High Strangeness: Dr. J. Allen Giraffe and The Blue Book Blues

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Dr. J. Allen Giraffe and The Blue Book Blues

Major Hector Quintanilla was the project chief of the U.S. Air Force's "Project Blue Book" UFO investigation program from 1963 to 1969, when it was disbanded. Quintanilla was a thoroughly disagreeable chap. He hated UFO's with a passion, and at every opportunity he knee-capped Blue Book's longtime scientific advisor, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, as I've chronicled in some detail in my Hynek bio, The Close Encounters Man: How One Man Made the World Believe in UFOs. In fact, second only to Dr. Carl Sagan, Major Quintanilla was the biggest, baddest bad guy in my book.
Project Blue Book chief Major Hector Quintanilla

Why do I bring this up so randomly? Why, it's because I checked in this morning on imdbpro.com to get the latest production update on the upcoming History Channel TV series about Dr. Hynek and Project Blue book, entitled Blue Book, and came across an odd connection to Quintanilla. Because this TV show appears to be so remarkably similar to my book, I've made it a habit to check in on its progress, and lately there always seems to be a surprise or two in the latest update.

For example, I recently noticed that the producers had cast an actor in the role of "General Hoyt S. Vandenberg," and I called attention to it here in my blog. I thought it odd that the producers would made a big deal about this casting news, since Vandenberg is at best a minor footnote in UFO history, and in fact was never involved in Project Blue Book at all. So, I took a poke at the producers over that, and then today when I checked, I found that Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg is no longer listed on imdb in the credits of the show.

Months earlier, I had pointed out that the History Channel's original press release for the show erroneously claimed that Dr. Hynek "spearheaded" project Blue Book, when in fact he was merely a hired consultant. The current PR material from History Channel acknowledges that Hynek was only a hired consultant.

Suddenly things are even weirder in Blue Book-world. The cast list on imdb is now greatly expanded, but with the exceptions of Dr. Hynek and his wife Miriam, not one of the characters is an actual person. The new cast members include such colorful characters as "Susie Miller," "General Hugh Valentine," Mandy," "Donnie," "Toby McManus," and "Local."  None of these people is real (Wait a minute! "Gen. Hugh Valentine?" "HV??" Could that be a new version of "Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg?" He hasn't been eliminated; he's been altered!).

They are now blatantly making shit up. Case in point: Deadline.com now reports that an actor named Michael Malarkey (no, I did not make that up!) has been cast not as Major Hector Quintanilla, but as, and I quote,
"Captain Michael Quinn. A decorated WWII hero, Captain Michael Quinn is selected to run Project Blue Book, a new Air Force division investigating UFO phenomena. A charming Air Force pilot, he clashes with his Blue Book partner, Dr. Allen Hynek (Aidan Gillen), challenging Hynek’s scientific mind with his raw emotional gut instincts."
I'm not joking: here's the link.

I don't know whether I should laugh or cry. As Ira Steven Behr, my old boss on Star Trek, loved to say with a resigned shrug, "Hey, Mark, it's Hollyweird." That's what they do: they make shit up. But, this is the so-called "History Channel." Forgive me for thinking that might actually mean something...

So anyway, according to Deadline.com, the irritating Major Quintanilla is now the "charming" "Captain Quinn." He apparently was the first Blue Book project chief, not the last, and his conflict with Dr. Hynek, himself newly promoted from "consultant" to "partner," was simply a battle between logic and emotion, with Hynek taking on the Spock role and "Quinn" standing in for Dr. McCoy.

Huh. News to me.

I would not be at all surprised if they create another character named Captain Tanilla." After all, "Quintanilla" is such a great name, and as it stands they're only using the first half of it. Why let the rest go to waste?

I'll take that a step even further. I also wouldn't be at all surprised if, the next time I check, Dr. Hynek himself has a new name and identity. I hereby make a suggestion to the Blue Book producers: Dr. Hynek was known to start the first day of his astronomy classes by writing his name on the blackboard and introducing himself as "Dr. Hynek. as in 'giraffe.'" Why not play it safe and call Hynek "Dr. J. Allen Giraffe" in your show?

It's almost as if they're saying that the real story of Dr. J. Allen Hynek and Project Blue Book isn't interesting enough as it is, and that it needs to be enhanced. That's crazy.

Who here agrees with me?


Tom Mellett said...

Hello Mark,

I am completely new to your blog and came here via a link from Jason Colavito about your ego-dust-up with Jacques Vallee.

But the reason I’m commenting here is to point out not one but two linguistic synchronicities that strike me as somewhat comical but might lead into some serious avenues of investigation.

So the producers, in order to come up with a character name for Maj. Hector Quintanilla split his last name apart and from that some Quinn and Tanilla.

Let’s do the comic relief first. Why is the character demoted from Major to Captain for the Tanilla name? I’m old enough to figure out the resonance. Did you ever listen to songs by the husband-wife duo The Captain and Tennille? Here’s their hit song from 1975 “Love will Keep us Together.” I was grateful for the Oldie!

But then when I saw the name “Michael Quinn,” how also could I not think of an Army officer one rank higher than Major, Lt. Col. Michael Aquino.
Jasun Horseley will introduce Aquino in the context of Peter Levenda and the Sekret Machines aspect of Tom DeLonge’s To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences, and well, maybe you don’t know that Jacques Vallee wrote the introduction to Peter Levenda’s first volume in a proposed trilogy. And of course Jacques Vallee is BFF with Hal Puthoff who is really the guiding brains behind the DeLonge Disclosure extravaganza through Bob Bigelow.

I need to catch my breath here, so catch ya later,

Tom Mellett
Los Angeles, CA

purrlgurrl said...

Well for starters, History Channel hasn't presented any semblance of accurate history since the 1990s. It's format for the past 20 or so years has been scripted reality shows featuring mostly freaks and geeks and fictionalized/fantasized "recreations" of real events (without fact checking them first).

History Channel now appears to be intent on presenting another highly fictionalized show about UFOs masquerading as non-fiction, a la Hanger One.

Several years ago, in an outraged snit, I sent it an angry letter telling it to change it's name because it was committing fraud by calling itself History Channel. I never got a response. Hmmmmm. I wonder why.

Mark UFO'Connell said...

Tom, I just made up "Captain Tanilla" off the top of my head while writing the blog post this morning, so don't put too much thought into it! It was just a joke.

That's a lot of names dropped in the context of the DeLonge saga. Honestly I have not delved so deeply into that affair to know the cast of characters as well as you seem to.

Purrlgurrl, thank you for writing that letter! You tried to make a difference :)

Unknown said...

Well you wrote a great fact based book. Anyone who has any knowledge of how the History Channel works, knows that they want is ratings, facts be damned. Maybe they can call the series The Captain and Tanilla.

Mark UFO'Connell said...

Hahahahaha, I like it!

nsurround said...

Rarely if at all does Hollywood show history as it actually happened. This series is not a documentary. The producers will take all license as they see fit to create what they think will be entertaining to their audience. However I believe they will get the jest of the story to some extent and that's all. The rest will be scripted characters that may or may not have been associated with the real history of project blue book. In many cases the names are changed and in some cases a single character in the series will represent multiple ones that were in real life. In any case it should prove interesting to see how it all plays out. I kind of assume that they will run a conspiracy angle similar to X-files etc. as part of the story and characters.

Rozie said...

Hi Mark,
First let me say I loved The Close Encounters Man so much that I was finally motivated to start a Conspiacy Theory bookclub, which meets at the end of the month to discuss this very book. I loved your treatment of Hynek and am hopeful for the opportunity to ask you sometime about how you came to your conclusions about Keyhoe.

Back when I was doing my own research, I met a fellow here in Dallas who served under Quintanilla after his Blue Book days. He told me he really liked the guy; Quintanilla was a no nonsense fellow but took good care of those under his authority. It helped me to see him as a guy who was a square peg pushed into a round hole, I see him as someone who had loyalty to the Air Force enough to take on a job he had utterly no interest in.

Keep up the good work! Is there a way to subscribe to your blog & have it delivered via email?

Mark UFO'Connell said...

I'm pretty sure they're going to portray Hynek and "Quinn" as Scully and Mulder. How original.

Mark UFO'Connell said...

Rozie, I appreciate your comments. I'd like to think that Hector Quintanilla was a nice guy, but boy, being in charge of Blue Book brought out all the worst in him.

You can subscribe to the blog. There's a button on the right side of the page that lets you sign up. Let me know if you have any problems with it.

Glad to have you aboard!