Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bettie Page Interred at Westwood Cemetery 12/16/08

Birth: Apr. 22, 1923
Madison County
Tennessee, USA

Death: Dec. 11, 2008
Los Angeles
Los Angeles County
California, USA

Burial: Westwood Memorial Park
Los Angeles
Los Angeles County California, USA

Source: Find a Grave

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bettie Page Dies at Age 85 - "Free at Last"

Bettie Page ... "Free at last!"

I think everyone knew it was coming. It's been a waiting game since the 2nd. So where does one start when the inevitable has happened? I guess to go with the standard obituary first ...

Bettie Page, the brunet pinup queen with a shoulder-length pageboy hairdo and kitschy bangs whose saucy photos helped usher in the sexual revolution of the 1960s, has died. She was 85. The L.A. Times' Louis Sahagun writes a nice obit. Sahagun was one of the last reporters to spend time with Page, back in 2006. He wrote about his visit here.

Page, whose later life was marked by depression, violent mood swings and several years in a state mental institution, died Thursday night at Kindred Hospital in Los Angeles, where she had been on life support since suffering a heart attack Dec. 2, according to her agent, Mark Roesler

"Bettie Page captured the imagination of a generation of men and women with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality," said Roesler, chairman of the Indianapolis-based CMG Worldwide, who was at Page's side when she died. "She was a dear friend and a special client and one of the most beautiful and influential
women of the 20th century."

A religious woman in her later life, Page was mystified by her influence on modern popular culture. "I have no idea why I'm the only model who has had so much fame so long after quitting work," she said in an interview with The Times in 2006. She had one request for that interview: that her face not be photographed. "I want to be remembered," she said, "as I was when I was young and in my golden times. . . . I want to be remembered as the woman who changed people's perspectives concerning nudity in its natural form."

In an interview 2 1/2 years ago, Hefner described Page's appeal as "a combination of wholesome innocence and fetish-oriented poses that is at once retro and very modern." With the help of admirers including Hefner, Page finally began receiving a respectable income for her work.

In an interview published in Playboy magazine in 2007, Page expressed mixed feelings about her achievements. "When I turned my life over to the lord Jesus I was ashamed of having posed in the nude," she said. "But now, most of the money I've got is because I posed in the nude. So I'm not ashamed of it now. But I still don't understand it."

She spent most of her final years in a one-bedroom apartment, reading the Bible, listening to Christian and country tunes, watching westerns on television, catching up on diet and exercise regimens or sometimes perusing secondhand clothing stores.

Occasionally, however, Page was persuaded to visit the Sunset Boulevard penthouse offices of her agents at CMG Worldwide to autograph pinups of herself in the post-World War II years of her prime. The agency controls her image and those of Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana, among others.
During one such event in early 2006, Page needed about 10 minutes to get through the 10 letters of her name. As she pushed her pen over a portrait of her in a negligee with an ecstatic smile, she laughed and said, "My land! Is that supposed to be me? I was never that pretty."

She is survived by her brother Jack Page of Nshville and sister Joyce Wallace of Blairsville, Ga.

With the above being said, I am very sad yet relieved for her. She is finally at peace. Not in any pain. And, because she was a Christian; with God. On my blogs about Bettie, I've never posed the nude pics, nor put info about her past problems with mental illness or brushes with the law because she really just wanted to live her life as a Christian, and if God forgives and puts the past behind you, then shouldn't we? It seems one
can never escape one's past
, no matter how much one wishes. Sadly, society loves to keep at the negative things in one's life in the forefront, and I for one feel that the "past is the past." When does one let the past be for the person who lived it? What a dichotemy for Ms. Page. She said in later years in an interview published in Playboy magazine in 2007, mixed feelings about her achievements. "When I turned my life over to the lord Jesus I was ashamed of having posed in the nude," she said. "But now, most of the money I've got is because I posed in the nude. So I'm not ashamed of it now. But I still don't understand it."

Bettie Page walked away from the modeling and nudity at age 35. She became a cult figure in her later years . Everyone loved her for her smile, her bangs, her naivety, and girl next door wholesomeness ... and the nudity. Bettie turned her life around and became a Christian years ago and lived in poverty for years (while others took money for her photos, videos, etc.) and it wasn't until people like Hugh Hefner, her agent, Mark Roseler, Dave Stevens (Rocketeer) and others finally stepped in and were able to get licensing agreements and residuals for her so she could at least live somewhat comfortably. I do have to give kudo's to her handlers and agents, Bettie wanted to be remembered as she was and wanted no photos taken in her later years. How they were able to achieve that goal for her I will never know; but I am glad that she was able to have that wish. Bettie will remain forever young because that's how we see her. She was a star who shined brightly behind the clouds. God Speed Bettie. For more info on Bettie:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bitter to The End ... And Their Untimely Death .. Possibly Karma?

Didn't are mothers all raise us to "be nice?" Something went wrong with this couple. So bitter, I wonder if it was karma? And, isn't it harder to be nasty than it is to be nice? Hmmm,

They were bitter to the end - and beyond.

A Brooklyn couple slain in their home last month spoke from the grave in drafted last wills, leaving a bizarre legacy for unloved ones they detested in life.

"To my brother who I know hopes to be in my will, well, here you are," chided Mark Schwartz, 50, as he bequeathed nothing to his estranged sibling, Robert, in an unsigned April 2006 draft.
In an earlier version, Schwartz had already left his brother "the sum of zero ($0.00) Dollars," zinging, "I believe this sum is fitting, as you are probably the most greedy person I know.

"With respect to the will dated April/May 1995, . . . believe me, it's worthless, and just in case, I expressly void again," Schwartz said. "You are probably screaming and yelling by now.
But, "Robert, brothers are supposed to want each other to be the most they can be and make the most money they can. You, on the other hand, just sat in judgment of me and were always jealous.

"I, on the other hand, only wished you the best and to win the lottery.

"So, Robert, you have a choice, you can come to my grave site to say hello out of love or piss on me for not giving you money."

Schwartz's wife, Christina-Maria Petrowski-Schwartz, 48, first expressed her love for her children, Melissa and Nicholas. She then took an apparent shot at her first husband, James, leaving him no cash but decreeing that a "gift" of $10,000 be made in his name to a battered-women's shelter.

Her ex declined comment last night.

Her own family - with the exception of a favored brother, Christian - fared little better.
"With regard to my estranged family who were never there for myself or my children, but always there for their distorted version of Catholicism, I give and bequeath the sum of $1 each to my" mother, father, two brothers and sister "and request that they donate same to their precious church to whom they had a greater allegiance, than to their first child and sister."
In several drafts, Schwartz lays out his wish to be outfitted in scuba gear "and cast over the side of a vessel into the ocean where my body may rest undisturbed by any person[s] in the deep."
"Although I recognize that this request may very well violate certain . . . laws of the State of New York and Federal as well as multiple other jurisdictions, I trust that my Executor and friends will ignore same," he wrote, adding that his estate could be used to pay for any legal problems.
In a later draft, he urges his friends - should burial at sea be impossible - to come up with something befitting his character.

"Perhaps a beach party with strip[p]ers," he wrote.

Schwartz also lays out $25,000 for each of two friends - Steven Rezac and Peter Klages - but cautions them not to tell their spouses.

"This gift is conditioned upon each of them not telling their respective wives of said gift so they may not get their hands on same," Schwartz decreed.

Schwartz and Petrowski-Schwartz were found shot dead in their home on July 16. Cops said the estranged brother is not a suspect.

Because none of the draft wills is a signed original, none is expected to have any legal bearing.
Robert Delvicario, a friend of the couple, was named executor, given $50,000 and left Schwartz's collection of guns and knives. Police sources have named Delvicario as a person of interest, but he has not been charged and has strongly denied involvement.

One possible reference to him in the 1995 draft, however, may be chillingly ironic.
"In the event my friends [brothers] fail to provide me with a burial befitting my character, then and in that event, I curse each one of them as follows," Schwartz wrote.

"To Boom Boom, the electricity never be on when you need it; to TR, never will any of your radios work again"

Then, possibly addressing Delvicario specifically, he wrote: "To Bobby, never will your gun shoot when you need it."

(Source: Ny Post)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Elvis Left The Builiding ... But He's Still Drawing Interest ...

Elvis Presley may have left the building several decades ago, but his earning power is far from diminished with Forbes.com ranking him the top-earning dead celebrity for the second year in a row.

Presley pulled in $52 million in the past year, helped by increased visitors to his Graceland estate to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his death and new ventures like the Elvis Sirius Satellite Radio show, according to the web site.
"While things might be topsy-turvy in the financial markets above ground, it's still a bull market in the boneyard," Forbes.com said.

Presley earned more between October 2007 and October 2008 than some of the music industry's biggest living pop stars like Justin Timberlake ($44 million) and Madonna ($40 million), Forbes.com said.

Coming in at No. 2 with $33 million in earnings was cartoonist Charles Schulz, who died in 2000 and is best known for his "Peanuts" comic strip, while Australian actor Heath Ledger nabbed third spot.

Ledger, 28, died from an accidental prescription drug overdose in January and his last film role was as the Joker in "The Dark Knight."

"With the 'The Dark Knight' grossing $991 million in box office revenue worldwide, we estimate his earnings at $20 million," the web site said.

Forbes.com said it spoke to experts and sources inside the dead celebrities' estates and researched gross earnings, before taxes, management fees and other costs, from the period of October 2007 to October 2008 to come up with the rankings.

German-born physicist Albert Einstein comes in at No. 4 with $18 million in earnings, mainly from Baby Einstein, the majority Disney owned videos and toys for children, while TV producer Aaron Spelling -- whose shows include "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Charlie's Angels" -- was ranked No. 5 with $15 million in earnings.

The full list can be found at http://www.forbes.com/.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Patricia Reaney)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Edie Adams ... The Muriel Cigar Girl

Edie Adams died yesterday. A true glamourous woman of the 50s and 60s. Anyone remember the "Muriel Cigar" commericals with Edie Adams? They were among one of the favorites for many kids (and adults) back in the early 1960's for its catchy tune.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Life in Legacy ... Check it Out!

Looking for up to date information on those who have passed on? Check out Life in Legacy. Amazing site for the curious and those who love history and people. Site highlights those who are famous, not so famous, young and old alike. It's a nice place to visit...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Seven Sisters Inn May be Calling Your From Beyond

Sunch a pretty house ... Heading to Florida? Want an encounter with the other side? Check out the pink and purple Victorian Seven Sisters Inn.

Inside, the air is heavier and sometimes cold. Slow piano music plays interminably, interrupted by the creaks and rumbles made by any 120-year-old structure.

But is there more to those sounds, those rushes of air and subtle drafts, those flickering of lights? The personalities for the SciFi Channel believe so, so much so that they will feature the inn during Wednesday night's episode of "Ghost Hunters."

Inn owners Bonnie Morehardt and Ken Oden say they don't need spiritual mediums and paranormal experts to tell them their homes are haunted. They've already seen enough.
"There is a feeling of energy here," Morehardt said Monday afternoon. "I think the spirits are here to care for the building and to care for us. It's a protective thing.

"But there are definitely different feelings at each house."

The Scott House, the pink-colored home on the property, is the older of the two and, Morehardt says, the brighter. Built in 1888, it's hard to keep track of all the possible spirits that may reside within its three stories.

Morehardt says she's seen a mysterious dressed-up woman, a young boy and an old man. Guests at the lodge have told her about a woman wearing white passing through doors and closets and checking them out in the bathroom.

Then there are the little things. Morehardt says she's heard a few shouts, countless footsteps on the old wood floors and the slamming of more than one door. She had to move an end table because she says a ghost kept tipping it over.

"I had this table up in the loft and it got overturned and broken three times," Morehardt said. "I finally just put it in another room. Clearly whoever is there didn't like the table."
Morehardt and inn manager Charlie Childes have trouble lighting candles, keeping the lights on and even keeping the locked front door from opening.

"I'll be sitting in the house by myself with the door locked, and all of a sudden I'll hear the bells on the door," Childes recounted. "I pulled up to the house one time and saw a man dressed like Abraham Lincoln walk right in through a wall."

One of the alleged spirits may have saved Childes life. As he was walking down the open staircase to the home's living room, something caused Childes to trip and fall forward toward a stained-glass window.

"I was falling head first, but something grabbed me with two hands," Childes said. "Then I was about to fall right on the coffee table and someone held me up."
The ghosts can be playful too, Morehardt said. They like to move furniture, flip lights on and off or just move some items to another room. Monday, as she looked around the third-floor loft, Morehardt found a book - "The Lady of the Lake" - that belonged in a downstairs bedroom.
"That's supposed to be in Sylvia's room," she said to Childes.

"Well, it wasn't here yesterday when I was up here," Childes answered back.

As playful and helpful the spirits in the pink house may be, Morehardt said, the same does not apply to the purple home next door. Built in 1892, the home's bedrooms have been outfitted with decor from across the world. Rooms pay tribute to France, China, Egypt and India, countries diverse enough to bring with them a diverse clash of spirits.

"You will hear fighting and arguing in these rooms," Morehardt said.

It's not the environment Childes prefers. He works the day shift and tries to stay away from the purple home at all costs.

"I don't like being here at night," he said. "When I walk into the other house, it's like walking into my mom's house. This one is darker."

Both homes will be featured on SciFi Wednesday at 9 p.m. For more information on Seven Sisters Inn, call 352-867-1170. (source)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Woman Wins Free Funeral

"Take me out to the ballgame, buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks, I don't care if I never come back ...." You might care if you are Elaine Fulps : )

In Grand Prarie, Texas, Elaine Fulps is thrilled about the prize she won at a minor league baseball game. But she's hoping she doesn't have to collect on it anytime soon. Fulps, 60, won a $10,000 paid funeral at Tuesday night's Grand Prairie AirHogs game.

The prize won't expire until after Fulps does, said Ron Alexander, the sales manager at Oak Grove Memorial Gardens, which partnered with the team and Irving's Chapel of Roses Funeral Home to sponsor the event.

"I almost croaked many times," said Fulps, who was wearing a neck brace - the most recent effect of about 20 surgeries she's undergone for various medical problems. "God still has me around for a reason. To win a funeral."

Some finalists for the prize arrived dressed in black or looking like death. The finalists participated in a pallbearer's race, a mummy wrap and a eulogy delivery.

Fulps, randomly chosen as the winner at night's end, said she'll choose a casket and plot as soon as she recovers.

"I'm going to pick a spot under a tree out of the Texas heat," she told The Dallas Morning News. "And let's hope it's a pet-free cemetery. I don't want to get watered on."


Monday, June 02, 2008

Creater of Pringles Can Buried in Can

Dr. Fredric J. Baur was so proud of having designed the container for Pringles potato crisps that he asked his family to bury him in one.
His children honored his request. Part of his remains was buried in a Pringles can - along with a regular urn containing the rest - in his grave at Arlington Memorial Gardens in Springfield Township.

Dr. Baur, a retired organic chemist and food storage technician who specialized in research and development and quality control for Procter & Gamble, died May 4 at Vitas Hospice. The College Hill resident was 89.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Coffin Couches ... They will stand the test of time : )

How to decorate the home.... well, we've found the perfect furniture for you. Check out Coffincouches.com.

