As always, we’re going to start off with reader mail.
How about a sea faring theme. What was the first supernatural story to appear to have happened on board a ship ?
Well, when I first got this question the story that popped into my med is that of Homer’s Odyssey. The tale of the Warrior Ulysses/Odysseus, the King of Ithica and his attempts to get back home after the war against Troy (The Iliad, aka a wonderful story butchered by Hollywood that no one should ever go see.). All the man wants to do is go home and see his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus, but due to wacky events it takes him ten long years to return back home. This story has gods, magic users, a man eating Cyclops, a visit to the Land of the Dead, and assorted other foul beasties and fiendish thingies.
The Odyssey I find to be a much better Epic than the Iliad. It’s got more amusing moments, a more interesting tale, and better developed characters. If you’ve never read an Epic, you’ll notice one big thing about the story, and that’s that it bounces around chronologically. This is called In Medias Res, which is a literary technique developed by Horace (not the Homer who wrote this tale), which means to start in the middle of a tale, and then tell the first half of the story through flashbacks and narration as you are reading along.
If you actually try to read the Greek version of The Odyssey, you will notice three things that make it stand out. The first is that the Odyssey was designed to be read aloud, not silently. Yes, all 24 chapters of the Odyssey used to be recited orally way back when. The next thing you’ll notice is that the Greek is quite different from any other Greek you will ever read. Homer had his own amalgamated dialect never found in anyone else’s work. The final thing you will notice is that when you read or speak the original Grecian Odyssey, it has a distinct rhythmical patterdactlyic hexameter. Each line of the original Greek was composed of six feet (syllabels) Indeed, the Odyssey was written in Dactylic Hexameter. This means each line was a metrical foot consisting of one accented syllable followed by two unaccented or of one long syllable followed by two short, as in flattery.
The Odyssey is considered the foundation for Western story-telling and quintessential fictional literature. I’m also a firm believer everyone should read this, and today, I’m going to include some links to where the entire 24 Chapter tale can be found online for you to read.
An Odyssey Resource Page where you can read the Epic tale translated by six different authors and also a few Cliff Notes’ style summaries for those of you without attention spans.
M.I.T. hosts a translation by Samuel Butler for you to read.
This is probably not the very first of all sea-faring supernatural stories, as you could probably make a case for the Sumerian tale of Marduk and Tiamat, but that’s more a creation story in my opinion. Same with Egypt. Egyptian folklore has a few minor tales about seafaring, but the Odyssey is by far the most dramatic and has had the biggest impact on Western Culture, so I went with that.
Other excellent tales you might want to read that take place on a boat include The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Richard Middleton’s The Ghost Ship. Both of these are Victorian tales however. So they are not quite as old.
Overall Mike, I strongly suggest taking a read of the Odyssey if you are looking for something to read over the next week or so. Finally though here is a list of some great resources on the topic for you:
Botkin, B.A., ed. A Treasury of New England Folklore. Rev ed. New York: American Legacy Press, 1989.
Cahill, Robert Ellis. Haunted Ships of the North Atlantic. Salem, MA.: Old Saltbox Publishing House, 1997.
Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd, 1940.
Scott, Beth and Michael Norman. Haunted Heartland. New York: Warner Bros, 1985.
I have a bunch of other mail, but most of it relates to the two VG reviews I did for the Kliq this week, as well as…oh hell, let’s show you some of the typical mail I get each and every day.
DO YOU NO HOW TO CATCH MEW,IF YOU DO IT WOULD BE GREAT!
Ah the price for being one of the best known Pokemon addicts on the planet, eh? And in case you’re wondering, you can’t catch Mew except in the upcoming Pokemon Emerald or unless you get him from a special Nintendo event.
But let’s keep going with the nautical theme we’ve got going this week, shall we?
Today is going to be a special treat for many of you, as in tune with this theme suggested by Mike, I was going to do the origins of the Loch Ness Monster. But in doing research, most things I found said the legend was first recorded in 1871, when a man named, “D. MacKenzie” first sighted the monster.
However, I ran across an old book of mine called, Strange Scottish Stories which I found a story written back in 1851 by a man named William Grant Stewart in a book called “The Popular Superstitions and Festive Amusements. I have never found anyone else that can get either of these books, but within their pages is a tale about the Loch Ness monster under its original name, “Kelpie”, and the story even ends talking about the recent sightings of the Kelpie in the lake, and how people seeing it are mistaken. This of course means the tale is older and longer than believed by most scholars on the subject, excluding the tale written in 565 AD by Saint Columba (which has nothing to do with the Loch Ness Monster itself, it is just a tale about a monster in general swimming in Lake Ness). I decided, due to the almost impossible nature of finding this tale anywhere, to reprint it here in Nyogtha so you can at least say you have had the pleasure of being one of the few people living today to read the oldest known Loch Ness Monster story ever found.
The Water Kelpie of Loch Ness
In former and darker ages of the world of the world when people had not half the wit and sagacity they now possess, and when, consequently, they were much more easily supped by such designing agents, the water-horse, or kelpie as it is commonly called, was a well-known character in Scotland. The kelpie was an infernal agent, retained in the service and pay of Satan, who granted him a commission to execute such services as appeared profitable to his interest. He was an amphibious character and generally took up his residence in lochs and pools bordering on public roads and other situations, most convenient for his professional calling.
His commission consisted in the destruction of human beings, without affording them time to prepare their immortal interests, and thus endeavor to send their souls to his master, while he, the kelpie, enjoyed the body. However, he had no authority to touch a human being of his own free accord, unless the latter was the aggressor. In order, therefore, to delude the public travelers and others to their destruction, it was common practice of the kelpie to assume the most fascinating form and adapt himself to that likeness which he supposed most congenial to the inclinations of his intended victim.
The likeness of a fine riding-steed was his favorite disguise. Decked out in the most splendid riding accoutrements, the perfidious kelpie would place himself in the weary traveler’s way, and graze by the roadside with all the innocence and simplicity in the world. The traveler supposing this fine horse to have strayed from his master, and considering him as a good catch for carrying him part of the way, would approach the horse with the greatest caution, soothing it with proogy proogy and many other terms of endearment, in the event of his taking to his heels, as wild horses are sometimes apt to do. But this horse knew better what he was about; he was as calm and peaceable as a lamb, until his victim was once fairly mounted on his back. Then, with a fiend-like yell he would announce his triumph and plunging headlong with his woe-struck rider into an adjacent pond, enjoy him for his repast.
One such water kelpie lived in Loch ness and committed the most atrocious excesses on the defenseless inhabitants of the surrounding districts. It was the common practice of this iniquitous kelpie to prowl about the public roads, decked out in all the trappings of a riding-horse, and in this disguise place himself in the way of the traveler, who often took it into his head to mount him, to his no small prejudice, for upon this the vicious brute would immediately fly into the air and in a jiffy light with his rider in Lochnabord, Lochspynie, or Loch Ness, where he would enjoy his victim at his leisure.
Filled with indignation at the kelpie’s practices, Mr. James Magrigor, a man of great strength and courage, ardently wished to fall in with his kelpieship in order to have a bit of communing with him touching his notorious practices. And Providence, in its wise economy, thought it meet that Mr. Macgrigor should be gratified in his wish.
One day as he was traveling along Slochd Muichd, a wild and solitary pass on the road between Strathspey and Inverness, whom did he observe but this identical water kelpie, browsing away by the roadside with the greatest complacency, thinking no doubt, in his mind, that he would kidnap Mr. Macgrigor as he had done others. But in this idea he found himself woefully mistaken! For no sooner did Mr. Macgrigor espy him than he instantly determined to have a trial of his mettle.
Accordingly, marching up to the horde, who thought, no doubt, he was coming to mount him, Mr. Macgrigor soon convinced him of the contrary by drawing his trusty swords with which he dealt a pithy blow on the nose, as almost felled him to the ground. The stroke maltreated the kelpie’s jaw very considerably, cutting through his bridle, in consequence of which, one of the bits fell down on the ground. Observing the bit lying at his feet, Mr. Macgrigor had the curiosity to pick it up, while the astonished kelpie was recovering from the effects of the blow, and this bit Mr. Macgrigor carelessly threw into his pocket. He then prepared for a renewal of his conflict with its former owner, naturally supposing the kelpie would return him his compliment. But what was Mr. Macgrigor’s surprise when he found that, instead of retorting his blow and fighting out the matter to the last, the kelpie commenced a cool dissertation upon the injustices and illegality of Mr. Macgrigor’s proceedings.
