From UFOs to how our traditional heroes are portrayed in popular media – everything we think we know is in question. Is that a good thing or not?

Imagination Connoisseurs question everything – let us know what you think in the comments section, below.

UFOs, The Invisible College and the nature of our reality.

Greetings Rob and to all of the Post Geek Singularity!

It’s been a it’s been a few months since I last wrote in. I’ve been watching the channel since the original Robservations episode, and have to say I’ve been particularly enjoying Elysaviews lately. I recently watched Possessor for the show and holy shit was I not at all prepared for the level of fucked-uppedness Young Cronenberg is willing to descend to. I absolutely loved it.

My last letter was about a book you recommended to me on an episode of Robservations last year, THE LAST WEREWOLF, and how best to adapt genre fiction into live action. In this letter, I wanted to recommend you a book Rob.

That is, unless you’ve already read it!

Not quite the UFO studied by The Invisible College – but a cool picture, nonetheless.

The book is called AMERICAN COSMIC by Dr. Diana W. Pasulka, who is a professor of philosophy and religious studies at UNC. It is both a non-fiction account of Dr. Pasulka’s time with a group of anonymous scientists and Silicon Valley types who secretly study the phenomenon of UFOs and refer to themselves as The Invisible College (might be where Grant Morrison got that) and also an examination of the influence of media and technology on memory and human belief systems.

Here’s a quick synopsis I pulled from Amazon

“Over the course of a six-year ethnographic study, D.W. Pasulka interviewed successful and influential scientists, professionals, and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who believe in extraterrestrial intelligence, thereby disproving the common misconception that only fringe members of society believe in UFOs. She argues that widespread belief in aliens is due to a number of factors including their ubiquity in modern media like The X-Files, which can influence memory, and the believability lent to that media by the search for planets that might support life. American Cosmic explores the intriguing question of how people interpret unexplainable experiences, and argues that the media is replacing religion as a cultural authority that offers believers answers about non-human intelligent life.”

From the deserts of New Mexico to the archives of the Vatican, Dr. Pasulka’s experience and insight into the beliefs of some of the smartest people on the planet makes for probably my favorite non-fiction book I’ve ever read. I highly recommend it to you Rob, or any of the members of the PGS who are interested.

It’s a very accessible read, and I think everyone from casual sci-fi fans to the deep sweat conspiracy nerds like myself will find it fascinating. I know the idea of conspiracy as a whole right now is tainted by current events, but I like to think of myself as one of the fun, non-insane conspiracy theorists who is more into researching weird shit than screaming at people online, and respects cogent discourse of all ideas, be them adherent to the Overton Window or not.

It really annoys me when people like me get lumped in with the alt right and the Q lunatics, although I do think the impetus for Q, a supposed time lensing technology project called Looking Glass would make a pretty cool movie. Please don’t come after me lol.

Anyway, in closing Rob I wanted to ask you what your beliefs or ideas about aliens and ufos are? Are you a nuts and bolts, psychical craft guy, a psychic projections guy, or more of the Jacque Vallee type where it’s somewhere in between, something unexplainably tied to human consciousness and the Observer Effect in a way that’s currently beyond our understanding? I find myself more in the latter of the 3 groups these days, especially after reading AMERICAN COSMIC.

LIVE LONG AND PROSPER
-TJ

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The joy of getting lost in THE FOG.

Rob,

John Carpenter’s THE FOG

Yesterday (Jan. 13th) was the 1 year anniversary of the first time I ever watched John Carpenter’s The Fog. That’s right, I was entering my 30th year on earth having never heard Stevie Wayne spinning soft jazz records from her lighthouse radio station KAB.

Having been a long time fan of Halloween and The Thing, I had heard of The Fog, but never got around to seeing it. Everyone seemed to skip over The Fog when discussing Carpenter, so to me it always felt like The Fog was probably just a cash grab horror follow up to Halloween and didn’t seem interesting. What the hell was fog going to do to someone?

Well, as the years went by and my nerd flag continued to rise, I found YouTube shows like Collider Heros and followed one of its co-hosts to his own channel and show: Robservations. I don’t recall if The Fog made it into your Fs movies list, but your love for all things Carpenter came through and got me interested in watching or rewatching his films.

Then, on Jan. 13th of last year, Shout Factory had a sale on all of their Carpenter movies in honor of his birthday. I was contemplating buying The Fog and Escape from New York, but since I hadn’t seen The Fog yet, I rented it first. As Dieter says, you don’t want to buy a cat in a bag!

Man, what a fantastic film. Absolutely no bagged cats in sight! From the campfire ghost story opening, to the moody opening credits, the fun characters, perfect score, creepy ghosts, and the low tones of a fog horn always audible in the distance; this movie hit the spot!

I highly recommend it to anyone in the PGS who’s been putting off seeing it like I was. While The Thing is still his best movie and Halloween will be my first Carpenter love, The Fog might be my favorite of his films. (Escape from New York kicks ass too).

Needless to say, I immediately bought one of Shout’s last Fog steel books. But, now that I have a 4K player, I’ll have to pick up the StudioCanal 4K. (You’ve created another physical media monster Rob!)

I’ve written in comments before on The Fog, but wanted to mark this personal movie anniversary with a letter. Thanks for reading and remember Stevie Wayne’s warning:

“To the ships at sea who can hear my voice, look across the water, into the darkness. Look for the fog.”
-Evan N.

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Isn’t all entertainment subversive to someone?

Hi Rob, moderators, and Post Geek Singularity,

Something I have noticed with some people, including my parents, is how they are against watching some entertainment because of who or what is on screen.

PBS’s SESAME STREET was considered “subversive” in some parts of the country when it first premiered because it showed a diverse cast living in an urban setting.

In television, for example, I discovered how the state commission of Mississippi chose not to air Sesame Street in 1970, because members of the commission felt Mississippi was not ready to see a show with a highly integrated cast of children, even though Jim Henson was from Mississippi, and worked on Sesame Street.

I’m Muslim, and because of that, my parents sometimes have issues with what I watch based on who or what is on screen. Most recently, for example, they had an issue with the fact I wanted to see Wonder Woman 1984, as well as when I saw the first Wonder Woman film now that I think about it, because Gal Gadot is Israeli. Another example was when I saw Call Me By Your Name, because in Islam, LGBT is completely unacceptable.

My case for those movies, and why I wanted to see them, was because I thought they looked good. Even though I did not end up liking Wonder Woman 1984, I did up enjoying the first Wonder Woman and Call Me By Your Name. I explained to them why I wanted to see them, saying I don’t really care who or what is on screen, as I just want to watch those movies because they looked good. For both Call Me By Your Name and the first Wonder Woman, I wanted to see those because they looked good based on the trailers and positive word of mouth. In Wonder Woman 1984, I wanted to see that film because I liked the first one, and so I was interested in seeing the sequel.

That was just something I noticed in some people, including my parents, where they will not watch something because of who or what is on screen. However, I always approached watching movies and tv shows with the thinking of, I don’t care who or what is on screen since I just want what I’m watching to be good and I’m entertained, because at the end of the day, it’s fiction not reality.

Thanks, live long and prosper.
-Omar

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Is it possible Star Wars is becoming even more tribal?

Hi Rob and the PGS,

Wondering about the time-honored subject of how to give content creators as much help as possible in anticipating what will most likely be embraced, supported and appreciated as opposed to what will be sniffed out as fruit of the poison tree and something that is taking up space and resources better applied to the former category.

The trap with Lucasfilm has been the question of camps based on what comes out of the tap and what has been said by various personalities. One in particular.

I try to keep in mind this quote:

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
— commonly attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt

It is tempting to re-hash each new layer of the onion that leaks out. From Michael Arndt saying that he was told of his outlines of Episode VII that Luke Skywalker as an active figure was “distracting from the new characters.” Then we know how that led to him being sidelined and these new episodes relying on flashbacks and mystery box format that seemed like the wrong fit for Star Wars.

If indeed Luke’s appearance in the finale of The Mandalorian season 2 was kept secret from the “Lucasfilm Story Group” a lot can be read into that. Now, how can I make sure we are talking about ideas and not people?

Every idea we have seen from The High Republic seems far afield from the work that needs to be done to right the ship with Star Wars. If there are not two camps in the company, someone had better tell them. There certainly are at least two camps in the prospective audience, and the one I am in may need reassurance.

Star Wars: UNDERGROUND was eventually forced underground (and out of existence) – although concepts from it may resurface in the upcoming BOOK OF BOBA FETT series on Disney+.

Before 2012, you could find an entry on imdb for Star Wars Underground which was supposed to star Daniel Logan as Boba Fett. Some of the preparation for that project apparently went into The Mandalorian. So who gets credit for that?

And we can ask about oversight when we hear the Kenobi series announced at a convention and we are told, “All the scripts are written” only to be told later they have started over. Were they going with a premise that involved the vigil over Luke and was it too close to the premise of The Mandalorian that Kennedy had suggested, looking after a child? How could those wires be crossed if those were the wires?

Will the Star Wars lore be compromised by having Kennobi actually leave Tatooine during his twenty year vigil? Just so there can be more razzle dazzle? Every new hint of additional characters diffuses my interest in that show. No problem with the leak that Anakin will appear as a force ghost in Ahsoka, but I will be shocked if his use in Kenobi isn’t cringe.

I am encouraged if an actor remains on the team despite outrage mobs on Twitter calling for their cancellation or firing. Someone can identify as a “Mandalorian fan” while not prioritizing the show over their own petty control issues. Very happy with how The Mandalorian has been handled. I find most of the Star Wars speculation exhausting.

If a producer does have decades of association with good movies, this does not preclude power going to one’s head and priority issues overshadowing fidelity to an IP if that person was never quite a fan of that universe in the first place.

We do know for sure that Matt Smith did shoot villain material for Episode IX but he was too unfamiliar. Do we know if anyone questioned or pushed back on showing intact segments of the Endor death star?

