Death in the Bunker

DATELINE: Endings 

Appalling Parents of the Year?

When this documentary blurb stated, the true story, we were taken aback: you mean the hundred shows where we  have seen all the details, can be wrong!??

Death in the Bunker  really starts off by talking not about the final ten days, as they advertised, but the final twelve days. Our criticism was quickly allayed. This quickly turned into a magnificent and sharp picture of the end of the Nazi madness.

We were stunned by the rare footage, both newsreel and interviews, that we had somehow missed along the way. Later, they noted that the Soviets had forty newsreel guys shooting footage. It paid off with tons of interesting angles of the invasion of Berlin.

We were still overwhelmed by the photos of average Germans who were part of propaganda. If you looked closely, many of the bystanders looked like they were in a nightmare listening to maniacs.

Well, they were. And, absolutely staggering was the catatonic reactions from those low level functionaries who knew Magda Goebbels, Eva Braun, or even had conversations with Hitler in the final days.

The consensus was that he was a demoralized shadow, however insane. He clearly had not been replaced by a double while he escaped with space aliens, as has been postulated.

The Russians contend they have his teeth, Magda’s denture, and Joseph Goebbels’ club foot prosthetics.

To see their murder of their six children so they would not have to live in a world without Nazis is horrifying.

This turned out to be one of the most impressive documentaries on the end of the regime.

Dalmatian Jasper Stones

DATELINE: More Mysteries of History

 Signs of psychic protection?

A summer of mysterious signs at my historic home has finished with a flourish of new augurs. Over the course of the month of September, there had been such bizarre occurrences as a black butterfly hovering and settling on my white garden love-seat.

I had a visit on three consecutive days by a gold finch who showed up at the same time, same place, then never came by again.

And of course, I found white quartz stone next to my driveway where I had never seen it on a lawn that is mowed regularly. All three events have mystical connotations, interpreted differently by many cultures.

Suffice it to say: when your home was once the property of victims of the Titanic, and paranormal is the norm, you can expect more.

Today, that event arrived: home from having morning bloodwork at the lab, there in the grass next to the driveway in the same spot where the white quartz rock had rested, there were several oval white, black speckled stones.

They were not there previously. We would have seen them. Nothing more is there, and if something turns up, we will know what is afoot.

According to Internet lore, they are Dalmatian Jaspers, a rare stone that promotes calmness, stops insomnia, and helps with meditation. They are considered psychic protection.

Now they rest in my library with other stange marvels of psychic power, What will they bring? Will spirits respond? We can only wait and anticipate.

Pictured are the Dalmatian stones. One of the Titanic victims used to collect rocks around the yard: we cannot help but think these were the kind he enjoyed finding.

 

 

 

 

Dangerous Primates: Monsterous!

DATELINE: Not Man.

BigChimp

When we saw the title, our thought; the most dangerous primates are members of the Monsterquest  investigation team.

You might think the most dangerous primate on Earth is humans, but actually there are many chimpanzees here in captivity as pets. Their insane tantrums are well-documented, andMonsterquestexamines the problem of these dangerous creatures who can grow to the size of an adult male.

They can be quite unpleasant and unruly, ripping people apart ruthlessly in a fit of anger. Monsterquest  gruesomely documents this in the latest episode.

Horrific photos, seen by us for the first time, of a victim in Connecticut showed the poor woman who survived with a face transplant, no hands, and blind, from the attack.

Half the states in the US allow chimpanzees as pets. And, Florida, of course, has had over 70 sightings of wild roving chimps in the swamps. Speculation centers on released or escaped primates. Once again, Florida is the place where nature is allowed to run wild and old folks are in constant danger. Not crocs, chimps. Dr. Hogan Sherrow seems knowledgeable enough, but he’s left back in the swamps.

One chimp escaped in California, and his owners were frantic to find him as they had raised him since he was a baby: speculation was that he could not survive in the wilds because he was 42 years old.

There is not much evidence during the Monsterquest investigation, though they find just about every other wild animal in Florida. Abruptly, they switch to the Pacific and Vancouver Island where there are reports of extremely large primates. They sound exactly like Bigfoot.

Clever enough,Monsterquest experts describe the Bigfoot and never uses the word for the remainder of the show, but we felt more than a little miffed that this has evolved, yet again, into another Bigfoot episode.

You hae the usual reports of smell, hostility to campers, and the odd footprint. Yup, this is Bigfoot territory. A promising episode turns out to be old hat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hitchcock’s Lamb

DATELINE: Lamb to the Slaughter

 

Reportedly one of Hitchcock’s favorite episodes of his show Hitchcock Presents,  he directed his old friend Barbara Bel Geddes again. She had the thankless role of the loyal and unrequited love of Scottie in Vertigo.For all her dedication to taking care of him, she picks up the dregs at the end (we presume she has little enough self-respect).

In the “Lamb to the Slaughter,” she plays a pregnant woman whose callous policeman husband drops by their quaint little bungalow home to give her his notice that he has found another woman.

This biting irony was written by Raold Dahl who also gave us Willie Wonka. Not quite the factory of Funtime here.

The presumable victim entitled to be more than mousy over this last straw, we have not seen enough to draw conclusions. But, the victim is Barbara Bel Geddes, and she is nice.

However, for those looking for clues, the first few seconds of the show are telling. The pregnant woman tosses a wrapper carelessly over her shoulder, as if she were a slob at heart in her spotless little home.

We know better. She realizes in a few minutes one more piece of trash on the floor will not be noticed by the visitors she expects after she dispatches her husband with a frozen leg of lamb on the noggin.

After messing up the house like a struggle has occurred, she goes out to the local supermarket to pick up a few healthy vegetables. She puts the leg of lamb in the oven and starts cooking it.

Her sly passive-aggressive plan has colleagues of her husband investigate his odd death, though they know he plays around on a pregnant woman. They are in sympathy—and so the audience even when they see a premeditated murder.

Hitchcock has made the fetus an accomplice in the murder. It is Hitchcock’s nasty business at his most humorous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Altmanesque

DATELINE: Great Director Documentary

A biographical film on the life and work of Robert Altman uses a touchstone word, “Altmanesque,” as the word asked of all his most famous stars. Their inarticulate explanations may reveal more about the paucity of their vocabulary than about the notable filmmaker in the simply titled Altman.

He began TV work on schlock like the Whirlybirds,but learned the craft.

A man who never caved in on his principles, he was fired from movies and TV shows regularly for extending the bounds: he was thrown off Combat and Bus Stop.Those episodes look tame today, but were shockers of moral depravity back in the early 1960s.

When he confounded Jack Warner by having overlapping dialogue during an argument between two actors, he was banned from the studio. He did not play by silly rules, and today those rules look so silly that we laugh about it.

Altman had tremendous loyalty too, and often worked with the same actors. He was an actors’ director more than anything else: putting their ease of delivery at the top of movie success.

His most famous movies were twists on the usual genre, like Western film, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, or fantastic Brewster McCloud. MASH put him on the box-office straight and narrow. He went up and down, always interesting, but not until 1990 and The Player did he wake up the movie world.

His Oscar was honorary for a lifetime of achievements, but his films were variable, so different that each became the favorite of different people.

 

 

 

 

 

Jack the Tailor of Beverly Hills

 DATELINE: You Are What You Call Yourself!

 Clothes Make the Man!

Upon first coming across a one-hour documentary on a fashion store in Beverly Hills, we thought it was one of those vanity documentaries, produced by its subject. Jack Taylor was a 90-year old high fashion artist from old Hollywood days.

The film is a tad old, with Taylor gone in 2016 and his main supporter, Mike Douglas, a decade before that. Yet, we are always eager to catch up on our past misgivings.

Jack Taylor hardly needs publicity, and business is dying out as his A-list celebrity patrons pass away. He would soon follow and take an era with him. He was the man who tailored all those magnificent suits worn by Cary Grant from the 1930s till his death. Grant would order a dozen suits at time.

We wondered if there were any celebs who’d go on camera for a commercial appearance—and there were plenty of men: Mike Douglas, Hal Linden, swore by Jack Taylor. Monty Hall wore a different outfit every show on Let’s Make a Deal, all created by Taylor.

He made clothes for Elvis, Sinatra, Charles Bronson, and so many men. He was not easy either. He would tell them not to eat or put on weight. His suits were meant to show them off at their best shape. His most obstreperous client was Jackie Gleason who needed 3 sizes, because of his weight changes over weeks and months.

Taylor would tell them to eat only half the plate at the restaurant. He did not do alterations, or sew the suits. He has a 60-year tailor for that: he has worked for Taylor for sixty years. He’s in his 80s. But both lament there are no tailors any longer.

We are looking at the extinction of men’s fashion. There was no endangered species list: men’s suits and ties were dinosaurs when the political landscape changed its pants.

Clothes for men nowadays are off the rack at best, and China imports at worst. Jack Taylor knows his world of well-dressed men is fading away. He thinks the 1940s were the last gasp, but the war killed it at that point. And, the 1970s turned into a fashion death knell for men’s clothing with jeans and t-shirts as the extent of wardrobe.

We never expected to be fascinated at expensive clothes, being a recluse who never makes public appearances. However, celebrities still know a good suit is essential, but they are going to have a hard time finding anyone to replace jack Taylor.

Celtics Choke Again.

DATELINE: Once More With Feeling

Boston Celtics used to be a subject we could write about with amusement. Not now.

Since the Great Bubble Experiment of the NBA where home court is a myth, you have the Celtics not playing home games on their notorious parquet floor. It used to give them a superstitious advantage.

Nowadays, home court is somewhere in Florida where alligators await being made in a sow’s ear. The Boston Celtics have fisticuffs in the locker room, and their vaunted stars (Kemba, Smart, Brown) are proving to be lesser lights.

Long live the Celtics. The team is dead for this year. There is one word you never hear in the Boston media: choke.

 We hear the strangulation gasps for air. We hear the air leaving the bubble.

The Celtics have epitomized the concept of choking under the pressures in big games during a series against the Miami Heat.

There is no other way to describe a team that is fighting amongst itself more than against the opposing team.

You have the great Kemba Walker not exactly performing well. Maybe there is a reason why he never played in playoffs all these years. Now in the playoffs, he is choking. He does not know how to play big games, with no experience.

Marcus Smart is dumb, and his insanity now is the noose choking the team. Jaylen Brown is playing chopsticks on his piano most of the game.

Jayson Tatum, Bird in waiting, is now proving that he knows not what a dagger to the heart means.

Bird did.

So, we have a team in disarray, in stress, playing poorly when they need to be their best. Something’s gotta give, folks.

Wait till next year may mean more than the Curse of Kyrie Irving.

Nobody gives squat about the Celtics anymore.

 

 

 

 

Deadly Jellyfish

DATELINE: Hold the Monsterquest

Peanut Butter

 

Something is happening in the warmed-up oceans, especially off Japan and Australia. There has been a proliferation of jellyfish, and Monsterquest is here to alarm you.

The problem is that they also point out jellyfish breakouts in Massachusetts, Ireland, and other diverse spots across the globe in 2020. Blame it on pollution or global warming, but jellyfish proliferate in water that has less oxygen. And worse yet, they are growing bigger and bigger.

Some jellyfish are bigger than man, and they tend to clump together and can damage the water filtration systems of nuclear power plants. Their tentacles can reach dozens of feet on the bigger ones—and they are loaded with the stuff you don’t want to feel.

The deadly species are the box jellyfish, and they can kill you within three minutes:  heart attacks are their modus operandi.

Jellyfish, according to experts, do not have brains. They are transparent, but don’t be fooled, they do think and can see you. No one is sure how they do it. We know mammals that have brains and you can’t see their intelligence, so the jellyfish may be the next step in evolution.

The Monsterquest team again is sent out to do dumb things, and the experts now wear full-face protection. A sting from a non-lethal jellyfish can leave painful welts for months. Giant jellyfish are not something we want clogging the oceans or coming into beaches.

Oh, they hate desalinated water, and heavy rains will force them out into deep waters.

These guys are diving near a cyclonic storm to add to the suspense. Like most Monsterquest  teams, they seem to revel in acting like they lack brains.

This hour passed uncomfortably quickly, but this was a dynamic episode of the series.

Hey, Jude! Sherlock Holmes 1991!

DATELINE: Teenage Jude Law

When picking a random episode to view (and rev-view many years after first seeing it), we settled on Jeremy Brett’s definitive performance in Case Book of Sherlock Holmes. The episode is titled Shoshcombe Old Place.

Back then there was an attempt to film every short story faithfully. It was something they fell short of accomplishing when Brett died with about six stories left to produce.

The 1991 episode is about a stable of racehorses on an estate. Almost immediately in the opening, we were struck by a young actor, likely about 18, very pretty indeed. He wanted to be a jockey and approached the crusty middle-aged bachelor whose sister owned the estate. The horse master was cool to the young man who looked at him with more than yearning for a job.

Later, one of the caretakers went to Holmes and Watson with a distressing story of something not quite right at Shoshcombe. The sister was very ill, and strange events troubled the caretaker. Holmes chose to dig into it.

With a staccato delivery of lines that is nothing short of breathtaking and hambone, Brett manages to steal every scene he is in as he figures out the mystery.

Jude Law sealed his fame 20 years later as Dr. Watson in a series of bad movies, but here he is most amusingly in drag most of the show—and even shows some homoerotic interest in his boss. Interesting to say the least.

Our ends never know our beginnings. How fortuitous to have picked this marvelous episode for a peek.

Remembering Leonard Nimoy!

DATELINE:  Family-Based Eulogy!

  Nimoy with Quinto.

A few years after the original and amazing Mr. Spock passed away, his daughter Julie has come up with a biographical documentary about Leonard Nimoy.

Such loving family portraits are often good for the soul and avoid messy scandals and unpleasant issues. There is no mention here of Nimoy’s period of hating Mr. Spock and trying to avoid the character. Instead, we see how he comes to embrace the icon and play him even in the Zachary Quinto remakes! Nimoy steals the movie.

In such a tale of life, we were surprised at what we had forgotten: Leonard was a Bostonian who grew up near old Scollay Square, though he calls it the West End and says he was a street kid in a tough neighborhood. Well, yeah, it was the red light district of Boston for years! He never reveals that!

He went to Pasadena Playhouse at 18 and stayed in California forever after that. He did return to Boston to do a few plays in later years (Fiddler on the Roof, etc.).

The early years of struggle with dozens of guest roles on TV and working as a cab driver (where he met fellow Bostonian JFK once as a passenger), are quite fascinating.

His daughter has a criticism of her father: his two-pack a day cigarette smoking that gave him COPD. It ultimately was a death knell, though he lived until 83 years with the condition.

Fans will be delighted with how this creative and versatile artist lived and worked: he was poet, director, actor, and above all else at the end, a highly emotional family man. He joked how his ancestors were aliens to America and came to this country, but he was born in America and went to Hollywood and became an alien.

Nice little film.

 

 

 

 

 

Fatima Revisited

DATELINE: New Movie Story

 Witnesses.

With another miracle at Fatima movie now released with a devout perspective for the religious followers, there seems to be a danger of facing a buzzsaw when you take on the topic with any skepticism. Fatima again tells the story of three children who experienced some kind of paranormal visitation from a beautiful lady in the sky during World War I.

We never flinch when hacksaws come at us. A few years ago, another documentary, was produced by the multi-million-dollar organization behind the Fatima story for 50 years, came up with a semi-doc something called A Message of Hope.  It wants to be an antidote to the recent Ancient Alien view that Fatima was another UFO encounter.

The original story of three children seeing the Virgin Mary in Portugal in the middle of World War I has been never fully told. Most people think a big crowd one day saw something in the sky. It was much, much more. The sightings were regular.

Actually, the children had visions for over a year: including a bunch with a male angel who gave them a bloody host literally to eat and drink the blood of Christ.

You might dismiss this as peasant-level superstition in farm country of a backward nation. Yet, there is something absolutely weird about a beautiful woman telling coming down from the sky and telling these kids that two of them will die soon and that they will face great suffering. Today we might think this is a kind of child abuse. It is creepy at the least.

It does not come across as kindly. And, then the political forces put them into jail (not Trump cages) and threatened to boil them in oil if they did not recant. They remained firm in their testimony.

One secret the lady told them and kept by the Vatican in espionage hiding for decades was that a pope would be assassinated. Well, it did almost happen decades later to John Paul II.

Some years later, the entire experience was hijacked by the Joe McCarthy anti-communist groups who created a Blue Army to counter the Red Army. The group led by an American of dubious character made millions off the miracle. They have their own 747 jet and huge monuments. The faithful gave them plenty of loot. Their PR is among the slickest in the world.

If anything, the anti-commie segment moved the HQ to the US instead of backward Portugal. This documentary is filled with piety and well-meaning religious people who argue that it is true and a miracle. It’s easier to believe it was space aliens.

The film plays to the believers of religion, though you may have a hard time telling them apart from a visit with Erich van Daniken. The new movie corroborates the Blue Army version. We expect to be under attack for questioning this topic.

Spooky Titanic’s Northern Lights

DATELINE:  Geo-Magnetic Anomalies

Today as I sit in my home office writing these words, I can look on the Internet to find the exact latitude at which I can be located: it is 42.695652 (within a thousandth of a degree).

I will feel no difference if my position were 41.6 or 43.6. The place is an arbitrary point on a map to help find me if I am lost or unconscious. My smartphone is a beacon of that information to a world of technological marvels.

In 1912, the passengers on the Titanic likely had no idea exactly where they were when the ship hit the iceberg. Their compasses and rudimentary radio communications systems had an idea. Crew members and radio operators did send out appeals for help. Yet, for over seventy years the exact location of the wreckage was not precisely known.

Something had thrown off the numbers, or the inexactitude may be attributed to primitive technology. Today we know that the Titanic wreck is at approximately Latitude 41.72. It broke into pieces and they scattered over a ten-mile area. The ship may have hit the berg within a range somewhere between 41.5 and 42.5 latitude. We cannot be sure how much the ship drifted during its two-mile descent to the ocean floor.

I live in a house at 42.69 latitude once owned by two of the victims who died on Titanic. The ship hit the berg and sank ten miles north or south of this latitudinal location. Their home was directly west of the spot of their deaths. Directly.

New theories have emerged that solar flares and geomagnetic factors could have contributed to the sinking of the Titanic. conditions on Earth.

Mila Zinkova, a retired computer expert, explained that she discovered that more than a few witnesses reported seeing the Northern Lights around the time that Titanic made its voyage across the North Atlantic.

Usually the Aurora Borealis  can be seen above or at 55°N geomagnetic latitude. In a particularly strong geomagnetic storm, such sights can fall to the lower reading of 45 to 55°N. It seems highly unlikely that victims on the ship, fighting for their lives, in a state of shock, would be watching the sky for a beautiful display of Northern Lights. Some might regard it as a paranormal omen of doom, and others might ignore the phenomenon for the same reason.

Zinkova states: “Most people who write about Titanic, they don’t know that northern lights were seen on that night.” In fact, she goes beyond that to postulate:an ejection of charged particles from the sun may have caused the crew to make navigational adjustments that led the Titanic along a slightly different course. “Even if the compass moved only one degree, it already could have made a difference,” says Zinkova.

Besides crew member James Bisset and Officer Joseph Boxhall, at least three Titanic survivors reported seeing the aurora borealis that night. “The fact that so many people saw the aurora makes me confident that there was a space weather event happening,” concurred one scientist from England.

Oldie Noir: Killers

DATELINE: Hemingway Classic

Burt Lancaster Awaits the Grim Reapers.

 

A late 1940s film noir version of “The Killers” made author Ernest Hemingway wince. He was hypercritical of the Hollywood versions of his novels and stories.

Yet, the star vehicle for Ava Gardner and Burt Lancaster used the first twenty-minutes to tell the short story. The rest is Hollywood explanations that have nothing to do with Hemingway except to build off his message.

The original dark opening seems to tell an inexplicable tale of a gas station attendant who is hunted down by two hired gunmen. Instead of running when he is warned, he simply waits for the inevitable killing.

When asked why he won’t flee, he gives the ultimate Hemingway man’s answer. There comes a time when you stop running because it doesn’t matter in the end.

The moody and eerie tale is brilliantly directed by Robert Siodmak and were it a short subject could have been a masterpiece after the killers climb the boarding house stairs and let their bullets fly.

Young Burt Lancaster is suitably tough and handsome, as you’d want you hero, but he is antiheroic in not fighting. The rest of the movie is a pathetic attempt to flashback to his roots and how he upset the mobsters.

Quiet nighttime moments in an old-fashioned diner and the ominous sense the Swede’s friends have about the mystery visitors is all part of the philosophical insight of the author.

Many questions about the Swede are raised and there are no answers. It was always the style of Hemingway to omit key information: you fill in the blanks. Sometimes if you have enough questions, they provide an answer. The central mystery of the Swede is explained in banal terms during the remainder of the movie.

Heminway gives you suspense in the anticipation of answers, but you will be thwarted and left to your own devices to figure out the moral of the story.

 

 

And Leave the Driving to Hitch….

DATELINE:  Hitchcock’s Breakdown

 Trapped in his car!

“Breakdown” brought Joseph Cotten back together with his old friend Alfred Hitchcock for a half-hour television episode that would send chills down the spine of anyone thinking of driving down to Florida alone. It was supposed to be the first episode of the new TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents…but was held back.

Once again, Hitchcock played with his words. His breakdown could be a fancy sports car in disrepair, or a man in mental exhaustion. In the case of the show, it could be a word for all seasons.

A ruthless business tycoon (Cotten) fires people over the telephone without remorse and is shocked when one accountant begins to cry piteously. Contempt is his best reaction, finding such weakness to be beneath his attention.

Yet, when a bulldozer working with a chain gang hits his car, he is left paralyzed behind the wheel, looking to the world like a dead man. The steering wheel has crushed his chest, or so concludes every witness.

Not one takes his pulse, so convinced are they of his demise. Thus begins his voice-over thoughts as he is robbed, stripped, has his identity taken, but is able to tap his finger to alert the world of his living carcass.

It is to no avail as the shroud is put over him, and he is left in a morgue. Hitchcock pulled out all the stops of fear on this one—from dying, from being buried alive, to fear of loneliness in its ultimate form.

Augurs and omens dominate the first few moments, perhaps giving a clue or two about the fate and character of Cotton’s heartless protagonist.

Cotten must act without benefit of any movement, tic, or facial acknowledgement. He is up to the task, a monumental endeavor for an actor to act dead for a half-hour TV show.

 

 

 

 

 

 Apocalypse Earth as Frozen Popsickle

DATELINE: Doomsday Glacier

  

Now blizzards are something we can warm up to. The latest doomsday show starts off with the 1300s and the Little Ice Age, which was bad for a 100 years but lingered until almost 1900.

If the series is correct, everything from the Black Death to the French Revolution could be traced back to failed crops and angry people. And, the worst may be about to return.

It’s enough to make you want to colonize Mars where it’s cold, but there is no snow. This is another of those compilation from the lost burial ground of snow documentaries.

Smack in the middle of discussing ice ages, there is a sidebar in which climbers of a Himalayan mountain barely escape an avalanche. It is adrift from the rest of the show, under the odd heading of survivor stories. You mean there was no one who could speak to the Blizzard of ’78 and how hard it was?

Not in this oddball pastiche.

The best part of the show came in the final 30 minutes or so when glaciers and hailstorms came under discussion. Rock gouges indicate that there have been a dozen glaciers coming and going over the past million years.

One glacier may have been four times as high as the Empire State Building over New York City.

Another shocking moment was the home video of a family home in Oklahoma being decimated by softball size hail. It is terrifyijng, and this few scenes make up for the drivel also poured over the audience.

These “specials” from History are hit or miss, every other week. And they are hit and miss within their own hour or two. The final episode of the “season” will be shown next week on the topic of tsunamis, again with no particular order or progression of development.