High Strangeness: May 2013

Friday, May 31, 2013

Revenge of The Soda Pop Factor

I do get some strange comments lately. Most recently, someone commented on an old post called "The Soda Pop Factor," something I wrote way back in September, 2011. If you haven't read it, take a few minutes now to go take a look; I'll wait.

Back? Good. Did you like it? Who cares? Did you read the comment at the bottom? Forgot, didn't you, you daydreaming fool? Well, here it is, in its entirety, and its weirdness...

Can of orange pop, or safety hazard?
"Look, sorry to throw a spanner in the works but this is a classical case of one story passing from place to place. IN FACT the term 'soda pop factor' was mentioned by Dr. J. Allen Hynek recounting an investigation he undertook and the witness, describing running from an 'object' hovering near him, said he "tripped over a Soda ca" (sic) and fell over. Hynek reasoned why would he add in that small unrelated incident if he was making something up. Hynek used this in educational sessions with new and existing researchers to use as a psychological aspect to look for. He indicated to look for the same sort of factors in other reports, to at least add to the possibility of a more credible account. I know this from first hand involvement. I was heavily involved with UFO Research, CUFOS and Hynek in the 70's. Check it out if you like. Hynek is even on tape in a recorded UFO Special saying this" 

I responded politely, as I always do, unless the comment is defending the Atacama Humanoid or the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure. But it was a strain to be polite, since this comment shifts so effortlessly from the credible to the bizarre and back again... Someone running from a hovering 'object' tripped and fell over a can of soda? Uhhh... was the can of soda cemented into the ground, because if it wasn't I have a hard time believing anyone could trip over it and fall over.

And where's the proof that the concept of The Soda Pop Factor originated with Dr. Hynek and not Dr. James McDonald, as reported in "The Mothman Prophecies"? Without some kind of documentation, the commenter's claims are hard to believe, and, if we're being honest, pretty goofy.

And how annoying is it for this person to say "Check it out if you like" and then not supply me with any links or references? What the hell am I supposed to be checking out?

And is this person British? Who else would say "Sorry to throw a spanner into the works" but a Brit? What do the British know about any beverage besides tea?

Let me tell you, Mr., Miss, Mrs. or Ms. British commenter, I've been spending an awful lot of time digging through Dr. Hynek's files, and I have yet to come across any account that remotely resembles what you describe. The burden of proof is on you.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Highly Improbable Flight

I have just taken a trip into the distant past: 1948.

In order to understand how Dr. J. Allen Hynek wound up working for the Air Force's first UFO study effort, "Project Sign," I thought it might be helpful to read up on the Real McCoy: the actual Project Sign documents.

It's amazing, and instructive, to see how the Air Force approached the UFO problem 60-some years ago... The Introduction unequivocally states that the information gathered and assessed in Project Sign is to determine whether UFOs present a national security threat, then it goes on to classify four (4) different types of objects:
  1. Flying discs, i.e., very low aspect ratio aircraft
  2. Torpedo or cigar-shaped bodies with no wings or fins visible in flight
  3. Spherical or balloon-shaped objects
  4. Balls of light
It's kind of amazing to me that less than a year into the flying saucer phenomenon, the Air Force was able to identify four distinct styles...

In 1948, the U.S. Air Force was keenly aware that flying discs came in many shapes and sizes.
The Intro then goes on to say, "The possibility that some of the incidents may represent technical developments far in advance of knowledge available to engineers and scientists of this country has been considered. No facts are available to personnel at this Command that will permit an objective assessment of this possibility. All information so far presented on the possible existence of space ships from another planet or of aircraft propelled by an advanced type of atomic power plant have been largely conjecture. Based on experience with nuclear power plant research in this country, the existence on Earth of such engines of small enough size and weight to have powered the objects described is highly improbable."

So what they're saying is, hell yes, it's possible that these are atomic powered space ships from another planet!

The Thing in the Tree -- Part 2

Here we go with the creepy multi-dimensional entities again... First it was the Shadow People, then it was the glowing alien at the bedroom window, then it was The Thing in the Tree... And now there have been two new reports filed in my section of the state involving sightings of odd creatures that took place months or years ago, with no trace at all of a UFO. That's five in a row, folks, and that's what we call a "trend." That's also what we call "creepy as hell."

Here's what came through on the MUFON Hot Line last night:

Remembered from June, 1997:
"When I looked more intently, I noticed that these lights were not moving. I then thought it was a reflection of some kind,but it wasnt. After cancelling out the notion of this being a set of tail lights, I began to realize that what I was seeing was a set of eyes. In my backyard was a set of taller garbage cans that this thing was behind. Well, not behind,but in front of. There was a light down the alley a ways that lit up the area slightly but not much. This thing stayed in this spot where I was not able to make out its shape due to the fact that it was staying within the shadow. I then was trying to move my perspective by moving around the inside of the kitchen to try and get a different perspective on it. I was all this time trying to figure out what kind of animal this could be. I could think of none. This thing had pretty large eliptical (sic) eyes that glowed a bright red."

Remembered from January, 1991:
"I didnt like the basement - especially my dads workshop at the back of the basement, because to a small girl it was scary, it had spider webs all over and my dad always warned me to stay away from the sump pump hole in his workshop. I hardly ever went in there but for some reason I went down there on this night after bed - everyone in the house was asleep. I believe it was the first time I was down there alone. I walked into my dads workshop and saw a glowing light underneath one of his workbenches. He had several holes drilled in the table tops and I was drawn to the light. I looked at the top of the table and saw a white glowing skinny, bony looking finger come out of one of the holes. The next thing I remember is I was standing face to face with this white glowing creature with huge black eyes and a small slit for a mouth."

