On Friday, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson — astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium and host of the television show “Cosmos” — claimed that “100%” of “free” penguins (as opposed to penguins enslaved in zoos?) live in the Southern Hemisphere:
Some of us in the North are jealous that 100% of the world’s population of free Penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) September 19, 2014
Busted! Fact-check from Sean Davis of The Federalist:
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) September 20, 2014
Doesn’t everyone know about the majestic — and free — Galapagos penguin that lives north of the Equator? Sheesh.
As we wait for a correction from the esteemed Dr. Tyson, here are some hilarious tweets mocking this egregious (or is it egg-regious?) error to pass the time:
Science School with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Chapter 8: Pengins: The Most Dangerous Game http://t.co/lsBW1K76FT
— iLoveScienceSexually (@AceofSpadesHQ) September 20, 2014
@neiltyson I saw penguins in the Galapagos, right on the Equator and even slightly north of it. They seemed quite free to me!
— Mig Greengard (@chessninja) September 19, 2014
FACT: Penguins subsist on a steady diet of fish, insects, hoboes, runaways and Identity Theft.
— iLoveScienceSexually (@AceofSpadesHQ) September 20, 2014
okay i'm out of penguin facts. they're very interesting creatures, though. Nature's Little Khmer Rouge.
— iLoveScienceSexually (@AceofSpadesHQ) September 20, 2014
— Mike (@ICUStat) September 20, 2014
From The Avengers to Lost in Translation, Johansson’s done a lot of homework to ready her for her latest movie.
Since her feature film debut in 1994’s North at age 9, Scarlett Johansson has played dozens of dynamic female characters, from anhedonic teens to New Jersey princesses. Basically, the only commonality between the women she’s played is how different they are from one another.
“I look for roles I know I can do, but I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do them,” Johannson told BuzzFeed while promoting her latest film Lucy, out in theaters on July 25. “I want to have some sort of abstract of the path of a character … but I’d rather play a part that makes me uncomfortable than play a part I know I can play because I’ve played them before. There’s nothing for me to really contribute if I don’t have a certain level of nervous excitement.”
The 29-year-old actress admits she had that feeling about tackling the unique role of Lucy — an unremarkable American forced by the mob to mule an experimental drug out of Taipei who slowly gains access to her brain’s full potential after the baggie of drugs explodes in her stomach.
But this wasn’t completely untrodden ground for Johansson, since Lucy channels elements of five of the actress’ earlier roles.
1. The “Little Girl Lost” mindset from The Nanny Diaries
The Weinstein Company
In 2007’s The Nanny Diaries, Johansson plays Annie Braddock, a 21-year-old recent college graduate who has no idea what or who she wants to be. And when Lucy begins, the eponymous leading lady is more interested in clubbing than kicking ass.
“In the beginning, she’s this girl from the Midwest who is in a transient phase of her life,” Johansson said of Lucy. “She parties too much, she is an average student, and she’s probably there to do a little bit of modeling. She’s so unremarkable, but the person she is when we first meet her is almost insignificant because, within the first 30 minutes, she wakes up in a completely different state than she was in the beginning of the film — she’s totally transformed by just gaining 15% brain capacity. She’s just in the middle of living her life when this happens and I wanted it to feel like that’s why she was half falling apart — she had a night out and a life before this, and then there’s her life after this. You have to highlight the drastic change. It’s why I thought it was so important that she have chipped nail polish and bad hair that probably needed another dye job. She had a life before she got there and that’s how we showed that.”
2. Lost in Translation’s celebration of the Far East
Sofia Coppola’s acclaimed 2003 film Lost in Translation dedicates nearly two hours to reveling in everything Tokyo has to offer. While the circumstances are less celebratory in the Taipei-set Lucy, the imagery is no less dazzling.
“I love to travel and I made sure, as I always do when I go to a major city, that there was an Anthony Bourdain special on Taipei. Turns out that it’s a culinary mecca, much to my delight,” Johansson said. “It’s a city that comes alive at night. Tokyo was really quite a unique metropolis; this mix of fantasy and a very practical way of living. It’s just so different than any other place I’ve been. Japan and Taiwan both have their own culture of cinema, but film is a universal language, so it’s interesting to see how you can be in an entirely new place and environment, but kind of be talking the same language while making a movie. There’s an unspoken sense of collaboration on a film set, so it’s a nice way to travel.”
3. The gun-toting, ass-kicking attitude from the Black Widow
Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, has left piles of lesser men in her wake throughout three Marvel movies: 2010’s Iron Man 2, 2012’s The Avengers, and 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. As Lucy gains more and more access to her brain’s full capacity, she becomes more and more of a physical threat to the men who abducted her.
“I certainly never expected that I would be spending as much time holding a semi-automatic weapon as I have,” Johansson said with a laugh of her unlikely action hero status. “It’s not really part of my lifestyle in general, but, I do feel really fortunate — especially with the Black Widow — that I’ve been able to play one of the first female superheroines, someone who is more than just a decoration. She’s a really complex character that’s a product of her past; like Lucy, she’s sort of a reluctant superhero. I could have never anticipated 10 years ago that that would be acceptable or interesting in the genre. It was unprecedented mostly. But along with that comes a lot of hand-to-hand combat I never pictured myself doing.”
