- The tale of Gef, the talking mongoose, is by far one of the weirdest and stupidest incidents in the history of the paranormal. In the summer of 1931, a remote farmhouse on the Isle of Man was invaded by what initially seemed to be a pest animal. James Irving, who lived in the farmhouse with his wife and precocious 13-year-old daughter, Voirrey, took to sleeping with a shotgun in the hopes of killing the creature that wandered around in his walls and hissed at the family. But then the activity escalated to poltergeist-like incidents, and the animal in the walls began talking to James and Voirrey. It sang songs and answered questions in a high voice, speaking perfect English.
At some point, this talking critter darted into view long enough to be identified as a mongoose. The Irvings named him “Gef”. Gef claimed he had been born in India 78 years earlier, indicating that he was some kind of spirit possessing the form of a mongoose. He could supposedly see things occurring at a distance, and knew things about people without being told. He was antagonistic much of the time, hiding in the walls of the farmhouse to taunt and threaten visitors. At other times he was almost kind, leaving dead rabbits and other tokens of affection for the Irvings.
This ridiculous local spectacle caught the attention of the era’s most renowned ghosthunter, Harry Price, who wrote a book about Gef (The Haunting of Cashen’s Gap: A Modern “Miracle” Investigated, 1936) even though he didn’t witness any of Gef’s alleged psychic gifts.
The solution to the mystery almost certainly lies with Voirrey. She was a bright, curious girl who just happened to be transitioning into womanhood – a common element in poltergeist cases. She enjoyed rabbit-hunting. Evidently a skilled ventriloquist, she could make people believe the insults they heard from the walls weren’t coming from her.
The only remarkable thing about the Gef affair is how long it lasted: Over 14 years, a very long time for a poltergeist hoax. It ended abruptly in 1945, when James Irving died and Voirrey left Cashen’s Gap with her mother. Gef was never seen (or heard) again.
Now, 83 years after his squeaky voice first issued from the walls, Gef is the focus of a symposium that will be held later this year at Senate House Library in London.
- Is the beleaguered bitcoin a failed virtual currency…or a cult fetish? Maybe a little of both?
- Some of my fondest childhood memories revolve around Gothic children’s TV series made in Britain: The Moondial, The Haunting of Barney Palmer, Into the Labyrinth. They all had a “this room is surrounded by film” quality, but who wouldn’t be creeped out by the intro for Children of the Stones? Fangoria has a fabulous rundown of other gems of British folk horror on TV and film.
- A Sasquatch squatting in a house in Detroit? Seems legit.
- As you may know, The Altoona Bigfoot murder I mentioned in a previous Roundup (here) turned out to be merely Bigfoot tracks (see here) discovered by a Mr. John Winesickle. And the Winesickle tracks have turned out to be bear tracks.
- Meanwhile, in Utah, amateur fossil-hunter Todd May is very excited about the
stupid rockfossilized Bigfoot head he found in Ogden Canyon sometime in May. The Standard-Examiner‘s Mark Saal actually reported the find, and is now quite flattered that Weekly World News stole his big scoop.
If you squint and tilt your head a certain way, Mr. May’s 70-lb. rock vaguely resembles a squashy human face. May believes you can even make out the Bigfoot’s tongue, and a hand resting against the skull. He also admits that, like most people who find Bigfoot-related stuff, he has long been searching for evidence of Bigfoot. Recently, he spotted two of the critters in the canyon.
- After 43 years, the infamous sideshow attraction known as the Minnesota Iceman has reportedly turned up in Austin, Texas. As a hoax, the Iceman is so iconic that he’s even featured on the front page of my old, frozen blog. (Get it? Frozen? GET IT?)
The saga of the Iceman may be old hat to many of you, but here’s a recap:
In 1967, a Minnesota man named Frank Hansen began exhibiting a frozen caveman at various carnivals and livestock fairs around the U.S. Encased in a rectangular block of ice, the Iceman was 6′ tall, covered with long dark hair, and definitely not human. He wasn’t a pretty sight. He had the broad, flat nose of an ape and the face of a Neanderthal. One of his remarkably long arms appeared to be broken, and one eye was missing. Hansen advertised him as a missing link fished out of the Bering Strait, and said he was displaying the body on behalf of its owner, an “eccentric California millionaire” who preferred to remain nameless. This dodgy backstory alone should have kept scientists miles away from the thing, but a handful of curious biologists decided to investigate. They couldn’t actually take samples from the Iceman, though, because Hansen wouldn’t allow the ice to be thawed. This made the Iceman’s features blurry and distorted, difficult to discern (the crystal-clear “photo” commonly associated with the Iceman is actually an artist’s rendition of what his face might look like, first published in the May 1969 issue of Argosy magazine).
