From: Frank Warren <frank-warren.nul> Date: Mon, 02 Feb 2004 07:27:10 -0800 Fwd Date: Mon, 02 Feb 2004 16:24:59 -0500 Subject: Hello Earthlings! Source: Tucson Citizen http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/index.php?page=living&story_id=013104d1_martians January 31, 2004 Hello Earthlings! With the space probes Opportunity and Spirit sending back images of Mars, we can't help but hope they capture a picture of a Martian peering back at us. "Where are the Martians?" You know that's what people are asking, even as they feel so scientifically correct while staring with straight faces into their computer screens, visually dissecting NASA's crisply focused digital photos of a flat, rocky plain on Mars. While all those announcer-scientists on TV explain that life on Mars - if it exists at all - will just be microbes or something, we keep hoping for more. Sure we don't expect to see Marvin the Martian, or even Uncle Martin from "My Favorite Martian." But ... something. Since late in the 19th century writers and artists and filmmakers have worked at convincing us there is life on Mars. They have described, portrayed and analyzed all sorts of more or less human-sized creatures who live on the red planet. More than a century of depictions provided so much lifelike detail it becomes downright disappointing to see the photographs, which the space probes Opportunity and Spirit keep sending back. Just like Peggy Lee, we sigh, "Is that all there is?" "We know where life is on Mars, but they don't land where life is," says gruff, straight-talking ret. U.S. Air Force Col. Wendelle Stevens, the founder of the UFO World Center and the author or co-author of more than 18 books on extensive UFO contact cases. Because of experiences he had in uniform, Stevens has dedicated his post-military life to investigating the unexplained in space. As proof Martian life does exist, he hands over printouts of Mars satellite photographs of trees, standing water, running water and gigantic wormlike shapes he has identified on Mars' surface. The original photographs come from NASA's own cameras, displayed online depicting what does, indeed, look like long-range views of trees, bushes, standing water and running water. The worm- shapes aren't that convincing, but check out all the photos yourself at Stevens' Web site www.marsanomalyresearch.com. Today's digital pictures are just the latest in a line of descriptions that began with H. G. Wells' classic novel, "The War of the Worlds," first published in 1897. Even Wells was preceded by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, who in 1877 first described "canali," properly translated as "channels," that he imagined he saw through his telescope. With the 1869 engineering triumph of the Suez Canal fresh in everyone's minds, "canali" proved there was intelligent life on Mars. It looked like people up there had been digging canals just like down here on Earth. Around that time Darwin's controversial theory of evolution was just beginning to challenge the biblical theory of creation. The Industrial Revolution was turning clever workers into wealthy capitalists, as well. Wells combined these concepts in the chilling vision that the Martians were technologically superior invaders whose strength - using science to defeat disease - became the Martian invaders' weakness - having no immune system to fight off Earth's disease. History helped "The War of the Worlds" become still more influential as the horrors of World War I were easily transposed to Wells' book and the work of early 20th century fantacists such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, who first wrote of the "green men of Mars." Why green? Historians didn't question Burroughs on that point but, ever since, green has been universally accepted as the most popular color for aliens - Martians or otherwise. Marvin the Martian actually wore a brown uniform when he first appeared onscreen. That was in Chuck Jones' "Haredevil Hare," in 1948. At that time Marvin was known only by his official name, Commander X-23, when he tangled with Bugs Bunny. Only later we learned his off-duty name was Marvin. By 1980 in "Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24 1/2 Century" Marvin was clad in Martian green. As always, his motivation was to blow up Earth using the Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator powered by Illudium Phosdex from Planet X. So far, the good guys in the Looney Tunes camp of finely drawn fellows have managed to keep Earth safe for the rest of us. Our laughter at such good-natured foolishness is only possible because we all know Martians with their superior technology are a world threat. "My Favorite Martian," both on TV in the 1960s and in the 1999 movie, is a kindlier sort, whether played by Ray Walston in the syndicated television series or by Christopher Lloyd in the movie. With the Cold War at its coldest, audiences welcomed the funny idea that Martians were more like fumbling suburbanites who couldn't get their cars fixed because they couldn't get the right parts. It was reassuring after all those tense films of the 1950s such as "Invaders from Mars," "The Angry Red Planet," "Red Planet Mars," "The Thing" and other threatening aliens like "The Blob" and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." One of the most effective of these frightening visions was the first film adaptation, in 1953, of "The War of the Worlds." "Mars is our mirror. Martians are reflections of ourselves," said Charles Scruggs, a professor in the English department at the University of Arizona. He enjoys looking for the metaphors in film and literature. At present he teaches students that films about ancient Rome, such as "Gladiator," are really films about the United States. Like the gladiator played by Russell Crowe, the U.S. treasures small town life and fears getting caught in political ploys by the high court, which would be like the United States ensnared in world politics today. Scruggs looks to "The Martian Chronicles" film, adapted from the 1951 collection of stories by Ray Bradbury, which has the Martians pretending they lead lives just like the small-town Americans who have arrived uninvited on the planet Mars. "Even then," Scruggs said, "the Martians were considered treacherous for pretending they had what was most valued in the United States - small-town life." These days Scruggs also likes the concept that Martians reflect the dark side of ourselves. "We have never been comfortable with being an imperial power," he explained, "And here we are the policeman for the world. "What people in America really want is for everyone else to stay away." So is Mars an empty and barren place whose dried out soil holds only old secrets? Or as the newest photographs from Mars keep proving to Stevens, is there life thriving on the red planet? From "The War of the Worlds" we have let the idea of Martians morph from impersonal invaders with advanced technology - much as Europe's explorers invaded the New World in the 16th century - to vicious tyrants determined to force Earthlings into submission, such as Nazi Germany. Then to secret forces using their mental powers to dominate us in the 1950s, which became so frightening it took all the silly 1960s movies such as "Mars Needs Women" and "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" to get relief. Then came kinder, gentler "ET: the Extra Terrestrial" in 1982 (not really a Martian, but, you know ...). In 1996 Tim Burton brought us the cartoonish "Mars Attacks!" but then Hollywood went back to meaner versions such as Brian De Palma's 2000 "Mission to Mars" and "Red Planet," followed in 2001 by "Ghosts of Mars" from John Carpenter. Sure it's easy to call all these portrayals of Martians "nonsense." But why does this planet more than 130 years after the scientific discovery of canali have a stronger hold on our imaginations than ever? What about the NASA photographs that seem to reveal an enormous sculpture of a human face? Are the shadows on Mars just fooling us? Haven't shadows always fooled us? If we didn't want a security blanket, would Marvin the Martian still have so many fans?
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