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Episode 126 - Strangeness Set in Stone: Mysterious Statues

Squaring the Strange

Release Date: 07/24/2020

Episode 146 - 666, the Number / Mark of the Beast show art Episode 146 - 666, the Number / Mark of the Beast

Squaring the Strange

Ben looks into a TikTok panic about abductions in Target stores, then we discuss the Mark of the Beast and the Number of the Beast. From ambiguous or invisible marks on accused witches to ways our technology "marks" our commerce, the fears of some 666-fearing individuals have been going on a while. Masks and the Covid-19 vaccine are merely the latest things to be labelled as such. Pascual rounds us out with Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast" and how various bands used 666 as Satanic showmanship.

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Episode 145 - Bottomless Pits and Spooky Geology with Sharon Hill show art Episode 145 - Bottomless Pits and Spooky Geology with Sharon Hill

Squaring the Strange

First we chat about Lil Nas X's "satanic shoes" and some litigation against a Las Vegas alkaline water company. Then geologist, author, and all-around critical thinker Sharon Hill joins us to talk bottomless holes and the monsters that dwell in them! She brings all sorts of spooky geology, from boreholes to quicksand to the idea of a hollow earth.

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Episode 144 - Prof. Jeannie Banks Thomas and the SLAP test show art Episode 144 - Prof. Jeannie Banks Thomas and the SLAP test

Squaring the Strange

We begin with news of a "cursed" guitar. Then folklorist Prof. Jeannie Banks Thomas joins us to talk about her "SLAP" test for questionable online content. It might save you a bunch of embarrassment, as well as help make social media a bit more factual. SLAP stands for scare, logistics, A-listers, and prejudice, four elements that are big red flags for folklorists in identifying rumors and legends. We end with a discussion of the strangeness that surrounds Denver International Airport.

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Episode 143 - Merfolklore, Merfact, and Merfiction show art Episode 143 - Merfolklore, Merfact, and Merfiction

Squaring the Strange

This episode we talk all manner of things mer . . . mermen, mermaids, merb'ys, and many more. People love conjuring up creatures that are half human, and merfolk top the list. Whether helpful creatures, rhyming blue men, or bloodthirsty temptresses, merfolk have been cast in many tales. We learn the connection between Ariel and an unrequited bisexual love from the 19th century, and we look at "real" mermaids from "The Body Found" (Discovery Channel, 2011) to "the body gaffed" (P. T. Barnum, 1842).

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Episode 142 - Crankery and Notable Cranks show art Episode 142 - Crankery and Notable Cranks

Squaring the Strange

Ben, Celestia, and Pascual help define what makes a crank a crank, and we look into the history of this concept. Then we bring a couple of examples we think illustrate textbook cranks and why they aren't just laughable, they can do some real harm. From selling spiritual self-help books and snake oil to trying to legislate a wrong value for Pi, cranks have a long and storied history in America.

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Episode 141 - The Crying Boy Curse, with David Clarke show art Episode 141 - The Crying Boy Curse, with David Clarke

Squaring the Strange

We are joined by folklorist and author David Clarke, who traces the legend of the Crying Boy curse, a curious story surrounding prints of several paintings that featured big-eyed crying children. These popular prints were blamed for fires in the UK during the 1980s, and tales sprung up of orphaned street urchins with mysterious powers to start fires. The roots of the tale involve a confluence of journalistic eagerness, firefighter observations, material science, and good old-fashioned odds.

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Episode 140 - Steve Kulls and the Georgia Bigfoot Body Hoax show art Episode 140 - Steve Kulls and the Georgia Bigfoot Body Hoax

Squaring the Strange

After thoughts on the inauguration and future of our science agencies and news landscape, we talk to Steve Kulls of SquatchDetective.com. Ben met Steve years ago and recognized that, in a field rife with hoaxes and a low bar for evidence, he was a great example of proper investigation techniques. Steve shares with us his tenets of research and discusses his role in uncovering the Georgia Bigfoot body hoax of 2008--a tale involving a cast of characters involved in secrecy, corruption and avoiding the FBI.

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Episode 139 - 2020 Hindsight! show art Episode 139 - 2020 Hindsight!

Squaring the Strange

Yay, 2020 is over! This bonus episode is a casual, nonscripted, barely outlined roundtable with Ben, Celestia, and Pascual as we go through how this year affected us both personally and in terms of skeptical outreach. Then we chat about our favorite episodes. We shall return to our normal squaring of strange topics next week!

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Episode 138 - Insurrection Wednesday and an Antivax Primer show art Episode 138 - Insurrection Wednesday and an Antivax Primer

Squaring the Strange

We recorded a special opener to discuss the late-breaking, Capitol-invading events of the past 36 hours and the role misinformation played in getting thousands of people to this point. Then for our main topic, we go through a brief history of antivax sentiment in the US and the dual nature of Covid vaccine hesitancy.

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Episode 137 - Musical Legend Grab Bag show art Episode 137 - Musical Legend Grab Bag

Squaring the Strange

First, Celestia recounts some spooky incidents she's experienced during the pandemic. Then we look at a handful of music-related strangeness. Ben brings some surprising facts about the Pied Piper of Hamelin, which appears to have threads of history woven into its folklore tapestry. We discuss Satanic rumors that surrounded guitarist Robert Johnson, and look into a studio scream that launched many lurid tales. To end, we take a quick tour of pop culture origins for the scatological-sounding "brown note."

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More Episodes

With statues being front and center in the news earlier this month, we decided to take a few tours of the stranger side of statues. From graveyard statues that take strolls when you're not looking to spooky statues that allegedly can't be photographed. Myths involving statues coming to life, or live people being turned to stone, is a rich vein of folklore that reaches forward even to our most recent pop culture. Ben recounts some cases he personally investigated of miraculous "weeping" statues, and then we cover statues as guerilla art pieces that appear mysteriously overnight as publicity stunts and political statements.