The Friday Five (2/13/04)!

Oooo! Lookie look! It’s Friday the 13th! So far today it’s been pretty good so no evil thoughts directed at the day. I slept in yet got ready early enough to have breakfast out with TheMan (who is on forced vacation today because he has accrued more than the max he can carry and must take 3 days of vacation before the end of February or lose them. Oh to be in that situation!). He had a boss breakfast, mine was rather meh but I don’t think that’s a bad omen, rather a poor choice of breakfast sandwich on my part. The coffee was meh too but better than other coffee I’ve had. Oh, the weirdest thing so far has to be the error message I received when Eudora refused to send my e-mail: Eudora got tired of waiting for the server. What’s that about? Tired of waiting for the server? My mail program is giving me ‘tude! Anyway, take a Friday the 13th Five read of today’s questions if you are inclined. They are pretty decent I think.

1. Are you superstitious?

Well, not per se…just a really avid believer in the karmic boomerang. My philosophy is that everyone has a certain happy medium between good karma and bad karma and when you tip the scales in one direction eventually the scales will want to return to a balance point. So if I go out and do lots of bad karma things, I have depleted my bad karma pool so more bad karma has to happen to me in order to balance out the karmic teeter totter. I’d much rather do more good karma than bad karma because I don’t so much mind good karma things happening to me.

As far as inanimate superstitions (Paths of black cats, broken mirrors, ladders) I love cats of all flavors (Mmmm, better with ketchup), worked in the theater for most of my college career and am naturally klutzy so I tend not to buy into the whole bad luck this or bad luck that thing. Man, I have walked under so many ladders I couldn’t live long enough to see the end of my bad luck streak. Couple that with broken mirrors and straying black cats and I have effectively accumulated enough bad luck that my children’s children would still be paying for it.

This leads me to comment on theater people in general, who are one of the most superstitious lots I have run in to. They not only have the general theater rituals and saying but they also seem to have regional or play/place specific rituals as well. They have seven ways to oblivion to ward off bad luck yet they have no qualms about the whole “under the ladder” deal. I never understood that. Mirrors, cats, ghost lights, “the Scottish play”, walking here or there yet they don’t even bat an eye about sauntering under a ladder. Huh!

2. What extremes have you heard of someone going to in the name of superstition?

Heh, well I should have read on before adding to question 1. Really, theater people are a whacked lot when it comes to the potential for doing bad luck. This might be because a theater person believes that bad luck isn’t one person’s bad luck but the whole company’s bad luck so if one person screws the karmic pool they all get hit. A good example is MacBeth. Rumor has it that the play is haunted and there are stories galore about this troupe here that had X thing happen or that troupe there that had Y thing happen (which are probably all Urban legends really, but you can’t convince theater people of that). One big no-no when putting on MacBeth is that you never say that you are putting on MacBeth while the play is in production. It jinxes the play. Instead you say “The Scottish Play” and thereby saving the production from certain doom.

Another superstition is the ghost light, which is a light kept on at all times in the theater even when it’s closed. It’s purpose of yore is to keep away ghosts so…errr…well the ghosts aren’t there when you come in (you could be eaten by a gru!) but functionally it keeps people from killing themselves on stuff trying to find the lights. Theaters are ever changing places when a production is loading in and performing and stuff moves all the time. Ghost lights at least let you see that the living room set now lives between you and the main light switch.

3. Believer or not, what’s your favorite superstition?

Huh, I don’t know. I don’t know if I really know them all formally or not. Is “step on a crack, break your mother’s back” a superstition? OH! OH! OH! Jack-o-lanterns! I forgot about the whole Halloween thing. I am sure that nobody today thinks about why people carve pumpkins but I kinda like their origin myth. As I understand it, All Hallow’s Eve is the night that dead spirits get to parTAY or something and the people of the time carved pumpkins in fear of these spirits. I am uncertain if the Jack-o-Lanterns were to scare off the spirits or to trap them inside the pumpkin but either way it’s a deliciously dark tale for why pumpkins are carved and set out on Halloween. Besides, I like carving and looking at candle lit pumpkins.

OH! I remembered another sort of superstition turned practice I read about: Colors of swaddling clothes or why girls are pink and boys are blue. (I really wish I could remember where I read this because it totally isn’t mine) Way back in the day (dark ages I think) when children were born but not yet baptized (because I guess it took a while to get them baptized) their souls were in great peril from roaming demons. Back in those days demons made house calls looking for unbaptized babies to eat, naturally, so the boy babies were wrapped in protective heavenly blue. Demons dare not eat a boy who was wrapped in blue and thereby “protected” by heavenly powers so the boy babies were safe. As for the girl babies, you didn’t swaddle them in blue because they weren’t as important, but you did want to differentiate between your boy babies and your girl babies so pink, or a more earthly tone, was used to wrap the baby girls. A demon who peeked into a crib and found a pink swaddled baby knew she was a girl and not worth his time and effort to eat so the demon went on his way. I though it was pretty interesting.

Oh again! Japanese and Chinese superstitions! Heh, there are at least two that amuse me. The first is the ghost wall and ledge built into houses. As I understand it, Japanese dwellings have a fairly high threshold (4 inches or so?) to keep ghosts out. Japanese ghosts can’t climb over low barriers I suppose. The second is an immediate wall facing the doorway (so that you have to turn either right or left to get into the dwelling proper) which confuses ghosts, should they get past the threshold. I don’t know why that confuses them, other than it may be linked to the belief that evil walks in a straight line. From doing Chinese Lion Dancing I have learned that the lion walks in a zig zag path to confuse evil, which can only walk in a straight line.

4. Do you believe in luck? If yes, do you have a lucky number/article of clothing/ritual?

Just the whole good karmic bounce back thing. I have no lucky number or clothing or spoon or what have you.

5. Do you believe in astrology? Why or why not?

Hmmm, I can’t say that intellectually I can support the whole astrological thing at all because I don’t understand how all the people born in a certain time frame are supposed to act the same way. On the other hand, it does surprise me that a good deal more people act the way their zodiac sign says they should than they ought to for the practice to be a total quack. I’m going to say that astrology seems a lot like psychology; they are about 70% accurate and 30% total bull shit. I can’t really believe in something that has that much uncertainty built into it but I reserve the right to be amused and thoughtful after the fact.

In short, the practice intrigues me but I always carry my grain of salt along whenever I go on an astrology ride.

Last Year at the booniverse: Wait a minute, deep fried as in deep fried deep fried? Not lots of butter on a griddle fried – deep fried right? Like fish fry fish deep fried? A sandwich? You can do that?

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