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Episode 107 - Crystal Skullduggery

Squaring the Strange

Release Date: 11/29/2019

Episode 111 - The Mothman show art Episode 111 - The Mothman

Squaring the Strange

Ben recounts his investigation into the Mothman, first spotted in the 1960s in West Virginia. We discuss his trip there to research the creature for a German TV show. Like many cryptids, Mothman has gone through several incarnations, from men-in-black conspiracies to Native American curses. And what do Point Pleasant residents think of their hometown monster, who brings with him a museum and annual festival? From its glowing red eyes to its comic book abs and grey wings, we examine what makes Mothman tick.

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Episode 110 - The Head Show show art Episode 110 - The Head Show

Squaring the Strange

This is a long one, and be advised that this episode contains some grisly details. Ben and Celestia go on a sometimes quirky, sometimes bone-shivering tour of heads (or lack thereof). We have headless or multi-headed creatures in folklore, conjoined twinning, Miracle Mike the headless chicken, experiments on heads fresh from the guillotine, the Frozen head of Walt Disney, and shrunken heads. No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of heads.

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Penis Castles, Teletubby Purses, and Suicidal Larpers show art Penis Castles, Teletubby Purses, and Suicidal Larpers

Squaring the Strange

We are joined by Erik Kristopher Myers to discuss a particular sort of easter egg: "hidden subversive elements" hidden in kids' entertainment, by a perverse animator or some sinister coalition bent on corrupting kids. There is a cottage industry of hiding filth in Disney cartoons--whether real, imagined, or hoaxed. And rumored dangers in D&D both plagued and popularized the once-obscure RPG. From pareidolia to pranks to the people who wring hands over such dangers, we break down some memorable legends.

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Episode 108 - Dangers and Consequences of Ghost Hunting show art Episode 108 - Dangers and Consequences of Ghost Hunting

Squaring the Strange

We are joined by Kenny Biddle, east coast paranormal investigator and skeptic, to discuss the darker side of ghost hunting. Not a demonic dark side, but real-world consequences. Things like trespassing dangers, costs to historical sites, loss of life and limb, and the mangling of personal histories and reputations. Ben and Kenny bring examples from their previous investigations, and Kenny shares some info he dug up on the "witch" behind the Conjuring house hauntings, from the Ed and Lorraine Warrenverse.

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Episode 107 - Crystal Skullduggery show art Episode 107 - Crystal Skullduggery

Squaring the Strange

Fresh from a caricature convention, heads full of pareidolia, Ben and Celestia discuss a few recent things and then dig into crystal skulls. Can we trust what Dan Ayrkroyd tells us on his vodka bottle? Are there really 13 of these ancient and powerful relics? What is the Skull of Doom, and does it baffle scientists? These skulls provide a fascinating look into rewritten histories and the power of priming. We even look at a lawsuit against Steven Spielberg involving Indiana Jones' cinematic crystal skulls.

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Episode 106 - Leo Igwe on Modern Witchcraft Accusations show art Episode 106 - Leo Igwe on Modern Witchcraft Accusations

Squaring the Strange

Dr. Leo Igwe joins us to discuss the dangers posed by so-called "witch hunters" in Africa today: from the entrenched nature of magical beliefs to the complicated power structure that props up those who accuse others of witchcraft. Islam and Christianity now mix with traditional beliefs; witch hunters are often pastors or church leaders. Victims are typically the elderly, disabled, or children. Dr. Igwe also talks of the challenges of getting the message to international agencies such as the UN.  

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Episode 105 - Pop Culture and Music in the Shadow of the Satanic Panic show art Episode 105 - Pop Culture and Music in the Shadow of the Satanic Panic

Squaring the Strange

The Satanic Panic is rife with skeptical angles, and for this episode we limit ourselves to a look back at the cultural feel of the 80s and early 90s and some seminal court cases that brought musicians to court to defend their craft. Along the way we reminisce about D&D, Geraldo, and Sony walkmans. The panic led to theatrical bands embracing demonic imagery further, sometimes seriously. Today, Satanic metal is almost a quaint cliché and real-life Satanists resemble Shriners more than they do boogeymen. 

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Episode 104 - A Brief History of Clown Panics show art Episode 104 - A Brief History of Clown Panics

Squaring the Strange

Just in time for Halloween, when scary clowns abound, Ben takes us on a tour of the modern clown panic phenomenon . . . from bands of phantom clowns in white vans showing up in the 1980s to the "Great Clown Panic of 2016" that went worldwide, to more recent fears about effects of homicidal clowns in our media. Clown panics touch on quite a few currents of fear, from unknown assailants to viral copycats to public outrage and urban legends about tainted Halloween candy.

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Episode 103 - Mysterious Animal Deaths and the Great Elk Murder Conspiracy show art Episode 103 - Mysterious Animal Deaths and the Great Elk Murder Conspiracy

Squaring the Strange

First, we look into an outrage-inspiring headline about a woman arrested for being topless at her home. Then we dive into why dead animals have unnerved us throughout history. Hailed by Biblical prophecies as a portent of doom, or blamed on aliens, cryptids, Satanists, or (more realistically) corporate polluters, mysterious animal deaths have a long history in the library of the strange. We unravel a few cases, including the Great Elk Murder Conspiracy, in New Mexico, which Ben got to cover as it unfolded.

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Episode 102 - Alienstock, Joker Fears, Homicidal Dwarves, and the Ica Stones show art Episode 102 - Alienstock, Joker Fears, Homicidal Dwarves, and the Ica Stones

Squaring the Strange

First, in a longer-than-usual opening segment: Ben recounts his latest chupacabra-related TV appearance; AlienStock happened, or tried to; two unsettling clown movies open this weekend--one of them contains Ben; and we look at a story that mirrors the film Orphan. Finally, Ben tells us about the Ica Stones, a hoax wrapped in a riddle tucked into a little Peruvian museum. Are these little tchotchkes proof of aliens, or a Biblical young earth, or both? One man's obsession holds many skeptical lessons.

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More Episodes

Fresh from a convention of caricature artists and with heads full of pareidolia, Ben and Celestia discuss a few topics of the day and then dig into crystal skulls. Can we trust what Dan Ayrkroyd tells us on his fancy vodka bottle? Are there really thirteen of these ancient and powerful relics? What is the Skull of Doom, and does it have strange properties that baffle scientists? These skulls provide a fascinating look into rewritten histories and the power of priming. We even look at an ill-conceived lawsuit against Steven Spielberg involving the crystal skulls featured in the latest Indiana Jones installment.