The Great Mythology, by Rich Paschall

Well, we survived the Red Moon or Blood Moon or whatever you were calling it.  It was a close call as to whether we would see the end of the world due to the cloud cover here in Illinois, but the wind blew them out-of-the-way just in time.  So a few neighbors and I stood on the corner looking up into the sky waiting for a red moon and the end of the world.

For this time of year, it was a mild night here in the Midwest.  I was ready for the trip to the great beyond dressed in a t-shirt and shorts.  I really was unsure how to dress for such an auspicious occasion, but in Chicagoland, we dress for 90 degree weather starting at 60 degrees, just in case we never get that warm.  It was 70 so it was good for a September night.  I did not carry anything but binoculars as I thought I should see the moon and whatever else was coming.

One neighbor was reporting the Chicago Cubs scores as we waited for the inevitable.  We both agreed it would be a shame if the world were to end before the Cubs made it to the World Series.  After all, this is the year in the “Future” when the Cubs were supposed to win, according to that great historical film, Back to the Future.

One woman, carrying a drink in each hand, paused on the corner to see the moon.  Her husband trailed a block behind with a camera.  They were headed to the park and the wide open spaces.  They did not want any trees to block their view of the apocalypse.  It was the “tetrad” and that surely signaled the end.

“Can I borrow your binoculars a moment?” she asked as she set a drink on the side-walk.

“Of course,” I said since I already had a good look at the dark orange ball in the sky with just a bright sliver around one edge.

“Oh, wow,” she exclaimed before handing back my favorite binoculars and heading to the park.  It was almost time for the full lunar eclipse so that meant no time for her to chit-chat with neighbors.

“Can you see anything?” one man asked as he walked by.  “Yes, It’s right there,” I responded and pointed up to the southeast.  He did not look up, however.  He just kept walking.

Two small boys and a bit taller girl with a dog ran down to the corner.  The man with the baseball scores asked the kids if they had seen the moon, and then pointed toward the red ball.  The smallest one did not look up but stared at us instead.

“How old are you?” I asked the little guy.  “Six,” he replied.

“You will not get a chance to see a red moon again until you are 24 years old,” I told him.  He did not seem to care.  He was momentarily more fascinated with us staring at the sky than anything else.  Soon all the children were running off in the direction from which they came.

Eclipse, Wikimedia Commons, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Eclipse, Wikimedia Commons, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When they reach the next full lunar eclipse with a red hue of light bending around the earth, the children will be adults and hearing about a possible end of the world.  Preachers will predict the end, talk show hosts will announce doom, clever hucksters will write books and give speeches about the apocalypse and people will post nonsense on facebook or whatever is the social media engine of the day.

In ancient Greek and Roman times it was understandable how the great mythologies arose.  There was no social media.  In fact, there was no media at all.  Nothing was bringing reliable news from one location to another.

There was no science.  There was no logical explanation for what people heard in the clouds or saw in the sky.  Thunder could be an argument among the gods.  Lightning bolts could be tossed down by one god doing battle with another.  Storms at sea could be the result of Neptune being upset with sailors.  There was just no telling what could be happening up on Mount Olympus or up in the clouds.

Without any firm knowledge, one explanation could sound just as reasonable as another.  There was no way to disprove the great mythological stories.  If they included real locals or real happenings, who was to say the explanations were not real as well?  A myth was just like reality TV or the Republican debates.  If you did not know better, who’s to say it was not the truth.

In the present day, however, does it strike you strange that stories that are easily disproved find believers around every corner.  In ancient times, the appearance of a red moon no one had ever seen before might signal an ominous event to those who did not have a better explanation.  But what about today?  When we can find out how often these lunar events happen, or how many times the doomsday predictions were wrong, why do people continue to believe such nonsense?

When I looked at doomsday predictions from the middle of the last century to the present, I see I have survived quite a few.  With any luck at all, Zeus willing, I guess I will survive a few more.

When those children I saw last Sunday become adults, I wonder if they will believe in the phony predictions and fake facebook memes, or will they finally come into an educated era.


Doomsday Reports and Prophecies, Rich Paschall

Since this may be my last message to you here on SERENDIPITY, I really should make the most of it.  Maybe there should be some clever short story with a surprise ending.  Perhaps there should be an amusing article about our politicians and the dumb things they say.  There could be a serious commentary about the never-ending election cycles.  Of course, top ten lists are always popular.  We could have our Top Ten favorite Doomsday Songs.

It seems there’s another interesting celestial event that has people declaring the end of the world.  This time it is the fourth full lunar eclipse (tetrad) in a short time (since last year) that produces a red looking moon.  This is where certain hues of light can bend around the earth to give the moon a reddish appearance.  It is similar to the effect that we see when sunsets appear red. (Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.)

Now, as seems to happen with every unusual event, the lunatic fringe is declaring a lunar disaster.  It is an apocalypse to make Apocalyptic movie makers proud.  Prepare, my reading friends, since this may be the last chance to read here.  We should, therefore, spend some meaningful time together.  Tomorrow you may be off to somewhere well beyond the red moon.

A preacher in San Antonio, Texas (I resist the urge to joke here as I have friends in San Antonio.) has announced the end on the world this Sunday (or Monday, if Jesus is busy).  He wrote a book about it a couple of years ago in plenty of time to cash in before the actual event.  I would mention his name or book, but he has enough publicity.  His name is all over the internet lately.

Why do various people run around claiming the sky is falling, or at least turning red?  It is a Biblical saying that announces, “The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes.”  So perhaps the Lord will come if the moon looks like blood, but will it “turn to blood?”

Photo credit: “Architect of the Capitol.”

Photo credit: “Architect of the Capitol.”

Of course, the “blood moon” has appeared many times over the centuries.  What makes this one the apocalyptic version?  Perhaps because it is good for book sales and church attendance.  What will the good reverend say next Sunday, if there is a next Sunday?

Hopefully you all recall the Mayan apocalypse.  That was the date when the world would be destroyed by an asteroid or some such thing because the Mayan calendar was going to run out.  People prepared for December 21, 2012 to be their last day on earth.  I wonder how many spent all their money thinking they would not need to pay rent or the mortgage in 2013.

Harold Camping, who has now gone to the great beyond anyway, predicted that May 21st, 2011 would be the end of the world as we know it.  In fact, his radio station supported him with a publicity campaign.  Camping was a radio preacher and evangelist.  When there was no cataclysm in May, he adjusted his date to October 21.  That did not happen either.

Famous television evangelist Pat Robertson suggested in his 1990 book that the earth’s destruction would come on April 29, 2007.  The fact that this did not happen does not seem to have hurt his television career.  He is still making comments of questionable merit.

When I was young, the “prophet” and psychic Edgar Cayce had already made a number of claims about the earth that would come true in the 20th century.  It was fascinating reading and I picked up several of his books.  I even thought there was merit to much of what he said.  Unfortunately it was all guess-work with little success.  By now, the lost continent of Atlantis should have arisen from the sea, China should have been completely converted to Christianity, California should have sank into the ocean and Armageddon should have happened.  That prediction was for 1999.

Despite the many spectacular failures, people still take the words of the “sleeping prophet,” Edgar Cayce, and stretch them to fit many historical events.  I guess if I predict a major weather event in the next decade or that a world leader will die in office by the year 2025 I will somehow be a great prophet.  I will not be predicting the end of the world, however, for fear of having to explain why that did not happen, and why we are still having to put up with Republican debates.

If there is no doomsday, I invite you back tomorrow for more reading right here.  If we make it to Tuesday, I will start thinking about my contribution to this site for next Sunday.  If we don’t make it to next month, just consider that the election season ended early.  That will be the upside.



Completely, Utterly, Absolutely Without Method, by Rich Paschall

It’s time for more great thoughts and random musings.

How many musical Top Ten lists can we come up with before we run out of ideas?

Has signaling your intention gone out of style?  It seems many people put on the turn signals of their auto only as the spirit moves them.  For some, that is not too often.

When did it become OK to travel up to a block in the oncoming lane in order to reach your turn lane at the corner?

I recently saw someone who was illegally making a U-turn get hit by someone who was illegally using the wrong side of the road to get ahead. Since no one was hurt, I thought it was somehow just.  Is that wrong?

Should we be doing separate and major construction projects at the same time along three sides of one of the world’s busiest airports?  If you are from Chicago or are familiar let me just say Irving Park, Mannheim and Touhy Avenue.  If you are not familiar, let me just say “rush hour gridlock.”

I wonder what kind of rush hour gridlock they have in Martin, Tennessee.  Yes, I know you have never heard of it.  Not too many have.  They probably get a bunch of cars down by the Dairy Queen on a warm night.

Does it seem that the success of singers like Adam Levine and Sam Smith have brought on a bunch of guys who sing a bad falsetto?

Are people eager for the next James Bond movie?

Are people eager for the next Star Wars?

Are people eager for the next Avengers?

Are people eager for something original, for gosh sakes?

Sometimes when I talk to my friend Tom Law in England, I hear American stereotypes that are unfortunately true.

If you were to form a band with two other musicians you really didn’t know, would you call the band Cahoots?

If Barnes and Noble stores are struggling, where will I go to browse books?

Will there still be libraries in 50 years or will we just “Google” whatever we want to know?

Do schools teach handwriting? Does anyone know what the Palmer Method is? I am not talking about the quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals.

Does this seem even more random than last time?

If you are using a tube television, where do you go get replacement tubes?  Radio Shack?  Not too many of those left either.

If we ask you your favorite song today, and we ask you again in one month, is it likely to be the same?

Casablanca is still my number one movie.  What’s yours?

Was the Golden Age of Television really Golden?

If people are watching less television, why are there more channels?

Video did not kill the radio star.

Basically, what is the difference from when I went out to buy a 45 RPM for 99 cents and a teenager today downloads a song for 99 cents?

When I went to search Cahoots, the following song is what I got first.  While Tom would probably prefer I pick a more recent song, I think I should stick with the theme and go with what randomly appeared.  Here are the boys and their Shoes:


A Citizen’s Open Letter, Richard Paschall

Dear Leader,

There are a number of problems in the world I would like to call to your attention in case you have not yet had time to notice them.  First, there is this whole thing about poverty.  The world is full of wealth and wealthy people and yet there are those without food, shelter and medicine.  Worse yet, successful corporations and wealthy businessmen get additional tax breaks that in no way benefit the poor.  Isn’t the government for all the people?  How about a little protection for the “little people?”  There seems to be no reason for people to starve.  Wouldn’t a “more perfect union” seek to help more than the top one percent?

Credit: CC0 Public Domain from pixabay

Photo Credit: CC0 Public Domain from pixabay

We seem to struggle with the issue of providing health care to the populace.  I know you have tried to get medical insurance to everyone, but the costs are still rather high.  Other top-tier countries do not force their citizens to choose between food and health care.  Costs are controlled to a greater extent.  Also, prescription drug costs at the retail level are affordable elsewhere.  Here many people must choose if they can afford life saving medicine or pay other bills.  Does that seem right? The same prescriptions that are reasonably priced in other countries are sometime astronomical in price here.  Can you even this out?  That would seem to “promote the general welfare.”

In a nation built on immigration, as most countries were actually, we seem to have a total lack of understanding of immigration issues.  Some politicians, barely removed from their immigrant roots, block meaningful immigration reform.  Can you speak to them about that?  Maybe they do not realize that their roots are actually somewhere else, not  here.  In fact, it seems that the native population is really rather small.  We need to “establish justice.”

If children are our future and education is the most valuable component of that, can we do something to promote higher education?  Many countries provide free education as they realize the value of it.  Surely we will fall behind in the world if we do not have an educated population.  At present, the cost discourages participation or throws many students into debt for decades after graduation.  Would this not be one of the best ways to “secure the Blessings of our Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”  If our posterity is to be driven into ignorance and/or severe debt, then they are not blessed at all.

There seems to be a lot of mistrust of government, police departments and authority in general.  Can you speak to various leaders about justice and equality?  I fear we have taken steps backwards in the relationships between men and women, people of color, people of various religious backgrounds and people of different sexual orientations.  Worse yet is the use of so-called religious freedoms to justify hate.  Surely you can do something to get the dialogue back on track.  People are people.  There must be a better way to “insure domestic tranquility.”

I know you must “provide for the common defence,” but we seem to be going about it the wrong way.  Can you explain to the citizens that the second amendment was not actually handed down by god?  Since we are not living in the 1780’s and there really is no reason for all citizens to bear arms in case the states need to raise a well-regulated militia to defend themselves, we should be able to add in some sort of control.  After all, the Red Coats are not coming.  Background checks will not infringe upon my rights, I promise you.

Finally, I think programs and policies need better explanations.  Can you do a better job of that?  President Theodore Roosevelt believed that he had a “bully pulpit” and that he should use it, and use it he did.  He was not shy about going out to the people to explain himself and his policies.  Why not try to do more of that?  On the other hand, that will only mean opponents will spin the truth out of control and get more air time.  Maybe you should forget this last part.

Public Citizen Richard


Great Thoughts and Random Musings

Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, there are still plenty of politicians who deny climate change.  Do you wonder what interests they are protecting?

Let’s have a show of hands of all people who think the government is actually working for them.  That looks like two per cent to me.  I get the one per cent, but what about you others?

So the British CEO of Dunkin Donuts thinks that a 15 dollar per hour minimum wage phased in over three years would be “absolutely outrageous.”  His total compensation last year was 10.2 million (, which is about 4900 dollars per hour if he works 40 hours per week and 52 weeks per year.

Have you noticed the increased number of people who seem to want to protect the top one per cent while keeping poor people poor?  Surprisingly, many are not in the top one percent themselves.

How about a 24 hour moratorium on Facebook memes?  Maybe Twitter too.

Since the Chicago Cubs are actually over .500 at this point in the season, Cubs fans think the team will make the play-offs.  Of course, if they were under .500 many would think that too. If the season ends tomorrow, they are in, barely.

So people caught running red lights are against red light cameras and believe the city is just trying to raise revenue.  Mmmmm?

Name dropping time.  Since writing an article about musician Tom Law, I have had a few conversations with Tom and we have given new meaning to the idea of “totally random.”  I thought we would be talking about music and music videos, but not so much!  It’s all good.

Name dropping two. I went to hear author David Farrell read from his recently published book, If Only Again.  It is always interesting to hear the author read his own words.

David Ferrell reading the opening of If Only Again.

David Ferrell reading the opening of If Only Again.

Of course it is OK to be outraged about the killing of a lion, especially if it was lured out of a protected area, but where is the equal outrage for those who die needlessly each day from disease, hunger and war?

The truth may not set you free, but lies will certainly enslave you.  Feel free to quote me on that.

How about if you have to quote me one line of Leviticus which may or may not be translated correctly, I get to quote you ten that you are probably violating often?

If music soothes the savage beast, please explain Heavy Metal to me.

I did see an interesting internet quote among the piles of crap, it said, “If you don’t take care of your body, where else are you going to live?”

Snopes, Snopes, Snopes!

Despite the obvious truth that a virus does not ask your sexual orientation before infecting you, why do people continue to think of HIV as a gay disease?  Most people in the world who have it are not gay.

“HIV is the world’s leading infectious killer.” (

I have lost count of how many Republicans are running for President.

“A new NASA study confirms fire seasons across one-quarter of the planet’s vegetated surface are growing longer.” – Tom Skilling, meteorologist

Lollapalooza is the best music festival of the year.

Somehow I have gotten on to the email list of two ultra right-wing groups whose names I will not repeat.  I wonder if it bothers them one bit that their conspiracy theories and “News reports” are most certainly lies or extreme exaggerations.

If you read last Sunday’s short story (Did You See the Picture?), then this coming Sunday’s will be the same, but from a different point of view.


A good friend in Texas who used to live here in New England is fighting a lonely battle in her town for the right of women to retain control over their bodies. Texas is the front line of the war against women, a war I thought we’d won years ago with Roe V. Wade and the end of (formal, official) discrimination against women in the workplace.


She and I remember the bad old days. We were there together. The days of backroom abortions performed with chlorine bleach, coat hangers and turkey basters. When sepsis or perforation of your uterus was not an unusual price to pay to end a pregnancy. Where young women, unable to obtain an abortion, threw themselves off bridges rather than bear an unwanted child. Or tried to abort themselves, with lethal results.

Despite self-righteous conservative braying, backlash and brainwashing, having an abortion was not and is not a sign one is irresponsible or anti-life.


Women have (and always have had) abortions for all kinds of reasons including fear for their health, welfare of existing children, and of course, economics, AKA survival.

While birth control isn’t 100% reliable, the men trying to stop women’s access to abortion are also determined to prevent us from getting effective birth control. If there is any logic to this, I fail to see it.

What’s the real point?

It has nothing to do with life or the right to be born. It’s about power. About putting women in their place so men can regain the control they have lost. Back to the kitchen for us, barefoot and pregnant. If men had babies, you can be sure this would not be happening.

I had an abortion that wasn’t an abortion, thus retaining plausible deniability.

My husband was in the hospital. He had cancer. It was so early in the pregnancy — less than 4 weeks — tests were negative, so technically, I couldn’t have an abortion. But I knew.

It was the worst time to discover myself pregnant. I didn’t know if my husband would live. (He didn’t live long.) We were financially maxed out. I had gotten into a highly competitive master’s program — more than 2000 applications for a couple of dozen spots — and I would not be able to accept. I looked at my life and thought: “I don’t need more education. I need a job.” No matter how I tried to fit the pieces together, a baby was not in the picture.

I had a “menstrual extraction” which was what you got when the test read negative but you knew otherwise. It was done in a doctor’s office. Without anesthesia. That’s a lot of pain, during which you dare not move lest a blade slip and do some serious, permanent damage.


So many women my age went through similar or worse experiences. Were we happy about it? No, but we did what we felt was best, not just for us but for everyone affected.

Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum. What happens to one woman happens to her entire circle — family and friends. We were adult women. We had the right and the obligation to decide what happens to our bodies and our lives.

I maintain my long-standing position on this matter. Unless you are a woman, your opinion is worthless. I do not care what they preach in your church. Until you walk in my shoes, live in my body, you know nothing.

Why am I weighing in on this? The it-wasn’t-really-an-abortion was more 40 years ago. No one knew it happened until now. I’m not ashamed of it. I’m sorry it happened, but I believed I was doing the right thing. I still believe it.

How ironic that women are again facing the specter of those terrifying, desperate days. The nightmare of the back room and the coat hanger is looming. The gains in personal freedom women won are at risk. If we don’t speak out and stand together, we will lose it. Maybe not tomorrow, but eventually. The opposition is relentless.

I am past child-bearing age. It’s about all women. Whether or not we have the right to decide for ourselves what is done to us. If ever there was a right to life involved, how about our right to have a decent life, to bear the number of children they want and not be managed by men whose stake in the issue is tangential? How about that?

No one wants an abortion. But sometimes, you need one.


To Tell The Truth, Rich Paschall

At times it may seem OK to tell the “innocent little lie.” You may want to “protect” someone from the truth. You may not want to hurt them. You may want to save bad news for a “better time.”  Maybe it is not the other person who can not handle the truth, maybe you are just too uncomfortable with it.

Of course, we may think it is perfectly OK to tell children little lies, or even big ones, because we do not want to hurt them or crush their childhood fantasies. We may wish to wait until the right time to tell children there is no Santa Claus. I’m sorry if no one told you before now. You may even want to keep the fantasy of the Easter Bunny alive, or the Great Pumpkin. Some children’s holidays are built on stories that are exaggerated or simply untrue.


Then there is the matter of super heroes. There was a time when I wanted to believe in Superman, and Flash and the Green Hornet. Then there was Batman and Wonder Woman, well, the whole Justice League actually. Didn’t you? Why crush a little one’s believe in these characters? They may wish to dress up as these super heroes at Halloween, or other times, because they believe.

The issue of life and death looms as a major area to toss around the lies. “Where do babies come from?” might be cause for lies because the parent is uncomfortable with the topic.  It may be the same with “Where does the dog, parakeet or even Aunt Martha go when she dies?” There could be plenty of stories handed out to cover that. Eventually children stop asking because they know parents are lying. At a certain age, they may even be bold enough to call them on it.

When does the time come when we dispense with these little lies in favor of the truth?  When should we just tell children the real story, no matter how awkward or painful?  That is probably best decided on a case by case basis, but what if the lies go on and on?

Does the legacy of lies lead to people who grow up thinking it is OK to lie?  Perhaps some tell so many lies to protect their children, it becomes habit long after the necessity passes.  Perhaps children learn that in some situations it is just OK to lie and therefore they adopt the habit themselves.  After all, the message was sent at a young age is that there are times when it is perfectly alright if we do not tell the truth.

Few doubt the government lies to us from time to time (or frequently, if you are a conspiracy theorist), for national security, or to protect us from some inconvenient truth.  We have entered into an era where commentators and politicians do more than just spin the news at us. They make it up too. If they say it is for the national good, does that make it OK?

The polarization of the America and its political parties seems to come, at least in part, from the untrue stories that each side is telling.  It is bad enough that members of the general public knowingly repost items on social media items they know are not true (see Hate, Anger and Social Media), but politicians and their supporters sometimes appear to be doing the same. Do you believe everything your elected official tells you? Really?

In a world made up of “pretty little liars,” do we trust anyone?  Perhaps you have seen the syndicated television show “Cheaters.” In it a spouse or a least a mate has come to suspect that the other person has been telling lies and wants the Cheaters detectives to find out the truth. I have never seen an episode where the one being investigated was not lying to their mate.  Yes, I have seen the show too often. It’s like watching a train wreck. You know it’s not going to end well, but you can’t keep from looking.

You know when it’s okay to lie to your spouse or close friends? Never. Aside from the story you told to pull off a surprise birthday party or a spectacular marriage proposal, the answer is never. If you believe it’s okay “to protect the friendship,” then you are not as close as you think.

When a friend and I had an issue to sort out early in our friendship, we ended the conversation saying the only thing that could hurt our friendship was not telling the truth. Any problem could be overcome. We declared honesty as the only policy.

So less than a year later, in a beer hall in Germany, my friend asked me a personal question that I was not prepared to answer.  I thought about it only for a few seconds as the conversation about honesty replayed in my head, and I told him the truth. Then he wanted to know why I never said anything, so I told him that too. And it was fine. It may have been a surprise and the reason may not have sounded good, but it was the truth. I may never tell him everything, but the importance of friendship means that lies can not be told. A friendship built on a foundation of truth will not crumble.