Nonetheless, credulous Belgian zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans designated the Iceman a previously undiscovered species of human. In February 1969, he published an article in the Bulletin of the Royal Institute of Natural Sciences of Belgium suggesting it was closely related to the Neanderthal. He called it Homo pongoides, and theorized the Iceman was most likely a certain cryptid shot and killed during Vietnam.
Heuvelmans and world-famous biologist Ivan Sanderson had examined the creature up close earlier in the year, and both deemed it to be a real specimen that had been dead for no more than 5 years. (1)
Like Heuvelmans, Sanderson was the sort of scientist easily sucked in by peculiar notions and trickery. Two decades before the Iceman surfaced, he declared that a series of 14″ long, three-toed footprints found on a beach in Clearwater, Florida, had been left by a giant penguin that somehow wandered too far north. In 1973, Al Williams admitted he and a buddy created the tracks with a pair of iron “dinosaur” shoes they designed, as a practical joke. (2)
Sanderson and Heuvelmans were impressed not only by the Iceman’s appearance, but by his stench. They claimed the block of ice gave off the odour of putrefied flesh. They tried to interest the Smithsonian in studying the Iceman. This apparently made Hansen very nervous, because he soon announced he was withdrawing the Iceman from public exhibition on the millionaire’s orders, and replacing it with an impressively realistic latex replica. However, primatologist John Napier, working with the Smithsonian, looked into the matter and learned that Hansen had commissioned the creation of a rubber caveman from a West Coast artist named Pete Corrall in the spring of 1967 – the very same year he began touring with the Iceman. Napier concluded that Hansen had merely thawed his rubber Iceman, repositioned it a little, and refrozen it to make it look slightly different. (It must be noted, here, that Napier was not exactly a skeptic when it came to Sasquatch. He believed the so-called “Cripplefoot” tracks found in Bossburg, Washington, in 1969 were genuine, though most other Bigfoot enthusiasts considered the prints a hoax likely perpetrated by the peculiar Ivan Marks.)
Heuvelmans and Sanderson insisted the “new” Iceman was not the same one they examined in 1968, but very few people were still convinced. As interest in the Iceman melted away (hur hur), Hansen suddenly changed his entire story. Pointing to the “original” creature’s bulging eyeball, he claimed he himself had shot the creature in the head, somewhere in the woods of Minnesota. Then, in the spring of 1970, he abruptly stopped touring with the Iceman, explaining that the millionaire had decided to stow it in some secret location for no obvious reason. It was not seen in public again.
Now, Steve Busti, the owner/curator of Austin’s Museum of the Weird, claims to have the Iceman in his possession. According to a HuffPo article, he bought it from Frank Hansen’s family in Minnesota. Hansen, who died about 10 years ago, had stashed the thing in a freezer on his property.
The Museum will be holding a Grand Opening event for its new exhibit on July 13th, in collaboration with Cryptomundo, the website of Loren Coleman (perhaps the world’s best-known Bigfoot researcher and cryptozoologist). The MoW seems to be more or less a big sideshow, so maybe the Iceman has found a permanent home at last.
- P.S. If you looked at the title of this post and are now a little disappointed that Richard Kuklinski wasn’t mentioned, stick around. That will be an upcoming post.
1. “The Missing Link?” by Ivan Sanderson. Argosy, May 1969, pp. 23-31.
2. Borderlands: The Ultimate Exploration of the Unknown by Mike Dash (Dell, 1997), pp. 273-277
- Another Boy from La Noria: The latest news on the Boy from La Noria (the “Atacama humanoid”) is that he wasn’t the first tiny child discovered in the Atacama Desert and paraded around as a sideshow curiosity. Back in the 1930s, Robert Ripley himself possessed and exhibited a 6.5″-tall human he named Atta. There’s a photo of Ripley posing with Atta in the palm of his hand in Neal Thompson’s recently-released biography A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert ‘Believe It or Not!’ Ripley.
According to Thompson, Ripley was fascinated by shrunken heads and the much rarer shrunken bodies, and seemed to think that Atta was an adult human skeleton shrunk to miniature dimensions, perhaps by the Jivaro Indians of Peru. That’s not how head- or body-shrinking works, of course, but try telling that to a guy who’s been dead for nearly 65 years.
Ripley’s Atta was probably bought by a private collector after its novelty wore off. Its current whereabouts are unknown.
