Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Things that go 'bump'...

Maybe it's just the high fever with which I've been wrestling for the past several days, but I must admit to being kinda freaked out by this photo/audio/video collection of ghostly goings-on. I'm not, normally. Freaked out, that is. Lord knows I've seen and heard more than enough inexplicable things firsthand in my life (and a remarkable upswing in the past year or two, oddly) to carry me through; you'd think I'd be used to it. But...not necessarily.

I happened across the above-linked site quite by chance, as it was mentioned in a thread on the gossip blog to which I occasionally contribute (OH NO THEY DIDN'T), and being that it's past 3 a.m. and I'm alone, in the dark, I thought it would surely be the best time to prove to myself, once again, that I don't get creeped out by such things.

Hmm. Perhaps not. I've turned my TV back on now...although, as you'll see if you watch the video, that might not be much in the way of salvation.

Hauntings. I'm sure there's a statistic out there that would tell us what percentage of the western population is skeptical versus those who believe in the possibility. What I can say for certain is that I have a lot of friends who have no doubt whatsoever that there are things we can't explain. I can also say that I've spent my life cocking my head to one side, bemused, at some seriously weird stuff. Would I call myself a believer? No. Which is strange, I realize, because the weird occurrences to which I've been witness are things I don't even question. But I'm still reluctant to lump myself in with those whack jobs on the W Network who spend nights in abandoned psych wards, running around like fools and screaming whenever their tacky night vision cameras pick up so much as a shadow.

Still, though...it's ignorant to think we - the living, breathing, current versions of us - are the only way to exist. Isn't it?

Have you ever had an experience you can't wave away via logic?

An awful lot of legitimate research has gone into communication with the afterlife. It's not all just silly shows like "Dead Famous" or "Most Haunted". To be fair, a lot of reputable institutions have poured years and bazillions of dollars into figuring out why certain photos turn out strangely (that's a great site, by the way - quite the collection), or whether there's anything substantive behind the phenomenon known as EVP.

Is it live? Is it Memorex?

Who can say for sure?

All I know, right now, is that even as a grown-up, I'm not immune to the chills inspired by the likes of that video at 3 a.m., and I'm not quite sure why.

Interested in more folks' stories? Check out the Hauntings Community @ LiveJournal. At least that way I'll know I'm not the only one awake in the middle of the night, listening a little too carefully to every creak of every floorboard.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Annual Christmas Phone Meme!

I'm reposting this from my LJ after several successful years of hilarity. The only difference is that, because this is public and searchable, I shan't be posting my number right here for the world to see. Instead, if you'd like it (or want to direct me to yours), leave a comment here with your email address (or email me), and we'll do it that way. Also: For those who are able to see my Facebook contact info, you'll find the proper number there!

Now to the post, then...

Guess what time it is?

It's time for the

Annual Christmas voicemail meme!

Get out your phones!

Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!

Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!

Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!Spread holiday cheer with your PHONE!

I don't remember who started this, but we've had so much fun with it over the past few years, I thought I'd open myself up to it again. So many of us hardly get to talk these days, and what could be more festive than a message from a friend??


  • post your phone number in your blog/on Facebook so your friends can call and leave goofy messages (you can identify yourself, or, as a number of you have done in the past, you can mess with the recipient's head by being anonymous and simply leaving hints about who you are). A lot of you already have your numbers posted in your contact info, so just throw it into a note for friends to see!
  • make sure you don't answer your phone - this is for MESSAGES, not conversations, seeing as everyone's busy at this time of year & probably can't sit still long enough to have long (and expensive!) chats with half of their friends list!
  • if there's a good time at which to call you, specify it in your post (say, 8 p.m.-11 p.m. in your time zone, or all day Christmas Day, etc.), so people know when they'll get your voicemail/when there's no risk of waking anyone up/etc.
  • make sure you check out your friends' blogs/Facebook notes etc. for other willing victims and call them too! Sing carols, tell jokes, ramble incessantly... Whatever you want to say or do, do it!

So there you have it. Ask for my number. Call me. I shan't be around my phone at all on Xmas Eve day or night, nor on Christmas Day, and there's no danger of it disturbing anyone, so you can call any time today, all night tonight (yes, even 4 a.m.), or tomorrow, if you like. It's open 24/7. And no, it's not my cell phone, because we all know that's been ALWAYS buggy.

Now have at it! Most of you already know I have the world's best outgoing message. And I'll check in on my comments and emails later to see who among you have done the same...'cos if you post this, I WILL CALL. [/Field Of Dreams moment]


(If you consider a call from me a "prize". HAH. But I take requests, and I may sing, or recite verses. I'm like a box o' chocolates, folks. And, apparently, so are you - I get the weirdest calls from you guys... They amuse me so. Some of them are still saved from two years ago, even!)

Happy holidays, everyone!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Freaky Friday - Serial killers galore! (NSFW)

In honour of my friend Helena, who I finally got to meet while she was in Toronto (visiting allll the way from Australia, no less!) this week, I thought I'd do a little morbid-yet-entertaining list. Everyone needs something a little bit warped to start the weekend off right, yes? Helena shares my twisted fascination with all things forensic, which turned a lot of heads while we were out for dinner (reading a book about serial killing) and later at her hostel (when we were approached by another traveller who just had to hear our conversation about sociopaths a bit more closely!). For that reason, then, I present to you...

Top 10 Unknown Serial Killers

(courtesy of AskMen.Com; it's a bit disturbing that it's filed under "Entertainment"...)

A word of warning: much of this may be NSFW (Not Safe For Work), so consider yourselves told! It's not full of graphic photos, sure, but it is deranged. Only the strong of stomach and the demented of mind should proceed.

  • 10) Gilles de Rais: The Sadistic Aristocrat - Despite a staggering 80 to 600 body count, the man regarded by many as the prototype of today’s serial killer barely cracks the top 10. This is because historical records are unreliable and Gilles de Rais’ murderous statistics cannot be proven.

    De Rais was a wealthy and powerful 15th century French nobleman who once fought side by side with Joan of Arc. De Rais had a sick obsession with young boys and preferred victims who resembled himself as a child. The Sadistic Aristocrat, as he came to be known, lured blond-haired, blue-eyed peasant boys to his stately home where he and a few assumed accomplices raped, tortured and mutilated them. In 1440, the ecclesiastical court in Nantes hanged the monster before torching his body -- just to be on the safe side

    Seriously psychotic: De Rais would sit on the stomach of his dying victim and pleasure himself.

  • 9) Carl Panzram: Rage Personified - Many serial killers often rely on charm to seduce their victims into their clutches, but very few had Panzram’s qualities: a sense of humor and a sense -- albeit sparse -- of some regret. Panzram’s commitment to mayhem was as disturbing as it was frank and unapologetic. After being sentenced to death for killing a man in prison, he threatened to kill anyone who tried to have his verdict overturned.

    In his autobiography, Panzram: A Journal of Murder, he employed a matter-of-fact tone in confessing to 21 murders and the rape of 1,000 boys, adding: “For all these things I am not the least bit sorry.” However, Panzram did express regret for one thing: being born. Since childhood, he considered himself so incessantly angry that he called himself Rage Personified.

    Seriously psychotic: After raping and killing a boy Panzram claimed: "His brains were coming out of his ears when I left him. I am not sorry. My conscience doesn’t bother me. I sleep sound and have sweet dreams.”

  • 8) Bender Family: The Bloody Benders - Be it ever so humble, the Kansas shack that the Benders called home in 1872 was still a busy, inviting place open to the public as an inn for weary travelers. Wealthy-looking guests were always seated at the head of their modest dinner table, conveniently placed in front of a hanging canvas. John Bender’s beautiful and charming daughter Kate was effective bait and often told the guests their fortunes as her father, sneaking behind the large curtain, prepared to slam a hammer into their heads. Later, The Bloody Benders would strip the body of all valuables and bury the remains in their orchard.

    This family affair functioned with great efficiency for approximately one year before people caught on. However, it is said that the Bender clan got away and never actually faced justice. In fact, the family became almost mythical, and stories of various members popping up all over the U.S. persisted for many years.

    Seriously psychotic: As if a hammer in the skull weren’t enough, John Bender slit his victim’s throats for good measure.

  • 7) Hélène Jegado: The Pious Poisoner - Jegado, a domestic servant in 19th century France, must have been an impatient woman: If someone irked her, she didn’t give them many opportunities to apologize.

    From 1833 to 1841, at least 36 people -- the vast majority of them employers or boarders who had the poor judgment to reprimand her -- wound up dead from arsenic poisoning. Because of her devout and sincere nature, authorities routinely ruled The Pious Poisoner out as a suspect. In 1851, when she hastily declared her innocence without actually being accused, The Pious Poisoner was arrested and convicted of at least three murders. A year later, Jegado’s neck met the guillotine.

    Seriously psychotic: Jegado’s first victims included a priest and her own sister.

  • 6) Andrei Chikatilo: The Rostov Ripper - Poor little Andrei Chikatilo; his mother beat him every time he wet the bed, but it’s hard to blame her when you consider that she had to share the bed with him. The Rostov Ripper’s killing spree began in 1978 with the murder of a 9-year-old girl and continued unabated through 52 more victims across 12 brutal years. The Soviet government did their part by covering up the crimes they considered embarrassing and preventing parents from taking protective measures for their children. When word finally did get out, locals feared a werewolf was on the loose.

    Finally caught in 1990, Chikatilo spent the duration of his trial locked in a cage for his own safety. After receiving 52 death sentences he addressed the court, placing much of the blame for his crimes on the shoulders of the Soviet Regime. On February 15, 1994, The Rostov Ripper’s death penalty was fulfilled with a bullet behind his right ear.

    Seriously psychotic: Chikatilo ejaculated while stabbing his first victim, making him realize just how aroused he was by the prospect of murder -- hence the 12-year killing spree.

    Ehch's note: I actually do know all about Chikatilo; I've seen his Biography courtesy of A&E many, many times. If you ever come across the show, watch it - the guy's eyes will haunt you forever.

  • 5) Gerard John Schaefer: The Florida Sex Beast - By definition, serial killers are loathsome folks, but Gerard John Schaefer was just downright despicable. As a boy, Schaefer’s hobbies included killing animals, wearing panties and peeping through windows. Despite his strange childhood activities, he eventually became a Florida cop. While on patrol, The Florida Sex Beast used his badge to abduct two teenage girls, but they escaped before he could rape and murder them. Claiming he was trying to teach the girls not to hitchhike he called his sergeant to say he’d done “something foolish.” Schaefer was fired and arrested, but while out on bail he raped and killed two other teenage girls. Police put the two incidents together and Schaefer was given two life sentences.

    A search of Schaefer’s home -- which he shared with his mom -- found evidence linking him to the disappearance of at least eight other girls. Ultimately, authorities believed they could tie him to as much as 30 murders, but Schaefer maintained his innocence. In prison, he kept busy filing frivolous lawsuits; he even tried to sue a writer for suggesting he was fat. As a former cop, a sex offender and a jailhouse snitch, it should come as no surprise that The Florida Sex Beast was stabbed to death in prison.

    Seriously psychotic: Committing the “ultimate betrayal” by using the badge is about as low as you can go.

  • 4) Elizabeth Báthory: The Bloody Lady of Cachtice - The Bloody Lady of Cachtice, a sadistic 16th century countess, is still the most infamous serial killer in the history of Hungary and Slovakia. Inside her own Hungarian castle, Elizabeth Báthory functioned with virtual impunity. She lured peasant girls to work as maids and enticed the daughters of lower nobility with lessons on etiquette, snaring her victims under false pretenses.

    With the help of a handful of accomplices, Báthory enjoyed starving, freezing, and torturing her victims. The Bloody Lady racked up a significant body count -- estimated to be from 36 to as many as 200. The majority of her accomplices were put to death, but Báthory’s wealth and influence earned her the 16th century’s version of aristocratic house arrest: imprisonment in her own castle.

    Seriously psychotic: Elizabeth Báthory’s favorite pastime included burning, biting and mutilating the genitalia of her victims.

    Ehch's note: You can't call yourself an "amateur expert" on murder (or vampires!) without knowing the name - and proclivities - of The Countess. This list must be for amateur amateurs only. [/forensic snobbery]

  • 3) Friedrich (Fritz) Haarmann: The Butcher from Hanover - Fritz Haarmann, an unassuming and sympathetic-looking man, used his friendly manner to serve him well as both a police informant and a sexual sadist. Over six years he murdered at least 24 vagrants and male prostitutes -- killings he considered an act of love. Haarman only wanted to bring peace to his victims. It all came to an end when the discarded skulls of his victims began washing up on the shore of the river Leine.

    The Butcher from Hanover had a strict preference for boys he found handsome. In fact, in 1925, while in prison awaiting his execution (by beheading), he was shown a photo of a missing boy whom the police believed Haarmann had killed. After one look at the ugly boy’s picture he scoffed at the idea of killing such an ungainly kid.

    Seriously psychotic: Haarmann insisted he was “driven by beauty and sensuality.” Instead of letting a young boy’s allure bring him to tears, he would bite his victim’s Adam’s apple and chew through their throat.

  • 2) Karl Denke: The Ziębice Cannibal - Everyone knew and seemed to like Karl Denke. He was a good Christian who played the organ at church. Denke supported himself with a small business selling a variety of goods door to door, from leather belts and shoelaces to boneless pork. He was held in such high regard that he was known affectionately as Papa Denke. But this was all before he jumped off the deep end.

    In December of 1924, a man stumbled into police headquarters claiming Denke had attacked him with an axe. Although police initially found this impossible to believe, Denke was arrested and put in jail. As authorities went to search his home, he committed suicide. This should have been their first clue to Ziebice Cannibal’s murderous history.

    The body count, composed mostly of beggars and journeymen extended the courtesy of a place to stay, reached anywhere from 20 to 40.

    Seriously psychotic: Inside Danke’s home authorities found belts and snaps made of human skin, shoelaces made from human hair and jars of pickled human flesh -- his famous “boneless pork.”

  • 1) Javed Iqbal: The Boy Hunter - Hailing from Punjab, Pakistan, Javed Iqbal could well be one of the most detested men in history. Iqbal went to great lengths to surround himself with young boys. He opened video arcades, schools, aquariums, and gyms. He also married the older sister of one boy to keep him close by, and he married off his own sister to another boy to keep him close by. Iqbal was arrested a number of times on charges of sodomy, but his father’s money always got him off.

    In his eventual confession, The Boy Hunter claimed to have killed 100 boys in only five months, preferring to drug, rape, strangle, then chop them into pieces. Iqbal would then either store the bodies in a vat of acid near his house or dump them into the sewer.

    When the judge sentenced Iqbal to death in 2000, it was suggested that he be strangled in front of the victims’ families, his body chopped to bits and finally, stored in a vat of acid just as he’d done to his victims. Officially, he committed suicide while in prison, but an autopsy suggested he may have been murdered. It was irrelevant to his family who refused to collect his remains, claiming that he had died to them the day he confessed.

    Seriously psychotic: The Boy Hunter was said to have declared in his confession: “I am not ashamed of my actions... I have no regrets. I killed 100 children… It cost me 120 rupees ($2 USD) to erase each victim.”

So! There's your cheery Friday morning list! You'll notice, too, that where possible I added a link to each of the killers' names, so you can further pursue their sordid stories on Wikipedia. Because I know there are some of you who are just as revolted and yet hopelessly fascinated by this stuff as I am.

And no, you can't see my Serial Killer Trading Card collection.

(If it makes it easier to think I'm kidding, please do feel free.)

TGIF, eh?