Friday, October 30, 2015

A Living Doll

Thought for the day:  Demons are a ghoul's best friend. 

Halloween time again! You gonna be wearing a costume? That's mine in the pic. That tee shirt has resided in my dresser for almost thirty years, relegated to the darkness until time for its once-a-year appearance. The cool thing about it? It glows in the dark. Verrrrry brightly. Yeah, I know, after all these years, that's a teensy bit scary. Still, it's just the thing to wear while greeting trick-or-treaters.

Did you ever go trick-or-treating as a kid? I went once at the ripe old age of thirteen, the only time my father was working the three-to-eleven shift, and my more lenient mother allowed me to go out for a little while with my friends. Turned out, it wasn't all that fun. I'd made myself a sexy (or as sexy as a thirteen-year old gets) Hawaiian outfit. Decorated bra top, crepe paper hula skirt and lei. Looked great until my mother made me put a long-sleeved sweater under the bra top and a coat over top. Oh, and of course, long corduroy pants. Even so, it was cold and windy. Felt like rain, too. Nonetheless, I was determined to squeeze in as much fun as I could, because I pretty much knew that was gonna be my one and only shot at going from door to door giggling with my girlfriends and flirting with our male classmates, while begging for candy. What could possibly go wrong? Turns out, plenty. See, some of my friends, who were pros at Halloween shenanigans, had brought bars of soap and a dozen raw eggs. For, um, vandalizing car windows. Did I participate? Yeah, I may have made a soap squiggle or two. When I got home, someone had likewise vandalized my mother's car. Was she happy? No. Was there smoke curling out of her ears? A little bit. She asked if I'd done any of that to anyone's car. When I admitted I had, she made me wash her car. In the dark. In the cold and windy, felt-like-raining miserable night. It was a lesson I never forgot.

Okay, I didn't mean to go into all that. I meant to be more lazy efficient, and re-run last year's Halloween post. I liked it so much, I figured I couldn't top it. Besides, I'm feeling particularly lazy efficient. The original post was called... Demons are a Ghoul's Best Friend.


Thought for the day:  Halloween was confusing. All my life, my parents said, "Never take candy from strangers." And then they dressed me up and said, "Go beg for it." I didn't know what to do! I'd knock on people's doors, and go, "Trick or treat!" "No, thank you."  [Rita Rudner]

Halloween gives us a good excuse to be lazy put off some of that pesky housecleaning. After all, dust bunnies and cobwebs help us create the proper atmosphere, dontcha think? The perfect place for the kiddies to play hide and shriek. An eerie kinda place to sit back and sip a nice cold Blood Lite...

Okay, I'll stop. (Sorry. Just kidding!)

Do zombies eat popcorn with their fingers? Nope. They always eat the fingers separately.


Okay, I'm not one to lose my head over Halloween decorations, (at least, not any more...) but no bones about it... Happy Halloween, y'all!!!

Didja check the weather forecast and tomorrow's horrorscope to see what kind of evening might be in store for you? Gonna have fettucini a-fraid-o and a nice bottle of boooze for dinner? Or maybe some nice fried poultry-geist?

Okay, I'll stop now. Really.

But in honor of Halloween, we've gotta talk about something scary...

It was a dark and dreary night...

except for the moon. There has to be a big full, pizza pie in the sky kinda moon...

maybe coyotes howling...


and a bunch of hungry buzzards...

No, wait! Forget the buzzards. At my age, the idea of impatient buzzards hanging around is entirely too scary.

But how about... a doll? A haunted doll?


Now, I'm not talking about Chucky, although those movies did scare the bejeezus out of me. Smarticus even claimed I turned into that creepy doll at the stroke of midnight one Valentine's Day, when, in a deep gravelly voice, I oh-so-sweetly suggested...
But that, of course, was a gross exaggeration. (Hey! I only did it for comic effect. By the way, it worked. I got my chocolate...)


Anyhow, the doll I'm talking about is named Robert. Robert the Doll. (Makes sense...)

