April, 2008

April 1, 2008

Today's Circumstantial Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The explosion at Demag Riggers and Cranes in Williston, Vermont on Tuesday, June 26, 2007 that killed a worker was caused by powerful fireworks stored in a safe. Anthony Boisvert, 20, was using a cutting torch Tuesday to open the industrial safe when it exploded. Williston Police Chief James Dimmick said he was able to trace the events leading to the blast. The trail started more than a decade ago. The safe had been in an abandoned shed in Winooski since at least the mid-1990s. The safe was locked, the owner of the safe didn't know the combination and didn't know what was in it. A man used the safe 10 to 15 years ago and stored M80s in it. The man, who now lives in North Carolina, left the explosives in the safe when he moved. The owner of the Winooski property was doing renovations and wanted to get rid of the safe. Demag often moves safes, gains access to them and refurbishes or disposes of them. This particular safe was big, about 3-by-6-feet. Boisvert cut into the safe to gain access to it, unaware there were explosives inside. Sparks from the torch ignited the M80s, the safe exploded and Boisvert was killed instantly. "The man was just doing his job. It was a tragic set of circumstances," Dimmick said.

Culled from: Burlington Free Press
Generously submitted by: Bruce T.

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Wretched Recommendations!

Nikki has a book recommendation - sounds like a must-read to me!

"I'm partway through 'The Ghost Map' by Steven Johnson. It's a look on the Cholera outbreak in London in the 1840's. It contains a lot of fun and morbid details on what happens to the body once infected with this horrible disease. The first few chapters outline the most gorey details of the deplorable conditions in which people were living and the sewer systems (or lack thereof) and then it goes more into how scientists of the time researched it, etc. Anyway I thought I'd pass it along for the Library Eclectica page, perhaps! A good morbid read."

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World
by Steven Johnson

More selections can be found at the Pestilence Aisle of The Library Eclectica.

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Morbid Link Du Jour!

For those of you in Michigan, here's a page that might give you some sightseeing inspiration:

http://www.weirdmichigan.com/

Thanks to lethaljesus for the link.


April 14, 2008

Today's Trampled Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

When the Sassanid king Chosroes II, who had a harem of 3,000 wives and 12,000 female slaves, demanded as wife Hadiqah, the daughter of the Christian Arab Na'aman, Na'aman refused to permit his Christian daughter to enter the harem of a Zoroastrian, and for this refusal he was trampled to death by an elephant.

Culled from: Wikipedia
Generously submitted by: Ben Z.

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3,000 wives??? That's enough to make Warren Jeffs and his followers drool with envy!

Hello again, everyone. I had a bit of a prolonged absence due to some health problems I experienced during an ill-advised attempt to stop taking the medication Paxil. You see, due to a chronic depressive disorder, I've been on the drug for about 13 years now. I thought that I'd try seeing how my brain functions when I'm not on it. My doctor had advised me how to taper myself off the drug and I followed his directions to the 't', but he's apparently an idiot because, before I could find out how my brain functioned off the drug, I was rendered bedridden with "Paxil Withdrawal Flu" (which he hadn't warned me about): headache, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, muscle spasms and aches. I couldn't work and I was so miserable that I ended up going back on the damned drug within a few days. I'm feeling reasonably okay now and I've decided that I won't try to detox again until I have a week or two that I can take off work. What a nightmare...

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Morbid Sightseeing!

This past weekend I went on an all-night ghost hunt at the Mansfield Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. The Reformatory is an amazing castle-like prison built in 1886 which contains the world's tallest free-standing steel cell block (6 tiers tall!). The prison was closed in 1990 and fell into disrepair in the ensuing years, before the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society came to the rescue. They now offer tours and the ghost hunting expeditions throughout the year with proceeds going to pay for ongoing restoration of the prison. I always thought that nothing could beat Eastern State Penitentiary, but this place is even better!

