Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Don't tell me what I can't do.

I've become ridiculously hooked on “Lost”. As far as I'm concerned it has everything I look for in a television show. Guns, monsters, stuff that blatantly doesn't make sense, good actors who look witheringly off in to the distance every so often, a bonkers French woman who for some unknown reason has a Yugoslavian accent, it's just fantastic in each and every way. Sadly, after a playground spat between two of Britain's rival cable companies, I ended up missing the entirety of the 4th season as I simply couldn't recieve the channel it was broadcast on. But thanks to the magic of DVD I am currently catching up as best I can and enjoying every second of it.

One of the things I especially love about Lost is that every episode starts with a 20 second montage of scenes from previous episodes proceeded by a voice over stating “Previously on Lost”. And the reason I love that is because it's one of the things that make television a truly unique art form. You really wouldn't be able to get away with it in any other medium. For example, could you honestly see yourself buying a ticket for Return of the Jedi, settling down in your cinema seat, hearing the trumpets of 20th Century Fox before Mark Hamill's voice pops up with:

“Previously on Star Wars.”

“Luke, I am your Father.”


I don't know, it wouldn't really work would it?

Sad thing is though, for this post I could really do with a “Previously on I Saw Elvis In The Woods”. Because, much like the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815 are still stuck on an Island, we're still stuck on the subject of Werewolves. Partly because they're damned interesting, and partly because I ended up doing so much research for the last post and used, er, none of it. Problem is, if I had a “Previously on...” then I wouldn't have to bother with an introduction and skip straight to the bits worth talking about. Now however I have to think of way to introduce the subject all over again.

Ah hell with it.

Previously on I Saw Elvis In The Woods, we talked about my receding hair line and a big animal that terrorised Southern-Central France that may or not have been a Werewolf.

So, moving on.

The thing about the Beast of Gevaudan is that it wasn't alone in terms of European “Big Bad Wolf” encounters in the middle ages. The province of Périgord was accosted by a pack of ravenous wolves in February 1766. The city of Sarlat itself had only just recovered from a lone wolf that had injured 17 people in June the very same year before The Beast of Gevaudan came calling. Even Paris had trouble with wolves in the winter of 1450 when a hungry pack breached the city walls, killing approximately 40 people before an angry mob stoned the poor canines to death.

But if you're looking for the possible existence of a Werewolf then nothing can hold a candle the story of Peter Stubbe, aka Peter Stumpp.

Stubbe was born in the village of Epprath near the town of Bedburg, Cologne, Germany. The exact date of his birth is unknown, the records probably destroyed during one of the many wars that swept through Germany over the following centuries. What we do know is that by 1580 Stubbe was a widower, a father of two, a wealthy land owner and farmer, and an influential part of the rural community. It was around this time that Stubbe started a relationship with a distant relative called Katharina Trump.

Then, on the eve of Halloween, 1589 Peter Stubbe was executed.

There's only one source that divulges the details of this event. A German pamphlet entitled “A True Discourse. Declaring the Damnable Life and Death of One Stubbe Peeter, a Most Wicked Sorcerer.” (Gee Note: And who wouldn't want to read that? It's amazing that more books don't take that approach. For example, “Tuesday with Morrie” would probably sell a bucket load more if it was called “Tuesday with Morrie.... and a vicious Warlock.”). There are only two known copies of this in existence, both English language translations of the original German version. The text reads like this.

Those whome the Lord dooth leaue to followe the Imagination of their own hartes, dispising his proffered grace, in the end through the hardnes of hart and contempt of his fatherly mercy, they enter the right path to perdicion and destruction of body and soule for euer.

Translation : Look guys, God's a pretty laid back dude. Just don't get on his bad side OK? Just saying, the cat's got a pretty mean temper ya dig?

Anyway according to the pamphlet Stubbe confessed to murder of 16 people, of which included two pregnant women and his own son. He would often eat the body parts of his victims and even in some cases, as apparently happened with his son, devoured their brains. His motive however wasn't some repressed sexual desire, or the insatiable lust for power.

Nay good people, according to the confession Stubbe made while he was on a torture rack, the real culprit was the Devil. Stubbe claimed that he had dabbled in black magic at a formative age, and at some point had raised the Dark Lord from the depths of Hell. The Devil, like any good house guest brought with him some gifts, a succubus that Stubbe had intercourse with, and a belt (Gee Note: “Oh really, you shouldn't have. A bottle of wine would've been fine).

Now you would think that out of the two, the most interesting of these two presents would be the succubus (Gee Note: I'd also like to point out that at no point have I had a guest around my house who's brought with them something I could have sex with. Am I, in fact, just inviting the wrong people around for elevenses?). But you'd be wrong. Because the belt wasn't any old belt. Oh hell no, this was a magic belt. One that when worn would turn you in to a ferocious, slavering, animal. One that, when worn by the illustrious Mr. Stubbe, turned him in to a ravenous......


Nah, not really. The Devil's Magic Girdle (Gee Note: That would be one heck of a band name. Ladies and gentlemen please welcome on stage The Devil's Magic Girdle. Seriously the tickets would sell themselves) turned Peter from a mild mannered farmer in to a ravenous wolf.

Now bare in mind that, as previously mentioned, Stubbe confessed to this while on a torture rack. And if I'm honest, if every joint in my body was being slowly wrenched out of their sockets simultaneously, then I'd probably swear on the bones of Zombie Jesus that the comic book character Magneto was entirely based on me and my strange yet alluring powers over metal if you told me to. But apparently this was proof enough of his guilt to his accusers who, also believing he had been involved in an incestuous relationship with his own daughter Sybil, executed Stubbe by bludgeoning him to death on a breaking wheel. His head was then severed from his body and, as a warning to others, it was placed on top of a pole along with the carcass of a wolf (Gee Note: “Ok so you're saying that if the Devil calls, I should get someone to tell him I'm out pitchfork shopping or something right? Yeah, I think I've got it).

Now, what makes this all the more interesting is that Stubbe was a Protestant. Which even until very recently would have got you in to trouble in certain parts of Britain, let alone 16th century Germany. Especially considering that during the time of the crimes, an internal war between Catholics and Protestants had raged in the province of Cologne. At the time of the trial, the Catholics had recently grasped power in the region. And due to the lack of evidence outside of said pamphlet and the fact that both Sybil Stubbe and Katharina Trump were executed along side Peter Stubbe for, er, no real apparent reason that I can see, this trial takes on a whole new meaning. Could it be that the new Catholic regime, attempting to stamp authority on the Protestant population much in the same way the Protestant regime had done years earlier, used the influential Peter Stubbe as an example of where the Protestant faith can lead to?

