High Strangeness: February 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013

UFOs and PETA

Once again, I've blown it. Once again I have missed the registration deadline for the International UFO Congress, to be held next week in Fountain Hills, AZ.

It just kind of crept up on me. I got busy with things, and I guess I figured that when they begged me to be a speaker at this year's convention, that would serve as a reminder. But they didn't call, so I'm not going.

Having made that clear, I still have all sorts of reasons for wanting to be there. One of the most pressing reasons is my need to know what a UFO Congress does. Do they pass laws? Do they debate? Do they deliberate? Also, the lineup of events is pretty tantalizing... Film Festival! Cocktail Party! EBE Awards!

NOTE: "EBE," apparently, stands for Extraterrestrial Biological Entity in X-Files lore, but maybe you knew that. I still call them "aliens." Anyway, I do have to wonder what an Extraterrestrial Biological Entity Award is. Do they give awards out to aliens? Do the aliens show up to collect their awards? Do the aliens give acceptance speeches? Do they go over?

The coolest events of the Congress, however, by far, are the "Experiencer Sessions,"  hosted by noted UFO researcher Dr. Leo Sprinkle. 

"These sessions are held in a private side room in the conference center and seating is limited to the first 50 attendees," the program reads. "If you want to share your story of a sighting, visitation or abduction or just sit and listen to others share their story then this is the session for you. This environment is designed to be a safe and comfortable place for people to gather knowledge and guidance with their experiences. No Press is Allowed in any session."

I am so there next year! Please remember to invite me to be a speaker in 2014, IUFOC management!

Of course, it wouldn't be an International UFO Conference without a little controversy. Last year the Reptoids made a ruckus when they had to share an airport shuttle with the Greys. This year, of course, we have the PETA problem.

PETA, as you may know, wants to make the world a better place for our furry animal friends, and I support that completely. PETA also likes to make headlines, and they've been getting some attention for the billboard they are putting up outside the Convention Center in Fountain Hills:

Does PETA speak for the aliens? This kind of crass exploitation has no place at a UFO Convention.
I don't even know how to unpack this. From what I've seen, cosmetics are a pretty popular with the UFO crowd, so it's probably a pretty smart approach, aimed at an appropriate demographic. But at the same time, I wonder about PETA's marketing staff. They are surely some disturbed individuals. Of course, one could say the same about people who attend International UFO Congresses, so that's a draw.

In the end, I think that PETA's biggest miscalculation is its assumption that attendees at a UFO Convention would be afraid of being probed by aliens. I think they'd be lining up.




Thursday, February 21, 2013

Vomiting Galaxies

I am tired of "reboots."
They rebooted "Star Trek."
They rebooted "Battlestar Galactica" and "The Bionic Woman."
They're rebooting "Star Wars."
They keep rebooting "Spiderman," "Batman" and "Superman" over and over again...

But now rebooting has gone too far: now they're rebooting "Cosmos."

"Cosmos" was a 13-part televised love letter to science written, produced and hosted by erudite Cornell University astronomy professor Carl Sagan, and it was a wonder and a delight. Originally broadcast on public TV in 1980, "Cosmos" introduced the American public to the marvels of outer and inner space, tracing the history of astronomy, physics and human aspiration through majestic prose, wondrous music and inspiring imagery.

If I seem to be making a big deal of it, that's because I am. I watched and loved the original "Cosmos" as a starry-eyed 20 year-old, then again with my then-fiancee Mxxxxx a few years ago as we were courting. In all these years the show hasn't lost a scintilla of impact. It still inspires awe and wonder, it still makes you look up at the night sky with a sense of mystery and anticipation, and it still makes you appreciate the miracle that humans exist here on earth at all...

I have written about the late Dr. Sagan before in my blog, and make no secret of my mixed feelings about the man where UFOs are concerned, but this TV series was and is a supreme accomplishment.

Tycho Brahe and his nose: they deserve so much better than this.
So why reboot it? Thirty-three years later, the stars are still mostly in the same place. Galileo, Copernicus and Kepler have not made any new discoveries of note since 1980, and they are not expected to announce anything anytime soon. And, the simple truth is that the original series is still eminently tingle-worthy.

Worse yet, why give the reboot reins to a guy who makes cartoons for emotionally-stunted frat boys and other future world leaders? This isn't the Oscars, for God's sake.

To try to get an idea of what this guy might bring to a "Cosmos" reboot, I watched a few minutes of one of his cartoons, and it made me sad. Within five minutes, an animated toddler with a deformed head vomited twice, and apparently I was expected to laugh--twice!--because edgy. "Cosmos" was and is about the soaring expansiveness of life, and "Family Guy," it seems, is about diminishing life in every conceivable way. It's not a matter of me "not getting it." I do get it. I get that there's nothing to get.

So now I fear the worst. I fear vomiting galaxies, and Tycho Brahe's metal nose falling off as he masturbates to star charts, and garbage washing up on "the shores of the cosmic ocean."

Take my advice: watch the original "Cosmos," and skip the reboot.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Million Intruder March Strikes Back!

Just in case you missed the memo... A million of us are going to meet up next September 19 at the Little A'le'Inn in Rachel, Nevada, and then march to the gates of Area 51.

Yes, I tried this last September and only got 6 volunteers, but I'm trying again. Fact is, I'm probably never going to have an idea this cool ever again, so I've got to keep hammering away at it until it works!
This sign will soon be trampled under the feet of One Million Intruders!
What will we do when we get to Area 51? We're not going to ring the doorbell and wait for the Air Force to answer. We're going to storm the gates and force the guards to lay down their arms and let us in. And then, whatever the U.S. Government has been hiding from us will be revealed to the world.

Here's what I expect we'll find:
  • UFOs
  • Aliens
  • Time machines
  • Thermins
  • Whitley Strieber
  • Teleportation devices
  • Giant robots
  • Anti-gravity packs
  • Armed guards peeing their khakis
Let's do this, people! Sign up here!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Meteor Attack!

We may have won the space race, but Russia is beating the pants off us in the dashcam race. That has become painfully evident in the aftermath of last Friday's meteor attack in Chelyabinsk. Within minutes of the meteor exploding in the sky above Chelyabinsk, videos taken from scores of "dashcams" in Russian vehicles began to appear online... there were so many videos popping up online that PC Magazine felt the need to publish "The 12 Craziest Videos of the Russian Meteor"!

How demoralizing is that? Everyone is Russia has a dashcam in his or her vehicle, always running, always ready to capture stunning images of mammoth meteors steaking across the sky and exploding over their heads. Where is the U.S. in all this? Nowhere. I don't have a dashcam, and I don't know anyone who does. My Subaru has a nifty back-up cam, but that only works when I'm in reverse, and I would have to drive around town backwards an awful lot before I'd ever capture a meteor crash, and even then my car doesn't actually record the images from the back-up cam, so what good would it do?

No, we must, as a nation, accept that the Russians have us beat every which way to Sunday here. The "official" reason for this, I have read, is that nobody has car insurance in Russia, so motorists buy dashcams instead, and keep them on all the time, so that if anyone smacks into them they can prove it wasn't their fault. It turns out that the cams also come in very handy if your country is ever invaded by aliens.

Because that's what all this meteor hubbub over the past few days has really been about. Think about it: in the course of less than 24 hours, a meteor exploded over Russia, a huge fireball was sighted in the sky over San Francisco, and a 150-foot meteor streaked past our planet at uncomfortably close range... You probably hadn't even heard about the San Francisco fireball, had you? Of course not! They didn't want you to know! Ever heard the old expression "Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action"? 

Uh huh. Three rocks streaking into our orbit all at once is a very very bad sign. How many UFOs do you think snuck into our atmosphere the other day while we were all distracted by the meteors? At least three, I'm guessing. The real question is, did the aliens see the convergence of all these space rocks approaching earth and decide to take advantage of the opportunity, or did they maneuver the meteors into position themselves??
A few hundred of the estimated 80 million trees flattened by a 1908 "meteor" explosion above Tunguska, Siberia.
It may seem petty of me to bring this up when I should be rallying to fight off the alien invasion, but this whole thing brings up another thing that Russia has us beat at: meteors exploding in the sky. You see, this isn't the first time a "meteor" has caused a multiple-megaton blast in the skies above Mother Russia. Way back in 1908, something streaked through the sky above the Tunguska region of Siberia, and exploded just before hitting the earth... Shockwaves were registered in England, people in Asia could read newspapers in the dead of night because of the glow, and 800 square miles of forest were flattened instantly, the trees stripped bare like matchsticks and laid out in a radial pattern around the epicenter of the blast.

