August, 2003

August 1, 2003

Today's Beefy Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A Malaysian man sliced off his own penis, then fried and ate it after taking hallucinatory pills that caused him to hear voices urging him to mutilate himself. The 34-year-old man claimed he only realised what he had done when he saw blood oozing from his crotch, said a police spokesman in the town of Sitiawan, 300km north of Kuala Lumpur. The man had taken hallucinatory pills before sleeping on Friday and awoke hearing voices telling him to chop off his penis and devour it. He was hospitalised in stable condition. The man had recently been released from a drug rehabilitation centre.

Culled from: Associated Press,4057,6745540%5E13762,00.html
Generously submitted by: MorbidAnarchist


Oh boy... here we go again! Another anti-drug commercial in the making... and wouldn't this one be amazing! Now, THAT would really shake some people up... probably mostly male, I would think. And somehow when reading this one, I had an image of those old cartoons where a starving character looks at another character and sees a fried chicken leg or something like that. I mean, I can totally understand the confusion, can't you?


Thank you to everyone who responded to my two questions yesterday. I thought I would provide an update based on what I've learned:

1) The Museum Of Death in L.A. is sadly closed. I'm rendered virtually inconsolable over that news...

2) Graveline Tours is also no more, although another tour company does offer a death tour. Still, I think I'll forsake that and do my own private tour. If I must...

3) Apparently, there is much debate over whether it's legal to own a human skull or not. I guess it depends on the state you live in. I see that they are available to purchase on Ebay (for "teaching" purposes, of course). Some people say that it is illegal to own a skull unless you are using it for official education purposes. Other people say that yes, it is legal to own a skull as long as you can prove its origin (ie. a bio supply house, not your neighbor's house). Apparently, there's a shop on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood called Necromance that sells human skulls, but again, it's only for "research purposes". But, in any event, I will definitely be stopping by this place while I'm down there. I don't particularly care for the animal remains that it sells, but the jewelry is lovely.

August 2, 2003

Today's Critical Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A 25-year-old Filipino man has been stabbed dead for singing a Frank Sinatra classic out of tune during a birthday party. The victim, Casimiro Lagugad, was asked to sing Sinatra's popular song My Way during the party in the Manila suburban city of Caloocan on Sunday, June 22, 2003. "Witnesses said the suspect, Julio Tugas, 48, one of the guests and a neighbour of the victim, got irked because Lagugad was singing out of tune," Officer Albis said. "Tugas suddenly attacked the victim and stabbed him in the neck," he added. Guests rushed Mr Lagugad to the hospital, but he died while being treated. Tugas later surrendered to village security officials, who turned him over to authorities. Police are preparing homicide charges against the suspect, who apparently admitted to the crime.

Culled from:
Generously submitted by: lvassarotti


Jeez... everyone's a critic!

And how much do you wanna bet that the guy who asked him to sing the song knew of Julio's love for Sinatra and how much he despised people ruining Sinatra songs, and planned the whole thing? My eyebrow is firmly raised!



I think I've mentioned this before, but just in case...

On the Morbid Forum Du Jour ( there is a calendar feature, that I have updated with a selection of somewhat morbid shows from various channels that are playing over the course of August. Unfortunately, I don't have time to keep this up, so I'm asking for some help from any morbid patrons out there who'd care to keep it updated by adding your favorite morbid shows to the schedule. You can take a look at the August calendar to get an idea of how I'm formatting the updates, and if anyone wants to add some shows, please feel free! In the future, I doubt I'll be able to keep this up, but I think it's very helpful to have a resource like this at our disposal, so I'm hoping that some of you will chip in on a monthly basis.

But please be good - don't add anything silly or inappropriate out there, please! I'll be watching you...


Morbid Read Du Jour!

Nicole sends a recommendation to what sounds like a fascinating book:

"This one is quite long, but transcribed dilligently from "The Crossing:The Glorious Tragedy of the First Man to Swim the English Channel", by Kathy Watson. It's a book about Matthew Webb, the first person to swim across the English Channel. Webb's life later became a heartbreaking attempt to remain in the public eye by swimming in other risky situations. He was foolishly attempting to swim under Niagra Falls when he died. As follows is exactly from the book:

'Richard W. Turner, a mason and bricklayer, was rowing his boat past a small cove on the niagra River a mile and a half below Lewiston, when he saw a man bathing. At least that's what he first thought. but something about the swimmer must have disturbed him, perhaps the stillness looked wrong or unnerving, because instead of rowing on he steered his boat nearer to take a closer look. Whoever it was wasn't swimming, the body was just moving with the water. Closer still, he reached out a hand, touched the man, and realized he was dead. The corpse wore red silk trunks, and there were cuts all over its back and bruises on the head and shoulders. On the top of the head was a ragged cut, about three inches long and so deep the skull was exposed. The body lay facedown, the arms and legs extended as if the man had died in the very act of making a swimming stroke. The flesh was bloated to double the usual size, and a thick white deposit covered the skin... As soon as he alerted the police in Lewiston, a small crowd quickly made its way to the riverbank where the poor bloated body lay.
'"It's not Webb," said one man decisively. "He had a blue anchor tattooed on the right arm, and I defy anyone to find it." Someone entered the water and lifted the right arm and roughly scraped away the white coating. There, in the swollen flesh, was stamped the blue anchor.'

"Apparently Webb's death occurred not from drowning but from the pressure of the water above him, which caused paralysation in his nerves and a sudden cease in resperatory action. The cranium wound was produced after death. Essentially, Webb was crushed to death by the weight of the water. A sad end for a man who only wished for fame, and unfortunately, could never regain his glory days as the first man to swim the Channel.

