Archive for the True Story Category

Waterspout sighting, Key West

Posted in Nature gone amok, Sighting!, True Story with tags , , on September 30, 2008 by Eric S.

The bastard children of tornadoes and whirlpools, waterspouts provide all of the visual oohs and ahhs of more damage-heavy climatalogical events with (if the number of gawkers in this footage is any indication) the danger potential of a drugged circus cat. I saw footage of this particular event on the morning weather, and rushed to see if it had made YouTube yet. The news footage had not, but here’s a fine piece of work by resident/witness virgkw:


Two-headed turtle turns up in Brooklyn

Posted in Evidence!, Nature gone amok, Roadside attractions, The Unexplained, Travesties of nature, True Story with tags , , , , on August 18, 2008 by Eric S.

Dear esteemed owners of Bigfoot Global LLC,

After the ribbing you’ve taken in the national and global media for your recent announcement that you are in posession of the corpse of what you believe to be a Bigfoot, I thought you could use some pointers on how to go about presenting a strange or unusual biological specimen to the public by way of the media. Just, you know, in case you ever find yourselves in this situation again. I cite as a case study this story about a two-headed turtle that has turned up at Sean Casey Animal Rescue in Brooklyn, as reported today in the New York Daily News.

  1. Good photo = good story. See that one up there by News photographer(Mr.? Ms.?)┬áCairo)? It’s well cropped. Well lit. Hell, it’s even got a tricky little shallow plane of focus that not only directs your attention at the important┬ábits (i.e., the two heads), it goes a long way toward ruling out forgery. Now, you don’t need to go all Annie Liebovitz like the Daily News, but at least look like you gave a damn.
  2. Good video = even better story. Anyone dubious of the unmessed around with origins of the above photo can, after sitting through a commercial for an Atlantic City casino, see a well shot (like the still photo, it’s well lit, in focus and by all indications undoctored), well edited video shot on location, featuring credible-albeit-uncredentialled witnesses. UFO documentarians following along, please note the use of a steadily held camera.
  3. A little self promotion is fine. Sean Casey, is clearly exploiting this situation for his own personal interests (in this case, drawing support for his nonprofit animal rescue in the Kensington neighborhood in Brooklyn, which invite you to learn more about and consider making a donation to, if that’s your charitable bent). Note the fact that he hasn’t had a special hat made for the interview.
  4. Draw people in to the story. Sure, you found Bigfoot, which is arguably big news already. But why should people care, beyond their own morbid curiosity about who would go to such pains to hide such an amazing discovery? There’s really nothing in it for them. But that Sean Casey (again, of Sean Casey’s Animal Rescue, a nonprofit rescuer of exotic pets in Brooklyn), really knows how to build buzz: with a contest. I’ll bet you guys didn’t even think of having a ‘Name the Bigfoot’ contest, did you? Watch and learn as Intie the Intoallthat Turtle launch themselves (and possibly an undisclosed blogger) into international stardom.

Gentlemen, I hope you find these tips helpful and useful. And best of luck with your future endeavors.


Eric S.

Video of high-speed chupacabra pursuit leaves sheriff baffled

Posted in Hysteria, Sighting!, The Unexplained, True Story with tags , , , on August 12, 2008 by Eric S.

First, special thanks to field correspondent David for tracking down this video of Dewitt (TX) County lawman Brandon Riedel’s pursuit of what may be a chupacabra:

Second, a special commendation to Corporal Riedel and partner for having the presence of mind to do what seems to have escaped all but the fewest of witness of strange and unusual occurances, and remembering to turn on the camera. Yes, yes, everyone thinks they’re remember to do it if it ever happens to them, but it takes a special presence of mind to remember mundane things like removing lens caps and pushing power buttons when you’re face to face with a mythical beastie, extraterestrial being or, say, killer robot. Koods to you, Corporal.

And third, jeers to CNN for being unable to resist using the word “baffled” in describing the reaction of a rural Texas sheriff to this incident. Sure, I appreciate the compulsion. A small, podunkesque town on the Texas/Mexico border? A C-list X-files premise? An authority figure on top enough of his jurisdiction’s law enforcement needs that he can probably spend a good amount of time with his boots on his desk (which, in the video, is suspiciously clear of heel marks) spinning yarns about the old days when things weren’t quite so peachy? Honestly, I’d have a tough time not takinga few Dukes of Hazzard jabs at him myself. But you, CNN? Come on… that’s the sort of crap we expect from Fox News.

Lightning-struck Michiganer wins lottery

Posted in Fact Checking, Nature gone amok, True Story with tags , , , on June 18, 2008 by Eric S.

This story on MSNBC blipped my weirdness radar from three sites away: a 16-year-old girl was struck by lightning, survived, and then won the lottery the next day. I mean, wow. What are the odds? I don’t know about lightning, but I did do a little legwork tracking down the odds of being hit by a meteor not terribly long ago, and figure meteor, lighting, what’s the diff?

