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The Mad Monk: Rasputin

The Mad Monk:Rasputin

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In this chapter we are going to discuss a Holy man and supposed healer from Russia, yea I know it sounds boring, but hear me out. This holy man is not your average praying type, lying prostrate at the foot of a cross or something, this holy man is a drunk womanizer who, quite literally, caused one of the largest political overthrows in world history.

For roughly 400 years from 1600 to the early 1900s, Russia was ruled by one dynasty, the Romanovs. The lineage of Czars had many impressive leaders and forgettable ones, but everyone remembers the last Czar of Russia, Czar Nicholas II. Nicholas and his wife Alexandria were happily married and had four daughters and one son, the heir to the Russian Throne, Alexei. Alexei was a sickly boy and spent much of his childhood seriously ill from hemophilia which is a disorder where the blood does not clot properly, meaning the smallest injury can lead to massive blood loss. Throughout his young life, Alexei had many scrapes with death that left his mother and father in constant fear for their son and the fate of the Romanov dynasty.

Czarina Alexandria was always looking for people to help with her son’s condition, and in 1906, she had a chance meeting with a Holy Man from Siberia, Grigori Rasputin. Rasputin was an intimidating figure, tall, with dark piercing eyes, Rasputin was a renown healer throughout the country and was in St. Petersburg to meet well-connected individuals. The Czar and Czarina meet the Holy Man and eventually get to talking about Alexei, and soon after that Rasputin becomes the de facto healer to the Romanov family.

Rasputin held power over the Royal couple because it truly seemed like he could heal Alexei. On one occasion in 1912, Alexei was injured in a carriage accident and was near death for days. In desperate need of help, the Czarina telegraphed Rasputin who was away in Siberia, through telegram, the healer told the Czarina what to do and to have the doctors leave the young boy alone. Within days, the boy went from near death, to perfectly fine. Historians have debated and attempted to figure out what exactly happened with Alexei, but it remains a mystery.

What isn’t a mystery though was the power that Rasputin held over the Royal family, they listened to everything he said. This was dangerous because Rasputin was not everything he claimed to be, while he professed holy devotion, his favorite past times were drinking himself into a drunken stupor and sleeping with as many women as he could. His actions around the city caused massive amounts of embarrassment for the Royal Couple, and many times they had a falling out with Rasputin.

After the outbreak of World War I, the Czar turned to Rasputin for guidance, with Rasputin telling the Czar to go to the front and take command. While the Czar was gone, the Czarina allowed Rasputin to make monumental decisions of national importance on her behalf. This was the final straw for many in Russia, and soon three prominent men decided to kill Rasputin. Prince Felix Yusupov invited Rasputin over to his house for wine, food and womanizing one night. The Prince gave Rasputin cakes and wine laced with cyanide, with Rasputin eating three cakes and drinking three glasses of wine.

The cyanide food did nothing do the holy man, which freaked out the three men waiting for him to die. Eventually, the Prince shoots Rasputin point-blank in the chest and runs out of the house. Hours later the three men return and walk down the stairs to the basement where Rasputin’s body was. As the Prince walked in, Rasputin jumped off the floor and attacked him, running up the stairs and out the front door.

This is bonkers stuff here, this crazy healer has had six servings of cyanide and a bullet to the chest with no damage done, he is like the final boss on those hard as hell video games I played as a kid. Well, finally the three killers chase down Rasputin in front of the house, and shoot him in the head, ultimately killing the raging priest. With Rasputin dead, attention turned to the Royal Family and their failure to rule decisively and adequately during the World War. Eventually, all the distrust with the Czar and Czarina led to the Bolshevik Revolution and the execution of the entire Royal Family. The fall of the last dynasty in Russia, and the rise of the Communist regime, all began over the distrust of a crazy holy man and the family he served.

Spanish Conquest of the Aztecs

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Staff Writer J.D. Perry

The Spanish-Aztec War. The Fall of an Empire.

Throughout history, we see empires rise and fall, and often we find out there are multiple contributing factors.

Today we’ll talk a bit about The Spanish-Aztec War also known as The Spanish Conquest of the Aztec Empire, the actual war spanned just two years (1519-1521) when Spanish Conquistadors led by Hernán Cortés with enemies of the Aztec Empire bolstering their ranks fought and defeated the Aztecs and marked the end of the Aztec Empire and the eventual Spanish conquest of the entirety of Mesoamerica.

A fair number of the men that accompanied Cortés on his expedition to conquer the Aztec Empire had never even seen real combat before including Cortés himself, knowing this he spent some time forging alliances with political rivals and rebelling states of the Aztec Empire to bolster the Spanish army’s numbers the Spanish’s success in these negotiations was aided greatly by a multilingual (Nahuatl a Maya dialect and Spanish) slave woman the Conquistadors called Doña Marina.

Somehow, the Aztecs managed to hold out for 2 years scoring actual victories against the Spanish in a few skirmishes despite being outmatched heavily in regards to equipment, the Aztecs didn’t have metal armor, and weapons like the Spanish did, the Aztecs fought with clubs of wood lined with sharpened Obsidian known as Macuahuitl, bows and arrows and a weapon known as Atlatl used to throw spears and darts, shields made of reeds and cloth armor. Yes, CLOTH ARMOR

If you’re a gamer like me, your thoughts may be drifting to that harrowing moment in games like Final Fantasy where you stumble onto the games the first boss a dragon or heavily armored knight and you’re still in rags with a wooden sword and rare healing items.

Cortés and the Spaniards and allies after months of battles and negotiations finally entered the capital city of Tenochtitlan on November 8, 1519; he later left with a division of soldiers to deal with another Spanish expedition that was sent to arrest Cortés for insubordination leaving his right-hand man Pedro de Alvarado in charge.

Cortés defeated Pánfilo de Narváez’s expedition and told the defeated soldiers about the riches of Tenochtitlan they agreed to join him and they made their way back to the city.

Alvarado allowed a huge feast to take place on May 22nd, 1520 a large number of nobles attended the sounds of a feast and jolly good times was soon replaced with the sounds of a massacre, yes this was the date of what came to be known as the Alvarado Massacre, the Spanish slaughtered the Aztec Nobels this incited rebellion in the citizens of the city, a slaughter of Aztec Nobility taking place in the main temple of their capital city by these Spanish invaders must have been quite the offense.

Accounts vary on what exactly happened next, but Aztec ruler Moctezuma II was killed, some say he was killed by a projectile of some sort while trying to give a speech to calm the people down but they were done with him they saw him as nothing more than a puppet of the Spanish invaders. Indigenous accounts say the Spanish killed him.

Cortés returned to the city on June 20th, 1520 (La Noche Triste or The Night of Sorrows) and managed to pull his men out of the city and after a few weeks on the run fighting off pursuing Aztecs managing to kill a commander they arrived at the safety of the allied Tlaxcala.

Cortés spent the next year licking wounds and eventually marching back to the city of Tenochtitlan over the Summer of 1521 the final year of the war the Aztecs battered and weakened by war, disease, and famine could not hold and surrendered. The capital city fell, and the Spanish sacked and tore down the city establishing a firm foothold to launch further campaigns to take over the rest of Mesoamerica, they dubbed the former Aztec capital, Mexico City.

Yes, the capital of the Aztec Empire stood on what is now known as Mexico City.

Imagine visiting or being a resident of Mexico City nowadays, people going about their lives not knowing or caring that on the ground they walk on today a mighty empire once stood.

After the fall of the empire Aztec leadership changed to Spanish, the Spanish tried to convert the defeated Aztecs into Catholics and made them act like Spanish people.

The Aztec nobles were allowed to become Spanish nobles to make the change from Aztec to Spanish rule easier.

Allies of the Spanish were granted gifts including Aztec slaves that they treated like something less than the dirt they eventually switched to African slaves which were treated even worse.

These slaves were not just working the farmland but the discovery of Silver in them there hills sent the Spanish into a frenzy, and they had these slaves work the silver mines.

Today, not much remains of the Aztecs, there are still people that hold traditional Aztec ceremonies dressed in appropriate garb but its a mere shadow of its former self, throughout history empires, rise and empires fall, and you have to ask yourself will that happen to us?

