WEEKLY WEIRD NEWS

New hiding place for Nessie…

Photo of the Loch Ness MonsterLast week we introduced a report about the search for Bigfoot that resulted from four years of study. While it doesn’t have the indisputable evidence that we crave, it brought up a number of ideas about why we could look and look and look for something and still not be able to find it.

This week brings us another case where we thought we knew something and there’s more to find. People have been searching for Nessie (the mysterious Loch Ness creature) since 1933. Even though there have been numerous sightings, photos and even video to support the idea that something is in the Loch, no one has been able to locate the creature. How is that possible? Loch Ness only covers about 22 square miles. Yes, it’s a lot of space, but it’s all boxed in. With all of the sophisticated sonar equipment we have along with satellites and everything else that we use to explore we must be able to see everything in there, right?

You would think so, but even with all that a new discovery was made about Loch Ness, a discovery which could make all the difference. There are parts of the Loch that we haven’t yet seen! According to this article from the Daily Record, Keith Stewart, captain of a tourist sightseeing boat, did some new soundings and found an area that is 76 feet deeper than anything that has been measured before. This newly discovered trench could certainly be a hiding place for Nessie and other similar creatures. Here is video of Captain Stewart as they made their historic find.

This discovery calls much into question. Is this the only such trench in the Loch? Could there be other such hiding places? Does this give more credence to the idea some have had that there may be hidden channels between Loch Ness and other bodies of water, allowing creatures to move between others?

Also, it is reasonable that whatever this creature is that it could prefer living at depths. This National Geographic gallery shows a number of creatures that are rarely encountered because they stay deep beneath the surface. We just don’t know!

Perhaps this discovery will lead to a different picture of Loch Ness and different approaches to searching for Nessie.

Saul Ravencraft's signature

 


Report released from 4-year Bigfoot search

bigfootWhy don’t we have Bigfoot in a cage yet? Why hasn’t he been captured? When do we get definitive proof? How hard can it be?

As it turns out it’s harder than we might imagine. Few of us are actually privy to the painful process of discovery. We find out the results, the path that worked out. We usually aren’t told about the failed theories, the false trails, the dead ends. So, when we look at things like finding Bigfoot it’s easy to get discouraged.

This video, courtesy of KTUL in Tulsa, Oklahoma, outlines the findings of some dedicated Bigfoot after four years of looking. Some of their observations are pretty interesting. They’ve found signs of primate activity. They’ve also found some logic to why it’s difficult to capture the creatures on camera. This video leads you briefly through everything. The full report is available in PDF format.

Does this get us closer? Maybe. They certainly provide some food for thought that other Bigfoot searchers might consider, especially when it comes to technologies. They might even be on the track to get us the proof that we crave. Time will tell, as it always does. We’ll keep watching and waiting.

Saul Ravencraft's signature


What’s better than finding a skeleton under the schoolyard?

Facial reconstruction by forensic archaeologist, Hayley Fisher, shows what the man might have looked like. See the original article from Herald Scotland.

What’s better than finding a skeleton under the schoolyard? How about finding that skeleton might be an executed pirate?!

As part of excavating a playground last year at the Victoria Primary School in Edinburgh the AOC Archaeology Group performed an archaeological survey. This is a common practice, especially in historical areas like where the school resides. Researchers anticipated finding remnants of the Newhaven dockyards, an old harbor and shipbuilding facility from the reign of King James IV. Instead they found the skeletal remains, which were not in good condition.

Around the skeleton they also found shards of 4,000-year-old Bronze Age pottery. They naturally assumed that everything was from the same era until radiocarbon dating showed the skeleton to actually be from the 16th or 17th century. They estimated that the individual was about 50 years old at the time of death and did not die peacefully.

Hanging of William Kidd

Captain Kidd, who was tried and executed for piracy, hanging in chains

Further research into the history of the area showed that there was a gibbet on the Newhaven dockyards. This is reserved for the really bad guys that need to be an example to others. Pirates often fell into this category. It was a sort of cage or other display where an executed pirate would be hung, usually until their body fell apart. The smell must have been lovely.

What do the kids think of this gruesome discovery in their playground?Laura Thompson, Head Teacher at Victoria Primary School, said:

“The pupils think it’s fantastic that a skeleton was found deep underneath their playground. The archaeologists will hold a special lesson with some of the children about how they have used science to analyse the remains and it will be a good learning opportunity for them.”

The video at the end covers a little more detail. Be sure to visit the Museum of the Weird and learn about our own pirate connection.

Saul Ravencraft's signature


Weird New Year Traditions

In an earlier entry I shared some bizarre December traditions around the world. Of course there are some strange choices to ring in the New Year. It may be too late for you to try some of these, but there’s always next year (unless those doomsday guys are finally right this time).

To help you choose I’ve put everything in convenient categories.

Burning things

Stonehaven fireballs 2003

Scots parade through the street swinging fireballs
Photo by MrPurple at English Wikipedia [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Fire is always festive. You could go with the fireworks, but there are so many more interesting things to burn! In Scotland they have the fireball ceremony—the best one is in Stonehaven—where local people of all ages walk through the streets spinning flaming wire cages around their heads. The cages are designed to keep the spinners safe but the onlookers may be vulnerable! The purpose is to burn off the bad spirits from last year and bring the new spirits in clean and fresh.
NYE-burning viejo in Ecuador

Effigy burning in Ecuador
Photo by Carlos Adampol Galindo from DF, México (Fiesta de año nuevo, Vilcabamba, Ecuador) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In Ecuador and Panama they celebrate the New Year by burning scarecrows and effigies of famous people. Ecuadorians also burn photographs from last year. (Unfortunately those embarrassing ones you posted to social media are there forever.)

Wearing things

new-year-red_underwear

Red underwear is a popular item around Christmas in Turkey.

You’ve probably packed that Santa hat away, but there are fun things to wear for the New Year. In South America colorful underwear is encouraged. (Here’s a guide to help you pick the right one.) In Turkey, red is the preferred color and it’s very common for women to receive red panties as a Christmas gift to help them prepare.

In Mexico it’s traditional to wear white for good luck. In Chile they put money in their shoes. Of course, the silly hat is always an option.

Throwing things

3936422_20130102031524

The street is littered with furniture tossed from windows in South Africa as people clear for the new year

What could start the new year better than a little healthy flinging things about. You might follow the lead of the Romanians who toss coins into the river to bring prosperity into the new year. You might bang the walls and doors with Christmas bread like they do in Ireland.

People in Denmark smash old plates on people’s doorsteps. The more broken plates you find on your doorstep the more friends you are seen to have. People actually save dishes throughout the year to have a good stash of ammunition come December.

If you live in an apartment overlooking the street you could delight the neighbors with the Puerto Rican tradition of throwing a bucket of water out the window to drive away evil spirits.

The big winners of the throwing-things competition have to be in Johannesburg, South Africa. They don’t mess around on New Years! They throw old furniture out the windows to make way for new things in the new year!

Eating things

pancakes-with-butter-and-maple-syrup

Enjoy a plate of pancakes as they do in France

You may demand your black eyed peas or tamales on New Year’s eve, but have you thought of eating twelve grapes like they do in Spain (and Puerto Rico). Hungarians enjoy kocsonya (a cold pork aspic) but no fish or chicken, which might cause luck to fly (or swim) away.

Bolivia has a fun tradition of baking coins into cakes and other sweets. If you find one in your sweet you get good luck in the coming year.

If all that sounds too complicated, join the French and just enjoy some pancakes to bring in the new year.

Other things

Need more? Japan really rings in the new year with a ceremony where they ring bells 108 times to correspond to the number of evil desires that need to be cleansed. In Venice they enjoy fireworks over the Piazza San Marco, and a bit of snogging, as many gather to kiss in the new year!. (You can probably try this out at home as well.)

Romanian_bear_dance

Revelers don bear skins for the traditional Romanian bear dance

Animals play a big part in new year traditions around the world. Romanians dance with bears. (I know one that might dance with me if I bought him a drink.) Belgians try to talk to their cows and Romanians talk to other animals. Success means good luck for the year. The people in Brasstown, NC do an “opossum-drop” where an opossum in a transparent box is lowered over a crowd of revelers. (Perhaps this is a new adventure for your cat.)

A Latin tradition is walking your suitcase around the block to encourage travel. What could it hurt?

My favorite tradition, though, is from central Chile. Apparently they have a sort of campout in the graveyard. It apparently all started with a family who broke into the cemetery to be near their dead father. The mayor now opens the yard for a vigil where many gather to remember loved ones.

However you choose to celebrate this new year I hope it is truly prosperous and joyful for you all. Keep it weird!

Saul Ravencraft's signature


A guest sent this weird video

As you can imagine we don’t get the same kind of guests as other more conventional museums. Everyone who visits is interested in weird things. That’s why they come to see our collection of oddities and artifacts that include everything from a Fiji Mermaid to a haunted skeleton. However, some visitors bring a little something of their own. I often talk to guests who have strange tales to tell of things they’ve encountered.

After a tour, one woman told me about the strange things that they experienced in their home. She told me she would send video that showed a ghostly orb. I agreed to blur out the face of her child for privacy, but here is the video that she sent.

Near the end of the video, at about the 5-second mark, you can see a small trace of light that appears from the lower left and rises up to leave the frame to the right. She said that they encountered things like this and had even experienced what seemed to be the spirits of dogs that wandered into the bathroom. She did not feel these were dangerous. In fact, she felt like they gained protection from the watchfulness of these entities.

Shadowman-3

Shadowman by Timitzer
[CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

We have guests who have shared their experiences with Bigfoot, UFOs, and other strange encounters.

Not all are positive stories. Another guest shared that he had multiple encounters with Shadow People. They seem to have followed him as he has moved to different locations and he experiences tension and dread from these encounters.

Most of the tales, however, are one-time events, brief encounters that have no real evidence, but they know what they saw, what they experienced. They just seem glad to find someone who can hear the story and appreciate it for what it is, a bizarre experience that they can never forget.

We take such tales seriously and offer help to those who need it. Some are interested in advice on how to deal with such entities and want to do a clearing to remove them. Others are willing to share space with the spirits and just want to better understand how to get along.

We always welcome the weird experiences of our guests. If you have bizarre pictures or video that you want to share let us know and we’ll try to include your encounters in future blogs. In the mean time, know that the Museum is a place where such things are definitely respected. To coin a phrase: “We are ready to believe you!”

Saul Ravencraft's signature


Is this how it all ends?

''Four Horsemen of Apocalypse'', by Viktor Vasnetsov. Painted in 1887.

''Four Horsemen of Apocalypse'', by Viktor Vasnetsov. Painted in 1887.In the midst of the big holiday season there’s nothing like giving a little thought to the end of the world. While wars, pestilence, disease, and alien invasion are still the favorite stories, there is a danger lurking out there that we can’t really do anything about.

It’s the sun! This video talks about how the sun might take us out.

Pretty scary stuff, eh? Of course, if it was to happen, what could we do? Would we even have time to react? The sun is eight light minutes away from the earth, which means that its light take eight minutes to reach us. An event might be hurling something slower, but it’s likely to come quickly.

There might be signs, though. Who’s keeping an eye on this? SOHO, or the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, has been keeping an eye on things for 20 years. They even have software you can use to see what’s happening with the sun. The video said that we could get about 15 hours of warning if a serious event were to occur. Since a lot of the damage is more to our infrastructure and our electrical system than to our persons it’s likely we could just shut down for a while and everything would be fine. Of course, we’ve never really been through it like this before so we don’t know exactly what will happen.

So, just go about your business, and pay no attention to that big yellow ball that is watching and waiting in the sky.

Saul Ravencraft's signature


Try these weird Christmas traditions

It’s December and the final holidays of the year are in full swing. Christmas gets most of the attention, but it’s certainly not the only one in town. Mental Floss has an article featuring a few other holidays you might want to celebrate this year.

Of course, if you are going to stick with Christmas, there are many strange traditions available there as well. This infographic on Love Home Swap has a list to view, but we’ve grabbed some favorites for you right here.

Strange foods

Every holiday has it’s foods. Thanks to the 1983 film A Christmas Story, a generation of people in the United States (and maybe around the world) think about having Chinese food for Christmas dinner, but there are other bizarre traditions. Try one of these:

Mopane-worm-meal

A delicious dish of mopane worms
Photo by Ling Symon [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons”

South Africans enjoy a traditional delicacy of fried mopane worms. These are actually caterpillars for the Emperor Moth. They are high in protein and can be prepared as a simple fried snack or an elaborate dish like the picture.If that’s not to your taste, you might enjoy some Greenland traditions. Have a little Mattak (also known as Muktuk), made from raw whale skin. If that’s too tame, and you really want to do it up right you might prepare Kiviak. That’s essentially 400-500 whole auk birds that are left to ferment in a hollowed-out seal carcass for 3-18 months. The fermentation softens the auks so that every part can be eaten except for the feathers. I guess there’s a bucket for those. Kiviak is best served cold and outdoors. (That will never come out of the drapes!)Of course, you don’t have to go for something that exotic. An advertising campaign in 1974 left ripples in time as many Japanese families eat at KFC on Christmas Eve. This is especially interesting as the day is not a national holiday in Japan and not widely celebrated there.

Bizarre decorations

If the person across the street has had their Christmas decorations up since before Halloween you can add a little challenge to the scene with some of these lovely twists on the traditional holiday theme.

Caganer-2012-Barcelona - 01

This will get the neighbors’ attention!
Photo by Roeland P. [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Christmas spider ornaments ukraine

Ukraine spider decoration on a Christmas tree
Photo by Erika Smith [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons”

Tió de Nadal

Isn’t this little guy cute? Photo by Slastic [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

If you really want to get some attention you might consider adding the Catalonian caganer to your crèche this season. The BBC has a full article on this little bad boy, but it’s basically a figure defecating (yes you read that right). It’s been a part of decorations in this area of Spain for about two centuries. Why? It probably started as a joke in poor taste and then marketing got hold of it. Caganer figures come in an enormous variety of styles. You can even find pictures of giant displays in the shopping centers.

If the poo theme has appeal, you can continue it with another Catalonian tradition called the Tio de Nadal. As this article on Atlas Obscura explains, this is an adorable decorated log which is filled with presents for the family. It is cared for and even given a blanket to keep it warm. Finally, on Christmas Eve the little guy is put into the fireplace and the family takes turns beating it while commanding it to poop out presents. It’s like a piñata but Quentin-Tarantino-style.

I have to admit that I like the Ukrainian style for decorating trees. Along with the traditional decorations they include spider webs and spiders. This tradition stems from a legend about a poor widow and her children who were excited to find a pine tree growing next to their house, meaning they would have a Christmas tree. However, they were too poor to decorate it. The spiders in the area heard their tears and spent the night covering the tree with their intricate webs. When the family awoke they found the tree covered in the ethereal silken lace. As the sun rose and the golden rays touched the webs they turned each one into silver and gold and the widow and her children never wanted for anything again.

So, don’t put all those Halloween decorations away!

Supernatural beings

Jólakötturinn will get you if you don't get new clothes.

Jólakötturinn will get you if you don’t get new clothes.

Kallikatzaros

Kallikatzaros by ΟΕΔΒ 1961 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

You’ve all heard about Santa Claus, and you’ve probably been hearing plenty about Krampus lately, but there are plenty of other interesting creatures who reward and terrorize people for Christmas. Try these on for size:

Cats are notoriously dangerous to Christmas trees, but in Iceland the Yule Cat (or Jólakötturinn) will devour anyone who doesn’t receive a new item of clothing. Socks probably count. We don’t know about ties. This seems to be a more recent tradition, started in the 19th century, but so did the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future. We don’t require our child-devouring beasts to be ancient, as long as children are being devoured. (…so buy someone some socks!)

You might also experience a horde of  Kallikantzaroi from Greece, evil goblins that lurk underground but escape to the surface for the 12 days of Christmas, wreaking havoc. They are essentially destructive hooligans but rather than wearing sports team paraphernalia they are black-haired, dog-faced creatures with goat hooves.

A wine-drinking, present-delivering Christmas witch? Sign us up!

A wine-drinking, present-delivering Christmas witch? Sign us up!

Of course, not all supernatural creatures of the season are bad. Some are rather nice. For example, In Italy, the friendly witch, Befana, delivers toys and sweets on the 5th of January. (Clever that, because everything is on the after-holiday sale!) She sounds like a hoot, too, flying around on her broom delivering presents for good children—leaving coal for the naughty ones—and consuming wine left as a gift for her.

So, there you have it! Several interesting traditions you can use to spice up your holiday. Of course, you should also add the tradition of visiting the Museum of the Weird to pick up some unique gifts and see our exhibits. See you soon!

Saul Ravencraft's signature


Shocking Black Friday Carnage (video)

In the camps people begin to stir. They have waited restlessly for days, leaving family and friends behind for a grim existence without luxury. While others gathered around the Thanksgiving table, they remained vigilant, preparing for this moment. Now the day is upon them.

Adrenaline quickly overcomes the bleariness of fatigue in the predawn hour, but this is not something that arrives with the sun. The attack has been coming for days and planned for weeks. Notes are consulted as each objective is confirmed. Time to go to the line.

Everyone tries to keep their focus, surrounded by enemies. “Keep your mind on the target,” one of them thinks, nervously pumping her legs in place to deal with the waiting…the endless waiting.

Finally, suddenly, the signal is given. Darkness gives way to blazing light as the doors are flung open. The line surges forward. There! There! There is the first objective! It’s in view. The throng lunges, but not everyone makes it in the first wave. Some are cast aside, the first casualties of the day, as Black Friday has begun.


Yes, its the day of dystopian shopping, where individuals from all walks of life turn into a snarling mob that looks more like something from a Mad Max movie than a start to the holidays. We don’t have any footage of this year’s carnage yet, but here are some highlights of  incredible scenes from last year.

According to this article from the Huffington Post,  the term Black Friday has nothing to do with businesses getting “into the black.” The term was coined by the Philadelphia Police sometime in the 1960s to describe the mayhem they experienced trying to keep the peace in terrible crowds and traffic as shoppers descended on the city. According to this blog, the term was not really appreciated by retailers as late as 1985. Of course, all of that changed when some marketers decided they could stir things up with customers using the term and it has all gotten more insane ever since.

LuckyLizardBlackFridayI’ll try to update this with some current footage when it becomes available, but you won’t find me out there getting it first hand. I’m going to rest comfortably in my bed and then I’ll see you at the Museum of the Weird tonight.

Of course, the Lucky Lizard is offering a great deal, that doesn’t require you to get up early. This entire weekend you can get 25% off almost everything in the store with the purchase of a museum ticket. Get away from the madness of the malls and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of our mummies, shrunken heads and other amazing oddities. It’s all November 27-29. See you there!

Saul Ravencraft's signature


Thanks for everything

Digital collage of Thanksgiving dinner themes

HappyTurkeyDay!!
Digital art by Lewis Minor [cc-by]

Today is the day when the United States has our traditional Thanksgiving holiday. There are many stories about the history of Thanksgiving, but today it is largely recognized as a day where families and friends gather with a celebration of food and often football.

Of course, we aren’t the only ones to have a day to focus on gratitude. Many cultures have such days with many different customs. Honestly, it’s always a good day to give thanks for what you have.

Here at the Museum of the Weird we are grateful to have spent the last 10 years sharing our unique collection with people of the world. We are grateful for the thousands of people who come through our door and appreciate our oddities and share with their own friends. We are grateful for the employees and performers who passionately help us share all of this. We are grateful that the city of Austin is a place where we can be as weird as we need to be and it’s just not a problem. There are some cities where you can’t really do that. (Trust us on that!)

The Museum is closed today so everyone can be with friends and family. Please enjoy this blast from the past, a classic “Weird Al” Yankovic video that seems appropriate to the day. Of course, we’ll be back tomorrow. If your Black Friday gets too dark or you just want to get away from the hoards of zombie shoppers come and take some time away in the quiet of our mummies, shrunken heads, and two-headed animals. You might even find the perfect gift in our shop for those unique people in your life.

All the best to you and yours.

Saul Ravencraft's signature


Astronaut’s “UFO” tweet only latest in long history of encounters

Screenshot of Scott Kelly's tweet

At 3:56 PM on November 15, 2015 astronaut Scott Kelly posted the following Tweet from his year-long sojourn on the International Space Station. Do you see what we see in the top right corner?

Screenshot of Scott Kelly's tweet Let’s look at that a little more closely.

Enlargement of tweet photo showing a strange, cigar-shaped object with lights on either side.

Some say this is merely a reflection captured in the picture. Others suggest it was a subtle way for Kelly to share something that has been controversial for astronauts to discuss since the 1960s, encounters with UFOs. This article on syti.net reports some of the amazing encounters that astronaut have apparently had with extraterrestrials since the earliest reaches into space. Here are the highlights:

  • Major Gordon Cooper – Orbiting the earth in a Mercury capsule, May 15, 1963, he reported a glowing, greenish object approaching him. The object registered on the tracking station’s radar, so it was substantial. He had an earlier sighting as an F-86 pilot of metallic, saucer-shaped disks flying over Western Germany.
  • Donald Slayton –Another Mercury astronaut also saw an unexplained object in 1951 while testing a P-51 fighter in Minneapolis.
  • Robert White – While doing a high-altitude flight of an X-15 in 1962 he saw a “grayish” object “about thirty to forty feet away.”
  • Joseph A. Walker – Also executing X-15 flights, he filmed strange objects during high flights.

The most startling information is the following exchange that was picked up by ham radio operators who were eavesdropping on the NASA broadcasts during Apollo 11, July 21, 1969.

NASA: Whats there? Mission Control calling Apollo 11…

Apollo11: These “Babies” are huge, Sir! Enormous! OH MY GOD! You wouldn’t believe it! I’m telling you there are other spacecraft out there, Lined up on the far side of the crater edge! They’re on the Moon watching us!

Later, a professor (who prefers to remain anonymous) was talking to Armstrong about his experiences at a NASA symposium. He reported the following discussion.

Professor: What REALLY happened out there with Apollo 11?

Armstrong: It was incredible, of course we had always known there was a possibility, the fact is, we were warned off! (by the Aliens). There was never any question then of a space station or a moon city.

Professor: How do you mean “warned off”?

Armstrong: I can’t go into details, except to say that their ships were far superior to ours both in size and technology – Boy, were they big! and menacing! No, there is no question of a space station.

Professor: But NASA had other missions after Apollo 11?

Armstrong: Naturally – NASA was committed at that time, and couldn’t risk panic on Earth. But it really was a quick scoop and back again.

Are these exaggerations? misquotes? misunderstandings? Is there a cover-up? The original syti.net article cites other stories with links to additional material.

Are we heading toward some big revelations involving alien life? The recent Mars disclosures are preparing us for bigger news. Perhaps it’s true. I could certainly handle the truth, as long as it’s not like the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man.” (If you haven’t seen it you really need to. It’s on Hulu.)

I guess we continue to wait and wonder.

Saul Ravencraft's signature


Man attacked by brain-eating worm given only 30 minutes to live

Luis Ortiz, a California college student, was suddenly struck by a crippling headache and became very ill. His mother rushed him to the emergency room of a Napa hospital where neurosurgeon Soren Singel ran a brain scan. What he saw was terrifying.

A tapeworm larva was eating into Luis’s brain and unless something was done immediately he had only 30 minutes to live! Ortiz was rushed to emergency surgery where the still-wriggling parasite was extracted. Here is video of an interview that CBS News did with this fortunate survivor.

According to this report by the US centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) these larval cysts in the brain – neurocysticercosis – can develop after a person swallows microscopic eggs passed in the faeces of a person who has an intestinal pork tapeworm. They can also come from swimming in infested water.

The eggs hatch inside the body and the worms sometimes make their way to the brain. According to the CDC approximately 1,000 people end up in the hospital with these larvae. Few are such an extreme case as this Luis.

You can’t go through life worrying all the time about brain-eating worms, but clearly there are a few things we should pay attention to. Cook that pork! Be cautious where you swim. Try not to eat people’s faeces, especially people who eat raw pork!

We are glad that Luis survived this ordeal. What a terrifying experience! If you’ve had an amazing medical encounter, tell us.

Saul Ravencraft's signature


What happens when this squirrel leaps from a 21-story building? (video)

A squirrel managed to climb its way to the top of an apartment building but then found no place to go. Onlookers were surprised to find the little creature so they couldn’t help but record it. Then this happened.

Assuming this was a typical building, that was a leap of about 210 feet! As you saw, the little guy seemed to be unharmed. How is this possible?

They answer is wonderful! According to this article, squirrels  seem particularly suited to falling. They are small, light, fluffy and tend to spread themselves out when they fall. All of this creates a tremendous amount of air drag on the plummeting squirrel. This opposing force usually counteracts the pull of gravity enough to let them survive. We certainly can’t argue with the video evidence.

Is it time for a squirrel-based superhero?

Saul Ravencraft's signature


Shocking footage: Teen possessed through phone app

You’ve heard stories about bad things happening through a Ouija board, but a phone app should be safe enough, right? See what you think after watching this disturbing footage of a teenager from Peru who appeared to be possessed after playing with a Ouija game on her telephone. You can see the full story in this news article.

Connecting with entities through these portals is serious business and should not be done lightly. If you plan to play with a Ouija board here are some things that you must do to be safe.

  1. Never do this alone. Make sure someone is around to keep an eye on you. If something goes wrong you want someone there who can notice and help.
  2. Create a protected spiritual space. You might say a prayer and sing a hymn before you begin. You might cast a circle. Do something from your own spiritual practice to call protection to you and ward off darker entities.
  3. Don’t just ask for anyone. This is the spiritual equivalent of  walking out in the street and yelling “Anyone want to come home with me?” Aleister Crowly recommended calling upon specific people and entities. This is a good plan.
  4. If something feels wrong, stop. End the session immediately.
  5. Record your session. It’s good to have a record, but it’s also a way to detect if something odd happened that has been removed from your memory.

If you follow these guidelines you can have an interesting connection with the spirit world. Of course, even these steps don’t guarantee your safety. There is a risk any time that you open this door. Learning what is out there and how to ground and protect yourself are critical.

Of course, sometimes people get hold of Ouija boards and realize that it’s not right for them. If you have a board that you need removed I provide this as a free service to people in the Austin, Texas areas. I will take the board away and see that it is properly handled. I will also perform a sage cleansing of your home to help dispel any lingering negative energy. If you need this service, please contact me directly.

This is the time of year when the veil between worlds is thin, so it’s a great time to reach out. Be smart. Be safe. Have a great Halloween (or Samhain if you will). Take time visit us at the Museum for some extra-spooky fun.

Saul Ravencraft's signature


Ghost hag stalks children in Ft. Worth museum

You take your children to the Fort Worth Museum. After a day of educational fun you come back home and review the pictures of the day.

“Who’s that?” your child asks pointing to someone in a picture. With a chill, you realize that there is something unearthly in the picture. Something that was there with your child!

This is the exact experience that one gentleman had. Here is a picture he took in a little mock grocery store exhibit they had set up for younger children.

photo of a grocery store exhibit for kids with miniature shopping carts, shelves full of items and a checkout register

This looks like harmless family fun

In this next picture things look a little different. What is that strange figure in the upper right?

a photo of the grocery store exhibit in the museum with a ghostly figure in the upper right

What is that thing in the top right of the picture?

Do you see? Look again…

Closer view of the mysterious draped figure that seems void of color with exagerated arms and hands

Seriously! What is that?

The original post discussion was on Reddit by KRAMERisCRUNK. He says that when he took the picture he did not see anyone in that part of the exhibit. Skeptics insist that he was mistaken, but they weren’t there, were they?

In the discussion is this comment:

[–]CagedGod

Hello, employee of the museum in question here. When we had the Titanic exhibit, our security guards would relay stories about how the 1st class bedroom mockup would randomly have its blankets messed up as if someone had been in the bed. Then the boiler room portion would have some of the boiler doors opened up.

Is this just a weird camera trick or is it evidence of the unseen world? If it is an apparition, what is its reason for being around these children? Is it just watching or does it have another purpose?

Most spirit encounters aren’t actually harmful. They are just strange and surprising because they defy our understanding of reality. The main spirit in our own Museum is sometimes even helpful in her own way and we definitely feel that she watches over things. (We are going to attempt to make contact with her and any other spirits in the area on Wednesday the 28th. Reserve your spot.)

I cannot draw any conclusions about this photograph. I do take the photographer at his word that he did not notice anyone there when he took the picture. It remains a mystery…and we like those.

Saul Ravencraft's signature


Chupacabra proof found in Chile?

Drawing of a chupacabra, a small humanoid creature with large black eyes and spikes coming out of its back

The Chupacabra is perhaps one of the most mysterious creatures that we follow. A newer addition to the cryptid list, these strange, blood-sucking creatures were first reported around 1995 in Puerto Rico. Variations of the creature have ranged from a small humanoid with large teeth and a spiked spine to a dog-like creature seen around Texas. In all cases the appearance of the chupacabra includes death to livestock with a mysterious lack of blood on the scene, as though the predator was thirsty for it.

After much conjecture, the Daily Mail reports a farmer in Chile who has actually found and preserved two corpses of the legendary creature. Javier Prohens, a goat farmer, had his lunch suddenly interrupted by farmhand 54-year-old Bricio Saldivar who was very agitated. He took them to the corpses of these bizarre creatures outside of Monte Patria. The remains were unlike anything they had ever seen.

Picture of two animal bodies found in Chile, thought to be chupacabras

Two mysterious bodies might be the mysterious chupacabra

Close-up view of chupacabra corpse head

Closeup of the mysterious corpse shows vicious teeth and human-like ears.

In the Museum we have a display of several pieces of evidence for Bigfoot. We reported recent evidence where people have heard the creatures in Canada, yet many still deny their existence. Will these bodies help people to take the chupacabra legends more seriously?

More updates as they become available. Come visit the Museum of the Weird to see our evidence for mysterious creatures.

Saul Ravencraft's signature


Live two-headed pig born in China!

At the Museum we have a number of specimens of animal oddities, including a number of two-headed animals. Many of these animals had no life. Nature was just too brutal to them. It’s wonderful to see someone who is a survivor.

A Chinese man holds a two-headed piglet

This amazing animals was adopted and is still alive

According to this story in the U.K.’s Daily Mail, the animal was  left outside a temple in Xinkou town, Tianjin. Because of the weight of his head he is unable to stand up and requires significant care. He was discovered and adopted by a Yang Jinliang. Because it is so young it must be fed with a bottle and Jinliang says it is able to eat from both mouths.

This is truly a miraculous story. We hope that the pig has a chance to grow up. We will provide more information as we hear it.

Visit the Museum this weekend and see our own amazing collection of animal oddities, including a number of two-headed creatures.

Saul Ravencraft's signature

 


There’s evidence of alien life and the FBI has it

Depiction of a "grey alien"Rendered by Bobby from devientart.com

Depiction of a “grey alien”
Rendered by Bobby from devientart.com

In 1994, researchers were planning to open a museum in Hakui, Japan, devoted to the history and evidence of UFOs. Amongst the 10,000 reports they had collected was a memo dated March 22, 1950 to FBI Director J Edgar Hoover from Federal special agent Guy Hottel, who was in charge of the FBI Washington Field Office. This is three years after the reported Roswell incident. Here are quotes from that memo:

“An investigator for the Air Force states that three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico.

“They were described as being circular in shape with raised centres, approximately 50 feet in diameter.

“Each one was occupied by three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall, dressed in metallic cloth of a very fine texture.

“According to Mr [redacted], the saucers were found in New Mexico due to the fact that the Government has a very high-powered radar set-up in that area and it is believed the radar interferes with the controlling mechanism of the saucers.”

If we read that correctly that suggests that nine extraterrestrial bodies were recovered from the crash in Roswell and that someone has the bodies and the wreckage.

The Freedom of Information act has now revealed further FBI papers dated from 1994 which indicate concern about what information are contained in these files. The FBI apparently began to keep a close eye on the planned opening of the museum.  One particular memo from January 1994 cites specific areas of concern including these statements by museum official, Toru Wada:

“In the future, we hope the center will become a focus of international attention in terms of collecting and disseminating information on UFOS.”

“The city has painstakingly acquired the documents over a 10-year period from such sources as the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).”

The memo also cites this statement by Josen Takano, a municipal employee who was interested in UFOs who had collected US information on the topic: “Takano said efforts are under way to gather even more information through a network of enthusiasts in 12 other countries.”

Photo of UFO-shaped Cosmo Isle building which has a large model of a moon-style rocket standing to its right

Cosmo Isle Hakui
Photo by Hirorinmasa [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

What happened next may be more telling. The UFO center did not open as planned, but went through a lot of changes. It is called the Cosmo Isle Hakui. The building is still somewhat UFO shaped, but has placed much more emphasis on exhibits depicting NASA Space Research.

Did someone step in and change the course of the museum? There are rumors that some of the documents were actually seized by FBI agents, which is remarkable since this would be on foreign (if allied) soil.

There are critics who say that these memos don’t constitute any evidence and that the whole idea is just pure fantasy. Others point out that these documents are obvious indications that the government is hiding solid evidence on the nature of UFOs and the existence of extraterrestrials.

As in all cases like this, we wait to see more.

Saul Ravencraft's signature

Read more reports at Yahoo News, Express News, UK, and Daily Star, UK


Could this fossilized flea unleash deadly plague?

Fea in amber

Fea in amber

This flea preserved about 20 million years ago in amber may carry evidence of an ancestral strain of the bubonic plague.
Photo by George Poinar, Jr., courtesy of Oregon State University [CC BY-SA 2.0]

The flea in this picture could contain the ancestor to one of the most horrifying diseases known to the human race, the Black Death. Also called the bubonic plague, this disease killed an estimated 50 million people in the 14th century, or 60 per cent of Europe’s entire population.

Examination of this flea found droplets of the deadly bacteria on its proboscis (sucking mouthpart) and in its backside. This thing’s got it bad!

George Poinar, Jr., an entomology researcher in the College of Science at Oregon State University, told Discover News reporters “Aside from physical characteristics of the fossil bacteria that are similar to plague bacteria, their location in the rectum of the flea is known to occur in modern plague bacteria, and in this fossil, the presence of similar bacteria in a dried droplet on the proboscis of the flea is consistent with the method of transmission of plague bacteria by modern fleas.”

In other words, it looks like we’ve got a winner!

Just as the mosquito that started all the trouble in Jurrasic Park, this chunk of amber was pulled from a mine in the Dominican Republic. Is it possible that this bacteria could somehow be revived? It’s not likely. Generally things that have been trapped in rock for 20 million years are going to be pretty dead. However, we have discovered bacteria that can survive in space, so what do we know?

Enlarged photo of flea with arrow pointing to traces of bacteria

The arrow points at bacteria on the proboscis of this flea preserved in amber, which researchers believe may be an ancestral strain of the bacteria that causes bubonic plague.
Photo by George Poinar, Jr., courtesy of Oregon State University [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Another question is could an early form of this plague have been partially responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs about 66 million years ago? Research suggests that the big event was a large asteroid (and that more may be coming). But imagine the double-whammy of terrible disease and an astro-event!Poinar added “If this is an ancient strain of Yersinia, it would be extraordinary. It would show that plague is actually an ancient disease that no doubt was infecting and possibly causing some extinction of animals long before any humans existed. Plague may have played a larger role in the past than we imagined.”Hopefully all of this will remain scientific curiosity and we won’t have some strange event that brings on the zombie apocalypse. Though, it wouldn’t hurt to have a few cans of food and some extra water handy.

 

Saul Ravencraft's signature

 

Read the original Discovery News article.

 


Walking through the woods when you hear this

Imagine you are enjoying a pleasant walk in the woods on Vancouver Island.  Suddenly, the air is pierced by a terrible howl. Your blood runs cold as you try to imagine what it could be. Is that a dog? Is it a man in agony? Is it something unearthly?

Residents of Alert Bay don’t have to imagine. They are experiencing it. Several residents have reporting hearing what some believe are vocalizations from Sasquatch in the area. A young man named Mackenzie Mountain managed to get a recording on his phone. CTV, Vancouver had this video report where you can hear some of the recording.

I have been searching for the original, but have had no luck so far. If anyone has a pointer to it I’d be much obliged.

British Columbia has historically had more sightings of Bigfoot than anywhere else in Canada according to records at the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. (California has the most recorded sightings in the world.) As the news story reported, people have not only heard these calls but they have seen creatures.

Also noted in the video, Vancouver Island does not have the sort of wildlife that is normally given as probable explanations for Bigfoot sightings. There are no bears or other such creatures on the island. It’s also remarkable that something could manage to stay hidden in such a small place. Vancouver Island is less than 3 miles across. This gives some weight to the idea that it could be some sort of inter-dimensional being.

Bigfoot researchers have taken an interest in the sightings and CTV had a follow up story with John Bindernagel who traveled to the area to get his own recordings. (See his web site. We have the Bigfoot cast he shows on his home page in our Museum!) You might be interested in his latest book, The Discovery of the Sasquatch.

Will this lead us closer to answers about Bigfoot? I’m always hopeful. As always, we wait and watch to see. Have you had a Bigfoot encounter? Tell us!

Saul Ravencraft's signature


Creepy shadow appears at noon

George Johnston, a barman in Dartmouth, Devon in England, captured something pretty weird at a corner called Deadman’s Cross. The location, shown here in Google Maps, doesn’t look like much, but at about noon from a perspective across the street this collection of street signs and a light puts out a very disturbing shadow. Here is Johnston’s original picture from Facebook, showing what appears to be  man hanging from a post. What’s even stranger is that this intersection is called Deadman’s Cross because it used to be the sight of executions!

Creepy photo captured by George Johnston (see original post)

Creepy photo captured by George Johnston (see original post)

Obviously, this is just a strange trick of the light combined with pareidolia, our predilection for seeing meaningful patterns. (This has been sited as our reason for seeing people on Mars.) But is something like this really just a coincidence? After all, this picture has generated a lot of interest in this intersection. Perhaps this curiosity will cause someone to dig deeper into the history of these executions and people may be remembered who were otherwise lost to obscurity.

I was able to find little information about the history of Deadman’s Cross, and now I’m interested.

Shadows are fascinating. Several artists have harnessed them in bizarre works of art. Take some time to view this amazing exhibit by Tim Noble and Sue Webster who use light and artistically arranged piles of junk to create haunting images.

And who could forget this famous shadow moment from Nosferatu?

Of course, shadows cannot really harm us. They can only make us remember and imagine. Here’s hoping that you see angels in your shadows today.

Saul Ravencraft's signature


Officer trapped by swarming bees

On Tuesday afternoon (9/29/2015) officers responded to an overturned truck in Garvin County, Oklahoma. This had a difference, though, as the truck was carrying bee hives. You’ve heard of situations when police show up to help at a scene and find those they want to help turning on them? That was the experience of officer Carl Zink who found himself trapped inside his cruiser while thousands of unhappy bees swarmed his vehicle.

What did he do? He did what many of us would do with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. He filmed it on his phone. Here is dramatic video.

Incredibly, Officer Zink was only stung once. Beekeepers showed up to cleanse the vehicle and get the bees safely reorganized.

Were the bees really attacking his truck in anger? Probably not. When bees have trouble with their hive they will swarm. The traffic incident probably put the bees into a defensive mode in the beginning, but very quickly their priority became to find a new home.

image

Swarming bees collect on a tree
Photo by fir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.au [GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons

According to this Washington Post article a swarm of bees can happen under many circumstances. When a hive grows too large the old queen will fly off with a contingent to find a new home and a new queen will be formed in the existing hive. Of course, if the home is threatened the bees will have to swarm to find a new one.

In fact, bee expert Thomas Seeley says that honeybees are at their safest when swarming. He explains that a swarm of bees has no home to defend, they are simply in transition, so they are less likely to be aggressive. If you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you.

If you encounter a warm of bees you should do what they did in Oklahoma. Contact a beekeeper who can deal with them safely. Our bees are currently in decline with a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder. Because of the importance of the bee in agriculture (and much of our other plant life) loss of bees would have a serious impact on our future. Any time you can save a colony of bees you help to maintain and grow that population. Look for a local beekeeper association for help.

Just like our friends, the spiders (who may rain down upon us or build giant creepy webs) bees have a special place on the planet. They may be weird, but they are important.

Saul Ravencraft's signature

 


Mark Twains final work dictated by Ouija board?

Title page of Jap Herron

Title page of Jap Herron

It’s 1917 and there is a deal of controversy about a new book called Jap Herron. Why the controversy? The publishers claimed that the book was written by Mark Twain, dictated through a series of sessions with a Ouija board.  The book can be read in its entirety through the publicdomainreview.org site. This was weird in a number of ways. Twain was one to poke fun at such things. In 1866 he wrote an account of attending a seance in the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise.

Twain’s family was not happy about the book. His daughter Clara sued to halt publication. The woman who published the work, Emily Grant Hutchings, was not interested in a court battle, so she agreed to halt distribution and most copies were destroyed. It is a blessing of the technical world that we can have access to it at all. I hate when any kind of creation is completely destroyed.

While Twain was the most famous, he was not the only author said to reach across the veil and type their works through a planchette. In 1913, a 17th-century woman named Patience Worth, who said she was killed in an Indian raid, began to communicate with Pearl Curran. Shortly after the first sessions, Patience began to dictate poetry, novels, and plays. The link between Pearl and Patience became so strong that they were eventually able to abandon the board and the words just came into Pearl’s mind so she could speak them outright. (Dictating one letter at a time must be grueling!)

The site patienceworth.org contains a large collection of her poems. Her books Hope Trueblood and The Sorry Tale are available to read online. There is also a contemporary book, Patience Worth : a psychic mystery by Casper Yost, that gives you an idea of how this was seen at the time.

Jane Roberts began communicating in 1963 with an entity that identified itself as Seth. Over time they accumulated a good deal of information that was published as The Seth Material. I also found some interesting video on YouTube of Roberts talking about her encounters with Seth. All of this work seems more geared to spiritual teaching rather than literature.

Recently, the band The Mars Volta claimed their album The Bedlam in Goliath was inspired by a Ouija board. This NPR review lets you hear some of the album and considers the Ouija claim. There is also a YouTube video of an interview with Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (WARNING: CONTAINS SOME ADULT LANGUAGE) where he talks about the more troubling aspects of that experience.

If we consider talking boards to be gateways to other worlds and other beings why wouldn’t they want to express themselves? It seems like a great way to keep in touch with one’s public. Of course, who gets the royalties?

If you are in the Austin, Texas area, I will be participating in a special event presented by the Austin Horror Society centered around talking boards. It’s at Sherlock’s pub on Tuesday, October 13th and it’s free! See more on the Facebook event.

Saul Ravencraft's signature


World survives and NASA reports water on Mars

If you are reading this then it means that we all survived the Blood Moon phenomenon on Sunday and we got through 9-28-15 without being sucked into an artificial black hole or anything. Now NASA announces that they have found actual liquid water on Mars. Did you miss it? Here’s the announcement. Don’t worry. It’s short!

So, what does this mean? It means that we don’t always know what we know and we don’t know what we don’t know. Just a few years ago the article A Tale of Planetary Woe was published on NASA’s Science News web site. In it the author says :

“Mars today is bitter cold and bone dry. The rivers and seas are long gone. Its atmosphere is thin and wispy, and if Martian microbes still exist, they’re probably eking out a meager existence somewhere beneath the dusty Martian soil.”

While it’s true that we have not discovered a lush oasis on Mars, we’ve found that it’s a little less desolate. Does that translate into a Martian civilization? Probably not. However, it seems to be a moving target.

In 2009 scientists believed they had identified fossilized bacteria in a meteorite with Martian origins. This suggests that there was some sort of life, if only microscopic, long long ago. However, the idea of liquid water erodes the idea that life “could not exist” on Mars, making it “probably doesn’t exist.” That leap is huge.

This kind of exploration is literally not an exact science. It is finding information, making the best sense of that information with existing knowledge and then digging deeper. I’m very happy to move from “bone dry” to “under certain circumstances, liquid water has been found on Mars.” Now the idea of water can be part of the thinking about Martian exploration. As that thinking adapts the methods for exploring adapt and we’ll find new things because we begin to look for them.

The existence of water certainly changes the views of a manned expedition to Mars (actually considered by 2030). It’s all very exciting news.

Of course, we hope that none of this is disrupted by the actual martians! Remember this guy?

B&W photo showing a shadow of the Mars rover with what appears to be a shadow of a person doing maintenance.

Photo from Mars rover shows what appears to be a human doing something to the machine.

If the Martians do appear, we hope they are wise and wonderful like it Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land.

Saul Ravencraft's signature


Weird world of spirit photos

Photo of a young lady posing in front of a skeleton on display

One of our Museum guests poses with Emily, the haunted skeleton. Alas! No ghosties.

When someone in the Museum seems to have an especially strong connection to Emily, our haunted skeleton, I always try to take a couple of photos of them standing next to her. I take two so that I can see any differences between them. If I was using a proper camera rather than my phone I’d use the automatic feature to take several frames. That way if there is any sort of anomaly such as an orb I have a better chance to catch it.

The idea of photographing ghosts is almost as old as the camera itself. The first reported ghost photo was taken by a man named W. Campbell in 1860. It was a picture of a chair which, when developed, was found to contain the ghostly figure of a boy. Early camera technology was primitive and very long exposures were required to get a good image. Everyone had to remain very still for a minute or so. Any movement or someone stepping in or out of the picture would create a ghostly apparition. Campbell maintained that this was not the case in his photo. (I looked but have not yet found a copy of this image to share.)

1872 photo of a bearded man with a faint figure of a woman

First spirit photo taken in 1872

Photo of Mary Todd Lincoln in black with a ghostly figure of Abraham Lincoln resting his hands on her shoulders

Photo of Mary Todd Lincoln with the apparition of Abraham behind her

However, after the rise of spiritualism, people began trying to capture images of ghosts on camera. The original king of spirit photography is William H Mumler. His first spirit photo shows the apparition of his deceased wife. Mumler became the first one to do portraits of people that contain ghosts. His most famous one is probably the photo he took of Mary Todd Lincoln which shows her husband standing behind her in an apparent gesture of tenderness.

Remember that these were in the days before digital photography and enhancing photos with Photoshop (or the freely available GIMP). Everything had to be done on glass plates. If we assume the Lincoln photo is faked it still shows a remarkable amount of skill!

Others began to do spirit photos. William Hope started his own line of photos in 1905. Here are examples of his work.

Early 1900s photo of several people seated around a table as a ghostly hand reaches up from a mist

A ghostly hand rises up to rap on the table during a seance.

Early 1900s photo of a seated man as squiggles of light surround him

This man appears to be surround by swirling mists of energy.

Early 1900s photo of a famly visiting a deceased man. An apparition peers leans into the picture.

A ghostly photobomb?

A larger collection of Hope’s photos is available for study. Here is another excellent collection of spirit photos from various sources by photographers Jack and Beverly.

Of course, with all of these apparent fakes does that mean that there were no legitimate spirit photographs taken? Before you decide you might want to take a look at this photo gallery from the folks at paranormal.about.com. These are the cream of the crop from many, many submissions that people receive.

We actually have a video, recently received from a guest that shows some unusual activity. We need to mask a child’s face for privacy reasons but the we will share it with you. If you have ghostly photos you have taken, please share them with us! You might be featured in a future blog!

Saul Ravencraft's signature