Martenisa: Grandmother March has a Spring in her Step (Folklore)

Cover Photo Source: Adventure Flair

Happy Monday!

A few weeks ago one of my flatmates gifted me a red and white bracelet with a purple butterfly charm on it.  I asked her why and she went to explain to me that it was a Bulgarian Spring ritual.  “It is just what we do.”

bulgarian spring twist

The martenitsi is usually made of red and white yarn. The red to ward off the gaze of evil spirits and the white represents long life.

Naturally I was curious for more and went digging around.  What I learned was that Martenisa is a spring celebration starting on March 1st when Martenitsi are tied around children’s wrists and necklaces of the same colours are hung around young women’s necks.  Martenitsi are always given as gifts, never bought for one self, and are given to loved ones, friends, and people they feel close to (aww thank you Tsveta!) with  the wish of good health and luck.

The Martenitsi is meant to be worn until the wearer first sees a stork, swallow, or blossoming tree (all signs of spring). What is supposed to be done with it at which point varies however I was told to tie it around a blossoming tree branch to pass on the good health and luck I have been gifted over the last month to the tree.  I like this a lot, trees are okay people.

The idea of wearing the Martenitsi is to protect the wearer from Baba Marta (Grandmother March) who is subject to mood swings bringing more cold weather.  By wearing a Martenitsi it’s a sign of welcoming Baba Marta and asking for a short and less bitter end to winter.

With that being said, I’m still wearing my Martenitsi but I’m hoping that soon (seeing as today is the first official day of spring) that I’ll see a blossoming tree so I can pass on the love.

If you want to read more, check out this wonderful post on Adventure Flair “What is Martenisa?”

Happy Spring!

 

The Passage by Justin Cronin (book review *SPOILERS*)

Happy Monday!

Spoiler Free Summary and Review:

This book should come with a warning: “Buckle up, this book will grab you by the FUCKING throat. Read at your peril.”

I read a lot(1) however it’s not often when I pick up a book that gives me problems, as in when I start reading the book I have such a strong compulsion to continue reading that I start stealing time from other things like sleeping or coursework(2).  That being said, I should say that this book is less of a page burner from page 1 but more of a shadow slowly stalking up on you until about page 241.  At the time, I didn’t realize it until about page 315 that I was screwed.

the passage

Cronin isn’t messing around with the “Something is coming.” subtitle.

At 963 pages, The Passage by Justin Cronin is a physically daunting book and it’s ambitious. The story takes place over the course of 97-1008 years depending on how you count, the setting spans most of the United States west of the Mississippi from New Orleans LA to Southern Oregon, and there are about 9 core characters.  This both works for and against the passage.

It can be exhausting keeping track of that many characters and the first and last part of the book has several separate story lines to keep straight.  Some of the characters and story lines I found more interesting and while nothing in the book is boring, some story lines felt jarringly interrupted by switching gears to other story lines.  However for the majority of the book when all the character arcs are plaited together it transforms into a tour de force of action, drama, intrigue, science fiction, fantasy, Gothic horror.  Highly recommended.

Footnotes:

  1. I average a book a week/300 pages.
  2. I lost 2 solid days reading 648 pages.

 

**SPOILERS BELOW**

Continue reading

100 posts and going!

Happy Monday!

This here post, is my 100th post for Offbeat On-point and it has been a ride.  I have to be honest, I have not spent much (any) time thinking about doing anything particularly special for this post.

I feel like maybe this would be a good time to let y’all in on my some details of my master plan(1).

Image result for evil master plan

“”Master Plan””

Steps towards “The Vision 1.0”:

Merch:

I plan to start making stickers of my comics.  I’ll start a test run this summer trading stickers in person for schwag (things we all get) and rides, however due to my living situation(2) I won’t be able to mail stickers until October.  Eventually I’d like to make t-shirts and a line of emoji and other stuff.

Volunteers:

I am semi-actively looking for freelance or reoccurring or even better a recurring  writer.  I have plenty of stock ideas and am open to pitches for Mystery Monday and Rewind Wednesday, and I’m not sold yet but I’d be willing to open up Funny Fridays to pitches.  I cannot offer you pay however I can write you one hell of a recommendation letter(3) and some free stickers (when available).  If you are good at doing social networks (really could use a hand with twitter in specific) or feel like there is some other skill you could offer me, feel free to contact me.

