Memory: Origins of Alien

DATELINE: Tummy Ache?

Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alienis given a high-end historical study in a well-intended and intellectual documentary. Director Alexandre O Philippe already impressed us with his film on Hitchcock’s shower scene! He likes to put all the attention on a key moment in film history: and he does it again here.

Instead of focus on its ground-breaking style and anti-thesis to the cute aliens of Spielberg, the Alien movie (and its sequels) put an emphasis on ancient cultures, long extinct with parasitic wasp creatures at the top of the food chain.

Originally meant to be called Memory by its author, and then Space Beast, it was based on a 1951 comic book that had a sailor digest some seed from space and have an octopus emerge from his gut. The film could have been a low-budget Roger Corman horror, but he insisted it deserved better.

Today the cast (Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, et al, look like all-stars, but they were actually well known second bananas. John Hurt catapulted to fame as the guy with the stomach distress. Indeed, the documentary was despised by studios. Writer Dan O’Bannon stayed the course until he found Ridley Scott who shared his vision.

You have considerable high-falutin’ talk of Greek roots and its blue-collar, well-lived in spaceship that went against the neat and sparkling Star Trekstyle.

You had aliens that did not do mind control, but planted seeds in your body for eruption. The film slowly moved like Kubrick’s Space Odyssey until the monster emerged in a slime and blood dinner table scene. It was the nexus of all the newly emerged Ancient Aliens gone wrong theories.

We are partial to these analyses of classic films with interviews from the archives and seeing our actors now aged in the wood. If you take your sci-fi seriously, this new documentary will re-invigorate the franchise and the ideas behind Alien.

 

Cold Warrior Spy: Richard Burton

DATELINE: Don’t Make’em Like This Anymore

 Dazzling Burton!

The extraordinary 1965 film of John le Carré’s classic,The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, has been listed on Prime as an action thriller. Of course, it is neither. It is a bleak, sober, cold and dreary film about moral turpitude among the espionage community.

John le Carré himself was an agent of MI-6 who turned into a novelist.

This was a seminal Richard Burton performance: and no one ever, even today, can convey the dissipation and ennui as he can. To watch him staggering around (as a double agent) in rainstorms and walking around bleak streets, avoiding a tail is in itself remarkable. We even see him in a Volkswagen, as an M-6 agent pretending to defect to the East.

George Smiley, the most famous of all the LeCarre agents, is here in the form of an unimpressive figure (actor Rupert Davies) working for Control. We believe it is the first Smiley appearance in a movie, as he later became known for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spyin several movie incarnations (Alec Guinness and Gary Oldman, notably). Here he is a plot key, but mostly as a spoken name.

Claire Bloom is the female lead. It was one of the few movies that Elizabeth Taylor simply could not play with her then husband. She would not make a convincing demure librarian—and had to pass on the role when director Martin Ritt put his foot down and said, “NO!”  Bloom is perfect. Burton was peeved and Taylor hung around the set causing mischief.

Oskar Werner has the other smallish but central part as the nemesis to the British secret agent. He is the elusive and dangerous East German spy that has hamstrung MI-6—and must be discredited to the Soviets.

That’s Burton’s job: not glamourous or exciting, but could mean his life is up for Cold War grabs.

Climax is at the Berlin Wall where double-crossing takes on a double meaning.

 

Burton’s angry speech near the end is worth the entire film.

 

 

Coronavirus or COVID-19: Return of Black Death?

DATELINE: Past is Prologue

 Resurrected London Victims!

To try to gain a perspective on the historical viral earthquakes in society, we went back to a 2014 British documentary called Return of the Black Death.

It gave us a non-comforting and chilling perspective on what is happening today. The archaeologists and virologists involved in this little one-hour film made it clear that the Black Death was no fluke: we can have another plague at any time. Viral decimation is more than ever a possibility, owing to our worldly incompetence.

And, in case you were unaware, the exact DNA of the original plague of 1349 is doing quite well in Africa right now. It’s in the rats and their fleas.

When excavating in London for a new subway five years ago, they encountered an old cemetery from the days of the Black Death. It was uncovered and a dozen or more bodies were disinterred to give some answers about what happened. Believe it or not, they really don’t know because records and medical info was not exactly scientific in those days.

The news is that 60% of Londoners died within 9 months. The Black Death came swiftly from Europe in November and stayed until summer. Since people were already ravaged from bad famines and poor nutrition, they were sitting ducks for the plague.

Burials were key: through funerary rites and procedures, the survivors took comfort. Bodies were laid out, stacked like lasagna (their metaphor in the doc), but the care for the dead buoyed spirits of the living.

These viral horrors can do devastation for the unprepared: but isolation helped in 1349—and it may today, but this could be far worse, owing to jet travel, viral passengers on everything and everyone. It could end up being an annual horror story.

Will 60% of us die? With inept leaders and shoddy politics at the cutting edge, we may be looking at a Black Plague that is more genocidal than anything Hitler devised.

TB 12’s New Abode

DATELINE: Home Sweet Home!

 Cottage On Bay.

Tom Brady has moved to Tampa Bay. TB to TB.

Brady is renting a mansion that belongs to Derek Jeter and has 9 bathrooms. We aren’t sure how many roommates Brady is taking in. Alex Guerrero, his business partner, may be among the freeloaders.

The price is a tad pricey: $70,000 per month. It is about 30,000 square feet, including a billiard parlor. The house had to be renovated with a higher security gate, which required town permission.

Davis Islands is a resort of sorts, that is sprawling.

Some wonder why Brady chose TB. We have learned that Tampa’s neighborhood is actually one hotbed of Trump support. Yes, there is a political angle to the Brady neighborhood.

As an old fan of MAGA (he has a red hat), Trump’s former golf partner may have selected this Jeter house because it is six miles from the Bucs stadium—but even closer to Trump RE-election headquarters.

We aren’t sure how many Trump fund-raisers will be held on Brady’s rental house, but he certainly has plenty of room for all his fellow Republicans to come by for a visit.

We understand the house comes with several Ring security cameras at the front door and facing the oceanfront where canoes may start sailing past with cameras at the ready.

 

 

Skinhead or Skinwalker Ranch Dressing

DATELINE:  More Lulus from History

 Desolate, but more?

Just call this one, “Spookyworld.”

The Secret of Skinwalker Ranchis supposed to be the gold standard of paranormal, or at least the vortex to another dimension. And, even if you never heard of it, it’s about to be the next big paranormal, supernatural, UFO twister.

Perennial mystery astrophysicist, Dr. Travis Taylor is brought on board by the usual cadre of tough guy male platoon. Arrogant billionaire Brandon Fugal (are there any other kind?) has spared little expense and travels in fast sporty car to a supersonic helicopter where his brother is the chauffeur. You may become a little unsettled when the pilot needs to say a prayer because he fears for his safety.

On ground, Skinwalker Ranch (named after the 200-year old legendary shapeshifter whose skin changes), the desolate location has been spared no expense with cameras, security, automatic rifle toting guards, barbed wire, state-of-the-art command centers, and so forth.

Considerable resources have been dropped onto the Utah property—and there must be some reason to throw such money around that usually the purview of black budget Pentagon types.

History Channel has done so many specials on this lately, we feel like it is a rerun.

The oldest, abandoned homesteads are known for the most peculiar, paranormal, UFO-centered phenomena. Travis Taylor is ready to dive in, though we are never sure why he is invited, except to be a TV host. His scientific methods could be handled by several people already on site.

When Taylor discovers that there are dangerous levels of microwaves floating about, he proposes doing a few experiments to map out the conditions and uncover the cause. One of the hard-nosed, non-scientific types, states there can be no digging on the ranch. It causes unspoken dangers.

Taylor seems miffed rightfully that stuff has not been revealed to him—and only with permission of billionaire Brandon Fugal can he be told why they cannot dig anywhere. This mystery sets the table for future episodes.

One of the ranch managers ignored this advice and had some nearly lethal skull damage that doctors could not explain. Travis does learn that radioactivity from nuclear testing in the 1950s might be a contributing factor.

It seems a big deal to digest when research methods are circumvented.

Ring-a-Ding on Oak Island

DATELINE: Empty Shaft

Rick Lagina compares their efforts to Winston Churchill’s “blood, sweat and tears,” as we draw to a close. Brit Gary Drayton is more akin to another ring-a-ding moment, as we find the season running out in Nova Scotia, and nary an Ark of the Covenant to be seen.

With the winter coming inevitably, they have now the biggest shaft ever.

The two who have found so much over the past few years, Gary Drayton and Rick Lagina come together for one last search of the swamp. These two are quite lucky in tandem: and there appears to be one last bit of luck in those metal detectors.

They find an elaborate ring, highly embossed, but without jewels. It has a flower or sunburst with some silver. One expert places it at pre-1730. They bring in a gemologist named Lewton-Brain. He finds two repairs to enlarge it. It is Spanish and likely belonged to a woman.

They also find part of a metal shield that was buried over 100 feet in 1936. Below this is likely original shaft.

Also coming out is large bit of human bone—and barrel casings! Something is so close that you know you will have to survive the coronavirus to see what occurs next season.

The bone is large and likely human. Why is a large human bone buried over 115 feet below the surface?

They even find a keg part. Yet, they hit bedrock and nothing. Yet again. They suspect it “shifted” through earth tremors or whatever. They once again are more ready to step back to think. They need to go back to Dan Blankenship’s office in his house (left to his daughter, now resident).

Next season looks like another fresh start to find Money Pit (if it isn’t simply a legend).

There is more talk now of history, not of treasure. These set-backs are bringing us to despair.

Shopping for Food in the New Age

DATELINE: Shopping as the Microbe Hunter!

 Deadly bug lurking in supermarket!

After weeks of being hunkered down with food deliveries from hapless UPS and Fed-ex drivers, we decided to brave the new world and go to the local supermarket chain during Senior Hour.

Yes, for three days a week, they have set aside one hour in the pre-dawn darkness for the old vampires to go out and do their shopping. Apparently, the belief among CDC fanatics is that people under 60 won’t be up yet.

No one checked ID cards on the way in—and we suspected a few of the spry ones were under 60.

Marketers are apparently correct. We went out in the dark, and were shocked to see the parking lot full. Not auspicious for recluses who want to avoid people. However, we were delighted to find that shelves were stocked with our favorite junk foods and comfort snacks. We passed on those, and they tend to take years off at one end of the scale.

We grabbed a couple of disinfectant wipes to use to open freezer doors to find the necessities to keep us away from this place for two or three weeks. Welcome to a new cultural phenomenon.

As we traversed the aisles, only one person wore a mask, and nary an oldster blinked. He wasn’t there to rob the joint, only looking for bargains.

We must say that we have not seen so many seniors gathered in one spot since they discontinued Bingo Night at the nursing home.

We wondered how many of these old folks were as terrified as we: worried that some unknown microbe was ready to leap into our nostril and kill us within days. Thanks, corona corona believers who say that it’s the fake flu. Oh, they tell me Trump’s ratings are improving—because lies are always sweeter than the truth, and old bears are never stung until election day.

UnXplained Takes on Weather

 DATELINE: Weather or Not?

 St.Louis Dowsing Rod

Everyone talks about the weather, but only William Shatner is doing something about it.

William Shatner is one of those who talks about the weather on this week’s episode—and he does so as host of UnXplained. He is joined in this fascinating episode with a dozen of the usual suspects you cite as experts on Ancient Aliens. They apparently are on the payroll or on call.

So we take on a few divine interventions: as science is lost to explain what’s happening. Most of our scientists, Drs. Kaku, Taylor, Dennis, Bara, et al, know that they are at a loss.

We first look at the Oz feature of the twister. These monsters are growing annually, bigger and stronger, apocalyptic and weird. One example in Louisiana shows how one house is completely spared—and everything else is flattened. Miracle?

There is also a grand discussion of mysterious ball lighting, including some rare videos captured on smartphones in recent years. This stuff even enters you house. We learn that glass windows are actually conductors of electricity, and that’s why grandma said to stay away from the windows during a thunderstorm.

Another oddity is the “blood rain” of India, a red monsoon that falls for months and is as crimson of as your Type O hemoglobin. It could be spores from meteors—life from another planet coming to Earth!

Perhaps the most amusing segment in this show is on frogs and fish raining down, with most scientists dismissing the waterspout theory. It may be a vortex yanking them up from the ocean.

Of course, the piece de resistancein the show is finding out that the St. Louis Arch Gateway was designed by a man who worked for the CIA and may have used the Arch as an under-your-nose weather control experiment. It seems electro-magnetic powers may have an effect on lighting and thunderstorms.

By the way, the show didn’t mention Trump’s hare-brained plan to drop atomic bombs into hurricanes to break them up.

Control the weather? It’s a weaponized idea whose time is almost here.

 

 

Ancient Aliens: One Big Commercial

DATELINE: A Barrel of Lunacy?

 Ubiquitous Travis.

We know that History Channel is utterly shameless in its promotion of other series on the channel. This week another show from the producers of the Oak Island treasure show will start their examination of Skinwalker Ranch.

So, of course, Ancient Aliens cannot let the opportunity pass without horning in on the sensation.

So, we have yet another hour-long commercial announcement for a new series from the producers of the Cure of Oak Island, and lo and behold, that old History Channel staple, Dr. Travis Taylor will be host.

UFOs. Weird creatures. Poisonous ground. “Disneyland of the Paranormal,” according to Giorgio. Skinwalker Ranch is named after an indigenous shaman who was Navajo. The natives were driven out in the 1860s by the U.S. military. Yep, we are talking about an evil force in the world. Not exactly the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Heavily armed guards take care of the property. It sounds like Area 52.

Of course, Skinwalkers are tricksters too. They shapeshift into something else or even invisible and interdimensional. There is rock art in the canyons to show creatures from another world. Many drawings show them coming out of vortexes.

It’s also known as UFO Alley, so we have here a smorgasbord of paranormal treats. Fireballs fly overhead. There are 100s of reports.

Others have seen a Dire Wolf, which has been extinct for 10,000 years, likely meaning time and space is traversed.

Another weird billionaire, Robert Bigelow, bought the place to support his ET searching efforts. He put surveillance everywhere, including security. He won’t reveal his findings.

Ancient Alienstheorizes that there are rips in the fabric of space, allowing odd and dangerous things to enter.

Are there underground space portal bases? Bigelow bailed for unknown reasons. Well, everything is there except the kitchen sink, but maybe the new series will show us that.

 

 

Pandemic & Titanic

 DATELINE: History Repeats

Sizes of disaster!

Our lectures at a local college on Titanic are sunk with the coronavirus.

We have had to cancel several college presentations we planned to deliver on the anniversary of the infamous Titanic disaster in mid-April. It now appears another, even worse disaster is in the making.

The Pandemic of coronavirus and the Titanic of nautical history share many similarities. I might have noted these if my lectures were going to be held, but it seems I am lucky to find an escape hatch in this life, far from the crowds with social distance.

My books on Titanic include studies of one local Massachusetts family, whose wealth did not save them. As lore presented, men stayed on board and went down with the ship.

Our ship of state has hit a tiny virus who has left bits of fever and respiratory arrest on our decks.

Perhaps women are not spared from the virus, guaranteed a precious seat on the escape boat, as their casualty numbers are equal to their counterparts. However, in one way, the two disasters share victims:  the old and the poor were the most likely to die.

The third-class passengers did not have the luxury of paying for ventilators—or do we mean lifeboats? Even rich women and their pet dogs could escape where those below deck and uninsured found a sorry end.

It was ineptness and lack of preparation that doomed Titanic, and we have no tests available and massive denial that our economy could sink so quickly. Like Titanic, we have been the victims of hubris: the belief that we are invincible.

How else can you explain ignoring the warning signs and dancing in the ballroom, or cavorting on a Miami beach?  There was no inoculation for stupidity in 1912, and there is still nothing available to treat stupidity in 2020.

Titanic hit an iceberg, and a microbe has hit us. The damage does not depend on the size of your nemesis.

In its own way, Titanic is a microcosm of our pandemic. One took a small sample size to their graves, and this world- wide disaster may take millions. We can only compare it to the grandiose Bubonic disaster of the 1300s, but that’s another comparison for another day without comfort.

Dr. William Russo is author of Titanic’s Forgotten Movie, Tales of a Titanic Family, and Spooky Geology and Titanic. All are available for housebound victims of virus and those undergoing social distance.

  Last Mohican of 1936

DATELINE: Shut In Special 

Hawkeye & Faithful Companions!

Sometimes you need to go back to an early version of a classic to see it done properly with all due reverence. So it is with the James Fennimore Cooper story of survival in wilderness.

Randolph Scott is the stalwart Hawkeye, and he is the epitome of an American frontiersman who has taken up with a few natives outside the parameters of primitive New York society. Tune in to Prime to watch Last of the Mohicans.

If you are an English major purist, the movie plays weird games with the novel: reversing the names of the Munro sisters: one blonde and angelic, the other darker and more passionate. In an effort to make the interracial angle heightened (savages attracted to the epitome of pale white women), Alice is now Cora. The blonde is now Cora, not Alice, and clearly the two competing native Americans are interested.

The bad Indian is Magua, a Huron pretending to be a Mohawk of peaceful nature. He is a warlike spy in the midst of the stupid British. It is interesting that the British military heroes are not exactly favored by Hawkeye, the early Americans, or the hostile natives. Of course, that was Cooper’s view too.

Magua is played by a white man from King Kong. Yes, Bruce Cabot strips down and shaves his head in a performance to play a blue-eyed Magua. He is sinister, and he is a great foil to Randolph Scott.

A couple of unknown actors play the noble friends of Hawkwye, the young and handsome Uncas, a man of honor and his father Chingachgook who will end up with the title role.

It’s hard to realize the film is almost 90 years old now and has with it a sense of black and white historical flavor. It is entertaining in its chase scenes and amusing in its racial miscastings. That aside, you still have a well-intended classic of a high order.

When you are shut in and in social distance mode, these old chestnuts are worth savoring.

 

 

 

 

Blue Book Ends 2ndSeason

DATELINE: To be or not to be…

 It’s Cold out There.

The end of the History Channel non-truth in advertising series may be at hand. Project Blue Book, which has gone off the deep end, goes the distance in the final show of the 2ndseason by dealing with USOs and the Antarctica connection.

Once again, in 1953, Senator John F. Kennedy seems to wield more power than a junior senator might—and he is now giving orders to Project Blue Book personnel, sending Dr. Hyneck and Captain Quinn off to a North Atlantic goose chase.

We have to tie together all the loose ends to make a genuine cliff-hanger and to let the actors all know that, if the series returns, they will be part of it. We suspect all of this is as doubtful as the basis on truth in the episodes this season.

You have paranoiac admirals running military exercises and dumbfounded that such an idea as UFOs is in their crew.

You have the blonde Russian agent asking to see Dr. Hyneck’s wife to renew their lesbian association, in front of the generals yet.

And, of course, we have Hyneck now ready to prevent World War III single-handed when his colleague Mike Malarkey steals a submersible and goes diving to find the glory of underwater space city.

The show ends fittingly with the hint that Captain Quinn has merely been abducted and kidnapped to Antarctica where he no doubt will meet up with the cast of Ancient Aliens and a few Nazis.

Whether this show returns next year is doubtful more than any of this non-compelling story lines.

 

 

 

Oak Island 7:18: End is Near (sort of)

DATELINE: Last Drill of the Year

 Laird Nivens & Marty Lagina.

It almost sounds like Bible verse. We are up to and surpassing season 7 and episode 18, where there is now a connection between the swamp and the Money Pit. Was there any doubt? You never known on Curse of Oak Island.

Now, is there any proof?

Dr. Ian Spooner brought another colleague to the swamp, where they agreed that the mercury present is odd and not natural. They are of the mind that the swamp was used as a blue clay mine. Three hundred years ago some workers, pre-Mayflower, were seeking blue clay, which has a density and even religious significance in some societies.

The largest drills so far are arriving from ROC excavators to do a final month of burrowing into the Money Pit. No expense is being spared, but will they also endanger themselves? We wouldn’t be surprised as the obsession seems to be growing as fast as the budget for the series.

You know common sense has gone when Rick Lagina takes a sip of brackish water to determine if it is salty in the swamp.

The other new evidence is at the ruins of the home of Samuel Ball, the former slave who became the richest man in Nova Scotia in the early 1800s. Speculation that he found treasure has centered on him for decades, and now ground penetrating radar finds walls and chambers under his former home. But permits are needed for excavation: which means next year.

Dan Henskee and Dave Blankenship push the honorary button to dig into the Money Pit with new heavy-duty equipment. How much can be retrieved before the season ends is the question. After all, you can see the heavier coats on the searchers. We are coming to the end of another year of endless clues and constant teasings.

 

 

 

Trump’s World View: It’s Over for You!

DATELINE: Go forth, and die.

 Your Trumpmeister

It’s now becoming clear that President Trump thinks when your time is up, you are done for. He wants to resume “normal” life, even if it means genocide to large groups of people. Trump is now wearing the robes of the Grim Reaper.

It’s one way to boost the economy: only the strong will survive. It’s Nietzche, Malthus, and madness, all wrapped in one genetic formula. If you are old, poor, disabled, you should die and have done with it.

You are holding up the rest of the human race.

Let the dead bury the dead.

“We who are about to die salute you, who will live.”

Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow, coronavirus will kill you.

Life is for living, and death is for dying.

If this means that half the world buries the other half, Trump is betting your life that he will be among the survivors.

Throw out those old-fashioned notions of science and humanity, your duty is to die if you are among the weakest links in the chain of life. At least, that is the Trump viewpoint.

No respirators for you. No medicine for you. Go about your business until you drop. Those who are meant to live will carry on. You weaklings will fall by the wayside and end your miserable drag on society.

Trump wants a leaner, meaner society: only those who can cough it up and continue.

So long, grandma and gramps, your time is up. You lived your life—and the partygoeers on the beach will not give you much thought after you go. As Trump will tell you, the cure is worse than the sickness.

The disease is over, but the patient died.

UnXplained & Cults

DATELINE: Joining a Cult?

 Kookoo Bird Applewhite

 

Shatner’s compelling series was downright sickening this week on UnXplained.

We were eager to hear what this intriguing series might come up with here: oh, the usual ones like Heaven’s Gate and Jonestown. But we were hoping the latest dangerous cult of coronavirus killers, the Trumpists.

Yes, he meets the criteria for a madhouse cult, friends, leading society members into sure self-destruction. Alas, as a Never-Trumper, we have again been disappointed.

The show takes on a few we were unaware of, like the weird cult that women allowed themselves to be branded in the age of MeTooism. Truly fighting the trend, we presume.

It seems, from the historical background, that cults were not always considered bad, but often were a productive part of ancient societies, usually religious orders, looking for heaven. No, not asteroids that might be abandoned spaceships.

One infamous self-help guru was James Arthur Ray, using his name not to be confused with James Earl Ray, the assassin of MLK. They are all cut from the same cloth.

Today’s cults seem to attract people whose lives lack meaning—and they want to be among the elite who have the secret answer. Tribal indoctrination seems to be the key, according to the show—and it is the intangible but powerful thing called charisma that seems to exude from the cult leader.

Whether it is Charles Manson, Marshall Applewhite, or some weird woman from Brazil, these cults take people with strong social needs and give them a belonging. Shatner is amusing in questioning his own audience for their beliefs. The worry is how far the cult will go under direction of their leader.

More than any other episode, this one was the most unpleasant and uncomfortable—showing us satanic killers who target innocent children, but all of them from Jim Jones and others have ordered death to innocence. Politics and hate are the latest motives for cults.