February, 2003

February 2, 2003

Today's Insane Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

George Bateson was an inventor in 19th century England who devised a device for preventing death in cases of premature burial (a common fear of the time). The Bateson Life Revival Device (or "Bateson's Belfry," as it was known) consisted of an iron bell mounted in a miniature campanile on the lid of a casket, the bellrope connected to the presumed corpse's hands through a hole in the coffin lid. A Victorian gentleman may have hoped that, should he revive in his padded coffin, the sinister underground knelling from the Belfry would call some attentive gravedigger to the rescue. Despite the success of his device, which sold well, George Bateson later became more and more preoccupied with the horrors of premature burial. He built increasingly complicated alarm systems for his own coffin. Not trusting even his own apparatus, he later rewrote his will, instead asking to be cremated. Finally, the wretched man became quite insane and feared that his directions would not be followed; in a fit of desperation, he doused himself with linseed oil and set himself ablaze in his workshop, preferring a premature cremation to the lingering risk of premature burial.

Culled from: Buried Alive


Yes, the morbid facts are coming slowly again, are they not? Work is eating my life... and I have some obligations over the next three days that may prevent me from sending anything out until Thursday. But please don't cry... I will be back. Or... wait a minute... is that actually cheering I'm hearing? ;)

Kevin mentions: "I've been told that the term 'Saved by the bell' came from this."


Morbid Link Du Jour!

Since I've been featuring some Dahmerisms lately, I thought it might be appropriate to post a couple of links that Meli sent me featuring Dahmer's own photographs of his victims, and a summary of each victim and their fate.

http://www.home.zonnet.nl/lcnlcn/dahmer/corps.htm (images)
http://www.livejournal.com/talkread.bml?journal=horrors&itemid=9138 (victims)

BTW, the first, third, and fourth images were culled from Vincent J. Geberth's wonderful textbook "Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures, And Forensic Techniques", and they were originally scanned and put out on the internet by yours truly. Yes, Yes, I know - you needn't thank me. It was my pleasure...

Here's an Amazon link to the book, by the way. It also features the picture of the guy who cut off his face and fed it to his dogs while high on PCP:



The next time you just happen to be passing through Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan why not take The Tunnels Of Moose Jaw tour? There are two separate tours - "The Chicago Connection" and "Passage To Fortune". The bad thing is that many of the tunnels - quite like Seattle's Underground - have been destroyed or filled in over the years. And the tour is performed with "animatronics characters" and the like, so it sounds rather hokey to me. Still, it might be worth your time, if you happen to be in the area. ;)


February 3, 2003

Today's Snooty Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In old England, burial in a churchyard was a favorite final resting spot for those who lacked sufficient status to be buried within the Church itself. Yet even within the churchyard, a hierarchy of sites soon become evident, and staus could be judged by the position of a plot within the churchyard. The most favored sites were to the east, as close as possible to the altar wall. In such a spot the deceased could be assured of the best view of the rising sun on the Day of Judgement. An added refinement was to be buried parallel to the long axis of the church, head to the west and feet to the east. People of lesser distinction were buried on the south side, while the north was considered the Devil's domain, suitable only for stillborns, bastards and strangers unfortunate enough to have died while passing through the parish.

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


I've started a new section entitled 'Grim Gaming' in the Film section of the Library Eclectica. Why the "film" section? Well, because I am very lazy and didn't want to start a whole new page tonight, that's why... though I suspect I eventually will. In any event, I put an anchored link at the top of the page that will take you right down to the initial selections. Those of you who are gaming enthusiasts, please feel free to make additional suggestions, keeping in mind that it's more morbid atmosphere and intelligence that I'm looking for, rather than gore, gore, gore. (That's just sooooo common these days.) Also, if you have anything to say about my selections, please do so! (And thanks to Clara for suggesting "Silent Hill" and the page.)



Morbid Read Du Jour!

OujiVejita sends another recommendation:

"Also recommended is a book called 'Maggots, Murder, and Men.' It is a book written by one of the world's foremost forensic entomologists (the guys who study decomposing stuff for insect evidence) about his work."

Oh, I love those case study books, don't you? I'll definitely have to pick this one up sometime...



Urban Exploration Link Du Jour!

For all you New Yorkers into urban exploration, and all you nostalgia freaks like me, I've stumbled across a great site entitled "Forgotten NY". I spent an hour browsing through it, and I'm still heading back for more. The section on Cemeteries is especially interesting. I can't wait until I'm stationed there sometime in 2004. Great stuff!



Morbid Link Du Jour!

Now, here's a site for the rubbernecker in all of us. "Car Crash Photos, Stories, & Songs" is a true labor of love from someone who really obsesses over car crashes. There are great photo galleries of mangled vehicles, some with the victims still inside of them. Lots of trauma, lots of wincing to be had here! Consider yourself warned!


(Special thanks to Michelle for the link)

February 4, 2003

Today's Tasty Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

On Aug. 10, 1949 John George Haigh, known as the "Acid Bath Vampire", was hanged at Wandsworth Prison for killing six people and dissolving them in vats of industrial acid. After killing his first victim in his basement on September 9, 1944, he drained the fresh corpse of William Donald McSwan of enough blood to fill a cup, and drank it. Haigh put the body in a tub and poured buckets of acid over it, when the corpse had been reduced to sludge, he poured it down a manhole in the workshop floor. He bequeathed his clothing to Madame Tussaud's Chamber of Horrors, where a wax figure of him was erected.

Culled from: source uncredited
Generously donated by: Christine


I think that's pretty cool that he bequeathed his clothing to Madame Tussaud's. Talk about a true STAR of the genre.


Morbid Flick Du Jour!

Dancer In The Dark

I can't believe it took me so long to finally see this one, but I'm certainly happy that I did. Björk gives an amazing performance as Selma, a Czech immigrant living in smalltown America with her son Gene who suffers from the same eye affliction that is robbing Selma of her sight. Selma is saving up money so that Gene can have an operation to save his vision, and when a seemingly friendly neighbor steals her money to pay off debts of his own, tragedy ensues. During the course of the film, Selma escapes into fantasies fueled by her love of Hollywood musicals. The songs, written by Björk, are as charming and eclectic as ever. The final scene is emotionally stupendous - one of the greatest endings I've ever seen. As with all works of eclectic genius, this one is a love-it-or-hate-it proposition - but give it a try and you just may come away with your faith in the emotional power of film restored.

(How was that? Did I sound like an "official" movie reviewer? Watch out, Roger Ebert! Ha ha...)


Urban Exploration Link Du Jour!

And for all my kindred souls, here's another excellent urban exploration page, taken from the Midnight Society website which focuses on the strange and unusual in New Jersey.


February 7, 2003

Today's Bright And Shiny Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

On the bright and sunny afternoon of January 7th, 2003, an 88-year old Dutchman was sitting in his Amsterdam home reading the paper. His vision not being what it used to be, he was using a magnifying glass to assist with the process. His memory not being what it used to be, he had long forgotten that equation that all 6 year olds know by heart: (bright sunlight x magnifying glass) + paper = fire. His clothes or papers were soon set alight and he was eventually rushed to a burn center where he was in critical condition.

Culled from: Reuters
Generously donated by: Neil Langdon Inglis


... And he is now known as "The Frying Dutchman". Har har har...


This particular fact was rewritten by The Comtesse -

Here's the original:

"An 88-year old Dutchman was seriously injured when bright sunlight shining through his magnifying glass set fire to his clothes or papers, newspapers reported Wednesday. The man was sitting reading at his Amsterdam home on Tuesday when the magnifying glass he was using intensified the sun so strongly his clothes or papers caught fire. He was taken to a burns center where he was in critical condition, the reports said."

- all because of a little thing that happened to me today (see below).

I must ask you - do you prefer when I rewrite the stories in my own playful words, or would you rather have them more authentic? (There's another example of my rewriting style below.)

Please take the poll:



And now, here's the full story...

Hate Mail Du Jour!

Well, it isn't really hate mail, but it made me feel so hateful towards the webmaster who sent it to me, that I simply have to share. Today I received an e-mail from a webmaster of a certain boring arse subscription newsletter/website who was miffed that I had used an entry that was culled from his website for one of my facts. It was a fact that was sent to me by someone who had credited the site, and I gave it full credit as well. And, to be honest, it wasn't a very interesting fact at all - it was obviously a slow day. Anyway, here's the loving little note I received (and, mind you, he also sent this to my ISP as well! Snitch... could've asked me nicely first, don't you think?):


"Subject: http://asylumeclectica.com/asylum/morbid/archives/morb0399.htm

"The subject URL has come to our attention: it contains *copyrighted* text from (..................) -- a copyright that I own. This text is posted without permission.

"In fact, stripped from the text was a copyright notice which explicitly prohibits posting on web sites. I would greatly appreciate it if you would see to it that it is removed from your server as soon as possible.

"Per the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, this message is being copied to the ISP host involved; their knowledge of this violation makes the ISP liable if it is not removed.

"Acknowledgement when the page is deleted -- and any OTHER examples of my text on your site -- will be appreciated.


"Addendum: I notice you claim a copyright on your site. You expect people to respect YOUR rights, so it's reasonable that you should respect the rights of others. It is NOT reasonable to accept 'donations' of stolen property from others (the attribution for the item was '(.........., donated by Walt Horlick)'. Walt Horlick doesn't own the text; by what
right does he 'donate' it, and by what possible stretch of imagination do you think that he can?"


