Sunday, December 28, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The introduction to the film shows a platoon of the British army clearing a small collection of farmhouses, with them are two scientists who take a tissue sample from a deceased civilian who appears to have reanimated, then shot. Then the titles roll.
The film's first chapter, "The Outbreak," begins in the city of London, emphasizing both the dismissive and paranoid reactions of the population to an unspecified disease outbreak that is gradually making its way to Britain. The film then moves to footage of a documentary crew's travel to the countryside, where, in the process of filming material related to the virus, the characters encounter the zombie outbreak firsthand. The story of these four individuals is revisited in the second half of the movie.
The second chapter, "The Scavengers," takes place one month later. Two men (one of whom is American) and one woman travel around in small car armed only with a rifle, in search of food and radio parts.
The final chapter, "The Survivors," tells the story of a larger group of uninfected people who have set up camp on a farm. They divide their time doing reconnaissance of surrounding areas, holding off the endless stream of incoming zombies, and bickering amongst themselves. In the opening scene of the chapter, the audience watches as "the survivors" calmly execute the approaching infected. By the conclusion, however (by which time viewers have been jolted back in time to the first nights of the documentary crew at the beginning of the film), the word "survivors" becomes a distinctly ironic title, as all but potentially two (one seen surviving, the other missing) of the characters dying.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Britain has a big problem. The dead are returning to life and attacking the living. The people they kill get up and kill – and it’s spreading like wildfire. Curiously, there are a few people left in Britain who aren’t worried about any of this – that’s because they’re the remaining contestants in Big Brother. Cocooned in the safety of the Big Brother house, they’re blissfully unaware of the horrific events unfolding outside. Until an eviction night when all hell breaks loose.
Kelly, (Jaime Winstone) the production runner working on Big Brother finds herself caught in the impossible position of trying to fend off the walking dead alongside the remaining housemates, Davina herself, a host of former Big Brother housemates, her producer boss Patrick (Andy Nyman) and boyfriend Riq (Riz Ahmed).
Over the ensuing days, in a cruel reflection of the game show they thought they were entering, the contestants fall victim, one by one, to the hungry masses outside. Staying alive requires teamwork – which is tricky when you’re a group specifically selected by TV producers to wind each other up.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
For many generations the gruesome tale of Sawney Bean and his family of cannibals has scared children and adults alike. It was only when one man escaped and reported an attack which had cost the life of his wife, that a full-scale search for the ruthless killers was undertaken.
The truth of the legend is hard to discern at this distance, but it is generally agreed that there were certainly instances of cannibalism during the famines of the 14th and 15th Centuries in Scotland. The earliest printed references to Sawney Bean appear to be in broadsheets printed in England in the first half of the 18th Century. The most widespread version of the tale seems to originate in Historical and Traditional Tales Connected with the South of Scotland by John Nicholson (1843).
The Grisly Tale of Sawney Bean
Born sometime in the late 14th Century in East Lothian, the son of a ditch-digger and hedger, Alexander (Sawney) Bean is said to have been work-shy and dishonest. He married a woman as vicious and idle as himself and, being shunned by their neighbours, they moved to the West coast of Scotland and settled in a deep cave at Bennane Head, near Ballantrae (then Galloway, now South Ayrshire), where they lived for the next 25 years or so. It is reported that they had 14 children and that through incestuous relations the family eventually numbered some 48 people.
It appears that from the start it was Bean’s plan to exist on the profits of robbery by ambushing travellers on the lonely narrow roads that connected the villages of the area. To avoid being identified and captured he murdered his victims, and from there it was a short step to using their bodies to provide food. The caves at Bennane were well suited for his purpose, with tunnels through solid rock extending for more than a mile in length. The family took good care to avoid all other residents of the sparsely populated area and it was never suspected that anyone lived there.
Not unnaturally the numbers of people disappearing accompanied by the washing up on shore of decayed body parts alarmed the country round about. The authorities concerned were forced to take steps and in fact several inn-keepers were accused and even executed on no more grounds than that travellers who had disappeared were known to have spent the night on their premises.
It was only when one man escaped and reported an attack which had cost the life of his wife, that a full-scale search for the ruthless killers was undertaken. The public outcry caused by the reports of these horrible events was such that King James I of Scotland (1394-1437) led a troop of some 400 soldiers accompanied by several bloodhounds. Following one the largest manhunts ever seen in Scotland, the tracker dogs, attracted by the scent of decaying flesh, led the soldiers to the cave entrance.
Following a short fight the vastly out-numbered Bean clan were arrested and the contents of the cave revealed. The horrific discovery of the remains of human bodies and evidence of cannibalism, along with the loot gathered from their robberies, was thought to render a trial unnecessary and the family were immediately taken in chains to Edinburgh for public execution.
Their execution was especially gruesome. The women of the clan were forced to watch while their men had their arms and legs cut off that they might bleed to death as so many of their victims had. The women were thereafter burned to death.
The traditional Scots1 ‘Ballad of Sawney Bean’ documents the end of the Bean Clan:
They’ve hung them high in Edinburgh toon
An likewise a their kin
An the wind blaws cauld on a their banes
An tae hell they a hae gaen.
‘They have hung them high in Edinburgh town
And likewise all their family
And the wind blows cold on all their bones
And to hell they all have gone.’)
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Old School scary
Fright Night was the "Shock Theater" movie program that ran from 1971 to 1975 on WDRB TV-41 in Louisville, Kentucky.
When the independent channel 41 went on the air in February of ’71, it ushered in a new-- to my generation-- era of locally-produced television programming in a time when network television had come to dominate the other stations in the region. For a brief but wonderful time, local kids were treated once again to afternoon children’s shows like Funsville, hosted by the lovable Presto the Magic Clown, and we got our first personal exposure to Abbott & Costello, the Three Stooges, Ultraman, the Tarzan movies of Johnny Weissmuller and so many other cultural icons through WDRB’s inventive, movie-based weekend programs. It was a great time to be a kid, and when Fright Night first aired on March 6, 1971, it got even better...
Saturdays at 7?
Like countless other "monster kids" of my generation, I grew up reading about the classics of the horror and sci-fi genres in a little magazine called Famous Monsters of Filmland. Editor Forrest J. Ackerman and his ackolytes had turned us all on to films produced 30 and sometimes 40 years before we were born, and names like Chaney, Karloff, Lugosi (and yes, even Rondo Hatton) were being spoken in hushed reverence in study halls and playgrounds across America. It was a time before cable TV, before Blockbuster and the instant accessibility of the VCR, and if you wanted to see a classic like Bride of Frankenstein, it meant poring over television listings for months--or years-- hoping...
And then came Fright Night.
What set it apart from other "Shock Theater" shows was its choice of movies and (most important to us 8-year-olds) its airtime. WDRB’s decision to run a double-feature horror movie bill from 7 to 10 PM on a Saturday night in prime time was almost unheard of! This was the early 70’s, the era of CBS’ killer sitcom lineup of All in the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and others, and it seemed like a suicide move. What it was was an alternative-- and a surprise hit. And the movies, classics (and not-so’s) from the vaults of Universal, Columbia, MGM and the like, were not to be found on the other, late-night Creature Features show running on the ABC affiliate WLKY. Our prayers had been answered-- and a new local folk hero--The Fearmonger-- was born...
There’s no doubt about it, Channel 41 was a low-budget operation. Broadcasting from a converted garage on East Main Street, they had very little in the way of funds or set space that wasn’t already being used to support the afternoon kid’s shows and the news desk where Wilson Hatcher, the station announcer, gave the occasional update. Their solution to the problem of providing a host and his environs for Fright Night was unique--there would be no set. Instead, a dimly uplit, slightly solarized face would slowly materialize out of the darkness to introduce the movies (and crack a few well-worn howlers from the Barnabas Collins in a Funny Vein joke book) and then fade mysteriously away again into the night. And the man to personify the newly-christened Fearmonger would be local actor and long-time TV and radio commercial performer Charles Kissinger.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Satan is Loose
". . . the specter of something dark and evil has permeated this community. . . While we're reluctant to give credence to the rumors, both because rumor breeds rumor and because we simply hate to think that devil worship is a fact in our own community, we're afraid the talk is grounded in fact." West Memphis Evening Times, June 7, 1993.
Over the course of the 20th century as America urbanized, notions of the devil seemed relegated to a Puritan past or, at least, to backwater pulpits. With the dawn of the 1960s some saw the coming of an age of enlightenment. There was the giddy optimism of youth, symbolized by Camelot and the age of Aquarius. But the devil would not be silenced.
Perhaps the devil's return to popular mythology was marked by the 1967 publication of Ira Levin's novel, "Rosemary's Baby," wherein satanic covens directed events and toyed with people's lives from behind the facade of cultured society. In the film adaptation, director Roman Polanski blurred art with reality by using self-proclaimed Satanist, Anton LaVey as a "technical consultant." Soon after, the fantasy achieved a horrific edge of reality as Polanski's wife was killed by cult-leader Charles Manson.
In the 70's, popular fictions of the devil such as "The Exorcist" and "The Omen" were complemented by best-selling religious authors warning of Satan's reality. Evangelist David Warnke autobiography about his days as a satanist, The Satan Seller, sold millions. Author Hal Lindsey followed up his wildly popular apocalyptic vision, "The Late Great Planet Earth" with "Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth." Lindsey preached against the "thought-bombs" of our modern consciousness such as Freudianism and relativism. During a time of rapid technological and societal change these books appealed to the fundamental notions of good and evil, black and white, and tapped into people's primal beliefs.
Soon, the belief in the actuality of a devil began to shape policy. Stories appeared of widespread Satanic based crimes that had gone unrecognized by law enforcement and the public. In 1980, Michelle Smith and her therapist/husband published a landmark book, Michelle Remembers. It spoke of the tortured early life of its author. She recalled being serially raped by covens of Satanists who committed other atrocities including child sacrifice. These phenomena termed, Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA), began to appear in other accounts, notably in the autobiography of Laurie Stratford. A vast network of Satanists was claimed to be responsible for breeding children for rape and murder with a death toll described as between 40 and 60 thousand each year. Pseudo-experts in the occult began to lecture police departments on how to recognize Satanic crimes in their communities. The fact that there was little to no evidence for such activities did not deter its believers. The argument was made that it took decades for the FBI to recognize the existence of the mafia, so why not such an underground network? Wasn't a basic principle of a conspiracy to make certain it went undetected?
Talk shows, forever seeking the sensational, jumped on the bandwagon. Michelle Smith made the talk show circuit and Oprah Winfrey, Phil Donahue, Sally Jesse Raphael, and Geraldo Rivera ran episodes on the subjects of SRA and satanic murders. Geraldo's episode "Satanic Cults and Children" was claimed by the murderer Timothy Hughes as his reason for killing his wife; he had become convinced she was possessed.
"From small towns to large cities, they [one million satanists] have attracted police and FBI attention to their satanic ritual child abuse, child pornography and grisly satanic murders." Geraldo Rivera, November, 1987.
The FBI was paying attention, but only as skeptics. With an annual national homicide rate of 20,000, these allegations would have tripled to quadrupled the number of murders, and it would do that without leaving behind substantial evidence. The FBI estimated the number of satanists, self-described or active in covens, as being in the low tens of thousands. An FBI agent assigned to investigate such stories, Kenneth Lanning, wrote a series of articles debunking their existence.
Regardless of the FBI's statements, the belief in Satanic Ritual Abuse had an impact on local law enforcement. Across the US and on into England, allegations of SRA taking place at day care centers caused mass hysteria, lengthy trials, and occasional convictions. To this day, these cases excite emotions and controversy with some believing that mass child abuse did occur, others believing that there was a more limited degree of molestation, and still others believing that nothing had happened at all.
Allegations at the McMartin Day Care center in Southern California resulted in the state's longest and costliest trial. The defendants were found not guilty. The school was razed and after the verdicts the land was dug up to search for the networks of tunnels where the abuse supposedly took place. Some claimed to find evidence of tunnels; others claimed that the lack of tunnels were proof that nothing had occurred. In Wanatchee, Washington, prosecutors charged a group of alleged abusers with a total of 30,000 child rapes. Several defendants went to prison only to have their convictions overturned and their sentences commuted. In this case, the general consensus is that no crimes had occurred.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Pilgrims and the Pure Truth
The Pilgrims of New England, who came to this country in 1620, were not simple refugees from England fighting against oppression and religious discrimination. They were political revolutionaries and part of the Puritan movement, which was considered objectionable and unorthodox by the King of the Church of England. They were outcasts in their own country, plotting to take over the government, causing some of the settlers to become fugitives in their own country.
These Puritan Pilgrims saw themselves as the "chosen elect", from the Bibles’ Book of Revelations and traveled to America to build "The Kingdom of God", also from Revelations. Strict with the scripture, they considered an enemy of anyone who did not follow suit. These beliefs were eventually transmitted to the other colonists, and the Puritan belief system quickly spread across the New England area.
Plymouth Rock of 1620 - Myth or Fact?
This is from an account of the Pilgrims landing -from the book The American Tradition. Is it myth or factual?
" After some exploring, the Pilgrims chose the land around Plymouth Harbor for their settlement. Unfortunately, they arrived in December and were not prepared for the New England weather. However, they were aided by friendly Indians, who gave them food and showed them how to grow corn. When warm weather came, the colonists planted, fished, hunted and prepared themselves for the next winter. After harvesting their first crop, they and their Indian friends celebrated the first Thanksgiving."
Answer - BOTH! The American Tradition account is a mix of myth and fact. Here’s why:
1. Yes, the "Pilgrims" did come to America in 1620.
2. Yes they were inapt to care for themselves due to the harshness of the winter and their lack of stored food and supplies.
3. Yes, they did have a "feast".
1. They were NOT met by "friendly" Indians who waved them in from the banks or welcomed their arrival. The Native people did not trust the whites, having encountered such foreigners before and suffering severe consequences. The Natives took pity on the settlers and only a (very) few Native Americans were actually "friendly" to the newcomers.
2. The Native community did not help the colonists because of a deep friendship, rather it was a custom of their culture and religion to help those who were in need.
3. The two groups did NOT come together to celebrate the harvest, as friends, and rejoice in the "first" Thanksgiving. They were meeting to discuss land rights.
4. Lastly, it was NOT the first Thanksgiving. An Autumnal harvest and banquet were a tradition of the Native people - a celebration that was a part of their culture for centuries.
The REAL story of the "first" Thanksgiving
In December of 1620 a splinter group of England's Puritan movement set anchor on American soil, a land already inhabited by the Wampanoag Indians. Having been unprepared for the bitter cold weather, and arriving too late to grow an adequate food supply, nearly half of the 100 settlers did not survive the winter.
On March 16th, 1621, a Native Indian named Samoset met the Englishmen for the first time. Samoset spoke excellent English, as did Squanto, another bilingual Patuxet who would serve as interpreter between the colonist and the Wampanoag Indians, who, lead by Chief Massasoit, were dressed as fierce warriors and outnumbered the settlers.
The Wampanoag already had a long history with the white man. For 100 years prior to the Pilgrim landing, they had encounters with European fishermen, as well as those who worked for slave traders. They had witnessed their communities being raided and their people stolen to be sold into slavery. They did not trust the newcomers.
But Squanto was an exception. He had lived with the British, after being captured by an earlier sailing vessel. He had a deep fondness for the Europeans - particularly that for a British Explorer named John Weymouth, who treated Squanto like a son.
Chief Massasoit and Samoset arrived at the colony with over 60 men, plus Squanto, who acted as a mediator between the two parties. Squanto was successful at making a peaceful agreement, though it is most likely that there was a great deal of friction between the Native community and the colonists. The Englishmen felt that the Native peoples were instruments of the devil because of their spiritual beliefs and trusted only the Christian-baptized Squanto. The Native people were already non-trusting of the white man, except for Squanto, who looked at the Europeans as being of "Johns People."
It was Squanto who then moved to the English colony and taught them to hunt, trap, fish and to cultivate their own crops. He educated them on natural medicine and living off the land. A beloved friend of the Pilgrims, for if it wasn’t for him, they would not if survived. The Puritian Pilgrims thought of him as an Instrument of God.
