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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Thursday, August 28, 2008

I must be a glutton for punishment..

Last night I started my new book. I always enjoy the beginning of a writing project, and I usually enjoy the end - it's just the 100,000 words in the middle which can become tedious.

Once upon a time I used to write a book a year, but in recent years that has fallen by the wayside. Just look at the evidence:

2000 Blackdown Mystery
2001 Only fools and goatsuckers
2002 Monster of the Mere
2004 Monster hunter
2008 Island of Paradise

OK, in the middle I put out Strength through Koi but that was only a piece of fun, and a compilation of previously published articles to boot.

So I have started my new book with good intentions of having it finished by Christmas, and published in the spring. However, that's what I said last time, and the bloody thing still took four years.

So keep your fingers crossed, and don't ask me what it is about cos I'm not telling!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

At last...........

I have to admit that I was beginning to think that this year was going to be a less than vintage one musically. To date, two of my favourite albums of 2008 have been `The Age of the Understatement` by The Last Shadow Puppets and Goldfrapp's `Seventh Tree` both of which are very nice records but not really groundbreaking. The only really classic album of the year so far is the gloriously wonderful third album by British Sea Power which started the year promisingly.

However, today I received two new albums which are so good that they have spurred me into writing my only eulogistically non-crypto posting of the year so far. Brian Wilson's long-awaited new album appears to be fantastic by anyone's standards - but when one considers that he is in his mid sixties, and has suffered from schizoaffective disorder for much of his life, it is remarkable. I have liked most of his output since the beginning of his return to form 20 odd years ago with his eponymous first solo album. Things have meandered from good to mediocre (usually the former), but about four years ago a reimagining of the legendary lost Beach Boys album `Smile` polarised his long standing fans. Was it good? Was it brilliant? Was it a rip-off by members of the BB cover-band The Wondermints who had basically co-opted an ageing loony into making their career?

I loved it, but was still uneasy. The follow-up Christmas album did nothing to allay that unease. But this - the first bona fide post-Smile album proves that Brian Wilson is still what we all had hoped - a giant of what Gram Parsons called `cosmic American music`.

The other fantastic new album is Wilderness by Brett Anderson. I have always been a big fan, but I felt that he lost his way somewhat during the latter days of Suede. His reunion album with Bernard Butler had its moments, but it wasn't until last year's self-titled debut solo album (my favourite record of last year) that he proved (to me at least) that he could still really cut it. The follow-up album which I heard for the first time today is not as immediate, and is a far more intimate and confessional affair, but it is so good that I have a sneaking suspicion that it will eclipse its predecessor in my affections before too long.

So 2008 is not looking too bad, and there are stiull four monhs left...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Forever Autumn

Well, it's all over. For another year at least. The Weird Weekend 2008 was a great success, it went off without any great problems, it raised about £1000 for CFZ funds, and a great time was had by all. Personally, even though it's over a week later, I am still knackered. But it is a good feeling to have pulled off an event on such a scale. This year we had a crew of over 20 people, and we needed every one of them. Plans for next year are already underway.

But enough of the self-congratulation. There is work to be done.

In the last week I haven't just been catching up on my sleep. I have also revamped the CFZtv website, which was severely in the doldrums, and in great need of refurbishment. You can see it at www.cfztv.org and - what's more - for the first time, you can watch the 2008 Weird Weekend in its entirety. As far as I'm aware, we are the only organisation in the world, certainly within our field of operations, that, following in the footsteps of certain somewhat dodgy religious organisations, makes the entirety of their annual conference available - for free - on the Internet. I hope that you will enjoy it.

So, onwards into the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, to quote a poem that I learned at school (which my dear wife informs me was by Keats). What do the autumnal months have in store for the Centre for Fortean Zoology?

We have several books planned for this autumn. The first out of the starting gate will be Neil Arnold's book on the Mystery Animals of Kent - the second in our series of county by county investigations into the cryptofauna of the United Kingdom and Ireland. This will be closely followed by Michael Newton's book on giant snakes, Richard Freeman's encyclopaedia of Japanese monsters, and Nick Redfern's Mystery Animals of Staffordshire.

Before the end of the year, CFZ readers can also expect another issue of `Exotic Pets` and another issue of `Animals & Men` as well as the 2009 Yearbook, so - all in all - things ain't doing too badly here at CFZ Mansions.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thank you...

to everyone who wished me a happy birthday. Yes, guys I am 49 today..........

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Weird weekends and wobbly weather (and probably other things beginning with W)

The Weird Weekend is nearly upon us. Not only is it my ninth, but it is Corinna's fourth, and she is able now not only only to give a daily amusing overview of all the crap that happens each day, but, because she has that wonderful feminine ability to see the wood for the trees (or whatever the expression is), she is giving a much more enlightening overview than I possibly can.

So I refer you all to Corinna's latest blog posting

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's that time of the year again folks...

I got an email from Darren Naish yesterday. It was a very jolly email, but one line disturbed me. He wrote that he had not seen any new blog postings for a while. I started to get self-righteous about it, until I realised that he wass perfectly right. It has been six weeks since my last entry (bless me blogsphere for I have sinned), and it is about time that I got on with it.

This has been a particularly unpleasant week. Firstly it is nearly the Weird Weekend again, and organising this year's event has been a bloody nightmare. I am several staff down, and have been all summer. One (John F) has gone on to pastures new. One (Mark) is on semi permanent leave looking after his parents. Richard has been in Russia and at the zoo, and Dave has had his GCSEs and work experience to do. In vain did I argue that hanging around with his Uncle Jon was the only work experience that he would ever need because once I have finally worked myself into a premature grave he can take over my job, but his mother seems to think that he needs more conventional qualifications.

So we have shuddered on. Last week the ceiling of the porch collapsed, one of the finches died and I had a disturbing letter from the Tax office. This week one of my dearest friends told me that he has cancer (quite possibly inoperable) and I lost a long-standing dispute with a printing company. So, all in all life ain't good at the moment. On top of that, as anyone who has seen the latest `On the Track` will have noticed I have not been very well, and look like a self-ambulatory member of the walking-dead (and that is not a West Coast beat group c. 1967).

But. The WW is less than six days away. So far we have only lost one speaker - Paul Vella, who has had to pull out due to a family matter. Everything in the garden is rosy (or it would have been if the torrential rain hadn't knacked my roses), and next weekend is looming upon us like an out of control juggernaut.

I am sure that it will all be OK in the end. It always is! However, do me a favour and keep your fingers firmly crossed for me.

My darling wife will be doing a running commentary of events on her blog, so keep her in mind.