Friday, March 29, 2013

Uncle Monty RIP

It's sad to see that Richard Griffiths has died at the age of only 65. For many people, he will best be remembered from the Harry Potter movies.

For me, however, it was his masterful and hilarious portrayal of Uncle Monty in the classic 1987 film, Withnail and I that stands out most.

Creatures of Dorset

The Bigfoot Evidence blog has a new post titled Baby Bigfoot in England? The article includes a blurry photo of, well, something. What though, I'm not sure. A monkey maybe? Whatever it is, the legs seem pretty long.

But it's interesting that the location is the English county of Dorset. And why might that be interesting?

Well, because Dorset has a long history of reports of hair-covered wildmen that date back centuries.

In my book, Wildman! The Monstrous and Mysterious Saga of the British Bigfoot, here's what I have to say about the Dorset creatures:


"...Robert Newland and Mark North say that Dorset legends tell of Woodwoses inhabiting the woods of Yellowham Hill, which is located near to the town of Dorchester. The creatures had the regular habit of abducting young girls from the nearby villages, many of whom supposedly ended up pregnant during their time spent in the company of the Woodwose.

"One such incident befell a particular young girl, who, when questioned by magistrates about the nature and name of the father of her impending child, replied: ‘Please your worshipfuls, ‘twere the Wild Man of Yal’ham.’ None should doubt the possibility – perhaps even the probability that this may simply have been an ingenious ploy on the part of the girl to try and protect her unknown, very human lover from the scalding wrath of her irate father!

"Or,perhaps, on the other hand, Woodwose really did once inhabit the thick woods of Dorset. And, in view of the many and varied hairy man-beast encounters that have been reported from all across the British Isles for centuries, we might well ask this important question:

"Are the woods of Dorset still, to this very day, the domain of the Woodwose? If the Woodwose were truly Bigfoot-style entities, then they surely would not have been able to successfully mate with Homo sapiens.

"However, if they were merely human beings who, having reverted to wild lives and states, subsequently developed excessive amounts of body hair as a result of near-starvation, then getting the girls of the local villages pregnant would not have posed much of a problem at all. While the wild men may have looked somewhat unusual, their genetic make-up would have been perfectly compatible with the girls, because for all intents and purposes, they were of one and the same, precise type.

"Before we leave Dorset, let’s take note of a final few words on the nature of the county from Mark North: ‘Dorset is a strange place, and you can go into some of the old woods and it’s like being in a different world, where anything might happen.’ And, just maybe, that even includes encountering a wild man..."

So, yes, the area does have a rich history of reports of a somewhat Bigfoot-type nature. But, those reports are far more akin to classic wildman-type tales. Whatever the photos shows, in my opinion it's something else entirely.

Hopefully, more data may surface in time...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Circular Strangeness

My latest Mysterious Universe article deals with a near-magical place I know very well: Staffordshire's Castle Ring, a very old, historical site that sits upon the fringes of the Fortean-soaked Cannock Chase woods.

It's a place where Bigfoot-type beasts, ghosts, UFOs and more have been seen for decades.

Want to learn all about it? You can do exactly that right here...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Black Eyed Children at BOA

Black Eyed Children, by David Weatherly, is an excellent and creepy book for which I wrote the foreword.

And, I'm very pleased that David has been getting some very good publicity for the book, including at Binnall of America.

Indeed, Tim Binnall has done a big interview with David all about his book, the theories for what the BEC might be, and much more.

Here's Tim to tell you all about it:

"David Weatherly: The Black Eyed Children 2 Hours, 30 Minutes: BoA:Audio examines the bizarre and chilling Black Eyed Kids phenomenon which has recently emerged from the world of the paranormal as we welcome David Weatherly, author of the book The Black Eyed Children. Over the course of this lengthy conversation, we'll discuss how the Black Eyed Kids (BEKs) enigma first burst onto the scene of esoterica, some of the truly mindbending aspects associated with the phenomenon including strange smells, hypnotic effects, and potential psychic abilities, and we'll look at how BEKs compare and contrast with various other paranormal entities, like aliens, ghosts, demons, and MIBs. Additionally, we'll hear a number terrifying and troubling stories of BEK encounters. It is a comprehensive and compelling conversation which aims to pull the curtain back on the furtive and frightening Black Eyed Kids phenomenon with accomplished esoteric researcher David Weatherly."

And here's where you can find the complete interview. Don't miss this one! David (pictured below when we were both speaking at the Paradigm Symposium last year) is doing some excellent research into this weird and eerie field...

The Cannock Nessie - 10 Years on

From April 2003 onwards, hysterical, and pretty much near-unbelievable, rumors wildly spread around the English town of Cannock, Staffordshire to the effect that a giant, marauding crocodile was on the loose in the area. Yes, really!

Local police, the nation’s press, and even representatives of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) all wildly rushed to the scene of the action – which was the Roman View Pond (pictured above), just outside of Cannock, and only a 5-minute drive from the village of Pelsall where I grew up. Collectively, they valiantly sought to determine the full facts about what, amongst the local media and the populace, was fast becoming known as the ‘"Cannock Nessie."

As a result of all the burgeoning publicity that quickly surrounded the odd affair, a team from the Devonshire, England-based Centre for Fortean Zoology - which was led by CFZ Director Jon Downes - headed off from Devon and made their convoy-like way to the little, innocuous pond where all of the monstrous action was said to be taking place.

And, since Jon Downes (pictured below with me), arguably more than anyone else, was in a prime position to chronicle the facts and the expedition’s highlights, it is over to Jon that I now turn you. In Jon’s very own words and style:

"The affair started with an e-mail message from Nick Redfern. He may be living in Texas now; living proof that one can take the boy out of the West Midlands. But, the fact that he still keeps a finger on the pulse of the event’s of his hometown, prove that one may not be able to take the West Midlands out of the boy!  It was a story from the Wolverhampton Express and Star dated June 16, 2003, written by Faye Casey, and titled Mystery as 'croc' spotted at pool."

