The UFO Thing

Flashback Friday: Weird Tales, and Images, from Wisconsin

“Wisconsin has the highest proportion of eccentric environments in the USA, more than 10% of the total.” – Jan Friedman

Since the demise of Time Cube, I’ve become nostalgic for the early, more personal days of the internet. Before social media was around, before content was shuffled towards a few overarching services. Things that are now Twitter feeds and Tumblr blogs would once be a gigantic number of individual, single-topic websites and forums, an array of personal homepages and strange blogs stretching off into eternity. You might stumble across a weird Subreddit now, but at least it’s cloaked in the familiarity of a larger site. Finding one of the web’s oddities once meant entering into an alternate world, created to mirror the author’s mind.

I once enjoyed browsing these websites. I heard about them on the old Snopes message boards, or places like Crank.net and the Museum of Hoaxes, or through long lists of links on places such as the Insolitology or even the Sci-Fi Channel.

I don’t know where I found today’s website. It’s one of several sites describing the many oddities of Wisconsin. I’ll detail the others in future Flashback Fridays; bizarrely, while today’s site is defunct, the other sites that are still up look way more outdated.

What do you think of when you think of Wisconsin? Cheese? Beer? Serial killers? The Fonz? How about the Beast of Bray Road, the werewolf that calls Elkhorn home? Or the Hodag, a reptilian beast made up in a failed attempt to make Rhinelander interesting? Those are just the obvious legends about the state. Today’s site looks at the deep cuts.

The now-defunct Weird Wisconsin last updated in 2004; it vanished some time in 2006. Presumably inspired by Weird New Jersey, it’s home to many accounts of Wisconsin’s paranormal phenomenon, and wonderful images like this:

WISCONSIN (more…)

Throwback Thursday: The Lawton Triangle of 2002

George Filer, a retired Major and Eastern Region Director for the Mutual UFO Network, compiles UFO events every week. In April 2002, he published a report of a UFO in Oklahoma:

LAWTON – Investigator Jim Hickman reports on the Flying Triangle-MUFON Case #1-774 that took place on March 11, 2002. Jim received a sighting report from “Joe W.” taken near Lawton with a fairly strange photo attached. Dr. Bruce Maccabee, agreed to conduct the photo analysis and asks what could this craft have been? It certainly doesn’t seem to be any military device or any type of object normally in the sky. Internally lighted blimps seem like very strange objects at night, but they have a distinctive shape. (There was a rash of blimp sightings and videos back in the early 1990s, so we have video “data” on the types of images they make…nothing like this.) Hence, unless someone has a better idea, I would have to classify this as a True UFO (TRUFO), which might be some sort of Alien Flying Craft (AFC) (or two such craft)?

All evidence pointed towards the Lawton Triangle being a true UFO, probably an alien flying his craft over the skies of Oklahoma. Or at least that was the conclusion of MUFON’s esteemed investigators when they saw this image:

What solid proof! Look at that strangely familiar red light, floating around in a void that provides absolutely no frame of reference, so judging its distance and size is impossible. You can read the full “report” here.

In May 2002, Filer’s Files published another report of the same event.

FORT SILL — Jim Hickman reports that on May 20, 2002, “TJ” was out on the Quanah Range on Fort Sill earlier tonight, and saw the strangest objects in the sky that he ever saw! TJ reports, “The nature of my job requires that I carry a camera in my vehicle for documenting accidents and incidents on Fort Sill training areas, so I was able to get a picture of the objects.” When I got home, I started searching the web trying to figure out who I should report this to, since I’m definitely NOT going to report this to the military authorities. If I did I’d probably end my career real fast. When I came across your website I almost fell out of my chair! The Lawton Triangle picture is almost exactly like the objects I saw, and Lawton is just south of Fort Sill where I saw these objects! Is this bizarre or what? TJ continues, “I was looking west when I first spotted the objects low to the ground behind some tall trees.” At first I thought they were the lights from military vehicles. “Then suddenly these lights shot straight up in the sky and just hovered for a minute or so.” I just sat there dumbfounded for a moment when it suddenly dawned on me that I should take a picture.

MUFON’s Dr Bruce Maccabee’s comments on the new photo: “WOW! Got to pull out all the stops on this one! A rare event, two photos of the same (apparently) thing! The numbers of lights at the corners may agree (do agree at two corners) and the shape of the red “car” is as I had predicted (the left and right outlines of the “car” in the Lawton photo would be the actual shapes of the left and right sides of the red UFO image if photographed without camera smear).”

If there are two similar pictures of this event – well, that’s some proof. We have to conclude that there are UFOs over Lawton, Oklahoma because –

So where these images “True UFOs” or “Alien Flying Craft” of some sort? No… In reality these pictures were nothing more than a picture of Microsoft Optical Mouse taken with the room lights and camera flash turned off!

IT WAS A MOUSE

THEY CONCLUDED A GLOWING MOUSE IN A DARK ROOM WAS A “TRUE UFO”

These weren’t some random people. One was a “regional director” for MUFON. Another investigator mentioned, Bruce Maccabee, is a well-known UFOlogist and former physicist. MUFON has its own TV show, called Hangar 1. It claims to reveal stories from their “UFO files”. THESE ARE THEIR FILES. We’re literally reading MUFON’s files, and they conclude that a mouse in a dark room is a “true UFO”.

Jim Hickman, who investigated the second sighting, planned to go on a radio show in September 2003 to explain how he “uncovered” the hoax. When the hoaxer called in to say that they revealed it themselves and Hickman didn’t expose anything, Hickman mysteriously failed to show for his interview. Apparently, it wasn’t the first time he failed to show. You can download the audio clips off the hoaxer’s page, and the radio host wonders why he was given a second chance.

In 2002, a man fooled UFOlogy’s Top Minds. And it didn’t take much: just a mouse hanging off a chair in a dark room.

Via Museum of Hoaxes.

Roswell That Ends Well

Last week shocking new Roswell slides were revealed in Mexico. Promised to be the “smoking gun” that would confirm the existence of the alleged 1947 UFO crash, it proved to be…less than convincing.

The placard in the original, suspiciously mummy-like image seemed unreadable. But some researchers have de-blurred it and revealed what it says: “Mummified Body of Two Year-Old Boy“. So that’s that.

REVIEW: Mysteries at the National Parks Provides Unexpected Weirdness

The National Parks are, according to Ken Burns, America’s best idea. Ken Burns made a twelve-hour long documentary telling of how we came to conserve nature. I have not seen Ken Burns’ The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, but I have seen Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the National Parks, a cheap show that turns beautiful parks into terrifying, dark places where evils lurk.

Once upon a time, we laughed at History Channel’s obsession with World War II. Now, to see anything historical on that network is a welcome oasis in a sea of Ancient Aliens. Scripted television is the greatest its ever been, yet reality television somehow keeps hitting new lows. Channels that once had a unique theme are now interchangeable. A&E may have once been a high-brow network, but now no such thing exists. No history networks exist. All have the same indistinguishable shows. Next up: Pawn Hunters, followed by a new Swamp Men!

Channels now air fictional documentaries about Megaladon and mermaids, and justify it by pointing to one tiny disclaimer in the end credits, visible only to ants crawling on the screen. The paranormal genre, represented by Sightings and Crossing Over with John Edwards in the 90s-early 00s, flourishes. You may not be able to learn about the War of 1812 on the History Channel, but by God will you learn about how aliens visited the ancient Egyptians, Mayans, and every culture outside Europe. These shows are harmless fun…until you consider the fact that they drove so many actually educational shows, about real history, off the air.

Last Friday I stumbled on a show called Mysteries at the National Parks. Airing Fridays at 10/9c on Travel Channel, Mysteries at the National Parks is the cousin of shows Mysteries at the Museum and Mysteries at the Castle. Those shows explore odd historical stories via museum exhibits and castles. They’re entertaining enough, and mainly stick to reality. Mysteries at the Museum features a UFO story every now and then. Mysteries at the National Parks is nothing but paranormal stories.

Public domain image by Ken Thomas.

This is Saint Mary Lake, only the second largest lake in Montana’s Glacier National Park. Look at that image. It’s beautiful, right? That’s what you see.

A Travel Channel producer looks at that photo and sees Adolf Hitler.

The first of two episodes of Mysteries at the National Parks focuses on how Glacier National Park is home to a secret Nazi base.

We begin with a soldier seeing lights in the sky. Before we long, we make the incredible leap from “UFO” to…Hitler.

It seems a Nazi named Otto Skorzeny fled to Montana, with Hitler and other prominent Nazis at his side. Hitler retired there, largely because it resembles a region of Germany, and he was photographed in 1997:

Hitler1997That blue guy? That’s Hitler, according to the experts interviewed for the show. We can tell because of the ear.

We hear of tourists discovering train cars with shackles inside, and a deep base where defected Nazis work, similar to Operation Paperclip. We’re warned that if you get too close, you may be shot.

And for half an hour, this is all we hear about Glacier National Park.

Time spent on other elements of the park was minimal. We don’t hear about its Blackfoot history. We don’t hear about how it came to be preserved. We don’t hear of its animal life, which includes mountain goats and lynx. We don’t hear about how its titular glaciers will disappear by 2030 if nothing is done about climate change, but we do hear about how they possess strange abilities. We hear of its mountains, because they reminded Hitler of home.

All we hear about Glacier National Park is how it’s a scary place, home to Hitler and soldiers that won’t hesitate to shoot you if you wander off the path.

The second episode focused on Gettysburg National Park. If you cannot tell an interesting story about the site of the Civil War’s most important battle without resorting to tall tales about ghosts, then you have failed as a storyteller. Yet here we are, and here’s a half hour about how Gettysburg is home to ghosts, quartz and time travelers.

Apparently, Gettysburg is particularly haunted, not because of the many who died during the battle, but because it lies on a layer of quartz. Quartz conducts ghosts, as you may know if you watch these sorts of shows. I saw one once called Ghost Mine, about a mine haunted by spirits in the quartz. At one point, an investigator saw a shadow move past a light and yelled, “Does it make you angry that I’m a woman? And that I have red hair in a mine?” That one moment is more entertaining than this entire series, which adopts a tone that seems to mock its own material. It’s as if the narrator is saying “can you believe this stupid thing I’m telling you”?

Yet the true low point of the series comes with a self-described time traveler. A man named Andrew D. Basiago claims to have traveled back to Gettysburg as part of a DARPA project. He provides evidence – a photo of himself in the past. Surely conclusive, except…

andrewbasiagogettysburgThat man standing on his own, to the left of the three men? That’s him. The man whose face is indistinct. The man whose identity can never be proven.

Andrew D. Basiago also claims to have traveled to Mars with Barack Obama. Such are the experts trotted out by Mysteries at the National Parks.

Looking ahead, today – after a midday marathon of Ghost Adventures – there are two new episodes. One is about Chupacabra. The other concerns unexplained disappearances.

The makers of Mysteries at the National Parks look at beautiful places and see monsters. They look at historical monuments and see phantoms. They see you as a gullible rube, who must be terrified by imaginary demons and belittled by the show’s insulting, lowest common denominator tone.

When people attack reality shows, they generally talk about the Duck Dynastys and Honey Boo Boos of the world. At least the point of those shows is purely to entertain. It asks the audience to look down on its subjects. At their worst, they’re shows based on embarrassment. At their best, their broad archetypal subjects and easy laughs turn them into the modern equivalent of a TGIF sitcom.

But a show like this has no best-case scenario. It exists purely to misinform and scare. Its creators, or more likely its network, assume that this is all the world wants. It will, I have no doubt, perform well. Maybe it’s silly to spend so much time dwelling on a piece of cheap, Friday night death slot filler. But it is not alone.

As I type this, the Science Channel is airing a show about a man who claims to have been healed by aliens. The Animal Planet is airing a show about killer fish. I hear it promises a message of conservation. So did Discovery’s special where a man planned to be eaten alive by a snake. So does Shark Week. It’s easy to throw in a “save the animals!” message after showing them as objects of terror for an hour. It’s easy to have your narrator say they’re just asking questions to justify your specials about aliens and ghosts.

I can watch Long Island Medium, a show following a woman who uses cold reading to prey on the desperate and grieving. If I want to watch a show about skepticism, I can hope Mythbusters airs a episode not about movie stunts. I can watch Dr. Oz, an actual doctor, pitch miracle cures. If I want to see a show about medicine that doesn’t sell pseudoscience, well, I’m out of luck. The Mysteries at the National Parks of the world didn’t just take over, they pushed out anything more intelligent.

There is, of course, no audience for intelligent shows about history or science. That’s why Cosmos failed. That’s why Planet Earth was swiftly forgotten. That’s why there’s no such thing as a popular historian. That’s why there’s no interest in astronauts like Chris Hadfield, and that’s why Carl Sagan died in obscurity.

Mysteries at the National Park peddles bizarre conspiracy theories and fear in place of curiosity. It squanders wonderful, interesting places. It’s made by people who think the most interesting thing about Gettysburg is a guy who says he time traveled with Barack Obama. There may be worse shows yet in 2015, but none this sad. Here there be monsters – and I’m not talking about chupacabra.

 

New Slides Reveal that Roswell Aliens Looked Suspiciously Like Museum Exhibits

Conspiracy theorists are assholes. They hijack press conferences to scream about false flags. They harass family members of murder victims to make them “admit” that their dead child was a paid actor. At their worst, they engage in right-wing terrorism against the government.

So that’s why my heart holds a soft spot for the quickly vanishing UFO community. They think the government is plotting against the people, yes. But what they imagine is that the government is concealing, not a plot to destroy America and steal everyone’s guns, but secrets from the stars. They imagine life on other planets, aliens that would love to contact us and share their secrets, if only the dastardly government would let them.

Sadly, conspiracy theorists no longer dream of visitors from other worlds. They no longer study blurry photos and videos for a sign, any sign, that humans are not alone. The militia movement of the 90s has taken over their movement and expanded on its worse qualities. And, to be fair, they also no longer commit mass suicide so that they will be taken onboard a comet.

Yesterday, new slides from the 1947 weather balloon crash at Roswell were revealed in Mexico City. They promised to be the “smoking gun” that would prove the existence of aliens.

Here is the image:

Ur3tSrS

Source: Reddit.

That’s…a mummy. In a museum. Even UFO sites realized this, and the reaction to it among UFO die-hards seems to be a resounding “meh”. It’s an obvious hoax.

Still, for some the hunt to find out the “truth” will continue until they find the evidence they dream of.

SCI-FI HAPPENS: How a viral ad from the year 2000 continues to confound truthers

SCIFIIn 1992, the Sci-Fi Channel launched, giving the world Farscape, the good Battlestar Galactica and an unhealthy amount of Stargate. A fallow period for TV science fiction caused them to rebrand themselves as the SyFy Network, home of wrestling and light fantasy shows about small towns with secrets. A boom in science fiction and fantasy brought on by the likes of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead passed them by, and the network is just now starting to re-enter the genre arena.

But during the dotcom days of 1999-2000, the Sci-Fi Network embarked on a kind of viral advertising campaign. While social media did not exist, they aired a series of mysterious, paranormal ads to get people talking about their network – and drive them to their website, tapping into the UFO craze of the 90’s to get clicks.

Most of the campaign has vanished down the memory hole, but this ad from the campaign implores you to send them any unexplainable footage:

Other ads in the campaign showed people with strange magnetic powers, and oddly behaving bugs. These are sadly lost, or at least they haven’t been uploaded to Youtube. The gist of the campaign was that normal footage would be altered with some plausible-looking supernatural element; Sci-Fi happens.

But one ad from the Sci-Fi Happens campaign became famous. One ad from this cable network’s primitive viral campaign is still hotly debated to this day. And once you see it, you’ll know why: (more…)

“The energy bolts give the necessary conditions for these other dimensional civilizations to be able to start experimenting with our universe and/or planet.”

This document is the alleged result of the actions of one or more scientists creating a covert, unauthorized notebook documenting their involvement with an Above Top Secret government program. Government publications and information obtained by the use of public tax monies cannot be subject to copyright. This document is released into the public domain for all citizens of the United States of America.”

“They have started to send probes here, in order to know more about the natural conditions or our universe and planet. The probes are limited to one specific semidome of energy, a circle, in a field where they have scanned the energy bolt…”

Lately, conspiracy theories have been depressing. A lot of bigotry and people eager to write off tragic incidents as “false flags”. What happened to the aliens-and-Area-51 conspiracy theorists of yore?

Well today I bring you all something truly magical: documents about life on other planets, supposedly from an official of some shadowy agency. It’s just one of many documents on a wonderful site I must explore in the future. (more…)