Archive for the ‘Bufo's Weird World’ Category

Kenneth Arnold, Flying Saucer Man

June 24, 2017

Kenneth Arnold, Flying Saucer Man

(sung to the tune of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)

It was many years* ago today
Kenneth Arnold taught the world to say
“There’s a flying saucer in the air”
And it gave the people quite a scare
Now here’s another term you know
Today we just say U.F.O

Kenneth Arnold, Flying Saucer Ma-an!

What’s in the sky,
Lighted up, flying by?
Could it be a real alien craft?
Perhaps it’s a star or lights from a car
Or maybe I’m just going daft…

Oh, it’s giving me the ontological bends
Oh, I hate it when a paradigm ends

Could it beeee a delusion?
I just know there’s something there
Or an optical illusion?
I’m getting to the point I don’t care

Oh, this is one of those long-lasting trends
Mm, I don’t know just what message it sends
Message it sennnnnds!


* I think I first published this in 1994…a version I found said, “It was was forty-seven years ago…” I’ve updated it for today, the 70th anniversary of the Kenneth Arnold sighting that established the term “flying saucer” by changing it to “many years”, which will enable me to keep using it for future anniversaries. ūüôā

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When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

Finding Bigfoot Festival in Willow Creek on Saturday: a watershed moment

April 29, 2017

Finding Bigfoot Festival in Willow Creek on Saturday: a watershed moment

Today, Saturday (4/29), there is a Bigfoot festival in Willow Creek, California.

That, in and of itself, isn’t new.

http://www.seecalifornia.com/festivals/big-foot-days-festival.html

After all, Willow Creek can be considered the Bigfoot capital of the world, and has been the epicenter (how Californian!) since the beginning of the modern era (back in 1958). About 25 miles (40 km) away is Bluff Creek, where the famous 1967 (making this the 50th anniversary year)¬†Patterson-Gimlin movie, the one you’ve probably seen (where a Bigfoot walks away from the camera, swinging its ((widely believed to be her)) arms, and looking back) was filmed.

Today’s event, though, feels to me like it is going to be seen as a turning point…a marker along the road where Bigfoot crossed in front of your car.

My intuition is that it is going to be a great time, and that it will be two eras of Bigfooting coming together in siblingship.

From the early days (note that I’m talking about Bigfoot…a lot of you know that there were reports of hairy bipeds in North America for a very long time before the popularization of the term Bigfoot based on Jerry Crew’s October 1958 reports), Bob Gimlin will be there and they’ll show the movie. Also in Willow Creek will be Loren Coleman (@cryptoloren), the world’s leading cryptozoologist and Director of the International Cryptozoology Museum.

For the modern era (which is not to say that Loren Coleman hasn’t been very much a part of today’s Bigfooting), the cast of Animal Planet’s¬†Finding Bigfoot will be there…and are filming a special episode. It has been reported that this is the series finale for the popular show. Many people have enjoyed Finding Bigfoot for years, even if they weren’t Bigfoot “believers”. Animal Planet is even a sponsor of the event this year.

So, this event brings together the legacy and the present of Bigfooting. They are going to have fun events, including a Bigfoot calling contest. I’m sure I would do well in a contest like that: anybody who has been within a few sections of me at a San Francisco Giants game can attest to my ability to do loud, sustained, controlled, calls. ūüėČ It’s going to be very family friendly.

Past, present…what about the future?

That’s hard to say. It would surprise me if the Finding Bigfoot cast didn’t continue to be connecting with the community of Bigfooters in some way for many years. However, the idea of anyone doing a non-fiction TV series is becoming less tenable, as content consumption becomes increasingly personal. It will be possible to sustain an investigation into something with a rotating audience of 100 people, rather than needing a million to all watch at the same time. This isn’t really the right article for that speculation, though. ūüôā

I seriously debated going today…the issue is that, even though I am in Northern California and so is this event, it would be about a six hour drive…one way. If I had been aware of it months ago, I might have taken days off work around it, so we could bring our dogs and make a trip of it. The Bigfoot Motel (which does say it has dog friendly rooms) is probably booked, so even if we did want to go today and stay overnight, it might be difficult. The event is free, by the way, and includes crowd events, like a parade. It’s just too far to go for twelve hours of driving (I could fly to Maine, where Loren’s museum is, in about the same amount of time).

I wish everybody there a wonderful time! I do think this will be a sort of “Woodstock” of Bigfooting, in the sense that people will talk about having been there decades later. I sincerely hope that Loren Coleman and Bob Gimlin continue to be able to attend future events and be involved for years themselves: I’m not suggesting that this is a farewell appearance, just that it is a coming together in what may be a unique way as the tide turns.

While I can’t be there, I am running an Amazon Giveaway for one of Loren Coleman’s books right now:

Cryptozoology A To Z: The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature by Loren Coleman (at AmazonSmile*)

Note: this is the paperback. For some reason, I couldn’t make the Kindle book for this one public (like I could with some of my other giveaways). I really wanted this one to be public, because the whole goal is to promote Loren Coleman’s medical expense fund GoFundMe campaign. I’ve never met Loren personally, and we have no shared business interests, although we have had some correspondence. I’ve read Loren’s books for decades, and admire how the cryptozoologist/Fortean helps others, including being the Director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Maine (although in so many smaller ways, too). It’s sad to me that someone who has done so much is having trouble dealing with medical expense (due to multiple operations). That doesn’t stop Loren from going to the Bigfoot festival in Willow Creek, California today, but for people who have enjoyed and benefited from Loren’s work, the medical expenses fund is an opportunity to do a thank you. Literally over 300 people entered in about a day (the number now is well over 400), and they’ve all tweeted (as a requirement to entry) a link to the fund’s page. I do not ask people to endorse the fund or to ask other people to contribute (or for them to contribute themselves)…I’m just hoping to raise the profile so people who might want to contribute and don’t know about it get the word.

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
  • Requirements for participation:
    • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
    • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
    • Tweet a message

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/303e4f5c496116a2

Start:Apr 27, 2017 9:45 AM PDT
End:May 4, 2017 11:59 PM PDT
While I have contributed myself, this seemed like a good way to help. Hopefully, there may also be a way to donate at the Finding Bigfoot Festival, although Loren himself has been low key about this…another thing I admire about him.
Have fun, everybody!

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

My other current Amazon Giveaway:

LAST DAY TO ENTER

I recently concluded a giveaway for

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

by my sibling, Kris Calvin

and there were ten winners. I’m doing a new one for the same book:

1 winner

Requirements for participation:

  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Kris Calvin on Amazon (you‚Äôll be notified when future books are added to Amazon‚ĶI think that‚Äôs the only contact you get, although I‚Äôm not positive)

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/c2fb235f3cf97ced 

Start:Apr 24, 2017 6:06 AM PDT
End:Apr 29, 2017 11:59 PM PD

2017…destined to be weird?

January 8, 2017

2017…destined to be weird?

Is there something weird about years which end in 7?

I mean really weird…Bigfoot, flying saucer kind of weird. ūüėČ

Weird things are reported every year, but for crashing into the public consciousness, it’s hard to beat years which end in seven.

1817…the Gloucester Sea Serpent…and a sea serpent necropsy!

Sea serpents had been seen in the area before, but 1817 was a major flap off Massachusetts. The Linnean Society examined a supposed baby specimen and gave it a scientific name: Scoliophis atlanticus. That identification has been disputed

1897…mystery airships from space!

While¬†the mystery airship wave really started in late 1896, it’s in 1897 that we start to see them interpreted as alien spacecraft (before that, “mystery inventor” was one of the popular theories. In April, it’s reported that an occupant¬†dies and is buried in Aurora, Texas. A newspaper also reports a calf being lassoed from a UFO

1947…the dawn of the “Flying Saucer Age”

Unexplained flying lights and vehicles (including foo fighters and ghost rockets) had been reported before, but on June 24th 1947, Kenneth Arnold described the movement of odd-shaped flying objects he’d seen as being like a saucer would make if you skipped it over water…which then became the term “flying saucer”. Many sightings happened in the following weeks…and what now be the most famous case, the Roswell Incident, occurred in July of that year

1957…UFO car stops!

Within a month of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik launch, a major UFO “flap” happened in Levelland, Texas. The “evidence acceleration” here was “car stops”…vehicles stopping working when a UFO is near, and sometimes spontaneously working afterwards. Investigators of this multiple-independent-witness case, included the Air Force’s Project Blue Book. In this nationally publicized case, everybody seemed to agree that something happened, but the Air Force and others suggested it was natural atmospheric phenomena (such as ball lightning). Car stops were reported in later UFO cases.

1967…Bigfoot filmed!

The term “Bigfoot” was popularized in 1958, but the game clearly changed when a Bigfoot was reportedly filmed on October 20, 1997. That widely-publicized and seen footage of a Bigfoot looking back over its (generally believed to be “her”) shoulder has been parodied many times, and is still the image many people have of Bigfoot. Also, on May 19th, Stefan Michalak has burns which he claims are from a UFO

1977…the Dover Demon!

In Massachusetts in April, a strange, small humanoid is encountered. Famed cryptozoologist Loren Coleman names it the “Dover Demon”

1987: Gulf Breeze!

Unusually clear UFO photographs are in the news, reportedly taken by Ed Walters. There is a lot of investigation in this case (particularly since it was supposedly an ongoing phenomenon), coming to different conclusions

1997…Phoenix Lights!

In March, lights in the sky and structured craft are reportedly seen in several states by thousands of people…and filmed. Even the Governor of Arizona, Fife Symington, is a witness, although initially making fun of the idea of an extraterrestrial origin

2007…Space Shuttle footage!

On August 6th, a space shuttle films what some believe is a UFO

2017…???

This sampling of many weird events from years which end in seven suggest that we may have something that happens this year that is particularly memorable, and perhaps either unprecedented or on a new scale (of impact, or of the quality of evidence).

