Welcome. Glad to see you here in our world of strange fascinations. What do we find so strangely fascinating? Well, a lot of things, really. To sum it up...we're predisposed to the paranormal, attracted to the anachronistic, responsive to retro, passionate about pop culture, captivated by kitsch, orgasmic over the odd. This is our warehouse. Stay as long as you like. Scrawl something on the wall (we'd really like that). Just don't open that door over there behind the life size cardboard cut-out of Agent Dale Cooper. Why? Never mind. Just don't. Unless, of course, you've always wanted to be the subject of a "weird news" headline.

Velkommen. Glad for at se Dem her i vores verden på en mærkelig hensyn. Hvad ser vi så mærkeligt Fascinerende? Godt, en masse ting, virkelig. Til sidst det up...we »ad været tilbøjelig til at se, tiltrukket af det utidssvarende, lydhør over for refleksanordninger, lidenskabeligt om POP kultur, påtage ved kitsch, orgasmic over mærkeligt. Det er vores lager. Ophold så længe man vil. Scrawl noget på væggen (vi fortsat virkelig gerne høre).

Yeah, she's definitely creepy with that unsettling gaze trained on the camera courtesy of those big, googly eyes, but from the moment we saw her pallid mug in the musty pages of "Wisconsin Death Trip", Michael Lesy's 1972 cult classic compendium of death, disease, disaster and degradation in 1890s Black River, Wisconsin, we knew that this nameless vixen of yore would forever have a stranglehold on what passes for our heart. And, of course, she's perfect for this dark and shamelessly skewed blog. If we had the time and the focus, we'd have T-shirts made that said "I suck the life out of Cheeseheads, Go Packers!" But, luckily, we have adult ADD and will never do it. Including her eerie little face in our blog is the best we can do. We just hope that our readers appreciate our creepy little friend as much as we do. In fact, we feel a poll coming on...

Oh, yeah....we have a theme song. Two, in fact. And a whole lot of back-up possibilities. (Videos are down below.)

Our Theme Song


Enhance Your Viewing Pleasure

Amazon MP3 Clips



How To Make A Pink Squirrel

How To Make A Pink Squirrel
Why wait? Get in the pink. Click on the rodent for the recipe for a classic Pink Squirrel cocktail..

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wonderous Woes and Strange Sorrows: The Tragic Truth Behind Wisconsin Death Trip

The first time I saw a copy of Wisconsin Death Trip was about a decade ago, during one of what seemed to be an endless succession of visits to Marshfield, Massachusetts during that particular time in my life. The friend with whom I was staying prevailed upon me to accompany her to a "get together" at the house of a man known for his New Age sensibilities and gracious manner.
"You'll love him," she told me as we drove toward the neighboring town of Norville, where Mr. Sensitive lived with his Lhasa Apso and an extensive crystal collection. "He's a truly gifted person with the most amazing energy. I know he'll make you feel right at home." Translation: I was about to sacrifice a couple hours of my life sucking down white wine, listening to the local New Age crowd discuss meditation techniques and then, if I was lucky, I might be able to convince my friend to stop at a bar for a real drink on the way back to Marshfield, The late 90's were a difficult time for me. My trips to Marshfield were an escape from some of the more uncomfortable aspects of that time period. My friend's attempts to indoctrinate me into her The 1890s were not a good time for Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Like much of the rest of the country, the residents of the small, remote Wisconsin town were suffering through an economic depression every bit as devastating as the so-called "Great Depression" of the 1930s. And like many other Americans during that last decade of the 19th century, the men and women of the small rural community experienced the effects of the nation's economic hardships on a personal level that was sometimes overwhelming, if not altogether ruinous. In the course of that one decade, the city of Black River Falls was host to the dissolution of a mining operation which served as its primary money-making enterprise, a crazed gunman who held 26 people hostage in a local church on what he claimed were God's orders, a rampant epidemic of diphtheria, a succession of unusually gruesome suicides, the murder of a farmer at the hands of two children, a number of unexplained deaths, a breathtakingly high rate of infant mortality, and regular bouts of window smashing at the hands of a middle-aged woman who claimed that she always took a dose of cocaine afterwards to settle her nerves.
That's a hell of a lot of tragedy for one little town to bear, you're probably thinking. Which is exactly what journalism student Michael Lesy was thinking when, in the early 70's, he happened to come into possession of a stack of old photographs documenting the horrible events visited upon the unfortunate citizens of Black River Falls nearly 80 years before. The photographs were the work of Charles van Shaint, the official photographer for Jackson County, Wisconsin, who, it would seem
spent an inordinate amount of time photographing the residents of the strange little burg, pointing his camera lens at everything from deceased infants to murderous siblings with paper bags over their heads trying to outrun lawmen on horseback.

