Wednesday, February 27, 2013

August Derleth: Fact or Fiction?

There's another new post from me up at Mysterious Universe, which deals with a controversial character and an equally controversial book. It starts like this...

"We all have our favorite books that we can (and do!) read over and over again. I can certainly name several: Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur; Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles; and Keith Waterhouse’s Billy Liar.

"And then there’s The Lurker at the Threshold, a big favorite of mine, which was widely credited to acclaimed horror writers H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth. First published in the 1940s by Carroll & Graf, the book was, in reality, almost solely the work of Derleth, with barely a couple of thousand (if even that) of its approximately 50,000 words having been contributed by Lovecraft.

The Lurker at the Threshold

"The Lurker at the Threshold is a most intriguing book, to say the least. Although presented to the reader strictly as an entertaining work of fiction, it deals with certain issues that are central to many topics that crop up in the real world of Forteana, and with which I have crossed paths, time and again, during the course of my studies and writings of the paranormal kind."

And here's the rest of the post on this very curious saga...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Abominable Snowman: Thursday

If you're in the US, and are into all things of a Bigfoot and Yeti nature, well this Thursday you're in for a treat. At 11.00 AM, central time, the Fox Movie Channel will be airing what is, in my opinion, the best movie ever made on such matters.

I'm talking about the 1957 production from Hammer Film Productions, The Abominable Snowman, starring Forrest Tucker and Peter Cushing.

Hammer made some great films, but this is one of the best. And the good news is that it does not take the tired and predictable approach of so many of today's crappy cryptozoological movie-makers. I mean, of course, having the creature slaughter - one by one - a bunch of kids in the woods.


The Abominable Snowman is very different.

Yes, it's packed with intrigue and suspense, but (unlike so much of today's cheaply made rubbish) it's also filled with a great deal of thought-provoking material on the nature of the Yeti.

In fact, as we learn more about the creature, things become downright spooky. Indeed, certain scenes are unforgettable in the enigmatic stakes.

If you've never seen The Abominable Snowman, you're in for a great treat. If you have, well, watch it again!

UFOs: "They" Are Watching You...

If you are into UFOs and suffer from paranoia, you might not want to read my latest Mysterious Universe post. Then again, you might! Anyway, it starts like this:

"There are a number of intriguing disclosures contained in one of the batches of declassified British Government files on UFOs that surfaced in 2012. Among them are the notable (and lengthy) references to, and papers on, certain people within the UK-based UFO research field who had been secretly watched by officialdom. In some cases, they were watched for a very long time and by more than one agency or arm of the British Government. Interestingly, the 'saucer spying' was undertaken by agencies outside of the Ministry of Defense. Yet, we have, for years, been led to believe that the MoD is the only agency that plays a meaningful role in the UFO issue when it comes to the British Government.

"Governments distorting and hiding the facts? Really? Surely not?! And should we be surprised to learn that other UK departments, beyond the MoD, are also implicated in the UFO puzzle? No, of course we shouldn’t be surprised! In fact, nothing should surprise us when it comes to official secrecy and saucers in the sky."

Want to know how in UK-Ufology was watched and why? Read on!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Superstitions of Cornwall

Back in the early 1970s, when I was about 7 or 8, my parents bought me a great book, which I still read to this day: Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain. It was (and still is!) packed with tales of ghosts, witches, strange beasts, superstitions, legends and more, which kept a young, wide-eyed Nick Redfern entertained for hours.

Much space is given in the book to the myths of the English county of Cornwall, an ancient land filled with magic and mystery.

But, if you don't have the book, no worries, you can find some fascinating data on the high-strangeness-based superstitions of Cornwall in a new post from Kithra.

As she notes:

"...many of these old superstitions have now died out in Cornwall, which is I'm sure a very good thing. But, in some parts of the county I suspect that a few of them still persist. Such is the old 'magic and myth' of this beautiful place in which I'm lucky enough to live."

PS: Yes, that's my now tattered and battered copy of Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain, photographed this morning. And, looking inside, I see it was published in 1973. Forty years has flown by since I first immersed myself in its cool and creepy pages...!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Expeditions of the Monstrous Kind

My newly-posted Lair of the Beasts article at lists the top three expeditions of the cryptozoological kind I'd like to go on if I had the chance.