And then… what gives? Twenty dollars? Twenty? I mean, I’m glad yound Miss Helsel is okay and all, but, come on. Extrapolating from these statistics I found on Them Internets (i.e., inarguable facts) some two thousand people are struck by lightning every year. Which isn’t a lot, given the current world population approaching 6 billion, but still too many for a list a recent lightning victims to be much of a draw in USA Today. And the number of people that win twenty-dollar bills every day? That’s another of those numbers I can’t really hold in my head. in Must’ve been a slow news day at MSNBC.

Yep. I can relate.

Pirates and ninja beware: monkeys and robots have joined forces

Posted in True Story with tags , , on May 30, 2008 by Eric S.

As reported by the BBC (who, incidentally, have a version of the above video where you can actually see the monkey’s face), a monkey with its arms restrained (to simulate armlessness) and cybernetic implants is able to use its artificial limbs purely by thought. Which is amazing on a lot of different levels. The fact that the the apparatus is so intuitive a monkey can figure it out — even with the steampunk-looking prototype — is amazing.

While the article reports that the monkey had a 61% success rate in feeding itself and my initial inclination was to put an “only” between “monkey” and “had”, I urge anyone skeptical of the amazingness of this advancement of the facts that a) this is a monkey, and b) this is a prototype. With a few years of serious love, the potential impact this technology will have on people with disabilities from limb amputations to, in the hopes of lead researcher Dr. Andrew Schwartz, “people with total paralysis” is mind boggling.

Dr. Schwartz and your team at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, buy yourselves a round of drinks and send me the tab.

The Manhattan Equinox

Posted in Fact Checking, True Story with tags , , on May 28, 2008 by Eric S.

This might not be a big deal to those of you from outside the greater New York metro area, known to New Yorkers as out in the sticks or, in hipster vernacular, Pennsyltucky. But to folks who live in (or, in cases like mine, commute into) environs where direct sunlight is as rare of a commodity as, say, knockoff designer watches are out yonder in Pennsyltucky, it’s a big to do. Anyway, tonight at 8:15, the sun set directly down the center line of west-facing streets.

This is the view from just east of Herald Square, which is the intersection of 34th Street, Broadway and 6th Avenue as well as the site of Miracle of 34th Street (though the movie takes place in that department store in the right side of the frame).

Okay, okay… fact of the matter is, Manhattanites as a group don’t really think it’s that big of a deal. But they should. Lied to by subway maps and street signs for decades, it turns out our tightly regimented grid misses ‘true’ compass directions by an angle 28.9°. Add to that our distance from the equator and, well, let’s just say it’s impressive the sun ever sets here at all. The fact that, even once in a blue moon, it does so at the beginnings and ends of east-to-west running streets seems nigh impossible.

Alas, of course, it does. According to the Wiki Elves, weather permitting, one can behold a midlane sunset like today’s every May 28th, and again on July 12-13th. For midlane sunrises on the east end of town, you’ll have to get up early on December 5th or January 8th. Note that the length of time between sunset dates is 45 days, while the wait between sunrises is only 34 days; I’d speculate on possible conspiracy theories, but this is clearly the result of poor city planning.

Wikipedia credits astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson with coining the term for this phenomenon ‘Manhattanhenge’. An unnamed source — a mysterious, pronounless entity — sometimes refers to it as ‘Manhattan Solstice’. For my money, I believe that Manhattan Equinox is more accurate. To review: the equinox is the day when, at the equator, the sun rises in the east, hangs directly overhead at noon, and sets in the west causing day and night to be of equal duration (at least in theory: twilight (an effect of the atmosphere) and the fact that the sun is disk-shaped rather than a single point of light make day a bit longer). The solstice is when the sun sets as far north (or south) as it does during the course of the year, and daylight lasts the longest (or shortest). If you know someone refering to today’s celestial festivities as the Manhattan Solstice, please encourage them to hang their head in shame and/or change their wrongful ways.

Lowdown on the Caspian Sea Monster

Posted in *Them*, Fact Checking, Secret origins, True Story with tags , , , on May 12, 2008 by Eric S.

In the hopes of maybe spicing up the photo of the Chaiten volcano from last week, I did a quick Google image search for flying hammerhead shark. Truth to tell, I wasn’t holding out a lot of hope for actually *finding* such a beast, but Teh Google’s just full of surprises — you just never know what you’re going to get. And while I was mildly disappointed to find nary a single flying shark in all of Googledom, I was pleasantly surprised to find something almost equally cool: a secret cold war property of the pre-Hunt for Red October (i.e, Commie) Russians with the menacing moniker of The Caspian Sea Monster:

Image, and most of the following factoids, borrowed from

With a design sensibility immediately recognizable as both Russian and 1970’s, the Russian Ekranoplan looks to be a result of the same sort of cockamammie Soviet ingenuity that enabled their people to write in outer space not with a specially designed million dollar pen, but with a graphite pencil. Part plane, part boat, part tank, Mr. Lewis reports that the Ekranoplane had a speed of 550 knots (that’s 633 miles per hour to landlubbers), a loaded weight of 540 tonnes (no word on how much of that’s payload, but for comparative purposes, a loaded 747 is in the 80ish tonne range), and presumably for decorative purposes alone, a bank of six missile launchers. Being an amphibious craft, it was capable of deep, shallow, or no water landings, though it required a more or less flat entryway.

Here’s a video: