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Thread: Bizarre and Disturbing Occurrences, Quotes and Anecdotes

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    Bizarre and Disturbing Occurrences, Quotes and Anecdotes

    I've filed this under 'Paranormal Phenomena & the Unexplained', but this thread isn't for the paranormal. It's geared towards the weird (), the difficult to explain, the downright bizarre and the macabre.

    So, to start us off with a relatively tame little tale...

    Dog Deaths at Overtoun Bridge



    Overtoun House is a 19th-century country house and estate in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland ... Overtoun Bridge, an arched approach bridge over the Overtoun Burn, has gained media attention because of the unusually large number of dogs that have reportedly leaped to their deaths there over a number of decades.

    It is not known exactly when or why dogs began to leap from the bridge, but studies indicate that these deaths might have begun during the 1950s or 1960s, at the rate of about one dog a month. The long leap from the bridge onto the waterfalls of the Overtoun Estate almost always results in immediate death. Inexplicably, some dogs have actually survived, recuperated, and then returned to the site to jump again. These dogs are known to the locals of Dumbarton as “second timers.” The dogs have mostly jumped from one side of the bridge, during clear weather, and have mostly been breeds with long noses.
    Cracked's take on it:

    Located near Scotland's charming little village of Milton in the peaceful burgh of Dumbarton, the Overtoun Bridge is a local arch construction where no human beings have ever died in any suspicious circumstances whatsoever over the last few decades.

    However, during that span, for reasons we can't begin to possibly understand, hundreds and hundreds of dogs have killed themselves there. It appears that dogs have been plunging off of Overtoun since the early 60s, at a rate of one animal a month... bringing the total number today to around 600 mutts, who for some reason, decided to end it all.

    And we're not talking about a series of unfortunate accidents that could have been avoided with a simple guard rail. People who actually witnessed the reported dogs willingly climbing the parapet wall and leaping to their doom with dumbass doggy grins on their faces. Whether they were crying blood remains to be confirmed.

    Theories on why is this happening have been all over the place, from particularly aromatic rodents to a simple stream of bizarre coincidences. We call bullshit on both seeing as--to paraphrase Ian Fleming--"Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action and over 600 is clearly the work of an ancient Sumerian demon or some shit."

    To further drive the point home, it has been observed that certain dogs that jumped off the bridge and survived, fucking climbed back up and THREW THEMSELVES TO THEIR DEATHS ALL OVER AGAIN.

    Because the great Overtoun demon's hunger will not be appeased with tries. He demands fresh canine blood, and lots of it.

    http://www.cracked.com/article/181_t...-places-earth/

    Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overtou...vertoun_Bridge

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    Senior Member Wulfram's Avatar
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    The Beast of Gévaudan

    102 victims. Was this an actual animal, or a group of aristocrat serial killers?

    This print, as well as the others, date from the 1760s:


    The Gévaudan province, France


    The following passages were found at various sources:

    For the residents of the tiny district of Gévaudan, nestled high in the Margeride Mountains of south-central France, the terror began one day in June of 1764. On that day, a young peasant from the village of Langogne was out tending her family's herd of cattle in the Forêt de Mercoire. Suddenly, a tremendous wolf-like animal loped out of the forest, heading towards the girl. Her dogs turned tail and ran at the sight of this terrifying apparition; the cattle charged at the monster. Seemingly undeterred by the cattle, the creature continued to make its way towards the young shepherdess. The cattle charged it once more, this time driving it back into the forest from whence it came.

    This young woman was much luckier than many later victims of la Bête Anthropophage du Gévaudan (the man-eating beast of Gévaudan), for very few survived an attack by the monster. Descriptions varied widely, but most agreed that it was wolf-like, though nearly the size of a cow. Its chest was wide, its tail long and thin with a lion-like tuft of fur at its end. Its snout was like that of a greyhound, and large fangs protruded from its formidable jaws. The beast was believed to be incredibly agile - it was credited with taking leaps of up to 30 feet. The Paris Gazette, carrying a story about the monster, commented that it was reddish in colour, that its chest was wide and grey, and that the hind legs were longer than the fore legs. Another account of the beast, published in the English Saint James' Chronicle, stated that the beast was probably a member of "a new species". Here we have what is quite possibly the first mention of the beast in a cryptozoological light.

    Although the story of the Beast of Gévaudan is doubtless embellished greatly in terms of its size and other features, the facts remain: some sort of large creature was ravaging the district, killing people more often than livestock. The beast seems to have had a definite preference for attacking victims around the head, oftentimes crushing the skull and eating the entrails. Wounds of this type were also displayed by victims of a similar creature which prowled Limerick, Ireland, more than a century later.

    After three long years of terror in the region and the shooting of "wolves" supposed to be the beast (by Antoine de Beauterne, King Louis XV's chief huntsman), the monster was finally killed at the Sogne d'Aubert by a hermit named Jean Chastel.

    So who, or what, was the beast? Popular opinion at the time held it to be punishment from God, a Loup-Garou (werewolf), or some sort of demon summoned by a sorcerer. (In fact, some claimed to have seen the beast in the company of a man.) Many more believed that it was a wolf or some other natural creature, citing a number of instances in which two or more beasts, presumably a mated pair with cubs, had been seen together. Other explanations offered by the learned folk of the day held that the beast was a bear, a wolverine, or even a baboon. Some modern researchers believe it to have been a serial killer who took advantage of a wolf in the area. Another popular theory is that the beast was a wolf-dog hybrid.

    A well-known Celtic sculpture commonly known as the "Tarasque" of Noves, found at the base of the Pyrenees in France, depicts a large wolf-like animal similar to the Beast of Gévaudan. Each of its front paws rests on a human head, and a human arm is under its large jaw. A similar sculpture found at Linsdorf, in Alsace, France, may perhaps have been used to hold a human skull. These animals have been thought to be lions, wolves, bears, or imaginary monsters.

    A similar creature was referred to as the arenotelicon in medieval bestiaries. The arenotelicon, which was thought to dwell in wild forests, was widely believed to be a European relative of the hyena or tiger. The creature had a serrated ridge down its spine, feet armed with prodigious claws, a maned neck (a feature which appears on some depictions of the Beast of Gévaudan), and was either hairless or covered in short hair. A creature similar to the arenotelicon was supposedly captured around 1530. According to some sources this happened in the Hauberg Forest, Saxony, German, while others say it occurred in the Fannsberg Forest, Salzburg, Austria. It was "yellowish-carnation" in colour.

    There have also been creatures reported in more recent times that are similar to the Beast of Gévaudan. One could perhaps refer to these mysterious creatures, which are often reported to kill sheep, as "maulers." The following list details some of these modern reports.


    This tiny province of Gévaudan first became aware of the Beast in June, 1764. That month, a young woman was attacked by a large, wolf-like monster in the Forêt de Merçoire near Langogne. She was one of the few people who survived an encounter with "la Bête", a creature which was, peculiarly, referred to in the feminine.

    In 1765, King Louis XV himself sent an experienced wolf-hunter named Denneval to Gévaudan to kill the Beast. Before Denneval himself managed to track down the Beast, a man named de la Chaumette saw the Beast near his home, near St.-Chely. He and his two brothers went out to a pasture in hopes of killing the Beast. They shot it twice, but it still didn't die.

    In June, 1765, Denneval gave up his hunt. The previous month, King Louis sent out his chief gun-carrier, Antoine de Beauterne. On September 21, he launched a hunt in the Béal Ravine, near Pommier. He shot what he believed was the Beast. It was an extremely large wolf, 6 feet long. De Beauterne's kill was preserved up until this century in the Museum of Natural History in Paris.

    Appendix: The carcass of De Beauterne's kill was found in the basement of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. It was identified as a wolf, after which time the body was supposedly discarded due to poor condition. It was recently rediscovered by zoologist Franz Jullien, who has identified it as a striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena), normally native to Africa.



    This creature was reported being as big as a large calf or young cow, it was covered with a fur that was reddish, the head was big and wolf-like, and more brown than the rest of the body, the jaws are always gaping, the ears are short and straight, the chest white and very broad, the tail very long and thick, the tip white, the back paws very big and long, according to some having hooves like a horse, those of the front were shorter and covered with a long fur, having six claws to each paw.


    In the months following this first attack terror gripped the region as the beast continued its onslaught, seemingly favoring easy prey like women, children and lone men tending live stock in secluded pastures. The creature’s reported method of killing was unusual for a predator, seemingly targeting the head of its victims and ignoring the usual areas targeted by predators, including the legs and throat. Victims that were not devoured completely or carried off were often found with their heads crushed or completely removed, not a normal characteristic of known predators attack methods, including wolves.

    Due to the high number of attacks, some of which seemed to take please at almost the same time, people began to suspect that there may have been a pair of these beasts. In fact some reports did suggest that the creature was seen with another such animal, while others suggested that the beast was accompanied by its young. In some rare reported the beast was reportedly accompanied by a man, which lead to later speculations that the beast was actually trained to do these killings. As the Beast of Gevaudan continued its killing spree it began to take on more of a supernatural visage, guns seemed useless for even when the creature was shot it appeared unaffected.


