02 November 2012

Lizzie Bordon

Lizzie Bordon was born on 19 July 1860. She had a relatively religious upbringing, attending Central Congregational Church; after high school she taught Sunday school to immigrant children and was the secretary-treasurer of the Christian Endeavor Society. She was also involved with social movements such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and was a member of the Ladies Fruit and Flower Mission.

Her father, Andrew Borden, was a successful property developer.and directed several textile mills including the Globe Yarn Mill Company, Troy Cotton and Woolen Manufacturing Company, and he owned considerable commercial property, as well as was both president of the Union Savings Bank and a director of the Durfee Safe Deposit and Trust Co

In 1865, her mother, Sarah Borden, died and her father remarried to Abby Gray, who had a daughter named Emma. Lizzie referred to her stepmother as "Mrs Borden" instead of "mother". The Bordens rarely ate meals together. Andrew upset Lizzie in May 1892 when he killed one of Lizzie's pigeons wih an axe because he believed it was attracting intruders. The following month, a family argument led to the two sisters taking extended vacations.

Tension had been growing in the family in late July 1892, especially over Andrew's gifts to various branches of the family. After Abby's relatives received a house, the sisters demanded and received a rental property, which they later sold back to their father for cash. For several days afterward, the entire household had been violently ill. The family doctor blamed food left on the stove for use in meals over several days, but Abby had feared poisoning, as Andrew Borden had not been popular.

On August 4, 1892, Andrew Borden breakfasted with his wife and made his usual rounds of the bank and post office, returning about 10:45 am. The Bordens' maid, Bridget Sullivan, testified that she was in her third-floor room, resting from cleaning windows, when just before 11:10 am she heard Lizzie call out, "Maggie, come quick! Father's dead. Somebody came in and killed him."

Andrew was slumped on a couch in the downstairs sitting room, struck ten or eleven times with a hatchet. One of his eyeballs had been split cleanly in two, suggesting he had been asleep when attacked. Soon after, as neighbors and doctors tended Lizzie, Sullivan discovered Abby Borden in the upstairs guest bedroom, her skull crushed by nineteen blows.Police found a hatchet in the basement which, though free of blood, was missing most of its handle. Lizzie was arrested on August 11.

The victims' heads were removed during autopsy and the skulls were shown as evidence during Borden's trial (Borden fainted upon seeing her father and stepmother's skulls)

On 20 June 1893,a jury acquitted Lizzie Borden of the murders. Despite the acquittal, Lizzie was ostracized by her community. Her name was again brought into the public eye when she was accused of shoplifting in 1897. Soon after, Lizzie began using the name Lizbeth A. Borden.

Lizzie Borden died of pneumonia on 1 June 1927.

The murders were turned into a popular nursery rhyme:

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.

Lizzie Borden

01 November 2012


When asked when Nintendo was founded, most people will say either the 1970s or 1980s. They would be shocked to learn that one of the biggest video game companies was founded long before televisions were even a thought.

Founded 23 September 1889 (that's right, eighteen eighty-nine) by Fusajiro Yamauchi, Nintendo Koppai started out as a card company in Kyoto, Japan, specializing in a card game called Hanafuda. Despite switching to video games, the company still makes these cards, and in fact even makes a special Mario-themed set.

In 1956, Yamauchi's grandson, Hiroshi Yamauchi, visited the United States to talk with the United States Playing Card Company. While there, he found that the world's largest card manufacturer was being run out of a small office. That's when he realized that the card playing industry was very limiting. He gained access to use Disney characters on the Nintendo cards to help expand the company.

In 1963, the company started experimenting in other areas to attempt to expand the company in new ways, including a taxi company, a love hotel chain, a TV network, a food company (selling instant rice, similar to instant noodles) and several other things. All of these ventures failed. In 1966, they tried making toys, such as the Ultra Hand. Even though it was successful, the company was struggling to make enough to satisfy the demand.

In 1974, Nintendo obtained the rights to distribute a new product called a video game console, specifically, the Magnavox Odyssey. In 1977, a student product developer named Shigeru Miyamoto was hired by Nintendo. He changed Nintendo's future in 1981 when he made a little game called Donkey Kong. The previous year, 1980, Nintendo had released it's very own game console, called the Family Computer, or "Famicom". In North America, the console is known as the Nintendo Entertainment System, or "NES".

And the rest, they say, is history.

31 October 2012

The Two Lon Chaneys

Lon Chaney Sr. was born 1 April 1883 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Both his parents were deaf, and because of this he learned pantomime. He started traveling with popular Vaudeville acts in 1902. In 1905 he met and married singer Cleva Creighton, and the following year they had their first only son, Lon Chaney Jr.

The three of them moved and settled in California. In April 1913, marital problems started and one day Cleva went to the theatre where Lon was managing a show, and attempted suicide. The attempt failed, and the ensuing scandal and divorce forced Lon out of the theatre and into the motion picture industry.

From 1912 - 1917,  Lon was under contract with Universal Pictures, doing bit parts. His skills with makeup earned him many parts. In 1915, he married Hazel Hastings, a former colleague from the show he ran before.

By 1917, Lon Chaney was a very well-known actor, though his salary didn't reflect this. When he asked for a raise, studio executive William Sistrom replied, "You'll never be worth more than one hundred dollars a week."

Chaney appeared in 14 films between 1917 and 1919, all of them he starred alongside with Dorothy Phillips, and William Stowell as a team, and usually directed by husband/wife team Joe De Grasse and Ida May Park. This lasted until 24 November 1919, when Stowell was in the caboose of a train when it was hit by the locomotive from another train, killing him instantly.

Later that year, Chaney would star as "The Frog" in "The Frog" in George Loane Tucker's The Miracle Man. Not only did it show how talented he was as an actor, but also his skill with makeup. He quickly became one of America's favourite character actors. starring in a number of films, and earning the nickname "The Man of a Thousand Faces". In 1923, Chaney would play the tole of Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and in 1925 he played Erik (or "The Phantom") in The Phantom of the Opera, two of the most grotesquely deformed characters in film history. Both were done with Chaney's skills with makeup.

In late 1929, he was working on a film called Thunder when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. On 26 August 1930, Lon Chaney died.

From the time he was a child, Lon Chaney Jr. had to work hard to get out from under his father's shadow, who always discouraged him going into show business. It wasn't until his father died in 1930 that Jr. started his acting career in an uncredited roll in a 1933 film titled Girl Crazy. In 1939, he starred in Of Mice and Men. When he starred in One Million B. C., Jr. began being viewed as a character actor in the same league as his father.

The following year, 1941, he starred in what would be his signature role, The Wolf Man. After that film, be starred in a number of classic Universal Monster films, including further Wolf Man movies.

He starred in a long list of films over the years, until he was doing low budget films and making guest appearances on The Monkees.

Lan Chaney Jr. died on throat cancer on 12 July 1973.

Lon Chaney Sr. and Jr. are survived by sr.s great-grandson and Jr.'s grandson, Ron Chaney, who rums Chaney Entertainment, and attends film conventions and talks about his great-grandfather's and grandfather's careers.

30 October 2012


[Note: I will simply give you the info I have and let you decide for yourself what you think, Also, just because I include a conspiracy does not mean I believe it. It only means I find it interesting enough to include.]

Nixon murdered Joplin and Hendrix

I was originally only going to post about this tonight, but while I was researching it, I came across more things and decided to make this a collection of conspiracies. According to this one, President Richard Nixon was afraid to not be re-elected, so he has some high profile musicians followed and tapped. He didn't like the messages that Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix were spreading to voters, so he had their drinks poisoned. This sounds like a ridiculous rumour, and probably is, considering that when Joplin and Hendrix died (1970), there wasn't an election in sight (Nixon started his term the previous year). Although it is true that some high profile musicians were watched, it's unlikely they would have been killed, much less by order of the President. If anything they would have been detained.

Jim Morrison faked his death and is still alive today

On 3 July 1971 the lead singer of The Doors, Jim Morrison, was found dead in a Paris apartment bathtub. No autopsy was conducted, and because of this many theories have popped up over the years. The biggest one is that he never died, but faked his death. He has even been found, supposedly. Of course, the same has been said of Michael Jackson.

Enhanced photo proves Grassy Knoll

Everyone knows the story of the Kennedy Assassination. There have been a thousand conspiracy theories made about it. In fact, the Wikipedia article for the conspiracies I linked just now is longer than the Wikipedia article about the actual event I linked before it. But the one that seems to stick around is that there was a second gunman on the Grassy Knoll. This is one I actually do believe. The evidence speaks for itself. If Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK from behind, why did the bullet enter from the front and the back of his head explode like that? Anyway, a photo from that day has been enhanced to reveal what many believe to be proof of the shooter in the Grassy Knoll. Known as Badge Man, a figure of a person behind a puff of smoke is clearly visible.

29 October 2012


No, I didn't put random letters as the title of this post. The Erhu (or 二胡) is a traditional Chinese musical instrument, and the sound you think of when you think of Chinese music. It's a 2-string bowed instrument that Westerners often refer to as the "Chinese fiddle". A traditional Chinese instrument, it's also used in contemporary music.

The Erhu can be traced back over a thousand years, and were made of python skin and silk strings. In the 20th century, steel strings gradually became the professional way. In 1988, China severely regulated the use of python skin, as the snakes were becoming endangered. From 1 January 2005 onward, each Erhu made had to be certified as using farm-raised python skin and not wild python skin.

This makes them be very expensive. A few months back I looked into buying one, and the cheapest real one I found was over $300. Just the cloth to clean it was over $50. I became interested in the instrument last year, when I visited San Francisco in July 2011. I was walking through Chinatown when I saw someone playing one. It was something I had never seen before, and although I grew up hearing the music of China, I had never heard the instrument live in person, or even knew what made that sound. I was able to take a picture of the person playing it.

Here is a video that explains more

28 October 2012

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

In the 1920s, an unknown animator known as Walter Disney made a series of animated/live action shorts known as the Alice Comedies, which were based upon Alice in Wonderland. From 1923 to 1927, Disney and his business partner, Ub Iwerks, made 57 Alice shorts. But in 1927, the two decided to end the series due to the rising costs and technical limitations.

Around this time, Universal Pictures wanted to start making and releasing animations. Disney and Iwerks decided to make an animated character that they could sell to Universal. What they came up with was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Disney and Iwerks signed a contract with Universal and Oswald became Universal's first animated series. On 5 September 1927, the first Oswald short was released, titled Trolley Troubles.

