Heard That?

New Reasons to Have
Nightmares in October

Times have been so scary that not even Halloween spooks kids anymore. Which is fine and won’t spoil the fun out of it. Fake blood? Phony zombies? Made-up vampires? Bring them all on, for who isn’t in badly need of a break these days?
And yet, unlike the ‘horrors’ summoned on Oct. 31, nightmares do exist to torment us. Having one at sleep is haunting, but it’s worst when it keeps vigil and frightens the daylights out of us when we’re wide awaken. Nicely, we prepared a short list of them.
Let’s let the former lie quietly for now, as no one can foresee what a tired mind may conjure when the body finally finds comfort under blankets. Some dreams rattle on, while others slip by unnoticed. But there’s no telling what they’re really about.
The other kind is all around, though. Disturbing visions that palpable reality urges us to bear from dawn to dusk have the added weight of shared experience. How some react to them has often been the stuff wars are fought for, and children are beheaded.
Here are five of the most petrifying, or almost. Not for the feeble of spirit, if there’s even anyone left with such a luxurious prerogative, the bullets of this season’s list are saturated with the fear that a rabid future biting its own tail lies ahead.
It’s not that All Hallows Eve ceased to be a playful way for kids to get acquainted with their ‘dark side.’ Or that there’s no longer sense in make-believe terror. It’s just that the whole world now has gone well beyond what Halloween used to suggest.

Oct. 31 has also been turned into a celebration of the unseen. So-called Dark Matter, that is. 85% of the total mass of the universe remains invisible and undetected, so what you think you know wouldn’t explain the size of the cosmos. Or yours.
It’s out there, though, and one day, yup, it may get you good. For if for an unforeseen event, you’d come into contact with a field full of Wimps, nuclear forces holding your nuclei and protons together would simply vanish, leaving you looking like, well, nothing.
Without something to hold your cells, organs, and body together, needless to say, you’d lose your you-know-what for the very last time. So keep pretending that what you can’t see can’t hurt you at your own risk; the universe doesn’t give a flying… shooting star.

That’s a classic, the creature that shares with bats and black cats the iconographic triad of horror. Except that they’re paralyzingly frightening to over 30% of humans. Now imagine the phobic landing on Aitoliko lagoon, in Greece.
Recently, its lakeside got fully covered by Tetragnatha spider webs. The tiny species, which is not the only one periodically taking over acres of land, does like to spook distracted travelers such as yourself.
Picture yourself sinking your feet into the sticky trends and watching thousands of spiderlings crawling up your legs and calling you daddy. Now, now, they’re not poisonous. And consider it your personal experience of the true spirit of Halloween.

Speaking of weakly particles, as T.S. Eliot once said, the world ends not with a bang but a whimper. For most of us, the prospects for a mass bug extinction may sound more like a relief, and good riddance at that, and not something to care about.
That is, if you’re not into food. Or wouldn’t mind coming across dead bodies laying all over, unable to decay. Animals starving to death and a global collapse of agriculture. And the end for our last food source in case of a climate change-triggered famine. Apart from that, you’d be fine
So, insects may multiply with global warming, but in the end, just like us, may perish exactly because of it. So be careful (more)
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* Stay Awake
* Everything Must Go

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Hairy Halloweeners

Zombies Are no Match to

People’s Phobia of Spiders

Halloween is almost upon us, and the walking dead continue to bury the traditional cast of goblins, ghosts, vampires and werewolves that used to dominate the season, in the hallowed ground of popular imagination. Only one other character packs a bigger fright punch than zombies: spiders.

They’ve been around for millions of years, more species are discovered every day, and unlike all other scary monsters, they’re very much real. And guess what? they’re growing bolder, scarier, and all research done lately has only increased our paralyzing fear of them.

For however beautiful creatures spiders may be, with their intense maternal feelings, their amazing stronger-than-steel silk-making abilities, and their endearing habit of liquefying their prey, they still can’t shake their reputation as overlords of both the crevices of the real world and of our most intimate nightmares.

Science has often come to the rescue of arachnophobes everywhere, who’re helpless to ward off their deep-seated fear of these crawlers. Discoveries in medicine and promising psychological therapies have been developed in order to find ways of soothing such fears, to not much avail, we must say.

For example, the lethal poison of the Brazilian Wandering spider, for which there’s no antidote, may one day replace Viagra-like therapies in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, according to a recent study. Great, right? But then, along comes the Trogloraptor marchingtoni, or ‘cave robber,’ a recently discovered species with a horrendous set of claws, and we’re back into our fetal position.


Two separate studies about our fear of spiders and snakes, have concluded that, first, it may date back to early mammals, who had to quickly identify sources of potential harm, in order to survive in a world dominated by reptiles. Secondly, being afraid of them also distorts our perception of their size and we wound up thinking they’re bigger than they really are.

Both studies may one day lead to new therapies to easy people’s phobias against the two species. That’s wonderful. Until you read about a woman who had a spider living inside her ear for a week, and the hair behind your neck goes into instant shock mode. Even if there are questions as to whether this really happened, just the thought of it makes us literally cover our ears, say, forever.

And more. From the mild-fear inducing spectacle of watching a spider molt, to the invasion of large, biting ones that happened last summer in Gauhati, India, to their remarkable ability of not just walking on their sticky webs without getting glued to it, but dousing them with poison, so to keep ants off them, we keep learning more and more about spiders.

Generally scary things, of course. So, even though there’s merit in using an imaginary invasion of zombies to educate the public for a potential virus outbreak, as done by the CDC recently, all we can say is: we don’t need no stinking zombies to feel utterly terrified. And, as with every phobia, we can’t get enough of it.


So during Halloween, along with all creepy but mostly fictional creatures that are part of the fun of it, there’s one critter that’s not just real, but scarier for a percentage of the population. For these folks, the ‘eight-leg freaks’ surpass even the fear of the walking dead, and many would be glad to spend a night at a cemetery but never in a room they knew there was a spider hidden somewhere.

For us, the final straw happened just the other day, live during a news broadcast program in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Todd Kunz, the anchor, was delivering the news when a spider started a long, skin-tingling descent and landed right next to his lapel mike. Kunz haven’t lost his composure, brave man. We would’ve screamed so hard we bet the studio floodlights would have exploded.

It took us a while to recover, but now we’re happy to report that we’re fine, calm, and collected. Incidentally, we’re about to watch our favorite seasonal movie, one that we’ve been watching at least twice a year since it came out. A real classic and our personal favorite. Great story, wonderful actors. A family movie, really. We’re about to press play to watch yet again, Arachnophobia.


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