Growing up I was aware of Luke Perry, at the time he was the stand out star of Beverly Hills 90210. I probably caught a few episodes here and there but everyone new that Luke Perry, was the epitome of cool. It wasn’t until I saw Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I became a fan. In a crap film, the so bad it’s pretty good kind, he was brilliant as Oliver Pike and you could tell he was having fun playing it.
Years later I came across the apocalyptic drama Jeremiah which ran for 2 seasons (and should have run for a few more) about a world where all the adults had mysteriously died and the children were left to grow up and forge a world on their own. It was dark, it was fun and it showed that Luke Perry should truly be recognized as a cult icon. I met him once at the Supanova Con in Brisbane many years ago. The was just so cool, so friendly and warm and giving. 52 years is far to short a time on this rock and while he was in Riverdale, I would have loved to see him find something that would have thrown him into something more. I think the right kind of Netflix series would have shown his range and talent.
I’m sitting parked on the grass alongside of Beechmont road near Witheren, inland from the Gold Coast, where only last month a truck driver had an unsettling encounter with something in the bush. It’s a peaceful night where the only sound I can hear is the breeze moving through the dense bush to my right and the tick tick of my cooling engine. I’ve finished my day job not long ago and curiosity got the better of me and I decided to head down here on a meandering trip home. It’s rather quiet and it’s dark, I mean really dark. We forget just how black the night can be until we find ourselves a little outside of the cities and back into the arms of nature. Even from inside a Kia Rio.
A truck driver was travelling down this route at approxamatially 10 am when on rounding a sharp bend he saw what he thought was a boulder fall from the high embankment onto the road. Slamming on his brakes hard to avoid hitting it he was shocked when what he thought was a huge boulder, stood up. The International S Line he was driving stood at 9’6 off the ground and the man claimed he had to lean forward and look up to see the creatures face which would put it at 10 ft in height if not taller. It was covered in a thick mat of hair with a dark red hue, except about the face and ears which were hairless. The face was ape like with hazel eyes and a pushed in nose, like a boxer who had taken one too many hits. The creatures expression at first was one of puzzlement, almost embarressment at being seen but the look quickly turned to one of anger. It gave the trucks fiberglass bonnet a quick defensive strike, cracking it cleanly and causing the 9 tonne truck to shudder, before moving off into the brush. The sighting took only moments but one would think one that would leave a lasting impact on the driver.
I got out of the car and shone my torch around for awhile but nothing moved in the darkness. I didn’t expect it to, but I wanted to get the feel of the place. In the moment it’s easy to let imagination take flight and contemplate what may be lurking just out of the torches reach. Once, many years ago I went on a Yowie expectdition out the back of Currumbin Valley where multiple sightings had occured plus calls and wood knocks had been recording. Many hours later we returned with nothing much to report but a few bug bites but out there however, far away from the bustle of humanity there was a sense of being watched. It was probably just my overactive imagination but I did feel like someone, or something was keeping a eye on us.
Bigfoot, Yeti, Satsquatch, Yowie. There are many names given in historical accounts over the years of a hairy, human/ape like creatures and the southeast of Queensland is rich with sightings and encounters, stretching as far back as the 1930’s.
Like its American cousin Bigfoot, or the Yeti of the Himalayas and New Zealands Hairy Moehau, the Yowie is a cryptid with a long history in Australia, dating back to the Dreamtime myths. When the First Fleet arrived in 1788 the local aboriginal tribe would warn the settlers not to go up to the mountains as there was a dangerous ape-like creature which lived in the caves up there. Stories abounded here and back in England of a tall creature, twice the size of a man who would watch the settlers and hunters as they pushed into the bush.
Most of the current sightings seem to occur in the Central regions of NSW (The Blue Mountains having many stories of a violent hue attached to them) and the Gold Coast. Springbrook and the Lamington National Forest are local hotspots.
The name Yowie is derived from Yuwi, which in the Yuwaalaraay peoples langauge means ‘Dream Spirit’. Across the nation and across all the Aboriginal tribes there are many names, Yahoo, Mummuga, Doolagal among many. A lot of the time he seems to be a cautionary tale for children, don’t venture too far or make too much noise or the hairy man will come and take you.
