Far-flung Farcical Fallacies – WIF Superstitions

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 Strangest Superstitions

From Around

the World

superstition is essentially anything you believe with no actual good reason to believe it. It is the opposite of science and logic and, in fact, science and logic will tear it apart. So you ignore the science and logic because maybe one day you wore blue socks and got a raise at work, so now you believe wholeheartedly that your blue socks are lucky and make you money.

Historically, whole cultures have come to adopt some of these superstitions as legit beliefs and fears based on coincidence, anecdotal evidence and maybe just a fervent hope that the world has some more mystery in it than we can see. Here are some of the weirdest of the bunch.

10. Opposing Mirrors Welcome the Devil

Having a mirror facing another mirror is a cool effect and the reason the hall of mirrors in a funhouse is in a place called a “funhouse” to begin with. It messes with your head, creates an endless hallway of fun, and also provides an effect used in far too many horror and action movies to even begin to count.

But apparently none of those were filmed in Mexico because you do not want to have one mirror face another mirror there. According to Mexican superstition, when a mirror faces another mirror you’re inviting the devil in by creating a threshold of doorway for him to enter your world. Maybe all of those horror movies with mirrors in them were on to something after all.

9. Filipino Pagpag

Pagpag is a fun word if you don’t know what it means, but in practice it’s a little grim. From a Filipino superstition relating to funerals, pagpag is what you might call the safety procedure you need to engage in before going home after a funeral or wake. Once you’ve left the somber affair, you go to a restaurant or a mall or wherever. Anywhere but home. You don’t even need to do anything at this place, you just need to be there.

Why? The bad energy and negative spirits you picked up at the funeral will follow you to the mall instead of your house. Does that mean that Filipino malls are all haunted? We can only assume.

8. Don’t Whistle Indoors in Lithuania

Whistling is a good way to call your dog or pass the time if you and your six dwarf buddies are in the mines pulling out gems. It is not, however, anything you want to do when you visit Lithuania, at least not in anyone’s house. Etiquette in Lithuania is fairly conservative and even making eye contact with strangers is the sort of thing that is frowned upon, to give you an idea of how things go there.

But kicking it up a notch is the belief that whistling indoors will not only summon your dog, it will attract the attention of little devils as well. That’s not a metaphor or a euphemism, either. It’s just the genuine belief that demons of small stature might invade your home after being beckoned with a simple whistle.

7. Never Toast with Water

Everyone likes a good toast at a wedding or some dinner party that takes place in the middle of a movie, but there is some etiquette regarding how to best pull this tradition off. For instance, you better be making your toast with anything but water lest the Ancient Greeks start spinning in their graves.

According to superstition, the dead would drink from the River Lethe in Hades and that water would wash away all their ties to the mortal world. Drinking a toast with water in the living world was therefore akin to cursing someone to death or, at the very least, cursing yourself to it. How that was different from just having anon-toasted drink of water was probably up for debate, but typically a toast is meant as some kind of a blessing, so it would be a backhanded curse to use the beverage of the damned for it.

6. Upside Down Bread Invites Death

Have you ever heard that toast will always fall butter-side down? It’s not a superstition, just an unfortunate and sometimes true observation that can ruin your breakfast. But if we were in France that toast would potentially be some seriously bad luck because how you situate your bread holds some extra meaning there. Bread or baguettes left upside are believed to invite death.

Why’s that? Well, some folks think it comes from executioners having the right to snag something for free from a shop if they grabbed it with one hand, and bakers leaving loaves upside for them so other shoppers would know not to take it. Nowadays, if you leave a loaf upside down, you’re inviting death to come and take from you and who wants that?

5. Lucky Poop

You’ve probably never felt entirely lucky to step in dog poop if it’s ever happened to you but maybe you should have. Word is the French have divided stepping in dog poop into two separate scenarios that you can experience based on a very weird superstition. If you happen to land your right foot into some dog plop you’re doomed to a life of dismal awfulness. However, if your left foot hits the pile well, then call your friends and family because good luck is a-comin’!

Russia is the source of a similar superstition you may have heard about birds. In this one, it’s considered good luck if a bird poops on your or something you own. Why would that be lucky? Well, the odds of getting hit by bird pop seem to be slim so by some definitions of the word lucky, you really are lucky if you get pooped on by a bird. An alternate theory is that it’s incredibly unlucky to get pooped on or to step on it and these superstitions are at least a small way to try to ameliorate the grossness by suggesting something good will come from it.

4. Outdoor Knitting Prolongs the Winter

In North America we all routinely engage in the very odd yet annual superstition that a groundhog has the ability to determine whether or not winter’s going to last an additional six weeks or not. Why? No one bothers to ask anymore but it stems from an old Pennsylvania Dutch belief that the groundhog seeing its shadow would lead to prolonged winter, itself borrowed from a similar German belief about badgers which in turn may have come from the belief that clear weather on Candelmas means an extended winter.

Regardless of why we believe what we believe about meteorological rodents,  it spawned a really entertaining Bill Murray movie so we go with it. And that’s not the only superstition about winter overstaying its welcome in the world by a long shot. According to an Icelandic superstition, if you decide to sit on your doorstep and do some knitting in the winter, you’ve just prolonged that terrible season. Hopefully the afghan you made was extra warm.

3. Yo-Yos Lead to Droughts

Most superstitions have an aspect of history to them, they’re ancient and relics of a bygone era. You can almost understand them insofar as they’re so old you can’t blame the worlds that created them because they didn’t know the science that explained so much of the world. If people thought black cats were unlucky then oh well, so be it. But what about a superstition about yo-yos? How do you account for that? According to a 1933 article, Syria outlawed yo-yos because there was a severe drought at the time killing cattle and crops. And while everyone was praying for rain to fall from the heavens and save the day, the yo-yos of the world were going down just like rain, but then being all deceitful as they flew right back up again. The leaders at the time decided this evil influence was to blame and yo-yos were banished. Police were even told to confiscate them on site.

The Onion didn’t exist in 1933 and the paper, the Barrier Miner from New South Wales in Australia, seemed like it was on the up and up. So while the story is absurd, is it any more absurd than thinking a broken mirror brings 7 years of bad luck?

2. The Hairy Goat Curse

If you’re of the carnivorous persuasion and have never eaten goat you should really give it a try, it’s quite tasty. That said, this was not something you could have recommended to women of the past in Rwanda thanks to an insidious superstition there about goat meat. According to the story, back in the day it was very taboo for a woman to dare eat the meat of a goat for fear she might take on that most unladylike of goaty characteristics, a full on beard. They’d also take on the goat’s habit of being stubborn. So a beard and a bad attitude which, you can imagine, no woman would ever want.

Where does this belief come from? This may be nothing more than speculation but, with women unable to eat the meat, it meant that only men were enjoying it. And that does seem like a good way to be greedy and hoard all the delicious goat for yourself if you can convince everyone else it’ll cause them to grow beards.

1. Never Speak the Name of Carlos Menem

Have you ever heard of Carlos Menem? From 1989 to 1999, Menem was the President of Argentina and his legacy is a nearly Hitchcockian level of menace and bad luck. People will refuse to even say the man’s name for fear it may bring about another round of misfortune as though he were the Candyman or Voldemort.

Argentina endured an economic crisis in 2001 for which Menem, though he had been out of office for two years, is often blamed. But that’s at least a “normal” explanation for why people might dislike Menem. His legacy goes far beyond poor financial planning.

When Menem became President, two of his appointed ministers died early deaths. Had Menem cursed them? Well, apparently. And he was just getting warmed up.

In 1990, Menem patted a soccer player’s knee. He later broke that knee. Menem jinxed tennis players, race car drivers, famous dancers and singers, and even a boat racer who shook Menem’s hand and then lost his damn arm in a boat crash.  Some people even blamed him for an earthquake. And it wasn’t just others. Menem cursed himself, suffering a failed marriage and the untimely death of his own son. No one seemed safe from the man.

Thanks to the never ending stream of nightmarish coincidences and misfortune Menem became the embodiment of all that is unwanted and sinister in life. To invoke his name was to ask for bad times. So people don’t do it.


Far-flung Farcical Fallacies

WIF Superstitions

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #332

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #332

Chapter Twenty

CLOSURE

…From the desk of Gwendolyn Kim Hoff…

closure-001

A personal guide: to deciphering the fact and fiction behind THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A BLACK SOUTHERN DOCTOR; genre of Historical Fiction.

          Well readers, here we find ourselves, at the end of a book that may have:

  1. Surprisedmixed-emotions-001
  2.  Dismayed
  3. Confused
  4. Confounded
  5. Conflicted

Not on the list, ‘6.. Pleased’ is my wish, but there is quite a twist from where you thought things were headed. Was not A.O. Campbell tried and convicted, in a court of law, of the things we read of in Chapter One? In real life, sadly he was, pretty much the way ALPHA AND OMEGA was laid out.

I myself met the granddaughter of the doctor, in the 1990’s. She found out that I was writer and as many of us who set words to page are told, ‘I have a great story that needs to be told.’  I happened to be between projects and thus began a journey that has led me to this point.

In my files are pictures, articles and memorabilia from the life of this Southern Black Doctor. Legendary is the word that can describe what I have accumulated, in fact strewn around my office at this moment. So much of what I have written is flat-out true; real people, places and things littered from 1896 to 1955. In fact, had I been true to the facts, we would have continued on from Chapter One to 1959.

arrow-down But, and it is a big BUT, as I came to Chapter Eighteen, LOOKING DOWN, I knew I arrow-upcould not bring myself to play it out the way it really did. I began to plot an amended beginning, which morphed into the last chapter, TRIALS AND TRIUMPH. All along, #19 was going to be about the trial, of which I have the majority of the original transcript here as well. 

Depressing, is the only way I can portray the trial of a 67 year old. Did he do wrong things, sure, but he was of ill health and did not deserve the ending that ultimately came to pass. And yes, his wife really did die 1 1/2 years into his incarceration.

What actually did happen during that sad time? I don’t have anything to go on and that is where ‘historical fiction’ comes to bear; the word fiction, look it up. Creation, vision, fable, fantasy, tale are all used as synonyms. I prefer the latter. LATOBSD is a tale of epic dimension.

LATOBSD covers roughly 60 years, more than enough trips around the sun to both meet and say goodbye to too many fine people; From the spring of youth, to the winter of maturity – from the dawn of unrighteousness, to the sunset of discontentment.

In the interest of accuracy, I will sort through the most flagrant fracturing of history perpetrated by little ol’ me. Remember “The Rocky and Bullwinkle” feature: Fractured Fairytales? If you are too young… click on the FFTales picture or get over it.

So… here we go, hop-scotching from through the pages of The Life and Times of a Black Southern Doctor, sifting from front to back. Feel free to leaf back to the earlier pages, to refresh your memory. And I will try not to rush.

If you want to leave well enough alone and believe that all things I penned are true, thank you investing your time  to read LATOBSD… a real roller coaster ride…

Tune in tomorrow


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode #332


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #265

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #265

…He still don’t deserve what he’s got, his damned wife inherited all that land from that Ferrell wack-o…

Hate-001

“You are not going to loan money to that quack Campbell!” demands Charles Wilson, a board member of Lewis Maggie Lou-001State Bank, of George Lewis. “Tallahassee don’t need no hospital for niggers!”

George Lewis has been approached by Doctor Campbell, with ambitious plans for a two-story structure to be built next to the doctor’s home on Virginia Street. It is hard for Lewis to deny anything that has to do with Maggie Campbell, considering that he is the father of her second daughter, Laura. But no one else knows this, especially his contemporaries in the Tallahassee business community.

“He will find a way to build it, whether it’s my bank or not. The man has connections, Charlie.”

 “You mean our spineless Governor? We haven’t had a two-termer in Florida, yet. Holland won’t be the first, I’ll see to that.”

“What have you against Holland? Didn’t he help you buy some state land a while back?”

“He’ll regret makin’ friends with Negroes.” Wilson is adamant. “That quack doctor is one of ‘em.”

 “I would give it up, if I were you, Charlie. He didn’t do anything to your sister. She was five bricks short of a chimney before she took sick.” George Lewis is doing his best to talk some sense into his friend.

He still don’t deserve what he’s got. His damned wife inherited all that land from that Ferrell wack-o…nothing to do with him. He ain’t done shit.”

“If that were the case, wouldn’t James Ferrell feel the same way you do, maybe worse? It was his inheritance that Maggie Lou Campbell got. Instead, he is the doctor’s greatest ally.”

  Please do not use facts to confuse a polluted mind. “Fine. I can hold him off for a while, but my rejecting his loan application is losing steam with each passing year. Right now I can say they don’t have enough cash for a down payment, but all they would have to do is sell some property to solve that.”

“You better have McLoud make sure they don’t get any smart ideas.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

jealousy-ian-smith

Jealousy by Ian Smith

Episode #265


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #201

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #201

Chapter Eleven

BALANCE OF POWER

…Can’t we say that John Ferrell wasn’t of sound mind when he did this…

“You’re the lawyer in the family James! Can he do something like this?” Martha Ferrell Ferrell will-001has gotten over the shock of her husband’s untimely demise, turning her attention instead to his last will and testament. For her, it is a mystery novel, a work of fiction fraught with plot twists and turns, and a bitterly cruel ending.

“He did,” her son says flatly.

  “Can’t we say that he wasn’t of sound mind when he did this? Look at the crazy thing he did, going to Scotland in the middle of the goddamned war!” There is a lot of that G-D thing going around.

“Mother…  taking the Lord’s name in vain will not change anything. When she turns 21, Maggie Lou “Ferrell”, he clears his throat, “will officially own over 100 acres of Tallahassee.”

“People are calling him a hero, Mother. Cousin Matthew tells us they are thinking about naming a new huge rail-bridge after him.” Agnes is proud of her father, void of the tangible acridity.

“James Barrie can rot in a bog for all I care. He is the one who whined his way into making John feel guilty. ‘Our people are starving’, ‘we have no petrol for our motorcars’. Huh! I for one am glad he could not make the funeral… some silly play about a handmaid called Cinderella.”

Image result for a kiss for cinderella gif“When the war is over, he is going to bring A Kiss for Cinderella to the United States. I told him that I would find a theater for him. He even said I could be an “understudy”, he called it. If Cinderella falls ill, I could be the lead actress.”

“How silly would that be? You could make two of her I’m sure, but yes if Cinderella is single, you would be perfect for the part, 34 and without a man.” Martha’s dour mood turns vicious.

“Cyril (Odz) has been talking about the future quite a lot lately, I’ll have you know. Then you will be all alone, does that make you happy?”

“That is enough bickering!” A lawyer hears his fill of petty wrangling on a daily basis. “Maggie legally owns the land and that is the bottom line, though I wonder how he was able to keep the property a secret for all these years.”

“He was very good at secrets, wasn’t he? A black girl owning half of town,” She cannot let it go.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #201


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #193

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #193

…Martha Ferrell is letting her true feelings surface for the first time…

Preparing For Thanksgiving by Doris Lee

John ponders Scotish aid.

‘I wonder if he wants to go see where his family has its roots.’ She knows John is eager, knee-deep in his new project, but a look that would stop a charging bull in its tracks, halts his notion there and then. ‘No, I suppose he has better things to do… busy, busy, busy, always something,’

 Thanksgiving is the next day.

“And please do not spoil Thanksgiving dinner with too much talk of Scotland. It will be difficult enough dealing with the extra guests.” She is in the kitchen, preparing to prepare enough food to feed the Third Scottish Regiment, with Agnes’ help… as soon as she wakes up.

“Ziggy is old and alone.” John insists.

“He is not the problem. Neither is his friend, Doctor Alpha. It is who will be with them.”

Truth-001“Laura Bell and Maggie – I thought we buried that resentment years ago?”

“We buried? No, I have learned to forgive your adultery, but I may never understand your complete devotion to that child, I mean we could have paid Laura off and sent them away. Instead, they live across the lake and you spend as much time with them as you do me.”Martha is letting her true feelings surface for the first time.

There is the welcome sound of footsteps coming down from upstairs, much to John’s relief. “Agnes, darling, you’re up early, good, your mother needs help peeling the vegetables, I am going to stoke the stove. Let’s make this the best Thanksgiving ever!”John heads for the woodshed for enough fuel to cook six separate dishes and a 25 pound turkey.

“Daddy is unusually lively this morning, Mother. Did we put too much starch in his underwear again?”

“I will let him tell you himself, but suffice it to say he has a new project to work on, something to do with the war in Europe.”

“How exciting! Do you think I could help?” Agnes could use a little spice in her life as well.

“No, I mean yes, no I mean maybe.” It is hard for her to be clear, without appearing to oppose the one man whom Agnes overtly adores. “We will discuss this after dinner, when the guests leave.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Mimi & Eunice by Nina Paley

Episode #193


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #73

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #73

…”Young lady, people, no matter what color,” Martha Asserts, “are not meant to be property of a fellow human being – period, and end of subject”…

Abigail-001

Back to the real world. Abigail and James manage to maintain a several-step-stagger for their stairway decent, for appearance sake at least, that they may not have been spending quality time exploring bodily nooks & crannies.

Introductions are made, though one is not needed. Herb Love is her rescuer, warmly received – kind of a stabilizing influence.

Rescue-001 Willy Campbell is another story. She is startled to see him. He immediately reverts to his subservient roots, dropping his head to avoid eye contact.

And she is bright enough to make the connection between her late father’s former slave and Herbert Love; awful recollections, previously buried beneath tons of denial. The destruction of Fort Sumter South, flood back to the present.

‘The Campbells is gone!’ are the cries she remembers hearing that fateful day, more than a year hence.

“You killed my father!” is Abbey’s cry now. “You killed my father and destroyed our lives.”

“I weren’t there, Miss Abigail, I swear!” Willy scrambles to explain.

  “Yes, I believe you are correct, Willy Campbell. You were not there and because Justice2-001you were not, the rest of our people revolted against us and burned and pillaged and killed every white man they could lay their hands on… including my own Father. Why, why… why!!!???,” she asks futilely as she beats her small hands against the chest of the obviously dismayed black man.

Herbert Love steps to Willy’s defense, pulling the distraught girl away. She is detached from reason, to the point of not responding to even her dear James’s loving touch.

“You are all in this together, aren’t you. It makes sense to me now!” Her alleged co-conspirators are guilty of nothing, excepting a deep-seated dislike of the “business as usual” in the south that they treasure. “You just happened to be passing by that day? I think not, sir. I remember seeing every one of you, just like it were yesterday!”

“We did not intend for any harm to come to your father. There was no way to know what effect the freeing of the Campbells would have on others,” Love appraises. He is not in the business of apologetics.

You had no right stealing our property!” she furthers.

“Young lady,” Martha sternly asserts, “people, no matter what color, are not meant to be property of a fellow human being – period, and end of subject.”

“You have slaves, Joseph and his helpers.” Abbey tries to make a weak connection.

“Wrong, wrong, wrong! Joseph is a paid foreman and is free to leave if he no longer likes his job or position.” Martha is fighting the girl’s preconceived notions. “Take Olla, for instance. She left out our house for different situation. She did not even bother properly explaining why she wanted to leave, but that is not the point. The point is, is that she wanted to leave, free to keep her money, in her name at the Lewis State Bank as a matter of fact

… Free is the key word. Were the Campbells or any of the others, free to leave? … I will answer for you in your mute ignorance. NO! If you would take the time, look at things long and hard you might get a clue as to why you are clinging to archaic belief system.”

Abigail Smythwick-Ferrell shrinks in the face of Martha’s human rights passion. She falls to the floor in a heap, like her legs had suddenly turned to gelatin. The shock of recurring lost memories has sapped her strength. James rushes to her side, cradling Abbey’s head, stroking her long, light brown hair.

Martha Ferrell retrieves smelling salts from her handbag, opening the tiny jar and waving it in front of the young woman’s nose. Ammonia inhalants, along with subconscious realization cause her to stir, to the great relief of all.

Sometimes pain must precede progress.


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode #73


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