Any Cost for the Race to Victory

DATELINE: World War II & Big Three

Leave it to History Channel to bait and switch its viewers yet again.

It seems after weeks of calling Race to Victory  a three-part series, it now appears it is multi-part series. Worse yet, History Channel simply tagged on the nextepisode after the third (now penultimate episode). But, wait, there’s even more!

Events superseded individuals in the first two episodes, but we wanted to see more about the interpersonal and psychological ties between the Big Three. This is a glaring omission in an otherwise excellent series. Now it appears this may be coming in the unknown fourth and fifth episode of the show.

We still have no idea what the “race to victory” of the title means. No explanation seems to have been offered, and self-evident strikes us as ridiculous.

 

This is still fascinating stuff: starting with Germany trying to break up the new alliance of Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt, by revealing mass graves of Stalin’s victims. It didn’t work because the Allies needed the lesser of the two evils.

The first meeting of the Big Three didn’t happen because Roosevelt was too sick to travel to Asia where Churchill and Stalin actually became friendly. Stalin wanted aid to Leningrad, but Churchill was set on fighting in Africa to protect the Suez Canal.

 

The States were also preparing to take on the Pacific campaign to regain Midway. Both Brits and Americans were breaking Axis codes—and that was the real turning point, but it didn’t hurt to have General Patton show up to give the Nazis a headache.

There are likely many tidbits in this series that only diehard buffs of World War II will know. For the rest of us, this is illuminating and intriguing.

 

 

 

Claire Denis: High Life Tumbles

DATELINE: Pattinson Finds His Spacesuit! 

 Rocket Man, Not !

The latest film by auteur and brilliant director Claire Denis is not her best, but it is original, bizarre, and will find admirers among the critical set. High Life sets a tone and standard for sci-fi that seems sci-unfit.

However, High Life is more original than your sci-fi audience may want. This is not on the level of Kubrick tackling the topic. It is anti-science fiction: philosophical and idiosyncratic. Forward is going backward from Earth.

 

If Robert Pattinson has selected it, you know you are in for something different. He knows how to pick unusual movies.

The narrative storyline is something about a father raising his infant daughter alone on a spaceship hurtling toward a black hole.

You know you are in arthouse territory when the title of the film flashes 18minutes into the story. We slowly discern the rest of the crew is dead—and therein is the tale of sexual tension with malcontents on a ship going nowhere at nine-tenths the speed of light.

Somewhere around half-way into the movie, we find the kink foundation and disturbing fact that these are actually delinquent prisoners unethically sent out as guinea pigs with no hope of return.

Their fate is not exactly happy, and their problematic lives merely make the inevitable tragedy. In the meantime, Pattinson is a curio, ageless and aging as his daughter grows up. Their goal of a black hole is referred to as an alligator eye, but it is the bullseye of bull. This dark, dour film has convinced some it is a masterpiece.

For others, it is simply so far out there that it defies comprehension. Critical reaction is all over the landscape and under the sun.

Epstein’s Murder Will Out

DATELINE: Prime Suspect.

Alex Acosta & friend.

Maybe we will learn what really happened to Jeffrey Epstein, but not while William Barr is AG and Trump is POTUS. The only prosecutor prepared to go after Epstein and his co-conspirators was fired by Trump recently.

Yes, Geoffrey Berman did what Alex Acosta would not, and Trump has dismissed him. Acosta was paid off with an appointment to Secretary of Labor, but resigned two days after Epstein’s death. Trump praised him, and he ignored victims of child abuse.

Why would a man be taken off suicide watch in the federal prison? Have his Bunkie removed? And be given dozens of sheets and extension cords? Someone certainly made sure he had a message to kill himself.

Who is ultimately in charge of the Federal Bureau of Prisons? None other than the man whose father was a pal of Epstein, William Barr. And who is Barr’s superior? The man who was a close friend of Epstein, Donald Trump.

All the dots are there in this series, but no one dares to connect them. It’s dangerous, and Ghislaine Maxwell has her helicopter pilot license and is off globe-trotting. Epstein put his will into the Virgin Islands legal system, an irony for the owner of the Lolita Express jet. It is also a means to deny anyone access to his estate for at least a decade.

Murder or suicide? Both Michael Baden and Cyril Wecht, America’s two most prominent pathologists, will give you an answer that is disturbing.

Inner Circle of Jeffrey Epstein

DATELINE: Friends in High Places

Ghislaine Maxwell and friends.

The second part of the Who Killed Jeffrey Epstein  series delves into his close associates, while hinting that his accumulation of wealth may have been by fraud.

Epstein skates away from every investigation by dint of his personality, or bank account. His true rise to superpower came from a woman named Ghislaine Maxwell, a daughter of media mogul Robert Maxwell. She came to Epstein at a low point: her father died in a strange boating accident, some suggesting he was a spy for Israel and was assassinated.

Ghislaine moved into the New York residence, becoming his partner in sex crimes—procuring young girls. She was also a bon vivant and knew everyone from royals to movie stars, to celebrities of all stripes.

She and Epstein had pinhole cameras in every residence and amused themselves with video scenes of the rich and famous at parties, in bedrooms, on the private jet, and wherever Epstein set them up.

A few girls tried to escape—but they found his long reach of checkbooks would thwart any FBI or prosecution. In fact, he had a future Trump cabinet official in his hip pocket when he was a mere Palm Beach prosecutor.

Girls were plucked out of Trump’s Winter White House, the notorious Mar-a-lago. One 14-year old named Virginia Roberts began a nightmare relationship with Epstein, only escaping to Thailand when he ordered her to bring back a 12-year old girl.

By the new century, Epstein had broadened his social world to Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton, and scores of the richest men in the world. He redefined himself as a philanthropist despite a conviction as a pedophile. He was tied to MIT, Stanford, and Harvard, as a big donor to research. Many fell prey to his clever manipulations.

Once ensnared, many famous men were likely unable to break out unless there was payment of some sort.

Who Killed Jeffrey Epstein?

DATELINE: Trumpeting Epstein’s Death

 the Buddy System?

The short cable series in three parts went to tackle this thorny question, and you would be amazed at how many people became angered by the question. The series has received many low grades and bad reviews. Yet, it uses actual police video, interviews, and even Epstein’s own voice.

Who Killed Jeffrey Epsteinis a good question and a puzzling mystery, and an interesting documentary.

Just how and why may be of interest: a billionaire predator for years managed to buy whatever he wanted in girls as young as 14 years, and art as old as valuable. He had many residences—and even more powerful friends like Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, and Donald Trump.

Some speculation is that he made his money because he had dirt on the famous rich people who attended his parties. No one is quite sure how many girls were molested, or how he made his money.

The series opens with all the blunders and peculiarities of his death in a high-tech New York City federal prison. Cameras malfunctioned; his bunkmate was released suddenly and not replaced; guards fell asleep or surfed the web instead of making rounds.

It was a perfect storm for a perfect crime. With life nowadays considered cheap, it would not take much powerful moneymen to wipe out Epstein. Yet, others bristle at the idea it was not suicide. You may wonder why “conspiracy” is such a dirty word. It certainly makes an outrageous murder all the easier to cover up.

Epstein’s latest criminal lawyer said he was upbeat and ready to fight again. His other lawyers said his plea agreement of 14 years earlier was airtight. He likely would have walked again.

Interestingly, and not noted in the first episode, the prosecutor of Epstein in New York, by the name of Geoffrey Berman, was recently fired by Donald Trump, one of Epstein’s friends. It almost requires a new episode of investigation.

The lawyer of O.J. Simpson, Klaus von Bulow, and Donald Trump, is Allan Dershowitz—and he intimidated all the girls who accused Epstein.

The man who gave Epstein his first foray into rich society by hiring him as a teacher and liaison at the Dalton School in New York was the father of AG William Barr. Epstein had no experience and no degrees.

We have here a horror story of money’s power.

Prince of Cool: Chesney Baker!

DATELINE: 1954 Buddy

 Chet as Challenger.

Was he really the first jazz musician in the early 1950s with a gay following? In a world of macho and homophobic jazz fans, Chet was often was dismissed as “faggy,” and singing like a girl. His style was decidedly feminine, often impossible to tell whether it is a boy or a girl’s voice. Think of Astrud Gilberto or Stan Getz.

