Tag Archives: cryptozoology

247 – Hunting An Enigma: The Lake Monsters Of Ireland

Everyone knows about the Loch Ness Monster, everybody has heard about the Sasquatch. Nessie and Bigfoot are the two most famous cryptids in the world. Even most Forteans have heard of Champ, the sea serpent that is said to roam the waters of Lake Champlain between Vermont and Quebec, first seen in the New World in 1609. But most people have never heard of the Master Otter, who’s been seen a lot more recently than that.

What, you say? What’s a Master Otter? Well, it’s only the biggest and baddest river mammal around. And it’s deadly even, it’s said to have killed an Irish woman in the Seventeen Century and her gravestone still bears a picture of the beast. When’s the last time Bigfoot killed anyone, huh?

On the west coast of Ireland in Galway county, in the Connemara region of Ireland, there are many shallow lakes dotting the countryside. It’s a small community of only 32,000 people, but it’s an area that is heavily steeped in traditional Irish history. In fact Gaelic is still spoken in the schools there and it contains the most Irish speakers per capita on the entire island.

And in those shallow lakes, people have long seen monsters with many reports from the 1960s, 1980s, and beyond. Monster hunter Travis Wolfe has had a lifelong interest in cryptozoology and realized that the strange water cryptids of Ireland remain unheralded in modern investigation. He decided he wanted to change all that and called our very own Allison Jornlin, an intrepid monster hunter herself (her research into the Chicago Mothman sightings remains unparalleled) to help with uncovering more of these mysterious creatures.

Travis Wolfe

Two of the main beasties that have been sighted in the Connemara region are the Dobhar-chú , which is the Gaelic word for the Master Otter and the Peiste or the Horse Eel. The Dobhar-chú is often described as a half dog/half fish creature, while the Horse Eel is pretty much exactly what you’re imagining in your brain right now, a horse shaped head and mare with a long (up to 30 feet!) eel body behind.

In fact, the horse eel was a modest cryptozoological sensation in Ireland in the 1960s, here you can find several news reports from Irish television as they interviewed witnesses and covered the various sightings through the decade and beyond:

Travis and Allison have spent a good deal of time studying the evidence and the sightings of these creatures from the Emerald Isle and that’s what we talk about in this episode. But they’re also formulating a plan to get on location and investigate these loughs directly and make a documentary about it. The documentary is called Enigma and they have an Indiegogo campaign to fund the investigation and documentary. With plans for drones, remote control submarines, infrared detection, and more, it’s going to be a full investigation to get real visual proof of either the giant Master Otter or the infamous Horse Eel.

Click here to check out the Indiegogo Campaign for Enigma and discover how you can help in this fascinating investigation into Irish cryptids!

Y is for Yokai: The Japanese Monsters of legend

Japan’s first museum of supernatural monsters opened Friday, April 26, 2019 in Hiroshima. Exhibits at the Miyoshi Mononoke Museum immerse visitors in the strange world of yokai, Japan’s voluminous, colorful bestiary, through historical artifacts and interactive digital installations.

The yokai umbrella covers a legion of legendary creatures including tricksters, phantoms, weird animalistic spirits, and, the unquiet dead known as yurei. Sometimes whimsical and sometimes deadly, these phantasms have a style all their own.

The first reference to Yokai appears in the oldest known work of Japanese literature and the basis of Japanese mythology, the 8th century Kojiki (古事記; Record of Ancient Matters). These spirits embodying the power of place, the ferocity of land and water, and the intensity of human emotion likely grew out of the animism inherent in Shintoism, Japan’s indigenous religion. Although yokai have ancient origins they have inspired many modern media sensations including Yokai Watch, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and, of course, Pokemon.

Although the vengeful hungry ghosts of the variety so famous now in cross-over horror hits like The Ring and The Grudge haunt the most fearsome side of the yokai spectrum, my favorites are those monsters that clearly illustrate the often overlooked Japanese sense of humor. Here are my top 3 yokai!

The Kappa

The Kappa (No, it’s not just a sushi roll.) is a predatory, amphibious water spirit, seemingly half man and half turtle. It preys on unwary swimmers in rivers and lakes drowning them for nefarious purposes. Kappas seek to eat your flesh, suck your blood, and then yank your soul out through your anus. However, the heinous villany of the Kappa can be repelled quite effectively by the common fart. Ubiquitous, embarrassing emissions, in my case, so I’ve never felt so safe . . . and empowered by my wonky digestion. So dear companions, in future, remember, I’m not launching my underwater stink bombs at you. I’m valiantly saving us all from a watery grave.

Tofu Boy

Tofu Kozo, which literally translates as “Tofu Boy”, is a treacherous spirit who takes the form of a small child in antiquated, traditional garb who just wants to offer you some fresh tofu. This would be enough to send most modern Westerners running for the hills. The tofu is not even fried. Instead the block is milky white decorated with a simple red maple leaf. Curiously this sounds a lot like the Canadian flag, but I don’t think we can blame Canada for this one. Apparently the Tofu Boy intends to tempt you with his deadly bait. Even one bite of the tofu will infect you with a nightmarish fatal fungus. But just don’t take tofu from strangers and you’ll be fine.

Tanuki

Tanuki is a shape-shifting racoon dog trickster. The Japanese racoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus), also called the tanuki, is a real, four-legged animal, but it only slightly resembles this mischievous bipedal creature. The Tanuki of legend is a fun-loving prankster who may impersonate your friends to cheat you, but he usually just wants some free food. The true superpower of the Tanuki is not his trickery or his shape-shifting ability, but his enormous and supernaturally versatile testicles. Yes, Tanuki uses his scrotum in a variety of imaginative ways — playing it like a drum, wearing it like a hat, or brandishing it like a weapon. He’s even been known to fly away by inflating his extraordinary nut-sack like a hot air balloon. Today you will commonly find Tanuki statues all around Japan, which serve as both a good luck charm and a reminder not to take life so seriously.

For further reading, I would recommend these books. If they don’t save your life, at least you’ll die laughing.

S Is For Sea Serpent: Ogopogo, Champ, Caddy, and Storsie

if you’ve ever passed a moving body of water and seen something, barely sticking from the surface, you’ve probably had a fleeting moment of wondering Could that be a monster–like Nessie? Odds are, what you saw turned out to be a stick, a turtle, or even a snake–or maybe just some garbage. After all, Nessie is just from Scotland, right? There aren’t any other sea/lake monsters, are there?

Not surprisingly, there are. Some scoff at this notion and say that swells on the surface of a body of water are caused by underwater currents, or that stationary objects, like submerged trees, create the illusion of something swimming, when really it’s just water flowing around the object. They say that this optical illusion causes us to fill in the gaps and imagine a monster.

Others argue differently. They say there are undiscovered, aquatic cryptids around the world. They have photos, witness accounts and even videos of these alleged creatures. Aquatic monsters are everywhere, it seems.

Ogopogo hails from Canada–Okanagan Lake, to be specific, in British Columbia. It has allegedly been seen by natives since the 1800s, and is described as a 40-50 foot sea serpent, like the Mosasaurus.

In 1946, thirty carloads of people reported seeing the creature from Okanagan Mission beach. In 1968, the creature (or, at least, it’s wake) was filmed moving across the lake. In 2011, Ogopogo was captured–on cell phone video

This isn’t the Americas’ only swimming cryptid, by the way. Champ and Caddy are two more cryptids reported in North America. Champ hails from Lake Champlain, which is near Quebec, New York, and Vermont. Sightings go back to before 1609, when the first European settler (Samuel de Champlain) reported the cryptid, describing it as “20-foot serpent thick as a barrel, and a head like a horse”.

On the other side of the continent, back in the Pacific Northwest, Ogopogo’s cousin, Caddy (short for Cadborosaurus) has been sighted in Cadboro Bay, British Columbia for more than 200 years. Like Nessie and Ogopogo, Caddy too has purportedly been photographed and filmed, and is reported to resemble a “huge sea serpent with a horse-like head”.

Leaving America, and crossing back to Europe, one needn’t return to some of the other Lochs in Scotland to search for lake monsters (although several other Lochs also claim to have them). Instead, you could journey to Sweden in search of Storsjöodjuret, a lake serpent seen in Lake Storsjön in Jämtland, and described as looking like a serpentine or aquatic reptile with fins across its back and the head of a dog.

If you strike out in Sweden, fear not, a quick trip to Norway could put you on the track of Selma, a large, snake-like creature believed to reside in Lake Seljord in Seljord, Telemark, Norway. If you aren’t sure what you’re looking for, fear not, Selma appears on the coat of arms of Seljord.

There are many, many more alleged aquatic beasts around the world. Until 2016, you could go to Vietnam and would probably catch a glimpse of such a beast–Cụ Rùa (“great grandfather turtle”), a giant, soft shell turtle of the species Rafetus leloii, which resided in Hoàn Kiếm Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam. There are also countless of tales of giant fish seen as monsters–like the rumored man-sized catfish of Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, or Alaska’s Iliamna Lake Monster, Illie.

It seems that wherever there’s a body of water, there be monsters. Remember that the next time you go swimming and aren’t sure just what that is in the water, just below the surface, heading towards you…

G Is For Gillman: When Paranormal Life Imitates Art

On March 3, 1972, Officer Ray Shockey, of the Loveland Police Department reported seeing something truly bizarre: a large, frog-like creature, measuring 3 to 4 feet in length. This wasn’t the first time creatures like this were reported in Ohio: stories go back to the mid-1950s about 3 to 4 foot tall, bipedal creatures sighted near the Little Miami River. And, Ohio isn’t the only source of reptilian creature stories. A variety of reports exist from around the country, and the world, of upright-walking “lizard men”. But what is really interesting about these sightings is their alternatives in the world of art, or to be more specific, film.

Debuting in 1954, The Creature from the Black Lagoon impressed audiences for decades with its amazing 3D underwater photography and a creature, the Gillman (as fans call him), who was surprisingly advanced compared to other monsters of the genre. In the film, explorers (played by Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, and Richard Denning) journey to the Amazon and encounter an upright, amphibious creature that seems to be intelligent.

In 1955, following the Creature’s box-office success, the first of two sequels was released: Revenge of the Creature. In this sequel, the Gillman (or possibly another Gillman—the film doesn’t really specify) is again located in the Amazon, but this time is captured and transported back to America and put on display in a Marine park. As expected, the Creature escapes and wreaks havoc as he makes his way to the ocean to escape civilization. Of note in this film are the many sequences where the Creature is seen by surprised, incredulous citizens and the police, including a sequence where he crosses a road at night.

Could Revenge of the Creature have inspired later sightings of frog/lizard/reptile men? Did this very popular movie embed itself in our psyches and in akind of amphibious pareidolia cause people surprised by the unexpected to imagine something not just fantastic, but Fortean?

A single instance of paranormal life-possibly-imitating-art wouldn’t be good evidence that this can happen. Afterall, seeing the Gillman crossing a road is a lot different from seeing Jesus on a potato chip. But this isn’t the only known instance suspect sightings possibly based on fiction. And, in a weird case of synchronicity, another such incident, also involving Richard Carlson, may have happened in the 1970s…

Released in 1969, The Valley of Gwanji saw Richard Carlson again returning to the screen to fight the Fortean, this time in the form of a very angry Allosaurus (the titular “Gwanji”) located in a remote, forgotten region of the Mexican desert, at the turn of the 19th-20th Century. Under the direction of Champ Connors (Carlson) and his employer, T.J. Breckenridge (Gila Golan), and assisted by Tuck Kirby (James Francisco), a talent scout for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, the Breckenridge Wild West Show takes a page from the Gillman/King Kong and captures the extant Dinosaur and puts it on display for all to see. Of course, things go wrong, Gwanji eats people, rampages in a Mexican city, and ends up burning down a church.

Now, as far as I know, no one has reported a real-life version of these events, although there are stories of the “Kasai Rex”, Mokele Mbembe’s carnivorous cousin, out of Africa. However, Gwanji’s lost valley wasn’t just home to the reigning Allosaur—it was also home to a prerodactyl-like dino.

In one particular scene of the movie, the pterodactyl swoops down and tries to carry off Lope’, a local boy-merchant who was assisting in the expedition into Gwanji’s valley. There is an extended sequence of the Pterodactyl trying to carry Lope’ away, but the scrawny little entrepreneur is just too heavy.

Fast forward to 1977, and Lawndale, Illinois. There, young, ten-year-old Marlon Lowe was outside, minding his own business one evening, when out of the sky swooped a giant bird that grabbed the boy and tried to carry him away. Fortunately for Marlon, his mother Ruth heard his scream, ran outside and drove away the giant bird and its bystanding companion.

I’ll note that Illinois is known for another giant, flying creature: the Piasa bird of Alton, Illinois, represented by Native American cliffside drawings above the Mississippi River and local legends. However, I also will note that I too was ten years old in 1977, and I vividly recall seeing The Valley of Gwanji on TV many times during the 1970s—it was one of my favorite movies, and still is.

Was Marlon Lowe the victim of a Thunderbird? Or perhaps an out-of-place Stellar Sea Eagle, or a famished, confused Turkey Vulture? Did Marlon and his mother concoct this story after seeing Gwanji’s pterodactyl brethren? Or did they partially-hallucinate/embellish a sighting of a large bird attacking Marlon, with no attempt to carry him away? Yes, there are accounts of large birds carrying off small pets and even attacking children, but there are also accounts of large hawks defending the area around a tree they have a nest in—going so far as to dive-bomb people just walking by.

The Gillman and Gwanji are surely not the only instances of art possibly inspiring the paranormal. The Legend of Boggy Creek was released in 1972. It inspired an increase in Bigfoot sightings thereafter—even one of my own cousins, in rural Southern Indiana, was convinced he saw a ‘squatch not long after seeing Boggy Creek at the drive in. And even the September 20, 1961 Betty and Barney Hill story of alien abduction (which they only remembered after hypnosis) is suspect when one considers the 1951 release of It Came From Outer Space, a film about aliens abducting Earthlings.

Life does indeed imitate art, but perhaps, more often than we’d like to admit, it is inspired by it.

This Week’s Best Paranormal News – April 5th, 2019

Yallow!

It’s Mike from See You On The Othe Side! Hope your week was weird and if it wan’t weird enough, we’re blogging the paranormal from A to Z 6 days a week during April. From Demons to Curses to Bigfoot, we’re covering a whole spectrum of strange stuff. Make sure to check out the See You On The Other Side Blog daily for all the fun!

Now here are the five most interesting paranormal stories that caught our eye this week. 

Is ‘The 37th Parallel’ really the UFO Super Highway?
Syracuse New Times

This story is always a fascinating one and if you haven’t read Ben Mezrich’s book on all of the strange cases surrounding this stretch of the United States, this article will make you want to pick it up right away!

Florida college student believed he was ‘half-dog, half-man’ when he ate victim’s face
WOFL

Classic lycanthropy!

Lawsuit Alleges Hampton Inn Employee Punished For Refusing An Exorcism
LEX18.com

A lawsuit filed in Perry County Circuit Court makes an unusual allegation. A former employee of the Hampton Inn claims that he was discriminated against for refusing a spiritual cleansing. 

Irishman spots Loch Ness Monster for second time in just one month
The Irish Sun

Ahem… the fourth sighting of the Loch Ness Monster this year has been recorded – by an Irishman who has now seen Nessie twice in a month. 

Olivia Newton-John claims she’s haunted by two dead celebrities who boost career
mirror

The Grease star says two of her late famous pals hover around her while she’s performing and act as her spirit guides

Olivia Newton-John – Xanadu
YouTube

For all the kids who saw this movie in the theater (like me!), did we have any idea of what the Hell was going on? But those songs were catchy! From Samuel Tyler-Coleridge’s Kublai Khan to the epitome of cocaine disco excess, Xanadu, my friends was the perfect distillation of the 1970s and the fact that it was a collossal flop spelled the death of disco.

If you haven’t listened to the podcast this week you missed our conversation with The Last Drive-In‘s Joe Bob Briggs and next week we’re bringing Brian Cano on from Haunted Collector and Paranormal Caught on Camera, so make sure to subscribe to not miss any of the good stuff.

Have a haunted weekend!
Mike, Wendy, and the SYOTOS misifts

This Week’s Best Paranormal News – January 18th, 2019

‘Allo!

It’s Mike from See You On The Other Side, coming through your electricity to keep you para-informed!This week started off with a barnburner of a podcast discussing all last week’s best stories. We welcome Robbie Graham (who you might have seen on the last episode of Ancient Aliens!) to the conversation about UFOs, conspiracy theories, Hollywood, and murder. Listen right here!

UFOs in the The New York Times and The New Yorker this week? What?! Well come on along…

https://catholicherald.co.uk/magazine/driving-out-the-devil-whats-behind-the-exorcism-boom/

Driving out the Devil: what’s behind the exorcism boom? | Catholic Herald

An astonishing number of people undergo deliverance from demonic forces every week, but this article gives an excellent overview of how the latest surge in exorcisms might also be because of religious competition in traditionally Catholic South America.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/15/arts/television/project-blue-book-history-true-story.html

‘Project Blue Book’ Is Based on a True U.F.O. Story. Here It Is.

If you wanna know the truth about J. Allen Hynek, you have to read Mark O’Connell’s book. (His parents and mine were friends, so of course we’re going to plug him!) This New York Times article used him as a fact-checker for their story about the real Project Blue Book.

https://people.com/music/glenn-miller-plane-believed-found-wwii-mystery/

Glenn Miller’s Airplane Believed Found 74 Years After Famed Bandleader Vanished During WWII

The disappearance of beloved Big Band leader Glenn Miller has been a mystery since before the end of World War Two. His plane was last seen over the English Channel in 1944 and was never found. People have speculated everything from friendly fire to him being a target of assassination by the Germans because he might have been a spy. But as of today, they think they’ve found the plane.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/the-new-yorker-interview/have-aliens-found-us-a-harvard-astronomer-on-the-mysterious-interstellar-object-oumuamua

Have Aliens Found Us? A Harvard Astronomer on the Mysterious Interstellar Object ‘Oumuamua

Avi Loeb is everywhere lately. Fast radio bursts and discussions why we need to consider the possibility that the object was sent by aliens, the dangers of unscientific speculation, and what belief in an advanced extraterrestrial civilization has in common with faith in God.

https://pilotonline.com/news/nation-world/north-carolina/article_ae39d1d0-1908-11e9-8454-53ea635585b8.html

“Please be advised that the eyes appear to glow”: Bigfoot-like sculpture alarms N.C. drivers

This Bigfoot statue is scaring rural North Carolinians because it’s eyes glow red in the glare of oncoming car lights. They’re calling the cops regularly that they’ve seen Bigfoot. This is what I mean, when people actually think they’ve seen something real, they call the cops. Because if there’s an 8-foot tall apeman on the loose, the authorities might need to be involved. They don’t save their story and put the community in danger just so they can email a frickin’ website a week after they get home.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laHjiAvqL2Q

Glenn Miller and His Orchestra: “That Old Black Magic”

Speaking of Glenn Miller, here’s his version of the most paranormal song we could find of his,  “That Old Black Magic”, which was his last Number One hit in 1943

New podcast episodes come out late Monday nights, make sure you subscribe in iTunes so you don’t miss them!

See ya Monday!
Mike

180 – Small Town Monsters: Hunting Cryptids With Lyle Blackburn

Texas cryptozoologist and paranormal researcher Lyle Blackburn has been hunting mysterious animals since he saw The Legend of Boggy Creek as a kid. A 1972 movie about a strange Bigfoot-like creature who was seen in the small town of Fouke, Arkansas starting in the 1950s, it became a traveling film sensation that made the stories renowned across the United States and had a significant impact on a young Lyle Blackburn.

LYLE BLACKBURN
Lyle Blackburn in Fouke, Arkansas at the site of the Boggy Creek sightings

And Lyle has used his inspiration to not only write two books about the Boggy Creek Monster, but also a lesser-known case (which totally needs its own movie!) about a Lizard Man who was sighted in Bishopville, South Carolina.

As a filmmaker, he’s produced and narrated two  films with the Small Town Monsters team, one on Boggy Creek and one on the Mothman of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and they’re currently working on one set in Wisconsin (oh yeah!)

In his “Monstro Bizzaro” monthly column in Rue Morge magazine, he often delves into the lesser known cryptid stories and legends from all over America as well.

In this interview, we go in-depth with Lyle Blackburn about his favorite monster stories, his investigation style, and the difference between cryptids in different parts of the country. It’s a fun fast-moving discussion that will help you find some investigation inspiration!

Links for Lyle:

For this week’s song, we were inspired by Lyle’s quest for the lesser-known monster stories and cryptid tales of America’s wonderful smaller cities and towns, because even in the “Middle of Nowhere” the weird will find you!

It looks like apple pie and county fairs
baseball games and Sunday prayers
but something strikes uncanny all the same

Watch for the devil hiding concealed
hide from the children in the cornfield,
because you know that nothing is the way it seems.

We don’t need to lock our doors
Cuz evil don’t need to knock
And on every main street square
Lurks a Force under the block
Somewhere in America
The dead will start to walk
In the middle of nowhere
You can’t escape the dark

Watch for the devil hiding concealed
hide from the children in the cornfield,
because you know that nothing is the way it seems

We don’t need to lock our doors
Cuz evil don’t need to knock
And on every main street square
Lurks a Force under the block
Somewhere in America
The dead will start to walk
In the middle of nowhere
You can’t escape the dark

174 – Mothman: Evil Incarnate with Loren Coleman

This week we have two 50th anniversary tragedies that we talk about on the podcast, one musical and one paranormal. The first is that in Madison we’re acknowledging the half-centennial of the death of Otis Redding, whose plane crashed into Lake Monona on December 10th, 1967. He was only 26 years old, just a year off the cursed 27 Club.

The second tragic anniversary has many more overtones of high strangeness. The Silver Bridge collapsed in Point Pleasant, West Virginia on December 15th, 2017 thirteen months to the day after the first reported sighting of the Mothman.

mothman evil incarnate loren coleman
The Mothman as drawn by an eyewitness in 1966.

The Mothman was a winged humanoid with red eyes that people were seeing in the area as well as getting an overwhelming sense of dread.  Once the mothman sightings started happening, other paranormal events began rearing their head. Reports of Men in Black, UFOs, prophetic dreams, and a strange grinning man by the name of Indrid Cold started circulating and everything culminated in the tragic Silver Bridge collapse that killed 46 people on December 15th, 1967.

Researcher John Keel famously collected all these stories and really created the modern narrative of the Mothman with his book, The Mothman Prophecies, in 1975.  It famously becomes a big Hollywood movie in 2002. When Keel became unable to do press for the film, he called upon his old friend  Loren Coleman to handle the interviews.

loren coleman mothman evil incarnate
Allison Jornlin with Loren Coleman (second from left) at the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

Now to say that Loren is a noted cryptozoologist is an understatement, he’s one of the most respected researchers in the field and I’ve been reading his books for decades. He wrote Mothman and Other Curious Encounters in 2002 and even John Keel called it “the most complete overview of the phenomenon.”

Fast forward to 2017 and the Mothman is back in the headlines. This time with alleged sightings all over the Chicagoland area. Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts has been going to the location of the sightings that have been reported and creating videos of the area to help people visualize them. It’s an eye opening look into the painstaking investigative process. Check out her YouTube channel to see her dozens of on-location videos at http://www.youtube.com/mothman.

The anniversary of the Silver Bridge collapse, December 15th, is also  Loren Coleman’s latest book comes out , Mothman: Evil Incarnate. The Mothman hasn’t been content to be in the shadows. Loren talks about the Mothman Death Curse and the misfortune that seems to surround people who find themselves investigating this strange phenomenon decades after the original incident, book, and movie.

This episode is not only a great primer in the history of the Mothman case, but it’s also an insightful look into how Loren Coleman became one of the world’s greatest cryptozoologists as Allison and I get to discuss his investigative process with him.

To get a signed copy of Mothman: Evil Incarnate, click here to buy a signed copy from Loren’s awesome International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

In the episode, we also talk about Wendy’s visit to the Mothman museum in Point Pleasant, West Virginia and her pilgrimage to the new Silver Bridge. Wendy watched The Mothman Prophecies and listened to the original book this summer on a roadtrip and you can check out her reactions above as part of Scott Markus‘ fun video series “A Ghost Hunter Watches”.

One of the things that was surprising about the Mothman story is how UFOs and weirdness seems to occur in Point Pleasant as well, it’s like they didn’t just get one X-File, they got the whole cabinet. Indrid Cold was a mysterious character who showed up during the events and asked people about the lights they saw in the sky. He made mysterious phone calls to Keel, talked to the local reporter, and even was said by one report to speak to someone telepathically.  He was so smily and strange, they called him The Grinning Man.

We don’t feel there’s been enough attention given to Mr. Cold so for this week’s track, we decided to write him his own song. This is Sunspot with “The Grinning Man”.

A form made of chaos
it can smell the blood on you
this planet haunted by us
and the owners want their due

a thin veneer
hiding a zone of fear

it knows your wobbliest spots
sees inside your darkest of hearts
knows every little trick that helps you lose your soul

a banshee screams
burned right into your dreams

When the black wings flutter and red eyes look about
you’ll see the grinning man when the lights go out
then the telephone rings, there’s no one at the end
you’ll see the grinning man when the lights go dead

it knows your wobbliest spots
sees inside your darkest of hearts
this planet haunted by us
the owners want their due

a thin veneer
hiding a zone of fear

When the black wings flutter and red eyes look about
you’ll see the grinning man when the lights go out
then the telephone rings, there’s no one at the end
you’ll see the grinning man when the lights go dead

169 – Hunting The Witch’s Familiar: Dr. Martin Walsh And The Zanzibar Leopard

The last time we had Dr. Martin Walsh on we discussed his experiences in Zanzibar during the Popobawa panic in the mid-90s and we knew that there was more that we wanted to talk to him about. Not only is Dr. Walsh an anthropologist who has studied social phenomena for decades, he’s also one of the leaders of the search for the Zanzibar Leopard, a unique species of big cat thought to be possibly extinct.

zanzibar leopard martin walsh
A stuffed version of the Zanzibar Leopard

Zanzibar is an island off the coast of Tanzania and because of that separation, it’s thought that the leopard native to the island developed in isolation for thousands of years. It became smaller than mainland leopards as well as literally “changing its spots”,  but it also was a victim of local folklore and that has contributed to its disappearance.

As Dr. Walsh wrote with his partner in the quest for the leopard, Dr. Helle Goldman in their work, “Killing the king: the demonization and extermination of the Zanzibar leopard“, while there has always been friction between humans and leopards (with documented attacks on livestock and even children) a legend that the leopards belonged to witches made the beasts a feared animal much of the time.

martin walsh helle goldman zanzibar leopard
Helle Goldman reviewing camera trap footage in September 2017

But that ended after the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution. A witch-hunter named Kitanzi led a movement to eliminate these witches from the island, and slaughtering the leopards was one way of getting that done. This extermination continued all the way to the 1990s and by that point a researcher hadn’t documented a wild Zanzibar leopard sighting since the 80s. In rural areas of the island though, reports of the leopard still turn up and that’s where our heroes have to look.

martin walsh helle goldman Zanzibar leopard
Another view of the faded stuffed leopard in the Zanzibar museum

Walsh and Goldman are following the case of the Zanzibar leopard like a Bigfoot hunter or a Nessie aficionado, they’re cryptozoological investigators who are hunting a mysterious animal and trying to find any evidence of its continued existence. That’s what this interview is all about and if you’re interested in cryptozoology or African culture,  there is a lot for you to enjoy in this episode.

martin walsh zanzibar leopard
Walsh interviewing local wildlife expert Shabani Imani in September 2017 (he’d recently fallen out of a coconut palm!)

In fact, in this interview, Martin talks about how sometimes people claim to have the leopards and they’ll contact Tanzanian wildlife officials saying they’ve captured one. One time they even said that they had leopard cubs in captivity, but when the proof was required, all they really seemed to be were a couple of (admittedly very cute) kittens.

martin walsh helle goldman zanzibar leopard
These look like leopard cubs to you?

If you’re academically inclined (and even if you’re not, it’s a fascinating read), please check out  Drs. Walsh and Goldman’s papers on “Cryptids and credulity: the Zanzibar leopard and other imaginary beings” and “Chasing imaginary leopards: science, witchcraft and the politics of conservation in Zanzibar“. We encourage you to check out their blog as well, it’s an awesome resource in learning how to hunt cryptids scientifically!

dr martin walsh zanzibar leopard
Dr. Martin Walsh

Now, not that this obsession consumed Martin (that we know of!) because the Zanzibar Leopard was killed off by superstition and political unrest, but the song this week inspired by the conversation is a little more about the Captain Ahab-esque hole that you can dig yourself into when your interest becomes an obsession, this is a new Sunspot track called “Chasing Devils”.

You dreamed of danger
you dreamed of risk
You dreamed of chasing devils dusk to dawn and waiting for their kiss
You wished for abuse
Hoped for neglect
Wishing for an oppressor you could fight and a cause you could insurrect

You want to roam
far away from home
but these imaginary devils
are all better left alone
And when they’re found
they won’t make a sound
because the creatures of the night will be gone
when you finally come down

You wanted action
You made it hot,
But the more you got the more you needed and the more that you got lost.
The taste of danger
the sweet of risk
When you’re busy chasing devils you’re too high to know you’re sick

You went to roam
far away from home
but these imaginary devils
were all better left alone
When they were found
they made no sound
because the creatures of the night were all gone
when you finally came down

And, hey, we’ve got a double dose of art this week, Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts was so inspired by the conversation that she wrote a poem, check it out!

Imaginary Animals

The leopard in the dark,
Was it ever really there?
Eyes dilate to welcome the night,
Body bristling,
Holding your breath,
Shuddering,
As it passes beside you,
Close enough to brush your skin.
That is certain.
Isn’t it?
Some sensation fanned out within,
Tasting it,
Feeling the heat,
Fingers of energy,
Reaching out and scalding,
Wheels of light,
Spiralling deep inside,
Spinning,
Dizzying,
Then nothing.
Conspicuously alone,
Again.
Left wondering,
What remains,
When the sacred night crumbles?

66 – Exploring Cryptozoology: A Panel with Linda Godfrey, J. Nathan Couch, and Jay Bachochin

Cryptozoology is the study of creatures that are only rumored to exist. “Crypto” is ancient Greek for “hidden” or “secret” and “zoology” is the study of animals. So, right there, the word defines itself – cryptozoology is the study of hidden or secret animals. These secret animals are called “cryptids”. The suffix “-id” is another part of language derived from Greek to mean “belonging to” or classified as – think the word “hybrid”, belonging to two things – a cryptid is something that is classified as hidden or secret. Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, the Chupacabra, and the Thunderbird are all examples of cryptids.

While there are plenty of legends and myths surrounding most cryptids, Cryptozoology is more science than magic. While new large animal species are discovered only rarely (as compared to insects, where it seems like new species are discovered all the time), it’s not unheard of for them to be discovered, particularly underwater. The most famous example of this is the Coelacanth, a fish that scientists thought was extinct for millions of years, but it turns out that we just weren’t looking deep enough into the ocean.

It’s so ugly, WHY did we want to find it again?

Even the kangaroo was thought of as a mythical beast at one time. When people brought back reports of a man-sized hopping animal that had two heads (one at the top and one by their stomach) people thought it was crazy. But by now, pretty much all of us have probably at least seen a kangaroo in a zoo, maybe even with a joey in its pouch. Mythical beast? Not really. Just more cute than anything else. The Komodo Dragon, Giant Squid, and even the Mountain Gorilla were all rumored at one time to be figments of overactive imaginations. Now we know better.

It’s a two-headed hopping monster! AGHGGHHHHHHHHHHH!

In this episode, we bring together three honest-to-goodness experts in the field of cryptozoology. While there are no accredited programs in the field currently, our intrepid panel has taken it upon themselves to dedicate much of their lives to understanding these mysteries and we respect their scholarship and field research.

Linda Godfrey uncovered tales of an upright wolf creature in Elkhorn, WI in the early 1990s called the Bray Road Beast. Since then she’s become a leader in the field when it comes to mysterious beasts and strange phenomena. J. Nathan Couch is the author of two books on paranormal topics His latest is the Goatman: Flesh or Folklore. And last, but not least is a Jay Bachochin, a Wisconsin researcher who hunts the truth, and one of the hardest working investigators out there in the field of Bigfoot research. He has clocked countless hours searching for the unknown.

The revolution will be webcast...
The revolution will be webcast…

So, it’s our biggest discussion ever as Wendy, Allison, and I share the table with our experts. From Mammoth Cave to Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine, Ireland’s Blarney Castle, and more, everyone retells their favorite stories as well as personal brushes with the uncanny that have had a big impact on our lives. Jay even tries to call Bigfoot with a special Sasquatch Call, so make sure to listen to this one with headphones on, because you don’t want to attract Bigfoot to your home!

Looking for Bigfoot? Just blow on this!
Looking for Bigfoot? Just blow on this!

No wonder we love monsters, no wonder we’re in awe of the unknowable. People love a mystery (remember LOST, I know you do and I miss it too, at least the good seasons), and we are in love with the notion that maybe that’s not all there is. If there are creatures out there that we cannot find, then maybe we don’t have it all figured out. Maybe the world is bigger than we can categorize or pinpoint, maybe we just want some romance back in our lives, where not everything is quantified and classified. A life’s work of searching for the unknown at least on its surface, feels much more meaningful than shuffling paper back and forth or analyzing spreadsheets. Because that sure doesn’t feel like a life’s work.†

Whatever post-Industrial Revolution Hell we’ve created for ourselves with factories churning out pollution to make trinkets that we don’t want, food that we’re told is bad for us, and vocations that are only meaningful in their relation to profits certainly could use a little mystery, couldn’t it?

And that’s what this week’s song is about, “Mystery” by Sunspot.

I met a girl who used to dance with some flowers in her hair, barefoot in the street to a song that seemed
only she could hear.
Well, we talked all night about wrong and right,
we talked the Bible and prophecy.
She said she don’t care to what God I swear,
as long as I don’t tell her what to believe.

She said

When we know all there is to know,
and there’s nothing left to comprehend,
when you think you found what you’re looking for,
I believe it’s time you think again.
Don’t try so hard to understand,
the things you don’t need your eyes to see.
For knowing it all ain’t part of the plan,
so just enjoy the mystery.

I met an old man who used to laugh,
at some gag I couldn’t hear,
out loud and big, while he took a swig,
with some joker that wasn’t there.
Well, he lectured me on our frailty,
the difference between man and divine,
so don’t waste your breath talking ’bout your death,
you’ll live longer than you are alive.

He said

When we know all there is to know,
and there’s nothing left to comprehend,
when you think you found what you’re looking for,
I believe it’s time you think again.
Don’t try so hard to understand,
the things you don’t need your eyes to see.
For knowing it all ain’t part of the plan,
so just enjoy the mystery.