Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mermaids- sightings

It is often hard to distinguish between a mythological story that is written knowing it is just a make believe tale and actual sightings. Actual sightings have gotten rarer as time has gone on since the tale of the mermaid began. However, at the turn of the century it was reported that Alexander Gunn saw a mermaid a few feet away waiting for the tide to come in. Gunn went on to describe her to look “both frightened and angry.” [Marc Potts The mythology of the mermaid and her kin 173] Another reported sighting was in 1939 a Scottish woman out fishing boat depicted seeing a mermaid with “a beautiful face, golden hair, blue eyes and a delicate complexion.” Later, in 1947 yet another fisherman said he saw a mermaid on the Isle of muck. He went on to describe her as combing her hair about twenty yards off of the shore but disappeared into the water when she found she was being watched (173). Ten years later a mermaid came aboard the raft Tahiti-Nui, constructed by Eric de Bisschop. One sailor who was on night watch thought at first she was a dolphin, then he saw her jump onto the raft and stand on her tail, he confronted it and it knocked him down. He described her as “smelly” and having scraggly seaweed covered hair (173). In Queensland, Australia a security guard reported in 1991 off the coast. Why has it been so long between sightings? Some believe the answer to this question is the increasing in shipping and the pollution that comes a long with it. There have been no reports of dead mermaids, but if they dwell under the water there seems to be no need to wash ashore.


POSSIBLE RESOURCE

INTERESTING TOUR

Our entire class had an opportunity to visit and tour the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies this week and it was very interesting. I didn’t find anything specific for my monster research, but did receive one solid lead and have another resource to consider when conducting research. Of course the highlight of the tour had to be the mug shot book… Found a great deal of humor and interest reading some of the charges and penalties. Think the most interesting thing about the mug book was the hair-do’s… There was one lead that I was able to obtain during our tour, the Bellingham International Maritime Museum. Hasn’t had much of an opportunity to conduct much research on this website and more importantly haven’t had a chance to create an account. I am hopeful that there will be some insight into my monster and provide me with some much needed content.

My wiki edits have vanished

Well, that didn't last too long. The edits that I made to the Wikipedia entry last week on the thunderbird are gone, and I'm having a hard time figuring out what exactly happened. I tried to not just throw up random nonsense. My entries were sourced and contained what I thought was relevant information. I even cited Loren Coleman, who is a fairly well-known cryptid researcher who has written a number of books on the subject.

I have been have struggles with the Monstropedia.com entry. Since signing up for the site, I have still not been able to actually make edits to the thunderbird page. It's not even that I'm having my edits reverted, it's that I don't even have the option to make any edits. I'm trying to learn more about the page-protection policy, but so far it has been confusing and frustrating. I'll try to keep working on and hopefully figure things out.

I did make a great discovery on YouTube earlier today. Someone posted the entire MonsterQuest episode on thunderbirds (titles "Birdzilla"). It's long and full of interesting information on sightings and scientific interpretation. It even has footage of supposed thunderbird sightings. I'm really glad I was able to find this, and I think it will really come in handy for my presentation.
This week I was looking at websites about mermaids and I found a blog about mermaids called Mermaids are real!: Mermaids, Witches, and Amazons. The blog isn't really a blog...it's basically a book that this guy wrote and got published and then put it in his blog. None the less, the site is pretty interesting. It has a lot of background information about mermaids. Aside from the history of mermaid sightings the sight really doesn't have much to do with mermaids. Much of it is made up of the history of the evolution of women and different stories about women in early history in different settings. After looking around the site I realized it wasn't really going to be very helpful to me at all. I'm also not exactly sure how credible it is.

http://mermaid-williambond.blogspot.com/2008/01/bibliography.html

Wikipedia

As I looked back at the Wikipedia information on the Spring-Heeled Jack, I realized that my edit to the page has been put back up! It is exactly what I wrote except this time it is referenced....I'm not sure how this happened, but maybe someone read it and figured out where I got the info. However it happened I guess my addition will remain! Weird.....

Copyrights and Newspapers

After discussing copyrights and web sites in class, I realized that a lot of the sites and information I have been finding is similar. Almost all of the web-sites that I have visited have the same picture of the Spring-Heeled Jack, the same accounts, and the same stories. I am curious now as to how many sites have copy and pasted their information, and where the original information came from.

