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Episode 72 - Ghost Trains

Squaring the Strange

Release Date: 08/24/2018

Episode 193 - Coke + Folklore = Cokelore! show art Episode 193 - Coke + Folklore = Cokelore!

Squaring the Strange

It turns out the all-American fizzy sweet cola is also a veritable cornucopia of myths, rumors, urban legends and misinformation. We're not just talking about the explosive properties of Pop Rocks or Mentos. Can a Coca-Cola douche prevent pregnancy? (It can't, please don't even think about it). How many mice ended up sealed into bottles of Coke? Does Santa owe his whole look to Coke's ad agency? We go over these and many, many more tales involving the most popular carbonated beverage in the world.

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Episode 192 - Romance Scams with Wendy Hughes show art Episode 192 - Romance Scams with Wendy Hughes

Squaring the Strange

We discuss a surprise paleoanthropological development from the past week and weigh some falsehoods coming from a new member of Congress. Then for our main topic we do an overview of romance scams, from the Spanish Prisoner Swindle a few centuries ago to the online catfishing scams that are presently fleecing Americans to the tune of $500 million a year. Longtime grassroots skeptic volunteer Wendy Hughes kindly joins us to discuss her courageous and candid article "A Skeptic Trips Over a Romance Scam" and talks about what she learned in hindsight and how her skeptical toolkit helped her turn a...

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Episode 191 - Predictions, Mistakes and Films show art Episode 191 - Predictions, Mistakes and Films

Squaring the Strange

As we wrap up another year, we make a few predictions for 2023 and then answer some listener questions on what has fooled us in the past. Then for our main segment we dish on films that were right up our strange and skeptical alley. There was some brilliant folklore-inspired work involving Djinn and a puppet come to life, as well as some fantastic documentaries -- and also some absurd stuff disguised as documentaries, like Netflix's recent "Ancient Apocalypse."

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Episode 190 - Vile Vans and Sinister Sedans: Vehicular Vernacular in Folklore show art Episode 190 - Vile Vans and Sinister Sedans: Vehicular Vernacular in Folklore

Squaring the Strange

Ben titled this episode. In which we speak of all the reasons why you should think twice about renting a monochrome, windowless van in unfamiliar territory. From cursed vehicles to the average person's psychological priming that led police off the trail of the Beltway Sniper case, we look at the role vehicles have played in urban legends, dangerous rumors and real-life crime. How have the most common vehicles in our environment also become the most feared? Buckle up!

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Episode 189 - Episode 189 - "AI Cryptid" Loab and Lesser-known Lake Monsters

Squaring the Strange

First Pascual and Celestia examine a mysterious woman "haunting" AI art, dubbed "Loab." Then we dip into a selection of the less famous lake monsters. There are literally hundreds. We talk about how they've spawned from either high-profile sightings/photos or questionable “news” stories from the period of yellow journalism. And even how some people have claimed copyright over a few of them for merchandising purposes! From Champ’s cousin George (who lives, predictably, in Lake George) and Tahoe Tessie to Lake Erie Larry and the Canadian monsters Cressie and Memphre, we'll go over...

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Episode 188 - Reading between the Ley Lines show art Episode 188 - Reading between the Ley Lines

Squaring the Strange

Ben has returned from adventures, so we hear about some of his travels and then discuss the Twitter blue checkmark brouhaha. In our main segment we look at Ley Lines, a literal game of connect-the-dots played on the surface of the earth. Somehow these evolved from simple common routes noticed by an early 20th-century landscape photographer to a catch-all mysterious network that affects dowsing, psychic energy, nodes, vortices and crop circles. Called holy lines by Nazis and dragon lines by writers inserting them into ancient Chinese culture, these supposed energy lines are slippery to pin...

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Episode 187 - The Curious Case of Dr. Melba Ketchum's Bigfoot DNA, with guest Sharon Hill show art Episode 187 - The Curious Case of Dr. Melba Ketchum's Bigfoot DNA, with guest Sharon Hill

Squaring the Strange

This week, after we take a moment to tally exactly how many kids were killed by rainbow fentanyl passed off as Halloween candy, we bring Sharon Hill on to speak about the excitement around a decade ago when Dr. Melba Ketchum announced she had tested and confirmed Bigfoot DNA. Ben sets the stage in terms of Bigfoot evidence timeline and the rise of genetic technology. Once a vacuum became apparent, it seemed inevitable that someone would eventually become a self-taught geneticist, open an unaccredited lab, and find some genetic evidence for our big hairy friend.

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Episode 186 - Our Scary Favorites show art Episode 186 - Our Scary Favorites

Squaring the Strange

First, Pascual and Celestia puzzle over Ben's location and discuss a few places in Vegas that skeptics might like to see while they attend CSI Con. Then we celebrate the nearly $1 billion judgment against Alex Jones and look into a minor (non)mystery about a ghost boat from WWII appearing in a California lake. Our main topic this week is a look back at our favorite scary episodes, and why they creep us out.

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Episode 185: Dr. Stan Stepanic on Vampires show art Episode 185: Dr. Stan Stepanic on Vampires

Squaring the Strange

First we get sucked down a bit of a rabbit hole on all the things we never knew about crystal flutes. Then vampire expert Dr. Stanley Stepanic joins us to talk Slavic folklore, rabies and other diseases, shape-shifting, religious clashes in Eastern Europe during the early centuries of Christianity, and how all monster roads seem to lead back to vampires. Stepanic covers a lot of ground, all the way through movies and present-day vampire ostension (oh yes, Vampire: The Masquerade comes up). Grab yourself a tall bloody Mary and strap in, it's quite a crash course!

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Episode 184 - Djinnception and Pirates! show art Episode 184 - Djinnception and Pirates!

Squaring the Strange

First Celestia gushes about "3,000 Years of Longing," starring Idris Elba as a sultry Djinn. Then Ben talks to us about the pirate life, which had a lot more worms than one might expect. What's the difference between a privateer and a buccaneer? Or a sloop and a four-masted mariner? We go into daily activities, reasons people ended up on pirate ships, and of course how pirates typically met their end. Then we spotlight a few female pirates and talk about Blackbeard, who had the greatest PR team on the high seas.

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More Episodes

This week we start with a discussion of Spike Lee's Black Klansman movie and the notion of holding narrative movies "based on" real events to some imagined standard of full accuracy. Then all aboard for the ghost train express! Ben and Celestia discuss the lure of the locomotive (and train wrecks) in the American imagination, the flickering lights said to be distant spiritual echoes of trains, and the dangers of ghost-trainspotting on elevated trestles. Ben looks into fabled "virtual underground" trains in Russia that have sprung up as folkloric pranks. We go over the legend of Abraham Lincoln's phantom funeral train, and Ben recounts a faked ghost train video he was tasked with examining.