Damn you, Russia. I'd rip on you some more, but someone has to do something about this attack business!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Gidget & Pinky See a UFO! -- Part 2

The other day I recounted the tale of Gidget and Pinky, two college coeds who witnessed a UFO out of the windows of their dormitory at Hillsdale College in Michigan and became part of one of the biggest mass UFO sightings in U.S. history. I loved their story because they had such perfect, perky little college coed names (for 1966, anyway, which is when this all took place), and because Gidget's write-up of the experience in the Hillsdale Collegiate college newspaper was so sparkly and zippy and, yes, precise that I couldn't stop reading it.

Because it's going to be such a significant part of my book about Dr. J. Allen Hynek, I've continued to research the Hillsdale sighting, and I must now report that I have made a terrible, horrible discovery. It turns out 'Gidget' and 'Pinky' weren't their real names. 'Gidget Kohn' was actually Barbara Kohn, 21, from New Castle, PA, and 'Pinky Poffenberger' was actually Cynthia Poffenberger, 18, of Cleveland, OH. How they were able to attend college and submit a UFO report under assumed names is beyond me, but I am deeply disappointed by the whole thing. "Barbara & Cynthia See a UFO" has no life, no zing. People named Barbara and Cynthia report seeing UFOs all the time, and they're usually lying.
The girls of the New Women's Dormitory, Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI
Oh well, I can still comfort myself in the knowledge that Barbara's account in the college newspaper remains one of the most readable UFO reports I have ever come across... "We continued to watch for our friend, for in a sense it had become our friend, and a few minutes later we were rewarded by a strange new light on the horizon which hadn't been there before -- a bluish whitish greenish light." They just don't write them like that anymore...

There is another update to this story as well. Today I received a comment from a reader that said, "The people in Michigan saw more than lights in the sky. Police officers near Chelsea/Ann Arbor saw a craft with a 'quilted' surface. Some cops saw it up close. For a time it had landed. The Air Force tried to debunk all of this."

It is true that the Air Force tried to debunk all of this, as the reader states. J. Allen Hynek, who was then still employed by the Air Force on Project Blue Book, infamously pronounced to the press that the Michigan UFOs were possibly swamp gas. But the rest of the reader's comment, I have found, is not strictly true.

Police officers did see many flying lights and objects in the sky that week in Michigan, but there remains much doubt about what it was they actually saw. It was not a cop who described a craft with a quilted surface. Frank Mannor, a farmer and truck driver who saw a glowing object "land" on his property, described it as having a surface like "coral." Coral got changed in a subsequent report to "corrugated," and then in Hynek's Blue Book report "corrugated" morphed into "quilted." From "coral" to "quilted" is a long way...

So as much as I'd like to say that Hynek was wrong about the swamp gas, I'm finding that the events are far more complicated than has been commonly reported. It's going to take me a while to reach a verdict on this one, and it doesn't help that I can no longer count on Gidget and Pinky for support...


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Name the Alien -- Part 2

Have you entered the Name the Alien contest yet? I'm going to guess you haven't because so far there's only been one entry...

In a recent post I revealed that aliens hate it when we call them "E.T." If you want to know why I know this, read this, because, honestly, it's really kind of stupid and I don't want to have to explain it again.

The point is, we need a new name for aliens. If we stop calling them E.T. they might come visit more often, and that would be a good thing. They might even show themselves if we address them properly. And we can only do that if YOU enter the contest...
E.T. does not speak for all aliens.
To show you what you're up against, here's the entry I received the other day:

Just saw this. How about "xenagos/xenagi"? It's Greek ξεναγός (ksenaGOS) for "tour guide"—hopefully more respectful than E.T. It comes from the same "xen-" root as "xenophobia" etc., but it figures us, rather than the aliens, as the outsiders.

That one-entry-per-person rule is tough! 


I like this entry a lot. It's very well thought-out, it's got Greek stuff, and very respectful, indeed, to the aliens. So why don't I just declare this the winner? Because the entrant would feel that it was a tainted victory, that's why. Who wants to win a contest simply because he or she was the only one to enter? It only really matters if it's one of many extremely well thought-out, extremely clever entries. Just the same, "xeagos/xenagi" is the front runner...

Let the contest continue!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Gidget & Pinky See a UFO!

As I continue the research for my book on the career of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, I keep coming across amazing stories...

Take the "swamp gas" incident of March, 1966. Over the course of several nights, hundreds of people in southeastern Michigan saw strange lights and glowing objects in the sky. Witnesses included policemen, Civil Defense Officers, and a whole dormitory full of college coeds. The police gave chase on several occasions, and at one point the local Air Force Base tracked one of the objects on radar.

Everyone in Michigan had UFOs on the brain. People would gather by the hundreds to watch the skies; police forces could barely keep up with reports; and the press -- which was pouring in from around the world, or at least Canada --went nuts. The Air Force received so many panicky phone calls that they sent in their debunker-in-chief, Dr. Hynek, to defuse the situation...

And so he came. There was so much going on, there were so many sightings being reported, so many witnesses to interview that Hynek decided he couldn't adequately investigate everything. Instead, he  concentrated on the two primary sightings, but he wasn't able to to do that very well, either. Pressured by his Project Blue Book bosses to come up with an explanation before he had been able to interview all the witnesses, Hynek held a hurried press conference and said that the people may have seen swamp gas, an explanation that pleased the Air Force but pissed off everyone in Michigan.

The second of the two primary sightings took place at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, MI, and involved a fair number of witnesses: 87 to be exact. What makes this sighting special is that most of those 87 witnesses were coeds who lived in the women's dormitory, and they all watched the UFO from their second-story dorm room windows. To piece together exactly what happened that night, I contacted the library at Hillsdale College, and Lxxxx, the amazing archivist, turned me on to some fantastic material, including two sensational eye-witness accounts.
Don't mess with the Hillsdale Chargers!
One was written as an official statement to the press by Mrs. K. Hearn, the dorm house mother, and the other was written up as an article in the Hillsdale Collegian newspaper. I prefer the newspaper account, in part because the reporter's name was Gidget. I've got to hand it to her: Gidget Kohn had an keen eye for detail, an almost supernatural gift for drama, and an uncanny way of making you feel as though you're right there in the heart of the dorm as the sighting unfolds...

"UFO! The scream echoed down the hall of the second floor east wing of the New Women's Dorm. It was 10:30, Monday night, March 21st."

See what I mean? This girl could write. She quickly sets the scene, introduces her cast of characters, and records every moment of the next 5 1/2 hours...

"I ran to my window and there it was, radiating intense silver-white light and heading directly for the dorm. A brief flash of lightning illuminated it for just a second, and in that moment I saw what appeared to be a squashed football or basketball. The object nervously darted east -- away from us, stopped in mid-air again and moved in a jerky lateral way first north, then south, then up and down. It seemed to be frantic."

A frantic UFO! Omigod!

The best part comes a few paragraphs later, when Gidget, who has somehow managed to keep her cool after seeing the frantic UFO, realizes that she could be sitting on top of the scoop of the century and she needs to get statements from the other witnesses. And who does she go to first?

"I went down to Pinky Poffenberger's room to get her story since she said she had seen it when it first approached. I took a seat on her bed and began questioning her."

Pinky Poffenberger! Of course! Who else would you go to first but Pinky Poffenberger, who, it turns out, seems to have had some real soul... for when Pinky first spotted the UFO she had been sitting on her bed in the dark for a half hour... watching the lightning.

It's a long story. It's a crazy story. As much as I grew to love Gidget, I found myself wondering at times if she had let her imagination run away with her once she sat down at the typewriter at the editorial offices of the Collegian... But then I read the statement written by Mrs. Hearn, and it matched Gidget's account in every detail.

This case is bulletproof... which makes it all the more odd that Hynek went with the expedient but extremely weak swamp gas explanation. But that's an issue for another blog post, because right now I just can't get this one nagging question out of my head?

Why did Mrs. Hearn allow those 87 girls to be up past 10:30 on a Monday night??





Sunday, February 10, 2013

My First Hoax?

After having very little write about this week, I have suddenly been deluged with blockbusters: a potentially amazing interview for my J. Allen Hynek book; the first entry in the Name The Alien contest; a nerve-rattling journey along the creepiest road in our County; and now this... I got this strange and intriguing email today from my MUFON State Director. It was a copy of a letter she had just sent to a UFO witness, forwarded to me FYI:

Dear Hxxxxx:
Thank you for completing your sighting report.  If I'm understanding correctly, your sighting took place in 2011 when you were 8 so you're now 10.  In order to communicate further with you, I'd need to have your parent's permission and have them present when we talk on the phone. If you want me to send out a permission form to them, please send me their names and address.

Thank you for contacting MUFON.
Best regards,
Vxxxx
MUFON WI State Director

Very odd indeed... As I said, it's been a quiet couple of days and I had no idea that I had any new cases before me. So I looked it up on the MUFON database and sure enough, there's a freshly-submitted report of a 2011 sighting attributed to a very young girl and her even younger brother. And because the sighting is alleged to have taken place a mere 10 miles from me, the case is mine!

Furthermore, Vxxxx has already done the basic footwork for me: she has found the names of a couple in a nearby town who could be the parents of said child, but there doesn't seem to be a number listed for them.

So, I am completely dependent on the little nipper getting her parents' permission to talk to me. If she can't, this will be one short investigation. Which would be a shame, because it's an interesting case, and reminds me a lot of my friend Jxxx's childhood UFO sighting with his sister...

If this is legit -- and I'm reserving judgement until I know more -- the little girl who filed the report is scary smart and self-possessed to an almost unbelievable degree. I would recount her written description, but I have something better. The girl drew a picture of the object she and her brother saw in the sky and submitted a video with her sighting report in which she explains in detail what you see in the picture she drew... 

video

It's kind of amazing... especially at the end when she says that "If you see something like this, especially in Wisconsin, report it." 

I really don't know whether it's for real or a very convincing put-up job, but I really hope this kid coughs up the parental permission so I can find out more. 




Monday, February 4, 2013

Speaking of Government Cover-ups

Who's going to believe this??

Doesn't he realize I've just watched "Hangar 18" and I'm wise to his tricks??

It Started With an Accident in Space...

How many great movies start from that tag line? Only one that I know of: the 1980 science-fiction conspiracy thriller "Hangar 18."

I was recently turned on to this flick by the charming blog "Silver Screen Saucers," a nifty little site that combines two of my three great loves: movies and flying saucers. So I visit "SSS" and the first thing I see is an article about how "Hangar 18" was some sort of propaganda film backed by the CIA, the Mormon Church, the Vatican and the Schick Razor Company. Which could explain why it's such a crap movie. When's the last time a shaving appliance company produced a movie that was any good? You have to go all the way back to Norelco's big-budget production of "King Lear," or maybe the Bic classic "How Smooth Was My Chin."

But I digress. "Hangar 18" is a very silly and mostly inept attempt to mash up UFO lore about Area 51, the Roswell UFO crash, government cover-ups and Erich von Daniken's 1970's best seller "Chariots of the Gods," throw in some appealing TV stars such as Darren McGavin and Robert Vaughn, and come up with a suspenseful thriller that isn't afraid to tackle serious questions about the origins of life on earth.

How dumb is it? Well, pretty dumb. For instance, when the heroic NASA astronaut's friend gets killed by CIA agents on a dirt road, he asks an anonymous bystander to "take care of" his buddy's dead body, then steals the bystander's car. Also, Darren McGavin's clothes keep inexplicably changing from scene to scene -- one minute he's wearing a dress shirt with the collar open and a loosened necktie, the next he's wearing a sport coat and a turtleneck, the next he's back to the open dress shirt and loosened tie, then, in the very next scene -- boom -- turtleneck! It happened so many times I lost count! All they had to do was film one quick scene with McGavin saying, "I think I'll change into my turtleneck now," and another with him saying, "You know, I'm kind of in a necktie mood again," and they could have covered it. Amateurs.

Dumber still, the captured UFO being held inside Hangar 18 looks like -- and here's the Schick company's contribution, I think -- a massive vacuum-molded package for disposable razors. Seriously, my tool shed would make a more convincing UFO...

This is the terrifying secret inside... Hangar 18.
Also the coverup and conspiracy are mind-bogglingly dumb. The government has to keep the captured UFO secret for two weeks, because if the public found out they would be mad and the president would lose the upcoming election. Or something. Frankly, I didn't care, because I couldn't get past that stupid UFO. Or that turtleneck. Or that stupid astronaut stealing that innocent bystander's car. That sucked.

I'll tell you what interests me, though: the fact that the Schick Razor company started a film studio that churned out wholesome G-rated filler like "In Search of Historic Jesus," "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams," and the "Greatest Heroes of the Bible" series, and then made "Hangar 18," which has gun play, some fiery crashes, a naughty word, and not a single reference to the Bible or Jesus.

If you ask me, this movie has the CIA's fingerprints all over it. And the Mormons', and the Vatican's. Also, I can't be sure, but I suspect that the gaffer's assistant was a member of the Illuminati. But here's the biggest mystery of all: the Vatican goes all ape-shit trying to keep movies like "The DaVinci Code" and "The Last Temptation of Christ" out of theaters, but when they get a chance to make a movie of their own, they give us "Hangar 18"...

Uh... Pope?