April, 2003

April 4, 2003

Today's Grave Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In England in the Middle Ages, it became an expectation of churchgoers to be buried in "God's Acre," the land surrounding their church. In the 18th century, as towns and cities swelled in population, there developed a chronic shortage of space in churchyards. The first solution to this problem was simply to pack the coffins more and more tightly together. Later coffins were stacked one upon the other often to the extent that the ground-level of some churchyards rose fully twenty feet above that of the church floor. With so many bodies crammed into small churchyards, a hue and cry went up in protest from people living nearby. No one doubted that the putrefying bodies and vile stench posed a grave risk to health.

Culled from: Death: A History Of Man's Obsessions And Fears

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"A grave risk"... Ya gotta love that phrase in this context!

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Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

How can I possibly resist a shirt this great?

Answer: I can't.

Question: Can you?

http://www.satanssideshow.com/CT_TS_RittaChristina.htm

And for those of you who love Sideshow Freaks - how can you resist this Prince Randian shirt?

http://www.satanssideshow.com/CT_TS_Randian.htm

Check out the rest of Satan's Sideshow for some other great morbid stuff!

Thanks to Mommy's Little Monster for sending me the link!

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Morbid Read Du Jour!

Mystress Raven has a fiction recommendation for the bloodlust within us all:

"To add to your gory tales of Fictious Fact, I highly recommend Jemiah Jackson, author of Voice of the Blood. From a level headed scientist type, to becoming the reviving factor for a vampire long dead, this story tells of a biologist/hematologist that encounters vampires and tries to study them, while becoming luridly interested in the hunt and kill, the sex and ecstacy. Biting good read."

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0843948302/theasylumeclecti

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Dahmerism Du Jour!

Q: What did Jeffrey Dahmer say to Lorena Bobbitt?

A: Pardon me, but are you gonna eat that?

<cymbal crash!>

Contributed by Mojo


April 5, 2003

Today's Mad Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The word "bedlam," meaning both madhouse and mayhem, derives from the Bethlehem (or Bethlem) Hospital. Originally a monastery, the institution looked after the "mad" from at least 1402 and was later incorporated as a "royal foundation for the reception of lunatics." Bedlam housed the poor and the incurably mad. It was open to the public, like a zoo. Treatment was brutal. Patients were whipped, beaten and chained, over and above the purging, bleeding and vomiting treatments then generally common in medical practice. The therapeutic doctrine was that mental patients, especially the poor, had to be "broke in, as Horses in a menage," as one mad-doctor put it. Even the king (George III) had to take some rough treatment during his breakdown of 1788-89.

Culled from: The Wall Street Journal (by Claude Rawson)
Generously submitted by: Tim

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The above description was culled from a review of a couple of books written by Jonathan Andrews and Andrew T. Scull that document a collection of case studies by John Monro, the eminent 18th century visiting physician responsible for Bethlem. The books sound absolutely fascinating and are on my 'Wish List' currently. If interested, here are some links to them (and yes, purchasing them through these links will help a poor old Comtesse out). Thanks!

Undertaker of the Mind: John Monro and Mad-Doctoring in Eighteenth-Century England

Customers and Patrons of the Mad-Trade: The Management of Lunacy in Eighteenth-Century London, With the Complete Text of John Monro's 1766 Case Book

Wilf provides the following update on Bedlam:
"... although the Bethlehem Hospital is now no more, the building still exists as the London Hotel in Elephant and Castle in London. (The name Elephant and Castle is unusual but is a bastardisation of La Enfanta de Castille who spent some time there.)"

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Thanks to Heather for reminding me that when in Massachusetts there's no place to stay but the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast!

http://www.lizzie-borden.com/

I got dibs on Lizzie's Room!!!

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And, finally - you know you've always wanted one, now here's your chance to have your own embalming table! A brilliant bit of furniture, and a compelling conversation piece.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2521111504&category=1210

(Thanks to Grim747 for the link.)


