Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The UFO Game

My wife Mxxxxx and I just got back from a nice little vacation in Georgia, where we went for a family reunion of sorts, and over the course of the trip two very significant UFO happenings happened. Well, three things, if I count the fact that my wife's uncle Cxxxxxx turned out to be very interested in UFOs, which led to some fun conversations at the party.

That was cool, but in a normal, earthly way. The other two things that happened were much more on the weird end of things...

On our way out through Chattanooga, TN, we spotted an antique mall and pulled off the interstate to check it out. It was a pretty huge place, so when we got inside we kissed each other goodbye and went off on our separate ways. While my wife loves to look for antique kitchenware, I gravitate to vintage toys. I'm happy to say the place was full of old toys. I'm sorry to say very few of them were of any interest or value, so I returned to the front of the mall to see if I could find my wife.

It was there that I found my treasure, partially hidden by other items in a case. I had walked past it at least once before and hadn't noticed it, but this time it jumped out at me...
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Game
That's right: the geniuses at Parker Brothers made "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" into a board game! And there it was in the display case right in front of me, in a random antique mall outside Chattanooga, TN, -- a place I would, most likely, never set foot in again -- on sale for the ridiculously low price of $10.00! What could I do? I had to have it!

As soon as I had the chance I opened the game to see how it was played, planning to challenge my wife to a game at the earliest opportunity. I don't mind saying, my expectations were pretty high; Parker Brothers have created Monopoly, Clue, Sorry, Risk, Aggravation and countless other classics; surely "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" would rise to the same level.

My expectations soared when I saw the game board was decorated with an image from the movie depicting the "Dark Side of the Moon" UFO landing site at the base of Devil's Tower National Monument. They soared even higher when I began reading the instructions:

"Imagine this: First you see some spaceships. Then your mind becomes possessed: you see visions of Devil's Tower in Wyoming; you hear a weird, mysterious 5-note melody; you travel to Devil's Tower with the hope of boarding the Mother Ship and flying from earth with its crew. You arrive at Devil's Tower only to discover that others have come for the same purpose. You learn that only one of you will be allowed to board. To board the Mother Ship, you must compete against the others in a game, and win."

Okay... that's not exactly how the movie played out, but I get it: they were trying to make a game out of a very non-game-like narrative, so they had to take some liberties. But then I read further into the instructions and found that they really, really loused it up... The point of the game is to get onto the Mother Ship, right? But to actually play the game, you start at Devil's Tower, then journey to the Mother Ship, then back to Devil's Tower, then back to the Mother Ship, ad infinitum, until you "'sound' all five notes of the mystery tune by placing each of your five chips on the board."... or go completely insane from boredom. Because the way the rules are written, it could take years to place even one "chip" on the board, much less five. It's like playing Battleship on an ocean gameboard the size of the actual ocean.

Really, I was ready to cut the game designers a little slack, but they designed a game that is not only completely boring and drama-free, but pointless, brainless and virtually unwinnable, all while having absolutely nothing to do with the actual movie on which it is supposedly based. You never actually hear the crucial five notes, and then the aliens don't even show up, for Christ's sake! My God, it's stupid.

What makes it even worse is this: Columbia Pictures was obviously licensing the hell out of this movie when it came out in 1977, but do you think Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who coined the "Close Encounters" terminology, earned one single penny off of this game?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

My Sincere, Overdue Apology

Under intense pressure from the so-called Roswell Post-It Research Group (RP-IRG), I find I have no choice but to man up and admit that that the figure visible in the Roswell Post-It is not actually a space alien but is, in fact, a drawing. It's not even an ancient drawing. The truth is I drew it last week with a regular old ink pen on a pad of dayglo orange lined Post-Its purchased at the local office supply store.
The "controversial" Roswell Post-It

How did they suss me out so quickly? Maybe they figured out that Post-Its didn't come with lines until 2011. Or that dayglo orange wasn't introduced into the Post-It color scheme until 2013. It could have been either of those things, but it now appears that some guy in the RP-IRG by the name of "Smart DeBlur" (an obvious alias) figured out a way to sharpen up the placard at the bottom of the drawing...

Busted... or scammed?

Damn you, Smart DeBlur.

So now that the truth is out, I keep hearing all these crazy things, like that this fiasco will destroy UFOlogy, and that I should bow out of serious UFO research forever, and that I should give refunds to all the people who laid out their life savings to get a glimpse of my little beasty.

All I can say is, chill out, people, and stop acting like little children. I'm just a normal person like you, and we all make mistakes. I never, ever endorsed this drawing as being of extraterrestrial origin. Furthermore, I was bedazzled by the amount of scientific analysis that went into determining that the Roswell Post-It was of alien origin, and again, you or anybody would have made the same mistake. Also I was pushed onstage.

Does that mean I'm admitting to making a mistake? Hell no. I still believe that the recently released "reading" of the placard by the so-called "Roswell Post-It Research Group" is still open to debate, seeing as how it was taken from a distorted "screen grab" that all of my closest friends, some of whom are science buffs, deemed unreadable. You want to know who is really in need of some "Smart DeBlurring?" It's the quidnuncs in the RP-IRG.

I will also state unequivocally that, while emotions can cause one to outrun one's headlights and run UFOlogy off the road, one did have one's high-beams on, and so cannot be held responsible. In closing, I have no more interest in this matter and fully believe we can and will move on. There remains much work to do.

Again, at this time I consider the matter concluded and intend on moving forward. With my high-beams on.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Kodachrome The Comedy!

Oh, dear. As if the Roswell Slides promoters didn't have enough troubles already...

I just checked out the company that's credited on as the producer of the comedy short known as "Kodachrome," and it's not good.

It's Thursday! Productions is a couple of women who produce a very loud and strange web series called "Long Island Divas." I guess it's a satire of "Real Housewives," but any comedy writer knows you can't do a satire of something that's already played as self-satire. It just lands with a thud, as you'll see when you watch any of their videos...

I'm sure they're very nice people. How they ever got involved with Adam Dew and the Roswell Slides is a mystery for the ages, but then again, Adam Dew seems to have a knack for leeching onto associating himself with people who can further his ambitions.

Of course, this could all be a ruse. I noticed today that the story synopsis for the film -- the synopsis that referred to "two slides" with images of an alien -- had been deleted from sometime in the last few days...

Still, assuming that the production moves forward, I'm thinking the woman on the left will play "Hilda Ray" and the woman on the right will play "Eleanor Roosevelt."

And of course the boy mummy will be played by...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

UFO Crash Team

Since all of UFO world seems to be engaging in wild, unfettered speculation these days, I'm going to engage in a little of my own.

Suppose an alien spacecraft crashed somewhere on earth. Suppose that spacecraft was a "nuts and bolts" construction, i.e., a real physical object.  Once we suppose that, it goes without saying that the beings that built such a craft would be far beyond us in terms of their understanding of science and the cosmos.

With me so far?

If you accept all that, wouldn't it also be reasonable to assume that if that spacecraft crashed somewhere on earth, the aliens would immediately send out a clean-up crew?

That's how I see it. Those things from another world would have their best clean-up crew on the scene so fast it would make a tachyon look like a tortoise. They'd have that crash scene fully CSI'ed and scrubbed clean of every shred of evidence in nanoseconds... if not sooner. They might even manipulate time so that the crash never actually happened!

"Saucer clean-up in Space-Aisle 7! Saucer clean-up in Space Aisle 7!"
As a result, if, let's suppose, a ranch hand came blundering along the crash site the next day, all he would see was, well, whatever a ranch hand normally sees on a ranch... cattle, I guess (non-dismembered).