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The Great Pestilance

The Great Pestilence

By Sherry Michaels Perry

In the mid-1300’s a devastating plague raged across Europe, leaving millions dead. There was no treatment, and superstition and panic held sway over the helpless population. This was the Bubonic Plague or the Black Death, also known as, The Great Pestilence. It spread quickly and caused rapid death; a person could go to bed healthy and be found in their bed the next morning covered with boils that leaked pus and blood and be quite dead.
Pope Gregory IX and his superstitions generated a substantial contributing factor to this plague. During the latter part of the 12 the century Pope Gregory decided that cats were evil and associated with witchcraft and the devil. So in his infinite wisdom, he ordered the mass execution of any cats which ultimately lead to the overpopulation of rats and their fleas. And rats love to hang out at the pier and climb aboard ships looking for food, and so it began.
In October of the year of Our Lord 1314 twelve ships docked at the Sicilian port of Messina. The caused much excitement and the townspeople flocked to the pier to see what delights the vessel must surely hold. Imagine their horror when they realized that most of the sailors on the ships were dead, and the few remaining were covered with boils seeping pus and blood. The authorities immediately ordered the vessel away from the docks, but it was too little too late. For even though flea and rat bite spread the Black Death, it was also airborne and highly contagious. And so it began and over the course of the next five years 20 million Europeans died, over 1/3 of the population. By the early 1340’s it had already spread to China, India, Persia, Syria, and Egypt.
The panic was real. No one knew at that time how it spread and no one knew how to stop it. According to history.com, a doctor was quoted as saying “instantaneous death occurs when the aerial spirit escaping from the eyes of the sick man strikes the healthy person standing near and looking at the sick.” Doctors at first tried to treat the disease by bloodletting, lancing the boils, which caused even more problems in the unsanitary conditions and burning aromatic herbs. The suggested bathing in vinegar and rosewater to ward off the disease.
Doctors eventually began refusing to get near the sick, priests would refuse to perform last rites, shopkeepers were closed, and no one could obtain any supplies they needed to care for the sick. Families eventually fled to the countryside, leaving their sick behind to die, but succeeded only in taking it with them and the cows, sheep, goats, pigs, and chickens sickened and disappeared from the disease. This incidentally led to a considerable wool shortage throughout Europe.
Being that they were a superstitious society, people began to believe that the plague was Gods punishment so this led to a purge of who was thought to be heretics and troublemakers, the Jews. Between 1348 and 1349 thousands of Jews were slaughtered, forcing them to seek asylum in other countries. Since killing the Jews didn’t work and the doctors were useless, men of the upper class became “flagellants” and traveled from town to town performing public displays of penance and punishment. They would beat themselves and others with a device similar to a “cat-o-nine tails,” heavy straps of leather studded with sharp metal. They did this for 33 days three times daily until the Pope decided it was taking attention away from him and the church and he put a stop to it.
The plague had pretty much run its course by 1350, and the cases slowly dwindled down, rearing its ugly head every few generations, but never to the extent of the first plague. Modern sanitation and public health practices brought about this change. At the end of the 19th century Alexander Yersin, a French biologist isolated and identified the bacillus Yersinia Pestis as the culprit. There are no effective vaccines, but it can now be treated with streptomycin and doxycycline. It is predominately seen in Africa these days.
Interestingly enough, many economists believe that the plague was a turning point for the European economic development because there was such an intense need for workers that wages were increased. It’s sad that it took millions of deaths to bring that about.

Aztec Sacrifices

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Staff Writer: J. Perry

Why The Aztecs Cut Out Human Hearts

What would you do to ensure a good crop yield? Fertilize the soil and water, ensure no pests gobble them up and rip up any pesky weeds?

What if I were to tell you some folks would rip out your heart and offer it to their Gods so that the crops do well?

Enter the Aztecs; they believed they owed everything to the gods who created them as well the world around them.

The Aztecs didn’t break any ground by performing such acts; they were just another in a long tradition of human sacrifice in Mesoamerica.

They would perform ritual sacrifices to ensure good crop yield, good weather, or just in honor of the Gods.

Now you’re probably thinking “but wait why to do something so disgusting to appease the Gods?” This most likely goes back to the Aztec “Legend of the Five Suns” wherein the Gods sacrificed themselves so that humanity could live.

So it’s not a stretch to think the Aztecs felt they were indebted to the Gods for their sacrifice and thus only thought it right to give back to them.

Animal sacrifice and Self-Sacrifice were also quite prevalent for example, the Cult of Quetzalcoatl required the sacrifice of butterflies and hummingbirds, and they bred Dogs, Jaguars, Deer, and Eagles for slaughter. (I hope all dogs go to Heaven.)

The Self-Sacrifice consisted of offering the thorns of an Agave Plant tainted with the persons own blood, blood from the earlobes and even genitals! (That’s going to be a NO from me dog…)

This may sound crazy to we modern folks, but the Aztecs truly believed that the offering of human and animal blood was the best way to repay the Gods they revered so profoundly.

These offerings were not always outright slayings sometimes they would just cut themselves and offer the shed blood to the gods.

Archaeologists estimate that a few thousand people were sacrificed each year, some members of the Aztec community, some prisoners of war.

The Aztecs would capture enemies in battle, and take them back to their temples where the soldiers were forced to ascend the long stairways to be sacrificed by being cut open throat to the stomach by a Priest and the heart removed as an offering.

the bodies were then pushed down to stairs to be dismembered or simply carried off depending on the ritual.

The Aztecs were not the only people to practice human sacrifice; it was practiced by many across the world as a way to appease the gods and avoid disaster, or other reasons.

But no amount of sacrifice could save the Aztecs from the Spaniards. We all know how that turned out.

Top 3 ways you know you are shopping out of your price range.

Most people enjoy shopping from time to time, I know a few of my male readers will exclaim to the contrary, but even guys like to go shopping for stuff they want. Recently, my wife and I were on a trip out of town and asked the girl at our hotel where was a beautiful place to shop, little did we know that little Mrs. Reception Desk either has rich parents or this hotel pays better than the State of West Virginia. So here are the top ways you can tell that you have entered a shopping center you couldn’t afford in a million years.

1. They offer you bottled water- Ok guys, red flag #1. If the store you enter cares enough about perception and image that they have ready bottled water for a shopper, just turn right around, disengage eye-contact and leave the store immediately. Amy and I are accustomed to outlet shopping which takes place in stores where you are lucky if the merchandise is currently on the racks. People come through like hurricanes and move shit around where you can’t find anything. If the store is in immaculate shape, and the hipster behind the counter approaches you with water, your wallet can’t handle this place.

2. They have to “explain” how their store works- O shit! This was a new one to me, I was walking around this shopping center and came upon a store that looked pretty cool, it had old-school button up shirts that I like and colorful prints. So Amy and I thought that it wouldn’t hurt to take a look, I walk into the store and 19 year old behind the counter immediately makes eye-contact with me, which I hate because I like to at least see 2 price tags immediately entering any store, that way I can leave and act like I have a poop emergency or that I never really entered the store, it was all a figment of their imagination. Well, sadly for me, I was approached by this kid, and immediately he begins explaining to me how his store “works.” I wanted to lecture the kid that I have a degree in social studies which includes economics, so I know the basic principles of supply, demand, paying for goods, shit like that, but he continues!!! Like kid, shut up and let me leave! But no!!!! The kid explains that the store only has one…ONE, of each of their items they sale. You are to look at their goods, pick what you like, then place an order at the store, the store then sends you the items in the mail. Ummm, in my world that’s called Amazon.
3. The worker immediately wants to talk about the history of the store- Again, I walk into these stores looking at price tags only. I saw a sign that said “all sports coats 50% off”, I was overjoyed for a moment, until I walked into the store. You see, when something if half off of a thousand dollars that still puts it out of my price range, but the guy behind the counter continued to talk about, literally, every piece of clothing in the small store. He brought down the jackets, showed me the hand stitching…you know the drill. I was trapped!! It was like I was the first human this little tailor had seen in five years and he just wanted to show me his over-priced wares.

County Fair and Amusement Park People Watching!

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My God, I love summer! The long, cold months are long gone, and the desire of the people to get out of their houses has reached a fever pitch. As a devout people watcher, there is no better time to ply my trade; it is in the summer that a unique opportunity arises for me, I gain the ability to see the human experience, in full, within the confines of my local theme park or county fair. If you aren’t an obsessive people watcher like myself you may underestimate the power of the county fair, it is the beacon to all. People from far and wide converge to the death trap rides and week-old hotdogs. There is no better place to get my people of people watching than my local amusement park, Camden Park. For the uninitiated, I wanted to compile a list of the species one will encounter on their next trip to their local fairgrounds, so without further ado, let’s fire up the carousel and the shitty cover bands and dive into the people of the county fair.

Species 1- The exasperated parent
Uniform- cargo shorts, sun hats, t-shirt with puke stain, Dad Bod, New Balance Shoes. Kangeroo Pouches.

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I thought I would start with my own species. I love watching parents like myself slowly dive deeper into insanity. We begin with the best of intentions, our kids love riding these shitty rides and who are we to deny our children the pure joy of driving a pretend car around a circuit for 45 seconds? I want you all that are not members of my species to understand something; we once felt joy. I was once a really fun person to be around, at least people seemed to enjoy my company, but now I am just an asshole. It’s not my fault, it’s my kids’ fault, sometime around question number 3,485 of the trip, I lose my cool and wear a constant scowl for the rest of the day. We spend our entire trip stopping our kids from running away, from getting on rides before their turn, from exiting rides while they are moving, hell you get the point. The poor moms of this species have it just as bad or worse; they are carrying their infants in those terribly hot kangeroo things that take away all their dignity, if they are breastfeeding they try and find a place to feed their little leeches without Jim Bob lookin’ at her tits, it’s just awful. So the next time you check out your local fair or amusement park, have a stiff drink for us, and remember, this will soon be you.

