High Strangeness: October 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Thank You, Mr. UFO

It's been two days since the Burlington Vortex Conference, and I'm still not right. There are no strange marks on my body, but I have been feeling strangely exhausted since I left the Conference, and I don't know why. But I was exposed to a lot of unusual physical and mental energy in my 14 hours with the Vortexers, and when I say unusual what I really mean is un-youuuuu-sual.

Not saying it was a bad experience, mind you, not at all. Just intense, in some surprising ways. During the day, I ran across some fascinating people and some fantastic ideas. Sure, some people and ideas were more accessible and credible than others, but that's kind of the whole point of the conference: nobody is trying to convince you of their point of view or sell you on something you aren't inclined to believe. Everybody there has his or her own unique story to tell, all are welcome to share and what you take away from it is your business.

Want to talk to someone who has traveled all over the world trying to see Fairies? The Vortex conference can hook you up. Want to learn what dark secrets of the paranormal world are revealed only to long-distance truckers late at night? You've come to the right place. Want to find out if you have any alien DNA in your body? They know a guy who can tell you that.

One of the most revealing moments of the Conference came when a presenter explained that, in the hierarchy of alien species, the alien "greys" are pretty low on the totem pole. This is significant because most human/alien encounters involve greys. The presenter said that greys have an average IQ of about 80, which is why, he explained, they often return human abductees to earth miles from where they abducted them; they simply can't remember where they picked the person up. Did you catch that? They're capable of navigating through billions of miles of space to reach earth but can't remember to jot down their victims' addresses... Depending on your point of view, the fact that alien simpletons are sent to deal with earthlings is either tremendously insulting, or it makes perfect sense.

After the last presenter of the evening, when night had fallen and the temperature dropped to the 40s, about 30 attendees made their way five miles out of town to take the "Haunted Woods Tour" and encounter the Vortex first-hand. This was an experience so sublime that I must devote an entire blog post to it later this week... In truth, I still haven't absorbed the full impact of the experience. All I will say for now is that once the 30 of us were all deep in the dark woods, we saw not one, but two UFOs in the sky. We ALL saw them, all 30 of us. I have video that I will post in the next few days, and I think the audio is far more amazing than the video. I was surrounded by 30 people who spent the entire time expressing their gratitude for being witness to this event... Expressing their gratitude!

A gentleman standing nearby me as I videotaped the two UFOs can be heard saying quietly over and over again, "Thank you, Mr. UFO! Thank you, Mr. UFO!" I can't think of a more endearing way to greet a visitor from another world, can you?

(MORE on the Vortex Conference to come...)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

UFOs, Fairies and Vortexes

Apparently word of my blog has failed to spread throughout my home. Tonight at dinner I mentioned that I would have a chance to experience the Vortex first-hand at this weekend's Vortex Conference, and my 14 year-old daughter Cxxxx said, "There's a Vortex?"

After patiently and lovingly explaining that there actually is a Vortex, and that I have blogged about it several times, I tried to explain what the Vortex actually is in terms that would appeal to her. "They say that inside the Vortex you might encounter the Fairie folk," I said, knowing that she believes in fairies and that she would leap at the chance to see them in person. She was moderately interested, but I could tell that she wasn't buying the "Fairies in the Vortex" story. Her position is that, if there are Fairies to be found, they will most certainly not be found hanging around in a Vortex in south-central Wisconsin.

But then she's always been that way. Several years ago, when I took my kids to Ireland on vacation, we made a point to visit the Hill of Tara, a beautiful spot north of Dublin with two claims to fame: it's the spot where Irish kings were traditionally crowned throughout history, and it's the home of the Fairie folk. The Fairie folk, from the folk who invented Fairies.

The trip to the Hill of Tara took place on our sixth or seventh day in Ireland, after six or seven days of me dragging the kids to one prehistoric site after another -- burial mounds here, sacred sites there, all looking suspiciously like the same pile of prehistoric rocks, all seen through a haze of rain and mist, because it just kept coming down the whole time we were there. If there's one thing guaranteed to squash a 10 year-old's enthusiasm and sense of adventure, it's spending six or seven days in the rain, wrapped in a damp poncho, looking at piles of prehistoric rocks. From different angles.

It should have come as no surprise, then, that Cxxxx was not enthused by our rain-drenched visit to the Hill of Tara...

It's really not so much a hill as a rise, dotted with the remnants of prehistoric henges, which amounted to circular trenches scattered about the hill. I thought it was pretty thrilling to walk up and down, in and out among the henges, but we looked and looked and didn't see any Fairies.

Something amazing did happen, though. There, at the home of the Fairie folk, we saw a rainbow... Then another!

I thought Cxxxx would be amazed and delighted. I told her it was proof that the Fairie folk still lived on the Hill of Tara, and I kind of believed it myself.

But even after that Cxxxx insisted that the Hill of Tara "isn't cool enough" for Fairie folk to live there. At that moment, Tinkerbell's light went out.

Fast forward to 2011 and the Vortex. If the Hill of Tara wasn't cool enough for the Fairie folk to live there, the Vortex sure as hell isn't going to rate. So I have my work cut out for me. When I experience the Vortex Saturday, I need to make contact with something -- anything -- that will make it cool enough for the Fairies.

What does this have to do with UFOs? It's called bait and switch, my friend.

Live Battery

The battery charger worked... I know I should be happy, but something keeps nagging at me.

Car batteries don't just die by themselves. Someone or something needs to kill them. Sometimes your car battery dies out on a lonely highway just after you've been buzzed by a UFO. Sometimes it dies overnight in your driveway. Either way, UFOs could be involved, and probably are.

Another thing: when I started the Taurus up just now, the idle was pretty rough. Cars don't idle rough by themselves...

Dead Battery

Bad news on the UFO chase vehicle front... The dead battery from my trusty old Taurus is hooked up to the battery charger as I write this, and God only knows if it can be saved.

Without that battery I can't start the car, and if I can't start the car I can't drive it, and if I can't drive the car I can't respond to UFO sighting reports ("It Gets Me Where I Want to Go," 9/9/2011). I mean, sure, I could use my new car in a pinch. And, yes, I could use my wife's car if my new car wasn't available, but since nobody else in the household drives that would be really unexpected. The point is, I want the old Taurus and only the old Taurus to be my official UFO chase vehicle, because it's so solid and sturdy, it's one of the few places where I can still play my old cassette tapes, it's completely paid for, and, frankly, I don't want the new car to end up in the sights of same alien laser cannon.

So I must get the battery working! And then I must get to work on the transformation. I must somehow get the Taurus from this:

...to this:

I only have a few months, a few tools, and, to be honest, a few dollars. It should be easy enough to find or fabricate a radar dish for the roof, and maybe someday I could even make it functional, but the tank treads and laser-proof bodywork will really stretch my abilities.

I think it's time to see if FUFOR, the Fund for UFO Research, is really as broke as its website seems to suggest...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Power of the Vortex

The power of the Vortex is real. I know this now, for a fact.

No sooner had I settled on Saturday as the day I would attend this weekend's Burlington Vortex Conference than a staff photographer from Milwaukee Magazine emailed to let me know that he had been assigned to take photos for my story, but that he could only do it on Thursday or Friday. Of course it doesn't matter if we're not there the same day -- through the power of print media we can easily fool readers into believing that the pictures were taken on the very same day that I wrote the story -- but it would have been cool to actually work with the photographer.

But the photographer wanted to coordinate with Bxxx and Mxxx, the folks who run the Conference and own The Sci-Fi Cafe, so I offered to stop in at the Skiffy today and clear the landing pad for his arrival, so to speak. To tell the truth, I wasn't in the best frame of mind to be paying calls; I hadn't slept well last night and was feeling a little stress over a big new writing gig I had just accepted, and really just wanted to go home, pour myself a drink, sack out on the sofa and watch some crazy-ass cable show about wild animal hoarders.

When I got to the Cafe, I found Bxxx and Mxxx getting ready for the big event. I introduced myself and told them that I was going to attend the conference and write a story about it for the magazine. I expected them to be a little bit guarded, and for a moment or two that seemed to be the case. But when Mxxx asked me, "What do you write?" I played my ultimate science-fiction trump card: I told her I had written some Star Trek episodes a few years back. Magic. I was greeted as a friend and fellow-traveler and invited into the Inner Sanctum.

Before I knew it, Mxxx was showing me photos of strange and wonderful energy fields she has witnessed at the actual Vortex and explaining what this "language of light" was telling her. And a guest author backed her up with an explanation of how this language is reflected in "The Golden Ratio," the study of which happens to be one of secret nerdy pleasures... It was a lot of information for my tired brain to process, but it was a fun conversation and Mxxx's pictures were pretty striking, and pretty hard to explain.

It proved to be a challenge getting out of there. I'm pretty sure Mxxx and her author friend would have happily kept me there for hours telling me stories of their encounters with the unknown, but I had to excuse myself and leave. I was tired, and wanted to save some stories for Saturday.

But a few minutes later, as I headed out of town, I realized that I no longer felt tired. In fact, I felt strangely refreshed, as though I had just awakened from a long nap. It was a strange, warm energy, and even though it didn't seem to come from anywhere, I knew where it came from.

The power of the Vorex is real. I know this now, for a fact.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Into the Vortex

I need to make a decision, and I need to make it fast. In a few short days the 4th Annual Burlington Vortex Conference will be upon us, and I need to decide on which day I will attend. Had the organizers been charging in some sort of space dollars I might have paid full price to attend the entire four-day event, but they were not. It costs real earth dollars to attend a UFO conference such as this, so I'm only going for one day. Because I'll be covering the event for Milwaukee Magazine, it's vital that I choose wisely...

Do I choose Friday, to get in on the VIP dinner? Or should I go on Saturday, so I can take the Haunted Woods Tour? Or Sunday, so I can get out early?

The choice doesn't get any easier when I look over the speakers list... The crop circle guy is especially appealing, as I've always had an affinity for crop circles. But then so is the guy who has made a surprisingly long-lived career out of investigating the Roswell UFO crash over and over and over again...

Still don't appreciate my difficulties? Read on:

One speaker has written a popular book about a local Wisconsin werewolf, "The Beast of Bray Road." (I've read the book and it has some pretty spooky moments -- and my niece and nephew have friends who have actually seen the Beast!). Another speaker has written a book about mysterious ancient fortresses in Ohio, while yet another wants to tell me why aliens want my soul.

Of course there is the obligatory "Atlantis in Wisconsin" seminar, because, of course! Leaving no stone unturned, this same speaker will also address the long-running controversy of the "Red-Haired Giants of Wisconsin." Then there's the guy who will explain how the pyramids relate to the zodiac (complete with a 20-foot star chart), and will explain how to tell an alien from and angel. Didn't know that was a problem, did you?

Then there are the headliners: well-known UFO researcher and nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman and other well-known UFO researcher Kathleen Marden, co-authors of a great UFO book I recently read ("The Interrupted Journey," 7/27/2011). I know I want to hear these two speak, but Marden is there both Saturday and Sunday and Friedman speaks every day of the event!

Maybe now you can feel my pain... How do I choose? I thought it might help to check out the photos of the speakers, but that did no good... most of them look not so much like UFO and werewolf experts as members of the church bake sale committee.

 I have an idea, but I'm not sure how well it will work... It involves the Vortex, a rift in the space-time continuum, and being in two places at once. Theoretically, it should work. I'll let you know.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

It Was Cold

I have always been a self-starter. If somebody tells me I can't become a Certified UFO Field Investigator until after the first of the year, I'm not going to spend the next two and a half months sitting around and waiting. I'm going to study up on UFO sighting reports, I'm going to look for patterns and outliers, I'm going to try to figure out which investigators gets assigned to which cases, and why. I'm going to look for "The Big One."

So far I have not found any of these things, but I have found some interesting sighting reports. Some are creepy, some are charming, some are puzzling, some are funny, and some... some just make me want to slap up the people filing the reports.

Take this report, for instance: just yesterday, October 22, 2011, a gentleman in Kxxxxxxx reported that he was out on his balcony at 2:30 am having a smoke when he saw a light in the sky that stood out from all the other stars because it was flashing all sorts of colors and flitting around the way a fly flits around. The gentleman called his girlfriend out to the porch, and she spotted the object before he could point it out to her. She said it must be a UFO and then she quickly called the Air Force.

No, I lied. She didn't call anybody. What she did was, she got cold and went back inside. Good job, girlfriend! Thanks for helping to solve the UFO enigma. Hope you got a good night's sleep.

But wait, the guy stayed outside. He wasn't going to let this moment slip through his fingers. Not him! Especially not when he started to get a strange psychic message from the object compelling him to come to it. He figured the object was only a few miles away, and he knew he could reach it in just a few minutes. So he got in his car and headed in the direction of the strange light, urged on by the psychic message that kept drumming through his brain.

No, I lied. He didn't drive anywhere. He went inside and went to sleep, because he worked the next day. Good job, guy! Thanks for helping to solve the UFO enigma. Hope you were really productive at work today.

Meanwhile, what of the UFO? There it is, flashing and flitting, trying so hard to get this couple interested, sending out those psychic messages to that guy, wanting so badly for him to come driving up that road... And they got nothing.

I feel sorry for that UFO. I wouldn't blame it if it just turned right around and went back to Alpha Centauri. And that couple... I'll try to be charitable. Maybe they had just gotten a new sleep number mattress that day. Maybe they're both narcoleptic. I hope so, because otherwise they owe the entire human race a good explanation.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Is Your UFO Running?

This just makes me sad. I was reading up on recent UFO news today and happened upon a site for a UFO research organization that I had never heard of before. I'm not going to share the organization's name, for reasons that will become clear, but I can give you a hint: It has the letter U in it.

Looking over their site, I started reading the catalog of the latest reported sightings, and I was struck by something: a hell of a lot of people report UFO sightings every day. Not just on this site, but on a lot of others as well. I follow a UFO reporting Twitter account and some days they tweet more than Neil Gaiman and Stephen Fry combined.

So, if hundreds and hundreds of people each month report UFO sightings to a multitude of sites like this one, that means there must be many hundreds more who choose not to report their sightings because they're afraid someone like me will blog about them, and many hundreds more who would report their sightings if they only knew how to do it.

But that's not the sad part. That's actually the really quite amazing part, and something I will need to write more about at another time. Because now I want to write about the sad part. Scrolling down the very, very long list of UFO sighting reports on this site, I kept running across messages from the director of the organization scolding people for making prank phone calls to the UFO hotline. Just read this plaintive note and you'll understand why I'm sad:

 "The flood of prank calls we have been receiving goes unabated, despite our efforts to reason with the inconsiderate dolts who seem amused by this nonsense.  We recently received in excess of 60 prank calls during a 16-hour period, many of them from the same group of individuals in Utah.  The volume of calls now takes up, we estimate, the majority of our time, and it is threatening to cause us to have to end our policy of either answering, or returning, all telephone calls placed to the UFO Hotline."

A few frustrating weeks later, this was posted:

 "NEW HOTLINE POLICIES - Because the steady stream of pranks and obscene telephone calls has not abated, we are considering a change in our policy regarding staffing of the Hotline.  On a typical day, 50-80 percent of the calls we receive are hoaxes and pranks, more often than not, accompanied by some of the worst profanity a person could imagine.  This situation is having a deleterious effect on the Director, and we are going to have to fight back..."

Hells Bells. Hoaxes? Pranks? Profanities? What is wrong with these young hoodlums? Who are these inconsiderate dolts and why are they tying up UFO hotlines with their juvenile pranks and japes? Don't they realize they are interfering with important UFO research? And driving the Director to distraction?

I can't believe I have to say this, but please do not make prank calls to UFO hotlines! And please do not use profanities. Unless they are an integral part of your sighting report. It's quite common to say "Holy ****!" or "Holy ****!" or even "Holy ****ing ****!" when encountering a UFO, and we want your report to be as accurate as possible.

Otherwise, keep it clean, bub.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Hey, government! Tell us what you know about UFOs, right now! We know you know, so why do you keep pretending that you don't?

That's the way a lot of UFO people think. They think that the government has known the truth about UFOs -- that they really, truly are spacecraft from another world, carrying alien visitors who may or may not want to cause us harm -- for decades, and has been keeping quiet about it. And the government keeps quiet about it, the thinking goes, because the news would cause widespread chaos and societal upheaval if it got out.

I'm not so sure of that, myself. Why would it cause widespread chaos and societal upheaval if so many of us kind of believe it anyway? I think most of us would just pat ourselves on the back for being smart enough to have known it all along, and go back to our morning coffee. We'd probably be pretty cocky with our skeptical friends and co-workers and relations for a while, but we would deserve that moment of glory after being teased and ridiculed for so long, wouldn't we? I mean, they?

Back to my point. I don't really believe that the government is keeping some big secret about UFOs, but I do think the disclosure folks have a strong enough argument that they deserve their day in court. But here's the thing: I think they are directing their calls for disclosure to the wrong people. I think they should be demanding full disclosure from the UFOs themselves, and whoever or whatever may be inside them. I honestly think they would get better results. Especially if they made it known that they would start ignoring the UFOs.

You read that right. Ignore the buggers. Shun the little beasties. Spurn the mothershippers. Turn off your flashlights and go inside and go to bed. Make them think that you've stopped believing, and then see what happens. I bet they can't go more than five minutes before they're jumping up and down outside your bedroom window clicking and buzzing for your attention. That's when you'll get your Disclosure.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More UFO Sightings Come to Light

I always thought my family was pretty normal. Mom, Dad, three brothers, three sisters, all pretty level-headed, except maybe for me. But now it turns out that two of my level-headed brothers have seen UFOs and failed to report them.

First, my older level-headed college professor brother Dxxx told me that he had seen UFOs several nights in a row some 20 or 30 years ago. He had just started a new job and put in a lot of late nights so often found himself driving home in the darkness along the shore of Lake Mxxxxxxx. One night he saw six or seven orange lights (orange again!) zipping around far out over the lake. They turned and looped and zig-zagged and shot off in every direction then merged together and then split apart before blinking out of existence... And then he saw the same thing every night for several nights in a row. Then one night they didn't appear, and he never saw them again.

Then last night I called my younger level-headed game warden brother Mxxx to wish him a happy XXth birthday, and he told me had had a similar sighting to Dxxx's once while at work. He was out on a night patrol years ago and saw a multitude of colored lights zooming around in the sky several miles away. There was no pattern to their movements, just like the lights Dxxx saw over the lake. They just streaked and circled through the sky in all directions, coming together and splitting apart randomly until they all went away... Mxxx now thinks that he must have seen some sort of training exercise going on over the nearby Air Force base, but he can't be sure. Id like to think that he witnessed the Air Force doing battle with alien invaders, with the fate of the planet hanging in the balance. Kind of impressive that the Air Force won.

But Mxxx had one more story to tell, and this one made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. He told me that when he was 14 or 15 he went on a Boy Scout campout in a heavily forested area near where we lived. He and his buddies were up late, sitting around the campfire, when a fireball streaked across the sky directly overhead and seemed to land somewhere out in the nearby forest. Mxxx said they all had the impression that the fireball had streaked by at a VERY low altitude, and they felt that it had to be close-by. Did these boys run? Did they hide? No, they were Boy Scouts. They were prepared. They were also thrifty, kind, clean and reverent, but that hardly mattered under the circumstances.

I have no doubt that the boys of Troop XX would have done battle with whoever or whatever might have emerged from that fireball, using their jackknives and hatchets to save us all from alien invasion. Mxxx says they were all too jacked up to sleep, so they huddled around the campfire, no doubt sharpening those jackknives and hatchets and practicing their knot-tying, ready for the invasion that never came. Seriously, can you imagine anything more terrifying for a bunch of 14 year-old boys than to be out in the deep dark woods in the middle of the night and to see a UFO pass overhead and appear to land?

