Sunday, February 27, 2011

FIRST ANNUAL CENTRAL TEXAS PARANORMAL CONFERENCE

Don't miss out on the 1st Annual Central Texas Paranormal Conference, presented by TexasParanormal Events.
Speakers, Vendors, Raffle & Door Prizes!!  
October 8th – October 9th, 2011 at the Norris Conference Center on Anderson Lane.
Speakers Include:
Dustin Pari from the Syfy channel's, “Ghost Hunters International
The Klinge Brothers, Brad and Barry, from Everyday Paranormal and the Discovery Channel show, “GHOST LAB
Jeff Belanger, creator of www.ghostvillage.com and writer for Travel channel’s show, “Ghost Adventures
Fiona Broome, creator of www.hollowhill.com and renowned paranormal researcher
Dash Beardsley, "The Ghost Man of Galveston," creator and founder of, "Ghost Tours Of Galveston"
Jeanine Plumer, founder of www.HauntedTexas.com and “Ghost Tours of Austin
Space is limited, buy your tickets online to save $15!! Online ticket holders automatically get entered into a special prize drawing!  

Of Crop Circles and Cauldrons: How Does Witchcraft Fit Into Crop Circle Theory?

Anomalist Nick Redfern postulates whether occult practices are behind the formation of some mysterious crop circles in a recent post at Mysterious Universe.

Redfern recalls a trip back to merry old England in the summer of 2006 when he was fortunate to be on-hand right after the discovery of a circle near Chartley Castle. While inspecting the site, Redfern took not of a peculiar tableau: peacock feathers laid out to form a five-point star.

You can read more of what Redfern makes of this at Mysterious Universe.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Gates And Company Search Out St. Paddy's Day Mysteries In A 4-Hour Live Destination Truth

Josh Gates and his Destination Truth cohorts will air a 4-hour season premier on St. Patrick's Day, fittingly live from Ireland. While upon the Emerald Isle, the team known for seeking out the world's mysteries (but never actually doing so) will examine the legend of the Bean SĂ­dhe (or Banshee, if you must)--a spirit from Irish folklore that affixes itself to a family and wails horribly whenever anyone is about to die. They begin their hunt for the wailing wraith at Duckett's Grove, a ruined assemblage of 18th, 19th, and 20th Century manors in the gothic revival style that served as the estate for the Duckett family for 300 years. The oldest portion dates back to the 1830s. Syfy will run interactive features throughout the broadcast so that viewers can enhance their experience by tracking the team through the 'castle' and watch additional live streams from other areas of the investigation.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

When The Cats Go Marching In

Panthers (or housecats) are running rampant throughout the New Orleans metropolitan area as of late, according to this report. However, the blob in this video still has me wondering just how big we're talking here....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Bigfoot Filmography May Hold The Key To Some Sightings

Author Dave Coleman's The Bigfoot Filmography: Fictional and Documentary Appearances in Film and Television (due out this fall) is an exhaustive compendium, chronicling the cinematic exploits of the big guy. From the works of such pioneers as Willis O'Brien and George Melies through to modern films and documentaries, the list includes 100s of photos, interviews, and synopses. This looks to be a must-have for Biggy enthusiasts.

However, there may be another reason to check out this book.

I've long held the belief that at least some flaps, rashes, and sightings can be attributed to imaginations running high either in anticipation of or following the release of bigfoot-related films. In fact, I would further speculate that this holds true for ALL phenomena. However, since we have at our ready a lengthy and thorough list of such features and when they were released, we can use Coleman's book to examine any relationship between spikes in sightings and the films that may have inspired them. By crunching the numbers, we might see patterns that better support futher research into these elusive hairy hominids. At the very least, it would afford us a way to tune out some of the "noise" in all the reports, allowing us to focus more intently on accounts that would seem untainted by cinematic influence.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Travels In A Twilight World: Exploring Crime and Culture In Mobile's Church Street Cemetery

Church Street Cemetery 5
Deep within the murky shadows beneath the sprawling canopy of a moss-draped oak, the warmth of an early spring doesn't penetrate. I sit upon a gnarled root surrounded by the crumbling remnants of memorials to the dearly departed. Their faded epitaphs speak of a time few bother to recall, of people no one can remember. Beneath the soil all around me are the remains of those who founded this city. 

Their 18th century names sound foreign as I softly speak them aloud: Cornelia, Manly, Augustus, Lyman.... They hail form New York, Philadelphia, and even Ireland. They came to help lay the foundation for a city on the Gulf, at the confluence of five rivers--Mobile.

Church Street Cemetery lays hidden away, but not quite protected, by walls, doglegs, and obstructing facades. It's quiet here, for the most part. Only the susurrus of leaves in a sudden, chill wind breaks the silence. In the muffled distance, like the constant roar of some mighty river, midday traffic speeds nearly nonstop down the broad artery of Government Street. If I close my eyes, I can almost picture a fat tributary frothing turbulently. 

Tuning out the car alarms, booming stereos, and squawking breaks is more difficult. Still, it's so tranquil inside this necropolis, I am forced to try. I focus on the now, the near, and await the stillness to settle again on the graves like dust. 

It's the cemetery's quietus state that beckons the homeless to seek refuge within its embrace. Perhaps it's a reminder of that tenuous thread that separates us all from oblivion. Or their needs may be more basic: cooling shade, soft green grass, and none but the dead to shoo them away. For the most part, these are harmless drunkards, friendly even. They keep to themselves mostly. I haven't even been bothered for spare change. 

Yesterday, one fellow was kind enough to point out what he knew of the forgotten history that lay scattered ruinously about. He told me his name was David and, with a conspiratorial twinkle in his steely blue eyes, he explained to me his plans for procuring room and board that evening. As he lifted his sack of beers, he stated with a toothy grin,"I'm gonna get arrested." The way he saw it, he would get a free bed and three square meals for something as inoffensive as walking down the street with an open container.

While I can't say I thought his was the best plan one could come up with for landing a bed for the night, I could certainly see his position. You do what you have to to make it some times. He was sharp, articulate, and well-groomed; the streets hadn't yet beat him down. I wished him luck in his endeavor and we parted ways.

I looked for him the following day, but he was nowhere to be found. I can only assume he landed the cell he seemed so eager to find. I figured he would be back. Most of the men who call Church Street Cemetery home--the live ones, anyway--secret their meager belongings wherever they can, hoping to find them again upon returning from the day's adventure. 

Most of those I observed, seemed to have a respect for both the cemetery and those who visit this historic and hallowed ground. They don't overrun it either. I saw evidence of no more than five or six guys camping out there, most of them were away while I visited. A police cruiser was usually parked in the lot to the west. I don't know if he was there merely because it was a convenient nexus for awaiting the next call, or if he was there to harass the homeless. 

If the latter were true, I have to say I think I'm more concerned about the gang tag spray painted on the brick wall. I'm also bothered by those graves that have fallen not to the ravages of time but the desecration of punks. It's the vandals we need to worry about. They come by cover of night to stalk the graves like vampires, preying upon the history, memory, and sanctity of a once-beautiful Victorian cemetery.

And to those who think their spray painted tags assure them a place of prominence in the annals of this city, I remind you that the names Roper, O'Brien, and Cain have little or no meaning to you. So, I ask, what makes you so special? Why should we remember you? 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ghosts of the "Big A"

Fore Deck
The 680-foot USS Alabama saw death before she ever left the shipyard. Two workers died during the battleship's construction at Norfolk. But her active duty was surprisingly quiet for a behemoth that slipped into the theaters of war in 1942. Not a single fatality from enemy fire marred her 37 month career. Friendly fire, however, killed 8 men when deck-mounted machine gun #9 fired upon #5, accidentally obliterating its occupants.


Since retiring as a floating museum in 1965, visitors to Mobile Bay have returned with ghostly tales. It seems that the sounds of phantom footsteps can be heard and that apparitions have been spotted in the galley and officers' quarters. Others talk of an ennui that settles now and then over the old ship. And, of course, the unfortunate men of gun #5 still hang out in their turret, perhaps unaware of the war's end.

In the still of night, they say, mysterious noises emanate from the bulkheads: pops, bangs, and taps. The sound of heavy steel doors slamming shut have been reported.

Officials deny these reports, claiming no one has every made such claims. Groups such as the Boy Scouts spend the night on the ship fairly regularly without incident--at least not of the ghostly kind. 

They've denied access to investigate to numerous paranormal research teams. The only ones allowed to spend the night are those affiliated with some youth group. Lucky bastards.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Beaubois

There's a place down at the end of Beaubois Bayou Road they say is haunted.

I don't believe it.

Hauntings are gentle things, smudged memories built up over the years like the grimy patina on a doorknob. Whatever lives at.... No. Whatever infects Beaubois House is altogether wrong. It can be felt the moment you cross the shadow-laced threshold of that dilapidated old plantation.

Spanish moss hangs like tattered burial shrouds upon the gnarled skeletons of a dozen towering oaks that frame the overgrown drive. They march up from the red clay road to cluster conspiratorially around the house. The closer ones seem to lean into the home, as if sentinels awaiting orders.

By the time the sun has filtered through this riot of greenery strangling the old antebellum estate, it has taken on a gangrenous hue. Lacking appreciable warmth, it falls in feeble fragments through a dozen shutters, each missing louvers like the broken grin of some whiskey-addled bum. By the time its light settles to the floor, it has warmed nothing. The house remains as cold as winter even on the hottest day.

Even the dust motes refrain from riding those murky shafts in their usual bilious fashion. Instead, they seem drawn in perfect order on some unsensed breeze to flee from the home, as if even dirt dared not settle on this unholy ground.

No one knows exactly why the house rests so disquietly.  Maybe it laments its own ruinous form and proximity to the fetid swamps of Beaubois, home to mosquitoes, snakes, and other unpleasant lifeforms. Some talk of the murders that took place there--three, to be exact. Others whisper of the voodoo and root magic performed by angry, rebellious slaves. Perhaps the reasons aren't important. After all, who asks the alligator how he came to be while facing his open jaws?

The important thing to remember is the house is evil and it should be given a wide berth. In fact, seeing how it's the only thing down Beaubois Bayou Road these days, I might recommend you simply steer clear of the whole area.

You don't want to end up like the others, do you?

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Mobile Leprechaun

In flipping through an old issue of  Mobile Bay magazine, I was reminded of a curious--and hilarious--news report from a couple of years ago. I remember seeing the report online at the time, as it made its rounds. Now, that I'm right at the heart of where all the action went down, I find this even funnier. Perhaps I'll go hunt me a leprechaun ....

The Greater And Lesser 'Squatch

While growing up in the shadow of ape man sightings throughout the wooded hills of Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas, I came to form a picture in my mind: more ape than man, but prone to moving on two legs instead of quadrupedally. I had certainly heard of the Sasquatch of the Pacific Northwest, but I'm not sure I would have equated the two. 

The ape men that dwelt in the thick, at times impassible forests of black jack oak were justifiably smaller in stature, less robust. Those stories I was told, painted a picture of a nastier animal too: meaner and more likely to kill for food. By contrast, the 'gentle giant' of the Pacific Northwest was something of a Haight-Ashbury type who foraged for vegetation.

In many ways, the two could find analogs in comparing a mountain gorilla with a chimpanzee.

Over the years, however, as reports from out west infiltrated and the whole Bigfoot thing blew up, I noticed a gradual overlapping arise. More and more regional reports began taking on aspects of what was readily available in books, movies, and news reports. I began to wonder if local sightings were being influenced by other tales or the expectation of what a witness was seeing, rather than objective observation. 

I still grapple with this question. 

I know someone personally that saw one of these creatures in Missouri. He didn't describe it as a towering, powerfully built giant. It probably wasn't much more that five and a half feet tall. It was quick and lithe and not the least bit lumbering. 

I also read an account on the BFRO site about a sighting a few years back in Mobile County, Alabama. The witness made a point to state that whatever it was they saw wasn't like the huge creatures you read about. These witnesses saw a similar slender, shorter creature.

I wonder: Is there a Greater and Lesser Sasquatch in the North America? Are we looking at two (or more) species here? In many ways it stands to reason, and goes a long way to explaining regional variations among reports. Of course this is all hypothesis and conjecture until such time as direct, confirmed observation takes place. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

On The Hunt For NC Blobsquatch

More Mobile Mysteries

Behind the old library in downtown Mobile hides a little graveyard known as the Church Street Cemetery. Herein one can find the mysterious "Boyington Oak". It's story involves a man in the 1880s sentenced to hang for killing his friend. Seeing that his pleas of innocence were falling upon deaf ears, the man delivered a promise: an oak tree would rise up from his grave in proof of his innocence. The oak still stands, a testament to wrongful persecution.


Multiple rebuilds of this building have left history layered like a patina on the site of Webb Hall on the University of South Alabama campus. The latest building, built in 1913, still houses ghosts of the past. Witnesses have described the movement of shadowy wraiths at the periphery of their vision, as well as the sound of rustling petticoats.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Witchy Words To Enchant Your Woeful Winter

In USA Today, Carol Memmot brings attention to a slew of witch-themed tomes either on the shelves now or hitting them soon. After being steeped in Vampire/Werewolf for so long, it's nice to see a change of pace....

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Hakness (Viking) -- An Oxford scholar unearths a manuscript whose alchemical powers bring witches, vamps, and demons into present-day.

Witches on the Road Tonight by Sheri Holman (Atlantic Monthly Press) -- A young Appalachian whose mother is rumored to be a witch can't shake the dark secrets about his family.

Chime by Franny Billingsley (Dial) Only witches can see the Old Ones, spirits who haunt the swamps, so a young girl must keep her secret or face her community's death sentence for witches.

The Macabre Side Of Mobile

Am in Mobile, AL for a bit, exploring the mysteries and legends that make this historic city every bit as haunted as its neighbor to the west, New Orleans. In fact, both cities share a similar history and architectural outlook that lends itself to those old 'haunted mansions'framed in southern oaks dripping with Spanish moss.

On The Path To 'Tara'

The Bragg-Mitchell Mansion, built in 1855, is classic antebellum architecture and, of course, is duly haunted. Legend tells of a woman who haunts the home in wait for her long lost lover. Another ghost at the home is a girl who died of yellow fever.

Bienville Park

Bienville Square Park is the home of two spectral soldiers seen from time to time.

In coming days, I will report on the old forts that guarded mobile bay, the ghosts of the old cemeteries, and more haunted house. Additionally, and bigfoot stories from the piney woods or nearby swamps and marshes will be related. Of course, let's not forget UFO's or anything else I stumble upon.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In my inbox, I received the following media announcement from Timothy Maggiani at Virgil Films Entertainment, the entity birthing a new feature-length documentary about the Mothman:

November 15th 1966 - four young adults traveling through the West Virginia backwoods of an abandoned TNT Plant, come across something, unnatural... The headlights from their '57 Chevy strike what appears to be a black, lurking, lumbering, 7 foot tall man with red eyes and wings! Before the winged man of Point Pleasant would make his departure from its menacing raid on the God fearing souls of this minute church going community, 46 people would die tragically and hundreds more would be left traumatized and emotionally scarred for life. With rumors adrift of a haunting Indian curse, wild stories of men in black, bridge collapses, and a history of uncanny coincidences, UFO sightings, and even alien abductions; The Eyes of the Mothman is the first feature length documentary to delve deeper than any other program to uncover the truth behind this unsolved mystery from 43 years ago.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Long Life And Legend Of Vampires In Fiction

If you think Dracula is the first vampire novel, you'd be wrong. Not only do legends of the blood-sucking fiends reach back to man's very beginnings, but the narrative tale of these undead monsters is much lengthier than many might imagine.

"Oedipus Coloneus" (c. 406 BC) by the Greek playwright Euripedes includes the description of a slain ruler whose "cold body drank their warm blood".

"The Vampyre" (1819) written by John Polidori who was in attendance at the same summer retreat in Switzerland as Lord Byron and Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein. Byron had shared with those in attendance all about his travels through the Balkans, and of the mysterious creatures known as Vampires.

The same year, Keats writes the poem "Lamia", a tale loosely based on the character from classic myth. Lamia was a demon in ancient Greece and other cultures. It is said she was once a queen of Lybia and descendent of Poseidon. She became a mistress of Zeus. Hera didn't like this and forced Lamia to eat her own child. She fled to the wilderness and became a serpent.

"Varney the Vampire; or, the Feast of Blood" (1845-47) was the serialized tale of vampire who plagued London. Written by James Malcom Rymer, the entire tale eventually encompassed 22o chapters and 868 double-columned pages. Many of the elements familiar to our modern version of a vampire arose in this work: fangs, puncture wounds on the neck, hypnotic power, and incredible strength.

"Carmilla" (1871) was the tale of a lesbian vampire that preys on young women. Written by Sheridan Le Fanu, this tale takes place in Styria, the original setting for the most famous vampire novel.

Influenced in part by both Varney and Carmilla, Bram Stoker's "Dracula" (1897) rose to become the seminal masterpiece of all undead fiction.

After Stoker's death, his discarded early chapters of Dracula were published as "Dracula'Guest" (1914). In this short tale, Jonathan Harker encounters a vampiric countess while on a stop-over in Munich. Later, after passing out in the snow, a wolf protects him. When he returns to his hotel, a letter from Dracula awaits him, warning Harker of the dangers of wolves and snow.

Friday, February 4, 2011

UPDATE: JERUSALEM VIDEO HOAX

According to this video, the Jerusalem UFO is a hoax....



Still, at least one of the videos shows vehicles moving along a road in the foreground. Can the same explanation apply? Moreover, the video in question was something of an anomaly among those available. It was the English language video wherein a woman quite laconically talks about not having anything like this in Mississippi. This was also the only video without the mysterious "camera flash".

I don't doubt that this one might be faked, for whatever reason, but I'm not sure we can yet chuck the baby out with the bath water.

A commentor got me thinking:does this story exist outside YouTube? That is, how has this been covered locally? Has the Israeli press spoken to other witnesses who saw, but were unable to record, this strange event?

I went to the website for the Jerusalem Post, the only English-language paper in that city and searched their archives for the relevant term, "UFO". The only hit was from months ago in a story about Churchill and Eisenhower's purported cover-up during World War II.

So this earth-shattering event that news agencies, websites, and blogs around the world are sharing (without much corroboration) isn't even covered by a local news outlet?

Something doesn't add up. This is precisely why I am often dissatisfied with the UFO community these days. There's a lot of look-at-this-video going on, but precious few are asking questions. If this is how most UFO reports are handled, no wonder answers never come.

These people don't want their precious world view upset by either resolution. It's best, it seems, to maintain the status quo as armchair investigators and professional hair-splitters. Oh, sure, a small country's worth of man-hours can be burned up digging through obscure records to find out that a gas station attendant in Roswell noticed a soldier had his boots laced in an oddly asymmetrical fashion around the time of that famed crash, but they can't spend a few hours online fact-checking the veracity of these videos?

I'm intrigued by this event. Not only for the extremely interesting videos and the fact that it seems like this can be solved neatly, but because of the story's inability to call forth into action in any response from the UFO community beyond a few passing comments.

"Oh, yeah. We, like, totally saw that video.... ANYWAY, as I was saying, Peterson's report in '73 conclusively proves that the metal discovered on Henry Thompson's farm was...."

I don't doubt that a hoax is afoot. In fact, as I investigate more, I'm sure of it. There don't seem to be any witnesses other than those who posted the videos, the local media has made nary a peep on the story, and the videos themselves seem full on inconsistencies.

The most striking of these, aside from the English language video, is the almost computer-generated feel to how the luminous object appears to elongate in some sort of warp speed swoosh. The very first time I watched these videos, I wondered if that is really what we would have seen on a camera of that quality.

Furthermore, why don't we know more about those who recorded the videos? You would think they would step forward to boast that THEY caught this on tape. Why such obfuscation?

I will say this: they certainly did a really good job of hoaxing these videos. Their efforts managed to make this dyed-in-wool skeptic sit up and take notice. Of course, that could have to do with the fact that I've been largely trapped indoors all week as the ice and snow lingers on the roads outside.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dropping The Ball

I went to the MUFON website in hopes that their learned members had been hard at work investigating the mysterious Jerusalem UFO. After all, they are an international organization, are they not?

Apparently, not.

Their top story was about some generic lights seen over Utah that sounds like thousands of other sightings over the years. In searching their database, I saw most cases come from the United States. Furthermore, few cases are properly followed up. Investigations center around asking pedestrian questions before arriving at an anticipated conclusion.

With the recent firings of various women within several MUFON chapters, I wonder if it isn't time to question if the organization hasn't stagnated, becoming a staid relic of a bygone era. Or worse, a 'boys only' club. Perhaps it is too much to presume they've become superannuated, but an infusion of fresh blood mightn't be a bad thing.

I ask you: Do you think MUFON is antiquated? Or are they as viable as ever? Do they need to change with the times? Or have they always been mavericks, paving the way for others?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Jerusalem UFO


This came to my attention a few days ago, but since I've grown so weary of watching vague wazits on camera, I ignored it. Today, however, I got a chance to watch this amazing event. I must confess: I am blown away. For starters, the object's movements are amazing and unlike any technology I can think of. More importantly, however, is the fact that 3 or 4 witnesses all captured the same strange event on camera -- and from drastically different vantage points. Several tourists, speaking in different languages, all witnessed the event.

What their videos all show is a glowing orb that hovers over the Temple Mount area of Jerusalem for a bit before descending in a straight line to hover directly over the Dome of the Rock. Then, like a camera happy tourist, it seems to take a picture as a flash of light bursts forth to illuminate the whole area for an instant. Then it suddenly rockets away in a tremendous burst of speed.

Some believe it to be a UFO, others think it is some holy spectacle. Given its interest in a site sacred to Christians, Jews, and Muslims, this isn't hard to imagine.

This is the first video in a long time that has captured my interest. I sincerely hope some of the learned UFO investigators can come up with a plausible explanation. As it stands, I might have to call this one genuine.

Watch three separate videos here. This compilation is really good and gives you a sense of all the different view points.

If You Catch My Drift

Snow Drift

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Just Having Fun In The Snow and Frigid Winds

Sublimating boiling hot water into snow by tossing it into our bitterly cold, 40 mph winds. Enjoy. :-D