Dalton Delan | The Unspin Room: Unidentified hot-air phenomena
Busted! You got me. Remember the cool helium-filled metallic balloons I was prepping in the yard for the graduation party? They slipped the knot and flew.
I’d been wondering how far afield they might have gotten. According to a conspiracy theory-fomenting report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence last month, there were 18 cases of objects — don’t call them UFOs, they are now Unexplained Aerial Phenomena, or UAPs — which “appeared to remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly or move at considerable speed without discernible means of propulsion.” Ever try to fly a kite, director?
I got to thinking. And whenever I do, I tend to worry. I only lost about six of those inexplicable balloons. What about the other dozen UAPs? What if Martians — not “My Favorite” ones, either — are checking us out? Won’t be pretty. I mean, let’s fess up, proud as we are of the nation we wrested from the Indians and the buffalo, with an assist from the slave trade, it ain’t all hunky-dory in the land of the free these days. At least, not until Britney Spears shakes loose from her big daddy’s conservatorship.
So, just speculating here, if China is too busy celebrating a century of Maoism over Taoism and their Hong Kongtail of shaken-not-stirred suppression of the press, and Russia is pumping out its hundred-proof firehose of digital chicanery from behind a dark-web curtain, then what the heck is really up there troubling Navy pilots and the highly secretive Pentagon task force? What could possess us to divert attention from hypersonic improvements in drone death-from-above to get down with UAPs? I mean, our whiz-kids in military intelligence wouldn’t assume this poor mission just to one-up Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson as they hustle tickets to the stratosphere — or would they? Takes our minds off Afghanistan and that pesky little pullout. With Turks holding the airport, Erdogan will always have somewhere to go.
I’ve been around the globe a few times, I can tell you, so if you believe I’m falling for all that aliennuendo you got another thing coming. The more I’ve pondered it, after bingeing “Stranger Things” on Netflix, and maybe a tad too much coffee-and-brandy to cap off the evening — those aren’t jitters, friend, just a minor tremblor — the more I’m convinced there are surprisingly terrestrial explanations at work. Surely any one of the following could be misinterpreted as interstellar — or at least interstate — effluence of our affluence.
Take Joe Manchin on a Hill above the hollers, celebrating 15 minutes of fame as he frustrates real Dems’ agendas, seeking a last vestige of bipartisanship. He appears oblivious to the old news that we are living in McConnelland, and any aisle-crossing floated out with the last ferry bearing John McCain across the River Styx with stones. Why, I believe I see Joe Manchin now, hovering ‘round my basement window like some Son of Flubber. Is hot air propelling him, or merely dreams of reelection in a red state? Tonight’s fight card: Joe-on-Joe.
Let’s put in a vote for Bill Gates. I mean, for a smart guy — though I know, from personal experience, he quaffs enough Diet Coke to launch him past the troposphere — all that hobnobbing with Jeffrey Epstein and losing both marital status and Warren Buffett from his Foundation board must pinch the toes. Did Mr. Microsoftee just plummet on Dr. Strangelove’s rocket?
Then there’s the latest Fast & Furious franchise release “F9” in the theatres, defying the laws of physics, gravity, script and box office, featuring fan-favorite Han Lue miraculously returning from the dead after a fiery crash a few movies ago. Nine lives, brother. Lift off your seat watching Vin Diesel’s octane-defying feats. And if souped-up infernal combustion machines could actually do all that stuff, would we really shift our wheels to Teslas for the Joneses and Prius envy for the rest of us keeping up? Back to the movies and back to the future. Maybe a few of these UAPs are left over from previous Fast & Furious stunts that went awry. Hey, Hollyweird!
Among the contenders clogging up the airwaves reaching alien ears, can anyone explain the appeal of Netflix’s “Tiger King?” I mean really? Or commercials with extreme closeups of stuffed-crust pizza — there ain’t enough cheese on top, let’s amp up the artery-clog to a Spinal Tap 11. And lost in space are radio signals rocking Starship’s “We Built This City,” which even its once-hip co-singer Grace Slick labeled “the worst song ever.” Surely such detritus of civilization takes up acreage in our galactic septic field.
I could go on. You get the point. Save taxpayer money, wizards of the Pentagon. If you really want to secure the nation from unexplained phenomena, look to your own budget.
Dalton Delan can be followed on Twitter @UnspinRoom. He has won Emmy, Peabody and duPont-Columbia awards for his work as a television producer.