January 24th >>   

And So It Starts...
Monster Hunters Club
Domain of the Golden Dragon
Rainbow of Death
Enhance Yourself
Korean Film Fan
The Missing Toys
Journal Entries 4, 5, and 6
Domain of the Golden Dragon - Solved
Derek Tries to Help Amie
A Fifth Grid
Thing in the Water
Cryptid Love
The Today Show with the MHC
A Body Mod Conspiracy?
Journal Entires 7, 8, 9 and 10
A Lead on Jon?
A Toy for Me!
  February 1st >>  

A Breakthrough on the Grids
A Today Show Disaster?
Journal 11, 12, and 13
Sun-Yi and The Host
Grids Solved! (mostly)
Creature Captured!
Update Tuesday
Derek Is a Dork
Win a poster of The Host
Journals 14, 15, 16 and 17
Implant Boy Speaks
A Puzzle for Derek
Video Blogs from Sun-Yi
  February 9th >>  

MHC on Fangoria Radio
Journal #18
World 3, Derek 0
Amie Talks to Painted Soul
Fangoria Radio Show - Denied
Grid #3 and #12
5 Per Solved!
The Host Screening
Amie in NYC
Journal Entires 19 & 20
Derek Screws Up Yet Again
A Lead on the Good Doctor
Valentine's Day Is Cold and Snowy
A Note from Dr. T
Creepy Fishes Keep Coming
Make a Video - Win Swag
One Last Envelope
Calling All Hackers
  February 16th >>  

Derek's Mom Comes to Town
Amie Does...Nothing
Sun-Yi Wishes Amie Luck
Journals 21, 22, and 23
A Meeting with a Mystery Man?
Still Hacking
Captain Library
I'd Like to Be Seated in the Emo Section, Please
Sun-Yi on Peanut Butter, Libraries, and Videos
"Yellow Eyes" Video Contest
A Break in M-A-R-A
Haneda AFB Files
Journals 24, 25, 26, and 27
Matt to Hook up with Nate

  February 23rd >>
  March 2nd >>
  March 9th >>
Recap #1 · Recap #2 · Recap #3 · Recap #4 · Recap #5 · Recap #6 · Recap #7· M-A-R-A Logins

And So It Starts...
It's always fun to come into chat and see that someone has found a potential new trailhead that isn't launched through a cryptic email or an annoying IM chat. This one started out with imbri telling the room that she had just seen a trailer for a movie called The Host and at the end there was an url for something called Monster Hunter Club.

Note: I keep finding myself wanting to to add an 'S' to the end of Hunter each time I type this name out even though that is not the name of the website. So if you see an inadvertant S stuck in randomly, that's just me forgetting to doublecheck stuff.

Now, I'm always one to at least look at new websites, and the less ads, pop-ups, pop-unders and mispellings I see, the more I'm willing to throughly explore the site. It's really amazing how good web design makes people want to explore a site. And you really do have to explore this site to see that it's an ARG and not just another random cryptozoology site/viral marketing site.

First of all, the site is registered to Magnolia Films § - which pretty much guarantees that it's not a real site that the movie trailer just happened to link to.

Second, it doesn't appear to be your average viral site. It's not at all flashy and there is a lot of content on the site, some of which 'dates' back to 2005. There are no games to play, no little 'input your number and have someone famous call you' box, just a whole lot of blog reading. You can sign up to win a limited edition Big Foot toy, but so far there is nothing to really catch the average person's interest on the site to a: want to come back later and b: tell their friends about it. So, as a pure viral site, it fails pretty miserably.

