Friday, October 2, 2015

Still Out There

Thought for the day:  Do the aliens on the moon pull down their pants and 'earth' their friends for fun?  [Matthew Heines]

As promised, today we're gonna continue on with last week's post Outta This World  about hoaxes involving aliens and flying saucers. (Or are they hoaxes...?)

I've been convinced for a long time that the flying saucers are real and interplantary. In other words, we are being watched by beings from outer space. [Albert Chop, Deputy Director of NASA]

We all know that UFOs are real. All we need to ask is where do they come from. [astronaut Edgar Mitchell, 1971]

We all know that UFOs are real. Too many good men have seen them that don't have hallucinations. [Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker]

Until they come to see us from their planet, I wait patiently. I hear them saying: 'Don't call us, we'll call you.'  [Marlene Dietrich, 1962]

So where were we?  Ah yes, we just talked about the alleged landing of an alien spacecraft at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. Let's fast-forward to 1993, shall we?

That's the year Ray Santelli claimed to have original footage of an alien autopsy performed on one of the aliens who crash-landed in Roswell. Said he bought it from a retired military cameraman for a hundred thousand dollars. He then actioned off the rights to broadcast it. Highest bidder? FOX, which then showed it on TV in 1995. Eleven years later, it was shown to be a hoax. Although Santelli admitted that some scenes were shot in a London flat, using a body created by a sculptor, he also claimed he only did that because of the degradation of the original film. He said it was of such poor quality, he reproduced it. Still, he swore the original film was the real deal. Didn't stop him from producing a comedy film called Alien Autopsy, though.

"alien" on display in the GBI museum 
Now let's go back to 1953, when some Georgia police officers stopped to investigate a pickup truck sitting in the middle of the road. The truck's headlights were shining on what appeared to be an alien lying in the road... a  2 1/2 foot tall hairless humanoid with dark round eyes. The men claimed when they drove over the top of the hill, they saw a UFO and three aliens in the road. Although they tried to avoid them, they hit one of them. The other two took off in the spaceship, leaving a big scorch mark on the road in the process. The true story? Twenty-eight year old Ed Watters made a ten-dollar bet with his pals that he could get his name in the newspaper within the week. To do so, he purchased a capuchin monkey from the pet store... for fifty bucks. He killed that poor monkey, removed its hair with a depilatory, and chopped off its tail. The scorches in the road? The guys did it with a blow torch. It didn't take long for the authorities to identify the alien as a monkey, and Watters was charged with cruelty to animals, a charge he beat on a technicality. So he was fined forty bucks for highway obstruction. Yeah, all three of the guys got their names in the newspaper, and Watters won his ten bucks, but it cost him ninety. And he got so tired of being called the monkey man, he had to leave town. The monkey, however, stayed. It's still on display at the GBI museum. The cruel prank came to be known as the Great Monkey Hoax.


Okay, you're gonna have to work with me here. Imagine you see some mysterious red lights in that picture of the night sky, okay...?

On several occasions in 2009, mysterious red lights were seen in the sky above Morristown, New Jersey. Turned out to be five helium balloons attached to flares. Perpetrators Joe Rudy and Chris Russo confessed to launching the hoax to prove how unreliable eye-witness accounts of UFOs are. They may have proven their point, as police stations were flooded with telephone calls about the strange lights. However, the police were not amused, and the two pranksters were each slapped with $250 fines and fifty hours of community service.

There have been all kinds of hoaxes over the years, but many people believe Betty and Barney Hill were actually abducted by aliens in 1961. Evidently, the state of New Hampshire believes them. The state erected this plaque on the 50th anniversary of the event.

This is one of my favorite stories. It occurred in Bad Axe, Michigan in 1958, when motorists started reporting sightings of a little blue man. A glowing little blue man. Reports got more and more fantastic, ranging from claims that he was ten feet tall (not so little!) to him running faster than any human being to him coming out of nowhere and then suddenly disappearing. None of which, of course, was true. Once again, the hoax was pulled by a trio of men. The costume consisted of long underwear, gloves, combat boots, a sheet with eyeholes, and a football helmet with flashing lights... all spray-painted with glow-in-the-dark blue paint. Of the conspirators, Jerry Sprague, Don Weiss, and LeRoy Schultz, only one actually wore the bizarre outfit. Sprague, and that's because the long johns belonged to him... and he was the only one who could fit into them. None of these guys were charged with anything; they were simply released from custody with a warning. (But that's quite a mug shot, isn't it?)

The reason I like this last story, and the reason I saved it for last, is so I could end with a video of a 1958 song. Called... what else? The Little Blue Man. (Believe it or not, Smarticus used to sing the chorus of this song to me...)

The only thing that scares me more than space aliens is the idea that there aren't any space aliens. We can't be the best that creation has to offer. I pray we're not all there is. If so, we're in big trouble.  [Ellen DeGeneres]

How would it be if we discovered that aliens only stopped by earth to let their kids take a leak?  [Jay Leno]

                               Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Outta This World

Thought for the day:  I think that it is much more likely that the reports of flying saucers are the results of the known irrational characteristics of terrestrial intelligence than of the unknown rational efforts of extra-terrestrial intelligence.  [Richard Feynman]

So whattaya think? Are we... alone... in this universe, or are there other lifeforms out there somewhere... lifeforms who may have even paid our planet a visit upon occasion? It seems mathematically improbable that we humans are the only intelligent lifeforms in this endless universe. And yes, I do use the term intelligent rather loosely. I suspect that if we ever do make contact with other beings from outta this world, we're gonna get our comeuppance, and find out just how unintelligent we are.

Nonetheless, let's have a little fun by taking a look at some of the space alien hoaxes perpetrated over the years by some of our fellow earthlings, shall we?

As far back as April Fool's Day, 1897, pranksters have been trying to dupe the public into thinking they saw a gen-u-ine UFO. On that day in Omaha, Nebraska, a couple guys launched a helium balloon with a burning wicker basket beneath, and allegedly spooked quite a few people.

[Okay, ya got me. I'm sure it didn't look anything at all like the balloon in the picture.] 

A couple weeks later, three boys in Dallas, Texas, soaked a cotton ball in kerosene and tied it to the leg of a turkey vulture. Alas, the pranksters got caught when the bird landed on their school's roof, and started a fire. Poor bird probably cooked his own goose. So to speak.

In 1947, residents of Twin Falls, Idaho reported multiple sightings of a flying saucer. Then one agitated lady called the authorities, because she spotted the saucer embedded in her neighbor's yard, along with a long strip gouged in the dirt... obviously showing where the compact UFO (better gas mileage!) came in for a landing...

Or not.

Turned out to be the handiwork of four creative teenagers, who built their saucer with scraps: radio tubes, wires, an old phonograph, and discarded electrical parts. The boys said they were just having fun. Not their fault the town got so gosh-darned excited. Sheesh.

Also in 1947, in what was dubbed the Maury Island Incident, Harold Dahl claimed six flying doughnut-shaped discs flew over him when he was boating in the Puget Sound. He said one of those dastardly discs dared to spew molten metal, which killed his dog, and burned his son. Air Force investigators later ID'd the metal as scrap from a local factory, and Dahl admitted to the hoax. Said it was just a joke that got out of control. Let's hope he didn't kill his dog and burn his son to support his joke.


Then there's THE big event of 1947. You know, the alleged spaceship landing in Roswell, New Mexico, near the area now known as Area 51. Everyone agrees that there's some hush-hush deeply secretive stuff going on there at those Air Force grounds, but did a spaceship crash there in Nevada in 1947? Were live aliens captured? Was one autopsied? Ooooh, could they still be there today? According to some ufologists, three months after the alleged crash in Roswell, President Truman formed a highly secret group called MJ-12, (short for Majestic-12) whose soul purpose was to investigate and recover alien spacecraft. Some also attribute this 1950 quote to him: I can assure you that flying saucers, given that they exist, are not constructed by any power on earth. Did he actually form that group, and say those words? Beats me. But quite a few other presidents, world leaders, and military figures have spoken up on the side of flying saucers. Jimmy Carter even claims to have seen one.

Okay, I'm gonna stop right here, and finish up with this topic next week. In the meantime, did you have a favorite space toy or show about space travel when you were a kid? Anybody remember the 1954-55 TV show Flash Gordon? Let's just say special effects weren't all that outta this world in those days, because if I remember right, in some shots, you could actually see the string holding the rocket in the air. (And I'm not sure, but the sound of the flames coming out its rear might very well have been provided by some guy saying, "Shhhhhhhhhhhh.")  Even so, we watched it. And were amazed. And then there was the mighty Rocket Man, who worked hard to save the world in the '50s and early '60s. In this clip, you might hear a familiar voice. Would you believe... Leonard Nimoy?

Oh well, since we mentioned Leonard Nimoy, we've gotta give a nod to William Shatner, too, right? This clip is muuuuuch more recent; it's from 1978. He's kinda sorta singing. What else? Rocket Man, of course.

I was gonna stop there, but I decided to leave you with something... classy. Yeah, that's the ticket. I never saw the movie Rocket Man, but after seeing this clip, I wish I had. Looks like a real hoot. Or should I say... a blast?


I'm not gonna be outta this world, but I am gonna be outta my office until sometime next week, so I won't be responding to your comments right away. But as Schwartzeneggar said, I'll be Bach.                              

                                      Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, September 18, 2015

By Land, Water, and Air

Thought for the day:  For those of you who have never had the pleasure of owning a British car, but want to know what it's like: Next big rainstorm, wait until dark, roll down all the windows, leave off lights and heater and wipers and go for a drive. Stop at every intersection and throw out a twenty dollar bill. It's not exactly the same, but it's real close.  [Mike Nash]

a small sampling of some of the Morgans at the show
I've never owned a British-made car, but I must confess, quite a few of them  make me salivate a teensy bit. Like the 1953 MGTD (preferably a convertible... in green) and just about ANY of the Morgans. This past Saturday was our town's annual British Car Fayre, so there were plenty of snazzy Brit cars available for me to ogle to my heart's content.

For the first time, the car show was also accompanied by a boot sale, and the weather was perfect. Cooler than it's been for a while, and overcast. Kinda like Brit weather, eh? Since I've already posted plenty of pictures from some of the other British Car Fayres we've attended, I'll only share a few this time around. That way, I can save plenty of room for the OTHER spiffy event we attended that day.

1910 Silver Ghost (Rolls Royce)
Not sure, but I think there were even more cars at the show this year than in the past, and quite a few of them were Rolls Royces. This one from 1910 was probably my favorite, though. Talk about classy!

It was a tough choice, but I think this was my favorite Morgan. The Trikings (3-wheelers) are pretty cool, too, but THIS car is king.

an amphibious Lotus!
THIS car is where the water part of this post's title comes into play. It was made to look like the Lotus Esprit submarine from the 1977 James Bond flick The Spy Who Loved Me. But it doesn't just look like the car from the movie... it actually moves in the water! A designer from Wales made it, and it is now owned by a Georgia fella, who launched it in U.S. waters for the first time at our local Lake Lanier.

Okay, ready to head to our next destination? As you can probably guess, it involves airborne vehicles... some very special airborne vehicles.  Some real beauties.

You start with a bag full of luck and an empty bag of experience. The trick is to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of luck.  [WWII military pilot]

Along with the impressive array of planes on display, both on the ground and in the air, there were also a number of WWII veterans and re-enactors there, as well. This properly-garbed re-enactor is standing inside of a WWII field tent, which contains authentic items from that time.

 And this WWII vet is standing beside the same kind of plane he served on as a bombardier. It was an absolute delight and honor to speak with him.

And here's another vet, along with a re-enactor who did a dandy job impersonating General MacArthur. I don't know if you can tell in the photo, but the vet was wearing a bright red smooch mark on his cheek.

Of the WWII vets who were there, this was the only original Tuskeegee airman present. It was a real honor to talk with him, too. At the rate we're losing our WWII vets, it's important to listen to their stories and thank them now, while we can. Also present at the show were representatives from a group with the Atlanta Historical Society, who have already taped hundreds of WWII vets telling their stories, and hope to get as many more recordings as they can, thus saving those stories for posterity. A noble project, don't you think?

Now, a handful of pictures of some things that caught my fancy:

Since I started out with some British cars, I figured I'd include a plane flown by the RAF, too. This one, called a Bulldog, was built by Scottish Aviation. Not for WWII, though. This was flown by the RAF from 1974-2001.

A male pilot is a confused soul who talks about women when he's flying, and about flying when he's with a woman. 

A lot of the nosecone art on WWII planes features various pin-up girls. Here are some I found kinda cool. These particular images were on teeshirts.

I'm glad that quote up there about pilots specifies male pilots, because there were quite a few female pilots during WWII, too.

Here's a couple of them. Unfortunately, it's just a photo of a photo... I didn't see any female WWII vets at the airfield.

But WWII WASP humor was on display at a reenactor's tent.

We weren't sure if we'd have enough time to do both of these events justice in a single day. But with a positive attitude and lots of walking, we really COULD do it. And it was a lot of fun. I hope you enjoyed making the trip with us.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.