The Pole, Newcastle

Went to see Newcastle’s newest tourist attraction yesterday – the Pole!

It all started when Newcastle City Council widened the curb before energy provider Ausgrid moved the power pole. While they’ve been trading blame back and forth, the power pole has been left in the middle of the road and, naturally, it’s gone viral and become a bit of a tourist attraction. It’s even in Google Maps!

I’m sure eventually it’ll be fixed but it was fun seeing it first. A different kind of street photography for me! 🙂

Photos © CJ Levinson 2019

The Mystery of the Montauk Monster

Montauk Monster
The Montauk Monster: Creature from the Deep or Something Else?

I had a different post planned today but when I saw this photo I couldn’t let it go. For the last few days I’ve had hundreds of strange searches leading to an old post and they all seem to be looking for a picture of a turtle without its shell. It made me wonder if there was a news story that might be creating interest… and surely enough I found this. I’m guessing it’s what they’re looking for.

Apparently it’s the remains of some kind of animal that washed up on Long Island. It’s been dubbed the Montauk Monster and there’s all kinds of speculation about what it is. Some think it’s the decomposing body of a raccoon or the remains of a turtle without its shell; others think it might be a marketing ploy or even a mutant which had escaped from a nearby government animal-disease research facility.

What strikes me about it, though, is how sad the image is. A poor animal dies and instead of feeling sorry for it there’s this kind of morbid fascination. But I guess that’s to be expected; we’re attracted to the strange and unknown and I’ll admit, I’m as interested as everyone else. Still, I’d like to think we could give it a little more respect.

Personally I don’t think there’s much to most of the theories. If it were a viral marketing ploy, it would have been claimed by now. And I’m sure it’s not a turtle; if a turtle lost its shell you’d be seeing muscle, not skin, and there are scruffs of hair around its neck, which means it’s a mammal, not a reptile. I’d guess it’s probably the remains of a dog, perhaps a bull terrier. The face looks similar and if you take decomposition and bloating into account, most of its body parts are in the right places.

It could be a shaved raccoon except the size makes me doubt it, but I could be wrong. It could also be a fake but either way it’s definitely not a turtle without its shell, as my searchers seem to think! For a while those searches were driving me crazy. I mean, it’s nice when an old post gets discovered, but it takes hours to write my other posts; that one took 5 minutes. Ain’t blogging grand?

Anyway, I thought I’d include a fun quiz to go with the mood. Apparently I’d be a zombie if I were a monster in real life… I can see that. I’m often sleepwalking through life, mainly because I don’t get much sleep! And I love Thriller.

I wonder what kind of monster you are? And any ideas on what this thing is? It’s starting to creep me out.:?


Update: Okay, I have now had 470 searches for “turtle without a shell” in three days! Seriously, guys, take a look at some of my other posts. This one’s a good one… and this one… and this one. 😉

Update: Newsday posted a new photo of it on August 1. Looks even more like a dog to me now. Poor thing.

What’s wrong with my name?

I could use some advice at the moment. Over the last few days I’ve received a couple of strange comments on an old post and I’m not sure what to do about them. The post still gets traffic and the comments have nothing to do with the post, so it’s bugging me. I think anyone who stumbles across the post will be confused and I don’t like posts being hijacked by unrelated comments.

The comments are strange. They’re all from one person who accused me of “stealing” his name. He thinks I shouldn’t call myself CJ on my blog, like I’m ashamed of my full name because I don’t use it… I just don’t get it. CJ is a nickname my parents use; they’re my initials, so how is that stealing someone’s name? And there are millions of other CJs, have I stolen their names too?

I answered the comments but to be honest they’re insulting and I want to delete them. The reason I haven’t yet is because I don’t want it to seem like censorship and as I’m still not getting WP’s emails, I wasn’t sure if I should keep the comments as a record. So I was wondering what you think? Should I move them to another post or just delete them? What do you do with strange comments?

What I still don’t understand is why it’s such a problem. Is he not used to blogs, so the idea of using a nickname seems strange? Or am I missing something? I use CJ to differentiate between my writing and my offline life and it’s something a lot of writers do for varying reasons; JK Rowling, JG Ballard, TA Barron, PD James, SE Hinton… I could name another dozen off the top of my head.

I know some people don’t like pen names, so maybe that’s part of it. Writers are often criticised for using them (particularly to appeal to more readers) but there are legitimate reasons for using one. Andy McNab can’t use his real name for security reasons and many writers use a pseudonym to write in a different style, like Ruth Rendell as Barbara Vine. As a writer I’ve always liked the idea of a pen name. When I first started writing I wrote under different names and I like the idea of writing under a female pseudonym. I might try it one day.

Most writers use pen names for the same reason we do as bloggers; for some anonymity and to let their ideas speak for them, rather than their identity. I hate it when people try to out them, like they’re lying because they want to write under another name. But I suppose it’s natural for readers to be curious.

I wonder how you feel about pseudonyms? Does a pseudonym put you off reading a book? If you didn’t know it was a pseudonym, would you prefer to know? Personally it doesn’t bother me; I’d rather let the book stand on its own, and that’s the same for a blog… but then I never imagined that calling myself CJ would be such a big deal! Hm, maybe Cee-Jay would be better? 😉