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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Friday, September 19, 2008

Oh Dear, Oh Dear, Oh Dear

I have used this blog, on a number of occasions, to tell the universe that I particularly like a new record or book by someone. This is the first time that I have ever used this blog, which is essentially meant as a way to talk about cryptozoology and my other activities animalwise, to tell the world quite how appalled I am.

Yes, I admit it. There are some albums by Queen in my voluminous music collection. I am particularly fond of the first four albums, but some of the later ones also have their moments. I also have several albums by Free although I always thought Bad Company were pants.

Can you see where this is going?

When it was announced that Free singer Paul Rogers (OK I didn't like anything else he did post-Free) had teamed up with Messrs Meddows-Taylor and May I was mildly intrigued. Paul Rogers at his best was an incredibly soulful rock singer, and had one of the bext voices in late 60s/early 70s music. So I downloaded some live stuff they did.

It was terrible.

I should, I suppose, have been prepared for this by the fact that ex-bassist John Deacon, who was by far the most self-effacing member of the band, had refused to have anything to do with the project.

It turned out that a dear friend of mine (who shall remain nameless cos I won't out him) went to see them live. They were, apparently, dreadful.

So I played some tracks to Richard Freeman.

"What is this shit?" he said

But still, fond as I am of Wishing Well and My Brother Jake, I insisted to all my friends that once the album - with new material that had not been penned for Fred to sing came out, the band would be vindicated. I was sure it would all be alright in the end.

Well it ain't.

This is the nastiest, most cynical, vile piece of capitalist shit that I have ever heard. It is almost pornographic in its insincerity. It sounds great - but then again it would. The lyrics are banal and childish, and the whole thing is executed about as well as a saturday night pub band. There can be no reason for this album to have been made apart from to make three rich men richer.


September song

I inherited a lot from my mother. I inheites my love for books, my desire to write books, my love of the natural world, and even a modicum of her explorer's instinct. But I also inherited the bad things: I am a trifle corpulent - no, don't deny it... I have a fondness for the grape and the grain, and I have a tendency to succumb to every head cold going. In this concern I am not as bad as my mum, who would have a cold continually from October to April, but mine are bad enough and I have one or two a year. One of the weirder things is, that although a couple of years ago my colds would last for a couple of weeks, now they only last for two or three days, but while they do they are horrible.

So I have been in bed, being a trial to my nearest and dearest, and feeling appaling (and probably acting and looking worse). But now I am able to sit up and do stuff, even though I am still as weak as a kitten.

Redders wrote: His missus is still unwell, but seems to be a little better - more news when I have it. No more news on Doc, and the administrative problems to which I alluded seem to be retreating somewhat........

Still, September ain't much fun so far....

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

and our thoughts and prayers go out to.........

Dana Redfern, and `Doc` Shiels, both of whom are unwell, and the family of Pink Floyd keyboard player Rick Wright who died yesterday..........

Thank you.........

Thank you for your kind messages about Tessie. I am sorry that I have once again slipped under the radar, but I have got a cold - nothing at all serious, but my voice has gone and my ears are all blocked up, so I can't hear or speak to any normal degree. It isn't even particularly debilitating - just irritating.

Tessie has been buried at the bottom of the side lawn at the CFZ. There are quite a few other work-related problems that I am not at liberty to talk about at the moment, but the good news is that Richard and I have now done about fifteen minutes of the Russia movie, Exotic Pets #6 is well under way, as is the Russia expedition book, and Dave Penna came round to dinner last night to discuss the possibility of reforming The Amphibians from Outer Space so - recession notwithstanding - all is far from lost.

Onwards and Upwards

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tessie ?1990-2008

Tess was unique among the dogs I have had as she was the only one that I didn’t know since she was a puppy. Her background is hazy. Apparently she had first been owned by a disabled man who could not exercise her as well as he would have like. He passed her onto a friend who later, because of work commitments passed her on to a woman named Tracey Freestone who subsequently became Graham’s girlfriend.
I would often see Tess being walked and stop to make a fuss of her because she was such a delightful little dog. A sheltie, border collie cross she reminded me of my childhood companion `Sandy`, who was a border collie, golden retriever cross. When Tracey and her former boyfriend split up Tess came to stay with us and after Tracey’s death we adopted Tess as the CFZ dog.

Tess was around nine when we had her but was often mistaken for a puppy she was so active and playful. During summer she never tired of diving into the river after balls. She made friends everywhere she went. In particular a lady who worked in the WH Smiths on Exeter train station always enquired after her. Many times her past owners and their friends would stop and make a fuss of her.

When Jon moved up to Woolsery, Tess came along as he had a large garden and there were plenty of country walks to be had. About a year ago, Tess fell victim to a condition where the corneas on her eyes slipped, leaving her blind. Both operations and medicine failed to
save her sight. However she got along quite well, finding her way round the house and garden.
Over the past few months she had become increasingly frail and prone to collapse. This condition worsened until she could not walk. She merely

stood around then violently collapsed when she tried to move. In order to save her any suffering, I had her put to sleep on Tuesday 16th of September 2008.

To me losing a dog is like losing a child. I’ve always preferred dogs to people. There is no duplicity about them. They have no hidden agenda. A dog gives its love totally and truly.

Goodbye, Daddy’s little girl.

Richard Freeman

The Power of the Dog

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
But when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your hearts to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie -
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk you heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years that nature permits,
Are closing in asthma, or tumor, or fits,
And the Vet's unspoken prescription runs
to lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find - it's your own affair
But - you've given your heart to a dog to tear.

We've sorrow enough in the natural way
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent
At compound interest of cent per cent,
For when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short time loan is as bad as a long -
So why in Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Madness of Butterflies

I have now done 17,000 words of my new book, which is about a sixth of it, and the project is substantial enough for me to talk about it now without looking like an idiot.

My new book is using the decline, extirpation, and - in one case extinction - of various species of British lepidoptera, as well as an examination of changing population trends and deliberate introductions, as an analogy by which to look at the subject of cryptozoology as a whole.

A lot has been written about the subject of trying to fit cryptozoology into mainstream zoology - this is doing almost completely the opposite.

However, in order to make the thing readable, as well as giving me a chance to put into print various things that I have never been able to fit into a book before, so the whole thing is being presented alongside a series of my own life experiences...

It is also the first time for thirteen years that I am collaborating with my old mate Richard Muirhead, who I have known since I was a boy in Hong Kong, and who did much of the background research for The Smaller Mystery Carnivores of the Westcountry and who's own life experiences, some of which are shared with me, are actually an integral part of the story.

There is a lot more, but I don't want to give it away just yet, partly so no-one else pips us to the post, and partly because if I reveal all of the story here in my blog there will be no point in anyone going out to buy my book when it finally comes out next year.

This, by the way, is why - I believe - that a well known publisher who specialised in books based around people's blogs, went bust earlier this year. Nobody wants to pay for what they can get for free.

I can't remember if I have plugged our latest books on here, but if I haven't may I reccomend Karl Shuker's latest Dr Shuker's Casebook.

"Although he is best-known for his extensive cryptozoological researches and publications, Dr Karl Shuker has also investigated a very diverse range of other anomalies and unexplained phenomena, both in the literature and in the field.

Travelling the world in search of mysteries and marvels of every kind, Dr Shuker has climbed the volcanic slopes of Easter Island on the trail of moai and manbirds, he has traversed the Theban necropolis of Egypt's West Bank in search of a singing Colossus and the head of Ozymandias, he has journeyed to Woolpit in the footsteps of its mystifying Green Children, and to Niagara on the lookout for its long-lost winged cat.

Whether it be flying over the Bermuda Triangle (four times!) , inspecting cropfield circles in Buckinghamshire, questing for mermaids and unicorns, gazing in awe at a putative living dinosaur emblazoned upon the magnificent Ishtar Gate of Babylon's King Nebuchadnezzar, revealing a bizarre yet hitherto-undocumented bat-winged monster encountered in the heartland of Kent, uncovering an anachronistic Cambodian stegosaur at Angkor Wat, peering in hope across the dark waters of Loch Ness and the monster-haunted lakes of Iceland, seeking resurrected avifauna in New Zealand, finding solace in the stark majesty of Stonehenge and the holy grandeur of Lourdes, charting the preternatural entities of Senegambia's forests or Australia's Dreamtime, tracking elusive black panthers on Exmoor, or unmasking serpent-necked panthers on an enigmatic artefact from the ancient Middle East, if there are mysteries to be investigated, Dr Shuker is in hot pursuit.

Now, compiled here for the very first time, are some of the extraordinary cases that he has re-examined or personally explored down through the years - from sky beasts and reptoids, statues that weep, bleed, and even come to life, vanishing planets and invisible saints, frog rain and angel hair, and the world's weirdest ghosts and aliens, to a chiming tower of porcelain and a talking head of brass, spooklights and foo fighters, Herne the Hunter and photographed thought-forms, the chirping pyramid of Quetzalcoatl, magical mirrii dogs Down Under, and the most comprehensive study ever published of winged cats in which he successfully unveils their long-debated cryptic identity.

All of that, and much more, await you inside this arcane archive of inexplicabilia, dubitanda, and mirabilia or, as we prefer to call it, Dr Shuker's Casebook. "