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Philly Bombed Itself

The content below is from Episode 138 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This week I recommend you go back and watch some old home movies.
    • This past week as I was back in my home town area staying at my mom’s place, she mentioned she had dozens of DVDs that she had. Years ago she had our home video tapes (yes, actual tapes) converted to DVDs. I told her it would be easy to upload those DVDs to YouTube so our entire family could access them at any time.
      • She lit up! She got a laptop and a USB disc writer and by the time guests were showing up for Thanksgiving dinner I had uploaded hours of home videos.
        • My grandmother was GLUED to the TV as I played hours of us all living our lives back in the 90’s and early 2000’s.
  • My grandfather Patrick (Papa) passed away a few years ago and it was very special to show her videos of him. Now she can access those videos anytime.
    • If you don’t have home videos of your family then perhaps you can go back and look through some old photos with your family.
    • And I know home videos and old photos might bring up some old wounds for people. My parents separated ages ago and the videos we watched had them still together. But I would say it was worth it. I didn’t find myself wishing to go back to those days as a kid, but I did find myself being reminded of my childhood self. The joy, potential, and imagination I saw in my own childhood eyes woke something up in me. Not to mention, it reminded me how far I had come as a person since I was a kid.
    • It is a special thing, so I recommend you reflect on your past with home videos, pictures, or any way you can.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • May 19th of 1985 the Philadelphia Police dropped a bomb on a Philadelphian residential block. They let the fires blaze for over an hour and a half before allowing fire and rescue to respond.
  • MOVE – Revolutionary movement founded by John Africa
    • MOVE, originally the Christian Movement for Life, is a communal organization that advocates for nature laws and natural living, founded in 1972 in PhiladelphiaPennsylvania, United States, by John Africa (born Vincent Leaphart). The name, styled in all capital letters, is not an acronym. MOVE lived in a communal setting in West Philadelphia, abiding by philosophies of anarcho-primitivism.[1] The group combined revolutionary ideology, similar to that of the Black Panthers, with work for animal rights.
    • The group’s name, MOVE, is not an acronym.[7] Its founder, John Africa, chose this name to say what they intended to do. Members intend to be active because they say, “Everything that’s alive moves. If it didn’t, it would be stagnant, dead.”[8] When members greet each other they say “on the MOVE”.[8]
    • When the organization that would become MOVE was founded in 1972, John Africa was functionally illiterate.[9] John Africa dictated his thoughts to Donald Glassey, a social worker from the University of Pennsylvania, and created what he called “The Guidelines” as the basis of his communal group.[1] Africa and his mostly African-American followers wore their hair in dreadlocks, as popularized by the Caribbean Rastafari movement. MOVE advocated a radical form of green politics and a return to a hunter-gatherer society, while stating their opposition to sciencemedicine, and technology.[10]
    • Members of MOVE identify as deeply religious and advocate for life. They believe that as all living beings are dependent, their lives should be treated as equally important. They advocate for justice that is not always based within institutions. MOVE members believe that for something to be just, it must be just for all living creatures.[8] As John Africa had done, his followers changed their surnames to Africa to show reverence to what they regarded as their mother continent.[6][11][12]
    • In a 2018 article about the group, Ed Pilkington of The Guardian described their political views as “a strange fusion of black power and flower power. The group that formed in the early 1970s melded the revolutionary ideology of the Black Panthers with the nature- and animal-loving communalism of 1960s hippies. You might characterise them as black liberationists-cum-eco warriors.”[13] He noted the group also functioned as an animal rights advocacy organization. Pilkington quoted member Janine Africa, who wrote to him from prison: “We demonstrated against puppy millszooscircuses, any form of enslavement of animals. We demonstrated against Three Mile Island and industrial pollution. We demonstrated against police brutality. And we did so uncompromisingly. Slavery never ended, it was just disguised.”[13]
    • John Africa and his followers lived in a commune in a house owned by Glassey in the Powelton Village section of West Philadelphia. As activists, they staged bullhorn-amplified, profanity-laced demonstrations against institutions that they opposed, such as zoos, and speakers whose views they opposed. MOVE activities were scrutinized by law enforcement authorities,[14][15] particularly under the administration of Mayor Frank Rizzo, a former police commissioner known for his hard line against activist groups.[13]
    • In 1977, three MOVE members were jailed for inciting a riot, occasioning further tension, protests, and armed displays from the group.
    • Local news broadcasts labeled the MOVE revolutionaries as unwanted, saying they lived in the city while acting as if it were the forest, ignoring modern plumbing, trash collection, and pest control. According to local news, MOVE wanted to overthrow the corrupt government and go back to a more natural way of doing things.
      • Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo gave an interview on camera stating the group should be in prison.
      • The media painted MOVE as vile people who spoke in obscenities and barked over a loudspeaker day and night over Osage Avenue (their headquarters).
    • Former MOVE member Ramona Africa states all of this is a lie. She says MOVE spent most of their time getting along with the local community and taking their children to the park.
  • When MOVE was accused of murdering a Philly cop (Officer Ramp) in 1978, the city went in with fire hoses and bulldozers to “evict” the group. Shots were fired and 9 MOVE members were arrested. They were given 30 to 100-year sentences. To this day, former MOVE members deny the movement was involved in the murder of Officer Ramp.
  • On May 13th, 1985, Mother’s Day, hundreds of police went to Osage Avenue and demanded the “bazaar back to nature group MOVE” to come outside and submit to the cops.
    • The standoff went on throughout the day. That night the police commissioner Greg Samborg got on the loudspeaker and said “Attention MOVE, this is America. You have 15 minutes to come out.”
    • Eventually, tear gas and water hoses were used to try and evict MOVE.
    • The members went to the basement to seek shelter, but then the water began to fill up the basement. Once the tear gas began to enter the basement, according to Ramona Africa, MOVE started to come out the front of the house with their children… but the cops started to shoot into the house. MOVE returned fire.
    • When the shots stopped there was silence for days. Ramona says it was quiet for so long that they thought they were safe and in the clear… that’s when the bomb dropped.
    • The house shook violently and then began to heat up from the bomb’s fires. When the smoke started to below into the basement the MOVE members knew their home was on fire.
    • The Police had dropped bombs to evict 1 family and would up burning down 2 blocks……
    • Police Cheif Samborg told the fire commission to let the fire burn… the media ate it up.
    • As the MOVE members began to flee their home with their children, the police open fired.
    • Ramona Africa, while burnt, was handcuffed and taken to the hospital. Meanwhile, bodies of her MOVE family were being discovered at the site.
      • 5 children and 6 adults
      • The only person arrested and put on trial was Ramona Africa…
      • The jury found Ramona guilty of Arson and conspiracy…
      • ARSON, the cops caused the fire and put one of the victims of their fire on trial and she was convicted…. 13 months to 7 years. She did the 7 years
      • $33 Million dollars of tax payer money was spent rebuilding the 2 blocks destroyed by the fire… The houses that replaced them were poor quality. Sinking foundation, leaking roofs, and poor electric work.
  • The firefight ended when a police helicopter dropped two bombs onto the roof of the MOVE compound, a townhouse located at 6221 Osage Avenue.[3][4] The resulting fire killed six MOVE members and five of their children, and destroyed 65 houses in the neighborhood.
    • The police bombing was strongly condemned. The MOVE survivors later filed a civil suit against the City of Philadelphia and the PPD and were awarded $1.5 million in a 1996 settlement.[6] Other residents displaced by the destruction of the bombing filed a civil suit against the city and in 2005 were awarded $12.83 million in damages in a jury trial.
    • Kids. The cops killed 5 kids. That is all I need to know to make up my mind on this matter.
    • I’m sure MOVE wasn’t comprised of only saints who wanted to be at peace with the world. I’m sure they were annoying to their neighbors with their loudspeakers and display of firearms. I don’t know all the details. I only heard what the media had to say and what a MOVE survivor had to say in interviews.
    • But the fact is that the Philly Police Department killed 5 kids.
    • They intentionally burned down 2 blocks of a predominately black neighborhood 64 homes of which had NOTHING to do with the conflict costing the taxpayer $33 million in damages… and they killed kids.
  • Ramona Africa is still alive today and has the burn scars from that night in 1985. She has been offered reconstructive surgery to remove the scars, but she refused. “Why would I want to take it off? I want to be reminded.”

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Sports and Human History

The content below is from Episode 137 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This week I recommend you watch the new and popular movie Slumberland on Netflix starring Jason Momoa
    • A young girl discovers a secret map to the dreamworld of Slumberland, and with the help of an eccentric outlaw, she traverses dreams and flees nightmares, with the hope that she will be able to see her late father again.
    • I liked it and give it a solid 8/10. Shannon gave it an 8.5/10.
    • The critics gave it horrible reviews 3/10. But I say you ignore them.
    • My biggest critique was that it came off as hoaky and some of the acting seemed a bit forced (mainly the actress that plays Nemo the main character), but she is a kid. This is a movie for kids. It’s rated PG. It was a feel-good movie with cool special effects, interesting concepts, and Jason Mamoa’s undeniable charisma and zaniness.
    • I know Jason Momoa is known as an action guy, but his comedic timing was great. I also think he does REALLY well with kids and child concepts.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • I like sports. Hell, I even love sports. I don’t memorize stats or even watch professional sports on a consistent basis, but I do have a deep appreciation for each game.
  • Over the years I’ve heard tid bits of stories surrounding the history and origin of certain sports. So I decided to dig into that a little deeper and make a podcast episode about it.
  • I wanted to give an intro speech as to why sports matter, but I couldn’t find the best words so I googled it. I found an inspirational webpage on the topic from an unlikely and wholesome source: a dinky website called OntarioFootballandCheer.org a football and cheer leader club for kids. The person what wrote this gets it.
    • If there is a better place than sports to teach kids how to be courageous, determined, persistent, and patient, studies don’t show it. Sports can teach kids to lead, to follow, to take responsibility, working with others, sportsmanship, and so much more. Every athlete, regardless of ability, has the opportunity to learn lifelong skills through sports, and every athlete deserves the opportunity to do so.
      • Sports matter because they can give a voice to the voiceless
      • Sports matter to our culture, but sadly the entertainment value has begun to outweigh the educational value of sports, and it has trickled down to the youth level. Yet they could be so much more than that.
      • Sports matter because they can change lives.
      • Sports matter because they might be the one positive in an otherwise crappy life for a kid.
      • Sports matter because they can provide a child with a positive, influential role model in a life that may not have one.
      • Sports matter because they reveal and develop character.
      • Sports matter, because they might keep a kid on the straight and narrow when other influences are leading him or her down a far darker path.
      • Sports matter for every kid, from the star quarterback to the kid who can barely run 10 yards without getting winded, but still has the courage to be in the arena, daring greatly.
      • Sports matter for every community that needs something to rally around.
      • Sports matter for everyone who wants a stronger, healthier nation.
      • It’s high time every one of us takes a stand and commits to doing them the right way.
Reference back to an older Who’d a Thunk It? episode about the Cleveland Indian’s 10 cent beer night and how horrific that turned out
  • Baseball
    • The most popular story about the origin of Baseball is that a guy named Abner Doubleday invented it in the summer of 1839 and later went on to be a Civil War hero.
      • But that story isn’t true and even Abner himself used to tell people he had nothing to do with the game’s conception.
        • Let’s take a moment to appreciate that old-timey name: Abner.
      • And before I reveal the actual origins of baseball, can you think of any existing sport that closely resembles Baseball?
        • I thought of one and as I started reading into my sources I found my suspicions were correct. Take a moment, see if you can think of anything.
    • Baseball is referenced in historic documents in America way back in the 1700’s.
    • A child’s game known as “rounders” was brought to New England from old England and played by kids in the Americas during some of the first colonies’ establishments. Rounders was combined with the English game of Cricket to make the modern sport of baseball.
    • When the American Revolutionary war kicked off, the game of baseball (or many variations of it) were being played all over the country. Neighborhood games amongst children, schoolyards, and colleges were playing some form of Baseball. Even the big cities started to pick up on the game by the mid 1800’s.
    • From History.com:
      • In September 1845, a group of New York City men founded the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club. One of them—volunteer firefighter and bank clerk Alexander Joy Cartwright—would codify a new set of rules that would form the basis for modern baseball, calling for a diamond-shaped infield, foul lines and the three-strike rule. He also abolished the dangerous practice of tagging runners by throwing balls at them.
      • Cartwright’s changes made the burgeoning pastime faster-paced and more challenging while clearly differentiating it from older games like cricket. In 1846, the Knickerbockers played the first official game of baseball against a team of cricket players, beginning a new, uniquely American tradition.
    • Japan and Baseball
      • Known as “yakyuu” in Japanese, which translates roughly to “field ball”, baseball arrived on Japan’s shores during the Meiji era, a period when the country was adopting more Western customs and practices. Horace Wilson, an American English teacher at the Kaisei Academy in Tokyo, first introduced baseball to Japan in 1872, and other American teachers and missionaries popularized the game throughout Japan in the 1870s and 1880s.
      • Baseball was the first sport played in Japan that had a focus on cooperative team play, unlike native sports such as sumo wrestling and kendo. Although the game didn’t see immediate success, university teams sprung up across the country and birthed a number of rivalries that are going strong today.
      • Baseball really began to gain popularity in Japan during the post-World War II period, thanks to the American GI’s who promoted the sport heavily and the Japanese corporations that backed the teams as sponsors (and still do to this day). A series of exhibition games played with American baseball legends like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio also helped popularize the sport. But perhaps the biggest draw of baseball was the discipline, hard work, and team effort that characterize the game and which greatly appealed to the Japanese work ethic.
  • Basketball
    • Before I talk about the origin story of modern basketball, I wanted to talk about an ancient game played on the North American continent for thousands of years (estimated as far back as 3,000 years ago).
    • The game is Tlachtli. It was played by the Aztecs and thought to have been played by the ancient and vanished culture of the Olmecs.
      • Lets jump to Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire (later known as Mexico City) in the year 1500 or so, or 7-Acatl on the Aztec calendar to watch this ancient game roughly resembling basketball.
      • Tlachtli is kind of like basketball. Games similar to basketball have been played all over Mesoamerica by peoples like the Aztec, the Maya, and the Olmec. The object of Tlachtli is to put a ball through a hoop made of stone at one end of a court. But unlike basketball, the players can’t use their hands. The Tlachtli ball is made of natural rubber, roughly the size of a bowling ball, and weighs about five pounds. (Getting it through the hoop without using the hands is so hard that the first team to score a goal wins.)
      • Also unlike basketball, where the losing team gets nothing worse than trash-talk from the winners, the losers in this game of tlachtli are going to have their heads chopped off after the game. The players are prisoners of war, the enemies of the Aztecs who are hosting the game. The game is a ritual honoring Amapan and Uappatzin, the patron deities of the game of tlachtli, and honoring Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war.
    • When Dr. James Naismith was just a grad student at Springfield College in the winter of 1891-1892 invented modern Basketball.
      • The students there (specifically the men) were stuck inside during the cold Massachusetts winter months. They had a lot of pent-up energy that couldn’t expel on the football field. They were required to spend time in the school’s gymnasium doing things like “marching, calisthenics, and apparatus work.” Sounds like tons of fun huh? LOL, no it doesn’t. It sounds like mindless repetitive exercise and nothing compared to the thrilling and competitive nature of sports.
      • Along comes James Naismith, a 2nd year grad student in charge of this winter gym class. He was working under Luther Halsey Gulick, the superintendent of physical education at the time.
      • Gulick introduced a new course in the psychology of play. In class discussions, Gulick had stressed the need for a new indoor game, one “that would be interesting, easy to learn, and easy to play in the winter and by artificial light.” Two instructors had already tried and failed to devise activities that would interest the young men.
      • “Naismith,” Gulick said. “I want you to take that class and see what you can do with it.”
      • Much time and thought went into this new creation. It became an adaptation of many games of its time, including American rugby (passing), English rugby (the jump ball), lacrosse (use of a goal), soccer (the shape and size of the ball), and something called duck on a rock, a game Naismith had played with his childhood friends in Bennie’s Corners, Ontario. Duck on a rock used a ball and a goal that could not be rushed. The goal could not be slammed through, thus necessitating “a goal with a horizontal opening high enough so that the ball would have to be tossed into it, rather than being thrown.”
      • Naismith got the janitor to give him some 18 inch hoops and he nailed them to a couple of boards LOL
      • Naismith got his gym class to play the game and it was an instant hit.
      • Word of the new game spread like wildfire. It was an instant success. A few weeks after the game was invented, students introduced the game at their own YMCAs. The rules were printed in a College magazine, which was mailed to YMCAs around the country. Because of the College’s well-represented international student body, the game of basketball was introduced to many foreign nations in a relatively short period of time. High schools and colleges began to introduce the new game, and by 1905, basketball was officially recognized as a permanent winter sport.
      • There is some debate about whether Basketball was invented in Springfield College or the YMCA. Since my main source was Springfield College, I decided not to take sides lol.
  • Hockey
    • Hockey is a team sport in which two teams play against each other by controlling a ball or a puck trying to get it into the opponent’s goal. All players use hockey sticks during a game.
    • It is impossible to claim the exact time of the birth of hockey. We will probably never know for sure, but there are records of people participating in this kind of game about 4000 years ago. Since ball-stick games are as old as our civilization, the earliest origins may be from China, Persia or Egypt. Archeologists discovered that an early form of the ball-and-stick game was played in Greece the 5th century BC. At the time when Europeans sailed across the Atlantic and started settling North America, they discovered that Native Indian people had their games which were precursors of lacrosse. Furthermore, some museums today showcase evidence that hockey was played by Aztecs centuries before Columbus even discovered the New World.
    • Buried deep in Egypt’s Nile Valley lies the village of Beni Hasan, known for its ancient cliff tombs dating from 2000 BC. A drawing decorates one tomb, showing two men holding sticks with curved ends and standing over a ball. Add synthetic turf and shin guards, and it might pass for hockey at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
    • One of the world’s oldest known sports, hockey predates the Ancient Games of Olympia by perhaps 1200 years or more. Indeed, historians believe it existed in many of the world’s early civilizations.
    • The Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Persians and Ethiopians all played variations of the game. Several centuries before Christopher Columbus found his New World, the Aztec Indians were playing it in Central America. The Araucano Indians of Argentina invented a game similar to hockey called Cheuca, believing it would make them better warriors.
    • The modern game was formed in the middle of 19th century by British soldiers stationed in Canada. During the next 30 years, many leagues and amateur clubs were organized in Canada. By the beginning of the 20th century, ice hockey spread to England and the rest of European countries. Today, the sport is highly popular in Eastern Europe and North America.
      • It should be noted that some sources claimed the modern game was created in the British Isles.
    • J. G. Creighton was the Canadian from Halifax, Nova Scotia who created the first set of rules of ice hockey about 140 years ago. Upon arriving in Montreal, he presented hockey sticks and skates which were patented by Nova Scotia company in 1866.
    • Men’s hockey first appeared at the 1908 Olympic Games in London.
    • Ice hockey is Canada’s national winter sport. The country undoubtedly contributed to this sport more than any other so we could say this their tendency to regard ice hockey as their national sport is entirely justified. 
    • Fighting in Hockey
    • Rodney Dangerfield once said: “I went to a fight the other night, and a hockey game broke out.”
      • Fighting is an established tradition in North American ice hockey, with a long history that involves many levels of amateur and professional play and includes some notable individual fights.[1] Fights may be fought by enforcers, or “goons” (FrenchBagarreurs)[2]—players whose role is to fight and intimidate—on a given team,[3] and is governed by a system of unwritten rules that players, coachesofficials, and the media refer to as “the code”.[4] Some fights are spontaneous, while others are premeditated by the participants.[5] While officials tolerate fighting during hockey games, they impose a variety of penalties on players who engage in fights.
      • Fighting has been a part of ice hockey since the sport’s rise in popularity in 19th century Canada.[1] There are a number of theories behind the integration of fighting into the game; the most common is that the relative lack of rules in the early history of hockey encouraged physical intimidation and control.[1] Other theories include the poverty and high crime rates of local Canada in the 19th century
      • In the 2016-2017 National Hockey League (NHL) season, there were 372 fights out of 1,230 games – an average of 0.3 fights per game. Fighting in hockey has been banned nearly everywhere outside of the NHL, including youth games, college play, and the Winter Olympics. 
      • Fighting has been part of NHL hockey since the league’s formation in 1917 and its 1922 rule about what was then called “fisticuffs” (that’s an old-fashioned word for fighting). The current NHL rulebook addresses fighting in Rule 46, which defines a fight as at least one player punching or taking a swing at another player repeatedly, or players wrestling in a way that is difficult to break up. Players who fight are sent to the penalty box during the game, and may be subject to additional fines or suspensions.
      • In the early 1960s, there was a fight in about 20% of NHL games. That percentage increased to 100% by the 1980s, when there was an average of one fight every game. In 1992, the NHL introduced an instigator rule adding an extra two minutes in the penalty box for anyone caught starting a fight.
      • Fighting has since decreased: a fight broke out in 29-40% of NHL games from the 2000/2001 season to the 2013/2014 season. Games with fights have steadily decreased since, from 27% of games in the 2014/2015 season to 17% in the 2018/2019 season.
      • Pro
      • Allowing fighting makes the sport safer overall by holding players accountable.
      • Fighting draws fans and increases the game’s entertainment value.
      • Fighting is a hockey tradition that exists in the official rules and as an unwritten code among players.
      • Con
      • Fighting in hockey leads to concussions, mental health problems, and death.
      • Fighting at the professional level sets a bad example for kids.
      • Fighting in hockey glorifies violence.
  • So that’s my first episode on sports history. I didn’t even cover my favorite sport American Football, so I’m farely certain there will be more episodes like this one.
    • I mainly didn’t do more sports on this episode to keep the length of the episode down… and because I accidentally lost A LOT of notes.

THANKS FOR LISTENING WHO’D A THUNKERS!

UNTIL NEXT WEEK

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Sea Monkeys: From the Moon to the KKK

The content below is from Episode 136 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

ANNOUNCEMENT

  • Howdy Who’d a Thunkers. Zeb here. It has been a weird month for me. I got married, then immediately had Covid (had to miss Halloween this year), and then I got my wisdom teeth extracted.
    • It has been a weird ride. Luckily I’ve got my friends, pets, and family (mainly my wife Shannon) to help me through it.
  • So my apologies if I sound off. My mouth hasn’t fully healed yet.

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This week I recommend you watch Star Trek Prodigy
    • I watch it on Paramount Plus. It’s an animated Star Trek show created by Nickalodeon.
    • I didn’t expect to like it. I merely clicked on the first tile that popped up on Paramount Plus while I was recovering from my Wisdom Teeth extraction surgery… (I’m still recovering and I hate it).
    • But the show is cool!
      • A motley crew of young aliens in the Delta Quadrant find an abandoned Starfleet ship, the U.S.S. Protostar; taking control of the ship, they must learn to work together as they make their way towards the Alpha Quadrant.
    • Unlike MOST Star Trek shows, Prodigy doesn’t follow the story of a well-trained Star Fleet crew. This is the story of kidnapped orphans forced into a life of manual labor who break free when they discover a Star Fleet ship (the USS ProtoStar).
    • It’s fun and exciting and I love it.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • Chances are that you have heard of Sea Monkeys.
    • Perhaps they are the subject of an old dusty memory of yours, a weird cultural phenomenon of an American fad surrounding pets. Sea Monkeys won’t be the MOST bizarre American pet fad, that title will always belong to the pet rock (a titan in advertising), but the story behind Sea Monkeys is even more fascinating.
    • You see, Sea Monkeys were advertised in comic books distributed all across America. The ad showed human-like creatures with antennas living in castles and raising little Sea-Monkey kids. It depicted the Sea Monkey product as conscious miniature pets you could keep in a fish bowl… for $1.
  • But if you were a kid that had your parents help you fill out one of these comic book ads and got Sea Monkeys sent to you, then you know the ad was misleading.
    • I remember my dad got me Sea-Monkeys when I was a kid. IDK if he tried it, but it was an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson about advertising. He told me they wouldn’t be like the ad showed. He knew they would just be little water bug things, but he got them for me anyway. I followed the instructions and saw the water bugs and they died VERY soon after that because I didn’t know how to take care of a Sea Monkey.
  • The Sea Monkey pet promised instant life that could be sent through the mail. A pet via USPS! It got kids excited because we felt we could create a life form in a fish bowl with a few easy instructions and some packets we got in the mail.
    • The original 1972 patent came with 3 packets and instructions.
    • Packet #1 was the water conditioner
      • You added packet #1 to get the water ready for the Sea Monkeys to thrive. Wait for 24 hours
    • Packet #2 had the eggs in it
      • Once the 24 hours were up (which felt like a lifetime for a kid who was promised microscopic sea monkey friends) you added packet #2 and watched as the Sea Monkeys seemed to hatch out of nowhere
    • Packet #3 had the food
      • Packet #3, the food was used to… well… feed the Sea Monkeys
    • If you were a kid that got Sea Monkeys then you did this, were amazed for about a maximum of about 1 day then you went on with your life.
  • So what are Sea Monkeys?
    • Well, they aren’t sentient beings with castles and the ability to speak as the 1992 live-action show The Amazing Live Sea Monkeys starring Howie Mandel suggested.
    • They are brine shrimp (not technically a shrimp). Technically they are known as Artemia salina. They are crustaceans found in salty lakes and ponds. The fossil record shows they’ve been on this planet for over 100 million years. They eat algae and are most widely useful to humans as fish food.
    • Artemia are used to feed fish in fish farms all over the world.
    • What sets the Artemia apart from other microscopic crustaceans is how the females lay their eggs. When their environment is to their liking, the female will lay a thin-shelled egg allowing those offspring to hatch and start their own lives immediately.
    • But when the environment around the pregnant female is less-than ideal or harsh, she will lay eggs with a hard shell known as a cyst. Inside this hard cyst is an Artemia larva that is fully developed, but kept inside the cyst until the conditions are just right enough for the larva to thrive. Once the surrounding water is just salty enough, the Artemia larva will emerge from its cyst egg.
      • Scientists launched the Apollo 16 and 17 moon missions with these Artemia cyst eggs aboard to see how they would fair in space. The eggs did hatch, but due to the excess cosmic radiation and other variables, they were born with noticeable mutations.
    • Artemia Nauplii is the species best known for their use in fish food.
      • You can order packets with thousands of Artemia Nauplii cyst eggs and cultivate them yourself. They have such a market for them because the cyst eggs make these little fish food guys super easy to transport, yet still very nutritious for the farmed fish.
  • Although this story of the Artemia being hatched in space and being a super efficient way to feed farmed fish is a neat little story (and would have been the extent of the Artemia story in their relation to us humans) it wasn’t until a dude named Harold von Braunhut saw some Artemia in a pet store.
    • In the year prior 1956, the ant farm had blown up in popularity so it was a good time to get into the pet fad market. Harold von Braunhut saw these little shrimp things squiggling around in the fish bowls and had an idea.
    • He saw this bucket of fish food artemia and thought he could make like… an aquatic version of the ant farm for kids. But the current market for Artemia was for the purpose of feeding them to fish. They weren’t designed to live very long… just long enough for the fish to gobble them up.
    • So Harold Von Braunhut collaborated with marine biologist Dr. Anthony D’Agostino to develop the proper mix of nutrients and chemicals in dry form that could be added to plain tap water to create an accommodating habitat for the shrimp to thrive. Von Braunhut was granted a patent for this process on July 4, 1972.
      • The animals sold as Sea-Monkeys are claimed to be an artificial breed known as Artemia NYOS, formed by hybridising different species of Artemia.[6] They are also claimed to live longer and grow bigger than ordinary brine shrimp; however, there are no references to these claims outside marketing material from the manufacturer.
      • D’Agostino claims the Artemia NYOS is hardier and lives longer than other Artemia species, but there isn’t any evidence to support this outside of the marketing so if it is true… we have no idea how D’Agostino did it.
      • The Artemia NYOS are the only creature specifically bred to have the lifespan equaling that of a toy.
    • They were initially called “Instant Life” and sold for $0.49,[5] but von Braunhut changed the name to “Sea-Monkeys” in 1962. The new name was based on their salt-water habitat, together with the supposed resemblance of the animals’ tails to those of monkeys.[6]
    • Sea-Monkeys were intensely marketed in comic books throughout the 1960s and early 1970s[6] using illustrations by the comic-book illustrator Joe Orlando. These showed humanoid animals that bear no resemblance to the crustaceans.[7] Many purchasers were disappointed by the dissimilarity and by the short lifespan of the animals.[6] Von Braunhut is quoted as stating: “I think I bought something like 3.2 million pages of comic book advertising a year. It worked beautifully.”
  • But the Sea Monkey pet trick is a big marketed sleight of hand trick.
    • You remember the 3 packets and instructions I mentioned earlier?
    • Well those packets didn’t work as advertised.
    • A colony is started by adding the contents of a packet labeled “Water Purifier” to a tank of water. This packet contains salt, water conditioner, and some brine shrimp eggs.
      • So packet #1 has eggs in it already.
    • After 24 hours, this is augmented with the contents of a packet labeled “Instant Life Eggs,” containing more eggs, yeastborax, soda, salt, some food, and sometimes a dye.[7] 
      • If not that many sea monkeys hatched with the first packet of eggs, the hope was that the eggs in packet #2 would be more successful. Plus, that dye is what makes the Artemia visible. They are typically see-through creatures so they are near impossible to spot without the dye in packet #2.
    • Shortly after that, Sea-Monkeys hatch from the eggs that were in the “Water Purifier” packet. “Growth Food” containing yeast and spirulina is then added every seven days. The best temperature for hatching is 24–27 °C (75–81 °F).[7] Extra and supplementary pouches can be purchased on the official website,[8] though these are not required for the well-being of the Sea-Monkeys.
      • So that first packet labled Water Purifier is what has the bulk of the eggs. Those eggs hatch during the 24 hour waiting period and then when packet #2 is added with the dye those hatched eggs become visible. It appears as if the sea monkeys appear out of nowhere, but in reality they had been there all night long… us kids just couldn’t see them until the dye was added.
      • As the patent says it is “the impression of instant life.”
    • According to a professor and marine biologist at the University of Mississippi, Artemia usually has a lifespan of two to three months. Still, under ideal home conditions, the brine shrimp live longer. Pet sea monkeys can live for a year, and some have been observed to live for up to five years.
  • Von Braunhut was known for this sort of sleight-of-hand marketing. He had successfully launched a product known as the Invisible Fish which was just a fish bowl, fish food, and no fish… So the guy could sell stuff.
    • So this cultural phenomenon, the sea monkey icon was created by a perfect storm:
      • WW2 had ended not too long before and the babies were booming. America was full of kids. This made the toy industry GROW.
      • You had the pet fads like the ant farm priming the market for such a product.
      • You had the guy who could sell No Fish to the kids of America.
      • You had these remarkable brine shrimp just big enough to see with the naked eye and that could be hatched even after taking a trip to the moon (surviving cosmic radiation).
      • And you had a very lucrative market of comic book advertising. The kids who read comic books wanted to believe in special stuff like sea monkeys more (even more than most kids).
    • Evan Hughes at theAWL.com writes about the cultural impact these little crustaceans have had: Legions of children enchanted by Sea-Monkey lore have seen disappointed to see their smelly little specks die in a matter of days; but others have made obsessive websites and written books about their ongoing Sea-Monkey love. Sea-Monkey eggs went to space with John Glenn in 1998 and came back still good to go. The creatures inspired a (bizarre) short-lived live-action series for kids on CBS in the early ’90s, and they were featured on “South Park” and in a Pixies song. Michael Birnbaum’s Empire Pictures bought the film rights to Sea-Monkeys in 2006 to develop an animated movie.
  • The original ad was drawn up by Joe Orlando (later the VP of DC comics) and the over-the-top and over-promising script for the ad was written by none other than Von Braunhut himself.
    • Von Braunhut was a champion of novelty crap sold in comic books like X-Ray glasses, spy pens, mini cameras, etc. And Sea Monkeys were his biggest success.
    • Perhaps the thing that made these sea monkeys so well known though… was how unspectacular they are.
    • Just as I experienced the massive letdown when I realized Sea Monkeys aren’t walking talking people in a fish bowl, so did A LOT of kids in America.
    • For a lot of kids, Sea Monkeys represent one of the first times we realized that reality isn’t as spectacular as our dreams.
  • Harold Von Braunhut was a genius salesman. While all the other toy companies were buying up all the TV ads marketing to the parents, Von Braunhut marketed straight to the kids in their comic books.
    • But this episode, this story, isn’t just 1 dimensional. Like the life of ANY person, Harold Von Braunhut’s life was… complicated.
    • In addition to being one of the best salesmen/marketer of all time, he also raced motorcycles as the Green Hornet. He was a manager for magic acts like Henry Lamothe, the man who could dive 60 feet into just 12 inches of water.
    • He had patents for X-Ray glasses, air-breathing crabs, just-add-water monsters, that invisible goldfish, and of course, sea monkeys.
  • At this point, the story gets weird and dark and close to unbelievable, but I promise, this is all true.
  • It was in 1968 when Harold got a patent for the Kiyoga steel whip.
    • It was a self-defense weapon marketed towards people who might be faced with a mugging, but didn’t have a gun.
    • The ads he took out were VERY similar to Sea Monkeys ads with the same layout and forwarding address.
    • The strangest part of Harold’s Kiyoga steel whip product was that it included a pledge: “manufacturer has made a pledge of $25 to my defense fund for each one sold to Aryan Nations supporters.” 
  • Harold von Braunhut was a white supremacist…
    • He was a very generous and very active member of the Aryan Nations group
    • There was a guy who went by the name Hendrick won Braun who was a well-decorated member of the group. There is even video evidence of this Hendrick von Braun being awarded something called the Imperial Order of the Black Eagle and then giving the heil hitler salute…
  • He had used some money he made selling the Kiyoga Agent M5 Steel Whip to fund the Ku Klux Klan in their goal to acquire illegal firearms. About $12,000
    • Harold was quoted saying “Hitler wasn’t a bad guy. He just had bad press.”
  • When the US Attorney’s office summoned him he brought some sea monkeys with him.
  • From TheAWL.com again:
    • An Assistant U.S. Attorney, Thomas M. Bauer, told the Washington Post that in a 1985 weapons case against a member of the Ku Klux Klan, Grand Dragon Dale R. Reusch, von Braunhut was prepared to testify that he had lent Reusch about $12,000 so he could buy 83 firearms. Bauer told the reporter that von Braunhut was “very pleasant and cooperative” and “brought some of his little toys along,” including Sea-Monkeys.
    • The general Aryan Nations view holds that Jewish people are directly descended from the devil. It seems clear that von Braunhut, who owned Nazi memorabilia and once said Hitler “just got bad press,” signed on to these beliefs. But one has to wonder what brought him to the point of nodding along when his friend Butler, for instance, described Jews as “the bacillus of the decomposition of our society.” Aryan Nations members might have been dismayed to hear that von Braunhut engaged a law firm called Friedman and Goodman early in his career. They might also have been puzzled that his name was listed on early patents as Harold N. Braunhut. The middle initial stands for Nathan. Harold von Braunhut was born and raised Jewish.
    • It’s not entirely clear why the Aryan Nations didn’t cast von Braunhut out after the Washington Post gave a thorough account of his Jewish origins in 1988. Von Braunhut said, “I will not make any statements whatsoever” on the topic when questioned for the article, then stopped returning calls. The article also reported that he was born in Manhattan and that he gave an address in (heavily Jewish) Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, when he briefly attended Columbia University. He lived in New York City into the mid-’80s. The Post reported that a Harold Braunhut paid for the upkeep of his parents’ graves at a Jewish cemetery in Long Island in 1979. Which is hard to square with the fact that von Braunhut was helping a Klansman buy 83 guns in 1980 at the latest.
    • Perhaps the Aryan Nations allowed von Braunhut to stay in the fold because Butler liked having a wealthy backer, as Floyd Cochran, a former spokesman of the group who later renounced it, has said. Von Braunhut made a lot of money from all those whimsical inventions that kept America laughing.
  • Soon after his ties with the Aryan brotherhood were made public, Von Braunhut lost all ad ties with America’s comic book publishers.
    • Von Braunhut died in 2003 at the age of 77. His widow made a deal with a toy company to sell sea monkeys. His widow tried to sue the toy company for breach of contract. The toy company said they weren’t using the Artemia NYOS breed so it didn’t apply. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
  • How does the man responsible for creating such a fun and colorful life for so many kids also live this life of hate?
    • The inventor of Sea Monkeys was a Jewish kid from Brooklyn who pledged large portions of his profits to an anti-Semitic hate group.
      • When confronted with this in an interview he said in a depressed tone “Those reports are all lies. I don’t have to defend myself to you or anyone else. Look I’m done here.”
  • He was also quoted saying things like:
    • “Hate is as natural as love. Hate is just the same coin as love, just on the opposite side.” -Hendrik von Braun… at KKK Rallies
  • In 2002 Harold filed his last patent: The Aquarium Watch
    • designed to keep sea monkeys inside a capsule on the wrist

CREDIT:

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Giants of Old

The content below is from Episode 135 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This week I recommend you watch the series Welcome to Wrexham.
    • here’s the plot:
      • In “Welcome to Wrexham,” Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds learn to run the third oldest professional football club in the world. In 2020, Rob and Ryan teamed up to purchase the fifth tier Red Dragons in the hope of turning Wrexham AFC into an underdog story the whole world can root for, but the concern is that neither have any experience in football or working with each other. From Hollywood to Wales, from the pitch to the locker room, and the front office to the pub, the docuseries will track Rob and Ryan’s crash course in football club ownership and the inextricably connected fates of a team and a town counting on two actors to bring some serious hope and change to a community that could use it.
    • Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds made something special here. A sports documentary that also dives into what makes a community tick and what makes sports so special.
    • My favorite episode is S1 E#17 Wromance
      • An inside look at the unusual beginnings and dynamics of Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney’s football friendship. I shed a tear at the end of this episode. The mental health specialist lady said she asked a patient of hers what he missed most about sports when the pandemic hit. She said a tear rolled down his face as he said “I miss talking with my dad about them.”
      • Then the episode ends with Cat Stevens’s tear jerker of a song Father and Son. It got to me.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • I was perusing the usual social media platforms the other day when I stumbled upon an image of a really tall mummy propped up in between two living dudes wearing suits. The image is grainy, old, and in a black and white scale of color. The caption read:
  • This history meme thing had caught my attention and my curiosity, and I immediately saved the image to my big folder of notes on my phone called “Who’d a Thunk It? Ideas.”
    • But as I started to look into the photo and the Si-Te-Cah people, I found very little. Which typically means it is not completely based in truth, or at least not based in verifiable truth.
  • According to Ancient-origins.net the legend goes like this:
    • Si-Te-Cah or Saiduka literally translates as “tule-eaters” in the Northern Paiute language. The tule is a fibrous water plant, which according to legend, was woven by giants into rafts in order to escape attacks by the Paiute. They used the rafts to navigate across what remained then of Lake Lahontan, an ancient lake that once covered most of northern Nevada during the last ice age.
    • As the Paiute tale goes, after years of warfare, all the tribes in the area joined together to rid themselves of the Si-Te-Cah. One day, as the tribes chased down the last remaining red-haired giants, they took refuge in a cave. The Paiutes demanded their enemy come out of the cave and fight, but the giants refused.
    • The coalition of tribes proceeded to shoot arrows at them while starting a large fire at the mouth of the cave. The smoke drove out a few who died in a hail of arrows while the rest were all either burned alive or asphyxiated. Over time, the entrance to the cave would collapse leaving it accessible only to bats and cut off from human contact.
  • There is a Lovelock Cave in Nevada that has been home to ancient humans for about 15,000 BC according to radiocarbon dating methods.
    • And When archeologist went a digging in the late 1920’s they found some 10,000 archeological specimens. One of which was a 15 inch long sandal.
    • Today, many of the original artifacts found at Lovelock (but no giants) can be viewed at a small natural history museum located in Winnemucca, Nevada. 
      • But the cave has been raided for artifacts by individuals who kept the specimen they found most interesting for their personal collections. … so there is room for doubt for those willing to believe in the mythical giants.
  • But what about the image? Surely the pictured evidence of a freakishly tall mummy grants the story some validity right?
    • Nope. This is the world of doctored images and just because there’s a photo doesn’t make it real.
  • Take this photo for example:
  • The image you see on the blog is a still shot from some archive footage from Japan. It shows a dude who looks like 11 feet tall walking around all these average-height citizens.
    • The claims behind the grainy black and white footage are that it is top secret footage that came out of Japan in the 1800s before the film was even invented and that it captures the existence of the Biblical Nephilim giant.
      • I will admit, it does look sort of convincing, and my curious brain that wants so badly to believe in fairytales, giants, and other mythical creatures got excited the first time I saw it.
    • But the Giants in Japan footage is not from mysterious archival footage. It is from a 2007 Japanese movie titled Big Man in Japan.
  • I found the Giants in Japan video and was all excited. But I did a quick google search and found that the reliable Snopes.com had debunked the footage quite definitively.
    • I saw this movie trailer and realized the Giants in Japan footage was a hoax.
    • Sadly, my excited brain that wished for a more mysterious world went back to not believing in giants, just as quickly as it had started to believe in them… a mere few seconds.
  • But that isn’t to say Giants don’t exist entirely…
    • Hear me out. There may not be evidence to support the existence of a race of giants, but we do have giants among us.
    • Go to an NBA game and stand next to the players. They are so damn tall it will blow your mind.
      • The tallest person alive today: Sultan Kösen (born 10 December 1982) is a Turkish farmer who holds the Guinness World Record for tallest living male at 251 cm (8 ft 2.82 in). Of Kurdish ethnicity, he is the seventh tallest man in history.
      • The shortest person alive today: The current world’s shortest man is Edward Niño Hernandez, of Colombia, who measures 28.38 inches (72.1 centimeters) in height. His mother said he has not grown since the age of 2.
      • The world average height:
  • From a National Geographic report back in 2004:
    • “Scientists have found skeletons of a hobbit-like species of human that grew no larger than a three-year-old modern child. The tiny humans, who had skulls about the size of grapefruits, lived with pygmy elephants and Komodo dragons on a remote island in Indonesia 18,000 years ago.
      • Australian and Indonesian researchers discovered bones of the miniature humans in a cave on Flores, an island east of Bali and midway between Asia and Australia.
      • Scientists have determined that the first skeleton they found belongs to a species of human completely new to science. Named Homo floresiensis, after the island on which it was found, the tiny human has also been dubbed by dig workers as the “hobbit,” after the tiny creatures from the Lord of the Ringsbooks.
      • The original skeleton, a female, stood at just 1 meter (3.3 feet) tall, weighed about 25 kilograms (55 pounds), and was around 30 years old at the time of her death 18,000 years ago.
      • The skeleton was found in the same sediment deposits on Flores that have also been found to contain stone tools and the bones of dwarf elephants, giant rodents, and Komodo dragons, lizards that can grow to 10 feet (3 meters) and that still live today.
      • Homo floresienses has been described as one of the most spectacular discoveries in paleoanthropology in half a century—and the most extreme human ever discovered.
      • The species inhabited Flores as recently as 13,000 years ago, which means it would have lived at the same time as modern humans, scientists say.”
    • Archeological evidence of a Hobbit species… How fascinating!
      • Imagine if a modern human stumbled upon a member of the HomoFloresienses subspecies. The Homosapien would be the giant. Evolution plus time makes for some pretty magical life forms.
      • It isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility that there is an undiscovered subspecies that existed that grew in the opposite way.
    • Consider the story of a real-life giant, the tallest man ever recorded: Robert Pershing Wadlow (February 22, 1918 – July 15, 1940), also known as the Alton Giant and the Giant of Illinois, was a man who was the tallest person in recorded history for whom there is irrefutable evidence. He was born and raised in Alton, Illinois, a small city near St. LouisMissouri.[1]
      • Wadlow’s height was 8 ft 11.1 in (2.72 m)[2][3][4] while his weight reached 439 lb (199 kg) at his death at age 22. His great size and his continued growth in adulthood were due to hypertrophy of his pituitary gland, which results in an abnormally high level of human growth hormone (HGH). Even by the time of his death, there was no indication that his growth had ended.
      • If Robert Wadlow some how stumbled upon a village of the HomoFloresienses people… it would blow the minds of everyone involved!
    • Just as the HomoFloresienses evolved over time mating with smaller and smaller versions of humans until their average height was just over 3 feet tall and 55 pounds… why couldn’t it be possible that people with Robert Wadlow’s rare condition might have met up, mated, and slowly over time evolved to live with their hypertrophic pituitary gland.
      • Their children and children’s children would likely be VERY tall until you had an entire community of what we would essentially refer to as giants.
  • So there are really tall and really short people that exist… What’s my point?
  • Here is my thought (and I know I’m not the first one to think it), but what if interactions of ancient homo sapiens with these subspecies were told through verbal stories and passed down from generation to generation until someone wrote them down?
    • By the time these verbal stories of hobbits and/or giant subspecies were finally written down there were likely lots of exaggerations and made-up parts that led people to discount those stories as complete myths.
    • This is typically how my mind works when I hear an ancient myth or tale. I start speculating on what possibly could have caused this story to come about? Is it based on some far-distant and diluted truth?
      • It is a fun headspace to be in as long as you don’t start mistaking your speculations as fact.
    • So for today’s episode Giants of Old, I wanted to go over various ancient legends of giants with you. See if I (or even you) could draw some speculative connection between these tales and a possible basis of truth.

From MentalFloss.com:

  • Giants from many ancient cultures:
    • The giants below are a weird and wonderful sample from folklore around the world.
    • 1. ATLAS // THE GIANT WHO HOLDS UP THE SKY
    • In Greek mythology, Atlas was one of the Titans who went to war against Zeus’s gods of Olympus. When the Titans lost, Zeus condemned Atlas to hold up the sky for all eternity. During the 12 labors of Heracles, one of his famous quests was to find the golden apples of Hesperides. Atlas offered to go and fetch the apples for Heracles if he would take his place holding up the sky. Atlas duly retrieved the apples and was about to take them to Eurystheus when Heracles asked if Atlas would mind just holding the sky again for a minute while he got comfortable. Of course, as soon as Atlas had re-shouldered his heavy burden, Heracles made off with the apples and continued with his tasks, leaving Atlas with his interminable duty.
    • Another legend involving Atlas featured the hero Perseus, who encountered Atlas in the northwest region of Africa. Atlas tried to scare Perseus away, and so Perseus took Medusa’s severed head from his bag. When Atlas saw the terrible Gorgon he turned to stone—becoming the Atlas mountain range.
    • 2. BALOR // ONE-EYED GOD OF DEATH
    • In Irish mythology, Balor was the king of the Fomorians, a race of giants who were said to be early settlers of Ireland. Balor, much like the cyclops, was a one-eyed giant and the god of death—whoever was caught in his gaze would die instantly. Due to this unfortunate tendency, Balor kept his single eye closed until his terrible power was needed. According to a prophecy, it was said that Balor would be killed by his own grandson, and so he imprisoned his daughter, Ethlinn, in a crystal tower in a vain attempt to prevent her having any offspring. However, before long Cian, a minor god, snuck in and impregnated Ethlinn, who gave birth to three sons. On discovering the birth of his grandsons, Balor had them thrown into the sea, but one boy, Lugh, escaped his fate and was fostered by Manannan Mac Lir, the god of the sea. The prophecy finally played out when Lugh led the Tuatha De Danann (a race of Irish gods) into battle and killed Balor by ripping out his eye.
    • 3. HRUNGNIR // DRUNKEN NORSE GIANT
    • Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
    • There are countless giants in Norse legends, and Hrungnir was one of the biggest and baddest. One day Odin, the leader of the Norse gods of Asgard, challenged Hrungnir to a horse race. Odin rode his super-fast eight-legged steed Sleipnir, and Hrungnir rode his standard-legged horse, Gullfaxi. Unsurprisingly, Sleipnir outran Gullfaxi and led him into the realm of Asgard, where, feeling sorry for the loser, Odin invited Hrungnir for a drink. Unfortunately, Hrungnir was not a good drunk and had soon become belligerent and argumentative, claiming that he could kill all the gods of Asgard, except for the goddesses Freya and Sif, whom he would carry off with him to Jotunheim, the realm of the giants. Becoming tired of Hrungnir’s arrogance, the other gods called upon Thor, who challenged Hrungnir to a duel. Hrungnir agreed, and on the day of the fight he turned up clad in stone armor and carrying a giant whetstone as a weapon. Thor threw his trusty hammer, Mjolnir, and it smashed through both the whetstone and Hrungnir’s head and the latter fell to his death. It is said that the fragments of the whetstone fell to the earth, and became the flint we see around us today.
    • 4. JENTIL // HEATHEN GIANTS
    • Jentil are giants from the mythology of the Basque region of France/Spain, and are said represent the pagans who inhabited the land before Christianity. Jentil were enormous, strong, and hairy, and loved to throw rocks; because of this they were thought to have built the many megalithic stone circles and dolmens in the Basque region. According to legend, the Jentil died out after a huge, bright cloud appeared heralding the birth of Jesus—the frightened Jentil did not want change and ran down the mountains and hid in a dolmen, never to return.
    • However, one Jentil survived: Olentzero, an especially large and grumpy giant who enjoyed a tipple. Having survived the death of his people, he is said to have walked to the nearest village and cut the throat of all the greedy people who had eaten too much. This legend was soon adopted and adapted during the rise of Christianity, and Olentzero was re-packaged as a Basque version of Santa Claus. In this sanitized reimagining, he visits children on Christmas Eve bringing toys he has crafted himself.
    • 5. GOLIATH // BIBLICAL GIANT
    • Goliath was the biblical giant defeated against the odds by the shepherd David. Described in the Book of Samuel, Goliath was a Philistine Champion from the city of Gath, which was where an ancient race of giants were said to originate. The exact size of Goliath is debated, but it seems he was either 6 foot 8 or 9 foot 7; either way, he was a lot bigger than his seemingly puny opponent, David. He is also described in the Bible as being clad in an imposing amount of bronze armor.
    • In a classic story of the plucky underdog, David strides out to face Goliath with nothing but a humble slingshot, the fate of his people in his hands. David launches a stone from his slingshot, which hits Goliath right between the eyes and he falls down dead. In a rather gruesome turn of events, David then cuts off Goliath’s head with the giant’s own sword. As most of us know, the story of David versus Goliath has since come to represent the ultimate victory of the underdog.
    • 6. POLYPHEMUS // ONE-EYED CYCLOPS
    • steveilott via Wikimedia // CC BY 2.0
    • Polyphemus is perhaps the most famous of the Cyclopes—the one-eyed giants from Greek mythology. According to Homer’s legend of the Odyssey, Polyphemus was the son of the sea god Poseidon and the sea nymph Thoosa. He lived on the island of Sicily with his fellow cyclops, where he tended a flock of sheep. When the great adventurer Odysseus landed on the island, he introduced himself to Polyphemus as “No one.” The cyclops seized Odysseus and his men and trapped them in a cave, covered by a giant boulder. He also began eating them.
    • Odysseus hatched a plan to escape and drove a stake into the giant’s only eye, blinding him. Polyphemus cried out in pain, and his brother cyclops came to his aid, but when they asked who was attacking him, he replied “No one,” so they thought him mad and went away. Odysseus and his crew then tied themselves to the underside of Polyphemus’s flock of sheep so that in the morning, when he pushed aside the boulder to let out his sheep, the now-blind giant patted the back of each sheep as he counted them out, not noticing the brave adventurers clinging the animals’ undersides.
    • 7. ONI // JAPANESE GIANT DEMONS
    • Mikkabie, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
    • In Japanese folklore, oni are often hideous giants in demon form. They are depicted looking fearsome, with red or blue skin, three fingers and toes, and grotesque horns. They are also often naked, save for a loin cloth made from the pelts of wild beasts. Described as super-strong, they’re also very keen on human flesh.
    • Oni usually live in hell, having been sent there and transformed into oni for living an evil life while on earth. However, the very worst kind of oni are those who are so unspeakably wicked that they are turned into oni while still living, and roam the earth causing misery to others.
    • Japanese people traditionally celebrate the Setsubun festival in the spring to drive out the oni. During the festival celebrations, soy beans are thrown in the air to ward off any lurking three-fingered beasts.
    • 8. GOGMAGOG // THE LAST BRITISH GIANT
    • Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
    • Gogmagog is said to have been the last giant in the British Isles. The source for most of our information on him comes from the Welshman Geoffrey of Monmouth, who in circa 1136 wrote Historia Regnum Britanniae (The History of the Kings of Britain), in which he describes how early Britain (then called Albion) was inhabited by a race of giants. One such giant was the 12-foot tall Gogmagog, a rough and strong being who could uproot an oak tree as if it were a twig. One day, a group of giants including Gogmagog attacked Brutus, a descendent of the Trojans of Greece who had claimed Albion as his own. The giants killed many Britons before they too were killed, and only Gogmagog survived.
    • Brutus took Gogmagog to his second-in-command, Corineus, the founder of Cornwall, who was a keen giant-wrestler. The two began to wrestle, and Gogmagog used his brute strength to crush three of Corineus’s ribs. Corineus was so enraged by the injury that he quickly picked up the giant and ran with him up a hill, finally throwing him to his death off a cliff—and thus, it’s said, ridding Britain of the last giant.
    • 9. KUMBHAKARNA // GIANT APPETITE
    • Kumbhakarna is a giant demon featured in the Hindu epic the Ramayana. Kumbhakarna was giant in size and giant in appetite, but due to a trick played by the goddess Saraswati his tongue was tied so that when he tried to asking for a blessing, instead he asked for a bed, and as a result he was doomed to sleep for six months of every year.
    • Despite being of a generally kindly character, after six months of deep sleep, Kumbhakarna would wake up so hungry he would consume anything in his path, including hapless humans. At one point Kumbhakarna’s brother, Ravana, needed the giant’s help to win a battle, but Kumbhakarna was sleeping and it took a thousand elephants trampling over him to rouse him from his slumber. Kumbhakarna then gamely joined the war against Prince Rama, but instead of achieving glory, he got rather drunk and blundered around the battlefield doing more harm than good before being killed.
    • 10. ORION // LEFT HIS MARK IN THE STARS
    • Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
    • Many different legends surround the Greek giant Orion. In one version he is an egotistical hunter who brags that he can kill any beast alive. On hearing of his boast, a tiny scorpion stings Orion and he falls down dead. Another story has it that Orion was left blind after he tried to take Merope as his wife against the will of her father. To regain his sight, Vulcan bid his friend Kedalion to sit on Orion’s shoulders and lead him towards the east where the sun-god dwelled. As the sun rose, Orion’s sight was restored by the beams. Orion then went to live and hunt with Diana, but her brother Apollo grew jealous of their close relationship, and when Orion was walking through the water with just his head above the waves, Apollo bet Diana she couldn’t hit the far-distant form on the horizon. Taking the bait, Diana released a slew of arrows and fatally hit Orion, but when the waves washed his body ashore she realized her grave mistake. Weeping over the loss of Orion, she had him placed in the sky among the stars as the constellation Orion.
  • So, do you think there is any basis of truth behind any of these myths?
    • Let me know on Anchor.fm where I have been leaving a Q&A for you to write in.
  • \\

THANKS FOR LISTENING WHO’D A THUNKERS!

UNTIL NEXT TIME

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Blucifer

The content below is from Episode 134 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

  • If you are hearing this than you are still listening to the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast after a 2-week break.
    • They say podcasts that miss release dates (regardless of the reason) suffer by losing their listeners.
    • I got married and because I hugged like 140 people during my wedding, I got covid and felt awful. Those two reasons and because my voice was practically gone all last week are why I skipped two weeks.
    • Sorry, Who’d a Thunkers. But we are back!

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This week I recommend you watch Ted Lasso on Apple TV
    • I know there aren’t many people with Apple TV, but this show is worth checking out. At least the first season anyway ( I haven’t started season 2).
    • But during my wife and I’s time quarantined off from the rest of the world for the last 8 days we found some cool shows.
    • I hit play on Ted Lasso not thinking much of it except that I like the main actor Jason Sudeikis. I was pleasantly surprised to find this is a very good feely show to enjoy.
    • Here’s the plot:
      • An American football coach is hired to manage a British soccer team; what he lacks in knowledge, he makes up for in optimism, determination, and biscuits.
  • Jason Sudeikis usually plays a raunchy character for many of his more popular roles like Horrible Bosses and We’re the Millers, but in Ted Lasso he is a super kind and loveable character.
  • This show made the depressing reality of quarantining a little bit better and I wanted to share it with you guys.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • Traveling can be fun or it can be a nightmare… or both.
    • But when arriving at Denver, Colorado via airplane, the gazes of travelers inevitably fall on a giant statue that not only appears as if it has trotted right out of a nightmare, but has a back story suggesting it is cursed.
    • This is a tale of art, tragedy, and conspiracy theories.
  • The gigantic statue of a blue horse with red glowing eyes standing on its hind legs outside of Denver’s International Airport has the official moniker of “Blue Mustang,” but everyone calls it Blucifer.
    • Weighing in at 9,000 pounds, the 32-foot tall fiberglass sculpture was initially designed to capture the feel of the American Wild West. With bulging veins and articulate muscles, Luis Jiménez, the artist behind the sculpture, felt that his horse would represent the power and freedom of the American mustang.
    • The airport wanted to get a tourist attraction right near the airport property for people to pull off the road and take a picture with it. They started looking around for sculptors in 1993, but the statue wouldn’t be erected for another 15 years due to all sorts of problems.
    • There were airport security concerns and legal issues:
      • Luis Jiménez, head sculptor, was paid $165,000 upfront and promised to pay another $135,000 once the job was finished (totaling $300K). But Jiménez kept missing deadline after deadline so the city filed a lawsuit against him to try and get their money back.
      • The lawsuit bared no fruit for the city of Denver and they would eventually pay the sculptor team a total of $650,000 before it was all said in done.
        • Some conspiracy theorists suggest this sort of deal was as if the city of Denver had made a deal with the devil.
  • One of the main reasons for delays was the death of Luis Jiménez himself in 2006.
    • A sad loss of life, but not unheard of as he was 65 at the time of his death. But Luis didn’t die of a heart attack or stroke… He died while working on the sculpture in his workshop. A large section of the 32-foot tall, 9,000-pound sculpture fell onto its creator’s leg, crushing it and severing an artery. The piece of his own artwork pinned Luis against a steel support beam as he bled out.
    • After his death, the sculpture would be finished by Luis’s sons. The finished product would never be seen by its creator.
American mustangs attack and defend by rearing, similar to the pose of Denver International Airport’s big blue horse. Photo credit: skibreck (istock).
Blucifer is massive
  • Luis Jiménez didn’t just create Blucifer. He is a well-known artist that has works featured in the Smithsonian.
    • Before he finished Blucifer, Luis created a couple other horse sculptures so he could get a better feel for the larger peice. They are almost exact copies of Blucifer. They are worth a pretty penny these days due to Blucifer’s fame.
  • One of the most fascinating stories behind Blucifer’s creation was Luis’s choice to pick the color Blue for this massive sculpture.
    • Legend has it that roaming around Colorado’s vast San Luis Valley is a powerful wild mustang leading a herd of wild horses… and he is bright blue with red glowing eyes. They say this blue wild mustang can always find water and grass for his herd. Besides the color of his coat and eyes, this mustang doesn’t seem too mythical, but then there is the fact that he can supposedly fly… But that is why Luis chose the color blue for his fiberglass sculpture and gave it red eyes. A flying wild legendary mustang is the perfect mascot for an airport.
    • The eyes of Blucifer actually glow and that is a tribute to Jiménez’s father who owned a neon sign shop. When Luis was a young boy he would spend time in his dad’s sign shop and be fascinated by the glow of the neon. Through that early fascination and the love of his father, he made Blucifer’s eyes actually glow.
  • I personally think Blucifer looks badass. I love it and so do many people.
    • But there are also critics out there.
    • Some believe that a sculpture that caused the death of its creator should not be displayed and that displaying it is even disrespectful
      • This actually made me chuckle because any artist who died doing what they love (creating art) would be LIVID if they found out the piece they gave their life for would up being destroyed or worse, collecting dust in a basement somewhere. Plus, Luis’s sons finished the piece. No one is disrespected by this thing… at least not by Luis’s death.
    • Other people don’t like how the horse’s genitalia is not omitted from the piece…
      • Ok, this is weird. It’s a horse. Horses have genitalia. Simple as that. Grow up.
    • The statue is officially called Mustang, but nicknames like Blucifer, “Satan’s Stallion,” “Denver’s Demon Mustang,” and “DIAblo” were all created to give the statue a negative persona. I think it just makes the statue even more badass LOL.
  • Poor Blucifer gets a bad rap. It is an amazing work of art that should be celebrated even more than it already is, because it captures the spirit of Colorado so well. But considering all the conspiracies surrounding the Airport it represents… Bluey was bound to get some bad rep.
    • Not only has Blucifer got the conspiracy theorists all riled up about satanic rituals and whatnot… but There are a ton of conspiracy theories surrounding this airport itself, and it all started with the construction.
    • Massive delays of 16 months and a $4.8 billion price tag ($2 billion over budget) led people to think something was going on that they didn’t know about.
      • Where is all that extra cash going? Is it a big laundering scheme? Are they building an underground bunker?
      • My guess is that all that money went to human mistakes.
    • It’s also the largest airport in the United States for no apparent reason, nearly double the size of the second largest.
      • That is sort of stange considering Denver is in the middle of the continental US and not near a large sea port or anything.
    • Then there was a former construction worker who claimed that there were five multi-level buildings beneath the airport built for an unknown purpose.
  • If that’s not enough, there’s also super creepy murals on the walls that some people claim depict an apocalyptic scenario in which the New World Order is taking over the modern world.
  • These fears have also stemmed from the airport’s dedication stone, displaying a Masonic symbol and giving thanks to the “New World Airport Commission” for their support in funding the project. Is something strange happening at Denver International Airport? Probably not, but perhaps.
  • Nothing has made me want to visit Colorado more than knowing it is the base of some new world-order conspiracy!
    • JK, I have a buddy who lives in Colorado who just got married a month before my own wedding and I would have loved to have been there for it… but the dingus listed an Air BNB as the reception for us to stay in saying it sleeps 32 people… when Air BNB says it only slept 17… LOL
    • Plus, he suggested guests fly into Albequerque New Mexico… which is a 6-hour drive by rental car to the venue… some quick googling found there was an airport 20 minutes away from the venue. Too many dingus variables going on with that wedding. But I wish him and his new partner the best of luck.
  • So what do you think Who’d a Thunkers?
    • Is the Denver International Airport a secret bunker for the world’s elites to hide in when the apocalypse hits so they can emerge as the new world order and is Blucifer the satanic symbol to represent that new world order?
    • Or is it just a badass piece of art by a great artist who tragically died working on his own creation?

THANKS FOR LISTENING WHO’D A THUNKERS!

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Nightmare in Cambodia

The content below is from Episode 133 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

ANNOUNCEMENT

  • I would like to apologize to you Who’d a Thunkers.
  • We are now two weeks into the month of October and I am just now starting the Who’d a Thunk It? FRIGHTFEST!
    • The first two years of the podcast, during the month of October I’ve only released episodes that were horrifying or creepy in nature.
    • Yet last week, the first episode of October 2022 I released an episode about Leif Erikson, the explorer Viking who was the first European to set foot on the New World… while a cool character, Leif’s story is not typically seen as a scary one.
    • I was just so excited to host my very first Leif Erikson party at my house that I had to do an episode right before Leif Erikson’s day.
    • But fear not… or… DO FEAR a lot, for the 2022 Who’d a Thunk It? FRIGHTFEST starts now!

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This week’s recommendation segment ties directly into the main event.
    • I suggest you watch the original 1984 Nightmare on Elm Street.
    • I’ll talk more about it in the main event… so let’s get right to it.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

Nightmare on Elm Street

  • Have you ever seen the movie Nightmare on Elm street?
    • The 1984 horror classic directed by the legendary Wes Craven has sparked a movie franchise spanning over 4 decades now. If you haven’t seen it, you have most likely heard of it, with the main antagonist Freddy Krueger.
    • Here’s a summary of the plot:
      •  several Midwestern teenagers fall prey to Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a disfigured midnight mangler who preys on the teenagers in their dreams — which, in turn, kills them in reality. After investigating the phenomenon, Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) begins to suspect that a dark secret kept by her and her friends’ parents may be the key to unraveling the mystery, but can Nancy and her boyfriend Glen (Johnny Depp) solve the puzzle before it’s too late?
      • Yeah, a young Johnny Depp is in the original Nightmare on Elm Street.
    • I was first introduced to the movie franchise by a hoakey, sub-par crossover movie called Freddy VS Jason. I was a teenager and thought it was kind of cool to watch two slasher horror bad guys go up against each other, but trust me, the movie isn’t that great… not compared to the original.
      • The many, many sequels and spinoff movies that came after the 1984 original Nightmare on Elm Street were more hoakey and leaned into the comedy aspect of the slasher/horror genre. But let me tell you, the original is just down-right terrifying.
    • Last year I watched the original Nightmare on Elm Street for the first time and it is both a cinema marvel and horrifying at the same time.
      • When Freddy’s hand reaches up out of the bath water I think my body stiffened on the couch as I simultaneously said to Shannon “that is freaking genius!”
  • But what if I told you that Wes Craven based his classic on real-life events?
    • The real-life inspiration for this iconic horror film was a family that survived the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s.

The Cambodian Massacre

  • In 1925, in a small Cambodian village called Prek Sbauv, a man named Saloth Sar was born.
    • He was the 8th of 9 children. They were born into a well-off land-owning farming family that owned 50 acres of Rice Paddy fields. This land was over 10 times the national average at the time.
    • But during his childhood, Cambodia was under French Colonial rule… a rule that was not supported by many of the Cambodian people.
    • In school, Saloth Sar got horrible grades. His wealthy parents were worried that their son wasn’t going to fare so well as an adult if he lacked the means to excel in his education career. But he did pick up at least one thing while in school, interest, and passion that aligned with the revolutionary Cambodian communists seeking independence from Frech Colonial rule.
Pol Pot
  • As he got older he spent less time in school and more time with the Communist Revolutionists, giving himself the name Pol Pot, short for the French phrase “Politique Potentielle” (potential politics).
    • His monicker reflected his dedication from then on in his life. Spending all of his time on communist politics and none in school, Pol Pot began to fail exams. He had his scholarship revoked, and conveniently agreed to go to Cambodia on behalf of his Communist Student group to assess the political situation back home.
      • Most likely he knew he couldn’t hack it in school and left the life of a student behind.
    • He returned home in 1953, the same year Cambodia gained independence from its French oppressors. And what happens when a ruling force leaves a large population? A power vacuum is left in the wake.
    • Then in 1956 Pol Pot starts teaching in Private schools, influencing the country’s youth. From 1956 to 1963 he teaches History, Geography, and French Literature.
      • While teaching, Pol Pot is a major player in the Cambodian Communist party. He is the party’s secretary in 1960 spreading his own version of Marxist-Leninism.
    • Everything was going great for Pol Pot, he was a teacher by day, and a communist revolutionary by night. But then the monarchy in charge of Cambodia at the time took notice of Pol Pot and his communist party… and didn’t like what they saw. The Monarchy began to seek out the Communists and drove them deeper into the Jungle, turning a political party into full-blown revolutionaries.
  • During his time in the jungle, Pol Pot met a group of Viet-Cong soldiers from the Vietnam war. Pol Pot, his scattered bunch of guerrilla fighters, and the Viet Cong got along well and joined forces.
    • With their forces combined, they became the Khmer Rouge Guerilla Army… Pol Pot now had a full-fledged army at his disposal.
    • In 1968 the Khmer Rouge set out to overthrow Cambodia’s monarchy and did a damn fine job of it.
    • Pol Pot, like many influential dictators, was very persuasive and charismatic. His followers were die-hard revolutionaries willing to do whatever their leader commanded.
    • One can draw similarities between Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler in how they ran their regimes.
  • In 1970 a chaotic and devastating civil war broke out in Cambodia.
    • Like most wars, it was complicated. But basically, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge were up against the country’s military leader General Nol. But also the US was involved because Nixon wanted to root out the Viet Cong in Cambodia by sending 70,000 troops and dropping 500,000 tons of bombs on Cambodia.
      • As I said, it was chaotic
    • And where some see the despair in chaos, people like Pol Pot see opportunity. All of this violence just lead more and more people to join the Khmer Rouge
    • On April 17th of 1975, after a brutal siege and starvation campaign on the capital, Pol Pot had become the leader of Cambodia.
    • Everyone was hoping the country would cool down for a bit after all the violence of the civil war and the US’s bombing campaign… but that didn’t happen.
    • Pol Pot was in power now and he got to work creating his idea of a utopia.
  • Pol Pot wanted to bring the country back to its roots; a nation built on farming. He wanted to cultivate a grassroots farming community on a national scale. Not a bad idea on paper, but it is how he went about it that was truly horrifying.
    • He set his sights on the urban areas. The educated elite and urbanites were his targets.
    • First, he evacuated the cities. Doctors, Lawyers, and civil servants were forced into “re-education camps.” They had to give up everything they owned to the government and work themselves to death in Cambodia rice patties.
      • I remember the first time I heard about all this I kept thinking how counter-productive it all sounded. Education is good. Education is what propels a country forward… yet here is this cruel moron in power basically gutting the education of his own country.
    • Any resistance was dealt with by means of torture. Anyone trying to change this anti-education policy or even complain about it would be tortured until they complied or were killed.
      • The S-21 Detention Center was a former High School and the most notorious of Pol Pots re-education centers. Out of the 18,000 known prisoners sent to S-21, only 23 survived.
    • the Khmer Rouge interrogation agents were given torture manuals with instructions like “Our experience in the past has been that our interrogators, for the most part, tended to fall on the torture side… However, we must nevertheless strive to do politics to get them always and absolutely to confess to us. Only once have we pressured them politically, only when we have put them in a corner politically and have gotten them to confess will torture become productive.”
  • Pol Pot’s society was hell. He hated educated people so much and was such a small-minded idiot himself that he often sent people to his torture centers if they wore glasses… As if glasses make someone smart.
    • Pol Pot banned:
      • Private Property
      • Jewelry
      • Religion
      • Gambling
      • and Reading
    • If you were caught with any of these outlawed things… you were tortured to death.
    • So let’s say you were lucky enough to fly under the Khmer Rouge’s radar. None of Pol Pot’s lackies ever came to your village and no one you knew was ever sent to a torture center, rare, but possible.
      • You still weren’t off Scott free. Because Pol Pot got rid of all the civil servants and educated people in his country, BIG SURPRISE: the government started to be run poorly. Food shortages and mismanagement lead to widespread famines.
      • If you were lucky enough to escape the torture you would most likely have died by starvation and had your body dumped into a mass grave that would come be known as the Cambodian Killing Fields.
    • Despite his government not having any semblance of democracy, Pol Pot changed Cambodia’s name to the Democratic Kampuchea.
      • This idiot didn’t even know what democracy was.
    • He controlled who and how his citizens could have sex, wear clothing, and acceptable words to be used.
    • Causing another mass halting of food production, Pol Pot ordered all the rice fields to be aligned in a Checkerboard pattern. This stunt worsened the famine causing thousands more to die and he did it all so the fields he saw when he took a drive would resemble the country’s coat of arms…
    • He stocked the ranks of his Khmer Rouge army by abducting children and forcing them to fight in his army lest they be executed.
    • Pol Pot set out to create his vision of a classless utopia by creating rivers of blood and millions of deaths. The Khmer Rouge, a hardline-communist command, terrorized the Southeast Asian country from 1975 to 1979, killing between 1.7 million to 3 million people.
  • This is where our story ties into Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street.
    • Again, the summary of the movie is: Several people are hunted by a cruel serial killer who kills his victims in their dreams. When the survivors are trying to find the reason for being chosen, the murderer won’t lose any chance to kill them as soon as they fall asleep.
    • But the real-life inspiration was arguably more horrifying because it actually happened.
    • A family that fled Cambodia during Pol Pot’s reign witnessed and fought through many horros to finally get to safety. Although they were no longer in physical danger, the entire family was plagued by the trauma they had just endured. The worst case was that of their youngest son. He had such vivid nightmares that he was convinced that “they” would come for him if he fell asleep.
    • The boy refused to fall asleep depriving himself of it for far too long, to the point of hallucination. Days passed before the family was finally able to get their son to sleep.
    • Even though this family safely fled to the United States, they, like many Cambodian refugees at the time, were plagued by their traumatic memories.
    • Wes Craven: “He told his parents he was afraid that if he slept, the thing chasing him would get him, so he tried to stay awake for days at a time. When he finally fell asleep, his parents thought this crisis was over. Then they heard screams in the middle of the night. By the time they got to him, he was dead. He died in the middle of a nightmare. Here was a youngster having a vision of a horror that everyone older was denying. That became the central line of Nightmare on Elm Street.”
  • The LA Times has written many articles on Pol Pot’s massacres in Cambodia and the traumatic effect it has had on the survivors:
    • Four months ago, a refugee Chan knew shot his wife and himself to death in front of the couple’s four horrified children. Patients have come to the clinic carrying guns they refused to relinquish, afraid of security guards because of their uniforms. And it is not uncommon, the psychologist said, for Cambodian refugees to suffer severe headaches, dizziness, disorientation, poor memory, depression, insomnia, body aches, irritability and hallucinations. Some, he says, hear the voices of dead relatives calling to them.
    • “They took my brother away,” said Rao Im, 53, speaking in a choked voice through an interpreter. “They tied him to a chair and beat him with a brick. Then they cut him open and took out his liver.”
    • Said a poker-faced Saroeun Sous, 41: “My 2-year-old son got sick. The soldiers said he was useless, so they threw him against a bamboo bed and broke his back. Two days later he died.”
  • Pol Pot committed atrocities that have had rippling effects. Alongside the many terrified survivors and their stories, one of those rippling effects was Wes Craven’s movie Nightmare on Elm Street.
  • What happened to Pol Pot?
    • In 1979, Vietnamese troops stormed Cambodia and captured its capital Phnom. They forced Pol Pot and his most loyal subjects back into the jungle.
    • While in the jungle, Pol Pot and his guerilla Khmer Rouge troops continued military operations through support from the US and China. This continued for another decade.
    • Until, in 1991 a ceasefire went into effect. In 1997 a Khmer Rouge splinter cell captured Pol Pot… the murderous SOB was placed under house arrest until he died a peaceful death from natural causes at the age of 72… No justice in this episode

Thanks for listening Who’d A Thunkers!

Until next time.

No guarantee I will produce an episode next week because… I’m getting married!!!

CREDIT

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Leif Erikson Day

The content below is from Episode 132 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This week’s recommendation segment ties directly into the main event! This week I recommend you host a party.
    • There are pros and cons to hosting a party, just as there are pros and cons to anything.
    • Cons
      • You are responsible for the location whether it is your own home, a rented venue, or a neutral location.
      • So you have to clean, decorate, and provide some form of food, beverage, or entertainment.
      • If you are a guest at a party, you can simply leave when you want to, but when you host, you are expected to hang around
    • Pros
      • You don’t have to figure out transportation because you are already there!
      • You get to enjoy that awesome feeling that all the enjoyment the guests are having was your own doing.
      • If you spill something on your outfit, no worries, you are already home and can change in a jiffy!
  • The reason I recommend you host a party this week is because Shannon (my VERY soon to be wife) and I are hosting our very first themed party at our own home.
    • We had a house warming party back in April, which was a blast, but this weekend we are hosting Leif Erickson Day!
    • Starting traditions is a joy for me and so I set out to annually host 2 themed parties: Lief Erickson day in early Fall, and The Carbaugh Caberet in the spring.
    • I will say that I am a well-known extrovert that probably has something to do with why I love hosting parties so much.
  • But if you are more of an introvert (meaning spending time with lots of people can feel exhausting) then I suggest you host a smaller party.
    • Shannon and I host small game night parties all the time where we just invite about 2 to 6 people over to play board games and catch up.
  • Another recommendation is the 2007 movie Pathfinder starring Karl Urban.
    • Karl Urban has played Judge Dred, Billy Butcher in Amazon’s The Boys, and Jacob Holland in Netflix’s Sea Beasts.
    • This is one of those movies that I strongly urge you NOT to listen to the critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives this flick a 9%…. yet when I was younger I would always argue over what we could watch as a family and this movie is one of the only movies that my sister Cas and I could agree on. It’s just that good.
      • Here’s the plot: A Viking boy, nicknamed Ghost (Karl Urban), is adopted by the Wampanoag tribe after surviving a shipwreck despite a legend that death and destruction will follow the boy wherever he travels. Over the course of a decade, the young Norseman grows into a fierce warrior and battles against rampaging Vikings who slaughter the tribes. He defends the woman he loves (Moon Bloodgood) by waging a one-man war against his countrymen and becomes the savior and defender of the Wampanoag people.
      • This movie is LOOSELY based on this episode’s main event.
        • Except in this movie, the Vikings are the baddies.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT: Leif Erikson

  • About 500 years before Christopher Columbus crossed the ocean blue (1492), Erik the Red and Leif Erikson set out on the North Atlantic Ocean and started settlements on Greenland.
    • Today, historians recognize these two Vikings as the badass adventurers that they were.
    • Erik’s son Leif went on to be the first European to reach the New World, a feat that was so difficult that he was seldom believed by his fellow man.
    • Unlike Columbus, when the Vikings discovered Vinland, they knew it was an undiscovered land. They weren’t deluded into thinking they had reached Asia.
    • Erik and his son were from Norway, they were full-blown Vikings raised to believe in Odin, Thor, Loki, and all of the Norse religion known as Asatro
      • “Asatro” is the worship of the Norse gods. The religion does not only involve the gods, but also the worship of giants and ancestors. Asatro is a relatively modern term, which became popular in the 19th century. The Vikings did not have a name for their religion when they encountered Christianity.
    • We typically think of Vikings as brutal warriors, and while they did do their fair share of ass-kicking, the Vikings were much better known as seafaring explorers.
      • The Vikings traveled vast distances in their longships: small wooden ships powered by sails and long man-powered oars.
      • Many brave Viking explorers ventured out to sea never to be heard from again. But those lucky enough to discover new land and return to tell about it would become legends. Today’s episode is about two of those real legends.

ERIK THE RED

  • Around the year 950 AD, a Norweigan named Erik the Red was born.
    • Erik the Red, byname of Erik Thorvaldsson, Old Norse Eirik Rauð, Icelandic Eiríkur Rauði. He was named Erik the Red at a young age for his bright red hair.
    • When he was still a young boy, Erik and his family sailed to Iceland.
      • They had been exiled from their homeland of Norway for charges of Manslaughter. Erik’s dad Thorvald had killed a man over a land dispute.
    • So they set up shop in Iceland. But then Erik got into a scuffle with some of his fellow Icelanders and killed two of them… He was again, exiled. So he set sail west and went to another huge island which he named Greenland.
      • I wanted to say Erik the Red discovered Greenland, but that isn’t the case. Though he was the first to stay for an extended period of time:
  • First to settle in Greenland in 985AD
    • Greenland was and still is mostly ice with very little green to be had… but he wanted to trick more people into settling there with him so he called it Greenland… I mean, who would want to live in a land called “It’s so cold here that it hurts all the time-land?”
    • Leaving in about 982 from Snæfellsjökull, one of the westernmost points of Iceland, Erik and a small group of men reached land on the opposite shore of Greenland, a land that had been skirted by the Norwegian Gunnbjörn Ulfsson earlier in the 10th century. The party rounded the southern tip of Greenland and settled on an island at the mouth of Eriksfjord (now known as Tunulliarfik Fjord) near Qaqortoq (formerly Julianehåb). From there they explored the west and north for two years, bestowing place-names everywhere (a form of establishing personal control). Erik chose the inner area of Eriksfjord for his manor house, which he called Brattahlid (“Steep Slope”). He named the country Greenland in the belief that a good name would attract settlers.
  • He returned to Iceland in 986AD and basically conned a bunch of his fellow Vikings into coming with him to his new home of Greenland. With these new settlers he started a Viking Colony in Greenland.
    • Out of the 25 ships that sailed from Iceland, only 14 ships are believed to have landed safely at an area later known as Eystribygd (“Eastern Settlement”). Initially there were 400 to 500 settlers in the colony, which never grew to more than 2,000 to 3,000 inhabitants. Erik’s colony, commemorated in Eiríks Saga Rauða (“Erik the Red’s Saga”) and Grænlendinga Saga (“Saga of the Greenlanders”), maintained contacts with Europe until the mid-15th century, by which time it had gradually died out.

LEIF ERIKSON

Also known as: Leif Ericson, Leif Eriksson, Leif the Lucky, Leifr Eiríksson

From Encyclopedia Britannica:

Leif Erikson, Erikson also spelled ErikssonEricson, or Eiriksson, Old Norse Leifr Eiríksson, byname Leif the Lucky, (flourished 11th century), Norse explorer widely held to have been the first European to reach the shores of North America. The 13th- and 14th-century Icelandic accounts of his life show that he was a member of an early voyage to eastern North America, although he may not have been the first to sight its coast.

  • While Leif’s accomplishments as an explorer are mind boggling, one of the other main reasons he is well known today is because he converted to the world’s largest religion: Christianity… and spread its word.

The second of the three sons of Erik the Red, the first colonizer of Greenland, Leif sailed from Greenland to Norway shortly before 1000 AD to serve among the retainers at the court of Olaf I Tryggvason, who converted him to Christianity and commissioned him to urge that religion upon the Greenland settlers.

  • Before I go any further, I’d like to address a question I get a lot from those who listen to this podcast or at least share a similar fascinationg with history: how the hell do we know all this stuff?
  • Especially since the Vikings or Norse people didn’t write too much down on paper. The most accurate accounts of their ways of life come from foreigners who spent time amongst them like Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan, an Arab poet who traveled north to the Viking lands in the 10th century.
    • Fun Fact:
      • another good Viking movie to watch is the 13th Warrior starring Antonio Banderas. The movie is based on two peculiar sources, one non-fictions based Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan’s description of the Vikings he encountered in the 10th century, and the other source being Beowulf, the oldest surviving story to have been written in English.
    • But the Vikings did tell stories… or Sagas.
    • At their simplest, the Viking sagas are a body of literature that was mostly written by Icelanders in the 13th century CE. Saga is an Old Norse word meaning “a thing that is said.”
    • In the 13th Century, an unknown Icelandic scribe wrote the Viking Sagas and described his people’s pagan past.
    • This is how the story of Erik the Red and his son Leif Erikson are known today: from oral stories passed down generations until one day a scribe decided they were worth writing down.

According to Eiríks saga rauða (“Erik the Red’s Saga”), while returning to Greenland in about 1000, Leif was blown off course and landed on the North American continent, where he observed forests with excellent building timber and grapes, which led him to call the new region Vinland (“Land of Wine”). On his return to Greenland, he proselytized for Christianity and converted his mother, who built the first church in Greenland, at Brattahild, Erik the Red’s estate.

