“I assure you, there’s nothing to see here right now.”

Last Monday’s poll tells me that you folks would prefer to read weekly posts from The Paranormalist on Fridays.

It shall be done.

Macabre & Mysterious Media: Kolchak, In Search Of, Castle Rock

As I write this, Ogre is across the room, watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre … for the very first time. I’ve opted to stay nearby to see his reaction, but I know the movie well enough that I can be over here, tapping away at the keyboard, while I observe. In an hour or so, we’ll be tuning in to the season premiere of Better Call Saul. Until then, I’d like to fill you in on what’s going on around here.

If you follow my Facebook page, you probably already know that I’m dealing with some medical issues and preparing to undergo a fairly significant surgery ( to be performed by itty-bitty robots!)  …  which will be followed by a few weeks of some pretty strict recovery time. (I’m choosing not to go into detail on this, but do know that it’s nothing life-threatening.)

BTW, I share interesting links and other snippets DAILY at the Facebook page, if you haven’t liked my page, you’re missing out on things like paranormal-themed LOLs, Nuclear Week, and Weird Wikipedia Wednesdays.

I only mention the health issues as an explanation for how quiet life has been lately. I’m not having many adventures, paranormal or otherwise. What I am doing is a lot of fiction writing and editing. When I’m not working or sleeping, we’ve been watching movies and TV. Lacking more exciting topics, the best I can do right now is to share some of my entertainment finds (and my opinion about them) in a mini-version of a former feature at The Paranormalist:

Macabre & Mysterious Media: Mini-Edition

At The Paranormalist Facebook page, I already mentioned that Kolchak: The Night Stalker is about halfway through its entire run on MeTV. It’s airing on Saturday nights (but technically on Sundays at 1 am eastern time.) The first episode I tuned into — episode 10, The Energy Eater — was nearly unwatchable, but I still have hope that my fond memories of the series will be vindicated by future episodes. (Check the availability of MeTV to you here.)

Another blast from the past has been more than watchable. The History Channel has rebooted the series In Search of. In this incarnation Zachary Quinto — the most recent actor to play Spock — takes over for Leonard Nimoy. New episodes air on Friday nights at 10/9C. I’ve caught the 2nd and 3rd episodes, and have been impressed. It lacks that forbidding creepiness I remember from my childhood, but it makes up for that by being more scientifically rigorous. (Though “rigorous” may be too strong of a word to use here.)  And I have to admit that Zach is pretty charming, even though I don’t love him as Spock.

Over at Hulu, Stephen King continues to reign supreme with the new series, Castle Rock.

(Yes, we finally caved and got a subscription to Hulu … mostly because of The Handmaid’s Tale and King’s 11/22/63.)

I’ve seen the first two episodes and I’m intrigued. The greatest fun for me, so far, has been in noticing the dozens of Easter-egg like references to other Castle Rock stories that litter this new series. It’s good to see Sissy Spacek in a role here (Though she is definitely not Carrie.) I’m not entirely sure I’m thrilled with the way Sheriff Pangborn has aged, but I’ll hang in there to see where we’re going (and how he got to where he is.) The acting here is top-notch, the familiar/not familiar setting is a treat for the Stephen King fan, and the story, as it begins to unfold, shows promise.


With that, I’ll draw this week’s post to a close. (Time to watch Better Call Saul.) Oh — In case you were wondering, Ogre’s verdict on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is that it’s just sad. I can’t say I disagree.

One more thing, before I go:

This afternoon, I found myself trying to remember why I decided to do my weekly check-in posts on Mondays. I came up completely blank. Without any compelling reason to post on Mondays rather than another day, it occurs to me that I should just ask YOU what you want. (Besides, I haven’t used the poll function in forever.) So:



Come hell or high water.

When I decided to resurrect The Paranormalist blog, I came up with a very do-able (I thought) schedule. One with only two requirements:

  1. Post an on-topic, in-depth post on the 13th of each month.
  2. Post a quick, paranormal-tinged, chatty note every Monday.

That it. No big deal, right?

If you’re a subscriber to this this blog, you know I haven’t managed to get it right for more than a couple of weeks in a row.