Here is what their front page say: "We have the mindset of thinking "Green" and we know it is different but we strongly believe in recycling. Our niche happens to be 18 gauge steel coffins which we collected from local funeral homes primarily in Southern California. It is a health and safety law that funeral homes cannot resell used coffins to the general public. We approached funeral directors with the attitude of recycling. These coffins are not used for burial due to slight cosmetic inconsistencies. They are reconfigured and modified resulting in a finished product - a unique one a kind coffin couch. If you notice (although it may be too small) the six cast iron heavy duty legs are embossed with the universal biohazard insignia. The reason we utilized this sign was because safety was our utmost concern. If you are not aware, once a human body is placed in a coffin it is considered biohazard tissue. The legs have the embossed insignia for precautionary reasons in the event body fluids are exchanged on these coffins. Perhaps you would feel safe knowing that you are in designated biohazard scene! Ha!"

Now think about. Everyone will be talking about your decor. It should hold up : ) -- Afterall a

Coffin is made from recycled 18 gauge steel. It has 4" heavy duty padding and durable leather or vinyl . Also has inner 1/4" square rubber tubing for extra back and seat support . The underside has a 6.5' x 2.5' x 1" steel frame and six steel legs able to withstand approx. 900 lbs.

(Which is perfect for that heavy relative of yours that likes to plop : ) )

Great idea if you ask me ... why didn't I think of this?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dog's Tombstone Get's People Barking Mad!

Here’s how a tombstone of a pet dog get some people really upset:

When Judy Hagan lost her beloved rat terrier she bought two plots at the local cemetery, one for her and one for her dog. Eight years later she decided that it was time to put a memorial stone at the dog’s grave. And that has stirred up a lot of controversy, because the dog has a name that some people say are not appropriate for display on a tombstone…

The dog’s name? Shithead.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Priest Carried Off by Balloons Goes Missing!

A story that is hard to believe ...

A Roman Catholic priest who floated off under hundreds of helium party balloons is missing off the southern coast of Brazil today. (April 22)

Rescuers in helicopters and small fishing boats were searching off the coast of Santa Catarina state, where pieces of balloons were found.

Reverend Adelir Antonio de Carli lifted off from the port city of Paranagua yesterday afternoon, wearing a helmet, thermal suit and a parachute.

He was reported missing about eight hours later after losing contact with port authority officials, according to the treasurer of his Sao Cristovao parish, Denise Gallas.

Gallas said by telephone that the priest wanted to break a 19-hour record for the most hours flying with balloons to raise money for a spiritual rest-stop for truckers in Paranagua, Brazil's second-largest port for agricultural products. Some American adventurers have used helium balloons to emulate Larry Walters - who in 1982 rose three miles above Los Angeles in a lawn chair lifted by balloons.

A video of Carli posted on the G1 website of Globo TV showed the smiling 41-year-old priest slipping into a flight suit, being strapped to a seat attached to a huge column green, red, white and yellow balloons, and soaring into the air to the cheers of a crowd.

According to Gallas, the priest soared to an altitude of 6,000 metres then descended to about 2,500 metres for his planned flight to the city of Dourados, 750km north-west of his parish.
But winds pushed him in another direction, and Carli was some 50km off the coast when he last contacted Paranagua's port authority, Gallas said.

Carli had a GPS device, a satellite phone, a buoyant chair and was an experienced skydiver, Gallas said.

"We are absolutely confident he will be found alive and well, floating somewhere in the ocean," she said.

"He knew what he was doing and was fully prepared for any kind of mishap." (source)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Virtual Vietnam Wall

Yesterday I read about a virtual or online version of the Vietnam Wall. Please note this site is not government sponsored site and people must explicitly request that a name appear on the site, but it looks interesting and worth knowing about. http://www.virtualwall.org/
Photo is called "Tommy can you hear me."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch

Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch, who is dying from pancreatic cancer, gave his last lecture at the university Sept. 18, 2007, before a packed McConomy Auditorium. In his moving talk, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals. For more, visit www.cmu.edu/randyslecture.

"Journeys" are special University Lectures in which Carnegie Mellon faculty members share their reflections on their journeys -- the everyday actions, decisions, challenges and joys that make a life.

Charleton Heston ... Larger than life.

Hollywood legend and Oscar winner actor Charles Heston died in his home this week in Beverly Hills at the age of 84. His family released a statement saying:

"To his loving friends, colleagues and fans, we appreciate your heartfelt prayers and support…. Charlton Heston was seen by the world as larger than life… No one could ask for a fuller life than his. No man could have given more to his family, to his profession, and to his country… In his own words, ‘I have lived such a wonderful life. I’ve lived enough for two people.”

I loved Heston's work; both his movies and his activism. He was one of the great ones. A "man's man," a patriot, activist and loyal husband. All qualities that are commendable and rare. He definitely made his mark and a difference.

Monday, March 31, 2008

I'm Dying for a Cola with a Lemon Wedge!

If life gives you lemons... better not make lemonade.

If you are worried about terrorists, nuclear war, global warming, or fire eating ants killing you, worry no more! I've got something better to worry about. Microbiologist Anne LaGrange Loving reports that a more immediate killer might be wedged into the top of your drinking glass. She tested lemon wedges from 21 different restaurants and found that 70% of them were contaminated with bacteria, including a s—load of fecal bacteria.

Sound's delicious doesn't it?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

"Simply the Best" ... Richard Widmark Makes the Final Curtain

There are too few "stars" left today. All the good ones have hit their winter years. One of my fav's; (as I am a Turner Movie Fan and B&W Film buff) was Richard Widmark who passed away on March 24th at the age of 93.

Widmark made a sensational film debut as the giggling killer in "Kiss of Death" and became a Hollywood leading man in "Broken Lance," "Two Rode Together" and 40 other films.

Widmark's wife, Susan Blanchard, says the actor died at his home in Roxbury on Monday. She did not provide details of his illness; "It was a big shock, but he was 93," Blanchard said. After a career in radio drama and theater, Widmark moved to films as Tommy Udo, who delighted in pushing an old lady in a wheelchair to her death down a flight of stairs in the 1947 thriller "Kiss of Death." The performance won him an Academy Award nomination as supporting actor; it was his only mention for an Oscar. "That damned laugh of mine!" he told a reporter in 1961. "For two years after that picture, you couldn't get me to smile. I played the part the way I did because the script struck me as funny and the part I played made me laugh. The guy was such a ridiculous beast."

A quiet, inordinately shy man, Widmark often portrayed killers, cops and Western gunslingers. But he said he hated guns. "I know I've made kind of a half-assed career out of violence, but I abhor violence," he remarked in a 1976 Associated Press interview. "I am an ardent supporter of gun control. It seems incredible to me that we are the only civilized nation that does not put some effective control on guns."

Two years out of college, Widmark reached New York in 1938 during the heyday of radio. His mellow Midwest voice made him a favorite in soap operas, and he found himself racing from studio to studio. Rejected by the Army because of a punctured eardrum, Widmark began appearing in theater productions in 1943. His first was a comedy hit on Broadway, "Kiss and Tell." He was appearing in the Chicago company of "Dream Girl" with June Havoc when 20th Century Fox signed him to a seven-year contract. He almost missed out on the "Kiss of Death" role."The director, Henry Hathaway, didn't want me," the actor recalled. "I have a high forehead; he thought I looked too intellectual." The director was overruled by studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck, and Hathaway "gave me kind of a bad time." An immediate star, Widmark appeared in 20 Fox films from 1957 to 1964. Among them: "The Street With No Name," "Road House," "Yellow Sky," "Down to the Sea in Ships," "Slattery's Hurricane," "Panic in the Streets," "No Way Out," "The Halls of Montezuma," "The Frogmen," "Red Skies of Montana," "My Pal Gus" and the Samuel Fuller film noir "Pickup on South Street." In 1952, he starred in "Don't Bother to Knock" with Marilyn Monroe. He told an interviewer in later years: "She wanted to be this great star but acting just scared the hell out of her. That's why she was always late - couldn't get her on the set. She had trouble remembering lines. But none of it mattered. With a very few special people, something happens between the lens and the film that is pure magic. ... And she really had it."

After leaving Fox, Widmark's career continued to flourish. He starred (as Jim Bowie) with John Wayne in "The Alamo," with James Stewart in John Ford's "Two Rode Together," as the U.S. prosecutor in "Judgment at Nuremberg," and with Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas in "The Way West." He also played the Dauphin in "St. Joan," and had roles in "How the West Was Won," "Death of a Gunfighter," "Murder on the Orient Express," "Midas Run" and "Coma." "Madigan," a 1968 film with Widmark as a loner detective, was converted to television and lasted one season in 1972-73. It was Widmark's only TV series. He also was in some TV films, including "Cold Sassy Tree" and "Once Upon a Texas Train."

Richard Widmark was born Dec. 26, 1914, in Sunrise, Minn., where his father ran a general store, then became a traveling salesman. The family moved around before settling in Princeton, Ill. "Like most small-town boys, I had the urge to get to the big city and make a name for myself," he recalled in a 1954 interview. "I was a movie nut from the age of 3, but I don't recall having any interest in acting," he said. But at Lake Forest College, he became a protege of the drama teacher and met his future wife, drama student Ora Jean Hazlewood. In later years, Widmark appeared sparingly in films and TV. He explained to Parade magazine in 1987: "I've discovered in my dotage that I now find the whole moviemaking process irritating. I don't have the patience anymore. I've got a few more years to live, and I don't want to spend them sitting around a movie set for 12 hours to do two minutes of film." When he wasn't working, he and his wife lived on a horse ranch in Hidden Valley, Calif., or on a farm in Connecticut. Their daughter Ann became the wife of baseball immortal Sandy Koufax.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What's Your Business, Mr. Bones?

A woman was detained at the Munich airport after a scan of her luggage showed a human skull and other bones. But she had a perfectly reasonable explanation, honest!

The 62-year-old woman and her 63-year-old friend were traveling to Italy from Brazil. It turns out that the woman was trying to fulfill the last wish of her brother to be buried in Italy. He had died 11 years previously in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

After she produced the proper papers, the woman and her skeletal carry-on were allowed to continue on to Naples. (source)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dave Stevens Loses Battle With Leukemia

Dave Stevens, co creator of the Rocketeer and the artist who helped bring Bettie Page back in the spotlight passed away at the age of 52 due to complications with his battle with leukemia. He was 52. If you haven't read or seen it, I recommend checking out Rocketeer. Great stuff.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Creature From The Black Lagoon Has Died

The Creature from the Black Lagoon, otherwise known as Ben Chapman, died on February 21st, at aged 79.

THE monsters created by Universal Studios in the first half of the 20th century evolved in a backwards fashion. In the 1920s Homo erectus distorted himself a bit, and took to swinging round church towers or chandeliers as the Phantom of the Opera and the Hunchback of Notre Dame. A decade later his teeth and hair grew longer and his skin more chalky, preparatory to wallowing in human blood in “Dracula” and “Frankenstein”. The 1940s brought a coating of fur (“Wolfman”) or shrouds (“The Mummy”), the humanoid shape regressing to animal or worse. Then, in 1954, a beast who was half-man and half-fish dragged himself out of the sea.

“Science couldn't explain it!” cried the theatre-trailer for “Creature from the Black Lagoon”. “But there it was, alive!” Its webbed tracks were seen on the shores of the deepest Amazon; a fossilised claw was found by scientists. This “Gill-Man”, like the lungfish, could evidently breathe on both land and water. It was a relic of the Devonian age, one-and-a-half million years ago. Universal could attest that its blood was 35% white corpuscles, like an amphibian's; that it ate fish, when film crews were unavailable; and that beneath its outer layer of scales, dark green picked out with copper and rough-hewn as an alligator's, was soft pink mammalian skin.
Beneath it too, sweating like a trooper in a thick body-stocking of foam rubber, was Ben Chapman. Behind the popping-out eyes, his own were moving—save when the lids came down, and he had to be guided down his monstrous paths by a prop-man with a torch. The truly nasty fluttering of the gills was achieved by another man, out of shot, pumping air through a tube into bladders on Mr Chapman's dorsal fin. He moved as he did, slowly and half-gliding while cymbals and screaming trumpets announced his presence, because he had ten pounds of weights in each webbed foot. His career as a strong-limbed Tahitian dancer in the nightclubs of Los Angeles had not entirely cut him out for this.

His monster-suit, which was to give him a persona he revelled in all his life, cost $18,000 and went through 76 designs. Two or three hours were needed to put the costume on, and as long to get it off again. Head, arms, legs, front torso and back torso had been moulded separately round his body in plaster of Paris and were now fitted separately to him, like a knight's armour. Only the head and the hands were easily removable, and in this garb (in which he could not sit down) he would eat his sandwiches at lunchtime.

For much of the day, however, being so hot, he would lurk in the greenish pool in the back lot at Universal. Out in the middle of the water, he would submerge his imposing frame until only his Gill-Man eyes and nostrils showed above the surface. There he would wait, holding his breath for as long as he could manage. Then—famously just as Rock Hudson was walking past with a group of elderly visitors—he would rise straight up, water streaming down him, lift up his arms, open his fish mouth and ROAR!!!

In Karloff's footsteps

Mr Chapman was not the only man who played the Creature. Its underwater swimming was done by Ricou Browning in relatively pristine Florida waters. But Mr Chapman was the only actor hired, on a studio contract for $300 a week, to get inside the Creature's mind. He therefore knew that, as in the case of Victor Hugo's Hunchback and Mary Shelley's Monster, a great sadness lay there. Jack Arnold, the director (also of “Tarantula” and “It Came from Outer Space”), insisted when he hired him that this was no cartoon. Mr Chapman, with no words to say, therefore used his dancer's body language to show how misunderstood the Creature was.
In the film, scientists invaded the Creature's peaceable kingdom; so naturally he saw them off. In the film he also fell in love with Kay Lawrence (Julia Adams), a comely young woman scientist in a white swimsuit, whom Mr Chapman much enjoyed carrying round in his brawny, scaly arms. The Creature's urge to mate was understandable. He was the last survivor of the fish-men, just as Mr Chapman turned out to be the last in a line of sad-monster-players that stretched back through Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, before more heartless and mechanised species arrived in Hollywood.

In the years before he played him, Mr Chapman had also been a bartender and a brave marine in Korea; in the years after, he worked in property and in a Seven-Up bottling plant. In old age, large, gentle and smiling, he was a fixture at celebrity signings. No other job, he said, compared with those six or seven weeks spent shooting, when he would drive eagerly over the Hollywood hills to that stifling costume again.

He was never credited with playing the Creature, the publicity department not wanting people to think that this was just a man in a suit. (Earlier, Boris Karloff had got no credit for playing Frankenstein's Monster.) Mr Chapman said he doubted audiences were so stupid. He was told, “You'd be amazed what people will believe.” Such as that when he climbed onto the scientists' boat, out of the black water, his eyes burning at the sight of a female butt in shorts, he represented all mankind in its fishy origins, evolving out of the deep.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Dead Celebrities Are Still A Big Draw

Dead celebrities draw crowds all year round. Long after the rich and famous depart this mortal life, their larger-than-life personalities live on, thanks to gravesite tourism.

