High Strangeness

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

UFO Sweepstakes!

All this Tom DeLonge/To The Stars Institute stuff flying around the internet these days has got me thinking (reluctantly) about "Capital D" Disclosure.

I get it that a lot of people are desperate for someone to reveal "the truth" about UFOs, and I get it that a lot of people have an unshakeable belief that the government knows this "truth" and is going to reveal it to us all when the time is right. Uncertainty is unbearable for these people -- they need to believe something can be proven about ETs & UFOs -- excuse me: Advanced Aerial Threats (AATs) -- and it seems there's always someone ready to prey on their uncertainty.

That and recent comments here at High Strangeness have forced me to re-examine my beliefs about Disclosure. Don't worry, I still think it's a load of crap. If Disclosure were ever to take place (which it won't), it wouldn't be the government's call. It would be entirely up the the aliens -- assuming they exist -- to reveal their presence to the world, and since they haven't done it yet there's no reason to think they will anytime soon. If they exist.

So, what, then, does my new thinking entail? Well, over the past few days I've been asking myself this question:

"What if I could decide how and when Disclosure was to take place?"

It's kind of a fun idea, I have to admit. In this scenario, I alone have first-hand knowledge that aliens have been visiting the earth and have been influencing human events, and the time has come for me to spill the beans to the estimated 7.6 billion people of earth. How would I do it? Where would I do it? When would I do it?

The first idea I had was that I would present it as a global lottery or sweepstakes:

Win a Weekend With the Aliens! (No purchase necessary) 

We're all suckers for give-aways, so why not incorporate that into the Disclosure plans? I'd launch a year-long, world-wide, enter as often as you want online sweepstakes, and the Grand Prize winner would get to spend three days and two nights as guests of our new alien friends in a luxury suite aboard their UFO. The package would include sightseeing trips to the moon and our neighboring planets, an autographed copy of my book, The Close Encounters Man, and $500 cash.

I'm pretty sure the aliens would go along with it. Sure, it robs them of the long-anticipated landing on the White House lawn, but I think the fact that it would raise their cultural stature from "Visitor From Another Planet" to "Valuable Prize" would more than make up for it. And the winner could pretend to be Richard Dreyfus at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which would be kind of cool.

And I'm sure I could persuade the aliens to kick in a few items of advanced technology that they have lying around as awards for a few thousand runner-ups: ray guns! anti-grav devices! free energy!! Hell, I'd even persuade the aliens to personally present a real free energy device to Tom DeLonge.

As a huge added bonus, by making a big game of it, I ensure that none of that "societal breakdown" business that Disclosure fans worry so much about will come to pass. I don't know, I just think we need put the fun back in Disclosure, and this is the way to do it.

How about you, dear readers? If YOU were in charge of Disclosure, how would you announce the alien presence to the people of earth?

(P.S. Just a few minutes ago I got an email from Tom DeLonge advertising the great values I can find on To The Stars Academy products at his online store)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Best UFO books??

I got this great note on Facebook the other day, and I've been thinking about it a lot. Read the note and then I'll tell you why it's been on my mind...
Hi Mark, I loved your book, and I have mentioned it to several friends only to be met with that look you get when you admit that you believe that UFOs are more that just total nonsense, so I'm sure it's not easy to promote your book. Would you ever consider compiling a reading list for people who share your point of view on the UFO phenomenon? I just read "Passport to Magonia", and "Operation Trojan Horse", but I need to be pointed in the right direction.
First of all, thanks for the compliment, and thanks for trying to get your friends to see the light! Given them time; they might come around.

It is true, though, that it's not easy to promote the book. Just yesterday I was at a big Barnes & Noble and found my book in the far back corner of the store, on the bottom shelf of the last bookcase, in the "UFOs, Aliens and Conspiracy" section. Now, I will cut B&N some slack, as The Close Encounters Man was displayed cover out rather than spine out, so that's good, but still, it's not great real estate for a book that's intended for a mainstream audience.

Well, I am right next to Jim Marrs, which is cool.

But a few minutes later I was perusing the "Science" section, located in the more reputable part of the store, and I came across a startling discovery.

There, right next to a biography of Nikola Tesla and just a few feet from Hidden Figures and the latest from Bill Nye the Science Guy, Mary Roach and Neil deGrasse Tyson, is a book called: UFOs, Chemtrails, and Aliens: What Science Says.
Both books have "UFO" in the title, but this one is a "Science" book and mine isn't? Hmmm....
I'm not saying that this book doesn't belong here, because it does (and it looks like an interesting book, although, I confess, I didn't buy it). I'm just saying my book has an equal claim to being in the "Science" section. And the "Biography" section, for that matter. At times like this I wonder whether my subtitle should have read: "How One Scientist Made the World Believe in UFOs," instead of "One Person."

This is one reason a book like mine can be a challenge to market. But it makes me all the more pleased that my next speaking engagement is taking place as part of the Wisconsin Science Festival -- they got it right!

Anyway, back to the request on Facebook for the recommended UFO books. I must state up front that for the past five years I have only been reading those books that have pertained to J. Allen Hynek's life and work, so I'm not that well versed in more recent work (although I can enthusiastically recommend Leslie Kean's masterful UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record). For that reason, my list of recommended books is perhaps too old-school and outmoded for many, but here goes anyway....

That said, this reader already made a good choices with Jacques Vallee's Magonia and John Keel's Trojan Horse, and I would suggest reading anything by either of those two gents, because they are among the most entertaining UFO writers who ever put pen to paper. Also, even if I hadn't written a book about him I would be obliged to  recommend Dr. J. Allen Hynek's books, The UFO Experience, The Edge of Reality and The Hynek UFO Report, because they are so good. I also love John Fuller's two masterworks, The Incident at Exeter and The Interrupted Journey.

Then, in no particular order, I would recommend the following, all of which are very fun and informative reads, and particularly suited to a reader who desires a good grounding in the UFO phenomenon in its early days:
  • UFOs? Yes! by David R. Saunders
  • Communion by Whitley Streiber
  • Alien Dawn by Colin Wilson
  • A Common Sense Approach to UFOs by Betty Hill
  • UFOs a Scientific Debate by Carl Sagan and Thornton Page
  • Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky by Dr. Carl Jung
  • The UFO Handbook by Allan Hendry
  • The UFO Controversy in America by Dr. David M. Jacobs 
  • The entire digest of the International UFO Reporter, published by the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies (cufos.org)
To be clear, I don't always agree with everything these writers have to say, but I did find these books all engaging and entertaining for a variety of reasons. Case in point: I recommend Communion simply because it is so gloriously wigged out.

How about you? What books would you have on your list?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

UFO Documentary Scam?

This really takes the cake...

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a young filmmaker who said he was making a short YouTube documentary about Dr. J. Allen Hynek based on my book, The Close Encounters Man, and he was offering me the opportunity to edit his script before he went onto production.

It took me a minute or two to absorb this guy's message. He was making a video based on my work... without bothering to ask my permission... but he was hoping I would edit and approve his script... and thereby put my seal of approval... on a product he was clearly filching from me.

Pretty cheeky of him, eh?

Do I want to take part in a UFO documentary? Hmmm...
I told him I had a problem with that, and that I would be consulting my attorney. He claimed that he was within his rights to use my book as source material under the "fair use" provision of copyright law, which is not really true, as he was basically basing everything in his script on my work, no one else's. That's a bit more than "fair use," IMHO. My attorney, meanwhile, was all set to send this guy a cease and desist letter, but I didn't really think he was worth that much effort.

Well, I got busy over the last week or two and forgot all about this guy and his video. Then yesterday he sent me this message:
"I'm aiming to have this video completed by the end of the weekend and will need to know if you'll be requesting any changes to the script."
Although it was the last thing I wanted to do, I took another brief look at his script and found three or four significant inaccuracies right off the bat. But did I want to spend a hunk of my day going over the whole thing and fixing this guy's mistakes? No, I did not. Getting his script right is his job, not mine.

So here's what I wrote back to him:

There are quite a few inaccuracies in your script, and frankly I don't have the time or inclination to edit your writing. You can utilize "Fair Use" of course, to cite The Close Encounters Man for very specific, limited quotes, but I do not give you permission to portray me as sponsoring, approving or participating in your video in any way. Furthermore, you do not have my permission to use any image of my book or of my person in your video.

