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Mac Grady posted a photo
7 hours ago
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Dan Rice, Black Mountain College artist--show and talks

Dan Rice at Black Mountain College: Painter Among The Poets An exhibition, Dan Rice at Black Mountain College: Painter Among the Poets, goes up at Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, Sept. 5, 2014, and stays up through Jan.10, 2015.  There's a free opening reception on Friday, September 5 from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.; and it features a gallery talk by curator Brian E. Butler at 7:00 p.m. A full-color catalogue will be…See More
7 hours ago
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

In 1937, ex-slaves in Asheville bore witness

Interviews with former slaves in Asheville strike the heartby Rob Neufeld             Every day we see and feel the beauty of the world and of humanity.  But history sometimes shows us how wrong things can go, and we wonder why we are vulnerable to such aberrations.            One of the most powerfully distressing examples of human cruelty and suffering comes from the testimony of M.L. Bost, an African American former slave who moved to Asheville from Newton, and spoke with Marjorie Jones of…See More
21 hours ago
Doris Anne Beaulieu posted a blog post

Woodsmen Day

Woodsmen Day ( Poem)Sport using handsaws With a toothed edge blade One or two handed sawingOn a woodsmen fair dayTraditional log rolling Is a lumberjacks technique Style used in river drivingThe illustration is uniqueSpringboard tree is branchless With live action you can’t beat Platform board is dangerousA risk if you competeBlock ax chopping Is a loggers sport indeed Hard on your back swingingBe careful of your feetWoodsmen day activities Is part of the fair you see I bring it all to my…See More
yesterday
Rob Neufeld commented on Deborah Worley-Holman's photo
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Peter McClay "M.C." Worley

"Great photo, Deborah!  Have you got some stories and details?"
Monday
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
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Christine Lajewski posted a blog post

Discussing JHATOR at UCC in Norwell, MA

JHATOR was chosen as the summer read for the book club at the United Church of Christ in Norwell, MA.  Today, the Rev. Deborah Spratley hosted an author's brunch and discussion of the book with me and members of both the book club and writer's group at the church.One of the first things I learned from the group members, who are approaching the book from a Christian POV, is that starting the book with Anat, the vulture, was unsettling for most of them.  Of course, that is the point of Chapter…See More
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Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Aug 16
Jerald Pope posted an event
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The Backyard as Metaphor: Poems on Cattle, Gardening & Goats: a Poetry Reading and Discussion with Tina Barr at Monte Vista Hotel

August 21, 2014 from 5:45pm to 7pm
The Black Mountain Author’s Guild will present nationally known poet, Tina Barr, this Third Thursday at 6pm at the Monte Vista Hotel. Ms. Barr will read a twenty minute series of poems set in Black Mountain, and will follow the reading with a discussion of her process for generating ideas in poems, with lots of audience interaction.  She will bring in a series of drafts demonstrating her revision process, from rough draft to published poem, and talk about fictionalizing elements so they move…See More
Aug 12
Doris Anne Beaulieu posted a blog post

Wishing Witch

Wishing WitchMy Halloween screenplay is funny as can be It’s funny how witchcraft is what we need to seeBrewing up trouble with all your classmates The teacher will get angry, make no mistakeCrazy riddles from a child can be so scary Being her classmate leaves you feeling waryYou may start a princess and end as a boar As her riddles will leave you in an uproarWill you return to normal after all this nonsense Is the question that has everyone in suspenseYou may not have believed in the…See More
Aug 11
City Lights Bookstore posted an event
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Timm Muth to Present His Fantasy Novel at City Lights Bookstore

August 30, 2014 from 3pm to 4:30pm
Jackson County resident, Timm Muth will read from and sign his new fantasy novel on Saturday, August 30th at 3 p.m. at City Lights Bookstore.  Disciple of the Flames chronicles the story of Darn, whose life as a herder’s son was hard, dirty and not in the least adventurous. Fate intervenes when on a journey with his father, a stranger saves Darn from a near fatal rousting by local bullies, eventually leading to Darn’s induction into a powerful religious and military order: The Disciple of…See More
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Malaprop's Bookstore Cafe posted events
Aug 9
Doris Anne Beaulieu posted blog posts
Aug 7
Sharon Gruber posted an event
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Social Function of Narrative in Appalachian Society with Charlotte Ross at Ferguson Auditorium - A-B Tech Campus

August 9, 2014 from 2pm to 3:30pm
Presented by the Asheville History Center - Smith McDowell House in conjunction with the exhibition Hillbilly Land:  Myth and Reality of Appalachian Culture currently on view at the Smith McDowell House. Made possible through a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council.See More
Aug 6
Caralyn Davis posted a blog post

New Essay Published at Dr. TJ Eckleburg Review

My new essay "A Damn Fine Female Body Part" is live at the Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review. It is NSFW, covering the topics of curse words, sexual objectification, and the actor Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead, all in under 2,000 words! See More
Aug 5
Deborah Worley-Holman posted a photo

Peter McClay "M.C." Worley

My grandfatherm M.C. Worley 1894-1983 who was a musician and instrument maker.
Aug 5
This is a great topic to explore, and I particularly like the way Gary expands from the subject into journalism and sociology. For instance, there's this entry of his:

The Jimplicute

According to Vance Randolph, this creature is a weird combination of "ghostly dinosaur, an incredible dragon or lizard supposed to walk the roads at night, grab travelers by the throat and suck their blood." Randolph further suggests that the creature was invented after the Civil War "to frighten superstitious Negroes."

Whatever his origin, the jimplicute has kin throughout the Southeast and Mid-west, and numerous hunting parties with baying hounds and impressive arsenals have scoured mountaintops, swamps and isolated farms searching for a misshapen creature that was drinking the blood of dogs, cows and hapless humans. No doubt the Texas "wowzer" is a close relative.

Sightings are not restricted to the mountains and the prairie, either. For example, the "Vampire Monster of Bladenboro" received extensive newspaper coverage in 1954, and an atmosphere of hysteria surrounded this North Carolina coastal community for several weeks. In the final days, over 1,000 armed men scoured the countrysides and swamps looking for "a sleek, black creature with a round head" that was slaughtering dogs, sheep and cattle. When a half-starved bob-cat was shot, many hunters refused to believe they had killed the "vampire monster" and continued the search. However, the killing of domestic animals stopped.

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Here are a few more entries from my "critters" manuscript which should give an idea of the range of subjects.
Waterloo Plovers

A breed of chicken native to Arkansas. Their eggs were golden brown with a rainbow extending around the larger end. Accord-
ing to Randolph, "Men who ate Plovers' flesh grew strong and wise; and the women who fed on the Plovers' eggs became tall and beautiful. In later years, some of the Plovers wandered away and crossed with wild pigeons, producing a strange hybrid called the Waterloo Bonney. The Bonney, like the Sidehill-Hoofers, adapted to the steep Arkansas hillsides by developing one long and one short leg. Certain families in Arkansas explain that the beauty of their women and the strength and wisdom of their men is due to the fact that the family is a direct descendant of ancestors who fed on the flesh and eggs of the Waterloo Plover.



The Whirling Whimpus

Last seen in in the Cumberlands of east Tennessee. Mentioned in Wyman's book., in a section devoted to a reprint of "Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods" by William T. Fox. The Wimpus has dininitive hind-legs, an enormous torso, the head of a gorilla and huge forefeet with razor-sharp claws. Its most ominous trait is the ability to spin so rapidly, it becomes invisible. In fact, the only indication of its presence is a "heavy droning sound, seeming to come from the trees overhead." According to Fox, it preys on campers and lumbermen who are out "scouting timber." The Whimpus hides in the bend of a trail and its unsuspecting victims simply walk into the invisible creature whose claws function like circle-saws, reducing flesh and bone to "syrup and varnish."

Whistling Wampus (aka Whistling Whoo-hoo)

A huge wildcat with supernatural intelligence and a talent for making beguiling sounds. Some species can whistle, and lure hapless
hunters and woodsmen to their doom by whistling at them from
"dark cedar thickets." Lumberjacks often explain the disappearance
of a fellow worker by saying, "I guess the Whistler got him." In
addition to whistling, some wampus cats give calls - usually "Hoo-
Hoo" or "Whoo-Hoo." The combination is supposedly irresistable,
something like the siren call in Greek mythology. The folklore of
other regions have some fascinating near-kin of the "Whistling Wampus." (See "Notes")

The White River Monster

Early in June, 1937, a farmer suddenly appeared in the town of
Newport, Arkansas crying that something as big as a whale had
appeared in the White River. He described it as "big as a boxcar,
like a slimy elephant without any legs." This was not the first time
that strange marine life had been reported on the White River, and
many people in the area had heard of the "devil fish" that had alleg-
edly been caught back in the 1860's. The townspeople rushed
to the river and several citizens claimed to see the creature. When
the newspapers got wind of the sighting, they managed to get
plenty of descriptions, but no photographs. When curious folks
continued to arrive, the Newport Chamber of Commerce realized that
the event had money-making potential. Striking an agreement with
the farmer who had reported the sighting (near his farm), they erected a fence and charged admission to the public. Signs proclaimed, "This Way to the White River Monster." Within a
short time, the whole area acquired a circus-like atmosphere.
Armed men patrolled the river banks continually. Some people
were of the opinion that dynamite should be used to kill the
monster. A professional diver was employed to verify the fact
that the creature existed. The Chamber of Commerce built a dance
platform on the bank, fiddlers and banjo-pickers appeared and
concession stand were erected. a public address system kept the
curious crowd informed as to the diver's progress in finding the
"monster." Armed with a harpoon, the diver descended and returned without seeing anything except logs, rocks and old boats. Interest
waned quickly and when the diver found nothing on the second day, the crowd drifted away. Some folks now claim that the farmer created the entire hoax to protect a bed of mussels he intended to
dig while everyone was distracted by "the monster," which was an
old sunken scow that moved and surfaced when the farmer pulled
a complex system of wires. The farmer's share of the Chamber of
Commerce profits was an added bonus. (See "Notes.")
The stories that might begin the Mythical Creatures section, I think, are the Cherokee ones about people's divorce from animals: The Origin of Disease; The Origin of the Bear; and the story about animals living in an idyllic world on mythical mountaintops and below caves. Other types of stories stem from this human divorced-from-animals feeling of awe toward animals, including those in which people use fearsome animals as fear cards.

Barbara Duncan has recently engaged Cherokee storytellers in retelling some of these stories.

Gary's bobcat story makes me think that the folklore of panther sightings belong in this section.

My "Popular History" starts off with bear lore, including a modern tale, "The Bear Hunters of Dillingham."

I'm imagining an anthology that tells stories, but also makes sense of them through the ordering of the stories. How and why are myths created?

That man who invented the White River Monster is not unlike any threatened culture that tries to spook people away. (This should suggest a bunch of stories to you all.)

Then there are the sacred animals, animals as totems, and as spirit guides. Our stories of this kind have become so weakened. Spiderman? But MariJo has her crow stories and poems. Barbara Kingsolver in "Prodigal Summer" has her wolf. And the Arkansawans have their Waterloo Plovers.

Just a start.
Rob's mention of "painters" reminded me of this entry in my list of "critters."
Gary


Painters

There is nothing imaginary about the painters that once lived in the Appalachians and the Ozarks. In fact, a lot of folks tell me that they are still around. (See "Notes") However, the folklore associated with the super-natural powers of the mountain panther has more to do with imagination than fact. The average native of Appalachia can tell a "painter story," usually about their great-great-great grandmother, who, when pursued through the woods by a painter, distracted the beast by throwing articles of clothing behind her. There is a good one about a little woman named "Granny Pop" over in the Big Bend section of Haywood County that did that. Usually the shivering woman arrives home "devoid of linen," or ends up neck-deep in a mountain pool where she is rescued by her husband/father who shoots the painter. Mountain folk in western North Carolina often tell stories that have been "passed down in the family" about how their triple great-grandmothers had saved their families from a painters. Drawn to the house by the smell of a newly butchered hog (or a new-born child), the painter would attack the cabin door and scream. The resourceful woman would either pull her spinning wheel close to the door and begin to spin or she would play a fiddle or other stringed instrument. The sound woul disconcert the painter, who would remain in a state of confusion until the husband or a neighbor arrived and killed the "charmed beast."

Wilbur Zeigler and Ben Grosscup relate a frightening personal encounter with mountain painters in an abandoned cabin alleged to be "hanted" by local hunters. The narrator of this story awakes in the
night to the sound of terrifying screams, thumps and crashes. In the light of of a dying fire, the author watches shadows move, and tries to create a rational explanation for the gore-splattered floor. Eventually, he learns that several painters were in the cabin with him. While devouring a fresh kill, the painters are frightened by a snow-slide which strikes the cabin, cascades down the chimney and extinguishes the fire. Bolting for the door, the painters (and a badly frightened companion) brush against the author and escape. Shortly after this experience, four painters are found living in the rock cliffs above the cabin and are killed.

All of these stories, whether true or not, sound factual. It seems conceivable that a hungry mountain panther would behave in this matter. However, many tales describe painters as gigantic creatures
with preternatural intelligence and senses; they can "smell the flesh of a new-born baby," or the milk of a nursing mother. Driven to a frenzy by these smells, the painters descend chimneys and murder entire families. In some tales, they walk upright. Where is the line between fantasy and fact?. Probably somewhere around the point where the painter stands erect and begins knocking on doors with its paw. (See "Notes.")
Yes. yes, Gary! Thank you. Now, I'm convinced that the first, sample chapter should be on mythical creatures, and that it should begin with painters rather than the Cherokee stories of the divorce between humans and animals. (Rattlesnakes and bears might rival.)

Painter stories are perhaps the most current examples of mythical creatures, and thus connect people to the subject. (Hey, all you all folklorists, where are you all? Name your painter tales, heard, experienced, and read.) After introducing the current beasts, the chapter can then progress thematically back to the time when....

In fact, if we go mountain lion-snake-bear, there'll be the natural as well as thematic transition ot the Cherokee origin stories.

Gary, you cover many bases in your entries. It would be fun to juxtapose a few of the chased (chaste?) woman unclothing stories. Regarding the painter smelling a new born baby, Robert Morgan tells a great tale in "The Trace," one of the three stories in his book The Hinterlands.

/Rob
There are lots of stories about painters in Graham and Cherokee county.

Most of these are told as fact so there aren't a lot of super natural claims about them in these. Generally, they start with mention of the panther's scream which is said to sound like a that of a woman in pain. Several have them jumping into a campsite as everyone runs for their lives. Others have them screaming back and forth to each other.

The forest service tells me that they are still around in those areas but are pretty scarce. They seem to wander down out of the mountains once in a while when food is scarce just long enough to keep the stories going.
Isn't this just great?

I'm going to hurry because I'm going up to Twelve Bones in a minute for barbecue. I trust everyone in this group knows that barbecue is a NOUN!

My main interest in all this is what is it about us that mythical beasts inspire wonder when "ordinary" ones don't? The idea that a known wolverine, if you learn about it, is way more fascinating than the mythical werewolf. And when I say this please understand that it is in no way a criticism of the subject or our interest in it. Not at all. Nor is it a criticism of the belief of those who might have believed in these creatures. They are a testimony to the human imagination and the will to believe, both of which are endless and never cease to amaze me. Law, that sounds arty! I didn't mean it that way, I swear. I know Gary has explored this and related issues in his previous posts here, and when I get back, I'll give them a thorough looking-over.

But it's an old habit, isn't it, making up/imagining/believing in half people/half animals. Goes all the way back to the sphinx and farther back than that, for sure.

