Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Weird Toys

From Dark Roasted Blend, a selection of weird and steampunk toys, activating "the threshold between wonder and horror."

Alien Clone Baby, anyone?


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Seen any Lizard People Lately?

Readers in Los Angeles: the lizard people have been quiet lately, but you should still be on your guard. Helpful information is available

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Cattle Mutilations and Occult Weirdness

A recent "cattle mutilation" report had the gang at Querencia turning to me, because evidently I am their go-to guy on weirdness.

After a couple of weeks had passed, I cranked out a four-part blog post series at my other blog:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

But I left something out: what I called my "Berlitz full-immersion summer course in occult weirdness."

I did write about that aspect of the experience for Fate magazine back in 1988. But I seem to have outsmarted myself and "filed" that issue in some very special place. It is not in the Box of Magazines in Which I Published Articles.

Naturally it is not available online, being from 1988. Too bad, because I had thought of scanning the pages and putting them on the web site.

Perhaps I could find a copy somewhere if there was sufficient demand.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Blog It and They Will Come. But Why?

Real search-engine queries that brought Web visitors to this blog:

Is Depeche Mode synonymous with homosexuality? [I don't know; I missed the 80s.]

Booty shaking videos of Muslim women

Arvol Looking Horse fraud youtube [he is an American Indian activist on the "cultural appropriation" issue]

make shinto priest hat

food placed in creek for religion

[I have made food offerings at a crossroads, but in the creek??]

intercessory prayer for halloween sacrifice

sex colors for witches

Of course, now the Googlebot will index all those terms here . . .

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

J.K. Rowlings' Effect on Our Language

Recently M. and I started to experiment with geocaching. Since our rural home is adjacent to national forest land and located just off a designated Scenic Byway, it is a fertile spot—there must be a dozen or more caches within five miles.

But what I noticed when reading geocaching sites and forums is that a particular term is used for people who are out and about but who themselves are not geocachers. It is important that the caches themselves be concealed from these people.

The term used for such people, of course, begins with "m."


Monday, October 26, 2009

'Occult Park' Resurrected in Dallas

And apparently it is causing the Dallas Cowboys to lose football games.

Hecate has the details.

How come ace Dallas religion blogger Rod Dreher has not been all over this one?


Thursday, October 15, 2009

2012 Apocalypse Porn

Even some Mayans are finally getting fed up with the whole 2012 end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it apocalypse porn.

(You know it's porn because there is no real goofiness, humor, or affection.)

A little while ago I received a copy of 2012: Science or Superstition, a video from Disinformation.

It's got it all: Hopis, Islamic astrology, reverse cowgirl, Stonehenge, and lots of self-appointed experts saying "X appeared to have Y."

Lots of vague references to "cultures around the world" sharing the same cosmology, which is, shall we say, unsupported.

Why the Mayas? Why not the ancient Roman calendar? The year 2012 will be 2765 AUC. That sounds significant too. Or wait until 2772?

Anthony Aveni, who is a genuine scholar of archaeoastronomy, is in there, along with a bunch of apocalyptic pornographers—and who can tell them apart without a scorecard?

You won't hear much from any Mayas, however.

"The December 21st, 2012 date is gaining ground in the popular media," says one of the talking heads. Yes, and we will see more of that, no doubt.

And Halloween is coming, so you could pick up 2012: Science or Superstition for your scary movie. Or you could watch The Exorcist.

UPDATE: The day that I wrote this post, the new issue of Archaeology magazine arrived, with an article by Professor Aveni examing the 2012 craze.

You will find the full text at the link but here are two brief quotations:

It is amusing that the Y12 prophets are certain the world will end for all of us based on a date that may or may not have had historical significance to the Maya a few thousand years ago, who were themselves looking to a date a few thousand years before that. The ancient Maya might tell us: "Hey, get your own zero point!"


We live in a techno-immersed, materially oriented society that seems somewhat bewildered by where rational, empirical science might be taking us. This may be why the mystical, escapist explanations of a galactic endpoint, replete with precise mathematical, historical, and cosmic underpinnings (masquerading as science), have such wide appeal. In an age of anxiety we reach for the wisdom of ancestors--even other peoples' ancestors--that might have been lost in the drifting sands of time. Perhaps the only way we can take back control of our disordered world is to rediscover their lost knowledge and make use of it. And so we romanticize the ancient Maya.

Some of the people pushing the 2012 stuff said much the same things about the "Harmonic Convergence" of 1987.

