Saturday, April 1, 2017

The awesomeness that is Crazyhead...

 I know, I know. It happens to me all the time.

I've found a new series that I've fallen in love with, but this time its not because of the manspiration aspect, in fact it's rather the opposite.  Crazyhead is a paranormal, comedy, horror, chicktastic series with some of the most engaging and amusing female cast I've seen in a long time.

Susan Wokoma and Cara Theobald as Raquel and Amy, are hilarious together as the oddly matched demon hunting duo.

I've not laughed out loud watching a TV show in ages, and Susan Wokoma had me laughing regularly at their inappropriate banter and the general craziness they endure and propagate.

Basically the story is this; Amy stops taking her medication (presumably an anti-psychotic medication) that suppresses her ability to see demons. Since her early teens, doctors thought she was having disturbing hallucinations of people with fire inside them. In fact they're not hallucinations at all, but rather Amy has the rare ability to see demons. This is when she meets the brash, lonely Raquel whose social awkwardness and frank personality make it hard  for her to keep friends. Raquel is also a 'seer' who uses her unemployed time to go and hunt the demons she sees.

Together they discover a plot by the demons to bring Hell on Earth at Halloween, using Raquel as the bridge between both words. It may sound like a standard story arc, but it's far from standard.

Series One even involves exorcisms in which the excorcisor needs to urinate on the excorcisee. Really. It's not what you expect when you read the 'blurb'. Seriously it's worth watching for is scene alone.

Image result for Crazyhead quotes

 I really can't recommend Crazyhead enough. It's on Netflix and was produced in conjunction with UK's Channel Four.

Watch it!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The tragic Rusalka

The Rusalka come from Slavic and Eastern European folklore and mythology.
Image Courtesy: Anna Vinogradova

The Rusalki in my opinion, are tragic figures. They are the spirits of women who have died tragically via suicide or murder. For example women who gave birth out of wedlock, or become pregnant with another man's child may be violently drowned or commit suicide. These unhappy spirits are then damned to return to Earth for a stint as the unhappy and murderous Rusalka.

Image Courtesy: Russian MythologyEncylopaedia.

Once turned into the Rusalki, their primary objective is to lure people into the water and drown them. They predominantly target young men - as revenge for their own unhappy deaths (largely caused by men). The Rusalka will seduce the man in much the similar way to a Greek Siren, using her voice and /or looks. So entranced by their inhuman beauty the men stupidly swim into the haunted waterway where the Rusalki will tangle his feet with her hair and drown him. Often the men would put up a fight, gripping the Rusalki and trying to haul himself to the surface. However it is said that the skin of a Rusalka is slippery, and no one can hold onto one.  There are also reports that the Rusalki will tickle their victim to death, so that the man will ironically die laughing.

Some sources report that a Rusalka can only exist whilst in water, and so a Rusalka appears with always one foot in the water, retaining her connection to the waterway at all time. Though others suggest that as long as the forest surrounds them, they may take form from the trees.

According to the Singing Bones Podcast (great resource by the way!) the Rusalki is described as "beauteous maidens with full and snow-white bosoms, and with long and slender limbs. Their feet are small, their eyes are wild, their faces are fair to see, but their complexion is pale, their expression anxious. Their hair is long and thick and wavy, and green as is the grass. Their dress is either a covering of green leaves, or a long white shift, worn without a girdle. At times they emerge from the waters of the lake or river in which they dwell, and sit upon its banks, combing and plaiting their flowing locks, or they cling to a mill-wheel; and turn round with it amid the splash of the stream. If any one happens to approach, they fling themselves into the waters, and there divert themselves, and try to allure him to join them. Whomsoever they get hold of they tickle to death. Witches alone can bathe with them unhurt.

Punishment of the wayward female is very common theme in Slavic mythology, and so it little surprise that a sinful female would be punished in such a way. It is interesting to note however, that the Rusalka does have a male counterpart, known as the Vodyanoy. This creature however is not suffering some sort of undead torment / punishment like the poor Rusalka. It is a mythological
Image courtesy: Ivan Bilibin 1934
creature in its own right. Vodyanoy is basically naked old man with a froggy face, green beard, and long hair. His unattractive body is covered with black scales coated in algae and mud. He has webbed paws, a fish tail and red burning eyes.

Hmmm, toad man, versus beautiful suffering woman. Don't you love mythology?

I am not sure if the tradition has continued to modern times, but there used to be a dedicated "Rusalka Week." During this week the Rusalka and Vodyanoy were said to be especially active and it was considered unwise to swim or spend much time near water. This used to occur in June.

In some mythologies, the Rusalka's mood also affected farmer's cropping, and so there were particular times of the yea rwhen the farmers and their wives tried to appease the Rusalka to insure a good crop. During these times the Rusalka would dance, but humans should be careful never to get too close to them, lest they turn murderous and vengeful.

I haven't read anything about what happens when the Rusalka complete their term as a water spirit. One hopefully presumes that when the term of their punishment end and their spirit would finally be at rest, and free, but I haven't read anything to suggest it.