The article read as follows: "A Staffordshire community was today trying to unravel a pool monster mystery after reported sightings of a 7ft 'crocodile' type creature rising from the deep. Police officers, RSPCA inspectors and an alligator expert from Walsall were called to the pool in Roman View, Churchbridge, Cannock, on Saturday afternoon when reports of the sighting were first made.

"They searched the area and found nothing, coming to the conclusion that the creature must have been a fish or possibly a snapper turtle. But locals are not convinced and youngsters have designed their own “croc on the loose” posters to stick on lamp-posts. One man, who did not wish to named, said he called the emergency services because what he saw in the pool was not a large fish. He and members of his family had being feeding the swans when the creature emerged.

"'We were there looking at the two swans and their baby cygnets,” said the man. “And there was a commotion in the water and lots of turbulence. “It was far too big to be caused by a fish. As the creature went past I saw it had a flat head, a 5ft long body, and 2ft tail. It was not smooth and was moving in a snaking action - my initial reaction was it was a crocodile or alligator and so I called the police.”

"Linda Charteras, from nearby Cheslyn Hay, was also feeding the swans on Saturday afternoon. “I saw the creature first - a large pool of dirt came up. It looked as though it was after one of the cygnets. I saw its head and long nose and thought there was no way it was a fish,” she said.

"Natalie Baker, who lives on nearby Nuthurst Drive, said her children and their friends had been designing the posters. “There has got to be something in it for the police and RSPCA to come out.”

"But despite growing local interest in the creature - a group [was] out with their binoculars scanning the water last night - the RSPCA say it is highly unlikely the beast was an alligator or croc. Nick Brundrit, field chief inspector for the RSPCA, said the team kept up observations at the pool for around an hour and a half on Saturday, but there were no obvious signs of an alligator-type creature. He said the sighting was more likely to be a group of basking carp swimming together, or possibly a snapper turtle."

And so, the scene was now firmly set for the CFZ’s adventurous quest to begin in absolute earnest. Once again, over to Jon Downes:

"Following on from the excellent preliminary fieldwork carried out by Mark Martin, the main CFZ expedition finally reached Cannock in the early afternoon of 21st July. After a rendezvous at our digs, the Exeter contingent and Mark Martin drove in convoy to the pond at the end of Roman View. No matter how many times one carries out an expedition like this to finally see the location of a series of mystery animal reports for the first time. The pond where the crocodile had been reported was surprisingly wild looking; an oasis of sanity in an increasingly desolate and unattractive West Midlands Environment.

"Especially considering that on the far side of the pond from where we set up our temporary base camp, a new section of the M6 was under construction. And with what looked as if it had once been virgin woodland on the hillside opposite had been flattened, in order to build a featureless and rather nasty out of town shopping centre, the ground immediately surrounding the pond looked even more inviting.

"A wide range of butterflies and other flying insects fluttered, hovered, and buzzed their way around the thick vegetation, which was about 800 yards long and 300 yards across and which was fringed by reeds and bull-rushes. A contemplative-looking Heron sneered down at us from a large bush at one end of the pond, and - indeed - most of the weekend there gazing down at us with a particularly supercilious manner. The pond was also home to a pair of swans and their three cygnets who cruised up and down the water like majestic galleons were and totally ignored us for the duration of our stay.

"From CFZ HQ in Exeter came me, Richard Freeman (who had only been back in the country for four days after his first expedition to Sumatra), Graham Inglis, John Fuller, and Nigel Wright (on his first CFZ expedition for some years). We were joined by the aforementioned Mark Martin, Peter Channon (from the Exeter Strange Phenomena group), Chris Mullins (from Beastwatch UK), Neil Goodwin (from Mercury Newspapers), and Wilf Wharton (the CFZ Wiltshire representative who was soon to be immigrating to the Antipodes).

"Much to my amazement, everybody turned up roughly on time, and we gave three short briefings: one from me, giving a general overview of the events; one from Mark who provided additional background data; and the third from Richard, who cautioned on the do’s and don’ts of handling crocodiles.

"I split the available personnel into three field groups. There was the Boat-Team (Mark and Graham); The Away-Team (Richard, Wilf, Chris, Neil and Peter); and the Shore-Team (me, John and Nigel). The initial idea was that the Boat-Team would spend Monday and Tuesday carrying out intensive sonar sweeps of the lake, with the intention of determining the depth any large fish or errant crocodilians. In the meantime, the Shore-Team would scour the shoreline in search of signs of a large beast and also to determine the entry and exit points of the pond.

"Even as John, Graham and Mark struggled to get our trusty dinghy, The Waterhorse (named after Loch Ness Monster-hunter Tim Dinsdale’s boat), inflated and onto the water, the first set of eyewitnesses arrived. They were a motley gaggle of teenage boys who came up to us; and in thick Brummie accents asked: 'whether you’re here for the crocodoile, loike?' We replied in the affirmative, and they told us that they had also had an encounter with a scaly creature in Roman View Pond. Richard quickly interviewed them."

So, with that last point in mind, before we return to the words of the good Mr. Downes, I have related below the entire interview between Richard Freeman (below) and the teenage boys:

RICHARD FREEMAN: "I gather that you've actually seen this animal and fed it? Could you please tell us exactly what happened?"

LADS: "We came down at just after the RSPCA had been here. We saw what looked like the animal in the water; and so Elliot went and got some chicken and we lobbed it into the water to feed it. Some of it went too far away. But then we threw one-piece and it landed just next to it and there was a massive splash and we could see both the head and the tail. We actually thought that we had seen two of the animals in the water but then remembered there is at least one massive pike in here and that the other animal was a fish."

RICHARD FREEMAN: "And what did this animal look like?"

LADS: "It was dark and about five-feet-long including the tail."

RICHARD FREEMAN: "Did you see scales or ridges on the tail, or anything like that?"

LADS: "We didn’t see its tail properly but there did seem to be a few spikes."

RICHARD FREEMAN: "And have you seen the animal since?"

