The Creature from the Sandpits, a teenage prank that's endured for 60 years

In the 1960s in a small Southern town, high school student Clay Jennings Desmond and his friend were "out frogging at the sandpits" when Clay decided to scare his pal. The Creature from the Sandpits was born, its reputation spread across the land. Sixty years later, the monster still lives in the heart, minds, and nightmares of the locals. From Narratively:

As a small group gathered around my car, I said in a loud, quavering voice, “We were out frogging at the sandpits and we kept hearing something stalking us.” The equally soaked Scottie, now quieter and calmer in these safer environs, picked up the story as though we had rehearsed it.

Pointing at me, he said: “He heard something big in the bush while we were frog hunting. It sounded really big. I mean, like huge. When he turned his five-cell flashlight on it, oh my God!” He let out a theatrical gasp, his hand going to his throat. Limitations aside, he was a masterful performer with an audience.

I picked up the improv tale. “When I heard a stick snap, I knew it had to be something pretty large, real near us. I focused the light in that direction and saw this thing.”

“What thing?” asked the chorus of boys and girls outside the car. Our group of rapt listeners was quickly growing.

Scottie added inspired embellishments. “It was about seven feet tall,” he said with elaborate hand gestures, “had the face of a man, but covered with fur.

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Ray Bradbury's captivating explanation of his Mr. Electrico character's uncanny origins

As Ray Bradbury fans know, there's a curious minor character named Mr. Electrico who turns up in his creeptastic 1962 novel Something Wicked This Way Comes. Bradbury always insisted Mr. Electrico was real but scholars never could confirm that. Then in a fantastic interview from 2010 by Sam Weller in The Paris Review, Bradbury tells the uncanny story of how he met the real Mr. Electrico:

...He was a real man. That was his real name. Circuses and carnivals were always passing through Illinois during my childhood and I was in love with their mystery. One autumn weekend in 1932, when I was twelve years old, the Dill Brothers Combined Shows came to town. One of the performers was Mr. Electrico. He sat in an electric chair. A stagehand pulled a switch and he was charged with fifty thousand volts of pure electricity. Lightning flashed in his eyes and his hair stood on end.

The next day, I had to go the funeral of one of my favorite uncles. Driving back from the graveyard with my family, I looked down the hill toward the shoreline of Lake Michigan and I saw the tents and the flags of the carnival and I said to my father, Stop the car. He said, What do you mean? And I said, I have to get out. My father was furious with me. He expected me to stay with the family to mourn, but I got out of the car anyway and I ran down the hill toward the carnival.

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Mysterious "demonic sounds" heard inside McDonald's

In Pueblo, Colorado at 3:330am Friday morning, terrified McDonald's employees called police after hearing "'demonic sounds' from a screaming woman" inside the restaurant.

According to Pueblo Police captain Tom Rummel, the employees also reported sounds of a "strange language and barking."

"They were so unnerved by the sounds that they said they wouldn’t be going back outside their building until after the sun came up," Rummel tweeted. "Three officers searched the area, but didn’t come up with the source of the disturbance."

(Pueblo Chieftain)

image: transformation of photo by Towinn (CC BY-SA 3.0) Read the rest

Celebrate Friday the 13th with "The Occult: Mysteries Of The Supernatural" (1977 )

Throw some salt over your shoulder and enjoy this 1977 Encyclopedia Britannica short documentary, The Occult: Mysteries Of The Supernatural, hosted by Christopher Lee who famously starred as Dracula in a string of British horror films of the 1950s and 1960s. ESP, Kirlian photography, black magic, telekinesis... Oh, how I miss this particular strain of high weirdness media that was so prevalent in the 1970s.

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Mysteries of the Unknown: Inside the world of the strange and unexplained

As a kid, I devoured cheap paperback books about “strange but true” phenomena. The short stories were anthologized from men’s adventure magazines of the 40s-60s and recounted mysteries such as: Who made the eerie statues on Easter Island? What happened on Amelia Earhart’s final flight? How do rocks in the desert move by themselves and leave trails in the mud? How do people spontaneously combust? Why did hundreds and hundreds of fish rain from the sky onto the heads of astonished residents of a small town in Australia? These stories set my imagination on fire.

Unfortunately, as I learned years later by going online, most of the stories turned out to be poorly researched or outright bogus. Mysteries of the Unknown is like these old books, but the stories are backed by solid research and a healthy amount of skepticism that does not detract from the fun. In fact, it makes the stories more fun. As an added bonus, the ample photos and illustrations bring the mysteries to life, making them even more mysterious.

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Fish has a human-like face

Tourists in China recorded a video of an unusual-looking fish. A woman can be heard on the video saying "See the fish has become a fairy, it has a human-like face."

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Real life folk horror: turkeys march in a circle around a dead cat

No horror film auteur could envision and produce something as creepy as a bunch of turkeys spontaneously circling and marching around a dead cat in the road. 

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Deeply creepy coin purse that looks like a man's mouth

Japanese artist/musician doooo created this fantastically creepy coin purse so he can really put his money where his mouth is. Previous works include the flesh phone case and a finger hanko (stamp), below.

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Mysterious moving lump on woman's face turned out to be a worm

Over five days, a 32-year-old woman in Russia took selfies to document a strange lump on her face that moved from under her left eye to above it and then later to her lip. She finally visited a physician who reported a "superficial moving oblong nodule at the left upper eyelid." Turns out, she had a particular kind of parasitic worm, Dirofilaria repens, living under her skin. From Live Science:

Humans are "accidental" hosts — in other words, not where the worms want to end up — and once a worm gets into a human, it typically can't reproduce.

The worms are spread by mosquito bites, and human cases have been reported in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, the 2011 report said. The Russian woman said she had recently traveled to a rural area outside Moscow and was frequently bitten by mosquitoes, according to the new report (in the New England Journal of Medicine)...

The Russian woman had the worm removed and made a full recovery, the report said.

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Video of mysterious humanoid creature strolling in Portuguese desert

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwUYXzjxZH8

This recently-posted video of a freaky cryptid was reportedly shot in a Portuguese "desert." Is it a sad transatlantic chupacabras? An exhausted yeti who wandered (very) far from home? A vacationing bigfoot on a bender? Or something else entirely...

(Mysterious Universe)

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Now I Know: The Revealing Stories Behind the World's Most Interesting Facts

When I was a kid, I devoured Frank Edwards' 1959 book of weird "true" stories, Stranger Than Science, and C.B. Colby's book of "hair raisers and incredible happenings," called Strangely Enough. The story about the Inuit village that mysteriously became a ghost town (with cooking fires still burning), and the one about the man who vanished on his front lawn in front of his wife and kids enthralled me and my friends.

Unfortunately, most of the stories weren't even "true." They were flat-out false, as I learned in recent years when I googled them.

A couple of months ago I received a review copy of Dan Lewis' Now I Know, which has 100 strange phenomena stories that are just as fun as Stranger than Science and Strangely Enough, with the bonus of being true. (UPDATE: It's on sale as a Kindle ebook for just $(removed)) Read the rest