Being able to wander freely through this amazing, huge structure was an incredible experience. Even though there were 70+ people at the ghost hunt, it was rare that we stumbled upon others during our wanderings, so enormous is the structure. I was a bit disappointed that they turned out the lights (since I was really there more for the morbid sightseeing than for the ghost hunting), so I'll definitely have to come back again to take the daytime tour. I took a number of photos with my Holga which I will share later this week as the rolls are developed, and I'll put together a travelogue to share more information on the prison.

For the record, no, we didn't see any ghosts (big surprise there, eh) but we did have a few strange experiences. At one point, we heard a female voice that we couldn't attribute to anyone in our group, which was a bit strange, but it could possibly have carried from another part of the cell block (above us or below us, perhaps). Some people at the ghost hunt claimed that they chased a "shadow man" around the upper tiers of one of the cell blocks for 45 minutes, and they almost had me believing them until they said that it ducked into one of the cells and waved at them. (Now that's just silly...) The truth is that the place is creepy, echoey, and disorienting and it's easy to see how your imagination could get the best of you here.

For now I just have to say - if you ever get the chance to go here, do it! You won't be disappointed, even if you don't see a ghost. It's a true work of morbid art!

http://mrps.org/

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Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

The next time you're baking, be sure to use your new hearse cookie cutter to make some truly stylish cookies! Send a batch my way!!

http://www.pushindaisies.com/candypress/Scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=486

Thanks to Richard for the suggestion.


April 15, 2008

Today's Vintage Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

From the October, 1921 issue of National Geographic:

The Jivaroan tribes inhabit the tropical forest of the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon. The Jivaro Indians have a reputation for their fierceness which distinguishes them from their counterparts based on the savageness directed toward their enemies. The men we saw appeared to treat their wives kindly and showed a consideration for their wishes in minor matters. If a wife is detected in any breach of infidelity, however, she is subject to a terrific course of discipline. For the first offense the punishment consists of throwing the erring woman to the ground, holding her there, and cutting down on to the crown of her head with a large machete, or brush knife. The man makes a great many cuts, which are at an angle to one another, so that the scalp is literally hacked into small pieces and all the hair is lost.
Should this not prove sufficient to inculcate fidelity, the second offense results in the woman¹s being pinned to the earth by a long, iron-pointed lance, which is thrust deep into the ground through the fleshy parts of both legs. Given food, water and sufficient care to prevent death, the offender is left in this position for days, even for a period as long as three weeks. For the third offense the punishment is death outright.

Culled from: Head-Hunter.Com
Generously submitted by: Einstein Shrugged

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I think I'd ask him to skip ahead to step 3!

Thank you to everyone who has written me about their experiences with Paxil withdrawal. I'm processing all the e-mails and there is a lot of good advice. I think at this point, I'm going to look for another doctor and keep taking the Paxil. Sure, being medicated isn't as interesting as wanting to slash my skin with razor blades, but it's a living...

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I realized after I sent last night's fact that my Morbid Sightseeing blurb was incomplete. Here's the full version, if you're interested:

Morbid Sightseeing!

This past weekend I went on an all-night ghost hunt at the Mansfield Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. The Reformatory is an amazing castle-like prison built in 1886 which contains the world's tallest free-standing steel cell block (6 tiers tall!). The prison was closed in 1990 and fell into disrepair in the ensuing years, before the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society came to the rescue. They now offer tours and the ghost hunting expeditions throughout the year with proceeds going to pay for ongoing restoration of the prison. I always thought that nothing could beat Eastern State Penitentiary, but this place is even better!

Being able to wander freely through this amazing, huge structure was an incredible experience. Even though there were 70+ people at the ghost hunt, it was rare that we stumbled upon others during our wanderings, so enormous is the structure. I was a bit disappointed that they turned out the lights (since I was really there more for the morbid sightseeing than for the ghost hunting), so I'll definitely have to come back again to take the daytime tour. I took a number of photos with my Holga which I will share later this week as the rolls are developed, and I'll put together a travelogue to share more information on the prison.

