Friday, July 31, 2009

Edward W. Edwards

This just in from FOX News:

Prosecutors have charged a Kentucky man with killing two high school sweethearts who disappeared from a Wisconsin wedding reception nearly 30 years ago.

Edward W. Edwards, 76, of Louisville, Ky. faces two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Tim Hack and Kelly Drew, who were both 19. Wisconsin investigators arrested Edwards Thursday afternoon in Louisville. Jefferson County District Attorney Susan V. Happ filed the charges later that day.

According to the criminal complaint, Hack's father reported Hack and Drew missing on the morning of Aug. 10, 1980. He told deputies the couple had gone to a wedding reception at the Concord House in Sullivan, a town about 40 miles west of Milwaukee.

The two were last seen leaving the reception around 11 p.m. Hack's father found Hack's car in the Concord House parking lot the next morning, still locked with Hack's wallet inside.

Searchers combed the countryside for two months. A week after the couple disappeared, they found Drew's pants, bra and underwear in the road about within 5 miles of the Concord House. The garments had been cut apart.

In October 1980 hunters found Drew's body in the woods about 8 miles from the Concord House. The next day searchers found Hack's body in the same area.

A medical examiner found ligature marks on Drew's ankles and wrists, the complaint said, suggesting she had been tied up. She apparently had been strangled. Hack, meanwhile, had been stabbed in the back and the chest.

Edward W. Edwards worked as a handyman at the Concord House and campgrounds next to the hall where Hack and Drew's wedding reception had been. When investigators talked to witnesses, they all remembered that Edwards had a bloody nose during that weekend. He told them he had hurt it while deer hunting. Edwards himself was talked to by police about the case in 1980.

When detectives paid Edwards a visit last month, he told them he had never heard of the case at all. When reminded that he had, in fact, been questioned in 1980 about the case, he suddenly remembered, ohhhh yeah, you mean that couple of missing newlyweds from next door who I was interrogated about... right. (Reminds me of David Ferrie being grilled by Jim Garrison in the film JFK.)

But when Edwards stated that he had never been deer hunting, the investigators knew something wasn't right.

And on July 8, Edwards' DNA was found in tests to be a perfect match with DNA taken from semen found on Drew's pants.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

1904 "Wizard of Oz" in Kentucky

Those of you who thought L. Frank Baum simply wrote The Wizard of Oz and then they made the 1939 movie out of it and that was that, don't know the half of it.

There are actually 40 "in-canon" Oz books, 14 of which were authored by Baum himself. There were five previous Wizard of Oz films (one of which was never released) prior to the 1939 version we all know and love. These present a bewilderingly fractal view of what we think of as the classic story of a girl, a dog, a scarecrow, a lion, and a tin man who seek an eccentric Wizard at the end of a yellow brick road. Most alien of all to modern-day fans would be the 1902 Broadway Musical that continued to tour the nation for many years after its NYC run.

According to the book Oz Before the Rainbow by Mark Evan Swartz, the touring version of the Hamlin-Baum-Tietjens production came to Louisville, Kentucky for a short engagement of just three days: February 15, 16, and 17, 1904. Because of the immense popularity of the Oz books and the musical, these shows were surely packed in attendance to the rafters.

What Kentuckians saw that night would be almost unrecognizable to anyone from our generation, or our parents' generation:

  • Instead of Toto the dog, Dorothy is accompanied by a giant talking cow named Imogene.

  • The Cowardly Lion is in a much more realistic lion-like costume, doesn't speak, and is only a very minor character.

  • Much of the story is taken up not by Dorothy's quest to get home, but by the misadventures of a waitress named Trixie Tryfle and her lover, King Pastoria II. (Pastoria rules Oz but also secretly works in an auto repair shop in Kansas.)

  • The Tin Man has a girlfriend named Cynthia Cynch, also known as The Lady Lunatic.

  • Dorothy is given three wishes, but strangely doesn't use any of them to wish herself back home. Instead, one is wasted accidentally, one is used to bring the dead Scarecrow back to life, and the other is used, inexplicably, to be able to learn the lyrics to a song that another unfamiliar character, Sir Dashemoff Daily, has written for his girlfriend, Carrie Barry.

  • Instead of being assisted by the Wizard and Glinda, Dorothy is sent to prison and about to be executed by beheading. A tornado arrives just in time to blow her back to Kansas.

    Most of the songs - such as "Gooda-bye Fedora", "Johnnie I'll Take You", "Sammy", "The Lobster Song", "Must You?", "Pimlico Malinda", "Football", "Marching Through Georgia", "Nautical Nonsense (Hurrah for Baffin's Bay!)", and "The Tale of the Monkey" - had little or nothing to do with the storyline, and only served to stretch the proceedings out to sprawling lengths of sometimes over four hours.

    In short, it's all nuts, completely freakin' nuts; so much so that it makes the Judy Garland movie seem positively drab and linear. Oh, to have been in the audience in Macauley's Theatre during those three nights!
  • Wednesday, July 29, 2009

    Bill Fischer

    If you don't know who Bill Fischer is, it's time you knew. Run, don't walk, to his historic home/studio at 1652 Story Avenue. Fischer is without a doubt the most accomplished of Butchertown's artists, with a body of work and achievement that spans decades. His works are all over the map, stylistically, and yet it is instantly recognizable. He has done many amazing murals for churches and synagogues, and to this day is kept busy with more offers than he has time for. His home is open for visitors by appointment: (502) 584-7947.

    Some of Fischer's 1950s and 1960s works have the interesting distinction of having been painted with Jackson Pollock's paint. Pollock, avoiding the high costs of New York paint factories, ordered his paint in bulk from a Louisville manufacturer, carefully mixed to his exact peculiar specifications. When Pollock died unexpectedly in 1956, the manufacturer was stuck with a huge order of Pollock's paint that had been just about to ship. Fischer was called and offered to take the otherwise-unusable paint off their hands, to which he enthusiastically said yes.

    Mystery Airplane Behind Distillery

    A few years back I took this photograph of a nosedived airplane - not an actual one, but a very realistic facsimile of one that looks like it may have come from some sort of carnival ride - in the bushes behind Louisville's Distillery Commons. I haven't driven by there in awhile, nor paid attention, and am not sure if it's still there. Remind me to check.

    Tuesday, July 28, 2009

    Kentucky's Largest Cruvinet

    You probably already knew the largest Cruvinet in the state can be found in Louisville's L&N Wine Bar & Bistro, at the corner of Mellwood and Story, right?

    Whaddaya mean, "what's a Cruvinet?"

    It's one of these things, in the picture, see. It's a giant thingamabob that has oodles of wine bottles attached to it, see. The Cruvinet Systems website says: "A Cruvinet temperature controlled system keeps wines as fresh as the momentthey are uncorked for up to six weeks, eliminating spoilage and waste. This system has revolutionized wine-by-the-glass sales and made wine bars possible. Cruvinet is the original wine preserving and dispensing system, used widely by international wine experts for effectively preserving, dispensing and merchandising fine varietal wines by the glass."

    There seems to be something about Cruvinets that defy statistics. One website says L&N Wine Bar's holds 50 bottles, but another says 54, and yet another says it's "60+". I tried to research even bigger Cruvinets online and found a site that says Ristorante Panorama in PA has "the largest Cruvinet in the country". Then I found one that upped the ante even more and claims Ristorante Panorama's is the largest in the world.

    Finally, I found a site that said that actually, Louisville's L&N Wine Bar has, in fact, the largest Cruvinet in the country!

    Just goes to show you can't believe everything you read on the net. (Except my blogs, of course!) I chose to split the difference and accept that their Cruvinet is largest in the state, but need more convincing that it's biggest in the entire nation.

    Exploding house in Florence

    A house in Florence went kaboom on Sunday, at the corner of Dixie Highway and Main. From WHAS-TV:

    (WHAS11) - Police in northern Kentucky are reviewing video that shows a vacant two-story house exploding and collapsing into a pile of debris.

    A surveillance camera at a nearby business captured the explosion in Florence Sunday afternoon.

    No one was hurt but the blast sent debris and glass flying in all directions and blew out windows at a nearby office.

    "All of sudden out of nowhere, we just had this big boom and explosion and I saw it across the street the house and it looked like just like an explosion right in the middle of the bottom of the house and it just blew out the whole entire bottom half of the house,” said Michael Toner.

    It's suspected to be due to a natural gas leak, but no one's certain just yet. From WLWT-TV:

    The wreckage of the home came to rest several feet away from its foundation, and firefighters said the home was blown about 20 feet into the air.

    Two boys who were in a nearby skate park said they were nearly struck by the wreckage.

    "We were right in front of that house and it blew up. The house lifted up, flames went up, debris flying everywhere, glass and wood hitting my car. It was basically like a tornado," said John Bailey.

    People as far as two miles away reported hearing and feeling the explosion.

    "It kind of looked fake. It was better than a movie -- our car went off the ground and it was pretty sweet, but crazy at the same time," said witness Gage Schultz.

    The Wheel of Dharma

    Here's another lovely Cave Hill grave. It's a gorgeous monument featuring Buddhist symbols including the Buddha, the Lotus, and the Dharmacakra - an eight-pointed wheel whose hubs represent the Noble Eightfold Path. The Lotus and the Dharmacakra are themselves two of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism and other Dharmic traditions. Wikipedia says:

    For practicing Buddhists, references to "Dharma" or Dhamma in Pali, particularly as "the" Dharma, generally means the teachings of the Buddha, commonly known throughout the East as Buddha-Dharma.

    The status of Dharma is regarded variably by different Buddhist traditions. Some regard it as an ultimate truth, or as the font of all things which lies beyond the 'three realms' (Sanskrit: tridhatu) and the 'wheel of becoming' (Sanskrit: bhavacakra), somewhat like the Christian logos: this is known as Dharmakaya (Sanskrit). Others, who regard the Buddha as simply an enlightened human being, see the Dharma as the essence of the '84,000 different aspects of the teaching' (Tibetan: chos-sgo brgyad-khri bzhi strong) that the Buddha gave to various types of people, based upon their individual propensities and capabilities.

    "Dharma" usually refers not only to the sayings of the Buddha, but also to the later traditions of interpretation and addition that the various schools of Buddhism have developed to help explain and to expand upon the Buddha's teachings. For others still, they see the Dharma as referring to the "truth", or the ultimate reality of "the way that things really are".

    Monday, July 27, 2009

    Hate Group Adopts Florence Highway

    From the New York Times:

    Kentucky officials were surprised to learn from reporters this year that the National Alliance, a white separatist group, had adopted a highway. The group’s sign honored its late founder, William Pierce, whose novel The Turner Diaries inspired Timothy J. McVeigh to bomb the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995.

    Chuck Wolfe, a spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said officials initially hoped they could terminate the contract, but determined that doing so would open them to costly litigation that might fail.

    And from WCPO-TV:

    "Diversity and multiculturalism is simply not in any way good for our people, not good for our nation," said Robert Ransdell, Cincinnati coordinator of the National Alliance. "We do believe that essentially the best way is separation, we believe that multiculturalism is essentially death for our people."

    The head of Kentucky's Adopt-A-Highway program, Nancy Wood, said she didn't know what the group stood for until 9News brought it to her attention Monday.

    "We did not know what this group was about," said Wood. "The KY Transportation Cabinet and the Adopt-A-Highway group doesn't condone racist ideology, so we will take the matter up with our attorney on how to best address the issue."

    The KKK pulled a similar PR stunt a few years back in Missouri, and actually fought it all the way to the Supreme Court, which determined that even psychotic organizations have the right to take part in Adopt-a-Highway programs. And if you think that's an unfair characterization, or that such hate-groups are totally marginalized and obsolete nowadays, think again: the Anti-Defamation League warns that the National Alliance is growing in strength. Read this:

    A new ADL investigation reveals that the neo-Nazi National Alliance (NA) is the single most dangerous organized hate group in the United States today. In the past several years, dozens of violent crimes, including murders, bombings and robberies have been traced to NA members or appear to have been inspired by the group's propaganda...

    The National Alliance is the largest and most active neo-Nazi organization in the nation, with 16 active cells from coast to coast, and a reported membership of 1,000. In the last three years, there has been evidence of NA activity in no fewer than 26 states nationwide.

    The NA is led by former Oregon State University physics professor and veteran anti-Semite William L. Pierce, 66. Using the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald, Pierce wrote the novel The Turner Diaries, which details a successful world revolution by an all-white army, and the systematic extermination of Blacks, Jews, and other minorities. Many extremists regard The Turner Diaries as an explicit terrorism manual...

    The ADL has even more detailed and disturbing data about the National Alliance here.

    Saturday, July 25, 2009

    Fake Kentuckians of 1919

    One from our Creeps Records mp3 blog:

    Johnny Hamp's Kentucky Serenaders cut a lot of great early Jazz records in the 1920s, and constantly toured the USA and England with their Kentucky-themed band. A jazzed-up cover of Stephen Foster's "My Old Kentucky Home" was their signature tune.

    Thing is, though, the band weren't Kentuckians, as least as far as we know. There's no evidence that they even played here. Hamp himself was from Lancaster, PA.

    The band predated Hamp as The Serenaders, but at some point in the late 1910s he filled in for the band's regular leader (was he from Kentucky, mayhaps?) and ended up staying on permanently. By 1919 they were touring regularly and had renamed themselves Johnny Hamp's Kentucky Serenaders, for reasons that still defy logical explanation - not that any is really needed for the nomenclature of fly-by-night dixieland orchestras.

    Their biggest hit was 1926's Black Bottom" (Victor 20101-B) which started a nationwide dance craze that become associated with Kentucky to some extent, despite the apparent lack of actual connection.

    From 1931 on they dropped the Kentucky Serenaders name and simply became The Johnny Hamp Orchestra, lasting a few more years before hanging it up for good as World War II loomed on the horizon.

    Johnny Hamp's Kentucky Serenaders - Black Bottom

    Friday, July 24, 2009

    The Green Man

    "The Green Man" is a curious architectural motif that goes back to antiquity, and we have fine examples on this downtown Louisville building.

    Green Men need not actually be green, as Wikipedia describes:

    A Green Man is a sculpture, drawing, or other representation of a face surrounded by or made from leaves. Branches or vines may sprout from the nose, mouth, nostrils or other parts of the face and these shoots may bear flowers or fruit. Commonly used as a decorative architectural ornament, Green Men are frequently found on carvings in churches and other buildings (both secular and ecclesiastical). "The Green Man" is also a popular name for English public houses and various interpretations of the name appear on inn signs, which sometimes show a full figure rather than just the head.

    The Green Man motif has many variations. Found in many cultures around the world, the Green Man is often related to natural vegetative deities springing up in different cultures throughout the ages. Primarily it is interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, or "renaissance," representing the cycle of growth each spring. Some speculate that the mythology of the Green Man developed independently in the traditions of separate ancient cultures and evolved into the wide variety of examples found throughout history.

