Sunday, May 31, 2009


These dolls are thought to be part of a 'Misemono' side show. Misemono literally means "shows" or "exhibits" and were an inalienable part of the Japanese urban landscape during the edo period. Many of the shows were briefly put on and were characterized by their crudeness. The term misemono dates from the Edo period, although plausible forerunners of the performances appear already in the late medieval period. Among the likely antecedents of Edo period shows were benefit performances undertaken to raise funds for shines or temples. The shows were unhampered by attempts to conform to a traditional artists type and thus provide a valuable index to evolving popular taste.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, sideshow carnivals known as misemono were a popular form of entertainment for the sophisticated residents of Edo (present-day Tokyo). The sideshows featured a myriad of educational and entertaining attractions designed to evoke a sense of wonder and satisfy a deep curiosity for the mysteries of life. One popular attraction was the pregnant doll. Although it is commonly believed that these dolls were created primarily to teach midwives how to deliver babies, evidence suggests they were also used for entertainment purposes. Records from 1864 describe a popular show in Tokyo’s Asakusa entertainment district that educated audiences about the human body. The show featured a pregnant doll whose abdomen could be opened to reveal fetal models depicting the various stages of prenatal development.

Edward Hull~ Watercolourist

Edward Hull (1823 – 1906), a well-known illustrator and watercolour painter, exhibited at the Royal Academy in London.
Born in Keysoe in Bedfordshire, England, the second son of a farmer, he painted many watercolours but was mainly known as a book illustrator. He was employed for many years up to 1861 by The Illustrated Times the best-known publication in London, and was an illustrator for several books such as Stratford on Avon by Sidney Lee (published around 1890) and The Laureate's Country (a book on Alfred Tennyson) by Alfred J. Church, published around the same time.
Edward Hull symbolises the spirit of illustration in the 19th Century. The great illustrators such a Phiz (who illustrated many of Dickens's books) are well known. Edward Hull represents the many who plied their trade in periodicals and books before the advent of photography in the early 20th Century.
Edward Hull was born in Keysoe, Bedfordshire, but lived most of his life in London. He travelled widely in England as his paintings and illustrations show. He married and had two daughters and three granddaughters. He died on 3 February, 1906 and is buried in St Peters Church in Sharnbrook in Bedfordshire.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Anyone who suffered through the emotional rape of bullying, whether it happened on the playground in kindergarten or in the employee break room last week, should read this novel.

And yes, that is Ben Elton as in "The Young Ones" Kendall Mintcake.

It's not the most perfect book ever written - the ending is predictable as hell and the character of Natasha is an annoying stereotype - but the points that the book has to make about the long lasting effects of bullying are spot on. It's a gruesome little mystery that'll have you wincing at the depictions of rough sex as much as at the manner of murder that a British serial killer employs to exact revenge on the toughest of bullies.

Have a read, why don't you?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Fox Sisters

The Fox sisters were three women from New York who played an important role in the creation of Spiritualism, the religious movement. The three sisters were Kate Fox (1837–1892), Leah Fox (1814–1890) and Margaret Fox (also called Maggie) (1833–1893).

In 1848, the two younger sisters – Kate and Margaret – were living in a house in Hydesville, New York with their parents. Hydesville was a hamlet which no longer exists but was part of the township of Arcadia in Wayne County. The house had some prior reputation for being haunted, but it wasn't until late March that the family began to be frightened by unexplained sounds that at times sounded like knocking, and at other times like the moving of furniture.
In 1888, Margaret told her story of the origins of the mysterious "rappings" :
"When we went to bed at night we used to tie an apple to a string and move the string up and down, causing the apple to bump on the floor, or we would drop the apple on the floor, making a strange noise every time it would rebound. Mother listened to this for a time. She would not understand it and did not suspect us as being capable of a trick because we were so young."
During the night of March 31, Kate challenged the invisible noise-maker, presumed to be a "spirit", to repeat the snaps of her fingers. "It" did. "It" was asked to rap out the ages of the girls. "It" did. The neighbours were called in, and over the course of the next few days a type of code was developed where raps could signify yes or no in response to a question, or be used to indicate a letter of the alphabet.

