Saturday, 27 September 2008

You were right Johnny, you can't win no matter what you do.

The thing about writing a blog is that every so often you come across something that you absolutely love, but can't work out for the life of you how to use it. I have a folder at my desk simply labelled “random” full of little bits of weird and wonderful stories, statistics, newspaper clippings, and scraps of paper with a single sentence or just one word on it, all of which I promise to find a use for and never do. Every so often I'll reopen it, hoping to find something relevant that I can use for whatever I happen to writing about at the time. More often than not I spend my time scratching my head, wondering why the hell I thought the population growth of Belgium between 1983 and 1997 would be useful for, well, anything.

(Gee note: By the way, did you know that there are more Elvis impersonators in the World than there are actual Belgians? Feel free to use that interesting fact at cocktail parties, you'll be the toast of the town.)

Anyway when writing about the Monkey Man this week I was a bit pushed for time, and so sacrificed my usual perusal of the Random folder thinking that I wouldn't find anything useful in it anyway. Instead I simply read as many reports as I could in the time allowed and wrote my thoughts on the subject.

Alas I now wished I had dug in to my collection of odds and ends because, as I found out this morning, mass hysteria isn't just a modern occurrence. Flipping through the file I came across something my pal Rob Haines, knowing my penchant for all things peculiar, had sent me about a month ago (Gee note: That's also the second plug for Rob in about as many weeks. I should work on commission or something.)

Now I don't know how you feel about dancing. I went to the wedding of a dear friend recently and ended up, to use the parlance of our times, shaking my booty. It lasted all of thirty minutes before I realised that A) I'm ridiculously unfit and that B) I really have hit the point in my life where I'm starting to bust a move like my father would.

So I can only imagine how uncomfortable I would feel if I was in Strasbourg, France, in 1518.

Not that there's anything wrong with Strasbourg itself you understand. Or France for that matter. Any country where people drink wine like mineral water and a three hour lunch is welcome, nay expected, is A-OK with me.

But in 1518 in that very location a woman named Frau Troffea started to dance out in the open on a narrow street. For, er, no apparent reason either. Seriously, it wasn't like Stevie Wonder was busking on the corner or something (Gee note: Quick question. If Stevie Wonder was a homeless busker you'd give him money right? Well what if you were walking past and the only song he was singing was “I just called to say I love you”. Would you give him any spare change then? I hate to admit it but I'd really have to think long and hard about it.)

This is where it starts getting a little strange. Because Frau didn't do just a little jig and head off on her merry way. Instead she kept on dancing. And dancing. And dancing. And dancing. And dancing. Reports indicate that she danced for four to six days non stop before succumbing to exhaustion. She shouldn't feel to bad about it though. Even the great Muhammad Ali gave up trying to dance after just six minutes in Zaire in 1974.

One would think that if someone has a mental breakdown and starts body popping in public places, they would either be arrested, mocked mercilessly, or ignored. But Frau must have tangoed up a storm because by the end of the week 34 people had joined in, almost as if it was fashionable (Gee note: “Darling, saving the environment was so last season. It's all about stepping up now.”).

By the end of the month the number of people dancing numbered in the region of 400.

It should also be pointed out that these people were, by all accounts, really dancing. Not convulsing or suffering from spasms. It was real, honest to goodness, Patrick Swayze style, boogying down. And eventually people started dying. Heart attacks claimed some, other's were taken by strokes, with exhaustion also getting it's fair share.

They had, quite literally, danced themselves to death.

Now all this is very interesting. But what, if anything, does it have to do with the Monkey Man? Well one explanation put forward for both the panic in India and the disco fever of Strasbourg is a psychological condition known as “Mass Psychogenic Illness” or MPI for short. A form of mass hysteria, MPI can be known to cause large communities of people to go crazy in ways which seem strange or even absurd to an outsider. It is usually triggered by extreme levels of psychological distress, and seeing as Strasbourg was slap bang in the middle of one of the worst famines in history at the time one can safely say that would count as a factor. And, if like me, you initially find that the idea of people killing themselves by doing the mashed potato because they're a tad stressed a little unbelievable, I'd like to direct your attention to a case of MPI in Singapore 1967. During this time thousands of men were reported as suffering from “Genital Retraction Syndrome”. Or penis panic if you prefer.

(Gee note: Basically, it's when otherwise perfectly sane males convince themselves that their sexual organs are slowly disappearing into their own body, much like a frightened turtle. Those sensible folk at the Singapore Government eventually had to order a media blackout and a series of public broadcast announcements explaining in the nicest possible terms that penis retraction is in fact biologically impossible, just to halt the epidemic of rather terrified men.)

And so when looking at the two cases MPI seems to fit the bill rather nicely and explains an awful lot about the events that occurred both in Strasbourg and New Delhi.

Unless of course there is really a half man half monkey tearing up the streets of India, and that 500 years ago the people of France were possessed by a dark demon who liked to cha-cha-cha.

Because if that's the case then, comparatively, losing our collective minds might not be so bad after all.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The first cut is the deepest.

You know, life has a tendency to get you down. Whether it be worrying about family, health, wealth, relationships, or success and lack thereof. Whatever it may be sometimes it can all just get a bit too much. It happens to all of us once in a while. And, individually, we find ways to cope. Some of us blow off steam by hitting a bottle, or a psychotropic drug. Some of us blow off steam by immersing ourselves in television. Some of us find hobbies such as stamp collecting or building miniature rail road kits. Some of us just surround ourselves with people who happen to be available, hoping to live vicariously through them so we don't have to think about ourselves for a bit.

Me? I simply remind myself that I'm not a four foot tall Sadhu wandering around New Delhi.

Allow me to explain. Sadhus are religious men. Practitioners of yoga that dedicate their lives to the pursuit of liberation and a higher understanding of God by way of meditation. Which seems like a pretty sweet gig if you can actually make money at it (Gee note: Beats my idea of making a quick buck by dressing up as a large tomato and running around in circles. I'm not really sure how this would make money. It just sounds like a heck of a lot of fun).

So imagine the scene when in the summer of 2001 in the capital of India a four foot tall Sadhu, a tiny little holy man who wouldn't raise a clenched fist to a flea, was beaten half to death by an angry mob. Actually don't imagine it. Because I can pretty much guarantee that whatever scenario you can come up with it wouldn't be all that insane compared to what actually happened.

To begin at the beginning. On May 13th 2001 fifteen people checked in to a tertiary care teaching hospital in East Delhi suffering from scratches and abrasions. Now considering around 700 people check in to the same hospital every night you would think fifteen people with slight cuts wouldn't raise an eyebrow. But when each of these people tell you, quite seriously, that they were attacked by a monkey you might think twice.

But then, having said that, in East Delhi monkey attacks are relatively common. Not common enough for fifteen separate cases in one night, but as recently as last year over 40 cases of injury by primate were reported in Delhi alone.

So a rabid monkey hits down town Delhi and attacks some folks. “Big deal” I hear you cry. Well it is if the monkey isn't really a monkey. If it's a half monkey half man hybrid that runs on two legs and slashes with the claws on it's hands then people tend to sit up and take notice. And then tell other people about it.

That was the starting point. In the following fortnight a wave of calls flooded in to the Police Control Room in Central Delhi describing vicious attacks by a so called Monkey Man. Most reports were inconsistent, some claiming the Monkey Man had glowing red eyes (Gee note: Is it just me or do all monster's have red eyes? Isn't that racial stereotyping? “Yeah I seen one of 'em monsters. All red eyed and listening to that rap music. They'll be taking our jobs next, you mark my words.”) and sometimes a cape, or a metal helmet, or a glowing light on it's chest. And it could, depending on who was telling the story, squeal like a banshee or growl like a wolf.

Some reports also claimed that the Monkey Man could change shape.

But all of the reports shared one thing in common. The creature was vicious, slashing and biting it's way through the people of Delhi. This carnage was all taking place amidst one of the worst summer's in Indian history. A heat wave tortured the country, knocking the already ridiculously hot temperature up several notches. The usually stable power grid started to fail on a daily basis, plunging the city in to darkness every night. Add to this rumours spreading through the slums like wild fire of an evil beast rampaging through the streets and the combustible elements started to read like a “How To...” guide on starting a nation wide panic.

And panic they did. All in all 23,324 complaints were made to the Police. 397 individual reports were compiled from victims of Monkey Man related incidents. And at the end of the two week period three people had died, over two dozen more were injured and collectively the people of Delhi were scared out of their minds.

The Police responded by offering a reward of 50,000 rupees for any information leading to the capture of the Monkey Man. They released an artist's impression to local newspapers (Gee note: As you can see, Cat Stevens better have a damn good alibi as to where he was during the month of May 2001).





Flares were fired in to the air at night to illuminate darkened street corners. Politicians ordered extra electricity be routed to Delhi in order to curb the power cuts. Gangs of neighbourhood residents formed, ready to protect their communities.

And that's when our friend the Sadhu came to town.

The Sadhu was a hobo wanderer with no fixed abode. Dressed in traditional robes and covered with ceremonial paint his biggest crime was walking down the wrong street while all this chaos was unfolding around him. An already anxious bunch of overheated, terrified locals took one look at him, put two and two together, came up with 67, and proceeded to kick the holy living hell out of him before dragging the poor guy to the nearest police station and ordering the hapless officer behind the desk to arrest him.

And it didn't stop there. A 19 year old student was attacked by a group of twenty people in the North of the city. A man driving a white van had to speed away after a crowd of vigilantes began to throw bottles and chase him as he drove through the suburbs. A pregnant woman threw herself down a flight of stairs when a report of the Monkey Man being nearby caused a stampede. She died hours later in hospital as a result of her injuries. Two more people, both men in their early 20's, would suffer similar fates.

In short, Delhi was tearing itself apart.

The thing with mass hysteria is, well, it's insane. A retrospective report indicates that a large majority of those attacks, 28% of selected case studies, were reported by people with no formal education. 89% of the attacks were reported by people who earned less than £600 per annum. Of the 397 police reports 260 were proven hoaxes. And many of those admitted to hospital were suffering from domestic animal attacks, inflicted by regular household cats and dogs mainly.

Eventually the police caught on. As each new report came in claiming that the Monkey Man flew in through a window and mocked the victim's toupee, or the Monkey Man broke in downstairs and played Rolling Stones records really loud until 3am in the morning, an official Police spokesperson announced to the media that there was no such thing as the Monkey Man.

And with that it all stopped. No more hospital visits, no more calls to the police, no more vicious beatings of innocent bystanders. The local media started to breathlessly talk of “delusions on a massive scale” and before the rest of the world knew what to make of it, the whole thing was put to bed.

The sad thing is, because it happened in India, we in the West have a tendency to raise a smug smile to ourselves and take it for granted that we, with our public schools and our running water, would never get to the point where we started assaulting members of our own community because we were scared of “the bogeyman”. That's something that the people in the ghettos of India do. You know, those gullible fools who believe in statues drinking milk and all that. Idiots.

Well it should be pointed out that in July 2000 the British Sunday newspaper the News of The World, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, started a controversial campaign to “Name and shame” convicted paedophiles living in mainland Britain. Spurred on the by the widely reported death of Sarah Payne the paper ran a front page splash of pictures and names of people who were currently not wanted by police and had served their debt to society for any crimes they had committed.

But that didn't matter in the case of Iain Armstrong, Victor Terry, and Michael Horgan. After the News of The World went to print these three men were attacked, their homes vandalised, and their families threatened. A crowd of up to 300 people targeted Mr Armstrong outside his home in Bradford, While both Mr Horgan and Mr Terry were bombarded with hate mail campaigns.

Now some people may not necessarily have a problem with all this. After all they're paedophiles right? Those sick freaks deserve everything they get.

Except Iain Armstrong, a man who suffered from viral meningitis and a spinal disorder, Victor Terry, a 78 year old widower, and Michael Horgan, a family man and proud father of a six year old girl, weren't paedophiles. They were innocent men, victimised and attacked because they happened to share the same name as someone who had a criminal record. And while all this was going on a riot had broken out in the city of Portsmouth that lasted for, when it was all said and done, four whole days.

So before we all start to scoff at the naïve and uneducated Indians who got themselves in to a flap over a silly made up animal, it may be worth noting that only 11 months earlier the Monkey Man could be found at large in Britain.

It had just changed it's shape. That's all.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

No let me hate him. It'll keep me awake before the coffee kicks in.

I hate practical jokes.

Actually I should qualify that. I don't mind the occasional prank. I worked in an office once where the rest of the staff where given a bunch of Christmas decorations with which to liven up the work place with festive cheer. I took a couple of days off only to return to find the entire lot covering my chair and my work station, right down to a tiny little bit of tinsel wrapped around the mouse chord, while the rest of the office was bare. Made me chuckle for about a week before somebody stepped in and advised it was a potential health and safety risk. Killjoy.

But I really really hate practical jokes that serve no purpose other than to mock someone else. You know, like loosening the top of a salt shaker and waiting for someone to use it. Gags like that prey on people's trust and naivety. And the truth is their not funny, just mean spirited.

Which is why I don't understand the mentality of a hoaxer. I mean I know it's fun to pretend you're something you're not (Gee note: Especially when you're in a bar at 1 am attempting to attract members of the opposite sex by claiming you're a racing car driver. “Yeah baby, you know that Lewis Hamilton? I whupped him in a Go Kart once. True story.”). But hoaxes generally serve no purpose other than to make other people look foolish. That's of course if they succeed. If they don't the hoaxer themself tends to end up looking like an idiot.

Unfortunately in the world of cryptozoology hoaxes are rife. From the “Flying Bigfoot of Florida” to the “Surgeon's Photo” the temptation to dupe the general public in to believing that monster's walk amongst us is obviously quite strong with some people.

