I've always thought that having an alien encounter would be a curse. From that point on, your sanity would always be in question. Unless of course, you hang with a crowd that believes little green men have been snooping around our houses and backyards for centuries.
That was the kind of group that showed up Saturday afternoon to the official Colorado UFO Briefing at St. Cajetan's on the Auraria Campus in Denver. About a hundred people gathered for this nearly eight-hour-long series of lectures and PowerPoint presentations. Sounds boring, and it was. But I've always had an interest in unexplained phenomena, and sitting in a church filled with ghost hunters, UFO spotters and crypto scientists (I had to Google it, too), I was eager to be enlightened.
This pack of Mile High believers was a good mix of young, old, Boulder-professor types, and even a few hot chicks. Not what I expected. I didn't even see one glow-in-the-dark "Alien is Beautiful" T-shirt. Perhaps they follow standard concert-shirt etiquette -- meaning that it's a supernatural faux pas to rock your X-Files gear at meetings.
The event's lecturers included local ufologist and mini-celebrity Jeff Peckman, as well as world-renowned UFO "experiencer" Stan Romanek. This guy, who gained national media attention with his Peeping Tom, alien-in-the-window video (spoofed exhaustively on YouTube) claims he's being followed from state to state by the same outer space beings. Sometimes they even leave messages on his voicemail in a computerized female voice with a British accent. He played them for us. He also showed us pictures of mysteriously patterned open wounds on his body supposedly inflicted by Martian doctors during abductions, as well as close-ups of unidentified protein stains on his pajamas. I wish I was making this up.
Stan's obviously an intelligent guy, but about an hour and two thousand slides into his story, you cant help but wonder why extraterrestrial beings have chosen to reveal themselves (over a hundred times since the year 2000) only to him and his answering machine, disguised as Dame Judi Dench.
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The kicker came when he showed a rare video, which he would not allow to be photographed or recorded, of what he claimed was an interplanetary visitor snooping around his house late at night. I expected it to be crappy footage of an orb or shadowy figure moving about in a dark basement. Turns out, it was an actual alien -- clear as Pepsi -- hanging out in his kitchen. You know the type if you've been to the movies: big balloon head, huge eyes and tiny mouth balancing atop that frail little body.
Listen, if you're going to make a fake video, at least keep it subtle and obscure, so that uninitiated skeptics would even consider entertaining paranormal possibilities. You can't expect people to recognize a shaky home movie of a child in a Halloween costume as proof of your intergalactic stalkers. Even with it's panicked, whispering narration, its not fooling anyone.
The real disappointment of the day, though, wasn't the amateur-hour film school projects. No, it was that no one mentioned the blue "Mustang" at DIA. How can you have a true UFO briefing in Colorado without addressing the holy harbinger of doom who stands guard at the secret entrance to the subterranean alien bunkers beneath our celestial spaceport?
That's just nonsense.