Friday, October 28, 2011

Fun Friday Facts #14: Halloween Edition

Halloween's coming up, and that means we're all going to be dressing up in ridiculous costumes, getting drunk and trying not to talk politics with the guy in the Obama mask. I'll do my part by giving you guys something else to discuss at the Halloween party.

1) Like with most things, scholars debate the origins of Halloween. I guess if you're a scholar, you've got to spice life up somehow.

"I say, George, let's have a debate." "Capital idea, Roscoe."

Some scholars insist that the origins of Halloween go back to the Roman Empire. These people claim they can detect “Halloween-y” elements in such ancient Roman festivals as Parentalia, a nine-day celebration honoring dead ancestors, or Pomona, a festival honoring the goddess of tree-fruit.

They had a deity for everything, those Romans.

Then again, you're always going to have someone giving credit to the Romans. They would've wanted it that way.

2) Most scholars – that is, the ones who didn't draw the short straws in the pre-debate topic-assignment ceremony – believe that Halloween has its roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. There's no indication that this festival originally had anything to do with supernatural creatures, or even that it held pre-Christian religious significance. It was celebrated as a harvest festival, and marked the end of the year on the Celtic calendar.

It's unclear when Samhain became a time for ghosts and evil spirits to roam the earth, but historical records begin to discuss this around the 10th century AD. Samhain found its way onto the Catholic calendar as All Hallow's Eve, or the night before All Saint's Day, in the 8th century AD. Irish Catholics, however, celebrated All Saint's Day on 20 April through much of the Middle Ages, while Samhain remained a folk festival.

3) Trick-or-treating, and dressing up in costumes, can also be traced back to Britain in, you guessed it, the Middle Ages. Poor people began doing something they called “souling” on All Hallow's Eve. They'd go around the neighborhood, knocking on doors and begging for food. In return, they'd promise to offer prayers for the dead on All Saint's Day.

Halloween costumes appeared in Scotland in about the 16th century, when young men began wrapping themselves in white sheets and wearing masks, veils or soot on their faces to impersonate ghosts. The idea, of course, was to either fool or ward off the real ghosts.

Children didn't begin putting on costumes and begging for treats until the 19th century. The first recorded instance of trick-or-treating as we know it comes from, again, Scotland, in 1895. The custom was first recorded in North America in Kingston, Ontario, in 1911, where it was so unusual it made the local newspaper. The term “trick-or-treat” was first coined in Alberta, Canada in 1927.

Trick-or-treating didn't take off in the United States until the 1930s, but by the 1940s, it had become a an age-old tradition.

Well, that was fast.

4) The tradition of carving a jack o'lantern originates from Ireland. Just one more thing the Irish have to be proud of, along with sexy accents and singlehandedly populating the East Coast.

According to Irish legend, a man named Stingy Jack once asked the Devil himself out for a drink. Stingy Jack, of course, didn't want to pay for the drinks. They called him “Stingy Jack” for a reason.

Somehow, Stingy Jack managed to convince the Devil to turn himself into a coin, with which Jack promised to pay the barman. Instead, Jack put the coin in his pocket, where he also kept a silver cross. The presence of the cross kept the Devil trapped in coin form. When Jack finally released the Devil, he made the Devil swear to leave him alone for a year. Jack knew his Devil, so he also made the Devil give up any claim to Jack's soul.

A year later, Jack talked the Devil into fetching some fruit from the upper branches of a tree. While the Devil was in the tree, Jack carved a cross into its trunk, trapping the Devil once more.

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...dammit!!"

Jack released the Devil a second time after making him promise to leave Jack alone for ten more years.

Alas, before Jack had the chance to trick the Devil a third time, he died. God wouldn't let him into Heaven, because he was a sinful bastard who was known to consort with the Devil. The Devil wouldn't let him into Hell, because, well, he was understandably upset. All Jack got from the Devil was a hot coal from the infernal flames, and probably a huge “F*ck you.”

"Seriously, Jack, f*ck you."

Poor Jack was forced to roam the night for eternity. He put the hot coal into a hollowed-out turnip to light his way. People started carving hideous faces into root vegetables and putting them in their windows, to scare away the spirit of Stingy Jack and any other nasty spirits that might be roaming the night on All Hallow's Eve.

5) You may have noticed I said “turnip,” not pumpkin. The first jack o'lanterns were made from beets, turnips, rutabagas and large potatoes. Pumpkins are native to North America, so they didn't become standard jack o'lantern material until Scotch and Irish immigrants arrived, found them and said, “Hey, guys, look at this, it even has a handle!”

How convenient!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Vampire Watermelons: The Garden Patch Isn't Safe Anymore

A Mother Life

One of my readers, a mysterious figure known only as AcrylicCatt, has brought to my attention the existence of vampire fruit. Vampire watermelons and vampire pumpkins, to be exact.

Naturally, I couldn't just let this one slide.

The belief in vampire watermelons and pumpkins seems to originate from the Roma people of Kosovo-Metohija, in Yugoslavia. Historian Tatomir Vukanovic traveled there from 1933 to 1948, while studying the culture and folklore of the Roma and Serbs. Years later, the tidbit about vampire watermelons (and pumpkins) turned up in Vukanovic's longer essay on Roma vampire folklore, published in the not-so-politically-correct Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society.

Apparently, the Roma professed a heartfelt belief in vampire fruit, claiming that pumpkins, and especially watermelons, were known to develop a taste for blood and fight one another. They were even said to roll around, looking to do harm to humans by, presumably, bumping up against them or something, since they don't have teeth.

"I vant to suck your bluuuuuuuud...somehow..."

Watermelons and pumpkins are said to develop a taste for human blood if they're left outside under the light of a full moon. Watermelons, apparently, may also turn into vampires if they're kept longer than ten days. Pumpkins, however, can turn into vampires if they're kept until after Christmas, or longer than three years, though I'm not sure how that works out.

Christmas still comes every year, right?

Once it has made the ghastly transformation, vampire ground fruit is said to roll around, “shaking itself” and growling. I guess they're capable of moving pretty well under their own steam, hence the “looking for people to bump up against” part of the legend.

Maybe they could jump at you? ~ Eric Kilby

You can tell when your watermelon or pumpkin has become a vampire, because it will start weeping blood.

Like this.

Don't get freaked out, it's not really blood. Watermelons start to leak a little after a few days. It's normal. It's not going to eat you.


You get rid of vampire watermelons, pumpkins and possibly even gourds the same way you get rid of lobsters – by plunging them into boiling water.

"Please! I have kids!" ~ Jerzy Strzelecki

Then you scrub the offending fruit with a “broom” (or a bristle brush, I'm assuming), discard it, and then burn the broom. Cause, you know, it's got vampire juice all over it by now.

Something tells me they were putting you on, Vukanovic. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Zombies 101: Keeping Your Head When the Whole World Wants to Eat It

A Mother Life

The regular apocalypse might have stood us up last week, but that doesn't mean the Zombie Apocalypse couldn't still come. If the regular apocalypse does show up eventually, there will probably be zombies anyway. I seem to remember reading about that in the Bible, back when I was 12 and looking for curse words.

Now, when I say “keeping your head,” I mean, literally. If you can't stay calm when your friends, neighbors and loved ones become walking corpses ravenous for your flesh, I can't help you.

In this post, I'm going to teach you guys how to kill zombies. I would've thought killing zombies would be common knowledge by now, but I guess I'd be wrong. I was recently talking to some friends on Twitter, and it became obvious, through the course of our conversation, that they did not know how to kill zombies.

I was appalled.

Of course, you take out the brain or cut off the head, right? Everyone knows that. Well, everyone knows that now.

Trouble is, it can get more complicated, depending on what kind of zombies you're dealing with.

Yes, there are different kinds of zombies. There are:

Stupid Zombies

These are the shuffling, arms-out, groaning, “Braaaiiins” type of zombies that you see in most of the films. They are literally the walking dead. Their brains have rotted out and their bodies will also be rapidly deteriorating as they go, especially if it's a hot summer day.

This is an ice cream cone, but you get the idea. ~ Rex Roof

Apparently they can't even smell you or anything, because both Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead feature human characters who move freely among the undead by shuffling, moaning, sticking their arms out and, in the case of Bill Murray, caking on a lot of makeup.

