High Strangeness

Friday, February 16, 2018

High UFO Hopes


I’ve been guilty of neglecting my blog for the past few months, and I feel bad about it. There are a couple reasons for my neglect, the most immediate one being that I went through a period of fairly serious burnout on UFOs after my book The Close Encounters Man came out. After five-plus years of total immersion in UFO arcana and the life and times of J. Allen Hynek, I’ve felt the need to get away from it all, so I have!


At least, I’ve tried. The goofy New York Times story in early December about the alleged 2007-2012 Secret Pentagon UFO Study made it pretty difficult to keep UFOs at arm’s length. And the fact that absolutely nothing positive has come of that “bombshell” news and that every day that the To The Stars Academy fails to follow up their bombastic PR with any substance of any kind has, from my perspective, cast a pall over UFOlogy that it really didn’t need.


These days I’m neglecting the blog for a fairly positive reason, however. I’ve been developing a new media project based on some of the material in my book (and some of the material that I just wasn’t able to fit into my book). Five years of research into the UFO field, combined with five years of investigating UFO sightings for MUFON, has a way of filling up a lot of filing cabinets and a lot of thumb drives, and I find myself awash in amazing, astonishing and entertaining – and sometimes downright creepy -- UFO stories that deserve to be told.


Whenever I spend any amount of time going through my old files and revisiting some of my experiences in this field, I am struck by the sheer weight of the material. Strange things have been seen by so many people -- so many things that have startled and terrified and changed the lives of witnesses, left them struggling to find ways to communicate their experiences and their resulting inner tumult, because we just don’t the right kinds of words in our terrestrial vocabularies -- that I just can’t let these stories sit there, untold. It would be criminal.


But how to tell them? That is the question.


I can’t share any details about this project, at least not yet, and it will likely take many months to unfold. All I can tell you for now is that I’m having a blast developing this, and that if it succeeds it may change the way the public looks at UFOs and the people who claim to have seen them. As usual, I have pretty high hopes.


Speaking of weird, creepy UFO encounters, I’ve recently found that I may have been very wrong about a certain creepy UFO story. Fortunately, it’s not a story that I wrote up in my book, but it did come up more than once when I was doing publicity interviews. A couple people asked me what I thought of J. Allen Hynek’s involvement in “The Bennewitz Affair,” which, I admit, threw me for a loop. I wasn’t very familiar with it the first time it came up, so I didn’t feel I could give an informed answer, but I read up on it, and when the question came up again, I was able to give what I thought was a fairly solid reply.


For those of you not aware, Paul Bennewitz lived near some US military bases in New Mexico the 1980s. He reported seeing strange aerial craft in the skies near the bases, then claimed that he was intercepting electronic messages emanating from spaceships. At one point, the story goes, Dr. J. Allen Hynek (my hero) said that he was enlisted to deliver a bogus alien signal receptor to Bennewitz, as part of a government operation to discredit the man.


While aspects of this tale seem strikingly believable, I didn’t buy the part about Hynek’s involvement, for the following reasons:
  • There didn't seem to be much need to discredit Bennewitz, a man who was already regarded as somewhat balmy 
  • I had never found any indication that Hynek was still working for the government in the early 1980s
  • It seemed very much out of character for Hynek to take part in such a cruel enterprise
Well, a UFO researcher who I admire and respect a great deal recently told me that the Bennewitz affair was a "lingering shadow" in Hynek's career, and that it needs to be "re-examined."


Maybe I'm the one to do the re-examination...


Stay tuned!




Sunday, February 4, 2018

UFO Secrets in Rubbermaid Bins -- Part V

Ok, I've just solved a mystery that's been puzzling me for the past eight days. First, reader Tim pointed out that a recent comment by Dr. Jacques Vallee had been deleted from this blog, then Dr. Vallee informed me that two of his comments were deleted, and then when I went to check just now I found that there were actually three comments from Dr. Vallee that had gone into hiding.
No, I do not make bad comments disappear into the cornfield!

I do not delete comments; never have, never will. The suggestion that I might be making reader comments disappear into the cornfield (there's a little Twilight Zone reference for you) has been of great concern. As I am the administrator of this blog, it makes sense that I would be able to delete reader comments (while also allowing readers to delete their own comments, of course), but I hadn't deleted anything.

So I finally had a chance to look into it this morning, and guess what? The comments weren't deleted. Blogger put three comments by Dr. Vallee dated January 23, 2018 into my spam box. That's eight days ago. Apparently they have been sitting there in my spam box for eight days, which means I would have had ample time to delete them if I had wanted to, but I didn't, because I don't do that kind of thing.

I have no idea what it could have been about these three comments that would flag them as spam. This has never happened before on High Strangeness to the best of my knowledge, but I think we've all learned something here today...

So... I have "unspammed" Dr. Vallee's comments and they are there for all to see, but if you're too lazy to go looking for them, I will paste them here. Enjoy!



In an email to Mark on 22 December 2017 I reminded him that Allen Hynek (who once honestly thought the character was based on Poher, as he told me himself) had not been aware of many developments that occurred during the filming of Close Encounters and of the way characters evolved. As Mark correctly points out, "Lacombe" was initially an American. Steven Spielberg clarified the issue in person during one of our meetings in Hollywood at a lunch with Marcia Seligson, who reported on it in a 1977 article ("Not Alone" in New West, 7 Nov. 1977) that I submitted to Mark, so I am surprised the misunderstanding continues. I can post that article again if that can help clarify the issue further. Not only did Steven Spielberg tell Marcia and me that the character was based on me, but he added that he had read my book Anatomy of a Phenomenon (1965) when he was a young cinematographer and that he had been intrigued by the character of a Frenchman investigating UFOs in the US, as I did. To now on UFO Secrets in Rubbermaid Bins -- Part II


Hi Tom, Thanks for pointing out that my comment was deleted by some technical glitch. I obviously have a primary right to comment on this issue, so I am posting it again: "In an email to Mark on 22 December 2017 I reminded him that Allen Hynek (who once honestly thought the character was based on Poher, as he told me himself) had not been aware of many developments that occurred during the filming of Close Encounters and of the way characters evolved. "As Mark correctly points out, "Lacombe" was initially an American. Steven Spielberg clarified the issue in person during one of our meetings in Hollywood at a lunch with Marcia Seligson, who reported on it in a 1977 article ("Not Alone" in New West, 7 Nov. 1977) that I submitted to Mark, so I am surprised the misunderstanding continues. I can post that article again if that can help clarify the issue further. "Not only did Steven Spielberg tell Marcia and me that the character was based on me, but he added that he had read my on UFO Secrets in Rubbermaid Bins -- Part II



I don't understand why my prior entries were deleted. I am re-posting this comment to Mark O’Connell: ============== "In an email to Mark on 22 December 2017 I reminded him that Allen Hynek (who once honestly thought the character was based on Poher, as he told me himself) had not been aware of many developments that occurred during the filming of Close Encounters and of the way characters evolved. "As Mark correctly points out, "Lacombe" was initially an American. Steven Spielberg clarified the issue in person during one of our meetings in Hollywood at a lunch with Marcia Seligson, who reported on it in a 1977 article ("Not Alone" in New West, 7 Nov. 1977) that I submitted to Mark, so I am surprised the misunderstanding continues. I can post that article again if that can help clarify the issue further. "Not only did Steven Spielberg tell Marcia and me that the character was based on me, but he added that he had read my book Anatomy of a Phenomenon (1965) when he was a young on UFO Secrets in Rubbermaid Bins -- Part II

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Finally, a UFO Koozie That I Can Get Behind!

As always, there are a million things we can talk about in UFO world, and lately I've barely had time or energy to keep up with current UFO affairs here at High Strangeness. That's why it was so reassuring to be reminded yesterday that UFOlogy is in good hands, and that good work continues to be done by dedicated researchers.

