July, 2003

July 8, 2003

Today's Ironic Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

German sex-murderer Heinrich Pommerencke (the "Beast of the Black Forest") went to the movies one night in February 1959. After seeing a bunch of women cavorting onscreen, he became convinced that all females deserved to die. Shortly afterward, he committed the first of four savage rape-murders. The film that inspired this rampage? Cecil B. De Mille's "The Ten Commandments".

Culled from: The A to Z Encyclopedia Of Serial Killers

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I know - not the most morbid fact on the planet, but rather entertaining all the same, don't you think?

Yes, I've been a very distracted Comtesse of late, which explains why you have not been receiving your daily facts. Does it make any difference if I blame it on a sexy woman with the most swoonworthy kisses on earth? Yeah, I didn't think so... but that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Oh, by the way, you'll hate me next week as well because I'm going to be out of action from Friday, July 11th until Monday, July 21st travelling to New York to frolic about old asylums and cemeteries for ten days. I hope you can see it in your heart to forgive me for that gross affront to morbid decency as well. After that, life should return to its usual morbidity. I hope...

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Morbid Flick Du Jour!

Dorothy sends a recommendation:

"Not sure if you’ve seen the movie 'Dead Man' with Johnny Depp — but it is a greatly morbid account of one man’s travels from Cleveland west by train to the 'end of the line' in Machine (from the scenery in the movie, I suspect this was probably by my home in Reno, NV) where he was to work at an metalworking shop. The movie is done in black and white and the entire flick reeks with a gritty authenticity. Cannibalism, graphic violence, and darkly comic quips by Depp and others make this movie a must-have for anyone who enjoys the bizarre.

"Check it out!"

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00004Z4WX/theasylumeclecti

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Morbid Shopping Du Jour!

I've been in discussion with the individual who operates the cybershop BlueLips.Com, and it seems that there was a grievous misperception on my part a couple of weeks ago that perhaps her website was not trustworthy due to the fact that there were a number of redirects to the site, and the http://bluelips.com/ domain itself had disappeared the very day that I had linked to it on a Morbid Fact Du Jour. Apparently, due to my lazy comments, the site has been besieged with some very nasty e-mail since that time (you rotters, you!).

After doing further investigation, I've found that Blue Lips appears to be on the up-and-up, and it is listed as a Square Trade Dealer. Given this information, I would encourage you to pay the shop a visit and give it another try, and please do not send any more nasty mail to our morbid compatriot! Thank you!

http://www.bluelips.com


July 10, 2003

Today's Torturous Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

It has been calculated that in Texas between 1846 and 1852 (the years immediately after its annexation from Mexico by the United States), 200 settlers died under torture by the Apache every year. One method was similar to the Chinese 'death by a thousand cuts': victims were tied to a tree, and each day a limb, or a portion of flesh, was cut away. There are also tales of eyes being torn out, and red-hot embers placed in the sockets, or of burning to death over a slow fire. And captured Indians could expect to suffer a similar fate.

Culled from: The History Of Torture

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An eye for an eye - quite literally!

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Well, this will be the last MFDJ until I return from my New Yawk vacation on July 22nd. Whilst out and about in the Empire State (and beyond), I plan on visiting such morbid little delights as The Freakatorium, the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, the Tenement Museum, Sing Sing Prison Museum, and Ye Ancientest Burial Grounds. And who knows - maybe I can somehow slip in WTC, Ellis Island, The Dakota, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory building, the Amityville Horror house, and several more choice morbid goodies. In addition, a couple of old abandoned asylums are on the agenda. And yes, I will take lots of pictures!

Stay morbid while I'm away!


July 26, 2003

Today's Cold Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Many hypothermia victims die each year in the process of being rescued. In what's called rewarming shock, capillaries which had restricted in order to retain core body heat reopen almost all at once, causing a sudden drop in blood pressure. The slightest movement can send a victim's heart muscle into wild spasms of ventricular fibrillation. In 1980, sixteen ship-wrecked Danish fishermen were hauled to safety after an hour and a half in the frigid North Sea. They then walked across the deck of the rescue ship, stepped below for a hot drink, and dropped dead, all sixteen of them.

Culled from: Last Breath by Peter Stark

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Sorry for the slight delay in getting the facts going again. I am home from my trip to New York - mostly upstate NY and Long Island - and I must say I found the area most delightful. All those quaint old villages along the Hudson were filled with lovely old graveyards that kept me clicking away at soul effigies for days! And a trip to the Ancient Burying Grounds in Hartford and New London, Connecticut, were also extraordinarily interesting. Those 18th century gravestones are, of course, quite novel for a Californian. So, I'd say that was the most exciting part of the trip - though my visits to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and Ellis Island awakened the immigrant heritage within me. And I've decided that living in NYC would be a very cool thing indeed. But my first love remains San Francisco...

But I digress... In any event, I'll be posting those wonderful old gravestones in the near future, so you can prepare yourself for the onslaught...

And today's fact is culled from the book I read in nearly its entirety on my flight home from NY: Last Breath: Cautionary Tales from the Limits of Human Endurance. What a compelling can't-put-down read! I HIGHLY recommend it! This book contains fictionalized tales of real life experiences that humans have gotten themselves into when pushing themselves to the limits in the dangerous outdoors. There are chapters on hypothermia, heat stroke, dehydration, falling, drowning, high altitude sickness, avalanche, scurvy (a particularly nasty chapter - which has inspired an upcoming Malady Of The Month), predators, malaria, and the bends. It's one of those extremely rare books that really make you appreciate the comfort of sitting in those cramped, poorly designed aircraft chairs. This one rates five skulls!

(And as a reminder, if you should decide to purchase it, if you use the link below the fact above, a percentage of the purchase will go to The Comtesse herself... and I use this money to purchase additional morbid material to review and share with you. It's the only perk I get from the website, so I don't feel especially greedy in mentioning this... )

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"My Brush With Morbidity" by Rachel S.

"It was the night before my 4th birthday. My mother, brother, and I were staying with my grandparents while my mother and father were divorcing. Since I was not used to being at my grandparents' house, and was a baby, I couldn't sleep alone. My mother was working a 3rd shift job for the first time so I went to bed with my grandmother. As she was tucking me in, she said, 'Happy birthday, Rachel, just in case I'm not around tomorrow.' Of course I thought she was just kidding. My grandmother has a heart condition. I am not sure what exactly, but she had to take a pill for it every 6 hours or she would die. That day, she decided not to take the pills. That day, she wrote out a letter explaining to my grandfather how she didn't want her life to depend on a pill and she would never take another pill, even if it killed her. That night, I rolled over next to my grandmother and she was ice cold. I scooted closer to her to try and warm her up. Of course that didn't work, but I slowly drifted off to sleep. The next morning, around 3:00 am, mother arrived and came into my grandmother's room and lifted me out of bed. She told me I was ice cold and that if I didn't feel better in the morning, I would have to go to the doctor. She went to kiss my grandmother goodnight, or maybe I should say good-bye and she was dead. Her heart just stopped while I was in the bed with her. I remember every last detail of the last hour before we went to bed, every thing that went through my mind that night when she was so cold, and every thing that morning. I can see it if I think hard enough."


July 27, 2003

Today's Savage Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Father Jean de Brébeuf was a member of the Jesuit mission to the Hurons in Canada. Together with a number of Hurons, he was captured by the Iroquois in 1649. First, his hands were chopped off. Then his body was pierced in many places with iron spikes. Tomahawks, heated to redness, were hung around his neck, 'so that every turn of the head was a torment'. A belt of bark, smeared with resin and pitch, was tied around his body and set alight. The missionary bore his torment bravely. As the torture proceeded, he preached to his captors. Infuriated, they took burning brands from the fire, and stuffed them into his mouth. Even this did not stop his preaching, and eventually the Iroquois cut off his lips. But Brébeuf was still alive. His captors threw boiling water over him, again and again. The account of his torture reports that they then cut pieces of flesh from his trunk and limbs - carefully avoiding any parts that might be fatal - roasted the flesh, and ate it in front of him. And, before he finally expired, they cut off his feet, and scalped him.

Culled from: The History Of Torture

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Wow - those Iroquois really mastered the art of torture. But I still think that "bearing torment bravely" is hugely overrated...

And why does the description of this torture session bring to mind images of the Nine Inch Nails Uncensored "Broken" video? If you've never seen it, it really is a highmark in the disturbing nature of art. Recommended, but only for the truly hopeless...

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Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Johnny M. sent me a link to a most delightful "props and supplies" cybershop called The Ed Gein Collection:

http://www.edgeincollection.com/

After perusing the site, I have decided that I simply cannot live without these bowls:

http://www.edgeincollection.com/gravedigger_decor.htm

Or this candlestick holder:

http://www.edgeincollection.com/wpeA.jpg

They also have great corpses - including one to put your candy in next Halloween! - and corpse lights, among other assorted knick-knacks. I'm definitely going a-shopping as soon as I can get my checkbook balanced!

