Missing Skulls Alert!

Box of Skulls photo by Drew Vics. NOT the stolen skulls, halloween decorations.

No, this isn’t paranormal but it is unexplained. And the above photo is property of the author and depicts rubber and plastic Halloween decorations. Just so you’ll know.

On March 3, 2022, a box of human skulls was stolen from a medical transport vehicle in the Central Park neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. The skulls were intended for medical research when they were carted off, along with a dolly, after the thieves broke into the van, now they may be destined for college initiation rituals, someone’s morbid home collection, or seriously legit Halloween decor.

Let’s be clear, stealing human remains is not cool, not even if you think you’re Victor Frankenstein. The heads are still at large, and it’s possible that the perps didn’t even know what they were snatching when they made off with the boney human remains. They might be in for one hell of a surprise.

Science Care issued the following statement through CBS Denver:

“We were made aware of the theft immediately and we have been working closely with local Denver authorities to investigate this crime. We are doing everything we can to locate the stolen tissue and protect the community. Due to the sensitive nature of our business, and as there are several ongoing investigations, we do not have any further comment on this criminal matter.

This is an extremely rare situation. If anyone has any information on this crime, or on the whereabouts of the box or donated tissue, we urge you to please contact the Denver Police or Science Care at media@sciencecare.com. We look forward to a safe resolution of this situation.”

Paranormal Reality TV Shows

As the years go by I find myself stumbling on more and more paranormal reality shows while surfing the boob-tube for something entertaining to watch. Yeah I said boob-tube. I’m old. Anyhow, you’d think with literally hundreds if not thousands of channels to choose from on any given television service we’d be able to find enjoyable content, but my wife and I settle on a very few regular TV shows which include Maine Cabin Masters, Chopped, Restaurant Impossible, Forensic Files and reruns of NCIS [Paid Links].

When I’m watching by myself I may start with some paranormal show, just because I have to stay in the loop, but inevitably I end up watching a movie or binging a series on Netflix, or going back to movies or reruns of shows from my private collection.

It seems that television has very little to offer these days, that is if you’re looking for something relatively rewarding. We no longer have thirteen channels of crap, but more than one-thousand. The minimum “plan” when I signed up for Dish Network was something like 200. Truthfully I watch from a selection of about eight regular channels during the week. If you’re looking for a bunch of nonsense designed to sell advertising and products you won’t be disappointed.

And it’s not cheap. Look, back when TV was free, over-the-air broadcasting we got commercials because the networks needed some way of making money on the shows they produced. That’s an easy model to comprehend. Then Cable TV came along and those who wanted free movies and other content could pay to get it. That was the heyday of MTV, HBO, Showtime and all of that stuff. Now we pay for cable or satellite TV, AND WE GET MORE ADS THAN BEFORE! But I digress. This isn’t about my disdain for big corporations raping America. It’s about Paranormal TV.

Let’s talk some real bunk. Take shows like Paranormal Caught on Camera or Ghost Adventures for example. They make stuff up. Really and truly. They straight up bullshit you. It’s a show with an audience, and they need to get ratings to sell ads. PERIOD.

It should be clear to anyone watching that the “phenomena” presented on these shows really are only one of two things: convenient occurrences, like sounds or visual effects, that lend themselves to an interpretation of paranormal activity (which should not be the first conclusion), or blatant deception. There I said it. That these shows still thrive can only mean one thing: the audience is gullible.

Paranormal Caught on Camera presents surveillance videos or cellphone clips of alleged paranormal activity with commentary by select celebrities in the field. Each and every time we are presented with events that can be explained, somehow, if you actually wanted to take time to think about it. There is actually nothing out of the ordinary happening. These videos are the result of clever object manipulation, clever costumes and camera angles. The videos are completely falsely described and faked.

It doesn’t take much to slide a chair across the floor without touching it, or close a door, or have objects slide off of shelves or launch from tables. These things are easily done with strings, wires, fishing line, or someone just out of sight physically pushing the object.

Creative people exist in this world, and are completely capable of creating videos of weird creatures and unexplained phenomena.

In a recent clip a jinn was allegedly terrorizing a man as he walked through an abandoned house. One scene clearly shows a door leaning haphazardly against the other side of a door jamb opposite the camera as the person pans the room. He begins to enter another room to the right, where a door is clearly hanging on hinges. Suddenly a loud noise startles the guy and the camera shakes mercilessly, obscuring everything, until it finally returns to the previous doorway, where we see the door that had just been leaning is now falling to the floor.

The announcer states that a door was forcibly torn from the hinges and thrown to the floor. This is a complete lie. It’s clear that the door could easily have been pushed by someone standing on the other side of that wall but the celebrity commentators ignore this and instead agree that something supernatural is going on.

Another example from Paranormal Caught on Camera is a video which clearly shows a cloud formation in which a particular lenticular cloud, known as a pileus, forms above cumulus cloud and in this case is “pierced” by the cumulus, which then rises through and above the pileus. See this Wikipedia article for more information. This is a cool and completely explainable natural phenomenon, but the hosts jump right to the conclusion that it must be an alien spaceship obscuring itself in the clouds.

Why do I care? Because entertainment is entertainment, but lies are lies. These shows display no disclaimer stating that these are likely phony, hoaxed events they are going to show you. They present them as real.

The problem with this kind of TV is that it doesn’t educate, it just bamboozles. Hey, whatever sells ads right? It would be better to see shows like this explain how the events could be, and in fact are, faked.

With facts readily at hand anywhere online why do people fall for such nonsense? Maybe they don’t. Maybe they just need something stupid to watch that supports their belief in the paranormal.

Elvis Death Conspiracy Theories

There is this fun little podcast I listen too called Conspiracy Theories by Parcast, hosted by Molly Brandenburg and Carter Roy. If you’re interested in conspiracies, whether you believe them or not, I highly recommend you give it a listen. Some conspiracies they discuss will have you scratching your head. Not is all as it seems, it would seem.

Recently the hosts discussed the death of Elvis Presley and the many conspiracy theories that have cropped up after his untimely demise which suggest that The King faked his death and has been spotted alive in various places around the world, including in the film Home Alone.

Some people just can’t let dead rock stars rest in peace. Faked death conspiracy theories exist for many, allegedly, deceased celebrities including Jim Morrison, Michael Jackson, Andy Kaufman, and others. Over the years I had heard of the occasional Elvis sighting or death hoax and let it pass as nonsense, but after hearing this particular episode of the Conspiracy Theories podcast I decided to take a closer look at a few of these theories that some believe prove that Elvis faked his death and is still alive sipping Mai Tais in Tahiti.

ONE: The Overloaded Coffin Theory

Did some nitwit overload the coffin? In this entertaining hoaxed Elvis death conspiracy theory it is suggested that the coffin weighed in excess of 900 lbs, which would mean either Elvis had gathered substantial girth prior to his death, or that the person responsible for the simple, yet clandestine, task of loading some sandbags into an empty coffin screwed up and added a couple hundred pounds to the King’s bulk. Can this be true?

According to a 2016 article on Huffington Post, written by retired homicide detective and forensic coroner Garry Rodgers, reexamining the details known about Elvis’ health and the circumstances surrounding his death, Elvis was in bad shape at the time of his death and it is estimated that he weighed in the neighborhood of 350 lbs. I’m not sure where the author got that estimate but some reports of that weight claim the information came from a close confidante of The King, a member of his’ “Memphis Mafia”.

Other reports claim his weight at death was closer to 260 lbs or so. Let’s check out the deets.

Is 900 lbs a lot for a coffin with Elvis in it? For your standard coffin it is, most don’t typically exceed 200 lbs or so but a National seamless copper deposit casket, like the one Elvis was buried in, can weigh as much as 600 to 800 lbs. In the former case, a 600 lb coffin holding a 350 lb Elvis would have topped out at 950, which is, as the conspiracy states, in excess of 900 lbs. What about a 260 lb Elvis? Given the weight variation of the particular style of coffin, let’s say the coffin was closer to 700 lbs, this would still put the total weight well over 900 lbs.

So, if some sneaky goon loaded that coffin with sandbags to replicate the weight of Elvis while The King was putting in a call to the helicopter, they were pretty much right on nuggets. Just because the coffin weighed more than what some fervent conspiracy theorists expected, doesn’t mean Elvis wasn’t in it.

Elvis had gained substantial weight and was in pretty poor health. His regular use of prescribed narcotics and notoriously poor diet, along with some genetic predispositions, led to a rapid decline in health between 1973 and 1977. Sadly Elvis Presley passed away of cardiac arrest on August 16, 1977, while sitting on the toilet at his Graceland mansion.

Let’s let the sleeping King of Rock rest in peace. Yes, I said helicopter. Next…

Elvis Presley

TWO: The Mysterious Elvis Escape Helicopter Theory

Apparently there is a photo in existence somewhere that depicts a black helicopter flying over Graceland on the day of Elvis Presley’s death. I can’t find the photo in it’s entirety online however, just a fudged comparison between it and other Graceland images. The claim made by whoever brought the photo to pubic attention is that the helicopter is secretly flying Elvis, alive and well, away from Graceland at the time of his funeral.

First things first: the photo is not from 1977. The height of the bushes, trees or whatever they are, along the front of the house is consistent with the height of the bushes, trees or hedges, after it was turned into an historic landmark attraction, not at the time of the legendary musicians death. When Elvis passed the greenery along the front of Graceland mansion was quite a bit taller. At some point in the years after his death they were either trimmed down to the nubs or completely torn out and replaced.

What I’m thinking is this: why the hell would Elvis wait until the exact day of his funeral to fly off to parts unknown? Anyone trying to fake their own death would get the heck out of Dodge as soon as possible, before anyone notices the sandbags in the coffin. That’s what I’m saying.

The photo isn’t necessarily a piece of Photoshopery either. It could simply be a picture of a dark colored chopper flying along in the distance with the Graceland mansion in the foreground. This is an un-conspiracy. Simply a dumb hoax.

THREE: Elvis is Alive and Appears as an Extra in Home Alone Theory

This is a good one. I’m not sure of the actual number of people who resemble Elvis Presley, but I’m sure it’s a big figure. Many people can sort-of resemble anyone. I bet more ordinary people bear a closer resemblance to Elvis than most Elvis impersonators do.

Gary Grott, extra actor in Home Alone, and apparent Elvis look-alike

With that in mind, and the basic understanding that coincidences occur, I suggest that the extra standing behind Macaulay Culkin’s mom at the airline ticket counter in Home Alone is just some guy who happens to resemble elvis. In reality the fellow’s name is Gary Grott, and he also shares a passing resemblance to Bob Seger, and a guy who lived down the street from me when I was 15. Some people just have a look.

Sadly Mr. Grott passed away in 2016. So we’ll let him rest in peace too.

And FOUR: Elvis is Pastor Bob Joyce

Wait a minute, let me get this straight. Elvis faked his death so he could move to Arizona and pastor a faith ministry?

No. Just, no. Anyone with a functioning noodle in their head would immediately see that Bob Joyce looks like a lot more like an aging Jim Morrison than Elvis Presley. Regardless of this obvious oversight, some congregants and conspiracy theorists think that Bob Joyce might be the return of The King despite the fact that Bob Joyce himself doesn’t even support the idea.

If the man himself denies it how does the conspiracy persist? Easy, people living a vapid existence with too much time on their hands believe this kind of carp regardless of evidence to the contrary.

I don’t know what Pastor Joyce is selling but it can’t be much more than a hunk a hunk o’ burnin’ Jesus love. Give the guy a break.

That does it for me. I’m sure there are more Elvis sightings and theories but I’m up for just accepting the fact that The King of Rock and Roll was in poor health after eating way to many Fool’s Gold Loaf sandwitches and bugers, regularly taking prescription drugs and generally living an unhealthy and high stress lifestyle. The poor guy died. RIP Elvis Presley.

No confirmed conspiracies here. But, maybe Bob Joyce is Jim Morrison. It’s not much more of a stretch than the Elvis conspiracy to think that Mr. Mojo Risin’ himself faked his death in Paris and high-tailed it to Arizona to preach.

Mothman: The Sandhill Crane of Point Pleasant, WV

On December 15, 1967 the Silver Bridge—an eyebar-chain suspension bridge which spanned the Ohio River joining Point Pleasant, WV and Gallipolis, OH—collapsed under rush hour traffic. 46 people were killed. The cause of the collapse was discovered by investigators to be a broken link in the chain suspension system.

Here is an example of a tragedy that occurred because in the 39 year existence of the bridge it never dawned on anyone that an increased traffic load the bridge was not designed for meant the potential failure of said bridge under such a load. Hello. So who’s keeping tabs on this stuff anyway?

Unfortunately for the poor victims of the collapse but fortunate for the rest of us someone woke the hell up and decided this would be a good to review current bridges in use around the country and determine upgrades to increase the safety of those bridges in question. Bravo. You know, it’s too damn bad somebody didn’t think about this sooner, wasn’t clued in at some point. Oh wait! Apparently we were…

According to some, a string of allegedly unexplained events began happening just over a year prior to the collapse of the Silver Bridge, and are thought to have been omens of doom, some kind of foretelling of the catastrophe to come. There were Mothman sightings, phone calls featuring strange sounds, UFOs, and mysterious men in black, all somehow trying to let the people of Point Pleasant know that something wasn’t right.

Foretellings… Seriously, if Mothman knew something was going to happen why didn’t he just grab a welder and fix the chain, or write a letter to the Mason County Highway Department and let them know about the broken link. At the very least he could have swooped in and grabbed falling cars, flying them to safety before they hit the water below. Some hero.

Look, I’m all for good paranormal phenomena, UFOs, weird flying creatures and stuff like that, but when you connect this bunk to a human tragedy like a bridge collapse it’s just stupid and disrespectful to the poor people who lost their lives in the tragedy. It was a terrible accident, leave it alone.

Okay, I’ll talk about Mothman.

These are great spooky tales to tell around a campfire and fun fodder for books and documentaries but, if you actually start thinking about the mechanism involved in lifting a man-sized creature off the ground you realize that a “mothman” can’t exist. Won’t happen. There is this thing called physics, and within the boundaries of physics the wingspan necessary to lift an average dude would be enormous. Humans have only been able to lift themself off of the ground with jet packs and aircraft. Hang gliders require a running start downhill to develop lift unless you attach a motor.

