Tag Archives: aliens

197 – The Octopus from Outer Space: Panspermia and Ancient Aliens

Our paranormal universe was all abuzz this week when a paper signed by 33 scientists called “The Cambrian Explosion: Terrestrial or Cosmic” suggested that not only the incredible biodiversity of life that burst forth in that ear was because Earth was being blitzed by massive clouds of organic molecules from space, but it presented the theory that the octopus might have come to Earth as frozen eggs cryopreserved in some celestial body that landed in the ocean.

I dunno why anyone thinks they’re aliens…

Their specialties like camouflage flexible bodies appear suddenly in the evolutionary record 270 million years ago, so much so that scientists suggested that they were too advanced for the time they developed in. They suggest that it is a possibility that they developed on another planet and then some eggs somehow made it to earth.

They have personalities, can use tools, learn by watching others, treat humans that they know differently than humans that they don’t, and are generally considered the most intelligent of any of the invertebrates. Author Peter Godfrey-Smith wrote a book on those flex-y little buggers and said:

“If we can make contact with cephalopods as sentient beings, it is not because of a shared history, not because of kinship, but because evolution built minds twice over.”

Awwww, what a cute little moss piglet!

So, how is that even possible? Space is a vacuum and it’s like, really frickin’ cold, man. Whenever I see it in movies, people can only last like 30 seconds out there before their head blows up or their eyes bug out. How would anything survive out there? Well, we can’t. But microbes and bacteria can. And there’s a microscopic creature called a tardigrade (or a water bear or also, a <barf> moss piglet) that can survive in a vacuum for up to 10 days and hibernate in the freeze and be revived after thirty years!

The theory that life on Earth might have come from outer space is called Panspermia which means “seeds everywhere”. Microbes picked up as asteroids bang into other planets and then crash into other planets, like ours. It’s a theory that was first suggested in the 1970s (and one of those proponents was also a signer on the recent “octopi from space” study) and it’s plausible. If microbes can live in space, maybe the building blocks of life on Earth crash-landed here a billion years ago to evolve into us.

Now, that idea doesn’t even sound that outrageous. It’s still just evolution, even if the original microbes that kicked it into full gear were from another planet, but Hollywood of course has moved that to the next level. Dozens of movies and TV shows now have posited that our evolution was directed by some extraterrestrial intelligence. From 2001: A Space Odyssey to Stargate to Prometheus to my personal favorite, Five Million Years To Earth, the idea that little green men have been messing with us has been around for decades.

In this conversation, we cover:

  • Battlestar Galactica relate to Mormonism
  • The correct way we should all be pronouncing the title of Chariots of the Gods?
  • Why octopi probably aren’t actually from space
  • Did Charles Fort believe in ancient aliens?
  • What does the NASA “Planetary Protection Officer” do?
  • How humanity is planning on testing our own Panspermia theories on other planets

In this episode we talk about the classic British serial Quatermass and the Pit that became the Hammer Horror classic film, Five Million Years to Earth, so for this episode we’re breaking out one of our oldest tracks. We recorded this track on our first trip to a recording studio all the way back in the mid-90s (which shows how long we’ve been writing songs with paranormal influences!)  Here is Sunspot with the very rare track (only on our original demotape!), “Bleed Me Free”!

I’ve got a dirty little secret,
I’m hiding right inside your purse.
I am falling down a deep pit,
Five million years to earth.
I know that it’s not easy for you,
But don’t think that you’re easy on me.
One thousand years in Purgatory,
Might help me bleed it out.

Everybody down.

I’m in a brain-dead nightmare,
Living both sides of a split-screen.
I’ve washed my hands over and over,
But they are still not clean.
I lost equilibrium,
Between purity and vice.
One thousand fishhooks in my eyes,
might help me bleed it out.

Everybody down.

Humours out of balance,
A tortured sanguine frenzy.
Pain is just another addiction,
It can never bleed me free.
Joined at the hip with a psychopath,
Looking in from another reality.
I gave myself a lobotomy,
But only the truth can bleed me free.

Everybody down.

I know that it’s not easy for you,
But don’t think that you’re easy on me.
One thousand years in Purgatory,
Might help me bleed it out.

Everybody down.

192 – The Nightmare: Incubi, Succubi, and the Demons of Sleep Paralysis

If you’ve ever experienced sleep paralysis, you know it’s not a laughing matter. You wake up to find yourself with a pressure on your chest, surrounded by nightmare creatures, and you can’t move. Sleep paralysis can make you question reality, after all, your dreams are showing up in your waking life. They are having a physical effect on you. No wonder that for millennia they’ve showed up in cultures all over the world. It’s the kind of thing that you write songs about!

Canadian filmmaker Adam Grey was so terrified by his Old Hag experience that he made a movie on it with his brother called The Nightmare (and we interviewed them about their film back in episode 59). Dr. Martin Walsh was in Zanzibar when a legendary succubus-like creature known as the Popo Bawa was terrifying the African island back in the 1990s (and we interviewed him about that in episode 133). There have been dozens of names across cultures for the creatures they blame for causing nightmares.

In Mesopotamia and early Jewish writing, they were the Lillin. In Hmong culture, it is the tsog tsuam (which was killing men as recently as the 1980s.) The word “mare” in nightmare isn’t supposed to be a horse, but actually a little goblin that sits on your chest. In the Middle Ages, these night terrors were associated with sexual assault. The succubus would have sex with men while they slept while the incubus would attack women. Various demonologies of the time even suggested that since the spawn of the Devil couldn’t get you pregnant, the succubus could steal the semen of a man and have the incubus plant it in a woman to create an evil child.

One of the aliens from Communion

My own experience with sleep paralysis wasn’t sexual, but it certainly was a waking nightmare. It happened the same week I was going to start junior high school in 1989. I hadn’t seen the Communion move yet, but I’d been looking at the face of the grey alien in checkout lines at the grocery store for years at that point. I was young but I knew it had to do with alien abduction.

I had long experienced nightmares, night terrors, and some light sleepwalking. That’s one of the reasons that I was interested in lucid dreaming from a very young age (we talk about that as well as some lucid dreaming techniques in episode 2), I was hoping to conquer the demons that stalked my dreamworld. Plus, you had movies like Dreamscape telling you that if you die in a dream you die in real life. I knew I had to figure out a way to stop these guys.

That week I had checked out Communion from the local library, I wanted to see what the fuss was about for myself. It was an interesting enough book, not as scary as I thought it would be, but one of the things that he talks about is sleep paralysis. In the book, he mentions that waking up he could be trapped in a hypnopompic trance. Hypnopompia is the state when you move from dreaming to waking and sometimes you can experience a hallucination like you were still dreaming. Except your muscles are still paralyzed from being asleep.

I had never heard of that before and just the idea of it terrified me. Even if it was still just a dream, the idea that the monsters from my nightmare could visit me in  real life, like when Nancy pulls Freddy Krueger into the physical world in the original A Nightmare On Elm Street was a pants-pooping proposition.

So what happens? Two days before school starts, I’m reading in bed while a strange light fills my bedroom wall, filtered out by the curtain from the window. My room was the one that faced the street and I thought it might be a car backing up into our driveway and pulling out, but I don’t hear the car and we live in a rural area where cars very infrequently come by. And we had a long driveway, for the lights to get into the room, they’d have to come up a bit because they would have been blocked out by the woods between the street and the house. Anyway, both my parents were home so it wasn’t one of their cars. Who was it? I don’t know, by the time I got the courage to go to the window there wasn’t any car there. But it planted a seed in my head, as silly as I thought it was at the time, that it was like a spaceship was landing out there.

And that was it. I wasn’t really scared as much as I let my imagination run a little bit wild and thought that I was being ridiculous. So, I went to sleep, fully knowing that tonight was the night that I would need to get rest because you can never sleep before the first day of school.

I woke up a few hours later in my darkened room and I couldn’t move. When I opened my eyes I saw a group of white faces in a semi-circle around my bed and they were looking down at me. The faces were triangular with almond-shaped eyes just like on the cover of Communion. The feeling was sheer terror (something that I was used to after waking up from so many nightmares) and I knew that the light I saw really was an alien ship. They’ve come for me just like they came for Barney and Betty Hill and just like they came for Whitley Streiber and his son. After a few seconds until the faces disappeared and I could move again.  The fear subsided and I realized that I experienced exactly what Streiber was talking about in the book, a hypnopompic trance.

There wasn’t any other signs of abduction. I didn’t have any missing time and I didn’t feel any strange pains or anything. My familiarity with bad dreams made me realize that it was all in my head. I certainly wasn’t enchanted by the possibility that this could be a regular occurrence though, like my near daily nightmares.

However, I was lucky and it wasn’t regular. I don’t remember ever experiencing it to that extent again. Some people however, aren’t so lucky, and they experience these hypnogogic (while they’re falling asleep) or hypnopompic trances (while they’re waking up) several times a week.

Now, while I read a couple of classic prayers from the Middle Ages on the podcast meant to protect you from nightmares (in a completely horrible accent too!), there are a couple of modern devotions (written in the 21st Century!) about protecting yourself from sexual assault by an incubus or succubus. You might want to check out the “Prayer Against The Sexual Demons of the Night” or this guide to how to handle if you get attacked by a “lust demon” (or you just have a wet dream.)

But if you’re interested in something a little more reasonable, there’s been some scientific research in the past few years in how to handle sleep paralysis in a more modern way. In fact, they use phantom limb pain research to help understand why the brain feels what it feels. Dr. Baland Jalal has developed a technique called “Meditation-Relaxation Therapy” that is a practice designed to help regular sleep paralysis sufferers to get some kind of relief. You can read part of his scientific paper on it here, but also here are the four steps:

  1. Reappraisal of the meaning of the attack – Remember that you’re in bed, you’re still sleeping. You cannot die from a  nightmare, no matter what Dennis Quaid learned in Dreamscape.
  2. Psychological and emotional distancing – Try not to be afraid. It’s just your REM activity. Remember your dreams can’t hurt you.
  3. Inward focused-attention meditation – Go to your happy place. For real, conjure up a nice memory. It helps.
  4. Muscle relaxation -Don’t fight, don’t move, it only makes it worse. You’ll react poorly to being paralyzed and you’ll freak out (I did.)

Now, this isn’t something you’re going to remember every time something  like this happens to you, but for regular sufferers of sleep paralysis, this practice is a place to start. And it’s great that we’re doing something besides trying to make people pray for forgiveness because they used to like Bluegrass music!


the nightmare
Here’s a still from another movie called The Nightmare about sleep paralysis

One of the things we talk about in the podcast is the William Shatner movie called Incubus filmed in 1966 that’s completely shot in Esperanto (a universal language invented in the Nineteenth Century for proto-hippie peace and love reasons.) You can watch the whole thing on youTube (for now at least) right here:

For the song this week, we unearthed a Sunspot track inspired by a succubus. “Goodbye Good Guy” uses a little bit of the bedtime imagery to talk about what you have to do to get rid of someone who is ruining your life. Sometimes you have to change who you are to become who you want to be, and it’s not usually pretty.

Sometimes the strength in me builds up,
But fails me when you cry,
I’m not a heartless bastard,
But you’ve driven me to dispossession.

I wanted things this way,
That thought was never left unsaid.
But hey Pinocchio,
How your nose will grow,
When you scream at the back of my head.

Goodbye good guy,
Wipe the cobwebs from my eyes,
This time I’m doing it just for me.
Goodnight sleep tight,
I hope all the bed bugs bite,
I’m sick of cleaning up your debris.

You know I wanted this,
And I created this,
Well I made my bed I’ll lie in it.

I put my heart on hold,
Hoping that you’d hang up.
I’m in suspended animation,
Waiting on a give-up.

I wanted things this way,
That thought was never left unsaid.
But hey Pinocchio,
How your nose will grow,
When you scream at the back of my head.

Goodbye good guy,
Wipe the cobwebs from my eyes,
This time I’m doing it just for me.
Goodnight sleep tight,
I hope all the bed bugs bite,
I’m sick of cleaning up your debris.

You know I wanted this,
And I created this,
Well I made my bed I’ll lie in it.

I wanted things this way,
That thought was never left unsaid.
But hey Pinocchio,
How your nose will grow,
When you scream at the back of my head.

Goodbye good guy,
Wipe the cobwebs from my eyes,
This time I’m doing it just for me.
Goodnight sleep tight,
I hope all the bed bugs bite,
I’m sick of cleaning up your debris.

Goodbye good guy,
Wipe the cobwebs from my eyes,
This time I’m doing it just for me.
Goodnight sleep tight,
I hope all the bed bugs bite,
I’m sick of cleaning up your debris.

You know I wanted this,
And I created this,
Well I made my bed I’ll lie in it.

182 – Saucer State: A Unified UFO Theory with Paul Cornell

Working in TV, comics, and novels, writer Paul Cornell has created stories for some of the greatest fictional characters of all time. Doctor Who to Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes to Batman. He’s a Hugo award winner, has a podcast about Hammer Horror Films, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of UFO lore and mythology. Paul and artist Ryan Kelly have used that knowledge in an original creation that brings the most UFO lore I’ve ever seen in one place, the critically acclaimed comics, Saucer Country and Saucer State. 

Focusing on Arcadia Alvarez, the Mexican-American governor of New Mexico and Democratic presidential candidate, Saucer Country is all about her possible alien abduction experience and the strange events that occur around her candidacy. All along, they recount stories from real UFO lore like George Adamski’s visits with Venusians, mystery airships from the 19th Century, Betty and Barney Hill, and much more.

The sequel, Saucer State, is all about what happens once Governor Alvarez becomes President Alvarez, and the collected edition has just been released.  From Jefferson Airplane to the Pioneer plaque, the references come fast and furious and besides Taken, the Steven Spielberg-produced SciFi channel mini-series from 2002, this is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a “unified theory” of UFO mythology, a fictional story that ties everything together.

In this interview, you’ll learn all about the real UFO lore that inspired Paul Cornell to write Saucer State and Saucer Country. We even cover a little bit of ghosts and fairies as well.

If you’re interested in learning more about Paul, including links to his works, please check out his website right here.

And we thoroughly recommend Saucer State, this is the fictional work that’s putting Tom Delonge’s Sekret Machines to shame! He even promises that unlike another fictional property that uses real life UFO mythology as an influence in 2018 (ahem, Mr. Carter), there is an ending in mind and the story will be completed in the next volume.

pioneer 10
The Message on the Pioneer 10

One of the groups vying for power that we talk about in Saucer State are the Bluebirds, who take an extremely materialist view toward the UFO phenomenon, an approach that they call “Nuts and Bolts”.

see the light, don’t close your eyes
go to sleep, you’re paralyzed
somewhere the dreams and memories mix
and our little friends are playing tricks

a violation of our sentience
Like the old hag sits on your chest
when they put you into program mode,
don’t think that you’re a guest.

Nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and

Wet machines with lucid dreams
Are we just hardware under the seams?
When you feed your head with magic beans
Will we find out who’s behind the scenes?

a violation of our sentience
Like the old hag sits on your chest
when they put you into program mode,
don’t think that you’re a guest.

Nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and

Wet machines with lucid dreams
Are we just hardware under the seams?
When you feed your head with magic beans
Will we find out who’s behind the scenes?

148 – UFOs: Reframing The Debate Part 1 with Robbie Graham and Mike Clelland

Last time we talked with Robbie Graham, he had just released Silver Screen Saucers, a brilliant tome on how Hollywood and UFOlogy have influenced each other over the past 70 years. In the meantime, Robbie’s star has quickly risen in the UFO field (or is just the planet Venus?) thanks to his thorough research and an academic approach.

His latest endeavor, UFOs: Reframing The Debate is a collection of essays written by some of the greatest modern UFO researchers, bloggers, and even skeptics. It features some of our favorite former See You On The Other Side guests like Joshua Cutchin and Ryan Sprague as well as great podcaster Micah Hanks, and even Canada’s leading “UFO guy, eh” Chris Rutkowski.

With thirteen (of course!) essays, there is plenty to agree with, disagree with, things to make you mad, things to make you think, and lots to learn.

One of the contributors to the book, Mike Clelland, is the blogger behind Hidden Experiences and the author of The Messengers: Owls, Synchronicity, and The UFO Abductee. He’s not only a researcher into the field, he’s an experiencer as well and he and Robbie both join the discussion (along with Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts) as we do some deep diving into why we need to rethink everything we think we know about the UFO phenomenon.

That’s one of the reasons we wanted to split this podcast up. It seemed like the conversation naturally moved halfway through and we wanted to make sure that we gave each topic the thought space that they deserved. The first thing for me that changed the way I feel about UFOs was the concept of “high strangeness”.

No, high strangeness isn’t the lost Cheech & Chong movie, it’s a phrase from the great UFO researcher and Project Blue Book leader, Dr. J. Allen Hynek. He used it to describe the absurd and surreal nature of the phenomenon. And people use that term now to describe how once they’ve seen a UFO, their lives change and they start seeing weird stuff in their life all the time. Mike Clelland illustrates the point with several of his stories, as he has been collecting them for years on his blog, as well as having a few experiences of his own (like seeing gray aliens outside his window, missing time as a teenager, etc…)

You see a UFO, then you might see Bigfoot, then you might start experiencing poltergeist activity. It’s like that original sighting opens the door to everything paranormal. But why would that be?

I always thought the people who have more than one kind of experience made them sound even more unbelievable, ya know? The higher the number of experiences, the higher the chance of crazy. But so many people report more than just the UFO sighting. As Mike says in his essay:

Life, death, sex, dreams,spirituality, psychic visions, genetics, expanded consciousness, mind-control, channelling,mysticism, miraculous healings, out-of-body experiences, hybrid children, personal transformation, powerful synchronicity, portals in the backyard, distorted time, telepathy,prophetic visions, trauma, ecstasy, and magic. It’s as if our brains just aren’t big enough todeal with the overload of so much weirdness.

And that made me reconsider my assumptions on aliens, that they’re just interplanetary travelers (albeit with a taste for experimenting on the wildlife) and that it’s purely a physical materialist happening, something we can understand with our current models of the universe. But I’m stuck in the 90s X-Files/Independence Day conspiracy mode of thinking, when the new evidence points to what might be an even weirder explanation, almost like Twin Peaks. Indeed, the owls might not be what they seem. (And the Richard Jones evil doppelgänger story from Kansas last week certainly made me think of the denizens of The Black Lodge!)

But that’s the idea of the book, to challenge your former beliefs, to find room in the UFO tent for perspectives ranging from materialist to spiritual to hallucinatory to anywhere in between. We’re talking about a field where even the best evidence is scoffed at (and we’ll be talking about the importance of skepticism in Part 2 next week) so to advance the study of UFOs we’re going to have to be ready to embrace opposing points of view something too often avoided in the Internet Age, because a friendly perspective, the easy path, is only a click away.

Click here to grab UFOs: Reframing The Debate new book on Amazon.

Now after seventy years of flying saucers, to change people’s entrenched beliefs on the weirdness that we’re seeing in the skies is no easy task, you might say it’s “Sisyphean”, the mythical Greek King who was damned to eternally roll a boulder up a hill as a punishment for his defiance of the gods (he was always tricking them!) So, we thought that our Sunspot track, “Sisyphus’ Rock” might be the perfect capper to the first part of our epic discussion.

Like Sisyphus and his rock,
I roll our love up a great hill.
Hoping for a chance to reach the summit.
And as the gods of thunder bowl,
I watch the light show in the sky.
But you are frozen, terrified, and weakened.

I know the reasons for your actions.
I know you’ll answer for your tears.
But who will ever be my rock?
when you decide you’re on your own,
and I still draw you rainbows in the night.

I would steal fire from the gods,
if I thought it’d make you smile.
I’d sacrifice my liver for your heart.
Look out in Hades down below,
because I’ll not look back this time.
Now I’m armed with Schwarzenegger, two gats, and a nine.

You’re the Achilles’ Heel of my soul.
Yours is the only pain I know.
But little angel don’t you fear,
when you felt me you fell from grace.
But we are all Immortals in the end.

I will decline Pandora’s Box,
but I think I’ll see what’s in yours.
I’m clawing for the hope that’s at the bottom.
I’ll fight off snakes on Gorgons’ heads,
and I’ll take thunderbolts for you.
But please don’t leave my whispers to myself.

But angel don’t you ever fear,
when you felt me you fell from grace.
But we are all Immortals in the end.

140 – The Phoenix Lights: Revisiting The Most Famous UFO Sighting In The World

With the new film, The Phoenix Forgotten coming out this weekend, we thought it was the right time to reconsider The Phoenix Lights. On March 13th, 1997, an estimated ten thousand people saw a UFO over the Phoenix skyline.

The new movie is a found-footage Blair Witch-style film produced by sci-fi movie favorite, Ridley Scott, that takes the plot of three teenagers who were witnesses to the phenomenon, go out in the mountains to investigate it, and then disappear. The idea is that they bring along a video camera (no camera phones or YouTube in 1997!) and the videotape is later discovered.

So, cool premise for a film, but what did people actually see on that Thursday night in 1997? Well, the original sighting began in Henderson, Nevada, a town right outside Las Vegas. That report was of a V-shaped object that had six lights at the leading edge and it was traveling southeast. It was then reported in several towns between Henderson and Phoenix, with Phoenix being the place where it was reported the most.

Also, people were reporting two different kinds of events as well. One was the boomerang type spacecraft that would eventually be what the Phoenix Lights is most known for. They said that it blocked out the stars as it passed overhead, with some people claiming that it was nearly a mile across (while the original Henderson, Nevada sighting claimed to only be the size of 747.) These were primarily reported in Prescott, Arizona but no known footage was taken of it there. Later in June of that year, *USA Today *would run a photo on its front page reporting the story, and that computer-generated recreation of the sighting would become the most famous image associated with the phenomenon.

phoenix lights

The second event was a set of nine lights that appeared to hover over the city at 10pm and that’s what’s been covered the most because of the famous video footage that was taken that night. The lights seemed to disappear behind a mountain range and no explanation was given.

The governor of Arizona, Fife Symington III, even talked about the lights in a press conference not too long after. He said that they “found the culprit” and brought out a cabinet member in an alien costume as a joke. The authorities didn’t treat it seriously, even while thousands of people reported the sighting and the story ended up being picked up by the national news networks in July, after the USA Today story ran.

phoenix lights

The lack of immediate response from the government allowed for people to start speculating themselves and Dr. Lynne Katei has become the most famous investigator into the phenomenon. She connects it to earlier UFO sightings in the area as well as a missing time experience that she had with her husband and wrote a book and released a documentary on the Phoenix Lights.

Since the initial sightings, debunkers have claimed that the first event was merely the Maryland Air National Guard in the are running winter exercises, and the second was the flares that they dropped as part of those exercises. Who knows why they decided not to tell everyone at the time? Since air traffic control records are usually cleared every two weeks if there’s no incident, there’s no hard copy to verify the claim. Only the word of government sources. But the lights were on the news that night, why did they wait?

Governor Fife Symington III, who originally made fun of the event in 1997, has an explanation. He didn’t want to panic the fine people of Arizona and he was afraid if they took the event too seriously, that’s what would have happened. In fact, he now claims that he saw the boomerang shaped UFO over Phoenix that night as well and that the investigation should be re-opened. He even called it “otherworldly”, so why did he change his tune ten years later?

There hasn’t been an explanation yet that satisfied all the people who witnessed The Phoenix Lights, so the mystery endures twenty years later.

On a related entertainment note, a different found footage movie about the Phoenix Lights called The Phoenix Incident came out in 2015 and they tried a different kind of marketing campaign than The Phoenix Forgotten. While I think the marketing at SXSW this year where they recreated The Phoenix Lights with drones over Austin was awesome, The Phoenix Incident tried using viral marketing in a more nefarious way.

Number one, they did an anonymous report to MUFON of a 60-year old man who claims to have seen an alien the night of the lights. This was later picked up by Cryptozoology News and reported on as a news story as well as someone reading the report into YouTube over footage from the real Phoenix Lights. Then, the director of the film does interviews claiming that his film is telling the truth with tying into a “missing persons” case from that night. They try to tie the false missing persons case to the Heaven’s Gate cult as well to further exploit the “real-life connections”.

It’s a pretty clever way to get attention for your film, but at the same time it’s damaging to the field of UFOlogy (just take this forum post from Above Top Secret for proof of people missing the fictional aspect of it) and it’s another case where they’re capitalizing on innocent people’s beliefs and natural curiosity in an event witnessed by thousands, just so that they can try to sell more tickets (I have this same issue with Tom DeLonge’s book, Sekret Machines saying that it’s fact masquerading as fiction.)

When you’re dealing with the paranormal, the lines between reality and fantasy are already blurred and mixing them further to make a little money might be good marketing but it’s bad humanity. Whether you believe in extraterrestrials or not, any time you mess with the truth for personal gain fouls it up for the rest of us.

This week’s Sunspot track takes a different tack on what the UFO was doing flying over Phoenix. Unlike The Phoenix Forgotten or The Phoenix Incident, maybe these aliens just came to Las Vegas to have a good time on a little St. Patrick’s getaway, partied too hard (because that can happen to anyone in that town), and got lost on the way home. Just saying that maybe they didn’t mean any harm, they just don’t get the same kind of fun on their homeworld. Anyway, take a listen to “The Ballad of The Phoenix Lights”.

They came down to Sin City,
For a St. Patty’s Day party
But things were far from pretty,
they started drinking too early.

They hailed from a world that was dry,
a real cosmic bore.
These boys just wanted to get high,
and maybe even score.

So they hid their ship and hit the strip,
didn’t miss a casino,
And they left a trail of wreckage
from the Luxor to the Flamingo.

When the aliens finally showed up,
they did not come to destroy,
No hellfire blaze or cosmic rays,
they came to here to enjoy
the good life that they couldn’t get
on a world beyond the black,
These spacemen just like to party,
are we gonna send them back?

Their foreign livers couldn’t process,
All the booze they did consume,
and the MIBs said they had to leave,
before they trashed their hotel room.

They stumbled back to their ship
grabbed the wheel with one eye closed,
But they took off way too fast,
and then got lost on the way home.

They thought they set the course for their world
and went southeast instead,
the driver said that he was fine,
but he was messed out of his head.

When the aliens finally showed up,
they did not come to destroy,
No hellfire blaze or cosmic rays,
they came to here to enjoy
the good life that they couldn’t get
on a world beyond the black,
These spacemen just like to party,
are we gonna send them back?

When they finally got to Phoenix,
well, it made quite a scene,
Ten thousand people saw their lights,
they knew it couldn’t be a dream.

Mericopa County had a Sheriff Joe
he saw the craft with his own eyes,
he knew he had to pull them down
Intergalactic DUI.

He tracked them down by the mountain range,
And they didn’t try to run,
‘License and registration’ he said
’You boys have had your fun.

You see this rock ain’t for aliens,
specially trouble like y’all,
This planet’s for humans only
I’m gonna kick you off our ball.’

When the aliens finally showed up,
they did not come to destroy,
No hellfire blaze or cosmic rays,
they came to here to enjoy
the good life that they couldn’t get
on a world beyond the black,
These spacemen just like to party,
are we gonna send them back?

The driver cried almond eye tears,
and Joe felt a touch of mercy,
Maybe I shouldn’t be so tough,
Maybe these things are just like me.

So he didn’t blast them back to space,
So they didn’t have to run.
And now they’re being poked and prodded,
in Area 51!

When the aliens finally showed up,
they did not come to destroy,
No hellfire blaze or cosmic rays,
they came to here to enjoy
the good life that they couldn’t get
on a world beyond the black,
These spacemen just like to party,
Now they’re never going back
These spacemen just wanted better,
now they’re never going back.
They just wanted a better life,
and they’re never going back!

134 – Game Over, Man: Remembering Bill Paxton

When  Bill Paxton passed away on February 26th, 2017 at the way too young age of 61, we just knew we had to talk about him. Sure, the TV news might talk about his HBO show, Big Love or when he headlined the storm chaser classic, Twister,  but he was a huge presence in so many fantastic science fiction and horror movies. His legacy of performances adding color and fun to huge blockbusters and adding gravitas and real character to B-movies meant that I’d never turn the channel when he was on the screen.

For this episode, Wendy Lynn and I are joined by our friend, author and screenwriter, Mark O’Connell, as well as the always effervescent Allison Jornlin from Milwaukee Ghosts.

For those of us growing up in the early 80s, we knew him before we probably even realized it. He directed and starred in the video for “Fish Heads” which was a classic from the experimental film days of Saturday Night Live (and if you have “Fish heads, fish heads, roly poly fish heads” stuck in your head right now, you’re welcome.)

He was a special kind of jerk in Weird Science, he gets offed by The Terminator at the Griffith Park Observatory in the beginning of that film, and he’s a highlight of arguably the greatest vampire film since Murnau’s Nosferatu, Kathryn Bigelow’s 1987 Near Dark. His most famous role for many people, though, is undoubtedly Aliens‘ ill-fated hysterical Colonial Marine William Hudson with the motormouth and negative attitude.

All these things are what you’re going to find in other remembrances of the actor, from the movie geek sites to the entertainment magazines. For our episode, we wanted to talk with Mark O’Connell, who had a movie script that Bill was aiming to direct in the late 90s.

Mark’s script was called Doug and Dave, and it was based on the true story of two older British guys who claimed to be behind the United Kingdom’s Crop Circle phenomena. They said that it was all a hoax that they would do in the middle of the night after knocking back a few pints at the local. It was shortly after that they were denounced as hoaxers themselves and made up the story for the ten thousand pound fee they got from a magazine for telling the story. Paxton loved Mark’s script and wanted to direct it as his first feature film.

Unfortunately, the producer couldn’t get the funds together for the movie, so eventually Paxton went on to direct the thriller Frailty, a dark, moody, and often disturbing film about a Texas family that “murders” demons that look just like regular people.

A few years later, Mark gets a call out of the blue and Bill Paxton tried again to get the film off the ground. While the movie never happened, Mark tells a personal story of working with the actor and the energy, attitude, and the excitement of trying to move a film out of “Development Hell” to a movie theater near you.

Then Allison remembers her own Bill Paxton story of how she visited the Hotel Chequamegon in Ashland, Wisconsin because it was reportedly haunted. Ashland is a tiny tourist town in Northern Wisconsin and it’s where Sam Raimi (the man that gave us Evil Dead as well as two great Spider-Man films) took his cast and crew to make the film-noir A Simple Plan in the late 90s.

Well, it starred Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton and they stayed at the Hotel Chequamegon during the filming. According to the staff, both actors told the front desk that they had scene a mysterious woman in Victorian clothing roaming the halls and vanishing and had asked for their rooms to be moved.

So, not only do we get a personal tale of working with Bill Paxton, but we find out that he had his own paranormal experience (and in Wisconsin, no less!)

As an actor, he could elevate any scene he was in, he was a huge reason why Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. started getting good in the middle of its first season, and he’s the only other actor besides Lance Henriksen that’s been killed by a Terminator, Alien, and Predator! From the Jimmy Buffett-eqsue “Coconut Pete” in the hilarious slasher sendup Club Dread to the astronaut Fred Haise in Apollo 13 (the role that he made it sound to Mark that he wanted to be remembered for), he was a big part of what made so many of our favorite science fiction and horror movies fun.

bill paxton power loader aliens ghost story

For this week’s song, we took some inspiration from Aliens, because when you’re in a “Power Loader” you feel invincible!

1 2 3 shots in,
I’m through the roof,
invincible and I’m 200 proof.
Spoiling for someone to take me on,
My blood is fire,
I’m in the Octagon.

I’m in a Power Loader,
I’m indestructible now,
Like in a Power Loader,
You can’t push me around.

Every look’s a jab,
and every stare a punch,
an invitation to some fisticuffs
Just say the word, and let’s go to the mat,
Cry for mama and say Game Over Man

I’m in a Power Loader,
I’m indestructible now,
Like in a Power Loader,
You can’t push me around.

You can ride the white line
all the way to fight time
Cuz you know for a black eye,
is better than a flatline.

I’m gonna nuke you from orbit
I want you to hit me as hard you can
I’ve got the code for god mode
tonight I’m a champion.

I’m in a Power Loader,
I’m indestructible now,
Like in a Power Loader,
You can’t push me around.

I’m in a Power Loader,
I’m indestructible now,
Like in a Power Loader,
You can’t push me around.

Did Apollo 10 Hear The Music of the Spheres?

Did Apollo 10 Hear The Music Of The Spheres?

We think of space as a vacuum. In fact, because there’s no air, every time you hear a laser blast or spaceship engine in science fiction, no sound should be created because there’s no air for the sound waves to reverberate through – the only TV shows that got that right were the original pilot of the revamped Battlestar Galatica and of course, the most mourned show in the history of television, Firefly.

Remember Alien’s tagline? In Space No One Can Hear You Scream? They were playing off the idea that there is no sound in a vacuum. And let’s be honest, it still is a badass line.

That doesn’t mean that it’s completely silent in space, however. There are electromagnetic vibrations that occur naturally even in the vacuum and our Voyager space probes have recorded them, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

This past week, it’s come up again that the Apollo astronauts on Apollo 10 heard some kind of weird “space music” while they were orbiting the moon. A Science Channel documentary had something called NASA’s Unexplained Files and that’s what caused the online hullabaloo. So much so that CNN has had to cover it and NASA has issued an official response and finally recently released the audio. So, what did those astronauts hear?

Apollo 10 was the last mission to prepare for the actual moon landing that would happen in July of 1969. As the astronauts lost radio contact with mission control in Houston and went around the far side of the moon, they started hearing something in their radios. Here’s the quotes from the lunar module talking to the command module:

LMP: That music even sounds outer-spacey, doesn’t it? You hear that? That whistling sound?

CDR: Yes.

LMP: Whoooooo… Say your – –

CMP: Did you hear that whistling sound, too?

LMP: Yes. Sounds like – you know, outer-space type music.

CMP: I wonder what it is.

Okay, well, the non-crazy people of the world are explaining it as just radio interference when the radios of the lunar and command modules came near each other, kind of like how you hear feedback from your guitar when you play to close to your amplifier. The pilot of the Apollo 11 moonshot, Michael Collins, heard about it too. He even mentions it in his book, saying it would have “scared the Hell out of him” if he wasn’t warned that he might hear some radio interference during the flight.

While everyone else buys the radio interference theory, Astronaut Al Worden said that “logic tells me that if there was something recorded on there, then there’s something there.” So, if there was something there, what could it have been?

Back when I was a wee child, I used to watch a show with my father on Sunday nights called The Mechanical Universe. (It was usually before some British comedy on PBS, so eventually we were rewarded with some UK follies after all of the high-minded science business. He would tape it to show on slow days in his high school science classes.

They would feature astronomers and physicists and sometimes do dramatic re-enactments of the famous stargazers. While my favorite astronomer was Tycho Brahe (the man with the Golden Nose who deserves his own podcast sometime), his brother in arms Johannes Kepler always interested me as well.

While Copernicus (Polish pride forever!) was the righteous dude that helped prove that the Earth revolves around the Sun, Johannes Kepler is famous for deriving that the orbits of planets around the sun are not circular, they’re elliptical.

Kepler loved writing like a fourteen year old school girl telling her diary about her first breakup, here’s example:

“I was almost driven to madness in considering and calculating the matter. I could not find out why the planet (Mars) would rather go on an elliptical orbit…. With reasoning derived from physical principles agreeing with experience, there is no figure left for the orbit of the planet except for a perfect ellipse…. Why should I mince words? The truth of Nature, which I had rejected and chased away, returned by stealth through the back door, disguising itself to be accepted….I thought and searched, until I went nearly mad, for a reason why the planet preferred an elliptical orbit.”

Kepler in, Astronomia Nova (1609)

This guy loves astronomy so much, it nearly drove him mad! I’m not a scientist, but I’ve read plenty of research papers and zero of them are written like the authors are protagonists in a H.P. Lovecraft novel, slowly being pushed to the brink of madness by their quest.

Check out this sweet beard, I should probably be in a nu-metal band!

Anyway, what Kepler wrote a book called Harmonices Mundi, translated as Harmonies Of The Worlds. The whole idea is that ratios that are found in harmonies of music can also be found in the speeds of planetary motion. This idea actually came from Pythagoras (the dude that helps us out with triangles) and it was rumored that he was actually able to hear this mystical “music of the spheres” that showed that the sun, moon, and planets revolved around the earth in spheres whose ratios could be explained in pure musical intervals (thirds, fourths, fifths, etc… not jazz.)

So, the relationship of music to heavenly bodies has been around for a long time. If you come at the universe from the perspective of it being created by a higher power, it’s easy to think that patterns that exist in one place exist in another. It’s also important to realize that a lot of the greatest discoveries in human history came from people were religious and often mystical.

Music of the spheres

Oh my God, my back!

Kepler was doing his research in a world where astronomy was connected closely to astrology and he made the discovery of elliptical orbits while he was stargazing his way into a universe he believed was organized by a higher power. While those beliefs might feel ridiculous to today’s scientists, there’s a certain imagination that drives them that I can’t help but think is helpful.

Sure, it might have been radio interference that those astronauts heard. But a little bit of me prefers to think it was Kepler’s Music of the Spheres that was making the noise!

79 – Way Of The Explorer: Remembering Dr. Edgar Mitchell

We recorded this episode on Valentine’s Day 2016, which is why we open with discussing Ghostbusters II (a film I feel is unfairly maligned because while the plot wasn’t as strong as the original, there were still some excellent jokes!), where the opening scene showed Peter Venkman hosting a paranormal show where he had two guests who predicted the end of the world.

One of the guests predicted the end to be February 14th, 2016 to which Bill Murray responds, “Valentine’s Day. Bummer.”

Well, the world didn’t end this last V-Day, so add it to another missed apocalypse date (a topic we discuss in Episode 58!),  but on February 4th, 2016, we did lose an important figure in the world of psi research and astronautics. Dr. Edgar Mitchell was the Sixth Man on the Moon and while you expect that kind of journey to change your life, it did even more for Dr. Mitchell.

“On the return trip home, gazing through 240,000 miles of space toward the stars and the planet from which I had come, I suddenly experienced the universe as intelligent, loving, harmonious.”

Dr. Mitchell was already interested in psychic research (indeed, he even planned a telepathy experiment while he was on the lunar mission!), but his samadhi moment (that feeling of being one with the universe) directed the course of his life from then on.

Soon after his return to Earth, he founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences which is a research organization dedicated to exploring the mysteries of consciousness. He became an outspoken proponent of UFO disclosure as well, stating that “I happen to be privileged enough to be in on the fact that we have been visited on this planet and the UFO phenomenon is real, although it has been covered up by our governments for quite a long time.”

Dr. Mitchell brought a seriousness and authority to UFO and psychic research that few others could. Astronauts were not only in peak physical condition and Navy pilots, but they were also PhDs who were admired and respected among all kinds of Americans. Mitchell was no slouch, earning his Doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his death leaves a large hole in the credibility of the field.

He did bum around with Uri Geller for a time in the 70s and Uri tends to spike readings on people’s skeptic-meters, so that’s something we discuss in the podcast. But while Uri’s natural talent for show business might have killed his credibility with the psi research community, could there have been real some psychic phenomena in the beginning? Did we lose years of valuable research because Uri wanted to pal around with1970s celebrities?

Dr. Mitchell wrote a book about his experiences and his philosophy called The Way of the Explorer: An Apollo Astronaut’s Journey Through the Material and Mystical Worlds and he was a popular guest on shows  like Coast To Coast AM as well as at UFO and paranormal conventions. Not only did he have great stories (an astronaut is automatically the most interesting person at every party), but a great attitude as well.

His bravery in the face of ridicule from the scientific community and his dedication to keeping an open mind in research serves as an inspiration to every explorer out there, paranormal or otherwise. And of course, if you’re brave enough to handle a rocket launch and re-entry from Earth’s orbit, ignoring a skeptical blogger doesn’t seem like such a big task!

What I find most heartening is his deeply held belief in the oneness of humanity and our connection to everything in the universe as well as each other. Most people get cynical as they get older and more set in their ways, but Mitchell kept his spiritual awakening spirit all the way to his earthly end.

Click on the pic to read NASA’s tribute to Dr. Edgar Mitchell

This week’s song is inspired by Dr. Edgar Mitchell and the optimism that came with the pioneering days of space exploration, “Shoot For The Stars” by Sunspot.

Not even that long ago,
you could look up to the sky and know,
that’s a place you could go.
Daydreaming of astronauts,
We weren’t just happy with what we got,
On this pale blue dot.

Back in my day, child, it didn’t seem so far.
Back in my day, child, we used to shoot for the stars.

Never thought that we’d still be here
Fifty years on, still stuck to the ground
and we’re still earthbound.
If the world has changed so much,
and those old dreams are out of touch, don’t you budge.
Just keep looking up.

Back in my day, child, it didn’t seem so far.
Back in my day, child, don’t forget Mars,
Back in my day child, or flying cars,
In my day, child, we used to shoot for the stars.

Disinformation: The Return of The X-Files

(WARNING: This blogpost contains spoilers for the first two episodes of Season 10, the majestic return of The X-Files, so watch  the new episodes, eh? They’re streaming for FREE on Fox.com right now)

They’re back!

So, how about it? They had me at the original opening credits. It’s been almost twenty-two years since we first heard Mark Snow’s spooky opening theme and saw “The Truth Is Out There”. Man, it really brought back all the memories. I was a MONSTER fan of the show (as if you didn’t already know.) In college, we used to all watch it in our dorm room common area and we wouldn’t go out on Friday nights until the show was over. It was the show that brought everyone together.

I even kept watching during the so-so Season 7 (the one that had an episode with Kathy Griffin and a pro wrestler), Season 8 (which was Duchovny-lite because he was working on his movie career)  and Season 9, which was on an upswing, but it had to end because September 11th kind of took the fun out of government conspiracies for most people.

With X-FIles: I Want To Believe (the second movie) flopping at the box office and then 2012 passing us by without new material (the alien invasion was supposed to take place that year), I thought that was the end for one of my favorite shows. But no!

So, it’s been months of anticipation. What are they going to concentrate on in these six episodes, who are going to be the new bad guys? How are they going to bring Cancer Man back to life after he was blown up in the desert in the final episode? We had a special podcast about some of our favorite episodes based on real-life cases (Episode 33 – The Truth Is Back) and wrote a song about the new series called “Don’t Mess This Up”.

So, did they mess it up? I know a lot of critics seemed underwhelmed by the first episode and while the dialogue was a bit clunky during Mulder and Scully’s argument on the porch (show don’t tell, Chris Carter!), but I like where they’re going with everything. The conspiracies fit perfectly into the second decade of the Twenty-First Century. Joel McHale’s character is basically an ultra-wealthy Alex Jones and it looks like they took the new conspiracy right off of InfoWars.com.

So, they speculate that the UFO crash at Roswell was real and that the government reverse engineered the alien spacefaring and stealth technology and has been carrying out secret experiments on women (including Scully) by impregnating them with fetuses laced with alien DNA and have been masquerading as aliens the whole time in order to throw investigators off the scent of the real perpetrators and they’re setting the planet up for a one-world government (a little John Birch Society anti-Communist conspiracy in there for ya!)

David Duchovny doing his best rugged Harrison Ford impersonation here…

Does this mesh with the old mythology? A little, but not a lot. Considering the old conspiracies of the show got real messy after Season 5, I’m okay with it, and it fits with a more modern take. I’ve said this before, but prior to our interview with Robbie Graham in our “Silver Screen Saucers” episode, I had legitimately never thought that the government would want people to believe that they were colluding with aliens. I mean, why would they want their own people to think that they’re secretly hiding one of the biggest stories of all time, that we’re not alone in the universe?

Disinformation, baby. When you’re not fighting any actual physical battles like in the Cold War, then the rumors of your power are just as important as your power. It’s kind of like why new inmates will fight the baddest meanest guy they can when right when they get sent to prison. You create an aura around yourself of toughness, and nothing’s tougher than your enemy thinking that you have secret alien technology in your war machine. And in the show, the conspiracy is all about covering their tracks until they invade the United States.

The second episode (“Founder’s Mutation”) was just like going home again. It didn’t have to do any narrative lifting, the team was back together and it was just like the wonderful old days of Mulder and Scully hitting the pavement and looking for the paranormal. Now the conspiracy is using those alien DNA babies to make psychic-powered superheroes. I can’t be the only one that got a Quicksilver/Scarlet Witch vibe from Kyle and Molly shattering glass and throwing people across the room with their Force alien mind powers.

In the age of The “Patriot” Act, Edward Snowden, and the Carnivore e-mail spy program, we’ve got brand new reasons to be paranoid and question Authority. Thank God we’ve got Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully back to investigate.

RIP Angus Scrimm – The Tall Man and Phantasm’s Paranormal Influences

Actor Angus Scrimm passed away yesterday at the age of 89. If you’re a horror fan, then you’ll remember him as the evil undertaker, The Tall Man, from the Phantasm film series (the one with the flying silver balls that stick in people’s heads.) Number one, what an awesome stage name (he was originally born Lawrence Rory Guy). Number two, he was the one guy in the Phantasm movies that looked like he was some kind of an actor in real life. You can see why he was such a memorable presence in this supercut of his greatest moments from the highlights of the franchise (namely Phantasm 1 and 2).

Phantasm was mostly recently making the sci-fi news rounds because Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams mentioned how much that he loves the movie and that he created one of the characters (Captain Phasma) as an homage to the film, the character even wears a special reflective mirrored armor like the scary balls that fly through the air in Phantasm. Abrams also gave Scrimm a recurring role in his TV show, Alias, because he was a fan of the actor.

Not that the other characters and actors in Phantasm weren’t memorable and  didn’t give it their best shot. Especially Reggie Bannister, you just gotta love that guy. I still use the phrase “Hot as love” sometimes when I’m done playing a song.

Angus Scrimm’s late in life success in the horror genre was preceded by a long career in entertainment journalism as well as being a go-to guy for writing liner notes on the insides of records – which was a thing back in the day when people used to buy albums, and he even won a Grammy for his work in the music industry!)

I always heard that he was a nice guy at horror conventions and his dedication to the character even as the budgets of the Phantasm sequels started getting less and less. So, I’m raising a glass to a life well lived.

I celebrated my eighteenth birthday with my first meal as a full vegetarian, a trip to the adult book store (who knew that Al Bundy’s favorite magazine was a real thing?), and a viewing of Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead, so the series has always been close to my heart. My friends and I were big fans of the series in high school because we appreciated Reggie’s dirty innuendos, the gross-out horror of the flying balls killing people, the surreality of the filmmaking, and the mashup of (spoilers for a 37-year old movie) beings from another dimension that enslave human souls after we die.

The Tall Man’s most memorable quote besides bellowing “Boyyyyyyyy!” is “You think when you die, you go to heaven. You come to us!” which is a special kind of terror. You grow up your whole life thinking that when you die, you go to a  “better place” (unless you’re a Calvinist that just believes most people are going to Hell anyway). But Phantasm introduced to me the idea that maybe the afterlife wasn’t wonderful at all, that there is something worse than death, a place you could never escape where you were turned into a zombie Jawa slave for eternity.  A reimagining of Hell where The Tall Man took the place of Lucifer and owned you.

Now, that’s some scary business right there and in some of the world’s earliest cultures, the Afterlife isn’t fun at all. In fact, if you’ve ever studied the Epic of Gilgamesh (the world’s first action hero!) you’ll know that death to the ancient Sumerians meant unpleasantness for the rest of eternity. They feared the dead who “live in darkness, eat clay, and are clothed like birds with wings” and would eat the living if they escaped the Underworld.

In Maori culture in New Zealand, the bodies of the recently deceased needed to be brought back to their families immediately and rituals performed or the spirits might become angry and decide to bring more family members to the other side. 

So, while there might be an evolutionary advantage to believing in the afterlife, it doesn’t mean that we necessarily believe in a Heaven filled with naked angels strumming on harps, but also that Hell could be programmed into our primordial belief systems and it’s that antediluvian angst that Phantasm excels at accessing. In the world of the film, there is no “happily ever after”, The Tall Man is coming from another dimension to enslave the souls of the Earth and the main characters have to figure out how to stop him.


But interestingly enough, Whitley Strieber’s sequel to his book Communion (who in my opinion has influenced our modern views ideas of aliens more than any other creator) was called Transformation, which came out in 1988, the same year as Phantasm II. The main idea of Transformation was that the aliens that he claimed to have been abducted by all his life in Communion, were here in a spiritual capacity and not just a scientific experiment (and I don’t know if that would have been a relief to South Park‘s Eric Cartman or not…)

But in Transformation, the aliens are here and visiting us to help recycle our souls, which starts blending two formerly very different strains of paranormal belief into one (albeit Mormonism and Scientology have been doing this for a longer period of time, but Transformation is really when I got my first taste of it.) This mixture of aliens and an inescapable afterlife of servitude is what makes Phantasm such an mindtrick and it was all brought to life in such effective terror by the performance of Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man. Thanks Lawrence Rory Guy, for the awe-inspiring personification of a perfectly horrifying, yet ancient, idea.