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Category Archives: cryptozoology

Tina Lynx fourth…

So, I have Returned.

You see what I did there?
What do you mean, “no”?

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You clearly haven’t been paying attention, otherwise you’d be aware that The Returned, spooky, French Twin Peaks-meets-Lost supernatural thriller TV series, was the last link in my continuing chain of questionable continuity, which unspools uncertainly out in front of us today like so;

The Returned, or Les Revenants to give it its original title, is one of an increasing number of foreign language dramas that I watch on TV, (a result of the increase in choice offered by digital TV, or a sad reflection on the British television industry? You decide) another example being twisty Danish political nail-biter Borgen.
Borgen means “Castle” and one of my favourite castles is Castle Drogo on Dartmoor, not far from where my good friend, digital artist and Wicked Spins Radio DJ, Shaun Histed-Todd lives.
I first met Shaun at last year’s Weird Weekend, which I was attending with old friend and cryptozoology nerd, Zippy (Richard Thorns), who was there to give a talk on the Pink Headed Duck.
Zippy’s website is called Which One’s Pink?, a reference to a Pink Floyd lyric.
Pink Floyd recorded Comfortably Numb, which was covered by Scissor Sisters
…and Ana Matronic from Scissor Sisters sang on Jetstream by New Order.

And by staggering coincidence that brings me to my next musical highlight of the year.
I give you, New Order’s collection of unreleased tracks and rarities that someone found in a skip, Lost Sirens.

Enjoy.

Incidentally, if any of you has a particular cultural highlight of the last twelve months which you would like me to attempt to insert into the midst of a future Lynx post, let me know.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Arts, Blogging, cryptozoology, Music, TV

 

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The Duck Man cometh…

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Our Intrepid Hero.

I thought that since Zippy (Richard Thorns) is due to feature in tomorrow’s lavishly linked episode, I’d give you a bit of an update on his intrepid quest for the bird of his dreams.

The Pink Headed Duck, that is.

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A decoy, yesterday -“He went that way”

I first met Zip in the early ’80s when we both did newspaper rounds for competing news agents before school and our routes crossed paths at the same point each day.

We soon discovered a common interest in music, with a few exceptions (we both liked prog rock and heavy metal at the time, but Zip was a Genesis fan, whereas I’d rather gouge my own eardrums out with a rusty spoon than allow Phil bloody Collins to aurally assault my senses) and we also shared a love of daft humour and shows like The Young Ones.
Even now, thirty years later, it takes the merest hint of a suggestion to persuade Zippy to wheel out his faultless Rik impression in all its angst-ridden, haughty glory.

A couple of years after leaving school we reconnected via mutual friends and took up where we left off (he still likes bloody Genesis) and have kept in touch ever since.
When Zip invited me to see him give a talk on his favourite thought-to-be-extinct species at the 2012 Weird Weekend I was really impressed at how passionate and knowledgeable he was on his subject, and since I originally mentioned it I’ve had a number of readers asking for progress reports on his future exploits.

Well I’m happy to report that I secured an interview with the fearless adventurer this very afternoon, and some great photos from his previous trips to boot.

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So to the first question;

What made you choose the Pink Headed Duck over and above other supposedly extinct species?

“Well, it all began in 1998 when I picked up a book on extinct birds on my lunch-break, and if that hadn’t happened that day, I don’t think we’d be having this conversation. There were 3 case histories on extinct birds: the dodo, the great auk and India’s pink-headed duck. I’m the sort of person who gets frustrated if I’m interested in something and then I find there’s something, some knowledge assumed of me within my interest I don’t know about – then I tend to go a bit overboard to catch up. I hadn’t a clue about the pink-headed duck. And just to rub it in, the pink-headed duck’s gorgeous plumage, exotic location and the superb narrative in the book captivated me. It described the British raj, dense, vanished grasslands infested 150 years ago with crocodiles and tigers; shallow, warm lagoons and pools; elephants, pink and white lotus flowers and many birds, the rarest and most prized being the pink-headed duck. That whole lost world grabbed me. Then I learned that the pink-headed duck’s extinction was really very recent, and when that happens you’re sort of in with a chance! So it all led from that one lunch-break. I think India is no longer realistically capable of bringing up a live pink-headed duck although there are a few areas on the eastern borders worth looking at. But by chance Burma, which is largely unexplored and documented has ecosystems that match those vanished ecosystems around Calcutta and eastern India that pink-headed ducks once thrived in. There’s been a fairly credible sighting last year of three birds, and I must say it was enough to re-direct the next expedition from the south-west to the north-west. 

