About this blog

This blog has been around since 2008 but has never developed a clear direction. Most visitors arrive here looking for information on some interest we share, like
fringe travel or gruesome deaths, or (weirdly) hyenas. Please use the pages I have provided above to find posts on your particular inquiry, and comment on a post if it is useful or wrong, or if you’d like read more about it.

Otherwise, scroll through for randomness that I found enjoyable and wanted to share. Thanks for visiting.
Americana Exotica

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“Angel Lust” is a euphemism for the ages

So, in my travels, I have seen many things, but one of the things I have been spared is the Death Erection. Luckily, the internet is here to ruin me to everything. This post is probably not safe for work, I want you to know. If that’s an issue, you can check out my recipes or literature reviews or something.

Now on to the good stuff.

Ludwig Krug, Man of Sorrows, 1510-1532

Ludwig Krug, Man of Sorrows, 1510-1532

Yeah, that’s Jesus with an erection. It’s not a big deal. During the Renaissance, he was sometimes depicted with a, you know, *cough*boner*chough* as a way to express the sexuality of christ. I guess that’s refreshing, it’d be pretty cool if a woman got to be in religious art with erect nipples and a wanton expression and have that be cool, too. There is a female variant of angel lust, it’s less dramatic, but it does occur.

Anyway, the phenomenon goes by several names,  here called the Resurrection Erection, though she may just be joking, or also “postmortem priapism.” Philippe Ariès was a french medievalist who thought it was a myth used to explain the gray area between agony and ecstasy, but it has been witnessed following executions, particularly hanging. One 19th century medical text noted that post mortem erections indicate a “sure proof of violent and sudden death.”

Interestingly, erections in paleolithic art found in the context of death or serious danger. You can read more about it by clicking that link or also reading this academic paper on male genital representation in paleolithic art.

Thanks for reading!

For more like this, continue to the Sex and Death collection, or The Best of Death. Or, read these related articles:

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Hello out there Isle of Man reader!

Another new country! Somebody out there from Isle of Man checked in, probably after a relaxing Sunday spent playing a game of cammag with friends. Thank you reader for giving me a two for one day in terms of geographic discovery. I’m practically Christopher Columbus over here.

isle of man seal of arms

Coat of arms of Isle of Man

(Latin motto translates “Wherever you throw it, it will stand”)

Isle of man has an extensive history of inhabitation. Neolithic settlers constructed megaliths, some of which are still visible on the island. The Celts, a major influence on the culture and language on the Isle of Man, settled some time during the Iron age. Later, Vikings established Tynwald, the legislative body on the Island. It is the oldest continuously running parliamentary body in the world– arguably older even than Iceland’s Althing, which was founded in 930 in Thingvellir, a location worth checking out anyway.

The mythology of the area contains several colorful characters. A Fenodyree is a very helpful thing, capable of completing great amounts of work quickly, but is rather unreliable. In one story, he is offered a cap and a coat, but because he prefers to run around naked, he left in a huff. The Moddey Dhoo is a scary black ghost dog who wanders around scaring people. There is also the tradition of recognizing fairies, or “little people,” known as mooinjer veggey in Manx. There is a bridge known as the Fairy Bridge where passers over the bridge are encouraged to call out and greet mooinjer veggey to make sure they have good luck that day.

Notable points about the Isle of Man– the adorable manx cat hails (not tails) from the island. Though the Isle of Man is small, there are distinct dialects within the the Manx language. The name probably comes from a descriptive name for the sight of it coming out of the ocean, and was once spelled “Mann.” Their unofficial national dish is similar to poutine, and their flag is scary!

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Hey there, Jersey!

To the person in Jersey who checked out my blog today, I’d like to thank you for introducing me to your country. It is a bailiwick, a form of territory presided over by a Bailiff. The historical origins of the bailiwick have its roots in a form of landsharing. The owner of the land leases the land to a collection of individuals who elect a bailiff to receive profits and distribute them among shareholders.

Things people in Jersey like to do: listen to folk music like that of Nerina Pallot, attend the Branchage International Film Festival, and eating fried dough, delicious seafood and creamery treats made from Channel Island Milk.

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Baxter Avenue Train Station

Things change. They lose their meaning or their value. We lose them and forgot we ever had them. We archive them optimistically, desperately. The posts I made when I started this blog have gradually become less functional and slipped further and further in the page rankings as other, better content showed up– and that is a good thing. In an effort to keep sharing what I find interesting, I have been revising some of my older posts, and here I revisit the Baxter Avenue Train Station.

Baxter Station

Sometime in 2008, I think, my friend had a couch surfer for a few nights and I thought she was insane. Couch surfing is like having the entirety of Craigslist show up at your doorstep and ask for a shower. I have had mixed experiences with it, from very nice, normal exchanges with people in Iceland, to my Kentucky attempts to host which included a lovely couple from a nearby city, but also: an evasive German magician, a demanding night owl, a guy who wanted to come to Derby for the “energy”, and a carny I threw out of my car. Luckily, her guest turned out to be a lovely English gentleman taking a sabbatical to sightsee by motorcycle across the United States. He was wonderful, charming and mild-mannered– and maybe a little unsure of what to make of us.

We managed a pretty good tour for the guy, including several local landmarks and the parks. We put messages in bottles and threw them off the bridge into the Ohio River, a practice he seemed unfamiliar with but was enthusiastic about all the same. He threw our bottles for us, because he was “the bloke” and we wanted them as far into the current as they could get. Some guides might have taken him to the Slugger Museum, or the Seelbach Hotel bar, or to bet on ponies at the track. Did we do that? On the contrary, I took him on a low-brow prowl: dive bars, dollar beers, an expedition through ruins of my burned apartment building, into an abandoned crematorium, and up to the gloriously bombed out Baxter Avenue Train Station Platform because I am a broke cockroach.

I’d been to the train platform before during a heat-wave induced fugue state. Trespassing on railroad property is particularly risky in the world of urban exploration. The lines hire their own police force to monitor the tracks, and this platform passes over a major road, exposing us on two sides in the middle of a city. It had also become a safe haven for the homeless and the sheltered spaces were strewn with scraps of cardboard with things like “Christian Veteran, Please Help” written across them, among other bits of hobo camp trash. Before entering a new section, we’d call out to ask if anybody was home.

You can read the post I put up afterward if you are into decay porn. Between the two trips, I was fortunate enough to take some good pictures and upload them to my panoramio account, before the platform was destroyed in 2009.

Though it was built in 1937 by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, by the time I got there, the property had been purchased by CSX (the same company that owned the now-abandoned Moonville Tunnel and owns the infamous Pope Lick Trestle) and hadn’t seen passenger service in many decades. The line runs through the stockyards through Butchertown and at some point it might have been used for livestock or killing floor escapees had holed up there; the rooms still smelled strongly of pigs. I didn’t know it at the time, but I must have passed through the negro waiting room and the ticket office.

The demolition is well covered by Brandon Klayko on his site Broken Sidewalk and a local photographer caught the wrecking in progress. It’s a shame that it had to be torn down; it held a special significance as a PWA commissioned work, and was aesthetically striking, built in the Art Deco style. Dozens of early photos of the station are available at Louisville Art Deco, in an exhaustive post on the topic. They have posted several scans of news clippings, which I will post here to protect from link-rot, because they are really cool and deserve to be seen:

And now it is gone, the good and the bad of it, never to return– but that’s the way of things. The links in this page will break and the writing will age. I have aged. The people who went to the station with me are long gone in one way or another and I forgot the couch surfer’s name. I hope his trip went well for him. He seemed to enjoy his time in Louisville.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, continue to Nelsonville Brick Park, Hopkinsville Eclipse, or Moonville Tunnel.

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Murderous Mary and the Darkness in the South

mary-banner

Some of this content has moved!! For the story of Mary, the performing elephant hanged in Tennessee, visit Murderous Mary and the Darkness in the South at its new home. Please consider becoming a member— you’ll support my work. You’re the best like that!

If that’s not you, I can relate. That’s why I made sure to leave some interesting content. Thank you for visiting, you are much appreciated!

The East Hill Cemetery in Bristol Tennessee includes a memorial to confederate soldiers immediately next to a much more modest slave cemetery located on a slope into the woods. The juxtaposition is alarming and unremarked upon, though the slave section is marked with a sign including the names of several of those there interred.

The town of Bristol appears to be in decline; abandoned office furniture litters the downtown area and many buildings stood vacant. Our hotel was next to a Nascar course, and also several massage parlors and an office for mattress sanitation services. Both Erwin and Bristol lie on a train line, and both are attempting a bit of a renaissance, Erwin by appealing to animal lovers and the run off population of gentrified Asheville, and Bristol through country music tourism. The landscape is mountainous and dotted with coal mining towns and, of course, it is beautiful. Southern charm ran thin on this trip, but most of the people I encountered in both cities were nice enough, though it should be reported that I am white. (It could also be reported that clerks routinely handed my credit card and bill back to the male in my party.) And so the South, there she is in all her complicated and beautiful grotesquery: may elephants live 1,000 years in your heart.

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Everything is poison. Only the dose makes a thing not a poison.

It’s 2020 and the disproportionate coronavirus vaccine scaremongering (or conspiracy-theorizing) has made this post relevant again.

Halloween is canceled, kids. Sorry.

Working in a health food store, and generally being an undercover dirty hippie, I’ve made a lot of friends who believed in Naturopathy. For a while I toed the party line, juicing vegetables to detox the heavy metals out of my system and eschewing standard medicine in favor of remedies more in harmony with… whatever it was that needed harmonizing. Then I got a raging case of Strep throat and fever-dreamed about a hyena at the foot of my bed, protecting me from evil spirits that were darting around my room. I haven’t quite gotten over my fixation on hyenas or my distrust of alternative hoodoo medicine. Fuck you, horehound.

The last time I went to a party and heard some hippie tell me she didn’t need to believe in traditional medicine because “the placebo effect is real, man,” I swear to god, I thought I’d die. I know that the placebo effect is real (it’s even socially transmitted, like a virus or an idea), but are you ok with buying saltwater and just chancing it? Sure, traditional medicine in this country has a long way to go as far as consumer safety goes, but most standard remedies don’t have lead in them. What kind of school do you have to go to just prescribe placebos, because I want to go. Hopefully, I just never run into somebody with an actual illness, because then I’d feel really bad and I don’t think alternative therapists qualify for malpractice coverage.

And you know why this sort of thinking is a shame?

Because it’s a false dichotomy, that’s why.

People underestimate the parallels between traditional medicine and nontraditional. Consider vaccinations– the same thing that causes the disease also prevents the disease. The same goes for allergy shots and radiation therapy for cancer. A little bit of radiation in the right spot will kill the cancer and let the body recover. Too much will cause cancer. As Paracelsus noted, it is only the dose that makes a thing not a poison. Sort of like alcohol. A small amount causes an effect called Hormesis, producing a positive effect though alcohol is still a poison. Similarly, penicillin, the first antiobiotic, is derived from a bacteria. The comparisons that come to my mind relate to homeopathy, but I’m sure there are others.

Not like this, though.

That said, I can’t entirely disregard the good aspects of alternative medicine, and maintaining a person’s overall well being. After all, I worked at the health food store for a little under a year and grew almost an inch in an adult growth spurt. I have my last .75″ thanks to all those juices and supplements, I am pretty sure, but for the record my grandmother grew into her 20’s too and she most decidedly did not go the supplementation route.

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On the unlikelihood of hyena domestication. Or: No, you can’t have one.

This post has moved! Please find it at its new home, Hyena Domestication Fails as told through hieroglyphics. Read Hyena Domestication 101 for an overview of the topic and an explanation of how this hyena project snowballed on me. Or my free post on how to make a hyena your pet, if you were to do such a thing.

hyena

Photo by Steve Jurvetson, used under the Attribution license.
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Online history of online histories.

This is an aside to part 2 of my series on the online history of the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike and focuses on the nature of online sources.

Though the series is on the decline of the tunnel as related by ever-improving technology, the apparatuses to document the transmission of information from one source to another have changed as well. In oral histories, autoclitics express the degree of certainty of the speaker, and parentheticals like, “as we were just saying” confirm the place of the utterance in a larger context; in writing, citations perform these functions– but paper is static, and the internet is not. Consequently, the changing nature of documentation online has shaped the various reports on the turnpike.

The mechanics of referencing have generated a considerable amount of interest as technology capable of dispersing information grows more sophisticated and available. The PEW Research Center reports that 64% of Americans own a smartphone. High schoolers who graduate this year will have never lived in a world without search engines. All of this makes me feel incredibly old, and I am not very old, but I did have to memorize the MLA format to document my work in a world that was not easily searchable (and validate my work, as well).

The essay References, Please describes the overabundance of information involved in academic writing as an “appeal to authority.” This authority places the body of work and the author beyond the reproach of the reader in a distinctly inegalitarian attitude that is unlikely to persist in the horizontal landscape of the internet. The very earliest sources like PENNWAYS use the conventions for books at the time and have intellectual property considerations. In contrast, later-coming pages use one or a combination of the developing reference styles for online resources. This blog, for example, uses hyperlinks almost exclusively and is shareable across several platforms. I guess I have retained some copyright, but honestly, nobody has ever wanted anything on here and I have never looked into it. The most recent additions about the turnpike are geotagged photos on Instagram– more accurate than most maps and searchable by hashtag.

Style guides proscribing citation practices have responded to the new demands of online writing; APA format, the style used by psychologists and in many scientific and medical journals, retains the requirement of urls in citations. The APA style guide blog does not have a readily available reason for this. However, having written within both disciplines, it seems like sources relevant to science and medicine are more durable than those of the Humanities– which might be called upon to analyze the jokes on bubblegum wrappers and the like.

MLA, the format used for writing about the humanities (including modern languages like English along with its literature and the critiques of it), has abandoned the url as a part of references. As the creator of several link-heavy posts, I can attest that urls change often. If I had to estimate, links to sources other than Wikipedia have a life of a few years. Reflecting that, the MLA’s new approach encourages critical thinking in citing, making referencing part of a conversation, to “future-proof” the references of current documents. The nature of authorship may be changing, as well, but that would be better addressed in another post. Hyperallergic’s article on plagiarism and art describes the new MLA guide for online citations:

“The Modern Language Association just released a new version of its style handbook that departs from its predecessor’s fetishism of citation minutiae in order to show how documenting sources is a crucial way to publicly record meaningful conversations in a changing digital world.”

I find this fascinating, even if it is dry and academic. The above quote describes citations as a record of “conversations,” and when understood as such, they can give insight into the writer’s thought process and place the piece in question into a larger narrative. Online citations are particularly tricky: the format permits traditional references, comments, hyperlinks, screenshots, edit logs, and more. The OWL at Purdue has devoted special attention to this subject, but the conversation is far from over.

One trend online has been to do away with references completely, and rely upon the reader to do the work when it is necessary. It is easier, as a writer, to place that burden upon the reader, but as scholarly author Kathleen Fitzpatrick points out, content on the web is reposted and altered, abbreviated, and present to varying degrees of reliability in multiple places. Her essay Why citations still matter in the age of Google describes citations as “always future-oriented,” no matter their apparent preoccupation with the past.

Because I am playing archivist with this series, I have to agree. Hopefully, this post was valuable to you in some way, thanks for reading.

For more like this, continue to The Abandonment Project.

parting shot

parting shot

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Camping un-fails at Saddle Lake

I went camping at Saddle Lake in Indiana and it was my most successful attempt yet! 

Just look at this and try not to relax…


For a happy, peaceful camping trip of your own read Camping at Saddle Lake, even if you have anxiety (even if you don’t have anxiety). In that post you’ll find things to know about the trail and campsite before you go, including where to go if the campsite is full by the time you get there. 

You might also like my posts about:

Camping in O’Bannon Woods State Park in Corydon.

Stumbling out of the woods and into history at the Nelsonville Brick Park.

How I’m still not a camper, at Land Between the Lakes.

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Nelsonville Brick Park

Imagine this— a night spent camping at trailhead in an autumn forest, then a morning hike out to the Abandoned Moonville Train Tunnel and along a creek, and then a quarter mile down the road, you’re in Bronze Age outer space. You with me? No? I’m not with me either but on the way north out of the Zaleski State Forest, we stumbled upon this unsettling “brick park.”

That blue barrel is absolutely leering into the doorway and I refuse to edit it out. He just adds to the absurdity of these seemingly inexplicable brick towers spearing out of the wilderness. Trash cans always photobomb on this planet. They might do more.

The Encyclopedia of Forlorn Places noted in 2013 that the area was going through a period of gentrification, and I admit to having had brunch nearby in 2009. In the above picture I am watching my money go up in smoke.

Thanks for visiting!

If you liked this, read my post about tiny houses in a tiny town, the tiny houses of a terrifying evangelical church, or a derelict train station with so much great graffiti. 

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