Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Hey – My Omicron Bread Is Soggy!

If you track fads – especially the ones in book publishing – a great way to see if something is passé is by noting what ends up being tossed away, especially if it’s many items from the same category.

No, I don’t engage in bin-diving. But I do check out the FREE BOOKS box at the local used bookstore. Recently I came across a bunch of titles from the CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE series published by Bantam Books. Apparently that craze is over; you can only give them away.

CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE was aimed at what is classified as RL 4 readers, age 10 and up. You were the hero, making choices that end up in victory or defeat. You could be a cyberspace warrior or an international ski racer. Each book would introduce you to yourself as a particular protagonist, quickly filling in the backstory before plunging you into an adventure.

At some point a crisis would occur and you had to make the right decision. Let’s say you’re a jungle explorer who is confronted by a menacing gorilla. You could try to shoot the beast or use a Tarzan yell to scare it away. If you decide to plug some lead into the primate, you’re told to turn to page 101. If you go for the yelling, then you would turn to page 16.

Let’s say you want to be an animal lover and try to deal with the gorilla in a non-violent manner. So you choose the Tarzan yell and then flip to page 16 to find out the gorilla thinks Tarzan is a punk and doesn’t give a crap about PETA. So the enraged ape rips off your arms, legs, and then cracks open your skull to dine on your fresh brains. THE END.

Next time, go for the headshot, sucker.

Of course, such a scenario as the preceding is an exaggerated take-off on what could happen to an adventure chooser. But still you can end up in unpleasant circumstances, such as being ripped apart by fanged and clawed ETs.

That unfortunate ending shows up in YOU ARE A GENIUS by Edward Packard (CHOOSE YOR OWN ADVENTURE #95). One day you’re an average high school student, but overnight you’ve become a genius. Soon you’re building robots that appear to be nothing more than R2-D2 rip-offs. Or you find a way to travel in space faster than the speed of light, building a spaceship that takes you to the planet Omicron.

When you land on Omicron, your ship is badly damaged and needs repairs. The locals, monsters possessing super-strength, are ready to rip your vessel apart. If you weren’t so stressed out, you would notice that while you build robots that are knock-offs of STAR WARS bots, these monsters resemble the critters from the ALIEN movie series, complete with elongated heads and fang-filled, drooling mouths.

Your choices are to fire at the monsters, move the ship to another spot on the planet, or take a moment to think.

OK, I’m an older reader and I could anticipate my fate with either fight or flight. So I chose to think it over. That decision let me study the monsters, learn their language, and approach them in peace.

Of course, you can’t reject a friendly offering or the “natives” will get restless again. What bothers me is the illustration by artist Frank Bolle of the aliens bringing food baskets to the ship while thick drool is pouring from their gaping mouths, sticky saliva all over the fish and the bread. Hey, I don’t want strange body fluids all over my lunch.

Then again, if I decided fight or flight, the aliens would have torn me apart. To be fair, there should’ve been a fourth choice: waiting for the bus. In classic Michael O’Donoghue fashion, a bus runs over the aliens, killing them, THE END.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Latest Illuminati Ploy: Goofy Comic Books?

What would Bill Cooper think if he was still alive?

Cooper used to rant and rave on his radio program, Hour of the Time, about all the Illuminati symbols semi-hidden in everyday objects, from that mystical pyramid topped with an all-seeing eye on the dollar bill to any architecture featuring pyramidal shapes. It was all a pyramid scheme to him.

The Illuminati, as defined by Cooper, was an interlocking network of organizations focused upon enslaving all of mankind under a new world order. Such organizations as the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Freemasons, Green Stamps Redemption Centers, whatever.

One time I called Bill Cooper when he was a guest on another radio program. I talked about all the mystic symbols I spotted during the introduction to David Letterman’s late night show when he was on NBC-TV – you know, back in the days when Dave was funny. While the intro credits rolled, the viewer was treated to a fly-over of New York City at night, all sorts of illuminated skyscrapers. I mentioned that one building was topped by a pyramid, obviously a cryptic symbol hidden in plain sight by the Illuminati.

Bill Cooper agreed with me. David Letterman was an Illuminatus, a key player in the machinations of the mega-conspiracy.

Programs such as Cooper’s on shortwave radio were very entertaining, much more so than one of my other pastimes, comic books. The trouble with comics was I matured, the medium didn’t.

In fact all the entertainment I get from comics lately is reading various web sites about the industry, keeping up with the latest schemes and feuds. The business, not the product, provides more fun.

So the other day I’m scanning one comic book site, newsarama.com, and what do I see? An article entitled ILLUMINATING THE ILLUMINATI WITH BRIAN BENDIS. Without any mention of Adam Weishaupt and the Great Conspiracy, the piece talked about how funnybook writer Bendis has formed within the world of Marvel Comics a nexus of leading superheroes – Mister Fantastic, Doctor Strange, Forbush-Man, et al. – who meet in secret to handle a major crisis when it arises. Guess what name is used for this cabal of costumed clowns?

As Bendis explains: “The inspirations for the Illuminati came from things like the UN Security Council, as well as the closed-door meetings in the White House and other organizations and countries that are off the books…”

Art imitating life?

Bill Cooper used to maintain that the Illuminati laughed at the unsuspecting masses, the sheeple too stupid to see the clues right in front of them.

One wonders how many ultra-right-wingers have contacted Marvel Comics to expose this apparent subterfuge by the real-life Illuminati. To atone, Marvel should publish a “Classics Illustrated” version of the Cooper conspiracy masterpiece, “Behold A Pale Horse.” In that book Cooper maintained – before the X-Files TV series – that the government was covering up the truth about UFOs and, more importantly, it was conspiring with evil space aliens who were cruelly experimenting on human abductees.

Hey, it would be better than that crap they’re doing with Spider-Man lately.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Are you a flying saucer fiend looking for a ripping good read? Well, you can’t go wrong with the booklet, UFOMANIA (1998), by the late Allan J. Manak.

The subtitle sums up the basis of this fascinating tome: THE LORE AND LEGEND OF UFOLOGY. The subtitle sums up the basis of this fascinating tome: THE LORE AND LEGEND OF UFOLOGY. Manak collected all sorts of bizarre UFO tales and while he doesn’t try to promote every incident as objective reality, neither does he completely discount every one.

In the preface he states “...a true study of the UFO enigma must include a study of all encounters and incidents, not just the cases that support a specific theory. One must not overlook the ‘nut factor’ or ‘way out factor’ just because one cannot include it in his own way of thinking.”

UFOMANIA presents an array of the weird, from jelly creatures dancing around their saucer to six inch tin can beings eying a stranded driver before scooting away on their tripod legs and taking off in a rocket. Of course, some tales, like the Aurora crash, have been proven to be hoaxes, but they still remain entertaining, especially when illustrated by an artist named Benita Carrol Owens.

My favorite is the saucerfolk food incident in which the experiencer claimed that the visitors gave him some pancakes before they departed. In an editor’s note Manak says he saw a piece of a space pancake in a display case at the U.S. Air Force Museum. Now can Aunt Jemima make a similar claim to fame? Nope. No mention of any of her pancakes being put on display by the government at www.auntjemima.com .

UFOMANIA can be ordered for four bucks, postpaid, from Rick Hilberg, 377 Race Street, Berea, Ohio 44017 .