If all you know about classic fairy tales and bedtime stories is what you’ve seen in Disney movies or children’s books, then you know nothing about the original telling of these stories and the sometimes horrific tales of murder and mayhem they really are. That should have been apparent earlier this month when the gravestone was discovered of the woman whose sad life as a tormented stepdaughter in a mining town where children and dwarfs were forced to work in cramped, dirty tunnels became the basis for the story of Snow White. Now, as the home that is said to have inspired the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears goes up for sale, we learn the real story of three all-male bears (surprise!) and who really messed up their house and stole their food before running off into the woods … or perhaps suffered a worse fate. Spoiler alert: the original title of this tale was “The Story of the Three Bears.” Sorry, Goldie!
“Once upon a time there were Three Bears, who lived together in a house of their own, in a wood. One of them was a Little, Small, Wee Bear; and one was a Middle-sized Bear, and the other was a Great, Huge Bear. They each had a pot for their porridge, a little pot for the Little, Small, Wee Bear, and a middle-sized pot for the Middle Bear, and a great pot for the Great, Huge Bear. And they each had a chair to sit in; a little chair for the Little, Small, Wee Bear; and a middle-sized chair for the Middle Bear; and a great chair for the Great, Huge Bear. And they each had a bed to sleep in; a little bed for the Little, Small, Wee Bear; and a middle-sized bed for the Middle Bear; and a great bed for the Great, Huge Bear.
One day, after they had made the porridge for their breakfast, and poured it into their porridge-pots, they walked out into the wood while the porridge was cooling, that they might not burn their mouths, by beginning too soon to eat it.”
If you think you know who or what comes next, you don’t. No golden-haired girl looking for food. Most literary scholars say it was an old woman, based on “The Story of the Three Bears” that was believed to have been written by English poet Robert Southey. That story was published anonymously in one of his collections in 1837 and attributed to him in another collection published in 1848. More on Southey later because it turns out his was not the first telling of this tri-bear tale.
Some scholars attribute the story to Eleanor Mure, who wrote a version in 1831 for her nephew’s fourth birthday. She obviously wanted to scare the little boy because the mean old lady in her tale gets caught by the bears, who are so angry that they try and fail to set her on fire and drown her before they finally succeed in killing the poor porridge-pilfering woman by impaling her on a church steeple! Now try and fall asleep, my little nephew!
However, Mure’s version may not be the first either. There’s an earlier (by at least two decades) old English tale of a fox named Scapefoot who broke into a castle owned by three bears, stole their porridge, messed with their stuff and suffered the same fate as Mure’s old woman. Sweet dreams, my little kiddies.
Poet Robert Southey obviously wanted to sell more books, so he cleaned up the story, which he may have heard from his uncle. “Fox” was also a derogatory term for an old woman, so it became one who was nasty – she was thrown out by her family for being foul-mouthed, dirty and more (we’ve never been nice about our older women — some things never change) but at least she lives … when the bears find her asleep with a belly-full of porridge, the little bear’s cries awaken her and she jumps out of the window and runs away.
How did the story change from a nasty crone to cute little Goldilocks? That switch is generally attributed to Joseph Cundall, whose 1849 collection, Treasury of Pleasure Books for Young Children, included the story of the three bears but changed the old lady to a young girl named Silver-Hair. Wait, what? That version was retold many times and Silver-Hair evolved to Silver Hair, Golden Hair, Silver Locks and the winning choice — Goldilocks. The three male bears also changed to the familiar Papa, Mama and Baby Bear. Both changes were much more acceptable to illustrators, whose pictures were the real selling points of these collections. While Goldilocks moved to top billing, most kids even today still sympathize with the smallest bear, whose porridge was eaten and chair broken.
Why are we talking about Goldilocks and the Three Bears again?
“If you’ve ever dreamed of living in a fairytale cottage, this place is ‘just right’ – as the house which inspired the childhood story Goldilocks and the Three Bears goes on sale for £995,000.”
That’s 1.2 million in US dollars for the “fairytale cottage” — now called Burton Cottage – that sits on the edge of the New Forest National Park (a great place for an old woman burglar to hide out) and, at least from the outside, looks like a quaint home that would house three bears comfortably, with each having its own bedroom and one for ‘invited’ guests. However, the remodeled inside now screams “bull market” rather than bear. It’s all modern and elaborately decorated – there’s even chandeliers in the bathrooms. (Pictures here.) The huge refrigerator can hold much more than porridge and the kitchen has a microwave to heat up cold meals. All that plus the scenery and the Three Bears story and it might be worth $1.2 million.
Burton Cottage is in Christchurch, Dorset, on the southeastern coast of England and has been up for sale before – the last time in 2017 at a higher asking price of £1.15 million ($1.4 million). According to his biography, Southey was born in Bristol, educated in London, lived with his first wife in Keswick, spent time in Scotland and the Netherlands, and died and was buried in Keswick. The earlier real estate listing says he lived in Burton Cottage from 1799 to 1805 and he came up with the story in 1813. Southey’s biography points out that this was about the time he and fellow writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge became involved in early experiments with nitrous oxide (laughing gas) conducted by the renowned scientist Humphry Davy and became a regular user – inhaling it in a gas chamber invented by steam engine inventor James Watt or mixing it with wine as a hangover cure. (Kids, don’t try this at home.)
Was “The Story of the Three Bears” inspired by Burton Cottage or was it from a laughing gas hallucination?
Ask the real estate agent. Maybe you can get them to knock off a few hundred-thousand from the price.
Source: Mysterious Universe
In a Rare Case of the Lazarus Syndrome, a Woman is Declared Dead Twice
“The man who had been dead came out with his hands and feet bound in strips of linen, and his face wrapped in a headcloth.”
That biblical passage comes from the story of Lazarus, who was brought back to life after being declared dead and buried four days before. Lazarus thus lent his name to any circumstance involving a person being brought back to life after being declared dead by a doctor or another person who knows the signs of death. While it’s popular in movie plots and novels, the so-called Lazarus Syndrome is extremely rare – only 37 cases have been verified worldwide since 1982.
Make that 38.
“The patient was certified dead at 10.30pm in GMSH.”
Dr. Dasari Harish, head of the forensic medicine department at the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH)-32, told the Times of India that the case was discussed at a recent conference. Doctors at the Government Multispecialty Hospital (GMSH)-16 in Chandigarh (a city and a union territory in northern India) declared a 45-year-old female patient dead due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – an inflammatory lung condition that obstructs breathing. Dr. Harish says the doctors followed proper protocols when determining the time of death at 10.30 pm and placed what they thought was a corpse in an ambulance three hours later to be transported to the home of her relatives for the funeral. However, “signs of vitality were noticed by the relatives while transporting her body,” said Harish.
“They immediately unpacked her and brought to our hospital at 5:58 am. We were not even informed that she had already been declared dead by the previous hospital. After resuscitation and treatment, she was declared dead at 7:30 am in GMCH.”
As Dr. Harish pointed out, the woman had been declared officially dead by other doctors following proper protocols. Yes, doctors have been known to close ranks when controversy occurs, but the Lazarus Syndrome muddies the saline solution here. According to a US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health report, the Lazarus syndrome or Lazarus heart or ‘autoresuscitation after failed cardiopulmonary resuscitation’, is the “the unassisted return of spontaneous circulation after cardiac arrest.” There is some thought that the heart could be stopped by pressure built up during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the heart may start beating again after the pressure is relieved. According to the Emergency Medicine Journal, it may also occur due to high doses or adrenaline (epinephrine) or the recreational ingestion of high doses of heroin and ecstasy. It doesn’t appear that any of these were the case with the poor woman in India. So, what caused this 38th case of the Lazarus Syndrome?
“We found it evidently as the first case of Lazarus phenomena from India. There are no certain reasons, but it is believed that some lifesaving drugs giving for resuscitation have a prolonged effect and perhaps rarely some patients can again come back to life and die again within 2-3 hours.”
Needless to say, that ambulance will have plenty of lawyers chasing it from now on.
Source: Mysterious Universe
Stephen King’s House to Become a Museum and Writer’s Retreat
Stephen King plans to turn his Victorian mansion in Bangor into an archive of his work.
Stephen King at the new gates of his home in Bangor, Maine, November 1982
“Of course we fell in love with the house we live in, and it has never disappointed us,” Stephen King wrote in an essay for a March 1983 Bangor Historical Society event. “Have we disappointed it? Disappointment probably isn’t the right word. I think it disapproved of us at first. The parlor seemed cold in a way that had little to do with temperature. The cat would not go into that room; the kids avoided it. My oldest son was convinced there were ghosts in the turret towers (that idea was probably more due to the Hardy Boys than to parental influence).”
But eventually the house warmed up to the King family, and it became their primary residence for many years. These days, however, King is barely a part time resident of the Victorian mansion at 47 West Broadway (find it on the Strange Destinations map) that he purchased in 1980. It seems he prefers the warmer weather of his Florida getaway.
What to do with the house back in Maine, then?
Well, as Rolling Stone reports, it is soon to be transformed into a Stephen King museum and writer’s retreat.
“On Wednesday night, the Bangor City Council unanimously approved a request by King and his wife Tabitha to rezone their home as a non-profit,” the article states, “allowing it to house an archive of King’s work (offering restricted visits by appointment) and up to five writers at a time.”
“The King Family has been wonderful to the City of Bangor over time and have donated literally millions of dollars to various causes in the community,” a city councilors told Rolling Stone. “Preserving his legacy here in Bangor is important for this community.”
Bangor history and myth was the inspiration for the fictional town of Derry in Stephen King’s novel IT, which drove his decision to live there.
“Oh my Lord, my Lord the stories you hear about this town — the streets fairly clang with them,” King wrote. “The problem isn’t finding them or ferreting them out; the problem is that old boozer’s problem of knowing when to stop. It’s entirely possible, I find, to overload completely on Bangor myth.”
The house, as well as other landmarks fans will recognize from the novel such as the Barrens and the Standpipe, are included in the Stephen King’s “Derry” tour.
Zombies: Not So Far From Reality
The subject of zombies is nothing new, but it has continued to increase in popularity as the decades have rolled by. These peculiar undead creatures have been the topic of countless movies, books, comics, video games and other bastions of pop culture for well over 80 years, but in more recent times, the advent of the Internet has brought with it an almost rabid obsession with zombie-related themes and memes.
There are groups of people who are literally training for an unsettling forthcoming event known as the “Zombie Apocalypse”, and others are becoming more convinced that the undead are actually among us in our everyday lives, lying in wait to attack us at any moment.
So what’s with all of this hype surrounding these ghoulish monsters? It’s a long story, but let’s start by defining what a zombie actually is.
The most popular working definition of a zombie is a half-dead (or, for the optimists, a “reanimated”) corpse that has an insatiable craving for human flesh, and human brains in particular. They are somehow suspended between the world of the dead and the world of the living, essentially unable to complete their passage into the unknown afterlife.
This would definitely be a frustrating prospect, so naturally zombies are not known to be friendly creatures. They are antagonistic to humans, and will cannibalize any living person on sight, presumably in an attempt to siphon whatever “life” they can get from them.
The concept of zombies has existed in one form or another for countless decades, but to really get to the root of the zombie phenomenon, we have to take a trip back to the voodoo-infused culture of 17th Century Haiti.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, Haiti was under French rule, and slaves were imported from West Africa to power the rapidly growing sugar trade in Haiti (then called Saint-Domingue) and other key locations in the New World.
Voodoo was heavily practiced by slaves as well as slave drivers during this time, and the mixture of superstition, mythology and occultism that accompanied the practice of voodoo gave rise to the idea of the zombie as a way to keep recalcitrant slaves from trying to escape or act out in rebellion against their masters.
In a recent New York Times op-ed piece, expert voodoo researcher Amy Wilentz provides further insight into this phenomenon:
“The only escape from the sugar plantations was death, which was seen as a return to Africa, or lan guinee (literally Guinea, or West Africa). This is a phrase in Haitian Creole that even now means heaven…The zombie is a dead person who cannot get across to lan guinee. This final rest–in green, leafy, heavenly Africa, with no sugarcane to cut and no master to appease or serve–is unavailable to the zombie. To become a zombie was the slave’s worst nightmare: to be dead and still a slave, an eternal field hand.”
Many of the slave drivers on the plantations were voodoo priests themselves, and they would threaten to “hex” or “curse” a slave with zombie-hood if they tried to escape or commit suicide. The prospect of dying but never escaping their oppressive conditions was a very real phenomenon that created somewhat of a mental prison for slaves, essentially coercing them to continue to endure their brutal existence.
During this time, the word “zombie” suggested an entity that had a body, but little else; a zombie was basically thought to be a shell of a person, a creature who could no longer be autonomous or self-aware, but was banished to live a primal, unthinking existence.
In the 1980s, an anthropologist named Wade Davis claimed to have discovered a powder that could essentially “zombify” a person, asserting that his discovery provided a scientific explanation for the various zombie legends that existed in various cultures that practiced voodoo.
This mysterious “zombie powder” was a highly potent neurotoxin known as tetrodotoxin, found in various species of animals including the highly poisonous pufferfish. Although Davis did not believe in voodoo or magic, he claimed to have infiltrated the secretive ranks of various voodoo priests (known as “bokors” or “houngan”), obtaining samples of various “zombie powders” for chemical analysis.
Davis later wrote a book about his experiences entitled “The Serpent and the Rainbow”, which recounted his investigation of the story of Clairvius Narcisse, a Haitian man who was allegedly poisoned with a combination of chemical substances that turned him into a zombie. Davis’s book was later adapted into a Wes Craven-directed horror film by the same name.
Cinema historians largely agree that the first full-length zombie movie ever created was a 1932 film entitled “White Zombie”, which was directed by brothers Edward and Victor Halperin and starred famed horror actor Bela Lugosi.
The movie depicts the experience of a young woman who was transformed into a zombie at the hands of a nefarious voodoo priest. While “White Zombie” received largely negative or lukewarm critical reviews upon its release, zombie enthusiasts now view the movie as an important model or archetype for all zombie movies that were to follow.
Of all the zombie-themed horror films that have been produced over the years, the release of George Romero’s classic 1968 film “Night of the Living Dead” was widely considered to be a watershed moment in the rise of the zombie phenomenon. Interestingly enough, the movie referred to the undead villains only as “ghouls”, but the word “zombies” caught on with the public, so the name stuck.
In popular culture, much attention is given to the ways in which zombies can be destroyed (e.g., gunshots, decapitation, fire, etc.), but in traditional Haitian folklore, the objective was actually to free a person from their zombified state if at all possible.
According to the tradition, one of the ways this could be done was to feed the zombie salt, which would then cause the will and soul of the zombie to return. The Haitian roots of zombie folklore have largely disappeared over time, and as big-budget zombie-themed Hollywood films and television shows have proliferated (and subsequently exploded in popularity), zombie invasions are now commonly set against dystopian or post-apocalyptic backdrops, and zombies are primarily depicted as imminent threats that cannot escape their undead state.
Several new variables that are present in our modern world (e.g., genetic modification, biological experiments, advanced chemical and nuclear weapons, etc.) have served as excellent fodder for zombie enthusiasts who are looking for the next big catalyst that could spark a large-scale zombie invasion.
While the existence of zombies has never been scientifically proven, the mystery and excitement surrounding the zombie phenomenon will provide fans of the undead with plenty of fuel for their imagination. Courtesy of the seemingly endless stream of zombie-related entertainment that has come out in recent years, zombie fans can now enjoy an invasion of the living dead any time they choose.
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