Like all it’s counterparts as well, no real substantial evidence has been found. No bones have been unearthed, no body has been discovered, no smoking gun photo or video has been captured. All we have is the first person statements from people, a lot of whom are above reproach and who have absolutely no discernible reason to lie or make up tales. Doctors, Police, Lawyers, even a Queensland National Party Senator. Bill O’Chee related to a Gold Coast paper how he and several friends saw a Yowie when they were out at a school camp in his youth.
There are a few foot casts, crackley recordings of voice calls, wood knocks and screams but these are unsubstantiated at best. Australia is a vast country and I have no doubt that there is the possibility that there could be a large undiscovered cryptid out there. Though, not the T-Rex like creature that is reportedly wandering the deserts inland. I want to believe that the Yowie, or Bigfoot or any of the other variations of the hairy man are real. So I will continue to go out and have a look around and see what I can find.
Art Bell died today. I missed Art on Coast to Coast am. I wish I had been in touch with things at the time so I could have listened (though more likely eventually downloaded) to the show. I was there for the Sirius Radio and Midnight In the Desert however, short lived as they were. I think it is truly impossible to judge the impact Art Bell had on paranormal talk radio, while he may not have completely invented it he certainly shaped it into the juggernaut it is today. Without Art there wouldn’t be any Coast to Coast, or Fade to Black or any of the other hundreds of shows and podcasts. Art was more than that though, at his very core he was a fantastic interviewer and reader of people. He was quick and knew when to push someone towards an answer and knew when to step back. So Art is gone and the airwaves will be strangely still for awhile. R.I.P Art.
On the night of October 1st 1978, at 6:19pm a 20 year-old Frederick Valentich took off in his Cessna 182lt, a light plane from Moorabbin in Melbourne on route to King Island. An island halfway from the mainland and Tasmania, and a round trip which should have taken him about three and a half hours to do. It was supposed to be just a training flight, Valentich having just clocked 150 hours of flight time and was eager to get started, it was after all going to be his first solo night flight. Now pilots don’t fly out straight out towards King Island, as that would mean that they would be out over water most of the time, so they they usually hug the coastline until they reach Cape Otway, which is the nearest point to King Island and cut across. Ask any pilot and they will tell you that flying close to land is a lot safer that across water so this line, though a little longer, is the main flight path that aircraft are want to take and it was the path that Valentich took.
The first part of his flight seems uneventful, at 7.00pm not long after the sun had set, he reported reaching Cape Otway and was turning away from the coastline and heading out towards King Island. At about 7.06pm he contacted Melbourne Air Traffic Control asking if there was any traffic in his area to which he was informed that there was no known aircraft in his vicinity. He told air traffic control that there was an aircraft above him and it appeared to be playing games with him. Here follows the actual transcript of the communication between Valentich and Melbourne Air Traffic Control.
Time (GMT) | From | To | Text
9:06:14 DSJ FS Melbourne, this is Delta Sierra Juliet. Is there any known traffic below five thousand?’
9:06:23 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—No known traffic.
9:06:26 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet. I am—seems (to) be a large aircraft below 5,000.
9:06:46 FS DSJ D Delta Sierra Juliet—What type of aircraft is it?
9:06:50 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet—I cannot affirm. It is four bright … it seems to me like landing lights.
9:07:04 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet. [This statement affirms to the pilot that the person on the ground heard
9:07:32 DSJ FS Melbourne, this (is) Delta Sierra Juliet. The aircraft has just passed over me at least a
thousand feet above.
9:07:43 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Roger—and it, it is a large aircraft—confirm?
9:07:47 DSJ FS Er, unknown due to the speed it’s travelling… is there any air force aircraft in the vicinity?~
9:07:57 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet. No known aircraft in the vicinity.
9:08:18 DSJ FS Melbourne … it’s approaching now from due east~ towards me.~
9:08:28 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet.
9:08:42 DSJ FS //Open microphone for two seconds//
9:08:49 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet. It seems to me that he’s playing some sort of game.’—He’s flying over me
two—three times at a time at speeds I could not identify.’
9:09:02 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Roger. What is your actual level?
9:09:06 DSJ FS My level is four and a half thousand, four five zero zero.~
9:09:11 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet… And confirm—you cannot identify the aircraft.
9:09:14 DSJ FS Affirmative.’
9:09:18 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Roger… standby.
9:09:28 DSJ FS Melbourne—Delta Sierra Juliet. It’s not an aircraft’… it is //open microphone for two
seconds// [This duration measured as three seconds. No information appears to have been removed
from the tape.]
9:09:46 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Melbourne. Can you describe the…er—aircraft?
9:09:52 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet… as its flying past it’s a long shape’ //open microphone for three seconds
// (cannot) identify more than that. It has such speed //open microphone for three seconds //. It is before
me right now Melbourne.’
9:10:07 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Roger. And how large would the —er—object be?
9:10:20 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet—Melbourne. It seems like it’s (stationary).
Transcript of Frederick Valentich’s Final Communications with Melbourne Air Traffic Control 2 of 2
[The author, Richard F Haines (USA) has determined that this word should be, ‘chasing me’, based on
special filtering]. What I’m doing right now is orbiting, and the thing is just orbiting on top of me also’ …
It’s got a green light,’ and sort of metallic (like)~. It’s all shiny (on) the outside.~
9:10:43 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet.
9:10:48 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet // open microphone for 5 seconds // [measured as 3 seconds] It’s just
9:10:57 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet.
9:11:03 DSJ FS Melbourne would you know what kind of aircraft I’ve got?’ It is (a type) military aircraft?’
9:11:08 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet. Confirm the… er—aircraft just vanished.
9:11:14 DSJ FS Say again.
9:11:17 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet. Is the aircraft still with you?’
9:11:23 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet… It’s ah… Nor //open microphone for two seconds// (now) approaching
from the southwest.
9:11:37 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet.
9:11:52 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet – The engine is, is rough idling. —I’ve got it set at twenty three—twenty
four… and the thing is—coughing.
9:12:04 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Roger. What are your intentions?
9:12:09 DSJ FS My intentions are—ah… to go to King Island—Ah, Melbourne, that strange aircraft is
hovering on top of me again //open microphone for two seconds// it is hovering and it’s not an aircraft.
9:12:22 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet.
9:12:28 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet—Melbourne //open microphone for 17 seconds// [A very strange pulsed
noise is also audible during this transmission.]
9:12:49 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet, Melbourne.
End of official DoT transcript
— normal pause in communications (based on the first author’s flying experience)
… longer than normal pause (several seconds)
‘ upward ending voice inflection (such as an interrogative question)
~ downward voice inflection
Parentheses ( ) enclose words that are open to interpretation because they are not clearly audible
Valentich shortly before he disappeared
Fredericks final communication was at 7:12pm and 28 seconds. An alert was declared and a distress emergency declared soon after. After a massive search the search and rescue effort was called off and no trace of Valentich or his plane was ever recovered and an opened verdict of missing presumed dead was announced. The story made national headlines, indeed many people came forward saying that they had seen erratic green lights around the area where Valentich disappeared. An interesting point is that are also the same reports which had been made years before the transcript or any reports that Valentich had seen four green lights of the craft above him. In fact there is a long history of strange sightings around the area.
Now I would be remiss if I failed to mention the many (and there are many) sticking points to this story. There is a lot to make you sit back and reevaluate what you think you know bout the disappearance of Frederick Valentich. Firstly, he had lied to pretty much everybody as to what he was actually doing on the night he disappeared. He told Moorabbin that he was picking up a group of passengers but there were no passengers waiting to be picked up, he told his family that he was getting some crayfish but there are no crayfish at King Island. He also told his girlfriend that he would be back at 7:30, she was in fact waiting at her place for him to pick her up for a date, but there was no way he could have made it on time. He also had a history of breaking the rules when it came to flying, having strayed into controlled airspace above Sydney airport and twice flying into clouds though he was not yet rated to do so. Also, and the main one which plays on my mind is his call into Air Traffic Control is very similar to the opening scenes of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (my favourite film), which was only released a year before. But I also have to ask that if a pilot was reporting seeing something above them wouldn’t that be the way it would sound? Frederick Valentich was also a man who while he may not have been the worlds most brilliant pilot, he studied hard (he would usually turn up to an airport hours before he was due to fly and study) and I believe he took risks because he was trying to make himself the best he could be. However, he had also applied twice to the RAAF but was rejected due to poor education qualifications, he had also been studying to become a commercial pilot but had failed twice all the five commercial license subjects. He was determined though, he kept studying and he also never stopped applying to take the tests. He was set on making his dream of becoming a pilot a reality. Some believe that it was spatial disorientation that caused his crash, that with to visible horizon and he simply became confused and crashed, that he staged his own disappearance (though he had a girlfriend who he loved and wanted to marry and was close to his parents this seems unlikely).
A couple of years after his disappearance an engine cowl belonging to a Cessna 182lt washed up on Flinders Island (another island in the chain) and it’s numbers belonged in the range of the type of plane that Valentich has been flying. Though said cowl has since gone missing or been misplaced. A man by the name of Roy Manifold was taking photo’s of the sunset the night when Valentich disappeared and he claimed to capture what he said was a UFO with a plane attached to it’s side leaking oil. Though, to me, it kinda looks like a bug.
It’s impossible to say what actually occurred that night almost 42 years ago. While there are so many things about him which are contradictory I think Frederick Valentich did see something in the skies with him and whether he was abducted or he simply panicked and crashed into the dark Bass Strait waters we may never know. In any case, Frederick Valentich remains one of our most baffling mysteries in our Australian Sky.
Seeking A Friend for the End of the World was a movie I avoided for a long time, I mean a long time. Do you have those movies which you come across and the little man in your head tells you that you’d probably really like but for some unknown reason you tell your little man to go to hell and you never watch it? It happens with hyped movies a lot for me, there are so many movies which people rave about but for some strange, more than likely emotionally unhealthy reason, I convince myself that I’ll hate it so I don’t watch it. At least for not a long while afterwards. I’ve got a lot of issues I know.
Sadly Seeking a Friend is one of those films which slipped straight through and onto the keeper. Until recently that is and all I can say now, having finally seen it is, what an absolute gem of a film. It is such a perfect little intimate tale of two lost, broken people who just happen to come together only weeks before an asteroid is due to hit the earth and destroy all life. The story is fairly simple (and yes there is spoilers ahead for anyone who has not yet seen it. But come on man it’s been out for years now so you can’t really gripe if I spoil it for you), the story opens with Dodge, played by the always wonderful Steve Carell, sitting in his car with his wife as they listen on the radio as news comes in that the final solution to the incoming asteroid has failed and in three weeks time all life will cease to be. Looking over at him she realizes that Dodge isn’t the man she wants to spend her last days with and in a panic promptly legs it out of the car and into the night, never to be seen again. Over the next week or so Dodge drifts along in a daze, still going into work as an insurance salesmen (seems even in the end of time people still want to know how much money they can get), attending a painful dinner party at his best friends house which results in an uncomfortable set up and everyone deciding this would be the best time to do heroin.
That is until he meets Penny, Keira Knightley, an English girl who has been living downstairs in his apartment block for the past few years but never has spoken to, though due to extreme laziness or apathy she has been collecting his mail which had from time to time been left in her letterbox mistake. After escaping the city one night when rioting erupts in the streets the two embark on a cross country trip desperate to find some sort of comfort at the end of the world. For Dodge it’s tracking down his childhood sweetheart and for Penny it’s finding a way home to be with her family, you know the story and can probably guess the outcome. For me the magic is in the players, Carell and Knightly work so well together and weave in and out of the side characters (also played by some very well known faces) and look mismatched but so believable as they come together at the end, which is truly the end which was another moment I enjoyed. It would have been so easy to have a happy ending (and it is in a way) but the way the film ends lends a gravity and beauty to these two people who decide that at the end of the world it’s just in each others eyes that they wish to be.
It’s a lonely film, a quietly beautiful film complemented by some great performances. I can’t wait to see it again.
When I was a boy in the early 80’s information, especially information on “fringe” topics was much harder to come by. I grew up in the era where there was no internet and the only computer that most of my friends had was the Commodore 64. Books on UFO’s were contained to one maybe two books in the local library shelf or perhaps late night tv special if I was lucky. To discover anything about the subject one had to be patient and grab anything that came along the line. Learning about UFO’s was kinda of a waiting game.
Luckily, I also grew up in the ear of In Search Of. As a child every Saturday afternoon at 5:30 you would find me sitting cross legged on our living room floor glued to the tv as Leonard Nimoy guided me through the world of the strange, the paranormal and UFO’s. I loved every second of it. I don’t know if this is where my passion for UFO’s was first sparked but it is certainly my first recollection of being exposed to the phenomena. As time went by I was able to get more and more information, I joined a local UFO group in my home state and received a booklet every month in the mail filled with sightings, articles and opinion pieces which brought me into a whole new area with stories of encounters in my own country. See as a young boy all I could find to read about were the American stories, Roswell, Barney and Betty Hill, Aztec New Mexico. I had little to no idea that my own country of Australia also had a rich history of sightings and contact and wouldn’t learn about them until much later. As time trickled by, and as I slowly grew, the way information was made available also grew. Above Top Secret by Timothy Good was released as was Communion by Whitely Strieber. UFO stories sprung up in newspapers and fluff pieces at the end of news casts. Even though I was only young I still recall the stir that the disappearance of Frederick Valentich made in our news services in 1978. So like a slow engine the UFO machine began to kick into life and suddenly there was half a shelf at the local library and even a couple in the bookstore at the local shops.
Then the Internet was born.
Websites were built, photos were shared, and a cacophony of voices erupted in cyberspace and everyone, everyone had their own take on the situation. What was a small trickle of the availability of knowledge became a flood which in turn, became an ocean. So where does someone who happens to discover all this begin their own journey? With so many personalities and so many differing opinions how do you find an opening and dive in? How do you differentiate between the people who truly believe and who truly want to share all they’ve learned from the charlatans and the hoaxes who, sadly, litter the field. There are a lot of them. One of the greatest things to happen to the UFO field in as a means to impart information my opinion is podcasts. They really allow you to listen to some of the best of the field has to offer, pretty much you’ll find a cast about any of the major stories and news and from there is your starting point. The trick is, as with any subject to separating the truth from the bullshit. And there’s a lot of bullshit. A lot of bullshit. There are many actors on the stage peddling their wares like a carny sideshow, from the absurd to the just plain stupid, all get their time in the sun and all get to peddle their wares. In a perfect world all these players would be pushing something they are passionate about, a theory or idea they truly believe in but in the realm of the UFO some are just out for money, or in some cases just to have their names in a spotlight. For every charlatan however there are ten people striving and doing their best find something tangible, a shard of truth in the quagmire of confusion.
Over the next few months I will be delving into a few cases which I find most interesting, starting with one of Australia’s most infamous cases, that of Frederick Valentich a young pilot whose encounter with something in the skies over Bass Strait forty years ago this year, ended with tragic results.
The return of the X Files has been a hit and miss affair to say the least but the latest episode of the limited series run finds the show again firing on all cylinders. Written by Darin Morgan and harking back to some of his finest work (Humbug, Jose Chungs from Outer Space and the sublime Clyde Bruckmans Final Repose) ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’ stands up with some of the finest comedy episodes the series has done. In fact, it was such a good episode that there was even a rare spark of life behind David Duchovny.
I won’t go too in depth of at this point (I’ll delve more into the season as a whole after it completes its run) but this episode proves that when The X Files stands its strongest it is in the single story format. ‘Forehead Sweat” finds Mulder approached by Reggie Something, a grey suited man dripping with forehead sweat who tries to convince Mulder that someone is using the Mandela Effect (Or the Mengele Effect) to erase peoples memory and change the past. Indeed Reggie even goes in depth into previous X File cases in an effort to remind Mulder that in fact he, Reggie, was an original member of the X Files and he was there from the outset, even before Scully arrived. The banter back and forth between the three is fantastic, and the writing is at it’s sharpest in a long time. There is a lot to take in this episode and I won’t ruin the brilliant comedy here (plus one very bad pun) but it is one of those episodes that will need a re-watch to take everything in. It is a nostalgic piece and reminds me why I used to love this show so much back in the day.
I have never shied away from my dislike of the mythology of the show, each brick that’s placed into that wall just shows time and time again that there is no solid plan in place for the story arc. They are usually poorly written, convoluted and way too far up there own backside. The monster of the week has always been the series’s bread and butter but that doesn’t mean that there is no room for character development. In fact the underlining theme for the latest episode (in fact the last two) has been how Mulder and Scully are people out of time, that the world has moved on and the dark landscape of the conspiratorial that they moved through just doesn’t exist anymore. Just who are they now that they have gotten older, having given everything to the pursuit of the truth and now all they have left is each other, perhaps not even that. This will probably be the last run of the X Files and I do hope they focus on the two as they struggle to find a place in the new world around them. Sadly though I think it’ll end on more of the same but there’s is always room in the realm of extreme possibilities to be pleasantly surprised.