Biography of Mike

Mike Crowley

Selected biographical details

Mike was born in Cardiff, Wales in 1948 and since 1988 has lived in California.. He is something of a modern renaissance man, with notable accomplishments in several disparate fields.

In addition to speaking several languages, Mike is a published author, software engineer, ethnomycologist, graphic artist, musician, composer, teacher and web designer.

Below is an overview of his achievements.  A more formal résumé, with the gory details of his employment record  is available upon request.

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Mike’s interest in language has led him to study (and become moderately proficient in) Sanskrit, Latin, French, German, Tibetan and Welsh. He was able to utilize his familiarity with Tibetan when an American lady hired him as her translator/guide for a trip to the Himalayas. Apart from occasional jaunts such as this, Mike’s considerable language skills are employed mostly to impress waiters in ethnic restaurants. 


As an author, Mike has been published in "Home Grown" (mostly reviews, some feature articles), "Rolling Stone" (one short story in 1973) and "Fortean Times" (many reviews and articles since 1979).

From 1969 to 1976 Mike worked as a proof-reader at a prominent London newspaper print-works. This experience has left Mike permanently scarred and he has been known to harangue perfect strangers on the correct spelling of "fuchsia" and whether or not "team" takes a plural verb. Together with his wife, Melanie, he edits an award-winning weekly webzine devoted to the origin and history of English words and phrases.

A paper on ethnomycology which Mike wrote for "Fortean Studies, vol. III" has been cited six times (so far) in peer-reviewed journals.  An HTML version of this paper is in use as a study text for a course in Environmental Science at the University of Surrey, England.

Mike is currently writing a book on the historical use of psychoactive plants within Indian religions entitled "Secret Drugs of Buddhism" and has given several presentations on this topic. As a result of one of these lectures, Russ Kick of The Disinformation Company commissioned Mike to contribute an article to a book entitled "Everything You Know About God is Wrong." It is due for publication in June, 2007.


One of Mike’s greatest pleasures is graphic art and most of his work these days is accomplished by means of the personal computer. Back in the pre-digital age, however, his lithographs were exhibited at the T.U.C. Gallery, in London's West End. 


As a musician, Mike is an accomplished performer upon many different instruments and in several genres including jazz, classical and folk. He has performed solo and supporting various artists including jazz giants  Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, rock-guitarist Todd Rundgren, uillean-piper Paddy Keenan, and didgeridoo virtuoso Stephen Kent. Mike has also appeared on several CD recordings including "Forest" by Knodel and Valencia and "Rendezvous With the Moon" by Verlene Shermer and may occasionally be found around the S.F. Bay area performing with  Sean Folsom, prolific piper and manic musicologist.  He currently occupies the first flute chair with the Weaverville Community Band and plays flute, penny-whistle and percussion with The Mostly Stringband.

Mike's compositions, which have been performed in London and California, include incidental music for the plays "The Oresteian Trilogy" by Aeschylus and Shakespeare’s "Measure For Measure". Recently Mike composed and performed the music accompanying the prize-winning animated short Eroica.

One of Mike's favorite instruments is the Northumbrian small-pipes and in February, 1999 Mike was elected president of the Northumbrian Musical Heritage Society. Here is one of Mike's compositions called "Northumbrian Suite" - it is based on three traditional melodies. (N.B. The music is in MIDI format so the better your sound card, the better it will sound.) 


Not only is Mike extremely well informed on an astonishing variety of subjects, he is also adept at imparting this information to others. While visiting Poland (1989, 1991 - 1992) he taught Buddhist Epistemology at the Collegium Minor of the Jagellonian University, Cracow and gave public lectures on Tibetan History at the Museum of Asia and the Pacific, Warsaw. From time to time, Mike delights local elementary schools with presentations based on his extensive collection of bizarre musical instruments.

In November 1998, Mike conducted two workshops on the bodhrán (Irish frame-drum) at the Harper's Hall musical retreat in Bonny Doon, California. These workshops were so well received that Mike expanded them into a series of four workshops (at Rhythm Fusion of Santa Cruz) beginning in March, 1999. 


Mike has 20 years experience of designing, programming and maintaining database applications and is currently engaged in creating a database of the several hundred Buddhist deities in the Sadhanamala, complete with their hand-held attributes and other symbols.


Mike designed and implemented MCI San Jose's first intranet website (26 pages) and has built several websites both for himself and for private clients.

In 1996 he met the lovely Melanie through the internet. After a whirlwind romance (well, she is a meteorologist) they married and they now  produce an award-winning weekly webzine devoted to etymology and language. In 1999 they were the subject of an article in Yahoo! Internet Life.