January, 2003

January 1, 2003

Welcome to 2003. I hope it is a VAST improvement over 2002.

Today's Disturbing Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

On a Sunday afternoon, April 23, 1899, more than 2,000 white Georgians, some of them arriving from Atlanta on a special excursion train, assembled near the town of Newman to witness the execution of Sam Hose, a black Georgian. Hose had thrown an ax in self-defense when his white employer, Alfred Cranford, had threatened him with a gun, and the ax had buried itself in Cranford's skull, killing him. Within two days, the newspapers had dreamt up an altogether different scenario: Cranford had been eating dinner when Hose - "a monster in human form" - sneaked up on him, buried an ax in his skull, and after pillaging the house, dragged Mrs. Cranford into the room where her husband lay dying and raped her. Mob justice would mete out the punishment for this mythical crime: After stripping Hose of his clothes and chaining him to a tree, the self-appointed executioners stacked kerosene-soaked wood high around him. Before saturing Hose with oil and applying the torch, they cut off his ears, fingers, and genitals, and skinned his face. While some in the crowd plunged knives into the victim's flesh, others watched "with unfeigning satisfaction" the contortions of Sam Hose's body as the flames rose, distorting his features, causing his eyes to bulge out of their sockets, and rupturing his veins. The only sounds that came from the victim's lips, even as his blood sizzled in the fire, were, "Oh, my God! Oh, Jesus." Before Hose's body had even cooled, his heart and liver were removed and cut into several pieces and his bones were crushed into small particles. The crowd fought over these souvenirs. Shortly after the lynching, one of the participants reportedly left for the state capital, hoping to deliver a slice of Sam Hose's heart to the governor of Georgia, who would call same Hose's deeds "the most diabolical in the annals of crime."

Culled from: Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography In America

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Michelle adds a correction: "Stupid and petty correction. The city is Newnan, not Newman. My mother grew up there and I lived there for most of my life. They have what is called locally a 'dark side of town' or 'n-word town' but I think they have pretty much grown beyond taking sheer delight in watching someone burn. Black or otherwise. Of course this IS Newnan we are talking about."

"Without Sanctuary" is an amazing, but very upsetting, collection of lynching photographs and some of the stories that go with them. Although the images of the beaten, burned, mutilated, and hung victims are horrible enough on their own, the thing that truly disturbs me about these photographs are the spectators - men, women, and children - smiling, goofing off, and proudly posing in front of the corpses, just as if they were at a Fourth of July picnic or something. It's really frightening to think how cruel and vicious "good god-fearing citizens" behaved not so very long ago (the majority of the pictures date from the 1890's-1930's, though the most recent comes from 1960). I think this book is performing a great service by refusing to allow this country to forget its own barbarities of the not-so-distant past.

I've been interested in Southern history lately since I'm going to be working in Augusta, Georgia for 14 weeks off-and-on during the next six months. I've been trying to find historical sites worth documenting for The Morbid Sightseer while I'm there. So far, I've only found my beloved Savannah (which I've already documented from a previous trip) and Andersonville Prison Camp. I had thought there would be plenty of museums and structures related to slavery and the gross mistreatment of African-American people in the region, but I'm beginning to think that there's a deliberate attempt to try and erase the fact that lynchings and slave auctions, etc. ever occurred. If anyone out there is from the region, and you can think of some dark sites worthy of documenting, please let me know! South Carolina or any other neighboring state qualifies as well. Thanks for any suggestions!

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Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

A very special thank you goes to Nancy Kilpatrick, who advised me to check out the Funeral Consumers Alliance Gift Shop for some Edward Gorey delights. Who would have thought, but they have some great stuff! If you're in dire need (and who among us aren't?) of a Gashlycrumb Tinies or an Osbick Bird mug, or an excellent 'near-corpse begging' t-shirt, then this is the place! If only I weren't a little short on cash right now, I'd snatch up one of each... so don't be too selfish, and leave some for me!!

http://www.funerals.org/bookstore/index.htm

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"My Brush With Morbidity" by M.H.

"I was working in one of the offices on the lower floors of the county jail when I received a telephone call. The officer calling just said that we might have a suicide. When I reached the cellblock with the 'suicide,' there was a body hanging in the shower. The shower was still running.

"It was hard to tell who the inmate was because his head was swollen, distorting his features. The blood had already begun to settle in his legs. We didn't cut him down immediately, instead we identified him by comparing him to the pictures of the inmates that were assigned to this cellblock. Well, actually we identified him by comparing the tattoos of the inmates that were assigned to the cellblock.

"Finally an officer cut the piece of sheet by which that inmate was attached to the shower curtain rod. Unfortunately, the two officers on either side of the body weren't expecting how heavy it would be and they dropped him. His forehead hit the shower stall floor. It sounded pretty gross. One of the officers later told me that they now understood the term 'dead weight'."

Let's see... in my job, the person sitting next to me once got a really bad paper cut. It bled a lot.
Hmmmm... doesn't quite compare, does it? :(


January 2, 2003

Today's Snobbish Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A nobleman of the house of Du Châtelet in France, who died around 1280, requested that one of the columns in the church of Neufchâteau should be hollowed out to receive his body, "in order that the vulgar may not walk about upon me."

Culled from: Weird Wills & Eccentric Last Wishes

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I wonder if he got his wish? Or maybe they deliberately buried him under the front walkway? Sadly, the book doesn't say...