Their only strengths seem to be, well, literal strength, and total f*cking scariness. They're not particularly slow, but I bet they'd slow down a lot once their legs rot and snap off. Until then, you can probably outrun them, if you're in reasonably good shape. Adrenalin rush, and all that. Besides, they're stupid, so you could totally outsmart them.

Unless you're stupid yourself.

All you have to do with this kind of zombie is keep yourself heavily armed, avoid dense population centers and any other areas where large amounts of people once hung out (like Wal-Mart), and don't put yourself in a potential ambush situation. Stay out of wooded areas, and don't enter any buildings, rooms, blind alleyways or cars without thoroughly checking them for zombies first.

Send in a puppy -- if it gets eaten, stay out. ~ NewYorker10021

Head for an easily defensible position on high ground, preferably fortified, and wait. You'll need food, water, ammunition, and medical supplies. Don't forget to do the decent thing and save a life or two, cause you'll also need someone to talk to while you're holed up in there. Don't save any a**holes, though, cause you'll regret it.

Eventually all the zombies will either a) freeze to death when winter comes, b) kill themselves by walking off cliffs or into the ocean or something because, remember, they're not smart, or c) rot to helpless freaking pieces. Who knows, they might even eat each other instead of you.

Fast Zombies

These are usually less the “walking dead” type of zombie and more the “infected by a horrible super-virus” kind of zombie. The good news is, they probably won't be as fast as vampires.

The bad news is, they probably won't be technically dead, so you may not be able to count on the rotting thing. All the same safety rules apply, but also, take up jogging. Now. Before they come for us.

We can only hope the fast-zombie virus kills its victims quickly and with certainty, or else you'll have to get used to a world roamed by super-fast, super-strong flesh-eating monsters.

Or maybe they'll recover, and then you can shoot them anyway. ~ Graham Colm

Smart Zombies

There's a very good chance the fast zombies will also be smart zombies. After all, no one says the fast-zombie virus affects cognitive function.

If you're up against smart zombies, you will probably have to outsmart them. If the zombies remain exactly as smart as they were when they were people, this could be easy, because most people are dumb as rocks.

Except for my faithful readers, of course.

If the zombies get smarter, however, you're probably f*cked. Especially if they're also really fast. Cause don't forget, they're also super-strong.

Same safety rules apply however – avoid densely populated areas, Wal-Marts, etc. Learn how to make some really good booby traps, cause you're going to need to set them once you get to your defensible area, assuming you make it that far.

If you find yourself ambushed by really smart, really fast, really strong zombies, throw some puppies at them. Hope they get distracted long enough to make a break for it.

We're going to need a lot more puppies.

You might try taking the zombie leader hostage, though that sounds like a really bad plan to me.

Otherwise, you could kill yourself. Or see how the other half lives. It's really up to you.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fun Friday Facts #13: Spooky Animals

Blogging about spooky animals while sitting in the creepy basement office alone at night – probably a bad idea. Here goes:

1) Black cats are supposed to be bad luck, right? Well, that depends where you live. In parts of the British Isles and in Japan, black cats are considered good luck. The Japanese also apparently believe that ladies who keep black cats get laid more often.

"Sup, beautiful?" ~ Boulgakov

European suspicions about black cats can be traced to Norse legend. Freya, the goddess of love, fertility, death and war (cause those things go together) was said to travel in a chariot pulled by seven black devil-cats. These cats were also capable of turning into horses, for some reason.

"Meow." ~ BLW

After seven years of faithful service, the cats were rewarded by being turned into witches. As witches, they could take the form of cats at will. Later, medieval Europeans, being the level-headed, reasonable people they were, decided that all black cats were either witches, or working for witches, and went around killing every one they could find.

This led to a shortage of cats, which led to a surplus of rats, which led to whole lot more Black Death.

"Let's just burn people until it stops."

2) Anti-black cat prejudice traveled to the New World with the Pilgrims, who continued to excecute the animals and their owners. Today, Americans remain suspicious of black cats – so much so that they needed their own holiday. On National Black Cat Awareness Day (17 August), American animal shelters lower adoption fees and put colorful scarves on their black cats, in hopes of finally getting some of them adopted.

"Please take me home, I'm only a little demon."

3) Black dogs don't get off the hook either. British folklore tells of a huge black demon dog with glowing red eyes. If that sounds like the Hound of the Baskervilles to you, that's because it is. Arthur Conan Doyle drew from local legend when he wrote that story.

The Black Dog is said to roam the moors at night, and has a particular fondness for lightning storms, apparently. They can be found lurking at stiles, gates, crossroads, execution sites, along ancient paths...

...and right behind you. ~ Liza Pheonix

Some of these ghost dogs are said to be the souls of executed criminals, while others are just straight-up demons. Sometimes, they attack people. If you see one, you're probably gonna die – or at least get really sick.

4) Like the black cat thing, the black dog legend made it to America. The Black Dog of the Hanging Hills is said to roam the traprock ridges overlooking the Quinnipiac River Valley. It's said to be a rather small dog, that moves silently and leaves no tracks. It's even said to be friendly. If you see it once, you'll have good luck; twice, you'll have bad luck; three times, and you die.

Among those who've succumbed to the Black Dog of the Hanging Hills's curse was geologist Herbert Marshall. Marshall and colleague W.H.C. Pynchon were doing field work in the Hanging Hills when they spotted the famous Black Dog. Moments later, Marshall, who had already seen the dog twice, slipped and fell from a cliff. He did not survive.

Beware the Weiner Dog of Death!

5) In Europe, wolves get a bad rap too. While Native American cultures revered the wolf as a wise hunter and sometimes even as a creator god, medieval Europeans definitely did not.

Then again, they didn't seem to like much of anything.
Wolves in medieval Europe were assigned all sorts of magical powers. If a horse trod on a wolf's pawprint, it could become lame. If you managed to make eye contact with a wolf, you'd go blind. Wolves were said to sharpen their teeth before they hunted, and were believed capable of cooking meat by breathing on it.

Many pre-Christian tribes revered wolves and dressed themselves up in wolfskins for certain celebrations. As Christianity spread across the continent, reasonable, level-headed converts deduced that their neighbors must be capable of turning into wolves, because you totally can't see their legs sticking out of those costumes.

6) Which brings us to the werewolf. Apparently, they don't have tails, because, you know, people don't have tails either.

Nope, no tail.

We all know what a werewolf is, but it turns out becoming one is more complicated than you'd think. The whole “bitten by a werewolf, turn into a werewolf” thing is a modern invention. In the Middle Ages, people became werewolves by sleeping outside under the full moon, rubbing themselves down with a special ointment, or drinking magical potions. The condition was often cured by exorcism, treatment with wolfsbane, or through surgical procedures. These procedures included driving nails through the hands, or smacking the person on the head with a knife. Other cures included calling the werewolf's full name three times, converting it to Christianity, or giving it a stern talking-to.

"You put that lady down and turn back into a human RIGHT NOW, mister!"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Everything You Need to Know About Vampires, If You Care About Your Immortal Soul

I Don't Like Mondays Blog Hop

I'll tell you guys something – I grew up on vampire stories. I was obsessed with that sh*t as a kid. I'm talking Bram Stoker's Dracula, Salem's Lot, The Lost Boys, Nosferatu – the old-school vampires, none of this sparkly crap you get now. No, those were real vampires, the sort you have to kill three different ways to make sure they're dead.

In the past couple of decades, vampires have become a whole lot less threatening. What used to be a ruthless predator hungry for our very blood has become a melodramatic pretty boy who mopes around crying because he just loves us too much.

That's exactly what they want you to think.

Vampires are sexy, and they know it. They're primal beasts ruled by passion. They have dangerous urges they can't control. They're charming. They're sophisticated. They have long signatures. And they can control your thoughts.

Don't believe the hype. Don't trust these sons of b*tches. The minute you let your guard down, they will suck your freaking blood.

Here's what you need to know to stay safe:

Vampires Cannot – I Repeat, CANNOT – Go Out in the Sun

I don't care what anyone tells you. I don't care what excuses they make. “Oh, they can go out in the sun, they're just more sensitive than we are.”

Bullsh*t. Any vampire worth his coffin will fry to a crisp in direct natural light, and he knows it. These “sensitivity” stories come straight out of the vampire propaganda machine.

Vampires cannot go out in the sun. They can't go out wearing sun block, a floppy hat, big sunglasses and long sleeves. They can't go out carrying a parasol. They can't go out on a cloudy day. They can't go out in the sun. Period.

Anyone who tells you different is lying.

Vampires Have No Reflections

This is one of the ways you can identify them. Vampires have no souls, so they can't see themselves in a mirror, or any other reflective surface. They don't show up on film, and they can't be videotaped.

Those guys in the movies are just actors, after all.

Vampires Always Write Their Names Backwards

Like most very intelligent human beings, vampires tend to underestimate the intelligence of those around them. The average vampire thinks he's going to fool us by writing his name backward. Of course, unless his name is actually Dracula, it will probably work. Just look for the pale guy with the really weird name.

Vampires Need to Sleep in Soil from Their Original Graves to Remain Healthy

Look for the pale guy with the weird name who smells like corpse dirt.

Vampires (Probably) Hate Garlic

There seems to be some debate over this. Apparently, according to Eastern European folklore, garlic is a catch-all talisman against evil forces. So, I'm thinking this might work well on really old or Eastern European vampires, but maybe not so much against a young vampire from L.A.

Maybe shallots?

Vampires Hate Crosses

And holy water, and Bibles, and Christian religious symbols in general. This is presumably because they're soulless children of Satan, but I can't help thinking it seems a little unfair to the other religions. If you don't have a cross, crucifix or Bible handy, try brandishing a statue of the Buddha. Let me know what happens.

Back off, b*tch, or I'll open a can of enlightenment on your ass.

If That Fails, Burn It

Few things, living or undead, can stand up against a flame thrower. It might not kill the vampire, but it will slow it down.

Vampires Can't Come in Without Being Invited

So whatever you do, for the love of God, don't let them into your house.

Vampires Can, And Sometimes Must, Be Killed Three Different Ways

You know there's always going to be some idiot who goes ahead and invites the vampire in, putting you in danger. Feel free to toss this idiot into the vampire's arms and make a run for it, but remember that vampires are ten times stronger than you, ten times faster than you, and also, they can fly. So you're really only buying yourself about ten seconds there.

No, eventually, you're going to have to face the vampire and kill it. At this point, it's useful to know what kind of vampire you're facing.

Yes, there are different kinds of vampires. There are stupid vampires and there are smart vampires.

Stupid vampires are generally the minions of smart vampires. They're people who were drained dry, died, and then came back to “life.” They're like strong, fast zombies who can fly and don't rot. They're usually relatively young, as vampires go, and you can usually just stake them in the heart and be done with it.

Remember, the heart is on the left side.

Smart vampires occur when a vampire feeds from a human without killing, and then shares some of its blood with that human. They retain human intelligence; in fact, they usually get smarter as the centuries go by. They can be a real b*tch to get rid of, especially if they're really old and powerful.

Whenever you've got a vampire infestation, what you're probably looking at is one smart, or “master,” vampire who has created a bunch of other ones from your neighbors. What you want to do is kill that master vampire, cause once you kill him, all the vampires he's created will die.

Neat, huh?

The trouble is, vampires gain stamina the older they get. So if you're facing a really old master vampire, a stake to the heart might just make it angry.

When that happens, you have to cut off the head.

Keep an axe handy. ~ b.gliwa

Once you've got the stake in the heart and the head cut off, you have a couple of options. You can wait till sunrise, then leave the pieces of vampire outside. Once they've turned to ashes, you can scatter the ashes, ensuring that none of the vampire's ghouls (humans under its control) come along and re-animate it by pouring blood over the remains.

Your other option is to drop both head and body into two separate bodies of running water. Vampires, like other supernatural beings, can't cross running water, so this effectively paralyzes it.

Van Helsing recommends that you ashify the vampire and then pour the ashes into a couple of different rivers.

You know, just to be on the safe side. ~ Wamito

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

10 Things that Have Nothing to Do With Anything, Really

Some of you have been complaining that I don't blog enough. You're right, of course, and I have no problem admitting that because I have a keen grasp of my own flaws (seriously). The trouble is, it's not that easy being awesome. It actually requires a lot of work.

So, here's a list of random sh*t until I think of something better:

1) Every time I wash a cucumber, I feel dirty.

