Monday, January 31, 2011

Post Mortem

PBS will air this Tuesday evening.  I'm proud to say I work with a group of qualified professionals.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Early Planting

Kyle and I have been thinking of using those "wall of water" protectors for putting out tomato plants earlier.  I am so glad I came across this Yahoo article while researching them.  We already buy 2 liter bottles of diet soda, so we will have more than enough for our garden.  I love this idea.  
I also goofed and started some tomatoes WAY too early, I thought our last frost date was April 8th, not May 8th.  Maybe things will work out though.  I'm sure the Burpee Zavory peppers will be fine since they took 2 weeks to germinate and were the smallest transplants we had all last year.  
Black Krim, Zavory, and a medley of herbs for a windowsill garden.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Skull Stein

Neatorama now features a glass skull stein for just over 9 bucks.  These look much nicer than the cheap plastic ones you see at the stores around Halloween.  No, I am no way affiliated with Neatorama.


I check my Blogger stats, because I'm a little obsessive about who is checking out my blog.  I just saw the creepiest search terms someone used that directed them to my blog:  "corpse removed panty".  I don't want to know what that person was looking for.  They must have been bummed to hit my post.

Cat vs Dog Debate

Pumpkinrot's post reminded me of something. There is one question I get regarding my job that pops up more often than you'd think. I've had lots of people from either side of the cat and dog perspective of pets that ask me about pets actually eating their master's after they die.
They are simply waiting to eat your face off. has an article that spreads the biggest misconception I've come across.

The Daily Mail has a version of the story that makes the concept seem a bit more acceptable-  The pet had run out of food and as a last choice, fed off it's master to stay alive.  

There are many misconceptions and crackpot stories surrounding death.  No wonder, people spend so much time avoiding the thought that any junk story can fill the vast gaps in our conceptualization of the topic.  I'm here to set the story straight.  Your pet would likely at least take a few bites if left alone with your dead body, even after a fairly short amount of time.  I've seen it. 

 I had one case where a medium sized mutt, who had allegedly been walked every day by his master and fairly well cared for, had been trapped in their trailer with the dead master for about a week.  The head was pretty much cleaned of all flesh and was sitting next to the body, the lower mandible was on the floor, and the teeth were spread all across the carpet.  Trust me, it was a ton of fun looking for those teeth.  The right arm had been separated from the body as well.  Here's the kicker.  There were two 40 lb paper bags of dog food on the floor in the kitchen.  Both were full and one was open, totally within reach of the dog.  
I didn't do anything wrong!

I had another case where I stepped into a bedroom to see a male's body on it's bed, missing half his face with the cutest little pug darting about on the bed, scared, and trying to keep me away from the body.  We got the little guy into a carrier and gave him to family who were going to care for him.  He had a bowl of water and uneaten food in the neighboring bowl on the floor.

And yes I have seen cats do the same thing, but the damage was usually limited to the nose, mouth, and fingers.  

WTF? Why would our cute little babies do such a thing? I have a hypothesis.  I think that the animals are doing an extension of what they already do.  How many times has your pet attempted to wake you with a nose in the face, a big sloppy lick, or a gentle paw pat to the nose?  I've been woken up in that manner many times.  Now imagine if the pet is trying to wake you and you don't wake up after the normal gentle prodding.  My dog usually growls loudly or even barks, that generally tends to piss me off enough to at least wake up enough to yell "shut up!".  But what if that didn't work?  I think cats might resort to a swat with claws extended- I've definitely seen that damage.  a dog might be tempted to nip at you.  I think you get the idea.  Over time, the animal gets more distressed and the nipping and clawing progresses to full on bites.  I know that once a dog gets it's mind set in one direction, it will keep going unless something is there to stop the behavior.  

In both cases of the dogs, they were adopted off, not put down.  I don't think there is such a thing of "getting the taste of human flesh"  that is different from a dog that has attacked a live human.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Actual text I just got from Kyle:  
"Perfect day for photographing a haunt"

Yes it is.  

Monday, January 24, 2011

Exit Through the Gift Shop

I view some of the haunt community artists as the leaders in the field and some are simply replicating.  Just like the "art" world.  I hope the haunt world never gets as pretentious as the "art" world.  It is so cool to see what may be one of the most "underground" movements in creativity happening within such an intertwined and supportive community.  Haunters appear to be the best of both worlds- talented and unselfish- we encourage others to take our ideas and run with them.  It is amazing to see the results when a true artist makes an old idea theirs.  

Years ago, I left a prestigious art school because I realized I was paying for bullshit.  

Here is the movie that inspired this rant:

Nothing Says "I Love You" Like This

Anatomical heart cake as seen on Lily Vanilli Cake Fight.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I Won, I Won, I Won!

Rich over at Devil's Eve presented me with a major award!  I along with two other happy haunters won a 1 year subscription to Hauntcast! Boo-yah!  Thanks a bunch man!

Now go check out his blog.  Do it.


Toes Go In First
A local hospital used to have a TGIF sign on their cooler door to remind the transport people how to properly put in the bodies.

Decomposition 101

Click the photo for a pretty extensive overview of the postmortem decomposition process.  Yes there are gross pictures, so be warned.  From  In the business, we call these cases, decomps.  The photo above would be called skeletal though.  

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bill Bass

It wasn't until almost 10 years after taking a human osteology class (study of the human skeleton) for anthropologists and archaeologists, taught by a student of Bill Bass, that I ended up working in forensics.  Years ago, when I was studying to be an archaeologist I used to questioned the sanity of fellow students that were looking to forensics as a career choice.  The Midwest Bioarcheology & Forensic Anthropology Association meeting acronym said it all BARFA.  I only wanted to work with really old bones, the beautifully bleached, not covered in flesh ones.  The funny thing is that I think I'm the only one out of that group that actually got into the field, of forensics, that is.  I think the only foot in the door I had was archaeological excavation experience and a good knowledge of the human skeleton and how to differentiate bone fragments into either human or non-human, which is pretty important every once in a while in my job.  So much of my training has been on the job experience and passing along the know how from one investigator to another.  There really is no school that can prepare you for this work.

I'd never even heard of Bill Bass until I applied for my current position.  Now I think it is pretty amazing that I got some of the best training in human skeletal anatomy from one of his students.  We used to have a box with two holes cut into the sides that we would put each hand in with three "specimens".  One would be something like the fragment of a human bone, the other a piece of turtle shell, and the third would be a piece of primate bone.  You could only feel the specimens, not see them.  We would get extra credit if we correctly identified the two non-human ones only if we could identify which human bone was in the box.  Death's Acre is one of the first books I read when applying for my job to try to enlighten me about what I was in for.  In retrospect, it is a great intro.  It is just that the reality can never be explained, it has to be seen first hand.  

Here's the link to the Body Farm website.  Click home to get the home page instead of the page I linked to with his non-fiction books.  

Monday, January 17, 2011

First Harvest Monday 2011

While doing some artwork during a brief break from the constant rain, Kyle and I stumbled upon some surprisingly green carrot greens.  This is what we found beneath the surface in one of our raised beds.  I've heard carrots can go through the winter, but never tried it.  They smell great.  I have yet to report on the taste.  I have no idea what variety these are.  It was pretty cool to pick something fresh from the garden on January 17th!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Red Light Variety with Emily

I had a great time and feel privileged to be Emily's +1 for the newest engagement of the Red Light Variety Show: Time Machine.  The RLVS gang did an amazing job and really had me on the edge of my seat during parts of the show. Other times I laughed due to the wonderfully funny bits.  I think my favorite parts were when the artists couldn't help but beam a wonderful smile when things went "just right", either due to a perfect hit on a move or gag, or when something went wrong, but they still nailed it.  Emily shot her way through the show with her camera while I sat by wondering what wonderful images she must have captured.  I'll link to her post when it's ready, she must have hours worth of images to pour over.  

Thanks a ton Emily, I had a wonderful time.  Check out her blog- Your Apples are my Oranges
This is one of her photos from a different show they did in October 2010, and is a good representation of how I felt as I left.  Glorious!

Crusin' Caskets

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Yep, this is way after Johnny Thunder's review, but K and I are watching this right now.  It is so cheesy, a ripoff of Jaws, and quite silly if you don't mind stupid cop cliches and lots of boobs and butts mixed in.  After seeing all that I have, this stuff is pretty light in my book.  Stupid, silly, oversexed, did I say stupid?  If you can brush those things off, it is funnily entertaining coming from the generation that grew up with this genre.  

This Speaks For Me

So much better than I can.  Warning, this link goes to an article about an artist who actually photographed real dead bodies (in Mexico).  I like some of his stuff, but if you are easily offended or don't want to see a B&W of a headless corpse- I'll just copy the text below the link.  You can Google his name to find more images although some may be considered extremely perverse as he not only photographs corpses, he has worked with other topics that could be considered of a freakish nature, or deviant, depraved, and downright grotesque.  Remember, you can't unsee this stuff.  The photo in the link is cropped. 

 Also know that I'm a "normal" person that sees the craziest stuff you'll never see in a lifetime, so his work doesn't phase me much.  Some of it does make me cringe a little...

From  a site about subversive art, etc.  I can in no way vouch for the site or its opinions, I just liked this one article.

Joel-Peter Witkin

Supervert's review of an exhibit featuring the morbid works of photographer Joel-Peter Witkin. Originally published in Artforum Magazine (Summer 1993).

Exhibit at the Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

When Joel-Peter Witkin takes a photograph of a headless corpse (its neck terminating in a meaty stump, its penis shriveling into its fat stomach, its feet absurdly sporting black socks), does it repel you? Is death repulsive? We know that people who develop a familiarity with death (undertakers, soldiers, etc.) can eat in the same room as a corpse and digest as happily as ever. It is illogical to say that death is intrinsically able to repel; rather, we come to repel it, to hide it away in hospitals, to say No to death (in the 1950s,the English sociologist Geoffrey Gorer claimed that death had become the new pornography, replacing sex as society's greatest taboo). So is it possible for Witkin's photograph, Man Without a Head, 1993, to repel you? Or does it simply put you in the uncomfortable position of having to say a Yes or a No? Witkin has long specialized in subjects to which society tends to say a resounding No: not just corpses, but sexual pariahs, circus freaks, and "physical prodigies of all kinds," as he once put it. The generally necrotic b/w photographs in this new show employ the same elements that Witkin has combined and recombined for years: abundant art historical references, manipulated negatives and prints, Baroque staging and lighting, etc. But what is the function of these elements? Is it possible to reconcile the formal sophistication — and beauty — of Witkin's photography with its "repulsive" subjects? In Still Life, Mexico, 1992, a crisp white tablecloth emerges from a black background to proffer fruit, a fish, a roll, and a human leg (severed just below the knee). Though horrible, stringy, meaty stuff gushes out the top of the leg, and a cut on its side reveals globules of what looks like caviar, it's a perfectly elegant still life — very deliberate, technically perfect, and utterly unsensationalistic. Even if you want to say No to the subject matter, its rendering is so beautiful that you just might say Yes.

Why would you want to say Yes to death, dismemberment, or any of the other staples in Witkin's banquet of the bizarre? It's sort of like an extreme form of multiculturalism, a respect for that which is drastically foreign to you, even terrifying. In John Herring, Person with AIDS, Posed as Flora with Lover and Mother, 1992, modeled after Rembrandt's portrait of his wife Saskia as Flora, the subject stands on a fake little cloud, a nipple poking out of his elaborate bodice, his lover and mother sitting off to his left. No doubt this photograph is a radical departure from the representational modes at either end of the debate about how PWA's should be depicted (i.e. in works that chronicle the debilitating effects of AIDS, a la Nicholas Nixon, or in works that depict PWA's as living active, "normal" lives). Aren't both these modes problematic, though, in that the former reduces the person to the disease, while the latter denies the disease altogether? Whereas one mode says No to the person, the other to the illness, Witkin positions himself as the husband (Rembrandt: Saskia = Witkin: Herring), as he who loves and cherishes regardless of sickness or health. He often claims (as in a recent Vanity Fair article) to see himself as "loving the unloved, the damaged, the outcasts," and such unconditional acceptance characterizes his work in general: like St Francis of Assisi, who drank the pus of lepers in order to overcome his repulsion of them, Witkin is not a rubbernecker, an exploiter, or a pessimist, but one who says Yes to everything questionable, even to the terrible.

Monday, January 10, 2011

SNL Black Swan Parody, semi-funny

Today started with me accidentally opening my driver side window that I know has been broken and won't roll up.  I had to pay to get it back up after driving to work in the freezing snow.  I payed to get the window back up, can't afford to fix the damn thing.  Argh!

The funniest (for real) part of the day goes to Kyle's phone conversation with his dad that included the update on what is happening in our household.  It kinda went like this: [I imagine dad asking what K is up to] with K's response: I'm making some food.  [K's dad asking: so what's Jeanne up to?] Kyle's response being- "Uh, well, she's working on the new haunt, you know, she's macheing a new ghost, you can never be too ready".  Then there was a big pause and then the conversation shifted on to something completely different.  

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011

Big Dog

Great Story, this looks just like Sadie, just 60 lbs bigger.  
Unlike this Big Dog which is utterly frightening.  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Prop Time with Hauntcast

I spent the entire evening working on my new ghost prop whilst listening to Hauntcast.  I added some ribs and gave up on rolled newspaper over wire ribs and went with the same cheap skinny tubing.  Then I started the mache.  I had a fun night listening to Hauntcast and working on a prop way early in the season.  
Neat thing was that I was called out earlier this week to check on some bones that someone called 911 for us to check out.  I had a hell of a time getting out there, but once I did, I could understand why someone might think they were possibly human.  I did a bit of "digging" in the frozen ground, but they turned out to be non-human remains.  I had a great time out there anyway.  Now I have my next set of non-human remains drying in the living room because it is way to cold for the stuff to dry properly.  Happy haunting, and STAY SCARY!

Monday, January 3, 2011


The G Rated version of Black Swan.  I present to you:  Black Sadie Pants in a Halloween crinoline!
This isn't dog abuse if she got three small treats and never minded wearing a tutu, right?  If I had more time, I would have 'shopped in those crazy red swan eyes on her fuzzy face.  

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Black Swan, What Was It?

Psychological Thriller?  Horror?  I don't care, I had a great time once it got going.
What's with her eyes?