Such was the case in Georgia this summer when the world's media were invited to a press conference to learn about the “discovery” of the body of an animal that was reported to be the fabled Bigfoot (Gee note: It must be noted that when I say Georgia I am of course referring to the U.S. State and not the country that at the time was engaged in a conflict with their neighbours Russia. Although that would have been amazing. “Comrade Boris, the Russians are advancing. What should we do?” “Sheesh Ivan I do not know. Wait! I've got it! We will hold a press conference to say we have found the Bigfoot that the American's seem so crazy about. That will teach those no good Russians!” “Mmmm. You know sometimes Boris I wonder why we ever made you General.”).

Now the story went that two men named Rick Dyer, a former prison guard, and Matthew Whitton, an officer with the County Clay Police Department, went down to the woods one day and, gosh, did they have a big surprise. For there in a clearing lay the corpse of a giant beast, it's intestines hanging from a wound in it's belly. Whitton and Dyer sensing that they had found something special carried the body, entrails and all, back to their truck. They then took it to an “undisclosed location” where they threw it in to a large freezer for preservation.

Sometime after that Whitton and Dyer got in touch with Tom Biscardi, the “Real” Bigfoot hunter if his website is to be believed (Gee note: Unlike all those sell out Bigfoot hunter's who have turned their back on the streets and gone corporate. Those guys suck.). If Biscardi's name sounds familiar it's probably because he was involved in a massive controversy back in 2005 when he claimed on the radio show Coast to Coast AM to have found, wait for it, Bigfoot. He said he would air footage of said ape man on his website which could be viewed for a subscription charge of $15. When the day finally arrived that the footage was due to be shown there was no Bigfoot, or in fact any video feed of any kind. Instead Biscardi claimed he himself had been “hoodwinked” (Gee note: By a bunch of “scallywags” no doubt) and that he was saddened to report that the specimen had never existed. Which does kind of beg the question as to what exactly he'd set up a camera to film in the first place? A large badger perhaps?

Anyway back to Georgia. Biscardi, having already played this game before, immediately got in touch with pretty much every news organisation in the world. And, like migrating birds, they all came to town. BBC, CNN, ABC, FOX, etc, etc. Amazingly the cryptozoology community, having been burnt by Biscardi before, immediately smelled a rubber gorilla costume rat. Loren Coleman, the cryptozoology version of Jurassic Park's Alan Grant, basically called Biscardi everything but a fraud on his Cryptomundo blog. It turns out Biscardi had convinced some poor sap to stump up $50,000 so that Whitton and Dyer would hand the body over to him. During this time Whitton and Dyer's story about discovering the body had changed a good four or five times, and in the course of the press conference Biscardi became, well, kind of aggressive when questioned. He did however show a photograph of the alleged body, and offered to show more on his website.

For $2 a pop.

An associate of Biscardi's, someone called Steve Kulls who by happy coincidence happened to be the first person to interview Dyer on his internet radio show, then got to work examining the body. Because the “corpse” was frozen Kulls had to wait around and let it defrost naturally so not to spoil or distort any of it's flesh. As soon as a patch of fur materialised Kulls removed a sample and immediately thought it looked and felt synthetic. To further prove this theory he then set fire to said sample and watched it curl up in to a ball, much like a thin strand of plastic would. Kulls then ordered his crew to set to the rest of the specimen with hair dryers and heaters. When the body had thawed out it was discovered the head was hollow, and the feet were made of rubber. (Gee note: On a completely unrelated note, does anyone remember the movie “Harry and the Hendersons”? Wouldn't it be great if the tag line for that film was “They've shacked up with a sasquatch!”? Just saying, that would pretty cool right?)

And so, if you believe Kulls, he informed Biscardi of this. Biscardi apparently challenged Whitton and Dyer. They confessed “Bigfoot” was nothing more than a Halloween costume. Bicardi again claimed he had been “hoodwinked”. A lot of people said “I told you so”. Coleman and contempories ran a series of blogs telling the world that something like this fiasco does more harm than good when it comes to serious study of cryptozoology. Whitton got fired from the police department. He and Dyer then promptly stopped picking up the phone. Biscardi then started to claim on his website that he was responsible for discovering it was a hoax after all, making it almost sound heroic.

And so the great Bigfoot Hoax of 2008 dragged it's sorry self to a close, and it's probably time to ask the question: What lessons have we learnt from it?

Well apart from the certain truth that Tom Biscardi was more than likely in on the whole thing from the start, which would make him nothing more than a two bit hustler at best, and that really Loren Coleman is probably the world's most astute man, not much it turns out.

The only positive thing that can be taken from this is that it was the “sensible” media that blew the whole thing out of proportion. In a way organisations like the BBC, CNN and FOX were the one's that lost the plot in reporting this in the first place, especially when the people who were the most knowledgeable and reliable about the subject all pretty much agreed that it was nothing more than a hoax.

Which is really pleasing in some regards. Because if you're reading this simply because you happen to be, like me, interested in things that are a bit odd then you probably have the same reservations as I do about sharing it with other people. It's one of those things that is deemed to make one a “social outcast” like reading comics or watching professional wrestling. So it's good to know that sometimes, just sometimes, the “sane” people go a little bit crazier than the “crazies”.

Having said that, seeing as the “sane” people are the one's who also keep us informed about what's going on in the middle east or what's going on with our country's economic problems, I'm not sure that's a very pleasing thought at all.

**************************UPDATE****************************************

It turns out the tag line for “Harry and the Hendersons” is “When you can't believe your eyes, trust your heart”.

How lame is that? Seriously “They've shacked up with a sasquatch!” is a thousand times better.

Hollywood should totally snap me up.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Nobody tosses a Dwarf!

Creation Science confuses me. I mean don't get me wrong, once you get in to the high end of any science it all becomes pops and buzzes as far as I'm concerned. For example, I have absolutely no idea how gravity works. I know it's all to do with an object's mass and the force of attraction but outside of that, well, to be honest I kind of take it for granted.

But I at least understand that gravity has been proven to exist. And so I'm pretty sure that if I applied myself and had about a million years to work on it, I could make a decent stab at finding out exactly what gravity is all about. Creation Science on the other hand has defeated me before I even start.

If you're not sure what Creation Science is, basically it's used by mental patients Christians to attempt to prove that the Earth is only 10,000 years old, that God created all of known existence, and that all humans share a single ancestor called Adam who used to mosey around buck naked in a place called Eden.

Now that's not the bit that fries my brain. Because however right or wrong you may be, if you want to try and find evidence to back all that up then power to you. If it was me facing an impossible task like that, I'd probably give up and head to the kitchen to cook some sausages (Gee note: Which is probably why Tolkein never based Frodo Baggins on me. “So you're saying I have to WALK that far? To hell with that! Get me the phone book, we'll Fed-Ex the damn ring.”)

The bit that fries my brain is Creation Science's approach to Dinosaurs.

Because you would think that Dinosaurs would be the nail in the coffin of any budding Creationist trying to prove the mainstream scientific community wrong. After all gigantic reptiles that were charging around the Earth 100 million years before it was even meant to exist would kind of, well, pour water all over the whole “seven day” thing. So, one would assume anyway, your average Creation Scientist would somehow try to disprove that Dinosaurs ever existed. Big lizards you say? Yeah right. You're crazy man.

But, and you may want to be sitting down for this, Creationists freaking love Dinosaurs.

See? I told you it was confusing. As far as I can tell Creation Science has begrudgingly excepted that Pre-historic animals did in fact exist. But, and here's the mind melting part, rather than exist all those years ago and then die out, according to Creationists Pre-historic animals are in fact alive and well today, hence all those bones we keep finding. We just haven't found a living one yet.

And this is where Moore's Monster fits in.

The sea is constantly throwing up all kinds of weird stuff. From the Montauk Monster found in New York earlier on this year, to the carcass picked up by the Zuiyo Maru off the cost of New Zealand in 1977, the sea positively enjoys messing with fisherman and beach dwellers by presenting them with odd looking animals. Most of the time, these creatures are run of the mill animals such as basking sharks or medium sized whales, distorted by decomposition to make them appear other worldly.

But every once in a while, one pops up that makes even the most cynical of observers scratch their heads. One such case washed up in Santa Cruz 1925 on Moore's Beach, later renamed Natural Bridges State Beach. According to eye witness reports the creature was over 40 feet long with a 20 foot neck and a three foot tail. Most of the body was already rotting at a steady rate, but the head had been left remarkably in tact. So much so Judge W. R. Springer felt confident enough to call it “duck like”.

Immediately the carcass stirred controversy the likes of which is normally reserved for Britney Spears. The body was examined by renowned naturalist E. L. Wallace. Now bare in mind that Wallace wasn't some ham fisted “pseudo scientist”. Instead he was a well known figure in the scientific community, serving as the President of the Natural History Society of British Columbia not once, but twice. Wallace conducted a thorough study of the remains, and concluded that:

“I would call it a type of Plesiosaurus.”

But even Wallace wasn't so bullish as to claim that Nessie was swimming about freely in the oceans. Instead he theorised that the body had been preserved somehow, possibly in a glacier which had recently melted.

It didn't matter. Pretty much every biologist threw up their arms in disbelief. Soon a much more acceptable theory was put forward. It was they claimed, nothing more than the corpse of a relatively uncommon species of Beaked Whale. Nonsense replied Wallace, sighting the lack of a large backbone and short length of the beasts tail as counter arguments.

But the “respected” theory caught on. And now Moore's Beach Monster is pretty much viewed as one of those cases of mistaken identity. That is unless you happen to be a Creationist. Then it takes on a whole new dimension.

You see, the thing with Creation Science and Pre-Historic animals is that the word “pre-historic” causes a problem. So if it can be proved that animals like the Plesiosaur are larking about in the sea as we speak then the whole question of the Earth's time line gets thrown in to question.

And so a war rages on between two separate camps. Those who believe that a ravaged Beaked Whale washed up on Moore's Beach versus those who believe it was, you know, something else. And amazingly both arguments are rather convincing.

Part of the problem with analysis of things like this however is that more often than not the analyst themselves will only look at the evidence that agrees with their point of view and ignore the rest. I've seen discussions about whether the animal had teeth, whether it had a long or short neck, whether it had legs or flippers go on and on until my eye balls have cried out for sanctuary. And, invariably, at the end of said discussions both parties claim victory.

So in an effort to make myself a little clearer in regards to all of this, I sent an email with this picture:





To my good friend Rob Haines. Rob's the closest thing I know to a real scientist. A bona fide qualified Marine Biologist, Rob went corporate as soon as he graduated and now by day conducts cancer research for multinational pharmaceutical companies. By night he spends his time making video game themed web comics with his beautiful American girlfriend while enjoying his unspoilt view of the sea from his window (Gee note: In short, he's the kind of guy you would instantly hate if he wasn't so damn nice). During his academic career Rob specialised in Cetaceans. Or whales, dolphins and porpoises to you and I. His opinion?

Rob Haines, a man who has swam with dolphins, drifted alongside whales, and swapped dirty jokes with porpoises (Gee note: And the husband said “I was talking to the duck!”), couldn't confidently name it, despite pouring over the photograph for hours. His conclusion was “My immediate opinion when I saw the photos was that of a dolphin's head. Straight up.” before explaining that along with the “neck” and the overall length of the animal he wouldn't be entirely satisfied definitively identifying it as, well, anything.

And so that's the opinion I'm going for. I don't know what the hell washed up on Moore's Beach. But I will be willing to bet money that it's wasn't a Plesiosaur. I'd also bet money it wasn't a beaked whale either. Instead I'd rather just marvel at the photographs and wait until someone comes up with an objective theory.

As long as they're not a Creation Scientist. Otherwise my head might explode.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

You think this "A" on my forehead stands for France?

David Icke must be a blast to have as a dinner guest.

Now let's clear something up. Your government lies to you. Always has. Always will. Your government is always going to tell you that they are trying to help out poor people more while instead making tax breaks easier for the super rich. They'll tell you that they believe in child healthcare, while allowing television stations to sell advertising space to fast food joints at peak times. They'll tell you they believe in affordable housing while tearing down flats to build penthouses. It's the way of the world.

What governments tend not to do however is cause the mass genocide of their own electorate. Probably because, and I'm no political expert, but I'm guessing that such an act would cause opinion polls to take a sharp downturn.

But having said all that, we recently observed the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American soil. And, as is always the case this time of year, the crackpots come out of the wood work to tell us all about inconsistencies in the police reports or the technical impossibility of a building falling down or whatever, trying to desperately prove that it was all the government's doing and the current administration is evil in its purest form.

And this is why David Icke would be a must have for a social gathering.

For those of you who are hearing the name David Icke for the first time strap yourselves in for the story of the life time. It begins as, most good things do, in a muddy field. Young David was a keen amateur sportsman, and during a soccer game for his school team he was spotted by a sports scout in his native Leicester and signed to a professional contract for Coventry City. David started out promisingly and it looked to all and sundry that he would have a long and impressive career. Six months later however his dreams came to an abrupt end, a case of severe arthritis putting an end to any chance David had of becoming a sporting legend.

So Davy was looking for a new job and found one at a local newspaper. With his sports background, camera friendly face, and natural eloquence, he soon carved a niche as a sports journalist for a local TV station. The BBC, always on the look out for talent, snapped up the young, pleasant looking Icke and positioned him as one of their main correspondents for sports broadcasts. Success after success followed as David became a known name in British households. David even joined the Green Party and became their official spokesperson. When you thought of Icke, you thought of respectability.

And then 1989 happened.

For some unfathomable reason 1989 rolled around and David had an urge to head to Peru. Now to most people Peru would be an interesting country to visit but not exactly a top holiday destination. But David decided he simply had to be there, so much so he hopped on to the next plane and flew to South America, where he spent his time driving around in a Land Rover for a couple of weeks. On one of these drives he heard a “mound of earth” calling to him, and of course when a pile of mud and grass starts beckoning to you there's only one course of action. David inevitably ran like hell pulled over and ascended said mound. And before you could say “mental breakdown” David was seeing visions and hearing voices telling him that he was meant for a higher purpose.

One year later Icke, in an attempt to quantify what happened in Peru, decided to seek the audience of a medium. And so he met with the one and only Betty Shine, who told him he had been chosen and that he was destined to heal the earth (Gee note: True story: a medium once told me I was going to have a son with a Nordic name. Now while I would love to call a child of mine Thor, I do realise naming him after a Pagan Thunder God would cause the poor kid to get to holy heck beaten out of him at school. Also it would mean I would have to find someone willing to have children with me. Having not received any replies from the various letters I sent to Jennifer Love Hewitt requesting help in this task I can only conclude that mediums talk rubbish.)

Immediately after this David started to wear all turquoise shell suits and proclaim himself the “Son of the Godhead”. In a shocking turn of events the Green party, upon hearing of this new fascinating aspect of David's personality, banned him from speaking on their behalf ever again while the BBC quietly removed him from their television schedule. Had it ended there then in six months time David would have probably found himself on a street corner, carrying a sign with the words “The end is nigh” emblazoned across it.

But fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, it didn't end there. Instead David decided to write a book on his experiences. In an effort to promote it he appeared on the hugely popular television chat show Wogan. It was there that David revealed publicly that he believed he was the second coming and that the earth was on the brink of destruction. If he expected the audience to agree with him he was sadly mistaken. Instead howls of laughter met almost every word he spoke, and the next day the paper's headlines all told of what a loony he had become.

David disappeared from public view, unable to walk down the street without Joe Public mocking him. In his solitude he realised that, erm, he probably wasn't the Son of God after all. Instead he turned his attention to trying to work out what was going on in the world around him. And in doing so came up with the granddaddy of all conspiracy theories. Since then Icke has been touring the world, holding talks, and writing books all based around said theory. So successful has he become in this regard that one event drew 1000 people in Vancouver, Canada.

So I hear you ask, what's this theory then? Well, without going in to too many specifics, it's basically the New World Order theory with some New Age bells and whistles. For those of you who think of the New World Order and see Hulk Hogan wearing a feather boa then, while I salute you, you may be surprised to find out that there's an apparently altogether much more sinister New World Order (Gee note: More sinister that Hulk Hogan and his Trapjaw daughter? Wow that must really be something.).

The New World Order is, according to the theory anyway, a secret world government that quietly manipulates the world for it's own end. Consisting of an elite group of bankers, royalty, and corporate heads, the N.W.O. is responsible for almost every single disaster and atrocity the world has ever seen. The IRA? Check. The Kennedy Assassination? Check. The Oklahoma bombing? Check. 9/11? You bet your buns. The holocaust?

Yep, that too.

The problem with the N.W.O. theory is that it's insanely anti Semitic. Almost every single player named in the theory is Jewish. It's even a favourite of those sensible chaps at the KKK and Combat 18. So, if David Icke is using this as the basis of his own hypothesis, does that make him a racist?

Well not quite, no. For a start the N.W.O are never mentioned. Instead he refers to the secret world power as The Illuminati. And the major players in his theory aren't Jewish people. They're actually not even people.

They are in fact 9 foot tall reptilian extra terrestrials that hail from the constellation Draco.

No really, Icke proposes that the world is being secretly controlled by a bunch of over grown iguanas. Didn't see that one coming did you? Oh and they can shape shift. Meaning they could be anybody.(Gee note: You know that work colleague you've been eyeing up for the past couple of months? How well do you really know them? I'm just saying, be careful, they could be a sexy great big lizard fish for all you know.)

Icke lists the British royal family, the Rothschilds, Hilary Clinton and of course George. W. Bush as being members of The Illuminati. Apparently these foul beasts are keeping the world in fear and it's people repressed for, er, well to be honest he doesn't know the reason why they do it. Does a power hungry lizard really need a reason to do anything though? I mean the whole scenario is so crazy that any attempt to rationalize it would simply cheapen things in my book.

And so David travels around the world, preaching this to all who will hear. And with a story like that who wouldn't want to listen? Yes, of course it's all nonsense. And yes Icke is crazier than a bag full of gerbils on nitrous oxide. But you have to admit Icke's entire story, from his fall from grace to his resurrection as a lunatic with a voice is fascinating.

And maybe because of that, in some very small way, David and the Son of God aren't that different after all.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Life is a state of mind.

It seems fitting that as we here at “I Saw Elvis” wrap up our little “Mothman-a-thon” another, much grander event is about to start. That's right guys, in five days time the Mothman Festival 2008 kicks off in Point Pleasant for the seventh consecutive year. And best of all, it's still free to get in. The Mothman festival is really the place to go for all things Mothman related, whether it be talks with witnesses, tours, discussion groups or, erm, power lifting competitions (Gee note: No really, they have a power lifting competition at the Mothman festival. How crazy is that? It would be like going to a Bigfoot convention only to end up watching ducks operate heavy machinery.).

So as a finale to our Mothman coverage I've put together a little companion for the Festival. Brace yourselves folks, it's......

THE “I SAW ELVIS” SURVIVAL GUIDE TO THE MOTHMAN FESTIVAL.


During the course of the two day event you'll see many wonderful things my children. Sights your eyes may not believe. Like, for example, the amazing Turtleman. Now if you've never heard of the Turtleman allow me to explain. He isn't, disappointingly, a half-man half-turtle freak of nature. He is instead a toothless resident of Kentucky named Ernie Brown whose sole pleasure in life appears to be diving head first in to ponds full of snapping turtles, and then annoying the snot out of said turtles by grabbing them by the tail and flinging them on to dry land. Now the fact that these turtles are renowned for biting off fingers, toes, and every so often human genitalia, and that Ernie is stupid, crazy, brave enough to handle these things with his bare hands is certainly impressive. But, I hear you ask, does it make an entertaining show? Well allow me to answer that question with a question. What exactly was the consumption of alcohol invented for if not for this?

Also present at the festivities will be Miss Mothman 2008. Crowned 48 hours before the festival starts, Miss Mothman will be the winner of a beauty pageant whose duties will include attending various activities throughout the two days (Gee note: By the way, if your thinking of entering the pageant but are unsure of what you should do for the “talent” section, my advice would be to go the Stan Lee route and get bitten by a radioactive animal. That way, providing you don't die of radiation poisoning of course, you'll have some woovy berserk powers with which to wipe the floor with those other schmucks). You won't want to pass up the chance to meet this lovely young lady, whoever she may be.

