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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Monday, June 28, 2010

JON DOWNES: Happy Birthday Ray

Fame is a strange thing. These days it seems that people can be famous just for being famous,and half the people who have their Warholian fifteen minutes seem to have no talent or skill whatsoever, and certainly have done not one iota to change the world in any shape or form.

However, there are other people who are truly famous. People of skill, power and talent; people who have changed the world to a greater or lesser extent, and people who have changed our culture to the extent that life would not have been the same without them.

I haven't a clue who won the last series of Britain's got Talent, nor do I care, but in a journalistic career stretching back just over 30 years I have met a few of these cultural luminaries who, by their actions, their art or their craft, have changed the world to what we know today.

I have met two of Led Zeppelin. I have met Dave Brubeck. I met Bernard Heuvelmans. I have had a Christmas Card from Yoko Ono. But one wet February night in Exeter I met Ray Harryhausen. There is no big story attached. He was giving a lecture in an Exeter cinema one night and Richard and I went to see him. Afterwards I shook his hand and we went home again. We exchanged perhaps four words, and I am absolutely certain that he will not remember the fat hippy with a walking stick whom he briefly met that night six years ago. But I knew that I was in the presence of greatness. I was in the presence of the man who created Talos, Medusa and the fighting skeletons that sprung from the Hydra's teeth. He was the man who unlocked parts of my imagination that no-one else had ever reached, and - without knowing it - first set me on the path to look for monsters. From reading the tributes I have here today I find that he did the same for many other people.

Ray Harryhausen is 90 years old today and I have taken the unprecedented step of turning today's CFZ bloggo into a tribute to a man who unwittingly probably did more for the cause of cryptozoology than anyone else has ever realised.

Happy Birthday, Ray!


Dale Drinnon said...

Dammit Jon you should have mentioned it to me that you were planning this today.

I am also an admirer of Ray's and I use creatures similar to his designs in some of my fictional projects (I use Cynthia Myers as Sinbad but that's by the way) I have met the man also. I had a page of my cartoons showing Tyrannosaurs dressed up in various costumes (modern Greek guard with the ruffled skirt and pom-poms, ballerina, a cossack, etc) and I gave it to him to autograph. He signed the page and said "These are quite good.". High praise indeed and for which recomendation I am very grateful.

Nikolas Southwell said...

Ray is the man! Thanks for telling me that it's his birthday! I think thats cause for a celebratory reshowing of the First Men In The Moon!