2) Sometimes, I just open up my mouth, and the stupidest sh*t falls out. I don't even know where it comes from , but it's awful. Absolutely awful. A couple of months ago, for instance, I was talking to this pregnant lady of my acquaintance, who was about to give birth. She was telling me how she needed to get a C-section because the baby was “transverse.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“Oh, it means he's side to side instead of up and down.” She gestured to show me.

I opened up my mouth, and this stupid sh*t fell out: “Oh, is that why you look so wide?”

F&ck f&ck f&ckity f&ck f&ck f&ck.

And balls. ~ cdedbdme

3) For some time after I began co-habitating with my ex, Toad Blowhard, every pair of his socks immediately disappeared. He'd put them on his feet, and they'd never be seen again.

When I asked him about it, he shrugged and said, “I don't know, I put them in the laundry.”

“Well then how come they're never in there?” I'd ask.

He'd peer into the basket and say, “I see plenty of socks in there.”

“Those are my socks.”

“How do you know?”

“Because they don't f&cking stink.”

“It's not my fault if you lose my socks,” he'd reply. “Go buy some more.”

Six months and about 20 bags of new socks later, I happened to open up the small, ratty cupboard we kept on our front porch. Guess what it was full of?


Because I seem to have a thing for guys with stinky feet (or possibly because all guys just have stinky feet for some reason – I haven't quite figured this one out yet) the six months' worth of socks in that cupboard had sort of bonded together into one big, stiff ball of rancid cotton.

When I confronted him about it, he said, “Those aren't my socks.”

“Oh yeah? Where did they come from then? Cause we're missing a hell of a lot of socks.”

“The homeless man leaves them there.”

“What homeless man?”

“The one who sleeps on the porch every night.”

“Bullsh*t, there is no homeless man on the porch at night.”

“Yes, there is! You just don't see him because you're asleep.”

“Bullsh*t, I'm an insomniac. I would've noticed a homeless man sleeping on my porch every night for six months. Besides, a homeless man would get better use out of his socks.”

“Stop using those long words, you make me feel stupid.”

“That's because you are.”

I should've dumped him right then and there.

4) Toad Blowhard also sincerely believed that the Dark Ages pre-dated the Roman Empire.

I really know how to pick 'em.

5) I once dated a guy who carried a knife, spoon and fork with him at all times, in case he needed cutlery.

You never know when you might need cutlery. ~ Seng Jueh

6) That awkward moment when you're walking down the street by yourself, kinda late at night, on a particularly creepy road. You see a guy coming towards you, and you're not sure, but he seems to be muttering to himself. You think maybe you ought to cross the street, but you don't want to look like a paranoid freak, so you decide to be brave and walk past him. And then it turns out he was talking on a headset.

7) A couple of months ago, I was jogging after dusk, and I came upon a toad in the path. I knew that he might get stepped on, or run over by a bike, or squished in some other horrible manner. I think amphibians are cute, so I picked him up gently and moved him to the other side of the trail. Only later did I think, “Sh*t, what if he was going the other way?” To this day, I wonder if I inadvertently f*cked up that poor toad's whole life.

Poor toad...

8) I wonder how much of the U.S. unemployment rate can be blamed on Rapture-heads quitting their jobs back in May to go out and scream “The End is Near!” at random people on the streets. Seriously, people were dropping out of school, leaving work, abandoning their families and spending every cent they had to pass out flyers about this crap. I guess it's nice to know they care?

It'd be nicer to know they'd stopped breeding

9) Internet Rule #407: When confronted by a random a**shole on Twitter for no apparent reason, make sure you complain about it only on Facebook.

10) Internet Rule #406: Make sure that random a**hole isn't on your Facebook.

What we really need is a "right hook to the jaw" app.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fun Friday Facts #12: Apocalypse Edition

If you've been following along at home, you already know about Harold Camping and his apocalypse predictions. That's right, kids, the end of the world is upon us. Again. It's be re-scheduled for next Friday, the 21st of October.

According to this Time piece, Camping has added the word “probably” to his prediction. That's because he'd originally forecasted The End of All Things for May, but then it didn't happen. Before that, he'd predicted it for 31 March 1995, but that didn't happen either. Before that, he'd predicted it for September 1995, but that didn't happen either.

I'm sensing a pattern here. ~ Sgerbic

He shouldn't feel too bad. People have been predicting the End of Time since the Beginning of Time, and we're all still here.

Well, ok, not all. ~ METROgrl

1) Armageddon prophecies date back to at least 2800 BC. That's more than four thousand years of getting it wrong.

The first such prophecy ever (that we know of) appeared on an ancient Assyrian slab of clay. It read, “Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common.”

Hmmm...that kinda sounds familiar. ~ Lars Ploughman

2) The Romans had some apocalypse scares of their own. Many Romans believed that the world would end in 634 BC, when the Empire was 120 years old. According to Roman myth, Romulus, one of the cities founders, once had a vision in which 12 mystical eagles appeared to reveal the lifespan of the Empire. For some reason, everyone decided that each eagle represented ten years, and freaked out.

Because the world can't possibly go on without the Romans. ~ Foeke Noppert

Nobody actually knew what number the mystical (nonexistent) eagles had revealed to (also probably nonexistent) Romulus. When the world steadfastily refused to end in 634 BC, everyone presumably scrambled to reschedule Armageddon. They decided that the eagles must have given Romulus a much bigger number, and penciled in the Apocalypse in for 389 BC, presumably because it was far enough away for everyone's comfort.

3) Let's fast forward a few thousand years, to the 1980s. In 1988, a man called Edgar Whisenant published a book called 88 Reasons the Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988. He sold four and a half million copies. Despite his best efforts, the world still didn't end.

"Screw you, Edgar Whisenant."

Not to be discouraged, Edgar went on to publish The Final Shout: Rapture Report 1989, the following year. When the world still stubbornly continued to exist, Edgar published 23 Reasons Why A Pre-tribulation Rapture Looks Like It Will Occur on Rosh-Hashanah 1993. In 1994, he penned And Now The Earth's Destruction by Fire, Nuclear Bomb Fire.

For some reason, these later titles didn't sell as well.

4) Now let's go back in time again, to the year 1666.

So glad I bought this DeLorian. ~ WillMcC

As you know, 666 is the Number of the Beast. 1000 plus 666 equals 1666, so many Europeans of the time anticipated the coming of the Antichrist in that year. When it comes to Armageddon prophecies, there's nothing wrong with a bit of stretching.

Nothing at all.

Londoners were particularly concerned about this approaching date. To be fair, a bout of plague in 1665 had killed a fifth of the city's population. The nation was also at war with the Dutch, and things did not look good.

The world didn't end for Londoners, or anyone else, in 1666. The Great London Fire, which burned for three days and took out 13,000 homes and other structures, probably made it seem like it was ending, however.

This is why we can't have nice things.

5) Over in Turkey that same year, a man named Sabbatai Zevi was going around claiming to be the Messiah. He would've got away with it, too, except declaring yourself the Messiah seemed to be a popular career move back then. Another man, Nehemiah ha-Kohen, appeared to challenge Zevi.

When it became clear that Zevi was not the Messiah, he was arrested and forced to convert to Islam, under pain of death.

Pictured here.

Nehemiah, presumably, got off on the “What? I never said that!” defense.

6) Every once in a while, a cult leader pops up and claims to be talking to space aliens. This kind of thing has a way of recurring, cause some people will believe anything.

Case in point.

In the 1950s, a woman named Dorothy Martin founded the Seekers. According to Martin, aliens from planet Clarion had confided in her that massive floods would engulf the world on 21 December 1954.

December 21st? I've heard that date before...

The aliens apparently promised Martin they'd appear at her home in their flying saucers, and rescue the members of the cult. The Seekers left their homes, families, jobs and schools to gather at Martin's home on the appointed day. Aliens from planet Clarion did not appear. In other news, it did not rain.

Unlike some of the other prophecies I've discussed here, this one did some good for the world. Psychologists Henry Reicken, Leon Festinger, and Stanley Schachter infiltrated the group, under cover, as it were. They studied the believers, before, during and after the proposed Apocalyse, seeking to understand the psychological mechanisms of belief. Moreover, Reicken, Festinger and Schachter wanted to find out what happens when deeply held convictions are disproven beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Their 1956 book, When Prophecy Fails, is considered a classic in the field of social psychology to this day.

The question of why aliens chose to confide in a housewife from Chicago has never been answered.