Inventor of Xmas? Charles Dickens, Really?

DATELINE:  Ghosts for the Holidays

Dickens with ScroogeDickens with Scrooge!

One presumes Dickens would be appalled that he was given the label as The Man Who Invented Christmas because in 1842 under financial pressure, he wrote a little ghost story in six weeks. We always thought Jesus probably deserved a little credit for inventing Christmas.

Having dozens of movie versions of the famous holiday tale about the reclamation of Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol, it seems only fitting that a charming tale, slightly mythological rather than biographical, would be the latest incarnation of the story.

Dan Stevens, hot off Downton Abbey, plays a stylish, boyish Charles Dickens, a man surrounded by his own spendthrift ways and a brood of interruptions in his home, faces a daunting deadline to come up with a novella to make ends meet.

Stories about writers are usually deadly dull and impossible to show creativity, but this film manages to show how the characters, and caricatures, came to life for Dickens.

No small feat is the marvelous performance of the difficult quarry of Scrooge in the person of Christopher Plummer. He argues he wants his point-of-view better expressed, feeling the story is too one-sided!

The cast is up to the weird exaggerations of Dickens, including Jonathan Pryce as the author’s father. Many people in Dickens’ life take a role in his story.

Cute, by some standards, we see snippets of dialogue picked off the streets as Dickens goes on his daily duties. He hears the best lines and incorporates them into his text. But, it is his debates with Scrooge who visits him in his room that is the heart of the film.

Dickens purists might take issue with the pabulum portrait by Stevens, but this is a sentimental story, intelligently told, without profanity, sexual situations, or other unpleasantness, while maintaining dramatic and psychological effectiveness.

This is a film that insists Dickens did more for Christmas than you may want to believe. Yet, this is more than a holiday fest and more than a simple biographical movie. It is charming, an addition to the Christmas canon.



The Haunting of Patriot Place

DATELINE: Your Worst Nightmare


The ghost of Malcolm Butler now walks the halls of Patriot Place. Forget the Overlook Hotel and its shining denizens. Foxboro will be a worthy subject for Stephen King.

Like unfriendly spirits, this Patriot specter may hang around for decades, frightening children and bringing back the horrors of Super Bowl LII.

Bad karma often is behind the haunting appearances of ghosts.  We recall in Boston that the ghost of Babe Ruth put a curse on the Red Sox for 80 years. We now wonder if the ghost of Malcolm Butler might do the same for the Patriots.

If you wonder why the Patriots never win another Super Bowl in the 21st century, you will be wise to remember that the Butler did it.

Like some benighted head of the Inquisition, Bill Belichick made his decisions to burn the defense at the stake during the Super Bowl. Heretics be damned, and leading the charge was the ingrate (in Swami Belichick’s eyes), the man who tried to jump ship before the season began: Malcolm Butler.

It was an unforgivable sin—and now Malcolm Butler has paid for it with his reputation. Oh, someone will give him a big payday—and perhaps he will fade into oblivion in some other football venue.

However, in Foxboro, his curse will be laid upon Tom Brady worse than broken mirrors and contempt for sports superstition.

The howls in the night and the bumps and bangs you hear are the restless spirits of players done dirt by Bill Belichick.

Though he may go into retirement, he will leave a haunted Patriot Place for Josh McDaniels, forcing him to call in ghostbusters and hold séances for the betterment of the Kraft legacy.

Move over, Shirley Jackson, Gillette Stadium is the new house on Haunted Hill.

The Akashic Record and the Ghosts of Mill Circle!

 DATELINE:  My Friend from the Titanic

Richard with Author selfie Author with Richard

Ancient Aliens struck gold again with a recent showing of “The Akashic Record,” the tenth episode of the twelfth season.

In case you missed it, this one raised the issue of a fount of knowledge, from all beings and creatures of the universe, stored like our modern computer cloud, floating out in the shimmering quanta of the universe.

Though Akashic Record has been accessed mostly by mystics, prophets, and artists, using a portion of matter at the back of the brain, Ancient Aliens had its own focus:  strictly focused on the predictive element of the cosmic cloud library.

They saw it strictly as a means to give that crystal ball some legitimacy when you do readings of future events.

They only briefly mentioned, in passing, the ability to draw information from the cosmic library about the past. The Akashic Record may be the best way to explain the memories, ideas, and knowledge, of history being mined by artists, poets, and writers.

Some call it channeling. Others dismiss it as meditation from a swami, but a few of us believe strongly that we have often reached a memory of a past life and a past vision to write down on a page for a book.

For years we were always amazed at our ability to see what some historical person saw and put it in one of our fictional—and lately, nonfictional—books.

We have drawn on Billy the Kid, John Wilkes Booth, and even Dr. Francis Tumblety, who claimed he was the Ripper of Whitechapel.

Those books are available on Amazon.

Lately, we discovered that we have been able to reach a spirit of someone who died on the Titanic. Indeed, we only learned about this after we purchased one of the homes he once lived in. His name was Richard and he was on Titanic, as a gift from his father, for graduating from Bowdoin. He perished with his father.

For years in a college classroom where I taught, there was a little bronze plaque commemorating Richard and his father’s heroism in helping others on the Titanic.

So, it came as a shock when a psychic named Nicole told me that the spirit of Richard was following me around for decades, wanting me to write a book about his life. She saw him hanging over my shoulder. It rattled her. I never see him, though he does make noises to communicate with me in recent years.

How could I write a book about a dead person who left no record of his life?

Richard worked in strange ways, coincidentally bringing people to my attention who had personal papers, photos, and knew his descendants. The result was a book called Tales of a Titanic Family. It’s all true, and Richard directed me to find a treasure trove of info on his life.

Now, it seems my discoveries were based on the Akashic Record.  I have now written a book on my experiences with Richard at my home. It’s called Ghosts of Mill Circle, mainly because the street he lived on, where I now reside, has many spirits clinging to their old haunt.

The recent show on Ancient Aliens has explained, obliquely, why I have been able to write this true account.

So, forgive me for using this blog for something out of the ordinary, but it now seems connected to everything else in the cosmos.

Point Blank: Right on Target

DATELINE:  Unusual Film Resurfaces

 point blank

Can it really be 50 years since John Boorman gave us his curious precursor to Twin Peaks, long before David Lynch had a brainstorm?

Point Blank confounded audiences in 1967 who were far less prepared for the kind of stuff Lynch gave us 25 years later. This film essentially introduced Boorman to serious audiences. It took a crime film and made it arty.

Lee Marvin is the dead Walker, left to die in haunted, empty Alcatraz after a botched crime pickup. Some undetermined time later, he is looking for revenge, in a gray suit with white hair. No one knows him by any other name, and everyone asks, “Aren’t you dead?”


Boorman films Marvin through screens, drapes, and other opaque filters. He even grapples with a ghostly sheet after he drives his nemesis off the penthouse roof.

Walker wants his money as well as revenge—and a litany of marvelous actors plays the hierarchy of the Mob, befuddled by him. John Vernon, Lloyd Bochner, and a marvelous and hilarious Carroll O’Connor, are his lineup.

Angie Dickinson spends a full minute trying to beat him up, slapping and punching the impervious Marvin in an amazing bit.

Marvin is indestructible and single-minded as Walker.

The film is short in minutes, but long on violent moments that were a revelation 50 years ago. The film plays with haunting memories repeatedly as Walker seems obsessed with reliving them, like a residual spirit.

It’s a tour de force by Lee Marvin and John Boorman. Just wonderful and fresh 50 years later.




Ghosts of Mill Circle



Mill Circle may be the most haunted street in New England.

Resident and author Dr. William Russo takes you behind the scenes of his neighborhood to tell you the fascinating tales behind so many haunting reports. From a brutal murder in the early 1800s to the death of two residents in 1912 on the Titanic, Mill Circle has more than its share of paranormal activity. Step by step, you will follow the trail of ghosts from their lost spring to the demolished mansion buried in its own cellar.

Prepare for a journey that traces ghost stories and strange events to real people and tragedy.

Available on for smart-readers and in paperback later this summer!

Is Aaron Hernandez Mansion Haunted?

DATELINE:  Ghosts at Home

armlessinattleboro  Police Remove Hernandez from N. Attleboro Home in 2013.

Realtors hate to answer this question because it puts a damper on buying possibilities.

Shortly after he was taken away on murder charges, his common law wife moved out. The house owned by the convicted killer of Odin Lloyd has basically been empty and on the market since then. This week the house listing price was dropped over $200,000 to the price Hernandez originally paid:  $1.3 million.

The North Attleboro house may indeed be haunted, not only by Hernandez, but by one of his victims who spent time there: Mr. Lloyd, the murder victim.

Having lived in a haunted house, we know something about the likelihood. Unlike the Hernandez case, our realtors did not know that our home was part of the estate of two victims who died on the Titanic. We quickly learned the house was not exactly empty—and investigation showed who might be here exactly.

Our spirits are friendly, probably loved the street they lived on—but true ghosts are bound to a location from their lives. They are likely trapped on Earth, refusing to move on to another astral plane.

Apart from prospective buyers, the only people who have spent time at the Hernandez house in North Attleboro were jurors, judge, and lawyers from the first murder trial. No one wants to give the house an overnight stay. We wonder what could be there to prevent visitors from making a permanent home in the mansion.

Even in our house, there was initial resistance from the spirits who knocked down hanging pictures and made bizarre noises. They still take umbrage at unexpected company. We have had overnight guests who heard footsteps coming to their bed—checking them out before moving away to another part of the house.

Is Aaron Hernandez still stalking the rooms of his North Attleboro manse?  We wait for the brave souls who choose to live there to give us the answer.


Author William Russo has written two books on the subject:  The Strange Case of Aaron Hernandez and Haunting Near Virtuous Spring, about ghosts from the Titanic at his own home.

New Book Features Titanic, Haunted House, Murder Tale: All True!


If you like haunted houses, ghost stories, 19th century poetry, Americana, mineral springs, and have an obsession with RMS Titanic, then Ossurworld recommends a new book for you.

HAUNTING NEAR VIRTUOUS SPRING is a true story about one street in New England that managed to have some of the most fascinating people and moments in American history.

Starting with a mysterious poem about a murdered peddler whose ghost haunts an old house back in 1861, the tale unfolds with more amazing facts and situations. It all culminates with some paranormal investigating.

Now available in paperback from and as an e-book, you won’t soon forget the amazing tale of American success and tragedy in Winchendon Springs, Massachusetts.