So, I penned a reply and told him what I thought of his "copyright act" threats... and I rewrote the fact from the rather drab version which is seen at this link (oooh, I don't dare put copyrighted material on MY site again):

http://brothersk.com/tomatoshoe/shoebox2.html (first story)

to the FAR more charming (don't you think):

"Ian Clifton, 35, had the grave misfortune of passing out from a tad too much beer and punch at a party in Sheffield, England. Why was this grave? Well, first of all, he suffered the indignity of passing out in the company of friends who thought that shaving his head and photographing him in lewd poses with a blow-up doll was extremely funny. Secondly, his friends were not only playful, they were also so unobservant that they didn't notice for two hours that he was awfully still... and, in fact, his heart was stiller still! Yes, poor Ian had passed completely out - from life to death - while his friends went on celebrating in the presence of his corpse. The Coroner thought this rather disturbing, but I'd prefer to think that Ian went out with a smile on his face - even if his friends did not. Then again, with friends like that... (The Daily Telegraph - rewritten by DeSpair)"

Although it's time consuming and often I have no time, I think I'll just rewrite everything from now on, just to avoid money-grubbing crackpots in the future.

It's poll-time again, if you haven't voted yet:


February 22, 2003

Today's Insecure Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A woman's body was found lying in a busy street after falling from the back of a mortuary van. Motorists called the police after spotting the corpse, which was wrapped in a black body bag, lying in the middle of the road in Chatham, Kent. The body was moved to the side of the street and covered over by police while they attempted to trace the van, which belonged to the local Co-operative Funeral Service. It is thought the driver was initially unaware the corpse had slipped from the vehicle but he returned to the scene, on Monday morning. A spokesman for Kent Police said that the driver had been reported "for carrying an insecure load".

Culled from: Scottish News
Generously donated by: Remo


Well, I guess I'd be insecure if I kept being tossed from vehicles too...


I know I said I wouldn't make excuses for any absences, since life does tend to get in the way of hobbies sometimes, but after such a long interval, I figure it would be rather rude not to say something about it! Yes, I have been away for a couple of weeks, due to work completely taking over my every spare moment. But as I'm writing this I'm on a plane heading back home again - and hopefully I'll be able to reclaim my life once I'm home again. Here's hoping, anyway...


Morbid Recommendations Du Jour!

ltheguy has a couple of recommendations for us all:

"This a very disturbing movie starring Kevin Bacon and Kathryn Erbe. They live in a small neighborhood in Chicago. One night, after being hypnotized at a party, Kevin Bacon starts to see bizarre encounters with a ghost in his house. It is a damn shame that this movie was in theaters the same time as "The 6th Sense," because they are somewhat similar. "6th Sense" received all of the publicity, but this is written a lot better. If you have the means, I highly recommend renting it. You won't be disappointed."

(Actually, I have seen this film, and I too found it quite fascinating. Thumbs Up! - Comtesse)

"A game that admittedly wasnt the greatest ever made... but what it lacked in gameplay, it made up for in story. The voice-acting was nothing to brag about, but it had an interesting villain, the Scissor-man, a maniac who roamed Europe killing people with a giant pair of scissors... I suppose the prologue cinematic is my favorite part of the game... 'The giant scissors once again search for prey, the trail of murders stretches across Europe from Norway to England... who will make it through this game of murder alive? Clock Tower.' The thing I enjoyed about this game was the 10 alternate endings, some of which had Scissor-man turning out to be different people. Also some really chilling music. Right now, you can probably purchase it for a mere $5. In my mind, it was worth it.


Morbid Link Du Jour!

If you're like me, you probably like to track down old cemeteries whenever you're in a new town. And celebrity graves are always fun too. So, then, why not visit Find A Grave? This is a wonderful website devoted to documenting celebrity (and other) gravesites around the country. Well worth a gander!


(Thanks to gena for the suggestion.)

February 23, 2003

Today's Doubly Tragic Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A football fan in India died of electrocution while trying to watch the World Cup highlights on a faulty television, prompting his distraught mother to set herself on fire. The double tragedy occurred in West Bengal on Sunday, June 3, 2002. Mukunda Dey was fatally electrocuted when he was changing channels. To grieve his death, his distraught mother then attempted suicide by pouring kerosene on her clothes and setting herself on fire. She was rushed to the hospital and is in a critical condition. India are not participating in the event however that has not stopped World Cup fever from gripping millions of enthusiasts in the country.

Culled from:
Generously donated by: Bruce Townley


The first time I glanced at this article, I thought that maybe the man had electrocuted himself on purpose because he was angry with the World Cup results, which would have totally made sense to me, but darn, I see it's just accidental. Not quite as interesting after all...

Shatanzo begs to differ: "What do you mean it's not interesting. She grieves by immolating herself. There are better ways to grieve. believe me, there are better ways of going besides fire. If she thought she was in pain with the fire,wait till she starts the recovery, if she survives."



Morbid Link Du Jour!

Want to see what will happen to you if you play with explosives?

Of course you do...


February 24, 2003

Today's Addictive Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A 24-year-old South Korean man became so engrossed with computer games that he actually played them nonstop for 86 hours before collapsing dead on a tragic Tuesday (October 8, 2002). The jobless man, identified by police only by his last name Kim, was found dead at an Internet cafe in Kwangju, 260 kilometres southwest of Seoul. According to witnesses, the man had been virtually glued to the computer since late the previous Friday and had no decent sleep and meals. (Sounds like me when I'm working in Georgia - despair) The man collapsed in front of the counter early Tuesday but soon regained consciousness. He then went to the toilet where he later was found dead. Initial investigation ruled out the possibility of murder.

Culled from: The Sydney Morning Herald
Generously donated by: Greg


I've heard of addictive personalities before, but that's taking it to a new level! And just to think - perhaps if he'd only hit that 'jump' command a split second earlier, he might have avoided the flames from the dragon, and gotten in that final death jab - and he'd still be alive today! Funny how fate works...


Morbid Suggestions Du Jour!

Amber has some movie suggestions for us:

Company Of Wolves
"Based on a story by Angela Carter and directed by Neil Jordan, this is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, with werewolves!! There is loads of beautiful visual symbolism and the transformations require lots of gore <yey!>"

Santa Sangre
A movie by Jodorowsky. It's really bizarre (kinda artsy, but it does have a plot)... The movie starts out with the son of the owner of the Cirque de Gringo (the Gringo throws knives as flirtation) watching his father shamelessly cheat on his mother
(who is the head of a christian cult which worships a little girl whose arms were cut off as some men raped her), with the tattooed lady, who's daughter (a tightrope walker and mime) has a crush on our young boy (also a magician). There is a huge violent tragedy, our little boy goes insane and many years later his armless mother comes to get him from the asylum so that he can stand behind her and function as her arms. She is very very jealous, however. Murderously jealous, which poses a problem for our hot young man, especially since she can take control of his arms at any time.

Hmmmm... now this one I think I have to see! - despair

February 26, 2003

Today's Clever Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The Epitaph of Catherine Alsopp, who hanged herself in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, circa 1905:

Here lies a poor woman who always was tired,
For she lived in a place where help wasn't hired,
Her last words on earth were,
"Dear friends, I am going,
Where washing ain't done nor cooking nor sewing,
And everything there is exact to my wishes,
For there they don't eat, there's no washing of dishes,
I'll be where loud anthems will always be ringing
(But having no voice, I'll be out of the singing).
Don't mourn for me now, don't grieve for me never,
For I'm going to do nothing for ever and ever."

Culled from: Eccentric Epitaphs


Obviously, Catherine had some friends with a sense of humor! We should all be so lucky...


Morbid Read Du Jour!

Recommended by Michael:

"Buried Dreams is an excellent if chilling book by Tim Cahill and Russ Ewing. The book frighteningly recounts the life and grisly deeds of John Wayne Gacy. If you have not read it, it's well worth looking for."



Morbid Link Du Jour!

The Jerry Garcia Autopsy website is just far too tragic for words. Deadheads, please avoid this site at all costs. You may never recover!


Actually, the entire Chickenhead website is brilliant! Well worth a browse...

(Special thanks to Anne for the link.)

February 27, 2003

Today's Fearsome Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The Roman flogging whip, the flagellum, was feared by all. Its thongs, made of ox-leather and sometimes weighted with lead, could cut deep into the flesh. According to Horace, certain judges were so sadistic that they ordered whippings of such length that the executioner was forced to desist, from sheer exhaustion, before the sentence was completed. Many Roman slaves died in the course of their flogging.

Culled from: The History Of Torture


And of course, just like you, I am trying to imagine what a prolongued flogging with such a instrument would look like... <shudder>

Cathy adds the following tidbit: "As if it the flogging wasn't bad enough they also used to dip the ends of the whip in pitch or like substance that would act as a glue. Then tiny bits of broken pottery shards, thorns and pebbles were rolled over the ends of the whip. This would result in immediate tearing of the skin. Not to mention a nasty infection if the slave/prisoner happened to live."


Six Feet Under Returns!!

Yes, this Sunday the best show on television is back with its season premiere at 9:00 p.m. on HBO. The Six Feet Under website has been revamped and looks great (http://www.hbo.com/sixfeetunder/), and I must include a few items from the HBO store as my...

Morbid Trinkets Du Jour!

Six Feet Under Long-sleeved T-shirt

Six Feet Under Desk Clock

Six Feet Under Short-sleeved T-shirt

and who can resist an...

Autopsy Cap

Great stuff!