Everyone Shall Sit Under Their Own Vine and Fig Tree

Powerful art echoes through time and connects us to those who have come before us. In Hamilton, Lin Manuel Miranda drew back the curtain and showed us the mythical figures of America’s birth were human beings, and that their experiences are not so different from our own. This performance at the White House drives that point home in a unique way. George Washington is stepping down, setting the precedent of two terms that presidents would follow for centuries to come (with one notable exception being FDR). And Obama, about to step down himself after his eight years in office, is in the audience. When the chorus sings “George Washington’s going home,” you can hear the tears in their voices, as through time they wish farewell to an influential and much beloved man with the words of farewell to the father of our country.

Floating Fire

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I grew up in southwest Florida. Believe me, you don’t know bugs until you’ve lived in the south. The cockroaches are huge, and they fly. The spiders are huge, too. And then there are the fire ants.

Florida used to be all swamp, and during the rainy summers it tries to revert back to its former state. Every year my backyard would flood, and sometimes the whole neighborhood would be submerged under a couple inches of water. While there were distinct drawbacks to this (such as issues with the septic tank – enough said) as a kid I loved splashing through the neighborhood, even wading into the deeper water of the ditches. I would never do this now, knowing what sorts of bacteria and parasites that water was likely teeming with (septic tank – enough said), but then it was fun, like a huge natural kiddie pool.

Except for the ants.

When the neighborhood flooded, the fire ants were flooded out of their hills. To survive, they would clump together in a big floating ball. Imagine wading in waist deep water…and running into a floating fortress of fire ants. Accidentally stepping on a fire ant hill was bad enough…fire ant bites are terribly painful, and people have died from too many…but imagine them suddenly crawling all over you, taking a respite from their watery tribulations to bite every bit of skin they can get their pincers on. 

Give me the e. coli and flukes. Balls of fire ants are the worst.

Weird Wikipedia Wednesday: Exploding Head Syndrome

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Exploding Head Syndrome

Individuals with exploding head syndrome hear or experience loud imagined noises as they are falling asleep or waking up, have a strong, often frightened emotional reaction to the sound, and do not report signficant pain; around 10% of people also experience visual disturbances like perceiving visual static, lightning, flashes of light. Some people may also experience heat, strange feelings in their torso, or a feeling of electrical tinglings that ascends to the head before the auditory hallucinations occur.[1] With the heightened arousal, people experience distress, confusion, myoclonic jerks, tachycardia, sweating, and the sensation that felt as if they had stopped breathing and had to make a deliberate effort to breathe again.

Settle Down

Australian singer Kimbra is probably best known in the United States as the woman in Gotye’s hit “Somebody That I Used To Know,” but her solo work is well worth your time. “Settle Down” explores the fantasy of a Ken and Barbie marriage that girls are taught by society, and contrasts it with real life and all the difficulties that the fairy tales don’t tell us. Enjoy!

Weird Wikipedia Wednesday: Alien Hand Syndrome

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ALIEN HAND SYNDROME

A person with alien hand syndrome can feel normal sensation in the hand and leg, but believes that the hand, while still being a part of their body, behaves in a manner that is totally distinct from the sufferer’s normal behavior. They lose the “sense of agency” associated with the purposeful movement of the limb while retaining a sense of “ownership” of the limb. They feel that they have no control over the movements of the “alien” hand, but that, instead, the hand has the capability of acting autonomously—i.e., independent of their voluntary control. The hand effectively has “a will of its own.”

Wait For It

I was late to the bandwagon, but I’ve been mildly obsessed with the musical Hamilton for a couple months now, and “Wait For It” in particular has been on repeat for the past couple weeks. One of the things I love about Hamilton is how all the characters, these mythical men (and women) from the founding of our great nation, are human beings. There are no good guys or bad guys, just people trying to do the best they can in momentous, uncertain times. Alexander Hamilton is a brilliant man with major issues of arrogance and womanizing. And Aaron Burr, the “villain in your histories,” struggles with a need to live up to the expectations of his dead parents’ legacy and the resulting hesitance to stick his neck out for anything. Who can’t relate to that?

Exit Light, Enter Night

I love covers, particularly when the cover is in an entirely different musical genre as the original. This is a fabulous example of that. SHEL is an indie-folk group composed of four sisters, Sarah, Hannah, Eva and Liza. They take Enter Sandman, the quintessential metal song by the indomitable Metallica, and bring it into their world of acoustic guitars, mandolins and violins. The result is a beautiful (and beautifully creepy) lullaby you’ll want to put on repeat.

Scary Illustrations

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Like many kids who grew up in the late 80’s / early 90’s, I loved the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books. I was morbid from a very early age, so I particularly enjoyed pondering its exquisitely terrifying illustrations. Stephen Gammell reached right into the darkest depths of the human psyche and extracted these writhing, dripping, shrieking visions and put them on paper and into the minds of young children, and I love him for it. A couple years ago, the books were re-released, but with different illustrations, and there was an outcry of condemnation. How dare they deprive a new generation of facing these horrors head-on? The story of a bride who went missing while playing hide and seek on her wedding day and whose skeleton was found years later in a trunk in the attic is scary, sure, but the above illustration takes it to a whole new level.

Recently artists who were inspired by these gruesome works held an art show in San Antonio in honor of the illustrations, and they really did it justice. Check out their Instagram for some really awesome macabre pieces.