    Two different Green Man faces are depicted on this building, one of which wears a beard and a crown, possibly representing Triton or Neptune. It's hard to tell in the image - I need to go back and try to zoom in sharper and closer - but it looks like there's grapes amongst his panoply. If they are indeed grapes, that pretty much fingers him as being my good friend Bacchus/Dionysus, the God of wine, intoxication, and unrestrained revelry.

    One could go quite mad tracing all the possible branches of all the Green Man's known and theorized lineage. Some have said he's connected to The Green Knight, while others point to Freyr or the cereal-spirit John Barleycorn, or Jack-in-the-Green, or the mysterious Woodwose. Not to mention Lob, Hobs, and Hobgoblins. Even Robin Hood and Peter Pan have been suggested by some scholars as being part of the Green Man's family tree.

    But for myself, I'm with the school of thought that says the Green Man goes all the way back to ancient Egypt. Osiris was, among other things, a corn deity, often depicted with a green face and sprouting vegetation that represented resurrection and rebirth.

    Thursday, July 23, 2009

    Cave Popcorn

    Found this in a Google search for Kentucky + alien.

    Though it does indeed look like some sort of alien brain, it's actually a coralloid formation known amongst spelunkers as Cave Popcorn. Cave Popcorn can range from small, delicate and fluffy-looking in appearance, to thick and bulbous calcite deposits such as these.

    New Rule!

    This is an old sign affixed beside the employees-only rear entrance to a long-defunct factory in Jeffersontown's Bluegrass Industrial Park. I'd love to know the backstory that caused some manager to have this sign made proclaiming this highly specific ban.

    No "distribution of any written or printed material"? Were they serious?

    Technically, this would mean sharing a newspaper on your lunch break, passing a note, or even lending a dollar bill to a buddy at the vending machines (Assuming snacks weren't also verboten at this happy workplace). My guess is that this sign, which sounds like it came straight outta the office of Dilbert's boss, had something to do with some sort of disgruntled-worker hand-typed newsletter, or labor-union materials.

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    Shocking New BGAD Revelations

    Shocking to some, that is. Nothing shocks me anymore about the Pentagon's toxic dumpsite in Madison County.

    Turns out that the Blue Grass Army Depot went for two years without any means to detect nerve gas leaks in their rapidly decomposing nerve gas igloos, then fired a whistleblower who dared to say "hey, Chief, maybe we oughta fix 'em."

    From Environment News Service:

    WASHINGTON, DC, July 20, 2009 (ENS) - The U.S. Army has acknowleged that the nerve gas leak monitors at a Kentucky chemical weapons storage depot were not working for nearly two years, 2003-2005. The admission is contained in a U.S. Army Inspector General report dated February 2006 but released today.

    Managers of chemical weapons storage at the Blue Grass Army Depot, located outside of Richmond, 30 miles south of Lexington, had rendered the detectors inoperative and the problem was remedied only after a whistleblower was forced to file a complaint, according to the Inspector General investigation posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, PEER...

    PEER points out that the Army Inspector General's report confirms the chief concerns raised by whistleblower Donald Van Winkle, a chemical weapons monitoring operator at Blue Grass.

    Van Winkle expressed his concern that leak detectors were improperly removed from inside the igloos holding highly lethal VX nerve gas.

    As a result, from September 2003 to August 2005, after Van Winkle came forward, Blue Grass had no means, other than visual observation, to determine whether the odorless, colorless nerve gas was seeping from the rockets in which the agent is stored.

    These changes were contrary to Army protocols and safety standards but only minor disciplinary action was taken against the responsible managers, Van Winkle said.

    The Army Inspector General concluded that despite the lack of working leak detectors there was no evidence of worker or public exposure to escaped chemicals, citing the "historically low rate of leakers" in VX nerve gas rockets and warheads.

    The Inspector General withheld the report from PEER Freedom of Information Act requests for more than three years due to "an ongoing U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command investigation." PEER has requested information on the status of that criminal investigation...

    At the time this report was being finalized, whistleblower Van Winkle was removed from Blue Grass after being stripped of his certification to work with chemical weapons because, according to the base command, he showed "signs of behavior of a disgruntled employee and … lack of a positive attitude."

    "In the Army, senior officials who screw up get slapped on the wrist but whistleblowers get banished," said Dinerstein, who is leading Van Winkle's legal effort to restore his chemical weapons program certification.

    She notes that the Inspector General's report contains information at variance with sworn testimony from Blue Grass officials in the Van Winkle legal action. "Given how this case was handled, no wonder major problems go unreported," she said.

    And that's not all. Apparently things still aren't been so peachy out there. The article goes on to note:

    While the Army Inspector General did not substantiate related operational troubles at Blue Grass, in late 2007, the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection confirmed some of Van Winkle's other disclosures...

    Violations verified by Kentucky DEP in 2007 include failure to test spills from rockets containing agent that are stored inside the igloos; improper storage practices which crush the shells of rockets and cause leaks; and failure to ensure employees are properly trained to prevent release of chemical warfare agents.

    The state agency also warned that Blue Grass staff may have been exposed to nerve agent but never notified or monitored; managers "scrub" or falsify monitoring reports, and in some instances turn off monitoring equipment to mask problems; and the base routinely transfers or blackballs whistleblowers.