I’m giving it another shot, as of today. It’s 11:17 pm, so I’ve only got a few minutes to get something-anything down.

I almost didn’t come in (again) because I thought, “Well, you’ve been off-schedule for weeks now, what’s one more miss? Maybe you can write something decent between now and NEXT Monday.

Yeah, that’s the kind of thinking that got me here, so screw the “decent” qualifier.

I promised that the content would be at least paranormal-tinged, so tonight I’ll just mention a couple of things that have been in my life lately, and offer my quick and dirty reviews.


For a better than decent review of this game, pop over to Shut Up & Sit Down.

For my quick and dirty review, read on.

I saw Mysterium on the games shelf at our local Alamo Cinema Drafthouse, when Ogre took me to a showing of Three Identical Strangers. (More on both the Alamo and the movie in a minute.) The name and the cover art drew me in.

The $50 price tag, however, put me off and we didn’t actually buy it that night.

I mentioned it when I next talked to my roommates / kids, though, because I couldn’t get it out of my mind. (Update for long-time readers: the kids are all grown up now, and we are sharing expenses as we settle into our “new” home state.)

We play board games at least once a week around here, so I wanted to see if there was any interest in Mysterium. My son took to the interwebs and found the review I linked to above. By the time he finished reading it to the rest of us, we’d decided it needed to become the next addition to our game collection.


First, it’s a BEAUTIFUL game. The art for this American edition has been toned down to be more family-friendly, I guess, but it’s still evocative and gorgeous. There are multiple decks of illustrated cards, little plastic crystal balls, a timer with blue sand, and a stand-up screen that the ghost hides behind. From the unboxing to the reboxing (after we played) handling and playing with the pieces was a pleasure.

Here’s a 5-minute unboxing video I found if you want a closer look.

Second, the game is frustrating as hell, but in a very good way. My suspicion is that the most fun (and frustration) is had by the ghost. Ogre got first crack at the role and he says I’ll love doing it.

Third, Mysterium has several elements that make it a winner for me:

  • it’s a true cooperative game, (though the ghost’s role sometimes feels adversarial)
  • it’s a reasonably quick game to play, (first time out we played in a little more than an hour, buy it will be faster next time, now that we know how it works)
  • it’s easy to learn and understand, (probably best to have someone read the instructions first and then just show everyone how to play)

Verdict: Pricey but worth it.

I have 2 minutes left so, in reference to my earlier references:

1) I LOVE the Alamo. (I actually do have a full post in progress about the newest addition to the Raleigh theater scene.)

2) Go see Three Identical Strangers if you have the opportunity. In a year of great documentaries, I think this has a good shot at taking home an Oscar.

How scary, really, is the 2018 movie Hereditary?

I’m only here today to answer two questions about the film Hereditary (2018).

They are:
1) How scary is it?
2) Is it any good?

I’ll be back on Wednesday with a full review of Hereditary which will include spoilers, but for now, you can safely read on.


Hereditary is being billed as a game-changer movie, (one that is “pants-wettingly scary,” according to Tasha Robinson, over at The Verge.) Here’s a selection of phrases critics are using:

[A] terrifying thriller that pins you to the back of your chair and leaves you paralyzed in fear.
(Detroit News, Andrew Graham)

Are you ready for the year’s scariest movie? I don’t think you are, not at all.
(Mpls. Star Tribune, Colin Covert)

Creepy beyond belief.
(RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz)

So terrifying that I wanted to hide under a blankie during the screening.
(Us Weekly, Mara Reinstein)

And this:
It’s pure emotional terrorism, gripping you with real horror, the unspeakable kind, and then imbuing the supernatural stuff with those feelings. It didn’t play me like a fiddle. It slammed on my insides like a grand piano.
(AV Club, A.A. Dowd)

(These review snippets were mostly gathered at Rotten Tomatoes.)

The buzz about Hereditary was so loud and insistent that I considered waiting until it came out on DVD to watch it. (In a theater, I can’t pause a machine while I get my nerves under control. Also, I’m more likely to view the high tension scenes through a screen of my own fingers, which means I can miss a lot.) My Ogre, however, surprised me with pre-purchased tickets, so, on Saturday afternoon, we went to the theater.

Our front-row seats boded a particularly intense experience, and I was prepared for the worst.

I’m here to tell you, It wasn’t that bad.

Now, maybe that’s a consequence of me being me. I have seen a lot of  deeply unsettling and frightening movies. Even so, I’m pretty sure that a more casual thriller or horror fan will be fine. The requisite bloody scenes (because this is horror after all) are few and manageable. The jump scares are better than most, and there aren’t too many. The tension and dread, however, do begin early and continue throughout the film.

(In my opinion, that gives way to a sense of confusion about the plot in the last third or so of the movie, but I’ll write more about that on the 13th.)

When it comes to pure “scariness” I’d say that Hereditary is easier to watch than The Conjuring.


… and well worth seeing on the big screen.

Hereditary will be going onto one of my best horror movies lists, though I’m not yet sure which one(s).

It could fit on:

13 unsettling movies – for psychological horror fans
the 13+ most haunting films, for ghost story lovers

but it really probably belongs on an entirely new list.

Hereditary may actually inspire me to get off my butt and finally write up that demonic / possession collection I’ve been threatening to do for years.

Overall Hereditary has some problems, but it also has some genuinely amazing moments. The look and feel of the environment, and the camera work used to highlight it, is top notch. The acting is superb. And, when it comes to the motivations and the reactions of the characters, this film breaks new ground.

My final thought (for now)? Don’t be scared to go see it.

Top 10 Weird Weather Wonders

Weird weather and strange atmospheric phenomena have fascinated me since I read the book It’s Raining Frogs and Fishes in 1992. In the years since then, I’ve sought out and “collected” as many unusual, rare, and wondrous meteorological occurrences as I can find.

I’ve even been lucky enough to personally experience the occasional odd event. (As detailed below.)

Basically, I turned weird weather watching into a hobby, and I’ve been indulging in that hobby for decades.

Just lately, though, weather has been even more on my mind than usual. (What with the west coast catching fire, and the east coast getting battered by multiple hurricanes, and the middle ground getting clobbered by historic snowstorms in April.) My anxious soul can’t help but note the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather worldwide. For the record, I believe we are experiencing the consequences of climate change. I also believe that human activity is causing, intensifying, or accelerating this change.


This post is not about our new normal of intensifying extreme weather. This post is about mysterious little anomalies that have been puzzling witnesses for a long time, even — in some cases — for centuries.

I guess I just thought it was time to remind myself that weather watching can be fun.

(an incomplete list, in no particular order)

  • heat bursts
  • thundersnow
  • apocalyptic clouds
  • rains of dead birds / rains of animals
  • brinicles
  • ball lightning
  • megacryometeors
  • red rain / blood rain & watermelon snow
  • frost quakes & other mystery booms
  • star jelly
  • luminous tornadoes


A heat burst is characterized by a dramatic, almost instantaneous, rise in temperature and fall in dew point temperature. Most, but not all, heat bursts are also accompanied by a drop in surface pressure, little to no precipitation, and gusty, rapidly shifting winds. [Interjected note: Most descriptions I’ve read indicate that these winds are caused by a powerful downdraft that descends through a dry, disintegrating thunderstorm. When the downdraft hits the ground, it spreads out like a drop of water, causing high speed winds in all directions.]  Heat bursts are typically a late spring and summer, as well as a late evening and nighttime, phenomenon. … Most heat bursts are detected in the Plains states, but heat bursts have also been recorded overseas, including the United Kingdom and Yemen. Reference for definition: NOAA.GOV

I have not personally experienced a heat burst, but the phenomenon came to my attention when some of my westerly neighbors in MN did.

To understand this event fully, you may want to have the following reference points fresh in your mind:
On July 17th, 2006, at 10:15 p.m., the temperature in Canby, MN was 90° F. The dewpoint was 70° F. In general, it was a warm, sultry night in the wake of thunderstorms.

By 11:15 p.m., that same night, the temperature had risen to 100° F.  Ten degrees is a pretty perceptible spike, particularly when it happens in the middle of the night. The truly amazing thing, though, is that — in the same timeframe — the dewpoint fell to 30° F. In essence, all the sticky humidity was sucked out of the air within the space of one hour.  This change was accompanied by hot gusts of winds measuring up to 63 mph.

Several other western Minnesota town experienced heat bursts that same evening. (To see the details of those events, read the report from the National Weather Service here.)

Another dramatic heat burst occurred at the Kansas City airport in June of 2011: At 12.22 a.m., the temperature was 85° F. At 12.44 a.m., the temperature spiked to 102° F. (That’s 17 degrees in 22 minutes.) Again, hot winds of 60+ mph occurred.

For the granddaddy of all heat bursts, though, we have to go back to June 15th, 1960, to an event the townspeople of Kopperl, TX would dub ‘Satan’s Storm’.

Residents of Kopperl — having gone to bed when the outdoor temperature was about 70° F. — awakened in the middle of the night to the sound of howling winds. (These winds were reported to be up to 75 mph. A store lost its roof. Trees were blown down.) It was suddenly so hot that some folks thought their homes were on fire. Outside, the temperature had risen to over 100° F.* Those who fled their houses found the outdoor air difficult to breath. (Due to its extreme dryness.) When daylight came, farmers reported that corn which had been green and growing the day before now stood brown and dead in the fields.

*There are reports that suggest the temperature actually peaked much higher than 100 degrees, a least for a brief time. Evidence offered to support this includes: cotton plants in the fields that were burnt black; a thermometer (calibrated to read up to 140° F.) that exploded; radiators on parked cars that  boiled over; and paint on houses that blistered.

In 1960, the heat burst phenomenon was as yet unknown to science.

No wonder Kopperl’s citizens called it Satan’s Storm.


While relatively rare anywhere, thundersnow is more common with lake-effect snow in the Great Lakes area of the United States and Canada, the midwestern United States, and the Great Salt Lake. Thundersnow produces heavy snowfall rates in the range of 2-4 inches per hour. There is a greater likelihood that thundersnow lightning will have a positive polarity which has greater destructive potential than negatively charged (typical) lightning. — Reference for definition: wikipedia.org

As a former Minnesotan, this is one phenomena that I have experienced on multiple occasions. (Perhaps four or five times in the 4+ decades that I lived there.) Don’t think, though, that the experience of such a relatively common event isn’t awe-inspiring.

Especially at night, heavily falling snow is so peaceful, and insulated, and cozy, that it’s otherworldly. There is luminosity to the night, because the snow reflects and magnifies every bit of available light, but it’s a soft glow. When lightning flashes as the snow comes down around you, however, it suddenly seems as if you are somehow inside a strobe light.

The sound of snow thunder is striking too.  A snowstorm is a normally a very hushed beast. (Unless there’s howling wind, but that’s a blizzard, not a snowstorm.) In a seasonally appropriate electrical storm, the sound of thunder can be heard for many miles. In a thunder-snowstorm, sound is muffled by the falling flakes and absorbed by the snowpack that already blankets the world. Under these conditions, thunder can only be heard in a 2–3-mile radius of the lightning bolt. Hearing it a weirdly personal experience, and magical.

Also, it’s exciting:


This countdown video will give you a nice overview of eighteen unusual or rare cloud formations. Before you watch, though, scroll down to learn a little about the three most foreboding of them.

# 10 — noctilucent — These clouds were first noted in 1885, after the volcano Krakatoa erupted and hurled plumes of volcanic ash miles into the Earth’s atmosphere. Noctilucent clouds develop only in the summer, and they are best viewed during twilight, after the sun has dropped below the horizon. To attempt to spot them, look for luminous blue-white tendrils in the west,  30-60 minutes after sunset, when the sun has dipped 6° to 16° below the horizon. — Reference for definition:  weather.com

# 15 — pyrocumulus — Translation: fire cloud. These form when there is extreme heat rising from the surface of the earth. We see them over volcanic eruptions and wildfires. Also, of course, this is the nuclear “mushroom cloud”. — Reference for definition: me

# 17 — undulatus asperatus (or asperitas)  The World Meteorological Organization recently added undulatus asperitas to the  International Cloud Atlas. They’re the first new addition to the Atlas in over half a century. “Although they appear dark and storm-like, they almost always dissipate without a storm forming. The ominous-looking clouds have been particularly common in the Plains states of the United States, often during the morning or midday hours following convective thunderstorm activity.” — Reference for definition: wikipedia.org

I need to give you an additional video of this one, because the still photographs in the collection doesn’t do it justice. (According to the photographer, there has been time lapse applied to the following video, and a slight tweak to the contrast.)


Raining animals is a rare meteorological phenomenon in which flightless animals fall from the sky. Such occurrences have been reported in many countries throughout history. One hypothesis is that tornadic waterspouts sometimes pick up creatures such as fish or frogs, and carry them for up to several miles. However, this aspect of the phenomenon has never been witnessed by scientists. Reference for definition:  wikipedia

My first exposure to this horrifying possibility was in the It’s Raining Frogs and Fishes book I mentioned above. I remember thinking at the time (with quite some relief) that the examples cited in the text were so old, and from such exotic locations, that their veracity was questionable.

Then, in 2011, dead birds started falling out of the sky in Arkansas.

(Yes, I realize the above definition of “raining animals” suggests only flightless animals count, but it seems close enough to me.)

Note, the following video shows dead birds. They do not have any gruesome injuries. I felt it was important to show the video because without it, it’s difficult to understand the scale of the event.

Several months after this Hitchcockian episode, a meteorologist found the likeliest explanation for the catastrophe. He was able to confirm that there was an intense temperature inversion in the atmosphere, which probably amplified the sounds of a New Year’s Eve fireworks show. His theory is that the exceptionally loud noises from the town that night caused the birds to panic, sending the huge, densely roosting flock aloft all at once, where a fraction of them collided with one another and/or crashed into stationary objects, resulting in blunt force trauma and death. National Geographic reported, in early 2011, that ornithologists are not surprised by mass bird falls, and attribute nearly all of them to blunt force trauma caused by collisions with man-made objects or by being buffeted by storms.

I was not able to find any recent well-documented cases of rains of flightless animals, unless you count ballooning spiders. Most historical instances of this phenomenon involve fish and amphibians, which is an argument in favor of the theory that tornadic waterspouts are the cause. (A normal water spout is not capable of lifting even small animals; only a tornadic water spout — one that forms over land then passes over water — could do it.) It is noteworthy that most anecdotal accounts of other animals falls have been based on sightings of a unusually large number of out-of-place animals that are already on the ground, not actually falling from the sky.


When sea ice forms in polar regions, salt is forced out of it, and saline-saturated streams of water make their way down through cracks in the ice. This briny solution is denser than the seawater around it and consequently it has a lower freezing point. The transformed, ultra-cold sea water cannot freeze and begins to sink. As it descends, it freezes the warmer water it passes through, creating a tube of ice. This tube is the brinicle. Once the brinicle reaches the seafloor, it spreads out, where it can freeze slow-moving animals like starfish and sea urchins. Reference for definition: Me, after reading a lot of jargon and deciding to spare you.

Now that I’ve tried to condense the science for you, allow me to share the hypnotic video that caught my attention when it made the rounds on social media a few years ago.


If you have even a passing interest is weird weather, you already know about ball lightning. For weather watchers, this is probably the holy grail of atmospheric phenomena.

Anecdotally,  this phenomenon has been described (for hundreds of years) as a floating ball of  light, ranging from pea-sized to room-filling (or even larger). The ball lingers much longer than a lightning bolt, and moves relatively slowly along a straight, curved, or erratic path, sometimes bouncing or zig zagging, and sometimes appearing to roll along surfaces. Some reports suggest that it can pass through walls; that it pops or explodes as it disappears; and/or that it leaves the smell of sulfur or burning electricity in its wake. — Reference for definition: me again, after combing through dozens of sources.

Until recently no one had ever captured scientific proof of the existence of ball lightning, even though there have been many credible  modern sightings. In January of 2014, however, scientists from Northwest Normal University in Lanzhou, China, changed that by publishing a recording which documents ball lightning. The recording was made in 2012, when the scientists were studying ordinary cloud – ground lightning on the Tibetan Plateau.

From a distance of 900 meters (more than half a mile) the researchers witnessed naturally occurring ball lightning. They estimated its visible (to-the-naked-eye) glow to be 5 meters (approximately 16. 5 feet) across, though the ball itself was probably much smaller. The glow burned white, then red, for a second, then disappeared. The scientists were able to record the spectrum of light given off by the phenomenon.

Before you get too excited about the following video, please understand that the recording is not as dramatic as you’d hope. In fact, it may be the most visually anticlimactic clip you’ve ever seen. As boring as it looks, though, and as brief as it is, it proves that ball lightning is a real thing. I encourage you to read the article at physics.aps.org which summarizes the scientific findings of the published report. It’s very accessible, and it explains the significance of the video much better than I ever could.

If you’ve ever witnessed ball lightning, PLEASE comment below and tell us everything about it!!


A megacryometeor is a very large chunk of ice which, despite sharing many textural, hydro-chemical and isotopic features detected in large hailstones, is formed under unusual atmospheric conditions which clearly differ from those of the cumulonimbus cloud scenario (i.e. clear-sky conditions). — Reference for definition: wikipedia

Seeking additional information about this phenomenon turned out to be depressing as hell, because the topic seems to be a lightning rod for arguments between climate change believers and deniers. I got sucked into reading far too many comment threads than is good for my psyche. In the end, I’ve decided to simply share some links to articles about megacryometeors. If you’re wiser than me, you’ll avoid the comments.

As to my personal opinion about the source of these giant ice balls, I lean toward the theory that dangerously large chunks of ice are forming on the exterior of aircraft, then falling from the sky. For most of the reports, that explanation makes the most sense. I don’t know what to tell you about the 400 pound, fridge sized block of ice that reportedly fell on the Brazilian Mercedes Benz factory … except that I couldn’t find any reference to the event outside of it being cited in all the megacryometeor articles.


BLOOD RAIN or red rain is a phenomenon in which blood is perceived to fall from the sky in the form of rain. Instances of blood rain usually cover small areas. The duration can vary, sometimes lasting only a short time, others several days. … Today, the dominant theories are that the rain is caused by red dust suspended in the water, or by the presence of micro-organisms, such as aerial spores of the micro-algae Trentepohlia annulata. — Reference for definition: wikipedia

Recent incidents of  blood rain attributed to micro-algae have been reported in Western India (2001), Sri Lanka (2012), and Spain (2014). Most blood rain events in Europe (including other rains in Spain) are caused by dust that is lifted from the northern part of Africa and carried northward. According to an article at the website of the American Meteorological Society, there have been at least 510 such events across Europe, since 1900.

“The photograph was taken during our study of the red rain phenomenon in Kerala and is published in our report.” The original uploader was Vsasi at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY 2.5, Link


WATERMELON SNOW, (also called pink snow, red snow, or blood snow) is Chlamydomonas nivalis, a species of algae. Unlike most species of fresh-water algae, it is cryophilic (cold-loving) and thrives in freezing water. This type of snow is common during the summer in alpine and coastal polar regions worldwide, such as the Sierra Nevada of California. — Reference for definition:  wikipedia


“Frost quakes,” also known as cryoseisms, are a natural phenomenon that occurs when extremely cold temperatures lead to sudden deep freezing of the ground, after it has been saturated with water. The Vermont Geological Survey defines a cryoseism as, “[a] major frost cracking of the top few feet of the ground, occurring during sub-zero cold snaps, which generates localized ground shaking and is often mistaken for an earthquake.” Expansion that results during the process of freezing can lead to the buildup of explosive stress, which may result in fractures within the earth. Small cracks may be visible on the surface near where a cryoseism has occurred, and in some cases, shaking vibrations may also be felt within the vicinity of the frost quake, along with loud booms that sound similar to gunfire. — Reference for definition:  FROSTQUAKE.ORG

The following video is labeled as an example of a frost quake, but it appears to me that the person is actually recording the sounds of lake ice fracturing. There are deep, heavy sounding booms, but I don’t know if this comes close to capturing the intensity of an earth-based boom. (As far as I know, I’ve never experienced a frost quake.)

I can tell you that I have heard lake ice “grumbling” and “singing” as it freezes and as it breaks up. Here are two videos that beautifully exemplify those sounds, if you have the patience to watch and wait. (It’s much easier to do while you’re sitting at a computer than it is when you’re standing out in the frigid air.)

If you’re only a little patient, the second one is more dramatic.

Here’s an extra heads-up: If you watch this next video, help me figure out what the hell happens at the 33 second mark! What am I seeing swimming behind the ice ridge? A dog?
(Edit: the person who posted the video says there is no animal, only a piece of ice breaking away. Hmm.)


Star jelly (also called astromyxin, astral jelly) is a gelatinous substance sometimes found on grass or even on branches of trees. According to folklore, it is deposited on the Earth during meteor showers. Star jelly is described as a translucent or grayish-white gelatin that tends to evaporate shortly after having “fallen.” Explanations have ranged from the materials being the remains of frogs, toads, or worms, to the byproducts of cyanobacteria, to the paranormal. Reports of the substance date back to the 14th century and have continued to the present day. — Reference for definition: wikipedia

Rana spec. (Star jelly), Buursen, the NetherlandsStar jelly is a relatively common phenomenon, that has been reported world-wild. To be clear, there is not a scientific consensus about the source of star jelly, though it has often been collected and analyzed. Some instances are obviously related to the activities of amphibians, but not all of them, nor even most. Star jelly has been linked in some reports to sightings of will-o-the-wisp type lights and/or UFO sightings. In some areas, where an outdoor location is reputed to be haunted, it has been associated with ghostly activity.

I have to admit that I didn’t realize this was “a thing” when I  saw similar blobs while out prowling the semi-wild woods and swamps of Minnesota. Frankly, I just assumed that it was expectorated by some person or excreted by some animal that had passed by before me. I didn’t look closely, and I didn’t search for additional blobs in the surrounding area. And there’s no way in hell I ever touched it, not even with a stick. In my defense, It didn’t seem particularly striking to me after seeing, then researching, the telial horns of Cedar Apple Rust disease in my own backyard:

Now THAT’S disgusting. But it’s not weather per se.  Read more at backyardnature.net.


Tornadoes and lightning often go together, but this phenomenon is NOT about lightning bolts illuminating a funnel. Rather, this is about reportage of an otherworldly blue glow emanating from the exterior of  the funnel itself, while its interior–it’s throat–glows with fire-like hues of red and orange. Some accounts say that balls of this fiery internal light can and do appear to emerge from the narrow end of the funnel. (Ball lightning?) This lightshow is only visible in tornadoes occurring at night. — Reference for definition: Me again. It’s what I do: research information then condense and clarify.

Most reports of this phenomenon originate from the infamous 1965 Palm Sunday Tornado Outbreak. (Over the course of approximately eleven hours, on April 11th and 12th, at least 47 serious tornadoes were spawned along a 450 mile stretch of the Midwest; twenty-one of them were deadly.)

In a 1966 article in the journal Science, a witness — recorded only as Mrs. Highiet — is quoted as saying:

“We were shaken up and our trailer along with others was dented badly from hail the size of baseballs. The beautiful electric blue light that was around the tornado was something to see, and balls of orange and lightning came from the cone point of the tornado. The cone or tail of the tornado reminded me of an elephant trunk. It would dip down as if to get food then rise again as if the trunk of an elephant put food in his mouth. My son and I watched the orange balls of fire roll down the Racy Way Park then it lifted and the roof came off one of the horse barns.” (Toledo, OH)

The following photograph was taken by James R. Wyer, near Toledo, OH, on the night of April 11th, 1965. It may show two luminescent funnels.

Photographer: Jim Weyer

This same storm system was known to have birthed at least one other pair of twin tornadoes. The following shot was taken earlier on April 11th, in Dunlap, IN:


I don’t for a minute think that this post is DONE. But I’ve been hanging onto it — occasionally adding bits  and pieces here and there — for months. It’s time to hit the publish button and let it make its way to the search engines.

If you’re interested in a particular weather-related phenomenon that I haven’t mentioned here, drop a comment below.
I’ll add it to my list of things to research and write about.

In the future, I’ll likely post about one kind of weird weather at a time, and this page will become a sort of index to additional articles.

So, what’s the weirdest weather you’ve ever witnessed? What weather event would you most like to see … or, conversely, which would you prefer to avoid at all costs?

The best way I know to make you smile.

I’m not a smiley person. (Shocker.) I grin a lot. And I laugh all the time, but I’ve got one of those resting serious faces. Of course I am quite capable of soft, sweet, gentle smiles, but those are reserved for close family and friends.

Also, I don’t take a lot of photographs of happy-smiley subjects. (Outside of family snapshots.) When I’ve got the camera, I’m usually going for atmospheric, or evocative, or — yeah — creepy.

For both these reasons, this week’s photo challenge stumped me for a long while. Tonight, though, when I went back and re-read the prompt, and I got an idea.

The prompt says,

This week, show us a smile (yours or someone else’s), make us smile, or both.

“… make us smile …” That I might be able to do.

For years now, I’ve been gathering up “paranormal” themed memes / funnies / comics, and curating a collection of them at cheeseburger.com. (Which you may remember from the LOL Cats mania in days past.) If you’re looking for a grin, a snicker, a chortle, or a snort, you might find something to please you at my gallery.

Pop over to paranormallols.cheeseburger.com to see my collection.

Of course, I didn’t take any of the photographs used to make those memes, (except one) nor did I make the memes themselves (except that same one.)

So, if I left it at that, I would be kind of cheating the challenge, wouldn’t it?

Alrighty, then, I’ll share a photograph I took a few years back, when I was training our older dog. Every time I see the picture, it makes me smile.

That’s the best I can do 😀



Here are some of my favorite SMILE responses from others:

(I’ll add more as I have time to browse, so feel free to check back.)

smiling lizarda sketchtears of joycrushedcarousel horsea horror haikuBare Bones Landscaping Co.killdeer (I love a blog that teaches me something)hey! a cat meme 🙂 plus real live onesBuddha smile – A wide green smile leeks an odd toothy grin

click her for more on the Weekly Photo Challenge


Fair warning: I’m returning to regular blogging after a long hiatus. I haven’t quite got the hang of it yet. My posting schedule is off, and things might be a little messy if you wander around long enough. 

The Sunset’s Light

This week’s weekly photo challenge theme is rise/set. This is a bit troublesome for me.

I’m almost certain I’ve NEVER taken a picture of a sunrise (though I’ve seen a few just after being up all night) and I rarely take photographs of the sunset itself. Oh, I know. A sunset is pretty, but it’s not as compelling for me as the light it casts on the world around me.

Today, (and probably for the rest of the month of April) I need to be in and out of here quickly, because I’m taking another crack at FINISHING the carnival novel before May 1st. (Thank you, Camp NaNoWriMo, for the latitude “NaNoWRiMo” grants me in my personal life.)

With no further nattering on, here are some shots that (almost) capture the sunset’s light:

Ooh, ooh, I found an actual sunset … along with a MOON rise. That counts, right?

Here are some of my favorite ‘RISE/SET‘ responses from others:

(I’ll add more IF I have time to browse, so feel free to check back.)

a stunning selection of actual sunsetsand another set, in a darker, more somber palette – Invitation to a Haunted Dusksunset boatssunrise mist (On, yeah! I have seen this phenomena, back when I was working the graveyard shift at the Paranormal hotel. Never thought to take a picture though) – Ah! someone else decided to go with the moon too –  gold! by ‘bonegirl’. Love that name.roiling skyOh, cool. Some-brave-one did a black and white sunset.sunset Ferris wheelfrozen ground, fiery skybeachbridge & balloonsgolden harbora spill of lightbland –  more sunrise mist(!) over falls – For Ogre: Grand CanyonNow this is the kind of sunrise mist I remember.

click her for more on the Weekly Photo Challenge


Fair warning: I’m returning to regular blogging after a long hiatus. I haven’t quite got the hang of it yet. My posting schedule is off, and things might be a little messy if you wander around long enough.