Claimed by some to be the creepiest toy in America, the doll was given to Robert Eugene Otto, a well-known Key West artist, in 1906, when he was just a young boy. It was a gift from his nanny shortly after she became his ex-nanny. His voodoo-practicing ex-nanny. The doll she made for the little boy bore a striking resemblance to him, and even had human hair stitched onto its head... hair which had come from the boy's head.

Almost from the start, the doll was... different. The boy had conversations with it... two-way conversations. The family heard creepy giggles. Tiny feet scampering in the night. Schoolchildren claimed to see it move from window to window... watching them as they walked past. Things disappeared, got broken, got moved. And always, the boy claimed, Robert did it. .

Even as an adult, Otto kept the doll nearby, and never painted without Robert sitting beside him. After he got married, he built Robert his own special room in the attic. His wife was spooked by the giggles, sounds of scampering feet, eerie events, and other sounds coming from the attic, and after Otto's death, she moved out, and left the doll behind in the attic, where he continued to spook tenants who rented the house.

Now? Robert resides behind glass in the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, Florida, where he continues to freak people out, who claim the doll changes expressions. A sign hanging beside him instructs people to only take pictures with Robert's permission. He allegedly gives a little nod to signal his approval. Failure to ask could lead to... a voodoo curse of some kind. I kid you not...

As creepy as that doll is, I can think of something even scarier. We still have another year of debates, toxic political mud-slinging ads and robo-calls to put up with before the presidential election.
                      OH, NOOOOOO!!!!!!!
                                                          Now THAT'S scary.

Okay, just one more. Know where the goblin threw the football? Over the ghoul line! Y'all have a de-fright-fully boooootiful Halloween.


Wait! But that's not ALL! Last year, after reading this post, our dapper friend Cro Magnon mentioned another peculiar doll in his comments. A doll named Lord Tod Wadley. So I figured I'd tack on a quick addendum about this British doll.

Joe Carstairs and Wadley [wikipedia]

Born in London to a very wealthy American heiress in 1900, Marion Barbara "Joe" Carstairs was a tomboy as a child, and as an adult, dressed as a man, had tattooed arms, and loved adventures, machines, and speed. By 1934, she was the fastest female speedboat racer in the world, so she didn't just love speed; she majorly kicked butt in speed competitions. Lord Tod Wadley entered her life in 1925 when one of her girl friends gave the foot-tall leather doll to her, and it became her constant companion. Or maybe I should say he, because Jo certainly thought the doll was more than just a doll. He became her constant companion, and her dearest friend. When publicity photos were taken of her, he had to be included. She had a plaque made to put over top of the door to her flat, which contained both her name and the doll's. She lavished him with expensive gifts: things like special-made clothes and shoes, a working wristwatch, and golf clubs. She had dozens of studio photographs made of him, poems written, and sculptures created in his honor. He was her mascot, her fetish, and her alter ego. "We're like one," she said. "He's me and I'm him. It's a marvelous thing. If everyone had a Wadley, there'd be less sadness in the world."  When Joe passed away in 1993, her beloved doll and companion was cremated with her.

Kinda weird, huh? Not exactly scary, but a little bit sad.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other. (Don't eat too much chocolate! Pbbbt...what am I saying?  There's no such thing as eating too much chocolate.) Pssst... make sure y'all practice safe hex!

Friday, October 23, 2015

More Offensive Defenses

Thought for the day:  We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it. [Abraham Lincoln}

For sure, it's an admirable thing for humans to be big and noble, but in the animal kingdom, self-defense very often depends on being... offensive. Like the proverb goes, The best defense is a good offense. Predators are much more interested in killing and consuming other animals than they are in inviting them to share a meal at a nice restaurant, so animals had to come up with some rather interesting ways to defend themselves. In the last post, we looked at the vile toxins some animals spray out their posteriors, (MUCH worse than we humans do after eating too many burritos.) and at the putrid projectile vomit favored by others. We also covered poisons that ooze through the skin, and at a lizard who shoots predators by squirting blood out of his eye. And my personal favorite, the boxer crab, a tiny fella who carries anemones around in his claws to protect himself. Today, we're going to examine a handful of other animals, whose means of self-defense are even more bizarre. And somewhat glorious.

