Common knowledge about squirrels is that they are basically furry rats. Yes, they are adorable in an amnesiac sort of way, what with their inability to remember where they buried their nuts, but the modern squirrel is not typically considered a manifestation of anything monstrous. Interestingly, much like Coca-Cola and Pop Rocks, if you combine Viking aesthetics with squirrels, you produce a malevolent little rodent called Ratatoskr (“Drill Tooth” in Old Norse) that spends his days spreading malicious gossip and trying to start a fight between the eagle at the top of the World Tree Yggdrasil and the angry Wyrm beneath called Níðhöggr, generally with phrases like, “Did you hear what he said about your mother?”
The term "fakelore" has one basic core definition: modern tales that are similar to true folklore, the stories and traditions of a culture or group. But there are a few different takes on what exactly fakelore is, from the anti-alcohol lessons inserted in the modified fairy tales re-written and illustrated by George Cruikshank, which earned Horatian satire from Charles Dickens, to Paul Bunyan (the Red River Lumber Company produced the most well-known material; full scans - but this hasn't kept people from giving him a grave marker) and Pecos Bill (Google books preview), who were created as for marketing purposes or to replicate traditional tall tales, and more recently 'so-called "multicultural folktale" picture books [that] are a popular means for teaching about other cultures, especially in the primary grades.'
"It is somewhat of a mystery why the English-speaking world has had to wait until 1981 for the first translation of the Deutsche Sagen (German Legends) by the Brothers Grimm. After all, the Legends, which first appeared in 1816 and 1818, were translated into French, Danish, and even Rumanian in the nineteenth century, and have always been considered a vital source book for folklorists and critics alike. Perhaps we have always assumed that the German Legends had been translated since many of them are known through romances, novels, adaptations, selective translations, films, comic books, and references in critical studies. The two most famous examples are Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser and Robert Browning's 'The Children of Hameln.'"-Jack Zipes, in an approving review of Donald Ward's translation of the Legends. Ward's work has since fallen out of print, but you can read select legends at the eclectic Golden Scales folktale collection.
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
Alan Garner's Weirdstone of Brisingamen trilogy is to be concluded with Boneland, over 50 years after it started.
RIP Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins - "It is with deep sadness that we announce Pinetop Perkins passed away peacefully at home on Monday, March 21, 2011 in Austin, TX at the age of 97." One of the last great Mississippi bluesmen, having played with Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Nighthawk, and for a number of years, the great Muddy Waters. Pinetop & friends at his 95th birthday; Pinetop Perkins with Willie Big Eyed Smith; Muddy Waters with Pinetop Perkins, 1970s [more inside]
In the time of the Chou Dynasty it was believed there existed Ten Celestial Suns. Each day, one sun would be harnessed to a jade dragon and drawn across the heavens, bringing life and light to the world. It was their duty, all they had known - but in their hearts a cold and secret fire grew... [more inside]
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 (print wiki) 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]
Legends of Zork. Opening today is the latest incarnation of the venerable Zork franchise, a Kingdom of Loathing-style browser game set in the Great Underground Empire. Free to play but does sell 'perks', requires registration.
Indiana Jones and... the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls? Actor Shia LaBeouf announced the title of the new Indiana Jones movie at the MTV Video Music Awards. But what was George Lucas' inspiration? Where did these Crystal Skulls come from? These ancient objects have been referenced in many places, including an episode of StarGate SG-1, imaginatively titled "Crystal Skull". There is also a Festival and a not-for-profit Foundation dedicated to researching these artifacts.
What are the greatest hoaxes in rock history? [MP3 links] They Might be Giants' John Flansburg tells John Schaefer what he knows, and Rolling Stone readers weigh in as well. Was it Mama Cass choking on a sandwich? Jack and Meg White as siblings? Paul dead (again)? Keith Richards getting his blood replaced? Or snorting his father's ashes? Oh, wait, that last one was true.
John Hoagland was the legendary war (warning: GRAPHIC) photographer who was killed in El Salvador in 1984 (his last six frames are a record of his own death). He was 36. Now his son, war photographer Eros Hoagland, has a gallery show in New York: "Tijuana". (via)
After nearly 70 years, blues legend Robert Johnson's guitar has recently surfaced. It's up for sale, but you may need to sell your soul to afford it. Maybe Legba will lend you the purchse price. [more]
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.]
Himmapan.com features illustrations and photos of artistic depictions of the creatures of the legendary Himmapan (or Himapan/Himaphan) Forest of the Himalayas. Fantastic chimeras of Asian mythology.
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 “Tiens!”. The Metropolitan Opera Guild honors the Bronx-born singer, now 92. More inside.
How to pitch a no-hitter while on acid. Lessons from the career of baseball legend Dock Ellis.
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.
Don Juan Nifty guide to the Don Juan legend in European literature.
"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. In White, Loretta Lynn has found her Rick Rubin. Finally. Much like the producer who revitalized the late 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. more inside
The Bunny Man. Never mind the witch...here's the D.C. region's other scary legend (Washington Post).
Insist upon the original. Accept no substitutes. Read label carefully. Effectiveness not guaranteed.
Insist upon the original. Accept no substitutes. Read label carefully. Effectiveness not guaranteed.
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...
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).
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.
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 —and he 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 and Turner, 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.
The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year in America. False. This and many other popular xmas legends debunked at snopes (also notable: Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer created by the Montgomery Ward store chain).