Thursday, April 23, 2009
Just when I think that I cannot despise the human race any more, something turns up to make me change my mind. OK I know that Richard said that on another topic the other day, but one has to agree with him. The messageboard on the site includes messages like "Hahahahaha no law in killing insects so screw you PETA!", and to my horror there is now an American version of the site. If anyone starts a British version, be warned, I will personally have you dealt with! However, this is not the main crux of why I am writing this.
The most telling point about the whole disgusting affair is not that adolescent boys like to watch things killing each other and animals in pain. That is a done deal. It is one of the more unpleasant facets of our particularly unpleasant species that along with chimpanzees and possibly domestic cats, we are the only species that kills for fun. No, it is the jeering anti-PETA remark that is the most telling thing.
As we reported a few weeks ago, PETA are complete nutcases, but I think that this shows that their insane view of animal rights is actually providing a negative stereotype for people. The very kids that PETA are aiming their programmes at are not only rejecting the increasingly facile message, but throwing the baby out with the bathwater. When the main crux of the high profile animal rights campaigns are facile and idiotic, it is no wonder that animal abuse flourishes,
The CFZ Archives yeild up a mixed bag of odd folklore clippings including the original press reports of the strange pony deaths at Cherry Brook Valley on Dartmoor thirty plus years ago. This stuff keeps on coming, and on the whole it ius stuff that I had completely forgotten about which is either a paen of high praise to the scope of the CFZ Archives, or a sad indictment of my decaying brain cells and my rapidly hardening arteries...
Our online archive of press cuttings is getting quite sizeable now, and we are desparate for indexers. If you feel like giving us a few hours every week, please get in touch. The CFZ needs you!
In fact I have no idea whatsoever whether this is true or whether this is just another side-effect of global communication, meaning that news stories are more generally available than they were. Fleur sent me this, and most of them are more or less cute (which is pretty well what you would expect)...
On July 24th 1898 Elliot had a peculiar encounter in Greenwich Park, London. He was perched on a park bench admiring the scenery and within the shadows of a diseased elm tree, when suddenly something caught his eye. Something had fallen, or dropped, from the tree. It was no leaf or piece of rotten bark but in fact a creature, half-human, half-animal, which, he recalls, “…was stunted, bloated, pulpy and yellow”, and moved sideways like a crab. Mr O’ Donnell was so scared of the form that he fled the park, and when looking back on the encounter simply spoke of it as a ‘nature spirit’. Just what had he seen ? Mere insect, or something akin to a fairy, or something far weirder ?
A freaky form was encountered by two psychics in 1921 as they investigated the allegedly cursed Exhibit 22542, at the British Museum. The item was a mummy discovered in Egypt in the 1800s, and such was its awful reputation that not many were brave enough to even look at the body. The psychics attempted some kind of exorcism to lift the curse, but were confronted by a floating monster said to have resembled a jellyfish!
London hides many mysterious monsters, and they are the subject of my next book!
1) The Tarmac Shrew
It lives by scavenging the margins of major roads at night, vanishing whenever it seeswhite lights approaching and reappearing only when no light, or just dim red lightis present. From a diet of insects it has moved on to eating almost any road-killed animal life and as such tends to do extremely well on the margins of major motorways.The population is extremly dynamic, crashing to low levels in winter and explodingin the spring as the first few hedgehogs of the year are killed. For some reason, itis inordinately fond of road-killed felines, possibly because of the smelliness of a cat cadaver, and literally hundreds of tarmac shrews can destroy the carcass of a dead cat almost overnight, whatever the size of the body.
2) The Quantum Puma
This is a large feline, commonly black in colour, which although common in Europe is very seldom seen because it is pathologically shy of humans. These peculiar cats take the elusiveness of most felines to an extraordinary level by existing for most of their lives as a quantum superposition phenomenon. As such, the cat stalks by ineptly moochingabout until the superposition wave is collapsed by the presence of prey, which being surprised by a huge cat appearing out of thin air is usually dispatched very quickly.
