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.

 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.

 

 

 

Black Butterfly in the Yard!

DATELINE:  Noir Papillion?

Our summer of paranormal messages continues its barrage of weekly activities.

The latest visitor to our little corner of spooky alley is a black butterfly.  It might have piqued our interest in normal times, but over the past few weeks, it has become a culmination of strange events.

According to some experts in mythology, Irish and Celtic legends say that black butterflies are also the souls of deceased people who are unable or unwilling to move on to the afterlife; they may return to the place they once lived or somewhere they were fond of visiting when they were alive.”

If you have followed our adventures, you may recall that three days in a row, we had a visit from a gold finch. We had never seen one around here previously, in person, but to have it show up for an afternoon tea break for three separate visits was fascinating. The totem mythology of gold finches is their spiritual impact, sending positive vibrations.

After a tropical storm not a few days earlier, we discovered a white quartz rock, flat and unusual, next to the car that also seems to have positive predictive qualities if you follow the buzz on the Internet.

So, should I be surprised when a few days ago a black butterfly sat on my car’s windshield before I could adjust my eyes and grab the camera.  A few friends told me it was bad luck and not to drive the car for a while.

A Haitian friend who knows his voodoo told that the black butterfly is feared as a portent of death to come.

This morning the black butterfly returned, and he sat on my white garden chair. He stayed long enough for me take a video.

Investigating its meaning, I discovered the old Celtic legend about a spirit returning to its old home for a visit.

None of this would matter much except for the long history of my home, once the residence of two victims of the Titanic in 1912.  Now, one of them has taken up regular stays in my library where paranormal experts and psychics have been in ecstasy over the ghostly presence. We have had more than a few seances!

Now, a series of physical and totem experiences has made the theory more concrete for me. Gold finches, white crystals, and black butterflies. It is a summer to remember.

Dr. William Russo is author of several Titanic books: Tales of a Titanic Family, Chess-mate from Titanic, Spooky Geology & Titanic. All are available in print or ebook format on Amazon.com.

 

Hurricanes of the Apocalypse

DATELINE: Raindrops on Your Head! 

 1938

This series on unpleasant natural phenomena now adds big wind and rain to the mix of devastation. Apocalypse Earth is offering no relief from the Weather Channel.

If you want to see the most disappointing of the Apocalypse Earth specials, welcome to hurricane city. It’s nowheresville done up big.

As one of the longer entries in the series, we thought we might receive slightly more indepth scenes of rushing water than News at 11. Don’t count on it.

Human folly is the theme of this episode:  experts told that the New Orleans levee system can withstand a category 3 hurricane seemed to think that it would hold up against a Category 5. Hunh? We learn the system of water dispersal in the city actually encourages storm surge right into the downtown area. What?

If you want a catalog of follies, here is the episode you have been waiting for:  since the 1990s Florida has had a boom of population from the Midwest, people who never experienced a bad hurricane and had no idea what might happen.

As per usual in a crisis, you have drunken young men having a party. Some stand out in the 150mph wind to test their mettle, and some die. Par for the course, as we have learned in a pandemic.

A meteorologist in a cinder block house never thought he’d lose his roof. The show is rife with bad decisions, and there are names of infamy like Katrina and Andrew.  We learn the obvious: Florida is the most likely hit by hurricane state.

Hurricanes are the most predictable of major disasters, but that doesn’t mean much when complacency and apathy are the hallmarks of an uneducated public.

One of the storm chasers is a callow youth when we realize he was interviewed in 2005. We do not see his viewpoint recently, and again this is a pastiche show of long-ago footage, including interviews.

One of the most interesting segments was on the great hurricane of 1938 that hit New England. Color newsreel helps to bring it to life, and there is also evidence shown of the hurricane of 1893 that devastated Far Rockaway, New York.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, My Gog! Not to Mention Magog!

DATELINE: Forgotten Classic? 

 Infamous Gog and Herbert Marshall.

Back in the early 1950s, one of the way-ahead-of-its-time movies was something called Gog (out of your Bible as a nasty evil force). The movie turned Gog into a “brain machine,” because no one dared to call it a computer back then.

Gog and Magog are robots with independent thinking skills. The computers must deal with out of control nuclear power where no man can go. Without much overt horror, this thinking man’s vision of the future went down the tubes with nary a fly-by.

More than a decade before Kubrick unleashed the HAL computer as villain on A Space Odyssey,Ivan Tors of Flipper fame turned his vision loose in a desert military base, top secret, a few years before the government created Area 51.

No wonder this movie in 3-D was a bomb. No one in the days of flying saucer mania believed in this stuff really would take over TV in the 21stcentury. The movie plot was years ahead of crypto-zoology and Artificial Intelligence with evil intent.

The movie starred Richard Egan, or is that Richard Carlson? You know any good sci-fi/horror effort in those years had to star one of them.

And, as the distinguished scientist, you had Herbert Marshall heading down the road that Vincent Price would later own.  This is a few years before Marshall had a big hit with an original shocker, The Fly. Marshall is also long-past the razor’s edge here.

Apart from the high-tech predictions, you have a great many silly low-tech, insipid notions, like a windshield wiper on the glass of a lab window—and steam radiation heat out of pipes.

Gog was a big disappointment to the drive-in audiences of the age, and its lost color and 3-D view on TV never helped it achieve any kind of post-release respect.

 

 

Monster Cats

DATELINE: Monsterquest After Tweety Pie’s Nemesis!

  Not a Puddy Tat.

What’s new, Pussycat? We hate to be catty, but the latest episode of the monster search series is purrfect.

Monsterquest  had a bad Bigfoot problem, but is back on the winning track with its study of mysterious big cats in areas where they have been eradicated for over 100 years.  These are not your average puddy tats, Tweety Bird.

Yet, 25 miles north of New York City, a variety of black cat sightings leads the Monsterquest investigation to look for evidence. It does not take long to find claw marks and footprints. With abundant deer to hunt, the experts believe that a black leopard is likely there.

Many witnesses have reported seeing black cats, leopards or jaguars, not native to the area, cavorting the woods. Attacks are growing more frequent with people keeping even 400-pounds cats in their apartments!

Armed with a DNA gun to extract a sample, they plan to use nightfall and infra-red cameras to locate the feline beasts. Good luck with that.

Other initiatives include revealing that six states in the US allow dangerous cats as pets. These monsters often can escape or are let loose when too big. They are particularly dangerous because of in-breeding.

The series reveals that DNA of caged cats indicate that these animals are more dangerous than those raised in the wild.

There is a passing reference to koo-koo bird people as seen in Tiger King, who keep these tigers and lions as pets. Roy and Siegfried learned their lesson in 2004 when one of their Las Vegas cats turned on them and paralyzed, nearly killing Roy.

With an investigation outside a major urban area, this show certainly could be called unnerving.

 

 

 

 

Off on the Wrong Bigfoot?

 DATELINE: Not Again?

Topless Bigfoot.

You cannot expect originality all the time, so with its recent reincarnation, Monsterquestreturns to the thrilling days of Bigfoot. Yes, we are back to Sasquatch, Yeti, and all things worn out by fakes, re-enactments, and grainy old photos. The show takes on Bigfoot, again, for all you déjà vuenthusiasts.

This may be a cannibalized show, taking from other recent Bigfoot studies. There are some newer bits of information, like there have been 50,000 Bigfoot, Yeti, etc.,sightings.

The Native American folklore begins to resemble modern American folklore:  You should never look Bigfoot directly into the eyes because it sets him into a rage. We have heard recently the same said about Ellen DeGeneris.

They also recommend that you do not whistle at night in the woods. This is not quite the same as a dog whistle from President Trump, but it can get you into trouble.

The FBI has also broken its rule and taken on testing some evidence considered Bigfoot DNA. They have tax-payer money to burn, and they report in 2019 that the DNA is apparently belonging to deer. Oh, dear.

The same can be said about hairs that test as elk or deer, and recorded noises are thought to be coyote or elk.  Our Monsterquest  tteam of experts finds nothing, but as usual, they are undaunted. Never inter the remains of a cryptozoologist.

We found most intriguing the notion that Bigfoot, like your gray aliens, is being accused of abducting people. Mostly, they abduct men, not women. We presume this is because they run into more men in the woods, unless there is another element we are missing.

A few scientists conclude he once existed, but is now extinct.

 

Speaking of which, there are no reports of missing time associated with Bigfoot, unless you count the 1000 years of cave painting and rock carvings.

 

All in all, we were left where we were at the start of the hour-long show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Fright Night Revisited

DATELINE:  Vampire Classic from ’80s

Sarandon & Jeffreys

Has it really been 35 years since Fright Night rejuvenated modern vampires?

It was Tom Holland who wrote and directed it, looking like a B-movie for TV show of the week, apart from the nudity now and then. By today’s cable movie standards, this is rough, however still holds up as entertainment with a modern twist.

