Monday, March 29, 2010
The vampires of Prague seem like a half-arsed bunch. One fellow, who became a vampire was a shabby little man who frequented second-rate ale houses. When he didn't have enough money to buy his own beer he finished the dregs left by others. No one even knew his name. One night a fight broke out between two men and he was unlucky enough to be standing close by. The little man was accidentally stabbed and died.
He was taken to a crematorium to be burned but he had become a vampire and escaped. He survived by sleeping in other people's coffins in the graveyards of Olsany. Too timid to kill, he fed by lickng up the blood of people who got into fights and the knees of chldren who had fallen over, hence his name Drinker Up Bloody Knee. It is said that if you want to see this pathetic little vampire you must give yourself a nosebleed. He will appear to lick up the drops of blood.
When in London Psalmanazar began to entertain people with tales of his exotic land, of most interest to London’s educated classes were the stories of Formosa’s religious practices, which included stories of annual mass child sacrifices, and he peppered these anthropological observances with details of the wildlife of Formosa. According to Psalmanazar, despite Formosa being off the coast of Eastern China, the countryside was filled with animals you would expect to see on the African savannah, like elephants, giraffes and rhinos.
As time went on Psalmanazar's stories became wilder and when word of them reached a Jesuit who had just returned from Formosa, the Jesuit decided to set the record straight and label Psalmanazar as an impostor. Psalmanazar publicly denounced his critic as a jealous peddler of lies and society sided with Psalmanazar, believing his exotic tales over the boring and sober ones of his critic. The critic had been right, though; Psalmanazar was an impostor who had been born in France and had never even travelled as far east as Rome. There had been clues to this staring people in the face from the beginning other than the wild tales and their associated out-of-place animals, not least that Psalmanazar had fair white skin and a mane of blonde hair. When questioned about his appearance and why he did not have darker skin like other people from Asia he explained this by saying that the upper-class people of Formosa spend nearly all their time indoors away from the sun while the lower-classes toil outside getting tanned.
After about four years he admitted his deception publicly, but by this time the low attention span of London’s elite had moved on to other flavours of the month and didn’t care all that much that they had been duped. Psalmanazar went on to write about the real geography, culture and ecology of Formosa and was highly critical of the way people had fallen for his hoax so easily. He lived out his days on a pension of £30; a not unsubstantial sum at the time given; to him by admirers.
The yellow-spotted bell frog was once ubiquitous in the northern and southern tablelands of NSW, but was almost wiped out after the chytrid fungus arrived from Africa in the early 1970s.
It was found alive and well in 2008 by government researcher Luke Pearce, who was searching for a native fish, the southern pygmy perch. Instead, he spotted the bell frog, which has distinctive markings on its groin and thighs.
Read more here:
'A Big Fish in the Dee
The recent capture of a “big fish” in the Dee has attracted so much attention that it is well to say that there is “nothing new under the son,” as will be seen by the title of the following ballad, which is in the Pepysian Collection of Cambridge (1). I performed most of the ballad at a recent meeting of the Pepys Club, but can only give a few lines here. The Broadside begins as follows: “A description of a strange (and miraculous) fish, cast upon the sands in the meads in the Hundred of Worwell in the County Palatine of Chester (or Chesshiere). The certainty whereof is here related concerning the said most monstrous fish.”
'To the tune of Bragandary
It is almost five yards in height,
Which is a wondrous;
O mark what marvels to our sight
Our potent Lord doth bring.
These secrets Neptune closely keeps
Within the bosom of the deeps.
In England nere the like.
Already sixteene tuns of Oyle
Is from this fish extracted,
And yet continually they boyle,
No season is protracted.
It cannot be imagin`d how much
`Twill yeeld,the vastness of it is such.
In England nere the like
Verse 15 (and last)
The Mariners of Chester say
A Herring-hog `tis nam`d
Whatere it be, for certaine they
That are for knowledge fam`d
Affirme,the like in ages past
Upon our coast was never cast.
In England nere the like.
The Printer adds “There is a book to satisfy such as desire a larger description thereof.” I should much like to see a copy. The early spelling of Worwell for Wirral is worth noting.
In conclusion, I should add that the whole ballad is printed in Professor Rollins` valuable collection of Broadside Ballads, entitled, “A Pepysian Garland,” Cambridge Press. J.C.Bridge. (2)
1. This collection still exists,at least it did about 6-7 years ago.
2. J.C.Bridge A Big Fish in the River Dee. The Cheshire Sheaf vol.25 October 1928 p.75
Bob Dylan Desolation Row
They`re selling post cards of the hanging
They`re painting the passports brown
The beauty parlourI is full of sailors
The circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner
They`ve got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the type rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad is restless
They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row
On this day in 240BC Halley’s comet was recorded for the first time.
And now, the news:
Hybrid pet wolves escape and roam parts of Ohio
Coyote caught in New York
Alligator rumors gaining traction
Stares and Stripes
Don't fear the bald squirrels
Neanderthal may not be the oldest Dutchman
Mongolia winter kills herds, devastating the poorest
Hope for Scotland's red squirrels
Well, they’d have to be ‘nuts’ not to at least try vaccination.