April 8, 2003

Today's Mortifying Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

An actual epitaph from Acton Churchyard in Cornwall, England:

Here lies entombed one Roger Morton,
Whose sudden death was early brought on;
Trying one day his corn to mow off,
The razor slipped and cut his toe off:

The toe, or rather what it grew to,
An inflammation quickly flew to;
The parts they took to mortifying,
And poor dear Roger took to dying.

Culled from: Eccentic Epitaphs by Michelle Lovric

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It hardly bears repeating, but I'm not afraid to be redundant: Why can't they write epitaphs like this anymore??? It's such a drab world we live in...

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I've uploaded the new Morbid Read Of The Month. This time it features the brilliant collection of mortuary photographs compiled by Stanley Burns entitled Sleeping Beauty II. Please take a gander:

http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/library/morbread.htm

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Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

My dearest friend bought me this beautiful dead ducky not too long ago, and its been rotting slowly in my bathroom ever since. Since I know you're jealous, why not treat yourself? It's the right thing to do! (And no, I have no affiliation with Archie McPhee - I just happen to own about half of their stuff!)

http://www.mcphee.com/amusements/current/10994.html


April 11, 2003

Today's Painful Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

One of the principal Roman tortures was the equuleus - the rack. Its name (Latin for 'young horse') implies that it may have been a frame rather like a vaulting horse, over which the victim was stretched by weights. Slaves could also be hung by their hands, with weights attached to their feet, and flogged while in this position. Slaves who were sentenced to death were usually crucified, after being arrayed in the furca - a V-shaped collar that fitted round the back of the neck and rested on the shoulders - with the hands tied to the thighs, and driven to the place of execution by carnifices (literally, butchers) wielding whips.

Culled from: The History Of Torture

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Hmmmm... I'm having a little trouble envisioning that one... but then again, I think that might be for the best...

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Maggots On The Brain!

I'm sure all of you who were around when I sent out the Maggots on the Brain pictures will be quite overjoyed to learn that Snopes.Com has declared the photos to be TRUE! Let's take a look at our quite official poll and see what you thought:

Are those maggots in a living brain for real?
http://gelatinous.com/danh/temp/Absolute_Worst_Thing_Ever/

1.) Yes! It's incredible but true! 94 votes - 21%
2.) I wasn't born yesterday. Surely, no one can survive an open wound like that! 193 votes - 43%
3.) I can't decide if it's real or not. 97 votes - 22%
4.) I'll wait to see what Snopes.Com says... 27 votes - 6%
5.) Why are you subjecting us to this crap? 36 votes - 8%

(Of course, I'm very worried about the 36 of you who voted for #5!)

So, it appears that the majority of you thought that the images must be bogus because surely no one would let a wound go THAT FAR without seeing a doctor! Well, once again truth is stranger than fiction. Here's what Snopes had to say:

"Although the explanations quoted [with the images - see link above] are erroneous, these images are in fact real and undoctored, and they are indeed photographs taken of a patient whose brain surface was exposed and crawling with insects. The pictures date from October 2002, and they are photographs of a man in his 70s who was suffering from an unusual form of cancer which had eaten away at the upper portion of his skull and scalp but who had not sought any medical treatment because the condition was not causing him pain. The man was brought to the trauma center at Stanford University Hospital (where the photographs shown here were taken) by San Mateo County paramedics who had been summoned to the scene after the man was involved in a minor automobile accident and who found him in his car in the condition pictured."

Now, *that* must have been a shocker for the paramedics!

http://www.snopes.com/photos/maggots.asp

(P.S. Doncha love it when I share???)

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Morbid Link Du Jour!

Morbid patron Joe has sent the link to his absolutely stellar Serial Killer site. My favorite feature is the abundant serial killer artwork that he features, but the features on various killers and their horrid misdeeds always makes for entertaining light reading. I'm particularly fond of The Vampire Clan myself (http://www.angelfire.com/oh/yodaspage4/index.html) but then, who wouldn't be?

http://www.angelfire.com/oh/yodaspage/

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Morbid Read Du Jour!

I am shocked into shame to discover that I don't have this book in my collection! I'll have to try to regain your confidence someway, somehow...

The Malleus Maleficarum of Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger.
by Henricus Institoris, Montague Summers, Heinrich Institoris

Charles Ballou tells us all about it:
"... a medieval textbook put out by the pope (Innocent VIII). It defines, explains and teaches how to catch, prosecute, convict, and execute witches. A how to manual for inquisitions. It is chock full of anecdotes. Check it out."

Sounds like a #1 Must-Have for me! It's been added to my Wish List as I speak!

Here's a link if, like me, you must purchase it, and you'd like to give some alms to the Comtesse, even if she is a bit on the flaky side:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0486228029/theasylumeclecti


April 12, 2003

Today's Chunky Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Throughout the 1930's an unknown killer murdered 12 people in Cleveland. It first started in September 1935 when the bodies of two decapitated men were found in a rundown area of Cleveland. Both bodies had been mutilated and decapitated. The work of this sadist suggested a homosexual - but this theory changed when other corpses turned up that were female. Over the next 3 years the Torso Killer claimed 12 victims - all vagrants and poor people, male and female. The victims were killed and cut up before being transported to the crime scene where they were dumped. In some cases the decapitated head was never found. Elliot Ness was in charge of the investigation. In August 1938 so desperate was Ness to stop the murders that he ordered police to raid the run-down area near Kingsbury run where most of the victims had been taken from; hundreds of vagrants were arrested and the place was burned down, then the murders stopped. The identity of the Torso Killer was never determined.

Culled from: Modus Operandi - Serial Killers

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My buddy The Mind Orbitor is currently reading a book on the Torso Killer - which she states is excellent because it contains far more images that the previous books on this killer - entitled "In the Wake of the Butcher". She was telling me about it tonight and I thought I'd have to share the following comment that the inimitable M.O. made when she was discussing one of the corpses that was found at the foot of Jackass Hill (I kid you not), which was missing a head and genitals, but happened to be still wearing black socks:

"See, the killer was just showing sympathy for his victim, because you know, with all that blood draining out of him, his feet were *bound* to get cold."

I bet you're jealous that you don't have friends like her, huh?

Anyway, here's a link to the book in question, if you're interested (and who wouldn't be? She doesn't know this yet but as soon as she's finished with it, she's loaning it to me):

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0873386892/theasylumeclecti

Now, you too can sing along to the catchy jingle of the era:

"Floating down the river, chunk by chunk by chunkArms and legs and torsos, hunk by hunk by hunk!"

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Hey, guess what? As glia has graciously informed me, it turns out the book I had used for the Morbid Read Du Jour yesterday (Malleus Maleficarum) is online! Here's the link to the witch-hunting bible itself:

http://www.malleusmaleficarum.org/

Unfortunately, I can't do that whole Reading-Books-Off-The-Internet thing, so I'll have to wait until I can afford my own copy.

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Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Here's a lovely little snippet from The Chopping Block:

http://www.choppingblock.org/d/20010622.html

Special thanks to Dave S. for sending the link!


April 19, 2003

From the "Please, Please, PLEASE Don't Try This At Home!" file comes...

Today's Inept Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A German pensioner in southern Spain died after experiments with a homemade sex toy went very wrong. The body of the 65-year-old man was found in a rented apartment on the Costa del Sol after he was reported missing by a female acquaintance. The pensioner had applied the electrodes of an adapted voltmeter to his genitals. The autopsy revealed that the man died from a heart attack triggered by the electric shock. The man's body had been lying on a bed, and the television had been switched on, with a pornographic movie in the VCR.

Culled from: Tiscali World Online
Generously donated by: Sage

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Now, can't you just see the next Fox Special? "When Sex Toys Go Wrong!"

And you have to adore the headline: "Man Dies In Sex Toy Shocker!"

Oh, death doesn't get much better than this...

Elizabeth adds the following:
"I read this one. The German guy was quoted during his life as saying that sex toys were much cheaper than women. :D Life is cheap."

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Urban Exploration Link Du Jour!

Erica went on an evening's exploration of Utica State Hospital (an abandoned mental hospital) in Utica, NY and was kind enough to share her adventure. Keep up the good work!

http://hydroquinone.homestead.com/pictures.html

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"My Father's Brush With Morbidity" by sydney

"When my father came out of medical school, his first assignment was a coronor's assistant [someone who goes around gathering dead bodies - delishishly morbid on its own] and he was working for the "famous" Michael Baden. [I believe that is spelled wrong but he is the man who is on the ever interesting HBO show "autopsies"] anyways, so the first day my father and his partner picked up a guy, no problem. The next time he was working, they had gotten a call to come to this apartment building to pick up someone. The police were already there and just summed up for my father was had happened. An older woman who had lived in the apartment building hadn't been heard from in a while and when a funny smell had started to seep from her room, they knew she had died. One police man was about to open the door when he asked my father is he was ready. My father, still in his early 20's, thinking he was a hot shot said to go ahead. When they opened the door, my father said the smell was so overpowering, he thought he was going to pass out and what he saw he will never forget. The woman had passed away on her bed, but she had been there for days and her now decomposing body was *covered* in cockroaches, rats, and flies. Now my father and his partner had to move the body and when he finally got to it and touched it, the skin sloughed off in a semi-liquified state. My father lost his lunch and said there was no way he could keep on doing this, so he quit. From that point on, he's had a very bad fear of being eaten alive along with dying alone."

That's how you weed out the morbid from the not-really-altogether-morbid.

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I just finished reading a book called "The Triangle Fire" about... wait for it... The 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire which killed 146 young women, mostly immigrant girls, in one of the worst factory fire disasters in American history. (Of course, as the book points out, this sort of thing still occurs all the time, it just happens in Thailand, China, Korea, Hong Kong, etc. and we don't care about it.) Anyway, the book was okay. The first part, about the actual fire itself and how the design of the building (with exit doors that pushed inward, locked exits, one inferior fire escape, and narrow stairways) created a firetrap that resulted in numerous women (and some men too) plunging to their deaths onto the New York sidewalk below, is a compelling read. However, I just couldn't get in to the second section of the book at all, which deals with the prosecution of the company owner's for contributing to the deaths through their negligence, the protests and unions that formed in the aftermath, and the new laws that were enacted to protect others. That part had me yawning nearly non-stop. But that's just me... Perhaps you might find all that very interesting as well. In any event, I've given the book two 1/2 skulls on my Library Eclectica rating system. If you're interested in purchasing the book to check it out, here's the link:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0801487145/theasylumeclecti

Or, then again, you could just checkout this marvelous website instead:

http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/trianglefire/

Enjoy!

Dov adds the following:
"I once went to the site of the Triangle fire whose area is still dominated by the same ethnic group and economic class that was there on that infamous day. There was store upon store of clothing store and sweat shop above. I asked an Orthodox Jewish salesman in one of the stores if this area was the spot of the fire. He had no idea. That's the whole story. I am always fascinated by people's inability or lack of interest in knowing about what is right in front of them. If I lived in an apartment building, one of the first things I would ask is if there were any people that have died in the building. If you think about it, nearly all the people that who have ever lived are now dead. You'd think we'd be butt deep in bones. Cool. "

April 21, 2003

Today's Brutal Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A gang dressed in ninja-style outfits raided a funeral in Papua New Guinea, murdering two mourners and raping another two as they attempted to prove the man being buried was a victim of sorcery. The attackers believed the family of Tony Briya - who had been their gang leader - murdered him using witchcraft. Armed gang members dressed in ninja-style outfits attacked mourners in the early hours of the morning as they paid respects in the traditional "haus krai" (house of crying) in Erima Ridge, a suburb of Port Moresby. The bandits pointed guns at the 30 or so mourners before dragging Briya's sister outside and raping her. "They kept asking me if we had poisoned Tony," she told the newspaper. Briya's grandmother was then beaten to death as the gang attempted to extract a confession. Briya's widow was then beaten and gang-raped, before the bandits grabbed her mother and broke both her arms. They then beat Briya's mother and threw her into a ditch. A male relative was also killed in the attack and others had their heads slashed with bush knives the size of swords. Briya's sister told the newspaper that the brutal attack lasted for two hours until the police arrived. The wounded were rushed to hospital, where two remain in a serious condition. Police are holding 14 suspects, but fear the attack could spark a round of payback violence.

