Saturday, January 19, 2013

Phantom Cats
This website gives a short description of what a phantom cat is. They describe it as a large cats with dark fur that not only exist in an area where large cats shouldn't live but also where strange occurrences take place. These occurrences can be anything from stalling cars to mutilated livestock and wild life. Some people think they might not be from Earth.
I haven't yet decided if this will definitely be my topic. The alien aspect of it threw me off a bit. There are so many choices of creatures we could choose so it will be difficult to choose just one.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Large Birds

Instead of studying the phoenix, I will be studying large birds in different cultures.  Choosing a few birds to compare and contrast.  To start off my research I will be researching for my top bird choices.  Starting with basic research and birds present in entertainment.  I want to have a variety of birds.  Some familiar but some that I have never heard off.  Does anyone have any recommendations of where to start?
So after the in-class search on Hellhounds in the university library, I decided to try the public library.  I found nothing on Hellhounds using either the keyword or subject search, so I broadened my search and just went with myths or monsters.  This yielded a wonderful find in the form of the book "Giants, Monsters & Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend and Myth", by Carol Rose.  Through this book I have found numerous other names for Hellhounds, as well as the references for the entries.  I plan on beginning the search for all of the referenced items next week.

Mermaid Sightings



As I began my research on Mermaids, I thought that my first post would be about various “sightings” from all over the world and throughout history. Most of the population today believes that mermaids are purely mythological creatures, obviously because, a woman with a fish tail that lives underwater is biologically impossible. So why have so many people claimed that they have seen Mermaids?
Christopher Columbus claimed that he saw three mermaids come high up out of the water, saying that they weren’t as pretty as he thought they would be. This is most likely because what he was really seeing were manatees. Other explorers such as Henry Hudson and John Smith have also claimed that they have seen mermaids as well.
In British Columbia, a mermaid sighting occurred in 1967 when people saw a woman with the “tail of a dolphin” while on a Ferry in Active Pass near Victoria. Apparently she had beautiful blonde hair and was spotted eating salmon. People became obsessed with finding her again but she hasn’t been seen since.
More recently in 2009, numerous eye witnesses claimed that they saw a mermaid off the coast of Kiryat Yam, Israel. This particular mermaid apparently only comes out at sunset. 




Legendary Griffin



                The first web source I thought that would be great to look at first is Wikipedia. On Wikipedia it first off shows the different types of ways that a griffin can be spelled. Which at first I had no idea because the monster or cryptid that I am doing if the mythological griffin or some may say gryphon/griffon. It is the legendary creature that is believed to have the body and tail of lion but with head and the wings of an eagle. Wikipedia shows the history of this ancient legendary creature that traces back to 3300 B.C. and it also shows the different folklore of this beast. This beast is one that has been seen in different areas, for power, protection and architecture. I am excited to see more sources explain the use of griffins being protectors of gold
The Griffin traces back to Ancient Egypt and even during the “silk road” expedition. This beast some cultures have said are to be powerful because the lion is king of the jungle and the eagle is the king of the air. Some cultures classify this beast to be the called a cherub or some king of angel. I love how this wiki page explains the misconception of the griffin based on the Altai Mountains of Scythia and that griffins come from a fossilized protoceratops.
                This page will be one that I will be using definitely in my research because this page includes 27 notes and references that they used and also readings used from this webpage are four different readings. This page is awesome on the historical facts on the griffin by far! Wiki also includes more external links that I will be using for future postings on my monster. This beast has been around for years based on all the information that wiki had to provide for readers and a researcher which makes this topic easier to use. Fun fact about the griffin is that in the Busch gardens there is a ride the griffin and hockey teams have the mascot being griffins.
Again wiki is a reliable source in starting research and knowing what other web pages have to offer on the griffin.
Grand Rapids Griffins.svg

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Nessie!

For this first post, I decided to look at the wikipedia article for the Loch Ness Monster, which is quite long and seems to be rife with some interesting books/articles/documentaries to look into. Even though references to a monster in the locality of Loch Ness seem to date back to the 6th century (in The Life of Saint Columba), the legend of "The Loch Ness Monster" start in the early 1930s and go forward.

I was surprised at the number of actual expeditions there have been over the years, and I think that will be a good subject/category to look for as I get further into my research. Obviously people who go on expeditions looking for Nessie (or who work for the Loch Ness Phenomena Information Bureau, which existed from 1962 to 1972) think she is real, and there are plenty of people jumping up to debunk their findings. This is great for the purposes of having a believer/skeptic stance in multiple types of media, one of the things I want to try and make sure to blog about.

Looking into the references and additional reading suggestions, there are a total of 128 references, some of which are duplicates or not totally relevant to the monster, 10 books, 1 documentary and six external links, and the wiki link to Loch Ness Monster in Popular Culture led me to at least one mockumentary and a british spoof comedy from 1986 that sounds too hilarious not to try and find on YouTube.

Finally, looking at the list of episodes of Monster Quest, there are multiple episodes that deal directly with Nessie or other lake monsters, so I will be watching those as well. And I've figured out the best shirt to wear for my presentation:

(It's a threadless shirt. You can buy it here but they're sold out right now.)

Chupacabra


I started my search off with Wikipedia to gain basic information on this cryptid. Chupacabra derives its name from the Spanish words chupar "to suck" and cabra "goat". This very literal name helps us infer as to the nature of this cryptid which is in fact sucking the blood out of goats. This monster is said to be roughly the size of a small bear with a spiky spine similar to that of reptile that spans from its neck to the base of its tail. Though it is partial towards goats Chubacabra also enjoys the blood of various livestock as well as dogs. When these animals in question are found dead they all have 3 tiny puncture wounds on their chest that serve as the points where their blood was completely drained from by the "animal". These puncture wounds are what lead people to blame Chupacabra as opposed to normal predators such as foxes and wolves.

Wikipedia also helped me to pinpoint what areas Chupacabra frequented, and eyewitness accounts ranged from Maine, Russia, the Phillipines, but primarily Latin American communities with the first sighting dating back to the late 1990's in Puerto Rico. However looking deeper I realized that the Chupacabra sightings in Puerto Rico were different then those sighted in the United States, where they use the term to describe dogs or coyotes severely afflicted by mange and not a monster.

Reviewing the references of this Wikipedia article I ran into more dead links than I would have liked but I did find an interesting article on how someone thought they found Chupacabra dead in Texas and used it to sell T-shirts of the monster, as it turns out it was just a dog(  http://news.mongabay.com/2007/0904-chupacabra.html). Though this was not very pertinent to my search it did lead me to two newspapers from Puerto Rico El Vocero and El Nuevo Dia that reported on the early Chupacabra sightings, which I hope to explore more when we get into our newspaper potions of the class.






Phantom Cats

I wanted to start off my research by looking for books about phantom cats in Western's library, since I thought Wednesday's lecture was very interesting. However, I couldn't find anything in the catalogue and so decided to look at the cryptomundo site shown to us on the first day of class. I wound up opening a bunch of tabs, and though I haven't finished reading through all of them (I've saved all the urls), I thought I'd share this article, a distinction that I think will be important to my research as I move forward: that "phantom panthers" refer mainly to the big cats seen in North America, while "alien big cats" is a more general term. I think it's kind of intriguing, and I want to pay attention to how future articles define their cryptid cats: does location and label make a difference in how the cryptid hunters treat their quarry? Are the attitudes of North American hunters different from their European brethren?

And something that has just occurred to me as I think about comparing the two - are there cryptid cats in Asia? Looking through my open cryptomundo links, I see that there is one about a cryptid cat in Africa, one in Afghanistan, and one in India; the majority of the links are for sightings of cats in America. This may be due in part to the fact that cryptomundo is an American site, but I will have to look at the number of sightings worldwide. If the sightings of big cats in Asia is much lower than in other parts of the world (specifically Europe and North America), why? Is it because there are fewer big cats in Asia? I don't think that's the case, since the world's largest (confirmed) cat, the Siberian Tiger, makes its home in the Russian Far East.

This seems to imply that Asian cultures are much less sensationalist, or perhaps alarmist, that the U.S. or European countries such as Britain. That's probably not exactly the right wording, though "skeptical" doesn't seem to fit, either. I think what I'm trying to get at is the value of cryptid cats as a story: in Europe and North America, mysterious sightings (of any type) are a big deal; in Asia, they aren't.

On the nature of the Jersey Devil

The Jersey Devil is a legendary creature said to live in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. According to the legend, a woman named Deborah Leeds gave birth to the monster, her thirteenth child. Some say that the child was cursed because it was born thirteenth, and other accounts report that it was born hideously deformed.

The creature is described as a hoofed biped somewhat resembling a kangaroo, with the head of a goat, bat-like wings, small arms with clawed hands, and a forked tail. It is also said to emit a blood-curdling scream.

To start my research, I asked a friend of mine, who lives in New Jersey, for a current local perspective on the Jersey Devil. He told me that the town he lives in is about 20 minutes from the house the Jersey Devil is said, in some traditions, to have been born in. He said that when he was in high school, he and his knucklehead friends would sometimes drive out there after they'd been drinking, and throw bottles at the house, in an attempt to rouse the Jersey Devil, although most encounters with the Devil have been reported in the Pine Barrens. I asked him what the locals thought about the Devil, and he said most people were too religious to believe in any kind of devil.

I have found some basic information on the Jersey Devil on Wikipedia. In attempt to gain more insight, I have explored some of the sites that the Wikipedia article references. However, this can be problematic, as in instances like this site:

http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art57572.asp

which is cited as a source by the Wikipedia article on the Jersey Devil, yet which cites the Wikipedia article on the Jersey Devil as one of its sources.

Of course, the Wikipedia article also cites sources that are apparently more reputable, such as the following article from the BBC: http://www.h2g2.com/approved_entry/A16646295. On further inspection of this article, it appears that it is not actually from the BBC. The link in Wikipedia's reference link has been disguised to give it the appearance of more credibility.

Then there is also this article from a local New Jersey newspaper, which reports alleged sightings of the Jersey Devil: http://www.gloucestercitynews.net/clearysnotebook/2007/02/in_1909_the_jer.html

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Finding Bigfoot

I didn't really know much about Bigfoot prior to this class, other than seeing the famous Patterson footage from ages ago. I decided that before I dive into my research, I should probably get a better idea of what kind of views on the subject are even out there. How many people seriously believe that Sasquatches exist? What kind of evidence is out there, if any? What effect have technological and scientific advances had on the process? Luckily, the show Finding Bigfoot exists and was able to bring me up to speed pretty quickly and begin to answer a few of these questions.

From what I can tell so far (after watching two or three episodes), essentially the investigators travel around to different areas with a large quantity of sitings. They interview a few alleged witnesses of these sitings, evaluate their stories using their knowledge of size and known Bigfoot characteristics, as well as spend a night or two in the woods attempting to find and record a Bigfoot of their own. I enjoy that not all of the investigators are believers. One of them, Ranae Holland, is a skeptic, and like most of the population, needs to see to believe. I think she gives the show more credibility.

Despite the fact that this is a highly entertaining show, there are a few things that bug me from a research perspective. The first is that the three investigators that believe Bigfoots exist are constantly describing its characteristics like they would any other animal, and often say "Oh yeah, that's very common". After watching the show I now allegedly know that Bigfoots are highly intelligent, shy, curious, fascinated by children, love looking through windows at sleeping humans, drawn toward loud noises, and countless other descriptions they throw out there like it's common knowledge. I can't think of any way they could have possibly gathered all of this definitive information without actually observing and studying the creature at length, and if they somehow have, they don't give any proof of it. Another flaw is their readiness to believe the witnesses. This topic is prime for controversy and hoaxes and when you add the element of a national television show, people are bound to make stuff up in order to receive their 15 minutes of fame and it would be so easy in this show.

In conclusion, Finding Bigfoot is an interesting source of information and a good introduction to my research. I plan on watching a couple more episodes and from there I will use my questions from the show to lead me in the direction of more concrete and hopefully scientific sources. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Beast of Bray Road and Shapeshifting Werewolves

So I started looking around on the interwebs last night and stumbled upon a few youtube videos about the Beast of Bray road—one of these was a Monster Quest episode. It included many interviews of individuals who had claimed to see the Wolfman, but it also mentioned something about native american shapeshifters. Actually, the shapeshifters might have been mentnioend in a news article I found. I'll have to find it again at a later date seeing as I'm having troubles finding it again at the moment. Anywhoo, I've decided that since wolfmen are often described portrayed as a man turning into some sort of half man/half beast creature, and the Beast of Bray Road is described as a wolfman, it wouldn't hurt to look into the old culture of native american indians and see what they had to say about shapeshifters while I research the wolfman.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Beginning My Research

I decided to begin my search on YouTube to see what kinds of sightings people might have posted. I came upon an episode of Monster Quest which ended up taking an hour of my time, but proving to be very interesting. It gave information dating as far back as 1609 when the French explorer Samuel De Champlain recorded seeing a monster-like creature in the lake he was mapping out which would eventually have his name. Over one hundred people have reported seeing 'Champ' as they call the loch ness monster.

Jackalopes

While I found much information about legends of jackalopes in the west/midwest United States, Sweden ("Skvader"), and Germany ("Wolperdinger") I couldn't find many sources that talked about recent sighting in a non-joking manner or even suggested that people currently believe in jackalopes. Most sources I found conclude that animals people thought were jackalopes were infected with Shope Papilloma Virus which causes the growth of keratin tumors, which can look like horns or antlers. Thus, I have decided that I should choose another animal instead of the Jackalope for my project.