I am now so impressed with my younger brother... In his lifetime he has witnessed two possible alien invasion attempts, and yet he goes about his daily life as though it never happened. I think it's time I asked my other brothers and sisters to tell me about their UFO experiences. We all have to get it out in the open.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Strange Markings

In a recent post, I wrote a brief description of the Roswell incident ("The Roswell Challenge," 10/13/11), in which a New Mexico rancher found the wreckage of a flying saucer on his property and then the Air Force engaged in a coverup so inept that ever since then any time the Air Force has anything to say about UFOs everyone takes it for granted that they are lying. One intriguing detail of the story involves the wreckage itself, and the strange symbols that were imprinted on the strange metal...

I think I have it figured out. I recently acquired a QR code for my Lone Wolf UFO Field Investigator undertaking, and here it is:

I have no idea how it works. Am I supposed to squint at it? Do I hold it up to the mirror? I think I can see Abraham Lincoln's face in there somewhere, but it comes and goes. All I know is that when I scan it with my smart phone it takes me to... here! Suddenly my blog appears on my phone: same words, same pictures, only smaller and somehow not quite as funny.

Still, I think this is how you get your name out in the UFO biz. As I go forward, I can incorporate this symbol on my letterhead, on my official MUFON I.D. Card, on the doors of my UFO chase vehicle, and on any printed material that I may produce, and anyone who sees it and scans it will led inexorably to my domain: highstrangenessufo.com. I think this is what the Roswell aliens were up to with their funny symbols: branding.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The August Flap

I have written extensively about my UFO sighting this past August, an experience I shared with my wife and daughter, but I didn't know until tonight that our sighting was part of a flap... What's a flap? A flap is a concentrated group of UFO sightings taking place in a short time frame.

According to MUFON's records, there were twice as many UFO sightings reported this past August than the monthly average for 2011. MUFON's monthly average is about 500 sightings, but in August they got 1,000 panicked phone calls. The question is, why?

In a recent interview, MUFON's International Director (and my new e-mail pal), Clifford Clift, hypothesized that there were more sightings this August because there were so many alien invasion movies in theaters this summer. He could be right. This past August, millions of Americans went to see "Super 8," "Cowboys & Aliens" and "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" in theaters, and it is possible that they all started watching the skies as a result. But a look at the box office records on IMDBPro shows that at least as many moviegoers were also going to see "The Help" and "The Smurfs," two movies bravely dealing with how people with different skin color get along, and I don't recall that race relations improved in any way in August... So, I'd say the jury is out on the Hollywood connection.

I have a theory that, I think, makes a little more sense. I started writing this blog on July 20th, and a mere twelve days later August happened. And with August came the August flap, of which my sighting was a part. Could it be any more clear that this blog has caused a 100% increase in UFO sightings? And how strange is it that my wife, my daughter and I were part of that phenomenon? It almost seems as though we saw that UFO because I started writing this blog...

High strangeness, indeed.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Vortex

Up until recently, the city of Burlington, WI, was nothing more to me than the site of a particularly unpleasant summer job back in my college days, and a place where I could fill my flex-fuel Ford (and soon-to-be UFO chase vehicle) with E-85. Then I heard about the Fourth Annual Burlington Vortex Conference...

Turns out, there's more to this little southern Wisconsin burg than I had thought. It's got a Vortex. That makes sense; you can't have a Vortex Conference without a Vortex. But what is a Vortex? One website claims that the Burlington Vortex is "One of the Strongest Vortices in the World!" I actually created my own Vortex this morning when I stirred cream and sugar into my coffee and created a swirling whirlpool in my mug... I think I can safely say that that was one of the weakest vortices in the world, but it serves to illustrate a point: a Vortex is a phenomenon in which various things get sucked in and swirled together and something entirely different comes out the other end. That is actually a not altogether inaccurate description of the much-hated summer job, so maybe I knew about the Burlington Vortex on some level all along.

The Vortex itself seems to be a doorway or passage that can suck ordinary earthlings into a world of magic and mystery and allow us to make contact with otherworldly beings, which sounds pretty cool and makes the $125 I spent to attend one day of the Conference seem like a pretty good deal. That's only $62.50 per plane of reality per day; what other Vortex can beat that value proposition?

In truth, I am really looking forward to the Conference, not only because of the Vortex but because it brings together some of the brightest lights in UFO and paranormal research ("UFO People," 9/7/11). But it's coming up in two short weeks, and I have to decide which of the three days I will attend. This has suddenly become a pressing matter, as I have been commissioned by a magazine to write a piece about the event, so I want to attend the Conference on the day with the most colorful lineup of speakers... Do I cover the Roswell expert? The Vortex expert? Can I interview them both and write one article for each plane of reality? If so, will I get paid double?

Lots to consider here, but looking over the speakers roster at http://www.livinginthelightms.com/tickets I am drawn to the crop circles guy...

This is going to be fun.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Roswell Challenge

The other night I was in a bookstore, a Barnes & Noble, and naturally sought out the paranormal & occult section... B&N seem to think that this corner of the store will appear more respectable if they call it the "New Age" section, but it's chock full of books about Bigfoot, 2012, Hitler's secret deals with Nostradmus, Jesus being a spy for the CIA and all sorts of very un-respectable things, so I don't know who they think they're fooling.

Anyway, I looked to see what they had in the way of UFO books and found two all-new exposes of the Roswell incident. I resisted buying either, because it's easy to get over-Roswelled. And that's a problem.

You may be familiar with the events of July 8, 1947... A rancher finds strange, lightweight but very strong metallic wreckage inscribed with odd symbols on his New Mexico ranch... He hauls the wreckage home with him, shows it to his family, his neighbors, the cops... Cops call the nearby Air Force base at Roswell... Air Force Officers inspect the wreckage, think it's from another world, and announce to the press that they have recovered the remains of a crashed spaceship... Sensational news story about the Air Force recovering a crashed flying saucer hits the wire services and goes national... Freaked out Air Force officials in Washington squash the story, claiming that the rancher and the Air Force officers at Roswell are mistaken and the wreckage was the remains of a crashed weather balloon... Rancher and Roswell Air Force officers are humiliated and marginalized, and a legend is born.

But of course the Air Force was lying all along... There really was a crashed spaceship. They recovered alien corpses, perhaps an intact flying saucer, shipped them all to Wright-Patterson AFB outside of Cincinnati, performed all sorts of autopsies, shot some video, gave to it to Fox News, and, well... the rest of a legend was born.
You may not think that, after 64 years, there could possibly be anything more to write about Roswell, but, oh, you would be wrong, and Barnes & Noble can prove it. So can Amazon. I just checked on my kindle, and the kindle store has 24 pages of books with "Roswell" in the title. Granted, there could be a "Roswell Cookbook" in there bringing the overall count down, but it's still a lot of Roswell books.

My problem is not deciding which true story of Roswell is the true-est. My problem is figuring out something I can write about Roswell that hasn't already been written. What angle is left? Just this year a book came out proving that the Roswell flying saucer was a Soviet aircraft piloted by "alien-like children" genetically-engineered by Nazi medical pioneer Josef Mengele. I swear, I did not make that up. The author even scored an interview segment with Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show." She has got some publicist.

So, where does that leave me? On the fringes once again. Well, I may be down but I am most certainly not out. I know that there is one more Roswell story out there that is truer than true and just waiting for me to discover it and write about it. And when I do, I must get the name of that publicist.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Joining the Mothership

One thing about blogging: it's hard to do when you're traveling for work, which is what I've been doing for the past few days, and it's even harder to do when you're enjoying a beautiful Indian summer in October in Wisconsin, which is what I was doing before then.

But, in the time I've been AFK, I got another great letter from Clifford Clift, the International Director from MUFON, saying he's taken a look at my blog and that he thinks it's ok to poke fun of MUFON. Even better, he says that MUFON needs people like me, he thanks me for becoming a MUFON Field Investigator, and he tells me to keep up the good work.

There's a lot he didn't say, however, like when I would get my jet-black Suburban, but I'm sure that will all become clear in the weeks to come. I'm sure there are many things he's not allowed to tell me until I pass the MUFON Field Investigator test, so I will be patient.

Meanwhile, I have some important things to think about now, like... how do I maintain my Lone Wolfishness when I've just been invited into the mothership? Can it be done? Can I be the Hawkeye Pierce of UFO research? (I'd settle for being the Trapper John of UFO research. But not the B.J. Hunnicutt of UFO research.)

As with everything I've experienced since starting this blog, I'm quite sure that my path will reveal itself to me in short order.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Message From Headquarters

I knew when I started this blog that it would lead to many unexpected twists and turns, but last night I hit a twisty-turn, or maybe even a turny-twist, that I really did not expect.

A couple days ago, I posted my new and improved list of "Ten Things You Should Do When You See a UFO," as a counterpoint to the 17-year-old list of the same name on the MUFON website ("When You See a UFO" 10/5/2011). I thought it would make a pretty dandy resource for the aspiring UFO contactee, and I wanted to share it with MUFON.

So I sent the list directly to MUFON International Director Clifford Clift, and waited. I wasn't completely sure what to expect, but Mr. Clift's response both surprised and delighted me. This is what he wrote: 

"I really like your top ten things to do when seeing a UFO.  Is there a chance we could run this in the Journal?  I don’t know if the Journal committee will approve it, but I like it."

"All the best,
Clifford Clift, ID MUFON"

How can I not love this guy? Am I going to take him up on his offer? How can I not?

Of course, it means that a few folks from MUFON may take a gander at this blog as a result, and they may bristle at my approach to their organization specifically and to UFO research in general. They may decide not to print my list in their international newsletter, and they may even bar me from becoming a MUFON Field Investigator. But, in the fine tradition of the thousands of UFO contactees and abductees who have risked their reputations and their livelihoods to go public with their stories, I have to take that chance. It is time to come out of hiding and face the clicking and buzzing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Color me creeped out.

Two nights ago my wife and I were having dinner when my cell phone rang. Like most people, I don't like having my dinner interrupted by a phone call. What made it worse was that it was a number I didn't recognize from an area code I had never heard of: 661-388-1670.

I ignored it, but was curious enough to check the 661 area code. Turns out it's in southern California, covering a wide swath of territory north of Greater Los Angeles, and including parts of four different counties. Interesting, but you don't read this blog to learn about geography.

After dinner I checked to see if the mystery caller had left a voicemail message. I have a lot of friends in southern California, so it seemed possible that one of them had called from a new number that I didn't recognize. But there was no message. Rude bastard.

I forgot about the call until this morning, when I saw it again in my call history and decided to go CSI. A little bit of targeted Googling revealed that the '388' exchange most likely originated from Kern County. Still no help. Who the hell lives in Kern County? Everybody I know in southern California lives in Greater LA, as close to the ocean as possible.

Then something strange happened. I came upon an internet site called "800notes-Directory of Unknown Numbers." The site seems to be dedicated to cataloging spoof telephone numbers, numbers that are known for irritating, intrusive but ultimately untraceable calls...

So I start reading the site, and, lo and behold, a whole slew of people have been getting nuisance calls from 661-388-1670, all within the past month or so. Seriously, when I saw those ten digits at the top of the webpage I got the chills... I read on, and learned that some people get a recording promising them lower interest rates on their credit cards if they call back now. Some get a dead line when they pick up. Some, like me, who don't answer, get no message. Some people call back and get on the line with someone who hangs up as soon as they start to ask questions, but most seem to just get a "mailbox full" message.

That's what I got: a "mailbox full" message, delivered by a generic female phone company voice. But at the point in the recording where the person who owns the mailbox states his or her name, there's a terrifically creepy, vaguely male-sounding voice that says something that-- well, it's no language I know. "Shmleaulgh" is what it sounds like. "Scloughhhl." "Cleauuushgl." Every time I listen to it, it sounds different. But every time it creeps me the hell out. 

Who are you, 661-388-1670? Are you a UFO occupant? Are you a Man In Black? Can you really lower the interest rate on my credit card?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Now I've Done It

So, I just sent an email to Mr. Clifford Clift, the International Director of MUFON, with my revised-for-the-21st-Century list of the ten things you should do when you see a UFO ("When You See a UFO" 10/5/2011). Will he like my list? Will he respond to me at all? I make no predictions.

When You See a UFO

Writing this blog has given me a lot of ideas, all of them good ones. One of my favorites is the idea to revise MUFON's official list of the ten things you should do when you see a UFO (Remain Calm, 9/27/2011). It's not that there's anything inherently wrong with MUFON's list, it's just that it was written in 1994, and it seems to me that the world has changed a bit in the past 17 years.

It also seems to me that MUFON's list is kind of obvious and predictable and boring, and predicated on the idea that you should spend the entire time that you're in the presence of a UFO making objective measurements and observations. That's like having a vision of Jesus and trying to get his inseam.

Here, then, is my list of the ten things you should do when you see a UFO, in no particular order (except for the first one, which really is the most important):
  1. ENJOY! This could be the coolest, most amazing thing that ever happens to you; do you want to spend the whole time looking for your theodolite? Just stare at the object, empty your mind, embrace the moment, and soak up the wonderfulness of the experience.
  2. Remember every detail of the experience really hard. The more deeply, intensely and sincerely you remember it, the harder it will be for aliens to make you forget.
  3. You make the first move. Try to communicate with the object with a series of buzzes and clicks.
  4. You have your phone with you, right? Take as many pictures of the UFO as you possibly can, but only if you are less than, oh, twenty feet from the object. Your phone camera is crap, so unless you're right on top of the UFO all you're going to get is crap pics of a blurry little smudge that looks like it's fifty miles away. Nobody will believe your story, your friends will laugh at you, and you will have to spend a whole lot of money on a better phone.
  5. If your sighting takes place near a nuclear power station, try to get the manager to shut down the main reactor before the UFO taps into it and becomes more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
  6. If you encounter a UFO occupant, offer it a bottle of orange soda pop. They love it.
  7. Get the UFO captain to give you a star map. These are unbeatable.
  8. Some famous encounters with especially attractive UFO occupants have led to sexual relations between the human and the UFO occupant. Do your best.
  9. Remember, the UFO may have traveled a very long way, and may be visiting earth for the first time. You only get one chance to make a good first impression.
  10. After the UFO leaves, check the time to see how many hours have gone missing. If it's more than five or six, you may want to perform an all-body alien implant inspection, which I imagine is a lot like checking for ticks after a hike.
  11. Prepare for a visit from the Men In Black. Try to trick them into revealing their true purpose.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Beware the Trickster

There's a longstanding tradition in myth and legend of the trickster, a supernatural being or God who delights in leading humans up the garden path... The trickster lies, and flatters, and makes ridiculous dares and absurd bets, and plays stupid, and cheats, all with the apparent aim of bewildering humans, who, it should be said, are pretty easily duped.

The trickster is anarchic, and fun, and brilliant, and manipulative, and sometimes menacing. The trickster can be as folksy as Brer Rabbit, or as enigmatic as the coyote of Native American legend, or as devious as the Norse God Loki (I have to admit, I've been a Loki fan ever since seeing him in action in Neil Gaiman's brilliant novel, "American Gods").

Why do I bring this up? Because there is a school of thought in the field of UFO research -- a school of thought that I subscribe to -- that says that UFOs, and the entities that often appear from inside them, are modern iterations of the age-old trickster God, and that they're messing with us.

They want us to know that something is going on, something just outside the range of our senses, but they don't want us to know what. They are tricksters, and they will do whatever they have to do to keep us chasing after clues while never allowing us to find the smoking gun... Famed UFOlogist Jacques Vallee has written on this idea extensively; he refers to UFOs and their occupants as "Messengers of Deception," a term I have always quite liked.

But why would UFOs and their occupants be trying to lead us up the garden path? Why does the trickster keep tricking us? Well, what if keeping us off-kilter is their way of helping us grow and evolve? What if the absurdity and illogic of the UFO experience is meant to subtly re-order our thought processes, to tweak our perceptions, to rewire the human race, one UFO witness at a time? This makes as much sense to me as any other UFO "explanation," and it's why I keep needling the MUFON-types about their need for every UFO case to be "The Big One," the one that will "prove" to the world that UFOs are "real." I just don't think it's going to happen that way. You're never going to "prove" anything when the trickster is at play.

Consider the "Confuse-A-Cat" segment from "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and tell me it doesn't parallel the UFO phenomenon and its effect on humans. Are we not the cat? Are the UFOs not the Confuse-A-Cat brigade?

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Jxx Factor

A while back I wrote about "The Soda Pop Factor," a term coined by UFO researcher Dr. James MacDonald to describe a jarring, out-of-context detail that comes up in a report of a UFO encounter and makes that report more credible ("The Soda Pop Factor, 9/15/11). Ever since writing that post, I've been thinking about another credibility booster that I have encountered: I call it "The Jxx Factor."

Jxx was a friend of mine in high school. He was a quiet guy, pretty shy and reserved, but fun to hang around with. He was happiest drinking beer with his friends and working under the hood of his old Camaro. A steady, no-surprises kind of guy.... or so I thought.

One night some of us were drinking beer and talking, and out of the blue Jxx became very agitated and started telling us about something that had happened to him recently. We could tell from Jxx's tone that he was terrified to tell us, but even more terrified to keep holding it in. His body was tight, his cheeks were flushed, his beer bottle was shaking in his hands. He took a gulp of beer and he spilled...

Jxx told us about a perfectly ordinary day when he had fallen asleep on the sofa on his porch... He woke up with a bump and realized he had rolled off the sofa in his sleep and hit the floor. But when he opened his eyes the whole world was upside-down. He had actually bumped into the ceiling... He was floating eight feet above his body, which still lay motionless on the sofa.

He did not enjoy the sensation. In fact, he freaked out when he saw his body far below him on the sofa, and scrambled to get back into it. Somehow, he didn't know how, we was able to re-enter his body, and he woke up instantly, absolutely convinced of the reality of what had just happened.

I lost contact with Jxx after high school, but I can never forget his shaking voice and shaking hands as he told his best friends about his shattering out-of-body experience. But here's my point: I never doubted him for a second, for one simple reason: Jxx was about the least imaginative person I knew. That's "The Jxx Factor." When someone who lives completely in the here-and-now, who is not taken to flights of fancy, who only believes in things he can see, hear and touch, confides to you that he has had a terrifying experience that has completely destroyed his sense of himself and his concept of reality... I think he's pretty credible. Jxx couldn't begin to understand or explain what he experienced, he wished it had never happened to him, and he hoped it would never happen again. He had no reason to tell us this story, other than it really happened to him.

Jxx died in 2006, so I will never know if there was more to the story than what he revealed to us that night, but I bet there was. R.I.P., Jxx.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hanging Out My Shingle

I am a little disappointed with Craigslist. I just posted an ad on CL, offering my services as a UFO Investigator to the people of the Greater Chicago area, but I'll be surprised if I'm bombarded with responses to the ad. The problem is that Craigslist does not have  acategory under its Services section that makes any real sense for a UFO Investigator... Do I list myself under "Skilled Trade?" "Creative?" Therapeutic?"

In the end I chose to list the ad in the "Small Biz" category, not because I liked it, but because I had no other real choice. What I'm doing really isn't a business, and there's nothing small about it.

So... in the normal course of things, it seems unlikely that I'll get much business from my CL ad. But since when does UFO research follow the normal course of things?

With that in mind, here is the text of my Craigslist ad:

"Have you seen strange objects or phenomenon in the sky that you can't explain? Do you have "missing time" episodes that you can't remember? Have you been abducted by alien beings and taken to their ship? 
"If you've been dissatisfied with the services provided by other UFO Investigators, contact me. I'll investigate your case and help you understand the true nature of of your experience. No charge for services. Discretion is assured.
 "UFOs only; I do not investigate Bigfoot sightings, poltergeist activity, out of body episodes, or past life experiences."

I believe that whatever force is behind the UFO phenomenon will lead people to share their UFO stories with me. And I believe that I will be solicited by a lot of small business service providers.