Saturday, December 30, 2006

Tag- You're It!

Someone from Australia blog-tagged me, so I figured I’d get in on the fun. Basically, you tag five people and hope they continue the game. Also, you've got to list 5 facts about yourself.

First, I'll list my tagging method, then the tagged. After that, come the 5 facts.

I used a highly scientific method to do the tag- I have two friends on my blog list- Edward and Samantha, so I decided to use them to do a six degrees of separation thingy. Basically, I went to Edward’s site, clicked on of his friends links, then clicked on a friends link there, and so on until I was 6 blogs away. I did two with Edward, and two with Samantha. For the fifth one, I used that method with the guy who tagged me originally.

And who are the 5 blogs who got tagged?

Why, they’re

bomb diggities
Memoirs of an Evil Genius
A Yankee in Bermuda

5 Facts about me:

1. When I was 8, I won the Indian Guides Pinewood derby competition. Sadly, the trophy I got was the first and only sports-related trophy I ever received.
2. I'm the proud owner of a copy of "Amazing Fantasy" #15, featuring the first appearance of Spider-Man.
3. I met my wife when I was on vacation in Ecuador. She was working the front desk of the hotel I was staying at. I spent two weeks gawking at her before I worked up the nerve to ask her out. The rest is history.
4. My favorite cities- in the US, it's New Orleans. In the rest of the world, it's Tokyo.
5. At the present time, I am totally kicking butt on Guitar Hero II.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Convention Find #4- The Star Wars Holiday Special

A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks in Australia. The hotel where I was staying had a pretty nice breakfast buffet. My first morning there I tried a traditional Australian food known as Vegemite. It was horrendous! I had never tasted anything so awful before, and I couldn’t believe that the fine folks at Kraft were trying to pass this off as food.

My second day there, I had some Vegemite again. Why? Simple. I thought to myself that it couldn’t have been as awful as I remembered, so I wanted to try it to make sure. It was as awful as I remembered.

Which brings us to my latest Convention Find- The Star Wars Holiday Special, the Vegemite of TV Specials. It’s so awful you have to watch it again just to assure yourself that you weren’t hallucinating its awfulness the first time you saw it.

In 1977, Star Wars (I refuse to call it “A New Hope” or “Episode Four”- we all called it “Star Wars” when it came out, and “Star Wars” it will remain) was released and was a huge financial success. It permeated the culture and helped revive the moribund science fiction genre in movies. It was inevitable that there would be a sequel (even if George Lucas hadn’t already planned out a 9 episode arc).

Skip ahead to 1978. The Empire Strikes Back is still some months away, and Kenner’s got a buttload of new “Star Wars” toys that it wants to sell at Christmas. How do you keep the franchise in the forefront of everyone’s minds? Why, a Christmas Special, of course. But since the series takes place “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away”, the show can’t actually refer to Christmas. So, the producers make up the Wookiee holiday “Life Day,” and center the story around Chewbacca’s family as they await Chewie’s return for the big holiday.

We start off with scenes pulled from the movie- the Millennium Falcon is trying to escape some Imperial Ships. Cut to inside, where Han and Chewy exposit a bit about how Han has never let Chewie down before when he needed to get home for Life Day. (Incidentally, despite the fact that this is an official Star Wars movie, and most of the major players from the movie appear in it, they do not use any of the actual sets. That explains why the interiors of the Millennium Falcon have a somewhat cardboardy look to them.)

Cut to the credits.

When we return, we meet the members of Chewie’s family: his wife, Mala; his father, Itchy; and his son, Lumpy. (Yes- Itchy, Lumpy and Chewie. Do all Wookiee men have adjectives for names?) They are having a typical Wookiee day- Mala’s doing housework, Itchy is sitting around, and morbidly obese Lumpy is trying to steal some cookiees, err... cookies. (Actually, later we’ll find out they’re actually called “Wookiee-Ookiees.” Gah.) They also talk to each other in that roaring Wookiee language. This goes on for 10 minutes (I timed it with my VCR), with nary a subtitle to help us out.

Finally, something happens- Lumpy walks over to one of those holographic chess tables from the first movie, and spends 5 minutes watching some proto-Cirque du Soleil shenanigans set to boring New Age music.

Mala walks over to a viewscreen and sees a message that there are no starships in the vicinity. She then opens a secret panel, which reveals another viewscreen. She uses this to call our next guest stars, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and R2-D2. This special must have been shot not too long after Hamill’s motorcycle accident, because the skin on his face (especially around is eyes) is oddly tight and plasticy, and he is made-up to almost Tammy Faye Bakker levels. Mala tells him she is worried about Chewie, and he reassures her that her husband will be home before too long. Their conversation is in what I like to call “Lassie-speak”, where Mala roars something in Wookiee, Luke repeats what she said in English (for the benefit of us who are non-proficient Wookiee speakers), and then answers her. You know, like this:

Mala: “Roar, Rooowwwer!”
Luke: “What’s that Mala? You’re worried about Chewbacca? Don’t worry, he’ll be home soon.”
Mala: “Growlllll... Growllll”
Luke: “Do I think he’s going to bring you lots of presents? Of course he is.”

And so on.

(You know, if I were having a conversation with someone and the first part of their reply was always a restatement of what I told them, I’d probably end up roaring and growling at them, too.)

Anyway, the rocket engine Luke is working on suddenly starts emitting copious amounts of smoke, so Luke signs off.

Next, Mala contacts Saun Dan, a trader. Saun Dan is played by Art Carney- a very overweight Art Carney who seems unable to button up his shirt. What follows is a brief sketch where an imperial Storm Trooper is looking to buy a personal groomer. I’m not sure if this sketch is supposed to be funny, or if it was even rehearsed beforehand- the pacing is very odd, with a lot of pauses, as if the two were just improvising the whole scene. After the trooper leaves, Saun Dan gives Mala the same type of assurances (in Lassie-speak) that Luke gave her.

Quick cut to one of the Imperial battleships, where Darth Vader is talking to one of his officers about the Millennium Falcon’s escape, and how they must search every house on the planet to find the two rebels. This scene was obviously taken from the movie and then overdubbed, as the officer’s mouth in no way matches the words that are coming out it.

Back at Casa de Bacca, we get what is intended to be a comedy sketch. Mala is preparing Bantha Rump for dinner, and she turns on a cooking show to see how it’s done. The show features Harvey Korman as Goormanda, a Julia Child-type cook with four arms. The four arms allow Goormanda to prepare the food much faster than Mala, who has trouble keeping up. Mala gets flustered and turns off the TV. Comedy gold!

Out in space, the Millennium Falcon is still trying to evade the Imperial forces. An announcement comes over the viewscreen that a blockade is now in place around the planet, and the Empire has declared martial law.

Saun Dan comes to visit the ‘Bacca house, and brings Life Day presents for the family. What follows is a truly disturbing scene- Itchy’s present is a memory chip, which Saun Dan describes as being very “Wow!” Itchy sits in a virtual reality chair, inserts the chip, and then puts a helmet on. Itchy smiles widely as Diahanne Carroll appears. She tells Itchy that she is his fantasy, and that he should enjoy and experience her fully. Then she sings a truly awful song. Itchy meanwhile grins lewdly and starts breathing heavily. At the end of the song, we see him lying back in the chair with a very satisfied look on his face. He probably needed a cigarette at that point.

Ignoring the her post-coital father-in-law (can you be post-coital if you’re by yourself?), Mala goes back to the viewscreen and calls Princess Leia and C-3PO. Judging by her glazed expression, and eyes that are all pupil, Leia is played by what looks to be a pre-rehab Carrie Fisher. Leia and 3PO give Mala the same assurances that Luke did, and sign off.

Back on the Falcon, Han and Chewie have broken through the Imperial blockade, and decide to land in a safe area in the north section of the planet. They’ll have to walk from there. (Apparently, the Wookiees live on a pretty small planet.)

Mala hears a knock on the door, and rushes over, assuming it’s her husband. Unfortunately, it’s two Imperial officers and two stormtroopers, who proceed to search the house. They nearly discover Mala’s hidden communicator, but Saun Dan distracts them by suggesting that Mala prepare food for everyone. He also gives one of the officers a video to watch. This one features Jefferson Starship doing a song that is almost as good as “We Built This City.”

After the video, the search continues, with the stormtroopers going upstairs to Lumpy’s room. To show how evil they are, the troopers rip the head off of Lumpy’s stuffed Bantha. While this is going on, Lumpy stays distracted by watching a cartoon of his father’s adventures:

The Millennium Falcon crashes on a water planet. Luke, Leia, R2 and 3PO go after them, and run into Boba Fett, who wants to help them. They all board the Falcon, where Han has been infected by a mysterious sleeping virus caused by an ancient talisman. Luke immediately contracts the virus as well. Fett tells Chewie that he can get a cure in a nearby, Imperial-occupied city. Once there, Fett instructs Chewie to stay behind while he gets the cure. After he’s away from Chewie, Fett contacts Darth Vader and informs him of the situation. He tells Vader he will deliver the rebels to him. On the Falcon, as C-3PO is caring for Han and Luke, he and R2-D2 intercept the message. Fett and Chewie return to the Falcon, and cure Han and Luke. After they recover, 3PO tells everyone about Fett’s plan. Fett ignites his jet pack and blasts away, promising that he will meet them all again. Everyone then returns to the rebel base on board the Falcon.

After the cartoon is over, and the stormtroopers have moved to another part of the house, Lumpy goes back to his room and opens the present that Saun Dan gave him. It’s a bunch of electronic parts and an instructional video. The video, our next bit of “comedy”, features Harvey Korman as a malfunctioning robot who acts out the assembly instructions for the kit. The hilarity consists of video and audio tomfoolery that make Korman look like a Max Headroom precursor.

Downstairs, the stormtroopers are still searching the house as the viewscreen comes on. A voice-over announces that the program, “Life On Tattoine”, is required viewing for everyone. We then cut to the Mos Eisley cantina, which is run by Bea Arthur. Harvey Korman shows up as his third character (the guy’s a veritable Peter Sellers)- an alien who drinks by pouring liquids into the hole on the top of his head. Stormtroopers enter the bar, declare martial law (again!), and order everyone to their homes. Arthur ushers everyone out by singing a song. And, yes, it was probably the awfulness of the song rather than the martial law that caused everyone to leave the bar.

All of a sudden, the troopers get a transmission telling them to return to base. All but one leave. The remaining trooper discovers that the return to base is not an official command, but is coming from the kit the Lumpy built. He destroys the kit, and then chases Lumpy downstairs and outside the house.

As soon as they’re outside, Chewie and Han show up. Chewie rescues Lumpy by casually strolling across the porch and standing between him and the trooper. Han, meanwhile, sneaks up behind the trooper and knocks a blaster out of his hands. The trooper then conveniently trips, falls over a railing and plummets to his death to the forest below. (Did I mention that Wookiees live in big treehouses, hundreds of feet in the air? Well, they do.)

With Chewie reunited with his family, they can have their Life Day celebration. This consists of dressing in red graduation robes, holding glowing spheres and walking through outer space with a bunch of other Wookiees. When they reach their destination, they are met by Han, Luke, Leia, C-3PO and R2D2. Leia sings a Life Day song (very off-key), set vaguely to John Williams’ “Star Wars Theme” as Chewie flashes back to all of his adventures from Star Wars.

The end.

Looking back at what I’ve written, I see my summary takes up nearly 4 pages in Word, which would imply that something happened during this show. Nothing could be further from the truth. For two hours (including commercials), we are forced to watch interminable scenes of Wookiee growls followed poorly paced and horribly unfunny “comedy” sketches. Or, for a change of pace, we get amazingly awful songs.

Everyone looks uncomfortable in this- most give off a “I’m only doing this because I’m contractually obligated” vibe. Carrie Fisher seems to have gotten through it only by being highly medicated.

I started off this review with the joke about Vegemite. At least, I intended it to be a joke until I watched this video again. It had been at least 5 years since the last time I watched the show, and I wanted to see it again so I could write with it fresh in my mind. But, my goodness, it truly was painful to watch. I was glad I had it on tape so I could fast forward through all the boring parts (which comprise about 95% of the show). In a complete turnabout from the way most people watch TV shows on video, I fast-forwarded through the show just so I could get to the commercials, which were infinitely more entertaining than the program which surrounded them.

I was at a loss to describe how terrible this production is, until I was hit by this thought: George Lucas has said there will never be an official, Lucas-approved version released on DVD. Ever. Lucas is proud of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith and has released them in deluxe DVD editions. But no Holiday Special DVD.

Heck- you can get Howard the Duck on DVD. But not The Star Wars Holiday Special. It’s that bad.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Convention Find #3- If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?

In the late 1960s, Ron Ormond was nearly killed in a plane crash, and, as a result, became a born-again Christian. Prior to the crash, Ormond had directed and/or produced such exploitation fare as Mesa of Lost Women, Outlaw Women, The Monster and the Stripper, and so forth. With his new outlook on life, he decided to leave such sleazy entertainment behind and to produce movies that would help spread the Word. His first effort, If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?, shows that while you can take the man out of the exploitation world, you can’t take the exploitation world from the man.

To make this film, Ormond teamed up with Rev. Estus Pirkle to film one of the reverend’s sermons, and added some dramatizations to round out the film. The idea was to show this movie to congregations and warn them of the danger to the United States if our country falls away from God’s word. Since this was the 1970s, there was only one real danger to worry about- a Communist takeover!

We begin with the credits rolling over some uniformed men on horseback. An off-screen voice asks, “Reverend Pirkle, are the pictures we about to see true fact, or are they figments of your imagination?” Of course, we know Pirkle’s reply- “I can document every statement in this film. And all of the documented re-enactments are taken from actual events that have taken place in Russia, Korea, China, and Cuba, where the communists have already taken over. The only difference is that we’re using Americans to emphasize that the same thing can and will happen.... if they take over.” (And by Americans he means white, small-town Southerners.)

With the credits over, the movie can start. We see Judy being driven to church by some guy who we assume is her boyfriend. Judy, like all the women in this movie, is dressed in some very 70s clothes, and has an elaborately ugly hairdo. As they arrive in church, we realize Judy is a sinner- she says she is only showing up for the sake of appearances. Her boyfriend won’t go in because “[He’s] not a Christian, [he’s] a lover.”

Judy enters the church and takes a pew near the front. We see the church is full of very bored-looking parishioners, and then we see the source of their boredom. We cut to a very tight shot of Rev. Pirkle as he begins his sermon. Get used to seeing Pirkle’s face in close-up- I’d say at least 50-60% of the movie consists of this shot. (Another good portion of the film is footage of people getting gunned down, as we will see.)

Pirkle begins by asking if his parishioners are concerned about their country, about rising crime rates, riots on college campuses, if they think things are getting better. He tells them that there must be a revival in America within the next 24 months, otherwise God completely forsake America and go to another country at the Second Coming instead (He scares his parishioners by saying that maybe God will save Brazil or Indonesia instead of the US). In addition, America will be taken over by the Communists! He warns us that there are “footmen” around us, weakening our minds and wills, and eventually enabling the Communists to take us over.

What kind of footmen do we have to watch out for? Let’s see- there are the violent and sex-filled cartoons on TV. In fact, TV is bad in and of itself. According to Pirkle’s carefully researched facts, TV has increased crime by 1000%! And TV will turn people away from reading the Bible! To illustrate this, we get a POV shot from inside a television, showing a young boy watching what must be an exciting TV show (probably a sexy violent cartoon), because he is getting very wound up watching it. Sitting next to him is Dad, trying so hard to read his Bible, but getting increasingly distracted by Junior and his pornographic anime. Eventually, Dad puts the Bible away and joins in on the fun with his son.

What are some other footmen? How about drive-ins (“a spawning house for sex!”) or dancing (“Just as wrong as it’s always been! It’s the front door to adultery! The thing that started on the dance floor is expected to be finished in a parked car or a motel somewhere!”) This really gets to Judy, as she has an acid flashback to that time she put on make-up, danced with some guy, and drank some alcohol (presumably after watching TV).

And with all this moral weakening, the true horrors will come- America will fall under the boot of Communism. How? Well, Pirkle and Ormond skimp on the details- all we see is a clip of a TV anchorman telling his audience that the president, his chief advisors and the governors of several states have been killed. According to Pirkle, it will only take 15 minutes for all of this to happen.

And now comes the fun part, as Ormond reaches into his exploitation bag of tricks to show us what life in America will be like under the Communists.

Initially, the persecution of Christians will consist of gunning as many of them down as possible, as demonstrated by shots of bloody, bullet-riddled bodies.

Then, they will come to take Christian children from their families to put them into re-education camps. If you resist, you will be gunned down (as demonstrated by shots of the bloody, bullet-riddled bodies of one kid’s parents). “What does re-education consist of?” you ask. The lesson will be very cunning and subtle- we see a Communist teacher asks his students to pray for Jesus Christ for candy, with no result. Then the children pray to Fidel Castro (Castro? Castro?!?!, you mean we end up getting conquered by the Cubans?) and voila!, a soldier just happens to come in and dump a bag of candy in the classroom! (Actually, the candy doesn’t look all that good. That's what you get for praying to a small-timer like Castro. I bet Brezhnev or Mao would have provided Milky Ways.)

And the atrocities mount. The soldiers come upon a man teaching a sermon in the middle of an open field (which seems to be a pretty stupid place to hold it, considering all the gunning down of Christians that is going on.) To prevent the kids from ever again hearing the word of God, one child has bamboo shoved in one ear and out the other. Luckily, the skull contains no vital organs because the kid seems to be pretty much OK, other than the fact that he vomits profusely into the camera. (And I must give Ormond and the kid points for the truly effective vomit- it’s not quite Linda Blair in The Exorcist, but it still looks pretty cool.)

We see other forms of torture- people being forced to stare for hours at a wall 7” away from them, causing their vision to blur; a man is kept out in the hot sun with no water for days, and is then force-fed salt; people must sit on hard benches from 5AM to 10PM listening to Communist propaganda. (Side note: The dialog in this part of the film may be familiar to any Negativland fans out there. Pirkle’s lines “Christianity is stupid,” “Communism is good,” “17 hours a day!” and a few others were later sampled for the song “Christianity is Stupid.”)

The soldiers next show up at the end of a church sermon, and pull aside a young couple who have just received Christ. As a reward, they are taken around the back and gunned down (as demonstrated by shots of their bloody, bullet-riddled bodies). When the rest of the parishioners run over to see what has happened, they are gunned down (as demonstrated by shots of their bloody, bullet-riddled bodies).

The last Christian left standing is a young boy who runs out of the church, carrying a picture of Jesus. The head soldier stops him, and, in an accent that changes from Bela Lugosi to Boris Badenov to Mississippi drawl (sometimes within the space of a few syllables), tells the kid that his parents are dead, but if he steps on the picture of Jesus, he will be well-taken care of. The kid contemplates this for a second, then looks off into space and says “Jeee-zzzuuuss, Yee-eew dahd fer mee-eee. Nay-ow, Ah wee-yull daah fer Yee-eew.” Whereupon the solder proceeds to gun hi.... er, wait- the soldier gets creative and saws the kid’s head off with a knife.

So, what about out harlot friend Judy? During all of these stories, we get occasional shots of her flashing back to her sinful life- the alcohol, the dancing, the pre-marital kissing. We also see her ignoring her aged Mama’s pleas to accept Jesus into her life. Finally, Mama has a heart attack and collapses into Judy’s arms. She tells Judy the only way she can be at rest is if Judy accepts Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior, and then dies. (Wow! Way to lay a really heavy guilt trip on your daughter!)

This memory, coupled with the story of the beheaded child, is too much for Judy. She screams “Noooo!” and runs up Rev. Pirkle to be saved. The acid must really be kicking in, because she also hallucinates her Mom is lying in her casket in front of her. (Surprisingly, they seemed to have buried Mama in the housedress and hairnet she was wearing when she died). Judy accepts Jesus, is saved, and will now go to Heaven when she dies.

Will you?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Hello Dollies!

We spent most of Thanksgiving week visiting my parents. While were there, my Mom received a copy of the Paradise Galleries catalog in the mail. For the large majority of you out there who haven’t heard of it, Paradise Galleries "offer[s] dolls by the world’s finest artists, painstakingly reproduced to their exacting standards at prices any collector can afford."

So, what do these dolls look like?

Brace yourself:

First up, have Thomas, an anatomically correct doll sculpted by Linda Spahic:

I hope Linda sculpted Thomas packing because that face ain't gonna get him a lot of women.

Anna Carter gives us this trio of cuteness:

You know- Morlocks are so adorable when they're young.

How about these kids from Kymberli Durden:

I think that "Kymberli Durden" is really Dr. Moreau in disguise.

Also from Kymberli Durden:

Mushmouth from the "Fat Albert Babies" Collection.

Another sweet treasure from Ms. Durden is anatomically correct Olivia:

I think Olivia's mom had a slight drinking problem while she was pregnant. In fact, Olivia looks like she was born with a hang-over.

By the way, this is Kymberli Durden:

If you see her on the street, do not make eye contact. Just keep walking.

Finally, from the "Hoochie Mama" collection, we have Margot:

According to the catalog, Margot "is a sultry vision in her lacy undergarments." She's crafted in Paradise Galleries "GentleTouch Vinyl." Aren't RealDolls also made of GentleTouch Vinyl?. (Although, I do think Margot's kind of hot. Am I going to Hell?)

Convention Find #2- Alternative 3

My previous review of Ghostwatch inspired me to start a series- “Convention Finds”- where I’ll review the various movies that I’ve picked up at conventions over the years. For this second part of the series, I’ve decided to keep with a theme established by Ghostwatch- the hoax film.

For a while the idea of extraterrestrial visitors was kind of in vogue among the public- there was Whitley Strieber’s Communion, Fox’s “Alien Autopsy”, “The X-Files” and the like all positing that there are aliens among us and the government is covering up this fact. (For the record, I believe that there is life on other planets, although I don’t think Earth has ever been visited by any alien life forms. To me, the evidence just isn’t there. However, I do like to read about unusual phenomena, so I briefly immersed myself in UFO lore.)

It was at this point that I first heard of Alternative 3- a documentary that had originally aired in Britain in 1977. Alternative 3 claimed that there was a vast conspiracy among the world’s governments which involved scientists that had gone missing, and secret space missions.

The show was part of an educational series called Science Report, and was hosted by Tim Brinton, a BBC announcer and future member of Parliament. It begins by investigating a “brain drain” going on in Britain, in which many of its top scientists, engineers, physicists, etc. were disappearing or dying under mysterious circumstances. One of the scientists- Dr. Ballantine- has left behind a mysterious videotape that is unplayable on standard equipment.

As the reporters delve farther into the mystery, evidence arises that points to the scientists having been involved in a secret American/Soviet plan in outer space. The evidence also suggests that space travel had been possible for much longer than was commonly accepted.

So what exactly was this secret plan? It seems scientists had determined that, due to massive pollution, the Earth's surface would be unable to support life for much longer. Three solutions to the problem were proposed: Alternative 1- detonating nuclear bombs in the stratosphere in order to allow the pollution to escape; Alternative 2- constructing an elaborate underground city; Alternative 3- populating Mars via a waystation on the Moon.

We see an interview with Apollo astronaut Bob Grodin who claims to have stumbled on a mysterious lunar base during his moonwalk. He tells the reporters that Ballantine’s videotape can only be played on machines equipped with a special decoding device. After the reporters secure such a device, we are treated to the smoking gun- the videotape depicts a landing on the Martian surface- in 1962! As Russian and American voices excitedly celebrate their achievement, something stirs beneath the Martian soil...

And then come the credits. You mean this was a work of fiction? (Yes- I realize this is how I ended my recap of Ghostwatch, but I believe in recycling.)

Yes- Alternative 3 is another BBC-sponsored prank (the show was originally to have aired on April 1. Due to some production snags, it didn’t premiere until June.) This one was both more and less effective than Ghostwatch. It was less effective because it didn’t cause the kinds of panicked reactions (and subsequent banning) of the latter show. But it was way more effective because this documentary really has legs- there are still people today who believe that what was shown in it was the truth.

I’m not qualified to give (nor am I very good at it when I try) any kind of psychological analysis of people who, for one reason or another, really need to believe in this kind of thing. As I said earlier, I believe in life on other planets, I just don’t think it’s made contact with us. I also believe that those in power cover up a lot of information, and tend to act in their own best interests over those of the people they’ve been chosen to govern. But there are many people who take this to the extreme and let it dominate their own critical facilities.

Looking at Alternative 3, it can feed paranoia- thirty years on, we are still worried about pollution, global warming, global cooling, and other environmental disasters, but our governments seem not be too concerned. Why, if environmental breakdown would also affect their lives, don’t they do something? Perhaps they do have a plan to help themselves at our expense.

Other UFOlogists have taken this and run with it. Milton William Cooper has stated that there was another alternative, which was elimination of vast segments of the population, possibly by biowarfare. AIDS was first seen only a few years this show. And what about Ebola, West Nile Virus and Bird Flu?

Well, surely the fact that there are acting and writing credits at the end of the show accounts for something? Nope- all part of clever disinformation process- disguise truth as fiction so that people will scoff at the truth-seekers.

Anyway- the DVD I have has a nice bonus feature- a videotape of a lecture at a UFO conference. The lecture starts off with the speaker showing the “Martian landing” segment. I didn’t describe this segment before, so let me do so now. It’s pretty cheesy- it starts off with aerial photography of a Mars lander flying over a desert-like landscape. The landscape fills most of the frame, although in the foreground we can see one of the legs of the lander. Every so often, the picture breaks into static. Whenever it comes back, we are a bit closer to Mars, and usually flying at a slightly different angle. (Hmm...) The picture goes out for an even longer time, and when it comes back the module has landed on the planet’s surface (Double Hmm...) Then comes the shocker- right by the lander’s leg, we see something is disturbing the soil. We don’t see whatever it is, we just see the soil being shifted as if something just under the surface is moving away. It looks kind of like those old cartoons where Bugs Bunny is traveling underground, and we see his path by the raised dirt.

There only audio is that off the audience watching this clip. There are a few muted “Ooohs” and “Aaahs” during the flight sequences, but I had to laugh at the reactions when the dirt started moving. The shocked “Oh my God”s are a wonder to hear. One gentleman just keeps muttering “Jesus, Jesus” over and over.

The lights come on and a large gentleman with a strange taste in clothes and an even stranger accent begins to speak about how this film was presented at a UFO conference and the experts point to this as proof beyond a reasonable doubt that there is life on Mars, and that it’s being covered up.

The rest of the lecture is pretty standard “X-Files” stuff, and not all that interesting to someone who isn’t fully into ET lore.

So, there you have it- my second Convention Find.

Another hoax.

Or is it? Maybe this review is part of the conspiracy, too.