It starts like this...

"Now and again I get asked something along the lines of: 'What strange creature, which you haven’t yet searched for, would you like to chase down?' Well, it’s a good question. The world is a very big place and there are a lot of weird beasts out there. But, there are a few specific and amazing animals I’d like to go looking for which, so far, I haven’t had the opportunity.

"Imagine coming face to face with a ferocious, carnivorous monitor lizard with a length of somewhere between fifteen and twenty feet – maybe even closer to twenty five feet – and a weight in excess of at least a ton.

"Not in times long past – since the creature under the microscope is widely assumed to have become extinct around 40,000 years ago - but right now, deep in the heart of the sub-tropical rainforests of Australia. You think it couldn’t happen?"

And here's the rest of the article, and the lowdown on those three...

Friday, February 22, 2013

MIB - Twice!

If, like me, you're fascinated by the mystery of the menacing Men in Black, then there's good news: there are two, good new articles on the subject at Mysterious Universe. The first is from Micah Hanks, which begins as follows...

"After the initial stirring media reports of 'flying saucers' began to claim the attention of postwar America, it wasn’t long before sci-fi and aviation enthusiasts, as well as journalists and the generally curious, began forming clubs and organizations aimed at 'cracking' the saucer mystery. Few would have guessed back then, at the outset of this cultural phenomenon, that more than a century later, the interest in this subject would remain so strong, largely because no clear solution to the UFO mystery has been offered, aside from speculation that still involves aliens visiting earth, time travelers, secret technologies, back engineering, and an entire host of other things.

"Then again, it is within the UFO literature itself that we also find references to another cultural phenomenon, of sorts, contained neatly within its own secretive sub-genre of oddity; this involves the Men in Black, beings whose popularity today is good cause for no further description being needed here as to who or what these characters are believed to be. But despite their popularity as a cultural phenomenon all to themselves, is there a chance that some aspects of the MIB mystery might even be explained by the careful cross-examination of source materials that support their existence?"

And here's Micah's complete post...

Here's the second new article at Mysterious Universe on the MIB, this one from Jason Offutt:

"When 20-year-old Walter woke, the red, glowing lights of his bedside alarm clock read 88:88. He quickly saw the clock wasn’t the only thing wrong in his room. 'Standing above it was a man-sized black shadow with glowing red eyes,' Walter said. 'I looked right at him, and was more confused then anything.'

"Walter, now 28, has always been used to strange things in his room. During many nights as a small child, the thin blanket of light crawling into his room from nearby streetlights would slowly dim until he couldn’t see anything. Although he was too young to remember, family members told him this is when the voices came out. 'At that time what I was told was imaginary friends would come and I’d talk to them,' he said. 'Even now when I’m in a dark room it’s like I can still hear the whispers of others and even during times of danger there is always a voice that warns me to take action.'"

And here's Jason's full article...

Soviet Saucers and Sinister Clouds

"If there is one thing more than any other that I like about the Flying Saucer era of the late 1940s and the early to mid 1950s, it’s the sheer wacky nature of some of the stories that surfaced during that long gone time. Indeed, they are of a caliber (and sometimes of a lack of caliber!) that we just don’t see today. The following is a classic example, and which, just maybe, does indeed have a degree, or nugget, of truth to it. Who knows?

"It’s a very strange story that I suspect most people within Ufology will never even have heard of. But, it’s undeniably fascinating, and filled with tales of the FBI, clandestine sources and informants, Soviet secrets, mysterious “controlled clouds,” dead worms (yes, really) and much more. I have been delving into it for quite some time now, but have gone about just as far as I can – unless, that is, anyone reading this knows more…"

The words above are the opening paragraphs to a new Mysterious Universe article from me on a seriously weird story that you can find right here...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Crop Circles and Circle Makers

I've got a new post up at Mysterious Universe. The subject: the people who make crop circles.

Hang on, though, before you get your blood-pressure all out of shape. We're not talking about hoaxers. Rather, we're talking about makers. And makers who experience paranormal phenomena in those formations of their own design.