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Regarding yesterday's MFDJ which was culled from the book "Without Sanctuary" - apparently, this book is very hard to find right now and is out of stock on the Amazon website. In the meantime, there's a website dedicated to the exhibition of the book that might fill your needs without having to purchase the book at all:

http://www.withoutsanctuary.com

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Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Submitted by LunarFlower

Dear Tide:

I'm writing to you to say what an excellent product you have. I've used it since the beginning of married life, when my Mom told me it was the best.

In fact, about a month ago, while at my mother-in-law's house, I spilled some red wine on my new white blouse. She started to berate me about my drinking problem. One thing lead to another and I had a lot of her blood on my white blouse, as well.

I tried to get the stain out using her bargain detergent, but it wouldn't come out. On my way home, I stopped and got a bottle of liquid Tide and all of the stains came out.

So well, in fact, that the DNA tests were negative! I thank you, once again, for a great product.

I now have to write a letter to the Hefty bag people.


January 3, 2003

Today's Revolting Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

After learning of the lynching of her husband, Mary Turner -- in her eighth month of pregnancy -- vowed to find those responsible, swear out warrants against them, and have them punished in the courts. For making such a threat, a mob of several hundred men and women determined to "teach her a lesson." After tying her ankles together, they hung her from a tree, head downward. Dousing her clothes with gasoline, they burned them from her body. While she was still alive, someone used a knife ordinarily reserved for splitting hogs to cut open the woman's abdomen. The infant fell from her womb to the ground and cried briefly, whereupon a member of this Valdosta, Georgia, mob crushed the baby's head beneath his heel. Hundreds of bullets were then fired into Mary Turner's body, completing the work of the mob. The Associated Press, in its notice of the affair, observed that Mary Turner had made "unwise remarks" about the execution of her husband, "and the people, in their indignant mood, took exception to her remarks, as well as her attitude."

Culled from: Without Sanctuary

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Another horrifying "lynching" from the ugly old days...

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Morbid Flick Du Jour!

Suggested by Untermenschen

Now, this one sounds REALLY good!

"[This is] another excellent morbid flick, based on the true story of British poisoner Graham Young. [It contains] some truly sickening (and amazing) scenes of slow death by poisoning and [has] a great ending. Highly recommended."

Unfortunately, it's only available on VHS right now, but I'm going to have to find a copy ASAP. Here's a gratuitously self-serving Amazon link for those who'd like to read more:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/6304218893/theasylumeclecti

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Morbid Accommodation Du Jour!

Heather advised me of an intriguing place to stay if ever in Ottawa, Canada. Seems they've turned an old jail into a hostel. You sleep in the cells! Doesn't that sound exciting? I think I must go to Ottawa simply to try out these accommodations!

"Centrally located in Canada's capital, HI - Ottawa Jail is sure to deliver a unique overnight experience. Formerly a prison and the site of Canada's last public hanging, this historical landmark retains much of its original character. Sleep in a former jail cell, and visit death row and the gallows during a Jail Tour. Check out The Hostel Shop, the one-stop shop for all of your travelling needs."

http://www.hihostels.ca/hostels/Ontario/OntarioEast/OttawaInternationalHostel/Hostels/index.html


January 4, 2003

Today's Tasty Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

When German police arrested the cannibalistic sex-killer Joachim Kroll in 1976, they found something cooking on his stove - the chopped off hand of a four-year-old girl, simmering in a saucepan with sliced potatoes and carrots.

Culled from: The A-Z Encyclopedia Of Serial Killers

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Hand: It's what's for dinner. I hope he cooked up some good gravy for it, because as my friend The Mind Orbitor knows, a hand is just a snack, but a hand with gravy is a delicacy.

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I am flying out tomorrow to Augusta, Georgia for another two week work-related trip. During this time, I'll be sending out the MFDJ via the hotel's high-speed internet connection. When I do that, about 500-600 e-mails will not receive the newsletter, due to the addressee's ISP rejecting mails sent from the Lodgenet connection that the hotel uses. I think it's primarily Yahoo that rejects the mails, but it may be other ISP's as well. What this all means is that if you aren't receiving the MFDJ mailings, please try taking a look at the website (http://asylumeclectica.com/asylum/morbid/) instead. I'll do my best to keep that site updated on a daily basis with the latest facts. Sorry for the inconvenience... but cyber-fate is just conspiring against me right now!

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Since a couple of this year's morbid facts have been about lynching, I thought it was a good time to post the lyrics to the quite morbid Billie Holiday song "Strange Fruit", which were sent to me by Clare.

Strange Fruit

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is the fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.


January 5, 2003

Today's Deceptive Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

An Italian man who packed his bags 44 years ago and told friends he was leaving for America was found dead inside one of the walls of his home on Tuesday, December 3, 2002. An American woman who recently bought the house near Lucca in northern Tuscany discovered the body as she was carrying out renovations. Inside a thick wall in the cellar the woman found human remains, two packed suitcases, a trowel and other equipment to make a wall, a rusted rifle and a bottle with a suicide note. The note, on paper headed with the name Nemo Cianelli, explained that the man had discovered he had an incurable disease and had decided to kill himself. He said he had invented the tale of going to America to avoid upsetting his family. Local newspapers reported in 1958 that Cianelli was missing, and speculated that he might have gone to America, but after a period of rumour and mystery, the story was forgotten. Police said it appeared Cianelli had packed his suitcases, written the suicide note, built a wall up around himself and then shot himself.

Culled from: Reuters
Generously donated by: Amos Quito

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Hmmmm... So he thought that abandoning his family and making them suffer by not knowing his fate for all those years was less upsetting than dying from a disease? That seems like strange thinking to me, but what would an isolated and disfigured old Comtesse know about such things, anyway? But the real point I'm trying to make is - doesn't this story just make you want to go and knock out all the walls in your house/apartment just to see if someone's there?!?! Or is that just me, yet again?

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Aghast!*

The Mourner sends us a photograph of a particularly nasty injury:

"Here's a somewhat graphic picture of a wrestler who had shoulder surgery for a severe infection. Imagine if that was your arm!"

http://www.chriskanyon.com/photo_shoulder_injury.htm

Actually... I'd rather not!

(I decided to go back to my old web page name for ghastly images. You're probably all too young to remember that page, anyway!)

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You may recall my discussion regarding the Ottawa Jail hostel from the Friday MFDJ (if not, it's in the archives under 1/3/03 - http://asylumeclectica.com/asylum/morbid/archives/morb0103.htm). Our Swedish friend Ulf has some interesting comments to add:

"In youy latest e-mail you found it morbid to stay in a prison converted to a hostel. I think this is more common than first thought would acknowledge. For example in Prague (capital of Cz) they have converted the old prison cells used by the secret police for interrogation to a youth hostel and specificaly marked the cell used by Vaclav Havel when he was held there. I know sice I have stayed in this centrally situated but somewhat spartan accommodation myself.

"In Stockholm (capital of Sweden) they have also converted an old prison (Långholmen) to a hostel without much more changes than better beds and the possibility to lock (and unlock) the door from within."

Okay, has something like this ever been done in the states or do we only tear down our old prisons or turn them into museums? I feel culturally deprived here!!


January 6, 2003

Today's Gruesome Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In a gruesome incident, a new born baby which had been abandoned on a street in Sonepat, Haryana India) was killed by a stray dog which then ate part of it's head. While police succeeded in snatching the half-eaten head from the stray dog after a long struggle yesterday (January 5, 2003), the remaining portion of the body was still missing. The head had been sent for postmortem. They said the infant, allegedly the result of an illicit relationship, was dumped in a street in Vishal Nagar area probably by its mother. A case has been registered and a hunt launched to trace the mother.

Culled from: Press Trust of India (PTI)
Generously donated by: Katie

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First of all, that poor dog must have been half-starved! Poor thing.

Secondly, I can't even imagine what they'll do to the mother if they find her, can you? <shudder>

John proselytizes: "This supports the argument, that people shouldn't be allowed to reproduce until they can prove they are able to deal with a child. The mother will probably be punished if caught, but the father should be held equally responsible. All fathers should be held equally responsible for their offspring, either financially, or through direct support. I'm a man saying this, and it's been far too long that men have gotten away without taking responsibility for their children. I don't mean to preach but your comment touched a nerve regarding babies and their care, especially when we have crazy people trying to clone humans, invitro fertilization, etc. There are enough babies out there for everyone to help raise. Old, rich, white people don't need to be making any more copies of themselves. I'm a psych nurse in San Francisco, and the other night a coworker made a joke about drive-by Depo, meaning wouldn't it be nice to be able to drive by and shoot people with DepoProvera and prevent them from reproducing in the first place. I concurred with her sentiment, but I think it should be little boys who are given vasectomies soon after birth. Then, when they are adults, and have attended parenting classes, they can have it reversed. My coworker laughed and said if that happened the human race would die out."

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You may recall - and if you don't, you should probably be checked for Alzheimer's - yesterday's link to the graphic picture of a severe shoulder infection:

http://www.chriskanyon.com/photo_shoulder_injury.htm

Well, Beth has some medical insight to provide:

"Regards the 'graphic' picture - I'm a nurse, and I can tell you that is really a very good picture - the infected area is clean and pink, and the fact that the wound shape is symmetrical shows that it is healing well. Sorry to bust your morbid bubble..."

Just goes to show how even the good things in life can look horrible at first. (Soon available as a Hallmark greeting card...)

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And Beth doesn't just stop there! She also provides an exceptionally delightful...

Morbid Read Du Jour!

"The Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, long known for their calendars showing museum pieces (it's one of the last and greatest medical museums) has ceased printing their calendar. But, they have come out with a book:

"Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia
by Gretchen Worden (this delightful lady is the museum's curator)

"There are lots of pictures that are really more fascinating than morbid, but as I am also the daughter of a doctor and a nurse, I grew up with this kind of reading material and so I really enjoyed the book. What has always interested me is how the subjects in the pictures present themselves - there are pictures of women and men in full evening dress, pulling up their skirts and trouser legs to show off leg amputations. In the older pictures, for some reason there are no efforts made to conceal the patient's identities - nowadays the subjects have their eyes or faces blacked out but in these early
pictures nothing is done. I saw a picture once where the subjects were blindfolded - I thought that was interesting.

"At any rate, it's a good book."

This book was just published in December, and although I'm sad to see the calendar go, I'm pleased that there's finally a book showcasing this amazing museum (which I have visited and documented in a travelogue at http://asylumeclectica.com/asylum/sightseer/us/pa/mutter.htm).

