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!

CORINNA DOWNES: Turn to stone

I am not too sure how old I was when I first saw Jason and the Argonauts but as I was around 7 when it came out, I probably saw it on TV some years later. I do vaguely remember going to see Clash of the Titans at the cinema though. Of course, I have seen both – and other movies that Ray Harryhausen has provided the creatures for – many times, but it is these two films that linger in my memory the most due to the following models that captivated me then, and still do so whenever I see the films.

Firstly, the children of the hydra’s teeth - skeletal warriors rising from the dusty earth armed with shields and weapons - in Jason and the Argonauts. A mesmerising sequence of artistry that had me spellbound the first time I saw it - their wicked grins beaming as they parried blows and attacked with such fluid dexterity in their bony frames. I can remember wanting to go outside and plant some myself! In fact I probably still would given half the chance – and some hydra’s teeth of course, which may well prove a problem.

And in Clash of the Titans, there is dear old Medusa with the writhing mass of unkempt and unruly ‘hair’ stalking Perseus amongst the columns with her bow and arrow. Such a miserable looking old crone, but then again who wouldn’t be if every day was a bad hair day; after all it must have been quite uncomfortable sporting such a topknot. But she was magnificent nevertheless and it is no wonder that a lot of women name Medusa as the female who most epitomises what women’s rage looks like! And by the look on Harry Hamlin’s face I think he would probably have agreed.

Happy birthday, Mr Harryhausen. Thanks for the memories of all your monsters and these in particular.

ALAN FRISWELL: Happy Birthday Ray

In attempting to write a birthday greeting to Ray, I have to admit that it’s very difficult to know where to start. I could try to put into words what Ray and his films have meant to me, and the magic spell that he has cast over my life, but then I would have enough words to fill a whole book, and I don’t have that much space.

So perhaps the following story will be enough to illustrate why Ray means as much to me as he does.

I discovered stop-motion at the age of four, when my parents sat me in front of a Christmas screening of King Kong (1933). At that tender age, I had no idea of how the movie was made, but I knew that I had discovered something magical and fantastic, and while some might say that I was perhaps a little young to realise one’s great interest and fascination in life, I don’t believe that you are ever too young or too old to experience an epiphany, because believe me, that’s what it was.

Directly because of Kong, I became deeply interested--and that’s a euphemism--obsession is probably a more accurate word--in ‘effects films’, as my dad called them, monsters in general, and dinosaurs in particular. I would sit for hours making plasticine models of Kong and various dinosaurs, placing them onto a wooden base that my dad made for me, and built up quite a collection of both dinosaur books and ‘monster magazines’, principally the wonderful Famous Monsters of Filmland.

At the age of six, my parents took me to see a re-issue of One Million Years BC, and although my mum and dad told me: “It’s a dinosaur film, you’ll like it.”, I had no idea of what I was about to encounter.

I was in shock for about three days. To see animals that looked exactly like those that I had seen in my dinosaur books, and in living colour, was an awesome, haunting experience. To see them moving around with such realism and dynamic power, was almost beyond belief.

I had never heard of Ray Harryhausen before then, but I regularly noticed his name in the monster magazines, and started to study what he was up to very closely. As I began to catch up with Ray’s films both in the cinema and on TV, I realised what I wanted to do with my life. When I announced to my parents that I was going to be the next Ray Harryhausen, they didn’t--bless ‘em--tell me to get a grip and be sensible. They encouraged my interests, by taking me on trips to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs, re-screenings of One
Million Years BC
and Gwangi, and buying me supplies of plasticine, plaster of Paris and--when I was old enough not to spill it all over the floor--latex rubber. When I was eleven, my dad bought me a back-issue of a British fantasy/horror magazine called Supernatural. In the back pages, was a large interview with Ray, in which he discussed Gwangi, Sinbad, and described some of his technical processes. I decided to contact the editor, in the hope that he would send me Ray’s address so I could write him a fan letter. The editor replied--quite
correctly--that he could not reveal Ray’s address, but if I sent my letter care of the National Film Theatre, it would probably be passed on to him. So with some help from my dad, I scribbled it out, saying the usual stuff; that I was a great fan, and that I wanted to be an animator etc, etc, enclosing two drawings of an allosaurus and
megalosaur. My parents warned me that Ray was obviously a very busy man, who receives fan mail all the time, and that he might not have time to answer. But I lived in hope, even including my phone number in the letter, and posted it off.

Two weeks later, I received a phone call from Ray’s wife Diana. I nearly passed out. She told me that Ray had loved my letter and drawings, and that although he was currently in America, he would be home the next week, and I would be welcome to ring him for a chat.

The next week came, and to put it delicately, I was passing bricks. At that age, I had no idea whatsoever of what to say to someone who had completely coloured and inspired my childhood. In fact, I might have lost my bottle entirely, had it not been for my mum, who effectively ‘dared’ me to call him. So I stormed out into the passage, and dialled the number almost without thinking. It was Ray who answered.

I think Ray knew instinctively that I was terrified, because he put me at ease immediately. I told him about my ambitions and dreams, and through it all, I felt like I was talking to an old friend. I didn’t realise at the time, but Ray was up to his ears in work, on Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, I think, but he spoke to me for nearly three quarters of an hour, patiently listening to an eleven-year-old banging on about building plasticine dinosaurs, and his hopes of being Dagenham’s premier stop-motion animator.

Through all this, Ray was incredibly encouraging, stressing the need to experiment and endlessly practice any and all aspects of special effects techniques, and I told him how difficult it was to get some things right. Ray answered with this, and I’ve never forgotten it. He said:

“Always be ready to make mistakes, always be ready to get it wrong. In fact, always be ready to fail, because that’s the nature of the process. But the one thing you should never be ready to do is give up, because that’s not what your life is about. Your life is about making your dreams come true, and absolutely refusing to let mistakes and problems stand between you and what you want. The more you practice and experiment, the better you’ll get, and the key to it, is to never lose your dreams, and never lose your imagination.”

I think if an adult had heard those words, it would have been pretty amazing, but I was eleven when Ray Harryhausen said that to me, and I felt like Moses receiving the Ten Commandments.

I took what Ray said, and my subsequent ambitions, very seriously. I did manage to achieve my dream and work in stop-motion, and--CGI notwithstanding--I hope that I will continue to do so.

You can’t possibly repay a whole childhood, and many adult years filled with wonder, magic and inspiration, but I can certainly thank Ray for being one of the most important people in my life, and one of the main reasons why my life has been happy.

And so, from your eleven-year-old ‘pupil’ who never lost the faith, and the Alan that he became, have a very happy birthday, and thank you Ray, thank you for everything.

MIKE HALLOWELL: The Empire Cinema Club, Jarrow

When I was a kid, there were two cinemas in my hometown of Jarrow. The most popular was the Empire. In fact, I was a proud member of the Empire Club, which cost one shilling to join. Proof of membership was a small, circular, yellow plastic badge with the words "The Empire Club" engraved upon it in red. As a member of the Empire Club I was allowed to attend matinees on a Saturday morning. It cost sixpence to get in, and all badge-holders got a free bag of sweets with their ticket.

The Empire Club matinee was two and one-half hours of great fun. The compere was a rather rotund chap called Uncle Tom, who wore a bowler hat and a tweed jacket. His niece, I think – her name escapes me – was his co-presenter and at some point in the proceedings would sing stuff from The Sound of Music. She had the voice of an angel.

The highlight of the Empire Club whilst it lasted was the showing of a black-and-white series called Danny the Dragon, which starred Sally Thomsett and the late, great, Jack Wild. God knows who played the dragon, which was some dude in a rubber suit. Richard Freeman would have loved it. I was sure that the series also starred Pauline Quirke (later of Birds of a Feather fame), but I can't find her credited anywhere. Maybe my memory is playing tricks on me.

At various intervals during the show, competitions would be held and loads of prizes distributed. No one could have tempted me away from the Empire Club on a Saturday morning. No one, that is, except Raymond Frederick Harryhausen.

The other cinema in Jarrow at the time was the Regal in Grange Road. The Regal – unjustifiably nicknamed "the Flea Pit" by some – was where the Big Kids went. The Big Kids were youthful Jarrovians who had graduated from Danny the Dragon and its ilk, and were now exposing themselves to much scarier productions. To Empire Club members the Regal was a dark, brooding edifice. Not only was it the meeting place of Big Kids, it was also – quelle horreur – a place which attracted Rough Kids. Our parents didn't mind us going to the Empire, but the Regal was out of bounds.

One morning in 1966, when I was ten years old, two friends of mine came up with a daring plan. We would tell our parents that we were off to the Empire as usual, but in reality we'd sneak off to the Regal. My stomach turned at the suggestion. What if the Big Kids got us? Or worse, the Rough Kids that our parents repeatedly warned us about? John, who was twelve, explained to us that we simply had to take the chance, for the Regal was showing "the monster film".

Kerry and I stood in stunned silence. We'd heard of "the monster film", but never for one moment contemplated that we'd ever get to see it. There were rumours that it was a colour film, too; which we found hard to believe, after watching Danny the Dragon in glorious monochrome. In a fit of daring I decided to take the chance.

At 9.45 the three of us were proceeding down Grange Road – in an orderly manner, your Worships – and eventually the display board of the Regal hove into view. The words Jason and the Argonauts loomed large, as large, looming things are wont to do. Kerry, who was thirteen but looked older, purchased three tickets. Two were for "her friends" who'd be coming later, she fibbed. The woman in the ticket booth obviously thought her friends would of an age which permitted them entrance, and not two urchins barely out of nappies. John and I crouched in a recess and waited until the woman in the booth was distracted. Then we ran inside, and Kerry gave us our tickets. Somehow we circumnavigated the guy who tore your ticket in half at the top of the stairs, and suddenly found ourselves in the belly of the beast. This was it, then; there was no going back. It was dark, save for the light emanating from the screen. A swirling miasma of colours assaulted our eyes as the universally familiar, nah-nah-nah-nah nahnah of the Pearl and Dean commercials rattled around the building. We took our seats, and waited for Jason and the Argonauts to begin.

And so, dear reader, this was how my relationship with Raymond Frederick Harryhausen began. For ninety minutes or so – save an ice-cream and toilet break at the interval – I watched, enthralled, as all sorts of deities and demons went about their business.

The greatest surprise of all, though, was the blind prophet Phineas. There was something about him that I found deeply familiar, and after a few minutes it struck me. Flaming heck, I thought, its him! Phineas was actually Doctor Who! Readers should bear in mind that my childhood was, like most others, wrapped in a mantle of innocence which is largely non-existent now. It was perfectly respectable for ten year-olds to believe that Doctor Who was a real person who put himself about the universe a bit in a very real Tardis. Imagine my surprise, then, when I realised that the good Doctor was masquerading as this blind geezer Phineas. What was going on? Wasn't it only a week ago that he'd been on Skaro mixing it with the Daleks? Later, I found out that Phineas and the Doctor were both Patrick Troughton, and that although Patrick Troughton was real Phineas and the Doctor were not. To this very day I should still be having counselling for the trauma this revelation foisted upon me.

Seriously though, I was never the same after watching Jason and the Argonauts. It made me grow up.

People laud Ray Harryhausen as the grandfather of an entire generation of stop-animation movies, but personally I don't think they do him justice. Ray Harryhausen didn't just patron a genre – he IS the genre. To this day, no one has successfully captured or created monsters with stop-frame animation in the same way that Ray can. As the Harpies descended upon poor Phineas, and Jason and his shipmates bravely fought them off, a cacophony of oohs and aahs reverberated around the Flea Pit. Even the Big Kids and the Rough Kids were enchanted by this cinematic magic.

The thing I like about the classic Harryhausen monsters is the way they jerk almost imperceptibly when they are in motion. As a child, I never once thought that this was due to the technical limitations Ray had to work with. Monsters jerked as they moved because that's what real monsters did, I presumed.

To this day I still can't resist watching Jason and the Argonauts, the 7th Voyage of Sinbad et al without being mentally catapulted back to my youth. Ray's films rarely had megastars in the cast, but neither did they employ third-rate wannabe actors. They never achieved the status of Ben Hur, but they did possess all the allure of later CGI blockbusters like Alien and Terminator.

As a young 'un I never once questioned why the women on far-flung ancient isles wore lipstick and spoke with either a New York brogue or, sometimes, Thames Estuary English. In the fantasy world of Raymond Frederick Harryhausen there were no anomalies, no inconsistencies. Anything went, and everything fitted nicely.

Ray Harryhausen is a legend himself. I hope he has a very happy birthday. The Empire and the Regal have long gone, but Raymond Frederick Harryhausen is still with us. Long may he prosper, and may whatever deities he worships protect him from the Harpies.


I first came across Ray Harryhausen’s work many years ago when “Earth vs. The Flying Saucers” was broadcast on television. At that time I was still young and impressionable, but Harryhausen’s animation struck me as stunning. Though clearly, thought I, an old film (being in monochrome, as it is), the animation seemed vastly younger than the rest of the film. The scene where the flying saucer flies over the car along the great flat roads of the American deserts was burnt into my mind for years afterward as I tried to find out the name of the film (being broadcast on BBC they did not play short intros to the film after advert breaks because there were none), as was the classic scene depicting the aliens frying a group of soldiers with a heat ray.

Though the flying saucers were easier to animate than puppets and dolls used in his other films, Harryhausen also animated the falling masonry seen repeatedly when the saucers attack buildings or crash into them. This gave the explosions an extra degree of realism above the usual noise, flash of light and cloud of smoke which had been employed before.

Much will have been said on this blog about his pioneering work, and loath though I am to repeat what will have already been said, Harryhausen was a man ahead of his time, a legend in cinematic history and a man without whom the science behind special effects would have meandered slowly along without the leaps and bounds that it did thanks to Harryhausen. Below are two of my favourite YouTube clips, the original trailer for “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers” and that fight scene from “Jason and the Argonauts”. And, purely because I mentioned Argonauts, there is an extra special video of them pootling around collecting air.

Anyway, Happy Birthday Ray, a true legend.

LIZ CLANCY: Happy Birthday Mr H

Ray Harryhausen is one of those names you can't help but remember and I have certainly been aware since childhood of this gentleman's great contribution to the world of cinema.

Since I was tiny I had a fascination for the fantastic so films such as It Came From Beneath The Sea, Earth V. The Flying Saucers and the Sinbad films were always on my daily schedule when they appeared on TV.

I'll never forget watching Jason and the Argonauts for the first time with my family and how my eyes grew wider every second as the mythical and outrageous appeared in front of me and the creatures in Clash of The Titans were so compelling my siblings and I just had to watch that film over and over again.

I recently discovered The Valley of Gwangi, when one of the digital channels showed it, and I fell in love with the miniature horse immediately.

So, Mr Harryhausen, I hope your birthday is a wonderful one, and I thank you for all the enjoyment your work has given me and my family over the years.

RICHARD FREEMAN: Ray Harryhausen - a tribute

As a boy it seemed to me that that the summer holidays were endless. The way we perceive time changes with age. I love those long summer months with out the distractions of school or the spiteful bane of winter. The summer holidays mean so many things to me, a fortnight in Paington, days of adventure in the country side with friend, staying up late with the summer sun, and then there were the films.

They were general shown in the mornings with an eye to kids on summer holidays, something most TV channels have eschewed in favour of soul destroying daytime TV consisting of cookery shows and programmes on how to buy and sell houses. There were Children’s Film Foundation movies, tired, sad old Disney reruns but there were also the Ray Harryhausen films. What marked these out as something truly special were the well thought out and exciting plots and the amazing stop motion animation monsters.

Ray’s films transported the viewer to ancient Persia or Greece to come face to face with dragons, Cyclops, hydra, gorgons, harpies and a pantheon of fantastic creature that fed the imagination of viewing children.
Who can forget the giant bronze statue Talos creaking into life in Jason and the Argonauts, the dragon killing the Cyclops in the climatic battle in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, the mechanical minotaur in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, the Cthulhu-like giant octopus wrecking the Golden Gate Bridge in It Came from Beneath the Sea or the slithering Medusa (who was actually more creepy than the original legendary description) in Clash of the Titans. Often the scripts deviated wildly from the myths they were based on but who cared when the monsters looked so great.

When he wasn’t taking you back to the ancient world Ray was spinning Science Fiction yarns such as Earth Vs The Flying Saucers that taped in to the paranoia of the 50s America or First Men in The Moon based on H G Wells' classic story.

Ray’s monsters seemed so much more compelling and ‘real’ than today’s CGI creations. His beasts had true personalities. They would often have grand first appearances were in they would loom up like some Victorian stage actor. Similarly there deaths scenes were often dramatic and prolong with the monster once again seeming like an over dramatic human actor. Ray’s monsters also had pathos. More often than not I sided with the monster. In 20 Million Miles to Earth the alien beast the Ymir only become aggressive when humans attack it, which they repeatedly do throughout the film. In Valley of Gwangi, Gwangi himself is captured and put on display in a circus.

Now compare modern day move monster, sure the dinosaurs might be more accurately portrayed in their form but they are somehow less alive. A recent remake of Clash of the Titans seemed flat, dull, charmless and pointless. In the age of CGI we are unlikely to see the like of Ray Harryhausen on the big screen again. Yet he has a legion of followers, our very own Alan Frizwell included. A quick look on YouTube will show dozens of people creating their own stop motion animation including the H P Lovecraft Historic Societies’ amazing amateur film The Call of Cuthlhu wherein the cosmic horror himself is realized in stop motion animation.

Today Ray Harryhausen turns 90. I would like to take this opportunity of whishing the grand old man of monsters a happy birthday and a big thank you for all those summer holiday thrills.

GLEN VAUDREY: The Golden Voyage of Harryhausen

There are plenty of films with a connection to Ray Harryhausen so you are quite spoilt for choice in finding one to pick. However there could only be one film for me to choose and that would have to be The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. The film is the second of three Sinbad films that Harryhausen was involved in, and in my opinion the best. And why, you might ask. Was it because of the effects? Being honest, no that isn’t the answer, it’s because it featured Dr Who.

Okay not exactly Dr Who but rather a pre-Dr Who Tom Baker, he plays the part of the evil magician Koura, no scarf and jelly babies for this incarnation just menacing black and lots of dark trickery and foul deeds. It is by using the dark arts that he is able to call forth the assistance of a centaur, not any old centaur mind you but a cyclopean centaur, why have two classical beasts when you can merge them into one.

Now you might wonder how I am going to connect this to anything cryptozoological, after all a centaur is hardly going to be sighted skipping through the countryside (of course not, the big cats have eaten them all). No, instead I am using the centaur as a tenuous link to a very strange encounter that was had by John Farrell and Margaret Johnson in 1966 in the Republic of Ireland. The sighting took place in County Louth as they were driving past Lord Dillon’s estate, and what an odd sight they saw.

The following account given by Margaret Johnson is taken from Mystery Animals of Britain and Ireland by Graham J. Mc Ewen.

‘A huge horse with a man’s face and horrible bulging eyes. I could see by John’s face he saw it too. I think I screamed, but both of us were so frightened that we were paralyzed. The thing had a horse’s body. But it was the face, leering and hairy and huge which shocked.’

Alright then it wasn’t a true centaur nor was it cyclopean but you have to admit the human-faced horse of County Louth does sound good, almost the counter to the horse-headed man who has been so prominent in the news recently.

OLL LEWIS: Release the Kraken

Kraken have been popular foils for heroes in literature and folklore for many, many years and in these tales have had quite a number of different forms as kraken became a catch all term for any large sea monster that was not serpentine. So when it comes to imagining and designing what a Kraken should look like film makers have a huge selection of forms to choose from including great island beasts, enormous crabs, gigantic barnacles, oversized octopodes, whales, colossal squid, terrifying turtles or even something of the film makers own imagining. It is a great shame then that in resent years film makers have settled on giant cephalopods as the acceptable face of the Kraken because this limits the publics perception of what a kraken could be and when you mention Kraken to the man on the street he naturally assumes you are just talking about giant squid rather than any one of the full gambit of monsters the word Kraken was liked to in history.

Not so, Ray Harryhausen’s Kraken in Clash of the Titans, which took the form of a gigantic four armed merman like creature. The size ferocity of the monster could easily to the earliest greek myths about the creature which described it as the ‘asp turtle’. These tales recorded in a poetic form in the Physiologus as follows:

“This time I will with poetic art rehearse,
by means of words and wit,
a poem about a kind of fish,
the great sea-monster which is often unwillingly met,
terrible and cruel-hearted to seafarers, yea, to every man;
this swimmer of the ocean-streams is known as the asp-turtle.

“His appearance is like that of a rough boulder, as if there were tossing by the shore a great ocean-reedbank begirt with sand-dunes,
so that seamen imagine they are gazing upon an island,
and moor their high-prowed ships with cables to that false land,
make fast the ocean-coursers at the sea's end,
and, bold of heart, climb up on that island;
the vessels stand by the beach, enringed by the flood.

“The weary-hearted sailors then encamp, dreaming not of peril.

“On the island they start a fire, kindle a mounting flame.

“The dispirited heroes, eager for repose, are flushed with joy.

“Now when the cunning plotter feels that the seamen are firmly established upon him,
and have settled down to enjoy the weather,
the guest of ocean sinks without warning into the salt wave with his prey, and makes for the bottom,
thus whelming ships and men in that abode of death.”

When reading that you can certainly imagine a creature like Harryhausen’s cinematic version of the Kraken being more than capable of such ship bothering deeds but not a giant squid. For starters, how exactly could you walk about on a giant squid mantle or light a fire on it, it’s the tentacles of the squid which form the bulk of the length and the mantles are not much longer than the average adult man. In reality many tales like this of Kraken were likely based on tidal islands but when it comes to imagining what a mythical and fictional beast capable of this scale of devastation could look like Harryhausen’s Kraken fits the bill better than any squid.

RONAN COGHLAN: My Harryhausen experience

When a mere youthful cinemagoer I used to make a special beeline for the films of Harryhausen. The stop/go motion of his figures fascinated me. When hideous monsters threatened Jason and the Argonauts, Sindbad the Sailor and other such luminaries I was always thrilled; but what added to the thrills was the slightly jerky movement of the monsters. The mighty Talos did not shimmy forth, but walked witha slightly awkward tread, as though locomotion was something he had to think about. Likewise the Minator and that hominid with a single horn which seemed to turn up in many of the films. You see, the fact that the movement was not a hundred per cent natural gave these creatures a ghastly otherworld dimension, endowing them with a sense of menace they would otherwise have lacked - a sense of menace not to be found in the suave computerised monsters of the modern screen.

One day, on quitting the cinema, I decided I was going to be a stop/go monster making my way down the main street of Dublin. I moved, but injected a jerkiness into my tread, which I hoped duplicated the slightly artificial movements of Harryhausen's monsters. I thought my gait might even slightly intimidate the passers-by.

A middle-aged lady approached me.

"Oh, you poor little boy," she exclaimed. "Have you wet yourself? You must go home quickly and get some dry underwear. You are walking in what looks a very uncomfortable way."

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1920 Ray Harryhausen was born.

And now, the news:

Bee sting venom could provide treatment for arthritis
Gorilla psychologists: Weird stuff in plain sight
Raccoon blamed for 5-hour downtown Memphis outage
Terrier bikes around Europe with owner
World's Ugliest Dog title goes to Princess Abby
Lion decides to play through at Mont. golf course
Cat lover forced to give up 200 pets
Plants Demonstrate Complex Ability to Integrate Information
Strange creature on the prowl in East Texas
Experts rediscover plant presumed extinct for 60 years
Jail Snake

Well, with the weather this warm, snakes are obviously going to be more active so it ‘adder’ happen sooner or later.