Classic Celebrity Commercials

Hi-yo, Pizza Roll!

DATELINE: Olde TV Bad Habit 

Back in 2013 there was another compilation of “hucksters,” from advertisements and commercials on TV in the mid to late 1950s. It seems a bit unfair to call these old stars “hucksters,” as appearing at the end of their series or show (often in character) to sell a product was just a means of enhancing their income.

This delightful collection is a bit tiresome. Who wants to sit through one hour of commercials, even in fun?

A couple of points are particularly distressing. Most of the commercials were done in black and white, and most of them actually run for a full sixty seconds, which is maddening in our attention deficit age.

In particular, Steve Allen takes a Polaroid photo of Lou Costello and we actually wait while Steve talks for sixty seconds for him to show us the newly developed photo.

Yet, the compilation also features some fun moments and images we’ve never seen:  John Wayne sells Christmas Seals on set, and his director really is Wild Bill Wellman!

We were thrilled to hear the William Tell Overture selling some Jeno pizza rolls—and at the end of the commercial, in color no less, Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels show up in costume as the Lone Ranger and Tonto.

One funny bit features a color King Kong climbing off the Empire State building and driving off down the avenue in his king-size car. He puts his little blonde companion in the passenger seat.

Almost as stunning is to see Marilyn Monroe in full throttle, selling gasoline.

A montage of TV western stars of the era each smokes a different cigarette. We almost want to cry out to stop, please!

Leo G. Carroll as Topper smokes too, as do his ghosts, Anne Jeffreys and Robert Sterling as Marian and George Kirby.

We also see James Arness smoking away with Today Show host Jack Lescoulie! We had not seen him in fifty years.

Quite a collection.

 

 

 

 

Oak Island More Interesting Than Ever

Bootie of Columbus?

 DATELINE:  1492 Across the Ocean Blue

 As we dig deeper into the eighth season, the missing members of the show have returned: Alex Lagina and his cousin Peter are back searching through spoils piles.

No word on why they were absent for two weeks. But immediately Alex finds a piece of leather in the shape of a boot heel. Prominent suddenly is the newest member of searching, Michael John, a black man, as the show finally accedes to some racial balance after being all-white for eight years.

The last veteran is also present, Dan Henskee. And, a sop if thrown to the late Dan Blankenship who taught the searchers that you can dunk a piece of wood in a tub of water. If it sinks, it is exceedingly old. If it floats, it’s newer. We surely miss Dan.

Gary Drayton is also again the man of great knowledge and discovery. He gives a yo-ho when he finds a thick piece of glass and tells it is a rum bottle from the late 1600s. He is seldom wrong.

Drs. Spooner and Brousseau are again called in to give opinions—and the dating of items, nails, spikes, odd latches, seem to grew more distant in the past. It seems major work by large work crews occurred hundreds of years previously—and largely done in secret.

We are talking about depositers of treasure, not seekers.

There is almost immediate testing and evaluation of the heel leather. It belonged to a richly booted person, likely not a worker. And, shockingly, it could be from the 1492 era.

One of them jokes they found a boot that Columbus wore.

Pascali: No Man an Island

Dance & Kingsley Top of Acting Game!

 DATELINE:   Extraordinary Movie

Over 30 years ago, we missed Pascali’s Island, one of those “think piece” movies that have already become an extinct movie genre. It was too good for Masterpiece Theatre in 1988, and it is too smart for audiences today.

It’s a spy story set in the Ottoman Empire of 1908 where a lowly informer, Pascali (Ben Kingsley), toils without much appreciation, stuck in a backwater.  Into the mix comes a British archaeologist Bowles (Charles Dance) who immediately charms artist Lydia (Helen Mirren). You won’t trust any of them from the earliest moments.

Mirren was not yet big enough to have her name over the film title, but this is a 3 character drama of high order. Performances are stunning, and direction from James Dearden is top-drawer, and you won’t find a more spectacular setting or production.

It’s apparent that a minor functionary spy is in over his head when it comes to stolen antiquities. He knows he is caught in the middle of intrigue with a Pasha who will execute and ask questions later.

The Greeks are ready to overthrow the Sultan and a bloodbath of revolution is ahead for Pascali, though he won’t accept this fate.

Kingsley is marvelous as the man with nightmares, and spying that borders on voyeurism as he watches Dance and Mirren cavort naked. His own peccadilloes entail the Turkish bath boy who resembles, not accidentally, the 2000 year old bronze boy they dig up and plan to steal.

Kingsley is a tortured soul as Pascali works against himself and ultimately must find meaning in meaningless acts of violence. This is a brilliant film, worth waiting thirty years to see. Alas, there will likely be few more in this genre.

The days of moral turpitude being punished may be over in movies, and in life. This movie hales poetic justice .

 

 

 

Brady Humiliates Belichick

SuperTom’s botox image

DATELINE:  Botox Notwithstanding

You cannot put any fancy spin on this: Tom Brady has willed himself into another Super Bowl, his tenth, while his nemesis coach will be sitting home watching on TV.

On a bad team, the Buccaneers, where everyone claimed Brady would flounder, he took his TB Tompa Bay mentality to the limits. He raised the dead and cleansed the lepers. Tom is heading to Super Bowl LV at age XLIII. He sounds like the ultimate pope to poop on the Patriots.

There will be no nachos and parity party at the Belichick house where his fake coach sons and he will stew in their own juices. Brady will adorn himself with youthful passing whilst bypassing Belichick.

Belichick had no use for Brady and threw him out with the trash. He refused in the final few years in Foxboro to pay any receivers or keep any that Brady liked or preferred. He had a hit list, and the last name on it was Tom.

This is not to take any humiliation away from Robert Kraft, the baloney-ridden owner of the Patriots and his awesome and legendary (in his mind) franchise. With the lowest payroll, it finally bit the dust.

Maybe we will hear that Kraft has taken solace in some seedy massage parlor and Belichick has hired new videographers for next season.

New England looks like a frozen tundra next to Tompa Bay.

It doesn’t matter when the New England Patriots said Tom Brady was ready for the knackers yard.  It appears the tables have turned, and the Russian roulette bullet chamber is squarely spinning on Belichick’s brain-trust. “In Bill we trust”  now seems to be the mantra of idiots.

Tom Brady at 43 has turned Belichick into a man who might well consider his Social Security as the soft landing spot to blow out his overblown legend. This has not been a good year for Trump supporters, rioters, or Patriot coaches.

 

 

 

Lucy & Desi: Together Again

Home Movie

DATELINE: Being the Ricardos 

  With the recent controversy over the casting of a new biographical movie about Lucy and Desi, it seemed like a good time to reconsider daughter Lucie Arnaz’s 1993 documentary about her parents, Lucy & Desi: A Home Movie.

Lucie Arnaz is defending the casting of Nicole Kidman as Lucy and Javier Bardem as Desi. Indeed, we think it is most interesting to see them play the real people during one dramatic week that the couple played the Ricardos.

They are not remaking I Love Lucy.

Back in 1993, Lucie Arnaz directed and produced, interviewed people, collected film clips, and put together a fairly honest and direct look at her famous parents, warts and all. She never received the full commendation she deserved. As she said, her mother was a “pack-rat” and kept all kinds of home movies that Lucie never saw. They were from the decade before the TV show and before the kids arrived.

What can you say about two people who were always “on.” They were the epitome of show biz, but alas, when home, their love story didn’t have a script they could embrace.

Lucy was the Queen of Comedy and pratfall on screen, and she loved being a performer and working. Off-screen she might have given Mommie Dearest, Joan Crawford,  a run for the roses.

 Desi was a talented man of show biz, and even more talented with business acumen, but never came out of the shadows. He loved Lucy too much. Their cultural differences, cute and remarkable, were also their downfall.

Desi’s Latino view of philandering infuriated Lucille Ball, but he was the love of her life. When two titans fall in love and clash, you have a big production called DesiLu, and you have shambles that make for great theater.

The home movies their daughter puts together are stunning and insightful. We suspect the movie docudrama of their lives by Aaron Sorkin will be even more stunning with brilliant actors playing the first great TV stars. We are, of course, most interested in who will play Fred and Ethel in Being the Ricardos. No word yet.

 

 

 

 

Geopolitical Prejudice of COVID

Not for You, Buddy!

 DATELINE:  Wrong State of Being

When your doctor’s office tries to tell you to register for the coronavirus vaccine and realizes they made a mistake, you may be generous enough to overlook it.

In matters of life and death, however, overlooking an attempt to kill you makes you a candidate for the Congress. Every state in New England has a different way to deal with administering the COVID vaccine to senior citizens.

If you live on the border of a state, like New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and your doctor is in the other state, you are likely about to be victimized by ludicrous geopolitical medicine.

Hospitals have put profit over patients. Several doctors at the nearby clinic have quit in disgust over political football with patient lives.

Yes, in New Hampshire Senior Citizens can now register to receive the vaccine. If you live one mile from the border in Massachusetts, you may not be vaccinated until this summer at earliest.

If you are 65 in Massachusetts, you are a dead man walking, but you can walk to the clinic in New Hampshire for your shot. In some states, you can go for an injection and find out they don’t have any vaccine.

And, in incompetent Mass., you may notice that one hospital unplugged the freezer this week, spoiling almost 2000 doses of the vaccine. If your name was on the vial, you are a dead man walking.

If your doctor’s office thinks you are in New Hampshire, you are given a green light to receive the vaccine—until they realize you live in the wrong neighborhood. Talk about a new version of red-lining.

So, a nation divided along lines of COVID treatment is not a unified country. When your neighbor may be protected and you are not, despite being old and having a pre-existing condition, there may not be enough vaccine for you in any respect. Good luck, pal.

 Well, they say it’s only temporary. You will eventually be a recipient of the vaccine. The race unfortunately is between you and infection.  You are now Seabiscuit.

Alas, you may be a dead horse when the injection arrives.

Shatner Looks for Atlantis

Edgar Cayce

 DATELINE: Visionary and Cautionary Tales 

 Every other weekUnXplained gives us chopped liver, but in between we have some gemstones and meaty insights. Will William Shatner’s search for Atlantis, the Lost Continent, fall into the good group, or the stinkeroo group?

Shatner is in fine fettle for the opening, always a good sign as he laces his intro with skepticism. And, the episode starts off with Plato’s “metaphor” that one expert notes has a kernel of historical truth. Well, not usually in poetry, but so much for the experts.

The real fad of Atlantis arose out of the 1880s when Jules Verne science fiction was at its height, and a book about an antediluvian world caught the public fancy. A philosophic allegory became a visionary and cautionary tale.

Reputable archaeologists indicate that many clues from Plato indicate that the word “island” has been misinterpreted: it means peninsula, and that leads them to the coast of Spain and Portugal where layers of methane indicate many dead bodies deep under ground.

However, Edgar Cayce had a different take: his visions indicated that Atlantis was located in the Caribbean and has since become the many disjointed islands. He thought it was destroyed by self-used crystal death rays. It sounds like Tesla lived there.

There is also a consideration that the Atlanteans were hybrid extra-terrestrials with both paranormal skills and technological genius.

Shatner saves his best wild attitude for the final push: that Atlantis was a community of space aliens. But, the final note is that Walt Disney planned EPCOT as a concentric utopian Atlantis.

Book Review:  Edison Versus Tesla

Mr. Not-Nice Guy

DATELINE:  Pro-Edison, Anti-Tesla

The co-author of this work is William Birnes whom you may remember as the older member of the UFO Hunters TV series a few years back.

Now he has put his name on a work that describes itself in subtitle as the “Battle” over their last invention. Whatever this book presents, the real Edison was not a nice person. You will not know that from this book.

How about a little truth in advertising? Or at least in titles?  There is no battle,  and it isn’t really Tesla’s last invention.  So, what have we got here?

The book is a hagiography to Edison, and sells Tesla a bit short, noting he feared having people aware of his paranormal and clairvoyant abilities. Edison privately believed that Tesla had found a radio frequency that transmitted ethereal voices.

Tesla undercut this by claiming he was receiving signals from Mars—or some inter-dimensional location.

Edison did not believe in spiritualism, rapping poltergeists or any of that stuff:  he did believe that electrons lived forever.

If Tesla could do it, Edison wanted to create a receiver for electrons and conscious energy. He wanted to measure unusual messages. He did believe that memory survived death—and that traumatic memory might be quite strong. The inventor wanted a device to increase the volume of sound waves.

Their vocabulary has been updated: Tesla likely knew of EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) and Edison was into quantum entanglements.

The book could have been a pamphlet, but does contain nuggets that are fascinating. Edison awoke on his death bed from a deep coma to tell people he saw an afterlife, and promptly died.

 

 

 

 

Oak Island Teases Again

Ersatz Gold

DATELINE:  Missing in Action 

If there is any major development in the 11thepisode of the season, it is that there is a reference to the likely deterioration of weather ahead. Yes, another season os summery digging is about over. The Curse of Oak Island may be one for the books.

What has emerged in the recent episode is a continued absence of major figures. There has been another week with no direct appearance of Marty and Alex Lagina, nor Peter Fornetti. It is about the length of time for a quarantine. They’d never tell you that detail.

 

The two doctors, Ian Spooner and Aaron Taylor, have taken up major roles as advisors again this week.

Most of the on-site work has been hosted by Rick Lagina and the supporting workers. Marty shows up in a later filmed narrative analysis.

A growing chorus of responders keep asking us about Dave Blankenship, but he is gone for good, bought out by the Laginas and sent packing.  Nor is cartographer Erin Helton mentioned this week.

We spend much time again in the boring down to 180 feet where splinters of wood should not be. There is talk (again) of being near the money pit, with Money Bags 1 and 2 giving approval to dig.

Gary Drayton again is central to the discoveries of the week: a mysterious gold colored knob from a chest of drawers. Gary contends it belonged to a ship’s captain, and there is nothing to disprove his usual insight.

He later discovers a large post buried in the swamp with two massive spikes. It is a dock for a major ship.

In your usual disappointing news, the serpent mound is dismissed finally as a rubble field. Yet, the night’s show has been eventful and interesting.

Sam Cooke: Legend

Ali Sings with Sam!

 DATELINE:   MLK Day Special  

Putting over a song like Sinatra or Crosby was no mean feat for a young black singer in the 1950s. Graduating from gospel and soul music to mainstream, Sam Cooke wanted to be a crossover between white and black, between teeny-bopper and adult performances.

Had he lived a few more years, he would have left the concert trail for the world of movies. By 1964 he would have been a giant in music and film. Instead, he wound up a victim of violence.

The documentary Legend  will amaze you. Jeffrey Wright narrates the film.

His music was emboldened by personality and charm. He wrote his own tunes, from “You Send Me,” to “Chain Gang,” or “Wonderful World,” he was astounding in his ability to put over a song with nuance and flash. He wanted to own his own record company, publish his own music. It was unheard of in segregated 1950s Nashville music. He was a pioneer in equality for audiences with their stars.  He was an avid reader and intellectual, a well-rounded personable extrovert.

You might think the segregated audiences of the South were over, but the true Civil Rights movement was only starting to become a norm when Cooke was making inroads. He was gone before Martin Luther King, Jr., made Cooke’s dream a reality.

The biographical documentary features a few rare performances of Sam in the 1950s, but glosses over some other great songs with a teasing snippet. We would be thrilled to hear a potpourri of his TV show performances on Dick Clark, Ed Sullivan, and other variety shows.

Though his friendship with Aretha is known here, it is his connection to Muhammad Ali (singing together) that astounds. He said he should have written “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and came up with a Civil Rights song, “A Change is Gonna Come,” but he would not live to see it.

Sam’s death remains to this day an unfathomable act.

Many, including Elvis, believed he was murdered because he was becoming another Civil Right icon, like Malcolm X or Martin Luther King. Other movie stories have also raised this issue.

 

UnXplained Tackles Endangered Monuments

 DATELINE:  America’s Monuments Features Trump

By sheer coincidence, after an attack on the great monument of the Washington, now under National Guard protection and fencing, UnXplained  has an interesting take on the locations. Included in this potpourri is, naturally, the U.S. Capitol Building.

The Capitol was designed to be the Temple of Democracy and has 600 rooms, far more than a mob can circumnavigate without help. It is a special place with a space alien goddess, an Iriquois, on top of the dome. She may not be related to the Qanon Shaman who attacked the Capitol, claiming too to be a space alien ET.

Shatner laconically tells us of the crypt in the basement and the ascendant painting on Washington on the inner dome. It becomes all the more appalling to think Trump rioters crashed and vandalized this magnificent structure.

The show also deals with the Washington Monument, recently renovated against terrorists!  The show is downright sentient.

Another sequence deals with Mt. Rushmore and its white supremacist connections, built on sacred Native land. But the true piece de resistance belong to treasonous Trump himself who shows up in a sequence to discuss the Empire State Building.

You got it: the guy who turned in his New York citizenship to move to Florida and has denigrated American monuments (except Rushmore where he thinks he ought to be) is cited as an expert. Yikes.

The episode ends with the near catastrophic Golden Gate overload of 1987.

If irony and shock is your thing, this episode of UnXplained is both shocking and ironic.

 

Ivanka’s Wacky Future

Next Door Neighbor and Political Ally?

DATELINE:  Like Father, Like Daughter 

Where will the President’s First Daughter go after four years of delusions? She said she won’t go to the Biden Inauguration. She has that right: she wasn’t invited.

She has burned the New York Brooklyn Bridge to her former home.  She and hubby Kushner have bought property on Indian Creek Island, a billionaire playground in Florida.

She plans to build a new mansion, worthy of her. What’s interesting is that she purchased the land within days of Tom Brady also buying into the 30 manse island, with security that US Capitol would envy.

They both will build as neighbors. In fact, Brady once was the marriage partner choice of Daddy Trump, but Brady knew better. His wife is a genuine billionaire.

And, Giselle has social contacts that will open up the private golf course for Tom. It seems the residents are rather cool to Trump and his family. Ivanka and hubby Jared are not golfers, and they likely will be shunned by the community.

However, Ivanka is thinking politics. She may be on a crash course with Tom here too. Rumor has it that she wants to be a US Senator, and will challenge Rubio in 2022.  

Tom will have to wait for the next seat. They both will feel more comfortable with the conservative, senior voters of Florida than anything in the Northeast where bad weather and bad politics go hand in gloves.

By the time Tom Brady is ready to venture out from his Indian Creek luxury life, Ivanka will be running for president and Tom can step into her senate seat.

Poor Marco Rubio. All that loyalty to Trumps will end with ashes in his mealy-mouth.

Proof is Out There, Way Out

DATELINE:  Faster than a speeding bullet…

A new history show is mercifully short, only thirty minutes in an age when an hour or more is standard.

The Proof is Out There has a host, a former journalist named Tony Harris, who introduces videos of strange phenomena—and throws it to the various science experts in fields of computers, meteorology, audio, and so forth. They are to determine if the video submitted, and often viral on the Internet, is fake stuff.

On the night we caught it, the show seemed to focus on ball lightning, mysterious orbs (only outdoors), and strange horn-like, prolonged sound recorded in someone’s backyard.

One scientist sees bird wings flapping as a big ball of light comes out of a cloud. It is going like a jet, and we see nothing remotely like wings. Of course, we were not hired as a consultant.

You will hear terms like glitch in the matrix, and the parallax effect. It may be more like the B.S. Effect.

Of course, we hear all the theories—from apocalyptic Biblical evidence to foo fighters or government technology.

The proof may be in the pudding, but it seems never to be in these videos. One is called “doctored,” but most are simply inexplicable. They seem better suited for William Shatner’s kookoo bird show, UnXplained.  So, you watch and you consider, but don’t expect proof. It ain’t here.

We suspect this series won’t be out there for long.

 Out, Out, Damned Spot! Trump Cut!

Trump Cut Out of Movie

DATELINE: Fans Direct Home Alone Cut

You know Donald Trump’s legacy is in trouble when his innocuous scene in Home Alone 2 is now under editorial attack. You can yell, “Cut” or “Hang Mike Pence,” but Trump is about to be given the digital age’s equivalent of Marie Antoinette’s fate.

Called Lost in New York, the sequel to the beloved movie that launched Macauley Culkin now will cast fate to the wind and Trump to the dust bin.

Off with his head is now a movie production shot heard round the world. Donald Trump is being digitally removed from a scene of several seconds as he gives Macauley Culkin direction to the hotel lobby.

Culkin has given his imprimatur to the action.

Not since Kevin Spacey was edited out of a finished and unreleased movie two years ago have we seen such a use of movie-making techniques. Spacey was sliced and diced out of the movie for his sexual peccadilloes. Trump now shares an infamy with sex abusers (though that is another story).

Not safe for children may be the new mantra when parents want to show Home Alone 2 to their kids: you better make sure that liars, provocateurs, and sedition-guilty insurgents are out of the picture.

An adult Culkin not only supports the move, but is prepared to replace Trump as the man in the lobby. So, an adult version of himself addresses the child, which is fairly funny and poetic justice. It’s also a little creepy.

Trump may suffer more inglorious fates in the years ahead, but like Benedict Arnold and Aaron Burr, he has reached a new low in American movie history.

 

Belichick Declines Trump’s Medal

Thanks and No Thanks

DATELINE:  Hard Man Makes Harder Decision

We may never know how much angst and conflict New England Patriot coach Bill Belichick suffered in coming to his decision to turn down the Medal of Freedom. A few have pointed out that he did not actually turn it down, but may have faced forces in the sports world that required him to say, “no.”

The honor came from a political ally whom he supported once upon a time. Today is not a time to be nostalgic for past loyalty when present conditions may be dubious.

It is a prestigious award, and under normal circumstance, it would be the culmination of honor in a life. Yet, after sedition broke out in the Capitol and some died as a result, the 6-time winner of the Super Bowl knew that honor and flattery must never cover up a cynical attempt to be used by a friend for political reasons.

Yes, it’s true that Belichick would look like a man who condoned a set of values that might reverberate in negative ways among players and fans.

Though he always disdains media, the New England fixture cannot lose sight of the prize: his eye is on the sparrow, not the fake glory that comes from accepting a tarnished award.

It may be that another president will give him this honor. We hope so. Representing the concept of American victory in sports may not be what some consider a worthy reason. Perhaps not, but Trump has given this award to plenty of people who never deserved it.

Some have accepted the award under dubious clouds, like Rep. Jim Jordan, a water-boy, not a coach whose career and attitude belie the Medal of Freedom. Others could return the honor, like Boston Celtic legend Bob Cousy, but he hasn’t.

We apologize for thinking Belichick a lesser man.