4. Under The Skin’s creepy inhuman humanity
Johansson delivered an impressively unhuman performance that managed to be far from one-note in 2014’s Under the Skin as a mysterious alien singularly devoted to eliminating the men of Scotland. With Lucy, as her character begins to utilize nearly 100 percent of her brain’s capacity, the things that once made her human (like emotions) begin to fall away.
“It really was a challenge because she’s in a constant state of transition,” Johansson said. “The challenge was keeping her from being monotonous or robot-like. I had, of course, all sorts of charts that helped me keep track of what her abilities were at a given time. But, by the end, it was so abstract that it was just about trying all different kinds of things. I made choices, like the last time she felt sympathy, or suddenly having a glimpse of irony. Trying to keep the audience invested in her as a person as she loses herself was difficult. I think the result of what you see is a lot of trying different stuff out. There was a method there, but it required a lot of tries. There is some consistency to the inconsistency.”
5. The intellectually superior quality of Her
In Spike Jonze’s 2013 Oscar-nominated Her, an unexpectedly moving tale that questions how we define love in the digital age, Johansson gave an award-worthy voice performance as Samantha, a computer operating system that falls in love with her operator, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix). But as Samantha becomes consumed by the enormity of the world’s information, she transcends the relationship with her owner. And Lucy follows a similar trajectory as she gains complete access to her brain’s potential.
“The idea behind Lucy is: The greater capacity of our brain that we’re using, the more we gain an appreciation and understanding for our own insignificance,” Johansson said. “This journey is more one of connectedness than a journey of our own self — and I think that is more profound. Not that we’re becoming our better self, we’re becoming our self selves, plural. Being connected to those around us, and life around us, and our purpose is one of survival. Lucy is about the evolution of a species while, in Her, the character isn’t human, so it’s a different level of intelligence. She’s connecting on a different level. In the film she says, ‘I’m not like you,’ and what Theodore comes to realize is there’s different levels of intelligence and awareness. I think perhaps the idea that a character is part of the ethos is similar to what Lucy eventually reaches, but this totally different level of awareness — she goes beyond humanity.”
These are the stories of people (mostly youths) who were kidnapped or seriously abused. In researching a couple of entries I added to this submission, I was horrified to find that this type of thing is quite common. For obvious reasons, this list is in no particular order.
Masha was living in a Russian orphanage when an American man was allowed to adopt her. He was divorced and no background check was done on him; also no follow-up visits were ever conducted by the New Jersey based adoption agency. He began sexually abusing her almost immediately, and shortly thereafter, using her in internet child pornography. So much so that the police began a task force to find this poor child who was all over the internet. The search was profiled on CNN, where police digitally removed the girl’s image leaving only her surroundings in the hopes someone would recognize her location. One picture people were able to identify was a bedspread from a hotel at a Disney theme park. After several years of this incomprehensible lifestyle, Masha was rescued by police.
Elizabeth Fritzel’s father Joseph kept her locked in a secret basement compound in Austria for 24 years with three of the seven children he fathered with her. Fritzel and his wife, Rosemarie, raised the other three living children Joseph Fritzel fathered with his eldest daughter. Upon finding out what was going on in the cellar, the Fritzel family as well as their community were apparently shocked by the news, completely unaware of Joseph Fritzel’s evil tendencies. Regarding the three children who lived their lives entirely in the cellar, Kerstin Fritzel, 19, and her brothers Stefan, 18, and Felix, five, have been alone in the cellar for so long that they developed their own type of communication via growls, grunts and animal like sounds. Elizabeth Fritzel had tried to teach them and let them have a normal life in the cellar.
David Pelzer is the author and subject of the gut-wrenching true story “A Child Called It.” He spent his childhood enduring unimaginable abuse at the hands of his mother, while his father and siblings simply watched. David’s mother was apparently relatively loving and caring to his siblings, but had a deep, unfathomable hatred for David that lead her to put him through increasingly creative and shocking punishments. He was eventually rescued by concerned school officials.
Genie was a girl born in California in 1957 who spent nearly all of the first 13 years of her life locked in her room. Born to mentally unstable parents, at a very young age Genie was diagnosed as developmentally delayed and her father took that diagnosis and decided on his own treatment for Genie. Genie spent the next 12 years of her life locked in her bedroom. During the day, she was tied to a child’s potty chair in diapers; at night, she was bound in a sleeping bag and placed in an enclosed crib with a cover made of metal screening. Her father beat her every time she vocalized, and he barked and growled at her like a dog in order to keep her quiet. He also rarely allowed his wife and son to leave the house or even to speak, and he expressly forbade them to speak to Genie. By the age of 13, Genie was almost entirely mute, commanding a vocabulary of about 20 words and a few short phrases (nearly all negative), such as “stop it” and “no more”. Genie was discovered at the age of 13, when her mother ran away from her husband and took her daughter with her.
Steven Stayner was an American child who became famous after he was kidnapped as a seven-year-old and held captive by his abductor, to be reunited with his family seven years later. The kidnapper, Kenneth Parnell, sexually abused Steven, but also enrolled him in school and convinced Steven he had legal custody of him. It wasn’t until Parnell kidnapped another, younger boy that Steven escaped, taking the boy with him. A television movie was made about Steven Stayner’s ordeal called I Know My First Name is Steven. Ironically, Steven’s brother Cary Stayner felt neglected as his parents grieved over the loss of Steven and later went on the become the Yosemite serial killer.
Colleen Stan is a woman who was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by Cameron Hooker in Red Bluff, California in 1977. On May 19, 1977 Hooker kidnapped Colleen Stan a.k.a. “Carol Smith.” Cameron’s wife, Janice Hooker, assisted in the kidnapping. Stan was held in captivity for the next seven years. During her imprisonment, Colleen was tortured, sexually assaulted, and led to believe that she was being watched by a large organization called “The Company”. Hooker had her sign a “slavery contract” supposedly from “The Company”. He assigned her a new slave name, “K”, causing comparisons to the Story of O. She was also led to believe that members of her family would be harmed if she attempted to escape. She may have experienced Stockholm syndrome. Hooker kept Stan locked in wooden boxes that he had made. One of the boxes was located under the bed that he shared with his wife. Hooker was sentenced to consecutive terms for the sexual assaults, which totaled 60 years. He also received 1 to 25 years for the kidnapping, plus a 5 to 10 year sentence for using a knife in the process.
Natascha Kampusch is an Austrian woman who was abducted at the age of 10 on 2 March 1998, and remained in custody of her kidnapper, Wolfgang Priklopil, for more than eight years, until she escaped on 23 August 2006. During the eight years of her captivity, Kampusch was held in a small cellar underneath Priklopil’s garage. For the first six months of her captivity, Kampusch was not allowed to leave the chamber at any time, and for several years after her kidnapping she was not allowed to leave the tiny space at night. According to Kampusch’s official statement after her escape, she and Priklopil would get up early each morning to have breakfast together. Priklopil gave her books, so she educated herself, and according to a colleague of his, she appeared happy. The 18-year old Kampusch reappeared on 23 August 2006. She was cleaning and vacuuming her kidnapper’s BMW 850i in the garden. At 12:53pm, someone called Priklopil on his mobile phone, and he walked away to take the call because of the vacuuming noise. Kampusch left the vacuum cleaner running and ran to the police. Priklopil, having found that the police were after him, killed himself by jumping in front of a suburban train near the Wien Nord station in Vienna. He had apparently planned to commit suicide rather than be caught, having told Kampusch that “they would not catch him alive.”
Michael John Devlin is a convicted American child molester currently serving 74 life sentences. He is known for his confessed kidnapping of two boys, Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby. On January 12, 2007, Devlin was taken into custody and charged with the abduction four days earlier of 13-year-old William “Ben” Ownby, whom police found that day. Upon his discovery, law enforcement officials found another missing teenage boy, Shawn Hornbeck, who disappeared on October 6, 2002, at age 11 while riding his bike to a friend’s house in Richwoods, Missouri. The 2002 abductee lived with Devlin, masquerading as father and son. He was separated from his family for a total of four years and three months. Devlin was charged in federal court with four counts of producing child pornography and with two counts of transporting a minor across state lines to engage in sexual activity in both Arizona and Illinois. He was sentenced to 170 years (in addition to the sentences for kidnapping and rape) for making pornography of one of the boys while in captivity. Hornbeck is pictured above.
Fusako Sano is a Japanese woman who was kidnapped at age ten by Nobuyuki Sato (a 28-year-old mentally disturbed unemployed Japanese man), and held in captivity for nine years and two months from November 13, 1990 to January 28, 2000. In Japan, the case is also known as the Niigata girl confinement incident. The house in which he kept her for the entire time is only 200 meters from a koban (police box), and 55 kilometers from the location where she was kidnapped. While Sano was initially scared, she eventually just gave up and accepted her fate. Allegedly, the kidnapper kept her tied up for several months, and used a stun gun for punishments if she did not videotape the horse racing on TV. Sano was also threatened with a knife and beaten. Upon her rescue Sano was found to be healthy, although extremely thin and weak due to lack of exercise: she could barely walk. She was also dehydrated. Due to the lack of exposure to sunlight, she also had a very light skin tone and suffered from jaundice. While her body was that of a 19 year old woman, mentally she acted like a child.
Jamelsek is an American serial rapist-kidnapper who, from 1988 to his apprehension in 2003, kidnapped a series of women and held them captive in a concrete bunker beneath the yard of his home in DeWitt, a suburb of Syracuse, New York. His story was the basis of the character Jamie Gumm in Silence of the Lambs. Jamelsek raped each of his victims and inflicted cigarette burns on them. After the discovery of the dungeon, police also found several video recorded entries with at least one woman on the tape. In the tapes, the viewer can see Jamelske dancing, singing, and also exercising with the woman. He prefaced each rape with a Bible study, in which after a review of a certain passage and discussion he would then begin to rape the victim.
This article is licensed under the GFDL because it contains quotations from Wikipedia.
While the Old West wasn’t as wild as Hollywood would have us believe, the frontier really was full of crazy characters. They just didn’t have their own publicity agents like some westerners did. But today, we’re righting past wrongs and uncovering some the less-known craziest characters to ever ride off into the sunset.
Big, bearded, and full of hot air, Jim Beckwourth was the quintessential mountain man. Sporting braids, earrings, and gold chains, this fur trapper loved to spin a good yarn and is best remembered for his dubious autobiography, The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth. This pulpy piece of supposed nonfiction portrayed Beckwourth as a hero who saved countless lives from imminent death, fought off savage bands of Indians, and was eventually made chief of the Crow people.
