Weird Tales: Michael Boatman on UFO’s

Ann VanderMeer • January 7th, 2008 @ 7:54 am • Culture

Writer: Michael Boatman
Weird Tales Story: A Father’s Work (Issue # 347, Nov/Dec 2007)
Writer Bio: Michael Boatman co-starred on the ABC comedy Spin City, as well as the HBO original series ARLI$$. His short story collection, God Laughs When You Die: Mean Little Stories From The Wrong Side of The Tracks, is available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com. He is an angry man who spends a lot of time thinking angry thoughts about perfectly nice people.

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PARADIGM SHIFT 1-A: UFOS ARE REAL, DAMMIT!

Recently, on a daytrip out to the Mojave desert, two hours east of Los Angeles, I happened to pull up to an empty rest stop to stretch my legs. I got out of my car, stretched, looked up and froze. High above my head I saw it; a luminous, circular object, reddish in color, hovering motionless way up in the clear blue California sky. I stared at the object for a while. It was a perfectly cloudless afternoon and although I had no idea what I was seeing I could see the thing hanging up there as clearly as I could see the public Men’s room outside which I was loitering. Moments later, the object vanished from view. I don’t know if it teleported or passed behind a cloud or made the jump into hyperspace; all I can say is that the shining red object was there one moment and gone the next. Despite my best efforts I couldn’t find it again.

All right, I know what many of you are saying now: Swamp gas, weather balloon; Boatman’s obviously been speed-scarfing peyote plugs out there in the desert. However, when it comes to claims of the fantastic I consider myself a skeptic. That covers all manner of anomalous phenomena up to and including ghosts, ‘Nessie,’ hyper-exhibitionist religious iconography and flying Mexican humanoids. There’s only one chink in my skeptical armor: I’ve experienced multiple UFO sightings. I’ve actually spoken with dozens of regular people who have seen mysterious aerial phenomena. I’ve personally encountered at least one entity that I’m convinced hails from another dimension.

But this blog isn’t about me.

Hasn’t anyone else noticed the upswing in large-scale mass sightings of UFOs in the media lately? From the Mexico City flap which began during a lunar eclipse in the mid -nineties and continues to this day, to the “Phoenix Lights” mass-sighting over Arizona and Nevada ten years ago. (Many people who witnessed the “lights” now dismiss them as a military distraction from the real sighting, that of an enormous lighted triangular vehicle which moved silently across two states, witnessed by thousands earlier that same evening.) This sighting was shared by police officers, pilots and even then Governor Fife Simington, who has since joined calls for a serious investigation. How about the disc-shaped craft that hovered over Chicago’s O’Hare Airport earlier this year, or the recent London sightings, in which five luminous objects were filmed performing aerial maneuvers visible to dozens of witnesses below, or the numerous weird videos anyone can download on You Tube, videos that, despite some obvious hoaxes, declare that something weird is happening in our skies.

France recently opened their own UFO files to the world public, revealing cases that are astounding, not only in their details, but in their sheer number. The former Soviet Union, Great Britain, Canada, several African nations and even China have displayed a more open attitude to their numerous and ongoing sightings, leading many Earthlings to gaze at the heavens and not-so-quietly wonder: What’s happening up there?

I think its time we all looked at the UFO question in greater depth. We’ve been to the moon and we’re going to Mars, both of which we believe to be empty of life. Why wouldn’t a technologically advanced civilization want to visit us? Hell, I take my kids to the Bronx Zoo at least twice every year knowing that we’ll see the same old depressed animals we’ve seen two-dozen times before. But we go anyway, and we always see something that makes the trip worthwhile. To those who question the possibility of Life out there among the stars my answer remains…”D’uh: It happened here on Earth, why not on millions of other planets?” As Doctor Frank Drake, the father of the Drake Equation (which suggests ten-thousand communicative civilizations in our Milky Way galaxy alone) surmises, the probability of a galaxy filled with intelligent life grows more likely the more information we gather.

This kind of data always threatens people, particularly the very religious, but why? What actually makes us think we’re so special? Simple ignorance? Arrogance? A belief in a human-friendly, anthropomorphic God/Genie who listens to our wishes and chooses which ones to answer based on adherence to a moral code created by ancient goat- herders? Do these people think that if ET shows up as a chlorophyll-based multi-gendered atheistic telepathic collective, say, or a cloud of sentient ammonia particles, that their own belief systems will crumble and fall by the wayside? Historically speaking, primitive cultures always collapse when confronted by a technically superior culture. Is this what the theocrats fear? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”

And I believe the death of such cultural bigotry can’t happen quickly enough.

After two-thousand years of racist-sexist-warmongering homophobia dressed up as “the Word” of a God who apparently loves rich, white Republicans while continually raining misery down on everybody else, I say… “Whew! That mostly sucked. How about a new paradigm?” Isn’t a universe teeming with potentially curious neighbors even more magnificent than one in which intelligence exists on only one tiny planet in the middle of Cosmic Nowhere? Look at all the waste; the needless, preventable suffering. If a supremely powerful, anthropomorphic God exists, my first question to Him/Her would have to be: Yo, Supergenie, what’s your major malfunction?

So let me be the first to welcome our space brothers and sisters: If you’re out there (and you’re friendly), we’re ready. Come on down, kick off your shoes/boots/tentacle clusters, and set a spell.

We’ll leave a light on.

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