What do you think? What did I leave off the list? Can as good an argument be made for other year-ending numbers? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you‚Äôll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)‚Ķand the good feeling you‚Äôll get. :) Shop ‚Äôtil you help! :) By the way, it‚Äôs been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to ‚Äústart at AmazonSmile‚ÄĚ if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Loren Coleman needs our help

November 24, 2016

Loren Coleman needs our help

It isn’t easy to ask for help.

It can especially be hard when you are known as someone who helps others.

Loren Coleman, the world’s leading cryptozoologist, founder of the

International Cryptozoology Museum

did not contact me personally about his current medical expenses.

He could have: we’ve never met, but we’ve had some correspondence over the years. I always remember decades ago when I started using the term “Weird World”, and Loren contacted me to let me know he had already used it…and to magnanimously tell me I was free to use it. There wasn’t any real public awareness of me at the time; there wasn’t any need for this well-known author and investigator to simply clear that issue for me. It was done out of generosity. I have always used the term “Bufo’s Weird World” since to separate it, but I have always been grateful.

I’m by no means the only person that Loren Coleman has touched in that way.

It’s common to see pictures of visitors to the museum or at other events in smiling pictures with Loren Coleman.

That’s happened during the past few years, despite medical issues.

This is an author and his fans…and a significant author. While I first read Loren Coleman in the paperback editions of The Unidentified and Creatures of the Outer Edge in the mid 1970s (40 years ago), he has continued to be very active to this day, posting on social media, appearing on television documentaries, writing, and running the museum. You can get Loren’s books through Amazon here:

Loren Coleman’s Amazon Author Central page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping* (the International Cryptozoology Museum is my current beneficiary))

It might surprise you, then, to know that Loren has had to ask for help with medical expenses. You can donate here:

Loren’s Medical Fund

If you can’t give anything, you can promote the campaign from there as well.

This is the man who coined the term “The Dover Demon”, who wrote about “Creepy Clowns” a generation before the current interest, intrigued us with “Phantom Kangaroo” reports and the Fortean “Name¬†Game”,¬†who is an expert on “The Copycat Effect” and suicide clusters, and who is preserving cryptozoological exhibits with a non-profit public museum.

Thank you, Loren, for all that you have done, and I wish you and your family the best in the future.

Note: I give permission for this specific post (Loren Coleman needs out help) to be reproduced freely without prior permission or compensation, in an effort to inform the widest possible group about this situation.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you‚Äôll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)‚Ķand the good feeling you‚Äôll get. :) Shop ‚Äôtil you help! :) By the way, it‚Äôs been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to ‚Äústart at AmazonSmile‚ÄĚ if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Going to Loren Coleman’s International Cryptozoology Museum? See my Jenny Haniver

August 7, 2016

Going to Loren Coleman’s International Cryptozoology Museum? See my Jenny Haniver

image1 (1)

I was very pleased recently to donate something I bought in my travels from a street fair and have had for decades. It’s a “Jenny Haniver”, which is a ray or a skate (both are a type¬†of flat fish) which has been altered to look like a humanoid. My understanding is that they are dried, carved, and coated in varnish.

For many years, I have had it sealed in a box with “DO NOT CRUSH” written boldly on the side.

Well, I wanted to support

Loren Coleman‘s

International Cryptozoology Museum

which is moving into a new location.

Not only have I been interested in cryptozoology since I was a kid and borrowed Gardner Soule’s The Maybe Monsters from my school library as I described here:

A book that changed my life: The Maybe Monsters

but Loren has been kind and generous in the few interactions we’ve had. We’ve never met, but we have had some correspondence. I started something called “Weird World” and it turned out Loren had previously used that name. He graciously said that I could use it (I wasn’t a known writer at the time), but I did change it to “Bufo’s Weird World” to avoid confusion.

It’s better that other people get to see the Jenny Haniver, and I¬†trusted that the museum would take reasonable care of it.

So, after asking Loren if they wanted it and getting an affirmative, I took it down to my local UPS store to have it sent to the museum at Thompson’s Point in Portland, Maine.

They needed to see what they were shipping (not an unreasonable request), and I had quite a conversation with the clerk. I proudly described it as a “museum specimen”, and explained the origin and destination.

They packed it up securely and it arrived safely.

You can see it in the picture at the top of this post, which I presume was taken by Loren, and he granted me permission to share it with you.

The one which I donated is the upper Jenny, fully lit.

I was pleased with the “neighbors”: a Jackalope, a fur-bearing trout, and a poster for Albert Koch’s Hydrarchos. None of those are really cryptozoology, the way that I would use the term, but that’s an important mission of the museum: to educate the public. That’s not only about cryptozoology, but about the popular culture impact of it.

What is cryptozoology to me?

It requires that there first be reports (which includes local knowledge) of an animal apparently unknown to science, which is then investigated.

For me, the discovery of a previously unreported species (and there are many of those each year) is not cryptozoology…but it has a bearing on it by showing that there are undiscovered species (which you would think would be common sense, but…some people think we already know everything. As¬† far back as 1812, Baron Cuvier¬†thought there were no large animals¬†left to be discovered).

Similarly, “creative taxidermy” has a bearing (fur-bearing, in the case of the trout) ūüėČ on the topic.

Here’s an enlargement of the picture above:

Jenny Hanniver

As you can see, it looks like it has two legs, a tail, and wings. Even though the “face” is clear, the anatomical features are not what they appear to be. I’m impressed with the art of making it, even though I would not want to encourage the production of them.

If¬† you do get to the museum, say, “Hi!” to Jenny for me. ūüėČ

You may not have a specimen to donate, but you may want to support the ICM in other ways. Information is available on their site, and you could set them as your non-profit (the museum is a recognized as a 501(c)3 non-profit by the IRS, so donations are generally tax deductible, although you always want to confirm that for your specific situation) at https://smile.amazon.com/ (Amazon is making the donation in that case and gets the write-off). When you do that, Amazon donates half a percent of eligible purchases, at no cost to you.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you‚Äôll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)‚Ķand the good feeling you‚Äôll get. :) Shop ‚Äôtil you help! :) By the way, it‚Äôs been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to ‚Äústart at AmazonSmile‚ÄĚ if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

The Geeky Seventies

June 9, 2015

The Geeky Seventies

CNN is following up their successful series on the 1960s with one on the 1970s:

http://www.cnn.com/shows/the-seventies

Tom Hanks is an Executive Producer.

The existence of this series is kind of funny to me. I did a comedy bit years ago on our community access TV show (Freedom from Fear) called “In Search of the Seventies”. I treated it as a mystery as to whether or not the Seventies even (culturally) existed. I asked if they were really just “…the end of the Sixties and the start of the Eighties”.

I think that’s because I was too close to it. I was really engaging in pop culture in the Seventies…well, often culture that wasn’t so popular, but you know what I mean. ūüėČ I didn’t have the distance from it and maturity to recognize what was special about it.

Certainly, I thought the 1960s had a unique culture…with the Beatles in part driving the bus.

As to the 1980s, well, New Wave music seemed to stand out to me.

The 1970s? At that time, I wasn’t seeing what made it special.

Now I do. ūüôā

This post is going to give you an overview of geek-friendly culture in the 1970s.

It was definitely¬†a transformative decade…even if the Transformers didn’t arrive until the 1980s. ūüėČ

Geek culture moved mainstream in very big ways. Predominantly, there was Star Wars, which made space opera a blockbuster, but we could also look at The Exorcist for horror, and Interview with the Vampire (Anne Rice) for vampires.

We saw the arrival of Stephen King as a novelist, and the publication of Dungeons and Dragons.

Home video technology meant that people could easily watch movies after they were out of theatres…decades after, in some cases. Prior to that, some of us had three-minute long Super 8 movies, and the real hobbyists might have 16mm reels, but the Betamax and others meant our cinematic history (including the geeky part) was much more accessible.

Star Trek: the Original Series was canceled in 1969…but the fandom continued. That led to the first Star Trek convention in the 1970s. Science fiction conventions went back to 1939, but this was different.

Batman in the 1960s might have made superheroes a hit on TV, but Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk were part of the 1970s scene.

The Weird World interested a lot more people…the In Search Of TV series was only one part of that, but was many viewers’ first exposure to some of these topics.

Let’s look at some of the highlights in different areas:

Movies

How times have changed!

When you look at the top ten US grossing movies released in the 1960s, arguably only two are geek-friendly (GF) and not specifically intended for the family/children’s market:

  1. The Sound of Music
  2. 101 Dalmations
  3. The Jungle Book
  4. Doctor Zhivago
  5. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  6. Mary Poppins
  7. My Fair Lady
  8. Thunderball (GF)
  9. Cleopatra
  10. 2001: A Space Odyssey (GF)

By the end of the 1970s, that picture had entirely changed, and would look more like our box office today:

  1. Star Wars (GF)
  2. Jaws (GF)
  3. The Sting
  4. Animal House
  5. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (eventually) GF
  6. The Godfather
  7. Superman (GF)
  8. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (GF)
  9. Smokey and the Bandit
  10. Blazing Saddles

The Exorcist (1973) brought straight up horror to blockbuster status and mainstream acceptance (along with a lot of protests).

In 1975, Steven Spielberg changed the summer. Up to that point, it had largely been a season of cheapo exploitation movies. People actually went outside (including drive-ins), not to the movies. Jaws reshaped all that, giving us the summer blockbuster season. There have been heated debates about whether or not Jaws is a fantasy (are we supposed to believe the shark is just a shark, or something more?), but it was clearly a monster movie.

Then in 1977, Star Wars changed it all.

While those movies were all big hits, there were a lot of other significant geek movies. Undeniably, we have to count the Rocky Horror Picture Show as establishing midnight movies and a special kind of cult film. It flopped when it came out, but then got a new life in a new way. He’s the hero…that’s right, the hero. ūüėČ

Here are some other stand-outs:

  • Alien (1979)
  • A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  • Mad Max (1979)
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
  • Carrie (1976)
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
  • Halloween (1978)
  • Young Frankenstein (1974)
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
  • The Omen (1976)
  • King Kong (1976)
  • Eraserhead (1977)
  • Solaris (1972)
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
  • Logan’s Run (1979)
  • The Wicker Man (1973)
  • Live and Let Die (1973) (the first Roger Moore James Bond)
  • Soylent Green (1973)
  • Enter the Dragon (193)
  • The Amityville Horror (1979)
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978)
  • Zardoz (1974)
  • The Wiz (1978)
  • Westworld¬†(1973)
  • Four of the original Planet of the Apes movies
  • A Boy and His Dog (1975)
  • Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
  • Tommy (1975)
  • The Lord of the Rings (1978) (Ralph Bakshi)
  • Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
  • The Andromeda Strain (1971)
  • Phantasm (1979)
  • The Sentinel (1977)
  • Suspiria (1977)
  • Death Race 2000 (1975)
  • Rollerball (1975)
  • The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
  • The Omega Man (1971)
  • Tales from the Crypt (1972)
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
  • Freaky Friday (1976)
  • The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
  • The Car (1977)
  • The Muppet Movie (1979)
  • The ¬†Stepford Wives (1975)
  • Dark Star (1974)
  • Eraserhead (1977)

TV

Sure, the 1960s had been huge for high concept TV (with 1964 particularly important), but the 1970s built on that with many geek-friendly hits. Batman on TV had burned out by 1970, but opened the field for other superheroes (DC, Marvel, and bionic). Star Wars and James Bond were both big in movie theatres, and we saw their effect on the small screen as well. Home video arrived, which began to give us more options (although cable wouldn’t be a factor until the 1980s). Saturday morning got trippy with the Kroffts (although H.R. Pufnstuf debuted in 1969), and saw the return of Star Trek with the original cast…in animated form.

Some geek-friendly series:

  • Wonder Woman
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • Saturday Night Live (Coneheads! Land Shark!)
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Fantasy Island
  • Mork & Mindy
  • Land of the Lost
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
  • Kung Fu
  • Space: 1999
  • The Six Million Dollar Man
  • The Bionic Woman
  • The Muppet Show
  • The Tomorrow People
  • Isis
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker
  • Blakes 7
  • The Amazing Spier-Man
  • Nanny and the Professor
  • Shazam!
  • Tales of the Unexpected
  • SCTV
  • Paddington Bear
  • The New Avengers
  • Schoolhouse Rock!
  • Super Friends
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series
  • Man from Atlantis
  • Return to the Planet of the Apes
  • Sigmund and the Sea Monsters
  • Sapphire & Steel
  • Star Blazers
  • The Prisoner
  • Quark
  • Josie and the Pussycats
  • The Invisible Man (David McCallum)
  • Electra Woman and Dyna Girl
  • Doctor Who in the United States
  • Monty Python in the United States

Books/literature

I’ve gone into depth on the general topic of literature of the 1970s in another blog of mine:

I Love My Kindle: Books in the 1970s

In terms of geek-friendly, it was a huge decade! Just as movies saw the mainstreaming of geek-friendly genres, bookstores saw bestsellers from a new author named Stephen King, and a vampire hit (Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice).

While geek-specific bookstores (and comic book stores) were crucial, you could walk into a the newly national Barnes & Noble chain and get a variety of science fiction/fantasy/supernatural horror. You wanted military SF? You had Joe Haldeman. Light fantasy? Enter Xanth by Piers Anthony. Social science fiction? The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner. Ringworld…Riverworld…we weren’t only reaching out to new planets, we were visiting new worlds and universes.

Here are some of the stand-out titles and authors:

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
  • The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Stand by Stephen King
  • Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny
  • Gateway by Frederick Pohl
  • Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein
  • To Your Scattered Bodies Go by¬†Philip Jos√© Farmer
  • Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven
  • The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
  • Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  • Logan’s Run by William F. Nolan
  • Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm
  • The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner
  • Altered States by Paddy Chayefsky
  • Autumn Angels by Arthur Byron Cover
  • The Cave of Time (Choose Your Own Adventure) by Edward Packard

Gaming

1974 saw the release of Dungeons & Dragons…and we had Advanced D&D by the end of the decade. This was really the decade that saw the RPG (Role-Playing Game) world established, and would include Runequest and Traveller.

Fandom

Star Trek:  The Original Series ended in 1969, but the people who had come together to fight for a third season kept at it. That included the first Star Trek convention (well, the first widely available to the public one in 1972), the return of the original cast for the animated series, and eventually, 1979, to the big screen.

Comics

Again, there was a transition happening, with some significant experimentation.

  • Jack Kirby jumped from Marvel to DC, and introduced Darkseid
  • The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide first appeared
  • Green Lantern and Green Arrow take a philosophical walk-about across America
  • Mister Miracle debuts
  • An arc in Spider-Man features drug use, and defies the Comics Code Authority
  • Ra’s Al Ghul first appears
  • The Kree-Skrull War storyline
  • The Sandman
  • War Machine makes his first appearance
  • Wonder Woman gives up her powers

The Weird World

  • The TV series In Search of… (hosted by Leonard Nimoy) was instrumental in reinteresting people in the Roswell Incident
  • 1973 was dubbed “The Year of the Humanoids” by UFO researcher David Webb…one of the most famous was the Pascagoula incident
  • Uri Geller was famous, even appearing on the Tonight Show in 1973 to “bend spoons”
  • Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain by¬†Lynn Schroeder and Sheila Ostrander was published in 1970
  • The Mysterious Monsters was a Sunn Classics documentary, featuring Peter Graves
  • The Legend of Boggy Creek was released in 1972
  • The Unidentified, published in 1975, by Loren Coleman & Jerome Clark, is Coleman’s first “name on the cover” book
  • John A. Keel’s inimitable The Mothman Prophecies was published in 1975
  • Momo, the Missouri Monster, was just one of many hairy bipeds
  • Newsstands had magazines galore, including Ancient Astronauts
  • The “flipper photo” of the Loch Ness Monster was taken in 1972 by Dr. Robert Rines’ team
  • In 1975, Travis Walton is missing for several days, and a report emerges of an abduction by aliens

Records

Listening to LPs was definitely a 1970s thing, and there were some definitely geeky concept albums.

  • 1972: David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
  • 1973: Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells
  • 1978: Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds
  • 1978:¬†Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!

Science/Tech

  • Home computers became a thing in 1977, with the Apple II, the Commodore PET (Personal Electronic Transactor), and the TRS-80 (Tandy Radio Shack)
  • Skylab launched in 1973…and docked with the Russian Soyuz in 1975
  • The Atari 2600 was released in 1977
  • The first Pong arcade game was put to use in 1972. Arcade games would really take off with Space Invaders in 1978

There’s a bit of the geeky 1970s for you! We certainly didn’t cover everything, but you can see the big shift from geek culture being kids and niche to becoming the mainstream pop culture force that it is today. Want to add something? Feel free to comment on this post.

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Leonard Nimoy has reportedly died

February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy has reportedly died

More later, but it is with great sadness that we report that Leonard Nimoy has reportedly died.

Update:

We were Spock.

That was part of the incredible talent, wisdom, and (yes, illogically) magic that was Leonard Nimoy.

Geeks everywhere understood Spock. That idea of being different, of not fitting in, but of being seen by others as being superior in certain ways…and nonexistent in others.

While there is no denying the contributions of writers (including Theodore Sturgeon) and producer Gene Roddenberry, Nimoy contributed important elements to the Spock mythos.

Certainly, the Vulcan salute was Nimoy’s. More importantly, though, Nimoy didn’t think Spock should simply punch somebody, and invented the Vulcan nerve pinch. This nonviolent and scientific way of temporarily disabling an enemy really resonated with many of us. It wasn’t dependent on strength (even though Spock’s was superhuman), it didn’t damage…it simply allowed intellect and technique to defeat physicality.

As the old 1960s bumper sticker said, “I grok Spock”…Nimoy did.

Nimoy also understood Star Trek in general…perhaps better than anyone else who directed the original cast in a Trek movie (Nimoy directed two of them).

While many people cite Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as their favorite TOS (The Original Series) movie, which is understandable, it is reasonable to argue that Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, may have been the best at capturing the spirit of the original.

Think about the “character moments” in the Star Trek movie series, where somebody besides Kirk or Spock get the spotlight. Scotty trying to talk to a 1980s computer. Chekov asking people on the street, in a Russian accent, during the Cold War, where he could find the “nuclear wessels”.

Even Kirk telling the crew to “remember where we parked” an invisible ship illustrates Kirk beautifully…and while you credit Shatner the actor for the delivery, ¬†you have to credit Nimoy the director for the impact of the scene.

When Nimoy wrote I Am Not Spock (at AmazonSmile*: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), it wasn’t to say that Spock didn’t exist or that the actor wanted nothing to do with the character. It was to say that there were two of them…Spock and Nimoy, and that they weren’t exactly the same.

Certainly, Nimoy (actor, director, singer, photographer, mentor, inspiration) made great contributions to the world even if we removed Spock from the resume. Yes, that included mainstream works and recognition: playing Theo Van Gogh, and being nominated for an Emmy (his fourth nomination, after three for Spock) in A Woman Called Golda.

Other geek-friendly credits include:

  • Francis (the talking mule) Goes to West Point
  • Zombies of the Stratosphere
  • Them!
  • The Brain Eaters
  • Twilight Zone
  • The Outer Limits
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  • Get Smart
  • Mission:Impossible (as Paris, the magician/master of disguise)…multi-season role, essentially taking over from Martin Landau
  • Night Gallery
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the Donald Sutherland remake)
  • Faerie Tale Theatre
  • The Transformers: The Movie
  • The Pagemaster (as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)
  • The Simpsons
  • Duckman
  • The First Men in the Moon (TV movie)
  • The Lost World (TV movie)
  • Brave New World (TV movie)
  • Invasion America (TV series)
  • Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  • Civilization IV (videogame)
  • Land of the Lost (the remake with Will Ferrell)
  • Kingdom Hearts (videogame series as Master Xehanort)
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (as Sentinel Prime)
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Fringe
  • Zambezia
  • The recent Star Trek movies (as Spock Prime)

The Measured Circle also can not fail to mention Nimoy’s role as the narrator of In Search of… (and later, History’s Mysteries). We had come to trust Nimoy, in some ways, and certainly to see him as science oriented. Having him as the host of this series gave it credibility in a way that many other people would not.

That all only scratches the surface of this remarkable life. Leonard Nimoy directed 3 Men and a Baby, a very successful mainstream comedy. Nimoy had hit records. However, it may be the way he interacted with other people that will be his greatest legacy.

Look at the reactions in social media to his passing. See the stories, from stars, from scientists…and from geeks like me.

I had a hard time figuring out what to say. Spock has been one of my fictional heroes, but I knew much more about Nimoy (without ever having met him) than that. I found a particular resonance in a quote from the series:

“Parted from me and never parted, never and always touching and touched.” Goodbye, Leonard Nimoy: in some way, we were all Spock. Thank you

I will always carry Spock with me.

Goodbye, Leonard Nimoy…the world is simply less without you.

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This post originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Tech controversy 1908: PHONE MAGNATE BARS WIRELESS FROM STANFORD

February 15, 2015

Tech controversy 1908: PHONE MAGNATE BARS WIRELESS FROM STANFORD

The San Francisco Call | July 9 1908 | page 1
retyped from http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1908-07-09/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=1836&index=0&rows=20&words=BARS+FROM+MAGNATE+PHONE+STANFORD+WIRELESS&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=&date2=1922&proxtext=phone+magnate+bars+wireless+from+stanford&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1

===

PHONE MAGNATE BARS WIRELESS FROM STANFORD

Trustee Hopkins Orders Experimenter from Laboratory When Voices Sound

Stock Holder in  Commercial  System Resents Sordid Spirit of Worker

Brave Professors Comes to Aid of Young Scientist with Offer of Barn

When advancement of  learning  leads to sordid gain should it be frowned upon by a university? Trustee Timothy Hokins [sic] of Stanford, the temporary business manager of the institution while Treasurer Charles G. Lathrop is away, has answered this question emphatically in the affirmative by withholding the privileges of the laboratories for a brilliant young graduate of the cardinal institution, who has lately developed some startling improvement in wireless telephony.

Dr. C. D. Marx, ¬†head of the department of civil engineering and a member of the commission of engineers, engaged in the rebuilding of the university, has answered the question just as emphatically in the negative by installing the apparatus of the young inventor in his spacious barn,¬†¬†where¬†¬†it is said that the system has proven so successful that the professor’s livestock have been driven into a ¬†state of panic by the mysterious voices in the loft of their home.

IS HEAVY STOCK HOLDER

Friends of C.F. Elwell, the inventor in the case, have been unkind enough to suggest that Hopkins was moved to issue his ukase by the fact that he is a heavy stock holder and a member of the executive board of the Pacific States telephone and telegraph company. They point to the significant fact that the apparatus of the big steel tower of the ruined library building was allowed to remain  undisturbed  as long as the university authorities believed that it was there to catch dots and dashes and not vocal sounds.

Elwell has become well known for his original work in electrical engineering and long before his graduation he was made an assistant in that department at Stanford. Last year his work attracted the attention of the men who are trying to sell a wireless telephone system to the government, and the young engineer was appointed to conduct experiments for the company on this coast. The backers the enterprise supplied him with $6,000 worth of apparatus, and while college was still open he used this in conjunction with the electrical and chemical laboratories of the university.

OVERLOOK PHONE SIDE

As soon as Stanford closed for the summer he applied to Hopkins for the privilege of using the  laboratories during the vacation period, and it is said that the business manager, still laboring under the delusion that the experiments were concerned with wireless telegraphy alone, granted the required permission without question.

The secret was well kept for a time, but the voices in the tower swore at central one day, and Hopkins must have been passing at the time, for the inventor was summoned to his office and ordered to remove himself and his apparatus from the campus.

Asked for a reason for this order, the business manager declared that the project was purely a commercial affair, and ans such should be given neither the aid nor the sanction of the university. With no place to take his expensive apparatus, Elwell was in danger of despair until Marx came forward with his offer of a refuge.

===

The Measured Circle note: it’s fascinating that we already see the narrative of a corporate interest trying to prevent disruption to its industry. Wireless voice transmission? Sounds like a cellphone…which may make the use of one¬†in Oz a few years later less impressive (The Wizard of Oz invented the¬†cellphone).¬†Is it also being suggested here that it was profanity that led to the shutdown (“…the voices in the tower swore at central one day”), or was that just because it was loud enough to be overheard? If the former, it mirrors issues which still exist today.

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James Garner reported dead

July 20, 2014

James Garner reported dead

James “Jim” Garner‘s characters were often laid back, non-conforming without being confrontational. If it wasn’t¬†right, they didn’t¬†do it…but “right” and “proper” weren’t¬†the same things.

Certainly (and appropriately) best known for Bret Maverick and Jim Rockford, Garner’s career also includes more geek-friendly roles:

  • Space (1984 TV miniseries based on Michener’s fictionalized account of the American space program)
  • Fire in the Sky, based on the Travis Walton UFO abduction case…Garner’s Lt. Frank Watters is investigating the claims
  • Space Cowboys (directed by and co-starring Clint Eastwood)
  • Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire (as Commander Rourke)
  • God, the Devil, and Bob TV series (as the voice of God…Alan Cumming was the Devil)
  • The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration
  • Battle for Terra
  • Garner also voiced the pivotal character Shazam (who gave Captain Marvel powers) in DC Showcase: Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam

Audiences had a special affection for Jim Garner: it seemed like it was never about his characters being better or smarter than everybody else…just more stubborn about sticking to the big principles.

Good-bye, Jim Garner: the world might be neater without you, but it isn’t better.

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The Weird Old Days: my new Flipboard magazine

June 17, 2014

The Weird Old Days: my new Flipboard magazine

Has the world always been weird?

Well, yes, of course. ūüôā

Over the decades, though, the way in which we look at those strange phenomena changes.

I had originally planned to do a book of old (public domain…no longer under copyright) newspaper stories, and provide context for the articles.

Then, the people at the

Flipboard (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

released an update which makes it easy to create your own “magazines” and to “flip” articles from the web into it.

In the same way that Twitter is really a different medium, this is something new.

If you already have the Flipboard app (and I read it every morning…it sort of holds the same place for me that a daily newspaper used to have), it’s easy to add a user-created Flipboard magazine. Getting the app is easy enough that, if you are interested in something, it’s a good way to get the information.

Here’s a place to get to The Weird Old Days:

 http://flip.it/ZtmYw

Why do a Flipboard magazine instead of a book?

After all, I don’t get any royalties from Flipboard: no direct compensation at all.

The main thing for me is the flexibility to keep adding to it.

With a book, you reach a point where you decide to publish it. You can certainly update it later, but that can be quite confusing for readers. People who buy it before the update don’t automatically get the new version (that’s true at the Kindle store, which is where I would have published it…and certainly true in brick-and-mortar stores ((I’m a former manager)) for paperbooks).

If you are going to update it every day (that’s been about right for The Weird Old Days, which has over 100 articles at time of writing, it’s pretty clunky to do a book.

I think it’s a fun way to go: for all of my Flipboard magazines, I have over 450 readers…that seems like a lot to me in a fairly short time.

It doesn’t cost anything, and you can unsubscribe easily at any time.

So, what is in The Weird Old Days?

I search through the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America collection of digitized newspapers (from 1836 through 1922). I certainly may use other resources at some point, but I feel confident in the copyright status of these.

As far as which search terms to use, well, that’s part of where you are getting my expertise.

For example, you can’t search for “UFOs” or “flying saucers”, since the terms weren’t in use back then (“flying saucers” came into the national vocabulary in 1947). There were, however, “airships” reported (especially in 1896 and 1909).

However, that doesn’t mean I’ll just include every airship story…because there were airships at the time. Even in 1896, before the Wright brothers, there were lighter-than-airships.

Another thing that complicates matters is that newspapers ran a lot of fiction back then. Especially following War of the Worlds (first serialized in 1897), there were quite a few tales of martians and airships…and while I assume the readers commonly knew they were intended as fiction, they were rarely labeled clearly as such. My guess is that people knew by the position in the newspaper, or by the name of a feature (which might include rotating stories).

“Lake monster” has gotten me many results…but “Loch Ness monster” yields nothing, despite common claims for history going back centuries. Those stories will be there in different places, but the term “Loch Ness monster” really becomes popular with the 1933 sightings.

The “Abominable Snowman” term does work (dating from 1921).

Many of the terms for “psychic phenomena” were around…so I can search for telekinesis or telepathy and get results.

Of course, they also did stories¬†about things way before their time…Nostradamus, for example.

It particularly interests me when there were things which were popular then, and not so much covered now. Giant human skeletons in the USA, for example.

Oh, and one thing that amused me! I tried searching for “vampire”, thinking I might get some reports of existing ones, and there were many articles. However, those articles were mostly about the Theda Bara type of “vampire” (a…forward, or let’s call it “romantically assertive”, female).

Update: I forgot to mention that I know you may have some trouble reading an article on your device, due to the way they are formatted by the Library of Congress. They have an option on the page to display it as a PDF (you’ll see a link), so if you have a decent PDF reader, that can be a good way to go.

This is going to be fun to explore! I’ve already found some interesting pieces…

New! Try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 


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