Third, there are two other sites that are linked off of MHC, both of which are owned by Magnolia Films. So now we're at least getting into the realm of 'Extended Reality' - which is still pretty cool even if there is only so much you can do within it. But most 'Extended Reality' sites I've seen concentrate more on apperance. That is, they'll throw a lot of pretty looking sites as window dressing, but they lack alot of deep background and interaction. MHC and its sister sites are all about deep background and you can interact on the MHC forums with the 70+ 'members' that registered before the game started. Seventy people pre-registered?! I really don't remember the last time I've seen such attention to detail before. Most games usually just launch with lame excuses as to why everything is only showing from the launch date forward. This game actually has posts 'dated' back until 2005 - how cool is that?
Monster Hunters Club
So, let's talk about MHC. The first rule of MHC is that you don't talk about MHC unless you want people to look at you funny. You try telling random people on the street that you're playing a game that has you looking through a website about Bigfoot and Nessie and see how many strange looks you get.

But besides that, MHC is run by Derek, a Pittsburgh boy who goes to school at NYU. It's a place where people who enjoy cryptozoology can hang out together and possibly eat donuts. The older posts in the MHC archive focus a lot on field trips that MHC members have taken - or at least tried to take - as well as significant developments in cryptozoology. The more recent posts seem to be more personal as Derek sort of drifts away from cryptids and deals with real life. It ends with Derek, after deciding to get rid of his cryptid collectibles, finds them stolen! Oh noes! Maybe we'll have to scour the country looking for them. That might be pretty cool. Luckily, Derek still has his Bigfoot models which he is gonna give away at some point in time.

There are a number of reoccuring names on the MHC blog and in the forums that it might be a good idea to know:
  • Matt Wheeler: - VP of MHC and Derek's roommate. Orginally from Corpus Christi, Texas, he was raised in Austin by his mother. His dad died when he was two, and his mom just died over the Christmas holiday. While going through the papers at his mother's house, he found evidence to suggest that both his father and grandfather were murdered after being involved in secret goverment projects. He started his website Rainbow of Death to investigate just what happened to his father and grandfather.

  • Sun-Yi: - Film student at NYU. She has helped Derek create his 'How to Fake a Crytpid' video series. She's also one of the few people that still comes out to the MHC meetings. She has a Myspace site at http://myspace.com/koreanfilmfan.

  • Cryptidtruth: - New member of MHC. He has alerted Derek to some of his videos (1 | 2) on Youtube showing a possible new cryptid. Strange stuff.

  • Amie Adams: Derek's ex-girlfriend. She's now currently dating body artist Jon Paine and runs his website EnhanceYourself.org. Derek seems to be a bit hung up on her.
Domain of the Golden Dragon
When Matt was home going through his mother's belongings, he found a certificate that had belonged to his grandfather. On the back, there is a strange series of letters and numbers. Being unable to figure out what they meant, Matt posted a scan of the certificate on the MHC site, hoping that one of the members there would have some idea of what it meant.

The Domain of the Golden Dragon is one of many different unofficial certificates that Navy personnel could earn while sailing. It was given out when the sailor would cross the International Date Line. Although initiation ceremonies weren't always held after WWII, the certificate was still given out, and it's a bit unusual that this isn't filled out with the information of Mark's grandfather's crossing.

On the back, there is some faint writing in pencil. § Obviously a code of some sort, but as to how to decode it, we have no idea. Maybe there will be more hints as we go through Matt's website.
Rainbow of Death
How cool is the name of this website? It sounds like something the Care Bears would have. Or maybe Care Bear Stare of Doom. So fraking cool.

Anyway, this site is dedicated to discovering the truth behind the deaths of Matt's father and grandfather. John Wheeler, Matt's grandfather, is the one that coined the term Rainbow of Death after he discovered "that the top-secret government project he was working on, in fact, had quite the opposite of its intended effect."

Up until his mother's death, Matt didn't question what he was told about the deaths of his grandfather and father. § However, after he started going through the papers he found in his mother's attic, he began to see an entirely different version of events.

Matt has now started to systematically document the story of his grandfather's life. So far he has several entries from John Wheeler's journal with promises of more to come. Sadly, Matt hasn't taken the time to transcribe all of these journal entries, so you're stuck reading the handwritten notes - unless you come here and read my transcriptions which I'm sure are riddled with typos and whatnot.
  • John Wheeler Jr. farewell letter §
  • John Wheeler's SEA Journal §
  • Journal Entry #1, 6/13/66 §
  • Journal Entry #2, 6/16/66 §
  • Journal Entry #3, 6/18/66 §
So there is some definite mystery going on here. What was the project that John Wheeler was working on? Was he killed because of it? Was John Jr. killed because he went in search of the same information? Is the Rainbow of Death at all associated with the Care Bears? Only time will tell.
Enhance Yourself
This is the rather creepy site of Jon Paine and Amie Adams. Jon is a "Body Artist - Mad Scientist - Mutant" who enjoys modifying his body for the sake of progress. If you thought the cryptozoology people were nutty, you ain't see nothing yet. I don't think this guy is gonna be happy until he's the first Borg.

So far, Mr. Paine has had a RFID chip inserted into his hand, tried to have a bluetooth device installed into his jaw, and has had a PDA device implanted into his forearm - complete with bloody videos. The PDA graphics totally give me the heebie-jeebies.

But beyond the mystery of why anyone would do that to themselves, there is something else that needs our attention. Jon Paine is missing! Maybe he's hiding out in Thailand with the Wheelers after having stole all of Derek's toys. I just hope he's not trying to graft any of the toys onto his body - because that would just be a little too weird, even for me.
Recap #1
What we know: Derek, a NYU student who could have a great future in blogging, runs a pretty decent cryptozoology website. His roommate and best friend, Matt Wheeler, lost his mother over the Christmas holiday to cancer. While cleaning out her papers, Matt discovers that both his father and grandfather may have been murdered by some government agency. And if that wasn't enough to keep Derek from thinking about MHC, his ex-girlfriend's boyfriend has gone missing and you know that is gonna cause a whole lot of issues for Derek.

Sites we've visited: Monster Hunter Club, Rainbow of Death, Enhance Yourself

Sites we haven't visited: Sun-Yi's Myspace page

Things that are unsolved:
Korean Film Fan
Happily, Sun-Yi is not one of those Myspace denizens that thinks having a readable page is some sort of taboo. It's still a Myspace page so you kinda have to look all over for the information, but at least you don't have to highlight all the words on the page, or try to squint to see the text admid a horrid background. §

Luckily the blog pages are better organized. She mixes it up a bit with writing, audio and video (in which she seems to emulating LG15). She also seems to have quite a crush on Derek, and he's the reason she joined MHC in the first place. I wonder how much he reads her Myspace blogs. I'm guessing not much as it doesn't sound like he knows that she likes him in his blogs. Unless he does know and he's just jerking her around like Dee did to Billy. And then she has the nerve to bitch out Lee. She totally get what she deserves. If Anders wasn't in the picture, I say let Starbuck and Apollo get it on, but Anders certainly doesn't deserve that. Oops, way too much BSG lately. Sorry. §
The Missing Toys
It seems whomever stole Derek's toys has a sense of humor. They have taken to mailing them to random people, along with some sort of little puzzle grid. So far dashcat has gotten a Yeti, konamouse got a Bigfoot, Sylvia received Dracula, and RedHatty got another Bigfoot. ScarpeGosse and Spacebass both got some poster promoting The Host. I got jackshit. They must be following the WIBS method of handing out goodies. I've determined that there is no glory in writing guides and being a moderator other than people detesting you. But that's okay, because it means when I tranform into the ESG, I'm just that much scarier. I'm like my own cryptid! I take it all back - see here for why.

molecularr was cool enough to paste together the different puzzle grids that everyone received. All of the grids are different, and we haven't seen any duplicates yet, making me wonder if these are stand-alone puzzles or are they part of something bigger?

Derek was eventually clued into the fact that his missing toys were no longer so missing. But as he is A Nice Guy™, he's not demanding that these random strangers send back his toys. However, he has absolutely no clue about the puzzle grids that say "This item courtsey of the Monster Hunter Club". He seems to think they are sudoku puzzles. Well, they are in a 9x9 grid, but other than that, I have no idea why he thinks they are sudoku puzzles.

In his latest blog update, he talks a bit about his missing collectbiles, Sun-Yi's film screening (and I'm sure it's breaking her heart when he says 'I'd better not stand to close to her') and attempts to bribe Cryptidtruth with donuts in order to get more information about their strange creature. While donuts are all well and good, everyone knows you bribe people with chocolate chip cookies for information, not donuts. Donuts are good bribes to get people to come to meetings, although pie works just as well. Pie and punch. §
Journal Entries 4, 5, and 6
Matt has scanned (photographed?) three more entries from his grandfather's journal. We're still in the first few weeks of his time in Thailand, so we haven't really seen anything ominious yet. That doesn't mean there isn't drama happening! There's a sniper outside the compound and the relationship between Drs. T and G is even more strained once Dr. G declares himself the boss. But John is fairly content - and extremely patriotic which is really odd to see in this day and age.
  • Journal Entry #4, 7/4/66 §
  • Journal Entry #5, 7/5/66 §
  • Journal Entry #6, 7/14/66 §
Domain of the Golden Dragon - Solved
Matt was nice enough to give us a better scan of the Golden Dragon certificate. Now we can read what it says. § Which is a pretty good thing since we need the text of this certificate to figure out the answer. §

molecularr was the one to figure out that the answer is The Tinman has disappeared into the rainbow. Although we have absolutely no idea who the Tinman is or even when he disappeared into the Rainbow.
Derek Tries to Help Amie
Derek has finally found out that Jon Paine, the boyfriend of his ex-girlfriend Amie, has gone missing. And like any guy who is still completely hung up on his ex, he agress to help in anyway he can - which in this case is putting a link to Enhance Yourself up on MHC.

You just know that Derek is trying to think of how he'll be the one to save Jon and that Amie will realize that Derek is her knight in shining armor and will fall into his arms. You also know that will never happen in a million years (unless this takes some sort of Hollywood ending turn). Of course, there is Sun-Yi we have to worry about as well, since I'm not sure she's going to like Amie coming back into Derek's little world one bit. Maybe we'll have to investigate the disappearnce of Amie later and then try to keep Sun-Yi out of jail when we discover Amie's corpse buried on the grounds of the Korean Embassy!
A Fifth Grid
I guess it's nice that whomever stole Derek's toys didn't send them all to random strangers. At least one old member got a toy and a grid. He talks about it being a sudoku puzzle, which is really making me wonder what the hell is in the donuts that Derek passes out at his meetings if everyone thinks this is sudoku. He does seem to stress one bit about the puzzles tho: "I started working on it, and Iím thinking the numbers are the important part. All the rest of the shit just looks like gibberish (except for one part that reads TV Quiz?) And why have pairs of numbers if youíre not supposed to do something with them?" Clue? Red herring? Won't know until we figure this out.
Thing in the Water
Bastiages! Someone else is doing a guide too. Sadly it's been registered via Domains by Proxy, so we can't tell who is the real owner. However, even though it doesn't have the same info as the other 3 sites and wasn't registered until after the game started, I'm not really convinced that this is a just a fan guide. Maybe it's because I'm so used to this particular style of game having an in-game guide built in. I guess time will tell.
Cryptid Love
Sun-Yi has a couple more videos up on her Myspace page. § The Cryptid Love video is pretty freaking funny. Of course, so is the song. I can't get the stupid thing out of my head now.

I do wonder how many people are going to show up to the screening. Since it's on a Monday in NYC, I know there is no way that I will be attending, although I have been amused enough by this game to see the movie when it comes out here.
The Today Show with the MHC
Okay, this title is a bit misleading, but that's the way Derek's blog entry stated it. §

I just can't help thinking about how similar this feels to AotH. Slow opening to give you a chance to read all the stuff on the website, and a mention of a little gathering a few days later. Why do I have a feeling something is gonna happen Thursday morning to change the dynamic of the game?

Sorta wish I could go, but weekdays in the City are just not my thing. Actually, any day in the City is not my thing. Leaving here at 1:45am in the middle of winter isn't the smartest idea in the world. However, I will set my DVR to record the Today show just in case something strange happens on air.
A Body Mod Conspiracy?
Amie is now convinced that Jon's disapperance is a part of something bigger as he's not the first modification artist who has dropped off the face of the Earth. I dunno, one guy a year seems to be stretching things a bit. For all she knows, they could have found someone else to shack up with. Wouldn't be the first time it happened. But maybe, just maybe they have all been recruited into Project Rainbow and are living it up in Thailand. I wonder if John and John Jr. liked to get piercings all over their bodies.

Alternate theory: the amount of piercings and tattoo ink in their system has caused an allergic reaction, causing them to them to suffer a psychogenic fugue and they are just out there wandering around lost, and completely freaking out the locals.
Journal Entires 7, 8, 9 and 10
Matt has put up four more of his grandfather's journals. Although, certain evidence could be construed as him 'writing' up four more journals. I thought it was funny that Entry 6 originally ended with a lot of blank space at the bottom. Sadly, I didn't think to check my cache for the original large version until the new version was loaded - but you can still see it in the thumbnail (which Matt forgot to fix - oops!) Of course, this might explain why we're only getting three/four entries at a time - someone is still writing them up!
  • Journal Entry #7, 7/20/66 §
  • Journal Entry #8, 8/1/66 §
  • Journal Entry #9, 8/4/66 §
  • Journal Entry #10, 8/7/66 §
In other news, I now find out that Matt is gonna start transcribing the journal entries. All this work for naught? I'm beginning to feel like this whole guide is gonna be a waste of time - but I'll try to soldier on for a little while more at least.
A Lead on Jon?
Amy has been wracking her brain, trying to figure out a new angle she could try on Jon's disapperance. She's pretty sure that the best bet would be trying to track down the guy that Jon met at the Tattoo Convention, one Painted Soul. It seems Jon mentioned him a previous email, although by his German name. Amie for some reason deleted the email (she should get a gmail account - then she can just archive emails instead of deleting them!) so we're gonna have to figure this out on our own.

The easiest way would seem to be to just go to the Tattoo website and check out the guestbook - but it's broken, so that's not gonna work. Painted Soul in German is "gemalte Seele," but doing a Google search on that brings up no usable results. Even Painted Soul by itself doesn't really give us anything to go on - so I really don't know what we're supposed to do. I sent an email off to the tattoo site to see if they'll fix their guestbook, but who knows if/when we'll be able to look at it.
A Toy for Me!
When I got home Wednesday night, I discovered that there was a package for me. Hooray! It was addressed to my ARG alter ego (instead of my real name), so I know it wasn't gotten off my website info. More than likely from signing up to win the Bigfoot from Derek (although there are any number of PMs in the ARG world who have my fake name with real address). But I don't care - I got a toy! And not just any toy - the very toy I wanted since I first saw Derek's picture of it.

Let me tell you, it's even cuter in real life. As you can see, it's made friends with my stuffed ferret. I absolutely adore it so there's no way I would ever give it back to Derek. I offered him some cookies in exchange, so we'll see if he takes me up on the offer.

I also got a puzzle grid. This one is #7 - and curiously enough it has 8s within the grid unlike all of the rest of them. Wonder what that means?
Recap #2
What we know: Derek still has big plans for MHC - especially after all the new members, and the new evidence from CanuckChik and Cryptidtruth. Matt is slowly forging photographing his Grandfather's diary about his work on a possible cure/antidote for Agent Orange. Sun-Yi has a huge crush on Matt, although it's unclear if he knows about it. And Amie is convinced that the mysterious Painted Soul knows about Jon's disappearance - if only she can find him.

Sites we've visited (since the last recap): Sun-Yi's Myspace page, Thing in the Water

Sites we haven't visited: none

Things that are unsolved:
February 1st and Onwards >>

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