Extreme ironing, "republican marraige", The craziest British Commando ever, legally haunted by ghosts, and vagina dentata

Today's post examines French Revolutionary executions, Jack Churchill, extreme ironing, Stambovsky v. Ackley, and the terrifying concept of a vagina with teeth.
British special forces have a reputation for being a bit eccentric, but Jack Churchill was an exceptionally odd fellow. Born in Hong Kong in 1906 and commissioned after graduating from Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1926, he served in Burma before briefly leaving the army ten years later. Returning in 1939 at the advent of World War II, he gained a reputation in France for carrying his broadsword (a Scottish claymore), a bow and arrows, and his bagpipes. In fact, he was the only soldier confirmed to have a confirmed arrow kill in Europe. After the evacuation at Dunkirk, he joined the Commandos and had a rather successful tour in Norway. Commanding the battalion-sized 2 Commando in Italy, he earned the Distinguished Service Order in 1943, then commanded a larger unit in Yugoslavia, and was captured by the Germans after a failed raid whilst playing his pipes. After an escape and recapture in late 1944, his camp was abandoned by their SS guards the next year as V-E day drew close, and his transfer to Burma proved fruitless as Japan surrendered before his arrival. After the war, he served in Palestine (including the Hadassah massacre), then became an instructor until his retirement in 1959. He died in 1996.
"Mad Jack" leads the charge with sword in hand at the far right.

Have I ever mentioned that I'm from New York? Whenever I tell people that, I have to remind them that there is in fact a state by that name, in addition to a city (and frequently bemoan the fact that our state assembly often fails to recognize citizens north of the Hudson). So I have to laugh at Stambovsky v. Ackley, a New York appellate court decision in 1991 that ruled that a house in Nyack was legally haunted. The owner of the house, Helen Ackley, had oft-reported the presence of a ghost on the property, including Reader's Digest, local newspapers, a home tour, as well as local folklore. When Ackley attempted to sell the house, neither she nor her realtor notified the out-of-town buyer, Jeffrey Stambovsky, until after they entered contract and he made a down payment of $32,500. When he learned of the tale, he requested recission of the contract and damages for the fraud, forfeiting the down payment when he refused to close the real estate transaction. The trial court dismissed the claim, but the appeal overturned that. They denied damages under property law that asserted "caveat emptor", but held an exception for the recission due to the fact that the buyer could not have reasonably ascertained the haunting from the home inspection. The majority opinion is quite a funny read, referencing Hamlet, Ghostbusters, and these little gems:
While I agree with Supreme Court that the real estate broker, as agent for the seller, is under no duty to disclose to a potential buyer the phantasmal reputation of the premises and that, in his pursuit of a legal remedy for fraudulent misrepresentation against the seller, plaintiff hasn't a ghost of a chance, I am nevertheless moved by the spirit of equity to allow the buyer to seek rescission of the contract of sale and recovery of his down payment.
Applying the strict rule of caveat emptor to a contract involving a house possessed by poltergeists conjures up visions of a psychic or medium routinely accompanying the structural engineer and Terminix man on an inspection of every home subject to a contract of sale. It portends that the prudent attorney will establish an escrow account lest the subject of the transaction come back to haunt him and his client — or pray that his malpractice insurance coverage extends to supernatural disasters. In the interest of avoiding such untenable consequences, the notion that a haunting is a condition which can and should be ascertained upon reasonable inspection of the premises is a hobgoblin which should be exorcised from the body of legal precedent and laid quietly to rest.
It should be apparent, however, that the most meticulous inspection and the search would not reveal the presence of poltergeists at the premises or unearth the property's ghoulish reputation in the community.
Finally, if the language of the contract is to be construed as broadly as defendant urges to encompass the presence of poltergeists in the house, it cannot be said that she has delivered the premises "vacant" in accordance with her obligation under the provisions of the contract rider.
Application of the remedy of rescission, within the bounds of the narrow exception to the doctrine of caveat emptor set forth herein, is entirely appropriate to relieve the unwitting purchaser from the consequences of a most unnatural bargain.
Judges with a sense of humor... gosh!

Extreme ironing is, well, exactly what it sounds like. Adventure-seekers take an iron and board to a remote or dangerous location, and iron an article of clothing. This highly eccentric "sport" is mostly tongue-in-cheek, but people actually to press shirts at the top of a mountain, underwater, and whilst skydiving. The tradition began as a type of performance art, and the first known instance was in the music video for Negasonic Teenage Warhead by Monster Magnet in 1995. It was popularized as an activity by English garment factory worker Phil Shaw in 1997 while rock climbing, and made a tour of the event two years later.
WikiWorld comic by Greg Williams 
The so-called "republican marriage" (or "mariage républicain") has nothing to do with political parties (and save your jokes about shotguns, beer cans, and hillbillies), but everything to do with Reign of Terror in Nantes during the French Revolution. The "counter-revolutionary" victims were paired one man to one woman, stripped naked, bound together, mocked, and the tossed into the Loire River to drown. Accounts argue that the women were typically innocent of anything but being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the executioners portrayed as sadistic voyeurs. The supposed inventor of this method was Jean-Baptiste Carrier, well known for cruelty, but the Revolutionary Committee of Nantes held a Revolutionary Tribunal in 1794, and were unable to substantiate the charge before a jury (though he was executed for other claims).
This 1882 work by Joseph Aubert depicts the preparations in Nantes, and is hosted at the Musée d'art et d'histoire de Cholet (Cholet Museum of Art History).

Whoo.. This one will probably give me a nightmare or two: vagina dentata, which is Latin for "toothed vagina". Maybe it's something to do with having a Y chromosome, but this bit of mythology sends shivers down my spine imagining it. Notionally, it's a cautionary tale about promiscuity with strangers, rape, and/or other acts of misogyny, but some Native South American tribes have a legend about a "Terrible Mother" or malicious goddess with such teeth (or a fish living in it with teeth), and that a man who successfully penetrates her and breaks out the teeth is a hero. If you look at the psychology of it, you see a triumphant or conquering man who leaves the encounter diminished when his dick gets bitten off. There was actually developed in South Africa a type of anti-rape device that does this with barbs that have to be removed surgically, but I couldn't imagine living in a place where this kind of precaution is necessary (but then again, I am male, and my imagination for rape isn't going to be up to par). I don't normally enjoy horror flicks, but I might look up the film Teeth on Netflix when I get home.
You think I'm gonna give you a picture of this? You're crazy!

Yeah, I don't have a bonus for today. Ooh, that's so creepy. Happy reading... I guess. Man... Not sure if I can ever have sex again...

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