February, 2005

February 2, 2005

Today's Pickled Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Suzanne Churchod was the wife of Jacques Necker, minister of finance for Louis XVI at the outset of the French Revolution. She left instructions that her body was to be preserved in a huge tank of alcohol within a mausoleum to be built on their estate on the shore of Lake Geneva. Her daughter wrote, "Perhaps you do not know that my mother gave orders so singular and extraordinary ... [that] she believed the features of her face would be so perfectly preserved that my poor father would spend the rest of his life looking at her." When the mausoleum was opened in 1804 to receive the body of her daughter, Necker and his wife were found "in a black marble basin, still half filled with alcohol". Necker's face was perfectly preserved but his wife's head had fallen off.

Culled from: Death: A History Of Man's Obsessions and Fears by Robert Wilkins

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I'm back from my perilous work-related journey to Puerto Rico. What an interesting trip that turned out to be. Did you know that as of last Thursday there had already been 55 homicides? That's pretty impressive considering there had only been 27 days in the year and it's a pretty small island.

And there were also two drownings in the surf just outside our beachfront resort hotel. We saw the police searching for one of the bodies (that of a bus driver who was eventually pulled out of the water a day or two later), and then while I was at work one day, my girlfriend was able to walk up to another body of a drowned tourist laying sprawled across the sand. (I'll let her tell that story herself in an upcoming Brush With Morbidity.)

So, on the whole it was a most morbid and strange outing. I also was able to capture a number of photographs of a beautiful cemetery next to the El Morro Spanish fort that I will be posting on my site in the near future.

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Morbid Sightseeing!

Good news for the West Coast: A second edition of Gunther von Hagen's Body Worlds is coming to the California Science Center!

"In response to the tremendous popularity of BODY WORLDS: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies, we are pleased to announce the American debut of BODY WORLDS 2. The new exhibit equals its predecessor in size and proportion, comprising 20,000 square feet and more than 200 all-new plastinated real human body specimens, including more than 20 full-body plastinates.

"Highlights include the Suicide by Fat--Obesity Revealed specimen, which shows fat tissue and its relentless, unremitting ability to shorten life by damaging vital organs like the heart and bones. Cube Head acts as a 3D puzzle showing us the density of the human head displayed inch-by-inch and how it connects and works together. Orthopedic Man demonstrates a variety of surgically implanted orthopedic devices. These and other real preserved human specimens reveal new views of the body in mesmerizing detail."

To learn more, please visit http://www.californiasciencecenter.org/goto.php?key=bw2

And of course, the original Body Worlds exhibit is opening in Chicago on Friday! Unfortunately, it will be a couple of weeks before I can make it to the exhibit, but I'm standing first in line in spirit on Friday.

http://www.msichicago.org/bodyworlds/index.html


February 17, 2005

Today's Fitful Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

On February 21, 1673 French playwright and actor Moliere collapsed during the fourth performance of his newly penned Le Malade Imaginaire (The Hypochondriac). Overwhelmed by a coughing fit, he was carried to his home in the Rue de Richelieu, Paris, where he died.

Culled from: Snopes.Com
Link generously submitted by: Bill

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Patrick has an addition:
"Just as an addition to today's fact: Because of the way Moliere died, he could not be given a proper burial. Because of it's false nature, acting was considered a sin. And because Moliere did not have time to confess between the time he was taken off stage and the time he died, there was a huge debate over whether or not he could be buried in a Christian cemetary. In the end, I believe, the king had to intercede and have his remains relocated several days after he was already in the ground.


"Here's a page with a bit more info:
http://www.imagi-nation.com/moonstruck/clsc35.html

"In addition, I think part of his remains have been lost, but I can't find any source to back me up on that. It's just a vague memory from a Dramatic Literature class."

Sorry about the recent hiatus. I was called away to a dreadful work assignment without warning. However, I am quite certain that there will be no more surprises in the near future... or at least, I'm quite certain that I don't wish there to be any. Hopefully that counts... In any event, I hope you were able to carry on without me.

I'm quite forlorn tonight, as my beloved feline is in the hospital suffering from kidney failure. The doctor is hopeful that the condition can be reversed and the illness can be controlled with a change in diet and medication. However, that's slim consolation as I sit here alone in The Castle DeSpair. Sigh...

And on that happy note, on with today's...

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Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Searching for the perfect gift for the golf-enthusiast in your life? Well, search no longer!

http://www.pushindaisies.com/candypress/scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=173

Thank you to Dr. Wolf for the link!


February 18, 2005

Today's Ripped Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A British woman was sentenced to two and a half years in jail on Thursday, February 10, 2005 for ripping off her ex-lover's testicle with her bare hands during a drunken brawl after he refused her sex. Amanda Monti, 24, flew into a rage in May last year after Geoffrey Jones, 37, who had ended their long-term relationship, rejected her advances. She grabbed him by the genitals, tearing off his left testicle, then hid it in her mouth before a friend of Jones handed it back to him saying "that's yours." Monti, of Birkenhead, near Liverpool, pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding at an earlier hearing.

Culled from: Reuters
Link generously submitted by: Sean

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Random thoughts...

1) How sharp must her nails have been to rip through a scrotum to gain access to the testicle?

2) She hid it in her mouth. Talk about oral fixation.

3) What a nice friend to hand it back to poor Geoffrey with the words, "That's yours". We should all have such kind and devoted friends.

4) "Unlawful Wounding". The Brits have much better names for their crimes, don't you think?

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Morbid Art Du Jour!

Okay, this art isn't strictly morbid... but there is a dark edge to many of the exquisite paintings and digital images on Ryan Obermeyer's website. And goths among you might appreciate his work on the Rasputina album Cabin Fever. Thanks to Elizabeth for sending me the link.

http://www.ryanobermeyer.com/


February 19, 2005

Today's Forgotten Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Actress Clara Blandick (Auntie Em from "The Wizard of Oz") was born on June 4, 1881, on an American ship docked in a Hong Kong harbor. She began her acting career as a leading lady on the American stage, but she was a less prominent figure in the movies. Although she acted in a remarkable 118 films with such stars as Clark Gable and Bette Davis, she was usually found in bit parts and was rarely listed in film credits. She was not even listed in the opening credits of "The Wizard of Oz." Her only credit appeared at the end of the film where she was billed last in the closing credits...below Pat Walshe, the lead flying monkey. She was paid $750 for one week's work. Clara Blandick retired from acting in 1950. She suffered from various health problems in her later years. On April 15, 1962 the 80-year-old actress took her own life by swallowing an overdose of sleeping pills and pulling a plastic bag over her head.

Culled from: A Suite101.Com article written by Karen Barker Crowley
Link generously submitted by: X

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I admit I think about the sad fact that both Dorothy and Auntie Em took their own lives when I watch The Wizard Of Oz. This sort of knowledge can only possible enhance the cinematic experience, don't you think?

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Tragedy Du Jour!

Another perfectly fascinating freak ruined in the name of corrective surgery. So, do you suppose "right to lifers" would bemoan the death of this poor defenseless little conjoined head?

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=585&e=1&u=/nm/20050219/sc_nm/egypt_baby_dc

(Hate mail to the usual address, please.)

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Ghastly!

Note to self: stay away from Dutch women...

http://mirrored.flabber.nl/shy.girl/

Thanks to Sage for the link!


February 21, 2005

Today's Slow Humiliating Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Americans, from watching too many Westerns, have this image of hanging as a fairly instantaneous death. The trapdoor opens, the body falls, the neck snaps. That's not how they did it in Europe up to the mid-1800s. Hanging was a long humiliating death, by slow strangulation, taking generally fifteen minutes to half an hour. Each contortion of the body - from first twitch to the often inevitable final erection - was cheered by the crowds.

Culled from: An Underground Education by Richard Zacks

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I think you'd have to be a hardcore fan to stay until the final erection. I would have probably gotten bored by the 14th twitch...

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Morbid Movie Du Jour!

Can you believe that I finally watched Peter Jackson's 1992 gorefest "Dead Alive"? And what a fantastic flick it is! Completely over the top, brilliantly funny, and definitely up there with "Shaun of the Dead" as one of the best zombie comedies of all time. (Yes, I do think Zombie Comedy should be its own genre.) If you haven't seen it, I would highly recommend you check it out... and Shaun of the Dead as well.

Dead Alive

Shaun of the Dead

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Morbid Recommendation Du Jour!

pam recommends we check out Japanese flick "Happiness of the Katakuris", which is a dark musical comedy with the following plotline (from IMDB.com):

"The Katakuri family has just opened their guesthouse in the mountains. Unfortunately their first guest commits suicide and in order to avoid trouble they decide to bury him in the backyard. Things get way more complicated when their second guest, a famous sumo wrestler, dies while having sex with his underage girlfriend and the grave behind the house starts to fill up more and more."

Sounds like a must-see to me!

Here's the Amazon.Com link:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000083C5D/theasylumeclecti


February 24, 2005

Today's Furious Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The notorious Sicilian volcano Mount Etna erupted on March 11, 1669 with a horrible fury. The mountain split open with a fissure almost ten miles long. Huge holes appeared, spewing flames, smoke, sulfurous gas, and a deadly flow of lava, which threatened to engulf nearby towns. Even Catania, a port city about eighteen miles from the volcano, was not safe. Realizing the danger of the lava flow, a resident of the city rounded up fifty volunteers and raced to intercept it. The fiery river of molten rock was by this time moving directly toward Catania, and the men desperately hoped to rechannel it. Covering themselves with wet cowhides for protection, they dug frantically, trying to create new paths for the lava to follow. But their efforts aroused residents in the nearby town of Paterno, who feared the new channel might direct the deadly lava straight toward their town. So they attacked the men from Catania, finally forcing them to give up their digging. The molten rock flowed relentlessly toward Catania, finally coming up against high stone walls that had been hurriedly built to protect the town. But it was no use; the lava river climbed effortlessly up over the walls and poured into the city. Catania was flooded with molten rock that destroyed nearly every building in the city and killed more than 15,000 inhabitants. Only a small portion of the city's castle survived the devastating lava flood. In all, some 20,000 people lost their lives during the eruption.

Culled from: The Pessimist's Guide To History

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For some odd reason the song "River of Death" came to mind while typing out this one...

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The Camera DeMentia

I have been working on a site to store various pictures that I've taken on my morbid travels that didn't fit in with a "travelogue" theme, and I came up with a little feature I like to call The Camera DeMentia. The page uses an image management program called 4images to categorize pictures, and you can register for the site and rate the images or add your own comments to the mix. I haven't incorporated it into The Asylum Eclectica yet, because it's still a work-in-progress, but I figured that I'd send it out to everyone on the list to see what you think.

Here's the link:

http://asylumeclectica.com/asylum/images/

And today I added some pictures that I took at the local cemetery in my former hometown of Chico, California back in April 2002. If you're interested, that particular group of pictures can be found here:

http://asylumeclectica.com/asylum/images/categories.php?cat_id=28

Let me know if you have any problems with the site - and please feel free to play around, add comments, rate the pictures, etc. Thanks!

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Morbid Art Du Jour!

Those of you in Southern California may want to consider dropping in on a retrospective exhibit of Mark Ryden art entitled Wondertoonel that is opening this Saturday and running through May 8th. Mark Ryden is one of my favorite artists and if you happen to be in Pasadena during this timeframe, do yourself a favor and check it out. Here are the details:

Pasadena Museum of California Art
The exhibition runs from
February 26, 2005 - May 8, 2005
Opening Reception at PMCA - Feb. 25, 8 P.M.
Free for members. $10 for non-members. Cocktails, music and the world premiere of Ryden’s newest painting, The Creatrix.

490 East Union Street
Pasadena, CA 91101
626.568.3665
www.pmcaonline.org

The Wondertoonel website, which offers previews of all the paintings, can be viewed here:
http://www.wondertoonel.com/

Brilliant stuff!