According to the Grænlendinga saga (“Saga of the Greenlanders”) in the Flateyjarbók (“Book of the Flat Islands”), considered by many scholars to be more reliable in some aspects than Eiríks saga rauða, Leif learned of the new land to the west from the Icelander Bjarni Herjólfsson, who had been storm-driven there en route to Greenland about 15 years earlier.

  • Here’s how Ben Thompson over at “BaddassOfTheWeek.com” describes it:
    • “Well, apparently some guy named Bjarni Herjolfsson thought this sounded just stellar and decided he should go visit his dad in Greenland, but as he was making the 450 mile trip from Norway through the North Sea he got blown off course and ended up finding some huge uncharted huge land mass covered with trees and sand and things. Realizing this wasn’t the desolate miserable wasteland he was expecting to find, Bjarni figured he’d made a wrong turn somewhere, so he cranked the e-brake on his longship, popped a U-turn, landed in Greenland, found his pops, and was basically just like, “I guess I found some other new land or whatever but who cares because hooray for Greenland, right folks?”  When Bjarni told his story to Erik the Red, Erik’s young son Leif was pumped. Like, super pumped up out of his mind.”
    • Leif Ericsson pretty much thought about this new world every day for like the next 15 years, dreaming about having the opportunity to win glory by discovering something important, and then celebrating his intrepidness by laying out on the beach working on his tan. When he was finally old enough, Leif tracked down Bjarni Herjolfsson, had coffee or whatever with him, and asked Bjarni to tell him everything about his voyage. Bjarni gave Leif a general idea of where this land was, and Leif was so on board with it that not only did he buy Bjarni’s ship from him, he also went out and hired several members of Bjarni’s old crew so they could help guide him.
    • So, finally, in the nice round-numbered year of 1000 AD, Leif Ericsson assembled a crew of 30 or so rowers and explorers, loaded them into Bjarni’s old ship, dusted off his trusty compass, and prepared for the adventure of a lifetime. Leif offered to let his dad Erik the Red lead the expedition, but as Erik was riding out to the dockyards he fell off his horse and was like, “yeah forget it, I think I’m too old for this stuff anyways.”
  • What followed was madness.
    • Leif took his longship, which could withstand the seas surrounding Europe but was really designed to go up and down rivers, and set out on the open ocean, the north Atlantic with no reference point whatsoever. And it wasn’t like this was smooth sailing. This is the Atlantic, it gets COLD, windy, giant waves, and hellish storms is what lied ahead for Leif. He was going off the story of an old fart from his village… nuts.
    • But he did make it.
    • His fellow Greenland Vikings thought he was mad for attempting such exploration and dubbed him Leif the Lucky for not being swallowed by a mythical Norse sea monster across the ocean.
    • He set foot on what would later become Baffin Island Canada and became the first European to set foot on the Americas… something that wouldn’t be duplicated for another 500 years.

He named the new areas according to their qualities: Helluland (“Land of Flat Rocks”), the Frobisher Bay area in the north (or possibly Cape Chidley on the northern tip of Labrador).

  • Leif didn’t like the land of flat rocks too much lol. He spent little time here and continued south along the coast of what would MUCH later be known as Canada. Then he discovered:

Markland (“Land of Forests”), most likely the central coast of Labrador; and, farthest south, Vinland, possibly the area surrounding the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

  • Vinland is where Leif found paradise.
    • I’ll read what Ben Thompson over at BadassOfTheWeek.com had to say about it again… If you are reading this: sorry for using your writing so often Ben. I just love your style.
    • “Leif the Lucky had finally arrived in a place that was worth discovering. Green meadows, a lush maple forest, beaches, warm weather, deer, rabbits, rainbows, and all kinds of other great things waited for him. If that wasn’t enough, as his crews were exploring the land, a guy named Tyrker the German wandered off through a forest and accidentally discovered a huge patch of wild grape vines. This was such a big deal that not only did Tyrker the German start being known as Tyrker Grape-Finder, but Leif, in his typical Leif Ericsson fashion, named the region Vinland, which (as you can probably guess) means “Vine Land”. It was so rad that Leif decided to stay there for the winter. He and his men built turf houses, a smithy, a lumber yard, a dock to fix their ship, and even a sauna to relax their tired rowing muscles. The Vikings picked a ton of grapes and made their own wine, which was huge for them because grapes don’t grow in Scandinavia, and usually any time the Vikings wanted a nice bottle of fine wine they had to burn a Frankish monastery to the ground and pry it from the hands of a Catholic monk. 
    • After spending the most pleasant winter of his life chilling in Vinland, Leif and his men sailed back to Greenland and told everyone what went down. They were welcomed home as heroes, but there was also some bad news – Erik the Red was dead, and now everyone was looking to Leif to lead them as Jarl of Greenland. It was a responsibility Leif couldn’t refuse. He would never return to the New World again.”

“Leif set sail when he was ready; he ran into prolonged difficulties at sea, and finally came upon lands whose existence he had never suspected. There were fields of wild wheat growing there, and vines, and among the trees were maples.”

– The Saga of Erik the Red

Further expeditions to Vinland were later made by Leif’s siblings, Thorstein (whom weather forced to turn back before he reached Vinland), Thorvald, and Freydis, as well as by the Icelander Thorfinn Karlsefni.

  • Thorvald, Leif’s brother, had one hell of a story from his adventure to Vinland… Unfortunately he never got to tell it… but one of his crew did.
    • Thorvald did make it to Vinland and even had enough resources to venture farther south. But Thorvald’s party came across something that Leif’s party did not… indigenous people, Native Americans.
      • Refer back to my recommendation segment from this week and the movie Pathfinder where Vikings arrive and get their asses kicked by Native Americans…
    • Thorvald and his men called the Native American Skrellings which is the Norse word for fairies, elves, and all the mythical woodland beings.
      • I actually love this detail because before we were calling them Indians, Vikings had dubbed them Skellings.
    • Well when diplomacy didn’t work and the Skellings were offended by all the Vikings running around the land and “discovery” everything, they started whooping Viking ass. Thorvald’s party got their asses handed to them. Thorvald himself got an arrow in the abdomen (the first European to die on North American soil… but not the last! HAHA Take that you redcoat bastards!… oh wait, I’m about 700 years off here)… Thorvald’s crew turned tail and ran on home to Greenland.
  • But that wasn’t the end of the Viking voyages to Vinland
    • After Thorvald’s crew returned with news that their captain had perished, a Norweigan viking and trader by the name of Throfin Karlsfeni married his widow. He then took on the dream of Thorvald and attempted to establish a settlement in Vinland.
    • He took about 100 Norse men and women and spent 3 winters living where Leif had previously created the smithy, doc, and grass huts.
    • Thorfin’s wife Gudrid gave birth to his son Snorri while they were living in Vinland and he would be the first European child born in the New World.
    • Thorfin, a trader and not particular to the life of a warrior, tried to make peace with the Skrellings by trading things like Milk and furs that the Native Americans had never seen before.
    • But again diplomacy was lost in the end. Thorfin’s people only brought so many furs from Europe and without establishing a reliable means of communication, the Skrellings took it as a sign of disrespect that they stopped trading.
    • Communication is key, because, without it, Mutually beneficial trade turned into all-out battles within just a few years. Axe-wielding Vikings went up against hardcore native Americans and lost.
  • With such heavy losses in manpower and little left of his settlement, Thorfin left Vinland for good. But he went back to Greenland and told tales of his time in the New World. Then a 4th… and final expedition was launched for Vinland
    • By this time the Skrellings had had enough. Vikings showed up to Vinland and started harvesting grapes and after only being on the continent for a few short days were brutally attacked by the Native Americans. This party didn’t fair well at all. They were greatly outnumbered and not armed for such a well-executed attack… so they just ran from the Skrellings, people they still perceived as mythical beings of the forest.
    • While all the Viking men ran in terror, Leif Erikson’s sister Freydis Eriksdottr turned and tried to rally the men. She was pregnant at the time, in her third trimester when she said “Why do ye run, stout men as ye are, before these miserable wretches, whom I thought ye would knock down like cattle? If I had weapons, methinks I could fight better than any of ye!”… that’s badass
    • Freydis’s rally didn’t work. The Viking men fled the battle all the same… but she didn’t. She had the blood of Erik the Red in her veins. She grabbed the sword of a slain Viking at her feet, ripped open her shirt, gave a bone-rattling war cry, and slammed the sword to her chest until all the Skrellings had run away in fear… again, she was like 8 months pregnant…….
    • Freydis’s party went on to harvest grapes, and before they were through, Fredis had killed 5 Viking women in a dispute over said grapes LOL. This family was nutz.
    • There were a few more Viking expeditions to Markland for timber, but none to Vinland after Freydis’s party. The new world was about as far as Norway. The main difference being that Norway was full of allies willing to trade and not an unknown number of super hostile Skrellings.
  • Time passed and soon the Greenland Saga was seen as tale of fiction by Europeans. The Old World, including most Nordic countries, had written Vinland off as nothing more than a story…
    • That was until “In the 1960s two Norwegian researchers, Helge Ingstad and Anne Stine Ingstad, discovered and excavated the Viking base camp at L’Anse aux Meadows (map) on the northern tip of Newfoundland—the first confirmed Viking outpost in the Americas. Dated to between 989 and 1020, the camp boasted three Viking halls, as well as an assortment of huts for weaving, ironworking, and ship repair.”
    • This shit happened. Leif Erikson, one of the greatest explorers of all time was laughed at by his peers and for nearly a millennia his accomplishments were regarded as mere myths. But no, Leif did it. He had the balls to dream big and risk icy watery grave hundreds of miles away from his home to see his dream come true… and he did it.
  • It is a shame that a man who knowingly sailed to the Americas to enslave, torture, and murder Native Americans to the point of Genocide is celebrated with a Nationally recognized holiday I’m speaking of Christopher Columbus… , yet no one remembers Leif Erickson even existed.
  • National Geographic’s Becky Little writes: ”
    • “Christopher Columbus and his holiday are controversial today largely because of the way he and subsequent European explorers and settlers treated Native Americans. For years, there have been campaigns to celebrate an indigenous people’s day. But in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many people had a different problem with Columbus: They argued that the real credit for discovering North America should go to Erikson, who they believed arrived 500 years before Columbus. Plus, they favored Erikson because, unlike Columbus, he wasn’t Italian or Catholic.”
    • The idea is that back in late 1800’s and early 1900’s America, there was a lot more discrimination against Italian and Catholic people. Non-Catholics (mainly Protestant) Americans were weary about celebrating a holiday for an Italian Catholic as they were seen as lesser.
      • Hard to believe nowadays as Italian and Catholic discrimination is virtually unheard of in American society, but back then it was a bid deal.
    • “Around the time of the centennial, a Roman Catholic organization called the Knights of Columbus and several Italian American groups began to lobby Congress to recognize Columbus Day. In 1907, the founder of Colorado’s first Italian newspaper helped establish the first official Columbus Day in his state, and within a few years, 15 states had adopted the holiday. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1971, most states already recognized Columbus Day.
    • Leif Erikson Day made its debut in the early 20th century too, but it never gained the same momentum. Though it’s been a national day of observance since 1954 (meaning the president issues a proclamation about it), many people don’t even know about Leif Erikson Day.
    • Columbus’s “victory” over Erikson is partly due to early lobbying by Italian Americans”
    • I’m not against indigenous people’s day, but I don’t really want to celebrate Columbus day.
  • Government workers get off work on Columbus day for pete’s sake! So I thought the least I could do was throw a party each year in Western Pennsylvania to honor the FIRST European to reach the Americas. Leif Erikson day is October 9th each year. I hope you will celebrate it with me!
    • You can celebrate like Spongebob and dress up as a Viking. Or you can enjoy some Norweigan food: fish, cheese, and bread are the 3 staples of Norweigan cuisine.

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Palisade Nevada

The content below is from Episode 131 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This week I recommend you watch Cyberpunk: Edgerunners
    • Anime fans and Cyberpunk video game fans are FREAKING out over Netflix’s new animated addition to the Cyberpunk franchise.
    • The game came out with some controversy because the producers of the game knowingly released an unfinished and majorly flawed game… but still charged full price.
      • That being said the game was ambitious. It drops the player into this expansive dystopian future where technology is EVERYTHING.
      • I personally have never played the game, but I have seen videos.
    • Now, this show comes out and everyone is loving it. 100% on rotten tomatoes.
      • Here’s a summary: A street kid tries to survive in a technology and body modification-obsessed city of the future; with everything to lose, he chooses to stay alive by becoming an edgerunner: a mercenary outlaw, also known as a cyberpunk.
      • First episode date: September 13, 2022
  • Please note that this show has some VERY mature content. Lots of violence and sexual content. But it is all to put you, the viewer, into this fantastic world of CyberPunk

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • What do you suppose was the most dangerous town in the old wild west?
    • Dodge City?
    • Tombstone?
    • Nope, it was Palisade, Nevada… at least for a short while that is.
  • Located right on the Central Pacific Railroad, Palisade was known far and wide for having streets that flowed red with blood. As passengers passed by on the railroad they would witness all sorts of calamity play out right before their eyes!
    • But if one took the time to stay awhile, get to know the town and its people, they would find it was quite a nice place to live… how could that be?
    • Well you see, money was tight in this po-dunk tumbleweed town. So the residents had a hot idea one day, why not give the people what they want! This idea culminated in America’s… possibly the world’s first Theme Park
    • Each time a train would pass by, dropping off passengers or even holding onto its passengers (sort of as a moving audience) the townsfolk would put on a show.
    • Elaborate gunfights, robberies, public executions (this is the wild west so that means Hangin’s!).
    • The shows were a parody of what their fellow western towns actually faced each day.
    • It may not ahve lasted long, but awhile, the people of Palisade created a unique tourist attraction for anyone seeking adventure and danger in the wild west.

The Sleepy Town of Palisade Was Considered By Some Historians To Be The First Theme Park

  • The town had all the locals in on the bit. It wasn’t long after the trans-continental railroad was finished that the towns people started putting on their shows.
    • The first Palisade spectacle took place in 1876. Ever since, theme parks have used Palisade’s shows as a blueprint on how to portray the wild west. There were mock gunfights with stunt men firing blanks and cueing the next stunt man to fall off of his horse.
    • This tradition is carried out today in parks like the Six Gun Territory in Ocala Florida, Old Tuscon in Tuscon Arizona, and Fronteir Town, and Fronteir Town in Ocean City Maryland
      • A childhood friend of mine’s family would take me to Fronteir Town every summer. I’ve seen wild west shows like these lol. They are corny as hell but certainly fun.
The nostalgia is REAL! lol

The Hoax Was Inspired By People’s Appetite For Wild West Experiences And BoredomPhoto: William DeVeny / Wikimedia Commons / No Known Copyright Restrictions

  • The motivation to put on such shows was a combination of a few things. Folks from the railroad were overheard saying how they never saw a real gunfight and wish they could, and the town’s main source of revenue had dried up.
    • Palisade was a thriving mining community until the mine wasn’t profitable anymore. This was a common occurrence in mining communities. The town’s economy had become reliant on the mine to keep it going. But unlike other mining communities on hard times, the people of Palisade refused to give up.
    • Pretty soon visitors/tourists started showing up in droves causing a boom in the local economy. Officially no one knew the town was putting on a hoax. They all thought it was real and Palisade the most dangerous place in America… but in reality it was one of the safest and most inclusive.

The Acts Of Aggression Were All A Hoax By Townspeople For The Tourists Who Came In Via Train

  • Frank West and Alvin Kittleby were the first to put on a show. Frank said to Alvin “There you are! You low-down polecat! I’ve been waiting for you. Imma going to kill you for what you did to my sister!”
    • And like a live soap opera with six shooters, the fight was on.
    • Not only did the townspeople enthusiastically participate in these mock fights, but the local Native American tribes and railroad workers often joined in as well. Their contributions were often impromptu.
    • As the train approached, men, women, and children took their places, readying for their roles. Women cried and men carried off their targets as scared onlookers ducked under seats and hid behind rail cars, terrified for their lives. 
  • It was known as the Toughest Town West of Chicago because the townspeople would perform every day except Sundays.
    • As more and more railway passengers witnessed Palisade’s fights the news spread East to the largely populated cities like New York and Philadelphia.
    • Newspapers caught wind of this hearsay sweeping through their cities and began to publish articles about daily brawls, gun deaths, and all-around lawlessness… little did they know it was all a show.
    • So what started out as a town full of bored people looking to bring in a few more railway passengers with stories of dangerous wild west adventure, soon became a nationally recognized destination.

The Hoax Lasted Three Profitable Years

  • Originally Palisade was established as a mining community and connected to the Central Pacific Railroad as a remarkable transportation hub. Only known by the railroad because there weren’t many other places to stop for rest and resources nearby.
    • The town had only been founded in 1866 and by fall of 1876 the first staged duels were kicking off.
    • For a time, All the people traveling from San Francisco and Chicago either stopped or road right on past Palisade.
  • The duels and robberies were the most common shows, but Palisade also put on shows of hangings and fake Native American invasions of the towns.
    • The people of Palisade would pay local Tribes to invade them or to be bound and hogtied right on the railroad platform. They would bound them hand and foot and have a nasty looking guard stand by his bound body.
    • The town even went so far as to load their shotguns, rifles, and revolvers with gunpowder (with no projectile) and fire makeshift blanks at each other AND the railway passengers as soon as they got off the train.
    • They gave the show shock value! LOL Passengers were often seen running right back to the train for shelter, while others stayed for the excitement.
    • From The EurekaSentinel.com : Nevada historian Dan Ashbaugh noted that when “[s]hooting commenced in all directions, ‘victims’ falling everywhere… Passengers screamed with terror and ran for safe spots.” They took refuge behind – or under – train cars. Ashbaugh also pointed out, however, “None of the passengers ever seemed to notice that the victims were quickly carried over to Johnson’s Saloon, where they miraculously recovered and could watch the last act.”

Local Tribes And Railroad Workers Were Also Involved And Helped With The ReenactmentsPhoto: U.S. Army Signal Corps / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

  • There was a local tribe known as the Shoshone Tribe that worked directly with the Palisade townsfolk and railway staff. Together they would all stage massacres with men, women, and children being fake stabbed and fake scalped.
    • But everyone involved was very good at what they did. No injuries or deaths were caused by the shows. This town was so safe they didn’t even have a Sheriff because there was no need for one. The community was very close-knit and they all watched out for each other.
    • Now in order for the show to be believable they needed blood and fake blood hadn’t been invented yet… so they used real blood from the local slaughterhouse!
      • The first fake Blood was manufactured by a retired British pharmacist, John Tinegate or Tynegate, during the 1960s and 1970s, in the village of Abbotsbury, Dorset. Many varieties of blood, having various degrees of viscosity, shades and textures, were available.
    • These events could last up to 10 minutes and GALLONS of cattle blood was poured over adults and children who had been fake stabbed or shot by faux ruffians or tribes.
    • I think it is rather wholesome to hear that Native Americans and settlers worked together in a roadside theater show LOL. I mean, there must have been some friendships that came out of this 3-year long theme park.
Palisade Is Now Nothing More Than A Ghost Town
Palisade today
  • The town thrived when the new railway station was built in 1882. This station was where the Central Pacific and Eureka-Palisade lines met, it was a hub for people to meet from all over. And later the Western Pacific Railroad started making stops at Palisade.
    • The nearby town of Eureka had a thriving mine for awhile and things were looking up. But then the mining and extraction industry started to take a nose dive.
    • The Mines had the supply, but demand was waning. Plus there had been lots of floods in the area making mining work more expensive.
    • Both Eureka and Palisade ceased to exist. In 1961 the Palisade post office was shut down.
    • Today the town of Palisade, Nevada is a ghost town.
    • In the wake of abandonment, Palisade remained in the hands of John Sexton, former head of the obsolete Eureka-Palisade Railroad. Sexton’s descendants sold Palisade, Nevada, at auction in 2005 to an anonymous buyer. The unidentified new owner paid $150,000 for the town. According to the Sexton heir, also named John, “My mother would shoot me if she knew what I’d done, but that’s all right… my daughter needs to go to college… Palisade will pay for about three years’ worth.”
      • Sad it’s a ghost town, happy that it was sold by a good dad.

THANKS OF LISTENING WHO’D A THUNKERS!

UNTIL NEXT WEEK

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The Eggplant

The content below is from Episode 130 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This week I recommend you check out a very good audiobook: One by One written by Ruth Ware and read by Imogen Church
    • The book:
      • Getting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world. Especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm, and others to keep you company. Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers…each with something to gain, something to lose, and something to hide.
      • When the cofounder of Snoop, a trendy London-based tech startup, organizes a weeklong trip for the team in the French Alps, it starts out as a corporate retreat like any other: PowerPoint presentations and strategy sessions broken up by mandatory bonding on the slopes. But as soon as one shareholder upends the agenda by pushing a lucrative but contentious buyout offer, tensions simmer and loyalties are tested. The storm brewing inside the chalet is no match for the one outside, however, and a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from all access to the outside world. Even worse, one Snooper hadn’t made it back from the slopes when the avalanche hit.
      • As each hour passes without any sign of rescue, panic mounts, the chalet grows colder, and the group dwindles further…one by one.
    • The author:
      • Ruth Ware worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language, and a press officer before settling down as a full-time writer. She now lives with her family in Sussex, on the south coast of England. She is the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail (Toronto) bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark WoodThe Woman in Cabin 10The Lying GameThe Death of Mrs. WestawayThe Turn of the KeyOne by One; and The It Girl. Visit her at RuthWare.com or follow her on Twitter @RuthWareWriter.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • Have you ever seen the movie The Truman Show? It was the main topic of Episode #3 of this podcast… way back when I first started. The film stars Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, a man who grew up living an ordinary life that—unbeknownst to him—takes place on a large TV set populated by actors for a television show about him. His entire life is broadcasted live for the whole world to watch.
    • This episode is about a sort-of similar true story about a guy named Tomoaki Hamatsu, better known as Nasubi (the Eggplant).
  • Tomoaki Hamatsu (who will be referred to simply as Nasubi for the rest of the episode), a Japanese comedian born in August of 1975, entered into a lottery one day. What the lottery was for was quite vague stating only that it was to win a “show-business-related job.” Nasubi won the lottery.
    • Shortly after, he was approached by a Japanese reality TV show called Susunu! Denpa Shonen (it was a show that ran from 1998 to 2002).
    • Every season of Susunu! Denpa Shonen had a different, often malicious approach, usually like a survival movie gone horribly wrong. Two contestants were stranded on an island and had to make a raft, spending four months trying to escape in one season, while others had to hitchhike from South Africa to Norway in another. One season saw a contestant placed in a room with a TV to watch his favorite baseball team play each day; if the team won, he would receive food, but if the team lost, he wouldn’t eat and the electricity would be shut off in the room, with a losing streak meaning starvation.
    • The show producers informed him what his winning lottery ticket had won him: a unique challenge to enter mail-in sweepstakes (from magazines, newspapers, catelogues, etc.) until he accumulated enough money (or equivalent prizes) that amounted to ¥1 million (about $10,000 US).
    • Sounds easy enough, but the catch was that he started the challenge with NOTHING: No food, no furniture, and no clothing.
      • He was given shelter in an empty apartment, running water, heating, and electricity… but besides that, the only things to keep him company were the piles of magazines and newspapers he combed through to gather his winnings. Oh, and the post cards necessary to mail in the sweepstakes entries.
      • There was no access to TV, radio, or any other form of communication with the outside world for the duration of the competition.
      • He was however given a camera. How else would the Reality TV show capitalize on this challenge?

Here is a complete inventory of Nasubi’s apartment at the start of the show:

  • a shower
  • a radio
  • a telephone
  • a gas burner
  • a sink
  • a large rack of magazines
  • a giant stack of postcards
  • a small table
  • a single cushion.
  • The walls of the apartment were rigged up with cameras
  • and he had a portable mic around his neck
  • Now I said earlier that he started the challenge with no clothing. So the TV Show people edited the video by putting a cartoon eggplant graphic over his private bits. Nasubi is the Japanese word for Eggplant. This is why this struggling and desperate comedian (willing to enter a lottery to appear on Reality TV) came to be known as the Eggplant… and still is today.
    • This was in the late 90’s, early 2000s mind you. Long before the eggplant emoji was used by people to symbolize… male genitals.
  • Now the entire time Nasubi was doing this challenge he thought the camera he had in the room with him was under his control. He thought he could press record and stop and all the footage taken would later be reviewed and edited by the Reality TV show people…
  • But in fact the Reality TV Show people were live streaming their experiment to the world. They were using (at the time) new technology that allowed them to re-air the video with sound effects, and graphics (like the eggplant and sometimes a joystick used to cover his genitals).
    • This poor guy was under the impression that everything was being edited by him, and also later by professionals… when all of his most vulnerable moments were being broadcast live.
    • He was livestreamed 24 hours a day to internet viewers, a large staff had to be on hand to move the censorship eggplant as he moved around
    • They even told Nasubi that this was more of an experiment than a TV show and there was a good chance it wouldn’t ever see the light of day… The reality being that the show wound up breaking ratings records it was so popular.
  • So the challenge began. He didn’t get to start out with any food so he only had water and that caused significant weight loss in a man who was already a slender Japanese guy.
    • Fortunately, from a couple sweepstakes, he did win some energy drinks that had lots of sugar in them.
    • Then he did eventually win a bag of rice! Some real food!… but he didn’t have any pots or any sort of container to cook the rice in… so he had to eat it raw.
      • He did make a ghetto-Esque heating container out of a trash bag that he was able to hold the rice in and near the stove. This did cook the rice.
    • But rice would not be his main source of food throughout this challenge. Can you guess what magazine sweepstakes proved to be a reliable source of food? Dog food.
    • The dude had to eat canned and kibble dog food for the majority of his caloric intake after the rice ran out.
    • The next big win came in the form of a stuffed toy. Nasubi’s fracturing psyche latched on to the toy and soon he was having full conversations with it and referring to it as Sensei. That was his onfly form of interaction for quite sometime.
  • An edited summary of Nasubi’s experience would appear on Denpa Shonen for 8-10 minutes a week over the next 15 months, a dark comedy segment about a life spent writing letters (roughly 1,400 a week) and answering the door.
    • Every episode shows Nasubi waking up, telling the camera what day it is, writing sweepstakes letters (he quickly gives up on trying to win radio contests and instead devotes his time to magazine write-in sweepstakes), then receiving a series of delivered prize winnings which range from life-saving to worthless. The first episode shows him answer the door for a ramen delivery sent to the wrong address, a taunting moment for someone who ostensibly has no food for the first two weeks (viewers have to assume he received some food off-camera to get through this opening period).
  • All this while naked and on camera, streaming live to the masses. He did eventually win a pair of underwear, but it was ladies panties and was far too small to fit him. So for the entirety of the show he was naked… other than the graphic of the Eggplant digitally placed over his privates.
    • On top of being naked and exposed, he never won anything to trim his hair or facial hair. As all of his hair grew out he began to look more like a caveman… an animal more than a member of society. His fingernails didn’t help as they grew to the length of claws.
    • Every once in awhile he would win something useful like some sports drinks to boost his morale, but he also won lots of prizes that crushed his morale just as much. Movie tickets, a bicycle, museum tickets were all prizes he won, but couldn’t use as they required him to leave the apartment and therefore lose the challenge that the Reality TV show put him in.
      • He did create a makeshift stationary bike with the bicycle which was an engineering feat and improved his mental and physical health.
  • Nasubi would enter sweepstakes en masse without even looking to see what the prize was. Anything he could win to improve his situation helped.
    • He won a Television set one day and was elated as it would help pass the time. But the TV show producers intentionally put him in an apartment with no antenna or cable hookup in fear that me might find the channel he was being broadcasted on.
      • Remember, he didn’t know he was being watched.
    • But eventually he won a Sony Playstation, 1 controller, and 1 game that came with it: Densha de Go! (a train simulator).
  • Nasubi was the first-ever video game livestreamer.
    • From NewZoo.com: This year, 2022, the games live-streaming audience will grow by +13.8% year on year to reach 921.2 million—almost doubling the esports market’s audience. Streaming’s audience will cross the billion mark by 2023, increasing with a CAGR of +16.3% from 2020 to reach 1.4 billion in 2025
    • “Tomoaki Hamatsu (浜津 智明) also known as Nasubi (なすび, “Eggplant“) is credited as the first video game live streamer due to the fact that he won a Playstation, a TV, and the video game Densha de Go! all through Magazine Sweepstakes during the game show Denpa Shōnen teki Kenshō Seikatsu. (Denpa Shonen Sweepstakes Life) The goal of the game was to win ¥1 million ($6894.50) in sweepstake prizes all whilst being naked and he could only use stuff he won for food, clothing, and entertainment. By November 1998 Nasubi became the first to livestream a video game after winning a PlayStation along with his TV and the video game. He ended up playing this game for 3 whole days straight before banning himself from it due to it distracting him from his goal.”

For 3 days straight, this was Nasubi’s home:

The man was losing his damn mind.

  • Now as you can imagine, this show was gathering quite a lot of popularity. People all over the island of Japan were tuning in to watch this crazy dude going through WAY too much suffering for a reality TV show prize… of which he didn’t know specifics.
    • With all that popularity, some were bound to figure out where Nasubi was staying, where his apartment was located. Fans, media people, paparazzi started showing up to the building hoping to get a glimpse of the now-famouse man, but the producers were worried. If Nasubi saw all the attention he was getting, he would quickly realize the show wasn’t being saved to be edited, but livestreamed. So the producers took action.
    • They blindfolded Nasubi, and took him far away to a different, but very similar apartment. When he took off his blindfold after a long journey and found himself in virtually the same apartment, with all the same sweepstakes winnings he had already won he was like “Um… did I win?”
      • The producers just told Nasubi they moved him because this new location was better luck than the last…
      • It wasn’t.
    • Nasubi did win a large chair and a desk which was nice, but that was about all he won. It seemed this new location was bad luck… so the producers moved him AGAIN to another boring apartment via blindfold car ride… naked.
    • In this 3rd location Nasubi won a VCR which he put to use with two tapes he had won earlier.
      • I couldn’t find what the tapes were that he won, but I like to think they were something quirky like Japanese version of antiques roadshow and a cartoon movie for kids LOL
    • In order to escape his agonizing situation he watched those two tapes on VCR and played that Train simulator for days on end… only stopping in hopes that he could finally win enough in sweepstakes money to get him out of the situation.
  • Well Nasubi was hard at work filling out post cards to enter into sweepsteaks competitions. One day he got a struck of luck and won a set of 4 car tires that was worth about 84,000¥ (about $600 USD) which got him very close to the 1 million¥ mark. It was a bag of rice that finally allowed him to reach his goal. … 355 days after the challenge started, Nasubi had won.
    • Nasubi was elated. He had suffered for a year living like a desparate hermit all to further his career as a comedian But now he had won!
    • He was informed of his victory, given back his clothes, blindfolded and taken to a surprise location.
      • When he put his clothes on he immediately felt itchy and hot. He took them off as soon as he could.
    • When they arrived at the surprise location Nasubi (still blindfolded) was excited to see what his hard work had won him. But when the show producers removed the blindfold he found himself in South Korea. His prize was 1 day at an amusement park… He ordered all the food he wanted and rode all the rides he could… Then they blindfolded him again.
    • The show producers had the audacity to put Nasubi, after he had beaten their absurd challenge, back into another empty apartment and tell him to enter into more sweepsteaks… so that he could get a plain ticket home with Japan Airlines… This crazy SOB went along with it fearing that if he didn’t, they would strand him in South Korea (a foreign nation from his home of Japan) and not give him a worthy prize for his year of hard work.
    • This time Nasubi was a sweepsteaks pro. He beat this new challenge in record time, just a few weeks. What did the producers do? They said “oh, did we say any ticket? Sorry Nasubi, but you have to win enough money in prizes for business class.”
    • When Nasubi quickly got enough sweepsteaks prizes to cover a business class ticket… they said “sorry, did we say business class? You have to win enough for First class.” The producers were set on milking Nasubi’s fame for all it was worth regardless of the suffering it caused him.
      • Unfortunately, for the producers, this didn’t take Nasubi long at all to accomplish either. Within just a few more weeks he had won enough for a first-class ticket home to Japan… can you guess what the producers did? They gave him his clothes back, blindfolded him, and took him to another undisclosed location.
  • This time Nasubi’s blindfold was removed and he found himself in another empty apartment. As he had done about a half dozen times before, he removed his clothes to prepare for another stint of the challenge that seemed to never end. That’s when the walls around him fell away and revealed that he was on stage with a humungous live studio audience watching him… naked.
    • What happened next wasn’t Nasubi laughing, or getting embarassed. No, he was downright confused because all along he was told the footage was being kept for an experiment. He had no idea that people even knew he was doing this challenge, let alone that he had gathered such a large amount of fame.
  • This entire messed up journey lasted about 15 months. 15 months of Nasubi’s life was spent being manipulated by these show producers and all they gave him was a day at a kids amusement park. Yeah he became famous and he was able to capitalize on that a bit, but the only thing the show actually provided as a prize was 1 day at an amusement park!
    • Nasubi did keep a diary throughout the experience and he published that diary (multiple diaries) and it became a best seller in Japan. The TV show broke records with over 17 million viewers every Sunday night for months in a row.
    • He also made it into the Guinness book of world records for “the longest time survived on competition winnings.”
    • It was about a year after the challenge had ACTUALLY ended that Nasubi felt comfortable in his own clothes again. So used to being naked for so long he found himself sweaty and itchy with them on for quite sometime. Not to mention the fact that he had to re-learn how to hold a conversation with people.
    • During Covid, in April of 2020, he helped create a bunch of PSAs to encourage people to stay isolated. He urged the people to stay away from others because even though it seems dark, he survived it.
      • He sounds like a pretty cool dude.
  • Although he agreed to take part in this “experiment” to boost his comedy career, he was unable to find footing as a Variety TV host. But he did become a local legend in Fukushima Japan. He is the leader of the stage group named Eggplant Way.
  • And a happy/cool note to end the episode, Nasubi (Tomoako Hamatsu) did what few adventurers ever get the chance to: in 2016 he scaled Mount freaking Everest.