"A fascinating book on Webb's life if you care to read it:

August 3, 2003

Today's Overly-technical Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

One of the most tragic deaths which occurred during the Gettysburg Campaign must have been that of cavalryman James T. Bedell, who, essentially, was murdered. From the medical files of the Surgeon General's Office comes the testimony of Surgeon G.A. Otis:

"Private Bedell, aged 42, was captured on July 3, 1863, at Gettysburg, his horse being shot from under him. He was hurried to the rear with other prisoners; in the subsequent retreat he was unable to keep up with the column, and all efforts to goad him on being unavailing, a confederate lieutenant, in command of the provost guard, cut him down, and left him for dead by the roadside. He was brought in by one of our scouting parties and admitted to the Cavalry Corps Hospital. On July 25th, he was sufficiently rational to give the above account to Surgeon W.H. Rullison. He was in a very depressed state at this time. His pulse was weak and beat from forty to forty-five per minute. He was indisposed to mental exertion; but when roused and interested, was quite rational. He lingered until August 15, 1863, the tendency to stupor becoming greater and greater towards the close. The autopsy revealed a sabre cut six inches long, which had raised an osseous flap, adherent at its base, from the left parietal, and a fracture of the right parietal, with great splintering of the vitreous plate. The sabre had penetrated the dura mater on the left side, and on the right side the meninges were injured by the depressed inner table. The posterior lobes of both hemispheres of the brain were extensively disorganized."

Culled from: Killed In Action by Gregory A. Coco


And I'm sure you're just dying to see what a six-inch long sabre cut raising an osseous flap and fracturing the right parietal with great splintering of the vitreous plate looks like, huh? Well, I always aim to please:

(And yeah, I pretty much used that fact just for the excuse to show you the picture...)


Morbid Read Du Jour!

Julee has a recommendation for us all:

"I bought the Medicolegal Investigation of Death textbook a couple years ago. The $105 pricetag seems steep, but the science of forensic pathology is so cool.... and the pictures were to die for (nyuck nyuck). The only drawback was that all the pics are black and white. When it comes to man's inhumanity to man....full color is the only way to go. :-) I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to feed their curiosity with death... and have great nightmares for weeks!"

Um, that would be me! When I can afford it...

Here's a link for more information for most of us... or to buy it if you've morbid money to burn!


And as far as Absolutely Pointless Amusements are concerned, you can't find them much stranger than this little film clip:

August 4, 2003

Today's Soft Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Silt blown by the winds from the Gobi Desert piled up century after century into the high banks of soft clay in the northern Chinese province of Shensi (now Shaanxi). Eventually Chinese peasants began to dig out caves in the soft clay, and by the sixteenth century millions of them had taken up residence in the huge clay banks. Disaster struck on January 23, 1556, however, when a powerful earthquake rolled through Shensi, Honan, and Shansi (now Shanxi) provinces. Though few details are known, the violent shaking collapsed the high banks of soft clay and buried alive hundreds of thousands of Chinese peasants in their makeshift cave dwellings. While the death toll of 830,000 is a rough estimate, this disaster is believed to be among the worst in history.

Culled from: The Pessimist's Guide To History


Ooops, it was a bit premature of me to go asking for volunteers to help keep the calendar updated. I realized today that I have to update the calendar to a different version so that everyone can update public calendar events; currently, only administrators have that capability. So, for the time being, if you stumble across any gloriously morbid treasures appearing on TV in the near future, please send them to me, and I will perform the actual update of the calendar. I will work on upgrading the calendar soon. Sorry about that!


My Brush With Morbidity by Chris

Now, this one is TRULY shocking!

"I was walking home one night, and I heard a man screaming in the woods. So I went to see what I could find. I got into the middle of the woods where I finally heard some growling. I got closer and saw a werewolf fighting with a vampire who was being killed by a biker. I tell ya, that was a shock to see, and I nearly shit my pants. But what really got me is that a naked woman was dancing as they fought, and she was singing "Cocky" by Kid Rock. I was amazed to see this all. I thought maybe it was the LSD I was using. But sure enough, the werewolf saw me and started running towards me. Thank God I happened to have a gun with silver bullets in it. I shot him dead and the vampire was fighting the biker now. So I came up behind the vampire, and I happened to have a stake on me which I drove through the vampire's heart. Now the biker was having sex with the woman who happen to be a minor. I left after that. I forgot to get milk and I did finally get some. Boy what a night that was."

Cheeky bastard!

August 6, 2003

Today's Battering Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In Boston in 1873, a young bellringer named Thomas W. Piper experienced a sudden change of character, and began to leer at girls and make indecent suggestions. That December, he attacked a servant girl named Bridget Landregan, knocking her unconscious with a club. He dragged her into some bushes and stripped her, but when a passer-by came to investigate the noises, he ran away. Hours later he knocked unconscious a girl named Sullivan and raped her; she died later in the hospital. A prostitute named Mary Tynam was also battered unconscious and raped while she slept; she also died in the hospital. on Sunday May 23, 1875, in the Warren Avenue Baptist Church, Piper invited a five-year-old girl named Mabel Young to come to see the pigeons in the belfry, and battered her unconscious with a cricket bat. But her absence had been noted, and as a search party came up the stairs, Piper scrambled out of a window and dropped to the ground. However, he had been observed and was arrested. Meanwhile, the unconscious child had been taken to the hospital, where she died. Piper was found guilty of her murder and sentenced to hang. A few days before his execution he confessed to five sex murders, as well as several rapes of children. He also admitted that he usually felt the compulsion to commit rape after heavy drinking.

Culled from: The Mammoth Book Of The History Of Murder


Um. No comment on this one. I'm all out of wit today.


I'm ever so excited! I received my just-purchased DVD of the first season of "Strangers With Candy" today! If you're not aware of the show, it was one of the most hilarious and politically incorrect shows ever, and I love it very dearly with all my heart. If you're not familiar with it, here's a great Salon article that makes a wonderful introduction to what the show (which ran for three seasons on Comedy Central) was all about:

A splendid time is guaranteed!

Here's a link if you want to check out the DVD:


Morbid Link Du Jour!

In the mood for something absolutely horrible? Then why not Choose Death? Strong stomachs only, please!

Link submitted by Pinklefish


Morbid Read Du Jour!

Tiffany recommends what sounds like a compelling historic read:

"Narratives of a Voyage to Senegal"

In this true story, one of two survivors of a gruesome shipwreck (with attendant cannibalism,
insanity, etc.) presents his account in delightfully morbid detail (if you like that sort of thing), all presented in the charming, flowery language of English-translated-from-the-French several centuries previous to this one.

"The best part is actually a political and personal one, rather a shocker, and I won't give it away. you really must read this one. I've been simply *dying* to share this with someone who might truly appreciate it. I stumbled upon it whilst researching a trip to Senegal. Mine, fortunately or not, neither involved ships nor cannibalism."


It's a well-known fact that 665 out of 666 Undead prefer Shaddow Domain to all other shops.

Filled with Gothic Treasures and Morbid Delights, Shaddow Domain is sure to have something please Difficult Demons, Vacillating Vampires, and Slippery Spirits.

So, why not stop by?

Also of note - the Shaddow Domain Newsletter!

Be the first in your Coven to buy the Latest Horrible Thing, and enjoy the Morbid and Mirthful
Commentary of the Incomparable Jools!

Just one simple e-mail is all it takes:

August 7, 2003

Today's Devastating Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

At daybreak on August 10, 1945, less than 24 hours after the atomic bomb destroyed Nagasaki, Yosuke Yamahata began to photograph the devastation. As he travelled across the town on foot, crossing through the area that had been directly underneath the fireball which burned at a temperature of 3000 to 4000 degrees fahrenheit, he made notes of the various scenes of devastation that he saw:

"At one point I found myself walking on something soft and spongy. In the light of the crescent moon I realized to my disgust that I was standing on the corpse of a horse. There were what looked like coverless bomb shelters everywhere in front of me. As I tried to avoid one of the openings, using the light of the moon and the waning fires to see, some black creature rose suddenly from the hole and clung to my leg. I yelled in surprised, and a moan of 'Help Me!' came from the creature - a bomb victim - holding on to me."

(Part One of Three)

Culled from: Nagasaki Journey: The Photographs of Yosuke Yamahata, August 10, 1945


"Nagasaki Journey" is a great book, full of graphic photographs which emphasize the horror that befell Nagasaki on that grey August day. I will be featuring the book as a 'Morbid Read Of The Month' soon, and will post some of the horrifying pictures for those of you who are interested. Stay tuned!


Gore Du Jour!

Our friend Alf offers up something truly horrific from his website (

Both The Bangkok Daily News and the Thai Rhat (our great national dailies) covered the same terrible fire with differing darkroom techniques. The former pulled their dear old D-76 stained Morton out of his bed and forced him to employ his hatch-machine on the still wet prints ...

while the latter allowed the color sheets to go directly from the stop bath to the printer's wheel ...

But both papers slapped themselves on their reader's porches easily in time for the breakfast read.


Abandoned Places Site Du Jour!

For those of you who adore abandoned buildings as much as I do, here is an absolutely beautiful site of abandoned structures in Italy. A 17th century church flooded by several feet of spring water... A 13th century village submerged when a dam was constructed that is revealed every 10 years when the dam is drained for maintenance... Another 13th century village abandoned after an earthquake in 1963... Wow! If only we had structures like these around here, I'd be in absolute bliss...


"My Brush With Morbidity" by Cori

"In 1986 I was 15 years old and my mother and aunt owned a car detailing company. After school I would walk to their shop and help out if I was needed. One day close to summer I walked up to the shop to find my Mother, Aunt, sister and two men I didn't know, all standing around a pickup truck in front of the shop. My mom asked me,"Are ya up to helping today?" I said yes, why? I knew something was up. She told me that a police friend of theirs had recommended them to clean a vehicle that they had gotten in the night before. The police could find no other company in the area to do the job. A man had gone to his estranged wife's church and found her leaving from services with their young son and her new boyfriend. He shot the boyfriend and fled. Thinking he had killed the guy he parked in front of a house near his wife's home and was later approached by an officer who had recieved a call for a suspicious vehicle. As the officer approached the truck the man shot himself in the head with a shotgun. We had the unpleasant task of cleaning up. When they opened the door it became apparent that the police only removed the body and nothing else. Even the murder weapon itself was absent-mindedly left in the truck along with two other shotguns behind the seat. During the cleaning process we found the deceased man's ballcap in the floorboard with skull plate still in it along with hair and skin. We found his EAR in the sun visor! We had to remove the bench seat to spray out the interior with a hose. When we were finished and had replaced the carpeting, headliner, upholstery and door panels you never would have known it had been the scene of such a morbid act (except for the smell). That's something that not even time can take away. Oddly enough I didn't get grossed out by any of this and even showed off my blood spattered shoes the next day at school."

Bravo, Cori! You make me proud. :-)

August 8, 2003

Today's Painful Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

At daybreak on August 10, 1945, less than 24 hours after the atomic bomb destroyed Nagasaki, Yosuke Yamahata began to photograph the devastation. As he travelled across the town on foot, crossing through the area that had been directly underneath the fireball which burned at a temperature of 3000 to 4000 degrees fahrenheit, he made notes of the various scenes of devastation that he saw:

"We saw a person running blindly in what he must have believed was a safe direction, but he was running on feet of bone - shock and fear prevented him from realizing that the flesh of his heels was gone. When a rescue team pointed out his grave injury, the man immediately lost consciousness and collapsed. We couldn't bear to watch this event straight on - it was like something in a nightmare."

(Part Two of Three)

Culled from: Nagasaki Journey: The Photographs of Yosuke Yamahata, August 10, 1945


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

My good friend Brian sends a delightful stick figure illustration of how NOT to Bungee Jump:


Dahmerism Du Jour!

I hear that Dahmer's apartment is available for rent...

...It comes with a roommate...

...some assembly required.

<cymbal crash!>

August 10, 2003

Today's Really Stupid Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Eighty-seven coalminers, the youngest being 9-years old, died January 7, 1892 in a mine explosion in Krebs, Oklahoma. The natural gas explosion in mine #11 was triggered by an inexperienced worker new to the job at the Osage Coal and Mining Co. Most of the victims of the explosion were burned and buried alive. The fatalities would have been less had the blacks trying to help rescue white survivors not been driven away with guns by mine personnel.

Culled from: (source unspecified)
Generously submitted by: Christine


Okay, I know I had said I would do another Nagasaki fact, but for some reason when I read it tonight, it just didn't seem all that morbid to me, so I went for this one instead, since it sums up the utter stupidity of racism in such a nice tidy package.


Mildly Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Submitted by Dave:

A taxi passenger tapped the driver on the shoulder to ask him a question. The driver screamed, lost control of the car, nearly hit a bus, went up on the footpath, and stopped centimeters from a shop window. For a second everything went quiet in the cab, then the driver said , "Look mate, don't ever do that again. You scared the crap out of me!" The passenger apologized and said he didn't realize that a little tap could scare him so much. The driver replied , "Sorry, it's not really your fault. Today is my first day as a cab driver - I've been driving a hearse for the last 25 years!"


The Best Dolls In The Universe

Autopsy Zombie Staple Babies

They still take my breath away with their loveliness every time. I want one so very badly. And my birthday is coming up next month! <hint, hint>

And, wouldn't you know it? Scabs is currently up for grabs on Ebay:

Thanks to Jess for a timely reminder.

August 11, 2003

Today's Foreboding Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

To appreciate what sort of an instrument the heading axe is, the specimen displayed in the Tower of London merits close study. No replica, it is reportedly the one used to decapitate Simon, Lord Lovat, in 1747, he being the last man to be executed by the axe in England. The instrument is about 36" long and weights 7 lb. 15 oz. The rough, unpolished blade is 16 1/2" long, its cutting edge being 10 1/2" in length. As crude and brutal in action as it is in appearance, its absence of precision, while not deliberate, was not considered important. It was, after all, a weapon of punishment, not mercy, epitomising the slogan: 'Behave or be beheaded!'.

Culled from: The Book of Execution by Geoffrey Abbott


And on this page you can see the wonderful Tower of London axe in all its glory:


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Joe Nobody submits a smattering of Dead Baby Jokes. Even if you've heard them before, you'll chuckle again - you know it!

How do you get 1000 babies in a phone booth?
A blender!
How do you get them out?
A straw!

What spins around and taps on glass?
A baby in a microwave!

What's worse than 500 dead babies in a dumpster?
A live one eating it's way out!

What do you do if your baby is spitting at you?
Turn down the grill!

Thanks, Joe!

August 12, 2003

Today's Extreme Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

St Simeon Stylites was an early Christian Syrian ascetic who carried his mortification of the flesh to ridiculous lengths. First he stayed in his cell in the Syrian monastery near Antioch for nine years. Then he spent the next thirty years on top of the seventy-two-foot pillar from which he preached to the crowds who came to benefit from his holiness. It seems that St Simeon was always on the lookout for new ways to ensure his status in the next life. He bound a rope so tightly around his body that it became embedded in the flesh which was soon deeply ulcerated. Inevitably the resulting sores attracted flies and he was regularly maggoty. For a year he stood on one leg and and had an assistant who, when the 'worms' dropped off, carefully put them back in the sores so that the saint could say to them, 'Eat what God has given you.'

Culled from: Medical Curiosities by Robert M. Youngson


Now, that's what I call a religious extremist! They just don't make them like they used to...

Michael sends a couple of links:
"A couple immediate other searches yield this further explanation. Love the part where a mob ambushed the body being taken elsewhere and he got
his teeth ripped out for a relic."

"And here appears to be a letter he wrote"



Morbid Read Du Jour!

Jess has a Fiction recommendation for us:

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

"... sad but also VERY disturbing"

Apparently so, judging from Amazon's description:

"On her way home from school on a snowy December day in 1973, 14-year-old Susie Salmon ('like the fish') is lured into a makeshift underground den in a cornfield and brutally raped and murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer--the man she knew as her neighbor, Mr. Harvey.
Alice Sebold's haunting and heartbreaking debut novel, The Lovely Bones, unfolds from heaven, where 'life is a perpetual yesterday' and where Susie narrates and keeps watch over her grieving family and friends, as well as her brazen killer and the sad detective working on her case... 'The Lovely Bones' works as an odd yet affecting coming-of-age story. Susie struggles to accept her death while still clinging to the lost world of the living, following her family's dramas over the years like an episode of My So-Called Afterlife. Her family disintegrates in their grief: her father becomes determined to find her killer, her mother withdraws, her little brother Buckley attempts to make sense of the new hole in his family, and her younger sister Lindsey moves through the milestone events of her teenage and young adult years with Susie riding spiritual shotgun. Random acts and missed opportunities run throughout the book--Susie recalls her sole kiss with a boy on Earth as 'like an accident--a beautiful gasoline rainbow.'"


Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

If you have $95.00 to spare, why not waste it on...

Buildings of Disaster: Miniature Replicas.

Yes, you too can own bonded nickel miniature versions of the post-9/11 Pentagon, the Unabomber's Shack, the tunnel where Di met her untimely end, the Oklahoma bombing disaster, the Waco burning, and more!

Too bad they're so damned expensive... grumble...

August 13, 2003

Today's Religious Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

During the early years of the Roman Catholic Church, a religion which came to be called 'Catharism' flourished on the fringes of the late Roman Empire. This religion taught that there were two Gods. The 'good' God was very far away, little concerned with humans. The other God - the God of the Jews and Christians - was the creator of the physical world, and since that included everything bad, he must himself be disposed to evil. Every human life, the gift of this God, was worthless. It followed that the *truly* religious should not attempt to prolong life, but should seek death by refusing all meat and drink. Certainly they should not create new life by sexual activity. Rather than giving up all nourishment, these men (and some women), known as Cathars or Aligensians in southwest France, dedicated themselves to God, swore never to lie or bear false witness, never to have sex, and to eat only vegetables and fish. For more than 50 years, the Church tolerated Catharism. However, by the turn of the century the Chuch considered itself threatened by these essentially "heretical" beliefs. After a legate was murdered while returning from an unsuccessful attempt to convert the heretics, Pope Innocent III declared a crusade against the Aligensians. The crusaders marched on the city of Béziers, and, when hundreds crowded into a cathedral for sanctuary, the crusaders set it on fire. When somebody pointed out to the Abbot of Clairvaux, one of the papal legates, that many of those trapped in the flames were Catholics, he replied: 'Let them all die! God will recognize his own."

Culled from: The History Of Torture by Brian Innes


Yeah, it's long... but I found it quite interesting to learn where the origin of "Kill 'em all! Let God sort 'em out!" came from... and you gotta love those Cathars! Talk about self-loathing! Actually... hmmmmm... they kinda remind me of my vegetarian self, now that I think about it... well, except for the "God" stuff... and I found a ... erm... way around the celibacy thing... but I still have no chance of bringing children into this horrid world. I think that I shall be known henceforth as the Catharesque Comtesse DeSpair. Catchy, isn't it?

Leslie sends a comment:
"Just a note to say that the group in France persecuted for their Catharist belief system was the Albigensians. Sorry to nit-pick, but the Crusades are quite near and dear to my heart."

August 18, 2003

Today's Watery Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In 1574 the people of the Netherlands, who were in revolt against their Spanish overlords, resisted valiantly as Spanish armies laid siege to the city of Leiden. Citizens of the fortified city were determined to hold out to the last man as Spanish troops settled in lowland areas. Outnumbered, the Dutch could not break the invasion, and with supplies cut off by the Spanish, famine soon became a serious problem. Hundreds died of hunger, while people began eating anything that might possibly sustain life: grass, leather, roots, and offal. In these dire straits, the Dutch could do little more than hope. But they knew how susceptible their kingdom was to flooding, and the fierce storm that struck the area on October 1 and 2 was probably looked upon as a godsend. Indeed, the sea did come to their rescue, breaking through dikes several miles from the encamped Spanish army. Some 20,000 unsuspecting Spaniards drowned as a result, and the siege was broken.

Culled from: The Pessimist's Guide To History


I haven't been sending out facts for the last few days, primarily because I didn't want to receive a thousand bounced e-mails due to the northeastern power outage, but also because I can be a lazy Comtesse at times... but I couldn't possibly disappoint on a Monday morning!


Catharism, Part Two

You may recall the last MFDJ was about the Roman Catholic Church's crusade against the Cathars. Well, I received some excellent additional information about this subject (which I am woefully undereducated on), and thought I'd share. For those who are not interested, you can stop reading the MFDJ right now. For the rest of you, I present Xavier's e-mail in all its glory (all of the words from here on out are his, not mine):

I am writing to you to elaborate on your Fact du Jour of August 13, about the Cathars. First a correction on the linguistic front: it is "Albigensians", not "Aligensians". Second, I would like to add some information because the facts about the Cathars that "The History Of Torture" describes appear quite distorted. I wonder where they got their information from, or whether they have a secret agenda (this for the conspiracy buffs :-) ). Thirdly, more info on the quote about killing and sorting out. All this information comes from Stephen O'Shea's book "The Perfect Heresy: The Revolutionary Life and Death of the Medieval Cathars", which I consider a good and well researched source of information. I hoped to find more about the Cathar faith in it; in the end, there is little more than the second series of passages I quote below. The book is more about the history of the Albigensian crusades, and it is also a very nice collection of atrocities, for the morbidly inclined (wink, wink).

Anyway, to start, an appetizer:
(pp. 6-7)
[...] "The Albigensian Crusade, which lasted from 1209 to 1229, was launched by the most powerful pope of the Middle Ages, Innocent III, and initially prosecuted by a gifted warrior, Simon de Montfort, under the approving eye of Arnold Amaury. A mail-fisted response to the questions posed by a popular heresy, the crusade set baleful precedents for Christendom's approach to dissidence by laying waste to Languedoc, the great arc of land stretching from the Pyrenees to Provence and including such cities as Toulouse, Albi, Carcassonne, Narbonne, Béziers, and Montpellier.
The crusade's two decades of salutary slaughter then gave way to fifteen years of fitful revolt and repression, which culminated in the siege of Montségur in 1244. A lonely fortress atop a needle of rock, Montségur eventually surrendered, and more than 200 of its defenders, the leaders of the embattled Cathar faith, were herded into a snowy clearing to be burned alive. By then the Inquisition, guided since its founding in 1233 by the steely intellects of the Dominican order, had developed the techniques that would torment Catholic Europe and Latin America for centuries to come and, in the process, provide the model for latter-day totalitarian control of the individual conscience. By the middle of the fourteenth century, the Inquisition had razed any residual trace of the Albigensian heresy from the landscape of Christendom, and the Cathars of Languedoc had vanished. The stations of their calvary - the mass burnings, blindings, and hangings, the catapulting of body parts over castle walls, the rapine, the looting, the chanting of monks behind battering rams, the secret trials, the exhuming of corpses, the creakings of the rack - match our phantasmagoria of the medieval only too well."

Now what was it all about? What was so terrible about Catharism? Judge for yourself.

(pp. 10-12)
[...] "The heresy hinged upon the question of Good and Evil. Not that one side in the struggle over Languedoc was good and the other bad, even if propagandists for both sides claimed that such was the case. Rather, the fundamental disagreement between Catholic orthodoxy and Cathar heterodoxy, their irreducible bone of contention, concerned the role and power of Evil in life.
For the Cathars, the world was not the handiwork of a good god. It was wholly the creation of a force of darkness, immanent in all things. Matter was corrupt, therefore irrelevant to salvation. Little if any attempt had to be paid to the elaborate system set up to bully people into obeying the man with the sharpest sword, the fattest wallet, or the biggest stick of incense. Worldly authority was a fraud, and worldly authority based on some divine sanction, such as the Church claimed, was outright hypocrisy.
The god deserving of Cathar worship was a god of light, who ruled the invisible, the ethereal, the spiritual domain; this god, unconcerned with the material, simple didn't care if you got into bed before getting married, had a Jew or Muslim for a friend, treated men and women as equals, or did anything else contrary to the teachings of the medieval Church. It was up to the individual (man or woman) to decide whether he or she was willing to renounce the material for a life of self-denial. If not, one would keep returning to this world - that is, be reincarnated - until ready to embrace a life sufficiently spotless to allow accession, at death, to the same blissful state one had experienced as an angel prior to having been tempted out of heaven at the beginning of time. To be saved, then, meant becoming a saint. To be damned was to live, again and again, on this corrupt Earth. Hell was here, not in some horrific afterlife dreamed up by Rome to scare people out of their wits. To believe in what is called the Two Principles of creation (Evil in the visible, Good in the invisible) is to be a dualist, an adherent to a notion that has been shared by other creeds in the long course of humanity's grappling with the unknowable. Christian Cathar dualism, however, posited a meeting place between Good and Evil: within the breast of every human being. There, our wavering divine spark, the remnant of our earlier, angelic state, waited patiently to be freed from the cycle of reincarnations."