That's my wild speculation of the day.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

UFO Hoaxsters & Charlatans

Here's something to think about. This is what Dr. J. Allen Hynek had to say about UFO hoaxsters and charlatans:

“(T)here are at present a number of commercially inclined individuals, addicted to sensationalism... who presume to speak and write with flamboyant authority and with na├»ve disregard for scientific accuracy.
Listen to this guy. He makes a lot of sense.
“Such people do a great disservice to everyone but themselves. They capitalize on the wishful thinking of large numbers of people who are legitimately interested in the possibility of space travel, and are intrigued with the idea that other civilizations, living on some far off planet, may be paying periodic visits to our own planet, the earth.
“A clever speaker can, by mixing judicious amounts of space travel science fiction with extravagant and ill-reported accounts of strange events, adding a rumor here and a rumor there (perhaps about the little men who are pickled in bottles and kept in a secret vault at Wright Field!) make a thrilling but highly fictional case for flying saucers.
“If... anyone wants to take the fragmentary reports uncritically, and at face value, a mighty fine story can be fabricated. But that’s all it will be, a fine fabrication.”

Hynek wrote this in an October, 1955 column for the Columbus, Ohio Dispatch

Friday, May 8, 2015

BeWITNESS: The Roswell Post-Its

I didn't want to do this so soon after the big "BeWitness: The Roswell Slides" presentation earlier this week, but, what the hell. All anyone can talk about this week is "Roswell, Roswell, Roswell" (cue the Jan Brady voice) so I've decided to just go with the flow and reveal my bombshell here and now.

That's right, here's the first of the two famous "Roswell Post-Its" you've been hearing so much about the past two years...

They were found in a cardboard box in someone's attic, and an expert at 3M has assured me that they were definitely manufactured in the last century, so I'm feeling pretty good about their provenance. And before you say it, I know what you're going to ask: "even if he can prove the age of the Post-It, can he prove the age of the image on the Post-It?" QED: By dating the ink used, we can verify that the image was indubitably created sometime between 1889 and the present date.

I call her "Hilda"

Note the delicate bone structure, and the paper-like skin. As you can see, it is clearly NOT the remains of a dead human child or monkey. And it is absolutely NOT a mummy.

I also know what you're thinking now: "Hey! You said there were TWO Post-Its! Why are you showing us only one?" Well, because. I'll show the second Post-It when I'm good and ready, meaning "whenever I can book a date at the National Theater in Mexico City."

Thursday, May 7, 2015

When Worlds Collide

Ready for a break from the silly and dispiriting aftermath of the "BeWitness" unveiling of the "Roswell Slides"? I thought so. I am too.

That's why today I'm going to present a fun look back at a very unusual moment in UFO history... 

It took place on April 7, 1952, and it affected the entire country. "It" was the publication of the first article about UFOs to appear in a mainstream, mass-market national periodical, and the first to take the phenomenon seriously.

The periodical was the mighty LIFE Magazine, which, in 1952, dominated newsstands and water cooler conversations in America like no other magazine. When LIFE spoke, the whole country listened. And when LIFE spoke about flying saucers, then flying saucers really meant something.

In the opening paragraph of the story, entitled "Have We Visitors From Space," writers H. B. Darrach Jr. and Robert Ginna make their intentions clear:

“For four years the U.S. public has wondered, worried or smirked over the strange and insistent tales of eerie objects streaking across American skies. Generally the tales have provoked only chills or titters, only rarely, reflection or analysis.”
The story, which bravely delved into the 34 UFO cases that at that time remained unexplained by the Air Force's Project Blue Book, made waves because it actually promoted "reflection and analysis" in considering the UFO phenomenon. But if it wasn't for a strange twist of fate, the article might have gone completely unnoticed by the American public...

The article, you see, had the stupendous good fortune to be published in the April 7, 1952 issue of LIFE bearing a 3/4-bleed photo of the beckoning face and bare shoulders of Marilyn Monroe on its cover. In the first of six appearances the screen beauty would make on the cover of the magazine before her death, only two headlines appear alongside her image: one, quite understandably, reads “Marilyn Monroe, the Talk of Hollywood,” while the other, hovering in space above Monroe’s left shoulder, says “There is a Case For Interplanetary Saucers.” 

Today, LIFE’s website proudly describes the cover as “(W)hat might be the most incongruous clash of word-and-image ever to appear on the cover of LIFE—or on the cover of any magazine, for that matter.” It's hard not to agree.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined directing anyone's gaze above Marilyn Monroe's shoulder... It's a weird world, isn't it?