Morbid Fact Du Jour For November 8, 2017

Today’s Faulty Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The Soyuz 11 mission launched on June 6, 1971 and docked with the Soviet Union’s space station, the Salyut 1. The three-man crew of Georgi Dobrovolskiy, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev, became the first in history to successfully dock with a space station and inhabit it.  For the next 23 days, each crewmember performed his scheduled experiments, which emphasized the study of human performance under, and reaction to, prolonged weightlessness. On June 29th, after completing their flight plan, the space dwellers transferred their scientific records, film, and log books to Soyuz in preparation for their return home.

Georgi Dobrovolski (left), Vladislav Volkov (right) and Viktor Patsayev (background).

On 30 June 1971, after an apparently normal reentry of the capsule of the Soyuz 11 mission, the recovery team opened the capsule to find the crew dead. Kerim Kerimov, chair of the State Commission, recalled: “Outwardly, there was no damage whatsoever. They knocked on the side, but there was no response from within. On opening the hatch, they found all three men in their couches, motionless, with dark-blue patches on their faces and trails of blood from their noses and ears. They removed them from the descent module. Dobrovolsky was still warm. The doctors gave artificial respiration. Based on their reports, the cause of death was suffocation.”

It quickly became apparent that they had asphyxiated. The fault was traced to a breathing ventilation valve, located between the orbital module and the descent module, that had been jolted open as the descent module separated from the service module, 12m 3s after retrofire. The two were held together by explosive bolts designed to fire sequentially; in fact, they had fired simultaneously. The explosive force of the simultaneous bolt firing caused the internal mechanism of the pressure equalization valve to loosen a seal that was usually discarded later and which normally allowed for automatic adjustment of the cabin pressure. The valve opened at an altitude of 168 kilometres (104 mi), and the resultant loss of pressure was fatal within seconds. The valve was located beneath the seats and was impossible to find and block before the air was lost. Flight recorder data from the single cosmonaut outfitted with biomedical sensors showed cardiac arrest occurred within 40 seconds of pressure loss. By 15m 35s after the retrofire, the cabin pressure was zero, and remained there until the capsule entered the Earth’s atmosphere. Patsayev’s body was found positioned near the valve, and he may have been attempting to close or block the valve at the time he lost consciousness.

I’ve no idea where this image originally comes from, but isn’t it awesome?

An extensive investigation was conducted to study all components and systems of Soyuz 11 that could have caused the accident, although doctors quickly concluded that the cosmonauts had died of asphyxiation. Examination of the descent module showed that it was in excellent condition and there was no damage to it in the forms of cracks or ruptures of the hull.

The autopsies took place at Burdenko Military Hospital and found that the cause of death proper for the cosmonauts was hemorrhaging of the blood vessels in the brain, with lesser amounts of bleeding under their skin, in the inner ear, and in the nasal cavity, all of which occurred as exposure to a vacuum environment caused the oxygen and nitrogen in their bloodstreams to bubble and rupture vessels. Their blood was also found to contain heavy concentrations of lactic acid, a sign of extreme physiologic stress. Although they could have remained conscious for almost a minute after decompression began, less than 20 seconds would have passed before the effects of oxygen starvation made it impossible for them to function.

Alexei Leonov, who would have originally commanded Soyuz 11, had advised the cosmonauts before the flight that they should manually close the valves between the orbital and descent modules as he did not trust them to shut automatically, a procedure he thought up during extensive time in the Soyuz simulator. However, Dobrovolsky, Volkov, and Patsayev either chose to disregard his warnings or else forgot about them during the lengthy mission. After the flight, Leonov went back and tried closing one of the valves himself and found that it took nearly a minute to do, too long in an emergency situation with the spacecraft’s atmosphere escaping fast.

The Soviet state media attempted to downplay the tragic end of the mission and instead emphasized its accomplishments during the crew’s stay aboard Salyut 1. Since they did not publicly announce the exact cause of the cosmonauts’ deaths for almost two years afterwards, US space planners were extremely worried about the upcoming Skylab program as they could not be certain whether prolonged time in zero gravity had turned out to be fatal. However, NASA doctor Charles Berry maintained a firm conviction that the cosmonauts could not have died from spending too many weeks in space and that they must have inhaled toxic substances.

A film that was later declassified showed support crews attempting CPR on the cosmonauts. It was not known until an autopsy that they had died because of a capsule depressurisation. The ground crew had lost audio contact with the crew before reentry began and had already begun preparations for contingencies in case the crew had been lost.

The cosmonauts were given a large state funeral and buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis at Red Square, Moscow near the remains of Yuri Gagarin. US astronaut Tom Stafford was one of the pallbearers. They were also each posthumously awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union medal.  They are the only known humans to have died in space.

R.I.P. Comrades.

Culled from: Wikipedia

CPR Footage

Futile CPR in the aftermath of Soyuz 11.  

Morbid Fact Du Jour for November 6, 2017

Today’s Badly Fed Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

During World War II, the management of the Concordia lignite mine at Nachterstedt in the Magdeburg district of Germany used a large number of Soviet POWs to replace the German members of its workforce who had been drafted into the Wehrmacht.  (Yeah, I had to look up “lignite” too: “Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, is a soft brown combustible sedimentary rock formed from naturally compressed peat.” – DeSpair)  The first 200 prisoners were assigned to the mine in September and October 1941 from Stalag XI C (311) at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. At times, more than 300 Soviet POWs worked at the Concordia colliery and mostly performed physically strenuous excavation, construction and track-laying tasks.

Soviet prisoners pausing for rations in Poland, 1943.

The Soviet POWs were already in very poor physical condition when they arrived in Nachterstedt. Despite this, the rations they received were smaller than those given to POWs from other countries who also had to work in mining. They were so badly fed and in such poor health that at least 45 Soviet POWs died in January 1942 alone, most of them from malnutrition  and physical exhaustion.

In February 1942, the mine’s management asked the physician Dr. Mehl to compile a report on the health and work performance of the Soviet POWs working at Concordia. The doctor concluded that the many death at the Nachterstedt work detail were due to malnutrition and not a lack of hygiene at the camp or other wrongdoing on the part of the company.

Around 150 Soviet POWs died at the Nachterstedt work detail between 1941 and 1945. 

Culled from:  Bergen-Belsen Wehrmacht POW Camp, 1940-1945


Vintage Poem Du Jour!

Here’s a lovely poem by Mrs. Elizabeth Turner culled from One Thousand Poems for Children (1903).  I love a happy ending!

This image actually lacks the final verse, which is a bit anti-climactic:

Alas! had Tommy understood
That fruit in lanes is seldom good,
He might have walked with little Jane
Again along the shady lane.

(Well, at least the male was blamed for eating the fruit this time!)

Image culled from the fabulous Strange Company Facebook page.

Morbid Fact Du Jour For November 5, 2017

Today’s Peculiar Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Englishman George Joseph Smith was known as the “Brides in the Bath” murderer for his habit of drowning his wives in the tub in order to collect on their life insurance. Smith vehemently proclaimed his innocence, leaping up during his trial and shouting, “I am not a murderer, though I may be a bit peculiar!” The jury didn’t buy it, at least the first part. He was hanged on Friday, August 13, 1915.

George Joseph Smith, acting with peculiarity!

Culled from: The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers

Okay, I need to make a shirt that says, “I am not a murderer, though I may be a bit peculiar!”


Dark Stock Photos!

Who knew stock photos could be so much fun? 

Dark Stock Photos

Morbid Fact Du Jour for November 1, 2017

Today’s Dank, Odorous Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

By 1947 to say that conditions in the state mental hospitals was deplorable would be an understatement. Overcrowded conditions, rapidly deteriorating buildings, underpaid staff with very low morale, horrible working conditions, high staff turnover; the list goes on. In Shame of the States (1948), Albert Deutsch writes that, “Many persons have asked me… how did you ever get departmental and institutional officials to let you in with a camera man to expose their own institutions? … the plain fact is that most of them welcomed the opportunity to get the true story before the public.” Deutsch goes on to say that when he arrived at Byberry (Philadelphia State Hospital), he was told “… I give you carte blanche… go wherever you like… all I ask of you is that you be truthful.”  Deutsch was impeccably truthful. His reputation for fairness was well known. When he began his work on Shame of the States, he did so with the express purpose of helping patients, with improving the hospitals. He never imagined that things were as bad as they turned out to be.