I got this important reminder by way of an email from serious UFO research group "To The Stars Academy" with this killer subject line:


😎Keep It Cool With a Free Koozie😎

I know what you're thinking: Too Good To Be True!

I thought the same thing at first. How can they afford to give away Koozie promotional products? But it IS true! Free Koozies for everyone!!

How can you not get excited about a free Koozie promotional product? Koozies are cheap, they keep your beer relatively cool for 2 or 3 minutes, and just look at the groovy UFO-themed designs available:

Can a simple Koozie do what decades of research has failed to do?
And all you have to do is purchase a To The Stars Academy t-shirt, book, lapel pin or guitar strap. And you can feel good knowing that your money is going to strengthen UFO research.

It is, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

UFO Secrets in Rubbermaid Bins -- Part IV

Submitted for your approval: the infamous Hynek interview with the infamous "Poher" quote...

(Please note that on the 4th & 5th pages, the Hynek interview is on top half of the page and a Spielberg interview in on the bottom half)

(Also please note that Dr. Hynek's name is misspelled. You gotta love those fanzines!)


UFO Secrets in Rubbermaid Bins -- Part III

Let's say you're doing research on a biography you're writing, and you come across an obscure published interview with the subject of your book. Let's say that, in that interview, the subject of your book states as fact something that takes you completely by surprise because it flies in the face of a story that has been told and repeated over and over again for decades.

WHO IS LACOMBE??

What do you do? Do you use that newly-discovered quote in your book, because it sheds new light on your understanding of the subject of your biography, or do you ignore it, reinforce the conventional wisdom and preserve the status quo? Which would you do?

If you choose to ignore the newly-discovered quote, are you being fair to the subject of your book? Are you writing the best account of your subject's life and work that you possibly can?

On the other hand, if you choose to go with the newly-discovered quote, are you being unfair or accusatory in any way to the parties that have repeated the "old" narrative for decades? Are you guilty of insulting those parties if you use that new quote? Are you accusing those parties of being liars? After all, it's not you who uttered the quote; it's the subject of your book who said it. In a published interview. That has been around since 1978. If there's anybody for those parties to be mad at, isn't it the subject of your biography himself for saying the thing in the first place back in 1978 (or perhaps themselves for not protesting the quote when it was first published)?

That's what we've got here. As the researcher and author, you can't retract or apologize for something you didn't say. I doubt any writer or journalist would disagree with that.

Stay tuned: I have to run for now, but when I get back I'm going to post the original interview that started this whole thing...

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Danger of Wanting "Tic Tac" UFOS to Be Real

The danger of wanting to UFOs to be real is on display everywhere, it seems.  Wherever you look, people are believing all sorts of ridiculous things about UFOs, and that's not good news for those of us who take this phenomenon seriously.

I just tweeted over the weekend that even though 36 days had passed since the NY Times story about the alleged Secret Pentagon UFO study from 2007 to 2012, and the dramatic aerial encounter between Navy pilots and aerial tic tacs, we still hadn't seen any proof of anything from Luiz Elizondo and his pals at the "To The Stars Academy." People immediately responded to my post by informing me that the U.S. Air Force has confirmed that UFOs are "real," and that it's perfectly ok for the "TTS Academy" to release its alleged UFO "proof" in increments, and that Dr. J. Allen Hynek would be super excited that we're close to solving the UFO mystery that he worked so hard to solve during his lifetime.
Know what else looks like a tic-tac from a distance?

My responses to those assertions are, in order:
  • The Pentagon has confirmed that the program existed, but has not confirmed that UFOs are real. There's a big difference.
  • Real scientists don't release the results of their work "in increments." If they did they'd be booted out of the scientific community on their keysters.
  • Hynek would be royally PO'd at the TTS Academy turning UFO research into a revenue-generating public relations and ecommerce carnival.
Then it got worse. This morning I was poking around on reddit and came across this very serious-looking thread entitled: "Pentagon's Disclosure of Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP)," and it wasn't any better. Here's the write-up as it appears on reddit and my comments are interjected in red, in honor or reddit...

The Facts:

  • The Pentagon is publicly admitting to spending $22 million in "black money" from 2007-2012 on a UFO research program called Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP). But, again, that is not the same as confirming that UFOs are alien spacecraft.
  • The Department of Defense's AATIP program, via AATIP's former head Luis Elizondo, has supplied the New York Times with a video of an unidentified flying object that he and his colleagues names and qualifications, please have concluded appears to outperform any known man-made aircraft in terms of both speed and maneuverability. (For more about the evidence of sightings, see Popular Mechanics) Not sure how they can talk about "speed and maneuverability" when the tic-tac UFO appears motionless throughout the released video
  • Longtime intelligence officer Elizondo left his position what was his position, exactly? can we get an actual title? with the Department of Defense back in October, to protest the secrecy around the project. He then began working with To The Stars Academy, a project founded by Tom DeLonge and includes other former CIA, NSA, and Skunkworks figures.
  • One of the videos, the 2004 Nimitz video, is supported by the eyewitness testimonies of two Navy airmen who have come forward and are giving interviews with the press. I've only seen interviews with David Fravor; who is pilot #2? Anyway, the videos are suspect; the weather was reported as "calm" at the time, yet the videos show violently turbulent oceanic and/or cloud movement. Further, one pilot says that there's a whole fleet of tic-tacs visible, yet the videos only show one. There are also claims that the tic-tac UFO zipped away at a phenomenal speed, yet the videos show no such movement. And now pilot Fravor is claiming that the tic-tac UFO could be an indication that War of the Worlds is about to start! Yikes!!
  • Much of the research in the program was carried out via Bigelow Aerospace, a contractor that builds inflatable ISS modules. Founder Robert Bigelow has claimed to have built a special warehouse in Las Vegas where he stores materials recovered from an alien craft -- materials he claims are comprised of a mysterious alloy Where does Bigelow say he already has these materials in his possession? In the NY Times article Bigelow is quoted as saying he intends to store strange alloys "recovered from unidentified aerial phenomenon," but what does that mean? Bigelow could be referring to a scrap of tinfoil found on the ground in the vicinity of a UFO sighting. There's nothing in the reporting to suggest that Bigelow, Elizondo or anyone has recovered an actual piece of a spaceship These claims have been repeated by Luis Elizondo, Tom Delonge, and the journalists in the original New York Times report.

Why this is significant:

"Mr. Elizondo said he and his government colleagues had determined that the phenomena they had studied did not seem to originate from any country."
"Seem" is the operative word here. No mention of what specifically they were supposedly studying or what methodology was supposedly used.
[1]
Under Mr. Bigelow’s direction, the company modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that Mr. Elizondo and program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena.
Again, this is so carefully worded as to be virtually meaningless. Unless you can describe and reveal the "alloys and other materials" and provide proof of their origin, you've got bupkis.
[1]
The “unidentified aerial phenomena” claimed to have been seen by pilots and other military personnel appeared vastly more advanced than those in American or foreign arsenals. In some cases they maneuvered so unusually and so fast that they seemed to defy the laws of physics, according to multiple sources directly involved in or briefed on the effort and a review of unclassified Defense Department and congressional documents.
No big surprises here, as this has been central to the UFO phenomenon since it's birth. But who are these "multiple sources" and what are these unclassified documents that are being used as proof? Transparency, please.

Don't get me wrong! I want to figure out UFOs, too. I just believe it needs to be done correctly, carefully, openly and scientifically. Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Dr. J. Allen Giraffe and The Blue Book Blues

Major Hector Quintanilla was the project chief of the U.S. Air Force's "Project Blue Book" UFO investigation program from 1963 to 1969, when it was disbanded. Quintanilla was a thoroughly disagreeable chap. He hated UFO's with a passion, and at every opportunity he knee-capped Blue Book's longtime scientific advisor, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, as I've chronicled in some detail in my Hynek bio, The Close Encounters Man: How One Man Made the World Believe in UFOs. In fact, second only to Dr. Carl Sagan, Major Quintanilla was the biggest, baddest bad guy in my book.
Project Blue Book chief Major Hector Quintanilla

Why do I bring this up so randomly? Why, it's because I checked in this morning on imdbpro.com to get the latest production update on the upcoming History Channel TV series about Dr. Hynek and Project Blue book, entitled Blue Book, and came across an odd connection to Quintanilla. Because this TV show appears to be so remarkably similar to my book, I've made it a habit to check in on its progress, and lately there always seems to be a surprise or two in the latest update.

For example, I recently noticed that the producers had cast an actor in the role of "General Hoyt S. Vandenberg," and I called attention to it here in my blog. I thought it odd that the producers would made a big deal about this casting news, since Vandenberg is at best a minor footnote in UFO history, and in fact was never involved in Project Blue Book at all. So, I took a poke at the producers over that, and then today when I checked, I found that Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg is no longer listed on imdb in the credits of the show.

Months earlier, I had pointed out that the History Channel's original press release for the show erroneously claimed that Dr. Hynek "spearheaded" project Blue Book, when in fact he was merely a hired consultant. The current PR material from History Channel acknowledges that Hynek was only a hired consultant.

Suddenly things are even weirder in Blue Book-world. The cast list on imdb is now greatly expanded, but with the exceptions of Dr. Hynek and his wife Miriam, not one of the characters is an actual person. The new cast members include such colorful characters as "Susie Miller," "General Hugh Valentine," Mandy," "Donnie," "Toby McManus," and "Local."  None of these people is real (Wait a minute! "Gen. Hugh Valentine?" "HV??" Could that be a new version of "Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg?" He hasn't been eliminated; he's been altered!).

They are now blatantly making shit up. Case in point: Deadline.com now reports that an actor named Michael Malarkey (no, I did not make that up!) has been cast not as Major Hector Quintanilla, but as, and I quote,
"Captain Michael Quinn. A decorated WWII hero, Captain Michael Quinn is selected to run Project Blue Book, a new Air Force division investigating UFO phenomena. A charming Air Force pilot, he clashes with his Blue Book partner, Dr. Allen Hynek (Aidan Gillen), challenging Hynek’s scientific mind with his raw emotional gut instincts."
I'm not joking: here's the link.

I don't know whether I should laugh or cry. As Ira Steven Behr, my old boss on Star Trek, loved to say with a resigned shrug, "Hey, Mark, it's Hollyweird." That's what they do: they make shit up. But, this is the so-called "History Channel." Forgive me for thinking that might actually mean something...

So anyway, according to Deadline.com, the irritating Major Quintanilla is now the "charming" "Captain Quinn." He apparently was the first Blue Book project chief, not the last, and his conflict with Dr. Hynek, himself newly promoted from "consultant" to "partner," was simply a battle between logic and emotion, with Hynek taking on the Spock role and "Quinn" standing in for Dr. McCoy.

Huh. News to me.

I would not be at all surprised if they create another character named Captain Tanilla." After all, "Quintanilla" is such a great name, and as it stands they're only using the first half of it. Why let the rest go to waste?

I'll take that a step even further. I also wouldn't be at all surprised if, the next time I check, Dr. Hynek himself has a new name and identity. I hereby make a suggestion to the Blue Book producers: Dr. Hynek was known to start the first day of his astronomy classes by writing his name on the blackboard and introducing himself as "Dr. Hynek. as in 'giraffe.'" Why not play it safe and call Hynek "Dr. J. Allen Giraffe" in your show?

It's almost as if they're saying that the real story of Dr. J. Allen Hynek and Project Blue Book isn't interesting enough as it is, and that it needs to be enhanced. That's crazy.

Who here agrees with me?