#finandlouie4president2020:

This is not a joke.  I am determined to get “Fin and Louie” on the ballot for the American Presidential Election in 2020.  I must clarify, I (as in the writer/artist) am not running for the presidency but my creations, Fin and Louie, are.  There is historical precedence for this in the United States(4) and after the 2016 election results I’ve been inspired to start the “We Could Do Worse” Party(5).  However we need YOUR help.  If you Believe in the Fin or want to Follow Louie, whenever you see a political post somewhere on the internet post in the comments #finandlouie4president2020 #ibelieveinthefin #followmelouie #wecoulddoworse use all of them or one but the most important one to get traction is #finandlouie4president2020 and feel free to link to the comic too.  That will help understanding I am sure.

Overall I’m interested in building more of a relationship between us here at OBOP and you, the reader.  If you have ideas, suggestions, or anything please feel free to leave comments below.

Thanks for sticking with us for 100 posts and we hope to see you here in 100 more posts!

Also, don’t forget to check back in this Wednesday for the Press Release of Lady J and Paleface new music Video Link’s Arousing!

 

Footnotes:

  1. I read somewhere that a successful business is not grown on potential but vision.  If you exhibit a vision and give people, consumers and employees, a reason to believe in what you’re doing you’re more likely to build the kind of loyalty that nurtures relationships versus royalty-loyalty.  Though I guess that’s easy to say at this point when this a one-man show running on stolen time.
  2. I’ve been accepted into Lancaster University as a degree seeking student however in order to renew my visa, I must return to the United States.  For normal people this wouldn’t be much of a problem however as I am a hobo (DO NOT mistake my kind for bums, being a hobo means that one works to travel and travels to live; we earn our living and our way along the road we walk) I don’t have a home to go back to in St Louis.  So I plan to fly to San Francisco and walk the beach, looking for stories, adventure, and work while killing time until October.  This as you can imagine, does not afford the luxury of a set mailing point or address which would facilitate my sending stickers to you but when I get back to uni, I’ll have three hots and a cot again (probably, honestly haven’t looked into housing for next year but I’m not worried).
  3. I’m very excited at the prospect of getting to use the word “mogigraphia” in a recommendation letter.
  4. See Mickey Mouse Party and the Cthulhu Party, in fact I supported Cthulhu in 2016.
  5. Name isn’t set in stone, we could also name it the “Fin or Louie? Why Not Both?” party or “The Re-Tweeters” or “Team Not-Trump” or “It’s Just Politics, How Hard Could It Be?”, honestly were open to suggestion.

Zheng Shangyou (Card Game)

Happy Monday!

A few months back my friend taught me this game he picked up called Zhen Shangyou which is a Chinese card game.  He translates it as “Swim to be the First”. It also appears to readily be known as “Winner”.  Either way, it’s a fun and simple game for two players with variations for more players.

Number of players: 2

Goal: Be first to get rid of all their cards.

Hierarchy of cards and combinations:

Highest  -> Lowest:

Spades -> Hearts -> Diamonds -> Clubs

3 -> 4 -> 5 -> 6 -> 7 -> 8 -> 9 -> 10 -> Jack -> Queen -> King -> Ace -> Joker

Red Joker -> Black Joker

 

  • Single cards: Any card from the deck, ordered by rank with suit being the tie-breaker. (For instance, Ace of Spades will beat the Ace of Diamonds, which will beat the King of Spades.) The red Joker is the highest single.
  • Pairs: Any two cards of matching rank, ordered as with singular cards by the card of the higher suit. (A pair consisting of the King of Spades and the King of Clubs will beat a pair consisting of the King of Hearts and the King of Diamonds.)
  • Two [or more] pairs. Any number of pairs of cards with consecutive rank, e.g. 5-5-6-6-7-7
  • Three of a kind: Any three cards of matching rank.
  • Full House: A composite of a three-of-a-kind combination and a pair. Ordered by the rank of the triple, regardless of the pair.
  • Straight: Any five or more cards in a row. Twos are low in a straight (so K-A-2-3-4 is not valid, but 2-3-4-5-6 is), and Aces can be played high or low. A-2-3-4-5 is the lowest straight. If a [x] card straight is the current play type, it is only possible to beat it with another [x] card straight with a higher lowest card.
  • Bomb: Any four cards of matching rank. Can be played on all tricks excepts higher bombs (i.e. the four same cards having a higher value) or straight flushes.
  • Straight Flush: Any five or more cards in a row of the same suit. Same rules apply as a straight. A straight flush can be played on any tricks except for a higher straight flush [see straight].

