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New hiding place for Nessie…

Photo of the Loch Ness MonsterLast week we introduced a report about the search for Bigfoot that resulted from four years of study. While it doesn’t have the indisputable evidence that we crave, it brought up a number of ideas about why we could look and look and look for something and still not be able to find it.

This week brings us another case where we thought we knew something and there’s more to find. People have been searching for Nessie (the mysterious Loch Ness creature) since 1933. Even though there have been numerous sightings, photos and even video to support the idea that something is in the Loch, no one has been able to locate the creature. How is that possible? Loch Ness only covers about 22 square miles. Yes, it’s a lot of space, but it’s all boxed in. With all of the sophisticated sonar equipment we have along with satellites and everything else that we use to explore we must be able to see everything in there, right?

You would think so, but even with all that a new discovery was made about Loch Ness, a discovery which could make all the difference. There are parts of the Loch that we haven’t yet seen! According to this article from the Daily Record, Keith Stewart, captain of a tourist sightseeing boat, did some new soundings and found an area that is 76 feet deeper than anything that has been measured before. This newly discovered trench could certainly be a hiding place for Nessie and other similar creatures. Here is video of Captain Stewart as they made their historic find.

This discovery calls much into question. Is this the only such trench in the Loch? Could there be other such hiding places? Does this give more credence to the idea some have had that there may be hidden channels between Loch Ness and other bodies of water, allowing creatures to move between others?

Also, it is reasonable that whatever this creature is that it could prefer living at depths. This National Geographic gallery shows a number of creatures that are rarely encountered because they stay deep beneath the surface. We just don’t know!

Perhaps this discovery will lead to a different picture of Loch Ness and different approaches to searching for Nessie.

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Report released from 4-year Bigfoot search

bigfootWhy don’t we have Bigfoot in a cage yet? Why hasn’t he been captured? When do we get definitive proof? How hard can it be?

As it turns out it’s harder than we might imagine. Few of us are actually privy to the painful process of discovery. We find out the results, the path that worked out. We usually aren’t told about the failed theories, the false trails, the dead ends. So, when we look at things like finding Bigfoot it’s easy to get discouraged.

This video, courtesy of KTUL in Tulsa, Oklahoma, outlines the findings of some dedicated Bigfoot after four years of looking. Some of their observations are pretty interesting. They’ve found signs of primate activity. They’ve also found some logic to why it’s difficult to capture the creatures on camera. This video leads you briefly through everything. The full report is available in PDF format.

Does this get us closer? Maybe. They certainly provide some food for thought that other Bigfoot searchers might consider, especially when it comes to technologies. They might even be on the track to get us the proof that we crave. Time will tell, as it always does. We’ll keep watching and waiting.

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What’s better than finding a skeleton under the schoolyard?

Facial reconstruction by forensic archaeologist, Hayley Fisher, shows what the man might have looked like. See the original article from Herald Scotland.

What’s better than finding a skeleton under the schoolyard? How about finding that skeleton might be an executed pirate?!

As part of excavating a playground last year at the Victoria Primary School in Edinburgh the AOC Archaeology Group performed an archaeological survey. This is a common practice, especially in historical areas like where the school resides. Researchers anticipated finding remnants of the Newhaven dockyards, an old harbor and shipbuilding facility from the reign of King James IV. Instead they found the skeletal remains, which were not in good condition.

Around the skeleton they also found shards of 4,000-year-old Bronze Age pottery. They naturally assumed that everything was from the same era until radiocarbon dating showed the skeleton to actually be from the 16th or 17th century. They estimated that the individual was about 50 years old at the time of death and did not die peacefully.

Hanging of William Kidd

Captain Kidd, who was tried and executed for piracy, hanging in chains

Further research into the history of the area showed that there was a gibbet on the Newhaven dockyards. This is reserved for the really bad guys that need to be an example to others. Pirates often fell into this category. It was a sort of cage or other display where an executed pirate would be hung, usually until their body fell apart. The smell must have been lovely.

What do the kids think of this gruesome discovery in their playground?Laura Thompson, Head Teacher at Victoria Primary School, said:

“The pupils think it’s fantastic that a skeleton was found deep underneath their playground. The archaeologists will hold a special lesson with some of the children about how they have used science to analyse the remains and it will be a good learning opportunity for them.”

The video at the end covers a little more detail. Be sure to visit the Museum of the Weird and learn about our own pirate connection.

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Weird New Year Traditions

In an earlier entry I shared some bizarre December traditions around the world. Of course there are some strange choices to ring in the New Year. It may be too late for you to try some of these, but there’s always next year (unless those doomsday guys are finally right this time).

