Belphegor

Welcome back to my blog, and to the introduction my new favorite word. 

“Belphegor” is a classic demon name, possibly based on the name of a Moabite god, Baal-Peor.  But don’t worry, there’s no demonology angle here.  The name seems to appeal to creative types across various cultures, and, of most interest here, to French pop culture creators, starting with the pulp writer Arthur Bernède  who in 1927 gave the name to a character he created to rival the success of the Phantom of the Opera and other classic French pulp characters. 

There were several Belphegor pulp novels, followed by silent and talkie films, and even some comics. And, most important to me, there was a black and white TV miniseries in 1965 that apparently was insanely popular, and which has become a long term cult classic. (At least to people who have a Region 3 DVD player and speak French– there doesn’t seem to be a subtitled version.)

(This site is a good place to start reading about Belphegor’s history in French pop culture:  http://www.coolfrenchcomics.com/belphegor.htm ) 

So Belphegor was very much on the minds of the people of France, when Citroen introduced their new line of trucks.  (You knew there had to be a car in here somewhere.)  In the Citroen catalog it was simply “Citroen 350”, but people immediately started calling it “Belphegor” after the ghostly TV character.

Imagine how I felt on Saturday afternoon, when I walked into a long, dark, half lit garage, and saw this:

http://lanemotormuseum.org/show_vehicle.php?veh=CITROENTYPE3501968

It’s one of these: http://www.citroen.mb.ca/cItROeNet/utilities/belphegor/belphegor-01.html 

in rough-but-more or less complete condition, undoubtably waiting to be restored.  And it is absolutely the coolest, funkiest truck I had ever seen, and joins the IH Travellall and the Hudson Big Boy as “trucks I would buy if I could even though I cannot drive a stick shift”.   But more than that, it spoke to me artistically.  When I saw its silhouette from a distance, before I knew what it was, I knew it belonged in Kekionga.  And now there is a story where there was only a blank line and a question mark before, in the overall series plan.  Bud is going to acquire a mysterious Belphegor, and it’s going to be … haunted.

I’ve pretty much decided to make mine a flatbed like the one I saw, or this one from Danish TV: http://www.ckc.dk/minebiler/rygaard/ 

Or “Gaston” belonging to a man named Adam in Los Angeles, the lucky pup: http://www.citroen.mb.ca/galleries/Adam/gaston/

I’m very excited about this new character and its story, which is going to be quite long and as spooky as I can make it.

Before I go off and do more research,  I have to give a monster shout out to the owners of the wonderful Belphegor, the Lane Auto Museum in Nashville.  http://lanemotormuseum.org/  If you like cars at all, you owe it to yourself to go to this link and click on “our cars”.  I’d never seen half the cars there in the metal, only in photographs, and there were things in their collection I never even knew existed.  Only the one pic of the Belphegor, I’m sorry to say, (boo!), but you can’t really blame them.  There are many, many vehicles on display and even more in storage, and to put multiple views of each on a website would take up more bandwidth than any not for profit could afford.

Enjoy what they can afford to share, and go there if you can.  I spent at least 4 hours staring, shooting and taking notes, and could easily have doubled that and not seen enough.  The building (a wonderful old mid-20th Century bread factory)  is well lit; the collection is barrier free so it’s a dream to photograph, and if you go around the back you can stand in the weeds and peek through the windows and see a storage area I would pay big bucks to tour. (Citroen DS 21 painted in an allover Stars and Stripes motif, anyone?  2CV rally car with 4 eyes? Something I’m pretty sure was a Goggomobile?) 

Anyway, wonderful old cars, and especially gorgeous French trucks with good backstories, make for a great weekend.  Long live Belphegor!

Sharkipede

Bonus track:

Two Three other interesting things that are called “Belphegor”:

1) an Austrian death metal band.  Their latest album is called “Bondage Goat Zombie”.  They seem to be quite popular, with lots of reviews and fansites, but I do not think they are quite my sort of thing.

2) A scholarly journal of popular literature and media culture, published by Dalhousie University:  http://etc.dal.ca/belphegor/  This is my sort of thing, and it looks very interesting– there have been two issues entirely about comics.  I will be reading more of this when I have some spare time.

3) The Mielec M-15 “Belphegor” jet agricultural aircraft, based (though you have to squint a bit) on the classic Antonov An-2 cabin biplane.  Wikipedia claims the aircraft earned the nickname by its “strange looks and noisy engine”.  I can’t comment on the engine noise, but twin boom jet biplanes with a single engine mounted in a strut above the crew cabin are not exactly thick in the ground, so its looks must qualify, at the very least, as unusual.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-15_Belphegor 

The Wikipedia notes that the nickname surfaced after the aircraft was shown at the Paris Air Show, so it’s possible it’s a French nickname and related to that of the “camion Belphegor”. 

M-15 Belphegor fun fact: the aircraft uses the same engine as the Yak-40 mini-trijet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yakovlev_Yak-40 , which many consider to be the first “regional jet”.

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Published in: on April 9, 2008 at 3:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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Somewhat less vexed and ratty.

Hmm.  Things seem to be looking up, as three out of four of yesterday’s rantworthy problems seem to be solved, or are at least showing progress.

UPS arrived at the sterling hour of 7:10 pm yesterday– our neighbor at the wheel of the brown truck, looking like he’d had a long day.  The motherboard, once unfrozen, seemed to actually work.  Mr. Shark reported seeing the BIOS setup screen (or some damn thing that it’s good to see) before he had to stop work for the evening.  He says he will give me all the specs of the new computer when he gets it up and running, and I will share them with you.

Aren’t you lucky?

 I got my newspaper this morning.  Snarky emails containing the word “unacceptable” continue to work their magic, particularly when accompanied by promises to take the problem to the same paper’s editoral staff.  Apparently there is such a thing as bad publicity.   We will file this under pending, since there isn’t really much more they can do to fix it except deliver a paper every morning.  Well, apologies and sucking up might help too.

And, best of all, I have my new glasses– both pairs.  I had substantial changes in all three of my corrections and a large shift in my astigmatism to boot, so it’s going to take some getting used to, but I can tell everything is basically right.  So now I feel like I’m alternately living in HiDef and am about to fall over.  It’ll pass.

A huge shout out to my very favorite eye doctor in the whole world, Dr. F, and her lovely sidekicks P and T, who got my scrip just right, my glasses described so the lab was able to get everything in the right place, and the new specs fitted perfectly, respectively.

And to Vick at the Optometrist Attic, what can I say?  Full sized, traditional frames, not the teeny weeny “fashion” ones?  On the internet?  At a fair price?  You rock.

The last problem was the weather. Still damn cold.  What can you do?

On the work front, both covers of Kekionga #2 are finished!  Now it’s a matter of coloring them, but that’s a huge step forward.  I’m quite happy with them.  The front is a strong but simple portrait of Soup with Josef standing on his shoulders, as he’s seen partway through the issue, and the back is an out-take– full length figures of Bud and Sumac, sharing a moment of conversation that takes place a few minutes after the end of the story.

Maybe we’re getting somewhere.  I sure hope so.

Sharkipede 

Published in: on January 25, 2008 at 7:27 am  Comments (2)  
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Starting the year off right

It’s nice when your belongings, old and new, start the year off right by behaving themselves.

The weather has been ghastly here at Sharkipede World Headquarters, some of the worst winter we’ve seen in several years, with heavy snow earlier in the week followed by below zero temperatures over the last two days.  It’s certainly the coldest and snowiest it’s been since I learned to drive, and I’ve been doing a little dogsitting over the holiday.

So I’ve been doing some winter driving, and Junior has been coming up aces.

For those of you who may be newcomers to NSC, Junior is my 1997 Buick Century Limited,  just exactly like this,  Sandhurst beige over matching leather:

http://consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/1997-to-2005-buick-century-5.htm?photo=2
Junior is possibly the most boring car in the known universe.  This model, in this color, is a favorite of local retirees and serves admirably as a “stealth car”.  Even I have trouble finding it in crowded parking lots.

But Junior is 100% reliable in all local weather (so far), with a nuclear powered heater and defroster, and plenty of room in the footwell for driving in snow boots.   Nothing like good old fashioned American iron.  Icontinue to be quite glad I made a conservative choice and did not indulge my taste for “interesting” cars that probably don’t start and run in single digit temps.

There are a lot of these nice cars around used at moderate prices, and they are well regarded by consumer organizations.  Smooth, comfortable, and quite peppy, but inclined to gasket problems (mine have all been replaced) and not exactly fuel economy champs.  But if you don’t drive a lot of miles,  you might want to consider one.  And no one will see you coming.

On the other hand, interesting computers are hard to resist, particularly when they too seem to work reliably.   I got a wonderful Christmas present this year– an Eee PC from ASUS, and it’s a terrific little item.

http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=24&l2=0&l3=0&l4=0&model=1907&modelmenu=1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASUS_Eee_PC

(Mine’s black and I think it looks way cooler than the white one shown in the official pictures.)

I’d been wanting one of these for a while, being amazed by its small size and light weight and intrigued by the idea of using a computer with open source software.  So far  it’s been more fun than I could have imagined.  The Open Office word processor seems to be 100% compatible with Word on my Home Base PC, and the included graphics programs are really powerful and lots of fun to use.  I can see myself making a whole comic on my Eee PC quite soon.

I’d be interested in hearing from anyone else out there who is messing around with an Eee, particularly anyone who is using the Linux graphics software to make comics.

And anyone else, of course.  Don’t be worried if your comments don’t show up right away.  The default here at WordPress seems to be that comments are moderated by the blogholder, and I’m going to leave it that way for now.  Don’t worry, though.  I won’t censor you, my loyal readers!

Sharkipede

Published in: on January 4, 2008 at 8:44 am  Comments (1)  
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