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Episode 137 - Musical Legend Grab Bag

Squaring the Strange

Release Date: 12/24/2020

Episode 150 - Mysterious Masked Musicians show art Episode 150 - Mysterious Masked Musicians

Squaring the Strange

Pascual leads us on a romp through the myriad masked musicians of our time (and a few before our time), and we discuss the reasons why some performers prefer to go incognito--sometimes through their entire careers. We start with a legendary Parisian performer who was brought to life by a writer who drew on current rumors and ghost lore. Then, from the Residents to Buckethead and even urban legends about Dolly Parton, we answer the burning question of who can go to Target and not be recognized?

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Episode 149 - The Beast of Gévaudan with Jay Smith show art Episode 149 - The Beast of Gévaudan with Jay Smith

Squaring the Strange

First we have a special guest SWAYSO participant join us to discuss a Covid-19 vaccine rumor going around. Then historian Jay Smith brings us the frightening tale of the Beast of Gévaudan, a story that sprung up around dozens of gruesome killings in a remote region of 18th-century France. As with all folklore, the tale was influenced by trends in journalism, science and the power structures of the day. What do church records, letters, and records from the enormous organized hunts to find this beast tell us

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Episode 148 - Steak-Umms' tweets of reason, and the 2001 Monkey Man Panic! show art Episode 148 - Steak-Umms' tweets of reason, and the 2001 Monkey Man Panic!

Squaring the Strange

We are joined by the critical thinker behind the Steak-Umms popular brand voice (aka Nathan Allebach), who talks to us about targeting misinformation as a PR strategy, managing viral posts, and the brand's recent dustup with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Then Ben brings us back in time to New Delhi, where a mysterious Monkey Man sent residents into a panic twenty years ago. Police and local skeptics were mobilized to combat this phantom, as rewards, injuries, vigilante groups and media reports fueled fear.  

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Episode 147 - Brian Regal and the Secret History of the Jersey Devil show art Episode 147 - Brian Regal and the Secret History of the Jersey Devil

Squaring the Strange

First, Pascual notices an uptick in unrelated, inflammatory Facebook threads in the wake of the Chauvin trial, and we get a refresher on troll-spotting. Then Prof. Brian Regal joins us to look at the complicated social history of the Jersey Devil. There's more to this creature than meets the eye, and Brian helps us unravel the seeds of American independence, the religious persecution and the misogyny behind the legend. We also hear about a very unfortunate kangaroo and a band of armed sideshow performers.

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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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More Episodes

First, Celestia recounts a couple of spooky incidents she's experienced during the pandemic. Then we look at a handful of music-related urban legends, folklore, and peculiarities. Ben brings some surprising information about the Pied Piper of Hamelin, which turns out to have threads of history woven into its folklore tapestry. Pascual and Ben discuss the Satanic rumors that surrounded guitarist Robert Johnson, and we look into a studio scream that launched many lurid urban legends. As a finale, we take a quick tour of pop culture references and origins for the scatological-sounding "brown note."