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wingedcryptids

Lon Strickler’s Phantoms and Monsters blog, a daily stack of reports sent to him by eyewitnesses who say they have observed bird-like beings, has become the go-to place to check out unknown sky-cryptids. In his new book, “Winged Cryptids,” Strickler climbs into the cockpit to take on the daunting role of crypto-ornithologist, showing readers that our skies fairly teem with flapping, gliding and diving air-beasts.

Why the interest in big birds? Strickler says part of it is personal, explaining he was hooked by his own sightings of them in 1981 and 1988. The latter event occurred while investigating reports near Baltimore, Maryland, and the experience left him both terrified and fascinated. He wanted to know more about the massive creatures – some with wingspans more than 20 feet wide– and vowed to seek for answers. He has since received myriads of reports of a wide variety of winged cryptids, including the great puzzle of bat-like flying humanoids over Chicago, northern Illinois and other nearby states.

The winged wonders are not just a Midwestern thing. Sightings range from California to Buffalo and beyond. I also love the book’s mysterious cover art with its ancient-looking, feathered wings, but no body. And I’m still shuddering at the gargoyles in southwestern Florida and the flying skeleton-like thing.

Overall, “Winged Cryptids” is a book that I’m glad to have in my library, perhaps because it reminds me of my own signature mantra when encountering strange beings… always look behind you, always look up.  Available Here 

 

Want a fast pictorial on how I became a creature investigator and author? Here’s an unsolicited, unexpected, unremunerated short video from art teacher Andy McGraff at Lakewood Elementary in Twin Lakes WI. He created it as part of his exploration of area artists for his students’ “learning at a distance” program. My connection with Andy is that I have a degree in art education and often subbed in the Lakewood art room where Andy now works (when the schools have not been closed due to a monstrous virus invasion.) Andy includes some of the original “Inside Edition” footage from  the early days of the Bray Road saga, and other undescribable things that made me laugh. It’s on Youtube at https://youtu.be/6bnAH8hpVQU

Their business names–the Dairy State’s “Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue and Educational Shelter” and Tampa, Florida’s “Big Cats Shelter” (a.k.a. Greater Wynnewood Animal Park) are similar–and both take in tigers, lions and other hulking felines with nowhere else to go. But the two animal parks could not be more different in their goals and personnel, says Rock Falls, WI’s Jeff Kozlowski. He and his wife, Jennifer, run a small non-profit specializing in programs for school children, while Florida’s Big Cats Shelter is something else–in any way you wish to take that phrase.

But in summer 2019, my fledgling crew (White Lhasa Studios LLC) and I were busy filming in and around Hillsboro, Wisconsin. Kozlowski was on our list for his knowledge of big cats. We were totally unaware of the concurrent production of a TV series titled Tiger King after its flamboyant and freewheeling Floridian owner, known as Joe Exotic.

While Joe Exotic is the mainstay of the TV series, Kozlowski isn’t featured on the TV show and he has said on area media that he doesn’t mind at all. His interview with us for our award-winning* indie documentary, Return to Wildcat Mountain; Wisconsin’s Black Panther Nexus, involved possible big cat escapes and whether romance between jaguars and pumas could produce hybrids or occur at all. Our big ask, then, was whether a black jaguar could mate with a mountain lion to produce the mysterious black “panthers” we tracked. Kozlowski had a reasonable answer. We found him knowledgeable and willing to share his thoughts on every facet of big cat rescue.

Since Kozlowski is an important presence in Return to Wildcat Mountain, we also wanted to show him at his well-kept compound with a few of his own words. If you’d like to see more of our film, you may click the options below:

 SEE STREAMING VERSIONS HERE

and DVD’S HERE. (Dvd’s on sale until June 20th, 2020. Use Promo Code SPRINGCATS at checkout.)

*Return to Wildcat Mountain, released April 2020, won Best Documentary in the 4th Annual Midwest WeirdFest film festival, April 7-9 2020

Random Synchronicity of the day: Joe’s shelter is located in Florida’s Hillsborough County, while the Wisconsin shelter is only a bit over 15 miles from the Village of Hillsboro where we did the most work. Some would call this association of certain human and place names, “the name game.”

Michigan Bunny Man

Just in time for Easter…

Throughout the annals of cryptozoology, every once in a while a truly odd cryptid shows up. About this time this year I think of Virginia’s Bunny Man, hunted by Fairfax County Sheriff’s Deputies as it hopped through fields and neighborhoods, occasionally throwing  a hatchet through someone’s window. Everyone agreed it was a human dressed in a furry suit, usually white. There is a bridge named after him by locals, and a collection of crazed local lore in “Weird US,” 2004 by Mark Sceurman and Mark Moran.

Lesser known and more benign is the Michigan Bunny Man, which is more on the order of upright, over-sized animals.

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In this version, the five-foot tall, upright rabbit creature was seen by a woman working at a camp in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in 1958, between Paulding and Bruce Crossing. The woman’s daughter said it ran away from her mother on two legs. The woman, whom I met at a book signing in Iron Mountain, said her mother wasn’t the type to make things up, and often marveled that she had seen such a thing. It also happens that this area is almost the exact spot of the famed Paulding Lights. The illustration is my own fanciful interpretation of the creature. Happy Easter!

 

It’s almost here! Click to see  http://www.midwestweirdfest.com/program#/event-linda-godfrey-at-volume-one-sat-mar-7-300pm/ for the program. First run DVD’s will be available, and streaming announced soon.

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When I riff through my personal library shelves, I can pick out the books I most love and use by the number of makeshift bookmarks—shreds of Kleenex, ancient business cards, even cereal box tops– hanging out of them. It’s not that I don’t have any traditional bookmarks. It’s just that choosing the right gum wrapper or creased photo feels more organic; almost a crude art form. (I admit sometimes I’m just too lazy to go find a “real” one.) A few days ago I noticed five great books overflowing with found scraps, and decided to share not only their titles but also the added bits of flotsam and jetsam that distinguished them. SO, in no particular order:I

#1, and winning best title award, is Apocalypse Any Day Now by Tea Krulos, 2019, Chicago Review Press. In this witty first-hand survey of various disaster-prepping people and other live-for-today-plan-for-tomorrow folks, I used a “5-Below Store” receipt to mark the page of a checklist of things to take when the human race inevitably moves to Mars. I also used a quick-start booklet from my dash cam box instructions to note a page discussing zombies.

#2 For The Big Muddy Monster, by Chad Lewis, Noah Voss and Kevin Nelson, “On the Road Publications” 2019,” I chose a “get out of fines free card” I received from Elkhorn’s Matheson Public Library, and a bulletin for the annual Van Meter Visitor Conference hosted by the three authors. The first page I marked holds a particularly interesting passage on theories regarding “window areas,” or places where various unknown creatures and phenomena manifest and perhaps have Happy Hour. The other marker begins discussion of a Bigfoot-like creature associated with central Illinois in the mid-20th century, and many other paranormal and cryptid puzzles hunted in person by Lewis, Voss and Nelson. These guys camp in monster territory when it’s ten below zero! They are the real thing.

#3 Midwestern Strange, written by associate professor of English at UW-Wisconsin, Eau Claire; University of Nebraska Press, 2019. I could easily find something to mark every page in this recounting of, as his subtitle says, “Monsters, Martians and the Weird in Flyover Country.” But I used the note from my dog’s vet informing me it was time for Grendel’s heartworm pills to mark Hollars’ section on the Beast of Bray Road.  It includes a copy of my first newspaper drawing of the creature. There are also chapters on Rhinelander’s famed Hodag, West Virginia’s Mothman, and the Kensington Runestone, among others. For sure, there are enough subjects backed by elegant historical facts to lose that “Flyover” name forever!

#4 Hockomock, Peter Tower, published by Shiffer, 2013, at first seemed like an outlier with its earlier date and a title taken from an Algonquian phrase meaning “where the spirits dwell.” But the book is an intriguing inlier. Today its title refers to a 6,000 acre, swampy conservation area in Massachusetts also known as the Bridgewater Triangle, said to be the locus of all forms of paranormal and cryptid events—as well as many human tragedies. I have a torn piece of notebook paper showing me where the section on black mystery cats begins, a fish-shaped shopping list marking where to find a 1979 UFO incident report, and some small Post-It tabs at the beginning of the black dog info. There are tons of nooks and crannies to explore here yet, and I will need a well-filled wastebasket to mark it thoroughly.

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#5 The Real Men in Black, Nick Redfern, New Page Books; 2011, boasts a bunch of bookmarks. One, a hand-stamped fake luggage tag, says “Art saves lives.” I think that’s true. But art has its dangers. I used this tag to remind me of a particular study of the Loch Ness Monster in which the late investigator Ted Holiday witnessed a “man-in-black” figure watching him from a position slightly above the loch in 1973. Holiday felt deep “malevolence and abnormality emanating from the cold, passionless entity…” and then saw the figure instantly vanish. On his next visit, Holiday suffered a heart attack at the exact spot where the man in black had stood. This book is full of other odd MIB incidents that stand on their own merit but also document other strange events that occur in tandem with these visitations, from fairies to UFOs.

I enjoyed this journey into trash ephemera so much that I plan to do it again soon. So many economy motel notepads, so little time.

blackjaguar

Strangely, in some parts of North America, black big cats make up over half the eyewitness reports of mountain lions, but zoologists say black pumas don’t exist. If that’s true, then exactly what are these ebony felines? Some say they are mutations or hybrids, others point to ancient beliefs of area Native Americans that the black big cats are guardian spirit animals. Might one small central Wisconsin town hold a clue to this growing mystery?

 

 

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This puzzling and eerie phenomenon is the basis (as written in my book, “I Know What I Saw” ) for my debut film documentary as director/producer of Return to Wildcat Mountain; Wisconsin’s Black Panther Nexus.The film has been unanimously selected in one of the premiere release positions March 7th at the Midwest Weirdfest Film Festival in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

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I provided original art and served as writer and director, with my husband, Steve Godfrey, as co-producer. Our son Nate Godfrey, a film maker with a degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, also lent his directorial skills, and created the camera, audio, anOur Indie Documentaryimation, and editing. ..pretty much everything that required hands on film know-how. Former newspaper editor/journalist Steven Stanek, Hillsboro WI, shared the decades of amazing eyewitness reports he has collected for his news column and became our field producer.

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Streaming is now available at  http://www.reelhouse.org/whitelhasastudios/return-to—wildcat-mountain/

Also see Facebook’s Return to Wildcat Mountain page.

 

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