The Crescent Haunted Hotel of Arkansas

the crescent hotelArkansas’ Crescent Hotel, located in Eureka Springs, in some state the name of which escapes me, is a former girls’ school and health spa which is reputed to be haunted. The hotel was at one point owned by a charlatan called Norman Baker, who claimed he could cure illnesses like cancer, and it has been suggested that it is haunted by, amongst others, the spirits of those who the fraudulent quack failed to cure.

Apparitions apparently include an Irish stonemason who was killed during the construction of the hotel in 1885, several of the good “doctor’s” patients, the quack himself, and even a cat called Morris. Guests claim to hear strange sounds in the night, objects are mysteriously moved from one place only to reappear in another, and emails from the past appear on people’s phones. Others claim to have had more direct contact with the ghosts. Quite a few have woken up in the middle of the night to find a strange figure wearing a nightgown standing at the foot of their bed, and one woman claimed that an unseen presence stroked her hair. While I cannot vouch for any of these claims, there is no denying that the Crescent haunted Hotel is one spooky-looking piece of architecture.

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The Coelacanth

coelacanthThe Coelacanth isn’t a cryptid, or a ghost, much less some sort of weird underwater UFO. So what is this fishy character doing on a site about the paranormal?

The coelacanth ( see-luh-canf ) is an ancient fish that had been thought by scientists to have been extinct for 65 million years. Then in 1938 a South African fisherman and his crew netted one! Since then, many of these living fossils have been caught off in waters around Africa, from Kenya to Tanzania, as well as in Indonesia.

The reason this 6 foot, 200 lb goldfish is being featured here is that he is good evidence that something can be thought by all the experts to be long gone, only to have been around all along. This raises the possibility that some cryptids may be just another re-discovery waiting to happen. If such a large and bizarre fish can go un-noticed for millions of years, is it so impossible that somewhere in the darkest, most well-hidden corners of North America there lurk family groups of some undiscovered or supposedly extinct hominids that were called Sasquatches by Native Americans and Bigfoot by the white invaders? And perhaps Nessie really is just a tourist trap set by Scottish Tourist Board, or maybe she’s another forgotten species. Even something as out there as the Mongolian Death Worm may be a prehistoric survival distorted by myth. Who knows? Today’s cryptid may be tomorrow’s scientific find. It’s happened before, there’s no reason it can’t happen again.

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The Chupacabra

As cryptids go, this is a newcomer, a Juanito Come Lately you might say. With reports dating back to only 1995, the Chupacabra (Spanish for Goatsucker) is not some sicko pervert who goes around blowing goats, but rather a reptilian animal reputed to drain the blood from goats, sheep and other animals.

Originally, witnesses described the Chupacabra as a biped standing at around 4 – 5 feet in height, and having scaly, green/grey skin, red eyes, spines protruding from its back, and a snake-like forked tongue. Though generally reptilian, it hops like a kangaroo, has a doglike face and gives off a strongly sulfuric odor.

There is a more common and far less interesting version of this cryptid, but one that is so easily dismissed as a dog or coyote with a bad case of mange that it is hardly worth noting. Hairless ( severe and untreated cases of mange will lead to complete hair loss) and four legged and “dog-like,” reports of this particular creature are almost certainly reports of mange-effected dogs and coyotes. And, in fact, just about every time the carcass of one of these things is examined by a scientist, the conclusion is that it is either a dog, a coyote, or a combination of the two.

The cool version of the Chupacabra first struck in March of 1995 when it killed and drained several sheep of their blood, leaving only puncture wounds as its calling card. At this attack there were no witnesses, so we really don’t know what the hell happened. The first sighting was reported several months later in the Puerto Rican village of Canovanas. The creature had been on a pet-and-livestock killing spree in the area when it was spotted one afternoon by a local woman, Madelyne Tolentino, who claimed to have seen its bipedal, reptilian version. Pretty soon, animal deaths all over Latin America were being attributed to the mysterious creature — by which i mean the Chupacabra, not Miss Tolentino. Since then, the creature has supposedly widened its range to not only other parts of the Americas but also as far afield as Russia — maybe it’s an alcoholic species (heh, heh) and prefers Vodka to Tequila. Or maybe it’s just a racist bastard! Either way, how it got its hands on a plane ticket is another of the world’s great mysteries. But back to that original sighting. Unfortunately, Tolentino had recently seen the sci-fi movie “Species” and was under the impression that it was not a work of fiction but a depiction of actual events that had actually taken place in actual Puerto Rico. The movie features a monster that is reptilian and has spikes along its back, and which Tolentino herself admits looks a hell of a lot like a Chupacabra! And here is where the entire thing falls apart…

Take the originator’s admission that she can’t tell movies from reality, add the many cases confirmed as being various types of canine suffering from severe mange, throw in the complete lack of photographic evidence and the absence of sightings previous to the ‘90s and what do you have? You have a fascinating creature that, unfortunately, is probably far more bull than it is reptile.

