High Strangeness: September 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Baby UFOs

UFO research has its pleasures. I have finished reading "The UFO Gap," the article written by Dr. J. Allen Hynek for the December, 1967 Playboy, and I loved it.

Let me clarify. I did not love the article because it was in Playboy. I loved it because it was a well-written article that layed out a very clear strategy for a scientific study of the UFO phenomenon and it gave me a whole lot of material for the Hynek book.

In my favorite passage, Hynek makes the case for developing an active approach to UFO research as an alternative to the standard passive approach of investigating sightings after they occur (which, in all honesty, is what I do as a MUFON Certified UFO Field Investigator).

He starts out by stating that the passive study of UFOs "is capable of establishing the likelihood that the UFO phenomenon represents something heretofore not recognized in the present-day scientific framework," but is incapable of actually proving it.

"The passive method..." he says, "puts me in mind of the story told about the explorer who had come back from a dinosaur-egg-hunting expedition in the Gobi desert. In his lecture, the explorer presented many cogent reasons why the eggs they discovered were dinosaur eggs. He pointed out that they were about the size and weight to be expected of dinosaur eggs, allowing for dessication and the ravages of time, and that they had about the right color, given the effects of weathering -- all of this leading to strong likelihood that the eggs were, indeed, dinosaur eggs. 'And furthermore,' the lecturer stated at the conclusion of his talk, 'when we opened one of the eggs, it had a baby dinosaur in it.'

"What is needed in the UFO problem," Dr. Hynek concluded, "is a baby UFO somewhere in the crates of UFO reports."

Sad to say, 45 years later we still haven't found the baby UFO, and there are a lot more crates full of UFO reports now then there were when Hynek wrote this.

UFO baby. Was Dr. Hynek being this literal?

Notes From UFO HQ

Now that I'm a State Section Director for MUFON I'm starting to get edicts from UFO HQ, and it's becoming clear to me that the organization is in a state of utter chaos...

Yesterday my State Director forwarded a letter from the MUFON Director of Investigations, and it's shocking. The letter is laid out in 8 bullet points, so you know it's serious. The DOI just starts right out barking orders and never lets up.

If I shared everything with you, I would be placing us both in grave danger, so I'll do a little editing for your protection:
The be-strapped cast of TV's "Chasing UFOs" never seem to have to follow any rules. Why?
  1. For some reason, photos and videos from witnesses must not be submitted to MUFON's photo experts until after the investigation has been completed by the Field Investigator. Apparently this is modeled on the age-old legal principle of not introducing damning evidence until after the jury has reached a verdict.
  2. Eight states (and one District of Columbia) do not have State Directors, so other SDs are being asked to take on new states. Some may see this as a problem; I see it as an opportunity. By the end of the day, I could be MUFON State Director for New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah, Alaska and Hawaii. Personally, I don't think Washington D.C. rates a State Director, because it is not a state and it doesn't have much sky. Speaking of small skies: New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island barely have enough sky between them to have UFOs seen in. On the other hand: Alaska.
  3. There are 1,500 open UFO sighting cases from foreign countries just sitting there waiting to be investigated, and I am, alas, mono-lingual.
  4. MUFON's new Science Review Board is looking for scientists and engineers to volunteer. NOTE: they must be brilliant.
  5. There is a Board Meeting coming up, but I am not at liberty to disclose any particulars. 
  6. The "Insufficient Data" category for case disposition is under review. Until the new guidelines are announced, Field Investigators must continue to investigate until sufficient data is found.
  7. There is a serious problem with State Directors hogging all the good cases for themselves, leaving Field Investigators feeling sad and lonely. I believe I called this one a while back, thank you.
  8. A new report-writing format was introduced over 90 days ago, and some naughty Field Investigators have yet to adopt the new format. For this they will pay the ultimate price, says the mighty Director of Investigations: "The Executive Director has already authorized the inactivation of any Field Investigator who does not comply with the new directive." 
So, we're short on staff, we're unsure of our standards, and we're instigating a witch hunt. And I am part of it all.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

We Must Catch Up With the Soviets!

I got my December 1967 issue of Playboy in the mail today (why is the Post Office so slow?), and the article by Dr. J. Allen Hynek entitled "The UFO Gap" is begging for my attention.

Turns out "The UFO Gap" refers to what Hynek feared at the time was the growing disparity between what the United States knew about UFOs and what the Soviet Union knew about UFOs. Since he wrote this article after spending 20 years consulting with the U.S. Air Force on the analysis of UFO sightings, it was probably a reasonable concern for the man to have had in 1967.

The frontspiece of the magazine introduces the article thusly: "Dr. Hynek, the nation's foremost authority on unidentified flying objects, proposes a national reporting network that might put the United States on an equal footing with Russia in the race to identify -- and possibly contact -- the UFOs. That the Soviets may be ahead of the U.S. was brought home to Dr. Hynek when he attended an international conference on UFOs in Prague last summer."

Could it be true? Could the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Premiere Alexei Kosygin, have been in contact with alien civilizations in 1967? Is it a coincidence that a mere two months before Dr. Hynek's article appeared in Playboy, the Soviets completed the first successful automated orbital docking procedure in space, between the Kosmos 186 and Kosmos 188 spacecrafts? Is it possible that they have learned this nifty little trick from aliens...? And how do you explain the odd synchronicity of two spaceships docking with each other at the very same time that Dr. Hynek is writing an article for a sex magazine? It makes me blush.
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I haven't even read the article yet and I think Hynek was on to something. And it didn't take me long to find supporting evidence. Take a look at this Soviet postage stamp from the year -- you guessed it: 1967 -- entitled "Satellite of Extraterrestrial Civilization."

Look at that stamp. Look at it. This is not some fanciful imagining of what some far-off alien civilization might look like... This is an intricately detailed plan -- one might even say a blueprint -- for an alien space station in earth orbit.

Now think about this: How weird would it have been to have lived in Moscow in 1967, and gotten this issue of Playboy in the mail, with this stamp affixed to it? It would have been pretty weird.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Drop of Dawn

Have I mentioned how fascinating it is to interview UFO witnesses? Seriously, if I wasn't in this racket for the UFO stuff, I would want to be in it for the psychology of it all...

For example, how do you get someone to describe nothingness? 

I spent a half hour last night interviewing an extremely nice married couple about their recent UFO sighting, and spent a lot of that time trying to coax a good description of nothingness out of them. Did I vary somewhat from the official MUFON questionnaire? Eh, maybe. There's actually nothing in the MUFON canon that allows for a Certified UFO Field Investigator's finessing a witness' powers of description, because... well, that's not completely objective. It's leading the witness.

Okay, so maybe I blew it, but wait 'til I finish the story before you throw stones, ok? Because it really worked out well.

Here's how the witness described the event in his initial report to MUFON: "Then again directly above me very high in the sky there was another flash... This emanated from absolutely nothing visible. The 'flash' was black like a hole being ripped in the sky with a dull black-red border extending outward from the origination point. The flash didnt seem like an actual flash of visible light at all but rather a transparent shockwave of some sort." He added that his wife grew frustrated trying to describe it, because she could think of nothing to compare it to...

I thought the whole thing was pretty damn interesting, so I kept encouraging the couple to find new ways to describe this flash of nothing. At first all that did was add to their frustration. Which... again is a bad thing for an investigator to do... But these witnesses were so articulate and so deeply engaged in their story that I didn't want to let off...

The husband, Kxxxx, told me that their first reaction after the hole in the sky dissipated was to try to come up with a rational explanation. Heat lightning? Satellites colliding in orbit? They tried and tried, but no explanation they could think of was quite right. What do you do then? According to Kxxxx, when you've exhausted all the rational possibilities, "you have to go fringe."

So they did. Kxxxx and his wife Dxxxx tried again to describe their apparition to me: "It was directly above me at a substantial distance... It did not emanate from an object... There was an aura emanating from around it, but it was dark... It looked like a hole opening up... The boundaries were light and expanding... It disappeared in less than a second... It started out from a point of light and expanded to the size of a basketball held at arm's length... You knew it wasn't normal, it didn't fit into any categories..."

But they still weren't quite capturing it. I knew it and they knew it, but there didn't seem to be anywhere to go with it. So I started wrapping up the interview, and that's when Kxxxx said, "You know what it was like..."

I stopped and listened. There was a new certainty in Kxxxx's voice as he said, "Have you ever seen what happens when you mix water and oil in a pan, and then you take a drop of Dawn and drop it into the pan?"

Yes! That was it! A drop of Dawn -- Dawn dishwashing detergent! Of course! The soap seems to explode on the surface of the oily water, expanding almost instantaneously from a single drop to a huge bloom... Here's a Youtube video that shows the experiment, with milk and food coloring added for visual appeal.

Turns out that was the description that Kxxxx and Dxxxx had been going for all along, and they finally expressed it in a way that erased all the frustration they had been feeling. And all it took was a little rule-bending on my part, and a lot of free association on their part. And now we have at least a mental image of what they saw in the sky that night...

PS: I also mentioned in my last post how surprised Kxxxx was to get my call about investigating his and his wife's sighting, and in our interview, he explained why that was... Turns out they had reported a UFO sighting to MUFON back in 2008 and had never gotten a call. Back then they were living in northern Arizona and on two occasions had seen a strange object that glowed red like an ember fall from the sky then stop before hitting the earth, and then flash away across the horizon. They now believe it was an experimental aircraft from a nearby Air Force base, but at the time they were seriously puzzled and called MUFON immediately. It's too bad the Arizona MUFON crowd didn't bother to investigate...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Flash of Nothingness

Tonight I started my investigation of Case #XXXXX, otherwise known as "The Big One." At approximately 7:40 p.m. I called the witness, a Mr. Sxxxxx, who lives about three hours north of me in Wxxxxx, WX, and identified myself as the Certified MUFON Field Investigator assigned to investigate his recent UFO sighting.

His reaction was unexpected. It took him a few moments to figure out what I was talking about, which surprised me. I figured this guy had been spending every evening for the past month waiting by the phone for someone to call him up to say they would be investigating his UFO sighting, but apparently not. He's got a life or something.

I felt kind of bad about his trepidation. Did he think I was one of the Men In Black, sent by unknown powers to ridicule and harass him? Did he think I was with The Government, sent by other unknown powers to ridicule and harass him? Did he think I was one of his neighbors, sent by still other unknown powers to ridicule and harass him? It was hard to say, but boy was he flustered.

I waited him out as he got his wits about him, and when he finally regained his composure he apologized and admitted that it had been a month since he reported his sighting, and he never really thought anyone from MUFON would call him back.

So I'm going to score big points on the MUFON customer service survey. I was the guy who called back! He was stunned.

Is this what a flash of nothingness looks like? Where does the nothingness come from? I there a nothing-verse existing alongside our something-verse?
It was obvious I wasn't going to get much out of him tonight, so we made an appointment to talk tomorrow night, when he had had a chance to get his thoughts together. But remember, this is the guy who, along with his wife, saw a black flash of nothingness in the sky after watching a horde of brightly-lit "satellites" shoot from one horizon to the other... so what does he have to get together, really?

Here's what I'm dying to find out: will the man's description of nothingness match in every detail his wife's description of nothingness? What if their descriptions don't jibe? If they only think they saw nothingness, does it count? If they're lying about seeing nothingness, is it really a lie? And, finally, do two nothings make a something?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mindbending UFO Cases

What have I gotten myself into? Four new cases to investigate, all at once...

I have to admit, those thoughts have crossed my mind today. It's all well and good to be an up-and-coming eager-beaver Certified UFO Field Investigator and State Section Director, but four cases is a lot for anyone.

But wait, what's this? Oh, three of the cases were reported by the same guy, Jxxx, all in the same week. My God, this man is under siege!

For three out out four nights one week last month, in what the witness describes as a "very boring town," he and three relatives watched as a frenzy of otherworldly orbs, lights and triangles zoomed and darted about the night sky over their yard... Every town should be this boring.

I don't know yet if this counts as a Close Encounter, but I think it's possible, because on the final night of the attack -- yes, I'm calling it an attack, because I've been wanting to call one of these sightings an attack for so, so long, and this is as close as I may ever get -- a "black, and very slick or aerodynamic-looking" triangular object flew over their garage and then flew away, seemingly taking all the other orbs and lights with it...

The fourth case is equally intriguing, and somewhat attack-y. I requested it because it sounded so damn weird: "Three flashes emanating from nothing..." But then as I read more about it the odder it became. The report was filed by a husband and wife who were out in their back yard one night a few week ago and started to see "satellites" zipping across the sky in pairs, going in all different directions. That's weird enough, but eventually they both started to see flashes of blackness in the night sky, which is a pretty cool image...

"The 'flash' was black like a hole being ripped in the sky with a dull black-red border extending outward from the origination point," he says in his report. Later he describes the flashes as "transparent shockwaves," but he is clearly at a loss to explain what he and his wife saw in the sky that night. 

What the hell did these people see? 

Rest easy, the State Section Director is on the case.

Suddenly the skies over southern Wisconsin are filled with orbs, lights, triangles and satellites like these. Looks like I'm taking over as State Section Director just in the nick of time.

UFO Weekend

Do UFOs take the weekend off? Doesn't seem like it, because here it is Sunday morning and I'm drowning in UFO news.

First came the notification yesterday morning that I had won the eBay auction for the December, 1967 issue of Playboy magazine with the article "The UFO Gap" by Dr. J. Allen Hynek. This was huge news because I was the only bidder, I got it for only $4.95 (with free shipping!) and it's the only time in my life that I've ever bought a copy of Playboy. And it's all so respectable... Not only have I been telling everybody -- my wife, my kids, my relatives, you -- that I bought an issue of Playboy, but I'm having it delivered directly and unashamedly to my home mailbox! Just like it was the new issue of Hemmings Motor News!

Speaking of family, yesterday was also the day of the annual O'Connell family reunion, and I had a chance to once again talk with my Uncle Bxx. I asked him if I could conduct a formal interview for my J. Allen Hynek book, since he had taken Astronomy classes with Dr. Hynek at Northwestern University. He agreed to the interview, but he cautioned me that "I might not be able to tell you too much. Dr. Hynek didn't always show up for class."

Kapow! I haven't even interviewed him yet and he's already giving me National Enquirer material on Dr. Hynek. He didn't always show up for class!

It turns out, my uncle wasn't saying that Dr. Hynek was lazy or anything like that. He explained that the astronomy classes were held at a variety of locales, such as the Adler Planetarium in Chicago and the Yerkes Observatory in Lake Geneva, WI, and the teaching duties often fell to the staff of those institutions. So, no scandal after all; I'll have to create some of my own, which I was already planning to do anyway.

Adler Planetarium (above) and Yerkes Observatory (below), two places where my Uncle Bxx suggests that Dr. J. Allen Hynek may have shirked his teaching responsibilities.

Still, now that I've primed the pump, so to speak, I'm pretty sure Uncle Bxx will start recalling all sorts of Hynek stories to tell me. This could be a long interview, which is cool because when my Aunt Cxxxxxxx got wind of the plan she insisted that my wife and I should come and visit her and Uncle Bxx in Dubuque, IA, and stay in their guest room. I didn't know that biography-writing would be so cozy!

As cool as all that is, the best was yet to come.

First, my son Nxxx told me that he had read my earlier post about buying the Playboy magazine and had liked it enough to post a comment on it. This was reassuring, because for a long time Nxxx worried that my writing this blog was an early symptom of dementia, and now he knows better. Of course, this morning I can't find his comment, so maybe he already changed his mind...

Later, Uncle Bxx's daughter, my cousin Pxxxx, thanked me for writing about her dad on my blog after the last family reunion. This really meant a lot to me. Pxxxx said that she and her siblings had heard their Dad's stories so often over the years that they didn't always fully appreciate his experiences, but that my post was a nice reminder of a part of his life that brought him great pride and satisfaction. That alone gives me reason to soldier on.

Finally, at the end of the day I was passing out my Alien Investigations business cards to some of my relatives, and when I gave one to my cousin Bxxxxxxxxx she gasped and said, "No way... I'm a ghost hunter!"

A partnership is already in the works. This could be big.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Natural-Born Leader

Sometimes the UFO investigation business is pretty quiet... and then in a flash it heats up hotter than the hottest part of a super-hot supernova. And today I'm breaking out the Coppertone.

First off, after requesting more UFO Field Investigation cases be sent my way, my State Director has just handed me four cases to look into. Four! It seems some rookie Investigator decided he couldn't take the heat and dropped all his cases, leaving yours truly to pick up the pieces, as usual.

Then, due in large part to my "enthusiasm (see above) and report writing skills," my MUFON State Director has asked me to take on the position of State Section Director for the south-central-eastish section of Wisconsin, and I have accepted. Naturally, once I accepted the position I thought it would be a good idea to read up on what I had just volunteered to do. That's the sign of a natural-born leader.

Here's how the MUFON Field Investigator's Manual describes the responsibilities of a State Section Director (SSD):

"Having assembled a cadre of trained investigators within a geographic area, the State Director should strongly consider recommending one of the individuals for appointment to the supervisory position of State Section Director. (On occasion, a person with leadership potential communicates his/her credentials directly to the International Director. In that circumstance, the State Director may be asked to concur in appointing the individual to a Section Director position.)

"As the first level of supervisory responsibility, Section Directors have specific duties and functions within their geographic areas (usually one or more counties dependent on population density and geographical location proximity.)

"After the state is substantially organized, and given the particular strengths of the State Director, it is advisable to recommend the appointment of one or more Assistant State Directors for geographical areas and a Chief Investigator."

Okay, so that doesn't actually tell me all that much about the position. To be more precise, it tells me nothing. Fortunately, State Director Vxxxx tells me that her State Director's Handbook has this to say:  

"A State Section Director is responsible for managing the field investigators and volunteers in the counties under their supervision....and reviewing investigation case reports from their area to ensure accuracy and completeness."

One word: Cakewalk.

Vxxxx was nice enough to offer me a choice of sections to be chief of: the the south-central section a little in the middle of the state, or the south-central section more to the east. I chose the latter section, which includes my home county of Jefferson, as well the UFO-happy counties of Walworth, Waukesha and Milwaukee (see map). It wasn't that hard to choose, actually, as Walworth County is the home of the Burlington Vortex, and the territory encompassing Walworth and Jefferson Counties is known Bigfoot country. UFOs, Vortexes, Bigfoots: the perfect trifecta!

This is my beat: Jefferson, Walworth, Waukesha and Milwaukee Counties. You can locate them on this map a mere inch or so above this very caption.
This promotion suits my ambitions to a T. You see all those pretty counties? Someday soon they will all be under my supervision. Then someday soon after that, the entire country will be under my supervision. That's right, I will be able to tell the entire country -- all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and all those other places we own -- what to do, and it will have no choice but to listen!

Don't laugh; this is how Blofeld got his start.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Two Peas in a UFO Pod

Just when I think I have a pretty good handle on the scope of the J. Allen Hynek book project, something comes along that changes everything. I discovered last night that I will have to add two chapters to the book to cover some previously unknown portions of his life -- er, well, that's not exactly true. This requires a rather lengthy explanation, so please bear with me...

Last week when I started researching the Hynek files at Northwestern University, I met Rxxx, a librarian at Northwestern who has been studying Dr. Hynek's papers for quite a while, and has given me some very helpful tips and direction. A few days after we met, Rxxx sent me a link to the website of Ann Eller, a woman who had been Dr. Hynek's secretary in the last year of his life, after he had moved to Scottsdale, AZ.

On the website there is a link to the "Project Camelot Interview," in which "Ann reveals a fresh approach to what it was like working for Hynek - as well as what Hynek really thought and may have known about UFOs." All very interesting, and very tantalizing; this could be a goldmine for my book research! But then Eller says this: "Starting out as a skeptic, Hynek came to understand that the UFOs and their occupants were very real indeed." 

I seriously question this. Hynek did come to understand that the UFO phenomenon was worthy of serious scientific study, and that it did potentially represent something very alien to our physical reality, but to say that he understood that "UFOs and their occupants were very real indeed" is a whopper... So, with a new sense of caution, I clicked on the interview links and found that... neither one works. I have emailed Ms. Eller and asked her for help, and we are still working that out... 

Meanwhile, I had a two-hour layover in Atlanta last night, flying home from an electric vehicle seminar in Charlotte, NC, so I decided to download Ms. Eller's book "Dragon in the Sky," on my kindle, to try to find out what this woman is all about. Naturally, I was most interested in reading about Ms. Eller's experiences as Dr. Hynek's secretary, but I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed on that score. Although Ms. Eller is fond of describing Hynek as "impish,' comparing him to an "elf," saying that he had "twinkling eyes," and calling him an "absent-minded professor," there are only a handful of direct quotes from the Doctor, none more than a few words, and so there's no sense that she ever really got to know him or understand him beyond a very superficial level. The rare "conversations" she recounts mostly amount to her sharing some observation about UFOs and Dr. Hynek walking away without any comment.

Here's a typical conversation between Eller and Hynek recounted in the book, describing how Eller would handle the UFO reports that she fielded over the phone:

"I alerted Allen to all these accounts, but did not receive much of a response. He would give me an absent-minded 'hmmm' as he went back to his computer."

Or this:

" I would egg him on and ask numerous questions. He'd answer with a snort, a smile, and look at me with a twinkle in his eyes."

Wow, stop the presses. Snort, smile, twinkle, hmmmmm...

Not that I didn't learn some important things from the book. As I said up at the top, after reading Eller's tome I now know that I have to add two new chapters to my Hynek book; one at the start and one at the end. 

The first new chapter will deal with Dr. Hynek's little known "pre-life" UFO research. You read that right: pre-life UFO research. While Ms. Eller attended a UFO Abductees convention in Wyoming in 1985, she had a session with noted UFO abductee researcher and psychologist Dr. R. Leo Sprinkle, and here's what she discovered:

"During the session, Dr. Leo Sprinkle zeroed in on a past life I had with Dr. J. Allen Hynek which directly affected my current life. Our past came together a long time ago -- late 1400s or early 1500s -- when Hynek was an astronomer and I was his assistant. (I immediately thought of how strange it is that life repeats itself!) In that life Allen saw extraterrestrial spacecraft through his telescope and let me see them, too. However, he would not tell anyone about them and swore me to secrecy. I recalled being terribly frustrated about having to keep quiet about this other-worldly discovery."

Did Dr. J. Allen Hynek live and practice astronomy at the same time as Nicolaus Copernicus? New evidence suggests that it may be true.
This is nothing short of amazing, and also a bit tragic. In his 1910-1986 lifetime, Dr. Hynek struggled to make sense of a phenomenon that he had pretty much figured out five centuries earlier! Why didn't Eller tell him this?? Or, maybe she did and he just gave her an absent-minded "hmmm" and went back to his computer.

As astounding as that passage is, it still doesn't compare to the material that will now make up the final chapter of my Hynek book, dealing with Dr. Hynek's post-life UFO research. You read that right: post-life UFO research. The material for this chapter comes about later in Eller's book, after Dr. Hynek's death. It's a very lengthy passage, so I'll just share a few notable highlights of Eller's account:

"Recently, I consulted with a well-known psychic medium, Marisa Ryan, to contact Dr. Hynek on the other side of the veil." (Blogger's note: she means he's dead, not that he was on the other side of a curtain) "His first message to me was 'be careful.' He thanked me for everything I did, saying we were like 'two peas in a pod'...

"He relayed through Marisa that his suspicions have all been corroborated by the Aliens he speaks to now.

"He made reference to a landing in Alaska currently and said there would be activity around the cathedral in Sedona.

"He gave me personal messages to a couple people in the UFO field. He said there are several interviews of him that haven't been published and these will reveal new information. (Blogger's note: I must have those interviews!)

"I asked Allen if he 'walked both sides of the street,' if he had been a double agent (meaning both for the government and for the common man) as I had suspected. He confessed through the medium that indeed he had, corroborating my suspicions (Blogger's note: Lots of suspicions being corroborated here). He had never left his position with the government and the military -- that side of him went underground with Project Blue Book. 

"He is well and enjoying the freedom on other side (Blogger' reminder: dead, not curtain) but does wish he was still with us for there was more he wanted to expose. He said he would be a louder voice.

"There was more to the connection but the rest will remain untold."

That's what she thinks. I have a book to write! 

Okay, that's a lot to unload in one blog post, and I apologize. Surely I've broken some Blogspot guideline on lengthy posts, but I want to make one more point, and it may be the most important point in this whole post, so if you read this far you're lucky because I'm about to blow your mind:

If Ann Eller spent a year working intimately with Dr. Hynek, why did she have her deepest and most meaningful conversations with him before he was born and after he died?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Beatings and Death Threats

I think I've figured out what MUFON's two big announcements are, and boy are they big.


The first big announcement seems to be that MUFON now has two "young people" among its members. I'm not sure who the other one is, but we're sure to cross paths at some point or another. The second announcement is that 60 volumes of files from some old-timey UFO researcher named Leonard Stringfield have been donated to MUFON, and will someday be made available to MUFON members like me.

All I know about this Stringfield fellow is that he wrote a UFO book that I happened upon at a garage sale shortly after I started High Strangeness (and still haven't read), but I was curious to know more and found an article about his papers. It turns out there's some pretty hot stuff in The Stringfield Files, according to  Pennsylvania State MUFON Director John Ventre, who is quoted extensively in the article.

“In those 60 volumes we have government interference, the FBI and CIA stopping the ufologists at any cost,” Ventre is quoted as saying. "He talks about UFO investigators being beaten or receiving death threats."

Holy shit. Beatings? Death threats? Did I just hear a knocking at my front door?

Let me make this clear: Nobody ever told me that I'd be subject to beatings and death threats from the CIA and FBI when I became a Certified UFO Field Investigator, and I'm kind of pissed that I'm only now finding out about this. Then again, I haven't really noticed anyone trying to stop me at all costs, and I think I would notice that, so maybe this guy Stringfield was just paranoid.

Ventre goes on to describe more of the red hot bombshells revealed in The Stringfield Files: “He names Donald Rumbsfeld (sic) and President Ford as being briefed on UFOs by J. Allen Hynek. He names heads of state that knew."

Okay, that's kind of cool, because I can use that in the Hynek book. But I will spell 'Rumsfeld' correctly in my version of the story.

But is that the best this Ventre guy can come up with? Where's the good stuff?

"(Stringfield) even has actor Jackie Gleason’s contact information in there," Ventre says. "There is a lot of explosive information in there.”

Yes, sir, contact information for a comedian who's been dead for 25 years, that's pretty hot stuff.

Jackie Gleason: he's been dead for 25 years, but I will soon know how to contact him.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Insufficient Data

I have officially filed my latest UFO field investigation as "Complete: Insufficient Data." I figure if a guy never answers my calls, never returns my messages, and lets his voicemail inbox get full, he's not interested in talking to me. Either that or he's had a medical emergency, like the guy in my first case. Whatever. Either way, I have to cut them off sometime. I'm not made of time, you know? If I waited around for every reluctant witness to decide to talk to me, I'd never solve the UFO mystery.

So it looks as though the world may never know what the witness' daughter took pictures of in the skies above Milwaukee at 9:45 pm on August 19th. Is that a bad thing? Don't ask me; I'm already looking forward to my next case!

To fill the time while I'm waiting, I decided to see if the September issue of the MUFON Journal is available online. You may recall that there were two bombshell announcements to be made at last month's MUFON UFO Symposium 2012 in Cincinnati, but that MUFON's International Director would not tell me what they were when I asked him, even though the Symposium was already over. Remember, this is the same guy who wouldn't send me an alien detector last summer because they're "dangerous and expensive." He is just programmed to say no to anything I ask him for, and to be honest I am having a hard time considering him my "leader." Anyway, after refusing to share the announcements with me after they had already been made, he told me I would have to wait to read about them in the September issue.

Okay, fine, be that way. They're probably stupid announcements anyway. But I checked tonight, and instead of getting the September issue of the Journal, I got this:


You don't have permission to access /install.php on this server.

Apache/2.2.3 (CentOS) Server at ejournal.mufon.com Port 80

Don't have permission? Jesus, what am I, trying to break into Area 51? I'm just trying to read the damn Journal. That I paid for. With my annual dues. In other words, Herr Direktor, I am entitled to view the Journal anytime and anywhere I flipping want to, and you can look it up in your damned Director's manual if you don't believe me.

So, not a happy posting tonight. Not happy at all. And I feel I owe you better than this. So here's what I'm going to do. The other day my State MUFON Director sent out this UFO cartoon that I will share with you now, in the hope that it will wash the bitterness of this post away...

Here it is:

Haha... er... Oh, wait, that's kind of laced with bitterness too, isn't it? Damn. Some days you just can't win.

The UFO Gap (with partial nudity)

What is "The UFO Gap?" I have no flipping idea, but I hope to find out soon. I have just placed a bid on eBay for the December, 1967 issue of Playboy magazine, which features an article of that same name written by Dr. J. Allen Hynek.

In six days, and for as little as $4.95, my current bid, I may become the proud owner of this rare example of late 1960's American maleness, which is described as being:

Good or close to very good condition, excellent for its age. Centerfold attached.
It shows some use, but no abuse. 

"No abuse." That's what you want in an old copy of Playboy magazine. "Centerfold attached" also seems to be somewhat of a bonus. Or so I've heard.

It's the Gala Christmas Issue!
The beautiful thing is that even after I've read "The UFO Gap," I will still have many long evenings of reading pleasure ahead of me, for the December 1967 issue of Playboy magazine features such gems as:
  • An interview with Johnny Carson (Jay Leno's warm-up act)
  • An article about the Vietnam War written by John Kenneth Galbraith
  • Humor by Jean Shepherd (one of my idols, and probably one of yours, too, if you've ever seen the movie "A Christmas Story.")
  • Fiction by Irwin Shaw
  • An article about privacy written by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas (so odd for Playboy to address privacy issues...)
  • More fiction, this time by Isaac Bashevis Singer
  • Elke Sommer's Wicked Dreams -- a pictorial (I did not know that '60s screen vixen Elke Sommer was an expert on dream research -- that's crazy!)
Elke Sommer doing some dream research.
Of course, I may never get to those other articles, because Dr. Hynek's UFO article may blow my mind and ignite my UFO fever to such a degree that I no longer have need of the rest of the magazine.

Yes, I am that dedicated.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Alien Invasion! -- Part 3

It's time to continue my series on the National Security Agency's supposed official 1968 survival plan in case the human race is ever subjugated by an invading alien species...Steps 1 and 2 were somewhat unhelpful, based as they were on what I consider to be questionable assumptions about how much of the human race would actually be left alive and what resources they might have. Step 1 amounted to: "Give Up." And Step 2 amounted to: "Try to maintain some order." And as I pointed out in my last post on the subject, there has so far been no mention at all of food, water or guns, which seems to me to be a pretty serious flaw in any survival plan.

Will Step #3 correct this flaw?

In a word: no. Read on...

Step #3: Highly controlled and limited intercourse with the other side -- doing only those actions advantageous to the foreigner which you are absolutely forced to do by circumstances.

Uh... I think they are making a case for resisting the enemy, but if this is resistance who needs surrender?  It seems to me that if the human survivors are having any "intercourse" at all with the "other side," the other siders are probably the ones who are highly controlling and limiting that intercourse. And, yes, the survivors may indeed be forced by circumstance to do some actions that are advantageous to "the foreigner," but does it need to be said that the surviving humans should never go over and above that?

Do the planners at NSA really think that the human survivors might be tempted to take actions that are advantageous to the invaders just to be nice? Because that seems to be what they're saying.

Do not be nice to these guys, no matter what the National Security Agency tells you! You will regret it.
Don't get me wrong. I am not at all anti-nice. Indeed, in a post invasion world it will become vital that we cling to the qualities that make us human, qualities such as our niceness. But only towards our fellow human survivors. We start being nice to the aliens, and they'll cut us to shreds. 

So I think we can translate Step #3 to mean: "Try not to be nice to the invaders, unless you really have to."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Artist's Rendering

Yesterday was a big day. I spent the afternoon in the basement of the Deering Library on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, and I never knew being in the basement of a library could be such a blast.

I was there to start my work researching the life and times of famed UFO researcher Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who was the chairman of Northwestern's astronomy department from 1959 to 1978. Because he happened to reach the height of his fame as a UFO expert in roughly that same time period, his collected papers in the University archive are a fascinating contrast of serious scientific and academic matters and equally serious but somewhat more unusual UFO matters.

I was pretty much in heaven.

The archive staff were uniformly gracious, attentive and helpful, even though I had requested access to five boxes of papers and in three and a half hours' time I only made it though a half a box... Oops. Sorry, guys!  I'll know better next time.

So, yea, I'm an archive noob, but I am already hooked. You just have no idea when you flip open a file what kind of treasures you'll find.

Like this: In folder 1, I came across a list of popular magazine articles Dr. Hynek had written in the late 1960s, and was amused and delighted to see that he had written an article entitled "How to Photograph a UFO" for a 1968 issue of Popular Photography magazine, and another entitled "The UFO Gap," for the December, 1967 issue of Playboy. You don't think there's glamour and sex in the UFO biz? Think again. This guy got around. And, yeah, Hynek may never have proved that UFOs are spaceships from another world, but he proved that there are some people who do read Playboy for the articles, and that may be an even more outstanding achievement in the end.

My favorite find from Day 1 in the trenches? That's easy. Folder 5 was filled with correspondence from 1948 to 1974, and in amongst all the letters and telegrams I came across a typed letter dated March 30, 1966, on the very attractive letterhead of the S.C. Kingsley Advertising agency in New York City... The letter was from the eponymous owner of the agency, describing a UFO sighting he had experienced with a group of friends on Long Island in 1958...

"I am an artist and trained to observe so my description is accurate in every detail," says Mr. Mad Men. "I cannot estimate in feet at which it was flying but it was well below that at which our commercial airplanes fly. The only light visible was all around the perimeter. This was an electric blue in color and looked as a pinwheel would in motion. From this I am sure the outer body of the craft was spinning. This gyroscopic motion might well account for some of the fantastic right angle turns which have been reported."

The sighting only lasted 30 to 40 seconds, but made enough of an impression for the witness to make a "sketch," which he sent to Dr. Hynek along with the letter. And when I say sketch, I mean a watercolor. UFO skeptics love to ask, "Why doesn't anyone have a camera handy when they see these things?" Well, how about someone having a canvas, an easel, a paint brush and some watercolors? Would that count?

Who needs a camera? Really.
I mean, look at that picture. Look at the shape of the tree. Look at the detail of the windows and chimney on the house. Look at the tilt of the flying saucer, look at its electric blue perimeter, look at the way it seems to be subtly disturbing the air surrounding it. Does it not make you weep?

Now, I have to point out that the actual painting is far more vivid than you see here. The basement library did not afford the best light, and the flash on my camera phone clearly was not up to the task. I can assure you, the painting is beautiful, and I will try to get a more faithful image on my next visit to the archives.

I can hardly wait!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

When It Rains UFOs, It Pours UFOs

Geez, the UFO biz quiets down for a couple weeks, and just when you think you might be able to get your lawn mowed or raise your kids or something, all hell breaks loose and suddenly you're drowning in an embarrassment of riches!

Suddenly I have some new UFO sightings to investigate, some new UFO books to read, and in the coming week I'll be visiting the two J. Allen Hynek UFO archives in the Chicago area, one at Northwestern University and the other at the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). And I still have to finish my analysis of the National Security Agency's program for how the human race can survive an alien attack in six easy steps. I know what you're thinking: nice cake; where's the icing? Right here, bub: thanks to my wife's literary connections, I now have a publishing company interested in my Hynek book. Which means I have to write the damn thing now. So, yeah, I'll be busy busy for a while...

Here's a little sample of what's on my plate today: I was just assigned a UFO case in which a daughter took some pictures of a strange thing in the sky, then shouted to her dad to look up in the sky, but when he did the thing had disappeared, but it showed up in the photos as a "CIRCULAR OBJECT... THEN THE LIGHT FORMED A BRIGHT CHECK MARK--THEN SORT OF A CROOKED BACKWARD QUESTION MARK."

Well, it doesn't take a genius to see that whatever that object was, it was trying to communicate with this dad & daughter by changing the shape and layout of its light to form characters in our language, not unlike the message board on the belly of the Goodyear Blimp... Unfortunately, the object seems to have mistakenly chosen the Dingbat font, as I often do, and its words and messages -- which could have revealed the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything -- were changed into check marks and backwards question marks and were completely unintelligible to the witnesses.

Now we may never know what they were trying to say...

Damn, you Dingbats. You have cost the human race dearly.

If the Goodyear blimp was an alien spacecraft, what message would the aliens flash on its message board? And, more importantly, which font would they choose?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Alien Invasion! -- Part 2

In my last post I wrote about an alleged document from the National Security Agency, written in 1968, that described a six-step strategy by which the human race could survive an alien invasion. I make no claims as to the authenticity of this document -- I found it written up in a "bonus chapter" of a UFO book I got on my kindle, and I present it here exactly as I found it, completely devoid of detail, explanation or context. Do with it what you will.

Step #2: Complete national solidarity in all positions taken in dealing with the other culture.

I have read this and re-read it, and I really have no idea what it means. The "other culture" referred to here is obviously the aliens, but this doesn't make them sound very scary at all. It sounds as though we've been invaded by Canadians.

But let's start at the beginning of Step #2. I'm all for complete national solidarity, but I wouldn't have thought that there would be much of a nation left after the aliens took over. What I imagine is a rag-tag team of ordinary folks from all walks of life and most ethnic backgrounds forced to set aside their differences to do battle with the enemy... er, the other culture. There would be lots of petty squabbling amongst the survivors to determine who gives the orders around here, and somebody might have to get killed along the way, but sometimes humans have to die so that the human race can survive, and eventually, there would be solidarity. Uneasy solidarity, no doubt, but it would be enough.

These guys are as rag-tag as you can get. Who do you suppose gives the orders around here?
And from that solidarity would come positions. Positions taken in dealing with the others. This is the easy part, I think. "We hate those aliens" would be a pretty basic position towards the invaders that I think the entire "nation" could get behind. "We will deal with those aliens in a very negative way" would also, I think, get pretty unanimous support.

So, all in all, Step 2, although strangely worded, seems to have some value for the human survivors. But it concerns me that I'm two steps into a six-step survival guide and I still haven't seen anything about food, or water, or weapons. How worried should I be...?

Alien Invasion!

So I've been reading this old book, "The Uncensored Truth About UFOs," written by Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, the former director of the Air Force's Project Blue Book. The book recounts Ruppelt's adventures as the Air Force's key man in the the UFO investigation game in the early 1950's, and it's been a pretty good read. But at the end of the kindle version of the book there are some "bonus chapters" written by some guy named Chet Dembeck... Okay, fine, I don't mind getting a free bonus.

Except I start to read the bonus chapters, and they really don't follow in any way from Ruppelt's book. The new material by this Dembeck fellow is random, disorganized, sloppily researched, and has no business being tacked onto Ruppelt's book, or anyone else's for that matter. Coming from a guy who also wrote a book called "The Palin Juggernaut: Why Sarah Palin should be taken seriously," I guess this should not be a surprise...

But then, buried in the bonus chapters, I come across this amazing passage entitled: "Declassified document outlines U.S. survival plan in event of ET invasion."

Huh? If the government has drafted a survival plan for an alien invasion, then the government must know that UFOs are really spaceships from another world... Why that would mean... Holy shit, it's all true. Mr. Dembeck, I owe you an apology!

Dembeck explains that in 1968 the National Security Agency outlined a six-step strategy for mankind's survival "...if it turns out to that (sic) UFOs and extraterrestrials are real -- and decide to make their move."

When the alien invasion comes, will you have what it takes to survive? You'd better, because I'm not so sure about me.
And when they do make their move, it's all over. According to Dembeck, the declassified NSA document concedes that "if extraterrestrials invade, we are at their mercy." Thanks for that little ray of sunshine, NSA. Glad you weren't in charge of WWII.

At that point is it even worth it to try to survive? We won't really know until we're crushed under ET's thumb, of course, but if we do try to survive, the NSA has provided six helpful tips to get us started, which I will now milk for six successive blog posts. Here's number one:

Step 1: Full and honest acceptance of the nature of the inferiorities separating you from the advantages of the other people.

Uh, NSA? You're not really helping. Did ET hire you to write this? Why else would your #1 survival tip be to accept that you're vastly outclassed and outgunned? And even if we were to attempt to follow this step, how many humans do you know who are been capable of a full and honest acceptance of their inferiorities? Besides me, I mean.

Next up: Step 2

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I Am Disappointed In You

Remember the scene in that one movie where Jack Nicholson yells, "You can't handle the truth!" and he yells it with such spirited enthusiasm that you can practically feel the spittle hit your face? Well, I have come to the uncomfortable but unavoidable conclusion that that sentiment is true of all of you...

You can't handle the truth! (spittle, spittle...)

How else to explain why so few of you have committed to join me in two weeks on "The Million Intruder March"? This is our big chance -- perhaps our only big chance -- to storm the gates of Area 51 and find out once and for all what the government is hiding there. Think of it: one million of us, bravely facing down the guards and demanding access to all the UFOs and aliens and ray guns hidden away inside those hangars... Our sheer numbers would be impossible for the guards to resist; some of them may even join us when they realize they're on the wrong side of history.

We can find out The Truth, folks, once and for all! That is, we coulda found out the truth, but we won't now, because I guess you can't handle the truth, so you've all decided to stay home on September 12th.

Buy why? Why can't you handle the truth? I'd really like to know. Do you want to keep on telling yourself, "Hey, UFOs are cool and all, but maybe they're actually not real"? Is that what it is? You need to keep clinging to that flimsy hope that maybe the government and my Uncle Bxx are telling the truth and there's nothing extraterrestrial at all at Area 51, so you can keep sleeping at night? Well, I've got news for you: by not joining me on this great adventure, you're going to sleep even worse. And you will never be able to prove that that car alarm going off continuously outside your bedroom window had anything to do with me.

You know what I'll have to do now, thanks to you? Now I'll have to get all those t-shirts changed from saying "2012" to "2013."

Because I'm not giving up. I'll find another million people who will join me, and we'll gather in Nevada a year and two weeks from now, on September 19th, 2013, and we will do this!
Mark your calendar: this is when the UFO mystery will finally be solved.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Wormhole Express

So I haven't blogged for a few days because there's been so much going on life -- I'm allowed, right? -- but today, when I felt like blogging, I couldn't think of anything compelling to blog about. How sad.

Instead, my wife and I went out shopping to check out a vintage toy & collectibles store, and ended up checking out several other cool shops we discovered on the same block. One of the shops was a very strange but amazing used book store with just about the narrowest aisles and tightest spaces I have ever wiggled through... There were at least a square mile of old books jammed into about 100 square feet of floor space, loosely organized by subject, stacked on shelves that rose up at least 50 feet and wound around in the oddest, tightest, most disorienting configurations imaginable... There was not a single right angle in the entire store, and every time I thought I was moving away from where my wife was browsing I ended up right back where I started.

Which means that it's enchanted. And/or full of wormholes. Which is what you want in a book store. Which is how I emerged from a wormhole and found myself looking straight at the words UFO's In Space in huge black block letters on the cover of an old paperback.

I blinked and looked closer. Not only was it a UFO book, it was written by famous UFO guy, inspiration for the French UFO researcher character in the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and ertswhile cohort of J. Allen Hynek, Dr. Jacques Vallee himself!

Hynek and Vallee, together again!
The full title of the book is "Anatomy of a Phenomenon: UFO's In Space," and despite the misplaced apostrophe, I consider it quite a find, especially for only $3.50 cash. What's it about? I don't know yet, but the cover says "A Compelling Document for the Believer... A Scientific Scrutiny for the Skeptic... A Compendium of Data No One Can Afford to Ignore!!!" And it's got pictures!

Of course, the big thing for me is that Dr. Hynek, the subject of my book, makes guest appearances on pages vii, viii, 77-78 and 99. That may not sound like much in a 200-page book, but when you're a crack researcher like me it's all part of the game. Sometimes you have a read a whole book full of words to get to the handful you want to quote, and there's no sense crying about it. Besides, if I want to score an interview with Dr. Vallee, which I do, I'd better be able to quote him chapter and verse, and possibly even convince him that the book is about him.

In any case, I have high hopes for Dr. Vallee's book, and for a return to that bookstore... Who knows where I might emerge from the next wormhole?