My focus, and my obsession, has always been right there at the juncture of myth and belief. I'd love to know the answer to that question I posed above, in part because I've always wondered about 'near 'bout everything, and also because I'd like to have an explanation for people who don't understand the fascination with folklore. But then maybe if it's explained it goes away, so just forget it.

But I do know that in the genre of "weird fiction" where some of what I've written has been placed, there remains that pulp fiction fascination with monsterdom, even among writers and readers who are strict naturalists. Think of H.P. Lovecraft, for instance. Maybe there is something archetypal even about bug-eyed monsters.

As y'all know, my favorite mythical creature, hands-down, is the old-fashioned ghost. I could go on and on about that, but I won't, because I know the thread here is about mythical animals.

I remember as a kid growing up in Charlotte, my friend and I always got all misty-eyed when her grandmother mentioned the mountain lion that once inhabited the then-farmland of northern Mecklenburg County. No doubt the cougar did prowl in her grandmother's time, but just the idea that it might come back lended a magic to our days. Likely, if we saw it several times, there would go the magic.

I swear I saw one in Flat Rock when I moved here 11 years ago. More on that later, that's not terribly mythical, except that I believe it and nobody believes me.

I remember hearing about the cabbit, the result of the breeding of a cat and a rabbit.

I researched and wrote about Skunkfoot of the Dismal Swamp years ago. He's a local Bigfoot.

I've hollered at Dot to come join. Let's hope she does, because she collected so many tales during her tenure at the Charlotte Observer. I grew up in Charlotte, you know, and Dot herself was kind of like a legend. Still is.

Dot covered the Lizard Man of SC, and I recalled her telling about its kinship to some creature or another with a giant, lizard-like tail that left tracks in the dirt.

Dot also covered the "Wooly Booger of Drexel."

(Forgive me if some of this is covered in your posts, Gary. I have to read them later, but wanted to hurry up and get this post in before I have to leave for a while.)

But what I really want to tell y'all about is the Monster of Matthews.

I'll do that in another post. Don't want to "lose" this one.
Sherry, the folklore about mythical creatures should include natural history, I think.

For instance, here's a take I took on a Wildlife Commission piece:

There's much to admire about the bear’s spirit. She-bears are very rarely caught. Also, they wait until they are in their caves before taking the pause button off their about-to-be fertilized eggs, according to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s DVD, “The Bear Facts.” Hibernating, bears need neither to feed nor eliminate wastes, yet they maintain their muscle structure. Doctors, the DVD reports, are studying the bear’s unique hibernating functions “to benefit a wide variety of people from kidney patients to those suffering from osteoporosis.”

I think we should find some good science writing to include in our folklore section! /Rob
Well, you may or may not know that I'm all for good science writing! I did a NC Humanities Council talk for a while on literary nonfiction about nature and science. One series of books I came across would tie in very well with the folklore of crows, ravens, etc. MIND OF THE RAVEN by biologist Bernd Heinrich is one of them. He has a series of raven books that I've perused though not entirely read. RAVENS IN WINTER is another. Simple, eloquent prose. If I could start over, I'd get grounded in science and do that kind of writing!

And, oh, the folklore of trees. I have always loved the idea of tree spirits. I'm sure you've seen MEETINGS WITH REMARKABLE TREES and REMARKABLE TREES OF THE WORLD. Of course, it goes without saying they are not about tree spirits, but they do explore trees tied to mythology and human culture.
I have a new book out that's a bestiary of these mythical creatures. Fearsome Creatures of Florida includes the Skunk Ape, El Chupacabra, and others you might not know. Take a look at the website, which opens with some animation of the Mangrove Man! www.fearsomecreatures.com
I saw a sleek black critter up here in the cove one day during a walk. :) -- Don't think it was that one though, but it was a beautiful animal -- looked to be a feline, too large to be a cat, but I don't know....
It looked at me; I looked at it -- and I can't remember which one of us turned around and left first *laugh* but I haven't seen it since.
PS - I didn't throw off my clothes, by the way . . .

I am loving reading these! I would so buy a book with a collection of stories like this.

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