    Just like the beast killed by Antoine de Beauterne this creature looked relatively like a wolf but was much bigger than any local wolves. The creature was soon gutted and the remains of a young girl were found inside. The Beast of Gevaudan was embalmed and taken from town to town so people could have a look at it, for a small fee of course. Sadly for modern science embalming techniques were not very good at the time and by the time the corpse reached the king it had begun to rot badly. The smell upset the king so badly the he ordered the body disposed of immediately. Reports vary on exactly what happened to the corpse at this point, some say it was burned while others say it was buried in an unknown location.

    The remains of the Beast of Gevaudan were never recovered, sparking more than two centuries of speculation as to the real identity of the creature. In 1960, after studying a notary report prepared by two surgeons who had examined the beast’s corpse in the 1700s, a researcher determined that the creature’s teeth were very wolf like. Franz Jullien, a taxidermist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, discovered that a stuffed specimen similar to the creature shot by Jean Chastel had been kept in the museum’s collection from 1766 thru 1819. This stuffed specimen had apparently been successfully identified as a striped hyena, native to Northern Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan and western India.

    Was the Beast of Gevaudan a hyena rather than a large wolf as originally determined? The idea was not new to Novelist Henri Pourrat and naturalist Gerard Menatory who had previously proposed the hyena hypothesis based on historical accounts. According to these accounts Antoine Chastel, Jean Chastel’s son, reportedly possessed a hyena in his menagerie, a seventeen century French term for keeping wild and exotic animals in human captivity. The discovery of this stuffed hyena, combined with accounts that the Chastels owned a pet hyena, led some investigators to suggest that the Chastels may have created the story of the Beast of Gevaudan in order to cover up rumors of one of them being a serial killer.

    Others have pointed out that some accounts of the beast included the sighting of a man with the creature. This has lead these researchers to speculate that the Chastels may have trained their hyena and possibly hyenas to attack people and then let them loose on the countryside, only to later kill their own pets and be hailed as a hero. This is pure speculation of course as no one knows for sure just what these creatures may have been or why they suddenly came out of the darkness to attack and terrify a small French province for over 3 years.
    The Beast of Gévaudan - The True Story

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronan View Post
    The Beast of Gévaudan
    French movie Le pacte des loups (Brotherhood of the wolf) is based on that.

    Recommended.

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    MonsterQuest had an episode on some giant wolf-beast that was roaming some rural part of the US somewhere. One person claimed to have the remains of one but it turned out to be a dog. The photos that she took of the bloated remains--it had been hit by a car--made it look more massive than it really was.

    I really enjoyed that show, it had some interesting episodes, but no longer receive the channel that occasionally includes it in its schedule. There was also another cryptozoology show on several years ago; the lead investigator was a blond-haired woman. Can't remember what it was called. Found that one kind of entertaining, too.

    I've been interested in this this kind of stuff since I was quite young due to a show called That's Incredible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gardisten View Post
    MonsterQuest had an episode on some giant wolf-beast that was roaming some rural part of the US somewhere. One person claimed to have the remains of one but it turned out to be a dog. The photos that she took of the bloated remains--it had been hit by a car--made it look more massive than it really was.

    I really enjoyed that show, it had some interesting episodes, but no longer receive the channel that occasionally includes it in its schedule. There was also another cryptozoology show on several years ago; the lead investigator was a blond-haired woman. Can't remember what it was called. Found that one kind of entertaining, too.

    I've been interested in this this kind of stuff since I was quite young due to a show called That's Incredible.
    I use to watch MonsterQuest all the time We might like the same shows, Gard. Ancient Aliens is good, River Monsters, Finding Bigfoot and of course anything on history or discovery channel. Those are my guilty pleasure shows lol.

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    What killed Edgar Allan Poe?

    On Oct. 3, 1849, Poe was found on the streets of Baltimore, delirious and wearing clothes that were not his own. The man who found him said he was “in great distress, and … in need of immediate assistance.” He remained incoherent and died four days later. He was only 40.

    An acquaintance said it was drunkenness, but he turned out to be a supporter of the temperance movement who distorted the facts. The attending physician wrote that “Edgar Allan Poe did not die under the effect of any intoxicant, nor was the smell of liquor upon his breath or person.”

    Well, what, then? Other theories include a rare brain disease, diabetes, enzyme deficiency, syphilis, even rabies. Some people think Poe was accosted, drugged, and used as a pawn in a plot to stuff ballot boxes that day.

    There’s no surviving death certificate, so we’ll never really know. Today Poe lies in the churchyard at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, where mystery follows him even in death: Every year since 1949, the grave has been visited by a mystery man in the early hours of the poet’s birthday, Jan. 19. Dressed in black and carrying a silver-tipped cane, the “Poe Toaster” kneels at the grave and makes a toast with Martel cognac. He leaves behind the half-empty bottle and three red roses.
    A double suicide?