3) The Mimic Magpie
In Europe, magpies are becoming an ever-more common bird in cities and towns due to their adaptability and inteligence. One sub-species, the mimic magpie, has taken this adaptability even further and now commonly impersonates a large number of other common town animals such as pigeons, hedgehogs, cats and even small children (in the latter case falling back on itsextraordinary memory for insults, witticisms and Terry Wogan quotes which rapidly repels eventhe most hardened of Fortean investigators). The mimicry is extremely realistic and is usedto obtain otherwise inaccessible food sources and to repel predators of all sorts.
It is therefore very hard to put a number on how many mimic magpies exist, or to work out their geographical distribution since the one thing these intelligent birds never try to impersonate is another magpie. Further research is urgently needed into this perplexing urban phenomenon,although this researcher is prepared to undertake this for suitable remuneration.
Its true. Every word of it. Well, some.
1822 was a funny old year in Geordieland. Mind you, truth to tell, every year in Geordieland is funny as you can't get a Geordie passport unless you're an incurable eccentric. Being a nation of eccentrics, then, it’s a pretty safe bet that any year between 1,083BC (when our sovereignty was formed) and the present is going to be a bloody peculiar one.
Anyway, I digress. Back to 1822. On the morning of Thursday August 8, a Large Thing shuggied it's way up onto the coast at Cresswell in Northumberland.
"Look!" said a local Calamian deer* farmer. "There's a Large Thing!"
And so it was.
Anyhoo, the farmer's wife went and got a tape measure from B&Q, came back and measured it.
"Bloody hell!" she exclaimed, "Its sixty-eight feet from the tip of the tail bit to the end of the head bit!"
And so it was.
Now after much deliberation and argument, it was decided that the Large Thing was actually a "spermaceti whale".
"That's funny", said the farmer's wife's husband, "Them Large Things are only supposed to live in the South Seas, which are so called because they are seas and in the south. What, pray, is it doing here in Cresswell?"
"Maybe we moved during the night", said the farmer's wife.
"No", replied her spouse. "I can still see the top of the tall, pointy stone thing over there".
"You mean the church steeple?"
"Whatever. Stop being a smart arse. Anyway, we haven't moved. The Large Thing, which I will henceforth call a spermaceti whale, dearest, must have got lost".
"That's a shame. How's it going to get home, then?"
Their discourse was interrupted by another farmer who tilled the land adjacent to that owned by the first one. His farm, for the record, was called The Next One Along.
And so it was.
"Here, what are we going to do about this Large Thing, then?"
"You mean the spermaceti whale over there?"
"Whatever. Stop being a smart arse. Can you see the head bit? Its on my land, that bit is".
"But the bit at the other end, the tail bit, is on my land".
"Exackerly. So who does it belong to, then?"
"But I've got the head bit, which is where the important things are, so it must be mine".
"No; the tail bit is where the bum is, and a spermaceti whale can't live long without a bum. Its mine".
Anyway, they couldn't agree, and both proceeded to poke a hole in the Large Thing and drain the oil out of it. One hole was at one end, and the other hole was at the other end away from the first one. According to official records, both farmers drew out a grand total of 9 tons and 158 gallons of oil from the Large Thing. The only thing was, being greedy bastards, they couldn't agree who it belonged to and they weren't prepared to half it.
Now it turned out that the King, known as George IV, on account of his being the fourth one called George, got to hear about it.
"What's this about a Large Thing at Cresswell up in Northumberland?" he asked his valet.
"It’s a spermaceti whale, Your Majesty".
"Whatever. Stop being a smart arse. Anyway, what's the crack about it?"
"Its up on the beach, not far from the tall pointy stone thing. Half of it is on the farm called The First One, and the other half is on the farm called The Next One Along, on account of it being the next one along".
"What, its in two halves?"
"No, it's in one half, but they're arguing about who owns it."
"Well that's easy sorted. It belongs to me, because I'm the King".
"And what about the oil, Your Highness?"
"They got loads of oil out of it. It's all in buckets. And tankards. And chamber pots".
"How are we off for oil here, then? You know, for the lamps and that."
"Well it never comes in wrong, Your Worshipful Angelicness".
"Right then. Get the lads up to Cresswell with one of those Royal Decree thingies and a load of buckets and tell them I want the oil. And I want all of it. If they try and scam so much as a thimbleful I'll double their taxes. In any event, if they get really bolshy I might just revive that old prima nocte thing, where the King can bonk a woman on the first night of her marriage before her hubby. Edward did that, you know, up in Scotland ages ago".
"And how did that go down, Sire?"
"Like an effing lead balloon, mate. Plus, he got the pox."
And so it came to pass that the oil sucked out of the Large Thing at Cresswell was given to King George, who had a Very Small Thing in his codpiece.
But that's another story.
The moral of the tale is that if you end up arguing with the bloke next door about spermaceti whales, don't.
* There were no Calamian deer in England in 1822. I just invented this to sex it up a bit.
A mysterious figure resembling a human being was sighted on the Doha Corniche’s parking lot, according to a report published in a local Arabic daily.The report is based on the statement of an Arab expatriate lady who said she had seen the strange figure near the Oryx statue while walking in the area. Quoting the woman, the daily said she took a picture of it in spite of being terribly frightened.“She was very soon surrounded by a large number of people who also attested to the fact of what she had seen . But it suddenly disappeared out of their sight when they tried to go near it,” the report added.
Max Blake is equally lucky with tropical fish shops, and it seems that our resident New Zealander Tony Lucas has a similar Lovejoyesque power over auction houses.
Cop a load of this.
He wrote to me saying that this was something in which we might be interested, and the answer is that of course we are (even though we still have some financial problems, even though the worst have now been alleviated).
The description is as follows:
This auction is for some RARE Moa Fragments and other items found Ex Wairau Boulder 28 April 1956 By Jim Eyles who was one of New Zealands best Archeologists at the time.
There are 29 pieces all up. There is a card inside the box which reads Odd Moa Hunt Fragments Etc Ex Wairau Bar (Jim Eyles) Hawkeye 28 April 1956 29 pcs. Jim Eyles was a well known Moa Hunter. Later in life he was the Director of The Nelson Provincial Museum. Please feel free to ask me any questions you have regarding this item and i will answer them as best as I can.
To describe Jim Eyles as a "well known moa hunter" is an understatement. To quote wikipedia:
James Roy (Jim) Eyles OBE (1926–2004) was a New Zealand archaeologist.
Born in 1926, Jim spent his early years living with his family at the Wairau Bar near Blenheim where, in 1939 as a schoolboy, he discovered early human skeletons and associated artefacts including necklaces, stone tools and moa egg. Jim discovered several more burials on the bar, and assisted with the exacavtions carried out by Roger Duff from the Canterbury Museum. The site is regarded as one of the oldest and most important archaeological sites in New Zealand.
So this item is actually quite an important piece of cryptozoological history. We have no money, but of course we are bidding on it. If anyone fancies donating a few quid towards the purchase price we would be very grateful..
Well, we ain't racist, at least I'm not, and as far as I am aware none of the other members of the CFZ Permanent Directorate are, but most of us are pretty damn patriotic. I always try to Mark St George's day, because it is our national day rather than because of any loyalty to a Syrian bacon-thief (if you are to believe young Freeman's version of events), and I was actually quite shocked at how vehemently some of you greeted any suggestion of English nationalism. So, following a suggestion by reader Robert Schneck, here is a song for you all.
My blog is about one of my favourites: Puffer fish. I first got into puffer fish about 3 years ago when I purchased my first from a pet shop who knew nothing about him, he was a Tetraodon Suvattii, I bought him home and put him in my tank with my tropical fish. Ummm.... big mistake, as anyone who has ever kept them will know. He killed my entire tankful in one sitting and looking quite pleased with himself. So I thought I would write a little about these remarkable and quirky fish.
