Author: Ellen Edwards

Distant Encounters: the Hat-Wearing Little Green Men of Texas

Today’s tale hails from 1913, two miles west of the northeastern Texas burg of Farmersville (population 3,301). But the people involved told no one until 1978 – out of fear? Fear of ridicule over having one of UFOlogy’s few run-ins with literal little green men?

Brothers Clyde, Sid and Silbie Latham chopped cotton on their family’s farm. A mundane scene interrupted by the barking of dogs. The Latham brothers scramble to investigate and find, as Silbie told FATE in 1978:

“a little man only 18 inches tall…He didn’t seem to have on any shoes but I don’t really remember his feet. His arms were hanging down just beside him. He had on a kind of hat that reminded me of a Mexican hat. It was a little round hat that looked like it was built onto him…everything looked like a rubber suit including the hat.”

The 18-inch man’s rubbery skin was smooth, dark green all over (Fate, 1978) – including the strange, hat-like protrusion. The brothers considered the bizarre visitor, the alien before them, and reached out in a spirit of peace. Contact began, and everyone prospere-nope! Their dogs viciously murdered him a second later. According to Silbie Latham:

“Red blood spilled everywhere and the being’s insides, which looked like human organs, fell to the ground.”

Ah yes, at least we discovered the defenseless alien visitor did in fact have human-esque organs, and blood, so very much blood, and so we can know for sure that in those few confused seconds he felt all the pain just as intensely as any human being. A successful first contact!

“Unable to cope with the whole matter, the boys retreated to their work; the dogs stayed near them the rest of the day, as if frightened. “

The dogs were frightened…at discovering what they were capable of, much like in Air Bud: There Ain’t No Rule A Dog Can’t Be a Retired Enforcer, Weighed Down By His Terrible Sins.

The boys told their parents, who disbelieved them. The following day, the little man’s body vanished without a trace. Two years later, they did see “a mysterious object carrying two lights — one in front, the other in back — sail silently by” near Celeste, Texas. Three years later, Silbie witnessed a fireball falling from the sky, leaving only a circle of gray powder. But the Lathams would never again see a little green man.

Silbie Latham’s story went untold for sixty-five years, when his grandson would report it to the Center for UFO Studies. Even Latham’s own grandson heard the story only reluctantly, after much prompting. And while everyone found Silbie believable, researchers tended to discount his story outright, explaining it away as a prank or a frog. Silbie rejected them all.

Admittedly, Silbie Latham’s little green man probably was a frog. It probably was an ordinary creature that ran into the wrong dogs. But we should still be glad he shared his unbelievable story, and that others won’t wait their entire lives to tell theirs…and that when aliens actually meet humanity, they don’t get torn apart by dogs.

An illustration of the Farmersville Green Man by Eric Kowalick, who has delightful illustrations of many obscure alien sightings.

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May the real Eminem clone please stand up?

A thread about Lindsey Lohan’s reaction to Harvey Weinstein produces this utter gem:

…right then!

The joy of this is how it doesn’t really evolve, but just jumps right in. Seeing someone going in a mundane-bullshit brainwashing direction, one man stood up and said, “nope, she is a clone, and guess what! So is Eminem!” No one even mentioned Eminem!

It seems the denizens of r/conspiracy despise Eminem for his recent anti-Trump rap – and some believe he didn’t even rap it at all, and that much like Steve Guttenberg, a vast conspiracy has replaced Eminem with…a clone. Because cloning works very rapidly, and would replicate non-genetic factors like someone’s performance style and ability. This Redditor’s knowledge of cloning would make a Raëlian look good.

And how does he know Eminem was replaced by a clone?

*chef fingers* Marrrrrrrvelous.

Distant Encounters: Giant Shrimp in the Laundry Room

Nessie, Area 51, Roswell: names like this define UFO and paranormal lore. This is not a series about them. In Distant Encounters, we tour the strangest, most isolated tales of encounters with the unknown.

One of the weirdest, most obscure cryptids of all time hails from Strange magazine’s sixth issue, an account by one Virginia Staples. Living in Washington in 1948, her apartment building’s basement was improbably large – and riddled with holes.

There were huge holes in the walls and the apartment house manager used to tell me that it was rumored there was a passage to the water.

Doing her laundry, she felt that she was not alone:

There was a washer and a washtub and a clothesline. And on this particular day I had gotten my clothes all hung up but I kept feeling someone was staring at me or looking at me. And it was such a creepy feeling I finally turned around and looked towards the back of the basement and froze. I was so scared I can still feel it. I couldn't move. In one of the huge holes in the basement there stood this thing.

According to the transcript of her phone call, she broke down here as she described what she saw.

Oh, it was horrible! I stand five foot tall and this creature was as tall as I was. It had a bright orange colored body and little spidery thin legs and antennae on its head that kept moving back and in and out.

When the bizarre creature moved towards her, the witness fled. The encounter so unnerved her that she immediately moved out of the building. Seeking answers, she tried to look for another creature like the one she saw:

I went to an aquarium to see if I could see anything that looked like what it was, and the only thing that I could find that looked anything like it was this little tiny shrimp. But it just doesn't make sense.

A couple years later, she bravely ventured back to the city she left – only to find that the building demolished, any answers truly lost.

The creature known only as the “giant shrimp in the laundry room” is a true oddity. A very-mid-00s forum thread discusses the tale:

 

Another poster tells of their own encounter with a scarlet frog that they never found any trace of since; others make Gary Coleman jokes. But no one reports another encounter with a giant shrimp, watching them from a hole in some dusty Washington basement – though we do, delightfully, find fan art of it. Strange magazine’s first-hand reports section includes raw, uninvestigated personal reports, and that’s what they remain: pure, unfiltered stories of the truly inexplicable. Whatever Virginia Staples really saw, she was so scared of it that she uprooted her entire life to escape it. And we’ll never know more.

 

Distant Encounters: The Garbage Cryptid of About.com

Nessie, Area 51, Roswell: names like this define UFO and paranormal lore. This is not a series about them. In Distant Encounters, we tour the strangest, most isolated tales of encounters with the unknown.

About.com was a sprawling lifestyle site, divided into nearly 1,000 pages for any interest under the sun: whether you were a gardener, knitter, or occultist, it was all there. This year, it shut down, rebranded as a more-modern lifestyle brand called Dotdash. Much of its content was lost, and that’s not terribly sad or remarkable, except for the day its Paranormal site spawned a report of a strange creature living in a dump.

A poll asking if readers had seen a cryptid spawned a unique response:

Paula M. had one such sighting. But it wasn’t of a Bigfoot, a sea serpent, or even a chupacabras. In many ways it was much stranger. And try as she might and after diligent research, she has yet to come up with an explanation for what she saw.

1999, Oregon. Paula M.’s hobby is searching junkyards for vintage bottles and glass which, you do you, Oregon. Heading into a off-the-beaten-path dump she had never visited before, Paula M. noticed something unusual:

“As I was staking out the area,” she said. “I happened across some tunnel-like holes in the ground. The holes were of a peculiar size, which made me wonder what kind of animal possibly could have dug them.”

Paula noticed six or seven of the holes, each about two inches in diameter and partially camouflaged by the sparse growth of the recess.

Finding an inviting spot, Paula M. dug in the dirt for nearly an hour in search of vintage bottles with embossed letters which, okay.

Paula decided to take a break from her excavation and stretch her legs. She stood and walked around a bit. “While I was moving about at the bottom of the recess, I thought I saw, from the corner of my eye, a clump of dirt move. It was about the size of my fist”…about 10 feet away from her, the clump of dirt moved, like it was pushed out of the ground from beneath, and rolled down the hill. Paula began to get a little nervous. Whatever had made those tunnel-like holes was apparently making another one. And she wasn’t particularly keen on watching a rat, a snake, or some other potentially dangerous animal come slithering out.

Then she saw it. Something living began to poke itself out of the ground!

The creature emerges, and it’s like nothing Paula M. has seen before:

She stopped about four to five feet away from the creature. What she could see of it was poking out of the ground about five inches. “At this point, I wasn’t sure what end of the animal I was looking at,” Paula said. “It was about two inches in diameter, and the end of it was perfectly smooth and round – like a cue ball. It was light-brown in color, very much like the surrounding earth. It had a worm-like shape, but didn’t taper down at the end as worms do, and was firmer around looking. It had no distinguishing or familiar features to indicate to me what it was.”

Its size made it obvious that this was not a worm – at least not any kind of worm Paula had ever heard of. And she could not see its entire body, only what was poking out of the ground, so who knows what the rest of this thing really looked like…she could not detect any eyes, mouth, nose or ears. It had no fur, scales or worm-like ripples on its skin. What it did have was patches of peach-like fuzz – very fine and spaced apart like the hair on a young human’s arm – covering what looked like soft, dusty skin about the texture of a person’s. It was not wet, slimy or tough looking.

As she studied at the strange, featureless creature, it gave her a startling surprise:

“All of a sudden,” she said, “while I was examining it, two big beautiful crystal blue eyes popped open! Now I knew what end of the animal I was looking at.”

All thoughts of this being some kind of giant worm were immediately dismissed. Worms don’t have eyes – not like that! More curious than frightened of this remarkable animal, Paula began to wonder how big the body was and what its arms, legs, and tail looked like – or if it even had any such parts. “The white of the eye surrounding its blue iris was the whitest I’d ever seen – a pure virgin white. The size of the eyes were quite big in proportion to its body size. I wondered if it were a juvenile.”

The creature remained gentle, undisturbed by Paula’s presence.

“My presence didn’t seem to bother it because it studied me for only a short period of time. Then it ignored me. It appeared content and relaxed while it exposed itself to the sun…Paula was startled when the creature began to move, and she instinctively stepped back. The animal slowly began to sway the top of its body back and forth as it stretched itself upward toward the sky, all the while slowly blinking.

“I tried to get it to look at me again by clapping my hands and yelling, but it continued to ignore me.” Since it had no discernable ears, Paula wondered if perhaps it couldn’t hear sound. So she tried waving her arms and hands about to draw its attention to her. But all it did was stare at the sky, continuing to sway its head back and forth, stretching upward while blinking slowly. It was as if it were hypnotized by the light of the sun.”

After five minutes, the creature retreated back into the ground, leaving more questions than answers:

Paula isn’t quite sure what to make of this peculiar encounter, but it haunts her. “I haven’t been able to erase it from my mind, and it’s driving me crazy! I’ve asked many people about it and have spent countless hours searching the Internet for answers to any known or unknown animal fitting the description of the animal.”

Paula returned to the dump site the following Spring in hopes of getting another glimpse of the mysterious creature. No such luck. Some of the hole openings were there, however. “I am convinced that this animal still exists and lives there. It’s possible that it hibernates, so I will go back again in early to mid-summer and try and get another glimpse of it – and possibly capture it on film.”

No such evidence ever presented itself, but readers eagerly wrote in with their own theories. Someone suggests a misidentified rubber boa, which Paula M. rejects. “Scott” proposes the legendary tatzelwurm. Another says a friend reports seeing a similar creature:

“I have not seen this creature myself, but I know of someone in California who has. It was about more than 30 years ago and the people who saw it were little children at the time. They said they were playing in the backyard in the dirt when all of a sudden this ‘thing’ came sprouting out the the dirt. The brother and sister just watched in horror, holding their breath. The brother described it as a tall, worm-looking thing about 8 feet tall. Up to this day, if the sister asks the brother, ‘Do you remember…?’ he cuts her off and says he doesn’t want to talk about it. I believe in what they saw.” – Natalie W.

The responses contain their own mystery: a suggestion of the “ingots” of Indochina as a solution is complicated by the fact that every result for “ingots” seems to be discussion of this very comment. This e-mail to a defunct website’s coverage of a obscure cryptid is itself the only account of an obscure cryptid.

“I probably won’t be the first or only to inform you that what Paula saw at the dump may indeed be an unidentified Southeastern Asian creature known as an ingot [possibly lingot]. Check with Agence France-Press for stories about ingots during the final years of French involvement in Indochina. They were seen burrowing everywhere, and the descriptions of the bodies and eyes match those of Paula’s story. Old Indochina veterans in the French army could never explain them or where they came from, and there is no record of American sightings during this country’s involvement later. General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, supreme commander of French forces in Indochina, was so unnerved by sighting of burrowing ingots and the lack of information about them that he brought in a special team of researchers, who apparently found nothing.

“The ingot is like no other creature reported on earth, and it contributed to the general weirdness of the French experience in Indochina. Ingots were reported in large numbers in 1953 around the North Vietnamese site where an entire French regiment vanished without a trace. This disappearance may have had nothing to do with ingots, but there are still old veterans in the cafes of Paris, Bordeaux and Marseilles who swear there was a connection. Incidentally, the reality of the disappearing regiment is well-documented. For a few years in the 1950s, burrowing ingots made big news in France. But France, like the US later, hid its Indochinese veterans and paid little attention to their stories… about anything. Such is defeat.” – Loic C.

Anton B. suggests that the gentle creature was in fact a vicious predator, sizing up its prey:

“I read the article about that weird creature of the dump that Paula M saw. I just think that she ought to be careful going back to look for the creature. Its behavior seems to me to suggest that it is a predator of some sort…his creature obviously showed no sign of fear from the account that was given. This creature even came out of the ground when it was likely that it would have had some sign that there was a large being somewhere in the vicinity. I assume that it had this knowledge as a creature that lived underground would likely be sensitive to vibrations, and be able to determine that something large was around.

“The next thing that makes this creature seem predatory is how it extended itself and waved in the air in a very obvious manner…Of course, I am not a professional in the field of animal behavior, but…I’d just suggest that she doesn’t approach the creature and that she does not go to look for it alone. Perhaps the reason that the creature is unknown is that no one has ever survived an experience with it before.”

Anton B. isn’t a professional in animal behavior, BUT…Paula M did never report back, as far as I can tell, beyond one interview with Jeff Rense that I can’t find any trace of, so yep she was absolutely eaten by it. That’s just science. And if she did ever report back, I couldn’t find a trace of it either, since all the proof is buried deep in the Wayback Machine. This story about a weird cryptid, who defied categorization and explanation, is itself now a kind of internet cryptid.

The Dump Creature: Part 1, Part 2; Comments: Part 1, Part 2

In Which Flat Earthers Prove Too Stupid For Even Reddit

A semi-serious resurgence of flat eartherism is going on all around us, a veritable golden age of theories debunked in the Bronze Age. And it’s now spread to Reddit.

One user, whose submissions are otherwise full of r/conspiracy’s typical anti-Semitism and Pizzagate ravings, also spreads the Flat Earth Gospel to a mostly hostile audience.

The Earth somehow looks different in different photos taken across a period of forty years. This is of course a sign of a conspiracy, since camera technology’s famously hasn’t changed since 1975. The only other explanation is that these photos represent a wide array of photos, taken by different cameras, with different weather on earth, at different angles and distances, and with some being acknowledged composite images, but who would believe that?

His big sticking point seems to be the size of North America: his perpetual refrain in response to criticism is that “US too big!!!”. After all, sizes are absolutely constant from all angles and distances.

They also link to a website about the “NASA Occult conspiracy”:

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to read this site, on account of now being blind because my god that color scheme

The user’s other posts have delightful titles like “NASA gets pwned from a camera bought at Walmart with video showing FAKE PLANETS and fake stars”, “If the shortest distance between two points is a straight line then WHY is there NO FLIGHTS over South Atlantic Ocean?” (with every comment pointing out many, many non-stop flights from South Africa to Brazil or Australia), and “The “Northern Lights” are proof we live under a dome/firmament”.

Could I actually try to debunk these theories? Yes. Should I? Fuck no. Life’s too short to spend time arguing with people who sincerely believe the Earth is flat, and for once the denizens of r/conspiracy agree.

Distant Encounters: Canada’s Most Mysterious UFO

Nessie, Area 51, Roswell: names like this define UFO and paranormal lore. This is not a series about them. In Distant Encounters, we tour the strangest, most isolated tales of encounters with the unknown.

August 18th, 1991. West Carleton, Ontario – a rural farming community. Diane Labenek hears the barks of distant dogs across the field. She rises, looks out the window, and one of my favorite UFO cases of all time begins.

Labenek sees fire and lights: red flames and smoke. A UFO flies towards the bright fire. As Labenek watches,  the UFO departs. Ten minutes later, a helicopter flies overhead. She tells no one but her family.

This isn’t the first strange event to happen in West Carleton: in 1989, Labenek and many others report an “intense, bright light” passing overhead towards a nearby swamp, pursued by helicopters. But neither event draws much attention: with Labenek keeping the story to herself, it’s just another UFO sighting, a lone report without any proof to back it up.

The following year, proof arrived.

Six months later, UFO researcher Bob Oechsler received a package from someone identified only as “Guardian”. The anonymous present included a VHS tape and many crudely forged documents and photos of aliens. In short, most of what Guardian sent was easily dismissable bullshit: but the VHS tape proved harder to dismiss.

The tape corroborates Labenek’s 1991 sighting almost exactly, down to the barking dogs in the background. Seemingly filmed from the other side of the field, you can see the flares in the field, and the shining lights of a large, distinct UFO. Oechsler, who didn’t know about Labenek’s sighting, couldn’t have known that this wasn’t Guardian’s first enigmatic message.

After the 1989 sighting, researcher Tom Theofanous of the Canadian UFO Research Network received a package from Guardian alleging a UFO crash near West Carleton. With nothing but photo-copied photos of fake aliens as “proof”, researchers who toured West Carleton discovered little else, bar reports of a strange lights from a local couple, a rancher – and Diane Labenek. They safely classified Guardian’s first message as a hoax.

In 1992, researchers weren’t so willing to dismiss Guardian. Oeschler and Graham Lightfoot visited West Carleton and, along the way, Labenek. Having no knowledge of her story, they were stunned to discover that it matched the video nearly exactly. Perhaps this would be a rarity – a UFO case with genuine proof?

Yet the investigation was far from smooth. According to MUFON Ontario, Oeschler’s inexperience showed:

[Oechsler] pointed to vegetation that had “been treated with microwave radiation”! How did he come to that conclusion without using any instruments?

“It’s very dry and brittle, so it’s obviously been irradiated” Oechsler said.

The ‘irradiated’ plants were Juniper bushes that always look that way after a Canadian winter – bleached, dried and flattened by heavy snow, probably in much the same way as in Maryland, Oechsler’s home-state.

Some residents of West Carleton, apparently unaware of the threat posed by the alien-irradiated juniper bushes in their midst, took note of an unusually high number of helicopters flying overhead – black, green, and maroon helicopters, with tinted windows for that paranoid-90s flair.

Seeking to “flush out Guardian” – a purely selfless motive I absolutely believe – Oeschler managed to wrangle a story about the case on Unsolved Mysteries. Before their investigation was even complete, it also managed to make an appearance on Sightings, winning the prestigious dubious-90s-paranormal-show double. The investigation also drew in Bruce Maccabee, the famed MUFON researcher who would later think a mouse light in a room was a UFO.

By 1993, researchers had concluded that the Guardian case was likely a hoax. With everything else in the package a proven forgery, why not the video? Claims that it was too large, and too silent to be faked weren’t terribly convincing. Guardian went from one of the most exciting UFO cases in history to an embarrassment UFOologists would rather leave behind them. In 1994, Oeschler, the researcher who drove the case from the beginning retired from UFOology.

Guardian is a strange, beautiful mess. The VHS-quality video is oddly mesmerizing, with its blurred lights in the darkness. The tale of its investigation, meanwhile, is a trainwreck. Most probably, the video itself was a hoax, a simple case of lights on a truck. But there’s something so magically X-Files-y about the idea of an enigmatic, anonymous source leaking proof of UFOs to intrepid researchers, of a person keeping a strange event to themselves for fear of ridicule only to receive proof their experience was valid. Guardian burnt bright and it burnt fast. Among the shadowy-conspiracy genre of UFO sighting, Guardian is maybe the most archetypal one there is.

As for Guardian, their identity was never found.

Biblioteca Pléyades, a sprawling library of the paranormal and strange, has a in-depth article about the Guardian case that you really should read.

A History of Nibiru, the Made-up Planet That Keeps Failing to Destroy the Earth

Nibiru, the secretive Planet X speculated to exist by some people who are not astronomers, will not pass through our solar system and destroy the Earth this Saturday, goddamnit.

David Meade, an author who boldly describes himself as a “Christian numerologist” despite that not now, or ever having been a job, predicts the world’s end in a potent mix of Bible-code-eschatology and New Age Planet X fears. And he issues his prophecy via the means best accepted by the people: incredibly stupid Youtube videos.

A woman will descend from heaven, looking like something out of a Pure Moods ad.

“…but because she saw The Shape of Water, she’ll kinda be into it.”

A great red dragon will appear, looking like a Langolier rendered on a Nintendo 64.

Snatched up by God in a way akin to the magical books in Myst, yet somehow with more antiquated graphics.

Ah yes, what more Judeo-Christian symbols are there than Astraea, Hermes, Ares and Aphrodite? We later learn that her child is Jupiter – that classic figure of Christianity, Zeus, God of Thunder.

What follows is an apocalypse depicted with all the verisimilitude of a basic cable drama starring a lesser Skarsgard.

My god, look at the sky…it’s a blurry aurora, at this time of year, localized entirely in your shitty Youtube video!

People disappear worldwide from stock footage of major cities, carried away in epilepsy-inducing balls of light. On this random street, hazy filters distract us from how few people are actually there as cars crash and helicopters fall in some hollow The Leftovers-ripoff. I guess the message is less “be Christian and stuff” and more “NEXT TIME YOU INVITE FINAL PAM TO BARBECUE”.

Pants fall from the sky and we close with a final warning:

…says the man literally making an overwrought Youtube video saying the exact day and hour he thinks the world will end. What a world, what a world. (more…)

Donald Trump-loving Redditor Places Their Faith in Martin Shkreli

Pictured: horror

Here’s a dispatch from r/The_Donald, a subreddit perhaps better known under its alternative name, “literal Hell”. A Redditor who loves Donald Trump is a potent combination of douchebaggery, and yet to form a proper Asshole Vortex you need something more potent yet.

Ah, there we go!

Martin Shkreli, most universally hated man in America, a smug little Rumpelstilskin-esque goblin whose sins include jacking up the price of medication by thousands and disrespecting the Wu-Tang Clan, has secrets. Secrets about Hillary Clinton, who he tweeted about. Of course, he tweeted that he’d pay $5,000 for a lock of her hair because who even knows. Who even fucking knows, Jesus Christ. Jesus. Jesus fucking Christ, everything. God damn. Fucking shit. Jesus Christ. What the fuck. God FUCKING damn everythinANYWAY back to discussing r/The_Donald, a subreddit devoted to the President, Donald TruJESUS CHRIST, GODFUCKINGARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!

 

Would be top kek if his over zealous jailing triggered 10k hill emails to drop

I think the theory here goes that Shkreli is hiding Hillary’s secrets, and if anything happened to him (like going to jail for his many and varied crimes), he’d release them. Which really raises the question: why do these people care about Hillary anymore? The candidate they supported won. He’s been President for almost a full year JESUS FUCKING CHRIST and they’re expecting…what, exactly? Proof Hillary tried to rig the election she lost? Secrets she’s hiding about the person she didn’t beat? What’s end game here for Trump supporters?

I think if everyone began trying to get all the crooked politicians DNA themselves or at least trollin the fuckers with it, the smokescreen will do crazy shit.

they would be freaked to lose a hair. fuckin top kek.

that would scare the shit outta tons of crooks. but normies dgaf. nice.

What does that mean. What does that even mean oh god I’m having a stroke goodbye friends

Distant Encounters: Joe Simonton’s Space Pancakes

Nessie, Area 51, Roswell: names like this define UFO and paranormal lore. This is not a series about them. In Distant Encounters, we tour the strangest, most isolated tales of encounters with the unknown.

Joe Simonton wanted nothing more than to eat a late breakfast one day in April 1961. Instead he found himself the focus of one of UFO history’s weirdest footnotes.

Hearing a strange sound at his farmhouse in Eagle River, Wi., the chicken farmer investigated and discovered an alien craft: discovered as “silvery”, with a shape akin to “two washbowls turned face to face”. It made noise like “knobby tires on wet pavement”. And as Simonton approached the craft from another world, a hatch began to open. And out stepped three…Italians.

To be specific, Simonton described them as five foot tall men with dark hair and skin; only a few sources include him summing them up as space Italians, or at least Italian-adjacent aliens, bearing a silver jug with two handles.

The evolution of what people imagine aliens to look like is a study in anthropomorphism. In the 1950s, the traditional depiction of aliens was as “Nordics”: literally, blonde-haired white people from space. The somewhat less human-looking Grey or Zeta Reticulan hails from the Betty and Barney Hill abduction (by way of a half-remembered episode of The Outer Limits) a few months after Simonton’s sighting – they’d become more common as the Hill case became popular in the mid-60s, and essentially codified as what aliens look like by Whitley Strieber’s Communion. In between we find so much that’s compellingly, bizarrely alien and strange. Greys are still incredibly, unbelievably human in shape, but at least they aren’t Italian dwarves bearing jugs.

Joe Simonton with a space pancake.

According to Simonton, the aliens motioned to him that they needed water. After dutifully filling their jug, Simonton returned – and was granted the gift that made his UFO encounter (in)famous.

On a flameless stove, one of the aliens cooked strange, disc-shaped food. A curious Simonton reached out for them, and was given four. He left the ship with this bounty in hand, and watched as the alien craft vanished as mysteriously as it appeared.

Simonton’s story was bizarre, but he had something no other UFO contactee had: physical proof, in the form of four space pancakes. Wait, three: Simonton ate one. It tasted like cardboard. Analysis of the space pancakes proved that they were made from typical Earthly ingredients, bar an unexplained lack of salt. Simonton faded back into obscurity soon after his encounter, saying that if he ever encountered aliens again, he’d keep quiet.

Simonton’s encounter with aliens is remarkable for how casual it seems. People make up stories about alien experiments, or of wise extraterrestrials handing down profound messages of peace, or warnings for the future. Joe Simonton, by contrast, spins a tale of aliens cooking breakfast. They don’t visit him to deliver a message, but to enlist his help refilling a jug, as they didn’t have enough water to flamelessly fry up their space pancakes. This story of Italians coming down from the stars to make pancakes is more strange – more human than almost anything in UFO lore.

Odds and Ends: Authenticated by Verrit Edition!

MEDIA FOR THE UH, WHO, EXACTLY?

Peter Daou, formerly of the Clinton campaign – and currently living through the 2016 election in a strange, ceaseless fugue – has founded a new media site for “the 65.8 million”. Called Verrit, it’s one of the more confounding political sites online, less a fact checking site than a fact site – a never-ending wall of contextless facts and quotes, each slapped with an authentication number.

Verrit’s existence is less interesting than the bizarre assumptions behind its existence. Verrit exists so that those poor souls still living out the 2016 election can win internet debates; because all you need to win a debate is to show someone a quote as succinct as it is utterly meaningless. Need proof? Why, plug in the authentication number to see that it’s right there on Verrit. Verrit comes from a vein of politics that prizes facts above all, that thinks solid facts are all a person needs to be swayed over to your side, just like on The West Wing. You may know this school of politics from it losing horrifically in the face of fact-free, emotional populism last election. Oh well, at least we can always blame the Russians instead of facing our problems.

LOUISE MENSCH NEWS

Louise Mensch, the British politician turned conspiracy monger and failed media mogul, fired her own lawyer via Tweet for having the audacity to suggest the United States may interfere in democracies abroad occasionally, at some point in its history.

IAN MILES CHEONG WATCH

Noted ant enthusiast Ian Miles Cheong, the saddest boy, is angry. Why is he angry? Because a gender non-conforming kid exists and it’s stopping us from going to space, like we promised in 1977. Like all Americans, I’ll always fondly remember Jimmy Carter’s inspiring promise to “one day, perhaps in 2017, send an American to space for the first ever time, just like in the new motion picture Stars War”. That there are people in space right now, as we speak, must elude Ian Miles Cheong, who’s busy fretting about society’s decline whilst yelling incoherently at literal children.

And if you’re a fan of childish screeching, Ian Miles Cheong has also spent the last several days tweeting angrily about how he didn’t like how a gaming journalist played a video game but fuck me if I’m ever gonna dive into Gamergate again.

ENTER THE NOTCH ZONE

Minecraft designer Notch blinks unsteadily as the California sun creeps through his mansion’s shuttered, dusty blinds. Getting to his feet, he stumbles, falling to the floor, the heavy thud echoing through the desolate halls, heard by no one. Taking one step after another, trepedatiously he walks through cavernous halls to his one source of joy: his candy room. Reaching out with his gnarled, dirt-caked hand, he unwraps a moldy Tootsie roll, struggling, tearing the paper and dropping the glorious nugget to the floor. He picks it up and eats it anyway.

Taking his phone out, he types out a few words of wisdom:

And returns to his solitary kingdom, his empire of dust and candy, content in the knowledge that he really triggered the Sajews with that one.

BIZARRE CONSPIRACY IMAGE OF THE DAY