If you have been reading my articles for a while, you are aware that I kind of sort of started my journey my freshman year with Tarot cards.
There is a whole story behind that, somewhere back in our papers, about ghost hunting in Hopwood and whatnot. It is actually what I would like to discuss this week: ghost hunting, and the use of Ouija boards and seances by people who have not done their research.
I have never participated in a séance, and I have never touched a Ouija board, which is pronounced wee-jee. According to the Smithsonian magazine article on the board, Ouija is actually American in origin. It was first mentioned in Pittsburgh and New York papers in 1891, after Charles Kennard designed a board and joined together with Elijah Bond, an attorney, and Bond’s sister-in-law, a medium.
Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor
A multiverse appears to offer a variety of options. There are, however, a number of problems that confront the would be probability tourist who wants to visit Elseworlds based upon the simple question of “What If?”
Some alternate universes just do not work:
The basic idea behind alternate universes is that something has changed historically. We tend to think of them as counterfactual tales. What if Abraham Lincoln had not been assassinated? What if the Nazis had won World War II? The mind staggers at the possibilities.
These worlds become intriguing places to visit or perhaps nightmare worlds to escape. One can understand their appeal to cross-dimensional tourists.
This week has been a hard week for me because of the passing of my grandma. But one take away that I can take from this week is how we should appreciate every little moment with our loved ones.
During this week I have done a lot of thinking and I want to make some changes in my life so that I can be the happiest that I can fully be. I feel like taking time off of school and just being with family really helped me just realigned how I see life.
The first thing that I want to change is admire the little things in life and just cherish them. For example this can be just breathing but it can also just be taking the time out of the day to just admire my surroundings. I tend to be always moving fast especially being from NYC but I would like to change that.
Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor
Science fiction and superhero fans live in fictional worlds that are awash with alternate realities. The concept is popular enough that it sustains one of the best superhero movies of the previous decade, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
With Disney developing properties like Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness and What If?, these alternate worlds appear to be a big part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it moves forward. Nerds are accustomed to encountering multi-dimensional versions of their favorite characters. I am always amazed at how quickly they adapt to this notion. I found dealing with something close to an alternate Mike Robinson somewhat complicated.
I was in graduate school in Indiana at the time. For many months, I had received late night calls asking for a particular woman. I cannot remember her name, but I do remember the anger of the man who was looking for her. I kept telling this guy that nobody at this number had that name.
Earlier this week, we discussed in one of my classes how in fiction, anything that is outside the realm of known science, specifically in early comic books, is called magic.
This got me thinking about an anime I watched where magic is crafted through science in the future. This anime is called Mahouka Koukou no Rettōsei or, in English, “The Irregular at Magic High School.” The show is an adaptation of a novel series of the same name by Tsutomu Satou. This may be a rougher anime for those who are newer to the Japanese animation genre, but I found the show very entertaining if for nothing else than the mechanics of the magic.
To summarize the show a bit, it follows the stories of Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba, siblings from the powerful Shiba family of magicians. The show starts with their acceptance and beginning as freshmen in First Magic high school, one of the nine magic academies across the nation of Japan.
Plenty of things go bump in the night. There is a saying among the magical community: “Mundane before magical.” What this means is that one should look for common causes, explainable ones, before jumping to ghosts, magic, or other supernatural things.
But what if you have ruled out all of the common, mundane answers?
While I was staying in Salem, MA, with a couple friends and my mother, we noticed that our AirBnB had some very noisy heaters. They were the baseboard kind I had grown up with, in Manassas, and I remembered the creaking and the hissing they would make.
Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor
Trust is an important thing in any relationship. However, some careers require some partners to be less than straightforward about their professional lives. Because the Nerd Factor cares deeply about your emotional well-being, here are some tips for telling if you might really be dating a superspy:
If your true love seems to have an inordinately high number of tuxedos in their closet, then you might really be dating a superspy.
If your significant other has a lot of tape players, then they might just be into vintage audio or high-fidelity music. If a lot of those tape players self-destruct after a few minutes of playing, then you might really be dating a superspy.
In 1985, the original MacGyver introduced the problem-solving genius of Angus MacGyver. Now I didn’t watch this show, but I caught glimpses of reruns and heard the references and whispers of titular characters. I, personally, can’t watch old television, just personal opinion, but I was/am still fascinated by the idea of a character that workshops on the fly to solve overly dramatic problems. So, I can’t say how it compares to the original show, but I can say that of what I’ve seen so far, the 2016 MacGyver remake has been pleasantly over the top and buddy cop.
MacGyver (2016) is another one of those NCIS, CSI, LAW & ORDER, “we’ve got a case, let’s solve it,” government special forces show about a discreet government organization called “The Phoenix Foundation.” Phoenix is a special forces organization that is so secret even other government organizations don’t know they exist. They work to solve threats and hazards to America that either can’t be handled by other organizations, illegal investigations, or investigations into other government organizations. Each member of the team has their specific skill. I can’t list every character due to spoilers, but I can list the core members of Phoenix.
If you have a practicing witch as a friend, or are one yourself, then you have probably noticed the sheer amount of jars that contain only water a witch has.
Personally, I believe that I have about seven jars of water, each of them different. Water is used in countless parts of witchcraft, from cleansing to protection to spellwork. Different kinds of water bring different properties to the mix.
Sun water is used for protection, healing, clairvoyance, growth, confidence, leadership, creativity, and fertility. Much like moon water, which I know I have talked about before, sun water is made by placing a bowl of water – you guessed it – in sunlight. You can leave it there for as long as you like, but some prefer to move the water to where the moon will not touch it, as they believe it could alter the properties.
After this summer and the uprise of people who are more willing to speak up on racial injustices, fans of the bachelor saw the lack of diversity on the show. If there were people of color (PoC) on the show, they were never the ones to be engaged or even a lead.
We are about halfway through Matt James’ season of the bachelor. Matt James is the first ever black man to be the bachelor in this franchise. Many people of color truly believe he fits an agenda of how perfect you have to be in order to be on the show as a PoC compared to an alternate white bachelor.
Elena Nicolaou, a writer for O magazine, said that Matt James is a “philanthropic former college football pro, who gives free food tours to low-income elementary schoolers in New York City.” Most of the time the bachelor is just a ‘basic white man.’ In a way, it is like ‘in order to be a person of color as a lead on this show, you need to be phenomenal.’
Dr. Mike Robinson~ UL Communication Studies Professor
While tossing some snowballs around after our recent winter storm, I was reminded of one of the classic improvisations of childhood. Advancing down upon my position from the top of our neighbor’s hill that forms the beginning of our sledding run, my son deflected snowball after snowball with his plastic saucer sled. Like many anonymous Hydra goon before me, I too learned that there was little that could be done to stop this surrogate Captain America and his ersatz shield.
Unsurprisingly, we played superheroes quite a bit when I was a kid. We improvised a lot of that play as best we could. A friend’s saucer sled became Captain America’s shield. A wooden mallet I had made for some forgotten school project sometimes substituted for Thor’s hammer. One friend of mine was a lacrosse player. His helmet, shoulder pads, and gloves instantly made him Iron Man.
Never fear, this is just nostalgia not comparative childhood judgement. Imagination is imagination. I would never insist that we somehow had a better childhood than kids do today. Although there was something undeniably cool about those big old lacrosse gloves. Those things really did look like gauntlets could toss off a repulsor ray or too. Believe me, if we could have convinced our parents to buy us more authentic superhero gear, we would have begged and pleaded to get them. We just did not have many licensed products back then.
The spring is always a fun time for our Panhellenic sororities here on campus. This is a time when recruiting new girls is in full swing and everyone is trying to showcase their chapters in their best light. Even though the week of recruitment may seem long and tedious, it is such an exciting process to see potential new members find their homes.
Recruitment starts this Wednesday, and people are already really excited to meet the new girls that are coming in. No matter what sorority they are in, we are all Greek sisters and love to see everyone find a new home where they feel the most comfortable.
I decided to ask some sorority girls what they were most excited about this recruitment. Recruitment is virtual this year, which might have been seen as an obstacle, but the girls seem to be really excited and here is what they had to say.
Feb. 1 marks the beginning of Black History Month – a month designated to members of the Black community who have made an impact in the Black community.
During the month of Feb., Black icons such as Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King, and Malcom X are recognized, but there are many unsung heroes that also need to be celebrated during Black History Month. Do not get me wrong, those individuals did make an impact for the Black community and civil rights, but I would like to recognize a figure within the Black community during Black History Month many individuals may not have heard of – James McCune Smith.
The first week of January marked the release of this year’s first season of anime. I was way deep in Dungeons and Dragons and missed it, but spent my week playing catch up. There were a handful of shows that fit into the genres I am interested in, and I watched what had been released of those already.
One in particular kept catching my attention and it was not until I watched the first episode that I realized I recognized it. I read a good amount of manga, but oftentimes they are unfinished or dropped, so the shorter form ones fall out of my brain pretty quick. Kemono Jihen, Monster Incidents, was a manga I had read and either finished or dropped for whatever reason but remembered greatly enjoying it.
Originally a manga by Shou Aimoto, Kemono Jihen was taken and adapted by studio Ajia-do. At the moment it only has 4 episodes out but could have up to 13 or 25 depending on how much content there is to adapt to animation. Spoiler warning for at least the first episode and maybe bleeding into the other few.
Kemono Jihen tells the story of a small supernatural detective agency lead by Kohachi Inugami, a tricky Tanuki, which is a Japanese racoon, essentially, considered supernatural in many myths and folklore. Inugami heads to a farming town to investigate rapidly, and strangely, decaying animal carcasses. In this town he meets Dorotabo, a young boy ostracized and left to work the fields while the other children go play. Spoilery things happen and it is revealed that Dorotabo, actually named Kabane, is a half-demon who was left by his parents with his aunt.
Inugami, because of spoilery things, decides to take Kabane with him back to town, to Tokyo. The setting of this story is in a kind of suspended time period with a very traditional outskirts but a somewhat futuristic Tokyo. It is jarring but interesting and passes by without any big mess, so it is fine to just let it slide.
In Tokyo, Kabane is invited by Inugami to join his agency and help protect the balance between Kemono, supernatural monsters or beast, and humanity. The agency is simply titled “The Kemono Office” and Inugami explains that his customers usually come to him. In this agency, Kabane meets two other children just a bit older than him.
One is Shiki, another half-demon similar to Kabane. He is a big abrasive and rough and does not start very welcoming towards Kabane but warms up to him after a short while. Shiki is half spider demon and is able to produce a silk thread that nothing can break free from. The other is Akira. Though quite delicate and feminine in personality and appearance, Akira is a boy. Akira, like Shiki, is 15. Akira is a snow kemono and can create ice and snow when he focuses really hard on it. Another child is introduced really soon in the show, a kitsune girl who is sent by a more powerful kitsune woman to steal an object of Kabane. A short comical interaction between the girl, Kon, and Inugami smooths things over and she becomes an ally of the agency. Kon has transformative and fiery powers from her foxlike-demon powers.
Kabane himself possesses extraordinary strength and regenerative powers. That combined with no sense of pain and a history that has eliminated his fear makes him an absurd powerhouse for combat. He is monotone and aloof, keeping to himself unless spoken to and only gets upset about very specific triggers.
The show is action and supernatural but has comedic events as well. It also features a cast of children in a found family type scenario at the agency, giving a wholesome flare to some of the interactions. If this sounds like a show you are interested in, you can find it at Funimation.com/shows/kemono-jihen/ or if you have access to the Japanese Netflix.
Apologies for my absence last week. I had an emergency, which is why I want to talk about something a little different from my usual witchiness.
Mental health is something very near and dear to my heart. I have only ever been to one or two therapy sessions before coming to college, and I probably should have gone to a lot more. I am sure a lot of people feel that way, and a lot of people are going through their own issues right now. All of this is on top of the volatile world we live in today, and it is enough to make anyone lose it.
Over break, I thought I had time. I thought I would be able to rest, relax, and recuperate. I really could not have been more wrong. My work decided that, since I was here in Lynchburg, they would not hire anyone else for the busy holiday season, and instead I was moved to a full time employee. This meant I had roughly one day off a week, and the other days, 8 hours of my life was spent doing a meaningless job.