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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Sunday, September 02, 2007

East Infection

re my last post. Watch this. It has everything ; an insane frontman with an absurd moustache, a gypsy fiddler who looks like he was kicked out of Willie Nelson's band, and a pretty girl wearing a bird mask and what looks like a cheese grater strapped to her back. If it doesn't bring a smile to your face there is no hope for you..

It is - without a doubt, and against some stiff competition, the best thing I have heard all year.

Music Maestro please

This is proving to be a cracking year for music.

Released in the last few weeks, and highly recommended from this author are:

1. Kula Shaker `Strangefolk`
2. The Polyphonic Spree `Fragile Army`
3. Richard Hawley `Lady's Bridge`

The first two are welcome returns to form after slightly patchy second albums. The second Kula Shaker album in particular was a crashing disappointment after the glories of their debut, and whilst `Together we're Heavy` by the Polyphonic Spree had its moments, it was a bit too self-consciously clever for my tastes. After the joyous psychobabble of the first album which sounded like the Mamas and Pappas on mescaline, they suddenly became Yes which although I have been known to ingest a fair amount of prog in my time, was probably a mistake. Both their album and the new Kula Shaker one are harder edged and less fussy than their immediate predecessors, and are worth serious consideration.

Richard Hawley never ceases to bemuse me. His last album was universally lauded as a masterpiece (and quite rightly so), and pressed all the right Scott Walker buttons for me, but the new one is quite a departure, and I can see why some reviewers were lukewarm about it. The nearest frame of reference I can find is an obscure album called "The one and Only" by Billy Fury, which was recorded just before his death and released on kTel or some other crappy little label posthumously, whereupon nobody bought it.

It featured many of his most famous songs rerecorded with the cream of 1980s session musicians, and - unusually for such a project, in such a decade - is bloody marvellous. I picked up a copy by mistake on a car boot stall years ago, and I have played it regularly ever since. And yes, Richard Hawley's record is THAT good.

I have also just discovered Gogol Bordello and from them I have digressed onto all sorts of Gypsy Punk, and the sound system in the CFZ office is as eccentric as ever.

On a more sombre note, Mark's mum is about to go into hospital, and we would ask you to remember her in your thoughts and prayers. As a result, Mark is back in Dorset for at least the next six months, and will probably be forced into getting a proper job, for a while at least...

Rome wasn't built in a day...

Last night I sat up in bed watching television while Corinna battled her way through Middle Earth. I watched something called `The Ultimate Sitcom` blissfully unaware that it was originally broadcast some 20 months ago, and that everyone else in the omniverse knew the results before I did.

I was childishly happy to see that my three favourites (Reggie Perrin, Sgt Bilko, and Larry Sanders) made the listing, but it was one of the clips they showed that actually got me thinking. It was a clip from `Yes Minister` c. 1982 in which the immortal Sir Humphrey Appleby was making excuses for Civil Service tardiness by using one of his catchphrases: "Rome wasn't built in a Day".

Now, Graham used to be a Civil Servant. Until, that is, he smashed the windows of Exeter Tax Office with a lump hammer, and broke a leg during the subsequent police chase, causing the Exeter Express and Echo to come up with a superlative headline describing him as an `Uncivil Servant`.

For twenty years he has been my best friend, co-conspirator, and partner in crime, but under the scuzzy, scatty, Hawkwind revereing exterior, still beats the heart of a Civil Servant. And yes, he has been known to use Sir Humphry's favourite catchphrase. But although it would be easy to see this as a convenient and facile excuse, the truth is that stuff doesn't happen as quickly as we would like.

The museum, for example, was supposed to be finished last May, but is still basically a building site full of crap. The aviary still has no roof and only two of three doors, and although the roof, floor, and electrics of the museum are fixed, and indeed finished, the interior is still an untidy shed rather than the lodestone of world cryptozoology. But as Graham says, Rome WASN'T built in a day, the weather has been appaling, and most of the time when Graham should have been outside doing the building work, he was cowering indoors because of the driving torrential rain which threatened to give us a Noah-style deluge. Add to that the fact that this year Corinna has sold her house, I have bought this one, Corinna has moved in with me, We got married, helped to buy a zoo, and promoted the best Weird Weekend yet, and it is amazing that we have achieved anything else!

However, none of this excuses the fact that I haven't been keeping this blog up to date like I should. But in the last few weeks we have been programming the new welcome pack for new CFZ members, finishing Animals & Men #41, Exotic Pets #2 and being sacked by Tropical World. I am also in the process of designing websites for My Darling Quasi-Sister, one for the aforementioned zoo, and editing the Weird Weekend footage into some sort of cohesive whole.

So, forgive me for not having done as much as I should, but Rome wasn't built in a day!

[Wikipedia:According to legend, the city of Rome was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus on April 21, 753 BC, but archaeological evidence supports the theory that Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill and in the area of the future Roman Forum, coalescing into a city in the 8th century BC. That city developed into the capital of the Roman Kingdom (ruled by a succession of seven kings, according to tradition), Roman Republic (from 510 BC, governed by the Senate), and finally the Roman Empire (from 31 BC, ruled by an Emperor)]