Species 2- The Hollar Folk
Uniform- Shorts that are either three sizes too small or big, wife beater (male tank top), cheek full of chaw (man or woman, they don’t give a shit), 563 kids in tow.

hey you guys

O yes! One of my very favorite species, the hollar folk. You know the crowd, they heard on the local news that the fair was having a buy one get one ticket after five p.m. on Saturday night and they planned their entire week around the event. They have pulled the collective buying power of three different government checks and plan of blowing it on an orgy or corndogs, scrambler rides, and cotton candy. These people are the easiest to spot, the males of the species are usually wearing a basketball jersey that is a decade out of date or is just wearing a tank top, the women are less clothed usually, sending out their mating call for all to see. Somehow these folk have more kids than species 1, but they aren’t stressed about them, they hand em a buck or two and let em loose on the world. Carefree and having a big ol time, this species is entirely oblivious to the dangers of the scrambler and are usually the ones asked to leave for retrieving their Exxon brand sunglasses while the ride is in motion.

Species 3- The Young Lovers
Uniform- girls are wearing either short shorts, skirts or ripped jeans that make their thighs look like the latticework on an apple pie. Males are wearing an affliction shirt, like 99% of the time. Victoria’s secret perfume is in massive quantities, and Axe Bodyspray sets the tone against the sweating hormones.

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If you think the hollar folk are fun to watch, wait until you roll up in line behind the young lovers. Waiting in lines are a fact of carnival life and the people you are stuck next to play a significant role in the enjoyment you can gain from the process. I am ALWAYS pumped when I see the young lovers in line with me because I know I can pass many minutes laughing internally at their drive of human endeavor. The yeasty heat coming off of the young couple is palpable, the young lady has seductively left just one bra strap showing from under her spaghetti strap shirt, and it has left the male of the species absolutely at a loss, his mind is racing! Once she climbs the railing of the line, and the boy moves in, the game is afoot! Try and pry your eyes away from the young hound attempting to move in for the kill, while the girl plays coy, it’s hilarious. Neither one of them have a clue what the hell they are doing, but they are in love, give em a break.

Species 4- the Carnie

Uniform- Camden Park Shirt, shorts, Nascar Hat, Neck Tattoo


I love the Carnies, they make the rides move and somehow don’t kill us. All they want is to get off of work, grab a beer with their fellow carnies and watch Impractical Jokers or facetime with their hot babe working at another county fair. These guys are easy to spot; their prison tattoos are easily visible either on their neck or the unfilled teardrop, the fair won’t hire folks with the teardrop colored in. They send your children spinning into oblivion on rides such as the “gut crusher” and “the scrambler,” and it’s their god damned fault your kid pukes on the way home. It’s their way of paying you back for letting your kid talk shit to them; I guess we deserve it.

There are many other species of folks at the carnival, but this essential guide will get you out and people watching in no time!

Urban Legends: The Phantom Hitchhiker

As a fan of ghosts and urban legends, there is nothing more interesting than studying how far and wide a story can spread, what changes over the tellings and the differences from each other. One of the most well-known urban legends is the story of the vanishing hitchhiker, and what inspired me to write this article is the fact that five minutes from my home, there is a purported haunted stretch of road where a distraught woman hitches a ride. The story is almost identical from all around the world; a driver is stunned to see a young woman crying on the side of the road, the driver pulls over, offers the young woman a ride. The woman is so thankful, the driver is believed to have helped but notices his car has gotten a tad chilly all of a sudden. He asks the woman where she is headed; she gives the address and the two drive off before they can reach the destination, the driver looks over to break the awkward silence and, before his eyes, the young woman vanishes. The ghost that inspired my writing is called the Fifth Street Hill Ghost of Huntington, West Virginia, and her story has been around for as long as I have been alive. A quick google search has almost identical stories from England, Switzerland, California, and Tennessee. One of the genuinely great urban legends, be sure to watch the side of the road the next time you drive through a massive rain storm on your local haunted highway!Phantom-Hitchhiker

Book Review: The Devil’s Workshop by Alex Grecian

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Alex Grecian knocked this out of the ballpark. As a huge fan of his first novel, The Yard, I was extremely disappointed in his second book about the Murder Squad, the Black Country. I was honestly worried he was a one-hit wonder, but I decided to reach book three to see if it was just a bad book in the series, and I’m so glad I did! Book three gets back to the gritty roots of what made Grecian’s writing so great. Saucy Jack is now on the loose and his writing and story-weaving revolving around the most notorious killer in London’s history is amazing.