Tag archive: Aliens
While the weary lamp-posts of the country already heave ‘neath the strain of alarmist, reductive, populist, faux-chummy, batshit and reactionary Yes/No posters, Libertas have just shown that there are still new depths to be plumbed…cranking the vomit-o-meter up to 11 (and a half).
The sun sets on a once proud democracy. Europhilic creatures of the night will soon crawl from their foul pits and stalk the land (cackling). God help us. God help her! Weep for Ireland, little one. Weep from your dazzling emerald green eyes. Weep those tears of radiant light. God willing, they might just hold back the dark.
For they mostly come at night. Mostly.
Many longish years ago, when I was but a young fella, I had (like many children) a number of persistent fears. The most dominant of these concerned, a) My parents untimely death, and, b) The catastrophic nuclear conflagration which seemed (in those heady days) terrifyingly imminent.
I well recall arriving in primary school one day (when I was about nine) clutching an alarming clipping snipped from the previous day’s paper. The news was not good. According to a well-known clairvoyant, nuclear Armageddon lay just around the corner – with 1985 being cited as the year in which hell and handbaskets would come (explosively) together.
He/She was quoted as saying (and I paraphrase) “There can be little doubt that this will come to pass”. As might be expected I reacted to this news by exhibiting that somber and intense anxiety peculiar to the very young. In my troubled mind’s eye I pictured not merely an irradiated global wasteland (bad and all as that was), but, rather, a planet blown (Krypton-like) to absolute smithereens. Needless to say, such a result would also realise fear (a)…as the chances of my parents surviving the total destruction of the earth were rather remote.
Upon reaching school I immediately sought out my brainiest and most self-assured pal. Given that he’d previously introduced a gobsmacked class to the (apparently deadly accurate) prophecies of Nostradamus I figured he’d be the perfect judge of the article’s reliability. Though undoubtedly clever and well-read he was not (alas) too hot in the reassurance stakes. As he scanned the clipping he tutted and shook his head sadly…his body language strongly implying the same grim message: “There can be little doubt that this will come to pass”.
Happily, the world did not come to an end in 1985 – a fact confirmed by a cursory glance glance out the study window. Yup – there it is – looking the very picture of robust health (global warming notwithstanding).
While the melancholic image of ICBMs crisscrossing the Irish skies as we stood and stared remained a potent one for many years, I don’t recall ever experiencing a fear of anything other than terrestrial threats. In other words, the notion of alien invasions and abductions simply didn’t feature on my childhood terror radar. The children of the 1950s and 1990s (fertile alien decades) may well have listed such scenarios among their catalogue of concerns, but for me the mushroom cloud, and not the almond Grey alien head, was the more nightmarish shape.
After this protracted introduction (and possible cries of “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus!) allow me to present today’s Manky Toy:
“Protect the Planet” we are urged. Something of an alarmist invocation considering that the pictured foe looks like little more than a harmlessly cute Manga version of Predator. Perhaps it’s merely that we live in a cultural climate of constantly exaggerated fears, but I’m not convinced by the apparent threat. Still…it doesn’t hurt to be prepared, and it’s in that spirit that I test the weapon provided.
Regardless of how minor the threat actually is, it’s probably safe to say that “soft foam” bullets are not necessarily the first tools planetary defenders would reach for. Further complicating the situation are the stern orders found on the reverse of the box:
These caveats, of course, seem decidedly at odds with those military tactics popularised by the likes of Starship Troopers (et al), where firing repeatedly at the face and eyes from point blank range seems like a very good idea indeed.
Ignoring these warnings (somewhat) I attempted to put the weapon through its paces, with an unsettling, humanoid, wooden zebra figure standing in for an invading alien:
Standing close enough to be considered a point blank shooter I took aim at the face and eyes and pulled the trigger. Away went the foam rocket toward its target before inexplicably (and wildly) veering off – looping worryingly back toward me before flying over my shoulder and coming to rest on top of the TV. With defensive technology like this the planet is, I’m sorry to say, totally fucked…
Actually the more I look at the weapon the more its design suggest an alien aesthetic. Could it be the product of reverse-engineering one wonders – the end result of scientific attempts to replicate captured alien weaponry? If so, it seems that the aliens are having the last laugh.
Thoroughly intriguing story in yesterday’s Guardian about a Mr. Barney Broom (of Gunthorpe, north Norfolk) discovering…well…what can best be described as a pickled model of a baby ‘grey alien’ in his loft. Yikes!
Mr. Broom was in the process of renovating the cottage he bought eight months ago when the bizarre discovery was made:
It was stuffed in the corner of the loft with other old newspapers. Before me, an old spinster lived in the house. I don’t think anybody had been up there for years. I haven’t got three heads and I’m not the sort of eccentric lunatic to think it’s an alien but it’s a funny thing to find in your loft.
Describing it as merely “a funny thing to find in your loft” is, in fairness, a hilariously restrained way of putting it.
The article continues:
The delicate 30cm (12 inch) figure of a baby alien is stored in a pungent liquid and has a US serial number painted on its four-toed foot. Possibly sculpted from a clay-like substance and painted grey, the model closely resembles the aliens depicted in a hoax film of an autopsy of the infamous “Roswell incident”.
Curiously, the alien was discovered stored in an old toffee jar wrapped in a copy of the Daily Mirror dating from October 1947. In July of that year, officials at the American air base of Roswell reported and then denied finding the remains of a flying saucer. The Roswell incident sparked a popular fascination with UFOs and led the US air force to collect data on sightings
1947 is, of course, not only famous (among ufologists) for the ‘Roswell Incident’, but it was also the year of Kenneth Arnold‘s seminal sighting of ‘Flying Saucers’ near Mount Rainier, Washington. The fact that the paper is dated thus seems a tad too convenient, as anyone with even a passing interest in the area would immediately register the date’s significance.
In addition, though the ‘grey alien’ has now become by far the most iconic and easily recognised representation of extraterrestrials, ‘greys’ don’t seem to have featured in UFO lore untill at least the mid-1960s:
Martin Kottmeyer claims that the origin of the contemporary appearance of Greys comes from the mask of the Bifrost alien (designed by Wah Ming Chang) from the “Bellero Shield” episode of the 1960s sci-fi TV-series “The Outer Limits”. Not long after the episode’s debut on February 10, 1964, according to the contactee reports, Greys seemed to suddenly acquire most of their characteristic features.
Wikipedia – “Greys”
The fact that Mr. Broom’s house is a mere “45 miles from two large US air bases at RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall”, and that, “Many US servicemen and women live and work in the region”, may be interpreted as significant by some…but it’s still hard to know what to make of the discovery.
If the object does indeed date back to 1947, then it demonstrates (at the very least) that the ‘grey alien’ image was doing the rounds long before it gained widespread recognition. Of course, if it’s a more recent hoax then it suggests that the hoaxer may have been unaware that greys are of a more contemporary vintage, and that they simply settled on 1947 as an evocative date. Either that or they were fully aware that a 1947 grey would appear anachronistic and cleverly anticipated that this ‘double bluff’ would, in fact, make the object seem more credible!
Anyway, the Guardian managed to get a terse “It’s a hoax” out of “a spokeswoman for the US air force”, a statement which, of course, will serve only to convince the more ‘paranoid’ UFO-fans out there that there’s far more to this than meets the eye….
In an idle moment last night I found myself browsing through some of the more neglected and forgotten volumes that adorn my bookcases.
Scanning the shelves, I quickly passed over categories like “Novels I’ve been meaning to read for years” and “Popular Science books whose content failed to match their jazzy covers”, before my eye (I only have one) finally came to rest on a mini section of aging paperbacks that speak of my interest in the…em…’esoteric’…
From the sober (and po-faced) UFO’s: A Scientific Debate (eds. Carl Sagan & Thornton Page), to the alarmingly entitled Somebody else is on the Moon (George Leonard), and on to the hubris and confidence of Philip J. Klass’s UFOs Explained, the dusty edges of the titles not only reflect my negligent housework, but also highlight a phenomenon that (now) seems decidedly dated…and rapidly disappearing over the horizon of the zeitgeist.
If Kenneth Arnold‘s famous sighting of ‘Flying Saucers’, coupled with the ‘Roswell Incident’ (both 1947), managed to set the modern obsession with UFOs in motion, then the turn of the millennium seems to have (almost) succeeded in bringing the phenomenon to a grinding halt. Or so it would appear…
I have no clear idea what publishing/sales figures are for UFO-themed literature, but my intuitive zeitgeist radar would hazard a guess that the 1990s (a period when conspiracist thinking, of all hues, reached a kind of zenith) was the most fruitful of decades for work of this sort. Much of the material published was, of course, of the lurid, bargain-basement, variety…with little ambition other than riding the X-Files cash cow in search of a quick buck.
The popularity of such literature may have been interpreted by some (Carl Sagan et al.) as reflecting a worrying slip toward ‘paranoia’ and ‘unreason’, but it can also be (convincingly) argued that readers in the 90s engaged with this material in a manner more playful (and knowing) than earnest and committed/convinced. After (at least) 50 years of exposure to UFO/Alien-themed cultural artefacts, it’s hardly surprising that ‘readers’ had become (reasonably) savvy and literate consumers of the ‘genre’.
A look back at some of the 70s publications on my shelves, however, reveals a more pragmatic (and in some ways charmingly ‘old-fashioned’) engagement with the subject. The Sagan edited volume (for example) is actually a collection of papers delivered to a symposium on UFOs sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (and published by W. W. Norton, by arrangement with Cornell University). The possibility of such an august gathering of serious scientists coming together for such a purpose would seem extremely improbable today.
The reasons for possible changes in attitude to the phenomenon are no doubt complex, but it seems to me that following the genesis of ‘Ufology’ in the 50s, and the development of (and serious engagement with) it in the 60s & 70s, the 90s could be seen to represent a period of over-satiation and ‘blow out’. Without wanting to appear excessively ‘decade-ist’, it’s not hard to speculate how a flooded book market, and an increasingly absurdist, dumbed-down (Sky/Fox) TV engagement might have led to a 90s implosion, followed by a 00s vacuum. Whatever the real reasons, the net result is a cultural phenomenon that appears (and that’s a key word) to have gone into hibernation.
Of course, it should be clear to most readers – especially in today’s news climate – that just because the ol’ mainstream media (such as it is) no longer pays much heed to a particular phenomenon/situation, it doesn’t necessarily follow that that which it ignores has ceased to be relevant or significant. Though the current fixation with ‘terror’ may seem to have pushed our extraterrestrial friends onto (and off of) the back pages, there’s no reason to assume that ‘ufology’ is not still being engaged with by passionate devotees. The 00s may have seen Greys (and their ilk) supplanted by far more human bogeymen, but the great wheel of cultural trends may spin back in an extraterrestrial direction before too long.
If nothing else, such a renaissance will give me a few more titles to gather dust on my bookshelves…