Cult of Weird Bookmarks Have Arrived

Limited edition Cult of Weird bookmarks feature exclusive collage art made with Victorian scientific illustrations of tentacles, anatomy and insects.
Cult of Weird Victorian illustration bookmarks

The first round of Cult of Weird bookmarks are in! The art is a collage of Victorian octopus, anatomy and insect illustrations printed on heavy, environmentally friendly 15pt card stock. I also made a limited number of bookmarks with brass scarab and raven skull pendants.

Get them while they last in the Cult of Weird shop.

The Year in Weird 2014

naia-ancient-skeleton

2014 was a great year for weird. It was filled with blinking mummies, lab-grown vaginas, archeological oddities, bizarre cases of seemingly casual cannibalism and other general madness running rampant in the news.

Here is a roundup of the most visited Cult of Weird posts of the year:

Mysteries Solved

This year saw the discovery of new evidence to answer questions about some of history’s most compelling mysteries.

Freak Show

The premier of the newest season of American Horror Story, centered around a 1950s circus sideshow, sparked a renewed interest in the real-life freaks woven fictitiously into the show’s storyline. Here are some of the most famous circus sideshow performers.

Giant Skeletons in America

The History Channel launched a new series called Search for the Lost Giants. It follows brothers Jim and Bill Vieira on a journey across the US to examine sites of supposed giant human skeleton discoveries. Jim received much ridicule for his presentation on the subject for TEDx in 2012. In the six episodes of the first season, there were some interesting leads, but ultimately nothing substantial. I’m hoping to see it return for a second season.

Slender Man Stabbing

In May of 2014, two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls lured their friend into the woods, where they stabbed her 19 times and left her for dead to earn favor with a fictional character named Slender Man. Both girls, who have been residing in the juvenile facility right here in my hometown of West Bend, WI, were deemed competent to stand trial in December. I wrote about this in my personal blog here: Slender Man Strikes in Wisconsin

Carl Akeley

We celebrated the 150th birthday of legendary taxidermist Carl Akeley, the man who pioneered the habitat diorama in Milwaukee and went on to create the Hall of African Mammals at New York’s American Museum of Natural History.

Under the Knife

Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris of The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice launched her new web series Under the Knife, a darkly humorous approach to the horrors of pre-anesthetic surgery.

Watch: Under the Knife: History of the Plague Doctor

Mummies

There was some interesting mummy news this year, including the virtual autopsy of Tutankhamen that revealed deformities and ailments in the boy king caused by inbreeding. Here are some other mummies that were popular this year:

Ouija

Ouija Board sales skyrocketed this year with the release of the Ouija movie. I didn’t waste money to see it in the theater, but it is surely more lame PG-13 horror drivel from Hollywood. But it was still a great time to talk about the mysterious history of the Ouija board.

Aliens

To the relief of heathen aliens across the galaxy, Pope Francis announced this year that, in the event we make contact with an alien race, he would happily baptize them. And there was much rejoicing.

Weird Books

Some great books were released this year, including Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Taxidermy Art by Robert Marbury and the Cult contributor J. Nathan Couch’s Goatman: Flesh or Folklore?

The Coffin of Lee Harvey Oswald

Apparently the coffin which once held the remains of John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald has taken on a weird life of it’s own. Oswald’s brother, who purchased the coffin for his funeral in 1963, wants to block the 2010 sale of the decrepit pine box he thought had been destroyed after a 1981 exhumation to prove the identity of the remains buried in his brother’s grave.

Read more: Court Battle Over the Coffin of Lee Harvey Oswald

Other Popular Posts and Weird News

Also, Cult of Weird being featured on an episode of Chris Hardwick’s @Midnight on Comedy Central was pretty damn cool: Nightmare at the Museum

What was your favorite weird news story of 2014?
Share it in the comments below.

Most Popular Weird Books of 2014

Taxidermy, cryptids, crematoriums and grotesque medical history: The Cult of Weird community rounds up the best weird books of 2014.
Best weird books of the year

This year I learned that the Cult of Weird community loves a good, macabre book as much as I do, which helped tremendously when it came time to gather suggestions for the Fall reading list.

This year Cult contributor J. Nathan Couch’s search for the elusive Goatman hit the shelves, along with mortician Caitlin Doughty’s tales from the crematory and Robert Marbury’s quintessential guide to taxidermy art.