Lesy's fascination with van Shaint's photographs prompted him to delve deeper into the stories behind the pictures, most of which were documented in contemporary news accounts. Lesy utilized excerpts from those accounts to provide the narrative of the book he went on to write. Wisconsin Death Trip hit the book stands in 1973, its title inspired by hippie vernacular in which the word "trip" is used to refer to a personal experience as well as to an actual, physical journey. Lesy's "death trip", with its stark, unfiltered newsprint and morbid, unsettling, sometimes surreal imagery, quickly became a cult classic. But it wasn't until 1999 that someone undertook the daunting task of trying to turn the strange little work into a feature film. In March of that year, Warner Brothers released a film version of Wisconsin Death Trip, directed by James Marsh (Man on Wire, The King) to mixed reviews. Like the book, Marsh's film draws heavily on the original photographs, recreating some of the events depicted in them and attempting to link them to modern day Black River Falls. The result is a film that one critic have called "disturbing, but empty", a sentiment that seems to be the prevailing one among critics and fans of the book. But of course, some books are harder to transpose into film than others, and a book like Wisconsin Death Trip, with its formless narrative and morbid imagery, is more elusive than most. Still, if nothing else, Marsh's film has turned a murky spotlight on Lesy's work and brought it to the attention of a new generation of fans.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

If Tragedy Were A Town, Its Name Would Be Black River Falls: The Strange, Horrifying, True


    Black River Falls, Wisconsin, 1890's. Not a happy time for most of the town's residents. Not only was the country weathering an economic depression every bit as bad as "The Great Depression" of the 1930s. the personal repercussions of that depression were taking a strangely disproportionate toll on the otherwise non-noteworthy little community of Black River. It was as though, in the final decade of the 19th century, some surly sub-god of pain and suffering decided to curse the town with as many twists and variations of personal tragedy as it is possible to imagine taking place within the perimeters of one bleak little burg in rural Wisconsin. In the course of that one decade, the inhabitants of Black River Falls were the unfortunate hosts to  a serial arsonist, a severe diphtheria epidemic, a crazed gun man who held 26 people hostage at  a local church "under the order of God, a were likely to hear of or see someone who had died, who had been killed, who had taken his or her own life, who had gone insane, or who had committed some other violent and, very likely, bizarre act connected to tragic circumstances. At least, that's the sense you'll come away with after reading Wisconsin Death Trip, Michael Lesy's strange, dark, relentlessly oppressive account of life (mostly as an uneasy prelude to death) in Black River Falls during the last decade of the 19th century. For those whose grasp of history comes mainly from high school classrooms and the History Channel, it may come as a surprise to learn that the 1890s were host to an economic depression that wreaked every bit as much emotional havoc and ruined just as many lives as the much more well-known "Great Depression" of the 1930s.
    In the small and otherwise non-noteworthy town of Black River Falls the steady stream of personal tragedies are documented in a collection of unsettling, and sometimes bizarre photographs taken by Charles van Shaick, the official photographer for Jackson County at that time. Nearly 80 years later, by some lucky (or unlucky, some might say) stroke of fate, those photographs happened to come into the possession of  Lesy, who was a young journalism student at  the time and found himself.....yes, we have to say it....strangely fascinated by the images of what seems to have been a town built on the epicenter of some cursed portion of the Wisconsin landscape. His interest in the photographs and the story behind them led him to publish Wisconsin Death Trip in 1973, in which he supplemented the photographs with contemporary news reports and articles about the events they represent. Not surprisingly, the book became a cult classic, and in 1999, James Marsh directed a documentary film version of the book.

This film adaptation of Michael Lesy's 1973 book takes a look at the sordid and disturbing underside of life in a small Wisconsin community in the 1890s. In the early 1970s, Lesy discovered a large collection of curious photographs from Black River Falls, Wisconsin, taken near the end of the 19th century, and began doing research on the town in hopes of learning the story behind them. Lesy was startled by what he learned; over the course of a decade, Black River Falls fell victim to a severe diphtheria epidemic, the local economy collapsed following the shutdown of a mining business, a serial arsonist terrorized the community, a lunatic claiming to act under God's orders held 26 people hostage at the local church, two children murdered a farmer, a number of infants were abandoned or killed, and an undercurrent of violence and madness seemed to taint all aspects of the town's history. Using both the original photographs and silent recreations staged by director James Marsh (accompanied by narration from Ian Holm), Wisonsin Death Trip attempts to recreate the disturbing qualities of the photos and news clippings that formed the basis of Lesy's bo

His interest in the photographs led him to publish Wisconsin Death Trip in 1973, a disturbing pictorial in which photographs of dead children, crazed-looking women in strange hats, odd couplings of local businessmen and dwarves, and seemingly random shots of things like a huge pile of dimes lying on a kitchen table are interspersed with unsettling narrative chronicling what seems to have been the slow, steady, mental unraveling of an entire town.
    Interestingly, one of the most disconcerting things about Wisconsin Death Trip is that many of the images are not, at least on the surface, dark, bleak, or....well...icky.  And yet they still somehow manage to convey a sense of indigenous eeriness. Included among the visual artifacts of the town's dreariest decade are photographs of children performing in a school pageant, local musicians posing with their instruments, midwives proudly displaying newly born infants, and livestock. But even such seemingly innocuous subject matter can't fully expunge the sense of strange dread imprinted on the images. The expressions on the faces of the children performing in the school pageant seem to reflect a jaded awareness of the local duress. The musicians look happy enough, but the drabness of their surroundings is so oppressive that their smiles take on a weirdly plasticine quality.. Looking at the photograph of a midwife holding a newborn infant, it's impossible not to think of a photograph just a few pages before which shows two dead little girls, probably sisters, laid out in their christening gowns inside a pair of child-size caskets. Even the photograph of a farmer standing next to a cow and her calf is marred by the fact that the cow's nose is planted firmly in the calf's butt. Well, that's what happens on farms, you're probably thinking. There are worse things that the photographer could have captured with his camera lens. True. But, as you'll no doubt discover if you decide to delve into the pages of Wisconsin Death Trip yourself, there just seems to be a common, unsavory thread connecting van Shaik

n the early 1970s, through some unknown twist of strange fate, a young journalism student named Michael Lesy fell into possession of a collection of photographs taken by Jackson County, Wisconsin photographer, Charlesvan Shaick during the late 19th century.. The photographs were of various sites aro

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Strange Fascinations: A New Hope: Our Strange Fascination With Rope

Strange Fascinations: A New Hope: Our Strange Fascination With Rope: Burt Lancaster in "Rope of Sand", 1947 Crazed week, short post, all about rope. Because rope is a bit unsung these days. Too bad, t...

A New Hope: Our Strange Fascination With Rope

Burt Lancaster in "Rope of Sand", 1947
   Crazed week, short post, all about rope.  Because rope is a bit unsung these days. Too bad, too, because without rope, there would be a sad hole in the fabric of our pop culture references tapestry. Not to mention our language, which is fraught with figurative expressions like "on the ropes" and  "roped in." Suffice it to say, rope is dope, and this is our brief, but heartfelt tribute to it.
  Okay, depending on which dictionary you consult, rope was either invented by a German named Robert Gostop in the early 1800s (how it that possible?) or is one of those things "whose origins are lost in the mist of time." But it's probably a safe bet that rope has been around a lot longer than duct tape or velcro. As have those rope-based expression that pepper our daily verbal exchanges. One of those expressions is Rope Of Sand, which also happens to be the title of a 1948 adventure noir starring Burt "Elmer Gantry" Lancaster as Mike Davis, a  hunting guide tortured and abused by the North African mining firm who has hired him to scout out new diamond mines. The rope reference comes into play when Davis stumbles across a new diamond mine and decides to keep its whereabouts to himself, as retaliation for the horrible treatment he has received at the hands of his bosses. Naturally, they try to torture it out of him, thereby making it clear the relationship between the mining company and Lancaster's character is a "rope of sand", which Definitions Online defines as "something of no cohesion or fiber; a feeble union or tie; something not to be relied upon."

All Star Cast ropes in the raves

 The same cannot be said of our next rope-related reference, which, we are pleased to inform you, is the much maligned and always joke-worthy "soap on a rope." Yeah, you've owned some. So has almost everyone you know. Memories of middle-class American Christmases are littered with boxes containing soap on a rope shaped like baseballs, golf balls and soccer balls, gifts bestowed upon husbands and fathers who may never use them, who, at the most, will hang their new acquisition in the shower and forget to even notice it when they reach for the shower gel.
American Football Soap-On-A-Rope (48 pack)
The gift that just keeps on being ignored
Soap on a rope, standard issue
Around your neck? Really, dude?

Oh, the hours of fun you'll have with this
Proof that soap,on a rope is dope...y.
    It won't be until that last squirt of shower gel hits the shower wall that the soap on the rope is actually used. But can you blame the poor sod for waiting? Soap on a rope is pretty much the hygienic equivalent of mittens on idiot strings. A good idea that you don't want to utilize. Fortunately, not all soap on a rope is created equal. Shower stalls have always served as potential portals to sexual misconduct (not necessarily a negative thing), but spend ten seconds researching "soap on a rope" online and your eyes will soon be stinging from looking at images like this and this and even this. In fact, the only anatomically-shaped soap on a rope image we dare to show you here on this post is this one....

      Scrubbing away your sweat with breast-shaped soap. On a rope. This is what separates us from the animals. This...and, well, perhaps a few other things, another one of which is tied closely to the use of rope. (Pun was actually not intended, honest to God. Sometimes it just happens.) But back to the rope.....

A nawashi demonstrates her rope technique
   Of all the things there are to eat in the world that we can actually stand, Japanese food is close to the top of the list. In fact, we're pretty much enamored of Japanese culture in general, including the ancient art of erotic rope bondage. For the record, Japanese rope bondage has about as much to do with S & M style bondage as real women have to do with plastic blow-up dolls. It's closer to Tantric sex, another ancient sexual art form that, if done properly, allows the participants to transcend mere sex and achieve a connection on a truly spiritual level. 
Sex as an art form: positioning is everything
  In Japanese rope bondage, the woman's body is treated as a canvas, a malleable one to be positioned and  bound as a means of enhancing the sexual experience on both an artistic and emotional level. Unlike garden variety bondage, Japanese rope sex often addresses various parts of the body separately, such as the hands, the breasts, sometimes just the genital area alone, creating a unique, specialized experience that allows the participants to explore the effects of putting pressure on those specific regions. It's not unusual for hardcore practicioners of the art to wear their bonds underneath their everyday clothes prior to the sexual interaction itself, thus heightening anticipation and bringing an emotional content to the experience that gives the sexual act an entirely new dimension.
Japanese rope sex addresses all aspects of the bondage experience,
exploring fear, pleasure, pain and sensuality as separate components
of a spiritual and sexual whole.
Pain and pleasure are closely aligned in Japanese  rope sex.
Beauty in bondage, eroticism in
exploring new roles
Bound to enjoy
Japanese rope sex: a binding experience from head to toe

   Japanese rope bondage isn't for everyone, of course.  The fear and uncertainty and primal emotions that characterize the ancient sexual art form serve as an aphorodesiac for some, but for other, the thought of opening themselves to such an experience is enough to keep them from ever uncoiling that rope they've been keeping in the cellar all this time.
   But that's how it goes. One man's trash is another man's treasure. One woman's pleasure is another woman's pain. And when it comes to rope, there's more than one way to tie a knot.