Japanese folklore and horror stories are known for their psychologically terrifying ghosts and monsters that prey on the minds and bodies of humans. But there’s also a lighter side to Japanese folklore, where bumbling spirits cause only mild annoyance, actually enhance your daily life, and otherwise generally botch the whole job of haunting mankind and teaching vague moral lessons about treating your parents with respect and such. 8 Hilariously Nonthreatening Monsters from Japanese Folklore
posted by timshel
on Jan 28, 2014 -
According to legend, back in the bad old days of the 10th C, Bishop Hatto
(actually Archbishop of Mainz), decided to deal with excess mouths during a famine by burning said people alive. In retribution, he was eaten alive by a horde of angry mice, supposedly in the Mausturm
near Bingen. The story ended up in Baring-Gould's Curious Myths of the Middle Ages
) and has been widely celebrated in poetry, much of it awful
. It probably was an influence on Lovecraft's story "The Rats in the Walls." [more inside]
posted by GenjiandProust
on Feb 27, 2010 -
When the Mongols invaded Russia
in the 13th century, legend
has it that when they reached the northern city of Kitezh
, the citizens, rather than defending themselves, "engaged in fervent praying, asking god for their redemption. On seeing this, the Mongols rushed to the attack, but then stopped. Suddenly, they saw countless fountains of water bursting from under the ground all around them. The attackers fell back and watched the town submerge into the lake." Ever since, Kitezh
has provided Russians "a platform for imagining what their culture might have been like, had it not been stamped by authoritarian rule." And it gave Rimsky-Korsakov the plot
of his opera the Tale of the Invisible City of Kitezh
. [More inside.]
posted by languagehat
on Apr 19, 2006 -
For all the hoo-ha about Callas first bringing real acting to the operatic stage, one has only to view the footage of Risë Stevens legendary 1952 “Carmen” to see what kind of Method she brought to the Met. Stevens was the definitive gypsy wanton, and her performance has it all— fire, ice, and that impossible balance between elegance and sluttiness. Her technique is superb—licking her fingers before extinguishing the candles in what will be her death chamber, then flicking off the wax; flinging her unwanted lover’s ring at him, spitting out a contemptuous
The Metropolitan Opera Guild honors
the Bronx-born singer
, now 92. More inside.
posted by matteo
on Feb 9, 2006 -
San Carlo of the Symphony.
Il Maestro Carlo Maria Giulini
, orchestra conductor who passed away Tuesday at 91 "had an almost uncanny ability to transform the sound of an orchestra, any orchestra, into a dark and intense glow, which became his trademark over the years". "We have lost one of the greatest musicians of our time," says Esa-Pekka Salonen (.pdf)
, music director of the LA Philharmonic. Giulini has been called "the last humanist", a gentle man beloved by his orchestras, so humble in his approach to music that, always feeling the necessity to "fathom" each new work, it wasn't until the 1960s that he finally felt ready to conduct Bach, or the symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven. This from a man who, at the beginning of his career (as a viola player) had played under Richard Strauss. "I had the great privilege to be a member of an orchestra," Giulini said in 1982. "I still belong to the body of the orchestra
. When I hear the phrase, 'The orchestra is an instrument,' I get mad. It's a group of human beings who play instruments." More inside.
posted by matteo
on Jun 16, 2005 -
"Who is this Loretta Lynn chick, anyway?". Jack White
, in a skintight, red cowboy suit
, seemed a little nervous when he came out to introduce his opening act. So nervous, in fact, that the White Stripes frontman offered a cautionary preface of sorts to the massive huddle of young fans at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. "Now I want you all to be very nice to my next guest. I think she's the greatest female singer-songwriter of the 20th century
,". The crowd looked around at each other, visibly puzzled.
, Loretta Lynn
has found her Rick Rubin
. Finally. Much like the producer who revitalized
Johnny Cash's career
with spare, homespun recordings
, White has raised the notion of Loretta Lynn
as a hip, renegade country artist. The transformation is of the same magnitude as Emmylou Harris's ethereal work with Daniel Lanois
in the mid-'90s.
posted by matteo
on Apr 27, 2004 -
Did UFO's originate in Ancient India?
According to Indian legend, the kingdom of Rama existed at the same time as the lost kingdom of Atlantis
. Both kingdoms developed airships that could fly not only between countries, but also into outerspace. The Indian ships, called Vimanas
, are described in many ancient manuscripts, and perhaps most spectacularly in the Mahabarata
, in which some believe there is a description of an ancient nuclear war
. Is it possible that such technology could have been lost in antiquity
, or kept in the posession of some "secret society"? Fascinating stuff...
posted by greengrl
on Jul 3, 2003 -
The Camelot Project
A wonderful collection of Arthurian images, e-texts, and bibliographies, comprising everything from the Alliterative Morte Arthure
to the eccentric Robert Stephen Hawker's "The Quest for the Sangraal." See also this
extensive two-part list of on-line Arthurian resources, courtesy of Kathleen L. Nichols (Pittsburg State University).
posted by thomas j wise
on Apr 20, 2003 -
The Mystery Pit of Oak Island.
In 1795, two boys found a treasure map on Oak Island, on the coast of Nova Scotia; two hundred years, tens of millions of dollars and six lives later, the island is nearly obliterated with holes and excavations, and no one is any richer... The story of Oak Island makes a fine allegory for pursuing phantom riches at the expense of all else, in addition to just making a damn fine story.
posted by jonson
on Jan 9, 2003 -
Robert Jr. Lockwood
is alive , well and still playing and recording. He
learned guitar from Robert Johnson when the latter was hanging with Robert Jr’s mom—hence the Jr—and cut his first 78 in 1941. Yet he’s just 2nd generation
. From the first, Henry Townsend
is still alive and playing
, but at 91, doesn't travel that much anymore. Then there is David "Honeyboy" Edwards
knew Robert Johnson as well--and Tommy McClennan and Robert Petway, too, which is way more impressive to me. He still plays and records, too, in very recent times in the company
of Lockwood and Townsend. And in the third generation, you have Johnny Otis
, still alive and kicking, complete with virtual mall
. Ike Turner
was Howlin’ Wolf’s A&R and piano player when the Wolf cut his first sides for Sam Phillips’ company before Sun, RPM. A helluva a piano player coughAudionotfarfromherecough—apart from the sordid details
of his personal life
, Ike Turner
is, as the aforementioned, a giant in the history of that nearly dead style—the Blues. Alive, playing and recording. Hell, writing, autobiographies, too—Edwards
, at least. (and whew, Turner’s is, well, explicit
…) If this were Japan, these guys would be registered as cultural treasures. So why’s everybody wasting their money on some overproduced, overhyped mere johnnyonenote journeyman (if not hack) like R.L. Burnside?
Not an obituary, by any means, but a heads up and props to the surviving masters—and you may have a chance to see the real thing someday soon. But note that, all in all, offer ends... sometime.
posted by y2karl
on Apr 5, 2002 -