    On New Year’s Day, 1963, two bodies were found in a lovers’ lane in Sydney, Australia. They belonged to Gilbert Bogle, a top research physicist, and his mistress. Both were partially undressed and covered with clothes and cardboard. Police could find no trace of poison; their hearts had simply stopped beating.

    To this day, no one has determined whether they were murdered, and if so, how or why. It is a perfect mystery.
    Did a UFO land here?

    Early space missions that passed over the featureless Sahara were surprised to see a 30-mile eye staring up at them. No one’s quite sure what it is. It’s too flat to be a crater or a volcano. If it’s simply an uplift laid bare by erosion, why is it so nearly circular? For now they’re just calling it the Richat Structure.


    An Early Serial Killer

    Wander too far away from the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 and you might disappear forever.

    Herman Mudgett, an enterprising serial killer, built a row of three-story buildings near the Chicago fair and opened it as a hotel. Guests discovered — too late — that it was a maze of more than 100 windowless rooms, where Mudgett would trap them, torture them in a soundproof chamber, and then asphyxiate them with a custom-fitted gas line.

    Then he’d send the bodies by chute to the basement, where he’d cremate them or sell them to a medical school.

    This went on for three years, until a fire broke out and police and firemen discovered the trap. No one knows how many people Mudgett killed; he confessed to 27, but estimates go as high as 230.

    He was hanged in Philadelphia in 1896.
    The Dorchester Pot



    The June 1851 issue of Scientific American reported that a zinc and silver vase had been blasted from solid rock 15 feet below the surface of Meeting House Hill in Dorchester, Mass. The bell-shaped vessel had floral designs inlaid with silver.

    Experts at the time estimated it to be about 100,000 years old, which would obviously throw everything we know out the window.

    Unfortunately, it disappeared after circulating through several museums. What’s the real story? Who knows?
    The Kingoodie Nail

    In 1844, Sir David Brewster discovered an iron nail in a block of stone in Scotland’s Kingoodie Quarry. The nail was embedded in a Cretaceous block from the Mesozoic era; in 1985, the British Geological Survey dated the bed at between 360 and 408 million years old.

    An iron nail has no business in the Mesozoic era, and no ordinary nail could avoid oxidation for more than 400 million years.

    So how’d it get there? No one knows.
    Rat Kings

    Every so often someone finds a bunch of rats whose tails are knotted together. It’s called a rat king. (This one, with 32 rats, was found in a German miller’s fireplace in 1829.)



    The rats are usually dead when they’re discovered, and no one has suggested a natural cause, so presumably humans are involved somehow.

    Typically the rats are fully grown adults, so they’re not born this way, and their tails are often broken and callused, which means they’ve survived in this state for some time, fed by humans or by other rats.

    Why would anyone do this? Who knows?

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    Maybe not quite what you're looking for, but I found this interesting:

    AN UPHEAVAL IN THE HIGHLANDS.; A SINGULAR OCCURRENCE ON THE EAST SIDE OF THE HUDSON HUGE TREES HURLED IN EVERY DIRECTION AND FENCES CARRIED AWAY.

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstrac...rrence%22&st=p

    another one from the NYT:

    STRANGE DREAM OF A WOMAN.

    MIDDLETOWN, July 6. [1878]--The Coroner's jury in the case of Policeman John Williamson, who shot himself on the night of June 30, to avoid arrest for arson, and was found in a dying condition in a rye field 12 hours afterward, have rendered a verdict of "suicide." His wife testified to dreaming a strange dream on the night of her husband's suicide. She dreamed some one told her that her little child was dead, and that she found him nearly dead in the field. She was awakened by a sound as of the breaking of a fence-rail, and found in the outhouse a pool of blood, which led to the discovery of her husband dying in a field, just as she had dreamed having found the child. Another witness testified to hearing some one in the field singing "The Sweet Bye and Bye," which was just after Williamson had shot himself.

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    The Legend of Sawney Bean and His Cannibal Clan

    The story of Sawney Bean is one of the most gruesome Scottish legends, the plot of which would not look out of place in any modern horror/slasher movie. Evidence suggests the tale dates to the early 18th century.

    Alexander Sawney Bean was - legend tells - the head of an incestuous cannibalistic family, who oversaw a 25-year reign of murder and robbery from a hidden sea cave on the Ayrshire/Galloway coast in the 15th century. The cave most readily associated with Sawney and his nefarious clan is close to Ballantrae on Bennane head in Ayrshire, although other sea caves along the Ayrshire and Galloway coast have also been associated with the story.

