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Night Terrors 1979

6 Sep

September 6, 2016

I’m into things like ghosts and UFO’s (which is why I’m so hard on George Noory) and I just finished reading The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects from 1956 by Edward J. Ruppelt. He’s one of the original Project Blue Book leaders.

Project Blue Book was one of the Air Force’s attempts to investigate the UFO phenomena. It’s an interesting read, though you won’t learn much other than the Air Force in the 1950’s was as full of red tape as it is now.

But it reminded me that there was a TV show based on this called Project U.F.O. and it scared the heck out of me when I was a kid.

project ufo

From the internet:

Project U.F.O. is an American anthology television series which ran on NBC from 1978 to 1979. Running for two seasons of 13 episodes each, the show was based loosely on the real-life Project Blue Book. The show was created by Jack Webb, who pored through Air Force files looking for episode ideas.

The show features two U.S. Air Force investigators charged with investigating UFO sightings.

In an odd reversal of the Scooby-Doo dynamic, the series eventually settled into a pattern in which the investigators would spend most of the hour uncovering some conventional explanation for a UFO sighting, only for the last five minutes to reveal that UFOs (or some similarly unexplained phenomena) were involved after all.

I went to Youtube and found the specific episode that terrified young me. I saw the thumbnail and like a flash, I suddenly knew that it was the one episode that gripped me back then. It was so clear. This show has not aired in the United States since its original airing so this was the first time I saw it since 1979. I have not thought about this show in literally over 30 years, at least. Not since the last century!

Well, I can’t say it opened up a floodgate of memories, but it did bring back a couple. What scared me so much were scenes of a giant alien ship replaying images of people and events as it hovered over a man in the desert. These were scenes the aliens inside had no earthly way of seeing. (It’s around the 19 minute mark in the video at the end of this post.)

project ufo ship

For years that part stuck in my head, gave me nightmares and kept me up at night. I’d nervously look up into the sky when I was outdoors, and I live in crowded NYC. The other part that spooked me was at the end of the episode, when the house shakes as the giant ship passes overhead.

Nowadays I’m not sure anyone but me would be creeped out by it, and had this not been the stuff of childhood nightmares I, seeing this for the first time now, would be bored. But little 1979 me was spooked badly. For a long time that UFO replay was the cause of that tingle at the back of my neck.

Much like my last post about the audio tapes, I was again brought back to a moment in my childhood when all it took to scare me were cheesy special effects and my imagination.

 

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Recorded History

30 Aug

August 30, 2016

I grew up in the days before VCR’s were common. And that really dates me since a lot of my younger readers who have TiVo or any kind of digital recorders may never have had a VCR. But at one point it just wasn’t common to have any kind of home television recording device. They existed in the 70’s but they weren’t cheap or in every home.

As a kid, I had a black + white TV in my bedroom, and that dates me too. Even then B+W TV’s were on the way out and color sets were soon all you’d find. It was an old set.

This was around 1979 or so. I was young and I was just becoming a Star Trek fan. (How did that happen? Read here.) Problem was, the show aired on WPIX channel 11 late at night. I’m not sure, but it aired at 11:00 or even later, and for a kid like me, that was past my bedtime. Even though there was a  TV right near my bed, I knew Mom or Dad would see the light under my door or hear the sound so watching the show wasn’t an option. But I came up with a work around.

Dad had a portable cassette recorder and I put it next to the TV speaker, turned down the sound, and adjusted the picture so the screen was all black. That way I recorded the Trek audio and eventually I had three or four shows in my meager collection, audio only. I’d listen to them late at night.

See how old it is? It has a leather case and a carry strap!

See how old it is? It has a leather case and a carry strap!

Flash forward to today. DVD, Netflix, Hulu, and more. If you want to see (let alone hear) an episode of Star Trek it is at your fingertips. And the other night I put on Netflix and found a particular episode of Star Trek, one I haven’t seen in a few years, at least.

Kirk, Spock and Co. beam down to a planet where Spock gets infected by alien spores and his emotions are released. He falls in love and refuses to leave the planet. It’s not a bad episode but certainly not one of the best. Middle of the road, I’d say. It’s memorable for Spock falling in love but also for McCoy speaking in a slow Southern drawl.

1x25_This_Side_of_Paradise_title_card

But it is very special to me since it was one of the shows I taped on that old recorder of Dad’s. Both the recorder and the tape are long, long gone. So just for the heck of it, to relive some of my youth, late at night I after I got into bed the other night I took out my tablet and played This Side of Paradise. Without the picture. Just the audio. The same way I listened to this episode back in the late 70’s.

It isn’t a great line, and not a memorable piece of dialogue, but I would be lying if I didn’t get a thrill hearing the head of the planet’s lost colony introduce himself to Jim Kirk.

this side of paradise new caption

I have a clear and distinct memory of lying in my childhood bed in my family’s old apartment listening to that scene. And for the next 50 minutes or so, while I may have been lying in my 2016 bed, I was also lying in my 1979 bed, in my 1979 home, and I felt every bit the kid I was then.

I suppose there’s a point here about technology, or childhood, or whatever you may have read into this. For me, the only point is that it’s a damn shame I had to grow up.

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