The fact that there were high ranking members of the local aristocracy in attendance despite this being, bizarrely enough, a fairly run of the mill trial for the time certainly doesn't help dispel that notion. And even though Stubbe stuck valiantly to the Werewolf version of events, and despite what must have been excruciating pain, the trial judges took an unprecidented step and proclaimed that Stubbe had been suffering from a mental illness. Now an extremely cynical person may suggest that the reason for this was to make sure no one was in doubt as to who to blame for these atrocities. This wasn't the work of the Devil good people. It was the work of the protestant Peter Stubbe.

So there we have it. Either Stubbe genuinely went to his grave thinking he was a Werewolf, or he was an innocent victim of a Catholic conspiracy.

And trust me, if there was a television programme with a plot line like that on the air, I'd tune in every week.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Mani doesn't use firearms.

Whisper it quietly, but I think my hair line is receding.

I know, I know. Time makes fools of us all. I thought that I'd be able to avoid the dreaded “solar panel” however. My hair has always been long and strong, kind of like Bungle from Rainbow. Sadly after a Saturday night spent checking my forehead in the mirror, I'm resigned to the fact that I'm now in the market for a new hat.

There are unfortunately only two known cures for baldness. And there's a problem with both of them. One of these is called Demoxinil, a chemical compound that when applied correctly can lead to a dramatic re-growth of hair on one's head. The problem is that, as far as I know, this compound is solely available in the cartoon world of The Simpsons.

The other cure is even less appealing. That is getting bitten by a Werewolf.

Now this latter option is problematic for any number of reasons. For a start you'd have to get bitten by a Werewolf, which I'm pretty sure is not as easy as all that. Firstly would have to make sure that the animal biting you is actually a Werewolf, as opposed to just a really big regular wolf. Now think about that for a moment because, if I'm honest, having never seen either one in the flesh before I'm not sure I could tell the difference. And the truth is, the idea of a bloody great big wolf gnawing away at one's arm is enough to put the heebie jeebies in to anybody.

Just ask the good folks of Gevaudan.

Gevaudan was one of many provinces in France to have problems with wolves from the middle ages all the way up until 1954. In fact wolf packs were responsible for a large culling of the human population in places like Benais and Vivarais, to name but two. The Beast of Gevaudan was different however. For a start it attacked as a single animal, rather than in a pack. And secondly wolves generally only attack humans if they feel threatened or if other food options are sparse. This critter however simply had a taste for human flesh.

To begin at the beginning. On the June 1st 1764 a young woman was tending to cattle near a forest when a large animal came charging from the trees and headed straight towards her. The dogs that she had been using to herd the cows quickly realised that they were overdue for their weekly cross stitch discussion group and promptly made their excuses and left. The cows on the other hand, displaying a level of cool headed thinking that James Bond would have been proud of, promptly stampeded (Gee Note: Finally the age old question of “Who is smarter: Cow or Dog?” has been answered. Congratulations to the dogs who had the sense to get the hell out of there as soon as a monster came bounding from the trees). The sight and sound of charging hooves was enough to put the beast off any ideas it had for a late afternoon snack and it headed back from whence it came.

It was 29 days later when the beast claimed it's first victim. The beast, described as large as a cow with a wolf's head and a reddish brown fur, attacked without provocation and warning, mauling a girl named Jeanne Boulet to her death.

Over the next year the attacks continued. Often times bodies were mutilated, limbs torn from their sockets, while half eaten mounds of human bones were left scattered across the countryside. The local townsfolk started to become a tad concerned and would regularly round up groups of hunters to search for the beast. These attempts were by and large fruitless until King Louis XV became involved.

Louis XV has the distinction of being one of the most unpopular Kings to ever rule France. Which is odd considering, when all's said and done, he ruled Her for a almost 59 years. He was crowned King at the tender age of, er, five (Gee Note: Think of all the things you were doing at the age of five. You know, like sticking your head in to a bowl of custard, or trundling around on that little red tractor of yours. Now imagine doing none of that, and instead being responsible for the well being of the world's second largest economy. Yeah, makes you think doesn't it?) until the time of his death at the age of 64.

And the sad thing is that, like so many rulers before and after him, his unpopularity had nothing to do with him as a leader of people. Instead an unavoidable war with Austria, a skirmish with the power hungry British, and enough extra marital affairs to make even Hugh Hefner blush were enough to turn his people sour on him. Which is a shame because unlike many of his predecessors Louis XV had a keen sense of where France's true passion lay, and under his guidance the arts flourished.

He also had a keen sense of knowing when everything was just about to go tits up. And so after hearing of a failed attack by the beast on a group of six people, Louis decided to award to bravest of the group, Jacques Portefaix, with 300 livres and an extra 300 livres to be shared amongst the rest. The King then ordered his best professional wolf hunter Jean-Charles-Marc-Antoine Vaumesle d'Enneval (Gee Note: The baptist must have loved him) and his son Jean-François to track down and exterminate the beast. They hunted the beast for several months but as the attacks continued and with no slavering wolf carcass in sight, the King lost patience and replaced the impossibly long named wolf hunter and his son with the King's personal gun bearer François Antoine.

Antoine spent the first couple of months charting the territory and interviewing locals. Word quickly spread throughout the villages that the gun bearer was too scared to head out in to the woods by himself and so wasted his time drawing maps and talking to folk. But Antoine was instead taking an amazingly methodical approach when it came to capturing the animal. Instead of, like the others before him, charging in to he forest guns blazing and bloodhounds baying, Antoine instead looked for patterns in the attacks and sightings. Effectively Antoine discovered what he believed was the beasts lair without ever stepping foot in the woods.

And so on September 21st 1765 Antoine took a few good and hardy souls with him and came back with the body of a 5'6'' long, 130 lb wolf. Pretty much everyone who saw it agreed that this was a monster of a specimen. Antoine, confident that this was the fabled beast, invited locals to inspect the carcass for themselves. Onlookers were amazed to find the body covered with scars that they themselves had inflicted in efforts to defend themselves from the Beast.

No one was in doubt that finally the Beast of Gévaudan had been defeated.

Well, that was until people starting dying again.

A full two years passed. And sadly many more deaths followed as the creature tore it's way through the province. People began to think that the Beast was unstoppable, an irresistable force that would destroy all in it's path. That was until the beast made it's way to Sarlat (Gee Note: By the way for anyone who hasn't been to Sarlat, go. Go now. If you love beautiful architecture, historical gravitas oozing from every pour, and enough street entertainment to make your head spin, Sarlat is like a gift from heaven). A local farmer and inn keeper by the name of Jean Chastel was wandering around Mont Mouchet one day, minding his own business. According to the legend Chastel just happened to be carrying around two silver bullets, fashioned from a medal representing the Virgin Mary, when the beast approached from the distance. The animal, despite having attacked everyone else on sight, stopped just long enough for Chastel to load his gun, open up a bible, say a prayer, and then shoot the beast in it's heart. It died instantly.

