I suppose it was inevitable.
I'm losing my sense of wonder. Yes, I know the shadow of the Moon will sweep across North America on Monday, bringing a few moments of darkness to the middle of the day in a rare event swathed in splendor and wonder.
Truth is, if I was forced to choose between watching a new episode of 'Rick and Morty' and viewing the eclipse, I'd seat myself comfortably and silence my phone, because...Rick and Morty. Every time.
So where did I go wrong? Is my lack of awe the result of age, or creeping cynicism, or just sheer laziness?
Heck if I know. But, since so many people are genuinely excited about the eclipse, here are my tips and tricks for viewing it safely. Have fun, and remember, you cast a shadow too pretty much all the time. But hey, to each his own.
WHAT CAUSES AN ECLIPSE?
Scientists will tell you the eclipse is caused when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, thus casting a moving shadow upon the land.
Sure. That's what they WANT you to believe. But as our friends the Flat Earthers teach us, this is poppycock and doggerel. What's really happening, you ask?
In reality, a great battle will take place between the Ascended Spoon-Flingers of Seventh Hell and the sinister celestial armies of the seraphim, the Nephilim, and the Nephilim Ladies' Auxiliary, whose combined forces are referred to in ancient texts as the 'Haints and Boogers.' This epic clash between the forces of light and darkness will, for a few moments, blot out the Sun, plunging the Earth into chaos and confusion.
Oops. Okay, looks like the 'chaos and confusion' bit got here a few years early. Anyway.
As the battle rages, darkness will fall. Or, more accurately, move in a mathematically predictable path across the Earth's surface. Given the average human's grasp of celestial mechanics, this will be pretty scary. In ancient times, this roaming circle of midnight would be greeted with human sacrifice, with terror, with shouted imprecations toward cold, unfeeling gods who themselves fled from the malevolent darkness.
Today, it's met with mass purchases of overpriced and highly suspect eclipse glasses, which are manufactured with less care to technical precision than a midnight-shift batch of Gummi Bears. But hey, you KNOW you can trust those high-dollar cardboard sunshades, because Ebay is the foremost purveyor of medical devices, right?
But I digress.
Far above the Flat Earth, a battle will rage. Unimaginable arcane forces will be hurled. Good shall strike at the dark heart of Evil, and Evil will look up from the comments section of YouTube and hurl something nasty involving snakes and hemorrhoids right back. Angels will fall. Demons will perish. You may experience brief pixelation events on your satellite TV, or persistent dryness of eyes and mouth. Small hotels in the path of totality will be blessed with massive but short-lived profits. Dogs will bark. Birds will call up unto the wounded sky, crying out in the ancient tongue, hey, knock it off, we're trying to lay eggs down here.
Such are the ways of the Old Ones. Quail, mortal! Fall to your knees, being careful not to spill your latte, for primal energies writhe and coil about you.
Then, after about two minutes, everything will return to normal. Look, since worship of the Old Ones has shrunk pretty much to particularly spirited D&D games, budgets aren't what they once were.
I may even look up from Rick and Morty, and honor the celestial marvel with an eye-roll and a sigh of annoyance at all the racket.
WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO VIEW THE ECLIPSE?
The best time to view the eclipse is the next day, when you're bored, and have two minutes and access to the net. Just click on one of the 11,789,345 available eclipse videos and enjoy the spectacle from the comfort of your donut-encrusted lair. Wow, see that? It got dark. The sun's disc changed shape. Awesome. Hey look, kittens playing with a Gummi Bear!
But if you insist on viewing the eclipse as it occurs, BE SAFE. Those Dollar Tree visors are probably not what they're cracked up to be.
You know the Sun is a blazing ball of fusing hydrogen dumping out enough energy every second to incinerate a billion times a hundred billion pairs of beady little human eyes, right? That's fusion taking place up there. Even the Nephilim wear Kevlar robes when they decide to make a close pass.
The best way to view this event is by projection, and you've already got all the stuff you need, right there in your kitchen. A cereal box. Heck, basically ANY cardboard box. A piece of aluminum foil. Tape. Scissors. Maybe a razor knife.
Here's how you do it.
1) Cut out one end the box. That's where the scissors come into play. Leave your blowtorch in the garage. If you're using a cereal box, I suggest cutting off the top, because it's a mess anyway. I suppose there are people who start their day by carefully opening the flaps and tabs and then closing them neatly after the Count Chocula is dispensed, but I've got things to do so I just tear into the thing with all the finesse of a rabid leopard. Anyway, remove one end.
2) Replace the box end you just removed with a nice flat sheet of white paper. Typing paper? Cool. White cardboard? Equally effective. Just so it's flat.
3) You did empty the box of cereal, right? Okay. Good. Just checking, because not everyone thinks these things through, ARNOLD.
4) On the OTHER end of the box, tape it over, sealing it. You need two more openings, each about two inches square, one on each side. Precision isn't really important here.
5) Okay, now it gets all technical. The opening on the RIGHT side of the lid will be the viewing port. Leave it alone.
6) Cover the opening on the LEFT side with a smooth-ish square of aluminum foil. Tape it down tight.
7) In the center of the foil, take a needle, a small nail, or a pin and carefully poke a small hole in the foil. The bigger the hole, the larger the image -- but for every increase in pinhole size, you add a bit of fuzziness to the projected image.
8) You're done. To view the eclipse safely, stand facing away from the sun. Hold the box up over your left shoulder and aim the pinhole at the Sun while looking through the viewing hole. Orient the box so that an image of the sun is projected on the far back of the box, right onto the white paper you taped there in Step 2.
9) Enjoy the raging battle in the Heavens. Those screams you may hear are those of the people who chose poorly when buying their silly eclipse glasses.
Below are pictures of the box I made, as a visual reference.
The projected image is probably going to be the size of a pencil eraser. If you're looking for a mind-blowing visual experience, quick, run out and drop three or four grand on high-end telescopes and solar viewing gear. Otherwise, you're messing around with boxes and tape, so don't expect too much.
The moments following the eclipse are the best time to pick a few pockets as the people permanently maimed by those bargain-bin eclipse glasses writhe in agony on the ground.
Yep, it's a world of wonder out there. Darkness in the afternoon, big rocks moving in circles, strange shadows cast briefly upon the ground. What's next? Regular tides? Wind?
Call me when sand dunes start break dancing.
I leave you with a brief clip of a truly amazing confrontation between the ancient forces of Science and Evil. Beware, mortal, this is not for the faint of heart...