Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Latest on Karl Pflock

I got my copy of the latest Saucer Smear today, and, lo and behold, there I was, the lead story on page one, which covered my column a while back on Phil Klass and the FBI. Colour me purple and call me Grimace!

Far more important than my brief moment of ufoological glory, however, is a short note on page 6 about Karl Pflock, who has appeared in all three of my UFO-related films, and whom I consider a friend. As most within ufology know, Karl has ALS. I haven't heard from him in a while, nor has his regular "fifth" column appeared in Saucer Smear recently. Unfortunately, the news out of New Mexico isn't good as I would have hoped.

"Sadly, we learn from Karl Pflock's wife Mary that his illness has progressed to the point that he will no longer be able to contribute material to 'Smear' on a regular basis. As most of our readers know, about a year ago Karl was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The condition gets worse over a period of time and is inevitably fatal. Karl will continue to keep in touch with us and will send contributions to 'Smear' when he is able. We wish him well!..."

I can only echo Moseley's sentiment at the end.

People would be well served to wander over to the Saucer Smear website, and read some of Karl's columns in the back issues - he was always entertaining and insightful, even when you might disagree with him. He has been an important part of serious ufology, and not-so-serious ufoology, for decades now, and has made significant contributions in a number of areas, including his work on the Roswell and Aztec cases.

Here's one of my favourite "Pflock Talk" columns, from the 15 September, 2002 issue:

Pflock Ptalk
by Karl Pflock, Our Contributing Editor & Fifth Columnist

(Certain true-to-form reactions to the Supreme Commander's and my "Shockingly Close to the Truth!" prompt this reprise of "Hey, Ufrogs'. Lighten Up", from the 9/5/00 "Smear". Next time, a shockingly new and exciting column!)

Ufologists are always complaining that they "don't get no respect". They whine that the field which they say means so much to them is not taken seriously. Seems to me one of the top reasons for this is that ufologists take themselves too damn seriously!

Zealotry and self-importance plague The Field. This Leading Ufologist and that Leading Ufologist is so sure his is a Historic Mission, so certain he has The Answer to the Mystery of the Millennium that he becomes the subject matter - UFOs - personified.

Of course, every one of these Big Frogs has appropriated his own small - no, tiny - pond with a well-centered lily pad throne on which to squat. Each plops on his own royal seat, loudly and oh-so-seriously croaking and fending off any other frogs who presume to suggest they might know something about the depth of the big fella's mud puddle. Roswell puddle. Abductions puddle. Mutilations puddle. Saucer history puddle. UFO skeptic puddle. Ufological political correctness puddle. Croak! Croak! Croak!

Have you ever seen a frog that wasn't absolutely certain of his own centrality in the universe? Ever seen a frog that wasn't funny, very funny indeed, because of his own self-importance, utterly unaware of how silly he looks sprawling on and quite a bit off a semi-submerged leaf in a fetid pool with a gaggle of burbling tadpoles wiggling around him?

Look around you. Do you see all the self-important Ufrogs? Listen. Do you hear all their I-am-the-greatest croaking? The cacophony is enough to make you - and Real Science - deaf, isn't it? Listen again. Do you hear any of them laughing at themselves? This time, it's the silence that's deafening!

I've got a theory, well, a notion: If ufology never rises above the status of a tabloid semi-proto-science, one not unimportant reason will be because its practitioners - I know this is stretching the use of a perfectly good word to the breaking point - um, leading lights don't - can't - laugh at themselves.

Hey, you dim-bulbs: Lighten up. Look in the mirror. Read "Smear". See yourselves as you really are. Scary, huh? Yeah, but funny, very funny. Have a good laugh. Knock yourselves out!

There is no better antidote for what ails ufology today, both as to its internal difficulties and where it stands with the outside "straight" world than a good belly laugh at itself. Read "Smear", ufology, and be saved!

Best wishes Karl, and keep on fighting!

Paul Kimball


Old Gary said...

Pflock was presumed to be the successor to Moseley at Smear. Now it's looking doubtful and Moseley is not getting any younger.

Who'll replace Moseley to keep Smear alive?

Why not you? Seems logical to me.

Paul Kimball said...


Moi? Oh no, I don't think so. Moseley's a legend - he's irreplaceable. I think when he passes on (and may it be many years from now), Smear should probably go with him. Anyone trying to carry it on would be but a pale shadow of the original.


The Odd Emperor said...

One should never copy a master. One can only learn and apply this to their own good works.

Pflock of course hit the nail square on. Fanatics can’t laugh at themselves. That’s why they are fanatics. In fact an adroit definition of the term fanatic might be “those who cannot laugh at themselves.”

It’s a pity too because most of them are really funny people.

“Best wishes Karl, and keep on fighting!”

Hear hear!

Paul Kimball said...


Yeah, Karl hit the nail on the head - the one thing that ufology is really lacking is a sense of self-deprecating humour. I think you and I both know who is the best example of that particular malady!


The Odd Emperor said...

I know about three people who fit *that* description. The current banana is just…. the current banana. The others are just bit players with the exception of one person who’s been pulling the current banana’s strings. It’s too bad because he’s got enough problems right now without her creating new ones. The string puller has no idea how this is going to play out in the long term, she’s got a history of very-short sighted decisions and she’s fulfilling type.

More to the point; too bad about Pflock, he’s on my short list of people I want to mee, probably won’t happen now.

I want to pay a call to Moseley one of these days. Key West is a decent day’s drive from the Odd Empire; if the Mr.’s and I ever get down there I want to take him out to lunch or something. What a fascinating guy!

Paul Kimball said...


One of the nice things about making the odd film about UFOs is that you get to meet all sorts of people - good and bad. Karl definitely falls under the "good category". So do Kevin Randle, Bruce Maccabee, Barry Downing, Don Ledger, and Rob Swiatek.

I too look forward to meeting Moseley someday. It would be an excellent excuse for a trip to Key West!

Maybe I'll even stop by the Odd Empire...


The Odd Emperor said...

....Hey! You are always welcome!