He chose to sing a few ditties, that cemented the belief. His “My Buddy,” is shockingly gay for 1954.  And, his other plaintive tunes, like “Just Friends,” seem to sum up a gay world experience in the closet days of yore. He was always with beautiful women and a dog, as if to throw the bloodhounds off scent.

You half expect him to sing out about the love that dare not speak its name. And, then he bookends his melancholy sound with an amazing trumpet rendition that is subtle and delicate.

Gay historians may have missed him simply for not looking in the unexpected world of jazz by the Prince of Cool, as he was known to the aficionados of the day. He speaks convincingly, “How could you know what love is?” It almost seems a finger-poke to the straight eye.

“Miss your voice, the touch of your hand

Just long to know that you understand

My buddy, my buddy, your buddy misses you.”

Bruce Weber did a lionizing documentary on Chesney, Let’s Get Lost, which has been called homoerotic, rather knowingly. If you want a copy on DVD or tape, you will pay through the trumpet, unless you can play a Euro version on your recorder.

He was beautiful in his youth—and the camera loved him. By the end, the drugs and careless living took a hideous toll on his face. His talent remained, like a granite pyramid.

Chet Baker was hardly gay, in any open way, but was a sexually charged creature.

When Chet blew off a movie role as a trumpeter, Robert Wagner replaced him in  All The Fine Young Cannibals.

Weber’s biographical docurama contains the last haunting images of Chet before he either jumped off a hotel roof in Amsterdam, or was thrown off by drug dealers to whom he owed money.

The movie is stunning in its black and white sharpness: Chet Baker was James Dean, Louis Armstrong, and Picasso, all rolled into a trumpet.

Acorn Falls from KKK Tree

DATELINE: KKK and Fred Trump

New York March of the KKK on Memorial Day, 1927!

President Trump practically gave himself a hernia in his latest apoplectic denial to the Twitterverse. He denies vehemently that his father attended and may have been arrested at a Klu Klux Klan rally (one of those big events Trumps appear to like) in Brooklyn in 1927. It came only a few years after KKK burned down a black neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the notorious Wall Street Massacre.

Trumps like to repeat history.

Police are pictured above rounding up the usual suspects.

Donald Trump may deny till he is blue in the white hood, but there was a parade of Klansmen on Memorial Day in 1927—and police took five or six stalwart marchers aside. The big issue is whether Fred Trump was detained, or simply arrested.

We also don’t know if he had a deluxe Klan robe.

Whether the President’s father’s wizard-style caused him to be detained or arrested is a matter of, you guessed it, inflammatory semantics. They didn’t have stun guns back then, or Fred Trump might have been knocked on keester. Fat keesters also run in the Trump family.

Apparently, to be detained by police, your questioning must be “brief and cursory,” and after that, if you seem to be suspicious, they can arrest you.

Whether there was probable cause is the big issue. Knowing the Trump family, we suspect that “probable cause” is their middle name.

Police records are not being provided to the media from the arrest, but newspaper accounts are rife from the era. We provide one picture here from the Brooklyn fake news media.

Twenty years before the President’s birther records were faked, his father was one of six dubious marchers who were pulled aside for belligerence and racial intolerance (that’s the suspicion).

Whether Nature or Nurture, we now have more evidence, however circumstantial, that the acorn does not fall far from the Grand Wizard’s old oak tree.

Season 2 End of World War II Gold

DATELINE: No Gold Strike This Year!

With the series finale at two separate episodes, there seems to be little to accomplish with Gen. Douglas MacArthur took out 20,000 tons of gold to help finance the CIA without government oversight. A once-promising series evolved this year into another fake reality series.

They also learned that there is grave danger digging where the CIA has its bank account.

So, with some trepidation, we are looking to see if there will be a third season. If John Casey has his way, he will expend his team and find a new group for the third season. Last season’s smoke bomb indicates an opening in the mountain—and they go to it. They cannot figure out its purpose, but it is clearly an air tunnel likely built by American POWs, misused by the Japanesee.

There is now another heavy machine digger with no explanations of where the others disappear. Ruining equipment and pushing men are considered a blow to the search, not idiocy. For two or three episodes, they had a woman operator, but she is inexplicably absent suddenly.

With Rick Hurts issuing hard labor orders to the operator, we can see why she was relieved of duty: it would look like harassment if she were the underling. We are left wondering how many people have been brought into this “covert” treasure hunt.

Bingo and Chuck McDougald warn them to be careful. Deaf ears? There are no bodyguards or armed protectors—and Casey hears of the threats to their operation undaunted. That’s no surprise as this guy has now proven himself to be obsessed and insensitive to anything that will undermine his goal.

Following immediately came the grand finale of season two, looking almost exactly like the end of the first season.

Locating an ancient temple is surely an archaeological treasure, but they don’t care. Go for the gold!

Five months of digging has led to a key moment that may contain either a treasure chamber—or a third profitable season.  Several maps are on former American Clark Air Force Base (no digging there) and in a historical tourist area of Manila.

To hedge bets, Bingo surveys all the islands and finds one on a corresponding map, 700 miles from Manila and directly south of Tokyo. It is next season’s goal, having figured the expense and time at the Luzon mountain are about to be undermined.

Helicopters, always black and unmarked, ominously survey the mountain discovery. The cast went to the far off island to avoid any confrontations, if they ever really existed except as a device to heighten suspense.

Vatican and Third Reich Wholly Unholy

 DATELINE: Vatican Coverup

 Sunday school Nazis!

You can figure that Pope Pius XII will not be a candidate for sainthood anytime soon. If half of what this French documentary contends is the truth, the pontiff of World War II was a fairly reprehensible being.

Even today the Vatican refuses to declassify its Nazi documents that show collusion.

According to this account, the Pope and his minions at Vatican City were not anti-Semitic (which is a racial prejudice), but they were simply irrational religious zealots who blamed Jews for the death of Jesus.

When you have Hitler trying to win over the Vatican and trying to show his Nazi regime actually was based on Christian principles, you have twisted logic and those willing to accept it. Bishops were given the privilege of joining the Nazi party (heretofore Catholics were banned from this) in the early 1930s.

The Nazis quickly put priests in Nazi uniforms and made them chaplains on the Russian front.

Pius XI was not as thrilled with the Nazis as his successor who happened to be the Vatican’s German ambassador for a dozen years. When XI died three months before the war started, Hitler had his man in Pius XII who never met a Nazi he didn’t like.

By 1943 Pius heard reports from his spies that the Nazis were killing hundreds of thousands of Jews. He said nothing—even when everyone thought he might condemn murder. He didn’t.

When the war ended, the Vatican’s work with the Red Cross just started to warm up: they managed to procure passports for Dr. Mengele and Adolph Eichmann as well as Klaus Barbie, to move to South America. It was Pius Xii’s right hand cardinal who orchestrated this.

If you want to be infuriated, disgusted, and horrified, this documentary Unholy Alliance: Vatican and Third Reich  will certainly make you sick to your stomach.

 

 

Pointless and Pointed at West Point

DATELINE:  Drinking Underhanded?

Only Trump could confuse West Point with Waterloo. Water, water, everywhere, but he could hardly raise the glass to drink.

Your racially insensitive president (according to black Republican Sen. Tim Scott, SC) insisted that the young officer graduates of West Point be called back from home for a two-week isolation period. They had to do it as it was an order. He wanted to have them listen to his speech sitting shoulder to shoulder, no distance or masks for them.

More than a dozen cadets in the class have tested positive for COVID-19. They didn’t take their hydroxy swigs.

Yes, in a month of disasters, Trump managed to create another in his re-election bid.

These feckless West Point graduates also would be denied having family and friends in attendance by presidential order. No wonder the applause meter was broken at the ceremony—and Trump was about as flat as you ever heard him.

If matters were going from bad to worse, you had a president who displayed now more strange symptoms of a malady of unknown origin.  It underscored his inability to stand still at the graves of the Unknown Soldiers at Arlington on Memorial Day.

At West Point Trump could not pronounce words like Douglas MacArthur. He could not lift a bottle of water to his lips with one hand: he needed two hands, which showed that the sound of one-hand clapping is strictly Zen in this administration.

He also had trouble negotiating the ramp down from the dais. Trump was angry when people suggested he was a doddering old man who needed assistance. It reminded many of his catcalls to Hilary when he said she was not healthy enough to be president. He claimed the ramp was wet (no rain had fallen) and there was no guard-rail to hold onto.

Those who have called the POTUS a madman, a psychiatric mess, and worse, now were able to note in excusing the Commander in Chief that he showed all the characteristics of a man with a neurological disorder.

Something akin to a brain tumor.

This tumor rumor set Trump into a Twitter tirade, which is exactly what you’d expect from a man with a brain lesions. Next, he’ll be on the roof of the White House shooting a rifle aimed at Democrats.

Is there no one to take Trump to have a brain scan? It may be a thankless job, made more difficult by finding where they put his brain.

The Most Racist President in U.S. History?

DATELINE: Trump Tweets Nazi Soldiers on US Flag!

 Yes, Trump Tweeted It in 2015.

In case you buried your head in the sand like the Republican ostriches in the United States Senate, President Adolph Trump has been bolder each day in his brazen racist attitude.

His latest example of tone-deaf racism has been to maintain the names of United States forts that honor men who owned slaves and fought against the Union of Lincoln.

He earlier supported keeping the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond on its pedestal. He likes to hum that wonderful tune by Stephen Foster about a Mississippi barge named after the Confederate slave holder.

In case you wonder where Trump’s racism is going next: we suspect that he may rename some American military bases after men who dominate the public daring to oppose them. Look forward to Fort Eichmann, Fort Rommel, and Fort Hitler, to be training spots for stormtroopers meant to keep Trump as president for life.

Trump is also going after that Black Lives Matter bastion of left-wing terrorists: the Roman Catholic Church. He believes that a 75-year old peace protester is a “provocateur” who staged his own cracked skull.

There’s a cracked skull in here, but we think it was cracked running into the White House bunker. If we recall, Hitler’s bunker and Trump’s bunker share the safety from registered voters and pollsters.

Joe Biden said on late-night TV that he expects that, if Trump loses in November, he may resist leaving the White House and will need to be dispatched. We hope it happens swiftly, or Biden may find himself locked up (right after Trump arrests Colin Kaepernick), as if he were president of a banana republic.

Lost Gold Claims a Shocking Discovery

DATELINE: Shocking Allegations!

MacArthur & Truman!

 

With all the hyperbole and exaggeration around this season and the unpleasant and arrogant John Casey who did in his first-season team, it is no surprise that there is a “shocking discovery” on the latest episode.

The expert miners involved once again overrule Casey, feeling he has jumped to conclusions about how easy it will be to find the treasure vault.

The father-son miners are concerned that their robotic dig of a parallel tunnel may uncover gases that can overcome the men.

At the second dig, they have found rope that is clearly not old enough to be from World War II. It is blue nylon, indicating that their dig is not the first. They are finding modern digging tools. Another successful treasure hunter would not have publicized his discovery.

They now think one of three boxes of gold or treasure has been found and taken, but two boxes remain—based on the McDougall map.

Bingo Minerva is hot on the trail of rival searchers back in the United States. He has been encountering dire threats about their safety and a conspiracy that supports covert operators. A New York Times reporter suggests that it is General Douglas MacArthur may have been one o those who found treasure. He at least shared the info with President Harry Truman.

Allegedly Truman and MacArthur used the treasure money to fund U.S. operations against the Soviet. They had over 20,000 tons of gold at their disposal.  It is certainly shocking to learn that the POTUS and his Supreme Commander were taking treasure at will for their nation’s covert operations.

They are warned this search is dangerous. Then, there was carbon dioxide and monoxide that can kill fairly quickly. They have to flush out the poisonous air.

There are sensational shocks this week for sure.

Typhoid Trump Test Swabs Destroyed!

DATELINE: Poisoned Swabs!

 Up Your Nose!

After Trump’s ill-advised trip to a Maine factory where they make test swabs for the coronavirus, we are forced to ask the question:

Is Trump infected? Is he the Typhoid Mary of the COVID-19 generation?

It seems more than a few people think so. Immediately after his visit to Guilford’s swab manufacturing plant, all swabs made during his visit were discarded and destroyed.

Trump, you guessed it, did not wear a mask during his visit to the company where his supporters and donors invited him. They wore masks, but he breathed over everything. You don’t want to put a swab up your nose that has Trump microbes on it.

Yes, the owners of the company fear that he ruined a day’s work when every test swab is needed, owing to a shortage.