LADS: "No. We stopped coming down here after the TV people had been. We have been told to keep away from the pond by some of the local residents." (Note from Jon Downes: "There then followed an amusing teenage rant about one of the women whose house overlooks the pond and whom the gang of lads seem to cordially dislike, before Richard managed to bring the conversation back on course.")

RICHARD FREEMAN: "Do you know anybody else who has claimed to have seen it?"

LADS: "Yeah, a couple of our friends. One of our friends had been out walking her dog and spotted it. This was the first time that it was seen. Also, a lot of kids from our school have been bunking off at lunchtimes it and coming down here. Some of them say that they have seen it. One day, we came down and there were about fifty kids sitting on the bank."

RICHARD FREEMAN: "Do you know whether it has ever been seen on land?"

LADS: "Not to our knowledge. No."

RICHARD FREEMAN: "Does anybody - not necessarily you - have any ideas about where it might have come from?"

LADS: "We were told that it might have been a pet that got too big and was thrown out."

RICHARD FREEMAN: "There seem to be a lot of little streams and pipes which come in and out of the pond. Do you have any idea where they go to?"

LADS: "Not really."

RICHARD FREEMAN: "Prior to this there has not been anything odd reported in this lake before?"

LADS: "I don't think so. I seem to remember that there was some speculation about something in this pond a few years ago but can’t remember the details."

And with the interview complete, let us once again return to the words of Jon Downes:

"The group of teenagers went about their business, and we went about ours. However, at least at first some of the other local residents were not as friendly. From the moment we arrived the net curtains began to twitch, and soon a procession of local residents walked past us - nonchalantly - to find out what we were doing. Nigel spent much of his time in conversation with these people, explaining the details of our mission and reassuring them that we were perfectly harmless.

"There was one slight problem however. Despite having made every effort to contact the owners of the pond (we had even instituted a search with Her Majesty’s Land Registry), we had been unable to find them. After we had been at the pond for less than an hour, one irate local who claimed to be a friend of the owner approached us in a combative and pugnacious manner. For a brief few moments if looked at us if we were going to be embroiled in an unpleasant scene. However, John Fuller and I managed to calm the situation down, and the man disappeared, reasonably mollified.

"Finally we managed to get the boat onto the water and the away team was dispatched to the far side of the pond. Then pay-dirt! Nigel, by luck more than by judgment, ran into the lady whose family had been renting the property for 38 years. She could not have been more helpful; and despite the fact that we were trespassing on her property, she granted us permission in writing to carry out whatever investigations we felt were necessary.

"At about 6.15, after a series of false alarms, Mark Martin - in the boat - had a sighting of what appeared to be the 18-inch long dark blackish green head of a large animal. It was not a positive sighting of a crocodile; but it was the best that we had managed to achieve. At the same time, the away team found an area of flattened reeds, which had looked as if a large animal had made itself comfortable; after emerging from the waters of the pond. Unlike other such areas around the shores of the pond, there were no downy feathers from one of the swans; and as the area of flattened vegetation was too big for any known mammal species from the area, it seemed quite possible that this had been the resting place of our mystery crocodilian.

"As soon as we had permission to survey the pond and its surroundings, and we were now no longer conducting a covert operation, we laid a series of navigation lines across two sections of the lake. We took a series of sonar readings to determine the depth of the lake along the lines and found to our surprise the depth of the lake seemed to change by the minute. The next day we found that the lake was fed by a series of sluice-gates from connective channels which crisscross the entire area. We discovered that the bottom of the lake was mostly fairly thick silt, and found that the influx of water from the north end was causing waves in the silt itself, which meant that the depth of the lake fluctuated in some places from between 2.5 and 4.5 feet. Then in the early evening, John Mizzen, one of the original witnesses who had been interviewed by Mark Martin, turned up."

Yet again, we turn the reins over to Richard Freeman:

RICHARD FREEMAN: "Basically, can you recount the story from scratch?"

JOHN MIZZEN: "We were over on the other side of the pond feeding swans, when about five feet from the water’s edge my daughter-in-law was looking down this way while I was looking at the lake. She saw the - what ever it was - and said: 'That's never a fish.' It then swam along the water’s edge, where I reckon that the water is no more than two-feet deep and it was about five-feet-long and that's including the tail. When it got five or ten feet away from us, it came up and broke the surface. Its head was flat, as was its jaw and its nose, and it was dark greenish black in colour and about eighteen-inches wide. The tail had a scaly appearance, and then it went underneath the water and we just lost contact with it. It had been on the surface for about three or four seconds and in that time it covered about fifteen to twenty feet."

RICHARD FREEMAN: "On its head did you notice anything about the eyes?"

JOHN MIZZEN: "I didn't see anything of that; not the eyes sticking out of their head or the water or anything. I only saw it from behind and the surrounding parts to its eyes were not visible as far as I could tell."

Jon Downes once more picks up the story: "Later that afternoon at Richard spoke to a number of other elderly gentlemen who requested anonymity. One of them told us that there had been a series of incidents at a slaughterhouse which was on the shores of one of the other ponds connected to Roman View Pond by a watercourse. Apparently this establishment - which dealt predominantly with the dispatching of elderly and ill horses - supplied meat to local zoos. Some of the meat was hung in a concrete pit in order to prepare it for consumption by zoo animals. Whilst it was hanging something had taken enormous bites out of the carcasses.

"On another occasion a horse was attacked. Apparently, in the vicinity there is a training-stable, at which horses learn to draw old-fashioned hearses. One of the ways that they trained these animals to walk slowly is to swim them in another of the local ponds, which is connected by a watercourse to Roman View Pond itself. On one occasion whilst one of these horses was swimming, it was attacked by something. When they got it out on to the bank it had a massive bite on one of the back legs. It was eight-to-ten-inches deep and went right down to the bone. The horse was immediately taken to the knackers-yard and shot.

