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OKLAHOMA CITY – We were in a car in the vicinity of Joplin, Missouri - something I noted in my mind in that it is on that nexus of high weirdness 37 degrees north and 94 degrees west (which I recently addressed here) – and nuclear explosions, followed by menacing mushroom clouds, are going off at various intervals. (Read my review of Ben Mezrich's recent book The 37th Parallel here).

And yet as the nuclear blasts send radioactive debris through the town and infecting everything in its path, I see to be the only one alarmed by what is happening around us. The whole experience has the feeling of a guided tour through a park or historic site. I recall seeing a Kroger grocery store and wondering if people were actually going to eat the radioactive food. It was as if everyone was blind or in a stupor and didn’t comprehend the catastrophic destruction taking place all around them.

And then there was the fact that this dream was taking place in Joplin, which is on both Route 66 which runs through Oklahoma City, of course (“The famous old American highway Route 66 was laid out by Freemasons with the apparent intention of sending masses of automobile riders into a self-processing, occult trip” – Michael Hoffman II, Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare) and on the occult-tinged Kansas City Southern Railroad line, as we have previously noted in regards to its creator, 19th century railroad titan Arthur Stilwell. Also check out "Smithereenies."

Joplin, readers may recall, was struck by a devastating EF5 monster tornado on May 22, 2011, causing absolute devastation to the city – which serves the four-state area of Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma – and ultimately 161 people died and millions in damage.

Joplin, Missouri is noted in the November 20, 1983 TV film The Day After about a fictional nuclear exchange between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. This film has been coming up a lot for me lately as I recently noted here at Dust Devil Dreams in my piece “Kick.”

This scene from The Day After (1983) very similar to scenes in my dream also taking place in Missouri. (ABC Motion Pictures)

I want to also note that Joplin straddles both Newton and Jasper counties in Missouri, and near the location of the so-called "Spook Light." These counties are named after two Revolutionary War heroes, Sgt. John Newton and Sgt. William Jasper (although questions remain about the authenticity of Newton’s reportedly heroic efforts against the British in Savannah, Georgia).

Anyway, in the captivating and shocking film, actor Steve Guttenberg plays a University of Kansas student hitchhiking home to Joplin when the nuclear strikes hit the Kansas City area (on the infamous 94 degrees of longitude west) and areas along the Kansas-Missouri borderlands. This region, historically, was known for clashes between anti-slavery Kansans called “Jayhawkers” and pro-slavery Missourians called “Border Ruffians.”

But taking things to the present – or at least to this past Saturday, lets travel 524 miles south, along the 94 degrees of longitude, to Burkeville, Texas. It was in this town, on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2017, that a woman in Burkeville survived a tornado by hiding in a bathtub, as reported by The Washington Post.

AS meteorologist Jason Hansford told the Post: “She heard the tornado warning come out and she took cover in the tub in her bathroom,” he said. “The only thing she remembers is that the tornado came in from the southwest across her home. At that point the whole backside of her house was sheared off. Her bath tub was ripped out of her bathroom and she ended up still in her tub in some woods near her home.

Hansford said he didn’t know exactly how far the women, who he estimated was in her 60s, was thrown. Except for some cuts and bruises, “she was uninjured but emotionally shaken,” he said, adding that her house was totaled.

This stands out as one of the most incredible tornado survival stories I’ve read. In the absence of an underground storm shelter, meteorologists frequently tell people to shelter in a bathtub during a tornado because it is heavy and typically well-secured.

This then reminded me of a somewhat over-the-top and absurd scene in the 2008 film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a film I actually really like. After Soviets kidnap Indy and others at “Warehouse 51” (Area 51) in Nevada, he escapes to a “model town” on the Nevada Test Site just minutes before an atomic bomb test is to take place. I note it in my May 11, 2015 Dust Devil Dreams piece "Otisburg."

Indy manages to hide in a lead-lined refrigerator and survive the atomic blast. It has since been panned as “nuking the fridge,” akin to “jumping the shark,” when a franchise passes its peak and goes into the absurd, not unlike Happy Days and Fonzie “jumping a shark” in the notorious 1977 episode.

Indiana Jones survives an atomic bomb blast test in 1950's Nevada. (Paramount Pictures)

That, of course, reminds me of the Weezer song “Buddy Holly” – with an accompanying video using the Happy Days set as background - where Rivers Cuomo sings about sync figure Buddy Holly and actress Mary Tyler Moore, who passed away this week at the age of 80 (and synchromystically enough, I was looking up old stories to link alongside this story and the top story - oddly enough, and rather inexplicably, was this 2012 story about Happy Days star Erin Moran, who played Joanie Cunningham, who had fallen on hard times - I had a crush on her at the time and she appears in the "Buddy Holly" video).

Interestingly, Moran's co-star in the Happy Days spin-off, Joanie Loves Chachi, Scott Baio, was in the news last month after being aggressively confronted by the wife of Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith for being a supporter of Donald Trump.

Joanie loves Weezer drummer Patrick Wilson in the "Buddy Holly" video.

Oo-ee-oo I look just like Buddy Holly
Oh-oh, and you're Mary Tyler Moore
I don't care what they say about us anyway
I don't care bout that
 “

But back to Indiana Jones and “nuking the fridge,” the story of the woman in the Burkeville tornado tub reminded me of that scene.

Oh, and that Burkeville tornado took place in ... Newton County, Texas. Yes, it is named after the same shady Revolutionary War hero Sgt. John Newton. Just like Newton County, Mo., where Joplin is located.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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