Is there room in the Para/Crypto/Fortean world for a gun-toting, paranoid, bipolar, opinionated bastard? A lonely romantic in search of his lost soul? A knight, Samurai, gunslinger, born in the wrong century? A self-destructive, doom-driven survivor seeking redemption? A heavy drinking gonzo outlaw cryptozoologist whose ego is exceeded only by his libido?
No, there isn't. That's why I'm here...

29 June 2008

Air Show Tragedy

I had occasion to spend a night at the Embassy Suites hotel in Huntsville this weekend. This morning as we were going to breakfast, we realized that the Navy's Blue Angels were staying there also. They were to perform at the Huntsville Air Show this weekend, so I'm sure some of the other guests were attending also. I jokingly asked one of the Blue Angels if the glass elevators bothered him.
I returned home this morning. This afternoon, I was lying on the couch, no tv or radio on. I was just finishing "The Mothman Prophecies". As I got closer to the end of the book and the climactic Silver Bridge collapse, I began to feel physically ill. I felt severely nauseated, extremely weak, and felt sort of hot and feverish. I just figured it must have been a delayed reaction to the margaritas from last night. It kept getting worse, but I was determined to finish the book and take a nap. I checked my temperature and it was 99.1, this was at 2:00 PM. I kept checking it, and it was slowly dropping until it finally got down to normal at approximately 2:20, at which time the other symptoms began to subside.
I suddenly got the feeling that something had happened at the air show. I don't know how or why, but I felt like something bad had happened. I turned on the TV to a local station, and the crawl at the bottom of the screen with the heading "Air show tragedy" was displayed. My first thought was "Oh God, there's been a crash!" As it turned out, there was a freak microburst of wind, blowing away some of the big event tents. 12 people were injured, and a 5-year-old boy was killed. The wind hit at 2:00 PM.
Not all Fortean, or psychic, or synchronistic events are fun, cool, or amusing.
Sometimes weirdness really sucks.
My thoughts go out to those affected by the tragedy.

28 June 2008

The Gummerwagon, My Research Vehicle






Here's a few shots of the Jeep, my Paranormal Research Vehicle.
2007 Jeep Commander Limited Hemi, Quadradrive II 4x4 system, skid plates, tow hooks, buncha neat factory options.
I've added the dash cam, additional front mounted video monitor for video playback and remote camera monitoring, a pair of Optronics remote-controlled spotlights (can be independently aimed from inside, great for illuminating the side of the road or low-flying aerial phenomena, I can control one and my lingerie or miniskirt-clad assistant can control the other), a mutiband police scanner (for intercepting reports, I've also programmed it with Forest Service frequencies), and of course, a shrunken zombie head.
You may also notice the maps of the local forest in the door panel pocket.
I'm also installing some items in the rear for a comortable sleeping compartment.
Future mods will include a light bar and more lights, a mild lift, more aggressive tires, and a cargo rack. Despite being the biggest vehicle Jeep has produced, it still suffers from the age-old Jeep dilemma of carrying either passengers, or carrying stuff but not at the same time.

Emails

Just a quick note: When contacting me via email, please write something to do with this blog (title, subject, topic) in the subject line so I'll know if the email pertains to the blog.
Any other subject lines ("Hi", "Hello", "Hey, there!") will be deleted as spam.
I enjoy hearing from y'all, whether it's a question, promise of glory, sighting report, proposition, invitation to investigate, or hot bikini pics. :D But if the subject line doesn't indicate that it pertains to this site, I won't bother reading it.
Thanks,
Gummerfan

25 June 2008

Thunderbird Sighting!

Anybody up for a "classic" Thunderbird sighting? Earlier this evening, I was out on my porch watching the sky. A storm system was moving in and I was just looking at the clouds.
I saw a really big bird circling overhead. At first, I thought it was just a buzzard, but then I realized how high it was, and it still looked huge. I won't pretend I can estimate wingspin, size, or altitude.
Where the bird was circling, there was a hole in the clouds with a sunbeam shining through. I watched it for about ten minutes, as it circled and climbed higher and higher. It was gliding the majority of the time, only slowly flapping its wings a couple of times during the entire sighting. I debated about grabbing a video camera since, A: Past experience has taught me that no matter how long I observe something, if I go to get a camera, it's gone when I get back, and B: Since there wouldn't be any object in the shot to provide a size reference, any video wouldn't be of much value.
But, finally I ran in to grab the video camera, hoping maybe the zoom would reveal some details of the creature. When I got back out, sure enough, it was gone.
From my porch, I have a really wide field of view of the sky. If the bird had gone anywhere else but into or above the clouds, it would have been easy to spot again.
I kept watching the clouds pass over until the rain and lightening started, but it never re-emerged.
A popular theory is that Thunderbirds (whatever they may be), use the strong air currents ahead of thunderstorms to provide lift and propulsion to migrate along a North-South migratory route. I'm in North Alabama, it's Summer, and this big bird was headed North.
So, there you have it. A completely unsupported, unverifiable account of a possible cryptid. Typical, huh?

22 June 2008

Random Cinematic Monster Hunter Salute: Phantasm

Back in the 80's, even before I'd ever heard of Burt Gummer, I remember staying up late one night to watch Phantasm. What really impressed me about the movie was the fact that Mike, Reggie, and Jody had what we call "some sense".
Unlike the helpless, screaming, running, panicking victims so prevalent in monster/horror movies, these were the first guys I recall seeing who actually fought back. And they did it with STYLE.
When Mike went to investigate the mausoleum the first time, I remember saying to myself, "There's no way I'd go in there without a flashlight and a Colt .45!" (I'm serious, I REALLY did say this to myself!) After his escape, Mike is found by his brother Jody asleep on the stairs, propping on a .12 gauge riot gun. (STYLE!) After telling Jody about his experience, the brothers return, this time carrying (yep, you got it!) a flashlight and a Colt .45. (STYLE!)
As the brothers are joined by their friend Reggie, they do battle with the Tall Man and his gang of dwarves. In one scene, Jody "skeet shoots" one of the Tall Man's deadly silver spheres. (STYLE!)
They also have a cool car chase with the Tall Man's hearse pursuing the guys in their Hemi 'Cuda. (STYLE!)
As the series continued through the sequels, our guys add to their arsenal. There's the obligatory flamethrower, a couple of magnum revolvers, and of course, the Improvised Quad-Barrelled Shotgun. (the coolest weapon I'd NEVER want to fire, but it did have a certain STYLE!).
In one of those odd quirks of life, if you update the Colt 1911, the shotgun, and the Hemi 'Cuda to a Glock 20, a Saiga-12gauge, and a Hemi Jeep Commander, you'd have, well, me.
Style is eternal, but somehow "MikeJodyReggiefan" doesn't have the same ring to it.

21 June 2008

Faces of Cryptozoology

Redneck Cryptozoology: "Well, it's dead, whatever it was!"

Politically Correct Cryptozoology: "Working to increase awareness of the taxonomically challenged."

Co-ed Naked Cryptozoology: "Tirelessly probing the bush in the hope of finding something new."

Kangaroo in Pensacola, FL?

Okay, so it's not a monster, but it's still unusual:

June 19, 2008
Are you missing a kangaroo?Sean Dugassdugas@pnj.com
A large animal — possibly a kangaroo — has been spotted twice on the Pensacola Junior College main campus on Ninth Avenue.
Campus police said the first sighting occurred a week ago when a large animal — believed to be about 5 feet tall — was seen jumping into bushes, PJC Police Chief Nancy Newland said this morning.On Wednesday morning, a custodian saw what she thought was a kangaroo hopping on campus, said Newland, who has worked in law enforcement for more than 30 years.“We have rumors of two other sighting on campus,” she said. “We called The Zoo (Northwest Florida) and the circus, and no one is missing a kangaroo.”Newland said police have checked to see if anyone is the area has a license to keep exotic animals, but the search has yielded no leads. “We are still searching anytime we get a reported sighting ... even if it’s three in the morning,” she said. “We are just as perplexed as everyone.”



Certainly an out-of-place animal. In his classic work Mysterious America, Loren Coleman documents American sightings of 'roos or 'roo-like creatures dating back to the 1940's. The typical official explanation is the usual story of escaped zoo animals or exotic pets, even though this explanation never seems verifiable. In the Pensacola case, there is another zoo located in Gulf Shores, AL, which is literally a hop, skip, and a jump from Pensacola. The only problem is that they are seperated by a wide bay. So, I doubt the 'roo originated across the state line, unless it was roonapped and transported.

So, just how DO these misplaced kangaroos arrive on our shores? Here are a few possibilities:

The US has a hidden breeding population of kangaroos or kangaroo-like animals.

They're a misidentified big-ass giant jackrabbit. (remember the Beverly Hillbillies episode?)

Or for those who gravitate toward the paranormal:

There exists some kind of vortex in Australia into which kangaroos occasionally wander, and the hapless critter is teleported to the USA. (can't help but wonder why there aren't any Mystery Koalas or Frilled Lizards or Platypi)

Maybe the creatures' appearances here are related to some kind of Aboriginal religious ceremony of celebration? (the Summer Solstice just occurred, did it not?)

Aliens are trying to establish a colony here for reasons known only to them.

Or maybe it's the work of the Trickster or Cosmic Joker (just to, y'know, mess with us)

Whatever the answer is, if the kangaroos know, they ain't talking.

(Hmmm...mysterious talking kangaroos? Now there's a story!)

17 June 2008

More Thoughts On Bigfoot "Humanity"



"Patty is human"- M.K. Davis


"Marcel said, 'Haw! Don't let that thing outta that cage! He looks too much like FOLKS to be gettin' outta there!'"- Jerry Clower- "The Coon Huntin' Monkey"


"I couldn't shoot, it looked too human"- credited to numerous Bigfoot witnesses-




While reading up on the latest in the whole "Patty is human/Bluff Creek Massacree" deal, I remembered the above lines, as well as recalling my reaction when I first saw a picture of the famous "Oliver the Chimp", aka the "Humanzee".


I've already stated my position on Davis's findings regarding Patty's alleged human-ness, and I see no point in even discussing the Bluff Creek Bigfoot Massacree, but I've had that image of Oliver in my mind. The first time I saw it, I couldn't shake the feeling that this was no ordinary chimp. Aside from Oliver's appearance, it just looks to me like there's something going on behind those eyes. While science has determined that Oliver is indeed just a chimp, in that picture he looks "too human". If I had that face in my sights, I couldn't pull the trigger, either.
Bigfoot, or Patty, may truly be just taxonomically challenged primates, but to follower's of Davis's theory and in the minds of many witnesses, they look "too much like FOLKS".


15 June 2008

The Great Giant Catfish Hunt pt 2

Okay, now that I've talked about the stories of giant catfish and the possibility of their existence, how does one go about catching one? I've been kicking around a few ideas.
Plan A: Take 1 boat, 1 hot-bodied bikini-clad female First Mate, and a few explosive devices. We'll just putter back and forth in at the dam, deploying the depth charges over the side in the hope that a GC will be stunned and rise to the surface.
There are a few problems with this plan. Getting a boat is no problem, of course, but the thought of being apprehended tossing unlicensed explosive devices at the base of a hydroelectric dam and the subsequent one-way trip to Guantanamo Bay is quite a deterrent.
Plus, I've had no luck recruiting a buxom beauty to serve as First Mate. (this detail is an absolute REQUIREMENT, I just don't see a way the plan could work otherwise)

Plan B: Similar to Plan A, except for the use of baited grappling hooks rigged with smaller charges, electrically detonated from the surface at the first sign of a nibble. But again, there's the whole issue of explosives, Federal Agents, and of course, the lack of a bikini-wearing, fox-bodied female First Mate.

Plan C: So far, this is the most practical. I'll just need a BIG boat equipped with a winch and long cable. The well-oiled, thong-wearing First Mate will assist as I fit the winch with a grappling hook baited with a side of beef. (You want big fish, you gotta use big bait!) We'll try stationary fishing as well as trolling along the dam's base.
I can get the boat, the winch, the hook, and the bait. All I need is a volunteer for the First Mate position. Interested parties may submit photos and resumes to my e-mail addy. Just put "Catfish" in the subject line. An able-bodied First Mate is of the utmost importance on any vessel, so my requirements must be met if this expedition is to be a success. Ability to mix margaritas is a definate plus. I am, after all, a professional.

14 June 2008

The Great Giant Catfish Hunt pt 1




Living near the banks of the Tennessee river all my life, I've heard tales of giant catfish. It wasn't until I started reading about cryptids and strange creatures that I found out that the tales I'd always heard were the same as other tales being told all over the US.
The story is basically the same everywhere it's told. Once some maintenance or construction divers were working on (insert local dam or bridge here) when they saw catfish swimming along the base of the dam that were literally large enough to "swallow a man whole." One account I read about occured on Lake Martin in Alabama, and the diver at first mistook the catfish, which was lying on the bottom of the lake, for a submerged tanker truck. He walked the length of the fish, and found what he thought was a flange on the tank, only to discover that it was the eye of the fish.
Some of the stories have a strong apocryphal element to them. Children are warned not to swim out too far or the catfish will "get them".
Is there any truth to the stories? Has any researcher contacted any scuba divers or the Army Corp of Engineers to get to the truth? How are the dams and bridges maintained if nobody will dive there? I would imagine that scuba-qualified construction workers or engineers are a pretty small, closely-knit community, and word would spread pretty fast among them, right? Are new, fresh recruits who've never heard the story contracted out?
Why does the giant catfish story persist? It's easy. Catfish DO get big. Bigger than most non-fishermen would imagine. Years ago, I worked as the night manager at a nearby truck stop. In the early, predawn hours one Sunday morning, a man came strolling in and asked if anyone wanted to see a big catfish. A few of us went outside to check it out. As we approached the truck (one of those import "mini-trucks" that were popular at the time) we could see the top of the fish's back over the side of the bed. The fish was so long that it was too long for the (admittedly small) truck bed, and had about two feet folded around. I'd estimate its length to have been at least 6 feet.
In the early 90's, our local paper (The Decatur Daily, Decatur AL) ran a story of a catfish that weighed over 100 lbs caught in the Tennessee River. (I don't remember the exact weight, 104 and 108 stick in my mind for some reason). The angler wrestled with the fish and finally managed to reel it into shallow water, at which point some observers waded out and attached a rope to it and pulled it ashore. Because the fish wasn't landed with a fishing pole, it wasn't eligable for record consideration, despite its "record" size and weight.
Anybody who knows catfish will tell you that about all catfish do is swim and eat. They poke along the bottom, using the taste receptors in their whiskers (and in some species, even their skin) to find anything that tastes appealing. One would imagine that in the deep water at the base of a dam, there's plenty to eat, so they just eat and grow. (I know another story about a coroner's assistant who will never eat catfish again, but that's a different matter!)
So, people have seen big catfish, the base of a dam seems to provide the ideal environment to produce giant catfish, ergo, the whole story seems to make perfect sense.
In Part 2 I'll discuss my frustrations with my plans to try to catch one of these monsters.

08 June 2008

"Monster Hunter" vs "Cryptozoologist"

Okay, what, if anything, is the difference between a Monster Hunter and a Cryptozoologist? To some people, especially those with only a passing interest in unknown creatures, the terms are probably synonymous. To those with a deeper understanding, there are quite a few distinctions. Cryptozoology (the study of hidden animals) typically takes a more scientific view of the phenomenon of unidentified creatures, or cryptids. Cryptozoologists will base their research and methodologies on the assumption that Bigfoot, Yeti, et al, are unclassified primates. Nessie and Lake Monsters are surviving dinosaurs, or misidentification of known species. Cryptozoologists have no interest in vampires,(except maybe El Chupacabra), werewolves (unless they're demonstrated to be unidentified bipedal canids), ghosts, UFOs, or other phenomena which would typically be labeled "paranormal". Cryptozoology is striving to gain acceptance by the "legitimate" scientific community, and tends to distance itself from creatures, theories, explanations, or phenomena that don't "play by the rules" of biology, physics, or known zoology, and concentrate more on "flesh and blood" creatures.
A Monster Hunter, on the other hand, is more open to other, alternative theories. Is there a connection between UFOs and hairy hominids? Are people and farm animals being preyed upon by a malevolent etheric revenant or extra-dimensional being? Was the Mothman an entity not of this world? Are Big Black dogs and Phantom Panthers released or escaped exotics, undiscovered native species, OR creatures from someplace "beyond"?
While Crytozoology as a science may decide that a particular creature isn't worth investigating, or that a Bigfoot sighting in an area where they "shouldn't be" doesn't bear examination, a Monster Hunter will opine that "These people saw SOMETHING, so why not try to determine what?"
While some have labeled me a Cryptozoologist, I place myself in the Monster Hunter camp. (besides, I think it sounds sexier!) :D But that doesn't mean I don't turn to Cryptozoology first. Only when something defies conventional explanation (based on available data, anyway) do I reluctantly throw out the Rulebook and consider alternative explanations.

07 June 2008

"Spotlight On The Patterson Gimlin Film"

I got a chance to view this documentary the other night. This is the documentary in which M.K. Davis declares that "Patty" is some form of human. Not a human in a suit, mind you, but a creature of the genus Homo.
Davis arrived at this conclusion after viewing the stabilized and enhanced Patterson-Gimlin film. He states that Patty's "sagittal crest" is in fact a topknot, that Patty's hair is in a ponytail, and there is a braid visible on one side. He also shows enhanced shots of her face, and states that it is much more human than simian in appearance. And there is another shot which shows Patty carrying, then dropping a stick. Davis believes this is in fact a tool used for digging.
In summary, Patty demonstrates qualities which hint at some form of culture or custom, and is therefore some kind of human. Davis honestly and sincerely believes in his evidence and conclusions, and I got no sense that he was in any way trying to pull off a con, or to arouse controversy for controversy's sake.
And now, my personal thoughts:
The braid:
I didn't see a braid. It is stated in the documentary that the herringbone or plaiting is visible. I didn't see it. Maybe it was visible in the original, but on my DVD it looked more like a dreadlock. Dreadlocks are formed when long hair becomes dirty and matted. So, the braid didn't do anything to convince me.
The ponytail:
Again, I didn't see a convincing image. It IS obvious that the hair on Patty's head is darker than the body hair, and it's quite long. But I didn't see evidence the it had been manipulated into a ponytail. There have been other Bigfoot sightings in which the creature had long hair, and sometimes of a different color than the body hair.
The topknot:
This was pretty interesting. The enhanced footage demonstrates that Patty's "sagittal crest" is in fact a topknot of hair. There are a couple of images where it is clearly blowing in the wind. But I saw no artificial means of holding it there or evidence that it was intelligently manipulated into a topknot. While Patty's skull being more rounded than previously thought may upset the Gigantopithicus crowd, it still doesn't spell human to me. Chimps have rounded heads also.
The face:
There are some nice enhanced images of Patty's face, showing the shape of the nose and lips, and the position of the ear. These do indeed appear more human than apelike, but, if Patty/Bigfoot is an unknown species, or the "missing link", the facial structure itself isn't sufficient evidence. There is also a nice scene of Patty turning her head and neck, as opposed to the more common scene of the creature turning from the shoulders, indicating that the neck can indeed rotate. But that still doesn't equal "human" in my book.
What about the use of a tool?
Davis compares the object Patty carries and drops to a tool used by Aboriginal peoples for digging. I find it hard to believe that the researchers who flocked to Bluff Creek after the sighting would have missed something like that. If it was just a stick, again, apes in the wild routinely use sticks as digging tools.
So, in summary, Davis doesn't make his case for me personally. I believe HE believes in his findings, and others may also, and that's just fine. It's a big cryptoworld. My biggest disappointment in the documentary is that there wasn't enough of the enhanced film.
One thing I can say for certain, after watching "Spotlight...", I think the whole guy-in-a-suit crowd should have second thoughts.

03 June 2008

A picture is worth...what?


(And no, this isn't about the Bushnell Bigfoot Trailcam Contest!)

The Loveland Frogmen. The Dover Demon. The Mothman. The Wisconsin Roadkill-eating Dogman. The NC Lizardman. Numerous Bigfoot, UFO, and Jersey Devil encounters. What do these have in common? They all happened to people driving along in their cars on a lonely stretch of road. They also have no photo documentation. With that in mind, I recently ordered one of these neat little gizmos.



A dashboard mounted mini video recorder. AKA "The Roadkill Cam". If I have a brush with the unknown, at least I'll have some form of documentation. Granted, in these days of YouTube, Photoshop, and digitally-manipulated hoax images, a video may not be worth much. Even after verification by professionals and experts, people disbelieve what they want to disbelieve. But at least a good picture is better than a sketch drawn from a description, and it would elevate the incident from "all in the head" or "completely fabricated" status to at least "maybe something did happen?" territory.

So, when I venture forth in search of the unknown, I'll derive a little bit of security knowing "little brother" is riding with me.

01 June 2008

Tips and ideas for Cryptid Hunting

With the popularity of cryptozoology and paranormal themed tv shows, there has been an increase in the number of societies, groups, and interested parties who are beginning to enter the area of field investigations. And why not? It's fun, and if you're interested in such things, go for it. But, don't take everything you see on tv to seriously, or mistake some of the escapades undertaken by some groups or individuals for the ideal way to go about things.
Everybody has their own opinion, and since we're not talking about rocket science here, there is plenty of room for different methods and techniques. But, IMO, some are more valid than others.
Remember, when it comes to paranormal investigation, everything we "know" is in reality nothing more than theory and speculation. Even in the field of cryptozoology, where most investigators seek to distance themselves from the paranormal fringe and concentrate strictly on the laws of biology and the "flesh and blood" approach, there's only so much we can really know about a particular creature until one is captured, killed, or can be observed in habitat for proper study.
Since I seem to be stuck on Bigfoot lately, I'll use a "Bigfoot Hunt" as an example.
Rule 1: Keep it simple, keep it small. Sure, it would be nice to have unlimited funds, the latest high-tech equipment, and a nice base camp with all the comforts of home.
The reality is, most of us are on a budget one way or another, our time in the woods is limited by our work and family obligations, and a book or documentary deal isn't a high probability.
My advice: Go alone or with one other person.(If it's a safe area that you know well, go alone. If it's new territory, take someone with you who knows the area) Since BF appear to be curious, yet shy, a big crowd of people at a well-lit campsite will most likely keep them at a distance. If you've read up on past sightings, you'll note that most of them involve one or two people, "mass sightings" just don't happen. As I said before, you don't find BF, BF finds you. Let him. Think about it, if you were going after a trophy buck, would you let a dozen or so friends tromp along the woods with you? And while night vision equipment, multiple remote video cameras, and shotgun mikes are nice, they're not essential. Other gimmicks, such as thermal imagers (useless in dense woods, if you're very lucky, you'll get some footage of an unidentifiable blob) or camera traps (which so far haven't produced any useful evidence, and in some cases are mysteriously destroyed) are all but useless. That $6000.00 for a thermal camera would pay for a lot of time in the forest living in a tent!
And forget everything we "know" about BF. We don't really know 'squatch. :D A lot of researchers limit their investigations to working around a particular theory or idea. We don't KNOW that BF is nocturnal. We don't KNOW that BF is attracted to gorilla calls. We don't KNOW that BF can be lured in by chimpanzee vaginal scrapings, wintergreen oil, baboon urine, or any other "lures" that have been tried.
What we DO know, is that BF encounters are totally unexpected and unpredictable.
In short, be quiet, stay dark, and be prepared for anything.