Werewolf of London

Late night tomfoolery with a werewolf mask, a fleece-lined robe, and a pretty cool song…

 

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21 bottles of Djinn on the wall

No one quite knew why, but 22 year old Siti Baqis just wouldn’t sit still.  It seems that every time her parents looked away she would disappear, only to be found later in a graveyard, a cement mixer, or a variety of other strange places.  Supernatural forces were blamed.  After plunking down a bunch of cash to over 100 shaman and getting no positive results, two other local shamans heard of the family’s plight and decided to offer their services for free.

The shamans showed up and began to pray and chant, both inside and outside the residence.  At this point, and apparently in direct response to this mystical practice, a figure was seen darting away from the location.  Luckily, it was captured.  Turns out it was a djinn!

Djinn are shapeshifting supernatural creatures from Arab and Islamic folklore said to be made up of smokeless flame or “the fire of a scorching wind.”  Whatever the hell that means.  Before their work was done, the shamans had captured 9 djinn in all.  In bottles and jars, no less!

 

Fact: posting pics of Djinn on Twitter gets you more followers

 

 

Wheew.  Problem solved, right?

Wrong.

No sooner had our heroic shamans left when ol’ Siti was back up to her old tricks, disappearing and such; this time to a cave 15 kilometers from her home.  She sent her mother a text to let her know where she was at.  I’m not kidding.  On her way home she was mysteriously whisked into a tree.  Again, like a good girl, she sent her mom a text.  Wouldn’t want her to think she was out drinking with boys.

So back came our humble shamans to do battle once again.  Apparently the first time around they missed a few malevolent entities, because they’ve captured 12 more djinn now.  That’s 21 djinn in all.

Blackjack!

 

Wanna play spin the bottle?

 

Surely, the final word on this story has not been written.  We’ll keep our eyes peeled for further developments.  But wouldn’t it be terrific if we could get text alerts to notify us of the breaking news?

Real Monsters: A Book Review

My name is Jason Korbus.  I am 30 years old, have been interested in the paranormal as long as I can remember, and even host an internet radio show in my spare time.  But I’ve never been afraid of monsters until I read Brad Steiger’s new book.

Aptly titled, “Real Monsters, Gruesome Critters, and Beasts From the Darkside,” starts with a very simple premise.  Based on a 2001 study conducted by researchers at Cal State, we have a pretty good idea of the movies and monsters that have scared people over time.  But if regular people are scared of The Exorcist, Dracula, and Godzilla, what are paranormal researchers scared of?  The answer runs the gamut from Bigfoot and Mothman to Werewolves and the Dover Demon, with a seemingly endless variety of horrifying creatures in between.  And it is that scare factor which makes Steiger’s newest book both a thrill-a-minute page turner, and among the most terrifying things I have ever read.

If you dare, read true witness accounts of Big Cats, a phenomena of a Fortean variety which finds the large felines stalking prey in Iowa, and other locations across the globe where they simply do not belong.  Black Dogs as well, who some say foretell disaster, make an eerie appearance.  Perhaps nothing may be more paralyzing than staring into the glowing eyes of one of these beasts, particularly when one has found their way into your very own backyard.

Steiger also moves into the lore of the Bogeyman, though, not one to write about childish fantasies, horrifies you by uncovering the origin of the term.  Then, before you know it, sweeps you into a whirlwind of first-person ghastly encounters with these bizarre entities that leave you breathless and nearly afraid to blink your eyes for fear of what you may miss.  Is that noise outside your bedroom door just the house settling as you’ve always believed?  Or is something much more sinister stalking you from beyond our realm?

What makes Steiger such a treasured author and this book a personal bookshelf necessity is its sheer volume of resources.  The astounding amount of information included about all the creatures, particularly zombies, vampires, and even UFO abductors, could easily cause someone to buy multiple books on each topic just to find it all.  But “Real Monsters, Gruesome Critters, and Beasts From the Darkside,” provides it for you in a veritable “one stop shop” of all things morbid and grotesque that lurk in the dark corners of our mind, and in the shadows just around the corner.

Yes, my name is Jason Korbus.  I am 30 years old, have been interested in the paranormal as long as I can remember, and even host an internet radio show in my spare time.  And though Brad Steiger may have made me scared of monsters, you and I both know they aren’t real, right?  ….Right?

 

2010 Mothman Festival: An Interview With Jeff Wamsley

The Mothman Festival, which takes place annually in Point Pleasant, WV is just around the corner.  Celebrating the local paranormal legend it draws its name from, The Mothman Festival will kick off it’s 9th installment Saturday September 18 and run through the 19th.  I had the chance to catch up with Jeff Wamsley, the driving force behind this event, to get his thoughts on this year’s festival, as well as the sightings that sparked it all.

“I was born and raised here in Point Pleasant.  I was 5 years old when the sightings started,” Jeff says.  “We lived a few doors away from (original witness) Linda Scarberry, so as I grew older and saw books like John Keel’s “The Mothman Prophecies,” I realized that this stuff all happened real close by.”

What happened was the Mothman, and it is among the most talked about stories among paranormal enthusiasts.  For those that don’t know much about it, Jeff recounts the details:  “Point Pleasant first saw this thing on November 15th 1966 up in the TNT area.  Two young couples saw it.  7 feet tall, giant wings and glowing red eyes.  From there on out over 100 reported sightings were filed; tons of UFOs too.”

But the intrigue didn’t stop there.  In the wake of these sightings, more strange things started happening.  According to Mr. Wamsley, “many Mothman and UFO witnesses were approached by strange looking men dressed in black who warned and threatened them about speaking to the press, newspapers and media.  Many witnesses were intimidated into keeping quiet, and some are still silent to this day.”  Unfortunately, Jeff himself has had no luck getting them to open up either.  “Believe me, I have tried to get them to sit down with me and talk about what they saw.  Not going to happen.”

Jeff is aware as anyone that the story of Mothman can sound a little far fetched, and understands why some might be skeptical of it.  But, as he puts it, skeptics are just a part of the story.  “It would be hard to believe this stuff unless you had encountered it or spoke to people who did and I have.  These people are not professional liars by any means.  Too many people saw it and described it the same way.”

Aside from growing up in the area, Mr. Wamsley operates the world’s one and only Mothman Museum.  It is here that folks come to check out props from the film John Keel’s book inspired, as well as grab a souvenir or two, be they books, pins, t-shirts and more.  Simply put, the story of Mothman, as well as his hometown, are important to him.

“Not every small town like Point Pleasant has its own monster,” Jeff jokes.  “The festival was started almost 10 years ago to get some folks to visit Main Street.  Now there is nowhere to park during the festival.  I really feel I owe my hometown something.  It was a great place to grow up.  It just happened to also be the home to UFOs, Men in Black, and giant things that flew around.”

If you are interested in heading to Point Pleasant for the Mothman Festival this year, Jeff says you can expect plenty.  “Lots of people, food, guest speakers, vendors, live bands, hayrides, bus tours.  We try to bring something new each year.  It’s just a big family reunion for all who come each year.  Its always good to see old friends who like to hunt for Mothman.”

Myself, as well as my friends and fellow co-hosts on Strange Frequencies Radio, Bobby Nelson and Robyn McKinney, will be back again this year and look forward to enjoying the festivities.  Maybe we’ll see you there!

For more information about the Mothman Festival, including speakers as well as restaurants and accommodations you might want to check out in the area, please visit www.mothmanfestival.com

Are Television Shows Destroying the Paranormal Field?

I write today not just to give my opinion, but to honestly seek out and understand yours. The paranormal community has enough blowhards in it, wouldn’t you agree? One thing I feel is missing is a concerted effort to find out why our beliefs are the way they are. People are always going to disagree; about the paranormal and just about everything else, and that’s okay. But it has become increasingly rare these days to try and find out how and why we disagree. So, let us begin. And remember to leave your comments in the designated section below. This is meant as a topic for discussion, after all.

Today’s topic: Are television shows destroying the paranormal?

A common sentiment among those in the paranormal community is that certain television shows (ie: Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State, Extreme Paranormal, Paranormal Cops, etc.) are “destroying the field.” While I would certainly agree that they are rife with fakery, fill the heads of the believers with common misconceptions, and generally teach the enthusiasts among us improper scientific investigation techniques, I would hesitate to say that they destroy the “field” or the community.

Why? Because in order to destroy something, you infer that the victim was once a healthy or viable commodity. It is my opinion that the paranormal was not, is not, and will likely not be healthy or viable anytime in the near future.

Perhaps this sounds cynical and, if so, I apologize. I assure you it is not my intent. I am simply stating how I feel. My opinions are, however, based on evidence. Simply put, there has been no time in the history of the paranormal where investigators have found a shred of proof for any of the claims we insist today are true. We swear ghosts are the spirits of the dead, that EVP are the voices of the dead, and that fluctuations in EMF indicate the presence of the dead. But since we still have little information on what consciousness is, much less whether or not it can survive bodily death (or even exist outside a body) our “theories” are little more than objects of faith – belief based on no evidence.

And, not only that, but it could be argued that, as a community, we are as silly, if not more so, than we were more than 150 years ago. Throughout paranormal history, well respected psychical researchers were using “scientific testing” and concluding that horses were psychic. Some of the most prominent chemists and psychologists of our time were convinced by simple charlatans that the dead could not only speak through them, but that they could play trumpets and materialize themselves via ectoplasmic means through the vagina of the medium! And yes, these are true stories.

Couple that with today’s “investigators” who contend that the best ghost research takes place in darkened rooms, that photographs of dust and bugs are proof of intelligent hauntings, and that the dead can speak through broken radios. It is utter madness! So, pray tell, when exactly was the paranormal community in such good shape that a television show destroyed it?

No, I’m sorry. The television shows aren’t “destroying the field.” I’ll agree that they certainly help to keep it in its doldrums, but they are doing far less to destroy anything than the community of faith-based believers have done all on their own.

Thanks for reading. Now, please, tell me what you think in the comments section.

Hemispheres and Toilet Drains

One of my favorite things to read about is so-called “mythinformation.”  That is, commonly held beliefs that are actually false.  It is the subject of this blog, after all.  While I  thoroughly enjoy reading new pieces of information that fit into this category, I get an even greater joy out of discovering something that I myself have long believed that is actually not true.  Today’s topic covers one such instance.

How many of you reading this have heard of the Coriolis force, or Coriolis effect?*  It’s okay if you haven’t.  Up until a relatively short time ago I hadn’t either.  Though you may not recognize the scientific sounding names, you’ll probably be familiar with the effect they are said to create.

First, a definition.  The Coriolis force, according to the Oxford American Dictionary, is “an effect whereby a mass moving in a rotating system experiences a force (the Coriolis force) acting perpendicular to the direction of motion and to the axis of rotation.”  It continues, “On the earth, the effect tends to deflect moving objects to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern…”

While this force is important in the formation of cyclonic weather systems, it is also pointed to as the cause for toilet and sink drains in the Southern Hemisphere draining clockwise, while drains in the Northern Hemisphere spiral counter-clockwise.

The problem?  That is simply not true!  It’s a classic case of mythinformation.  The truth is the Coriolis effect has nothing to do with how sinks and toilets drain because the direction water spirals down in sinks and toilets is determined not by gravitational pulls, what Hemisphere you happen to live on, or anything of the sort.  Instead, it is determined by plain old ordinary structural conditions.

In their textbook, “The Atmosphere:  An Introduction to Meteorology,” authors Lutgens, Tarbuck, and Tasa (2006) write, “…a cyclone is more than 1000 kilometers in diameter and may exist for several days.  By contrast, a typical sink is less than a meter in diameter and drains in a matter of seconds.  On this scale, the Coriolis effect is miniscule.”  It’s the shape and how level your sink, toilet, etc. is that causes the direction of the water drainage, not your position on the globe!**

I thought about this myself and concluded that, if this is true, the sinks and toilets in my house might just drain differently from one another.  And, if they did, the idea of water drainage being affected by the Coriolis force would be, well, flushed right down the drain.

So, that’s exactly what I did and, wouldn’t you know it, that is precisely what happened.  I filled two sinks and flushed two toilets.  While the toilets each flushed in a counter-clockwise spiral, the sinks did the exact opposite; draining in a clockwise manner.  How foolish of me that, for years, I believed in the effect of the Hemispheres on our drains while concrete evidence to the contrary was there in front of me all along.  But, at the same time, how satisfying to know the truth!

It is the moment of enlightenment that I had myself regarding this issue that I hope to bring to you with some of the posts on this blog from time to time.  A simple instance of time where you stop and realize, “Everything I thought I knew was wrong…and it’s awesome!”  If you’re anything like me you’ll sit quietly for a moment, smile, and think, “Science sure is amazing.”

And guess what?  You’d be right.

REFERENCES:

http://www.snopes.com/science/coriolis.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriolis_effect

Christopher Columbus and the Round Earth

When I’ve asked people who it was the figured out the Earth is round, I’ve gotten a few different answers.  Some have said Galileo.  Others, still, think it was Magellan.  But the answer I get most frequently; indeed, the one that seems to be the most commonly held belief, is that it was another explorer; perhaps the most famous of them all: Christopher Columbus.*

Doing a quick Google search, the reasons for this answer seem to fall along a pretty straightforward path:  Columbus proved the Earth was round when he didn’t fall off of it during his journey to the New World.*  But the truth is that Columbus knew the world was round because it had been pretty common knowledge for well over a thousand years by that point.

In fact, many men who lived long before Columbus had used various ways to prove the Earth was round.  Famed philosophers and mathematicians, like Pythagoras and Aristotle, for instance, had made observations to this effect years before even Christ is said to have been born; in some cases many hundreds of years beforehand!*

The interesting thing is where exactly this myth came from:  a work by one of our most famous American storytellers, Washington Irving!  Irving, of course, is noteworthy for having written such classics of literature as “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”  But it was his biographical account of Columbus, “A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus,” published in 1828, that the myth seems to have first appeared.  Before this time, writes Jeffrey Burton Russell, historian and religious studies scholar, no one believed that medieval people thought the Earth was flat.*

In “The Myth of the Flat Earth,” a paper which summarizes his book, “Inventing the Flat Earth:  Columbus and Modern Historians,” Russell writes that “This vast web of falsehood was invented and (then) propagated by the influential historian John Draper (1811-1882) and many prestigious followers, such as Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918), the president of Cornell University, who made sure that the false account was perpetrated in texts, encyclopedias, and even allegedly serious scholarship, down to the present day.”

Surely, a true testament of the power of the media to not only entertain, but also to deceive.

REFERENCES:

http://www.yesnet.yk.ca/schools/projects/renaissance/columbus.html

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060815201048AAsSEbs

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spherical_Earth

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/topics/history/1997Russell.html