Oak Island: 6th Season Paranormal Episode!

 DATELINE: Curse of Oak Island Ghosts!

bone fragments  Bone Fragments Discovery.

Why has there not been more paranormal investigations on Curse of Oak Island? You could watch this episode in Season Six that is not part of the regular rotation of treasure seeking. In it, Matty Blake, the cheerleader and annotator for the Lagina brothers, takes charge.

In the final few moments of the show, the Laginas listen to electronic voice recordings made at locations—and they resoundingly dismiss it. Yet, they were the ones who found bone fragments from two different 18th century men buried 170 feet below the surface. Talk about haunting.

There is no onerous voice of Robert Clotworthy on this show, but the over-exuberant Blake is in charge. He talks to the two Blankenships about their ghostly encounters. Son Dave Blankenship relates having seen a black mass at different times on the island. It floats around ominously, and others have also recounted it.

Many reports center on a large hound with red eyes that seemingly roams the island at night. It is right out of some Conan Doyle story.

One of the intriguing details focused on an early researcher, Nolan, who never spent a night on the island, leaving at dusk.

A paranormal expert from New York, Brian Cano, visits the swamp area and various bore holes where they do record noises, including an echo from deep within one drill spot. What was it?

Mysterious lights and other phenomenon might be better suited for other TV reality shows like Ghost Hunters, or UFO Files. There are many reports of mysterious lights and people who disappear, like alien abductions.

If there is a curse, rejected outright by the Laginas (who nonetheless use the notion to sell their show), it strongly indicates paranormal or UFO activity.

We admit our prejudice on this level, since having moved into a haunted house, we have experienced too much to reject what we once laughed at.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bohemian Rhapsody Unwrapped!

DATELINE: Rami as Ghost of Mercury!

Rami.jpeg Rami as Freddie.

Is it a musical tragedy, or a concert biopic?  You might say it is a hard rhapsody to the kisser. And, it is director Bryan Singer’s best picture since Apt Pupil.

We were expecting the tale of squandered talent, losing to a hailstorm of hedonism. Instead, we were given the gift of seeing Rami Malek channel the ghost of Freddy Mercury to haunt us forever. Bohemian Rhapsody is worth every moment.

With some clever re-enactments of how the hits were designed and developed by Queen, all four members, you have interwoven built-in classic reactions of the time. The panning comments on the title song by original media critics is priceless and interspersed into the music.

Nor did we expect to see such intriguing supporting actors as Alan Leech (from Downton Abbey) and Aiden Gillen (now starring as Dr. Hynek in Project Blue Book). They bring gravitas to the queenly shenanigans of Freddy.

The notion that he was gay and it was his undoing during a bad time in history strikes us as impossible to accept. You mean no one knew he was gay—not even himself? We suppose self-knowledge is always a struggle. Rock Hudson in the news may have tipped off Freddie that he was in trouble.

Mercury was titanic and hit the iceberg of rock music.

His talent emerges like instant drink—and fizzles in a wave of self-indulgence. Unlike many other rock stars and prima donnas, Freddy Mercury has the wherewithal to see the error of his ways—and tries to repent with the famous Live Aid concert.

The media is once again a vicious dog that bites artists in the throes of creativity. It is delightful to see how some tunes were formed, like “Another One Bites the Dust”, or “We Will Rock You”.

The title tune comes in and out, but the finale, with all its morbid references to death, is “We are the Champions”, saved for the big finish.

Rami Malek is the show, man-tanned or not, and convinces you he is the genuine article. Add music and you have a masterpiece, but Freddy Mercury would not be surprised at all that his life and music survive and flourish.

 

 

Demise of TV Satire?

DATELINE:  Trump’s Attack on Humor

trumpet the New Archie Bunker?

President Trump wants to shut down Saturday Night Live because it is an “Enemy of the People.”

In his view, no views should be expressed on TV unless they are kind, balanced, and fair to him.

Of course, television has a long history of unpopular, brutal satire. The shows include That Was the Week That Was. TWTWTW, as it was known, or TW3 in some circles, was half-an hour of unremitting political jokes that skewed Republican Barry Goldwater during 1964. It was on in prime-time and was pre-empted every week, almost, by paid TV commercials from the GOP. They eventually saw it canceled.

The other shocker was The Smothers Brothers Hour, on Sunday nights that was sixty minutes of unremitting anti-Nixon, anti-Watergate cronies in the Roger Stone archetype.

It was so virulently anti-Nixon and his dirty-tricks-team that Nixon put it on the Enemies List and had his influential friends at the network cancel the show.

All in the Family started out as a brutal satire of crypto-Nazi bigotry in the Queens suburbs of New York. It was enormously popular during the 1970s, but its satiric bite was lessened sharply when Archie Bunker, the bigot, became a lovable American hero. Embraced as a delightful example of American parochialism, he flourished, a fan favorite of conservative America.

During the same years came SNL.  It was out of prime time, even reveling in the idea with the Not Ready for Prime Time players, a group of future movie stars who did satiric barbs.

SNL still lives, over forty years later, and has become nastier in its attacks on Trump, which incenses the President. He wants it investigated and stopped.

If there had been a radio show in Germany in the 1930s, Hitler would have had it raided and had its comedians sent to a concentration camp. Indeed, Jack Benny made a comedy movie about such an idea in his greatest film called To Be or Not To Be. ICE may yet raid SNL.

So Trump is in fine company as he awaits impeachment and prison for his dubious unconstitutional, uneducated, and anti-satire demands to close down freedom of speech.

Star Trek VI, Shakespeare Par-Broiled!

DATELINE:  The Final Undiscovered Country

Butrick recalled Merritt Remembered!

Did we miss this gem the first time around in 1991? We are glad to re-discover The Undiscovered Country, the last original cast movie of the Star Trek series. It is elegantly listed as VI.

This film, directed by Nicholas Meyer, is Shakespearean satire. It is delicious to behold. The sixth in the movie franchise of the original series, perhaps we had run out of steam and avoided it, but the characters had not abandoned their mission.

Christopher Plummer as Chang, the Klingon villain, delivers famous lines and taunts that you have to read Shakespeare in the original Klingon.

The movie is loaded with delights. Spock quotes Sherlock Holmes and mentions he is a distant ancestor. Christian Slater, a devotee and fan of the show, has a cameo.

Merrit Butrick, who played Kirk’s son in two movies, but had died of HIV in 1989, appears as his son again in a photo—and in a major plot device. We think Butrick would have been thrilled.

The Undiscovered Country deserves to have an elevated spot in the canon of Star Trek. As the last entry, it is bittersweet and, so many years after its appearance, meets the end exactly as we might wish.

The movie is loaded with one-liners and the usual attack that leaves the Enterprise in shambles.

Leonard Nimoy came up with the idea for the last film, and he knows how to play off the two main characters and his chemistry with William Shatner.

If you have not discovered the last franchise dedicated to Gene Roddenberry, you are remiss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen: Mercury Rising: Predating the Movie

 DATELINE: Long Live the Champion!

Champion Real Mercury!

From 2011, a biographical documentary on Freddie Mercury may well have been the instrument to inspire the movie story of his life called Bohemian Rhapsody.

In advertisements and descriptions, Mercury has been called one of the most beloved entertainers of the 20th century:  we presume that puts him in the esteemed company of Sophie Tucker, Judy Garland, and Lassie.

We love dramatizations of the basic facts elicited in this life-story of a musical icon.

What the Zanzibar native named Farrouk really transcended was the crossover of glam-rock and Bowie with some kind of sports anthem creator. He was his most important self-made titan/champion with an overbite.

Yes, let’s face it, Queen and Mercury created a couple of songs that have lived as the victory songs for every winning sports teams—and probably shall continue so for decades ahead.

That’s no mean feat.

Mercury as not Freddie, but a self-creation of the Raj and Brit music waves of the 1960s and 1970s. He certainly helped to establish MTV and music videos—and they gave him fame.

His coming-out at the time of Studio 54 meant he was in the forerunning of gay icons, and among the victims of a generation who died in the early horror of HIV infection. He was carefree and did not flinch from his lifestyle, even if it might kill him.

The movie with Rami Malek could not have found a better embodiment of Mercury than the wide-eyed actor. And, we will examine that film in due time. In the meantime, if you need a more objective look at his life, we recommend Mercury Rising, the story of Queen by those who were closest.

Oak Island: Paper Chase #13

DATELINE: Parchment & Pigment

Dem bones Human Bonehead?

No, Professor Kingsfield is not lecturing this week, but the “Paper Chase” is definitely on as the 13th episode of season six.

Instead of Kingsfield, here is another dry academic, Randall Sullivan who has written a tie-in book about Oak Island the highly rated, History channel, cable series. He is allowed to shill his research on the show and is praised to high heaven for the Laginas.

No one claims the Laginas are silent partners, but pushing the book is lucrative (out of stock on Amazon), and published by Atlantic Press, no slouches.

Cheapskate Sullivan brings two copies of the book to the crew at Oak Island, letting partner Craig Tester sit there with egg on his face.

As for the findings of the week, big news includes a cement wall in Smith’s Cove, another piece of a dead man’s bone (likely one of Captain Kidd’s dead men not telling tales) from the bore hole, and parchment with red pigment on it. If Shakespeare’s original manuscripts are down there, they are soggy remnants of treasure.

On the positive side, 95-year old Dan Blankenship makes an appearance—and Alex Lagina has been reduced to chauffeuring author Sullivan around.

When Dan Henskee finds the bone fragment, credit is given to Jack Begley instead. Oh, well, being old is not always a good thing for original searchers like Henskee.

We still await carbon dating (suggested by Dan Blankenship) on parchment, wood from Smith’s Cove and other expert analysis of tokens and iron arrow shafts. Francis Bacon seems to be emerging as the culprit, over Templars. With a record number of episodes ordered for the season, we probably can wait a few more weeks for results.

 

 

 

 

David: Overexposed Masterpiece

DATELINE: For All the Marbles

David

 Michelangelo’s Boy!

The Private Life of a Masterpiece is a documentary narrated by the late Tim Piggott-Smith a decade ago.

You might not realize what a controversial and interesting history and life that block of marble chiseled by Michelangelo has had over centuries.

Years before the great Renaissance upstart put his talent to the statue, a couple of artists tried and failed to carve out an iconic image. They failed, mainly because the superior marble was only two feet thick in places. It was meant to be one piece, a marvel in itself, and nearly impossible.

David is the height of three men and weighs about the poundage of two dozen. Indeed, David is the real Goliath. He was originally meant to be posed atop a church in Florence, but he was hijacked for political reasons to face the threat of the Medici family, looking southward on palazzo level. After all, he was a killer.

As a result, David has suffered, and his face seems to mirror that. He has been stoned, broken, allowed to be covered in mold, and has lost some detail.

Yet, he remains more than ever the commercial icon of the 20th century, more popular today than ever before: he is the epitome of modern man. From the get-go, he has been a role model and object of love; nearly half of Florentines in the 16th century were likely bisexual men. They adored him.

Like any great work of art, he is subject to interpretation on many levels with each passing era. Surprisingly, he was not appreciated by Victorians unless he was covered with a fig leaf. Yep, they had one ready-made for coverups when required.

Entertaining and educational, this is a one-hour history that you may watch with never-averted eyes.

 

Old Dark House Mates & Inmates

DATELINE: Over-rated Classic

empty house Ate for Dinner .

Your first reaction to this chestnut of horror comedy is shock at the jaw-dropping cast.

Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton, Melvyn Douglas, Raymond Massey, Gloria Stuart, and Ernest Thesiger!  You have a round-robin of possible villains and victims. The problem is that they are given nothing significant to perform. Even Karloff uses makeup to look menacing, but his dumb waiter is left hanging.

Yeah, it was a dark and stormy night, but that ain’t enough.

James Whale gathered quite a retinue of talent and gave them an empty script in a drafty house.

Billed as an atmospheric thriller comedy, that’s about all this J.B. Priestly story is. With a marvelous cast, and Whale’s shadows and tricks, like a fun house mirror, the plot is ridiculous, throwing a bunch of ingrates caught in a bad torrential rain into a private household as if it’s a flea-bag hotel. T’aint funny.

Here they find their hosts eccentric (well, Horace Femm is Ernest Thesiger, which says it all) and his odd-ball bully sister.

Charles Laughter as Sir William shows up too with a show biz girlfriend, and he is given little to do. Melvyn Douglas is his trademark self, complete with pipe, and Boris Karloff still is given no dialogue yet again in one of his movies. He just looks menacing as Morgan, the scar-faced butler.

We wanted so much for this film to give us a thrill and become a marvel, but we found it disappointing to the ultimate degree—and in no way does it hold up to the other horror tales of the Universal series. This alleged classic is a let-down from the get-go.

 

Out, Out! Given Shaft on Oak Island

DATELINE: Void or Vortex?

void on Oak Island Money Pit Candid Camera?

When we learned this week that History Channel had ordered 30 hours of the series Curse of Oak Island for this sixth season, we knew immediately it meant the “slog” factor had been doubled.

This would be a mammoth and twice-as-long season of episodes than the previous year.

And, sure enough, we saw the drama in micro-management. It seems that the stone with “rune” markings would be emblematic of the problem. Alex Lagina found an English literature professor (a rare woman) to give expertise. She was resoundingly rejected by the Lagina Brothers.

She suggested, two weeks after finding a piece of stone, that they look for the rest of it. A half-hearted search commenced eventually, but Rick Lagina out in the field was not enthusiastic. Marty dismissed another expert when she said it was decorative, not language.

If there was a find, it was Gary Drayton—the metal detective—who located another Roman arrow shaft in the muck. It may take weeks to authenticate this.  And, we are still left wondering why no one has done carbon dating on the wood beams found in the mud at Smith’s Cove.

Now the gang of treasure hunters are calling it Roman era because some hydraulic concrete has been found. Well, yes, Romans created it, but it was rediscovered in the 1700s—and, more likely, might be from that era.

Most intriguing again was failed equipment. A highly anticipated submersible camera went down a shaft, found some angular caverns, and promptly crashed, filling with water.  Wasn’t this a submersible??

The Laginas are fond of blaming the perennial curse of Oak Island for equipment failures. However, if you are using paranormal theory (curse killing six men), then you ought to be aware that spirit activity often depletes electronic equipment, causing battery failure.

If you have a shaft/void that has human bones in it at 170 feet, you may well have paranormal activity. It has not been addressed so far.

All in all, this latest episode leaves viewers frustrated. Yet again.

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

The Captains of Star Trek

DATELINE: No Vanity from Shatner!

man in box

When first we saw that William Shatner had produced, written, and directed a movie documentary about the five captains of the Star Trek franchise, we suspected vanity. He calls it The Captains, putting himself into a stew with the others.

How wrong we were about the ego of Captain Kirk’s acting creator. Shatner’s touching and delightful film shows what an erudite, generous, kind man he is. Each conversation with one of his successors in the Star Trek world is careful and insightful.

He talks to Scott Bakula, Sir Patrick Stewart, Kate Mulgrew, Avery Brooks, and Chris Pine.  He genuinely likes these actors and respects their opinions.

Also around are those who were part of the franchise like Jonathan Frakes (The Next Generation) and even his old friend Christopher Plummer (from The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek VI). Shatner understudied Plummer in Henry V on stage at the beginning of their careers! 

Obvious questions were on Shatner’s mind in a personal way, and he turned it around to find out if playing a Star Fleet captain had an impact on the personal life of the actors. It deals with divorce to mortality. Of course, it is big.

Shatner notes how he might have been embarrassed to leave serious classic acting to do Star Trek, and how often he was denigrated for his work. Yet, talking to the other stars, he becomes more aware of why playing a leader required an attitude.

In the meantime, he shows humor and expresses insight into his own career. There are even clips of him, as a blond in the mid-1950s playing Billy Budd on Canadian TV.

He learns that every star suffered 16-hour work days on the series and movies, and that it had a devastating toll on their personal lives and children.

Yet, this is not a downbeat story: Shatner has come to revel in his role as Captain Kirk, not always something he could claim. Each actor he speaks with shares personal feelings that elicit a growth in Shatner on the screen.

What a marvelous little film, even if you may not have seen some of the Star Trek oeuvre, there is much to savor here.

 

 

Danny Amendola on MVP Julian Edelman

 DATELINE: Demon & Pythiass

Danny & Julie Danny with Jules.

One of the guests to watch the Patriots win yet again another Super Bowl, number VI out of LIII, was a man who chose to leave the team to sign a contract with rival Miami before this season.

Aspiring model and wide receiver for the Dolphins, Danny Amendola, was there as a close friend to videographer and now Super MVP Julian Edelman and supporter of his former teammate.When asked one of the more personally interesting questions as he arrived in Atlanta, he said he did not like Edelman’s beard. “It’s smelly,” he told reporters on the fly.

If any man has been up close to the challenge of finding food particles in Julian’s fur-based face, it is the always adorable Danny.

No man is closer to Edelman and as familiar with his workout partner’s habits, Amendola starred in many of Edelman’s videos and antics. Amendola surely knows the intricacies of Julie’s bushy follicles.

He, like the rest of us, may be perplexed at the ugliness of his facial hair—and how he now waxes and wanes his entire body below the neck.

If Edleman likes to take fur off his buff bod, you may wonder why he leaves the au naturel look on his chinny-chin-chin. He surely has bone structure as sharp as Tom Brady, even without Botox, which leads us to note that our most blockbuster blog is the one in which we discussed the “work” Brady has done to maintain his youthful looks.

It’s important when you plan to play a game in the public eye until decrepitude and the Grim Reaper darken your door to stay youthful.

As for Danny, who had his own oddball hopes of becoming a supermodel, he can only second-guess whether he regrets his decision to leave the big stage of the Julie and Tom show, Super Bowl perennials, to play with the fishes in Miami.

 

Project Blue Book Takes on Twilight Zone

DATELINE: Off We Go…

Gremlin on Wing

Dr. Hynek sees a Gremlin on the plane’s wing!

With the fourth episode, this series has gone into full paranoia mode. All stops are cleared—and even crop circles (not really well-known until a few decades ago) are part of the secret American space program under German operatives brought to the country from Nazi Germany.

It’s Project Blue Book quickly making a long drive off that short bridge.

“Operation Paperclip” is, accordingly, a disturbing neo-Nazi military space program led by the treacherous Werner Von Braun. This may be the most critical depiction ever given of the scientist who once worked for Hitler and then for NASA.

We begin to note some weird parallels to classic Twilight Zone episodes on Project Blue Book. This fits clearly into the metamorphosis from muted thriller to outright nut-cake presentation.

Yes, this series has been developing on several fronts, and it has hooked skeptics who thought Allen Hynek was a government hack, more of the problem than the solution, in history.

Hynek is receiving the hagiographic treatment: yes, in a few short weeks he has become the saint of UFOs and patron poster boy for those who have found the government a giant monolithic stone wall, long before Trump.

As for Mike Malarkey’s hostile Captain Quinn, he takes on Von Braun and the German transplants with a less than welcoming immigrant bouquet.

Government bribes, human experimentation, and massive black budget coverups with Russian spies everywhere, especially following Hynek’s wife (are they the men in black hats?) comes out in this latest episode.

The strain on credulity may not bend much more after this showing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whose Favorite Wife?

 DATELINE: Cary Grant & Reel History

twototango Cary & Randy.

Let’s dig into the vault of RKO movies from 1940 and pull out a plum. Yep, it’s Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in My Favorite Wife, directed by Garson Kanin.

We presume this was quite the sophisticated, if not racy, comedy of its era. And, it does have a few eyebrow lifting moments!

Grant is a Harvard lawyer whose wife was presumed drowned on a voyage to a South Sea island. He is about to remarry when she shows up with more wackiness than you’d usually find in an I Love Lucy episode.

It’s all rather slow for the first half of the movie. Actually it only comes to life when Grant discovers that his wife (known as Eve) spent seven years alone on an island with her Adam. It turns out that Adam is acrobatic hunk Randolph Scott.

Rumors about the two stars were in high fettle even back in those days—and the interplay between them is priceless. If you like in-jokes, this one lets everyone in on it. A passerby finds Grant ogling Randy and mopping his brow in distress when a middle-aged woman asks him if that is Johnny Tarzan Weissmuller.

Grant notes he wishes he were.

Once again Cary is caught modeling women’s clothing by a psychiatrist with a knowing smile. It’s all a great misunderstanding, of course. It’s Enoch Arden by ways of Shakespeare and writer Leo McCarey.

As sophisticated comedy, this has more subtext than anyone ever suspected. It may not be a great Grant film, but it belongs in the canon, but the powder puff is never quite dry as screwball comedy or comedy of manners.

Unsealed Alien Files

DATELINE: More of the Same?

greenie Little Greenewalde Man?

Well, we found the popcorn version of Ancient Aliens. You have to love a documentary that is listed under science fiction! There are a plethora of these series, all covering the same close encounters and conspiracies developing for over the centuries. This is the ultimate in false names: These are alleged government files that have been released to be public. So much for truth in advertising.

This streaming Amazon series, called Unsealed (no colon) Alien Files, which had four seasons, has three available on Prime. The second season is missing as it seems to have been one-hour in length, or under some other title. The gems of outrage are about 20 minutes. Season 2 may have morphed into Hangar One something or other.

Some people hate these teasers as sensation-seeking missiles.

So, this little series manages to cram as much info as one of the ponderous two-hour Ancient Aliens into a much shorter timeframe.  And, many of your favorite Aliens figures drop by to lend their expertise here—from Nick Pope, David Childress, Linda Moulton Howe, and others who seem to have sent their outtakes along. You may find the same UFO stock footage used in every episode.

These mini-briefs are folkloric in subject, hitting on everything from aliens on the Moon and Mars, to US presidents and their encounters. Most are cram packed with info and photos that you might wait to see elsewhere.

Many UFOlogists disparaged this little series, but we know when we have fallen into a money pit and don’t need any boring shafts.

John Greenewalde is the main host, someone whose claim to fame in the 20-teens was to form something called the Black Vault. The show insists that all these documents are now unsealed. Hardly, but who’s quibbling?

The narrator here is John B. Wells whose voice is a couple of octaves lower and more funeral than Robert Clotworthy over on Ancient Aliens and Curse of Oak Island. His assorted mispronunciations are to be counted and catalogued.

Son of Frankenstein, Reel History

DATELINE:  Consenting Monsters?

consenting monsters Love after Death.

In the days before cable TV, let alone streaming movies, we last saw the Monster in Son of Frankenstein from 1939. So, we jumped at the chance to look at the star-studded horror classic.

Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes fits in well as Colin Clive’s son 25 years later, indignant that the small-town minds refer to the monster by his distinguished family name. He is bemused when Igor notes the Monster is his half-brother.

Bela Lugosi, as a Dracula clone, returns as the undead Igor. Yes, he was hanged, declared dead, and came back to life. It gives him a special aura, not to mention the hideous makeup that Jack Pierce laid on him.

Boris Karloff returned to play the Monster one last time. His wardrobe has changed enough that he now wears a sleeveless sheepskin pullover. Not to point out the obvious: he is a wolf monster in lambskin clothing.

One of the bigger surprises is Lionel Atwill as the inspector of the small town with his creaky fake arm that he postures in salute or to hold a cigarette. Our favorite scene is when he puts his darts on the forearm before throwing them. Mel Brooks, where are you? The best scenes in the picture are when master scene stealers Rathbone and Atwill lock wits.

The story has an insipid subplot featuring the good doctor’s toddler son, an American like his mother, and both are point killers.

We loved the moment when the son (Rathbone as Sherlock) deduces that Lugosi has a hypnotic effect on the monster. “Elemental, my dear Benson,” he notes.

If there is any shockeroo, it is that Igor and the Monster seem to be gayly consenting adults. Igor can’t keep his hands off the Karloff creature, and they are clearly soulmates.