lunes, 29 de noviembre de 2010

For what you Dream of...

If you need me I'll be in my new home.

jueves, 25 de noviembre de 2010

Looking for inspiration...

tattooed lady poster 1884
It's always been a dream of mine to one day become a tattooed lady. I still have an awful long way to go to achieve my goal, but here is a tribute to the fearless, original tattooed ladies from the turn of the century, who continue to inspire me and remind me that anything is possible! 


sábado, 20 de noviembre de 2010


Metamorphosis is an illusion, invented by John Nevil Maskelyne, but made famous by escape artist Harry Houdini,  in which an assistant (Houdini employed his wife Bess) is locked inside a large box or trunk, often after being restrained with handcuffs, ropes, bags, etc. The magician stands on the trunk and holds a curtain up to momentarily conceal his entire body. 

John Nevil Maskelyne
When the curtain is lowered, it is now revealed to be the assistant standing atop the box, the magician and assistant having changed places instantaneously. 

When the box is opened, it is shown to contain the magician, restrained as the assistant had been. In some acts, the magician is locked in the box first, then appears standing atop the box.
The Pendragons are a husband and wife team of magicians from America who perform this old trick, but with a new spin; they do it ten times faster. They are well known for their fast and dangerous illusions. 

Their metamorphosis illusion is regarded as the fastest trick ever to be performed in history, exacting the illusion in under a second.  The illusion won them a place in the 50th edition of The Guinness Book of Records, under the heading of the "Fastest Transformation Illusion"
The Pendragons

Variations include the Aquarian Illusion performed by Mark Wilson, wherein a tank filled with water is used and a beautiful swimsuit-clad woman assistant is locked inside underwater, and Penn and Teller performing the illusion in an underwater theater with the female assistant handcuffed and locked in a steel cage on the bottom. 

These variations add an element of peril. If something were to go wrong, the assistant (or magician) could possibly drown.

Here are the amazing Pendragons performing their metamorphosis in which the switch is made literally in the blink of an eye:

lunes, 15 de noviembre de 2010

Gary, Indiana

What was once a thriving city has fallen from grace and become an Urban Explorers dream. The city of Gary was founded in 1906 by the United States Steel Corporation as the home for its new plant. Many people relocated to Gary following the promise of jobs and a better life. Gary soon grew to a city of over 100,000 people, with the highest percentage of African-American population in the country.   

Downtown Gary was developed in the 1920s, and soon magnificent structures were towering above the streets, including several structures designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Sadly, this new-found prosperity would be short lived.  

In the 1960s, like many other American urban centers, Gary entered a spiral of decline. The demand for Steel was diminishing, and scores of citizens lost their livelihoods. After one of the nation's first African-American mayors, Richard G. Hatcher, was elected, many affluent and middle class residents deserted the city center and relocated to other regions. 

Soon Gary resembled a deserted ghost town, with reminders of the past still looming out to greet new-comers. 

Today, Gary is a city that sits in ruin, surrounded by sprawling suburbs plagued with crime and largely comprised of what have been described as some of the very worst housing projects in the country, particularly Ivanhoe district.  

The long-abandoned buildings of Downtown Gary are often still full of everyday objects and signs of life, as if the city is waiting in limbo for the return its original occupants. 

David Tribby has written a book on Gary, with superbly rendered photography of the town's treasures. I highly recommend it, below are some examples of his work featured in Gary Indiana, A City's Ruins. 

I am a long way from Indiana, but hope one to be able to walk around this town and meet the buildings in person.

All pictures taken from Gary Indiana, A City's Ruins.

domingo, 14 de noviembre de 2010

A Hell of a Curse

You are 
a threat to the world
To its integrity, to its dynamics
With a conscience on stand-by

You are the subtle voice of others
Predictions are lies
Deceive and misguide

Your division of good and bad
The language of social regression

The right cure for a wounded civilization?
What have you done to bring peace?

I don't envy you,
Your burden must be 

A hell of a curse

Source:  1
Words by: Neara

sábado, 13 de noviembre de 2010

Harry Kellar: The Levitation of Princess Karnac

The "Dean of American Magicians," Harry Kellar (July 11, 1849 – March 3, 1922)  was one of the great American Magicians of the turn of the century, whose legacy and influence can be clearly seen today in the acts of contemporary magicians worldwide. He enjoyed a long and brilliant career, thrilling and amazing audiences with his ability to make objects materialize, levitate and disappear.

Harry (Heinrich Keller) was a daring and mischievous child who loved playing chicken with passing trains and experimenting with different chemicals to make explosions during his childhood in Pennsylvania.

As per the wishes of his German immigrant parents, Heinrich became an apprentice to a pharmacist. After accidentally blowing a hole in the floor of the pharmacy following a mixture-gone-wrong, Heinrich hopped a train and ran away to begin life as a vagabond.

Kellar was working on a farm in Buffalo New York, when one evening he went to see a performance of a traveling magician, The Fakir of Ava (the stage name of Isiaiah Harris Hughes), and "immediately got the urge to go on the stage." Kellar's passion for conjuring had been ignited. He answered an ad placed by Hughes for an assistant, and got the job. Kellar attempted his first solo performance at the age of 16. 

In 1869, Kellar took a job with "The Davenport Brothers and Fay," a group of stage spirtualists made up of Ira Erastus Davenport, William Henry Davenport and William Fay. Kellar toured with the company all over Central and South America and enjoyed great financial success.

In 1875, the tour ended in Rio de Janeiro and with an appearance before Emperor Dom Pedro II. Sadly, Kellar's luck was to soon take a turn for the worse, and on his way to a tour in England, the ship Kellar was sailing on, the Boyne, sank in the Bay of Biscay. Lost in the wreckage was Keller's entire fortune, his show, clothes, and jewels. Kellar was left with only the clothes on his back and a diamond ring he was wearing. Even worse, his bankers in New York cabled him telling him that his bank had failed. Desperate for money, Kellar sold his ring, while Fay left to rejoin the Davenports.

Kellar spent the very last of his money to buy an illusion he had seen performed by magicians Maskelyne and Cooke at their theatre the Egyptian Hall. Upon his return to the United States, Kellar started a troupe of his own, and a theatre based on Maskelyne and Cook's, also called Egyptian Hall.

In 1878, Kellar returned to England and spent a fortune of more of Maskelyne and Cook illusions and tricks and the appropriate equipment. Shortly before arriving, Kellar was told of the death of magician Robert Heller.  Kellar was soon embroiled in controversy with the American public after being accused by the New York Sun of pirating the name in order to profit from it. Kellar tried to prove that his name has always been Keller and that he even changed it so as not to be confused with Heller.

He also pointed out that Heller had changed his name from William Henry Palmer. The damage was done however and his sullied public image caused Kellar to eventually cancel his upcoming shows in the United States and head back to Brazil.

During another World Tour in 1882, Kellar met an avid and beautiful young fan named Eva in Melbourne, who came backstage to get his autograph. They became penpals and  wrote to eachother for the next five years.

Kellar returned to his Egyptian Hall in December 1884, on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and enjoyed 264 popular performances. During this time Eva came to visit Kellar and began to play the Cornet in his show. She began to learn the business of Magic alongside Kellar, and they were married on  November 1st, 1887. Eva went on to become Kellar's assistant, appearing in many of his famous illusions including the "Levitation of Princess Karnac."

 On October 1891 Kellar opened his second Egyptian Hall at Concert Hall, located also on Chestnut Street. After a highly successful seven month run, Kellar decided to return to the road.

Kellar retired on May 16, 1908 with his last show at Fords Theater in Baltimore. He handed over the mantle of America's Greatest Magician to Howard Thurston

On November 11, 1917, Harry Houdini arranged for Kellar to perform once more for a show benefitting families of the men who died when the troop transport vessel Antilles was sunk by a German U-boat. Never one for understatement, Houdini arranged for Kellar to be carried off stage in triumph as six thousand spectators sang Auld Lang Syne. This would end up being Harry Kellar's final public performance. 

Kellar died on March 10, 1922. He is buried at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles. His grave marker reads"Beloved Dean of Magic."

Harry Kellar
Kellar’s “Levitation of Princess Karnac” 

In this illusion, Kellar hypnotizes a woman dressed in a Hindu costume, and she reclines on a couch. As Kellar waves his arm she rises, until she is six feet up. The couch is removed and a ring is passed around her body to prove that there are no wires. 

Another version built by Kellar was purchased by Harry Blackstone Sr who used the trick for many years. The Trick was described as a marvel of the twentieth century and the "crowning achievement of Mr. Kellar's long and brilliant career."

“The Nested Boxes”

Kellar borrows six finger rings from members of audience. He loads them into the barrel of a pistol, aims and fires the pistol at a chest that is hanging on the side of the stage. The chest is opened and inside is another, smaller chest. Inside that, are six boxes nested in each other. 

As each is opened, they are stacked on top of each other and inside the smallest one are the five rings each tied with ribbon to flowers. The five rings are returned to their owners. The owner of the sixth ring wonders what happened to hers, with Kellar pretending not to notice. 

He continues with his next trick, which a variation of Robert-Houdin’s “Inexhaustible Bottle”. Audience members call out different beverages like wine, whiskey, lemonade, or just water. 

Each one is poured from the same bottle and the audience acknowledges that they are indeed receiving their requested drinks. Once bottle is empty, Kellar takes it and breaks it open. Inside is a guinea pig with a sash around its neck which has the sixth ring attached to it. The ring is eventually handed back to its owner.
A variation of the trick was performed in front of United States President Theodore Roosevelt and his children, Ethel, Archie, Quentin and Kermit. Ethel was the owner of the sixth ring and after Kellar had returned her ring, he asked if she would also like to have the guinea pig as a pet. Then Kellar wrapped the guinea pig in paper and handed it back to Ethel. When it was opened, inside was a bouquet of pink roses.

“The Vanishing Lamp”

A lamp is seen set on top of a glass table. Still lit, Kellar covers the lamp with a thin cloth. Kellar told the audience that each evening, the lamp would be returned to its purported, original owner in India at a specific time. 

As a bell sounded out the current time of day, Kellar loaded a pistol and aimed it towards the lamp. At the last chime, Kellar fired the pistol. The lamp seemed to melt away, with the cloth falling to the stage. Kellar was known to have a short temper and after an incident where the “Vanishing Lamp” failed to vanish, an assistant had set it up on the stage to try and repair it. Kellar saw the lamp and decided to take an ax to it. 

Kellar eventually built another one that would continually work and, long after his retirement, the lamp he built still worked perfectly.

 Source: McManus and Young Collection at the U.S. Library of Congress.

viernes, 12 de noviembre de 2010

La Tercera Madre's playlist

La Tercera Madre has been working tirelessly to amass this list of favourites for your recommended listening, 

hopefully it will be as pleasing to your ears as is it to mine!

1.  Hibernating Reason By Neaera from The Rising Tide of Oblivion

2. Thy Horror Cosmic By Black Dahlia Murder from Unhallowed

3. Cold By At the Gates from Slaughter of the Soul

4. The Day of Justice By All Shall Perish, from The Price of Existence

5. Web of Lies By Arch Enemy, from Wages of Sin

6. When Everthing Goes Wrong... By Emmure, from Goodbye the Gallows

7. Temptations Wings By Down, Nola 

8. Punch me I Bleed, Children of Bodom, Are you Dead Yet?

9. Worm Infested, Cannibal Corpse, Worm infested.

10. Lam, Behemoth, Satanica.

sábado, 6 de noviembre de 2010

The Story of Edward Mordrake, fact or fiction?

"The true tale of Edward Mordake (Mordrake) has been lost to history. His unusual case occurred early in medical history and is referenced only in tales handed down. Indeed, the tale of his life has become so muddled through the passage of time that no solid date of birth or death is evident to modern researchers.
The story always begins the same way. Edward is said be have been heir to one of the noblest families in England. He was considered a bright and charming man – a scholar, a musician and a young man in possession of profound grace. He was said to be quite handsome when viewed from the front – yet, on the back of his head there was a second face, twisted and evil.

In some versions of the story, the second face of Edward is a beautiful girl. This is an impossibility as all parasitic twins are of the same sex. Often it was said that it possessed its own intelligence and was quite malignant in its intentions. It has been said that the eyes would follow spectators and its lips would ‘gibber’ relentlessly and silently. According to legend it would smile and sneer as Edward wept over his condition. While no voice was ever audible, Edward swore that often he would be kept awake by the hateful whispers of his ‘evil twin’. 

The story has always concluded with young Edward committing suicide at the age of twenty-three. The method of his death also differs, sometimes poison does him in and in other versions a bullet ‘between the eyes of his devil-twin’ puts him out of his misery. In both versions Edward leaves behind a letter requesting that the ‘demon face’ be destroyed before his burial, ‘lest it continues its dreadful whisperings in my grave.’
Is the story of Edward true?  

The 1896 text Anomolies and Curiosities of Medicine mentions a version of the story and Edward has been featured in many texts, plays and even music as the Tom Waits song ‘Poor Edward’ is based on the story. However, the tale was considered false for quite some time. It was simply too fantastic to believe and, obviously, many parts of the story simply do not make medical sense – years of retelling warped what was likely a very real occurrence.

How can one make the assumption that there is fact beneath this tale?

Chang Tzu Ping was discovered in China in the late 70’s or early 80’s. In his 40’s, Chang had been born with a second face consisting of a mouth, a malformed tongue, several teeth, a patch of scalp, and the vestige of other facial constructs. The throat and the lips of the second face could not move independently, but the mouth did reacted in tandem to Chang opening his. 

Shortly after being discovered he was brought to the United States to have the second face surgically removed. The entire case was documented – including the surgery – on the 80’s television program ‘That’s Incredible’ - and yet there exists almost no secondary evidence of his existence. The operation was considered successful and Chang likely went home to his village to live the remainder of his life without his ‘devil face’.

It does not require a great leap of faith to conclude that the tale of Edward is based on some nugget of fact, perhaps he had something similar Chang’s condition – mutated by storytellers over time. Consider that the case of Chang Tzu Ping is relatively unknown despite only occurring a few decades ago or the strange tale of The Boy of Bengal. These are indeed very rare cases and the human mind has a tendency to classify the unusual as impossible – it often helps us sleep well at night.

image: Janus twin drawing based on Edward -Unknown Artist.
2. Still of Chang from ‘That’s Incredible’, 1982."

jueves, 4 de noviembre de 2010

The Blue People

Skin tone is often a hot social topic. The conversations surrounding the perceived rights of ‘visible minorities’ has long been a heated one. However, what if your skin color placed you in a tiny minority? A tiny and very blue visible minority.

The most famous of the blue people were the Fugates family. The blue Fugates weren’t a race but rather an excessively tight-knit family living in the Appalachian Mountains. 

The patriarch of the clan was Martin Fugate, who settled along the banks of Troublesome Creek near Hazard, Kentucky, sometime after 1800. His wife, Mary, is thought to have been a carrier for a rare disease known as hereditary methemoglobinemia. Methemoglobinemia, in short, is a disease that causes blood to carry less oxygen which makes the skin of a Caucasian person display a bluish appearance due to the lack of oxygen. 

It is usually a recessive condition however the Fugate family intermarried with another clan, the Smith’s, and someone in that family carried the same recessive gene. Because of the small size of the community the family continued to inbreed and the family continued to display the unusual color trait well into the 1960’s.

Researcher Cathy Trost, who compiled the most comprehensive history of the Fugates to date, says:

“The clan kept multiplying. Fugates married other Fugates. Sometimes they married first cousins. And they married the people who lived closest to them, the Combses, Smiths, Ritchies, and Stacys. All lived in isolation from the world, bunched in log cabins up and down the hollows, and so it was only natural that a boy married the girl next door, even if she had the same last name.”
And so, after ten generations, from Martin Fugates father, ‘blue’ people roamed the hills of Kentucky.

It was only when researchers investigating Benjy Stacy’s case discovered a report in the Journal of Clinical Investigation by EM Scott in 1960 that a cure appeared likely.

The descendants of the Fugates were then tested, and they too lacked this enzyme. Springing into action, doctors studying the Appalachian clans considered Scott’s findings and found their own methemoglobin converter – a dark blue dye called methylene blue.

Trying to convince members of the blue clan to have blue dye injected into them so they would revert to a natural skin tone must have been harder than trying to find the cure, but one couple conceded. Minutes after the methylene blue was administered the blue tinge to the skin was gone.

Since then, it’s thought that all the Fugates and their relations have been treated – records claim that by 1982 only two of three family members had methemoglobin. We’re guessing they’ve been sorted by now.

The article pointed to an absence of an enzyme from the red blood cells called diaphorase, which Scott found was lacking in some indigenous Alaskans he had studied previously.
Argyria is an extremely rare condition caused by the ingestion of elemental silver, silver dust or silver compounds and the most dramatic effect of argyria is that the skin is colored blue or bluish-grey. The most famous person with argyria was Captain Fred Walters. 

Walters was born in England in 1855 and was a captain in the British army before a degenerative neural condition, locomotor ataxia, prompted his retirement. Treatment for his condition included the ingestion of silver and that regular ingestion caused Captain Walters to turn blue. He subsequently traveled to the United States in 1891 and began a career exhibiting himself for profit.

As time went on Walters allegedly increased his silver intake in an attempt to turn himself as blue as possible. For awhile, he was successful and his deep blue pigmentation resulted in more fame. However his heart eventually grew weak from the constant poisoning and gave out on August 20, 1923. 

He left behind a wife and a young daughter and his autopsy results, performed in Brooklyn, remain the most spectacular case of silver poisoning on record.

Sources: 12