Each year, thousands of Americans make pilgrimages to cemeteries from coast to coast, paying their respects to stars whose names have made the eternal leap from flashing lights to ornate stone. And in death, as in life, there's a difference between the A-list and the D.

"Everyone has a different opinion of what fame means," said Jim Tipton, the founder of the Web site FindaGrave.com, which catalogs more than 12 million gravesites around the world. "We have about 50,000 flagged as famous or notable, and it's a contentious issue of who makes the list, but we try to be accommodating."

The most popular graves are those of celebs who were the most iconic, Tipton said. It's an elite group that includes Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Bruce Lee and Jim Morrison.

"Certainly there's that fascination with those people who die ahead of schedule," Tipton said.
So fans flock to Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise in Paris to commune with Morrison, the former lead singer of the Doors, or brave the throngs at Pierce Brothers Westwood Cemetery, where Marilyn rests for all eternity.

"It's something that people have been doing as long as they've been traveling, really — to go and honor and pay respects to some figure who's been really, really important in your life for one reason or another," said Don George, global travel editor for Lonely Planet. "It just takes a kind of a bizarre twist in a place like Hollywood, where the magnificence and the extravagance of the lives of these people is carried on into death," he added.

Hollywood offers hundreds of dead celebrities for those who have the time. Natalie Wood, Walter Matthau and Truman Capote are a few of the 213 famous interments near Monroe's at Pierce Brothers Westwood, according to FindaGrave.com.

While Joe DiMaggio may have had fresh roses delivered each week to his ex-wife Marilyn's crypt, it's Hugh Hefner who is rumored to have reserved an eternal rest next to the bombshell.
"He's ready to move in next to Marilyn when the time comes," George said.

Greg Bolton, a spokesman for the cemetery, refused to comment on who resides at Westwood.
"We're very protective of that place and the families we assist," Bolton said. "There are some who just would prefer that we don't say a lot about a particular celebrity who is buried there."
Along with Westwood, celebrity visitors stop by Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale, Calif., known as the "Country Club for the Dead," George said. Its eternal inhabitants include Clark Gable and Jean Harlow.

Its sister park, in the Hollywood Hills, holds the remains of Lucille Ball and Bette Davis. Another park, Hollywood Forever, completes the Tinseltown grave tour.

But celebrity grave sightseeing is not just a Hollywood phenomenon. Big names can be found in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. (former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis), St. Mary's Cemetery in Rockville, Md. (author F. Scott Fitzgerald), Graceland in Memphis, Tenn. (Elvis Presley) and Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y. (artist Jean Michel Basquiat). (Source -- Read more here)

The ex-singer of The Doors, JIM MORRISON, is buried in Paris, France at the most famous and most beautiful cemetery in the world "Pere Lachaise". His gravesite is one of the most visited "sites" in Pari

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Skull A Day

Autopsy by Noguchi

Came across a fascinating site today called Who 2 Loops. Very cool info on alot of subjects. I found this was interesting: Autopsy by Noguchi -- Celebrity Autopsies

"Coroner to the Stars" THOMAS NOGUCHI joined the Los Angeles County medical examiner's office in 1961 and was the county's chief coroner from 1967-1982. Noguchi's investigations of celebrity deaths earned him both his wry nickname and a certain celebrity status of his own; he was finally forced from office in 1982 by the county Board of Supervisors, who felt Noguchi's fame and ego were interfering with his work. (Noguchi discussed the demotion, and many of his high-profile cases, in his best-selling 1983 book Coroner.) Here are some of the famous fatalities who earned autopsies by Noguchi and his staff.

MARILYN MONROE was Noguchi's first celebrity autopsy, performed while he was a pathologist in the county coroner's office. Monroe was found in her bedroom on 4 August 1962, her lifeless body stretched out on her bed, with an empty bottle of sleeping pills nearby. Based on Noguchi's autopsy, chief coroner Theodore Curphey concluded that Monroe died from an overdose of drugs -- specifically the sedatives chloral hydrate and Nembutal. Curphey ruled the case "probable suicide."

ROBERT F. KENNEDY was shot by assassin Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles's Ambassador Hotel on 5 June 1968. Noguchi's autopsy suggested that the shot which killed Kennedy had been fired from three inches away -- not from a few feet as most observers had described. This led conspiracy theorists to declare that Sirhan must have been joined by a second gunman -- a notion similar to conspiracy theories about the death of RFK's brother John F. Kennedy. Noguchi agreed that his evidence did not match what observers saw, but declared in Coroner that "My own professional instinct instructs me that Sirhan somehow killed Senator Kennedy alone."

SHARON TATE was a rising young actress when she and four friends were murdered on 9 August 1969 at a hillside estate in Bel-Air. (The slayings and subsequent conviction of Charles Manson were described in the best-selling book Helter Skelter by prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi.) Noguchi's office performed the autopsy on Tate and the other victims, and helped tie the murder weapons to the later deaths of Leno and Rosemary La Bianca, also killed by Manson's gang.

JANIS JOPLIN died of a heroin overdose on the morning of 5 October 1970 in Hollywood's Landmark Hotel. Her fellow rock star Jimi Hendrix had died in London two weeks earlier from a fatal mix of sleeping pills and alcohol, making Joplin's demise all the more sensational. Noguchi ruled death by accidental overdose; his investigation showed that Joplin had probably injected herself with heroin that was unusually pure and strong, leading to her death.

Comedian FREDDIE PRINZE shot himself in the head in front of his manager, Martin Snyder, on 29 January 1977. Prinze had reportedly been despondent; given the eyewitness and the overwhelming evidence (including blood tests which showed the presence of Quaaludes), the coroner ruled suicide. Prinze's family later challenged the ruling and won, convincing a jury that Prinze was playing a prank and had not expected the gun to go off. The jury called the shooting accidental and Prinze's family collected on his $200,000 life insurance policy.

WILLIAM HOLDEN's body was found in his Santa Monica apartment on 16 November 1981, discovered by a building worker who let himself in with a passkey. Holden had a two-inch gash in his forehead and had bled profusely. Toxicology reports found his blood alcohol level was .22 percent, more than twice the legal driving limit of .10 percent; investigation suggested the actor had been dead for four days. Noguchi concluded that Holden, intoxicated, had tripped on a rug, hit his head on a teak bedside table, and then passed out and died from loss of blood. Noguchi caused an uproar when he announced his findings publicly, upsetting those who felt the unfortunate details of Holden's death should have been kept private.

Two weeks after Holden's death, on the night of 28 November 1981, actress NATALIE WOOD disappeared from the yacht Splendour off Catalina Island. The next morning her body was found floating face-down in the ocean a mile away, dressed in a nightgown, socks, and a waterlogged down jacket. The yacht's dinghy was found drifting even farther away. Wood, her husband Robert Wagner and their guest Christopher Walken had been drinking earlier on the evening of the 28th, and rumors of drunken fights or foul play aboard the Splendour quickly appeared in tabloid newspapers and magazines. Noguchi ruled the death accidental, deciding that Wood must have untied the dinghy, fallen into the water, and then drowned. Left undetermined was why Wood had untied the dinghy in the first place.

JOHN BELUSHI was only 33 when he died in bungalow #3 at the Chateau-Marmont Hotel on 5 March 1982. (Earlier he had visited the Roxy nightclub with Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams.) Noguchi performed the initial examination of Belushi's body at the hotel, but by coincidence Noguchi was on the same day asked to step down from his post. The autopsy was performed by Dr. Ronald Kornblum, who ruled death by accidental overdose of cocaine and heroin, a combination sometimes called a "speedball." An acquaintance of Belushi's, Cathy Smith, was later sentenced to a short prison term for supplying Belushi with the drugs.

Belushi was Noguchi's last big case as chief coroner. He accepted a lesser post and remained with the county until his retirement in 1999.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Roy Scheider aka Chief Brodey of Jaws has Died

Hollywood has lost another star. This time it’s Roy Scheider, who was 75. Scheider was possibly best known for his role as Cheif Brodey in Steven Spielberg's 1975 film, "Jaws ," the enduring classic about a killer shark terrorizing beachgoers as well as millions of moviegoers. Although “Jaws” frightened some moviegoers out of
the water for years, Scheider told the AP in 1986 that he considered his role somewhat comedic. “If you go back and look at the way it’s developed and built, that is really a funny character,” he said. “He’s a fumbler with all kinds of inhibitions and fears — that’s the way we built that
character.” In 2005, one of Scheider’s most famous lines in the movie — “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” — was voted No. 35 on the American Film Institute’s list of best quotes from U.S. movies.
Jaws ” was the first movie to earn $100 million at the box office. Scheider once said, “I’ve been fortunate to do what I consider three landmark films,” he told The Associated Press in 1986. “ ‘The French Connection’ spawned a whole era of the relationship between two policemen, based on an enormous amount of truth about working on the job. “ Jaws ’ was the first big, blockbuster outdoor-adventure film. And certainly ‘All That Jazz’ is not like any old MGM musical. Each one of these films is unique, and I consider myself fortunate to be associated with them.”

Born into a working class family in Orange, N.J., he was stricken with rheumatic fever at 6. He spent long periods in bed, becoming a voracious reader. Except for a slight heart murmur, he was pronounced cured at 17. He acquired the distinctive shape of his nose in an amateur boxing match. After three years in the Air Force, Scheider sought a New York theater career in 1960. His debut came a year later as Mercutio in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Romeo and Juliet.” He also played minor roles in such films as “Paper Lion” and “Stiletto.” Then he made a breakthrough in 1971 as Jane Fonda’s pimp in “Klute.”

“He was a wonderful guy. He was what I call ‘a knockaround actor,’ ” Richard Dreyfuss, who co-starred with Scheider and Robert Shaw in “Jaws ” said Sunday. “A ‘knockaround actor’ to me is a compliment that means a professional that lives the life of a professional actor and doesn’t yell and scream at the fates and does his job and does it as well as he can,” Dreyfuss said.

Scheider died Sunday at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital in Little Rock, hospital spokesman David Robinson said.

The hospital did not release a cause of deat, but Scheider had been treated for multiple myeloma at the hospital’s Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy for the past two years.

I know for myself after seeing Jaws I'm still scared to go in the water. Yes, I know it was a fictional shark. Yes, I know it had theatrical effects, but even the music alone... boomp, boomp, boomp, boomp, I can hear it in my head .. (you know something bad is going to happen) ... the movie has had lasting effects. Which is why in my previous post about young suffer Bethanie Hamilton, who survived a shark attack and still surfs... I have go give her more than credit for "going back into the water!"

Monday, February 11, 2008

King Tut Most Likely Died of a Broken Leg

It's official: King Tutankhamun's death was most likely caused by a badly broken and infected leg, refuting murderous theories about the famous Pharaoh's demise 3,300 years ago, according to Egyptian radiologists.

Ever since King Tut was first examined by x-ray in 1968, revealing what appeared to be a fractured skull, it has been believed that the he was killed by a blow to the back of the head. Turmoil and religious upheaval in Ancient Egypt during his reign supports the theory that the boy king met a violent end.

However, recent medical imaging of the mummy refutes this widely accepted theory, presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. "There was no evidence of violent premortum trauma to the skull," according to Ashraf Selim, from the Cairo University in Egypt. "But there is a possible femoral fracture that may have led to his death."

Other, smaller leg fractures led the team to conclude that King Tut was likely involved in an accident days before his death, in which he broke his leg badly. Although the break itself was not life-threatening, it would have left an open wound which could have become lethally infected.
The images revealed no evidence of a skull fracture, and the researchers believe the loose bone pieces in the skull, imaged in 1968, originated from a mishap during mummification which broke off parts of the first vertebra.

King Tut ascended to the throne when he was only 8 years old, died at the age of 19 and was entombed in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. His reign, in which all decisions are believed to be made by his advisor Ay, was only moderately significant and many historians believe he was quickly forgotten. Ay, previously misidentified as the murderer, took the throne after King Tut's death.

However, King Tut became Ancient Egypt's most famous pharaoh when his tomb was discovered almost completely intact by Howard Carter in 1922. All other royal tombs had been completely empty when discovered, thanks to gold-hungry tomb-raiders.

Now, the mummy of King Tut remains in a terrible state. Carter's team was mostly interested in removing the jewelry from the Pharoh's body, which involved hacking the body into several pieces, as the jewelry was stuck to the body by resin. Since then, the mummy has been X-rayed twice, once in 1968 and once in 1978.

This time around, the researchers found some of the pieces reported missing in 1968, including the King's penis (see Cosmos, Issue 1, p 39), thumb and parts of the vertebrae lying loose in the sand around the body. This study is part of a five-year project to image and preserve what is left of Egypt's mummies.

"This is the first ever CT evaluation of an identified ancient Royal mummy," Selim said. The CT scan acquired approximately 19,000 2D x-ray images of the body, which was reconstructed to give a 3D image. The inventors of CT scanning won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1979, because of the significant advances over 2D x-ray images. Radiologists use it to differentiate between various types of soft tissue and bone. Most importantly for fragile mummies, the body does not have to be moved repeatedly.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Organ Donor Deal

Has Vermont got a deal for you. In an effort to drum up more organ donors, Vermont is offering a trade - organ donation - after death, naturally - in exchange for no driver's license fees for the rest of your life.

Me, I think they should kick in some Ben and Jerry's too! : )

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Interesting Findings on Napoleon's Death

Was the French emperor whispering his last words, "Head of Army! While he was poisoned by wary enemies? Recent days scientists say Napoleon Bonaparte died from an advanced case of gastric cancer and not arsenic poisoning as some had speculated.

Thus far we know that the cause of his death was from arsenic found in his hair concluding a death of poisoning. However, attempting to solve the puzzle a new study combining current medical knowledge, autopsy reports, Bonaparte's physician memoirs, eyewitness accounts, and family medical histories, found that gastrointestinal bleeding was the immediate cause of death.

Well one question is answered, but a new one has risen: What caused the gastric cancer?

By the original autopsy descriptions indicated that Bonaparte's stomach had two ulcerated lesions: a large one on the stomach and a smaller one that had pierced through the stomach wall and reached the liver. Based on autopsy reports, it is impossible to determine conclusively that the tumor that reportedly killed Napoleon's father was cancerous. And none of Napoleon's siblings were subject to autopsy, making his sister's stomach cancer diagnosis dubious.

I believe this is one of those controversies that will live on forever. (source: Notelay)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

More Bottle Houses! Get Your Fill at This Site!

Who knew that bottle houses were so common. If you read my post about the house built from embalming bottles, you might be quite suprised to know that there are quite a few of these homes across the world. Interesting enough; Knotts Berry Farm (the Jelly People) have one called Calico House: Nothing is known of the Calico House's origins. It might have been created in Calico or brought there from another ghost town, possibly even Nevada. But it is also possible that this is a modern reproduction.

Walter Knott (of Knott's Berry Farm amusement park fame) bought the ghost town of Calico in 1951 and restored it from old photos. Therefore, Calico is a mix of original buildings and replicas built on remaining foundations. In 1966, Knott donated the town to San Bernardino County.