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Awhile back we discussed the Lemony Snicket "Series Of Unfortunate Events" books, which I am quite fond of but others find rather dull and useless. Although I certainly do not wish to open that debate again, I did receive a note from Becky that I thought I would pass on to those who might be interested:

"A while back someone recommended the Lemony Snicket books. As a little riding entertainment for my son and me, I purchased The Bad Beginning on tape. It is narrated by Tim Curry, and I must say his voice adds a great depressive quality."

Though I'm not a fan of books on tape, this one almost sounds compelling enough to hunt down. Thanks, Becky!


July 28, 2003

Today's Anguished Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

When an individual's core body temperature reaches 85 degrees, during the process of freezing to death, victims often rip off their clothes in a strange, anguished paroxysm. This phenomenon, known as paradoxical undressing, is common enough that urban hypothermia victims are sometimes initially diagnosed as victims of sexual assault. Though researchers are uncertain of the cause, the most logical explanation is that shortly before loss of consciousness, the constricted blood vessels near the body's surface suddenly dilate and produce a sensation of extreme heat against the skin.

Culled from: Last Breath by Peter Stark

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The next York Peppermint Patty commercial: "When I bite into a York Peppermint Patty, I feel like ripping my clothes off in anguished paroxysms of paradoxical undressing, as the burning sensation of my capillaries opening drives me insane just before I drift off into sweet icy oblivion!"

Again, I really should start my own merchandise line... and I will be doing so reasonably soon. I promise!!

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Mirthful Link Du Jour!

If you're in dire need of a chuckle, then why not visit the Villian Supply Company?

http://www.villainsupply.com/

You'll be glad you did...

Link submitted by Wayne Jr.

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Grim Game Du Jour!

Mark N. sends a gaming recommendation, which sounds most excellent:

"The most terrifying game I've ever played is Fatal Frame, quite an obscure game by Tecmo of all companies. Supposedly based on a true story, it's set in Japan in the mid-80s and concerns a girl, Miku Hinasaki, searching through a huge, run-down mansion for her brother Mafuyu. There's barely any gore and the atmosphere is unparalleled."

Sounds like my kind of game!

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00006ZCD1/theasylumeclecti

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Morbid Link Du Jour!

Leann has informed me of a magnificent crime site, full of interesting stories, tantalizing trivia, gore, and more! Why not take a look at Crime Magazine?

http://www.crimemagazine.com/


July 29, 2003

Today's Debris-filled Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

At the end of the 19th century, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was a booming coal-and-steel town (population 10,000) filled with hard-working families. In the mountains above Johnstown, an old earthen dam had been hastily rebuilt to create a lake for an exclusive summer resort patronized by Pittsburg industrial tycoons, among them Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and Andrew Mellon. Despite repeated warnings of possible danger from the poorly built dam, which had no outlet pipes with which to release water during heavy rainfall, nothing was done about it. The fears townspeople held regarding the safety of the dam were realized on May 31, 1889, when a huge rainstorm resulted in lake water flowing over the top of the dam and eroding it away until it finally collapsed, sending a wall of water 35-40 feet high and travelling 40 miles per hour thundering down the mountain. The wall of water smashed through Johnstown, drowning and crushing people in its debris-filled path. Many of those who survived the flood trapped in their floating houses were burned to death when the immense, primarily wooden, debris field which had piled up against a large stone bridge in town caught on fire. In all, 2,209 townspeople including 99 entire families, 396 children under the age of 10, and 777 unidentified victims perished. Some bodies were still being recovered years after the flood, having been buried under debris or washed far downriver. Additionally, 1600 homes were lost, and 280 businesses were destroyed in what was at the time the greatest man-made disaster in history.

Culled from: The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough (kind of...)

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I just finished reading the above-mentioned book and I thought I'd share some background about the flood. The book itself is excellent. It describes the disaster in rich detail - with numerous firsthand accounts of the tragedy - and does an excellent job of explaining the scandal that captured the country's attention after the flood, when the truth behind the shoddy dam and its use for recreation by rich men became known. Highly recommended for disaster aficionados like moi!

Now, I really want to visit Johnstown! I sense a Pennsylvania trip in my future!

And yes, they have a museum:
http://www.jaha.org/flood/

And a national monument at the dam site as well!
http://www.nps.gov/jofl/

I can't possibly resist such things... someday soon...

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Dahmerism Du Jour!

What did Jeffrey Dahmer say to his mother when she told him she didn't like his friends?

"That's okay Mom, just eat the noodles"

(Donated by angy)

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Morbid Flick Du Jour!

Ann V. recommends what sounds like a very interesting flick!

"You should see the film 'Snow White: A Tale of Terror' with Sigourney Weaver & Sam Neill. It is a creepy retelling of the Snow White story. Any film that starts out with a husband having to cut his child out of the womb of his dying wife has to be good! ;)"

Indeed! This is the version of Snow White that is more faithful to the Grimm Brothers' grim story, so how can I resist? I'll definitely put it on my 'Must See' list:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000694XX/theasylumeclecti

Which reminds me...

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I WANT MY MORBID TV!!

Looks like Fox is doing it again. Their news may be unwatchable, but this little special coming up this Thursday night sounds quite fascinating!

FOX SPECIAL:
'101 THINGS REMOVED FROM THE HUMAN BODY'

DANGEROUS OBJECTS AND MIRACULOUS REMOVALS ON AN ALL-NEW SPECIAL ‘101 THINGS REMOVED FROM THE HUMAN BODY,’ AIRING JULY 31 ON FOX
From a bagful of carpenter nails in a man’s stomach, to a boat anchor in another man’s skull, to a two by four through a woman’s face FOX presents an astonishing medical list of “101 THINGS REMOVED FROM THE HUMAN BODY” on the all-new one-hour special airing on Thursday, July 31 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (SP-0407) (TV-14)

Thanks to Dee for letting me know about this one, and for sending this nifty link:

http://www.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/TV/07/28/television.impalement.reut/index.html


July 30, 2003

Today's Ravenous Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

An Austrian man cut off his toes, fried them up and ate them between two slices of bread after getting high sniffing butane gas. When ambulance men arrived he offered to share his meal with them, passing over a toe and saying: "It tastes like chicken, do you want some, there's a few still left over." Police said the 35-year-old suddenly became very hungry after sniffing the gas and had searched all his kitchen cupboards, but found nothing to eat. Grabbing a kitchen knife he cut off his toes on his left foot and dropped them in the frying pan. The man's sister called the police when she walked into the kitchen and saw him making the toe sandwich. By the time ambulance men arrived there was little of the hacked-off toes left and a spokesman said: "What there was, was too badly burned to re-attach." A police spokesman added: "He told the ambulance men that he had more toes than he needed and didn't think he would notice if he got rid of a few." He was taken to a hospital in Steyr where he is recovering from his injuries.

Culled from: Ananova
http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_791522.html?menu=news.quirkies
Generously submitted by: Paul G.

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Now, why don't they show things like this on those anti-drug commercials? Don't you think showing someone hacking their toes off and eating them, and then cutting to the idiot's healing feet as he staggers along with a walker, then to his face saying, "Don't do drugs. You never know what might happen... until it's toe late..." would be a bit more effective than, "I got in a car crash and killed my own brother <sniffle, sob> just because I smoked some pot..."? Not to mention FAR more entertaining!

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Morbid Link Du Jour!

Actually, quite a sick idea: a website dedicated to flaunting your wounds, and the process of your recovery, for the world to see! The next time I suffer some sort of significant mishap, you'll bet I'll want to share my "riches" with the world. So should you! Sickos may want to take a look:

http://www.showmeyourwound.com/

Special thanks to Narkitten for this one!

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The Johnstown Flood - Continued.

A few readers have written in with additional information about visiting the Johnstown Flood sites (see yesterday's MFDJ). Definitely a trip I'll be making soon!

"I live about 45 minutes away from the Johnstown Flood museum, and have seen it and the monument at the dam sight, as well as the other flood museum. It is really cool, they have the names of the victims on the wall, many pictures, a modelthat shows how the flood went through the city, and even a video you can watch about the flood... If you do get to take a trip to Johnstown in the future, you must check out both flood museums. You can also go across a bridge and look down at the gorge that the flood waters caused as they rushed throughout the city, wreaking havoc on those who lived there."

"Johnstown - was just there. Both locations you list are well done. Be sure and visit the unknown victims section of the graveyard. The museum has posted listing of the dead, their
burial locations and hometowns. Also make sure you see the movies at both locations and the 3D slide presentation at the downtown museum. The movie at the National Park is extremely
morbid. Enough so that it carries a warning about viewing by children. The incline plane museum (at the top of the incline) also has a lot of good info. The entire presentation of the event is morbid without having to work at it."

"If you travel by Amtrak out of Pittsburg to Philadelphia you will pass along the valley in which Johnstown is located."

"If you're in the Johnstown area, you should know that the Quecreek mine is not terribly far away (where 9 miners were trapped last year), nor is the crash site of the 3rd 9.11 plane (Let's roll!)."

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And - DON'T FORGET! Thursday night at 9 p.m. on Fox:

"101 Things Removed From The Body"

How can you resist such a thing???


July 31, 2003

Today's Nummy Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In the 1460's, the lands of the Mixtec to the east were conquered by the Aztecs in a policy of expansion, and the captured warriors were brought back to the Great Pyramid in Tenochtitlan (which later became Mexico City). One by one they were led up the steps of the pyramid, through clouds of incense. One by one, their hearts were ripped out: a river of blood flowed over the steps, and their bodies were hurled down to be decapitated and dismembered. The heads were arrayed on a great skull-rack at the top of the pyramid, and the victorious captors were each awarded an arm or thigh. These limbs were taken home and made into a stew, with chiles and tomatoes, for a ritual meal.

Culled from: The History Of Torture

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Funny how times change, eh?

Which reminds me: does anyone know if it's illegal to own a human skull? I always thought it was legal - that you could get them from biological supply companies or you could purchase an old relic skull and there would be nothing illegal about it. But after reading an article about a witch doctor being arrested for having a skull in his possession, it makes me wonder. Just the facts, please!

Follow-Up from Craig Greenwood (8/1/03):
You can own skulls. They are sold on eBay for about $200. I saw a real ugly one a few weeks ago listed, had missing teeth, nasty stuff. They are supposed to only be sold for medical study. Click here to read the eBay policy on human remains:
http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/remains.html
I know this because I was looking to buy a skull to put in my fish acquarium for my piranha to swim around. But I settled for a polyeurathene skull. You can see a picture of that here:
http://craiggreenwood.freeyellow.com/skull.jpg
But there you go. Fully legal to own a skull in the US. Maybe what you read was from another country?

Follow-up from Joe Carlson (8/6/03):
"It's totally legal to own a human skull. check out:
http://www.boneroom.com/bone/bone1.html "

Joel said (8/1/03):
"Yes I believe you can own an actual human skull, but it depends on what state you live in. I know its illegal in Indiana. Ihave seen websites that sell real skulls-one site even specialized in deformed skulls. of course you could buy all kinds of animal bones and ... phallic bones i guess they're called, among skelletons and such."

http://www.skullsunlimited.com/

Katie adds (8/1/03):
"I do believe that its perfectly legal to own skull and bone specimens as long as yu can prove where you aquired them (from a legal source). I am sure that the man was arrested because he could not show that the bones came from a legitimate source (ie they thought he dug them up). So if you get them from a Lab or supply house just make sure they are kept properly labeled."

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I am heading down to Los Angeles next month and thought I'd do a wee bit of sightseeing while I'm there. I was hoping that the Museum Of Death (http://museumofdeath.com) was open at a new location, but it doesn't appear that it is. (Can some kind SoCals confirm this for me?) I'm also not sure if Graveline Tours is still operative since their website is down as well. Tell me, has all the exploitation of our curiosity with death gone away from the morbid confines of Los Angeles??? Say it's not so! In any event, I have my own bit of morbid sightseeing to do while I'm there, so I will survive... but I was hoping to have something a bit more meaty to see... Any help is appreciated.

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Morbid Trinkets Du Jour!

While I was checking out the Museum of Death links page I was reminded of the gloriously demented artwork of R.S. Connett and realized that I probably haven't given his work a proper introduction to you. I've been admiring his unique style of gruesome insanity for many years now, and I thought I'd give you the chance to do so as well. He now has prints available for $25.00 and I think I just might have to get one. Please take a look, but only if you can handle sickness quite well:

http://www.vomitus.com

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Morbid Flick Du Jour!

Carolyn has a recommendation for us:

"Something you might want added to your movie list is The Pledge starring Jack Nicholson. It is a movie about a retired cop who is determined to solve the case of a murdered child. There are some pretty cool police photos of the children that were killed and a nice scene of the charred remains of the killer. Then of course there is the added bonus of Jack going nuts in the end. Check it out it you get the chance."

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005BCKG/theasylumeclecti




Vulgarities...