I think all the talk about using the Veil or the World Between Worlds to undo the story threads that led to the final trilogy must involve something like the final book of the Dark Tower that looks in on Stephen King himself writing. Ahsoka may need to drop in on George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy as they were giving that infamously reassuring sit-down and chop the table and call everybody on their bullshit.

They can roll the dice and just shoot George Lucas’ original outlines. I have always wanted to see the Whills even if that is crazy. They can set the “real” VII, VIII, and IX ten years earlier and just fully CGI a younger Fisher, Hamill and Ford as well as Billy Dee Williams. I don’t know. I do like the youtube channel Darth Angeles that has started animating Heir to the Empire. Maybe the unofficial stuff is what we need. We may not own these things, but sometimes the unofficial or subversive is best. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgRbUd9xil0

Many fans may feel disrespected but there is solidarity with a few people who see things in a compatible way. Regardless of whether the head of Lucasfilm is pleased to see The Mandalorian is a hit for the company, we have to question storytellers especially when they wield power and get quoted as saying, “I will have it my way or I will burn this silly nonsense to the ground.”

We might all agree that there is silly nonsense to be burned, just not what. My fear is that some of the folks who invaded the Capital resembled youtubers, and maybe some of them will crash The Presidio or Skywalker Ranch next.

There are plenty of disgruntled fans.

Let’s just say clearly and often: Don’t do it. Stay at home and talk it out. I remember when there were only three Star Wars movies and we watched them over and over. I’m re-watching my old DVDs and some of it has aged surprisingly well. Alien Nation the series, Amazing Stories from 1985, 86. And there is so much reading to catch up on. I don’t even have to take a stand against The High Republic by not reading or buying that stuff.

There is just so much else to choose from.
-Marnie R.

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Hollywood is too concerned about their characters being “moral.”

Hey hey, Rob! We live to fight another year!

A fantastic novel I just read and your recent discussion about Chris Evans return to the MCU got me thinking about morality in stories. I was never big on Evans portrayal of Captain America; the character is too goody goody for me and while Evans is a talented actor (see Puncture if you haven’t already), his Cap strikes me as a man born in the 90’s, not a man from the 40’s and a hard ass WWII veteran. I suspect this was marvel’s direction more than Evans’s choices.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate heroic stories; Superman The Movie is one of my favorites. I just don’t want everything to be that, and I’m sure you don’t either. This brings me to my essential point: Hollywood is far too concerned about characters being moral. A character needs be neither sympathetic, moral, or likeable, they only need to be interesting. I almost gave you examples, but I’d be more curious to hear you name a few.

Falling Angel, by William Hjortsberg, is the book on which the feature film, ANGEL HEART, is based.

I recently read Angel’s Inferno by William Hjortsberg, it’s the long awaited (or never expected) sequel to Falling Angel, the book the great Alan Parker film Angel Heart was based in.

Falling Angel let us get to know Harry Angel, doomed P.I. on the trail of Johnny Favorite, a man described as the closest to true evil you’d ever want to come. Angel’s Inferno is where Johnny takes the spotlight and it is glorious. Johnny loves the finer things, believes people who work 9 to 5 are losers and that rich people are just better. He digs jazz, women, black mass, and above all, power. He makes his feelings about Easter clear when he says, “I believe in sacrifice, not worshipping the victim.”

He kills multiple people who are in no way villains in the novel, including committing a particularly painful and gruesome murder where the victim is someone who loves him. He feels absolutely nothing about it. He’s the essence of cool and when he steps on stage for the first time in over decade to croon an old jazz number, it’s electrifying.

How’d I feel about Johnny? In case you haven’t guessed, I loved him.

I rooted for him as much as I did for Superman, maybe more. We aren’t manipulated to like him by seeing him go up against someone worse like in Hannibal, he just wants what he wants and will do anything to get it. He’s a bad ass singing devil worshipping ass kicker who gets all the ladies.

I never knew what he was going to do next and thought “he’s not gonna do this…” repeatedly, only to find out, yes, he’s absolutely going to do this. The book was a blast.

If we acknowledge the part of us that wants to be saintly like captain America and superman, isn’t it just as fun (if not more) to explore the side of us that is annoyed by and indifferent to others? Wouldn’t all of us like power and wealth to at least some degree? I highly recommend this book.

It’s Beaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy without the judgement and with some damn good writing. Hjortsberg’s prose is sharper than Johnny’s ceremonial dagger and the transition from 50’s gumshoe language to Sinatra style bad ass is pulled off expertly. I wish these stories were more common.

Reeve’s Superman is inspirational and awesome. Idealistic lawyers are less fun as I get older, but how can you not like To Kill A Mockingbird?

But Johnny Favorite stays out all night singing the blues, getting drunk, taking what he wants, and then gets laid. If you say Cap or Kent are better, I’ll just have to respond with the words of Mr. Favorite himself: “that makes about as much sense as a drum solo.”

Best regards and thanks for reading,
-Collin

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