Thursday, December 26, 2013

Strange Night Shots at Boulder City Pet Cemetery

This is the first photo, unedited.
I am not a paranormal investigator. I have no interest in paranormal investigating. I enjoy these types of TV shows as much as anyone else, but that’s about it. I partake of paranormal shows as entertainment. It isn’t that I don’t believe in the supernatural at all, I simply take these types of things with a grain of salt.

Earlier this month I wrote an article on about the Boulder City Pet Cemetery and got some great pictures in the late afternoon. I decided to return to the pet cemetery at night to see if I could get some good nighttime photos. The setting is perfect; rustic old graves in the middle of the desert make for a very dark, gothic subject. Just the type of pictures I love to take.

I took a friend with me on this outing. At the time it was mainly for company, but looking back I am glad I was not alone. I did not feel anything macabre at the cemetery during the day. Upon visiting after dark, my main concern was coyotes, or even mountain lions, that could easily be in the area.

First photo, Color enhanced to show detail.
To be honest, the only time during the night that I felt at all uneasy was while taking these two photos. While setting up my tripod, both my friend and I heard something moving in the distance. It was windy and we thought we had debunked the noise as being a branch from a nearby bush hitting a short metal fence someone erected around their pet’s grave.  In retrospect, the sound was coming from the direction that the eyes appear to be coming from.

I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary until a few days later when I finally found time to sit down and edit the photos. That’s when I noticed what looked like a green face with glowing eyes behind the grave marker. Then I noticed that there were three sets of eyes in the second photo taken of the grave marker.

My camera has never done anything like this before. I have taken many nighttime shots with it. There is nothing that could have caused the green light to even be there, let alone blur into something like this. There was no lighting used except for the lights from the moon and the solar-powered lights on the grave. In fact, I did not even have a flashlight with me. The moon provided all the light needed to find our way around. It should also be noted that I had just done a similar nighttime shoot at Fox Ridge Park in Henderson for my article about the demon-child who supposedly haunts the swings there. Absolutely nothing abnormal appeared in any of those photos.
Second photo, unedited. 
Three sets of "eyes" can be seen near the "2012" area.

What I find the most interesting is that it is not just one photo. The same phenomenon can be seen in the second photo, as well. The eyes are a little closer to the camera, and you can see one set is hovering in front of the grave marker. The third photo was taken about ten or fifteen minutes later on our way back out of the cemetery. Nothing appears in this one even though it was taken in the same lighting.

I have to say, looking at ghost pictures online is one thing; you don’t know who took the picture, if they have something to gain form it, or if their camera was malfunctioning, etc. It is quite another when it was you who took the picture on your own camera. I know that there is nothing but miles of open desert between the cemetery and Boulder City. I know that my camera has never malfunctioned or taken any similar photos before. Most importantly, I know I didn’t fake or Photoshop the pictures. That’s what makes this so unsettling.

This is one of the other photos taken that night. The lights of Boulder City can be seen in the background.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Olentzero, the Christmas Jentilak

Olentzero is synonymous with Christmas to the Basque people. He is one of the last surviving relics of pre-Christian pagan beliefs. There are numerous differing legends and practices about Olentzero; almost every Basque village had its own variation. In many ways he is similar to other European counties’ “Father Christmas,” but in just as many ways he is a completely unique character to Basque folklore.

Originally he was a giant, or jentilak, who lived in the mountains. He was the last surviving member of a tribe of giants who either died with the birth of Christ, or simply left to avoid being Christianized. Sometimes called Olentzero of the red eyes, he would cut the throat of children who broke the fast. In other variations, he would kill anyone who ate too much on Christmas Eve, which was traditionally a day of fasting. He is often portrayed as being drunk, slouched in a chair with an empty bottle in his hand. He is usually dressed like a peasant and is always very rustic.

In some villages, a figurine of Olentzero holding a sickle is hung over the fireplace, which is supposed to bring good luck. Olentzero is so closely associated with Christmas that the Basque term “Olentzeroren kondaira” can be translated both as “History of Olentzero” and “History of Christmas.”

Though many versions include a violent personality, not all of the stories about Olentzero are frightening. In one of the more common Basque fairytales about him told today, he is a simple carpenter who is made immortal by a fairy so that he can always make toys to deliver to Basque children on Christmas.

Olentzero sits under a Christmas tree.
Mari Domingi and a galtzagorri can be seen behind him. 
Olentzero is increasingly becoming more like Santa Claus, as can be seen in the addition of him coming down a chimney. He is sometimes shown as having a soot-covered face as a result. He is more often being portrayed as an older white-haired man, whereas he traditionally was a bit younger and had black hair and beard, or even no beard at all.

Santa has elves, Olentzero has the galtzagorris. They are magical beings the size of a pin cushion that work nonstop at a fast speed. They can complete any task in one night. They will appear in Christmas parades in the entourage of Olentzero. It is implied that they assist Olentzero in making the toys for Christmas.

In recent years, Olentzero has been accompanied by Mari Domingi, a female farmer who frequently appeared in Olentzero stories but usually didn’t play a specific role in them. Today, she is sort of like a Mrs. Claus. Her name translates as “marriage,” and she is frequently portrayed as wearing a traditional Basque wedding dress. Perhaps someday there will be little Olentzeros?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sloan Canyon

I recently began writing for as a freelance journalist. Today, my first article with them went live. I will be focusing on the unique places and people in the Las Vegas and Southern Nevada area (my official title is “Las Vegas Places and Faces Examiner”). I have wanted to write about our local oddities and unique history for some time and this seems to be a good medium to do so through. Blame it on the scorching desert sun, but there is never a shortage of eccentrics here; from Howard Hughes to Lonnie Hammargren to Scotty’s Castle in nearby Death Valley, Southern Nevada is a mecca for the bizarre.  

The link to my first article is below. It’s about Sloan Canyon, a local spot loaded with Native American petroglyphs, or rock art. Sloan Canyon has one of the highest concentrations of petroglyphs in North America! I have attached a few photos I took there as well.

Here's the link: