Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's the End of the World...As We Know It

It's the day before Thanksgiving, and I have a lot to do in preparation for tomorrow, so I should be cleaning and cooking, but gosh darn it, it's Nov. 21, 2012, and according to groups of mentally unstable people, the end of the world is just one month away.
Except that it's not.

The whole Mayan thing is one of the more ridiculous doomsday prophesies we have had in the last several years. (And there have been MANY.) It assumes that when a calendar runs out, so does time. Now, folks- has that been your experience before? Does the world end every December 31st?


To make you feel better, here are some of the failed doomsday prophecies throughout history:

  • The year 634: Romans believe that Rome will be destroyed because of a myth that Romulus saw 12 eagles. 12x10= 120, and Rome hit its 120th birthday that year, so that means death and destruction, right? Wrong.
  • 992: Good Friday falls on the day of the Feast of the Annunciation. The combined forces of 2 religious holidays would bring about the birth of the antichrist, and within 3 years, the world would end. Or the Wonder Twins would be created to destroy the Super Friends. Either one.

  • 1033: Christians believe that Jesus will return on the 1000th anniversary of his crucifixion and resurrection. He declines the invitation.
  • 1186: Some planets aligned. World was supposed to end. Decided lack of ending.
  • 1524: Astrologists believe that a flood in London will trigger the end of the world. Ark prices skyrocket, only to plummet the following year.
  • 1533: Mathematician, Michael Stifel predicts the end of the world down to the minute- October 19th at 8:00 am. Or maybe he forgot to carry the two.
  • 1658: The year that Christopher Columbus predicted would be our last. This from the same guy who set out for India and ended up in America.
  • 1697, 1716, 1736: Cotton Mather predicts the end of the world. Updates his prediction twice when it doesn't come true. Also opposed smallpox vaccines and supported killing innocent people accused of witchcraft. Basically, if it would end up historically being the wrong decision, Cotton was all for it.
  • 1719: Mathematician, Jacob Bernoulli, predicts the earth will be destroyed by a comet. Dinosaurs get very excited about their big comeback, only to be let down again.
  • 1892: Charles Piazzi Smyth studies the dimensions of the Great Pyramid, and somehow that tells him when the world will end. Disappointingly, the dimensions of the Sphinx's left testicle reveal nothing.
  • 1920: The Bible Student Movement, which would go on to become the Jehovah's Witnesses, believes all governments will be destroyed by this year. Frustrated by their miscalculation, they go on a furious pamphlet printing campaign.
  • 1925: Margaret Rowen has a vision of the angel, Gabriel, who tells her the end of the world will occur on February 13th. Millions of men neglect to buy Valentine's Day candies, believing it to be a waste of time. Millions of men sleep on the couch.
  • 1954, leader of the Brotherhood of the Seven Rays, Dorothy Martin, receives messages from UFOs that tell her of another Great Flood that will destroy mankind. Her followers wait outside with their belongings to catch a lift. The UFOs forget to pick up their dry cleaning and have to rush to their kid's school play and forget to pick up their devotees.
  • 1967: Jim Jones predicts the end of the world. Only if you drink the Kool-Aid, my friends, only if you drink the Kool-Aid.
  • 1980s: Hal Lindsey predicts that the Eighties are the last decade. But even 10 years of bad hair and shoulder pads doesn't provoke God enough to destroy the world.
  • 1982: Pat Robertson tries his hand at prediciting the end days. His powers of  prophesy prove false. But, this is the man who also believed that "paganists, abortionists, feminists and gays caused September 11th," even though no Earth-worshiping lesbian abortion doctors appear to have been on board any of the planes. 
  • 1987: Leland Jensen believes Haley's Comet will wipe us out. Once again, the dinosaurs weep.
  • 1990: Elizabeth Clare Prophet fails to live up to her name when she predicts nuclear war to start on April 23rd.
  • 1994-2011: Harold Camping predicts the end of the world so many times that it just makes you feel bad for him that the world DIDN'T end.
  • 1999: Y2K is supposed to crash all computers. Planes will fall out of the sky. Governments will collapse. Economies will fail. Or nothing will happen whatsoever.
  • 2010: Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn says the world will end. No points for accuracy, but 20 points awarded for at least having a cool name.

    So, on December 22nd, if you're feeling a little sheepish about that stockpile of food and weapons in your basement...just save it for the next end of the world. It should only be maybe a year. I'm sure everything will keep until then.

Friday, November 2, 2012

In Another Dimension, With Voyeuristic Intention

If you have never heard of Honey Boo Boo, you may have been living under a rock.

The show features a little girl, named Alana, who does beauty pageants, gets sugar rushes on her "Go-Go Juice", plays with pet pigs, rolls in the mud, helps her mom with her "couponing," and just bounces off the walls constantly.

Alana's family consists of Mama June, an enormous woman with a "forklift foot" that attracts gnats; "Sugar Bear" the father who never spits out his dip; Lauren, "Pumpkin," a girl with manners and hygiene that would make anyone shudder; Jessica, "Chubbs", a girl who thinks you can lose weight by farting; and Anna, "Chickadee", the teen mom.

The show is a redneck exhibitionist nightmare.

Think of any stereotype of a redneck, and they've covered it.
Mud flopping, bobbing for pig's feet, poor hygiene, teen pregnancy... Words have entered our vocabulary that didn't need to be there. "Vajiggle jaggle," "beautimous,"  "forklift foot," "biscuit," "redneckonize."

Exploitative? Oh yes. The family is shown in every moment of their embarrassing glory. When Mama June has sneezing fits, they go on air. On any other show, if the person being interviewed suddenly had a sneeze attack, the interviewer would have them repeat the answer, and the editors of the show would edit out the unusable footage. When Alana, a 6 year old, sneezes and gets snot on her face, the film crew zooms in on her as she sits there not knowing what to do. A compassionate person would have gotten her a tissue. Any show that cared about the people they were filming, would not have let this go to air. Instead, we get several awkward minutes of a child squirming with her hands over her face, too embarrassed to get up. If Pumpkin picks her butt, we get a close-up. When Chickadee refers to her vagina as a "biscuit" this too makes it onto the show. TLC is clearly operating on a policy of the more hideously embarrassing it is, the better. Get it on tape. Or are they? Maybe there are far worse things that happen that they DO edit out because its not ethical to put that on air. (I personally doubt that, but it could be.)

But even if they are being overly exploitative- can you blame them? The show is widely popular. People are watching. I have watched. The show is amazing in a way that baffles you. You are just stunned that ANYONE actually lives the way these people do. That they see nothing wrong with it. You wonder if their neighbors shun them, or are they also like this? Is the family faking any of it? Does the family KNOW that they are the laughingstock of the WORLD right now? Would they even care?

I'm not advocating that anyone should or shouldn't watch it. The family could have declined to renew for another season if they felt like they were being used. (Whether they would have been smart enough to recognize that they were being used is debatable.) They clearly are benefiting monetarily from the attention.

The question I have is simply, what are the long-term effects of this stuff on the family? Can a network really be expected to protect people from making fools of themselves? Or is this all just in good fun?

One thing, I predict. You will see more shows like this in the future. Look at what we have now. Hoarders, My Secret Addiction, American Gypsies, Toddlers in Tiaras, Hillbilly Handfishing, Taboo...a large number of our current high-ratings shows are voyeuristic. The weirder the better. People with no teeth? Awesome. Bad parents? Heck yes. Mental disorders? Get the popcorn.

Is it bad to watch this stuff? Maybe. Maybe not. It is highly addictive, though. Maybe just for the simple reason that you can look at someone else and say, "I thought I had least I'm not THAT guy!"
I don't know.
But I'm going to go get lunch and watch those episodes of Confessions:Animal Hoarding that I have on my DVR.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Feliz Dia de los Muertos!

Happy Day of the Dead, and welcome to November!

I live in Tucson right now, and Day of the Dead is a big holiday here. We have a Procession of Souls downtown. (It's on the 4th this year)
Here's the link below, for anyone interested.
And here's a video of what an "All Souls Procession" looks like, if you have never seen one.
All Souls Procession

Dia de los Muertos has roots in Aztec culture, and was later absorbed by Catholic practices. (As with all of our good holidays, it started out as a "heathen pagan thing that should be destroyed," but then when the church found that they couldn't kill it, they just adopted it.) In modern times, it can be celebrated in a number of ways, but the main idea is that for two nights, not only do we honor the departed, but they return to accept our offerings. It is a time for expressing grief, but also for celebrating the idea of life after death. The first night is to honor children and infants, the second night is for adults. People may visit cemeteries and leave toys, flowers or offerings of food. Parades are held in honor of our ancestors.

Speaking of ancestors, the annual Tucson Celtic Festival and Scottish Highland Games is also this weekend.
Celtic Festival
Since I have Scottish, Irish and Welsh ancestry, this is one way I plan to celebrate MY ancestors. I think having a pint of Kilt Lifter beer while listening to bagpipes is a GREAT way to do this.

So anyway, even if you don't celebrate the day of the dead, you can still remember and honor those who have gone before. Good, bad, or neutral, every one of our ancestors made possible the very breath you are taking right now. That deserves a parade, or flowers, or just a tip o' the glass with your favorite pint, doesn't it?