This book is available from Amazon.Com, if you'd like to support your friendly neighborhood Comtesse:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0922233241/theasylumeclecti

You can bet I'll be picking one up ASAP!


January 8, 2003

Today's Most Horrible Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The seventh book of Pliny's "Natural History" contains a section on the signs of death among the Romans. Rather pessimistically, Pliny wrote that the signs of death are innumerable, but that there are no signs that health is secure. Although many in number, these death signs were not always reliable. Shockingly, the consul Acilius Aviola and the praetor Lucius Lamia had both awakened on their flaming funeral pyres after being falsely declared dead, and the attendants could save neither of them from a most horrible death.

Culled from: Buried Alive

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Ah yes... the proverbial "rude awakening".

I'm currently reading the book "Buried Alive" and so far it's been quite interesting. On the plane flying here to Augusta on Sunday, I also read another excellent (but very short) Lynda Barry book entitled, "The Good Times Are Killing Me". She's one of the few fiction writers I actually read and her writing style is wonderful. She can conjure up awkward childhood and adolescence better than anyone I've ever read. Her books are well worth checking out!

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Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Doesn't Rotten.Com just have the coolest shirts?

http://www.rottenstore.com/freakboy.html

and if you've never visited http://www.rotten.com, what are you waiting for?

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The Asylum Eclectica Goes Missing!! - News at 11

If you were particularly aware yesterday, you may have noticed that my Asylum Eclectica (http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/) was inaccessible. Yes, I noticed it too, as I tried to access the site and was rudely spat upon with a 'Forbidden' message. What??? Forbidden??? MOI??? Impossible! So, I quickly snatched the first technical support person I came across at my webhosting company and said, "What in tarnation is going on here!?!?!" Well, much to my chagrin, it turned out that my payments had been bouncing because I had neglected to update my payment information when I moved, so they had cancelled my account. I quickly made amends and today the page was restored to its former "glory"... apparently. Sorry if this scared any of you. It certainly scared me!


January 12, 2003

Today's Informational Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

R.J. Rummel is a political scientist at the University of Hawaii who studies mass killing. The following are Rummel's Top Ten most murderous regimes (from his article in the Encyclopedia of Genocide, 1999):

(1) USSR, 62 million deaths, 1917-'87;
(2) People's Republic of China, 35 million, 1949-'87;
(3) Germany, 21 million, 1933-'45;
(4) nationalist China, 10 million, 1928-'49;
(5) Japan, 6 million, 1936-'45;
(6) prerevolutionary Chinese communists ("Mao Soviets"), 3.5 million, 1923-'49;
(7) Cambodia, 2 million, 1975-'79;
(8) Turkey (Armenian genocide), 1.9 million, 1909-'18;
(9) Vietnam, 1.7 million, 1945-'87;
(10) Poland, 1.6 million, 1945-'48;

Rummel goes on to identify the top nine killers:

(1) Joseph Stalin, 43 million dead, 1929-'53;
(2) Mao Tse-tung, 38 million, 1923-'76;
(3) Adolf Hitler, 21 million, 1933-'45;
(4) Chiang Kai-shek, 10 million, 1921-'48;
(5) Vladimir Lenin, 4 million, 1917-'24;
(6) Tojo Hideki (Japan), 4 million, 1941-'45;
(7) Pol Pot, 2.4 million, 1968-'87;
(8) Yahya Khan (Pakistan), 1.5 million, 1971;
(9) Josip Broz, better known as Marshal Tito (Yugoslavia), 1.2 million, 1941-'80.

Culled from: The Straight Dope
Generously donated by: Gena

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This answer was prompted by someone asking if Andrew Jackson's forced displacement of Native Americans ("The Trail Of Tears") ranked with the worst genocides on record. The answer? "Please. I don't want to minimize the cruelty of the Trail of Tears (1838-'39) or Jackson's culpability for it. But strictly in terms of body count, the forced removal of the Cherokee probably doesn't crack the top hundred instances of genocide, much less the top ten. The death toll most commonly cited is 4,000--mostly due to exposure, malnutrition, and disease. By contrast, in the 20th century, far and away the bloodiest period in history, state-sponsored slaughter of innocents averaged 5,300 victims worldwide per day -- 170 million in all."

Happy Days Are Here Again, indeed...

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Okay, what sort of museum would lock away two shrunken bodies (not just heads - but entire BODIES) in their basement due to "public sensitivity"? A museum not worth visiting, in my book! Luckily, someone named Caroline Alexander was able to unearth a photograph of these incredible oddities (even though the museum had hidden the *photographs* away too!), and has shared the story and image with us at:

http://www.dcn.davis.ca.us/~brandi/littlemen.html

Special thanks to Chris Kench for the link!

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Morbid Flick Du Jour!

from Karrmen:

"I feel the need to suggest NEAR DARK, since I don't see it listed as suggested viewing. How has this one slipped past? It is probably the best vampire movie ever made, a diesel-dripping Southern Gothic. It was directed by Kathyrn Bigelow, and notably stars Lance Henrikson, Bill Paxton, and Jeanette Goldstein, who are so stunningly good that her partner at the time, James Cameron, borrowed them for ALIENS. Huzzah for women directors who plumb the filth of the ravenous dustbowl of the South!"

