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Séance Fiction: Vintage ‘ghostly’ photos of ‘con artist’ spiritualist medium at work
10:06 am



There are at least two unacknowledged prerequisites for a successful career as a spiritualist medium. Firstly, the ability to “deep throat”—essential for hiding the yards of cheesecloth, newspapers and other materials the medium will regurgitate during a séance as “ectoplasm.”  And the iron discipline not to laugh—no matter how ridiculous the situation.

Eva Carrière was adept at both and had a successful though highly controversial career as a spiritualist medium at the turn of the 1900s. Carrière was so convincing she managed to expunge any reference from her biography to her previous attempt at a career as a medium—which led her to be exposed in the press as a fraud.

This was in 1905 when Carrière first exhibited her psychic powers in Algiers. She gained considerable attention for her ability to apparently make the spirit of a 300-year-old Brahmin Hindu called Bien Boa appear at her séances. Bien Boa was exposed by a local newspaper to be no more than a cardboard cutout and an Arab coachman named Areski. To avoid the ensuing bad publicity, Carrière merely changed her name to “Eva C” which (somehow) worked and she was able to re-established herself as a highly respected medium whose believers included Sherlock Holmes author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the renowned psychic researcher Baron Albert von Schrenck-Notzing. Of course, not everyone was so easily fooled. Harry Houdini described Carrière as a con artist—claiming her whole act was no more than cheap theatrical magic tricks.

In a bid to prove the authenticity of Carrière’s psychic powers, Baron von Schrenck-Notzing documented a series of test séances between 1909-1913. The results were eventually published in his book Phenomena of Materialisation in 1923. The Baron’s photographs of these sessions purported to show Carrière expelling ectoplasm and causing spirits to “materialise.”

Carrière’s séances were said to verge on the pornographic. She often stripped naked and demanded the participants insert their fingers into her vagina to ensure no ectoplasm or other materials had been hidden there. A similar examination was offered after each séance, but as the Public Domain Review notes:

Whether the audience members were obliging is up for debate, but reports that Carrière would run around the séance room naked indulging in sexual activities with her audience suggests perhaps so. One can imagine that this deliberate eroticisation of the male audience might go some way to explaining the ease with which these “investigators” believed the psychic reality of the seances. A decision of fraud on their part would distance their involvement somewhat from the special and heightened context of the séances and so cast their complicity in, or at the least witnessing of, sexual activities in the sober (and more judgemental) cold light of day.

When “spiritualist debunker” Harry Price examined Schrenk-Notzing’s photographs of Carrière’s alleged psychic powers, he dismissed them as tawdry fakes and denounced Carrière as a fraud. He also suggested the images of spirit faces were photographs clipped from newspapers. This was to prove a moot point.

In 1920 Eric Dingwall with V. J. Woolley of the Society for Psychical Research in London, investigated Carrière’s claims. An analysis of her “ectoplasm” was shown to be nothing more than “chewed paper.” The ghostly apparitions were photographs from the magazine Le Miroir—whose masthead was often visible in Schrenk-Notzing’s photographs.

Back issues of the magazine matched some of Carrière’s ectoplasm faces, including Woodrow Wilson, King Ferdinand of Bulgaria and the French president Raymond Poincaré. This is something Schrenk-Notzing tries to address in his book, but with not much success. A 1913 newspaper article explained how “Miss Eva prepared the heads before every séance, and endeavoured to make them unrecognizable. A clean-shaven face was decorated with a beard. Grey hairs became black curls, a broad forehead was made into a narrow one. But, in spite of all her endeavours, she could not obliterate certain characteristic lines.”

The Society for Psychical Research’s report proved Carrière was a fraud. However, it was covered up thus allowing Eva Carrière and her supporters like Baron Schrenk-Notzing to claim her psychic powers were genuine.
March 13th, 1911.
June 7th, 1911.

Many more of the Baron’s photos of ‘ectoplasm’ and ‘ghosts’ from Eva Carrière’s séances, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Woman bitches-out Easter Bunny in church parking lot—then things get REALLY weird
11:40 am



Honestly, I have no freakin’ clue what’s going on here or why this woman felt compelled to bitch-out a welcoming Easter Bunny. But she did. And it deserves to be here on Dangerous Minds.

It’s not her first appearance here, though, it’s her third. She’s Christine Weick, the same Christian wingnut activist (prophet?) who was promoting that obviously true Monster Energy drink satanic conspiracy theory back in 2014. She also went nutso at a Muslim prayer event held in the National Cathedral not long after that and you may recall when she got a Slushie thrown in her face in front of a news crew on Mother’s Day as she held a sign reading, “Thank your mom today for not being gay!”

Weick, who admits to living out of her car, has authored the book Explain This! A Verse by Verse Explanation of the Book of Revelation.

God “speaks” to Christine Weick, if you know what I mean…and I think you do.

I like the part towards the end when her lil’ sidekick and partner-in-crime yells, “Hugh Hefner!” The whole thing is just… too surreal.

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Holy weed: Nuns who grow pot
10:44 am

Pop Culture


Meet California-based Sister Kate and Sister Darcy, who grow, cultivate and harvest medicinal marijuana. The nuns label their medicinal remedies with their moniker The Sisters of the Valley. The Sisters—who consider themselves nuns but who are not Catholic or traditionally religious—prepare their remedies observing the cycles of the moon and “in a spiritual environment.” 

Photographers Shaughn Crawford and John DuBois captured the daily life of these nuns and their glorious-looking grow.

For more information about The Sisters of the Valley, you can visit their Facebook page here.



More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Inexplicably compelling (and just plain weird) Jesus paintings
08:49 am



Wall Street Jesus makin’ a deal…
You may have already seen a few of these paintings by artist and Jesus-enthusiast, Nathan Greene. I recall seeing some of these paintings a couple of years ago on the Internet and being completely confused by them and yet, not being able to look away!  They’re strangely compelling, right?

Nathan’s paintings don’t come cheap, costing upwards of $1,495. Thankfully, there are prints available at more affordable prices.

There’s an entire gallery here if you’d like to take a gander at even more.

Adam and Eve? Or is it Jon Hamm and Mila Kunis?

Jesus jokes with a little girl: “I tawt I taw a puddy tat.”
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Stunning mosque ceilings highlight the intricate beauty of Islamic architecture
01:19 pm



Fatima Masumeh Shrine, Qom, Iran
There are really no words to describe the beautiful intricate geometric forms and explosion of colors found on mosque ceilings found in the Arab world and elsewhere. But why bother trying to describe such totally mind-melting eye candy, anyway? I’m left speechless. Just look…

If you’re interested in a high resolution of any of these photos, you can download ‘em here.

Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque, Shiraz, Iran

Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque, Shiraz, Iran

Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque, Shiraz, Iran

Vakil Mosque, Shiraz
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Help atheist group troll Noah’s Ark ‘genocide and incest’-themed water park

In July, the $101 million “Ark Encounter” water park will open in Kentucky and now a group calling themselves the Tri-State Freethinkers—representing exasperated non-believers in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana—are seeking to raise some money in order to put up billboards trolling the Creationist-themed amusement park.  The Ark Encounter destination is specifically a water park based on the myth of Noah’s Ark. The park, created by a consortium of investors headed by creationist Ken Ham—the hapless silly person who debated Bill Nye—and his “Answers in Genesis” group, includes a 510-ft model of Noah’s Ark and an interactive teaching exhibit that er… uh… “teaches” the rather silly notion that it was in fact the Great Flood which separated the world’s continents.

On their Indiegogo page, the Tri-State Freethinkers write:

“They are portraying the story of Noah’s Ark as an actual historical event. This is scientifically not possible.”

Ye of little faith continue:

“The park celebrates a biblical parable of genocide and incest. While they have a legal right to celebrate their mythology, we find it immoral and highly inappropriate as family entertainment.”

Tax-supported family entertainment to boot. I wonder if they’ve hired any Muslims? Might there be a single Jew working at the Ark Encounter?

If you donate just $500 you can be pictured on the Tri-State Freethinkers’ billboard yourself “drowning” under the Ark. You’ll also get a rain poncho. just in case God gets angry with you. You never know when Biblical retribution will occur.

The first $2,000 raised by the campaign—which they have done already—will go toward setting up a single small billboard for a month. If they’re able to raise $6,000, the group will be able to mount six small billboards or one big one along an interstate highway.

If they are able to raise $150 million, the Tri-State Freethinkers say “we will build our very own Genocide & Incest Park.” The group, which has over 1300 members, are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so your donations are tax-deductible.

There’s a short video explaining the “Genocide and Incest Park” campaign, after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Bizarre and beautiful Japanese prints depicting the giant catfish who causes earthquakes
01:01 pm



While most catfish are harmless—well, apart from the ones that sting—in Japanese mythology giant catfish were believed to be the cause of earthquakes. These giant Namazu (鯰) lived in the mud under Japan. They were guarded by the god of thunder Kashima who kept them in check with a large stone. Of course, it didn’t always work. And when the catfish escaped, it thrashed freely in the waters causing the most terrible earthquakes.

This belief became very popular after the Great Ansei earthquake on November 11th, 1855. The earthquake struck near Edo (Tokyo) with a magnitude of 7.0. The quake caused a tsunami. Seven thousand people were killed.

In the aftermath, the catfish or namazu was feared and worshipped. Prints of this giant beast—called namazu-e—became very popular with residents of the city. It was claimed some of these pictures would give the owner protection from earthquakes. Others depicted the battles between Kashima and Namazu. And there were even satirical prints depicting the builders, roofers, plasterers and carpenters who prospered from others’ misery. These colorful woodblock prints are incredibly beautiful and very surreal.
Victims of the earthquake attack the giant catfish Namazu.
A mob takes revenge on Namazu.
More beautiful prints of Namazu, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Read Monty Python’s letter to all the ‘Life of Brian’ haters, 1979
12:27 pm



Monty Python’s letter—apparently thousands of these were sent out—to judgemental people who had never actually even seen their 1979 film Life of Brian but who nevertheless found it to be blasphemous anyway:

Dear __________

Thank you for your letter regarding the film Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Whilst we understand your concern, we would like to correct some misconceptions you may have about the film which may be due to the fact that you have not had the chance to see it before forming your views. The film is set in Biblical times, but it is not about Jesus. It is a comedy, but we would like to think that it does have serious attitudes and certain things to say about human nature. It does not ridicule Christ, nor does it show Christ in any way that could offend anyone, nor is belief in God or Christ a subject dealt with in the film.

We are aware that certain organizations have been circulating misinformation on these points and are sorry that you have been misled. We hope you will go see the film yourself and come to your own conclusions about its virtues and defects. In any case, we hope you find it funny.

Best wishes,

Monty Python

Below, some images I found of the “haters” protesting Life of Brian in 1979:


More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Creationists prove that dinosaurs and people coexisted in goofball ‘X-Files’ parody skit
12:01 pm



Recently we’ve seen the return of one of the most popular TV shows of the 1990s, The X-Files, scratching that conspiratorial itch for millions of fans (who probably are more interested in Mulder and Scully getting it on than the truth value of the UFO theories the show so hysterically presents).

So it’s a good a time as any to resurrect this chestnut that dates from the early to mid-Bush years, a spoof of The X-Files called The X-Tinct Files purporting to uncover the hidden truths scientists are too fixed in their ways/arrogant/brainwashed to countenance, mainly that history does not stretch millions of years back and that dinosaurs lived a short time ago, alongside human beings.
More cringeworthy creationist fun after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Francis Bacon gets drunk
09:45 am



Toast of London: Francis Bacon and friends at the Colony Room
If you want to know about the artist Francis Bacon then there are his celebrated interviews with David Sylvester, two biographies by Michael Peppiatt (Anatomy of an Enigma, Francis Bacon: In Your Blood), a memoir by his longtime friend and boozing buddy Dan Farson (The Gilded Gutter Life of Francis Bacon) and a film Love is the Devil starring Derek Jacobi and Daniel Craig. Then there is this: Melvyn Bragg’s access all areas documentary with Bacon from 1985 that is one of the finest portraits of an artist ever committed to film.

What makes this South Bank Show documentary so utterly brilliant is the honesty and directness with which Bacon answers Bragg’s questions. He often pauses and considers his answer before committing himself to a reply. When he does, Bacon reveals his essence as an artist.

Bragg asks him how he paints:

‘Until the images come through you’re not in control. When they come up you have to control them.’
‘So you come up with an overall image which you don’t want to define except by working towards it?’
‘Yes…no…yes, that’s exactly how it is.’
‘You’ve thrown paint at the canvas?’
‘Once or twice. I couldn’t stand the sight of them so I just threw a pot of paint at them.’
‘You put yourself at risk.’
‘You have to, otherwise you’re an academician.’


‘When is a painting finished?’
‘I know instinctively when it’s finished. There it is…I’m always hoping chance will work in my favour. I don’t want to tell a story. I’ve no story to tell. I like the starkness of the image. I want it to give me a sensation. Shock, you could say. It’s a form of experience. A visual shock.’
‘What does your painting mean when you’ve finished?’
‘Nothing. Except what people want to read into it.. Nothing.’

Bragg always allows his subjects to present themselves as they want to be seen. Unlike too many other presenters, he does not interpose himself between the camera and the subject. He is the unseen hand who steers the ship through the storms, around the hidden rocks, towards its final destination. Bragg once told me in an interview (long, long ago) why he wore suits:

...basically because it’s easier if you are doing a television programme to wear the same thing all the time then you don’t get in the way over the programme. Another way to get people to forget about me and concentrate on the person I am talking to.

It’s advice worth heeding.

In 1985, when Francis Bacon was being hailed as the world’s greatest living artist and on the verge of his second Tate Gallery retrospective—a major feat in itself—Bragg interviewed Bacon at length about his life and art. At one point during the filming, while at lunch in Mario’s restaurant in Kensington, London, Bacon and Bragg became increasingly drunk. As Bragg later wrote in his book The South Bank Show: Final Cut:

There’s bound to be truth in cliches some of the time or they wouldn’t be. In vino veritas is less spouted now that there is less Latin about but still the notion persists that people when drunk tell the truth. That they also tell lies, come out with rubbish, destructive abuse, venom, hysterical hyperbole and all manner of degrading speech has not entirely impaired its claim. When Francis Bacon and myself appeared on The South Bank Show and for a few minutes were caught in a state of naked inebriation it provided, I think, a true insight into Francis as a man and as a painter. So I left it in the film.

As the wine flowed, Bragg asked Bacon if he paints the real world, to which the artist replied:

‘Yes! Between birth and death has always been the violence of life. I paint images of sensation. What is life but sensation?’
‘Do you think anything exists outside “the moment”?’
‘No. I believe in nothing. We are born and we die and there’s nothing else.’
‘So what do you do about it?’
‘I do nothing about it. I just drift.’
‘You paint.’
‘Yes, but my own life is just going from bar to bar and drifting, that sort of thing. I’m an optimist. But I’m an optimist about nothing. I was born with that nature.’

Bacon was seventy-five when this film was made. He had enviable stamina managing a four-hour lunch at Mario’s before climbing the rickety stairs of the notorious Colony Room, where he dispensed fifty pound notes like confetti and gargled the millionaire’s mouthwash—champagne.  Throughout, Bacon is old school courteous—even when utterly pissed—and collaborates with Bragg in creating an unequaled intimate film portrait.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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