“What is your business with me Mr. Macgrigor? I have often heard of you as a man of great honor and humanity. Why, therefore, thus abuse a poor defenseless animal like me? Let me be a horse, or let me be a kelpie, so long as I do not do you harm. In my humble opinion, Mr. Macgrigor,” continued the Kelpie, “you acted both cruelly and illegally; and certainly your conduct would justify me, if I should return you twofold your assault upon me. However, I abominate quarrels of this sort,” said the conciliatory kelpie, “and if you peacefully return me my bit of my bridle, we shall say no more on the subject.”
To this learned argument of the kelpie Mr. Macgrigor made no other reply than flatly denying his request in the first place and in the second place mentioning in pretty unqualified terms his opinion of his character and profession. “It is true,” replied the other, “that I am what you call a kelpie; but it is known to my heart, that my profession was never quite congenial to my feelings. We kelpies engage in many disagreeable undertakings. But as the proverb says, ‘Necessity knows no law’, and there is no profession that a man or spirit will not sometimes try for the sake of an honest livelihood. So you will please have the goodness to give me the bit of my bridle.”
Observing the great anxiety envinced by the Kelpie to have the bit of his bridle restored to him and feeling anxious to learn its properties, the sagacious Mr. Macgrigor immediately concocted a plan, whereby he might elicit from the poor dupe of a kelpie an account of its virtues. “Well, Mr. Kelpie,” said Mr. Macgrigor, “all your logic cannot change my opinion of the criminality of your profession, though I confess, it has somewhat disarmed me of my personal hostility to you as a member of it. I am, therefore, disposed to deliver up to you the bit of your bridle, but it is on the express condition that you will favor me with an account of its use and qualities, for I am naturally very curious, do you know?”
To this proposition the kelpie joyfully acceded and thus addressed Mr. Macgrigor: “My dear sir, you must know that such agents as I are invested by our Royal Master with a particular commission consisting of some documented delivered to us by his own hand. The commission delivered to a kelpie consists of a bridle invested with all those powers of transformation, information, and observation necessary for our calling; and whenever we lose this commission, whether voluntarily or by accident, our power is at an end and certain annihilation within four and twenty hours is the consequence. Had it not been that my bridle was broken by your matchless blow, I might be so candid as to declare I might have broken every bone in your body: but now you are stronger than myself and you can be half a kelpie at your pleasure, only please look through the bit of the bridle, and you will see myriads of invisible agents, fairies, witches and devils, all flying around you, the same as if you had been gifted with the Second Sight, and all their machinations clearly exposed to your observation.”
“My dear sir” replied Macgrigor, “I am much obliged to you for your information. But I am sorry to inform you that your relation has so endeared the bit of your bridle to myself, that I have resolved to keep it for your sake. I could not persuade myself to part with it for any consideration whatsoever.”
“WHAT!” exclaimed the petrified Kelpie, “Do you really mean, in the face of our solemn agreement, to retain the bit of my bridle?”
“I not only mean it but I am resolved on it,” replied Macgrigor, who immediately proceeded to make the best of his way home with the bit. The kelpie still continued his earnest entreaties, interlarded with anecdotes of great squabbles which he had formerly had with as powerful characters such as Mr. Macgrigor and which he had always ended to his eminent advantage but which, he politely insinuated, he would be sorry to see repeated. But when they arrived in sight of Mr. Macgrigors house, his grief and despair for his bridle began to evince themselves in a threatening aspect, but a single flourish of Mr. Macgrigor’s trusty sword disarmed him of all his might and made him as calm as a cat.
At length, when they arrived at Mr. Macgrigor’s house, his grief and despair for his bridle became perfectly outrageous. Galloping off before Mr. Macgrigor, the kelpie told him as he went that he and the bit should never pass his threshold together, and in pursuance of this assurance, he planted himself in Mr. Macgrigor’s door, summoning up all his powrs for the impending conflict.
However, James Macgrigor resolved, if possible, to evade the kelpie’s decree, and accordingly going to a back window in his house, he called his wife towards him and threw the bit of the kelpie’s bridle into her lap. He then returned to the kelpie, who stood sentry at the door, and told him candidly that he was a miserable legislator; for that, in spite of his decree, the bit of his bridle was that moment in his wife’s hands.
The kelpie now finding himself fairly outwitted, saw the vanity of contending with James Macgrigor and his claymore for what could not be recovered. As there was a rowan cross above the door, his kelpieship could no more enter the house that he could pass through the eye of a needle, and he therefore thought it best to take himself off, holding forth, at the same time, in the most beastly language.
Let me remind you what the loss of the bit meant to the poor kelpie. As he had informed Mr. Macgrigor, the loss of the bridle or indeed any part of it meant the loss of his powers and certain annihilation within four and twenty hours. Now if this story be true, those who claim to have seen a monster in Loch ness in recent times must surely be mistaken.
Interesting to note that the Loch Ness Monster legend is a century+ older than it was thought to be. As well, I really wish people still wrote and spoke like this. It’s so nifty!
I review the latest Ys game this week.
Will Quinn reviews the new Punisher Game while Williams reviews a Winnie the Pooh game.
Giffen and DeMatteis are the best Justice League writers ever and Tim Stevens reviews half of a Flash comic?
In Music, read Gloomchen and shriek in horror that Tom D’errico can justify enjoy the zillionth Motley Crue “Best of” album. Bad Tom! BAD!
PK was supposed to find me a Hawkeye figure, but he never did. Boo PK! Oh, and you can check out the Figures Section’s complete coverage of TOY FAIR
Eric S. didn’t do a Smackdown Short Form this week, so I’m instead plugging his Daily Pulse. FYI Eric, 1 out of 4 Brits believe the Wedding of Camilla and Chuckie should be the negation of the Royal Family. It’ll be interesting to see who does in fact get to be King once Liz kicks it.
Haley is back.
Who was stupid enough to go see Son of the Mask? Arturo Garcia!
A bunch of staffers discuss the Simpson’s Gay Wedding Episode like it is actually some earth-shaking event of cultural importance.
A bit of a different take this week. As well all know Hunter S Thompson recently passed away. Personally, I think he was an over-rated drugged out ninny whose accomplishments were overshadowed by his poor decision making skills and that the fact he shot himself while on the phone with his wife is an appalling and horrific act.
However, one of my friends who is a chef up in Seattle made some Hunter S Thompson Memorial Burgers and they sounded so good, I made them for myself and a friend. And guess what? They were FABUUUULOUS. So I thought I’d pass on my version of the recipe to you, my readers.
2 Pounds ground black angus beef
8 slices sharp cheddar cheese
4 Hamburger Buns
12 slices of bacon
4 sliced jalapeno peppers
1 bottle of your preferred BBQ sauce
1 head of any NON-ICEBURG Lettuce (never f*cking buy iceburg people!)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 bottle of A-I thick and hearty sauce
1. Take the ground beef and divide it into 8 quarter pound patties. Take your index finger and make a hole in the middle of the patty that goes halfway down and is two fingers thick. Fill this whole with A-1 and let the meat sit, so that the A-1 Marinated the burgers.
2. Slice the Jalapenos and onion into circular pieces.
3. Fry the bacon to the tenderness or crispiness you prefer.
4. Take a tiny piece off the side of the burger patties you made and make a little “cap” for the A-1 hole you made earlier. Then place the patties on a grill and cook to your desired consistency. The A-1 will bubble over a bit and spread it self across the burger while grilling, marinated it even more. I suggest a George Foreman grill so that it will cook faster and so you don’t have to turn the patties over and risk losing the marinade.
5. When burgers are cooked to your liking (I do medium rare), put two patties on a bun and interlay each level with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese. Put the entirety of one Jalapeno on each double burger, along with three slices of bacon. Garnish with lettuce and onion to your preference.
Serves 4. And they are very filling indeed.
That’s it for this week. 15 weeks of straight Nyogtha in addition to the many weeks of the Daily Pulse beforehand. And still the only one not to have missed a column. ;-)