By MALCOLM MAYHEW, STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER
Tuesday has some people scared sixless.
More than just the sixth day of the sixth month of the year 2006, it's the date when day, month and year give us the seemingly deviant digits: 666.
No other number, in the history of numbers, has caused such a stir and scare. Thanks to pop culture's interpretation of the biblical reference to the "number of the beast," June 6, 2006, is bringing new meaning to the phrase "day from hell."
The Hollywood hyperbole is well-prepared: Tuesday will see the release of the movie The Omen, a remake of the 1976 movie that made some people nutty about the numbers 666 to begin with; supposedly evil rock bands will unleash new albums; and writer Ann Coulter will spew forth a new book.
Quick, everybody, hide your eyes!
To better prepare you for tomorrow's swirl of Satanism and silliness, we have prepared a guide to all things 666-related. And you'd better read it now -- who knows if you'll be possessed at the stroke of midnight tonight and, you know, won't be able to read or something.
The origins of 666 are rooted in the Christian Bible's book of Revelation. Revelation 13:18 says: "Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six."
The "Beast" is the "anti-Christ." The "anti-Christ," as the label would imply, is the opposite of God. The "anti-Christ," many believe, will come to Earth and bring chaos, horror and more evil than a William Shatner CD.
According to the Rev. Mark Hitchcock, when the Beast arrives, people will be forced to institute a number on their bodies, making us essentially walking credit cards.
"This anti-Christ figure will force everyone to devote their allegiance to him and take his number on their forehead or right hand," says Hitchcock, a pastor at Faith Bible Church in Edmond, Okla., and author of 15 prophecy books. "If you don't take the number, you won't be able to buy or sell anything. The number is your personal allegiance to the anti-Christ and also your passport to commerce."
Hitchcock says that this isn't coming anytime soon, as in tomorrow.
"The number 666 has nothing to do with a specific date," he says. "It has to do with the person's name. Each one of [the Beast's] names has six letters in it. That's what 666 symbolizes."
Name that Beast
If Hitchcock's beliefs -- which are as shared as they are disputed by various Christian and non-Christian groups -- are true, one could spend a dangerous amount of time trying to find the person who will be the Beast.
Former President Ronald Wilson Reagan was thought to be the Beast by certain religious groups. Each of his names contains six letters. "People have tried to tie the anti-Christ to just about everyone -- Clinton, Kennedy, whoever they don't like," says Hitchcock. "... But really, we're not going to know who he is until after the Rapture."
That's another story.
When you've got an evil cough ...
... try 666 Cough Syrup. True story: There was once a line of medical products called 666. They are no longer available at retail stores, according to a Web site that posted this excuse: "Due to FDA guidelines, these products have been stopped on our Web site."
Online auction site eBay, however, has a couple of the 666 cough drops. Current bid is $9.99.
Many higher-ups in the entertainment industry are taking advantage of 666 hysteria by unveiling diabolical products Tuesday. Such as:
The Omen, a remake of the 1976 movie about an American ambassador who soon learns his young son is the Beast. The original movie, which starred Gregory Peck, was sneak-previewed to U.S. audiences on, yes, June 6, 1976.
David Lee Roth will release his new album, Strummin' With the Devil, that day. It's a collection of Van Halen songs done up bluegrass-style.
Other sinister performers have albums coming out tomorrow, including controversial rapper Ice Cube's Laugh Now, Cry Later; death-metal band As Blood Runs Black's Allegiance; and frighteningly loud metal act Deicide's The Stench of Redemption.
Writer/liberal-basher Ann Coulter, will release her new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism. According to a story in the Mississippi Sun Herald, Coulter recently told Fox News that tomorrow's release date is a "little tribute to liberals."
Most celebrities probably look forward to their birthdays -- lots of neat presents from equally rich friends. But a handful may be trying to keep their birthdays quiet this year, because they fall on this dreadful day. Among them: actors Colin Quinn, Paul Giamatti and Robert Englund, pop-rock singer Uncle Kracker and comedian Sandra Bernhard.
666: Music to their ears
Hoping their Satanic shtick will stick to the charts, several hard-rock and metal bands have incorporated the 666 slogan into their music and messages. Goth band HIM has a crush on 666: They named their 1996 EP 666 WaysTo Love, then followed it, a year later, with Greatest Love Songs, Vol. 666. Three bands have songs called Route 666: Helltrain, the Deadcats and Godzilla Flip. This is not to mention all the 666 imagery conjured up by longtime-evil-lovers such as Black Sabbath and Danzig.
British metal band Iron Maiden had the biggest hit with 666: The Number of the Beast. The 1982 album sold millions and spawned a single of the same name. A sample of its lyrics: "666, the number of the Beast. 666, the one for you and me." Hey, maybe their singer is the Beast.
Not everybody is taking 06-06-06 seriously. Many are making jokes about this potential doomsday. And many are very funny, such as these excerpts from various Web sites:
Phillips 666 -- gasoline of the Beast
Word 6.66 -- Word Processor of the Beast i666i -- BMW of the Beast
6 ... Uh, what was that number again? Number of the Blonde Beast
$665.95 -- retail price of the Beast
$656.66 -- Price of the Beast
$646.66 -- Next week's price of the Beast.
Sorry, wrong number
Unfortunately for metal bands who have built their careers on spooky 666 imagery, Satanists who pray to various 666 entities and knuckleheads who bear triple-6 tattoos, there is now speculation that the number of the beast is actually 616.
Last year, several reputable news agencies reported that a newly discovered fragment of the book of Revelation reveals that the mark of evil is off by 50. According to WorldNetDaily.com, scholars in England were using an imaging process to examine the sacred text when they made the 616 discovery.
"Scholars have argued for a long time over this," a professor told Canada's National Post, according to the World Net Daily's Web site. "And it now seems that 616 was the original number of the Beast."
Now, that's a hell of a mistake.