aliens

Never Mind the Ads: A quick explanation

Just a quick note for those suddenly noticing advertisements on this site.

Most of you have already been seeing the ads for months, but in 2019 the expenses for running this place increased.  Because I like to run a photo-heavy music site (you’re welcome!), and after almost seven years, I’ve finally run out of storage space.  I had to upgrade the site which costs more.  The upgrade also comes with more bells & whistles; we’ll see if I use them, but the point is I had to offset operating costs by trying to increase advertising dollars.

In the past, readers logged in to a WordPress account wouldn’t see the ads.  Now, you will.  I’m sorry for doing that to you, and even though you’re a small portion of readers, I need to maximise the ad potential.

Many, many apologies and heartfelt thanks for reading.  I hope you’ll understand and hang on in 2019!

As a thank-you for your understanding, I present to you one of the WordPress bells & whistles I can give you now:  Embedded audio.  The track (a mikeladano.com exclusive) you are about to hear is called “Cryptozoology Rap (Alien on the End of My Knob)” by an anonymous artist.  It is a Sausagefest classic.  Hope you enjoy it.


“Cryptozoology Rap (Alien on the End of My Knob)


 

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Sunday Chuckle: Giorgio Tsoukalos edition

Buddy Chris and I had a running joke about UFO “expert” Giorgio Tsoukalos.  Everything seemed to explained by…aliens!  Could it be…aliens?   I came into work one day to find this taped to my file cabinet.  I love it!

#556: Shazam Kazaam! It’s a Fire in the Sky!

GETTING MORE TALE #556: Shazam Kazaam! It’s a Fire in the Sky!

Do you recall a 1996 kids’ movie called Kazaam starring Shaquille O’Neal as a genie? If you’re like me, the answer is “no”, because you’re too old.  From browsing the shelves of your local video stores, over the years you may have seen the VHS or DVD for Kazaam. It was a legendary flop, but not enough to kill Shaq’s movie career permanently. In 1997, he starred in DC Comics’ Steel (technically a Superman spinoff).

Something strange started happening a few years ago on the internet (home of the strange).  People came out of the woodwork remembering a completely different movie: Not Kazaam, but Shazam, starring Sinbad instead of Shaq, as a genie. A simple case of convergent movie making a-la Deep Impact and Armageddon? Not this time. Sinbad says he never made such a movie, and there is no record of such a thing ever being made, anywhere by anybody.  Not in this universe.

This isn’t one or two people who say they’ve seen the nonexistent Shazam. It’s hundreds of people (so they claim), and some have vivid memories. A man named Don, who used to work at his uncle’s video store, says he distinctly remembers the two copies he had in stock. He claims that he had to watch it many times, because customers told him it was defective and he had to check.

kazaam-shazam

This kind of mass delusion has been called the “Mandela Effect”, named for the strange phenomenon of multiple people who remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s. Some think they may be transplanted natives of an alternate universe where the movie did exist, or Mandela did die in prison. Some think the movie (and every written record of it) was destroyed on purpose (somehow). Of course the truth is, these folks are just mixed up. They’re confusing something that Sinbad did with the Shaq movie, and people have even found pictures of Sinbad wearing a genie-like turban (from a 1995 Sinbad the Sailor movie marathon he hosted) that may have increased the confusion. No alternate universes necessary.

The simplest explanation is that memory is very fluid, and I have had my own experience similar to this. It too involved two movies with similarities.

In 1993, the sci-fi thriller Fire in the Sky was released and I was an instant fan. Alien abductions are such a neat subject, and Fire in the Sky depicted one of the most famous. Travis Walton disappeared in 1975. When he reappeared, he told a tale of being taken on a craft by strange beings. The movie elaborated on this with a scene set on the alien space ship.

The harrowing scene had Walton on an operating table with all sorts of alien mechanisms ready to poke and prod. The scene came to a terrifyingly sudden end as a sharp metal needle-like device made its way to his open eye. It touched the very surface of his eye…and jump cut to Travis waking up back on Earth!

The sequence seared itself into my memory. What a scare! I remembered the whole thing very clearly.  How could you forget it?  A few years after, I bought a used copy on VHS. I watched the whole thing on the edge of my seat. I cringed and waited for the spaceship scene with the needle and the eyeball.  I remembered vividly. My minds eye could see the needle indenting the surface of his eye….

But that wasn’t on the VHS version. The needle never touched his eye. The scene cut away prematurely, and ended before that happened…but I REMEMBERED!  I had seen it.  I knew what I had seen, because I have an “eye thing”, and stuff touching eyes generally grosses me out.  I don’t wear contacts for that reason.

I returned the tape to the store and explained it was an edited version with some content removed. I put myself on a waiting list for another copy. Perhaps the widescreen version would be un-edited.

Every copy of the VHS was the same. None featured the full contact eyeball scene.  Can you guess why?

Because the shot, as I remembered it, wasn’t in that movie.  It existed…but it wasn’t in Fire in the Sky.

It was in Star Trek: First Contact. In the flashback scene when Picard is abducted by the Borg, he is operated on. A needle makes its way to his eye…and actually touches the surface before Picard awakes. Picard was just dreaming! But that was the origin of the eyeball-touching that I had misremembered as being in Fire in the Sky. I was so sure that I returned every tape that didn’t have the shot, but it was me that was wrong!

 

Two science fiction movies, two alien abductions, two eye-related medical procedures (both on the right eye)…combined into one memory.

I can understand the confusion of the Shazam/Kazaam people. I have experienced it myself. You can be absolutely certain of something until confronted by the real memory, as I was. If anybody else saw the same two movies I did, then I bet at least one of them confused the same two scenes too.

Personally, I’m happy to not live in a universe where Sinbad made a genie movie.

 

Sunday Chuckle: Aliens

My dad really likes Giorgio Tsoukalos — you know the guy? The dude with the crazy hair from Ancient Aliens who always has the same conclusion: “Could it be…aliens?”

I try to get my dad to be a little more skeptical and use his critical thinking skills when it comes to that show. After all, not everything is just explained by saying “aliens”. Dad argued back that “Giorgio Tsoukalos is an expert and knows what he’s talking about!” So I Googled him to see if that’s true. From Wikipedia’s sourced article:

Tsoukalos is a 1998 graduate of Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, with a bachelor’s degree in sports information and communication. For several years he worked as a bodybuilding promoter and a volunteer in IFBB sanctioned bodybuilding contests, including Mr. Olympia. He produced and directed the annual San Francisco Pro Grand Prix in years 2001-2005.

Sorry dad!  You lose this time.

Blu-ray REVIEW: Paul (2011)

By special request of J, from Resurrection Songs!


 

PAUL_0001PAUL (2011 Universal)

Directed by Greg Mottola

You know how most comedies today put all the best stuff in the trailers, and the movies are crap? Paul is the opposite. The trailers sucked (Paul mooning out of a bus window?) but the movie is so much better. To my surprise and joy, Paul is a satisfying sci-fi-comedy with witty dialogue and great performances.

A lot of people (myself included) are sick of Seth Rogen, but Paul succeeds both because of and in spite of him. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost co-wrote and co-starred in a great movie here. It succeeds in combining characters that you actually care about with outrageous situations. Throw in some damn fine sci-fi references and superior casting, and now we’re cooking.

It is a science fiction nerd’s dream. Remember that “Homage-o-meter” that was on the DVDs of Spaced? You could do the same thing with Paul. From little bits of dialogue here and there (“Punch it!”) to flat out homages (re-enacting the Kirk-Gorn fight on the same mountain) this movie is loaded with loving references to the best of the best of the best.

What about the story?

Remember that “UFO” that crashed in Roswell in 1947? Turns out, that was Paul. He crash landed on Earth and has been here ever since, but he just wants to get home. See, the big nasty US government wants to cut out his brain, to gain his powers. In the decades since his arrival here on Earth, his image has been leaked out to us in the form of movies (great Speilberg voice cameo), so as to not shock us when contact is eventually revealed to the world. But before brain surgery and full disclosure, Paul escapes and runs into our two heroes, straight on their way from Comic-Con. Thus begins our sci-fi-bromance-road-trip comedy.

Before too long, Paul, Clive (Frost) and Graeme (Pegg) are on the run from the CIA, with others complicating the mix. Two “hillbilly types” and a Bible thumper are also chasing them for their own reasons. Along the way they meet Ruth (Kristin Wiig), a sheltered Christian girl who has her faith shaken by Paul, but provides much needed help. And let’s not forget Keith Nash! (I want a Keith Nash spinoff movie!)

The reason this works are many. One: the humour is not too outrageous as it is with many of today’s comedies. It combines the right amount of emotion with the juvenile humour. Two: the plot twists and turns. Its carefully woven elements all rhyme, emerging at the appropriate times. Lastly, all the characters are actual characters. It seems character is a writing skill lost in many of today’s movies. Well, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg do not lack that problem. Graeme and Clive are as well written and fully fleshed out as any classic comedy characters.

Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Joe Lo Truglio, Sigourney Weaver, and the mighty, immortal Jeffrey Tambor (as pompous sci-fi author Adam Shadowchild) all lend their skills to this wonderful movie.

Bonus features are fun. I particularly enjoyed seeing how the live action stuff was filmed since Paul himself was all CG. There are also two cuts of the movie – both equally entertaining.

4.5/5 stars

Part 148: Navigate the Seas of the Sun

RECORD STORE TALES Part 148:

Navigate the Seas of the Sun

We had a staff Halloween party in the late 1990’s.  T-Rev had this cool “alien head” — he got it back in ’97 or ’98 from a convenience store.  It had alien head suckers inside.  He asked the guy at the store, “how much for the alien head?”  The guy answered, “If you buy all the suckers in it, you can have it.”  So he did.

The candy was awful by the way.  I did my share, trying to help him consume it all.

But he got this alien head out of it, and with it, made a cool alien costume.   And for the Halloween party that year, I wore the costume.

We had one girl at the store who had a phobia of aliens.  I’d never heard of that before.  We found it amusing, so after she got to the party, I came up the stairs wearing the alien costume.  Well, she was just terrified.  We thought it would be funny, but it wasn’t funny.  If I could go back and change that, I would.  It was a dick move on our part.

I don’t know the story behind the alien phobia, but back then I didn’t believe in aliens.  I subscribed to Carl Sagan’s theories.  I was a big fan of his book The Demon Haunted World.   I simply didn’t think there was any evidence for alien visitation, nor did I think it was possible.  Speed of light and all that.

Since that time I’ve read a lot of books.  Stanton T. Friedman was the most convincing.  A nuclear physicist has credentials that are difficult to dismiss, and he makes convincing cases.  I’ve also read Whitley Strieber, Jenny Randles, and many others.  I’ve come to the undeniable conclusion that some UFO sightings are real.  Most are hoaxes.  I’m not interested in those.

But what the hell does this have to do with music?

Aliens and UFO’s have provided subject matter for numerous classic rock and metal songs.  Sammy Hagar’s a believer, and he’s incorporated that into some of his lyrics.  Mick Mars is a hardcore believer.  Blue Oyster Cult’s “Take Me Away” is a great example.  Fu Manchu’s “King of the Road”.  There’s many more.

In my years of collecting though, I have never found a better set of lyrics on the subject than side 1 of Bruce Dickinson’s excellent Tyranny of Souls album. Kevin, an employee, picked me up a copy at HMV Toronto back when they still sold Japanese imports.  That was the cool thing about working in a record store. We helped each other out.

Bruce Dickinson is clearly a believer.  I suspect he’s read his share of Von Daniken.  Witness the lyrics to “Mars Within”:

Mankind returns to the stars
But sometimes, the stars return to mankind…
Didn’t you come this way before, a million years ago?

Although there’s also a reference to Professor Bernard Quatermass in the same piece, it’s easy to associate these lines with Von Daniken’s theories on ancient aliens.

But there’s so much more on the same album.  “Abduction”:

Are you the truth to sit in judgement on my sins
Evil laser gadgets come to penetrate my skin

The next song, “Soul Intruders”, is more abstract but contains clear space references about the “solar wind” and “cosmic streams of time”.  But one really cool lyric is “Kill Devil Hill” which combines these themes with the Wright Brothers and first flight.  Everyone knows Bruce is a pilot and is interested in the history of aviation.  The Kill Devil Hills, near Kitty Hawk in North Carolina, is where the Wrights were the first to achieve heavier than air powered flight.  But the lyrics hint at more:

Blood brothers of angels, now hear us
We earthbound your offspring, don’t fear us
God willing, we’ll raise up, be near you
So open your arms now and take us

To me, Bruce is referring to the aliens as the “blood brothers of angels”, and mankind as its offspring. This too is a common theme in UFO lore.  Some believe that, at minimum, aliens have manipulated our DNA and directly interfered with our evolution.  There’s no proof of course, but that’s not my point.  I’m just looking at the lyrics and their inspirations.

The final song of these sci-fi themes on the album is “Navigate the Seas of the Sun”.  Bruce even paraphrases Albert Einstein:

If God is throwing dice,
And Einstein doesn’t mind the chance
We’ll navigate the seas of the sun

Einstein once said, “As I have said so many times, God doesn’t play dice with the world.”  Einstein was talking about quantum mechanics and its seemingly random predictions.  But what Bruce seems to be saying is, if Einstein’s wrong about the universe, then there’s a chance we can break the speed of light and journey to the stars.

Later on in the same song, Bruce changes up the wordplay:

If Einstein’s throwing dice,
and God, he doesn’t mind the chance
We’ll navigate the seas of the sun

I love this.

The song is loaded with all sorts of beautiful sci-fi wordplay.  The song is clearly about leaving Earth behind:

So we go and will not return
To navigate the seas of the sun
Our children will go on and on
To navigate the seas of the sun

This conjures up the image of multi-generational ships that may be necessary to colonize other worlds.  The song in general brings to mind the Arthur C. Clark novel The Songs of Distant Earth.  Eventually, our sun will use up all its fuel.  This is inevitable.  It’s physics.  If humanity is to survive (if we even last that long) we will have no choice but to find another world to live on.  Earth will be fried to a cinder when it goes nova and turns into a red giant.

We can’t go on tomorrow
Living death by gravity
Couldn’t stand it anymore
We’ll sail our ships to distant shores

Death by gravity is another theme that Clarke explored in his books.  He felt that we could extend our lives by leaving this cradle and living in zero gravity.  Now we know that living in zero gravity deteriorates our bones, possibly to the point of no return.  So should we go on to explore the stars, this is an obstacle that must be overcome.

I’m grateful to Kevin for supplying the Japanese version of Tyranny of Souls, but I’m really, really sorry to the girl that we scared with the alien costume!  With the benefit of hindsight, I wouldn’t have done it if I knew then what I believe today.