The cryptid reviews, so far, have largely been about my own childhood experiences and nostalgia with cryptid culture - but today's example is one I actually never heard of until nearly adulthood.
My spouse, on the other hand, was a fan of the flying rods from an earlier age, and will be writing their review today!
CLASSIC CRYPTID REVIEWS:
Written by Revereche
For the most part, I never really got into any cryptids, apart from a brief period of wondering if Nesse could really be a living plesiosaur when I was around eight. Either all the way fantastical, or detailed actual biological entities were the most interesting to me. Cryptids never seemed to go far enough with the bizarreness in either direction to catch my attention... with one notable exception.
Around the age of thirteen, I learned about "flying rods," and I was instantly captivated. I mean, just look at that thing! Have you ever seen anything like it? Real or not, Bigfoot was just one more ape in the world, but this--how would you even classify this thing? Also unlike Bigfoot, and most any other cryptid of the time, the flying rod seemed highly likely to actually exist. People all over the world just kept catching them on film, again and again, though never any details beyond a long, tube shape, and undulating "fins" down the sides.
I wasn't alone in my interest, either. For a few heady years, a substantial portion of the Internet was caught up by flying rod fever.
The phenomenon waas kicked off by Jose Escamilla, who first discovered them in Roswell (yes, that Roswell) in 1994 and maintained roswellrods.com. The original site is long defunct, but at its height it looked like this. It was a cute site, typical of the small conspiracy theory sites of the time, with all sorts of random things like these cartoons by someone named Claire Mix.
The obvious Roswell connection was really intriguing. Unlike the banal, humanoid greys, this was something that actually seemed genuinely alien to me, though some theorized that they were spacecraft rather than the aliens themselves.
The excitement around flying rods was not exclusive to the English-speaking side of the Internet, either. As mysterious invertebrates they of course found a fanbase in Japan, where they were known by the significantly more whimsical moniker of "skyfish."
The Japanese enthusiasm yielded the cute toys I've shown throughout this page, as well as these mockumentary DVDs.
The rod aesthetic is also more than a little reminiscent of the ethereal spirits of Mushishi, and a connection is possible. roswellrods.com went online in 1997 (or at least, archive.org has been keeping track that long), and the manga premiered two years later.
Potentially, it was also partial inspiration for the design of the baby eel Pokemon, Tynamo. More obviously, rods also appeared in John Dies at the End as Shitload, the book's take on the demon Legion. Disappoingingly, the movie adaptation would change the design to just a bunch of regular flying insects.
...Though, of course, that is exactly what flying rods themselves turned out to be. As the above graphic shows, flying rods are just what happens when camera shutter speeds can't keep up with the rapid wingbeat of an insect flitting across the view. After months of research and speculation, it was with a heavy heart that I and the rest of the Internet finally accepted the truth. The popularity of flying rods vanished just as swiftly as it had appeared, and now they seem totally forgotten.
But why, dammit, why?! When Nessie and Mothman and the Chupacabra and all the rest are as known and adored as they ever were, why have these dear little things faded into obscurity? They deserve a legacy as great as any drunken owl sighting! Would you tell this face "no"?