Tag Archive: Halloween


Leper hand bones. “Your wrist bone’s connected to your, well, let’s just stop there”

leper man

Actual leper, despite looking just like those holographic Halloween pictures.

by Chelsea Schuyler

Lepers Still Roam

Happy Halloween! This year I bring you leprosy. Because the deadening of hands and feet while simultaneously turning into a molting lizard just feels right this time of year.

Though we cringe, we can’t help but be fascinated – how can you slough off bits of yourself and still live to tell the tale?

To be fair, you really don’t. Nothing falls off of you, you just get scaley,.. and suffer nerve damage and deformities, ..and get a fever and angry inflammation of the skin, eyes, and joints. And you know that’s bad, cuz inflammation isn’t exactly known for general contentment. Scientists, you had me at ‘angry’…

Finger-lickin good!

Finger-lickin good!

That’s IF you don’t treat it, which is easy (except that it takes 6-24 months).

Despite 95% of humanity being immune, people here in the states STILL contract it – about a hundred a year. Though now it’s called Hansen’s disease to avoid stigma (because WHO GETS LEPROSY THESE DAYS?) and to pay awkward tribute to the man who discovered the bacterium in 1873.

Where are these victims? The South of course, because all evil originates in swamps, so if you’re not too busy being riddled with Yellow Fever or birthing tiny-headed offspring which are later eaten by alligators at Disneyland, you might notice your hands have turned into leprotic finger nubbins.

You Two Have So Much in Common

armadillo

Actual armadillo I followed in the Barataria Preserve off New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s so blind and the leaves it was pawing in so loud it couldn’t detect me – I even pet it once or twice!

Said swamp contains the only other creature susceptible to the disease. Mosquitoes? You’d think, but no.

arthur tv show

Arthur, no!

Armadillos.

Those adorable living-dinosaur pinecones?! Why??

Note: Only the nine-banded armadillo is known to carry the disease. So the next time you’re hugging your neighborhood armadillo, count the bands just to make sure. But be subtle about it, no need to insult the thing.

armadillo

Yep, 9 bands. = I have leprosy.

The bacteria that causes leprosy is incredibly weak and pathetic (yet takes 2 years to kill??), and can only live in things with a low internal body temperature. Which feels somewhat ironic that a creature that grows its own protective ninja-shield has a War of the Worlds Achile’s heel of a tepid temperature and breezy bowels.

But don’t go hatin’ on armadillos, it’s not their fault. Originally, we gave it to them.

cat sleepling in

Cuddle warming is real!

(How is the human 98.6 degrees considered low, you ask? Spend a few years putting thermometers in dog and cat anuses like I have – and you’ll discover their norm is 102. It makes a difference – hence them being so nice to cuddle up to in winter.)

History of Leprosy

Prevalent in India back in the day, leprosy victims were sometimes assisted by families to suicide, which was considered an exception to the suicide-is-a-sin rule in Hinduism.

leper-colony-members

Leper colony members no doubt about to pounce on each other

As the English Christians strutted in, they saw a disease of Biblical proportions, and sent WTF?! notes back to Britain. Answering to the fears for the motherland, the colonial government isolated those diagnosed in 1898, separating men from women. Because leper reproduction – so hot.

Even the US had a leper colony – on some gorgeous peninsula in Hawaii. Reason enough to contract it I say. Wait, so, we sent the Native Americans to dry, desolate wastelands but the lepers get a tropical paradise? I’ll say it now and I’ll say it again, lepers have all the luck.

Many depressing decades later, we figured out a nice multi-drug therapy, which the WHO still offers for free. So when you remember the 80s, know that you were either:

the fly

The Fly: ‘Woops! An error occurred.’ ‘404, this animal not found.’ And other coding jokes…’

  • An unaffected leper gentile (leptile?) flocking in droves to watch Jeff Goldblum turn into a fly, which, let’s face it, was symptomatically a case of extreme leprosy rather than anything fly-related.
  • Minding your own business in your transport pod where, unbeknownst to you, an armadillo was present, and now you’re turning into one, scales and all. But huzzah, there’s a cure!

However, leprosy still affects people in India, especially due to poverty (compromised immune system), deeply ingrained stigma, and a hesitance toward Western medicine.

This despite Gandhi, who never ceases to be awesome, who took in a scholar outcast with leprosy, and massaged his feet daily. Someone took a picture, and it became a stamp that said ‘Leprosy is Curable’ to try to educate the world.

Mahatma Gandhi nursing the leper patient Parchure Shastri, Sevagram Ashram, 1939. Mahatma Gandhi bei der Behandlung des Lepra-Patienten Parchure Shastri im Sevagram-Aschram, 1939.

Leprosy continues despite Ghandi.

Yeah, yeah, somethin about millions of humans. What about the armadillos??

But Back to Armadillos

pink fairy armadillo

This 5-6″, adorable meme wannabe is leprosy-free. You can just tell.

Luckily the rare pink fairy armadillo – which amazingly is totally a thing, yet so rare  that even internet videos of it are just desperate image montages – remains unaffected, as it only lives in a tiny section of Argentina, dies quickly in captivity, and therefore is effectively the unicorn of armadillos. And as everyone knows, unicorns are pretty and therefore leprosy-free.

CBS reported a study done on the link between armadillos and leprosy, in which they quoted the lead researcher saying “Leave the animals alone.”

Let's definitely ask a continent that doesn't have armadillos their opinion.

Let’s definitely ask a continent that doesn’t have armadillos their opinion.

Sure, makes sense, but then they quoted Dr. Warwick Britton of Sydney, Australia, “who had no connection with the study”, as saying: “I would not cuddle armadillos.”

So basically, CBS was like, ‘Who else can we quote? Someone funny. I know, call Australia.’

And note that it doesn’t say why Dr. Warwick Britton (a name that just screams ‘formerly British’) wouldn’t cuddle armadillos. Maybe it doesn’t have to do with leprosy. People generally don’t want to cuddle things with ‘armor’ literally in the name. Or maybe he’s a cuddle warming denier.

glyptodon

Ridiculously giant glyptodon, terrorizer of early humans and assumed inspiration for Mario’s ‘buzzy beetle’ villains.

Or perhaps it’s because he knows they’re descended from the uncuddable Glyptodon, an animal from the ice age the size of friggin car. Concluding that all ancestors were giant and terrifying and haunt us even today in smaller, cuter, bacteria-ridden form.

So, Happy Halloween everyone! Especially the South and subsequently Hawaii.

Photos are in the public domain except:
Leper bones – photo by B.jehle, CC BY 4.0
Leper fingers – photo by B.jehle, CC BY 3.0
Armadillo in leaves 1 and 2 – taken by me
Pink Armadillo – photo by CC BY 2.0

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Trick or Death

old timeyby chelsea schuyler

It’s very important to instill in your children an appreciation for the exception to a rule. If you feel you have failed horribly at indoctrinating this moral imperative, Halloween is a great opportunity to reverse your parental ineptitude.

Say to your children, “Children, never, ever, ever take candy from strangers. Except on this one day where you should actively seek out as many strangers as possible, the sketchier looking their personal appearance and living quarters, the better.

suspect nothing

suspect nothing

And why shouldn’t they? Poisoned candy and razor blades are myths. …or are they?

In the words of the cowering child of Aliens, “mostly.”

mostly annoying

mostly annoying

In all fairness to the paranoid, razor blades or pins have made an appearance once in awhile in the last half century. However, (chicken and the egg here) the majority of those were hoaxes inspired by the myth, either pranks by kids to their parents (GENIUS) or parents to their kids (dear god, what is wrong with you people?!).

look at all the good that's come

look at all the good that’s come

And no one was severely harmed. Cuz biting down on metal is something you sort of notice before it reaches the soft innards of your gastrointestinal delicates.

As for poisoned candy, the evidence (provided by Dr. Joel Best) denies it ever happening. …At least by strangers to strangers.

Addictive powder through a straw. Start em young.

Addictive powder through a straw. Start em young.

There was a guy in Detroit in 1974 named Ronald Clark O’Bryan who poisoned Pixie Sticks and gave them to his son. His son died, and he blamed it on the neighbors’ tainted candy. His Fail was being behind the times. Hello, no one gives out Pixie Sticks anymore, as the police found when investigating the neighbors, just before they noticed that he had just taken a huge life insurance policy out on his son. A classic.

In 1970 a poor kid ate heroin-laced Halloween candy and died of an overdose…so the media said.

Aw, remember the media?

Aw, remember the media?

But it turned out that the kid had actually discovered his uncle’s heroin stash, and his parents sprinkled it onto his Halloween candy to shirk the blame. (I don’t wanna be handing out Darwin awards in the wake of tragedy (no I do), but how appetizing is heroin powder you could ingest enough to die from it? Something else going on there methinks.)

who wouldn't want balls of steel?

who wouldn’t want balls of steel?

Those are the sad stories. The better stories come from legendary greats like Helen Pfeil in 1964, who gave out dog biscuits, steel wool, and (clearly marked) ant poison to teenagers she felt were too old to be trick or treating. Which makes me want to start ringing doorbells, because, dude, free steel wool.

hero.

hero.

Unfortunately, the public didn’t appreciate Helen’s message to these freeloading slackers, EVEN THOUGH she told the kids what they were getting and no one tried eating any of it. She pleaded guilty immediately and her sentence was suspended. Dr. Best thinks this may be the origin of the myths.

Another gem occurred in 2000, when parents found their kids’ Snickers bars to be hollowed out wrappers crammed with weed. The cops traced it back to a certain homeowner who was extremely confused. Turns out he worked in the dead letter department of the post office, and found a bag of Snickers in the lost packages. shipment_of_fail-300x225Someone’s epic fail at smuggling pot was brought to this guy, who, having lived in a dark hole for the majority of his life, didn’t notice what must have been a significant weight difference in the candies. Deciding to save a few bucks this year, he brought them home and gave them out to the innocent children. Who, doubtless, are now addicts and sadists, having their had their first taste of the notorious gateway drug.

um, yes?

um, yes?

So there you have it. The real victim here? The candy itself. Used and abused time and again for hoaxes, last minute cover ups, or naïve postmen. Eat your candy folks, it won’t harm you. I can’t speak for your greedy, drug addicted, psychopathic family members, but the goods are all good.

werewolves. Where’s the wolf?

Who wouldn’t want a tail?  I mean, taking out social ostracizing and all that nonsense, we’re ugly enough as it is, a tail would be a vast improvement.  That said, I would like to speak today on the subject of Werewolves.

Especially regarding that of werewolf portrayal, of which i am infinitely skeptical.  If there is no TAIL then the wolf may as well be ruined for me.  Wolves have tails.  If you are cursed to turn into a wolf, then turn into a friggin wolf people and sport a tail.  Now, Marina Sirtis has an excellent point that could be attributed to this irksome pet peeve of movie watching.   Marina Sirtis, as you should well know, is mainly known for her role as Deanna Troi on Star Trek Next Generation, but more importantly voiced the fabulously evil Demona on the cartoon Gargoyles (all of whom had beautiful prehensile tails – just sayin’).  Anyway, a trekkie wasted his one question to the great Sirtis by saying, “why do all your characters from alien worlds look human?”  To which Sirtis brilliantly responded with a smile, “when our actors stop being human, maybe we can improve on that.”  That’s not an exact quote despite my use of quotations.  Just go with it.  The point is, point taken.  Our actors in werewolf movies don’t have tails.  But neither do they have teeth, hair, or glowing eyes, so i hardly see how it would be SO difficult to add a tail.

Even better, use an Actual wolf!  Or wolf footage, or dogs that look like wolves, or whatever the PC thing is to do these days.   I have to say, the best werewolf portrayal has got to be from the movie Blood and Chocolate.

 

note Actual Wolves. That’s what i’m talkin about

 

I’m not saying it was the best named movie (chocolate, really?) or the necessarily best scripted, though I’d say better than tolerable despite an almost overkill of looming teen angst.  I’m just saying (I’m just sayin!) that their use of wolves is incredible.  Some of the scenes beg the question, whoa! um, humane treatment of animals?  (Don’t worry, they were good, i checked the credits and everything was supervised).  And the transformation from human to wolf doesn’t boast a giant budget, or a trying-too-hard clay-mation pain inducer.  It’s simply kind of a bright blinding light, a kind of insert-magic-here thing.  Which i appreciate.

Most importantly, they have tails, and second and arguably just as importantly, they’re not SLIMY.  When did the slime thing come in?  Derived i imagine from the frothing at the mouth thing, but even the most rabid dog ain’t gonna be all Alien 3 about it.  The WORST modern portrayal of Werewolves I’ve seen has got to be Underworld.  How can a movie have such subtle vampires with cool blue eyes and from what i remember, excellent trench coats, yet screw up werewolves so badly?  Granted, they’re not “werewolves” officially, they’re “lycans” but come on, they’re werewolves and you know it.  Lycans, like “lycanthropy?” perhaps?  Or that of: a human gaining wolf-like characteristics or changing into a wolf?  Friggin werewolves people, they’re just trying to get out of how lame they are.  Way, WAY too CGI’d.  Witness the Underworld overkill below.  No people.  Bad llama!  that’s all folks.  Watch carefully.

 

what’s this slimy poo-bah? where’s the wolf?

 

 

upright? No. Down boy!

 

Why bats never sympathize

Seriously, happy Halloween, and therefore the entirety of October. I’m properly blacked haired now and black fingernailed, and all the easy Goth stuff that I require for the month, in symbolism of the freedom to wear my darkness on the outside.

i will live here one day

But seriously, biologically related animals abound this month.  Bats, Owls, Cats, Three Headed Dogs (which i plan on expounding upon in due course), let’s see what else we got?

Whatever, bats.  Perhaps one of the most impressive examples of evolutionary rockindom around.  Obvious first point, FLYING MAMMAL.  All those movies where some emotional character talks about wanting to fly away (moulin rouge – “someday I’ll fly away”; Forrest Gump – “dear god, make me a bird, so i can fly far, far far away from here”; etc) are not watched by bats because they simply can’t relate.  Those movies talk about the wish to escape, but usually end up lecturing about how even if you do escape you have to come back and face your past/problems/inability-to-actually-stretch-out-your-fingers-and-grow-webbing-in- between-them and such.  Bats actually did fly away, they were all, “F this” and totally showed all the birds who were like “dude you need feathers and junk.”

But that’s just  the easy part of their magnificence.  But this is my first blog, so I’m gonna see if i actually broke into the interweb before i put all this effort into my essential bat rants.

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