Saturday, April 16, 2011

Slow week for analysis...

I have found a great deal of information but because of requirements in other classes I have been unable to review many of the sources I have found.

I received The Vampire Encyclopedia through Summit earlier this week and plan on sifting through all 800+ pages of information over this next week.

I have also found a plethora of articles ranging from actual cultural research surrounding the myths of vampires, accounts of real vampires, and pop culture representations of the undead. It should be fairly interesting to go through all of those. They are all peer reviewed so really what I need to do is look through for content. I have between 15 and 20 articles I believe so I have a good amount that should suffice for the project.

The one place where I have been issues is in the newspaper department. This might be a very interesting part of my final paper. Most of what comes up is focused on pop culture representations of vampires. I'll have to narrow down my searches to see if I can find some legitimate information about it. My next thought is to look at a few Victorian history sites because many of the myths are based around that time and the anti-vaccination movement in England during the Victorian era. It's a stretch but might just work.

Mermaid- Manatee?

The mermaid, or siren, was experienced by sailors during the first expeditions of the western world. It was the Siren’s Myth that appeared for the first time with Homer, who described the them as singing creatures that enchanted and lured sailors to their deaths in the Odyssey. It is found that it is present in both literature and in the imaginary that a Siren is a metaphor to not only describe enchanting women but also attempt to show the divided human nature that exists between mind and emotion. A famous triad of sirens were described by Lycofrone in 300 BC by which the sirens got their name--(elaborate). It is a myth that continues to live: The Siren is a sympol of “impossible love, human desire to abandon oneself to sensulaity, being aware of the mortal danger impending on the victim of pleasure.” But by looking beyond the myth could the Siren really exist? Historical data of archeo-mythology found some “hybrids” venerated in 2500 BC in Europe and Antalya. These individuals were affected by “sirenomelia” (dictionary define here) This is a condition that is characterized by the rotation and fusion of the lower extremity. (describe cases.)

Second article- Could Mermaids be Manatees?

Like wanderers in a desert that experience a mirage. It may be that sailors that are, hugner driven, sleep robbed, and lack female companionship during their long jourrneys at sea, may have instead of mistaken desert for water, have illusioned a mermaid in place of a manatee. The explorers as well of their crew were prepped in the stories of the siren and this fact alone may have led them astray. The article states that, “ It may

Not be coincidence then that the order in which the manatee belongs is Sirenia, from the Latin siren.” Could it also be that culture is misconstruing the story still centuries after their origins? Christopher Columbus even depicted the New world mermaids as aless attractive version of the siren then what he was expecting. It could be that Columbus stated the siren or mermaid for what it really was, a manatee. The Sun-Sentenial in 1493 came to the same conclusion as Columbus while sailing in the Dominican Republic. Lastly in 1789 a Scottish magazine published that the sailors claimed while sailing in the Caribbean the mermaids they caught tasted like veal.


I think this article represents a viewpoint that could be very logical. I have not heard this train of thought before and I think that our culture today and centuries ago it seems are too easily swept away with myths and is very gullible.

2002 Thunderbird sighting reported in Alaskan daily newspaper


So, shifting away this week from the legend of thunderbirds toward actual reported sightings of the creatures, I started with the question: Where was the most recent, credible sighting reported?

I surveyed a few different paranormal and cryptozoology blogs looking for stories of thunderbird encounters, including unknown-creatures.com, paranormal.about.com and unexplained-mysteries.com. It appears that there have been regular sightings of thunderbirds across the U.S. up until at least 2010. The frequency of reports was surprising. There was at least one every two or three years that these different blogs considered noteworthy.

Unfortunately, these websites were generally light on substantial evidence to actually prove many of these stories. A lot of them were simply emails from random people who claimed to have seen a thunderbird, or they at least knew someone who had seen one. It is difficult to prove or discredit such stories. They certainly COULD have happened, but you really have to put a lot of faith in the person submitting them in order to believe what they are saying.

I’ve begun looking for evidence of thunderbird sightings in media, focusing in particular in local newspapers. One recent case I found, which occurred in Alaska, was very interesting.

In 2002, an Alaskan pilot flying a small passenger plane from the village of Manakotak to the village of Togiak reported seeing a large, raptor-like bird with a wingspan nearly equal to that of his airplane. An article in the Anchorage Daily News said the pilot, along with others in this plane who reported seeing the creature, described the bird as looking like something out of Jurassic Park. The article also stated that other people who live in the region had seen a similar creature more than once around the same time. Experts from the state specializing in large bird species sounded fairly baffled. Federal raptor specialist (I was unaware our government employed such people) Phil Schemf was quoted saying, “I’m certainly not aware of anything with a 14-foot wingspan that’s been alive for the last 100,000 years.” (Unfortunately, the Alaskan Daily News requires you to sign up for their online edition and pay a fee to access their archives. The text of the article I found here, and I'm pretty certain it's complete.)

Outside of the online paranormal world, the report does not seem to be taken seriously. Although, it is interesting to note that both CNN and Reuters picked up the story shortly after the Anchorage paper published it. There looks to be a consensus that these people in this rural region of Alaska really did see something. But what that something is, well, no one really looked into that.

I think a reasonable thing to do when exploring thunderbird sightings is to consider the possibility that people are really seeing massively large birds, but instead of these creatures being some undiscovered cryptids of mythical proportions, perhaps they are just species of known birds and witnesses are just vastly overstating their sizes and appearances.

I’ve found two different birds that have been identified as possible culprits for reported thunderbird sightings. One is the California condor (see photo above), a rather massive bird that inhabits portions of the American Southwest. A male condor has a wingspan of nearly 10 feet, the largest such span found in any bird in North America.

Another potential known bird that may possibly be confused as a cryptid is the Steller’s sea eagle, which is native to Northeastern Asia and also can be found at times in areas of Alaska. The Anchorage Daily News article reported that the sea eagle is about 50 percent larger than an American bald eagle, and is one of the heaviest birds of prey known to exist.

All of these areas need some more research, and this does not really explain reports of thunderbirds that describe them as extremely massive creature (30-50 foot wingspans) resembling something more like a dinosaur or reptile than a large eagle.

Friday, April 15, 2011

When I decided to switch monsters I was pretty excited because I really think mermaids are the best choice for me because I love the sea and love woman. Not to mention there is a considerable amount of research material, books, articles and other resources available about mermaids then the Mongolian Death Worm. Little history about mermaids, its imperative to remember that mermaids have a full and rich history with multiple versions. They were first sighted in the Mediterranean Ocean and have links to two specific goddesses. Aphrodite and Venus are closely related and have strong ties to the sea, fertility, sexuality, does, dolphins, mirrors and combs. Mermaids are most prevalent in the British Islands and the two main mermaids from this area were Aine and Brigit. Aine is the goddess of love, fertility, fire, cattle and the sun. She also has three different forms; maiden, mermaid and hag. Brigit is coupled with healing and fertility and is the patroness of smiths. I am looking forward to continuing my research and in-depth look into mermaids. (http://www.beautiful-mermaid-art.com/mermaid-history.html)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

LOOKING FOR A NEW HO

The Mongolian Death Worm has went way underground on me brother!!! I have searched high and low, deep and far, long and short and that little sucker has just slipped into the abyss. The more I looked for the monster the further he dug and I know we were told that we can write about looking for sources and coming up empty and not finding much emperical information. Well I have spoken with the Monster Majestrate (Professor Michael Lorenzo) and am officially ditching the worm and looking for a new ho... I have taken other clases with a couple of our current classmates (Inga and Nate's brother) so they may be aware of a few personal facts about myself. I suppose its only fair to bring the rest of the class up to speed on my background, I spent 23 years in the United States Navy and retired in 2008. Have spent most of my time since then chasing a little piece of paper called a college diploma and Im almost there... So, considering the fact that I am a sailor by nature I couldnt think of a better monster to research then my latest and last selection... The new woman in my life is Brandy the mermaid... Dont be surprised and dont be fooled, they are real and I plan on conducting an indepth search that will provide without a doubt that Brandy is real!!! I missed a week of posting so I will be posting again real soon with some of my most current and interesting finds.. Stay tuned and dont miss my updates, they are bound to be riveting and insightful and most importantly we cant forget that mermaids are topless women with tails...

Bigfoot books

While searching the Librarys book database I found much material, too much to read through in only one quarter. One problem that I saw myself doing was only looking up one name for Sasquatch rather than both. To fix this I will try to do the Boolean search phrase Bigfoot or Sasquatch. The books hit almost all points on the literary spectrum, there are scientific and fiction, criticism and praise, case study and qualitative and everything in-between. If I am going to choose a book that represents Sasquatch in the most credible light I might choose only scientific books, but I want to get a sense of the problematic books as well. I don’t expect there to be vast amounts of hard evidence supporting Bigfoot, rather my prediction is that these books will focus on case studies of people who have reported sighting Bigfoot.

My prediction came true, there are multiple books in the available in the western library and through summit on a whole range of topics pertaining to sasquatch. For example, in the science spectrum there are books such as Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science and Sasquatch science. Then on the other end there are books that interview people who claim to have had encounters with the hairy beast.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Nessie!


Most articles that I have found tend to be geared towards young adults/children more than actual scientific news. Although I have been able to find good information about Nessie, there is some digging that needs to be done in order to find the information. An article that I found recently is from boy’s life magazine, while this article is for young boys there is still a plethora of information on Nessie that anyone can use. The article titled “Mysterious Loch Ness Monster,” tackles the issue of Nessie being a real sea monster or a hoax that is put into place to lure tourism into Scotland. This article, complete with many pictures/drawings of Nessie that are quite ominous, really tries to explain what Nessie could be. The article describes Nessie’s home, Loch Ness, as 24 miles long, up to 980 feet deep and the water stays chilly all year long. This Loch is what many Nessie followers use as there main argument as to why Nessie exists. This article states that there has been an increase of followers since 1930 because the town surrounding the Loch expanded and many followers flocked to the town to see the famous Nessie.

Now tourists spend millions of dollars on hotels, shops, and restaurants, leading many people to believe that the myth of Nessie is just perpetuated because the town wants money from tourism. The “Mysterious Loch Ness Monster” leaves the opinion of what Nessie really is to the reader, which is nice because they do not put their own opinions onto the reader. Nessie in this article can be either one of the best-unknown creatures out there or the best hoax that a country can put on. I believe that this article is credible because they clearly did the research about Nessie and what is and is not true. Also the authors put time and effort in creating an article that presents all of the facts and the reader can become a huge Nessie fan or a skeptic of the monster. The only issue that I had with this article is that they did not explain enough of why and how this would be a hoax. If more info about that part of the binary were present, it would help readers make a more informed decision about what they choose to believe. This was a fun read and the pictures made the articles seem even more amazing because they are well drawn and provide a good background to see what Nessie could look like. Overall this article, written for young boys, is a well-done piece that provides the basic information about the Nessie controversy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Historic Notebook


I recently found a short blurb about the Spring-Heeled Jack in a book called The Historic Notebook. In this book, the author takes events/terms/words that appeared throughout history that may not have been explained or were left as mysteries. In this blurb the Spring-Heeled Jack was described as a group of confederates, rumored to be lead by the Marquis of Waterford. The Marquis of Waterford being one of the ‘Peerage of Ireland’ or noble families.

This ‘gang’ or party taunted the people of London for six months until their ‘silly’ pranks ceased. There were never any cases of theft in encounters with the Spring-Heeled Jack, so with their main goal being to fright, they took the shape of several animals in different cities. Some of these animals included a white bull, a white bear, and a “gigantic baboon”! Spring-Heeled Jack also appeared as a man in bras armour. Often Spring-Heeled Jack would harass travelers and cause physical injuries, then disappear into the night.

This piece from this book gave me a very interesting view of what the Spring-Heeled Jack is all about. From the different descriptions I have come across so far, he/it is explained to be an object of fear. He/it also seems to have some connection to the higher class. This will definitely give me some more information as I look into other sources. Maybe this may lead me to some literature about the Marquis family.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Start With the Source (Eye Witnesses)

For everybody researching Sasquatch, I suggest you take time and explore the information provided by the website www.bfro.net. This site does a very good job at presenting the evidence we have on hand, explaining rumors and common misconceptions that the uninformed usually buy into. Read some of the PGF articles under VIDEO CLIPS, PHOTOS, SOUNDS. Many people have seen the Patterson-Gimlin film, but almost everybody immediately dismisses it as a hoax. On the other hand, the people who have taken time to analyze and research the footage have found that there is more evidence to support that the video is in fact authentic than there is to suggest it is fake.
BFRO also has a running database of individual eyewitness reports, each of which is investigated before posted on the website. 511 reports of encounters are located in Washington alone. I have read a countless amount of these reports, and by doing this i have been able to examine this phenomenon from its roots up, as the existence for these creatures is most heavily supported by the people who claim to have seen them. Physical evidence, although present, is scarce. Relying on reported encounters alone as a way of studying the creature is problematic, because of the obvious question of credibility. But since thousands of eye witnesses have been coming forth increasingly over the years, it would be foolish to ignore their stories. It is important to note that most of these reports are given by grown adults, with families and jobs and better things to be doing than making up fake Sasquatch encounters. It is also important to note that through examination of these numerous encounters, you will begin to notice undeniable patterns in the smallest of details, from the anatomic descriptions of the creature to the behavior observed during the encounter.
I have found bfro.net very helpful in understanding the basics of the Sasquatch phenomenon, and i definitely recommend a visit for all you Squatchers. Although the primary focus of the sight is the North American Sasquatch, on the home page they have some cool links for the "Chinese Bigfoot" (which would be considered the Yeti, i believe).

I close with, in my opinion, the most outstanding piece of natural history footage ever shot.

Change over

So due our nation's current over-obsession of vampires and the flooding of Twilight information, I've decided to change my monster to zombies.... despite the large popular culture that surrounds zombies, as well, I think narrowing my research will be a little more tangible.

Zombies are not formally classified in the cryptic family, but are considered monsters, and exist in the popular media as an undead-monster, or in Haiti, originating in West Africa-as people in an entranced state controlled by a wizard or bokor. This is closely related to voodoo practices.

I think taking the angle of researching the zombies originating in West Africa and residing in Haiti will yield some pretty good results-theres a film the National Geographic did that I'm excited to watch.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My "Monster": Sasquatch

Yes, this is a pretty late first post, but i wanted to be sure on which creature i was going to research. As the title claims, i've landed securely on researching Sasquatch, but after much personal debate. I will tell you how i landed on my decision.
My first gut instinct was to research Sasquatch, because i have been personally following this phenomena for a number of years (bfro.com is my homepage on safari). I have been interested in these creatures since i was a little kid, but i really didn't start researching them until a couple years ago. But then when i weighed in the fact that so many other people in this class are going to be studying Sasquatch, or closely related specimens like the Yeti, i thought it would be more interesting for the rest of us if i did something else. So my second option was aliens, or whatever one might call the beings associated with UFO's. Let's just say I watch the History channel a lot. So I searched for some books on the western library site, using summit and the ILL, and i found some books on the subject. There were plenty, and they seemed pretty interesting and legit, but for some reason i wasn't as excited as I would be if i was looking at some classic Grover Krantz or John Green. In other words, I think i would get much more out of this class if i researched the creature that I had the most personal interest in.
So Sasquatch it is. Although, through my prior research, i have already come to the personal conclusion that these creatures do in fact exist, I hope to further expand my knowledge on these elusive giants through the research methods that will be taught in this course.

Little people and a lost world: An anthropological mystery


In her contribution to the Discovery! Series, a set of science books for middle school scholars, Linda Goldenberg, a school librarian and author living in New Paltz, New York, examines the controversy surrounding the discovery of the remains of Homo floresensis. Although written for the younger reader, she gives an engaging description of the hunt for human fossils on the Indonesian island of Flores, a detailing of the recovery effort of the first Homo floresiensis remains and the subsequent intrigue involving the removal and return of the remains by an Indonesian official. Furthermore, Goldenberg ties in the lore that has been passed down through oral tradition amongst the people of Flores about the ebu gogo.

Although many had believed a paleoanthropological find impossible, a few researchers insisted upon looking for evidence of human ancestors on the island of Flores. This island is separated from nearby Java, home of many ancestral finds, by “Wallace’s Line”, a deep crevice that separates the island chain. Many scientists believe that during the Ice Age, when sea water was considerably lower due to being trapped in ice, land bridges may have formed allowing human ancestors to travel to nearby lands. However, the deep crevice of Wallace’s Line would not have allowed a land bridge to form, connecting Flores to the western Indonesian islands. Therefore, any human ancestors would have been required to travel by watercraft. Unfortunately, such evidence would not have been preserved.

When the Homo floresiensis remains were found in 2003, a full 20 feet below the surface floor of the Liang Bua cave, they were not yet fossilized and were exceptionally delicate. They were treated with a hardening agent, carefully removed and taken to Thomas Sutikna’s lab in Jakarta. He used CT scans to initiate his studies of the remains before, under much intrigue, they were suddenly taken by Indonesia’s renowned paleontologist, Teuku Jacob. Oddly, Jakob sequestered the remains only to return them damaged due to mishandling. A short two years later, the cave was ordered closed to scientific inquiry by the Indonesian government.

Inhabitants of the Island of Flores, when interviewed previous to the Homo floresiensis find in 1990 by anthropologist/historian Caty Husbands, spoke of the ebu gogo - a small, hairy creature that did not speak, yet could parrot back what was said. When she likened the stories to the English “boogie monster”, she was told that the stories were not the same because the ebu gogo had actually lived. Although stories differ slightly from village to village, all tales of the ebu gogo have them meeting their demise by the ancestors of modern people. Furthermore, all stories involved some account of a fire in the cave of the ebu gogo, often started by the trickery of the modern people’s ancestors. To add more credence to these tales is the fact that in none of them are the ebu gogo gifted with fanciful abilities or magical powers. They are just primitive, little people that stole food and children from the ancestors of the people that still inhabit the island.

Although written for children, Goldenberg provided a clear, concise and illuminating history surrounding the ebu gogo and the controversial remains of Homo floresiensis.

Goldenberg, L. (2007). Little people and a lost world: An anthropological mystery. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publishing Group.

I have decided that I am going to do my research on Yeti. I feel like this will be a more interesting topic to research. With a wider array of information out there I will more carefully have to wade through what I see to determine if it is legitimate or not. If I had chosen to do Batsquatch the task of finding more information than a general paragraph repeated would have been challenging. (As I found from my preliminary research.)

After some more research I have found the library has several books on this furry creature. There are seven in total, none of which I have examined yet. The Yeti, or Abominable Snowman as some people call him, also has many websites dedicated to research and some dedicated to recording alleged sitings.

Somethings that will come in handy when researching the Yeti. First of all, looking for both Yeti, and Abominable Snowman tags, because they are one in the same. Also, excluding Yeti Cycles, which is a product of Fox racing. There are some various other products called "Yeti" which are in no way related to the cryptid. (There is an English band called Yeti!)

In class on Thursday, the tools learned about controlled vocabulary, and knowing what it is I am looking for (information on the Yeti) and knowing what other people may call it (Abominable Snowman) will come in handy. When I added Abominable Snowman to my Google search, all of the products were no longer shown as results. Controlling my vocabulary and knowing what terms to use will be useful.

Week 2

This week I found a website called monstrous.com. This site is all about monsters and has many different sections, one of which is cryptozoology. This section contains definitions, a cryptid encyclopedia, stories, and a section on famous cryptozoologists. There is a section on mermaids that has stories, sightings, hoaxes, and theories about mermaids. I feel like this will be a good resource to get basic information and to lead me to other resources. Most of the information is brief, but it will give me information that I can research further.

First Research!

Our class on Thursday about searching for topics in the library database really sparked my interest in the ways that I could search for my topic. How perfect since research has now started! I might have a tricky time finding articles about my monster, because when I searched for it in the Western EBSCO database nothing came up. I did however find a book with excellent material pertaining to the Black Shuck. The book is entitled Giants, Monsters, and Dragons: an Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth, by Carol Rose. It has hundreds of entries about various cryptids that appear in stories or history. The entry about the Black Shuck was short, but it gave me a lot of information to work with. Much to my enjoyment, it listed off some names that the Black Shuck is also known by (Shuck, Shuck Dog, and Old Shuck). This will definitely prove to be helpful when searching for more sources. I learned that the Black Shuck's name means demon, and it is described in a variety of ways. Some people say it looks like a shaggy black donkey with either huge glowing eyes or just one eye. Sparks of green or red fire come out of its eye(s), which can obviously be quite frightening. Another description of this cryptid is that it looks like a monk with a dog's head. It lives in the sea marshes and it only leaves at dusk. The most frequent places for it are roads, graveyards, and river banks. Although some people say that it brings death to whomever may challenge it, others say that it gives guidance and protection to travelers. Fascinating! I am eager to find out more from other sources!