November, 2007

November 4, 2007

Today's Ceremonially Consumed Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The Iteso of western Kenya have a way of handling their dead that would horrify many other people in the world. About five years after burial, they exhume the skulls and skeletons and leave them exposed to the elements. The result is that if you travel through Teso country, you will get the impression that a major archeological undertaking is underway. In homesteads and in thickets, the skulls lie exposed in a custom the community believes allows the dead to rest better than if they were six feet underground. Apart from allowing the dead a good rest, the custom is also intended to keep them from coming back to torment the living. The Iteso believe that once human remains are exhumed and exposed, the dead will no longer be able to haunt the living through nightmares, sickness, or other afflictions. The remains are placed on raised ground covered by shrubbery within the compound or at the base of a tree, where there is little interference. Millet beer, locally known as Ajono, is regularly sprinkled over the site to appease the dead. What remain is ceremonially consumed by elders. The custom is slightly different among their cousins across the border in Uganda.

Among the Soroti, who are closely related to the Iteso, the bones of the dead, the arm to be exact, are used to stir the brew, which is then consumed. According to Iteso customs, the exhumed remains must be placed within the farm of the deceased, because the dead are bound to resist and cause difficulties if they are taken away. Children are warned not to touch or even go near the place where the bones have been put to rest. Children who play with these skulls risk falling very ill, and can only be healed if elders intervene and perform a specific ritual. This involves slaughtering a sheep for the dead and serving them a traditional brew to beg for forgiveness on behalf of the ailing child. Okisai Okiring of Chakol Division in Teso District says the exhumation rite, known as epunyas, is conducted to stop the dead from tormenting the living. "It's a belief among the Iteso that the dead are full of evil spirits. They strongly affect the lives of the living through diseases and other calamities. This rite is done to please the dead. If not done, a series of tragedies could strike and wipe out the whole community," he says.

Culled from: allAfrica.Com
Generously submitted by: Elizabeth

**********************************************************************

I apologize for my prolonged absence and I hope everyone had a splendid Halloween, even without my dreary presence. October was a Lost Month due to a variety of tragedies that blocked my every move and sapped what little energy I normally have out of my carcass... not the least of which was having to rebuild my PC. However, I am back, for whatever it's worth, and I hope to be haunting your inbox consistently for awhile. Wish me luck or ill, whichever you prefer!

By the way, I've decided to eliminate my despair@asylumeclectica.com e-mail address and just use my comtessedespair[at]gmail.com address for all of my mail. Please update your address book, if you can be bothered. (Lord knows, I wouldn't be if I were you!)

*******

Morbid Link Du Jour!

Tragically, I didn't get this one sent out by Halloween, but here it is only a few days late: The Pumpkin Patch Massacre!

Thanks to Joe for the link.

*******

Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Okay, this skit kind of overstays its welcome and has some dumb jokes, but it does have some good moments as well.

Achmed The Terrorist

Thanks to Jen for the link.


November 5, 2007

Today's Unconquerable Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Kamikaze means "god wind". The kamikaze / god winds were central to Japan's self-conception as a divine, unconquerable land prior to World War II. The kamikaze was Japan's protective angel force. In 1274 and again in 1281, Kublai Khan had led his Mongol armies across the Sea of Japan on an amphibious invasion of Japan. Khan's forces were superior and Japan feared it would be conquered. But both attacks were repelled by the kamikaze / god winds, in the form of fierce typhoons, which sank Mongol vessels and drowned more than 150,000 invaders. These miracle winds, appearing at just the right providential moment, convinced the Japanese that their country enjoyed unique spiritual protection and was thus impervious to foreign attack.

Culled from: Flyboys

**********************************************************************

A Wretched Recommendation From The Comtesse

During my lost month of October, I journeyed back to Catatonia and on the plane I read the above-referenced book Flyboys. Rarely has my morbid heart been so satiated! This book is a captivating look at some of the ghastliest moments of the Pacific battles of World War II; from battlefield atrocities and beheadings to cannibalism and torture, this book has it all.

The books focuses on a group of American pilots (aka "flyboys") who were captured by the Japanese while bombing the island of Chichi Jima (near the infamous Iwo Jima). The fate of the pilots was cloaked in secrecy for many years, but it's a story that definitely deserves to be told. Equally fascinating to me are the chapters explaining the militarization of Japan and how The Powers That Be were able to turn normal Japanese men into ruthless killing machines through the use of torture and other desensitization techniques. The book also delves briefly into some of the atrocities Japan committed in China during the time, a story which is most thoroughly told in Iris Chang's "The Rape Of Nanking".

