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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Sunday, March 28, 2010

NAOMI WEST: Monsters - a softer side

For the past five years I have taught The Odyssey to my high school students. And each year I am intrigued by our textbook’s reprint of a painting depicting the Cyclops Polyphemus as a furry, long-necked creature with the soft, one-eyed gaze of a gentle pet.

This Cyclops strikes me as vulnerable, not the sort of creature that would snatch up men to eat them alive and drool pieces of them afterward in drunken hiccups.

Yesterday as my students were reading the gruesome scene with Polyphemus, I read the caption of the painting, which explained that its French artist, Odilon Redon, had wanted to portray a sympathetic cyclops.

This concept isn’t a complete fabrication: one of the most striking elements of the scene with Polyphemus is the gentleness he displays toward his sheep even as he gorges himself on men.

When the young Dawn with fingertips of rose
lit up the world, the Cyclops built a fire
and milked his handsome ewes, all in due order,
putting the sucklings to the mothers. Then,
his chores being all dispatched, he caught
another brace of men to make his breakfast,
and whisked away his great door slab
to let his sheep go through…

Upon each reading, I find myself oddly moved by the gentle shepherding of Polyphemus. The juxtaposition of his care for his sheep with his brutality toward Odysseus’s men leaves me feeling ambivalent and examining my own nature. While I am certainly not a cannibal or even a murderer, I understand feeling occasional hostility toward my fellow humans while caring deeply for animals. Most animal-lovers can attest to the same.

Beyond this common disillusionment with people, however, I find that I am slower than some to label any strange creature a 'monster.' What constitutes a monster? Something that kills and eats its food? That’s most of us but only people make a sport of it. Something that looks unfamiliar, like the Texas Blue Dog? In report after report, I hear the Blue Dogs described as 'ugly.' A man in Tennessee even stated, “It looks something out of ‘you know where’.” Assuming he meant hell, I observed a picture of the dog he had killed and tried to see what he was seeing. It was probably the fangs, the dark skin, the eyes shut tight against any possible expression of emotion. Still, I can’t see anything sinister in photographs or videos of live ones.

Then there were the paintings and drawings in Nick Redfern’s study, most of them of the Owlman/Mothman. Many of these in particular looked like something out of ‘you know where’ as well, but I found myself staring with a slight, unexpected affinity at one. It certainly wasn’t because of its demonically glowing red eyes; maybe it was the furriness of its form. There is something about fur that softens people toward a creature – and something about the lack thereof that does the opposite, as many dead Blue Dogs could attest to.

So, while I still can’t quite define what constitutes a monster, what makes one person shoot a Blue Dog while another feeds it food scraps, or what makes a part of me like the vicious Polyphemus, I finally came to terms with my feelings for the cyclops and purchased a reprint of the painting yesterday. He will soon be hanging in my study, which may be well on its way to bearing its own wall of 'monsters.'


Many condolences to regular bloggo reader and old pal of the CFZ Dave McMann on the death of his father. There is absolutely nothing I can say that will mke you feel any better, but having buried both my parents and my adopted mother in the last ten years I know how it feels mate, and the thoughts and prayers of us all are with you at this horribly difficult time.

It goes without saying that if there is anything we can do....

FRISWELLS FREAKY FEATURES: I don't wanna be buried in a Pet Semetary

Some months ago Alan Friswell, the bloke who made the CFZ Feegee Mermaid and also the guy responsible for some of the most elegantly macabre bloggo postings, wrote me an email. He had an idea for a new series for the bloggo. Quite simply, he has an enormous collection of macabre, fortean, odd and disturbing magazine and newspaper articles, and he proposed to post them up on the bloggo.


We all feel a great sense of loss when a beloved pet dies--it really is like losing a member of the family. And in that spirit, these tiny coffins for birds might not--to some people anyway--come across as being inappropriate, or in bad taste. It’s matter for the individual, one might say.

Stephen King related a true story in his book Danse Macabre, originally told by crooner Bing Crosby. One of Bing’s sons owned a pet turtle, and one morning the creature was found dead in its box. The boy was inconsolable, and in an attempt to distract his son, Bing suggested that the family hold a proper funeral for the deceased pet, with all the trimmings.

Bing found a cigar box, lined it with a piece of silk and laid the turtle inside with due reverence. The family dressed in black and after placing the tiny coffin into an open grave in the garden, Bing sung a heartfelt hymn.

His son was overjoyed at this event and his eyes were bright with wonder. As Bing was about to fill in the miniature grave, the ‘coffin’ began to move. Bing opened the box to find the turtle alive and well. His son took one look at the ‘resurrected’ turtle, and said: "Let’s kill it!”


Lindsay S sent me this at the beginning of the week. Most strange. Comments please....

PAUL CROPPER: Fish fall source material

Our old friend Paul Cropper has kindly collected a number of press reports (11 A4 pages of them) of the recent Northern Territory case plus some other recent fall stories. You can download them from the CFZ archives http://www.cfz.org.uk/Archiving/FishFall.pdf

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1948 Harry Price died. Price is best known in the Fortean/paranormal world for his investigations in the fields of ghosts and psychic phenomena, especially for his reopening, reform and presidency of the Ghost Club and his book The Most Haunted House in England about Borley Rectory, which remains to this day one of the most written about ghost sightings in the world, perhaps only surpassed by the Enfield poltergeist and the post-mortem adventures of pilots Repo and Loft.

For more info on Harry Price why not check out his wikipedia page:

And now, the news:

Nessie in Italian attic mystery
Theme park offers snake massages
Zookeeper injured in head-butt with giraffe
Pit bull rips bumper off US police car
Help, my chair is eating my spaniel