Podenstein’s Lab Episode 006: A Trio of True Tales from the Decapitation Nation!

The Podenstein’s Lab news team loses their heads! At least, in the news they bring you in this episode. Mark L. Groves introduces the man behind “laughing your head off”- literally; Shelby Dollar discusses the science of slugs that love a good auto-decapitation; and J.E. Petersen revisits a Colorado chicken who takes a chopping- and spends the next 18 months headless pecking for paying audiences nationwide. It even has it’s own festival…of course. These stories and more are on the chopping block, in Episode 6 of Podenstein’s Lab.

https://anchor.fm/podensteinslab/embed/episodes/Podensteins-Lab-Episode-006-A-Trio-of-True-Tales-from-the-Decapitation-Nation-eufqil

REAL HEADLINES FROM THE INTERWEBS

Woman freaked out after spotting ‘creepy’ light shining out of hotel bathtub drain

https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/weird-news/woman-freaked-out-after-spotting-23840100

Sausage vending machines booming in Germany

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/germany-sausage-vending-machine-food-butchers-a8955496.html

MMA fight stopped as fans are asked to look for fighter’s severed finger

 “MMA fighter Khetag Pliev’s finger was severed during a bout Thursday night in Philadelphia, and for long minutes it could not be found.

Pliev hadn’t called for the fight to stop — “I felt like I had this guy,” he told ESPN — but the referee noticed the missing finger and stopped the bout after the second round.”

Art and sole: Singapore artist sculpts with skin from his feet

https://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore-news/art-and-sole-singapore-artist-sculpts-skin-his-feet

 “After he peels and scrapes the skin flakes, he assembles them into pieces that look like animal fossils, insects, flowers, wheat and embryos.:

Bizarre ‘worm tornado’ in New Jersey has scientists baffled

https://www.livescience.com/squirming-worm-tornado-new-jersey.html

Sorry, not in the air. On the ground. Way to disappoint, New Jersey.

OUR BIG STORIES

Laughing Your Head Off Takes an Axe to Your Funny Bone

-Mark L. Groves

Many old sayings have older roots.  Like let the cat out of the bag.  From the 1700’s, when frauds would sell a pig in a bag, and when you got home- voila, it’s a cat. Or winning hands down, which came from 1800’s horseracing, when- if the rider were far enough ahead- they would win even with taking their hands off the reigns.

            Or, laughing your head off.  It’s roots come from the 1700’s, bathed in blood and insurrection.

            Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, was an 18th century Scottish clan chief and Jacobite sympathizer. Well, kind of sympathizer, since he was playing one side against the other to get the biggest gain for himself and, to a much lesser extent, his clan. The Jacobite uprising, in a very non-intellectual nutshell, was the son of an ousted king trying to regain his father’s English throne through an uprising involving France, Spain, Scotland, whisky, haggis, and more than a pinch of pipe dreams.  It didn’t work out. If you’ve watched Outlander, you know the character Jamie Fraser, and his experience at the disastrous, game-ending Battle of Cullodin.  Jamie’s fictitious, but Simon Fraser was real.

            Simon Fraser held the title of Lord of Lovat, but he also held the less glorious monicker of  “The Old Fox.”  Simon worked with both the Jaboite rebellion, AND the British officials, playing one of the other while reaping land, money, and power for his sharing of information and purported allegiance.  During the 1715 Jacobite uprising,  he contacted both sides to see which might offer him the best advantage before throwing his clan’s allegiance one way or the other. In the end, he voted present and took neither side. A real Switzerland, this guy.

            Then during the 1745 Jacobite Uprising, he tried to play the fence game again, preting to back both sides. Simon stated his support to the Jacobites and sent his son and a force of his Frasers to help the Jacobite cause. Oh, so he’s a Jacobite, right?  Not so fast.  The Old Fox then wrote to the British government claiming saying he was all for the Queen and things, and that his boy had done all that against his wishes.  Yup, took junior to school by throwing him under the bus.

            The problem:  the Battle of Culloden.   It was a Scottish ass-whoopin’ of terrible, awful proportion.  After it, The Old Fox tried to run, was captured hiding inside a hollow tree on an island in Loch Morar, near Mallaig, pretty much on the easter coast in the middle of Scotland.

            Simon was transported to London and put on trial.  His barrister pleaded insanity, because who the hell willingly eats haggis?  It didn’t work.  The Old Fox was found guilty, and sentenced to beheading on April 9th, 1747.

            So here’s the crux of the story.  A whole bunch of people came to watch the beheading, because Netflix hadn’t been invented yet.  While standing on a scaffolding to get a good view of the gore, the scaffolding collapsed, and several people died.

            When led up for his wee bit off the top, The Old Fox is said to have found the bystander tragedy to be quite amusing indeed, and was executed- wearing a smile.

            And there you have, “laughing your head off”.

            EPILOGUE:   Simon Fraser’sheadless body is said to lie in a lead casket at Wardlaw Mausoleum at Kirkhill, near Inverness. A body, minus the head is in the casket. Buuuut the queston was, is that The Old Fox?  Rumors have it that after he was beheaded, his body remained in England, while other hearsay has it resting in Wardlaw Mausoleum.  There are problems.  You won’t have facial recognition, for obvious reasons.  There are no living relatives- I mean, you backstab enough of your kids, you end up without any. 

            They just weren’t for sure.

            So on January 28th 2019, my birthday, coincidentally, they exhumed the body of The Old Fox from the Wardlaw Mausoleum, and discovered-   he’s a chick.  She’s a him.  It’s the headless body of a woman, around the age of 25, buried there, and not Simon Fraser.  So now there’s two mysteries for the price of one- where is he, and who is she?

            I’ll bet he’s still laughing.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-38930291

https://www.transceltic.com/blog/where-lies-body-of-chief-of-clan-fraser-old-fox-who-died-laughing-his-head

https://cullodenbattlefield.wordpress.com/2015/04/10/laughing-your-head-off/

https://www.scotsman.com/regions/inverness-highlands-and-islands/mystery-headless-woman-found-clan-chiefs-coffin-unravels-145629

https://www.scotsman.com/regions/inverness-highlands-and-islands/mystery-headless-woman-found-clan-chiefs-coffin-unravels-145629

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Fraser,_11th_Lord_Lovat

Mike the Headless Chicken – or A Chop Off the Ol’ Block

J.E. Petersen

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34198390?fbclid=IwAR2al6a47c2Mc_6fvNH9Nl2uiRCPqikyFQeVA_luXNu4dDh0oqZEuvNUtyo

https://www.miketheheadlesschicken.org/mike/page/history?fbclid=IwAR0iwhEeQSgZZvad9ghEOPsalDS9uK_AgKjwBl26K1fGn76YGC_S4y3T6pQ

A Real No-Body Kind of Life Form

Shelby Dollar

https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2013/07/16/decapitated-worms-regrow-heads-keep-old-memories/?fbclid=IwAR1d1g4qneAjg8GQ29MKFCskahGlMUgPvEnOHtawWJBpyRqBVc0iio82wXY

Podenstein’s Lab 005: Museum of Puketastic Potables, The Real Deal Behind Virginia’s Notorious “Bunny Man,” and Giving Birth to Bunny Bits in 1726

Episode 5 of Podenstein’s Lab takes you to Sweden’s Disgusting Food Museum for news on their barfy booze; goes behind the scenes for the hatchet/axe wielding, fuzzy suited, sorta’ true Bunny Man Legend; and goes back in time to find out why a woman in England was busy birthing bunny bits, among other animal chunks. Proving truth is grosser than fiction, it’s all the news you can use to freak out your friends, here in Podenstein’s Lab.

REAL HEADLINES

California duplex with mannequins in every room is listed for $650G: ‘To be sold as-is’

https://www.foxnews.com/real-estate/california-duplex-mannequins-every-room-650-sold-as-is

Five bedroom, three bath, a bunch of creepy mannequins, 650,000 dollars.

Breeder sells python with three smiley face emojis on it for $6,000

https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/03/09/emoji-ball-python-Justin-Kobylka/1091615317533/

Happy face on the snake, sad face on your gerbil

Doctor appears in court video call while performing surgery

https://www.click2houston.com/news/weird-news/2021/02/27/doctor-appears-in-court-video-call-while-performing-surgery/

Plastic surgeon doing operation while appearing via Zoom for a traffic violation trial. That condo ain’t gonna pay for itself!

MEMENTO MORI CAN BE FUN

https://www.artnews.com/art-in-america/aia-reviews/doomed-and-famous-adrian-dannatt-collection-miguel-abreu-1234586163/
It’s a BS article about some lame collection. Not a single picture of an actual dead person. And they dare to call it art.

THE MAIN STORIES

MARK L. GROVES – THE BUNNYMAN OF FAIRFAX COUNTY

  • In Fairfax County, Virginia, don’t go near the Clifton bridge near midnight on Halloween.  You could end up the murder victim of…The Bunnyman.
  • You see, in 1904, Clifton residents decided they didn’t want the insane asylum nearby anymore, so they had all the inhabitants bussed to Lorton Prison.  Problem is, one of the busses crashed.  Everyone on board was accounted for- except for one inmate.
  • In the next few months, rabbits started showing up half-eat, disemboweled, even strung up like they were being processed to be eaten.  Apparently, the asylum escapee was eating them.
  • Then, on Halloween night, a group of teens were hanging out at the Clifton bridge, a cement tunnel-slash overpass built for the train tracks, big enough for folks to walk under.
  • They saw a bright flash of light- and the next day, their bodies were found hanging from the bridge, gutted, victims of The Bunny Man.

Or not.

That’s the urban legend.  It has variants- including my favorite, where the escapee wears a bunny suit while committing hatchet/axe murders.  So if Adam Green directed Donnie Darko…or maybe “The Trouble with Harry”…this would be his guy.

In the mid 1990’s, Brian Conley, an archivist for the Fairfax County government, decided that after enough people had come asking about records regarding the murders- from a little kid, to the teenagers, to women, to whomever the latest greatest take on the story had victimized, he would find out what the facts were.  In 2002 he published his research paper, “The Bunny Man Unmasked:
The Real Life Origins of an Urban Legend,” for the Fairfax County Public Library.

In it he, exposes:   

  • There was never an insane asylum. 
  • Lorton Prison was built in 1910, six years after the origin story took place. 
  • In 1904, there were practically NO busses.  
  • And let’s be honest- if the kids saw a bright light flash right before they were all killed…who told the story about the bright light?  A Rosebud moment right there.

But…Conley did discover an interesting fact in police records, one which runs the chance of having started the deliciously ridiculous Bunny Man legacy.  Brian- whoever you are, I love you. Because you didn’t give up.

Conley through his readings- including a paper from a college student in the 1970’s about the bunnyman- he finds references to news articles about an attack. He looks them up.  There were two newspaper references. 

First one involved a couple parked in a driveway, woods surrounding it, and not THEIR driveway.  Young couple.  Huh, wonder what was on their mind?

Suddenly a figure comes running out of the woods, wearing a white suit with something on his head, yelling about getting off his property.  He then throws a HATCHET into the windshield’s passenger side.  Nobody hurt, though an article sights an interview they had with the original couple, neither particularly keen on talking about it, but relating that she had to comb glass out of her hair.

Second, another report not long after about a person- presumably male- in a bunny suit using an axe to hack at someone’s front porch columns.

Then POOF.  No more Bunny Man.  The person or persons in the suit were never caught. This was loooooong before gopro’s and home surveillance cameras.  However, even with no Bunny Man, there were LOTS more Bunny Men.  The urban legend took off like…a rabbit.

I had never heard of The Bunny Man before stumbling across it while looking for Podenstein’s Lab stories. Shame on me, because there are at least three movies: Bunnyman, Bunnyman 2, and Bunnyman Vengeance, plus a rock musical, t-shirts, hoodies, and even beer- yes, a beer- from BadWolf Brewing Company in Manassas, Virginia.

Chopper, hacker, cannibal, murderer, asylum escapee, hoppy lager, this is one bad rabbit who can even be summoned on Halloween night if you say, together…

BUNNY MAN

BUNNY MAN

BUNNY MAN

https://www.insidenova.com/headlines/bunnyman-bridge-the-scary-truth-behind-an-infamous-urban-legend/article_a27c7000-dca4-11e8-ad84-af51d935cbcb.html

https://research.fairfaxcounty.gov/local-history/bunnyman

http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/news/2013/nov/10/legend-bunnyman/

https://untappd.com/b/badwolf-brewing-company-the-bunny-man/2333803

SHELBY STORY – MARY TOFT, MOTHER OF BUNNY CHUNKS

https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/library/files/special/exhibns/month/aug2009.html

https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2016/07/05/an-extraordinary-delivery-of-rabbits/

J.E. PETERSEN STORY – SWEDEN’S DISGUSTING FOOD MUSEUM EXHIBIT ON BARFTASTIC BOOZE

https://www.livescience.com/most-disgusting-alcohol.html?fbclid=IwAR3fjkBf66ZjJLQt4egAFE7sQD7R6EzLit4cXNaFH3GnlTfpsEG9maNy_iI

https://www.winespectator.com/articles/squirrel-beer-fish-whiskey-poop-wine-disgusting-food-museum-opens-disgusting-drinks-exhibition-unfiltered

Podenstein’s Lab 004: Alone Again…Unnaturally, Worm Balls Make for Good Future Tech, and Weird Places for Crawl Spaces

https://anchor.fm/podensteinslab/embed/episodes/Podensteins-Lab-004-Alone-Again–Unnaturally–Worm-Balls-Make-for-Good-Future-Tech–and-Weird-Places-for-Crawl-Spaces-erq4ah

In Episode 4 of the Podenstein’s Lab newscast, Mark L. Groves talks about quarantining alone- and how you may NOT be alone; Shelby Dollar takes us on a nature tour of gross, wriggling worm balls, and how high tech is working on mimicking them; and J.E. wraps up our deep dives with true stories of hidden rooms- and weird treasures- discovered recently inside people’s homes.  Plus the usual Real Headlines that are Real Weird. It’s all the news you can use to freak out your friends, in Podenstein’s Lab!

REAL HEADLINES THAT ARE REAL WEIRD

Archeologists can’t stop giggling at x-rated fossil found under A14

https://en.mogaznews.com/collection/1688430/Archeolgists-cant-stop-giggling-at-x-rated-fossil-found-under-A14.html

Yes, it’s a stone boner.  A 2000 year old millstone, to be exact, but decorated like it’s a Roman hoohah.

Ohio bar cancels ‘going to prison’ party for woman convicted in gruesome crash

https://www.foxnews.com/us/ohio-bar-prison-party-crash-samantha-harvey-cancel

Yeaaaah, so the bar did a fundraiser for the victim’s families.

Solomons police investigate gruesome murder of alleged sorcerer

https://www.looppng.com/global-news/solomons-police-investigate-gruesome-murder-alleged-sorcerer-97572

The killer accused the victim of using sorcery to kill his child and poison his wife.

Bear bites woman’s bottom during bizarre outhouse encounter

She had a case of the grizzles.

Indonesian woman says gust of wind made her pregnant, police begins investigation

https://www.timesnownews.com/the-buzz/article/bizarre-indonesian-woman-says-gust-of-wind-made-her-pregnant-police-begins-investigation/721364

Zephyr? I barely know her!

PODENSTEIN’S LAB 004 – DEEP DIVES

QUARANTINING? YOU’RE NOT ALONE…EVEN IF YOU ARE.

–Mark L. Groves

So this month I celebrate a full year of not working at work.  I’ve been working from home, in my wonderful little basement office-cum-studio, for 12 months now.  I love it. My wife works two floors up, in the kids rooms she converted to her offices after we became empty nesters.

It’s great.  Just us, connecting to others via the world wide web.  With folks in essence if not in person.

According to the New York Post, some folks, working from home, or perhaps quarantined, have discovered they’re connecting to others’ essences. Not in person.  And not with the internet. 

Welcome to being in ‘ronaprison with a ghost.

The Post interviewed a man in Florida, so you know it’s super-weird because it starts with “a man in Florida.”  According to the article, the man said the more he’s stuck in the house, the more he has a “feeling.” He might, because he lives in the same house where in 1933 Victor Licata murder his parents, his 3 other brothers and sisters, and even the family dog. 

            Kurt Schleicher, the dude is making peace with the spirits- all of whom were murdered in their sleep.  Even his dog sits in the bedroom where the mom was murdered, barking at the wall.  The bathroom has cold spots. And Kurt just keeps on working.

The New York Times did an article on an L.A. couple who started off great- baking cookies, hanging out, going on walks.  But one night, the front door doorknob shakes so hard, they heard it across the apartment.  Nope- nobody there.  Then it was a window frame.  And now, they hear footsteps where no human is walking. 

In Indonesia, the popo started punishing quarantine rebels, folks who broke the quarantine rules, by locking them in empty homes that local populace thinks is haunted.

Fox 56 out of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, interviewed a paranormal group there, whose investigations are on the rise. Like 30 to 40 percent up. 

Slate.com even has an advice column, where a writer talks about a “friend” who believes she’s having sex with a ghost in quarantine. 

Story after story, across the interwebs.

So what’s the dealio?  Well, folks involved in the articles talked about a few of the things that might be behind the sudden increase in the recently deceased.  First off- we notice more things now, because we’re around the house so much more. You haven’t been around the house so long that you hear every creak, or notice when a door doesn’t fit, etc. 

Then there’s the environment outside the house. All that negative tension, leaking into our fuller world view, because of the stress, anxiety, anger, and grief. Is it that we put those qualities onto a window rattling…or do those qualities actually manifest, through their energies, into an exterior entity?

And strangely enough, maybe the passed-on relatives of ours are worried about us, and trying to contact us.

Most fun of all, perhaps, is that maybe the ghosts are manifesting because they’re sick of us being around all damn day and night, and want us to get the hell out.

Now you’re wondering if YOU’RE socially distanced with the socially deceased. Mashable.com to the rescue, with 4 occurrences you should watch for to see if you’re haunted.

First- feel for cold spots. Use a digital thermometer.  Because that could be where the ghost manifests itself.

Second- electronics, cell phones, recorders, ghosts are like my mom.  They hate’m.  Gadgets suck according to ghosts, so if your electrizzle shizzle keeps screwing up, you might have ghosts.

Third- watch your pets.  If they’re doing freaky things- staring at the wall for no reason, barking for no reason, avoiding certain places in your house for no reason, ooooh, it’s for a reason.
            Fourth- you have a sudden feeling of dread.  I’m not talking the usual, oh gawd, what are the politicians gonna do now kind of usual dread. I’m talking sudden, wtf, crap is going to go wrong for I-don’t-know-why bad.

But, don’t worry if you’re batting a thousand on the ghostometer. According to a syfy.com article, Travel Channel’s “Kindred Spirits” show host Adam Berry says “I would encourage people that if they hear something in their house, don’t be afraid. Go look. A ghost is not going to kill you.”

Feel better? Sure you do.  Oh, but he adds this about how a ghost won’t kill you.

“A person will, though. If it’s a person, be careful.”

Thanks, Adam.  I’ll just pay the light bill for keeping them on all night.

https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/hauntings-reported-in-quarantine-what-does-that-mean

https://fox56.com/news/local/quarantined-with-a-ghost-paranormal-activity-groups-get-more-calls-during-pandemic

https://nypost.com/2020/05/15/haunted-home-residents-see-rise-in-spooky-happenings-amid-quarantine/

https://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/An-Austin-man-has-been-quarantining-from-COVID-15264175.php

https://slate.com/human-interest/2020/07/sex-ghost-quarantine-advice.html

https://www.tampabay.com/news/health/2020/04/30/quarantined-with-tampa-bays-ghosts-some-wonder-if-they-are-stuck-in-haunted-houses/

https://www.fox5ny.com/news/people-stuck-in-haunted-homes-during-quarantine-report-spooky-happenings

https://sea.mashable.com/culture/12982/is-your-house-haunted-here-are-4-common-ghost-occurrences-that-prove-it

Worm Balls Make for Good Future Tech

–Shelby Dollar

https://www.wired.com/STORY/RESEARCHERS-ARE-STUDYING-THESE-WORM-BLOBS-TO-BUILD-ROBOTS/?fbclid=IwAR2hyEobxVBcaxtuTi9W-6xBn4awM1URuYRue4TEpOpeCIErM8L1aehzAQ0

Weird Places for Secret Crawl Spaces

–J.E. Petersen

http://www.creepy-world.com/2020/08/a-couple-found-suitcase-in-their.html?fbclid=IwAR0xpqoLalFQgnzKuqWsXr5LGLXm8Ttbpa_umdy54aAe9LLQ2iJMZFr3rCU

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/tiktok-secret-room-apartment-nyc-samantha-hartsoe-b1812622.html?fbclid=IwAR0sUGXK8ZLsiSs0XGenCbxOxLqoFhfY1DaAHZC3aNXedkH07fdP2VzNcH8

https://www.npr.org/2021/02/09/965944093/trove-of-antique-portraits-including-1-of-susan-b-anthony-found-in-attic?fbclid=IwAR327dxH5zfYODzBZXPsNibUr9_KmE_7ZSdLWtBUVlTdt8D7LrcrmSfSX3U

Episode 003: Killer Chess Moves, Lipid Gold From the Greased and Deceased, and 1983’s Apocalypse (Almost) Now

It’s full news day in Episode 3 of Podenstein’s Lab.  Shelby Dollar discovers a chess player slayer on the Soviet side; Mark L. Groves chews the fat on two historical French facts of putrescent power; and J.E. Petersen makes you self-aware about world’s almost-real Judgement Day in 1983.  Plus the top three headlines from the past two weeks.  It’s news you can use to freak out your friends, in Podenstein’s Lab.

Real Headlines from the Interwebosphere:

Oklahoma lawmaker proposes a bill that calls for creation of a Bigfoot hunting season

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/25/us/oklahoma-lawmaker-bigfoot-hunting-season-bill-trnd/index.html

Rep. Justin Humphrey suggested that creating a hunting season for the creature could help draw in tourists.  *** Perhaps the head of Jimmy Johns?  He’s killed about every other animal imaginable, and at least this would get him one step away from hunting the forbidden furry- us.

Man Turns Uncle’s Skeleton Into A Fully Functioning Electric Guitar

https://www.indiatimes.com/trending/wtf/prince-midnight-turns-uncles-skeleton-into-a-guitar-534045.html

Norwegian Black Metal musician ‘Prince Midnight’ has turned the skeleton of his dead uncle into a guitar.  He plays it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGQ3NqiNudE&feature=emb_logo.

Jars Of Human Tongues Found Under Home In Florida

https://www.ladbible.com/news/weird-jars-of-human-tongues-found-under-home-in-florida-20200219

Really, a trigger warning on the article’s web page says it all:  “*WARNING: POTENTIALLY GRAPHIC PICTURES OF REALLY OLD TONGUES*”

POWER TO THE PEOPLE…AND IN THEM

Mark Groves

 Big oil? Dinosour juice?  Fuggeddabouddit.  Welcome to donut power. Lighting, cleaning, the power source is in that pinch-and-inch on all of us.  Lipid gold contains the potential for brightening the dark, and sanitizing the soiled.

As history has proven.

Back in 1996 I bought, from Half Price Books, a Time-Life series of books call the “Library of Curious and Unusual Facts.” Published originally in 1992, it’s quite the collection of interesting tidbits of historical and then-current-ish brain fodder.  One of my favorite stories came from the “Shadows of Death” volume, page 118.  The article was titled “Burning Passion.”   It involves an unusual will, left by a distraught dead guy, to be read by his beloved under candle light.

I haven’t brought this up before on Podenstein’s Lab, because I couldn’t substantiate the story.  But thank you interwebs, I found the original book this Time-Life article alludes to but doesn’t name.

In 1840, British physician, psychiatrist, and defender of the criminally insane, Forbes Winslow, published a book titled “The Anatomy of Suicide.”  Back then, suicide was considered a legal matter, as it was against the law, instead of being addressed as a mental illness.  Forbes Winslow worked to change this attitude.  In his book- which is still available via instant publishing- he describes in none-too-much detail many instances and recordings of suicides.  Flip to page 298, and you’ll find this morsel of sadness…and tasty gothic revenge.  I’ve added a bit of clarification here and there because, to be honest, it wasn’t written particularly well.  It goes as thus.

 “The case of a man is recorded in a French paper who burnt with one of the strongest passions of which we ever heard an account. His mistress, having proved unfaithful to him, motivated him to call up his servant.  He informed the servant that it was his intention to kill himself, and requested that, after his death, the servant would make a candle of his fat, and carry it lighted to his mistress. He then wrote a letter, in which he told her that as he had long burnt for her, she might now see that his flames were real; for the candle by which she would read the note was composed of part of his miserable body. After this he committed suicide.”

There is no record as to whether the servant carried out his dead master’s wishes.  But since it was in a French newspaper, and ergo written by the French, you can bet the saddest imaginable ending was the one that happened.

Candles have long been made of fats, from both plants and animals.  Whale fat, bear fat, lard, your geography held influence over your wick’s ways.  This is also the case with soap. 

Supposedly “soap” first came into being around 2800 BC, with the Babylonians.  It wasn’t used so much for cleaning people, but more for cleaning stuff.  It was goopy glom of rendered animal fat mixed with wood ash and water.  Didn’t smell great, but worked pretty good on getting cotton and wool clean before being spun into cloth. 

What were people doing to freshen up?  Communal water trough baths, or oil baths, while implementing a “strigil”, a long curved flat blade made of reed or metal, not sharp, which they used to scrape the dirt off.  Basically, Robocop’s loufa.

It took until middle ages, when soap makers realized they could add a little of the good stank to it and people would buy the stuff for themselves, that using soap to clean people began.  Of course, the first of it was in Syria, but the crusaders brought it back and copied it, and with all trademarks thus washed away, bath soap in Europe was born.

So what, you might say? Let’s fast forward to our friends in France once again, land of romance and crappy, sad movie endings to damn near every relationship.  French folk liked to bury their dead in a Christian graveyard. From the 12th to the 18th centuries, the poor folk who couldn’t shell out the franks for a real plot, COULD, for a WalMart Dollar, get their dearly departed tossed into a communal grave in The Cemetery of the Innocents.  Nice name for stack’em deep and sell’em cheap. I’m not talking a tiny trench, either.  According to ScientificAmerican.com, these sons-a-ditches held around 1500 bodies each. 

This high-rise hole became a problem.  The stench was awful, and the air became so foul it could change the color of fabric and even rot meat- right in front of you. As big an issue, was that the bodies weren’t decomposing like the cemetery owners expected.  There were so many bodies, piled so deep, that oxygen wasn’t getting to all of them.  Without that to fully break the bodies down, they weren’t decomposing, they were re-composing.  Into mounds of fat.  There’s a name for it, too: adipocere, also known as corpse wax.  It’s the anaerobic bacterial hydrolysis of fat in tissue, or so Wikipedia tells me.  Or, if you want to argue semantics, call it margaric acid. Regardless, all the stuff- bones, organs, gristle, the whole stenchilada became this putrid waxy fromage. Le stink.

In 1775, King Louis the 16th decreed that all cemeteries in Paris must be closed.  It took 5 years, and torqued off the church because that was some mad bank, baby, but they exhumed the bodies and moved all those bones to where they couldn’t be seen.   Where did they go? Leftover underground mines.  Which became the super-famous catacombs of Paris.

But back to the fat, jack. What do you do with a mass grave chock full of stinky people blubber?  Before you think it simple to remove, these mass graves, were up to 60 feet deep.  Six stories tall of disgusting rotted people butter.

Well, if you’re industrious, you put on your capitalist hat, and look on the bright side.  You get out your shovel and you make candles, and soap.  According to the October 30th, 1852 edition of American Scientific, I quote:

“This human fat was employed to the extent of many tons by the soap boilers and tallow chandlers of Paris for the manufacture of soap and candles. The French are a people of fine sentiment, and they certainly carried the quality to a charming point of reflection in receiving light from candles made out of the bodies of their fathers.”

So chow down on your crullers and cream, my friends, for in so doing you may end up lighting the way…quite literally.

 

SOURCES:

Library of Curious and Unusual Facts: Shadows of Death, Time-Life Books, 1992, “Burning Passion” article, page 118.

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/50907/50907-h/50907-h.htm

https://books.google.com/books?id=6Cc0AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA298&lpg=PA298&dq=french+mistress+candle+human+fat+suicide&source=bl&ots=d-RHUnVrA_&sig=ACfU3U3oktXMhtT9dVyQgaJ3JnSlpiweqA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwii8563zufuAhVWWs0KHTq2C2MQ6AEwAXoECAQQAg#v=onepage&q=french%20mistress%20candle%20human%20fat%20suicide&f=false

https://archive.naplesnews.com/community/strange-but-true-the-radio-you-heard-it-here-first-ep-894229554-331154581.html/

https://theconversation.com/the-dirty-history-of-soap-136434#:~:text=Ancient%20Mesopotamians%20were%20first%20to,goop%20that%20lifted%20away%20dirt

http://www.soaphistory.net/

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/media/inline/blog/Image/fatcandle.jpghttps://blogs.scientificamerican.com/media/inline/blog/Image/fatcandle.jpg

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/media/inline/blog/Image/fatcandle.jpg

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/human-fat-candles-and-soap/

SCREAM’S GAMBIT

Shelby Dollar

Sources:

https://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/moscow-alexander-pichushkin-couldn-live-killing-article-1.2522571?fbclid=IwAR1EZyldNP-N2DNsKOqZqiJUATRWf9keWhyolxTFJSIGY5iAhPtRtz1bFew

 It’s the End of The World- and We Didn’t Know it

J.E. Petersen

Sources:

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/the-war-game-that-could-have-ended-the-world?utm_source=pocket-newtab&fbclid=IwAR0cYLJ-NC8XyAAME2xu1ZVFcG3AWcC-jrOP66PX4eW3kgvETj0zt5Fwwqc

https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/able-archer-83-the-war-game-almost-became-real?fbclid=IwAR3x46ra9DuaioErWQkkh43CcEAU7mFyZ_hmqAnFkOTXy4eSVz8Kock5i48

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/02/able-archer-nuclear-war-reagan.html?fbclid=IwAR1edSjMK6UBudG40t_I62IKHYgk7cQ6ay4jGuCBtCJKmSeTZFXzQzWDJ5E

Episode 002: A Bloodthirsty Banana on the Dating Game, Opening Email from Your Spinach, and Celebrating a Century Since They Disappeared.

In Episode 2 of Podenstein’s Lab, your intrepid, insipid journaleasts  bring you stories about how A 70’s Babe Dodged a Date with Death on the Dating Game; Bomb Sniffing Spinach Sending Email: and the 100th Anniversary of Finding the Cat- But Where’s the Crew? J.E., Shelby, and Mark dig these up from the digital trough, along with real headlines that are real weird. Need talk fodder to make a conversation uncomfortable? Find the words to suit your weird here, in Podenstein’s Lab.

Real Headlines from the Interwebosphere:

Name a cockroach after your ex and watch it get eaten for Valentine’s Day

https://www.4029tv.com/article/name-a-cockroach-after-your-ex-and-watch-it-get-eaten-on-valentines-day/35375546

Mentally deranged son kills mother, roasts chicken on her pyre in Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum

Student Tries To Get In Touch With His Professor Online, Only To Learn That He’s Been Dead Two Years

And now…THE NEWS!!!

70’s Babe Dodges Date with Death on the Dating Game

-J. E. Petersen

Bomb Sniffing Spinach Can Send You Email

-Shelby Dollar

https://www.euronews.com/living/2021/02/01/scientists-have-taught-spinach-to-send-emails-and-it-could-warn-us-about-climate-change

https://www.theguardian.com/food/2021/feb/03/spams-new-frontier-now-even-spinach-can-send-emails

100th Anniversary of Finding the Cat- But Where’s the Crew?

-Mark L. Groves

Sure, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the first sports radio broadcast (the Ray- Dundee boxing match).  Aaand Chanel Number 5 was first released 100 years ago.  Even the first Lowe’s opened in 1921 in North Carolina.

A more macabre 100 year anniversary passed quietly on January 31st, 2021.  This marked a century since a weary, emaciated polydactic cat was found to be the only crew left on the mystery-shrouded decks of the Carroll A. Deering.

The setting:  North Carolina’s Outer Banks, off of Cape Hatteras.  This area of ocean is nicknamed the Graveyard of the Atlantic.  It’s exposed to the worst of oceanic storms- hurricanes, typhoons, nor’ easters, all the ship killers. Heavy seas and vicious winds drive ships ashore to be pounded to pieces by the surf.

Added to that, the warm waters from the Gulf come north and meet the frigid waters from the Labrador Current, which creates unpredictable currents of surprising power, and sometimes fog of surprising- and deadly- density.

But wait. North Carolina has what are called the “barrier islands”, 30 miles out from the mainland and hard to navigate. Let’s add to that Diamond Shoals, a ceaselessly-shifting maize of underwater sandbars extending eight miles out, but not very deep, from Cape Hatteras.

They all lie right in the coastal trade route.  Depending on where you seek your info, over 5000 ships had gone to Davey Jones in-sink-erator here, since records were kept starting in the early 1500’s.  Two well-known notables that sank in the vicinity- Blackbeard’s flagship “Queen Anne’s Revenge,” and the Civil War ironclad “Monitor.”   Not all wrecks came from natural-ish disaster.  Many came from u-boats and submarines during both world wars.

In other words, this is the perfect place for a ghost ship mystery.  100 years ago, on January 31st, 1921, the Carroll A. Deering was sighted stranded out on the Diamond Shoals.  Due to bad weather, it took about four days before boats could reach the ship.  Of the ten person and one animal crew, only the cat seems to have survived. Of the rest…nothing was found. Ever.

The ship had left Norfolk, Virginia, headed for Rio de Janeiro on August 22nd, 1920. The captain fell ill a few days later, and was replaced.  The ship delivered its cargo of coal, and set sail to return in December.

On January 29th, 1921, a lightship keeper aboard the Cape Lookout Lightship in North Carolina reported seeing the Carroll A. Deering. The Deering hailed the lightship, and a crewperson- no one knows who- reported that they’d lost their anchors. Captain Jacobson of the lightship tried to report it, but his radio wasn’t working.  He later testified that the Deering’s crew was suspiciously “milling around” on the fore deck of the schooner.

Two days later, the ship was spotted as having run aground.  Its sails were set…but the life boats were missing.  February 4th rescuers reached the ship- and it was abandoned.

Missing along with the crew were all the personal belongings, some key navigational equipment, papers and the anchors. The FBI got involved, but no trace of the crew or the ship logs have ever been recovered.

What happened?  Rumors and theories are rampant.

In one article I found, it describes the crew as suspect from the git-go.  The first mate was jailed in Barbados, drunk, and was heard to threaten the skipper.

The biggest part of the crew were Danish, which the new captain described as unruly in a letter he had written to his home.

The boatswain – the officer in charge of equipment and the crew- was a Finn, which at the time was a red flag, pardon the pun, as they were suspect of being Bolsheviks.

Perhaps the crew didn’t like the new captain and mutinied.  Maybe rum runners took the ship.  Or pirates raided it. Or the Bolshevik seized it for the glory of his newly communist master Russia.

The problem with any of those: why was a perfectly good ship abandoned between 1/29 and 1/31…and where the hell did they go?

Only the six-toed cat knew…and he didn’t say, because nobody likes a rat. ESPECIALLY a cat.

https://www.newsobserver.com/news/state/north-carolina/article248873154.html

https://www.nationalparks.org/connect/blog/legend-ghost-ship-carroll-deering

https://greensboro.com/news/state-and-regional/ghost-ship-with-a-cat-but-no-crew-wrecked-on-outer-banks-100-years-ago/article_464342aa-648d-11eb-87ae-aba7751c7869.html

https://www.starnewsonline.com/article/NC/20021006/Lifestyle/605093596/WM

https://greensboro.com/news/state-and-regional/ghost-ship-with-a-cat-but-no-crew-wrecked-on-outer-banks-100-years-ago/article_464342aa-648d-11eb-87ae-aba7751c7869.html

http://www.carolinaouterbanks.com/graveyardabout.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Hatteras

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graveyard_of_the_Atlantic

https://www.nps.gov/caha/learn/historyculture/shipwrecks.htm

Episode 001: Shaggy’s Sad Ending, Mo Mummies, and Repurposing Bambi’s Booty

HEADLINES

Woman ruled dead in 2017 fights to be declared alive

In France, if the butter and cheese don’t kill ya, being sued by an employee in court can- even if you’re still alive.

Why some people believe they can hear the dead, according to scientists

Where we find out clairaudient spiritualist mediums do it because they can. Thanks, science.

https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/why-people-believe-they-hear-dead-100747195.html

‘My son is not a ghost,’ parent files petition

About a boy who has autism, and the morons living around him spreading rumors that he’s a ghost.

http://m.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20210118000832

The Sad Case of Casey Kasem – Mark L. Groves

If you’re not familiar with the name Casey Kasem, you’re probably at least familiar with the name “Scooby Doo.”  Casey was the original voice of Shaggy.  Plus his voice makes a cameo appearance in the original “Ghostbusters” movie, among other movies and tv shows from back when dinosaurs roamed the mall.

Casey was also very famous as the host of the American Top 40 Countdown, which he created in 1970.  See kids, we had this thing called radio, and it’s where you could listen to music for free- without the internet or a monitor screen.  Weird, I know.  There were shows that would count down the most popular songs playing in that genre- “top 40” country, r&b, and more, based on sales, or requests, or some magical mystical b.s. backed by label money.  Who knows.  But weekly, geeks like me would listen to see if our favorite songs moved up or down the charts, hear new songs, get interesting tidbits about the artists, and have halfway-decent background noise on a weekend.

I used to play Casey’s show when I first started as a disco jockey in radio back in the mid 1980’s, along with Rick Dee’s Weekly Top 40.  Sidenote- they arrived on vinyl.  Yup- 33&1/3 lp’s.  When you got to the space between the tracks, you played local commercials and imaging, while you cued up the next track- usually on a Technics SL1200 mkII turntable.

Oh yeah, we’re talking about Casey Kasem.  Back to the countdown.

Casey had a great career, and a most memorable studio meltdown which lives on in youtube glory. Plus, those old countdown shows are showing up on classic hits/oldies stations now.  I heard one while driving across Illinois and Missouri a few years ago, and dude- that was jarring.  I thought for a hot minute they’d got a Casey Kasem impersonator and were re-creating the feel, until I heard him talk about his brand new song climbing the charts- here’s “Little Red Corvette” by Prince.  Yeah, ok, they’re replaying the old countdowns.  Cool.  I time-traveled across two states with that.

Casey passed away June 15th, 2014, at the age of 82.  The end of one huge suckage, and the start of another.  But first- the background.

He was married to a woman from 1970 to 1979 and had three kids.  He got divorced, and in 1980 Married Jean Thompson. Imagine this- a lonely guy, five foot four inches tall, who marries this huge blonde who looks like Anna Nicole Smith in drag.

Casey was married to her until his death. In 1989, they bought a home in L.A., and in 2013, they put it up for sale for 43 Million Dollars.  Why do I add this Wikipedia tidbit?  Oh, that’s coming.

Kerri Kasem- Casey’s daughter from his first marriage- announced he had Parkinson’s Disease. Later, she changed it to Lewy Body Dementia,which was still pretty much Parkinson’s.  This disease left him unable to speak during his last months.  Sucks for a radio guy to not be able to speak.

After his condition deteriorated more, Jean- his wife- stopped his kids from his first marriage from being able to see him.  She says it was too hard on him…you know…seeing his children whom he loved.

 October 1st of 2013, all three first-marriage kids protested in front of his home.  20-plus people showed up for this, standing outside silently, holding placards basically saying “why won’t you let us see him?”  Jean calls the cops, and multiple squad cars- plus helicopter show up.  And then the press, because of course.

The older kids go to court to try and get custody, but are denied. Jean says she’ll let them see their dad- for one hour a month, with a security guard present, which they’ll have to pay ½ of the costs.  Oh, and no phones, cameras, anything.

Casey gets hospitalized in December. The kids see him briefly, and the next thing you know- Jean has moved him. The doctors refused to approve it, so Jean- and this is like hours after the kids had been there, rolls him out.  No one knows where, and her craziness won’t say.

Kerri gets a PI involved.  A few days later, one of Jean’s attorneys says Casey is out of the country.  It’s a lie.  Jean’s taken him to that healing oasis, America’s rejuvenation HQ.  Las Vegas, of course.

Now, this guy has a feeding tube surgically implanted, he can’t speak, he’s disoriented, and his wifey mcwifeface has hired a couple of people to be “carefigvers” at the Vdar Hotel & Spa.  Her excuse?  A family vacation to, I quote, “escape the theatrical antics of Kerri Kasem.”

Casey doesn’t see a doc for a week. Jean chartes a jet to Seattle on May 13th.  Casey arrives malnourished, because Jean was pouring Ensure into his feeding tube.  Before they left Santa Monica, he had no wounds.  Now he had a massive bedsore on his coccyx, and a UTI.  

Do they go to a hospital?  Nopeski. Jean has them ambulanced to a private residence.  HOWEVER, one of the drivers alerted adult protective services, because bedsores can be a sign of neglect.  Kerri’s PI saw that pop up on a database, and they’re off to the legal races.

May 12th, an LA court grants Kerri temporary conservatorship over her father’s medical care.  It takes another 10 or so days, but the Washington judge upholds it too.

Kerri arrives at the house, but Jean has it surrounded by leather-wearing bikers who are ordered to not let her in.  Eventually Kerri does go in.  Jean got the judge to allow that no pictures were to be taken.  But a few hours after the visit, she herself holds a press conference and plays a tape of Casey morning.  She said he was upset about the judge’s ruling.

Maybe it was the saucer-sized bedsore, the UTI with no painkillers, or the fact he was starving.  Yeah, that could be it. Not that a judge let his beloved kids in.  But who knows, right?

June 1 Kerri arrives at the house with an ambulance and medical personnel.  Casey is taken to a hospital.  Jean comes out with a video camera, and throws a pound of chuck steak at Kerri while saying something about “King David,” and repeating “To the dogs! To the dogs!”  Seriously, that is some next-level Jim Morrison on a bad trip kind of shit

By the time Casey reaches the hospital, he’s at least alert.  For two weeks extended family gather around his bed.  There are conflicting reports about his last wishes.  Jean said that Casey would have wanted to be kept alive via artificial means.

The second week, attempts to hydrate Casey are causing his lungs to fill with fluid- basically, drowning him.  Soon, he’s removed from artificial feeding and hydrating, and is given morphine to make him comfortable.  On June 15th, surrounded by his 3 oldest kids and his brother, he passes away.

Whew.  End of story.

Well…not quite. 

To make a long, horrible story short, Jean is Casey’s wife and gets control of the body.  She has it removed from the mortuary in Washington state, and sent to…we don’t know at the time.  Nobody does.

Six months later, Kerri finds out where her dad is interred.  She read it in an online article. He’s buried.  In Oslo, Norway.  Yup, the Widow Ms. Crazypants had him shipped up to Montreal, Canada, and two months later to Norway. 

She said he loved how beautiful Norway was.  He’d never been there.  She said she was thinking of moving their to be closer to her Norwegian relatives. Her actual relatives said there’s not a drop of Norwegian blood in any of them.

Kerri tried to get his body returned, but her legal attempts failed.  See, Casey didn’t get a formal autopsy.  How do you hide abuse? Hide the body.

The older kids sued Jean, and she counter-sued them, and in 2019 they dropped their lawsuits.

Oh- and the house sold.  Jean got the money.

Casey believed in reincarnation.  I hope he comes back as Jean’s nearsighted, narcoleptic heart surgeon.  If she even has one to operate on.

https://www.cnn.com/2014/07/18/showbiz/casey-kasem-burial-delay/index.html#:~:text=The%20family%20battle%20that%20surrounded,know%20where%20his%20body%20is.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/gossip/la-et-mg-casey-kasem-buried-norway-kerri-kasem-20141222-story.html#:~:text=More%20than%20six%20months%20after,In%20Norway

https://www.gq.com/story/last-days-of-casey-kasem

https://apnews.com/article/1f2447197e67953aca006005e4f87322

Rebooting Bambi’s Booty – Shelby Dollar

https://www.vice.com/en/article/zm8473/taxidermists-are-seriously-turning-deer-butts-into-assquatches

http://www.dba-oracle.com/t_make_deer_butt_alien.htm

http://www.dba-oracle.com/t_make_deer_butt_alien.htm?fbclid=IwAR1QbjVsjdxg-pAXeA6N270iBlX08lSa56GgVHh9NHeK7uZI0eAblMHKXZM

Mo Mummies: New Finds To Unwrap in 2021, aka- Let’s Curse This Year Too, Yeah? – J. E. Peterson

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/17/archaeologists-uncover-new-treasure-trove-at-egypts-saqqara-necropolis

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/egypt-saqqara-coffins-intl-scli/index.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/ancient-mummies-unearthed-egypt-after-more-2-600-years-n1241954

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/saqqara-tomb-egypt-4000-year-old-queen-neit-id-remarkable-archaeology-discoveries/

And so, we begin again!

Podenstein’s Lab returns from a self-instituted exile. Starting in 2018, we loved talking about cool, weird things. We loved interviewing people who wrote about/photographed/experienced cool, weird things. From mass-murderers in 1820’s Edinburgh, to cannibal animals, to decorated corpses, to why sex-in-space is not so hot for lift off, we ran the gamut. What fun!

We also didn’t cite a number of our sources, and as podcasts became not just entertainment sources, but income sources, we decided it was better to reboot. And that, we have done!

Now Podenstein’s Lab is a news “magazine” of the world wide weird. Your hosts each have a different flavor they seek in the macabre, and share come together to kibbitz on the kray-kray.

So please- sit back and enjoy All the News You Can Use to Freak Out Your Friends.

—Mark