Tag Archives: superstition

Chickcharnie

When sightseeing on the Island of Andros, dear readers, keep your eyes peeled for a creature that Bahamian folk tales describe as a three-toed elf, a red-eyed man-beast or a birdlike creature with a lizard’s tail and a fluffy mane, that likes to hang upside down from trees. Quite monstrous really. And carry flowers or bright bits of cloth, with which you will, if rumors are to be believed, be able to charm the creatures– so long as you treat them respectfully. This is something you will surely want to do.

Why, you might ask? Well, it’s quite simple really. If you piss these touchy lil’ buggers off they’ll make your head spin right around. Right on around. Dastardly.

… Of course, should you treat the elf with respect, you may be blessed with good luck for the rest of your natural life—a boon not to be sneered at, in the author’s humble opinion.

Of course, some doubting souls claim that Tyto pollens, an extinct species that is distantly related to the Common Barn-owl ( Tyto alba), is the origin of the chickcharnie myth. Tyto pollens was a large, flightless burrowing owl rumored to have been territorially aggressive, though it coexisted with humans. Rapid deforestation by white explorers in the 16th century led, sadly, to this creature’s extinction… or just to the chickcharnie’s retreat from common view…

Whichever version of the story is true,  the author is ready to chance it, as some good luck– and a beach vacation– would be greatly appreciated.

Leave a comment

Filed under academia, extinct species, folklore, human behavior, Phobia-inducing, Uncategorized

“The Cock is a Bird that Can Tell Time”

 

Copyright: Museum Meermanno, MMW, 10 B 25, Folio 36v

You cannot blame the author for the sheer volume of noteworthy cocks in the world. She is perfectly aware that she has already written about the Cock of Dawn, but that was from the Chinese tradition, and the author reserves the right to differentiate between Chinese and Roman cocks. Ahem. In any case, were you to blame anyone for the next double entendre, dear readers, it would have to be Pliny the Elder, who writes that cocks “were designed by nature to announce the dawn; by singing they awaken men.” Indeed.

They are also, he avers, quite the little oracles: omens and auspices can be read in the behavior of cocks. Indeed. The author once knew a man who swore he could predict the weather with his. True story.

Leave a comment

Filed under folklore, gender bending, human behavior, medieval, rated NC17

Bovine rampage in Norway: Revenge of the Beef

250px-CH_cow_2

 

In 2002, a series of bizzare bovine incidents in the Norweigian countryside alarmed residents, and alerted us to the  possibility that cows are beginning to strain at the agricultural tether.

The first victim, 23-year old Stian Skoglund, was “bashed and trampled by a furious cud-chewer” according to one publication.  

The incident occurred when Skoglond noticed that one of the cows he was attempting to gather for milking appeared “uneasy.” Apparently under the delusion that he had psychic animal powers, Skoglond “made eye contact with the animal” and “tried to calm it.” Unsurprisingly, the cow “became provoked:”

 “The cow butted me and I fell,” Skoglund reported. Frightened, our failed animal mesmerist scrambled to his feet and tried to make a dash for it, but the cow, undettered, knocked him to the ground. Pleased with her work, she then began—according to the same  Norwegian  English- language publication—to  “hop and trample him,” ceasing only when her victim gave up the fight and played dead.

Skoglund suffered a shattered leg, several broken ribs, numerous lacerations, and multiple contusions. He later wondered whether the attack was done in retaliation for his part in hauling away the body of a calf that had died days earlier.

“Maybe,” quoth our budding animal psychologist, “it was her motherly instincts being aroused. I’ve also heard that I shouldn’t have made eye contact with her, that only provokes them.”  

No shit, Stian.

Other incidents include a 45-year-old farmer who was hospitalized after a cow charged his wife (The farmer found himself in this unfortunate position after he attempted to wave his arms and distract the cow from its attack on his wife), and a nearby farmer who was trampled to death by rampaging bulls.

But by far the most shocking occurrence, dear readers, was the incident of the cow who fell  from the sky and died, nearly taking a car full of Norwegian travellers with her.

The story begins like a joke, with four men traveling in a car and debating the source of “a large shadow in the sky.” Was it a bird? No. a plane? No. nor was it a caped adventurer. It fell to earth with a mighty thump, mere feet in front of the moving vehicle.