Vxxxx, my MUFON State Director offered me a choice of cases, and I chose "The Case of the Red Eyes in the Alley," not so much because I preferred it but because it took place in my territory and "The Case of the Alien Under the Work Bench" did not. To tell you the truth, they're both pretty eerie...

But what I keep wondering about is why so many people are suddenly reporting these odd, unexplainable encounters with creatures years after they've happened... What is suddenly jarring all these memories loose, and pushing these people to report what they saw years ago? And why all these encounters in southeastern Wisconsin??

This was already starting to trouble me, but then this week I made an eerie discovery in my own yard. I was mowing the front lawn and noticed a ring of darker-colored grass about 2-1/2 feet across. This ring had been visible for a few days, but I hadn't taken a close look at it until I mowed the lawn, and when I got close I noticed... the fungus.
There is nothing in the folklore about mowing a fairy ring with your mower!

It's a fairy ring! Right in my own front yard, a flipping fairy ring.

Curious to know what this meant, I looked up "fairy ring" on Wikipedia and learned that I am doomed. Fairy rings are evil places, it turns out, and woe betide the man who disturbs the ring, as I did with my lawnmower...

Depending on your folklore of preference, I may have a long spell of rotten bad luck, I may die at a young age (too late for that!), I may become invisible and be trapped inside the ring forever, and I may even be forced to marry one of the fairies. I don't even know where to go with that.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

More Petrified Fetuses

It just never ends.

Just when I thought I could finally leave the Atacama Humanoid far, far behind, someone sent me a list of links to other websites and YouTube videos of other shriveled-up alien corpses that have popped up over time.

I thought that the Atacama Humanoid was a one-in-a-million freak, but I was wrong.

There's also "Alyoshenka" from Russia: http://youtu.be/1uwdBdIFrqU. http://youtu.be/Zp8V7EHtXzk\

There's "Pedro," the San Pedro Mountains Mummy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Pedro_Mountains_Mummy

There's something or other from Concepcion, Chile: http://www.indotalisman.com/humanoid.html
http://www.indotalisman.com/humanoid2.html
http://www.indotalisman.com/humanoid3.html
http://www.indotalisman.com/humanoid4.html

And, last but not least, there's another thing from Parque Forestal, Chile: http://www.ufoevidence.org/cases/case380.htm
http://web.archive.org/web/20090303163637/http://www.wintersteel.com/Beings.html


What this proves, I am not sure. The person who sent me the links provided no commentary, apparently thinking that these websites and videos would speak for themselves. Well, they didn't. Actually, the Russian videos did speak for themselves, but I don't understand Russian so it was a wasted effort.
Did a race of tiny shriveled people once live on earth? I don't know, but the tiny, un-shriveled "Incredible Shrinking Man" once lived in a basement, where he fought off a "giant" (small to us) spider with a "giant" (small to us) pin.
Is this supposed to be proof that the earth was at one time populated or even invaded by tiny little doll people? I am just as likely to believe that the giant stone heads on Easter Island prove that a race of giant stone head people once lived in the South Pacific. If these other shriveled little corpses constituted any proof that the Atacama Humanoid was something other than a mummified human fetus, then why didn't Dr. Steven Greer present Alyoshenka, Pedro and the others as evidence last month? It makes no sense.


And why are none of them American? We have one little dead person from Russia, and a passel of them from South America, but none from the good old U.S. of A. Why? It's pretty hard to make a case for a race of shriveled little people when you can find them in South America and Russia but not the US. When the Mongols crossed the Bering land bridge from Siberia to Alaska, all they had to do was stick a few of the little guys into their pockets and carry them across. Are we to believe they carried them all the way to Chile without letting them out for a stretch? Where's your science, people??

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Flying Saucers From Outer Space

Sometimes my UFO research goes off in odd, unexpected directions. For instance, I never would have thought that writing a book about astronomer and UFO expert Dr. J. Allen Hynek would lead me to reading about 19th century mystics and philosophers, but that's exactly what I've been doing all week...

Then there are the times I don't think I'm doing any research for the book and it turns out I am. Last night, for instance, I sat down to watch an old 1955 science fiction movie with the wonderful title, "Earth vs. The Flying Saucers." How was I to know that it would have any bearing on my UFO research?

What makes "EvFS" interesting to me is that the invading flying saucers and the aliens who pilot them were rendered in the film by stop-motion animation genius Ray Harryhuasen, who died just a few weeks ago. I've always been a fan of his charming, wacky science fiction and fantasy films, so when my wife got me the movie for my birthday this week I had to drop everything and watch it. As a tribute to Ray, and because I'm a flying saucer nerd.

I hadn't seen the movie in many years, and I expected it to be pretty silly, which it was, but there was a huge surprise in the opening credits. After the listing of the scriptwriters, a title said:

"Suggested by 'Flying Saucers From Outer Space' by Major Donald E. Keyhoe."

I had no idea that this or any other 1950s alien invasion movie had ever been "suggested" by an actual mass-market book about UFOs, so this was big news to me. Would that make the movie more realistic? More believable? More sensational? Keyhoe, after all, was pretty much the first person to start writing best-sellers about flying saucers, and the first to form a civilian UFO investigation organization, NICAP. And he was a retired Marine pilot, so the guy's got some cred.

With my interest level thus raised a few notches, I let the movie roll. The grim opening narration informs the viewer that flying saucers have become a global problem, and that we'd better figure out what they're up to before we find ourselves being placed on display in extraterrestrial zoos, or ground up into human sausages for the aliens to put out at parties with hot sauce (human hot sauce!).

