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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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Friday, December 25, 2009

PROS AND CONS OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY

So, we have a white Christmas for the first time (for me at least) since the late 1970s. The Myrtle Cottage garden looks like something from a slightly seedy Christmas card, but the sun is shining and the birds are singing, the churchbells are ringing, and I have just passed a minor rite of passage: although she is 22, not 6, I have just watched my stepdaughter open her Christmas stocking for the first time. Such moments as that are truly precious, and make me even more emotional than I usually am on Christmas morning.

Because it is at times like this that I miss my parents most. For my childhood Christmasses were as nice as my adult ones have been (mostly) horrid, until I met Corinna that is. I even released a song seven years ago detailing my attempts to drink myself to death one particularly miserable Yuletide, but that is another story. I feel particularly sorry for Corinna at this time, because although she has the joyous bits of having her children here (Olivia and Ivan are here now, and Shosh and Gavin are coming down early in the New Year), it is particularly hard for her because the day before yesterday was the second anniversary of her father's tragic death. I also feel sorry for the Braund-Phillip clan, and Lorraine Braund. This is their first Christmas without Marjorie. The toast of `absent friends` always feels particularly poignant at this time of year.

To add to the smorgsbord of emotions which surrounds what is euphemistically described as the `Festive Season` (can I get away with my annual joke about being a fat, bearded man with an interest in the contents of stockings? Probably not), in the wee small hours this morning, just after saying goodnight to Olivia and Ivan, Corinna, Biggles and I went to bed to find water pouring through our bedroom ceiling. It was raining last night and the ice melted far quicker than usual and must have split something. We put a bucket underneath, and eventually the flow dried up - thankfully without the increasingly beleagured ceiling collapsing.

Because Christmastide is a time when most people retreat into their own families for a few days and ignore the rest of the world, it is hard to remember that the world keeps on turning, and stuff keeps on happening whether or not the vast majority of the population of these islands is tucking into their figgy pudding. The CFZ continues doing what we do - there are animals to feed, blogs to write, and new websites to design, and later on the Arnarchist Social Workers go into Bideford to collect Noella so she can come out here for the festivities.

I would like to thank Richard, Graham, Dave B-P and Max for all they do for the CFZ. I would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the last year, but even more I would like to thank the team without whom I could not do this blog every day. I would like to thank all the contributors, but in particular Gavin Lloyd Wilson, Oliver Lewis, Lizzy Clancy, Richard Muirhead and above all my darling wife Corinna. You, my love, are the only reason I get out of bed in the mornings, so in a very real sense there would be no blog if it weren't for you.

So my dears, I am off to open Christmas presents, and more importantly watch Olivia and Corinna open theirs. May all readers of these inky fingered scribblings have a Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous 2010.

Slainte

Jon

LINDSAY SELBY: Official Guidance on Christmas songs and carols

The Rocking Song

Little Jesus, sweetly sleep, do not stir;
We will lend a coat of fur,
We will rock you, rock you, rock you,
We will rock you, rock you, rock you:

Fur is no longer appropriate wear for small infants, both due to risk of allergy to animal fur, and for ethical reasons. Therefore faux fur, a nice cellular blanket or perhaps micro-fleece material should be considered a suitable alternative.

Please note, only persons who have been subject to a Criminal Records Bureau check and have enhanced clearance will be permitted to rock baby Jesus. Persons must carry their CRB disclosure with them at all times and be prepared to provide three forms of identification before rocking commences.

Jingle Bells

Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way

A risk assessment must be submitted before an open sleigh is considered safe for members of the public to travel on. The risk assessment must also consider whether it is appropriate to use only one horse for such a venture, particularly if passengers are of larger proportions. Please note, permission must be gained from landowners before entering their fields. To avoid offending those not participating in celebrations, we would request that laughter is moderate only, and not loud enough to be considered a noise nuisance.

While Shepherds Watched

While shepherds watched
Their flocks by night
All seated on the ground
The angel of the Lord came down
And glory shone around

The union of Shepherds has complained that it breaches health and safety regulations to insist that shepherds watch their flocks without appropriate seating arrangements being provided. Therefore, benches, stools and orthopaedic chairs are now available. Shepherds have also requested that due to the inclement weather conditions at this time of year, they should watch their flocks via cctv cameras from centrally-heated sheep-observation huts.
Please note, the angel of the lord is reminded that before shining his / her glory all around she / he must ascertain that all shepherds have been issued with glasses capable of filtering out the harmful effects of UVA, UVB and Glory.

Little Donkey

Little donkey, little donkey on the dusty road
Got to keep on plodding onwards with your precious load

The RSPCA have issued strict guidelines with regard to how heavy a load that a donkey of small stature is permitted to carry, also included in the guidelines is guidance regarding how often to feed the donkey and how many rest breaks are required over a four hour plodding period. Please note that due to the increased risk of pollution from the dusty road, Mary and Joseph are required to wear face masks to prevent inhalation of any airborne particles. The donkey has expressed his discomfort at being labelled 'little' and would prefer just to be simply referred to as Mr. Donkey. To comment upon his height or lack thereof may be considered an infringement of his equine rights.

We Three Kings

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

Whilst the gift of gold is still considered acceptable - as it may be redeemed at a later date through such organisations as 'cash for gold' etc, gifts of frankincense and myrrh are not appropriate due to the potential risk of oils and fragrances causing allergic reactions. A suggested gift alternative would be to make a donation to a worthy cause in the recipients name or perhaps give a gift voucher.

We would not advise that the traversing kings rely on navigation by stars in order to reach their destinations and suggest the use of RAC routefinder or satellite navigation, which will provide the quickest route and advice regarding fuel consumption. Please note as per the guidelines from the RSPCA for Mr Donkey, the camels carrying the three kings of Orient will require regular food and rest breaks. Facemasks for the three kings are also advisable due to the likelihood of dust from the camels hooves.

Rudolph the red nosed reindeer

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.

You are advised that under the Equal Opportunities for All policy, it is inappropriate for persons to make comment with regard to the ruddiness of any part of Mr. R. Reindeer. Further to this, exclusion of Mr R Reindeer from the Reindeer Games will be considered discriminatory and disciplinary action will be taken against those found guilty of this offence. A full investigation will be implemented and sanctions - including suspension on full pay - will be considered whilst this investigation takes place.

OLL LEWIS: 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology - ADAM DAVIES

Answering the questions today is Adam Davies. Adam Davies is an expedition leader and veteran of several cryptozoological expeditions to locations that include the Congo, Mongolia, Sumatra and Russia, hooking up with the CFZ on recent expeditions. So, Adam Davies, here are your 5 questions on… Cryptozoology:

How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

When I was about 10 or 11 I first read accounts of Stanley's expeditions in Africa (1871). I became fascinated by the ideas of exploration and adventure. I also used to go tracking animals, especially in the Peak District, not far from where I live. Then when I was 14 I saw Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World series. On it Professor Roy Mackal was mounting an expedition to look for the Mokele-Membe, the Congo dinosaur. I decided that I could combine my passion and my aspiration by going to look for it. So I did.

2) Have you ever personally seen a cryptid or secondary evidence of a cryptid, if so can you please describe your encounter?

Yes. I saw the Seljord Serpent in Norway. At that moment I felt like Captain Ahab and would have jumped on its back and ridden the thing if I could have! One of the most striking things about it is that it looks just like a medieval woodcut, even down to the barbs on its back. Very strange.

I have found numerous tracks of the Orang-Pendek, heard it call, gathered its hair; all of which has been scientifically analysed ect etc. I’ve never seen the damn thing yet though. It owes me a cabaret, man, after all the times I have been after the damn thing….

3)Which cryptids do you think are the most likely to be scientifically discovered and described some day, and why?

The two above, for obvious reasons. I am also aware that the Chinese are doing some serious credible lake monster research. Out of left field, a Yeti , maybe in Bhutan or India.

4) Which cryptids do you think are the least likely to exist?

Sadly, the Loch Ness monster. I dropped a hydrophone in the water there. Ex-military kit, and got zilch. I would rather be wrong than right, but I don’t think so.

5) If you had to pick your favourite cryptozoological book (not including books you may have written yourself) what would you choose?

I want to expand the question if I may. Heuvelmans is an obvious choice but its rather like the `Bible and Shakespeare` on Desert Island discs for me. I read a lot, and what I read depends on my mood or what I am using it for. So if I can narrow it down to favourites – I have used Loren Coleman (with Patrick Huyghe) and Karl Shuker's works on effective field research. I like a laugh and a beer with Nick Redfern!

RICHARD FREEMAN: GET THE BBC TO RELEASE `FABULOUS ANIMALS` IN 2010

One of the most influential things (apart from Dr Who) that sent me on the road to being a cryptozoologist was David Attenborough's 1975 series Fabulous Animals. This was a great six-part children’s series on cryptozoology. Each episode tackled a different subject such as sea monsters, dragons, unicorns and ape men. There was also a BBC book that accompanied the show. I still have mine (albeit in a very poor state of repair) but it turns up on E-BAY sometimes.

The show was studio-bound with Sir Dave surrounded by fossils, paintings and ancient books like Edward Topsell's History of Four Footed Beasts and Serpents. There were great pieces of film such as Dave hunting Komodo dragons in Zoo Quest.

Most of David Attenborough's TV shows have been released. But not so Fabulous Animals. I wrote to the BBC last year to see if there were any plans for a DVD release but apparently there were not.

The British public pay their TV licence and fund the BBC. Ergo those programmes are ours, they belong to us, and we should be able to see them whenever we want! This is ever more acute with the sewage that pollutes our TV screens these days.

I hereby start a campaign to get the BBC to release Fabulous Animals as a DVD in 2010.
I urge all CFZ followers to write to the BBC asking for them to release this excellent show, which has languished for too long in the musty vaults of Television Centre.

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM ALAN FRISWELL

Here's my weird Christmas card, for those who can appreciate such things. The figure is actually a prop from a proposed M.R. James-type ghost story that I was trying to get off the ground a few years ago, and as James is the master of the Christmas ghost story, I thought that it would be somewhat appropriate.

So to the CFZ people: the bloggers, the readers, supporters, and all those who think that the natural world is worth caring about, have a fantastic Christmas, and may all your best dreams come true in the New Year.

All the best,

Alan

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all have a great day and that all your Christmas wishes come true (particularly if they involved getting those little sausages wrapped in bacon as part of Christmas dinner; whoever first came up with those was a genius).
On this day in 1968 Apollo 8 re-entered the Earth’s gravitational field and set a trajectory back to earth. This is also the day that, in 2003, contact was lost with Britain’s Beagle 2 probe, a project that had been built almost entirely on money acquired from non-governmental sources and hoped to establish the presence of life on Mars. Had the project worked it would have probably ushered in a new era of space exploration and experimentation not funded by nation states and at much lower costs.


Russia plans to send a monkey to Mars
Kids' Chef Serves Up Treat For Fussy Lemur
Not again! Giant Swedish Christmas goat statue gets torched
Is 'Giant George', the 7ft long Blue Great Dane, the word's biggest dog?
Man jailed for eating rare tiger

What’s a tiger’s favourite Christmas song?
‘Jungle’ bells.