Sure, I want to believe in all kinds of things.

Once upon a time, you believed in monsters. I thought about this because I was watching with my 2-year-old grandchild the Monsters Inc, movies. Those monsters turn out to be okay but at first, their jobs are to scare kids. Maybe you thought there were monsters under your bed or in your closet. Maybe they were outside at night or in the basement. You were not alone.

Ancient peoples thought there were monsters in the oceans and lands beyond their ken. They drew them on maps. They wrote stories about them. Over the centuries, tales about vampires, zombies, and werewolves. Some monsters had names. I don’t mean Frankenstein and names in fiction. I mean the Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot, et al. Water monsters are my focus today. There are 22 aquatic monsters reported in the U.S. that I found listed. On my coast, it includes Chessie in the Chesapeake Bay, Champ in Lake Champlain, a sea serpent in Gloucester Harbor, and Kipsy in the nearby Hudson River. I have never seen any of them but I thought about them this past week while watching TV.

Big Blue was supposedly a prehistoric plesiosaur that lived in a lake in Georgia. Sort of a southern Loch Ness monster. There were numerous legends, sightings, and even a gift shop relating to the monster, but it began to be taken seriously following the deaths of several people on the lake.

But all that happened in “Quagmire” – an episode (#22) of season 3 of the television series The X-Files. (You can go down their monster rabbit hole in The X-Files: The Official Archives: Cryptids, Biological Anomalies, and Parapsychic Phenomena.) I watched them all back in the 1990s. (The title music scared my sons.) This one was originally broadcast in 1996. FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully were brought in to investigate.

Mulder and Scully eventually rent a boat and head out onto the lake, but their boat is hit by something and sinks. They find a large rock to climb up on and talk for a while about Mulder’s quest to catch Big Blue.

What really got my attention when I rewatched the episode recently was their talk about Moby-Dick. I suppose that whale is a monster. A fictional monster based on a whale that did attack a whaling ship.

Spoiler alert: Mulder chases the monster into the woods and fires at it, revealing it to be only a big alligator. Mulder is disappointed that there is no Big Blue monster. But as the FBI agents leave, Big Blue swims by in the lake, unnoticed.

In this episode, the characters are directly compared to or can be seen as being similar to characters in Moby-Dick. Mulder is Ahab, according to Scully. “You’re so consumed by your personal vengeance against life, whether it be its inherent cruelties or mysteries, everything takes on a warped significance to fit your megalomaniacal cosmology.”

Scully has her little dog, Queequeg, along on this investigation because she couldn’t get a last-minute dog sitter. During the episode, poor little Queequeg gets eaten by Moby Big Blue.

Here’s some of the dialogue:

MULDER: Why did you name your dog Queequeg?

SCULLY: It was the name of the harpoonist in Moby Dick. My father used to read to me from Moby Dick when I was a little girl, I called him Ahab and he called me Starbuck. So I named my dog Queequeg. It’s funny, I just realized something.

MULDER: It’s a bizarre name for a dog, huh?

SCULLY: No, how much you’re like Ahab. You’re so consumed by your personal vengeance against life, whether it be its inherent cruelties or mysteries, everything takes on a warped significance to fit your megalomaniacal cosmology.

MULDER: Scully, are you coming on to me?

SCULLY: It’s the truth or a white whale. What difference does it make? I mean, both obsessions are impossible to capture, and trying to do so will only leave you dead along with everyone else you bring with you. You know Mulder, you are Ahab.

MULDER: You know, it’s interesting you should say that because I’ve always wanted a peg leg. It’s a boyhood thing I never grew out of. I’m not being flippant, I’ve given this a lot of thought. I mean. if you have a peg leg or hooks for hands then maybe it’s enough to simply keep on living. You know, braving facing life with your disability. But without these things you’re actually meant to make something of your life, achieve something earn a raise, wear a necktie. So if anything I’m actually the antithesis of Ahab, because if I did have a peg leg I’d quite possibly be more happy and more content not to be chasing after these creatures of the unknown.

SCULLY: And that’s not flippant?

MULDER: No, flippant is my favorite line from Moby Dick. ‘Hell is an idea first born on an undigested apple dumpling.’

I like that line by Melville. It’s an odd one.

Oh, and Gillian Anderson (Scully) plays the part of Elizabeth, the wife of Ahab, in the “reimagined” 2011 TV series presentation of Moby Dick. Ahab’s wife was only fleetingly mentioned in the original book which doesn’t offer much in female roles.

More about this episode and some Moby-Dick connections.

The Hum


As someone who has suffered from tinnitus for a few years, I empathize with people who live somewhere that is known to have “the hum.” What is the hum? It is a low-frequency humming or droning sound whose source remains unclear.

This phenomenon, or collection of phenomena, has been reported in numerous places in the United States and beyond. The low-frequency humming, or rumbling, or droning noise is not audible to all people, which makes it harder to track down and harder for some people to believe.

These hums are associated with an area and one famous one is the “Taos Hum” in New Mexico. Though it has received quite a bit of attention, only 2% of the population has the ability of hearing it. Of course, that 2% finds it to be not only irritating but mysterious and frustrating.

I have to admit that my first contact with a hum was from watching a 1998 episode of The X-Files titled “Drive.”  Agent Mulder’s theory is that extremely low frequency (ELF) radio waves might explain the Taos Hum.

These “hums” are not the only “unexplained sounds” out there that some people can hear while others can not.

People describe the hum as being comparable to that of a distant diesel engine idling. All of the logical explanations – machinery, household appliances, traffic noise – have been investigated and ruled out. That leaves much room for speculation, fringe science and theories that are psychological to the paranormal. Sure, secret government mind control experiments and underground UFO bases have been listed as possible causes.

Reports of the Taos Hum go back more than 20 years. Researchers at the University of New Mexico set up sensitive equipment in the homes of some of the people who claimed to hear the hum but nothing unusual was detected. Each “hearer” described it as compared to a different frequency between 32 Hz and 80 Hz and similar results have been found in an British study.

Hearers are both male and female, with middle-aged people being more likely to hear it.

Though hearers can move away from the hum and not hear it (so it’s not tinnitus) they can’t block it with earplugs. It is often described as vibrating within their bodies.

There is now a World Hum Database and Mapping Project (and a blog with updates) that started in 2012 to build detailed mappings of hum locations and to provide a database of Hum-related data for professional and independent researchers. I looked on their map and found reports all around my part of the country.

The Red Thread

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet,  regardless of time, place, or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break.   –   Chinese Proverb

The red string of fate (also referred to as the red thread of destiny, fate or faith) is an East Asian belief originating from Chinese legend and is also used in Japanese legend. According to this myth, the gods tie an invisible red string around the ankles of those that are destined to be soul mates and will one day marry each other. Often, in Japanese culture, it is thought to be tied around the little finger. According to Chinese legend, the deity in charge of “the red thread” is believed to be Yuè Xià Lǎo, the old lunar matchmaker god who is also in charge of marriages.

The two people connected by the red thread are destined lovers, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. This magical thread may stretch or tangle, but never break. This myth is similar to the Western concept of soulmates or a twin flame.

When a child is born, the red threads connect that child’s soul to all those people – present and in the future – who will play a part in that child’s life. As each birthday passes, those threads shorten and tighten, bringing closer those people who are fated to be together. The red thread even becomes an important symbol during the adoption process and helps parents feel connected to the child they are waiting to adopt.


The new FOX television series Touch, is based mainly on the red thread story, but it expands the legend. The young, autistic boy at the heart of its plot says that it doesn’t only connect two soulmates, but everyone in your life. Jake says “There’s an ancient Chinese myth about the red thread of faith. It says that the Gods have tied a red thread around every one of our ankles and attached to it are all the people whose lives we are destined to touch. This thread may stretch or tangle but it will never break.”

We are all interconnected. Our lives are invisibly tied to those whose destinies touch ours.

The show is described as blending science, spirituality and emotion. It will be deliberately confusing. It will follow seemingly unrelated people all over the world whose lives affect each other in ways seen and unseen, known and unknown. We will want them to connect and we will want it all to be explained – not because we love the show, but because we really want it all explained in our own lives. We want to be connected and we want to believe that we are all connected in some larger way.

In the first episode (which was a teaser/preview a while ago – the series premieres tonight), we meet Martin (Kiefer Sutherland), a widower and single father who can’t connect to his emotionally challenged 11-year-old son, Jake (David Mazouz). Though he feels the red thread and he is a caring, intelligent man, he so far failed to reach his son.

I expect math and physics to enter the series episodes. There will be spirituality, maybe religion, and there will be see chaos theory in there too. I don’t know if the series will be intelligent. I can’t predict if it will be a hit. I do know I will watch at least the first few episodes. As with The X Files and Fringe, I do want to believe.