Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Breaks on a Plane (and the Brainstorm)

"Judge Judy" has mystified the world by inadvertently linking with Los Angeles CBS-TV reporter Serene Branson and others of recent months in speaking on-air gibberish as a perplexed audience watched, transfixed, and we're nearly swept back to the days when Captain Mantell's UFO-chasing death was attributed to a "death ray" by journalists with a bent for the sensational and unverified.

Nonsensical broadcast speech? Might be caused by secret government microwave experiments. Maybe cell phone towers. Could be something in the drinking water. Perhaps political operatives are behind it. Anybody consider the Tea Party wielding a heretofore unknown neutron beam vocal particle larynx destabilization accelerator? Ha, I thought not.

But physicians appear to agree on the diagnosis of migraine, at least in certain instances -- and yes, migraine can evidence itself in strange ways, arriving in forms other than pounding headaches. . .as I found out myself.

One evening in recent years, as I sat comfortably in a room doing something I generally strive to do less of -- watching television -- in the upper right area of my visual field suddenly popped up what seemed a miniature TV screen. Impossible to avoid, I became instantly absorbed in this peculiar experience, apparently watching a little box thingie displaying all the colors of the spectrum, as images of nothing recognizable flashed by in a horizontal stream at a measured, almost calming pace. I was too amazed to be frightened or particularly concerned, it was just the weirdest thing I'd ever seen. The procession of vivid colors continued for perhaps a minute or two, then vanished as quickly as it had materialized.

Weeks later, having an opportunity to speak with an ophthalmologist, I happened to mention the incident, and was surprised when he instantly diagnosed "it" as an ocular migraine -- a phenomenon he had encountered with his own vision! Like most people, when I think of a migraine I assume headaches, so this was rather a revelation to me, despite bits and pieces of personal knowledge about some things medical.

I don't know whether a connection existed, but at another time on a quiet evening I suddenly experienced what sounded like the noise of jet engines mixed with the din of ringing alarm clocks and the whirring sounds of electric shavers. So intense was what appeared audible trauma inside the house that I actually froze while standing in a room, absolutely immobile as a few agonizing seconds ticked by. Truly, this was one of those "What the. . .!" times, and the experience momentarily unnerved me, but with no residua. There was nothing inside or out identifiable as the culprit. And no, it was not a case of "sleep paralysis."

I'm inclined, therefore, to more confidently grasp the migraine theory for gibberish talk than some others might be. Brains can be funny critters. Not to exclude, of course, the possibility that tiny malevolent other-dimensional freakazons disguised as earwax cause TV viewers to hear only what "they" want us to hear.

BREAKS ON A PLANE: A gaping hole rips through the fabric of a Boeing 737, but this time everybody survives, few injuries are sustained, though subdued panic showed its face. The national press goes crazy, showing the opening into nothingness over and over and over and. . .

And the interviews with oh-my-god-I-thought-I-was-going-to-die passengers and authorities explaining everything -- simply endless! Yet. . .

Yet, let an airline/UFO encounter occur, you know, some little incident where a disc or cigar-shaped whatsit approaches and even circles an airplane in flight, maybe with flashing colored lights of brilliant intensity and enough presence to throw the pilot into either a steep climb or dive in expectation of a collision while flight attendants and passengers fall out of their seats or go flying around the cabin. . .and what?

And nothing. Okay, a bit dramatic -- but not unheard of in past years, when both airline companies and the government seemed content, if not complicit, in making these little encounters go away quickly. With the fond and able assistance of the right spokespeople and a media unwilling to deal with assumed impossibilities. Besides, UFOs are considered bad for business in the flight industry. We've heard that from more than one pilot and flight controller. But, yowie! Better to spend hours on a story about somebody and their grandmother who smelled an undetermined burning odor in flight; far preferable to gape awe-stricken as departing riders tell harrowing tales of air turbulence during a storm; and the media can scarcely get enough when a drunken passenger runs naked down the aisle. UFO dangers? Sorry, just not newsworthy for more than an hour. If at all.