To help you choose I’ve put everything in convenient categories.

Burning things

Stonehaven fireballs 2003

Scots parade through the street swinging fireballs
Photo by MrPurple at English Wikipedia [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Fire is always festive. You could go with the fireworks, but there are so many more interesting things to burn! In Scotland they have the fireball ceremony—the best one is in Stonehaven—where local people of all ages walk through the streets spinning flaming wire cages around their heads. The cages are designed to keep the spinners safe but the onlookers may be vulnerable! The purpose is to burn off the bad spirits from last year and bring the new spirits in clean and fresh.
NYE-burning viejo in Ecuador

Effigy burning in Ecuador
Photo by Carlos Adampol Galindo from DF, México (Fiesta de año nuevo, Vilcabamba, Ecuador) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In Ecuador and Panama they celebrate the New Year by burning scarecrows and effigies of famous people. Ecuadorians also burn photographs from last year. (Unfortunately those embarrassing ones you posted to social media are there forever.)

Wearing things

new-year-red_underwear

Red underwear is a popular item around Christmas in Turkey.

You’ve probably packed that Santa hat away, but there are fun things to wear for the New Year. In South America colorful underwear is encouraged. (Here’s a guide to help you pick the right one.) In Turkey, red is the preferred color and it’s very common for women to receive red panties as a Christmas gift to help them prepare.

In Mexico it’s traditional to wear white for good luck. In Chile they put money in their shoes. Of course, the silly hat is always an option.

Throwing things

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The street is littered with furniture tossed from windows in South Africa as people clear for the new year

What could start the new year better than a little healthy flinging things about. You might follow the lead of the Romanians who toss coins into the river to bring prosperity into the new year. You might bang the walls and doors with Christmas bread like they do in Ireland.

People in Denmark smash old plates on people’s doorsteps. The more broken plates you find on your doorstep the more friends you are seen to have. People actually save dishes throughout the year to have a good stash of ammunition come December.

If you live in an apartment overlooking the street you could delight the neighbors with the Puerto Rican tradition of throwing a bucket of water out the window to drive away evil spirits.

The big winners of the throwing-things competition have to be in Johannesburg, South Africa. They don’t mess around on New Years! They throw old furniture out the windows to make way for new things in the new year!

Eating things

pancakes-with-butter-and-maple-syrup

Enjoy a plate of pancakes as they do in France

You may demand your black eyed peas or tamales on New Year’s eve, but have you thought of eating twelve grapes like they do in Spain (and Puerto Rico). Hungarians enjoy kocsonya (a cold pork aspic) but no fish or chicken, which might cause luck to fly (or swim) away.

Bolivia has a fun tradition of baking coins into cakes and other sweets. If you find one in your sweet you get good luck in the coming year.

If all that sounds too complicated, join the French and just enjoy some pancakes to bring in the new year.

Other things

Need more? Japan really rings in the new year with a ceremony where they ring bells 108 times to correspond to the number of evil desires that need to be cleansed. In Venice they enjoy fireworks over the Piazza San Marco, and a bit of snogging, as many gather to kiss in the new year!. (You can probably try this out at home as well.)

Romanian_bear_dance

Revelers don bear skins for the traditional Romanian bear dance

Animals play a big part in new year traditions around the world. Romanians dance with bears. (I know one that might dance with me if I bought him a drink.) Belgians try to talk to their cows and Romanians talk to other animals. Success means good luck for the year. The people in Brasstown, NC do an “opossum-drop” where an opossum in a transparent box is lowered over a crowd of revelers. (Perhaps this is a new adventure for your cat.)

A Latin tradition is walking your suitcase around the block to encourage travel. What could it hurt?

My favorite tradition, though, is from central Chile. Apparently they have a sort of campout in the graveyard. It apparently all started with a family who broke into the cemetery to be near their dead father. The mayor now opens the yard for a vigil where many gather to remember loved ones.

However you choose to celebrate this new year I hope it is truly prosperous and joyful for you all. Keep it weird!

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A guest sent this weird video

As you can imagine we don’t get the same kind of guests as other more conventional museums. Everyone who visits is interested in weird things. That’s why they come to see our collection of oddities and artifacts that include everything from a Fiji Mermaid to a haunted skeleton. However, some visitors bring a little something of their own. I often talk to guests who have strange tales to tell of things they’ve encountered.

After a tour, one woman told me about the strange things that they experienced in their home. She told me she would send video that showed a ghostly orb. I agreed to blur out the face of her child for privacy, but here is the video that she sent.

Near the end of the video, at about the 5-second mark, you can see a small trace of light that appears from the lower left and rises up to leave the frame to the right. She said that they encountered things like this and had even experienced what seemed to be the spirits of dogs that wandered into the bathroom. She did not feel these were dangerous. In fact, she felt like they gained protection from the watchfulness of these entities.

Shadowman-3

Shadowman by Timitzer
[CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

We have guests who have shared their experiences with Bigfoot, UFOs, and other strange encounters.

Not all are positive stories. Another guest shared that he had multiple encounters with Shadow People. They seem to have followed him as he has moved to different locations and he experiences tension and dread from these encounters.

Most of the tales, however, are one-time events, brief encounters that have no real evidence, but they know what they saw, what they experienced. They just seem glad to find someone who can hear the story and appreciate it for what it is, a bizarre experience that they can never forget.

We take such tales seriously and offer help to those who need it. Some are interested in advice on how to deal with such entities and want to do a clearing to remove them. Others are willing to share space with the spirits and just want to better understand how to get along.

We always welcome the weird experiences of our guests. If you have bizarre pictures or video that you want to share let us know and we’ll try to include your encounters in future blogs. In the mean time, know that the Museum is a place where such things are definitely respected. To coin a phrase: “We are ready to believe you!”

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Is this how it all ends?

''Four Horsemen of Apocalypse'', by Viktor Vasnetsov. Painted in 1887.In the midst of the big holiday season there’s nothing like giving a little thought to the end of the world. While wars, pestilence, disease, and alien invasion are still the favorite stories, there is a danger lurking out there that we can’t really do anything about.

It’s the sun! This video talks about how the sun might take us out.

Pretty scary stuff, eh? Of course, if it was to happen, what could we do? Would we even have time to react? The sun is eight light minutes away from the earth, which means that its light take eight minutes to reach us. An event might be hurling something slower, but it’s likely to come quickly.

There might be signs, though. Who’s keeping an eye on this? SOHO, or the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, has been keeping an eye on things for 20 years. They even have software you can use to see what’s happening with the sun. The video said that we could get about 15 hours of warning if a serious event were to occur. Since a lot of the damage is more to our infrastructure and our electrical system than to our persons it’s likely we could just shut down for a while and everything would be fine. Of course, we’ve never really been through it like this before so we don’t know exactly what will happen.

So, just go about your business, and pay no attention to that big yellow ball that is watching and waiting in the sky.

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Try these weird Christmas traditions

It’s December and the final holidays of the year are in full swing. Christmas gets most of the attention, but it’s certainly not the only one in town. Mental Floss has an article featuring a few other holidays you might want to celebrate this year.

Of course, if you are going to stick with Christmas, there are many strange traditions available there as well. This infographic on Love Home Swap has a list to view, but we’ve grabbed some favorites for you right here.

Strange foods

Every holiday has it’s foods. Thanks to the 1983 film A Christmas Story, a generation of people in the United States (and maybe around the world) think about having Chinese food for Christmas dinner, but there are other bizarre traditions. Try one of these:

Mopane-worm-meal

A delicious dish of mopane worms
Photo by Ling Symon [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons”

South Africans enjoy a traditional delicacy of fried mopane worms. These are actually caterpillars for the Emperor Moth. They are high in protein and can be prepared as a simple fried snack or an elaborate dish like the picture.If that’s not to your taste, you might enjoy some Greenland traditions. Have a little Mattak (also known as Muktuk), made from raw whale skin. If that’s too tame, and you really want to do it up right you might prepare Kiviak. That’s essentially 400-500 whole auk birds that are left to ferment in a hollowed-out seal carcass for 3-18 months. The fermentation softens the auks so that every part can be eaten except for the feathers. I guess there’s a bucket for those. Kiviak is best served cold and outdoors. (That will never come out of the drapes!)Of course, you don’t have to go for something that exotic. An advertising campaign in 1974 left ripples in time as many Japanese families eat at KFC on Christmas Eve. This is especially interesting as the day is not a national holiday in Japan and not widely celebrated there.

Bizarre decorations

If the person across the street has had their Christmas decorations up since before Halloween you can add a little challenge to the scene with some of these lovely twists on the traditional holiday theme.

Caganer-2012-Barcelona - 01

This will get the neighbors’ attention!
Photo by Roeland P. [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Christmas spider ornaments ukraine

Ukraine spider decoration on a Christmas tree
Photo by Erika Smith [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons”

Tió de Nadal

Isn’t this little guy cute? Photo by Slastic [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

If you really want to get some attention you might consider adding the Catalonian caganer to your crèche this season. The BBC has a full article on this little bad boy, but it’s basically a figure defecating (yes you read that right). It’s been a part of decorations in this area of Spain for about two centuries. Why? It probably started as a joke in poor taste and then marketing got hold of it. Caganer figures come in an enormous variety of styles. You can even find pictures of giant displays in the shopping centers.

