High Strangeness

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

UFO Reunion

Every once in a while, my involvement in UFO research brings me a chance to take part in a really fun event. Going to Connecticut a few years back to meet movie special effects genius Douglas Trumbull and see the debut of his UFOTOG tracking system was one. Going to Ann Arbor, Michigan last March to take part in Michigan MUFON's celebration of the 50th anniversary of the infamous "swamp gas" case was another.

The other day, another of these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities arose, and like the first two it came about because of my involvement in MUFON. Earlier this week I saw a posting on the facebook group for MUFON State Directors that piqued my interest (yes, technically, I shouldn't belong to the group as I am an ex-MUFON officer, but they haven't given me the boot yet, so...). The message was from a MUFON officer from Wyoming who is trying to put together an event in 2017 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which I think is a brilliant idea.
Who could we get to sponsor it?

The last 30 minutes of the 1977 film take place at "The Dark Side of the Moon," a secret UFO landing base that our government has built at the foot of Devil's Tower National Monument in northeast Wyoming, and this MUFON guy wants to hold the event there, at Devils Tower! Brilliant!

In his message, he explained that he would be in charge of planning the event, and he had no idea how to start, or who to contact as speakers for the event. So, naturally, I offered him a suggestion...

It's too early to say whether this event will take place. He's talking about a September, 2017 event, which gives him lots of time, but the logistics are daunting. Devil's Tower is in the middle on nowhere. Hell, Wyoming is in the middle of nowhere. How do you get enough people to an event in the middle of nowhere to make the event pay for itself, even turn a profit? I was just exchanging emails with my sister-in-law Cxxxx about it, and she suggested a mashed potato sculpture competition or mashed potato wrestling. I think those are both genius ideas, but will they attract enough people?

In any case, if the event comes to pass, I've expressed my interest in taking part, and my willingness to reach out to Doug Trumbull. It could be fun!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

UFO Through the Window

My first MUFON case since returning to the fold was shaping up to be a real nothingburger, but instead it has taken some interesting twists and turns.

In my last post, I expressed my reservations about my new Wisconsin state MUFON director and her work methods. Since then, she has shown a willingness to accept that I'm not going to do things her way, so maybe there's hope. She had assigned me a case in which a young couple saw a strange light in the evening sky as they drove home from shopping. My director really seemed to want this case to be about telepathic orbs, so I wasn't sure if she would accept my case disposition that the couple had simply seen a reflection of sunlight in the clouds. But, she did, and so we're cool. For now.

But, when I was interviewing the couple in this case along with my new MUFON co-investigator, I couldn't help noticing that the wife seemed to be very concerned, as if she was carrying some weight on her shoulders but didn't want to talk about it. My cohort had gotten the same impression from her. So I wasn't completely surprised when she emailed me yesterday to tell me that there was more to the story... And what a story it is.

The woman told me that she had been having strange experiences since she was five, when she had an incident with a green light outside her bedroom window. The light came into her room, and she was terrified that aliens were trying to "suck" her out of the window. She said her dad told her the next day that he had seen green light outside the house. From that night on, she told me, she would wait until everyone else in the family was asleep then sneak onto her parents' bedroom and sleep on the floor.

She also told me of recurring dreams of alien Armageddon that she had had off and on in her life. That is not so strange to me, as I have learned that a LOT of people have recurring alien Armageddon dreams, but one version of her dream was particularly interesting. It involved her and her whole class at school being taken from their school bus, lined up and made to kneel on the ground while "strange people" stuck needles in the soles of their feet, so that the strange people could keep track of them. The woman claims that she still has the mark on her foot.

She also said that these childhood experiences have absolutely no connection to the report she filed a few weeks ago about the light in the sky, which I think is a pretty interesting detail.

Honestly, I'm not sure what I think of this, but I am intrigued. This is one of those rare cases where it feels like an episode of the X Files just landed in my lap. My working theory is that the woman reported the light in the sky as a trial balloon, to see if MUFON would respond and to see how we would treat the case. That doesn't mean I mistrust her motives or her childhood memories, but I would need to know a whole lot more before deciding whats going on. All I can say is that she and her husband seemed sincere when we met with them last week.

So, I told her that she had three choices: First, if all she needed was to get this story off her chest to someone who would hear her out without making fun of her, and now that she has she doesn't need to go any further with it, that's cool. Case closed. Second, if she wanted to report the other experiences to MUFON, then my State Director would get involved, and all hell would break loose. Third, if she wasn't sure what she wanted to do, we could just keep the lines of communication open and I would respect any decision she might make. I have not heard back from her, and there's a good chance I may not.

I did notify my State Director, however, and guess what? Not only is she already 100% certain that we're dealing with a contact phenomenon that passes from mother to daughter, but she is all set to mobilize MUFON's alien abduction SWAT Team and she's already contacted a time-regression hypnotist...

Which makes this the first time I've ever felt that I need to protect a witness from MUFON.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

My New UFO Headache

If you're as ancient as me, you may remember the opening sequence from the brilliant 1960's spy show, "The Prisoner," in which the unnamed spy played by Patrick McGoohan angrily resigns from his unnamed spy agency after bursting through the doors to his boss' office. It looked like this:

Well, I may be close to doing something very much like this with my new boss at MUFON. In fact, I may have just done it!

Regular readers may recall that about a year ago I took a leave of absence from my post as a MUFON Certified UFO Field Investigator as I finished my Hynek book. A few weeks ago I decided to rejoin and get back in on the fun, partly because this work really is fascinating, and partly because I may still want to write a book about my adventures as a UFO investigator, and to do that I need more material.

In the year I was gone, however, much has changed. Wisconsin has a new State Director, and she and I are matter and anti-matter, if you know what I mean.

Things started out badly in our first exchange. She informed me in no uncertain terms that she expects me to respond to her emails the same day, no exceptions--and this woman writes a LOT of emails. I wrote back and politely informed her that I would endeavor to respond to her emails in a timely manner, but that it probably wouldn't be the same day.

Next she insisted that I buy this $20 book about orbs written by some MUFON guy, because it turns out that she thinks every UFO reported to MUFON is an orb with telepathic abilities. I politely informed her that I will not be buying the book, but that hasn't kept her from "suggesting" every few days that I buy it. She has shared several of her orb case reports with me, and when it comes to her case dispositions, she says that "natural and man-made causes have been ruled out." I asked her how she had ruled out natural and man-made causes, and she basically said it was because she knew they were orbs.

Then yesterday she emailed me to say that she had contacted a witness in one of the cases she had assigned to me, to "introduce" me as the investigator who will be handling her sighting. Only problem is, I have already emailed this witness twice and introduced myself twice, which my State Director already knows.

I find this embarrassing and problematic, so I wrote to my SD tonight and told her so. I stated my belief that it is confusing to a witness to be contacted by multiple people in the organization. Then I stated my belief that when she "introduces" me to a witness to whom I have already introduced myself, not once but twice, it makes us look like unorganized amateurs. Then I stated my belief that by contacting a witness in my case behind my back, she sends me the message that she doesn't trust me to do my job.

On top of that, I am about to submit my first new case report, and I know she's going to hate it, because she was pretty sure the witness was receiving telepathic messages from the orb, but the witness told me that she did not receive any messages, telepathic or otherwise, from the object. Ouch.

I am not looking forward to my new boss' next email. It's not going to be good.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Beating a Dead UFO

So, the other day I did a webcast with noted UFO authority and all-around nice guy Kevin Randle (you can listen to it here), in which we discussed the Roswell Debate I had recently with Don Schmitt. The debate, for those of you new to the story, took place at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference earlier this fall. It was sponsored by well-known UFO and paranormal media outlet KGRA Radio, but after webcasting the debate live, KGRA has decided for reasons known only to them to reneg on their promise to post the debate on their website.

This is a problem to me for two reasons. First is the censorship issue: if you squelch dissenting voices and viewpoints, you're doing your listeners a disservice and keeping them in the dark, the exact opposite of what a media outlet is supposed to do. You're also engaging in what you might call a "cover-up," which I had thought was a dirty word in UFO circles. Second is the professional ethics issue: a big reason I did the debate was so that it could be heard online by an international audience, and by reneging on their promise to post the recording of the show, the people at KGRA have pretty much shafted me and the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference. I have a very low tolerance for people who break promises and reneg on deals. It shows a real spinelessness.

An early Xmas present from my wife! From growupawesome.com
So, anyway, Kevin and I had a good conversation on his show. We went over a lot of the content of the debate, and while we didn't agree on everything, we found common ground on a lot of issues and ultimately decided that there wasn't a whole lot more worth saying about Roswell. UFOlogy, I believe, has already moved on.

So it surprised me when, off the air, Kevin and his producer brought up the idea of having me and Schmitty do another Roswell Debate live on Kevin's show. They both thought it was a swell idea, and then they thought it would be even better if we did if for three hours instead of just one. And then they thought it would be an even better idea to have Tom Carey join Don Schmitt's side of the debate. Needless to say, the idea held very little appeal, but I hated to snuff out their enthusiasm, so I told them I wouldn't be able to commit to anything until after my book comes out next May and said we should talk again after that.

Then I thought about it over the holiday and realized that I won't want to talk about it in May any more than I do now. I have absolutely no interest in participating in another Roswell Debate.

Some decisions in life are hard, some are easy. This one was easy. Taking part in another Roswell Debate, I realized, would be a complete waste of my time and energy. Not only would it feel like beating a dead UFO, but it would only serve to legitimize Don Schmitt and his work, by keeping it in the spotlight. That is absolutely the wrong thing to be doing right now.

Also, somewhere along the line, Roswell has just become really, really boring to me...

What's the right thing to be doing right now? For me, it's working on my book. As my editor and I bang out a final draft of the manuscript, I'm also working on selecting photos and illustrations to use in the book, and securing permission from people who own the rights to those images. I thought the whole photo rights thing would be fraught with complications, but it's been amazingly trouble-free, and I am psyched about the images we're going to have in the book!

I had imagined using some great UFO photos, but after going over what there was available I came to the conclusion that UFO photographs pretty much suck, across the board. So, instead, we're using illustrations and artwork connected with some classic cases, and I couldn't be more excited. Where UFOs are concerned, at least, artwork is so much more evocative than photographs... I think it's because photographs represent an attempt to portray the physicality of UFOS, and if there's one thing that UFOs persistently refuse to give up, it's physical proof of their nature and existence. Illustrations, on the other hand, capture more of the psychological nature of UFO sightings. Yes, they're more subjective, but if you're not trying to prove one thing or another that doesn't really matter. Illustrations are about gut feelings, and what could be more interesting than that?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The REAL Roswell UFO Cover-up!

It looks as though the great Roswell Debate may not be posted on KGRARadio.com any time soon, if ever. That's the only conclusion I can draw from the fact that I haven't heard a thing from KGRA host Race Hobbs since this message, sent to me on October 18:
"I sure will (post a copy of the debate) as soon as our copy is done. Tea said he had a video guy recording the first part but not the last side of the debate, which I have recorded.
"We will let you know, Mark, and by the way, you did a really good job my man!"
Ok, I appreciate that, but it's been a couple weeks now, and if the debate was in fact recorded, and if Race thinks I did such a kick-ass job debating Don Schmitt, why hasn't it been posted anywhere yet? And why hasn't Race responded to my follow-up email?

Think about it: KGRA was the damned sponsor of the debate, and they haven't posted it. Did it maybe not turn out the way they expected it to?
Could this be why KGRA hasn't posted the Roswell Debate? After all, their man RD was up on that stage in Mexico City ...

In lieu of the actual debate, then, I'll just share a few items of interest.

First up is this message sent the day after the debate by my niece Rxxxxx to my daughter Dxxxxx. My niece had a vendor table at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, you see, and this is what she heard in the vendor's room after the debate:
"The consensus of many people I've been eavesdropping on was that Uncle Mark fucking killed whoever that other guy was in the debate."
Not very scientific, I'll grant you, but my niece would never tell a lie.

Also, my sister Mxxxx the lawyer said I won the debate by virtue of the fact that Don Schmitt kept agreeing with me! Ha!

I'll tell you one thing we did not agree on, however. At a couple points in the debate, I quoted some statements that Dr. J. Allen Hynek had made during his career that pretty much shot the legs out from under Don's 30-some years of Roswell "research."

First was this quote from a 1975 letter Hynek wrote to Dr. Carl Sagan, in which he stated, "I do not, and have never, supported the idea that UFOs were nuts-and-bolts hardware from some very distant place."

Next, I quoted from an OMNI Magazine interview published in February, 1985, in which Hynek said the following:
"To be honest I don't like to talk about crashed saucers, because I am in a position to mobilize public belief. If I came out and held a press conference to say that a saucer has landed and and the creatures were in deep freeze at Wright Field, quite a few people would believe me. But it wouldn't necessarily be true, and it certainly wouldn't be science... I won't jeopardize my reputation for the sake of a story."
Well, these quotes seriously bugged Don, but instead of rebutting the quotes, guess what he did? He explained to all gathered that Dr. Hynek was suffering from brain cancer at the time he said these things, and only said them because he was experiencing diminished brain capacity!

That's right, according to Don Schmitt, Dr. Hynek was suffering from severely impaired judgement and didn't know what he was saying when he disagreed with Don's "research." Don's implication was that if Dr. Hynek had been of sound mind, he would not have said these things and would, in fact, have wholeheartedly agreed with Don's theories.

What a load of crap. Of all the cheap, sleazy ways to defend yourself, Don's characterization of Dr. Hynek disagreeing with him only because he was mentally incapacitated is the cheapest and sleaziest by a mile.

What do you think?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Backstage at The Great Roswell Debate

Now that the Great Roswell Debate between me and Don Schmitt is in the history books, I can talk a little about some of the backstage drama leading up to the event.

A few short days ago, it was looking as though the Debate would be called off.  What could cause such a catastrophe, you ask? You may not believe this, but there was a some last-minute hanky-panky perpetrated by Mr. Schmitt that threatened to derail the whole thing and leave a couple hundred angry people demanding their money back. Don may be used to that, but I'm not.

Several days ago, I got a panicky email from Tea Krulos, the amazing organizer of the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, informing me that Don wanted to show a video as part of his 3-minute opening statement. Tea and the debate moderator were uncomfortable with the last-minute demand, and the fact that Don wouldn't let them see the video, but asked me if I would be ok if they allowed it. At first blush I thought the video idea was harmless enough, but then I read up a little on debate rules and discovered this:
 "Visual materials are permissible, and once introduced, they become available for the opponents' use if desired."
I ran this past Tea and the debate moderator and asked if this meant Don was required to share his video with us before the debate, and they said, why, yes it does!

So, they communicated that to Don and he refused. Not only did he refuse, he told them that if they continued to demand access to the video that he would drop out of the debate.

Wow. So, suddenly, this innocent little video has taken on a very menacing aspect... Tea and the moderator are upset because Don is making a mockery of the debate, and I'm worried that the video might contain some personal attack (and, yes, there is precedence for this). And Don absolutely refuses to share the video. Tea is ready to pull the plug on the whole thing, and for a day or two, things are looking very precarious...

Then, out of the blue, Don shares the video with Tea and the moderator, and Tea sends the video along to me with this note:
"Um...ok, Don forwarded his video. This is unexpected!"
I watch the video, and I'm gobsmacked. It's an ancient George Carlin stand-up comedy routine--well, it's a rant, really, and it's not funny at all--in which Carlin warns his audience that the world is run by an unnamed powerful elite who screw us over in every way imaginable, and we're all blind to what's going on around us, and we're all basically fucked.


For a day or so after watching the video, Tea and the debate moderator and I exchange a long train of emails, in which we basically ask each other "WTF?" over and over again. Tea and the moderator ask me to explain Don Schmitt to them, and I can't. I just can't. They're still thinking of pulling the plug on the whole thing.

However, Tea and the debate moderator are now very amenable to my comments and suggestions, and they come up with a plan we can all agree on:
  1. Don can show his video as his opening statement, but because he's allotted 3 minutes for his opening statement and the video is 3 minutes long, the video will be his opening statement.
  2. Don has to present his video before I give my opening statement, giving me the chance to respond directly to the video.
  3. Because the moderator is suspicious that Don will try to pull a switcheroo and play a different video the day of the debate, Don will not be allowed anywhere near a laptop; only the debate moderator can show the video.
Fun, right?

Here's the point in the blog post where I should be posting a link to KGRARadio.com so that you can go there to listen to their archived webcast of the debate, but they don't seem to have posted it yet. I have emailed the dude in charge at KGRA for that information, and will post it here when I hear back from him... Which could be a while, because to date he has not responded to any of my messages.

Along those same lines, a reader here commented that he tried to listen to the webcast live yesterday afternoon, but that KGRA was playing some other program. I don't want to jump to conclusions, but... KGRA is a major sponsor of the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, and if they did NOT webcast the debate, I'd be interested to know why... If any of you out there were able to listen to the webcast Saturday afternoon without any trouble, please let me know!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Roswell Hiccup

Oh no!

Don Schmitt has just asked the moderators of The Great Roswell Debate that he be able to show a video as part of his opening statement! I think it's a bit fishy that he is trying to modify the terms of the debate only 9 days ahead of the event, but more than that, the rules of debate, as I interpret them,
Lest we forget how this whole thing started...
seem to make this a bit dicey for Don. Here's what they say:

Visual materials are permissible, and once introduced, they become available for the opponents' use if desired.

But Don, I am told, is not willing to make the video available... Will this be a problem? What could be in that video? Does he have some kind of "October Surprise" in store? Inquiring minds want to know...