[wikipedia- credit: U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration]
Like this pink-winged flying fish. Isn't he glorious? To evade predators, he swims at speeds of up to 37 MPH, which allows him to break through the surface of the water. Then he uses his large pectoral fins like wings, and can remain airborne for up to 656 feet. What a sight that must be to see!

But he isn't offensive. In a fight vs. flight dilemma, this fish literally chooses flight. Let's go from this fish, which is kind of beautiful, to something considerably less so. Time to up the disgusting factor.

This creature is called a hagfish. It's actually considered a living fossil, because it pretty much looks today as it did 300 million years ago. (How do they know...?) Anyhow, it's the only known animal to contain a skull without a vertebral column.

How does it protect itself? Well, have you ever caught an eel when you were fishing? Ever been slimed by an eel? Well, as gross as that is, it is NOTHING compared to the sliming capabilities of a hagfish. You've gotta see it to believe it...

I KNOW! Isn't that wild? (I wonder if scientists have discovered any useful applications for that stuff yet?)

[wikimedia- credit: David Perry]

Check out this guy. He's an Iberian ribbed newt, indigenous to the Iberian peninsula (ergo his name) and Morocco. See those little bumps down his side? They're ribs. When he's being threatened, he actually pushes his ribs right through the skin so he can use them as weapons. As if having his own built-in weapons weren't enough, the exposed bones are also covered with poison.

[wikimedia- credit: Gustavocavia]

Here's another critter who uses his own bones as weapons. This hairy frog from Central Africa cracks his toe bones and pushes them through the skin to form sharp claws for fighting off attackers.

[wikipedia- credit: Piekfrosch]

We're all familiar with porcupines, and what an impressive shield of defense their quills provide, but they aren't the only critters with built-in suits of armor. Meet the pangolin, who makes his home throughout parts of Africa and Asia. His whole body is covered with large scales, making him look kinda like a big ol' pine cone. It's fairly tough, too, which is why some ancient warriors actually used them to make their own suits of armor. You can't really tell in the picture, but the pangolin has very large powerful claws, which they mostly use to get at insects, but rarely as weapons. As a last resort, they can use their tail as a weapon, or they can spray out a smelly goo from their anus. But their first means of self-defense...?

[wikipedia- credit: Sandup Kumer]

They roll up into a tight little ball. Think the lions are fooled?

They can roll, too. I read that one was seen rolling down a hill at a high rate of speed in Sumatra, which must have been a hoot, but I couldn't find any video of it. Too bad.

[wikimedia- credit: Chris Stubbs]
Armadillos can also roll up into a ball. Maybe I'm weird, but I really LIKE armadillos. I know a lot of people consider them to be a nuisance, little more than a rat on a half-shell, but I think they're amazing- looking creatures. Like the armored tanks of the animal kingdom. 'Course, I don't actually have any around here digging up our yard, so I have the luxury of admiring them from afar.

[wikipedia- credit: French Avatar]

Believe it or not, this is a 3-banded armadillo. Looks like a melon, doesn't it?

Or maybe it looks like a ... ball?

Check this video out for a laugh. 

These two posts barely scratch the surface of the amazing ways animals defend themselves, but I'd much rather pique your interest than bore you to tears. I hope, no matter how disgusting you found some of this to be, you've also gained a bit more of an appreciation for the resiliency and self-defense mechanisms found within the animal kingdom.

Humor is a great defense, and an offense, too. Usually the recipient isn't too happy about it, but the people around are laughing.  [Robin Williams]

Do you think animals have a sense of humor? I'd read some accounts indicating that they do, and that some of them laugh and like to be tickled. But whether or not they have a sense of humor, I have a feeling this video will make YOU laugh. Some animals enjoy fermented beverages, too, and they also have to pay the piper, so to speak...