Pop quiz hot shots, what's the one thing to make any event seem grand and fabulous? A ticker tape parade? Dancing bears? A lunar eclipse?

Wrong losers. The correct answer is KAREOKE. And The Mothman Festival 2008 will have it by the bucket load. For three hours a day none the less. Imagine it, people dressed in a dyed black bed sheet, wearing red goggles, singing “I believe I can fly” at the top of their lungs. Magic is not the word.

Speaking of which the traditional Mothman costume competition will be in full swing at 4pm on the Saturday. If that doesn't float your boat then four hours later the TNT Hayride kicks in to gear promising to be either eerie or full of music and fun depending on which part of the website you read (Gee note: Maybe it could be both? Like a Zombie playing show tunes on a banjo).

Now as daft as all this sounds it's exactly what I was looking for when I started all this. Because The Mothman used to genuinely scare me as a kid. I used to be terrified of the idea of a big winged monster, a creature with evil intentions. And to see a town like Point Pleasant, a town that was gripped in fear only 40 years ago by that very thing, go all daffy and silly and celebrate it's strange and wonderful history is..... well..... it's adorable. And it's made me smile. So now when that crazy moth comes calling at my window, banging its body against the glass, I won't be thinking of weird beasts and demonic fiends. No siree.

I'll be thinking of Miss Mothman 2008.

Here endeth Mothman-a-thon. We'll see you all again next year.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Kanye destroyed my camera.

This is going to be a really quick update as I've got a wedding to go to and no time to buy a suit, have a shave, pretend to be a fighter pilot when talking to people I don't know.

So, um, Mothman photos. Yeah, there actually aren't any from Point Pleasant. Despite a year, a year mind you, of Mothman gadding about town. Was film in short supply in West Virginia in the 60's? Was there a drought of camera's? (Gee Note: "Ah yes my son. The great Kodak famine of '66. Tough times. Tough Times.")

Never fear though faithful reader. Thanks to the internet here's what Mothman could have looked like but probably didn't.

If Mothman was an extreeeeeeme sports nut.




If Mothman was made of metal and stationary.





If Mothman was in the greatest comic book ever written




If Mothman was an idiot in a cheap costume waving his arms about a bit that was then photoshopped on to a bridge.




And finally..... I don't know what the hell this is but it came up under a Google image search for "Mothman".





Why do I get the feeling that the last picture is going to be the most popular one?

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

How do you come up with a theory as to what exactly happened that year in Point Pleasant? Well if the Internet is anything to go by you simply go to the random “Crazy Theory” generator, you spin the wheel, and you take your chance. It's the way I came up with my theory for Mothman. Mothman is a.... Mechanical..... Deity.

Well, it could happen I guess.

See that's the problem. Without any physical evidence what so ever we're stuck with witness testimony from back in the day. Which is kind of fraught with peril seeing as it's been proven, almost as far back as 1932, that eye witnesses can be exceedingly unreliable (Gee note: Back in 1932 a bunch of legal know it alls got together in London and invited members of the public to join them in an experiment. The good folks that signed up were then treated to a spectacle of, er, watching paint dry. Quite literally. Three weeks later they were contacted and asked what colour the paint was. Of those that responded, only roughly 40% gave the correct answer.)

So really anyone can make a half decent stab at a Mothman theory if they work hard enough. Trust me in researching this (Gee note: I say “research”, I mean drinking a glass of wine and typing “Mothman” in to a search engine in between looking up funny pictures of cats in bomber jackets) I've read everything from “it's obviously just a misidentified lesser spotted sponge weasel” to “it's obviously Satan in corporeal form”.

With that in mind, I've tried to narrow down the field and go for my top three Mothman theories. So strike up the band, and put the dog to bed, because we here at "I saw Elvis" are having ourselves a countdown. Here we go pop pickers.

Number 3 (up 2 places)

The amazingly crazy Native American theory.

Chief Cornstalk was a chief of the Shawnee tribe. That's not important. He was killed by colonists in a mistaken bid for revenge for the death of an American soldier. That's not really important either. What's important, apparently, is what happens to the old boy's bones.

Initially they were buried at Fort Randolph. Then they were discovered in 1840 and, for reasons that were probably sound as a pound at the time, were moved to Mason County Courthouse. When the Courthouse was torn down in 1954 Cornstalk's remains were moved to..... wait for it.... Point Pleasant.

So could Mothman simply be the narked off spirit of a fairly well respected Native Ameican?

Well not really. Two obvious questions remain. Number one, why would an angry Native American wait until the third move of his remains before kicking off? And even then why wait twelve years? (Gee note: Ooo, if them white folk don't change thier ways soon I'm going to flap all over them.)

Secondly, if you're going to get revenge against someone, shouldn't it be against the people who were actually responsible for your demise? I'm just saying, scaring the hell out of the people in Point Pleasant just seems kind of, well, petty.

Number 2 (down 1 place)

The not so amazingly crazy Sand Crane theory.

A Sand Crane is a big old bird. That's basically the selling point of this theory. It's a big bird with a big wing span that may or may not have been in the area at the time of The Mothman sightings. It can grow to six feet tall according to Wikipedia and has a vibrant red grouping of feathers around it's eyes.

Which all sounds very convincing. Except, and brace yourself for this, but Wikipedia is slightly out. Cranes don't really grow to six feet in height. In fact, if you find one over four feet tall you've found a freak. It's wing span is admittedly a good six feet in length. But then a Tundra Swan has a six foot wingspan and, having lived by Swans all my life, a six foot wingspan is about as threatening as a drunken cocker spaniel. Because just like a drunken cocker spaniel, it sounds scary but turns out to be rather pathetic when you finally see it.

All that being said, if Mothman is a “real” animal this is the one to plump for if only for the eyes. The red feathers around the eyes of a Crane are quite striking. And could be, if seen in the right light and if one had drunk enough tequila, viewed as glowing spheres.

Number 1 (New Entry)

Mechanical Deity

Screw it, why not?

Because none of the theories I've come across add up. And that's part of the essence, the beauty if you will, of the entire Mothman incident. No matter how many times you play it through in your head there's not one single thing about what happened that year in Point Pleasant that can be rationalised.

And, to be honest with you, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Last night, Darth Vader came down from planet Vulcan and told me that if I didn't take Lorraine out then he'd melt my brain.

OK so imagine for a moment that Christopher Lloyd knocks on your door one night wearing an all in one reactor suit, his hair wild and white, while a smoking hot car cools in the background. And, because Christopher Lloyd is the greatest man to have ever lived, he gives you the opportunity to visit any time or place in history.

Where would you go? Maybe 27th Century Egypt to watch the first of the great pyramids built before your very own eyes? Or maybe Dallas, Texas, November 22 1963, to see what was really on the grassy knoll (Gee note: I mean outside of grass obviously). Or maybe go back and visit some wonderful moment of your own past? Your first kiss, or your child's first smile?

Me? I'd definitely hit the 60's. And definitely America. But not Dallas, Texas. Not Woodstock, New York in August 1969. Not even Kennedy Space Centre, July 16th 1969. Instead I'd head to West Virginia. Point Pleasant, on the night of November 15th 1966 to be exact. And head straight to West Virginia Ordnance Works and find the old abandoned TNT Factory.

And I'd also make sure to take a crowbar with me.

Because that very night something was lurking in the shadows outside that old factory. Something taller than an average man, powerfully built, with a set of vibrant blood red eyes and a pair of massive wings folded behind it's back.

Well that's according to David and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette. The two married couples were in a car, driving past the Ordnance works when they pulled over to investigate two red lights. It was then that they realised that those aren't pillows weren't exactly lights. Before you can say “we're going to need a bigger boat” they all scrambled back to the car, hit the peddle to the floor, and tore down Route 62 at 100 miles per hour where said beasty chased them for some time before soaring away in to the night sky.

Now by all accounts the Scarberry's and Mallette's weren't super crazy people. In fact so freaked out were they by the entire event that they, like any good citizens would, headed straight to Mason County courthouse to report what they saw. Deputy Millard Halstead is on record as saying "I've known these kids all their lives. They'd never been in any trouble and they were really scared that night. I took them seriously.". So the very next night a posse was rounded up to search the area for a “giant bird man”.

Now bare in mind this was 1966. The Beatles had annoyed the world when John Lennon claimed they were more popular than Jesus. The Vietnam war raged on, and by the end of the year peace negotiations had started in the Philippines as America desperately and unsuccessfully tried to save face. That Christmas Boris Karloff narrated The Grinch That Stole Christmas on American television for the first time. And The Beatles redeemed themselves later in the year by releasing Revolver, wildly acclaimed as their best album.

My point is it was 1966. Elder folk complained about what the kids were listening to, and how society had been slowly falling apart ever since Elvis had shaken his hips on the Ed Sullivan show ten years previously. The younger generation had mop top haircuts, rode around on Vesta's, and smoked a lot of pot. The people in the middle did what the middle generation always do, tried to make a living for them and theirs as best as possible.

It wasn't however 1666. Mob's didn't round up every Friday armed with torches and pitchforks to hunt for witches and vampires (Gee note: Although it would be amazing if they did. “Hey Jim, how's the stock market?” “OK I guess Bob, the yen was down again.” “Damn, that's a shame. Say is that a new pitchfork?” “Yeah Margaret got it for me as a birthday gift. The Witchhunter 3000.” “Woah that's a nice piece of kit.”).

So it must have been a pretty damn good story if a posse got together to hunt for something that sounds so, well, unbelievable.

Sightings continued at an alarming rate throughout the next year. Reports of the monster's behaviour differed. Sometimes it walked on two legs. Sometimes it flew. Sometimes it howled. Sometimes it moved with silence. But one thing always remained the same. The glowing red eyes.

And then the sightings effectively stopped. Sure once in a while a local weirdo would pop out of the woodwork to claim that the Mothman had broken their windscreen or something. But Mothman mania lasted one year and then came to an abrupt halt. Because on December 15th 1967 the Silver Bridge over Ohio River that connected Point Pleasant and Gallipolis, Ohio collapsed without warning, killing 46 people. And in the aftermath Mothman was, by and large, never seen again.

So is it that the Mothman story simply captured the people of West Virginia's imagination until a terrible disaster brought their collective conciousness back to reality? Or is it all, in some massively complicated way, connected?

There is no hard evidence that Mothman is real. No physical evidence. No clear photographs. No videos. But for an entire year Point Pleasant lived in fear of something they couldn't quite quantify until one day a truly horrendous thing happened. And then the thing they feared simply went away. For me that's almost enough to make me believe.

Almost.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Actually both "The Untouchables" and "Tin Cup" were fine films.

You know, I don't scare all that easily. I think over the years I've been desensitized by too many reports of monsters living in dark jungles, aliens abducting farmyard animals, and of course otters, seals, Scottish Plesiosaurs frightening the bejesus out of local fishermen. In fact the last time I remember being genuinely terrified was when I found out that Kevin Costner was still making movies. I swear I've sat through autopsies that were more entertaining than 3000 miles to Graceland. That was until last night. When, for the first time in a long time, something genuinely freaked me out.

It was a moth.

Yep. A moth. A regular clothes eating, flame loving, hit it with a newspaper and it turns in to this weird dust like substance, moth. Not even a big one either. If I was to hazard a guess I reckon it was probably about an inch to an inch and a half in length. Now before you start crowing to yourself about how ludicrous it is that a grown man with his own facial hair should get frightened by an insect smaller than Jiminy Cricket allow me to set the scene.

I was in my kitchen at about half one in the morning, fixing my last glass of wine for the night while debating the need for another big sandwich (Gee Note: I say “debating the need for”, a more accurate description would be “planning”). Anyway I heard a light “thump” against window and looked up to see a moth desperately trying to do a Silver Surfer style melt through the glass. In an effort, one can only presume, to do what makes all moth's giddy with joy and fly around a light bulb for a bit. And it disturbed me. Not because of the manic scrambling of it's feet against the glass, or because it's head was bouncing off the window at regular intervals, but because of it's eyes. It's eyes were glowing red.

Just like the Mothman.

And the Mothman always scared the hell out of me when I was a kid.

You see when I started my obsession with all things odd, I was too innocent to be afraid of anything. I was convinced that Bigfoot and Yeti were just cuddly bears, that Nessie was an overgrown water horse, and that even the Indian Monkey Man was just a precocious little scamp.

But the Mothman was different. The idea of a seven foot creature with huge wings, no head, glowing red eyes, and the ability to both hang on to the side of an iron bridge and travel at 100 miles per hour? Yeah that kept me awake for a couple of evenings let me tell you.

And so I've decided to start a little mini project. For the next couple of days we at “I saw Elvis” are going to have a little Mothman-a-thon. History, theories, pictures, made up drinking games, the works.

You see, you always fear what you don't understand. My hope is that by shedding light on some of the mystery surrounding this phenomenon that I might be able to convince my inner child that there's nothing to be worried about after all.

Now if only I could say the same about Kevin Costner.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Did IQ's just drop sharply while I was away?

You have to admit that Stan Romanek is an interesting guy.

Now I'm not a big fan of the whole alien thing. That's not to mean I don't think there's life on other planets. The universe is so large and complex that simple statistics suggest that of the billions upon billions upon billions of planets out there the chances are that one or more would be conducive to life.

So I think we can safely say that life on other planets is a probability. But I just don't think an alien visitation to earth by the “greys” is likely. For a start, outside of the impossible distances any being would have to travel, I'm inclined to think that aliens are more likely to look like something that H. R. Giger would design and less like something that Steven Spielberg would. Evolution is all about life forms adapting to their environment to survive and thrive. So unless there's a planet exactly like the Earth out there and the next stage of human evolution is for us to disrobe and grow beer bellies and bulbous foreheads then the chances of aliens being little grey people with big eyes is seriously remote. The chances of them being big phallic shaped things full of teeth that bleed acid and enjoy impregnating John Hurt I would put at fair to middling.

But with all that being said Stan Romanek is an interesting guy.

If you're reading this and wondering who the heck Stan Romanek is, he's either a lunatic or the unluckiest guy on the planet. Basically Stanley's gained notoriety over the past year after holding a press conference in his native Denver in which he allegedly presented a video showing an alien “peeping tom”. Larry King picked up the story and before you could say “it's a puppet isn't it?” Stan was on almost every syndicated news channel in America telling the world about his experiences.

Now if it was just a random alien trying to catch a look at Stan's wife in her birthday suit then maybe he would have marked it down to experience and moved on. But the problem is Stan and aliens have history. According to Stan's official website he's been stalked by UFOs, chased by flying saucers, and was even abducted once after opening the door to three “non humans” at 2am one breezy morning (Gee note: Doesn't that sound like the politest abduction ever? Ding dong. “Yes? What is it?” “I'm awfully sorry to wake you sir but, um, well this is all quite embarrassing. I'm afraid we're going to have to take you away in our spaceship to be probed. Sorry about that. We've taken the liberty of packing an overnight bag for you though. And a picnic.”).

Apparently this all started in December of 2000. And in the following 8 years Stan claims to have had over 100 unique experiences with aliens, orbs, UFOs and the like (Gee note: Is that what life is normally like for other people? I mean the number of weird things that have happened to me in the past eight years comes in at a big fat zero. In fact the most excitement I've had in that time was discovering a new form of cheese I liked back in February 2006. It's called Brie. And it's very nice.). The video itself was shot on July 17th 2003. Apparently the reason it took so long to “comes out” (Gee note: Good one Larry) was because “um well there's a lot of physical evidence that we, er, wanted to get looked at by real scientists.”.

Dude. C'mon now. Video analysts sit in front of computer screens all day long shuffling back and forth between single frames, crunching their eyelids together to spot the tinniest inconsistencies. It's a profession that positively attracts geeks. Give anybody the option of watching a film featuring a perverted extra terrestrial and they'd likely agree to it. Offer it to a video analyst and they'd likely snatch your hand off.

Ah yes the film itself. You may have noticed that I haven't really described what happens in it. That's because I haven't seen it. In fact no one outside of that press conference has. Even Larry King had to run a “reconstruction” which was so poorly labelled as one that a large portion of the people who saw the interview took it to be the real deal and started making copycat videos to prove how easily it could be faked. Instead Romanek has only released a single poorly lit still of the video.

By a complete coincidence Stan has a DVD coming out at the end of the year.

And that's the problem I have with all of this. Stan Romanek hasn't released the video to the general public, waiting instead to cash in on it with a DVD. Until then he's making what one can only assume is a healthy living speaking at various UFO conventions and with radio interviews. Now the argument is always going to be “Why shouldn't he? If he's genuinely got the goods then he should try and make some money out of it”. Which is fine, but if the Georgia “Bigfoot” incident has taught us anything it's that if someone doesn't open up their evidence to public scrutiny then it's probably because it can't stand up by it's own merits.

If Romanek has been through what he claims then he deserves our utmost respect. But the truth is his story is such a wild one that one can't be blamed for feeling slightly sceptical about it. Add in the fact that he's been through hypnotherapy, widely criticised as being responsible for creating “false memories” and it all starts to look like Stan may not be on the level.

Like I said Stan Romanek is an interesting guy. But may not, through no fault of his own, be the most reliable one.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Chupathingy. What exactly is Rick Moranis up to these days? And one third of lions, tigers and bears oh my!

You know the thing I love about summer? Well outside of the warm weather, the thwack of leather against willow, and watching the beautiful people stroll by and ignore me on the beach, summer is usually the time of year when the world's media goes monster crazy. Thank Vishnu this year was no exception. And so below we have some of my favourite stories from around the globe in the past couple of months.

First off we have this little gem from Texas. Dewitt County to be precise. Which happens, by happy coincidence, to be the county in which Cuero is located. If Cuero sounds familiar it's because about a year ago the media descended on the sleepy town en masse after a local resident claimed to have found the dead body of something that might, just might, enjoy eating goats. Maybe.

That's right folks, it's Chupacabra time again. Looking exactly like a pit bull, warthog, demon mutt from the gates of hell this little ripper was caught on camera by a police officer out on a routine drive. (Gee note: By the way, this would be one hell of an episode of COPS don't you think? “We were out on a regular patrol when Officer Smith spotted a vampire dog”. Trust me, Fox should be all over this concept. Devil hounds = ratings).

My favourite part of the news item is when the reporter references the Cuero case as being “some kind of coyote”. Wow. That's a wealth of information on offer right there. Some kind of coyote you say? Well I'm glad I watch television instead of doing actual research. Now I know everything there is to know, and in record time too. You've saved me a whole, ooooh, 30 seconds of looking stuff up. God bless you intrepid news team, your professionalism knows no bounds.

New York's not normally a place you'd associate with real monsters, despite the fact that King Kong, Zilla, and Clover have all torn up the place on the silver screen. That all changed on July 29 this year when the website “Gawker” picked up a local story from The Independent newspaper. Basically the story goes that instead of being home in Sigourney Weaver's fridge shouting “Zool!” to its heart's content, a strange looking creature found its final resting place on a beach in Long Island. It lay there for a couple of hours until “someone took it away” (Gee note: It's amazing how sinister those four simple words sound isn't it? Brings up all kinds of images of men in black and unmarked vans. Much more effective at keeping the mystery surrounding the beast alive than “Fat Bob slung it in to the back of his pick up truck and took it home thinking he could make a quick buck with a 'Montauk Monster Novelty Theme Shop'.”).

So without a body to test the world, and by “world” I really mean nerds the world over, have sprung in to action trying to prove or disprove what the animal actually is. So what is it? A Turtle? A Raccoon? The Gatekeeper? I have no idea. But it looks really cool none the less.

And finally something a little closer to home. Belfast, Northern Ireland. Home of Victorian architecture, a rich history, and.... a lion??? Panic gripped the city yesterday as members of the public spotted a “large sandy coloured animal” larking about in Cavehill Park. So alarming were the reports that the local police force felt the need to fire up a helicopter and frantically search the area.

Turns out it was a large dog.

A very large dog by the sounds of it.

Now before you start to scoff at the silliness of the Irish, I'd just like to bring something to your esteemed attention. When I was six years old much hilarity was had on a family trip where I spotted a chow dog sitting in the back of a car and exclaimed excitedly for all to hear that I'd seen a lion. The laughter of my parents and siblings has haunted me for years. And I swore then that one day I would prove that it's an easy mistake to make. Well that day is today.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury I give you Exhibit A:



and Exhibit B:





I rest my case.