I am also searching for newspaper articles on my cryptid. According to the Wikipedia site, the Spring-Heeled Jack has made it into numerous papers. Because they were written so long ago, I think it will difficult to find them; however, I am searching for recent stories too. In this search, I have found article titles and brief descriptions, yet I am having trouble finding the whole article or even the majority of the article. I may be able to work on the microform readers in the library and see if I can find any old stories in The Times. This may be helpful.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Websites

An interesting website that I found about the skeptic side of the belief in Nessie, is from the Skeptic’s Dictionary. They have a whole entry in the dictionary about the Loch Ness “Monster”, where they try and show how Nessie is a hoax and is now perpetuated by the tourism industry. They go step by step through all the sighting and pictures and explain what each are instead of a monster. This is obviously a very detailed website to debunking the myth of Nessie and I appreciate at that even if I do not agree with that they are saying. It is important, to me and other people interested in Nessie, to get both sides of the argument and this would be the website to see and learn about the non-believers perspective. That being said, when I do my research I really like the websites, articles etc. to have both sides in the written text so that I can form the whole picture surrounding my research. This website lacks that because they only focus on the skeptic side and do not let the reader decide what they want to believe. This website and creator Robert T. Carroll, obviously want you to either believe in their opinion or change to their opinion once you have read the articles. This makes the website seem a little less credible because I felt forced to not believe in Nessie, while reading this website. I enjoyed reading this website because it provided a fresh view on the monster and one that I will not likely forget when looking at other sources.
The last interesting website I found was the Museum of UnNatural Mystery. This website is devoted to all though un-natural phenomena’s like: UFO’s and Cryptozoology. This was an interesting site to stumble upon because it does not look like it would be credible or even factual, but from what I read on their Nessie page they provide good information. Nessie’s entry on this website is a medium length piece detailing her history, hoaxes, photographs, sonar sightings, and other explanations that Nessie could be. This website gives both sides of the argument, which helps make this seem like a great site because they are not one-sided nor do they try to push their views onto the reader. The author, Lee Krystek, does a great job of explaining the details about Nessie and describing the more modern craze that Nessie has attracted. He especially details the new, Water Horse movie, which created lots of hype within the Nessie community, as well as giving Nessie more believers. By having the website set up in a chronological and themed way, creates a more cohesive article on Nessie. My favorite section of this website is when Krystek explains that some people believe Nessie is an oversized river otter. I had never heard about this belief before and was very intrigued to know more about the river otter belief. I think that this is the best website of the three because while shorter than the others it does a great job of providing all the information in a cohesive way and does not take a side or force a choice onto the reader.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wikipedia edit....finally!

Was a little confusing, not sure if I put in my references right or not....but heres my article:

As Zora Neale Hurston describes in Tell My Horse, zombification will induce a state of ‘toiling ceaselessly’, referring to the individuals inability to access his/her freedoms and privilege, and not his/her productive output. (190) The enslavement of those who were zombified brings upon not only economic benefit, but a social severance that cannot be undone. In Benedict Stork’s thesis titled (Un)Natural Servitude: Zombies at the Crossroads of Race Labor, he brings to our attention the racial implications of zombification and consequential enslavement of that being. He states, “Indeed, it is the zombie master who is rendered as the true monster and the zombie only as the resulting monstrosity.” (9) The concept of zombiism begins in West Africa and makes in way to Haiti, within the Voodoo culture, the identified race of these populations has a resonating effect on today’s popular zombie culture.

Stork, Benedict (2005). “(Un)Natural Servitude at the Crossroads of Race and Labor” San Francisco State University ISBN 30750020448779

Wylie's Personal Inquiry into the Bigfoot Phenomenon

In order to keep a steady head while I do my Sasquatch research, I read Kenneth Wylie's Bigfoot: A Personal Inquiry into a Phenomenon. Unlike other Sasquatch researchers I have been reading (Grover Krantz, Jeff Meldrum) who claim it is very likely an unknown, upright walking ape is leaving the endless number of large human-like footprints around the world, Wylie does not find the evidence of footprints compelling in the least. Instead, he claims "the evidence in favor of pranks and hoaxes, mistaken identity aside, is far more convincing in the long run." Instead of seeing the significant abundance of these supposed Sasquatch tracks as supportive evidence, he states the large quantity of reported tracks is "cause for greater suspicion." He questions how such a presumably rare creature could leave such abundant tracks. He assumes that if these tracks are real, the creatures would have to be too populous to have been able to maintain this elusiveness. And then, basing the whole argument on the statement that "bear tracks are not commonly found," he assumes that the Sasquatch prints would have to come from a creature that might even be more populous than bears, and if this was so there would be more substantial evidence, and Bigfoot would be included in all the field guides.
My previous research leaves me thinking there might be a few things Kenneth Wylie is not considering. Besides the fact that he did not bother to include an estimated number of bear footprints spotted over the years (so we had something to compare), he did not address the fact that most bear prints that have been seen would most likely go unreported, due to the fact that people know bears exist. Without any kind of standard equation that can determine the approximate population of a species relative to the number of footprints found, there is no way to conclude that the number of purported Sasquatch tracks is unusual at all. And it may be true, due to the massive size of the foot and the incredible weight of these creatures, that Sasquatch tracks are more easy to notice than those of a bear. When examining a continuous string of over 100 tracks measuring over 18 inches long, Grover Krantz estimated the creatures weight to be 800 pounds. With large male black bears only weighing up to around 500 pounds, as well as distributing their weight over at least two legs at a time, their feet would leave much less of an indent in the earth. And with Grizzlies extinct in California, Oregon, and most of Washington, it would make sense that Sasquatch tracks are more commonly found in these areas. When explaining how it is more likely that these tracks are made from hoaxer's, he cites only one incident where a man named Ray Pickens admits to making false Bigfoot prints. For me, this is not enough to make me assume all prints are fakes. Even 99 out of 100 reported tracks are fake or misidentified, the creatures are still real.
While most of Wylie's book is very engaging and informational, with stories of encounters and physical evidence discoveries, he is not convinced in the end. Based on his research, he concluded that the "continued failure to find physical evidence is far more compelling than the so-called evidence supporting the idea that the creature exists." Although it would be nice to see the current evidence taken seriously and for some sophisticated field research strategies to be developed, it is understandable that some may be put off by the fact that we have never obtained a body of this creature for scientific analysis.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Black metal and The Beast

About a week after comparing Wikipedia and Monsterpedia, I decided to return to Wikipedia, to see if I had any information to contribute to the discussion. Much of the entry discusses the beast as either a singular or dual entity (a solo wolf, or a wolf and its mate) . I decided to add M. Smith's opinion of the beast. The Wikipedia entry can be found here, and my addition here. In case it's been altered already (quite likely!), my addition was this: Jay M. Smith, in his book "Monsters of the Gévaudan," suggests that the deaths attributed to the beast were more likely the work of a number of wolves or packs of wolves.[4]

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a French film (Brotherhood of the Wolf), which I ended up watching in part (in other words, I got fed up with it and stopped watching with an hour still to go) . I'll leave my opinion at this: if you enjoy cultural appropriation and fortune-telling prostitutes who like to make morbid and nonsensical remarks, you'll enjoy the movie*. Otherwise.. . (*Disclaimer: I may be exaggerating the nature of this film) In all seriousness, it was drawn-out, poorly plotted and populated by weak characters. Apparently, it's quite popular in French cinema (I'm still trying to figure that one out), but perhaps this is simply because of the prevalence of the beast in French culture.

***

The book I requested through ILLiad has thus far been my most comprehensive resource on the beast of Gévaudan. It, of course, begins with a discussion about the beast that includes a physical description, narrative accounts and a general overview of France at time of the attacks.

Death-by-wolf was not an extremely uncommon way to perish in eighteenth century France--one rural historian (Jean-Marc Moricceau) was "inclined to put the true number of human fatalities in the early modern period closer to a staggering 9,000." (Smith 12) Smith explores many aspects of the beast , one of which is the social exacerbation surrounding the killings, just why--if wolf killings weren't all that rare at the time--the killings in the Gévaudan were so focused upon with such vigor. He suggests a variety of answers: media-exploitation, superstition, "a contemporary appetite for exotica," and religion, among many other instigators. (Smith 14)

Quite soon after the book begins (at the end of the introduction)--Smith discusses just what the true nature of the beast may have been, declaring that "the actual killings likely resulted from the work of a number of wolves, or even a succession of packs of wolves that moved through the region over a period of year " (Smith 6). Most of the other sources I found usually just list a variety of possibilities and shy from settling on a single one--so it was nice to read something more definitive, whether or not it's true.

I imagine that this willingness to state an authoritative opinion stems--partially, at least--from the academic nature of this book. Though Monsters of the Gévaudan certainly isn't unbiased, it seems to be built on a more solid foundation of knowledge than any of the other resource I've explored. Because of this breadth, it can, no doubt, form opinions more reliably (though a wider range of research certainly doesn't guarantee it perfection and penultimate truth). The book's breadth is likely a direct result of the respectability of the author, Jay M Smith, who is "is John Van Seters Distinguished Term Professor at the University of North Carolina" (Monsters 2011), thusly, a respectable academic.

***

I'll conclude on a rather light-hearted and corny note: a black metal band named after the beast itself (well, its place of origin). So, without further ado, the Canadian band Gévaudan (and some of the most processed black metal I've ever heard…granted, it's melodic black metal…kind of catchy though, despite the video's ah…really awesome! cgi): THE ANTI-ART. Don't ask me why they aren't wearing corpse paint...


(works cited)


"The Beast of Gévaudan." Wikipedia. MediaWiki. Web. 4 May 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beast_of_G%C3%A9vaudan>.

Gévaudan. "MOVING PICTURES - PROMO THE ANTI-ART." Gévaudan. 2007-2008. Web. 09 May 2011. <http://www.gevaudanmetal.com/moving_promo.html>.

Le Pacte Des Loup. Dir. Christophe Gans. Perf. Samuel Le Bihan, Vincent Cassel, Émilie Dequenne. Universal Pictures, 2001. DVD.

"Monsters of the Gévaudan - Jay M. Smith." Harvard University Press. 2011. Web. 09 May 2011. <http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?recid=31127>.

Week 6 - Archives building

This week we ventured down to the Pacific Northwest Archives building. While inside we learned about the building and all of the resources it contains. One interesting fact that I didn’t know about is that the center has to archive e-mails for a set amount of time depending on its importance, and all public officials e-mails are saved for review. The do this so if the politician or public official does any backroom dealings there will be a way to trace it.

There were a few articles on Bigfoot that were more of the same. One was of an old indian woman who hadn’t personally seen the creature, but a friend of hers did. Another articles was about the legislative process of making Bigfoot a protected species, meaning that people cannot hunt Bigfoot in Whatcom county. I find this one to be interesting because the county is saying bigfoot exists by passing hunting laws on him.


A few years ago I found an amazing book called "Gnomes". I is a beautifully illustrated and cleverly written field journal of gnome-culture. The tongue-in-cheek tone of the writing has convinced more than one of my friends that this is an authentic account of human/gnome interaction. The gnome information that it covers includes: anatomy, courtship rituals, basket weaving techniques, language, and other behavior.
The book was first published in Dutch in 1976. It was translated to English in 1977. It is the first in a series of gnome books written by Wil Huygen, a Dutch physician and author.It was so popular that it spawned several animated TV shows and films.
Though fictional, The book follows traditional beliefs on how gnomes appear, behave, and interact with the environment.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Book time!

I figured I already have quite a few website sources, but I haven't really looked into books, so I found a great book on Google Books entitled, "Anomalous Experiences: Essays from Parapsychological and Psychological Perspectives" by Matthew D. Smith. It is actually a really interesting book. I looked at some of the other chapters and topics that were covered in it and they ranged from telling the future to apparitions, which is where the topic of the Black Phantom Dog appeared (pun intended). I wasn't able to view the entire entry because of the lovely copyright restrictions, but it might be good to find the book to read the rest. The section about black phantom apparitions provided some great insight about the cultural source hypothesis, which is proposed by David Hufford. The hypothesis states that with anyone who experiences supernatural experiences, "the experiences are either fictitious products of tradition or imaginary subjective experiences shaped (or occasionally even caused) by tradition" (127). It's a good bit of insight, tying culture to things that are seen. I feel like the hypothesis makes sense on some level, because our culture definitely shapes our life experiences and things that happen to us, so if someone has traditions that involve phantoms or seeing apparitions, it is not uncommon for them to witness some sort of phantom. Dun dun dun, so we may actually be "imagining" everything.