First world problem, I know, but what a ridiculous waste of my time. And what, really, does it contribute to the discussion?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

UFO Criticism

As readers may know, I love to read reviews of my book, The Close Encounters Man. Bad or good, each review teaches me something, and sometimes they just crack me up. Case in point: the Amazon reviewer who panned my book but made the bizarre statement that he knows more about UFOs than the average person but that he had never heard of J. Allen Hynek before--that guy had me laughing all day.

Then there's this review on Goodreads... It starts out on a fairly positive note in the first paragraph, but then the reviewer writes:
"I had a problem with the way in which the 'landmark' cases that are presented, though - particularly the Socorro, New Mexico report of an alleged landing by patrolman Lonnie Zamora - which are not just discussed uncritically; most of them are presented as fact."
Obviously the reviewer means this as a criticism, but I don't take it that way at all. Of course I presented the landmark UFO cases as though they had actually happened; that was one of the basic concepts of the book, and one of the first creative decisions I made about how I would write the book.

This UFO was seen and photographed by J. Allen Hynek
When I was researching the UFO book market way back in the early days of the project, I came to realize that there are essentially two kinds of UFO books out there:

  1. Objective UFO books written by scholars and journalists--they're impressively researched and uniformly well-written, but because the authors want to maintain their critical credentials, they studiously distance themselves from the absurd and sensational qualities of the phenomenon, thus robbing it of its entertainment value.
  2. Subjective UFO books written by UFO enthusiasts and "experts"--they're chock full of fun UFO facts and details and anecdotes and they fully embrace the absurd and sensational qualities of the UFO phenomenon, sometimes to the extreme, but the sad truth is that UFO enthusiasts and "experts" are not always very good writers.
So I set out to write a book that would cut right through the middle, presenting the UFO phenomenon as a reality to the persons reporting the events while fully embracing the absurd and the sensational. I wanted to write something that was educational and informative, but unabashedly entertaining as well. I know that it's the absurdity and sensationalism that draw me the phenomenon, so why try to pretend it isn't a factor, or that it's beneath me somehow to take it seriously?

To that end I approached every UFO case I wrote about from as many of these sources as I could find:
  • The witness's first-hand account of the event
  • The media's depiction of the event
  • The Air Force investigator's report of the event
  • Dr. Hynek's investigative reports and conclusions
  • My own interviews with witnesses or people associated with the case or its investigation
Of course I didn't always have all five of these sources available for every case (the Air Force, for instance, did not officially investigate UFO cases after 1969), but this was my goal, and I could almost always round up at least three of the five for every case, because, guess what: UFO cases get written about a LOT (even lame ones)!

So, that means that throughout the book I present the UFO events as fact, in the eyes and words of the witnesses. I accept J. Allen Hynek's philosophy, often stated in his UFO case reports, that "the witness experienced something very real, although at this time we cannot say what it was," or, more simply, "I believe the experience was very real to the witness." To present the events any other way would, in my opinion, cast doubt on the witnesses and create a strong bias of disbelief in the reader, and in that case, why write the book at all? Much better, I think, to take the witnesses' testimony at face value and then see where Dr. Hynek's research led him in trying to explain and understand the witnesses' experiences.

Maybe you agree with my approach, maybe not, but I'm not going to apologize for presenting UFO events "as fact," because that's exactly how they were experienced by the witnesses.

Now, as to this Goodbooks reviewer's other knocks:
  • Fair call on me not catching that Carl Sagan's trademark "billions and billions" of stars originated in a Johnny Carson spoof.
  • Not fair call on me supposedly not knowing that Dr. Hynek had seen UFOs--read P. 332 of my book.
  • Also not fair call that I didn't read Dr. Hynek's book The Edge of Reality--I've read the book at least three times and I reference it on P. 311-313 and 354. I think maybe this reviewer just stopped reading my book at page 310! 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Surprise UFO Letter

I'm still kind of in shock from this...

Some readers may know that UFO and conspiracy author Jim Marrs wrote a cover blurb for my book a short time before he passed away this year. I was thrilled with his generous comments on The Close Encounters Man--but saddened that I never got the chance to get to know the man.

Well, the other day my editor Mxxxxxx forwarded me a letter he had gotten from Mr. Marrs' longtime assistant, Mxxxxxx, and I was bowled over by what she had to say. Here is her letter, reprinted with her kind permission:

To introduce myself, I am Jim Marrs' old assistant.
I just wanted to let the other shoe drop as the dust now settles over the Jim Marrs estate since his death on August second.
About three or so weeks before his passing, Jim handed me the envelope enclosing the manuscript of "The Close Encounters Man" and he didn't say much, just gave me a hard look over the rim of his glasses.  "Read this, it is good." is what he said.
I have just finished this fine work and I think one of the reason's he loved it so was that it was a desire of Jim's to have something done regarding his own life on this caliber.  He was most impressed with the tenor of the book, how well researched and the tenderness of dealing with the demise of Dr. Hynek at the end.  Jim was in this stage of decline when he read this manuscript and he had lost the use of his right eye before he finished this book and it wasn't easy for him to get to the end because of his failing vision, but he did.  This was the last book Jim Marrs ever read.  I just wanted you to know this point.  I hold this manuscript now as a priceless treasure!
Jim Marrs grew up from a young boy dreaming about UFO's, and even did a watercolor of one when he was 9 years old.  (I have that too.)  And it is interesting that the last book he read was the somewhat frustrating life of another UFO researcher, albeit a scientist and not a journalist like Jim.  This book brought Jim full circle. 
I cried when I read the last line thanking the aliens.  Nice touch!
Best regards,
I wrote back to thank her for her kind letter, and this is what she wrote back (also reprinted with her permission):
You are most welcome Mark.  I was Jim's assistant for over ten years.  You kind of know what he means when he looked you in the eyes after a time.  He couldn't say much toward the end...but he forcefully shoved that envelope with your manuscript into my hands.  I told him I would read it.  Took me a couple of months because we had his whole estate to go through and he was a collector!  The manuscript had become a comfort when I would go to bed and it was there waiting for me, page by page. (I am not really a single woman, the other side of my bed is filled with books)  Kind of hated to finish it (I read many manuscripts for him over the years)...each thing I do distances me from him.  He was lively and kind and almost always positive except when there was a slow car up ahead, then he would get angry!  lol

He did appreciate your book and I know he enjoyed the content and the flow of the biography.  Nicely done from my point of view as well.  I throughly enjoyed all the historic nuance you brought in like how all the UFO groups gossiped and quipped amongst themselves, which is still going on today. Most tenderly I love how you said that Hynek "entered the supersensible realm." I may steal that one in the future. I imagine Jim and Allen having a nice chat with each other with an audience!  Even enjoyed your acknowledgements, not just names mentioned but why and how they helped you.  Job well done and there were no mistakes I could see! I hope your sales go through the roof.  I have endorsed this book on my facebook. It was a book that needed to be written!
As you might imagine, I am quite blown away by this.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

UFOs and Politics

I just don't know where to go with this...

Florida Republican Who Once Claimed Alien Abduction Announces House Bid
Either Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera has been watching too much Syfy Channel or she’s really just that special. We’ll probably never know for sure.
That's the lead-in to a news article that was making the rounds yesterday. A self-professed alien abductee is running for Congress in Florida, and now it's open season on people who report UFO encounters. The crack about "watching too much SyFy Channel" is particularly obnoxious.

The article continues:
No matter, the 59-year-old Republican, who once recalled in an interview a visit from three blond-haired aliens who took her aboard their spacecraft, is running for Florida’s 27th District seat being vacated by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

“I went in. There were some round seats that were there, and some quartz rocks that controlled the ship — not like airplanes,” Rodriguez Aguilera said in a 2009 television spot, the Miami Herald reported.

Though Rodriguez Aguilera’s extraterrestrial tale is suspect, her political credentials and pedigree are not.
Of course, her "extraterrestrial tale is suspect," because that's the typical knee-jerk reaction by a reporter who needs to portray him- or herself as above it all.

Now, I'm not always thrilled with abduction tales, because they do strain the limits of the Strangeness scale, and they give reporters like this easy targets. But I know, and have written about, several people who have had similar experiences to this woman in Florida, and I have complete faith in their sincerity. And I give this woman credit for speaking openly about her experience in the political arena; that's not easy to do. But this aspect of her story could easily overshadow everything else from here on out. I just hope her opponent leaves it alone.