Two points of amusement remain unflappable: Roddy MacDowell and Stephen Jeffreys. They survive in name for sheer wacky performances. MacDowell plays an aging movie star who used to play vampire hunters in his heyday, and Jeffreys plays a teenage Jack Nicholson on uppers. He later reneged Hollywood to do gay adult films for a while, though that is now denied with a half-baked story that it was his evil twin brother.

The vampire is demure and stately Chris Sarandon, looking like he wandered into the wrong California suburb. Yes, the vampire has taken a house in a Leave It to Beaverpart of town where you can peer into the next-door windows. It seems like he’s asking for teenage trouble.

Stephen Jeffreys steals the big scenes: he becomes clearly the gay victim of Sarandon’s vampire. His two delicious scenes are with Roddy as they battle.

For MacDowell with his hair fake-frosted, this was a last grand role, and he makes the most of it. Director Holland was lucky to have the veteran star in his movie.

There is no scrimping on special effects at the finish, and you have a sunny California vampire tale.

The film was originally set to star Vincent Price, not McDowall, and Anthony Michael Hall, not Jeffreys. And, we still haven’t figured out what Sarandon’s boyfriend is supposed to be.

In the whatever happened mode, William Ragsdale is the star juvenile lead. He’s cookie-cutter good enough. Yet, he is thrown up against two scene-stealing actors who rob him of the movie. The film is considered a classic nowadays.

Monster Quest Returns

DATELINE: Favorite Back After Hiatus

“Serpentine Creatures,”  is the new special from the old classic series Monsterquest  that concluded its four-year run a few seasons ago. You can’t keep a good monster down, unless he is hiding under water.

Since Loch Ness has been done to death and debunk, the show moves on to other copycat sea creatures that have become landlocked in lakes since the dawn of prehistory.

We always liked the old series that took a serious attempt to uncover the stories behind some outlandish reports. And, now it has returned for a limited time on History Channel. Catch it for a mesmerizing few shows.

To investigate newer phenomena, the show does a ping-pong between the two coasts of Canada, ignorning Nessie and Champie entirely. We are given relatively new information about Ogopogo in British Columbia and Cressie in Newfoundland.

The theory espoused by more reputable scientists, not those who call themselves crypto-scientists, is that these are giant eels about twenty or thirty feet in length—and still ferocious.

Ogopogo is highly active with a half-dozen sightings every year still—and the show’s producers think their best chance to catch something is here. At least one expert wants to extract a tissue sample for DNA. Good luck, there.

Perhaps the best expert is author Arlene Gaal who has written three books on the subject and sounds down-to-earth and reputable.

The Monsterquest teams seem highly inept. They know what they are supposed to do, but helicopters do not arrive when called—and divers mysteriously go silent in the deep. Perhaps it is part of fake suspense for the audience, but the real result is sheer contempt for the half-baked efforts.

Oh, nothing is found—but they promise to return because you know there is a creature hiding there in the underwater caves and sinkholes. And, yes, we will likely return to watch again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kennedy Dynasty Undone

DATELINE: Last of the Kennedys in Mass.

As a long-suffering liberal Republican in Massachusetts, it is with shock that we have observed the end of the Kennedy dynasty. When a Kennedy cannot win a senate seat in this state, then the entire political family is on the endangered list.

Oh, we trace our ties to the Kennedys back to when my father was asked in 1945 to join the Kennedy congressional campaign. Young JFK wanted all the young military officers of his district to come on board. My father met him at the local church hall and told him he never stood a chance of winning.

So much for one family predicting the fate of another.

 

When I was a kid, my father took me to a parade near Bunker Hill when Senator JFK was riding in an open car. My father called to him as he went past: Kennedy recognized him, pointed a finger and laughed. I was quite impressed as a kid that JFK knew my father and snickered at him.

Now I am pointing finger at the grandson of RFK, the red-headed twinster, Joe III, who appears to have chewed more than he bit off.

Joe Kennedy may be out of politics after today. Or perhaps, like Abe Lincoln, a defeat for Congress will make him more attractive as a presidential candidate.

The pundits claimed young Joe was too eager and made a mistake in challenging Ed Markey, an absentee powerbroker in the old -ashioned pol sense.

We had hoped to make up for a family omission by voting for Joe in the general election (as we are not part of the Democratic primary voting list.

Now that apology to the Kennedy family from my progenitors will be put on hold, perhaps for another time, but my vote may not be there in the next campaign.

Yep, it’s the end of another era.

 

 

Earthquakes on Apocalypse Earth

DATELINE: Movers & Shakers

 1994, California.

The apocalyptic hits just keep coming. This week we find ourselves horrified and terrified by the notion that if volcanoes and tornadoes don’t get us, we will sink into the Earth during a quake on the doomsday series from History called Apocalypse Earth.

In fact, this is the best episode so far of the series, featuring only earthquakes in the United States. It is a catalogue of rare photos and film, going back to the earliest recorded damages. California is the main hotspot, with documented deaths and damage from the 1850s. The more famous events in San Francisco, are actually secondary to the continuing quakes in Los Angeles.

The 1933 event and 1971 event are compared to the 1994 Northridge shaker that brought down famously overpasses, crushing occupants in their basement garages or highways.

With about 100 quakes every day, most unfelt, the dangers of living along the California coast may be a warning from this program. However, like those millions living in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius, the Los Angelenos are impervious and likely believe it will hold off for another generation.

Scientists intersperse the scenes with basic explanations of why buildings collapse and the underground topography.

We expected to see massive destruction at the old ball game in 1989, but when the reports came to New York and Boston, we took personal notice. In 1757 even Boston had a major earthquake.

After leading viewers to believe the special was about the US, you had scenes (horrific) of Haiti in 2010 and Mexico where primitive building codes never considered plate tectonics.

The climax is the New Madrid earthquake of 1811, the longest running, largest quake ever in the United States, lasting over a month with at least three major shocks and a thousand minor ones. With no cameras, only a few handwritten accounts survived. However, Memphis and St. Louis may be the heirs to a future bleak shock.

Staggering stuff, but there was no discussion of Alaskan quakes, and that was a great omission.

Endeavour Takes Turn for Worse

 DATELINE: Unpleasant Developments

 Morse, We Hardly Knew Ye! 

In this abbreviated seventh season, the second or middle part of the trilogy of related chapters will continue to indicate to us something bad has happened to the psyche of Endeavour Morse, our stalwart and brilliant young detective.

Perhaps the constant and unrelenting crimes of violence are having a terrible effect on all the characters. Well, in a thoughtful series like Endeavour, this means your characters are developing into something you may not like.

The three major characters (including James Bradshaw as the amusing coroner) watch a woman view her teenage son on the morgue slab and go mad with denial that he is dead. Not pleasant stuff for our hardened police.

In this case, we saw veteran Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) finally fed up with murders and cruel treatment people inflict on each other. When the old cynical pro goes obsessive, you know that he will have a more divisive relationship with his sergeant Morse (Shaun Evans) likely to destroy their relationship.

The overlap of the first episode is that Thursday still believes another man killed young waitress Molly. He is now obsessed, trailing the suspect off hours when another is going on trial for the crime.

We see more of Morse’s personal beliefs than ever before: He opines the “dead deserve justice,” as to why he does a job he dislikes. He also admits he is not the forgiving type (which we think may include forgiving himself). He loses his moral scruples at last and in disappointing fashion, going after the married woman after all.  Well, actually she goes after him with wanton disregard for her millionaire husband.

Morse’s quondam friend, the woman’s husband, we suspect, knows all about this and has been observing. We will find out in the final episode of the season whether our detective skills are up to Morse’s level. He seems not to see it.

The show is overlaid with racism against Pakistani immigrants in 1970, and cruel violence even among themselves in their diaspora. We were reminded of the old chestnut movie, My Beautiful Lauderette, from the 1980s that also covered the Pakistani prejudice in England.

If this is how the show will ultimately evolve, we may at long last lose our taste for the characters and the series, whether it returns for an eighth season or not. Morse’s moral scruples have been compromised and that is never a good sign for heroic TV detectives.

Trapped in a Volcano

DATELINE: Horrible Ending

 Start of Eruption,White Island.

This one-hour news documentary from New Zealand is not a metaphor for anything social or political. It is a real examination of a horrid tragedy in December of 2019: on White Island, one of the rare active volcanoes in the New Zealand area, erupted suddenly with tourists on the rim of the crater.

It’s a once in a lifetime chance to see a volcano blow its top up close. It’s one-time because you will not survive the experience. The news film is called Trapped in a Volcano.

White Island supports a cottage industry of interested viewers. You can reach there by boat from nearby islands, or by helicopter service (several companies flew regularly a few people willing to pay a large fee), and the Royal Carribbean ocean liners went by and sent out dinghy-loads of passengers. Yes, thousands have gone there and lived to tell.

Not much warning or fear accompanied the visits by business tours even though the volcano is the entire island and erupted a mere three years ago. It has constant venting and ground is covered in yellow sulfur rocks, Steam is generally 200 or 300 degrees along the paths up the rocky terrain.

Famous news pictures showed a flow of dust and smoke billowing off the island and chasing a boat of tourists who departed ten minutes before the volcano blew. Another boatload was on the shore and was caught.

Going back, they saw a few struggling people covered in gray dust. Helicopters dispatched to do a rescue and found one copter smashed, all occupants who had landed were dead. Tour guides were dead. Nearly two dozen victims.

A lawyer representing families on the cruise ship were not told how bad it was by authorities on ship. Nor were they warned about the dangers of such a visit to White Island. Their lawyer said that was the cruise ship responsibility.

We would argue that before going there, we’d do our homework, and seeing live venting is not a good sign. Ballistic rocks fly out of the crater at 100 miles per SECOND. You cannot escape if the volcano decides to claim you.

Call it folly or vanity. Call it rich people’s privilege. We stand by the old-fashioned, unsympathetic term. It was plain stupid to go to White Island.

GOP Racist Taunts

DATELINE: Pinocchio & OJ 

 

If you think Trump Republican senators are fair and without prejudice, we submit for your consideration: two examples of racism from Senators Lindsay Graham and David Perdue.

The two senators claim their offensive ads were created without their knowledge or approval. That alone should be enough for voters to dismiss these two nitwits for incompetence.

Perdue went after his Jewish opponent with a media image that distorted him in an anti-Semitic vein, and Graham went after his black opponent in similar fashion.

The trickery is subtle: image enhancement or distortion.

They gave the Jewish opponent a long nose (considered a stereotypic feature) and they made the black candidate look darker and more foreboding.

You can count on the fact that these ad agencies do not create images lightly: they are paid well to meet demographic ideas to win votes. It is a million-dollar operation.

If you think these candidates did not see the images beforehand, you are an idiot.

Now, we could note that the long nose on Perdue’s opponent may be reminiscent of Pinocchio, and calling politicians liars is no surprise, but the image is coupled with money references and another Jewish senator’s image (Chuck Schumer of New York).  Not exactly innocent.

As for Graham’s nasty racist baiting, he resorts to the old-fashioned trick we haven’t seen since Time magazine did it years ago:  you may not recall how they darkened the skin of O.J. Simpson to make him appear more sinister.

 Well, folks, the trick is back, and Jamie Harrison’s photo is blacker than a racist heart, and he is leering over the shoulder of a distressed white woman!  Yikes, indeed.

Trump Republican senators are Nazis in these two cases we have uncovered, but likely in many others too.

 

 

 

 

 

  Jack Arnold: Swiss Cheese at Last

DATELINE: Forgotten Co-Star?

John Saxon, d. 2020.

 One of the great 1950s sci-fi directors was Jack Arnold who gave us Creature from the Black Lagoon, It Came from Outer Space, The Incredible Shrinking Man, and a western No Name on the Bullet,that were astounding movies.

Alas, not every great director has the freedom to be an auteur. Arnold wound up in TV, directing some of the big TV shows from 1960 to 1990. It was all trash in the end.  Even directors have to eat.

One of his final theatrical movies was from 1976 in which he received a nice vacation to Zurich and Switzerland where he filmed The Swiss Conspiracy.  It has so many plot holes that even literate Jack Arnold could only give the stolen ice an ending on the ice of the Alps He was witty to the end.

The film is about blackmail over Swiss bank accounts. And, the cast is fairly stellar: Ray Milland as president of the bank, Anton Diffring as his vice president, John Ireland and John Saxon as assorted blackmail victims. It also happens to be a rare movie in which both Elke Sommer and Senta Berger appear.

If you have trouble telling them apart, this movie will help.

The star is benighted David Janssen, already looking worn out. He would die a few years later from his profligate living, but he was always busy in a role, mostly TV movies like SOS Titanic as John Jacob Astor.

Here he is some kind of retired federal agent who takes on a job to uncover a conspiracy of Swiss banking fraud. It’s a conspiracy because you will never figure out who was doing it and why everyone is murdered.

Perhaps the ultimate humor was to have as many plot holes as Swiss cheese. Jack Arnold does his best on this movie. He usually wrangles top drawer performances and makes the script literate, but even he had his limits. No wonder he turned to TV after this movie trifle.

As we watched this film, word came to us that John Saxon had passed away at his home at age 83. He was in seminal form for this movie, and gave many supporting performances of high quality. He was one of those patented movie/TV villlains of the 1960s. His death was forgotten, occurring between Olivia De Havilland and Regis Philbin in a 24-hour period.