Archive for June, 2012

Live Story: Stephen Franken

June 29, 2012

Live Story: Stephen Franken

The Live Story series celebrates living people. We want them to know that they are appreciated.

For more than fifty years, Stephen (Steve, Steven) Franken has been one of those actors who is always interesting on screen. One of the first things I think about for Franken is his appearance in Westworld…even though it is only a few lines.

Whether it’s wearing a dog suit on Bewitched or playing a Cardinal in Angels & Demons, directors know: Franken improves what is on the page.

There is no question that Franken had his biggest pop cultural impact as Chatsworth Osborne, Jr., on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Years before Thurston Howell III, Chatsworth embodied what would later be called the 1%. I mean, being in the “Silver Spoon Club” wasn’t just a metaphor for Chatsworth Osborne…he was the president!

As strongly as Maynard G. Krebs on the same show established the image of the beatnik slacker (and who still has teenagers saying “like”), Stephen Franken’s interpretation became the model for snobby rich guys.

While Franken has commented on the expectations that set with casting directors, the actor has actually had a varied career.

How would you like to have these shows on your resume?

  • Dr. Kildare
  • Perry Mason
  • Petticoat Junction
  • McHale’s Navy
  • Please Don’t Eat the Daisies
  • The Patty Duke Show
  • My Three Sons
  • Mod Squad
  • Mary Tyler Moore
  • Barney Miller
  • Charlie’s Angels
  • CHiPs
  • Hill Street Blues
  • China Beach
  • ER
  • Seinfeld
  • Murphy Brown
  • The King of Queens

When we look at geek-friendly work, I would be everyone who reads this blog has seen many of these shows:

  • One Step Beyond
  • The Time Travelers (Ib Melchior wrote and directed)
  • My Favorite Martian
  • The Wild Wild West
  • Batman
  • Mission: Impossible
  • Panic in the City (with Dennis Hopper and John Hoyt)
  • Night Gallery
  • Bewitched (six different roles!)
  • Norman Corwin Presents (My take on Norma Corwin Presents)
  • The Stranger (TV movie with a parallel Earth)
  • Houston, We’ve Got a Problem (TV movie about Apollo 13)
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker
  • The Reincarnation of Peter Proud
  • Good Heavens (series with Carl Reiner as an angel)
  • Man from Atlantis
  • Ants (yes, killer ants…starring Robert Foxworth)
  • Terror Out of the Sky (killer bees)
  • Supertrain
  • The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu
  • The Ghosts of Buxley Hall (which ran on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color)
  • Curse of the Pink Panther
  • Fantasy Island
  • Automan
  • MacGyver
  • Small Wonder
  • Freddie’s Nightmares
  • Transylvania Twist (with Robert Vaughn)
  • Harry and the Hendersons
  • Human Target (Rick Springfield)
  • Batman: The Animated Series
  • The Pandora Project
  • Spawn
  • The Omega Code (Michael York and Michael Ironside)
  • Detention
  • Agent Red (Dolph Lundgren)
  • Static Shock
  • Crash Point Zero (Treat Williams in a plot involving Nikola Tesla)
  • Threshold (the Carla Gugino series)

With all of these, you might be surprised not to see Star Trek on the list…J.J. Abrams, you could make this happen. 🙂

As you can see, for decades, our geek pop culture wouldn’t have been the same without the versatility, commitment, and reliability of this actor.

Stephen Franken, thank you for all that you have done.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle

Nora Ephron reported dead

June 27, 2012

Nora Ephron reported dead

Nora Ephron was that rare thing in today’s world: a wit.

It was always a pleasure to see her interviewed…never neutral, and yet, not abrasive.

She is most associated with rom cams, but out of the eight movies she directed, two of them were fantasies:

Michael starred John Travolta as an earthy Angel, and the meta-version of Bewitched, starred Nicole Kidman.

We can honestly say that those won’t be held up as her greatest works (those would be Sleepless in Seattle, and When Harry Met Sally…), but we mourn the loss of a truly American voice.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Flying saucers turn 65

June 24, 2012

Flying saucers turn 65

June 24, 1947: pilot Kenneth Arnold reports seeing nine objects flying near Mt. Rainier in the State of Washington. Within a few days, the term “flying saucer” is being used in the press.

Arnold’s sighting certainly wasn’t the first one to report strange, apparently manufactured things in the sky. Those go back centuries. Among the previous terms used were vimana, chariots, airships, and foo fighters.

Later, the term UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) became more commonly used, while others (such as UAP…Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon) did not.