 

 

Rules for Play:

  1. Once the cards have been shuffled, deal out the entire deck including jokers.
  2. Who ever has the 3 of diamonds goes first, however the 3 of diamonds does not need to be played.
  3. The player who goes first lays down the lowest card they have as a single, double, or triple (as if player one has two 3’s they could play one 3 or both).
  4. The next player plays the cards that are of the next highest available combination or if they cannot or choose to they can pass.  The first player to run out of cards wins.

Elmer McCurdy: Failed Train Robber or Successful Mummy Prop? (folktale)

Happy Monday!

Today’s tale is brought to you by my very funny friend Chris from Poorly Drawn Thoughts.  He draws web comics about a bearded man.  Occasionally said beard punches people.  It’s glorious. Go check him out.

Born on the first day of the year 1880 in Maine to Sadie McCurdy.  The father’s identity is unknown but Sadie’s Brother George and his wife Helen offered to adopt young Elmer.  In 1890 George died of tuberculosis at which point Sadie decided to tell her son, Elmer, that she and not Helen is his biological mother.  This disturbed Elmer and in his teens he started drinking.

He began working for his grandfather as an apprentice plumber and seemed to be competent at it.  Then the Panic of 1893 plus the loss of his biological mother and his grandfather culminated in him loosing what was left of his family and his job.  With nothing left, he took to the road.  Drifting along the east coast looking for work and a stiff drink.  However work wasn’t consistent, mostly due to his drinking, but eventually he would join the U.S. Army in 1907 where he would learn how to work as a demolition tech.

This, like most things in his life, didn’t last long.  Honourably discharged in 1910, he decided to take his new found love for exploding things on the road and hit it big by robing a train.  His first proper job was an attempt to rob the Iron Mountain-Missouri train which was said to have $4000 worth of silver on board.  In today’s money, that’s roughly equivalent to ~$98,000 (or ~£78000, gotta love that inflation though) in today’s money.  Elmer and the three other men were able to successfully stop the train and locate the safe, however Elmer used way too much Nitroglycerin on the safe which resulted in not only blasting open the safe but also melting almost all of the silver they were after.  The were able to scrape about $450 (~$11,000/~£8,800 today) worth of silver off the walls and floor of the safe  before they made their great escape.

After the bungled robbery Elmer was able to convince two more folks to help him try and rob The Citizens Bank in Chautauqua, Kansas.  Apparently they spend about two hours banging away at an outer wall before Elmer pulled out some more nitro and blew it away.  Then to open the safe, nitro again.  However the nitro didn’t ignite and they stole about $150 (~$3600/£2800 today) worth of coins that were in trays outside the safe and split.

In one final job in 1911, Elmer and two other guys decided to rob a Katie Train in Oklahoma which was rumored to contain $4000 worth of silver.  They stopped the train only to realize it was the wrong train and managed to steal: a revolver, a coat, the conductor’s watch, two demijohns (1 demijohn = 1 imperial gallon/8 pints/64fl oz/1.8 L) of whiskey, and a whopping $46 (~$1100/~£882 today) from the mail clerk.  News papers called it “The smallest train robbery in the history of train robbing”.

In the first job, let’s assume they split the $450 evenly among the 4 of them.  Then in the second job, the look out man ran away midway through so we can guess that Elmer and his remaining partner split the $150.  In the final job, we can guess that the 3 men split the $46 even for ~$15 a piece. Elmer has made $112 + $75 + $15 for a total of $202 (~$4900/~£3900 today) in his short bank robbing career.

After the botched job, Elmer took at least one of the demijohns of whiskey (maybe both) and drank with some ranch hands at the place he was staying.  What he didn’t know was there was a $2000 bounty on his head which lured 3 sheriffs to come for him and they had a shoot out resulting in Elmer taking a slug in the chest.  The sheriffs found one of the demijohns empty.

Normally this is where the life of a robber/piss-head would end however, Elmer was about to make more money after death than in life.

Elmer’s body was taken to the local funeral home to be preserved until he was claimed, this was a common practice at the time so that when someone came to claim or identify the body it was still…identifiable.  Time passed and no one claimed Elmer’s remains and the funeral director refused to release or bury the body until he got his money.  This was when he got an idea to put Elmer out for display to make his money.  For just a nickel ($1.23/99p today) you could see the body of “The Train Robber Who Wouldn’t Give Up”(1).  His body became a wild attraction gaining the attention of carnival folks everywhere.  The funeral director rejected all offers to sell the body.