    Club Premier

    One from our Whitewashed Buildings and Vacant Stores blog:

    I never went there, but I always loved the eye-poppingly orange diamond-patterned facade of Club Premier on Story Avenue in beautiful Butchertown. Prior to this, it had a good run as a lesbian bar called The Alternative. Originally, this was the historic Do Drop Inn way back in the day.

    What will go here next, amid the grimy industrial edifices and the rotten odor of burning snouts and hooves wafting from the friendly neighborhood Swift plant? We shall see. Maybe I'll finally open my long-projected Voraxium house of sequined subversion here and put on our own hillbilly-flavored Grand Guignol shows.

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    Dog Kidnaps Infant

    Not all our dog stories are happy like the tale of the one who survived a barbecue fork in the skull or the one who tracked down its owner in KY a decade after being lost in FL, or the ones who get to be Mayor of Rabbit Hash.

    According to the Associated Press:

    A father was frantically calling 911 to report his missing newborn when he spotted the baby, bleeding from the mouth and clutched in the jaws of a family dog who had carried him from his crib to the heavily wooded backyard.

    Four-day-old Alexander James Smith was rushed to the emergency room at University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington, where he was listed in critical condition Tuesday with two collapsed lungs, a skull fracture, broken ribs and various cuts and bruises.

    Smith said he and his wife, Chrissie, had just put Alexander James (or A.J.) in his crib Monday afternoon in their Nicholasville, Ky., home. Smith said he was preparing to leave for the store to buy various baby items, including a video monitor that he now believes could have prevented the entire ordeal...

    Smith, who is the owner of a corporate security business where his wife also works, said the dog was treating the baby as a puppy and wasn't being vicious. Still, he doesn't want her back in the family home.

    Dakota was taken into custody by animal control, and although Smith remains hopeful a good home can be found for her, he acknowledges the animal may have to be destroyed.

    Monday, July 20, 2009

    Patricia Neal

    An entry from our Voraxica blog:

    Film star Patricia Neal was born in a little spot in the road in Kentucky called Packard, in Whitley County.

    She went on to study drama at Northwestern University in Illinois, then found fame virtually right out of the gate. Her first film, 1949's John Loves Mary, she had a small part playing opposite Ronald Reagan, and by only her second film, 1949's The Fountainhead, she was already headlining as a star with Gary Cooper. The Fountainhead was based on the novel by the always controversial Ayn Rand, who also wrote the screenplay for this adaptation herself.

    During the shooting of The Fountainhead, Neal began having an affair with the then-married Cooper. She was 23, he was 48. Neal became pregnant by Cooper and had an abortion. Their secret relationship went on until 1950, when Cooper's family got wind of it somehow. His wife sent Neal a threatening telegram, and his daughter berated and spat on Neal in a public event.

    In 1951, playwright Lillian Hellman introduced Neal to Roald Dahl, the British author who would go on to write Man from the South in 1959, James and the Giant Peach in 1961 and Charlie & the Chocolate Factory in 1964.

    Neal and Dahl married in 1953, and their marriage produces five children. Unfortunately, their household was an ill-fated one. In 1961 their infant son Theo was badly injured when a taxicab slammed into his carriage Neal was pushing. They lost a daughter to measles in 1962. In 1965 Neal herself suffered a series of brain aneurysms and was in a coma for weeks. It took her three years to recover, with Dahl patiently helping her rebuild herself.

    In 1983 Neal divorced Dahl when she discovered he had been having an affair with Felicity Crosland, a mutual friend. Whether or not Dahl reminded her that she herself had been on the rebound from a very ugly extramarital affair with Gary Cooper when she met him, we can only wonder.

    After that, Neal became extremely religious. She converted to Catholicism shortly after her split from Dahl, and later become a "born again" Christian. Today she is still very active in showbiz, at the age of 83.

    Though she's best known for her appearances in the films Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Hud, for my money, her crowning glory is A Face in the Crowd. Here, she found herself at the center of one of the most important pieces of 20th century film history, in the Elia Kazan story of an evil and manipulative drifter (Andy Griffith) who - shock, shock, duh - becomes even more evil and manipulative after they mold him into a successful radio/television star with a cornpone Tennessee Ernie Ford-type program called "Cracker Barrel". Throw Walter Matthau, Tony Franciosa, Lee Remick, and Grand Ole Opry ventriloquist Rod Brasfield (pictured below) into the mix, and what a pip it was.

    The film Psyche 59 is another especially noteworthy notch in the Neal oeuvre. It's a peculiar noir-ish psychological drama that was way ahead of its time, way too dark and way too weird for audiences of that era. Neal's character suffers psychosomatic blindness due to emotional/sexual trauma (I betcha Pete Townshend saw this movie before he wrote Tommy), and makes a nearly-naked appearance in a scene that somehow amazingly got past the censors of the day.

    It also starred Samantha Eggar (The Collector, Walk Don't Run, Doctor Dolittle) and Nazi concentration camp survivor Curd J├╝rgens (The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, The Spy Who Loved Me, and the Wernher Von Braun bio-pic I Aim At The Stars).

    In one eerily prophetic scene in Psyche 59, Neal's character is asked what's wrong with her vision. She replies, "There's nothing wrong with my eyes. It's in my head. Pressure on the brain center from a brain hemorrhage."

    Sunday, July 19, 2009

    The Pikeville Cut-Thru

    Regardless of what one may think about such massively intrusive mountain-moving alterations of the environment by mankind, the Pikeville Cut-Thru is certainly a fascinating mess. It's the second largest land-removal engineering project in the entire Western Hemisphere of the planet, ever, second only to the Panama Canal. Think on that.

    The project was completed in 1987 and took over 14 years to do, at a total cost of 77.6 million dollars. It moved 18,000,000 cubic yards of rock and dirt. (I wonder where they moved it to??)

    Supposedly, the project helped a lot of people avoid traffic congestion and flooding of the Big Sandy River. I don't live there so I don't know. But it sure is ugly. And I can't believe they planted rows of trees along those narrow stone shelf-cuts - once they grow to a certain height, they're going to start tipping over and tumbling down into the road, mark my words.

    Kentucky Earthquakes

    You may have heard about the New Madrid Fault Line, which runs underneath this very region we occupy, my fellow Kentuckians.

    Although not much of major seismic importance has occurred in our lifetime, we still must take note that in 1812, the New Madrid quake was an estimated 8.0 or greater. Described as "the most intense intraplate earthquake series to have occurred in the contiguous United States", it was powerful enough to make church bells ring in Boston.

    A University of Kentucky website calls the Western Kentucky area "the most seismically active region in the United States east of the Rockies". And if that wasn't bad enough, to the East, we're bounded by the Southern Appalachian Seismic Zone, which is also extremely active and produces tremors that affects Kentucky greatly. We're surrounded.

  • July 27, 1980: Sharpsburg, in Bath County, was struck by an earthquake that measured 5.1 on the Richter scale. This quake put a huge deep crack across the back concrete patio of the my parents' home in Richmond.

  • June 6, 2003: an earthquake struck Bardwell, measuring 4.5 on the Richter Scale. Considerable damage was caused.

  • June 19, 2005: Blandville was hit by an earthquake of 2.7 magnitude. Blandville had also already been affected by the Bardwell quake two years prior.

  • September 2005: Sharpsburg was hit again with a 2.5 quake, 25 years after the 1980 incident.

  • January 02, 2006: an earthquake measuring 3.6 was recorded in Equality, Illinois (very close to the Kentucky-Illinois border). Shaking was felt in many neighboring Kentucky counties.

  • April 2008: The Kentucky-Indiana border at Evansville was hit by a 5.4 earthquake. The quake was powerful enough to shake skyscrapers in Chicago, 240 miles north of the epicenter, and in Indianapolis, about 160 miles northeast of the epicenter.

  • May 8, 2009: an earthquake measuring 2.3 was felt in Kentucky, at 36.92N 83.67W, approximately 20 miles North of Middlesboro and 35 miles Southwest of Hazard.

  • May 10, 2009: a 1.1 earthquake hit near Jellico, TN along the Kentucky border.

    Despite its strongest shocks having taken place a century ago, some say the New Madrid Fault is just getting warmed up because it's such a very young geological feature. Wikipedia says:

    Because uplift rates associated with large New Madrid earthquakes could not have occurred continuously over geological timescales without dramatically altering the local topography, studies have concluded that the seismic activity there cannot have gone on for longer than 64,000 years...
  • Saturday, July 18, 2009

    Kentucky DuPont Found Negligent

    The DuPont controversies never end. From Business First:

    A jury in Ashland, Ky., has found E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. grossly negligent for a toxic chemical accident at its Wurtland, KY plant in 2004.

    It awarded six plaintiffs a total of about $1.3 million in damages for injuries they suffered as a result of the release and as punishment for DuPont. The punitive damages were calculated at a rate of 10 times the compensatory damages awarded by the jury.

    The verdict sets the stage for additional phases of the multiple-stage trial that will consider claims by 173 additional alleged victims. The determination of gross negligence by DuPont and the same punitive damage multiplier will automatically apply to all of the other plaintiffs, so the only issue yet to be decided is the whether and by how much the remaining plaintiffs are to be compensated for injuries.

    According to court testimony, a cloud of toxic sulfuric acid was created over a large area of Kentucky as a result of a cracked pipe at the plant. DuPont was sued in 1997 for a similar 1995 accident at the same plant.

    According to a report by the Daily Independent newspaper in Ashland, a DuPont spokeswoman said the company would appeal the decision and that its position is that the chemical release was not the cause of the problems alleged by the plaintiffs.

    A number of those suing DuPont are police officers, firefighters and other emergency personnel who responded to the scene when the leak occurred.

    DuPont has already been in repeated trouble - a long, long list of malfeasance - over poisoning the environment and the population with Chlorofluorocarbons and PFOA. And of course, they're also manufacturers of one of my least favorite substances in the world: plastics.

    Friday, July 17, 2009

    Dog Survives Fork in Brain

    Many news outlets worldwide are picking up on this story from Manchester, KY, including CNN:

    A Kentucky Chihuahua is expected to make a full recovery after a freak accident that left a large barbecue fork lodged in his head for days, according to the animal hospital where he was treated.

    During a family gathering two weeks ago, 12-week-old Smokey was waiting to be fed as his owner used the fork to shoo another dog away from Smokey's food, Su Smith, vice president of Cumberland Valley Animal Hospital in London, Kentucky, wrote in an article on the hospital's Web site.

    As owner Vickie Brumley of Manchester, Kentucky, waved the fork, the handle broke off and the fork end was flung through the air, embedding itself several inches into Smokey's head.

    Smokey immediately ran into the woods, Smith wrote. For two days, his owner's family searched for him despite bad weather and finally came to the conclusion that he had either died of his injury or been killed by wildlife.

    Brumley's brother, Hughie Wagers, was visiting his sister and sitting on the porch when Smokey came up the driveway with the fork still sticking out of his head, Smith wrote. He rushed him to the animal hospital.

    Amazingly, Smokey is doing just fine and is expected to fully recover.

    Thursday, July 16, 2009

    Under the Double Eagle

    Like the Winged Disc of Horus, another ancient occult symbol often found on Kentucky's graves is the Double-headed Eagle. These two examples are in Louisville's Cave Hill.

    The Double-headed Eagle is most commonly associated with the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, which is why you find it so often on gravestones. Manly P. Hall says it's an alchemical symbol of the union between the masculine and feminine principles in the individual, but as with most of his explanations to the public, there's probably much more than meets the eye.

    The symbol itself predates the Scotch-Rite Masons, the earliest written reference to which is 1733. The Hittites held the symbol in great esteem, and were carving representations of it as early as two thousand years before the birth of Christ (see photo below). (Also note the resemblance to the Winged Disc symbol, with the downward pointing tail, the shield replacing the sun-disk, and the twin heads replacing the twin antennae or serpents.)

    After that, the mysterious symbol turns up in all kinds of places throughout history, from the Byzantine Empire to the Holy Roman Empire to the German Confederation of 1815.

    Today one can also find vestiges of this tradition in the flag of Albania, the flag of Serbia, the insignia of the Turkish Police, and in the symbology of the Greek Orthodox Church.

    The tune "Under the Double Eagle" is a very popular instrumental in the Kentucky-based Bluegrass music genre, but most are unaware of its source. Bluegrass pickers learned it from old recordings of John Philip Sousa's version, but Sousa himself picked it up from German military bands, who in turn derived it from Josef Wagner's 1902 Unter dem Doppeladler. Wagner's tune's title referred to the Coat of Arms of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867), which in turn derives from the House of Habsburg (circa 1100).

    Clostridium difficile

    As the Courier-Journal reports, there's yet another scary new bug on the loose, and Kentucky is sixth in the nation for outbreaks of it:

    Cheryl Keplinger nearly lost her life to a germ some doctors are calling the next big bacterial threat — Clostridium difficile. The 54-year-old Simpsonville, Ky. nurse suffered diarrhea for 19 days before being told she might need to have her appendix, gall bladder and part of her colon removed after she contracted the dangerous infection caused by bacteria known as C. diff...

    Typically tied to hospitalization or antibiotic use, the infection is rising dramatically. As many as 3 million Americans a year suffer diarrhea, inflammation of the colon and other problems because of C. diff, which some doctors say is beginning to rival the staph infection MRSA as a deadly superbug...

    A study in the May issue of the American Journal of Infection Control showed the state had the sixth-highest rate in the nation among hospitalized patients, with 21.8 per 1,000, compared with 10.7 per 1,000 in Indiana and 13 per 1,000 nationwide.

    The Kentucky Monolith

    The indefatigable anomaly-watcher William R. Corliss, in the Jan-Feb 1997 edition of his newsletter Science Frontiers, tells of a fascinating instance of life imitating art, Kubrick-style:

    T.M. Olsen has investigated a bizarre observation from Kentucky. The date was September 28, 1996.

    "Vance C. Johns, a secondary-school horticulturist, lives a rural area east of Louisville. Sometime between midnight and 1:30 AM, he got up to use the bathroom and saw a strange object outside his bedroom window. His wife, Florence, keeps the drapes open on the center of three picture windows, and he immediately opened the other drapes for a better look. The open view through the windows, which face south, is of a grass lawn sloping to a curved driveway. This 0.8-hectare cleared area is devoid of trees and other objects. Two large, automatic floodlights illuminate the ground around the entire house, and under a full moon, it was bright enough to read a book. The night was clear and about 10°C with no noticeable wind. No aircraft were in the area.

    "At a distance of 14 m (measured after the incident) from his vantage at the bedroom window, there appeared on the lawn an object resembling a common railroad cross tie but oriented in a vertical position, with one end on the ground. It was matte black, 2 1/2 - 2 3/4 m high and 30- 35 cm wide. The sides were smooth with a well-defined corner joining the west and north sides. The view of the top showed the west and north top edges were also welldefined. The object appeared solid but did not cast a shadow.