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The Chihuahua UFO Crash

Ai, chihuahua! This is one long and convoluted story!

It all started on August 24, 1974, when a U.S radar picked up an unidentified object in the Gulf of Mexico speeding along at over 2000 miles per hour, which is roughly the speed at which Mexican food moves through a gringo’s digestive system. The radar tracked the craft for a while, then it suddenly disappeared from the radar screen. At around the same time, there were reports that a small aircraft which had recently left Texas had disappeared at the same time in the same area. It was presumed that the two crafts had crashed into one another somewhere near the town of Coyame, Chihuahua, not far from the U.S.-Mexico border, and the Mexican authorities sent a team of soldiers to investigate. On their arrival, the Mexicans found both a Cessna 180 and, several miles away, a mysterious metallic disc. They placed the disc and the Cessna on trucks and drove off to an unexpected fate.

Meanwhile, not wanting to leave such a discovery in the hands of another government, the US sent its own team to check on the truck convoy carrying the disc. What the American team found was a scene straight out of a science fiction movie. The convoy had come to a full stop in the middle of the desert. Everyone in both the trucks and the accompanying jeeps was dead, their guns untouched, as if a silent death had crept upon them suddenly and without warning. On one of the trucks was a silver disc measuring sixteen feet across and a mere five feet in thickness. It had no lights, no doors, no windows, no markings of any kind. There was damage to the rim of the disc consistent with both a mid air collision and a crash onto the desert floor. The Americans gathered together all the corpses and vehicles, as well as the remains of the Cessna, and used high explosives to blow everything to smithereens. They then used a Sea Stallion helicopter to spirit the UFO out of the area, and since then it has not been seen again. For their part, the Mexican military and the US government claim that none of the events related above ever happened. According to them, the entire thing is a fiction.

After decades of secrecy, the world finally learnt of the incident in 1992, when an anonymous source tipped off several UFO enthusiasts in the US and Europe. The tip-off came in the from of a report called “Research Findings on the Chihuahua Disk Crash,” which was described by ufologist Leonard Stringfield as being “authoritatively written, using correct military terminology and, of note and unlike a hoax, draws a line between so-called hard evidence and that which is speculative.” Strangely enough, after its 1994 mention in Stringfield’s “UFO Crash Retrievals: Search for Proof in a Hall of Mirrors,” the story fell out of sight untill 2005 when it was covered in the TV series UFO Files. Since then, no new evidence has surfaced to support or to debunk the story put forward by the anonymous tipster. Perhaps the whole Chihuahua UFO Crash thing was a clever con played on gullible ufologists. Or perhaps it’s all been hushed up by the CIA and its Mexican stooges. For now, we simply do not know what happened (or did not happen) that August day in the skies over Chihuhua, Mexico.

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The Altamaha-Ha

Its name alone gives the impression that this is one cryptid not to be taken seriously. Also known by the diminutive Altie, the creature’s name is derived from the river system in which it supposedly resides, the Altamaha River in the US state of Georgia. The extra ha at the end supposedly has something to do with a Native American language. Still, it makes you wonder if someone isn’t letting us know that our legs are being pulled.

An aquatic creature resembling a smaller version of Nessie, Altie is described as being around 20 feet long and snake-like with a circumference of 5-7 feet. It is also claimed to have a crocodile-like snout, bony ridges on the back, and large, protruding eyes. Most of the time it is described as a peaceful animal, except on occasions when it climbs out of the river and kills everyone in sight.Most reports, however, are of someone claiming to have simply bumped into it while swimming. A minority claims that it has behaved in a threatening manner and once even attacked a boat, but such instances seem to be very rare.

Though there have been at least a couple of hundred reported sightings and the creature can be traced back to Native American mythology, no evidence of this pigmy cousin of the Loch Ness Monster has ever been presented. For now, the Altamaha-ha is best filed under “Wait and see.”

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