"By this time it was beginning to get quite late in the evening, and so the team then decamped to the local pub, by way of one of the most unpleasant tasting fish suppers that it has been my misfortune to eat. Later in the evening, as it was approaching dusk, we returned to the pond and spent three hours searching the surface of the pond with three one-and-a-half-million candle power spotlights. The Away-Team, with head-torches strapped on, scoured the bank, and out in the middle of the lake Mark and Graham sat patiently in the boat waiting for a scaly monster to surface. Needless to say all these searches were fruitless and at about one in the morning we packed up for the night.

"The next day the CFZ posse was all up and about relatively early. After an excellent breakfast we arrived at the lake soon after 10 o’clock in the morning. Within twenty minutes everybody else had joined us (except for Wilf, who had been forced by the pressure of work to drive down to the south at the end of the previous night’s escapades).

"In many ways the second day was a slight disappointment after the adventures of the first. It seemed like that. Although, when you look back, it’s now easy to see that we achieved even more. However, at the time it didn't feel like it. Whereas on the first day we had been rushing about, and we had even logged a sighting, much of the second day was spent hanging about, waiting for something to happen.

"The boat party continued their sonar sweeps of the lake, while the shore party continued their explorations of the bank in search of footprints and signs of crocodilians. Sadly, no such signs were found. Indeed, although on the previous day, we had managed to log one pretty good sighting by Mark Martin, today we had none at all. However, this did not mean that the day was a complete waste of time.

"In the original newspaper report, a local lady called Natalie Baker was quoted as saying that her children and their friends had been so excited by the media activity following the initial crocodile sightings that they had spent some time making coloured posters of the animal as part of a school project.

"Now, Nigel has been working with and for me and nearly seven years now, and over the years I have asked him to do some extraordinary things for me. I have never before said to him: 'Dude, I want you to find me a little girl who draws pictures of crocodiles.' But I did, and - not at all to my surprise; because over the years I have known him I have come to rely on his powers of deduction a great deal - he not only found me the little girl, but managed to persuade her to give me one of the aforesaid posters. Flushed with success after that particular triumph, Nigel and I went off in order to try and solve another mystery, which - we felt - was likely to have a pivotal importance in solving the case of the Cannock crocodile once and for all.

"Richard and I have been members of what I like to call the 'UK Animal Mafia' for some years. This is a weird sort of freemasonry that consists of people on the fringes of the pet trade, the zoo trade, and the professional zoology trade. These people - even when it would seem that they have completely opposing agendas - often co-operate to a surprising extent. One of the foremost members of the Zoo Mafia in the Midlands had warned us about the activities of a particularly unscrupulous reptile dealer who was – allegedly, at least - operating in the Cannock area. Nigel and I left the shore party and the boat party doing its own respective things and went undercover.

"It was surprisingly easy to track this fellow down. He had left a trail of debts a mile long; and whenever we went we couldn't find anybody who would say a good word about him. We found the shop where he had once operated a business, which - according to one of our informants - had been closed down on animal welfare grounds.

"We spoke to his erstwhile landlord and found that when he closed he had left large sums of money owing. We found that he had then set up business under another name in another part of town, but this too had gone the way of all flesh. After two failed businesses, we discovered that the person question had most recently been sighted working part-time for a pizza delivery company, and selling the remnants of his stock through small ads in the local paper.

"Although we cannot prove it, we were convinced that this discovery had essentially solved the provenance of the Cannock crocodile. It was obvious that somebody had been dumping exotic reptiles in the district. Only a couple of days before we arrived, the Wolverhampton Express and Star had carried a story about a large common snapping-turtle which had been captured in a local brook.

"The newspaper report claimed that the turtle - named “Lucky” - by the RSPCA inspector who captured him could have been over 20 years old and had “probably lived most of his life in the wild”, having inspected the brook in question, and furthermore knowing that when snapping turtles achieve the size of the specimen fished out of this tiny brook in Staffordshire they are very sedentary creatures, who on the whole sit on the bottom of a stream waiting for something to swim into the open mouths, I feel it is far more likely that 'Lucky' was dumped into the stream in question within the last few weeks.

“Feeling rather pleased with ourselves, for having completed what we regarded as a rather tidy piece of detective work, we returned to the lake. We discovered that in our absence the CFZ operatives whom we had left behind had discovered some useful data about the age of the lake. Apparently, it had begun life as a pit from which locals dug coal. When the coal petered out, in the mid-1930s, it had begun to fill with water. However, it was a long and slow process, and it wasn't until after the war that the water was deep enough to swim in.

"We also spoke to one of the head-honchos of the local angling society and we discovered that although there were some very big carp in the pond, the largest pike that anyone had managed to catch was only about 9lb in weight. However, according to the local water bailiff there was at least one massive pike weighing in excess of 23lb and probably more than three-and-a-half or four-feet in length.

"The Shore-Team had also managed to identify a number of other small ponds in the area and had found of that most of these were interconnected - either by culverts or by open-water courses. One of the strangest things that we discovered was that somebody had been dumping koi-carp into several of these ponds.

"As some of you may know, I used to write a column for Koi Carp magazine; and so with these very limited credentials Nigel, Richard, John and I paid a visit to a small koi-farm about half-a-mile away. They too had heard the stories about koi-carp - some of them quite sizeable and worth quite a lot of money - being dumped into these local ponds. But there they were completely unable to let us know who had been dumping them and why.

"The next day, we found ourselves in the middle of Cannock Chase, and deep in conversation with the local wildlife-officers who told us that koi had also been turning up in isolated ponds across Cannock Chase, as well. It seems as if there is some kind of strange, Piscine Johnny Appleseed at work, doing his best to stock of the waterways of the West Midlands with these large, ornamental fish.

"Back at the pond we were ready to do a reconstruction of the original sighting by John Mizzen, Linda Charteris and her children. Some time before, we had instituted the practice of performing reconstructions of sightings filmed from two or three different angles; much in the manner of the BBC television programme Crimewatch.

"We have found that using these methods is an invaluable tool in field investigations; and although we had already interviewed both John and Linda in some depth - as had Mark right at the beginning of the investigation - we decided to carry out one of these reconstructions are at the pond. We filmed it from three angles; Neil on one side, Mark on the other and Graham filming from the boat. It is always interesting carrying out up one of our Crimewatch reconstructions and we have never yet done one where we didn't learn something new.

