High Strangeness: Arthritic Neanderthal!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Arthritic Neanderthal!

Once again, there's some funny business been going on in the comments section, and I feel the need to comment myself.

Let me start with a BIG thank you to Arthritic Neanderthal for chiming in! It's an honor and a pleasure to have you as a reader, AN. Don't be a stranger!

The other commenter making things interesting has chosen to remain anonymous, as is his or her right. This person has taken it upon himself or herself to "recommend" certain people I should interview for my J. Allen Hynek book and to subtly critique my interview selections. This is all good fun, and I do appreciate reader suggestions, but these recent conversations with Anon have been, well, odd...

Anonymous: Any luck contacting (Allen) Hendry?
Me:  None yet, but I haven't been looking too hard lately. The Hynek story becomes very complex when it reaches the CUFOS period, and when the time comes I will be doing extensive research on the parties involved, including Hendry. 

Then on the same day, this...

Anonymous (presumably the same person): Did you interview Ted Phillips for your Hynek book?
Me: Not yet, but I plan to when the time is right.

Followed by this delight...

Anonymous (presumably still the same person): No Hendry and no Phillips... hmmm.
Me: Yes? And your comment is...?
Anonymous: *Crickets*

I'm not going to go into a whole lot of detail about Hendry or Phillips, except to point out that Hendry seems to be a hermit who no longer talks to anyone about UFOs, and Phillips has a very scary website that attacks you relentlessly with virus alerts and pop-up ads -- it's so nasty I'm not even posting the link, because I care so much about you, my readers... So, yeah, those are things I take into consideration when I decide who to interview for my book -- or who not to interview.
I won't settle for the usual suspects. Neither should you.

I'm about to come up on the two-year anniversary of starting this book project, and in two years I've learned that there are two ways to decide who to interview for a book: you can rely on trusted "authorities" to steer you in the direction of who you "should" interview, or you can let your own research and instincts guide you. Two years ago I leaned more towards the former, mostly out of ignorance and necessity, but now, two years in, I'm much more liable to go with the latter.

The last time I attempted to interview someone who was recommended to me by an expert, it was a complete waste of time. I knew 90 seconds into the talk that this person had absolutely nothing of value to tell me about Dr. Hynek, and when he finally wound up his lecture 45 minutes later I hadn't taken down a single note. It was that worthless. Strangely illuminating and entertaining, yes, but of no value whatsoever for my book.

Letting my research and instincts guide me, however, has been amazingly effective, especially over the past six months or so. I've gotten some truly unique material about Hynek's life and work, and the bottom line is that it's way more fun and satisfying to dig up your own interview subjects, or to come across them by sheer dumb luck, than it is to have them suggested to you. Or pushed on you, as the case may be. I'm looking at you, Anonymous.

Besides, if I wasn't going to look for new and unexpected people to interview -- people who have new and unexpected stories to tell about Hynek's life -- there wouldn't be much point in writing the book. I want my book to tell stories and consider opinions that no one has ever heard before, and for that I have to bring as many new voices into the book as I can. And I am happy to say that this strategy is succeeding beyond my wildest dreams...

This doesn't mean there won't be familiar old voices in the book. It just means that, any chance I get, I'll be challenging the conventional wisdom that those old voices so often represent. At the same time, I have to admit that those old voices can sometimes surprise the hell out of you with some totally off-the-wall insights, as I have now discovered on more than one occasion.

So, Anonymous, I repeat my invitation to reveal to the world why you are so concerned that Hendry and Phillips be represented in my book. In the meantime, trust me when I say that my interview choices will be sound. In fact, in the "beyond my wildest dreams" department, I've just lined up an interview that is a pretty incredible coup, in my humble IMHO... with someone deep, deep within the Hynek camp whom I believe has never ever been interviewed on this subject ever before.

Stay tuned for more fun...

Oh, and if it turns out there actually are three of you Anonymous-es out there posting comments, my apologies! You all look the same to me! But, hey, you are really good at coordinating your efforts.


Arthritic Neanderthal said...

Well now that is a warm welcome. I appreciate it. We, uh, don't always get that. I would write more often, but it hurts. You Sapiens types have some great drugs, though, so I'm good for a few hours this evening.

I was thanking you for reading the NASA book so I don't have to. You know what they say about prehistory: It's invariably written by the winners. Makes it a bit hard to take sometimes, if you weren't on the winning team. This way I can wait till you post what lessons my cousins gave to whoever, without having to slog through all that minutia. As much as we revere the Moon, and sing about it and such, and as much as we appreciate the mind boggling achievement of sending actual people there to do science, drive around and play golf, it's just not our thing and I'd rather not read any more about it. I'm sure you understand.

Anonymous said...

If you look closely, you can spot Allen Hendry in the audience at the end.