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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Weird Weekend - Day One

I have suddenly realised with a horrible jolt, that it has been over a month since I last posted on the blog. But have I been sitting back, lazily fanning myself under the big beech tree in the garden? Has some horrible mishap hit the CFZ?

Nope.

It's just that we have been gearing up for the annual Weird Weekend; our annual conference, held here in the sleepy North Devon village of Woolfardisworthy (Woolsery).

It is now the ungodly hour of 8.30 - an unprecedented time for me to be awake, up, dressed (and even wearing a tie!) and for the CFZ Office to already be a hubbub of activity. Mark North and John Fuller are printing out programmes, and young Michael Ingrams (8), the son of one of our speakers is lending a helping hand, whilst bouncing around the room to the jolly sounds of the Afro-Celt Sound Sytem.

Mark Martin is wandering around the garden together with Matt Osbourne (a member of Bideford Town Council, who somehow has found himself co-opted as a roadie for the weekend), Dr Darren Naish is asleep on my kitchen floor, and in the drawing room Nick Redfern, and notoious circlemaker Matthew Williams can be found sleeping the sleep of the just (or the hungover, I'm not sure which). On my dining room floor is Dr Lars Thomas (fresh in from Copenhagen), and Ronan Coghlan (from Northern Ireland), and upstairs, in my bedroom, trying desparately to wake up, and probably wondering how she managed to become alpha-female of this madhouse, is my darling Corinna!

We have been working solidly for weeks on this event, and it all started to happen on thursday night when ovcer sixty people piled into the CFZ grounds for the annual Weird Weekend Cocktail Party! The day has been an exhausting one, with speakers arriving at intervals throughout the day, the aforementioned Matt Osbourne arriving with an enormous marquee, my future elder step-daughter, Shosh, and future step-son-in-law, Gavin, arriving in a large white van packed to the gunwhales (errr... do vans have gunwhales?) with impressive model cryptids and dinosaurs kindly lent to us by Anthony James of Nuneaton, and the whole afternoon was punctuated with Graham to-ing and fro-ing from Barnstaple station with yet another speaker, or yet another case f tequila.

The cocktail party was a resounding success, and a splendid time was had by all. Highlights included Nick Redfer's raucous singing, Larry Warren's expert work as a cocktail barman, and the sight of dozens of small children beating the living crap out of a pinada kindly donated by Lisa Dowley.

Our new policy of pitching the CFZ at a family audience, rather than just as a bunch of confirmed cryptodudes and cryptochicks is certainly paying-off as we are rapidly becoming a truly community audience; albeit a community-based organisation which has room for shaven headed, gloriously drunk, Brummie ufologists (I mention no names ... snigger), singing So What by the Anti Nowhere League at the top of their voices in my garden during the wee small hours.

Friday was hectic, and top of the list odf people who deserve to be mentioned in

Mark Martin is wandering around the garden together with Matt Osbourne (a member of Bideford Town Council, who somehow has found himself co-opted as a roadie for the weekend), Dr Darren Naish is asleep on my kitchen floor, and in the drawing room Nick Redfern, and notoious circlemaker Matthew Williams can be found sleeping the sleep of the just (or the hungover, I'm not sure which). On my dining room floor is Dr Lars Thomas (fresh in from Copenhagen), and Ronan Coghlan (from Northern Ireland), and upstairs, in my bedroom, trying desparately to wake up, and probably wondering how she managed to become alpha-female of this madhouse, is my darling Corinna!

We have been working solidly for weeks on this event, and it all started to happen on thursday night when ovcer sixty people piled into the CFZ grounds for the annual Weird Weekend Cocktail Party! The day has been an exhausting one, with speakers arriving at intervals throughout the day, the aforementioned Matt Osbourne arriving with an enormous marquee, my future elder step-daughter, Shosh, and future step-son-in-law, Gavin, arriving in a large white van packed to the gunwhales (errr... do vans have gunwhales?) with impressive model cryptids and dinosaurs kindly lent to us by Anthony James of Nuneaton, and the whole afternoon was punctuated with Graham to-ing and fro-ing from Barnstaple station with yet another speaker, or yet another case f tequila.

The cocktail party was a resounding success, and a splendid time was had by all. Highlights included Nick Redfer's raucous singing, Larry Warren's expert work as a cocktail barman, and the sight of dozens of small children beating the living crap out of a pinada kindly donated by Lisa Dowley.

Our new policy of pitching the CFZ at a family audience, rather than just as a bunch of confirmed cryptodudes and cryptochicks is certainly paying-off as we are rapidly becoming a truly community audience; albeit a community-based organisation which has room for shaven headed, gloriously drunk, Brummie ufologists (I mention nio names ... snigger), singing So What by the Anti Nowhere League at the top of their voices in my garden during the wee small hours.

Friday was hectic, and top of the list odf people who deserve to be mentioned in dispatches are Lisa Dowley, who did her site-managerial thing witgh flair and aplomb, David Phillips, who despite being only 14 did a remarkable job on sound and lights, and his younger brother Ross whorushed about the room after every talk taking a roving radio mic to everyone who wanted to ask questions of the speakers.

The first days events were:

1. The introduction and welcome, by me and Rich, ably assisted by the children from the Woolsery Children's choir who sang some illitterate doggerel that Freeman had written so sweetly, that one's faith in human nature was restored.

2. Bob Morrell MBE from APRA books who gave a fascinating lecture on the beast gods of the ancient world. Everyone enjoyed this mightily, and this set the tone for the whole event.

3. Brian Butler, from the Village Hall management committee who explained how pasties are an increasingly rare species of Devon animal, that can be found deep in Devoin hedgerows (and which were on sale in the bar).

4. Dr Lars Thomas from Denmark gave a smashing talk on Scandinavian Lake Monsters, and there were so many questions at the end, from both the cryptozoological community, and the people of the village (note that I don't say `Village People` because I don't want to imply that there a bunch of openly gay folk rushing around dressed as red induians), that we seriously over-ran.

5. Matthew Williams talked about crop circles to an enthralled audience, and one local friend of mine was heard to mutter "I gotta get myself a laser pointer and a compass", as he wandered away from the talk, deep in thought.

We ended with the raffle, with generous prizes donated by Lisa Dowley (a silver Ninki-Nanka pendant that she brought back from the Gambia expedition,
anjd Simon Wolstencroft who kindly donated a year's subscription to Tropical World

The evening ended with a suitably psychedelic experience from Matthew Williams and his laser show. We all went home (except for Lary Warren who ended up sleeping in some chick's car), and had a few glasses of wine before staggering to bed and awaiting the morrow...