In Japan, the Floors Can Sing

by Susan Spann In medieval Japan, some castles (and other buildings) were constructed with special floors that made a squeaking or chirping sound to alert the residents to intruders (or anyone else) walking across the floorboards. Visitors [...]


  WHAT DOES INDEPENDENCE MEAN TO YOU?   By   Vicki Hinze     Soon it will again be Independence Day.  We’ll grill, we’ll gather and shoot off fireworks, and celebrate.  All that’s great, but do we and our kids even know anymore [...]

Shuriken: the Ninja Star

by Susan Spann If I asked you to name a ninja weapon, the most common answers would be a sword and a shuriken, which many people call a “throwing star.” In reality, “shuriken” translates “behind-the-hand knife” [...]

Relevant Echoes

By Piper Bayard Many Civil War historians will tell you that partisanship in America is more heated than it has been since 1860. We are regularly smacked in the face by evidence that both major political parties put their own special interests [...]

Japan’s Female Ninjas: the Kunoichi

By Susan Spann The Hollywood ninja dresses in black, appears from the shadows, and strikes without warning. He’s also usually male. In reality, not all ninjas were male, and they didn’t all lurk in shadows. Female ninjas, called [...]

The Seven Disguises Used by Real Ninjas

By Susan Spann Hollywood likes to portray the ninja in black pajamas, scaling a roof to assassinate a samurai. In reality, ninjas, also called shinobi, were more like spies. Assassinations played a role (as did those famous dark pajamas) [...]

Ninja Swords: Better Than Just a Blade

Real ninjas needed lightweight, concealable weapons which also served a multitude of purposes. With limited space and weight available, ninjas (also known as shinobi) generally opted for multi-use weapons, and carried only those most likely [...]

Real Ninjas Wore Black … Or Did They?

By Susan Spann Popular culture often depicts the ninja as a hooded, black-clad man with a sword in one hand and a shuriken in the other – silent, lethal, and invisible against the midnight sky. Unfortunately, the Hollywood version of [...]

Ghostbusting — 100 Years Ago

Ghostbusting, 100 Years Ago By K.B. Owen Among the joys of writing historical mysteries is running across cool nuggets of research. While writing Unseemly Pursuits, I needed to learn more about late-19th century spirit mediums and their tricks, [...]

Is There a Santa Claus? Yes, Virginia.

  In 1897, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon asked the question that makes all parents of young children squirm: “Is there a Santa Claus?” Her father, in a brilliant example of strategic parental deflection, suggested she [...]