Monday, July 31, 2006

The MailBoX: Message From A Floridian Luddite

Just received a bit of snail mail from Jim Moseley, perpetrator of the zine, Saucer Smear (PO Box 1709, Key West, FL 33041). Jim is not one to get caught in The Web (to use the appropriate pun). I’ve always contended that one of the signs of the Apocalypse is the reception of email from Supreme Commander Moseley.

Anyway, here’s an excerpt from his handwritten missive dated 7/24/06:

“I now see more clearly than ever how good it is that I never allowed myself to be sucked into the Internet. Identity theft, scams of every conceivable kind, viruses, etc. – I just don’t have the fortitude to be up with it. All I get now is telemarketers, and I just hang up!

Keep ‘em frying!


Well, Jim, the Internet is like dating: you have to be wary of some women or you’ll get your identity stolen, and also end up being scammed out of your money. And let’s not talk about viruses! (My perfect woman would be one with a “Restart” option.)

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s ironic that you're not taking advantage of the great tech from the Roswell crash.



Sunday, July 30, 2006

Do You See What I See? Take 2

OK, let me try another one. This image has been Photoshopped, but only to remove the distracting background and to smooth the edges of the subject. For some reason this looks darker than it did in Photoshop. If it's too dark, let me know and I'll zap the brightness and contrast some more.

So, does anyone see what I noticed in this tree trunk?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Do You See What I See?

Sometimes I like to shoot abstract images. Admittedly this is a photo of a freshly painted wall reflecting a large window and colored lights. But to me it seems to form a pattern. I’m wondering if anyone else sees the same image within the image.

No, this isn’t a put-on. I will share my take on this shot later to find out if anyone agrees with me.

A Different POV

I respect Mac Tonnies and his views over at his blog. But occasionally he becomes a little too pessimistic about global warming. He picks articles and images that imply the world is going to concurrently burn up and flood over.

Yes, we’re facing a problem with climate change. But I’ve lived a little too long to accept the worst forecasts without question. During the Cold War the end-of-mankind doomsayers predicted the superowers would inevitably wage World War III, radioactive craters dotting the earth’s surface. In the 1970s the environmentally-alarmed doomsayers proclaimed that the planet would be blanketed by a sea of air pollution before the 21st Century, that by now we would be choking on our own wastes.

The problems of nuke warfare and pollution remain with us. But the worst forecasts have proved so far to be wrong. There’s a difference between worry and concern. Worry is the onus of the pessimist. He has decided the game is up and the clock is ticking down the final seconds.

Concern, on the other hand, is the viewpoint of a realist. He does agree that there are far-reaching problems. While there is no guarantee of complete success or failure when dealing with them, such problems should still be acknowledged and acted upon within reason.

While the argument is over in regards to global warming, no one can truly say how bad its effects will be. There will be effects, of course. But are they so dire that we might as well give up living?

Anyway, before global warming or pollution or nuke warfare destroys mankind, a planet-killer asteroid might make any such doomsday scenarios beside the point. [G]

So while I share some concern with Mac in regards to climate change, I have a wait-and-see attitude in how severe it will be. Maybe civilization will wise up and be able to stave off the worst results. Maybe the earth will resist mankind’s efforts to screw it up, providing an unexpected surprise. Who knows? Or maybe I’m being too optimistic and we’re all gonna die. Either way, at this time, I’m not worrying about it.

As a respectful counterpoint, let me offer one of my photos and a pithy observation. I took this image yesterday after noticing a posthole in the sidewalk where a street sign once stood.

Despite mankind’s most damnable efforts, life thrives.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

When UFO Ain’t UFO

Search engine. Keyword: UFO – as in Unidentified Flying Object.

Now here’s a story on the Web saying that 60% of Brits saw an UFO last year. OK, take a look and find out that UFO in this case means unforeseen financial occurrence. It’s a business news item, talking about people who become strapped for cash when something bad happens like a boiler breaking down. Not an article related to strange objects in the sky.

Try again. Here’s a hit about former NBC-TV News Anchor Tom Brokaw talking about an UFO. Strange title: “The UFO Hovering Over 2008.” Access the hit, peruse a piece about the next presidential race, people speculating on who will run and win. But Brokaw says it’s too early to say how the race is shaping up because one key event can change the whole political landscape. UFO, explains Brokaw, is short for the unforeseen will occur.

Politics is an alien subject to me. Try again. What’s this? A woman has a pile of UFOs in her house? Yup – except this woman isn’t an ufologist, she’s a stitchologist. Stitching projects that have been tossed aside are called UFOs – unfinished objects.

So let me coin my own phrase for UFO: unrelated, false hit – Oh, shit!

Alfred T. Lehmberg Is Real?

Is Alfred Lehmberg an actual entity? Or is he just a fictional character, a complex put-on?

Once upon a time there was a comic book opinion column written by a Mr. Sidney Mellon. Sidney was an enthusiastic young lad who had a unique style when it came to logic. For example, how can you decide which comic book is the best? Well, Sidney, a big fan of The X-Men, had a simple method. The title that sold the most copies each month had to be the best. Of course, that meant The X-Men had the most artistic merit. QED.

Sidney Mellon was a put-on created by an adult writer (a somewhat jaded writer, of course). I quickly realized that it was a joke, but one of my friends didn’t get it. I had to point out certain passages that indicated that Sidney was too good – I mean, too bad – to be true.

Me, I use a pseudonym and I do joke around, but for the most part I am real. What you see – in this case, read – is what you get. My put-ons are usually obvious – well, at least to me.

But this Alfred Lehmberg… I never heard of him until I started reading Paul Kimball’s blog, The Other Side Of Truth. On occasion Paul would briefly mention Mr. Lehmberg, implying that the man was a bit opinionated at times.

Recently Paul has decided enough is enough and announced that he was dropping the sidebar link on his site to Lehmberg’s homepage. Paul felt the link was acting as an “endorsement” of Lehmberg’s viewpoints.

What galled Paul in particular was Lehmberg referring to Paul as a “dilettante” filmmaker who has “repudiated” his films. I never seen Paul at work or even viewed one of his documentaries. But from what I can tell, this guy works his ass off on his projects. I’m a bit familiar with what goes into a television or film project; unless you have many underlings doing the grunt work, you have to sweat every detail, physically and mentally.

As for the repudiation part, Paul says he is still proud of his films, such as Stanton T. Friedman Is Real, and any statement to the contrary is “misleading hogwash.” (Please, Mr. Kimball, such language!) This is why he has de-linked Lehmberg.

The de-linked Alfred Lehmberg responded with a few comments on Paul’s blog. Let me eXcerpt one of Mr. Lehmberg’s comments as an example of his writing style. He is directly addressing Paul Kimball:

“Naw – you’re transparent down to your penny loafer [sic] … You’re not fooling anybody, hoss. The street’s got your measure… Some folks might be irritated with your insouciant slap and tickle at sensibilities suffering shock and awe, you know?”

This is somewhat typical of Lehmberg’s style. Grumpy great-granddad ranty. A tendency towards run on sentences, words flying from the brain to the fingers, sometimes writing with old-fashioned, somewhat stiff phrasing. Maybe he’s channeling the spirit of a dime novelist or a pulp magazine writer?

Before the dustup, Paul had a post on his blog about a quiz that determined what kind of superhero you were. Lehmberg indicated that such a fun pursuit was beneath him; he sniffed: “...Credulity is, indeed, strained...”

Hey, you got to be careful when straining credulity. Mental hemorrhoids, you know.

Sorry, I’m not falling for it. This “Alfred Lehmberg” has to be a joke. It’s that trickster Sidney Mellon, just older and mean.

CORRECTION: As Paul Kimball explains in his comment on this article, he added a link to Alfred Lehmberg's site for only a couple of weeks as a "light-hearted rejoinder" to Mr. Lehmberg's comments about him. As I've mentioned before, I came late to this controversy and I'm not familiar with all the details. I had assumed that Paul had included the sidebar link for some time now and then decided to drop it. I stand corrected.

