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black sheep

I was enjoying The History Blog’s article on President Wilson’s White House lawn sheep-keeping as part of the war effort. While the gesture was well-intended and fleece from the sheep raised did go on to win prizes, the article noted President Wilson’s ram was an ornery, tobacco-chomping terror who frequently butted White House visitors, and that ‘interestingly, he wasn’t the first vicious ram to roam the White House lawns. Thomas Jefferson brought a large flock with him from Monticello…The leader of the flock was a four-horned Shetland ram who took aim at anyone attempting to take a short cut through the property…The ram actually killed a child.

RECORD SCRATCH.

Thomas Jefferson’s ram straight up murdered a kid?! How did no one tell me about this until now? Can you imagine the furor and Weekly World News (R.I.P.) cover if this happened anywhere near today? The History Blog’s source cited an article from The Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia, and if  you want to learn all about President Jefferson’s obsession with the exciting world of sheep-breeding, I recommend reading it in full. That’s not sarcasm either – President Jefferson refused most gifts of wealth from other countries, the exception being sheep –  the availability of which depended on the American Colony’s relation with the rest of Europe at the time. Countries clashed, personal snubs were made (Jefferson’s prized ‘merino’ ram turned out to be nothing but a ‘common country sheep’ and high society pointed and laughed), smuggling abounded and fortunes were made and lost. Merino sheep’s soft and silky wool was the pride of Spain at the time, and they guarded the breed with extreme caution. If you were a king they liked, maybe you got a sheep.

If you can’t bother to be drawn into the heady swirl that was Colonial sheep-breeding, here’s the particularly juicy bit about Jefferson’s murder-ram:

“By the spring there were almost forty presidential sheep grazing on the square in front of the White House. If it had been the year 2000, there would also have been a flock of lawsuits. Several unsuspecting pedestrians tried to take a short cut across the square, met the Shetland ram, and were vanquished in their encounter. One William Keough wrote Jefferson that “in Passing through the President’s Square  was attacked and severely wounded and bruised by your excellency’s ram-of which [I] lay ill for five or six weeks.” Another of the ram’s unfortunate victims, as we learn from the diary of Jefferson’s friend Anna Maria Thornton, was “a fine little boy killed by the Ram that the president has.”

Unfortunately, the only available online record of Anna Maria Thornton’s diaries seems to be this excerpted collection from the Washington D.C. historical society, which though an informative historical read, includes no further details about the ‘fine little boy’ straight up murdered by a Presidential ram. Did children die with such frequency at the time that a deadly ram-butting on the White House lawn didn’t even warrant mention by the papers? Who was the little boy, and were any reparations made by Jefferson to his family?

What is known is the ram’s fate – returned to Jefferson’s farm, he was put down 4 years later after escaping his pen and murdering two Barbary rams and his own son.

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Thunderclap

Furaikigunhissy white cat

Rhonda

dub_droid-rhonda1bowie cat

Jellax

Jellaxfrom http://fluffyghost.com/
Avocado

Avogadora_in_her_human_formblue kitty

Prince Demand (yes, it’s actually Prince Diamond, but I’m going with the videogame variant, which is a badly dubbed French version of a Japanese-only release translated by fans into English for play on SNES emulators. There’s a lot of weirdness with language here. Rhonda’s actual name is Dumble, and while I can’t even think of how they got there, it doesn’t matter because Dumble is ALSO a great name for a cat.)

Prince Diamondkitty bling

Planet Nemesis (ok, that’s actually a level, not a villain, but it IS an excellent cat name. You could call him Nemmy for short!)

planet nemesisthey stalk by night

Crystal Tokyo (also a level name, and nearly a David Bowie instrumental song name.)

bowiecat

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davecat

 

 

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A number of friends have been asking me about ‘The King In Yellow‘, a series of short stories by author and H.P. Lovecraft pal Robert Chambers. I wouldn’t shut up about it when I read it several years ago, to their mild annoyance, but now that HBO show ‘True Detective’ has made mention of a Yellow King, suddenly they’re all TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU KNOW.

As I haven’t seen one second of the HBO show, I doubt anything I share would be informative, and still recommend reading the book. Do you like Lovecraft, but could do with toning down the purple prose, upping the human psychological factor, moving the action to New York City and adding in a different forbidden tome of mystery you must never read or you’ll DIE?! Then you will love ‘The King In Yellow!’  I’m not claiming any sort of high ground having read it sooner; heck, I only came across the book because it was the name of the last Dead Milkmen album. It’s a really great high gothic read, and I wouldn’t have come across it but for a bit of digging.

In that same spirit, a quick search on Project Gutenberg revealed Robert Chambers was as prolific as his other fiction writing chums, with 43 of his books available free. There’s the one tie I can make – a TV show with a name like ‘True Detective’ seems to directly reference the creator’s love of pulp genre writing. The sheer list of his titles is a joy in itself:

The Gay Rebellion

The  Crimson Tide: A Novel

The Tracer of Lost Persons

Police!!!

My friend asked ‘does it REALLY have three exclamation points?’ when I typed it out for them.
POLICE!!!
Yes.

In Search of the Unknown

Cardigan

Who Goes There!

The Slayer of Souls

The Danger Mark

A Young Man In a Hurry (wonder what that’s about)

Blue-Bird Weather

Quick Action

and the extremely exciting-sounding Adventures of a Modest Man.

Best of all, some out-of-context images from the above!

explosion of mammoths dancing with rage The Gay Rebellion

 

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633.D_600_400

 

Imagine my delight learning there was a 1928 silent film of Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Telltale Heart’. I’m guessing it’s German:

 

Picture 17

That room is so German Expressionistic the chairs are just abstract shards reflecting the character’s tortured psyche.

 

The film’s a breeze to watch at a mere 28 minute running length, though the cheap synth-keyboard soundtrack makes it feel a little longer. Its main charm is the use of animated text and overlay to convey the main character’s tortured mindset, along with what at the time must have been VERY fast edits.

 

You can watch the entire thing with burned-in Russian subtitles here; the site seems like it’s a haven for porn and viruses, but from brief perusal has a wide selection of anime, TV shows and vintage films.

Picture 18

 

Picture 22

Picture 16

 

kill-guy-

 

evil-eye-kill2

 

kill-zoom

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