Sunday, September 30, 2012

No More Volunteers

We said goodbye to our last volunteer group for the foreseeable future.  I hope it won't last too long.  I'll be a lot busier cleaning seeps and looking for sick or dead Laysan ducks and all sorts of other projects that I got major help with from the volunteers.  More outside time will be ok with me though.

Jan found some good examples of dead albatross chicks filled with plastic, so look for an exhibit in the Smithsonian in another year or two!  Pretty much all of the dead chicks have some plastic, but he was looking for ones where you could see the plastic without digging through the bird.  That way the Smithsonian can display a bird just like it was found on the island.

 Here's Jan and one of the dead albatross chicks that we collected.

 A lot of migratory ducks have been flying in this past week.  Here is a pair of Northern shovelers in one of the seeps.

 Every year we get a some Widgeons (American & Eurasian), in the foreground, and we get a lot of Northern Pintails, like the one in the background.

 The orphaned white terns that we've been feeding are flying around, but still cannot get their own food yet.  Most of them should be gone in another week or two.

Thanks volunteers Sarah and Ryan, and of course thanks to all volunteers who've been out here over the years.  Midway is a much better place for having you.

Friday, September 28, 2012

'Prometheus': questions will be answered

Silver Screen Saucers

Better late than never...

The many questions that were spat at Prometheus by frustrated cinemagoers following the movie's release this summer will soon be answered... this according to the official trailer for the Prometheus Blu-ray (due out Oct. 9)...

A new beginning, a new ending, and extra scenes in-between... could this mean we're finally getting the movie we were originally hoping for?

Here's the rest of what to expect:

PROMETHEUS 4-Disc Collector's Edition Blu-ray Special Features
Disc 1
● Theatrical Cut
● Commentary by Director/Producer Ridley Scott
● Commentary by Writer Jon Spaihts and Writer/Executive Producer Damon Lindelof
● The Peter Weyland Files
● Deleted and Alternate Scenes that include an Alternate Opening / Ending
● Prometheus - Weyland Corp Archive Second Screen App
Disc 2
● The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus
● Enhancement Pods
● Weyland Corp Archive
● Pre-Vis
● Screen Tests
Disc 3
● 3D Theatrical Cut of Movie
Disc 4
● DVD / Digital Copy

PROMETHEUS 2-Disc Blu-ray Special Features
Disc 1
● Theatrical Cut
● Commentary by Director/Producer Ridley Scott
● Commentary by Writer Jon Spaihts and Writer/Executive Producer Damon Lindelof
● The Peter Weyland Files
● Deleted and Alternate Scenes that include an Alternate Opening / Ending
● Prometheus - Weyland Corp Archive Second Screen App
Disc 2
● DVD / Digital Copy

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thanos: up close and personal with new concept art

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers
Here's a closer look at the alien with the knobbly chin whose unexpected appearance in this summer's The Avengers set our own (not so knobbly) chins a-waggin'. Who was this intergalactic tyrant, many of us wondered... But Marvel geeks already knew him to be Thanos - Bringer of Death.
According to the Marvel Universe Wiki, Thanos was born on the Saturnian moon, Titan...

“Thanos was born as one of the last sons of the original colonists, Mentor and Sui-San. However, he was born misshapen and monstrous in comparison to the other Eternals, particularly his handsome and carefree brother, Starfox, and Thanos grew into a melancholy, brooding individual, consumed with the concept of death. More than any of his people, Thanos sought out personal power and increased strength, endowing himself with cybernetic implants until he became more powerful than any of his brethren. At some point, he was exiled from his community, although the accounts differ as to its cause. Some say it was because he committed a crime by being the first to create a weapon. Thanos himself once claimed that he vivisected his own mother in an attempt to investigate how someone consumed with death such as himself could have come into being.”

This concept art comes via io9, which notes that the images can be found hidden inside the Avengers Initiative: Marvel Second Screen Experience.

It is thought Thanos will feature heavily in Marvel's next big alien-themed super hero movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, which is scheduled for an August, 2014 release.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

UFO movie news round-up (27 Sept. 2012)

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers

Vatican criticizes ‘Prometheus’

The Vatican's official newspaper L'OsservatoreRomano has criticized Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, taking issue with its premise about the origins of mankind and saying that the Ancient Astronaut-themed blockbuster “mishandles the delicate questions raised by ... the battle eternal between good and evil in yet another attempt to steal the secret of immortality... The journey of Prometheus should instead symbolize the search for the supernatural." 

Thor 2 to explore all nine realms?

According to a report from the Russian Cinema Expo, Thor: The Dark World “promises to cover not just the Earth and Asgard, but the entire Nine Realms. The studio [Marvel] hopes that Game of Thronesdirector Alan Taylor has the experience to build upon the fantasy of the series.”
Disney’s alien sitcom is ‘Galaxy Quest’ + ‘The Simpsons’

Disney’s new family sci-fi comedy sitcom The Neighbors premiers tonight on ABC. The show is about “a normal family that moves next door to a bunch of aliens from the planet Zabvron” and will explore “the dynamic of a human family... through the eyes of the aliens and how strange we all are.”


Brutally honest trailer for ‘The Avengers’

And finally, just for laughs...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Coast Guard

We had more visitors this week.  The US Coast Guard Cutter Kukui came in for 5 days to work on the buoys marking our channel.  We also had some Coast Guard visitors fly in on a C-130 for a meeting and a tour.  The days are still fairly quiet around here without the albatross around, but the Bonin petrels are back and are fairly loud at night.  Work is winding down on our lead paint remediation project for this year and we've got a lot of people leaving on the plane this week, so I took them out for a snorkel trip this afternoon. It was great as usual.   

 Here's a photo of the USCG Cutter Kukui. 

 Here's the C-130 landing with our visitors with the Kukui working on a buoy in the background.

You might recognize Jan Vozenilek as one of the people filming the Midway movie with Chris Jordan.  He's out here on a separate project for the Smithsonian Institution.  He also helped me check Eastern Island seeps for sick or dead Laysan ducks. So far we haven't had any new sick or dead since our big outbreak last week.

 There were a lot of Laysan ducklings this year, so we've got a lot of them in the seeps right now.  It's great to see an endangered species doing well.

The Wedge-tailed shearwater chicks are still fluffy but getting pretty big.

 The White terns were flocking around me today, and I managed to get one or two in focus photos.  It's not easy though.
 The lagoon was looking the same as usual this afternoon.  You have to like blue to live out here.

Here's a Moorish idol swimming around the coral.  These are difficult to get pictures of because they are kind of shy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shirley MacLaine's 'Ronald Reagan & the alien' story sells UK papers

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers

The UK's Daily Mirror today recounts the much recycled story of an alleged Close Encounter of the Third Kind in the 1950s between President Ronald Reagan and an alien being.

The Mirror reports that, according Hollywood legend Shirley MacLaine, Reagan "confided in actress Lucille Ball that he had a close encounter in LA in the 50s. Lucille told Shirley he’d been on the way to a party with wife Nancy when a UFO landed and an alien emerged telling Ron to quit acting and take up politics."

Losing Reagan was a mercy for Hollywood, but a curse on Washington... proof that aliens aren't so bright after all?

Read more about the intriguing Hollywood-Reagan-UFO connection HERE.


Reagan wasn't joking, and Spielberg knows it

Monday, September 17, 2012

Back From Vacation

I had a good time on vacation the past few weeks.  I was in Copenhagen, Denmark for about a week and Czech Republic for a week.  It's a long trip from Midway to Copenhagen though.  I'm posting a couple of vacation pics today.
Things haven't slowed down around here, even though all of the albatross are gone.  The NOAA Ship Hi'ialaki showed up today with some researchers and a film crew.  We've had quite a few planes stop by to get fuel on their way across the Pacific, and we've had some sick and dead Laysan ducks from botulism that have been keeping us busy looking for more.  We one of our volunteers left while I was off island, thanks for the help Liz, and a new volunteer came to help out for about 6 weeks, welcome to Midway, Sarah.  Since our volunteer program will be suspended for a while, we'll be losing our volunteers in 2 weeks with no replacements. I hope that won't last too long, because the volunteers do a lot of work!

 This is what the Parade field looks like now with no albatrosses.

 It was kind of a gray day today, but the water is still blue.  The dolphins were splashing around the beach a couple hours before, but I didn't have my camera then.

 I got a photo of the Hi'ialakai pulling in to Midway while I was on Eastern Island this morning.

A US Coast Guard C-130 came in earlier this week to pick up a couple of people that were dropped off from a passing Coast Guard ship.

 This is Copenhagen, Denmark.  Pretty much every person that goes there takes this picture.

 They had a nice sand sculpture area across from the Opera House.

 Here is the Powder Tower in Prague, Czech Republic.  It was built in 1475 and was used to store gunpowder in the 1600's. 

This is the National Museum in Prague.  I have a lot of photos of buildings in Prague, but since this is a Midway blog, I guess 2 are enough.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

UFO movie news round-up (13 Sept. 2012)

Silver Screen Saucers

ID Forever: Part 1and ID Forever: Part 2 will emphasise character relationships.



“Fans can expect brand new robot characters in the next film, if only because sales of the plastic children distracters for the third film were somewhat disappointing.”

"I don't want to suffer from the 'Matrix 2′ problem, where it just ends, like, what the hell? It's gotta end. There's gotta be a sense of conclusion, but also a sense that the journey will continue, and that's a fine line."

“In conjunction with the Blu-ray release on October 9th and the film's 30th anniversary, Fathom Events has announced that E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial will return to the big screen for one night only on October 3 at 7:00 p.m. local time with special matinee screenings in select theaters at 2:00 p.m. local time.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

UFO Disclosure: Why Hollywood Matters

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers
Unidentified Flying Objects, although factual, are also inevitably the stuff of great science-fiction, and so it is unsurprising that they have always sold well at the box-office. But the new millennium has seen a white-hot explosion in the popularity of the UFO sub-genre with the theatrical release of at least 40 alien visitation-themed titles since the year 2000, including such box-office hits as Signs (2002), War of the Worlds (2005), the Transformersfranchise (2007-2011), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Monsters vs. Aliens (2009), The Fourth Kind (2009), Battle: Los Angeles (2011), Cowboys and Aliens (2011), Super 8 (2011) and Prometheus (2012), to name but a few. With recent and forthcoming UFO/alien themed TV series added o the mix – including Taken (2002) V (2009-), The Event, Falling Skies, and Area 51 – audiences now stand little chance against what amounts to a full-scale alien invasion of our popular culture. So what, you might shrug. Why should we care about UFO movies? After all, they’re just entertainment, are they not? 

UFO Disclosure

Given the actuality of the UFO phenomenon and the distinct possibility that some UFOs are extraterrestrial vehicles, many in the UFO research community suggest that an earthshaking ‘Disclosure’ of UFO/ET reality is inevitable at some point in our future. Precisely when and under what circumstances this Disclosure might occur is uncertain, though a number of what seem like perfectly logical scenarios have been proffered by researchers. In their book A.D. After Disclosure, for example, Richard Dolan and Bryce Zabel write: 

“The event that forces Disclosure need not be something as dramatic as an Independence Day scenario, in which gigantic motherships settle over the world’s major cities, a precursor to global attack. The most powerful trigger for Disclosure will be a widespread sighting of a craft that is clearly not one of ours.”1

And this, Dolan and Zabel note, is where our modern obsession with photographic technology comes in to play:

“In an age when portable digital recording devices proliferate to a degree never imagined in human history, it is inevitable that some group of people will capture still images and video of an event that can no longer be denied, and that they will do so in front of reliable and trusted witnesses to the event. Even though such events have happened before, we are talking about something on a much larger scale. This will finally lead to legitimate news coverage, uncomfortable questions, and the first tentative steps towards answers.”2 

Alternatively, suggest Dolan and Zabel, Disclosure might be triggered by “the sudden appearance of physical evidence,” such as a long-hidden piece of recovered saucer debris, “maybe something discovered in the attic of a Roswell witness.” A deathbed confession by an ex-President or military leader is also a possibility, as is a unilateral Disclosure from a foreign government seeking recognition on the world stage, “like China or Brazil.”3

Such unilateral action seems increasingly plausible as more and more governments (especially in South America) are beginning to talk openly about their UFO investigation practices, releasing hard data for public scrutiny, including video and audio recordings by military personnel (and, significantly, these developments will not have gone unnoticed by the US government).

Some readers might think it highly unlikely that UFO Disclosure will occur in their lifetime. After all, if the lid has been kept on this thing for over sixty years (but for the occasional leak here and there), why on Earth should it come off now? Dolan and Zabel acknowledge that there is a paradox regarding UFO Disclosure, calling it impossible and inevitable:

“Impossible, because the powers-that-be have no incentive for releasing this information in its entirety, so dramatic its transformative power would be, so threatening to established interests. Yet, disclosure of the UFO reality is inevitable. Something this large cannot be held back forever. It is easier to stop a tsunami from reaching the shore.”4

This is simple and true. Sixty years from now, with all that has transpired in this subject and all that continues to unfold daily, will we really still be debating the reality of UFOs and asking “are we alone”? It seems highly unlikely. Disclosure is coming, for better or for worse, sooner rather than later.

Why Hollywood Matters

In the immediate aftermath of a Disclosure event – before the full facts are known, or made public – would we, the masses, be able to divorce Hollywood’s historical UFO representations from the UFO reality with which we are presented (whatever that reality may turn out to be)? Doubtful. No, it would be several years down the line – once the Disclosure dust had begun to settle – before academics set about the arduous task of deconstructing the socio-cinematic process through which UFOlogical fact and fantasy had merged in our popular culture. In the meantime, a whirlwind of iconic imagery and generic concepts from blockbuster UFO movies would swirl about in the popular consciousness, subtly informing our perceptions and expectations of the ETs, leaving a sprawling trail of confusion in its wake.

One of the first things people will want to know After Disclosure (A.D.) is why the ETs are here: to issue us with a warning and an ultimatum, like in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)? To raise our cosmic awareness and welcome us into their enlightened galactic community, like in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1997)? Or to annihilate us and strip-mine the Earth for its resources, like in Independence Day (1996)? We’d also wonder about the physical appearance these beings: might they be seven-foot-tall, towering dreadlocked hunters, like the Predator (1986)? Perhaps they’re diminutive pug-faced gardeners, like E.T. The Extraterrestrial (1982)? Or maybe they’re sentient robots akin to the Transformers (2007 – 2011), capable of disguising themselves as earthly technology? They could even be little green men, like in Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957), Aliens in the Attic (2009), Planet 51 (2009), the Toy Story movies (1995-2010), and the countless other films and TV shows that have perpetuated this meme over the decades. “Oh, God!” we might think to ourselves, “Let’s hope they’re not the insectoid child-snatchers of Spielberg’s Falling Skies!

The point I am making here is that, following Disclosure, in the short term, at least, UFO-themed movies and TV shows may very well have a bearing on how we interpret and react to the complex events that unfold around us. Is this good, or bad? Well, that depends on whether or not Hollywood’s historical depictions of UFO occupants bear any relation to the true nature and intent of the ETs themselves. A cursory glance through Hollywood’s back-catalogue of UFO movies demonstrates that silver screen aliens are not the friendliest of folk: most of them want only to enslave, eat, or otherwise eradicate humanity. Typically, these aliens are malevolent and physically monstrous creatures whose level of technological advancement far exceeds their moral, ethical and spiritual development.

As human beings, we are imbued with a natural fear of the unknown. Obviously, Hollywood’s hoards of fearsome aliens will do nothing to calm our post-disclosure nerves. But, of course, not all silver screen aliens are intergalactic boogiemen. Some of them do come in peace, bringing with them hope and inspiration for humanity. Here, movies such as Close Encounters, E.T., Starman, Cocoon and The Abyss spring to mind, and perhaps the types of aliens depicted therein have real-life counterparts. Perhaps some of these benevolent beings are, in fact, UFO occupants? If most – or even some – UFO occupants are friendly and enlightened, will Hollywood’s innumerable fear-based UFO movies make it harder for us to trust and embrace such beings? Indeed, would such movies make the beings themselves more reluctant to openly interact with us? After all, no one likes to be demonized – especially not through the all-pervasive medium of cinema.

The Ever Convenient ‘Other’

In its silent era Hollywood famously demonized African Americans in D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915), which presented black men as unintelligent, sexually aggressive primitives and the Ku Klux Klan as a noble and heroic force. Throughout the first half of the 20th Century and beyond, ethnic minorities – particularly African Americans – continued to be the subject of negative silver screen portrayals. But when the overt subjugation of African Americans became widely socially questionable during and after the civil rights movement that peaked in the late-1960s, and as America slowly began to acknowledge its colonial, genocidal history, Hollywood was forced to consider more appropriate ethnicities for its obligatory ‘Other.’ Arabs had long made for convenient silver screen villains, but the Munich massacre of 1972 – in which members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and subsequently killed by the Palestinian Black September Organisation – effectively branded all Arabs a threat to US national security and gave Hollywood the greenlight to produce innumerable ‘Arabs-as-terrorists’ movies in the decades to follow (see, for example, Black Sunday (1977), The Delta Force (1986), Navy Seals (1990), True Lies (1994), Executive Decision (1996), Rules of Engagement (2000), etc). However, following the Earth-shaking events of September 11, 2001, Hollywood became acutely self-conscious of its one-dimensional depictions of Islam and, not wanting to contribute to a potential war of civilizations, industry leaders sought – with only limited success – to encourage more balanced portrayals of Arabs and the Muslim world in both big and small screen products.5

In addition to Islam, Communism has also long provided Hollywood with a convenient ‘alien’ ideology against which to pit silver screen heroes like John Wayne (in Big Jim McLain (1952)), Patrick Swayze (in Red Dawn(1984)), and Sylvester Stallone (in Rocky IV (1985)), etc. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, however, which signalled a formal end to the Cold War, Hollywood has struggled to find its new ‘enemy nation’, its new bad guy – a guy whom it can vilify and demonise without fear of political or religious consequences and whose role as ‘malevolent subversive/invader’ can never be questioned. No matter; in the absence of suitable human villains, filmmakers throughout history have always had the luxury of falling back on the ET menace – from The Thing from Another World (1951) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) to The Fourth Kind (2009) and Battleship(2012). Trusty aliens and their dastardly ways. And this is perfectly fine, of course, because, officially, aliens don’t exist. But when the truth finally outs, Hollywood may face fresh accusations of racism and xenophobia. Will the industry attempt to redress its sixty-plus years of alien-bashing After Disclosure, or will its demonization of our cosmic visitors go into overdrive?
Copyright © 2012, Robbie Graham

1. Richard M. Dolan and Bryce Zabel, A.D. After Disclosure: The People’s Guide to Life after Contact (New York: Keyhole, 2010), 16.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid, 98.
5. See: Jack Shaheen, Guilty: Hollywood’s Verdict on Arabs After 9/11 (Northampton, MA: Interink, 2008).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Aliens will 'Grab' Ireland in 2013

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers

A little-known, forthcoming UFO/alien movie is brought to our attention in the October 2012 hard-copy edition of Empire magazine. Its title: Grabbers!

"Grabbers sounds like an insanely fun monster movie about a sleepy Irish coastal town that is invaded by octopus-like space aliens," says Empire.

The twist, though, is that the aliens are allergic to alcohol, meaning the whole town needs to get drunk to effectively fight off the space 'Grabbers', which, according to director Jon Wright, are "reminiscent of arseholes, cocks and vaginas."

"[It's] all very weird and uncomfortable," says Wright. "When [the Grabbers] come close, you think, 'Ahh, I don't want that thing on my face!', which, of course, is where it ends up."

The film's star, Richard Coyle, tells Empire: "I'm playing an alcoholic but it's not a film about alcoholism. It's a fine line, I know, but Pretty woman isn't a film about prostitution, is it? The script is very funny. The Irish do like to have a drink and a laugh, but this film is not saying, 'What a bunch of pissheads!' It's about an island community of lovely people." 

Prepare to be 'Grabbed' at cinemas in 2013.