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History that's stranger than fiction. 5 minutes long. Updated once a month.

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Podcast Episode's:
I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 49 She Had Style, She Had Grace, She Would Punch You In The Face
A well-worn Hollywood plot is one where the President’s daughter is kidnapped, so a hero has to rescue her. In real life, this never would have happened to Alice Roosevelt.  Not just because her father, Teddy Roosevelt was a badass who could have rescued her himself. But also because the apple didn’t fall far from […]
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 48 The Greatest Loss of Knowledge that Never Happened.
On September 2, a fire destroyed the National Museum of Brazil, taking with it 90 percent of the museum’s collection.  This included recordings of dead languages and zoological and botanical specimens. When we think about large, destructive loss of accumulated knowledge, we think of the burning of the Library of Alexandria.  But the burning of […]
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 47 How An Earthquake Helped Shape Missouri
When Thomas Jefferson envisioned westward expansion, he wanted the new states to be neat and orderly, unlike the 13 colonies.  Jefferson wanted each state boundary to lay along latitude and longitude markers.  As anyone who has ever seen a map of the United States knows, that’s not what happened.  So why do the 50 US […]
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 46 When One Apex Predator Meets Another
The attacks came in the night. Monsters came into the very tents, undaunted by campfire and torchlight. The monsters dragged fully grown men from their beds, taking them away in the night to satisfy their bloodlust. It sounds like the plot of a horror film, but this really happened. The monsters weren’t eldritch beasts straight […]
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 45 Little Jack Horner Sat In His Corner Making a Chickenosarus
The archaeopterx is considered the link between dinosaurs and modern birds. A Chickenosarus might resemble one of these extinct creatures. After working as a consultant on Jurassic Park, a paleontologist wants to bring back the dinosaurs.  Clearly, he didn’t pay enough attention to the movie.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 44 Baseball’s Murky Origins
Inspired by the holiday, and by my Arkansas Razorbacks Baseball Team going to the college world series (where, despite my wishes in the podcast, they did not win) I focused on the history of Baseball for this episode.  Or what we think we know.  Because once again, while I am not making this up, someone […]
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I am Not Making This Up: Ep. 43 Hot Dog, Hot Diggity Dog!
For something that could be considered the poster child for processed food, hot dogs have a very organic origin.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 42 George Washington Loved Him Some Ice Cream
There is a story (definitely not true) that Martha Washington invented ice cream. Regardless of the story’s truth or fiction, George Washington loved ice cream. So much that he and Martha served it to guests both at Mt. Vernon, and when they were at the president’s home in New York City. While these days ice […]
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 41 Marie Antoinette Was The Ultimate Cosplayer
You would think that Comicon attendees invented cosplay, but Queen Marie Antoinette would tell you au contraire. When she was Queen of France, rocked the milkmaid look while visiting her personal village on the grounds of Versailles.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 40 Like Taking Crown Jewels From A Baby
When something is easy, we say that it’s like taking candy from a baby.  Maybe we should say that it’s like stealing the French Crown Jewels. Because stealing the French Crown Jewels was just that easy. Allegedly. I wouldn’t know personally.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 39 Cattle Kate, The Outlaw Who Never Existed
One of the most infamous outlaws of the Old West may not have existed, but may have been invented by real murderers to cover up the lynching of an innocent rancher and her husband. This is the story of who Cattle Kate was, and who she was not.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 38 The Cobra Effect
Ever hear of the cobra effect? Sadly, it’s not an episode of GI Joe.  But if you listen to this episode, you’ll know what it is.  And knowing is half the battle.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 37 The Greatest Lion Tamer
When you think of a lion tamer, you probably imagine a guy in a safari outfit, pith helmet and wielding a chair and whip.  That’s because the most famous lion tamer ever, Clyde Beatty, dressed in safari gear, and wielded a chair.  Beatty was so famous that the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey’s Circus once […]
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 36 The Wild Horses of South Carolina
If you visit the Outer Banks of South Carolina, you may see the descendants of some of the first immigrants to our country, still living in the area where their ancestors first settled.  These descendants are still living as their ancestors lived hundreds of years ago.  But they’re not Amish.  They’re not even human.  They’re […]
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 35 Sarah Winchester, The Crazy Cat Lady of Architecture
We all think we know the story of Sarah Winchester.  Folklore states that the heiress of the Winchester fortune was told by a psychic to go west and build a house for the spirits of everyone who had ever been killed by a Winchester rifle.  In truth, Sarah probably had something in common with the […]
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 34 Vladimir Putin Liked It (So He Allegedly Took A Ring)
If Russian hackers crash this podcast and website, you’ll know that this episode is why. Yesterday, the New England Patriots met the Philadelphia Eagles in the Superbowl for the first time in 13 years.  The last time the two met, the Patriots narrowly squeaked out a win for their third consecutive Superbowl victory. Shortly after, […]
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 33 That Time Bunnies Attacked Napoleon
Napoleon is widely regarded as one of the greatest military leaders of all time, up there with Alexander the Great. But one of his most humiliating defeats actually came from a pack of domesticated rabbits.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 32 One Way To Spend An Afternoon When Visiting The City in 1848
Imagine you’re an American farmer 170 years ago. Depending on where you live, you may go to a big city once a year, when it’s time to sell off your surplus livestock. And, after you’ve done that, you might go have one of those fancy daguerreotype light paintings made. Having a Daguerreotype image made was the 1850’s fad equivalent to taking a selfie at Disneyland while performing in a flash mob in front of Cinderella’s castle. And if you adjust for inflation, the price was about the same.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 31 When Special Snowflake Wasn’t An Insult
You probably already know that no two snowflakes are alike. Every school child knows that. But before 1931, no one knew that. The man who changed our perspective on snowflakes was Wilson “snowflake” Bentley.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 30 Catch Me If You Can, Gingerbread Man
Gingerbread men are practically synonymous with Christmas. But, at the risk of sounding click-bait-y, you won’t believe the surprising origins of this cookie. Spoiler it’s Queen Elizabeth. Maybe.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 29 What Was On The Table That First Thanksgiving?
When we gather around the table this Thanksgiving, we’ll probably have turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and mashed potatoes. Turkey is such an iconic part of Thanksgiving that there is even a giant turkey float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade. But the first Thanksgiving may not have even had turkey.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 28 John Smith Is The Wrong John
Long before the founding of the United States, some of the first colonists didn’t have much to be thankful for. Including food. They called that season the starving time.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 27 Dude! Where’s My Poe
Author Edgar Allan Poe is known for some of the best horror fiction around. He's also a bit of a sad sack for whom things never seemed to go right. In the days leading up to his death, he vanished. He was found in clothes that didn't belong to him, unconscious. Though he did wake, no one could make sense of his ravings before he died. Join author Melanie Miller Fletcher and I as we discuss our favorite theories about what might have happened to Poe.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 26 The Birth of the Byronpire
Author Melanie Miller Fletcher is my special guest for this episode. Join us as we discuss the birth of Science Fiction and the modern vampire (A.K.A. the Byronpire).
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 25 Lifestyles of the Rich and Poisonous
Though the Robert Browning poem The Laboratory is a fictional poem, it may be based on a true event. A scandal that swept 17th century France, leading all the way to the Sun King's inner circle, and right to the doors of his official mistress.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 24 The Real Rapunzel
There is a story of a girl who is locked away in a tower and forbidden to see her one true love.  But this is no story about a signing princess with a talking animal friend.  And the king in this story is the bad guy.  
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 23 Why You Shouldn’t Order The Lincoln Special
When you’re a high-profile figure, your life isn’t really your own. This can even be true of elected officials. Particularly martyred elected officials. Such was the case with Abraham Lincoln, who was sent on a farewell tour after his death that would have been worthy of any rock band.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 22 He Gave His Life For Tourism
When he was born, about 1342 BC, Tutankhaten’s life wasn’t his own. But the boy who would become known to us as Tutankhamen would be especially noteworthy because even in death his story isn’t his own.
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I am Not Making This Up: Ep. 21 The Fabulous Fox Sisters
Imagine if you were 11 years old, and your April fool's prank got out of hand. So out of hand that it spawned a major religion? This actually happened to Kate Fox. She, along with her two sisters, Maggie and Leah ended up helping to found the Spiritualism movement after a practical joke got out of hand.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 20 Tell My Friend Willie Brown
Robert Johnson is known as the king of Blues and the granddaddy of Rock and Roll, influencing some of the biggest names in music from Bob Dylan to Eric Clapton. Johnson's life is shrouded in myth, and fans have filled in the gaps with even more myth. Legends say that he sold his soul at a crossroads in Mississippi to gain his legendary guitar skills.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 19 How The West Was Spun
Go anywhere in the world, and ask people what they think of Americans, and the word "cowboy" is likely to pop up. How is it that a brief 50 year period involving the least populated part of the United States has come to define the country as a whole? You can thank - or blame depending on your viewpoint, a man named Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West show.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 18 Barnum’s Burning Buildings
Recently it was announced to the world that in May of 2017, the Ringling brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus would be rolling up it's tents for the last time. P.T. Barnum revolutionized entertainment for a country that was just starting to have leisure time. But One thing Barnum is not known for, but maybe should be, is the many, many times a building that he owns burned down.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 17 Warrior, Princess, Badass
If I asked you to name a badass warrior princess, you might mention Xena or Wonder Woman. But one real life woman left them all behind. Her name was Khutulun, and she was the great-great-granddaughter of Genghis Khan.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 16 When Frederick Law Olmsted Changed The World
In 1857, if a New Yorker wanted to get away from the city, he or she would go to a cemetery. That all changed with the establishment of Manhattan's Central Park, and it's architect and superintendent, Frederick Law Olmsted.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 15 Would The Real Anastasia Please Stand Up?
It was a cold February night in Berlin, 1920, when Franziska Shanzkowska jumped into the Landwher Canal. We know why she jumped: she’d lost her fiancee during the war.  She’d also suffered from an accident in the munitions plant where she worked.  She had scars, a head injury, possibly survivors guilt and definitely depression. In […]
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I am Not Making This Up: Ep. 14 Agatha Christie’s Personal Mystery
Agatha Christie is the bestselling author of all time.  Her works outsell Shakespeare, J. K. Rowling, and Stephen King.  Even if you’ve never read her work, you’ve probably heard of Murder on the Orient Express, or And Then There Were None. But a greater mystery sits at the heard of Christie’s life.  In 1926, after […]
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 13 Tale Literally As Old As Time
Out of all the fairy tales known worldwide, Beauty and the Beast, or “La Belle et la bete” as it is known in French, may be one of the most popular.  The themes of the fairy tale are even recycled in such popular and well-known works as The Phantom of the Opera and Twilight. Versions […]
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 12 The Titanic Man
 All Carlos Hurd wanted was to take a vacation.  But when he boarded the Carpathia for Italy with his wife, Katherine, the reporter and his wife were put on the path to the most Titanic scoop in Carlos’s life.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 11 People Were Once Paid To Be Garden Gnomes. This Is A Thing That Happened.
In the 18th century, the English took conspicuous consumption to a whole new level when they hired actual old men to live in their gardens as ornamental hermits.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 10 The Littlest Pirate
Lots of kids talk about running away to join the circus or become pirates. But few actually do it. However in 1716, one boy did. His name as John King, and he was around ten years old.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 9 That Time Edwin Booth Could Have Changed Everything
Let's talk a little about Edwin Booth. People don’t remember the other two Booth brothers. John Wilkes Booth casts a long shadow. And when they do, it’s because Edwin once rescued Robert Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s son, from being crushed by a train. There’s a certain neatness in the symmetry of that. One brother saves a son, while the other murders a father. But there was a time when Edwin’s name outshone his more infamous brother. There was a time when, by the right word or the right action, Edwin might have put his brother on a different path.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 8 Why Some People Hate History
Until you saw the musical Hamilton, You probably got the impression that the founding fathers all got along and always knew exactly what they were doing. That's because people like to tell stories.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Special Announcement
If you don’t have a lot of patience to listen to the audio, it says that starting next week, I’ll be producing the I Am Not Making This Up podcast twice a month instead of only once.  From now on, look for it on the first and third Monday of every month.  
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 7 Herodotus. The Michael Bay of the Classical World
Imagine if that massive solar flare that scientists worry about actually hits Earth and wipes out all electronics.  What if in 2,000 years time, the only record we have of WWII (or that WWII even happened) is the massively lucrative yet historically inaccurate film Pearl Harbor, directed by Michael Bay? Believe it or not, something […]
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 6 That Time the Catholic Church Put A Corpse on Trial
If you think politics now is strange, we have nothing on the ancient Catholic Church. At one point, a sitting pope put a former pope on trial. It went a little like the Monty Python dead parrot sketch.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 5 That Time the French King Was Cannibalized (Podcast Version)
If one of your party guests has a reputation for eating anything, perhaps you shouldn't pass him a prized family heirloom. Especially if it's the mummified heart of a famous King.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 4 The Most Bonkers Race in Olympic History
Next time someone mentions the plight of the Olympic athlete, remember that it's not that bad. They could be forced to run a marathon through a cloud of dust while wearing cutoff shorts, having cramps & being chased by dogs while their trainers try to poison them.
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 3 That Time Someone Caught a Shark In Illinois
Herbert Cope and his fishing partner Dudge Collins knew they had a big catch in their fishing trap.  Maybe some kind of Muskie or Catfish.  But when they hauled it in, they never expected a 5 foot long shark. They were after all, in Illinois.  Research links: Sharks In Illinois The Strangest Shark Story Ever
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 2 The Curse of the Little Bastard
My short story, The Hobos, The Devil and James Dean’s Car is featured over at the pulp magazine Crimson Streets. You can read it here. In honor of the publication, I’m podcasting an abridged version of the article that inspired the story.  If you’d like to read the longer article, you can do so here. […]
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I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 1 That Time Wallpaper Killed Napoleon
During the Industrial Revolution, nearly everything could kill you. You could catch the flu from your big, drafty manor house, catch illness from your unpasteurized milk, or poison yourself wearing an arsenic green silk dress..
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