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    An alternative way to explore and explain the mysteries of our world. "Published since 1985, online since 2001."

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Reality Checking—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, May 2018

The Passing of Time and the Passing of Friends

by: Brent Raynes

Sometimes, issue after issue, year after year, as I once again sit before my laptop with hands poised above the keyboard, ready to click away and share more personal thoughts, ideas and information that I feel are significant, I nonetheless oft-times get to feeling a little discouraged. I mean, I am quite passionate and sincere about the points and statements produced here, but I must admit that at times its discouraging because I'm essentially pointing out and saying the same things over and over, just finding different points, evidences, and different ways of expressing the same things.

At what point is enough enough?

One of the main things that I have hammered away at over and over again through the years are the interrelated aspects, like the connection between reported UFO close encounters and “contacts” and the paranormal/parapsychological dynamics that frequently emerge in this perplexing pool of data. I've been talking this walk for a really long time and I am reminded at this point of way back in the mid-1970s the walks and talks I had with a ufologist and experiencer in Ohio who complained one day during one of our walking chats how it seemed I couldn't talk about the UFO subject without frequent references to John Keel. But, alas, I couldn't help it. To me, Keel was an amazingly unique pioneer in this field who quickly picked up on significant patterns, potential meanings, and interrelated aspects lurking behind this complex enigma that the vast majority of the mainstream ufologists were unable to discern, much less even half try to consider. For awhile, back around the 1970s, I thought I saw a shift in ufological attitudes beginning to occur, a shift away from rigid “nuts and bolts” ETH (extraterrestrial hypothesis) that was beginning to seriously entertain and consider alternative theories and concepts. But things run in cycles and the pendulum soon swung back to the mainstream's “nuts and bolts” with MJ-12, Roswell, Area 51, Dulce, and today the nuttier “nuts and bolts” stories of a secret US space program and President Obama's alleged teleportation to Mars.

As I've been working on my third UFO book, this one to be entitled “UFOs, Monsters, Miracles and Jadoo: The Man, The Myths, and The Mysteries of John A. Keel,” it has clearly dawned upon me that if hadn't been for Keel, his thought-provoking and original research, investigations, and writings, then my interest in the UFO subject would likely have eventually extinguished itself after a few years. However, as it is, I've been obsessed with this complex and perplexing stuff for over half a century now. I'm afraid I've got a very terminal case of “sauceritis,” as some newspaper writer called it early on, and I think I owe the vast majority of it to John Keel.

I'm sure at this point that I'm in it to the bitter end.

Hopefully our readers will feel that we're making some sort of meaningful and noteworthy contributions with this magazine by presenting both mainstream and alternative sides to the full spectrum of ideas, evidences, and concepts out there (and some are truly “out there”!). Greg Little and I both felt years ago, Alternate Perceptions should touch upon as many unexplained phenomena and mysteries of life as possible. We wanted to sort of model our approach after FATE magazine which for years has given extensive coverage to a full gamut of phenomena, from UFOs, ghosts, “monsters,” Marian apparitions, near-death experiences, out-of-body travel, shamanism, ancient sacred sites, etc., etc.

I love a good mystery, and there seem to be so many to choose from!

Saturday, April 21, my family and a huge crowd of others attended an incredible memorial to a truly unique and awesome man named Ken Smith. I heard so many wonderful and funny stories about him. "Ken was always a couple of steps ahead of me," one friend remarked. "You'd say the crazy thing you're doing and he'd say, 'I've got two of those in the garage already.'" He was involved in so many things and always willing to lend a helping hand to others. In my own case, I had a strong desire to work with the pre-Columbian Peruvian whistling vessels, which I had experienced once myself in late 1999 through a lady who had lived in Peru. I had been reading up on them and wanted to order a set but only one man in the United States was making clay replicas of these unique sound instruments (great for meditation!) and he had a long, long list of people ordering them, and they were a little expensive too. One day, my daughter Chandra told me that she had spoken with Ken, who was Noelle's husband, Noelle being her belly dancing teacher, and he said that he just happened to have a set. I said something like, "A lot of people think they have one or more of these whistles, but they often are talking about ocarinas. Do you know how rare it would be that Ken would actually have a set of Peruvian whistles?" Well, next time Chandra went to join the belly dancing group, I went along to meet with Ken, and he seemed a little surprised that I was interested, and asked me what I knew about such things. Eventually he led me upstairs to a room with a small cloth covered "table" underneath a window that looked out over the lake outside, with decorative items atop of it. The table, once uncovered, was a long wooden box with a hinged lead atop of it. When Ken opened it up, there they were - a set of seven remarkable Peruvian effigy whistles! Soon we got with a group of others and started to blow them. I was in seventh heaven! At some point, I had told Ken of my desire to do talks about the whistles and let others experience them too. He immediately said, "Take them home with you and share them with others. They're meant to be shared! I haven't used them in a long time." Wow! I certainly took him up on that very, very kind offer and shared them with people across Tennessee, and even at talks in Colorado and Virginia. Ken was always interested in hearing about how the presentations went and how people reacted to them. It was always positive, I told him, and he would smile a happy and satisfied looking grin. Ken, I came to find out, played with different sounds to explore the inner landscape of ones mind. He had a huge crystal singing bowl (which he loaned me also once), a bull roarer, a huge gong, and headphones with glasses for biofeedback trips using electronic sounds and blinking lights. Ken walked many paths in his life. Quite an extraordinary individual! He was a Delta Airline pilot, he trained helicopter pilots (who he often freaked out with live tarantulas), he would go to the Burning Man events (he got the nickname of "Burningman Ken" - he loved fireworks, flame effects, anvil shots - the memorial was certainly an explosive testament to that as family and friends treated everyone assembled to Ken's toys (the police even came by wondering what was up...LOL!) A smoking WW II era looking prop plane at one point flew over and around us for a bit. Entitled "Ken Smith's Celebration of Life" it was perfectly named. Ken was born on April 23,1940 and departed this life on February 9, 2018. He is going to be missed by so many people.

Margaret Ross (Left) : Joan Raynes (Right)

We're losing too many good friends! Margaret Ross, 91, of Marietta, Ohio, just passed on April 2. She was a Tai chi instructor we met at the local Tennessee Fitness Spa some years back, when Chandra was working there. She had earned a Ph.D., M-Ed, and M.A. in counseling, and from 1967 till 1992 was the founder and director of the Marietta College Counseling Center. She loved to travel and meet people. She had traveled to every continent except the Antarctic. Somewhere down around the Amazon she had met and been smudged by a shaman, she told us after her trip (she had many), and she added that it reminded her of how we had smudged her with sage, as she had come to our Native American style sweat lodge (which we no longer have) and we had taken her to visit the incredible Pinson Mounds here in Tennessee. Margaret would come to the Spa once or twice a year, and we'd always try to meet and catch up on the latest. We're certainly going to miss her, as are so many others!

I know it seems like here lately I'm writing an awfully lot of obituary type postings, and believe me I wish it wasn't working out like that, but sadly that's how things sometimes work out in this life, and I feel that I certainly need to acknowledge and honor these good friends who I shared good moments and memories with in this life. In this particular instance, I wish to pay tribute and honor the memory of Melvin Redfern, Ph.D., a retired psychologist who lived in Chucky, Tennessee, and who passed away on Saturday, April 7th. He wrote a book entitled "UFO Witnesses and Experiencers" and was even an experiencer himself. I did an interview with him in the August 2012 issue of Alternate Perceptions. His wife Mechelle (who I interviewed in the January 2006 AP) wrote me of his passing.

Thursday, June 30, 2022