Hallowe’en Comes Early

Hallowe’en has crept early upon the Uncanny City. I’m going to kick the season off with an unsettling personal experience that is absolutely true. So pause in your pumpkin-carving, shut down the cobweb-making machine just for a moment, and pull up a rickety chair. And you may want to toss another log on the fire, because the air is about to get noticeably chillier, and shadows will encroach . . .

Pittsburgh's sprawling and picturesque Allegheny Cemetery

These photos were actually taken a year ago, in very early November, as I recall.

The grave of Stephen Foster, American songwriter, 1826-1864

We have some amazing cemeteries here in Pittsburgh. Chief among the ones I’ve seen is the nearly endless Allegheny Cemetery, which seems to go on forever in all directions. Yes, Stephen Foster is buried there.

Autumn colors blaze in Allegheny Cemetery.

The true experience I am about to relate takes place in Allegheny Cemetery. It happened just a couple weeks ago, in mid-September.

Toward evening, shadows lengthen.

Some friends who are photographers were in the cemetery one afternoon to take pictures of the beautiful, somber, and intriguing work of many a stone-crafter, both mason and sculptor. And I was there, too.

Now, one of my friends has a two-year-old daughter, who also came along that day, playing and wandering among the headstones, rolling in the grass, enjoying the slanting light and crisp air of fall.

This little girl, whom I’ll call “Abbie” (not her real name), is a precocious two-year-old, who knows the names of many people, animals, numbers, and letters. She likes other babies and loves to point them out. When she sees a baby nearby, or in a picture, or on TV, she’ll announce, “Baby! Baby!” In some cases, when something looks like a baby, she’ll identify it as such. For example, when we watched Princess Mononoke and she saw the little forest-spirits with the hairless, rattly heads, she said, “Baby! Baby!”

Well, as we wandered through the cemetery that afternoon, every so often, Abbie would glance toward our right or left and say, “Baby! Baby!” But we could see no one there. We saw only grassy expanses, trees, and the unending rows of gravestones marching away over the hillsides. “Baby!” Abbie would say, never quite pointing. She seemed neither happy nor alarmed; she was just making an observation.

Mausoleum, Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh

After a few minutes, she would look around quizzically and ask, “Where baby? Where baby?” She wasn’t seeing the baby any more. Then, another five or ten minutes later, she’d look to one side of the path and say “Baby!” We tried hard but couldn’t see anything she might be identifying as a “baby.” There were no cherubic statues, no baby photos on grave markers. Once, Abbie’s mother pointed at a seraph, a distinctly adult-looking angel statue, and asked, “Is that a baby?” Abbie displayed no reaction or interest.

It gets even more bizarre. This is probably the most photogenic and intriguing mausoleum in the cemetery. When we got near it — and only near it — Abbie did something I’ve never seen her do before, and not since. She raised both hands and grasped the hair above her ears/at her temples and began to stagger, moving in an aimless, disoriented path back and forth, almost in circles. Her face wore a dazed, puzzled expression . . . as if her head were filled with a sound she’d never heard before — a continuous, pervasive sound that confused her.

One of the other adults remarked that it looked as though Abbie were “being drawn by some force.” (Those were the exact words she used.) When we moved away from the mausoleum, this odd behavior ceased, and Abbie went right on playing and exploring.

Afterward, we theorized that children may be receptive to sights, sounds, and impressions that we adults are not. Does the passing of years place in us a “filter” that screens out the unseen world? What presence, visible only to Abbie, may have tagged along with us across the stone-lined lawns that afternoon, perhaps curious, perhaps glad for some company — perhaps, a carefree juvenile like Abbie herself, exploring the strangeness and wonder of an afternoon outdoors in autumn? And what hum or whispering filled the air around that crumbling house of the dead?

So there it is: the beginning of the Hallowe’en season here in Pittsburgh, and there, wherever you are. It’s time for the telling of tales. Does anyone care to contribute an unsettling account of your own? Every family has its share of weird tales — the thing that happened to Great-Uncle Bob that night out behind the horse barn, or that face Aunt Bonnie saw at the window of her house on Coal Street. You can change names freely and pretend it’s the experience of some other family; the important thing is the story! It needn’t even be something that happened to anyone you know. It could be a rumor handed down at your junior high school . . . something you read or heard or saw on TV . . . or perhaps just an impression you had. Remember that one house in the town you lived in as a kid? — that one house out by the railroad tracks where the woods began, that you were always sure wasn’t quite right. Describe a creepy place to us!

Let us tell tales, all you who delight in a good Hallowe’en yarn. I’ll jump in with a few more myself! If you’re absolutely stuck, you can throw out a “What if you . . .?” scenario — my anonymous friend Chris and I used to have hours of fun with that as kids! We’d try to come up with the eeriest, scariest scenarios we could, always putting the other person into them as the main character, always trying to top the one before. “What if you were out at night in the woods behind the pond, because you realized you’d left your mom’s jeweled brooch down there when you were playing earlier, and you had to get it back by all means, and then you saw . . .” [Never mind that we never played in those woods even in the daytime; or that neither of our moms had a “jeweled brooch”; or that either of us would have had any interest in playing with such — but THE POINT IS, you’re in the woods at night, and . . .]

So (almost) anything goes! What tales are there? Who will tell us a story for the long-shadow season?

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42 Responses to “Hallowe’en Comes Early”

  1. jhagman Says:

    When I worked at Borders Books in Thousand Oaks, CA, I worked with a retired Professor from Pepperdine Univ. His name is George, and this is what he related. While leading a kid’s club visit to the ship the Queen Mary in Long Beach, he went up an escalator, and looked behind him and saw a group of bellhops in what looked like old period costumes, he thought it was for some attraction on the ship, he said nodded to them and they nodded back, he looked forward towards his group up the escalator, and looked behind him again to ask about the attraction, and they had vanished. He is the Sciencey sort (like Chris) and did not know what to make of the experience.

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Great story, jhagman! Thank you!

      By the way, for those of you who receive electronic notices of my new posts in your e-mail: I hope you just treat them as alerts and actually read the posts on the blog itself. The versions that come to my in-box look really bad — poor formatting, distorted fonts, etc.

    • Chris Says:

      My wife and I visited the Queen Mary in Long Beach a couple years back. There’s the “haunted cabin” that is on the tour we took. I believe it is Cabin B340. Apparently it is closed off (except for tours) now due to the extent of paranormal activity in there.

  2. I am Mr Brown Snowflake Says:

    Ahhhh … October! Just look at the beauty of nature in Fred’s photos, to say nothing of the incredible stone work on display. Crisp air, cool temps, red-gold above your head and under your feet … October!

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      To quote from Dragonfly: “Black cats come east, come south, who knows from where, just for this season, just to see it. The days are warm yet cold, clear yet hazy; the world lives but dies. And the sun, pretending that it’s not losing its grip, that none of this is happening, pours down more and more light that’s all the while thinner and thinner. “

  3. I am Mr Brown Snowflake Says:

    And the trees are stripped bare
    Of all they wear
    What do I care

    And kingdoms rise
    And kingdoms fall
    But you go on…and on…

  4. Daylily Says:

    What if you lived out in the country where it can be quite dark at night (I do), and what if you heard an owl hooting night after night (I did), and what if you decided to actually go out there to see if you could spot that owl?

  5. Marquee Movies Says:

    DON’T DO IT, DAYLILY! COME BACK! COME BACK! DON’T GO OUT THERE………..oh, boy. I don’t see her anymore. I’ll just wait here, and turn some lights on…..

  6. jhagman Says:

    According to folklore, it is time to freak when you see owls in the daytime,,,and Fred, you should only freakout when small children say “redrum, redrum”.

  7. Marquee Movies Says:

    (Wakes up with a start.) Huh? Wha…..oh, I fell asleep in this chair waiting for Daylily. Let me just go see if…..no, she never came back. Maybe she did, and has just left really early to go to the store. Without her purse. Or shoes. Oh, boy……

    • Chris Says:

      Well, at least you tried. Except for the “falling asleep” part, but when people die grisly deaths in the woods just out of earshot it can get awfully boring just _waiting_ for them to return. I don’t blame you for falling asleep or anything. I totally understand.