Note the similarities with some of the most important ideas of the New Testament and also with Buddhism (a major religion that has not been subverted and does not have seas of blood on its hands, as far as I know).
I have some reservations about certain parts of the Cathar faith, but to me it sure sounds a lot more positive and in tune with the teachings of Jesus Christ than the stuff Rome proclaimed at the time. Cathar priests lived sober lives, served their communities, and did not amass fortunes and build gold-plated churches. So, naturally, Catharism became very popular in the region and certainly posed a grave threat to Rome. So, how could it possibly not be persecuted? Isn't it standard practice, after all, whether we're talking about religion, politics, economics or any field, to wipe out the competition, especially when they have a superior product to sell?

The book also tells the story of the quote in a different way:

(pp. 84-87)
[First this: some young defenders of Béziers had, overly confident of themselves, opened the city gates and crossed the bridge to make a foray against the newly arrived besiegers. The latter, however, did not arrive tired and worn out, but fresh and ready to fight, so things turned out differently than expected. The defenders had to beat a fighting retreat and with them, the "bad guys" entered the city without there having been any siege at all.]

"In all probability, it was at this moment that the famous order was - or was not - given. Professional opinion is divided on whether Arnold Amaury actually said, in the vernacular, 'Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius' (Kill them all. God will know his own). That lapidary phrase was most likely the invention of a pro-crusade chronicler writing thirty years after the fact. What is certain is that there is no record of anyone, certainly not Arnold Amaury, head of the Cistercian order and the loftiest representative of the vicar of Christ, trying to halt or even hinder the butchery that was about to begin. Not even Count Raymond, who is not thought to have taken part in the sack of the city, is mentioned by the chroniclers as attempting to discourage the crusader bloodlust.
Lord and pilgrim, monk and groom - all now rushed into Béziers. Catholic priests within the city put on vestments for a mass of the dead. Church bells tolled. At the cathedral in which the canons were holding a vigil for the Catholic faithful, the soldiery from the north charged the congregation, broad swords slashing and stabbing until no one was left standing. The bishop's auxiliaries were all slain.
Everyone in the town, from graybeard Cathar Perfect to newborn Catholic baby, was put to death in the space of a morning. In the days before gunpowder, to kill that many people in so short a time required a savage single-mindedness that beggars the imagination. To the crusaders bitter about the lost booty of affluent Béziers, there was consolation to be had in knowing that they had done God's work so efficiently. Personal salvation had been ensured by this stunning victory. In his letter to Innocent, Arnold marveled at their success. 'Nearly twenty thousand of the citizens were put to the sword, regardless of age and sex,' he wrote. 'The workings of divine vengeance have been wondrous.'A threshold had been crossed in the ordering of men's minds."

Scholarly consensus estimates 15-20,000 victims. And the crusaders' fury was caused by the soldiery plundering the riches and the town going up in flames. Traditionally, "the spoils of war were always apportioned by the leaders of an army, not by its followers. In the view of the barons of the crusade, the ribauds and mercenaries [who crossed the bridge and were in Béziers first] were taking what rightly belonged to the conquering nobility."

Don't you just love our superior Western civilization?

August 19, 2003

Today's Amus(ement)ing Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A man was killed in Langley, Washington Saturday when his long hair got caught in the amusement park ride he owned, pulling him up as high as 40 feet before he fell, back-first, onto a fence. Doug McKay, 40, was the co-owner of Paradise Amusements, based in Post Falls, Idaho. He was spraying lubricant on the tracks of the Super Loop 2, a roller coaster-type ride at the Island County Fair on Whidbey Island. The ride was in progress at the time, and McKay's hair got caught on a car full of fairgoers, said sheriff's spokeswoman Jan Smith. He was pulled between 25 and 40 feet into the air. "It basically scalped him, and he fell and landed on the fence," Smith said. Hundreds of people witnessed the accident and grief counselors were on hand. It was unclear whether anyone on the ride might have tried to reach McKay. The fair continued after the incident.

Culled from: The Associated Press
Generously donated by: Kathleen


I always knew long hair would come to no good! As the immortal Morrissey once said, "Long hair is an unpardonable offense which should be punishable by death." Er, no offense to my hirsute list members, of course. ;-)

And with this horrid fact, it's time to reflect on one of my favorite time-waster websites - Amusement Ride Accident Reports and News:

Morbid entertainment for hours!

Oh, and by the way - Beware The Inverted Coasters!

"At Universal Studios Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, Florida, a man's prosthetic leg fell off while he was riding the Dueling Dragons inverted roller coaster. Park officials believe that the leg fell into a pond underneath the coaster and sent dive teams to search for it."

I hope they found it...

August 23, 2003

I'm feeling quite annoyed as I type this because I am having to redo this entire fact thanks to a power outage that ripped it from my grasp before I can save it... and you know that they're never as good the second time around. I've also been hampered with PC issues the last couple of days, so even getting to this point has been a struggle! Anyway, through gritted teeth allow me to present...

Today's Elevating Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

At about 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 16, 2003, Dr. Hitoshi Nikaidoh, 35, was stepping into a second-floor elevator at Christus St. Joseph Hospital in Houston when the doors suddenly closed, pinning his shoulders. His head was severed when the elevator car moved upward. A female hospital employee witnessed the accident and spent about 20 minutes trapped inside the malfunctioning elevator until firefighters were able to rescue her. The traumatized employee was taken to the hospital's emergency room for treatment of shock, but was released later that day. Elevators and escalators kill about 30 and injure about 17,100 people each year in the United States.

Culled from: The Associated Press
Generously donated by: ~JR~


You know, every time I step into an elevator I always worry that it will suddenly rise or fall and take my head with it. I just never thought I'd actually receive confirmation that it CAN happen! Now, I'll be doubly likely to take the stairs... although, I don't really know why I would worry since nothing this exciting will ever happen to me, anyway.

On another line of thinking... isn't this one of the most cinematic of morbid facts? It would make a brilliant horror movie scene - and I'm thinking particularly of something like Final Destination or The Omen. Can't you just see the Priest getting on the elevator, and the doors close, pinning him there as he struggles to get away. Then, you see the elevator slowly rising as he begins to scream... and the final shot is of his head rolling about in the elevator car as the poor passenger screams hysterically.

I wonder... does anyone know if the head was in the car with her, or whether it fell down the shaft? (My guess is the latter...)


Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Now that we've decided that it is perfectly legal to own a human skull (as long as you can prove where you got it from), why not go shopping for one? Here's a site that has real and replica human skulls and various other bones, as well as other osteological delights! Of course, you'll have to dig a bit deep into that pocket book for the truly stellar specimens.


Garretom Updates!

Yes, I've actually started posting a few updates to the Garretdom page again. This is the part of the Asylum dedicated to morbid old newspaper clippings. Here are the latest additions:

Suicide In A Bank

Head Cut Almost In Half

Crushed To A Shapeless Mass

Attempted To Cremate Himself

And why not take a look at the Infernal Machine on Alf's site?

August 25, 2003

Today's Educational Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

How To Make A Shrunken Head, Jivaro Indian Style:
The head of the victim is cut off, and later, in the seclusion of his hut, the victor prepares it into a lasting war trophy, attaching to it the significance which the North American attached to scalps. The skin is opened up from the base of the neck to the crown, and the skull is removed entire, leaving only the soft, pliant skin. The skin is now dipped into a vegetable extract which dyes it a blue-black and probably has some action preservative, and then the cut skin is sewed up along the neck to restore the head to its original form. The cavity is filled with hot sand or pebbles, after which the head is constantly turned and moved, so that the drying goes on uniformly. When the sand has cooled, hot sand takes its place, and this process may last for several days before the head is completely cured. Shrinking to an unbelievable degree takes place, but it is so regulated that the features retain their individuality to a great extent, and the finished head is about the size of a man¹s fist. The lips have been sewed shut with a series of long cotton cords, the exact pattern of this stitching varying with the locality and seeming to have some significance. Within a short time after the preparation of a head, generally within a month, the victor celebrates the event by a ceremonial dance at which there is an orgy of wild drinking. After this dance it may be possible to buy the head from the Jivaro, if his interest can be aroused in an object whose value he understands and appreciates, such as the musket.

Culled from: National Geographic, October 1921, by way of The History of the Shuar
Link generously submitted by: Hemophyllis


If you're intrigued by shrunken heads, make sure to check out the great photo gallery at the History of the Shuar site as well:


Thank you, everyone, for all the feedback regarding the last MFDJ regarding the elevator accident. Based on the information I've received, it seems that the dear departed doctor was talking to a nurse who was inside the elevator. He stood outside the elevator, with his head sticking inside as he spoke to her. Suddenly, the doors closed on his shoulders, locking him in place, and the elevator car moved upwards, resulting in a *portion* of the head falling into the car with the traumatized nurse. Another portion of the head may have been blocking the elevator's progress... but I'm not positive of this detail. In any event, the body then fell down the elevator shaft. And now the nurse has to deal not only with having witnessed a messy death of an acquaintance, but maybe having survivor's guilt as well since he was talking to her when it happened. I hope the hospital gets her some therapy for a few years!

Oh, and it seems my cinematic fantasy was not as original as I'd hoped. The "elevator death" scene has been used on many occasions, all in films I never saw, of course! Here's the list I have so far:

Final Destination II
Omen II
Resident Evil
Smallville episode (but only the hands are ripped off)

Who would have guessed?


Morbid Link Du Jour!

Here's a magnificent site on ghosts, hauntings, and all that good creepy stuff that's especially fascinating for those of you living in the Midwest. A definite must-surf!

History & Hauntings Co.

Thanks to PL for the link!

August 26, 2003

Today's Druish Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In common with many cultures of the time, the Celts used ritual sacrifice to honor their many gods. One of the more colorful of their methods was to commit humans to the flames in a giant wicker cage in the form of a god. Dozens of young people might be crammed into such a colossus before a spark ignited the pyre. In attendance were the Druids, the highly organized priest and soothsayer network which inspired the Celts in France, Britain and Ireland at the time.

Culled from: History Of Punishment & Torture by Karen Farrington


Well, color me naïve! Here I thought the Celts were all about pretty crosses and knots. Little did I know they were capable of such CLASSIC morbidity! I'm suddenly a HUGE fan! ;-)

Marcus is in the know:
"Even better...
To the Celts the human head represented a physical manifestation of that centre of life, the essence of being which Christians know as the soul. The head was also a prized trophy in battle - The heads of vanquished enemies were frequently severed and preserved.

"'When their enemies fall, they cut off their heads and fasten them about the necks of their horses...and carry them off as booty, singing a paean over them and striking up a song of victory, and these first fruits of battle they fasten by nails upon their houses...The heads of their most distinguished enemies they embalm in cedar oil and carefully preserve in a chest, and these they exhibit to strangers, gravely maintaining that in exchange for this head someone among their ancestors, or the speaker himself, refused the offer of a great sum of money. And some men among them, we are told, boast that they have not accepted an equal weight of gold for the head they show...'

"Diordus Sciculus writing in the 1st Century AD"

Elizabeth has even more info to share!

"The celts also stuck their enemies' heads on staves and kept their enemies' heads around the house as trophies. and indulged in cannibalism...

The cult of the head
One aspect of early Celtic religion which tends to be either ignored or over-emphasised by later writers is their reverence for the human head. To the Celts the human head represented a physical manifestation of that centre of life, the essence of being which Christians know as the soul.

The head was also a prized trophy in battle
The heads of vanquished enemies were frequently severed and preserved. "When their enemies fall, they cut off their heads and fasten them about the necks of their horses...and carry them off as booty, singing a paean over them and striking up a song of victory, and these first fruits of battle they fasten by nails upon their houses... The heads of their most distinguished enemies they embalm in cedar oil and carefully preserve in a chest, and these they exhibit to strangers, gravely maintaining that in exchange for this head someone among their ancestors, or the speaker himself, refused the offer of a great sum of money. And some men among them, we are told, boast that they have not accepted an equal weight of gold for the head they show..." Diordus Sciculus writing in the 1st Century AD The condition and positioning of human skulls discovered during excavations at Celtic earthworks, including Stanwick and Bredon Hill, suggests that heads had been displayed either on the gates or on poles beside the gates of the hillforts Human heads featured prominently on Celtic decorative art, coinage, sculpture, etc. The 'Green Man' still to be seen on sale is one example that springs to mind." but much more than this it was a potent symbol of the total religious attitudes of the Celtic peoples. The head stood for divinity. It was the supreme conveyer of hospitality, the distributor of the divine feast. It had powers of prophecy, healing, fertility, speech, independent movement and incorruptible life. If was regarded as the essence of being, the seat of the soul, the symbol of evil-averting divine power. Its meaning for the early Celtic peoples is clear throughout their history - it can truly be said to contain the essence of their religious philosophy and to be the most distinctive and powerful of all their cults." - Ann Ross, "Head", Man, Myth & Magic, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Supernatural



Morbid Action Alert!!

Okay, someone out there must be both rich and living in Minnesota, right? So, why not rescue a prison that is being sold before they carry out their nefarious plan to "gut the cells"? The ultimate tragedy!!!

Special thanks to Mandy for the heads-up.


Haunted Link?

I guess the History & Hauntings Co. link from yesterday's newsletter wasn't working earlier today... but try it now. It seems to be functional again... er, as I type this, anyway...


Morbid Trinkets Du Jour!

For those of you into Creepy Dolls (and, really, who isn't?), here's another site to check out... although I must admit that I find these dolls much less appealing than, say, Autopsy Staple Zombie Babies, because they look too much like real babies! Utterly horrifying!!

Thanks to John for the link.

August 27, 2003

Today's Très Tragic Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A Cambodian teenager died of suffocation after a fish he caught jumped out of his hands and lodged in his throat. Lim Vanthan, 17, and his family were planting rice during the weekend of August 16-17, 2003 near their home on the outskirts of the impoverished Southeast Asian nation's capital, when they decided to go for a swim. During his dip, Lim Vanthan caught a prized eight-inch fish, called kantrob in Cambodian, with his hands. But the high school student's excitement was short-lived when his catch squirmed out of his hands and jumped into his mouth, where it became stuck because of barbs running down its back. He died of suffocation before he could receive treatment at a local clinic, the newspapers said. "This is an accident, but it shows we must all be careful," concluded the Rasmei Kampuchea (Light of Cambodia) newspaper. "Accidents can happen at any time."

Culled from: Reuters
Generously submitted by: Michael


And it also shows what happens when you don't give fellow animals the respect they deserve. It's just too bad the fish couldn't hop out after the kid died and swim off... (Yes, I'm callous... but for the left!)


Thank you to everyone who wrote to recommend the movie "The Wicker Man" to me after the Celtic sacrifice fact yesterday. Apparently, it's a film that reveals the sacrificial realities of the Celts in detail. The ironic thing is that a friend of mine had already loaned that DVD to me weeks ago, and I just haven't gotten around to watching it yet. Guess I'd better go and pop it in the DVD player sometime this week!

You can read more about it at Amazon.Com, if you'd like:


Morbid Link Du Jour!

This is, quite simply, the most beautiful presentation of cemetery photographs that I have ever seen. The photographs themselves are stunning in their invocation of the changing seasons amid the peaceful marble landscape, but the addition of hauntingly atmospheric music (definitely turn your speakers up for this one) and moving objects and lighting effects in many of the pictures adds an otherworldly haunted quality to them like nothing I've ever seen. Jonathan Clark is a genius - and you can buy his prints too! (Though they're a bit on the expensive side for me.) More than anything, this site makes me want to buy a high quality camera and start taking real (ie. non-digital) photographs again!

Special thanks to Jeff for the link.

August 31, 2003

Today's Long, And Fascinating, Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A recording of a man's desperate 999 call for help as he clung to a cliff edge by his fingertips was played at an inquest on January 24, 2003. The family of David Tuckett listened in tears to his final words and sobs on his mobile phone seconds before he plunged 100-feet to his death. Amateur photographer David, 37, had cycled to the cliffside beauty spot to take pictures of the sea for his pregnant girlfriend Sara. However, he tripped and fell six-feet over the edge on to a crumbling rock ledge. Dangling by one hand, he made an emergency call with the other and was put through to coastguard Ed Tucker. The panic in his voice was evident.

DAVID: Oh s***, oh f***.

ED: Where are you?

DAVID: Oh f***. I was taking pictures for my girlfriend and I've fallen. I'm holding on by my fingernails.

ED: Is your girlfriend there?

DAVID: No, she's in London today. She lives there.

ED: Are you secure?

DAVID: No, no, I'm not secure at all.

ED: What's your name?

DAVID: It's David, Tuckett, with E-T-T on the end. Oh f***, f***, f***.

ED: So where are you, how far down?

DAVID: About six feet, I can't move. I'm on loose rock and holding on to mud and it's crumbling away.

ED: Hang on. Someone is coming. (To another person): He's in immediate danger. We need a helicopter.

DAVID: Sorry?

ED: I was talking to my boss to tell them to get help for you.

DAVID (sobbing): Oh f***, oh s***.

ED: Someone's coming. What is your mobile number? I'll call you back.

DAVID: (sobbing): I don't know, I don't know. I told it to the 999 lady.

ED: That's okay, I'll get it from her.

DAVID: Oh s***. OTHER OPERATOR (line goes dead): Has he gone?

ED: Yes, he's gone.

An RAF Sea King helicopter was scrambled to the scene at Dunraven Bay in Southerndown, South Wales. Jobless David's body was found with multiple injuries on a ledge half way down the 200-foot cliff.

Culled from: Mirror.Co.UK
Generously submitted by: Michael


I don't know about you, but I think if I were the guy, I would have called, told them where I was and what my plight was, then said, "I'm tossing the cell phone now so I can use two hands..." See why it's safer to use those headsets with your cell phone?


Morbid Tattoo Du Jour!

Now, here's a woman with sense AND style! If you want to make sure that no one tries to resuscitate you against your wishes, why not put a tattoo on your chest? And the tattoo's simple, but pretty cool-looking too!

Thanks to Wildcat for the link.


Morbid Read Du Jour!

The Bean has a non-fiction recommendation for us:

"Not exactly a new book but one of my top five (if not No.1). David Foster Wallace's 'Infinite Jest' is a fantastic tale of terrorism in the new age where the title refers to a video so addictive that people who watch it are unable to tear themselves away and eventually die. It also includes a fantastic scene where the father of the major protagonist bakes his own head in a microwave. It weighs in at over a thousand pages but I defy anyone not to consider this the best book they have ever read."

Wow - that's quite a claim, Bean! For those of you interested, here's an Amazon.Com link to the book: