Staring at Goats

men who stare at goats jon ronsonThe Men Who Stare at Goats – Jon Ronson
Simon & Schuster – 2004

I saw the Men Who Stare at Goats movie when it came out in the cinema. I remember being a bit disappointed by it. A few years later, I watched Crazy Rulers of the World, the documentary series (part 1, part 2, part 3) that was meant to accompany the book on which the movie was based. I loved it. I don’t know why or how I only got around to reading the book last Saturday, but when I did sit down with it, I enjoyed every page.

This book is far more modern (and popular) than a lot of the books that I review here, so a detailed summary is unnecessary. Suffice to say that it’s a book about secret experiments, projects and forays into the paranormal that went on in the US army and CIA. It touches on remote viewing, telekinesis, UFOs, Project MK Ultra, and the Heaven’s Gate cult. Ronson’s writing style is enjoyable and makes the whole thing very easy to digest.

The only real criticism I have of the book has to do with the suggestion that the forms of sonic torture used during WACO and the American invasion of Iraq had been derived from the ideas of Jim Channon. In the late 1970s, Channon, the leader of the First Earth Battalion (more on them later), had suggested blasting enemies with loud, unpleasant music to disorientate them. A sizable portion of Ronson’s book explores the potential link between Channon’s ideas and American soldiers’ use of music to torture terror suspects. I suppose it’s not impossible that there was an indirect link between Channon’s ideas and the atrocities committed in Iraq, but I think it’s far more likely that these soldiers had the idea of blasting prisoners with horrible music completely independently of Channon. Playing loud music to annoy people is hardly a revolutionary idea. Also, I’m not convinced that soldiers playing Matchbox 20 in both Iraq and Guantanamo Bay was anything more than coincidence.

jim channon audio spectrumChannon’s arsenal of auditory weapons.

The section on music as torture provides a necessary bridge to the latter part of the book, and things would probably seem a bit disjointed without it. I’m willing to forgive Ronson for including it because it’s an interesting topic even if his conclusions aren’t convincing, and the stuff that appears both before and after this section is fascinating.

After reading the entire book on the Saturday. I spent my Sunday rewatching the documentary series that went along with it. This series covers much of the same material as the book, but there’s enough exclusive information in both to warrant doing both. I did not rewatch the movie, and I don’t think I’ll bother. There’s sections in both Ronson’s documentary series and book on Frank Olsen and the C.I.A., LSD, suicide/murder conspiracy. I’m currently about half way through Wormwood, the new Netflix documentary series about the Olsen case. It’s pretty good.

cia manual trickery and deceptionThe Official C.I.A. Manual of Trickery and Deception – John Mulholland, H. Keith Melton and Robert Wallace
William Morrow Paperbacks – 2010

While waiting for the call on my library hold on The Men who Stare at Goats, I picked up a book that I bought at a library book sale last year for 50 cents. This is the C.I.A. manual of Trickery and Deception. In the 50s, as part of their infamous MKUltra, mind control program, the C.I.A. hired John Mulholland, a famous stage magician, to write a manual to teach their agents how to use sleight of hand to slip poison into an enemy’s drink. It was believed that all copies of this manual had been destroyed, but Melton and Wallace found a copy in 2007. The introduction section was fairly interesting, but I have to be honest, I gave up on the actual manual part about half-way through. The text is painstakingly boring, and the information it contains is really only going to be useful for date-rapists.

first earth battalion army of light

First Earth Battalion Manual – Jim Channon
Unknown Publisher (US Military?) – 1979ish

I’ve already mentioned the First Earth Battalion. The F.E.B. was a proposed army of superhumans that would be capable of transforming both warfare and human existence. It was imagined by Jim Channon, a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel. According to Ronson, the pentagon paid this guy to spend two years visiting a bunch of new-age institutions and groups in California in the late 70s as part of an attempt to gather ideas to reinvigorate the US army. At the end of these two years, Channon published a manual wherein he described the soldiers of the future as warrior monks, capable of levitation, walking through walls, and cleansing the colon at will. This manual is extensively featured in Ronson’s documentary and quoted from in his book. I knew I’d have to track down a copy.

Doing so was a little more complicated than I anticipated. The first result of a google search for “first earth battalion pdf” looks promising, but I’m not sure it’s the exact document that Ronson was referring to. “The First Earth Battalion Field Manual” (FEB-A from hereon-in) contains lots of the information and images that the featured text contains, but it omits the parts about the different abilities available to various levels of Warrior monks. This document is from 1982. There is another document floating around the net under the title of “First Earth Battalion Manual” (let’s call it FEB-B) but aside from a few pages of new information, this text is mostly the same as FEB-A. It also omits the details of the different levels of Warrior Monks. I think that this one, the shorter pdf, was the text presented to the Delta Force think tank in 1983, but I can’t be sure of this.

warrior monk abilitiesSome of the abilities of a Warrior Monk, as listed in First Earth Battalion – Evolutionary Tactics Manual (FEB-C), as seen in part 1 of Crazy Rulers of the World.

As far as I can tell, the text that Ronson was looking at was a slightly different document to the ones that I have seen. This third document (FEB-C), I believe, was called “First Earth Battalion Evolutionary Tactics Manual”., Jim Channon’s website (or at least a website about him) is marketing a pdf version of this text with the following blurb:

“Evolutionary Tactics is the First Earth Battalion’s Field Manual.  As seen in the movie The Men Who Stare at Goats, the manual was created by Jim Channon for the U.S. Army and first published in 1978. It illustrates high performance concepts and evolutionary ideas. Originally passed on officer-to-officer via photocopy, it has since become something of a collector’s item.

Now you can obtain a rare copy of this manual. Its 150 pages are filled with curious artistic renderings, cartoons, and out-of-the-ordinary ideas.”

At 150 pages, this text (FEB-C) is quite a bit longer than the ones available for free (FEB-A and FEB-B), so I am guessing it contains the missing sections. Unfortunately, I can find no free pdf versions of this text online.

The ambiguity over which text is the original and the omission of certain sections in the free pdfs is perhaps explained by the fact that the original text was largely distributed by photocopying. After having read through the free version online, I have absolutely no curiosity or desire to see the unexpurgated text. The 100+ pages of this malarky that I did read were quite sufficient.

unity through diversityVomit.

This is really very silly stuff. At one point, Channon claims that it is possible that the human race is transforming from a carbon based lifeform to a silicon based lifeform. It reminded me of those horrible new-age alien books that I read/tried to read a few years ago.

Also, having read through this rubbish and researched Channon a bit more, I am rather confused as to the official status of this material. Ronson’s work seems to present it as if it were endorsed by the military, but I can’t find any evidence of this online. The fact that it was distributed through photocopying also suggests that it was never an official army document. That the military gave him money to research this stuff is surprising enough, but I find it very difficult to believe that they would play an active role in publishing this rubbish after having seen it.

Jim Channon died last September, but nobody has updated his wikipedia page yet. He was a bit loopy, but seemed nice enough. RIP Jim.

Reading through all of this stuff, I couldn’t help but think of the X-Files. There’s no evidence that any of the US military’s experiments into the paranormal yielded any positive results, but these texts confirm that US defense and security forces have long been involved in shady, conspiratorial and sometimes mental activities.

The Mothman Cometh

the mothman prophecies keelThe Mothman Prophecies – John Keel
Tor – 2002 (Originally published in 1975)

When I picked this book up, I expected it to be fairly similar to McCloy and Millet’s The Jersey Devil, a book describing how a strange cryptid briefly terrorized a small town; however, The Mothman Prophecies is more a descriptive synthesis of 4-5 paranormal beings and events, and it doesn’t contain a huge amount of information specifically about the Mothman apparition. The Mothman, you see, at least according to John Keel, is quite probably from another dimension, and its mothy form is likely only one of its possible manifestations.

The book describes several strange events:

  1. The Mothman appeared to several people in Point Pleasant, a small town in West Virginia.
  2. Several other people in this town saw UFOs.
  3. Strange men, dressed in black, showed up in Point Pleasant, asking strange questions to these witnesses.
  4. A few of these witnesses also received bizarre phone calls during which they would hear static, beeping, or a foreign man speaking quickly.

This stuff went on for a while, but when a bridge leading into the town collapsed, killing 48 people, the strange events seemed to stop happening.

The loss of 48 souls to a town that housed fewer than 6000 people would have been devastating, and one can sensibly attribute the cessation of paranormal activity in Point Pleasant after 1967 to its residents going into a period of mourning and spending less time looking for lights in the sky and weirdos in the streets. John Keel however, postulates that Mothman disappeared after the collapse of the bridge because his work as an ill omen was complete. Yes, Mothman has more in common with a guardian angel than he does with Bigfoot.

Most of the book is taken up with descriptions of strange lights seen in the sky. When I reviewed Whitley Strieber’s Transformation, I noted that he had given up the idea that aliens are extraterrestrial and that he now believes that “the visitors are likely trans-dimensional inhabitants of Earth”.  It is quite possible that Strieber got this idea directly from Keel. (Strieber was a member or at least attended the meetings of Keel’s New York Fortean Society.) Keel reckons that UFOs are manifestations of something that exists outside of the dimensions that constrain our reality. Whatever it is that is causing the UFO phenomenon is probably the same thing that made people believe in fairies and religious events. If you think about it, a Mothman, as imagined by Keel, is basically the same thing as a Banshee.

