Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Melon Heads-- Connecticut


Okay, finally getting to the Melonheads.  I've been putting off talking about these guys because I really don't like the mythology surrounding them. And you'll see why in a moment.  Although some folklore purists may not like it, I've decided to create my own story behind these elusive beings, incorporating some other semi-famous pieces of "weird" New England.

First, the original lore.  The stories vary somewhat, but the gist of the myths involve an old asylum for the criminally insane where the doctors carry out horrific experiments upon the patients.  After years of torture, the patients escape and murder the doctors, burn down the asylum, then flee into the surrounding woods.  They live out there for years, hidden from civilization, growing more and more savage.  Their gigantic heads are either a pre-existing hydrocephalic condition or caused by decades of inbreeding.  They attack people on lonely wooded roads, dragging them back to their lairs to devour them.

Hopefully by now you can see why I dislike this mythology. The biggest problem I have is that this story relies primarily on the lazy, hurtful stereotype of the mentally-ill as being dangerous and savage.  People struggling with mental illness have enough prejudice to deal with, without being turned into cannibalistic boogeymen.  Even worse are the versions of the story where the Melonheads' enlarged craniums are caused by hydrocephalism.  Because having a debilitating disease naturally makes you a monster, of course.

I should mention that there's another version of the Melonhead story that portrays them as the descendants of an exiled Colonial-era family who hid in the woods and, once again, degenerated into sub-human cannibalistic monsters due to inbreeding.  Still not really any better.
So, here's my version of the Melonhead origin story:

In 1852, Pastor and Spiritualist John Murray Spears began claiming he was in touch with "The Association of Electrizers", a coalition of spirits that included Benjamin Franklin, John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson and other famous persons. Their reason for contacting him, so he claimed, was to bring new technology to mankind and create an age of spiritual and social prosperity. The key to this revolution was the creation of a mechanical Messiah dubbed the "New Motive Power". 
Spears gathered his followers to a shed in Lynn, Massachusetts, where they built their Messiah out of machined rods and other bits of copper, zinc and magnetic iron.  To give the thing life, one of Spears' female followers even underwent a "spiritual pregnancy and labor".

 Once everything was in place, Spears followed through the ritual as dictated by the Electrizers to finally bring his New Motive Power to life. 

But nothing happened.  The machine failed to work.

Except, it did.

For what Spears didn't know was that the beings who called themselves the Electrizers had given him instructions not for a new Messiah, but for a machine to create a gateway between two worlds.  Their universe was dying and they were trying to escape into ours. 

The gateway itself had actually been built centuries ago before any European had set foot in the New World.  Its builders were a mystery, for none of the local First Nations had done it.  Perhaps the gate was created by the same unknown people who built the tower off of Brenton Point in Rhode Island (which I'll talk about more in my Rhode Island entry).  The gateway was a stone-lined well dug into a hill in what would one day be Goshen, CT.  Two passageways ran off the main well.  One was merely a drain to keep the well from flooding. But the other led to a vast underground chamber where the forgotten race had assembled a massive mechanical apparatus that would link the two worlds. 

Why it wasn't activated centuries ago isn't clear, nor is it known why the Electrizers used a pastor in Massachusetts to create their power source instead of someone closer to the actual gateway.  Perhaps time and space weren't obstacles for this ritual.  Whatever the reason, when the ritual to awaken the New Motive Power was  conducted, the mechanism in the well came to life. A small group of beings slid through into our world, but something went wrong.  The power to the mechanism was cut off prematurely, and the resulting energy feedback caused the chamber to cave in.  Some of the beings managed to escape the well before the apparatus and its chamber completely collapsed.  But their connection to the old universe was cut off, buried under tons of stone. 

Today the well is known as the Goshen Mystery and can be found in an old cemetery.


Though similar in appearance to humans, the Electrizer beings were actually another species of hominid that had become the dominate species in their reality.  Their most obvious difference from Homo sapiens were their enlarged skulls, which developed at puberty.  Knowing their appearance would make it difficult to blend in with human society, the Melonheads (as they were dubbed by the few people who saw them) hid in the woods, doing their best to eke  out a living.  Inevitably, they were distorted into  the monstrous boogeymen of the familiar tales due to human fears of the strange and unknown.  But in truth these beings are no worse nor better than any other human being.  Over the years, they have made contact with a select few sympathetic humans who have helped them improve their lives and have even on occasion intermarried (or at least interbred) with them.

For this drawing, I wanted to avoid the "feral boogeyman" look that the traditional folklore depicts and instead show them as just normal people-- albeit normal people from a different dimension and species than Homo sapiens.  The long dark ridge in the background is one of the basaltic dikes of the Metacomet Range which are ubiquitous throughout Central Connecticut. 

Sources:


(this is the Ohio version of the myth.)

To learn more about Reverend John Murray Spear, check out these pages: 



And here's a site about the Goshen Mystery Tunner:


I originally heard about the Tunnel and Revered Spear from the book Curious New England, by Joseph A. Citro and Diane E. Foulds.  It's got a lot of pretty cool, sometimes creepy, places and things to see in all six New England states.


Friday, November 7, 2014

The Palos Verde Blue Space Brains (Runner-up: Fresno Nightcrawlers)-- California


Late at night in August of 1971, two residents of Palos Verde, CA-- Peter Rodriguez and John Hodges-- got into their car after leaving a friend's house and flicked on the head lights to discover two bizarre, brain-shaped beings squatting in the road in front of them.

Frightened, the two men sped away into the night.  After dropping off Rodriguez, John Hodges drove home only to discover that this normally 10-minute trip had taken almost 2 hours.  As often happens in cases of alien encounters, Hodges had a large gap of "missing time", where he could not explain where he'd been or what he'd been doing.

After letting the strange events of that night marinate in his mind for five years, Hodges finally decided to undergo hypnotherapy to try to discover more of what happened.  Under hypnosis, he "recalled" that one of the brains had said to him:

"Take the time to understand yourselves.  The time draws near when you shall need to.  You shall not remember this incident until we meet again."
      --quoted from Americanmonsters.com

Regressing further into his "lost" memories, Hodges discovered that the brains had been waiting for him at his home after he dropped Rodriguez off.  Somehow they transported him to a metal room full of computers where he encountered several seven foot-tall web-fingered gray-skinned beings.  These creatures explained that the brains were actually just organic translators to allow them to communicate with Earthly life.  As often happens with these types of alien encounters, the gray beings warned that humanity must learn to control it's dangerous power or face obliteration-- though whether by our own hands or by the advanced technology of another race is not clear.


I initially learned of the Space Brains from an article on non-gray aliens at Bogleech.com, which features illustrations by Eric Kowalick-- also known as Monster-Man-08 on Deviantart.  I didn't want my version of the brains to look like just a copy of Kowalick's already pretty cool design, so I tried to give them a more wrinkled, almost brain coral-like look.  Plus insect-like walking limbs (which, admittedly, were inspired from a creature in an old adventure from Dungeon magazie called "The Night Parade").

Runner Up: The Fresno Nightcrawlers


Although the Palos Verde Brains are the "official" (at least according to my goofy little blog) cryptids of California, I also found the recent phenomenon of the Nightcrawlers cool and weird enough to give them an honorary "Second Banana" status.

Information about these cryptids is spotty, and mostly found piecemeal on various blogs and wikis across the web, but here is what I've managed to gather:

In 2011, a video appeared on Youtube supposedly showing two strange, bulbous-headed creatures drifting across a lawn in Fresno, CA.  The beings' lower bodies are either made of two strips of cloth-like material, or they have a pair of billowing, pant-like legs.  The video is too grainy to see them clearly.


  A few months later, another video appeared supposedly showing a pair of the creatures walking down a hill in Yosemite.  The second set of creatures are a bit clearer and appear to be nothing but round heads on a pair of bendable, stilt-like legs.

The videos gathered enough notoriety that they were eventually featured in one of the Syfy Channels paranormal investigation shows.  There are even rumors of "Native American legends" about the creatures going back at least a hundred years, though no one has yet provided a more detailed account of what these stories are actually about, or where they come from.

Looking at the videos, it seems pretty clear that the creatures in the first video are nothing more than cloth puppets similar to classic Halloween ghosts being pulled along on strings.  The second video is a little harder to identify, though, as one commentator has pointed out, it is possible that the beings are just CGI.



Even if the Nightcrawlers are pretty obvious hoaxes, though, I think they still deserve a place in California cryptid folklore, if for nothing more than their unusual and rather haunting appearances.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Tuscumbia Green Space Penguins-- Missouri


On February 14, 1967, farmer Claude Edwards of Tuscumbia, Missouri stepped out of his house to find a giant, metallic gray-green mushroom standing in his field.  As he approached the object, he noticed several three-foot tall figures waddling around the structure.  Moving closer, he saw that the strange beings were the same dark olive green as the mushroom-shaped structure-- which Edwards was now convinced was some sort of space craft. The beings had large black eyes-- or possibly goggles.  Edwards wasn't quite sure.  They also had black coverings over their snouts-- though whether these were parts of their bodies, or some type of breathing apparatus isn't clear. 

He also saw that the mushroom-craft had a row of windows or lights along its base that oscillated in a myriad of colors.

Edwards watched the creatures trundle about under their craft for a while, swinging their arms all over.  Eventually he grabbed two rocks, intending to use them to punch a hole through the craft to prevent it taking off.  However before he could get too close he struck some sort of invisible force field around the penguins and their ship.  Edwards flung his rocks anyway.  One bounced off the invisible wall, while the second skidded over the top of the mushroom ship and landed on the ground behind it.  The farmer's aggressive behavior apparently startled the little green creatures enough that they retreated into the "stalk" of their craft and quietly floated up into the sky.

Edwards never gives a clear description of what the space penguins' arms looked like.  However, using his original sketch of the creatures as a guide, I've taken a little artistic license and given them flat, hand-less ribbon-like limbs.

source:
http://www.americanmonsters.com/site/2011/10/space-penguins-of-tuscumbia-missouri-usa/



Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Philadelphia Purple Glob-- Pennsylvania

Most paranormal researchers assume that UFOs are spacecraft piloted by beings from other planets or even other dimensions.  A few investigators, however, have postulated that these strange objects may actually be living creatures-- another type of Atmospheric Beast like the unknown entities that may produce star jelly (which I mentioned briefly in the Crawfordsville Monster entry). 

One intriguing incident which may support this view happened in Septemnber, 1950.  Two Philadelphia police officers, Joe Keenan and John Collins, spotted a glowing mass drifting towards the ground in an open field.  Upon reaching the touch-down site, the officers reported finding a six-foot wide domed mound of what appeared to be purple jelly, so light that it barely even bent the stalks of the weeds it had landed on. The mound was faintly luminescent and appeared to pulse faintly like a living thing.  According to some reports, part of the thing had even begun to crawl up a nearby telephone pole.

Keenan and Collins called for backup and once the other men had arrived, all four decided to try to move the thing.  Collins, however, found that when touched, pieces of the glob broke off like foam and quickly evaporated, leaving behind an odorless, sticky residue on his hands.  Over the course of the next half hour, the glowing purple glob slowing dissolved until nothing was left to mark its brief existence.

The story of the Philadelphia glob doesn't end there, though.  Seven years later movie producer Jack H. Harris tasked his friend Irvine Millgate with coming up for an idea for a marketable film.  This being the 1950s, science fiction monster movies were huge.  So Millgate used the Philadelphia Glob incident as the basis for a story of a malignant extraterrestrial jelly-monster that terrorizes a town in Pennsylvania.   Originally intended only as a cheesy B-movie to make a little cash, Millgate and Harris' film, 1958's The Blob, became a hit and helped start the career of its star, Steve McQueen.

Not to mention creating a pretty catchy earworm:




Monday, October 6, 2014

The Raleigh Sewer Creature-- North Carolina




In 2009, sanitation workers running a camera through a private sewage system came across a colony of strange, red blobs that throbbed and shuddered like living things.  Video of the sewer things got pretty huge on Youtube, with all the usual wild guessing. 

So what were these things, exactly?  It turns out they were nothing more than colonies of Tubifex worms.  These worms normally live in sediment at the bottoms of lakes or, as happened here, in sewers.  Since there was no soil for the worms to burrow into, they were simply coiled around each other, forming the odd, lumpy balls.  When the hot camera lights got too close, the worms would collectively retract, creating the illusion of a single large moving being.  Apparently these colonies are fairly well known to sewer workers, who have given themt he delightful nickname "ass urchins".

Tubifex are pretty interesting animals.  They're annelids, a large, successful group that includes earthworms and leeches.  Tubifex often live in polluted, or low-oxygen sediments-- such as the aforementioned lake bottoms and sewers.  To get oxygen in such inhospitable environments, they have tons of hemoglobin in their bodies, which gives them their bright red color.  You can learn everything you'd ever want to know about Tubifex worms here


For this drawing, I added a couple of large "queen tubifex" heads coming out of the mound like hydra heads.  There's no report of the ass urchins sprouting giant heads, but then again there aren't any reports that say they DON'T sprout giant heads.  Besides, how could I not include a depiction of a tubifex's adorably doofy face

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Crawfordsville Monster-- Indiana


This odd critter is classified among an obscure group of cryptids known as "atmospheric beasts".  These are beings that supposedly live high up in the atmosphere, within or above the clouds.  They come in many different forms-- jellyfish, ribbons, giant amoebae.  Some cryptozoologists even speculate that UFOs, rather than being spacecraft from other worlds, might actually be bizarre airborne life forms that either evolved here on Earth or migrated to our planet from elsewhere.

Sometimes when a meteor strikes Earth, it will be accompanied by an odd, slimy blob of tissue called "star jelly" which some believe may be the remains of atmospheric beasts struck by the falling stone.  There are cases, though, where the supposed star jelly turned out to be a colony of a perfectly natural terrestrial cyanobacteria called Nostoc or one of the many varieties of slime molds (colonial organisms which are fascinating in their own right).

On an interesting side note, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, wrote a short story, "The Horror of the Heights", which describes an aviators encounters with "air jungles" full of weird, translucent airborne monsters.
You can read the full story here

Anyway, about this Crawfordsville Monster.  In the early morning of September 5th, 1891, two ice delivery men, Marshal McIntyre and Bill Gray saw a bizarre creature diving and curling through the sky.  The Crawfordsville Journal later described it as:

about eighteen feet long and eight feet wide and moved rapidly through the air by means of several pairs of side fins. . . . It was pure white and had no definite shape or form, resembling somewhat a great white shroud fitted with propelling fins. There was no tail or head visible but there was one great flaming eye, and a sort of a wheezing plaintive sound was emitted from a mouth which was invisible. It flapped like a flag in the winds as it came on and frequently gave a great squirm as though suffering unutterable agony."

The creature was later seen by pastor G.W. Switzer, whose description was similar to the Journal's report.

Eventually, the nature of the monster was discovered when two witnesses, John Hornbeck and Abe Hernley followed it and discovered that it was..... nothing but a huge flock of kildeer. Apparently the shape of the massive cloud of birds that been misinterpreted due to the dim lighting and the fogginess of the early morning.

Like a lot of cryptids, the Crawfordsville Monster turned out to be a perfectly normal, known phenomenon distorted by human perception.  But even so, it still makes a pretty sweet creature.

For my interpretation, I wanted the body to have a bloby, amorphous quality like other atmospheric beasts, so I drew it with little wisps of goo trailing off it. I tried to show its fins moving in a synchronized wave like the lateral limbs of an anomalocarid.

Source:
http://www.lane-mchs.org/Crawfordsville%20monster.pdf

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Dover Demon-- Massachusetts

Welcome to the first entry for Cryptids State-by-State.

States have plenty of official things-- rocks, flowers, mammals, fish, trees, mottos, fossils.  Even state soils.  Yet there are no state cryptids-- a grievous oversight that I aim to fix. 

I've been thinking about doing this blog off and on for a while now.  With Halloween approaching, I figured this would be an opportune time to finally get things rolling.

There's a ton of cryptid artwork out there, especially for famous critters like the Mothman, Sasquatch, Lake Monsters, Flatwoods Monster, etc.  So I've tried my best to make my little doodles stand out a bit.  You can judge how well I succeeded.

For my first entry, I originally wanted to start off with the unofficial cryptid of my current home, Connecticut.  The Nutmeg State's creatures are the Melonheads, whose mythology I have a bit of a problem with.  I'll explain more when I get to their entry soon.

So instead, this week's entry is the State Cryptid of Massachusetts:

THE DOVER DEMON
Dover Demon


On the night of April 21, 1977, three teenagers were driving in their hometown of Dover, Massachusetts.  One of the boys, Bill Bartlett, spotted a strange creature with a massive, hourglass-shaped head crawling on all fours along a rock wall.  As the car passed by the being, it turned its head and its eyes flashed with orange light.  Bartlett later described the Demon as having pale, peach-colored skin that appeared rough like sandpaper, and toes that curled around the rocks as it moved.
Later that night another teenager, John Baxter, saw a figure approaching him in the shadows as he walked home from his girlfriend's house.  Thinking it was a friend of his, he called out.  The being did not respond, and as Baxter drew closer, it ran off.  He followed it halfway across a roadside gully, before stopping to observe it at a distance.  Like Bartlett, Baxter described the Demon as having a figure-eight shaped head and toes that curled around the contours of rocks and a tree it leaned against.  Before he could get a better look, the Demon ran off.

The creature's description initially resembles a classic "Gray" alien-- with its large eyes, enormous head and spindly body.  But there were no reports of UFO activity at the time.  Additionally, other features stray from the usual alien myth, such as its quadrapedal stance, it's glowing orange eyes and it's odd toes.

Some skeptics think the "Demon" was nothing more than a baby moose distorted by the darkness and by the brief glimpses the witnesses had.  It's glowing eyes could merely have been the light reflecting back from the headlights of the car or another bright light source-- a phenomenon called eyeshine.
I tried to make my Dover Demon reflect a bit of the "baby moose" explanation, at least in the face.  But I wanted it to still have an otherworldly look, with its spindly neck and egg-shaped body.  I ran with the idea of its toes curling around the rocks and made them more like boneless tentacles.


So there you go, Massachusetts-- you're the first state to get your very own wicked awesome unofficial Official State Cryptid.  

Sources:
http://www.theawl.com/2012/10/a-spooky-scary-secret-monster-in-every-state

http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/lost-tapes/creatures/dover-demon.htm

http://cryptidz.wikia.com/wiki/Dover_Demon