Wingspan is only one consideration though, the physical attributes required to perform such a feat mean that Mothman would have to be super-jacked to flap his wings fast enough to get 200 lbs airborne way before any chance of catching an updraft to take a break. He’d look more distorted than the Tick on steroids, not just a man with wings.

So, what the hell did people of Point Pleasant see flapping over their heads back in 1967 that had them so convinced it was a dude with big moth wings and glowing red eyes? Let’s take a look at the reports and see if we can’t figure this one out.

Buzz Aldrin Selfie 1966 Gemini Spacewalk

The first sighting of a winged humanoid creature flying around was made on November 12, 1966, which incidentally is the same day Buzz Aldrin took a selfie during a space walk on the Gemini Mission. Back on Earth far below five guys were digging a grave at a cemetery near Clendenin, WV, when they claim to have seen a large, man-like creature flying overhead, and it wasn’t Buzz.

It is my opinion that Buzz Aldrin may have been the only humanoid creature flying unaided by conventional aircraft at the time, but he wasn’t contending with much gravity.

No further details were given in that sighting, but a couple of days later on November 15, there was another alleged sighting of a strange flying man-like creature. Two couples were driving around in a ’57 Chevy at the then abandoned West Virginia Ordinance Works, known locally as the TNT Area and now part of the McClintic Wildlife Management Area.

The witnesses spotted the thing at the abandoned north power plant when the wash of the headlights illuminated what they thought were glowing red eyes. The creature “wobbled” around the back of the building and the couples decided to vacate the area. One witness claimed you could “see the muscles” in the legs of the creature, though I’m not sure what creature would need to wobble when they have apparently sufficient muscles to walk with.

As they drove out they saw the creature, or maybe another of the same type, near a billboard where it flew up into the air and apparently began pursuit. According to their story it kept up with the car even at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. I’m betting they didn’t mention that speed to the cops later.

The creature allegedly chased them, “squeaking like a big mouse”, drifting back and forth as it flew along behind the car, casting its shadow upon the car. It got so close at times that its wings hit the roof. Pardon me for a minute… so it’s dark enough for them to require headlights which illuminate the creatures “eyes”, yet the thing is casting a shadow on their car? I did a quick check here and found that on November 15, 1966, at around 7PM the moon was waxing crescent, just over an eighth of it was illuminated, and it’s altitude was 5.6° above the horizon, very low in the western sky. This means there wasn’t enough moonlight to cast a shadow. Maybe street lights, but typically country roads out of town do not have regular street lights.

In any case they lost the flying thing as they entered Point Pleasant proper and stopped at a local ice cream shop to figure out what to do. They decided to head back out of town to see if the creature was still there and apparently encountered it, or something similar, near the carcass of a dead dog. According to their report the eyes appeared to glow red in the headlights again, and the thing flew over their car into a nearby field. Scared, they drove back to town and this time stopped at a Tiny’s Diner to plan their next move, which was ultimately to notify the police about what they had seen.

Linda Scarberry, one of the witnesses, described a grey creature with circular, fiery red eyes, standing 6 to 7 feet tall and being generally man-shaped with wings. Sheriff’s Deputy Millard Halstead didn’t believe them at first, but based on their apparent agitation he figured they weren’t screwing around so he accompanied them back to the area where their sighting began. The group found nothing except a set of dubious footprints.

The following day Mason County Sheriff George Johnson held a press conference to discuss the event with reporters. Johnson thought the creature was a misidentified heron, albeit a large one. He called the creature a “shitepoke”, a nicknamed earned by small green herons because of their apparent habit of dropping a deuce before taking off when they’re startled.

Other sightings followed, undoubtedly spurred on by the news report of the TNT Area sighting, and all had similar descriptions of the creature.

All of the pertinent sightings in this Point Pleasant flap occurred within the months of November and December and pretty much stopped after the collapse of the Silver Bridge. It seems folks had something more important on their minds after that.

Another interesting thing about this time frame is that it’s the migration period of the sandhill crane.

The Sandhill Crane theory
I’d hate to cut right to it but this one works for me. I’m not suggesting the witnesses were making all of this up, clearly they saw something that they didn’t understand and were caught off guard. During a charged moment like that it’s nearly impossible to step back and objectively analyze the event. Dimensions are easy to miscalculate and often exaggerated, especially when you take even a minor dive into the psychology of it, but given the description of a large grey creature with wings, a red area perceived as eyes that “glowed” in the headlights, a wobbling gate, and a sound like the squeaking like a big mouse, it does actually fit with the description of a large sandhill crane.

Regardless of what the Haunted Librarian says, there doesn’t have to be anything paranormal going on here. This isn’t about belief or supernatural activity. Let’s stick to the facts.

An article found on ChasingTheFrog.com regarding the 2002 film Mothman Prophecies starring Richard Gere states, “The Sandhill Crane is not native to the area, nor had they ever been seen there before or since.” However, the sightings occur precisely within the migration timeframe of the sandhill crane and Point Pleasant is very near a common migration route for these birds. And let’s face it, migrating birds do not follow the rules, they will go where they go regardless of whether or not they have been to that area before. Weather patterns play a big part in that too.

It is extremely likely that this is the bird mistaken for the creature sighted by witnesses. Since they are not directly in the more heavily traveled migration route there are likely many people of Point Pleasant who are not familiar with this kind of bird, and haven’t seen them, let alone at night, and could have been taken by surprise.

According to this Wikipedia article “During migration and winter, unrelated cranes come together to form ‘survival groups’ that forage and roost together.” So it’s likely that the four witnesses stumbled onto a group of migrating sandhill cranes that had decided to take a respite at the abandoned TNT Area, startling the birds and possibly prompting a few of them to act agitated and maybe even attack.

Consider their story about the one that wobbled around the north power plant. Shortly after they saw a creature standing near a billboard by the entrance to the area. That one flew up in the air and apparently followed their car. This could easily have been two birds. There is nothing in their story confirming that only one creature was seen. It is very possible that they saw multiple similar looking creatures. The one that flew over their car as they drove back out of town could have been a third bird, not the same one.

As for the “squeaking like a big mouse” comment, listen to the sandhill crane calls at AllAboutBirds.com, especially the second and third recordings. In the right situation those sounds could be described as squeaky and mouse-like.

We’re only human. I’m not willy-nilly criticizing anyone who has any particular beliefs with regard to the paranormal, we don’t know everything, and I like a spooky story as much as the next guy, but when we have ample evidence to suggest one possible explanation and only speculation on the other hand you have to step back and admit the obvious. Two possibilities come to mind when you strip away every unrealistic and unprovable paranormal claim about the so-called mothman sighings.

One, the witnesses were startled by something they had never seen before and high-tailed it out the area in a sort of excited panic, with exaggerated notions of what they really saw. It is very likely they misjudged positions, sizes and features, and misidentified a very large bird. Later they may have realized that what they saw were really birds but were so embroiled in the story that they didn’t want to go back on their claim and look like liars or fools. They were in the newspaper after all.

Two, they knew what they saw but decided to create some crazy story for fun, and got in the newspaper. It happens. Some people do things to get noticed or feel important, even if they don’t set out to do that intentionally. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and ride along with what might seem like a fun idea at the time.

I’m leaning toward the first scenario. Other folks can then be stirred up by the excitement and are on high alert for something strange and unexplained. Subsequent misidentifications of large birds in the area become more sightings of mothman.

The fact remains that a mothman as a real living creature is not physically possible. Most mysteries like this are the result of misidentification and general hype. They become another folk tale or legend, which is fine, but let’s enjoy the stories as just that, stories. We don’t need to believe it.

Next I’ll take a look at the UFO sightings and strange phone calls, among other paranormal events that are said to have taken place during the same timeframe, up until the collapse of the Silver Bridge.

Until then, keep an eye out for the weird, but don’t believe everything you hear, and only half of what you see…

The Bell Island Boom – Super Lighting and Ball Lightning?

I was perusing the YouTube and stumbled upon an old CBC news broadcast from 1978 about mysterious booms and a spectacular explosion that made a notable disruption of some lives on Bell Island in Conception Bay, just off the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

Okay, to be honest I was perusing the YouTube looking for the old CBC news broadcast from 1978 because I had just listened to the Nighttime Podcast episode about the Bell Island Boom from April 23 2016, but that didn’t sound like a good opener.

Yes, this is a rehash of an old story, and an old episode from that podcast—which is pretty darn good if you’re interested in all of the weirdness that goes on in Canada—but there are some who haven’t heard of the Bell Island Boom, like me, and I was intrigued by the tale so decided to take a look at it here at Apokryphunk.

So What Happened?
Way back when, on April 2, 1978, something strange and scary rattled the residents of a village on Bell Island, NL, Canada. Along with a shocking “explosion” locals reported strange electrical occurrences, at least one report of what some might describe as ball lightning, holes in the ground, and a massive beam of light hitting the island as reported by more a distant observer.

The CBC report begins with reports of booms heard along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. from South Carolina to New Jersey. Mysterious booms are heard all over the place to this day. There are the Seneca Guns, so-named for their origins on the shores of Seneca and Cayuga lakes in Western New York. The name stuck and they are called the Seneca Guns in the Carolinas and other states as well. Otherwise they’re just called, well, “mysterious booms”. Most of these unexplained booms are heard in the Eastern United States but there have been some reported in California and elsewhere.