Culled from: Google News
Generously donated by: Katchaya

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Just when you think you've heard it all, you realize there's a new novel to begin...

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Morbid Link Du Jour!

I think all Sheriff/Police Departments should be required to have a webpage like this one, don't you?

http://www.co.riverside.ca.us/sheriff/coroner/log.htm

Special thanks to Barbara for the link.

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Morbid Flick Du Jour!

My self-defense instructor Sage Nagai writes to recommend a movie to us all:

"I just watched the best horror film I've ever seen, next to The Exorcist. It doesn't have stupid expensive special effects, nor does it rely on a massive body count and ridiculous Jason type schtick. The film is 'Ghost Story' and is about a vengeful entity which stalks four elderly men. I actually don't want to spill the plot because I thought the film was so good. It wasn't really terrifying per se, but the nature of the horror was much more interesting than in most horror films. And it got out of the ridiculous Hollywood mould where everyone has to be 20-39 years old in a film. Like, the important characters are old men!

"Another thing that made the film really cool is that part of it is shot at the apartment complex where I grew up! It was shot before I lived there, but the place brought back lots of nostalgia because the buildings looked exactly like they did back in the 80's. And the swimming pool where I used to swim as a child, that's where a dead body landed! How amazing is it to watch a horror film and see horror stuff happening in the exact place that you grew up as a little kid in?

"In addition to being a refreshingly solid horror film with a fairly interesting storyline, the film also reminded me of an important set of principles:

1) Female breasts are fun because they are squishy
2) BUT, female breasts are even better when they belong to a vengeful spirit.
3) If they're suspiciously chilly as well, well, it just makes them even better.

"So the next time you're doing things with a pair of breasts, make sure that they're attached to a vengeful spirit! :-D"

Yes, I'll definitely keep that in mind the next time I'm doing things with a pair of breasts. Whenever that may come. Sigh...

Oh, here's the link:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/6305077614/theasylumeclecti


April 24, 2003

Today's Islamic Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

On Sunday, September 7, 2003, an Iranian man cut off his seven- year-old daughter's head after suspecting she had been raped by her uncle. A post-mortem, however, showed the girl was still a virgin. "The motive behind the killing was to defend my honor, fame, and dignity," the father was quoted as saying. Rape often goes unreported in Iran where the conservative society sees it as bringing shame on the victim and family. Local people have called for the man, who has been arrested, to be hanged, but under Iran's Islamic law only the father of the victim has the right to demand the death sentence.

Culled from: Reuters
Generously donated by: House Nickie

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Sometimes it seems like Islamic Law has to be a skit on SNL, don't you think? I mean, "I killed my daughter because I thought she was victimized, but she wasn't, but I'm safe because only I can condemn myself to death." In my twisted mind, it reminds me of medieval "justice", "Let's dunk the suspected witch in water for ten minutes and see if she drowns. If she does, she's innocent; if she doesn't, she's a witch and we'll burn her at the stake." I guess the more times change, the more they stay the same...

FOLLOW-UP 4/27/03 - from Bethany Cai Graham:
"While I agree that this episode is shocking I am compelled to try and correct a common myth - that this is is ISLAMIC law and practice. It is not. The killing of daughter is specifically prohibited by the Prophet Mohammed (PBAH). What we have here is a prime example of Arab - Iranian culture. People (of all cultures) continually seek to justify their behaviour with their religion. In this case the man's actions are condemmed by Koran, the prophet Mohamed (PBAH), and all true muslims."

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Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Okay, tell me now - are these not the coolest coffins EVER? Straight from Ghana - and only $1,000.00 too! I think I'll have to purchase the pink fish for myself. Until I die I'll just use it for storage in my apartment.

http://www.eshopafrica.com/acatalog/eShopAfrica_com_Decorated_chests_7.html

Special thanks to Bruce Townley for sending me the link!



Vulgarities...