Knott's Berry Farm has a simulated ghost town and a Bottle House made from over three thousand whiskey bottles (another account says over five thousand bottles). It is used as the "Indian Trader" store today. Knott visited the Rhyolite Bottle House in the early 1950s and took pictures which were used in building this miniature replica.

For a great read check out this site "Other Bottle Houses" which gives you the why, how and where. And, for more bottle houses go to the 2nd page ... you'll get your fill on the subject : )

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Treasured Memory Bears - Something to Hold on to for Comfort

Beautiful Site. Beautiful Idea. Treasured Memory Bears. They make beautiful keepsake teddy bears out of cherished clothing. Here is how it works:

  • A client sends us clothes that have meaning. Here are some examples of clothes that our clients have sent:
  • Wedding Dress
  • Christening Gown
  • Dad’s Favorite Bathrobe
  • Communion Dress
  • Mom’s Favorite Housedress
  • Overalls
  • Jeans and Rock Concert T-Shirt
  • Flannel Shirt
  • Mom’s Last Nightgown
  • Baby Clothes and Bibs
  • Unfinished Quilt
  • Dog Blanket and Leash

After discussing the overall design with the client and photographing each piece of clothing, they will construct the bear using the fabrics provided. Since the entire body of the bear will be made with the clothing provided, the stiffness or softness of the bear will depend upon the fabric provided. They add a childsafe nose and a pair of child-safe eyes and any finishing touches.
The bear is photographed and then shipped back to the client.

I think the price is very reasonable and it is something to hold onto during grief. Hospice gave me one when my mom passed away. It wasn't made from any of her belongings, but I was touched by the gesture. This would be awesome. Oh, and these people make quilts too! Plus, you can have one made if your pet passes. This is a very good site!!!!!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Post Mortem - Info and Photos of Victorian Funerals

Came across a really cool site this morning called "Post Mortem". Lots of historical and interesting information and victorian photos. Worth a look seek ....

Did you know that in the late 1800's and early 1900's, funeral parlors would allow family members to take photos of their loved one's as a way of remembrance (they still do it in the south) or, if the family was too poor to have one taken while they were still alive, sometimes the funeral parlor would take on for them.

And, did you know....

...that most wood caskets do not seal? If you want one that seals, you have to specify that when picking or ordering one.

...that casket come in a huge variety of materials? They range from hard cloth covered compressed cardboard, to particle-board, fiberboard, pine, oak, maple, ash, mahogany, etc. Then there's 16, 18 & 20 gauge stainless steel caskets. Copper & bronze caskets can go as high as 48 ounce. There's also casket made from manufactured stone. There used to be cast iron caskets w/ glass viewing window.

...that in the old days, they would pack the funeral parlor (or the family's home if the wake was held there) with tons of flowers as a way of masking the odor of a decaying corpse? Embalming wasn't really perfected until the 20th century, and caskets were often placed on a cooling board, which resembled a tub or crate of ice under the body to slow down the decaying process.

...that around that late 1800's & early 1900's, businesses used for funeral purposes were just called Undertaker. (You've probably seen this in old western movies) The term "Undertaker" was forced to change to funeral home (or parlor) in order to sound less morbid?

for more victorian info and history check out this interesting site!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bobby FIsher - - Game Over

How sad, how sad, how sad.

I am not into Chess. I did however know who Bobby Fisher was ... a chess champion; but had no idea how important and impressive he really was. So when I read this morning that he had died, I was very amazed at his obit. "The U.S. chess Grandmaster Bobby Fisher died at age 64 of an unknown illness, (the Post and Sun -- said Kidney Failure) -- the national radio station in Iceland reported on Friday. Fisher moved to Iceland in 2005 and later obtained his citizenship, after the U.S. authorities pursued in arresting him mainly for violating President George H. W. Bush’s executive order in 1992 of not engaging in economic activities with Yugoslavia (Fisher chose to play against Spassky, despite the order).

The former world chess champion was pronounced dead on Thursday, at a Reykjavik hospital, but no further details have been released to the press. Fisher was the first and only U.S.-born champion, in a sport where the Soviets always had the lead. “It’s really the free world against the lying, cheating, hypocritical Russians,” he used to say.

In 1972, Fischer was propelled to international fame after his thrilling world championship win over the Soviet Union's Boris Spassky in Reykjavik.

The victory in the classic Cold War showdown made Fischer America's first world chess champion in more than a century.

However, Fischer quickly became known more for his idiosyncrasies than for his talent.

In 1975, Fischer forfeited his title to another Soviet, Anatoly Karpov, when he refused to play against him in Manila.

In 1992, after years in recluse, Fischer agreed to play Spassky again in an exhibition rematch on the Yugoslav resort island of Sveti Stefan.

Because of the location of the match, Fischer became a wanted man in the U.S. for violating sanctions imposed on the former Yugoslavia.

He then disappeared until after the 9/11 attacks. In an interview with a Phillippine radio station, Fischer applauded the strikes and said he wanted to see the U.S. "wiped out," reports Reuters.

Frank Brady, author of "Bobby Fisher: Profile of a Prodigy", told CTV Newsnet on Friday that the man's anti-Semitic remarks and anti-American statements helped to propel his infamy.

"Certainly he was the greatest chess player that every lived and he was famous because of what he did on the chess board, but he was certainly infamous for what he did off the chess board," Brady said.

Brady said Fisher's antics became increasingly more bizarre as he aged.

"He just sort of went bad, he went mean in the latter part of his life," he said.

However, Brady said the chess genius never uttered a controversial word prior to 1972, leading the first half of his life as a "polite" yet "arrogant" champion.

In July 2004, Fischer was held in a Japanese detention centre after having been caught trying to leave the country using an invalid U.S. passport.

Following his release in March 2005, Fischer unzipped his pants near the airport entrance and gestured as if he was going to urinate on the wall.

The outspoken Fischer accused Japan and the U.S. of "kidnapping" him.

Known for his anti-Semitic views, Fischer also said he was being hounded by the U.S because it was "Jew-controlled."

Reached in France, Spassky told The Associated Press he was "very sorry" to hear of Fischer's death. (sources: post, sun, CVAT, eflux)


The more I read about Fisher the sadder it was. It seems he was a genius trapped in his own mind of genius. According to press; he was a recluse, angry, disoriented, could not follow conversation and unusual .... He ditched his family years ago, his country and, well, I don't quite know what to say. For some reason, his death bothers me in that he was so smart, yet his genius made him mentally different from everyone else and himself .... I wish that mental illnesses could be addressed better from both a medical point of view, financial point of view and stereotyping point of view.... I wish people could realize when they need help. There is so much more I could ramble about on this issue - because you see and hear so much, but I won't. I'll just close in saying I find it very sad that someone of his intellect and genius did not live what I would consider a full life (he may have felt he did live a full live), or at least one that was not as angry and incoherent as he was.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Self Destructing Palm Tree.... Wicked

Interesting story. A palm tree that kind of mimics the legendery Phoenix. A self-destructing palm tree that flowers once every 100 years and then dies has been discovered on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, botanists said Thursday.

The name of the giant palm and its remarkable life cycle will be detailed in a study by Kew Gardens scientists in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society published Thursday.

"It's spectacular. It does not flower for maybe 100 years and when it's like this it can be mistaken for other types of palm," said Mijoro Rakotoarinivo, who works for the London botanical gardens in Madagascar. "But then a large shoot, a bit like an asparagus, grows out of the top of the tree and starts to spread. You get something that looks a bit like a Christmas tree growing out of the top of the palm," he said. The branches of this shoot then become covered in hundreds of tiny white flowers that ooze with nectar, attracting insects and birds.

But the effort of flowering and fruiting depletes the tree so much that within a few months it collapses and dies, said botanist Dr. John Dransfield, author of the study.Dransfield noted that "even for Madagascar this is a stupendous palm and an astonishing discovery."

The palm tree, which grows to 66 feet in height and has about 16-foot leaves, is only found in an extremely remote region in the northwest of the country, some four days by road from the capital. Local villagers have known about it for years although none had seen it in flower until last year. The bizarre flowering ritual was first spotted by Frenchman Xavier Metz, who runs a cashew plantation nearby. After seeing it he notified Kew Gardens.

Puzzling Dransfield is how botanists had missed such a "whopping palm" until now. According to him it is the largest palm species in the country but there appear to be only about 100 in existence. source

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

In Death .... Flying High! Pets can too!

Pretty cool story. The Eternal Ascent Association; where you can be cremated and placed in a balloon. Your loved one or pet can now be safely transported to the heavens in a giant helium-filled balloon, (only from the Eternal Ascent Society.) According to their home page, they started out as a party store: "Gift in a Balloon" selling wedding and party related items with the main focus being balloons with various items inside (i.e., hats, flowers, chocolates, etc.). One night they were having dinner with friends and they were discussing a mutual acquaintance who was very ill. The conversation turned to "what do you want to have done with you after you are gone?" When it was Clyde's turn (the owner)he said, "I don't care. Just have me cremated, put me in a balloon and send me off". The idea for the Eternal Ascent Society was born.

Their service is elegantly simple. After processing the cremated remains they place them in a 5-foot, biodegradable balloon. They inflate the balloon with Helium inside a patented inflation chamber, transport the balloon in the inflation chamber to a site chosen by the family and release it to the heavens. When released, the balloon slowly ascends to a height of approximately 30,000 feet. During the balloon's ascent it expands and at a height of approximately 6 miles (where it is 40 degrees below zero) it freezes and fractures, scattering the ashes to the four winds.
This is really pretty cool. My only problem is that I am now humming the "Rocky" theme song - " ... flying high now, gotta fly now...." The girl can't help it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Photographer Captures Thoughts, Death and Life Beautifully

You know, there are many types of death. You can be alive and dead at the same time. And, some people can grasp this concept through the lens of a camera or some other artistic way. I came across this site that is both disturbing and beautiful at the same time. Either way, this guy makes you think. I pulled up two pictures that really struck me. One, an empty church... superimposed over a hymnal. You have to pull the picture up to see the beauty and the thoughtfulness of the shot ... the photographer did a wonderful job. His photos capture the present, the past, the truth and how people are. Love his words which explain his shots. And then, an abandoned psychiatric hospital...

Very worth checking out this beautiful site (by it looks like a young artist.) Also looks like he sells some prints. His minds eye is on target and really makes you think. Would love anyone's comments on this artist .... (Vaporiss) (Click on picture to get to direct link to picture).

Artist's Comments:

i went alone this time.
into the church.
the floor was flooded.
i'd like to think of it as holy water.
stack of books.
cover reads "the hymnal for youth"read the writing.
every other page the word "snake".
other words revealing the youth.
the youth that once flooded the church.

It's sad to see someones entire life on a piece of paper.
Laying on the floor.
Covered in dust.
I won't forget you.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Woman Found Dead in Tow Yard

The body of an elderly woman was discovered in the front passenger side of a crumpled car in a San Fernando Valley towing company's yard -- a day after paramedics had removed her son from the same vehicle after a crash, authorities said. The woman, whose identity was not released, had apparently been left in the car at the accident scene in Tarzana even as her son was taken to a hospital, police said. The car was towed away and no one thought anything of it until the family reported there were two people in the car.

Police conducted a follow-up to the tow yard, and discovered the woman inside the vehicle," she was dead."LAPD detectives and officials swarmed the vehicle lot at Howard Sommers Towing Inc., an official police impound and tow yard in Canoga Park, trying to determine how city paramedics and traffic officers had failed to spot the woman in the damaged vehicle. The slightly built woman had been concealed beneath an air bag that had deployed during the accident, police said. The vehicle was badly banged-up after crashing into a building. [LA Times]

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Anatomist .... Gray's Anatomy Revealed

Found a great "downtime"read The Anatomist: A True Story of Gray's Anatomy . As anyone in the medical field, mortuary field; any field involving the body.... or just plain curiosity knows; "Gray's Anatomy" is a staple.

Think about it. The book was written before computers, videos; Medical Shows (Dr. Gannon; Dr. Kildare or heaven forbid Dr. McDreamy ; ). This was the book that showed how the body "fit together." First published in 1858, "Gray's Anatomy" has NEVER been out of print and is one of the most enduring and famous textbooks in the English language. It's detailed anatomical diagrams and descriptions continue to influence the artists of today and the past.

"The Anatomist" written by Bill Hayes attempts to reveal the man behind the diagrams, Henry Gray. As you read, you find out that "Gray's Anatomy" is pretty much all that remains of the London medical student who became one of the reading anatomists of his day prior to his death in 1861 at age 34. None of Gray's letters, journals or manuscripts have survived.

Interestingly enough, Hayes also announces another discovery... that thought the book bears his name, Gray did not actually draw any of it's 400 diagrams. The drawings were the handiwork of Gray's collaborator, H.V. Carter, whose name was left off some subsequent editions of the book.

If you are looking for something to read, "The Anatomist" will delight, surprise and interest you.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Chet Fitch's Cards Were Truly Heaven Sent

This is one of the warmest, funniest and nicest stories I read over the holidays. I wish more people could have Chete Fitch's personality, warmth and humor.

Even in death, Chet Fitch is a card.

Fitch, known for his sense of humor, died in October at age 88 but gave his friends and family a start recently: Christmas cards, 34 of them, began arriving - written in his hand with a return address of "Heaven."

The greeting read: "I asked Big Guy if I could sneak back and send some cards. At first he said no; but at my insistence he finally said, 'Oh well, what the heaven, go ahead but don't (tarry) there.' Wish I could tell you about things here but words cannot explain.

"Better get back as Big Guy said he stretched a point to let me in the first time, so I had better not press my luck. I'll probably be seeing you (some sooner than you think). Wishing you a very Merry Christmas. Chet Fitch"

A friend for nearly 25 years, Debbie Hansen Bernard said, "All I could think was, 'You little stinker.'" "It was amazing," she said. "Just so Chet, always wanting to get the last laugh."
The mailing was a joke Fitch worked on for two decades with his barber, Patty Dean, 57. She told the Ashland Daily Tidings this week that he kept updating the mailing list and giving her extra money when postal rates went up. This fall, she said, Fitch looked up to her from the chair. "You must be getting tired of waiting to mail those cards," he told her. "I think you'll probably be able to mail them this year."

He died a week later. (source)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Northstar Gallery ... Great Selection of Cemetery Art

Interesting site: Northstar Gallery. Great photos by a person who photographs memorial and cemetery art from around the world. This project explores the conscious and unconscious themes and symbolic content of the art. At issue is of course man's struggle with transcendence and his own mortality. As the project progressed, he began to discover many very sensual images of beautiful young women depicted in the memorial art in the cemeteries Intriguing questions emerged around the significance of this particular art form in the cemetery. How is it that these very powerful images have come to offer solace at times of loss, what is the significance of the link between Thantos and Eros in this very powerful art form? These questions have launched an extended research project on the issue. The research continues, however to date the following information and insights have emerged. I would greatly welcome viewer comments on this work. It is my intent that this project will emerge as a book in the near future. To view more classic memorial art click here.