The girls initially addressed the spirit as "Mr. Splitfoot" which is a nickname for the Devil. Later, the alleged "entity" creating the sounds claimed to be the spirit of a peddler named Charles B. Rosma, who had been murdered five years earlier and buried in the cellar. Doyle claims the neighbours dug up the cellar and found a few pieces of bone, but it wasn't until 1904 that a skeleton was found, buried in the cellar wall. No missing person named Charles B. Rosma was ever identified.
Margaret Fox, in her later years noted:
"They [the neighbors] were convinced that some one had been murdered in the house. They asked the spirits through us about it and we would rap one for the spirit answer 'yes,' not three as we did afterwards. The murder they concluded must have been committed in the house. They went over the whole surrounding country trying to get the names of people who had formerly lived in the house. Finally they found a man by the name of Bell, and they said that this poor innocent man had committed a murder in the house and that the noises had come from the spirit of the murdered person. Poor Bell was shunned and looked upon by the whole community as a murderer."

Kate and Margaret were sent away to nearby Rochester during the excitement — Kate to the house of her sister Leah, and Margaret to the home of her brother David — and it was found that the rappings followed them. Amy and Isaac Post, a radical Quaker couple and long-standing friends of the Fox family, invited the girls into their Rochester home. Immediately convinced of the genuineness of the phenomena, they helped to spread the word among their radical Quaker friends, who became the early core of Spiritualists. In this way appeared the association between Spiritualism and radical political causes, such as abolition, temperance, and equal rights for women.

The Fox girls became famous and their public séances in New York in 1850 attracted notable people including William Cullen Bryant, George Bancroft, James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Parker Willis, Horace Greeley, Sojourner Truth and William Lloyd Garrison. They also attracted imitators, or perhaps encouraged people who previously had hidden their gifts. At any rate, during the following few years, hundreds of persons would claim the ability to communicate with spirits. Both Kate and Margaret became well-known mediums, giving séances for hundreds of "investigators," as persons interested in these phenomena liked to call themselves. Many of these early séances were entirely frivolous, where sitters sought insight into "the state of railway stocks or the issue of love affairs," but the religious significance of communication with the deceased soon became apparent. Horace Greeley, the prominent publisher and politician, became a kind of protector for the girls, enabling their movement in higher social circles. But the lack of parental supervision was pernicious, as both of the young girls began to drink wine.

Over the years, sisters Kate and Margaret had developed serious drinking problems. Around 1888 they became embroiled in a quarrel with their sister Leah and other leading Spiritualists, who were concerned that Kate was drinking too much to care properly for her children. At the same time, Margaret, contemplating a return to the Roman Catholic faith, became convinced that her powers were diabolical.
Eager to harm Leah as much as possible, the two sisters traveled to New York City, where a reporter offered $1,500 if they would "expose" their methods and give him an exclusive on the story. Margaret appeared publicly at the New York Academy of Music on October 21, 1888, with Kate present. Before an audience of 2,000, Margaret demonstrated how she could produce – at will – raps audible throughout the theater. Doctors from the audience came on stage to verify that the cracking of her toe joints was the source of the sound.
Margaret recanted her confession in writing in November, 1889, about a year after her toe-cracking exhibition. Kate's first letters back to London after Margaret's exhibition express shock and dismay at her sister's attack on Spiritualism, but she did not publicly take issue with Margaret. Within five years, both sisters died in poverty, shunned by former friends, and were buried in pauper's graves.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Annabel Lee (excerpt)

Who's Thirsty?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day and The Purple Heart

Allow me to indulge a bit with this post, as the subject is one of meaning to me personally. While posting on this subject I thought to also Honor my own Grandfather Ladislave 'Laddie' Batha, whom I never had the pleasure of meeting, except in his well written letters home- all of which I am lucky enough to have. Several years of dialog between he and his sisters- the letters read like a book and give a unique and detailed look into the life of a WWII Serviceman. Most of us are fortunate enough to enjoy a 'free' day off on this day- Memorial Day but may not give a whole lot of thought to what it means. The photos included are of my Grandfathers grave in England 1945 ( he was disinterred and brought back after the War to his native Chicago), his Memorial service in England 1945, him at home Chicago before shipping out for the last time 1943, him in his flight gear 1944, him with his flight crew in England 1944 ( only 2 of the crew survived the crash), and finally his Purple Heart award. Here is a little history about Memorial Day and the Purple Heart as a reminder not to take our freedoms lightly.

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 25 in 2009). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the Civil War), it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action.

Following the end of the Civil War, many communities set aside a day to mark the end of the war or as a memorial to those who had died. Some of the places creating an early memorial day include Sharpsburg, Maryland, located near Antietam Battlefield; Charleston, South Carolina; Boalsburg, Pennsylvania; Petersburg, Virginia; Carbondale, Illinois; Columbus, Mississippi; many communities in Vermont; and some two dozen other cities and towns. These observances coalesced around Decoration Day, honoring the Union dead, and the several Confederate Memorial Days.
According to Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the first memorial day was observed by liberated slaves at the Washington Race Course (today the location of Hampton Park) in Charleston, South Carolina. The race course had been used as a temporary Confederate prison camp in 1865 as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who died there. Immediately after the cessation of hostilities, freed slaves exhumed the bodies from the mass grave and reinterred them properly with individual graves. They built a fence around the graveyard with an entry arch and declared it a Union graveyard. The work was completed in only ten days. On May 1, 1865, the Charleston newspaper reported that a crowd of up to ten thousand, mainly black residents, including 2800 children, processed to the location for a celebration which included sermons, singing, and a picnic on the grounds, thereby creating the first Decoration Day.

The official birthplace of Memorial Day is Waterloo, New York. The village was credited with being the place of origin because it observed the day on May 5, 1866, and each year thereafter. The friendship between General John Murray, a distinguished citizen of Waterloo, and General John A. Logan, who helped bring attention to the event nationwide, and was likely was a factor in the holiday's growth.
Logan had been the principal speaker in a citywide memorial observation on April 29, 1866, at a cemetery in Carbondale, Illinois, an event that likely gave him the idea to make it a national holiday. On May 5, 1868, in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a veterans' organization, Logan issued a proclamation that "Decoration Day" be observed nationwide. It was observed for the first time on May 30 of the same year; the date was chosen because it was not the anniversary of a battle. The tombs of fallen Union soldiers were decorated in remembrance.
Many of the states of the U.S. South refused to celebrate Decoration Day, due to lingering hostility towards the Union Army and also because there were relatively few veterans of the Union Army who were buried in the South. A notable exception was Columbus, Mississippi, which on April 25, 1866 at its Decoration Day commemorated both the Union and Confederate casualties buried in its cemetery.

The alternative name of "Memorial Day" was first used in 1882. It did not become more common until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967. On June 28, 1968, the United States Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved three holidays from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The holidays included Washington's Birthday, now celebrated as Presidents' Day; Veterans Day, and Memorial Day. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971.

The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917 with the U.S. military. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York. The original idea for the Purple Heart (the Badge of Military Merit) is the oldest symbol and award that is still given to members of the U.S. military, surpassed in history only by the long obsolete Fidelity Medallion.
The original Purple Heart, designated as the Badge of Military Merit, was established by George Washington—then the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army—by order from his Newburgh, New York headquarters on August 7, 1782. The actual order includes the phrase, "Let it be known that he who wears the military order of the purple heart has given of his blood in the defense of his homeland and shall forever be revered by his fellow countrymen." The Badge of Military Merit was only awarded to three Revolutionary War soldiers and fell into disuse following the War of Independence. Although never abolished, the award of the badge was not proposed again officially until after World War I.

