Friday, October 17, 2014

Government Run House of Horrors: Behold, the National Museum of Health and Medicine.

 Waring: Possible Graphic Content

Its the middle of October and I was trying to think about a spooky place to talk about in celebration of Halloween.  I have decided that today I will cover the most unsettling, disturbing, and frightening location I have ever been to.  The National Museum of Health and Medicine.

Okay, I admit, that does not SOUND very scary, but just you wait.  The unassumingly named Museum is government run and was formerly located on the campus of the historical Walter Reid Medical Center (It is now located in Maryland).

The thing about the Museum, is that its collection is nothing short ghoulish.  Its has more unsettling displays of the human body then the basement of a serial killer.   Seriously, all they need to do as dim the lights and it changes from a museum to a haunted house.

Upon entering we were greeted by this lovely character.

This monstrosity is a "Plague Doctor", these "Doctors" would treat people infected with plagues back in old timey times.  The "beak" is actually a primitive gas mask stuffed with straw and herbs, but that doesn't make it any less horrifying.

Now, I must say, the Museum has some genuine artifacts of massive historical importance, but even these are macabre.   Take a look at the bullet that killed Abraham Lincoln

Or even better:  Lincoln's Skull chunks.

The museum has an enormous collection of "teaching models", or wax models of human ailments.  Such as having gross soars all over your face.

Or having your face burned off.

Or this lovely display of "Rynopymia", said to be caused by excessive tobacco and alcohol consumption.

Here is a whole wall of facial injuries......

If that's not ghoulish enough, this museum has more babies in jars, or "pickled punks" then your average freak show

Now, the museum has an ENORMOUS collection of freak babies.  There are conjoined twins, babies without brains, and babies with mermaid syndrome.  And I'm sorry, but even I have to draw the line somewhere and am going to have to pass on posting pictures of them.

Let's move onto something a little less unsettling.........

Do you like Skeletons?  Meet Peter Cluckley.

Peter had a rare bone disorder where all his joints fused together, turning his body into its own horrifying prison.  This occurred in the early 1900s, so Peter did not have the sort of care he may have had today.  Peter spent twenty years with his bones locked in a sitting position propped up in a chair.  He front teeth were pulled out so he could be fed glop. 

Here is the skeleton of a dwarf.

And here is a Skelton Monster from the pits of hell.

Other popular attractions at the National Museum of Health and Medicine include the notorious "Arsenic Mummy".  A young Kentucky girl preserved in Arsenic during the Civil War.

She's still as beautiful as the day she died.

Here is a giant hairball removed from the stomach of a 12 year old girl who chewed on her hair.  It is still in the shape of the girl's stomach.

It creates a great teachable moment for parents and their hair-chewing daughters.

Let's end with their wonderful collection of body parts with Elephantiasis, they have a medicine ball sized scrotum.  And here is an Elephantiasis infected leg, lovingly lopped off and shoved in a jar.

I think we'll end there.  I have to go throw up.

The Carpetbagger

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fast Food Rainbows

While sifting through my old photos I realized that somehow I had managed to inadvertently amassed a mini-collection of pictures of rainbows in fast food parking lots.....

Here is Sonic......

Taco Bell.....

And Burger King.....

I now feel somewhat obligated to carry on with this collection.  I guess I will be hanging out at McDonald's after the next rain storm.

The Carpetbagger

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Land of Oz

Now, I am as big of a fan of Wizard of Oz as any straight man is allowed to be.  No matter how old I get, I can sit down and watch that movie all the way through and probably quote every line.

So, you can imagine how excited I was when I found out that there was a Wizard of Oz themed amusement park in North Carolina.

And then, you can probably imagine how disappointed I was when I found out it closed in 1980.

But then, you can imagine how excited I was when I found out that they actually open the park up for one weekend every year.

The Land of Oz existed from 1970-1980 and was insanely popular at the time of its opening.  Sadly, the park had a very quick decline, possibly by due to the fact that it is located in the absolute middle of nowhere in the tiny mountain town of Beech Mountain, NC.   The attraction is still technically there, but had been converted into a mountaintop sub-division.  You can actually rent out Dorothy's house for the weekend.  The property is still circled by the yellow brick road.

In 2008 we decided to check it out.  After driving hours through narrow mountain passes we finally arrived to find about a million and a half people waiting to visit the Land of Oz.

You see, while building theme parks on top of mountains was all the rage back in the day, it presents some logistical problems.  Like, how do you get all these people to the top?

After waiting for a good deal of time in line, our chariot arrived....

To bad they didn't have these scary Ski Lifts working.

At the top you are met by citizens of the Emerald City, who instruct you to get in line.

The Land of Oz is not exactly a traditional amusement park.  The original park only included one ride:  a sky lift style hot air balloon ride.  Unfortunately, it is no longer in operation.  Also, the show and shopping areas were destroyed in a fire.  The original park can be seen in this map I purchased at the festival (which now hangs on my office wall).

The Land of Oz is essentially a long decorative pathway with a series of meet-and-greets with Oz's characters.  The first being, the lovely Dorothy.

After meeting with Dorothy we head into her family farm, where costume characters such as this Miss Gulch pose for pictures........

There is also bluegrass music being played, as is the custom for every southern event.

There is a barn containing some surprisingly valuable artifacts of American Cinema.....

As well as some artifacts from the old park.....

You start your journey into the Land of Oz by entering Dorothy's house, seen here behind another Miss Gulch.

You walk into Dorothy's quaint little home, which appears to be your average ordinary farm house.  Then you walk down to the storm cellar and into the "Tornado Room".

The room is full of black light murals, strobe lights and tornadic sound effects.  Also, there is this horrifying effigy of Miss Gulch.

After emerging from the Tornado Room you find the same cottage you had walked through before, but it they are now in disarray from being in the Tornado.

Stepping out of Dorothy's house you are greeted by the iconic legs of the Wicked Witch of the East.....

This is accompanied by the Munchkin Coroner singing his famous song....

Now, we begin our trek down the Yellow Brick Road.
The trail is decorated with some fiberglass mushrooms.....

Some munchkin homes.....

And some super creepy faces affixed to actual trees.......

How would you like it if someone came and picked something off of you?

By the way, let's see how the trees appear on the map.....

You start walk along the yellow brick road and meet up with the iconic characters, such as Professor Marvel (who technically should not be in Oz)....

The Scarecrow......

The Tin Man.....

And the Cowardly Lion.....

One thing that always bothered me about the movie: The Scarecrow had no brains, yet he didn't need them because he was the smartest, The Tin Man had no heart, yet he didn't need it because he was the most passionate and loyal.  However, the Cowardly Lion didn't have any courage....and he really didn't:  He was afraid of everything and never showed any bravery.

That takes us to Glenda the Good Witch.  Here she is posing, with what appears to be Jerry Garcia.

Funny thing about Jerry there.  Ever sense we saw him here at the Land of Oz and stole this photo of him, he mysteriously has appeared and virtually every event we attend in the region.  We have spotted him at the Asheville Drum Circle, The Burlesque Festival and the Mardi Gras Parade.

After braving Flying Monkeys.....

And chanting Winkie guards.....

The yellow brick road eventually took us to the dreaded Witches Castle.....


Where the Wicked Witch of the West puts in an appearance......

And does what she does best:  Terrify children.

Your journey finally takes you to the grand finale:  Oz, the Great and Powerful.  Portrayed by a giant fiberglass head.

Just make sure to pay not attention to the man behind the curtain.

Then of course you get a chance to get your photo taken with the whole crew.

Now, let's end things proper, with this amazing clip of the ORIGINAL 1910 film, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. 

The Carpetbagger

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