Sunday, October 31, 2010

Land of Tomorrow

It's often been repeated in years past - by me, even - that there's an old legend about Kentucky's name coming from a Native American word for "dark and bloody ground". The legend, of course, isn't true - but hey, it's always been a useful meme, because Native Americans did use that specific phrase to describe this area.

We still don't really know for certain where the word "Kentucky" comes from. George Rogers Clark said it came from a Native American word meaning "river of blood". That's pretty awesome, but really, there's no reason not to make the more logical assumption that it comes from the Mohawk word Kentah-Ke, meaning "meadow".

But that doesn't mean we have to abandon the "dark and bloody ground" concept, not by any stretch. The term really was applied by Native Americans to describe the territory that would become Transylvania, and then eventually our modern-day Commonwealth of Kentucky. In Steven A. Channing's Kentucky: A Bicentennial History:

When representatives of the Transylvania Land Company
signed the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals in 1775, Chief Dragging Canoe of the Cherokee said they had secured "a dark and bloody ground."

Why dark and bloody, exactly? Well, it's complicated. Northern and southern tribes, such as the Cherokee and Shawnee, had been fighting over the land for as long as either side could remember. But the curious thing is, they weren't fighting for it for the purpose of living there. They wanted the land strictly for its qualities as a superb hunting ground, but one that spooked all concerned (perhaps it was, even then, teeming with Devil Deer.) There was something about this land, even in ancient times, that early man seemed fearful of.

And it seems to go back to early, early man, ones that even predate our own Native Americans.

In his 1806 book Travels In America, Thomas Ashe writes of his experiences with a vast network of huge open-room caverns originally discovered in 1783 beneath the city of Lexington, containing exotic artifacts, a stone altar for sacrifices, human skulls and bones piled high, and mummified remains.

These mummies were very strange looking, of unusually tall stature, and had red hair. The local native Americans claimed that these were the remnants of an ancient race predating their own; one that died out long ago and about which they knew very little.

Respected historian George W. Ranck, writing in 1872, also discussed this "lost city" buried beneath Lexington, and Don Edwards, writing a century later in the Lexington Herald-Leader, noted that when construction workers were preparing to build one of the downtown hotels, they took many more core drillings of the ground than usual - just to be sure they weren't building atop one of the legendary giant caverns.

Lexington isn't the only place that strange Kentucky mummies have been found. Check your copy of Weird Kentucky for information on the mummies discovered in Mammoth Cave - mummies that continue to confound our current ethnological paradigm.

And in 1792, General John Payne made a strange discovery while building his house in the tiny town of Augusta, KY, 63 miles North of Lexington. Payne's firsthand account is related in Historical Sketches of Kentucky by Lewis Collins:

"The bottom on which Augusta is situated is a large burying ground of the ancients...They have been found in great numbers, and of all sizes, everywhere between the mouths of Bracken and Locust Creeks, a distance of about a mile and a half. From the cellar under my dwelling, 60 by 70 feet, over a hundred and ten skeletons were taken. I measured them by skulls, and there might have been more, whose skulls had crumbled into dust...The skeletons were of all sizes, from seven feet to infant.

David Kilgour (who was a tall and very large man) passed our village at the time I was excavating my cellar, and we took him down and applied a thigh bone to his. The man, if well-proportioned, must have been 10 to 12 inches taller than Kilgour, and the lower jaw bone would slip on over his, skin and all. Who were they? How came their bones here?

When I was in the army, I inquired of old Crane, a Wyandot and of Anglerson, a Delaware, both intelligent old chiefs, and they could give me no information in reference to these remains of antiquity. Some of the largest trees of the forest were growing over the remains when the land was cleared in 1792."

A few years later, on December 21, 1806, the town of Augusta, KY was visited by Harman Blennerhassett, lawyer, occultist, and member of the Illuminati. Was he aware of the ancient underground civilization in the region?

Blennerhassett was born on October 8, 1764 in Ireland and moved to the USA with his wife, where they settled on Blennerhassett Island on the Ohio River. Blennerhassett was a friend and colleague of Adam Weishaupt, and a member of his Order of the Illuminati, reaching the level of Illuminatus Magus. He was also a friend of Vice President Aaron Burr, with whom he, some allege, engaged in a conspiracy to, among other things, remove President Thomas Jefferson from power. The plot was discovered, and Blennerhassett's secret camp at Marietta was destroyed on December 19, 1806.

Blennerhassett fled with about 50 of his fellow initiates, leaving his wife, his sons and the rest of his guerrilla troops behind. But here's what has always puzzled me: instead of making a direct exit, Blennerhassett risked making a mysterious side trip to Augusta, KY, arriving on the day of the solstice. Given his penchant for mystical folderol, it seems clear to me that there must have been some occult significance to his visit to Augusta. But what? We may never know.

That Blennerhassett was interested in Kentucky's forgotten ancient civilization is a distinct possibility, however. And did the Marquis de Lafayette have similar thoughts in mind when he toured America with an eye for ancient burial mounds and significance found in calendar dates?

(By the way, I originally wrote an essay on these subjects on my old, now defunct, original version of the UnK site, and much of that material was cut and pasted with some unwelcome alterations and reprinted on other sites with credit given not to me but someone else. So here on this Halloween, I hereby declare the Curse of Grillo's Grandfather and will also mention that I have some excellent attorneys.)

And then there's The Kentucky Anomaly, which is something I ran across accidentally while combing through a mind-numbing quantity of old NASA technical reports. NASA subsequently pulled the report from the URL at which it had previously occupied, and replaced it with something else. But the original report had spoken of "a very prominent magnetic anomaly measured by MAGSAT over the eastern mid-continent of the United States was inferred to have a source region beneath Kentucky and Tennessee. Prominent aeromagnetic and gravity anomalies are also associated with the inferred source region."

Gravity anomalies. Caused by something beneath Kentucky. Seriously. Now that's news! Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find out much else about this so-called "Kentucky Anomaly". What does it all mean? Dunno. I'm working on it. But if, as NASA says, this thing goes back to Pre-Cambrian times, consider that this could be the smoking gun as to why this territory has had a palpably weird vibe for as long as humans have dwelt on its soil.

On the other hand, the Ohio River along Kentucky's upper border also seems to be a source-point for spookiness, from the burial mounds of the Ashland area where Charles Manson grew up, to the aforementioned Augusta, to the anomalous Welsh-speaking people that implausibly turned up in the area that would later become Louisville (Again, consult your copy of Weird Kentucky.)

The mysterious and awe-inspiring Great Serpent Mound is just on the other side of the river in Ohio, but definitely related to all this other ancient activity in the Kentucky/Ohio Valley region. The tribes involved have been alternately theorized to be the Hopewell, the Fort Ancient, the Adena, and a prehistoric precursor of the Allegheny tribe known as the Tallagewi. Still others contend that it all goes back even further, to lost cultures about whom we know absolutely nothing.

Of the Great Serpent Mound, Wikipedia has this to say:

The mound is located on a plateau with a unique cryptoexplosion structure that contains faulted and folded bedrock, usually produced either by a meteorite or a volcanic explosion.

Determining exactly what formed the Serpent Mound Cryptoexplosion Structure is a problem that geologists continue to debate. Two main solutions have been offered. Some geologists think the structure is a meteorite or asteroid crater. Others suggest that the structure was caused by forces from inside the earth, probably an explosive eruption of gases derived from a deep magma source in the basement rocks.

A similar anomaly exists at Jeptha Knob in Clayvillage, KY (Shelby County). Jeptha Knob was originally thought to be a cryptovolcanic structure but now is considered to be the site where a massive asteroid struck the Earth 425 million years ago.

One could go quite mad studying all the puzzling evidence - and some have.

This Halloween, my fellow Kentuckians, count yourself lucky to be living in one of our country's most interesting states - but also consider that "may you live in an interesting state" could be an equally effective variant of the Chinese curse "may you live in interesting times."

