December, 2005

December 3, 2005

Today's Seductive Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Raymond Fernandez was a petty crook with a toupée and gold teeth who specialized in seducing and swindling lonely middle-aged women. Fernandez had become a crook after a serious head injury that caused a total personality change. He met an overweight woman named Martha Beck through a lonely hearts club. His first sight of Martha was a shock (she weighed nearly 200 pounds) but she seems to have possessed a certain wistful charm. Once in bed, they discovered that they were soul-mates, and their sex life became a non-stop orgy. When Martha learned how Fernandez made a living, she proposed to join him, posing as his sister, adding only one refinement: that they should murder the women after he had seduced and robbed them. In the course of two years they murdered at least five women, most of whom were contacted through lonely hearts clubs or advertisements, the last being a forty-one-year-old mother and her two-year-old daughter. Suspicious neighbors called the police, who soon discovered two freshly cemented graves in the cellar. Tried in New York, they were both electrocuted on March 7, 1951, Martha having some difficulty squeezing into the electric chair.

Culled from: The Mammoth Book of the History of Murder

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As if squeezing into those tiny airplane seats isn't embarrassing enough!

Gene writes: "I heard that they strapped her to the arms of the chair since she couldnt actually fit in the seat."

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This is quite possibly the greatest of all Brushes With Morbidity. I am honored to present...

"My Brush With Morbidity" by Beth

"Imagine this.... You're minding your own business one calm and peaceful night. You're standing next to the fire listening to it crackle and pop as limbs and pinestaw turn to glowing embers and ash. Suddenly there is a loud explosion. In a fraction of a second you begin to feel the most horrendous pain all over your body. You run, fleeing from the fire that just moments ago was so soothing. You still hear the sizzling but you're no longer near the fire, you're on the other side of the field... it is YOU that is sizzling. You run but you cannot outrun the pain. You happen upon the security light beside the house... You look down at your legs and body and see the flesh rolled back. It is black and smoking. Watery liquid is oozing from the open muscle tissue. No one can touch you because when they do your skin sloughs off. The smell of burning fleshy meat permeates the air. Finally, they get you into the car and head for the nearest hospital.... 45 minutes away. The hospital isn't equipped to care for you, so they send you to another state to a specialized burn center. You stay in the hospital ICU ward for a while, then in the regular ward while you heal. Upon your discharge you are wheeled to your car. The same brand new car that got you to the hospital in the first place. You go to get in that car but there is a towel in the seat. Not knowing any better, you move the towel. The sight makes you vomit. In that seat is the impression of your legs, burnt skin and all. This happened to me on June 11, 2002."

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Tidings Of Discomfort and Gloom!

If you are as annoyed with those Lance Armstrong-spawned colored wristbands as I am, then you will be pleased to know that there are finally some wristbands that speak for the rest of us! Check out the "Nihilism," "Apathy," and "Despair" wristbands from Archie McPhee. Oh, you know I must have them!

http://www.mcphee.com/items/M6127.html


December 5, 2005

Today's Messy Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Crime Scene Cleaners Inc., the brainchild of 35-year-old entrepreneur Neal Smither, specializes in cleaning up the aftermath of suicides, murders and accidental deaths. Randall takes photos of every job before starting, and after he finishes. This is done for insurance purposes, and as a reference if issues or questions arise later regarding work he performed. He’s got a photo of a brain—post-suicide—resting on a tiled shower floor. Another shows all sorts of bone fragments. Yet another photograph shows the top of someone’s scalp, a bit of hair intact, stuck to a bloody wall. If you’ve ever seen someone get shot in a movie and thought the flying carnage was over the top, chances are you’re wrong. Dead wrong. “High-powered rifles and guns at close range wreak havoc and cause unbelievable damage,” Randall says. He’s seen sights you wouldn’t think possible, like a tuft of hair from a shot to the head that actually drove halfway through the side of a cardboard box. “A bullet from a 30.06 will mushroom once it enters the body and take with it anything in its path. A shotgun can rip your face off, but the buckshot will stay in the head, usually leaving the skull intact.” How horrific and unbelievable can crime scenes be? Randall tells of one of their technicians in Las Vegas who was called to the site of a suicide. A man had jumped off the top of The Stratosphere on a hot summer day and hit the sidewalk with an impact so great that his spine was driven right through the pavement. It couldn’t be removed. Eventually, the area had to be torn up and cemented over. Before and after a clean-up, Randall has to case the joint to make certain every nook and cranny is covered. It’s not always easy. “I once found a piece of brain I almost missed that had flown across the room and landed in a box away from everything else. I found an eye socket behind a door; a nasal cavity here, teeth there. I owe it to the family to make sure there’s not one remnant left,” says Randall, who’s happy to say he’s never been called back to a job. Nor has he ever gagged or thrown up at one.

Culled from: Salt Lake City Weekly
Generously suggested by: Diabolus Domesticus

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Now, this is a guy who should be given a Black Heart for Morbid Valor! Bravo for finding a way to cash in on a morbid curiosity. If only I didn't have such a dread of cleaning, I might be kicking myself for not thinking of this first. Which reminds me... back to tidying my castle...

By the way, I highly recommend reading the entire article linked above. There are other fascinating tidbits. Splattered about, of course.

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Tidings of Discomfort and Gloom!

For history buffs, here is the perfect must-have for the holiday season: the hand of Napoleon Bonaparte! Lovingly cast from the cold dead appendage of the little man himself! (And bargain-priced too!)

http://www.designtoscano.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=5821&itemType=PRODUCT&iMainCat=25&iSubCat=28&iProductID=5821

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Morbid Mirth Du Jour

Here's one for you, from Elizabeth:

Q: What did Ed Gein say when he was accused of defacing the prom queen?

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A: It's no skin off my nose. <Insert Groan Here>

 


December 8, 2005

Today's Disastrous Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

On December 30, 1703 a massive earthquake struck Tokyo, crumbling buildings and opening great fissures in the ground. Some 27,000 people were killed by the disaster. At the same time that the quake shook Tokyo and the surrounding area, a series of monstrous tidal waves swept the coastline, carrying entire villages and all their inhabitants out to sea. In the mountains of the Hakone district, the quake opened hundreds of fissures in the peaks, causing boiling water to spout freakishly over nearby villages and farms. A week after the quake, while the Japanese hastily buried their dead, calamity struck again: Fire broke out in nearby Koishikawa just as hurricane-force winds hit the area. Winds soon created a deadly inferno that destroyed what little of this city remained following the disastrous earthquake. More than a thousand people died in the fire.

Culled from: The Pessimist's Guide To History

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Apparently, they didn't realize that it's not nice to fool Mother Nature... (And if you don't know that reference, you are entirely too young.)

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Morbid Sightseeing

Lee sends an interesting tip:

"I just returned from the Galapagos Islands, a place with a surprising amount of morbid history. Maybe you could find some things about the events on the island of Floreana in the twentieth century. A mad German dentist named Dr. Ritter moved there with his mistress in the hopes of finding a new Eden, was followed by another German family, the Witmers, and an opulent baronness. Lots of disappearances and unsolved murders.

"Check out these books:

The Curse of the Giant Tortoise (for a comprehensive view)

Satan Came To Eden (by Ritter's mistress)

Floreana (by Margarita Witmer, the longest surviving witness to everything, who dies in 2000)

"I was actually able to go into the lava tube cave where the Ritters first stayed on the island, and see the place they discovered a skeletal (unidentified) human hand! Also, in the 19th century there was Patrick, the Irish Emperor of Floreana who took people as slaves from whaling ships and then probably ate them while trying to escape the island.

"I think this may pique your morbid curiosity. Enjoy!"

Indeed, I had no idea that the Galapagos Islands served as inspiration for more than just Darwin! Thank you for the tip, Lee!

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Tidings of Discomfort and Gloom!

I can't believe I only JUST discovered the wonders of Madame Talbot's Victorian Lowbrow! Her artwork is sheer morbid bliss and her mourning dolls are splendid as well. Why not take a gander?

http://www.madametalbot.com/


December 9, 2005

Today's Genocidal Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In April 1975, the Communist forces of the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, began a brutal four-year regime in Cambodia. The human costs of this revolution were horrific. According to conservative estimates a million people -- or one in seven of the country's population -- died from starvation, malnutrition and misdiagnosed or mistreated illness. Another 200,000 were executed as enemies of the state. S-21 was a secret prison operated by the Pol Pot regime in the capital city of Phnom Penh from mid-1975 through the end of 1978. Individuals accused of treason, along with their families, were brought to S-21 where they were photographed upon arrival. They were tortured until they confessed to whatever crime their captors charged them with, and then executed. The prisoners' photographs and completed confessions formed dossiers that were submitted to Khmer Rouge authorities, so that proof of the elimination of "traitors" was established. Of the 14,200 people imprisoned at S-21, which held between 1,000 and 1,500 at any one time, only 7 are know to have survived.

Upon entering S-21, prisoners were given a list of regulations entitled, "The Security Of Regulation":

1. You must answer accordingly to my question - Don't turn them away.

2. Don't try to hide the facts by making pretexts this and that. You are strictly prohibited to contest me.

3. Don't be a fool for you are a chap who dare to thwart the revolution.

4. You must immediately answer my questions without wasting time to reflect.

5. Don't tell me either about your immoralities or the essence of the revolution.

6. While getting lashes or electrification you must not cry at all.

7. Do nothing, sit still and wait for my orders. If there is no order, keep quiet. When I ask you to do something, you must do it right away without protesting.

8. Don't make pretext about Kampuchea Krom in order to hide your secret or traitor.

9. If you don't follow all the above rules, you shall get many many lashes of electric wire.

10. If you disobey any points of my regulations you shall get either ten lashes or five shocks of electric discharge.

Culled from:
Cambodian Genocide
and
Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge Tuol Sleng SP21 Museum of Genocidal Crimes

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Of interest to Morbid Sightseers is the fact that S-21 has been turned into a Museum of Genocidal Crimes, so it's possible to visit the scene of the atrocities and view photographs of the sad victims. Our friend Alf visited the site and put together an interesting travelogue:

http://www.corkscrew-balloon.com/03/01/2xxx/08a.html

Another good travelogue is available here:

http://www.downtheroad.org/Asia/Photo/2Cambodia_Pictures/9Tuol_Sleng_Genocidal_Crime.htm

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Morbid Sightseeing!

Shana writes to tell me about an old frontier fort near San Angelo, Texas:

"My father does a lot of volunteer work at the Fort here. It's called Fort Concho. It's the oldest in Texas. I just got back from a visit there. I think you would LOVE this place. My family and I spent the night over, and although nothing major happened, we saw chairs that were out of place, noises coming down the stairs, and a rug that turned over. For $174 a night you can stay in a real barracks that has had many sightings of the girl that passed away in there. Even if you see nothing, it is BEAUTIFUL inside... rock walls, wood tables, even the bed spreads are from the 40s... even a cool old spinning wheel that freaked me out."

Sounds like a fun night out to me! Thanks, Shana!

http://www.fortconcho.com/

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Tidings Of Discomfort And Gloom!

Everyone needs a calendar, so why not start the year off properly with this unbearably lovely calendar from the ever-magnificent Simon Marsden? This beauty will most definitely be gracing a wall in The Castle DeSpair next year!

The Haunted Realm

More jaw-droppingly beautiful Simon Marsden images can be found here:
http://www.simonmarsden.co.uk/



December 10, 2005

Today's Lost Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Philibert Aspairt was a porter, a doorman, at the Val-de-Grace hospital in Paris who visited the catacombs beneath the city on what became a famous mission of theft: He hoped to pilfer the wine caves of the monks of Chartreux. Aspairt disappeared on All Saints' Day in 1793; his body wasn't discovered until 1804. He was found clutching an enormous ring of keys, just a few yards from an exit; the irony was not lost on his discoverers and they buried him where he lay. It is believed that somewhere along the journey Philibert's torch went out. He probably roamed in the darkness for days.

Culled from: Salon.Com
Generously submitted by: Tiffany

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Here's a photograph of poor Philibert's catacomb grave:
http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Europe/France/photo219058.htm

The Salon.Com article linked above is incredibly fascinating for those of us who wish we could wander the extensive catacombs beneath Paris ourselves. Apparently, there's a whole culture built on doing just that. Oh, I'm insanely jealous!

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Malady of the Month!

I stumbled upon some old photographs of a particularly horrendous disease called Yaws on my hard drive, so I thought the time was ripe for a new Malady of the Month/Year. Now, here's a disease you really don't want to get... if you don't have access to penicillin!

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

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Morbid Sightseeing!

Kainlane has a suggestion if anyone happens to find themselves in Scotland one of these days:

"Good Auld Reekie (aka Edinburgh) has some of the best ghost tours in the world. If you ever make it to Scotland you really must take the City of the Dead tour. Very enjoyable experience."

Looks like a grand time to me! To bad I won't be in Scotland anytime soon...

http://www.blackhart.uk.com/

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Tidings Of Discomfort and Gloom!

They're expensive, but if you have the cash, why not purchase a delightful Count Orlock (Nosferatu) model for the morbid hobbyist in your life? I would if I could...

http://www.darkcarnivalmodels.com/countorlock.htm


December 11, 2005

Today's Clean Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In December, 2001 the body of a premature baby was accidentally put into a laundry bin and then washed with dirty sheets at a UK hospital. James Kelly Fernandez was born 17 weeks premature weighing just one pound, one ounce (0.5 kilogrammes) on November 17 and died shortly afterwards. His body was lost among piles of dirty linen after it was taken to the morgue at Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup, southeast of London. A hospital spokeswoman said the incident was a "tragic mistake" and added that the hospital had apologised privately to James' parents, Patrick Kelly, 36 and his Spanish girlfriend Amaia Fernandez, 25. She said work practices had been changed to prevent any repetition of the error. The error emerged when undertakers arrived to collect James' body from the hospital mortuary on December 13. When workers were unable to find the body, the hospital launched a broader search. It was found the following morning on a conveyor belt at the industrial cleaning firm Sunlight Healthcare Services, 13 miles (20.8 kilometres) away in Brixton, south London. Kelly told the UK Sun newspaper of his distress when told by a police officer that his son's body had been washed in boiling water and suffered fractures to almost every bone. "He told me James had been put through a washing cycle for contaminated clothes from the mortuary which meant it had to go on the hottest wash,"

Culled from: CNN.Com
Generously submitted by: Heather

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Talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater!

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"My Brush With Morbidity" by Gina

"I'm a second year Funeral Directing student, and today I had my first embalming lab, and I thought I'd share it with you all. Our lab is in the morgue of a hospital in a nearby city. The corpses we get are between one and two months old, and thus aren't the most pleasant to view. We didn't get to work on anyone today, but we did get a quick tour of the facilities. While we were getting the tour of the actual embalming lab, one of the other students was still out in the hallway, and heard something near the refrigerators. 'Something interesting's going on down there, I think they're bringing someone new down. Looks like he's in pieces!' he said. Our teacher decided then was as good of a time as any to get started, and we walked over to where a morgue attendant and somone else from the hospital staff were standing with the refrigerator tray pulled between them. On it were smallish packages that were wrapped like deli meat, in white paper and plastic. At first we thought it was someone in many many parts, but it turned out to be a tray full of dead babies, either stillborns, partial births, or those that died soon after birth in that hospital.

"Then my teacher brought us over to another side of the morgue, and started pulling people out of their 'fridges to show us. The first we opened was a big walk-in type fridge, where we didn't see much besides the dead man's feet. The second, we pulled out a tray that had a woman who had been dead for about 2 months; she still had either a breathing or feeding tube in her mouth, and mold was begining to grow on the top of her head and on the surrounding tray, and her skin was starting to discolour. After that, we pulled out the tray of a man, who was also growing mold, but all over his face. His nose was also beginning to decompose, and his head was completly discoloured. He had been embalmed, but not too well. His feet, which were unwrapped, were remarkably preserved, but they had obviously not gotten enough fluid, if any at all, into his head.

"The last person we pulled out of refrigeration was a post-autopsy, who was also embalmed, and very well preserved. Fluid had leaked from where he was sewn up though in the chest and head, and stained the cloth covering him, and the one beneath him. They had also used too much fluid in his face, and his lips were swollen all away down and around the sides of his face and they were shiny.

"The smell wasn't nearly as bad as I'd been expecting, especially after the students from last semester were talking about pulling out the body and instantly spraying over it with the aerosol sanitizer to cover it up, and putting daubs of vics vaporub in their noses. All in all, it was a very interesting experience, and I'm looking forward to actually begining to embalm someone next week."

Some people have all the luck, eh?

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Tidings Of Discomfort and Gloom!

For the ghost-hunting goth on your list, why not get them Cryptique, a spirit board from Salem, Massachusetts? Much like the Ouija Board, it may be total bollocks, but hey, it looks cool!

http://www.cryptique.com/


December 12, 2005

Today's Highly Fetid Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A crusade against the practice of burying the dead in cities and towns was mounted in 1839 by an English surgeon, George Walker. In that year he wrote "Gatherings From the Greaveyards: Particularly Those of London," subtitled, "And a detail of dangerous and fatal results produced by the unwise and revolting custom of inhuming the dead in the midst of the living." It is a glorious Victorian extravaganza replete with references to 'animal putrescency' and 'noxious effluvia':

"My pupil, Mr J H Sutton, entered the vaults of St --- Church; a coffin, 'cruelly bloated', as one of the grave diggers expressed it, was chosen for the purpose of obtaining a portion of its gaseous contents. The body, placed upon the top of an immense number of others, had, by the date of the inscription on the plate, been buried upwards of eight years; the instant the small instrument employed had entered the coffin, a most horribly offensive gas issued forth in large quantities. Mr S, who unfortunately respired a portion of this vapour; he was instantly seized with a suffocating difficulty in breathing (as though he had respired an atmosphere impregnated with sulphur); he had giddiness, extreme trembling, and prostration of strength; in attempting to leave the vault he fell from debility; upon reaching the external air, he had nausea, subsequently vomiting, accompanied with frequent flatulent eructations, highly fetid, and having the same character as the gas inspired. He reached home with difficulty, and was confined to his bed during seven days."

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

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Gotta love the Victorians. These days, a simple, "It reeks!" would suffice. Give me the old verbose, melodramatic overuse of semi-colons anyday!

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Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Remember that brilliant animation of the falling woman who smashed into some rock-solid bubbles as she endlessly fell? Well, someone has improved upon the original by replacing the anonymous woman with Daddy's Little War Criminal! Ah, this fills me with such satisfaction...

http://www.planetdan.net/pics/misc/georgie.htm

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Tidings of Discomfort and Gloom!

A Leatherface action figure is always a welcome addition to any home! Sideshow Collectibles has quite a few lovely horror action figures if this one doesn't meet your fancy:

http://www.sideshowtoy.com/cgi-bin/category.cgi?item=7303

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Morbid Recommendations Du Jour!

Patty sends a couple of fiction recommendations.

"I'll recommend two of my favorite morbid reads if you have not already heard of them: Perfume by Patrick Suskind takes place in 18th century France and is about a vampire of scent and Geek Love by Katherine Dunn is about a family of circus freaks. As you can see,I'm not much on reviews, but i don't want to ruin the endings for you. Believe me, they're worth checking out,I don't think they'll disappoint you."

Since I rarely read fiction, you'll have to take her word for it!

Here's the Amazon synopsis of Perfume:

"Upon its publication last year in Germany Susskind's first novel Perfume immediately became an international best seller. Set in 18th-century France, Perfume relates the fascinating and horrifying tale of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a person as gifted as he was abominable. Born without a smell of his own but endowed with an extraordinary sense of smell, Grenouille becomes obsessed with procuring the perfect scent that will make him fully human. With brilliant narrative skill Susskind exposes the dark underside of the society through which Grenouille moves and explores the disquieting inner universe of this singularly possessed man. The translation is superb. Essential for literature collections."

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0375725849/theasylumeclecti

And here's the synopsis of Geek Love:

"A wild, often horrifying, novel about freaks, geeks and other aberrancies of the human condition who travel together (a whole family of them) as a circus. It's a solipsistic funhouse world that makes 'normal' people seem bland and pitiful. Arturo the Aqua-Boy, who has flippers and an enormous need to be loved. A museum of sacred monsters that didn't make it. An endearing 'little beetle' of a heroine. Sort of like Tod Browning's Freaks crossed with David Lynch and John Irving and perhaps George Eliot -- the latter for the power of the emotions evoked."

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0375713344/theasylumeclecti



December 22, 2005

Today's Imaginative Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Louis Dethy, a retired engineer, hid a number of booby traps in walls, ceilings and household objects throughout his three-story home. The traps appeared to be a revenge on the children and grandchildren he claimed had abandoned him. At first Belgian police assumed the 79-year-old had committed suicide and bled to death from a gunshot wound to the neck after finding him at his home near the town of Charlerois in November, 2002. It was an assumption that nearly cost one detective his life as he searched the house and opened a booby-trapped wooden chest. A shotgun hidden inside went off, missing the policeman by centimeters. The detectives called in military mine-clearance experts who, after unravelling a series of clues left in scribbled notes, uncovered a total of 19 death traps, among them an apparently harmless but lethal pile of dinner plates, the TV and even an exploding crate of beer. "We have never come across anything like it before," said one of the experts. "It was all fiendishly clever. The house was booby-trapped from top to bottom. We've had to take everything apart." Relatives say he never forgave his wife for divorcing him, or his 14 children and 37 grandchildren for having little to do with him. His bitterness grew into a desire for revenge when even his mother became
estranged from him. The family house had been built by Dethy on land and with materials paid for by his mother. When she turned against him, she bequeathed the property to one of his daughters, Jeanne, 49. Four years ago he lost a lengthy legal battle to overturn her will and at that point, the detectives believe, he set about installing the traps, most of them using concealed 12-bore shotguns triggered by barely-visible nylon threads or fishing line. His thinking appeared to be that if he were evicted, he would ensure that the new owner would not live to enjoy the house.

Culled from: The Age
Generously submitted by: Sean

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As Grandpa Simpson would say, "Now, that's what I call good old-fashioned gumption!"

Sorry for the lapse in facts. I have been sidelined for a variety of reasons far too boring to go into in detail, although one of them does have to do with ripping several vile polyps from an internal organ, which is always quite fun.

Anyway, I guess it's a bit late for tidings of discomfort and gloom, but I'll publish this last one anyway...

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Tidings of Discomfort and Gloom!

Edward Gorey always adds to holiday cheer, so why not give that special "someone" some lovely Gorey jewelry?

http://www.goreydetails.net/search.php?category=21&PHPSESSID=fbf803a553db5e31b4275b81621831d6

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Morbid Art Du Jour!

Nina Barlow's masks are amazing! I wish I had a few of these hanging around The Castle DeSpair!

http://www.ninabarlow.com/index.html

Thanks to brooha for the link.


December 23, 2005

Today's Acute Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Acute symptoms of fever resulting from exposure to a fetid tomb overcame Benjamin Smith, a sexton in the church of Little Berkhamsptead, Hertfordshire, England, in 1835. Smith had lifted a stone which covered a vault in the aisle of the church in which, fifteen months before, a child's body had been deposited. The coffin was found floating in water and giving off such a vile smell that the sexton instantly became ill with nausea, diarrhea, trembling and prostration.

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

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Okay, nowadays we know that you can't get a fever from foul odors. But it's the thought that counts with these olde stories.

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Urban Legend Du Jour!

Now, here's one I hadn't heard before. Thanks to Maika for sending the link!

"Fan death is an urban legend that was originally primarily confined to South Korea, but has spread to other countries in the Far East. The legend states that an electric fan, if left running overnight in a closed room, can result in the death (by suffocation, poisoning, or hypothermia) of those inside. This belief also extends to air conditioners and the fans in cars. When the air conditioner or fan is on in a car, Koreans are apt to leave their car windows open a crack to avoid 'fan death'.

"There are several reasons given as to how a fan can kill (other than using it to bludgeon someone to death).

* It is believed that an electric fan creates a vortex, which sucks the oxygen from the enclosed and sealed room and creates a partial vacuum inside.
* The fan uses up the oxygen in the room and creates fatal levels of carbon dioxide.
* If the fan is put directly in front of the face of the sleeping person, it will suck all the air away, preventing one from breathing.
* Fans can cause hypothermia. As the metabolism slows down at night, one becomes more sensitive to temperature, and more prone to hypothermia. In other words, if the fan is left on all night in a sealed and enclosed room, it will lower the temperature of the room to the point that it can cause hypothermia.
* Often, it is claimed that a combination of these factors is responsible. For example, it might be explained that the fan lowers the oxygen level in the room while raising carbon dioxide levels, which could prove fatal to a sleeping person already weakened by hypothermia."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_death

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Morbid Sightseeing!

Baelish wrote to tell me about the Palais Garnier, otherwise known as the Paris Opera House, and exactly why this building holds great appeal to the morbidly-minded. Very interesting information, which I have added to The Morbid Sightseer:

http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/sightseer/euro/fr/garnier.htm



December 24, 2005

Today's Severe Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In 1722 some 20,000 Russians died horrible deaths after eating bread made from rye infected by a deadly fungus. The fungus caused a severe nervous disorder in victims called ergotism, which resulted in delusions, convulsions, burning pain, and finally death.

Culled from: The Pessimist's Guide To History

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Well, it could have been worse! They could have all been burned at the stake for being witches like the poor lasses in Salem, MA.

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a morbidly mirthful holiday season! Hopefully Santa will bring you all something completely horrendous!

Ken writes: "My dear Comtesse, in case you didn't know, the Ergot Fungus releases a Chemical Compound that when Synthesized and purified is know as LSD!!! Ergot Poisoning is a very bad way to go. Your body goes into uncontrollable muscle spasms. The spasms suffered by ergot victims were called St. Vitus Dance. This along with the uncontrolled hallucinations... Yeah, I think I'd gladly take a cup of Hemlock any day."

Matt also writes: "speaking of Salem, the witch hangings took place more in an adjacent town known as Danvers. Salem, as the city is bow though has tons of Witch trial related sites and attractions. Oh, and one was pressed to Death."

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Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Know someone who is retiring? Why not give them the perfect gift: a Toe-Tag!

http://www.toe-tags.com/

Thanks to Kyle for the link.

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Wretched Recommendations!

Steve O' writes to tell us about a DVD that includes all those classic old driver's ed films, including the legendary gorefest Signal 30:

http://tinyurl.com/9ogo4

 



December 25, 2005

Today's Disastrous Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Here's a "fun" word!

funestation
============
an adjective meaning 'pollution from touching a dead body.' The word funest means 'causing death or evil, disastrous.' Both words are related to funeral.

Culled from: The Oxford Word of the Day
Generously submitted by: Miss SueLyn Jukes

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"Funest" means causing death or evil? No *wonder* I enjoy this stuff so much! It all makes sense.

By the way, thank you to all of you who wrote to correct me on my mistatement that Salem witches were burned at the stake in yesterday's MFDJ. (They were hanged.) That's what I get for being historically lazy with you lot! :-)

Neil writes: "Funeste or funesto in Latin languages also 'baleful, baneful, dire.' Still used in Romance languages even if we've lost it in English.."

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"My (Brother's) Brush With Morbidity" by angyleyz

"My brother recently bid on and won an auction for an old house. Its a wonderful, very large house. It has room after room with nooks and crannies everywhere. He recently decided he would do some renovation and lo and behold discovered his 'new' home is an old funeral parlor. He didn't really believe the stories until he began digging in a part of his yard and uncovered bones. It seems that in the olden days when limbs were amputated they just buried them out back instead of in cemeteries. He also found out his 'new' home is sitting on top of an old blood pit. When the bodies were being embalmed they pumped the blood into a pit under the porch. My brother can't do any renovation unless he first empties the pit but it has to be done by a hazardous waste crew. I realize this is my brother's brush with morbidity but bet me... I am never spending a night in his house. I can handle the bones but some thing about that blood pit really freaks me out."

Me, on the other hand? I am seething with jealousy! Such a lovely home to be wasted on the non-morbid. There oughta be a law...

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Morbid Sightseeing!

I have finally gotten around to posting a travelogue of my visit to the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago in April, 2004. Hope you enjoy!

http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/sightseer/us/il/IMSS.htm


December 26, 2005

Today's Sore, Swollen Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

French doctors were taken aback when they discovered the reason for a patient's sore, swollen belly: He had swallowed around 350 coins -- $650 worth -- along with assorted necklaces and needles. The 62-year-old man came to the emergency room of Cholet General Hospital in western France in 2002. He had a history of major psychiatric illness, was suffering from stomach pain, and could not eat or move his bowels. His family warned doctors that he sometimes swallowed coins, and a few had been removed from his stomach in past hospital visits. Still, doctors were awed when they took an X-ray. They discovered an enormous opaque mass in his stomach that turned out to weigh 12 pounds -- as much as some bowling balls. It was so heavy it had forced his stomach down between his hips. Five days after his arrival, doctors cut him open and removed his badly damaged stomach with its contents. He died 12 days later from complications. The patient's rare condition is called pica, a compulsion to eat things not normally consumed as food. Its name comes from the Latin word for magpie, a bird thought to eat just about anything. Pica can take the form of eating dirt, ashes, chalk, hair, soap, toothbrushes, burned matches and many other things. Francois once treated a patient who ate forks. Most such objects are small enough to pass on their own, but some must be removed by doctors.

Culled from: CNN
Generously submitted by: Anna

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The article linked above has an x-ray of the man's stomach (aka the change purse).

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Morbid Sightseeing!

You'll never believe it, but I actually finished a SECOND travelogue in recent days! Yes, this one is to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and Old Dutch Burying Grounds in Sleepy Hollow, NY back in July, 2003. It's really a lovely place - I hope you can see why.

http://www.asylumeclectica.com/asylum/sightseer/us/ny/sleepy%20hollow/index.html

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Morbid Decorating!

Jodie has a request for us all:

"After 12 years of living in apartments where everything had to be 'tastefully' painted and decorated (and I even pushed the limits of that) I'm going to be moving into an apartment where the landlords have given me a free hand on what I do to the place. A set of Mad Scientist bath salts that came complete in test tubes had inspired me to decorate my bathroom in a Mad Scientist's Laboratory theme. This is proving to be harder than I had expected, so I'm hoping you or your readers can point me in a direction or two. I need a really great shower curtain... Something with an 'IT'S ALIVE!' type scene from some Frankenstein movie would be just perfect, but also a shower curtain with body parts or brains or scientific markings of some kind would also work. An idea where to get plastic or glass beakers, test tubes, and the like would also be great. I'll even provide pictures when it's all done! Thank you. =)"

Can anybody help? Send your suggestions to comtessedespair@gmail.com and I'll make sure it gets back to Jodie. Thanks!




Vulgarities...