In 1916 James and Charles Patterson, owners of “The Great Patterson Carnival Show” which was a traveling circus, contacted the funeral director under the guise of being Elmer’s “long lost brother” claiming his body for a proper burial.  After some legal convincing, the funeral director released the body where it went on to live under the show name “The Outlaw Who Would Never Be Captured Alive” until 1922 when they sold the show to Louis Sonny.

Louis Sonny opened a traveling show called “Museum of Crime” where Elmer was among much more successful robbers like Bill Doolan and Jesse James.  In 1928 Elmer was used as a prop to advertise a film, Narcotic! which is basically an early 1930’s propaganda film about the horrors of drugs.

After Sonny’s death in 1949, Elmer’s body was stored in a L.A. storage unit until 1964 when Sonny’s son lent the body to film director David F. Freidman to feature in his 1967 film She Freak.  This process of selling the corpse kept on for years until Elmer’s body found a home in the amusement park, The Pike in Long Beach California, in the fun house “Laff in the Dark” as a hanged man.

In 1976 the crew of The $6.000.000 Man were filming the episode “Carnival of Spies” on location at The Pike.  They decided they wanted to remove the hanging man, Elmer’s body, for the shot and in trying to remove what was assumed to be a wax figure the arm fell off exposing mummified flesh and prompting an investigation.

The identity of the body was a mystery until the medical examiner discovered a 1924 penny and a ticket stub for Sonny’s Museum of Crime in the mouth of Elmer’s remains.  After all this time Fred Olds who represented the Indian Territory Posse of Oklahoma Westerns claimed the body for burial in Oklahoma where he was buried next to Bill Doolan.  To insure Elmer’s remains were left to rest, he was buried under 2 cubic yards (1.5 cubic meters) of concrete.

So what’d we learn, folks? Crime doesn’t pay? Drugs are bad? No, what I choose to take away from this story that even if one is a failure in life, there’s a whole life after death which one can enjoy success.  Rest in peace, McCurdy.

 

Footnotes:

  1. His corpse was also known as “The Mystery Man of Many Aliases”, “The Oklahoma Outlaw”, and “The Embalmed Bandit.

 

Me Talk Pretty One Day (Book Review)

Happy Monday!

I hate Valentine’s day.  It’s a dumb holiday made to make couples feel bad by not being able to do something over the top wonderful and single people feel desperately alone while the rest of the world seemingly flourishes with love and acceptance.

16602253_1751063321876142_4428602366976674715_o

Generally sums up my feelings on the whole affair.

That being said, plus my general dislike for February: the worst month is not a sentiment I alone carry.  However I’m here to help you feel less bad about the dismal political situation and the increasingly bleak global climate change crisis with a very funny book by American humourist David Sedaris called “Me Talk Pretty One Day”.

me-talk

This is the colour blind version.

This is a book of memoir essays set roughly in a chronological order about Sedaris and friends, maybe “friend and family” since the reoccuring cast is composed of his boyfriend Hugh and some family members.  The book is split into two parts: “One” which contains  13 essays set in the United States and “Deux” which contains 14 essays set in France.

What I really liked about this book, other than it’s ability to wring tears from alternating twists of hilarity and sentiment, is how easy it is to pick it up and read an essay(1) and put it back down.

Particular essays of note are:

Go Carolina – This being the first essay opens up with a story from Sedaris’s childhood about being place in speech therapy for his lisp and the stigma that comes with it.  This essay struck home with me being that when I was in primary school, I too was forced to take speech therapy for a similar lisp on account of my “s” sounding like “th”.  One of the marks of subtle genius was in the essay every time Sedaris has dialogue for his speech therapist, the “s” are initialized emphasizing her slithering exacting of the sadistic sound.

“I’m trying to help you, but the longer you play these games the longer thiigoing to take.”

-Agent Samson, p. 7

Another quote that rings beyond the story is the idea of therapy.

“…with the exception of my mother, I discussed [the therapy sessions] with no one. The word therapy suggested a profound failure on my part.”  (p. 7)

This talks to a deep seeded view, particularly in the American mind set that therapy is something for deeply broken or crazy people.

“Despite the woman’s best efforts, no one seemed to make any significant improvement. The only difference was that we were all a little quieter.” (p.12)

This is one reason why I was always quite in school until going off to university because twice a week I was made painfully aware that I talk differently and that somehow that is improper.  Not only was I made painfully aware of there was this idea that there was something painfully wrong with me to all my peers when I would be mysteriously summoned  from class  to attend my sessions.

The Learning Curve – this essay is about one of Sedaris’s earliest teaching positions for a creative writing workshop.  This was the first essay  I read, since this book was assigned for class some essays were picked for reading and this was one of them, and it made an excellent first impression of the book.

This essay, like so many of Sedaris’s others, playfully pokes deep insecurities that I imagine (hope) that I am not alone in harboring with poignant quotes:

The position was offered at the last minute, when the scheduled professor found a better-paying job delivering pizza.

p. 84

As Mr. Sedaris I lived in constatnt fear. There was the perfectly understandable fear of being exposed as a fraud, and then there was the deeper fear that my students might hate me.

p.86

Or the dreaded angry-but-clever student

“Let me get this straight,” one student said. “You’re telling me that if I say something out loud, it’s me saying it, but if I write the exact same thing on paper, it’s somebody else, right?”

“Yes,” I said. “And we’re calling that fiction.”

The student pulled out his notebook, wrote something down, and handed me a sheet of paper that read, “That’s the stupidest fucking thing I ever heard in my life.”

p.93

Before reading this and before the state of student teachers plummeted (2) I wanted to be a teacher.  Now? Who knows, maybe I’ll secure a job as a professional dust collector.

scruffy

Scruffy leads a simple life. Scruffy sweeps. Scruffy sleeps. Scruffy does it again.

 

The Late Show – This essay is about sleep.  Or rather the lack of and coping strategies.  Sedaris describes that a normal sleep schedule involves laying down around 11pm and laying awake until 5:48am in between letting his mind be occupied by various day (night?) dreams of various levels of fantastic complexity from the “Mr. Science” fantasy about being a scientist who invents “the perfect idea” and lives wildly comfortable, to “The Knockout” about being a boxer but contains some of my absolute favourite descriptions of hair I’ve ever read:

…my inky black hair, which weighs in midway between curly and wavy, and calls for the invention of a new word.

“It’s…cravy,” you’ll say. “Like a storm at sea if the ocean were made out of hair instead of water.”

p.256

Overall this is a book I have re read in part a few times mostly in part because of it’s format but also because there are some essays that really gross me out like the last one “I’ll have what he’s wearing” which I’ll leave it up to you to read and form your own opinions on.  This is the kind of book that I love to have on hand because it’s low commitment, when studying English Literature and trying to finish Infinite Jest (second swipe) reading time becomes hard to come by.

img_20170130_231339_726

I’m a little past page 500, total page count is 1057 (if I remember right). R.I.P. Antitoi brothers. 😥

Footnotes:

  1. Range: 3-20 pages per essay and average: 8.81 pages per essay
  2. Okay this is a pretty serious issue not only in the UK but also in the US with horrifying things like this “[The University and College Union (UCU)] says that higher education has become one of the most casualised sectors in the UK – second only to the hospitality industry.” The ENTIRE reason I got back into school was to get OUT of the hospitality industry, not only to get out of the minimum wage spiral but to also secure a job in a field that I could find security.  This is no longer the case and when I’m pushing 30, facing a mountain of student debt, and dependent on a government that does not value the the financial aid program or generally public education to pay for a higher education, I’m in a pretty hot situation where I cannot plan a future beyond “what am I going to eat for dinner the next 6 months?”

    rice

    2 meals a day because 3 meals feels indulgent.

Stream of Consciousness Theatre presents: First Try

Happy Monday!

life

I’m often plagued with the phrase “If you can’t find the time to do it right the first time, when will you find the time to do it a second time?” reinforced by Jack Kerouac’s philosophy of “first thought, best thought”

“By not revising what you’ve already written you simply give the reader the actual workings of your mind during the writing itself: you confess your thoughts about events in your own unchangeable way. Well, look, did you ever hear a guy telling a long wild tale to a bunch of men in a bar and all are listening and smiling, did you ever hear that guy stop to revise himself, go back to a previous sentence to improve it, to defray its rhythmic thought impact? If he pauses to blow his nose, isn’t he planning his next sentence? And when he lets that next sentence loose, isn’t it once and for all the way he wanted to say it? Doesn’t he depart from the thought of that sentence and, as Shakespeare says, ‘forever holds his tongue’ on the subject, since he’s passed over it like a part of a river that flows over a rock once and for all and never returns and can never flow any other way in time? Incidentally, as for my bug against periods, that was for the prose in October in the Railroad Earth – very experimental, intended to clack along all the way like a steam engine pulling a one-hundred-car freight with a talky caboose at the end. That was my way at the time and it still can be done if the thinking during the swift writing is confessional and pure and all excited with the life of it. And be sure of this, I spent my entire youth writing slowly with revisions and endless rehashing speculation and deleting and it got so I was writing one sentence a day and the sentence had no feeling. Goddamn it, feeling is what I like in art; not craftiness and the hiding of feelings.”

-Kerouac on “first though, best though” Source: I Fear Brooklyn

and legendary achievements such as the SF short story “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” which was not only written in one sitting/one draft but also went on to win a Hugo Award.  My experience as a cook hasn’t taught me any different, “You have to be perfect the first time, every time because we don’t have time for a second chance” as many of my chefs have told me over the years which became something I came to resent about the industry but made an imprint on how I shape my self as a creator.

I frequently feel like a man running out of time, being out of step with people of my generation and off the beaten path for what constitutes a reasonable existence, approaching thirty with next to nothing to show for myself other than a collection of scar tissue and a creative interpretation on the conventions of grammar and syntax.

I think frequently though about Kerouac’s process, regardless of his claim to write On the Road in one draft, more specifically one 120 foot long scroll he constructed to feed into his typewriter so he could write continuously, but his process was longer than that.  Longer than 120 feet and longer than the three weeks it took him to cover that roll in ink.

His idea was to capture the improvisation of the jazz musician, to create something so raw but right that the first time it comes into being it’s presentable. As Wachowaik criticizes in her dissertation Speed Limits: The Formation, Dissemination, and Dissolution of the Counterculture in American Literature 1951-1972.”

Though Kerouac projected the belief that both great writing and great jazz improvisations should be “simply realized without the thought process of the creator intervening,” he conveniently glossed over the process of the jazz musician, which involves years of study, rehearsal, and revision to produce effective “improvisation” (Elteren 87). In reality, Kerouac spent years perfecting his “spontaneous” tone, often jotting down personality sketches and stock phrases in his notebook that would find their way into his books (87).

Source

She highlights how Kerouac, like the skilled jazz improvisation artist, practiced and conceptualized his art long before ingesting eye ball vibrating amounts of coffee and speed in April 1951.  In this way, it can be said he drafted for seven years while rambling the country the same way a musician can said to be practicing even when they’re just tip-tapping.  A healthy regimen of regular writing and reading keeps the mind sharp so that when the time comes to write, it can be done with clear efficiency.

There is also an ethic to this approach, the school of minimal editing, in that the less drafts a piece takes, just like perfect plating the first time, the more warmth there is left in the final product.  My personal goal, someday, is to write a novel in the first try (in a 5×5 quad composition notebook, black ink, hand written) however I imagine it’ll go something like this:

 

Why do cats chase rats? (Mythology #1)

Happy Monday!

Saturday, 28 January 2017, was Chinese New Year and I got to thinking about this anime I used to watch when I was seeing this girl who was like really into anime.

fruits-basket

Fruits Basket, pretty amusing from what I remember.

I remember there being a 13th character in the show, a cat and I forgot all about why or what happened to the cat and I figured this might be an apt time.

Roughly the story goes as follows:

The Great Race

The Jade Emperor of Heaven decided as a way to celebrate his birthday he would invent time.  He decided on a 12 year cycle, based on Jupiter’s orbit and for festivities he summoned all the animals and announced that he wanted to hold a race and the first 12 animals to cross the finish line will have a year named after them.

Just before the finish line was a river.  The Cat and the Rat reached the river first but neither could swim.  Along came the Ox who could swim and, being a nice person, em offered the Cat and the Rat a ride on it’s back.  Just as they were reaching the shore, the rat pushed the Cat off the Ox’s back and jumped for the shore and won first place.  The Ox was a close second.

The Tiger, who also swam, arrived third and explained to The Jade Emperor that em would have arrived sooner but despite em’s strong swimming skill, the current kept pushing em down delaying arrival.

From up the river bank came a pad-pad-padding, the rabbit was hopping down the river bank.  The Emperor asked “How did you cross the river?” the Rabbit answered “I found a set of hopping stones.” The Rabbit is granted fourth place.

Down comes flying the Dragon and The Emperor is very surprised that the Dragon, who has the ability to fly, did not get first place.  The Dragon explains em self “on my way here, there was a village on fire, so I brought them rain then while flying over the river I saw Rabbit slip on a log crossing the river and gave em a helping  claw.” The Emperor was very pleased and granted the Dragon fifth place.

From down the bank, again comes a funny noise. This time it’s a clop-colp-clopping of the Horse’s hooves, confidently striding towards the finish line when the Snake drops off the front hoof of the horse giving the Horse a great fright, for the Horse did not know the snake was hitching a ride, causing the Horse to loose sixth by a nose.

Down the river comes a raft with the Goat, the Monkey, and the Rooster.  They explained to The Emperor that they could not but worked together to secure a raft and crossed the river together.  The Emperor is pleased and grants them eighth, ninth, and tenth respectively.

The dog comes swimming ashore and The Emperor is again surprised, why should the dog who is the strongest swimmer finish so late? The Dog explains that em was having such a good time playing that em wasn’t ready to call it yet.  The Dog is given eleventh.

Lastly comes the Pig trotting down, looking fully satisfied regardless of being so late.  The Pig starts to go on about all the food em found on the way, which gave everyone a hearty chuckle.

The Emperor declares the race over and the victors named.  When the soaking wet, half drowned cat washes up ashore the only one to notice was the Cat’s former friend, the Rat.  The Cat made a revenge promise which is why cat’s chase rats today.

 

All this talk about a thirteenth sign reminds me about this thing I heard about on the radio originally, back in 2009 some time around the time The Prince of PoP’s reign ended, something about a thirteenth zodiac sign.  I never investigated it much until now but apparently this idea isn’t new and originally popped up in the with the book “The Thirteen Signs of the Zodiac” by Walter Berg in 1995.  The book was a best seller in Japan in 1996 and influenced some popular video games at the time such as Final Fantasy IX.

final-fantasy

Remember this side quest?

The symbol for Ophiuchus (pronounced “o-few-cus”) is the Rod of Asclepius symbol, wielded by Asclepius a Greek hero and god in medicidne, commonly confused with the Caduceus symbol, wielded by Hermes.

Anyway it’s now the year of the Rooster.  Happy Chinese New Year!

 

 

Good Morning, Mr. Magpie (Urban Legends #2)

Happy mystery Monday!

Several months back, I did a post on an urban legend from my home town of St Louis about the spooky Zombie Road and to quote one of my favourite you tubers, Ross Scott of Accursed Farms, “Like a porn series that already knows it’s going to have a sequel, I’m putting a big number 1 in the title.”, I named the last post “Urban Legends #1” because I knew that this is a subject that I would like to revisit because I value the tradition of story telling and urban legends are something I feel like are waning in style.  I don’t mean to say I feel like they’re going obsolete nor that I believe there will ever be a time we move away from them, in fact Slender Man is arguable proof that urban legends are alive and well(1), however there are smaller local legends that rarely leave the city or place of their origin unless told and retold by wandering bards(2), like yours truly.

This one, however, is much less sinister then the two previously mentioned but none the less has an element of morbidity which, I’ve come to terms with, is quite an attractive element in stories to me(3).

scary-stories-to-tell

This was one of my favourite images from the my favourite anthology series “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”.

I first learned about this story because I was walking with a friend and we saw a solitary Magpie and she saluted it and said “Good Morning, Mr. Magpie. How are the wife and kids?” and kept going like it was something completely normal well adjusted adults do.

magpie

Just in case if you didn’t know what they look like. I had never seen any before coming to England.

And I’m not one to judge I talk to animals and plants like they’re people all the time however, never have I ever considered saluting one (or anyone for that matter). I asked and they just told me “That’s just what you do when you see one alone.” and then recited the following nursery rhyme:

One for sorrow,

Two for joy,

Three for a girl,

Four for a boy,

Five for silver,

Six for gold,

Seven for a secret never to be told.

“Brilliant. That Explains everything. ಠ_ಠ”

So I did what I do and learned a few things about the magpie and why this became a thing.

I learned that magpies, like many species of bird, mate for life and that seeing a solitary magpie is a sign of sorrow because it can mean the solitary bird has lost its mate and if you see two it is a sign of joy ergo the rhyme “One for sorrow; two for joy…”.  The salute is a sign of respect, similar to tipping of the hat, and asking after its wife and kids is to assume that it just happens to be away from the family.

The rest of the rhyme comes from a tradition of divining the future based on the behavior of birds called “Augury”, IE if you see five magpies you’re in for some money.

augur-magic

I *finally* understand the name of this card.

The depth of the myth goes on with variations of the rhyme, why magpies are bad luck (or in Chinese symbolism, they’re actually good luck), and different ways to ward off the bad luck crossing a singular magpie.

If you have a piece of urban lore you want to share, please feel free to leave a comment below about it.

 

Footnotes:

  1. Slender Man seems to fit the definition of “urban legend” as provided by dictionary.com

Urban Legend (n)

a modern story of obscure origin and with little or no supporting evidence that spreads spontaneously in varying forms and often has elements of humor, moralizing, or horror
2. I realise that “bard” is defined as “one who composes and recites poems” and as I do write poetry (rarely) but do not identify as a “poet” I am abiding by the archaic Greek definition of poet meaning “maker, author”, the use of poetry can be seen as recently as 1821 by Percy Shelly‘s essay “A Defense of Poetry” which is an excellent and extremely empowering read for any writer.
3. In talking to one of my friends about some of my favourite authors, bands, poets, movies, video games, and the stories I’m working on she said to me “Fin, I think you might be a little death obsessed.”  Now I’m taking a Victorian Gothic Horror class at university and I kind love it.  Love thy self, right?

 

Stream of Consciousness Theatre Presents: Bubbles

Happy Mystery Monday!

NOTE: I’m really sorry, I was trying to get this up while it was still Monday in my timezone (London time) but today has been one long piss take though I guess that’s what I can expect from the first day of the term.  Anyway…

Bubblegum and rice.

Some time in the last month I remember i was having a bout of insomnia and a derby of racing thoughts and in the lower left hand corner of my head-space a small window of bubbles opened up, clear and black lit by a bright reflection and a grey backdrop. Like a scene in the cutting room the bubbles were cut into or rather imposed on the middle of the film. I read a mediation on rocks or pebbles and I thought about bubbles. Empty, temporary, lively.

When I want to clear my mind, the bubbles come bubbling up in my brain like cherry cola into my nose though these bubbles don’t tickle into my scalp up to my hair.  Hair is something that lives on and in my head or rather on my head and mind. I always believed  you could tell more about a person by the hair on their head than the shoes they wear. Hair can be smooth and thick indicating healthy and happy hair. Thin and brittle on the contrast.  Colour from natural redheads to out of the box. Colours, styles, and cuts.  Length, combed, out and down or up and about. Everything says something about the person from plats(1) to pins. Shoes can say how someone walks and where.  It can indicate status or wealth. Hygiene and age.  However what can shoes say about a person that hair can’t equally articulate?

Fizz is something miss(ed) about beer. I like soda and tonic for the same reason. I remembered a lot of things after detoxing in May: I love candy.(2)  Bubble gum and taffy, and the jokes. I have a joke I want to submit to Laffy Taffy: “What did the dog say to the book? Nice Tale.”  😀 <—this is my favourite emoji, it is the ridiculous face that I like to make when I make a funny.

Laughter and anger bubble and boil. The Buddha said “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.”

Found a bobble(3) of wood beads in front of the management building. Matches well with my green Pendle jumper(4). Black watch, forest green jumper, brown wood beads(5). I feel reasonably balanced in my ensemble. I wear the same stuff so often it becomes like a brand or a uniform. “Switch up” theme party(6) 2009 C, a previous flame, and I interpreted it as “cross dress night” and i wore one of her dresses and she wore my outfit which at that time was a forest green t-shirt, a loop style buckle brown cloth belt, and faded blue jeans to which G said, while our childhood friend got stoned for the first time “wow…that is the ‘Fin outfit'”.

water-bubbles

 

Footnotes:

  1. Braids.
  2. A common symptom of alcohol detox is sugar cravings, something I learned but sort of remembered via a study I read in a class I took at Mizzou “sociology of deviant behavior” saying that candy is really popular in prison because it’s a natural mood stimulant, likely in demand due to detox and poor situations.
  3. Elastic band, usually used for hair ties.
  4. Hoodie, can also be used in reference to a sweater.
  5. My flatmate said “these are like rosary beads“.
  6. A couple of brothers who used to throw great themed parties used to have themed all the time with themes like “ugly sweater party”, “wine and cheese”, “bring someone famous” (we supposedly had a [former?] cardnals baseball player [no idea who] which give the size and extroverted social scope of the core party hosts and guests, it didn’t surprise me).