The Quick 12: 12 Alien Encounters

Today (and tomorrow, since it happened in the middle of the night) is the anniversary of the Battle of Los Angeles "“ not the Rage Against the Machine album, but the event that may have involved some UFOs and extraterrestrials. Here's a brief synopsis: Just a couple of months after Pearl Harbor, unidentified objects were reported floating over L.A. By 2:25 a.m. on the 25th, air raid sirens were going off and a total blackout of the area was ordered. At 3:16 a.m., U.S. forces started firing at these objects and continued for about an hour. At 7:21 a.m., the blackout was lifted and everything was declared fine. Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox told the press that what had happened was no big deal; that everyone just had "war nerves" and had overreacted. But overreacted to what? To this day, we still don't know. Non-extraterrestrial explanations have included weather balloons, sky lanterns and Japanese fire balloons.


Anyway, to commemorate this historic (if bizarre) occasion, today's Q10 is about people "“ some you'll know and some you won't - who have claimed to experience aliens or UFOs face-to-face.

carter1. Jimmy Carter. Yep, President Jimmy Carter. In October of 1969 around 7:15 p.m., Jimmy spotted something in the sky in Leary, Georgia. He was with 12-20 other men from the Leary Lions Club, he said, when they were all startled by a bright object in the sky. "It was a very peculiar aberration," he said. "It was the darndest thing I've ever seen. It was big; it was very bright; it changed colors; and it was about the size of the moon. We watched it for 10 minute, but none of us could figure out what it was." He filled out a formal report and has taken a lot of flak for it ever since, but he's not the only president to see something of the sort"¦

2. Ronald Reagan. When he was governor of California, Reagan, his pilot and two members of his security detail were flying near Bakersfield when a big light appeared behind the plane. "All of a sudden, to our utter amazement it went straight up into the heavens," Reagan told the Wall Street Journal. "When I got off the plane I told Nancy about it and we read up on the long history of UFOs." The reporter then asked if Reagan believed in UFOs and Ronnie backpedaled, not wanting to seem loopy. "Let's just say that on the subject of UFOs, I'm an agnostic," he replied.

3. George King was drying dishes in his London flat in 1954 when a voice said to him, "Prepare yourself! You are to become the Voice of Interplanetary Parliament." So he did. He gave away all of his possessions and began tape-recording "transmissions" from an advanced spiritual being named Aetherius living on Venus. In 1958 on top of Holdstone Down in North Devon, England, he said he made contact with a being who was Jesus when he was on Earth. Because of this, Holdstone Down is now a place of pilgrimage for members of The Aetherius Society. This just sounds like a good old-fashioned case of Crazy to me, but who knows?

4. Lonnie Zamora is a retired police officer from New Mexico who came across a couple of aliens in 1964. His story is notable because he was regarded as a competent, honest man who was overly strict with law enforcement "“ not the type to make up a wild story.

Zamora heard an explosion and went to investigate, thinking a local dynamite shack had exploded. What he found was a pair of small people in white coveralls, checking out a shiny object on the ground. One of them noticed him and appeared to be surprised. Zamora got out of the car to see what was going on and if he could help when he heard a very loud roar and saw a flame under the object on the ground. The object then rose into the air and left.

5. Betty and Barney Hill were abducted in 1961 and taken aboard an alien spacecraft. Aliens examined each of them separately; after they examined Barney they came to Betty and tried to remove her teeth. She had to explain to them that Barney had dentures and she didn't; the aliens didn't understand aging and the need for fake teeth.

6. James Cooke was telepathically invited to board a color-changing spaceship in 1957. The aliens told Cooke to tell the world that humans would 'upset the balance if they persist in using force instead of harmony'. When Cooke replied 'They won't listen to me,' the apparently comedic aliens said, 'Or anybody else, either.'

ziggy7. David Bowie, which should come as no surprise to anyone. And we're not talking one sighting "“ we're talking many, many sightings that he and his friends spotted when they were growing up in Bromley, England. "They came over so regularly we could time them," he once said. "Sometimes they stood still, other times they moved so fast it was hard to keep a steady eye on them."

8. Herbert Schirmer was a police sergeant in Nebraska when he was abducted by aliens in 1967. He said he saw a blurry white object with blinking red lights that communicated with him mentally to prevent him from drawing his gun. The E.T.s were based in Venus, were friendly and received their energy from our power lines.
9. Travis Walton was doing contract work for the U.S. Forest Service when he encountered an alien in 1975. His crew testified that they saw a bright light from a floating, silver disc strike him. Panicked, the crew drove off thinking the disc was chasing the truck. When they went back for Walton a short time later, he and the disc had both disappeared. After police searched for him for five days, Walton showed back up on his own five days later with tales of alien abduction.

10. Two French school children spotted "four small beings" when they were out herding their family's cows in 1967. When the younger child asked the beings if they wanted to play (she thought they were also children), the beings plunged headfirst into a nearby "sphere" and the sphere flew off. They reported the incident and police discovered a sulphuric odor and yellowed grass where the sphere reportedly was.

lennon11. Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker were fishing in Mississippi in 1973 when a football-shaped aircraft appeared and three creatures abducted them. The beings had no eyes or mouths but three "carrot-like" growths instead, where a nose and ears would normally be. After being examined, the men were returned where they reported the incident to police.

12. John Lennon said he was once standing at the window in his apartment at the Dakota when he saw something oval-shaped flying slowly through the air; he claimed it eventually disappeared behind the United Nations Building and hypothesized that it was doing research. He called the police to report what he had seen and they told him that he wasn't the first to call in about it. Since he was interviewing John Lennon, after all, the interviewer asked him if drugs or alcohol had been involved prior to the incident. "No, God's honest truth," Lennon said. "I only do that at weekends or when I see Harry Nilsson."

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.



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