Puffer Fish Compatibility: One of the most frustrating things about puffer fish is that they usually cannot be kept with other puffer fish or anything smaller than they are as the other fish tend to get eaten !
Puffer Fish Are Poisonous!!!!!:A puffer fish's body contains a type of poison called Tetrodotoxin, this is also found in other species such as the blue –ringed octopus and cone snails. Tetrodotoxin is produced within the puffers by bacteria it gets from its diet, the puffer is immune to this poison due to a mutation in the protein sequence of the sodium ion channel on the cell membranes. It can be found in all the organs but mainly the liver, ovaries and skin.
Tetrodotoxin is an exceptionally lethal poison, which is said to be 100 times deadlier than potassium cyanide. It is a sodium channel blocker which paralyzes the muscles whilst the victim is fully conscious and slowly asphyxiates them, at present there is no antidote and is normally treated by trying to support the victims respiratory and circulatory system until the poison wears off.
Fugu is the Japanese word for puffer fish, and also the name of the dish created with its meat normally from the genus Didon i.e porpcupinefish, and is lethal if prepared wrongly hence fugu has now become one of the most notorious dishes in Japanese cuisine
A new drug is being developed called Tectin that is derived from Tetrodotoxin, it is a potent pain reliever, which if administered in tiny doses can help relieve the pain experienced from certain cancer sufferers. It is also being researched to see if it can help opiate suffers through withdrawl
It has always been something that has intrigued forteans, that weird stuff seems to form odd patterns of reality. I have been following these trends for years, but with the CFZ publications coming out quarterly at best it has not been as easy to document them as it is now we are doing what is basically a daily cryptomagazine it is easier to notice and to document these trends.
What they mean, if indeed they mean anything, I have no idea, and it is up to worthier toilers in the fortean vinyard than my humble self to try and extrapolate something of use from all this data.
However, the latest teratological trend seems to be multiple noses. In the past few weeks we have had bunny rabbits, various dogs and now an Israeli calf all with an extra schnozzle.
There is a cosmic intelligence behind the omniverse, and it is a cosmic intelligence with a particularly childish sense of humour, because this new trenche of oddities is obviously based on the crappy old music-hall joke about someone's dog having no nose. (How does it smell? Horrible!)
Karl Shuker was talking about dog deities the other week. I think we have come up with evidence that proves that his descrip[tions of Ancient Egyptian tenets of belief are spot on. In fact the Ancient Eqyptians were spot on. The Great Architect of the multiverse is obviously Basil Brush!
Me, Uncle Jon, Matthew, Max and Matthew’s girlfriend Emma went to a fish auction in Redditch, near Birmingham.
The journey was ok I suppose and Emma was mostly asleep on the way. There wasn’t much room in the car, and my whole foot was numb and Emma’s knees feet were numb as well, but we were mostly laughing all the way when Emma was not asleep. John and Mathew were singing some of the way, and it was more of a racket than singing so we thought that they could be the 1st on the top of the charts. We picked up Max at Bridgewater.
When we got there, there was a talk about discus and then it was the auction and it was great. We brought lots of fish, and then there was another talk and that was so boring but I watched it anyway. After that we came home. Emma was ill on the way back, and Jon and Matthew said she should stay awake, so I had to keep on poking Emma to stop her going to sleep. When we got home and put my fish into their tanks, and waited 1 hour so they could get used to the tank, and then we released them.
by Richard Freeman
We all know Saint George from Childhood stories. We imagine him as a bold knight in shining armour. Astride a white stallion and bearing a red cross on his shield. His battle with the dragon is retold again and again and is known to all school children.
It comes as quite a shock when we take a look at the real, historic Saint George. He was about as far from the legend as it is possible to get.
The man who was to become Saint George was born in the third century in a fuller’s shop in the city of Epiphania (now Hamath) in Syria. Little is known of his early life, but as an adult we know that he used servile flattery to climb the social ladder and gain a lucrative job providing the Roman army with bacon.
He amassed a large amount of money from dishonest and downright unscrupulous dealings. When this 3rd century, pork dealing Del Boy was found out, he had to flee to Libya to escape the wrath of his countrymen.
In Libya he converted to the heretical sect of Arianism, that denied the divinity of Christ. So zealous was he in his new religion that the Roman Emperor Constaninus sent George to Alexandria to become an Archbishop.
A cruel and greedy man he pillaged pagan temples and taxed both pagans and Christians beyond endurance. Finally the people had enough and rose up to overthrow him. The Emperor Constaninus reinstated George but when Emperor Julianas came to power Alexandria reverted to paganism.
George and two of his most ardent followers were thrown in prison and remained there for 24 days till and angry mob broke the doors down and beat the trio to death. Their carcasses were paraded triumphantly through the city and then tossed into the sea.
When the Arians finally re-entered the mainstream church they brought the ‘martyr’ with them and George was established as a saint by the 6th century.
Now things started to get silly. During the Crusades he was supposed to have resurrected and fought for Godfrey of Bouillion at the battle of Antioch and appeared to Richard the Lion Heart as a portent of victory.
The legend of George fighting a dragon was tacked on centuries after his death in order to make him seem braver and appealing. The story is an almost word-by-word rip-off of the Greek legend of Perseus rescuing Andromeda from the sea monster Cetus. The venue was change to the city of Selena in Libya and the sea into a marsh.
Though George had never set foot in England he became our patron saint in 1284 replacing the less ‘action packed’ Edward the Confessor. He is also the patron saint of Greece, Germany, Malta, Italy, farmers and horsemen.
Despite never having come to England, even in his fictional fight with the dragon, there are two English dragon legends associated with him. At Brinsop in Herefordshire Saint George supposedly slew a serpentine, well dwelling dragon. A twelfth century tympanum inside Brinsop church depicts this. At Dragon Hill, close to the famous White Horse Hill in Oxfordshire George is supposed to have slain a dragon whose blood burned the hilltop so no grass will grow there.
These anomalies are easily explained by the ‘christianization’ of earlier, pre-existing legends featuring local heroes. Another Saint who supposedly slew a dragon in a forest in Sussex was Saint Leonard. He was a Frankish nobleman who became a hermit. There is no evidence that he ever came to England. At Helston in Cornwall there was an ancient legend of a dragon who dropped a ball of fire just outside the town. It cooled down and formed a rock that is still there to this day. In later times the dragon was ‘christianized’ into the devil whom Saint Michael supposedly trapped under the rock.
I think if the real Saint George had ever met a genuine dragon he would have died of fright!
It’s biscuit of the week day and as I know how this is the highlight of some peoples week (no, seriously, I’ve actually had emails with biscuit requests and everything) I shall not preamble around: This week’s biscuit is the party ring, when I am feeling particularly rebellious I even dunk a party ring in a cuppa when not at an actual party! And now, the news:
Green about the gills
Rogue monkey enticed by crisps and fizzy drinks
Ants fitted with radio transmitters for scientific study
400-year-old mummified cat found in walls of cottage
Lonely lioness looks for love
I heard that she’s a tigress in the bedroom though.
Liz Clancy is a nice girl; one of those girls from an Enid Blyton book who always comes to the aid of those in trouble, or those whom she percieves as being unfairly maligned.
She saw Richard Freeman's St George's Day video from a few years back, and wrote to me:
"Hope you are okay. I saw Richard's St. George video recently on the site and also found this article the other day that was rather more complimentary of the saint so I thought it might be nice for the blog so both sides are presented. It's from Crusader Magazine, which is a Roman Catholic mag based in Manchester."
So, as I always do what pretty girls tell me to, here it is...