High Strangeness: UFO MP3

Friday, November 15, 2013


Sometimes I hate technology.

Last weekend when I was in Kalamazoo, the inestimable Michael Swords lent me a clutch of old cassette tapes of interviews with the late, great Dr. J. Allen Hynek. This is a veritable treasure trove of research materials, in addition to the 650 scanned documents I came away with. It's almost too much to handle, but handle it I must. As always, readers, I do it for you...

What's that, you ask? What's a cassette tape? Um, well, back in the day cassette tapes were what we used to record and preserve audio. Unlike an MP3, you could hold a cassette in your hand, drop it, break it, unspool it, anything you can imagine! So what was the cassette itself exactly? To the best of my understanding, they were little plastic rectangles with MP3s stuffed inside somehow, don't ask me how. Anyway, you could pop one in a cassette deck -- or, better yet, a "boom box" -- and sound would come out! Music, talking, whatever.
Boom box tip: always point the speakers away from your head.

And now I have a bunch of them with Dr. Hynek on them, and I have to figure out some way to extract the MP3s inside the cases without smashing them, then copy the MP3s to my computer and burn them on something called a "CD." What's a CD, you ask? Not now, please, I'm still exhausted from explaining cassettes.

What I can tell you is that my fancy little MP3 cassette deck arrived in the mail today, and I am trying to figure out how it works. But it is small. The gizmo itself is scarcely bigger than the cassette. The CD with the driver is microscopic. The User's Manual is subatomic. How do they print things that small??

I am now trying to figure out how the accursed thing works without going blind or crazy, and it's not a pleasant affair. I have succeeded in making a trial conversion of what we used to call a "music tape" and, well, so far so good: I have converted it to a file that I can listen to on iTunes and am listening to it now. So that's good, I think. Trouble is, I have already forgotten what I did to get to this point...

If I ever do get this figured out, here's what I have in store from the cassettes Michael gave me:

Cassette #1: Coyne Crew interviews; Hynek recollecting the Robertson Panel; Final part of Gill; Hendry private interview.

Cassette #2: J. Allen Hynek's Swamp Gas talk for Voice of America Radio.

Cassette #3: J. Allen Hynek's Latest UFO encounters.

Cassette #4: Hynek 1980.

Cassette #5: Al Chop, Donald Keyhoe, J. A. Hynek, and More...

Cassette #6: Hynek Address to 1977 International UFO Congress.

Cassette #7: J. Allen Hynek lecturing on astronomy to the public in Lima, OH, just weeks after the Robertson Panel.

Cassette #8: J. Allen Hynek, 1980 radio show.

Cool, huh? Should I be lucky enough to get my gadget figured out and get these buggers downloaded or uploaded, I'll let you know what dark truths I discover....

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