If the poo theme has appeal, you can continue it with another Catalonian tradition called the Tio de Nadal. As this article on Atlas Obscura explains, this is an adorable decorated log which is filled with presents for the family. It is cared for and even given a blanket to keep it warm. Finally, on Christmas Eve the little guy is put into the fireplace and the family takes turns beating it while commanding it to poop out presents. It’s like a piñata but Quentin-Tarantino-style.

I have to admit that I like the Ukrainian style for decorating trees. Along with the traditional decorations they include spider webs and spiders. This tradition stems from a legend about a poor widow and her children who were excited to find a pine tree growing next to their house, meaning they would have a Christmas tree. However, they were too poor to decorate it. The spiders in the area heard their tears and spent the night covering the tree with their intricate webs. When the family awoke they found the tree covered in the ethereal silken lace. As the sun rose and the golden rays touched the webs they turned each one into silver and gold and the widow and her children never wanted for anything again.

So, don’t put all those Halloween decorations away!

Supernatural beings

Jólakötturinn will get you if you don't get new clothes.

Jólakötturinn will get you if you don’t get new clothes.

Kallikatzaros

Kallikatzaros by ΟΕΔΒ 1961 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

You’ve all heard about Santa Claus, and you’ve probably been hearing plenty about Krampus lately, but there are plenty of other interesting creatures who reward and terrorize people for Christmas. Try these on for size:

Cats are notoriously dangerous to Christmas trees, but in Iceland the Yule Cat (or Jólakötturinn) will devour anyone who doesn’t receive a new item of clothing. Socks probably count. We don’t know about ties. This seems to be a more recent tradition, started in the 19th century, but so did the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future. We don’t require our child-devouring beasts to be ancient, as long as children are being devoured. (…so buy someone some socks!)

You might also experience a horde of  Kallikantzaroi from Greece, evil goblins that lurk underground but escape to the surface for the 12 days of Christmas, wreaking havoc. They are essentially destructive hooligans but rather than wearing sports team paraphernalia they are black-haired, dog-faced creatures with goat hooves.

A wine-drinking, present-delivering Christmas witch? Sign us up!

A wine-drinking, present-delivering Christmas witch? Sign us up!

Of course, not all supernatural creatures of the season are bad. Some are rather nice. For example, In Italy, the friendly witch, Befana, delivers toys and sweets on the 5th of January. (Clever that, because everything is on the after-holiday sale!) She sounds like a hoot, too, flying around on her broom delivering presents for good children—leaving coal for the naughty ones—and consuming wine left as a gift for her.

So, there you have it! Several interesting traditions you can use to spice up your holiday. Of course, you should also add the tradition of visiting the Museum of the Weird to pick up some unique gifts and see our exhibits. See you soon!

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Shocking Black Friday Carnage (video)

In the camps people begin to stir. They have waited restlessly for days, leaving family and friends behind for a grim existence without luxury. While others gathered around the Thanksgiving table, they remained vigilant, preparing for this moment. Now the day is upon them.

Adrenaline quickly overcomes the bleariness of fatigue in the predawn hour, but this is not something that arrives with the sun. The attack has been coming for days and planned for weeks. Notes are consulted as each objective is confirmed. Time to go to the line.

Everyone tries to keep their focus, surrounded by enemies. “Keep your mind on the target,” one of them thinks, nervously pumping her legs in place to deal with the waiting…the endless waiting.

Finally, suddenly, the signal is given. Darkness gives way to blazing light as the doors are flung open. The line surges forward. There! There! There is the first objective! It’s in view. The throng lunges, but not everyone makes it in the first wave. Some are cast aside, the first casualties of the day, as Black Friday has begun.


Yes, its the day of dystopian shopping, where individuals from all walks of life turn into a snarling mob that looks more like something from a Mad Max movie than a start to the holidays. We don’t have any footage of this year’s carnage yet, but here are some highlights of  incredible scenes from last year.

According to this article from the Huffington Post,  the term Black Friday has nothing to do with businesses getting “into the black.” The term was coined by the Philadelphia Police sometime in the 1960s to describe the mayhem they experienced trying to keep the peace in terrible crowds and traffic as shoppers descended on the city. According to this blog, the term was not really appreciated by retailers as late as 1985. Of course, all of that changed when some marketers decided they could stir things up with customers using the term and it has all gotten more insane ever since.

LuckyLizardBlackFridayI’ll try to update this with some current footage when it becomes available, but you won’t find me out there getting it first hand. I’m going to rest comfortably in my bed and then I’ll see you at the Museum of the Weird tonight.

Of course, the Lucky Lizard is offering a great deal, that doesn’t require you to get up early. This entire weekend you can get 25% off almost everything in the store with the purchase of a museum ticket. Get away from the madness of the malls and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of our mummies, shrunken heads and other amazing oddities. It’s all November 27-29. See you there!

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Thanks for everything

Digital collage of Thanksgiving dinner themes

HappyTurkeyDay!!
Digital art by Lewis Minor [cc-by]

Today is the day when the United States has our traditional Thanksgiving holiday. There are many stories about the history of Thanksgiving, but today it is largely recognized as a day where families and friends gather with a celebration of food and often football.

Of course, we aren’t the only ones to have a day to focus on gratitude. Many cultures have such days with many different customs. Honestly, it’s always a good day to give thanks for what you have.

Here at the Museum of the Weird we are grateful to have spent the last 10 years sharing our unique collection with people of the world. We are grateful for the thousands of people who come through our door and appreciate our oddities and share with their own friends. We are grateful for the employees and performers who passionately help us share all of this. We are grateful that the city of Austin is a place where we can be as weird as we need to be and it’s just not a problem. There are some cities where you can’t really do that. (Trust us on that!)

The Museum is closed today so everyone can be with friends and family. Please enjoy this blast from the past, a classic “Weird Al” Yankovic video that seems appropriate to the day. Of course, we’ll be back tomorrow. If your Black Friday gets too dark or you just want to get away from the hoards of zombie shoppers come and take some time away in the quiet of our mummies, shrunken heads, and two-headed animals. You might even find the perfect gift in our shop for those unique people in your life.

All the best to you and yours.

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Astronaut’s “UFO” tweet only latest in long history of encounters

At 3:56 PM on November 15, 2015 astronaut Scott Kelly posted the following Tweet from his year-long sojourn on the International Space Station. Do you see what we see in the top right corner?

Screenshot of Scott Kelly's tweet Let’s look at that a little more closely.

Enlargement of tweet photo showing a strange, cigar-shaped object with lights on either side.

Some say this is merely a reflection captured in the picture. Others suggest it was a subtle way for Kelly to share something that has been controversial for astronauts to discuss since the 1960s, encounters with UFOs. This article on syti.net reports some of the amazing encounters that astronaut have apparently had with extraterrestrials since the earliest reaches into space. Here are the highlights:

  • Major Gordon Cooper – Orbiting the earth in a Mercury capsule, May 15, 1963, he reported a glowing, greenish object approaching him. The object registered on the tracking station’s radar, so it was substantial. He had an earlier sighting as an F-86 pilot of metallic, saucer-shaped disks flying over Western Germany.
  • Donald Slayton –Another Mercury astronaut also saw an unexplained object in 1951 while testing a P-51 fighter in Minneapolis.
  • Robert White – While doing a high-altitude flight of an X-15 in 1962 he saw a “grayish” object “about thirty to forty feet away.”
  • Joseph A. Walker – Also executing X-15 flights, he filmed strange objects during high flights.

The most startling information is the following exchange that was picked up by ham radio operators who were eavesdropping on the NASA broadcasts during Apollo 11, July 21, 1969.

NASA: Whats there? Mission Control calling Apollo 11…

Apollo11: These “Babies” are huge, Sir! Enormous! OH MY GOD! You wouldn’t believe it! I’m telling you there are other spacecraft out there, Lined up on the far side of the crater edge! They’re on the Moon watching us!

Later, a professor (who prefers to remain anonymous) was talking to Armstrong about his experiences at a NASA symposium. He reported the following discussion.

Professor: What REALLY happened out there with Apollo 11?

Armstrong: It was incredible, of course we had always known there was a possibility, the fact is, we were warned off! (by the Aliens). There was never any question then of a space station or a moon city.

Professor: How do you mean “warned off”?

Armstrong: I can’t go into details, except to say that their ships were far superior to ours both in size and technology – Boy, were they big! and menacing! No, there is no question of a space station.

Professor: But NASA had other missions after Apollo 11?

Armstrong: Naturally – NASA was committed at that time, and couldn’t risk panic on Earth. But it really was a quick scoop and back again.

Are these exaggerations? misquotes? misunderstandings? Is there a cover-up? The original syti.net article cites other stories with links to additional material.

Are we heading toward some big revelations involving alien life? The recent Mars disclosures are preparing us for bigger news. Perhaps it’s true. I could certainly handle the truth, as long as it’s not like the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man.” (If you haven’t seen it you really need to. It’s on Hulu.)

I guess we continue to wait and wonder.

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