Monster Monday: Hydrus

Photo from the British Library

Old maps are amazing. They show a much different version of the world than what we know. Prior to the further exploration into the interior of new countries there were writers like Pliny the Elder who wrote about the new creatures and people that he had heard about. One of the beasts Pliny wrote about was the Hydrus, this is not to be confused with the hydra.

The Hydrus was a snake type animal that lives in the Nile river in Egypt where it was considered a crocodile killer. The hydrus would allow the crocodile to roll it in the mud while it slipped into the crocs mouth. While in the crocs stomach the hydrus would eat it’s way through the side of the croc. Thus killing it.

The interesting fact about the hydrus is how it is described. Pliny states that it is type of river otter whereas Isidore of Seville lists the Hydrus as a type of snake. In Isidores description of the hydrus that caused those that it bit to swell up. But you would be able to cure the swelling with Ox dung. Isidore also noted that the smell of the beast is healthful. However; you wouldn’t want to put the hydrus in your food as the meat is poisonous.

I find the hydrus to be really interesting. In that there are two different descriptions of the hydrus that are widely different. Was it a otter or a snake? This was a new monster for me and I am interested in seeing if any of the other ancient writers wrote about the hydrus. I personally have only found the two descriptions of the hydrus. If you have seen another ancient author writing about the hydrus please let me know. I reviewed a few of the ancient maps that are online but I didn’t see the hydrus listed in Egypt.

The Lady from the Black Lagoon by Mallory O’Meara

I love monsters; from Dracula to Godzilla; from the mummy to zombies. Throughout my life it was something that I hid from most people unless you really knew me. I feel in love with the drama and the chills that monsters are able to cause. I’ve watched Creature From the Black Lagoon more times then I would like to admit. I’ve always found the story of the Gill man to be sad just like I have found the story of Frankenstein’s monster to be sad. I never really thought about the people that designed the monsters just the story. After reading The Lady from the Black Lagoon that is all going to change.

Synopsis: Non-fiction biography of the woman that designed the creature from the black lagoon.

What I liked: Dear loard….this book gave me all the feels. I was mad and fascinated and sad all at the same time. I wanted to take to the internet to scream about this book as loud as I possibly could. I wanted to thrust it into the hands of my nearest and dearest and tell them to read it. O’Meara’s writing is conversational and flows through the book. You can truly feel O’Meara’s feelings about Milicent and monster movies through her writing. Some non-fiction books feel like a slog to get through but this wasn’t the case with The Lady from the Black Lagoon the anecdotes and the way that O’Meara wove Patrick’s life with her own made me want to keep reading. If you don’t read any other book recommendation that I make this year please please pick this up. Especially, if you are woman that is in the horror realm.

What I didn’t like: There is nothing in this lovely book that I didn’t like.

Star Rating: All the fucking stars!!!

My thoughts: I have a lot of thoughts about Milicent Patrick and lots of feels about her as well. But I want to start out by saying that a lot of what O’Meara says about herself was a lot like listening to my own inner voice. This is a book that is so much more then just about Milicent but it is for all us spooky girls and creative types. Growing up I took a lot of flack for wanting to be home early on Saturday Nights to watch Friday the 13th the series, Monsters or the fright night features. My friends never have been able to understand my love for horror movies and books. It is easier now with the advent of the internet and the fact that I have a great group of horror loving female friends and I don’t feel so alone in the world.

Folklore Thursday: The Man with the Chicken Feet.

The definition of Folklore is traditional beliefs, customs and stories of a community; passed through the generations by word of mouth. I grew up in the American Southwest where American and Mexican folklore intersect. One of my favorite stories is the man with chicken feet. If you haven’t heard the story before sit back and enjoy.

Many many years ago there were community dances. Young people would dress up in their finest clothes and dance the night away. On the night of one of these dances. Against her parent’s wishes a girl dressed up in a beautiful red sparkly dress snuck out of the house to attend one of these dances.

When the girl arrived the dance was in full swing; people were dancing and having a great time. From across the room the girl spied the most handsome man. She watched as every woman in the community center danced with the handsome stranger. The women were enthralled by the man and stood in small clumps talking about how handsome he was.

After a couple of hours the stranger made his way to the girl and asked her to dance. The young girl and the stranger twirled and whirled faster and faster. The dancing couple were a blur to those around them. Something must have startled the girl because she looked down at her dance partners feet. The handsome stranger no longer had the legs and feet of a man but the feet of a large chicken. The girl screamed and fainted. When the girl finally came around the man was gone.

The girl returned home and told her parents about the stranger with the chicken feet. Her mother crossed herself and explained the handsome stranger was the devil and if she hadn’t screamed and fainted he would have taken the girl’s soul.

There are many different variations of this story throughout the American Southwest and Texas. This was the version of the story that I was told when I was growing up.

Monster Monday: Elephant eating Dragons

I decided to open up my weird little world a bit and I am going to be writing a couple of different weekly columns Monster Monday and joining in for Folklore Thursday. I believe that my love of horror really stemmed from my love of monsters, mythology, folklore and fairytale. They are all scary in their own ways and are usually the first “horror” stories that we are told.

Most of us love dragons. The wing creatures that take flight with large leathery wings that can scorch the earth or hide deep underneath the mountains on hills of gold. But did you know that India had a dragon that fought elephants? The Roman historian Pliny the Elder wrote about the Indian dragons in The 8th Book of the History of Nature chapter XI.

Pliny stated that the elephants and the dragon’s were continually at war with each other. The dragon would hide in the foliage of trees along the route the elephant would take to get food or water. It would drop down on the elephant and wrap itself around the packaderm’s legs and attack their vulnerable eyes and trunk. In Pliny’s manuscript there was no mention of the dragon breathing fire or being venomous however; Hugo de Folieto added to Pliny’s description of the Dragon’s of India. Folieto added indeed the the dragons are indeed venomous and attack ships that are sailing in the Indian Ocean.

Today we may think elephant fighting dragons are ridiculous. However, during this time it would have been common for the local mythology to be included in histories of areas of the world that hadn’t been explored by the author.