The Sad Strange Heaven of Harold Camping

The Ruptured Rapture
Perhaps by his own definition, Harold Camping is the very essence of that which he has devoted his near-century of life waging holy war against.

Harold Camping is a false prophet.

Our first Apocalypzia post devoted to Chicken-Little Camping was back in June 2009. This blog was, in fact, launched as a send-up/mash-up of all the end-of-the-world doomsayers out there. Hence, our tagline: The Beginning is Near.

Camping said that his prediction of heavenly ascension and earthly perdition was based in The Word. But when asked to show his work, what came out of Camping's mouth was a jumble of jackleg jargon indistinguishable from numerology, gibberish and Sudoku.

Eschatological Mumbo-Jumbo
Having finessed his way through a previous bungled warning of the coming wrath of God back in 1994, Camping soldiered on and came up with a new and improved drop-dead date. A few years ago, Camping told his followers that he had raised his game and could now assure a 2011 Rapture with a Fed Ex guarantee.

He blamed his 17 year error on not yet being familiar enough with the nuances of his scripture-on-scripture approach to bible study. Now emboldened by his new-found expertise, Camping doubled down on 2011.

It's important to note that Camping didn't just predict a May 21 Rapture, he also predicted an October 21 Armageddon.

And he wasn't just choosing dates on a calendar. He described in specific detail exactly what would happen -- and when -- as the Saved, both alive and dead, ascended into the air with on-time precision at 6pm in each global time zone.

He talked with absolute assurance about how the heaven-bound would transform into glowing glorified bodies. He articulated how those Left Behind would spend the next five months, waiting for worldwide destruction, stumbling through the ejected and mouldering remains of the unforgiven dead.

But an employee of Family Radio, the non-profit (non-prophet?) organization that Camping heads to spread his message, is quoted as saying that relatively few staff members ever bought into the whole Eve of Destruction scenario. For them, working at Family Radio was just a job and a way to pay the rent.

Even Camping's immediate family was unconvinced of the Rapture.

Slam Dunk
Most snake oil salesmen do what they do for money. Some, especially those in politics, do what they do for power and fame. The sad tale of Camping is that he appeared to eat his own dog food. He seemed to actually believe that, had his predicted Rapture not put an end to human history, his name would have been emblazoned alongside all the other blessed prophets chosen by God to hear the whispered secrets of the divine.

As it is, Harold Camping is a flabbergasted and bewildered 89 year old who has wasted his existence soliciting and spending millions of dollars to warn the world of danger that never did, and never would, manifest.

But Camping isn't alone in this folly of crying wolf.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Eight years ago, we were told that, indeed, the world would end unless weapons of mass destruction were wrestled from the soon-to-be-dead hands of Sadaam Hussein. These words were presented to us with no less hubris and certainty than Camping's exclamations about the End-of-Days.

And three years ago, we were told that if we didn't hand over a trillion dollars ransom to thieving Wall Street fat cats, this sucker (an amusing and pathetic metaphor for the global economy) could go down.

The Fire Next Time
As of this writing, Harold Camping has not yet fully emerged from hiding after his not-so-excellent adventure this weekend. He is expected to make an official statement sometime May 23, most likely on his weeknight call-in talk show, Open Forum.

Since May 21, Family Radio has broadcast tapes of old Camping sermons that pre-date his Rapture prediction.

Will he do the right thing today?

Will he fall on his sword and take responsibility for advising the world to forsake their earthly obligations for a chance at an E-Ticket to Paradise?

Or will he, instead, blame the whole fiasco on a media that somehow took his words "out of context?"

Weekend at Harold's
Perhaps he's spent the weekend re-crunching his numbers and has a revised timetable for the end of time.

Or perhaps Brother Camping will pull a Bobby Ewing when he steps out of his Monday morning shower and act as if the non-events of this past weekend have been erased from our collective backstory.

There is evidence that this divine debacle will be swept under the carpet. The Atlantic Wire quotes Camping aide Tom Evans:

"You can imagine we're pretty disappointed but the word of God is still true. We obviously went too far and that's something we have to learn from."

The Not-Yet-Late and Never Great Harold Camping

A May 11 New York Magazine interview with Harold Camping


Women of the Apocalypse: Helen Mirren

Forever Young

In 1975, Helen Mirren participated in a saucy and friction-filled interview with the BBC's Michael Parkinson. She was England's sexy ingenue at the time. There was quite a bit of verbal sparring between the two as Helen chose to define herself rather than allow others to do that for her.

Some thirty years later, Parkinson interviewed Helen again. Notice how the vibe has changed now as Helen over the preceding 30 years has remained sexy in every way yet has redefined the term in the process.

Age of Consent

One of Helen's first major screen roles was in Age of Consent with James Mason. where she played a Lolita type waif. She is charming and gorgeous.


Tools: What It Takes To Do Your Best

If we just had the right tools, everything would be great, right?

If we just had that new gadget, that state-of-the-art latest piece of technology, there would be no stopping us.

Then we could achieve our personal best. Then what we could do would be limited only by our own imagination.


But maybe it doesn't take all that to succeed...

Roger Bannister's Shoes

When it came time for Roger Bannister to Just Do It, he did something that had never been done before.

He ran a mile in less than four minutes. And he didn't do it in $300 Nikes or Pumas. He did it in the shoes pictured here.

As a 25 year old in 1954, Bannister ran a mile in 3:59:40 seconds.

Twenty years later, Bannister was the unfortunate victim of a head-on car collision. Suffering a crushed ankle, he didn't run for decades.

Then he heard about amazing new footwear that might help him run again.

Nike? Puma? Adidas?


A section of a car tire as used by some Kenyan runners to reduce impact.

Bannister, now in his eighties, is back on the road again.

Apollo 11 Computer

There is more computing power in your cellphone than what Neil and Buzz had available when they landed on the moon.

In fact, according to DownSquad.Switched.Com, the 30 year old IBM XT computer that you got rid of years ago had 8 times more memory than the Apollo 11 on-board computer.

The lunar team had 2k of memory and 32k of storage to work with. This, by the way, was an upgrade. Previous Apollo missions had only 24k of storage to work with.

These guys got to the moon with less computing power than the Garmin GPS device we use to get to the mall.

The Beatles Tape Recorder

Beatles songs that were the soundtrack of the Baby Boomer generation and those that followed.

Their first hits were recorded on a BTR (British Tape Recorder) like the one shown above.

The iconic Sergeant Pepper Album was recorded on a 4-track Studer J37, a marvel of its day.

The Garageband application that shipped free with your Mac can record up to 64 tracks.

Studer J37

The Boats of Lewis and Clark

The Lewis and Clark expedition was the Apollo mission of the 19th century.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led their exploration party, boldly, where few had gone before.

President Thomas Jefferson charged Lewis and Clark with finding a navigable cross-continental waterway to the Northwest.

Their journey helped changed the manifest-destiny of the United States.

It was simple, fragile boats like these that carried them on their long, treacherous and historic journey up the Missouri River.

Shakespeare's Quill

William Shakespeare wrote some 37 plays and over 150 sonnets.

He didn't have a computer or an iPad 2 with spellcheck and cut/copy/paste.

He had a quill pen and some ink.

And by the way he did all that he did before dying at the age of 52.

Steve Job's Garage

Apple Computer is the world's most valuable technology company based on market capitalization.

It didn't start in a well-appointed walnut-paneled boardroom or in the strategic planning department of a multi-million dollar hedge fund operation.

It started here, in this garage.

The message for us all: What can we do today with what we've got?


Mr. Trololo Guy

The Real Reason Why the Soviet Union Collapsed?

Stephen Colbert helped to make Eduard Khil a viral video phenomenon not long ago.

Colbert presented one of the most amazing and bizarre lip-sync performances of all time. And since his Comedy Central debut, Khil, born in Smolensk, Russia, has come to be known as Mr. Trololo Guy.

Khil didn't think the actual lyrics this song were all that interesting:

"I'm riding the prairie on my stallion, a mustang as such, and my sweetheart Mary now knits a stocking for me, a thousand miles away from here."

Probably a good call to go with the tro-lo-lo approach.


And just as US singer Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up video became fodder for the clever minds that create YouTube mashup videos, intriguing variations of Mr. Trololo Guy's spirited 1976 performance are all over the internet.

Here are our favorites...


Creepy TV

Being Human is our favorite TV series about all things unhuman

The series -- a kind of Three's Company for the supernatural underworld -- examines the joys and trepidations of a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost sharing a flat in England. It answers the age-old question, can't we all just get along?

Being Human
(the BBC original not the SyFy clone) is smart, witty and intriguing. And Ghost Annie can haunt us anytime.

But the series got us thinking about Creepy TV back in television's more Golden Days.

Creepy TV Hosts

Rod Serling was the best known but there were a slew of program hosts who introduced programs with a chilling and enigmatic monologue.

Alfred Hitchcock: Alfred Hitchcock Theatre

John Newland: One Step Beyond

Roald Dahl: Way Out

Boris Karloff: Thriller

Comedy of Terrors

Before Cable TV and Netflix the only way to see classic scary movies was on some local TV station late on a Saturday night.

These movie nights were often hosted Halloween-style by someone with a way-over-the-top tongue-in-cheek approach to terror.

The talented Elvira. Mistress of the Dark, arguably the most successful of these hosts, went on to national fame and, we hope, fortune.

Here in the Midwest we had Svengoolie and Son of Svengoolie.

When a local Chicago station came up with the idea for Screaming Yellow Theatre, they hired local disk jockey Jerry G. Bishop to host the show.

Jerry concocted the part-beatnik, part-hippie character Svengoolie to do comic bits and sketches during the scary movie breaks.

Enter the Son of Svengoolie

When Jerry G. left the show in the late 1970s, he handed over the reins to one of his young writers, the brilliant and hilarious Rich Koz. He's kept the franchise going, one way or another ever since.

Rich was originally billed as the Son of Svengoolie until a number of years later he was bequeathed, by Jerry G., the full Svengoolie monicker. Now we know him as Sven.

If we were asked to name the funniest five people on television, Rich would be at the top of our list. The man is a genius.

Putting on the Boot

Boogie-Woogie Bogeyman of Berwyn