For the record, no, we didn't see any ghosts (big surprise there, eh) but we did have a few strange experiences. At one point, we heard a female voice that we couldn't attribute to anyone in our group, which was a bit strange, but it could possibly have carried from another part of the cell block (above us or below us, perhaps). Some people at the ghost hunt claimed that they chased a "shadow man" around the upper tiers of one of the cell blocks for 45 minutes, and they almost had me believing them until they said that it ducked into one of the cells and waved at them. (Now that's just silly...) The truth is that the place is creepy, echoey, and disorienting and it's easy to see how your imagination could get the best of you here.

For now I just have to say - if you ever get the chance to go here, do it! You won't be disappointed, even if you don't see a ghost. It's a true work of morbid art!

http://mrps.org/

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Morbid Link Du Jour!

While I was unmedicated and morose, I made the mistake of looking at this website and was reduced to tears because I was reminded of my deceased mother's corpse. Now that I am sufficiently medicated again, I am ready to introduce this link as a fascinating series of photos of terminally ill people taken shortly before and immediately after death. The commentary is poignant and the images are incredibly powerful.

Life Before Death

Thanks to Katchaya for the link.


April 17, 2008

Today's Motionless Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A window cleaner drowned in his bucket of water after suddenly collapsing while he worked, an inquest heard. Mark Fairhurst, 35, of Wigan, Greater Manchester, was found by customer Elizabeth Bebe in June 2006 with his head submerged in water. Bolton Coroner's Court heard that a heart condition caused the collapse but the cause of death was drowning because he had been unable to save himself. The jury returned a unanimous verdict of accidental death. The father-of-one, of Fowler Close, Scholes, was working at the home of Miss Bebe in Whelley, near Wigan. She told the inquest: "I went outside to hang some washing at the back when I saw a ladder propped up against the wall. I then saw Mark lying on the ground motionless, with his arms tucked in and his head tilted to the right inside the bucket. It looked like he had been in that position for some time. I went to call a neighbour who then called the ambulance and the police." Miss Bebe told the jury she thought Mr Fairhurst may have fallen while on the ground, rather than from his ladder. The hearing also heard that the window cleaner had complained about heart palpitations earlier in the year but had not told his doctor. Pathologist Dr Charles Wilson told the jury he had been informed that Mr Fairhurst had been assaulted in August 2005 which had led to memory problems. He said he could not rule out the incident being linked to his blackout - but was satisfied there was no foul play.

Culled from: BBC News
Generously submitted by: James

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Morbid Link Du Jour!

Medievality.Com has a lovely page listing some of the most common forms of torture in Olden Tymes. What sort of wicked mind does it take to come up with some of these things?

http://www.medievality.com/torture.html

Thanks to Roy for the link.

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Ghastly!

You may have already seen these floating around the internet, but here are some most ghastly post-car crash images from Asia. The last picture is the one that really gets me - can you imagine how that poor guy must have been feeling?

http://asylumeclectica.com/asylum/morbid/archives/kiffah/

Thanks to Sandy for the link.


April 20, 2008

Today's Monstrous Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In 1954 Vladimir Demikhov shocked the world by unveiling a surgically created monstrosity: A two-headed dog. He created the creature in a lab on the outskirts of Moscow by grafting the head, shoulders, and front legs of a puppy onto the neck of a mature German shepherd. Demikhov paraded the dog before reporters from around the world. Journalists gasped as both heads simultaneously lapped at bowls of milk, and then cringed as the milk from the puppy's head dribbled out the unconnected stump of its esophageal tube. The Soviet Union proudly boasted that the dog was proof of their nation's medical preeminence.

Over the course of the next fifteen years, Demikhov created a total of twenty of his two-headed dogs. None of them lived very long, as they inevitably succumbed to problems of tissue rejection. The record was a month. Demikhov explained that the dogs were part of a continuing series of experiments in surgical techniques, with his ultimate goal being to learn how to perform a human heart and lung transplant. Another surgeon beat him to this goal — Dr. Christian Baarnard in 1967 — but Demikhov is widely credited with paving the way for it.

Culled from: Museum of Hoaxes
Generously submitted by: Christina

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And, of course, good old You Tube has footage of the monstrous dogs. It's absolute Frankensteinesque insanity.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=NJC5-G7KnKY

And needless to say, I wish I would have had the opportunity to graft Dr. Demikhov's head on a dog too. Wait, no - not a dog. On another Russian scientist. Now that would be an experiment worth savoring!

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Malady Of The Month!!

A long-awaited new Malady of the Month is up at the Asylum Eclectica. This month it's on a particularly horrid skin condition called Toxic Epidermal Necrosis. Truly shudder-inducing!

http://asylumeclectica.com/asylum/malady/malady.htm

Thanks to Satyr Dancer for the suggestion.

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Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Here's a moldy oldie courtesy of Elizabeth:

Q: What do Christa McAuliffe and Donna Rice have in common?

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A: They both went down on a challenger and were spread all over the Caribbean!

(For all you kids scratching your head, remember Wikipedia is your friend...)


April 25, 2008

Today's Monstrous Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

What could be more horrific than creating a two-headed dog? (See the previous morbid fact.) What about keeping the severed head of a dog alive apart from its body! Ever since the carnage of the French Revolution, when the guillotine sent thousands of severed heads tumbling into baskets, scientists had wondered whether it would be possible to keep a head alive apart from its body, but it wasn't until the late 1920s that someone managed to pull off this feat.

Soviet physician Sergei Brukhonenko developed a primitive heart-lung machine he called an "autojector," and with this device he succeeded in keeping the severed head of a dog alive. He displayed one of his living dog heads in 1928 before an international audience of scientists at the Third Congress of Physiologists of the USSR. To prove that the head lying on the table really was alive, he showed that it reacted to stimuli. Brukhonenko banged a hammer on the table, and the head flinched. He shone light in its eyes, and the eyes blinked. He even fed the head a piece of cheese, which promptly popped out the esophageal tube on the other end.

Brukhonenko's severed dog head became the talk of Europe and inspired the playwright George Bernard Shaw to muse, "I am even tempted to have my own head cut off so that I can continue to dictate plays and books without being bothered by illness, without having to dress and undress, without having to eat, without having anything else to do other than to produce masterpieces of dramatic art and literature."

Culled from: The Museum Of Hoaxes
Generously submitted by: Christina

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And our friend You Tube also has footage of the dog's head reacting to stimuli. It breaks my heart, but it's unbelievably fascinating to view. The segment on the dog's head starts at 4:24:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=ap1co5ZZHYE

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Frightening Festivals!

For those of you looking for something to do this summer, why not visit the Flashback Weekend Chicago Horror Convention? I'll try to be there.

http://www.flashbackweekend.com/index.shtml

Thanks to Jason for the link.

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Morbid Meditation!

I've never been one to meditate because it's all too boring for my overactive Western mind, but I think I may have found a manner of meditation to my liking! Maradhîtâ Kumâri sends the following fascinating e-mail:

Hello.
This may sound weird but there is morbidity in Buddhism. Buddhism is known for the practice of meditation, most popular is Zen meditation. But most people do not know that there is a meditation called “corpse meditation” or Asubha. This type of meditation is rarely practiced now because there are few charnel grounds, where corpses of varying degrees of decomposition can be meditated upon, nowadays because of the difficulty of finding appropriate corpse (unless you meditate in a morgue). Corpse meditation is used to make the meditator realize that our physical bodies are made up of impurities, and that everything is impermanent. This is also used to make the meditator not cling to the human body.

There have been many instances, mentioned in the Buddhist Canon (the Tipitaka/Tripitaka), when the Buddha recommended this kind of meditation to his disciples, especially to those who are overcome with lust and are obsessed with the body. And there have been many instances where people became enlightened or became Arhats by meditating upon a corpse.

There is an instance when the Buddha had the decomposing body of a courtesan auctioned to the woman’s former clients. It served as a lesson to his disciples that the human body is impermanent and disgusting and not worth clinging to.

In any case, it was the body of a dead person, carried by mourning relatives to the cremation grounds, which was one of the “Four Signs” that made the Buddha renounce his princely life and seek enlightenment.

Anyway, corpse meditation is divided into ten categories (depending on the state of the corpse). I will mention the original Pali (language used by the Buddha and Theravada monks) word and the corresponding English translation. The descriptions are taken from chapter VI of “Vissudhimagga” (The Path of Purification) by Bhadantâcariya Buddhaghosa, a 5th century monk.

1. Uddhumâtaka – the bloated: it is bloated because bloated by gradual dilation and swelling after the close of life, as a bellows is with wind.
2. Vinîlaka – the livid: this is a term for a corpse that is reddish-colored in places where flesh is prominent, whitish-colored in places where pus has collected, but mostly blue-black, as if draped with blue-black cloth in the blue-black places.
3. Vipubbaka – the festering: what is trickling with pus in broken places is festering.
4. Vicchiddaka – the cut up: what has been opened up by cutting it in two is called cut up…. The cut up is found on a battle field or in a robbers’ forest or on a charnel ground where kings have robbers cut up or in the jungle in a place where men are torn up by lions and tigers.
5. Vikkhâyitaka – the gnawed what has been chewed here and there in various ways by dogs, jackals, etc. is what is gnawed.
6. Vikkhittaka – the scattered: This is a term for a corpse that is strewn here and there in this way: ‘Here a hand, there a foot, there the head’.
7. Hatavikkhittaka – the hacked and scattered: this is a term for a corpse scattered in the way just described after it has been hacked with a knife in a crow’s-foot pattern on every limb.
8. Hitaka – the bleeding: it sprinkles, scatters blood, and it trickles here and there…. The bleeding is found at the time when blood is trickling from the opening of the wounds received on battle fields, etc., or from the openings of burst boils and abscesses when the hand and feet have been cut off.
9. Pulapaka – the worm-infested: this is a term for a corpse full of maggots… when at the end of two or three days a mass of maggots oozes out from the corpse’s nine orifices, and the mass lies there like a heap of paddy or boiled rice as big as the body, whether the body is that of a dog, a jackal, a human being, an ox, a buffalo, an elephant, a horse, a python, or what you will.
10. Atthika – a skeleton: this is a term for both a single bone and a framework of bones.

Detailed instructions are described in that same book. The author has also warned not to go to the corpse, especially the bloated corpse, immediately, because the meditator might be attracted to the body, and thus perform necrophilia instead of meditation. The meditator is also prohibited to touch and handle the corpse and body parts as it can remove the disgust for the human body.

There is a nice verse at the end:

This filthy body stinks outright
Like ordure, like a privy’s site;
This body men that have insight
Condemn, is object of a fool’s delight.

A tumor where nine holes abide
Wrapped in a coat of clammy hide
And trickling filth in every side,
Polluting the air with stenches far and wide.

If it perchance should come about
That what is inside it came out,
Surely a man would need a knout
With which to put the crows and dogs to rout.


I have heard of a Western monk who tried to do the corpse meditation. He didn’t last long.

It is said that this is one of the most difficult meditation practice. Aside from the danger from wild dogs, wolves other animals and men, there is a risk of having hallucinations during the meditation. The meditator would also have to deal with the stench from the corpses, and the swarm of flies and insects. For these reasons, too, that corpse meditation is rarely practiced.

I would like to suggest this kind of meditation for morbid lovers, but I’m telling you of the risks involved. If you want to try this, seek a teacher first. The teacher will know if you are ready for that kind of meditation.





Vulgarities...