High Strangeness

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Shitty Parents of The Children of Roswell

Imagine yourself in this scenario:

You've recently been witness to a UFO crash site on a remote ranch in New Mexico. Maybe you discovered it yourself, or maybe you heard about it from another rancher and went to take a look, it doesn't matter. The point is, you saw it, and you were so excited that you took a piece of the wreckage home with you and hid it, because it was indestructible and you knew there was something weird and top-secret-y about it.

Now also suppose that you also saw the bodies of dead aliens near the crash site, but you decided not to take one of the bodies home with you because, hey, you already have a piece of indestructible wreckage. Why be greedy?

Then suppose that a really scary military dude showed up at your house some time later, confiscated your hidden sample of indestructible wreckage and threatened you. "If you tell anyone about this," the scary military dude snarled at you, "we will kill you and your entire family." Then suppose that over the next few days your kid sensed that there was something weighing on your mind and asked you, "Dad, what's weighing on your mind," and you said, "Well, son/daughter, I recovered a fragment of indestructible wreckage from a crashed flying saucer (while opting not to bring home one of the dead alien bodies found nearby), and the military confiscated it and told me that if I told anyone about it they would kill you."

Would you really be that dumb? Of course you wouldn't! Why would you endanger your child's life? What kind of shitty parent are you?
At least they haven't brought up the slides... Not yet, anyway.

Yet this is what the authors of the new book "Children of Roswell" want us to believe was playing out at ranches all over New Mexico in July, 1947, after the supposed Roswell UFO crash took place. All sorts of shitty parents in the Roswell area, apparently, were putting their kids' lives in danger that summer by telling their kids the one thing they were never supposed to tell anyone if they wanted their kids to stay alive.

Now, I know you're wondering why I, an avowed Roswell skeptic, would be reading such a book. Well, ever since Don Schmitt, the co-author of the tome I've just referenced, challenged me to a "Roswell debate" to take place next October at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, I feel obliged to review my opponent's writings on the subject, no matter how unpleasant that may be.

So here I am, just a few chapters into his new book, thinking, "Is this all you've got?" Because the only explanations I can come up with for the "telling your kids the very secret that will get them killed if you tell them" scenario are 1) these ranchers were, as I've mentioned, really shitty parents, or 2) they didn't take the death threats seriously, because they knew it was all a big joke. Either way, it doesn't make a real strong argument for the veracity of the authors' claims.

Also, how do you recover wreckage of something made of indestructible material? It's indestructible! I've never been able to figure that one out.

Monday, March 21, 2016

My UFO Weekend in Ann Arbor

Well, the Swamp Gas UFO Conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan has come and gone, and we still aren't any closer to knowing what all those people in Michigan saw in the swamps 50 years ago, Dammit. I tried my best to present a clear analysis of the event, but because I wasn't trying to prove anything or promote the expected cover-up story I'm not entirely sure how my talk went over.

It was a fun event, though, and I am really glad I got to take part. Hats off to Bill Konkolesky and his staff at Michigan MUFON for putting on such a slick event. There were about 200 people there, by my reckoning, and, hey, a lot of them stuck around until 4:15 to hear me tell the same story they had been hearing all day, so I was pleased.

Drink specials at the hotel bar the night of the conference. "Bud Light Lime" seems particularly otherworldly.
Not so pleasing was the fact that there was no one there from the media. I mean, not even Open Minds, for God's sake. Sheesh. Can we get a little recognition for something in UFO world that doesn't have "Roswell" in its name?

Also disappointing was the fact that the national MUFON organization provided very little support or promotion for the event. Shame on them. This could have and should have been a much bigger deal than it was, but MUFON HQ blew it. Why? Well, again, it doesn't have the "R" word in its name.

On the other hand, Roswell came up in the presentations, and when it did it was usually to endorse the tedious old saucer crash/government coverup story. When I was done with my Swamp Gas presentation, we opened it up for Q&A, and the first question came from a guy who asked me what I thought of Don Schmitt's reports that Dr. J. Allen Hynek interviewed Roswell witnesses. A Don Schmitt plant in the audience, perhaps?

What I should have said was, "What's a Roswell witness?" but I didn't. I said that to the best of my knowledge Hynek had never interviewed anyone about anything associated with Roswell. I could, of course, be wrong, but I've been researching Hynek's work for several years and I can tell you there is a notable absence of any mention of Roswell in any of Hynek's notes or books or interviews or correspondence that I have seen. It was only after Hynek moved to Arizona that Roswell became a hot topic in the CUFOS offices.

Another man asked how Hynek felt about UFO abductees. I replied that although Hynek was uncomfortable with abductee cases he was sympathetic to the people involved. He met Barney and Betty Hill in the mid-'60s, as well as Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker in '73, and was struck by the sincerity of all of them. He had been present when the Hills were hypnotized, and when the unsuccessful attempt to hypnotize Hickson and Parker had taken place, and was deeply impressed by both. On the other hard, he was not overly impressed when Travis Walton was hypnotized. He felt that Walton didn't remember much more under hypnosis than he had already consciously recalled.

Another questioner asked, "What do I tell people when they ask me if I really believe that UFOs are real?" I thought my answer was pretty snappy. I said, "You can just say what Hynek said when people asked him that. He simply said, 'Well, I believe UFO reports are real.'"

Yeah, maybe not what the crowd wanted to hear...

Thursday, March 17, 2016

UFO Poetry Slam

I just have to share this. I found this treasure a while back in Dr. J. Allen Hynek's files when I was researching my book about his career. It's a sarcastic poem someone wrote to and about Hynek in the wake of the swamp gas fiasco, and it's kind of a dopey masterpiece.

The poet was a Mr. Sxx Yxxxxxx, and he wrote the poem in anger over Hynek's apparent cover-up of the the Dexter-Hillsdale, Michigan UFO sightings of 1966. He felt, as did many, that Hynek knew for a fact that those Michigan UFOs were real extraterrestrial craft and was explaining them away as swamp gas to please his handlers in the Air Force. The poet's anger is entirely misplaced, in my opinion, which makes the poem even more fun. But you can't blame the guy for coming up with a truly creative way to vent his anger....

"Martian Gas"

In the midst of the twentieth century,
                        when man reached for the stars
And probed the void with telescopes
                        and inter-planet cars
And sought communications
                        with life beyond our own,
We found we still had earth-men
                        who feared the great unknown.

Scientist, astronomer and physicist but fair;
Yet, Air Force Apologist, most ex' trordinaire.
"Deny, debunk, deplore, decry the witness of your eyes.
Saucer-sighters are but fools delighting in their lies."

Mortal man is not prepared
                          for inter-stellar strife.
Leave him to the ignorance
                         of just this earthly life.
Just as priests reserve the faith, 
                         scientists hide the plan;
Martian conquest needs no help
                         from ordinary man.

Poor Sxx. He couldn't have known that Hynek kept a collection of all the sarcastic, satirical poems, cartoons and diatribes directed at him in the wake of the swamp gas case. Far from hurting Hynek's feelings, the attacks helped him keep things in perspective, and he was actually quite proud of them.

A lesson for us all, eh?

Swamp Gas Fever

Well, tomorrow I drive to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the notorious 1966 Dexter-Hillsdale "swamp gas" UFO case, that led to the disastrous Detroit press conference that Dr. J. Allen Hynek declared the low point in his career.

For all the info you need on the Swamp Gas Conference hosted by Michigan MUFON, go here.

Swamp gas... or marsh gas? You decide.
I've put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into my one hour and 15 minute presentation (yet another reason I haven't been able to blog much lately), and I think it'll be pretty boffo, if I do say so myself. The other speakers, I am happy to say, look like they'll be fun to drink with at the hotel bar afterwards, so all in all I think it will be a fun weekend!

The event even got a write-up in the Detroit Free Press the other day. Not half bad.

I'm not sure what kind of media coverage to expect, but whatever we get I'll be sure to post it here!



Saturday, February 20, 2016

My New UFO Life

Man, I knew it was going to be hard to keep up with the blog after the Antarctica trip, but I didn't know how hard! I am literally forcing myself to sit down and write this today, because if I don't do it now, I'm not sure when I ever will.

The two biggest factors in my suddenly busy life are: 1) writing my book; and 2) teaching my screenwriting class at DePaul University.

Not that I'm complaining, because I love both jobs. But my publisher has given me an August 1st deadline for the Hynek book, which means that I have to crank out a chapter every two weeks for the next five months. And, they're insisting that it has to be good. That's a load of work, right there. And the class, even though it only meets once a week, takes up a lot of time and energy. Molding impressionable young minds is a big deal, as it turns out; who knew?

Man was not meant to venture to the stars... Look what happens.
Book-wise, the past couple weeks have been especially fun, as I've been writing about:
  • Hynek's connections to Sputnik, Johannes Kepler, and Dr. Carl Jung;
  • Classic 1950's science fiction films, including "Forbidden Planet" and "The Quatermass Xperiment";
  • The 1957 Levelland, Texas, Close Encounters of the Second Kind;
  • The 1959 Father Gill Close Encounter of the Third Kind;
  • Loads of other amazing stuff!
I've also had the rare opportunities to correspond recently with Jerome Clark, Claude Poher and Bill Chalker about their Hynek memories. And once I figure out the whole time zone/International Date Line thing, I plan to interview Mr. Chalker on Skype. That will be fun, and kind of a BFD.

In other related news, I have officially taken a leave of absence from MUFON, at least until summer. I have just not had the time and energy to keep up with my duties as Chief Investigator and Assistant State Director--well, actually, I've never been too clear on what those duties actually are, but I'm pretty sure I haven't been able to keep up with them. Unlike the teaching and the book writing, my MUFON work has not been feeling very worthwhile lately. The big problem, as I see it, is that there is no filtering of reports; I get assigned all these crap "lights in the sky" cases that never amount to anything, and instead of being able to investigate the really interesting cases, I have to interview people about, well, lights in the sky. Meanwhile, the fascinating cases, like The Case of The House That Wasn't There, The Case of the Humanoids and the Human Fence, and The Case of the Phantom Restaurant That Also Wasn't There just sit there not getting investigated, because who has the time when the one or two evenings a week they have to investigate cases get sucked up by lunatics and lame-brains?

I have also had to pass on an invitation to spend a weekend in May in Kalamazoo, Michigan, hob-nobbing with Michael Swords and the UFO council of elders. As much as I enjoy Michael's gatherings, this one falls over my birthday weekend, and I just can't make it. Also, Don Schmitt will be there, and I think it's best to maintain the wall of separation between us from now until next October (see below).

On the other hand, I do have some fun events coming up:

I'll be speaking at a Conference to salute the 50th Anniversary of the famous Dexter-Hillsdale "Swamp Gas" cases. The Conference is coming up on March 19th in Ann Arbor, MI, and you can sign up here.

Also, I'll be doing the big "Roswell Debate" with the aforementioned Mr. Schmitt next October 16th at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference. That promises to be the most entertaining public debate spectacle since the GOP Presidential debate in which Senator Marco Rubio was revealed to be a malfunctioning Stepford Wife.

Anyway, thanks for sticking with me! I'll try to be better about keeping the lawn mowed.