100 years after the Great Molasses Flood

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Yes you read that correctly. On this day 100 years ago molasses rushed out of its ill-kept steel tank and onto the streets of Boston, Massachusetts. Molasses is the dark gooey stuff that sits in your cabinet until the holidays when you use your annual one teaspoon and then back into the cabinet it goes. An innocuous little jar, yet in 1919 this sugary tsunami took the lives of 21 people and injured dozens. Most who perished in the wave died of asphyxiation. The byproduct of refined sugarcane, molasses was often used to make industrial alcohol, hence why it was being stored in a large vat near the buzzing industry of Boston Harbor. Molasses would arrive from Puerto Rico, get pumped into large steel vats in the surrounding industrial parks, and then be transported by train tankers to refineries in Cambridge. The Purity Distilling Company however did not take care of these large steel tanks as they maintained high heat in order to keep the molasses liquid. Like most industrial disasters, this could have been prevented with the proper foresight and perhaps like three seconds of asking “is this a good idea?”. Yet this was a money hungry company with a high demand for industrial alcohol so the precarious steel vats full of molten molasses sat next to the North End of Boston where many impoverished Italian immigrants called home during this time.

It was a particularly warm winter day for Boston on January 15th, 1919. A nice 40 degrees Fahrenheit or just under 5 degrees Celsius. With the high heat within the tank and less than ideal weather outside, the steel tank burst and unleashed a dark wave going about 35 mph (56 km/h [you are so welcome]). Imagine being hit by a car but its made of molasses. That’s what it was like for the victims of the flood that day. The sticky wasteland that the molasses left was almost worst than the initial disaster. Waist high molasses was stuck in the streets having cooled down and nearly solidifying. Maritime Trainees took weeks to cleanup the sticky streets. Some accounts even have the sickly sweet smell of molasses lasting two summers after the incident. So what has happened in the 100 years since one of the weirdest tragedies. For one building regulations in the area have been strictly enforced and just as well the Italian American community within the area is still going strong. Recently history enthusiasts of the area marked the exact spot of the tank with colored flags and commemorated the lives lost. They did note however the smell of molasses has since gone away in the area, and if you have ever smelled molasses you’ll know that’s the real happy ending.

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If you are interested in learning more about the gruesome flood details, check out Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919

-Michelle

Croc Meets Crocs

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Let’s start the new year off right, by looking at an amazingly stupid crime from - you guessed it- Florida. A 23 year-old man was charged with burglary (not of a crocodile sadly, I checked) and criminal mischief after going on a rampage throughout the St. Augustine's Alligator Farm Zoological Park, reportedly beginning his path of destruction at the snack bar and proceeded to knock down the street lamps along the way to the “Oasis of the Nile” exhibit. He jumped into the enclosure and was thus bitten. I don’t know what he expected. He later crawled out and up to a ledge, which was clear from the trail of blood the next morning. At 6 AM the next day a concerned neighbor phoned 911 to report a man crawling up the lawn… only in his underwear…. who was covered in blood. Good Morning. In the aftermath of the criminal mischief a $3,000 statue was knocked down, a near naked man had a terrible bite in his foot, and a pair of Crocs lay floating in the crocodile pond.

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-Michelle

Jólakötturinn: The Killer Yule Cat from Iceland

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Arguably the first ever Fashion Police, Jólakötturinn or “Yule Cat” has his roots traced back to the Middle Ages, most likely a combination of a few other folklore worthy animal deities (such as the yule goat). But it was not until the 19th century that we have written record of our sweet cuddly pal. The Yule cat was tasked with going around on Christmas and eating those who did not receive new clothes on Christmas Eve. This cute and cuddly little kitty is also house pet to folklore heavy-hitter Grýla the blood thirsty ogress who is also the mother of the 13 very mischievous Yule Lads who are tasked with giving gifts and rotten potatoes, depending on if the recipient was good or bad (good for you Grýla). Besides being a bloodthirsty kitty belonging to the a true OG on the Christmas folklore scene Jólakötturinn looked like a regular cat, except for the enormous size, claws the size of a cow, eyes that shone like beacons, oh and it’s needle sharp whiskers. Besides that, completely normal. The Yule Cat was not a killer in every story however, in some versions our pal Yule Cat would peer in windows and simply eat the Christmas meal of those who had not received new clothing. In others he would eat lazy children. You’re probably asking yourself “why would this enormous cat worry about new clothing?” well it all goes back to farmers. In the autumn harvest sheering sheep was one of the many tedious jobs to do. Yet wool was so intensely necessary that the hard work was often rewarded with clothing spun from the very wool that farm-hands helped harvest. So it can be assumed that the farmers created Yule Cat as a way to basically say “Work hard or there will be consequences” the consequence just happened to be a giant cat eating you right before Christmas.

sources:

In the Dark Air

Monsters Here and There

Christmas Cat Poem

-Michelle

The Case of Peter Blagojevich

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The town of Kisiljevo is hoping that their hometown vampire can begin to rival the likes of Dracula. In 1725 Petar Blagojević a peasant from the small Serbian town of Kisiljevo passed away and was laid to rest in an unassuming grave. Within 24 hours of his death, his wife claims she was visited by her late husband and a fellow villager was dead after being as they claimed “suffocated by Petar” Another 24 hours went by. Another death. For 8 more days one villager died. Petar’s wife and family reported more disturbances. Some sources say that Blagojević requested his wife’s shoes and she had to flee the village for safety afterwards, while others say that the undead Petar requested food, and when his son refused Petar brutally murdered and it’s assume that he also drank his son’s blood. By the 9th day of death the village requested a town officer and local priest to examine Blagojević’s corpse for evidence of vampirism. Once exhumed it was recorded that Petar’s body was much more supple than it should have been at the time in the decomposition process. Nails were long, beard growing, and flesh had a pink tint. Blood could even be seen in the mouth of the recently dead Petar. With this discovery his heart was taken and staked (a wooden stake driven quickly through) and the body was burned. The village that had been beset with dread was free of the nightly hunt. The story of Petar was part of the vampire craze of the 18th century. While the “unnatural” state that the body was found in has now been found to be a common occurrence, Kisiljevo hopes to create a healthy tourist center with the legend of the Serbian Vampire Petar Blagojević.

-Michelle


Three Thanksgiving Crimes to Create General Unease at Your Thanksgiving Table

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It’s that time of the year. Terrible traffic, cool winds, invasive questions from relatives. What could be better to whet an appetite then three stories about petty crime from Thanksgivings past? As we all know gathering family in one room can be dangerous and while most of us have wanted to jump across the table and stab a sibling with a fork (we here at LPN are huge fans of restraint and you should be too) here is a woman who actually did just that. Last year Shenika Allsup stabbed her younger half-brother in Maryland over what police deemed an “escalated spat”. Her brother was quickly transported the hospital and treated for non-lethal wounds and has since made a full recovery. So perhaps, the next time you see your family, think twice over that small argument, before either of you end up with a fork in your neck. On the same topic of disputes, our next crime takes place over a particularly heated game of Trivial Pursuit in 2013 (hey, we’ve all been there). Two people were supposedly fighting over an answer and one of them pulled what seemed to be a hatchet on the other. For an added twist, when police arrived it turned out the “hatchet” was instead drug paraphernalia. Minus the threat with a hatchet, sounds like a pretty fun Thanksgiving. Finally we have my personal favorite story out of the bunch. This gem comes from 2008 North Carolina where a carjacker was hit with a frozen turkey in an attempt to stop him from taking a car. The carjacker unfortunately made off with the car, but due to the head wound was later recognized by the police as the perpetrator. As they say revenge is a dish best served cold. So for this Thanksgiving, instead of arguing, let’s come together and shame others who have committed petty crimes over turkey. Have a Happy Thanksgiving from everyone here at Last Podcast Network, and don’t stab your siblings with a fork!

Sources:

Fork Assault

Trivial Pursuit

Frozen Turkey Carjacker


-Michelle

A Week After Whitey's Death

The Infamous Whitey Bulger, Boston mobster and informant was found dead in his cell at 8:20 on Tuesday morning October 30, at age 89. Bulger was brutally beaten to death within hours of being transferred to Hazelton. James Bulger was born to a one-armed dock worker from canada and an unremarkable first-generation Irish immigrant. The youngest of three siblings Jimmy, as he like to be called, took to crime at a young age. He carried a switchblade around in his cowboy boots and even tried to get people call him “Boots” for a time, but it wouldn’t stick. Police soon took to calling him “Whitey” due to his light blonde hair, a nickname which he hated, but stuck nonetheless. In his teenage years he joined the unsurprisingly named Boston street gang “the Shamrocks”. In this gang he would be arrested and sentenced to a Juvenile Reformatory program, his crimes including assault, theft and forgery.

Surprisingly Whitey then went on to Join the Airforce, as you can imagine a reform school in 1940’s was  not very effective and the newly enrolled Bulger spent much of his time in the military behind bars. Shockingly however he was honorably discharged in 1952. Returning to Massachusetts with basic training and a few more years of jail time under his belt Whitey once again landed himself in prison. For the conspiracy folks, Bulger brushed shoulders with MK-Ultra after volunteering for LSD based experiments. During this time Whitey was transferred from prison to prison in what could only be described as a famous prison super tour, starting in Atlanta Penitentiary, on to Alcatraz, then Leavenworth, and finally was set free out of Lewisburg after serving a total of 9 years. Now a free man he returned to Boston and worked as an enforcer for another famous mobster Donald Killeen. To make a long gang-war story short someone from Killeens gang bit the nose off of a member of the rival Mullen gang and thus a gang war broke out with Whitey as one of the commanding officers, while many men died as a result no one else got their noses bitten off.

After joining the Winter Hill gang and rising up the ranks Bulger went from street enforcer to running the streets of Boston (which is hard because it’s so damn easy to get lost). This is where the legacy of Whitey really takes off. Along with running most of the organized crime in the city of Boston Whitey started a career as an FBI informant, taking advantage of the fact that his older brother was now in the Massachusetts Senate. From the 70’s to the 90’s Whitey Bulger was the premier crusty Irishman when it came to racketeering. Controlling the drug supply by day and informing on enemies by night. But unbenounced to the Boston gangs, the DEA was closing in. The golden age of the Winter Hill gang would soon be coming to a crashing halt. By 1995 the DEA was closing in on the accomplished boss having arrested most of Bulger’s close counterparts Whitey and his girlfriend, Theresa Stanley, decided that it was a good time to flee. Unfortunately for Whitey, life on the run was not all it was cracked up to be for Theresa and within a month they returned to Boston. But Whitey Bulger being Whitey Bulger just took his OTHER mistress Catherine Greig. And thus began a 16 year chase for Bulger as his name sat on the Top Ten Most Wanted list and the FBI chased him across the country and the world. It’s important to note all the cool shit Whitey did during this time, to spite those trying to track him down. The FBI attempted to coax him out of hiding by showing limited premiers of the Departed on the West coast.

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He and Catherine even visited Alcatraz posed as tourists during his 16 years on the run. If that’s not the most smug couple you’ve ever seen you’re probably wrong. This spree of tourist photos and easy living would not last however. In June of 2011 Bulger and his mistress were captured in Santa Monica. The reign of James “Whitey” Bulger came to a screeching halt as he was indicted on 11 counts of murder. James Bulger lived a long crime-riddled life, his death marks a final end of a bygone era of crime and terrible nicknames.

- Michelle

Cronos, A Review

As imaginative as the title of this blog post is, this film is much more imaginative than that, believe it or not! Cronos, aka La Invención de Cronos, is exactly what H.P. Lovecraft would’ve ordered on Amazon Prime for another quiet night in. It’s a beautifully made film released in 1993 by Guillermo Del Toro, a then young misfit special effects makeup artist and short film director who spent eight years trying to get this movie made.

The film starts prophetically in 1536, where an old alchemist creates a device, part watch, part supernatural insect, part grandmother’s broach. The device, Cronos, has the ability to grant eternal life. This is true because the voice over narrator says so. The alchemist, who created it to resemble an analog watch with its gears and ticking, uses it for four hundred years until he is killed by a building collapse in 1937. His fitting dying words were “suo tempore” translated from Latin as “one own’s time”.

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The lost Cronos apparatus turns up again sixty years later in an antique dealer shop owned by Jesus Gris, an old man who lives a quiet life with his loving wife and sweet granddaughter, Aurora. His happy life gets turned upside down when a strange man wanders into his shop and discovers an antique Angel statue with one eye missing in Jesus’ inventory and runs off. Jesus inspects the statue further when cockroaches invade the base of the statue which leads him to find the Cronos. It then attaches itself to his hand, leaving him injuring and confused. Jesus soon finds himself younger and full of vigor. It isn’t long until he realizes why it’s a sought over artifact.

His antique shop quickly gets ransacked after Angel De La Guardia, played by Ron Perlman, buys the same statue to find it empty. All that’s left of his mess of a shop is a business card which leads him to De La Guardia’s uncle, a dying wealthy industrialist who, so I’ve been told, is not Hyman Roth. Jesus Gris then escapes De La Guardia just long enough to have Chronos hid by his young granddaughter.  As the family is ringing in the new year at a party, De La Guardia abducts and kills Jesus. But how can he be killed if he’s immortal? He’s not dead! He breaks out of the crematorium and finds his granddaughter Aurora, who lovingly makes his bed in a toy chest after discovering that he burns when he’s exposed to sunlight and has a new penchant for blood.

What happens next is an artfully written third act where paying the price of eternal life leaves many consequences and an ultimate sacrifice. This film was Del Toro’s first feature film that won him the recognition and friendships from directors like James Cameron and Pedro Almodovar. A romantic ode to horror served in a Frankenstein/Dracula combo. Del Toro, who studied under legendary special effects makeup artist Dick Smith while making the film, even formed his own company, Necropia. The effects and gore go perfectly with this elegantly rich fabled story. All I gotta say is, come for the grotesque, stay for the beauty.



Ice Cream Man

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Ice Cream Man

Not as literal as I'd hoped...

This movie came heavily recommended on a thread on Reddit which made me immediately purchase the double feature DVD with Jack Frost 2 for seven dollars. What a deal! Thanks highly upvoted internet stranger! Ice Cream Man is exactly the definition of a campy slasher film with a low L.A. budget production value where saying you get taken out of the movie constantly is an understatement. And I enjoyed every minute of it.

The movie starts with the origin story of the Ice Cream Man. He is a mischievous young boy who witnesses his neighborhood ice cream man killed outside the ice cream truck. Soon after, this young boy spends his formative years in a mental institution with a maniacal doctor who makes sure to drive home the point that, “There are no bad days, only happy happy days!” Appropriately the new adult Ice Cream Man is played by Clint Howard, whose younger brother, Ron, is famous for starring in the popular 70s sitcom Happy Days, directing Willow and other stuff.

Clint Howard does his best creepy Ice Cream Man face when he pulls up to a regular suburban neighborhood, handing out lots of treats mixed with body parts to kids. He starts with a dog owned by his institution nurse/landlady (Olivia Hussey) and soon moves on to people, starting with a young boy who goes missing soon after he runs out after the ice cream truck. The police are called and detectives go straight to the Ice Cream Man to ask him questions. They then order ice cream cones, one of which has a squishy eyeball inside. Lots of close ups in that one.

The movie also stars a ragtag team of kids who call themselves the Rocketeers: Johnny, Tuna, Small Paul and their very own Beverly, Heather. These kids know something is up with the disappearance of the young boy, even if the police or their own families believe they shouldn’t be getting involved in this crime investigation. “Damn meddling kids!” -adults in movies. But once Small Paul gets abducted too they take action, and to hell with anyone who went missing before. These kids go to all lengths to save each other including launching a live rocket and using ice cream-making equipment as a weapon to bring down the Ice Cream Man!

Ice Cream Man is directed by Paul Norman who may (and should) be very proud of this movie. This was Paul’s first and only foray into mainstream filmmaking. He is more known for his pornographic films such as Intercourse with the Vampire 1 & 2, the Edward Penishands trilogy and the Bi and Beyond collection. Get them all if you’re a completist!

This movie does what others couldn’t, which is fitting a severed head into a giant ice cream cone. If you want to have as much fun as the filmmakers did, then watch this movie. There is a particular favorite scene at the mental institution where the patients parade around police detectives that will undoubtedly have you want to join them. Go crazy and get a scoop of Butter Brickle you pied piper ice cream dicks!

-Carolina Hidalgo