Where I stand with Alfred Lehmberg -- well, he's still un-real to me.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Mystery Image

I take two types of mystery images. One type is an image that a viewer has to puzzle out after it’s taken and displayed. The viewer asks: “What is it?”

The second type is during the creation of the image. People look at me and think: “What is he doing?”

The above shadow image falls into the second category. I was sitting with a couple of friends at a coffeehouse when I noticed a shape being cast by the evening sun on the opposite wall. I got up, moved a chair out of the way, composed, and shot at a few different angles with my compact digital camera.

Then I put the chair back in place, sat down with my friends who didn’t ask what I was trying to do.

On this occasion the friends sitting at the table happened not to be science fiction movie fans; they were unfamiliar with classic SF films from the 1950s. I could have mentioned The Day The Earth Stood Still and drawn blank stares.

But a few of you out there know what I saw in that shadow shape.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Another Plattsburgh Celebration?

One of the special events during the summer for Plattsburgh, NY is Mayor’s Cup Festival, complete with music, fireworks, and fighting drunks. Now there’s a rumor the city might start up another event to keep the tourism dollars flowing in.

One problem: the person they want to memorialize is on the run from the law.

Arthur Pope has been trying to stay ahead of the feds since he blew up a napalm lab during the Vietnam War. His life is the basis of the movie, Running On Empty (1988). Pope was born in Plattsburgh on July 16, 1944. Some are advocating that his birthday should be remembered as part of the tragedy that was the Vietnam War.

Well, they do honor abolitionist John Brown, who is “a-mold'ring” in his grave in the greater Plattsburgh area, despite the fact that his actions were considered criminal at the time. But I wonder how Pope –- a lefty radical of the 1960s –- would appreciate his birthday being turned into a materialistic, money-centered event by the Establishment.

What a bummer, man.

Getting It Straight About Sarcasm [S]

It seems that around 50 per cent of the time people misunderstand statements in e-mail, not realizing whether a particular sentence is meant to be straight or sarcastic.

So indicates a study discussed in an article by Teresa F. Linderman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Entitled E-mail writers often misunderstood, Linderman explains how e-mailers assume that they’re getting their message across in proper context, but the person on the other end is thrown off by the lack of body language, gestures, tone of voice, etc. involved in face-to-face conversation.

I know my own humor at times is so droll that people miss the point. Of course, one could always add the universal smiley emoticon-- :-) --to indicate sarcasm or humor, but I prefer the more direct [G] (for grin) symbol.

But even that is not precise enough. So I’ve created a pair of symbols to indicate whether I am being serious (straight) or sarcastic in a humorous way.

When making a serious statement –- without a whit of irony –- it will be followed by this symbol: [S]

When making a sarcastic statement –- loaded with humor –- it will be followed by this symbol: [S]

This should clear up any confusion that may arise about the tone of my online writing. [S]

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Blogspotter Profile: Rear Admiral Zorgrot

This is the third in a series about other writers at Blogspot who share my interest in the Uncommon and the Unusual.

The subject of the above photo is purported to be an extraterrestrial visiting this planet as part of a birdbrained mission.

At his Blogspot site, Zorgrot Quacks – I mean, Speaks , this avian alien details his exploratory exploits. In the company of one Paul Kimball –- Documentary Maker and Overgrown Adolescent –- Rear Admiral Zorgrot has decided that all human males should elect goddess Carmen Electra as supreme ruler.

Recently Saucer Smear editor Jim Moseley sent me an article that explained that terran mallards during mating season undergo certain biological changes, specifically their testes grow three times the size of their brains.

After reading some of posts written by the Rear Admiral, you will agree that due to his otherworldly physiology, Zorgrot’s testes and brain are the same organ.

His unresolved lust for model Carmen Electra is abysmally disturbing. I haven’t suffered the creeps so bad since Lea Thompson did a sex scene with the title character of the movie Howard The Duck. Zorgrot’s sicko posts don’t fit the bill for me.

Of course, I render such comments at great personal risk since Zorgrot’s favorite way to resolve a conflict is to blast away with his laser gun. In fact, on one occasion Zorgrot repaid an ambulance crew for saving his life by vaporizing them! And this being claims that he comes in peace! He also brags about his Sub-Atomic Particle Transporter that allows him to pop in and out anywhere at will.

Well, I don’t fear Zorgrot. If he ever shows up here, I’ll tell him to get stuffed.

Wait a minute –- what’s that sound?

Blogspotter Profile: Mac Tonnies

This is the second in a series of articles about other writers at Blogspot who share my interest in the Uncommon and the Unusual.

Mac Tonnies lives (or did live) in the suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri. He hates the suburbs there. (Mac, try living in Plattsburgh, NY for a year. You’ll kiss the suburb ground in your locale after returning from a twelve-month stretch here.) Author, essayist, blogger, and purveyor of cheesecake photos, Mac holds forth at his site Posthuman Blues .

Seriously, Mac does a lot more than bitch about the suburbs and upload cheesecake. He has been offering segments of his ongoing project dealing with his IH (Indigenous Hypothesis) theory of UFOs. No, he doesn’t believe that UFOs are flying saucers piloted by Nazis hiding below the South Pole. He speculates that we might be sharing our planet with a shadow race that is able to manipulate the minds of lesser humans.

I say “lesser humans” because Mac theorizes this shadow race and ours did an evolutionary split from a common ancestor in the dim past. So basically both races are human but the cryptoterrestrials –- a term he adopted to describe the secret civilization –- evolved faster, in different ways, having a talent for telepathic trickery.

Mac doesn’t offer this theory as Truth, unlike too many other bloggers who populate the Web and try to corner the market on paranormal paradigms. His theory is an interesting mental exercise that might be a way of getting at the reality behind UFOs and other strange occurrences in mankind’s history, such as glimpses of mysterious creatures (Bigfoot) and stories of abductions by the Little People.

(Note: Mac sometimes abbreviates cryptoterrestrial as CT. Don’t get that CT abbreviation mixed up with the other one associated with the images of near-naked models he uploads occasionally.)

At his blog Mac links to other articles on the Net dealing with his interests, such as climate change and anomalous phenomena, and he also shares a few of his own photos, including a building in his new neighborhood that once housed a mental hospital. He does use a cellphone camera with limited resolution and angle of view; I would like to see what he could do with a “real” digital camera (at least 3 or 4 megapixels with a decent optical zoom).

Mac is a good sport. I’ve posted a few jokey comments at his blog and he has taken them in stride. At least there’s one person out there who can appreciate my offbeat humor. (Not to be confused with beat-off humor associated with cheesecake photos that –- never mind.)

With his writing endeavors Mac has succeeded to get two books published (unlike yours truly with zero books in print). Illumined Black And Other Adventures is a collection of short SF stories. One story that intrigues me is punishment by virtual reality: a criminal serves his sentence within his mind, five seconds passing as 500 years. Mac’s other tome is non-fiction: After The Martian Apocalypse speculates that Mars might have seen the rise and fall of an intelligent civilization that has left behind remains such as The Face.

So Mac has done well for someone who has lived on the wrong side of the tracks, i.e., the suburbs.
Blogspotter Profile: Paul Kimball

Since I started my site at Blogspot, I’ve notice that it’s like living in a new neighborhood. I’ve met a few interesting neighbors along the way, albeit online only. This is the first of a series of profiles about other Blogspotters who share my interest in the Uncommon and the Unusual.

Like uncle, like nephew.

With an UFO researcher in the family, it was obvious that Paul Kimball would find himself intrigued by the mysterious world of aerial phenomena. Paul does point out that he does have his differences of opinion with Stanton Friedman, but he still remains on good terms with his uncle. Too many in the UFO field with conflicting viewpoints can’t separate a person from opinion.

Paul prefers the term UFO researcher in regards to his interest. He doesn’t consider himself an ufologolist; there’s too much baggage associated with that word. He is the open-minded skeptic who doesn’t open his mind so far that his brain falls out.

Also, since UFO usually means “spaceship from another planet,” Paul prefers the neutral acronym UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena), but ends up using UFO anyway because one can only shift perceptions only a bit at a time.

At his blog, The Other Side Of Truth , Paul informs and entertains with all sorts of personal takes on various UAP-related subjects. Recently he has been running a series of articles about law cases involving UFOs, such as Dupas v. New Orleans: someone was scanning the night skies for strange objects when a police car hit him. (The police car, please note, had its headlights off. Isn’t it against the law to drive around without lights?)

Paul is qualified to seek and comment on such cases because of his background in law, being a member of the Nova Scotia Barristers Society. (Or maybe not. I’m assuming that he can’t sue me from his Halifax stomping grounds if I get any of this info wrong.) He’s mainly known as a documentary-film director-producer whose efforts include Stanton T. Friedman Is Real. (That’s a clever way to stay within budget: get the family involved.)

Upcoming documentaries are Fields of Fear, about cattle mutilations, and Best Evidence: The Top 10 UFO Cases (pretty much self-explanatory, eh?).

Unfortunately I’ve never seen one of Paul’s documentaries and probably never will since I don’t have cable TV. (Hint, hint.)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Double Dog Star Dare Ya!

As detailed in a previous post, I sent a copy of an article I found on the Web that I thought James Moseley, perpetrator of the zine Saucer Smear, might find to be of interest. It dealt with an X-ray of an injured duck that seemed to show an alien face within its gizzard. This shocking find was made by the staff at the International Bird Rescue Research Center in California.

After Moseley published his take on the item, he sent along another article about the same incident, this one written by Peter Fimrite of the San Francisco Chronicle. Moseley added this handwritten note:

“This version beats yours in one respect –- see third page. Unfortunately, I didn’t read that part of the story till it was too late to use it for “Smear.”

“I dare you to use it in your next issue. Wheee!

So here’s the paragraph that the Supreme Commander has dared me to print:

Unusual characteristics are commonly on display among male mallards during the spring mating season, according to Travers. [Maria Travers, assistant rehabilitation manager.] Their testicles, for instance, grow to three times the size of their brains, but they have never been known to sprout an alien head, she said.

Sorry, Supreme Commander, but I don’t regard that bit of duckism as being so shocking. Look at most human males. No, their testicles don’t grow three times the size of their brains, but they sure act that way.

Saucer Smear on the Web

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Worst Alien Story Of All Time?

Well, unlike James Moseley and his zine, Saucer Smear, I’ve never won any polls. Recently Supreme Commander Moseley’s zine was voted Best UFO Publication over at The Other Side Of Truth, Paul Kimball’s blog. So when someone recognizes me for a special achievement, I take note.

On occasion I pass along news items to Moseley; he’s always looking for oddball tidbits to pepper Saucer Smear. I sent him an article I found on the web about a bird rescue center in California that ended up with an intriguing X-ray from an injured duck. Part of the image seemed to form the face of an alien, right there in the misfortunate mallard’s gut. Apparently its last meal, corn and grit, settled in such a way to produce a large-eyed visage familiar to SF fans and UFO buffs.

The staff at the International Bird Rescue Center in Vallejo didn’t question its good – but weird – fortune. It has printed up t-shirts with the alien face accompanied by the words, “In space no one can hear you quack.” And the center also raised $9,600 by auctioning off the unique X-ray.

And so how did Mr. Moseley describe this paradigm-shifting incident?

He called it “perhaps the worst alien-related story of all time.”

I’m honored. My only regret is that I only passed along the story and didn’t write the article. So I really can’t crow about it. In the meantime I’m driven to find the worst alien-related article of all time, no “perhaps” about it. Maybe I was just a lucky ducky. If I don’t find another item for the birds soon, I’m afraid the stress will drive me quackers.

I’ll just have to trust my instincts and wing it.