A Sophomore History Of The World – Part 3

Everything was going along just fine — until the Europeans learned how to build boats.  For the next 300 years, they sailed around the world being total dicks to everybody.  They’d show up uninvited at various pristine locations and start cutting down the trees and peeing in the rivers.  Then, when the locals, who were invariably running near-utopian civilizations — tidy, peaceful, and cultured — calmly suggested they stop, all hell would break loose.  The Europeans would go for their guns (products of the early Military-Industrial Complex) and start shooting people and stealing their best stuff.  Somehow, this always came as a complete surprise to indigenous peoples — even though the pattern was repeated over and over for 20 generations (1492 – 1776.).  (It should be noted that, although women have always made major contributions to the world, they had absolutely nothing to do with this nasty business and only concerned themselves with the good parts of history.)

In 1776 (although nobody knew it at the time) there was a major shift in world power when a bunch of rich, Virginia farm boys decided they didn’t want to be Europeans anymore: they wanted to be something even nastier – Americans.  They succeeded beyond their wildest expectations – but more about that later.

In the rest of the world, things were pretty much status quo.  Europeans were running around raping, pillaging, raiding, plundering, exploiting, kicking widows, spitting on orphans and staying awake nights, thinking up other horrible things to do to the planet and the people on it.  Eventually, they came up with the Industrial Revolution.  Wow!  What a game-changer!  Suddenly, raping, pillaging, raiding, plundering, exploiting, kicking widows and spitting on orphans wasn’t just a hit-and- miss proposition anymore; it was part of the system.  And here’s the nastiest bit!  The sneaky bastards called it “capitalism” and convinced the entire world it was a good thing.  Anyway, the Military-Industrial Complex loved capitalism the way a French pig loves truffles, and that kicked both systems into high gear.  Pretty soon, Europe was spewing arms and ammunition like a freshman at a frat party.  But it was a case of too many weapons and nobody left to kill.  By the 20th century, Europeans had already fought everybody — including the Maoris, the Nepalese, the Bhutanese and the Ethiopians. There was only one thing left to do: fight with each other.  Which leads us to World War I, World War II and Adolf Hitler – the meanest man in history.

But wait!  There’s more!

Remember those Virginia farm boys?  They’d been hiding out in North America, quietly practicing their own brand of nasty on anybody they could get their mitts on for 150 years.  They took one look at the Europeans going at each other, thought, “Hey! Here’s our chance! That Charlie Chaplin lookin’ sucker can’t be that tough.” and proceeded to kick his ass.  Suddenly, nasty had a new Numero Uno: America.

So here we are in the 21st century, the peak of human knowledge and social understanding, with a bunch of problems created by dead Europeans and America is busy making them worse.

The End

Disclaimer:  Folks! – please!  Before you send me that email questioning my knowledge, my ancestry and my sanity, remember: this is satire!  It’s meant to lampoon simple interpretations of complex problems.

Halloween: A History

halloweenI’m totally into Hallowe’en.  It’s right up there with Christmas, St Paddy’s Day and the Summer Solstice.  (I think I was a Druid in a past life.)  Unfortunately, idiots have taken over the celebration and they’re ruining it.  Every year, the minute the calendar says October, our 5,000 channel television universe turns into a butcher shop and it’s wall-to-wall Horror Movie gore until the bloodlust finally abates November 1st.  What a bunch of crap!

Here’s the deal.

Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, what’s-his-name with the hockey mask and anybody else with a chainsaw, pickaxe or pointy stick have nothing to do with Hallowe’en.  These guys and their horrible movies were invented by Hollywood to cash in on the universal need for teenage boys to get close to teenage girls — who, BTW, are looking for an excuse to let them.  That’s where horror movies came from — not from Hallowe’en.  Hallowe’en was never about half-naked young women and dumbass young men getting their entrails splattered from here to Main Street.  Nor was it about the lunatics, maniacs and psychopaths who stalk them.  These are all modern creations of the film industry.

Historically, this is what Hallowe’en is all about.

Hallowe’en actually started out as a quasi-religious holiday.  Back in the day, when pagans ruled the world and Christianity was a fairly new religion, the battle for the collective souls of the European multitudes was waged without mercy.  Religious marketing was at its cutthroat best.  The early Christians weren’t stupid, and they hijacked a lot of pagan traditions and incorporated them into their rituals to ease the masses into accepting Jesus as their personal Saviour.  In those days, pagans (and most Christians) believed that unsatisfied souls walked the night, and they could, on occasion, mete out some pretty mean-spirited retribution on the living — if they saw fit.  The church decided that November 1st, Hallowmas, a day that already honoured the saints, would be a good opportunity for people to pray for the souls of the recently dead.  This would aid the tormented on their journey to heaven — and, more importantly, keep them away from the God-fearing living.  Since midnight masses were de rigueur in those days, the church services took place at night or on All Hallows’ Eve.  (Sound familiar?  Hallowe’en?)  However, the nouveaux Christians of the day weren’t above hedging their bets — just in case this Jesus thing didn’t work out.  On their way to church, they wore cloaks, masks and even costumes – to disguise themselves from the ghosts who were hanging around the cemetery, waiting for prayers of deliverance.  In addition, some of the poorer members of the parish would accept coins or food from the wealthier patrons to add their prayers for the dear departed.  That’s it: the time, the place, the costumes, the tricks and the treats.  There’s a lot more to it, but for bare bones, you can take this history to the bank.

Notice!  There were no chainsaws, axes, heavy mallets or ball peen hammers.  There were no knives, swords, machetes, garden forks, shovels or soup spoons.  Nobody got stabbed, jabbed, poked or prodded.  Nobody got torn limb from limb, dismembered or even bruised.   It wasn’t a bloodbath, or even a slight rinse.  Originally, and for over a thousand years of its history, Hallowe’en was spooky, creepy, perhaps even a little frightening, but murder and blood soaked mayhem were never on the agenda.  It’s only recently that it’s been turned into a month-long multi-channel Splatterfest.  And for my money that’s a total corruption of a perfectly good festival.

Friday:  How to Write a Horror Movie