Strange lights in the sky and cryptids sightings are cool and all, but the really interesting parts of this book are the bits about the peculiar men who dress in black and spend their time pestering UFO witnesses. Keel wasn’t the first person to write about the Men in Black; that honour, along with the honour of being the first to write a book about Mothman, goes to Keel’s friend, Gray Barker. Originally, the MIB were assumed to be government agents trying to keep witnesses quiet about their UFO encounters, but by the time this book was published, Barker and Keel agreed that the MIB were themselves aliens. Their descriptions in this book are actually pretty cool. They’re always dark skinned (although Keel repeats several times that they’re not black), they have pointy faces and unsettling smiles, their clothes are ill fitting, they don’t understand what common household items are for, and they speak like characters from a Samuel Beckett play.

Overall, the book isn’t very convincing. I had been looking forward to reading it, and it took me quite a bit longer to get through than I had expected. Keel didn’t have enough material to write a more focused book, so he seems to have crammed in any old crap he could find. He starts to contradict himself in the latter half of the book, but he realizes that he’s doing so and attempts to make these contradictions part of his argument. (See the Paranoiacs Are Made, Not Born chapter.) The Men in Black have been so successful in their attempts to obfuscate the public’s understanding of what happened in Point Pleasant that Mothman researchers can’t really know what they know about the topic. I read a review somewhere that described the book as John Keel’s descent into paranoid madness, and if you were to accept all of its claims, I’m sure that reading this book would drive you quite mad.too.

I’m not calling John Keel a liar, but many of the links he propounds are rather tenuous, some of his descriptions are vague, and much of his reasoning is plain shoddy. He was also admittedly very selective with the material he chose to use for this book. I’m not complaining about this (I’m all for that kind of writing!); I mention it only in response to the claim that Keel was paranoid. This is sensational, speculative non-fiction filled with what-ifs; it’s use your imagination stuff. Keel wasn’t mad at all; like he rest of us, he just enjoyed a good conspiracy.

I was fairly disappointed with the cover of my copy of this book. It’s a shitty, ugly version that came out to coincide with the movie version of 2002. (Earlier editions have really cool covers.) I watched the movie there too. I’m still not sure what to think of it. It’s set in the 90s or early 2000s instead of the 60s, and it doesn’t strictly adhere to the events in the book. It also cuts out all of the MIB and UFO stuff, so it’s not quite as all over the place. It looks pretty good, and there’s definitely an atmosphere to it, but I can’t imagine it making much sense to anyone who hasn’t read the book. It’s a little more cohesive without the MIB and flying saucers, but these omissions also render it a little dull, and while it’s not tough to sit through, there’s so little explanation given that you finish the film wondering why they bothered making it.

Well, that’s that. Another Fortean classic for the archives. Some of my long time followers may have noticed that I’ve upgraded this blog with a fancy .com address. My url is now Any old links to the site should still work, but due to an irritating fuck-up, I managed to delete all post likes and cut my traffic in half. Still though, the blog must go on, and I have ordered some seriously atrocious sounding books for my summer reading. Expect to see posts about perverted werewolves, Lovecraftian magick, Satanic Nazis and rock’n’roll themed horror showing up here very soon.

Hail to the King!

Towards the end of last year, I wrote a long post about the work of Stephen King. I had read nothing but King for a few weeks prior to writing that, and so I decided to give him a break for a while. He has been showing up in the news recently due to his hilarious behaviour on twitter and for the record breaking new trailer for It, and so I decided to indulge myself with a smattering of his marvelous brand of trashy horror fiction.

it stephen kingIt – 1986

I’ve wanted to read this book for a long time. I remember being thoroughly creeped out by the video box of the 1990 movie version when I was a kid but being a little disappointed when I actually got to sit down and watch It. With the new movie coming out in September, I decided that I had better read the book now so that I can act cool and knowledgeable to anyone who mentions it to me in the coming months.

In some ways, It is a brilliant novel. The characters are great, the scary bits are very scary, and the transitions between past and present are really well executed. I also have personal reasons for enjoying the story of a gang of losers getting into rock fights with bullies, building hideouts in the woods, and breaking into abandoned houses. I was a little older than the characters in the book when I went a very similar, although significantly less supernatural, set of adventures myself.

Several scenes in the book involve the kids breaking into an abandoned house only to meet It in different ghoulish forms. When I was 18, my friends and I broke into an abandoned house and went rummaging through the cellar. When we were down there, we saw a strange light glimmering on the wall by the stairs. This was rather frightening as it was well after dark, and that set of stairs was our only escape route. We grabbed what we could from the debris on the ground (a stick, a rope, a rusty grill…) and prepared to do battle with whatever it was that was coming down the stairs.

We waited in silence for several minutes, but nothing moved and the light eventually went away. Afterwards, as we sat on some chairs that we had fashioned from old breezeblocks, we came up with a story to explain the peculiar glare. It had been the ghost of the former resident of the house, an old woman who was none too pleased with our presence in her home. We wrote a song about it that began:

In the hoose (sic), the times we had.
Our antiques (sic) made the Granny mad.
Her toilet, it was brown and crappy;
in the bin, her vaginal nappy.

shitty toilet
Her toilet was indeed both brown and crappy.

Anyways, there are several genuinely creepy scenes and ideas in here, but It is a very long book, and in truth, it’s a little incohesive. By 1986, Stephen King was the most popular novelist in the world. He could have written complete rubbish, had it published and sold a million copies. I’m not saying that this is rubbish, but I reckon it could have done with a bit of editing. Some bits aren’t really unnecessary to the lengthy plot, and some crucial plot elements (It‘s origin, the Turtle, how some adults can see Pennywise) are given scant explanation. This doesn’t detract too much from the book however; when a novel’s opening scene depicts a clown dragging a small child into a sewer to eat him, one aught to adjust their expectations accordingly. Don’t question the plot’s coherence; just turn your brain off and enjoy the trashy horror goodness.

When reviewing an extremely popular work, I try not to repeat information or ideas that will be available from thousands of other blogs and websites, but I will say that the infamous sex scene towards the end of this novel was damn weird.

I tried to rewatch the old movie version right after finishing the novel, but it’s very long and aside from Tim Curry, the acting is awful. I lasted about 20 minutes before watching a best-bits compilation on youtube. I will definitely be going to see the new version when it comes out.


cycle of the werewolf stephen kingCycle of the Werewolf – 1983

This story is packaged as an illustrated novel, but in reality, it’s shorter than some of King’s short stories. It’s about a werewolf on the loose in a small town. There’s nothing in here that you wouldn’t expect from the title and cover of the book. It’s not an unpleasant read, but I don’t think anyone would say that this is King at his finest. I read it on my commute to work one day.


carrie stephen kingCarrie – 1974

 King’s first novel, Carrie, is also one of his best. I started it one morning last week and had finished it by that afternoon. Obviously, this is a very popular work, one that has spawned 3-4 movie versions, and I was familiar with the plot before reading it, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it immensely.

This is nowhere near as ambitious as a novel like It, but I reckon Carrie is actually the better book. The reader quickly comes to understand Carrie’s plight and to lust for her revenge, but this book also encourages its readers to consider how they treat the Carries in their own lives. It’s a simple formula, but it’s entertaining and effective.


I love Stephen King, but I’ll probably leave him alone for another few months. He’ll doubtlessly appear on this blog again. Oh, and sorry for the recent lack of posts; there should be a few new ones popping up fairly soon.

The Divine Rite of King

When I as a kid, my parents would sometimes take me to the videoshop after mass on a Sunday and we’d rent two cassettes: a cartoon for the kids and a movie for my parents. As I got a little older, I found myself drawn to the wall over by the sales counter. This was where the horror films were stacked. I distinctly remember being fascinated by the video boxes of Return of the Living Dead III, Ghoulies, and The Howling II. There was one similarity shared by several of the other boxes; it was a man’s name, Stephen King. I remember the mildly titillating feeling of dread that came from looking at the boxes of Children of the Corn, Tommyknockers, It and Graveyard Shift. The covers made these movies look horribly disturbing. I mean, these looked like the kind of films that were supposed to make you mentally sick if you watched them. But underneath my revulsion there was an intense curiosity. I wanted to see those films badly.

My parents had seen a few of the better movies that had been made from King’s work. I remembering pestering them for every plot detail of the Shining  and Misery.  It was probably soon after that that my mam allowed me to read The Moving Finger, a short story from Nightmares and Dreamscapes. It was a bit like the Goosebumps books that I absolutely adored at the time, but this was for grownups. I thought Stephen King was super cool.

I’m the eldest of my siblings, and my parents were a bit stricter with me than they were with my sisters. When one of my teachers told my parents that students should spend 3 hours studying every day, my mam took that to heart. I was never locked in  room or anything, but I was expected to spend several hours a day on my schoolwork. It wasn’t worth fighting over, so I just stayed in the front room of our house by myself, pretending to study for a few hours every day. I can’t remember/don’t want to admit how I spent all of those hours, but there was a bookshelf in that room, and sometimes reading novels seemed like a better idea than reading textbooks. There were only four books on that shelf that looked remotely appealing, and I got through all of them. ‘What books were they?’, I hear you say. They were Roddy Doyle’s excellent Barrytown Trilogy and Bag of Bones by Stephen King.

bagofbonesBag of Bones (1998)
I read this about 15 years ago and can’t remember much about it. I believe I enjoyed it at the time. Anything beat studying.

theshiningThe Shining (1977)
I read this one a little over 5 years ago, and I absolutely loved it. At one point, I actually had to put the book down to take a breather and calm myself (I believe it was right after Danny went into room 237). I had seen Kubrick’s film several times before reading the book, and I reckon it’s better to do the film/book combo in that order.

nightmaresanddreamscapesNightmares & Dreamscapes (1993)
While my first experience with this short story collection was probably 20 years ago, I only got around to reading it cover to cover in 2014. (Well, I’ve never technically read it cover to cover to be honest; I read it in my old office job from a pdf file saved in my google drive). Some stories were great. My favourites were Popsy, Crouch End (a pastiche of Lovecraft), and Night Flier, the movie version of which is laughably bad. Dedication is weird and gross but definitely worth a read. I enjoyed this book, but I don’t think it was quite as good as King’s earlier short story collections.

nightshiftNight Shift (1978)
In October, I took a seasonal job in a powder factory. The work required a lot of standing still, and I was allowed to do it with headphones in. I decided to download some audiobooks to get me through the long dusty days, but I was fairly disappointed in the selection offered by illegal fire-sharing sites. Also, choosing the right audiobook to listen to at work is tricky; the book needs to be interesting enough to keep your mind occupied, but it also has to be light enough that you don’t have to take notes to keep up with the plot. My problems were all solved when I found a big torrent of Stephen King’s audiobooks. His writing is very straightforward, and it takes barely any effort to soak it in. Also, his short stories are about vampires, aliens, mutant rats, and men that turn into slime. If that doesn’t sound enticing to you, get the fuck off my blog and go listen to your Coldplay cds, you stupid fucking barrel of shit.
This is the first collection of short fiction that King published, and some of the stories are  great. Children of the Corn is maybe my favourite. The written text is so much better than the utterly shit movie version that came out in 1984. Graveyard Shift and The Mangler were both great too, but I haven’t watched their movie adaptations. One for the road and Jerusalem’s Lot both expand on the material from Salem’s Lot (reviewed below), and Night Surf is a brief glance at the idea that would become The Stand (also reviewed below). Not everything in here is brilliant, but I really like the fact that King is willing to take any silly idea that comes into his head and turn it into a story. The man has a brilliant imagination.

skeletoncrewSkeleton Crew (1985)
I think I stole a copy of this book from my Granddad’s house when I was 21. I remember taking it to France with me and reading most of The Mist on a plane. Frank Darabont’s version of the Mist is one of my favourite movies and one of the few times that I think a film improved on the book. I read another few stories after that, but lost the book soon thereafter. I started going through the remaining tales as soon as I finished Night Shift last month, and this one picks up right where that one left off.
Survivor Type is fantastic. I laughed heartily as I listened to it. I guessed what was going to happen only a little bit into the story, but I didn’t think King would have the guts to write a story like that. I was wrong. Stephen King definitely has the guts to write a story like that. This collection was thoroughly enjoyable.

4pastFour Past Midnight (1990)
I had found that Stephen King’s fiction was the perfect way to pass the time in work, but I had run out of short story collections. I read that Four Past Midnight was a collection of novellas, but I had never actually seen a physical copy of the book before I started listening to it.  It turns out that some of these “novellas” are longer than some of King’s most celebrated novels. Why were they released in a collection rather than individually? I reckon it was something to do with the fact they’re not exactly his most brilliant work.

The Langoliers
This is a weird one. It’s about a plane that flies into another dimension. The audiobook version is narrated by Willem Dafoe, and I really enjoyed it, but in retrospect, it doesn’t make much sense at all.
Secret Window, Secret Garden
This, in my opinion, was the worst story in this collection. The twist ending is apparent from the very beginning.
The Library Policeman
This was my favourite. It’s weird as fuck.
“Come with me, Ssson. I’m the Library Polissse Man”
The Sun Dog
A boy’s camera offers a glimpse into another reality. It’s an interesting concept I guess, entertaining enough.

I enjoyed Four Past Midnight, but I really doubt anyone would ever have heard of it if it wasn’t written by Mr. King. It would not be a good starting point for anyone interested in sampling his works.

salemslotSalem’s Lot (1975)
About 8 years ago, I stayed up late two nights in a row to watch the 1979 movie version of Salem’s Lot. I was unimpressed. I decided to give the book a chance right after finishing Four Past Midnight. I’m really glad that I did; it’s a very entertaining vampire story set in modern America. I’d strongly recommend that you read it if you haven’t.

thestandThe Stand: Complete and Uncut (1990)
By the time I started on the Stand, I had read/listened to nothing other than Stephen King books for almost two months. I’ll be honest, that was probably a bad idea. At 1153 pages, the uncut version of the Stand is King’s longest book. I never got bored when I was reading it; it is very entertaining, but towards the end, I started to really look forward to reading other books.

King takes his time setting the story up, but it all winds down fairly quickly. There’s three books in the stand. The first ends the world with a super plague, the second details how the two factions of survivors organize themselves, and the final book describes the conflict (or lack thereof) between the two groups. The concept is cool, but the pacing is silly. Given the overall plot of the book, the section on the plague wiping out most of humanity is too long. For the first few hundred pages, the Stand is a fairly straightforward disaster novel that describes a calamity that is in no way unrealistic. Then, after 99.6% of human beings have been wiped out, we find out that the survivors have been left with mild telepathic abilities, and the book quickly turns into a religious parable about the forces of good and evil. It’s already already very, very long, but I felt a bit cheated when the conflict that the previous 1100 pages had been leading to was literally prevented by the hand of God. I mean, come on Stephen; you could have got another 5000+ pages if the two sides had actually gone to war! I wouldn’t be surprised if the Stand had originally been even more epic in its scope and that King only realized that he wouldn’t be able all fit everything into one book after he had already written 700 pages. He has acknowledged that The Lord of the Rings was an inspiration for this work, but King’s fellowship only sets out for their Mordor (Las Vegas) in the third book of the Stand. If he had really used Tolkien’s trilogy as a model, the Stand would probably have lasted 5000-6000 pages.

The religious undertones of the book also irked me a little. I thought Randall Flag was fucking cool, and I definitely would have joined his side. Also, while several of King’s works feature a “Magical Negro”, Mother Abigail serves as a particularly cringeworthy example of this trope. King is definitely not a racist, but some of his writing depicts a slightly dated worldview.

All that being said, the Stand is filled with cool characters and awesome scenes, and I enjoyed reading it. Stephen King has acknowledged that he considers his work to be trash (good trash specifically), and I, for one, am not above reading trash. I fucking love trash, and I loved Trash.

I’ve enjoyed every Stephen King book that I’ve read, but right now, I am looking forward to reading something else. I didn’t know if I was going to review his books on this blog when I started binging on him in October, but the more that I think about it, the more I think that he deserves to be here. If you like horror, you’ve already read this guy. His books are spooky, gross, and seriously entertaining. I’m going to give it a few months, but I’ll definitely be reading more Stephen King in the future. Aside from his fiction, he also seems like a cool guy; he hates Donald Trump and he’s into AC/DC.

kingStephen King, I salute you!

A touch too much

galactic-humanYou are Becoming a Galactic Human – Virginia Essene and Sheldon Nidle
1994 – S.E.E. Publishing

There are three books that I have started and never finished; Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, The Unnameable by Samuel Beckett, and now You are Becoming a Galactic Human by Virginia Essene and Sheldon Nidle. I really tried to get through each of them, but after a while I had to consider what I was going to gain from doing so and weigh that against all of the other things that I could potentially achieve in the time it would take to finish these boring, stupid nightmares. I can tolerate some Joyce and Beckett, but their aforementioned works are very definitely the literary equivalent of the Emperor’s new clothes; people like to think that they’ll seem clever if they manage to slog through them. Finishing You are Becoming a Galactic Human however, offers no such impetus. Although just as ridiculous and confusing as any obscurant modernist drivel, this book is not considered a classic by anyone. It’s a stupid piece of garbagey trash, and anyone who reads it and takes it seriously is a buffoon. If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I have a very low standard when it comes to literature, but this smear of shit in your underpants was positively too stupid for me to waste my time on.

timelordsSorry, what?

I review all kinds of nutty books on here, but there comes a point at which the content of a “non-fiction” book becomes so separated from reality that it is no longer intelligible or enjoyable. Bullshit has to have some basis in reality for it to be engaging. Neither The Legend of the Sons of God nor Chariots of the Gods are remotely convincing, but their authors at least attempted to provide some kind of evidence for their claims. Their evidence, however scant and shaky it may be, is based in things that can be checked. In comparison to Essene and Nidle, both Erich Von Däniken and T.C. Lethbridge seem like noble rationalists. The former pair of bozos’ claims are based on channeled messages from extra-terrestrial, extra-dimensional spirits that dwell in different galaxies.  I struggled with Preparing for Contact and Unseen Beings, Unseen Worlds for similar reasons, but as ridiculous as those books were, I could just about make out and accept the pretenses of the authors for long enough to allow myself to finish them. I got about 20 pages into You are Becoming a Galactic Human before I had to put it back on the shelf and admit defeat. This is next-level rubbish. Not even the closing message, delivered by the alien Jesus Christ, could compel me to finish this book of nonsense.


Like Tom Dongo, Sheldon Nidle made himself instantly dislikable by boasting about how clever he is. The chap got some bullshitty degrees from a community college, and he literally thinks he’s a fucking prophet. Realistically, he’s a grown man who likes to play make-believe and has the mental capacity of a low-grade imbecile.

I put the book down when the authors claimed that the Earth was moving towards a ‘Photon Belt’ that would shift our existence into the 5th dimension and cause mental evolution and mass spiritual enlightenment. We were supposed to enter the Photon Belt at some stage between March 1995 and December 1996. Our entrance into the belt was to be signified by 72 hours of complete darkness. These three days would then be followed by 17 years of permanent light. It was during these 17 years that we were to develop ‘incredible psychic abilities’ including telekinesis and telepathy.

As usual, the authors string together as many new-age spiritual concepts as they can manage. I saw parts on chakras, Atlantis, crystals and my favourite old chestnut: telepathic communication with dolphins and whales. It also includes, and I didn’t bother to investigate why, a very inept drawing of some ancient Egyptian deities.

Even writing this review, I’ve been thinking of trying to read this again at some stage in the future. I know that putting this book down and reading something else was the dignified choice, but I can’t completely shake off the feeling of defeat. In an attempt to preserve some of my honour, I’m going to make a promise to myself, my readers, Virginia Essene and Sheldon Nidle:
I promise that I will read and review You Are Becoming a Galactic Human as soon as our Solar System enters the Photon-Belt.

While I’m on the topic of stupid books about intergalactic-spiritualism, I’ll share a few pics from what is one of the strangest books in my collection.
yhwh(YHWH) The Book of Knowledge: Keys of Enoch – J.J. Hurtak
The Academy for Future Science – 1977 (First published 1973)

In truth, I haven’t even tried to read this one, and I almost definitely never will. As far as I can tell, it’s a book of messages that were delivered to J.J. Hurtak by some kind of angelic entity named Enoch, and from what little I know about Hurtak, I’d imagine ol’ Enoch was probably an alien. J.J. Hurtak was in the enjoyable 2013 documentary, The Hidden Hand: Alien Contact and the Government Cover-Up, (It was on Netflix a while ago. It’s here now.), and he seems like a complete wacko. I picked this book up at a library sale for 2 or 3 dollars, and it’s fancy looking enough that I’ve been keeping it just to decorate my bookshelf.

whoknowsThis book contains more than 600 pages of this kind of gobbeldy-gick.

shitting-dnaJust an Intergalactic Eunuch scatting molecular structures into deep space…

newagegarbageNot sure about the fruity Eqyptian Triclops or the black and white, naked Samurai, but the other guy is definitely 80s Vince Neil, right?

Flicking through this, all I see is an appalling mess of ridiculous pictures, pseudoscience and Biblical references. The notion of having to slog through this revelation of anal spew is genuinely frightening. People try to tell themselves that every experience can be a learning experience. I disagree. Once you have read a few really, really stupid books by people who believe they have talked to heavenly aliens, the only thing you learn from reading another is that the international list of cretins contains one more entry than you previously expected.

Don’t risk adding your own name to that list. Maintain your dignity and avoid these books.

Unseen Beings, Unseen Worlds – Tom Dongo

1Hummingbird Publishing – 1994

This is a real piece of work. Somewhere in the introduction or the first chapter, Tom Dongo claims to be an extremely skeptical individual who is unwilling to accept anything that he hasn’t been able to prove to himself. He then goes on to write a book about his personal experiences with remote-viewing, aliens, the astral plane, demons, telepathy, reptilians, ghosts, channeling, and banshees. One has to wonder what counts as proof in his mind.

I’ve read lots of books about stupid topics that were written by what seemed to be relatively intelligent authors. (I would have imagined that the sillier the topic, the smarter the author would have to be to convince a publisher to put out their work.) Take Preparing for Contact as an example. It is utterly stupid, but the author managed to sculpt all of that stupid into an impressively cohesive whole. Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain is a truly moronic nightmare, but the authors had clearly done a huge amount of scholarly research. Unseen Beings, Unseen Worlds lacks any traces of cohesion or intelligence. The author is an ignorant, arrogant fool of a man who has absolutely no ability to make sense. This is proof that anyone can write a book; it’s just a bunch of ridiculous ideas that popped into the head of a stupid weirdo.

2Ned Flanders… Wait, sorry, I mean Tom Dongo

Mr. Diddleyongo is of the opinion that many cases of mental illness are actually just cases of possession. He believes wholeheartedly in leprechauns. He claims that he can leave his body and travel around the universe. He often talks to spirits from different planets and dimensions. The man is a fucking imbecile.

Imbecile he may be, but stupidity isn’t a crime; the really irritating thing about Tom is the way that he talks about himself. He’s a know-it-all plonker. But, this isn’t really a book about the paranormal; it’s a book about Tom Dongo’s imagination. The ironic, and perhaps most infuriating, thing about this piece of rubbish is that the second chapter begins with the sentence; “I think I have read or am aware of just about every paranormal, esoteric, spiritual, and metaphysical book in print and many that are out of print.” The arrogance of that statement really put me in a foul mood when I read it. I would imagine that Tom’s reading was probably limited to whatever books were on the paranormal shelf in his local library.

I was going to go on and talk more trash about Tom Dongo, but after some consideration, I have concluded that he probably has some kind of mental impairment, and so it’s not really fair to make fun of him. I don’t think that a healthy, normal person would be willing to publish anything this cringe-worthy and idiotic.

3My copy is signed by the author too! Aren’t you jealous?


Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain – Sheila Ostrander & Lynn Schroeder

Laffont – 1970
I’m not going to read any more shit books for a long time. This horrendous pile of nonsense has ruined my month. ‘Look at the title though!’, I hear you say, “What did you expect, you fool?” Well, I knew it was going to be awful; I just underestimated how unbearable the nonsense would be.

This book was written in 1969/1970, and its major claim is the Russians are on the verge of several major breakthroughs in the field of parapsychology. The writing isn’t too bad; the book was clearly well researched, and there are lots of examples given, each described in detail. The main problem with reading this book is that it’s almost 50 years old, and, as far as I can tell, nothing much has come of any of its discoveries or predictions. Some old Russian lad guessed a bunch of cards; pffffft, who cares?  While not quite as nutty as Morning of the Magicians, this has a similar vibe to it, and it actually makes reference to Pauwel and Bergier’s work. While reading this one, I found myself constantly wondering if people 50 years ago were more gullible, but then I found this video (of two absolute legends), and I realized that people today are no better.

There is another book from the same authors simply titled Psychic Discoveries. I would have thought that that was just a different title for this book, but I read something online that suggests that it’s actually an earlier version. I’m not sure. They also wrote a book called Psychic Discoveries: The Iron Curtain Lifted in 1997, but hopefully I’ll never find a copy of that one.

Here’s a video of the actual authors being interviewed. The host is a dork, but the ladies seem genuine.
Sheila Ostrander’s hairstyle is the only paranormal element of the video that remains unexplained.

I could discuss specific cases from the book, but why bother? It’s all a load of shite. The only specific thing that was interesting enough to remember was the laboratory experiment that was set up to see if a clairvoyant could prevent the events they had foreseen from happening. Let me clarify how that experiment was structured:

  • The psychic would sit down and try to read the future.
  • Once they had predicted what was going to happen, they would have to think about how they could stop that event from happening.
  • The next step would be to actually stop the foreseen event from happening.
  • If the psychic managed to prevent the foreseen event, the experiment would be deemed a success.
  • That’s right; the experiment would be deemed successful if the foreseen events did not actually end up happening.
  • The only way for the experiment to fail would be for the psychic to actually be psychic.

What the fuck were you thinking, you stupid Communist bastards!

I bought this as part of a set at a library book sale a few years ago. The other books in the collection are about aliens and psychics and the like.
The physical books are really nice, and I’d love to see a complete list of all the titles published in this series. They were published by Laffont. (So far, I have only reviewed Chariots of the Gods?.)

The other big problem with Psychic Discoveries behind the Iron Curtain is that it’s 400 pages long. It was too boring to read much of in one sitting, and so I spaced it out over my bus rides to school and back. It took me about a month, but I couldn’t bare for this to eat into any of my leisure reading time. I read it because it had a gnarly title, but it wasn’t worth it. Don’t waste your time.