Archive for April, 2008

Giant squid being thawed out for study

I’ve been on the folkloric monster series and it’s interesting that not that long ago many scientists discounted sailors’ tales of colossal sized squids as folklore. Now New Zealand scientists are defrosting one captured last year for further study. From Associated Press:

Marine scientists in New Zealand on Tuesday were thawing the corpse of the largest squid ever caught to try to unlock the secrets of one of the ocean’s most mysterious beasts.

No one has ever seen a living, grown colossal squid in its natural deep ocean habitat, and scientists hope their examination of the 1,089-pound, 26-foot long colossal squid, set to begin Wednesday, will help determine how the creatures live. The thawing and examination are being broadcast live on the Internet.

The squid, which was caught accidentally by fishermen last year, was removed from its freezer Monday and put into a tank filled with saline solution. Ice was added to the tank Tuesday to slow the thawing process so the outer flesh wouldn’t rot, said Carol Diebel, director of natural environment at New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa.


Fishermen off the coast of Antarctica accidentally netted the squid in February 2007 while catching Patagonian toothfish, which are sold under the name Chilean sea bass.

The squid was eating a hooked toothfish when it was hauled from the deep. Recognizing it as a rare find, the fishermen froze the squid on their vessel to preserve it. The national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, later took possession of it.


Continuing the folkloric monster series, the Japanese Nue had a head like a monkey, the body of a dog, the legs of a tiger and the tail of a snake, according to the wikipedia. They could transform into a cloud-like state and fly and they brought misfortune to people.

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“Taiba” by Kuniyoshi Utagawa (1852).

Images of colliding galaxies

So what kind of accident rate coverage do colliding galaxies have?

Pubs dying in rural Ireland

The horror! From The Washington Post:

CONNOLLY, Ireland — For generations, Carney’s, the only pub in this tiny village in western Ireland, had been the place to strike up a romance, celebrate a birth or mourn a death — or just sip a pint of Guinness among friends near a warm fire on a damp day.

So when Carney’s shut down last year after more than a century in business, Teresa Tuttle, 62, took it hard. “Where can we go after a funeral? After work? Where would we all meet?” she recalled thinking, shaking her head in her kitchen, not far from the pub.

The “closed” sign abruptly posted on Carney’s door — and on the doors of 1,000 rural Irish pubs in the past three years — was another sign of the profound lifestyle changes that have accompanied the country’s dizzying rise to affluence.

“It was like a sudden death in the family,” said Anthony Scanlan, 51, a farmer who lives near Carney’s. “Everything has changed in Ireland. It’s as fast as New York around here.”

Ireland’s economic success has come at a terrible price – for public houses, at least.

My face feels numb

A while back I had some serious back trouble. Turns out degenerative disks in my lower spine. One of the things my neurosurgeon recommended was to drink a glass or two of wine or beer or a shot of whiskey (he didn’t actually mention whiskey but I figured, you know) so my muscles wouldn’t be tense and compress my disks. Every time I went to the doctor for my back, my blood pressure was up. The doctor figured it was the pain and gave me more pain pills. Then after physical therapy helped cure my back woes it turned out I actually had high blood pressure. One of the things the cardiologist recommended to help lower my blood pressure and cholesteral was to drink a glass or two of wine.
Now usually I’ll drink a glass of beer. sometimes wine. Sometimes a shot. But this week really really sucked so I drank a bottle of wine that’s been in the back of the fridge for a while. I was out of beer. Usually I drink the 7 ounce bottles of something. Wooooo….

I can’t believe I’m typing this well. I haven’t been this tipsy in a long time. There was something I wanted to say, but I can’t remember it. Any way, don’t drink and blog. But I love you guys. No really.

I remember, Denzel Washington is really good in The Fallen. It’s on. Goodnight.

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Beast of Gévaudan

Continuing the folkloric monster series:

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The Beast of Gévaudan, from Wikipedia:

The Beast of Gévaudan (French: La bête du Gévaudan) was a mysterious wolf-like creature that terrorised the former province of Gévaudan (modern day Lozère département), in the Margeride Mountains in south-central France from about 1764 to 1767. Many attacks took place – between 60 and 123 humans were killed – and debate continues as to the Beast’s true identity. [1] The story is a popular subject for cryptozoologists and conspiracy theorists.


The Beast was described as being a wolflike creature the size of a cow, with a wide chest, a long sinuous tail with a lion-like tuft of fur on the end, and a greyhound-like head with small straight ears and large protruding fangs. The creature was said to have red fur, and a peculiar black stripe that ran down the length of its back.

Sounds a bit like my dog Lucy, except she’s not eaten any humans (that I know of).

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Friday vampire dance party

Vanessa Daou: Two to Tango

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When life sucks more than vampires

Even the published vampire authors have it hard. Jemiah Jefferson, author of A Drop of Scarlet and other vampire novels:

Sorry, everybody. I’m just barely holding it together. I haven’t written anything in days and I’m starting to lose my mind – no, I’ve lost it. More than anything it’s that bleak terror of feeling like I’m never going to write again. Not true, but… man, general 21-Century American life is not conducive to the writing life.


Anyway, I will NOT be attending this year’s Vampires Masquerade Ball, because I am too poor to be able to look good enough to get in the door (I’m sure that’s not what the organizers of the event mean to convey, but seriously, of COURSE it’s a status contest). I will NOT be attenting World Horror Convention. I will NOT be going to Book Expo. I will NOT be going to see Duran Duran play in Seattle.

I live on the cusp of poverty, and the only way out is hard, extensive work. So I’m going to get on it.

Now I’m even more depressed.

Still, she’s not giving up and I’ve always been terrible at quitting.

Although there’s a lot of reasons to be depressed.


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“Nachtmahr” by Johann Heinrich Füssli (1802).

This painting of an alp sitting on a sleeper’s chest kicks off a folkloric monster series.

‘Lynchings in Congo as penis theft panic hits capital’

That’s the actual headline to this Reuters story:

Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men’s penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.

Rumours of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo’s sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants. They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.

Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure.

“You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We’ve had a number of attempted lynchings. … You see them covered in marks after being beaten,” Kinshasa’s police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Police arrested the accused sorcerers and their victims in an effort to avoid the sort of bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade ago, when 12 suspected penis snatchers were beaten to death by angry mobs. The 27 men have since been released.

“I’m tempted to say it’s one huge joke,” Oleko said.

“But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it’s become tiny or that they’ve become impotent. To that I tell them, ‘How do you know if you haven’t gone home and tried it’,” he said.

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