There's yet another proposed meaning for the word Kentucky - some say it comes from a Wyandot word meaning "Land of Tomorrow". Though not as plausible as some of the ones we addressed at the outset, I just like the sound of it, and the implication it carries - that as interesting as Kentucky is now, it's going to get even more interesting in the future...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nude Statues in Gratz Park

The fountain (which hasn't been running the last few times I've gone by it) in Lexington's Gratz Park features these two semi-nude figures frolicking eternally in bronze.

Given the modern-day prudism regarding the human body in public art - consider John Ashcroft's covering the bare-breasted Spirit of Justice statue, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli censoring his own state's seal, and Republican delegate Robert Hurt's mission to censor all nude art in Washington D.C. - it's surprising that some squeamish sorts haven't already crocheted some clothes for these skyclad splashers.

The fountain and statuary were donated to the city of Lexington by the great novelist James Lane Allen, a graduate of Transylvania University. Allen was part of the growing "Local Color" movement in literature in the late 19th century. Rather than writing in a generalized setting and style that everyone could easiy relate to, the "Local Color" or "Regionalist" writers sought to use their stories to document the dialect, the people, and notable places in a specific locale. (Another Kentucky example: Annie Fellows Johnston's Little Colonel series of books.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Campaign Ad Depicts Rock Stars as Criminals

A political advertisement for one James A. Daley, Campbell County Attorney, has backfired in the worst way.

The ad accuses his opponent Steve Franzen of "making a living defending criminals". Hey, no shit, Sherlock! - he used to be a public defender. In America everyone has a right to legal representation, even though I know you prosecutors wish we could dispense with that quaint formality. The ad further illustrates its confused point by showing a bunch of black-leather-clad tattooed tough guy "criminal types".

Problem is, those men are all members of current rock bands - Disturbed, Stone Sour, and Avenged Sevenfold, all of whom are popular Warner Bros. recording artists. And they're not pleased with being portrayed as criminals, especially not for some two-bit politician's personal gain.

According to

Franzen, a private practice attorney who works in criminal defense, said beyond being disgusted at the message on the flier, depicting these band members, who are in no way connected to him, as criminals is a violation of several laws including copyright, slander and placing someone in false light.

"We're talking about the county attorney here," Franzen said. "At the very least he ought to be able and willing to run a campaign within the bounds of the law."

Justin Verst, the chair of "Keep James A. Daley County Attorney," who paid for the flier, said it was produced by the group's paid consultants, November Strategies. Verst said the fliers did go out with his group's permission.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Post-Tornado Rainbow

Yesterday I thought it was just a typical windy Autumn morning while I was sitting in the Middletown Starbucks. What I didn't know was that most of Kentucky was on a tornado watch, that a tornado had been spotted just over the river in Indiana, and another one had overturned a semi-truck on the Watterson.

Meanwhile, in Scott County, a forming funnel cloud was caught on video, and in Hopkinsville, one tore the roof off a storage building. That may or may not be the same one witnessed by National Weather Service spotters near Pembroke, and then in Dunmor in Muhlenberg County. An enormous tree in Berea toppled in the storm, narrowly missing an entire apartment complex. In Middlesboro, the mall was damaged and the power was knocked out.

To my surprise, one of the baristas came to the center of the room and announced, "uh, everybody, your attention please, we've just been informed that funnel clouds have been seen in Anchorage, so I'm going to have to ask you all to move away from the glass windows and to the rear of the building, for your safety."

And so we all migrated to the back, everyone suddenly intently tapping at their laptops and handhelds, and within seconds, we were all sharing info with each other that we'd gleaned. One guy instantly had a real-time animation from the NWS on his laptop full-screen, and was showing us how it was estimated to be moving at 80MPH and thus would be past us very quickly. It wasn't that long ago that we'd all be huddled around a radio, listening for the latest wire-service news update from the DJ, but now, every citizen with wi-fi internet access is instantly better informed than even that radio DJ of yesteryear.