Several months later the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims decided to meet again to negotiate a land treaty needed by the settlers. They hoped to secure land to build the Plymouth Plantation for the Pilgrims. The Native people agreed to meet for a 3-day negotiation "conference". As part of the Wampanoag custom - or perhaps out of a sense of charity towards the host - the Native community agreed to bring most of the food for the event.
The peace and land negotiations were successful and the Pilgrims acquired the rights of land for their people.
In 1622 propaganda started to circulate about this "First Thanksgiving". Mourts Relation, a book written to publicize the so-called "wonderfulness" of Plymouth, told of the meeting as a friendly feast with the Natives. The situation was glamorized by the Pilgrims, possibly in an effort to encourage more Puritans to settle in their area. By stating that the Native community was warm and open-armed, the newcomers would be more likely to feel secure in their journey to New England.
The sad, sad truth (what happened next)
What started as a hope for peace between the settlers and the Wampanoag, ended in the most sad and tragic way. The Pilgrims, once few in number, had now grown to well over 40,000 and the Native American strength had weakened to less than 3,000. By 1675, one generation later, tension had grown between the Europeans and the Native Indians. The Wampanoag called in reinforcements from other surrounding tribes.
Metacomet, heir and son of Chief Massasoit, became Chief of the Wampanoag Nation. The English, who referred to Metacomet as King Phillip, started a war between the two parties when they unjustly tried and convicted three innocent Wampanoags of murdering an Englishman, John Sassamon, even though it was well know and accepted that Sassamon’s death was truthfully caused by an accidental fall in a frozen pond.
Metacomet, furious and in despair, sought revenge for the deaths of his tribesmen by declaring war. The settlers killed another Native man, hence settling off the beginning of what is now known as "King Phillips War." Many Native communities throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut rallied with the Wampanoags, but the power of the English was overpowering. Metacomet moved many of his people to New York. Sadly, his wife and 9-year-old son were captured and sold into slavery. Brokenhearted, he returned to his homeland - and soon killed. His death ends the Kings Phillips War and the remaining Wampanoags, and their allies, were either killed or deported as slaves for thirty shillings each. This slave trade was so successful that several Puritan ship owners began a slave-trading business by raiding the coast for Native American Indians and trading them for black slaves of Africa. The black slaves were then sold to colonists in the south. Hence, the Pilgrims were one of the founders of the American-based slave trading industry.
When you're stuffing your face this Thanksgiving, please give a thought to those good and honest people, for without their pity, we would be eating this meal in our crappy countries of origin.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Two very disappointed thumbs down.
For this review I was accompanied by Mr. Boo Radley (the Trickster had strep throat). I know I'm a little older than the average "Ghost runner" (The only people older than me were with their kids), but this was totally a huge waste of time, non-fun, retarded, ect ect.
The Danger run people see it like this:
"The Danger Run is a Halloween-themed road rally (a.k.a. “Ghost Run”), and the largest and most popular event of its kind anywhere in the world right in the heart of Louisville, KY! It’s a unique, fun, and exciting game that anyone can play. The Danger Run is a driving game played in your vehicle, generally in groups of two or more people. You will be given a booklet of rhyming limerick-style clues that will test your logic, perception and reasoning abilities. Each of these clues, when solved correctly, will reveal the next turn (or series of turns) you’ll make as you attempt to stay on the route we have designed for you."
Boo and I started this evening with a smile, "oh my, what a lark...the ghost run".
After a quick stop at Starbucks we were on the road (I was wing man while Boo drove).
At first things were o.k. but as it got more difficult (boring) and Boo (who's a type a+++ personality) was getting more frustrated it really turned the night into a cluster @$#%.
When we arrived at the first haunt, The Psychorama theater in Clarksville it was 12:15 , they closed at 1am, and there were about 300 people in line.
At this point we just said "screw it" and went directly to the last haunt, "Industrial Nightmares-Pitch Black and cage maze".
They sucked....like a black hole. My God, what a joke. The only entertaining part of it was the clientele. Boo is writing his own review about our fellow "haunt enthusiasts".
If you are over the age of 12, please forget the Run and just go to a haunted house.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Baxter Avenue Morgue
451 Baxter Avenue
What a great time. After the having the bad luck to be in one yahoo, redneck party at another haunted house we once again found ourselves trapped in a group of drunk mouth breathers that even tried to give Warren Vanderdark shit as he was telling us the rules before we went it. Mr. Vanderdark however, rescued us from the yahoos and let us go through with the party behind us. Now THAT'S service.
The house itself was full of frightening props and I love the occasional ankle grab that would send the Trickster and I off, screaming into the dark. The acting here is top rate.
This was, by far, my favorite house. The Trickster was also very impressed.
Our rating? A must see for any Halloweenie : )
On a side note (this is sister #2) we were also given discount tickets to the WAKY haunted house. We drove down to it, which is the scariest thing we did all night due to the area. Out front there were no lines, as a matter of fact there were no people to be seen unless you count the weird wino on the corner. It looked major weak so we left...save your money people.
3101 Pondstaion Road
The Trickster (sister 2) and I started our Halloween festivities off with a bang at Darkness Falls haunted trails.
The folks at Asylum Extreme put on a hell of a show. Chains saws and demons abound with friendly ghouls to guide the way if you get off course. I like a haunted attraction that takes a while to do so I get more bang for my buck. This one clocked in at 23 minutes.
The only down side to what would have been a perfect haunted experience were the 3 rednecks in our tour party. The man smoked a cigar (blunt) the entire tour (fire hazard?). With all the hay and wood I would think that they would enforce a no smoking policy.
Our overall experience? Two enthusiastic thumbs up. I thought it was great and Trickster thought it was the best of the bunch. Well worth the money and the drive folks. You won't be disappointed.
Side note from sister#2: If chainsaws scare you(they terrify me) then this place will make you quake. Kudo's to the creators!!! I now set before you a challenge to make it even better next year...but I think it will be hard to top.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The state Department of Corrections suspended formal satanic services by inmates at one Kentucky prison yesterday until officials can research and develop a statewide policy.
Inmates at Green River Correctional Complex, a medium-security prison in Central City, have been allowed since earlier this summer to hold weekly satanic services as part of the official religious services calendar, said Lisa Carnahan, a spokes-woman for the state Department of Corrections.
The state suspended the services after the Herald-Leader inquired about the issue this week.
Inmates in at least two of the state's other 14 prisons -- Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex at West Liberty and the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women at Pewee Valley -- practice Satanism on their own, said Carnahan, who surveyed the institutions' wardens.
There is no statewide policy on whether Satanism can be practiced by inmates, and the decision is left up to each warden.
"We honestly didn't know it was on the religious calendar," Carnahan said yesterday. "We are researching it to see what we are required to allow under the law. But we've found information that indicates that satanic services could be a threat to the institutions, so for now we won't aid or abet satanic worship."
State officials began working a few months ago to draft a policy on religious services, including Satanism and witchcraft as practiced in the Wiccan religion.
Carnahan said the state has not suspended Wiccan services, which also are held at Green River and three other prisons: Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in Oldham County, the Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary's and Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville. A few Wiccans also practice informally at the Kentucky State Penitentiary at Eddyville, Carnahan said.
Satanism emerged as an issue in Kentucky a few months ago, when an unidentified inmate at Green River pushed to practice it.
The warden, Patti Webb, decided that it was safer to give inmates a specific time and place to worship, where they would be monitored, rather than letting them practice satanic ritual among themselves on the prison yard, Carnahan said.
"She made a decision to give them a room to meet instead of meeting on the yard, so they could be monitored a little more," she said.
In the past, other inmates across the country have asked for candles, candle holders, incense, a gong, black robes, chalices and short wooden staffs or other objects. But Carnahan said that to her know-ledge, inmates at Green River had asked only to copy satanic materials. That request was denied.
The Green River inmate, whose name officials declined to release, has since been transferred to another state prison. The transfer was not related to the satanic services, Carnahan said.
Only two inmates showed up last week for the satanic services at Green River, Carnahan said.
Earl Pruitt, founder of Kentuckians' Voice for Crime Victims, said he was unaware that Satanism was being practiced in state prisons and wants to research exactly what is happening before issuing an opinion.
But, said Pruitt, "I certainly don't think that they ought to be holding satanic services in prison. It's because of those kinds of activities that some inmates are there in the first place."
Under federal law and U.S. Supreme Court decisions, correctional institutions are not to prohibit the exercise of inmates' religious freedom, as long as the practice of the recognized religion does not compromise the safety of other inmates or the staff, said Joe Weedon, manager of government affairs for the American Correctional Association.
Weedon said he doesn't think numbers have been compiled on how many inmates across the United States practice Satanism.
The challenge for Kentucky officials will be to determine whether satanic services compromise safety at the prisons.
Kentucky officials have learned that policies in other states vary. For instance, prison officials in Texas, where 150 inmates say they follow Satanism, prohibit the services.
"We've looked at the satanic bible ... and are convinced that what it advocates would put our prisons at risk, safety-wise," said Donald Kaspar, chaplain for the Texas system. "One of their tenets is revenge -- if somebody hurts you, hurt them back."
Witchcraft as it relates to Wicca, a pagan religion that sees the divine in every element of nature, is viewed more favorably by prison officials across the country. By some estimates, there are at least 50,000 Wiccans in the United States and perhaps as many as 200,000. Not all Wiccans, however, consider themselves witches.
In January, Wisconsin hired the Rev. Jamyi Witch (she adopted the last name years ago) as the first Wiccan priestess in the nation to serve as a full-time state prison chaplain.
Wiccans do practice magic, but it involves focusing psychic energy on a worthy goal, using meditation to achieve good. Wiccans say that magic is just another word for prayer and it can be used only for healing. Wiccans are forbidden to use magic to enact curses.
"We don't have any materials that indicate that Wicca compromises the safety of the institutions," Carnahan said.
The scene of devastation at Taliesin the day after the murders
Frank Lloyd Wright was born in 1867 in Wisconsin. He became America's most famous and influential architect and was a leading figure in world architecture until his death in 1959.
He gave the name Taliesin - after the Welsh bard - to the house he built in 1911 near his childhood home in the valley where his mother's Lloyd Jones family - originally from Llandysul - had lived for generations.
Taliesin was a showpiece of Wright's design principles.
However, it was also the focus of scandal because he built it as the home for himself and the woman for whom he had left his wife and six children, Martha "Mamah" Borthwick.
And three years later, on 15 September, 1914, it became the scene of the biggest single incident of mass-murder in Wisconsin history.
Ron McCrea said that on that day, "all hell broke loose" at Taliesin when one of Wright's servants unleashed an attack that claimed eight lives (including the attacker's), left the world-famous architectural treasure in rubble, and devastated Wright, who was then 47 years old.
The attacker was 30-year-old Julian Carlton, an estate worker originally from Barbados.
While Wright was away in Chicago, Carlton bolted the doors and windows of the dining room where Mamah Borthwick, her two children, and six other people were eating, poured buckets of gasoline under the doors and torched the building.
He then used an axe to attack those who jumped out of the windows to escape the flames.
Weston and draughtsman Herbert Fritz survived and raised the alarm.
The victims who died were: Borthwick, and her children, Martha, nine, and John, 12, Ernest Weston, 13, the son of carpenter William Weston; Milwaukee draughtsman Emil Brodelle, 26; handyman David Lindblom, 38; and Taliesin foreman Thomas Brunker, 68.
Scores of farmers arrived to help. Wright's relative, the Unitarian preacher Jenkin Lloyd Jones, Iowa County Sheriff John T. Williams and Sauk County Undersheriff George Peck set up a posse to hunt for Carleton.
He was quickly found hiding near the burned-out building. He had swallowed acid.
He was nearly lynched on the spot, but the sheriff and posse, pursued by three carloads of men with guns, got him to the Dodgeville jail.
He died from starvation seven weeks later, despite medical attention. He made two court appearances but never stood trial, and his motive for the attack was never explained, although there are various theories.
'Devastating scene of horror'
Wright arrived home on the night of Aug. 15, with Edwin Cheney, the divorced husband of Mamah Borthwick and the father of her two dead children.
Wright described it in his autobiography as a "devastating scene of horror.''
Mamah was buried in the cemetery of the nearby Unity Chapel, which Wright had helped design for Jenkin Lloyd Jones.
"I wanted to fill the grave myself,'' he said.
Ron McCrea says that shortly afterwards, Wright published an open letter in the local newspaper to thank the community for its support - but also to defend Borthwick and to show he was not about to be driven out.
He promised to rebuild Taliesin in her memory.
He kept his word and rebuilt the house, which was his home until his death and which is now a monument to his life and work.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
There is no greater ghost story in the history of America than that of the Bell Witch of Tennessee. It would require a book to chronicle the strange haunting that occurred in Robertson County between 1817 and 1821 but in short, the family of a local farmer named John Bell was plagued by a mysterious and violent spirit for nearly four years. The haunting involved spectral creatures, disembodied voices, unbelievable violence and even resulted in the death of John Bell --- all at the hands of the infamous Bell Witch.
The haunting began in 1817 when the Bell family began experiencing strange phenomena in their home. First, the house was plagued with knocking and rapping noises and scratching sounds.
Blankets were pulled from beds, family members were kicked and scratched and their hair pulled. Particularly tormented was young Elizabeth Bell, who was slapped, pinched, bruised and stuck with pins. At first, John Bell was determined to keep the events secret, but soon confided in a friend, who then formed an investigative committee. John Bell's friends soon learned that the strange force in the house had an eerie intelligence. It soon found a voice and from that day on was seldom silent.
The spirit identified itself as the "witch" of Kate Batts, a neighbor of the Bell's, with whom John had experienced bad business dealings over some purchased slaves. "Kate" as the local people began calling the spirit, made daily appearances in the Bell home, wreaking havoc on everyone there. People all over the area of soon learned of the witch and she made appearances, in sounds and voices, all over Robertson County.
The ghost became so famous that even General Andrew Jackson decided to visit. He too experienced the antics of the witch and his carriage wheels refused to turn until the witch decided to let them.
John Bell fell victim to bouts of strange illness, for which Kate claimed responsibility. While he was sick in bed, the spirit cursed and prodded him, never allowing him to rest. One day, he went to bed and never recovered. He was found senseless in his bed one morning and a strange bottle was found nearby. Bell's breath smelled of the black liquid in the bottle, so a drop of it was placed on the tongue of a cat and the animal dropped dead. John Bell soon followed suit and Kate screamed in triumph. She even made her presence known at his funeral, laughing, cursing and singing as the poor man was buried.
Kate didn't vanish immediately after the death of her proclaimed enemy, though. She stayed around, threatening Betsy Bell to not marry the man that she truly loved, Joshua Gardner. The witch would never say why, but she did allow the girl to later marry the local schoolteacher, Richard Powell. Kate soon left the family but promised to return in seven years. She did come back and plagued the family again for two weeks. She soon departed but many believe that she may not have gone far.
Who was the Bell Witch? Was she really a ghost, who claimed to be connected to a living person? Or did the resentment and the hatred of the real Kate Batts create an entity of its own? Or could the haunting have been poltergeist activity linked to Betsy Bell? No one will ever know for sure -- but whoever, or whatever, the Bell Witch was, many believe that she has never left Adams, Tennessee at all.
Near the Red River, on the former Bell farm, is a cave that has been called the "Bell Witch Cave". Thanks to local legend and lore, many people have come to believe that when the spirit of the witch departed from the torment of the Bell family, she went into this cave. Others (myself included) believe that the cave marks the entrance to a doorway through which Kate came into the world, departed, and perhaps even returns today. Who knows? But I can tell you that with the large number of bizarre incidents reported in and around the cave in modern times, notions of the witch returning may not be as odd as you might think.
While the cave has become quite famous in recent years, there is little mention of it in contemporary accounts of the haunting. It is believed that the cave might have been used for the cool storage of food in those days, thanks to the fact that it remains a constant 56 degrees. It was also mentioned in some accounts that Kate’s voice was often heard nearby and one day, Betsy Bell and several of her friends had a close encounter with the witch inside of the cave.
