Thursday, August 31, 2006

New Story by J. Eldritch Kidd - Exclusive release to our blog!!!!

The Strange Small House In The Woods

(c) 2006, by J. Eldritch Kidd

(with no apologies at all to HPL)

My friend Gerda claims, these days, that she simply has no time to indulge those alarmingly extended nature-rambles she used to take whenever weather would come even close to permitting. She hasn’t abandoned her love of nature’s settings, she says; she finds it too time-consuming and inconvenient to simply abandon responsibility and spend a few days backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, or even walking easily but informally through her neighborhood park But the friends she used to hike with, or swim with, say that she is not being exactly truthful; that something not expected in her outdoor-lover’s experience changed her attitude towards the forest, and that now she prefers to indulge in her outdoorsmanship strictly within sight of concrete and electric pylons. What’s more, the Bentons say, she’s no longer comfortable playing with their Alsatians as she used to be–and the dogs act as if they miss their visitor’s playful companionship.

I finally asked her what the Bentons were hinting at–after all, we were all old hiking friends–and she tried to brush me off with the same excuses about not having time. But when I pointed out that if she had time to visit the Bentons, she obviously had time to play with their dogs as she used to, she became irritated and defensive, first muttering something about allergies–she’s never had allergies to animal hair of any kind–and then flaring into a temper: “I don’t have to account to you, Carter, about anything–and if I just don’t like dogs any more, that’s my business and not anyone else’s!” Then she scared me even worse by bursting into hysterical tears. I got her calmed down, she apologized, blamed job stress, blamed worry over the extra cost that her last trip to Europe had posed, blamed the time of month, blamed everything but the CIA, and changed the subject. And for weeks I couldn’t get a polite greeting, or even a reply to phone messages left on her machine, from Gerda. And then, out of the blue, came her phone call–inviting me, and the Bentons, to dinner at her place–dinner and drinks, she said, because she felt that wine would be too weak for what she wanted to accomplish. When we arrived, she only said “I hope you brought something really strong. I need some Dutch courage bad for this.”

Since I had taken her hint and brought two bottles of Cuervo Gold, and a small basket of limes, she was greatly relieved and amused, and we ate a pleasant if commonplace meal. The small talk at table was truly small, mostly about our respective work. Since Jack Benton is something of a gossip as well as an op-ed columnist, he managed to keep us amused with unprintable tidbits of scandal that would not, I suppose, raise a single eyebrow in these post-Monica days, but which for the time were such as to be devastating to certain national political eminences grises. Carla Benton’s veterinary clinic provided no such delicious gossip, but some amusing anecdotes about Helen Hokinson-style spinsters and their costive Shi Tzus added to the mix; and by the time we had cut the limes and debated whether or not to discard the worm, we were relaxed and comfortable. By the time we had all made fools of ourselves trying to juggle the saltshaker and the lime, Gerda seemed more herself than she had seemed for some months, actually since she had returned from Germany. She suddenly asked for attention:
“I’m going to start now, because I feel safer now with you three than with anyone else. I know I’ve seemed different since I got back from Germany; well, I have been–I am different.

“I know that you, Carla, have been offended by it–by my being rude to King and Wonderdog, I mean–and I’m sorry; and Carter, I’m really sorry I blew up at you that time, but it was just too close–too soon. I don’t go hiking anymore because–because I’m scared of the woods now. And Jack, don’t you dare write anything down. Carla, I hate to admit it, but I’m afraid of your dogs too.

“I can’t get over it. I’ve gone out to the Berkshires on weekends, but I just can’t make myself go on the trials; I’ve stopped off at the shelter to look at the rescue animals, but I can’t be around big dogs without remembering that little house. I don’t like it–and I wasn’t ever like this before that trip.

“I had had no trouble “wandervoegling” around all that week; I found all sorts of places to stay and things to look at all along the road: lovely little footpaths up hills where no motor vehicles ever went, springs that jumped out of the sides of road-banks, nice people who offered me lunch or beer or water. And of course it was the Schwarzwald, the Black Forest, with all those associations. When I found that little trail up into the thickest of the forest, I just had to go hunt for dwarves or something. “The trail was easy to see, but hard to negotiate; the evergreens had big thick branches close to the ground, and they whipped back at you as you pushed through. It was uphill, but not terribly steep. But the trees got thicker, and the light seemed to have a harder time getting through the needles; it was perfectly easy to see why they called the forest “Black.” It was dark in there, even at mid-afternoon. And I started to get a little nervous–yes, I had food with me, and my bedroll and stuff, but I wasn’t sure exactly how long I’d been climbing or how long it would take to get back to the road, and it was getting darker and darker. But then I turned a little bend and saw it.