                                       Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Matter of Defense

Thought for the day:  You'd better not mess with me. I know karate, kung fu, judo, tae kwon do, jujitsu, and a whole bunch of other bad-ass words. 

When humans are threatened, we have an impressive range of  self-defense tools, both psychological and physical, but to find the most impressive and disgusting wow factors in survival, we have to take a look at the animal kingdom. Which is what we're gonna do.

Hey! What can I say? If it's disgusting... I'm gonna share it with you. I'm generous like that.

hognose snake [wikimedia]
To tell the truth, the humble hognose snake inspired me to write this post, and he isn't disgusting at all. Not that I'm a snake-lover, but this guy with his little turned up snout is kinda cute. In some pictures, it looks like he's wearing a perpetual smile. And he's harmless, too.  Non-venomous, and he hardly ever bites.

But this snake is a really grrrrreat pretender with a boatload of bravado.

[source: Dana Oliver, GA Department of Wildlife]

When threatened, this harmless guy will puff up like a big bad cobra, which has earned him another name... puff adder. He'll even hiss like a cobra.

[wikipedia- credit: Albert Herring, VA State Parks]

But if all that bluff and bluster doesn't do the trick? No problem. He'll just roll over onto his back with his tongue hanging out, and... play dead. Even manages to emit a foul scent to help convince whatever or whoever is bothering him to go away... nothing here worth eating, buddy, just keep moving... because I'm dead, dead, DEAD, dammit.

But the thing is, after learning about this snake, I decided to research some of the self-defense techniques used by other animals. Turns out, some of their defensive methods are rather offensive and disgusting. So natch, I'm gonna share some of that stuff with you. (Aren't you lucky?)

The hognose snake, of course, isn't the only critter who plays dead in the face of danger. Probably the best-known is the opossum, which actually collapses and falls into a coma-like state that can last for hours. Unfortunately, far too many of them collapse right in the middle of the road. Not exactly the smartest move (Or should I say non-move?) in terms of their survival.

Nature already gives many creatures an appearance that blends in well with their natural environments, but many more also have the ability to change their camouflage to better match a changing environment. Like the chameleon and the walking stick insect, and the king of 'em all, the cuttlefish, which not only changes color, but also changes its texture.

Oh, and how about the skunk? Even if you've never actually encountered a Pepe La Pew in person, I'm sure you know all about how they send predators scurrying by lifting their tails and letting loose with a foul-smelling spray. I mean FOUL. Really really really foul. Foul enough to chase away a bear. And it's so bad, it can even cause temporary blindness.

But enough about stuff you probably already know. Let's turn now to some of the more bizarre... and disgusting... stuff you might NOT know...
[wikipedia- credit: Patrick Coin]
Like this guy. This rather innocuous-looking bug is called a bombardier beetle. Not only does he spray a noxious toxin out his butt to protect himself, but that toxin is scorching hot, to boot, so he both poisons AND burns. When he feels threatened, he initiates a squeezing action that forces the chemicals and catalyzing enzymes from two separate chambers in his body to combine, and the resultant chemical reaction yields a high-velocity toxic spray which is at approximately the temperature of boiling water. Believe it or not, these beetle chemists live on every continent but Antarctica.

[credit: Chris Stubbs, Edmonton Zoo]

The bombardier beetle isn't the only critter that squirts poison out its butt. The Malaysian exploding ant has large glands filled with a corrosive venom, and all it has to do is contract its abdomen to burst the glands and spray predators. (No mixing needed. No boiling temperature either, but still. Kinda impressive.) Some bugs, like the potato beetle and the cereal leaf beetle, are somewhat lazier, but equally as off-putting. They cover themselves in feces. Other animals, rather than roll in poop, ooze poison through their skin. The motyxia sequoiae, a type of millipede, bioluminesces if threatened, while oozing cyanide and other foul-tasting chemicals through its skin. The sea cucumber, as shown in the picture, is capable of oozing a sticky poison, but it does something else even more astounding... and yes, disgusting.


