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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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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Well, it's that time of year again

I really don't believe that we are coming up to our ninth annual Weird Weekend. It seems only yesterday that we were promoting (in an incredibly half arsed way) the first event. However, we know what we are doing a heck of a lot more now than we did back then, and the 2008 event looks like it is going to be a stonker.

This year's speakers include:

PAUL VELLA: Bigfoot for kids

RONAN COGHLAN: Theology of extraterrestraials

GEOFF WARD: Spirals in nature

JONATHAN DOWNES: TBC

RICHARD FREEMAN et al: Guyana 2007 Expedition report and results

DR KARL SHUKER TBC

JONATHAN MCGOWAN TBC

LEE WALKER: New Ferry after Dark

MIKE HALLOWELL: Invisikids

GAIL NINA ANDERSON: TBC

CHRIS MOISER: Tropiquaria Zoo - tales from a zookeeper

DARREN W RITSON & MIKE HALLOWELL: Tyneside Poltergeist case TBC

MICHAEL WOODLEY: classifying sea serpents

Dr MIKE DASH: Lake Monsters title TBC

TIM MATTHEWS: TBC

NICK REDFERN: Planet of the Ape-Men

PAUL ROSE: A year of monsters

OLL LEWIS: tbc

and more to be confirmed soon.

To give you a taster, here are some videos from last year's event, edited by my beloved nephew David. I really don't know what I would do without him...





Monday, January 28, 2008

errrrrrrrrm

I really did intend to write more regularly this year, but I have been ill again! I don't know whether this bloody disease is getting worse, or whether I was just completely unprepared for this latest bout. My consultant changed my medication just before Christmas to Carbemazapine, which - from my days as a nurse - I recognise as an anti-epileptic. However, (and this I did not know) it can also be used as a mood stabiliser, and I have to say that (at the moiment at least) it is working fantastically.

I had the most untroubled five weeks that I have had in years, and I have felt saner than I have for a long time. But boy, when the disease hits, it bloody hits! I was practically catatonic on friday and saturday, and yesterday all I managed to do was to stagger to the computer and lose magnificently at Age of Empires until I went back to bed.

I would like to thank young David (with a fond Uncle-esque manner) for having edited the first batch of films from last year's Weird Weekend. They are being posted on the CFZtv site now, and will be followed by the site for the 2008 event, together with an online thingy to buy tickerts in the next day or so.

I am involved with the annual Big Cats in Britain [BCIB] conference on March 7-9 which is being held at Tropiquaria which, as regular readers will know, is a small zoo owned by our old friends Chris Moiser and Jane Bassett, together with my lovely wife Corinna. I urge you all to come, because not only is it an important event, but will be lots of fun as well, and a chance to see behind the scenes of a lovely little zoo.

Issue 3 of Exoric Pets is now available..



The final contents are:

3. EDITORIAL
6. THE NEWS: Year of the Frog (guest editorial)
10. ZOO NEWS
11. Ryedale A.S Christmas Tree project
12. CRYPTO NEWS
13. THE BUGNATION COLUMN
14. CLUB NEWS: British Cichlid Association; Phasmid Study Group
17. RIO CAUCA CAECILIANS: Lure of the Black Worm by Jon Downes
20. TALES FROM THE BUSH: BBC bloke in Guyana by Stephen Backshall
23. DECIDUOUS DARLINGS: Dead leaf mantids by Graham Smith
26. CLIMBING PERCH: Fish out of water by David Marshall
30. AMAZING ANURANS: Horned frogs by Corinna Downes
33. VELVET UNDERGROUND: Peripatus by Matt Baillie
36. A CHANCE IN A LIFETIME: Behind the scenes at Durrell Wildlife by Ben Tapeley
40. TREVOR’S TALES
41. EMONIC LUCY
42. A SILK PURSE: Trapdoor Spiders by Hugh Jeal
45. RAMPANT RODENTS: Pouched rats by Oll Lewis
48. PECULIAR PHASMIDS: Leaf insects by Janice Holt
50. THE EYES HAVE IT: Ocellated skinks by Graham Smith
52. KILLER IN THE HOME: Assassin Bugs by the Bug Doctor
55. HELP: I need somebody
57. BOOKSHELF

CONTRIBUTORS Jon Downes, Graham Smith, Graham Inglis, Corinna Downes, Janice Holt, Richard Freeman, David Marshall, Shaz Hagan, Dr. Darren Naish, Stephen Backshall, Oll Lewis, David Phillips, Matt Baillie, Lucy Henson, Trevor Smith, The Bug Doctor, Hugh Jeal, Ben Tapeley

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Our first breeding success of the year...

The west African armoured millipedes have bred, which is very encouraging. We were at the AES show back in September, when Graham and Janice Smith (who were sharing a stall with us) let us have a couple of pairs of these glorious creatures that were wild caught and had just come in from The Congo.

They were shagging themselves senseless, and continued to do so throughout the winter until the adults began to die off (we only have one, rather battered looking old chap left.





But look at this (using the cherry tomato as a size-comparison). There are at least a dozen of them and maybe more, but they won't reach adulthood for another 8-10 months or maybe more..

The first CFZ breeding success of 2008 (well, the second if you count Arabella's egg yesterday)


Aren't we doing well?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

She's a big girl now

The universe is a peculiar place - well, mine is anyhow. I am going through one of my bipolar blips at the moment, and I feel completely useless and as mad as a bagfull of cheese. However, life has to go on, and I still do my best to get out of bed and actually achieve something, even if that something is merely a pointless story about chickens,

Which it is today.

Those who know me will already be aware that I have somewhat of a fascination with chickens, and have had for many years. For my birthday last year dear David - my quasi-nephew - bought me a pair of chickens from his friend Chris. They were duly installed into a magnificent coopy thing wot we bought from eBay, and which Oliver - in hus usual fashion - immediately named 'Cluckberry Mansions'. Someone (I think it was Graham, but I cannot be sure) even fashioned a tiny TV antenna and put it on top of this veritable poultry palace.

I am always very find of Graham when he gets whimsical. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does it is a thing of wonder to behold. Remind me one day to tell you more bits of InglisWhimsy.

But I digress.

The two chickens were named `Arabella Cluckburton` and something else I gorget, because within a few weeks it became slowly obvious that Arabella and the other one were not sisters under the skin after all, but that the divine Ms Cluckburton was shacked up (cooped up?) with The Hon. Percy Feathergirdle (as Corinna christened him).

But that was mid October, and Arabella showed no signs of developing her secondary sexual characteristics. We even wondered whether she too was a he, and would turn out to be Lord Percy's gimp, or something equally tasteful.

But today we have proof of her femininity. My little girl has grown up! Arabella laid her first egg!



The proud parents


Arabella

Her first egg

Monday, January 21, 2008

I suppose it is irony really

I spent a large part of the weekend persuading a good friend of mine not to close down his blog. The hyaenas of the internet had decided to harrass the poor bastard, even going so far as to post his home address up on a web forum somewhere together with some veiled threats. I told him that over the years, such people have accused me of being:

1. A heroin dealer (false)
2. A drug addict (sort of true some years ago, but it was nobody else's business)
3. A child molester (false)
4. An alcoholic (depends on your point of view)
5. A satanist (false)
6. A government spy (I think my anarchist credentials stand for themselves)
7. An employee of MI6 (lololol)

and all sorts of other stuff that I really cannot be bothered to talk about. On this very blog I was accused of spending all the CFZ money on drugs and alcohol. Richard and the gang have been accused of only being involved with the CFZ to get free foreign holidays.

This is all bollocks!

However, I told him, these idiots will continue to do stuff like that whether he takes down his blog or not, and so the best thing to do was to ignore him.

However, I know how he feels. In recent months it has seemed that every time I poke my head above the parapets, some bastard takes a pot shot at me. The latest are those jolly nice people at Wikipedia. Apparently (although my entry has been up there for well over two years), I am not notable enough for inclusion, and - because they suspected that I had written my own entry - they wouldn't believe a word I wrote.

OF COURSE I WROTE A LOT OF MY WIKIPEDIA ENTRY

That is because a great deal of what had been written about me by other people was complete nonsense. I am NOT 65 years old, I am NOT engaged to someone called "Lisa",
I DON'T live in Essex, and I have NOT written a book called "Owlman and other stories".

I have been keeping my entry, the CFZ entry, the Weird Weekend entry and several others up to date, because I truly believe that what the CFZ does is important. Very important! I don't do it out of self-aggrandaisment because fame and fortune are truly compoletely unimportant to me.

As far as the `notability guidelines` of Wikipedia are concerned, they have a whole section for `Scatwhores` for God's sake! Although as far as this section is concerned, I suppose I have a certain amount in common with them: I, too, take an awful lot of shit from people whilst I am trying to get on with my life's work.

Now, don't get me wrong. I believe in Wikipedia. I think it is a great, and even a noble concept. A free encyclopaedia that arrives at a neutral viewpoint through consencus editing is something that should be applauded, and it is something that I will continue to support.

However buys and girls. I want you all to do me a favour. Can you all log in to wikipedia over the next few days and add references and external links to my poagfe, the CFZ page, Richard's page, the Weird Weekend page etc. If enough of you do that then it will prove once and for all to these people that I and the CFZ do indeed exist, and that we are not all a figment of my - admittedly deranged at times - imagination.

Thanks guys.

PS: This is the end of the rant......... for now

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

HOWEVER THERE IS SOME GOOD NEWS

Now I have got my self-indulgent feeling sorry for myself but out of the way, here is the best news for yonks.

We are proud to announce the publication of three new books:





The first is the 2008 Yearbook. When I first came up with the idea of the yearbook some thirteen years ago, I always imagined that it would be published either just before or just after Christmas each year, but as the faithful stwalwarts who have followed our activities over the years will attest, apart from the first volume (the 1996 YB) which appeared in December 1995, none of the subsequent ones have appeared before April. Until now, that is...

Wayhay! Not only is the 2008 Yearbook out on time (it actually appeared on the shelves last week, but the tragic events of recent weeks stopped me doing anything about it, but it is pretty damn good. The contents are:

INTRODUCTION by Jonathan Downes
A TRIO OF MYSTERY CATS AT LONDON ZOO by Dr Karl P.N.Shuker
THE STRANGE ANIMALS OF SWANSEA BAY by Oll Lewis
PLANET OF THE APE MEN by Nick Redfern
TOWARDS A POSSIBLE CAUDATA IDENTITY FOR THE MONGOLIAN
DEATH WORM: Introducing the 'plausibility method' for identity theory
formation amongst lesser known cryptids by Michael A. Woodley
CATS AROUND THE CAPITAL by Neil Arnold
ZOOLOGICAL CURIOSITIES FROM HARDWICKE’S SCIENCE GOSSIP
PART ONE - 1865-7 BY Richard Muirhead
ON THE TRACK OF ORANG PENDEK? by Nick Molloy
MADNESS, MONSTERS AND MORAR by Lisa Dowley
SOME NEW ZEALAND CRYPTIDS by Tony Lucas
SINGING MICE by Jonathan Downes
ARCHIVE ARTICLES FROM THE 1930s ON SINGING MICE
CFZ ANNUAL REPORT 2007


Everyone who preordered the book will be getting it this week, but it is now on sale HERE for the regular price of £12.50



The second book is Ethna's Journal the first novel by my darling wife. Ethna's Journal tells the story of a few months in an alternate Dark Ages, seen through the eyes of Ethna, daughter of Lord Edric. She is an unsophisticated girl from the fortress town of Cragnuth, somewhere in the north of England, who reluctantly gets embroiled in a web of treachery, sorcery and bloody war...

Well, of course I would have said nice things about it - whatever it was like - because (in case you haven't noticed) I love my wife, and will always support her in her endeavours. However, the book happens to be really good. It is very reminiscent (to me, at least) of Michael Moorcock, round about the time he was writing the Runestaff series, and Ethna - the eponymous heroine of Corinna's book - is considerably more three dimensional a character than Dorien Hawkmoon, and a damn sight more sexy!

I highly recommend that you give it a go. Buy it HERE



The third book, is the latest in the series of `Dark Dorset` folklore books. The synopsis reads:

Much of the intrinsic charm of Dorset folklore is owed to the importance of folk customs. Today only a small amount of these curious and occasionally eccentric customs have survived, while those that still continue have, for many of us, lost their original significance. Why do we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? Why do children dance around the maypole on May Day? Why do we carve pumpkin lanterns at Hallowe'en? What is Wassailing? And who is Father Christmas? All the answers are here! Robert has made an in-depth study of the Dorset country calendar identifying the major feast-days, holidays and celebrations when traditionally such folk customs are practiced. Some of these customs hark back to pre-Christian times, while others are comparatively recent innovations. The list of customs is an extensive one and includes Morris Dancing, Clipping the Church, Well Dressing, Love Divinations, Mumming Plays, Corn Dollies, Broom Dancing and many more besides. Included as a special bonus are thirty tasty seasonal recipes to try out, such as Cattern Cake, Plough Tide Dumplings and Mince Pies, to name but a few.This fascinating, easy to follow compendium is an ideal reference tool for anyone seeking a greater understanding of Dorset's annual customs and rituals and how to enjoy them. Join in and celebrate any day that takes your fancy! We certainly will!

Buy it HERE

Yuck!!!!!!!!!!

After all the alarms and excursions of the last few weeks it is great to get back to some semblance of normality, and get back to working on all the things that I am supposed to be doing. At least, it WOULD be, if it wasn't for the fact that I have a cold! It is not even a particularly bad cold. It certainly isn't 'flu, or what my disgustingly sexist wife calls `man flu`. It's not the tummy bug that is sweeping across the nation, it's just a cold. And I probably caught it from Oliver, so it's all HIS fault.

And I feel horrid!

So there!
I am going to stamp my foot now!

YAH!!!!!

Normal service is, however, slowly being resumed as we speak.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Another Year, another video



I thought that you all might be amused by the latest edition of 'On the Track', described by Biffo as our "monthly videobloggy thingy" which is a magnificent piece of semi-alliteration. It includes me doing my all singing, all dancing, Woolsery's Mr Entertainment bit at last year's WW, as well as some items of genuine cryptozoological interest.

Many thanks to all of you who sent messages of support to Corinna and me after the trajic events of Christmas Eve. Guys, believe me, they are very much appreciated.

My love to you all, and best wishes for a groovy New Year...