“It was just a little house, like so many I’d seen on the road, probably just two rooms if that many, and it didn’t look as if anyone lived there. There was high grass all around it, the roof was a mass of shed pine needles that looked years old, there was no smoke coming out of the chimney, there was no fire-pit in the back garden, and the door and one window were open. There wasn’t any wind, so they weren’t banging or creaking; but it looked as if they could if a wind ever came up.

“Okay, so I got curious. I decided to check it out. I know enough to shout “Hello The House” coming up to a gate or a walk, but nobody answered–and no dogs came out from under the doorstep. So I figured on risking a look inside–open door, right? No answer? Just a quick peek? “As I started inside, I noticed some kind of cloth thing lying right next to the step, but I didn’t look at it very closely–not then, anyway. I was more anxious to see what was inside–I wish I hadn’t been.

“What was inside must have been a fairly nice little cottage interior once–little table, two chairs, plates in racks on the wall. One room, as I thought; a bedstead in one corner under a rear window high up in the wall, an old-looking rocker in another corner, a brick oven with a burner on the tip of the firebox. But I had the sensation of being waited for by something. I felt apprehensive, much more so than I could account for,. Yes, I was trespassing, if anyone lived there; but by the dust, that didn’t seem likely. But–wasn’t that something–someone–in the bed?

“It had been. It must have been an old woman. She must have died here, all alone, I thought. Her nightgown and robe were missing, and her cap had fallen off what was left of her head, and the bones looked old. Things must have come in through the door afterward, and done what scavenging things do. Poor old thing. Probably had to live way off here because she was old and alone, the kind of person people would just assume was a witch. Probably better than getting the finger-sign against the Evil Eye every time she showed her face. “But I still had that feeling that I was being waited for. Something was there waiting for me. I got spooked badly, and started looking around–and when I looked back at the bed, there was something more in it besides the old bones.

“It wasn’t easy to see. It was–it was big–it was misty and grey–it seemed to be different sizes from one moment to the next–I didn’t see it, exactly; I had a strong impression of it. At one time it was just a big, hungry, mist, and the next second it seemed to have more of a dog-like outline. I got the impression of large, very large, brown eyes, and–don’t laugh–equally large doglike teeth.

“All of a sudden I just wanted out of there. I don’t remember moving or running; I just remember finding myself on that doorstep and tripping over that pile of cloth. That was when I got a close look at it. And that was when I suddenly decided I didn’t like the woods–or your Alsatians–any more. I don’t remember how I got back to the road; the innkeeper where I woke up the next morning said I came in scratched up and hysterical, calling for any kind of schnapps he had.” “Wow!” said Jack. “No wonder you didn’t want me taking notes. But why do you say you took a dislike to the woods after you got out of the cabin? The ghost, or whatever it was, with great big eyes and great big teeth, must have scared you enough then. What was it about the old rags. . .?”

“They weren’t rags,” Gerda said quietly–almost too quietly. “It was another–former person. A little one. The cloth was clothing–a little dress, like the peasant children wear. And something else.”

She paused interminably. Her eyes seemed to reflect not so much a memory as a sense of rejection, denial, disbelief. Finally she took one more shot of tequila and said, with an effort, “The something else–it was a wrap, an outside garment. A little cape with a hood. The little arm bones were still in the sleeve-slits. It was faded mostly, but there were spots where you could still see what color it must have been when it was new. It was probably. . . red . . .”

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Yuggoth - Breaking News

Lovecraft lived in an era where the 9th planet was hotly debated. Was there a ninth planet? Where was it? In 1930, he delighted to hear that Yuggoth was Pluto. It would take several more generations to find even more solar system objects, and then we realized how many of these there were. Poor Pluto - was it or wsn't it a planet?

Now this:

Much-maligned Pluto would remain a planet - and its largest moon plus two other heavenly bodies would join Earth's neighborhood - under a draft resolution to be formally presented Wednesday to the International Astronomical Union, the arbiter of what is and isn't a planet.

"Yes, Virginia, Pluto is a planet," quipped Richard Binzel, a professor of planetary science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The proposal could change, however: Binzel and the other nearly 2,500 astronomers from 75 nations meeting in Prague to hammer out a universal definition of a planet will hold two brainstorming sessions before they vote on the resolution next week. But the draft comes from the IAU's executive committee, which only submits recommendations likely to get two-thirds approval from the group.

Besides reaffirming the status of puny Pluto - whose detractors insist it shouldn't be a planet at all - the new lineup would include 2003 UB313, the farthest-known object in the solar system and nicknamed Xena; Pluto's largest moon, Charon; and the asteroid Ceres, which was a planet in the 1800s before it got demoted.

The panel also proposed a new category of planets called "plutons," referring to Pluto-like objects that reside in the Kuiper Belt, a mysterious, disc-shaped zone beyond Neptune containing thousands of comets and planetary objects. Pluto itself and two of the potential newcomers - Charon and 2003 UB313 - would be plutons.

Astronomers also were being asked to get rid of the term "minor planets," which long has been used to collectively describe asteroids, comets and other non-planetary objects. Instead, those would become collectively known as "small solar system bodies."

If the resolution is approved, the 12 planets in our solar system listed in order of their proximity to the sun would be Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Charon, and the provisionally named 2003 UB313. Its discoverer, Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology, nicknamed it Xena after the warrior princess of TV fame, but it likely would be rechristened something else later, the panel said.

The galactic shift would force publishers to update encyclopedias and school textbooks, and elementary school teachers to rejigger the planet mobiles hanging from classroom ceilings. Far outside the realm of science, astrologers accustomed to making predictions based on the classic nine might have to tweak their formulas.

Even if the list of planets is officially lengthened when astronomers vote on Aug. 24, it's not likely to stay that way for long: The IAU has a "watchlist" of at least a dozen other potential candidates that could become planets once more is known about their sizes and orbits.

"The solar system is a middle-aged star, and like all middle-aged things, its waistline is expanding," said Jack Horkheimer, director of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium in the United States and host of Public Broadcasting's Stargazer television show.

Opponents of Pluto, which was named a planet in 1930, still might spoil for a fight. Earth's moon is larger; so is 2003 UB313 (Xena), about 70 miles wider.

But the IAU said Pluto meets its proposed new definition of a planet: any round object larger than 800 kilometers (nearly 500 miles) in diameter that orbits the sun and has a mass roughly one-12,000th that of Earth. Moons and asteroids will make the grade if they meet those basic tests.

Roundness is key, experts said, because it indicates an object has enough self-gravity to pull itself into a spherical shape. Yet Earth's moon wouldn't qualify because the two bodies' common center of gravity lies below the surface of the Earth.

"People were probably wondering: If they take away Pluto, is Rhode Island next?" Binzel quipped. "There are as many opinions about Pluto as there are astronomers. But Pluto has gravity on its side. By the physics of our proposed definition, Pluto makes it by a long shot."

IAU President Ronald D. Ekers said the draft definition, two years in the making, was an attempt to reach a cosmic consensus and end decades of quarreling. "We don't want an American version, a European version and a Japanese version" of what constitutes a planet, he said.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at New York's American Museum of Natural History - miscast as a "Pluto-hater," he contends, merely because Pluto was excluded from a solar system exhibit - said the new guidelines would clear up the fuzzier aspects of the Milky Way.

"For the first time since ancient Greece, we have an unambiguous definition," he said. "Now, when an object is debated as a possible planet, the answer can be swift and clear."

Sunday, August 13, 2006

"The sign of the goat" and "the three words" in Charles Dexter Ward

This is speculative, but most of us know that Lovecraft enjoyed cryptography. He also studied qabbalism (kabbalah). I think he had some insights into Masonry, and as early as "The Alchemist" he alludes to the Knights Templar. In some respects, the demon magician in that story is similar to Jacques deMoley.

In any event, the sign of the goat is relatively simple. It is Baphomet. In HPL's day, it might have been fairly obscure, though. The baphomet in it's goat skull, triangular shape is reminiscent of the pentacle (pentagram).

I think the similarity of Shubniggurath to the Shugborough monument at Staffordshire in Lichfield, England is no coincidence.

It was first created in the 1760s with rRumours that the secret letters on the Shugborough monument were hiding a set of instructions on how to find the Holy Grail.

The monument related to the Merovingians and the Masonic Society through the ancient African Dogon religion. How could HPL have failed to delight in the similarity to "Dagon"? HPL was always the punster.

***

The three words might have referred to the father, son and holy ghost - but that's highly unlikely. More likely are the words: shalal-shalom-abai. This means many things to many people, but its simplest rendering is its literal: the father shall restore the plunder.

Oh yes, we have lots of witchcraft going on in Charles Dexter Ward. HPL had done his homework. This one was written for his pals, not his fans. Even they would have scratched their heads, I think, at some of the more obscure things. Many of the arcana were keen to only Rhode Island, so even his studious colleagues might not have known of them.

The "Black Prince" allusion in The Case of Charles Dexter ward

Once, for example, an alternately raging and sullen figure was questioned in French about the Black Prince's massacre at Limoges in 1370, as if there were some hidden reason which he ought to know. Curwen asked the prisoner - if prisoner it were - whether the order to slay was given because of the Sign of the Goat found on the altar in the ancient Roman crypt beneath the Cathedral, or whether the Dark Man of the Haute Vienne had spoken the Three Words. Failing to obtain replies, the inquisitor had seemingly resorted to extreme means; for there was a terrific shriek followed by silence and muttering and a bumping sound.

^
HPL extracted the most obscure facts and plunked them down in his narratives. I daresay not 1 of 1000 would know where the "Haute-Vienne" province could be located or who the Dark Prince was - in Lovecraft's day or ours.

Chrispy loves history and it took me quite a bit to locate this obscuritum.

First, The Hundred Years War was a religio-political battle between England and France. From the tenth century, the Limousin province, later known as the Haute-Vienne section, was divided feudally. The north was cut off and became the County of Marche whiile the remainder became Poitou, Auvergne, Limoges, Comborn, Turenne, Ventadour, and Angoumois.

From 866 they had been vassals of the Duke of Aquitaine (i.e.. Elanor of Aquitaine) and this became a dowry to Louis VII (The Young) in 1137. Then, when that marriage was annulled, she became bride to Henry Plantagenet which embattled the Capetians and Plantagenets.

This is important in Lovecraftiana, because I am convinced this is the very political backdrop of "The Alchemist" which HPL penned decades earlier. That story and this snippet, is all about Lovecraft's interest in the Capets and that may have derived from Susan's interest in French literature.

In 1214 the area fell, but Henry III recovered some rights in the Paris Treaty of 1259. It became a battlefield in the Hundred-Years War (1337-1453), and subsequently overrun by the British at the Battle of Poitiers. The obtained the land in the Treaty of Bretigny of 1360 and the French retook it in the battle of 137-1374.

In its pre-Roman days it was a Gallic tribal enclave of the Lemovices. They were powerful and had large civic centers at places (Acitodunum=Ahun, Excingidiacum=Yssandon, and Uxellum=Ussel).

HPL would have read Julius Caesar's De Bello Gallico (Gallic Wars) and that mentions this tribe as the first of the Vercingetorix to enter against him at the "alliance of 52 BCE". Ten thousand troops surged to the relief at the Seige of Alesia and were routed by the Romans. Sedulius their general was slain.

The tribe's name means "they who fight with the elm", an elm spear was their trademark. [limo=elm, wikelo=fight].

I think this is a tip of the hat to "Two-Gun Bob's" memory and the Celtic barbarians he and HPL often disagreed on.

Later, the Romans enjoyed generations of civilization there, and many catacombs were created.

Anyway, In 1370, Edward (the Black Prince) burned the city and massacred its inhabitants. More on that in a bit.

The famous Limoges enamel industry was fully developed by the 13th cent. and culminated in the work of LĂ©onard (of) Limousin, but it declined when Limoges was once more devastated in the Wars of Religion.

Turgot, who was intendant from 1761 to 1764, brought back prosperity by introducing (1771) the china manufactures. Limoges has a cathedral (chiefly 13th-16th cent.), a notable ceramics museum, and an art gallery containing many works by Renoir, who was born there. Limoges University is notable.

Back to the Black Prince, Edward's birth was exciting to the British people as confirmation of the line of the Planetgenet. In his late career, despite being a gambler and a dandy-like clotheshorse, he was also quite brutal.

The Black Prince is associated with at least two major allegations of atrocities in war: commanding the slaughter of some 3,000 civilian inhabitants, including women and children, of Limoges in 1370 after a siege provoked by the bishop of Limoges inviting the French to retake the city; and taking part in the raid of Caen during the Normandy Chevauchee of 1346 during which 2,500 civilians were slaughtered.

We know him as the Black Prince due to history's view. The Chronicles of Froissart paint him as a butcher, but contemporary records fail to support. Froissart's portrait of the massacre.

Lovecraft's allusion to the "dark man" as a synonym of the Black Prince is anachronistic. The 'dark man" was a satanically possessed medium such as were consorts with witches in Salem. It has nothing whatsoever to do with racial characteristics.

As to the "sign of the goat" and "the three words", that will have to wait another blog entry in the future.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The real Yuggoth

As most of you know, HPL wrote a letter to a science publication advocating that a ninth planet existed. In his poetry he called this Yuggoth. He rwroote one of his last novels to mention Pluto he was so excited about the discovery.

In his era, amateurs could easily make these discoveries with self-education and dedication. HPL desperately wanted to be an astronomer, and no doubt saw a little Tumbaugh in his dreams.

It's great that they both have a wonderful legacy. If you know a child who dreams, please encourage them today!!

***
Kansas farm boy who discovered Pluto celebrated as American folk hero, By Matt Stearns
(c) McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - In articles about his life, they always called Clyde Tombaugh "a Kansas farm boy," as if to draw sharp contrast with the cosmic magnitude of his signature achievement.
Discovering a planet, after all, is a rare distinction, and Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930, is the only American to discover one of the nine named planets in our solar system.
His story sounds too all-American storybook to be true, as though Frank Capra and Horatio Alger somehow conspired to come up with the unlikely tale.

When he discovered Pluto, Tombaugh lacked a college education, having taught himself the fundamentals of astronomy on the family farm north of Burdett, Kan.
Endless hours in the fields imbued Tombaugh with a love of the stars. The sky just looks bigger, more intense out there with nothing to block it, said Tombaugh's daughter, Annette Tombaugh-Sitze.

He got his start with a telescope from the Sears-Roebuck catalog at about age 12. Soon, he wanted more. Money was scarce, so Tombaugh took to making his own high-powered telescopes, grinding glass for them in a root cellar that provided perfect temperatures for doing such delicate work.

"Many a time I have got up, long after midnight, and there he would be, out with his telescope, even after a long, hard day's work plowing or in harvest," Tombaugh's mother told The Kansas City Star after her son's discovery. "I would call to him to come in and go to bed. ... But he'd be out there till daylight came and the stars faded out."

Tombaugh used his homemade telescopes to map planetary movements. He sent his best work to Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., whose search for a new planet fired his imagination. A job offer followed. Tombaugh stayed on the farm long enough to earn money to buy a one-way train ticket to Flagstaff.

He was 24 at the time.

One day there it was, a pinprick of light on photos of the sky taken with a high-powered telescope on consecutive nights.

Something no one had seen before.

"There are 15 million stars in the sky as bright or brighter than Pluto, 15 million," Tombaugh told National Public Radio in 1995, two years before his death at age 90. "I had to pick one image out of the 15 million. That's like looking for a needle in a haystack, and that's what most people aren't willing to do. It's brutal.

"But I knew that if I didn't do this job they'd send me back home. And this is much better than pitching hay."

The discovery made Tombaugh a celebrity and won him a scholarship to the University of Kansas. He worked summers on the family farm while studying astronomy, then spent decades gazing at the stars, teaching his passion and making a series of important, if less celebrated, scientific contributions.

In Burdett, population about 250, they use the Tombaugh connection even today to teach kids to dream big, that "they can do something worldwide if they want," said Brenda Beecher, a former science teacher there.

Tombaugh-Sitze said questions about whether Pluto merited the status of a planet always bothered her father. But she's sure he's having the last laugh: His ashes are aboard a research spaceship hurtling toward a 2015 encounter with Pluto, his majestic discovery, whatever it is.
"Dad's on a great adventure," she said.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Breaking News: For Sale, Autograph PostCard

Seen on ebay...






















"A fantastic find for the Lovecraft fan - your chance to own an original linen postcard view of the New Providence Cou8nty Court House in Providence, Rhode Island. This postcard handwritten by the master of horror, second only to Edgar Allen Poe. Postmarked August 4 7 AM from Buttonwoods, R.I. and addressed to personal friend Howard Wandrei. The master address his friend, Hail, Spawner of Daemons! Talks of enjoying ICE CREAM at the famous hangout of the master, Warfield's and mentions the addressee's brother Donald Wandrei - another famous horror writer published by Arkham House. Wandrei started writing in 1926 and his writing career took off around 1932. He was active in pulp magazines until the late 1930s. He was a member of the H.P. Lovecraft circle, corresponded with Lovecraft and other members of the circle (Frank Belknap Long, Clark Ashton Smith, etc). He contributed two stories to the Cthulhu Mythos: "The Fire Vampires" (1933) and "The Tree-Men of M'Bwa" (1933). Wandrei and August Derleth later co-founded the publishing house Arkham House to keep Lovecraft's legacy alive. After World War II he continued writing speculative fiction stories, although at a greatly reduced rate. Awards World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement (1984) The message goes on to speak of being by the shore at Buttonwoods. The bonus is that there is also a handwritten note in blue ink with Greetings out of the dark from the unknown but not malefic James F. Norton. What a great item for your collection or exhibition. Cthulhu would be proud. Check or money order in US funds only. s/h costs will be the actual costs once calculated for insurance, postage. No handling fee."

Octopus Update














The Courier-Journal

An octopus hooked in the Ohio River by a fisherman had been put there by a film student who bought it at a seafood store and videotaped the creature.

Zachary Treitz, 21, of Crescent Hill in Louisville, said he bought the octopus -- dead and frozen -- for $26 and put it in the river after shooting the video Sunday for a film project.

Treitz, a film major at Boston University, contacted The Courier-Journal late Wednesday to say he was responsible for putting the octopus into the river.

The 6-foot-wide octopus created a sensation when David Stepp, 20, of Jeffersonville, Ind., reeled it in Monday night while angling for catfish below the dam at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

Indiana conservation officers speculated that someone had kept it as a pet and then released it in the river. Octopuses live in salt water and can't survive for long in fresh water.

Treitz bought the octopus from the Seafood Connection in St. Matthews and considered eating it after using it in the film. But it began to give off a fishy odor, he said, so he and three filmmaking friends put it in the Ohio below the dam.

They also filmed its launch, showing how it slipped off a boulder into the water. They watched as it swirled in the river's eddies and disappeared from view.

"I thought it might just float down the river to Paducah, or become fish food," Treitz said.

Treitz said the publicity about the octopus was surprising and disconcerting. He said he came forward in part because he wanted people to know that the octopus was never alive in his possession.

"It was very dead by the time we threw it in," he said.

He said it seemed like a harmless act because "there's so much more harmful things" floating in the river.

At the Seafood Connection, the story produced curiosity among customers.

At least 20 called or dropped by, asking where they could get an octopus -- and how to prepare it, said owner Brendan Mullaney.

Reporter Grace Schneider can be reached at (812) 949-4040.


See the movie (as long as it is on-line) here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cthulu-like Octopus In Ohio River?

**

"Octopus pulled from Ohio River"

(c)By Grace Schneider
gschneider@courier-journal.com
The Courier-Journal


David Stepp was fishing for catfish with friends on the Ohio River Monday night when he reeled in a bizarre catch — an octopus.

It was dead, but only recently.

Recognizing that nobody would ever believe he had actually caught the creature, the 20-year-old Jeffersonville man loaded it into the trunk of his car and showed it minutes later to a Clarksville police officer and Bill Putt, a park ranger at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

Putt snapped photos, and Stepp and his surprised companions posed with the purplish-brown animal, which measured six feet from the tip of one tentacle to the other.

It was three and half feet tall when dangled like mop above the ground.

“It was really pretty big,” said Putt, who later deposited the octopus in a park freezer, figuring a marine biologist might want to examine it.

Although he’s seen more than his share of exotic animals turn up at the Southern Indiana park across from downtown Louisville, Putt said he was extremely skeptical when a fellow angler said that someone had caught an octopus below the dam.

“I thought, ‘This guy’s got to be drunk,’ ” Putt said. But “we looked at it and that’s what it was.”

The octopus might take the prize for weird discoveries at the falls, where park crews and visitors have found crocodiles and piranha-like tropical fish over the years — animals probably kept as pets and released by owners into the river and onto river banks.

Octopods are highly intelligent as invertebrates go, according to an article on the National Wildlife Foundation’s Web site.

They are sometimes kept as pets and surprise their owners by escaping from seemingly secure tanks “due to their intelligence and problem-solving skills,” the entry said.

Because they live in salt water oceans, they don’t survive long in fresh water such as the Ohio River, Putt said.

It’s not illegal to own the animals, but releasing it into the wild is, said Mark Farmer, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

“Who’s to say somebody didn’t toss it into the river?” Farmer said. “I found out a long time ago, you never know what’s going to turn up.”

Reporter Grace Schneider can be reached at (812) 949-4040.

** Today, blogger is not taking embedded pix. If the pic disappears, I will come back later and embed it. For right now, it is an img src.

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