I highly recommend Flyboys to anyone looking for an entertaining introduction into World War II's Pacific arena... or just anyone looking for an entertaining read on a long plane ride. Positively gripping!

Flyboys
by James Bradley

(This book, along with many other morbid reads that I have compiled with the assistance of my fellow morbids, can be found on The Library Eclectica. All associate fees received are used for contest giveaways and material for the MFDJ.)

*******

Morbid Site Du Jour!

Now, here's a fun read:

The Five Creepiest Urban Legends (That Happen To Be True)!!

Thanks to Joe for the link.

*******

Morbid Shopping!

Now, I'm one of those people who detests Christmas displays being placed out before Thanksgiving, but I also understand the desire to get your shopping over and done with early - especially if you're ordering most of your stuff over the internet. So I thought I'd start featuring some morbid gift-giving ideas as we wind our way towards the Birth of the Sun.

First up - something high class, for the morbid romantic young urban professionals (morbroyuppies) among us. (Are there any?) Alas, it's all waaaaaay out of my price range, but the goodes from D.L. & Co. are morbidivinity!

Candy Skulls (Look how pretty they are - could you ever eat these?)
(Available from Valerie Confections)

Mother of Pearl Skull Serving Tray, Skull Place Card Holders, Skull Swizzle Sticks, Little Silver Skull, Little Black Skull Stationery, and Black Skull Candles
(Available from Unica Home.)

You can have a closer like at these amazing artifacts at the D.L.&Co. website

Thanks to M for the link.


November 6, 2007

Today's Memorable Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Some of the most memorable last words were uttered by Anna Pavlova (1881-1931), the ballerina best remembered for her role as the dying swan, who asked those around her to "Get my swan costume ready".

Culled from: Death: A History of Man's Obsessions and Fears

**********************************************************************

A Wretched Review From The Comtesse

I finally got around to reading the The Perfect Storm a couple of weeks ago. I'd been interested in it for quite awhile since, as you know, tragedy is my favorite subject matter. However, this one wasn't as fascinating to me as most tragedies, partly because I didn't have much empathy for the victims (karma is a bitch, fishermen!) and partly because the author admittedly uses pure guesswork in trying to construct the last moments of the doomed men. He does a pretty good job, all things considered, but it's still a bit unsatisfactory to me.

The most interesting parts of the book dealt with the rescue efforts during the storm, especially the story of a helicopter that was forced to ditch into the stormy seas. The author does a great job of relating the terror of having to jump into dark, cold, wildly tossing 100 foot swells to ride out the storm. Fascinating.

On the whole, I'd consider this to be a good bit of light airport reading, but not exactly an incredible work of art. 3/5 skulls

The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea
by Sebastian Junger

*******

Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Robyn sent a link to some wonderful Worth1000 Photoshop contests where the theme is the ever-delightful "Public Harm Announcement". Many are quite morbid and some, as Robyn found, might even offend your moral sensibilities... assuming, of course, you have any.

Public Harm Announcements

*******

Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

For Christmas last year, I bought my girlfriend one of these wonderfully demented Hieronymus Bosch figures available from the Museum Store. Maybe if she's lucky she'll get another one this year!

Hieronymus Bosch Figures

Incidentally, here is the one that graces our bookshelf. Pretty, ain't it?

Thanks to gsteinma for the suggestion.


November 7, 2007

Today's Preserved Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Thomas Edison's last breath is preserved at the Henry Ford Museum. Ford was a great admirer of Edison's, having once served as chief engineer at the Detroit Edison Company; later the two became fast friends. Ford re-created Edison's Menlo Park workshop in Greenfield Village, the collection of historic buildings next to the Ford museum, and it's possible he wanted to re-create Edison himself, after a manner of speaking. Supposedly Ford asked Edison's son Charles to hold a test tube next to his father's mouth when he breathed his last in 1931. Ford's motive for this odd request is obscure. He is known to have been interested in reincarnation, and some say he thought the spirit exited the body with one's last breath; ergo, what he was collecting was essence of Edison, no doubt for reconstitution at some later date. Others say he just wanted a souvenir of his departed buddy. Whatever the case, it's likely that any Edisonian vestiges, if in fact there ever were any, have long since leaked out. The tube was discovered in the Ford family home in 1950 after both Henry and his wife had died. It's now on display at the Ford museum, just in case you wanted to make any last-minute amendments to your vacation plans.

Culled from: The Straight Dope
http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_128a.html
Generously submitted by: Bruce T.

**********************************************************************

Morbid Link Du Jour!

Here are the fascinating results of a contest to find the most unusual epitaphs in Britain. The winner is a doozy!

http://www.bbchistorymagazine.com/memorials.asp

Thanks to William for the link.

*******

Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Now, here's a proper suitcase! A ribcage to hold all your valuables! (Available in both glistening-bone white and gangrenous black.)



Thanks to Nina for the link.


November 8, 2007

Today's Deeply Shocked Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

DJ Carl Cox has said he is "deeply shocked" after four people were shot dead and nine were injured during his set in a club in Venezuela. Cox was headlining the Red Noise event in Caracas on Saturday, November 3, 2007 when gunmen opened fire on the audience. Police have not released any details on the events surrounding the shooting, but it is believed to be gang-related. "My condolences go out to victims that were caught up in the horrific act that took place at this gig," Cox said. In a statement, the DJ added: "I feel so sad that anybody would act in such a manner when the event was full of 7,000 people having fun. I find it such a sad moment in electronic music as this was probably one of the best set up shows I had played in South America - a sign of real progress - yet utterly hijacked by this mindless act. Again, my heart goes out to those that have died or been injured. This is not what the dance scene is about and is a million miles away from what I want to do, or promote." Vanesa Nieves, 24, Jose Rodriguez, 42, and Jonathan Gomez, 20, have been identified as the victims of the shooting, according to Venezuelan media, while a fourth has yet to be officially confirmed. Police are launching a full investigation into the incident.

Culled from: BBC News

**********************************************************************

I thought they were supposed to hang the DJ, not shoot the audience? Ah well... the real reason I used this as a fact is because I wanted to share the video that was taken during the show, which shows the aftermath of the bloodbath. Thanks to TwistedPrincess69 for the link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqfQMlvCHCM

*******

Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Here's a nice little time waster: Pimp My Zombie. Have fun!

Pimp My Zombie

Thanks to Joe for the link.

*******

Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Looking for the perfect gift for your 8-year-old nephew, the Serial-Killer-To-Be? Here's a coloring book that's right up his (dark, lonely, blood-stained) alley!

AARGH! The Incredibly Ghoulish, Frighteningly Creepy Coloring Book Of Death

Thanks to Imnettin for the link.


November 9, 2007

Today's Slowly Skinned Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The "Shankill Butchers" were a group of Ulster Volunteer Force members in Belfast, Northern Ireland, who abducted Roman Catholics usually walking home from a night out, tortured and/or savagely beat them, and killed them, usually by cutting their throats. Most of their victims had no connection to the Provisional Irish Republican Army or any other republican groups. The leader of the Shankill Butchers was Lenny Murphy. By 1972, age 20, Murphy gathered together a gang of equally violent young men, the core being Murphy himself, Robert "Basher" Bates, and "Big" Sam McAllister, who used his huge frame to intimidate the Butchers' victims. The murder of Tom Madden is seen as one of the most terrible examples of the Butchers' brutality. Madden was abducted and then stripped naked. He was hanged upside down from the beam of a lock-up garage, and slowly skinned alive. He eventually died of slow strangulation.

Culled from: Wikipedia

**********************************************************************

I used this fact as an excuse to feature Jeff's suggestion for a ...

Morbid Lyric Du Jour!

"Shankill Butchers"
by The Decemberists (one of the Comtesse's favorite bands, incidentally)

The Shankill Butchers run tonight
You better shut your windows tight
They're sharpening their cleavers and their knives
And taking all their whiskey by the pint

And everybody knows if you don't
Mind your mother's words
A wicked wind will blow
Your ribbons from your curls
Everybody moan, everybody shake
The Shankill Butchers want to catch you awake

They used to be just like me and you
They used to be sweet little boys
But something went horribly askew
Now killing is their only source of joy

And everybody knows if you don't
Mind your mother's words
A wicked wind will blow
Your ribbons from your curls
Everybody moan, everybody shake
The Shankill Butchers want to catch you awake

The Shankill Butchers run tonight
They're waiting until the dead of the night
They're picking at their fingers with their knives
And whiping off their cleavers on their thighs

And everybody knows if you don't
Mind your mother's words
A wicked wind will blow
Your ribbons from your curls
Everybody moan, everybody shake
The Shankill Butchers want to catch you awake

*******

Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Looking for some dead smilies to impress your friends with on My Space? Oh, who isn't???

http://www.fortunecity.com/campus/ink/659/dead.htm

Thanks to Imnettin for the link.


November 11, 2007

Today's Poetic Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Famous for both his poetry and his love of liquor Chinese poet Li Po met his end in 762 while riding on a boat at night on the Yangtze River. According to historical reports Li was very drunk when he saw then moon's reflection in the water and decided to try to embrace it. He drowned.

Culled from: Uncle John's Triumphant 20th Anniversary Bathroom Reader
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1592230938/theasylumeclecti
Generously submitted by: Bendy

**********************************************************************

I'm sure you've all heard that they've gone and ruined another fascinating freak. This time, it's an 8-limbed girl that they've reduced to "normal". Such a pity...

http://www.canada.com/topics/bodyandhealth/gallery/indialimbs.html?g=0

*******

Morbid Music Du Jour!

Hilton writes to tell us about a new find:

"Just channel hopping, and I caught a rather excellent new British band called The Horrors. They were performing a charming little ditty about a girl who seemed to be straight out of the Ring, and I fell instantly in love with the video, where she rather charmingly eats the lead singer's heart!
The video can be seen on their YouTube page at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzEH_BR3CUw
Their site is http://www.thehorrors.co.uk, and they sub-title their main page "Psychotic Sounds for Freaks and Weirdos".
I would urge all enthusiastic music buffs with a disturbingly dark bent to catch up with this promising new (well, 2005) band."

After viewing the video I can't say that I particularly like their music, but the animation is, indeed, superb. Well-done!

*******

Morbid Trinkets Du Jour!

Don't ask me how, but I somehow managed to stumble across some of the greatest sports shirts EVER! Granted, that's not saying much, but perhaps you'll agree that it's a tremendous pity that these early-20th century farm team names don't exist in Major League Baseball today.

The 1906 Americus Pallbearers

The 1903 Des Moines Undertakers

The 1909 Hannibal Cannibals

The 1902 Nevada Lunatics

The 1905 Paris Parasites

The 1909 Regina Bonepilers

The 1926 Salem Witches

And, my personal favorite, the 1913 Zanesville Flood Sufferers

These and many other bizarre shirts are available from Throwbackmax.Com.

Those were the days...


November 12, 2007

Today's Boldly Exposed Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

General John Sedgewick (son of General John Sedgewick I, who fought with distinction in the War of the Revolution) was one of the top commanders of the Union Army during the Civil War and according to many of his admirers should have been named Commander-in-Chief. A graduate of West Point, a veteran of Indian Wars in the West and campaigns in Mexico, General Sedgewick performed heroic services at Bull Run, Antietam, and Gettysburg, but his troops, unfortunately, took extremely heavy losses. At Antietam, the General himself had two horses shot out from under him and was carried unconscious from the field of battle with three grievous wounds from which he was long in recovering. In the disastrous Chancellorsville Campaign he managed to save most of his troops, whom he led later in forced march to Gettysburg, where his timely arrival and brilliant strategy turned the tide of the Battle. At Spottsylvania, where he was boldly exposing himself to snipers while directing the artillery fire, reassuring the men that confederate sharpshooters could not hit an elephant at that distance, he was shot dead on the spot.

Culled from: http://www.skyweb.net/~channy/sedgwick.html
Generously submitted by: Andrew

**********************************************************************

Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Wilson runs a nail factory and decides his business needs a bit of advertising.
He has a chat with a friend who works in marketing and he offers to make a TV ad for Wilson's Nails.
"Give me a week," says the friend, "and I'll be back with a tape."
A week goes by and the marketing executive comes to see Wilson. He puts a cassette in the video and presses play.
A Roman soldier is busy nailing Jesus to the cross. He turns to face the camera and says with a grin:
"Use Wilson Nails, they'll hold anything."
Wilson goes mad shouting: "What is the matter with you? They'll never show that on TV. I'll give you a second chance, but no more Romans crucifying Jesus!"
Another week goes by and the marketing man comes back to see Wilson with another tape. He puts it in the machine and hits play.
This time the camera pans out from a Roman standing with his arms folded to show Jesus on the cross. The Roman looks up at him and says: "Wilsons Nails, they'll hold anything."
Wilson is beside himself. "You don't understand: I don't want anything with Jesus on the cross! Listen, I'll give you a last chance. Come back in a week with an advertisement that I can broadcast."
A week passes and Wilson waits impatiently.
The marketing executive arrives and puts on the new video.
A naked man with long hair, gasping for breath, is running across a field. About a dozen Roman soldiers come over the hill, hot on his trail. One of them turns to camera and says:
"If only we had used Wilson Nails!"

Send all of your hisses to Remo!

*******

Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Check out this wonderful chalk board! I suppose it's designed for Halloween, but I think it would be a delightful addition to any business year round!

Available from the Victorian Trading Company

Thanks to Magnoire for the link.


November 14, 2007

Today's Outrageous Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A Romanian woman was sent the body of her dead father in the post after a cemetery was sold to developers. Aurelia Cenusa, from Severin, says clergy in her father's hometown of Darvari, 300 miles away, told her the graveyard his body had been buried in was to be sold and his body exhumed. She said she thought the priest was joking when he told her to come and collect her father Rafaila Cojocaru's remains - or receive them in the post. Cenusa said: "I had entered a lottery a few weeks ago and when I got the large parcel I thought I had won something. Instead I opened it up to find a banana crate containing the bones of my dead father. You could still even see bits of his funeral suit even though he died 16 years ago. I told the priest to sell my father's grave and I expected the Church would bury him somewhere else. I had no idea he was being serious when he told me I would be getting the skeleton through the post if I didn't come. It's outrageous." She added that she intended to sue church officials. Local police have launched an investigation.

Culled from: Ananova
Generously submitted by: David

**********************************************************************

Isn't it sad how the dead are shunned by their own families?

*******

Morbid Music Du Jour!

Altaria of the Undead has a music recommendation for us:

"Just thought I would forward this along to share because I love them so! The band name is Harley Poe and they have kind of a folky-punk style, for lack of a better term. They write songs that deal with monsters, serial killers, cannibalism, etc. Definitely go check them out!"

http://www.myspace.com/harleypoe

*******

Morbid Art Du Jour!

Annushka sends a link to the website for Dario Lanzetta, who makes wonderfully eerie (and lovely) photo manipulations. Well worth a look!

http://www.dariolanzetta.it/main.html


November 19, 2007

Today's Best-Known Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Chris Burden is the best-known American body artist. His work explores different means of self-mutilation; in past pieces he’s dragged himself bare-chested through broken glass or shot a bullet through his arm. His 1974 piece, Trans-Fixed, featured Burden being nailed to the back of a Volkswagen and displaying his pseudo-crucifixion on the street.

Culled from: Mental Floss Condensed Knowledge
Generously submitted by: Bendy

**********************************************************************

You can see some of Burden's rather underwhelming "art" here:

http://www.ubu.com/film/burden.html

*******

Follow-Up Du Jour!

Back in June I had featured a link to an audio recording of a "Death Rattle":

"The Death Rattle is an ominous sound that generally describes a patient with lungs that are filling up with fluid. The death rattle is produced by passing air through secretions. It can generally be heard eminating from a patient without the use of a stethoscope. It often can be heard from the hall as you pass the patient's room."

The creepy rattle is here.

Well, Gina shares an extremely ghastly follow-up:

"The Death Rattle pre-death has got nothing on the one you hear after someone's dead. I was a funeral director, and it was always very unnerving to be moving someone around, and suddenly hear them make a vocalization. The one woman's who's post mortem deathrattle I remember most was one of the first bodies I ever had to deal with alone. The death rattle itself didn't bother me so much, but when I rolled her body over to remove the bag from underneath her, she purged out of her mouth, all over my shoes and made the most awful sound while doing it. I spent twenty minutes heaving over the slop sink before I could clean up. To this day, I'm glad I didn't listen to my mom and wear nice heels with an open toe to work. I stuck to nice basic black sneakerlike shoes. If that lady had actually puked on my flesh..."

Shudder!!!

*******

Tidings Of Discomfort And Woe!

When searching for the perfect morbid holiday gift, why not keep in mind the high quality shirts available at Gravestone Artwear? I am extremely fond of the long-sleeved shirts I've purchased from them in the past - but make sure you purchase them directly from Gravestone Artwear and not from GoodGoth.Com. Last year, I purchased a shirt from Goodgoth only to find that it did not have the wonderful sleeve design on it - very disappointing indeed!

Anyway, this year I'm thinking that the Sally Pond design might be high on my wish list... Yours too?

More designs are available here:
Gravestone Artwear

Oh, and while I'm mentioning t-shirts, a Morbid Fact Du Jour shirt is always a great gift idea too, at least to me! They are available at A Plethora Of Viscera.

*******

Morbid Link Du Jour!

Here's an interesting link to a True/False quiz about Unusual Ways People Die. I expect you all to do quite well!

Unusual Ways People Die

Thanks to Gena for the link.


November 20, 2007

Today's Resinous Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In January 1393, French Queen Isabeau de Bavière organised a party to celebrate the marriage of one of her ladies-in-waiting. King Charles VI, then 25-years-old and beginning his lifelong bout with mental illness, and five other lords disguised themselves as "wood savages," in costumes of linen cloth sewn onto their bodies and soaked in resinous wax or pitch to hold a covering of frazzled hemp so that they appeared shaggy and hairy from head to foot. Face masks entirely concealed their identity. In their Dance of the Savages, the masqueraders capered before the revelers, imitating the howls of wolves and making obscene gestures while the guests tried to discover their identity. The King's brother, Louis d'Orléans and Philippe de Bar, entered the hall accompanied by torches. Whether to discover who the dancers were or deliberately courting danger, Louis held up a torch over the capering monsters. A spark fell, a flame flickered up a leg, first one dancer was afire, then another. The Queen, who alone knew that Charles was among the group, shrieked and fainted. The Duchesse de Berry, who had recognized the King, threw her skirt over him to protect him from the sparks, thus saving his life. The room filled with the guests' sobs and cries of horror and the tortured screams of the burning men. Guests who tried to stifle the flames and tear the costumes from the writhing victims were badly burned. Except for the King, only one other masquerader, who flung himself into a large wine-cooler filled with water, escaped. The fatal masquerade came to be called the Bal des Ardents - Dance of the Burning Ones.

Culled from: A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

**********************************************************************

I wish I was an artist - I would definitely paint a masterpiece called Dance Of The Burning Ones! Alas...

*******

Morbid Link Du Jour!

Here's a fun little site where you can find out how many people (including celebrities) died on your birthday and other little morbid goodies. No celebs for me, I'm afraid...

The Death Report

Thanks to Anna for the link.

*******

Morbid Music Du Jour!

Ken sends a note to to tell us about Lordi, a Finnish hard rock band in which teh members dress as monsters. Here's an excellent video introduction. Not my cup of tea, but perhaps yours?

Blood Red Sandman

Ken also notes that the band leader Mr. Lordi is doing his first horror film called "Dark Floors". Could be interesting!


November 22, 2007

Today's Weakly Grasping Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Death by drowning has a certain dark romance to it: countless literary heroines have met their end slipping beneath the waves with billowy layers of petticoats floating around their heads. In reality, suffocating to death in water is neither pretty nor painless, though it can be surprisingly swift. Typically, when a victim realises that they cannot keep their head above water they tend to panic, leading to the classic "surface struggle". They gasp for air at the surface and hold their breath as they bob beneath. Struggling to breathe, they can't call for help. Their bodies are upright, arms weakly grasping, as if trying to climb a non-existent ladder from the sea. Studies with New York lifeguards in the 1950s and 1960s found that this stage lasts just 20 to 60 seconds.

When victims eventually submerge, they hold their breath for as long as possible, typically 30 to 90 seconds. After that, they inhale some water, splutter, cough and inhale more. Water in the lungs blocks gas exchange in delicate tissues, while inhaling water also triggers the airway to seal shut - a reflex called a laryngospasm. "There is a feeling of tearing and a burning sensation in the chest as water goes down into the airway. Then that sort of slips into a feeling of calmness and tranquility," says physiologist Mike Tipton, describing reports from survivors. That calmness represents the beginnings of the loss of consciousness from oxygen deprivation, which eventually results in the heart stopping and brain death.

Culled from: New Scientist
Generously submitted by: Saaxton

**********************************************************************

I've never been conned by that "dying is peaceful" line - probably because I nearly drowned myself a couple of times as a child... and it was ANYTHING but peaceful!

Oh, by the way, a most Morbidly Mirthful Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate such a thing!

*******

Follow-Up Du Jour!

Many of you wrote to tell me you enjoyed the Dance Of The Burning Ones fact from a couple days ago. (I'm glad to hear it - I've been wading my way through that book for a couple months now just to glean the odd morbid goodies like that one.)

Several of you also kindly wrote to tell me of a couple of additional bits of trivia, best summed up by Jon:
"Here's a morbid update for you on the flaming party guests from 14th Century France -- this incident was the inspiration for Edgar Alan Poe's morbid short story 'Hop-Frog', which itself was depicted as one of the subplots in the Roger Corman/Vincent Price classic 'Masque of the Red Death.'"

Interesting. It does make a for good story, doesn't it?

*******

Tidings Of Discomfort And Gloom!!

This Christmas, why not give the gift that goes on giving: Syphilis!!!

Or Chalmydia... or Herpes... or Gonorrhea...

Giant Microbes

Thanks to Bonni for the suggestion.

*******

Wretched Recommendations!

Alexis writes with a book recommendation:

"The guy that wrote 'The Perfect Storm' also wrote a book about the Boston Strangler, called 'A Death in Belmont.' Apparently the Boston Strangler did work at his house, and there's a picture inside the book of the author as a baby with DeSalvo and Junger's mother. I got the book at Borders on the three for the price of two book table, but it's not a bad book."

A Death In Belmont
by Sebastian Junger


November 23, 2007

Today's Martial Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In the early 20th century, a group of Japanese military leaders - called "Spirit Warriors" for their belief that Japanese spirit would protect them from harm - rammed through a series of laws that allowed them to consolidate control of the civilian sector. As part of this control, they introduced a martial curriculum at all public schools which essentially turned them into a chain of mini boot camps. War and patriotism were to be stressed in every subject. In ethics the teachers were to discuss "the meaning of war". Arithmetic classes were to do "calculations about military matters". The topics for science were "general information about searchlights, wireless communication, land mines and torpedoes, submarines, military dirigibles, explosives, military carrier pigeons, heavy cannons, mortars, machine guns, and military sanitation." Physical education would include "character training and war games". Music classes reverberated with war songs. The teachers made it clear to their students what kind of future service they would render to the emperor. One child burst out crying while dissecting frogs at a school. He got two hard knocks on the side of his head as his teacher shouted, "Why are you crying about one lousy frog? When you grow up you'll have to kill a hundred, two hundred Chinks."

Culled from: Flyboys

**********************************************************************

Okay, perhaps not the most morbid of facts, but it does give a bit of insight into how Japanese soldiers were indoctrinated to commit the atrocities they later committed in China in the '30's. More gruesome details will be forthcoming in later facts.

*******

Ghastly!!!

They don't wimp around when it comes to showing unidentified corpses in India! And it seems that suicide by train is quite popular...

http://orissapolice.nic.in/deadbodies0.htm

Thanks to Danny for the link.

*******

Morbid Link Du Jour!

For the horror/gore lovers among us, IGN.Com has the perfect list: The 100 Greatest Gore Moments In Movie History. Much like many of the victims in the films featured, the list is segmented into ten tidy parts. Enjoy!

The 100 Greatest Gore Moments In Movie History

Thanks to Steve O' for the link.


November 25, 2007

Today's Trapped Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A screaming voice was heard from a Lilburn, Georgia graveyard for at least a couple of hours early one Saturday morning. But it wasn’t a voice from the dead, it was the voice of a man whose broken leg was trapped under a headstone. The trapped man, Ezekiel Dejesus-Rodriguez, 24, of Lilburn, had been knocking over headstones from a cemetery adjacent to Luxomni Baptist Church. Officers responded at 2:40 a.m. to the complaint of screaming, which was reportedly heard for about two hours. Officers found the injured man lying on the ground. Dejesus-Rodriguez, who was bleeding from his broken leg and appeared to be going into shock, told the officers he had been stuck there for about three hours. He also told officers he could not feel his leg. One of the officers used a floor jack to lift the headstone, and two others pulled Dejesus-Rodriguez from under it. A Gwinnett County rescue engine arrived soon after. Dejesus-Rodriguez, who admitted to the acts of vandalism, was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center, according to the police report. He is charged with second-degree criminal damage to property. The report said 10 headstones were found toppled, along with several flower pots that were thrown and broken.

Culled from: Gwinnett Daily Post
Generously submitted by: Gadget

**********************************************************************

Talk about Poetic Justice!

*******

Morbid Link Du Jour!

Taryn sends the following link, which is perfect for getting into the right frame of mind for the holidays!

"I came across this link and immediately thought of your site. Nothing like getting back to the basics of the holiday season! Once I started reading I couldn’t stop."

My Miserable Christmas

*******

Ghastly!

So, some idiot in Hungary turned on a cam and went speeding recklessly along busy roads in rain-slickened conditions on his crotch rocket. Can you imagine the result?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmdUEeWviVc


November 26, 2007

Today's Unsurprising Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

An Englishwoman, who was married to a Portuguese named Vasconcellos in Madeira, was accused of heresy in 1704, and sent to the Inquisition in Lisbon. There she was kept in prison for over nine months; she was flogged several times to persuade her to confess, and her breast was burnt in three places with a red-hot iron. At last, she was taken to the torture chamber and strapped into the Spanish chair; an iron slipper, heated in the fire until it was red hot, was placed on her left foot. The flesh was burnt to the bone, and she fainted. When she came to, she was once more flogged until her whole back was a mass of blood, and then threatened with the slipper on her other foot. Unsurprisingly, she signed her confession, and was eventually released.

Culled from: The History Of Torture

**********************************************************************

Ah, torture in the name of God - there's nothing like it!

*******

Morbid Auction!

I'm working on funding the purchase of my domain names for a few more years by selling some comics on Ebay. I thought I'd mention the ones that I think may interest the morbidly minded.

Currently, the only auction I have going on is for one of my all-time favorite series: House Of Secrets. This was a wonderful series that ran between 1997 and 2001 on the DC Comics Vertigo mature readers brand, and it is about a creepy old mansion in which a group of judicial ghosts (the "Juris") meet to determine the fate for people who are guilty of some sort of crime. To these hopelessly judgemental ghosts, rape and murder carries the same weight as lying or keeping secrets. A girl named Rain is brought in to be a witness to the trials and help determine whether the guilty will be imprisoned in the basement, or be freed to live out their lives free of their secret. Apart from the accused having some creepy stories to tell, the comic does an excellent job of telling the story of Rain, the runaway, who fights her own private demons in her relationships with her friends. It was a great series that I was sad to see end... but now it's time to give them up...

House Of Secrets

*******

Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Now, here are some brilliant custom dolls! They're out of my price range, unfortunately, but they are quite nice.

Headless Historicals

Thanks to Aimee and Michael for the link.

*******

Wretched Recommendations!

Melde has a book recommendation for us:

"I recently picked up the book, 'Lord High Executioner: an Unashamed look at Hangmen, Headsmen and their Kind' by Howard Engel at the local flea market. It is a Biography of various Hangmen and the evolution of execution techniques. It was really a rather spiffy, and very morbid, read. Especially the drop table, which tells you how far a person needs to drop for their height and weight. I would definitely recommend it to your readers."

Lord High Executioner: An Unashamed Look at Hangmen, Headsmen and Their Kind
by Howard Engel


November 29, 2007

Today's Atrocious Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The Knights Templar were among the most famous of the Western Christian Military Orders. They existed for two hundred years during the Middle Ages. In 1307, King Philip of France turned on the Templars, who had a sinister reputation due to the secrecy of their rituals, and accused them of heresy in order to confiscate their property. Philip bullied the first Avignon Pope, Clement V, into authorizing the trials of the Templars, and with this authority put them to atrocious tortures to extract confessions. The Templars, many of them old men, were racked, thumbscrewed, starved, hung with weights until joints were dislocated, had teeth and fingernails pulled one by one, bones broken by the wedge, feet held over flames, always with pauses in between and the "question" put again each day until confession was wrung or the victim died. Thirty-six died under the treatment; some committed suicide. Broken by torture, the Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, and 122 others confessed to spitting on the cross or some other variation of crime put into their mouths by the Inquisitors. "And he would have confessed that he had slain God Himself if they had asked him that," acknowledged a chronicler.

Culled from: A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

**********************************************************************

I've been very busy again this week - hence the sporadic nature of the facts - and I'm leaving town for the weekend, so the next issue should be on Sunday or Monday. Life and all that...

By the way, I finally finished reading the book "A Distant Mirror" quoted above. It's an analysis of the 14th century, specifically in France. Although it is very interesting and it has quite a few prime morbid moments in it, I found the book very difficult to get into. It was quite a chore to read and I found myself losing interest at times. So, while it's definitely an excellent chronicle and is great for those who are interested in the culture of the Middle Ages, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend it.

A Distant Mirror
by Barbara Tuchman

*******

Wretched Recommendations!

Michelle has a film recommendation that I can second!

"I got this movie from Blockbuster.com, 'Men Behind the Sun.' Really graphic and gory."

Purporting to tell the true story of Japanese medical experiments on the civilian populace of Manchuria during the Sino-Japanese war and towards the end of World War II, this graphic film from director He Chi-Chiang pulls no punches in portraying atrocities in question, most of which historians have confirmed are based for the most part in fact. While the film was one of the first to explore the subjectmatter of what was known as Unit 731, critics have noted that the film's depiction of such unspeakably horrific war crimes is too shocking for the film to deliver any particular message. Highlights include a woman's skin pulled off her bones like gloves, a cat eaten alive by rats, and a frostbitten man's fingers knocked off with a hammer. In the film's most infamous scene, a man is put in a hyperbaric chamber and pressured until his intestine shoots six feet out his rear end in close-up. The story is told from the perspective of some young Japanese recruits doing their part for the war effort. There is one neutral character, a cute youngster, with whom the audience is brought to sympathize -- only to later see him graphically dissected. Controversy over the film has extended beyond its mere portrayal of such cruelty, as its open use of animal cruelty, as well as actual autopsy footage, is unlawful in many countries including the U.S. and China. ~ Robert Firsching, All Movie Guide

Men Behind The Sun (1989)

*******

Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

I'm proud to announce a new line of Morbid Fact Du Jour shirts available from Etsy.Com with the extremely invaluable assistance of Jen from Juror2.Net: Killer Quotes! A line of t-shirts featuring some of the most charming and enigmatic quotes from everyone's favorite fiends and freaks! Currently, a couple of designs are available, but some of my favorites are lurking around the corner. Have a look at the first couple of designs (by Jen):

Jeffrey Dahmer

Son Of Sam




Vulgarities...