{Told you he knew his stuff}

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I understand your second trip to Burma ended in a bit of a disaster, tell us what happened. 

“Last time there was a lot of political disturbance from the Kachin Independence Organisation, and they were effectively at war with the government, and so there was no way of getting upriver from the town of Bhamo. No boats or foreigners were allowed north of the town. I managed to wangle a few trips up into the wetlands where I wanted to go to, but then the guide told me that my boatman, whom I had used before, was getting very scared because a few villagers had commented that he was taking me upriver, and it only really takes one informer to drop him in it, and then off he goes to gaol for three years or so! So obviously I couldn’t risk that happening, so I called off the trips upriver. They didn’t say anything about bicycles, though! So I hired a bike and cycled a few kilometres upriver parallel to the river, up to where I knew there was a bamboo bridge that led over the river to the wetlands. 
Unfortunately a couple of kids came round the corner on a moped, and their hand-guard hit the back of my left hand at about 35 miles an hour. I knew instantly that most of the bones in my hand were badly smashed, and that turned out to be the case. Then of course there was a bad case of shock setting in; the fact that the police then got involved. I wasn’t in any trouble, but they did want to find the kids, and I was very worried that on my camera were all the pictures of me upriver, including Po-se’s face and pictures of his boat! It was a pretty bad time all round. The nearest big city was Mandalay, which was 300 kms downriver, so I had to get a boat down there. On the boat I suddenly realised that all the people I was speaking to also had THEIR left arms in slings and plaster!
It turned out they were all in the army and had been caught by the rebels and been disabled by being shot in their left arms. They were all off to Mandalay to get fixed up. It was a pretty weird journey downriver.”

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Blimey, I hope your new expedition will be a little less eventful.
I know you have to be discrete about the details for local security reasons, but could you tell us a little about it?

“Well, three pink-headed ducks were allegedly seen last year in the Khamti wetland, so that’s where I’m going because hopefully this is the breakthrough I have been waiting for. 
From the 12th to the 18th January I’ll be exploring, with Ko Lay Win (my guide) the area where the 3 ducks were seen, and floating pink-headed duck decoys to draw in any birds, which you can see pictures of, along with past adventures on my website.
Camping isn’t allowed in Burma, so I’ll be staying in people’s villages along the Chindwin river.”

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Finally, what would you hope to be the result, should you manage to locate a live specimen of the Pink Headed Duck?

“Well, if the pink-headed duck does show up in Burma it will likely be critically endangered at best, and on the edge of extinction for real, this time! So I plan to give the co-ordinates to BirdLife International prior to the announcement, which will be big news. Of course, the only photo of a living pink-headed duck could possibly I guess pay off my mortgage, but it’s really not about that. It’s about changing history and I suppose we all want deep down to be remembered for something; to be thought of as having made a difference, I suppose.”

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3 Comments

Posted by on December 12, 2013 in cryptozoology, Guest spots., Photography, Travel

 

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Running commentary…

The more time I’ve spent writing Diary of an Internet Nobody, the more I’ve come to appreciate how important the part of comments is in helping to keep the stream of ideas flowing.

Since it appears to be the month for celebrating milestones – 15,000 hits, 200 followers – it’s also worth me taking a minute to congratulate you, my esteemed followership, on the fact that over 1000 comments have now been registered on the blog, (although I should point out, that does include my replies) and I’m grateful for each and every one.
I even had my very own troll for a while, but he seems to have crept back under his bridge of late.

Trolls aside, if it wasn’t for the opinions, advice and thought-provoking discussions that have begun in that little square box at the bottom of each post, many of the actual posts might not have been written in the first place.
Quite apart from the direct contributions so to speak, from old friends Oliver, who gave a personal account of a trip to Reading Festival in this post and Zippy, (Richard Thorns) who has added his own inimitable take on two separate stories which you can find at the top of the homepage, along with links to their sister posts.

[In related news, Zip’s passion for cryptozoology continues unabated and you can watch the video about his latest expedition to locate the fabled Pink Headed Duck right here…]

I have actually been congratulated by a writer I rate very highly (not without some degree of envy, I’m pleased to note) on the quality of the comments on the blog, and on the articulate calibre of my readers, so you should consider yourselves suitably flattered.

Both Bully for me… and Foot in mouth disease… were inspired by conversations I had elsewhere on the hard shoulder of one information superhighway or another.
While the time reading and commenting on other bloggers’ posts is time well spent, not just for the welcome reciprocal traffic this generates, but also for the chance to get involved in exchanges with like-minded people on subjects as diverse as the posts we all read.

The trouble is, if I see a good blog I automatically follow it. Likewise, if someone follows Diary of an Internet Nobody I’ll generally follow back, (although I’m starting to learn my lesson now, after getting spammed by various, deeply spurious, get rich quick schemes) which means I now have so many blogs to read that if I commented on them all, I’d need three of me just to give me time to write.

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And I like to leave a comment with a bit of thought behind it if I can, whether it’s just to join in with Adam, bashing the numpty-du-jour at A World Of Pain, trying my best to interpret the enigmatic art of Windhound over at Dragonshades, enjoying the eclectic mix of photography, video, reviews and comment in Emilie Rosson’s world, having an exchange of cultural views with Ron, flamboyant host of Vent or making terrible puns on Toemail.

But nothing beats the feeling you get when something you wrote generates enough interest or emotion in someone that they take the time to leave a thoughtful, well written comment.
These freely offered contributions act as additional insights into the subject of the original post, providing other readers with another point of view and sometimes even lead to cooperation and collaboration between bloggers.
Just this morning, turning my phone on to finish writing this post, I’ve commented on three blogs one of which, Tim Love’s blog is completely new to me, a recommendation from a fellow blogger.

Another problem I’ve had recently is trying to navigate the desktop site of the mobile-unfriendly but otherwise excellent BlogCatalog.com, so I’m going to find the blogs I follow on there which I can’t get through my WordPress Reader and follow them by email instead. That way I don’t need to spend hours trawling through dozens of microscopic notifications to find links to the latest pearls of wisdom from Rum Punch Drunk, to see the latest artistic offerings from the lovely Carol over at Anfinsen Fine Art or to catch the newest batch of scantily clad female fantasy warriors and/or poodle-haired ’80s rock drongos from the Assorted Thoughts of Big D’s Unsorted Mind.
And while we’re on the subject, Hey BlogCatalog, can we have an Android app please?
Thanks.

So thanks again for your help in making my blog what it is today. Because without all those wonderful interactions with all you other writers, readers and ranters to keep my neurons firing, what would I find to talk about?
And thank you once again to Ho, for his latest bespoke blog-toon.
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Rest assured, this will be the final burst of barely-disguised, self-congratulatory own trumpet blowing (for a while at least) but I am inordinately proud of my foray into the world of blogging and I’m not modest enough to care who knows it.
In fact, not since my days as a teenage theatre nerd have I been able to look at a body of creative work and said to myself “I/we did that from scratch and people like it”

And I like that.

 

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The Weird Weird West…

What’s the connection between giant bird eating spiders, astrophysicists, ancient technologically advanced civilisations, prog rock pioneers, and near death experiences?

Give up?

Well, they were all on the agenda at this year’s Weird Weekend at Woolfardisworthy in Devon, once again held at the fabulous Community Hall, comprising an auditorium, exhibition hall, canteen, social club and bar, and sports fields on which camping was allowed for the duration of the event.

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Our genial host, Jonathan Downes, by Thomas E Finley

I arrived for my second annual dose of anomalous apparitions and fantastical flora and fauna on Friday afternoon, to bright sunshine and blue skies over the campsite.
I assembled my cobbled together  tent/tarpaulin porch accommodation and went in search of fellow Weirdies.

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Paranormal Panoramic campsite. photo – Paul James Pearson

I had already arranged to meet digital artist, photographer, and Wicked Spins Radio DJ, Shaun Histed-Todd and his family. I first met them at last year’s event and Elaine and I have since become good friends with them and visited them on beautiful Dartmoor on more than one occasion in the intervening twelve months.
This year Shaun was to give a talk on Saturday evening on The Evidence for Civilisation X, exploring the case for societies with advanced technologies that may be lost to history.

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But first it was time to watch the predictably eccentric introductory film from Weird Weekend co-founder Richard Freeman.

…followed by his alter-ego, self confessed “bad nightclub comedian” Barry Tadcaster, and surreal glove puppet sidekick, introducing Richard Ingram’s lecture on The search for inhabitable planets.

Despite being slightly hampered by the A/V set up misbehaving, I found his talk very interesting and when I cornered him outside the auditorium to tell him so, he suggested we go for in the bar for a drink and a chat.
There followed the sort of conversation that I found myself getting used to in the company of such an eclectic collection of wildly theorising and intellectual people. It began with a discussion on the – currently partially broken – Kepler space telescope and how it might be fixed, and somehow managed to take in Mark Twain, Shakespeare, and West Side Story by the time we were done.
A truly fascinating man with an incredible breadth of knowledge on so many subjects that it was an education just talking to him.

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It’s amazing the variety of topics and range of expertise you can get exposed to in the space of a couple of hours in a bar full of Weird Weekenders.
At one point I was in conversation with big cat expert Jonathan McGowan and all round science brainiac Dan Holdsworth, and discovered the following interesting facts:

Dan – A man whose car broke down on a remote African road known for lion activity had to walk some distance to get help. Knowing (as you do) that lions don’t like the smell of petrol, he took a can with him and whenever approached by curious feline beasts, sloshed the stuff liberally over himself. When he got to the nearest town he was apparently trailed by a whole gang of hungry lions who couldn’t quite bring themselves to overcome the smell and eat him.

Jonathan – Ah, but not so with leopards, who actively seek out the pungent aroma of hydrocarbons.  They are actually known to have been caught licking the sides of land rovers under the petrol cap because the smell is reminiscent of the musk of females.

Now, where else could you find that out in a social club bar?

By the end of the evening the sky was still full of stars and a decidedly eldritch moon was peering out from behind the wispy clouds.

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Having been up since 5 a.m. I crawled into my tent with a feeling of pleasant exhaustion, only to be kept awake by drunken laughter from outside the bar and then woken at seven on Saturday morning by the hall’s alarm system unaccountably going off for half an hour.

Oh well, a whole new day of strangeness ahead and nobody had even mentioned the words “flying snakes” yet.
Things were looking up.

It really is a testament to the relaxed attitude and good humour of these extraordinarily clever people, that they would still cheerfully accept me back into their collective bosom for a second year running despite the fact that all I did last year was take the piss and ask awkward questions.

However, this year I was prepared to tone down the sarcasm and cynicism for the sake of cordial relations with the assembled intelligentsia, but it seemed as though there were other non-believers in attendance with whom I could vent my skeptical opinions.
And, to be honest, the speakers,  enthusiasts, exhibitors and organisers at the event are such lovely people that it seems churlish to make fun of them too much.
Indeed, I thoroughly enjoyed all the talks that I attended, including that given by my friend Shaun.

His lecture on lost technologies of ancient civilisations was highly thought provoking and made some startling comparisons between the iconography and known locations of various races from the Egyptians and Olmecs to the Mayans and Aztecs.
I’m told that all this year’s talks will eventually be up on the Weird Weekend website, so check back regularly to see what you’ve been missing all these years.
The final talk that I planned to see was one that I was to be given by a speaker I was most intrigued to meet.

A few years ago I was given a double CD concept album called Curly’s Airships by a man who was a founder of ’70s prog rock pioneers Van de Graff Generator called Judge Smith (that is to say he recorded it, not gave it to me)
This extraordinary piece of work also featured ex-members of various prog and punk groups, and is about the R101 disaster.

It has to be heard to be believed.

Anyway, I had noticed that a man with the same unusual name was speaking on Saturday evening and not long before he was due to start, I bumped into him in the bar:
Me – Excuse me, are you Judge Smith?
J.S. – (beaming, pleased,charming) Yes.
Me – Wow, you’re responsible for Curly’s Airships aren’t you?
J.S. – (looking even more pleased) Yes, that’s right
Me – What an extraordinary piece of work, sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard before. And you were in Van De Graff Generator. (adopts Wayne’s World style “not worthy” pose)
(J.S.‘s girlfriend bursts out laughing and got me to do it again so she could photograph it)

And five minutes later, he proceeded to give an absorbing talk on life after death.
He even fielded my slightly cheeky question about the lack of negative messages from séances with good humour;
J.S. – Maybe the negative people get sent somewhere else from where they can’t answer.
Me – You mean that grumpiness can get you sent to Hell?

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Here come the Judge.

And that, bar the Saturday night socialising, was my Weird Weekend 2013. I didn’t have time for the Sunday session, so I said my grateful goodbyes and made the journey home, already looking forward to next year.

Talking of gratitude, I’d like to do a few thank yous –

To Jon Downes, Richard Freeman, Nichola Sullings and all at the CFZ, for organising the excellent event.
To Jonathan McGowan, Richard Ingram and Dan Holdsworth, for telling me all sorts of amazing stuff
To Nadia, for proving that Germans can be funny and charming.  (What do you mean I can’t say that?)
And to Paul for being a brother in skepticism and for additional photography.
And finally to the staff of the Community Hall and social club. (When I walked in on Friday, I was met by the barman, Mick – who I met for the one and only other time exactly a year ago – “Oh hello, back again? Pint of Thatchers was it?

Now that’s service.

 

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Return to odd…

Day two, and a good start with a hot shower and a bacon roll from the volunteer-run kitchen.
After a coffee, it was time to go meet the bugs.

This turned out to be one of my favourite parts of the weekend. Nick Wadham was there with his Bugfest, and you can see his talk from last years event here.

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Me, holding a giant millipede…

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…and me with “Mario”.

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Didn’t I see one of these on Star Trek?

Next up, a talk on Large Cats in Britain by Jonathan McGowanwhich was very interesting, and I shall certainly be more observant around the countryside, looking for signs of their passage through the undergrowth.

I have to admit to spending quite a lot of the rest of the afternoon in the bar, arguing with chatting to some of the more fervent believers in the more outlandish theories.
All in all, I found everyone I met there, including all the volunteers at the Woolfardisworthy Community Centre, extremely pleasant company, and in the case of the “Crypties” – as they’ve almost certainly never been called – put up with my arguments and gentle piss-taking with admirable restraint.

The rest of the evening was spent socialising with my new friends, congratulating Zippy on receiving the Golden Baboon Award for his contribution. (I’m not joking)

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This morning the sun came out for the first time all weekend, so I sat outside on the patio with some people I had been chatting to last night, including digital artist, photographer, and internet radio DJ, Shaun Histed-Todd, whose work you can check out here or on his Facebook page.

After that it was time to say my goodbyes to the Weird Weekend 2012, with promises to go back next year.
And I shall, because it really was a lot of fun.
And the people are lovely.

If slightly mad.

 
 

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The Odd Squad…

Have you ever found yourself amongst a group of very agreeable people who all have similar beliefs that you do not share?
The sort of harmless, mainly inoffensive people that are too easy a target to make it any fun making fun of them?
No? Me neither, usually.

This was the situation I had assumed that I would find myself in for the last few days, as I have been attending the annual Weird Weekend, hosted by the Centre for Fortean Zoology in Woolfardisworthy, North Devon.

I was to be pleasantly surprised.

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Abandon cynicism all ye who enter here.

This is the annual pilgrimage for all those interested in phenomenon such as yetis, ufos, ghosts, crop circles, sea serpents, and even some real animals that have previously been thought extinct, or live in unusual environments.

I had been informed that the event was taking place in a community centre, which brought to mind images of a cold breezeblock structure with hard wooden chairs.
However, when I arrived, what I discovered was Woolsery Sports and Community Centre, a large timber structure with green credentials – wind turbine and solar panels for electricity, underground geothermal heat pump for heating – incorporating a sports / lecture hall, exhibition space, kitchens and canteen, showers, and a social club bar!
This was an improvement already.

I was camping for the weekend, in the field behind the hall, and in contrast to my recent Glamping experience, this time I was roughing it in my car.

Still, no reason to be uncomfortable, so I rigged up an outdoor veranda too.

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Chez moi.

I was there, primarily, to support my good friend and ex-flatmate Zippy (Richard Thorns), who was to give a lecture on his specialist subject, the Pink Headed Duck, on Friday night.
And, up until now, that was the only reason that I would have chosen to spend the weekend with the sort of people who think nothing of starting a conversation with “Did you see my article about the flying snake of Namibia?”

Speaking of snakes and serpents, the first lecture was from Richard Freeman; “20 cryptids you have never heard of” describing a bewildering selection of giant reptiles, unremarkable birds, and frankly terrifying monster killer worms that apparently “explode if you poke them with a stick”.

After a fairly lengthy break in the exceedingly comfortable bar, chatting to a number of fellow attendees and other speakers, it was time for Zippy’s moment of glory.
He took to the floor of the auditorium with all the confidence of a man with all his ducks in a row, so to speak, and delivered a genuinely absorbing and assured talk on his trips to Burma, alone, in the search for his elusive quarry. His amiable delivery, and obvious knowledge off his subject, plus his ability to answer questions afterwards, impressed the crowd and organizers alike.

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All the world is Zippy’s stage.

Jonathon Downes even made a special point of congratulating him on his exploits, and asked him to come back after his next expedition.

Zip was delighted with all the attention in the bar afterwards, and even got booked to do a radio interview on Saturday morning.

After another pleasant hour or two in the bar, I retired to my car for a surprisingly good nights sleep.

Tomorrow was to be another day of weirdness…

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8 Comments

Posted by on August 19, 2012 in cryptozoology, Personal anecdote

 

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