A few years ago, fantasy writer Stephen D Sullivan a.k.a. “Manwolf,” and yours truly cohosted our own weekly radio show called Uncanny Radio. My friend Cass recently reminded me that those podcasts are still up and available, so for those of you who have asked me to post a list of online recorded radio shows, this could be a start. Just click http://www.blogtalkradio.com/uncannyradio and listen away! Topics include everything from strange creatures to ghosts to UFOs to all things uncanny.
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Partly because it’s National Poetry Month and partly because a fan sent me some surprising poetry centered around unknown creatures, I give you a sample of the work of Jacob Gene Lenhardt of Menasha. This is not sweet or sentimental work, nor is it some sort of disguised sighting report. It is dark, a tad disturbing and I think it comes from some interior place that witnesses occasionally hint at but seldom know how to express. I found myself responding to these lines on a visceral level, and thought some of you might appreciate the chance to do so as well.
Poetry, I remind you again, is the most personal and subjective form of writing and not everyone’s cup of Starbuck’s. But if you’re game for a quick alternate look at the unknown, read on:
Author event at Racine Barnes & Noble Saturday, February 16 I’ll be reading from God Johnson and giving free signed color copies of the cover with every purchase of the e-book 3:30-4. I’m also on the panel for the writers workshop from 1230 to 2 PM, please come say hey if you can! Chatting about Weird Wisconsin and Real Wolfmen too!
Bigfoot in the British Isles? The idea of huge, hairy man-apes hiding out in the manor-dotted, bucolic countryside of the British Isles seems as likely at first blush as the queen switching out her Earl Grey for chugs of Red Bull. But Nick Redfern’s new book, Wild Man! The Monstrous and Mysterious Saga of the British Bigfoot, (CFZ Press, 2012) makes an exhaustive and surprisingly compelling case that people have indeed been seeing anomalous, Bigfoot-like creatures from Shugborough to Derbyshire, perhaps for centuries!
Redfern has to be one of the most prolific current writers on strange and cryptozoological topics — he releases books faster than I can find time to review them. But I wanted to make sure that I got this one posted because it covers so many topics of interest to the worldwide cadre of Bigfoot-seekers. It has the additional advantage of being authored by a native of the British soil who possesses many area connections and much firsthand knowledge.
Redfern starts by grounding the wild man topic in medieval history, harking back to the wodewose, or hairy, naked men seen throughout the forests of England since at least the early 14th century. But he notes that the wodewose was described as very close to human underneath all that fur.
The nearly 300, large pages are packed with anecdotes in a timeframe that ranges from ancient to contemporary, but the book is about more than mysterious case studies. Redfern doesn’t shy away from possible explanations for the anomalous creatures, venturing into possibilities such as misidentifications with primates released from the private zoos of eccentric collectors. He also notes the difficulty of explaining how large predators could subsist in the English countryside without detection and lays out a theory that they may be “semi-physical” or products of some other process that is not presently known to science.
Whatever these wild things are, Redfern’s examination of them belongs on the bookshelf of anyone interested in anomalous creatures, especially those of the hairy hominoid kind. There may be more beasties hiding in that famed British mist than anyone has previously guessed.
It happened last night — my urban fantasy “God Johnson; the Unforgiven Diary of the Disciple of a Lesser God” became open for download on the vendor sites below. It’s been 3 years in the making and I have 3 unpubbed, full-length novels already sitting on the shelf, so this book co-published with my literary agent, Dystel & Goderich as an ebook was not a hasty venture. Please have a look if you’ve a taste for unknown gods, hidden worlds and orange scones…
While waiting along with everyone else to see whether Dr. Melba Ketchum’s DNA study and/or the allegedly captured Bigfoot code-named Daisy hold any water worth wading into, I have been looking back at some of the better ‘Squatch reports I’ve received and collected from SE Wisconsin over the years. One of my favorites is the so-called “Bad Hair Day Bigfoot” observed by Matt Wakely in September 2005 SE of Lake Geneva, near the WI-IL border.
The incident is described in full in my book Hunting the American Werewolf, and Wakely passed a polygraph exam of his story on the Monsterquest “American Werewolf ” episode. (The show didn’t mention he saw a Bigfoot rather than a dog man). This was a daylight sighting where the witness had a good long look at the creature. He called his mother and told her he had just seen a caveman, naked and covered with fur. The creature seemed totally unafraid of Matt, and its most unusual feature may have been its rather wild hairdo. My best guess is that it was perhaps an adolescent that had just risen from a midday nap in the cemetery, where it stood with 1 foot on a head stone.
It also had less facial hair, according to Matt’s description, than any other Bigfoot ever reported to me. This also suggests an adolescent age group, but more importantly, it gave Matt an unusually clear look at facial features.
Matt drew his own sketches ( below) and then worked with me to achieve what he agreed looked a pretty fair facsimile of what he saw. At that time, I privately thought the face seemed a bit too human, but my job is to draw and report what the witness saw without projecting my own biases.
Over the past year, as I had my own encounter and gathered more local evidence, it’s occurred to me that if Ketchum’s study proves valid and Sasquatch is indeed genetically part human , then this drawing may be a closer stab at a real portrait than I previously believed. And Matt’s tag of “caveman” may have been very accurate!
Bigfoot and the Christmas Star sounds like the title of a children’s book, I know. Far from it! As soon as I started looking into tales of unknown upright canids 20 years ago, people also began reporting other creatures to me. I’ve received sightings of everything from giant birds to flying Batman to small green humanoids. But chief among those other sightings, especially in Wisconsin, are encounters with Bigfoot.
The sightings date back to at least the early 60s, and I’ve collected 15 or 16 very credible Sasquatch reports from a certain section of Southeast Wisconsin alone. This area stretches from Delavan north toward Eastern Rock County, southwestern Jefferson County and Northern Walworth County. There are plenty of other sightings all around Wisconsin but this area is very close to where I live – – in fact, you could say I’m in the thick of it. That comes in very handy for study purposes.
I’ve been revisiting some of the older sightings in this area to compare with newer incidents, and one that comes to mind every Christmas is the one I call Bigfoot and the Christmas star. I covered it more thoroughly in Hunting the American Werewolf, but here’s a brief recap:
Every December for many years, a Palmyra inventor and philanthropist named Irvin Young and his wife, Fern, lit a giant, electric Christmas star on the Kettle Moraine hill known as Bald Bluff. Locals also referred to it as Young Hill since the star was then on property owned by the Youngs. Area resident Judy Wallerman told me that as a teenager in 1970, she often sat on a nearby hillside and watched the star through binoculars just to see the bright lights.
Judy was watching one winter evening after a fresh snow that made the star’s surroundings easier to see, when she noticed a shadow- like figure darting about beneath it. The figure was near human in shape and covered with shaggy brown fur!
“It seemed to be focused on something,” said Judy.” It didn’t stand fully upright and it had a lumbering gait, it was slightly stooped but definitely on two legs.” She witnessed the creature running around the star on several other occasions, and when she told her friends about it she learned at least four or five others had seen it, too. The creature even had a nickname, Bluff Man or Bluff Monster. Her friend Rochelle Klemp was willing to speak to me about it and said, “It seemed human because it was upright, but size wise, it was taller than an average human.”
I have included Wallerman’s witness sketch. I’d have to say it’s a classic rendering of a Bigfoot.
The star was taken down in 2003 after Fern Young passed away. She had ceded the land to the state of Wisconsin years earlier but had stipulated the star must remain standing and lit every December for as long as she lived. (You can read more about the Youngs and Irvin’s strange sculptures on the site in my book, Strange Wisconsin; More Badger State Weirdness.)
Bald Bluff boasts a half-mile hiking trail and is part of the Kettle Moraine State Forest Southern Unit. The Kettle Moraine is comprised of plunging, bowl shaped depressions left by the last glacier. Most of it is heavily forested and teems with deer, wild turkey and other game perfect for a large predator. Hiking and biking trails wind along the ridges between the kettles, leaving plenty of space for a large creature to get around in between them. Bald Bluff is also very close to Blue Spring Lake, marshes and other water sources. And as I mentioned earlier there are plenty of other sightings of Bigfoot – – not to mention dog men, as well – –here to establish this was not a fluke incident.
I like to think perhaps that star-struck Bigfoot was doing a Christmas dance. But even if he was only chasing a deer or a rabbit, I love the mental image and hope it brings joy to you all.
Review: The World’s Weirdest Places by Nick Redfern, New Page Books 2012
As the author and co-author of two books in the Barnes & Noble Weird US series (WI and MI), I’m more than a little interested in bizarre places. Nick Redfern’s latest book, The World’s Weirdest Places, both piqued and satisfied that interest with his global tour of the most ghoulish, ghastly, and enigmatic locations to be found on planet Earth.
I expected no less. Redfern is always a font of Fortean-inspired nonfiction. He maintains that reputation here with chapters that sweep readers to the four corners of the earth, from the mysterious ancient city of Bhangarh, India, to the mystical vortexes of Sedona, Arizona.
The weird side of India’s gargantuan culture deserves a lot more press than it usually receives from the Western world. Although I’m a fan of archaeological digs in far-flung areas, I had never heard of Bhangarh , a once-bustling place that became a ghost town when its entire population suddenly up and blew town in the late 1700s. Redfern offers both the official explanation that the people disappeared due to unexpected famine and the more locally popular idea that a terrifying curse scared everyone away. According to Redfern, Bhangarh’s ruins retain an aura of evil to this day, possibly due to a legacy of black magic. The details Redfern reveals about that alleged magic are eye-popping.
Closer to home, I’ve personally visited Sedona, Arizona. My husband and I hiked to several of the vortex locations and spent a little time sitting on them, in fact. We didn’t experience anything weird, but others have reported a variety of odd phenomena. The rocky cliffs are supposed to be inhabited by entities called the Rock People who are apt to wreak havoc on unwary tourists. The site is also a mecca for UFOs, says Redfern. He provides several intriguing examples.
Redfern’s tour of world-wide weirdness also includes Sydney, Australia, Loch Ness, Russia’s Kremlin, the Philippines, Vietnam, and many more places sure to be added to the adventurous traveler’s bucket list. The book confirms what I’ve always suspected – – wherever there are people, there will be unexplainable experiences.
Redfern concludes with his observation that “window areas,” or places that exhibit multitudes of strange phenomena, are distributed throughout the world. He and other researchers speculate that such places may intersect with other dimensions or some sort of spirit world, and that occasionally those intersections open – – to let things in or out.
The book could be thought of as such a window in itself. It opened new possibilities in my own quest to explore baffling locales, eccentric people and strange creatures and phenomena. It’s sure to become another staple on every Redfern fan’s bookshelf, and is also a great entry point for readers uninitiated to the ever-expanding world of Redferneana. As Redfern says, the weirdness is unrelenting and it’s everywhere. I say, best learn about it from someone who knows his way around the unfathomable parts of the universe.
(original art copyright Linda Godfrey 2012)
Reports of unknown canids don’t stop just because I’m busy making seasonal appearances. So when my publisher, Tarcher/Penguin, asked me to write a Halloweenish guest blog, I saw a chance to reveal a few of my recent faves:
Werewolves, as I like to say, are not just for Halloween anymore. But comes October’s end, our thoughts turn naturally toward monsters and the macabre.
My own thoughts turn that way year ‘round; I’ve stalked, investigated and written about wolf-like, upright creatures for the past two decades. I believe that amid hundreds of reports of fanged, shaggy manimals must lie at least a fleshy gobbet of truth. And if all the incidents cited in Real Wolfmen; True Encounters in Modern America, aren’t enough to convince readers that something spooky this way trots, consider the many new reports that have poured in since the book’s September debut.
The horrific encounters come from ordinary citizens across the US and Canada. While a few eyewitnesses report creature behavior that smacks of the supernatural, most sightings describe what might be a natural canine that inexplicably walks or runs on its hind legs — and sports one nasty attitude.
I pawed through the most recently reported cases to choose six unforgettable meet-ups between real humans and real wolfmen. The reports below are abbreviated, but I still advise reading them in a brightly lit room with the front door securely shut. The creatures seem as curious about us as we are about them, and more than one witness has reported the harrowing sight of a furry face pressed against the windowpane.
Real wolfmen? Ask these people who’ve seen them:
Polk County, Florida: Highway horror describes what three family members felt in two separate encounters several years ago. First, a husband and wife spotted a seven-foot tall, wolf-like creature standing upright on the roadside as they passed it in their van. They didn’t slow down. A relative later saw a huge, muscular wolf-like creature that gave him an “evil feeling” just west of Orlando! (No, it wasn’t Mickey Mouse.)
Sparta, Tennessee: A teenager and her older brother on a sunset drive to the grocery store in 2003 forgot about the groceries as an upright, shaggy-furred, wolf-like creature weighing several hundred pounds sprinted across Simpson Road about fifteen feet in front of their Honda Accord. “It was a strange experience I will never forget,” she wrote.
New York state, central: A veteran police officer recalls a childhood encounter with a dark-furred, wolf-headed creature that he and some friends saw “sitting” on a log in some woods at dusk. They thought it might be a human in a dark cape – until it turned to glare at them and they saw its pointed ears, snout and fangs! The officer has since investigated huge, bipedal wolf prints in the same area.
Southern Indiana: A man and woman had just crossed the Ohio River driving north from Owensboro, Kentucky, in 2010 when they had to swerve to avoid hitting an upright, “emaciated and very riled wolf-like creature.” Before speeding away, the driver locked eyes with it and said he felt that the beast was both intelligent and dangerous. It snarled at them as they passed. “I was really fearful, so we left,” he wrote.
McHenry, Illinois: A woman driving home from her mother-in-law’s funeral one April night in 2002 was approaching a roadside cemetery on State Hwy. 31 when she noticed glowing eyes to her left. Next, a dark shape rose onto its hind legs and ran in front of her car, forcing her to brake. It paused to turn and snarl at her before running off into the cemetery. The beast stood taller than her six-foot high truck, she said, and it looked like a “walking wolf.” She called the experience “surreal.” Her husband slept through the whole thing.
Kilgore, Texas: Driving home at 5 am in light rain on a rural road near Kilgore, a thirty-five year old oil dispatcher slowed for a curve when some type of upright animal appeared in his high beams. It had a large, wolf-like head and carried a yearling deer! It growled aggressively at the man, who estimated its height at over six feet. “The thing scared the crap out of me,” he said. “I know what I saw and would put my hand on the Bible to it and take a lie detector test.”
There are more — the pony poacher of Alberta, Canada, the Ohio shadow wolf and the Hawaiian helper dogmen – to name a few. If these witnesses are to be believed, it’s an alternative zoo out there: a zoo that roams uncaged. Happy Halloween!
I’m braving the Sandy tailwinds to be in Wautoma WI tonight. Any Central WI Tweeps? Learn about Wolfmen with me tonight 6 pm Wautoma Public Library FREE http://www.wautomalibrary.org/
And here’s my interview with nbcnews.com http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/10/27/14724203-why-werewolves-give-us-the-willies
And watch here for my Halloween blog of new sightings tomorrow.
Stay storm safe!