Well, despite the fact that I absolutely DESPISE Bill Paxton (tell me - has a worse actor ever existed? Umm, besides Keanu, of course), I think I'll have to check this one out.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00006CXGP/theasylumeclecti


January 13, 2003

Today's Poignant Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A truck rear-ended an Amish family's horse-drawn buggy Sunday (11/10/02), killing the mother and two children and injuring the father and one other child. The driver of the truck was not injured. Sadie Hertzler, 27, and Mary Hertzler, 5, were dead at the scene. Malinda Hertzler, 3, died later at Geisinger Medical Center. The Hertzlers were riding on Route 42 in Greenwood Township in north-central Pennsylvania Sunday morning when the buggy was struck and plunged over an embankment. Amos Hertzler was treated at Geisinger and released, and 2-year-old Henry Hertzler was not injured. Another child, Jacob Hertzler, whose age hadn't been determined, was reported in fair condition. The truck driver, Todd Trivelpiece, 28, was not injured; police said an investigation was continuing and no charges had been filed.

Culled from: The Associated Press
http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/Northeast/11/10/amish.wreck.ap/index.html
Generously donated by: Dom

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True, this isn't the most detailed of facts, but I had to share simply because of the poignancy of the photograph of the accident scene (see link above). Tell me, is that not the saddest picture? It sums up the hazards of being 18th Century in a 21st Century world so well...

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Do you recall MH's "Brush With Morbidity" regarding "Dead Weight"? (See the Featured Brush at the online archive - http://asylumeclectica.com/asylum/morbid/brush/index.html - if you need reminding.)

Well, Dom has his own story regarding Dead Weight to share with us:

"I learned about Dead Weight. I work in a hospital, part time, as a Patient Transporter. Patient Transporting is how patients get from their room to the dept where they are having a test done and then they are transported a second time back to their room. I only work weekends and about every weekend we probably have about 1 or 2 patients we have to transport to the cold box. One time we had a 300lb. woman pass away in the ER. When we arrived to pickup the body we realized that we need to make sure that we were very careful with this one because it was apparent that she barely made it into the bag. Her arms were being kept at her side by the tightness of the bag. Once we had her on the Morgue stretcher (it has a special frame that is raised above body's profile and a cloth that drapes over the frame so that it looks like a maintainance cart) it took three of us to get the stretcher going. This dead weight didn't want to go anywhere. Eventually we got her into the Morgue. Almost as soon as we get her there, we get a call from the supervisor. Apparently this lady donated her eyes. We were instructed to get two 4x4 gauze pads and saturate them in saline then place them over her eyes. One guy there kept playing with her eyelids. The Morgue is a pretty peaceful place. I like it there the most. It's almost completely silent. There are amputated arms and legs on shelves. Feet and containers filled with various internal organs. The first container I read contained a removed saline breast implant. I started cracking up. I'll tell you about my trips to the ICU some other time. Now there's an unhappy place."

And I'm sure we'd love to hear them, Dom!

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Morbid Read Du Jour!

Recommended by Kateo2859:

Last Breath: Cautionary Tales from the Limits of Human Endurance
by Peter Stark

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0345441508/theasylumeclecti

This one sounds pretty interesting. Here's the description from Amazon:

"Based on interviews with accident survivors and the medical specialists who treat them, veteran outdoor writer Peter Stark offers mostly fictitious accounts (there is one based on a true historical incident) of people caught in life-threatening situations. In Last Breath, he thoroughly explores what happens to the human body and mind during drowning, a long fall, burial beneath an avalanche, hypothermia, dehydration, mountain sickness, the bends, malaria, scurvy, hyperthermia, and contact with a poisonous jellyfish. Stark packs enough historic and scientific information and page-turning suspense into each chapter to make them all fascinating and useful. And he answers some perplexing questions in the process, such as why those suffering from acute hypothermia often rip off their clothing in an effort to save themselves."

The only thing that I don't like is the "fictitious accounts" thing. Why couldn't they spice it up with some real life scenarios? Being a non-fiction junkie, I think that would have been much more ideal. But it still sounds like a book to get you thinking morbid thoughts, and that certainly can't be bad! :)


January 14, 2003

Today's Enhanced Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

An Indonesian transvestite died after he injected himself with silicon that he hoped would enlarge his breasts. The victim, identified only as Sugrabrata, 35, was found dead in a rented room in a poor district of central Jakarta late on Friday. He had a substance that police suspected was silicon leaking from a puncture hole in his chest. The paper quoted Sugrabrata's brother as saying that he had injected himself three times with silicon before his death. He obtained the chemical from a friend.

Culled from: news.com.aud
http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,5832063%5E1702,00.html
Generously donated by: axollot

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So, where, I ask, are the Boob Aid charity concerts for poor third world transvestites?
Hmmmmm... this cause has "Michael Jackson" written all over it!

Kevin adds some tidbits: "This is extremely popular in Brazil - they call themselves 'travestis. There are whole books about them. Some horrifying stories, too... they have to inject themselves while wearing a bra and sleep upright so that it'll set right. Some of them fall asleep and permanently disfigure their chests by the
imprints from their knees. Plus, if it doesn't set right it has a tendency to sink into the ankles or the scrotum and then solidify into jiggly blobs that can't be moved. Definitely something to look into."


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From the "Now I've Seen Everything" Files:

epitaph has sent me a link to an article on the Body Modification E-zine website about a pair of identical twins who have made some... unusual... alterations to their bodies. A must-see for Freak Fans!

http://www.bmezine.com/news/people/A10101/addsub/

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Aghast!!!

Elizabeth sends us a link to some photographs of a couple of rather extremely well done bits of facial plastic surgery. But tell me now - that guy in the middle... Would you really go THAT LONG without seeing a doctor? Either he's one MAJOR doctorphobe... or a typical American without health insurance.

http://www-nmcp.mar.med.navy.mil/Plastics/facial.asp


January 15, 2003

Today's Wicked Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

An enraged mob killed a suspected child rapist, dragging him from a rural jail and then from a hospital where he had been taken by police - twice dousing him with gasoline and setting him on fire (1/13/03). Television news programs broadcast footage of the grisly attack by about 1,000 residents of Cayambe, a highland village 30 miles north of the capital, Quito. The angry mob broke down the metal door of the Cayambe jail and overpowered four policemen to reach Marcelo Quinonez, 26. Dragging him into the street, the mob beat and kicked Quinonez, then doused him with gasoline and set him on fire. Police used tear gas to break up the crowd and rescue Quinonez, but when they took him to a hospital the crowd followed. They dragged Quinonez back into the street and torched him a second time. Police again broke up the crowd and transferred Quinonez to a government hospital in Quito, some 30 miles south, where he died. Quinonez, a black man in a town of mostly Indians and mestizos, had been detained on Friday to protect him from townspeople who accused him of raping a child. Anger escalated as word spread that Quinonez was in custody and by noon on Monday, hundreds of people had surrounded the jail shouting, "death to the rapist and murderer" and "we want justice." The large number of people involved in the attack made it nearly impossible to prosecute those responsible. Television reporters interviewed several townspeople who appeared unrepentant. "We grabbed the wicked man because he committed his obscene crimes and just
walked free as if nothing had happened," an unidentified woman told television reporters.

Culled from: The Associated Press
Generously donated by: Neil Langdon Inglis

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Wow - a modern day lynching!! And how much do you want to bet he was innocent too?

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A Morbid Thumbs Up for those of you who guessed that the body modification article that I featured in yesterday's newsletter was, in fact, a fake. Hmmmmm... maybe it was the date of April 1, 1999 that gave it away??? More's the pity, huh? :(

http://www.bmezine.com/news/people/A10101/addsub/

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Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Now, who can possibly resist a store that advertises itself as, "T-Shirts For The Morally Impaired". Yes, run, don't walk, to Bounty Hunter, Inc. for some high quality shirts that you really probably shouldn't wear around Mom.

http://www.bountyhunterinc.com/

My personal favorite? The coffin with the word 'Happiness' underneath it.

Special thanks to Abigail for the link.


January 19, 2003

Today's Jealous Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A 4-year-old girl is suspected of killing her infant brother in a possible case of jealousy. Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart said an autopsy showed 2-month-old Alfred Griffin Jr. died Monday of multiple skull fractures. The infant also had abrasions, bites and scratches on his face. The children's father, Alfred Griffin Sr., 22, said he found the baby unconscious early Monday. "I saw the bite marks on his jaw," Griffin said. "I put him up to me and he wasn't breathing. I just panicked and started hollering." Authorities suspect the baby's 4-year-old sister was the killer. Griffin said his daughter may have been jealous of the baby, and sometimes gave him menacing looks when he played with the infant. Griffin said the state Department of Human Services had taken custody of the 4-year-old and three other children, ages 6, 7 and 9. Under state law, children under age 10 may not be prosecuted because they are unable to appreciate that they've committed a crime. Authorities were investigating whether there was any neglect in the household or if there was a failure to monitor the children.

Culled from: The Associated Press
Generously donated by: Axollot

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Now, what did I tell you about children and dogs?? YOU CAN'T TRUST THEM! Never turn your back on them, or you're a goner. I can't believe they'd leave a baby alone with a 4-year-old. When will they ever learn?

And as for the parents... how do you suppose they'll react towards the girl who killed their baby? This will be worse than "Ordinary People"...

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Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Here are a couple more Dahmerisms, courtesy of Allen:

How did they know Dahmer smoked?
There were butts all over

What kind of shampoo did Damher use?
Head and Shoulders

Anyone else got some?

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"My Brush With Morbidity" by DJ Skola

"Eleven years ago, I was in first grade in public school in Pennsylvania. While eating lunch, I stared out the window, and saw on the reflections of the house next to the school, a small plane with a helicopter under it. The helicopter seemed to rise straight into the airplane. The next thing I knew, this entire thing was falling out of the sky. I was rooted to the spot. The only reason I even left was because some of the teachers rushed in to evacuate us. Rather that following the crowd, though, I was stupid enough to run the other way, into the smoke, and out the other exit. I think I had a thought of running home to tell my parents that something was wrong. Regardless, I stepped outside and saw something moving in the fire, making a lot of noise. Only years later did I realize that I was seeing one of my friends burn to death. To this day, I can still walk back there and point out the exact spot where she died."

(My Brush With Morbidity archives can be found at http://asylumeclectica.com/asylum/morbid/brush/)


January 20, 2003

Today's Idiotic Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A jury on Thursday, December 4, 2002 handed a life prison sentence to a man in Bandera, Texas who shot and killed a longtime friend he accused of drinking the last beer in his refrigerator. Jurors deliberated for less than two hours before passing the sentence on Steven Brasher, 42, for the murder of Willie Lawson, 39, on November 5 last year. "There was only two beers left, so I took one, and I told Willie not to take my last beer," said Brasher in a taped statement that was played during the trial. Testimony showed Brasher shot Lawson in the head with a pistol after the two began arguing over the missing beer. Brasher maintained the shooting was an accident

Culled from: Reuters
Generously donated by: Stephen O'Rourke

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Can't you just see this one used for the next high profile Super Bowl beer commercial? Only in the commercial, Brasher says, "He took my last Bud Lite" - and the judge says, "Well, why didn't you say that in the first place? <cracks gavel> Case dismissed!" And then the crowd celebrates, and the jury cracks open a case of Bud and starts tossing them around the room.

Hmmmmm... I really should be in advertising, shouldn't I? ;-)

Amy points out: "The article fails to mention that Steve Brasher is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. Welcome to Texas and our wonderful 'justice' system."


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Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Okay, if you thought Living Dead Dolls were cool (and they are), then you're gonna LOVE the unbelievably creepy cool Autopsy Zombie Staple Babies! I want them all... but they're only available by auction (the latest twisted creation is currently going for $227.50 on Ebay with two days left). Still, a perusal of the archive is definitely worth your time!

http://www.boundinstripes.net/autopsybabies/

And if you click on the 'Baby Poo' link, you'll find they have t-shirts too!

Special thanks to Deanna for the link!


January 25, 2003

Today's Disgusting Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

An emaciated 15-year-old girl whose guardian kept her housebound was found dead on the floor of her home. Ciara Jobes' room was unfurnished and unheated, and she used a hole in a wall as a toilet. "There was excrement throughout the room," Detective Marvin Sydnor said. He said Ciara apparently vomited and died on December 11, 2002 several hours before her 31-year-old guardian called for help. The teen's body looked "more like a skeleton." Ciara hadn't been to school this fall and wasn't allowed to leave the house. Sydnor declined to identify the guardian but said she often lost her temper and couldn't care for the teen. Ciara's mother is dead, and her father's whereabouts are unknown. She had been in the guardian's legal care for four years.

Culled from: ABC News
Generously donated by: Rebecca

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I think the word, "Ugh!" sums it all up.

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Yes, I lapsed again, didn't I? This time it was a 15 hr/day work week that killed it. Well, that and other things. But you're tired of hearing my excuses, aren't you? I guess it will suffice to say that sometimes life impedes on morbid facts, and leave it at that. But I always do my best...

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Morbid Flick Du Jour!

I just finally rented an absolutely amazing film called "Requiem For A Dream". Yes, I know, you're all rolling your eyes and thinking, "She's just NOW seeing that one??? Everybody's seen that!!" In my defense, I have wanted to see it since the day it was released, but circumstances being what they are, I've only finally gotten around to it.

In any event, for the handful of you who haven't already viewed it, this film is a must-see. It concerns the downfall of three junkies (Marlon Wayans, Jared Leto, and - sigh... - Jennifer Connelly) and Jared's mother (Oscar nominee Ellen Burstyn) who is hooked on barbituates. Some of the scenes are shockingly graphic, which I know won't scare YOU lot away, but they are compellingly realistic as well. The musical score - by the Kronos Quartet - is also perfect, as are all the performances. In a just world, this film would have swept the Academy Awards, but unfortunately our world is far from just...

WARNING: This film is about the death of hope... so I would highly recommend that the highly depressed and suicidal think twice about watching it!

Oh, if you rent the DVD - be sure to check out the 'Making Of' feature for the bloody background on some of the gruesome special effects. Plus, more shots with Jennifer Connelly (who makes a stunning junkie) in them. Can't beat that!

Another Warning: this film comes in an 'Edited' and 'Director's Cut' version. I held out until I could see the Director's Cut version, so I'm not sure exactly what's missing from the edited version, but I personally wouldn't risk it.

In any event, here's a link to the unedited DVD on Amazon, in case you'd like to help support the morbid habits of a lonely old Comtesse. :)

Requiem For A Dream

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Morbid Read Du Jour!

Recommended by Carmen:

"I just read Passage by Connie Willis. It's an SF novel about a couple of doctors doing research on near death experiences. One doctor chemically simulates NDEs while the other interviews the volunteers about what they experienced. A great read. What made it even more fun was the beginning of each chapter started with the dying words of some famous person.

"Examples:

"'More light.'
Goethe's last words

"'Oh, shit.'
Last words on majority of flight recorders recovered after plane crashes

"'I beg your pardon, monsieur. I did not mean to do it.'
Marie Antoinette, after she had accidentally stepped on the executioner's foot while mounting to the guillotine

Although I'm not a non-fiction reader, this one does sound quite intriguing, and it is on the Amazon.Com Best of 2001 list...

Passage


January 26, 2003

Today's Trippy Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A visit with grandparents became a family tragedy as a 5-year-old Kentucky girl suffered a fatal stab wound from a knife in a dishwasher door. Authorities say Payton McElroy, of Waverly, Ky., fell onto the open and horizontal dishwasher door Wednesday night (January 22, 2003) and suffered the fatal wound. Coroner Stephen Shouse says the daughter of Doug and Jennifer McElroy was pronounced dead at Union County Methodist Hospital about an hour after the 7:10 p.m. accident. Shouse says the girl, her mother and brother were visiting at grandparents James and Niesje McElroy's house in Morganfield for dinner while the girl's father was out of town. He says the children were playing in the house while the grandmother was unloading the dishwasher. Shouse says the little girl came running through the kitchen toward her grandmother, but tripped and fell onto the open dishwasher door. Shouse says the child screamed loudly and pushed back off the knife, which stayed in the dishwasher. He says the knife punctured the child's heart and left lung.

Culled from: The Associated Press
Generously donated by: Paradox

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Now perhaps you understand why your Mom always told you not to run in the house?

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Morbid Link Du Jour!

Bored and blue with nothing to do? Why not put your creativity to work and design your own dead baby? If that doesn't cheer you up, what will?

http://thisisacryforhelp.com/deadbabies/dressupx.htm

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Morbid Read Du Jour!

Forget Harry Potter! Everyone knows what the coolest series of children's books are right now: A Series Of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket! In fact, these books are so cool, they don't even qualify as "children's books" - they are more like ultra-cool, Victorian-tinged, Edward Gorey influenced parodies of children's books. Imminently readable for adults as well. Now, I can't say how the whole series reads, since I myself have only read the first book ("The Bad Beginning"), but if they are as good as that one, it's an exceptional series. I would highly recommend it - and so would OujiVejita: "Lemony Snicket writes gleefully morbid stories about a trio of miserable orphans."

Here's the introduction from the first book, which pretty much tells the story:

"Dear Reader, I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune. In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast. It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing."

And I'm suspecting you wouldn't prefer that sort of thing, would you?

Books 1-3 and books 4-6 have been released in boxed sets, and I'm sure that 7-9 will be on the way soon. In the meantime, here's all the links:

The Trouble Begins (Books 1-3)
The Situation Worsens (Books 4-6)
The Vile Village (Book 7)
The Hostile Hospital (Book 8)
The Carnivorous Carnival (Book 9)


January 28, 2003

Today's Eccentric Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Miss Hannah Beswick, a wealthy 18th century spinster living in Manchester, was frightened of being prematurely buried, after her brother had narrowly escaped this dire fate. She left 20,000 guineas to her family physician, Dr. Charles White, on the condition that she never be buried, that her body instead be embalmed and kept in the doctor's collection of anatomical preparations. Every day, for several years, the doctor and two reliable witnesses were to lift the veil and survey the countenance of this macabre resident patient for any signs of life. Later, the doctor put Miss Beswick's mummy inside an old clock case and opened the clock face once a year to see how his favorite patient was doing. Thanks to her eccentric will, the immortal Miss Beswick became quite a celebrity. The doctor fulfilled his side of the deal to the end. After his death in 1813, Miss Beswick's mummy was taken to the Manchester Natural History Museum, where it was publicly shown in the Entrance Hall. Finally, it was decently interred in 1868.

Culled from: Buried Alive

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I think it's tragic that they disobeyed her dying wish and buried her! It's tragic for her... and it's tragic for me because I never had the chance to visit her. People are soooooo selfish!!!

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Morbid Link Du Jour!

Our friend Alf sends this bizarre little slice of Thai life that he lovingly entitles, "Magical Excreter with Predictive Powers?" Another in the continuing series of "You've Got To Read It To (maybe not even) Believe It!"

http://www.corkscrew-balloon.com/02/12/1bkk/index.html#12

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Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Why not go out in "style" with a WhiteLight Art Coffin?

http://www.artcaskets.com/

Ummm... Lovely... but I think I'll have to pass. Just give me basic black, please...

Contributed by Christian


January 29, 2003

Today's Solemn Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Okay, you just have to love old epitaphs, from the days when they weren't at all shy to lay out all the gruesome details of a tragic death for passersby to share. If only we still did such things today, I might have a reason to find modern cemeteries worth a stroll... But enough of my scattered thoughts: here's an old epitaph worth savoring!

MARY, SARAH AND ELIZA ATWOOD (1794-1808, 1801-1808 AND 1805-1808)

Mary, Sarah and
Eliza Atwood
who were poisoned by
eating fungous vegetables
mistaken for champignons
on the 11th day of October 1808
and died at the ages of 14, 7 and 5 years
within a few hours of each other
in excruciating circumstances.
The father, mother and now,
alas, an only child,
partakers of the same meal,
have survived with debilitated
constitutions and to lament
so dreadful a calumny.
This monument is erected
to perpetuate the fatal events
as an awful caution to others,
let it be too
a solemn warning that in our most grateful
enjoyments even in our necessary food
may lurk deadly poison.

Culled from: Eccentric Epitaphs by Michelle Lovric

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Morbid Link Du Jour!

This is one of the more eccentric websites anyone has ever sent to me. It seems that back in the Victorian era they used to make an art out of taxidermy - dressing up dead critters in outlandish costumes and poses. Sounds horrible, but the antiques on this website are quite fascinating, in their own creepy way.

http://www.acaseofcuriosities.com/wonderland_main.html

Thanks to HAL for the contribution.

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Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

We've been featuring morbid dolls quite a lot lately, so why not visit Lady Nemesis' quite lovely Ghoulie Babies and Glamour Vamps website? We need more people with hobbies like these...

http://www.users.bigpond.net.au/ghouliebabies




Vulgarities...