Driver Olav Kjeldstad reported that, having barely managed to avoid hitting the mysterious object, he stopped the car and he and his three passengers looked behind them to where a cow lay in the road; according to one passenger, the fallen bovidae bovinae “only managed a few moos before dying.”

Kjelstad admitted that he “was pretty shaken afterwards” but also admitted– with typical Norse pragmatism and an inborn appreciation for dramatic subgenre–  that “we had a laugh as well;” the entire situation, he said, “was tragicomic.”

Perhaps  Kjelstad should have loaned his well-thumbed Companion to Norse Drama to poor Stian Skoglund,  upon whom the subtleties of tragicomedy were clearly lost.

Leave a comment

Filed under human behavior, Phobia-inducing, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Money Might Not, But Barnacle Geese Do (grow on trees)

img4465

 Source: British Library Images Online Copyright Copyright 2004 British Library / Used by permission Manuscript description British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 36r

What medieval-inspired bestiary would be complete without the Barnacle Goose?  According to Sir John Mandeville, who wrote in the 14th century CE, this fantastic creature is–or was– a species of goose that grows on trees. Not in trees, mind you. On trees.

In his Travels, Sir John writes that

 I told them of as great a marvel to them, that is amongst us, and that was of the Bernakes. For I told them that in our country were trees that bear a fruit that become birds flying, and those that fell in the water live, and they that fall on the earth die anon, and they be right good to man’s meat. And hereof had they as great marvel, that some of them trowed it were an impossible thing to be.

We moderns might be inclined to trow it impossible, too. Yet is it possible that the barnacle goose finds its equivalent in recent college graduates, who find themselves suddenly adrift of the parental money tree, and must function on their own or perish?  Indeed, the author sees many subtle similarities. Barnacle goslings grow on trees that overhang bodies of water; the young birds hang from their sprouting-points by their beaks.  When the birds are “ripe,” they fall. The fortuitous ones, which fall into the water, float and find themselves well on their way to healthy, productive adult lives. But those that fall on land– or go to graduate school– face a harder fate. Some die. The 14th century besties apparently all died, as there simply aren’t many tree-growing geese running about these days.

Yet today’s hapless little geese, who unerringly choose graduate studies in something “esoteric” like “Medieval English” or “Philosphy,” may in fact return to the life-giving tree well into adulthood, until the tree at long last shouts:

“Enough already! how long does a dissertation TAKE, anyway?

sigh.

take it from the author of BV, dear readers. major in something useful, like billiards, or graft.

Leave a comment

Filed under academia, baby animals, extinct species, folklore, human behavior, medieval, parasites, Phobia-inducing, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

No, It’s not a Typo; It’s the “Cock” of Dawn.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have  Chinese folklore to thank for next entry: the celestial cock, aka the “cock of dawn.”

<< The author respects all cultures and will not resort to infantile murrmerings about the word “cock”. But, dear readers, it’s gonna be difficult.>>

The Cock of Dawn, or so it is said, is a “magnificent golden three-legged cock” <<ahem>>.  According to myth,  he lives in the mile-high Fu-Sang tree in the Land of Sunrise.  It is believed that he is the ancestor of all worldly cocks <<ah-ahem>>, that he crows exactly three times a day (to mark the sunrise, zenith, and sunset) and that his red comb signifies the sunrise.

According to a legend  describing the conjunction of yin and yang, the God of the immortals (Tung-hua Ti-chun) gave this bird to a lucky fellow named Shen-i, who rode the back of the celestial cock <<oh, come now, we are all mature adults here, lets be serious>> to the heat of the midday sun, where, it is said, he attained perfect happiness.  Just him and his golden three-legged cock. (Until he set up regular visits with his wife, who was living over on the moon at the time.)

…In all seriousness,  dear readers, it is a lovely story and we should not be swayed from its import by our puritanical, repressed, juvenile obsession with naughty bits. And yet… one cannot help but wonder whether, on the occasional lonely night on the moon, Shen-i’s wife didn’t long for a little celestial cock of her own.

Leave a comment

Filed under folklore, human behavior, rated NC17, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

The Pop-Culture Guide to Swine flu

2974_88784954704_18807449704_1705896_1952424_n1 

The purpose of BV has always been to inform, and now the author feels called upon to clear up some misconceptions floating around about the swine flu epidemic. We’ll start with a brief “scene from a  paparazzi”:

******************************************************************************************************************************

[exterior, Day. A celebutant stands on the sidewalk in Los Angeles] 

photographer: “[Paris!]You worried about the swine flu Paris? It’s killing a lot of people in Mexico”

 Hilton:       [extended pause] …  “I don’t eat that.”

 *****************************************************************************************************************************

 

Some of you might be saying “well, Paris isn’t as dumb as she looks! This is a sign that we shouldn’t be eating pig!”  But you all may need to brush up on your Pulp Fiction: 

 

 

 

Besides, the swine flu, like all other flu varieties, is highly contagious but is spread primarily through contact with an infected individual. The CDC has a detailed brochure explaining the ins and outs of swine flu, including reasonable means of prevention and pharmaceutical options:  http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/pdf/brochure.pdf

…and this brochure is very clear that provided you heat them to the requisite internal temperature of 160 degrees, your beloved chops and belly are always…

 

 

 So Paris, you can go back to eating pork… hell, you can go back to eating, because despite your misinformation, the author of BV is here to tell you that just as you will not catch the avian flu from eating chicken, you will not get the pig flu from eating pork. 

But regardless of it’s charm, if you go around licking an infected pig’s  snout, you’re on your own, kid.

Leave a comment

Filed under human behavior, Phobia-inducing, pink animal league, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Cat of a thousand faces: mad genius (and a quiz!!!)

Yes, folkes, its another “cute” and/or “crazy” cat video posts. In this installment, in order to spice up a potentially stale theme, prizes will be distributed to the first reaedr who can correctly identify both the song playing and each of the disguises, in order of appearance. “Yo mama” will not be accepted as an answer.

Leave a comment

Filed under common household pets, exceedingly cute, rated NC17, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

The Ant-lion (lion ant)

img8107

The entire premise of Bestiarum Vocabulum, as some of you might know, rests on the genre of the medieval bestiary ( or bestiarum vocabulum). It is therefore meet that we occasionaly visit the archives for entries, as part of an ongoing medievalist series. 

Take, for example, the Ant-Lion, of whom Adhelm, abbot of Malmesbury (639-730)  once wrote the following riddle:

Dudum compositis ego nomen gesto figuris :
Ut leo, sic formica vocor sermone Pelasgo
Tropica nominibus signans praesagia duplis,
Cum rostris avium nequeam resistere rostro.
Scrutetur sapiens, gemino cur nomine fingar !

I long have borne the name of hybrid form :
Both ant and lion I am called in Greek
A double metaphor, foreboding doom ;
My beak cannot ward off the beaks of birds.
Let wise men search out why my names are twain.

 

And why are the Ant-lion’s names twain? There are two possible answers. In the first, the Ant-lion is a large, fierce insect. This is likely Adhelm’s opinion, one shared by Gregory the Great ( Moralia in Iob, Book V, chapter 20, section 40), and Isidore of Seville (Etymologies, Book 12, 3:10), and other venerable medieval types.

But there is another possibility: that as the result of a mating between a lion and an ant, the Ant-lion has the face of a lion and and the body of an ant.  And this, dear readers, is the interesting answer, made more interesting by its tragic ending.

Because the Ant-lion is at gustatory war with itself.   Belying the Latin dictum “de gustibus non disputatem est,” the lion’s head will only eat meat, while the ant body can only digest grain. The ant-lion, divided against itself, inevitably starves.

Very sad.

… but the author of BV, as you might expect, is having a difficult time getting past the basic premise of this explanation, which is that an ant can mate with a lion. The mind. boggles.  at that visual.

 

 

…and should any reader find him or herself with a bit of free time and a clever pen (ahem), renderings of said illicit act will be gladly posted in a future posting. But *try* to keep it PG13.

Leave a comment

Filed under academia, extinct species, medieval, parasites, Phobia-inducing, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Undead Spiders Survive Mass Drowning.

The author of BV, dear readers, is not happy. She is, in fact, deeply, deeply troubled. And all because what she is about to report confirms her deepest suspicions about order Araneae; spiders are, in fact, evil minions of  the undead sent to take over the world.  And let’s face it, with all due respect to the arachnophiles in the author’s aquaintence, they’re  just pretty damn creepy.

 

 

A reporter for National Geographic News  reported yesterday that spiders “drowned” in a lab “twitched back to life hours after ‘drowning.'” Yes indeed, dear readers (both of you), you read right.  The wolf spiders involved in the study “twitched back to life after drowning.”

