While Halloween is a mixed celebration of debauchery and fear, Día de los Muertos is, in its own way, something sweet and innocent. I first stumbled onto the holiday in my twenties. Having been raised Irish Catholic the idea of chatting with dead people was something layered in fear and superstitions. So, finding out that there are millions of people who honor their ancestors by welcoming them on a special day to remind them they’re loved just seemed like a pretty awesome way to kill a day. As it were. My first real experience with it came when a young lady named Maria, naturally, took me to her home on November 1st to introduce me to her family. We weren’t dating or anything, we just got along well. I walked in, said hi to mom and dad, who took one look at my multi-colored hair, earrings, and layers of black clothing and seemed relieved there was no dating involved. Then we walked to the shrine in the living room. It had some candles, a few shots of tequila, and the makings for a couple tacos, along with pictures of several late relatives. She proceeded to greet each one in Spanish, said a little prayer, and finally introduced me, hilariously, by saying “This is my friend Bill. We don’t have sex, I’m still a virgin, and he’s never had tequila. You’ll like him.” [Read more…] about Dialing up the Dead
This is a bit of a read but, and this should help you make it through, it is laden with facts and real world solutions. Yes, I’m talking about guns. No, I’m not asking the gun fairy to make them disappear. This is broken out into three parts. The first section is my opinion with clear reasons stated for having same. The second section involves me leaving my safety zone and joining a group of dedicated NRA members to discuss gun control. You may scoff, but I was glad I did it then and am still glad to this day. Simply put, I learned to separate the corporate megalith that hands out money to anyone who helps them sell guns from the people who are just trying to protect what they have. So we’re clear, none of the people I spoke with carry AR-15s to Taco Bell. But some do own pretty impressive arsenals which they keep under lock and key at home. And then there was me. Back on January 12, 2013, I summed up that day. Before I revisit that conversation, and its results, I’d like to make a couple of things clear. [Read more…] about Ad Nauseam
Way, way, back in November of 2015 I took another shot at tackling the whole superstition thing which seems to gain traction every few decades. We live in a society of miracles and wonders and people keep trying to devolve them to the lowest common denominator. A dog scratches when it has fleas. I scratch my head when I think. That does not mean that thinking causes fleas. Yet, here we are. Thousands of years of progress and you can still buy talismans and magic candles at your local bodega. Just because you avoided learning how something works doesn’t mean you get to make up your own explanation. It means you should freaking learn how stuff works. There are no such things as chem-trails (it’s just heated moisture), rocket exhaust is H20 – not poison gases, and no government is controlling your thoughts through dental fillings. There are other, more effective, methods.
Also, washing your butt will not make you gay and start blowing truckers on the interstate. If that’s all that’s keeping you from cleaning your crack, that ship has sailed. And it was loaded with sea men singing a weeping song.
Okay, let’s try, once again, to kill some myths, restore some sanity, and help reality gain a toe hold in society.
Superstitions are silly things. Some are mere mnemonic devices that have taken on a life of their own. Don’t walk under a ladder is a good example. From a purely practical standpoint someone might drop something on your head. The same applies to opening an umbrella indoors. If you do that you suddenly have lots of sharp objects, the ribs and the tip, in an enclosed space where you could, literally, put someone’s eye out. 666 is supposed to be the number of the beast in Revelations. People believe this even though it’s been proven wrong on a few occasions. You see, some idiot monk, who lacked basic arithmetic and translation skills, wrote it wrong. The actual number is 616. Dr. Ellen Aitken, from McGill University, sums it up best. ““It’s a number puzzle — the majority opinion seems to be that it refers to [the Roman emperor] Nero. Revelation was actually a thinly disguised political tract, with the names of those being criticized changed to numbers to protect the authors and early Christians from reprisals. It’s a very political document. It’s a critique of the politics and society of the Roman empire, but it’s written in coded language and riddles.” In other words, it no more foretells the future than your weird Aunt Emma.
Cracked mirrors are another one. Some folks believe that mirrors don’t just reflect your awesome visage, they keep part of your soul. In backwards countries and in the American South people still cover mirrors when someone dies to prevent their souls from being trapped inside of them. The fear of black cats dates from the days of the plague and belief in witches. They were supposed to be familiars who served demonic masters and so on. It’s a mess. Look, I’ve owned several black cats and only one was even a little demonic and that was only when he was hungry.
I could go on and on and on and on and … you get the idea, but I won’t. Superstitions are the veils that tiny minds use to hide the light of reality.
A little over two years ago I wrote a nice history of Friday the 13th. It was, and is, festooned with those fact things you never find on the Internet any more. So, in honor of our current dose of Triskaidekaphobia, I give you Friday the 13th, UNFILTERED!!!
MU HU HA HA HA
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First and foremost, now seems to be a good time to point out that the Big Wakeup Call has a new internet home. No longer satisfied with being the king of Aurora radio, it has moved on to be an international podcast. This makes it easier for our global fans to listen in as well as for curious newcomers to get sucked into Ryan’s wonderful web of wackiness. For today’s madcap episode, feel free to listen first and then come back, we decided to take a look at the progress artificial intelligence (AI) has made in the world of literature. Back in 2017 a programmer named Zak Thoutt programmed an AI (that’s what programmers do) to write Game of Thrones. This is why programmers never get invited to parties. Well, that, and no one really cares about how to manipulate Boolean strings. Not even the pretty girl who forgot her bra and desperately needs a drink can be coerced into caring.
[Read more…] about Caveant scriptores!
About a decade ago I did a deep dive into why we have eggs and bunnies as symbols for the resurrection of Jesus. At its face it seems insane. Also, just FYI, no matter which gospel you read, Jesus was coherent upon his resurrection so there’s no substance to the zombie Jesus rumors that pop up this time of year. Oddly, in the grand scheme of things, “zombie Jesus” is the least problematic. After all, despite the trappings we all know, not a single gospel mentions Jesus’ ability to poop eggs or anything like that. Still, a quick look at the Internet or any TV station tells you that bunnies, baskets, and eggs are all the rage. There’s not a single ad for a large stone “You too can roll away!!!” or do-it-yourself stigmata kits for the kids. In other words, something happened to get us from there to here. Now, was that something wildly subversive? Pure evil complete with the obligatory maniacal laugh? Or was it just the way things worked out? Read on and find out.