666 -- It's not just for Satan anymore
By Dan Nailen, The Salt Lake Tribune
If you suffer from hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia and you still make it outside Tuesday made it outside today to pick up your paper and read this story, congratulations.
Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia - yes, it's a real word - is fear of the number 666, also known as "the number of the beast" in reference to a passage in The Bible's Book of Revelation. Theories on what the number means are numerous and contradictory in the collective mind of pop-culture enthusiasts, historians and theologians, and Tuesday's date - 6/6/06 - means different things to different people.
For some of the doomsday-minded, the date is one of many signposts on the path toward Armageddon. For Hollywood, 6/6/6 provides a perfect marketing angle for the latest horror-flick remake; "The Omen" opens across the country Tuesdaytoday, and features an evil young boy sporting the "mark of the beast." For rock bands such as the goth-inspired A.F.I., 6/6/6 is the ideal date to release a new album, and the devilish metal band Slayer was set to launch its "Unholy Alliance" tour Tuesdaytoday until medical issues delayed the jaunt.
Conservative political pundit Ann Coulter is using 6/6/6 as the release date for her latest left-bashing screed Godless: The Church of Liberalism, an event many liberals will no doubt gladly chalk up to evil's influence. The proprietors of Chicago's Internet-based "Radio Free Satan" are hosting a massive party in Los Angeles for "Satan's Rockin' 666 Eve," and one online gambling site, after factoring in "a number of biblical and historical elements," has come up with odds on whether 6/6/6 will be the start of the apocalypse; those odds currently stand at 10 to one.
Salt Lake City couple Jason Harris and Kim Adams will always remember 6/6/6 as something more than a marketing gimmick or bit of religious hysteria. They'll remember it as their wedding day, and picking a date with such a creepy-crawly stigma attached came as no accident for the couple that owns a horror and gore-obsessed store, The Redrum Shop, in Murray.
"It's always been fine with me," said Adams, a 39-year-old Salt Lake City native, of the date suggested by her fiance. "My mother didn't like it so much. At first she didn't associate it with the date at all, but then someone told her, 'Oooh, that's the devil's date!' She didn't ever ask me, but she was asking my niece if we were devil worshippers now."
"We're not religious one way or the other," added the 32-year-old Harris, who said the couple was considering getting married last Halloween until they realized the "once in a lifetime" chance to get married on 6/6/6. "We're not Christian. We're not Satanic. But  causes such an uproar that, to me, it's always been funny. I had a shirt from The Heavy Metal Shop that said '666' and I got my ass kicked for wearing it. And my mom and dad kind of freak out about it."
Mark Hitchcock, a biblical scholar, expert in Bible prophecy and Evangelical Christian pastor in Oklahoma, doesn't think any of Adams' or Harris' relatives have anything to worry about with a 6/6/6 wedding, biblically speaking. So wedding guests can feel free to enjoy the reception slated for the Rocky Point Haunted House cemetery, complete with monster-mash bands, skull centerpieces, zombie-costumed guests and a two-tiered wedding cake covered in dripping-blood frosting and figurines of classic horror-flick characters like Leatherface from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and Jason from the "Friday the 13th" films.
"What's going on right now is two things," Hitchcock said about all the attention focused on Tuesday's today's date. "One is just superstition, and the other is marketing. Mainly marketing."
Storm Anderson, a Salt Lake City tattoo artist and one of the guests for Harris and Adams' wedding, is using the 6/6/6 hysteria to help promote a "SLC 666 Eve" party at The Cell Block. Anderson's studied Anton LaVey's The Satanic Bible, and while he's not an official member of the Church of Satan, he agrees with much of the church's philosophical points. The Church of Satan's Web site features a post on its attitude about Tuesday's today's date - "For Satanists, numbers are just numbers, and June 6, 2006, is a day like any other" - and Anderson agrees that the most significant thing about the day is an excuse to hold a good party.
"We thought it would be really unique to combine the idea of a New Year's party with Halloween," Anderson said. "So people are going to be dressing up, and we're going to have a big countdown. At midnight, 'Happy 666!' "
Hitchcock, though, said that while it's fun to have some fun with today's date, people need to recognize that what Revelations states, that an Anti-Christ represented by the number 666 will arrive on Earth on day as prophesied in The Bible.
"This man will make everybody in the world take this number on their right hand to be able to buy or sell," Hitchcock said. "That's why it's called the 'mark of the beast.' It's actually going to be marked on people on their right hand or forehead. They'll have to have that to buy or sell, so basically he'll control world commerce.
"People need to remember that the reality of this is still out there. It's not all superstition. There is a reality ultimately that's going to come to pass.
All the conflicting beliefs regarding the significance of the number 666 start with The Bible, specifically Revelation 13:16-18, which states "it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the numbers of its name. This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six."
One common interpretation is that the number seven is considered the "perfect number" or "God's number," and six is "man's number" and "imperfect." Three sixes together, reflecting the Holy Trinity, would therefore be considered "extremely imperfect." Another common interpretation is that the author of Revelation, believed by many to be John the Apostle, was simply using code to refer to Roman Emperor Nero.
A little sniffing around the Internet, primarily at http://www.answers.com, revealed these 666-related "facts:"
- The last leg of U.S. Highway 666, running from Monticello, Utah, to Gallup, N.M., was renamed in 2003.
- Some conspiracy-minded citizens saw the Antichrist in former President Ronald Wilson Reagan because each of his names has six letters. Also, the Bel Air home where Reagan moved after leaving the White House had a street address of 666 until wife Nancy had the city change it to 668.
- In "Pulp Fiction," the combination 666 opens the briefcase John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson pick up for Ving Rhames.
- The numbers on a roulette table, 1 to 36, add up to 666.
- In "The Phantom of the Opera" stage musical and recent feature film, the chandelier auctioned at the beginning of the story has a lot number of 666.
- The first Apple computer sold for $666 (and 66 cents).
- Stanley Kubrick, director of "2001: A Space Odyssey," died 666 days before Jan. 1, 2001.
- Anti-impotence drug Viagra has a molecular weight of 666.7 g/mol.
- In Japan, the yen comes in coins of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500. If you have one of each coin, you have 666 yen.
- The sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is "waw" or "vav," the closest approximation of the English letter "w." Put three of those sixth letters together, and we're looking at www -- that's right, the World Wide Web could be one giant ode to "the number of the beast."