And here it is. Know what the sea cucumber is doing in this shot? It is self-eviscerating. Really. In extreme circumstances, to reeeeeally convince a predator that it's dead, a sea cucumber will squeeze its muscles so tightly, it actually forces some of its organs out its anus. Talk about extreme.

Getting sick of hearing about the disgusting stuff animals shoot out their butts to defend themselves? Okay, let's look at the other end, then. There's always vomiting. (Sorry.) Yeah, some critters use that as a means of self-defense, too. Mostly birds. Like the European roller bird, the fulmar, and the turkey buzzard. The roller bird spews a nasty-smelling orange liquid, and the fulmar produces a putrid oil in its stomach, which it projectile vomits in the faces of predators. It's bad news for other birds, too, because it mats their feathers, which makes flying impossible. The turkey buzzard is a little less genteel, if one considers projectile vomiting genteel. He simply arfs up the entire disgusting contents of his stomach into one untidy putrid pile. Makes him lighter, so he can get away faster, and the pile of barf smells so bad, most predators quickly lose interest. (Wouldn't YOU?)

Okay, don't want to hear anything more about vomit, either, huh? Okay, well, I've got a super odd one for you. The Texas horned lizard puffs up a bit when threatened, which isn't all that unusual, but what he does next is astounding. He shoots blood... out of his eye! And believe it or not, the stream of blood can travel up to five feet! Wanta see...? (Of course you do!)

Pretty cool, huh? The best is yet to come, but I'll save it for next week.

Rah! Rah! Siss Boo BAH! [wikimedia- credit: Hectonichus]

Looky here. I'm ending on a ♪cute note ♫. Nothing at all disgusting about this cute little cheerleader look-alike, who's only about an inch in size. He's a boxer crab, and although it looks like he's holding pom poms in his claws, they're actually anemones. The crab helps the anemones by toting them around, and they help him by providing protection. They're the muscle. So to speak. Don't they make a lovely menage a trois?

                                                           Such a beautiful relationship...

Some of you might find it odd that one of the words I used to tag this post is appreciation. And that's because, no matter how disgusting we might find the behavior of some animals to be, it is fascinating to learn about them. The more we discover about them, the better we can appreciate them. Not that I'd recommend attempting to make friends with a bombardier beetle...

                                        Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

P.S. Here's news about something that should be of interest to both readers and writers alike. Author Jessica Therrien is featuring a Read and Review Challenge on her blog from now until the end of March, in which a long list of authors has agreed to provide a FREE book to any reader who is willing to write and post a review. Each month, anyone who writes and posts a review for one of these books will be entered into a drawing for a ten-dollar Amazon gift card, and anyone who writes five reviews over the entire challenge period becomes eligible for the grand prize drawing of a fifty-dollar gift card. What's not to love, right? Authors, here's a chance for your book to get more exposure and potential reviews, and readers, FREE BOOKS! Need I say more? Go ahead. Check it out. The list of books is growing all the time.

Friday, October 9, 2015

A Salute to Snark

Thought for the day:  I like to tell people I have the heart of a small boy. Then I say it's in a jar on my desk.  [Stephen King]

Today, as our featured guest, Stephen Tremp is treating us to a fun post about his latest book Salem's Daughters, which just launched on the first of October. I don't host guest bloggers here very often, so this is a real treat for me, and I think it will be for you, too. Enjoy!

But, um, why do you think he chose MY blog to write about snarky humor? I mean, really. Think there's any connection...? Nah. Couldn't be.

You know that little thing inside your head that keep you from saying things you shouldn't say? I think mine is missing...

                                Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Salem’s Daughters Tour Stop: Dark Snarky Humor 

Snarky Grumpy Cat
Thank you Susan for hosting me on my Salem’s Daughters Blog Tour! We all have a sense of humor and, when appropriate, it should show in our writing, even in a serious story. Readers appreciate humor that often goes beyond the norm and crosses the border into dark and snarky. Snarky can be sarcastic, rude, witty, snide, ironic, annoying, and cynical. 

