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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Thursday, October 03, 2013

CRYPTOLINK: Bush balladry laments extinction

A word about cryptolinks: we are not responsible for the content of cryptolinks, which are merely links to outside articles that we think are interesting (sometimes for the wrong reasons), usually posted up without any comment whatsoever from me.

They Saw a Thylacine.
They Saw a Thylacine is a poignant, theatrical tale with a moral message on conservation.
Reviewer rating:
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Sarah Hamilton and Justine Campbell
Rehearsal room, North Melbourne Town Hall, until October 5
The current mass extinction is unlike the other five in the history of the planet. Humans are here to witness it, to contribute to it, and we have the knowledge, if not the collective desire, to help ameliorate it.
Such is the moral intensity behind They Saw a Thylacine, as it sets up two competing echoes of the extinction of the Tasmanian tiger, which survived into the age of silent cinema and continues to haunt the Australian imagination.
Sarah Hamilton and Justine Campbell tag-team through the thylacine's final days, in a rather beautifully crafted poetic text that achieves the galloping dramatic action of bush balladry, even adopting a loose rhyming scheme without sounding affected.
In one strand, a zookeeper's daughter keeps vigil over the last thylacine in captivity in the 1930s. She has been barred from taking over the zoo because she's a woman and must watch helplessly as ignorant labourers hired during the Depression shirk their duties, with inevitable results. In the other, a bushie's daughter hunts a thylacine in Tasmania, hoping to claim a rich bounty for a live specimen. She runs into competition, but is determined to stay in charge, even if it means letting her quarry go free.

Read on...

Alan Moore insists he’s not the Northampton Clown

Alan Moore denies he’s the creepy clown who’s been lurking around Northampton, England, but concedes he may be inadvertently responsible for the mysterious figure’s appearance in his hometown.
The not-so-imaginatively dubbed Northampton Clown, who bears a worrying resemblance to Pennywise from Stephen King’s It, was first spotted on Sept. 13, and has since become a local curiosity and an international phenomenon. Witnesses claim he says “Beep, beep” whenever he approaches people (another nod to Pennywise), and knocks on windows, only to stand there silently.
Although the clown told the Northampton Chronicle & Echo “I just wanted to amuse people,” some have speculated he’s nothing more than a publicity stunt for an annual haunted house or for The Showan episodic film project involving local resident Alan Moore (which, coincidentally, features a sinister clown).

CHUPACABRA by Roland Smith

Chupacabra (Marty and Grace #3)

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (24 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545178177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545178174

Some years ago I reviewed a rather spiffing book called Tentacles . A friend of mine, a young lady called Elizabeth Clem who lives in Indiana, first introduced me to the work of Roland Smith when she sent Corinna and me his book Cryptid Hunters as a wedding present. I enjoyed it massively. The author's website describes it:

After their parents are lost in an accident, thirteen-year old twins Grace and Marty are whisked away to live with their Uncle Wolfe - an uncle that they didn't even know they had! The intimidating Uncle Wolfe is an anthropologist who has dedicated his life to finding cryptids, mysterious creatures believed to be long extinct.

As I wrote at the time, this is a woefully inadequate description and is 'a bit like describing Anna Karenina as being about a couple of Russian chicks and some horse racing.' But now I am happy to say that the third volume of the saga is out and I have to say I think that I enjoyed it even more than I did the first two, and that is saying something!

I particularly enjoy these stories even though Roland himself told me, "I actually thought about you when I was developing Wolfe and Marty... There is a bit of you in both of them". There is a famous quote by Groucho Marx that he would not join any club that had him in it, and I probably wouldn't either. But I am happy to say that Roland's three books, which have a teensy weensy bit of me in their DNA, are absolutely smashing.

NOW HOLD ON A MOMENT: I am hoping this review will make anyone who has not already read these books go out and buy them, so I am giving away as few plot details as I can. However, I have to reveal a few things, so although this is not a full-blown SPOILER ALERT, there are, I am afraid, a few.

In this book, Wolfe is conveniently off dealing with the Government and so the main protagonists of the story are the two children introduced in Vol 1, their friend Luther (introduced in Vol 2) and a third young person, conveniently old enough to drive but still young enough not to be part of the adult world.

At the end of Volume Two, Grace - who had only recently discovered that Wolfe was her father - had voluntarily gone off with the satisfyingly villainous villain Dr Noah Blackwood (who also happens to be her maternal grandfather), and spends much of the book trying to escape from Blackwood's high-tech headquarters. The three boys, meanwhile, spend the book trying to break in and rescue her.

It is Grace who develops as a character most in this book. She very satisfyingly sheds some of her girlishness  and becomes much more tough and resourceful. However - and this is the big bit of congratulations due to the author for his literary skill - Smith makes this transformation happen naturally, just as part of Grace's growing process. I have rarely seen the transformation of a character so deftly handled.

Adults can, I think, read more into the character descriptions of Blackwood and the other major villains than can (one hopes) the audience for whom this book is largely intended. He is truly evil, and what's more, the sort of evil who can justify every one of his misdeeds. Blackwood and several of his henchfolk make even adult readers wince, so I can only imagine the delightful frisson of horror that will be felt by juvenile minds reading these stories for the first time.

The bad news is that after this, all the indications are that there will only be one story left to complete the saga. Let's hope that Roland will be merciful on us, and continue the series longer. I now know what various neices and nephews of mine are going to have for Christmas from their favourite uncle.


In an article for the first edition of Cryptozoology Bernard Heuvelmans wrote that cryptozoology is the study of 'unexpected animals' and following on from that perfectly reasonable assertion, it seems to us that whereas the study of out-of-place birds may not have the glamour of the hunt for bigfoot or lake monsters, it is still a perfectly valid area for the Fortean zoologist to be interested in. So after about six months of regular postings on the main bloggo Corinna took the plunge and started a 'Watcher of the Skies' blog of her own as part of the CFZ Bloggo Network.


The hunt for British Big Cats attracts far more newspaper-column inches than any other cryptozoological subject. There are so many of them now that we feel that they should be archived by us in some way, so we are publishing a regular round-up of the stories as they come in. In September 2012 Emma Osborne decided that the Mystery Cat Study Group really deserved a blog of its own within the CFZ Blog Network.

  • NEWSLINK: Thank Zoo For Surrenduring Big Cats to S...
  • US SIGHTINGS: Blane Klemek Column: We should all b...
  • AUSTRALIAN ABC RESEARCH: Hazelbrook man's quest fo...
  • NEWSLINK: Forum to highlight dangers of big cat po...
  • NEWSLINK: Will the Big Cats Survive the Free-Roami...
  • NEWSLINK: Missing cats mystery
  • NEWSLINK: Mullane: Mystery of the decapitated cats...
  • NEWSLINK: Mystery of the decapitated cats

  • UK SIGHTING: huge mystery cat, page 1 - Above Top 

    The Gonzo Daily - Thursday
    The weather here in North Devon is terrible today; it is absolutely bucketing down. Graham and I are trying to decide whether we bring the quail indoors (into the conservatory) for the winter or to build them (and the crow) a superduper shelter, possibly even heated, for the winter. If anyone has comments upon the husbandry of Japanese Quail please do not hesitate to get in touch. On a totally different subject, this afternoon I am scheduled to interview Jakko Jakszyk who - amongst many other things - was responsible for the Gonzo ident tune, and is a member of the newly reconstituted King Crimson. I am looking forward to it...

    Another visit to our old friend Thom the World Poet.
    JUDY DYBLE: English Folk Music that Flows and Changes
    Vangelis Explains The Origin Of The Theme To Chariots Of Fire
    On Second Thought: Eric Burdon and the Animals – The Animals (1964)
    YES/RICK WAKEMAN: William Shatner Gathers Stellar Line-up for Prog-Rock Set 'Ponder the Mystery' He also sings vulgar song which made me giggle despite my hangover

    *  The Gonzo Daily is a two way process. If you have any news or want to write for us, please contact me at  jon@eclipse.co.uk. If you are an artist and want to showcase your work, or even just say hello please write to me at gonzo@cfz.org.uk. Please copy, paste and spread the word about this magazine as widely as possible. We need people to read us in order to grow, and as soon as it is viable we shall be invading more traditional magaziney areas. Join in the fun, spread the word, and maybe if we all chant loud enough we CAN stop it raining. See you tomorrow...

    *  The Gonzo Daily is - as the name implies - a daily online magazine (mostly) about artists connected to the Gonzo Multimedia group of companies. But it also has other stuff as and when the editor feels like it. The same team also do a weekly newsletter called - imaginatively - The Gonzo Weekly. Find out about it at this link:
    * We should probably mention here, that some of our posts are links to things we have found on the internet that we think are of interest. We are not responsible for spelling or factual errors in other people's websites. Honest guv!

    *  Jon Downes, the Editor of all these ventures (and several others) is an old hippy of 54 who - together with his orange cat (who is currently on sick leave in Staffordshire) and two very small kittens (one of whom is also orange) puts it all together from a converted potato shed in a tumbledown cottage deep in rural Devon which he shares with various fish, and sometimes a small Indian frog. He is ably assisted by his lovely wife Corinna, his bulldog/boxer Prudence, his elderly mother-in-law, and a motley collection of social malcontents. Plus.. did we mention the orange cat?

    OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

    Yesterday’s News Today

    On this day in 2003 a tiger mauled magician Roy Horn, of conjuring duo Siegfried and Roy, during a live performance.

    And now the news:
  • Escaped hippo swam out of flooded zoo
  • Georgia Aquarium heads to court to get wild-caught...
  • Optical Illusion Explained in Monkey Brain Study
  • Missouri Ponds Provide Clue to Killer Frog Disease...
  • Anthropologists Confirm Link Between Cranial Anato...
  • Raccoon survives month at sea by eating cardboard
  • Australia may scale back on marine protection
  • New Traps for Burmese Pythons

  • Speaking of tigers here's the trailer for the much anticipated Calvin and Hobbes live action movie: