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OK, I’m not going to sugarcoat it, my idea for today’s blog post did not work out. I was going to write about Gothic mascots—a perfectly serviceable mashup of two favorite Ferrebeekeeper tags—but, when I got home from work and started researching gothic mascots the pickings turned out to be exceedingly slim—a Simpsons gag (the Montreal vampire), a bunch of troubling Lolita cartoons, and those godawful “Capital One” barbarians who are trying to sell you some sort of credit card (are they even Visigoths? Is “Capital One” even really a real credit card?). Apparently nobody wants any sort of gothic mascots except for predatory lenders.
Oh no!–what if Capital One destroys my credit rating for making fun of them? [collapses laughing]
So I ended up looking with increasing desperation at past mascots for anything of any interest and this line of inquiry lead me back to that Simpson’s joke about the Montreal vampire. Montreal is a francophone city—beautiful and evocative—yet prone to making choices which are different from the market-driven choices of other places. What was the mascot of the 1976 Montreal Olympics? And, Bingo! suddenly I had today’s blog post.
This is Amik the beaver. Amik means beaver in Algonquin—so this character (which looks like it was designed by somebody who just spilled an entire bottle of India ink) is really named “Beaver the beaver.” Anik appears with a red stripe with the Montreal Games logo on it or sometimes with a pre (?) pride rainbow strip.
I am making fun of poor Anik because I don’t think beavers lack faces. Nor are they the unsettling pure black of absolute oblivion. Maybe I found my Gothic mascot after all—in the most unlikely of places—Montreal, 1976! I will write a better post tomorrow. In the meantime enjoy the strange juxtaposition of nihilism and naivete which was seventies design.
Namorodo Spirit (Mick Kubaku, 1971, earth pigments on eucalyptus bark)
Ferrebeekeeper has not written about the undead for quite a while…so here is a terrifying monster from Australian aboriginal folklore. Namorodos (Namorroddos) are a type of evil nocturnal monsters from the mythology of Western and Northern Arnhem Land. Namorodos come from broken lands of rocks and sharp cliff faces. Made of dried skin, gristle, and bones, they fly through the night on howling desert winds. They are desiccated and thin and horrible—desert corpses brought to savage hungry life by supernatural force.
Like vampires and other undead, namorodos seek to suck the moist insides out of living humans (and thus transform the living into fellow namorodos). As with the horrible Alpine Krampus monster, namorodos seem especially fond of preying on willful children who become lost because they fail to listen. They seem like the savagery of the arid lands personified as a villain: a lesson written in horror.
Namorodo Flying in the Sky (Wesley Ngainmijra, 1988, Chalk on paper)
Namorodos are also illustrated in the beautiful art of Arnhem land. Look at these disquieting yet elegant pictures of the arid monsters.
Some things are easy to write about. For example, the world’s largest catfish was an effortless topic—what a great fish! There is plenty of information about the animal and its giant size makes it instantly fun and interesting (although the specie’s widespread decline does bring a sense of mounting unease). For a wide variety of reasons, other subjects are considerably more difficult to address. Sometimes the information is unavailable or the data is lurid and upsetting. In a poignant incongruity, one of these troubling topics happens to be the world’s smallest catfish, the candiru, which hails from the Amazon basin of Brazil.
The term itself “candiru” can mean either the species Vandellia cirrhosa, or it can refer to several genera of similar small catfishes. There is apparently even a genus “Candiru”. To put it bluntly the candiru is a vampire catfish. It enters the gills of larger fishes and sucks their blood–well actually, it doesn’t suck the blood as such. To quote “fishbase” an online fish resource, “[The candiru] bites mostly at the ventral or dorsal aorta arteries, and the blood is pumped into its gut by the host’s blood pressure. It does not need any special sucking or pumping mechanism to quickly engorge itself with blood, but simply uses its needle-like teeth to make an incision in an artery.” The candiru is small. Vandellia cirrhosa rarely exceeds lengths of 1-2.5 in (2.5-6 cm) with a width of 3.5 mm (although much larger specimens are known).
The junction of the Amazon River and the Rio Negro, (near Manaus, Brazil) is the principal haunting ground of the candiru. The catfish hides in the sand or mud. When prey swims by—either in the day or at night—the candiru uses its tremendous sense of smell and powerful eyesight to hone in on the other fish’s gills for a blood meal. The Candiru has backwards pointing spines behind its gill covers. It can lock itself into a victim’s flesh with these razor sharp rays.
The candiru is not picky about its blood source and this has made it one of the most feared fish in the Amazon. It has been known to enter swimming humans through various orifices or through open wounds. Lurid ethnological reports from as far back as the 19th century detail this fish’s intimate depredations of human hosts.
It is entirely whimsical—even childish—to speculate about whether the catfish is averse to garlic, possesses immortality, has become a hero to preteen girls, speaks with a strong Baltic accent, etc.