"John Mizzen is probably one of the most professional and accurate eyewitnesses that it has ever been my pleasure and privilege to work with. During our Crimewatch reconstruction we discovered that his estimates of the distance that the crocodile had been from the shore and our measured distance differed by only a few inches.

"After the Crimewatch reconstructions, we slowly began to break camp. John and Neil lit a barbecue, which had been donated to us by Chris Mullins, and soon the fragrant smell of slowly charring burgers drifted over the evening wind. Someone produced the remains of a bottle of Scotch, and Nigel appeared from Sainsbury’s with two dozen bottles of beer. The CFZ drank, ate, and watched the sun go down. Neil disappeared back to Liverpool, and the rest of us went down the pub.

"Tomorrow was another day; but, unfortunately we had not caught a crocodile. From the eye-witness descriptions, Richard and I are fairly convinced that we are talking about a spectacled caiman of between three and five-feet in length. Sadly - unless it is very lucky, and somebody manages to fish it out of one of the connecting streams - it is doomed to a slow and ignominious death as soon the first chills herald the advent of the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. And all because of some stupid selfish Bastard who wanted an exotic pet! C`est la vie; unfortunately."

And there ends Jon's story and, unfortunately and almost certainly, the life of the "Cannock Nessie." Indeed, as the heat of summer gave way to the cold of autumn, the curious, out of place beast was never seen again. Perhaps, today, ten years on, its bones still litter the bed of the old Roman View Pond...

An Alien Anniversary?

Lest we forget, a ufological 20th anniversary will be celebrated (or ignored!) in just a few days from now. It's one that quickly caught the attention of the British Ministry of Defense, and, ultimately, the UFO research community and the press. It's also a case that provoked a wealth of controversy regarding what did or did not occur on that fateful night in darkest England...

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Origins of a Monster

"Many people have heard of the legendary Abominable Snowman or Yeti. It’s the Himalayan equivalent of the United States’ famous Bigfoot. But not so many, perhaps, know of the origins of the beastly man-monster of the snowy peaks. It’s a reportedly diabolical denizen of the huge Himalayas - a mountain range in Nepal, Tibet that is home to the 29,000-foot-high Mt. Everest. The Yeti is perceived, for all intents and purposes and depending on whom you care to ask, as a giant ape of an unclassified nature, or a surviving example of Gigantopithecus, a huge, gorilla-like animal long thought to be extinct. Others, of a far more skeptical mind, might very well say it’s merely a mixture of hoaxing, folklore, misidentification, and mythology."

That's how I begin my new Lair of the Beasts article for on the origins of the Yeti...

Texan Terrors on the Loose...

"One of the many things that I was pleased to find when I moved to Texas to live twelve years ago, is that the Lone Star State has a rich history of accounts of werewolf-type beasts and mysteriously over-sized wolves on the loose. For example, in 1845, at the Devil’s River near Del Rio, south-west Texas, a boy living at San Felipe Springs reported seeing several very large wolves and a creature, with long hair covering its features and that looked very much like a young girl, attacking a herd of goats.

"A hunt was quickly launched by frightened locals, and on the third day the girl was sighted again and cornered in a canyon. She was not alone, however. Rather, she was with a pack of wolves; one of which was shot after it attacked the hunters. The girl was captured and taken to a nearby ranch, where she was quickly locked within the confines of a seemingly secure room. That was not the end of the story, however."

The above words are how I start my latest Mysterious Universe article that deals with sightings of wolfmen, werewolves, over-sized wolves and much more in the fine state of Texas.

As for the entire article, here it is...

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Texas Paranormal Unity Fest

If you happen to be in Waxahachie, Texas tomorrow, why not come along to the Texas Paranormal Unity Fest?

Ken Gerhard will be speaking on his forthcoming title, Encounters with Flying Humanoids, Lyle Blackburn on his book, The Beast of Boggy Creek, and me on The Pyramids and the Pentagon.

Here's where you can find out all about it...

Faking a Crashed UFO

A crashed UFO in New Mexico, dead extraterrestrials, alien autopsies, and a secret group of scientists: no, we're not talking about Roswell, July 1947. Although you might be forgiven for thinking we are.

Nope. Instead, we're talking about an intriguing novel and its equally intriguing author. Moreover, it's a story that was unleashed on the world less than a year after Roswell, but which contains certain ingredients that eerily parallel what was to come in the ufological field decades later.

The above - and much more - can all be found in my new Mysterious Universe post...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kent Urban Legends: New Book

Good mate Neil Arnold has a new book out right now. Its title: Kent Urban Legends: The Phantom Hitch-Hiker and Other Stories.

And here's the blurb from the publisher:

"What happens if you dance naked around the Devil's Bush in Pluckley, Kent's most haunted village? Do 'big cats' roam the local woods? Does the Devil appear if you manage to count the 'countless stones' at Aylesford? Is Bloody Mary more than just a childhood rumour? Does a phantom hitchhiker haunt the dark lanes of Blue Bell Hill?

"KENT URBAN LEGENDS is a new book by full-time monster hunter and folklorist Neil Arnold, a strange, quirky and downright weird collection of tales reputedly true yet never proven, passed down through generations and best told around a flickering campfire.

"Chinese whispers, playground murmurs, Internet rumours, and friend of a friend tales are the most potent in that they can embed themselves into a local community despite the fact such yarns are not true. Stories can spread like wildfire despite lacking any detail, causing a snowball effect that can affect an entire village, town or city.

"KENT URBAN LEGENDS looks at a number of stories not just related to the county of Kent, but legends which have spread across the world, varying depending on the storyteller. Have you heard the one about the famous footballer who paid the mortgage of a couple who had booked their wedding on the same day as his?

"Have you heard about the girl whose hair was so dirty that all manner of creepy crawlies took up residence and eventually burrowed into her brain? And what about the woman who chomped down on her Chinese takeaway only to find the remains of some animal? These type of stories are known the world over, and you can guarantee that there's always someone you know who knows someone else this has happened to.

"Urban legends come in all shapes and sizes, but for the most part they are tales of horror - confined to mist-enshrouded lanes and eerie woods, but with KENT URBAN LEGENDS you'll also find out what happens if you play a heavy metal record backwards, or if some horror movies are cursed. You'll also find out if the Chelsea Smilers really did slash the mouths of school children in the 1980s, and what really happened to the woman who had a Killer In The Backseat of her car.

"Whilst tales of the Bunnyman, The Hook, and The Babysitter & The Man Upstairs may seem to have their origins in the USA, Neil proves that there's more to these scare stories than meets the eye, and delves into similar tales from Kent often involving lone female motorists and cavorting couples brave enough to venture into the night.

"From video nasties, to phantom viruses, from chain letters, to tales of monstrous bogeymen and out of place animals, KENT URBAN LEGENDS is one book you won't want to read before camping, driving, babysitting, or eating a meal! Be warned...the bogeyman is real after all!

"KENT URBAN LEGENDS, with a foreword by Janet Bord (Alien Animals), is an essential book to be read by candlelight! Available from Amazon and all good bookshops, priced £9.99."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The MIB Get Effed Up

Last night I was on EffedUpStories radio (is there a better name for a radio show? Probably not!).

The subject: my book, The Real Men in Black.

You can find the show here as a podcast.

And here at YouTube.

A lot of ground was covered, such as (a) the case of Albert Bender; (b) the parallels between the MIB and vampires; (c) MIB and connections with Ouija boards; (d) the Mothman saga of Point Pleasant, West Virginia; (e) the creepy and "dead"-looking appearance of the MIB; and (f) a great deal more of a sinister and weird nature...


Sci-Fi or Insider Info?

When people with government, military and intelligence ties write sci-fi novels that are UFO-themed, are they just writing novels, or might they actually be revealing a few insider secrets, in the form of "faction"?

That's the question asked in my latest Mysterious Universe article...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stalking the Herd

I'd say for anyone interested in UFOs, Forteana, and conspiracy-theories, Chris O'Brien's next book - Stalking the Herd, due out later this year - will be essential reading.

Here's the blurb from the publisher on the book:

COMING THIS FALL: Stalking the Herd
The Cattle Mutilation phenomenon is an on-going mystery that has endured for almost 50 years, and no definitive book has been written about this subject in over 30 years. What have we learned, if anything...—countless reports later? Who or what is behind the death and disfigurement of livestock reported as mutilated around the globe?

Stalking the Herd is the first objective, in-depth examination and analysis of this controversial, multi-layered mystery and this book scrutinizes the various explanations that have been proposed over the years. Are the skeptics correct? Are these deaths only due to predators and scavengers? Or is the military—government somehow involved monitoring “mad-cow”? Is it ritual “cultists” as the evidence would suggest? Or even ETs as some have proposed? Regardless of who is responsible, what are the motivations behind perpetrating the greatest unsolved serial crime spree of all time?

Stalking the Herd addresses these questions in-depth and also offers an objective look at the history of our incestuous, venerated relationship with cattle; the first domesticated livestock. Is there a connection between these ritualistic cattle deaths and humankind’s ancient practice of animal sacrifice? Why are there no Brahman cattle mutilations in India where cattle are revered to this day? Are aliens gathering genetic material for unknown purposes? What about the thousands of pound of scientific forensic evidence? Is it Aliens and do we have a need to know?

Christopher O’Brien has devoted 20 years investigating and researching hundreds of these unexplained livestock deaths and, if real, assessing the potential implications for humanity. With the help of a handful of unsung “mutologist” proto-scientific pioneers, O’Brien has synthesized an insightful explanation that may help explain this puzzling mystery— a mystery that may have profound implications for our rapidly-growing beef-eating culture.

Betty, Barney and the Military

Over at Mysterious Universe there's a new article from me that looks into one aspect of the famous Betty and Barney Hill "alien abduction" case that often gets overlooked.

What that might be? The interest shown in the case by the military...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Saturday and Bigfoot

So, what did I do Saturday? Well, I hung out at the Texas Bigfoot Conference in Fort Worth. Here's a couple of shots - one of me with Lyle Blackburn (the author of The Beast of Boggy Creek) and the other with Josh Gates of Destination Truth. It was a cool day and a good time was had by all!

Top 5 Movie Monsters

There's a new Lair of the Beasts post from me at, in which I talk about my top 5 movie monsters. Here's how it starts...

"'So, what are your favorite monster movies?' That was a question put to me in January of this year, when I was lecturing on the mystery of Bigfoot at the Austin, Texas-based Museum of the Weird. Well, first off, I can tell you which ones aren’t my favorites.

"You know the ones I mean: I’m talking about those cheaply-made, predictable productions filled with awful special-effects and over-the-hill actors who have gone to seed and can’t get work on anything else. They’re on the TV all the time and I make sure I avoid each and every one of them like the plague. Why do these production-companies even bother?

"But, with that said, I most certainly do have some firm favorites when it comes to Hollywood’s monsters. In no particular order (since it depends on the mood I’m in when I’m watching them), here’s my top 5."

And here they are...

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Mountain of Alien Secrets?

There's a new article from me at Mysterious Universe which takes a trip into the past, and the early years of flying saucers. It also delves into tales of a certain, alleged, alien base.

Here's how it starts...

"In his 1997 book Remote Viewers, Jim Schnabel told the story of the U.S. Intelligence community’s involvement in the controversial issue of psychic spying that largely began in the early-to-mid 1970s. Commenting on the skills of a talented remote-viewer in relation to matters of a UFO nature, one Pat Price, Schnabel noted Price was of the opinion that '…Alaska’s Mount Hayes, the jewel of a glacial range northeast of Anchorage, housed one of the aliens’ largest bases.'