    There are numerous written sources detailing the account of Sawney and his family, and it has been suggested that the legend has its roots in real events, although this is unlikely as will be outlined later in this article. The tale appears in full and lurid detail in the succinctly titled Historical and Traditional Tales Connected with the South of Scotland by John Nicholson in 1843. The following is a watered down account of the tale based on Nicholson.

    The Legend

    Sawney Bean was born in the late 14th century, in a small East Lothian village not ten miles from Edinburgh. He began life as a hedger and ditcher, but, being prone to idleness and inclined towards dishonesty he ran away from home with a woman who was as viciously inclined as himself. Having no means to make a living they set up home in a sea cave in Galloway supporting themselves by robbing and murdering travellers and locals, and surviving on their victim's pickled and salted flesh. In time their family grew to an incestuous gang of 46 sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters. Their reign of terror did not go unnoticed: for one hundreds of people went missing over the years, and the Beans became so successful in their butchery that they cast unwanted limbs into the sea. These were washed up on distant and local beaches, much to the horror of the coastal communities. In time the areas reputation reached the ears of the authorities and, in these suspicious times, many innocent people were executed for Sawney's crimes. The hardest hit were innkeepers as, more often than not, the missing person was last seen in an inn or lodgings: suspicion naturally falling on those who had seen them last. This happened on so many occasions that numerous innkeepers fled to take up other less risky occupations, and the area became a shunned and depopulated place.

    Sawney's family had by now grown very large and started to attack larger groups, although never more than they thought they could overwhelm. They were confident they would not be discovered: the cave that they had chosen had kept them well hidden from prying eyes. The tide passed right into the mouth of the cave, which went almost a mile into the cliffs. It was estimated that in their 25-year reign of terror they had killed more than a thousand men women and children. They were finally discovered by fortunate chance: A man and his wife were returning from a local fayre on horseback - the man in front with his wife behind - when they were ambushed by the Bean family. The husband put a furious struggle with his sword and pistol and managed to plough through the villainous host. Unfortunately his wife lost her balance and fell from the horse, to be instantly butchered by the female cannibals, who ripped out her entrails and started to feast on her blood. Her horrified husband fought back even harder and was lucky that 30 or so other revellers from the fayre came along the path. The Bean family made a hasty retreat back to their hideout, as the man explained to the crowd what had happened. The husband went along with the group to Glasgow, magistrates were informed, who in turn told the King, James IV, who was so enthralled with the case that he took personal charge. Equipped with bloodhounds the King and a posse of 400 men made their way to the scene of the slaughter and the hunt began.

    The bloodhounds get all the credit for the capture of Sawney Bean: the King's men did not notice the well-hidden cave but the dogs could not ignore the strong smell of flesh that surrounded it. The men entered the cave and found a horrible scene: dried parts of human bodies were hanging all from the roof, pickled limbs lay in barrels, and all around piles of money and trinkets from the pockets of the dead lay in piles. The Beans made no attempt to escape all were caught alive and brought to Edinburgh in chains, where they were incarcerated in the Tollbooth, and the next day taken to Leith.

    The people were horrified when they heard about the crimes of Sawney Bean and his family and decided to give them a punishment even more barbaric. The execution was a slow one: the men bled to death after their hands and legs were cut off, and the women were burned alive after they were forced to watch the execution of the men. John Nicholson tells us about the execution as follows "...they all died without the least sign of repentance, but continued cursing and vending the most dreadful imprecations to the very last gasp of life."

    Truth in the Tale?

    The truth of the Sawney Bean legend is hard to confirm, but there are many factors which suggest the story is an 18th Century invention. It seems that the legend first saw print in the early 18th Century in the lurid broadsheets and chapbooks of the time. (See The Legend of Sawney Bean, London 1975 by Ronald Holmes for an excellent investigation into the myth.)These were all printed in England, but broadly match Nicholson's later rendering of the tale. The content of chapbooks was mainly invented and exaggerated stories about grisly deeds, executions, murders and other lurid accounts, aimed at shocking readers. They were evidently very popular and were certainly the forerunners of the Victorian Penny Dreadfuls.

    According to Fiona Black in The Polar Twins, the tale was probably an English invention to denigrate the Scots, especially in the period of unrest that saw the Jacobite rebellion. There are however records of periods of famine, and some occurrences of cannibalism, in Scotland in the late 15th century.

    Another sticking point is that there are no contemporary records from the time that even mention Sawney Bean. Although there are 'relatively' few records from the time, it is strange that such a high profile story, with the added involvement of the King James IV, has no historical evidence at all. There are also no records of the executions of the various innkeepers, and the disappearances of travellers in the Ayrshire area. Like many legends said to be based on fact - where contemporary evidence does not exist - it is possible that a grain of truth exists somewhere in the story. It is also impossible to conclusively prove that there is no truth at all in the story.
    Source

    Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sawney_Bean

    Another Scottish cannibal legend:

    Christie-Cleek

    Christie Cleek (or -Cleek or of-the-Cleek), is a legendary Scottish cannibal, somewhat in the vein of the better-known Sawney Bean. According to folklore, his real name was Andrew Christie, a Perth butcher. During a severe famine in the mid-fourteenth century (Hector Boece records floods, morrain and plagues of 'myce and ratonis' throughout Scotland in 1340), Christie joined a group of scavengers in the foothills of the Grampians. When one of the party died of starvation, Christie put his skills to work on the corpse, and provided his companions with a ready meal. The group obviously developed a taste for human flesh as, under Christie's leadership, they began to ambush travellers on the passes of the Grampians, feeding on their bodies and those of their horses. It is alleged that before attacking, Christie would haul his victims from their mounts with a hook on a rod: this implement was the 'cleke' (i.e., 'crook') from which he took his sobriquet. Thirty riders apparently died at Christie's hands. Eventually the company were defeated by an armed force from Perth, except for Christie himself, who supposedly escaped and re-entered society under a new name. The earliest versions of this narrative are much less detailed, recording only Christie's cannibalism and his methods of trapping prey. No mention is made of his accomplices or eventual fate.

    The parallels between Christie and Sawney Bean are obvious and insistent. One story may well have given rise to the other, or both may have been derived from a common source. While Bean far exceeds his counterpart in terms of notoriety, the Christie legend does appear to be the older of the two. Whereas tales of the Bean family do not appear before the eighteenth century, Christie's exploits are documented from the fifteenth century onwards. For instance, Andrew of Wyntoun's Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland (c.1420) refers to a figure called 'Chwsten Cleek' who, during a time of 'sae great default...that mony were in hunger dead', set up traps with the intent 'children and women for to slay,/ And swains that he might over-ta;/ And ate them all that he get might'. A little later, in an entry for 1341, Holinshed's Chronicles (c.1577) reports that:

    In the same year (as some do write) or (according unto other) in the year following, there was such a miserable death, both through England and Scotland, that the people were driven to eat the flesh of horses, dogs, cats, and such like unused kinds of meats, to sustain their languishing lives with all, yea, in so much that (as is said) there was a Scottish man, an uplandish fellow named Tristicloke, spared not to steal children, and to kill women, on whose flesh he fed, as if he had been a wolf.
    Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christie-Cleek

    The Christie Cleek narrative reminds me of the film Ravenous, [read further and risk spoilers] wherein a character gives a similar account of his party's turn to cannibalism and their developing a thirst for it. Like Cleek, he later assumes a new identity. Oh, and he's Scottish.

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    The Voynich Manuscript



    Somewhere deep inside the bowels of Yale's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library – the Ivy League institution's own cemetery of lost books – lies a tome that experts have studied for centuries, but which has yet to be understood by a single soul.

    The book has no known author or official title; Yale librarians simply refer to it as manuscript MS 408. But thanks to its peculiar language, symbols and diagrams – often strangely familiar, but insistently elusive in meaning – it has intrigued and frustrated anthropologists, linguists and mathematicians for centuries: even the elite cryptologists at the US National Security Agency drew a blank, after they spent years trying to decode it in the 1950s. And the time that some researchers have dedicated to the problem seems all the more remarkable given the possibility that, for all the complexity and consistency of the script it contains, it could simply be an elaborate hoax.

    Written in an as yet undecipherable language, with unknown letters or "glyphs" arranged into a form of seemingly consistent but unintelligible syntax, the book is commonly referred to as the Voynich manuscript, after the Polish-American bookseller Wilfrid Voynich, who acquired it in 1912. Its history, however, begins long before.

    Although the earliest suggested owner is Rudolf II, the 16th-century emperor of Bohemia, the first that we know of for sure is Georg Baresch, a 17th-century alchemist from Prague, who was so perplexed by the book that he sent it to Jesuit scholars in the hope that they might translate it.

    They failed, but they did pass it on to the Roman Jesuit University, from where it was whisked away to Frascati, near Rome, in 1870 to keep it safe from Vittorio Emanuele's marauding soldiers. It was bought by Voynich, and then donated to Yale in 1969.

    Recently, however, experts have arrived at what – in Voynich terms, at least – must count as a significant breakthrough: while we still don't understand a word, at least we know how old it is. Carbon-dating by scientists at the University of Arizona has allowed them to declare that the manuscript was prepared from animal skin in the early 1400s – making it roughly 100 years older than previously thought.

    The tests were done after Yale finally allowed the scientists to snip off tiny pieces from four different pages, selected at random. "The results seem to show quite clearly that the parchment for the book is from the early 1400s, between 1404 and 1438," says Dr Greg Hodgins, who works in the physics and anthropology departments at the University of Arizona. "And the fact that all four sections were dated to the same time appears to discount suggestions that the manuscript was added to over a period of many years or centuries."

    These results only show when the parchment for the book was obtained, not when it was written. However, previous ink analysis done by the McCrone Research Institute in Chicago suggests that it was placed on the parchment while it was relatively fresh.

    "By coming up with such a narrow time frame, we've effectively eliminated most of the theories about who wrote it," says Dr Hodgins. "The carbon-dating result also allows us to focus on what kind of scientific knowledge and encryption was around in this period."

    Professor Gonzalo Rubio, a specialist in ancient languages at the University of Pennsylvania, agrees that the carbon-dating result is significant. "This shows us that it's not a forgery," he says. "It wasn't written by Voynich himself, as some people suspected. It's a genuine artifact from the early 15th century." It also, he points out, eliminates the popular theory that the book was created by the noted 13th-century polymath Roger Bacon.

    Most theories about the book's meaning are inevitably informed by its illustrations, says Prof Rubio. These pictures, drawn in various shades of green, brown, yellow, blue, and red ink, are – like the script used in the manuscript's 240 remaining pages – unique. Yet while the words cannot be read, the illustrations provide a clue about the nature of the book. They suggest that the book was a scientific text, mostly an illustrated herbal manual with some additional sections on astronomy, biology and pharmaceuticals. The script itself is widely believed to be about alchemy, the medieval science with metaphysical and magical overtones, whose practitioners sought ways to turn base metals into gold.

    But what of the language it is written in? Some of the glyphs resemble Latin letters, suggesting a Voynich "alphabet" of around 20-30 different characters. These are arranged into word-like blocks up to 10 letters long, with a total word count of around 35,000. However, some scores of pages are thought to be missing.

    Many researchers have speculated that the strange alphabet was used to hide information that might have been heretical, suggesting that it was produced by transforming a European language through a cipher. But simple ciphers of the type used in the 15th century would almost certainly have been cracked by now.

    Other theories argue that the text's meaning is concealed in tiny markings on the individual characters themselves, or that it contains a naturally occurring, non-European language that has been rewritten with an invented alphabet. In 2003, Gordon Rugg, a computer scientist at Keele University, claimed to have created a bogus language similar to Voynichese by using a "grille" to place invented letters on a page at random. But doubts about the claims have since arisen. "I don't really think he proved or disproved anything," says Dr Hodgins.

    One of the theories that has gained ground in recent years, says Prof Rubio, is that the manuscript employs steganography to conceal its contents. This means that some or even most of the text is nonsense, and that only parts or even individual characters form part of the language. If this method was indeed employed, in addition to a cipher, then translating the contents might be exceedingly difficult.

    Put on the spot, Dr Hodgins says: "It's either a secret alchemical text, with the pictures telling a story – or, as some have suggested, it was created, or invented, to enable its author to profit from it by selling it as a precious manuscript."

    Prof Rubio is more sceptical, noting that despite sharing key structural similarities with known languages such as English and Latin, there is at least one troubling aspect about the book's structure. "For me, there's something strange about the text," he says. "The things we know as 'grammatical markers' – things that occur commonly at the beginning or end of words, such as 's' or 'd' in our language, and that are used to express grammar, never appear in the middle of 'words' in the Voynich manuscript. That's unheard of for any Indo-European, Hungarian or Finnish language.

    "I would venture that the manuscript was a prank, something made for fun or even done to send up alchemy texts around in the period. But the thing is so unique, it's hard to know: there's nothing to compare it with."

    He also denies the theory that if there were language present in the book, it would have been decoded by the experts. "The NSA cryptologists were working in the 1950s," he points out. "Computers have moved on since then." But he says that establishing once and for all whether there really is anything to be understood would require an up-to-date and dedicated team of linguists and computer scientists working together.

    "I don't think that's going to happen," he concludes, "because experts might spend 30 or 40 years of their lives on this and still not come up with an answer. And I don't think people will be prepared to do this."

    In short, it looks like the mysteries surrounding the planet's strangest manuscript are set to remain for a good while to come.
    Source

    Yale: http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dig...s/voynich.html

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    The Posthumous Peregrinations of Oklahoma Outlaw Elmer McCurdy



    In life Elmer McCurdy wasn’t anything special. Elmer wasn’t really unique or extraordinary. It was only following his demise that Elmer amounted to much of anything, when his corpse became famous and the stuff of urban legends.

    Elmer was born in Maine in 1880. He moved to the Midwest as a young adult and more or less drifted without a purpose until enlisting in the army in 1910. Even then, Elmer did little of merit other than develop a fondness for nitroglycerin demolitions and earn a reputation for being inept with the substance. Following his military service Elmer attempted to parlay his limited demolitions background into a profitable life of crime as a safe-cracking train robber.

    McCurdy’s first robbery went according to form. While attempting to open the safe of a Pacific Express Company train Elmer used far too much nitro. He managed to not only blow the safe door of its hinges but also punched a hole into the side of the rail car and liquefied over $4000 in silver coins. McCurdy and his partners attempted to chip the silver from the walls and floor with a crowbar but they were forced to flee after scavenging only $450 dollars worth of globular metal.

    Following that spectacular flop, McCurdy was dropped by his partners. Undeterred McCurdy soon found new ones and together, on October 7 of 1911, they held up the M.K.T passenger train number 23 successfully. Unfortunately for McCurdy officers quickly surrounded their hideout and following an hour of gunfire Elmer McCurdy was shot dead.

    When no one claimed the body, the Pawhuska, Oklahoma funeral home owner who ended up with McCurdy opted to create a display piece out of him. The practice was not unheard of and the embalmer so thoroughly embalmed the corpse with arsenic he effectively mummified Elmer McCurdy.

    For the next five years, Elmer McCurdy was displayed in the front window of the funeral home.

    In 1916, McCurdy’s post-mortem years became even more extraordinary as his body was claimed by a representative of the Great Patterson Shows who was unscrupulously posing as a relative interested in giving Elmer a proper burial. Instead, Elmer was put on exhibition as the ‘Oklahoma Outlaw’.

    From that first display Elmer McCurdy began a sixty year odyssey in exhibition, being passed from show to show and carnival to carnival. Once, he was even forfeited as security for a $500 loan and he was even displayed a theatre lobby during showings of the 1933 film Narcotic. For much of the 30’s and 40’s McCurdy was displayed by former police officer Louis Sonney in his ‘Museum of Crime’. Perhaps due to all the shuffling and his wanderings folks forgot that McCurdy was a real mummy and not some macabre prop. By the 60’s, all memory of his true nature was forgotten and McCurdy was sold as a ‘mannequin’ to a wax museum in 1971.

    In December of 1976 the television show The Six Million Dollar Man was shooting an episode entitled “Carnival of Spies” in the ‘Laff in the Dark’ funhouse the Nu-Pike amusement park in Long Beach, California when a crew member damaged what he thought was a neon orange wax mannequin. When the mannequin’s arm broke off, a human bone was visible and authorities were hastily called.

    When medical examiner Thomas Noguchi opened the mummy’s mouth for other clues, he was surprised to find a 1924 penny and a ticket from Sonney Amusement’s Museum of Crime in Los Angeles. That ticket and archived newspaper accounts helped police and researchers identify the body as that of Elmer McCurdy.

    Following a huge amount of press and much fanfare, in April 1977 the well-traveled Elmer McCurdy was finally laid to final rest in Summit View Cemetery in Guthrie, Oklahoma. To ensure that the now famous corpse would not make its way back to the entertainment world, the state medical examiner ordered two cubic yards of cement poured over the coffin before the grave was closed.

    Elmer has been resting happily even since.
    Source

    Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elmer_McCurdy

    His body was subsequently taken to a funeral home in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. When no one claimed the corpse, the undertaker embalmed it with an arsenic-based preservative and allowed people to see "The Bandit Who Wouldn't Give Up" for a nickel. People would place nickels in McCurdy's mouth, which the undertaker would collect later. As increasingly large numbers of people came to view his remains (with each leaving a nickel), McCurdy was said to have made more money in death than in life. Many carnival operators asked to buy the mummified body from the undertaker, but he refused.

    Almost five years after McCurdy died, a man showed up from a nearby traveling carnival known as the Great Patterson Shows claiming to be McCurdy's long-lost brother. He indicated that he wanted to remove the corpse to give it a proper burial. Within two weeks, however, McCurdy was a featured exhibit with the carnival. For the next 60 years, McCurdy's body was sold to successive wax museums, carnivals, and haunted houses. The owner of a haunted house near Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, refused to purchase him because he thought that McCurdy's body was actually a mannequin and was not lifelike enough.

    Eventually, McCurdy's corpse wound up at "The Pike" (1902–1967,NU-PIKE and demolished as Queens Park in 1979) seaside amusement zone in Long Beach, California, inside the dark-ride attraction "Laff in the Dark" where he hung with other props, many of them painted day-glo yellow.

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