    "As Johns watched in astonishment, the object began moving toward the front porch. He could clearly see two sides of it as it approached. As the top passed under the eaves, the bottom bent backwards over the bushes which border the 71-cm high porch, in the manner of a man's leg bending at the knee, forming an obtuse angle. At this point, he lost sight of it, grabbed his .38 handgun, and quickly went to the windows
    on the other three sides of the house, hoping to again see the object in the ample illumination, but without success. Although the object had moved very slowly from its original position, total viewing time was less than ten seconds. There was no sound at any time during the sighting."

    When Johns reported the above incident, he was advised to see the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which an eerie monolith is a key player. Johns did so and commented that said monolith "blew his mind." It was just what he had seen, except that it was wider and shorter.

    (Olsen, Thomas M.; "Sighting Alert," report, 1996)

    Comment. We can understand why the monolith of 2001 appeared: (1) to protohumans; (2) to lunar explorers; and (3) in orbit around Jupiter; but WHY in Kentucky in 1996?

    After I happened upon this story last night, my first thought was to track down Mr. Johns and press him for further information past the sketchy details provided in this account. Unfortunately, it turns out Mr. Johns passed away in September 2003, and with that the door has seemingly closed on this mysterious incident.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009

    Things with Wings

    You've seen them. We've all seen them, or variations on the theme. Those very-official-looking, yet also very occult-looking, round-ish things with shieldlike wings. You know, this thing:

    There are a surprisingly high number of them on graves in Kentucky cemeteries, including Louisville's Cave Hill:

    There are many interpretations and uses of this symbol, and its many variants, by several different groups. The symbol, very loosely and generally called The Winged Dragon, The Winged Sun, The Winged Disc, etc. The book The Rosicruicians and their Teachings by Swinburne Clymer says:

    The Winged Globe is pre-eminently a Rosicrucian symbol, although the Illuminati may lay claim to it, and it may be admitted that it is of Egyptian origin. The Winged Globe is the symbol of the perfected soul making its flight back to the source of its creation in the Elysian fields beyond.

    This interpretation of the symbol is most likely why it turns up on tombstones as often as it does. But the ancient Egyptians traditionally depicted two serpents on the wings, representing the goddesses protecting Upper and Lower Egypt - it's a bit odd to maintain this practice in modern-day Kentucky. Unless there's more going on, symbolically speaking, than meets the eye.

    Meanwhile, Albert Churchwald's 1913 book The Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man, describes it this way:

    The Winged-Disk, with the Uraei of Egypt, the original of which we find in the text summarized by Naville in the "Myths of Horus," pII. xii. "Horus commanded Thoth that the Winged-Sun-Disk, with Uraei, should be brought into every sanctuary wherein he dwelt, and into every sanctuary of all the gods of the lands of the South and the North, and in Amentet, in order that they might drive away evil from therein...." This is what is meant by the Winged-Disks, with the Uraei, which are seen over the entrances of the courts of the temples of all the gods and goddesses of Egypt.

    The early Egyptians called it Behedeti, and associated it with Horus and, some say, later Ra. A somewhat modified version, in a tribute to Horus, can been seen in this artifact from the Louvre:

    Note the Shen Rings in Horus' falcon claws, and note the downward-pointing tail, features which appear on some variants of the Winged Sun but not on others. Note the tail does appear on this Zoroastrian depiction, which also includes a man's soul ensconced in the center, making his way Heavenward:

    Then there's similarity to some depictions of mythical Firebird creatures, including Bennu, The Huma Bird, Fenghuang, Garuda, Simurgh, Zhar-Ptitsa (which Stravinsky's Firebird Suite was about), and of course, the Phoenix. The Phoenix myth is also symbolically appropriate for grave decoration, meaning as it does rebirth, rising from the ashes of Death - literally, not just figuratively. Some of these mythical creatures are distinctly dragon-like in many ways, and displaying oddly insectlike antennae.

    Just last month, this crop circle with a Firebird motif caused more than the usual stir among the woo-woos of the world (myself included):

    And here's a more classic example of the symbol in a 1999 crop circle:

    I'm on the lookout for interesting variants of the Winged Sun/Disk/Dragon symbol on gravestones in Kentucky, so if the taphophiles lurking out there know of any, let me know. I'm also very interested in gravestones with the very similar motif of winged skulls, cherubs, and seraphim. Seraphim, incidentally, literally means "burning ones" in Hebrew (which brings us back to the Phoenix) - and also has an ancient slangy double-meaning connotation of flying reptiles (which brings us back to dragons).

    Lastly, some of the aforementioned internet woo-woos have been saying that the symbol has been a warning all along about the eventual return of the double-tailed rogue planet Nibiru in 2012. It is true that the Babylonian God Nibiru was sometimes represented by the winged-disc insignia, but it also represents a celestial object (some say comet, some say planet, some say spaceship). What, if anything, all this has to do with the Nibiru of Zecharia Sitchin's theories, remains unclear to me. Supposedly, some say, the winged-orb emblem is mankind's vestigial memory of twin-tailed Nibiru's previous calamitous crossings of our own orbit:

    Oh, and one more thing; Don't get me started on the Chrysler logo, which also seems to have an eye (of Horus?) in its center: