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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Unlike some of our competitors we are not going to try and blackmail you into donating by saying that we won't continue if you don't. That would just be vulgar, but our lives, and those of the animals which we look after, would be a damn sight easier if we receive more donations to our fighting fund. Donate via Paypal today...

Monday, June 14, 2010


RICHARD FREEMAN: The Monsters of Prague #19

The Turkish Dog
There once lived a Turk on Vysehrad Hill. He intended to marry a girl called Liduska, the daughter of a ferryman called Matej. However, he refused to enter a Catholic church and stuck his tongue out at the priest. He called the cleric a heretic and an unbelieving dog. As a punishment he was changed into a vast black dog with glowing red eyes. The phantom hound still haunts the area between Marian Chapel and the new gate.


As regular readers will know, just over a week ago Dave B-P, Max and I went to Redditch in the West Midlands where we bought some rare and unusual livebearers including this little fellow (and his five companions). This is Scolichthys greenwayi, a small fish from the Rio Chixoy and Rio Salinas system in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.

Well, much to our great pleasure they have bred already and hopefully will continue to do so. This makes eight species of livebearers succesfully bred at casa CFZ during 2010 so far.

By the way, if anyone wants to collect them, we have surplus Girardinus metallicus (yellow form) and Heterandaria formosa....

ALAN FRISWELL: The Real Twilight


After having a quick look at the visual contents of this particular blog, I can well imagine the feverish, if not positively reproachful responses from at least some of you:

“Oh, I see, Friswell’s found yet another excuse to stick pictures of half-naked, big-breasted women up on the CFZ site, and potentially lesbian ones to boot! For shame, Friswell, for shame!!” But in fact, nothing could be further from the truth, honest... ahem...

For all of these particular images are perfectly in keeping with the subject under review, which happens to be the world of both mythical, theatrical and more intriguingly, factual vampires, a theme of some relevance to both CFZ readers and Fortean enthusiasts.

Most vampire fans would be content to curl up on the sofa with a box set of Buffy, and a bag of Monster Munch, but not Arlene Russo. Her profound fascination with all things undead inspired her to take the almost unprecedented step of writing and publishing her own independent vampire magazine, Bite Me. Far from being an ‘indie’ fanzine, Bite Me is a highly professional, glossy publication, worthy of a major publisher. Arlene is practically a one-woman industry, writing, editing and advertising Bite Me for its ten-year, twenty-issue run.
Arlene is no stranger to the CFZ, having interviewed no less a luminary than our own -- and very gothic -- Richard Freeman for Bite Me # 13. Recently Arlene has ventured into the area of her first love -- writing books in which she explores the themes of vampire lore, from its relevance in both a historical and folkloric context, to its modern-day interpretations through popular culture, and its possible place in an ever-more protean and bizarre society.

Arlene’s first book, Vampire Nation, was published in 2008. Her new work, The Real Twilight is hot on the shelves right now. Arlene was kind enough to grant me an interview in which she discusses her new book, and the vampire mythos in general.

Alan: Did you first develop your interest in vampires from film and TV, or somewhere else?

Arlene: It is all thanks to the good old Hammer horror movies! I have to thank my mother for letting me stay up late to watch the Hammer horror double bills when I was 10.

Alan: Had you always wanted to publish a magazine?

Arlene: Yes, but not on vampires! I started planning a magazine guide to Glasgow and developed a detailed plan for that. Somehow vampires took over... see next answer...

Alan: How did Bite Me magazine originally get off the ground?

Arlene: A chance visit to the world's biggest Dracula convention in the USA to celebrate the centenary of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1997 sparked the whole idea for Bite me. After four non-stop days of meeting famous authors, Hammer horror film stars and an assortment of vampire retailers, I decided my mission was to return to Scotland and establish a magazine, uniting fans of the book from around the world. It just grew from there. At this point it was meant to be a fanzine but over time I decided I wanted it to look like a glossy magazine that could sit comfortably in shop shelves.

Alan: Writing and publishing an independent mag is difficult enough with a team of people; how did you manage to do it by yourself?

Arlene: With great difficulty. Not recommended!

Alan: Vampire legends are a part of worldwide customs and folklore. Do you think that, from a historical point of view, all of these tales are simply a product of superstition, or could there be some truth behind the mythology?

Arlene: I think for an entity to have inspired so many legends there must have been some sort of basis in reality, even if the reality is far removed from the legend.

Alan: Of all the perennially famous ‘monsters’; Frankenstein, werewolves, zombies, etc, vampires are unique in their sexual attractiveness to us humans. Could this be one of the main reasons for their enduring appeal, in that a part of us finds both them, and their lifestyle desirable?

Arlene: Well, vampires are a lot easier on the eye than werewolves that's for sure! Essentially, vampires are eternally youthful and what is not attractive about that?

Alan: Do you think that there has been some form of cultural change in the evolution of the vampire, from Max Schreck in NOSFERATU, to the more ‘cute’ bloodsuckers in productions like BUFFY and TWILIGHT?

Arlene: Well, there have always been cute vampires - e.g. The Lost Boys, although perhaps not on the mass hysteria level of Twilight but then we live in a different era now where thanks to social networking sites etc. it is much easier to generate hype and encourage this sort of mass hysteria with all sorts of viral campaigns.

Alan: Do you have a favourite ‘old school’ vampire from the days of Universal and Hammer?

Arlene: Any vampire portrayed by Christopher Lee. I am a bit biased towards him....

Alan: Is it possible that some of the more ‘recent’ legends have any basis in reality--the Croglin or Highgate vampires for example?

Arlene: Again I would say that such dominant legends as this are more likely to have had some sort of basis on an actual incident as opposed to mere imagination.

Alan: You new book, THE REAL TWILIGHT treats vampires with a certain sympathy. Do you believe that these creatures may--at least in some part--have been unnecessarily demonised down through the years?

Arlene: Well, you only have to say you like vampire movies and books and a lot of folk view you with suspicion, never mind admitting you are a vampire! But most vampires abide by consensual rules so they do not pose a threat to society in general and folk would be better paying attention to the more real threats from general everyday crime for example.

Alan: Would you accept the possible existence of ‘psychic vampires’, who drain emotional energy, as opposed to those who exist on corporeal fluids?

Arlene: Psychic vampires argue they are every bit as relevant as the more traditional blood-drinking vampire.

Alan: With the recent popularity of teen vampires, do you think that the days of scary, monstrous vampires are pretty much over, and the ‘Hollyoaks with fangs’ theme has replaced the more gothic horrors of German impressionism and Christopher Lee?

Arlene: I hope not! Let's see scary vampires again please! I was watching Nosferatu the Vampyre the other night with Klaus Kinski- my, THAT is a scary vampire!

Alan: Is it possible that modern-day vampires can be accepted as an authentic social group, or will they be always perceived as being outsiders?

Arlene: I think ideally they would like a greater acceptance and to not always be viewed with immediate suspicion. I think over time they will be viewed less as outsiders but like all things, this will take time.

THE REAL TWILIGHT: True Stories of Modern Day Vampires by Arlene

'For real vampires there is no hype, no fad, it is a destiny that calls them, it is something in their blood.'

With the release of the TWILIGHT novels and the subsequent films, vampire mania has swept the country. Yet they are fiction. What about the real thing? ARLENE RUSSO, the UK’s foremost vampire expert and founder of Bite Me magazine, has interviewed dozens of real-life creatures of the night for this book about the modern day vampire. Alongside these interviews Arlene has talked to some of the world’s great Dracula scholars about the history of the vampire (for example, the legend of Robin Hood may be based on a vampire)

Working from the premise that vampires do exist she looks at the nature of their appeal concluding that because the vampire embodies feelings of romance, mystery and power in a cold and computerised world, we are drawn to them. Also, as our culture become ever more technological so the vampire’s appeal can only grow. Equally intriguing in a society obsessed with looks and beauty, the vampire doesn’t age but remains frozen at its most youthful. Finally we are drawn to the idea of living forever, which would allow us to do all those things we ever wanted but didn’t have time for, whether it be travel the world or learn several languages.

Arlene dispels myths including the one that vampires are heartless predators. In fact 'true vampires do not need to kill at all and instead cultivate a relationship with their donor, thus ensuring a regular supply of blood.' Nor are they afraid of the sun or garlic. And they don’t bite their victims.…

Combining anecdotes, personal experiences and research, THE REAL TWILIGHT is an exhaustive study of true vampires and every aspect of their culture.

Only £4.68 from Amazon and eligible for free shipping

LINDSAY SELBY: Caddy Conundra

Two well documented sightings of Caddy were in 1932 and 1933. F. W. Kemp, an officer of the Provincial Archives of British Columbia, revealed that he and his family had seen a strange creature in strait of Juan de Fuca and Major W. H. Langley, clerk to the British Columbia legislature, reported that on Sunday, October 1, 1933, while sailing near Chatham Island, just east of Victoria, he and his wife had also seen something odd.

Rupert T. Gould wrote about the two sightings in his book The Loch Ness Monster in 1934. The pages below are from the 1976 reprint by University Books USA. (I am middle-aged and not ancient enough to have a 1934 copy lol).The accounts would have still been quite fresh at the time and so would be a reasonably accurate account of what they thought they saw.

What I find interesting is they both sound like giant eels. One mentions a mane, which is often mentioned in other accounts of similar sightings and also a hissing sound. Both say it was not a whale nor any known sea creature that they saw. It, certainly from the descriptions, could not be a giant squid, which is often cited as being the cause of many sea serpent sightings, nor an oar fish as it is too thick and solid. Lets just hope what ever it was is not now extinct due to pollution or lack of food sources!

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 2002 the asteroid 2002NM missed colliding with the Earth by only 120,000 km. That might sound like a big distance but it is only about one third of the distance between earth and the moon making it the second nearest miss by a large object in recorded history. I should be covering a direct hit a bit later this month, provided I remember….

And now, the news:

Wallabies set up home in Cornwall
Navymen don't have to log sightings of Nessie's cousins
Museum staging a monster exhibition
Malaysian airport staff rescue smuggled tortoises

Hopefully the smugglers will get a prison sentence or at least have to ‘shell’ out a large fine.