This humor introduces conflict between the protagonist Bob Stevens and his wife’s (Debbie Stevens) Irish whiskey drinking, dark witted, sharp tongue spitfire grandmother Erma Dempsey. 

The ever-meddling Erma and her husband Ross co-sign a three-and-a-half million dollar loan to fund the bed and breakfast called Murcat Manor. Erma, who began as a minor character, developed into a major supporting role and never passes on an opportunity to take verbal and non-verbal shots at Bob, the butt of her jokes and the only non-Irish family member of her clan. 

More Snarky Grumpy Cat
Sample 1: The extended family Christmas Eve party at Erma’s where snarky comments flowed as smooth as Bushmills twenty-one year old single malt whiskey. 

“It’s weird,” Bob said. “These kittens are strange. They don’t act like normal cats. It seems like they're always plotting something, even while we’re sleeping.” 

“Plotting?” Erma said. “Cats? I can see if Debbie’s plotting something against you while you sleep. But … cats?” 

Another peal of laughter bordered on a noisy ruckus, most in the room almost falling out of their seats. 

Sample 2: “I couldn’t imagine,” Bob said, glancing back. “That’s mind boggling. How did you manage childbirth without an epidural?” 

“Whiskey, Bob. We were both drunk. Both the doctor and me. Epidurals? Pfhhht.” Erma leaned back in her seat. “Good old fashioned Irish whiskey is what got me through four child births.” 

Although Bob wasn’t much of a drinker outside the occasional glass or two of wine, he thought he might need a bottle of good old fashioned Irish whiskey to survive much more of Erma. 

Sample 3: “Debbie dear, don’t you fret one bit. The good news is your grandfather and I have decided we’ll co-sign the loan docs.” 

Erma smiled warm and wide. “That’s right, honey. We’re retired now and getting up in years, you see. And we want to do something to help you. So we’ve decided to co-sign the loan. You know, since Bob’s not able to get a job.” 

Erma Dempsey aka the late Helen Hayes
Erma Dempsey may be an AARP gray-haired, sharp-witted, smart-ass lush. But she’s also very smart. Although Erma originally thinks Bob may be responsible for the deaths of the guests at Murcat Manor, she’s the first to make a connection there’s more to the cats, who are actually thirteen disembodied witches from Colonial America, than meets the eye. And as the story progresses, with plenty of snarky dialogue Erma has for the thirteen lazy no-good flea-ridden regurgitated fur balls, there’s an epic showdown between the two parties. But that’s a post for another day. 

Ensenada and Really Cheap Coronas
Stephen Tremp writes Speculative Fiction and embraces science and the supernatural to help explain the universe, our place in it, and write one of a kind thrillers. 

Quick Blurb: A four hundred year old evil is unleashed when the daughters of those killed during the Salem Witch Trials find a new generation of people to murder at a popular modern-day bed and breakfast. 

You can read a full synopsis and download Salem’s Daughters by Clicking Here.
Stephen Tremp posts weekly blogs at his website
Breakthrough Blogs

Next Stop: Monday October 12 Susan Gourley website Susan Says. Join me there as the topic is Supernatural Powers Enhanced by Technology.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Still Out There

Thought for the day:  Do the aliens on the moon pull down their pants and 'earth' their friends for fun?  [Matthew Heines]

As promised, today we're gonna continue on with last week's post Outta This World  about hoaxes involving aliens and flying saucers. (Or are they hoaxes...?)

I've been convinced for a long time that the flying saucers are real and interplantary. In other words, we are being watched by beings from outer space. [Albert Chop, Deputy Director of NASA]

We all know that UFOs are real. All we need to ask is where do they come from. [astronaut Edgar Mitchell, 1971]

We all know that UFOs are real. Too many good men have seen them that don't have hallucinations. [Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker]

Until they come to see us from their planet, I wait patiently. I hear them saying: 'Don't call us, we'll call you.'  [Marlene Dietrich, 1962]

So where were we?  Ah yes, we just talked about the alleged landing of an alien spacecraft at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. Let's fast-forward to 1993, shall we?

That's the year Ray Santelli claimed to have original footage of an alien autopsy performed on one of the aliens who crash-landed in Roswell. Said he bought it from a retired military cameraman for a hundred thousand dollars. He then actioned off the rights to broadcast it. Highest bidder? FOX, which then showed it on TV in 1995. Eleven years later, it was shown to be a hoax. Although Santelli admitted that some scenes were shot in a London flat, using a body created by a sculptor, he also claimed he only did that because of the degradation of the original film. He said it was of such poor quality, he reproduced it. Still, he swore the original film was the real deal. Didn't stop him from producing a comedy film called Alien Autopsy, though.

"alien" on display in the GBI museum 
Now let's go back to 1953, when some Georgia police officers stopped to investigate a pickup truck sitting in the middle of the road. The truck's headlights were shining on what appeared to be an alien lying in the road... a  2 1/2 foot tall hairless humanoid with dark round eyes. The men claimed when they drove over the top of the hill, they saw a UFO and three aliens in the road. Although they tried to avoid them, they hit one of them. The other two took off in the spaceship, leaving a big scorch mark on the road in the process. The true story? Twenty-eight year old Ed Watters made a ten-dollar bet with his pals that he could get his name in the newspaper within the week. To do so, he purchased a capuchin monkey from the pet store... for fifty bucks. He killed that poor monkey, removed its hair with a depilatory, and chopped off its tail. The scorches in the road? The guys did it with a blow torch. It didn't take long for the authorities to identify the alien as a monkey, and Watters was charged with cruelty to animals, a charge he beat on a technicality. So he was fined forty bucks for highway obstruction. Yeah, all three of the guys got their names in the newspaper, and Watters won his ten bucks, but it cost him ninety. And he got so tired of being called the monkey man, he had to leave town. The monkey, however, stayed. It's still on display at the GBI museum. The cruel prank came to be known as the Great Monkey Hoax.


Okay, you're gonna have to work with me here. Imagine you see some mysterious red lights in that picture of the night sky, okay...?

On several occasions in 2009, mysterious red lights were seen in the sky above Morristown, New Jersey. Turned out to be five helium balloons attached to flares. Perpetrators Joe Rudy and Chris Russo confessed to launching the hoax to prove how unreliable eye-witness accounts of UFOs are. They may have proven their point, as police stations were flooded with telephone calls about the strange lights. However, the police were not amused, and the two pranksters were each slapped with $250 fines and fifty hours of community service.

There have been all kinds of hoaxes over the years, but many people believe Betty and Barney Hill were actually abducted by aliens in 1961. Evidently, the state of New Hampshire believes them. The state erected this plaque on the 50th anniversary of the event.

This is one of my favorite stories. It occurred in Bad Axe, Michigan in 1958, when motorists started reporting sightings of a little blue man. A glowing little blue man. Reports got more and more fantastic, ranging from claims that he was ten feet tall (not so little!) to him running faster than any human being to him coming out of nowhere and then suddenly disappearing. None of which, of course, was true. Once again, the hoax was pulled by a trio of men. The costume consisted of long underwear, gloves, combat boots, a sheet with eyeholes, and a football helmet with flashing lights... all spray-painted with glow-in-the-dark blue paint. Of the conspirators, Jerry Sprague, Don Weiss, and LeRoy Schultz, only one actually wore the bizarre outfit. Sprague, and that's because the long johns belonged to him... and he was the only one who could fit into them. None of these guys were charged with anything; they were simply released from custody with a warning. (But that's quite a mug shot, isn't it?)

The reason I like this last story, and the reason I saved it for last, is so I could end with a video of a 1958 song. Called... what else? The Little Blue Man. (Believe it or not, Smarticus used to sing the chorus of this song to me...)

The only thing that scares me more than space aliens is the idea that there aren't any space aliens. We can't be the best that creation has to offer. I pray we're not all there is. If so, we're in big trouble.  [Ellen DeGeneres]

How would it be if we discovered that aliens only stopped by earth to let their kids take a leak?  [Jay Leno]

                               Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.