It seems that Trump is tainted with cornonavirus, and it’s the best kept secret in the White House. He is likely to be asymptomatic: one of those cursed souls who spreads the menacing virus—but never fully comes down with the sickness.

In the 19thcentury, Typhoid Mary was a mere interloper in spreading microbes. Trump is a Master salesman: he refuses outright to wear a mask or sanitize. Everyone around him must do so.

The Maine town that voted for Trump two to one in 2016 is unrepentant—and welcomed the racist carrier back to spread more disease.

Now, when he touches the very equipment used to track the disease, you have the worst possible scenario for its spread.

Typhoid Trump strikes again!

Best Agatha Christie Bio

DATELINE:  Mystery Maven

You have to delve into the Britbox archives to find the 1990 biography of Agatha Christie done a dozen years after her passing. The thinking at the time was that she was a surprise to have her popularity survive her death.

Indeed, one interviewed critic dared to say he thought she had great staying power and would keep her fame and interest alive well into the 21stcentury. Imagine that!

This is, perhaps, a highly intelligent portrait called An Unfinished Portrait.It is based on the title of one of her nom de plumeworks that passed unheralded for years. Her furtile and creative mind is boggling.

This delightful film is narrated by Joan Hickson (who played Miss Marple several times) and features appearances by David Suchet (the definitive Hercule).

Using archival interviews with the grand Dame, you have an understated genteel woman who fairly much is dumb-founded when an interviewer asks her if she likes crime. She retorts, she likes detectives and puzzles.

She worked as a pharmacist during World War One, and learned all about poisons. The documentary uses words from her novels that parallel her personal feelings and biographical events.

IN one creative period from the 1920s to 1950, Dame Agatha wrote about 35 classical titles, all still known. Several include plays like The Mousetrap  or Witness for the Prosecution.

 

We could list 30 titles here that you’d recognize.

 

The film is unflinching in examining her strange, staged disappearance in 1926 that cast a murder charge over her philandering husband, Col. Christie. She set him up, or so it appears. She later married an archaeologist, 14 years her junior, who gave her many plot ideas.

Miss Marple was based on her grandmother, and Dame Agatha always maintained good manners in her personal life and in her storylines. She just enjoyed giving people a good mystery to figure out: chess on an entertainment level.

What a refreshing look at the great mystery writer.

Powell & Pressburger Early Effort

DATELINE: Forgotten Classic Film

Stars together in scene not in movie.

The two creative powerhouses who gave us The Red Shoesand Stairway to Heaven within a decade provided the free world a marvelous morsel called 49thParallel in mid-World War II.

Michael Powell and his film writer Emeric Pressburger chose to give propaganda a shot in the arm. The only real German in the movie, Anton Walbrook, plays a pacifist: Eric Portman, a Brit, is the worst of the Nazi officers.

Perhaps the only war movie set in America where invading Nazi forces have landed at Hudson Bay, the film is a curio and a delight of originality.

The cast is stunning: Leslie Howard, Laurence Olivier, Raymond Massey, and Anton Walbrook, Finlay Currie, with Eric Portman as the Nazi Uboat officer stranded near a far-off trading post after their U-boat is sunk by RAF bombers. The Nazis think they are the first wave of invaders to conquer North America.

It is amusing to see Heathcliffe, Abe Lincoln, and Ashley Wilkes fighting Nazis. This movie gives you these cerebral actors breaking form. The film is done in picaresque style, which is to say, your stars do not have scenes together.

The Nazis are ruthless monsters to the point of hyperbole, your typical propaganda approach of the era. They are their own worst enemies and self-destruction is half the battle.

One by one, the hunted Nazis fall by the wayside, deserting or captured along the way. One of those they meet is a writer, effete and genteel, who is Leslie Howard—of course, and for whom the Nazi has utmost contempt for his “degeneracy.”

Filmed in Western Canada in black and white, you still feel the majesty of the setting among the grand forests and stunning mountains that dwarf the Nazi menace.

If the final Nazi, celebrated in Germany on radio, can make it to the neutral United States in 1941, he can be repatriated to Germany. His final encounter is with a boxcar rider named Raymond Massey.

By the way, the young teenage girl at the commune is Glynis Johns.