Then the movie showed a dramatization of what goes on at the Air Force Technical Intelligence Command in Dayton, OH. I really sat up at this, because what they were talking about was Project Blue Book, the real-life UFO study that got Hynek involved in the whole business in the first place. Sadly, the movie's portrayal of the Project Blue Book offices was way off base... It showed a modern, airy, brightly-lit office with a long row of a desks, perhaps a dozen, each manned by a diligent, attentive, neatly-pressed Air Force UFO researcher, taking testimony from excited UFO witnesses. There was no sound to the scene, but from the way the UFO witnesses were all dramatically swooshing their hands through the air, there was no doubt in my mind what they were describing to the Air Force people.

In reality, Project Blue Book was always woefully underfunded and understaffed. They worked out of a broom closet at the Air Force Base, and they were issued a desk, a phone, a pencil, a wastebasket and an illustration of the solar system to tack to the wall (but they were not issued a thumbtack). Also, I'm pretty sure nobody ever came into the Blue Book offices and started dramatically swooshing their arms through the air.

So, the movie kind of got that wrong, although I appreciated the earnest attempt to whitewash the truth

A dramatic scene from "Earth vs. The Flying Saucers." Could this be the perfect moment for the first "High Strangeness" photo caption contest?
I give the movie one big point for differentiating between UFOs and flying saucers, which no one even today ever takes the trouble to do. "Are you saying the UFO you saw was actually a flying saucer?" an incredulous General asks a scientist. "Yes," says the scientist, "I am." Cool.

From there, the movie becomes pretty generic and ordinary, in a goofy, charming way. Major Kehoe could not have been pleased with the final result, but even he must have grinned at the climactic moment in the film when the Generals and scientists are discussing the country's response to the imminent alien attack on Washington, D.C.:

Scientist: "Then, it's been decided that we're going to fight?"
General: "When an armed and threatening power lands uninvited in our capital, we don't meet them with tea and cookies."



Friday, May 24, 2013

Alien Art Exhibit

I may have mentioned that I work as am alternative fuels consultant, so it's not unusual for me to get emails with the word "Hybrid" in the subject line. Usually it's referring to a Prius, so when I got yet another "Hybrid" email the other day I figured it was work-related and I would check it out over my coffee break.

The subject line screamed "Are ET Hybrids among us? Find OUT!" Despite the emphatic ALL-CAPS finale, I still didn't think anything of it. Maybe Toyota's newest hybrid is called the ET, and maybe they are among us, or at least at the nearest dealer.

To my surprise, it wasn't about Pruises. It was about the other kind of hybrid: the human-alien kind. The email, it turned out, was an invitation to this year's MUFON International Symposium, to be held at the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort this July 18-21.

Does this mean there will be human-alien hybrids at the Symposium? If there were, I would be booking my trip right now. Sadly, though, there is no mention on the website of any kind of hybrid presence at all. So it was all a tease. Shame on you, MUFON. You of all people should know not to make claims about extraterrestrials that you can't back up!

Alien...
Still, I can't help but think that Toyota or Ford are missing out on an incredible marketing opportunity here...

I also got something in the email the other day that made me very happy. You may have read my past blogs here and here in which I was desperately searching for "A. Ranfone," the Van Gogh of alien illustrations.

Well, I have heard from someone who knows Anthony Ranfone, or at least did once. Here's what she posted in the comments section:

"I knew Anthony Ranfone(Tony) in Boston in the 70's. I think he was from N. Andover, Ma. He went to Art School on Huntington Ave. He was and incredible artist not only as an illustrator but realistic oils and most mediums. I last saw him in 1975 when he told me about just creating the "Energy Ant" for the Government publications. He also asked me if I had heard of the Blue Book Project, but he didn't tell what it was. If you find him tell him Lxxxx and Jxxx say hi."
... and Ant. Energy Ant, that is.

I don't know what's more exciting: the fact that I finally have a real link to Anthony Ranfone, or the fact that in 1975 Mr. Ranfone was asking people if they had heard of Project Blue Book, the UFO investigation project that had been cancelled by the Air Force several years earlier.

Clearly, there is more to Mr. Ranfone's interest in UFOs and aliens than meets the eye.

Mark my words, and make no mistake, and hear me well: I will find Mr. Anthony Ranfone, and when I do, I fully intend to tell him that Lxxxx and Jxxx say hi.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Deep Space UFO

I was having a nice time tonight with my wonderful Orion XT8 telescope, getting some great views of objects in the northern sky:
  • Saturn (w/rings and moons)
  • Castor & Pollux (binary stars!)
  • Capella
  • Procyon
  • The Moon
  • Alkaid
  • A UFO
Wait. What? A UFO??

Damned if it ain't so. I was straining to get a good look at Alkaid, a star in the Big Dipper, because it was nearly at the zenith, and it's tricky to aim a big, bulky telescope at something almost directly overhead. But as I found it in the eyepiece and started to focus, a bright white light zipped across the field of view in a curved path and disappeared.

I'm a Gemini and these are my boys: Castor & Pollux.
What a bonus! As if it isn't exhilarating enough to be able to see the flipping rings of Saturn from my back yard, now I've got UFOs overhead!

It couldn't have been visible for more than a half-second, but there it was... It was in focus, so it wasn't a bug flying past the telescope's aperture. It wasn't a meteor, because its path curved. My impression in the brief moment I saw it was that it was a brilliantly-lit object zipping around in deep space: a UFO.

Me and my telescope saw something weird tonight that we can't explain. Damn, that's cool.

Utter Neglect

I feel terrible. I have had all sorts of plans all week to write new blog posts, but I keep getting so absorbed in writing my biography of J. Allen Hynek that I forget about the blog. Can you forgive me?

Maybe you'll understand once I tell you what I've been going through...

First there was the "swamp gas" thing. I came up with 6 1/2 possible explanations for why Dr. Hynek said at a fateful March, 1966 press conference that the UFOs sighted the previous week in Michigan might have been swamp gas. Some of the explanations were demonstrably false, one was clearly an attempt at disinformation by the no-goodniks at the U.S. Air Force, but several of them were credible and I needed to explore them all.

What could I do? It's all about the truth, and the truth takes time.

Then there was the whole thing about why Hynek decided to be an astronomer. Was it because his mother read him a book about astronomy when he was 7 years old and sick in bed with scarlet fever, or because as a student he became fascinated by the hermetic writings of Max Heindel, Manly Hall and Rudolf Steiner?

Mystic Rudolf Steiner, as portrayed by Jeremy Irons.
First of all, when's the last time you heard of anyone coming down with scarlet fever? This is a disease so old it's treated with trips to the country, for Christ's sake. In other words, this is some ancient, ancient shit I'm dealing with here, folks, so you're going to have to cut me some slack to do my researching the right way. Second of all, have you ever tried to read the hermetic writings of Max Heindel, Manly Hall or Rudolf Steiner? It's the reading equivalent of molasses, and yes I know, nobody uses molasses anymore or has any idea why you can still buy it the supermarket, but I'm sticking with a theme here. I have a bottle of molasses in my kitchen with a freshness date of 10/24/07, and it doesn't matter.

So, what I'm trying to say is this: If I'm not here writing cool stuff about UFOs for my blog, it's because I'm writing cool stuff about UFOs for my book, so it's all good.

But I will try to be better about writing here more regularly, because the blog is, truly, my first love.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Shadow People on the Loose

When I recently wrote about the so-called "Shadow People," I had no idea what I was getting involved in... Three cases have now come my way involving what may possibly be interdimensional beings, and I have no idea when to make of it.

Here's what I've got so far:
  • CE3K case from 20 years ago involving a young woman who saw a glowing humanoid entity staring at her through her bedroom window;
  • CE3K case from last summer (which I decided not to investigate) involving a person who saw an invisible, threatening owl/chicken thing in a tree that may have posed a physical threat;
  • CE2K case last month involving a small UFO that caused a car's dash lights to flicker, and led to:      A mysterious letter from 1952 about a captured flying saucer and aliens seen at an Air Force Base, and Shadow people and "minor spirit life." 
You read that right. The same gentleman whose son just had a Close Encounter of the Second Kind that left behind magnetic residue on the family car, and whose mother was sent a letter in 1952 purporting to describe a captured UFO and its crew, and who asked me last week what I knew about Shadow People wrote back with this explanation:

"We have had an experience with this type of being, but only once. I have just read this website and listened to a show on the radio describing these beings. Our house has some minor spirit life in it, but I have not experienced it myself other family members have. This is where my interest comes from. This is nothing you need to research I was just picking your brain. Thanks for all you have done."

Then he added a link to a Shadow People website...

This guy and his family have more going on their paranormal life than most of us have going on in our real lives. It's a wonder he has any time to write to me at all.
Is this what an interdimensional being looks like? I thought so, but my wife took one look and asked me if it was a cookie monster ghost. She is so not equipped for this life.
 But he did write, and I felt compelled to write back to him:

"Hi Sxxxx,
"This is really fascinating. I am writing a book about a famous UFO researcher, J. Allen Hynek, who, over time, began to wonder if UFOs and the entities associated with them are actually from a parallel dimension. After so many years of UFO sightings and Close Encounters with no definitive physical proof of their existence, it only made sense to him to consider non-physical explanations...
"It's interesting that Jacques Vallee is quoted on that website. He worked very closely with Dr. Hynek for many years and was a significant influence on Hynek. I'm hoping to arrange an interview with him for the book.
"If you'd ever want to talk about it, I'd be interested to hear more about your family's experiences.
"Best regards,
Mark"

Could something significant be happening? Should I be watching for interdimensional beings? Or cookie monster ghosts?

Friday, May 17, 2013

"Sirius": Greatest UFO Documentary Ever?

I recently wrote about the guy who disagreed with my dismissal of "Ata," the Atacama Human. Oid. What I didn't mention about his letter was his disappointment with the movie "Sirius."

"Sirius" is a UFO documentary that just premiered online a few weeks ago. I had a chance to view it the day it premiered for a mere $10, but I passed. From what I gathered, it was supposed to reveal that earth has been visited by aliens for a very long time, that they do not intend us any harm, and that the government has, for nefarious reasons, been keeping this all a secret from us. The connection here is that the film was produced by government coverup maven Dr. Steven Greer, the same guy who brought us "Ata." In fact, one of the big selling points of the film was that it was supposed to prove that "Ata" was an alien, although that didn't quite work out as expected.

My writer's big problem with the film boiled down to this: Greer funded the movie through crowdsourcing, to the tune of about $2 million, then charged the very same crowd ten bucks each to see the finished film. Adding insult to injury, Greer fashions himself as a powerful champion of free and open information... as opposed to, say, information that costs ten bucks.

How much is "the truth" worth to you? Ten dollars, you say? That makes you a sucker, my friend. A sucker and a sap. And  a fool.
I was struck by the irony of this, and that got me thinking that I had not read a single review of the movie since it debuted online a few weeks ago. Surely the film must have had some impact somewhere? A quick search revealed that there were, indeed, many reviews of "Sirius" posted online, but there was a problem: the reviews were all posted by UFO bloggers like me. Why would I trust their opinions?

Then I looked for reviews where I always look for film reviews: metacritic.com and rottenromatoes.com. Neither site seemed to know that "Sirius" even existed! What the...?

So then I looked "Sirius" up on imdb.com, and there it was!

The first thing I saw was that 242 imdb users have rated the film 6.1 out of 10, and 13 of them wrote reviews. Hot dog! Just what I was looking for!

The great thing is, you don't even have to plod through the 13 reviews. You just read the reviews' headlines and, boom, you're done!
  • "Feeling Ripped Off..."
  • "A Brilliant and Revolutionary Documentary (for those with the ears to hear...)"
Wow! Only two headlines in and opinions are split right down the middle! Let's see what the others have to say:
  • "We were promised disclosure, but were hustled for $10"
  • "Misleading and downright laughable"
  • "Far bigger than any 'UFO' documentary that you've seen"
  • "Not even close to 'groundbreaking' as promised"
  • "The Greatest Documentary Who Many Will Miss Out On" (Editor's note: Huh?)
  • "Garbage. Complete & Utter Waste of Time"
  • "Awesome Movie!"
  • "A compelling, somewhat clumsy stab at the truth"
  • "Ordinary"
  • "Oxy-Moron: but a fun to watch Paradox"
And the most eloquent headline of them all:
  • "It's just bad"
Yessir, I sure am glad I didn't drop $10 on this turkey. It seemed pretty obvious to me that if Greer had anything of any value to announce, he wouldn't be charging people for it. Ergo, the film must be a complete waste of time. Going by the imdb reviews, I don't regret my decision.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Thing in the Tree

I just turned down a case for the first time in my one-year-old career as a Certified UFO Field Investigator. It's not in my territory, so technically it never should have been in my case file to begin with, but because I am the Close Encounter Kid TM  my State Director thought it should come to me first.

I should be flattered, right? And eager to conduct another investigation into an entity sighting, right? But for some reason I didn't want to do it, so I turned it down.

The sighting took place last August, and like my previous entity sighting case, it did not involve an actual UFO. Just a person sitting on a fallen tree, minding his or her own business, when a creature appears and... Well, I'll give you the description from the MUFON report:

"A few moments later I felt an urge to look over my shoulder. I stared behind me for a minute wondering why I felt this urge. I was in a densely forested area with many trees but with ample distance visage. I looked back there and noticed something different in my vision. Five feet behind me and about two feet above my line of sight and one foot to my left shoulder sat a branch. Thats when I noticed something was a little more bleary in that spot. I didnt beliekke (sic) what I was seeing so I turned away to look at something else and then back. Thats when I saw a distinct shape. I looked directly at it and felt that I saw it looking back at me. I then looked past the shape on both sides and got the outline. I then saw that it was reflecting the daylight and tree leaves around it. I noticed that it had two ears like an owl or house cat and a body that appeared to be like a chicken."

Okay, I'm remembering now why I turned down this case. I was not trained to investigate entities with the ears of an owl and the body of a chicken, and frankly I can't imagine why anyone would want to be trained to investigate such a thing.

Still, there is something compelling about the report. The witness goes on to say that he/she sensed the entity asking, "Can you see me?" Then she/he felt a sense of panic, as if the creature was going to attack him/her.

Sadly, it never did, but for a few moments reading the story, you almost expect it.

So why didn't I investigate it? Maybe because this is the first case I've encountered where the witness experienced a sense of malevolence. I've interviewed witnesses who were scared by what they saw, sometimes terrified. But this one has real menace to it:

"I was afraid that if I panicked I would slip off the tree, fall to the ground five feet below and then be attacked by the life form. No one would know where I was nor find me until I rotted." 

Kind of creepy, huh?

But that's not the real reason I passed on this one. I passed on it because I just don't see it going anywhere. The witness claims to have caught the thing on video, but the frame of video included in the report just shows a bunch of branches. Also, there's a little clue in the first couple sentences of the report that lead me to believe that this person may not be a completely reliable witness. Not to say that that makes the report invalid, but it certainly made me worry that I might spend a lot of time investigating something that can never be validated...

Do you see an entity with the ears of an owl and the body of a chicken? Neither do I, and that's a problem.

The Shadow People vs the Atacama Humanoid

People ask me the funniest questions on this job. Today I got a reply from the guy I had emailed the other day about the "old UFO letter in the attic" mystery, and it was all pretty straightforward, thanking me for the research I had done, and then at the end of the letter he says:

"Do you guys have any opinion on shadow people? May be out of your area of interest but I think some people think these maybe interdimensional beings. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks
Sxxxx"

Strictly speaking, I'm a Certified UFO Investigator. I have no special training in shadow people investigating, or in even forming opinions about shadow people, and I always think it's a good idea to leave this kind of thing to the experts. Still, shadow people sound kind of cool and creepy, so I think I'm going to have to look into this. Because I want to have an opinion on shadow people, just on general principle, and just in case somebody asks me again. 

I do have an opinion on interdimensionality. Interdimensionality rocks. 
 
Can you spot the "shadow people" person in this picture? Hint: It looks more like a "shadow" than a "people."

Speaking of opinions, I also got a letter today from a reader who wanted to know why I wasn't going to write about "Ata," the Atacama Humanoid, any more. He had an opinion about my opinion about "Ata" not being an alien being after alll, and I have to say, he wrote a good letter, and never once told me that I had my head up my ass. In fact, he "respectfully" disagrees with me! How about that?

Here's some of what he had to say:

"The DNA didn't say it was 'Human' it says that it's 'more' Human than a Chimpanzee for example. Also how do you explain the calcification in the bones? A world's leader concluded that the being was 6-8 years of age at the time of death, based on a tried and true scientific process. Also, it has 10 ribs not twelve on each side, a defect NEVER before seen or documented in human history. I keep reading articles online about people brushing this story off as if it were nothing and over with. How can people (respectively including yourself) conclude that it's DEFIANTLY Human when all the evidence says that it's something far stranger."

Despite the good letter, the reader and I will have to agree to disagree on "Ata." One big reason for that is that he has obviously done a whale of a job researching this, while I have done my usual drive-by, so I can't even come close to responding to his challenges. So I won't, and he respects that.

But now I'm in a pickle: by responding to his letter asking why I would never write about "Ata" again, he has forced me to write about "Ata" again! What a devilish trick!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Fabulous Success

Well, now that the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure has been declared "A Fabulous Success" and the mystery of "Ata," the Atacama Humanoid has been solved, there's not a whole bunch going on in UFO world.

Oh, I've been notified that my membership in MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network has been automatically renewed for a third year, and the $35 membership fee has been automatically withdrawn from my bank account. That's news, although I do wonder if signing up for automatic renewal was really a smart thing to do. I mean, they don't ask you how you feel about it; they just take your money and thank you for your continued involvement in MUFON. "We could not fulfill our mission without you," says the chirpy email from MUFON HQ, and I suppose it is nice for them to admit that I am irreplaceable.

Say goodbye to this little fella, 'cause I won't be writing about him again anytime soon. The "Atacama Humanoid" is in reality the "Atacama Human."
I have taken advantage of the post-Citizen Hearing, post "Ata" funk to tie up some loose ends... For one thing, I have received word from HQ that my latest case, as fascinating as it was, will not be investigated by the national investigators. It's something that happened 20 years ago when the witness was only 4 or 5 years old, so it's felt by the big bosses that there's not a whole lot more that we can learn. Still, I've encouraged the witness to keep on exploring this on her own, and to let me know if she recalls or experiences anything new, so there still may be more to the story.

I've also had to drop a bomb on the gentleman who recently gave me a scan of the strange "flying saucer crash" letter that had been sent to a member of his family back in 1952 by a friend in the Air Force. The letter told of a strange incident in which the Air Force guy was shown a captured flying saucer and some alien corpses, and it looked pretty convincing until I learned that the account was lifted nearly word-for-word from a 1950 book called "Behind the Flying Saucers." I passed that information on to the gentleman this afternoon, and am eagerly awaiting his reply. I hated to burst the bubble on such a treasured family mystery, but you know my dedication to the truth and all... Had to be done.

At the same time, there is still no word for this gentleman about the used motor oil we recovered from his SUV after his son's Close Encounter. I'm not sure what type of analysis is being done on the oil sample and oil filter at MUFON HQ, but it must be very scientific if it's taking this long.

The big news for me is that I have a publisher interested in my book about J. Allen Hynek! Yesterday I sent two sample chapters off to the publisher that had been recommended to me by my mentor at Hynek's Center for UFO Studies. and expected to wait a few days or weeks to hear back. Instead, I got a reply in 15 minutes saying:

Mark,

I just took a quick glance at it all and I love it, love it, love it. It would be a pleasure to publish this book.  My editing would be very minor.  And "20 Percent" might work with a good subtitle. 

When do you expect to be finished?
I was, in truth, astonished, both by his praise and by the fact that he had responded in only 15 minutes. How much could he possibly have read??

I wrote back and asked him just that, and this is what he wrote back:

Mark,

I've read so many manuscript in my time that I know if a person knows what they are doing by reading 2 pages. And you definitely know what you are doing. 

So, another "Fabulous Success" in UFO land! Maybe not as big as the Citizen Hearing, but pretty big to me!






Thursday, May 9, 2013

Out of the Past

Memory is a funny thing. I'm close to 53 years old, and I have a pretty hard time remembering what life was like when I was 4 or 5 years old. I remember, in general, having a pretty nice life, even if my older brothers and sisters did pick on me all the time. I remember being my parents' favorite child, too, and wondering if there might be a connection between the two. But as for memories of specific moments of my life at that age, they're harder and harder to come by. Except for that time when I was 3 and my mom was watching this terrifying science fiction TV series called "The Outer Limits" and I was scared out of my wits by this thing:

My own personal childhood trauma: The Galaxy Being from "The Outer Limits"
I was reminded of this recently when I interviewed the witness in the UFO case I'm investigating now for MUFON. She's 23 now, but her Close Encounter of the Third Kind took place when she was 4 or 5. She was sleeping in a bedroom at a relative's house and woke up to see a glowing entity looking in through the bedroom window... Twenty years on, she remembers it as vividly as I remember the alien from "The Outer Limits," which suggests to me that modern science is overlooking a very potent memory aid:

Terror.

I'm not quite sure what to do with that profound revelation, but if you're thinking of stealing the idea I've already patented it.

I've had another interesting observation in the course of this investigation. Because the case involved an entity, I had the opportunity to fill out the "Entity" case investigation form for the very first time, and it's quite a document...

It starts right out asking if the entity in question was human-like, ape-like, reptile-like, insect-like, robotic, an apparition, an unknown, or an other. Then it goes right into "number of heads," "number of eyes," "did eyes glow," and other things the witness may have forgotten to mention in the initial report. Further questions cover the number of ears, noses and mouths on the entity. Interestingly, I'm given a text box to fill in for the number of heads, so I can presumably write in as large a number as I want; you got a bazillion heads, I can report a bazillion heads. When it comes to eyes, noses, mouths and ears, however, I have to choose a checkbox from 1 to 5, or a checkbox that simply says "more." You got a bazillion ears? MUFON doesn't want to hear about it.

"Hear" about it. Get it?

Anyway, on to my point. Even though the Entity form covers the whole gamut of alien-type physical features, both the witness and the investigator are required to convey all information in very human-centric terms. MUFON just assumes that the entity will have heads, ears, noses, elbows, mouths, limbs, skin, etc., just like we do. There's really nowhere on the form to report seeing something with no head, no lips, no toes, nothing vaguely human-like or even earth-like, and I think that's a shame. It shows a lack of imagination, and a certain arrogance, to think that everything has to relate to our form in some way.

Personally, I think they're pods.



Sunday, May 5, 2013

Great Job, Citizen Hearing on Disclosure!

Well done, Steve Basssett and Steven Greer. I've been monitoring mainstream press coverage of your Citizen Hearing on Disclosure, and I think I can safely say that you have set the field of UFO research back about a thousand years. Maybe two thousand.

Does it really do the UFO research effort any good that your event has taken up permanent residence on Huffpost's Weird News page? I think not.

Does it really do the UFO research effort any good that you had a former Canadian Minister of Defense testify at the CHD that “It is certain that at least four species have been visiting earth for thousands of years, and I agree.”? To me, that's the kind of guy you want to keep off the witness stand, because, really... where's his proof? If "it is certain," then there must be proof, right? Where's the proof? And why are you touting this silly claim on your Facebook page?
A recent Huffington Post article on the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure. What's of particular interest here isn't the "We Are Not Alone" headline on the top of the page, but the "IT'S TOO BIG: Man With Largest Penis" headlines that frame the UFO story. You are known by the company you keep, eh?
If you were setting out to bring new respect and credibility to the field of UFO research, a quick read of the news items on The Huffington Post suggests that you may have missed the target (see photo above). But it doesn't stop there: a search through the news headlines shows that all you've really done is given a lot of clever reporters an easy target, and an excuse to paint us all as crackpots, delusional idiots and "low-hanging fruit." How did you pull off this amazing feat? By presenting any and all information and speculation about UFOs and extraterrestrials as equally valid, no matter what its source, whether it's been validated or not, you have tarnished all the data, and the entire field of research. I wouldn't have thought that you would need some random yokel like me sitting at his computer in Wisconsin to point that out to you, but there you are...

For a lobbying and public relations firm, Paradigm Research Group, the sponsors of CHD, have done a shockingly bad job getting positive media coverage for the event. I haven't kept an official count, but pretty much every article I've read about the CHD makes mention of the fact that the former Congresspeople were each paid the princely sum of $20,000 to sit at a table for five days and pretend to be interested in UFOs. Once you put a price tag on the "truth," it's child's play for a reporter to paint the entire event as an exercise in cynicism, which many are doing.

Things are so bad that a New York Times article that doesn't mention the $20,000 payoff until paragraph 11 is touted on the CHD's Facebook page as positive coverage. You just cling to that, guys.

So, no more blogging about this. On to more pressing concerns, like that fact that tonight I am scheduled to interview a woman who has reported a Close Encounter of the Third Kind, and the fact that I've just been contacted by an Australian UFO researcher who has all sorts of great material on Dr. J. Allen Hynek's 1973 trip to his part of the world, including Hynek's investigation of the amazing 1959 "Father Gill" UFO case in Papua, New Guinea. Cool stuff!



Friday, May 3, 2013

Citizen Hearing on Disclosure -- Part 3

Well, I blew it today. I got busy with work and completely missed the final big day of the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure. Boo freaking hoo.

So, I paid a whopping $3.80 to listen and watch the live stream all week, which would have been a bargain had I logged in all five days. That would have worked out to 76 cents a day, a real value in UFO world. But, because I logged off mid-day Wednesday so I wouldn't have to listen to Stanton Friedman's unmitigated rudeness, and then left it off yesterday, and then forgot to log on today, it works out to $1.27 per day. Not such a hot bargain now.
Flying saucers have been flocking to our nation's capitol this week.

To try to make up for it, I just checked the news coverage of the last day of the event, and found this write-up by Alexandra Petri in the Washington Post. This is weird, because all week long the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure fans have been complaining that the mainstream media have been igging them. Not so!

The article is a great read from start to finish, and puts the entire Hearing in its place, but there's one line in particular that stands out. In describing the dizzying panoply of conspiracy theories and abduction stories and classified non-information that permeated--and ultimately defined--the hearing, Petri quipped, "UFOs are just the gateway drug."

Brilliant.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

OMG! Citizen Hearing on Disclosure -- Part 2

Ever since I first blogged about the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure, I have been besieged by comments, some positive, some negative, all interesting and thought-provoking. Well, except for the one that told me I had my head up my ass I should shut the fuck up. That was not thought-provoking at all.

One commenter made the point that the Hearing was valuable because, even though much of the information being presented is ancient, there are a lot of people new to the party who don't know the full history of the UFO phenomenon. Good point. Another commenter said, "UFOs are a joke, because UFO advocates are a joke." Again, good point, and I say that knowing full well that she may have been referring to me.

As I mentioned in that first post, it's never a bad thing when a whole lot of people talk openly about UFOs, what they are, what they mean, what we should be doing about them... And I give the Citizen Hearing credit for starting a lot of conversations this week.

I have been avoiding listening in on the hearing today, though, because I heard something yesterday that just bugged the hell out of me. It was sometime in the afternoon, there were several "witnesses" at a table, and the former Congresspeople were interviewing one of those witnesses, Jesse Marcel, Jr., the son, I might add, of Jesse Marcel, Sr. Now, Jesse, Sr. is famous for having been the first military officer on the scene after the alleged Roswell UFO crash of 1947. He recovered bits and pieces of strange debris from the alleged crash site, and took them home with him that night.

Back home, Jesse, Sr. showed the materials to his wife and kids, and so yesterday Jesse, Jr. was being questioned about the events of that night. But here's the thing: the guy was 11 when this happened in 1947, so that makes him 77 now. He was doing his best to answer the questions about that night 66 years ago, but there were times when he faltered, got confused, lost his train of thought.... all things you would expect of a 77 year-old man trying to recall something that happened 66 years ago.

So what do you think happened? Every time Jesse, Jr. faltered, or got confused, or lost his train of thought, another panelist, Stanton Friedman, would jump in and respond for him. For those of you who don't know, Friedman is a nuclear physicist and an outspoken critic of the government's alleged UFO cover-up; he knows his stuff and can talk UFOs and conspiracy theories 'til the mutilated cattle come home. If they could come home.

Jesse Marcel, Sr. with alleged wreckage.
But Friedman didn't have the floor.

Maybe he and Jesse, Jr. are old buddies and have it all worked out that Friedman can answer Jesse, Jr.'s questions when Jesse, Jr. can't come up with something. Maybe. But it came across as one phenomenally rude person interjecting himself repeatedly into another person's interview. Really, really stupendously obnoxious. Whatever Jesse Jr. had to say was completely drowned out by Friedman, and how, I wonder, does that advance the cause of UFO research, or enrich the historical record of the UFO phenomenon?

I really wanted to hear what Jesse, Jr. had to say, Stanton, but you made it impossible. In fact, you made it seem as though you were trying to cover for Jesse, Jr., for some reason, which, in the context of a "Congressional hearing" -- even a phony one -- is seriously troubling.

So I'm taking a day off from listening to the live stream and instead working on my J. Allen Hynek book. Which brings up an interesting point. A big part of the chapter I'm working on centers on a series of Congressional hearings that took place in 1966, so I've had an interesting time comparing those real hearings of 1966 with the phony hearing that's going on this week. What I've realized is that those real Congressional hearings, in the end, accomplished very little of any lasting value. So why would the organizers of this week's festivities model their event after something that has never worked in the past?

Maybe Stanton Friedman can jump in on this one.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

UFO Hater!

We get letters. Sometimes we go months at a time without getting letters, then, out of the blue we get two in a row!

Just last week, after my second blog post about the Atacama Humanoid, I received this comment:

"logic says it's a fetus that has somehow obtained characteristics of someone older. What single scientific statement has been presented that irrefutably says the person was 6 to 8? Yes, the person who studied the radiographs is an expert, but again, who is to say over the centuries (?) the object didn't change in such a way as to take on characteristics of a 6 yr old? That seems much more likely than a bonafide living 6" tall 6-8 yr old child. The fetus xrays I've seen bear a striking resemblance. I think the Guiness book of records says the shortest adult human (with normal legs) is around 28 inches. She was born like a normal sized baby. Six inches doesn't seem physiologically possible, but I guess some monkeys are that small."

Makes sense to me, especially the part about how years, perhaps centuries of exposure in the world's driest desert made the remains of a fetus take on some of the physical characteristics of an 8-year-old child. That's actually kind of brilliant.

Which is why this is the kind of comment I really enjoy. It's thoughtful, it makes sense, and it makes me consider the issue from a new angle. Thank you, reader!

Then there's the second comment I received this week, in response to my write-up of the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure, now wrapping up its third dismal day at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The second comment is the kind I don't like, because... Well, here, read it for yourself:

"You are apparently a 'debunker' with his head up his own ass. You, quite obviously, have NOTHING to bring to the table. So, shut the fuck up"

That's some kind of UFO hatred going on there. It's not just evil: it's stupid and it's wrong. Anyone who reads this blog at all knows that I am not a 'debunker,' by any stretch of the imagination. I've seen UFOs myself, and I'm a Certified UFO Field Investigator for the Mutual UFO Network, and a State Section Director for MUFON. Let me tell you something, Sam: they don't send 'debunkers' out to investigate UFO sightings.
The Citizen Hearing on Disclosure is being held here, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in the secret sub-basement beneath Filene's Basement.

The head up my own ass thing is, I admit, open for debate, but the next part, about me having nothing to bring to the table, is just plain wrong. I've been writing this blog for nearly two years now, and I think I've already brought quite a bit to the table, and will keep on doing so. In other words, reader, I'm not going to shut the fuck up.

I realize there is something that this potty-mouthed commenter probably hasn't figured out. It's something I've never wanted to address head-on, because it could take away some of the magic of what I'm trying to do here. But I have no choice. The thing is, potty-mouthed commenter, the "me" in this blog isn't really me. He is partly me, mostly me, even, but he is also a made-up character, a bit of a pompous buffoon, and you can't always take what the made-up me says very seriously. But you have to be smart enough to know when it's the real me and the made-up me talking. That's the trick.

Still, in the case of the Citizen Hearing for Disclosure, the real me and the made-up me are in complete agreement. We had a big fight over it after we read your comment, and it almost came to blows, but we sorted it out and we both agreed, sadly, I might add, that the CHD is really pretty silly and probably won't accomplish much of anything.

Don't believe me? Check out the facebook chatter about UFO author Leslie Kean, who was not invited to participate in the Hearing and seems quite happy about it...