Thursday, September 29, 2016

UFOs and "invisible" aircraft

I have come across a most intriguing explanation for many UFO sightings.

I was turned on to it by Greg Valdez, author of Dulce Base and son of Gabe Valdez, the police officer who investigated the bulk of the cattle mutilations on the Jicarilla Apache reservation during the late 1970s. Greg Valdez asks us to look at the characteristics of the UFOs seen at that time over the reservation. Sometimes the objects were streaks of light. Other times they would over in one place, disappear, and then reappear in a completely different location in the sky. One possible explanation for this,Valdez proposes, is that the military has "true" stealth aircraft. By this meaning invisible not just to radar but to the human eye as well.

I know. Once you begin to mention "invisibility cloaks" to people, they might tune you out. The idea comes off as a lodestone for conspiracy theorists. Such things couldn't ever be, could they? Well, it's not laughable. In 2006, Dr. David Smith at Duke University published research that lays the groundwork for just such technology.

"The cloak would act like you've opened up a hole in space," said David R. Smith, Augustine Scholar and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke's Pratt School. "All light or other electromagnetic waves are swept around the area, guided by the metamaterial to emerge on the other side as if they had passed through an empty volume of space."

In 2012, "Quantum Stealth" made news. At the link you can see examples of how this newly developed material could cloak a combatant while deep in enemy territory and allow them to navigate relatively unseen. Other forms of "invisibility camouflage" in development resemble the "shimmer" look, similar to the alien from the movie Predator.

It doesn't seem unreasonable to conjecture that these newly developed materials could be woven into the surfaces of advanced aircraft. This would potentially explain the behavior of UFOs, namely the "now you see it, now you don't" sightings. "It just up and vanished." Previous explanations tendered for these flight characteristics included the UFO zooming away at high, nigh imperceptible speeds or even shunting into a parallel dimension. Given the development of this new technologies, "turned invisible" might be a simpler, more elegant...and even more realistic...explanation.

Would certainly explain many of the Dulce sightings.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Carpenters: Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft

I know this might shock you, but I'm not a big Carpenters fan.

Not my kind of music. But I had to check them out when I heard they had a song called "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft." Here's the video for it:

I like how it starts out, basically mocking the cheesy DJ type that spun "solid gold" hits of the 70s. After that, things get trippy. Mr. J takes what he thinks is a regular phone call requesting a song, but nothing could be further from the truth. A fuzzy, electronic voice speaks in strident hisses through the phone, informing the disc jockey that "we are observing your Earth."

Numerous alien ships then approach the Earth. Sometimes they appear rather Robotech-y and others almost resemble the "beamships" referred to in Dulce lore. Anyway, the song goes on for a few minutes and its basically Karen Carpenter in space making an appeal to occupants of interplanetary craft (hence the title) to come in peace and help make the world better a better place. Buy us a Coke, teach us to sing, keep us company, and all that shit.

This actually dovetails quite nicely with several aspects of UFO phenomena, especially the whole "space brother" contactee movement. These were people who claimed to have had contact with aliens who were completely human in appearance, but with near perfect physical features. Yep, they were just damn pretty. They also only wanted to help the human race. They wanted us to mature, to embrace peace, and to join them in an interplanetary brotherhood.

That's basically what the Carpenters are saying in this song. I had no idea they were ever into such things. I suppose it shouldn't surprise me. The 1970s did have a great deal of metaphysical, New Age hoo-ha floating about in the zeitgeist. A movement towards peace was certainly present in the early part of the decade, so I guess this song shouldn't come as too much of a shock. Given that many of our lives are currently affected by economic strife, threat of violence in our streets, and who knows what will happen after this election (I promise I'll hold off on Trump dumping for tonight), having an outside force come down from the sky and fix everything sure would be nice.

Fortunately, someone in the YouTube comments for that Carpenters video says that's exactly what is going to happen on March 15th, 2017. That's "World Contact Day." As he says, "Please for the love of the world inform others."


Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Saucers, spooks, and spies

As I labor away on my book on Dulce, one thing about UFO phenomena becomes clear to me.

The government loves it.

No, really. It does. The entire apparatus, from lore to actual sightings and especially to the subculture of conventions and media for "space people" devotees, has considerable value to those dark, shadowy corners of military intelligence and national security. I once eschewed such claims or at least thought their influence to be mild at best. They smacked too much of conspiracy theories for my tastes. And then I read about Paul Bennewitz.

To truly know and understand this man's story, you need to read Greg Bishop's fantastic book, Project Beta. Watching the documentary Mirage Men, a film in which Bishop is interviewed, would likewise be beneficial but as usual, the book is better. I shall soldier on and give as concise of an account of Bennewitz's story as I can here on this page.

Paul Bennewitz was the founder of Thunder Scientific Corporation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The business is adjacent to Kirtland Air Force Base and serves the military in a number of contractual roles. Bennewitz's home also is of near proximity to the base, specifically it overlooks what was once the Manzano Nuclear Storage facility. It was over this area in the late 1970s that Bennewitz witnessed a series of true UFOs hovering and darting over the base. He went directly to his contacts at the base who referred him to a man named Richard Doty in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Doty and others in military intelligence began to encourage Paul Bennewitz's investigation into what he saw as a burgeoning alien threat. They also fed him information. A bit of it was even true.Sadly, Bennewitz began to grow more and more paranoid and mentally ill as he continued his investigations. He turned over his business to his sons, was committed to a mental hospital, and eventually died in 2003. His family refuses to be interviewed on the subject.

Why do this to a man? The answer is simple. The more a conduit such as Bennewitz begins to circulate and proliferate stories of UFOs and alien activity, the more distraction is generated. This conceals actual clandestine projects and activities going on. For example, Bennewitz almost assuredly did not see alien spacecraft over Manzano but may very well have witnessed prototype UAV drones in action. Those are all over the news now, but in the late 1970s-early 1980s, that would have been a highly sensitive operation indeed. The more people talk about aliens and UFOs, the further they stay from the truth.

Like I said, this sort of psy-ops, counter-intelligence shadow-skulking sounds like conspiracy and paranoia, but I've learned something in my research. Most conspiracy theories, even if they are outlandish, begin with a kernel of truth. If an outsider witnesses or otherwise becomes involved with said kernel, then they may be subject to forces willing to manipulate and exploit them in order to "bring down the laughter curtain" as Greg Bishop says. What was once a kernel of truth is willfully blossomed into the kind of big green thing with spiky spines and other stuff that I see when I let weeding go for far too long.

A great resource for me on the subject of the UFO-espionage connection has been the blog Saucers, Spooks, and Spies. Updates on it ceased in 2012, but it used to be run by ace paranormal researcher, Nick Redfern. I've completely lost track of just how many damn books Redfern has written (Keep Out! was especially helpful in my Dulce work), but one entry on his CV is On the Trail of the Saucer Spies. It details just how much various world governments have taken to watching, manipulating, and sometimes silencing UFO witnesses and researchers. Scroll through the entries in the blog. Take particular note of the accounts of Men In Black (no not the movie).

To be clear, this sort of thing doesn't happen every day. Most of us in the workaday world are not likely marks for these kinds of psychological manipulations as we aren't worth the effort. Well, I'll speak for myself. I'm hardly worth their effort. The stories of Paul Bennewitz and others, however, serve as concrete testament of what a government is willing to do to keep its secrets.

Not that I'm paranoid or nothin'.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Jake Timber Manifesto

Note: the above pulp magazine cover is not Jake Timber. He did, however, select the depiction as indicative of all he stands for.

Like many others who have lived in shacks amid rural areas, Jake Timber has written a manifesto.

In the (dubious) honor of this being the eve of the publication of his first book, I have poured said manifesto into a somewhat cogent form for your perusal. Once more, I post this under duress and it is not my fault. So enter, if you dare, the mind of Jake Timber:

The Way I Feel
by Jake Timber

-GOD. You will get NOWHERE in this world without a belief in God. How small your mind must be if it cannot include the idea of an invisible man in the sky who loves you and demands you go to a designated building to talk to him. I don't care if your life is a steaming pile of sheep dip, you go thank Him for it. Get with it, will you?

-Class. The heart of America is the white, working class man. Yet he's the one who is always oppressed and downright downtrodden. Yeah, yeah everyone is all about "no more racism" and "no more anti-feminism," but what about the straight, white, Christian man? I'll tell you what. Nothing. He gets nothing but blame for everything. Kids, I hate to break it to you but the real discrimination going on in this country is by class. And it's being done by elitists with letters behind their names.

-Political correctness. It's killing us. Pure, plain, and simple. People are so hyper-sensitive these days about what other people get called. Ask your average black guy or Mexican guy and they'll say they don't care. So who does care? Social justice warriors, that's who. They got no skin in the game but they obviously just need something to do so they wants to police what we say and how we think. That's a slippery slope, kids. I've seen that future. It ain't pretty.
And most of these SJW types don't really believe what they say. They're just out to score points for themselves.

-Rural America. It's natural, it's wholesome, and it's all about values. I love the smell of manure in the morning. Smells like 'Murica. Chances are, if a land has farmer fields growing crop, has country songs playing from its radios, and big ol' flags of the U. S. of A. a flyin', then it's what I call "real America." Yeah sure, you'll see a Klan rally every now and then, but that doesn't speak for everybody. Cities have way too many people and way too many college types. You can't trust them. Besides, I've seen the future. When things start to really hit the fan, you don't want to be in those cities. Get out and get into NATURE.

-Don't hate America because we got faults. Sure, there were slaves, we killed a whole lotta Indians, and we propped up a dictator every now and then because we had to, but look at all the positives. I can think of at least a hundred right off the top of my head. 
For example, our National Park system is the envy of the world,

-While you're at it, stop thinking socialism is all that great and start looking at its bad points. Sure you get health care, education, guaranteed minimum income, blah blah blah. But think of the TAXES! Ever tried buying a new set of snow tires while your paycheck has a 50% tax cut? GOOD LUCK.

-On a related note, stand up for the Special Song. ALWAYS.

-Two and a Half Men. Like I said, I'm from the future. Do you want to know the exact point when America started to slide down the stink hole? It was when Charlie Sheen was forced to leave Two and a Half Men. On that dark day, we really turned away from Jesus.

-More Trump. That is all.

-The Dallas Cowboys are America's team. Period. And them cheerleaders are nice too.

-Puppies. I like 'em.

-Never, ever, under any circumstance, underestimate what you can do with beef jerky.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

Friday, September 23, 2016

Jake Timber excerpt

It's official. Book One of Jake Timber Lives will drop on Amazon Kindle Single on Tuesday, September 27th, 2016. So that you'll know exactly what you might be getting into, I have provided an excerpt for you below. It is somewhat NSFW.

Again, this is not my fault.


Jake Timber lost himself in a most delicious daydream.
The naked body pressed to him matched his idea of female perfection, an ideal formed as a child from seeing a sexy silhouette on a truck’s mud flap. Ample breasts, round-ripple ass, shapely legs. He could feel her. Skin on skin. Yes, let the love begin. He touched her everywhere and took her breath with kisses. Her touch caused his manhood to swell and grow to even larger proportions, all while taking on the attributes of a titanium rod. The way she sucked and bounced on him, that sense of completion as he settled in deep inside her and let those velvety sugar walls caress his most vital organ.
His mind snapped his reverie and forced him back to business. He stood at the tree line, looking out over the wilderness like some kind of mighty pagan god. His Kevlar body armor only added to his already massive and muscular frame. Biceps with the density of Pittsburgh steel bulged as he brought the binoculars up to his eyes. Those pale blue orbs watched the bridge over the gorge below, waiting.
It was a perfect morning in Colorado. Cool air settled on what little of Jake’s skin was exposed, a pleasant sensation that kept his virile male metabolism from overheating. Not a single noise could be heard, save for the faint rustle of Ponderosa pine needles and the soothing sound of birdsong. Chipmunks played amid the trees. Snow glinted from the mountains overhead. It was a perfect morning.
Perfect to blow things up.
Word came to Jake Timber via the woodchuck messenger system. In order to avoid detection, the true patriots hiding in the Rockies needed to live completely off the grid. This meant no Internet or radio communication. Instead, the survivalist enclaves sent written messages to each other by taping them to the backs of trained woodchucks. Jake’s last woodchuck bore disturbing news. Two militia woodsmen spotted an armored column of PC (People's Co-defense) troops moving through the mountain passes. No doubt they searched for possible resistance fighters. In doing so, they might even learn the location of the Lodge, the hidden city that Jake and so many other like-minded freedom lovers had worked so hard to build. Yes, the PC would no doubt love to find it.
Instead, they were going to get nothing but Jake.
Duke Goldhammer stayed on his stomach, a detonator in his meaty mitts. He was a burly man, bigger even than Jake. His blue Army Cavalry hat, a memento of his time in the service, seemed to forever stay atop his bald head. An alpha male by personality, one might find it odd that Duke yielded command of the combat unit to Jake. But when Duke first saw Jake arrive at the Lodge, walking tall out of the radioactive wasteland, his hair as long and blond as a 1980s heavy metal rocker and not a scratch on his skin, Duke could not contain the surprising and overwhelming sense of respect he felt well up from his heart and loins.
“Ready?” Jake asked.
“The bridge is wired with enough C4 to blow the bad boy twice,” Duke answered. “Opposite side is lined with Claymores.”
“Weapons?” Jake asked.
“Checked each and every one myself,” Duke said as he took a lollipop from his mouth. “If there’s a damn thing wrong with any of ‘em, I’ll suck a broke dick dog.”
“Must it come to that?” someone asked in a British accent.
It came from Reginald Hastings. He squatted in the brush, wearing his trademark brown bomber jacket. “Reg” as the team called him, was a former agent of MI6, caught in the U.S. after the terrorist strikes. Stocky and mustached, he was a short man…but a decidedly lethal one. He took a moment to look around his wilderness surroundings.
“I simply must undertake a dig here one day,” he said. “The area must be a treasure trove of archeological findings. What with the Ute and the Chemehuevi in the area…”
“Shut up with the fancy book learnin’,” Jake interrupted.
Reginald Hastings fixed Jake with a glance that held no ire, only his typical frozen gloom.
“Of course. How inconsiderate of me to forget your allergy to all things intellectual. I’ve committed an atrocity,” he said.
“Ha!” Jake scoffed. “The joke’s on you! That’s not even a real word!”
Combat boots crunching against the soil, Jake made his way over to Rusty Squarejaw’s position. Rusty was by far the youngest member of the platoon. Though young, his unusual height placed him above most men twice his age. He also possessed the roundest head anyone at the Lodge had ever seen. His few thin strands of hair atop his head only increased its resemblance to a cue ball. Jake put a rough hand on Rusty’s shoulder.
“Rusty, you be ready to put the hammer down with that RPG when I say so,” Jake said.
The young man hoisted the tubular rocket launcher onto his shoulder.
“Hey, I’ll give that a try!” he beamed.
“Good kid,” Jake said, patting the boy’s thick shoulder.
Behind the tree line sat the rest of the platoon. A full 30 men sat poised for battle at Jake’s say-so through the headset mic. A sound echoed out across the chasm, unnatural and mechanical, standing out as an ugly and glaring mar on nature, like a blob of black ink on a gallery painting of beautiful and pastoral landscape. It grew louder. Heavy engines. Thick treads. Jake looked out through the binoculars. He pressed the toggle and zeroed in on the opposite side of the bridge.
“There they are,” he said.
Tanks appeared. A column of updated versions of the M1A1, complete with flame throwers and rocket launchers, rumbled onto the bridge. With their treads concealed by reactive metal plates, the mechanical beasts almost appeared to float above the paved surface.
“Bought by a 50% tax rate,” Jake remarked as he watched. “Liberal tanks.”
“Goddammit, Jake!” Those are the worst kind!” Duke said.
“Stay cool,” Jake cautioned.
He lifted up his personal weapon: an auto shotgun he named it “The Punisher.” Close to the size of a .50 caliber machine gun, it almost looked small in Jake’s hands. Like insects marching along a log, Jake watched the green tanks make their way across the bridge, the drone of their engines growing louder. In particular he eyed the figure clad in typical PC black fatigues, poking himself out of the top of one of the tank turrets as it neared the midpoint of the bridge. Like all of the other PC, the unknown guy looked like somebody in Darth Vader’s army.
“Don’t blow the bridge until I give you the signal,” Jake told Duke.
“What’s the signal?” Duke asked.

“This,” Jake said.


Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Duck and Cover

Maybe it's because of Jake Timber, but war has been on my mind lately.

It might also be a number of other factors whirling in both zeitgeist and headspace. A colleague just brought up the Cuban Missile Crisis, Putin threatens to return Russia to a dictatorship, thus raising once more the specter of nuclear war, and the frightening possibility of herr Trump's election likewise casts a pall over existence. I sit daily within this penumbra. Plus, if you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you likely know that the threat of nuclear war has never been far from my mind ever since I was a child. Anyway, my musings here in pre-apocalyptic America have brought me back to my 2015 visit to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. While visiting that fine institution, I got to see the famous (infamous?) "instructional film" Duck and Cover, pretty much in its entirety.

The pic above is of the film's mascot, Bert the Turtle.

He manages to survive an attack from a monkey armed with dynamite while a cheery song skips along in the background. Good on ya, Bert.

Once the cartoon is over, I'm actually shocked at how foreboding the film's tone really is. True, it attempts to convince children naturally ignorant of nuclear science that diving under a school desk is going to save them from a warhead's detonation, but there's a grimness present. "This could happen at any time, kids," is the subtext of the narrator. "Without warning it could be here, a bright flash of light followed by a sweep of nuclear fire. If you're lucky, you will die instantly. If you survive, well...that's when the real pain starts."

That's life though, isn't it? Something horrible could come crashing down and everything is changed within a matter of seconds. You are then left to wander blind and maimed in the aftermath.

What's worse? Such an actual occurrence or living under the constant threat of it? I leave that for you to decide.

Don't kid yourselves. Our memories have grown flavescent with age and neglect. Any of the horrors of Hirsoshima or Nagasaki. As an aside, check out these recently found photographs taken just one day after the Nagasaki blast. Shocker: General MacArthur ordered also such photos confiscated to prevent the world from seeing the true horror of nuclear warfare. Might make the good ol' U. S. of A. look bad, y'know. Bad for "the business." But I digress...

Fall of communism, stockpile reductions, I don't care. Don't tell me the threat is gone.

Especially with herr Trump around.

Here's the film:

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Free Form: commodity

"Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
"Drifting through the wind"

Yes, those are Katy Perry lyrics.

I heard them while flipping between radio channels. Candyfloss bubblegum pop, but even the thickest log of manure might have kernels of sweet corn embedded within it. No doubt she's channeling American Beauty, but the sentiment is still valid.

We are commodity. Or at least I've realized I am. The acquisition of capital seems to be what delineates just how much of a commodity you are, how much of a plastic bag you are or at the very least your degree of wind resistance. This is nothing new, really. It stretches throughout history and at my late age I really should know better. Shame on me for ever forgetting this.

I've been reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. In it, he speaks of "losing his body." Now, I want to make clear that there is no way I could ever have an understanding of that phrase comparable to his own. Coates, along with so many others in America, came to such an understanding through plunder and systemic loss of primacy. My privileged self has experienced nothing even close. I believe that I can, however, come to something of an understanding.


I have, at least, come to a total realization that my body is not my own and that in modern society we are commodity.

"Today, in American imperialism, the commodity has reached its most grandiose historical manifestation." --C.L.R. James

I am not my own. I am, in the current context, only as valuable as what the "free market" decides. Right right right. You can cry all manner of transcendentalist philosophy about the nobility of the human spirit, but the LAPD of economic reality will, in time, pull that over to the curb and do a Rodney King on it.

I could bemoan the very existence of commodity, but it would be fruitless.

Wait! You say. Everything hinges on commodity. We have to move product or the world doesn't turn. Don't you see the advertisements? What are you trying to do? Bring down society?

Cry all you want about "unplugging from the Matrix" but that in itself is commodity. Can't sell video games otherwise.

You know I'm all down with technology but I feel its whiplash. Hoisted by my own petard.

"It's just a business decision. You understand, right? Plenty of places in America for a clever guy like you."

Nothing else to offer "the free market?" Enlist. Wait. You're too old.

If only I'd studied a "marketable skill," devoured the recommended daily allowance of fast food, embraced the advertising, placed enough patriotic ornaments on my car, reveled in sports, read the Left Behind series, bought more products I didn't need but would impress people I don't care about, kept track of benchmark correlations between age and earning, and kept careful track of celebrity doings and if anyone has "seen any good movies lately."

I went wrong. I went so wrong.

"Hustlers of the world, there is one mark you cannot beat: the mark inside." --William S. Burroughs.

But at least you're American. Living in the "greatest country on earth."

"All violence consists in some people forcing others, under threat of suffering or death, to do what they do not want to do." --Leo Tolstoy

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Rethinking the art show

What is an art show?

If there is a pat answer to that question, artist Craig Drake wants to change it. I saw an article that featured him and his upcoming installation at the Hero Complex in Los Angeles. I was immediately drawn to his work due to his obvious Nagel influence (see above). Drake's work features clean lines, negative space, movement, and predilection for alabaster women...just as Nagel did. The show itself is described at the article in these terms:

“The sight, the sound and the manner in which you view and experience the artwork will be completely different,” said gallery co-owner Adam Smasher. “Think mood and atmosphere, special lighting, a soundtrack for the experience.”

Looking over his work, Drake's main motif seems to be pop culture, specifically geek culture. I was somewhat disappointed by it. The subject matter, I mean, not his renditions. I would rather see an artist with his obvious talent really explode on the media and create new work. I mean be truly original, abstract even, and not parrot back what we're seeing every day in movies and video games and so forth. Why add to what's already out there?

Then it hit me. What did the artists who might be termed "the old masters" once do? They painted scenes from the bible and from classical mythology. Might that not be the popular culture of their time? If they were lauded for holding a mirror up to their culture and rendering the reflection to canvas, can I fault Drake for doing the same? What's more, wasn't Nagel doing the same in his own way?  That's what artists do. And if I can stop scratchy the elbow patches on my tweedy blazer for just long enough, I can see that fact.

I also hadn't realized how many of his Star Wars renditions I've admired and downloaded. They are indeed smart, fresh takes on my favorite mythos, combining the somewhat purity of my Star Wars with the decadent and somewhat dirty sensibilities of my upbringing in the Eighties.

So he is creating something new. I don't know what I was complaining about.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

Friday, September 16, 2016

Jake Timber Lives

About two years ago, I had a chilling encounter.

On a frosty morning, I prepared to head to campus for class. I found a note on the windshield of my car. "Meet me at the Eat n Sip" the note read, scrawled in what looked like a blue Bic pen from a gas station counter. Who left this? And why? The invitation doesn't even include a day or a time, so how do I know when to even be at that greasy drive-in north of town? Crazy. I crumpled up the note and threw it away.

In hindsight, I should have kept it as evidence.

Because a few days later, I was at the coffeeshop here on campus and I suddenly felt the sharp point of steel in my back. A deep voice growled to me in a Southern drawl.

"I told you to meet me at the Eat n Sip," it said.

I looked over my shoulder and saw the biggest white man I've ever seen in my life. Steel blue eyes, long blonde hair, and beard of similar color and length, and an overweening demeanor. He was decked out all in camo and smelled of sweat, cordite, and venison. He was also holding a really big knife to my back.

Later, I would learn that it is called a Ka-bar. It's military issue, painted black so as not to cause a glint in sunlight and give away your position. But I digress...

He to sit and talk with me. So as I drank my latte, he introduced himself as Jake Timber. He loves the Dallas Cowboys and going to church on Sunday. He is also a combat veteran.

From the future.

A future where "commie liberals" have taken over, sparking him to spend years fighting to "take his country back." I asked him just how he was able to time travel.

"Doesn't matter," he snapped back.

What did matter to Jake was that his story gets told. That way, the people of our time would wake up and prevent the "wussy libs" from taking over, thus preventing decades of war, strife, and free college education. There was only one stumbling block to his plan.

"I'm a good ol' American country boy," Jake explained. "I'm not so good at the fancy book learnin'."

As such, he needed a writer. He needed someone who could take his story and pour it into a text that is at least lucid and coherent, even if lurid and mind-numbing. I was selected for this task because I "look easy to push around."

He's right.

I spent a few days at Jake's house. Well, "house" is probably overstating it. I'm not allowed to tell you where he lives, other than it is a survivalist hut somewhere in the woods/cornfields/pasture thingies outside of Medaryville, Indiana. Here's a photo of a similar structure:

Jake lives "off the grid." He has no connection to the Internet or anything digital. This is so that he can't be tracked. He will even wear disguises to throw off facial recognition software and duck underneath things to avoid spy satellites.

"Someone's always watching," he'll tell you. "Someone's always tracking. You don't think they are but they are."

"Actually Jake," I began. "We all know about it since Snowden."

"Then you're all just rolling over like pussywimps!" he bellowed. "Typical college professors!"

However, "living off the grid" poses something of a problem for Jake. If you want to get information out these days, you pretty much need the Interwebs. Also, if you're a writer and you're releasing a book, social media is a non-negotiable need.

Jake Timber recognizes all of this and is quite content exploiting my own social media connections.

So I spent all this time with him, writing down his tale. It was hundreds of pages of graphic, military combat action, lewd liaisons with women harboring insatiable desires to please men, and long diatribes against socialism, gun laws, and clean water. I felt my brain cells dying with each keystroke. Not only that, but Jake kept coming up with these wacky side schemes that somehow involved me, only to make my life more miserable. It was the beginning of the rout of my sanity.

Then as suddenly as he appeared, Jake vanished.

I thought I was free. I thought in time, Jake would become a dim, unpleasant, alt-right memory. For a time there, that's exactly what he was.

Then it all went to shit.

Two weeks ago, there was another note on my windshield. "JAKE TIMBER LIVES," it read. Then another knife point in my back at the coffeeshop. I sighed, defeated.

"When do we start writing?" I asked without even turning around.

"Now!" he barked with almost a trace of fear in his voice. "We've got to stop Hillary! If Trump doesn't get in office, we're all screwed."

So I went back to the survivalist hut. He has a portable generator now, allowing for at least a few conveniences. While writing what felt like grade school-level adventure, I looked up at Jake and asked what happened. Why did he disappear for so long?

"I went to the woods to take a dump and..." he trailed off. "I'll tell you about it later."

He has yet to do so. The narrative is on the way, no doubt, and I will post it on these pages. I'll also give samples of the first brief, Kindle Single in the series, Jake Timber Lives. Unfortunately, my social media channels will also be laden with broadcasts of his "message," warning us all of what will happen if the "libs" get control of "the gubmint."

Stay tuned if you want, but remember that I am not responsible for your mental well-being.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Trump-Guns N Roses connection

I have been politically perplexed.

I mean truly befuddled.

There are at least a few people in my social circles who are supporters of Donald Trump. Granted they are relatively few in number, but there are enough there to cause me concern. These are people who, on the whole, are really quite nice and have shown no previous interest in bringing about the apocalypse. In a few cases, I actually have close relationships with these people. I thought I knew them. What gives? After a period of serious meditation and a herculean effort in "giving the benefit of the doubt," I think I just might have an answer. To explain it, I need to engage in a protracted simile.

Huddle up, kids. It's storytime with Uncle Jonny and he's going to tell you all about an era called the Eighties.

There might never have been another era more about appearances and conspicuous consumption. The clothes were neat and angled. No baggies. The hair was high, about a whole can's worth of Aquanet a day. If you were a musician then the need for a sharp, glamorous appearance was all the more important for after all, your face had to play well on MTV. There was quite a health craze as well with aerobics and Jane Fonda asking if we were "ready to do the workout."

Five guys pop up in the middle of this image-conscious society. They run contrary to the whole regime. They don't care what they look like in their tattered t-shirts and ripped leather pants. They don't care about health and they aren't going to be doing dancerise any time soon as cigarettes dangle from their lips and they drink entire bottles of Jack Daniels through a straw. They don't care about society. They don't care about rules. They don't care about you. And why would they? Given the sheer volume of drugs and alcohol they consume, they don't even care about themselves.

They are Guns N Roses. When they were firing on all cylinders in 1988-89, they were probably music's finest example of heavy, trashy, rock n roll. Their legendary record Appetite for Destruction is still a model for any band wanting to release a set of dirty, raw, rebellious, in-your-effin-face rock. Do yourself a favor. Find a copy of Appetite, either digital or vinyl for the faithful, and just play the first track. "Welcome to the Jungle" starts out with that ragged riff from Slash then builds with Duff's thunderous bassline until Axl basically spits into the mic and the band launches into the main song. Tell me you aren't playing air guitar when you hear it.

I loved it. If you asked me why at the time, I probably would have made statements similar to many other fans. "It's raw! It's real! They tell it like it is!"

Sound familiar?

To really make this comparison with Trump, I need to examine just where 18 year-old Jon was emotionally and psychologically when this band arrived on the scene.

I was hurt, I was scared, but I wanted to be strong. High school had just ended, mercifully bringing to an end four years of bullying. I knew I never wanted to go through that again. I was also very angry. No, filled with hate is probably a more accurate description. Something had been taken from me. I would never feel completely secure or trusting around people again. I figured that if I listened to Guns N Roses, looked like them, and behaved like them, it would act as a form of sonic and visual barbed wire, projecting a message of "stay away." "Sure, that kid is real skinny. But look at him. He's probably carrying a knife and he's just crazy enough to use it." There's a strength in that and when you've felt threatened long enough, the mind tends to see things in binary terms. I either stand now and protect myself or suffer more.

I can't help but think that many Trump supporters might feel the same. They may have been dealt serious losses in a faltering economy and have yet to find relief, despite whatever the numbers might show. The world is also changing, becoming something radically different. For many, that can be scary. Trump provides a sense of security, a bulwark against this change amid a nation that seems to have lost its way. He also projects strength and promises to protect with said same strength anyone who hitches their wagon to his team.

Being an adolescent at the time, I was also very anti-establishment. You can't take GNR because they're loud, rude, crude, and profane? Then you're part of the crusty old establishment and you've got to go. You can't stand lyrics like "Your daddy works in porno and your mommy's not around/she used to love her heroin and now she's under ground"? Well they're just saying what's on everybody's mind and you can't tell me these things don't happen. By the by, GNR were not above a few racist and homophobic statements, either.

Once again, why do so many profess to like Trump? "He might be loud and sometimes crude or even profane, but at least he's honest." Also, a big part of his platform is being anti-establishment and can you blame anyone for finding appeal in that? We are quite possibly looking at a second Clinton as president and that comes after two men from the Bush family. Wasn't the point of America's formation to rid ourselves of an aristocracy? Well what do we have now?

Trump rails against this, seeming to scream out "Hey! I'm blowing up the program! I can't go off message because I have no message. Hold on, everybody!" Look out! He's crazy! He's unpredictable! He might even crash your church! You can't get much more rock n roll than that.

By the way, GNR were notorious for having no pre-planned setlist for their concerts. Like Trump, they could never go off script either for the pure fact that there was no script.

When viewed through this lens, I'd like to think I'm a little closer to understanding why people I know are voting for this man.

But I still don't agree with it.

I went through my heavy metal phase as a sort of infantile response to things I didn't like, things that hurt me. It might have exorcised a bit of my anger but I can't say that it really helped me much. In fact, I'm rather embarrassed by much of it (what was I thinking with that hair??) I was operating purely from some remainder of the reptilian brain buried deep in my cerebellum. That can't be good form for any governmental policy, be it either foreign or domestic.

There's also another factor. It may be that many Trump fans are indeed fearful of a changing world but that in turn scares me. Ta-Nehisi Coates argues...and I think his thesis is likely...that the rise of Trump was directly caused by President Obama's election in 2008 (remember Trump embracing the birther movement?) A black man has been elected President of the United States. Twice. And there are those who simply cannot and never will stomach that fact.

So go to Trump. Make sure it never happens again. That, from as near as I can tell, is their thinking.

Is that what my friends are thinking as well? I can't say for sure for I cannot see inside their hearts and minds. I will say that it is entirely possible to be a perfectly nice person while still holding a few absolutely vile views. That's called the complexity of human nature.

It frustrates me to no end but there it is.

Speaking of complexity...and perhaps even dichotomy...I still listen to GNR from time to time despite everything I have just said. Maybe it's because I like that raw and aggressive rock sound now and then. Maybe it's because I still get mad, I still get scared, and all of a sudden I'm that 18 year-old kid in rural Indiana again, grabbing on to anything he can find to use as both armor and weapon.

I'd like to think I now have a few more productive tools of thinking at my disposal...and maybe that's why I just can't go in for Trump.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The lost opportunity of "deplorables"

I am going to try to blog this post without gushing over Ta-Nehisi Coates.

But I will probably fail.

I have often written about how utterly impressed I am with him as both a writer and a thinker. Apparently most of the world is too, given the number of awards garnered for his book, Between the World and Me. If you have not read it yet, I highly encourage you to do so.

So when Coates showed up on All In with Chris Hayes, I took notice. Coates had just dropped a new piece in The Atlantic about how the media lost a real opportunity when Hillary Clinton said that half of Donald Trump's supporters could be put in a "basket of deplorables" for being racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamaphobic, and xenophobic. As Coates points out, most of the resulting coverage was from political analysts wondering if Clinton could recover from such a "gaffe" and if this would bring new momentum to the Trump campaign. In other words, who will win now?

The lost opportunity, Coates argues, is that such journalism "ignores the real and intractable problems of racism." Since Clinton has made such a claim, the question must then be asked is "is there any merit to it?" Is there polling data that would refute her claim? If there is, then why isn't the Trump campaign touting it as easy rebuttal?

That's because the data shows the opposite. As shown on All In, large percentages of Trump supporters hold negative views of Muslims, still believe that President Obama is a Muslim, and that African Americans are more violent than whites. So what defense does Trump employ instead? He asserts that in her words, Clinton has insulted a vast swath of everyday Americans.

As Coates points out, African Americans have been and often still are the victims of "everyday Americans." A fact that African Americans have been forced to endure with longanimity.

The invocation of the word "deplorable" is perhaps unfortunate. There is of course a connotation of evil with it. Are that many Americans truly evil? Such a question, Coates argues, ignores human complexity. To both my fascination and my aggravation, I have found that most people are quite complex. It is entirely possible for a person to be a good parent, a good teacher, and still hold a few pretty vile views. I am learning that as I meditate on why a few people in my social circles support Trump (subject of a post for next week). The fact is people can be many things at the same time. A nice person can, and to my experience sometimes does, harbor racist beliefs or misogynistic tendencies.

That latter point brings up another matter. I would argue that the aftermath of the Clinton statements was not only an opportunity to have a frank and open discussion about racism, but sexism as well. Last March, David Brooks penned a piece for the New York Times that outlined "The Sexual Politics of 2016." In it, he describes the particularly Trumpian brand of sexism where women are not only trophies and symbols of acquisition, they are fair game in political attacks. An opponent or detractor's wife or girlfriend has often been either on the receiving end of a verbal attack from Trump or as a piece of capital or a chess piece in the debate. Brooks has several examples at the link. I don't think I'm all that rare among thinking individuals in calling such an act deplorable. Why aren't we talking about that?

Because that would cause us to have a long and uncomfortable look at ourselves. For if the Trump supporters are correct in that he accumulates his support by "just saying what's on everybody's mind," then what's on our mind is rather reprehensible. But we're America. We're the good guys. We don't have those kinds of hearts of darkness.

Do we?

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

David Lynch has an "art cave"

Bob Finds Himself in a World by David Lynch

"Artist" is a word that doesn't even come close to fully encompassing who David Lynch is.

Even though that's exactly what he is. He's raw talent and creative energy, seeing things in such a deliciously askew and chimerical way. I can only wish I could do the same. Now there is a documentary film about him called David Lynch: The Art Life. Vice sat down with the doc's director, Jon Nguyen, and in the interview, we find that the film reveals something of a shocking truth.

All the stereotypes you might imagine about David Lynch are true. He gets up every day, drinks coffee, and paints. That's it. He sequesters himself in his workshop and paints. All day. As the documentary tells it, this is a routine he's had, a sort of artistic servitude or yeomanship, since he was a child. Nguyen mentions in the interview his concern that all the early footage he was getting was just of Lynch painting. Then a friend said, "That's what David does."

Other interesting tidbits promised in the documentary are of Lynch's childhood art experiments in the basement, ones that prompted his own father to say, "You shouldn't have kids." Righteous.

I know that many of us out there are anxious about the return of Twin Peaks and I thought this look at the new documentary might tide us over for a while anyway. If nothing else, it's an enticing look at his artistic process and is as close as many of us will come to watching him splash paint around for a while.

You can check out the entire interview here.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Star Trek's 50th Anniversary

Space...the final frontier...
These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise
It's five year explore strange new seek out new life and new boldly go where no man has gone before...

Today marks the 50th anniversary of a science fiction classic.

Arguably the science fiction classic in many eyes. I'll let all of you fight that one out.

On this day in 1966, Star Trek first premiered.

Geez, I don't even know where to start with something this big. I don't think it's any exaggeration to say I wouldn't be doing this blog without Star Trek. Sure, Star Wars is the grandaddy of all geek things to me as it opened up the door to science fiction, but Star Trek has a very close second place in my heart. You see, right around when I saw the Lucas extravaganza, I started watching the original Star Trek series as well as its animated counterpart. This prompted me to at times turn my bedroom into the starship Enterprise. How old was I? Oh this was last week.

I kid, I kid.


But yeah, my rickety little kid's desk would serve as Sulu's control panel, augmented of course by a few sheets of cardboard colored with crayon buttons and dials. I ran a plastic Fisher-Price car up and down the desk surface to act as the transporter "slider" mechanism. My parents later bought me one of those...I don't even know how to describe them but they were everywhere in the 1970s...plastic utility belts. It came with a communicator, a tricorder, and a phaser that shot little disks that probably drove my mother up a wall. Small price to pay for safely equipping me to beam down to strange, alien worlds. Read: the back yard.

Of course there was a whole line of Star Trek dolls from Mego. They had the whole cast plus alien adversaries as well as bridge and transporter playsets. I didn't have any of them as a kid as my toy needs were focused on the other Star line, but you'll be relieved to know that I have the reissues of the Kirk and Spock dolls. They sit in my office now, placed next to my Planet of the Apes figures. I used to imagine a crossover but someone has already beaten me to it.

Man, I give up. When wasn't Star Trek part of my life?

Then there are the movies. I saw the Motion Picture in 1979 and hated it. I was far too young to appreciate its intricate premise and storyline at that time. I saw Wrath of Khan in 1982 and loved it. It was sad in places of course, but I think this is where I began to get that sneaking admiration of the acting style of William "The Shat" Shatner, not to mention Ricardo Montalban. I saw Search for Spock and while once disgruntled at the destruction of the Enterprise, I now wish the film was a documentary.

I think right around then marked when I'd religiously watch the Original Series on reruns Saturday afternoons. That lasted for at least four years or so, serving as a balm and constant companion through the hell of the teenage years and the phalanx of antagonistic peers. By that point, I began to see the "holy trinity" of the main characters as representative of a fully formed human. When taken in total, that is. You had Spock, the alien who might have been the most human character of all the cast, demonstrating the value of calm, logic, and the capacity to reason. There was McCoy, the "country doctor" who sometimes looked out of place on the show, but embodying the fire of human passion and serving as a moral compass. Then of course there was Kirk, the swagger and the bravado to make both those men come together and jump into action when needed. Wish I had his leadership skills. In fact, I so often wanted to emulate each of these men's characteristics.

In case you're wondering, yeah, I did go to conventions. I once even modified a blue shirt I had to look like Spock's Starfleet uniform. Found the ears for it and everything.

Think that's pathetic? Oh it gets worse. You see, this was before The Next Generation and all of the ensuing spinoff series (that appeared to decrease in quality with each iteration, but that's neither here nor there.) If you wanted new stories of your favorite franchise, you had two options: paperback novels or comic books. I chose both. Then I took it one (or maybe five) steps geekier. When we finally got a VCR and I could record the rerun episodes, I'd hold my boom box to the TV and get an audio recording of the show on cassette. I used to make my parents play the cassettes in the car when we went on vacation road trips. I called it an experience in "theater of the mind." My family and I still crack jokes about it to this day.

Maybe that's what it means. It becomes so much bigger than a TV show. When things like this come along...books, bands, movies, or whatever...when they become part of you. When they are companionable, then that's when you've got something really special. That's the best way I can put it without lapsing into the usual cliches of "they took me to other planets, they showed a world of peace and racial equality." All of that is true and accurate of course, but it's nothing you haven't heard before and I feel like I'd just be dog piling at that point.

It might be even more than that too. You see when we find these things like Star Trek, they also become vehicles for us. They take us to other people, people we often end up sharing our lives with in one way or another. This was true in a way with my friend George and it sure as hell was true with my friend Brad (oh the times he and I would rewind episodes just to cackle at "he's dead, Jim.") That's when fandom or "geekdom" is at its best, right? We find these other people who love the same things, we share it, and we develop bonds that eventually transcend what brought us together in the first place.

Thank you, Star Trek. My life would be a lonelier place without you. Live long and prosper.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Waiting for that nanotech interface

Cybernetic interfaces connecting human brains to machines.

Yeah, you've never seen me blog about that before, right? Of course you have. Well, you're going to read it again because transhumanist Peter Diamandis has me thinking about it. 

Diamandis is the founder of Singularity University, a think tank of other transhumanists dedicated to scientific advancement. Among these proposed advancements is the expansion of the human lifespan, a goal of Diamandis since he was in medical school. "Stopping you from dying is the first step," he says. All well and good. I'm for not dying. Most days, anyway. But I must admit to being more intrigued by his proposals for brain-machine interface.

This would, he asserts, likely be accomplished via nanotechnology and implants. If you're a regular ESE reader then you should know by now this is no exercise in fiction. Researchers at the University of California have already made progress towards neural implants that will enhance cognitive function and that's just one more in a long line of efforts towards implants. I'm certainly interested in the enhancement of cognitive function but it's uploading that interests me.

Diamandis eschews addressing it in the article and I suppose I don't blame him. Peradventure it's a gamble and making any prognostications one way or another only invites ridicule. At the same time, why focus on extending lifespan when you can get rid of "meat" completely? Upload your consciousness to computer. Truly live forever. Switch from artificial body to artificial body, bodies of any size or form you wish. Have complete control over your physical self...if you even choose to have a physical self. The consciousness, the mental faculties, what makes you "you," isn't that what we really want to retain? I certainly wouldn't mind being unhindered by meat.

I understand that might not be a popular view but it just grows more and more enticing to me. So much less to keep up, so many ways to modify, and so much less that can go wrong. Think about it. What could be a more "recession proof" existence than not needing food or shelter?

Then again I'm having nasty problems with my wireless router right now, so maybe that doesn't bode well.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The strange UFO incident of Armando Valdes

I was watching one of those "docudrama" UFO shows recently.

You know the ones? Ominous narrator? Spooky music? Makes the smallest detail sound like something insidious ("They found only mayonnaise in the refrigerator...")? Yeah. One of those. Anyway, watching it led to something positive: I learned of a quirky case I've never previously heard of. That takes a bit of doing.

Please understand that I don't mean that in any kind of conceited way. Really. It's just that I've been reading about this kind of thing since I was like seven. I sometimes settle into the dangerous sense that I've pretty much heard of it all. Not so.

Geez, I'm taking a long time get around to it, aren't I? Patience. Allow the post to matriculate.

I'm talking about the case of Armando Valdes. He was a Corporal in the Chilean Army who led a team of six men on maneuvers in April of 1977. On a night during these vagarious exercises, he and his men had made camp and a campfire. At 4:15am, they noticed two glowing objects descending from the sky...or so the account states. Cpl Valdes ordered his men to ready their weapons while he approached one of the objects to investigate. It was then that his fellow soldiers claimed he simply disappeared.

A full 15 minutes later, he just reappeared. As his men approached him, Valdes reportedly said, "You do not know who we are, nor where we come from. But I tell you that we will soon return." After shaking to, Valdes said he remembered nothing of the previous 15 minutes. Nothing. The men on the other hand, found that he had about a week's worth of beard growth on his jaw and the date on his watch had advanced five days.

That's where the story ends. No evidence beyond the purported beard growth and the change of date on Valdes' watch. Since the army unit was operating inside the vast desert of Chile, an obvious initial offering of explanation for the UFOs was a mirage. Of course that doesn't explain the alleged physical and mental affects on Valdes. Additionally, there were a considerable number of UFO sightings across Chile at that time.

Then again, that might have been sign of a weakness in the case. It seems that UFOs had indeed been in the news much at that time. Did that influence...or even help create...this story? I have been trying to find out more about this skeptical side of things but one of the only links I've found is to a dead site. I have also been unsuccessful in locating any current information on Valdes. Is he still alive? What has he said in later years about his claims? If anyone has links, please leave them in comments.

While I'm not reserving much hope, this would be a fascinating case if it proves to have any validity. It would of course mean that the unknown entities responsible for the abduction can manipulate not only space but time. Valdes would have gone, evidently, five days into the future and then returned. Plus, what of his cryptic and eerie statement upon his return?

Things like that keep me up at night.

That is if this case were about a real event and it probably isn't. 


Not to belabor the whole X-Files cliche, but "I want to believe"...even if there isn't really any evidence. The beings are returning? Great. Come on by any time you want.

It would make a warm and welcome distraction from my real world concerns.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Gisele and the water dress

Art is ephemeral.

Or it can be, anyway.

A while back, a friend and I were talking about the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Such spectacles are always weird affairs it seems, as if the planning sessions involve Dr. Seuss and Salvador Dali taking massive doses of hallucinogens and then seeing who could be more avant garde. The opening in Rio featured the Brazilian native and former supermodel-turned-NFL-wife Gisele Bundchen making her final catwalk.

"It looked like she was just stomping around," my friend said and then proceeded to give a seated demonstration.

I laughed but half-heartedly attempted to defend her.

"At least she gave us the water dress," I said.

He didn't remember. I reminded him that about ten years ago, Gisele appeared in ad for her line of eco-friendly sandals. She was also wearing what looked like a splash of water rendered into a dress. I've always remembered the image, even though it is likely the result of a good deal of Photoshopping. The flow of the water tapered towards the knees and then spread out into droplets, just as you might imagine with the fringe of dress. There was an intentionally prurient aspect to this of course. There is the illusion that Gisele's hot body is covered only by a surface both as translucent and as flimsy as water.

I thought of it as an opportunity to fiction writing. Imagine a setting such as a space station where a hot female character slides up next to the protagonist in a bar or other such cliche setting. This woman is wearing a dress with all the appearance and properties of water.

"Since when do you care so much about fashion?" my friend asked.
"I don't," I reply. "I care about art. Though not many others do it seems. They've forgotten the water dress."
"I thought art was eternal?"
"I subscribe to philosophical relativism."

And so it went.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets