Mystery Mothman: The Spooky Creature of the Virginias
By Dan Hanlon
So you live in Virginia and want to start hunting down mythical creatures like you’re on The X Files? Well, a good creature to start with would be Mothman, which as his name would have you believe, is a moth-like man. The only problem is that Mothman was spotted in West Virginia and you live in Virginia. However, if you’re willing to believe in Mothman then it’s not too much of a stretch to believe that he would cross the state border into Virginia. In fact, it’s even easier to believe when you consider that West Virginia was named the most miserable state in a 2012 study. Perhaps Mothman grew tired of being miserably depressed in West Virginia and sputtered his enormous wings eastward to Virginia.
With sightings ranging from 1966 to today, Mothman is described as a 7-foot tall gray or brown creature with glowing red eyes and large wings that allow him to fly at incredible rates of speed. Witnesses claim that Mothman makes a loud shrieking sound, which some describe as sounding like a generator starting up or a woman screaming. Since those two noises aren’t very similar, the sound of Mothman is just as mysterious as his existence. So whatever Mothman may look or sound like, it’s probably safe to say you’ll know him when you see him.
The first sighting of Mothman occurred on November 15th 1966 in Point Pleasant West Virginia when two married couples drove past an abandoned TNT plant and spotted the creature. The couples became frightened and sped away in their vehicle at speeds over 100 miles per hour; all while Mothman flew over top of them at the same speed. That same evening about 90 miles away, building contractor Newell Partridge spotted Mothman on his property. Before he could grab his gun and exclaim, “Get off my lawn you dirty moth,” Mothman was gone and so was Partridge’s dog. The same two couples that spotted Mothman at the TNT factory later reported seeing a dead dog during their drive, which very well could have been Partridge’s dog. To this day, Partridge blames Mothman for the disappearance of his dog and problems with his TV’s cable reception. Not exactly serious problems, but both are frustrating nonetheless.
Despite many more sightings, there is still much debate as to what Mothman is. As most UFO hunters would say, “It was aliens!” Author and UFOlogist John Keel believed that Point Pleasant was a “window area” to the paranormal, with sightings of Mothman, UFOs, men in black, and premonitions among residents of a bridge collapse that occurred in December 1967. Many others believe Mothman to be some type of alien, but as it happens with any UFO sighting or mythical creature, skeptics argue that it was a weather balloon. Skeptical investigator Joe Nickell argues that the sightings were due to people misidentifying owls and a group of construction workers who tied red flashlights to weather balloons. Perhaps Nickell has a point, or perhaps he’s too crippled with fear to consider the existence of the hellish spectacle that is the Mothman.
If you believe in Mothman and want to track him down, it should be easy. For instance, I’ve only known about Mothman for a week, yet I’ve solved how to find him: turn a light on and put out a steak. The moth part of him will come for the light and the man part of him will come for the steak. Either that, or some homeless drifter will come eat your steak. Snap a picture either way because it would make for a pretty good story.
Bell(e) of the Week: May 28th
By Tykeya O'Neil and Gabbi Herzberg
You have until Saturday, June 2 at midnight EST to cast your vote! We'll announce the winner on Sunday, so please check back, fledglings <3
QB Express--now in RVA!
In honor of our dearly departed Josephine Stone, Quail Bell Express: Issue 1, our print 'zine, is currently being distributed across Richmond, Virginia. As of today, you can find it for FREE at Rumors and Harrison Street Cafe. But stay alert! More will be hitting Carytown later this week. If you find yourself in RVA, be sure to pick up a copy.
Photographer: Brendan Rijke. Model: Kasey Schoenike
A Quail Bell(e)'s Guide to Dreams
By Jade Miller
Dreams are the great equalizer. Even if you don't remember them, everyone has them and they're pretty much all strange. While some Quail Bell(e)s enjoy living in a realm of dreams, at times the images you see flying across your ceiling are hard to understand and sometimes can even freak a girl out. The QB Crew is here for you, to give some meaning to those dreams and put your heart at ease.
Animals: Bird: freedom
Dog: gain and friendship, hearing just barking may predict difficulties
in your future
Fish: energy and freedom with your feelings
Lion: strength and pride
Quail: alive they show a favorable omen and dead will only bring bad
Falling: feeling of fear or abandonment
Teeth: health and well-being, being able to express yourself. Teeth falling out is losing something important in your life
Baby: a new idea
Death: usually represents change, going from one stage of life to another
Mountain: an obstacle to overcome
Being naked: honesty, either an aspect within the dreamer or ideas in their true form
Test: challenge in life, real or imagined
These are just guidelines for the basic images seen in dreams and dream interpretation is not concrete, but almost every dream image has a positive aspect, even dying. So, though your dreams might seem frightening or overwhelming, just think positive and overcome those obstacles presented!
The Faith of the Richmond Mixtecs
By Zack Budryk
It’s only mid-morning this April day, but the street facing Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Richmond, Virginia is full of both clergy and laity. Most are dressed formally, and several older boys flank the priests dressed as Roman soldiers. As the Mass begins, rather than standing in place, the parishioners form a moving procession around the block, palm leaves held high, led by a woman strumming a guitar and singing a Spanish hymn. To someone unfamiliar with the Mixtec community on Richmond’s Southside, this Palm Sunday Mass is quite a sight to behold.
Even for an immigrant community, the Richmond Mixtecs face many significant cultural obstacles. In the mostly Hispanic Sacred Heart congregation, Mixtecs are still a minority of sorts, considering many are fluent in neither English nor Spanish.
Like many immigrant communities, religion plays a major role in the lives and culture of the Mixtecs.
“When they came, it was a small church; there was not a whole lot of people there,” said the Rev. Shay Auerbach, the church’s pastor. “Over the last 20 years, it’s become predominantly Hispanic. … It used to have on the rolls probably about 200 or 300 people. Now it’s got 4,500.”
Auerbach said his involvement with the Mixtec community is due partly to his membership in the Jesuit order, which has traditionally worked with marginalized groups.
Why does he invest such time serving the community?
“First of all, because it’s a justice issue,” said Auerbach, a descendent of indigenous Hawaiians, “but second of all, just because I kind of come from a related background.”
Auerbach suspects that the Mixtecs have opened up to him largely because he’s a priest.
“They really don’t trust a lot of people at all, and I think it’s from their own experience,” Auerbach said. “They live in one of the two poorest municipalities in Mexico. People have come to take advantage of them for 500 years. There is somewhat more trust with clergy, because they are Catholic. They do know that, and they do have a very strong devotion to their patron saint, which is St. Michael the Archangel.”
Beyond religious services, the Catholic Church has played a significant role in the Mixtecs’ daily lives.
Mary Wickham, director of the Sacred Heart Center, has done extensive outreach for the Mixtecs and has helped in the foundation of an embroidery cooperative.
The center is associated with the parish but operates independently, Wickham said. “Our mission is to open pathways for opportunity for social and economic integration, self-realization and community leadership.”
Auerbach said the church and its subsidiaries are doing their best to assist the Mixtecs, but they continue to face unique challenges.
“You’re dealing with a group that suffers from isolation and poverty and everything that goes with that,” he said. “They’re growing up in a very tough situation, because it’s not like there’s anything there for them to hold onto.”
Stay outta the sun, girl.
By Brooke Covington
Skin white as snow, hair black as ebony, lips red as blood.
Think you can do it?
While we can’t help you talk to animals or find seven severely short men for you to hang out with, The QB Crew can at least help you look like Snow White. But proceed with caution, Snow White has her enemies. So before jumping into the exterior features, we will need to provide you with some basic rules to live by if you are going to become Snow White:
Okay, back to your physical transformation…
- Stay away from all evil-looking queens (be it female, drag, or otherwise).
- Avoid all huntsmen. Sure, most men will be after your heart when they see you, Snow White, but this particular huntsmen will want to actually cut your heart out. Beware!
- Do not eat any apples--mostly just apples being given out by hideous old ladies, but to be on the safe side, we will just rule out all apples.
Now, we all know Snow White is supposed to be fair—hence the name. So first, you’ll need to protect yourself from those harmful UV rays. Snow White is pale—like snow...and white. So make sure that your skin tone appears similarly. Always double up on sunblock!
Also, one of Snow White’s trademark features is her hair. While skin tone and dress are important distinctions when transforming yourself into this beautiful princess, the greatest distinguishing feature is going to be your hair. It must be jet black and cut to just below the ears while softly curling upwards. In addition, your hair needs to be silky and smooth—so make sure you are taking the proper steps to keeping your hair healthy.
And last, but not least, the lips. The Snow White recipe calls for lips red as blood (but do not use actual blood, people. She is a princess, not a vampire). Try using a fiery red colored lipstick or lip gloss. The juxtaposition of your bright red lips against your pale skin will help you turn heads and stand out in the crowd.
As for clothing, our suggestion is vibrant, colorful dresses. But if you don’t want to go all out with a princess gown, Snow White-inspired clothing will also do. Try pairing a bright yellow skirt with a royal blue top (the puffier the sleeves, the better). Top it all off by placing a cherry red bow in your hair and you’ve done it. You have become Snow White.
While unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that your mirror on the wall will tell you that you’re the fairest of them all, we do hope that you’ll take our advice and let your inner princess shine!
Clowder & Pack Begins Thursday
Thursday, May 24th, Cats and Dogs Coffeeshop will host Clowder & Pack Fine Booksellers, a four day pop-up bookstore in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The store will benefit Assemble, a community space for art and technology, also on Penn Ave. The shop is at 4059 Penn Avenue, just west of Penn and Main. The bookstore will take over their back room.
The store will feature new and used books, as well as books from local authors, writers, zine makers, and others. The local author books will be priced individually, with proceeds going straight to those authors. The other books will be $2 each, and $1 after the first five. Proceeds from those will go directly Assemble.
We will accept cash as well as credit cards via square.
Clowder & Pack will last for four days, from Thursday May 24th until Sunday May 28th.
Hours will be 9AM to 9PM.
The coffee shop will open at 6AM on Thursday and Friday, and 9AM Saturday and Sunday.
We have over 1500 books in stock.
There will be readings and talks by a host of local authors, writers, and others. A selection:
Lori Jakiela & Karen Lillis, two local authors, will be reading from their recent work, 7pm Friday.
Lori Jakiela's latest book of poetry, Spot the Terrorist! (Turning Point Press), takes the reader on flights through the ordinary, in which the mundane experiences of an airline attendant become something much stranger and wilder.
Karen Lillis' new novella, Watch the Doors as They Close (Spuyten Duyvil), "reads as if you found the diary on a table in a local coffee shop and stuffed it into your bag—it is at once both intimate and secretive…." (Curbside Splendor review).
Kayte Rose, local bookbinder and game developer, will give a talk and workshop Saturday at Noon.
The writer and director of the web series Echo Chamber, Tom Pike, will give a talk about screenwriting Saturday at 3pm.
Christine Stoddard, editor of Quail Bell Magazine, and the Quail Bell crew, will speak at 6pm Saturday.
Mr. Dog, writer and game author, will give a workshop on writing Sunday at Noon.
Assemble, which will be receiving the proceeds from the store, is a former storefront at 5125 Penn Ave converted into a community space. Assemble hosts monthly shows by artists, designers, and makers, ranging from a temporary urban farm to the most recent show, Animals Eating Animals, which explores the power relationships between animals, people, corporations, and nostalgic Americana.
In addition, Assemble hosts monthly learning parties for kids of all ages (and big kids (adults) too!), ongoing lecture and workshop series, music events highlighting local bands, and a host of other activities. The bulk of their offerings are free to the public, especially the local community, and so fundraising is a vital part of keeping the space open and accessible.
More information about Clowder & Pack Fine Booksellers can be found at any of the places below:
Clowder & Pack Blog
Clowder & Pack Facebook Business Page
Clowder & Pack Facebook Event Page
A Bit About Falsies
By Lucy Sherman
My first encounter with false eyelashes was when I was fourteen years old. It was school picture day at my high school, and my class was about to leave to go to the auditorium, where the photographer had set up. My friend Molly, a girl known for wearing combat boots with dresses she made herself from vintage patterns, turned around and handed me a little box. It contained a set of long black lashes and a small tube of glue.
“Put these on” she told me, handing me a small pocket mirror. Deciding just to go along with it, I smeared the glue above my lashes and attempted to apply the line of synthetic hairs to my eyelid. After a good twenty minutes and a lot of help from Molly I had a set of full, lush, false eyelashes set on my face, right as it was my turn to get my photo taken. I’m sure they would have looked lovely too, if the flash hadn’t made me scowl and nearly close my eyes.
False eyelashes have a very glamorous history, starting in Hollywood’s silent film era. The American film director D.W. Griffith first dreamed up the idea of false lashes in 1916. He wanted actress Seena Owens in his film “Intolerance” to have eyelashes so long they would sweep across her cheeks. A wigmaker created these false lashes by weaving human hair through fine gauze, and then pasting them to Owen’s eyelids. The film was not a hit, but Griffith’s creations became a Hollywood standard in silent films.
As false eyelashes started becoming more popular they were made of fringe. They didn’t look natural, only lasted a few hours, and were applied by a procedure in a salon so only those with enough money could afford them. Because of these factors, false eyelashes didn’t catch on in popularity. It wasn't until the 1950s that they really started to boom. Hollywood starlets started regularly using false eyelashes made of synthetic materials. After the 50’s, though, false eyelashes declined in popularity.
In the new millennium the material used for false eyelashes became more advanced, and as a result, 'falsies' have become easier to apply. They look much more natural, and celebrities have started wearing them more frequently. Some are even made of animal products. According to Brian Dakks of CBS, Oprah is said to have a pair made of mink, and Jennifer Lopez has a pair made of fox hair for special events. Models in photo shoots and on the runway use false eyelashes as well. Some celebrities use natural looking false lashes to enhance their own, while some pop divas such as Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, and Selena Gomez wear giant lashes in various bright colors for music videos and performances.
As false eyelash material became more advanced, they also became more accessible, affordable, and popular. Now they are not only worn by celebrities such as Madonna, Liza Minnelli, and Nicki Minaj, but can be worn as a fashion statement by anyone for any occasion: women on a night out, drag queens in a performance, or even teenage girls for a high school photo shoot.
Take a bite of this.
The most popular pastry around these days is no doubt the cupcake. Old news, yawn. (Seen that, eaten that, got the tattoo.) But did you know that in the Middle Ages, people craved a scalier sweet? Meet the dragon cake—the mightiest of baked goods, a sugary treat of claws and jaws and fire-breathing fierceness. When you bit this baby, it literally bit back!
Cupcakes are darling, tame, and predictable. Even the novelty of a chocolate bacon or fried Oreo® cupcake has worn off. About the only surprising flavors left are fetal pig and bunny intestines. It's also a fact that at least four in ten struggling actors who have moved to New York City within the past three years have done a stint at a cupcake shoppe. Because cupcakes are so yesterday, it's time to make the old new again. When's the last time you tried dragon meat?
In the Middles Ages, eating dragon meat was like eating chicken—everybody did it, except for the stray Buddhist Monk who lost his way on the Silk Road. The difference between their dragon and our chicken was that theirs was alive. If you didn't want a dragon wing to flutter in your eye, you had better pinch it. If you didn't want a dragon tooth to tear your lip, you had better rip off the little bugger's head first. More than one eater of the dragon cake complained of singed hair and scorched skin, too.
If eating a dragon cake was a small adventure, making a dragon cake was a grand one. To make a dragon cake, you first had to capture a dracling, or baby dragon. This meant getting the dracling fresh from the egg. Disturbing a dragon's nest is no easy task. Imagine the fear factor of disturbing a crocodile's nest. Now multiply that by 100. That's how hard and scary it is to snatch eggs from a watchful dragon mama. Assuming you succeeded in your quest, you then had to shove a dracling into each and every cupcake you made. Needless to say, draclings didn't like that kind of subservience very much.
For some reason, nobody ever considered killing and cooking a dragon. Surely eating a dead dragon would've been simpler than eating a live one. Of course, this was also the same age where people believed in leeching and chastity belts. It's up to us to resurrect the dragon cake...with one crucial modification. Who wants to design a dracling guillotine?
The Last of the Dinosaurs
By Dr. Nicholas A. Sharp
On Saturday, May 12, 2012, Dr. Nicholas A. Sharp, assistant professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, delivered the following speech at the VCU Department of English commencement ceremony:
Good afternoon, and congratulations.
Ever since Professor Oggel suggested that I make some brief comments this afternoon, I’ve been thinking about archaeopteryx. Not the band Archeopteryx –God no, not that band, yuchhh! -- but the dinosaur.
Archaeopteryx was a small dinosaur, about the size of a crow. He had feathers of a sort, and wings. He could glide, but not fly, and he had a mouth with teeth but not a bill, and he had a long tail. So he wasn’t exactly a bird, but rather a dinosaur.
Now, as most of you know, about 65.5 million years ago, a gigantic meteorite crashed into the earth. It killed off all the dinosaurs. All except archaeopteryx. Tyrannosaurus rex? Gone. Triceratops? All dead. Velociraptor, stegosaurus, pteranodon, sauropod, in the space of a few hundred years, all wiped out, all extinct. But archaeopteryx survived. And by 65 million years ago, that last archeopteryx must have been pretty disoriented. Here he was, this tough little critter that had evolved during the great age of the dinosaurs. He had been around for about 100 million years, sharing his lakes and swamps and wetlands with duckbills and ankylosaurs and apatosaurs. Now they were all just gone, replaced by weird little rodents and odd looking primates.
And what’s more, his own children and grandchildren and great grandchildren weren’t familiar, either. They weren’t like him. They weren’t even exactly archaeopteryx any more. They were something else. Not really dinosaurs at all, they had evolved into birds. They didn’t glide, they flew. They didn’t have teeth, they had beaks. Their tails were short, they had one toe that turned backwards, and they didn’t have any claws on their wings.
That last archaeopteryx must have felt pretty bad. Everything he knew and loved was gone, and everything that had come in their place seemed strange and foreign and uncomfortable. Either this world wasn’t right for him, or he wasn’t right for this new kind of world.
I think I know how he felt.
Nearly twenty years ago, my world was impacted by an earth shattering event, nearly as devastating to me and my kind as the meteorite that slammed into the Gulf of Mexico 65.5 million years ago. On April 30, 1993, CERN, the European nuclear research center in Geneva, announced that the World Wide Web would be free and available to anyone with a computer and a phone line.
Neither I nor any of my friends in the English departments around the world knew it then, but our time, our world, our intellectual environment, was ending. The books that we had grown up with and loved so much were dying out, ceasing to be books at all and becoming instead text files and .pdf’s and .html documents. The bibliographies and encyclopedias and journals that we had relied on for decades were being removed from the shelves of libraries and turned into “databases,” whatever that means. The card catalog was replaced with computer terminals and, unthinkably, coffee shops and snacking tables.
And our students, our intellectual children and grand children – well, they certainly weren’t like us. They wanted to talk seriously about things that we could hardly regard as anything but childish nonsense. They talked about comic books – COMIC BOOKS!, for goodness sake – as if they were literature. They called them “graphic novels” but we all knew that “a rose by any other name” was still a rose, and comic books were still comic books, no matter what you called them. They thought that Jack Kerouac was a serious writer. And they played games! Video games, to be sure, but still games, children’s toys, things that you played at, amusements and entertainments, but not the serious stuff of scholarly study.
Like the archaeopteryx, we felt as though these were our children, our students, but they weren’t our kind. They had changed, become something different. If I was a dinosaur, then they were birds, and they weren’t living in my world, which was gone, but I was living in theirs, which was just emerging.
Of course, we archaeopteryx did our best to adapt. We got computers on our desks, and we learned how to access JSTOR for articles and Project Gutenberg for books. We bought Kindles and iPads and Androids. We learned to post grades on Blackboard and to show videos from YouTube in class – Robert Pinsky reading “Samurai Song,” and Benjamin Zephaniah reciting Shelley’s “Ye Men of England” or chanting his “Dis Poetry.”
Some of us archaeopteryx, at least I, tried to introduce ourselves to the new kinds of literature, poems and stories that could not even have been imagined in our time, interactive .html narratives like These Waves of Girls or 99 Constellations for Wittgenstein and Flash animated poems like Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries’ “Into the Night” or “Miss DMZ.”
Others among the archaeopteryx insist that although the world is now full of birds, not dinosaurs, some of those birds still want to readreal books, and so they assign their classes to read 3400 pages of Victorian novels.
We’re both wrong, of course, and we’re both right. “Real books” – Dickens and Conrad, Wordsworth and Yeats – still have a place in the world, but they are increasingly “viewed” on a Nook or listened to on an mp3 player instead of being read on a printed page of paper. And “electronic literature” continues to become more and more widely practiced as budding young authors see the expressive and creative possibilities that can be accomplished by combining words and text with audio files and graphic images.
And so, speaking now as quite possibly the very last true archaeopteryx in the Department of English, I can say to you graduates, and to my younger colleagues as well, I wish you well in the years and decades to come. My world was filled with literary giants – in the 1950’s Norman Mailer was a tyrannosaurus among novelists, and in the 1960’s Elizabeth Bishop was a veritable pteranodon among poets – but their kind is rapidly going as extinct as any dinosaur, replaced by a newly evolved kind of “writer” -- novelists who compose entire trilogies about comic strip characters, for instance, and poets who are more widely read in electronic journals than in slim volumes of print.
The world has evolved into the age of the avians, and I wish you all the best in this new era. The time of the literary archaeopteryx is past, and although your new era may be strictly for the birds, I believe that you younger writers and readers and teachers can, therefore, learn to fly. The next few years and decades – YOUR years and decades – promise to be remarkably exciting as you begin your blogs and create your digital stories. In a sense, I envy you. I wish that I had been born digital – the new and as yet unimagined possibilities are so great.
And yet, I am happy to have come of age in the time when great dinosaurs of the printed word still roamed the earth, the age of Robert Lowell and Philip Larkin, of I. B. Singer and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. And I hope that you, as you spread your imaginative wings, will remember them, too, and their great predecessors in the time of the printed word and the paper book. I am sure that they would all, as do I, wish you all the very best as you soar away from us, your professors here at VCU, and especially from me the last of the dinosaurs.
Editor's Note: The QB Crew thanks Professor Sharp for giving us permission to post the text to his speech here. Congratulations again to all VCU 2012 graduates. Go Rams!