Deutsch found patients chained to beds, chairs, and radiators. He found naked, incontinent people standing, sitting, or sprawled in dank, odorous, bare rooms. Walls and ceilings were falling down, roofs and ceilings were leaking, windows were broken, floors were rotting, lighting was poor. Patients ate their food with their hands. Food was cold, dumped on trays with no plates, and totally unappetizing. All forms of therapy were limited because of grossly inadequate staff. There was no occupational therapy or recreation. Many hospitals were fire traps. The superintendent at Milledgeville stated that he was surprised that a fire had not already occurred. Many hospital scenes were described as similar to Dante’s Inferno or reminiscent of the Nazi death camps. The cause of this decay was laid directly on the heads of penny-pinching state legislatures who were too willing to amass surpluses in state treasuries at the expense of social services such as the state mental hospitals. At the conclusion of his book Deutsch outlined an ideal mental hospital where everyone would work for the good of the patient. 

While the public reaction to Dutsch’s book forced some action, hospitals soon became “cogs” in the legal system whereby patients were moved along as quickly as possible and given little or not treatment. Patients who did require more treatment were shunted off to other institutions. Under the is system, the patients continued to suffer terribly.

Culled from: America’s Care of the Mentally Ill: A Photographic History

Morbid Fact Du Jour for October 30, 2017

I’m finally reunited with my library after a prolonged renovation so the facts should start flowing regularly again.  I apologize profusely for the delay.  Thank you for staying morbid!

Today’s Sharply Pitched Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

China Airlines Flight 140 was a regularly scheduled passenger flight from Chiang Kai-shek International Airport (Now Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport) serving Taipei, Taiwan, to Nagoya Airport in Nagoya, Japan. On April 26, 1994, the Airbus A300B4-622R was completing a routine flight and approach, when, just before landing at Nagoya Airport, the First Officer inadvertently pressed the Takeoff/Go-around button (also known as a TO/GA) which raises the throttle position to the same as take offs and go-arounds.

Pilot Wang Lo-chi and copilot Chuang Meng-jung attempted to correct the situation by manually reducing the throttles and pushing the yoke downwards. The autopilot then acted against these inputs (as it is programmed to do when the TO/GA button is activated), causing the nose to pitch up sharply. This nose-high attitude, combined with decreasing airspeed due to insufficient thrust, resulted in an aerodynamic stall of the aircraft. With insufficient altitude to recover from this condition, the subsequent crash killed 264 (15 crew and 249 passengers) of the 271 (15 crew and 256 passengers) people aboard. All passengers who survived the accident were seated in rows 7 through 15.

Searching the wreckage.

The flight took off from Chiang Kai-shek International Airport at 16:53 Taiwan Standard Time bound for Nagoya Airport. The en-route flight was uneventful and the descent started at 19:47, and the airplane passed the outer marker at 20:12. Just 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) from the runway threshold at 1,000 feet (300 m) AGL, the airplane leveled off for about 15 seconds and continued descending until about 500 feet (150 m) where there were two bursts of thrust applied in quick succession and the airplane was nose up in a steep climb. Airspeed dropped quickly, the airplane stalled, and struck the ground at 20:15:45. 31-year-old Noriyasu Shirai, a survivor, said that a flight attendant announced that the plane would crash after the aircraft stalled. Sylvanie Detonio, who had survived by April 27, said that passengers received no warning prior to the crash.

The crash, which destroyed the aircraft (delivered less than 3 years earlier in 1991), was attributed to crew error for their failure to correct the controls as well as the airspeed. 

Culled from: Wikipedia

Vintage Halloween Trinket Du Jour!

Of course, it’s not just around Halloween that I peruse Ebay for vintage Halloween trinkets, but I thought I’d share a notable one I just found from the 1930s.  Isn’t this a lovely ghost?  If you’d care to bid on it (and probably spend a fortune, I would reckon), you can do sohere.

Morbid Fact Du Jour For September 28, 2017

Today’s Glandular Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Serge Abrahamovitch Voronoff (July 10, 1866 – September 3, 1951) was a French surgeon of Russian extraction who gained fame for his technique of grafting monkey testicle tissue onto the testicles of men for purportedly therapeutic purposes while working in France in the 1920s and 1930s. The technique brought him a great deal of money, although he was already independently wealthy. As his work fell out of favour, he went from being highly respected to a subject of ridicule. Other doctors, and the public at large, quickly distanced themselves from Voronoff, pretending they had never had any interest in the grafting techniques. By the time of his death in 1951 at the age of 85, few newspapers noted his passing, and those that did acted as if Voronoff had always been ridiculed for his beliefs.

Serge Voronoff, Himself.

In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, trends in xenotransplantation included the work of Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard. In 1889, Voronoff injected himself under the skin with extracts from ground-up dog and guinea pig testicles. These experiments failed to produce the desired results of increased hormonal effects to retard aging.

Voronoff’s experiments launched from this starting point. He believed glandular transplants would produce more sustained effects than mere injections. Voronoff’s early experiments in this field included transplanting thyroid glands from chimpanzees to humans with thyroid deficiencies. He moved on to transplanting the testicles of executed criminals into millionaires, but, when demand outstripped supply, he turned to using monkey testicle tissue instead.

In 1917, Voronoff began being funded by Evelyn Bostwick, a wealthy American socialite and the daughter of Jabez Bostwick. The money allowed him to begin transplantation experiments on animals. Bostwick also acted as his laboratory assistant at the Collège de France in Paris, and consequently became the first woman admitted to that institution. They married in 1920.

Between 1917 and 1926, Voronoff carried out over five hundred transplantations on sheep and goats, and also on a bull, grafting testicles from younger animals to older ones. Voronoff’s observations indicated that the transplantations caused the older animals to regain the vigor of younger animals. He also considered monkey-gland transplantation an effective treatment to counter senility.

His first official transplantation of a monkey gland into a human took place on June 12, 1920. Thin slices (a few millimetres wide) of testicles from chimpanzees and baboons were implanted inside the patient’s scrotum, the thinness of the tissue samples allowing the foreign tissue to fuse with the human tissue eventually. By 1923, 700 of the world’s leading surgeons at the International Congress of Surgeons in London, England, applauded the success of Voronoff’s work in the “rejuvenation” of old men.

In his book Rejuvenation by Grafting (1925), Voronoff describes what he believes are some of the potential effects of his surgery. While “not an aphrodisiac”, he admits the sex drive may be improved. Other possible effects include better memory, the ability to work longer hours, the potential for no longer needing glasses (due to improvement of muscles around the eye), and the prolonging of life. Voronoff also speculates that the grafting surgery might be beneficial to people with “dementia praecox”, the mental illness known today as schizophrenia.

Voronoff’s monkey-gland treatment was in vogue in the 1920s.. The poet E. E. Cummings sang of a “famous doctor who inserts monkeyglands in millionaires”, and Chicago surgeon Max Thorek, for whom the Thorek Hospital and Medical Center is named, recalled that soon, “fashionable dinner parties and cracker barrel confabs, as well as sedate gatherings of the medical élite, were alive with the whisper – ‘Monkey Glands’.”

14-year-old boy after having an ape thyroid gland grafted onto his own; and same boy at age 15. From Serge Voronoff’s book Life: A Study of the Means of Restoring (1920)

By the early 1930s, over 500 men had been treated in France by his rejuvenation technique (including Voronoff’s younger brother Georges), and thousands more around the world, such as in a special clinic set up in Algiers. Noteworthy people who had the surgery included Harold McCormick, chairman of the board of International Harvester Company. To cope with the demand for the operation, Voronoff set up his own monkey farm on the Italian Riviera, employing a former circus-animal keeper to run it. French-born U.S. coloratura soprano Lily Pons was a frequent visitor to the farm. With his growing wealth, Voronoff occupied the whole of the first floor of one of Paris’s most expensive hotels, surrounded by a retinue of chauffeurs, valets, personal secretaries and two mistresses.

Voronoff’s later work included transplants of monkey ovaries into women. He also tried the reverse experiment, transplanting a human ovary into a female monkey, and then tried to inseminate the monkey with human sperm. The notoriety of this experiment resulted in the novel Nora, la guenon devenue femme (Nora, the Monkey Turned Woman) by Félicien Champsaur. In 1934, he was the first to officially recognize scientific work done by Greek Professor Skevos Zervos.

Voronoff’s experiments ended following pressure from a skeptical scientific community and a change in public opinion. It became clear that Voronoff’s operations did not produce any of the results he claimed.

In his book The Monkey Gland Affair, David Hamilton, an experienced transplant surgeon, discusses how animal tissue inserted into a human would not be absorbed, but instantly rejected. At best, it would result in scar tissue, which might fool a person into believing the graft is still in place. Interestingly, this means the many patients who received the surgery and praised Voronoff were “improved” solely by the placebo effect.

Part of the basis of Voronoff’s work was that testicles are glands, much like the thyroid and adrenal glands. Voronoff believed that at some point, scientists would discover what substance the testicular glands secrete, making grafting surgery unnecessary.

Eventually, it was determined that the substance emitted by the testicles is testosterone. Voronoff expected that this new discovery would prove his theories. Testosterone would be injected into animals and they would grow young, strong, and virile. Experiments were performed, and this was not the case. Besides an increase in some secondary sexual characteristics, testosterone injections did little. Testosterone did not prolong life, as Voronoff expected. In the 1940s, Dr. Kenneth Walker, an eminent British surgeon, dismissed Voronoff’s treatment as “no better than the methods of witches and magicians.”

Culled from: Wikipedia


Vintage Cocktail: The Monkey Gland

So I have this book called Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails that I’m slowly drinking my way through and today’s cocktail turned out to be a Prohibition-Era masterpiece entitled The Monkey Gland – which is how I ended up learning about Voronoff’s work.  Apparently, in the 20’s, there was even a song called “Made a Monkey Out of Me” (linked below) – all about the monkey gland surgery.  I have to say that the Monkey Gland cocktail is delicious – if you like orange and licorice. And, indeed, I do!

1 1/2 oz dry gin (I used Few – not sure if that’s actually considered a “dry” gin or not, but it’s what I had)
1 1/2 oz orange juice (fresh squeezed, baby!)
1 teaspoon real pomegranate grenadine (I used Stirrings)
1 teaspoon absinthe or pastis (I used Amerique 1912 absinthe)

Shake vigorously in an iced cocktail shaker, and strain into a small cocktail glass.

“Made a Monkey Out of Me”

“Understand it was a monkey gland that made a monkey out of me.”

Morbid Fact Du Jour for September 24, 2017

Today’s Leathery Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Let’s have another jolly story of Christian Martyrdom from the classic of the genre, Fox’s Book of Martyrs (1848).  This incident allegedly occurred during the Seventh Persecution, under Decius in A. D. 249:

Julian, a native of Cilicia, as we are informed by St. Chrysostom, was seized upon for being a christian. He was put into a leather bag, together with a number of serpents and scorpions, and in that condition thrown into the sea.

Don’t you just love that there’s an illustration for this one? 

Culled from: Fox’s Book of Martyrs
Generously suggested by: Louise

Irma’s Baby Blue Gift

The hurricanes in the south have been horrible for the people and animals that live there, of course. But there is one upside for the morbidly minded: your chances of finding a beautifully dressed corpse reclining in a coffin in your front yard increases exponentially! Such as this one that was discovered after Irma passed through the Florida Keys:

“Somewhere on Big Pine Key’s Avenue B, a casket lay popped open, its lid filled with water and a long-time occupant still inside, dressed in a baby blue suit. 

“By mid-week, workmen were busy using cranes to right fallen mausoleums at the Dean Lopez funeral home’s Memorial Garden of the Keys across the highway from where the corpse was found. Doors to mausoleum drawers were missing or broken and the grounds were covered in crushed tree limbs.