“Flying saucer” suggests something specific: a manufactured craft, shaped like a disc.

“UFO” was intended to be more general. It included objects of various shapes (such as the “cigar-shaped” “mother ships” that were being reported). A UFO might eventually be identified as something normal that had been seen under unusual circumstances…it might become an “IFO” (Identified Flying Object).

However, UFO still made two important presumptions: the object was flying (moving through the air under its own power); and it was a physical thing, an object.

A glare of light on a cloud might be mistaken for a flying saucer, but it was neither an object nor exactly flying.

“Unidentified aerial phenomenon” is sufficiently non-specific…but not much fun, really. 🙂

Nowadays, you won’t see “flying saucer” used much to refer to a current sighting:

Google flying saucer news search

Compare that to the use of UFO:

Google UFO news search

Still, there is something so evocative and easily understood about “flying saucer’. I suspect that if you asked anybody you met today what it was, they would almost all know.

Not bad for sixty-five years after…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Richard Lynch reported dead

June 21, 2012

Richard Lynch reported dead

“I’m going to beat it,” he told himself. “I’m going to beat it all the way.”
–Richard Lynch

Battlestar Galactica, The Bionic Woman, Highlander…Richard Lynch brought a cool power to many villainous roles on TV and in the movies.

For almost four decades, the actor was a reliable presence. in 2007, Lynch played the President of the United States in Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy. Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween gave Lynch a high profile performance as Principal Chambers.

All of this screen work came after Lynch set himself on fire in New York’s Central Park.

The Times Daily article

The incident left Lynch with scars on his face, and the strength to show them.

Good-bye, Richard Lynch…thank you for using the lessons you learned to teach us, and entertain us at the same time.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Susan Tyrrell reported dead

June 19, 2012

Susan Tyrrell reported dead

Big Top Pee-wee! Forbidden Zone! Cry-Baby!

You don’t get much geek friendlier than Susan Tyrrell.

Despite being nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Fat City, there’s no guarantee the Academy will include Susan Tyrrell in their In Memoriam for 2012.

For readers of this blog, though, there will be no forgetting the larger than life, define the universe on your own terms Tyrrell.

Here’s just a sampling of unique performances:

  • Although uncredited (by choice), Tyrrell nominated Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards
  • She co-starred with Carroll Baker in Bad
  • Ben Gazzara was her co-star in Tales of Ordinary Madness
  • Susan was the Queen of the Sixth Dimension in Forbidden Zone, based on the work of Oingo Boingo (a sequel is in the works)
  • She played Solly Mosler in both Angel and Avenging Angel
  • Paul Verhoeven directed Rutger Hauer, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Susan Tyrrell in Flesh+Blood
  • John Cusack, Tim Robbins…and Susan Tyrrell in Tapeheads
  • Pee-wee Herman encountered Susan as the tiny Midge Montana in Big Top Pee-wee
  • John Waters directed Johnny Depp…and Susan Tyrrell (as Ramona Rickettes) in Cry-Baby
  • Her voicework included Cow and Chicken and Extreme Ghostbusters

I could keep going. Suffice it to say that your Susan Tyrrell number may have a lot more to do with how interesting you are than your Kevin Bacon number (mine happen to be the same…three for both. I was on Strange Universe with Emmett Miller who was in Wag the Dog with Jay Leno who was in What’s Up, Hideous Sun Demon with Susan Tyrrell…thanks, Oracle of Bacon).

Even after she lost both legs to a rare blood disease, she continued to work.

Good-bye, Susan Tyrrell…the world is a lot more ordinary without you.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

On the Robot Beat #1

June 17, 2012

On the Robot Beat #1

A robot is something created by humans (directly or indirectly) that performs tasks (autonomously or not) done by humans (or, more broadly, by other animals…a robot dog, for example, would perform work done by living dogs, including providing companionship). 

The word may conjure up an image of a mechanical man, perhaps clunky and made of metal. The way we use the term at The Measured Circle, it would include software performing human tasks, and non-anthropomorphic devices like an answering machine or a calculator.

On the Robot Beat will present news about our creations that are, even in small ways, replacing us.

Who’s watching you?

Surveillance cameras.

They’re everywhere.

If you are in a public place, there is a pretty good chance that you are on camera.

Have you ever thought about, though, what is happening on the other end of that camera?

Obviously, the video goes somewhere. It might be recorded, or it might not.

It doesn’t do any good if no one looks at it, right?

Well, in many cases nobody does…unless somebody already knows a crime was committed there, and then they pull up that section of video.

Why not?

For one thing, it’s expensive to hire somebody (or a bunch of somebodies) to watch 24-hours of video a day.

For another, people just aren’t that good at doing the same thing for hours. Can you imagine watching surveillance video for eight hours straight…or four…or even two? There’s a reason why YouTube used to limit the length to ten minutes. 😉

Well, BRS Labs has a solution.

It’s an artificial intelligence system (utilizing a neural net) that watches an area and decides what behaviors are normal (on its own). Then,  when it sees something it thinks is sufficiently abnormal, it notifies a human being for further analysis.

I know what some of you are thinking…”Yeah, right.” 🙂

It sounds like a joke site on the internet…maybe some viral ad campaign for a game.

The City of San Francisco doesn’t think so.

They recently bought Behavioral Recognition Systems Labs AISight system for their public transit (including Muni):

Huffington Post article

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and there definitely has been some controversy here. Ronn Owens, one of our nationally-renowned local talk show hosts on KGO, did an hour on it.

One angle for people has been comparing it to Minority Report. They think that this is going to get you arrested before you commit a crime.

Not at all. The system doesn’t arrest you.

It does exactly what you want a security guard to do.

It looks for something unusual. It gets it investigated. Maybe it means something, maybe it doesn’t.

Let’s say somebody walks onto a train platform with four bowling ball bags. Maybe that’s okay…but isn’t it worth having somebody check it out?

For me, I have no problem with this concept. i think it’s really clever to have the system learn what’s normal, rather than telling it what to look for. Assuming that this works (and the company presents some interesting evidence that it does…the system recognizing that somebody going around a metal detector was worth bumping up to a human evaluator), I’m fine with it.

I did think their promotional video was weird:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeLo1YgyAg8

They shoot it with all of this strange buzzy video, sort of like Max Headroom…it feels creepy, like something out of Demon Seed.

If it were me, I would have put a 75-year old behind a desk with a Rolodex on it. 😉

First robot gets a driver’s license in Nevada

I’ve written before about the Google car, an autonomous driving system…yep, a car that drives itself.

I’ve actually seen one on the road around here. I didn’t know what it was at the time…they hadn’t announced it.

Now, in a big step forward for robotkind, the State of Nevada has granted a driver’s license to a Google car:

Reuters article

You will eventually have a robot doing at least part of your driving for you…and you may already have it. Cruise control? Robot. Self-parking car? Robot. You may already have a car that has a back-up collision avoidance system.

Cadillac has its “super cruise control”, which adds autonomous driving elements, but only in very specific circumstances:

Autoblog article

Yes, there are people who hate the idea of not driving their own cars, but I’m really looking forward to being able to tell my car where to take me, and kicking back and reading for the trip.

The shot heard round the robot world?

When I saw this video of a man shooting an unpiloted traffic enforcement vehicle, it just looked to me like what would become the eventual rallying cry in the robot revolution:

Policeone article

If you haven’t seen it, take a look. This guy who sort of looks like Will Geer (Grandfather on The Waltons), wearing a nightgown, opens fire on this poor defenseless robocar member of the police force.

What do you think? Does the idea of a robot deciding that what you are doing is abnormal enough to call a cop seem creepy to you? Would you want a self-driving car? Are intelligent systems already passing around the video of the human assaulting the robocar? 😉

Feel free to let me know by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Madagascar 3 beats Prometheus…The Hunger Games passes $400m dogro

June 10, 2012

Madagascar 3 beats Prometheus…The Hunger Games passes $400m dogro

I don’t usually post on preliminary results, but I have been waiting for The Hunger Games to become the thirteenth movie of all time to dogro (domestic gross) more than $400 million.

That makes 2012 the first year in which at least two movies have broken that barrier.

The Avengers continues to close on Titanic, and may catch it. The superhero team-up made about $10m domestically this weekend, and is about $30 behind James Cameron’s second biggest box office movie (not counting the 3D re-release).

This year continues to look very, very good, with many big box office contenders yet to be released.

I’ll update 2012 Movie Box Office: 40, 80, 1, 2 , 3 in a couple of days, when the figures are more solid.

The other reason I wanted to post was the interesting battle this weekend between Prometheus, a movie by a three-time Oscar nominated director with great geek cred, and Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, a cartoon with a zebra in a rainbow afro. 😉

The winner?

Yadadadadadada circus!

Yep, it looks like Madagascar 3 is going to beat Prometheus by about ten million dollars domestically.

However, don’t assume that automatically means that every movie you see from now on will have an ungulate in a fright wig. 😉 The budgets for the two movies were probably pretty close.

Yes, a family picture is likely to have better legs…no, no, not four legs, but to have a longer, stronger run at the box office.

Regardless, the rest of the year is going to be a wild high-speed ride!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

“Years ago, my mother used to say to me…”

June 5, 2012

“Years ago, my mother used to say to me, she’d say, ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be’ – she always called me Elwood – ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’  Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.”
–Elwood P. Dowd (played by Jimmy Stewart)
Harvey
screenplay by Mary Chase and Oscar Brodney
based on Chase’s play

I’ve been working, from time to time, on a book of quotations for many years.  I call it, “The Mind Boggles”, from one of my favorite quotations.  I do source quotations a bit differently from a lot of people.  In the case of a work of a fiction, I consider that the character said the line…not the author.  As a bit of an author myself (in a minor way), I can tell you…my characters definitely say things that I would never say.  These are all quotations that I’ve collected myself: I’ve read the book, seen the TV episode, and so on.

Hope you enjoy them!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Richard Dawson reported dead

June 3, 2012

Richard Dawson reported dead

” Ben, don’t you understand? Americans love television. They wean their kids on it. Listen. They love game shows, they love wrestling, they love sports and violence. So what do we do? We give ’em *what they want*! We’re number one, Ben, that’s all that counts, believe me.”
–Damon Killian (Richard Dawson)
The Running Man
screenplay by Steven E. de Souza
based on The Running Man by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman)

Richard Dawson‘s brilliant turn as the ultimate game show host in The Running Man cemented the actor’s geek status.

Dawson’s long-running beloved gig as the host of The Family Feud informed the   performance for the audience, but this was no mere self-mockery.

Of course, many of us also remember Richard Dawson as Newkirk on Hogan’s Heroes.

Dawson had this odd quality…cynical and fun at the same time. That was clear in his regular appearances on The Match Game: while his work could be described as mischievous, there was also always a sense of being judgmental. That worked, though: Richard Dawson wasn’t judging me as an individual, but had a meta sense of how ridiculous it all was.

Other geek roles include an episode of the original The Outer Limits, Fantasy Island, Mr. Terrific, and the feature Munster, Go Home.

Good-bye, Richard Dawson! The world is a little more oblivious (and not as much fun) without you.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

My take on…Men in Black III

June 2, 2012

My take on…Men in Black III

MIB III Official Site

MIB III at IMDb

MIB III at MRQE

The Men in Black are back!

It’s been ten years since the second movie and fifteen years since the first*…so, the obvious question is, was it worth reviving the series?

The answer is yes.

Men in Black III is worth seeing. Screenwriter Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder), and original MIB director Barry Sonnenfeld have created a worthy successor.

Rick Baker’s physical alien makeup designs, along with the CGI, can still surprise you with their whimsy and cleverness.

Josh Brolin, as a younger Agent K, is no mere imitation of Tommy Lee Jones…while his performance is spot on, it is, if anything, more nuanced than the original: no mean feat.

Does that make it the best of the MIBs, as I had someone ask me?

Not for me. The original had the real advantage of discovery of a novel concept, and that just can’t be matched. However, the latest movie both honors the previous entries (there is a nice little shout out to Frank the pug, for example), but stands as a story in its own right.

One of the surprising weaknesses for both my Significant Other and me was Will Smith. We are both fans, but we both said the same thing…it felt like his timing was off. My SO tried to argue that perhaps Smith was playing Agent J after ten years as an MIB: still trying to be jokey, but being weighed down by all the death and destruction. Maybe…I think that might be a generous interpretation, particularly because the script didn’t seem to reflect it. To be clear, Smith wasn’t bad…I just didn’t feel that same magic.

 Bringing new magic was Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Stuhlbarg, with a truly charming and simultaneously melancholy performance.

I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t say much about the script. My favorite line, though, was wisely used as a throwaway by director Sonnenfeld, and felt particularly Sonnenfeld-esque. It’s in a scene with Will Smith and a small child…I’m not sure most people in the theatre even got it. It was subtle and subversive, without being mean at all. It made you think about something important, without stepping aside to make the point. Kudos to Cohen and Sonnenfeld for that small bit of business.

Overall, I’d recommend the movie, even though it probably won’t be the best movie you see this year. Not everything needs to be, to be enjoyable.

* There was also an animated series from 1997 to 2001.

Bonus: here’s an article I published nearly 15 years ago, before I had seen the first movie…

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Who are the Men-in-Black?
Bufo Calvin

July 2, 1997

Who are the Men-in-Black?

The movie opening this week is based indirectly on a sub-plot of the UFO story. At its most basic, it concerns mystery men who visit UFO witnesses and investigators and advise silence.

The variations are many, as are the theories. Often noted is their immaculate dark clothing, and new appearing cars. More ominous, though, are details that suggest something other-worldly about these intimidators. Perhaps the brand-new car they drive is a model many years old. Maybe they step outside the door and vanish when there is nowhere to go. Sometimes they show unfamiliarity with common objects, like ball-point pens, or the MIB who tried to drink Jell-O. Maybe they’ll make a coin vanish or perform some other apparently magical feat. In the most extreme cases, they do not even appear to be human!

The legend really began (although there were precedents in other paranormal fields) with the publication of THEY KNEW TOO MUCH ABOUT FLYING SAUCERS in 1956. Gray Barker, a movie-booker and flying saucer investigator, penned this volume. While it covered such things as the “Flatwoods Monster” and a possible shifting of the Earth’s axis, the bulk of it was devoted to the “Bender Mystery”. Albert Bender had founded the International Flying Saucer Bureau in 1952. It became quite successful, and then Bender got out of the “saucer business”, claiming to have been visited by three men who influenced him to do so. Barker found it all quite mysterious, and gave it a great build-up. This is how he sets it up in the book:

“Three men in black suits with threatening expressions on their faces. Three men who walk in on you and make certain demands.

Three men who know that =you= know what the saucers really are!

They don’t want you to tell anyone else what you know.”

THEY KNEW TOO MUCH ABOUT FLYING SAUCERS (page 92) by Gray Barker, 1956

These original Men-in-Black are certainly nefarious, threatening, and seem to have an unusual knowledge. However, they are not portrayed as supernatural or non-human. In fact, Barker ties them in with a man in a black suit who was allegedly involved in the Maury Island Affair. This series of events, now widely (but not universally) considered a hoax, involved Kenneth Arnold, the pilot whose sighting on June 24th 1947, started the modern interest in “flying saucers”. He went Tacoma to investigate a report of a flying saucer in trouble having spewed out some sort of material. One of the witnesses, Harold Dahl, told Arnold that the morning after his encounter, he was visited by a man in a black suit who invited him out to breakfast. At the restaurant, the MIB proceeded to describe everything that had happened the day before. The shocking part was that no one had reported it anywhere yet!

It seemed that the man might have somehow been involved in the event. The stranger then warned Dahl not to talk about it, and threatened him and his family.

Thus established, the “Bender Mystery” had enough steam to last until 1962, when Bender’s own book about it, FLYING SAUCERS AND THE THREE MEN, was released. As described here, they were definitely not human. This is how their first clear appearance is described:

“The room seemed to grow dark, yet I could still see. I noted three shadowy figures in the room. They floated about a foot off the floor. My temples throbbed and my body grew light. I had the feeling of being washed clean. The three figures became clearer. All of them were dressed in black clothes.

They looked like clergymen, but wore hats similar to Homburg style. The faces were not clearly discernible, for the hats partly hid and shaded them. Feelings of fear left me, as if some peculiar remedy had made my entire body immune to fright.

The eyes of all three figures suddenly lit up like flashlight bulbs, and all these were focused upon me. They seemed to burn into my very soul as the pains above my eyes became almost unbearable. ”

FLYING SAUCERS AND THE THREE MEN (page 90) by Albert Bender, 1962

He also gives us a clearer description when they appear to him in a more physical form:

“Their clothing was made of a black material which reminded me of cloth used in the attire of clergymen. It was well pressed, appeared almost new. All the other apparel, such as ties, shirt, stockings, and shoes was also black.

Their faces were unpleasant to look at. Their eyes shone like tiny flashlight bulbls, and the teeth were pearly white, set in a very dark complexion. I could not see their hands, covered by black gloves. A bluish radiance enveloped their entire bodies, and I wondered if this was giving off the sulphuric odor.”

FLYING SAUCERS AND THE THREE MEN (page 106) by Albert Bender, 1962

At the time, Bender’s tales of lights in his room, out-of-body-experiences, underground bases, and telepathic communication were so wild that it was suggested the book (published by Barker’s own Saucerian Books, with an introduction and annotation by Barker) was a put-up job to throw saucer researchers off the track and make them look crazy. However, in the context of today’s reported alien abductions, it doesn’t sound as strange. In fact, there are several clear correspondences.

For the next twenty years, until 1983, Gray Barker continued to put out books trumpeting the MIBs. One such title was M.I.B.: THE SECRET TERROR AMONG US (New Age Books, 1983)

Other authors have also contributed considerably to the Men-in-Black mythos.

Timothy Green Beckley, who is known for reporting the more sensational stories, started covering the subject in 1962. In about 1970, he put out MEN IN BLACK: THE EXPANDING CASE FOR ALIENS AMONG US (Kitchener). In this book, he claimed that MIB reports went back to the great nineteenth century airship crazes. 1979 saw the release of his similarly titled MIB: ALIENS AMONG US (Global Communications). In the simply titled UFO by Milt Machlin, which was written with Beckley (Quick Fox, 1981), there are several pages on the MIB. The authors describe several types, including this:

“Another type of MIB, now common throught the United States, is represented by men who travel in pairs. The same description is always given. One is tall, blond (usually witha crew cut), with a fair complexion, and seems to be Scandinavian. His companion is shorter, with angular features and an aolive complexion. The blond usually does most of the talking while the other remains in the background. There seem to be several identical pairs of these individuals operating simultaneously in various parts of the country.”

UFO (page 82), by Milt Machlin with Tim Beckley (1981)

The connection of MIBs with the occult was stressed in Ramona Clark’s 1970 volume (also by Kitchener), THE TRUTH ABOUT MEN IN BLACK. The same year, Kitchener released two more MIB titles by Kurt Glemser, THE MEN IN BLACK, and MEN IN BLACK: STARTLING NEW EVIDENCE (by Clark and Glemser together). They followed up in 1973 with THE MEN IN BLACK REPORT by Glemser.

John A. Keel is an amazing on-the-scene investigator and author. Even though he’s “been there, done that” on many “fortean” topics, he still comes across as a pragmatic journalist. Several of his books have been highly influential in shaping the beliefs of those in the “UFO community”. One of the reasons for this is his implication that he is only giving some examples of stories from the many people who have contacted him, leaving many untold. This has given added weight to what he does say. In his book UFOS – OPERATION TROJAN HORSE (Putnam, 1970…also known as WHY UFOS), he has this to say:

“Mrs. Butler’s story may sound bizarre, but I have heard the same things too many times in too many different places to dismiss them lightly. In case after case, I have heard about strange men who paid pointless visits and sometimes posed as Air Force officers. The descriptions are always the same – – short of stature, dark olive skins, sharp pointed features. And most of these scattered witnesses specifically noticed that these men were dressed in clothes that seemed =brand-new=. Even the soles of their shoes appeared to be unwalked on. If they have occassion to pull out a wallet or notebook, that also is brand-new. (Most men, even Air Force officers, carry beat up old wallets.) I have carefully kept many of these small details to myself and have never published them or discussed them. They provide a yardstick by which I can measure the validity of new stories.”

WHY UFOS (page 173), by John A. Keel (1970)

Keel’s 1975 book THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, is a great book regardless of your beliefs. Much of it focusses on the MIBs. They are definitely not simply agents of the government in this one. These excerpts from the Christiansen family’s meeting with one will attest to that. They had just moved into a new home, and had not yet been published in the phone book. A visitor came to the door, asked for Edward Christiansen by name. The huge man, at least six foot six (two meters) tall, and very broad-shouldered, said he was from “…the Missing Heirs Bureau”:

“…an unusual head, large and round while his face seemed angular, pointed…his eyes were large, protruding, like `thyroid eyes,’ and set wide apart. One eye appeared to have a cast, like a glass eye, and did not move in unison with its companion…When he sat down they could see a long thick green wire attached to the inside of his leg. It came up out of his socks and disappeared under his trousers. At one point it seemed to be indented into his leg and was covered by a large brown spot…The Christiansens said their visitor had an unusual pallor. They assumed he was sick. His voice was also strange, with a high `tinny’ voice…he spoke in clipped words and phrases, `like a computer.’ Connie said he sounded as if he were reciting everything from memory.”

THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES (pages 76-78) by John A. Keel (1975)

There are many other authors who should be mentioned: folklorist Berthold Schwarz brought us a great case in FLYING SAUCER REVIEW; Alan Greenfield, who pointed out the occult historical connection; Brad Steiger; and many others.

I apologize to those I didn’t cover.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. Who Are the Men-in-Black originally appeared in Bufo’s Weird World in 1997.


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