In the spring of 1928, Disney traveled to New York City to attempt to negotiate a more profitable contract. As the economy was already in a slump at the time, Universal cancelled Disney's contract. As Universal owned the rights to Oswald, Disney wasn't allowed to keep him, even though he created him and drew the shorts himself.

On the train ride back home, Disney and Iwerks brainstormed to find a new character they could use. By the time they made it back home, they had came up with the idea of a mouse named Mortimer Mouse. When Disney told his wife, she said that name didn't sound pleasant at all, and suggested naming him Mickey Mouse.

Meanwhile, Universal continued using Oswald, even making a sound short in 1929, until 1951, as a cameo in a Woody Woodpecker short.

In February 2006, Disney CEO Bob Iger and Universal agreed on a trade. Disney gave ESPN Sportscaster Al Michaels to NBC Sports, and in exchange Universal gave Disney the rights to Oswald, including the rights to the shorts Disney has worked on. Disney's daughter, Diane Disney Miller had this to say about the exchange:

"When Bob was named CEO, he told me he wanted to bring Oswald back to Disney, and I appreciate that he is a man of his word. Having Oswald around again is going to be a lot of fun."

Al Michaels, who Disney traded for Oswald, had this to say:

"Oswald is definitely worth more than a fourth-round draft choice. I'm going to be a trivia answer someday."

In 2010, Oswald was one of the main protagonists in the video game Epic Mickey, as leader of forgotten cartoon characters.

Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

27 October 2012

The Pied Piper of Hamelin

"With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls,
Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter."

 -from "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" by Robert Browning

Most of us grew up hearing the story of The Pied Piper, about how a village was suffering from a rat problem until the Pied Piper offered to rid them of the problem, which he did by playing his magic flute. When he went to receive his payment, the villagers refused. So, to get back at the villagers, he used his magic flute to make their children follow him out of the village to hide in a cave until the villagers agreed to pay him. This is the story I heard as a kid, although I have heard other variations over the years.

But what if I were to tell you that the fairy tale was actually a true story?

In 1285, the German village of Hamlin had a serious rat problem. A mysterious man appeared one day, many believe him to have been Nicholas of Cologne, offering to rid the village of their rats. He made an agreement with the mayor of Hamelin that he would get paid if he rid the village of their rats. It is said that he used his flute (whether magical or just really good at playing, I'll leave that for you to decide) and lured the rats into the Weser River. When the Piper went to the mayor for his payment, the mayor refused to pay him, denying they had an agreement.

That night, 26 June 1284, the Piper used his flute to lure the 130 village children out of the village. What happened next has been left out of most versions of the tale and replaced with a happy ending. The Piper led most of the children to the same river he led the rats to, and had those children drown themselves. The few who he didn't drown, he took to the top of Koppelberg Hill and had his way with them, killing them when he was done.

However, one child was able to get away, and told the villagers what was happening. By the time they caught up with the Piper, it was too late.

Mordern-day Hamelin holds reenactments every Sunday in the summer.

26 October 2012

Corn Flakes

The story of Corn Flakes dates back to the late 1800s. A group of Seventh-Day Adventists were creating new foods to tie in with their vegetarian diets the church made them do. Most of them experimented with a number of different grains, including wheat, oats, rice, barley, and corn. In 1864, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg used some of those experiments on some of his patients.

One day, he and his brother, John Keith Kellogg, left some wheat to cook while they ran some errands, and returned to find that the wheat had overcooked and gone stale. As they had a low budget, they decided that instead of discarding the mess, they would put go ahead and process it and see what happened. To their surprise, what came out was flakes, which they served to their patients. This on 8 August 1894, and a patent for "Flaked Cereals and Process of Preparing Same" was filed on 31 May 1895, and issued on 14 April 1896.

The product became very popular among the patients, and shortly afterward, the brothers began experimenting with other grains. They soon formed their own company to market their product, they originally named their company Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, which was later renamed Kellogg's.

The mascot of Kellogg's Corn Flakes is Cornelius "Corny" Rooster. In early adverts, his catchphrase would be, "Wake up, up, up to Kellogg's Cornflakes!", but later on he stopped talking and simply crowed.

One of the former patients of Dr. Kellogg was C. W. Post, who later went on to form a rival company for Kellogg's by selling the original Corn Flakes knockoff, Post Toasties.

25 October 2012


I am too tired to think clearly enough to write a post tonight, so here is a BBC documentary on stupidity. I'll do a regular post tomorrow.

Warning: This video may be unsuitable for some people. If you have a weak stomach, heart problems, or are offended easily, I don't recommend you watch this.

24 October 2012

Darby Crash

Born Jan Paul Beahm on 26 September 1958, Darby Crash had a bad start in life. When he was young, his older brother died of a drug overdose, and he spent a large part of his life believing his father had left them. He found out in his teens that his father was really a Swedish sailor. Crash lived with his mother most of his life. Accounts of this time of his life show that his mother was possibly mentally ill, often verbally abusing Crash.

In his school years, he attended a program call Innovative Program School (IPS), where students were allowed to form their own classes. He and his bestfriend, Pat Smear (born Georg Ruthenberg) formed a class for themselves call "Fruit Eating" where they would go to the market, eat fruit for an hour, then return to the school. Over time, the two became frequent users of LSD, and soon had a following of students who would also use the drug. The two were accused of brainwashing students, so they were dismissed from the school in 1976.

Shortly afterward, the two tried forming their own band. They originally wished to call it "Sophistifuck and the Revlon Spam Queens", but they couldn't afford to have the full name printed on a shirt, so they settled for calling themselves the much shorter name of The Germs. At the time, only Smear was good at an instrument. The band can be seen in the 1981 film, "The Decline of Western Civilization". They quickly became known around Los Angeles for their chaotic shows. Onstage they had a ritual called a “Germs burn."  Crash would put out a cigarette on some lucky fan's arm, scaring them with the mark of his band.

The Germs split up in 1979, and soon after Crash moved to England, where he began using heroin. But he moved back to America, where he formed the unsuccessful Darby Crash Band. Shortly afterward, his new band split up, and he fell into a depression. He decided that the only way he would become a rock legend now was to commit suicide, which he did.

Darby Crash committed suicide on 7 December 1980. The very next day, former Beatle John Lennon was assassinated, which took up the headlines that Crash's death would have occupied, so it went largely unnoticed.

Pat Smear later went on to play guitar in the band Nirvana, whose lead singer, Kurt Cobainalso committed suicide. He currently play guitar for the band Foo Fighters.

In 2007, a biopic about Crash's life was made titled What We Do Is Secret.

Darby Crash

23 October 2012

The Unsinkable Violet Jessop

Some people are just plain lucky. Violet Jessop is one of these people. Born on 2 October 1887 in Argentina, she was the first of nine children, but only six survived. When she was very young, she contracted Tuberculosis. The doctor said she wasn't going to make it, but Violet proved at that early age that she is one of the few born lucky and proved him wrong.

After her father passed away, she and her family moved to Great Britain, where she attended college until her mother became ill, when she left college to become a stewardess on a luxurious liner, the RMS Olympic, the largest passenger liner at that time. Violet Jessop boarded the liner on 14 June 1911. On 20 September, Olympic collided with a cruiser, the HMS Hawke. Olympic was able to make it back to port, where the liner was blamed for the incident.

On 10 April 1912, Violet boarded Olympic's sister ship, the RMS Titanic. Four days later, Titanic collided with an iceberg. Violet later said she was ordered to go on deck to set a good example for the non-English speaking passengers. She was then ordered into a lifeboat, where she was handed a baby. Later that night, hours after Titanic sank, the survivors in the lifeboats were rescued by the RMS Carpathia. While on deck, a woman ran up to her, snatched the baby, and ran off without a word.

During World War I, Violet worked for the British Red Cross, and in 1916, she worked on board the hospital ship, and also sister ship of both Olympic and Titanic, HMHS Britannic. On 21 November 1916, Britannic ran into a mine and because all the portholes were open at the time, sank rather quickly. While it was sinking, Violet's lifeboat was heading towards a propeller, so she jumped out. When she did that, she got pulled underwater and bumped her head on the keel of the ship, underneath. She later said that her thick auburn hair provided a bit if a cushion and saved her life.

Despite being involved in three mishaps with their ships, Violet continued working for the White Star Line for years afterward, retiring in 1950. Years after her retirement, she received a phone call from a woman asking if she, Violet Jessop, rescued a baby on the Titanic during the sinking. When Violet replied that she had, the voice on the other end replied, "I was that baby" and hung up. Her biographer said it was probably some local children out for a laugh, but Violet said, "No, John, I had never told that story to anyone before I told you now."

Clearly, one of the luckiest people to ever live. Violet Jessop died of congestive heart failure on 5 May 1971 at the age of 83.

Violet Jessop

22 October 2012

The Mysterious Death of Thomas H. Ince

On Saturday, 15 November 1924, the yacht of American newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, set sail from San Pedro, California. It was carrying Hearst, his mistress Marion Davies, actor Charlie Chaplin, actor Thomas H. Ince, among several others. They were celebrating Ince's 42nd birthday, but ironically he was late.

While on the boat, he had a bit of indigestion and was taken off the boat by water taxi to San Diego. After being treated for what was believed to be a heart attack, he was taken back to his home in Hollywood. On 19 November 1924, he died.

His personal physician signed the death certificate, saying that heart failure was the official cause of death. But the Los Angles Times' front page read '"Movie Producer Shot on Hearst Yacht!", which were pulled from shelves within hours of publication. Ince's body was quickly cremated, then his widow immediately flew to Europe.

Several rumours soon sprang up, including one that Davies and Chaplin were secretly lovers, and Hearst walked in on them, when he let out a shout, waking Ince, who walked in and accidentally stepped in front of Chaplin as Hearst was about to shoot him. Another popular rumour is that Ince and Davies were together on deck, when Ince, who was prone to ulcers, bent double from the pain. Then Hearst walked in and,  assuming the worst, pulled out his gun. Yet another rumour tells of a story of unnamed passengers below deck struggling over a gun, when it accidentally fired, shooting through the plywood floor, and into Ince's room.

Chaplin's secretary added to the rumours by telling newspapers that he witnessed Ince being brought ashore and that he was bleeding from the head. He told his wife what he saw, and the story spread throughout Beverly Hills. Whether it was murder or accident, the stories spread. It got to the point that a month later the San Diego District Attorney's office had to take action.

The DA only talked to the doctor who brought Ince ashore, Dr. Daniel Goodman,who said that Ince got sick on the train and he had another doctor look at him.

Rumours flew up around the guests who were present that night. Chaplin later denied even being there, and claimed that Ince died two weeks later, when in fact he had died less than 48 hours later. Davies made things more confusing for people by never acknowledging that Chaplin was there.

So how did Thomas Ince die? Was it natural causes? Was he murdered? If it was natural, why the rush to cremate his body? If it was murder, why didn't any of the doctors examining his body notice a gunshot wound? It looks like we'll never know.

Thomas H. Ince

21 October 2012

If It's Not Cheese, What Is It?

I was in a Skype group call with some of my British friends, and we began talking about cheeses. I told them mine expired in September of 2013, and they didn't believe me because "cheese doesn't last more than a couple weeks". So I took and sent them this photo...

...to which they were horrified. When I read them the ingredients, they said that it wasn't cheese, or even edible.

It wasn't just the cheese. Meats here in America last roughly ten times longer than they do in the UK. As do other things such as fruits and vegetables.

According to Wikipedia:

"American cheese is a processed cheese. It is orange, yellow, or white in color and mild in flavor, with a medium-firm consistency, and melts easily. American cheese was originally only white, but is sometimes now modified to yellow. In the past, it was made from a blend of cheeses, most often Colby and Cheddar. Today’s American cheese is generally no longer made from blended cheeses, but instead is manufactured from a set of ingredients[1] such as milk, whey, milkfat, milk protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate, and salt."

So not only is it not cheese, it's not edible. But if's it's not cheese, what are we eating? And why are we eating it? Why do Europeans get sick when they visit America and eat our food? Is it because all of our foods are processed and fake? Why do they put fake foods out? That's just gross and unhealthy. I've been trying to eat healthier, but it's next to impossible to find actually healthy things that are affordable. The fake, processed foods are all affordable, but anything that could be healthy are too expensive. You could get maybe one or two things, but not enough to make much of a different in your health.

One month I was like "screw it" and spent all my money on nothing but healthy foods. I was able to eat completely healthy for a full week and a half. I got sick at first because I was literally going through a detox because of a lifetime of junk. Then I felt better than I had in....as long as i could remember. I stopped getting headaches, and I just generally felt better.

Then that ran out and I had to go back to junk food (read: American food), and I've felt like crap since. Funny thing is that I feel the same as I did before I got the healthy foods, I just didn't notice it before until I ate healthy.

Why do they do this to us?

This picture is intended for humour, but it's also pretty accurate

20 October 2012

The Sad Life of Edgar Allen Poe

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were — I have not seen
As others saw — I could not bring
My passions from a common spring —
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow — I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone —
And all I lov'd — I lov'd alone —

-from Alone by Edgar Allen Poe

Many of us know Edgar Allen Poe as the writer of such works as The Raven, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, and The Masque of the Red Death. But not many people realize that his darkest story was his own.

Edgar Poe was born on 19 January 1809 in Boston. His parents were traveling actors, and he was the second child three children. When he was 3 years old, both his parents died suddenly, and he was taken to live with a wealthy tobacco merchant in Richmond, Virginia named John Allen, who raised Edgar to be a businessman. but Edgar wished to be a writer, like his hero, British poet Lord Byron. By the age of 13, Edgar had written enough poetry to compile into a book, but his headmaster advised Mr. Allen to not let him do it.

In 1826, Edgar attended the University of Virginia, but was already in debt. Mr. Allen only gave him about a third of the money he needed to cover the cost of his schooling, so he took up gambling to pay off some of his debt. By the end of the first year, he was so poor he had to burn furniture for warmth. In his anger at Mr. Allen for not providing enough funds to get him through school, he returned to the home of his fiancee, only to find she was engaged to someone else. He spent the next few months in the Allen home, until one day the two of them fought so much that Edgar just walked out, and decided to pursue becoming a great poet. He set out looking for adventure.

By the age of 18, he had accomplished the first goal by publishing Tamerlane. To accomplish the second goal, he decided to enlist in the United States Navy. But before he could, he got word that Mrs. Allen, the only mother he ever knew, was sick, so he made his way to go see her. By the time he made it back, she was already dead and buried. Edgar was heartbroken, but in their grief, Poe and Allen made up and Allen helped him get into West Point. Before he entered West Point, he published a second book of poems.

The feud between Edgar and Mr. Allen came back when Edgar got word that he had remarried without telling him first. He wrote to Allen letting him know how deeply offended he was, and said he would get himself thrown out of West Point, which he did. But he went on to publish a third book. Broke and alone, Edgar went to Baltimore to find some of his father's family. While there, he was robbed by his cousin. His Aunt Maria Clemm became a new mother figure to him. Her daughter (his cousin), Virginia, soon became a love interest of his.

While Edgar was in Baltimore, Mr. Allen passed away. He left Edgar out of his will, yet included an illegitimate child he'd never seen. By this time, Edgar was in poverty, but was also selling his short stories, and even won a contest by a local magazine. Because of that, he was able to get contacts on the inside that would later help him write more stories and poems. He soon landed a job at a magazine, The Messenger. Within a year, he had made that magazine one of the most popular in the South because of his stories and also for his book reviews. He was quickly getting a reputation for being ruthless in his reviewing, not only insulting the books but also insulting the author's themselves.

At the age of 27, Edgar married Virginia, his cousin, who wasn't even 14 yet. It was well-known that they were a happy family who loved to sing at night. Soon, Edgar became unhappy with his low pay and lack of editorial control at The Messenger, so he moved to New York. There, he had problems finding magazine work due to the Panic of 1837. As he was unable to find work, he published The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, his only completed novel. A year later, he moved to Philadelphia, where he worked for several different magazines of a long period of time.

Always in search of better opportunities, Poe moved to New York again in 1844 and introduced himself to the city by perpetrating a hoax. His “news story” of a balloon trip across the ocean caused a sensation, and the public rushed to read everything about it—until Poe revealed that he had fooled them all. In January of 1845, he published The Raven,which made him famous enough to draw large crowds when he did lectures or other events. He published two books that year, and briefly lived his dream of running his own magazine.

However, that failed to work out. His wife’s health was deteriorating,, and rumors spread about him having a relationship with a married woman, drove him out of the city. At this time he moved to a tiny cottage in the country. It was there, in the winter of 1847 that Virginia died at the age of 24, after only 10 years of marriage. Edgar was devastated, and was unable to write for months. His critics assumed he would soon be dead. They were right. Poe only lived another two years and spent much of that time traveling from one city to the next giving lectures and finding backers for his latest proposed magazine project.

Edgar Allen Poe died on 7 October 1849. The cause of his death remains unknown. Even though he is arguably the most famous poet who ever lived, he died penniless, homeless, and depressed.

Edgar Allen Poe

19 October 2012

The Tungusaka Event

You're walking in the middle of the woods along a river. It's nice, and peaceful. It looks perfect. Nothing could ever ruin this for you. Except for maybe an energy blast the equivalent of 30 megatons of TNT leveling everything for hundreds of miles.

Luckily, no one was injured when The Tunguska Event occurred in remote Russia on 30 June 1908.The witnesses saw a blueish light in the sky, followed by a bright flash and the sound of "artillery fire", which produced a shockwave strong enough to knock people over and shatter windows. One eyewitness would later go on to say, "When the sky opened up, hot wind raced between the houses, like from cannons, which left traces in the ground like pathways, and it damaged some crops. Later we saw that many windows were shattered, and in the barn a part of the iron lock snapped."

Because of the isolation of the area, little interest was sparked by this unusual event at the time. The first recorded attempt to investigate it was many years later, in 1921.

The cause of the event is believed to have been an exploding comet or asteroid as it entered Earth's atmosphere. In the '70s a couple physicists believed that it may have been caused by a small black hole passing through Earth, although this theory is considered by many to be flawed. A Science Fiction writer in the '40s wrote a story titled "The Explosion" which blamed the event on aliens.

Below is a map indicating the effected area

Below are a couple photos of the damage

18 October 2012

Edison Kills An Elephant

We all know Thomas Edison, world renounced for all his inventions, and also for being the reason not many people talk about  Nikola Tesla. The two were constant competitors. Edison wanted the world to use his Direct Current (DC) instead of Tesla's Alternate Current "AC", so to prove to the public how "unsafe" Tesla's idea was, he got an idea. . .

Topsy the Elephant was an elephant who part of the attractions at Coney Island. Because she had killed some people, including her abusive trainer, she was sentenced to death by hanging, because apparently they used to do that. But Edison requested that they use Tesla's AC, while he filmed it.

On 4 January 1903, Topsy was killed using 6,600 volts of AC electricity

Even though it only proved how sick and twisted Edison was, the public wanted nothing more to do with Tesla's AC current, and we've been using the current of a psychopath ever since.

Tesla ended up eating crackers and talking to imaginary birds.

Below is the disturbing video Mr. Psychopath made that day.

17 October 2012

The Gerber Baby

Who is the Berber Baby, the world-famous photo of the baby on the label of every Gerber product?

Rumours have flown around that it was the image of actor Humphrey Bogart as a baby. But, according to Snopes, this is false. So what is the true story of the baby seen around the world?

In 1928, Gerber, then a new company who made canned fruits and vegetable, began to produce baby food, and they put out adverts looking for baby images to use on the labels. In Westport, Connecticut, 4 month old Ann Cook was sketched by her neighbour, Dorothy Hope Smith, who was an artist. When Gerber made the announcement about wanting baby images, Smith submitted the sketch, and the company bought it.

The image of Ann Cook began being used on Gerber products in 1928, and became the official company logo in 1931.

Ann Cook has since gone on to earn several degrees in journalism, taught at several schools, and has even written a several mystery novels.

At the time of this writing, Ann cook (A. K. A. "The Gerber Baby") is still alive.

16 October 2012

Plane Crash At 40 Wall Street

On 28 July 1945, a B-25 plane was flying through the fog in Manhattan when it crashed into the Empire State Building. Fourteen people were killed, including the three on board the plane.

Nearly a year later, on the evening of 20 May 1946, a C-45 Beechcraft twin-engined plane was heading for Newark Airport on a flight originating at Lake Charles Army Air Field in Louisiana, when it struck the 58th floor of 40 Wall Street, leaving a 20x10 foot hole on the side of the building. All five aboard the plane were killed in the crash, while there were no injuries from any of the over 2,000 workers who were in the building at the time, nor did any of the people on the sidewalk receive any injuries, even though pieces of the plane and building rained down onto the sidewalk below.

It was reported that low fog was the cause of the crash, as the fog ceiling was 500 feet.

In 1995, 40 Wall Street was purchased by Donald Trump and renamed "The Trump Building".

15 October 2012

Liberty Bell 7

21 July 1961. Mercury-Redstone 4 (nicknamed Liberty Bell 7 by the pilot because of the bell-shape), launches into space. It is the United States' second manned space flight. Inside was astronaut Virgil Grissom on his first ever flight. Before launch, there was found to be a misaligned bolt on the hatch, but engineers said that the 69 bolts that remained were enough, and the bolt wasn't replaced.

The flight went according to plan, until Grissom came in for the splashdown. The hatch blew too early, and water began to flood into the capsule. Grissom was rescued just in time. The helicopter that was supposed to carry it to solid ground struggled to hold onto the capsule, as the water pouring in was making it too heavy.

Eventually, the tether snapped from the extra weight, and Liberty Bell 7 fell into the water, sinking to the bottom.

Although an investigation attempted to blame Grissom for the loss of the capsule, he went on to further flights. On 27 January 1967, Grissom was killed when a fire broke out in the Apollo 1 capsule, ironically because of the faulty hatch.

In 1999, a crew went out to seach for the Liberty Bell 7 capsule and attempt to raise it from the ocean. The following is the documentary of their journey.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

14 October 2012


Shirley Ardell Mason was born on 25 January 1923. Her mother was well-known for being "bizarre", with a "witch-like" screeching laugh, and would often walk around in the dark, looking into neighbours' windows. She was later diagnosed with Schizophrenia. By the 1950s, Shirley had long been suffering from long periods of blackouts and emotional breakdowns. Eventually, she went to a psychiatrist named Cornelia Wilbur, who determined that Shirley was suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder (now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder). Wilbur's sessions with Shirley were the inspiration of the book (and later movie) Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber, who changed Shirley's name to Sybil Isabel Dorsett to protect Shirley's identity.

Years after the book and movie of Shirley's life was released, experts began to pick apart the story and find things that just didn't add up. For one, the book stated that "Sybil" had 16 different personalities. The book was not written in the style of a case study, but rather as a novel. Experts who interviewed Wilbur concluded that she had suggested MPD to Shirley, whom they thought of as simply a "suggestible hysteric".

In 2011, Debbie Nathan published a book titled Sybil Exposed, which documents what the author believes to be evidence that Wilbur, Shirley, and Flora made up the content of the book. She shows a letter that Shirley wrote in 1958 where she admits openly that she faked the "Multiples" for attention.

Cornelia Wilbur passed away in 1992. Shirley Mason was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990, and the following year Parkinson's Disease. She passed away on 26 February 1998.

Shirley Mason

Cornelia Wilbur

13 October 2012

Starfish Prime

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a nuclear bomb was detonated in outer space? So did scientists. In 1962, a test was conducted above the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean, code-named "Starfish Prime". Other than sounding like the worst Transformer ever, it was an experiment to see what would happen if a 1.45 megaton nuclear bomb were to detonate in space above the Earth. The explosion could be seen from Hawaii and New Zealand.

So what happened? Well, it disrupted electrical circuits and streetlights in Hawaii. It also mixed with oxygen in the atmosphere, and took many years to right itself. IF it were to happen today, there is no doubt that satellites would be disabled and the Internet would go down, perhaps around the world, and cellphones would lose signal.

In the time since the experiment was conducted, treaties have been signed to assure that such an experiment is never conducted again.

Here is a recently declassified video about the test.

12 October 2012

"My name is Amanda Todd..."

On 7 September 2012, 15 year old Amanda Todd posted this video on her YouTube channel:

This teen was harassed and bullied for years because of one stupid mistake. One mistake. It haunted her. She could not escape the torment, the bullying, the verbal, cyber, emotional, and physical abuse of it all. On 10 October  2012, Amanda committed suicide.

Bullying affects the victims even more than the bully can possibly know. Maybe we think that "I hope she kills herself" will be taken as a joke, but here we have a lost teen, and a devastated family. Let's all remember what one comment, one action can do to a person. One bully can tip a person over the edge, just as one friend can pull them back from the cliff. No one deserves this. So why should one person lose all they have because of one mistake? To belittle, judge and torment someone.... one action. One is all it takes.

This is Amanda Todd. This is her story.

11 October 2012

Ray Mancini VS Duk Koo Kim

On 13 November 1982, American boxer Ray Manchini and Korean boxer Duk Koo Kim got into the ring together behind Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. This documentary could explain what happened better than I ever could.

10 October 2012


The 1995 epic film "Braveheart" tells the story of William Wallace, who led the war of independence in Scotland. In the film, Wallace begins a rebellion, and is later betrayed by Robert the Bruce who, in the end, feels so guilty about his betrayal that he leads Scotland to freedom. As the film shows, that only happened a few months after William Wallace's death. Because William Wallace is the most important figure in Scotland's history, and Mel Gibson's version is exactly how the events took place.


Of course not. Mel Gibson's film is nothing more than a historical fan fiction. Probably the only thing in the film that is true is that Wallace started a rebellion by taking out an outpost. But even that statement is the only true part from that scene. The motives and manner of the attack was different in real life. One of the first thing the film tells you, that Wallace's father was a commoner, is even false. William Wallace was the son of a knight. The film shows Wallace leading the rebels into battle, but had they actually showed the battles scenes instead of flying through them perhaps the most epic part of the film. Wallace's knowledge of the battlefield led for some pretty intense battles.

Robert the Bruce never betrayed Wallace. In fact, both Wallace and Bruce were pretty much fans of each other. After Wallace was executed (oh, another true part of the film, and actually probably the most accurate scene. Except Wallace didn't scream, "FREEDOM" as he died), King Edward (who didn't just happen to die as Wallace did) became even so sure that Scotland was his that he marched into Scotland to claim it. He wasn't counting on the Scots to still want freedom. After MANY YEARS (not months), Robert the Bruce was crowned King of Scotland as Robert I. He did, in fact, win Scotland's independence.

He told his people that if he were to die on the battlefield, to remove his heart and take it on a crusade. When the time came, his heart was taken on a crusade, but the carrier died on the way. The heart was found on a battlefield and sent back to Scotland.

The point I am trying to get to is: William Wallace was NOT Braveheart. That nickname belonged to Robert the Bruce. Mel Gibson not only focus the film on the wrong guy, he set it at the wrong time.

Also, this is William Wallace                                           As opposed to


And this is Robert the Bruce                       As opposed to

09 October 2012

Psycho's Sequels

Now, I watched Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" a couple days ago. One of the (if not THE) best classic horror film ever made. I've seen it so many times, I could quote it. I was going to re-watch it tonight. But thought I would do something different. Instead of watching the obvious choice, I went with Psycho II.

Not everyone knows that Anthony Perkins starred in three Psycho sequels, reprising his classic role as Norman Bates. I found out about them years ago, but I always avoided them because, I mean come on. A sequel to Psycho sounds like a bad idea. Much less three. Not to mention the third sequel is called Psycho IV: The Beginning. Yikes!

But about a year ago, I took a deep breathe and watched all four movies together. Right from the beginning, I was surprised. Psycho II begins with the [in]famous shower scene, in black and white. After that part is over, it continues the old footage of where the camera goes the bedside table with the newspaper and it says, "Universal Studios presents" and all of that. Then shows the old house with Norman screaming, "Mother! Blood! BLOOD!!". Then the words "PSYCHO II" appear, and the rest of the opening credits play as the camera stays in that shot of the house as the sun comes up, in full colour. That, to me, is a perfect way to begin the first sequel to Psycho. It pays tribute to the original, as well as allows you to make the transition from black and white to colour.

I won't go into the plot to much, because this is one of those films where I think the less you know going in, the better. I will say that after the opening credits, you see Norman Bates being released at a hearing, with Lila Crane, now Lila Loomis, as she clearly married Sam Loomis, protests his release. Lila is once again played by Vera Miles.

The only other thing I will say about the plot is that in the original film, there is a line when Marion first arrives at the Bates Motel where Norman tells her that there is a diner just up the road. Well, that diner is an important part of this film, and I love how they included it. They didn't even make that connection a big deal. They easily could have had Norman saying something like, "I once told a girl who stopped by the motel that this diner was there". But instead, it was like a silent nod towards the fans.

Psycho II is genuinely a great film. You don't even have to pretend it's not a sequel to such a classic, because it compliments the original film nicely. They didn't make the sequel just to make the sequel. There was a reason for it, the story was furthered, and it even adds depth to the original film, because you go back and watch it and you remember some of the things you learned in the next film, like off-camera rooms in the Bates' house, more details in the fruit cellar, and as I mentioned, the diner Norman mentions in that throwaway line.

Psycho III is also a great film, but it didn't feel like they tried nearly as hard with that one. Where Psycho II was a direct sequel to the original, they just tried to find a way to have a new Norman Bates story. They try hard to link the original to it by having a character that reminds Norman of Marion Crane. There is a bunch of references to the original film, such as Norman saying "We all go a little mad sometimes", and even re-does the shower scene, only with a twist this time. While it's definitely my least favourite of the Psycho series, it's still an interesting film, and I still like it just because it's part of the series.

Psycho IV: The Beginning technically has a misleading title. Although it does go back and tell the story of Norman as a child, the story is told in flashbacks as Norman tells his life story to a radio station, Joe Dirt-style (only over the phone, not in studio). The ending to that film was a nice, concluding end. However, I am sure that had Anthony Perkins made further movies in the series, they would have been just as good.

Sadly, we will never know if he had another good Norman Bates story. On 12 September 1992, just two years after making Psycho IV, Anthony Perkins (A. K. A. Norman Bates) passed away. If he were still alive today, I may be talking about Psycho XI: Space Motel. And you know what? I'm sure it would have been good.