An unbelievable end to an unbelievable creature. When all was said and done, the Beast was responsble for at least 99 deaths over a three and a half year period.

As you can guess controversy surrounds the Beast like electrons surround a nucleus (Gee Note: A science analogy for you there. Who says “I Saw Elvis” can't be highbrow?). Many people believe that Chastel, for example, trained a wolf-dog hybrid to attack people before killing his own creation in the search for fame and fortune. Others believe that the beast was never killed in the first place, sighting discrepancies in the various descriptions of the beast and the wolves that were killed by both Chastel and Antoine. Some even believe that the Beast was a bona fide Werewolf, after a few fantastical historians claimed that villagers had reported meeting an “extremely hairy man” in the forest shortly before the beast attacked.

So, I guess with that in mind it is possible that if one was around on 18th century Southern Central France then you could have found that second cure for hair loss.

You'll forgive me though if I'd rather take my chances with Demoxinil.

Friday, 21 November 2008

I have had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it.

Right I'm either bored, being boring, or both. Because the truth is I've sat around all day and accomplished a grand total of absolutely nothing. Time to shake myself out of this rut. But the question is “what to do”? I've already finished all my unread books, made an experimental lunch consisting of bacon and apple sauce, argued with a friend, and watched three episodes of Jerry Springer. What else is there on a gloomy Friday afternoon?

Wait! I've got it. Why don't we play a game?

Here are the rules: I'll post a picture of something and you have to guess what it is. Sound good? Yeah? OK then. Here's your first picture. Your time starts now.

Awww I know, it's adorable isn't it?

OK folks, time's up. Now did anyone say albino hedgehog? Well if you did then, um, you're wrong. Not about it being a hedgehog of course. But about it's colouring. Because it's not an albino at all. Instead it's an exceedingly rare blonde hedgehog. And, unlike 99% of the women in Playboy, this hedgehog's a natural.

OK next pic.

Spooky huh? So what do we reckon? An extra terrestrial? Some kind of government experiment gone horribly wrong? Well for anyone who said it's a Guitarfish feel free to award yourself five points. The Guitarfish are a family of rays who rank alongside the Umbrella Mouth Gulper Eel and the Leafy Sea Dragon as the weirdest looking things to come out of the sea.

Last one.

Who here is thinking smoke? Maybe from a fire in those reeds? Yeah me too.

Apparently though we'd be wrong. Because this ladies and gentlemen is a picture of the legendary Lake Worth Monster. Or a Goat Man. Or Bigfoot. Or something.

Allow me to explain. It was the summer of '69 (Gee Note: That would make a great song title wouldn't it? Let's just hope nobody like, oh I don't know, Bryan Adams decides to sing it though. That would be rubbish). The birds were singing, the bees were being bastards by landing on my jam buzzing, and young couples were driving around looking for a scenic spot to park up and, well, you know. One such place would have been the lake on the edge of Fort Worth, Texas.

Meet Mr and Mrs John Reichart. They were travelling alongside Lake Worth on July 10th that year when out of nowhere a large and savage beast leapt on to the bonnet of their car before heading off in to the surrounding foliage. This was no Deer, or Baboon even (Gee Note: Do they have baboon's in Texas? I mean I'm naturally inclined to believe that they don't, but I'm too lazy to check for sure. And, if I'm honest, the mental image of a Rhesus Monkey wearing a Stetson and drinking bourbon has amused me greatly. Monkeys are funny). Nay good reader, this was a giant, white furred, half man half goat. Oh, and if that wasn't enough, it was scaly. Like a fish.

Now as far as cryptids go that's pretty much as strange a description as you're likely to hear. I mean creatures like Nessie can at least be rationalised as being, as unbelievable as they might be, biologically sound. But fur like a polar bear? A face of a goat and the scales of a fish? The only way that the Lake Worth Monster could be crazier was if it was wearing a Groucho Marx mask as well.

But here's where the story gets stranger. The next morning the Fort Worth Star Telegram ran a story on the Reichart's close encounter. That evening a chap named Jack Harris was driving past the lake when the creature crossed the road in front of him. He saw it run up a hill where a group of around thirty other people, having been inspired by that morning's paper, joined him in observing this incredible oddity. That was until the Fish-Goat-Man (Gee Note: Worst. Super Hero. Ever. Special powers include an inability to survive on land and taking a bite out anything that doesn't move for three seconds) got a wee bit miffed at all the attention and threw a tire at the group, causing them to flee for their cars. Obviously monsters are a bit like Kanye West when it comes to their privacy.

Sightings continued throughout 1969. Although often times it appears that every little thing was attributed to the monster. For example a group of young men claimed that the beast jumped on to their car and hung on until it crashed in to a tree (Gee Note: "No sir *hic*. We 'aint been drinking. We been *hic* attacked by that great big monkey fish").

The last sighting of that year was on November 7th by Charles Buchanan. Buchanan was tucked up in his sleeping bag in the back of his pick up truck when the creature attacked him. Charlie threw a bag of chicken at the beast, which greedily grabbed it and took off towards the lake. (Gee Note: By the way I'd just like to point out. Pickup truck. Bag of chicken. Buchanan must have been a massive hit with the ladies).

At some point during that time period Allen Plaster took the above photo of what appears to be a white, um, something. And that's part of the problem with Lake Worth's little mystery. Despite it being one of the few sightings of strange creatures to be witnessed by multiple people at the same time, people who were by and large looking for the creature, the only picture we have is a unidentifiable blob. I mean people take photos and videos of the most ridiculously boring things like their children's first ice cream or a pet dog wearing a hat. Are we to seriously believe that out of numerous sightings with multiple people who were specifically there to see the creature, we'd only get one picture? Somehow I doubt it.

It should be worth noting that Plaster himself believes that the photo is nothing more than a prankster in a suit. And sadly with a lack of solid evidence to counter balance that argument it's difficult not to agree with him. Because despite it being analysed time and time again, we still don't know what exactly is in that photo.

And so therefore, with a sneaking suspicion that the monster of Lake Worth might not be on the level, there's no other choice than to call an end to this particular game. Game over, man.

Game over.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

See, there were these two guys in a lunatic asylam.

Exciting news kids. With a concept that was blatantly not stolen from Moonlight Investigations, tomorrow night “I Saw Elvis” records it's very first podcast. If all goes to plan then by the end of the week it should be available to download right here. Please folks, do try and contain yourselves until then.

Speaking of stealing stuff, for those of you who don't keep up with the excellent Naveed's Realm (Gee Note: And there really is no excuse if you don't. No really, I've been reliably informed that only fascists and weirdo's don't read Naveed's Realm. And you wouldn't want to be a fascist or a weirdo now would you? Would you? Think about that while I play some records) about a week or two ago Naveed posted a kind of overview on the subject of Reptoids, which coincidently is one of my favourite subjects.

Now this may come as a shock for those out there who read this and picture me as some kind of well dressed, fabulously charming, Adonis of a man, but I can actually be kind of a geek (Gee Note: Not that I'm not amazingly charming and all the rest of it. It's just, you know, sometimes a man can be both sexy and a massive nerd at the same time.) Especially when it comes to the subject of comic books.

Comic books are an art form that will never really be accepted by the mainstream. The image of a comic book fan to most people is this:

Which is a shame really, because as a man who regularly bores people in pub conversations about classic literature (Gee Note: Seriously, never ever get me on to the subject of Shakespeare. Unless, of course, you happen to be looking for a cheap alternative to sleeping pills.) there are some comic books I would genuinely rate along side any piece of writing from The Bard and the like.

For example, in my opinion both Watchmen and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen are works of such depth and complexity that very few non graphic novels can compare to them. The Sandman series written by Neil Gaiman is another sterling example, prompting Norman Mailer of all people to call it “a comic book for intellectuals”. (Gee Note: By the way did you know that Norman Mailer stabbed his second wife with a pen knife, nearly killing her? Makes that loveable old guy from “When We Were Kings” seem less, well, loveable doesn't it?). Add to that list The Dark Knight Returns, so close to being a complete masterpiece of the superhero genre it's scary, and you have enough to rival any “serious” art form beloved by regular folk.

Strangely enough what ignited my love of comics wasn't the super heroes themselves. Back then, and to a lesser extent even now, I found most heroes exceedingly boring and one dimensional, driven by an “aw swell” need to be good. Even those who were “edgy” and “dark” were often simply portrayed as having a low level of teenage angst.

No, for me the joy of comics always came from reading about the villains.

Trust me, until the recent "anti-hero" explosion inspired by Frank Miller and Alan Moore, the villains were always more fascinating characters than the heroes were. For example, take Bruce Wayne. A poor little rich boy who, while being skilled at hand to hand combat, basically beats the bad guys because he has an enormous wallet. Compare that to the Joker, a man driven to insanity for unknown reasons (Gee Note: "If I'm going to have a past I'd prefer it to be multiple choice") to the point where he kills people in unbelievably gruesome ways, and cripples innocent people for no reward other than to prove that "anyone can lose their mind after one really bad day". I don't know about you, but I know which one I'd rather read about.

Often times the heroes would just be a foil for the writer to have some fun with a psychopath. I mean how dull would a Spider-Man comic be without a character like Doc Ock? Or the Fantastic Four without Dr. Doom? Or Watchmen without the great big alien squid thing? (Gee Note: OK I know I've ranted about this before but, believe me, I understand that a lot of the graphic novel has to be ditched due to time constraints if you're going to actually make a Watchmen movie. And so therefore if "Tales of the Black Freighter" and the news-stand guy don't make the cut then fine. But not only is the squid thing pivotal to the storyline but it's also a kick ass visual. To replace it with a tired and clichéd atom bomb type of deal is a complete travesty in my opinion. It doesn't mean I won't go and see the movie. Just that my expectations of it being potentially the best film of the 00's have been significantly lowered. End of desperate sounding, whiny voiced, fanboy moaning.)

The reason I bring all this up is that the very first super villain I fell in love with was none other Dr. Curt Connors. AKA The Lizard. The Lizard has everything I adore about a good super villain. A noble and wise man, he is enlisted in to the army as a field surgeon where he saves the lives of countless G.I.s before losing an arm in an explosion. Honourably discharged due to his disability, he begins researching reptilian DNA in an effort to discover the secrets of limb regeneration. Driven by two parts desire to make a difference and one part ego, Connors develops a serum and like any good scientist, uses himself as a test subject. (Gee Note: My favourite scientists are the ones that are crazy enough to experiment on themselves. Guys like Barry Marshall, who in 1982 drank a witches brew of bacteria to prove that it was Helicobacter Pylori Bacterium that caused stomach ulcers and not, as it was thought at the time, stress. Marshall and his partner Robin Warren deservedly won both a Nobel Prize and a pretty severe tummy ache because of it.) Alas all did not go according to plan and the good doctor's serum transformed the mild mannered likeable chap in to a berserk, slobbering, half man half lizard mutant.

Pretty much like the one that was reported by 17 year old Christopher Davis in South Carolina, June 29th, 1988.

Allow me to explain. At approximately 2 am that morning Davis was on his way home from work, travelling on a road that runs alongside the Scape Ore swamp near Bishopville, when he had to pull over to fix a flat tire. He was just finishing up placing the flat in to his trunk when he heard a noise coming from a nearby field. Upon turning round to see what was causing such a ruckus he was amazed to see a 7 foot tall bipedal lizard with glowing red eyes charging towards him. Understandably freaked out Davis jumped in to his car, slammed his foot to the floor, a tore off down the road as quickly as the good folk at Toyota automotive engineering could muster.

Alas it wasn't quick enough as, according to Davis, while speeding along the creature leapt on to the roof of his car with a loud thud. A large three fingered claw started to reach over the windscreen while a second limb grabbed the drivers door. In a desperate attempt to save himself Davis swerved the car, forcing the creature to fall off. Davis didn't look back and sped all the way home.

A couple of days later Lee County Sheriff Liston Truesdale interviewed Davis about the incident. Believing it to be nothing more than a teenage prank Truesdale slowly became convinced that Davis was telling the truth. To that end Truesdale arranged for a lie detector test which Davis passed with flying colours.

Davis supplied the Sheriff with this drawing of the creature:

(Gee Note: It turns out that, erm, Christopher Davis isn't much of an artist.)

Soon Truesdale became besieged with other reports of a Lizard Man terrorizing the area around Scape Ore swamp. Construction worker George Hollomon Jr. reported seeing a beast that matched Davis's description of the creature near the Scape Ore Swamp Bridge while collecting water from an artisan well. The creature rounded on Hollomon causing him to flee the scene. Again Hollomon passed a lie detector test, and his brother claims Hollomon was genuinely disturbed by the event for months after. Later a young couple by the names of Brian Edward and Michelle Nunnery were interviewed by officers after they claimed to have nearly hit "some big animal on two legs" while driving down Cedar Creek "Gum Springs" Road.

And then a hoaxer came out of the woodwork.

Meet Kenneth Orr, an airman stationed at Shaw Air Force Base. Orr went to the police and claimed that he encountered the Lizard Man on Highway 15. Being a conscientious lover of nature, Orr promptly shot and wounded the Lizard Man , providing blood and scales as evidence.

Sadly the story was untrue, Orr recanted it two days later and was charged with filing a false police report. For many locals this one incident explained the events of that summer, the stories of a "Lizard Man" were nothing more than the work of a prank loving Air Force Sergeant.

But then that wouldn't explain what happened to Colonel Robert Cooper of the Army Corps of Engineers. On his way back home from a wedding rehearsal during the early 90's Colonel Cooper spotted what he described as a half-man half-dinosaur running alongside his car while driving past Scape Ore swamp. Cooper decided against placing a formal report on file due to the fact that it would not be kept private. Which is understandable. On the verge of promotion to General, Cooper probably felt that going around saying "I done seen a Dino-Man!" wouldn't help his career much.

Indeed seeing as Orr claimed to have nothing to do with the initial sightings and insisted that his one hoax was the fake scales and blood, it also wouldn't explain the footprints found by Truesdale in the swamp area while investigating the claims of Davis and others. The prints had three toes, and measured 14 inches long by 7 inches wide. Truesdale took them to various Wildlife experts who's opinions divided between "fake" and "real, but I don't know what the hell it is".

So here we have the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp. An undiscovered monster? Or a hoax? Well the truth is there's something about this tale that intrigues me, and while hard evidence is thin on the ground I'm not so sure it can be dismissed quite out of hand. And, honestly, I'm not even sure why I feel that way. There's just something about it, how the descriptions match, how the reports are from reliable people, how sightings continue to trickle in to this day, the negative lie detector tests, etc. I don't know, it just sounds more "genuine" than a lot of "weird beastie" stories.

And maybe, just maybe, there's a honest-to-goodness real life Curt Connors out there somewhere.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Well since my baby left me, I found a new place to dwell.

There's a post relationship breakup tradition I have which, sadly, I've practised way too many times over the past ten years. Basically, in an effort to get rid of the feelings of confusion, hurt and anger that comes with having one's heart broken, I'll grab a bottle of Jack Daniels, lock myself in to a room somewhere, and spend a couple of hours staring at the ceiling while listening some carefully chosen records. These will invariably include Joy Division, The Smiths, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley and Leonard Cohen to name but a few. The very first record to get played however is always something by Elvis Presley. Because, when it comes to heartbreak, nobody but nobody does it better than The King.

The reason I bring all this up is that in my last post about the “Wow!” signal I happened to mention that the day after it was picked up by a radio telescope in Ohio, Elvis Presley was found dead in his bathroom.

Now you would think that almost definitive proof that intelligent life exists on another planet would be a hotly debated topic on the interwebz, while the death of an overweight drug addicted rock 'n' roll singer would barely raise an eyebrow. Amazingly though the only time the “Wow!” signal ever really gets a mention is in retrospective “30 years ago” reports. Elvis's death on the other hand is talked about endlessly by conspiracy buffs everywhere. In fact a recent poll conducted suggests that 68% of Americans believe that Elvis did not die at all, and is presumably shaking his hips somewhere even now.

What's truly fascinating however is the lengths to which some people will go to try and prove that Elvis Presley faked his own death. For example Elvis's FBI file is the second most requested document under the freedom of information act (Gee Note: The first being the FBI file about Lyndon B. Johnson being a cross dresser. Nah, only kidding, it is of course the FBI file on Roswell. The "LBJ wearing lady clothes" file doesn't really exist. Or so they would want you to believe).

Now the corner stones for the “Elvis is alive” conspiracy are arguably just some superficial inconsistencies. Probably the one that's cited most often is that the name Elvis Aron Presley is spelt incorrectly on the gravestone as Elvis Aaron Presley.

Except it isn't. On Elvis's birth certificate his name reads Elvis Aaron Presley. In spite of this Elvis would later change the spelling of his middle name to closer match that of his still born twin's (Gee Note: Jesse Garon Presley). Hence the reason it appears as Aron on his marriage certificate. However it was never changed in any official capacity and apparently Elvis reverted back to it's original spelling later in life. So the idea that the name was deliberately misspelt on Elvis's tombstone to signify that he wasn't really dead is, um, kind of null and void.

Also, if you were going to fake your own death and you had the resources that Presley did, wouldn't you want to make sure that nobody would, you know, work out that it wasn't really you in the coffin? I mean you'd kind of want to make sure that all the details were correct, and not risk discovery by leaving an obvious mistake in plain sight wouldn't you? I know if I went through all the trouble of convincing the entire world that I was pushing up daisies only to be rumbled because my tombstone read “Here lies Dareth Gavies” I'd be pretty miffed to say the least.

But never fear my brave children. There's a ton of additional evidence outside of the misspelt name. For example, there's this picture :

Allegedly taken in Graceland's Meditation Gardens, it shows what appears to be The King kicking back in his pool house. Except, and here's the kicker, it was taken on January 1st 1978. A full four months after Elvis had died. The photo was taken by a member of the public named Mike Joseph, and was brought to public attention in the book “The Elvis Files” by Gail Brewer-Giorgio.

The book also claims that shortly after Elvis's death was announced a man by the name of John Burrows, who matched Elvis's description, bought a plane ticket to Buenos Aries. As far as I can tell, even though Elvis used the pseudonym John Burrows on a couple of occasions in the past, there's no real hard evidence to support this.

And there in lies the problem with the “Elvis is alive” conspiracy. There's really no hard evidence to support any of it at all. Even the celebrated “Pool house Photo” simply shows an overweight man wearing a pair of big sunglasses. Hardly conclusive, especially considering that it was A) the 1970's and B) Memphis. Slightly pudgy men in novelty shades were ten a penny back then.

The bottom line is though that Elvis Presley, despite being scheduled to go on tour the day after he died, had managed to put on 50lbs to an already out of shape physique in one month. As a man who managed to shed 70lbs in the past three months (Gee Note: No really, I'm all kinds of sexy and aerodynamic at the moment) 50lbs is a massive amount of weight. Trust me, anybody who abuses their body to that extent is going to suffer repercussions in some way.

Somewhere in my DVD collection I have a movie called “Elvis: That's The Way It Is”. A rockumentary that follows Elvis on the build up to his record breaking 1970 concert tour, it's a fascinating look at both Elvis as a performer, and the music industry as a whole. There are several moments through out the feature that are worthy of note. For example, Elvis never rehearsed with his backing singers before the tour started. Instead they would practice by singing along to a pre recorded tape of The King warbling away. There's also a ton of really good footage of Elvis live on stage, and for those like me who weren't alive when Elvis was in his prime, it really does hammer home what a charismatic and talented entertainer he was.

But there's something that, when looking back at it, is kind of unsettling. During a rehearsal before the tour started Elvis is jamming with his band when, for no real reason that I can see, he falls off his chair. He gets back up and immediately starts mugging for the camera with a manic grin. Now maybe it was just a bit of play acting from the rock 'n' roller, but to be honest with you the first reaction I had when I saw it was “Dear God, that guy's completely wasted”.

And the thing is that when it's all said and done Elvis Presley went from this:

To this:

Elvis Presley certainly had the means to be able to fake his own death, but the fact is a man who was a drug addict put on an astonishing amount of weight in a seriously short space of time. Now I'm no doctor, but even I know that is unbelievably unhealthy.

And so while fans of The King may hope that somewhere, somehow, he's still alive, it's tough to look past the idea that he died on August 16th 1977. I will however continue to honour his memory, and raise a glass to the man every time one of my relationships hits the skids.

Because nobody, but nobody, does heartbreak better than Elvis Presley.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

You know the difference between you and me? I make this look good.

According to the spoilers that made it on to IMDB recently, the movie version of Watchmen will not have the woovy berserk giant alien squid thing. Words cannot describe how much I hate Hollywood right now.

In other news, apparently my parents have become regular readers of this blog. Which, as with everything in life, has it's good and bad points. The good points are that my parents are wonderful people. My father, his dubious opinions on Jesus not withstanding (Gee Note: "I reckon Jesus was an alien. No really, think about it. Big light in the sky, a human with "other worldly" powers. It all fits.") is a man with a big voice and an even bigger heart. My mother is an intelligent and caring woman, full of wisdom and love.

So in a way it's a really great thing that both of them read this, as inevitably their feedback will be invaluable. But at some point my mum, being the astute and knowledgeable individual that she is, will invariably ask the question "You don't really believe any of that stuff do you?".

And honestly, I'm not sure how I would answer it.

Because the truth is I do and I don't. For example I'm convinced that there is something large and unknown living in the oceans, but I'm not so sure it's a plesiosaur, a masosaur, Cthulhu or in fact anything that's yet been discovered. I believe that potentially there could be such things as ghosts, but think that most mediums and psychics are either insane or blatant con artists. And I believe in life on other planets, but don't think there's any way possible that they could be little green men (Gee Note: The little and green is fine. It's the "men" I have a problem with).

I'm a relatively recent convert to the idea of extra terrestrial life. I've always tended to think that most alien contact stories and UFO sightings are in fact either nonsense, such as Stan Romanek's "peeping Tom" alien or Ray Santilli's alien autopsy video, or simply misidentified, regular aircrafts.

But then hoaxes and hot air balloons would not explain the “Wow” signal.

The Big Ear Radio Telescope was situated in Delaware, Ohio, as part of the State University's “Ohio Sky” project. Much like the Electric Banana in Spinal Tap, don't try and look for it as it was torn down in 1998 by some land developers who purchased it back in 1983 to build, among other things, a golf course. Up until that point the Telescope was placed in a fixed position pointing directly up to the heavens and was configured to pick up radio signals transmitted from space.

Initially the Telescope was used to monitor wideband radio signals. Wideband signals are generally created by natural phenomenons such as solar flares, supernovas and quasars. And as such Big Ear was instrumental in the discovery and gathering of all sorts of groovy information about our universe. However when the Ohio Sky project came to an abrupt end in 1973 due to Government cut backs Big Ear found itself at a loose end. That was until some bright spark convinced project leader Dr. John Kraus to reconfigure the Telescope to pick up narrowband signals.

Narrowband signals are almost always created by intelligent beings. For example, some of humanities greatest accomplishments are carried by narrowband signals. AM/FM radio, television, and satellite transmissions to name but a few.

And so, in short, Big Ear found a new purpose in life by looking for intelligent beings larking about with ham radio's outside of our solar system.

Nothing much happened for the first couple of years. In fact it was so quiet it made a night out with Clay Aitkin seem positively exciting (Gee Note: By the way according to this weeks National Enquirer he's gay. I don't know about you but I never saw that one coming.) But then at 11.10pm on August 15th 1977 the needle on the computer printer squiggled in to life and wrote itself in to the history books.

Now seeing as most people generally learn their life lessons vicariously through movies and television then what should have happened was that a nervous young boffin would have received the printout and raced to the phone to wake up his superior. A call would have then been put through to President Bill Pullman (Gee Note: Again according to this weeks National Enquirer Bill Pullman's 19 year old son was arrested recently for possessing “moonshine”. You know, until reading that article I thought moonshine was a fictional drink depicted solely in episodes of The Dukes of Hazard. Shows what I know) who would have prepared to welcome aliens to Earth with a message of peace until Jeff Goldblum breaks in to his office to tell him that actually the aliens are evil and have come to exterminate us all.

Well Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman were obviously very busy that day as none of that, or anything remotely like it, happened. Instead four days later Dr. Jerry R. Ehman was going about his routine business of checking the readouts when he came across a reading so remarkably close to what an intelligently designed extra terrestrial narrowband signal would theoretically look like that he circled the reading with a red pen and wrote the word “Wow!” next to it.

And with that the signal had a name.

Now as you can see above the portion of the report circled states 6EQUJ5. The next part of this post was going to attempt to explain in layman's terms exactly what that means. But to be honest with you I've been studying the various technical reports on this incident for three days now and I still haven't the foggiest. No really, if anyone can make sense of sentences such as “the average intensity of 6 integration periods (1/6 of the current value plus 5/6 of the previous value) was subtracted out to remove the baseline intensity” without reaching for the nearest bottle of wine then it turns out they're a better person than I am.

Anyway the bottom line is that this was almost certainly created artificially, lasted a full 72 seconds (Gee Note: Which, due to Earth's rotation, is approximately how long Big Ear would be directed at a single point in space), and apparently originated from somewhere in the constellation of Sagittarius. Much excitement was had amongst the good folk at Big Ear. At last it seemed intelligent life had been discovered in outer space.

And then nothing.

For more than six years the team at Big Ear searched frantically for a repeat of the signal until the fateful day that the land was sold so that a bunch of overpaid lawyers could enjoy 18 holes. In all that time, all those countless hours spent pouring over sheets of paper full of digits and symbols, not once did the signal reappear. And because of that, people began to doubt that the signal was all that it appeared to be in the first place.

One of those people was Ehman himself. He speculated that the signal must have originated from Earth and then redirected somehow. When it was pointed out that this would be exceedingly unlikely (Gee Note: And when I say unlikely I mean “Waking up on April 17th 2023 to find that your left hand has been replaced with a working miniature scale model of Coney Island” unlikely) Ehman recanted somewhat and instead stated he would not attempt to draw any conclusions from such a small amount of data.

And so, in what seems to be a reoccurring theme here at I Saw Elvis, the “Wow” signal represents something that is frustratingly close to being proof positive but is missing that vital ingredient. And so we can not but look at it as anything other than an intriguing mystery. Which is a massive shame.

Another thing worth noting about the “Wow” signal is that it occurred the night before a 42 year old man was discovered dead in his bathroom in Memphis, Tennessee. Indeed the very day after the “Wow” signal was recorded Elvis Presley left the building for the very last time.

What could these two things possibly have in common? Absolutely nothing of course.

That is, unless you believe that Elvis is not dead......

He just went home.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Life finds a way.

Here's a picture of a baby Moose.

Isn't it weird that a baby Moose isn't cute? I mean not even in the slightest. Most baby mammals can reduce an entire room full of Marines into slushy six year old girls. Hell, even Charles Manson would probably stop ranting about black people for two minutes to fuss over a little tiny Panda bear.

A baby moose on the other hand is just far too goofy to ever be considered cute. With it's stupidly long legs, it's half horse half cow face, and ears that point to the heavens like their on a pilgrimage, a baby moose looks like the bastard child of a donkey and the monster from Cloverfield.

However, what a baby moose doesn't look like is the Dover Demon.

Allow me to explain. The story begins in 1977. Now 1977 was probably the single greatest year of the 1970's. For example, on September 28th a piece of pure automotive genius in the form of the Porsche 928 made it's début at the Geneva Motor show. On August 15th the “Big Ear” radio telescope picked up the “Wow!” signal (Gee Note: For those of you who have no idea what that means don't worry. It undoubtedly makes you far more likely to leave your house than anyone who does). On October 28th The Sex Pistols released the album “Never Mind The Bollocks...” which almost single handedly turned the music world on it's head. And, as mentioned previously on this blog, a year of terror was brought to an end when David Berkowitz was arrested in Yonkers, New York on August 10th.

But most importantly that summer cinemas around the world treated movie goers to something truly amazing. For in that glorious season the trumpets of 20th Century Fox were proud heralds to the story of a farm boy who joins a band of misfits in order to help defeat an oppressive government. That' right folks. On May 25th 1977 Star Wars arrived.

Even before all that however, something exceedingly odd happened in Dover, Massachusetts on April 21st 1977. At approximately 10.30 pm William Bartlett and two friends were driving along Farm Street in Bartlett's Volkswagen Beetle when the 17 year old spotted what appeared to be a small child moving on top of a stone wall. As they drew closer they realised that it wasn't a small child at all. Instead it resembled one of those little pot bellied dudes from the X-Files. Except the X-Files was a good fifteen years away from being transmitted on television, so that reference probably didn't come up between Bartlett and his friends. (Gee Note: To be honest if they said anything other than “WHAT THE F*@% IS THAT!??!?!” I'll be amazed). This creature had tan coloured skin and a large bulbous head which was almost the same size as the rest of it's body. And had no ears. Or mouth. Or nose. Oh and it had slender fingers on the end of each one of it's limbs. And.... it was hairless.

Bartlett said he got a good look at this oddity for a good 10 to 15 seconds. The oddity itself apparently had a good look at Bartlett as well, staring back with a pair of bright orange eyes. (Gee Note: Always with the re.... Wait, did he say “orange” eyes? Orange eyes? Not red eyes? Oh man, do I not like this). Bartlett immediately drove home lickity split and, being an aspiring artist, drew a picture of what he had just witnessed.

(Gee Note: I'm trying to come up with a joke to tie this picture to the popular Swedish Cartoon characters The Moomins. So far I haven't come up with a damn thing. So to hell with it, I'm gonna be lazy and go with a picture of my own.)

A further two sightings of this odd little beastie were reported in the next 24 hours. About an hour after the initial sighting a chap named John Baxter, aged 15, saw the creature on two legs running along before stopping by the side of a tree. The next day Abby Brabham, aged 15, and Will Traintor, aged 18, spotted it from Traintor's car (Gee Note: Hands up here who asked the question “what was a 15 year old girl doing in an 18 year old boy's car?”. I sure did. Sadly none of the interviewers in the reports I've read ask Ms Brabham that. Tsk, I don't know. Cryptozoologists eh? No sense of tabloid sensationalism). The descriptions matched Baxter's and Bartlett's except for one thing.

According to Abby Brabham the creature had green eyes that were reflected back from the car's headlights. The initial investigators questioned this, offering that the two other witnesses gave the animal completely different colour eyes. Nope, said Brabham, those peepers where definitely green.(Gee Note: Always with the re... What? GREEN?!?! Oh to hell with this.)

Upon hearing of this Loren Coleman came to town. Coleman, widely regarded as cryptozoology's version of Jurassic Park's Alan Grant (Gee Note: Rest in peace Michael Crichton), is possibly the most respected person on the planet to regularly talk about such subjects as Bigfoot and the like to the media. He enlisted the services of a couple of local well thought of ufologists and set about discovering as much about this phenomenon as he could.

Now bare in mind that what makes Loren Coleman so good at being a renowned cryptozoologist is that, much like his late friend Ivan T. Sanderson, he tends to approach such things with a healthy dose of scepticism. So it's arguably quite a big deal when, after conducting numerous interviews and working on hours of field research, Loren Coleman announces that he doesn't believe that what happened in that two day time frame was perpetrated by a hoaxer.

So if the Dover Demon is real entity what could it be? Well several proposals have been put forward from the obvious mutant theory to the obviously ridiculous being from another dimension theory. One of the most popular amongst sceptics is that the Dover Demon was nothing other than a misidentified baby moose. Despite the fact that there were no reports of moose in the Dover area at the time, and that moose don't have freakishly long fingers or nothing on their face apart from a pair of eyes, this theory is surprisingly popular.

Now what makes the Dover Demon stand out above the rest of the rag tag bunch of cryptids that regularly appear on internet discussion forums is this. Those that I've listed above are the only known sightings of this creature. Since then not one single person from the Massachusetts area has claimed to have seen the Dover Demon. Which, thankfully, rules out the “one size fits all” explanation of mass hysteria.

And so, with nothing other than the half-hearted rationale that all the witnesses were teenagers and so therefore must have either made the whole thing up or misidentified a young moose to discredit it, the Dover Demon remains one the most intriguing examples of the unexplained. Even now 31 years after the event, it is still hotly debated amongst amateur sleuths and cryptozoologists alike.

And for some reason I just can't see a goofy little baby moose stirring up that amount of controversy.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

So young, so angry. Damn that rap music!

Call me an idiot if you like, but for some reason that made me laugh until milk came out of my nose.

Somehow I've been talked in to getting a pet. Namely a guinea pig. Or two guinea pigs actually because, apparently, these furry things get lonely. You know I'm pretty sure that, outside of specifically bred farmyard animals, humans and creatures should try and mix as little as possible. For example, this morning I asked my good friend Rob from Gen-1 whether he'd ever had a pet. He sent me this as a reply. These, good people, are the words of a respected Marine Biologist and published writer.

“When I was about 7, my brother decided his hamster and me should be friends, so he called me over and put this hamster on my shoulder. I was nervous of it, it was nervous of me, and when I moved it decided to hold on tighter. The little bastard grabbed onto my earlobe with its teeth, and when I tried to shake it off it hung on. I pioneered hamster-earrings, you know.”

See? And Rob positively likes animals. Suffice to say that I'm starting to regret agreeing to get a pet in the first place. If Rob got a Hamster hanging from his ear, then I'm pretty sure that I could quite easily lose a finger to a guinea pig.

If only I could find someone who would be able to “speak” to my pet. Someone who could let me know when it was feeling down, or let me know that it just wants to eat Salt and Vinegar Pringles. Someone who would be able to tell me whether my guinea pig likes bathing in chocolate or champagne. Someone to tell me when it's time to start taking quotes from taxidermists. If only I could pick up the phone and call someone like that.

Well thanks to the magics of the interwebz, you can. Meet Lisa Greene, a crazy drunk pet psychic. For a modest fee you can get a reading from Lisa. Or your pet can. I don't know, I'm not sure how it works. What I do know is that Lisa doesn't just deal with “current” pets. Because that would be too easy, obviously. No, like all good psychics, Ms Greene can channel the spirit of those cats and dogs that have recently departed. Or as Lisa's own website puts it, those that have “crossed the rainbow bridge” (Gee Note: Actually her website uses many euphemisms for the word “Death”. I thought that “crossing the rainbow bridge” was a bit better than “taken by the seizure monsters” however).

You may be amazed to hear this, but it wasn't Greene's attractive portrait or her thoroughly interesting biography that got me so enthused about her. Nay good kinsmen, it was instead the “testimonial” section of her website that finally won me over.

If you read the same magazines as I do, you'll be familiar with the art of the “anonymous fan” style of recommendation. Usually they accompany adverts for things like sprays that make you “irresistible” to members of the opposite sex. “It really works!” says Harry B. “I was a loser with the ladies until I tried this product. Now I get a date with a different woman every night!” says Tim G. That kind of thing (Gee Note: Sadly it turns out that no amount of spray is going to improve your chances if you look like a steamed cabbage and have the personality of a walnut. Not that I speak from experience here you understand. Oh heavens no. I'm a regular little Fabio).

Well gosh darnit if Lisa doesn't have a slew of these for you to peruse at your leisure. And who here doesn't trust the testimony of someone who won't give their last name? For example take Britain's very own Edwina K and her horse Sirus.

"Dearest Lisa: Greetings from the UK. I thank you for your time and all of the assistance you gave to Sirus and me last month. Since our talk, we have become much closer to one another and our training has accelerated greatly. He's not lowering his head like he was and just seems quite more relaxed now. I'm making the changes he requested and it's working. I'm also bringing him his strawberry candy that he so adores. I will send you photo's of him eating his candy. He's a stitch! Thank you for everything, I learned so much. I'll be contacting you again soon."

Oh that Sirus, he's such a riot! To be fair a horse did have me in stitches once. But then that was because the damn thing mistook the side of my wrist for a sugar cube. Now if I was unsure of which Pet Psychic was the one for me then I'm pretty sure that Edwina K's review alone would sway me. But what would seal the deal? How about this from Colleen P talking about her deceased snake Stephanie?

"Lisa did a reading for me when I lost my precious Stephanie snake after 7 years of doting on her. I was so beside myself with guilt and grief, I just didn't know what to do. When I found her dead I spent 2 hours blowing into her trachea to try to revive her. I couldn't face the idea of losing her. I couldn't IMAGINE it. I wanted to know WHERE she was and that she was OK. After 7 years of taking care of her, healing her from being a sick baby, and being totally bonded with her... suddenly she was gone and I was blaming myself, hating myself for not knowing how sick she was, etc."

Two hours? You gave mouth to mouth to a snake for two hours? But how? They don't have any lips for God's sake. (Gee Note: This may be in poor taste, but does anyone else have the mental image of the snake slowly inflating like a balloon with each puff? No? Just me then). I also love the way she finishes the harrowing tale with “etc”. It would be like asking someone how they were, only to get “Well my wife left me, my house burnt to the ground, and I lost the sight in my right eye due to a freak boating accident. But you know me, I can't complain”. Anyway, believing that Stephanie has been reincarnated just like Lisa said she would be, Colleen P continues.

"Someone found this angel up in the mountains in Northern Cal, not sure where. Turned into pet store. Couldn't keep because you need license, they're native species. Dick walked in, they know he has license, they gave her to him. That was 5 days ago. Right NOW he's gone farther north again... he called me from fresno area, store was somewhere near there but DICK is going up to way north, you said above palo alto, could that be you seeing DICK taking her there before I get her?? I swear I almost dropped everything to go drive there, you know me..."


"I BELIEVE THIS IS STEPHANIE. OMG I HAVE BEEN WILLLLLING HER TO COME BACK. This matches almost every single thing you said, just that it wasn't ME finding her, it was dick and she found him knowing she'd get to me. I'm god mother to his alligator... remember we talked about him?"

It should be noted that the text reprinted here is exactly the same as it appears on Lisa Greene's website. Which means that not only does this woman genuinely believe that her serpent has come back to life, but also that in a thank you note to a psychic she uses the word “dick” an awful lot. Regardless this would be enough to convince even the most cynical of reader that Lisa Greene preys on the weak is the real deal. So, I hear you cry, how much is a session with this wonderful pet whisperer?

You sitting down?

No really, you really should be sitting down.

Well “in home/barn” sessions cost $200. If that's a bit too pricey for you then you could always call her on the telephone. For $75 per 30 minutes, or $120 for an hour. Completely worth it, if of course you happen to be waiting for the news that your dead pet has been reincarnated.

At the end of the day though, losing loved ones is tough, and people can do completely irrational things when faced with tragedy. So I guess if you've genuinely got $200 you can afford to lose then maybe you may find some comfort by enlisting the services of a pet psychic.

But the truth is that I can't help but think people like Lisa Greene may take advantage of those who are either unable to cope with the loss of a pet, or already far too into an animal companion to begin with. Now I'm not sure what the psychological definition of “slightly unbalanced” is, but if you are willing to believe that your cat can send it's voice from beyond the grave and want to pay $200 to a woman from Texas to prove it then, well, I'd have to guess that you would fit that description.

So when faced with the choice between paying a psychic to tell me if my guinea pig wants me to tickle his tummy more, or paying for a good vet to administer some medicine when required and a “How to” book on caring for rodents you'll excuse me if I don't plump for the latter.