Though the tornadic front did indeed swiftly pass, the rainstorm on its coattails continued for hours more. But when it was over and blue sky began to peek out from the cloud cover, I caught an odd rainbow that only existed over a portion of very specific clouds - when those clouds shifted, so did the rainbow, and when that cloud system rolled away, the rainbow was gone. Though my eye saw an evenly ordered full spectrum in it, my camera surprisingly did not - at least, not as clearly.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fort Knox is Burning

Over the weekend, a massive fire-fighting effort has been underway to douse the flames that have been sweeping hundreds of acres at Fort Knox. No one's certain how it started, but some are saying that the fires probably started after tracer rounds were fired during military exercises. This is ammo enhanced with pyrotechnic materials that allow the paths of the projectiles to be clearly seen as they sail through the air.

According to the Courier-Journal, at least 87 drops of water have been performed by Blackhawk helicopters. There's conflicting reports online at the moment, some saying that the fires have all been contained, while others indicate that some are still burning. Fire departments that have provided assistance include Bullitt County, Flaherty, Lebanon Junction, Nichols, PRP, Rineyville, and Zoneton.

Another fire, at the Fort Duffield Civil War Park in West Point, KY, is believed to have been also sparked by the Fort Knox conflagration. According to WHAS:

The WHAS11 crew walked up a hill inside the park to get a closer look at the now-controlled flames and saw firsthand the damage the fire caused. The blaze was so hot, it did something no one working the fire said they had ever seen before; melted a portion of one man’s helmet.

The considerable smoke lingering over the southern part of Jefferson County has been very bad to breathe, with air quality ratings in Valley Station reaching undesirable levels.

The Kentucky Forestry Division reports that 42 fires in 31 counties occurred last week. 15 of those were in Rockcastle County, where
Judge-Executive Buzz Carloftis issued a total ban on all open fires, including trash fires, camp bonfires, and controlled burnoffs on public and private land.

In addition to being a major training base for the U.S. Army, Fort Knox also supposedly houses the nation's gold bullion supply. I say "supposedly" because there's been a growing concern in some circles that the gold is actually missing. There have been reports of "gold" ingots discovered to be composed primarily of tungsten, a metal whose weight is close enough to gold for the brick to pass the flotation test.

There have been repeated calls for an independent audit of Fort Knox's gold since the Reagan administration, but the Federal Reserve has stonewalled these efforts each time. And as market analyst Gary North wisely notes, the Fed may have good reason to be in damage-control mode, as a chain reaction of worldwide financial upheaval could ensue:

"If all the gold is not there, there will be enormous pressure from voters on governments around the world to audit the gold reserves of their central banks. If the gold held in trust by the New York Fed is not there, foreign voters will conclude that their governments' gold may not be there either."

Things may be getting even hotter for Fort Knox if the gold-audit proponents get their way, and that's a fire that shows no signs of being put out.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Fraternity Cult of Aqua Buddha

Larry David had a good rant on Curb Your Enthusiasm about people who say "Having Said That" in a context which allows them to state one thing and then use "Having Said That" to proceed to make a sharp turn and contradict themselves. "I hate all dogs. Having said that, I really love Rin Tin Tin."

Bear with me, here, then:

As I've often stated on these blogs, I have zero interest in terrestrial politics. I long ago gave up the rigged shell-game of believing that terms like "left", "right" "liberal", "conservative", "republican" and "democrat" have held any real meaning in my lifetime. Both political parties are controlled by the same hive-mind packs of superstitious and short-sighted men, and neither party even comes close to addressing the issues that I consider the most important ones facing humanity today. In the immortal words of William S. Burroughs, "Fuck 'em all, squares on both sides."

Also, whenever I post here about some "weird politics" story, it invariably touches off knee-jerk reactions from people who assume that if I make fun of something really stupid that Gov. Beshear does, then it logically must follow that I am a Republican. I most assuredly am not - I don't use Brand X or Brand Y.

So that's why I tend to avoid political posts altogether, especially during election years.

But having said that........

The recent revelations about Rand Paul's college days, printed in GQ Magazine, are just too wacky not to examine. The article claims that Paul belonged to a fraternity well known for its anti-Christian and anti-religious sentiment. As part of this frat's rituals, the article alleges, Paul took part in tying up a woman and forcing her to kneel in obeisance to a comical mock-god of theirs they called the Aqua Buddha.

That's pretty crazy stuff, if true. And when Jack Conway used this information for an attack ad of his own, Paul decried it as despicable, and reportedly called Conway a "liar." But since the source of the Aqua Buddha cult story comes from GQ, not Conway himself, I think Mr. Paul is a tad confused there. Nonetheless, Paul has since several all ties of civility with Conway after the ad aired, refusing to even shake hands with him in debates. Says Paul: "I will not shake hands with someone who attacks my religion and attacks my Christian beliefs."

Again, while I understand Paul's outrage, this response doesn't make logical sense. In no way has Conway attacked Christianity itself by calling attention to the GQ story. And that's my real beef with Paul in the end: he may have some good think-outside-the-box ideas, but he's a very poor communicator. And I distrust people who cannot communicate. In fact, I turn and run from them whenever possible.

(I suppose I should say something critical about Jack Conway here just to keep it from looking like this is strictly an attack on Rand Paul, but honestly, I don't know anything about the guy. He bores me. Like I said, I don't follow politics and couldn't care less. I will say that, in order to campaign against someone, if you have to reach all the way back to your opponent's school years to dig up dirt on them, then your campaign is obviously in deep, deep trouble.)

According to FOX News:

Conway's team made it crystal clear Thursday that their candidate would be at the forum, regardless. In an e-mailed statement to reporters, campaign spokesman John Collins said, "Attorney General Jack Conway will be at the debate - regardless of whether Rand Paul has the guts to answer basic questions about his own actions. Jack understands and will always stand up for the people of Kentucky. Rand should stop his huffing and puffing and start answering people's questions."

Yeah, yeah, whatever - I don't care about any of that. I just wanna know more about this Aqua Buddha cult! How did it work? Does it still exist? Do they have an official religious text? Membership dues? Why is it "Aqua"?

The fraternity in question, known as The NoZe Brotherhood was not a legitimate one. It was banned by Baylor University for its sacreligious and racist views espoused in their newsletter The Rope, but continued to operate anyway as a sort of pathetic poor man's secret society. According to a female student quoted in the GQ piece:

"He and Randy came to my house, they knocked on my door, and then they blindfolded me, tied me up, and put me in their car. They took me to their apartment and tried to force me to take bong hits. They'd been smoking pot." After the woman refused to smoke with them, Paul and his friend put her back in their car and drove to the countryside outside of Waco, where they stopped near a creek. "They told me their god was 'Aqua Buddha' and that I needed to bow down and worship him," the woman recalls. "They blindfolded me and made me bow down to 'Aqua Buddha' in the creek."

Is any of this relevant to the current campaign, though? Absolutely not. Rolling Stone magazine disagrees (but of course, they would):

The sneering, intellectually superior tone of Paul's society-brother newsletter is the one thing that to me seems still relevant to Paul's campaign. If you follow Paul enough and go to enough of his events, you won't be able to miss how much smarter he thinks he is than everyone else; he puts even Al Gore to shame in this department. If you ask him to explain some of his old comments, or something from his father's old libertarian newsletters, as I did, he's liable to roll his eyes at you. He apparently finds the whole answering questions and explaining himself thing very tiresome, and seems put out that he even has to bother with it en route to the Senate. If you read these NoZe articles, you might get an idea of where some of this comes from.

Maybe so, but that still doesn't make it relevant. If doing stupid things in college is enough to dash a professional/political future, then heck, we're all doomed. The NoZe frat may have been idiotic, but they're not half as cause for alarm to me as, say, the Skull and Bones Society, of which both President Bushes and John Kerry were members, and which has been accused of grave-robbing and borderline necrophilia.