It’s not easy to discern Atta’s features in the existing black-and-white photos, but there is nothing to indicate Atta wasn’t simply a mummified fetus, as many believe the boy from La Noria to be. Edward Meyer, vice president of exhibits and archives for Ripley Entertainment, holds that view, but still wants to know what became of Atta. He has asked that anyone with information about Atta contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- In Botswana, tiny humanoids aren’t a thing of the past. As Loren Coleman tells us, every part of Africa has its own folkloric man-beast that isn’t very tall, kind of like mini Sasquatches or short Ron Jeremys. On May 17, Mathiba Primary School in the town of Maun had to cancel classes for the day after hysterical children glimpsed a stumpy humanoid with thick black fur roaming the halls and classrooms. Ten of the kids were sent to hospital to be treated for shock, and school authorities convened a prayer meeting. Greg Newkirk at Who Forted? observes that this mini Squatch just happened to show up right before 7th-grade final exams. How totally inconsiderate.
- Now, what about that full-size Bigfoot that was supposedly gunned down in Pennsylvania, as mentioned in last week’s Roundup? Well, no body turned up, and the only documented “sighting” around the time of the supposed kill was made by one John Winesickle, who reported to police that he had uncovered proof of Bigfoot. Someone overheard officers discussing Winesickle’s call over the radio and jumped to the conclusion that proof meant a dead body (it was, after all, the opening day of turkey season). What Winesickle actually found were some footprints in the woods.
- If you simply must have a dead Bigfoot story, though, I suggest you dip into the bizarre conspiracy theory that rocked the Bigfoot world several years back. It involved Bobbie Short, a well-known Bigfoot researcher who passed away last week, and centred around film footage and photos from a 1967 Bigfoot expedition to Blue Creek Mountain in California. Canadian Sasquatch enthusiast John Green and the quirky Canadian Sasquatch-hunter Rene Dahinden traveled to Bluff Creek that summer to investigate Squatch tracks that were reported to have been left on Blue Creek Mountain, and they shot some film to document their trip. Several months later, in October, the famous Patterson-Gimlin film of a sauntering female Bigfoot was shot in the same area.
Roughly six years ago, certain Bigfoot researchers claimed to find, in the film and photos from the Green-Dahinden expedition, clear evidence that the Patterson-Gimlin film was fake, part of a vast cover-up/conspiracy involving the massacre of several real Bigfoot. John Green, who published On the Track of the Sasquatch the following year, was supposedly the mastermind of this cover-up, if not the massacre itself.
The evidence was pretty thin. One fellow tinted the hands of a man in a photo to make it look like he had blood on his hands. Others, like Bobbie Short, insisted the expedition pilot was actually Bob Titmus, an alleged hoaxer who amassed more plaster footprint casts of Bigfoot than anyone alive. Bobbie Short promoted the Bluff Creek Massacre conspiracy theory on her website, Bigfoot Encounters, and via rather cryptic emails to the others in the field. It’s a confusing but fascinating tale. Just Google “Blue Creek Mountain Bigfoot massacre” or something along those lines to find out more about it. As always, Bigfoot researchers prove to far be more peculiar and intriguing than the beasts they’re seeking.
It’s good to be back. My ThinkPad finally succumbed to a series of long-term ailments two weeks ago (Hans has a computer, but can’t type with cloven hoofs. I think he just uses it for porn). I’ve now replaced it.
So. On with the weirdness.
- Folks love a good feral child story. Probably because feral child stories combine three of the things we want most in our
Pixar filmshard-hitting news coverage: Kids, the triumph of the human spirit, and cute fluffy animals. Sadly, some of these stories are ridiculously bogus. Amala and Kamala, the Bengalese girls raised by wolves, were actually urchins “rescued” by a minister who wanted to promote his missionary work (the famous photos of the wolf-girls walking on all fours were taken years after they died, using stand-ins). Misha Defonseca, the Belgian Holocaust survivor adopted by wolves at the age of 8, wasn’t even Jewish and spent the duration of the war safely ensconced in her grandpa’s house.
Now we have Marina Chapman, a British national who claims in a new memoir that she was reared by monkeys in Colombia. She clambers up trees, makes monkey noises, and says it’s quite comfortable to scoot around on all fours. Supposedly, Marina was abducted from her family by two men around 1954, when she was 4 or 5 years old. One of them chloroformed her as she played in her yard, and she was taken to a remote area somewhere near the Venezuela-Colombia border. Then her kidnappers simply dumped her in the rainforest for no obvious reason, never to return.
Marina says she gradually came to be accepted – even loved – by a troop of Capuchin monkeys, and survived by mimicking their behaviour and scooping up their dropped bananas. The monkeys groomed her and led her to water when she was sick, but the relationship Marina describes strikes me as one of tolerance rather than affection.
Marina says she was rescued by hunters around age 9, only to be sold into sexual slavery in exchange for a parrot. She ran away from the brothel to become a street kid in Cúcuta, stealing food until she was saved again, this time by a family of “notorious” gangsters that treated her like a household slave. Finally, she was adopted by a decent family that migrated to England in the late ’70s. Marina settled down and raised a large family while working as a chef at the National Media Museum in Bradford.
At this point, no one knows exactly who the hell Marina Chapman is. She says she can’t remember her name, or where she lived prior to the age of 4. She doesn’t recall her birth family at all, in fact. Her daughter Vanessa, who helped her write the memoir, hopes someone in Venezuela or Colombia will step forward to identify her.
Aside from the obvious parallels with the wolf-girl hoaxes, there are a few other reasons to question Marina’s story. First of all, her memoir reads like a serial melodrama from the early 1900s. It’s The Perils of Pauline meets Tarzan, with absurdly evil villains lurking around every corner, scheming to trap the innocent monkey-girl. Secondly, Marina claims she totally lost the ability to speak Spanish during her time in the jungle, yet regained it with ease some 6 years later. How likely is it that Marina basically learned to speak for the first time as a pre-adolescent, without assistance? She would be the first feral kid to pull that off. Thirdly, she recalls the details of her abduction remarkably well…but she can’t remember a single thing about the family she left behind on the very same day? This whole thing smells.
And speaking of smells…
- The city of Quincy, Massachusetts is experiencing some rather weird shit. Perhaps literally. For the past several weeks, citizens have been complaining of sulfurous, noxious odours wafting through town, and at night they’re observing overflights of a mysterious plane they can’t quite identify. Theories range from ZOMG ALIENS to ZOMG CHEMTRAILS, though there doesn’t seem to be any direct link between the stink and the annoying plane. Also, the Patriot Ledger reported last week that the stench is probably coming from a malodorous brown algae, Pilayella littoralis.
- If massive, non-human primates were roaming populated areas everywhere from Arizona to upstate New York, we would be finding copious signs of their existence; bones, poop, furballs, etc. But it seems Bigfoot only leave behind Blair Witch-style craft projects and magically vanishing corpses. About a week ago, a Bigfoot was supposedly shot and killed by an unnamed turkey hunter somewhere near Altoona, Pennsylvania, as overheard by a ham radio operator known only as Daniel C. This happened scarcely two weeks after the release of Shooting Bigfoot, a documentary about a 2012 Bigfoot murder in Texas. It includes footage of Rick Dyer luring a Sasquatch with some ribs, then shooting it (the Bigfoot stumbles off, fatally wounded, and is never seen again). Before that, in 2010, there was a double Bigfoot murder called the “Sierra Kills”. That incident produced a “Bigfoot steak” that may or may not have been examined by Dr. Melba Ketchum as part of her bizarro Sasquatch DNA study, but the bodies themselves were never recovered. And no one has presented the Pennsylvania Bigfoot yet, either.
- Alex Jones thinks a magical government weather machine may have caused the tornado that ripped through an Oklahoma City suburb, killing dozens and leaving hundreds homeless and injured. Jones hasn’t seen this mechanism, he can’t even begin to explain how it might function, and he didn’t produce the name of a single scientist or agency involved with its development. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
Looks like the Godlike Productions Forum guys have it all figured out, though…it was a HAARP tornado whipped up to distract us from government scandals. If so, it was kind of a bonehead move; the tornado itself is creating government scandals.
Pat Robertson doesn’t know what caused the tornado, but he still says prayer can alter storm systems if enough people join in. He doesn’t seem to realize what he’s revealing about himself, here. If he truly buys into this prayer-based weather manipulation deal, then he should park himself in front of the Weather Channel every single day and go on the air to tell his viewers to start praying for certain areas. The 700 Club has roughly 1 million viewers per day in the U.S. alone, and if half of them prayed under Robertson’s direction, he could theoretically prevent any tragedy from occurring ever again. Instead, he waits for a storm to hit and then gets all Dr. Brule on us, like, “Why didn’t you think of that, dum-dum?” From this we can infer one of two things: Pat Robertson is lazy, or he just doesn’t give a crap.
Either way, he’s being a total dick.