That summer, a campfire skit at a Pagan festival in New Mexico celebrated the "Harmonica Virgins."

Bring on the 2012 parodies.

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Friday, October 09, 2009

I Need Some Creative Juices

And how I know where they come from.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fisher at Carhenge

On the way home from North Dakota, Fisher and I stopped at Carhenge. The Wikipedia article compares it to its inspiration in England.

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Steampunk Challenge

Entries in a steampunk design challenge. I rather like "Amazon 1821." And this one. There are multiple pages.

I suppose it was reading The Witches of Chiswick that made me a fan of the genre -- Her Majesty's Electric Fusiliers and all that. (Via Boing Boing.)


Friday, September 04, 2009

Rivers of (True) Blood.

Ever resolutely two years behind the pop-culture curve, M. and I recently watched some of True Blood, season 1. We had already read a little of Charlaine Harris (one novel for me, two for her), so we knew about the whole Sookie Stackhouse milieu of "vamps" and "weres" and Harris' whole bodice-ripping-and-biting atmosphere.

We knew, for example, that the collie dog was really Sam the restaurant owner, who is a were-collie. (Our collie is a ninja collie--much easier to deal with.)

(If Louisiana did not exist, would it be necessary to invent it?)

Partway through the opening sequence, we realized thatTrue Blood was based on Harris' novels, and our expectations immediately cratered. Been there, done that.

But it ... like Buffy ... like Twilight ... has the critics wondering, "What's with this vampire craze, anyway?"

When “True Blood” appeared, it was easy to assume it was a metaphor for late-stage capitalism gone haywire, not simply because it began with an insolent store clerk reading Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine” but also because the show seemed predicated on an interest in the retail addict’s belief that we’re made of what we buy.

Read the rest on "reactionary gender politics," etc.

Via GetReligion.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Seeking a goddess

I can understand seeing a goddess in your lover. But this is pushing it too far.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Human Beings Emit Light

You can tell people that this was part of the secret Craft training that you got from your grandmother.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gallimaufry with Stakes

Buffy versus Edward (of Twilight). Nice creative remix; too bad about the different color palates. (Via Odious and Peculiar.)

• Napoleon was [not] short, and five other "facts" about historical figures that their enemies made up. (That process is still going on.)

Novelist Douglas Coupland mused on the 25th anniversary of Macintosh computers:

PCs can sort of mimic the effortless transmodality of the Mac, but they're way crashier, and their clunky interfaces make you feel like you're in East Berlin circa 1974 while everyone in the West has already entered a funner, smarter future, the other side of that pesky wall.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

John Keel Has Died

Author and Fortean John Keel died Friday in New York.

Not long after his signature book, The Mothman Prophecies was published, I saw on the Colorado Springs downtown library's new-books shelf and passed it by--repeatedly--because the title sounded too weird.

From the Cryptomundo obituary:

After years of writing parts of the story in various articles and other books, in 1975, Keel published The Mothman Prophecies, an account of his 1966-1967 investigation of sightings of the Mothman, a “winged weirdie” reported in and around Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

Keel corresponded with Ivan T. Sanderson quietly for months, trying to determine what kind of bird might be involved with the sightings. It was later, as Keel more fully revealed the tale of the sightings and concurrent phenomena, that other elements came into the mix.

"Other elements" is putting it mildly. When I finally read The Mothman Prophecies, I realized that it offers a vivid depiction of the strangeness that any investigator of the paranormal encounters, the feeling that part of your body or part of your consciousness is sliding into an unfriendly parallel universe. Never mind the Mothman, read it for the psychology.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Life in the Future is a Dream World

A 1939 short film looks at the amazing world of the future in the year 2000. Keep watching--there is a twist. As usual, the future looks different than people expected.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cattle Mutilations: Déjà Vu All Over Again

I almost hate to write this post. It's déjà vu all over again.

Such was my reaction to a recent headline in the Pueblo Chieftain: "Two More Cows Found Mutilated."

Eastern Colorado was central to the "cattle mutilation" meme of the 1970s. I was younger and wishing that one day I would be a newspaper reporter so that I could really learn what was going on.

Later, after the furor died down, I did write for the (now defunct) Colorado Springs Sun. And at one point I assigned myself a retrospective article about "mutilation madness" that eventually spawned a feature in dear old Fate magazine.*

The Sun version left out my youthful experience with a lodge of Thelemic ceremonial magicians who planned to use magick-with-a-k to find the so-called mutilators and collect the Colorado Cattlemen's Association reward money (which never was collected.)

I write "meme" for a reason, and the Chieftain article illustrates it perfectly. The news media tend to follow these "rules" of reporting topics that are pre-judged to be non-serious.

1. Assume that these events are paranormal, inexplicable, or silly.

2. Treat anyone--such as a self-proclaimed UFO expert--as a legitimate source.

It happened in the 1970s, and it's happening now. The only part that is missing is the post-Vietnam War narrative in which crazed Huey pilots conduct crazed nighttime mutilation missions to get the adrenaline rush that they got in 'Nam. (Think Iraq and give it time.)

When I did become a journalist, I decided that the reason that editors did not take the whole cattle mutilation narrative seriously was that

  • it was rural
  • it did not fit into a neat box (sports, crime, politics)
  • it was rural
  • it was difficult to cover, and there were no official spokespeople
  • it was rural
  • it was non-serious, "soft," involving UFOs and what-not.
Consequently, the reporters involved were not necessarily the A-Team. At the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph, the main reporter was a middle-aged feature writer, a friend of my dad's, who had mastered the art of being inconspicuous and inoffensive. She never rocked the boat and always wrote down what her sources told her. (She did have a more interesting life outside the newsroom, however.) Her stories were treated more as entertainment than as "hard news" -- and yes, the blatant phallicism of that term is entirely appropriate.

What strikes me about this newest story is the totally uncritical acceptance of the old 1970s narrative.

The mutilations are carried out with "surgical precision." Oh yeah? Did you ask any surgeons, veterinary or otherwise? Did you know that a cut in flesh, left to sit in the sun for a day or two, will swell and look smoother (more precise), even if made with canine teeth?

There is "no blood." Have you studied what happens to blood in a corpse, how it pools at the lowest point and coagulates?

And who is interviewed? Some UFO expert.

Who is not interviewed? An expert on four-footed predators. A specialist in veterinary necropsy (your local vet is not a specialist). An expert on narrative frames applied to inexplicable events, such as "satanic panics, " witch hunts, and other folklore.

The last is perhaps the most important. The woo-woo factor, you know.

A couple of days after the Chieftain article, another piece appeared in the Denver Post: "Wild Dogs Terrorize Eastern Plains."

Delivery drivers have been stranded in their vehicles, cattle stampeded and stockmen have lost sheep, goats, lambs, calves and even pet dogs, county officials say.

Do you suppose there might be a connection? There could be other explanations, equally mundane.

But once the woo-woo narrative frame is imposed, events are seen as strange and mysterious, revealing our fears about satanists, Vietnam veterans, or whatever the latest scary thing is.

* Chas S. Clifton, “Mutilation Madness,” Fate, June 1988: 60-70.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Gallimaufry with Old Bones

¶ Some British Pagans want to rebury a 4,000-year-old skeleton. It seems to me that they are just parroting NAGRPA language without realizing that (to borrow from another blogger) that the Archbishop of Canterbury has as much "blood" claim to the bones as they do.

¶ George Plimpton was an American writer of what was once called "new journalism" and is now called creative nonfiction. But this article about him in The Nation also points out to what extent famous literary journals were subsidized by the CIA as part of the culture war with the Soviet Union. Who says our government does not support the arts?

¶ Anne Hill defines "California Cosmology" and its evil twin.

Apparently "analog" now means "natural." I missed that.

So is the “planetary consciousness” of neotribal gatherings like Boom just window dressing for the same old hedonistic consumption and pursuit of distraction? Perhaps. But as a self-consciously visionary environment, Boom necessarily foreshadowed the apocalypse as much as the eco-dream.

¶ A wall painting at the Neolithic town of Catal Huyuk was often called the world's oldest map. But what if it is not a map at all? Would that mean that map-making was not practiced by "peaceful ancient matriarchies" but was invented by them evil Kurgans?

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Gallimaufry with Frankincense.

¶ Burn more frankincense in your rituals: it is psychoactive.

¶ From this side of the pond, I would say that if not enough young people are not taking up Morris dancing, they are not getting drunk enough first. (In England?! -- ed.) Will it be only the Pagans and that sort who keep it going?

¶ Five top faked memoirs of recent years.

¶ Aiieee, it's the end of the world! The solar storm will wipe out all our gadgetry!

¶ Aiieee, it's the end of the world! The Ice Age is coming!

So learn some basic skills and have a plan, I reckon. And burn frankincense.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Needed: Druids with Scuba Gear

Yes, the news of a possible stone circle under Lake Michigan has been "surprisingly under-reported."

If verified, the carvings could be as much as 10,000 years old – coincident with the post-Ice Age presence of both humans and mastodons in the upper midwest.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Kink on Other Planets

Plain vanilla me, I have read none of the ten kinkiest science fiction books.

I give myself one point for knowing about the Gor series and knowing that there are people who like to act them out.

If you have read any of them, feel free to comment.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Joe Biden Freaked by Naked Goddess

This happened just down the road from me, but I had to read The Wild Hunt to learn about it.

Vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden was apparently unable to give his standard speech in the presence of a statue of the goddess Diana in downtown Pueblo, so the goddess was covered by black cloth and hidden by a flag.

"Is he just as bad as Palin?" M. asked.


UPDATE: Joe Biden as channeled by Iowahawk.

"I'm not going to lie to you - it doesn't take a weatherman to know that hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, a hard rain is gonna fall, all along the watchtower," said the Delaware Senator, strumming on a pantomime guitar. "There will be a point -- maybe one week, maybe two weeks after the inauguration -- when the opinion polls will look bad. Really horribly bad. Despite our best efforts, a couple of mid-size cities will inevitably be vaporized. People will be complaining. 'Why are you nationalizing the Safeway?' 'When is Omaha going to stop glowing?' 'Why do the Chinese soldiers keep asking for my papers?' When this happens, we will need you to keep supporting us because, trust me, you really won't want to be observed not supporting us."

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Discover a New Cartoonist

The cartoonist's work is now published in blog form.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

"Order Your Crystal Skulls Now"

Accompanied by a photo of Indiana Jones, that was the message at a rock-and-crystal dealer's booth that I saw yesterday at the INATS West trade show, whose slogan is Connecting Business, Spirit & Sales.

In case you are unsure, microscopic examination shows that the famous crystal skulls were produced on 19th-century machinery. Learn more here.

They do not contain messages from the Pleiadean Brotherhood, street maps of downtown Atlantis, or proof that Elvis and Jesus were the same being.

(Well, maybe I could argue the last in a freewheeling archetypal way. Alcohol not necessary but helpful.)


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Nazi Archaeology and the Holy Grail

There really was a Nazi archaeologist who sought the Holy Grail and wrote a book about it, Otto Rahn:

There was more in a similar vein -- a lot more. To the untrained ear, this has a note of desperate flannel about it. However, Himmler loved the book and ordered 5,000 copies to be bound in the finest leather and distributed to the Nazi elite. By now it must have dawned on Rahn that he was swimming with some extremely nasty sharks. It must also have dawned on him that he was trapped -- especially when he read the proofs of Lucifer's Court and found that one blatantly anti-Semitic passage had been inserted by someone else.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

When Librarians Strike Back

A fairly brilliant fund-raising idea in Alamogordo, New Mexico: funding a new library with photos of a local book-burning.

The book burning pitted two opposing points of view. It was "not a book-burning, but a holy bonfire," according to the church's founding pastor, Jack Brock.....On one side [of the street] were Brock and members of his congregation. They burned a few books in the Harry Potter series and other titles, and "pornographic magazines," Brock said in a telephone interview Saturday.

They stated the belief that the books had satanic origins and could influence children to take up witchcraft.

Oh, that "satanic" Potter kid. Let's make him the poster child for libraries and bookstores everywhere.

Wait, he already is! Right: Hogwarts-themed bookstore parade entry, Fourth of July 2007, Mendocino, California.

(Pointy-hat tip to Broomstick Chronicles.)

UPDATE: Bad link fixed (Thanks, Erik).

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Friday, February 01, 2008

"My late husband was an official in the Ministry..."

Noticed fewer bogus emails from West Africa lately? Maybe this is why.

There is always the old way.

UPDATE: I had to add a link to this picture.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Gallimaufry with Temporal Dislocation

¶ It's not too late to travel in time.

This one is more for beginners. Basically dress in period clothing (preferably Victorian era) and stagger around amazed at everything. Since the culture's set in place already, you have more of a template to work off of. (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

¶ Time travel of a different kind: An American soldier in Iraq visits Ur of the Chaldees.

¶ I am a sucker for this kind of thing. For more futures that never happened and dead ends on the road to Now, try Modern Mechanix.

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Monday, April 30, 2007

Postcards from the Future that Never Was

From a German chocolate maker in 1900, postcards showing life in 2000.

Thank the gods we never got to the personal flying machines, when you consider how some people drive in just two dimensions.

The source is Paleo-Future, a blog that looks into "the future that never was." (Via Making Light.)


Saturday, April 21, 2007

40 Things That Only Happen in Movies


10. The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window of any building in Paris.

13. If staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises wearing their most revealing underwear.

17. If you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts, your opponents will wait patiently to attack you one by one by dancing around you in a threatening manner until you have defeated their predecessor.

Read them all.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lutheran Terrorists Release Brit Captives

And now for something completely different: From the fertile brain of Iowahawk, Midwest Peace Breakthrough as British Marines Released. (He can even do Brit tabloid headline-ese. Man's a genius.)


The surprise morning release of the 38 sailors and marines ended a tense three-day standoff between the British government and a breakaway Lutheran militia group that controls large swaths of the notorious "Manure Triangle" region spanning Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.


As he skipped and cartwheeled off to the waiting double-decker, a beaming Rumpsworthy turned to BBC cameras and shouted, "Look, Mum! Weeee! I'm a hero!"


The former captives' ordeal began Tuesday, when the British destroyer HMS Chamberlain was conducting joint training exercises with the US Navy at Great Lakes Naval Training Station on Lake Michigan, just north of Chicago. According to insurgent naval commander Chuck Sorenson, the vessel strayed into Lutheran territorial waters.

"Oh yah, dey were totally on the Wisconsin side," said Sorenson. "I was tossin' some empty driveway patch cans out dere in my storage shed and I could see 'em out dere on da lake, big as day."

Read the whole thing.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007


¶ From an obituary of Frank Conroy (once director of the Iowa Writer's Workshop) on what a writing teacher does:

"You have to get across to them that the work is separate from them. That's what good work is: a life independent of the life of the author. So you have unintended qualities in the prose -- personal tics, pretending to write, instead of really writing. All writers have to go through this and get it past them. I try to make that quicker for them rather than longer.

¶ "The Law of Attraction." Jeff Lilly at Druid Journal has a great round-up posting.

¶ I always wondered how much money it takes to get people to appear on "Wife Swap."

Then an acquaintance who is active in Paganism-and-popular culture was contacted by a staff member for the show. (An illiterate email, she said, which made her think he was some kind of Internet troll instead.)

It's $10,000. And, yes, they want more Wiccans. We're the reliable "other" now.

At one time, Wiccans were rare enough in the public eye that we were seen as a motley collection of individuals. Now we are a class, a group, so it is possible to stereotype us. That is a measure of success, in a sort of back-handed way--except when too many negative traits are projected onto us. This process is know as "alterity," if you speak PoMo.

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If you blog it, they will come

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Banning Pagans on aesthetic grounds

An Australian reporter dumps on tacky (to him) Pagans.

Pagans infested my university, were constantly pulling out ouija boards at parties and could often be found in the bush near my home, dripping candle wax on one another and swapping Tori Amos albums.

And the commenters dump on him, although signing yourself "Shining Wolf of Indiana" might just be playing right into his hand, you think?

Meanwhile, my university is not what you would call trendy. We are heavy on "non-traditional" (over 25) students, and even a surprising number of the "traditionals" are working full time and/or are married and/or have a kid.

So imagine my surprise at spotting my first (apparent) furry in an English composition class next door to my office, wearing some kind of loose top, a short skirt, and a long, racoonish fake fur tail hanging over the skirt.

We are already wild animals, as Gary Snyder points out. But some of us want to be cartoon animals.

UPDATE: Bad link fixed.

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• When driving east from Colorado, I often make a short pilgrimage to Carhenge.

• BeliefNet has cut me off again. Restoring this blog to BlogHeaven is a "top priority," my contact there said. That was three days ago. Again, I am baffled; I have not changed my RSS or Atom feed settings or anything like that. Eventually, I will just stop caring.

• "I guess we're mainstream now--and thus ripe for parody," said the person who emailed me this item from The Onion.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Wicca, ELF, and insomnia

I had a lot of trouble sleeping this past week. Too much waking up with full bladder around 5 a.m. and then being unable to return to sleep, sliding instead into the pre-dawn jim-jams. "My Wasted Life" and other such perennial themes.

Pre-dawn wakefulness always reminds me of one of the first Church of Wicca Samhain seminars that M. and I attended in 1977 or so. We were among the “young folks” at those gatherings--there was a larger middle-aged contingent that was less into religious Pagan Witchcraft and more into dowsing, remote viewing, experiments with ESP, energy healing, and various kinds of “fringe science.”

Several of the men, including, of course, Gavin Frost and Loy Stone, had been trained as engineers and had an engineer’s pragmatic attitude towards magic, broadly defined.

One speaker gave a talk about the military’s experiments with extremely low frequency radiation (3–30 Hz), which is utilized by our navy and the Russians to communicate with submerged submarines. He suggested that these nefarious experiments were causing mental disturbance in humans—possibly because the frequency chosen was close to the Earth’s own natural radio frequency—after thirty years I do not remember exactly.

To prove his point, he asked the audience if they were frequently awakened around 4 a.m. Hands shot up around the room.

All I could think about was that with at least four time zones represented, “4 a.m.” was not just one moment.

But later, as I aged, I realized that four o’clock was a fine time to lie awake and think about all the failures and worries of your life, and that doing so just seemed to be part of middle age.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Medieval Help Desk

Twice as funny today because the university's network has been acting up, and I spent much of the morning in fact on the telephone with various Help Desk technicians.

Tip of the English woolen cap to Fretmarks.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Piglet is in trouble again

click this picture for moreNo, Kanga has not mistaken him for Baby Roo and is trying to give him a bath.

It's certain Middle Eastern Muslims again who have it in for A.A. Milne's character.

A blogger in Qatar reports that images of Piglet are being censored from children's books. Follow the link for photos of the evidence.

Next step, perhaps: stern imams will thunder in their Friday sermons: "Do not even think of a cartoon pig, or you will be damned!"

The censored Piglet is the colorized, Disney-fied version. The Piglet in the graphic here, however, is based on Ernest H. Shepard's original 1920s pen-and-ink drawings.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Oh my iGod!
From a PhotoShop contest with an Apple theme. (Click photo for larger image. Hat tip: Violet Blue.)


Friday, January 19, 2007

The Nigerian (419) Book Scam

In the early 1980s, M. and were dues-paying members of the Fellowship of Isis--sort of a souvenir of our honeymoon in Ireland, when we made a couple of visits to Clonegal Castle, its headquarters.

Our contact details were published in the FOI newsletter, which brought several letters to us from Nigeria.

They always took the same form: "Dear Glorious Wonderful Adepts . . . I so much want to learn blah blah blah . . . Please send me all of the books that you have . . . for free."

Having received a bunch of these letters, I was pretty well inoculated against the "419 scam." You get those emails too, I am sure: the widow of the minister of something-or-other who has millions of dollars stashed in a bank account, and only you (or some other sucker) can help her retrieve them, with the help of God, of course.

(Lots of sample letters here, and if you want to have a little fun scamming the scammers, here are some helpful hints.)

So it was a blast from the past when Llewellyn forwarded to me this week a letter from one "Mr. Inemesit Sanctum" (if I read correctly) of Abia State, Nigeria.

It begins "Dear Spiritual Don," I wonder if he means "Don" in the Spanish/Italian sense, as in "Don Giovanni," or an Oxbridge academic "don." Perhaps the latter?

My edited book Living Between Two Worlds "opened his eyes" blah blah blah.

"I never knew that witchcraft could be so exciting and unassociated with the typical diabolism which I used to be told, which caused me a great dread of it."

Etc. etc. etc. And then the pitch:

"Finally, to cool my thirst, send me such books as [lists four titles from the Llewellyn catalog]. Doing this will give me and my yearning friends hope to climb the strange but exciting spiritual ladder."

No mention of payment, of course. That's the Nigerian touch. They never even offer to cover postage.

And the closing: "Yours spiritually."

Ah, nostalgia. A handwritten begging letter in this day of email 419 scams.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Barbie, the Hot Pagan Witch

I am in debt to Mark Morford's SF Gate column on the latest, must-have Barbie doll. (Mattel offers a dark-complexioned version as well.) She would be just right to look down on you and your plushies while you are reading some of Llewellyn Publications' latest teen-witch fiction. Read an excerpt online if you dare.

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Thursday, October 23, 2003

Demeter on a John Deere

I love a good conspiracy theory, especially when it involves what I always thought was one of the most innocuous of fraternal orders. You will find a calmer discussion here.

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Friday, September 05, 2003

Eighties flashback

Maybe if more people knew that the Freemasons had sex slaves , their membership would not be declining!

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