  8. Daylily Says:

    And what if the horned owl were a shape-shifter? I did not hear the owl last night, but I did see a hawk at the top of the dead tree back of the meadow. Occasionally, I have seen a bobcat crossing our meadow. Suppose it’s just ONE animal with shape-shifting powers . . . it’s pretty dark out there tonight, cloudy, no moon . . . I think I’ll just stay right here and turn on LOTS of lights . . . Hey, what’s that noise outside the window . . . AAAAAHHH!!

  9. Marquee Movies Says:

    Oh, no! I can NOT believe this happened on my watch. Daylily, I TOLD you to be careful. Chris seems to be the only one around here who understands that it’s NOT my fault that Daylily got carried off by…..something. Whether or not it infected her, we may not know for a while. In fact, if she posts on here again, we have NO way of knowing if that’s REALLY her, or….a shape shifting amalgamation of her. I’m also upset because she really did turn on a whole bunch of lights before this happened, and I always thought that would ward off evil spirits. Well, I’ll just sit down here, and….No. NO! This is where I fell asleep last time. I’ll just sit over here, and wait for her to come back. I’m sure she’d want me to do that, instead of run willy nilly (and pell mell) into the woods after her. Just sitting, waiting. I’ll give her tons of support when she comes back. You know….when that happens. (Yawns.)

  10. Marquee Movies Says:

    By the way, I think that was one of Fred’s favorite books, “I Did Not Hear The Owl Last Night.” Think I’ll read it while I wait. (Yawns again.)

    • Daylily Says:

      IT was as black as a moonless country night during a power outage. IT flowed stickily under the front door, bringing with it an overpowering stench of rot and mold. My mind raced: Weapons! Too far from the kitchen to grab a knife and what good would that be against this amorphous nightmare . . . What if I sang at it? Is it so evil that anything good is a weapon against it? The Rachmaninoff “Vocalise” leaped to mind. So I took in a breath (oh, the gut-wrenching reek of the Thing!) and sang as beautifully as I could . . .

      • Marquee Movies Says:

        I find it ominous that Daylily hasn’t posted since, even while I am very impressed over the fact that she used her beautiful singing voice as a weapon. Yet another part of me wonders if the REAL Daylily would have chosed that particular piece to sing. Now I don’t know what’s real, what’s not, who’s alive, who’s not….I can still smell the rot and mold, though there’s nothing here…..and the door cracks and whines when I swing it open and closed, as though the bottom was poorly glued to the ground. Guess I’ll just have to wait….for SOME Daylily to appear…..hope it’s really her.

  11. fsdthreshold Says:

    This is an absolutely true story: I got home a few minutes ago, in the dark, after visiting some friends. On the sidewalk outside my door, I met a skunk! He assumed a defensive posture of alarm (unlike the groundhogs, who really do not care if I’m walking through their yard in the daytime). I assessed the situation. The skunk was ten or twelve feet away, and his head was still pointing toward me; and to get to my door, I only had to move at an angle, not directly toward him. So I projected my best calming aura, mentally told him everything was cool, and let myself in. Fortunately, he projected nothing.

    But having read Daylily’s comment, I wonder . . . was it REALLY a skunk, or was it a groundhog (or cat) dressed up for Hallowe’en?

    The Japanese have many folkloric stories of the tanuki, a badger-like animal (maybe it is an actual badger, though the dictionary defines it as “raccoon dog”) that is widely-considered to be a shape-shifter and rather bumbling, lovable trickster (as opposed to the fox, which is more of a shrewd, sinister shape-shifting trickster). I’ve seen stuffed tanuki (they are real animals) that are physically combined with other objects, such as pots & pans (like the Borg) — which shows that they are in the act of morphing into a common pot or pan to fool the unwary. (Japanese taxidermists apparently have a lot of time on their hands. And some extra pans.) So maybe that creature I saw was a tanuki, coming to see what has become of me. He assumed the shape of a skunk to blend in with the local fauna.

    But speaking of owls — has anyone seen The Fourth Kind? It was possibly the scariest film I’ve ever seen in a theater. Well, one of the two scariest. To quote one line: “That wasn’t an owl . . .” EEEEEEEEEEE! (After seeing that movie, I walked back to my apartment through a heavy, silent snowfall in the dead of night. Creep-o-rama!)

    While I’m here, I’ll add this: in the wee hours of this morning (after a long, long day of work), I took my trash out to the alley for the morning pickup. And the neighborhood lay in the clutches of a magnificent fog! All the streetlights wore glowing halos; the little forest of my backyard loomed out of the vapor; surfaces glistened. After putting down my trash, even though it was quite late and I needed to be in bed, I stopped and turned in a few wondering circles, admiring a time when no one was about, and October was settling in, moving into town in the blackest hours like the carnival of Cougar and Dark in Something Wicked This Way Comes.

    It’s unseasonably warm here these days — up in the seventies — and I am LOVING it! On my daily walks, I see the first trees igniting into shades of red and orange on the mountainsides.

    I bought two pumpkins today!

    • Chris Says:

      Just be thankful it wasn’t a HONEYBADGER!

      *For those not as hip as yours truly you may wish to do a YouTube search on the honeybadger. Look specifically for the one with “Original Narration by Randall” and you will see what is probably the Sir David Attenborough of our time, the greatest wildlife documentary I’ve seen in quite some time!

      Speaking of skunks: every year skunk highway opens up through our neighborhood and one of the reststops is our back yard! Our fierce hounds (Fleshy and Spot) are, over the years, learning one doesn’t necessarily tangle with the stiped “kittycat”.

      Year 1: Spot sprayed directly in face and it was literally dripping off him in yellow rivulets as he gagged and vomitted.
      Year 2: Fleshy sprayed very badly.
      Year 3: Fleshy sprayed from a significant distance.
      We hold our hope that Year 4 = “RUN AWAY!!!”

      Ironically enough Fleshy met an opossum in our back yard one night and didn’t bark or attack it. THe opossum, however just stood hissing at him. He stood a respectful distance away and just stared. He might have been wondering why the opossum had tail like his own but was wearing a fur coat.

      Either way Fleshy is predicted to die an interesting death. At least we’ve been predicting that for the past 5 years after he decided it would be a good idea to eat some pantyhose.

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        Chris, I CANNOT BELIEVE you brought up THE HONEY BADGER! When I was writing that comment, I was within about an inch of making a honey badger joke, but I thought, nah, no one will get it.

        So, yes — that video (the one with original narration by Randall) is hysterical. Suffice it to say, the honey badger is the Chuck Norris of animals. “The honey badger doesn’t [care].”

  12. Lance Latham Says:

    Western PA always gave me the heebie jeebies around this time.

  13. Elizabeth Says:

    I’m reminded by incidents like this one with Abbie that as much as the United States is a “young” country (and don’t even get me started on *why* that is), there are old things that walk among us and sometimes they are peaceable enough, and other times… we should have the good sense to wander away.

