Hunt for Real Dragons!

NOT MYSTERYQUEST, BUT MONSTERQUEST

DATELINE: Monsterquest Provides More Thrills

These lizards that once topped 40 feet, or the size of a bus, have been gone for 40,000 years according to some experts. However, on Monsterquest, in Australia, there have been sightings of monster dragons (monitor lizards?) that run at least 20 feet in length back in 1890. It was hunted and disappeared.

On Monsterquest, there is no such thing as extinction.

Today there are reports growing that something at least that big is in southern Australia. Since the habitat of these creatures was in tradition around the equator (northern Australia), they have moved increasingly south.

WE don’t expect to see one parading around in Central Park, but knowing what is in the Everglades, we wouldn’t be surprised. Footprints have been found that rival anything of Bigfoot near Alice Springs.

You’d have to accept the notion that alligators and great white sharks both grow to 20 feet normally. So, a monitor lizard of that size should not surprise. We did learn that lizards grow all through their lives, and only death stops that size.

So, your sprinting lizard could catch and rip a human apart easily. No comfort there. Aboriginal reports put the lizard at 10,000 years ago after the Ice Age. Could they survive in bush country?

Mysteryquestassembles a team of cryptozoologists (people without a degree or academic standing). The braver and younger team is in Indonesia at Komodo Island where a child was killed by a big dragon several years ago. These guys use a stick and rope to catch a dragon and measure it. They find several nine feet long, but the Australian team is smaller, older, and less lucky.

These creatures have saliva that contains fifty kinds of toxins that cause sepsis quickly, though one Smithsonian expert notes that if they bite something, it comes off.

Once again, Monsterquest has a solid episode without much result, but plenty of information and intrigue. As for the footprint, one museum expert with real credentials said it was too symmetrical and looked like it was artificially created.

If there was a truly disturbing moment, it was when the show switched to a commercial with that Australian lizard who sells insurance. Talk about frightening. 

Almost in a Sherlock Holmes Movie!

Terry Kiburn & Frankie Thomas, Rivals

 DATELINE: From Sherlock to Nancy Drew 

Sometimes I forget how old I am.  One of my late friends actually auditioned for a role in the first Basil Rathbone movie of Sherlock Holmes.

Passed over to play the page boy Billy in Mrs. Hudson’s employ for the Rathbone version of Adventures of Sherlock,child star Frankie Thomas was busy with other projects in 1939, but as a standard freelance actor now in his mid-teens, he could have easily played the role of Billy.

Having cut his teeth playing Bonita Granville’s sleuthing boyfriend in the Nancy Drew series, he was ripe for a role in his favorite reading material, the Holmes stories. 

Frankie’s family were Broadway theater professionals, part of a clique that dominated social strata in Hollywood of the era. Through his father and mother, youthful Frankie met Basil Rathbone, the emerging Holmes of the film world. The coveted role of Billy went to Terry Kilburn, a native British boy who had picked up the mantle of Freddie Bartholomew.

Nevertheless, Frankie loved the Holmes stories and read all avidly. He later, as an adult, when out of Hollywood’s limelight, wrote a series of novels that featured Holmes and Watson in new adventures.

Frankie’s Holmes titles, over a dozen, are still in print. He disliked the Bruce portrayal of Watson intensely and would alter that in his own books, but always favored the actor he saw frequently on the studio lot, Basil Rathbone.

 Frankie also had a key role in a series of Nancy Drew mysteries made in the late 1930s. As a teenage boy, he was cast as the boyfriend of Nancy. In fact, he played Watson to Bonita Granville’s female Sherlock.

Recently I put together a book called Sherlock in Movies: Personal Views & Reviews, in which I tried to do honor to Frankie.

Mysteryquest: 4th Reich Regenerated in US?

Original Bormann grave in Ita, Paraguay

DATELINE: Reich and Wrong

Back in 2009,Mysteryquest listed an examination of the continuation of the Third Reich through the theoretical Odessa Organisation.

According to war crimes experts, Odessa was the name of a secret group that was dedicated to helping about 100,000 Nazis flee Germany in the five or six years after the fall of Hitler.

The Mysteryquestshow to prove or disprove the existence of Odessa actually was sidetracked into a Nazi hunt for how leading Nazis (Eichmann, Bormann, and Mengele) managed to evade the authorities after World War II and took up refuge in South America, notably Paraguay.

The evidence pointed to an escape route, enabled by extreme Roman Catholic priests who supported the Nazis. There is some evidence that the Catholic church continues to cover up the crime of fugitive Nazis as late as 2009.

All this seems to take on new life with the emergence of right-wing white supremacist groups like Proud Boys in the United States under the Trump regime. The attempt to fill the Supreme Court with Nazi sympathizers would fulfill the promise of a Fourth Reich.

 

According to Mysteryquest over a decade ago, Bormann’s body was buried originally in 1959 in Paraguay where he died—but his remains were moved to Germany after that to hide his escape and thwart investigators. The body had the DNA of Bormann, including newer dental work, done long after the collapse of the Third Reich.

With journalists and writers like Graeme Wood, the show did not prove Odessa existed, but surely indicated that far-right extremists were still a powerful force in the world.

 

 

 

Monsterquest Looks at Chupacabra

DATELINE: Or is that Chupalabera?

 Specimen, dead thankfully.

Are you a dog or a cat?  Perhaps you are some kind of hybrid species from interbreeding creatures.

The Chubacupla, or is that Chupacabra, is examined in two locations by the series: Texas and Puerto Rico. It seems that an island is a hard place to reach, meaning it was brought there. These creatures are somewhat similar and are bloodsucking killers who have a thirst, but do not eat flesh.

They are also fearless of people, which is disconcerting.

The Monsterquest team is a wildlife expert and a cryptozoologist who tends to wear all black leather (of course). They make a good team, going out in Texas with bait, infra-red cameras, and nerves of steel. Of course, as expected, one of the key cameras malfunctions, denying us an image.

Puerto Ricans have been seeing the creature for 25 years, and it seems to have come out of hibernation after bad hurricane devastation.

The animals in Texas seem to be covering hundreds of miles, but all share similar DNA and hair follicles.

Locals have shot these things and kept samples of hair, skin, and teeth, that are sent to university scientists. The result is something akin to canine, but likely an interbred wolf, fox, coyote, and hairless dog, or they are likely suffering from mange.

Whatever is out there seems to belong to a growing population. And, we suspect that it won’t be long before we see these creatures in other parts of the nation.

More meat than usual, more results than usual, and the same crypto-questions remain. This was one of the series’ good entries.

 

 

 

Deadly Jellyfish

DATELINE: Hold the Monsterquest

Peanut Butter

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey, Jude! Sherlock Holmes 1991!

DATELINE: Teenage Jude Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fatima Revisited

DATELINE: New Movie Story

 Witnesses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oldie Noir: Killers

DATELINE: Hemingway Classic

Burt Lancaster Awaits the Grim Reapers.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

And Leave the Driving to Hitch….

DATELINE:  Hitchcock’s Breakdown

 Trapped in his car!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Albert Speer Finally Exposed

DATELINE: Out for a Walk.

So many of these so-called Nazi documentaries are secretly honoring the monsters of World War II.  With reluctance, we tuned into the last episode of The Last Secrets of the Third Reich.

This mini-series is not apology for Nazis and it rightfully exposes the evil banality and shenanigans of Himmler, Rommel, and Speer, a nasty Nazi trio.

This hour-long insight into Hitler’s architect and “best friend’, surrogate son, took Albert Speer apart, piece by piece. He was the only high-ranking Nazi not to be condemned to death at Nuremburg trials. He spent 20 years in comfort in prison at Spandau, and then made millions with his apologetic autobiography.

He was a clever man who manipulated people his entire life, from Hitler to judges, down to history. He never admitted his guilt in the Holocaust though he went to Auschwitz and used slave labor on his projects to prolong the war.

He also had a secret collection of stolen art-work that he hid for decades and sold at auction in 1981. He must have known he’d escape into old age.

From being Hitler’s likely successor to being a patrician German version of the “good Nazi,”  Speer spoke English like a Hollywood casting agent’s dream of a Nazi out of Stalag 17. He was reprehensible for being even more of a hypocrite and role model for Germans who didn’t know there were Nazis in their government.

Herr Professor Speer, as he was known among Nazis, owned about 30 fine artworks worth millions, and he also sold his personal sketches by Hitler. He made himself rich in retirement on the lies and dubious morality of being a contrite Nazi.

Speer spent the last free years of his life, doing a batch of interviews and rehabbing his reputation. Many bought his act, but this bio film does not let him off the hook. He was a revolting faker.

With clips of the stolen art collection, rare interviews and horrifying photos of Hitler and Speer cavorting as friends, this is one Nazi documentary that must be seen to be believed.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Machine That Made Us? Really?

DATELINE: Gutenberg, Not McLuhan 

Docudrama re-enactment from 1880s, not real scene.

A quaint British documentary made over a dozen years ago thrusts the premise at us that the Gutenberg Press is the most important invention of civilization. Hmm, we are skeptical as usual.

As host and presenter Stephen Fry notes, it may be more important than the car, the computer, or other accoutrements of the latest centuries. The little one-hour film The Machine That Made Us never mentions Marshall McLuhan, which is a shame.

Fry is a bibliophile, which is to say he loves books, though that is hardly historical or cultural expertise. He is also an excellent actor and charming as  host for a travelogue and investigation into Johannes Gutenberg and his invention.

There are no pictures or illos of Gutenberg or his press. One early image from Albrecht Durer of a press is 50 years later. So, all pictures and lithographs are actually re-enactments imagined, just like in today’s so-called documentaries.

There are those, however, who’d point out that books are fading fast. That includes authors who find that their sales are now comprised mostly of e-books. We print out of nostalgia for the most part.

Nobody really wants dust-collecting libraries in their homes or even in their universities. When Fry walks down miles of stacks of books, we think the cost of protecting them (miles and miles of books) is staggering. You could probably fit them all in a file cabinet of Kindles.

Fry is no technocrat—and he leaves the making of an original press to a woodworker, and the making of the actual letters to another metallurgist. Since it would take a few years to make one page of letters to print up a Bible, they send to America for pre-made, and use their one “E” in the print block.

Vellum too would mean the death of hundreds of cows, so paper is made the old-fashioned way of 1439 and it is cloth bits into pulp. You make Bible pages between the Black Death that gripped your pressings with old clothes.

There are only a handful of the original Bibles left from Guttenberg’s endeavor—and he never made money from publishing. That fell to his creditors. And, the beautiful illustrations in the margins were always hand-done anyhow.

It is fascinating to watch, but a tad dull—and we never see them actually bind a book or stich it together. When Fry thumbs through one of the surviving books in cotton gloves, you fear he might sneeze on the book and let water vapor take its course.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unidentified Finale, Part 2

DATELINE: Biting Audience Hand

 Elizondo

The series may smell its own doom and climbs out of the box in which it has placed itself for two seasons:  instead of video footage of UFOs, the show switched to alien abduction stories.

Lou Elizondo calls abduction of Americans an “act of war,” and an attempt to regain audience support. Like John Casey on World War 2 Gold, Lou Elizondo may be pushing out his costars. He takes the reins completely in the final two shows of the season.

The victims of close encounters are all, of course, former military non-coms who have retired and now are willing to speak their stories. Nearly all are serving at nuclear facilities when they had their bad meetings and missing time.

At least one witness adds a new wrinkle: that the UFO was gaseous with no sharp edges and had changing colors. The witness was left with odd burns from the encounter, but military tests are never shared with him.

These vets often mention black-outs and sleep paralysis.

Host Elizondo talks to one expert, Dr. Susan Clancy, who completely shreds and debunks all these witness experiences as “false memory.” Elizondo readily accepts this.

She insists that the belief of these memories is important for validation for an individual whose life is devoid of meaning. She also takes a shot at Dr. John Mack of Harvard who came to accept abduction as real.

In a last-ditch effort to throw a sop to the fans who usually are faithful to these kind of shows, Elizondo claims there are real physical effects to these witnesses. It may be too little too late.

Elizondo notes that there are six billion earth-like planets in the galaxy and may have “brothers and sisters” of the human race. The final few minutes become a desperate plea to continue the investigations, but History channel may more than likely pull the plug on this series.