“A man who identified himself as an employee of the funeral home confirmed that the coffin with its unidentified blue-suited remains had originated in one of the cemetery’s granite mausoleum drawers. It’s now back in its proper resting place.”

It Was Supposed To Be His Final Resting Place. Then Hurricane Irma Struck the Keys.

The Miami-Herald censored the photograph, but diligent morbid enthusiast Jim L. Bussey II hunted them down on Facebook so you can see the stunning suit in all its moldy glory.  Has to be from the 70’s, right?

I’d think it was a Halloween decoration if I didn’t know better.  Actually… I think I know what my Halloween costume is going to be this year! If I can find a baby blue suit, that is… 

Morbid Fact Du Jour For August 29, 2017

Today’s Oddly-Inflected Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Sharp as a two-pointed pencil, young Truman Capote taught himself to read and write before entering first grade. He claimed to have written his first novel by the age of nine, and practiced at writing as diligently as others learned a musical instrument. His earliest years were spent in rural Alabama, where he was best friends with Harper Lee (author of To Kill a Mockingbird), but was moved to New York City before his teen years.  There, his remarried mother sent him to a military school for a while to toughen him up in the hope of making him more masculine. Truman, however, was the type that seemed to his mother genetically born gay, a fact she took so seriously that she aborted two following pregnancies, afraid of giving birth to another child with his personality.  (Ouch! – DeSpair)  When Truman finished high school he was steadfastly determined to become a writer, and thought college only a waste of time. He got a job at the New Yorker cataloging cartoons, but soon made a name winning prizes and publishing short stories in other prestigious magazines. By the time he was twenty-four, his semi-autobiographical novel Other Voices, Other Roomshad made the New York Times bestseller list. As much as Capote was dedicated to perfecting his writing style, he equally obsessed with his image (in contrast to former childhood friend Harper Lee), and set out to create a public personality for himself from the start. His sexual preferences, at a time when being gay was not openly accepted, his small stature that reached an adult height of five feet four inches, and a unique, oddly inflected and high-pitched voice, would have seemed to most a detriment. Yet he capitalized on his strangeness, and considerable intellect, to make inroads and became, at least outwardly, accepted into the company of high society. Capote’s publishing success grew astronomically after the publication of Breakfast At Tiffany’s, followed by In Cold Blood, so that few could argue with his artistic genius. Noted critic John Hersey praised In Cold Blood as “a remarkable book,” and writer Norman Mailer declared Capote to be “the most perfect writer of my generation”.

Handsome Moz-like Young Truman

During the mid-sixties, he reached his heyday and considered himself the cat’s meow of the jet set when his ultra-exclusive “Black and White Ball” became a coveted invitation. He succeeded in fulfilling his obsession to be counted among the elite, though he began to realize that he was never truly considered their equal, and perhaps no more than an amusement. The notion that he was the modern-day John Merrick, “The Elephant Man,” an outsider allowed to mingle as a curiosity among the upper crust, took its toll. He drank more and more heavily and took drugs, entering numerous rehab programs while deciding to seek revenge. 

And Truman near the end…

Capote promised to write a book that would expose the secret foibles of the debutantes and dignitaries in his characteristic cuttingly crafted way. After many false promises and multiple delays in the delivery of his awaited tome, he became more and more ostracized, eventually withdrawing nearly entirely from the limelight. After a few drunken appearances on TV and more rehab, doctors determined that Capote’s brain mass was shrinking. He could no longer write coherently. In 1980, at age fifty-nine, he died during a morning nap, officially, from liver disease complicated by “multiple drug intoxication.” It seemed he had finally kicked his drinking habit, though barbiturates, Valium, anti-seizure drugs, and painkillers were found in his blood.

Culled from: Genius and Heroin: The Illustrated Catalogue of Creativity, Obsession, and Reckless Abandon Through the Ages


Truman’s End

Here’s a sad video documenting Truman’s final years, including his drunken appearance on a talk show. 

