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BOOK REVIEW: "The Perspicacious Percipient" by John A. Keel, edited by Andy Colvin

New Saucerian Books
A collection of writings from the late John A. Keel.
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BOOK REVIEW: The Perspicacious Percipient: How to Investigate UFOs and Other Insane Urges by John A. Keel / edited by Andrew B. Colvin (New Saucerian Books) 2015

This is another New Saucerian collection of the smart, funny and insightful works of the late John A. Keel, most notable for his books The Mothman Prophecies and Operation Trojan Horse, among many others.

So, it's funny how synchronicity works. I don't claim to understand it, entirely, I just know it exists and works itself into our lives, like it or not. So, my top album is by The Afghan Whigs - In Spades.

In my review of The Afghan Whigs' recent show in Dallas, I noted opening act Har Mar Superstar. This guy is wild, and, as I noted in my review, a native of "some UFO-haunted town in Minnesota." For those who didn't get the reference, I was referring to Owatonna, Minnesota, where UFOs and aliens and Men in Black were skulking about in that weird saucer-haunted period of 1966-67. Why? Who knows. Not much going on in Owatonna, but John Keel remembered it and it is included in The Perspicacious Percipient in detail, from a 1975 article in Flying Saucers magazine.

And you know, it's a shame that Keel is no longer with us (he died in July 2009). But Keel lived a fully wild and weird life and left us all these utterly bizarre, funny and shocking stories - all reported with the manner of a skeptical newspaper reporter - that make you do double takes in your mind.

As Keel shares the story of a "Mrs. Ralph Butler" there in Owatonna, you go - huh? 

"Did you hear of anyone - especially an Air Force officer - trying to drink Jell-O? Well, that's what he did. He acted like he had never seen any before. He picked up the bowl and tried to drink it. I had to show him how to eat it with a spoon." 

The man claimed to be a Maj. Richard French, but apparently the U.S. Air Force did not have an officer asking weird questions and attempting to drink Jell-O in a Minnesota suburb back in the spooky autumn of '66. Well, it turns out Owatonna was a popular spot on the route of those late 19th century "airships" zipping across American skies before the Wright Brothers tested that first airplane at Kitty Hawk.

The writings in this 2015 Keel collection - edited by Keel pal Andrew B. Colvin - cover, roughly, the time stretching from 1967 up to 1991. 

For instance, Keel's 1969 "Open Letter to All UFO Researchers" where he warns them that the Men in Black are "hostile" and are dispatched by forces unknown  to suppress any kind of UFO eveidence that innocent people might come across, like pieces of a crashed UFO.

And with law enforcement seemingly unwilling to get involved with what Keel called a "growing situation."

As the 1970's became the 1980's, Keel repeated the historical record, noting the animal mutilations of the previous decade, noting it was a "Helter Skelter on the Range." Keel was spooked enough by the mutilation reports that he wrote, in 1988: "If the culprits are non-human, perhaps we're better off not knowing."

And while many of the stories of high weirdness, MIB's and Mothmen are staples in Keel's work, his 1990 article in the New York Fortean Society Journal, "Let Go My Fugo," is the best part of the book, talking of the WWII-era Japanese Fugo balloons - some 9,000 were sent aloft, meant to terrorize the Americans - which were loaded with bombs. Some went as far as the Dakotas and one caused problems at the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state, along the Columbia River, after getting caught in the wires at the Manhattan Project-created plutonium-processing site, causing a power failure. It was, needless to say, a bit weird, as Keel points out.

Just from this short review, I'm sure you can sense that John Keel is an eclectic character. He is - or was. Was it just an "insane urge" on Keel's part to chase winged weirdies into the night, get creepy phone calls from "ultraterrestrials" and interview red-eyed citizens gibbering about the shocking saucers that sought them out? Maybe. At least we get to read about it.

We thank Mr. Colvin for bringing his writings back to us in all of these nifty books New Saucerian has been releasing over the past few years. 

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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