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Tea’s Weird Week: Good Weird, Bad Weird

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I love weird stuff, I mean that should be pretty obvious. Check out the title of this column. But what is “weird?” That’s something I’ve been thinking about lately…”good weird,” the topics I enjoy learning about, researching, talking about…and “bad weird,” for example racist conspiracy theories, scam artists, people that are disrespectful and creepy.

There’s a couple things that have pushed this to the front of my mind. One, I started a Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group. Thankfully, we haven’t had the types of problems discussed in this column, but it sure is interesting to see how other people define “weird.” It’s so great to see people think of the group to post stories they run across– weird science, food, music, art, Zillow listings, pop culture, paranormal, conspiracy, and so much more. I would define some of these stories as not weird but just straight up gross or stupidity or politics as usual, but you know what? Weird is in the eye of the beholder.

The second thing that’s got me on about this is infiltration into the fields of good weird by the forces of bad weird. Last week the Tea’s Weird Week column and podcast talked to Patch O’Furr, a furry fandom reporter who uncovered an Alt-Right furry presence (bad weird) into the furry fandom (good weird). Since the January 6 Insurrection, I’ve talked to a range of media about my conspiracy research for my book American Madness and that’s because QAnon and other dangerous conspiracy beliefs have been creeping in everywhere, not just in the MAGA hordes. They’ve popped up in places as varied as UFO and other paranormal studies, the yoga and wellness communities, church groups, and punk rock scenes.

Here’s a few examples that spring to mind, in my opinion:

Good Weird: Sharing local lore of ghost stories and urban legends around a campfire. The best!
Bad Weird: Predatory psychics who prey on the grieving, claiming they can communicate with their deceased loved ones…as long as the money keeps rolling in. Also, shows like 3 Bros and a Ghost (not the actual title) that fabricate and exploit.

Good Weird: UFO reports and case studies– check out the column I wrote a few weeks ago, about a clause for UFO disclosure slipped into the last COVID relief bill. I love stories like that. The truth is out there!
Bad weird: Racist pseudoarchaeology “ancient aliens” theories that suggest cultures like the Mayans and ancient Egyptians were too “primitive” to create their famous monuments and therefore needed help from E.T.s. “Walk Like an Egyptian” outta here with that shit! Also, in this week’s Tea’s Weird Week podcast, my guests Jess Rogge and Shane Mields agreed with me that “Reptilians” are always an immediate red flag.

Good weird: Bigfoot.
Bad weird: QAnon Bigfoot. I’ve made a lot of jokes about this (and see this week’s podcast for a comedy special on the topic), because it is painfully ridiculous. But QAnon is a dangerous, destructive cult. Just look at the Jan.6 “Q d’etat” as the most explosive example.

Good weird: True crime case studies. I’m a total sucker for true crime documentaries.
Bad Weird: That line people cross when they idolize serial killers. Good, interesting documentary, sure. New role model? Uhhh…no.

It’s something to keep in mind on your path into weird topics. There’s always been problematic areas in the weird, but I’m now certainly more cognizant of this when I’m looking at people and their ideas. Ok, cool, you’re a Bigfooter. But are you a Bigfooter Bigfooter or a QAnon Bigfooter?

What are your examples of good weird or bad weird? Share in the comments on this post!

Tea’s Weird Week episode 07: I talk more about “Good Weird, Bad Weird,” with my guest panel Jess Rogge (The Rogge Report) and Shane Mields (Strange Uncles Podcast). Me and Heidi talk about paranormal investigation ethics, And yes, the legend finally had it coming…the Comedy Roast of Zorth, featuring comedians Addie Blanchard, Matthew Filipowicz, Dana Ehrmann, Greg Bach, and…Zaarg.

Plus a new trivia question and we close out the show remembering Damien Jones, who passed away in 2018, with his band Astral/Subastral‘s live performance of “To Those in Amber.” The song was recorded in 2017 as part of the Riverwest Sessions (follow on Facebook and YouTube).
Listen here: teasweirdweek.podbean.com/e/teas-weird-week-episode-07-good-weird-bad-weird/
Or on: Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Cast

Please Clap Dept.: I had a great interview with Ryan Sprague for his Somewhere in the Skies podcast. You can watch our interview about my book American Madness and conspiracy culture below.

My latest books:
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousnessbookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Tea’s Weird Week: 2020 Review (e-book): https://www.amazon.com/Teas-Weird-Week-2020-Review-ebook/dp/B08SGL97YJ/ref=sr_1_1

Tea’s Weird Week: Countdown to UFO Disclosure

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On December 21, Congress approved a COVID relief bill. It was a monster 5,593-page piece of legislation, which lawmakers only had a few hours to peruse before voting. The most talked about part of the bill was the meager $600 sum for those unemployed and struggling to make ends meet. But the bill also included funding for vaccine distribution and COVID testing, supplemented unemployment and the Paycheck Protection Program and extended the federal eviction moratorium.

And, buried, deep within it’s pages– a 180-day deadline for UFO (or Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon, a term used to try to avoid the stigma of the little green men term “UFO”) disclosure. It’s not uncommon for members of Congress to roll out the pork barrel in a big bill like this to get government funding for local projects that benefit their constituents (or lobbyists), but who had slipped in the demand for UFO disclosure? And what might we expect to see? Fortunately, I knew just the guy to talk to– author, podcast host and UFO journalist Ryan Sprague.

Still from a Department of Defense video of UFO released in 2017.

“I never thought I’d see the day this would happen, let alone in a COVID-19 relief bill. It’s been crazy,” Ryan told me. I recently spoke to Ryan for an upcoming episode of his podcast Somewhere in the Skies (he wrote a book of the same name– both are highly recommended if you’re interested in UFOs) to talk about my book American Madness, and I used the opportunity to ask some questions of my own.

Among his other projects, Ryan writes for a fairly new site called The Debrief. It isn’t specifically a UFO site, though that is one of the subjects they cover. The Debrief “covers everything from disruptive technology to emerging science, defense, aerospace, and even UFOs so that’s kind of where I came in, I’m kind of their UFO guy on the beat, covering everything to do with that,” Ryan explains. The Debrief are the ones who first broke the COVID bill/UFO disclosure story, and their reporting was quickly picked up by other media outlets.

“The story actually traces back to the 2017 New York Times article that went viral with finding out the Pentagon had a secret UFO program and that they were investigating UFOs, primarily military witness accounts,” Ryan says. “That’s when we got those three videos, gun camera footage of these UFOs that our pilots in the skies were seeing. It was a whirlwind from there– we found out that these were official Department of Defense videos that were leaked to the public by Christopher Mellon, who is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and also a former staff director for the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

Mellon began working with the former head of that secret UFO program (officially named the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program), Luis Elizondo, to study the phenomenon. They briefed members of Congress on their findings, including Senators Marco Rubio, Mark Warner, and (then Senator) Kamala Harris.

“They said we have to do something about UFOs- you guys have to take this seriously,” Ryan says. “Along with this bill being passed it was announced maybe six months ago that the Pentagon was creating a UFO task force– that’s where this bill comes in. Whatever this task force finds, they have 180 days to give a declassified release to the public.”

Ryan was also helpful in clarifying a story where media outlets have tried to connect stories A and B, which are unrelated– headlines have proclaimed that the CIA is releasing it’s UFO files, suggesting this is part of the recent disclosure clause, however, this is old news– most of these documents have been available for a decade. A key source of being able to read these files is John Greenewald’s site The Black Vault, where Greenewald has worked tirelessly to obtain files via the Freedom of Information Act.

What results can we expect to see when this 180-day deadline arrives? Will it be something truly revelatory, or just more highly redacted dead ends?

Ryan says he’s trying to be an optimist when it comes to the UFO disclosure, “but I’m also a realist and I think this is going to be kind of a let down for the really pro-UFO people, cause honestly in my opinion I don’t think the government knows much on what they’re dealing with, I think they’re just as much in the dark as a lot of citizens. They might know a little more, but I think they are just as mystified as we are as to what pilots are seeing and what people are reporting.”

Ryan also says he got discouraging words when he recently tried talking about the deadline to a Pentagon spokesperson.

“I asked, ‘what are we going to get from this thing? Anything?’ And the answer I got was ‘it’s all going to be classified.’ So I’m not holding out much hope that we’re going to get much out of it in terms of smoking gun information like what crashed in Roswell or are there 20 alien races living among us on earth,” Ryan laughs. But he adds “we might get some interesting cases of drones or more cases of military pilots who saw something they couldn’t explain. Who knows we have a whole new administration in the white house who are a lot more open to this topic, so maybe we’ll get more than we ever got, but I’m remaining hesitant and skeptical until it actually happens.”

Check out Ryan’s site for links to his book, podcast, case files, and more at: www.somewhereintheskies.com and follow The Debrief, as they’ll be on the frontline of this story at thedebrief.org.

Tea’s Weird Week episode 03: Hear my full interview with Ryan Sprague about the UFO disclosure story. Then Me and Heidi share weird news: “My Way” killings, monkey labor problems, a proposed Bigfoot hunting season, hubby’s dream numbers win big, our robot overlord Sophia, a scream hotline, and special guest Mandy Cappleman sings a song from 1652 that’s a total gas. 

Plus trivia, a QAnon vs Flat Earthers poll, and we close out with the track “Algorithm Nation 1814” by Guerilla Ghost featuring the master MC of weirdness Kool Keith.

Listen right here: https://teasweirdweek.podbean.com/e/teas-weird-week-episode-03-countdown-to-ufo-disclosure/

Buy my books:
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousnessbookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Tea’s Weird Week: 2020 Review (e-book): https://www.amazon.com/Teas-Weird-Week-2020-Review-ebook/dp/B08SGL97YJ/ref=sr_1_1