Sasquatch Playing Cards Arrive!

We got our Sasquatch playing card deck! The images of Bigfoot are strikingly similar to the carved image on our new Sasquatch cribbage board. And they both resemble the image of Patty, the female Bigfoot supposedly captured on 16mm film back in 1967 by Bob Gimlin.

That’s the legendary Patterson-Gimlin video of Bigfoot. There are two opposing views on the existence of Bigfoot which I think are probably influenced by Patty.

The TV show, The Proof Is Out There, aired an episode of experts who talked a lot about evidence for Bigfoot. I watched the show, which ran on December 3, 2021. The Daily Mail UK ran a big story about it. I honestly can’t remember what they decided.

On the other hand, there are a few people who claim to know for a fact that a guy has admitted that he put on a stinky monkey suit and played the part of Patty—and said he’s blowing up the whole thing because he never got paid for doing it. That was way back in 2004, and the story is all over the internet.

I tend to be skeptical about most things like Bigfoot and extraterrestrials. I’m not exactly saying they don’t exist.

But why can’t anyone find a corpse, roadkill, or a definite fossil of Sasquatch? Is that why people are starting to call Bigfoot an interdimensional being, coming and going through a wormhole vortex? And why does everybody still pay attention to the tale?

I think it’s because just about everybody likes a good story—which is what Bigfoot has always been.

Why Do We Want to Believe?

I heard a song called “Marfa Lights” on the KCCK 88.3 FM radio program, the Friday Night Blues Show with John Heim aka Big Mo. The lyrics mention the Marfa Lights, describing them as UFOs or flying saucers. It was the first time I ever heard a blues song mentioning UFOs.

I looked it up later on the web. It turns out there’s a town called Marfa in Texas where people see strange lights. Years ago (and maybe even nowadays) a lot of them think they might be UFOs or some other paranormal phenomenon, like ghosts. A couple of studies in 2004 and 2008 pretty much debunked them as automobile lights triggered by atmospheric changes like temperature inversions. Still, some people want to believe they’re something weird or cosmic.

On the same evening I heard the song, I watched an episode of Ancient Aliens which is one of those shows which has a paranormal theme, mostly involving aliens. They talked about a blind seer named Baba Vanga, whose predictions about the future are thought to be 80% accurate. The speculation by the hosts of the show is that Baba Vanga might have been tapping into a phenomenon called the Akashic Record.

Encyclopedia Britannica on the web says the Akashic Record is said to be a “…compendium of pictorial records, or ‘memories,’ of all events, actions, thoughts, and feelings that have occurred since the beginning of time.” (Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Akashic record”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 29 Jan. 2015, Accessed 13 August 2022.)

It’s not a physical thing, but it sounds like an ethereal public library. The Ancient Alien enthusiasts suggest that anyone can access it, even aliens (of course!)—if you have a current, valid library card and don’t have any overdue books or have at least paid up all the fines you owe.

In fact, there are a lot of entries on the web claiming you can access the Akashic Record just by formulating a clear question, like “What does Kellogg really put in those so-called all natural Kashi Granola Bars—and what exactly is Pyridoxine Hydrochloride anyway?”

Then you have to get into a pretty deep meditative state, which is nothing like mindfulness meditation. You need to ask really specific questions and insist on talking to the head librarian if you start to get the run around about certain resources being on reserve only for high-level professional mediums who charge outrageously high fees to search the record for you.

People want to believe. That’s why you can even find a WikiHow with detailed instructions for tapping into the Akashi Record to check out any of the episodes from the first season of the X-Files.

The Akashic Record might even have the Cliff Notes on what is going to happen to humans in the remote future. Ancient Aliens guys seem to spin this a couple of different ways.

One is a version of the matrix theory, which means that we’re living in some kind of computer simulation run by aliens who set this up with a special code or script that absolutely must be followed—meaning that the future is strictly determined. That would be bad because it sounds like it ends with a tremendous nuclear explosion on Mars, which humans eventually colonize but then can’t get along with each other because there are not enough rib joints for both humans and aliens.

The other future scenario is that humans evolve into beings who can tolerate indefinitely prolonged deep space exploration and go planet-hopping for the rest of eternity looking for Douglas Adams’ restaurant at the end of the universe. Forget getting in if you don’t have a reservation.

Maybe the question for the Akashic Record keepers should be pretty basic.

Why do we want so hard to believe?

Should We Smudge the Attic?

We never did figure out what was making the knocking noise in our attic.  I guess we’ll have to find out what to do about it. We did get the ladder and check out the attic, though.

As a general rule, animals don’t knock. They usually lack good manners, especially the Chupacabra and its cousins. And I can’t figure out what a wild creature would eat up there, unless it likes insulation.

I tossed an old fruitcake through the hatch to distract the werewolf, demon or zombie or whatever might be haunting the place. I figured that would probably kill it or at least the candied fruit would gum up his fangs so bad his jaws would stick closed.

It was pretty dark up there. We didn’t hear any knocking, but we did notice a disconnected duct. We’ve scheduled a fix with a local HVAC company.

We might have to Smudge the attic. I looked this up on the web. It’s a way to spiritually cleanse a house. You can use burnt sage or other substances which you have to light with a match or a lighter (which you could accidentally drop)—something I’m not sure I want to do in an attic when it’s hot and dry and there’s a lot of insulation and wood all over the place.

You end up with a lot of smudges that way—from a fire.

Anyway, you’re supposed to work your way around the attic from right of the entrance all the way around counterclockwise until you get the left side of the entrance.

We have attic hatch that is about 22’’ x 30.’’ It’s a long way around the attic. It’s pretty big and some things can hide under the abundant insulation—like giant pythons, which can go a long time between meals.

Snakes don’t knock; they lunge, strike, and coil. And if they’re possessed by a demon, they’re not usually impressed by how hot it can get in an attic.

This is why the HVAC repair person is waiting a while before coming out to our house. They try to avoid doing work in attics in the summer heat—not because they’re afraid of pythons. Python wrestling is just part of the job.

This gives us a little time to work out a smudge technique that doesn’t involve adding things like heat and smoke to the attic. That reminds me. You’re supposed to open up windows to let the smoke out. There aren’t any windows in our attic. Come to think of it, do any attics have windows?

It turns out there are smokeless cleansing methods—that don’t involve sprinkling Copenhagen all over the joint.

You can bang on pots and pans or ring bells. This can wake up the neighbors, who might call the police.

You can dust and vacuum and mop, but I’m not keen on cleaning up the attic. Attics are just the right places for large piles of insulation, dirt, and shadows—which can hide werewolves.

 You can make a spray out of stovetop potpourri, which might be a mistake because it could draw people from miles around who think you’re throwing a cheese and wine party.

You could open some windows to let in light but not in our attic, unless we knock out a few walls. Vampires don’t care for bright lights and might take offense.

Magical sweeping with an ordinary broom might work, but it would just make a cloud of insulation particles and make you sneeze—which could startle the werewolf, who would then rip your lungs out.

I think we’ll just stay out of the attic for now.

Is That You, Jason?

Yesterday, Sena and I were playing cribbage and we both suddenly started hearing a knocking noise which sounded like it was coming from our roof or the attic. We’ve heard a similar noise in the past, but it stopped and we forgot about it. This time it seriously interrupted our cribbage game.

It sounded like an intermittent knocking, which reminded me of some of the paranormal shows I like to watch so I can laugh at the ghost hunters scream and jump at every bump and reflection.

This knocking actually made us stop and listen intently. It sounded like it came from somewhere in the ceiling. There were several intermittent series of soft but clearly audible knocks.

I did remove my house slippers and turned the radio off so we could hear it more consistently.

Sena got a wooden spoon and tapped the ceiling 4 times in the area on the spots where the knocking noises seemed to be coming from.

Four knocks sounded, seemingly, in response. She did this a few times, but the responses seemed to become more random. This back and forth went on for a short while. The noises seemed to move around. It started in the kitchen, then moved to the pantry, next it was in the mud room. It was nearly always 4-5 distinct knocks with intermittent silence.

We were pretty sure at first that it was coming from either the roof or in the attic. But we couldn’t imagine why anyone (or anything) would be in either location.

I didn’t volunteer to check the attic. The door to it is high in the ceiling in a corner of the garage. I would have had to drag a lot of stuff out of the corner to make room enough to wrestle the adjustable ladder up to it. Let’s see, what was the other reason?

Oh yeah, I didn’t want to have a close encounter of the machete kind with Jason Voorhees.

I finally got the idea to look out our window and noticed construction workers were way down the street installing siding high up near the roof. I started to wonder whether the pounding they were doing were the source of the knocks we were hearing. Was it some kind of echo phenomenon?

I got my camera out and focused on them. They were high up on a scaffolding and were holding the vinyl siding, but I couldn’t be sure they were hammering it on the house. We couldn’t clearly prove that our knocking noises coincided with their hammering.

I tried to find out on the internet whether noises in our roof or ceiling could arise from noises occurring elsewhere. I tried to phrase it different ways, but it was hard to get anything back except the usual stuff about rafters buckling in the winter from ice, critters, water hammer due to high pressure water line valves shutting off abruptly, and other common reasons.

Anyway, the noises stopped and that seemed to be connected with the construction workers installing siding on the lower portion of the house down the street. I still think our noise was related to that.

And the most important part of this story—I won the cribbage game.

The Proof is Way Out There

I watch the History Channel show, The Proof is Out There, hosted by Tony Harris, an American journalist and filmmaker. The show reviews videos of paranormal events, supposed cryptids, and other weird stuff and generally ends up debunking at least half of them. I’ve seen some of the videos on another TV show, Paranormal Caught on Camera, which airs on the Travel Channel. Interestingly, the hosts of that show tend to uncritically endorse the authenticity of the videos while The Proof is Out There usually debunk them as faked.

I don’t know how the videos get swapped between the two shows. In fact, the last episode I saw of The Proof is Out There was subtitled “The Skinwalker Edition.” The History Channel blurb on it says that Tony Harris “…travels to the Skinwalker Ranch, a place known as the epicenter of strange and mysterious phenomena.”

In fact, Harris does nothing of the kind and many of the videos were previously aired from other episodes. The only connection with Skinwalker Ranch were a few photographs from another History Channel show, The Secrets of Skinwalker Ranch. I wonder if the producers of that show didn’t allow Harris to actually evaluate the alleged paranormal events of their show because they were afraid he would debunk them.

Obviously, the title of the show “The Proof is Out There” got its name from the X-Files subtitle, The Truth is Out There. Some viewers have suggested that there may be another meaning to the subtitle, which is that the truth may be “out there” in the sense of outlandish or crazy instead of from aliens in outer space.

So, what’s going on with The Proof is Out There? Is it designed to do a better job of picking out the faked paranormal videos? Sometimes they miss them, like the one about the glitch in the matrix which turned out to be a cool camera trick.

Most often they hedge their bets and say they don’t know what’s going on in the video. But they don’t shy away from calling something a hoax if the evidence points in that direction.

On the other hand, do the producers of The Proof is Out There somehow collude with those of other paranormal TV shows, sharing videos and creating the impression that they’re more objective just to sustain interest in the show and even deliberately foster controversy for the same reason?

That would be way out there, although I still like the show. And the cryptid chaser parody, Mountain Monsters, obviously pokes fun at other sasquatch-themed shows. Not only do they get away with it, some people love it for just that reason—including me.

When we’re taking ourselves too seriously, I think it’s healthy when somebody comes along and makes us laugh at ourselves.

Para-Debunking on Debunking Day

Today, in honor of Debunking Day, which is held on March 11 annually (starting in 2005) I thought I’d introduce a new word. It’s Para-Debunking and you won’t find it in the dictionary, at least not in our brand-new hardcover Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition. It was just delivered yesterday. We needed at least one physical dictionary for when we play Scrabble. We’re also waiting for an official Scrabble Dictionary, also on order. The heft of a real dictionary feels really good, by the way.

Anyway, the definition of “debunk” is “to expose the sham or falseness of” something.

Before I give you my definition of para-debunking, I should say that it’s a spinoff of the word “paranormal.” I know it doesn’t really make sense, but hang on, I’m getting to that.

You’ll never guess how I even found out it was Debunking Day today. Sena found out yesterday that a radio DJ was planning to observe the holiday by looking up something on MythBusters, another TV show we used to watch a lot.

That led to Sena finding a couple of X-Files episodes (a big-time paranormal TV show in the not-so-distant past): Sunshine Days and The Rain King.

If you can pick any topic to find debunkers always ranting about, the paranormal would be one of them. I’m not out to actually debunk it, so you can put your guns down. But the two X-Files episodes made me think of maybe something more important than just garden variety debunking.

Sunshine Days, an episode in the 9th season, originally aired in 2002, with Agents Doggett, Reyes, and Scully investigating two murders at a house that is off and on tricked out as the Brady Bunch house. This is the accidental result of the staggering psychokinetic powers of the homeowner, Anthony, whose psychic talents were studied when he was a child by a parapsychologist, Dr. Rietz. Anthony developed an attachment to Dr. Rietz and created doubles of the Brady Bunch (gaaahhhh!) because his family life was bad.

The agents take Anthony to FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. and convince Assistant Director Skinner and a scientist that Anthony’s powers could change the world. But as Anthony demonstrates his powers by levitating things, including Skinner, the strain of it makes him deathly sick. Skinner is no lightweight.

As he lay dying in the hospital, Dr. Rietz realizes that Anthony loves him like a father and that relationship is more important than using him for his paranormal powers to change the world since it would kill him. Paranormal power is not debunked, but the real power is the power of love. That’s para-debunking, which doesn’t have a holiday but should.

The other X-Files episode is The Rain King, which aired in the 6th season in 1999 and features Agents Mulder and Scully investigating a guy named Daryl in Kansas, who claims he can make it rain whenever he wants, thereby controlling the awful drought that has plagued the area for months. I think it’s important that this is set in Kansas. As usual, Mulder believes that somebody is making it rain, but maybe not Daryl. Scully is skeptical as usual and tries to debunk the whole thing.

It turns out that the local weatherman, Holman, is responsible for the crazy weather because he’s been in love for decades with Sheila (who had been engaged to Daryl but he was not down with the plan). But Holman just can’t work up the nerve to tell her. He even creates a tornado that tosses a cow through Mulder’s hotel room ceiling. Holman finally convinces Sheila that he really loves her, which brings back the sunshine. The moral of the story is that we should be nice to each other because you never know when somebody will direct their paranormal ability at the skies and clobber us with flying cattle.

Just kidding. The idea is the same as it was for the Sunshine Days episode. It’s more important to feel our feelings and share them with others as long as that doesn’t involve hurling livestock at each other.

Get the idea? The paranormal is not debunked, but para-debunked in favor of focusing on the important stuff humans can achieve on earth without paranormal involvement. Maybe we can treasure what we already are capable of doing.

OK, let’s vote. Who wants to add Para-Debunking Day to our long list of holidays?

Proof Out There for Paranormal?

I get a big kick out of watching TV shows about the paranormal, and I’ve seen something weird happening in the past few weeks. I watch a couple of programs fairly regularly: The Proof is Out There hosted by Tony Harris, and Paranormal Caught on Camera.

They both have roughly similar formats. They solicit videos of the weird from viewers and provide commentary from a panel of experts. Usually the Proof Panel has physicists, anthropologists, video processing pros and other scientists assessing the evidence. The Paranormal Panel is usually made up of those with such titles as Paranormal Investigator, Paranormal Researcher, Folklorist, Dowsing Rod Salesman, and Bigfoot Personal Trainer.

I’ve seen the same 3 videos evaluated on both shows. That was puzzling. Do the people submitting the videos lose all rights to their videos? Anyway, all 3 were validated by the Paranormal Panel, and all 3 were debunked by the Proof Panel.

The first video is of an alleged Yeti running across a snow-covered road in Russia. The Paranormal Panel members all seemed in favor of calling the creature an unknown cryptid, probably a Yeti. However, the Proof Panel members thought it was a hoax, even saying that the observers who made the video started yelling “Moose, Moose, Moose!” seconds before the creature was even visible. One Proof Panel member went so far as to suggest the video makers were in cahoots with a guy in a monkey suit. She also pointed out that the “creature” tripped over the edge of the road, something a real Yeti probably wouldn’t do. The Paranormal Panel validated the video. The Proof Panel debunked it.

The 2nd video was of some animal streaking across the yard of the person who caught the image on a home security camera. It was incredibly blurred and appeared to be dragging something. It was the middle of the night. The Paranormal Panel basically agreed with the person who shot the video, saying that it was probably some kind of dinosaur. The Proof Panel said there was a lot of smearing artifact in the video and that it was probably a dog running across the lawn, dragging its leash behind it. Once again, the Paranormal Panel validated it and the Proof Panel debunked it.

The 3rd video was a shot of something big, possibly an aquatic animal, making a big wave somewhere off the Florida coast and racing toward the boat of the people who shot the video. There wasn’t a lot to see, just a large black shape. The Paranormal Panel validated it as possibly a prehistoric sea monster. The Proof Panel debunked it, saying it was a large snake wrapped around its equally huge prey, attempting to both throttle and eat it, even though the “snake” was not visible.

So, what’s going on here? I like watching these shows because I like mysteries and the unexplained. There a lot of shows like this nowadays. I tend to think of The Proof is Out There with Tony Harris as being the more scientifically based program, but even Tony got fooled by the video shot by somebody speculating it was evidence that reality is a simulation, when in fact it was a cool smartphone camera trick which people have been fooling around with for years.

I think both shows are fun to watch and they’re best thought of as entertainment. What do you think?

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