Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » February 2005 » Karen's Triva Q Answer to this weeks' question:

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02/13/2005: Karen's Triva Q Answer to this weeks' question:

"Hats Off" to Bradford for getting this one right out of the gate:

Who are the "Man Eaters of Tsavo?" What were their monikers and in the movie (using these nick-names as its title) what currently famous stars appeared in this thriller?

The Man Eaters of Tsavo were two (mane-less) male lions, nicknamed "The Ghost" and "The Darkness" and were the subject of the 1996 movie of the same names...starring Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas. This movie was about the real life experiences of Lieut.-Col. J.H. Patterson, D.S.O. who encountered these man-eaters in Tsavo (near Uganda located on the eastern portion of Africa) during the 1890's.

In his experiences, presented as a lecture to the Field Museum in 1924 (here in the Windy City), Col. Patterson tells the tale of "these two most ferocious brutes (who) killed and devoured, under the most appalling circumstances, 135 Indian and African artisans and laborers employed in the construction of the Uganda Railway."

Col. Patterson's most remarkable account so impressed the Museum President, Mr. Stanley Field, that Mr. Field bought and restored the skins. (Patterson had made them into rugs) for display at the Field Museum...where they reside today. (Though owing to the altered condition the pelts...they couldn't be restored to their full size. Patterson had cut off portions of the hides when he made them into throw rugs -so they appear smaller than their original size. )

In my copy of the printed leaflet published by the Museum, the accompanying pictures show Col. Patterson seated next to the first man-eater he killed. It's huge paw alone is the size of Patterson's head. So...if you're ever in the Windy City...check out these man-eaters at the Field Museum.

Bonus Q:

Speaking of Royal Mistresses: What royal mistress to a former Prince of Wales...also had a small US western town named after her? And Who named the town?

"Hats Off" to Bryan (and to Len) for getting this one right.

Lillie Langtry was the former mistress of the Prince of Wales, Bertie. And Judge Roy Bean was her admirer who named both the Town of Langtry as well as his saloon "The Jersey Lily."

Len also reports...correctly:

"Unfortunately, Lillie never visited Langtry, Texas during
the lifetime of Judge Roy "The Law West of the Pecos" Bean, her admirer who
may have named the town after her (though the town may have been named
after a railroad boss, but Bean did name his saloon "The Jersey Lily" in
her honor), though I think she got there after Bean died. Lillie also,
got horizontal with Edward VII back when he was merely "Bertie",
Queen Vickie's eldest son (and therefore Prince of Wales). More interesting
from my perspective is that she also did the horizontal mambo with Sir
Robert Peel, founder of The Metropolitan Police (which is why they're
called "Bobbies", in his honor), Home Secretary, and PM.

Also more interesting from my perspective is that she was buddies with
Oscar Wilde and James McNeill Whistler. Whistler, you may be aware,
attended West Point for a while before dropping out or being expelled (I
believe for academic deficiencies). While at West Point, Whistler was a
classmate and friend of Marcus Albert Reno, who as a Major in the 7th U.S.
Cavalry was second in command of the regiment in the field, and a battalion
commander, at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, June 26, 1876.

Whistler was a legend at West Point for having, during a chemistry exam
(which he failed, not surprisingly), answered that silicon was a gas.
Supposedly, this led to the following exchange between Reno and Whistler
during a get together after their West Point days:

WHISTLER: You know, Reno, if silicon was a gas I would have graduated from
West Point and become a major general.
RENO: Yes, and then nobody would have ever heard of your mother.

This, if true, may be the only joke Reno ever cracked in his life."

FYI on Whistler's connection to Jack the Ripper. In Patricia Cornwell's 2002 book, Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper Case Closed, Ms. Cornwell makes a very convincing case that Whistler's protege and student, Walter Richard Sickert (who became a noted artist in his own name) was none other than THE Jack the Ripper. It's fascinating reading...and Cornwell's theory is that Sickert's (as the Ripper) wrote "Ha, Ha, Ha's" into numerous Ripper letters which were an imitation of Whistler's own booming American laugh (unlike the staid British guffaws.) Many of these letter...thought to be hoaxes, Cornwell reports were tested by her forensics friends and experts, and many were done with art materials and art supplies...one even painted by hand with a paint brush.

Cornwell writes on pp. 3-5:

"Sickert despised the upper class, but he was a star stalker. He somehow managed to hobnob with the major celebrities of the day: Henry Irving, Ellen Terry, Aubrey Beardlsey, Henry James, Max Beerbohm, Oscar Wilde, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Rodin, Andre Gide, Edouard Du-Jardin, Proust, and members of Parliament." and "By the time of Whistler's engagement (to Beatrice Goodwin) his friendship (with Sickert) had cooled...and a shockingly unexpected and complete abandonment by the Master whom (Sickert) idolized, envied and hated."

It could be Sickert also knew "The Jersey Lillie" too.

Cornwell also reveal a sexual disfigurement that she credits in part for the psychology of a "forensic profile" that would be consistent with a "Jack the Ripper" killer. Great read...hope they make a movie to replace all the "Royalist conspiracy theories" that have been done to date.

Karen on 02.13.05 @ 01:04 PM CST

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