The article starts as follows:

"As some people may already be aware, many of my views on crop circles are hardly what might be termed conventional. But, as crop circles are themselves in no way conventional, for me, at least, my approach to the subject is a highly appropriate one. Here’s the deal: for numerous people crop circles are the work of aliens, ET, little grey men with large, wrap-around black eyes, and over-sized heads. You get the picture, right? Of course you do! For the true-believers who pray daily at the altar of our hallowed lord and master, Kenneth Arnold, it has to be ET; it just has to be. Actually, when it comes to crop circles, no, it doesn’t have to be. At all."

And here's the complete piece...

It's an article that covers a famous circle maker, a castle, a peacock, missing time, and much, much more...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Cult of the Moon Beast

Over the years I've done more than a few investigations into strange and disturbing mutilations of animals in the UK - much of which was prompted by the fact that, as a kid, I lived only about 5-minutes from where the very controversial saga of George Edalji (pictured below) went down. In other words, as the Edalji affair was known all across the little villages of the area I grew up in, I was exposed to the phenomenon from an early age.

But, we're not talking about attacks by so-called "Alien Big Cats" or anything along the lines of cattle mutilations.

Rather, we're talking about ritualistic sacrifice and the summoning up of strange and bizarre beasts as a consequence and result of those sacrifices.

In my 2008 book, There's Something in the Woods, I detailed a series of such events that occurred in Devonshire, England in 2006; and my 2012 book Monster Diary reveals my findings on an ancient Scottish group - the Taigheirm - that got up to similar things in centuries-past, and which may still exist.

One of the weirdest stories that falls into this category came to me in 2000 by a guy named Rob Lea. It's a very odd and lengthy saga filled with conspiracy, werewolves, slaughtered sheep, and much, much more.

And Rob's story is the focus of my latest Mysterious Universe post.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Beast-Man That Wasn't

Matt Salusbury provides us with an entertaining story of a quest for the truth about a certain "British Bigfoot." It's a post that opens as follows...

"In November last year, there were widespread news reports  of a sighting of what became known as the Tunbridge Wells Bigfoot, a roaring, black hairy figure 'eight feet tall' with red eyes that startled an eyewitness walking on The Common at night. London Cryptozoology Club decided to investigate.

"It should be noted that we went to Tunbridge Wells with a very sceptical view of this so-called 'Tunbridge Wells Bigfoot' (TWB) phenomenon. We were particularly sceptical of an online posting by 'Greham S,' who claimed that a courting couple on a bench in The Common had witnessed the 'Ape-Man' back in World War Two."

And here's where you can find the full story, as well as a number of related photos...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

There's Something at the Bridge...

There's a new Lair of the Beasts column from me at The subject: a case that has long fascinated me. Namely, that of the so-called Man-Monkey of England.

The post begins...

"In her 1883 book, Shropshire Folklore, Charlotte Sophia Burne detailed a deeply curious tale of a bizarre, ghost-like ape encountered near woods surrounding an old stretch of English canal:

"'A very weird story of an encounter with an animal ghost arose of late years within my knowledge. On the 21st of January 1879, a laboring man was employed to take a cart of luggage from Ranton in Staffordshire to Woodcock, beyond Newport in Shropshire, for the ease of a party of visitors who were going from one house to another.

"'He was late in coming back; his horse was tired, and could only crawl along at a foot’s pace, so that it was ten o’clock at night when he arrived at the place where the highroad crosses the Birmingham and Liverpool canal."

"Suddenly, said Burne a fast-moving animal leaped out of the shadowy trees and propelled itself aboard the cart, sending the horse into a state of frenzy."

What happened next?  This is what happened next...

PS: Yep, that's the bridge above where all the weirdness went down. And still does!

Mind Games and Alien Abductions

"When, in the mid-1980s, plans were formulated by the iron-fist regime of then-Prime Minister Thatcher to base nuclear 'Cruise' missiles at strategic military bases in the British Isles, it provoked massive demonstrations on the part of the general public – and particularly at a military establishment called Greenham Common.