On October 10, 1927, Army Chief of Staff General Charles Pelot Summerall directed that a draft bill be sent to Congress "to revive the Badge of Military Merit". The bill was withdrawn and action on the case ceased on January 3, 1928, but the office of the Adjutant General was instructed to file all materials collected for possible future use. A number of private interests sought to have the medal reinstituted in the Army. One of these was the board of directors of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum in Ticonderoga, New York.
On January 7, 1931, Summerall’s successor, General Douglas MacArthur, confidentially reopened work on a new design, involving the Washington Commission of Fine Arts. This new design was issued on the bicentennial of George Washington's birth. Elizabeth Will, an Army heraldic specialist in the Office of the Quartermaster General, was named to redesign the newly revived medal, which became known as the Purple Heart. Using general specifications provided to her, Will created the design sketch for the present medal of the Purple Heart. Her obituary, in the February 8, 1975 edition of the Washington Post newspaper, reflects her many contributions to military heraldry.
The Commission of Fine Arts solicited plaster models from three leading sculptors for the medal, selecting that of John R. Sinnock of the Philadelphia Mint in May 1931. By Executive Order of the President of the United States, the Purple Heart was revived on the 200th Anniversary of George Washington's birth, out of respect to his memory and military achievements, by War Department General Orders No. 3, dated February 22, 1789. The Purple Heart award is a heart-shaped medal within a gold border, 1 3⁄8 inches (35 mm) wide, containing a profile of General George Washington. Above the heart appears a shield of the coat of arms of George Washington (a white shield with two red bars and three red stars in chief) between sprays of green leaves. The reverse consists of a raised bronze heart with the words FOR MILITARY MERIT below the coat of arms and leaves. The ribbon is 1 and 3⁄8 inches (35 mm) wide and consists of the following stripes: 1⁄8 inch (3 mm) white 67101; 1 1⁄8 inches (29 mm) purple 67115; and 1⁄8 inch (3 mm) white 67101. As with other combat medals, multiple awards are denoted by award stars for the Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, or oak leaf clusters for the Army and Air Force.
The criteria were announced in a War Department circular dated February 22, 1932 and authorized award to soldiers, upon their request, who had been awarded the Meritorious Service Citation Certificate, Army Wound Ribbon, or were authorized to wear Wound Chevrons subsequent to April 5, 1917, the day before the United States entered World War I. The first Purple Heart was awarded to MacArthur. During the early period of American involvement in World War II (December 7, 1941-September 22, 1943), the Purple Heart was awarded both for wounds received in action against the enemy and for meritorious performance of duty. With the establishment of the Legion of Merit, by an Act of Congress, the practice of awarding the Purple Heart for meritorious service was discontinued. By Executive Order 9277, dated December 3, 1942, the decoration was extended to be applicable to all services and the order required that regulations of the Services be uniform in application as far as practicable. This executive order also authorized the award only for wounds received. AR 600-45, dated September 22, 1943, and May 3, 1944 identify circumstances required to meet in order to be eligible for the Purple Heart for military and civilian personnel during World War II era.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Corpse Flower

Corpse flower or giant corpse flower can refer to either of two flowering plants:
The genus Rafflesia, which contains the species Rafflesia arnoldii, the largest single flower in the world.
The species Amorphophallus titanum, also known as the Titan arum, which has the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. The titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum (from Ancient Greek amorphos, "without form, misshapen" + phallos, "penis", and titan, "giant") is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. The largest single flower is borne by the Rafflesia arnoldii; the largest branched inflorescence in the plant kingdom belongs to the Talipot palm (Corypha umbraculifera). It thrives at the edges of rainforests near open grasslands. Though found in many botanic gardens around the world it is still indigenous only to the tropical forests of Sumatra. Due to its fragrance, which is reminiscent of the smell of a decomposing mammal, the titan arum is also known as a carrion flower, the "Corpse flower", or "Corpse plant" (in Indonesian, "bunga bangkai" – bunga means flower, while bangkai means corpse or cadaver; for the same reason, the same title is also attributed to Rafflesia which, like the titan arum, also grows in the rainforests of Sumatra).

The titan arum's inflorescence can reach over 3 metres (almost 10 ft.) in circumference. Like the related cuckoo pint and calla lily, it consists of a fragrant spadix of flowers wrapped by a spathe, which looks like the flower's single petal. In the case of the Titan Arum, the spathe is green on the outside and dark burgundy red on the inside, and deeply furrowed. The spadix is hollow and resembles a large loaf of French bread. The upper, visible portion of the spadix is covered in pollen, while its lower extremity is spangled with bright red-orange carpels. The "fragrance" of the inflorescence resembles rotting meat, attracting carrion-eating beetles and Flesh Flies (family Sarcophagidae) that pollinate it. The flower's deep red color and texture contribute to the illusion that the spathe is a piece of meat. During bloom, the tip of the spadix is approximately human body temperature, which helps the perfume volatilize; this heat is also believed to assist in the illusion that attracts carcass-eating insects.
Both male and female flowers grow in the same inflorescence. The female flowers open first, then a day or two following, the male flowers open. This prevents the flower from self-pollinating.
After the flower dies back, a single leaf, which reaches the size of a small tree, grows from the underground corm. The leaf grows on a semi-green stalk that branches into three sections at the top, each containing many leaflets. The leaf structure can reach up to 6 m (20 ft) tall and 5 m (16 ft) across. Each year, the old leaf dies and a new one grows in its place. When the corm has stored enough energy, it becomes dormant for about 4 months. Then, the process repeats.

Ah Toy ~ San Francisco's Notorious Madame

Ah Toy (c.1828 - 1928) was a Cantonese prostitute and madam in San Francisco during the California Gold Rush, and purportedly the first Chinese prostitute in San Francisco. Arriving from Hong Kong in 1849, she quickly became the most well-known Asian woman in the Old West. She reportedly was a tall, attractive woman with bound feet.
When Ah Toy left China for the United States, she originally traveled with her husband, who died during the voyage. Toy became the mistress of the ship's captain, who showered gold upon her, so much so that by the time she arrived in San Francisco, Toy had a fair bit of money. Noticing the looks she drew from the men in her new town, she figured they would pay for a closer look. Her peep shows became quite successful, and she eventually became a high-priced prostitute. Toy then opened a chain of brothels, importing girls from China as young as eleven years old to work in them.

According to one article on her life:
Ah Toy became familiar with early California's judicial system. Her first court appearance went mostly unnoticed. Her second left more of an impression. It has been recorded that she entered the court dressed in an "apricot satin jacket and willow-green pantaloons." On her small tightly bound feet was a colorful pair of tabis. Her raven hair was arranged in a chignon, while her eyebrows were black and pencil thin. The whole colorful picture contrasted with her white cheeks that had been rice-powdered.

She was in court this day because some miners had paid her with brass filings instead of gold. Before Ah Toy could explain the nature of her complaint the judge asked why arriving miners ran to Ah Toy's residence? Unfortunately, her reply has been lost but a newspaper reporter paraphrased a more exact solution. "They came to gaze upon the countenance of the charming Ah Toy," he wrote. Some miners came to do more than look.

You see, Ah Toy was a prostitute. For the miners who only wanted to look the price was one ounce of gold which was about $16.00. This form of entertainment was called a "lookee." Often this gazing option was advertised as a "two bittee lookee," which differed from a "flo bittee feelee," or a "six bittee doee."

Towards the end of her life she supposedly returned to China a wealthy woman to live the rest of her days in comfort, but returned to California not long afterward. From 1868 until her death in 1928, she lived a quiet life in Santa Clara County, returning to public attention only upon dying three months short of her hundredth birthday in San Jose

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Requiem for a Vampire

So, I just killed my afternoon by watching this 1971 Czech horror flick, and I just gotta ask: what the HELL was THAT about?!

One hour and twenty eight minutes of watching two scantily clad schoolgirls with guns romp across the countryside, doff their clothes at every available opportunity and evade the horny grasp of everyone who crosses their path, mostly without success.

My advice: just rent a porno and be done with it. 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

7 Day Vigil Candle

Hoodoo candle magic for difficult or ongoing situations.

You will need a large candle and seven pins. Stick the pins into the candle, dividing the candle into seven equal parts. Write your wish on a piece of paper and then turn the paper at a 90 degree angle and write your name across your wish seven times. Place the paper under the candle. You can dress the candle with the appropriate oil if you like or place appropriate herbs at the base of the candle. Burn it for seven nights, pinching (not blowing) it out each time a pin falls. Save the pins and when the last pin falls, stick the pins into the paper in the form of two "X" patterns surrounding a double armed cross.Bury the paper and any leftover wax under your doorstep if your intention is to draw something or someone to you. Throw the paper and wax away at a crossroads, in running water or bury them in the graveyard if your intention is to get rid of something or someone.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Addams Family

This classic still rates as one of my favorites, perhaps because I have been referred to as Morticia numerous times over the years, as well as I have had some odd looks when non friends have come calling to the house. And then there is the way my Grandpa used to refer to me as Wednesday. Mostly though its the wonderful cast of characters, lovable and zany.

The Addams Family is an American television series based on the characters in Charles Addams' New Yorker cartoons. The 30-minute series was shot in black-and-white and aired for two seasons in 64 installments on ABC from September 18, 1964 to April 8, 1966.

The Addamses are a close-knit extended family with decidedly macabre interests. They all have supernatural abilities, although no rationale for their powers is ever explicitly given.
The very wealthy, endlessly enthusiastic Gomez Addams is madly in love with his refined wife Morticia. Along with their two children, Wednesday and Pugsley, Uncle Fester and Grandmama, they reside in an ornate, gloomy, Second Empire style mansion, attended by their servants, Lurch, the towering butler, and Thing, a hand that usually appears out of a small wooden box. Occasionally, episodes would feature relatives or other members of their weird subculture, such as Cousin Itt or Morticia's older sister, Ophelia.
Much of the humor derives from their "culture clash" with the rest of the world. They invariably treat normal visitors with great warmth and courtesy, even though their guests often have evil intentions. They are puzzled by the horrified reactions to their good-natured, if extremely bizarre behavior, since they are under the impression that their tastes are shared by most of society. Contrarily, they view "conventional" tastes with generally tolerant suspicion. For example, Fester once cites a neighboring family's meticulously maintained petunia patches as evidence that they are "nothing but riff-raff."

Gomez Addams (John Astin). Gomez is passionately in love with his wife, often referring to her as "Cara Mia". His ardor is greatly intensified when she speaks French (a quirk that first appears in the eleventh episode, "The Addams Family Meet the V.I.P.s") - before then it was "Bubele". A (German-Bavarian, & Yiddish ) expression referring to someone as something like "my little boy", "little girl", "grandmother", "darling", "honey", "sweetie". He is very wealthy, due to owning numerous companies, as well as stocks in yet others (although mostly not knowing that it is so) and mostly charming, but doesn't seem to have money itself as "a priority" in life; indeed, he tends to squander his huge fortune quite cavalierly, yet somehow still manages to remain wealthy after all. He does, however, spend a great deal of time with his family. His own family background is referenced as "Castilian," and he occasionally uses Spanish words and phrases. He can perform rapid and complicated calculations in his head; on one occasion, when Fester swung his blunderbuss too close to Gomez's head, the gun barrel knocked against Gomez's head with the sound of metal upon metal. He is remarkably acrobatic and can easily dismount from a hanging position upon a chandelier.

Morticia Addams (Carolyn Jones). A cultivated and beautiful -- but strange -- woman, Morticia dabbles in art, raises flesh-eating plants (often recalled as hamburgers), and trims her roses by clipping off the buds (or just turning them upside-down on occasion) and saving the stems in a vase ("Oh, the thorns are lovely this year"). With her aristocratic detachment, she remains the cool, calm center in the middle of the chaotic events that continually swirl around the family. She can light candles with her fingertips and emit smoke directly from her person.

Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan), Morticia's kind and kind of "electric" uncle. His standard gag is to place a lightbulb in his mouth, where it lights up. When angered or disgusted by outsiders, he may grab for a blunderbuss and announce that he will shoot the offender in the back.

Lurch (Ted Cassidy) is the household butler. Morticia and Gomez summon him by means of a bell pull in the form of a hangman's noose, which rings the massive bell located in the mansion's bell tower; the resulting gong shakes the entire house when the noose is pulled. When Lurch appears (usually immediately or within seconds thereafter), he responds with an extremely deep-voiced and drawn-out "You rang?" According to IMDb, Lurch was intended to be a non-speaking part, as the Charles Addams cartoon character was silent; however, Cassidy improvised the line during his audition, and it was so well-received that it became a feature of the character. When questions are posed to him, Lurch's primary response is a deep throaty rumbling and, at times, tremendously annoyed sound, which the family nonetheless interpret as spoken words. Superhumanly strong (he cleans the family car by simply lifting it and shaking it out like a rug), Lurch often plays the harpsichord. Lurch is very high-minded about visitors; when a plainclothes policeman visited the family, Lurch patted him down and regarded him suspiciously when he found his gun. Neise showed Lurch his badge, whereupon Lurch returned the gun. Lurch occasionally regards his employers' activities with some dubiousness, but only as any servant might regard the idle rich, not because he does not share their macabre tastes.

Grandmama Addams (Blossom Rock), Mother of Gomez, (who occasionally calls her "Mamacita"). She is a witch who conjures up potions, spells and hexes. She also dabbles in fortune-telling, though it is obvious that, in this respect, at least, she is a charlatan. Her given name is never revealed in the series.

Wednesday Friday Addams (Lisa Loring), Gomez and Morticia's daughter - who has the middle name of Friday. She is the youngest member (six years old) of the family, she is a strange yet sweet-natured little girl who pursues such hobbies as raising spiders, beheading dolls (called "Marie Antoinette", "Mary Queen of Scots", and "Little Red Riding Hood"), and practicing ballet in a black tutu. Her favorite pet is a black widow spider named Homer, although she also has a lizard named Lucifer. She is strong enough to bring her father to his knees in a judo hold.

Pugsley Addams (Ken Weatherwax), Gomez and Morticia' son and Wednesday's older brother. Kind-hearted and smart, occasionally conforming to "conventional" standards contrary to his family, he still shares nevertheless a close bond with his parents and sister, the latter whom he often plays with. He also enjoys engineering various machines (sometimes with Gomez), playing with blasting caps, and his pet octopus, "Aristotle". And he switches his electric trains onto the same track; when they collide he says things like, "Swell wreck!" Despite his pudginess, Pugsley is, like his father, exceptionally agile, able to out-climb a gorilla and hang from branches by his teeth.

Thing T. Thing (Ted Cassidy, except in scenes where both Thing and Lurch appear, when assistant director Jack Voglin would perform this service), a disembodied hand (or, more accurately, a disembodied arm, since at times he is visible down to his elbow) that appears out of boxes and other conveniently placed containers. While never explicitly explained throughout the series, Thing apparently has the ability to teleport from container to container, almost instantly, as seen when Thing appears in different containers within seconds of each other, sometimes within the same scene.

Cousin Itt (Felix Silla; and played by Roger Arroyo for two episodes). Gomez's cousin, a short entity completely hidden by his almost head-to-floor-long hair. He speaks in rapid unintelligible gibberish which the family has no difficulty understanding. Gomez once asks him what is under it all; Itt answers, "Roots." In one episode, Itt is said to have "the eye of an a few of his own". Nevertheless, he wears conventional sunglasses, supposedly so people will not pester him for autographs.

Ophelia, Morticia's sister. Gomez was originally engaged to her in an arranged marriage, but when he saw 22-year old Morticia (dressed in a grown-up version of Wednesday's clothing), he was smitten and fell in love with her; when she spoke French, he claimed that for the first time in his life, his sinuses were cleared and his Bronchitis was gone. Ophelia was played by Carolyn Jones in a blonde wig (a staple of 1960's sitcom twins). One quirk of Ophelia's is that the flower growing in her hair had roots that travelled down into her foot; another is her love of judo, with which she can hurl men (usually Gomez) several feet.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Glasgow Smile

The heinous act of cutting a victim's face open from the edges of the mouth to the ears originated in Glasgow, Scotland, hence its nickname "The Glasgow Smile." Also known as The Chelsea Grin and The Anna Grin, the victim would often be beaten or stabbed after the incisions were made, thus ensuring that the wounds would rip open as the victim screamed, leaving a smile shaped scar...if the victim didn't bleed to death, of course.

Real life instances of the Glasgow Smile's infliction include:

Character actor Tommy Flanagan (Braveheart, Gladiator - top image), who received his scars outside of a Glasgow nightclub late one night in a mugging that left him close to death.

Elizabeth Short, better known as The Black Dahlia, was given a Glasgow Smile as well.

Famous fictional depictions of The Glasgow Smile include:

The 2001 film Ichi The Killer featured a character named Kakihara (second pic), who proudly sports a Glasgow Smile held shut with piercings.

The 1992 film City Of Joy depicted a young girl's face being carved in such a manner, as punishment for turning on a slumlord.

The 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs, based on the 1869 novel of the same name by Victor Hugo, features a protagonist named Gwnplaine, whose face was carved into a Glasgow Smile as a child, leaving him with a permanent toothy grin.

And need I mention Batman's arch nemesis, The Joker?
I didn't think so.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Book Recommendation

Every H.P Lovecraft fan and ghost enthusiast should own this book. 

More info HERE.

"Taking Up Serpents"

Snake handling or serpent handling is a religious ritual in a small number of Pentecostal churches in the U.S., usually characterized as rural and Holiness. The practice began in the early 20th century in Appalachia, spreading to mostly coal mining towns. Its practitioners call it "serpent handling" to be clear that it involves the handling only of venomous snakes. The practice plays only a small part of the church service of churches that practice snake handling. Practitioners believe serpent handling dates to antiquity and quote the Book of Mark and the Book of Luke to support the practice:

And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:17-18)
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)

George Went Hensley (1880-1955), a preacher who left the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) when the Church noticed him taking part in snake handling and set specific rules that made certain that that denomination would have nothing to do with those types of practices, is credited with creating the first holiness movement church dedicated to snake handling in the 1920s. Sister-churches later sprang up throughout the Appalachian region, including at the Mt. Verd Holiness Church in McMinn County - Athens, Tennessee.

Many of the later followers were brought into the belief through traveling preachers in the late 19th century, attracted by charismatic preachers who boasted great miracles and demonstrated wonders. James Miller, without hearing of Hensley's ministry, claimed he received a Revelation from God to handle serpents and baptize in the Jesus Only formula of Acts 2: 38 in the King James Bible. By the beginning of the 20th Century, snake handling had spread to Canadian soil, where a handful of Canadians embraced the Mark 16 revelation.

As seen in the photo-The handling of Serpents is best done to music!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Awakening~ Kate Chopin

This is one of my favorite books and most enjoyed authors. If you have never read her, you might want to!
The Awakening is a short novel by Kate Chopin (February 8, 1850 – August 22, 1904), first published in 1899. It is widely considered to be a proto-feminist precursor to American modernism. The novel chronicles the life of Edna Pontellier, the book’s protagonist, as she examines her happiness, role as a mother, and place in society. The novel is commonly studied to review feminist issues, and discover underlying controversies, as well as the reasons why Chopin chose to include these issues in her novel. It has also been condemned for its overwhelming use of complex sexual themes, which caused a major uproar when the novel was first published.
The novel is written from Kate Chopin’s unique point of view. She was courageously willing to go against society and her previous writing style. This type of writing adds controversy and provokes thought from her readers. It was not common to read about women experiencing these types of issues. Women were looking for a strong, independent role model. Chopin simply gave her readers her version of the ideal woman. According to literary critic, Emily Toth, Chopin’s views were contrasted to the proper roles of women during her time, and her observations were ostracized by society.

The Awakening begins with the Pontellier family vacationing at the summer resort of Grand Isle. Edna, the protagonist, is the wife of a successful businessman, Léonce. Edna, her husband, and their two sons have rented a cottage at the resort. Since Léonce is constantly occupied with his work, Edna begins to rely on others in Grand Isle for company. She spends most of her time with a close friend named Adele Ratignolle; Adele acts a second mother to Edna, and teaches her many important life lessons during their time together. Later, she meets Robert Lebrun, who is the son of the woman who manages the cottages on Grand Isle. Robert has a notorious reputation for choosing one woman and acting as her attendant each summer. This summer proves to be no different, as he and Edna get to know each other better. Towards the end of the vacation, she begins to fall passionately in love with him. However, Robert realizes this relationship is ultimately a forbidden love, so he quickly makes a plan to run off to Mexico to get away and ponder his relationship with Edna.

Once Edna and her family are back at their home in New Orleans, she is a completely different woman. Edna seems to be giving up her old life, which she believes was trapping her for the majority of her adult years. Léonce eventually calls in a doctor to diagnose her, but no progress is made as he can find nothing physically wrong with her. Her husband decides to leave her home while he goes away on a business trip. At this point in the story, Edna isolates herself and ignores her regular responsibilities. She eventually moves out of her house. Moving out of the house is the point in the story where her rebellion has now reached a new extreme. She rejects everything around her, including her children, giving no thought about the future. Much to her chagrin, while Léonce is gone, she has an affair with Alcée Arobin, who has been given the reputation as the town’s biggest flirt. Nevertheless, he is only able to satisfy her sexual desires for a short time.

Eventually Robert returns to express his true feelings for her. Unfortunately, their reunion is interrupted as Edna is called away to help Adèle with her difficult childbirth. Adèle then attempts to convince Edna to think of everything she is sacrificing for this relationship. She tries to remind her of the life she once had, her husband, her children, her place in society, and her duties. When she returns home, she finds a note left from Robert, saying he has left and will not be returning. Reading his words, Edna now feels completely alone in the world. She returns to Grand Isle, where ironically, she learned to swim earlier that summer.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Steven Wilson

You should all be listening to this man's music.


Because he's immensely talented and cool as all hell, as fans of Porcupine Tree (and Blackfield) can readily attest.

(He's also really cute, but that's beside the point.)

Even if you don't care for his brand of dark melancholy, you can at least appreciate the gorgeous imagery of his video for "Harmony Korine" - the first single from his solo album Insurgentes

And here is a link to the video itself:

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