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Aliens just phoned it in this time

Sun., Aug. 9, 2009

Today’s column will explore this question:

“Hey, what’s ailing you space aliens?”

It’s obvious to me that E.T. is off his game, and the signs are everywhere.

And by everywhere I mean 60-some miles west of Spokane, in the snoozy farming hamlet of Wilbur.

For the second time in two years, mysterious crop circles have appeared in Wilbur-area grain fields.

But unlike the intricate pattern that was discovered north of Wilbur during the summer of 2007, the crop circles that turned up south of town a couple of weeks ago were nothing to phone home about.

Consider the evidence:

The 2007 event featured nine circles of flattened wheat stalks.

(A 10th orb showed up later. It was discounted as counterfeit. Har!)

The circles were arranged in a pleasing geometric pattern that made me think of the Spirograph, that educational toy from the ’60s that only nerdy kids played with after getting it for Christmas.

This recent visitation consisted of just six boring unattached circles.

That’s a 33.3 percent drop in crop circles. Maybe the recession has reached outer space.

Whatever has happened, this extraterrestrial downsizing is a terrible blow to Wilbur.

The crop circles of 2007 were an astronomical boon to the town’s tourism industry. I, for example, drove all the way to Wilbur to gawk at the alien artistry. During my stay I pumped money into the local economy, buying things like coffee and a souvenir T-shirt.

And I wasn’t the only pilgrim to head to Wilbur. The crop circles drew UFO enthusiasts from all over the country, some wearing tinfoil hats.

Wilburians were abuzz with scientific theories about the crop circles, such as:

1. Only members of a civilization far superior to ours could have created such a wondrous design in a wheat field.

2. Bet it was a buncha drunks.

So when I saw photos of these new crop circles (thanks to a KHQ television report), I said to myself, “Aw, why bother?”

It’s quite flattering that beings from another planet are willing to traverse the vast void of space and land on our cosmic fleck of rust. Especially considering how high gas prices have gotten again.

But these space visitors should have the decency to leave behind something better than six drab rings.

If the aliens won’t put themselves out, why should we Earthlings?

Then again, I’ve always been fascinated by space.

I was glued to the TV 40 years ago when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Lightyear walked on the moon, only to leave shortly afterward without picking up their litter.

(We have the same trouble with messy visitors to High Bridge Park.)

But I’m not so smug as to believe that we humans are alone in the universe.

In fact, I’m fairly certain that strange creatures from other worlds have actually come here and are awkwardly trying to live among us and fit in.

How else do you explain the Spokane City Council?

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at


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