Sonic Booms?
The most common explanation is supersonic aircraft, which create a pressure wave as they compress the air ahead of them. Yes, they are going so fast that the air literally can’t get out of the way in time and compresses into water vapor and creates a continuous cone of pressure around the craft that travels all the way down to earth. When this wave passes an unsuspecting ear far below it creates a dull thump or sometimes a very noticeable boom sound. The intensity depends on the distance of the aircraft to the listener.

Many of the booms heard along the eastern seaboard during the late 1970s were initially thought to be the result of a passing Concord jet just off the coast, headed from New York’s JFK to London’s Heathrow Airport. After figuring this was the likely cause authorities altered the flight path so the plane would produce its sonic boom farther out over the ocean instead of near land. Some booms persisted, though, and can’t be so easily locked down.

Dr. William Donn of the Lamont Doherty Geological Observatory in Palisades, NY, interviewed for the CBC special report, examined data collected from sensitive atmospheric sound monitoring stations and noticed that many of the booms took weekends off, as well as the Christmas holiday. Dr. Donn suspected that the booms, and lack there of during American holidays and weekend breaks, were the result of military activity. Could be.

Look oddball booms are one thing and they happen a lot, check out MysteryBooms.com for more information on that subject. There are a huge number of explanations for something like that: sonic booms, seismic activity, frost quake, a distant thunderstorm, a hair-raising explosion from some DIY MythBuster playing with gunpowder in his back yard, military activity, a blasting company fracturing a massive boulder nearby—I used to work for one, they don’t tell everyone in town about it—among other things.

But the booms along the east coast in December of 1977, as strange and mysterious as they were, were not related to the explosive event that occurred on Bell Island. At least I don’t think they were, but I could be wrong. For example, it is possible that the booms heard by some residents were actually thunder related to a storm far in the distance, but that wouldn’t have been audible in almost every state along the east coast.

So, what the hell happened on Bell Island that had folks thinking the world was coming to an end? After listening to the reports given in the CBCs news piece I did some research and pondering and to me the event sounds an awful lot like a massive lightning strike, with other associated electromagnetic effects. Let’s take a look at what those folks reported, and see what we can make of them.

First of all, these were not loony people. They were down to earth folks who witnessed something way out of the ordinary and had physical evidence to prove it. Everyone interviewed heard a sound they described as an explosion, or at least a big boom. A few witnesses described a massive concussion that rattled their homes. One woman exclaimed it was as if her house had been broken in two.

One gentleman witnessed “fire” as he called it, likely an electrical arc, blast about 18 inches out of an outlet above his kitchen table. Immediately after this discharge he heard a loud boom.

Other witnesses described similar events, some more extreme including TVs utterly destroyed by electrical overloads, burned out electric motors, and a report of a “ball of fire” flaring up in an oven, apparently passing through the glass.

So, what the hell can cause such strangeness and destruction? The electrical arc shooting out of the outlet and the fried TV set are telling. Having researched a huge lightning strike my wife and I experienced during an electrical storm which set off our smoke detector for a few seconds, it seems likely or at least possible that these particular disturbances were cause by something known as an EMP, or electromagnetic pulse. And in the case of the Bell Islanders it was a massive electromagnetic pulse because by comparison our smoke detector was intact and functioning after the incident we witnessed. And let me tell you, the crack of thunder we heard was enough to scare the living daylights out of us.

Elsewhere in the village a blast of some kind shot through buildings from one end to the other, a barn was essentially blown apart, and chickens on that same property were killed and had blood coming from their eyes and beaks. No scortching or burns were seen on the barn or chickens, so it was not a direct hit by lightning. Still, lightning could be the culprit, especially if it was a super bolt that found it’s way to Bell Island from a strong winter storm in the Labrador Sea.

Accoring to this article, How far away from a thunderstorm can lightning strike? at iWeather.com anvil lightning can strike more than 100 miles from a storm. That means it can appear to come out of nowhere, a so-called “bolt from the blue”. Indeed the longest recorded lightning distance was nearly 200 miles, as recorded in Oklahoma in 2007. Maybe that’s what happened here; a record breaking, long distance super bolt that was not recorded by weather monitoring stations at the time.

A Possible Explanation: Super Lightning
I did some serious poking around on the interwebs, because obvi I didn’t have anything else to do this weekend, but I could find no specific data on actual weather events on Bell Island or the surrounding area. However, according to this study published by the Journal of Physical Oceanography, typical storms that form in the Labrador Sea “occur more frequently in winter and spring, about one every 3 to 5 days…” and have a diameter of 500km, 310-ish miles.

Based on that information it is very possible, unbeknownst to Bell Islanders and others nearby, that a strong storm was churning somewhere in the sea north of Newfoundland and a rogue lightning bolt from said storm found its way to Bell Island, blasting holes in the ground and generating an EMP strong enough to shoot electrical arcs out of wall outlets and fry TVs as well as other equipment. A witness across the bay claims to have seen a “white streak” come down from the sky and strike on the island which, if her report is reliable, could have been the only visual confirmation of a super lightning bolt on that day. I’m not sure why the CBC reporter deemed that report unreliable.