"According to Pat Price, the aliens that lived deep inside Mount Hayes were very human looking, differing only in their heart, lungs, blood, and eyes. Ominously, he added that the aliens use 'thought transfer for motor control of us.' Price added: 'The site has also been responsible for strange activity and malfunction of U.S. and Soviet space objects.'"

And here's the rest of it...

Ken Gerhard's Flying Humanoids

Although it's not available until September, it's already up on Amazon, so I figured I'd alert you now, so you'll know about it.

And what might "it" be?

Ken Gerhard's much-awaited new book, Encounters with Flying Humanoids.

Owlman, Mothman, the Houston Batman and many more - they are all in there.

Don't miss this one if the weirder side of Cryptozoology is your thing!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Werewolves in Argentina

"Kyle Van Helsing" has a new post at his The Demon Hunter's Compendium blog, which digs very deep into the world of a strange and ominous beast of werewolf-style proportions known as the Lobizon.

KVH starts like this...

"When someone mentions the word werewolf, images of a full moon, silver bullets, and hairy man-beasts with a hunger for human flesh come to mind. Although not every culture shares that image, shapeshifting beasts can be found all over the world in differing forms. In the South American country of Argentina, a creature called El Lobizon (sometimes known as the Lobison) is spoken of in hushed whispers. The word lobizon itself means 'sons of the wolves.' While most of modern society refuses to believe in the existence of werewolves and other such creatures of the night, the terror that this beast holds over the people of Argentina is very real.

"The Lobizon as the people of South America know it (the beast is also known and reported in Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil) is a bit different from the Western notion of the Werewolf. According to legend, the Lobizon is a type of Werewolf (some say that the beast is a weredog or a werefox of some kind) that is most often described as being quadrupedal (that is, walking on four legs), but is occasionally seen walking on it’s hind legs."

And here's the complete article...


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Macdui Monster: In Fiction

The Prince of Earth is the title of a new novel from Mike Robinson (also the author of Skunk Ape Semester) that deals with the infamous Scottish beast of Ben Macdui, or as some maintain, a "Scottish Bigfoot."

Here's where you can find out all about the book, and here's the blurb from the publisher, Curiosity Quills Press:

"It had come back. It had come back and it was stronger. It's been twenty years. Not again. Not now. Not anytime. In 1988, young American traveler Quincy Redding is trekking across the misty terrain of the Scottish Highlands. She is destined for the infamous peak Ben MacDui, the summit of which soon finds her inexplicably debilitated and at the mercy of a malevolent entity. The book spans twenty years, alternately following Quincy in her 1988 ordeal in Scotland as well as Quincy in 2008, when, as an adult, she begins experiencing abnormalities that threaten her family and her life - phenomena that may be related to what happened all those years ago. As both older and younger Quincy learn more of their situation, and as their worlds further entwine, she becomes increasingly uncertain of the perceived temporality or reality of each period."

Check out this You Tube production on the book too:

The Paranormal Podcast

You can find a new interview with me - on the subject of my Monster Diary book - at Jim Harold's Paranormal Podcast. But, that's not all: the link will also take you to a new interview with Paul Kimball, of Red Star Films and the author of The Other Side of Truth.

Here's the link...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fort, Fiction, Fact

Andrew May has a new post up at his Forteana Blog which begins...

"At the end of February, Nick Redfern wrote a blog post about The Lurker at the Threshold – a novel that is purportedly by 'H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth', although it’s generally considered to be almost pure Derleth, worked up from just a brief fragment by Lovecraft that was discovered after his death. Like Agatha Christie’s N or M, which I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, The Lurker at the Threshold is a book I’d had sitting unread on the shelf for years. I was finally prompted to read it by Nick’s very positive words about it... and particularly because he mentioned that it 'cites the work and books of Charles Fort.'"

And, in the same way that my article focused on matters of a fact vs. fiction nature when it came to Derleth, so Andrew has done likewise with Fort...

Death Rays: Fact & Fiction

"On the silver screen, and in the printed pages, it has felled death-dealing aliens and marauding robots, and has even destroyed worlds and entire galaxies. It is easily the most awesome weapon of mass destruction, and is one of the most recognizable motifs within the annals of sci-fi. It is the death-ray. One of the earliest examples of the usage of such a weapon, in the form of what was described as a 'Heat-Ray' device, appeared in H.G. Wells’ novel of Martian invasion: The War of the Worlds. As a result of the overwhelming popularity and success of Wells’ novel, many early sci-fi authors picked up on his highly original premise, and the deadly ray technology was often graphically shown in pulp magazines of the 1940s and 1950s as one accompanied by giant electric arcs, lightning-style flashes, and thunder-like crashes and roars.

"With the advent of the laser in 1960 and its accompanying famous pencil-thin red light, however, the death-ray was quickly modified within sci-fi (partly as a result of the usage of such a device in the 1960s movie version of Ian Fleming’s James Bond story Goldfinger) and gained a new and more popular relation: the ray gun, perhaps most universally recognized in the form of the Phaser from Star Trek. Indeed, the American Heritage Dictionary defines a ray gun as: 'A gun that fires a ray of energy, especially as depicted as a destructive weapon in science fiction.'"

The above amounts to the opening paragraphs of my latest Mysterious Universe post which looks at the matter of "death ray"-based weapons in fact and fiction, and which also delves into the life and work of Albert Einstein.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Bigfoot and Food: What Food?


Over at, there's a new Lair of the Beasts article from me that focuses on one aspect of the Bigfoot mystery that has always intrigued me - the matter of what it eats...

Here's how the article begins:

"Many researchers of the Bigfoot phenomenon take the view that the hairy, man-like beasts are some form of unknown ape. Or, they suggest that the creatures may represent a surviving, relic population of the presumed long-extinct, ancient ape known as Gigantopithecus, I, however, do not. Rather, I take the stance that Bigfoot is stranger than either of the above scenarios; in fact, much stranger. Indeed, it’s fair to say I think Bigfoot is a beast of paranormal – rather than flesh and blood – origins. There’s a good reason I say that. It has to do with Bigfoot’s eating habits. Or, more correctly, it’s lack of eating habits."

And here's where you can find the complete post, and where those who believe Bigfoot is a flesh-and-blood animal, and nothing else, can comment, vent their fury at my words, wave their arms, and burn me in effigy. Pissing people off is not a bad way to start a Saturday.

Bigfoot's Dinner - Where Is It Exactly?

My new Lair of the Beasts article at focuses on an area of Bigfoot research that I have always found problematic - it's eating habits.

It starts like this...

"Many researchers of the Bigfoot phenomenon take the view that the hairy, man-like beasts are some form of unknown ape. Or, they suggest that the creatures may represent a surviving, relic population of the presumed long-extinct, ancient ape known as Gigantopithecus, I, however, do not.

Rather, I take the stance that Bigfoot is stranger than either of the above scenarios; in fact, much stranger. Indeed, it’s fair to say I think Bigfoot is a beast of paranormal – rather than flesh and blood – origins. There’s a good reason I say that. It has to do with Bigfoot’s eating habits. Or, more correctly, it’s lack of eating habits."

Here's where you can find the complete article, and where the flesh-and-blood brigade can make a comment, scream loudly, and wave their hands in irate fashion. Pissing people off on a Saturday morning is a good way to start the day.

The CFZ Yearbook: 2013

Jon Downes, of the Center for Fortean Zoology, has just published the latest edition of its annual title, The CFZ Yearbook.

As always, the 260-page book is packed with all manner of cryptozoological material. And here, from Jon, is a list of the contents:

More Cryptozoology: A listing of  certain animals unrecognised by science or of a paranormal nature by Ronan Coghlan
Snow Leopard: Spirit of the Mountains by Raheel Mughal
The man-eating plant of ye olde England by Glen Vaudrey
Possible sighting of unknown ape species, Tibet 2009 Jonathan Jacobs, plus in-depth analysis of the photograph
British Snake Catchers and Eccentrics by Richard Muirhead
The Amazing Animals of Pakistan by Raheel Mughal
The Mpisimbi: An undiscovered but now extinct King Cheetah strain in East Africa by Dr Karl Shuker
The ‘Lion’ Of Essex And Other British Big Cat Scares by Neil Arnold
Le Gevaudan: The Man behind the Monster by Paul Williams
2012: A Year in the Life of the Centre for Fortean Zoology: CFZ Australia 2012 Report by Rebecca Lang and Mike Williams
CFZ Canada 2012 by Robin Bellamy
Bigfoot Forums Annual Report
CFZ Annual Report by Jon Downes

It should be up on Amazon anytime now, and when it is, I'll let you know.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The OTHER alien autopsy films...

Remember the notorious alien autopsy film?

Well, what about the OTHER alien autopsy films?

They are the subject of my latest Mysterious Universe post, which you can find here, and which begins with the following, opening paragraphs...

"On May 5, 1995, a highly inflammatory piece of film-footage was shown to a select audience at the Museum of London, England, by a man named Ray Santilli. Thus was born the controversy surrounding the now-notorious Alien Autopsy film – a controversy that raged for more than a decade. On April 4, 2006, however, everything changed. Britain’s SKY Television show Eamonn Investigates revealed that the infamous Alien Autopsy film, that tantalized and intrigued so many for years, was not what it appeared to be.

"Ray Santilli told host Eamonn Holmes that he was responsible for the creation of the footage, along with colleague Gary Shoefield and special-effects expert John Humphreys, who worked on the British sci-fi show Dr. Who and on the fantasy movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Santilli continued to assert, however, that he did secure original footage from a still-unidentified cameraman which appeared to show a real alien autopsy, but which was in very poor condition. The result: what was presented to the world was 'restored footage.'"

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Final Events and the Tuscon Weekly

The Tuscon Weekly has a new article at its website that, in part, references my Final Events book. You can find the post here, which deals with the UFO/entity-based experiences of a woman named Camille James Harman.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Abductions - Out of the Body

My latest Mysterious Universe article addresses a controversial aspect of alien abduction accounts. Hell, all the aspects are controversial, but for me, one stands out. It starts like this...

"One of the aspects of so-called 'alien abduction' experiences that fascinates me is the way in which some witnesses report their mind and visual-senses becoming detached from their physical body during the course of the encounter. Two cases, in particular, stand out. UFO researcher, good friend, and author Greg Bishop, says of one particularly relevant case from 1973: 'The main participant in that case was named Judy Doraty, and she had been driving back from a bingo game on May 23 of that year outside Houston, Texas, with her daughter, mother, sister, and brother-in-law.' Suddenly, everyone in the car witnessed 'a bright light in the sky' that seemed to be pacing them.

"'On their return home,' Greg continues, 'the light was still with them and, ominously, moved in closer. The family, as well as a group who came running out of the Doraty house, was shocked to see a huge disk-shaped object with rows of windows float silently over the property and across an adjacent field. It soon shot off straight up into the sky, going from ‘very, very big to very, very little in a matter of seconds,’ Doraty recalled.'"

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Manufacturing a Monster

When is a monster not a monster? When it's a manufactured one.

That's the theme of my latest Mysterious Universe article, which kicks off like this...

"In his classic book Explore Phantom Black Dogs, author and researcher Bob Trubshaw wrote the following words: 'The folklore of phantom black dogs is known throughout the British Isles. From the Black Shuck of East Anglia to the Mauthe Dhoog of the Isle of Man there are tales of huge spectral hounds ‘darker than the night sky’ with eyes ‘glowing red as burning coals.’ The phantom black dog of British and Irish folklore, which often forewarns of death, is part of a world-wide belief that dogs are sensitive to spirits and the approach of death, and keep watch over the dead and dying.'

"Having investigated many such cases across the UK, I can say for sure there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that there is a very real – and undeniably paranormal-based – phantom black hound in the UK. Indeed, it’s one that has been able to call the old land its very own for centuries. And although reports of the beast are nowhere near as prevalent as they were in the Middle Ages, they still surface from time to time."