FOAFTALE NEWS No. 36 (January 1995)
DISTRIBUE PAR ISCLR
PENSEZ A VOS ENFANTS!
Reproduisez ce document, distribuez-le autour de vous.
Affichez-le et, surtout, UTILISEZ-LE. Il y va de votre santé.
THE NEWSLETTER OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR CONTEMPORARY LEGEND RESEARCH
An evil eye
LEGEND AND LIFE:
ISCLR Meetings, May 1995
Contemporary Legend 3 on the way.
HAVE YOU HEARD?
Condoms in burgers
Frank de Caro,
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-5001.
From the brief news report of the Guatemalan body parts panic [FTN, nos. 33-34 (June 94): 17-18], we obviously lack the contextual information to go very far toward understanding the full meaning of the legends involved. They are, however, certainly reminiscent of Peruvian traditions of the pistaco (also called the nakaq) reported on by British journalist and novelist Nicholas Shakespeare in a 1988 issue of the literary magazine Granta, which has a particular interest in travel writing ["In Pursuit of Guzmán," Granta 33: 149-195]. [Also called ñakak by Shakespeare in his PBS tv programme about Peru, Legendary Trails, 15 Jan 1995. -PH]
While attempting to obtain information on Abimael Guzmán, the since-captured founder of the Maoist terrorist group Sendero Luminoso ("Shining Path"), Shakespeare learned about the pistaco. While in remote Ayacucho, he realized that he was being taken for a pistaco by some of them. From an article in a local newspaper he was able to determine
that a pistaco was a tall white foreigner who slept by day,
drank a lot of milk and carried a long white knife under his
coat. He used the knife to cut up Indians. He chopped off
heads and limbs, and kept their trunks for the human
grease with which he oiled his machines. Europe's
industrial revolution has been lubricated with the lard
made from helpless Indians. So had been the Vietnam and
Korean wars. The space shuttle Challenger, I learned, had
blown up because it lacked this "aceite humano".
Later Shakespeare conversed with a man who told him pistacos -- who were in the pay of the president of Peru, who needed the body fluid to pay off the country's foreign debt -- had recently murdered 30,000 Indians. According to him they were Argentinians, though a taxi driver insisted they were Swiss and another person that they came from a Peruvian town two hours away. Shakespeare met groups of people in the streets at night with various noisemakers, "convinced their children were in danger," and he heard the story of "the last white man to visit Ayacucho," a Peruvian travelling salesman. Taken for a pistaco, this person was attacked by a crowd, had his head crushed ("because you can't shoot a pistaco") and eyes torn out, and his body dragged through the streets.
A local university lecturer told the writer that he thought the pistaco tradition was being revived by Sendero Luminoso to stir up the populace. Whatever the truth of that assertion, Shakespeare was later to meet with anthropologist Efraín Morote Best, widely believed to have close connections to the Senderistas. Dr. Morote offered him a copy of a paper (apparently unpublished) he had written in 1951 on the pistaco which traced the belief back to 1571. Then Indians had believed that Spaniards needed "an ointment from the bodies of...Indians" to treat a disease known in Europe for which there was no European cure. The paper also enumerated the characteristics of the pistaco (he is a European or mestizo strangler who stalks at night, awaits his victims on bridges, and so on). (One wonders about a possible connection with the [apocryphal/legendary?] account of how Hernan Cortés told the Aztecs that the Spanish sought gold because it alone cured a "disease of the heart" from which they suffered; see, for example, William Weber Johnson, Cortés [Boston: Little Brown, 1975], p. 59.)
Though they may not be related to the body parts panic in terms of direct transmission, the pistaco legends surely are related thematically and perhaps psychologically to the Guatemalan stories. In both cases local people are evidently slaughtered, so that something of value to foreigners can be extracted from the bodies of the dead and sent abroad (the kidnapping of children for gringos who want to adopt them does not fit this pattern, though it is related to it). Both legend complexes come out of countries where there has been a long history of bitter conflict between Indians and European or Europeanized elites and where the former group has been repressed by the latter. Though of course it would be a mistake to try to conclude very much on the basis of such scant information (especially given the prevalence of rumours/legends about stealing body parts in many places), both sets of traditions do at least suggest a profoundly negative worldview held by some Guatemalans and Peruvians (certainly in the Peruvian case, and perhaps in the
Guatemalan, members of indigenous groups). In positing an existence in which local people's body parts/vital fluids are ripped/pressed out by/for profit-seeking white outsiders (whether local, North American, European, or some combination of these), the narratives make a distressingly powerful symbolic statement about exploitation by others. Such oral traditions might indeed be open to political manipulation (the incorporation of the national foreign debt and the Korean and Vietnam Wars in the Peruvian case is suggestive of that), though of course manipulation need not be the case. But certainly the apparent antiquity of the pistaco tradition may indicate oral lore which arose early in the history of the European invasion of the Americas, perhaps as a response to conquest and the exploitation of colonization, and which may have been an on-going response to repressive conditions as they evolved.
Box MP 49, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe.
For sometime now, a young Zimbabwean, Gunter Hoffer, has been helping me obtain legends from the people of this country. He has a ready access to a wide range of the people. He is very inventive and clever technologically, probably because his father is a German engineer. Recently he brought his grandmother, Cleo Rossin, to have tea with me and she told me several stories in which the masses of the people believe.
A long time ago she met this man named Timot and he told her of an incident that had occurred in his village. One day an old man came and, hypnotizing a young woman to follow him, took her to some caves nearby.
Later, her family and other villagers went to the caves to look for her but they could not find her. They believed that a large round stone nearby gave access to grounds underneath the cave and, when they moved the stone, they could see a cave beneath it. But no one wanted to go down there. So the family started to weep; they thought they would never see this woman again. But they were told by the other villagers, "No, don't cry. If you cry she will never come back." (One wonders if this is not a tale told to young children to stop them crying.) This was in August of that year, and after about a week or two, the young woman unexpectedly came back. She brought with her a lot of fresh fruit although it was not the season for that type of fruit. (August is the beginning of spring in the southern hemisphere, before the November rains and too early for fruit to have ripened.) They questioned her, "Where did you go?" She replied, "I am not supposed to tell you where I have been."
Then they asked, "Where did you get all this fresh fruit?" and they pressured her to tell them. Eventually she said she had gone beneath the caves. She said they had gardens there and grew fresh vegetables and fruit in that place. She said it was a very big place but if she showed them where it was, she would die.
All this took place on the other side of the Kafue River, not far from when Gunter's great-grandfather had his farm. The woman who was taken was young and lived underground with "those people" for two weeks. She said they grew all sorts of things like cucumbers, lentils, etc., but it was not the season for them, although she said they cultivated fields all the time.
But of course, no one could check it out!
Gunter's grandmother also told me that her family still owns some land in the region between the Kafue River and the Zambezi River. On the other side of the Kafue River, there were some flat rocks where the local people would go and do their laundry and dry their clothes on the rocks. Sometime last year (1993) they were washing their clothes when they heard a noise as though someone was driving a tractor, and it appeared to be coming from under the ground. These flat rocks didn't cover a very great area, perhaps half an acre, but as this noise was heard, so the rocks began to disappear. It wasn't as though just a few of the rocks went: they all disappeared completely and there was no trace left of the rocks at all!
When the astonished people looked, there was just soil and water where the rocks had been. The rocks were big but now there is just the river sand and the water running on top of it. The rocks had been there for many years, generations in fact.
The people in this area are very poor; poachers have shot a lot of the wildlife and the earth is almost denuded.
It sounded to me as though there might have been an earthquake, a minor one, although I have since established that this area is not subject to seismic involvement and although I wrote to the Goetz Observatory in Bulawayo, they have not bothered to reply to me.
THE STUCK COUPLE IN ANCIENT GREECE
Classical Studies, Indiana University, BH 547, Bloomington, IN 47405 USA
In a news item that appeared in The Times of Swaziland (December 1992) the husband of a Simunye woman, suspecting his wife of infidelity, apparently cast an "ulunyoka" spell, involving the ritual opening of a pocket knife. The spell would lock his wife and her lover together into a dog-knot until they should die, unless the man should first close the knife again with the appropriate charm. The husband then went out of town for the weekend, and the woman's lover came to her house, where the two made love. Afterwards, however, they discovered that they were unable to separate from each other. Eventually exhausted from their struggle, they fell asleep, and then they awoke again and tried in every way to "undo the knot," but to no avail. When after a day or two the horror of their plight struck them, the woman fainted and the man began screaming for help. On the fourth day a neighbour came by to visit and was shocked at the sight. She in turn summoned security guards, "who had a good giggle" and placed the couple on a stretcher in order to take them to the police station. On the road the group encountered the husband, who agreed to perform the ritual that would release the stuck couple. The incident was confirmed by the Swaziland Police, who said they were investigating (Ellis 1993).
If we allow for cultural differences and the passage of twenty-seven centuries, this report is strikingly similar to that recounted by the Greek poet Homer concerning the god Hephaistos (the cuckolded husband), the goddess Aphrodite (the adulterous wife), and the god Ares (the lover). Homer puts the story in the mouth of a character in the Odyssey, the bard Demodokos, who sings his ribald song of the love of Ares and Aphrodite for the assembled company of Phaiakians and their guest, the disguised Odysseus.
According to Demodokos, Ares and Aphrodite began carrying on an affair secretly in Hephaistos' palace, Ares giving her many gifts and dishonoring the bed of Lord Hephaistos. Helios (the sun) witnessed it and informed Hephaistos. The divine craftsman Hephaistos went straightaway to his smithy, where he angrily fashioned a network of unbreakable and invisible chains in order to bind the lovers. When the chainwork was finished he went to his bedroom where he threw the netting on the bed and onto the rafters above it, like a spiderweb. Then he made a show of departure to Lemnos. When Ares, keeping watch, saw Hephaistos leave, he proceeded to his house, filled with desire for Aphrodite. Ares took her hand and invited her to make love, and the two went to bed together, whereupon the smith's ingenious netting fell upon them in such a way they were completely unable to move and were unable to escape. Again Helios tipped off Hephaistos, who returned home and summoned the other gods to witness his wife's adultery. He added that he did not think they would be eager to prolong their embrace, for all their love, and would soon tire of their sleep, but to no avail, since his netting would keep them just where they were until Aphrodite's father should return his bride-price. The gods Poseidon, Hermes, and Apollo gathered about Hephaistos' house, but the goddesses modestly stayed at home. When the immortals stood at Hephaistos' door and saw the trapped lovers they were seized by unquenchable laughter, remarking that Hephaistos might be lame but he had outwitted Ares by his cunning. Turning to Hermes, Apollo asked if he would care to lie by the side of golden Aphrodite, though bound by chains, and Hermes replied that even if there were three times as many chains and if all the gods and goddesses were watching, he would still gladly lie beside Aphrodite. Again laughter arose among the gods. Then Poseidon urged Hephaistos to let Ares go, promising that if Ares failed to pay Hephaistos the adulterer's fine, Poseidon himself would pay it. Hephaistos agreed to this and undid the chains, releasing the lovers, who fled in different directions, Ares to Thrace and Aphrodite to Paphos (Odyssey 8.266-366).
The ancient narrative is at once a myth and a novella, for while it is a story of the doings of the gods it is at the same time a largely realistic tale of romance and intrigue, the kind of tale that in later times the Greeks and Romans generically called 'Milesian,' which is attested sporadically in ancient literature and in great numbers in later compilations such as Boccaccio's Decameron and the French Les cents nouvelles nouvelles. Supernatural motifs play little role in novelle, which focus upon ordinary men and women (that is, characters who are not gods, spirits, monsters, animals, heroes, heroines, or the like) in realistic settings, such as in ordinary towns. In the story of Ares and Aphrodite supernatural elements, though present, are few and unimportant. All-seeing Helios plays the role of informer, and Hephaistos fashions a wondrously invisible network of chains to catch the lovers, but any neighbour could have played the informer and a sheer net would have served as well to immobilize the lovers. Indeed, scholars ancient and modern have remarked on just how human these events are. An ancient commentator on the passage wonders why Hephaistos demands his bride-price back, asking what use the gods have for money (Schol. T on Od. 8.318). A modern scholar compares the concluding scene of the story to a comic scene in which Greek villagers gather at the house of the cuckold to see the trapped lovers, to joke, and to negotiate with the husband to release his catch (Bliss, 67-68). Another comments how "the divine cast of this little drama are thoroughly humanized: they are made to behave, and also to think, like the bourgeoisie of any place and age" (Hainsworth, 1.364).
I think these intuitions are correct, not because a myth has been humanized but because a novella about bourgeois human beings had been given a celestial veneer. Notice how easily the tale can be retold of human characters. A beautiful woman was married to a lame and unattractive blacksmith. She caught the attention of a handsome soldier, who won her over with gifts and began an affair with her. But the husband learned of his wife's infidelity and angrily determined to get his revenge by catching the lovers in the act and displaying them in public. He placed some sheer netting above and upon his bed. As soon as the smith departed, the soldier made his way to the house. When the lovers went to bed together the net fell around them in such a way that they could not move. The smith returned home and called out angrily to his father-in-law and to his neighbours to come and see what he had caught. And so on. The ordinary oral tale must have featured human characters, as novelle normally do, and for this reason lacked sufficient stature for heroic epic. Some bard recast the tale as a mythic novella for comic effect and in order to render it suitable for incorporation into heroic epic. Aphrodite and Hephaistos, who almost never were associated with one another in Greek tradition outside this story, were comically cast as husband and wife, Beauty and the Beast, an incongruous pairing that guaranteed erotic instability, the stuff of novelle. Apart from its Olympian overlay the story of Ares and Aphrodite is no different in kind from the ribald novelle, oral and literary, that were fashionable in later literary treatment.
There is little evidence outside of Homer for this story as a traditional oral narrative in ancient or modern times. Aarne-Thompson provisionally list as an international tale-type a story that, so far as its brief description goes ("A blacksmith ties his wife and her lover together and takes them to the king"), is reminiscent of the Greek novella; the entry rests upon a single text from Hungary (AT 1733B*). And, taken by itself, the concluding scene of the ancient story is similar to the principal motif of the contemporary legend known as The Stuck Couple, in which a man and a woman find themselves unable to disengage from sexual intercourse and require help (eg., Brunvand, 142-146).
But some African texts are closer to the Greek mythic novella because of the more active role played by the cuckolded husband, and in particular the text from Swaziland summarized above parallels the action of the ancient story in a remarkable way. Here we find (1) the wife's infidelity with a lover, (2) the husband's learning of (or suspecting) the affair, (3) the husband's cunning counteraction (divine netting/magic spell), (4) his show of departure, (5) the arrival of the lover at the house, (6) the lovemaking of the wife and the lover, (7) their discovering that they are helplessly trapped, (8) the arrival of the public (the gods/a neighbour), (9) the laughter at their expense (Hermes' jest/security guards' giggle), and (10) the negotiations with the husband, leading to (11) his releasing the lovers. The formal parallelism of the African legend and the Greek myth is striking. I leave open the question of an oral or literary connection of some kind between the texts. Interestingly, the newspaper article provoked outrage among the paper's readership, presumably for its sexual sensationalism, similar to the uncomfortable response that Demodokos' song called forth among later moralists.
Aarne, Antti, and Stith Thompson. The Types of the Folktale: A Classification and Bibliography.
FF Communications, 184. Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 1961.
Bliss, Francis R. "Homer and the Critics: The Structural Unity of Odyssey Eight." Bucknell Review 16:3 (1968), 53-73.
Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Choking Doberman and Other "New" Urban Legends. New York: Norton, 1984.
Ellis, Bill. "Stuck African Lovers." FTN 29 (Mar 1993),11.
Hainsworth, J.B., in Alfred Heubeck, et al. A Commentary on Homer's Odyssey. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988, 1: 363-372.
AN EYE ON SATANISM
Terry Colvin, firstname.lastname@example.org (6 Jan 1995):
An Associated Press release found its way into the local paper. I reproduce it in its entirety.
MERRIAM [KANSAS] -- A man who thought he saw a pentagram in the iris of his right eyeball popped it out of his head, used a knife to cut the connecting tendons and then flushed it down the toilet, police said.
The 26-year‑old man, who was not identified, told authorities he looked in the mirror Sunday evening and thought he saw the five‑pointed pentagram, which is commonly associated with the occult. When his roomates found blood all over the bathroom, they called for help. "The paramedics said his eye looked puffy and red. It just looked like somebody punched him," said Police Lt. Bill Leitzke. "But they opened up the eyelid and pointed a flashlight in there and his eyeball was gone." The man told authorities he couldn't remove the pentagram from his eyeball, so he had to remove the eyeball. The man was hospitalized at the University of Kansas Medical Center Tuesday night.
A letter to the editor was published in the St John's, NF, Evening Telgram 22 Oct 94, p. 5, entitled "Halloween Demonic." Signed by Louis L. Burry it linked the Solar Temple massacres to the prevalence of Halloween, ouija boards and television programming that shows "satanic rituals and every evil."
Lawn Bottles in Japan
Reitaku University, Chiba, Japan. email@example.com‑u.ac.jp.
This may be less than earth‑shaking news, but lawn bottles have started to appear in the Tokyo area. I first saw them this spring and now they are all over the Tokyo suburb where I live: Chiba. In July, a TV program ran an "experiment" to see if the bottles work. They reported that dogs paid them no attention but that cats were a bit leary of big, water‑filled bottles!
As a dog owner myself, I've realized that the bottles actually DO work but on the owners and not the dogs. Now I never let my dog pee near a house that has bottles in front.
Now that JHB's books are being sold in Japanese translation, variations of US ULs have started to appear in Japan more often. Last year there were many reports on TV news about an alligator that was living in a suburban Tokyo lake. The police took it very seriously and video clips of their search were a regular feature on the news for several weeks.
"GOOD‑TIMES CATHY" COMPUTER VIRUS
Bill Ellis, Penn State U, Hazelton, PA, USA.
Late on Thursday, 1 December, subscribers to several news groups, or e-mail lists focused on specialized discussion topics ranging from folklore and material culture to computer graphic design began to receive this warning:
someone named Cathy is sending a message with the
subject line "good times" that contains a virus which, if
downloaded, will destroy your hard disk.
By Saturday, 3 Dec., the warning had been made somewhat more specific by being linked specifically to the commercial networking service America Online. Like its rivals, Prodigy and Compuserve, this service allows subscribers to exchange e‑mail messages and computer programs. The updated warning read: There is a virus on America Online being sent by E‑mail.
If you get anything called "Good Times", DON'T read it
or download it. It is a virus that will erase your hard
drive. Forward this to all your friends. It may help
them a lot.
By Sunday, 4 Dec., yet another form of the warning, this one offering a new name, was being passed around the Internet, the "Information Superhighway" that links the various networks. This one added an alleged personal encounter with the virus:
A virus is circulating on the Internet. If you receive
a message with the header "xxx‑1" DO NOT READ
IT. Delete immediately or your disk will require
treatment by a virus‑scanner. I have had two copies
of this message this morning (Sunday) already, but
was warned by an early morning phone call from
a friend who got hit.
The warnings provoked intense discussion during circulation, particularly as they suggested that simply reading a note or e‑mail message could communicate a dangerous virus that could (in one common phrase) "wipe your hard disk." They appear to have been inspired by an earlier notice that appeared on specialized e‑mail lists as early as 17 Nov. This one, however, warned that "a file, going under the name "Good Times" is being sent to some Internet users who subscribe to on‑line services (Compuserve, Prodigy and America On Line)" [emphasis added]. This earlier warning similarly advised receivers to delete the file without downloading it, as it included a virus that "will ruin all of your files."
Files (including shareware programs and computer games) have circulated on the Internet for some time and have often been found to contain viruses. If downloaded into memory or executed, some of these can destroy data in other programs or damage the operating system that files and runs them. But despite the rapidly growing popularity of computer networks for sending e‑mail notes, no "message" had been known to accomplish the same thing.
Hence the spread of the "Good Times" warning provoked a backlash of skepticism, with many subscribers labelling the warning "an urban legend." The term "good time" is a euphemism frequently used by American prostitutes for sex, and at least one variant referred to a mysterious "Cathy" who was randomly offering "good times" to unwary computer users. This suggested that the alert adapted the "AIDS Mary" legend to the subject of computer viruses. Many users noted that viruses are, in fact, highly specific to certain kinds of mainframe and PC operating systems, and there is no known way of randomly infecting many different systems over e‑mail. The warning itself, many complained, was the virus, as it functioned as a chain letter, clogging users' mailboxes and generating yards of header identifying previous recipients.
But, a number of hackers responded, a virus could be passed on as a message in a variety of ways, the simplest being to attach a file with binary computer instructions to a mail message. The note would prompt the recipient to download the attached file; alternatively, the receiver's computer may download the note into memory before letting the user read it. In either case, the virus would be communicated to the PC's or mainframe's memory and could conceivably damage or erase programs. Another e‑mail message could include instructions to reformat the keyboard, so that the user would inadvertently delete files instead of executing them. One experienced user reported receiving more than once messages from news groups that temporarily scrambled the screen on his terminal, "sort of like a TV out of channel." He reported hearing through hackers that such a message was known as "a flash program" and said that users could be "flashed" without having to download a program [Jihong Dai, OSU Folklist, 7 Dec. 94].
"I knew there was a possibility that these were ill‑founded rumors," one list moderator commented, "but I will say this: I have been a UNIX System manager for 8 years and have done my time with PCs, too. I have seen weird interactions between software/hardware, the likes of which could provide material for years worth of head- scratching and shaking.... My point? I don't discount anything until its innocence is proven. [Brian White, 7 Dec. 94.] "I bet there are a lot of people on AOL [America Online] with a wiped hard drive," another hacker commented [LISTSERV List Owners' Forum, 5 Dec. 94].
On 1 Dec., a copy of a "Good Times" warning was sent to the US Department of Energy's Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAC) at California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Karyn Pichnarczyk of the CIAC Team suspected a hoax, but asked key virus‑watchers if a "Good Times" file had in fact been received by anyone. In a special e‑mail edition of CIAC Notes (6 Dec. 94) she announced that the "Good Times" virus was a hoax, also commenting in a related press release that the warnings had generated a panic like "yelling 'fire' on a crowded Internet." Pichnarczyk said this was not the first electronic urban legend to circulate, mentioning the Craig Shergold appeals and rumors about "Blacknet," a covert operation in which anonymous hackers are contracted to break into others' computers and exchange money anonymously. (See also FTN 16:6‑7).
And when America Online representatives attempted to trace the stories, they too were unable to confirm any specific instances in which subscribers had received a "Good Times" message, with or without an attached virus. In a 7 Dec. message to all subscribers, however, AOL conceded that it could not automatically scan files in e‑mail for viruses without compromising private communications; thus users were warned not to download files attached to messages if they were not familiar with the sender. And a British hacker agreed that vigilance was necessary, as new technological advances were occurring all the time. His local sysop, or e‑mail administrator, he added, was skeptical about the warning "but acted quickly to warn others." "Don't dismiss it as rubbish," he concluded. "If you do, I will send an anonymous message called 'Good Times' just to panic you into action!!!" [N. J. Morrell, University of Huddersfield, 9 Dec. 94].
This idea occurred to others. Pichnarczyk conceded that many people had actually received a message labelled "Good Times" but had deleted it without opening it to see what it contained, "thus believing that they have saved themselves from being attacked. These first‑hand reports give a false sense of credibility to the alert message." What is presumably one of these "Good Times" messages was posted 6 Dec. by one "Bill Bill" of Wetware on alt.folklore.urban (afu). Possibly inspired by a recent article describing chain letters as "mind viruses" [see Oliver R. Goodenough and Richard Dawkins, "The 'St. Jude' Mind Virus," Nature 371 (1 Sept.94): 23‑24], his version begins:
MAKE GOOD TIMES LAST!
The instructions in this message must be followed exactly
or an ill fate will destroy you! First, you must read this
message in its entirety. Then you must erase the contents
of your hard drive! Then you must send this message to
ten others, adding your name to the list below. Expect to
dispense ("win") one million dollars U.S. ($1,000,000!)
within a month!
The message then includes the alleged experiences of "Ric Okaysic of Immunoville, Florida" and "Annie Bodie, head nurse in Emergency at Explosion General Hospital," both of whom received the message, failed to erase their hard disks, and thus received the traditional bad luck. It ends by asking receivers, among other things, their blood type and family history of heart disease, an allusion to information that involuntary organ donors supposedly volunteer to strangers before being drugged and operated on. It ends:
This is not a virus.
This is NOT a virus.
Erase your hard drive NOW.
Other "copycat" messages were less witty. In one instance, Pichnarczyk noted, a person received an "xxx‑1" note and found it contained an empty message body:
Then (in a panic, because he had heard the alert), he
checked his PC for viruses (the first time he checked
his machine in months) and found a pre‑existing virus
on his machine. He incorrectly came to the conclusion
that the E‑mail message gave him the virus (this particular
virus could NOT POSSIBLY have spread via an E‑mail
message). This person then spread his alert.
And, on 7 Dec., the supervisor of the news group LAWLIB received a message with "Good Times" in the label and found a text reading "I am erasing your hard drive." A panic ensued, until a technician assured the users that their system was not infected. [Melissa Hassien Fayad, U of Missouri Law Library.]
Still, more people were affected by the alert than by any "Good Times" file. In yet another parody, with elements of the "Lights Out Gang Initiation" and the "Spider Software" parody (FTN 27:10), Owen Petard of the California Technology Project warned afu on 7 Dec:
If you receive a message from AOL entitled VIRUS
ALERT! DO NOT FLASH YOUR LIGHTS AT IT!
Your computer will crash! This is part of a secret
initiation ritual that all AOL members have to go through. I know this is true because I read it on the Internet. My
sysop's mother got one of these messages, opened it, and
her Kaypro exploded! She is still sweeping up the pieces
off her living room floor. [BE]
Puerto Rico Tunnel
We were in Puerto Rico recently on one of our frequent UFO phenomena research expeditions and picked up a news article from a lady there in Cabo Rojo and would like to know if anyone has more information or could refer us to reading material on this subject. The article was entitled "Scientists Discover Tunnel Through the Center of the Earth ‑ 3,000 Mile Passage Runs From Spain to Puerto Rico" and here are some excerpts.
Scientists have discovered an undersea tunnel between Puerto Rico and Spain which they believe connected the fabled continent of Atlantis with Europe 10,000 years ago. The 3,000-mile-long tunnel begins on the west coast of Puerto Rico not far from the city of Mayaguez and emerges in the Pyrenees Mountains in northern Spain according to Wesley Blume who led a team through the tunnel this summer.
The tunnel is about 30 yards wide and 20 yards high with walls as smooth as glass yet pliable as rubber says Blume. The walls radiate a greenish yellow light with no apparent power source. Most amazing though is that the air remains breathable and the pressure constant even five miles below the surface. The tunnel is not a freak of nature. It was made by intelligent beings. The incredible engineering feat is beyond the skills of modern tunnel builders says Igor Borony the team engineering expert. It is also very, very old and could date back to at least 40,000 years ago he says. The material used to construct the tunnel walls is absolutely amazing. We have nothing that even comes close to it. It is incredibly strong yet capable of bending and twisting with the shifting of the earth's crust. A building made of such material would be able to withstand the strongest earthquake without the least damage. The seven members of this international team believe the tunnel may be a remnant of the legendary lost continent [or?] of a vast network of such tunnels connecting the areas of the planet. It is surmised that the vast distances in the tunnel were probably covered by high speed vehicles powered by electricity, nuclear energy, or sound.
Borovy says the tunnel dips deep into the earth running under the ocean at depths of five to ten miles. Blume says the amazing tunnel leads from an underground cavern discovered by an unknown sugarcane cutter five years ago. Two years Blume led a small group into the cavern to explore the tunnels radiating from it. One of the tunnels led them two miles into the earth before they realized there was something special about it. Blume put together the current team last year to explore the tremendous tunnel more closely taking along a Land Rover and a huge supply of gasoline.
Blume and the other members of the international team hope to study the tunnel in detail. They hope to raise enough money to study the tunnel in detail this Spring. There are other tunnels which we believe lead to other parts of the earth says Blume. The Cavern seems to have been a sort of Grand Central Station for Atlantis or whoever built the tunnels.
If anyone out there can help refer us to more information on these tunnels we would appreciate it very much. We are taking a UFO expedition research group to Puerto Rico in January 1995 and while we are there will do some local research on the tunnels. We have room for other researchers if any of you are interested. Just E‑mail us to discuss this opportunity. [7 Dec 94]
NEW JEWELLERY LEGENDS: SOME TRACKS
compiled by Alan E. Mays, Penn State Harrisburg.
"You may recall the story; it sounds familiar to the consumer imagination. A young woman, not at all rich, is invited to a ball ‑‑ but she owns no proper jewelry. Her well‑to‑do friend, eager to be of assistance, offers her a gloriously beautiful necklace for the event, which our ingenue gratefully accepts. The evening is everything that could be wished, and she returns to her rooms with vistas of personal and material success opening wide before her...except that she discovers she has lost the necklace. Too embarrassed to explain this to her benefactor, she 'ruins her life' paying off the price of an exact copy. Many years later, when the two women meet by chance, the story comes out. But my dear, the older woman says, the necklace you borrowed was paste.
When I first read de Maupassant's 'La Parure.' I wondered two things. Would the rich friend give the real necklace, the copy, back? (We are supposed to think it was too late, that the bitterness of poverty and missed opportunity is corrosive.) And why did she wear paste when she could afford the genuine thing? (Better to keep money in the safe?) Do the rich know something about ownership and its symbols that the unrich do not?" [Jeff Weinstein, "The Neo‑Necklace," Village Voice (3 Jan. 1989): 34.]
"There's a story, probably apocryphal, going around on the cocktail circuit about a woman who engaged a painter to do her portrait. Early on, she asked that he paint expensive‑looking rings and bracelets on her fingers and arms. The painter pointed out that she was wearing no such jewels and asked why she wanted phony ones painted in.
The woman confided that she had only a little time to live and knew her husband already had selected his next wife, of whom she disapproved. 'When she sees this portrait,' the woman said, 'I want her to go out of her mind looking for the jewels.'" [Edgar Williams, "Anecdote: Oh, What a Scheme She Concocted," Philadelphia Inquirer (30 April 1988): 2‑B.]
"A woman making arrangements with an artist to sit for her portrait said to him, 'Although I have only a few items of jewelry, nevertheless I want this painting to show me wearing diamond rings and earrings, an emerald brooch, and a multi-strand necklace of pearls that look like they are priceless.'
'I can do this all right,' said the artist. 'But do you mind telling me why you want this when apparently you do not care for jewelry?
'You see, if I die first,' said the woman, 'and my husband marries again, I want that second wife to go out of her mind trying to find where he hid the jewels.'" [Ralph L. Woods, The Modern Handbook of Humor (New York: McGraw‑Hill, 1967), p. 297, entry 166.17.] [AEM]
ORGAN THEFT ARGUMENTS
[Tad Cook (firstname.lastname@example.org) contributes the following discussion from the Internet discussion SKEPTIC in mid-December 1994. The discussants are Tad Cook, J. Pharabod, Todd Levanthal and Mike Holloway (though it isn't always clear which is "speaking"). I expect that those willing to follow the discussion up at the SKEPTIC archives will find more. For non-Internet users, the convention of placing > before a line of text indicates that text is being quoted. . -PH]
Here is more stuff that appeared there...a response from the French fellow who mentioned the French media source, and then another message forwarded from Todd Leventhal.
Sender: SKEPTIC Discussion Group <SKEPTIC@JHUVM.BITNET>
Poster: "J. Pharabod" <PHARABOD@FRCPN11.IN2P3.FR>
Subject: The body parts business
>The French film concluded with a dramatic sequence in >which a mother in Colombia claimed that after she took
>her young son to a hospital for diarrhea, he emerged
>blind because his corneas had been stolen. The blind boy >was shown on the pages of Life magazine in October
>1993, playing a flute. On February 4, 1994, the Colombian >government's Office of Human Rights issued a report stating >that the child in question had gone blind due to disease. It >stated that when he had been examined at a Colombian >hospital in February 1983, at five months of age, he was >found to be suffering from multiple illnesses and his >prognosis was for a total loss of vision. The report states that >child was not treated at the hospital but by a herbal >therapist. It also states that the French journalist who >publicized the "cornea‑theft" story paid the child's mother >thousands of dollars for this version of events. The report >was signed by Dr. Alejandro Pinzon Rincon, Ombudsman for >Health and Social Security.
>Tad Cook (Thu, 15 Dec 1994 14:33:34 ‑0800)
I think this is one of the cases reported in the article in "Science et Vie Junior", December 1994. The journalist who wrote this article is Marie‑Monique Robin. Is she the above quoted French journalist who allegedly "paid the child's mother thousands of dollars"? The director of the redaction of "Science et Vie Junior" told me that Robin did not pay this mother. I don't know who is right, I am still waiting for a phone call from Robin. Being a true skeptic, I believe neither her, nor the Colombian Ombudsman for Health and Social Security. I think it would be good if Marie‑Monique Robin could discuss directly with Tad Cook, Mike Holloway and Todd Leventhal (by the way, did any of these three men go to Latin America and investigate?).
I read most of the archives about urban.legends/medical/ organ.theft at cathouse.org, and did not see anything about the slaughter at the Barranquilla (Colombia) University of Medicine: did I miss it? I found also that the case of the "Colonia Montes de Oca" (Argentina) was not convincingly treated in these archives. There was not only Pedro Reggi; according to Marie‑Madeleine Robin, between 4 and 6 pairs of corneas came each week from this "Colonia Montes de Oca" around year 1990 (but maybe she made up the whole story, though she quotes Laura Lorenzo, an ophtamolgist who runs the Lagleize hospital, where the Argentina corneas bank is said to be located). J. Pharabod
Poster: Mike Holloway, mike.holloway@MBCF.STJUDE.ORG
Subject: Organ theft myths (Re: The body parts business)
Apparently, Tad Cook has already posted Todd Leventhal's critique of the French film "Organ Snatchers". I can't find it in the Usenet echo yet, so if the whole article wasn't posted please let me know. Tad Cook apparently did the same thing I did and sent a message to Todd Leventhal asking for information about the accusations being posted here. Apparently, the people supporting the myths have not done the same. Todd asks that anyone really interested in the facts contact him directly rather than having people forwarding his articles....
Again, spreading these myths is not harmless. Thousands of people suffer and die as a result of the harm these urban legends do to organ donation.
>I think this is one of the cases reported in the article in >"Science et Vie Junior", December 1994. The journalist who >wrote this article is Marie‑Monique Robin. Is she the above >quoted French journalist who allegedly "paid the child's >mother thousands of dollars"?
Todd's article clearly states that the sum alleged was $60 US dollars. The whole of the article will be placed in the transplantation gopher site sometime next week. I'll post it here if it hasn't already been done.
Forwarded from Todd Leventhal:
Mike: I am very familiar with Marie‑Monique Robin. She is the French journalist who narrated a "documentary" called "Organ Snatchers" that is filled with errors, misrepresen-tations, and hoaxes. I have attached a critique of the program's main flaws.
Ms. Robin interviewed me on camera for one hour in May 1993, but did not include even a second of what I had told her in the program. She has since gone around inaccurately claiming that I work for "the information services of the Pentagon." In short, she seems willing to spread any lie or misrepresentation in order to make herself seem credible.
The claim that 4 to 6 corneas a week came from Montes de Oca is a typical piece of nonsense. Ms. Robin claims this in "Organ Snatchers." However, this assertion is contradicted even within her own program, in which she claims the Judge Heredia of Argentina, who investigated the Montes de Oca allegations, stated that 300 corneas were taken from Montes de Oca from 1989 to 1991. Four to six a week would be 200‑300 each year. Yet she cites Heredia as stating that there were only 300 in 3 years ‑‑ 100 per year.
When Heredia was interviewed on "The Body Parts Business," another pseudo‑documentary on this subject, he stated that 300 corneas had been received from Montes de Oca from "late 1979 to 1984 or a little longer." So now the figure is down to 60 per year. Finally, an article in the December 16, 1993 issue of the Spanish magazine "Cambio 16" says that 300 were taken between 1985 and 1992 ‑‑ or 40 per year. This same figure was also used on the November 25, 1993 "Hora Clave" television program in Argentina, which examined this issue and on which Heredia was interviewed.
So, the 200‑300 per year figure appears to be have no validity. Forty per year appears to be the correct figure.
Even more important is the question of how these corneas were obtained. Ms. Robin charges that they were stolen from people who were killed for this purpose. But according to Argentine authorities, the corneas were taken legally from people who died of natural causes at Montes de Oca. At that time, Argentine law permitted the director of the facility to authorize the removal of corneas for use in sight‑restoring transplantations if the relatives of patients who died at the institute could not be contacted within a specified period of time. According to Dr. Oscar Lopez Blanco, the former head of INCUCAI, the Argentine organization responsible for coordinating transplants, speaking on the November 25, 1993 "Hora Calve" program, all the corneal extractions at Montes de Oca were done legally and there was no wrongdoing involved. Dr. Blanco stated: "At the time corneas were being excised at Colonia Montes de Oca, the law authorized the hospital's director, in the case the relatives were absent, to authorize the ablation. This was in Law 21541 and I have it here highlighted. It appears there was nothing illegal."
The other charges made by Marie‑Monique Robin are equally spurious, as detailed in the attachment.
Please have anyone who wants more information on this subject contact me directly.
>The director of the redaction of "Science et Vie Junior" told >me that Robin did not pay this mother. I don't know who is >right, I am still waiting for a phone call from Robin.
How many times does she have to lie before you stop believing her?
>Being a true skeptic, I believe neither her, nor the >Colombian Ombudsman for Health and Social Security.
Having an "open mind" is not the same as accepting anything till proven wrong. That's absurd. The track record of the people promoting the "reporting" of these myths is enough for a "true skeptic". How many FOAF stories do you have to hear on one subject before becoming dubious? There's no end to these things. Urban legends breed more urban legends and organ theft myths don't just have legs ‑ they sprint. Requiring that there be someone responsible for tracing down all conspiracy rumors is not reasonable. The burden of proof lies with the people promoting the myths.
Proving the existence of an "organ black market" would not be difficult if one actually existed, or if the people "reporting" it actually knew what they were talking about. Organs can't be taken from anywhere and blopped in any old place. It can't be done in a garage. Many highly trained (and reasonably paid) people are needed. You need expensive equipment. Organs can not be preserved more than a few hours. They can't be frozen. They have to be procured from the donor carefully under sterile conditions. The donor has to have working blood circulation or else the organ will have too much damage to work. Where are these roving surgeons and mobile operating theaters? They have to be in the right place at the right time. Kidneys have to be tissue typed and matched to the tissue type of the recipient. This requires a lab with specialized equipment and personel. Other organs have to be moved to the recipient even faster than kidneys, but must be at least blood type matched ‑ immediately. Where are the labs? Where's the organization to match the donor and recipient? We have a rather complex, and very public, system for doing these things in the US. The agency involved has e‑mail and would very much like to answer your questions and give you a tour. Are we to believe that this kind of organization has been reproduced in absolute secrecy? Where are the transplant surgeons? Where are the transplant clinics? Transplant patients can't just get up and fade into the night. They need careful monitoring and care the rest of their lives. Where are these patients? Where are their doctors? The unethical practice in China of obtaining organs from executed prisoners, rather than being "evidence" of the existance of a black market, is an excellent example of why a secret black market does not exist. The Chinese government has reportedly gone to some lengths to keep news of this practice a secret, but have been unable to do so. You can find the hospitals. You can find the doctors. You can find the patients. We know how they do the matching. We know the doctors in Hong Kong and Taiwan that refer their patients to the mainland Chinese. The very nature of transplantation makes it impossible to keep it a secret.
This is a very serious topic. People, real people, good people, are dying because some people think they can make a buck out of "reporting" this crap and because other people are titillated by it. Be responsible. Give a damn for other people who can't fight back.
LEGEND AND LIFE
SUBWAY FIEND ESCAPES ASYLUM, KILLS
Bill Ellis, Penn State U, Hazelton, PA, USA
On 4 Jan. 95, an assailant pushed Soon Sin, a 63‑year‑old Brooklyn grandmother, to her death in front of a subway train at a Manhattan subway platform. Laughing and babbling, he temporarily escaped into a maze of walkways and stairs but was pursued by an eyewitness who tackled and held him for police. The assailant proved to be Reuben Harris, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who had been committed to an mental institution after he had slashed the face of a fellow subway traveller with a razor in April 1988. Found unfit to stand trial because of insanity, he was committed to Manhattan Psychiatric on Wards Island, from which he had escaped four times since last May.
After the first three escapes, he was assigned to a caseworker who was supposed to "intensively" monitor Harris's movements. Still, the patient was given freedom to walk the grounds of the asylum, which is connected to Manhattan by footbridge and city bus. The caseworker was not told of Harris's latest escape and learned of it only by accident when he went to the institution to visit him. Records showed that 45.6% of patients admitted to Manhattan Psychiatric in the previous year had later walked out without consent; 28 of these were considered dangerous to themselves or to others.
The incident, coming soon after a would‑be extortionist ignited a firebomb on board a subway train, sharpened many riders' fears. "It's just not safe in the city anymore," one commented. "You don't know whether you're coming home from work or not." "I'm scared to death," another agreed, adding that he had done time in two state prisons for armed robbery. A rider who had taken a train from the same platform just before the same incident believed he had walked past Harris: "Think about it," he said. "Just a couple of seconds separating you from a thing like that. It's like something out of a surrealistic drama."
A subway spokesman, trying to reinforce the New York Transit Authority's advertising campaign to reassure riders, noted that reported crime in the subways had been reduced by half in the last four years. Last year, he conceded, another person had been killed by being pushed in front of a train, but no deaths had been recorded in the previous two years. Asked how many people had been pushed but had survived, he conceded the Transit Authority kept no such figures. [James Barron, "Woman Pushed to Her Death in Front of Subway," New York Times (5 Jan. 95): A1, B3; Celia W. Dugger, "Suspect in Subway Killing Escaped 4 Times Since May" Ibid.: B3; Richard Pérez‑Peña, "Subway Death Stirs Call for More Curbs on Mental Patients," NYT (6 Jan. 95): A1, B4; Douglas Martin, "For Many Subway Riders, a Greater Feeling of Fear" Ibid.: B3. For previous subway/tube fiends, see FTN 19: 9.] [BE]
SOURCE FOR WHALE STORIES
Alan E. Mays
Here's my posting to alt.folklore.suburban regarding a newspaper account similar to the "exploding whale" story that's been making the rounds on the net for a few years now. You may know that a whale actually was blown up in Oregon in 1970 as a means of disposing of the carcass after it washed up on shore. A local news crew videotaped it (complete with blubber flying through the air ‑‑ you can ftp a file of this if you have the proper software for viewing it, though I don't unfortunately), and Dave Barry's humorous newspaper column about the incident has been sent far and wide over the Internet. The following account seems quite similar, and I'm wondering whether such mishaps involving whale explosions are really that common or if it's a story that makes the rounds. In any case, be warned that it may not make for the most appetizing pre‑meal reading.
In light of the now well documented 1970 Oregon whale blubber explosion immortalized by Dave Barry, I'd like to offer this sighting of a similar whale disposal in New Jersey, circa 1957. This account is taken from Clark DeLeon, "Thar She (UGH! EEEooooo!) Blows!" Philadelphia Inquirer (23 June 1992): B2. Note the graphic description of flying blubber. Too bad there's no film footage for comparison:
"I've been down here 32 years and I can assure you I've never had one like that," said Mayor James Mancini of Long Beach Township, N.J., recalling the dead whale that exploded on the beach three years before his election in 1960. "I was there when it went off," recalled Herman Joorman, owner of Polly's Dock fishing pier in Beach Haven, who was a young man watching from the street that winter's day when a 70‑ton whale was stuffed with dynamite and blown to smithereens on Long Beach Island. Therein lies a tale. Or a fluke. As you might imagine, there were whale parts all over the place. "It went way, way up there and everyone watching just sort of stood there shocked, looking up," Joorman said. "Then it started coming down, everyone started running and screaming."
"The Day It Rained Moby Dick" was recalled on the island earlier this month when a 52‑foot dead whale washed up on shore in Beach Haven Crest. The whale was cut up and buried at a cost to the township of $5,000, to which the story in the Beach Haven Times commented, "Whale disposal has progressed over the years."
In 1957 a 70‑ton whale washed up in Brant Beach and a contractor named George Damon was hired to remove it. "He was pretty infamous," Joorman recalled yesterday. "A real do‑it‑all kind of guy who always had some scheme working."
Mayor Mancini was more diplomatic. "He was a little extraordinary," he said of Damon. "Kind of colorful, you might say."
When the big whale washed ashore, it proved too much for the township's roads department to remove. "George, he was that type, he came forward and told the [then] mayor that he could put a metal mesh net over the whale and then stuff dynamite down its throat," Mancini said. "The idea was that an explosion would break the whale up into pieces and the net would hold the pieces."
That was the idea, and the mayor approved it. We in Philadelphia know what can happen when the major allows high explosives to be used for unconventional purposes. [This refers to the police bombing of MOVE, a fringe religious group, a few years back. The resulting conflagration killed some people and destroyed a few city blocks.]
"Apparently, the dynamite wasn't placed properly," Mancini said. It went up like a geyser straight up the middle." The net didn't work. "I saw the lady in a fur coat start scrambling up the dunes and a big piece of blubber wrapped around her neck and almost knocked her down," Joorman said. "I lived a couple of blocks away and I had blubber red marks on my house," Mancini said. "There was blubber on rooftops, blubber in the yards."
Didn't anyone file a lawsuit? "In those days people weren't as litigious," Mancini said. Besides, "you could hose it right off."
And whatever became of George Damon? "Last I heard, he was up in Alaska," said Mancini. "Panning for gold," added Joorman. (I wonder where Damon was in 1970!)
Bill Ellis, Penn State U, Hazelton, PA, USA
State game wardens shot a great horned owl near Greenville, Maine, on 5 Jan. 95 after local senior citizens repeatedly complained that it had been buzzing them as they left their houses. The last straw came when Robert Shufelt took his dog Bandit for a pre‑dawn walk. The owl reportedly seized the animal, a poodle/Pekinese mix weighing 20 pounds [9 kg.] and momentarily lifted it out of sight. "It shocked me. I couldn't believe it," Shufelt said, adding that the bird dropped Bandit but landed on top of the animal. "When [the owl] was standing on the dog, he was up to my belt buckle. It opened its wingspan up and hissed at me." The owner finally forced the owl off, but by this time the dog was beyond help. Shufelt later saw the same owl attempt to carry off another resident's cat.
Paul Fournier, spokesman for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, called the bird a menace that probably was responsible for several missing pets in the neighborhood. He suggested that it might have mistaken the white‑coated dog for a snowshoe hare, its normal winter prey. Fournier also cited a Canadian incident in which an owl attacked a man wearing a fur hat, fatally piercing his skull with its talons.
Stan Richmond, a more sympathetic raptor specialist, suggested that the bird might have been driven to desperation through hunger and was simply attacking anything that moved. While he sympathized with Bandit, he added that owners should be responsible enough to keep pets inside at times when raptors normally seek prey. "We both have to live in the same environment," he concluded. The bird will likely be mounted and donated to a college or museum for study. [Diana Bowley, "Owl attacks, kills dog, terrorizes Maine town," Bangor Daily News (6 Jan.95): A1,A4; AP (6 Jan.95). For previous bird vs. pet encounters, see FTN 33‑34:13‑15, and Mark A. Hall, Thunderbirds! The Living Legends, rev. edn. (available for $20 ppd. from MAHP, P.O. Box 3153, Butler Station, Minneapolis, MN 55403.)] [BE]
[An Associated Press wire story, "Second owl attack on dog," appeared in the St. John's Evening Telegram, 17 January 1995, p. 19. Datelined Corinth, Maine, it refers back to the Greenville incident, and tells of Swazy, "a little white dog" belonging to Robin Kinney of Corinth; Swazy was attacked twice in an hour by "an owl with a wingspan of over one metre." The accounts have spread to Southern Ontario. A regular birders' column by Peter Whelan ("Birds: Weird winter brings weird owls") in the Globe and Mail (21 Jan 1995, p. D4) referred to "a man walking his dog" (a Jack Russell terrier) twice shooing a great horned owl away from his pet. Whelan's explanation is that owlets fallen from nests last winter were raised by children to near-adulthood in the presence of human beings and have thus lost their native fear of them. See also the references to eagles carrying away infants in Roberta Buchanan's "Some Aspects of the Use of Folklore in Harold Horwood's Tomorrow Will Be Sunday." Culture & Tradition 8 (1984), 87‑100. PH]
ANOTHER PENNSYLVANIA MYSTERY CAT
Bill Ellis, Penn State U, Hazelton, PA, USA
About 8:45 am on Wed., 4 Jan., Beth Barkley of Yeadon, Pennsylvania, a rural suburb of Philadelphia, went to the back door to let out her Rottweiler. She heard "a growl, the kind a cat makes," and saw a pair of hind legs disappear over the fence. At first, she thought it was a Great Dane, but changed her mind when her dog dug in his back feet and refused to leave the house. She phoned the police, and the officer handling the switchboard suggested that it might have been a lion. Soon after, police received 3 similar calls, describing the animal as large and maned with light‑coloured fur, wearing a chain and leash with dog tags. All identified the beast as a lion, though one described its actions as "running around like ... a big, playful puppy, or whatever." By day's end, 10 residents claimed to have seen it or heard it roar.
Authorities searched the area on foot and from helicopters for 8 hours without results. No lions were found missing at the Philadelphia Zoo, and officials could locate no licence for a privately owned big cat in the area. But David Wood, curator of large mammals at the Philly Zoo said that if the reports were genuine, small children were definitely at risk, as "small and easy prey" for hungry cats. Police alerted schools and parents, asking them to pick up their children and keep them off the street. Still, Wood was skeptical, saying "We get stuff like this all the time" and suggesting that the animal was probably "a large dog." By day's end, though, officials were beginning to suspect that the affair was in fact a case of mistaken identity.
All this changed the next day when Yeadon Police Officer Michael Dolly, standing guard behind a school during dismissal, saw the cat sitting on a mound of dirt under good light and viewing conditions. He identified it positively as a puma wearing a thick choker chain around its neck. When he tried to approach the animal, it sped into underbrush: "I've written a lot of speeding tickets, and that thing could run," he said. "It was doing an easy 30." Police at once closed in on the area but found nothing; elsewhere, a detective spotted "a frozen pawprint of an animal with long claws." One popular theory suggested that the animal had escaped from a circus train that passed through town.
Animal control officials set up a major hunt of the area for Friday, predicting that the puma would be shot dead rather than trapped. But after a 4‑hour hunt in the area of the last sighting, the weather turned bad, and the hunt was called off. On Saturday police did not try to mount an organized hunt, but scrambled anyhow when a caller spotted the cat. No animal was found. On Sunday officials said they would not hunt further unless they received a specific, credible sighting.
TV humorist Jay Leno mentioned the flap in his 6 Jan. monologue, and local skeptics made cynical remarks: one, asked if she was scared, responded, "No, I'm a Leo." Another, a mother, found that her children were less frightened than enthralled by the affair: "All they do is run around laughing and yelling, 'Mommy, Mommy, the lion's going to get me, the lion's going to get me!' It's a big joke to them. But this could be for real, and I don't want anything to happen. It's kind of scary."
After a lull, patrol officers and a local town watch saw the cat, now described as a "cougar," around 3:30 am Tuesday night (10 Jan), at the Cobbs Creek Golf Course. Two vets and a technician from the zoo were called in with a tranquilizer gun, public outcry over the plan to shoot it dead having generated a "fan club" supporting the cougar. Again, the cat slipped away. Sightings later that night placed it in various areas along Cobbs Creek and Indian Creek in the West Philadelphia neighbourhood of Overbrook. It was last spotted by police and civilians at 7:25 am (or just about dawn) behind a local supermarket, and daylight searches were again futile. One person expressed the theory that "someone is letting [the animal] out every night and taking him back in. That's why no one sees him during the day."
Local media coverage had been whimsical, calling the story "a rumor as elusive ... and seductive to normally sensible folks, as a sighting of dear, dead Elvis himself." But when the cougar showed again about 10 am on 10 Jan. near Morris Park in Overbrook, just north of previous sightings, most officials agreed that it was for real. Charles E. Warnick, a local pet shop owner who had two pet cougars, offered to take the younger of his animals out and leave it alone in a cage. The captive cat would call out because of loneliness, he reasoned, and the escaped animal would be attracted to it. Game commission officials were considering the option, along with others such as helicopters. "They do not like to give up their power, their domain," Warnick commented. "The sightings will become greater and greater," he added. "Cougars are elusive, and very smart."
Keeping an eye on the bushes...
[AP (5 Jan. 95); Richard Berkowitz, Glen Justice, and Cynthia McGroarty, "Beastly rumor stalks streets of Yeadon and Darby," Philadelphia Inquirer (5 Jan. 95): B1‑B2; Marie McCullough, Cynthia McGroarty, and Richard Berkowitz, "About that Delco [Delaware County] lion? Maybe folks weren't lyin'," Ibid._ (6 Jan. 95): B1‑B4; Richard Jones, "Yeadon's lionized mystery the talk of several towns," Ibid. (8 Jan. 94): B2; "Police cut cougar patrols, citing lack of sightings," Ibid. (8 Jan. 95): B2. Reid Kanaley and Karen E. Quinones Miller, "Amid the cougar hunt, life, and a game, go on," Ibid. (12 Jan. 95): B1, B6; Walter F. Naedele, "No cougar yet, but a new idea," Ibid. (12 Jan. 95): B1, B8. For a similar mystery lion flap near Erie, PA, see FTN 30: 9 and Loren Coleman, "Cryptozoo News" Strange Magazine 12: 28.] [BE]
HAVE YOU HEARD?
The following might be worth watching as a "Batman in the Closet" analog. I'm reminded of the "AIDS Mary" variant that went through here, where it was stressed that the male in the story was a very young boy who was being initiated into sexuality by a group of his peers who took him to a whorehouse. [BE]
From: email@example.com (Stephen O'Connell)
Subject: Camden Nightmare
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 1994
I have a story which should be read by only "hardened" folk (so to speak), as this story does contain some unwholesome parts... The story concerns that favourite: the stag night: well this bloke was getting married and so his mates were in Camden in London for a big lads night out to see their mate off before he ties the knot. Well, there was a lot of drinking, and for a bit of a joke the lads tied the groom‑to‑be to a lamppost, naked. They then went off for a few more pints. They came back a few hours later to find that their mate had been *gang raped* by a group of men. The groom‑to‑be called off the wedding and lost ties with the girl he was marrying: all in all ‑ not a very good stag night.... Rob
[On 3 Aug 1991, the St. John's Newfoundland Evening Telegram (p.1) ran a photograph of a man, a groom-to-be, chained to a traffic sign near his place of work. He had been "subdued in his office, shackled with the traditional ball-and-chain, put in the back of a pickup and chained to a yield sign at the intersection of Charter Avenue and East White Hills Road. He was released two hours later after which his staff gave him a pre-marriage barbecue." Is this bondage a widespread stag custom? - PH]
MORE STUCK COUPLES? Adrienne Mayor is searching for versions of the "stuck couple" legend. She is especially interested in any penis captivus or vaginismus variants involving alcohol, freezing weather, or withholding urine during drinking contests for comparison with a 13th‑century tale. Contact: Adrienne Mayor, 55 Aiken Avenue, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA.
[From: firstname.lastname@example.org, 5 Dec 1994]: Here's a new (or old?) one that's making the rounds in Michigan: heard from a FOAF that a guy he used to work with went to the drive‑through at McDonald's to get a Big Mac for lunch. He drove away, took a bite ‑‑ there was something kind of chewy in the lettuce. He took another bite, being very hungry and late to his job helping to tar a roof and he bit into something he couldn't understand. He almost crashed his car when he realized he had a used condom in his mouth! It was a green condom so he couldn't see it in the lettuce at first. He drove straight to an AIDS testing clinic and his boss fired him for missing the afternoon at work! The nurse at the clinic told him that he was the third person to come in that week who had gone to that McDonald's and accidently bit into a used condom. One of the people swallowed one and had to have emergency surgery! I heard it was the McDonald's on Secor in Toledo, Ohio.
[This might be one to keep an eye on. It sounds like "Hold the Mayo" finally getting around to Goliath. And there was a similar report of a condom coughed out of a slice of bread bought at a specific Safeway store in Oakland, CA, reported in FTN 25:10‑11 (Mar.92). - BE]
NAZIS PUT OFF BY CEMETERY LEGEND
Simon J. Bronner is seeking information, references, or texts relating to "The Remu Cemetery Legend." This is the post‑Holocaust story told by survivors to explain why the Remu Cemetery survived Nazi destruction. There are many variants, but it revolves around the idea that the Germans were scared or surprised by the magic/omen/curse around the Remu Stone in the Krakow Remu Synagogue Graveyard. Send information to Simon J. Bronner, Distinguished Professor of Folklore and American Studies, Penn State Harrisburg, 777 W. Harrisburg Pike, Middletown, PA 17057‑4898.
Contemporary Legend: The Journal, that is
As you are all probably aware, Contemporary Legend 3 was delayed for a variety of reasons -- most of which can be attributed to the ineptitude of our courier service (Purolator) to deliver overnight parcels on time. (In one case they lost a parcel of material for five weeks.) Having said that, CL 3 is now in the mail to subscribers and we hope to have CL 4 and 5 hard on its heels.
Thank you all for your patience.
Best wishes for the New Year.
Paul Smith, Editor, CL
The International Society for Contemporary legend Research will hold the 13th International Perspectives on Contemporary Legend Conference at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio, Texas, USA, 22 to 27 May 1995. Paper abstaracts and titles should reach Mark Glazer before 1 February 1995 with conference fee of US$60 ($78 for non-members and $30 for students). Mark Glazer, Department of Psychology and Anthropology, University of Texas-Pan American, 1201 West University Drive, Edinburg, Texas 78539.2999, USA (Phone: 210-381-3329; fax: 210-381-2177; email: email@example.com).
An Anthology of Legends. Carl Lindahl requests submissions and ideas for an anthology of legend texts, intended for both classroom and scholarly use, that would present as wide a variety as possible of the contexts, texts, and interpretations that characterise legendry in vivo.
The book's first aim is to offer an open-ended survey of the variety and richness of living legendry. Tales currently associated with the terms contemporary legend, urban legend, belief legend, modern horror legend, legendary anecdote, ghost story, legend joke, exemplum, historical legend, legend trip, legend panic, and rumour will all be included.
Second, and equally important, the book will present a wide variety of contexts, collecting styles, transcription systems, and interpretations.
Like anthologies available now, the book will include some of the most widespread types as found in the media.
Furthermore, like the articles that appeared in early issues of Indiana Folklore, the book will present some samples of 'type studies' complete with variant texts.
The book will also include at least one or two case studies, for which Bill Ellis's study of the Highgate Cemetery, Sylvia Grider's study of the Yellow Rose of Texas, or Elissa Henken's study of Georgia towns spared from Sherman might served a models.
Studies of xerox lore and its early predecessors (such as Paul Smith has conducted) will also appear.
Above all, the book will present various field collections -- the performances least accessible in current publications. These collections will embrace ritual contexts as well as texts. One submission, for example, recounts a ritual game played by teens in which they played roles of both monsters and victims. Another will include the slumber party ritual, "light as a feather, stiff as a board", along with the stories used to enhance the ritual. A third will present legends told informally by a fundamentalist church group to illustrate and validate their beliefs concerning angels and demons.
Recent legend collections emphasise content over performance and context. This anthology will strive to redress that imbalance by including extended performances and contexts, along with interpretations -- such as Gillian Bennett's presentation and analysis of an adolescent story-telling session. Instead of offering a normalised transcription system, the editor encourages each author to submit his or her own systems and solutions for presenting these protean texts and their contexts. Contributors are invited to talk about the difficulties of capturing legend texts. For example, Carl Lindahl will present recorded texts involving the Seventh Book of Moses, but also write about ways in which all his recorded materials fall short of the oral performances he heard when the tape recorder was not running.
Please send your texts, discussions and ideas to Carl Lindahl, Department of English, University of Houston, Houston, Texas 77204-3012, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Phone 713-743-2955. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
THE CUTTING EDGE
BOOKS AND MONOGRAPHS
Patrick Tacussel, ed. Le Réenactment du monde. L'Harmattan (5-7 rue de l'Ecole Polytechnique, 75005 Paris, France), 1994, pp. 296. Proceedings of the conference "Sociologies IV", U Montpelier, 10-12 May 1990. Of interest are three articles: V Campion-Vincent, "Bébés en piéces détachées: une nouvelle légende latino-américaine" (The baby parts story: a new latin-american legend); J-B Renard, "Le tract sur les signes de reconnaissance utilisées par les cambrioleurs: rumeur et réalité" (Photocopied flyers with hobos' and burglars' secret signs); and M-L Rouquette, "Le rôle de l'implication personelle dans le syndrome de rumeur" (Results of psychosociological experiments on involvement: the more the subjects are concerned with information,the less they memorise it correctly). [Jean-Bruno Renard]
JOURNALS AND NEWSLETTERS
The Anomalist ("A semi-annual book series exploring the mysteries of science, history and nature") No. 1 (Summer 1994). Includes articles on "alien writing"; spontaneous human combustion; UFOs and cargo cults; and the Datona Beach "mystery wave" of 1992. "Anomalies ... encourage the framing of rogue paradigms, such as morphic resonance and the steady-state universe. Anomaly research often transcends current scientific currency by celebrating bizarre and incongruous facets of nature, such as coincidence and seriality" (from "Commentary" by Wm. R. Corliss). Published twice yearly @ US$10/issue ["each illustrated issue (5½ x 8½ inches, perfectbound) runs more than 125 pages"] by Patrick Huyghe (an ISCLR member) (Box 577, Jefferson Valley, NY 10535 USA) and Dennis Stacy (Box 12434, San Antonio, TX 78212 USA).
Cahiers de l'Imaginaire" No. 10 (1994) is a special issue on "Rencontres et apparitions fantastiques" (fantasy encounters and apparitions). Edited by Jean-Bruno Renard, it presents a comparative and anthropological approach of narratives involving encounters with supernatural entities. Includes: J-B Renard, "Présentation" (Foreword); L-V Thomas, "Imaginaire et recontres insolites" (Imagination and strange encounters); J-B Renard, "Pour une sémiotique des recontres insolites" (Towards a semiotic approach to strange encounters); J-M Brohm, "La météorite d'Ensisheim -- Sur quelques aspects de l'imaginaire des signes du ciel: apparitions célestes et disparitionss terrestres" (The Ensisheim meteorite, Alsace 1492 -- a few aspects of the signs-in-the-sky fantasy: heavenly apparitions and earthly extinctions); L. Boia, "L'île, lieu de l'étrange" (Island, the scene of strangeness); M Meurger, "Naturalisation et factualisation de l'Imaginaire - l'exemple de l'homme-marin" (Naturalised and factualised fantasy: the case of the sea-man); F Dumerchat, "Des auto-stoppeuses fantômes, héritières des fées" (Vanishing hitchikers: descendants of the fairies); B Méheust, "Les apparitions de Guadalupe -- Enquête sur l'enquête de Jacques Lafaye" (The apparitions at Guadalupe, Mexico, 1531 -- disputing Jacques Lafaye's theory); N Martinez, "Du 'mulo' tsigane au 'mujao' andalou" (From gypsy "mulo" to Anadalusian "mujao" -- about gypsy ghosts); E-S Mercier, "Les habitants de la frontiére de la vie -- Recontres dans les NDE" (The inhabitants of the frontier of life -- Encounters in near-death experiences); C Bergé , "Rhétoriques du témoinage -- la rencontre aves les Espirits" (Rhetoric of evidence -- encounters with spirits); H Evans, "Visiteurs fantastiques -- l'énigme des entités" (Fantasy visitors: the entity enigma). Price "about 120 Francs" from Editions L'Harmattan, 5-7 rue de l'Ecole Polytechnique, 75005 Paris, France. [Jean-Bruno Renard]
E.L.F. Infested Spaces: Journal of Possible Paradigms." Quarterly @ US$10 a year from Stephen Miles Lewis, Box 33509, Austin TX 78764 USA. No. 2 (Fall 94): "Anthropology & UFO Cosmology, Electronically Channelled Messages From Beyond, Global Synchronicity Conspiracy, Mind Kontrol In Texas, Fortean Blobs, Alien Sex, lucid Dreaming, Book, Film, Magazine & Audio Reviews, and MORE!"
FLS News: The Newsletter of the Folklore Society. Subs: £4.00 p.a. (two issues) for non-members of the Folklore Society (free to members), c/o University College, Gower Street, london WC1E 6BT, U.K. No. 20 (Nov 94) includes subject index to all twenty issues, including contemporary legends and panics as well as other modern lore. Report by Bari Hooper on Christians averse to bar codes for their likening to the mark of the beast, 666.
Fortean Times: The Journal of Strange Phenomena. International news accounts and reports of anomalous phenomena, often with photos. Subs: one year (6 issues) £12 (UK), £15 (EC), US$36 (elsewhere), FT John Brown Publ., Freepost (SW6096), Frome, Somerset, BA11 1YA, United Kingdom. Email: email@example.com. No. 77 (Oct/Nov 94): people buried with their favourite autos; crop circles; storms and weeping animals that followed death of Kim Il-sung in July 1994; urine battery; medical recoveries; Ripper forger confession; seal loose in N.J. "may have got into the sewers"; Internet & fax rumours & spoofs; Elvis Presley ghost; lake monsters; giant Brazilian sloth; flying rocks explained; religious ecstatic groups; flying hedgehogs; ghost photo of U.S. outlaw; bogus social workers in Britain; comet predictions; and more. No. 78 (Dec 94/Jan 95): the white buffalo calf; cliff-carving; preserved bodies; bees at keeper's funeral; Sir Isaac Pittman made holy by Madras stenographers; vampires; lightning survivors; Hair Felting syndrome; new animal species in Vietnam; UFOs and the USAF; voodoo; winged cats; Uri Geller; fifty oldest people at death; mystery animals in New Guinea; reviews and more.
Letters to Ambrose Merton: A Quarterly Folklore Miscellany (Formely Dear Mr. Thoms), compiled by Gillian Bennett and Sandy Hobbs has "a special interest in current legend and rumour, photocopy lore, contemporary custom and popular belief." Subs : £7.50 p.a. to G. Bennett, 28 Brownsville Rd., Stockport SK4 4PF United Kingdom. First issue under this title due early 1995.
Magonia: Interpreting Contemporary Vision and Belief Britain's premiere journal for skeptical investigation of UFOs and claims of the paranormal. Subs (for four issues): £5 in U.K., £6 in the rest of Europe , US$13 in USA, and £6.50 elsewhere (a FF100 note will suffice for seven issues to France). No. 50 (Sep 94): Concludes Martin Kottmeyer's article on the development in fiction and in belief of an "influencing machine" controlling human behaviours; radar screen evidence of UFOs; and part iv of Peter Rogerson's "Notes towards a Revisionist History of Abductions" examining earlier reports for signs of the evolution of the belief phenomenon. Reviews and notes, including summarised note from journal Light Rail and Modern Tramway about the 1993 German film Schwarzfahrer ("fare dodger") in which a woman insults a black man who then eats her ticket; the conductor disbelieves her story and ejects her from the train [see News of the Weird, below].
Millennial Prophecy Report , formerly Millennium News or Times, the newsletter of the Millennium Watch Institute, tracking ephemera produced by prophets of various sects, including Christians, New Agers, Jews, UFO cults, hollow-earthers, etc. Published ten times a year @ US$90 per annum (note increase from previous listings), by Ted Daniels, Box 34021, Philadelphia, PA 19101-4021 USA (tel 1-800-666-4694). Vol. 3:3 (Sept 94) has Second Coming predictions by H. Camping; Wisconsin white buffalo of sacred interest to Native Americans; Antichrist alive and well in New Mexico, USA; U.N. and academics and coming end-of-world. Vol. 3:4 (Oct 94) has more on H Camping's predictions; Solar Temple mass murder/suicide; white buffalo; angel legend [from FTN]; B. Creme & Maitreya; rabbinical view of messianism; and T McKenna. Vol 3:5 (Oct 94) is special issue on demise of Solar temple cult. Vol 3:6 (Nov 94) has note on Solar Temple and on World Future Society.
News of the Weird "is compiled by Chuck Shepherd (with the help of dozens of correspondents nationwide) and is available by subscription. All contents © ... United Press Syndicate." Subs: US$11 USA/Canada; US$16 elsewhere. No. 31 (10 Sept 94): government waste; stupid criminals; stupid other people; tight pants syndrome; NYC police shoot pit bulls; serial suicide attempts, and more. No. 32 (2 Sept 1994): unfortunate accidents; stupid criminals & other people; deluded same; ciminal prisoners hammer nails into heads to appear deluded; lawyer guilty of "moral turpitude"; incredible defences; garbage mistaken for modern art; man on French train eats woman's ticket, preventing her from leaving train[see Magonia, above]; polite burglar & more.
Promises and Disappointments (successor to The Wild Places and Alien Scripture. Issue One (late 1994). Subs: four issues £7.50 in UK; £9.00 in EC; US$18 elsewhere; from Kevin McClure, 42 Victoria Rd., Mount Charles, St. Austell, Cornwall PL25 4QD , U.K. Near-skeptical comment & information on UFOs etc. Has excellent list of 74 journals of similar interest, with subscription information.
Skepsis: Kritisk undersøkelse av moderne overtro. Published quarterly (kr.150 for four numbers, St. Olavsgt. 27, 0166 Oslo, Norway). Nr. 4 -vår 1994. Elvis, Satanism and satanic rock music, UFOs, rats-in-pizzas reviews, and article by Av Alexander Nordby about Bengt af Klintberg ("Moderne Fortellerkunst").
Share International. ("Benjamin Creme is the British chief editor of Share International, an artist and an esotericist for many years. His telepathic contact with a Master of Wisdom allows him to receive up-to-date information on the Christ's emergence and to expand on the Ageless Wisdom Teachings.") Vol 13: 9 (Nov 94): Visitors from Jupiter (photos); white buffalo; sightings of Maitreya (the Master).
Strange Magazine. Fortean research reports with an emphasis on cryptozoology. No. 14 (Fall'94) is centred on a series of articles discussing the theoretical possibility of time travel and its possible relevance to UFOs and MIB experiences. Ostension‑focused folklorists will be interested in Mark Opsasnick's survey of the "Goatman" of Prince George County, Maryland. Goatman started a media flap after a Hallowe'en 1971 news report said this mysterious humanoid, focus of a local legend trip, was responsible for mutilating dogs; a local dog soon after was abducted and mutilated, causing a brief panic. Opsasnick quotes and summarizes a number of legend texts (including a "Boyfriend's Death" variant) from the University of Maryland Folklore Archives. Also included: an 1850 sea serpent wave, Loren Coleman on cryptozoology developments (a detailed account of an 1994 "black panther" flap in a Chicago suburb), Philadelphia Experiment, Maryland mutants near a govt. chemical dump, Spanish cattle mutilations, "The Crying Boy" burns a house in Norway. "First Person" (memorates from readers) includes brushes with Bigfoot, the Old Hag (one horrific, one erotic), a glowing statue of Mary, a ball of fire, and a wagon team from the past. Many anomalous news reports, book and Audio reviews. Ed. Mark Chorvinsky; 2/yr.; 4/US$17.95, UK £13.50, other countries US$22.95, single copy US$5.95 (£3.75). Address: Box 2246, Rockville, MD 20847 USA. [BE]
Tutte Storie: Notiziario del Centro per la Raccolta delle e Leggende Contemporanee 4: 7 (Maggio 1994). Published by The Centro per la Raccolta delle Voci e Leggende Contemporanee, C. P. 53, 15100 Alessandria, Italy. Carlo Presotto, Paola Rossi, and Danilo Arona on yogurt-like culture ("kefir") believed to have special healthful properties and which is spreading from person to person in northern Italy. Lucia Veccia on current legend of Italian family in Slovenia robbed of coats and car by local thieves who return soon after, apolo-getically return goods and instruct them to return to Italy; sometime later they find two corpses in their car. Paolo Toselli on panther sightings in Italy in 1993; legends, hoaxes, advertising campaign, but no captures. Eduoardo Russo on current legends in Italy: deliberately over-reading speedometers; anti-car-theft yellow cloth; free phone calls; pearl theif mocks owner on finding the pearls are fake. Maria Teresa Carbone's "letter from Moscow" on rumour of secret underground Moscow.
The Society for Storytelling was formed in Birmingham, U.K., in 1993. "It aims to promote and serve the art of storytelling, providing information on stories, storytellers and storytelling events. It has a ... membership of more than 200..." A "national storytelling day" was organised for Twelfth Night, 6 Jan 95, to encourage telling in private and public places all over Britain. A conference is planned for 4 March 1995 at Exeter University. Enquiries: Joan Barr, secretary, 8 Bert Allen Drive, Old Leake, Boston, Lincolnshire PE22 9LG, United Kingdom.
The first World Dracula Congress will be held in Romania 22-25 May 1995. the theme is Dracula -- Myth, legend and History: Reflections in Art and Life. Information: Transylvanian Society of Dracula, 47 Primaverii Blvd., Bucharest 1, Romania (fax: 401-6163918 or 401-3123056).
UFO Research Inc. (Box 277, Mount Ranier, MD 20712, USA) sells books and videos including some about the "Roswell UFO crash" of 1947.
Paolo Toselli's La famosa invasione delle vipere volanti, e altre leggende metropolitane dell'Italia d'oggi ("The great invasion of the flying vipers and other contemporary urban legends") is available for 20,000 lira from Sonzogno, Milan, ITALY.
We are interested in publications on any topic relevant to contemporary legends, especially those in journals or from publishing houses not usually read by academics in North America and the United Kingdom. Forward references or offprints (if convenient) to Alan E. Mays, Heindel Library, Penn State Harrisburg, 777 W. Harrisburg Avenue, Middletown, PA 17057-4898 United States of America. English abstacts of work in other languages would be appreciated.
Items starred (*) are housed in a file in one of the editors' office and can be made available to qualitifed scholars fo reference. Books and articles from major publishers or standard journals are not normally starred.
* Abraham, Yvonne. "The Alienation Effect." Lingua Franca 5 (Nov.-Dec. 1994):9-11. [Academics studying UFOs and abductions face discrimination in college hiring and promotion decisions.]
* Ankomah, Baffour. "Aids 'Gadflies' Bite the Establishment." New African 323 (Oct. 1994):15-16. [Controversy over the cause of AIDS.]
* As, Lynn. "Hanging Story Lacks Evidence." Houston Post (19 Nov. 1994):A27. [Decree by Texas Judge Roy Bean sentencing a man to be hanged is apocryphal.]
Bard, Marjorie. "Aiding the Homeless: The Use of Narratives in Diagnosis and Intervention." In Putting Folklore to Use, ed. Michael Owen Jones, pp. 76-93. Publications of the American Folklore Society, New Series. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1994. [The "Old Hag" experience in homeless narratives.]
* Bensman, Todd. "No More Doubts: Naked Creek Man Exposes Self to 2 Officers." Dallas Morning News (17 Sept. 1994):33A. [Flasher known as "Naked Creek Man" or "Hooty Hooty" to children in one Dallas neighbourhood is apprehended after police initially questioned whether such a person existed.]
Bird, S. Elizabeth. "Playing with Fear: Interpreting the Adolescent Legend Trip." Western Folklore 53 (1994):191-209. [Legends about the "Black Angel" statue in an Iowa City, IA, graveyard.]
* Bombeck, Erma. "At Wit's End: Don't look to me for the answers." Syndicated column in various papers, 7 Nov 1994. [Complaints that certain logos are racist and satanist symbols.]
* Bradshaw, Peter. "Want to Impress a Don? Burn His Newspaper." Evening Standard (31 Aug. 1994):12. [Apocryphal stories about university interviews and dons.]
Brednich, Rolf W. "Eine unendliche Geschichte." In Volkskundliche Streifzüge: Festschrift für Kai Detlev Sievers zum 60. Geburtstag, pp. 11-24. Kiel: Water G. Mühlau, 1994. [Chain letters and the Craig Shergold story.]
* "Can't Cheat the Devil, They Say." Philadelphia Inquirer (1 Nov. 1994):B3. [Man who died in 1867 was buried underneath a leaning rock designed to protect him from the devil on Judgement Day.]
* Cantwell, Alan, Jr. "Aids Is Not African--Say Scientists." New African 323 (Oct. 1994):10-14. [AIDS conspiracy theories.]
Carlson, H. G. Mysteries of the Unexplained. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1994. [Alien abductions, hauntings, vanishing hitchhikers, miracles, and many other topics.]
* Chapman, Douglas. "Myth or Real Cards." Strange Magazine 14 (1994): 51. [Notes issue of "Peg-Leg Bigfoot" card in a collector set produced by Loren Coleman. The card includes statement that Bigfoot has been sighted "from time to time ... wearing tatterd shorts or plaid shirts."]
Cohen, Daniel. The Beheaded Freshman and Other Nasty Rumors. New York: Avon Books, 1993.
* Colimore, Edward. "Who's Buried in John Wilkes Booth's Grave?" Philadelphia Inquirer (23 Oct. 1994):Inquirer Magazine, 14ff. [Conspiracy theories involving Abraham Lincoln's assassin.]
Crawford, Deborah K. E. "St. Joseph in Britain: Reconsidering the Legends, Part 2." Folklore 105 (1994):51-59.
* Dane, Abe. "Flying Saucers: The Real Story." Popular Mechanics (Jan. 1995):50-53, 121. [Discusses saucer-like craft developed by the U.S. government and private companies, including Bob Lazar's allegations of extraterrestrial saucers at Area 51 in Nevada.]
* Darnton, John. "The Bent-Banana Ban and Other British Gibes at Europe." New York Times (6 Oct. 1994):A16. ["Euro-myth" rumors concerning alleged European Union regulations.]
* "Death Stalks Zambia Radio." New African 322 (Sept. 1994):23. [High number of worker deaths at Zambian office complex is blamed on witchcraft, AIDS, or other unknown causes.]
Dégh, Linda. "The Approach to Worldview in Folk Narrative Study." Western Folklore 53 (1994):243-52.
* Demick, Barbara. "Dracula Legend Proves Lucrative in Romania." Philadelphia Inquirer (30 Oct. 1994):A10. [Dracula as tourist lure.]
* Dowdy, Zachary R. "Cancer survivor hopes to break chain of letters: Flood of business cards overwhelms youth, agencies." Boston Globe (8 Nov 94): 27. [Shergold's attempts to end the deluge.Quotes workers at Children's Wish and Make-A-Wish Foundations.]
Dresser, Norine. "The Case of the Missing Gerbil." Western Folklore 53 (1994):229-42. [The Colo-Rectal Mouse.]
* Duff-Brown, Beth. "Ancient Business Practice Heads Out of Chinatown." [Hazleton, PA] Standard-Speaker (1 Nov. 1994):28. [Feng shui.]
* "Easing Anxieties about Imported Rice." Japan 21st (April 1994):13. [Fear of contamination and low quality.]
* Edwards, Mark. "Who Is the Bogeyman?" [London] Times (11 Dec. 1994). [Bill Ellis and W.S.H.]
* Elliott, Dyan. "Sex in Holy Places: An Exploration of a Medieval Anxiety." Journal of Women's History 6 (Fall 1994):6-34. [Penis captivus in the Middle Ages.]
Ellis, Bill. "'The Hook' Reconsidered: Problems in Classifying and Interpreting Adolescent Horror Legends." Folklore 105 (1994):61-75.
* Ellison, Kerry Leigh. "Satan in the Library: Are Children in Danger?" School Library Journal 40 (Oct. 1994):46-47. [Self-proclaimed SRA survivor argues that removing children's books about satanism, witchcraft, and the occult from school libraries only perpetuates the secrecy and power of occult groups.]
* Farley, Christopher John. "Patriot Games." Time (19 Dec. 1994):48-49. [Conspiracy theories and the rise of paramilitary groups in the U.S.]
Ferguson, Mark. "The Book of Black Hearts: Readdressing the Meaning and Relevance of Supernatural Materials." Journal of Canadian Studies 29 (Spring 1994):107-21.
* Fine, Jason. "Seeking Evil: The Hell of Prosecuting Satanic Ritual Abuse." California Lawyer (July 1994):50-55, 90-92. [The Dale Akiki SRA case.]
Finley, Mitch. Heavenly Helpers: St. Anthony and St. Jude: Amazing True Stories of Answered Prayers. New York: Crossroad, 1994.
Fleming, Robert Loren, and Robert F. Boyd, Jr. The Big Book of Urban Legends: Adapted from the Works of Jan Harold Brunvand. Introduction and commentary by Jan Harold Brunvand. New York: Paradox Press, 1994. [200 legends illustrated by comic artists.]
Gaudet, Marcia. "Charlene Richard: Folk Veneration among the Cajuns." Southern Folklore 51 (1994):153-66. [Saint legends in Louisiana.]
* Geshekter, Charles L. "Aids and the Myth of African Sexual Promiscuity." New African 323 (Oct. 1994):16-17.
Goldstuck, Arthur. Ink in the Porridge: Urban Legends of the South African Elections. Penguin, 1994. [A self-extracting file, porridge.exe, that contains sample chapters from this book is available by ftping to saturn.digitec.co.za (126.96.36.199); login as "porridge" with password "ink" to get the file.]
* Goleman, Daniel. "Proof Lacking for Ritual Abuse by Satanists." New York Times (31 Oct. 1994):A13.
* Goodstein, Laurie. "For Thousands, the Virgin Mary Is a Vision of Hope." Washington Post (14 Oct. 1994):A1, A24. [Marian apparitions.]
Goss, Michael, and George Behe. Lost at Sea: Ghost Ships and Other Mysteries. New York: Prometheus Books, 1994.
* Hammond, Keith. "Wacosis!" The Nose 23 (July-Aug. 1994):47. [Sources of conspiracy info about the 1993 Branch Davidian disaster in Waco, Texas.]
Harte, Jeremy. "The Sussex Serpent." Folklore 105 (1994):103-4.
* Herbert, James. "Exploding Folklore's Koala Ka-boom Idea." San Diego Union-Tribune (9 Oct. 1994):D-2. [Legends discussed on the Usenet newsgroup alt.folklore.urban.]
* . "Seeing the Devil in Halloween's Details." Washington Post (31 Oct. 1994):A1, A14. [Schools and churches restrict Halloween celebrations.]
* "Happy Halloween." New York Times Magazine (30 Oct. 1994):22. [Terry Chan of alt.folklore.urban provides information on Halloween.]
Hauck, Rex, ed. Angels: The Mysterious Messengers. New York: Ballantine Books, 1994.
* Hirsh, Kim S. "Legislating Memory." Ms. 5 (July-Aug. 1994):91. [Criticizes legislation in Illinois limiting lawsuits involving recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse.]
Hogue, John. The Millennium Book of Prophecy: 777 Visions and Predictions from Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, Gurdjieff, Tamo-san, Madame Blavatsky, the Old and New Testament Prophets, and 89 Others. New York: Harper SanFrancisco, 1994.
* Holland, Max. "After Thirty Years: Making Sense of the Assassination." Reviews in American History 22 (1994):191-215. [JFK assassination conspiracy theories.]
* Hong, Peter Y. "Vandalism in Va. Mausoleum Said to Indicate Satanism." Washington Post (23 June 1994):B5. [Dead cats, pentagrams, bloody handprints taken as evidence of satanic practices.]
* Hoye, David, and Kerry Fehr-Snyder. "Kooky Cookie Caper." Phoenix Gazette (24 Oct. 1994):C1. [Neiman-Marcus $250 cookie legend.]
Hufford, David J. "Folklore and Medicine." In Putting Folklore to Use, ed. Michael Owen Jones, pp. 117-35. Publications of the American Folklore Society, New Series. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1994.
* Huston, Peter. "Washed Up, Sold Out, and Spreading Hysteria." Skeptical Inquirer 19: 1 (Jan/Feb 1994), 52-53. [Rev. of M Hertenstein & J Trott's Selling Satan: The Tragic History of Mike Warnke (Chicago, 1993); Warnke was a "media super-star" influential in the "current spate of satanic-cult paranoia." ]
* Jennings, Karla. "Computer Update: Computer Folklore." American Way (1 Nov 1986): 16-18. [Not current, but useful discussion of occupational heros of computer programmers, computer scams, and "a program called Virus" dangerous to other programs.]
* Jueneman, Frederic B. "The Curse of Tut's Tomb." R&D Magazine (May 1994):supp., 16. [Deaths associated with the opening of Tutankhamen's tomb came from radioactivity rather than a pharaoh's curse.]
* Kinsella, Bridget. "Embracing the New Age Light." Publishers Weekly (5 Dec. 1994):50-52, 54. [New books on angels, miracles, NDEs, and other New Age topics.]
* Klintberg, Bengt af. "Perspectives on Contemporary Legend." NIF Newsletter 22 (Sept. 1994):8-10. [Account of the Paris ISCLR conference.]
* Lacayo, Richard. "Stranger in the Shadows." Time (14 Nov. 1994):46-47. [Demonization of black men in Susan Smith infanticide case in South Carolina.]
* Laubach, David C. "The Changing Urban Legend." Scholars [Harrisburg, PA: State System of Higher Education] 5 (Spring-Summer 1994):4-10. [Popular account of U.S. urban legends; summarizes research by Brunvand and Dundes.]
* Leaonard, Tom. "This Letter Has Raised Thousands of Pounds for a Children's Hospital--But Simply won't Go Away." Evening Standard (26 Sept. 1994):32. [A fundraising chain letter for Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital has circulated for the last four years.]
Loftus, Elizabeth, and Katherine Ketcham. The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994.
* "Number's up for beastly Noel and his sinful show." Daily Express (London) (22 Nov 1994): 10. [Whimsical satiric piece making connections between national lotteries and the devil. "Beastly Noel" = Noel Edmonds, host of the television programme on which winning numbers are announced. The most recent numbers are shown to be easily placed in an algorithm to 666.]
MacGregor-Villarreal, Mary. Brazilian Folk Narrative Scholarship: A Critical Survey and Selective Annotated Bibliography. Garland Folklore Library, vol. 8. New York: Garland Publishing, 1994.
* Malina, Brian. "Hayride Horrors Rub Riders Wrong Way." [Wilkes-Barre, PA] Times Leader (15 Oct. 1994):1A, 12A. [Depictions of the O.J. Simpson murder and USAir plane crash during Halloween hayride attraction cause controversy.]
* Mayor, Adrienne. "Guardians of the Gold." Archaeology 47 (Nov.-Dec. 1994):52-59. [Griffin legends.]
* Mcalpine, Joan. "Debunking the Modern Myth." The Scotsman (16 Dec. 1994):17. [Bill Ellis and Michael Goss offer examples of recent legends.]
McClenon, James. Wondrous Events: Foundations of Religious Belief. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994. [Examines relationship between religious belief and paranormal experiences involving ESP, NDE, sleep paralysis, apparitions, etc.]
Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1994.
* Millard, Rosie. "Legends in Their Own Lunchtime." The Independent (13 Dec. 1994):22. [Bill Ellis and W.S.H.]
* Mitchell, Brent. "Apparitions of Virgin Mary inspire faith and doubt." Wilkes-Barre [PA] Times-Leader (25 Sept 1994: 3E. Despite skepticism of professors of religion and the Miami Archbishop, faith persists in visits by Mary on the 13th and 24th of every month in Homestead and Hollywood, two towns in South Florida.]
* Mohr, Michele. "Phony Chain Letter Sends Best Intentions Astray." Chicago Tribune (30 Oct. 1994):Tempo Southwest, 8. [Craig Shergold business card appeal.]
Montenyohl, Eric L. "Review Essay." Southern Folklore 51 (1994):187-92. [Reviews recent contemporary legend books by Brunvand, Fine, Bennett and Smith, and Turner.]
* Mooney, Carolyn J. "Swim or Sink." Chronicle of Higher Education (12 Oct. 1994):A35-A36. [College legends relating to swim tests.]
Morse, Melvin, with Paul Perry. Parting Visions: Uses and Meanings of Pre-Death, Psychic, and Spiritual Experiences. New York: Villard Books, 1994.
* Mullen, Pat. "I Heard the White Suburbanite Say." Folklines 4 (Oct. 1994):3. [Legend about student paper assignment on topic, "Why I Feel Guilty about Racism in America," told about Chelsea Clinton by Rush Limbaugh.]
* "Mystery Computer Virus Called Hoax." [St. John's, NF] Evening Telegram (4 Jan 95): 8. Canadian Press wire story reporting on CERT response to "Good Times Virus" of Dec 94. Quotes Dapne Kent of CompuServe and David Sutherland of the Ottawa-Carleton Freenet.)
O'Dell, Tom. "'Chevrolet...That's a Real Raggarbil!': The American Car and the Production of Swedish Identities." Journal of Folklore Research 30 (1993):61-73. [Legends about Swedish owners of American cars.]
Ofshe, Richard, and Ethan Watters. Making Monsters: False Memory, Satanic Cult Abuse, and Sexual Hysteria. New York: Charles Scribner's, 1994.
Paine, Robert. "Night Village and the Coming of Men of the Word: The Supernatural as a Source of Meaning among Coastal Saami." Journal of American Folklore 107 (Summer 1994):343-63. [Ghosts and other supernatural presences in a Norwegian fishing village in the 1950s.]
* Parfrey, Adam, and Jim Redden. "Patriot Games." Village Voice (11 Oct. 1994):26-31. [Conspiracy theories, apocalyptic belief, and the U.S. militia movement.]
* Perry, Dan. "Death of Israeli with HIV Causes Storm of Reactions." Philadelphia Inquirer (7 Nov. 1994):A3. [AP wire story: gay man who intentionally infected others with the AIDS virus.]
* Plamann, Steve. "Different as Night and Day, But They're Twins!" National Enquirer (13 Sept. 1994):2. [Mixed-race couple gives birth to twins, one black and one white.]
Popple, Philip R. "Contemporary Folklore and Social Welfare." Aretê 18 (Winter 1994):1-11. [Legends about welfare.]
* Rodeo, Häns. "Freemason Mania!" The Nose 23 (July-Aug. 1994):37-43. [Spoofs Masonic conspiracies.]
* Romano, Lois. "Dear Colleagues: Forget It." Washington Post (25 Oct. 1994):D3. [Future U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich sends out a "Craige Sherwood" appeal.]
* Roeper, Richard. "Great Campus Moments That Never Happened." Chicago Sun-Times (20 Oct. 1994):11. [Academic legends.]
Ross, Miceal. "The Knife against the Wave: A Uniquely Irish Legend of the Supernatural?" Folklore 105 (1994):83-88.
Rudolf, Florence. "La Recherche sociologique dans une situation confictuelle: La Rumeur d'Orléans étudiée par Edgar Morin [Sociological Research in a Conflicting Situation: Edgar Morin's Point of View in La Rumeur d'Orléans]." Revue des Sciences Sociales de la France de l'Est 21 (1994):162-66.
* Samon, Katherine Ann. "The 8 most incredible stories you've ever heard." McCall's (Sept 1993): 120-123. [Quotes J. H. Brunvand, Jack Levin, and Gary Alan Fine: girl stolen at mall; nuked poodle; the Hook; Welcome to the world of AIDS; snake eggs in bananas; vanishing hitchhiker; deep-fried rat; inflatable bra explodes.]
* Sandiford, Robert E. "American as Batter-Fried Rats: Urban Legends #1." Comics Journal 164 (Dec. 1993):46-48. [Reviews legend comic book.]
* Sarge, Dick. "Someone's Pulling Pull Tab Collectors' Legs." [Harrisburg, PA] Patriot (6 Sept. 1994):Metro East, 2. [Redemption rumors.]
* Scalzi, John. "Who Dreams This Stuff Up?" Fresno Bee (30 Nov. 1994):A2. [Rumors that a popular U.S. actress is a hermaphrodite.]
Schick, Theodore, and Lewis Vaughn. How to Think about Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age. [Suggests ways of examining claims for paranormal, occult, and similar phenomena.]
* Sheehan, Henry. "Trust the teller: After Hook, screenwriter James V. Hart has moved to Dracula, translating it from horror story to fairy tale." Sight and Sound 3: 1 (Jan 1993), 14. [Hart is screenwriter for F.Coppola's Dracula film.]
* Sheler, Jeffrey L. "The Christmas Covenant." U.S. News and World Report (19 Dec. 1994):62ff. [Cover story on apocalyptic belief in America.]
Simpson, Jacqueline. "Margaret Murray: Who Believed Her, And Why?" Folklore 105 (1994):89-96.
Skinner, Stephen. Millennium Prophecies: Predictions from Nostradamus and the World's Other Great Seers and Mystics. Stamford, Conn.: Longmeadow Press, 1994.
Sledzik, Paul S., and Nicholas Bellantoni. "Brief Communication: Bioarcheological and Biocultural Evidence for the New England Vampire Folk Belief." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 94 (1994):269-74.
* Stagg, Bill. "Halloween Hard on Black Cats' Luck." [Durham, NC] Herald-Sun (29 Oct. 1994):A8. [Animal shelters ban adoption of black cats at Halloween.]
* "The Style Invitational, Week 85: Play Mythy for Me." Washington Post (30 Oct. 1994):F2; (20 Nov. 1994):F2. [Newspaper contest challenging readers to come up with new "urban myths."]
Summers, Christina Hoff. Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994. [Super Bowl violence against women, legal rule of thumb, other topics relating to feminist claims.]
* Szpir, Michael. "Mind Viruses." American Scientist 83 (Jan.-Feb. 1995):26-27. [St. Jude chain letter.]
* Taylor, John. "Passion Play." Esquire (Dec. 1994):58ff. [Conspiracy theories in the O.J. Simpson murder case.]
* Tharp, Mike. "The Rise of Citizen Militias." U.S. News and World Report (15 Aug. 1994):34-35. [Conspiracy theories and U.S. paramilitary groups.]
Thomas, Jeannie B. "Out of the Frying Pan and into the Postmodern: Folklore and Contemporary Literary Theory." Southern Folklore 51 (1994):107-20. [Briefly discusses "JFK is alive" legend.]
* Thomas, Susan Gregory. "For the Kings of the Road." Washington Post (16 Sept. 1994):F1, F4. [Rumors that crown-shaped car air fresheners are made by the Ku Klux Klan.]
* Tierney, John. "Falling for It." New York Times Magazine (17 July 1994):16. [Well-known practical joker Joey Skaggs mailed letters to U.S. animal shelters offering to buy dogs for sale to Asians as food.]
* Usdansky, Margaret L. "Women on Welfare: Reality vs. Stereotype." USA Today (26 Oct. 1994):9A. [Legends and misconceptions about U.S. welfare recipients.]
Victor, Jeffrey S. "Fundamentalist Religion and the Moral Crusade against Satanism: The Social Construction of Deviant Behavior." Deviant Behavior 15 (1994):305+.
* Weiss, Robin. "Of Myths and Disbelief." Discover (Dec. 1994):36ff. [AIDS conspiracy theories.]
* Woolfe, Tao. "Tall Tales a Glitch in Witches' Happy Day." [Fort Lauderdale, FL] Sun-Sentinel (30 Oct. 1994):1B. [Joel Best comments on Halloween "razor blades in apples" stories.]
Zelizer, Barbie. "From the Body as Evidence to the Body of Evidence." In Bodylore, ed. Katharine Young, pp. 225-44. Publications of the American Folklore Society, New Series. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1993. [JFK assassination legends.]
This issue of FTN was put together with the substantial help of Sharon Cochrane, Bill Ellis (now happily-for-him former editor), Alan Mays (still happily-for-us news and bibliographic editor) and Paul Smith. Thanks! - PH
FOAFTale News (FTN) is the newsletter of the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research. We study "modern" and "urban" legends, and also any legend circulating actively. To join, send a cheque made out to "ISCLR" for US$18.00 or UK£10 to Paul Smith, Department of Folklore, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland CANADA A1B 3X8. Members also receive Contemporary Legend, a refereed academic journal.
All research notes and articles are copyright by the individual authors who reserve all rights. For permission to reprint, contact them at the addresses given in the headnote of the article. FTN is indexed in the MLA Bibliography. Send queries, notices, and research reports to a maximum of 3000 words to the General Editor; send clippings, offprints, and bibliographic notices to the News Editor. Text on disks is appreciated.
General Editor: Philip Hiscock, MUN Folklore & Language Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, CANADA A1B 3X8.
News Editor: Alan E. Mays, Penn State Harrisburg, 777 W. Harrisburg Avenue, Middletown, PA 17057-4898, USA. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.