THANKS FOR LISTENING WHO’D A THUNKERS!

UNTIL NEXT WEEK

CREDIT:

This meme, found on the subreddit r/HistoryMemes, is what put me onto the story of Nasubi.
Categories
Uncategorized

The Caves Have Eyes

The content below is from Episode 129 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

ANNOUNCEMENT

  • So two episodes back #127 “The Worst Road Trip I Have Ever Taken” I talked about how The weekend prior was the bachelor party of one of my best friends. It was supposed to be in Charleston SC. But the Best Man took all of our money for the mansion on the beach, booked a crappy shack 30+ minutes out of town, and snorted the $3,700 leftover… right up his now scabbed and scarred nose. 
    • Best Man deceived 10 of us (his friends since childhood) in multiple ways for months and never showed signs of taking responsibility for his actions.
    • Although I was hesitant about publishing the episode, I obviously went through with it, but I took precautions. For instance, I didn’t mention some of the other morally questionable things Best Man did on the trip, I only referred to him as Best Man, and I did give resources at the end for NA and Gambling addiction help.
    • While I did NOT post about this episode on social media or promote it in any way, I did hear from about a dozen people how they thought it was a good episode and how they sympathized with me and the groom. Four of those people were people who were also on the trip. Four people, that were actually involved and who also had their money stolen from them, approved of episode #127.
    • Well on Thursday 9/8/2022, just over a week from posting episode #127, I received the first hate mail that this podcast has ever gotten.
    • A mutual friend from High School who knows all of us, but was NOT on the bachelor party trip (nor was he invited), decided to give his opinion.
    • Mr. Hate Mail (as he will be referred to) went on to belittle me and poke fun at this podcast, using all sorts of profanity. Saying how I was to blame for “not letting this *stuff go.”
    • I would just like to say I do not regret my actions. I view this entire interaction as a milestone for the podcast. MY FIRST HATE MAIL! YAY!
    • And I disagree with that statement, I have let it go. I recorded the podcast and was done with it. Just like I’m done with Best Man. I still want my money back from Best Man, but I realize that will likely never happen.
    • Plus, episode #127 got a slight uptick in listens/downloads so thank you to all who enjoyed it and also those who hated it… counts as a listen/download either way!
  • I have an unhealthy need to make sure everyone likes me sometimes, and this interaction has helped me break that need. Thank you Mr. Hate Mail. Your need to trash talk me on a subject you know nothing about and lack of proper grammar in doing so has helped me.
  • I wasn’t going to post episode #127 on social media, but your reaching out inspired me to do so.
    • As promised, Mr. Hate Mail’s name has also been purposefully omitted.
  • Last note on the topic: the wedding is coming up and so far, Best Man is still technically the Best Man lol. So we shall see how that goes.
    • Now that I got that petty High School drama out of the way…

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

The segment where I recommend you try something. It could be a book, movie, TV show, or something totally different. Sometimes this segment ties into the main event of the episode, but it usually has nothing to do with it.

  • This week I recommend you mix coffee and coca-cola.
    • Hear me out. They make a Coca-cola with Coffee drink in a can and it is delicious. There is a Dark Blend, mocha, vanilla, caramel, and they have ZERO calorie versions too. Those taste amazing and got me hooked…
    • But then… I stopped seeing them at my local convenience store. I asked the woman that worked there and she said they don’t carry it anymore, “not enough business on it.”
    • I was worried I would never get to taste that rich taste again, until…
    • Just the other day I was pouring myself some homemade decaf cold brew
      • (yes, Shannon and I have a cold brew maker thing… much simpler than you might think)
    • and as I was pouring the cold brew into my mug I saw we had some diet coke in the fridge. There wasn’t enough cold brew to fill my mug so I thought I would combine. And wouldn’t you know it, homemade Coca-Cola with Coffee tastes just as good as the canned stuff LOL.
    • Once I get the ratio of coffee to coke down I will be all set.
    • It may sound kind of gnarly to you to try these two classic beverages together, but I say you give it a try. Pour some cold coffee and cold coke into a mug and give it a swig. If you don’t like it, no harm done.
    • THAT is what this Recommendation segment is all about!

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • This week’s episode is about Sawney Bean and his clan of murderous incest cannibal family members.
    • Yeah, you heard that right. This one’s a doosy! There has even been movies inspired by Sawney Bean’s evil legend, though that’s all the movie got out of the tale… inspiration.
Hills Have Eyes 1977
  • The plot of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes (1977) is very different from the legend of Sawney Bean.
    • The film follows the Carters, a suburban family targeted by a family of cannibal savages after becoming stranded in the Nevada desert.
Hills Have Eyes 2006
  • I will admit, I haven’t seen the original Hills Have Eyes movie, I did however watch the 2006 remake and I LOVED it.
    • I was still at a young age when horror movies actually scared the living hell out of me because I couldn’t separate the movie from reality. So It was kind of traumatizing, but once the survivor starts to take revenge on the monsters, that’s when I really started to like the movie. I recommend the 2006 Hills Have Eyes… it is brutally cool.
    • The main difference between the original 1977 version and the 2006 remake is that the remake added that the cannibalistic bad guys were mutated by atomic bomb testing which added to the horror in my book.
  • But yeah, the popular horror movie Franchise Hills Have Eyes that entertained horror flick fans for decades was inspired by true events… that’s the kind of fact that scares adults LOL.
Wes Craven
  • Wes Craven was interviewed by Horror.com in 2006 about this inspiration:
    • “Originally, it came from an article I saw in the New York library about the Sawney Bean Family. In the 1700s in Scotland I believe, there was an area that had road running through it from Scotland, and people thought it was haunted because people kept disappearing from that road. The story came out when a couple was attacked by these wild-looking people, and one got away. He knew someone in the court, and they sent out an expedition which resulted in finding a cave along the English Channel.”
  • So when my step dad Roy told me to look into the true story behind the Hills Have Eyes, I knew it would be a podcast episode! Thanks Roy.
The Cave
  • The legend of Sawney Bean (a name so terrifying, yet also goofey) begins in East Lothian Scotland.
    • Alexander “Sawney” Bean was born during the 16th century (1500s) in East Lothian Scotland. His father worked manual labor as a ditch-digger and a hedge-trimmer. Sawney tried to work alongside his father but didn’t take to manual labor. He decided to leave home with a woman he had met by the name of Black Agnes Douglas, a supposed wicked woman expected of being a witch.
    • It must have been true love because the two got married and moved away to Ballantrae in Ayrshire Scotland. There they found a home in Bennane Cave… yes, a cave. A big cave with over a mile of tunnels reaching the outside world through solid rock. With so many nooks and crannies within the cave, there were plenty of spaces to accommodate a growing family. Although there were many small entrances/exits to the cave, the largest and most easily noticeable entrance was flooded for several hours a day during high tide along with a good portion of the cave’s internal space. This flooding feature, along with being out in the middle of nowhere kept the Bean family’s cave home and overall activities a secret from society for over 25 years.
East Lothian Scotland
Sawney’s Cave
  • So here we are, a young couple ran away from their families, one a trade-less and skill-less poor man, the other a witch. They now had a home, but no source of income. So Sawney got to work robbing and mugging people who traveled the nearest road, a very rural area secluded from any sign of civilization besides this road, it was a great spot for such a crime. But when Sawney went into town for supplies he realized that he could be recognized by one of his victims.
    • So he decided to just kill them instead. Problem solved, no one to recognize him when he went into town… but wait, there is a more efficient way to do this. Instead of robbing people for money to then buy food in town, why not keep their corpses for food. It kills two birds with one stone. Killing them keeps them from recognizing him when he goes into town all the time for food AND puts a good source of protein on the table for the misses!
      • This is the cold calculating thought process of a psychopath who’s sin of choice is sloth… laziness.
    • All that long pig meat on the table must have kept the Beans healthy because it wasn’t long until the two started popping out kids like it was nobody’s business.
      • The term Long Pig refers to human flesh, specifically used for human consumption. It is a translation of a term formerly used in some Pacific islands for human flesh as food. And is a horrifying term to most people.
    • Sawney and Agnes produced six daughters, eight sons. These kids were all raised on long pig and therefore it was normal to them to murder and cannibalize people.
    • Then Sawney and Agnes had 14 granddaughters, and 18 grandsons. How wonderful, the family from hell is growing… Various grandchildren were products of incest between their children. All these new mouths to feed, the need to put food on the table increased as well.
    • Over the next couple of decades, more and more people would go missing on this narrow secluded road. It seemed that anyone who traveled on it would never be seen again. And so generations of Beans were now murdering and eating their fellow man. They got good at it.
    • The Bean family had become regular Gordon Ramsey’s of cannibalism. They refined their skills of salting and pickling human flesh for preservation’s sake. Jars of preserved human flesh were washing ashore in the area and people had no idea where they were coming from.
    • For over two decades the Bean family, led by Sawney and Agnes, had lived in their remote cave of horrors. They had literally lived off members of society without ever having to face the consequences of society… until…
  • Even with no evidence left behind, such a large list of missing persons from the same area is bound to be noticed. This is possibly the largest list of missing persons in history.
    • Huge search parties were eventually created to look for the missing people or even their murderers, but no one found a community, house, or camp… no one thought to look in the cave.
    • By now, the Bean family had almost 50 members and were taking out entire parties of travelers on the road. They would carefully ambush parties upwards of a dozen, kill them with precision, and take the corpses back to the cave where the women of the clan would prepare the bodies for feasts.

  • But the Bean clan’s idea of paradise couldn’t last forever. Even plans that have been layed out and executed without fail thousands of times can still go wrong. That is life, that is reality. Eventually, stuff goes awry.
    • One evening the Sawney Bean clan set out in their plans to execute the tried and true ambush tactic that by now had military-like precision. They spotted a man and his wife on horseback returning from a nearby fair.
    • One group of Beans set out to pull the wife off of her horse while the other set out for the man. The group that went out after the wife reached their target first. They pulled her from her horse, stripped her of her clothes, and quickly began to disembowel her. This all happened before the other group reached the man.
    • The husband turned back to see his wife being gutted like wild game after a hunt while she was still alive, but no hope of surviving. When the man saw a large group of these savages coming for him and his mount he fought with great desperation, plunging himself and his horse into the heart of the group trying to attack him. As he fought, a large group of citizens who were also leaving the nearby fair came across the grisly scene, there were about 20 of them.
    • The Bean clan was outnumbered for the first time. They decided to retreat. In a panic they had left the corpse of the woman behind as evidence… they had also left behind the grieving husband, and 20 or so witnesses.
    • The man who had recently become a widower went before the Chief Magistrate of Glasgow Scotland
      • I’ve been to Glasgow. It is a beautiful city and I highly recommend you check it out if you ever get the chance.
    • The Chief Magistrate was told the man’s tale, how his wife was attacked and gutted like an animal. Chief Magistrate connected this story with the longest missing person list in history and the washed-up pickle jars of human remains. He decided this went even higher than his station as Chief Magistrate and involved King James I.
    • When the King got involved it was clear that a solution would be found. King James I brought a small army of 400 men with some tracking dogs and local volunteers and proceeded to launch the largest manhunt that Ayrshire Scotland had ever seen.
      • The King was not messing around with an unknown number of inbred hillbilly cannibals attacking his people. When he found out the area that had been plagued by disappearances wasn’t the work of some ghost or apparition, but a real-life clan of murderers, he went to work.
  • At first, this massive search party found nothing. No community, no house, not even a camp to suggest someone inhabited the area. The Ayrshire countryside and coastline seemed to be empty of any human presence besides their own. This was the same result as past search parties had found. But this search party had the support of the King and his well-trained tracking dogs. One of the hounds caught the scent of all that blood and rotting flesh as it passed along the shoreline.
    • The hound leads the party to Bennane cave, the home of the Sawney Bean clan. They began to enter, swords at the ready and torches in hand to light the way. As they went along the mile-long cave tunnels the smell became strong enough for the men to notice… it was the stench of death.
  • The horrors that were witnessed within the cave were too much for most of the men to handle. Some fled in fear when they saw the hundreds of rows of human limbs hanging on the walls. More fled from the search party as they came upon human meat hanging from hooks like in a butcher shop.
    • As the party ventured further within the cave’s wet and putrid tunnels they saw nooks and crannies each with designated piles of clothing, watches, jewelry, and discarded bones.
    • Once they reached where the clan was lying in wait, the search party was fortunate enough to take the clan by surprise. There was a scuffle, but it did not last long. Without their carefully laid ambushes, the Sawney Bean clan couldn’t put up much of a fight.
    • All 48 of the clan were arrested and taken to the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, escorted by the King himself.
    • Scotland is known for its complicated, yet prestigious legal system separate from England’s legal system to this day… but the Sawney Bean Clan this legal system was discarded. Their crimes were too heinous and the entire clan was sentenced to death with swift punishment.
    • The very next day the men of the clan had their limbs cut and left to bleed out, the women were forced to watch. Then the women were burned as witches on giant burning pyres.

From Historic-UK.com:

“And so the ballad of Sawney Bean records their end:

They’ve hung them high in Edinburgh toon

An likewise a their kin

An the wind blaws cauld on a their banes

An tae hell they a hae gaen.*

Please note however that although the tale of Sawney Bean and his infamous family is recorded in several notable publications, factual documentation is lacking to validate the events.”

  • Now this is quite the story and an old one at that.
    • This whole story is based on an article written by an 18th-century tabloid called The Newgate Calendar.
    • There is debate as to the existence of Sawney Bean. Was he a real person or was he just a myth? He supposedly lived during the 1500s, yet he was first written about in the 1700s…
    • There are those who point out the close relation to Sawney Bean’s story to that of the Scottish tale of Sandy Bane, a murderer who liked to eat live cats. And Sawney Bean’s story resembling the tale of Christie Cleek, written in 1696 by Nathaniel Crouch under the pseudonym Richard Burton, set in the year 1459. Here is an exerpt.
      • “…about which time a certain thief who lived privately in a den, with his wife and children, were all burned alive, they having made it their practice for many years to kill young people and eat them; one girl only of a year old was saved, and brought up at Dundee, who at twelve years of age being found guilty of the same horrid crime, was condemned to the same punishment, and when the people followed her in great multitudes to execution, wondering at her unnatural villainy, she turned toward them, and with a cruel countenance said, “What do you thus rail at me, as if I had done such an heinous act, contrary to the nature of man? I tell you that if you did but know how pleasant the taste of man’s flesh was, none of you all would forbear to eat it;” and thus with an impenitent and stubborn mind she suffered deserved death”

  • Whether true, exaggerated truth, or pure myth, The legend of Sawney Bean has influenced more than just Wes Craven’s the Hills Have Eyes. The horror of Sawney Bean’s story has left a strong influence on today’s pop culture:
    • In the popular Japanese comic and cartoon series Attack on Titan, Hange Zoë recounts the tale of a cannibalistic clan to two captured Titans. They ended the tale by naming the two Titans “Sawney” and “Bean”.
      • Attack on Titan is a favorite anime series of mine.
    • The legend’s influence can also be seen in the movies RavenousWrong Turn and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
      • I remember Wrong Turn. That movie scared my little-boy self. It is the Story of a group of friends traveling through West Virginia and coming across a clan of inbred cannibal hill billies. So creepy
    • In the Image comics series Hack/Slash, the main character Vlad (a.k.a. “The Meatman Killer”) is eventually revealed to be a descendant of Sawney Bean.
    • The film Judge Dredd (1995) introduces the Angel Gang, a family of cannibalistic scavenging cave dwellers
      • I do remember Sylvester Stallone playing Judge Dredd and being held captive by cave-dwelling cannibals
    • The Rockstar-developed video game Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018) contains a family of savage and barbaric cave dwellers
      • Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of my favorite games. I do remember clearing out this cave of cannibals… so much fun

WOW, what a story. Horrifying. And let us say it was all a tall tale, or exaggerated… Human history is mostly unknown to us. I’m sure there was a similar story lost to history where such a thing DID happen.

THANKS FOR LISTENIGN WHO’D A THUNKERS

Until next time 🙂

CREDIT: