Selected Media Fads Through the Ages

Von Willendorf venus statue, circa 24,000 bce

24,000-22,000 BC: chunky fertility goddess statues (pictured at right: notice the prominent and large brains.)

10,000 BC: cave painting

4,000 BC: ziggurat construction

3,000-1,250 BC: pyramid raising (later revived by Mesoamericans and I.M. Pei)

1480-1700: Witch burning

1500s: homoerotic sonnet writing

1600s: pirate singing

1700s: pamphleteering

1760-1762: spreading syphilis

1790s: opera

1800s: novel-writing

1900-1914: being optimistic about the future

1919-1922: cutting up pieces of paper and pulling them out of a hat, also, painting

1925: jazz music

1927: soap-based radio

1933: burning books (mostly in Germany)

1951: find-the-commie (kind of like peek-a-boo, but with Senators)

1964: screaming (usually Beatle-related)

1966: TV

1976: disco

1977: DIY pet rocks

1982-1988: taking odds on Reagan-related nuclear holocaust

1987-1997: making answering machine messages (see below)

1998: web sites about your cat

1999: cappuccino drinking (related to dot-com bubble)

2000: looking forward to the future (this didn’t last as long as the previous fad in this genre)

2003: Friendster

2004-2005: blogging

2006: MySpace

2007: Facebook

April 2008: Twitter

2009 (Jan.-Aug): talking/writing/broadcasting about Twitter in MSM.

2009, Sep. 15: Blogging (again, briefly, but only about Dan Brown’s latest “masterstroke of storytelling”

2010 (Jan.-Feb.):getting really excited about the release of the iPad.

2010 (Mar.): trying to remember what all the fuss about the iPad was all about.

2010: “winning

2011: pretending the British Royal family is important

2012: posting pictures of every frickin’ meal on Instagram

2013: twerking

2014: “binge-watching” TV

And yes, Answering machine messages was the most important creative outlet of the nineties!

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Video here if it doesn’t beep.

Alltop and enjoys their Bebo. From my collection, Pirate Therapy and Other Cures. Originally published in 2010, and updated!

Dominus Vobiscum

After the disastrous Papacy of Benedict XVI, all the secret societies decided to go a different way with the new pontiff.

Schematic for RoboPopeThe Freemasons were keen to start putting their new genetic engineering technology to use, and so create some kind of freakish monstrosity that would be a continued impediment to population control. They were shouted down by the Illuminati, who were excited about the possibilities of having the first artificial pope.

The Priory of Sion and the Jesuits were in agreement a change was in order, but they could not agree on doctrinal issues (though the Jesuits had half a candidate in mind); the Vril Society was totally useless, proposing it was now time to introduce their alien masters to the world in the form of a scaly lizard-like beast called Todd.

The Creeping Dread Society felt it was time for some sort of cephalopod to hold the office, and the Skull and Bones felt that this was Jeb’s time.

In the end, they opted for a mixture of approaches — with considerable help from Sony — and the first RoboPope was introduced to the world.

Alltop hopes to one day be a Bishop of Death, and know the Latin phrase for “The Lord be with you”. Originally published October 2010.

Pirate Therapy

Pirate flagLaurence arrived a few minutes late for his regular Thursday morning session, but his therapist usually ran late, so he wasn’t worried.

From behind the door of his therapist’s office, he heard a blood-curdling scream, and then a thump. A door opened somewhere, and Laurence heard a strange sound, almost as though something heavy was being dragged. He heard grunts, scraping, and the rhythmical percussion of something booming on the floor. Laurence looked around, and realized the secretary was not there. He also realized he was standing, tense.

The door to his therapist’s office creaked opened, and he heard a rough voice shout: “Ahoy Larry! Be ye out there laddie?”

“Uh. Yes.”

“Come in, matey.”

Laurence walked unsteadily to the door and opened the door fully.

A pirate sat in his therapist’s chair. He had wild, unkempt hair held in by a greasy red bandanna, and a full dread-locked beard that looked like it was made out of black steel wool. He was wearing a stained white silk shirt, a sash of what was probably once a lovely dark green silk and pantaloons. He had one black boot, and he was missing a leg, which was replaced by a wooden peg that was carved into the shape of …

Laurence looked away.

“Arr matey, don’t ye like me leg?”

“Uh, it’s very creative,” Laurence said. “Um. Um, where is Dr. Glick?”

“She’s in-dee-sposed,” the pirate said. “She’s asked me to take care of her sessions today. Now, repeat after me: Arrrr!”

“Ar?”

“No, like ye mean it. Take a deep breath. No, don’t sit down. Ye won’t be sitting down this morning Larry, ye’ll be workin’! Now, say it: arrrr!!!”

“Arr.”

“Avast!” the pirate stood, the obscenely rounded end of his peg leg booming on the floor. A cutlass lay on Dr. Glick’s desk, and he picked it up. “I want to hear a real pirate yawlp before ye leave, ye bilge rat!”

Larry suddenly understood what that dragging sound had been. He looked around wildly for a weapon to defend himself; he picked up a pillow from the couch. Perhaps it would work as a shield.

“Would ye like a blankie too Larry? I won’t be caring if ye need to carry around a stuffed bear, as long as I hear ye. Now take a deep breath, and say it: arrrr!” The pirate’s voice was incredibly loud.

Laurence dropped the pillow and held his ears. He started shaking.

The pirate took a step closer and pointed the cutlass tip at Laurence’s throat; he lowered his voice and said menacingly: “I’ve slit the throats of better men than ye, Larry me boyo. Now say it, smartly lad, smartly!”

“Arr!” Larry managed, terror driving his voice several octaves higher.

“Grand! Grand!” the pirate enthused. “Now, let’s pretend you’ve got a pair, and say it again.”

“Arrr!” Larry shouted.

“Again!”

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“Arrr!”

“Again! Louder!”

“Arrr!” Larry screamed.

“Arrr!” the pirate joined in.

“Arrr!”

“Arrr!”

“Arrrrr……..” Their joint shouting tailed off, and Laurence realized that the pirate was grinning at him.

“So how do ye feel matey?”

Laurence wanted to say he felt good, but he know that wasn’t the right answer, so he just muttered: “arrrrr.”

The End

Alltop be wanting yer attention too, the scallywags. The title story in my collection, Pirate Therapy and Other Cures.

Pirate etymology: sea dog

Grrr! by Jesper Egelund

Many believe the term stems from the dog-like appearance of the seal, while others claim it is grizzled old sailors. Both of these are correct, nautically speaking, but not when it comes to the pirate.

Pirates, and more particularly, privateers, became known as sea dogs after the astonishing career of Captain Rufus the Flatulent.

Captain Rufus was given his Letter of Marque by Henry VIII, and plied his trade in the English Channel, off the coast of Aquitaine, and wherever Henry was at war. The privateer campaign in Aquitaine was particular successful, and Captain Rufus took many a prize. (Henry always had a hard time getting these out of Rufus’s jaws, but he was easily distracted by the piles of cooked swan that Henry had lying around the castle.)

In fact, the etymology of the term begins in Aquitaine, where French merchantmen sailors would cry, upon seeing Rufus’s standard (a set of crossed bones), “sauve qui peu, c’est le chein du mer!” (Sometimes they would just wet themselves and jump in the ocean without shouting anything.)

This “cheien du mer” cry quickly became anglicized, and is the now-famous, “sea dog.”

Alltop Grrr!, a photo by Jesper Egelund on Flickr.