Monday, September 14, 2009

Devil Worm, Worm Monsters and Graboids

Something slimy to start off the week, lol.
Is there such a thing as an underground, huge, man eating worm? Underneath our desert floors and in the most remote areas on Earth, there have been reports of such worms. Hollywood even made a movie focusing on these subterranean creatures terrorizing the folks of a small Nevada town. The movie “Tremors” is one of my favorites and gave the creature its name, Graboids, with them getting different names, Shriekers and Assblasters in the not as good sequels.

In the 1990 dark comedy, TREMORS, these subterranean worm-like creatures decided to make meals of the citizens of Perfection, Nevada. The town is made up of a few trailers, a couple of houses, and a general store owned by Walter Chang. It makes you wonder why anyone would want to live in this desolate dust bowl of a town, but 14 people called Perfection home. As I previously mentioned, there is Walter Chang, who spends half the movie naming the creatures and the other half in the belly of one of them. He should have fixed that noisy Coke machine instead of spending so much time coming up with the name, "Graboid". Then there is the potter Donna, her pogo jumping young daughter Mindy; the smart ass teenager, Melvin, whose parents are unknown; Nester, who you have no idea who he is and are pretty sure he is going to be dessert later in the movie; and Miguel, the farmer whose animals are mysteriously disappearing. Then we have Burt and Heather Gummer who state that the geographical isolation is why they chose this location. Their house is a fortress and their rec room has every weapon known to mankind. A Graboid found out the hard way not to mess with the Gummers and bust into their precious rec room. Then there are the heroes, Val and Earl, the resident handymen. After having a bad bout with a septic tank’s waste spraying all over them, they decide to finally leave Perfection. On their way out of town they come across Edgar Deems on a top of an electrical tower. Edgar died of dehydration and even though the worms didn't get Edgar, they did manage to make meals of Fred, his flock of sheep, the doctor, his wife, their station wagon, a couple of construction workers and telephone repairmen. They almost got Rhonda the college student who was conducting seismology test around the area but unbeknown to her, she escaped being a snack. After another failed attempt of leaving town, Val and Earl found one of the tentacles of the beasts attached to their truck. The next day they took Walter’s horse to get help and warn the doc, his wife and Rhonda. After coming across the doctor's car buried, they haul ass on the horses only to be chased by a Graboid. After jumping into a concrete ditch, the Graboid smashes into the side and ends up committing suicide. They run into Rhoda who after checking her paperwork realizes that there are three more of them out there. Back in town, they warn the people who are now huddled in the general store except for the Gummers who are out looking for Rhonda. After the town's folks did battle with the monsters, and the Gummers defeated one at their house, they came up with a plan and were able to get the survivors out of town. The Graboids had one more trick up their sleeves, they set a trap. Now we see the ragtag gang sitting on some boulders out in the middle of nowhere where they use Burt's homemade bombs to defeat the last two Graboids. They were able to trick one into eating the bomb and blowing it into many pieces but the other one wasn't falling for it. Val came up with a plan knowing that this gigantic worm was not smarter than them. The worm chased Val, Earl and Rhonda towards the end of the cliff. Using the bomb, Val throws it behind the Graboid causing it to pick up speed, crashing through the cliff-face and plummeting to its death. They all hugged and kissed and went back to their dreary little town and made a boat load of money off the Graboids.

The movie was science fiction but are subterranean worms real? The people in Mongolia's Gobi Desert will tell you that they are in deed real. They claim that they are terrorized by a bright red worm, with a wide body and measures about 5 feet long. They refer to this worm as the Mongolia Devil Worm or Death Worm. The stories are anywhere from the worm shooting sulfuric acid at its victims, or killing from a distance by means of an electric charge. This kind of story is exactly what Josh Gates and the Destination Truth crew like to check out for themselves. The fact that so many have reported seeing the devil worm, and hearing that an entire village was abandoned because of this worm, sparked Josh’s interest. The area surrounding the village is where they decided to do their investigation. To get to the destination, they had to go off-road, using only GPS coordinates, stopping in the town of Dalanzadgad to eat some of the local cuisine and talk to more eyewitnesses. They were told that the worm is attracted to the color yellow, something Josh took note of. After a long dreary drive in the Gobi Desert, they finally reach the abandoned village and Osman, the only inhabitant still living there. He tells them that he hasn't seen anything but hearing eerie sounds that caused the other villagers to leave.

Josh and his team head out to the outskirts of town and find many tunnels. Are these made by the devil worm or large creepy rodents? Hoping it was the devil worm itself that made the tunnels; they attach a yellow cloth to their camera and put it in one of the holes. The elements were hard to deal with like the ever dropping temperature. Using the thermal camera, Josh happens upon a fresh hole and some sort of residual heat signature. They take samples and hear a scratching sound but find nothing. Then one of the team spots an orange flash off in the distance but found nothing upon investigating it. They had to quit investigation because the frigid air was draining the batteries and making it hard to tolerate and finish the investigation. They took all the evidence and samples back to Los Angeles for testing but nothing identical or organic was found. Josh had to conclude that they didn't have enough evidence to support the existence of the Mongolian Devil Worm.

Even in one of the coldest places on Earth, Iceland have reports of a giant Worm Monster. Reports are that is it longer than a football field and has been seen near Lake Lagarfljot. This monster has been reported by witnesses since 1345 and is one of the oldest lake monsters ever recorded. It has been spotted either in the lake or on land in a coiled position. It is brown in color, slimy skin with huge set of sharp teeth that remind me of the gaping maw of the Sarlacc from the movie “Return of the Jedi”. Others have reported seeing it slither into the forest and have the locals frightened by its existence. Josh Gates and the Destination Truth team went to investigate this worm and had lots of mishaps because of the frigid weather and thick fog surrounding the lake. Josh and the two others with him in their boat were lost for over 6 hours on the lake trying to find base camp. The temperature got down to 10 degrees and they were afraid of hypothermia. While trying to get back to base camp, they did spot something enormous, about 20 or 30 feet, black shadow moving in the water. This thing created huge waves that rock their boat. After making it back home to Los Angeles, they had the video footage analyzed. They expert could not ID what they caught but ruled out a school of fish and large eels that are known to be in that area.

Whatever the truths behind these incredible enormous worms are, all the witnesses will tell you that they are real. Anyone want to go fishing?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Destination Truth Recap: Haunted Forest; Alux

On this 3rd season, Josh Gates has a bigger role besides host and that is of producer. Having more control, he can run the show his way. Along with the first-hand duties, he has a new team going with him on all the new destinations. They are Bicha Gholam, case manager; Evan Stone, cameraman; Gabriel "Gabe" Copeland, cameraman; Jael DePardo, researcher; Mike Morrell, audio; Rex Williams, medic; and Sharra Jenkins, tech manager. With his new team they set out for their first investigation of the paranormal activity in the Hoia Baciu woods in Romania.

FIRST INVESTIGATION: "Haunted Forest", Hoia Baciu, Romania
The Hoia Baciu woods are also known by the locals as the haunted gateway to the other side. This dark forest is very disorientating and feed on our darkest fears. Deep in the back woods of Transylvania, stories of bright lights tower skyward from the forest at night are seen by many of the locals. A couple of research teams that went into the forest were spooked with some of their pictures that had ghost-like human figures in them. They saw nothing with the naked eye while walking around in there. Now the locals are afraid of traveling to the Hoia Baciu forest and call it the most haunted spot in Europe. With over 45 ghost sightings in the past 6 months, Josh and his team were hoping for an incredible investigation with great evidence. They flew 6,000 miles from Los Angeles to Cluj, Romania and Josh called ahead to rent an SUV using what little Russian he could muster up. What they ended up with was a tiny two-door, filthy 4X4 which Josh said, "must mean that it is only 4 feet by feet and can only fit 4 comfortably. The entire crew squeezes in and off they go having some car problems at the beginning. They head off to the center of Cluj to find a professor that is an expert in the study of strange phenomena. Adrian Patrut, professor of Inorganic Chemistry at Cluj University is who they met up with and is an expert on the forest. He has several pictures of the bright lights and human like apparitions on nine different trips in the past three years that he took. He tells Josh that most of the sightings are concentrated around a perfectly circular clearing in the woods. The circular area is a natural vegetated dead zone where nothing grows. All the strange pictures are what started all the interests and investigations. Since he could not give them an exact location of where the circle was located, he pointed them to a small village outside of town near the forest where many of the residents have seen strange lights hovering over the forest. Their Romanian road trip was adventurous needless to say. It was bumpy and they came across some oxen pulling carts and felt like they were back in the 1800's. It didn't take them long to find a local that was willing to talk about the haunted forest. This man tells them that there is definitely a strong energy there while another local tells Josh not to go to the forest. Josh asked “why not go” and he tells them that you will remain there and never come back. They decide to chart a plane to get the best visual location of the mysterious circle and chart it on his GPS so they can find the place on foot. They rent a plane that Josh said looked like it escaped from the Air and Space Museum and was quite the antique. He tells everyone to get in the coffin or rather plane and off they go. Right away the roof of the plane flew off and panic sets in. They had to go back and were glad when they landed safely and hugged the ground. Needing to find another mode of transportation, they rent some ATV's and follow the map that professor Patrut made for them. They wanted to find the circle before it got dark and had to stop somewhere near it to set up base camp. They set up four infrared camera around base camp about 300 yard radius and four wireless trap cameras about a mile beyond that. These cameras have GPS tracking on them so they can locate there whereabouts and will shot anything that comes in front of their lens.

They spend the first night looking for the clearing or mysterious circle. In this area is where most of the activity was reported. Josh, Rex and Evan set off to the south where Josh spots a small light through the trees. Josh has everyone turn their headlamps off to see if it is one of his crew. After realizing that it wasn’t any of the team, they run towards the light and Rex falls down and hurts himself. He is fine but goes back to base camp to rest. Jael and Gabe hear noises so Jael takes several pictures of the surrounding area. She captures weird lights and orbs in the photos. Mike joins Evan and Josh and not having to walk very long, they found the elusive circle which was close by base camp. Right away they get a high EMF reading and take soil samples to see if they could explain why vegetation won't grow. Through the trees they see a light moving and run towards it. They experience the thermal imaging camera all of the sudden shutting off. Then Josh decides that each will sit in isolation in the circle with him going first. Josh keeps hearing noises all around in the woods. In the base camera they see a light behind Josh near his left shoulder. It looked like someone was walking behind him. As he turns to glimpse at the lights, it disappears off the camera. Now it’s Evan's turn to be alone in the circle where he kept hearing female voices behind him. On the camera they see him all of a sudden disappear like an unseen hand grabbed him and pulled him back. This happened right after hearing a big wind sound. They quickly ran to see what happened and found Evan lying on the ground. He had a burning feeling on his arm, lifted the sleeve and noticed deep scratches that were bleeding. He said that it felt like a big wind blew him backwards which freaked him out. Back at base camp, Rex fell sick. Not wanting to endanger anymore of his team, they took the evidence they collected back to Los Angeles for analysis. He took the soil samples to Wallace Laboratories to see if there was something biological or natural in why nothing would grow in the circle. They checked samples taken inside and outside the circle for analysis and concluded that there was very little differences in both samples. There was no explanation for why nothing grew in the circle. He took the photos, video and audio evidence to Jason and Grant to get their opinion of what they captured. On one EVP they caught a voice that sounded female moaning or yelling and another sounded like a female laughing. Because of the elements of the area the female sounds could be an animal or bird native to the area. To me it sounded like females voices. In the pictures they concluded that the orbs could be dust, but could not explain the weird lights and shadows. Then he showed them footage of Evan being blown away like something grabbed his arm and showed them the scratches. They couldn't explain what happened because he had a heavy jacket on and he only scratched his arm. They felt like Evan had a paranormal experience and that something unexplainable is going on in those woods. How did a full grown man in a sitting position get picked up and thrown around like a rag doll? How indeed?

SECOND INVESTIGATION: "Alux Creature", Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

The Alux is a mythical pygmy like creature that has been seen deep in the jungles of Mexico in the Mayan ruins. These stories of a "Mini Me" called the Alux, which are child size beasts, have been reported for centuries. About 90% of the indigenous residence believes the creature to be real. There have been a spike in sightings in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula in just the past month. It is described at a small human like creature with dark fur and an aggressive disposition. This creature, which is less than 4 foot tall, lives primarily in caves and the ruins that are deep in the jungle. After a 5 1/2 hour flight from LA to Cancun Mexico, they had to stay focused even though the margaritas were calling. They rented a jeep, headed due west, and noticed all the Alux houses along the highway built to appease the creature. They meet up with professor Carlos Cervantes and expert in Mayan history who has been tracking the recent run-ins with the Alux. He tells them than 95% of the people living there believe it is real and they are very afraid of the creature. He tells Josh that the creature lives in caves in the jungle. While in the jungle, he met up with a Shaman whose people came face to face with the creature. He directed Josh and his team to where the Shaman is located and they immediately headed off to seek him out. Along the way they ran into a bunch of male belly dancers that seem to take a shine to the team. Back on the road they ended up in the town of Merida by nightfall and decided to relax and let loose. They had some fun at the towns Carnival and ran into "Santa", the potato head float and did some dancing. The announcer told the crowd that Josh was in the Batman movie and he became an instant celebrity. He woke up in the morning with a female officer's phone number written on his hand and clearly it was time to leave. Just kidding of course, or was he, lol. On their way to see the Shaman, they stopped in a remote town where they heard that a young boy was taken by the Alux. Luis and Betty Kuilton, the boy's parents, felt that their son Jesus, is in the jungle with the Alux, alive and still there. They mapped out the jungle and figured that they needed to cover an area with the radius of 20-25km in diameter. They drove as far as they could but since the deep jungle terrain was so thick, they had to reach their destination on foot. They first set their sites on the remote caves that used to be dry and are now filled with water. Jael and Josh descend into one of the caves where they find human remains deep inside of the belly of the cave. He says he saw a part of a human skull and other bones that could have been there for thousands of years. They finally got to the Shaman village by nightfall and the locals did a ceremony to make contact with the Alux. They had to drink a special beverage that the Mayan used to protect them from the Alux and blessed them with leaves. Josh and Jael did a preliminary sweep of the area and saw lots of spiders, many of which are poisonous. They come across some ruins where the Alux is known to live. They use the parabolic dish to pick up any unusual sounds because they heard that the Alux makes a high pitch sound almost like a giggle. Mike picked up a sound and said it was like a kid screaming, a high pitched sound off in the distance. Was this the Alux letting them know it was there? Josh spots a huge snake and quickly moves everybody out of the way. They head out deeper in the forest and come across an enormous cave and step inside to investigate. They light their torches to investigate the cave which has long tunnels and experience their lights going out. They see a hive for some critters along with other poisonous creatures and find bones but can't describe the nature of origin of the bones. They gather some evidence and leave the cave. After the sun came up they took the evidence back to LA and the natural history museum. Some of bones could be from a goat and the others from chickens, but they still didn't know what may have killed them.

Great season premiere and from what I read, the shows highest ratings to date.


Monday, September 7, 2009

The Ghosts of Whiskey Row

Prescott poet Gail Gardner once wrote of "Whiskey Row":
"Oh they starts her in at the Kaintucky bar,
At the head of Whiskey Row,
And they winds up down by the Depot House,
Some forty drinks below."

Nestled in Yavapai County, Arizona, is the quaint little city of Prescott. The locals will tell you that it is pronounced Pres-kit and not Pres-cott. In 1864, Prescott became the capital of the Arizona Territory. In 1867 the capital was moved to Tucson, then back to Prescott in 1879, and finally to Phoenix in 1889.

Prescott is rich in history, housing one of the most famous red-light district areas known as “Whiskey Row”. This area on Montezuma Street had many saloons, with the most famous being the Palace Saloon. The Palace Saloon opened in September of 1877 and was filled with the highest standard of liqueur and decorated with the most impressive furniture from all over the world. The Palace wasn’t just a place to get a meal or have a drink, many men would check out the postings for work, bought and sold mineral claims, and it also served as a place for elections. It can boast having many notorious figures from history frequenting the place such as The Earps, Doc Holliday and “Big Nose Kate” Elder in the late 1870’s. Virgil and his wife Allie lived in the Thumb Buttes area of Prescott and owned a saw mill before joining his brothers in Tombstone. There are stories that Doc Holliday won 10,000 in poker at the Palace and afterwards joined the Earps in Tombstone eight months later.

In 1883, a fire destroyed most of Whiskey Row, taking out many buildings including the original Palace Saloon. Robert Brow, the Palace owner, rebuilt the place with a stone foundation and brick walls. Not only was it built sturdier, but he made it even grander than before. He added and elaborately carved 1880’s Brunswick bar measuring approximately 20 feet long. Unfortunately, Prescott suffered another huge fire destroying most of down town and again abolishing the Palace Saloon. Most of the patrons grabbed their drinks and much of the liquor stock and went across the street to watch the Palace burn. Some of the more faithful of customers actually lifted the Brunswick bar and carried it out to safety. That bar is still remains in use and is the only historical thing left and can be seen in the Palace today which was rebuilt in 1901.

Today, the Palace is a big part of Whiskey Row and has many faithful patrons that frequent it walls, with many visitors having a meal and drink. According to the owner, employees and visitors, many rowdy and playful spirits seemed to have made the Palace their eternal home. At the Palace, there is an 1890’s picture of the bar with what looks like a ghost in the background. There are other stories of glasses falling off the rack for no reason, a plant on the bar suddenly falling to the ground, and a mannequin in period clothing falling over the railing at the top of the stairs while no one with up there. In the 1972 movie, “Junior Bonner”, many of the bar fight scenes were filmed at the Palace. There have been numerous reports of chairs flying across the rooms as wells as bottles by unseen forces, and the sound of glass breaking everywhere. The employees chalk it up to a prankster ghost recreating the bar scenes from the movie. Some have witness the ghost of Nevins, who owned the mortuary and lost it to the sheriff along with all his other possessions. Many feel the he is there to repeat that ominous game hoping for a different outcome. There are other ghosts seen at the bar having a drink by the patrons and employees of the palace. Click here to see a photo of a female ghost taken outside the Palace by a visitor in 2004.

The next time you take a trip out West to Arizona, be sure to put Prescott on your list of places to visit. Check out its historical Whiskey Row and have a meal and a drink at the Palace. You might not be alone.

On September 26-28th, Haunted Con will be in Prescott. I would love to go but probably won’t be able to. I will do a blog on the other many haunted places in Prescott towards the end of this month.