  14. Marquee Movies Says:

    This doesn’t really qualify as a scary supernatural story, though it did happen to me, and it’s one of the most frightened I’ve ever been in my life. Back when I was living in an apartment, I had a wonderful dark gray cat (I called him Doctor). We were very close – he’d sleep next to my pillow at night, and would wake me if his dish was empty by biting (without ever puncturing) me gently on the face. I had finished a shift at Barnes and Noble, and gotten home around 12. I probably had a frozen pizza, futzed around, and then, around 2:00, still too wired to sleep, I put on the movie I had rented. It was called Dreamscape, with Dennis Quaid. Not a great film, but it had some vivid and scary dream imagery, which always gives me the SHIVERS, to quote Owen Meany. (This is the movie that gave Wes Craven the idea to create Freddy Krueger – in one scary dream sequence, Dreamscape’s killer sports knives for fingers.) So I was watching the movie, on the futon, with the Doctor sitting next to me, and a particularly scary scene came on. I was pretty into the movie experience by now – it’s (literally) the middle of the night, no outside sounds or signs of life, all the lights were out (of course), and movies with eerie and unsettling dream sequences are always very effective for me. Then, for the first and only time ever, this happened. The Doctor leapt from his sleeping position next to me to an attack position. It was like a lightning bolt – he hissed, arched his back, and spun so he was facing my front door – all with the speed of a balloon being popped. He was terrified, and went into attack position. I, on the other hand, was terrified, but reacted differently. I leapt from the futon, holding my parallel-to-the-ground position for a few seconds, then, going “Ah! Ah! Ah!” I ran around yelling willy nilly while turning every light on in the place. The Doctor’s back was still arched, his fur sticking out – he made himself look much larger – again, the only time I ever saw him do this. He was still staring at my front door. I went over (and yes, I was nervous about doing even this), and looked through the peephole. I didn’t see anything. I probably put the chain on. When I came back to the futon, the Doctor had calmed down a bit. I probably yelled at him for scaring the living %&(&^ out of me, but he held his ground, knowing he had reacted properly. I finished watching the movie with him, but I left ALL the lights on. I’ve always wondered what it was that made him react like that. He was a great, great cat. I miss him terribly. One of the first gifts my wife ever gave me was a candle holder that was shaped like a black cat standing up. She knew how much I love Halloween, and how much I loved that cat. I never put it away – it’s there now, on a lower shelf. I guess that means I celebrate Halloween all year around, and I remember a dark gray cat all year too. I always will.

  15. morwenna Says:

    Marquee, thanks for this tribute to Doctor. He sounds like he was a very special cat.

    Fred, it seems that a tanuki sneaked into your luggage before you left Japan. It cleared customs disguised as a frying pan, but now . . .

    • Marquee Movies Says:

      Thank you, Morwenna! He really was something special – it’s nice to get to honor him in this realm of stories.

  16. Chris Says:

    When I watch a scary movie usually I am immediately drawn into them if they “claim” to be based on real events. Oh sure I don’t believe in the supernatural anymore, but the idea of a “true horror story” fascinates me. I make a few exceptions like “Blair Witch” and “Paranormal Activity” mainly because they got horror “right”.

    Horror movies should _never_ try to “explain” what is going on. They should never try to develop a “rationale” for the goings on, and certainly the plots should never ever involve them “enacting some thought out plan based on rational analysis of the supernatural thing in which they themselves have to get involved in the supernatural”. By that I mean like in the movie Poltergeist. Where they realize their child is in some extradimension and they formulate a “plan” to get her back out. It ruins the real ambiance of “horror”.

    My absolute favorite “true” horror story is the story of the Phelps Haunting in Connecticut. If you are unfamiliar with the story there are several descriptions of it on the internet. I original ran across it in a book called “Passing Strange” by Joseph Citro (who writes about New England ghost stories). It has a sort of kind of “explanation” but the goings on were SO INCREDIBLY CREEPY and inexplicable and so “out of the bounds of normal haunting events” (clothing form all over the house being found stuffed and posed in various “groupings” and the like) as to make it a quite disturbing.

    There are other stories in Citro’s books about New England hauntings that are truly scary because they don’t even come close to having an “explanation”, they just “are”.

    Then there’s the strange tale of the settlers on Cape Ann. Cape Ann was our favorite cape when my wife and I lived in the Boston area. It has an interesting pre-Revolutionary “weird” tale associated with it as well.

    But for good scary “true haunting” reading some time, dig around for a good detailed telling of the Phelps Mansion haunting in Connecticut from the mid-1800’s.

    THEN try sleeping with all the lights out for a while. 🙂

  17. I am Mr Brown Snowflake Says:

    Well I was sure wrong. I thought “Emprical Data, Irrefutable Evidence” Chris would assail ghost stories and hauntings as silliness but instead he plays right along. Hmmphh.

    I get a kick out of all these ridiculous paranormal and ghost-hunting shows on the cable channels. Not once, not EVER, has there been a video, a single image, a recording, of anything that cannot be explained away by using ‘modern science.’ (said in overly-dramatic 1950’s-era voice-over).

    As Han said, “It is all a bunch of simple tricks and nonsense.”

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Mr. Brown Snowflake,
      I’m as surprised by your reaction as you were by Chris’s! (I could be misunderstanding you, though.) Oh, I’m not defending shows on cable TV–not at all–but speaking about the paranormal in general (which maybe you weren’t):

      One aspect of Catholicism that I’ve always deeply admired is how Catholics are quite often more comfortable with Mystery than many Protestants are. (I know I’m making sweeping generalizations.) The Catholic Church seems to me to retain the awareness that the world is full of dark corners that are not fully understood (or even understandable). All too often, Protestants insist that everything be well-lighted and defined. But that’s not the way the universe is. There are shadows everywhere. Some may be plumbed and “understood” on some level. Some defy analysis.

      Are you saying there are no inexplicable “ghostly” phenomena, or are you saying that cable TV hasn’t produced any?

  18. I am Mr Brown Snowflake Says:

    Shucks … I have been found out! Truth be told, I was just trying to goad Chris.

    I do think the cable shows are silly, just as I think Bigfoot, Nessie, Champs, the yeti, etc. are silly.

    As far as Mystery … THAT I believe in. There are, I believe (and as you noted) “shadows everywhere.” Battles are being waged for souls even as we sit here. As far as one Paul of Tsarsis was concerned, we must “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” because he knew there is Evil out there longing to devour us.

    I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth, of all that is seen and unseen

  19. jhagman Says:

    Wait a minute,,,Nessie and Bigfoot aren’t real? And who the Hell is “Champs”? Perhaps some creature native to Iowa that you mid-westerners discuss over Pabst Blue Ribbon,Mac&Cheese?

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Oh, I’m totally on this answer! “Champ” is the monster of Lake Champlain. If we’re talking cryptozoology, it’s my pet subject. I don’t read nearly as many books as I’d like to, but I DO have a pretty good track record at reading every book about cryptids I can get my hands on. I’ve read a whole lot about Bigfoot, the Mothman, and the Wisconsin “Dog Man” — the books by “true believers,” the books by skeptics, and the books by everyone in between. I think it’s becoming less and less likely that there’s an actual unknown, living, breathing hominid out there in the Pacific Northwest. HOWEVER, I think it’s also impossible to dismiss many of the sightings, much of the track evidence, and even the Patterson-Gimlin film. It may be a hoax, or it may not be. Certain aspects of Patterson’s and Gimlin’s story are questionable. But Dr. Grover Krantz, in his book Bigfoot Sasquatch Evidence, lays out an awfully convincing case that physically/mathematically, the image in the film doesn’t move like a human being. Skeptics assert that the figure has human characteristics that are non-ape-like. Well . . . what are you expecting from a creature that, hypothetically, is somewhere between ape and man? Shouldn’t it have some “human” characteristics?

      So what are we to make of this? People keep encountering something, but we can’t nail it down or produce hard, lasting evidence. It seems that whatever is out there, it may not be there all the time. It may be a temporary manifestation of some phenomenon that seems to adapt itself to different eras, taking on the “trappings” of what people of that era and location are inclined to see. One example: when our technology was simpler, people saw “phantom airships.” When we developed planes and rockets, these apparitions became “flying saucers from other worlds.” Dragons . . . fairies . . . ghosts . . . the Kraken . . . vampires . . . werewolves . . . wild men . . . sasquatch . . . UFOs . . . Mothman . . . men in black . . . chupacabras . . . just for the sake of argument, could it be that one single phenomenon is wearing many faces, jerking our chains for reasons unknown? It would explain a great deal. If you’re going to read just one book on the paranormal, I would recommend The Mothman Prophecies, by John Keel. (Don’t even THINK about seeing the movie by that title!) Keel sets forth this “unified field theory” of the paranormal, and it does make a degree of sense.

      Anyway, Mystery — I KNEW we were on the same page, Mr. Brown! 🙂

      • Chris Says:

        A TRUE TEST OF FRED’S CRYPTOZOOLOGY KNOWLEDGE: Have you heard of “Hodgee”?

        For those who live in Southern California there is a great lake that lies in San Diego County. A mighty body of water that separates Escondido from San Diego. And within whose unfathomable depths lurks HODGEE. The Lake Hodges Monster! (http://www.hodgee.com/)

        Every day I cross the bridge of Lake Hodges and tremble at the possibility of seeing its long dark neck rise over the side of the interstate intent on eating a commuter…or worse.

        On mornings when the fog settles over Lake Hodges making the surrounding mountains look like islands, thats the time I suspect Hodgee is most active making his evil plans for destruction of the small hamlets on either side of his dark and murky domain.

        Laugh and party, you who live far away from Lake Hodges! Oh yours is a life of leisure and fun, while we who live on these dark treeless shores know little else but a way of life hardened by fear and dread.

  20. I am Mr Brown Snowflake Says:

    jhag: only an apostate would drink PBR. Bud Light is the swill of choice.

    Fred: I side with all the anthropologists, biologist, apeologists and smart people who say a 700+pound creature simply would not find enough food to eat in remote enough areas to remain “unknown to science” and I laugh at Erik Von “buy my book$” Daniken and the ‘ancient astronauts’ silliness.

    Mystery, however, is a different subject altogether

    • Chris Says:

      Now you gotta bear with me here for a second. Let’s say for the sake of argument that a 700lb creature lives by night visiting Catholic Churches where he breaks in and takes the communion wafers, transubstantiates them and gets the necessary protein. This covers the allowable “Mystery” part AND makes sense because so many churches leave their doors open to parishoners.

      The key missing piece is why would Bigfoot/Sasquatch be Catholic and more important, why would he know the Mass sufficient to bring about the transubstantiation?

      Thankfully my scientific mind has an answer: the reason so few people know about Bigfoot is because Bigfoots almost always join a religious order that requires they maintain a vow of SILENCE.

      Of course the first step is for the Bigfoot to approach the Church and _confess_ to being a Bigfoot which then disallows the Church from revealing that there are Bigfoot Religious in their midst.

      Oh man, Dan Brown is gonna look like a 3rd grade writing student once I get my book published! It has it all!

      The Vatican intrigue!
      Coverups of global proportions
      Religious concepts
      AND here’s the big ending (I’ll reveal it to you guys because you like good literature):

      St. Patrick was supposed to have once predicted all the remaining popes during a holy vision. According to this prophecy we are currently at the next to last pope, the last one will be “Peter the Roman” (if I recall my hagiographic visions correctly). I am going to have in my story that the last pope will be a SASQUATCH!

      The Cardinals will convene upon the death of Benedict XVI and a strong contingent will maintain that they need to finally reveal the Catholic Bigfoot contingent, and through sly political maneuvering one of the Bigfoot cardinals (because at least one of the Cardinals must be a Sasquatch by now) will be elected Pope!

      Oh I can almost feel the publishers fighting for the rights to my book now! Hold it…I gotta go write some of this down. PURE GOLD!

      Not unlike a frosty bottle of PBR.

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        I think Bigfoot must be Reformed Presbyterian, since he has remained unchanged since the dawn of time.

        [We could start a whole line of “What denomination is Bigfoot?” jokes.]

      • Chris Says:

        Interesting switch up there. I understand there is some amount of “flux” in some reformed denominations about “pneumatic” vs “real presence” in the Eucharist. Hmmmm, there’s a whole other chapter.

        How’s this work for ya:

        Nessie is a Reformed Lutheran with a firm belief only in pneumatic presence in the Eucharist, and Pope Bigfoot goes up to Scotland on a mission to kick his *&^. This would make for a GREAT scene in what will likely be a quick movie contract for my book. I can see it now: Tom Hanks as Pope MagnaPedis I drives the Popemobile wildly down the winding roads to Loch Ness where on the shores by Dromnadrochit he fights a digital Nessie in mortal combat!

        WOW! I don’t think there will be sufficient zeros to list my potential income from this INCREDIBLE IDEA.

  21. I am Mr Brown Snowflake Says:

    We have another tie-in: You know the refrain “is the sky blue?” well, a version of that are these two: “Is the pope Catholic?” and “does a bear poop in the woods?”

    Well, if Chris is right, we could eventually end up with a sasquatch pope passing pellets in the woods, where he might be mistaken for a Methodist bear.

    Cryptozoologist/theologians/conspiracists would then collect the skat, which would have a skunkish odor, not unlike PBR

  22. morwenna Says:

    Chris, I’ve no doubt you’ll be contacted by a literary agent (or a secret agent or a sasquatch) very soon!

    • Chris Says:

      That’s why I’m keeping my phone handy! I’m currently Down Under in Australia so I simply assume that the fact that I don’t yet have a contract in hand is the “time difference”.

  23. Catherine Says:

    So, whatever denomination Sasquatch is . . .

    My res hall is the oldest building on campus, and up on the top floor there’s a lounge up on the top floor. Actually, it’s just above the top floor, you go up a final half-flight of stairs to get to it. The ceiling is very high, and pointed since it is, after all, the roof. Since it’s removed you can hear outside sounds like rain and howling wind very distinctly. The only windows are so low and tiny they’re practically embedded on the floor, and the heaters make a weird whistling sound. I went exploring up there at dusk and–for the first time since coming to college–felt afraid of the darkness. Flicking on the lights didn’t help, and I quickly hurried out.

    But, that part of me which likes being scared had to go back. I couldn’t go alone, so I told my roommate about it and she said: “Let’s go! I gotta see this place!” We told someone we were going up there and he said: “Oh, yeah, that lounge is haunted. Somebody hung herself up there years ago . . .”

    Of course, for the ghost-skeptics, I might add that although we examined the room thoroughly, we couldn’t find anything you could possibly hang yourself from . . .

    • Chris Says:

      Ahhh, the haunted women’s dorm. Back in my unnergrad days at Eastern Illinois University there was the famed Pemberton Hall ghost. Pemberton was the women’s dorm and the story was that a young woman at some distant time in the past had been on the top floor practicing the piano when a madman attacked her and left her for dead. With her last strength she dragged herself to one of the RA’s rooms and roused her but sadly died before the RA opened the door. He ghost haunts the now closed off attic area of Pemberton. You can read more about it here: http://www.prairieghosts.com/pemberton.html

      Needless to say while walking around Eastern I always felt uncomfortable around Pemberton Hall. That could have been because I was horribly awkward with girls, but more likely because I didn’t want to see or hear anything truly scary!

  24. fsdthreshold Says:

    In my approximately 20-21 years of teaching at Niigata University, I found it fascinating that one piece of student folklore that never changed was something called “the White House.” No, they weren’t talking about where the U.S. President lives (though that, supposedly, is haunted, too). I’m not even sure that those two decades of students were talking about the same place, but the legend was kept alive, passed from senpai to kouhai from year to year to year. The White House was a terrible place. Terrible things had happened there. Terrible things could still be witnessed happening there, if you were so brave as to cross the weed-choked yard and peer into one of the blank, broken windows. Terrible things might happen to you there.

    No one was ever clear on exactly what the horror was. Believe me, I worked on getting the story over many years! I was always keen to gather weird tales from my students — in some years, I even made it an assignment to write them down. Some students claimed to have seen the White House. No one had any concrete stories, though. I could never get anyone to tell me s/he had entered the house. No one could draw me a map of its location. But they’d all heard of it, and they all knew it was a place to be dreaded. It was somewhere on a lonely road within easy driving distance of the university.

    Those of you conversant with manga and anime know that white is the color of the supernatural in Japanese culture — the color of the world of the dead. If a manga character has white hair, tread lightly around him — he’s probably a demon.

    So maybe it was the whiteness of the house that made it so terrifying. (I’m reminded of Melville’s chapter “The Whiteness of the Whale.”)

    I know not what goes on there, or where it stands; but I guarantee you that this year, too, Niigata University students are speaking in hushed whispers of the White House, and taking their freshmen friends to gaze at it across the rustling weeds when the moon is bright.

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