Sunday August 12, 2012

United Feature Syndicate

Q: Not long ago I watched the movie "Battle: Los Angeles." I was told that this film is based on a true event -- the California city was actually under attack by aliens.

This sounds far-fetched to me. What do you know about it?

M.W.M., Hazleton, Pa.

A: To say the 2011 film was based on a true event is far-fetched; saying it was inspired by a real-life incident is true. The actual Battle of Los Angeles occurred late Feb. 24, 1942, and continued into the next day.

Unidentified objects were seen flying near Los Angeles, forcing the military to open fire. The U.S. had recently entered World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Bombardment of Ellwood, a community north of Los Angeles that was attacked with gunfire by a Japanese submarine, happened the day before. Many worried that the flying objects indicated an attack by Japanese forces.

The government later called the Battle of Los Angeles incident a "false alarm," blaming the result on "war nerves." The panic was likely triggered by a lost weather balloon.

Doubters, and there are many, wonder why more than 1,440 rounds of anti-aircraft ammunition was unable to bring down a single weather balloon.

Instead, they think that the targets were extraterrestrial spacecraft.

For those with a computer, go to YouTube and enter "Battle of Los Angeles 1942" for videos about the event.


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Q: I was very young, possibly in preschool, when my folks took me to Italy for several weeks. I know I was there because they told me I was with them.

About a month ago, I started getting flashbacks of the trip. One vision I have is of men wearing colorful shirts and kerchiefs. They are carrying a platform with a very large statue, and they are running through the streets with other similar statues in pursuit.

My folks are long gone, but I would love to know more about this event. I would even consider going to witness it again.

N.L., Roanoke, Va.

A: It sounds like you are describing the Corsa dei Ceri, the Race of the Candles, held every year in Gubbio, in Northern Italy. The race has been run every year since the 12th century. Villagers carry three statues in the race: saints Ubaldo (for whom the race was started), Anthony and George.

The outcome is rigged; every year, St. Ubaldo comes in first, St. George second and St. Anthony last. The race is held on May 15.

Some historians believe the race began after an important victory in a war with neighboring cities, and Gubbio decided to celebrate the event with an annual festival.

Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA @gmail.com.