domingo, 30 de enero de 2011

Bow Mansion

Bow Mansion
Bow Mansion is a traditional, New England style family home from the early 1800s, that sits next to a private beach, in a quiet, residential area of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. The 13 bedroom, seven bathroom Mansion was constructed at least 200 years ago, and it would seem some of the history of this structure never really left.  
Third Floor Bedroom
A friend of mine, Katja stayed in the house a decade ago as a child one summer, when the home was rented out by her extended family for a beach-side holiday. She was kind enough to tell me about her experiences in the house, this is her story. 
The first day that Katja's family arrived at Bow Masion, she was up in her room on the third floor, changing into her bathing suit before going down to explore the private beach. 

The narrow bedroom consisted of a small bed, a dresser, and two chairs in two corners of the room. As she began to undress, Katja glanced over to the corner of the room, seeing that one of the chairs was now completely turned, facing into the corner. 

Katja was quite disturbed by this, asking relatives if they had turned it. No one came forward saying they had.
Later that evening, Victor was in his bedroom down the hall, playing music, when he heard his name being called in a whisper from down the hall. Thinking it was his sister Katja, he responded, and wandered down the hall to her bedroom. 

The whispers continued, leading him toward the top of the stairwell. Victor stopped at the top, calling out to Katja to see what she wanted. Then, right behind his ear, he heard again a whispered "Victor." Turning and seeing nothing, Victor ran to his bedroom and locked the door, trying to make sense of what had just happened.
No one else would admit being upstairs or playing any trick on the kids. An aunt did complain however, about Katja and her brother Victor, running up and down the stairs all night long. She asked Katja's mother to tell them not to do it again.
Living Room of Bow Mansion
Katja was afraid to return to the room, describing how she felt intensely uncomfortable up there, she refused to spend another night in there alone, and so her Grandmother relented, allowing Katja to sleep the next night in her bed.

That night, Katja was sleeping next to Grandmother when she was awoken suddenly, to the sound of panicked screaming. The old woman was asleep on her back, screaming as if she was being murdered. Katja said it was one of the most disturbing sounds she had ever heard. Immediately shaking her Grandmother awake, the woman was confused and disoriented, and rolled over, drifting off to sleep again. She had no recollection of this the following day.

Another relative mentioned that she had trouble sleeping because she kept hearing cats meowing in the stairwell, and running up and down all night long. There where no cats on the premises however, that anyone could discover.

Victor and Katja went with their cousins a couple days later to play frisbee in the yard next to the house.  The Frisbee landed in some tall bushes and they went in to retrieve it. 
They came to a small clearing with twelve small tombstones with first names etched into them. They were clearly very old and quite close together. 
Katja later asked a neighbour about the little graveyard, and he said it was where the family had buried all their pet cats. 

Katja had grown so scared in the passing days that she had taken to sleeping on the floor in blankets next to her parents bed at night. One night Victor got up to use the bathroom, and upon leaving he opened the door to find Katja standing there, in the dark hallway, alone. She was staring straight into space, and she was fast asleep. Katja had never been known to sleepwalk before in her life and woke up there in the hallway, without any knowledge of how she got there.

The complaints of hearing meowing and smelling cat urine very strongly in some rooms continued over the next two weeks of the holiday. 

The owners have never admitted to any strange occurrences in the residence, yet there was one room in the house; the master bedroom that is kept entirely off limits to vacationers. To ensure that no one sleeps in the bed or uses the room, black and white photographers of the house and old, framed, family portraits have been laid out on top of the bed, covering every available inch.  

There is nothing uncovered about the history of the house or those who lived there, and the house is still available for rent to vacationers over the summer. 
Perhaps the owners have something to hide, perhaps the truth about this property would be bad for business, but undeniably there is a presence lingering for better or worse. 

The Clown Statue

(One of my favourite Urban Legends, Also known as: The Killer Clown; It the Clown; The Clown Serial Killer)
As told by Tamra S., Dec. 22, 2004:
So-and-so's friend, a girl in her teens, is babysitting for a family in Newport Beach, Ca. The family is wealthy and has a very large house — you know the sort, with a ridiculous amount of rooms. Anyways, the parents are going out for a late dinner/movie. The father tells the babysitter that once the children are in bed she should go into this specific room (he doesn't really want her wandering around the house) and watch TV there.

The parents take off and soon she gets the kids into bed and goes to the room to watch TV. She tries watching TV, but she is disturbed by a clown statue in the corner of the room. She tries to ignore it for as long as possible, but it starts freaking her out so much that she can't handle it.
She resorts to calling the father and asks, "Hey, the kids are in bed, but is it okay if I switch rooms? This clown statue is really creeping me out."
The father says seriously, "Get the kids, go next door and call 911."
She asks, "What's going on?"

He responds, "Just go next door and once you call the police, call me back."
She gets the kids, goes next door, and calls the police. When the police are on the way, she calls the father back and asks, "So, really, what's going on?"
He responds, "We don't HAVE a clown statue." He then further explains that the children have been complaining about a clown watching them as they sleep. He and his wife had just blown it off, assuming that they were having nightmares.
The police arrive and apprehend the "clown," who turns out to be a midget. A midget clown! I guess he was some homeless person dressed as a clown, who somehow got into the house and had been living there for several weeks. He would come into the kids' rooms at nights and watch them while they slept. As the house was so large, he was able to avoid detection, surviving off their food, etc. He had been in the TV room right before the babysitter right came in there. When she entered he didn't have enough time to hide, so he just froze in place and pretended to be a statue.

Analysis: Like "The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs," this urban legend pits a lone, teenage babysitter against a male intruder who has surreptitiously entered the house.
The tale is disturbing on many levels, not the least of which is the hint of pedophilia in the revelation that the "midget disguised as a clown" has been spying on, playing with, or, in some variants, actually touching the children in the house prior to his presence being discovered. In some versions, e.g. this one submitted by a reader in 2006, it's explicitly stated that the intruder is a "sex offender" with designs on the babysitter herself:
A girl is babysitting a sleeping infant. She goes up regularly to check on the baby and the third time notices a lifesize clown standing in the corner/sitting in the crib. A few minutes later the parents call and the babysitter mentions the clown and how unnerving it is. The parents relate that they've never bought a clown and the police are called. The "clown" is discovered to be a local sex offender waiting for babysitter to go to sleep before attacking her.
The chain-letter version
A variant circulating in the form of an email chain letter ("...if you don't repost to 10 peeps within 5 minutes the clown will be standing next 2 your bed at 3:00am with a knife in his hand") makes the "midget clown" out to be a murderer who escaped from prison:

Subject: Fw: clown
this creepy or what?
:: a few years ago a mother and a father decided they needed a break, so they wanted to head out for a night on the town. So they called their most trusted babysitter. When the babysitter arrived the two children were already fast asleep in bed. So the babysitter just got to sit around and make sure everything was okay with the children.
Later in the night, the babysitter got bored and so she wanted to watch tv but she couldnt watch it downstairs because they didnt have cable downstairs (the parents didnt want their children watching too much garbage) so she called them and asked them if she could watch cable tv in the parents room. Of course the parents said it was ok, but the babysitter had one final request. She asked if she could cover up the large clown statue in their bedroom with a blanket or cloth, because it made her nervous. The phone line was silent for a moment, and the father (who was talking to the babysitter at the time) said..... take the children and get out of the house..... we'll call the police... we dont have a clown statue..... the children and the babysitter got murdered by the clown. it turned out 2 be that the clown was a killer that escaped from jail.
if you dont repost to 10 peeps within 5 minutes the clown will be standing next 2 your bed at 3:00am with a knife in his hand....
Real-life killer clowns
Though urban legends are sometimes inspired by real-life events, I've found no clear precedents for "The Clown Statue" in news reporting of the past 20 years — no stories in which a miscreant poses as a clown doll inside people's homes, at any rate.
In 1990, a West Palm Beach, Florida woman was shot and killed on her doorstep by a clown sporting a bright orange wig (a crime which remains unsolved, so far as I know). Then there's John Wayne Gacy, of course, who, during the mid-1970s, murdered 33 young men and buried their bodies under his Chicago home. The media christened him the "Killer Clown" because he was known for hosting neighborhood parties at which he dressed up as a clown.

viernes, 14 de enero de 2011

Little windows

 Don Kenn is a danish illustrator who writes directs/animated TV shows for children and spends his free time drawing intricate illustrations/’monster drawings’ on sticky notes depicting a dark world full of monsters and other strange creatures, or as he puts it "a little window into a different world, made on office supplies."

I love these little drawings, they are quite reminiscent of Edward Gorey. You can view more of his work on his blog Enjoy! 


jueves, 13 de enero de 2011

Black Swan

Odette, Swan Lake
It seems almost cheating to set a film to the music of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, but Black Swan certainly did the score justice.

Darren Aronofsky has previously shown his talent for sensitive character studies of those who are caught in a downward spiral descending into madness and despair; 

In Black Swan he has really perfected this technique with his portrayal of Nina, a painfully perfect ballet dancer who struggles to "lose herself" in order to embody both the Odette and Odile of Swan Lake, and finds her mental stability rapidly deteriorating in the process.

Black Swan is a tragic and sometimes terrifying look into a mind damaged beyond repair, as the character comes undone for good, reminiscent of Aronofsky's The Wrestler or Requiem for a Dream.

The Film stays almost exactly in line with original tale of Swan Lake, and theme of sacrificing everything for a moment of freedom.

Although the story is of course fraught with metaphors, they are used carefully and subtly (for the most part) in such a way that what is really going on is not entirely obvious until the very end. The suspense and tension in the film build with every scene, some of them excruciating to watch,  ending with an unforgettable climax.

Go see it while it's still in theaters, if for no other reason, to hear Tchaikovsky in surround sound! ^_^

miércoles, 12 de enero de 2011

Minerva and Charmion- Strongwomen

MINERVA & CHARMION – Strongwomen

JosephineBlatt 754548 MINERVA & CHARMION   Strongwomen

The strongman has long been a staple in circus and sideshows. The image of handlebar mustached man garbed in a leopard print leotard has become the stereotypical image associated with feats of extraordinary strength. But, what about the ‘fairer sex’? Was there ever a professional strongwoman?
Truth be told, there were several.
Perhaps the best known and traditional of these brawny babes was Josephine Blatt, who was better known by her stage name Minerva.
Josephine Blatt’s early history is shrouded in carnivalgimmickry. She claimed to have been born in 1865 in Hamburg Germany but other sources, most notably The Guinness Book of World Records, pegged her as an American born in 1867 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Regardless of this discrepancy, few questions exist in regards to her remarkable strength.
In her displays she demonstrated her strength by breaking horseshoes with her hands, breaking steel chains by expanding her chest, and playing catch with a 24 pound cannon ball. She was capable to lift a stone weight of 360 lbs with a single finger thrust through a lifting ring. Furthermore, The Guinness Book of Records recognized Minerva as having lifted the greatest weight ever by a woman. At the BijouTheatre in Hoboken on April 15, 1895 Josephine Blatt lifted 3,564 lbs in a hip-and-harness lift. With that superhuman lift, Josephine Blatt nearly achieved the mythical status of her namesake. 
charmion 774226 MINERVA & CHARMION   StrongwomenShe retired with her strongman husband, Charles Blatt, in 1910 and eventually passed away on September 1, 1923.
Around the same time that Minerva was raising great weights, a young lady named Charmion was raising eyebrows with her unusual strength-related act.
Laverie Vallee, Charmion, was a Sacramento born trapeze artist who possessed strength and a physiquemost men would be envious of. However, she was most well known for her risqué striptease performances.
The act opened with Charmion taking the stage in full Victorian attire. She would then mount the trapeze and proceed to undress to her leotard while performing impressive and strength-dependant stunts. The act was incredibly impressive and provocative for the era. However, the controversy created by her performances did not prevent the formulation of a devoted, and mostly male, fan base.
One of her greatest fans was Thomas Edison. As a result of that adoration, on November 11, 1901 Charmion committed a simplified version of her act to film for Edison. The film, simply entitled ‘Trapeze Disrobing Act’ focused more on the erotic aspect of the performance, though a few remarkable feats of strength are featured. The film can be viewed here.
Charmion eventually retired to Santa Ana, California. She passed away on February 6, 1949 at the age of 73.

Information and images taken from 

sábado, 8 de enero de 2011

The Kidney Thieves

The viral message, which most often arrived under the header "Travelers Beware," sparked an avalanche of phone calls to local authorities, prompting the New Orleans Police Department to publish an official statement on the Web to calm public fears. Investigators found no substantiating evidence whatsoever. 

The story had a familiar ring. Before New Orleans, people said it happened in Houston; before Houston, Las Vegas — where an unsuspecting tourist was drugged in his hotel room by a prostitute and woke up the next morning, supposedly, in a bathtub full of ice, minus a kidney. 

A chilling tale, and a dubious one
It's a scenario that has taken many forms. I first heard it myself many years ago from a friend who'd heard it from another friend, whose mother swore it had happened to a distant cousin.

Here is the Legend of the Kidney Thieves that started in New Orleans and spread a fair amount of hysteria:

Netlore Archive: 'I wish to warn you about a new crime ring that is targeting business travelers. This ring is well organized, well funded, has very skilled personnel, and is currently in most major cities and recently very active in New Orleans.'

Description: Urban legend / Forwarded email Circulating since: 1996 (this version) Status: False Analysis: See article

Email example contributed by a reader in 1997:
Subject: Fwd: Travelers BEWARE!!!!!!
Neighbors, beware!

Dear Friends,
I wish to warn you about a new crime ring that is targeting business travelers. This ring is well organized, well funded, has very skilled personnel, and is currently in most major cities and recently very active in New Orleans.
The crime begins when a business traveler goes to a lounge for a drink at the end of the work day.

A person in the bar walks up as they sit alone and offers to buy them a drink. The last thing the traveler remembers until they wake up in a hotel room bath tub, their body submerged to their neck in ice, is sipping that drink. There is a note taped to the wall instructing them not to move and to call 911. A phone is on a small table next to the bathtub for them to call.

The business traveler calls 911 who have become quite familiar with this crime.
The business traveler is instructed by the 911 operator to very slowly and carefully reach behind them and feel if there is a tube protruding from their lower back. The business traveler finds the tube and answers, "Yes." The 911 operator tells them to remain still, having already sent paramedics to help. The operator knows that both of the business traveler's kidneys have been harvested.
This is not a scam or out of a science fiction novel, it is real.
It is documented and confirmable. If you travel or someone close to you travels, please be careful.

Analysis and more variants:
The Kidney Snatchers - An Urban Legend
Organ harvesting legends reviewed and debunked
The Kidney Thieves (Austin, Texas)
Another outbreak of kidney theft hysteria (1997)

 Info from Article
By , Guide

martes, 4 de enero de 2011

China's Deserted Disneyland

Along the road to one of China’s most famous tourist landmarks – the Great Wall of China – sits what could potentially have been another such tourist destination, but now stands as an example of modern-day China and the problems facing it.
Situated on an area of around 100 acres, and 45 minutes drive from the center of Beijing, are the ruins of ‘Wonderland’. Construction stopped more than a decade ago, with developers promoting it as ‘the largest amusement park in Asia’. Funds were withdrawn due to disagreements over property prices with the local government and farmers. So what is left are the skeletal remains of a palace, a castle, and the steel beams of what could have been an indoor playground in the middle of a corn field.
Pulling off the expressway and into the car park, I expected to be stopped by the usual confrontational security guards. But there was absolutely no one to be seen. I walked through one of the few entrances not boarded up, and instantly started coughing. In front of me were large empty rooms and discarded furniture, all covered in a thick layer of dust, along with an eerie silence that gave the place a haunted feeling – an emotion not normally associated with a children’s playground.
Once outside again, I came across some farmers who originally owned the land and are now using it to once again to grow their crops. Their tracks and plantations can be seen running through and surrounding the uncompleted buildings. Walking further, I came across a rather farcical sight of some farmers digging a well next to a castle; a moment I will always savor as a photographer in a place like China where castles are not in huge supply. I explained this to the farmers and they just shrugged their shoulders, oblivious to a photographer’s happiness. I asked them what happened, and they simply answered the developers ran out of money, and they are getting back to doing what they do best. They are even slowly starting to plant trees and build shelters near the buildings, adding they think it is now safe to think the developers are never coming back. This I can believe, as the absence of any security (something very rare in China) leads one to think that even the developers have given up on what is already there.
All these structures of rusting steel and decaying cement, are another sad example of property development in China involving wasted money, wasted resources and the uprooting of farmers and their families. It is a reflection of the country’s property market which many analysts say the government must keep tightening steps in place. The worry is a massive increase in inflation and a speculative bubble that might burst, considering that property sales contribute to around 10 percent of China’s growth.

lunes, 3 de enero de 2011

Skoll and Hati return

Two beasts of Norse mythology are set to trouble the skies of northern Europe on Tuesday for the world's first solar eclipse of 2011. 
Ancient Viking legends recount that a giant wolf named Skoll chases the Moon, and its brother Hati pursues the Sun -- and if either sinks their teeth into one and holds it back, an eclipse occurs.
For astronomers, though, eclipses are less superstitious affairs, occurring when the Moon swings between the Sun and Earth.
Tuesday's event will be a partial eclipse. 

This occurs when a fraction of the Moon obscures the Sun, and to those in its shadow a "bite" seems to have been taken out of the solar face.

The tale of Skoll and Hati, the descendants of giantesses, is enshrined in 13th-century Icelandic literature, which recounts:

"Skoll is the wolf that to Ironwood
Follows the glittering god,
And the son of Hrothvitnir, Hati, awaits
The burning bride of heaven."

If either wolf caught up with Sun or the Moon, humans must scare the beast off with as much noise as possible in order to restore light, according to Norse beliefs.

Even so, at the twilight of the gods -- a doomsday event known as Ragnarok -- any human intervention would be useless. The two wolves would finally get to devour their booty.