Thursday, April 25, 2013

Monster Memory

The Monsterland crew with Loren Coleman

A couple weeks ago we had the distinct pleasure of meeting someone whose writing has fired the imagination of numerous readers. His name is Loren Coleman, and if the name sounds familiar to you, it is because he is the foremost cryptozoologist in North America and quite probably the world. Mr. Coleman has earned that distinction not only through the publication of many thought-provoking books, but also by making quite a few television appearances on shows such as MonsterQuest. His main project these days involves serving as curator of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine. For more about the museum, go here.

Coleman's book "Mysterious America" was a landmark book for me; up until then I was primarily interested in Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, but "Mysterious America" unfolded a far stranger picture of reality that was far closer to home than I ever expected. Of great interest to me still is the "name game," as Coleman refers to it, which is a way of describing the link between strange phenomena and the name of the place where it is experienced. For example, the word "devil" in a place name (Devil's Lake, Devil's Pass, and so on) is often a signal that weird things have long been connected with a given location. "Mysterious America" was also my introduction to the name Charles Fort and the adjective "fortean." (If you want more on Fort go here. ) I have fond memories of repeatedly checking the book out from my local library, and can still see its black and white cover in my mind's eye. (That was, I believe, the first edition.) In writing an article about "The Legend of Boggy Creek" for Mad Scientist #22, I relied on Coleman's "Bigfoot: The True Story of Apes in America" for information and inspiration, and was happy to learn that at least one person got a big kick out of the retrospective (Letters, MS #24).

Getting to speak with Loren Coleman was a dream come true for me, but what was even better was finding out that he was a genuinely kind and decent man who took the time to remember Andy's name and encourage him in his studies. It was also great fun to talk with him about Toho's "Half Human," which was his childhood entry point into the world of the unexplained. (This link takes you to a previous post here at M.O., which serves as a reminder that Mr. Coleman was interviewed by Brett Homenick in G-FAN #69 specifically about "Half Human." All these connections boggle the mind.)

And did I mention it was Andy's tenth birthday? It was one we will never, ever forget.