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The Origin of The Blob: The Star Jelly

You think fake blood is gross? Nuh uh, Mother Nature has you beat.


Ever walk outside to find a sloppy mess of gelatinous goo on tree branches or grass? It’s usually translucent or grayish-white, and always a pile of goop. Some know it as Star Jelly, while others call it Astromyxin. But even stranger tales call it the residue of meteor showers.

Star Jelly.
Star Jelly.

History

Ever since the 13th century, people have been finding examples of Star Jelly across the globe. John of Gaddesden, for example, mentions “stella terrae,” which translates in Latin to “star of the earth” or “earth-star,” in medical writings, and even describes it as “a certain mucilaginous substance lying upon the earth.” He goes on to suggest that Star Jelly could be used to treat abscesses. (Pro tip: It doesn’t.)

In the 14th century, there’s a medical Latin textbook containing an entry for “uligo,” which is described as “a certain fatty substance emitted from the earth, that is commonly called ‘a star which has fallen.’”

Later, in 1440, an English-Latin dictionary includes a definition for “sterre slyme.” The Latin equivalent provided within the text is “assub,” which in medieval Latin is a term for a “falling” or “shooting star.”

Recently, an article in the magazine Fate argued that Star Jelly came from extraterrestrial origins. The article called the goo “cellular organic matter” that exists as “prestellar molecular clouds” which float through space.

Is that true? Eh, I wouldn’t put money on it. But it doesn’t change the fact that Star Jelly is strange as hell and super gross to look at.

So what is it?

Theories

The National Geographic Society hired scientists to research Star Jelly, and they failed to find any DNA within the material. (So there goes Fate’s extraterrestrial origin.)

The Massachusetts Department of Environment Quality Engineering performed tests on “star fall” that dropped on North Reading. The results found that the material was “non-toxic,” though it’s still recommended not to eat Star Jelly.

In the 18th century, Thomas Pennant came up with a theory that the goo is “something vomited up by birds or animals.”

Along that same thought process, a separate theory proposed that Star Jelly is frog spawn consumed and then vomited up by amphibian-eating creatures. However, no frog spawn has ever grown to the size of some reported cases of Star Jelly. (And some of the aforementioned studies have proven that the substance contains no DNA.)

Regurgitated spawn.
Regurgitated spawn.

Lastly, some believe that slime molds are the reason for Star Jelly, because these mold types appear gelatinous at first and quickly turn to a dust-like form. The colors also range from white to pink, yellow to orange, and even in some cases brown.

The Blob

One of the strangest examples of Star Jelly happened in 1950, when four Philadelphia policemen found “a domed disk of quivering jelly, 6 feet in diameter, one foot thick at the center and an inch or two near the edge.” When they tried to pick the thing up, it turned into an “odorless, sticky scum.”

And here’s the best part: this incident actually was the inspiration for the film The Blob. Ponder that next time you see some of this strange goop hanging out.

The Alien Abduction of Betty and Barney Hill: Part 3/3

Take your alien love up a notch: Read the following post through the eyes of an alien mask!


In 1963, Barney and Betty Hill went public with their alien abduction experience. They told the story to a small church group, which must have been one hell of an awkward conversation.

A few months later, a speaker came to the Hills’ church to discuss hypnosis. After the lecture, the Hills told the speaker about how Barney was going to a psychiatrist, and the speaker suggested trying hypnosis to alleviate the leftover alien-induced fear.

At the mention of hypnosis, Barney’s psychiatrist recommended him to Dr. Benjamin Simon, located in Boston, MA. Simon immediately recognized Barney’s intense and immediate fear, and he even believed that Barney was holding a lot of it back.

So the two hopped right into the hypnosis sessions.

Barney’s Hypnosis

To say that Barney’s hypnotic recollection of seeing alien figures was traumatic would be a huge, huge understatement. He had emotional outbursts, expressions of fear, and vividly described his feelings during the alien’s physical examination.

The experience was so ridiculously wild, Dr. Simon actually recommended not continuing with hypnosis until Barney could calmly deal with the experience. But Barney insisted that they continue.

Under hypnosis, Barney could recall much of the alien abduction, even the parts previous escaping his memory. For example, he remembered initially driving the car away from the UFO, and then he remembered feeling an urge to pull off the road and into the woods. There, six figures stood in the road. Then the car stalled and three of the figures approached, telling Barney not to fear. When they got right up to the car, Barney said it “felt like [their] eyes had pushed into my eyes.”

The eyes were a focal point for Barney’s hypnotic recollections. He often described the figures as staring into his eyes with a terrifying, mesmerizing effect. On the topic he said things like “Oh, those eyes. They’re in my brain.” And “I was told to close my eyes because I saw two eyes coming close to mine, and I felt like the eyes had pushed into my eyes.” And “All I see are these eyes…I’m not even afraid that they’re not connected to a body. They’re just there. They’re just up close to me, pressing against my eyes.”

Seeing Barney make so much progress with his hypnotic sessions, Betty then decided to try it out.

Betty’s Hypnosis

Betty wanted to see if her hypnotic recollections would be similar or different than her dreams. And as it turned out, they were a bit of both.

The UFO’s technology was different within her hypnotic sessions, as was Betty’s capture and release. The alien figures also had a drastically different physical appearance. Moreover, Betty recalled more detail within her hypnotic state than within her dreams.

Both Barney and Betty’s hypnotic sessions were similar to each other, yet both were very different than Betty’s dreams. Both also displayed intense emotional discomfort during the sessions. (Betty once had to end her session early due to too much agony and crying.)

Conclusion

So, was it all true? Did Betty and Barney get abducted by aliens while driving down a highway at night? Depends on what you want to believe, I guess. The hypnotic sessions both supported and contradicted Betty’s dreams, yet the amount of total evidence is overwhelming. Clearly something happened to the Hills, and clearly it left them with traumatic damage for the rest of their lives.

Whether or not it was aliens that did it, it’s up to you to say.

Read Part 1 and Part 2

The Alien Abduction of Betty and Barney Hill: Part 2/3

Right, so the scene is set: Betty and Barney, deserted highway, metallic craft, creepy alien outfits, telepathic messages, lost time, and then they arrive at home. So, what do they do? And more importantly, what can they do?

Let’s find out:

Upon arriving at their house, both Betty and Barney begin to experience strange sensations and impulses. For example, Betty insisted that her luggage be placed near the back door, not within any main room.

The watches they were wearing during the alien ordeal no longer worked (and would never again work). The leather strap of the binoculars was torn and Barney’s dress shoes were scraped, though he could not recall how either of those items became damaged.

Betty and Barney both later admitted to taking long, long showers to remove some unknown filth, and they each drew pictures of what they saw, which were incredibly similar.

Utterly confused about what happened, Betty and Barney spent a while trying to reconstruct the events, piecing fractured memories together to form a whole picture. Both could remember everything up to the point when rhythmic beeps flooded the car, and then things grew hazy. Barney remembered shouting, “Oh no, not again,” though he couldn’t recall why. Betty remembered a moon shape sitting in the middle of the highway and that Barney took a sharp left off Route 3 to escape.

But that was it.

So they went to sleep. A few hours into the night, Betty awoke and began putting her clothes away. That’s when she noticed that the dress she was wearing during the event had been torn at the hem, zipping, and lining. Later, she noticed a pink powder on the dress, so she threw it away, only to change her mind and put it back in the closet.

In the morning, the couple noticed that the car’s trunk had concentric circle marked into the metal. Struck by a moment of brilliance, Betty and Barney grabbed a compass and placed it next to one of the circles, and the needle began to spin rapidly.

Betty’s Nightmares

Ten days later, Betty began to experience intense dreams.

In one of the dreams, Barney and her were again in the car, stopped at a roadblock and surrounded by what appeared to be men in uniforms. But the men had bald heads, large wraparound eyes, small ears, and almost no noses, and they had grey skin. The men forced Betty and Barney to get out of the car and walk into the woods. When Betty turned to scream at Barney for help, he looked to be in a trance.

The alien men led the couple up a ramp to a disc-shaped metallic craft. Inside, Betty and Barney were separated, and when Betty protested, a figure that she called “the leader” told her to quiet down.

Betty was then taken to a new room, in which the leader and a new alien (she refers to this one as “the examiner”) stood waiting. The examiner shone a light on her, cut away some of her hair and nails, and examined her eyes, ears, mouth, teeth, throat, and hands. He then thrusted a needle into her navel, causing her immediate pain, but the examiner waved a hand in front of her face and the pain went away.

Afterward, the examiner left and Betty was allowed to explore the room with the leader. She looked at books full of an unknown language, and was even told she could keep one. But when an argument between the aliens broke out, she was told the book had to stay, and that her memory had to be wiped.

Both Betty and Barney were then taken off the ship and back to their car, and were told to watch the craft disappear.

And so they did. And when the craft was gone, they resumed driving again, and eventually “woke” up.

If you haven’t already, ready Part 1 of The Alien Abduction of Betty and Barney Hill

See the next post for the stunning conclusion of this tale!

The Alien Abduction of Betty and Barney Hill: Part 1/3

Aliens, abductions, flying sauces – oh my! Few things send goosebumps dancing across skin like a good alien story, which is why this especially delicious one has been broken up into multiple parts. From a telepathic life-sized alien leader to hallucinogenic dreams, it’s definitely a spooky tale.


As if pulled straight from a Stephen King novel, Betty and Barney Hill’s run-in with alien abductors happened under the cover of night, on a nearly deserted highway (US Route 3), just south of Lancaster, New Hampshire.

Betty, in the passenger seat, spotted a bright ball of light moving below the moon, describing it as a falling star moving upward like a plane, except that it moved erratically and was growing larger in size. Fascinated, Betty begged Barney to pull over so she could watch it some more, and the two stopped at a picnic area. Barney feared for bears in the area and retrieved a pistol hidden in the car’s trunk.

Using binoculars, Betty watched the light travel across the moon’s face, and she immediately thought it to be a UFO. Barney, on the other hand, thought it resembled a normal plane — though, as the light began to descend rapidly toward them, he quickly changed his mind.

“This object that was a plane was not a plane,” he later said.

The two immediately ran for the car and drove toward Franconia Notch, a mountainous stretch of road. Moving slowly to keep an eye on the light, the Hills navigated the isolated road, trying to avoid the object as much as possible. But, as they later recalled, the light would bounce in and out of sight, as if playing a game of cat and mouse with them.

About one mile south of Indian Head, the object descended toward their vehicle, forcing Barney to stop in the middle of the highway. (Barney claims the object filled up his whole windshield and resembled a huge pancake.) Holding tight to his pistol, Barney got out of the car and approached the object, and he saw what looked to be about a dozen humanoid figures peering out of the object’s windows.

Then he received a message from one of them. A telepathic message saying, “Stay where you are and keep looking.” At the same time an image flooded his mind: humanoid figures wearing black uniforms and black hats.

Barney panicked. He fled for the car in a hysterical state. “They’re going to capture us!” he shouted at Betty. As the object shifted closer, Barney drove at top speed down the highway, telling Betty to keep an eye on it.

Almost immediately, both Betty and Barney heard beeping and buzzing sounds that seemed to be bouncing off the trunk. The whole car vibrated. Their bodies tingled. Betty described it as feeling a static discharge just before touching metal.

A second series of rhythmic beeping followed, and both Betty and Barney felt a waking-up sensation, like they had returned from sleep or being unconscious. After the initial confusion, the two realized that they had somehow traveled 35 miles on the highway, yet neither could recall the trip or what happened between the first and second set of beeps.

One moment they were fleeing for their lives, and then all was silent. No object of light. No beeping sounds. Nothing.

Just them, the highway, and a deep fear for what they had experienced.

Come back tomorrow to learn more about this alien abduction.

World’s Largest Orb Webs: Darwin’s Bark Spider

Scared of fake webbing? Let’s take that fear up a notch.


Down in Madagascar, there exists a spider capable of building orb webs ranging in size from 900 to 28,000 square centimeters. Moreover, this spider’s web has anchor lines reaching up to 82 25 metres. Which really is made all the more ridiculous by the fact that this specific spider has never grown larger than two centimeters.

So what is it?

It’s a Darwin’s bark spider, and it’s a whole bunch of crazy.

3345_Bark_Spider_Exo

Kevlar Webbing

The silk of a Darwin’s bark spider is the toughest biological material ever studied within a lab, and it’s said to be ten times tougher than a similarly-sized piece of Kevlar. Crazier still, this spider’s silk is twice as tough as any other known spider silk.

So not only does this little thing weave massive webs but it’s capable of ensnaring almost anything within those behemoth webs. It’s seriously the stuff of nightmares.

But wait, there’s more!

Darwin’s bark spider is capable of spinning both the world’s longest spanning webs ever observed and the largest orb webs. (The largest web recorded was an area of 2.8 metres.)

So let’s go down the checklist one more time:

  • Toughest web silk in the world? Check.
  • Longest spans of web in the world? Check.
  • Largest area coverage of webs? Check.

Darwin’s bark spider is a monster.

Web Locations

Even more unique to this spider — as if it needed more uniqueness, right? — is the location in which it places its webs. According to Professor Ingi Agnarsson, director of the Museum of Zoology at the University of Puerto Rico, the spider builds “their web with the orb suspended directly above a river or the water body of a lake, a habitat that no other spider can use.”

This gives the spider a secluded hunting ground without any competition, and its webs have been known to hold up to 32 mayflies at a time.

As for how a little spider can build such huge web constructions, it begins with letting loose strands onto a breeze and letting them be carried across bodies of water. This establishes bridge lines. (It’s important to note that the spider do not explore an area before making a web. They just wing it and go.) Then the spiders get a-building.

But really, words don’t do justice to the spider’s webs. Let’s take a moment to see some shots:

Bark_Spider_2011

Caerostris_darwini_web

Caerostris_darwini_web_span

Imagine running into those webs! Jeez, it gives me goosebumps. If they’re strong enough to be compared to Kevlar, I’m sure they can slow down a grown person. And then you’re covered in spiders and mayflies.

What a nightmare.

The Ghost Legend of the S.S. Ourang Medan

Titanic objects sometimes disappear, that’s the truth. And sometimes, as with the case of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the object’s absence becomes such a point of fascination that it transcends reality, to become something of legend.

What really happened to the plane? Where is it? Why is it that even now, in the Internet era, such objects can still disappear?

OurangMedanAnswers remain elusive, yet the fact remains, titanic objects disappear. Take for another example the tale spinning wildly around the S.S. Ourang Medan, a Dutch cargo ship that shipwrecked in Indonesia after every member of the crew suspiciously died. (Which would make such a sweet story for a ghost ship Halloween costume!)

Here’s the story:

In June 1947, while navigating the Strait of Malacca, two American vessels, City of Baltimore and Silver Star, received a Morse code distress message from the Ourang Medan. The message said, “All officers including captain are dead lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead.” The message was followed by indecipherable Morse code, and then a final message of “I die.”

Silence followed. No more messages were received.

Immediately the Silver Star sought out the distressed ship, finding it undamaged floating on open waters. Inside, corpses (including a deceased dog) were littered throughout the ship, all posed in terrified positions, arms outstretched toward the sky as if reaching for something. Worse still, the ship and corpses showed no signs of struggle or fight. So what happened?

Well, the answer remains unknown. Soon after boarding the ship, rescuers fled. A fire broke out in the ship’s cargo hold and eventually caused the ship to explode and sink. Whatever happened remains mystery.

But there are a few theories:

1) Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Vincent Gaddis, in the novel Invisible Horizons, puts forth a theory that an undetectable fire or malfunctioning boiler system might have poisoned the crew with excess carbon monoxide. That same fire or boiler malfunction may have even been the fire that caused the ship to explode and sink. A worthy theory, but there are others.

invisible horizons

2) Unsecured Hazardous Material – Details about the Ourang Medan’s construction or history are non-existent. Moreover, searches for an official registration or accident investigation record have proved unsuccessful. For these reasons – and others – Roy Bainton, in the article A Cargo of Death, argues that the ship may have been smuggling illegal substances or wartime nerve agents. He believes that sea water leaked into the cargo hold, reacted with the hazardous material, released asphyxiating or poisonous fumes, and thus killed the crew. And maybe there was some nitroglycerin or something in there for the final explosion. Who knows.

3) Paranormal Phenomena – Here’s the creepiest theory of all: some argue that the Ourang Medan came under paranormal of extraterrestrial attack, citing the terrified positions of the dead and how the arms were reaching toward the sky. Maybe something was up there worthy of being terrified of? Rumors claim that some of the deceased were even pointing upward.

It’s hard to say for certain what caused the death of an entire ship, but it’s clear that some things in the world will forever remain a mystery, even with all of this advanced technology.

But really, isn’t life a little sweeter with some morbid mystery in it?

Non-Fiction Horror of the Month – A Visit (Part 2 of 2)

A Visit – Part 2 of 2

To read Part One Click here

When I got there my brother was parked up outside. We both went to the back of the house (I was still on the phone with my sister). The first floor of the house was lit solely by the TV in the living room. As we approached the patio door we saw that a man was sitting on the couch facing us. We were frozen solid and my sister noticed that we went quiet and started asking what was wrong and if we could see him.

I told her to stay quiet and that we had it in hand, I then hung up and called the police to explain the situation. The guy hadn’t moved from the couch at all. The TV turned off while we were waiting for the cops, me and my brother majorly freaked out when it happened. We couldn’t see anything downstairs. Then the hallway light turned on, meaning someone was on the stairs.

We opened the patio door and ran up the stairs and caught the guy with his ear to her door. We kicked the shit out of him and got my sister out of the house, he had a knife in his coat pocket.

The cops came maybe 10 minutes later (he could have killed her if he wanted too.) which is fucking outrageous. It turns out the guy was one of our mom’s old boyfriends who had lived with us for a while in the 90’s. He had always been fond of my sister but we had never suspected it to be him, he hadn’t contacted any of us for nearly a decade.

My sister has moved back in with my mom and is undergoing therapy to get over what had happened. Our ‘step dad’ as he liked to call himself, was given three years in prison. We are doing are best to cut all ties with the man.

When Evil Dead Meets Army of Darkness

Could it be? Could Sam Raimi soon release an Army of Darkness 2? And better still, is there a possibility of seeing the Evil Dead reboot cross into the Army of Darkness universe? (And better better still, would this mean new Evil Dead movie costumes?)

The answer to two of the three above questions is a resounding yes. (Costumes will come later.) And the post-credits scene from the recent Evil Dead was the first hint to future developments:

During the 2013 Wizard World Nashville Comic Con, Bruce Campbell spoke on the subject of returning as Ash for Army of Darkness 2:

The last one was 22 years ago. I just haven’t been racing to do it. Sam Raimi is just a little bit busy making the biggest movies in Hollywood. I use to be busy. Now I’m not. That’s why I’m here.

Ash would have to stop occasionally from chasing some deadite to catch his breath. Maybe we could do that, I guess. That would be exciting. Fight in a walker. That would be all right. Hit them with my cane. Fake them out, have a fake heart attack, distract a zombie. I like it [Seriously] All right, sir, the answer is yes.

Earlier that same year, Fede Alvarez, director behind the Evil Dead reboot, announced at WonderCon that he’d like to make an Evil Dead sequel while Raimi finishes up the Army of Darkness 2 script. Then, he added, both worlds would come together for a seventh (and final) film.

But who cares, right? All of this discussion took place a year ago. What’s the recent development? Where’s the details? The goods, the guts, the release date?

Here’s what Alvarez said on May 5 of this year:

Sam, Bruce and Rob Tapert and I are good friends and we talk to one another often and we’re always coming up with new ideas and projects. Sam is teasing Army of Darkness 2, which he is working on the script with his brother, but at the same time Evil Dead 2 is something we definitely want to do at some point. But part of the reason I think the last one was successful is because Sam took his time to find the right team of people to do it. We took the time to find the right script and all of that. If you had Evil Dead 2 coming out the following year, its just for the market, not because you’ve found the right idea. It takes time to find the right idea and that’s what we’re doing. Its always in the background and always in our heads. And every time I talk with Sam, we’re bouncing around ideas to find what would be the perfect sequel.

So obviously, the movie has yet to still receive a definitive release date – never mind a cast list – but the possibility remains open. Clearly both Raimi and Alvarez want to continue their respective creations, while also finding a way to tie the two story-lines into a single creation.

They just have to find the perfect way to do it.

Non-Fiction Horror Story of the Month – A Visit (part 1 of 2)

Few things are more frightening than the thought of someone breaking into your house late at night. Are they there to harm or steal? Are they violent or docile? The primal flight or fight adrenaline courses through your veins and your nerves panic at every sound. It’s a situation no one wants to experience, though some have gone through the ordeal and lived to tell the tale. This months non-fiction story is exactly that tale.

Disclaimer: We do not claim ownership over the following story. It was either sent to us or found through a public source. And as far as we know, it’s 100% factual.

halloween image

A Visit

 

Okay, so this whole thing began maybe 2 months ago. At an Aunts party my sister comes up to me and says that she thinks someone has been coming into her house in the middle of the night. My sister has always been easily scared, so at first I was skeptical.

I asked her how she knew someone had been in the house, whether she had actually seen anyone etc. She told me she hadn’t seen anyone, but she said she knows for a fact someone was in her house. She then went on to explain that she has a sky box downstairs that streams to her bedroom television. The first time it happened she said she heard the TV was being used, so she turned on her TV and someone was flicking through the channels.

I still didn’t really buy what she was saying, but she did seem genuinely afraid. She claimed it had been going on for three months on and off. To put her mind at ease, I told her I’d stay at her place for a few nights and wait to see if the guy comes, I took my younger brother along just to be safe.

In all, we stayed at her place for 4 nights. In those four nights, nothing unusual happened; me and my brother were convinced she was going crazy. My brother and I decided we had stayed long enough and told her that we had to go home, she got extremely upset about this.

I reassured her and told her to call the police the next time it happened. She had called the police once before about the guy and they turned up to find no one was in the house. I said she could call me any time she wanted and left for work.

Two days later she called me at 11:30PM and claimed he was downstairs in her house right now. I asked her how she knew and she said he’s walking around the house, she was whispering and crying. I knew she wasn’t making this up, I could tell from her voice. I called my brother and told him to meet me at her house, I was on the phone with her the entire drive over to her place (I live 10 minutes away).

Non-Fiction Fright Story of the Month – A Mother’s Tale

Non-Fiction Fright of the Month

As a counterpart to our fictional display of fright, the following story is, according to the author, a factual event. And while some may roll their eyes or sigh or shrug off the fact that it’s real, give yourself a moment to imagine such a thing having actually happened. Put yourself in the character’s shoes. Experience it. Let it wash over you.

This month’s story, A Mother’s Tale, details a cleaning lady’s close encounter with an anonymous stalker with a passion for taking pictures. As far as this writer knows, the story remains unexplained, leaving us to wonder about why it all happened. Why the photos? Why invite her in to discover them?

Seriously, ready your spine for some shivers, because this one is especially creepy.

A Mother’s Tale

In the mid-80s, my mum was a cleaner in Australia. She would clean houses in suburban areas and would sometimes do houses in rural/wine regions (we lived near both).

She would leave business cards at the local shops and got most of her business this way, and some through referrals and word of mouth.

One day she got a call from a lady who sounded like she was around 60, asking mum to clean her old farmhouse. She made a lot of odd demands and mum would usually meet clients before taking on new business. In this case, the lady did not want to meet mum and said she would leave the keys under the front doormat. Mum agreed mainly because the lady was quite obviously wealthy and was offering to pay mum substantially more than she would reasonably expect.

Mum went to the house on a Monday morning and said she already felt unnerved by the long driveway. The house was essentially in the middle of a very large, and very empty property. She found the keys and started cleaning.

About an hour in to the clean, she hears the back door shut. Mum was told no one would be at the house so she immediately felt unsafe. She stood frozen in the kitchen for what she said felt like 3-4 minutes although she said it could have been much longer. There was no other car on the property.

She wanted to leave immediately but had two rooms left to do, both were bedrooms. She said as time passed and she heard nothing else, she decided that perhaps it was nothing, or perhaps something had fallen and it wasn’t the door after all.

She walked up the hallway and stepped into the bedroom. All over the bed were black and white photos. As mum got closer, she realized the photos were all of her. Some were taken at our family home, and many others were taken at other houses mum would clean. Some pictures were taken through windows or over fences.

She used the house phone to call the police and immediately drive to the end of the driveway. The lady ended up being investigated but continued to claim that it was a break-in. After some time, the police stopped with their searching and we ended up moving to a new town 4 months later.

Every time mum tells me this story I get serious chills. Absolutely a true story too. To the day my mum thinks the lady had something to do with it. But why? And for what purpose?