On that rather sombre and disappointing note I shall leave you. 
Enjoy your March, whether it be Autumn or Spring in your hemisphere!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Inuit Mythology of Greenland

Az’-i-wû-gûm Ki-mukh’-ti

You may think my cat has just walked across my keyboard, but no, today I'm going to introduce you to an unusual mythological beastie hailing from Greenland... the Az’-i-wû-gûm Ki-mukh’-ti.

Image Courtesy: A Book Of Creatures

The "Az-i-wu-gum" as I will simplify, is a hybrid creature commonly known as the "Walrus Dog". It is described in detail in the "Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore," by Theresa Bane (2016), as having a long, thin, black scaled body, thick, sturdy dog-like legs, and a ferocious dog-like head. It also is described as having a rounded thick tail, with which it strikes its enemy. According to the writings of the 19th Century explorer E. W. Nelson in 1900, the Az-i-wu-gum was universally feared by the native peoples around Alaska and the Bering Strait, as well as Greenland. The beast is said to have lived amongst  herds of walrus, but would kill a man easily and without mercy - should one happen upon it.

Nelson reported a tale of Walrus hunters in the Bering strait being attacked by an Az-i-wu-gum whilst in their boat, with all on board being killed. Although Nelson did not allege to have sighted the beast himself, he reported that all the native peoples were very familiar with it.

Common (viviparous) lizard (zootoca vivipara).jpg
Image Courtesy: Wikipedia
As for what exactly the Az-i-wu-gum ki-mukh-ti could actually have been - I just don't know. Being described as scaly is deeply problematic considering the climate of the area in which it is found. There are only two reptilian creatures that I could find that inhabit the Arctic regions. One is is a Canadian garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis, "This animal has an incredible ability to withstand low temperatures. It can tolerate temperatures of -5°C without freezing. When temperatures drop lower than this, it can survive with up to 40% of its body fluids turned to ice [ref]".  The other is the viviparous lizard found throughout Europe and Asia, whose range extends north of the Arctic Circle. However, neither of the creatures fit the description or size of the 'Walrus Dog'. 

Additionally, cannot find any details on its diet, though one could guess that if its head was dog-like, then it would most likely be carnivorous. There is however, no mention of it actually eating the walrus with which it lived, or of it eating meat at all. 

In my (non-exhaustive) search of the internet, I have only found Nelson's references to this beast, and no Inuit written texts or recounts -which is disappointing and perhaps I will have to research in detail when time permits.

Anyway I hope you found this as interesting as I did!
  Happy February!

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Year of the Odontotyrannus...

Image Courtesy:Wikipedia

Happy New Year for 2017 - official year of the Odontotyrannus.

Just Kidding!

It's hard to believe another year has passed and I've haven't had a new release. Oops.
Well I'm currently in the process of re-writes for "Big Girl," here's to hoping 2017 is a more productive writing year!

Anyway onto the subject of January's post... the Odontotyrannus.

This particular beast caught my attention because it is mentioned in Greek classical writings but also  in a story of Alexander the Great. For those of you not familiar, Alexander the Great became king of ancient Macedonia at the age twenty.  Born in 356 BC, Alexander is remarkable in that by the age of thirty had created a large empire spanning from Greece to NW India. He remained undefeated in battle and is considered by many scholars to be one of history's most successful military leaders.  He died aged thirty-two, many suspect he was poisoned, as he had a lingering death after drinking some dodgy wine. Unlucky.

Anyway, it is alleged that the Alexander's Macedonian army was attacked by an Odontotyrannus during a campaign beside either the Ganges or Indus rivers in Northern India.

According to the Latin "Letter from Alexander" (the seventh of such letters about India written to his tutor Aristotle,) the creature had a black, horse-like head, with three horns protruding from its forehead and was larger than an elephant. The creature was fearless, and undeterred by the sight of fire. It is said to have killed twenty-six Macedonians and incapacitated fifty-two. It was eventually killed by being repeated stabbed with hunting spears.  He reports that that the local Indians called the beast "tooth-tyrant"  hence its Greek name dentityrranus or odontatyrannus.

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia
So what may this terrible beast be? Many scholars suggest it may have been a Crocodile living in the river - though the reports of the three horns makes that explanation somewhat problematic. Others suggest it may have been a rhinoceros. This also proves problematic also as the Indian Rhinocerous is famous for being only one horned. Another suggestion is that was an Indus Worm. The Indus Worm is a cryptid beast that looks like an enormous (three metres in length) fruit fly maggot. It is said to live in the mud at the bottom of the river and feed on horses and camels that drink there.  It has terrible teeth on its upper and lower jaw. Again this is unlikely to be the Odontotyrannus, as the dominant features of the beast is that it is black (not white like a maggot) and it has those troublesome three horns. 

The Odontotyrannus is interesting in that the original source descriptions are reasonably consistent. Even an Ethiopian version of Alexander describes it as having three 'tusks'.  Personally think the Rhino description is
most likely - despite the lack of three horns. Maybe there was a mutant? Who knows? The dark grey / blackish skin colour fits, and the Indian Rhino also defends itself with sharp canines. Regardless, I think the Odontotyrannus is is a fascinating beastie, and one well worth knowing about.

Have a wonderful 2017!