"As a result of the planned placement of missiles at Greenham Common, a large group of women peace-protesters set up camp outside the base. It wasn’t long, however, before many of the women began to experience a series of disturbing symptoms, including deep depression, overwhelming anxiety attacks, intense migraine-like headaches, alarming losses of short-term memory, and much more of a distinctly mind-destabilizing nature."

The above is how my latest Mysterious Universe article begins.

And here's how it continues...

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Werewolf and a Cemetery

Over at Mysterious Universe, Jason Offutt relates a fascinating story of the werewolf kind. It starts like this...

"The lonely cemetery near the small town of Brunswick, Missouri, rises like ancient ruins on a hill at the end of a dusty gravel road. A dark canopy of trees covers the half-mile long stretch of rocks and dirt, hiding the path from the sky. Ryan Straub, founder of the Missouri-based ghosthunting group Tir Firnath, has often visited the cemetery and experienced strange things. However, nothing has disturbed him there as much as what he and his friend Jeremy Taylor saw standing on that gravel road in the dark on Halloween 2000.

"As we were leaving, we were in the middle of the hills and we saw a very large dog in the road,” Straub said. The grayish-brown beast was at least 250 pounds and feeding off road kill. It didn’t move as the truck headlights flooded over it and the vehicle creaked to a stop. As the stench of wet dog crept into the truck, the men realized they had encountered something they shouldn’t have seen."

And here's the complete article, which is an excellent read!

Sydney Squidney & Monster Diary

Over at Goodreads, there's a new review of my Monster Diary book from Sydney Squidney, keeper of Cryptid Chronicles.

In part, Sydney states: "In MONSTER DIARY, the ever-learning reader gets (re)acquainted with truths, conjectures and possibilities that could answer some of the strange and sinister experiences that people are and have been reporting across the world for centuries such as apparitional creatures, ghostly projections, giant flying 'things', and giant eels. But there's also a whole lot more strange phenomena to absorb."

Here's the full review.

That's Sydney below, looking remarkably calm as she is about to get eaten by King Kong.

Rather than save Sydney from the jaws of the mighty beast, I decided to take a photo instead!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hollywood, Saucers, and the CIA

Robbie Graham takes a look at a legendary sci-fi movie and addresses its connection to none other than the CIA...

Here's the link...

Discussing the Reptilians

Tim Binnall - of Binnall of America - emailed me this morning with the data on his latest show, and here's Tim himself to tell you all about it...

"John Rhodes, Terrestrial Reptoid Hypothesis:

"Getting back to our esoteric roots, BoA:Audio welcomes paranormal pioneer John Rhodes for a discussion on his groundbreaking work studying the Terrestrial Reptoid Hypothesis or, as it is more commonly known, 'reptilians.' Over the course of this mind-bending conversation, we'll learn about how John first discovered stories of reptoids and ended up forming the TRH, the mainstream reputation and depiction of reptilians versus the information he has collected on the phenomenon, and how his reptoids theories fit into the overall paranormal landscape.

"Additionally, we'll hear about underground bases, John's MIB encounter, cattle mutilations, and government tinkering with UFO researchers. Plus, of course, tons and tons more.

"This is an absolute barnburner edition of the program where we explore one of the most controversial and remarkable theories in all of the paranormal world, the terrestrial reptoid hypothesis, with the man who has spent the last twenty years on the trail of the reptilians: John Rhodes."

And here's where you can find the episode.

Neil Arnold: Reviewing Wildman

Neil Arnold - the author of many excellent books on cryptozoological and paranormal subjects, including Monster! and The Mystery Animals of the British Isles: London - has written a great review of my book, Wildman, the subject of which is Bigfoot in Britain.

Here's Neil's review:

"For centuries there have been sporadic reports in the wilds of Britain of strange, bipedal hair-covered beings, akin to the humanoid known as Bigfoot, often sighted in the Pacific Northwest. Although Britain harbours dense woodlands and ancient forest it has never been inhabited by any species of ape - so, what exactly are people seeing? Flesh and blood creature undiscovered by science? Hoaxers dressed up in gorilla suits? Paranormal manimals? Or something far weirder?

"Nick Redfern has written one of the most important cryptozoological and Fortean books of all time in 'Wildman,' because whilst books regarding American Bigfoot are two a penny nowadays, this quest is something altogether more unique as Nick delves into the archives, interviews witnesses, and trudges through some of Britain's most inhospitable - and not so remote - wilds in search of a creature that simply cannot be. And yet the reports persist, a majority describing hulking ape-men with burning red eyes.

"These figures do not sound like your average monkey that has escaped from a zoo or circus , and yet Nick looks at these possibilities too with numerous cases pertaining to escapees from menageries and the like. Theories are put forward by several dedicated monster-hunters and zoologists as to what these manifestations could be, connecting such forms with age-old legends such as the Green Man, and the Woodwose of Medieval lore.

"It's as if folklore has come to life. Nick peels back the layers of these incredible mysteries, and covers all manner of surreal and frightening cases from places such as Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk, and the Bolam Lake area of Northumberland where a group of witnesses claimed to have seen a hairy man-beast.

"No stone remains unturned in 'Wildman', so, if you don't know your Man-Monkey from you Shug-Monkey, then it's time to grab a torch and with stout heart venture into the deep, dark woods of British folklore, and let Nick Redfern be your guide. 'Wildman' is essential reading for any monster-hunter, ghost investigator, paranormal enthusiast, zoologist, cryptozoologist, historian and seeker of all things unnatural. Brace yourself for a hairy ride."

Roswell: The Files That Can't Be Found

There's a new post from me at Mysterious Universe on the case that you either love, hate, or are sick and tired of hearing about. I kind of fall into all three categories, but still I find it hard to leave alone. Yep, it's the "R word."

It begins like this:

"On July 28, 1995, the US Government’s General Accounting Office’s report on the Roswell affair surfaced from its National Security and International Affairs Division. And although the GAO’s report did not provide any smoking-guns – or, rather, any old B&W photos of dead bodies and wreckage at the crash-site on the Foster Ranch, New Mexico – it did provide something interesting and controversial. But, it is something that has been misinterpreted for years.

"During the course of their search for records to try and better understand what had taken place at Roswell in early July 1947, the GAO learned that the entire outgoing messages from Roswell Army Air Field generated during the period that the event occurred were missing, and under circumstances that could not be fully determined and proved."

And here's the complete article...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Reviewing Keel's Jadoo

Over at Mysterious Universe, I review the new (and expanded) version of John Keel's first ever book, Jadoo.

If you have never read Jadoo, then you should!

You can find the review here.

And here's the opening paragraphs of the review:

"I became acquainted with Jadoo – the first book ever written by John Keel – back in the late 1980s, when a friend in the Fortean field loaned me a copy. Having eagerly read The Mothman Prophecies when I was about twelve or thirteen, I equally eagerly devoured Jadoo. And a damn good read it was too! But, since I never personally owned a copy of the book, I have to confess that, as time passed by and the years progressed, I pretty much forgot about it. Until now. Yep, Jadoo is back!

"Thanks to the good folks at Anomalist Books, Keel’s book is with us once again. And, yes, you can purchase used, old copies of Jadoo online, but there are very good reasons why it would be much wiser – and far more rewarding – to invest in a copy of the new edition. I’ll explain why, at the end. But, before we get to all that, if you haven’t read Jadoo, you may already be thinking: What’s Nick on about and what is Jadoo about? I’ll tell you."

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lecturing on the MIB

It's a while away yet, but I'll be speaking at the MUFON Philadelphia conference on the weekend of October 4 to 6. The subject, my book, The Real Men in Black.

The Mechanical Gorilla

In a new post at his Forteana Blog, Andrew May begins...
"Here is a new novelette packed with Fortean themes. It’s got cryptozoology (ghostly-seeming apemen in the woods), sinister government secrets (Cold War bunkers and Men in Black) and a gateway to a parallel universe. It even name-drops the one-and-only Nick Redfern!"
So, what is Andrew's new book, The Mechanical Gorilla, all about? Here's a few more words from the man himself...
"...Once I’d started thinking about it, I realized I could merge in various other ideas that were at the back of my mind – Nick Redfern’s theories about the nature of British 'apeman' sightings, and my fascination with Cold War politics and secret underground installations. Mix in some convincing-sounding technobabble and an old-fashioned beginning-middle-end plot, and The Mechanical Gorilla was the result!"
And here's the link to Andrew's complete post, along with info on where you can purchase The Mechanical Gorilla.