Here are the top 10 books most sought after by the Cult in 2014:

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin DoughtySmoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory

Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty—a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre—took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes. Caring for dead bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, Caitlin soon becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. She describes how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes) and reveals the strange history of cremation and undertaking, marveling at bizarre and wonderful funeral practices from different cultures.

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Taxidermy Art: A Rogue's Guide to the Work, the Culture, and How to Do It YourselfTaxidermy Art: A Rogue’s Guide to the Work, the Culture, and How to Do It Yourself

In this collection of taxidermy art, you’ll find a winged monkey with a fez and a martini glass, a jewel-encrusted piglet, a bionic fawn, and a polar bear balancing on a floating refrigerator. Author Robert Marbury makes for a friendly (and often funny) guide, addressing the three big questions people have about taxidermy art: What is it all about? Can I see some examples? and How can I make my own? He takes readers through a brief history of taxidermy (and what sets artistic taxidermy apart) and presents stunning pieces from the most influential artists in the field. Rounding out the book are illustrated how-to lessons to get readers started on their own work, with sources for taxidermy materials and resources for the budding taxidermist.

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Mutter Museum Historic Medical PhotographsMutter Museum Historic Medical Photographs

The first book on the Mutter Museum contains artful images of the museum’s fascinating exhibits shot by contemporary fine art photographers. Here, the focus is on the museum’s archive of rare historic photographs, most of which have never been seen by the public. Featured are poignant, aesthetically accomplished works ranging from Civil War photographs showing injury and recovery, to the ravages of diseases not yet conquered in the 19th century, to pathological anomalies, to psychological disorders. Many were taken by talented photographers between the 1860s and the 1940s as records for physicians to share among colleagues and to track patients’ conditions, and demonstrate various techniques used in medical photography including the daguerreotype, micrography, X ray, and traditional portrait-style photography. As visual documents of what humans endured in the face of limited medical knowledge, these extraordinary and haunting photographs demonstrate how far medicine has advanced.

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Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the CatacombsHeavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs

Death has never looked so beautiful. The fully articulated skeleton of a female saint, dressed in an intricate costume of silk brocade and gold lace, withered fingers glittering with colorful rubies, emeralds, and pearls—this is only one of the specially photographed relics featured in Heavenly Bodies.

In 1578 news came of the discovery in Rome of a labyrinth of underground tombs, which were thought to hold the remains of thousands of early Christian martyrs. Skeletons of these supposed saints were subsequently sent to Catholic churches and religious houses in German-speaking Europe to replace holy relics that had been destroyed in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. The skeletons, known as “the catacomb saints,” were carefully reassembled, richly dressed in fantastic costumes, wigs, crowns, jewels, and armor, and posed in elaborate displays inside churches and shrines as reminders to the faithful of the heavenly treasures that awaited them after death.

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Rest in Pieces by Bess LovejoyRest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses

In the long run, we’re all dead. But for some of the most influential figures in history, death marked the start of a new adventure. The famous deceased have been stolen, burned, sold, pickled, frozen, stuffed, impersonated, and even filed away in a lawyer’s office. Their fingers, teeth, toes, arms, legs, skulls, hearts, lungs, and nether regions have embarked on voyages that crisscross the globe and stretch the imagination. Counterfeiters tried to steal Lincoln’s corpse. Einstein’s brain went on a cross-country road trip. And after Lord Horatio Nelson perished at Trafalgar, his sailors submerged him in brandy—which they drank. From Mozart to Hitler, Rest in Pieces connects the lives of the famous dead to the hilarious and horrifying adventures of their corpses, and traces the evolution of cultural attitudes toward death.

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Explore the legends and sightings of Goatman in the new book by J. Nathan CouchGoatman: Flesh or Folklore?

Legend says that all across America, a monster lives in the darkness. It lurks on the boundaries of suburbia mere miles from our homes. Huge, foul-smelling, and murderous, it has many regional names but most people refer to the creature by a simple, straightforward name – Goatman. Join author J. Nathan Couch as he explores the Goatman legends and sightings in search of the bizarre creature’s origins.

Named Best Weird Cryptid Book of 2014 by International Cryptozoology Museum founder Loren Coleman!

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Cabinets of WonderCabinets of Wonder

Skulls, butterflies, hunting trophies, ancient Egyptian artifacts, the alleged skeletons of mythological creatures, and many other mysterious oddities fill cabinets of wonder. A centuries-old tradition developed in Europe during the Renaissance, cabinets of wonder (also known as curiosity cabinets) are once again in fashion. Shops, restaurants, and private residences echo these cabinets in their interior design, by making use of the eclectic vintage objects commonly featured in such collections. Cabinets of Wonder showcases exceptional collections in homes and museums, with more than 180 photographs, while also explaining the history behind the tradition, the best-known collections, and the types of objects typically displayed. Offering both a historical overview and a look into contemporary interior design, this extravagantly illustrated book celebrates the wonderfully odd world of cabinets of wonder.

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Stop Worrying There Probably is an AfterlifeStop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife

Did Steve Jobs have a vision of the afterlife on his death-bed? Does quantum physics suggest that our mind might survive the physical death of our body? How do some near-death experiencers ‘see’ outside of their bodies at a time when they are supposed to be dead? In ‘Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife’, author Greg Taylor covers all these questions and more. From Victorian seance rooms through to modern scientific laboratories, Taylor surveys the fascinating history of research into the survival of human consciousness, and returns with a stunning conclusion: that maybe we should stop worrying so much about death, because there probably is an afterlife.

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Walter Potter's Curious World of TaxidermyWalter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy

Welcome to Victorian taxidermist Walter Potter’s fantasy world of rabbit schoolchildren, cigar-smoking squirrels and exemplary feline etiquette in Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy. Walter Potter (1835–1918), a British country taxidermist of no great expertise, built anthropomorphic taxidermy tableaux that became famous icons of Victorian whimsy, including his masterpiece The Death & Burial of Cock Robin. His tiny museum in Bramber, Sussex, was crammed full of multi-legged kittens, two-headed lambs, and a bewildering assortment of curios. Potter’s inspired and beguiling tableaux found many fans in the contemporary art world: it was reported that a £1M bid by Damien Hirst to keep the collection intact was refused when the museum finally closed. Here, perhaps for the last time, many important pieces from the collection are showcased and celebrated with new photographs of Potter’s best-loved works. Darkly witty and affecting, Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy makes a charming, whimsical (and yes, slightly morbid) gift.

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Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine 1880-1930Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine 1880-1930

From the advent of photography in the 19th and into the 20th century, medical students, often in secrecy, took photographs of themselves with the cadavers that they dissected: their first patients. Featuring 138 of these historic photographs and illuminating essays by two experts on the subject, Dissection reveals a startling piece of American history. Sherwin Nuland, MD, said this is “a truly unique and important book [that] documents a period in medical education in a way that is matched by no other existing contribution.” And Mary Roach said Dissection “is the most extraordinary book I have ever seen–the perfect coffee table book for all the households where I’d most like to be invited for coffee.”

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What books are you looking forward to reading in 2015?

Heather Benning’s Life-Size Dollhouse

Life-size dollhouse art installation by Heather Benning

Artist Heather Benning transformed an abandoned farmhouse in southwestern Manitoba into a life-size dollhouse. The 18-month process involved restoring and furnishing the house to represent the 1960s, the era when it was abandoned.

She then removed the north wall and replaced it with plexiglass.

Abandoned farmhouse transformed into a life-size dollhouse by Heather Benning

Abandoned farmhouse transformed into a life-size dollhouse by Heather Benning

Abandoned farmhouse transformed into a life-size dollhouse by Heather Benning

Abandoned farmhouse transformed into a life-size dollhouse by Heather Benning

The dollhouse stood for 6 years until, in March of 2013, Heather burned it to the ground.

Heather Benning's life-size dollhouse burns to the ground

More photos and info on Heather’s site right here: The Dollhouse

Goatman Named Best Weird Cryptid Book of 2014

Goatman: Flesh or Folklore? Best cryptozoology book of 2014

Congrats to Cult contributor J. Nathan Couch, whose latest work Goatman: Flesh or Folklore? has been named the Best Weird Cryptid Book of 2014 by International Cryptozoology Museum founder Loren Coleman! It’s great to see his hard work get the recognition it deserves by such a prominent figure in the study of mysterious creatures.

See what other books made the list: The Best Cryptozoology Books of 2014

Exclusive, signed copies of Goatman: Flesh or Folklore? are currently available in the Cult of Weird shop. Get your copy right here.