The cave itself is located in the center of a large bluff that overlooks the river. The mouth of the cave opens widely but entrance to the cavern itself must be gained through a fairly long tunnel. The cave is not large compared to most commercial caves; however its true length is unknown because of narrow passages that go beyond the 500 or so feet accessible to visitors. Although geologically, this is a dry cave that has been carved from limestone, in wet weather, a stream gushes from the mouth of the cavern and tumbles over a cliff into the river below. This makes the cave nearly impossible to navigate and even shouted conversations become inaudible over the roar of the water.
In dry times, the cave has proven to be quite an attraction to curiosity-seekers and ghost hunters. Once you pass through the entrance passage, the visitor enters a large room that opens into yet another tunnel and an overhead passageway. Another large room can be found at the rear of the explored portion of the cave, but from that point on the tunnels become smaller, narrower and much more dangerous.
The Bell Witch Cave became an attraction thanks largely to a man named Bill Eden, who owned the property for a number of years. Eden was a wealth of information about the cave and about the fact that strange occurrences were continuing to take place on the land that once belonged to John Bell. Although he was mainly a farmer, Eden did make some early improvements to the cave by adding electrical lights, but that was about all.
Despite being undeveloped though, the cave managed to attract hundreds of visitors every year who wanted to be shown through it. Bill always obliged although was always puzzled about how they found the place. There were no signs to point the way at that time but somehow people tracked down directions to the site and they always asked to hear the stories of the witch, and the stories that Eden spun from his own weird experiences at the place.
Many of the strange experiences actually happened to Bill Eden himself, while others involved visitors to the cave. For instance, a woman came to visit one day and asked to go down and see the cave. She had brought a group of friends along and in all, about fifteen people followed Eden down the rather treacherous path to the cave’s entrance. All at once, the woman in charge of the group abruptly sat down in the middle of the path. One of the people who was with her asked why she was sitting there, and she answered that she wasn’t! She claimed that a heavy weight, which felt like a ton of lead, was pressing her down to the ground and she couldn’t get up. Several members of the group managed to get the lady to her feet and half carried her back up the hill to her car.
Bill Eden could also recount a number of encounters he had on his own in the cave. "You can hear footsteps in there all the time and I saw one thing," he once said in an interview. "Lots of people come out here expecting to see a ghost or a witch of whatever you want to call it. I just call it a spirit - and it looked like a person with its back turned to you. Looked like it was built out of real white-looking heavy fog or snow, or something real solid white. But you couldn’t see through it. It had the complete figure of a person till it got down to about its ankles. It wasn’t touching the floor at all. It was just drifting - bouncing along."
As Eden mentioned, a lot of people came to the cave hoping to see, or experience, a ghost. While many of them went away disappointed, some got a little more than they bargained for.
Eden had taken a group of young people into the cave one evening for a tour. They had been inside for about an hour and had stopped in the back room where they talked for awhile and Bill told of his experiences in the area. As they were starting to leave, one of the girls in the group started to make some remarks about the authenticity of the place, whether or not it was really haunted, and about how disappointed she was that nothing had appeared or had happened. She continued this monologue into the passage connecting the two rooms, which is quite narrow. Everyone else in the group seemed to be having a good time and Eden was used to the squeals, giggles and laughter that often accompanied young people on tours of the cave. The girl who was complaining was walking directly in front of Eden at this point.
She was walking along and then all of the sudden, stumbled backwards as if she had been pushed. She took a couple of step back and then sat down hard on the floor of the cave. She insisted that someone had slapped her, even when Eden tried to convince her otherwise. Eden helped the girl to her feet, still skeptical, and they all moved to the front room of the cave. Once there, he shined his light on her face to see how badly she had been hurt. He looked at her cheek and was surprised to see a red welt - and the prints of fingers that were still visible where she had been struck!
In the early summer of 1977, several soldiers from Fort Campbell, Kentucky came over to visit the cave. Eden took the young men on a tour and ended up in the back room, where all of them sat around talking and Eden told his stories of the odd events on the farm.
One of the men politely expressed some doubts about the validity of the story. He had been to many places that were supposedly haunted and nothing out of the ordinary had ever occurred to him. Eden laughed and shrugged his shoulders. The man could believe whatever he wanted to, but as for Bill, well, he had seen enough things on the farm to know that something unexplainable was going on. "If something happened, you probably wouldn’t ever come back here again," Bill added with a grin.
The group sat and talked for a short while longer and then they all got up to leave -- all except for the young man who had spoke up about his disbelief in ghosts. "Mr. Eden! Come here and help me," the soldier said. "I can’t get up."
Eden and the man’s friends all assumed that he was joking and they all began to laugh. It wasn’t until Bill took a good look at the man that he realized that something really was wrong. The young man was now begging for help and his face was drenched so badly with sweat that it looked like someone had poured a bucket of water over him. When Eden took hold of his hand to help him up, he could feel the man’s hand was cold and clammy as if he were going into shock.
The man continued to call for help and claimed that he could feel strong arms wrapped around his chest. They were squeezing him tightly, he said, and he was unable to breathe. Eden and the other men helped their friend to his feet and while the soldiers supported him, Bill wiped his face off with some run-off water from the cave. When the soldier got to feeling better, they took him outside of the cave. By the time they were ready to leave, the young man had completely recovered and was suffering no ill effects from his harrowing experience.
As he was heading to his car, he stopped and shook Bill Eden’s hand. "Well, you were right about one thing, Mr. Eden," the young soldier said. "I won’t ever be back here again."
The present-day owners of the Bell Witch Cave, and the piece of the old Bell farm made so famous by Bill Eden, are Chris and Walter Kirby. Walter is a tobacco farmer and Chris manages to stay busy managing the upkeep and offering tours of the cave. In the summer months, this task is more than a full-time job.
The Kirbys purchased the land in April 1993. The place had been empty for several years, after the death of Bill Eden, but by that summer, the cave was open again for business. Over the course of the next year or so, they made a number of improvements to the cave, which included new lights, a new electrical system, an improved path to the cave, wooden walkways to cross the most treacherous areas of the trail, and a number of other things. These improvements continue today.
It wasn’t long after the Kirbys moved to the farm, and began conducting tours in the cave, before they realized things were not quite right on the property. They began to notice first that there were strange noises that didn’t have an easy explanation. "We’ve heard them in the cave and we’ve heard them in the house," Chris has said on occasion. "I feel like if there’s anyplace that could be haunted, it’s this place here. First of all, it’s got the legend of being haunted. There’s an Indian burial mound right above the mouth of the cave on the bluff. And the previous owner of the cave died in our bedroom."
One day, Chris and her dog were leading a tour of the cave for a group of visitors. She was just opening the steel gate that leads inside when she heard a strange sound - the same sort of sound described by Bill Eden and one of his tour groups years before. "It sounded like real raspy breathing sounds," she said, "like someone couldn’t get their breath. It only lasted for a minute and then it was gone." Chris looked back to her tour group, but they were quietly talking amongst themselves and hadn’t heard a thing.
The tour continued through the first room, down the narrow passage and into the second room. Here, as is the tradition in Bell Witch Cave Tours, Chris began telling stories of the witch, the haunting and strange incidents on the farm. As she was talking, the dog suddenly reacted to something that no one else could see. The hair on the animal’s back stood up and she began showing her teeth and growling. The tour group asked what was wrong with the dog, but Chris had no idea. She was finally able to calm the dog down, but then the animal began whining and tucked her tail between her legs. She cowered back against Chris and at that same moment, the flashlight in Chris’ hand suddenly went out!
"I guessed that it was just the battery at first," Chris remembered, "but then a lady’s video camera stopped working too. We were all standing there in the dark and I’ll tell you, I was ready to get out of there and everyone else was too!"
Chris has also reported strange apparitions that have been seen in the cave by visitors and staff members alike. s Some of these shapes are misty and fog-like, sometimes appearing in different parts of the cave, only to vanish when approached. She also recalled another type of image they had seen. "It looked like heat waves that come up over the highway in the summer time," she explained. "You can see them out of the corner of your eye and then they’re gone."