February 26, 2005

Today's Ridiculously Romantic Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

After 64 years of marriage, Mary Evancho Laborde couldn't bear to let her husband go. She said that just before she leaned over Raymond Laborde's casket at his funeral to kiss him goodbye a final time. But the sorrow was too much; the 89-year Hueytown, Alabama woman's heart stopped and she died right there. On Thursday, August 21, 2003, Raymond, 88, and Mary were buried together in much the same way they lived - side by side, only inches apart. "It's almost like a fairytale, a sad fairytale," said the Rev. Jack Hendricks Jr. of First United Methodist Church in Hueytown. "You don't see many people who live together as long as they did that go out together. I would say it was God's grace." Their love story spanned six and half decades, beginning when Raymond first spotted Mary at a Fairfield bakery where she worked. He was immediately smitten, but she was popular and he had to work for her affections. He used to hide in the bushes when she had other dates, friends said, to assess his competition. But persistence, and charm, won out. "He was a very romantic person," said niece Pat Evancho. "He didn't mind telling you she was as beautiful as the day they got married." They were separated only once, when Raymond, who later retired from U.S. Steel, served in the Navy during World War II. Mary gave birth to their only child, John Raymond, while her husband was away. The Labordes' granddaughter, Jennifer Ragsdale, said she can see beyond her grief to the blessing. "They wanted to be together forever," she said, "and they are."

Culled from: Birmingham News
Generously submitted by: Bruce Townley

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Morbid things that make you go 'aaaaaaawwwwwwwww'...

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Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

The greatest knife block ever known to humanity:

http://www.viceversa.com/Dynamic/Products,intCategoryID,34,intItemID,1447.html

Now, if only there were a way to purchase it, life would be immensely improved...

Thanks to Ed for sending me the link.

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Autopsy Zombie Baby Dolls!

Something a little different with this Autopsy Zombie Baby Doll auction: Baby Body Parts!!! A severed foot and a severed arm holding a razor. How cool can you possibly get? Start your bidding!

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=5561076534


February 27, 2005

Today's Widely Discredited Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In an effort to alleviate severe mental illnesses, in effect balance the `emotional` and `rational` sides of the brain, Portuguese neurologist and father of modern psychosurgery Antonio Moniz developed a procedure known as the leucotomy, or prefrontal lobotomy in the mid-1930’s. For his work, Antonio Moniz, along with Walter Hess, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1949. Walter Freeman, a surgeon in Washington D.C. performed the first lobotomy in the U.S. in 1936. He was a huge proponent of the procedure and made it quite popular in relieving mental illness through out the States. By the mid-1950’s over 40,000 people had received lobotomies, thanks in large part to Freeman’s public support of the `therapy`. In 1945 Freeman came up with a new procedure that actually destroyed a large section of the brain. By the 1960’s psychosurgery was widely discredited, despite the fact that only a few years before Moniz was awarded the Nobel Prize for contributions to the field. Freeman stuck to his beliefs, however, and when he could no longer perform surgeries in hospital settings he rigged up a specially equipped camper and toured the country performing operations. The name of his vehicle? The Lobotomobile, of course. Sounds like Freeman could have benefited from a dose of his own medicine…

Culled from: TriviaSpot.Com
Link generously submitted by: Nathan

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Lobotomobile. Great name for a band, don't you think?

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Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Those bunnies are at it again - this time, re-enacting The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 30 seconds:

http://www.starz.com/se/features/hareraising/texaschainsaw.html

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Keddie Hate Mail Du Jour!

Oh, those locals really despise my Keddie Murder Cabin travelogue.

Here's the latest message to join my Keddie Hate Mail page.

"... I grew up there about 10 minutes from there in Paxton. I grew up with the sons of the man who owns it. And personally what happened there is MORBID and disgusting and I think people like you shouldnt be allowed on PRIVATE property to Display it and explore for your own sick reasons."

I replied ever-so-sensibly:

"You're right what happened on there is MORBID and DISGUSTING. Hence, the public's extreme fascination with it. And people like you have to learn that it isn't sick to be interested in tragedy. It's healthy."

Which only prompted dear Jennifer to reply... :

"How is it healthy when you want to know sick things that happened to REAL people.... Those people, that FAMILY were murdered...... and people exploit that... Thats sick... "

At this point I threw in the blood-soaked towel:

"You say tomato, I say tragedy is fascinating. Viva la difference."

Because, let's face it, if it weren't for people like Jennifer, we wouldn't have all that fun hate mail to read.




Vulgarities...