Ghosts and 'Greys'
When most people hear that I'm a paranormal investigator, their response is invariably, "Oh, you're a ghost hunter!". Well, that's true, but they could respond "UFO hunter" or "monster hunter" and be equally correct. The paranormal encompasses a heck of a lot more than dead people making return engagements, and a paranormal investigator's expertise should as well. Unfortunately, that has become more the exception than the rule.
In some ways, 'UFOlogy', the study of and search for Unidentified Flying Objects, is a much easier and less stressful branch of paranormal investigation. Unlike 'ghost hunting', UFO sightings rarely involve a close encounter with an otherworldly being, no less one in your home that is determined to stay. However, when they do, especially in the form of alleged alien abduction, things can get very stressful, not only for those involved, but the investigator as well. The reasons are fairly transparent, but one you may not know: while many believe UFOs are extraterrestrial in origin, much fewer find alien abduction believable. The leap from seeing a mysterious light in the sky to short, big-eyed gray dudes suddenly appearing at the foot of your bed to float you off for your proctology exam is huge. Tell someone you've seen a ghost and they'll probably tell you of their similar encounter. Tell someone you've been abducted and don't expect them to be quite as sympathetic.
Is Alien Abduction Real?
I don't know, but some cases I've investigated have been truly weird. While most do have many things in common, they are all unique and most definitely not slavishly torn from the pages of a book or Hollywood script as some with various agendas would have you believe. These encounters are notoriously difficult to investigate; even after those involved in an alleged abduction contact me, they still find it very difficult to talk about. It's almost as if they sense that if they tell, 'they' will punish them in some way. It's a very dark and foreboding fear, and is a common thread in all such cases. For those reasons and the more obvious, I believe these incidents, real or imagined, are woefully underreported.
National Geographic Channel is one of the few classy destinations on basic cable television, much as the magazine has been in print media since 1888. While the channel has acquiesced somewhat to market realities in recent years and offered programming that is decidedly more sensational, it has always remained, more or less, true to its namesake. Until now.
Chasing UFOs (Fridays 10pm) is a highly-hyped, blatant attempt to cash in on the popularity of this branch of paranormal investigation. Is that necessarily a bad thing? No; even the magazine has occasionally featured the phenomenon in past issues. The problem is the show is unnecessarily dreadful. And derivative. Think of it as Ghost Hunters but with UFOs instead of dead people or, more accurately, Destination Truth without the fun or personality and with UFOs instead of cryptids or dead people. Or a Destination Truth and (canceled) UFO Hunters hybrid with UFOs but without the fun, personality, cryptids or dead people. Are you starting to get the picture? In any event, Nat Geo could have and should have done much better, and Chasing UFOs is the perfect example of why all the expensive, 'gee whiz' technology in the world does not a good television program make. We've seen everything Chasing UFOs has to offer before only, in most cases, done much better.
The show utilizes the 'team' approach, with three members: Ben McGee, Physical Scientist (the "skeptic"), Erin Ryder, Tech and Recon (the "skeliever", whatever the hell that means, who pulls double-duty as a Destination Truth cast member) and James Fox, UFOlogist (the "believer"). Of these, only Fox can honestly claim a background in investigation of the UFO phenomenon, having produced two excellent documentaries/movies on the subject, Out of the Blue and I Know What I Saw. Now that we have all the bases covered, running the gamut between skeptic and believer (and have now probably figured out what a 'skeliever' is), let's get to the 'chemistry' between the team members. Thud. While individually they may be interesting people and the life of the party, collectively they seem to be on life support. All the obligatory mini-cliffhangers and teases before commercial breaks can't revive this interplanetary snoozefest. In the words of the law enforcement officer that urges people on when they're gawking at a car wreck: "Move on people, there's nothing to see here".
"He's Cheating Us!"
You may have noticed that I've combined the June and July editions of The Booo Blog!. I'd like to say it was because I'm busy (I am), but the real reason? I got incredibly lazy! Sometimes you just have to chill and enjoy the nice weather...which in New England lasts about two weeks. I promise to do better.
Finally, I'd like to thank Mark Henry, host of Edge of the Unknown on WECK 102.9 in Buffalo, New York for having me on his show. No, the signal doesn't reach us here in Boston, but the show does stream live on the station's website Sunday nights 9:00-12:00. You can click here to listen to the June 24, 2012 podcast. Check it out; always fun, interesting and entertaining!
That's it for now, and remember...watch the skies!
Chasing UFOs, Friday, July 6, 2012: Feeling that I may have been too hasty to judge Chasing UFOs, basing my opinion on only the first episode, I decided to give the program another chance. Tonight's episode featured the ubiquitous 'Romanek video', which has been bouncing around the Internet for several years. In the highly unlikely chance that you haven't seen it, Stan Romanek is a gentleman in Colorado who claims to have recorded a 'grey' alien popping its head up to look through his bedroom window, an image that could have very easily been hoaxed. The video has been analyzed backwards, forwards, upside down and sideways by experts and amateurs alike. The overwhelming consensus? It is, indeed, a hoax, and not a very clever one at that.
Enter our fearless trio, presenting this almost as a new find, hoping the casual viewer won't realize that it's only the zillionth time it's been featured on similar programs. Break out the infrared 'night vision' cameras! Let's 'go green' and get to the bottom of this 'mystery'! Hopefully the viewer will stick around to see if we caught another a glimpse of 'Mr. Grey'! And, guess what? They do! The teaser before the last commercial break showing him dutifully appearing in the very same window. Yup, we've hooked the viewer now! They won't dare touch that remote! Following the break, we find out what we thought may have been the video capture of the century was in actuality Ben McGee holding an alien mask up to the window. Our fearless trio then have a good laugh...a good laugh at the expense of the viewer. "This is what I was gullible enough to stay tuned to this crappy show for?", I thought. At that moment, I understood how a viewer could have felt cheated and taken advantage of; no program should take its audience for granted. And, at that moment, I also realized my initial assessment of the program was actually much too kind.
Chasing UFOs is pure garbage, and gives serious investigation and study of the phenomenon a bad rap. Perhaps McGee and Ryder can be forgiven, as they only seem to be along for the ride. However, James Fox has no excuse; serious investigators don't get involved with this type of fluff. Oh, and in case you're wondering...our fearless trio also believe the Romanek video to be a hoax. Congratulations! You've avoided wasting one hour of your life that you would never recoup to learn something a few second Google search would have told you years ago.
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