The truth was nearly just as crazy. Born to a white plantation owner and a black slave, Beckwourth was freed around 1810 and spent his early days traveling with a fur-trading expedition, hunting and trapping in the Rocky Mountains. Beckwourth abandoned civilization and moved in with a Crow tribe, impressing them with his strength and size. He married twice and had several kids. But after six years, Beckwourth packed his saddle bags and took off, leaving his family behind.
Beckwourth traveled across America, serving as scout in Missouri and fighting Seminoles in Florida with future president Zachary Taylor. During the 1840s, he earned a few bucks here and there stealing horses, but Beckwourth made his real mark when he discovered a trail that helped travelers safely pass through the Sierra Mountains into California.
Afterward, he kept busy fighting in the Mexican-American War, guiding settlers to Colorado, and acting as a guide during the infamous Sand Creek Massacre. The mountain man finally died sometime in the late 1860s, though his death is somewhat of mystery. While some say he was killed during a hunting trip, others claim a vengeful wife poisoned him.
It was 1864, and young Robert McGee was having a terrible year. His family had packed their bags and started moseying west, only things didn’t work out as they’d hoped. McGee’s parents met their end during the journey, leaving the 13-year-old an orphan.
Still, this was the West, where boys were men, and men kept moving. Despite his loss, McGee joined up with a wagon train heading through western Kansas. That’s when he ran straight into a group of Brule Sioux. While we don’t want to spread the stereotype that all Native Americans took scalps, this bunch certainly did. Led by Chief Little Turtle, the gang wiped out every settler but two—an unknown boy and Robert McGee. And for some sick reason, the chief wanted to personally torture Robert.
After shooting the kid in the back with his rifle, Little Turtle put two arrows in McGee for good measure. Then the chief pulled out his knife and went to work on the back of McGee’s head, hacking off 400 square centimeters (64 sq in) of skin. As the chief walked off with his trophy, his cronies stabbed McGee with a collection of pointy knives and spears. McGee was conscious the entire time.
Miraculously, the young teen survived. A group of cavalrymen found McGee and the other child on the prairie and rushed them to a nearby fort. Though the nameless kid soon died, McGee lived until at least 1890, when he posed for a cameraman and told his awful tale to a reporter. Considering he had the top of his head shaved off, he didn’t look half bad.
Charley Parkhurst was a stagecoach driver. That meant spending days battling bandits and traveling through thunderstorms while hauling up to 18 people in a rickety wooden box.
Despite missing one eye, Charley knew how to handle the reins. It’s said that the driver once crossed a raging river right before the bridge collapsed, stopped a runaway coach while being dragged through the brush, and even shot an outlaw who was holding up the coach. But a bad case of rheumatism eventually set in, forcing Charley to a life of ranching and lumbering. Pankhurst’s last days were spent alone in a cabin before dying of cancer in 1879. Saddened, friends came to prepare the body for the funeral, and things took an odd turn.
As the doctor started to undress Charley’s body, he discovered that one of the best stagecoach drivers in California was secretly a woman. And since documents show that Charley registered for the 1868 election, One-Eyed Charley might have been the first woman to vote in California.
People imagine the Old West was a free-for-all when it came to guns, but towns like Abilene, Kansas had extremely strict rules regarding firearms. And the man who enforced these laws was Marshal Tom Smith. Legend says he was involved in the accidental death of a teen and turned in his badge and headed west. During his travels, Smith cleaned up towns like Kit Carson, Colorado and Bear River City, Wyoming, but he really came to fame when he showed up in Abilene.
The town was full of rowdy Texas cowboys who enjoyed games like “Harass the Citizen” and “Burn Down the Jail.” Wanting to curb these cattle-punching criminals, Abilene officials hired Smith and let him loose on the cowpokes.
Astride his horse Silverheels, Smith enforced the town’s most unpopular law: No guns inside city limits. Quite a few people were upset with this regulation, and on two separate occasions, burly cowboys challenged Marshal Smith to take their pistols. Smith was only too happy to oblige. When pistol-packing thugs got tough, Smith just knocked them out cold.
Despite his pugilistic prowess, Smith couldn’t box his way out of every situation. On November 2, 1870, he armed himself and went after wanted murderer Andrew McConnell. When he showed up at McConnell’s house, the suspect shot the marshal in the chest. As Smith fired back, another crook named Moses Miles rushed Smith and almost completely decapitated him with an axe.
The killers were caught and sent to prison. Smith was buried in the local cemetery, leaving the town without a lawman—until a man named Wild Bill Hickok rode into town.
In the 1800s, most people thought of poker as a man’s game, until they met Alice Tubbs.
Born in Sudbury, England as Alice Ivers, the woman moved to America with her family in 1865 and was sent to a boarding school for young ladies. She moved west and started cleaning out every cowboy dumb enough to deal a deck of cards. Some claim her dad taught her how to hold ‘em, while others say she learned by watching her gambler husband, Frank Dunning. Either way, she quickly became the queen of the card table, picking up the nickname “Poker Alice” for her incredible skills and winning an estimated $250,000 over her lifetime.
After her first husband died, she traveled the country, playing in the biggest towns in the west. She even ran a table in a saloon owned by Bob Ford—the man who killed Jesse James—and was there when someone gunned him down.
Throughout her career, Alice was known for wearing the best dresses money could buy, probably to keep her male competitors distracted. She was an expert at counting cards, regularly smoked cigars, and was known for her catchphrase, “Praise the Lord and place your bets, and I’ll take your money with no regrets!” Still, she was regarded as a proper lady who often quoted Scripture and never played cards on Sunday.
Alice married Warren Tubbs and retired to a life of childbearing and chicken farming. But after Warren died in 1910, Alice went back to the card tables. Despite her age, she hadn’t lost any of her poker prowess. In fact, after pawning her wedding ring to pay for Warren’s funeral, she soon won enough cash to get the ring back.
After marrying for a third time, Alice opened a casino near Fort Meade, South Dakota. And before her death in 1930, she was arrested for running a brothel, murdered a man for bad behavior, openly defied Prohibition laws, and earned a gubernatorial pardon at the age of 75.
5Orrin Porter Rockwell
They called him the “Destroying Angel” and said he murdered 100 men. His real name was Orrin Porter Rockwell, and while the body count was probably lower, the man definitely knew how to fill a few graves. Born in Massachusetts, Rockwell wound up in Missouri where he became one of the first Mormon converts and founder Joseph Smith’s personal bodyguard. Rockwell was what you might call a “prayer warrior,” and when Gov. Lilburn Boggs ordered all Mormons out of Missouri, Rockwell allegedly tried to show him the light—the one at the end of the tunnel.
Rockwell was jailed for his attempted “evangelism” but was released after a year behind bars. As soon as his boots stepped on free soil, he hightailed it to Nauvoo, Illinois, where things took a Biblical turn. Like a scene ripped out of the Old Testament, Joseph Smith gave Rockwell a special blessing, claiming no one could harm the gunman so long as he never cut his hair. Just like Samson, this Latter-day Saint disobeyed his boss—but only once, supposedly to fashion his fur into a wig for a woman who’d lost her hair.
While Rockwell had a soft side, he wasn’t afraid to kill in the name of the Lord. After Smith’s arrest and assassination in 1844, Rockwell took revenge on Frank Worrell, the militiaman who was supposed to guard the prophet. And when Brigham Young moved the church to Salt Lake City, Rockwell was appointed the town’s marshal.
In 1857, President James Buchannan tried to forcibly replace Young as Utah’s governor with a non-Mormon. Infuriated, American Moses ordered Rockwell to torment incoming troops. Rockwell killed two men who were trying to supply them. Strangely, it took 20 years for anyone to charge the gunman, but by then, it didn’t matter. The Destroying Angel died an old man in his bed.
At first glance, W.W. Pitman doesn’t seem that colorful or crazy. A short, quiet guy, this town marshal wasn’t the type that inspired songs or novels. But Pitman earned his place in gunfighter lore when he fired the craziest shot in Wild West history.
On the evening of September 15, 1917, suspected bandit Francisco Lopez got smashed and started shooting up the town. As marshal, it was Pitman’s job to confront the crook. When he found the intoxicated gunslinger on Main Street, Pitman walked up to the outlaw, told him he was under arrest, and asked him to come along peacefully. Drunk and angry, Lopez proclaimed he wasn’t “under anything” and went for his gun.
Pitman wasn’t a professional gunfighter. In the five years he’d served as marshal, he’d never shot to kill. Lopez, on the other hand, was quick as lighting. The outlaw shot two stray bullets before Pitman could fire even once.
But then Pitman did fire, and Lopez fired at the exact same moment. Lopez screamed and dropped his weapon. Against all odds, Pitman’s bullet had gone up the barrel of the outlaw’s gun, smashing into Lopez’s slug. There was even a bulge where the hot lead had collided.
It was the most implausible shot in the Old West, and it earned Pitman a free vacation. In 1932, the marshal entered his story in a Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” contest and won an all-expenses-paid trip to Cuba. The fabled gun itself is on display at the Ripley’s Odditorium in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Every outlaw’s worst nightmare was standing in Isaac Parker’s “Court of the Damned.” Known far and wide as “The Hanging Judge,” Parker presided over the Western District of Arkansas, a region that included Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma). Assisting Parker were 200 US Marshals and George Maledon, “The Prince of the Hangmen.”
Maledon was a German immigrant who’d ended up in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He originally signed on as Deputy Marshal but was promoted to Parker’s official executioner. Paid $100 for every hanging, Maledon killed more than 60 men over 22 years, earning him the title of America’s most prolific executioner. He even shot five prisoners who were trying to escape. Two never made it to the gallows.
George and the Judge did get showy sometimes. Between 1873 and 1876, Maledon conducted public executions, drawing in spectators from across the country. The craziest hanging took place in 1875. Five thousand men, women, and children gathered to watch Maledon pull the lever on six men at the same time.
Later, in 1878, someone decided public executions were a bad idea and built a wall around the gallows. Still, Maledon kept dropping those trapdoors until 1894, only refusing to hang one man in his entire career. The two had been friends.
After he retired, Maledon went on a ghoulish road show, displaying ropes he’d used to hang his victims. When he finally retired from show business, he ended up in a soldier’s home in Tennessee till his death in 1911. While there, someone asked him if he ever worried the ghosts of those he’d killed would come back to haunt him. The Prince of the Hangmen responded, “No, I have never hanged a man who came back to have the job done over.”
Born a slave in the 1830s, “Stagecoach” Mary gained her freedom thanks to a certain top-hatted president. After befriending Mother Amadeus, a nun at the Ursuline Convent in Toledo, Ohio, Mary received the job of hauling freight for the mission. The story goes that during one trip, wolves frightened her horse, tipping her wagon over. Supposedly, Mary spent the night with a gun at the ready, keeping the wolves at bay.
Mary was made foreman at the convent, something that didn’t sit well with the white male workers. One knocked her to the ground and then had to duck for cover when Mary pulled out her pistol and started blasting. Though no one was hurt, the bishop ordered Mary to leave the mission.
After a failed adventure in the restaurant business, Mary applied to drive a mail coach. Since she could hitch a team faster than any other applicant, she got the job, making her the second woman and first African-American to work for the post office. She he was about 60 years old.
Mary faithfully delivered the mail for eight years before opening a laundry. Even in her seventies, she never lost her spark and once slugged a man who wouldn’t pay his cleaning bill. Mary even became a town hero and mascot of the local baseball team, and when her shop burned down in 1912, everyone pitched in to build her a new one.
People said Ned Christie was a shapeshifter, able to morph into an owl or hog when enemies approached. That would’ve been a good trick, since Ned Christie had a lot of enemies. For five years, this giant fought the best lawmen in the Indian Territory, and each time, he outwitted, outgunned, or outran his foes.
His life as a fugitive started in 1887 when Deputy US Marshal Dan Maples was gunned down. Authorities arrested a man who claimed Christie was the killer. Ned was a member of the Cherokee National Council and had been in town on tribal business when Maples was shot. When he learned he was a suspect, Christie refused to turn himself in.
He skipped town and hunkered down inside his home. With friends and relatives acting as sentries, the Cherokee held off lawman after lawman, including the legendary Bass Reeves, until 1889, when they set his cabin on fire.
Though the flames blinded his right eye, Christie escaped into the hills, where he built his Cherokee castle. It was a fort inside a heavy wooden wall with sand filling the gap. And for good measure, Christie built the thing on a cliff inside a natural rock barrier.
Christie defended his fortress for three years until Deputy Marshal Paden Tolbert showed up with 25 men, a load of explosives, and an Army cannon. Over the next few days, lawmen fired 38 cannonballs and 2,000 bullets before rushing the cabin with an improvised wooden shield and several sticks of dynamite. The fort exploded, forcing Christie to make a run for it. With a pistol in each hand, he charged the posse like Butch and Sundance but was cut down.
As Christie’s corpse made its way to Fort Smith, crowds gathered to get a look at the famous outlaw. Ned’s body was even propped up for photos at the Fort Smith courthouse. Then in the early 1900s, a witness came forward and testified that someone else had shot Dan Maples. Ned Christie was an innocent man.
2. They are stone cold SOBs. They literally NEVER blink.
Because they don’t have eyelids, duh. They physically cannot lose a staring contest.
3. Snakes are also like, really, really pretty.
From left, an emerald tree boa, an eyelash pit viper and an eastern coral snake. GORGEOUS, LADIES.
4. They actually shotgun all of their food.
Snakes can unhinge their lower jaw so they can eat prey up to five times as wide as their mouth.
5. Craziest of all is the egg-eating snake.
This little guy will swallow an egg whole and spit out the shell when it is done digesting the nutrients. Talk about a boot and rally!
6. Larger snakes like anacondas and pythons DGAF and will eat deer, wild pigs, caimans, and even jaguars.
These meals are so big that after chowing down, the snake does not have to hunt for several months or up to a year. Talk about a food coma!
8. Hold the phone. We have a longer snake on our hands.
The reticulated python is the longest snake in the world, cracking the 30 foot mark. THAT IS A LOT OF SNAKE.
Sort of like how human saliva glands secrete saliva, rattlesnakes have glands in their mouths that secrete toxins.
9. Then there is the king cobra, WHICH IS FRICKING HUGE.
Eighteen feet long to be exact, which makes it the longest venomous snake in the world. The king cobra can also raise a third of its body off the ground. Which means at up to six feet tall, the king cobra would make a perfect Victoria’s Secret model.
11. And you probably haven’t heard of the Inland Taipan, but you should. One bite from this bad boy has enough venom to kill 100 men.
12. And a bite from a black mamba has a 95 percent fatality rate.
The good news? You’ll be dead within 20 minutes. Oh, and don’t even think of running. Black mambas are the fastest snakes on earth and can move at speeds of just under 13 miles per hour. Which is probably way faster than you.
13. Spoiler Alert: Some snakes don’t even need to bite to hurt you.
14. And FYI, some snakes can FLY.
OK, so flying snakes can’t *actually* fly. But they can glide from tree to tree at distances over 300 feet AKA THE LENGTH OF A FOOTBALL FIELD. And they can change direction in the air.
15. Then there is the sidewinder, which has the illest dance moves.
The sidewinder moves sideways (duh) across the desert in order to conserve energy and minimize contact with the hot sand. Groovy!
16. Watch out for the gaboon viper, who is a sneaky little bugger.
They have a special camouflaged skin and wait for their prey to pass by … so they don’t even know what hit them before it is too late.
17. And these bad boys are large and in charge.
Gaboon vipers can weigh up to 20 pounds (!!!!!!) and have RETRACTABLE fangs that can be up to TWO INCHES LONG.
Warning: spoilers. Just over a week ago we had our first list of must-see episodes of the Twilight Zone – the excellent show celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year. I was so inspired that I began to download the whole set of episodes. I am, therefore, pleased that a second list of must-see episodes has arrived in my inbox. You can be assured that the twenty total episodes on both lists will be the first ones I watch.
This story has no supernatural element, but still works within the program’s ‘world’. Set in a gentleman’s club, it tells the tale of a young man who cannot stop talking. One of the elder members, Franchot Tone in a great performance, exhausted by the young man’s constant chatter, bets him a large sum of money to remain silent for a year. Look out for the scene where he visits the young man in his glass room and tries to force him to speak by suggesting his wife is being unfaithful to him. There’s a strong ending, too, when the young man reveals he has had his vocal cords cut out in order to win the bet.
This is basically a development on Season 1’s ‘The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street’. As the radio reports a sighting of a nuclear missile heading toward America, a man takes his family into the shelter he has built in his basement. Since his friends and neighbors have neglected to do so, they each fight for their right to enter the bunker, too. The growing fear and hysteria causes them to turn against each other, exposing the more animalistic impulses of man. This episode seems to move at a break-neck pace, building, like the earlier story, to a climax where they are a beat away from killing one another. The episode takes the mob rule theme to darker levels since it explores racism more explicitly. We witness at the end the devastation caused when it is reported that it was a false alarm, that the flying object was not a bomb after all. Having exposed the uglier sides to their natures, they return quietly to their homes, arguably more destroyed than they would have been if the missile had hit.
An extremely moody and atmospheric western ghost story with Lee Marvin, Strother Martin and Lee Van Cleef. It tells the tale of a gunslinger who is wagered he cannot visit the grave of the young man he shot. Of course, Marvin takes up the challenge, resulting in a creepy climatic scene at the grave, where you are left unsure whether or not there are such things as ghosts. The initial scene, set in a deserted saloon is intense and brooding.
A cross between a folk tale and a Universal gothic horror film from the 1940s, this is about a man on a walking holiday across Europe who seeks shelter in a hermitage run by a quasi-religious group led by John Carradine. A man is kept imprisoned in a cell who howls horribly into the night from his window. This, the hero is told, is actually the Devil himself, captured by the sect five years before to imprison Evil from the world. It’s quite a spooky episode, more for the idea than execution, and the mood is quite dark. The notion of keeping the Devil locked up in a small room to stop him causing harm to mankind is a powerful conceit. The ending is let down a little by a hokey depiction of Satan – all twirly mustache, satin cape and pointy horns!
This is the first of six episodes to be videotaped rather than filmed, giving it a different look and style – and it benefits. It is another claustrophobic tale, set in a large, ‘wood-panelled’ household run by a wealthy middle-aged couple who have only human-looking robots for company. It runs like a TV broadcast of a serious short play by Edward Albee or Eugene O’Neill, dealing as it does with isolation, childlessness and life substitutions. Watch out for the scene where the father orders his beloved robot servants to go down to the basement workshop and await his instructions. They know he means to dismantle them – so, coldly, and in unison, they rebel calmly, ineffectually, muttering together sadly why they should be allowed to remain ‘alive’. The performance of Inger Stevens [‘The Hitch-Hiker’, Season 1] as the daughter, realizing gradually that she, too, is a robot, is intense, played as if she is acting a role in Ibsen, particularly when she searches sadly through the family photograph album for non-existent pictures of herself as a child. One of the very best.
An excellent example of a story working even though it does not fully explain what has happened. Three pilots return to Earth after a short trip into space, and one by one they simply cease to exist. Where there was once a photograph in the paper of three triumphant pilots posing after their landing, there are soon two, as if the other was never there. Rod Taylor (‘The Birds’, ‘The Time Machine’) plays one of the men, and his disintegration throughout the episode as he begins to realize something ‘out there’ decided that neither of the three should have returned to Earth alive (or should ever have been alive) is very powerful. Just what ‘it’ was that engineered their fate is left to the viewer’s imagination, which, I believe, lends this episode an almost existential layer. It has been criticized for presenting an oblique and unanswered dilemma, but it is just that element that makes this story so intriguing and frightening.
A woman sits in a station very late at night waiting for her bus to arrive. When she asks the attendant if he has any news of the bus’ lateness, he berates her for asking the very same question just a few minutes before. She has no memory of this, and as the episode progresses she begins to wonder if there exists an unseen, alternative version of herself acting on her behalf. For me there is one moment that sends shivers down the spine, merely by the way it’s shot. As she begins to leave the station’s bathroom, she opens the door and catches a glimpse of herself sitting on the seat she vacated just moments ago. There is also a strange and subtly disturbing sequence when a young man, who has tried his best to help the seemingly disturbed heroine, theorizing that everyone has a double in a second dimension who wants to take the place of its original, chases his malevolent and mocking double down a street. It is executed without music and is quite odd.
This episode is pretty grim when you think about it. Helen Foley strikes up a friendship with a strange little girl who seems to know a lot about her childhood. When an older man calls on Helen, and eventually turns out to be the killer of her mother years before, here to kill Helen since she was the only witness, she realizes the child she has befriended out in the hall is in fact herself as she was at the time of the murder – a vision sent to stir up the memories of that terrible time, in order to save herself. Watch how the man subtly tries to find out how much Helen remembers, before deciding she knows enough to be killed.
Another episode I particularly like because it seems to encapsulate so many things I am drawn to: the American Civil War ghosts of Ambrose Bierce, the Southern Gothic of Tennessee Williams & Poe, and the reflective gloom of O’Neill. A woman waits outside her crumbling mansion pining for her husband to return from the war. As she sits waiting for him, a long parade of wounded soldiers pass silently by her gates. What she doesn’t know is that these men are the war’s dead, all making their slow way to the next world. In an especially creepy scene, a soldier on horseback stops for a moment to talk; his face is half-lit in shadow, his voice filled with the weight of death.
I think this is an extraordinary, controversial, and very dark episode – perhaps too dark for the series. It tells the tale of a five year old child, Billy (played by Billy Mumy, the boy-monster in that other amazing Twilight Zone tale, ‘It’s A Good Life’) whose emotional bond with his grandmother is so close that he continues to speak with her even after she has died via a toy telephone she gave him as a birthday present (‘Is it cold where you are, Grandma?’). The parents grow increasingly concerned over his secretive conversations, but more so when he tries to kill himself, first by running in front of a car, and then by throwing himself into the fishpond. It transpires that his grandmother is so lonely in death, she is driven to persuade Billy to die so he can join her. While the child lies close to death from drowning, his desperate father runs upstairs and talks to his mother over the phone, and pleads with her not to allow his son to die; to release him and let him live, to grow into an adult. The actor’s performance in this scene is truly moving, even though he is talking to a dead person through a tiny plastic phone. This episode is powerful throughout, since the subject of an old dead woman tempting a small child into death is so edgy. And the father’s realization that he has been rejected by his mother, even on her death bed in favor of the child, is painful to watch. Look out, too, for the moment when Billy’s mom, thinking her child is playing games, snatches the phone off him and hears the breathing of the dead grandmother, proving that Billy is not imagining his conversations after all. Really spooky, and tastefully morbid.
20. Aborigine Walkabout
Many aboriginal tribes of Australia send their young men into the wilderness for up to 6 months to test whether they are ready to become men. The boys must survive, unassisted, and keep themselves totally isolated. When they return after 6 months they will be considered men of the tribe.
15. The Krypteia
As part of agoge (Spartan training), a young Spartan would participate in the Krypteia, which was essentially a yearly “war” against the helots (slaves), and boys as young as 12 would partake in the slaughter using the stealthy tactics they learned in agoge. So, next time you have a final exam, just be thankful you’re not being graded based on a body count.
10. Festa de Mocas Nuevas
5. Enemy Sacrifices
A boy living in the Aztec Empire began his military training at 17 and he would only be considered a man once he captured an enemy and brought him back as his prisoner to be sacrificed. His next objective was significantly more difficult however. If he wanted to become a Jaguar or Eagle warrior it would require 20 more sacrifices, and therefore 20 more prisoners.
Read more: http://list25.com/25-crazy-rites-of-passage/
Ever wonder whats on the mind of todays most notable people? Well, dont miss our unbelievable roundup of the best and most talked about quotes of the day:
2. Exhibit A: Red Pandas look like this.
It’s basically a raccoon mashed together with a panda and a Pokemon into a highly deadly dose of adorableness. LOOK AT THEM. They’re so fluffy, I’m gonna die. -Donna Dickens
3. Exhibit A: Chameleons looks like this:
Basically the cutest little guy ever. Look at the itty-bitty tail wrapped around that finger. ADORABLE. -Tommy Wesely
4. Exhibit B: Red Pandas make excellent mothers.
They always support their cubs life choices and give the best hugs.
5. Exhibit B: Chameleons are basically the James Bond of the animal world
Their spy eyes can rotate nearly 180 degrees and each eyes works independently of one another, allowing them to look at two different things at once. Pretty bad ass.
6. Exhibit C: Red Pandas love to play in the snow for the Internet.
Look how cute they are frolicking the day away! Red Pandas share the rainy forest habitats of their Giant Panda cousins but also can be found in the snowy mountains of Nepal and northern Myanmar (Burma).
7. Exhibit C: Chameleons have super powers
8. They can change their colors! Have fun staying red you stupid red pandas!
9. Exhibit D: Red Pandas have superpowers too. Attack hugs!
Being red makes them easier to find and hug and squeeze and pet their soft fur.
10. Exhibit D: Chameleons are great with their tongues. This makes them excellent kissers.
12. Exhibit E: Red Pandas need your help!
These adorable babies of fluff are endangered with less than 10,000 remaining in the wild. A boost of Internet fame could increase conservation funds!
13. Exhibit E: Chameleons take care of themselves, they have excellent hygiene.
16. Exhibit F: Red Pandas don’t have time to for hygiene when there is NINJA training to be done.
18. Exhibit F: Never forget, Johnny Depp played a chameleon!
19. Remember “Rango”?
20. Exhibit G: Red Pandas haven’t starred in any major motion pictures, but they are great actors.
Hollywood, they are totally open to any part, as long it’s tasteful. Call them!
21. Exhibit G: Liz from “The Magic School Bus.”
Just another examples of how awesome Chameleons are. I mean, seriously, they are friends with Miss. Frizzle.
22. In conclusion: Choose the soft, pettable Red Panda because don’t you want to just love it forever?
25. In conclusion: Open your arms and your heart because chameleons are the best.
26. Do the right thing!
27. Fight for the little guys…
28. They need YOU!
Voting is now closed.
Red Pandas win! More to come – keep track of it all here.