murder

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Just because I was looking for these:skull sprinkles 1

 

…does NOT mean I want to bake a bunch of murder cupcakes or dead ladyfingers. I can sort of understand the coffin pan association (though I keep reading 6-Cavity as ‘depravity’, making it worse) – bones are usually put in coffins, sure. But little icing knives? What, am I hosting a murder-mystery dinner? Do I want to up my death threats to a Martha Stewart level?

skull sprinkles 2

Baked goods acknowledging mortality are one thing. Actively displaying wee edible weapons of death is a whooooole other level of weird. Says the person who searched for bone sprinkles in the first place.

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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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Considering a fondness for cheesy Italian giallo, pulpy horror movies and luchador-styled masked superheros, plus having sought out the original Fantomàs and Les Vampires series, how did I not come across Italian photo-comic ‘Killing’ (aka Satanik en Francès) sooner?

The premise is pretty straightforward- sadistic masked killer Killing goes around offing mostly undressed ladies in a variety of gruesome ways, while the detective chasing him remains just a step behind. (All photos courtesy of Dr. Odio’s Flickr stream, which has many more images.)

It lacks the random charm of ‘Les Vampires’ and class of ‘Fantòmas’, but seems fairly standard for Italian horror. Which is to say it’s wildly misogynistic and ultraviolent. Fun fact: Italian apparently has a female form of ‘bastard’, used quite liberally here!

Killing was also a big pop figure in Turkish movies, going under the name Kilink and starring in ‘Soy ve Öldür’, aka ‘Strip & Kill’, which hewed closely to the comic.

This was followed in typical Turkish fashion by movies that bore little resemblance to the original while infringing on multiple copyrights, like ‘Kilink Ucan Adama Karsi’, aka ‘Killing vs. The Flying Man’, who’s basically Turkish Superman.

A now-defunct site called ‘Go Sadistik’ created this trailer promising oodles of Sadistik comics and videos, but alas, no trace remains.

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I came across the L.A. Times historical homocides blog today searching for a sweater pattern, of all things. Admittedly the story that led me there does mention a sweater:

“I think I just killed a girl.”

Cary had killed her, all right. Strangled her with her sweater. Afterward, he drove around the Valley with her slumped under the dash until the left front wheel on his borrowed hotrod collapsed.

It’s typical of the stories on the site- tragic, salacious, long-forgotten. Jumping around through decades but ordered by day, the stories present a grim march of history- February 26, 1958 proclaims ‘Girl Murdered in Car on Stanford Campus’, followed by a February 29, 1908 account of a mining engineer forced to shoot a young widow after she threw a cup of acid at him.

I wasn’t surprised to come across a 1995 interview of James Ellroy here, the crime fiction writer whose obsession with the gritty underbelly of L.A. has made famous. They talk about his attempt to solve one of the many unsolved, random crimes listed on this page, the murder of his own mother in 1958.

Whether solved or unsolved, these crimes and murders still feel pointless, with motives so petty and obvious it’s almost insulting, and so much time having gone by it seems futile to care. The victims are frozen in grainy black and white photos, and guilty or not the accused have joined them. Life will be taken away eventually anyway, with a bold print headline all that remains.

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