Category Archives: ufology

Let Coast Be Coast

We’ve talked about my radio habits and obsession here before. Up until I got satellite radio, I still enjoyed exploring the AM dial in the middle of the night. Some time in the late nineties I discovered Art Bell and Coast to Coast AM.

This was more than a year before Art finally came to Philadelphia, syndicated on 1210 AM. I remember an intriguing and heated discussion about UFOs and alien abductions. I also remember that night getting out of my warm bed to log on the computer at around three in the morning to see the artist’s rendering of the aliens, you know, a visual to go with the audio. Yeah, I was hooked, and have been for close to fifteen years.

Mostly I was delighted to find talk radio that was not about politics. I could hear that nonsense anywhere and any time. I like different in my talk radio. It’s probably why I have been attracted to things like Howard Stern, Opie and Anthony, Dr. Ruth, Dr. Drew, radio dramas, audiobooks, and Joe Frank. Coast to Coast AM was definitely different.

I was overjoyed when the program found its Philly home and was a faithful listener almost every night. My insomnia proved helpful in that endeavor. Night after night I listened to a myriad of guests and topics, always in the realm of the paranormal. That was Coast’s forte. If you wanted intelligent (and sometimes not so) discussion about ufology, cryptozoology, mythology, pseudoscience, conspiracy theories or anything involving the odd or surreal, Coast to Coast AM was for you.

There’s a lot that can said about the host Art Bell. Surrounded by rumor and conspiracy himself, he was and is a consummate radio professional. No matter the insanity or unlikeliness of the guest or caller, he was always fair, entertaining, and at the top of his game. There are few talk radio hosts as sharp and composed as Art Bell.

Due to personal issues, Art has had to retire from radio and the show several times – the final time was in the late 2000s. He has been replaced the last time by George Noory. George is quite talented himself, but every time I hear an old Art show, it becomes quite obvious how inferior the replacement is to the original host. He never challenges guests or listeners, is often uninformed, and frequently seems inattentive or not even listening to guests and callers.

Noory also seems to have a problem with open lines. He doesn’t do it that often. Anyone who knows talk radio knows that it’s not about the host, it’s about the callers. Art knew this, and his regular technique was to not screen callers as is usually done – he just put them on the air. Often open lines was the best part of the old Coast to Coast AM. Since George has come in board, there also seems a shift in topic, more toward politics, and current events. I’m not happy with that at all.

The two biggest nights of the year on Coast to Coast AM are New Year’s Eve and Halloween. On New Year’s Eve they take psychic predictions for the upcoming year, and on Halloween, the show becomes ‘Ghost to Ghost’ as callers tell ghost stories. I love Ghost to Ghost. However, it too has gone downhill in recent years. Noury screens the calls, taking away the spontaneity, as well as the need to think on his feet, I suppose.

This year, last night, Noory even cut short the program by taking up the first hour with news, and an interview with a security expert. Seriously? Real Coast to Coast topics are rare enough recently, and now you’re truncating the best show of the year??

It’s no wonder that other radio programs similar to the original Coast to Coast AM, like Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis and A View from Space, are growing in popularity and Coast is falling. Politics and current events can be heard anywhere on the dial, the topics that made Coast great can not. I want my show back.

Please! Let Coast be Coast!

Men in Black 3

Men in Black 3 ~ This movie beats the odds several ways. First it’s fun and entertaining, which for a sequel, let alone a second sequel, let alone a second sequel almost fifteen years after the original, and a decade after the lackluster first sequel. To be a good movie, and do well, against those odds is definitely an achievement.

The Men in Black concept is based on the brief and rarely seen Malibu Comics feature by Lowell Cunningham, which is in turn based on the ufology myth of the men in black from the government who cover up alien encounters. Through three movies now, Tommy Lee Jones as senior agent K and Will Smith as junior agent J have protected Earth from the scum of the universe as part of a top secret organization who do what you would expect them to do – kicking alien ass and erasing everyone’s memories of said ass-kicking.

The films have been successful mainly because of Jones and Smith’s almost perfect extreme buddy cop chemistry, as well as the sharp humor of the writing, and of course the cutting edge special effects. Even with all that, the first sequel was a weak entry almost ensuring MIB3 would not happen, but here we are.

The plot of Men in Black 3 bucks the odds even further, as it’s about time travel. The common thinking in Hollywood, even in scifi movies, is that time travel makes people’s heads hurt. Only when it is done well, like in the Back to the Future or Terminator series, does it come off successfully with mainstream audiences. MIB3 does it as well.

An alien villain, Boris the Animal (played by Jemaine Clement from HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords” although you’d never guess it), escapes prison and goes back in time to 1969 to kill K before he can put him in jail. K vanishes from the present, so J must go to 1969 to save him and put time right. And here’s where we hit the third odds-breaker. The younger K, played by Josh Brolin, is Will Smith’s partner for most of the movie. His impression of Tommy Lee Jones as K is dead on, and half the entertainment of the flick. The chemistry is intact despite a new actor in an old role.

This movie is so much fun, captures the spirit of the original, and covers new territory while being funny, exciting, and fresh. The only thing that could have made this better would have been a Will Smith theme song. Recommended. I wouldn’t have thought I would say this, but bring on Men in Black 4.