to my table, I’m more interested in finding out if they’ve ever seen the Loveland Frog or if they’ve yet to see the Collection of Swallowed Objects at the Allen County Museum in Lima, Ohio. Most of the time, I don’t even mention my books. The way I see it, the books are there on the table. If people are interested, they’ll pick one up. If not, no biggie. I’m really just there to share my stories and talk about weird stuff.

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Which brings me back to that picture. While I certainly get that since I’m a “published author”, there are certain preconceived notions around how I should appear and act, let’s face it; people are already bummed when they find out that Weird Willis doesn’t drive around in a hearse or live in a haunted house. I think if they were to meet me for the first time and I was just sitting there quietly, they’d be really disappointed. And so would I.

Oh and for the record, my pose was the inspiration of my daughter, Courtney. Prior to leaving me to check out all the Larchmere Festival had to offer, Courtney gave me her traditional kiss and hug, along with her mini-pep talk to “go talk to the big kids about ghosts.” When I asked Courtney what I should do when the adults came to talk to me, she responded “be scary” and then proceeded to show me how to do just that. For the record, I think I nailed it.

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You can read the entire Cleveland.com article, complete with aforementioned Weird Willis photo, by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me begin by saying that I don’t condone violence. In fact, when I first started reading the news report about how Jimmy Nguyen became so upset over his hair cut at a Chillicothe Great Clips that he decided to punch the hairdresser, my blog was the last thing on my mind. But once my eyes settled on the photo that accompanied the article, I knew it needed to be added to the Ohio News Of The Weird.

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–via NBC4i.com

In case you haven’t guessed, that’s Jimmy Nguyen’s mug shot, taken after he was arrested and charged with assaulting a Great Clips employee. The assault was apparently set off by Nguyen’s disapproval of the hair cut he had just received. But here’s my question: what hair?

For the life of me, I’m not seeing what Nguyen is so upset about. His sides look nice, trim and even, too. I think I might even detect a hint of product in there. As for the rest of his head, well, it’s not like Nguyen gave the stylist a lot to work with.

Of course, the mug shot happened after the alleged botched hair cut, so maybe Nguyen sauntered into that Chillicothe Great Clips with a full head of hair and got totally scalped. If that’s what went down, Nguyen would’ve had a valid reason to be so angry if he originally had hair like, oh, I don’t know, Fletch:

Fletch

OK, maybe Fletch is a bad example. You see, Nguyen is just an average Joe like me, with average hair. Fletch’s hair was the thing of legend and he was able to use it to his advantage. If you remember, Fletch was actually 6’5″–with the afro, 6’9″.

Either way, if you’re that worried about how your hair looks, you might want to re-think that plan of walking into a random Great Clips unannounced (“no appointment necessary”) and handing your “$10 hair cut” coupon to the next available stylist.

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Go here to read the full NBC4 article

Want more Ohio News Of The Weird? Visit The Archives here

To see Fletch in action, click below

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AuthorAlley-art-2014-m Glad you asked! The Author Alley will be open from noon until 4:00 pm this Saturday, July 5th. The Larchmere Festival, which the Author Alley is part of, will run from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm. But participating authors, including yours truly, will only be available in the Alley between the hours of noon and 4:00 pm, so please plan your day accordingly. I will have copies of Weird Ohio, The Big Book of Ohio Ghost Stories, Weird Indiana, and Haunted Indiana available for purchase, but all sales are being handled by the Festival. In other words, after 4:00 pm, I won’t have any copies with me.

Of course, with all the cool things to see and do at the Festival, I’m sure I’ll be wandering around, looking to score a shrunken head for my Strange & Spooky Museum, so feel free to tag along. Hope to see you all Saturday! For more information on the Author Alley, go here. Or go here to find out more about the Larchmere Festival.

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Nice little ceramic plate depicting the Cleethorpes, England statue. No date or other markings on the back of the plate.

Personally, the Cleethorpes statue is one of my favorite versions of the statue. For one, Cleethorpes has really embraced their Boy and have chosen to put his image on a wide variety of merchandise. So of course, that’s a dream come true for freakish collectors like me! I also like that this particular statue is unique in that its name never varies: it’s always referred to as the “boy with the leaking boot”. Most of the other statues across the world drop the “leaking” bit.

Finally, I love the fact that this statue is in England, so it really throws a wrench into the theories of those still clinging to the idea that the original version was created because during the Civil War, a boy once carried water inside his boot to dying soldiers on the battlefield.

Check out an assortment of other Boy with the Boot memorabilia, leaking and otherwise, in the Boy with the Boot section of the Strange and Spooky Museum.

It sounds like the kind of story you’d hear as a child when you’re huddled around a campfire: a young, adventuresome boy decides to investigate an old, abandoned house. Once inside, he finds a mannequin hanging in one of the closets, no doubt put there by previous trespassers to scare those who followed in their footsteps. Upon closer inspection, however, the young boy is shocked to find that the mannequin is, in fact, the mummified remains of a man.

It’s a creepy story, to be sure. What makes it even more disturbing is that this particular tale is true.

According to Dayton resident Michelle McGrath, her 12-year-old son could best be described as “adventurous”. That’s the only reason she could think of as to why he decided to wander across the overgrown lawn and into the rundown house on Harbine Avenue in Dayton. Locals report not having seen any activity at the house for years, so it’s unclear what the boy expected to find inside.

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The abandoned house on Harbine Avenue –via CNN

What he did find, hanging from a belt inside a closet, was what the boy originally mistook for some sort of mannequin, made up to look like a mummy. But once he realized that he was looking at actual human remains, he ran back home and told his mother, who called the police.

When authorities arrived, they were able to determine that the body belonged to Edward Brunton, who purchased the home back in October of 2009. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office concluded that Brunton committed suicide shortly after purchasing the house and that his body had been hanging inside the closet, undisturbed, for close to 5 years. The door to the closet had apparently been closed, which kept the body out of direct sunlight and away from critters, allowing it to take on a mummified-like form.

As to how Brunton’s body was able to remain undiscovered for so long, residents claim they never saw anyone coming and going from the house. Indeed, it would appear as though Brunton never even officially moved into the house as it was mostly unfurnished. He had also never paid any taxes on the house. Brunton was also estranged from his family and friends, which may be why he was never reported missing. And that, to me, is what makes this story so damn depressing.

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Front view of house — via CNN

You see, each and every one of us would like to think that we matter. That there are people who care about us and will miss us when we’re gone. What’s more, they will keep our legacy alive, in some small way, by reminiscing and telling stories about us. Put another way, one of my greatest fears, and one that I think I share with many of you, is that I will be forgotten. That I’ll be gone one day and no one will care.

Yet, that is exactly what happened to poor Edward Brunton. He passed away and no one knew or seemed to care. In fact, had it not been for a random neighborhood boy, Brunton’s body might still be hanging there in that house. Sad.

OK, it’s getting way too serious and depressing around here. So let’s lighten the mood a bit. I’ll leave you with this: a monkey trying to ride a bicycle! Check him out! “He thinks he’s people!”

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–via Net Dump

 

Check out CNN’s coverage of the story, complete with video, by clicking here.

The Washington Post also covered the story. Go here to read it.

Want to check out even more Ohio News Of The Weird (ONW)? There’s a whole mess of stories right here!

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Author Alley has just released their list of Featured Authors for their July 5th event. And yes, I’m still on the list. Of course, having the last name “Willis” means that I’m almost at the bottom of the list (thank you, Mary R. Woldering), but I’m on it!

I’ll be signing copies of my 4 most recent works, including The Big Book Of Ohio Ghost Stories, so come on out and say “hi”. Heck, drag out your old dog-eared copy of Weird Ohio and I’ll sign that for you, too. I’ve never been to the Author Alley before, but it’s tied in with the annual Larchmere Festival, so there should be lots of cool stuff to see and do. So if nothing else, you can help me try to find some new and exciting pieces to add to The Strange & Spooky Museum.

Hope to see you all there!

For more information on Author Alley, go here.

Want to know more about the Larchmere Festival? Give a little click here.

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OK, hands down. There’s no need to take a vote. These are, by far the weirdest “souvenir” currently residing in my Strange & Spooky Museum.

There’s no date on the shakers or the box, but they look pretty old. I tried doing some research to see when simulated stag horn salt and pepper shakers were in vogue, but came up empty. Doesn’t appear that salt and pepper shakers made from real stag horns were ever at the top of everyone’s wish list, either (you’re shocked, right?).

Despite that, someone felt the need to create these for the Blue Hole gift shop. If you’ve ever seen a set like this or, better yet, own some yourself, drop me a note in the comments section below. If for no other reason than to let me know that I’m not alone in thinking these things are bad a**.

There’s more Blue Hole memorabilia, as well as other bizarre objects and artifacts, waiting for you in the Roadside Oddities wing of The Strange & Spooky Museum. Go check them out!