If a man can be elected President of the United States after being a member of a group whose initiation ritual requires laying naked in a coffin and reciting one's deepest and darkest sexual fantasies to his fellow frat boys in a room filled with illegally-acquired human bones, I think we have more important things to worry about than Randy's goofy college past.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Jupiter Over Jefferson County

One from my blog Revelation Awaits An Appointed Time:

The planet Jupiter has recently been closer to the Earth than at any time since 1951 or 1963, depending on conflicting media sources.

How close is it?

It's so close that last night, standing in E.P. Sawyer Park in Anchorage, KY, I actually managed to see (I think) one of its 63 known moons through high-powered binoculars.

It's so close that I even managed to take photos with my ordinary and mundane digital camera (an Olympus SP-350, 8.0 megapixel) that, while, not likely to appear in Sky & Telescope anytime soon, are good enough to show Jupiter's characteristic pinkness.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Apocalypse Not Now

A recent announcement spells bad news for those of us who, like Kentuckian John Kehne, were turning the 2012 doomsday hysteria into a business; and for those of us who, like myself, were actually looking forward to the end of the world, or a pole shift, or a visit from the giant mutant stargoat, or the Big Electron, or whatever the heck was supposed to happen.

Geraldo Aldana of UC Santa Barbara has thrown some cold water on our fires of doom: according to his analysis of the Mayan calendar, 2012 is not the correct end-date. The accepted conversions of dates from Mayan to the modern calendar may be off by as much as 50 or 100 years, says Aldana.


But who knows - maybe regardless of whether the interpretations of the Mayan calendar are accurate or not, some sort of intergalactic things with wings, or the Annunaki, or Nibiru, or Planet X, or some rogue comet or something, will show up ready to pummel our paradigm anyhow. Let's hope so - I have a bottle of fine wine I've been saving for the end of civilization and it would be a real bummer to end up drinking it while sitting around watching Seinfeld reruns and doing the laundry.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kentucky's Own Hell

Many people have heard about the infamous underground coal mine fire in Centralia, PA, which has been continuously raging since 1962 and necessitated the total evacuation of the city. It is currently considered unstoppable and is burning for miles under the surface. The Centralia underground fire has been the subject of numerous documentaries, news stories, and articles.

But how many know that a very similar subterranean catastrophe is taking place right here in Kentucky?

The Tiptop underground mine fire in Bulan, KY (Breathitt County), also known as the Lost Mountain fire or "the Ruth Mullins fire" for the lady who discovered it, is burning out of control just below the Earth's surface and has been for apparently many years.

But how did this happen? Details are sketchy. An article in Discover doesn't really delve into the fire's origins. According to Earth Magazine, "No one seems to know how long it’s been burning, how much coal it has consumed, how it started or the dangers associated with it."

A report of scientific analysis of the outgassing fumes from the Tiptop fire paints an ecologically troubling picture:

At the time of our visits, concentrations of CO2 peaked at 2.0% and > 6.0% (v/v) and CO at 600 ppm and > 700 ppm during field analysis in May 2008 and January 2009, respectively. For comparison, these concentrations exceed the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) eight-hour safe exposure limits (0.5% CO2 and 50 ppm CO), although the site is not currently mined. Mercury, as Hg0, in excess of 500 and 2100 μg/m3, in May and January, respectively, in the field, also exceeded the OSHA eight-hour exposure limit (50 μg/m3). Carbonyl sulfide, dimethyl sulfide, carbon disulfide, and a suite of organic compounds were determined at two vents for the first sampling event. All gases are diluted by air as they exit and migrate away from a gas vent, but temperature inversions and other meteorological conditions could lead to unhealthy concentrations in the nearby towns.

There are at least nine sites with major openings in the ground where the Ruth Mullins fire is venting, extending over a huge area that occupies both Breathitt and Perry counties. Many researchers believe that underground coalmine fires such as this (there are many around the world, especially in China) could be a major culprit in man-made global warming.

On the other hand, such fires can also be a part of mother nature's plan. An enormous mountain in Australia, once thought to be a volcano, has turned out to be a naturally-occuring underground coal-seam fire that has been raging for over six millenia.

And if, as many Native Americans believe, coal has a mind of its own, then the coal spirit may be well pleased by its own blaze of glory.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Abandoned Anchorage Church Update

Has it really been almost two years since we examined this abandoned church in Anchorage? It's abandoned no more; as promised by a commenter on that post, it's being totally renovated and it's looking great now.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Graves Vandalized in Millwood

Some sick individuals are stealing people's gravestones in the Vol Layman Cemetery in Millwood. From the Grayson County News-Gazette:

Vandals that desecrated the graves of three World War II Veterans and a Korean War Veteran in Grayson County have stolen the special grave markers provided by the Veterans Administration.

Aileen Stewart, widow to one of the WWII Veterans whose grave marker was stolen, came to the cemetery with her son Carl Stewart JR. and viewed the damage first hand.

Her husband had fought in the war and she told stories of the time he spent defending his country.

“He fought for the freedom that these people are enjoying today and look what they have done," said Stewart. "Once he spent three months in a fox-hole and when he was finally able to take off his boots his skin peeled off with the boot."

A fourth vandalized grave has been discovered at the nearby Frank-Embry cemetery, same M.O. as the others: a military plaque removed from its concrete base.

Anyone with leads or tips on these crimes is encouraged to contact the Grayson County Sheriff's Office at 270-259-3024.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kroger's Aerial Advertising

I'm a big fan of aerial advertising, in which a message banner is dragged behind a low-flying plane over a high-population area. I see it all the time in Florida, but it's something not usually done in Kentucky except during major events like Thunder Over Louisville.

So I was a bit surprised to see this plane circling over St.Matthews yesterday with a banner bearing the Kroger logo. It was way too high up in the sky to be clearly seen by anyone - there aren't even many pedestrians in St.Matthews at that time of day, and the vast majority of people in cars would never have noticed it. Hope Kroger didn't spend much cash on this.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Curse of Constantine Rafinesque

It's an unfortunate fact that if you excel in too many fields at the same time, the net effect is that people's minds will shut down trying to take it all in. There have been many modern-day renaissance men in the last 100 years, whose genius overlaps into many different subjects, from botany to electronics to philosophy to religion, and they rarely get their deserved due from the public, who tend to prefer that you pick one realm of research and stick to that.

(It can be even more of an annoyance for someone such as myself, who frankly excels at no one particular practice, but nevertheless enjoys dabbling in painting, writing, science, theatre, astronomy, computers, music, photography, gardening, microbiology, and the culinary arts. It's hard to tell someone that you do all these things without sounding like the world's biggest B.S.-er and/or someone with delusions of grandeur. Hey, I never said I was good at any of these things - I just don't let that stop me from doing them!)

Take Constantine Rafinesque for example. He was a self-educated polymath and a polyglot who made great breakthroughs in the fields of zoology, meteorology, geology, anthropology, linguistics, and more - but was officially honored by academia for none of his accomplishments during his lifetime.

In 1819 Rafinesque became professor of botany at Transylvania University in Lexington, and also tutored in French and Italian. His erratic personality and ahead-of-his-time views, however, kept him in constant trouble with the University and with his peers in the scientific community. In 1826 he and Transy parted ways after a heated argument with its president, Horace Holly. Some versions of the story say he was fired, others say he walked out. Either way, Rafinesque announced he had placed a curse on Transylvania University and Mr. Holly, a threat which no doubt elicited little more than droll chuckles around the faculty lounge.

But then Holly himself was ousted from power by his own board, and soon thereafter died of Yellow Fever. And two years later, the Transy administration building was destroyed in a fire. Some may have, at that point, asked themselves if there wasn't something to the mad professor's curse.

Perhaps in a move to pacify Rafinesque posthumously, it was arranged after his death to bring his remains back to Transy to be interred in a crypt room inside Old Morrison Hall. For many years having his remains here was a point of pride for the school. But then, even in death, Rafinesque messed with them once more: it was recently discovered that they got the wrong body. A campus secret society known as "The Hemlock Society" had been charged with the task and mistakenly exhumed the corpse of a woman named Mary Ann Passamore from a pauper's graveyard in Philadelphia instead of Rafinesque's.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Lakeland Asylum Markers

The bronze commemorative marker on the grounds of the now-demolished Central State Asylum at Lakeland (Anchorage) vanished awhile back, and no one seems to know what became of it.

Recently, while taking my early-morning coffee-walk constitutional in the E.P. Sawyer Park (which now occupies the haunted former asylum property), I discovered that not one but two new markers have appeared. One's your basic state historical marker, pretty vague and dry and not terribly informational in its capsule description. The other is a surprisingly elaborate presentation that speaks of the asylum's horrors with a little more candor, but still doesn't even begin to touch upon the full nauseating extent of the atrocities said to have occurred here in the name of psychiatry.

The photos were taken with a flash since it was 5:30am and pitch black dark out (I couldn't even read these plaques until I got home and looked at my own photos.) Don't mention the "orbs" in the photo unless you want to be thoroughly ridiculed.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Spotted this truck in Butchertown. I wonder if the "skin" tag (heh) was placed there deliberately by its owner, or if some vandal (excuse me, I mean "urban meme artist") just tagged it randomly.

Hopefully it's the former, in the tradition of graffiti vehicles like "Gold Teef", "GNAR", and "I Love Earth".

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Inflatable Pumpkin

Caufield's Novelty Shop in Louisville has always been good for eye-catching gimmicks, such as their hearse and their giant bat. Now they've put a giant inflatable jack-o-lantern on their roof, joining UnK's hallowed ranks of blow-up goodies such as the Inflatable Cone and the Inflatable Ape.

Friday, October 8, 2010

1877 E. Howard Tower Clock

One from my blog Revelation Awaits an Appointed Time:

Last week I spotted this clockwork wonder in the lobby of the Henry County courthouse in Kentucky. It was the original courthouse tower clock, which had been abandoned when it ceased to work many years ago, but then some enterprising soul rescued it from whatever guano-encrusted shed in which it had been stored, and coaxed it like Frankenstein's Monster back into renewed life.

The clock was manufactured in 1877 by a Boston, Massachusetts company specifically for the Henry County courthouse's original incarnation. I was thrilled to discover such a Steampunky find out in the glory lands of rural Kentucky, but the locals seem jaded about it, and found it a source of considerable mirth that I was taking pictures of it like a foreign tourist.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More Weird Mailboxes

So I haven't noticed any interesting mailboxes in quite a while, and suddenly yesterday I spot three of them, all on the same stretch of highway 157 between Newcastle and Sulphur.

We have a bull, a hot rod, and one festooned with horseshoes (unfortunately turned the wrong way for the traditional luck superstition).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

W.H. Averitt

A grave that gives a little detail about how someone died always catches my eye, and this one that says "Murdered in Stanton" certainly did. In Bedford Cemetery (Trimble County), you'll find the grave of W.H. Averitt, who had been the Fayette County Attorney at the time of his murder in 1893.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

For the Love of Beer Cheese

One from my writing blog:

Brillat-Savarin once wrote, "A dinner which ends without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye." And that's doubly so when it comes to my favorite Kentucky delicacy, Beer Cheese. My regular readers already know what lengths of fanaticism my love for Beer Cheese can reach, and now I'm droppin' that knowledge for the Kentucky Monthly crowd in this month's installment of Commonwealth Curiosities! Scope out the October issue at your favorite bookstore or newsstand.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Wrought-Iron Gravestone

An unusual grave marker, looking rather like a wrought-iron gate, in Trimble County's Bedford Cemetery.