August 22, 2011

Wicked Weird: The 3 Most Bizarre Ancient Structures in New England


3. The Calendar II Chamber

Courtesy of thecenteroflight.net
In the woods of South Woodstock, Vermont rests the mystifying man-made structure known as the Calendar II Chamber. The chamber includes nine stone lintels, or horizontal supports, the largest of which weighs just under 6,000 pounds.

As with the other so-called "calendar chambers" of the South Woodstock/Putney area, Calendar II has an astronomically-aligned construction. For example, on the winter solstice, the sun rises between a notch in two distant hills and then shines into the chamber's entryway. In addition, on the summer solstice the sun rises over a triangular stone set in a nearby stonewall, while two nearby standing stones form a true (as opposed to magnetic) north-south alignment.

There are two primary schools of thought on the origins of Calendar II. Mainstream anthropologists point to Native American origins, whereas the late Harvard zoologist, Barry Fell, believed that ancient, pre-Columbian Celts from Ireland -- or Portugal -- were responsible for its creation.

Further Reading:



2. Mystery Hill: America's Stonehenge

Image courtesy of newenglandoddities.com

Scattered across 30 acres of land in Salem, New Hampshire is a complex of man-made walls, chambers and other megaliths. Dubbed "Mystery Hill" in 1936, the site was officially renamed "America's Stonehenge" in 1982. This renaming was intended to help distinguish the site's status from that of a roadside oddity to an area of legitimate archaeological significance.

Image courtesy of newenglandoddities.com
One of the most intriguing works within America's Stonehenge is the large, flat "sacrificial stone," which has grooved channels that some argue were used by pre-Columbian ancient Celts for channeling blood. However, mainstream archaeologists put forth that farmers from the 18th or 19th centuries used the site, and the "sacrificial stone," for extracting lye from wood or for making cider.

Former owner of the site, William Goodwin, was so convinced that ancient Celts were responsible for building America's Stonehenge that he moved many of the site's stones to better support his theory. What an idiot. Despite this archaeological sabotage, Barry Fell was still convinced that America's Stonehenge had pre-Columbian Celtic origins.

Further Reading:
http://www.stonehengeusa.com/
http://www.crystalinks.com/mysteryhill.html 


1. The Newport Tower

Image courtesy of caithness.org

Also known as the Mystery Tower, the Old Stone Mill and the Viking Tower, the Newport Tower is a roofless, cylindrical stone tower that is perched upon a hilltop in Newport, Rhode Island. The tower stands upon eight legs that are topped by irregular stone arches. Throughout the structure are seemingly irregular arrays of windows, holes and shallow recesses, including on second-story recess that resembles a fireplace.

Image courtesy of gloriaamendola.com
As is the case with America's Stonehenge, mainstream archaeologists point to colonial origins for the Newport Tower, often citing that it is reminiscent of colonial-era Dutch windmills. However, another school of thought is that vikings, specifically Norwegians and Swedes, constructed the tower in the 14th century before Columbus reached the New World. A third school of thought is that ancient Chinese explorers built the Newport Tower in the 15th century as a lighthouse.

Like the Calendar II chamber, the Newport Tower has astronomical alignments built-in to its design. For example, on the summer solstice you can peer through the tower's south window and see the sun -- as a narrow slit of light -- set above Windmill Hill through the tower's west window.

Adding further intrigue to the mystery of the Newport Tower is that a skeleton outfitted with brass weaponry was found in nearby Fall River, Massachusetts. American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, wrote a poem about this skeleton -- The Skeleton In Armour -- in which he references the Newport Tower.

Further Reading:
http://www.neara.org/CARLSON/newporttower.htm 
http://www.unexplainedearth.com/newport.php
http://www.newporttower.org/html/architecture.html


If you like this post, check out Wicked Weird: The 3 Most Bizarre Happenings In New England History

August 14, 2011

Irish-American Bucket List: Things To Do Before You End Up In The 'Irish Funny Pages'

Drink a...

-Black Velvet: 
Float half-a-pint of stout on top of half-a-pint of hard cider (or champagne)
-Black & Tan: 
Float half-a-pint of stout on top of half-a-pint of pale ale
-Black & Brown: 
Float half-a-pint of stout on top of half-a-pint of root beer
-Black & Black: 
Float half-a-pint of stout on top of half-a-pint of stout (careful now, don't let the two halves mix)

Go to...

-The Guinness Storehouse
St. James's Gate, Dublin 3, Ireland
-The Old Jameson Distillery
7 Bow Street, Dublin 7, Ireland
-A pub where you can drink with your distant relatives
For me this is Harry's Bar on Rosses Point in Co. Sligo


Eat some...

-Black pudding
What is tastier than a combination of pigs' blood, grains, onions, herbs and spices? Answer: nothing
-White pudding
It's black pudding, only with pork instead of blood
-Coddle
A pork-lover's alternative to beef stew: it's loaded with sausage and rashers


Learn to...

-Speak Gaelic
Besides just saying "sláinte" and "póg mo thóin"
-Set dance
Set dancing is like square dancing, only without the boots, without the Stetsons and without the caller
-Accept the fact that you're not actually from Ireland
Be strong, we'll get through this together 


August 4, 2011

Celtic Music's Top 10 Lines

10

Now Mari and her mother are an awful lot together
In fact you hardly see the one without the other
And people often wonder if it's Mari or her mother
Or both of them together I'm courting
 From: Mari-Mac, Chords and Lyrics

9

I'm gonna make me a big sharp axe
Shining steel tempered in the fire
I'll chop you down like an old dead tree
Dirty old town Dirty old town
From: Dirty Old Town, Chords and Lyrics

8

The sun was setting in the west,
The birds were singing on every tree.
All nature seemed inclined to rest
But still there was no rest for me
 From: Farewell to Nova Scotia, Chords and Lyrics

7

I go to the Clyde and I mourn and weep
For satisfied I ne'er can be
I write her a letter, just a few short lines
And suffer death a thousand times.
 From: Black is the Color, Chords and Lyrics

6

I looked out from under the blanket up at the fireplace.
The Pope and John F. Kennedy were starin' in me face.
 From: Delirium Tremens, Chords and Lyrics 

5

And when I'm dead and in my grave
No costly tombstone will I crave
Just lay me down in my native peat
With a jug of punch at my head and feet
 From: Jug of Punch, Chords and Lyrics

4

So drunk to hell I left the place
Sometimes crawling sometimes walking
A hungry sound came across the breeze
So I gave the walls a talking
And I heard the sounds of long ago
From the old canal
And the birds were whistling in the trees
Where the wind was gently laughin'
 From: A Pair of Brown Eyes, Chords and Lyrics

3
But my sons have sons, 
as brave as were their fathers
 From: Four Green Fields, Chords and Lyrics

2

I'm drunk today and I'm seldom sober,
a handsome rover from town to town
 From: Carrickfergus, Chords and Lyrics

1

And all I've done for want of wit,
to memory now I cannot recall.
So fill me to the parting glass
Goodnight and joy be with you all.
From: The Parting Glass, Chords and Lyrics



August 1, 2011

The Tell-Tale Signs of a Spooky Scribe: Similarities Between Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King


Two masters of the macabre: one remembered as a literary revolutionary, the other a self-proclaimed "salami" writer. But what else do these two authors have in common besides a penchant for producing spine-tingling, scare-your-pants-off prose?

Born in New England

Poe was born on January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts.
King was born on September 21, 1947 in Portland, Maine.

Phantom Fathers

Poe's father abandoned the family early on and died when Poe was 3 years old.
King's father abandoned the family when King was 2 years old under the guise of going out for a pack of ciggarettes.

The Scots-Irish Connection

Poe and King both have Scots-Irish (also: Scotch-Irish) ancestry. The Scots-Irish were Scottish Presbyterians who were relocated to the Plantation of Ulster in Northern Ireland in the 17th century.

Alcoholics-Not-So-Anonymous

Poe and King both hit the booze pretty hard during their lives. Poe wasn't necessarily a habitual drinker, but his low-tolerance to the devil's sauce made him susceptible to drunken escapades, which often involved gambling. During the 1980s, King often road the cocaine-train to crazy town and drank to the point that he doesn't remember what the hell he wrote during the 1980s.

The Pet Connection

One of King's most popular works, "Pet Sematary," is about a cemetery that can bring pets -- and people -- back to life. It is likely that Poe died from rabies, which he contracted from one of his pet cats.

On Matters of Life and Death...

Poe: "The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?"
King: "Each life makes its own imitation of immortality."