High Strangeness: UFO Goofballs

Thursday, July 20, 2017

UFO Goofballs

No, I'm not talking about the Roswell Dream Team.

The UFO Goofballs I'm talking about resurfaced this week in a video recorded in 1990, and while their hijinx may be mostly harmless they will still make everyone in UFO world cringe.

There's a lot of cool stuff in CUFOS files, like this amazing drawing of a UFO by the commercial artist who reported it.
I uncovered the video earlier this week, when I appeared on a public TV show in Chicago called "Chicago Tonight," to talk about my J. Allen Hynek bio, The Close Encounters Man. CT is a nightly public affairs program on WTTW Channel 11, and I was slated to go on last, after some Illinois politicians and a Roman Catholic Cardinal, of all people. The producer of the show told me right off that he was a long-time UFO buff, so that put me right at ease, and we had a fun chat and a few good laughs as he prepped me for my interview.

At one point he asked me, "Do you remember an old show called 'Wild Chicago?'" I did not, so he filled me in. WC was a series WTTW produced in the distant past of the 1990s that showcased offbeat people and event in Chicago, and in one episode in 1990, they profiled an organization that called itself "CUFOS," or "The Center for UFO Studies."

What happens when Wild Chicago visits the Center for UFO Studies? Well, it's pretty nutty, as it turns out. CUFOS was a little directionless in 1990; Hynek had disengaged himself from running the organization in the mid-80s, and passed away in '86, and the folks running CUFOS were not yet fully immersed in Roswell fever, so the CUFOS gang of 1990 comes across seeming like a bunch of excited people with not enough to do...

There are at least five CUFOS staffers and volunteers on hand for the shoot, but the man in charge is Dr. Mark Rodeghier, who still serves as CUFOS Scientific Director, who starts the four-and-a-half segment by saying to the reporter, "I suppose like everyone who comes here, you've come to see the alien bodies, right?"

It's a funny moment, and because I know Mark personally I know that he was just trying to keep the tome of the interview light. But that tone takes a beating throughout the segment, as the TV crew seeks out the weirdest and most embarrassing things they can find...

First there's a shot of a tabloid cover taped to the wall that reads, "I was a Slave in a UFO Labor Camp."

Then there's the volunteer who describes himself as a CUFOS "minion" and describes his job in this way: "I'm here to defend the galaxy from intergalactic invasion."

There are random shots of the reporter on the floor playing with tops and mugging for the camera.

Staffers show off various silly drawings of aliens and say things like, "They often have some sort of apparatus around them as well," or, "Often there's communication, but it's telepathic"

The camera pans past some books on a table and comes to rest on one titled, "Round Trip to Hell in a Flying Saucer."

So, yeah... The CUFOS people are clearly trying to keep things light and fun and a bit ironic, but the TV crew isn't exactly in on the joke, so the whole thing just feels weird and unfortunate.

Then there's this very curious statement by Mark Rodeghier:
"One of things people experience is being shown a movie, like a 3-D movie, that's often projected in space, and the aliens look at their reaction to this movie. They often are shown scenes of great terror.or fright or great emotion, Like a woman reported that she saw her husband in a plane, coming to land the plane, and the plane crashed  on the runway."
This quote is almost too bizarre to be believed. Has anyone ever heard of such a thing before? I really have to check it out with Mark!

Watch both videos here.

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