Morbid Fact Du Jour For August 26, 2017

Today’s Gluttonous Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Julien Offray de la Mettrie was a French philosopher and is credited with inventing cognitive science (defined as the “study of mental tasks and the processes that enable them to be performed”). He also wrote of the joys of materialism for materialism’s sake, authoring the book Man a Machine. Presumably, he didn’t intend the title of his book as a metaphor, since he frequently tested his body to the limits. At his last act, Offray conducted an experiment to prove the harmless effects of occasional gluttony. The philosopher was quite lean and always presented a carefree attitude, believing that life was meant for savoring one’s favorite material pleasures as they arose. At a banquet given in his honor in 1751 he found the pâte aux truffes to be so delicious that he devoured tray after tray – until he collapsed to the floor. He died the next day after suffering a high fever and delirium at age forty-one. 

“Sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll are very good indeed!”

Culled from: Genius and Heroin: The Illustrated Catalogue of Creativity, Obsession, and Reckless Abandon Through the Ages


Forthcoming Morbidity!

I was just reading about this book which will be released in October and thought it sounds absolutely fantastic!  I thought I’d share in case you might want to check it out as well?   It has been added to my Wishlist!

The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine
by Lindsey Fitzharris  
Release Date: October 17, 2017

“In The Butchering Art, the historian Lindsey Fitzharris reveals the shocking world of nineteenth-century surgery and shows how it was transformed by advances made in germ theory and antiseptics between 1860 and 1875. She conjures up early operating theaters―no place for the squeamish―and surgeons, working before anesthesia, who were lauded for their speed and brute strength. These pioneers knew that the aftermath of surgery was often more dangerous than patients’ afflictions, and they were baffled by the persistent infections that kept mortality rates stubbornly high. At a time when surgery couldn’t have been more hazardous, an unlikely figure stepped forward: a young, melancholy Quaker surgeon named Joseph Lister, who would solve the riddle and change the course of history.

“Fitzharris dramatically reconstructs Lister’s career path to his audacious claim that germs were the source of all infection and could be countered by a sterilizing agent applied to wounds. She introduces us to Lister’s contemporaries―some of them brilliant, some outright criminal―and leads us through the grimy schools and squalid hospitals where they learned their art, the dead houses where they studied, and the cemeteries they ransacked for cadavers.

“Eerie and illuminating, The Butchering Art celebrates the triumph of a visionary surgeon whose quest to unite science and medicine delivered us into the modern world.”

Morbid Fact Du Jour For August 20, 2017

Today’s Svelte Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Famed soprano Maria Callas died at age fifty-five in 1977. She made the news when she transformed her rotund figure (she was once called “monstrously fat”) into that of a svelte and sexy Diva at the height of her career, even if music critics marked her weight loss as the downturn of her vocal brilliance.  She was more interested in having fun and dated powerful men. She became a favorite of tabloid gossip when, while still married, she was seen with Aristotle Onassis, and the tabloids reveled in her anguish when he chose Jacqueline Kennedy over her. Rumors circulated that Maria kept her weight off by ingesting tapeworm larva, but she insisted it was a sensible diet and said, “I have been trying to fulfill my life as a woman.” In the end she lived isolated in Paris, unhappy in her quest for love, and acquired a taste for non-caloric Quaaludes, a sedative-like drug that gives a euphoric though rubbery-legged feeling. Officially, French officials deemed her death was due to “undisclosed causes,” though they cited a heart attack when pressed by the media. Others claimed she was murdered for her sizable estate. A note written by Callas was found near her body, though it raised only more questions about her final state of mind. She borrowed a line from the suicide scene in the opera La Giacanda: “In these proud moments.”

“Monstrously Fat” Callas (she looks fine to me!)

And Callas with Onassis in 1964.

Culled from: Genius and Heroin: The Illustrated Catalogue of Creativity, Obsession, and Reckless Abandon Through the Ages


Morbid Art Du Jour!

Kevin Weir makes delightfully creepy animated gifs that combine vintage photos with his own wicked imagination.  His blog is well worth meandering through.  (Thanks to Michael Landsman for the link.)

Flux Machine