One of the ongoing traditions (or legends, if you will) of the Bell Witch Cave involves the removal of any sort of artifact from the premises, be it rocks or anything else found inside of the cave. Some believe that perhaps the energy of the area is imbedded in some way within the actual makeup of the place and by removing a portion of the cave, you are inviting the phenomena that occurs here to travel with you. Others are not so scientific -- they believe that the spirit of the witch will follow anyone who removes something from the cave!
It’s likely that this tradition got started a number of years ago when the remains of a young Native American woman were discovered by men doing construction work on one of the local roads. Because it is well known that the former Bell farm contains a burial mound, it was requested that the bones of the Indian woman be entombed within the Bell Witch Cave. The remains were laid out in the first room of the cave in a shallow indention that was then lined with limestone slabs. Unfortunately, they did not remain there for long.
A short time later, trespassers into the cave made off with the bones, but according to local lore -- not without a price! Gossip in the community has it that each of the persons who removed one of the relics suffered a series of misfortunes, accidents and injuries within days of the theft. For this reason, it has come to be believed that it is bad luck to remove anything at all from the cave. Over the last several years, I have received a number of accounts from people who claim to have taken away stones from the Bell Witch Cave, only to then experience not only bad luck, but strange happenings in their previous un-haunted homes! Chris Kirby has assured me that she has received a number of packages in the mail over the years that have contained rocks and stones that were removed from the cave. After getting them home, the folks who removed them began to suffer all sorts of problems and weird events. They believe that by mailing them back to the cave, they might alleviate their problems.
Since the late 1970s, the Bell Witch Cave has a destination point for ghost hunters, curiosity seekers and paranormal enthusiasts. Strange phenomena has been reported on this property for centuries, dating all of the way back to the time of the Bell family in the late 1810s and 1820s. Weird events continue to this day and anyone with an interest in the supernatural is encouraged to make their way to the small town of Adams, Tennessee and seek out the Bell Witch Cave -- if you dare!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
This Photo of Octavia's grave was taken on a clear day with no fog and with warm temperatures. A mist was seen in several of the photos taken that day but it did not appear in all of them.
In 1889, at the age of 30, James Hatcher was married in Pikeville to a young woman named Octavia Smith, the daughter of Jacob Smith, an early settler. Their life together would be tragically brief and their union would produce one son, Jacob, who was born shortly before his mother died. The baby died soon after he was born, possibly leading to the depression and illness that preceded Octavia’s own death.
And it is the death of Octavia Hatcher that has created a legend that is still very much a part of Pikeville. The Hatcher baby, Jacob, was born in January 1891 and only lived for a few days before he died. A short time later, Octavia took to her bed, likely suffering from depression, and was quite ill. The illness took a turn for the worse in April of that same year and she slipped into a coma. The doctors were unable to determine a cause for it and when she died on May 2, it was thought that she had perished from an unknown illness.
The funeral services were held and almost immediately carried out. It was an unseasonably hot spring and as Octavia was not embalmed , no was time was wasted in placing her in her grave at the Hatcher family plot. James had just suffered a terrible double tragedy - but his grief was not yet over.
Several days after Octavia’s death, several other people began suffering from the same coma-like symptoms that Octavia exhibited at the time of her death. Research conducted by Herma Shelton shows that this illness was a sort of sleeping sickness that was brought on by the bite of a certain fly. When news of this began to spread, Hatcher and members of his family (some of them doctors) began to worry that this may have been the same illness that Octavia had contracted. Their fears turned to panic as they realized that she may have been buried alive!
An emergency exhumation was conducted and Octavia’s casket was opened. They found the poor young woman in a horrific state. Apparently, the coffin had not been airtight and she had managed to survive for a few days, trapped beneath the ground. The lining on the lid of the coffin had been torn and shredded by Octavia’s bloody nails and her face had been scratched and contorted into an expression of terror. She must have awakened from her sleep to find herself trapped in the casket. Then, unable to escape, she had undoubtedly succumbed to a terrifying death!
Octavia was reburied but James’ heart was broken. He had a expensive monument erected on the site, a tall stone that bears a likeness of Octavia standing atop it. At one time, a carving of her baby had been placed in the statue’s arm, but in more recent times, vandals have managed to break the arm off and the infant lies on the ground next to the marker.
As the years passed, the strange and unsettling story of Octavia Hatcher’s final moments began to be told and re-told in Pikeville. Eventually, as is the case with many legends, the story was twisted and changed until much of the truth was lost. During the years that Herma Shelton was attending Pikeville College, she heard a number of versions of the story, all of them different. The most commonly told revision of the story had it that Octavia had died while she was still pregnant. The story went that, during the funeral, the mourners heard an odd sound coming from inside of the coffin. When they opened the lid, they found that the baby, Jacob, had been born to the dead woman. He only lived a short time and then died himself. Obviously, this story is untrue and a glance at the Hatcher family gravesite would reveal that Jacob’s death preceded Octavia’s by several months.
As the story of Octavia Hatcher continued to spread, the tale took on a more “urban legend” quality. Students from the college and teenagers from around the area often went to the cemetery on Halloween night to drink and scare one another. They claimed that the statue would come to life on certain nights and frighten trespassers out of the graveyard. It was during this period that someone broke off the arm that held the stone infant.
Pranksters also went to the trouble of climbing onto the monument to bother the statue themselves. This gave birth to yet another, and perhaps most popular, version of the story. According to this version, Octavia’s spirit was angry at the people of Pikeville for allowing her to be buried alive. Because of this, she would literally turn her back on the city on the anniversary of her death. On these nights, the statue mounted on her grave marker would turn on its pedestal and would face the opposite direction from where it had been previously. This story was accepted as truth for many years until it was finally revealed that the nocturnal movements were the work of clever college students.
Even after story after story about Octavia was debunked, this never seemed to quell the rumors that spread about the cemetery being haunted. People who visited the site, and most especially, those who lived on the hill where the graveyard was located, often spoke of hearing strange cries in the darkness and about spotting a misty apparition in the vicinity of Octavia’s grave. Finally, in the middle 1990’s, the Hatcher family placed a stone in the cemetery that contained accurate information about Octavia’s death and placed her statue on a new marble base. They also enclosed the area with a fence, hoping to keep out the trespassers and vandals.
And while the additions to the gravesite have managed to keep out the unwanted, they have done nothing to curb the continued stories of ghosts and supernatural manifestations around the plot. Herma interviewed a number of people who live on the hill near the cemetery and heard about several incidents that took place in the cemetery. Many of them expressed a fear to come into the graveyard, especially at night, and there is a solid belief that the ghost of Octavia Hatcher still walks here.
One couple that she spoke with, who had lived nearby for more than 30 years, stated that they had noticed something very odd in recent months. According to their account, they heard the sound of woman weeping, coming from the direction of the burial plot on several nights. A check of the area revealed absolutely no one in the cemetery.
Another couple, who had moved to the neighborhood a short time before, said that they were told by others in the community to expect parties and trespassers in the cemetery at night but that they had yet to see anyone around. However, one evening they walked out into the graveyard themselves because they thought they heard a kitten crying in the darkness. As they approached the Hatcher plot, where the sounds were coming from, the crying stopped.
So, does the ghost of Octavia Hatcher walk in the Pikeville Cemetery? Or are the stories nothing more than local myths? According to a number of reliable witnesses, unexplained things still take place around the place where her life ended in terror. Could witnesses who claim to feel depressed and anxious around the grave be experiencing the young woman’s final moments? Or is the apparitions reported around the grave the spirit of Octavia as she still searches for peace?
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Around the world there are legends of human beings who have skin of a unusual shades, folk whose skin color wasn't some variation on brown or pink. These people, as they are remembered by their neighbor's descendants, were usually of a supernatural ilk - elves or gods or some other genre of sentient being. More often than not, these legends have been explained in our oh-so-enlightened civilization as the product of imaginative storytellers, bad translations, and artistic flourishes. Yet, in the relatively recent past, in the hills of eastern Kentucky, there was a clan of folk who seem to have shared a genetic anomaly that, in effect, rendered them blue.
That's right blue.
Okay, well, maybe not entirely blue - but definitely a blueish tint.
Madison Cawein began hearing rumors about the blue people when he went to work at the University of Kentucky's Lexington medical clinic in 1960. "I'm a hematologist, so something like that perks up my ears," Cawein says, sipping on whiskey sours and letting his mind slip back to the summer he spent "tromping around the hills looking for blue people."Okay - that is only a slice of the article - - - you should really read the entire bit, frankly - it'll be well worth your time. When you've reached the end you'll understand why, even with diligent searches of the internet, you're unlikely to find many pictures of blue men or women, Kentuckian or otherwise - because those people affected with this genetic anomaly (I won't call it a defect or even a handicap, because I haven't read of any disabling physiological effects) fear, quite logically, that society would drag them out for public exposition. It is sad, really - a physical trait that could add to someone's uniqueness has had to be hidden out of fear that it will be exploited by the foulest pimps of the entertainment and yellow journalism - both printed and video tabloids. Indeed, I find it interesting that most of those folks interacting with the blue Fugates blame the geography of east Kentucky alone for their genetic inbreeding - I can't remember that any of them make the connection between their hesitancy to leave their family connections and the fact that these people, rational beings all, knew how they would be insulted, feared, abused, and most likely, very, very lonely. Ah well.
Cawein is no stranger to eccentricities of the body. He helped isolate an antidote for cholera, and he did some of the early work on L-dopa, the drug for Parkinson's disease. But his first love, which he developed as an Army medical technician in World War II, was hematology. "Blood cells always looked so beautiful to me," he says.
Cawein would drive back and forth between Lexington and Hazard an eight-hour ordeal before the tollway was built and scour the hills looking for the blue people he'd heard rumors about. The American Heart Association had a clinic in Hazard, and it was there that Cawein met "a great big nurse" who offered to help.
Her name was Ruth Pendergrass, and she had been trying to stir up medical interest in the blue people ever since a dark blue woman walked into the county health department one bitterly cold afternoon and asked for a blood test.
"She had been out in the cold and she was just blue!" recalls Pendergrass, who is now 69 and retired from nursing. "Her face and her fingernails were almost indigo blue. It like to scared me to death! She looked like she was having a heart attack. I just knew that patient was going to die right there in the health department, but she wasn't a'tall alarmed. She told me that her family was the blue Combses who lived up on Ball Creek. She was a sister to one of the Fugate women." About this same time, another of the blue Combses, named Luke, had taken his sick wife up to the clinic at Lexington. One look at Luke was enough to "get those doctors down here in a hurry," says Pendergrass, who joined Cawein to look for more blue people.
Trudging up and down the hollows, fending off "the two mean dogs that everyone had in their front yard," the doctor and the nurse would spot someone at the top of a hill who looked blue and take off in wild pursuit. By the time they'd get to the top, the person would be gone. Finally, one day when the frustrated doctor was idling inside the Hazard clinic, Patrick and Rachel Ritchie walked in.
"They were bluer'n hell," Cawein says. "Well, as you can imagine, I really examined them. After concluding that there was no evidence of heart disease, I said 'Aha!' I started asking them questions: 'Do you have any relatives who are blue?' then I sat down and we began to chart the family."
Cawein remembers the pain that showed on the Ritchie brother's and sister's faces. "They were really embarrassed about being blue," he said. "Patrick was all hunched down in the hall. Rachel was leaning against the wall. They wouldn't come into the waiting room. You could tell how much it bothered them to be blue."
After ruling out heart and lung diseases, the doctor suspected methemoglobinemia, a rare hereditary blood disorder that results from excess levels of methemoglobin in the blood. Methemoglobin which is blue, is a nonfunctional form of the red hemoglobin that carries oxygen. It is the color of oxygen-depleted blood seen in the blue veins just below the skin.
If you're interested, I have a few more links for you - not a ton, but enough to keep your eyes moving for a few minutes at least. . . consider:
The Radford University Geography Blog entry on "The Blue People of Kentucky"
The Straight Dope's "Is There Really a Race of Blue People?"
Wikipedia on "Methmoglobinemia"
"Apparition walking into the room, stops for a second, turns around and walks back out the door, caught in an area where claims was made of seeing apparitions, no one was around this area at time this was caught, for evp's from here, go to our website, www.nkyparanormalgroup.com"
This is truly spooky.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The Pope Lick Monster is a mythical creature said to live beneath the Pope Lick Trestle in Louisville, Kentucky. The Pope Lick Trestle is a long, high, and dangerous railroad trestle over Pope Lick Creek in Metro Louisville. Descriptions of the Pope Lick Monster vary; some describe it as having the body of a man and the head of a goat (a goatman), while others describe a white-haired, Yeti-like creature.
The behavior of the Pope Lick Monster includes driving people from its territory by wailing, screaming, or throwing stones. The Pope Lick Monster has also been blamed for the mutilation of sheep. The legendary monster has turned the trestle into a site for teenage legend trips. In 2000, a young man of nineteen years fell to his death from the trestle while attempting to cross it on foot; he may have been on a legend trip looking for signs of the monster .
The monster was the subject of a 1988 film by Ron Schildknecht, called The Legend of the Pope Lick Monster. Named for the creek outside of Louisville that the monster is said to haunt, the Pope Lick Monster appears as something of a hybrid between man and goat. Like the satyr of Greek mythology, the Pope Lick Monster carries itself on powerful goat-legs, although it is covered in albino fur. The upper body is the grostesquely deformed torso of a man. The skin is alabaster, except in places where the flesh is tight over bone, which show black through the ghostly skin. The face resembles that of a human, but it is clearly not: the black eyes are too far apart, the nose too aquiline, and the thick jaw sticks out too far. Short but sharp horns protrude from its forehead, just below the hairline. The hair atop the head is long, greasy, and matted, matching the fur on its legs.
The monster stalks a small creek and the train trestle that runs over it. The monster will mimic the voice of loved ones to lure victims onto the tressel, just as a train approaches. The victim becomes trapped on the tracks, forced to either be run down by the train, or plummet a hundred feet into the creek below. The monster will harass hikers or young couples parked at a nearby lover’s lane, hurling stones or making disturbing noises. The monster will rarely attack victims; when it does, it attacks with a rusted, blood-stained axe or kicking with sharp-hooves. The monster prefers tormenting any who comes in its domain, getting a sadistic pleasure in the terror of others.
The origin of the Pope Lick Monster is unknown. There are rumors it was birthed from the unnatural union of a farmer and his goat. One story says the monster was freak in a circus sideshow that passed through the Pope Lick area, during the early 20th century. The locals were very cruel to the goatman. When he escaped during a destructive thunderstorm, he pledged to revisit the locals cruelty upon them ten-fold.
Creatures very similar to the Pope Lick Monster are said to exist in Texas, Oklahoma, and Maryland.
I do not believe in the validity of this myth due to the fact that if he was real my sister would have dated him....Love Juni
Undulata, the Pewee Valley home of American poet William Davis Gallagher,
was Annie Fellows Johnston’s model for the Haunted House of Hartwell Hollow.
This photo is from before the house fell into disrepair.
in the “Little Colonel” series. Photo from the Filson Historical Society, Louisville, Ky.
Undulata was the setting for the Halloween party put on by Aunt Allison for the children of Lloydsborough Valley in “The Little Colonel’s Holidays” In Chapter XI, Annie Fellows Johnston provides the following description of the home that became known as “the haunted house of Hartwell Hollow” to millions of her young fans:
NOTHING worse than rats and spiders haunted the old house of Hartwell Hollow, but set far back from the road in a tangle of vines and cedars, it looked lonely and neglected enough to give rise to almost any report. The long unused road, winding among the rockeries from gate to house, was hidden by a rank growth of grass and mullein. From one of the trees beside it an aged grape-vine swung down its long snaky limbs, as if a bunch of giant serpents had been caught up in a writhing mass and left to dangle from tree-top to earth. Cobwebs veiled the windows, and dead leaves had drifted across the porches until they lay knee-keep in some of the corners.
As Miss Allison paused in front of the doorstep with the keys, a snake glided across her path and disappeared in one of the tangled rockeries. Both the coloured women who were with her jumped back, and one screamed.
"It won't hurt you, Sylvia," said Miss Allison, laughingly. "An old poet who owned this place when I was a child made pets of all the snakes, and even brought some up from the woods as he did the wild flowers. That is a perfectly harmless kind."
"Maybe so, honey," said old Sylvia, with a wag of her turbaned head, "but I 'spise 'em all, I sho'ly do. It's a bad sign to meet up wid one right on de do'step. If it wasn't fo' you, Miss Allison, I wouldn't put foot in such a house. An' I tell you p'intedly, what I says is gospel truth, if I ketch sound of a han't, so much as even a rustlin' on de flo', ole Sylvia gwine out'n a windah fo' you kin say scat!
We know from a 1907 letter that real-life Little Colonel Hattie Cochran wrote to a fan in Shelbyville and now in the Filson Historical Society’s collection that the Haunted House of Hartwell Hollow was a real place in Pewee Valley. Annie Fellows Johnston’s 1929 autobiography “Land of the Little Colonel” also noted that, "The cabin where Gay spent a summer and the Haunted House of Hartwell Hollow had also burned to the ground." when she lamented the changes that had taken place in the valley since the time of the Little Colonel books.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Katie and Micah were a promising young couple, with a carefree life, until bizarre events began occurring in their new home. Katie was no stranger to paranormal phenomena, as she had been stalked by a malevolent entity since childhood. They purchase a video camera in an attempt to find out what's happening as they sleep at night. Over the course of three weeks in September & October of 2006, they ran nightly surveillance and captured indelible proof on home video, which has been edited into a feature film.
I don't know if this is a "Blair Witch" style hoax to hype the movie but still.... it looks great.
On February 12, 1998, seventeen-year-old Rod Ferrell pled guilty to killing a Eustis, Florida couple with a crowbar. The leader of a teenage vampire cult, Ferrell was allegedly helped in the double slaying by his then-girlfriend, Charity Lynn Keesee, and two other members of the cult.
The victims, Richard Wendorf and Naoma Queen, were the parents of Heather Wendorf, a friend of Ferrell's, and were beaten to death in their home on November 25, 1996.
The road to the murders began some three days earlier, on November 22. Late that night or early in the morning of the 23rd, Ferrell -- along with Keesee and the two cult members, Howard Scott Anderson and Dana Cooper -- left his hometown of Murray, Kentucky to drive down to Eustis.
After the four arrived in Eustis, Ferrell, who had lived there for several years before moving back to Murray to live with his mother, tracked down Wendorf and told another acquaintance, Audrey Presson, that he was in town for unfinished business.
A Disturbing Upbringing
When Ferrell was born on March 28, 1980, his mother, Sondra Gibson was only 17 years old, and his father, Rick Ferrell, was also a teen. The two were married nine days after baby Rod was born, but split up weeks afterwards.
Rick Ferrell filed for a divorce and joined the military, while Sondra kept the child. Her parents also looked after Rod, who claimed Sondra's father -- his grandfather -- raped him when he was 5.
Rod also claimed that as a young child, he was exposed to occult rituals and human sacrifices, and was introduced to the "Dungeons & Dragons" role-playing game.
Sondra Gibson eventually remarried and moved frequently with Rod before leaving him in Murray, Kentucky and moving with her new husband to Michigan. He allegedly told Rod that they were never coming back, and Gibson apparently became so upset that she divorced him and moved back to Murray to be with Rod. (Her second husband also allegedly engaged in satanic rituals.)
Around this time, Rod began to undergo some sort of transformation. He walked in cemeteries at night, cut himself so others could drink his blood, and told people he was a 500-year-old vampire named "Vesago." His school work slipped and he began flagrantly disobeying his schools' policies, skipping class, smoking on campus and generally defying teachers and school officials. He also indulged in playing "Vampire: The Masquerade," a realistic role-playing game in which players act out vampiric scenarios in real-time.
His mother allowed him to stay out all night, use drugs, and skip school, and he frequently spent time with a young man named Stephen Murray, who brought the teenage Ferrell into the vampire world and "crossed him over," turning him into a presumptive vampire and giving him his name.
By the spring of 1996, Rod was also talking long-distance to Heather Wendorf, who apparently told Rod that her parents were hurting her and that she wanted him to come get her, but that he would have to kill them to do so.
In September 1996, Murphy attacked Ferrell, who refused treatment when taken to a local hospital. Murphy was convicted for the attack. Shortly after, Sondra Gibson was charged with soliciting a minor -- Murphy's 14-year-old brother -- whom Gibson wrote love letters, imploring him to "cross her over" and have her as his vampire bride.
On November 25, the day of the murders, Ferrell and his companions were stopped by law enforcement officers and questioned because their vehicle had a flat tire. The flat caused Ferrell to change his plans. He told Wendorf and another friend, Jeanine LeClaire, about this and allegedly discussed with the group a plan to kill Wendorf's parents and take their Ford Explorer to use as a getaway vehicle.
Ferrell and friends arrived near the Wendorf home and met Heather Wendorf down the road from her house. He sent the three young women -- Heather Wendorf, Cooper and Keesee -- to visit Heather's boyfriend and pick up LeClaire. Ferrell and Anderson stayed behind, armed with clubs.
The two young men searched the outside of the Wendorf home, looking for some way to get inside. They entered through an unlocked door to the garage and searched the garage for better weapons. Ferrell finally settled on a crowbar.
Ferrell and Anderson then went inside the house, yanked one phone from the wall, and came upon 49-year-old Richard Wendorf, asleep on the couch. Ferrell beat him several times with the crowbar, fracturing his skull and giving him numerous chest wounds, including fractured ribs.
As Richard Wendorf lay dying, Naoma Queen left a bathroom in the house and entered the kitchen, where she found Ferrell. Ferrell had blood on his clothes and the crowbar in his hands. Queen threw hot coffee on him and fought him, but Ferrell beat her down to the floor and bashed her head with the crowbar several times.
With Heather's parents dead, the two young men searched the house. They took a Discover card from Richard Wendorf's pocket and the keys to the Explorer, which they drove off in.
They soon met the girls, who were returning to the area near the Wendorf home in the Buick Skyhawk they had originally used to drive down from Kentucky. The group then used both vehicles to drive to nearby Sanford, where they dumped the Buick. They switched the license plates, so that the Explorer had the Buick's plates (and the Buick, now left behind, had the plates of the stolen Explorer).
The group of five -- Ferrell, Anderson, Keesee, Cooper and Heather Wendorf -- drove west along Interstate 10 through Tallahassee and towards New Orleans, presumably to meet famed vampire writer Anne Rice. They stopped in Crestview, Florida and bought gas and a knife using Richard Wendorf's stolen Discover card.
One of the five made a call from Baton Rouge to Charity Keesee's family, and soon after, the five were caught. Ferrell was videotaped making two slightly different confessions, and four of the suspects -- the two guys, Dana Cooper and Heather Wendorf -- were charged with murder. Keesee was charged with being an accessory after the fact. A grand jury indicted Ferrell and Anderson on December 17, 1996 but refused to indict Heather Wendorf.
The Trial and Sentencing
The trial against Ferrell began on February 12, 1998. As the state offered its opening arguments, Ferrell pled guilty to the four charges against him: armed burglary, armed robbery, and two counts of first-degree murder. The jury empanelled for his trial was then given the task of determining if Ferrell should be given life in prison or death in Florida's electric chair.
Ferrell's lawyers argued that his young age should be a mitigating factor in his sentence, as well as his emotional age, which a psychiatrist placed at three years of age and his extreme emotional and mental disturbance.
On February 23, the jury voted unanimously to give Ferrell the death sentence. After additional testimony from both sides, Judge Jerry Lockett accepted the jury recommendation four days later and sentenced Ferrell to the electric chair. He is now the youngest person in Florida to sit on death row.
After the sentencing, Judge Lockett also urged prosecutors to charge Heather Wendorf, pointing to unanswered questions about her parents' death and saying, "There is genuine evil in this world." Ferrell's mother, Sondra Gibson, said she felt her son did not deserve the death penalty, but endorsed the judge's suggestion about Wendorf.
"There's one person walking around who's just as guilty as he is," she said.