Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's Raining Blue Balls!

Forteana has long been filled with tales of "falls", the showering of peculiar objects from the heavens. These have included fish, frogs, nails, hay... Now, it seems that in Dorset, England another weird rain has fallen.

Steve Hornsby was caught in a shower of strangely gelatinous blue "hail", which measured roughly 3 cm in diameter. He collected these odd, gooey balls in a jar and refrigerated them.

At least once scientist, Josie Pegg of Bournemouth University, posited the unusual phenomenon could have been comprised of marine invertebrate eggs that sometimes cling to the feet of water fowl. Flying through a storm, the eggs could have been dislodged, falling on the hapless Mr. Hornsby.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Author Appearance

Saturday, I will be speaking about Strange State and The Mound, as well as answering questions, signing copies, and sharing tales from the forthcoming Stranger State.  The event will be held at the Southwestern Christian University library, located at 7210 NW 39th Expressway in Bethany, OK.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Will The Real Noah Please Stand Up?

While it has long been known to many that the biblical account of Noah was based on the far older Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, it might be startling to learn that the story of a man who speaks to god and survives a great deluge by building an enormous boat that comes aground on a mountain has wacky identical cousins in the New World.

Long before the arrival of the Spaniards, in the Valley of Mexico, tales had been told of a great flood that inundated the whole world. The Aztecs recount that only two survived: Coxcoxtli and his wife, Xochiquetzal. Commanded by a god to build a huge boat, the two escaped the wrath of the flood, coming aground atop a mountain. They went on to have many children who were mute uuntil a dove came to give them the gift of languages. But each spoke a different tongue and could not understand each other.

A tale from Central America is even more remarkable in its similarities:

The god Tezcatilpoca set out to destroy the world with a great flood, but spared one man, Tezpi. After having build a great vessel, Tezpi loaded his family and as many types of plants and animals as he thought would benefit their future survival. When the flood finally receded, Tezpi found himself aground atop a mountain and sent out a vulture to see if the flood had ended. But a vulture feasts upon carrion and there was much to be had in the aftermath of Tezcatilpoca's watery wrath. So, Tezpi sent out a hummingbird, which returned with a leafy branch in its mouth—a sign the waters were gone.

In the Popal Vuh, wooden figures that resembled men and spoke their languages were destroyed in a great flood by the Mayan creator. Only the great father and mother survived to repopulate the world.

According to the myths of the Chibcas of Colombia, they had once lived as savages without law, religion, or agriculture. One day, a bearded man named Bochica came and taught the Chibcas to build a society. His wife, Chia, was a wicked woman who wanted to thwart his efforts. With magic, she conjured a great flood, killing many. Angered, Bochica banished his wife to become the moon. Bochica then brought down the survivors from the mountaintops and taught them civilization.

The Canarians of Ecuador have flood tales similar to these, as do the Tupinambas of Brazil, Araucnaians of pre-Colombian Chile, and the Yamanas of Tierra del Fuego. The Inuits of the icy reaches of North America have their version and so do the Luisenos of California. The Iroquois, Dakotas, Chicasaws, and Sioux chime in with even more.

While the story King Gilgamesh recounts was written down some 5,000 years ago, it is seemingly built upon legends that were even then so old they seemed to be passing from myth. Is it from a time when, as many Diffusionists believe, a great but forgotten culture once regularly circumnavigated the globe, influencing disparate cultures with elements of one another?

According to some sources, more than 500 such tales exist throughout the world; and more than half of those are completely independent of the Mesopotamian and Hebraic accounts. How do we reconcile this if we don't give at least some credence to the belief that in millennia past, our far-flung ancestors were considerably more cognizant of each other that our Colombian model suggests?

It is true that Science has supported that several great floods caused by tsunamis occurred within the geographical influence of the Sumerian legend, and we can assume that similar events likely happened to most all cultures at some points in their histories, but we still face the problem of this Noah figure who speaks to god, builds a boat, lands on a mountain, and often sends some sort of bird out to see if it safe before repopulating the planet.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Will be signing books, talking about Strange State/The Mound and presenting stories from Stranger State at Southwestern Christian University library on Sat January 28 at 3 pm in Oklahoma City. If you aren't familiar, this is just off NW 39th about a mile or so east of Lake Overholser.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Troubles With Casting Bigfoot

In recently re-reading Jeff Meldrum's thoughts on the enigma of Sasquatch, I was struck by how problematic the process of track casting was, especially as it related to dermaglyphics (aka those fine lines and ridges we term 'fingerprints'). It often seemed as if these patterns were only discovered after the cast had been removed and cleaned, by which time the question of pouring artifacts would have already arisen.

Pouring artifacts speak to false-positive ridge details that emerge during the pouring process as an aspect of the medium itself. These can, as has been demonstrated, create concentric ridges that have been mistaken for finger or sole prints.

Unfortunately, by the time the cast has been removed, the trace evidence has been destroyed.

The problem is that tracking follows a wildlife enthusiast's model where the emphasis is on the track as a whole to denote species with little attention paid to detail beyond size or identifying deformities. And while many take images of the track (often alongside a ruler for scale) as a whole, it is rare to find detailed, close-up shots that could reveal these potential dermaglyphics prior to casting.

If one were to set up a protocol for casting, it would benefit from including a full series of images shot with an extreme close-up lens and variable light sources to reveal hidden details in the track prior to its destruction.

Furthermore, if possible, laser modeling scans of the impression could be done in the field to construct a detailed three dimensional copy that could be studied in the computer, allowing the track to be cast with less worry--or left alone entirely, should that be necessary.

Granted, while the latter is an expensive setup, likely prohibited by the meager budgets of most cryptid enthusiasts, the cheap and plentiful nature of digital images using a good quality DSLR, lights, and close-up lenses shouldn't be.

Following this plan, investigators can begin taking pouring artifacts out of the equation to learn if Sasquatch indeed leave prints for us to study.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Baby Biggy Swings Into The Spotlight

Juvenile Biggy or a more common primate? After all, many people unwisely have chimpanzees as pets. Could this be staged? It doesn't make too much sense for a purpotedly bipedal ape (its singular hallmark) to be well adapted to such tree-swining antics. I'm skeptical.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy Friday The 13th

Horror films whose titles seem to bear no relationship to the story aside, Friday the 13th is a highly superstitious and fearful date for many. But where does this come from?

One source explains the general triskaidekaphobia as stemming from the 13th guest at the last supper being Judas, the betrayer.

As for the friday, that comes into play in ways less clear. Some researchers note that no written record of Friday the 13th as unlucky exists prior to the 19th century, specifically in Henry Sutherland Edwards' 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini. But in some traditions, Friday has always been unlucky (check out the Canterbury Tales) and there are numerological reasons to find 13 unlucky as well; so, the two colliding represent a worst case scenario.

And while there is no historical support for Dan Brown's assertion in the popular novel The DaVinci Code that it has any Templar associations, the unsubstantiated belief is gaining credence among the ignorant.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Armchair 'Archaeologist' Called Out For Specious Proclamation, Bad Science

Recently, architect Richard Thornton has made waves with his proclamation that ancient Mayan ruins can be found far to the north in the US state of Georgia--a fact that has one scientist up in arms. While I'm not one to dismiss the thought that Mesoamerican cultures had contact with and impact upon their North American counterparts (too much evidence exists otherwise), I recognize that the Ancient America crowd of armchair archaeologists often have more daydreams that discipline when it comes to the science behind archaelogy. If only it were all fedoras and bullwhips.