People have always talked about funny things--odd things, often scary things--in the sky.
The things--oblong, phosphorescent, rimmed in multicolored lights--have inspired tales of terror from witnesses, pitting respectable citizens against each other and, at times, their own government. Indeed, the UFO phenomenon continues to provoke sometimes acrimonious debate.
Those who claim sightings and abductions are considered by many to be crazy, plain and simple. Others who simply believe in life from outer space are, shall we say, discreet--for fear of being called insane.
Others not only believe in UFOs but argue with conviction that the U. S. government has for decades conspired to pull the wool over our night eyes (apparently in fear that a citizenry told the startling truth about alien life would be reduced to mass hysteria, even anarchy).
This is powerful stuff.
And perhaps all the more today, as emboldened people share their stories and experiences in public meetings devoted to the subject. Psychologists have become involved, employing hypnosis to recover memories of brief, sometimes not-so-brief, encounters of an unknown kind. But even their contributions raise eyebrows, eliciting jeers as well as cheers.
Ventura writer Jane Hulse, a regular contributor to Ventura Life, went straight to the center of this roiling subject, in Thousand Oaks, where a local group dedicated to the subject meets regularly. She returned with testimonies not only of bizarre lights in the night skies over the Oxnard Plain but of abduction and abuse by aliens described in vivid detail.
Hulse not only brought back a fascinating look at the subject but also a changed sensibility about it.
"I went in kind of pooh-poohing it, being cynical," she said. "But I came out of it more respectful. There are some very credible people studying the phenomenon, and it does deserve to be studied more fully."
You'll have to make up your mind.
Elsewhere in this issue, Hulse parses out, for parents, the real requirements of the new bicycle helmet law. Many of our kids will surely be disappointed to have to don helmets, but there are things we can do to make buying and using the helmet a successful team effort.
And contributor Bill Locey profiles the Buds, a rock group featuring Buddy Sklar on bass and Chet McCracken on drums. Sklar once performed with the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, McCracken with the Doobie Brothers. Older, wiser and yet still energized, these rock veterans are launching a new sound and performing locally--good news for those of us who believe in renewal.