High Strangeness: August 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015

The X-Factor

As I've mentioned here before, my wife and I have been watching "The X-Files" for the first time and really enjoying it. I didn't much get into the show during its initial run starting in the early '90s, for reasons that now escape me... I think at the time I just didn't buy the "Mulder: Believer/Scully: Skeptic" dynamic. It seemed too pat, too easy, too devoid of subtlety.

Now, however, I can appreciate it on a new and unexpected level. It still defies belief that in so many of the episodes Scully refuses to acknowledge the weirdness that is staring her in the face while Mulder insists on finding a paranormal explanation for everything... But now, some 20 years later, I can recognize and appreciate where the writers and actors were having fun with the dynamic, bending it this way and that, exploring its limits, letting the characters make self-referential jokes about it... It mostly works, and--surprise--it's mostly fun!

And, besides... Flukeman! How can you not love the TV show that unleashed Flukeman on the world?

Why did Flukeman never get his own spin-off series?
The real revelation, however, has been to see what an interesting role The X-Files has played in both and validating so many pernicious UFO myths about government cover-ups, the Roswell saucer crash, alien abductions, Disclosure, etc... If there's an intriguing UFO myth out there, no matter how questionable the origins, chances are an X-Files writer has used it as the basis for a script. And why not? They're all fun stories, even if they can be picked apart by a 5 year-old.

But by exploiting these stories to build up the show's internal mythology, the writers and producers of the show unintentionally strengthened the hold these stories have on the racial subconscious. I mean, during its initial run this show was bringing in 20 or 30 million viewers each week; if even one percent of those viewers were convinced by Special Agent Mulder that a spaceship really did crash in Roswell, that's a hell of a lot of new believers... Never mind that their belief is based on a fictional TV show, if Mulder is able to get Scully to admit that even one tiny, tiny, miniscule part of the story could be true, well then there must be something to it.

Or maybe it was intentional, who knows? All I know for sure is that it is fascinating to explore the pretty damn amazing role this show has played in simultaneously exploiting and constructing so much of our UFO and alien mythology....

And, besides... Flukeman!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

UFO Dress Code

So, yesterday I posted about my upcoming appearance on Podcast UFO on the 9th, and how I was preparing some questions for the host to ask me. Turns out there's something else almost as important that I need to be thinking about: what to wear for a podcast!

Sure, I've got my MUFON shirts and cap, and a few items of Star Trek apparel -- any or all of that would set the right tone -- but until last night something really important seemed to be missing... Then my wife came home with a little shopping bag and I saw the light.

She had been at a seminar for the day, but had found time to explore a few shops between sessions, and in one shop she found the ultimate UFO fashion accessory...


UFO socks!!

Close Encounter of the Third Kind socks!!!

I love these socks so much I can hardly contain myself! As you can see, they portray a classic sombrero-style flying saucer with a row of portholes or lights around the main dome, and a beam of light shooting to the ground, which has apparently deposited one of its occupants on the earth. The EBE seems friendly; his four-fingered hand is raised in a welcoming wave, and he almost seems to be smiling (although that could be a trick of the weave) A backup saucer, meanwhile, hovers somewhat ominously in the sky...

I loved the socks even more when I looked at the tag:

My socks believe!!!!

But what do they believe?

I think my UFO socks are trying to tell me something, to tell you the truth. Because, when I flip them over, I see this:

What do you see?

Do you see two more saucers lurking in the distance?

Does it make you question the intentions of the EBE? Because it sure makes me wonder...

So, not only are they ridiculously cool-looking, my new UFO socks tell an intriguing story of a possible alien betrayal and invasion... A new standard of UFO fashion has been set.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Twenty UFO Questions

I'm really getting the hang of this UFO podcast thing! I've done a few already this year and enjoyed them all, and now I'm getting ready to do another.

On Wednesday, September 9, from 8 to 10 p.m. Eastern time, I'll be yakking away on the aptly titled "Podcast UFO" show with Martin Willis, and I'm really looking forward to it. I've listened to a few of Martin's shows and I think he puts on a pretty entertaining couple of hours each week.

What I really like is that Martin has invited me to submit a list of 10 or 20 questions for him to ask during our talk. How cool is that? I get to talk about what I want to talk about, and only what I want to talk about! And if he tries to pull a fast one and ask me some "gotcha" question that's not on my list, I'll just pretend the Skype connection has gone dead.

Needless to say, I've been having fun thinking up questions for Martin to ask me... Here are 10 or 20 samples I've been kicking around:
What do YOU want to learn about UFOs?
  1. Triangles or circles?
  2. If an alien said "Take me to your leader" to you, who would you take it to?
  3. Would you rather be abducted on a lonely road or in your bedroom?
  4. What is there to say about Rendlesham Woods, really?
  5. Can the Drake Equation beat the Fermi Paradox in a fair fight?
  6. Which cable TV UFO show does the best -- or the least worst -- reenactments of UFO cases?
  7. Who would you least want to meet up with in a dark alley in Roswell: a grey, a Reptoid, a mantis or a 'Majic Man'?
  8. Why hasn't 'Disclosure' happened yet?
  9. When will 'Disclosure' happen?
  10. What will happen the day after 'Disclosure'?
  11. What will happen the next day?
  12. When will you be taking over MUFON?
  13. What happened to the rest of Joe Simonton's pancakes?
  14. Should the 'Three strikes, you're out' rule apply to Roswell 'smoking guns'?
  15. Interplanetary or Interdimensional?
  16. Who's been exploited to the most egregious degree: the Atacama Humanoid or the mummified child in the Roswell Slides?
  17. Why are UFOlogists so grumpy and irritable?
  18. What's the worst UFO/alien movie ever made?
  19. Which is your favorite level in Dulce Base?
  20. Should Kenneth Arnold have just kept his lip zipped?
That's just the first 20! I bet I can up with at least 20 more before the 9th. 

How about you? What would YOU want to be asked? What do you want Martin to ask me??

Friday, August 21, 2015

U-Boats and UFOs

I've been fascinated with the Antarctic ever since I read the real life adventure book "South!" by Sir Ernest Shackleton. It tells the story of Shackleton's ill-begotten expedition to the South Pole in 1914, and if you have never read it you should, because it will fill you with awe at what we humans are capable of... After the expedition's ship, the Endurance, got caught in the icepack and was slowly ground to toothpicks, Shackleton and his men somehow found a way to survive on the ice for two years with virtually no hope of rescue. In the end, all the dogs died, and more than a few penguins ended up being served for dinner, but not a single man was lost.

Of course, the book would have been much shorter if Shackleton and his men had come across the secret Antarctic UFO base. Then again, they might not have survived the encounter, in which case there wouldn't have been a book at all. It would have to wait until WWII, when Admiral Byrd of the U.S. Navy led 4,000 Allied troops to Antarctica in what was known as "Operation Highjump" that the UFOs at the South Pole became a thing. Byrd, who was sent to "invade" Antarctica, allegedly encountered mysterious flying craft that are surrounded by mystery even today.

What a story! It's got everything: War! Nazis! Aliens! U-boats! Secret bases! UFOs! And. at the heart of the legend, the central mystery: were the flying ships piloted by Nazis, or aliens? No one knows for sure, but I can tell you one thing: in 4 months' time, we may all know.

Why do I say this? Well, my Dad, who turns 90 this November 15th and who has in his lifetime visited 6 of the 7 continents, decided last week to go visit Antarctica this December, and to take me and four of my siblings along for the ride.

My sister and brothers and I are still in disbelief. It had been a long-running conversation in the family that someday we would take Dad to Antarctica so that he could fulfill his dream of reaching every continent, but it always seemed pretty unattainable, for all the usual reasons: money; time; etc. Then out of the blue Dad decided to take us instead! Pretty cool guy, that Dad of mine.

I have about 4 months to prepare, and I plan to study up on "Operation Highjump" and try to figure out where Byrd and his men supposedly saw the flying saucers. Now, the secret Nazi U-Boat base that some say was connected to the UFOs is in what the Germans called Neuschwabenland, or New Swabia, and that is about a quarter of the way around the continent from where we will be making landfall at the Antarctic Peninsula. Still, I can hope... We'll be there 4 or 5 days, and, weather permitting, will make landfall several times. While my family and the other tourists are petting penguins, I'll be looking for odd, unearthly bits of metal protruding from the ice, or telltale landing pad impressions on the beach, or desiccated, shrivelled-up little corpses, or, better yet, the actual hole in the ice that leads to the secret U-Boat/UFO base...

Wait: the Nazis were working with the aliens and they still lost the war?
The point is, who has ever had the sheer, unmitigated audacity to head to the South Pole to investigate this story in the field? Has anyone ever before in the history of UFOlogy been bold enough to have their Dad take them to Antarctica so they could boldly investigate Byrd's story? I think not. Not Vallee. Not Hynek. Not Redfern. Not Dolan. Not Carey. Not Greer. Not even Adam Dew. Once again, I'm scooping them all.

Who knows? Maybe a year from now I'll be renting out the national auditorium in Mexico City to unveil a smoking gun of my own. Maybe I won't even charge you anything.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Curse of "Ancient Aliens"

Now that I've signed with a literary agent to get my Hynek book placed with a publisher, I've been having great fun learning about how all this stuff happens.

Last week, for instance, my new agent asked for some edits and revisions in the 60+ page book proposal, so I spent several days making the changes. Along the way, her notes gave me an interesting insight into how a person with little to no involvement in the UFO industry sees it. For one thing, she kept wanting me to mention the cable TV show "Ancient Aliens." At one point she even wrote "I hope you mention 'Ancient Aliens' in this part!"

I laughed about that and thought how riled my readers would be if I mentioned that in my blog. Because, of course, "AA" is anathema to anyone who is serious about the UFO phenomenon, so there must be a problem with my agent, right? And obviously I should dump her immediately!

Well, here's the thing. My new agent also happens to be my old agent, the one who got me in the door at "Star Trek" back in the day, and I am ridiculously happy to be working with her again. She is an incredible businessperson, and is one of the smartest and most successful people I know. Strangely enough, she has never worked in the UFO realm before, and from her standpoint "Ancient Aliens" is a perfectly natural entry point for a consumer into the UFO market. And she's not wrong. Laugh all you want, but "AA" is on its eighth season, it rakes in between 1.2 and 1.5 million viewers on any given week, and celebrities Megan Fox and Katy Perry are huge fans, which carries considerable weight in some circles. So, since the sole purpose of the book proposal is to sell the property to a publisher, and therefore I devote many, many pages to establishing how big the UFO market is, of course I've mentioned "Ancient Aliens."

I've also mentioned dozens of other UFO-related shows, movies, books, periodicals, websites, conferences, podcasts and assorted ephemera in the proposal. Why not? If there's even the slightest chance I could place this book with a big publisher and then someday sell autographed and phone numbered copies to Katy Perry or Megan Fox, I'm going to do whatever I have to to make it happen.

Katy Perry and Megan Fox: innocent Ancient Aliens fans, or human-alien hybrids bent on our destruction?
Here's another weird thing that's come up in relation to selling my book. Earlier today my agent messaged me that a small publisher had just contacted her out of the blue to ask if she had any UFO books available. It turned out to be a small press that I had, not surprisingly, never heard of. But it actually publishes several UFO titles, so it was kind of interesting that they would contact her just after she signed me... The deal was that they would offer a tiny advance but as a trade-off they could conceivably get the book to print fairly quickly. I told her that I wanted to aim higher, and she didn't argue.

But as we continued our email conversation about other UFO books and authors, I mentioned that there was one author in particular who had become my archenemy. Then came one of the most sublime exchanges I have ever experienced. It went as follows:

Me: "I never mentioned that I had an archenemy, did I?"

Agent: "I LOVE that you have an archenemy!"

This is so much fun!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

UFOs vs The Flying Saucers

I haven't been blogging much lately for a very good reason. Over the past few weeks I've had some fantastic opportunities arise, and they have necessitated a great deal of writing work, leaving me, temporarily, with little time or energy for blogging.

One of these opportunities in particular directly affects this piece of UFO real estate. I've just signed with a literary agent, and I'm working with her now to polish the 60+ page book proposal for my J. Allen Hynek book to make it more marketable to publishers. That could take a few days or a few weeks, and it will keep me from blogging as regularly as I'd like, but in the meantime I will do my best to look on here from time to time to collect the mail and keep the lawn mowed.

In the middle of all this, both my wife and my dad forwarded me a link to a web page that I found pretty entertaining. It's also very convenient, in that it allows me to write an extremely lazy post today! Perfect!

Roswell, NM, back when it was easier to believe...
The page is a feature from The New York Times that gives a brief overview of how some "famous names or terms" first appeared in its pages. Well, this week the term was "flying saucers," and its history in The Times is noteworthy, coinciding as it does with the Roswell saucer crash to-do.

You can find the article here.

What's most curious about this sequence of flying saucer articles is that they remind one that there may well have been a pretty banal reason for the actions of those two troublemakers Jesse Marcel, Jr. and Warren Haught. Considering all the UFOs popping up all over the country and then being reported in The Times in the days leading up to Mac Brazel's discovery, it's not hard to see where Marcel and Haught got the idea that the Reynolds Wrap and balsa wood recovered from the ranch were the wreckage of a flying saucer crash.

Poor sods.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Welcome to Restaurant X -- Part II

The story of the disappearing restaurant that I recently recounted here has continued to develop, as the witness has been very agreeable to providing more information in response to questions that have been posed by my readers...

As you may recall, a UFO witness I had interviewed for MUFON told of an experience she shared with a friend some 25 years ago when they ate at a strange restaurant called "Restaurant X" somewhere north-northwest of the Chicago Loop. Then when the witness returned 4 days later, there was no trace of the restaurant. The witness thought that she and her friend may have experienced a "masking memory" to cover up the fact that something very unusual had happened to them they they were not meant to remember.

First things first: a few of you have suggested that the disappearing restaurant was a "Pop-Up" restaurant, one designed to appear randomly and seemingly spontaneously, publicized only in real-time via social media, then vanish as quickly as it appeared... It's an interesting and worthwhile theory, but for a few snags. The incident took place in 1989 or 1990, and I can't find any trace of any pop-up restaurants existing before about 2009. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough, or not looking in the right places, but the pop-up theory does not seem to be supported by any historical records.

The witness was also very adamant that the physical properties of the space had changed when she went back a second time, which also argues against the pop-up theory.

The witness has kindly narrowed down what she thinks is the location of the mystery restaurant as being north of Wacker Drive, between LaSalle and State. But she can't be more specific and she can't be certain that she's remembering the location correctly...

She also just wrote me the following:
When I think about my Restaurant X experience, I can't nicely fit it into any of my boxes...which is fine, I'm always up for expanding my experiences.  The odd way the wait staff would appear and disappear from the table; I don't remember ever seeing them walking.  The hostess walked in front of me, but I never saw the other staff walking.  They were hanging out in the darkened bar area when I did look around for them, but I don't remember seeing them walking there either. More standing? Hovering? Dark pants? No legs? The ever lasting bottle of wine (and I didn't even get buzzed...). The fact that NO ONE else came into that restaurant.  It wasn't too early when we got there.  I can't be sure, but I know that we were there for over 2 hours...maybe longer than 3.  Why? How?  I just can't wrap my head around it enough to make me happy with an explanation.  Different dimension?  Don't know much about that. While there were really odd things going on, which my girl friend and I commented on while we were there, it wasn't odd enough at the time for either of us to feel uncomfortable enough to have to leave.
The funny thing is that the more she describes it, the more it sounds like the "Mafia restaurant" story told to me by a friend by way of explaining Restaurant X. My friend told of a time she and some friends went to an Italian restaurant and found they were the only diners in the place, except for a few men in dark suits sitting by themselves in the shadows. The wait staff seemed completely on edge, and hurried them through their meal so they would leave quickly... They found out later that the restaurant was owned by a notorious mob figure.

You want a tip? I'll give you a tip. Do not eat at Restaurant X.
So perhaps Restaurant X is a Mafia restaurant with an unsettling other-worldly edge to it...? Maybe the "MAFIA" is really the "MUFOIA." Something to think about.....