Near the end of the news report, Geophysicist Dr. Thomas Gold had this to say to the CBC reporter, “It was a very strange phenomenon alright…” but added that there was “no hint of anything other than electrical phenomenon.” He concluded that it was an electrical discharge, stating, “a very unusual one, and enormous one.” What occurred on Bell Island is probably the most incredible example of a clear air super bolt of lightning from a powerful, distant winter storm.

A strike from super-lightning would also have created an incredible shockwave with potential to blow through buildings, rattle a barn apart and kill chickens within close proximity to the impact. Primary injuries associated with a blast event include ruptured eardrums, and damage to soft tissue and internal organs like the lungs, which could be the reason for the blood evidence on the chickens. So those poor chickens were too close to ground zero.

Holes in the ground? I was curious about that too, but yes, lightning can actually blast a hole in the ground. Here is photographic evidence of a 3 foot diameter hole in a golf course made by a lightning strike and a hole in runway tarmac. Lightning can cause some interesting patterns in grass too.

Ball Lightning
Now what about the glowing ball of energy? Youngster Darrin Bickford was riding his bike when the blast occurred on Bell Island. He commented that he thought something was happening “with the world,” like a bomb attack or something. But after that he witnessed something very strange. He described seeing a ball of light, three feet in diameter, glowing mostly blue with orange around the edge, with sparks.

Ball lightning, though relatively rare, is an unexplained phenomenon associated with electrical storms or other electromagnetic disturbances. For example, ball lightning has been reported in association with seismic activity. Known as earthquake lights there are many theories but the exact mechanism that causes them is unknown.

The electrifying orbs sometimes seen in relation to lightning strikes or in the vicinity of electrical storms are more well known but, like earthquake lights, they aren’t well understood though many theories have been presented to explain them. They happen though, and they appear in various sizes and colors, sometimes with noisy pops or static sounds, sometimes completely silent. In the case of Bell Island that seems like the kind of phenomenon Darrin witnessed. A somehow charged ball of electricity glowing and sparking, floating in the air before him. It happens. There are a lot of things about nature that we don’t understand, but we’re learning.

Back in the late 80’s I saw something I’d describe as ball lightning. Two balls of light actually, late in the evening, floating slowly and silently, side by side just above the power lines. I watched them drift along, above the utility poles until they followed the guy wire on the last pole to ground and disappeared. One of the craziest things I had ever witnessed. I don’t recall any storm activity in my general vicinity, but I can’t say for sure that there wasn’t one in the area. Also, this was in New Jersey and there is very little seismic activity there.

The fact that they rode along the power lines could explain it. Maybe they were just some form of static discharge, like the old tale of the “Hooker Man” I used to hear as a kid. You’d see his lantern drifting down the railroad tracks late a night, apparently the result of some static electricity generated in the metal of the railway escaping into the air. Who knows?

Like the folks on Bell Island back in 1978, I know I saw something weird that I don’t completely understand. If a blast of lightning struck down, on a clear day, and no one saw it except for some lady across the bay, what would you think in that moment? Your just hanging out at your kitchen table and electricity shoots 18 inches out of the wall socket and you hear a massive boom, eh? Your TV burns up. A barn is blasted apart clean of any telltale burn marks. Your chickens are killed by some unseen force, and a kid down the street sees a floating, glowing ball of sparking light. Not to mention the huge holes and marks blasted into the snowy ground nearby.

Lightning is crazy stuff, we know it happens, but happens mostly when there’s a storm around. No storm? No lightning, right? Nope. It can happen and has happened. As I mentioned lightning has struck nearly 200 miles from it’s origin in a storm. Make it a super lightning bolt, 100 times more powerful than your run-of-the-mill lightning, and you have a massively crazy thing happening right there.

So I agree with Dr. Gold on this one: basically a ginormous, freak bolt of lightning from a storm far away. It caught everyone off guard. Nature will continue to play tricks on us, so stay alert my friends. It’s been forty-one years, maybe we’re due. You never know when or where that next super bolt-from-the blue is going to strike.

The Philadelphia Experiment

October, Rocktober, Shocktober… Schlocktober. Whatever kind of -tober you call it, it’s that time of month. The wind turns cold, dead leaves start swirling around in the streets, Home Depot shuffles out their halloween decor. Wait, that was last month, this month they set up all of the Christmas displays.

I can recall a time when Home Depot sold nothing but serious equipment, tools and materials for electricians, plumbers, construction and landscraping professionals. Now Home Depot, et al., are just department stores with lame, jumbo Halloween decorations and plastic Christmas trees, who also happen to stock building materials. And people think the paranormal is weird….

But I digress. It’s October! It’s almost Halloween! It’s that time of year when our minds drift to the supernatural and spooky, the creepy and macabre (the “r” is generally silent there by the way). So, what zany out of this world event didn’t happen this month in unexplained mystery history? I’ve got just the thing…

The Philadelphia Experiment
That’s right, didn’t happen, so stop watching all of those dopey “documentaries” that claim this nonsense is real and get on with the true meaning of the season: fun for fun-sake, bunk for bunk-sake. There doesn’t have to be anything real about any of it, it’s just fun fodder for fertile imaginations.

Now, how do we know that the Philadelphia Experiment didn’t happen? Easy, it’s called “Occam’s Razor.” In short Occam’s Razor is a reasoning tool which can be summed up like this: the simplest explanation is likely the correct one. Write that down.

The following is based on information easily digested at Wikipedia.org. See the main article at that website for any potential references. They did the research, I’m just summarizing.

The Philadelphia Experiment was first proposed in letters received by Morris K. Jessup, a writer on the UFO phenomenon who mostly earned a living as an auto parts salesman and photographer. Though he had a masters degree in astronomy he never persued that field any further than beginning work on and ultimately abandoning his doctorate.

The letters were written by a Carlos Miguel Allende, who also referred to himself as Carl M. Allen in other correspondence to Jessup. The mystery letter sender’s real name was in fact Carl Meredith Allen. Allen was a strange fellow with a very active imagination and just maybe a screw or two loose.

In these letters Allen claimed to have witnessed an experiment which occurred in October of 1943, at the Naval Shipyard in Philadeplphia, involving U.S. Navy ship USS Eldridge, in which the ship was made invisible with some kind of humongous electromagnetic field. Or something like that. After reappearing it was subsequently revealed, somehow to someone, that while invisible the ship had made a short jaunt to to New York and even encountered some aliens along the way.

Sounds fun, except for the part where, upon allegedly reappearing in Philly after its alleged vanishing, some of the crew were allegedly found physically blended with parts of the ship. Not just stuck half way into a wall, but literally part of the wall.

That’s an incredibly fantastical tale, so… Insert decades of bunky nonsense here, regurgitated and revised by countless television shows, documentaries, newspaper articles, books, magazines, websites, forums, podcasts and on and on…

Jessup considered Allen a whack-job, and for good reason: generally speaking Allen was a whack-job. We have it on first-hand account by Robert Goerman, a freelance reporter who has written on various topics in the paranormal camp. During his research into the persona of Carl M. Allen, Goerman found that the truth was closer than he expected. Turns out he was actually acquainted with Allen’s immediate family, though he didn’t know it until he mentioned his research to them during a casual conversation.

It was revealed that Carl M. Allen was literally disturbed and a “creative loner.” Read Goerman’s report on the matter at his website.

So, SLICE… Occam’s Razor cuts a huge chunk of bunk from the story of the Philadelphia Experiment and we come to the more logical, and practical, explanation that Carl Meredith Allen perpetrated a hoax with his letters to Jessup regarding the alleged vanishing of the USS Eldridge in 1943.

The truth is usually right under our noses, but all too often—more like all the time when it comes to the paranormal and “unexplained”—a simmering soup of speculation and stubborn beliefs among dedicated fans of these mysteries creates a sloppy glop of claims and fantastic ideas that obscure the truth, distract and mislead.

But why let the truth stand in the way of a good story?

UFO Over Lake Norman – NC

Last week the interwebs were shaken up by a video in which the poster claimed he saw “a spacecraft” hovering in the distance across Lake Norman, just north of Charlotte, North Carolina.

The interwebs weren’t the only thing shaking. The quality of this video suffers from what my collegues in paranormal pursuits and I refer to as fakey-shakey, jive-jiggle or bullshitter jitter. The guy is shaking the camera, in this case his cellphone, on purpose and so damn much that there is no possible way viewers can see what the hell he is recording.

Take a quick look at the video below and see if you can identify the object…

In fact some sharp-eyed YouTubers have pointed out what the object is likely to be and their suggestions have been corroborrated by GoodYear officials. It was a GoodYear blimp, Wingfoot One specifically—and actually a “semi-rigid” airshit not a blimp—as revealed in a USA Today article about the video.

So the video of the UFO over Lake Norman is actually an IFO, and the guy who made the video knew exactly what he was recording, he’s just a joker.

Still and always I will continue my search for real evidence of the unexplained, but crap like this just fogs the swamp. I’m not holding my breath.

Why Smart Guys think Bigfoot is Real

I have no clue, but I thought that was a good post title.

Many years have I swatted mosquitoes and pinched loafs in the field looking for tracks, listening for wood knocks and sniffing for putrid stinks, other than mine, that are said to accompany these elusive man-beasts. Yet I have found nothing. Nothing!
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