Jan 6, 2014

The How and Why of Blasphemes

history by killer

Before I do anything else, let me encourage you, dear reader, to always continue scrolling down the page when you reach the end of any posts, the better to ensure you don't miss anything new.  By my count, we have seven contributors now.  While some of them are more active than others, any of them might post at any time, which occasionally means a fairly new and juicy entry might be buried several feet down.  For instance, a podcast featuring all seven of us in one room can right now be found somewhere far below.

Now then...
If the title of this post hints at some grandiose, abstract, ideological thrust or mission statement, the byline should quickly clue you that it is really little more than an unveiling of past events.

Today is January 6th, 2014.  It was eight years ago today that this site officially launched.  Eight, of course, is not widely thought of as a milestone number.  No matter.  In the generic spirit of the big word at the top of the page, let us poo-poo the convention of waiting two more years and answer now the questions of how this site got started and why that big word up there is Blasphemes.

I'll tickle you with an obvious tease: The story of the second question begins in a bathroom stall in Ogallala, Nebraska.  For now, that's all you get.

The story of the first question is pretty straight-forward.  For several years prior to 2006, I'd been inflicting upon some of my friends and relatives a weekly or biweekly email blast that was usually centered on my frequent travels around North America.  This was back before Facebook exploded, leaving its neutral-blue-tinged innards spattered over the screens of millions of computerized devices, but what feedback I received from the targets of these missives was entirely predictable: about 98.6% positive.  I tried to take these compliments with a proverbial grain of salt... but, pathetically, I also kept asking.

One night in the fall of 2005, the three likely souls who would become the site's first three contributors gathered at Holly Would's apartment in La-la Land to drink, smoke, play cards, and discuss the mysteries of both the universe in general and our little corner of it.  Soon after a lengthy pontification on my part about the Christian calendar, One F told me: "You should start a blog."

My answer: "I don't know how to start a blog."  Laugh if you must, but it was the truth.

That initial discussion ended quickly, as I remember.  We soon moved on to other topics, like whether or not Holly really had the hand he was betting (he didn't) and was there anything to my theory that habitually spinning a 1998 half-dollar with an almost imperceptibly raised ridge on one side was lucky (it wasn't).

One F, however, mentally tabled the idea.  Several weeks later, he contacted me with a re-proposition: He would start a blog and magically engineer the parameters of it so that I, too, could make my musings public.  Since it involved little more than typing and green-lighting, I agreed.  He declared that our launch date would be January 6th, 2006.  The date was selected because of our earlier discussion about the Christian calendar.

In the unlikely event that you ever find yourself in, or even near, a bar trivia contest about such things, and you desperately want to win it, here's the info...

The twelve days of Christmas are December 25th through January 5th.  Christmas Eve is not one of the twelve days of Christmas-- it is the last day of the previous religious season, Advent, which begins four Sundays before Christmas.  The thirteenth day after Christmas, January 6th, is called Epiphany.  Aside from its theological overtones, the word epiphany can be defined as "a revelation; a sudden understanding or realization of truth."

Whether or not this definition played a role in One F's selection of the date is a question I've never asked and he's never answered.  Most likely, he just knew I had some weird affinity for it.

The next order of business he put to me was the two-pronged question of what would appear on the site's banner.  We both made several suggestions.  At one point, I think we were at least nominally considering more than a dozen possibilities.  "Blasphemes" was one of mine.  Graciously, he chose it.  The scripted legend "Impious since 2006" was his idea.  Nowhere near as gracious as he, I suggested something else-- partly because the discussion was taking place in 2005.  For the first few weeks, then, our legend directed visitors to "Read it twice and don't call us in the morning" or some such nonsense.  The novelty wore away quickly, and I sheepishly asked him to replace it with what is there now.

The story of why I nominated "Blasphemes" begins, as I stated earlier, in a bathroom stall in a truckstop located just outside of Ogallala, Nebraska.  Some assistant-manager type, realizing the truth that a certain segment of the population is simply incapable of waiting for the laxative properties of some of their ingestions to win out over the constipative properties of their other ingestions without leaving some sort of inscription, sagely decided to provide that subculture with a way to express themselves that wouldn't leave the partitions of the defecatus cubicus permanently defaced.  In other words, he had big blank pieces of cardboard duct-taped to the inner walls.

Some gear-jamming Bible-thumper had shown his appreciation for this cultural compromise by taking a big, bold, black marker and writing: "Know The Truth! John 10:10".

Some other rider of the porcelain pony, displaying an above-average helping of clever, had used a red Sharpie to rejoin: "Know the Truth!  Mad Dog 20/20."

This, of course, was ready fodder for one of the last massive missives I mailed before I switched to spitting pixels against the wall you now see before you.  Adding my own twist, I researched the Bible verse in question.  What follows is a close approximation of what I then wrote...

"...It is a quote, attributed to Jesus of Nazareth:  'A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.'

Translation:  'I am not a crook.'"

It was that comment, putting the words of Richard Nixon into the mouth of Jesus of Nazareth, that was on my mind when I suggested "Blasphemes."  Now you know.  Remember to scroll.

P.S.... Dan "From The What I Understand It, They Also Considered 'Digressions,' Too" Hicks must go.

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