January 11th, 2007


Snakes in China 'predict quakes'

Nefarious News

Snakes in China 'predict quakes'
Scientists say the snakes smash into walls in an effort to escape

Scientists in China say they have developed a new way of predicting earthquakes - by observing erratic behaviour in snakes.

Experts at the earthquake bureau in Nanning, in southern Guangxi province, monitor local snake farms via 24-hour internet video links.

Scientists said the serpents can sense a quake from 120km (75 miles) away, up to five days before it happens.

They respond erratically, even smashing into walls to escape, scientists said.

"Of all the creatures on the Earth, snakes are perhaps the most sensitive to earthquakes," Jiang Weisong, director of the earthquake bureau in Nanning, told The China Daily.

The reptiles respond by behaving extremely erratically, he said.

"When an earthquake is about to occur, snakes will move out of their nests, even in the cold of winter. If the earthquake is a big one, the snakes will even smash into walls while trying to escape," he told the newspaper.

Nanning - an area prone to earthquakes - is one of 12 Chinese cities monitored by hi-tech equipment. It also has 143 animal monitoring units.

"By installing cameras over the snake nests, we have improved our ability to forecast earthquakes. The system could be extended to other parts of the country to make our earthquake forecasts more precise," Mr Jiang said.

China is frequently struck by earthquakes. In 1976, some 250,000 people died when the city of Tangshan was devastated by an earthquake.

Great study. Maybe now, after realizing their worth, they will stop eating them, which is mostly based on stuporstitious "cures" for various ailments. I never understood peoples' aversion to snakes - they are precious creatures. I have lived with several types of serpents, which I also consider My 'totem', and maintain very pleasant relationships with them.

Coat of Arms

Dracula's castle goes up for sale

Nefarious News

Dracula's castle goes up for sale
Bran Castle

The Gothic fortress, Bran Castle, is seen perched on a rock in southeastern Transylvania. The castle is famous for its connections to the 15th-century medieval ruler who inspired Dracula . By Vadim Ghirda, AP. Click to enlarge.

BUCHAREST, Romania — The Habsburg family said Wednesday that it wanted to sell a Transylvanian castle famous for its connections to the 15th century medieval ruler who inspired Dracula for 60 million euros, or $78 million, to the local authorities, an attorney said.

The local council says it is interested in buying Bran Castle, but a government minister criticized the price tag, calling it too expensive.

Dominic Habsburg, the owner, insisted the family had honorable intentions.

"We are trying to find the best way to preserve the castle in the interest of the family and the people of Bran," Habsburg said in a statement made available exclusively to The Associated Press.

The castle was returned to Habsburg, a New York architect, on May 26, decades after it was confiscated by the communists from Habsburg's mother, Princess Ileana, in 1948, the year the royals were forced to leave the country.

After the restitution, concerns were raised that the family could sell the castle to a hotel chain and that the site could end up being the centerpiece of a Dracula theme park that would blight the surrounding, pristine countryside.

The castle, perched high on a rock and surrounded by snowcapped mountains in southern Transylvania, is one of Romania's top tourist attractions and is visited by 400,000 people each year.

Faced with the enormous expense of the castle's upkeep, Habsburg said he wanted to place the property in the hands of the local council with an eye toward ensuring its historic character is preserved.

"The family has the country and the people in their heart. We are grateful for the restitution as a moral act to amend injustice," the statement from Habsburg said.

But he added, "The way of life cannot be returned and the restitution has come with financial sacrifice. ... We would like Castle Bran to remain a symbol of everything that is honorable and good in Romania."

The community of Bran, where the fortress was built in the 14th century to help stave off invasion, gave it to Ileana's mother, Queen Marie, in 1920 to thank her for her efforts in unifying the country. It was briefly associated with Prince "Vlad the Impaler," whose cruelty inspired novelist Bram Stoker's creation, the vampire Count Dracula. History says he spent one night there.

In 1938, Ileana inherited the castle, which is located some 105 miles north of Bucharest.

In recent years, the castle — complete with occasional glimpses of bats floating around its ramparts in the twilight — has attracted movie makers as a backdrop for films about Dracula and other spooky themes.

Lia Trandafir, an attorney for Habsburg, said the local authorities are interested in buying it. "They'd like to see it coming back to the community and they consider it a central pillar of tourism in Brasov county," she said.

Aristotel Cancescu, head of the local city council is due to travel to Vienna, on Monday to open discussions about a bank loan. If he manages to secure a loan, it will need to be approved by local councilors.

Culture Minister Adrian Iorgulescu has criticized the planned purchase of the castle, saying it is too expensive. "I have nothing against the castle being bought by the city council if they are stupid enough to pay this money," he said. He added he believed the castle was worth a fourth of Habsburg's asking price.

* Related Story: Romania Give Dracula's Castle to Owners

Calling all Satanists! This would be a wonderful opportunity to possess this piece of historical and cinematically-innate vampiric property, to be obtained by those who can truly appreciate it for all of its aesthetic qualities. Imagine the potential...


Yvonne DeCarlo...

'Munsters' star Yvonne De Carlo dies
By BOB THOMAS, Associated Press Writer Wed Jan 10, 10:14 PM ET

Actress Yvonne De Carlo, dressed for her role as Lily Munster in the film 'Munster, Go Home,' poses in her car in the parking lot outside Universal Studios on March 25, 1966. De Carlo, the beautiful star who played Moses' wife in 'The Ten Commandments' but achieved her greatest popularity on TV's slapstick comedy 'The Munsters,' died Monday, Jan. 8,2007, in suburban Los Angeles. She was 84. (AP Photo/Mike Smith)

LOS ANGELES - Yvonne De Carlo, the beautiful star who played Moses' wife in "The Ten Commandments" but achieved her greatest popularity on TV's "The Munsters," has died. She was '84'.

De Carlo died of natural causes Monday at the Motion Picture & Television facility in suburban Los Angeles, longtime friend and television producer Kevin Burns said Wednesday.

De Carlo, whose shapely figure helped launch her career in B-movie desert adventures and Westerns, rose to more important roles in the 1950s. Later, she had a key role in a landmark Broadway musical, Stephen Sondheim's "Follies."

But for TV viewers, she will always be known as Lily Munster in the 1964-1966 slapstick horror-movie spoof "The Munsters." The series (the name allegedly derived from "fun-monsters") offered a gallery of Universal Pictures grotesques, including Dracula and Frankenstein's monster, in a cobwebbed gothic setting.

Lily, vampire-like in a black gown, presided over the faux scary household and was a rock for her gentle but often bumbling husband, Herman, played by 6-foot-5-inch character actor Fred Gwynne (decked out as the Frankenstein monster).

For the record, Lily Munster does not wear a "black gown", but a ghostly white, or violet, and sometimes a "graveyard green" one.

While it lasted only two years, the series had a long life in syndication and resulted in two feature movies, "Munster Go Home!" (1966) and "The Munsters' Revenge." (1981, for TV).

At the series' end, De Carlo commented: "It meant security. It gave me a new, young audience I wouldn't have had otherwise. It made me `hot' again, which I wasn't for a while."

"I think she will best remembered as the definitive Lily Munster. She was the vampire mom to millions of baby boomers. In that sense, she's iconic," Burns said Wednesday.

"But it would be a shame if that's the only way she is remembered. She was also one of the biggest beauty queens of the `40s and `50s, one of the most beautiful women in the world. This was one of the great glamour queens of Hollywood, one of the last ones."

George Barris, who created the ghoulish "Munsters" car, equipped De Carlo's Jaguar with spider web hubcaps, a gargoyle hood ornament and a glossy black sunroof.

"She was a wonderful lady and a car buff. She loved the show so much that she incorporated it into her life, her own car," Barris said Wednesday.

De Carlo sustained a long career by repeatedly reinventing herself. When movie roles became scarce, she ventured into stage musicals. Her greatest stage triumph came on Broadway in 1971 with "Follies," which won the 1972 Tony award for best original musical score.

Over the years, De Carlo augmented her stardom by shrewd use of publicity. Gossip columnists reported her dates with famous men. In her 1987 book, "Yvonne: An Autobiography," she listed 22 of her lovers, who included Howard Hughes, Burt Lancaster, Robert Stack, Robert Taylor, Billy Wilder, Aly Khan and an Iranian prince.

The Canadian-born De Carlo began her career with a parade of bit parts in films of the early 1940s, then emerged as a star in 1945 with "Salome — Where She Danced," a routine movie about a dancer from Vienna who becomes a spy in the wild West.

Universal Pictures exploited her slightly exotic looks and a shape that looked ideal in a harem dress in such "sex-and-sand" programmers as "Song of Scheherazade," "Slave Girl," "Casbah" and "Desert Hawk."

The studio also employed her to add zest to Westerns, usually as a dance-hall girl or a gun-toting sharpshooter. Among the titles: "Frontier Gal," "Black Bart," "River Lady," "Calamity Jane and Sam Bass" and "The Gal Who Took the West."

In 1956 she veered from her former image when Cecil B. DeMille chose her to play Sephora, wife to

Charlton Heston's Moses in "The Ten Commandments." The following year she costarred with Clark Gable and

Sidney Poitier in "Band of Angels" as Gable's upper-class sweetheart who learns of her black forebears.

De Carlo was born Peggy Yvonne Middleton in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Sept. 1, 1922 (some sources say 1924). Abandoned by her father, she was raised by her mother in poor circumstances. The girl took dancing lessons and dropped out of high school to work in night clubs and local theaters. She continued dancing in clubs when she and her mother moved to Los Angeles.

Paramount Pictures signed her to a contract in 1942, and she adopted her middle name and her mother's middle name. Dropped by Paramount after 20 minor roles, she landed at Universal.

In 1955, De Carlo married Bob Morgan, a topflight stunt man, and the marriage produced two sons, Bruce and Michael. During a stunt aboard a moving log train for "How the West Was Won," Morgan was thrown underneath the wheels. The accident cost him a leg, and for a time De Carlo abandoned her career to care for him. They later divorced.

In her late years, De Carlo lived in semiretirement near Solvang, north of Santa Barbara. Her son Michael died in 1997, and she suffered a stroke the following year.

I was not originally intending to post this news, considering that 'Lily' did not actually die, but will live on forever in mind and video. DeCarlo brought Lily Munster to life through her portrayal, and is immortal. As far as the character is concerned, the obituary is irrelevant.

As to Ms. DeCarlo, I would rather celebrate her life, wherein she made her impression. Let it be remembered, her birthday is September 1st, the veritable onset of the Halloween season. Her personal life was a full one, and her other characterizations are also appreciated.

* Yvonne DeCarlo: R.I.P.
* Lily Munster: ∞

[Look Away Over Yondro]
~ Sung & performed by Lily Munster {from "Far Out Munsters"}