Linda Godfrey Reviews Wildman

Linda Godfrey - author of Real Wolfmen, The Michigan Dogman, Hunting the American Werewolf, and many other titles - reviews my book, Wildman!, the subject of which is the "British Bigfoot."

Here's Linda'a review:

"Bigfoot in the British Isles? The idea of huge, hairy man-apes hiding out in the manor-dotted, bucolic countryside of the British Isles seems as likely at first blush as the queen switching out her Earl Grey for chugs of Red Bull. But Nick Redfern's new book, Wild Man! The Monstrous and Mysterious Saga of the British Bigfoot, (CFZ Press, 2012) makes an exhaustive and surprisingly compelling case that people have indeed been seeing anomalous, Bigfoot-like creatures from Shugborough to Derbyshire, perhaps for centuries!

"Redfern has to be one of the most prolific current writers on strange and cryptozoological topics -- he releases books faster than I can find time to review them. But I wanted to make sure that I got this one posted because it covers so many topics of interest to the worldwide cadre of Bigfoot-seekers. It has the additional advantage of being authored by a native of the British soil who possesses many area connections and much firsthand knowledge.

"Redfern starts by grounding the wild man topic in medieval history, harking back to the wodewose, or hairy, naked men seen throughout the forests of England since at least the early 14th century. But he notes that the wodewose was described as very close to human underneath all that fur.

"The nearly 300, large pages are packed with anecdotes in a timeframe that ranges from ancient to contemporary, but the book is about more than mysterious case studies. Redfern doesn't shy away from possible explanations for the anomalous creatures, venturing into possibilities such as misidentifications with primates released from the private zoos of eccentric collectors. He also notes the difficulty of explaining how large predators could subsist in the English countryside without detection and lays out a theory that they may be 'semi-physical' or products of some other process that is not presently known to science.

"Whatever these wild things are, Redfern's examination of them belongs on the bookshelf of anyone interested in anomalous creatures, especially those of the hairy hominoid kind. There may be more beasties hiding in that famed British mist than anyone has previously guessed."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Werewolves and Conflict

There's a new post from me at Mysterious Universe on a very weird topic: the connection between werewolves and warfare...

Here's how it starts:

"In May 2007, I penned an article for my There’s something in the Woods blog titled Do Werewolves Roam the Woods of England? It was a feature prompted by the fact that in that same year, 2007, numerous sightings of a werewolf-type beast were reported in the heart of the Cannock Chase – a large area of forest and heath in the English county of Staffordshire.

"But, of note, all the encounters on the Chase occurred within the confines of an old cemetery, and specifically a cemetery housing the remains of German soldiers and airmen who died in prisoner of war camps on British soil during the First and Second World Wars."

And here's the full article. I'd appreciate any thoughts on this "wolfman and warfare" topic!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Kithra and the Cornish Hare

For those who, like me, have a fascination for British folklore, the new article from Kithra will be of interest.
It starts as follows...
"Hares have had a mystical reputation around the world, and here in Cornwall there are myths surrounding the white hare.
"The most famous belief about white hares in Cornwall is that they are the spirits of girls who had been deserted by their lovers; as a result of which the girls died broken-hearted due to grief. Thus, with their spirit being unable to rest, they chose the form of a white hare in which to return and haunt their deserters. In this guise they are invisible to all except the one who jilted them, and they will haunt him until he finally dies.
"For both fishermen and miners hares were associated with witchcraft and deemed to be ill omens. Whether on board a ship or down a mine they were thought to bring bad luck and would be chased away by not only miners but also farmers who believed they were witches in an altered form."

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sid: Lest We Forget

As incredible as it may sound to those of us that remember it, it was 34 years ago today - February 2, 1979 - that punk rock icon, and Sex Pistols bass-guitarist, Sid Vicious croaked.

At the time, I was just 14 and Sid was a god. And, for me anyway, the Sex Pistols remain the greatest British band ever (don't even bother arguing, as it's just not worth it).

But, of course, Sid was not a god. Rather, he was a young kid who got hooked on the most disastrous drug of all: heroin.

Not only that, Sid couldn't play the bass to save his life. Having been brought into the Pistols after original bassist Glen Matlock left, Sid proved less than capable of handling the instrument.

Indeed, Sex Pistols' guitar-thug supremo Steve Jones played practically all of Sid's bass parts on the band's 1977 album, Never Mind the Bollocks. On top of that, Sid's amp was regularly turned down low when the band played live. Sometimes, it was even turned off, such was Sid's inept wankery as a bassist.

But Sid still became a punk rock legend. The reason? He looked the part: spiky black hair, black motorbike jacket, a permanent sneer (of the type that Billy Idol later perfected), and his bass guitar slung low around his waist.

Sid was like a punk rock James Dean in terms of image, but unlike Dean, Sid had no redeeming talent, aside from the look.

And then there was the heroin, quite possibly the most disastrous drug of all. It's one I recommend to absolutely no one - ever - and which is almost guaranteed to see the user end up in the gutter, or six foot under.

By the age of only 21, Sid was a (literally) jaundiced bag of bones, with collapsed veins in his arms (he was forced to inject into his feet, which is definitely a sign that the point of no return is looming), his "career" in tatters, and up on a murder charge for killing his junkie girlfriend, Nancy Spungen (which, by the way, he was almost certainly innocent of).

Sid never was convicted of Nancy's death - the reason: he soon joined her. The cause: yep, the heroin.

Today, it's strange to think that Sid would be 55. Later this year, he would have been 56. That's only 4 years short of 60. Do we really want to think of a 60-year-old Sid? No. Let's remember him as he was.

On the positive side, Sid really did become the face of late-1970s punk, and will be forever immortalized as a result.

On the downside, and in the cold light of day, Sid was someone who was just in the right place at the right time, and tried in vain to live up to an image that was part real but that was also part expected of him. He had no redeeming musical skills and died while barely into his 20s, chiefly as a result of his very real self-destructive tendencies.

But, he left his mark on the music industry, even without actually contributing much to it at all (the aforementioned image aside). And so, for that reason, and because he was a big part of my early teenage years, I raise my morning mug of tea to Sid, a young man who died a tragic death, and who will never grow old, but will always remain forever that spiky haired, sneering anti-hero.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Black Dog of the Phantom Kind

Over at New Page Books' blog, there's a hell hound on the loose...

A Monster Diary Q&A

Over at The Examiner there's a new Q&A with me about my most recent book, Monster Diary: On the Road in Search of Strange and Sinister Creatures, published by Anomalist Books.

The interview was done a couple of weeks ago with Jeffery Pritchett, and here's a taster of it, with an excerpt from the first question and answer...

You can find the complete interview right here.

1. Nick, in your book Monster Diary On the Road in Search of Strange and Sinister Creatures, in your introduction you get into the Cryptozoologist's stubborn view of all creatures being flesh and blood and renouncing the paranormal. Sasquatch comes to mind. I agree whole heartily! Could you get into this with us?

NR: Yeah, sure. Basically, there are many creatures within Cryptozoology that appear to be something less - or more - than mere flesh and blood, at least as we understand it. Granted, it's an aspect of the subject that many researchers ignore or dismiss. And even though these cases - rogue cases might be a good term to use - are certainly not in the majority, when you have reports, even if it's only in the several dozens or thereabouts, of Bigfoot seen at the same time and place as strange lights in the sky, or when the creature vanishes in a flash of light, or monster hunters begin to have weird synchronicities when they look for these things, I think we have to start looking into other realms. Most of these things are so elusive it almost defies belief for them to be regular animals. But, there's no doubt these things exist. It's just the nature of that existence I question, not whether they are real or not. Only a nut, an oaf - I like that word - or a weak and unsure mind in total denial would deny the tremendous body of data in support of their existence.