 The researchers had only intended to see how long it would take spiders whose nests were subject to frequent seasonal flooding to drown, then leave the eight icky- little- legged corpses out to dry, so as to weigh them post-mortem. And so they did… but that, according to Nat Geo, “is when things began to get weird.”

Because once they had dried out, the spiders began twitching where they lay, eventually struggling effortfully back onto their eight icky little feet.

Researchers believe that these spiders instinctually enter comas in order to survive. The author of BV believes that they actually enter an alternate dimension in which they commune with the spirits of evil dead spiders, particularly those who have been variously flushed, washed, and hosed down drains in the human world, leading them to hold a grudge against the entire human species.

…But the spiders are not the only ghouls in this story: we should remember the University of Rennes (France) scientists (who from a certain angle resemble nothing so much as textbook sociopathic schoolboys)  immersed 120 spiders in water, “jostling the spiders with brushes every two hours to see if they responded.” All with the express purpose of seeing how long it took these spiders to die.  Just, you know, because they were curious.

Perhaps-just perhaps, and excluding the author of BV-some of us deserve to be bitten by evil undead spiders.

Leave a comment

Filed under backyard fauna, human behavior, Phobia-inducing, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Cane toads just can’t catch a break

cane-toad-2

Once upon a time, 101 Cane toads were  deliberately introduced to Australia, under the premise that they would eat the beetles ruining the sugar cane crops, ridding the farmers and population of a costly pest. Yet as we have learned time and again, the road to hell is paved with non-native species.  The population of poisonous cane toads exploded in Australia, the toxic toads started causing deaths of native species, and a variety of measures were sought to mitigate the new-and more obtrusive- problem, including:

1) Golf clubs (the author of BV cannot reccomend this, though she does understand the sentiment)

2)freezing 

3) gassing

 

But now, scientists believe that they may have found “a more natural way” to kill these killers: Meat ants.

…Yes folkes, this is another one of *those* posts.

Meat ants, a carnivorous species native to Australia,  have been observed eating cane toadlets, leaping upon them and devouring them alive. Or dead, however they find them.  Unlike the native toad species, moreover, the cane toads have not evolved defences to meat ants as have their Aussie counterparts. Simply put, “they do not hop away.”

Not one to hook his wagon to just any star, the mayor of Darwin and Frogwatch coordinator, Graeme Sawyer doubts that these ants can come to the rescue, as they “just don’t eat enough toads.”

Who knows whether sending the toads to swallow the beetles, and sending the ants to swallow the toads will end in tragedy… But the author of BV is put in mind of a childhood song …

Leave a comment

Filed under backyard fauna, human behavior, Phobia-inducing, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Homo sapiens sapiens; a brief shining moment of joy

Today’s post is about the human animal. In light of recent events, notably the shootings in Oakland, Pittsburgh (CA) and Binghamton (NY), which has precipitated in the author a sudden need for something like faith, B.V would like to submit the following, in the words of Rabindrinath Tagore:

“Men are cruel, but Man is kind”…

…and, very occasionally, capable of surprising moments of peaceable outpourings of pure exhuberance and joy.

Leave a comment

Filed under common household pets, exceedingly cute, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Sharks: Sisters are doing it for themselves

       scalloped_hammerhead_shark_465x310             

Ladies, listen up: While many of us of slightly-less-than a certain age have started reaching our “scary age”s  and have taken to searching the web for ways to delay (or defeat) the tick-tick-icking of our biological clocks, a few select  members of  superorder Selachimorpha have taken matters into their own hands: a quick search of National Geographic’sarchives generates no fewer than 742 hits on “virgin births” in the animal world. two of note occured in sharks.

In October of 2008, a female blacktip shark in Virginia was confirmed to have successfully committed parthenogenesis– a process by which females of some species can produce young without the sticky contribution and equally sticky commitment issues of males.  

Lest you women out there feel too much jealous animosity towards “Tidbit” (the female blacktip in question), you should also know that she died on the physician’s table during a routine physical exam. It was during the subsequent necropsy that scientists discovered that she was carryng a near-term shark pup, as there had been no previous indication of gestation.  Yes, you read right: she managed to get pregnant on her own and didn’t even have to worry about stretch marks. But then she died.

The first time scientists had witnessed parthenogenesis amongst sharks was at a Nebraska zoo in 2001, when a baby hammerhead was born to one of three possible mothers in the shark tank, none of which had access to males. Sadly, despite the successful full-term birth, the baby hammerhead (see photo, below) was killed within hours by a stingray cohabiting the tank.

The author of BV submits that there is something fishy going on:  these “virgin births” seem to end only in tragedy… perhaps it should be a lesson to us all… 


R.I.P., little shark: this baby hammer head was the result of a virgin birth and died tragically young, giving new meaning to the term "jesus fish."

R.I.P., little shark: this baby hammer head was the result of a virgin birth and died tragically young, giving new meaning to the term "jesus fish."

* Legal disclaimer: the author of B.V. in no way means to insinuate that this fish is actually Jesus, that its fate is related to or sheds light on the Christain belief system, or even that the joke is particularly funny.  Any complaints should be directed to  Rush Limbaugh .**

**Legal disclaimer: The author of B.V. does not claim any affiliation, topical, personal, creative, contractual, or otherwise, with  Mr. Limbaugh or his  production company, but is sure he’d love to hear from you.

Leave a comment

Filed under baby animals, endangered species, gender bending, marine life, Phobia-inducing, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Hercules Beetle: natural prey of the Stymphalian birds?*

behold the strongest insect on earth

behold the strongest insect on earth (and in the background, the much smaller flower beetle).

 The Hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules) is perhaps the most immediately recognizable of the rhinoceros beetles; it’s propensity for epic battles and family tragedies in the Grecian vein, though less well known, is among the beetle’s most prominent characteristics. 

Male beetles, for instance,  often use their prominent horns to fight for the right to mate with a comely female. The outcomes of these battles are determined by the whims of the gods, and may inflict devastating psychosocial effects which can fatally disrupt the entire Dynastes  family.

The winner and his prize may then engage in extended bouts of celebratory lovemaking; amorous sessions between Hercules beetles can last for 50 minutes-considerably longer than the average human encounter, which clocks in at a whopping… two minutes.

Epic, indeed.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under academia, backyard fauna, Phobia-inducing, rated NC17, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Post-April fool’s edition: (faux) Chupacabra; real shame?

according to one breeder, this dog- likely a Xoloitzcuintle or "mexican hairless"- may have been "doctored" to appear more menacing.

according to one breeder, this dog- likely a Xoloitzcuintle or "Mexican hairless"- may have been "doctored" to appear more menacing.

In 2007, Associated Press ran a story on this frozen critter, which the Cuero, Texas woman who found it described as a “chupacabra,” a legendary goat-killer from south American folktale and mythology. According to media fallout, breeders on “Xolo” sites believed this to be a Mexican hairless dog, and some went so far as to speculate that because the breed is so rare in the U.S., this apparent roadkill may have been an unhealthy or undesirable animal, dumped at the side of the road by an unethical breeder. Subsequent DNA tests suggested that the animal was probably a diseased, mangy coyote

In another instance in 2008, a chupacabra was said to have been caught on tape- again in the Texas town of  Cuero (see clip, below)

 

The author of   not discount the possibility that the chupacabra does or did exist, but for now, we can only speculate that the little town of Cuero has either a high rate of dependency on drug and alcohol… or a high rate of gullibility.**

 

 

 

Cf. http://www.sciam.com/blog/60-second-science/post.cfm?id=chupacabra-strikes-texas-town-2008-08-13

Leave a comment

Filed under backyard fauna, Phobia-inducing, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Vacuumammal*

the dugong, a cross between a humanatee and a vacuum cleaner.

the dugong, a cross between a humanatee and a vacuum cleaner.

The vacuumammal (Dugong dugong of family dugongidae) is more than just a repetitive name and a  vacuum-shaped maw; like their cousins the humanatees, dugongs belong to the order Sirenia, so named beacuse they were frequently mistaken for mermaids, sirens of the deep ocean. Indeed, the word “dugong” comes from the tagalog word meaning “lady of the sea.” Unlike the lithesome mermaids, however, these animals are also known as “sea cows,” perhaps so named by their disgruntled sons-in law.  Fair warning boys: this  may be what your darlings mermaids grow into as they age.  Less learned but more abundant than the humanatees, vacuummamals are not currently listed as endangered, but are widely protected in habitat areas.

 * the author submits that this particular dugong looks a bit like an overgrown button mushroom…  

Leave a comment

Filed under marine life, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized