False Clues and False Positives on Oak Island

DATELINE: Post-Dan Blankenship

muddy mass of leather

Muddy Mass of Leather Deep Underground!

For three seconds before this episode began, you had a quick notation:  “In Memory of Daniel Blankenship, 1923-2019.”

There was hardly time to do much more at this point, with Dan having passed on two days earlier. We presume that in a few weeks there shall be a full-blown biography of his extraordinary efforts for half a century to find the treasure on Oak Island.

We know that old film clips and photos document much of his work from the 1970s, and much more is likely available to illustrate his intriguing life.

This too is the longest season of episodes on record: and they are digging well past summer—and the nasty, rainy, windy weather shows up in the hunter wardrobes. It is cold off the North Atlantic.

Perhaps the biggest revelation is to see how Smith’s Cove is flat and clear of all items as they bring in lidar to find anything underneath. The coffer dam is on borrowed time, and they must excavate soon.

The scientist did note an extremely large object was buried there, under what would be the sea and possible man-made drainage systems to flood the caves of the island.

Gary Drayton again showed his insights and acumen by locating a Spanish silver coin, likely minted in the 1700s.

The dredging also showed frightening promise: another bone fragment, perhaps human, chains, and large chunks of leather. It leads some to speculate that the slaves who worked the site were chained and left to die there.

Also coming up were enormous flat, human-hewn oak timbers that Drayton noted he had seen from old galleons of yore. Dismantled wood used to make a floor or roof to a chamber?

All in all, with a few weeks left in the season, we suspect that answers again will be withheld until next season.

Can it be on the 17th episode of the sixth season, we have Revelations 17:6? “The woman was drunk with the blood of saints when John saw her.”

Pour a tall one before Rick Lagina sees you.

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Eulogy for Dan Blankenship

DATELINE: An Era of Treasure Hunting Passes Away!

95-years Dan.

Can the center hold?  For Oak Island enthusiasts, the answer has shaken the earth of the small Nova Scotian island. The heart and soul of the Curse of Oak Island has gone. He was 95 and lived a life of a treasure hunting adventurer.

As Emily Dickinson once said, “Because I would not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me.”

Dan Blankenship showed up now and then at age 95 on the sixth season of the hit series, still unwrapping up this season, and he was always the delight to behold. He was sharp, in seemingly amazing shape for his age, and offered perspective with gentle insights.

Yet, that was merely one surprising element of a man who was physically powerful, as old film clips show. He dug bore holes the old-fashioned way. He chased the demons of Oak Island for the glorious discovery of romantic lost treasure.

Now and then the Lagina Brothers consulted him, trotted over to show him some progress on the hunt for gold on the island where he called home. He would even drive up in a golf cart to observe the progress fifty years after he worked the area.

The season now airing on History was filmed this past summer, and Dan survived another harsh Nova Scotia winter, but he will not be present to see another spring and a seventh season.

He died on a day when Jack the Ripper’s DNA seemed to indicate the solution to that long -standing century-long mystery. He died on a day when NASA released photos of an asteroid that might hit Earth in fifty years when none of us oldsters will see the event.

Dan Blankenship did not miss finding the treasure. His spirit was the treasure, the optimistic and grand character of the human heart. Fans of the show shall miss him but he was a century of the best of mankind to grace the series, the hopes of finding a pot of gold, and enjoying life.

How the series will honor him is not yet clear, but already he gave the series and history its integrity.

Unforgettable Vikings

DATELINE: Frolic in the Fjord

Viking Liking Sons of a Black Ram!

What a cast! Liking a Viking!

Forget the new-fangled cable TV series. Go back to the 1958 movie with Kirk Douglas as the Viking raider. If you have never heard the Mario Nascimbene theme, you are in for a treat—as it will stay in your head forever as the theme of Viking warriors.

If you have never seen The Vikings, prepare yourself.

This movie featured an all-star cast in bravura, over-the-top performances. Kirk Douglas and his costar Tony Curtis would return in Spartacus two years later and essentially play the same roles: Brothers under the tunic.

Here, Ernest Borgnine is the rapacious and fierce Viking king and father to Kirk (and to Tony, though no one in the movie ever learns this bit of dizzying plot complication). We are even more amused to learn that Borgnine was actually younger than the man who played his son!

Fresh off his Oscar for Marty, Ernie Borgnine is preparing to play McHale for his TV series by jumping off longboats. He calls Tony Curtis the son of a black ram, without realizing he was self-incriminating.

Throw in juicy actors like Frank Thring as an evil English king usurper (one in a line of magnificent villains—from Pontius Pilate in Ben Hur and King Herod in King of Kings). There is stalwart James Donald as the traitor to England and friend to the Vikings, and Alexander Knox as the suffering priest, with Edric Connor as Tony Curtis’s best friend.

Everyone shines. Director Richard Fleisher manages Viking chaos deftly.

Kirk Douglas plays nearly the entire film with one eye yanked out by a falcon (he wears a white contact lens).  It makes him even more frightful and plays the contrast to good Tony Curtis (whose wife Janet Leigh is the young woman every Viking wants.

This is one of those delicious fun movies you cannot believe they cannot make anymore. When the principals tried to do Spartacus, it became more message and less fun.

Every scene is exquisite in its outrageous melodrama, including amputations, eye-gouges, and a jump into a wolf pack to be chewed up. You can’t beat this stuff with special effects or computer-generated fakery.

With pure Hollywood magic, you have a truly atmospheric tale of 1000 years ago—filmed in magnificent fjords and drafty castles. The dangerous sword-fight atop the castle ramparts at the end will give you vertigo.

We lost track of how many times we heard that Nascimbene tune in various motifs. You will never forget it.

Ghost Chessmate Plays on a Dusty Board

DATELINE:  Titanic Ghost Still Present at His Home

chessmate plays Titanic Spirit Plays On!

Eight months ago, after psychics who visited noted that the ghostly spirit of a young man at Mill Circle wanted to play chess, we offered to keep you updated.

So, here is the first: Saturday afternoon, entering my second floor office, a small place where all blogs are created, we were greeted with a scene of chess movement. The ultimate gesture: the White King was down, a sign in the game of a concession.

It is a humorous response to make one’s first move the endgame gambit.

The chessboard has collected dust, never touched all this time, under the photo of the young man whom we were told was the potential player. He loved to play chess, often with his brother in this neighborhood.

At age 21 Richard White died in 1912 on the Titanic.

He was born and lived at this property, which was the family estate, the headquarters to their 19th century mill empire.  When his body was recovered a few days after the Titanic sinking, he was brought to the Winchendon Springs cemetery a mile away and buried alone. His father’s body was never recovered.

For over thirty years odd encounters with everything Titanic perplexed me.  This has included purchasing a property where Richard White lived. We had no idea at the time, but quickly learned from neighbors that conditions at Mill Circle were paranormal, not abnormal.

Richard sent a variety of signs he was here, present in this home, where he was welcomed. Where else would he go? Where else might he want to be? Psychics told me that he felt safe here in my home.

Psychics said he chose to stay here, and as a free spirit could go anywhere.

When the chessboard in the library featured odd moves and inexplicable actions, we set up another board where I could keep an eye on it daily, telling Richard that he could play the author of The Ghosts of Mill Circle right here.

It seems he has taken up the offer.

We placed a small model of the Titanic in mid-board, partly as a totem, and a yellow rose rests near the board as a symbol of friendship.

And, from a dimension where time is timeless, he has given us another sign, albeit a funny one by conceding the game in his first move.

We love it, Richard, and appreciate your presence.

End of Season 1 on Project Blue Book

 DATELINE: They’ll be Back!

Season Ending 

Let’s end the suspense right now. The History Channel has renewed the series for ten more episodes next year. Phew! We were worried that they’d prefer more gold searches in remote places.

For the ultimate series finale, Project Blue Book goes for the jugular. No, not the aliens: the believers.

If anything has made an impression on us on the show, it has been the variety of uniforms that Air Force captain ‘Mike Malarkey’ as Quinn wears. It seems he has a wide-range to choose from.

Since major male TV characters tend to wear the same clothes every week, we are curious as to the Captain’s military wardrobe. He wears snazzy ‘50s  civilian wardrobe for the final episode. We have recently seen his regulation military underwear (just that white T-shirt) that has remained uncomfortable and ugly, as a fashion statement, since Roswell.

Wherever our two heroes go, space-shot aliens are sure to follow—even to Washington, D.C., where paranoid right-wing military Blue Book honcho Neal McDonough is having space kittens.

We do like the fact that Captain Ramrod Quinn is one of the few characters on television nowadays who smokes and drinks booze. We didn’t realize how much we missed this 1950s foible with political correctness everywhere.

Perhaps it is government budget cuts, but the show all season has had only one Man in Black. Of course, end of season may surprise us. It did not surprise with the lesbian subplot, of the two women watching Lucy and Ethel in a 1952 episode of I Love Lucy.

The Washington incident of 1952 occurred at night when a half-dozen UFOs shocked the United States, but here it is daytime—and Captain Quinn is going up in a jet to shoot them down.  At the same time, a heavy-set President Harry Truman shows up to give’em hell.

He is acquainted with Dr. Hynek. And the series episode is familiar with The Day the Earth Stood Still, which it copies.

After considerable hostilities, the two characters of Quinn and Hynek unbelievably seem to smooth things over. They must have heard there is another season on the horizon.

A small coda was clearly added after a decision to extend the series was made, trying to make a minor cliff-hanger.

Hollywood Takes on the Bible

DATELINE: Testament of the Trailers

hollywood bible

From 1994, in time for the Passover/Easter season, comes a two-part documentary that relies heavily on newsreel footage and trailers of Bible movies from silent days to the heydays of the 1960s epics.

You can find rare clips from all your favorite epics like King of Kings and The Greatest Story.  It’s all subverted by dry humor.

Of course, the fly in the ointment is that the streaming part two comes before part one. No way to stop that cart before the horse. The Bible According to Hollywood is a fast-paced sermon on the mount.

The narrator sounds like Robert Osborne, late of TMC fame, but it is a wit named Henry Stephens. And, the Old Testament starts off with a hoot and a half as it lambastes all those tacky Adam and Eve movies.

The light-tone and word play certainly makes this an enjoyable documentary. Since Cecil B. DeMille is the name on the marquee most of the time, you have mostly clips from his movies and his interviews.

Now and then, you hear from one of the stars of yore, like Virginia Mayo or Charlton Heston, They offer a few amusing morsels too. Heston contends he made only two Bible movies: the others were costume dramas. We’ll let you guess which ones he believes a truly Biblical.

Most of these sword and sandal films use a copyright free source to save money—and the early silent movies set the tone, and likely made the most money. Profits over prophets seemed to be the Hollywood motto.

Alas, most of the movies flopped:  the Old Testament stuff is far livelier than the New Testament, which is hamstrung by political forces: evangelicals want referential, and Jews don’t want to be scapegoats. The New Testament movies walk a tightrope.

All in all, the two parts could be interchangeable, and they will make you laugh and roll your eyes. What else can you expect from parables adapted for the screen?

Calamity Jane: Other End of 19th Century

DATELINE: Deadwood, or Bust!

Calamity- 2 days before death  At Wild Bill’s gravesite.

The world of manners and civilization of the East and Europe would take 50 years to head out to the Badlands and Deadwood.

With a new TV movie updating the old series with Timothy Olyphant due soon, we figured to find the true story of Calamity Jane: Legend of the West. It’s an effective French-produced film. She was one of those rare women who lived by her own values in the Victorian Age.

The augurs were not sympathetic for Martha Canary, her real name: her mother was an alcoholic and her father deserted the family along the Oregon Trail. Martha was indentured or adopted and began a life of dubious morality.

Though some might hold her up as a transgender model, she never tried to pass as a man: she was always “Jane,” in men’s clothes, hunting, fighting Indians, and carousing. Indeed, sometimes at night she traded her buckskins for petticoats and survived as a sex worker.

She spoke a good game, told great yarns, and found herself the attraction of journalists. Some back east took her name and created a Deadwood feminine cowboy named Calamity Jane.

In reality, she and Wild Bill were only able to tolerate each other, though their love/hate relationship last a few years till his death in a notorious saloon shooting.

From there it was downhill: drinking, arrests, and endless wandering. She was a common law wife on occasion but married one abusive man to be father to her daughter whom she gave to nuns to raise.

Unfit for most jobs, she regularly went into show business, meeting people, selling photos of herself and a pamphlet story of her life. She even Buffalo Bill, but they worked separately at the Pan American Exhibition of 1900.

She had grown most unhappy in the East, and she returned to Deadwood in 1903. She looked like an ancient but was only 47. Hard drinking and hard living took a toll. The West had become gentrified, not to her liking.

Two days before her death, she went up to Wild Bill Hickok’s grave where she had her photo taken. Within a week, the people of Deadwood put her in a grave next to him.

After all, they were legends—and Westerns were about to hit the big screen with the advent of movies. Calamity would ride on forever, even unto a new TV cable movie, Deadwood, this summer. 

 

 

 

 

Moby Dick: What Really Happened?

 DATELINE: Whale of a Story

Essex hit by whale   Moby Rams Essex!

You may have blanched at reading the mammoth novel by Herman Melville—few professors require its reading nowadays: too long, big means Moby Dick.

The true story of what intrigued Melville may be better fodder for the short attention span of a one-hour documentary.  And so, we have come down to Moby Dick: the True Story, made in 2001.

Out of Nantucket, the whaler called Essex sailed in 1819, not long after Frankenstein appeared, and it was its own horror story, all true. Though Melville made the First Mate named Starbuck, that was actually the name of one ship’s owner. The captain was Pollard, and his bossy First Mate was Owen Chase (who wrote the memoir on which Melville based his whaling epic). He is played by Shawn Reynolds in the film.

Yes, the Essex encountered the largest whale ever seen at the time, and he was old and cranky. Though one expert on the documentary insists that whales are basically docile, some old males can be aggressive. To say the least in this case.

Perhaps he knew what the ship’s purpose was: and it infuriated the whale.  According to the reports, he rammed the ship once until he was nearly unconscious and then came at it again to sink it.

Therein lies a novel by Melville. The whale did his worst, and as a force of the universe, sailed off, leaving his Ishmael on Queequeg’s coffin.

In real life, three small lifeboats fled the scene for a horrific sail for months. They resorted to cannibalism, and ultimately drew lots to murder one of their mates for dinner.

Three men chose to get off at something akin to Gilligan’s Island in mid-Pacific, which would have been our choice too. They survived and were rescued months later.

The cabin boy Thom Nickerson (played by Trevor Ralph in re-enacting scenes) was 14, and he survived to write his memoirs too, but they were not discovered until 1980, hidden in an attic.

Other survivors did not fare well: Owen Chase went mad, and the captain became a night watchman on Nantucket. Melville’s book flopped, and he watched a mountain in the distance from his home in the Berkshires that when white-capped with snow reminded him of Moby Dick.

Blue Book Penultimate Abduction

DATELINE: Blue versus Green Book

nemesis  Gillen & Mularkey.

The series Project Blue Book is heading for the final round-up with an episode on alien abduction. What actually happens is that Blue Book Meets Green Book.

Yes, this is supposed to be a re-telling of the Betty and Barney Hill abduction in 1961. It is so far off that even the year is wrong: the episode takes place in 1951.

Also, professional Barney Hill in this series comes off as a crazed, hostage-taking madman who happens to be black. The real Barney was nothing like this TV version, except that he was kidnapped and lost time. His wife is not with him for the encounter, and he draws the map of the universe that Barney’s wife actually recalled for scientists.

Even more peculiar, the show features Captain Quinn in his most unpleasant demeanor yet: we don’t recall a protagonist who exhibits racism as in this episode.

Granted, it might be part of the times, but Hynek is horrified by Quinn’s lack of care about a black man. Well, Quinn has a lack of care about everyone.

In one marvelous moment, the wife of the abductee takes Quinn down a peg. The moment is priceless, and the female soldier next to Quinn gives him such a look as to make everything worth it.

Project Blue Book is wrapping up, but the use of subtle racism echoes the Best Picture, Green Book, because the military headquarters of the project would not be a friendly spot for people of color, or aliens for that matter. The Russian spy/lesbian subplot has gone off its rocker as well.

Dr. Hynek (Aiden Gillen) finally has enough of the arrogant Air Force captain—and they literally come to blows in this episode. High time.

The series conclusion cannot come fast enough, likely with Harry Truman as a centerpiece, just to go out with historical inaccuracies galore.

Mary Shelley Channels Aspern Papers!

 DATELINE: Another Dark & Stormy Movie

Stormy night Gang sits around on a dark & stormy night!

Someone read the Henry James novella Aspern Papers and found inspiration to make a movie about the real people (Mary, Lord Byron, and Percy Shelley) that were fictionalized for literary movies, but made flesh for a biopic.

Elle Fanning and Douglas Booth make for a beautiful couple of poet Shelley and his young companion Mary Godwin. They are a couple of free-love, free spirits. Throw in the stepsister of Mary (Claire Claremont) who is moved to seduce Lord Byron (Tom Sturridge) who greets Shelley with a kiss on the lips. Here we have the roots of The Aspern Papers.

It’s all the more intriguing because about ten years ago a lost manuscript of Claire was discovered in which she unloaded on the Romantic poets for their cruel attitudes.

This movie features Mary Shelley keeping her husband’s love letters and poems, savoring them. Of course, it was Claire who lived until 1879 and might have inspired Henry James to write his nasty novella about the mystery behind the free-love advocates.

The Shelleys meet Byron around the same time that Mary becomes fascinated with galvanism or electrifying dead bodies to bring them back to life.

The biopic is flavorful and masterly filmed, even giving us the dark and stormy night that Byron challenged them to write a ghost story. Dr. Polidori writes the first true vampire novel, and Mary writes Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus.

No one believes either was capable of such a feat—and their works were at first attributed to Shelley and Byron, respectively.

Byron comes across as a sniveling snake in this film, and Shelley is the whoremaster Mary’s father accuses him of being.

If you want to see the real Aspern Papers that Henry James alluded to in his covert way, this may be it.

 

 

 

Really Antony & Cleo

DATELINE: Streaming & Steamy History

Octavian Richard Dempsey

Richard Dempsey as Octavian!

A real surprise is a British documentary a few years ago, now on Amazon Prime for free, called The Real Antony and Cleopatra.

Imagine a British doc that never mentions the Shakespearean plays, nor quotes from them. Instead, we have a series of experts and scholars sitting on a stuffed Roman chaise lounge, somewhat uncomfortably. No, they do not recline as they drop morsels and bombs about the famous duo.

Did we say duo? It’s almost like the casting crisis of the 1963 Joe Mankiewicz movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.  Rex Harrison felt slighted and left out, and he sued the studio to add his image to the suitors around the bed of Cleopatra.

The Egyptian queen was fond of murdering her younger brothers, and she was really Greek, descendant of Ptolemy. As an attractive 20-year old, she seduced the 50-year old Julius Caesar and later Marc Antony.

Cleopatra was all you might expect. She was a showgirl who knew how to stage publicity stunts better than Jussie Smollett. And, she was “attractive,” meaning she made the most of her plain looks. She was fluent with tongues (speaking six) and apparently used the tongue talent too in the boudoir.

Romans were aghast at Cleopatra’s morals, which may tell you something, considering the loose attitudes of the Romans.

As if to prove her sexuality, she had one child by Caesar and two more by Antony. He had a mixed manhood, being thought of as nearly exclusively homosexual, unless political marriage was involved. This film also lets you know he was well-endowed both on and off the battlements.

The real surprise here is the delightful re-enactors. Marina Morgan flashes eyeshadow as well as Miss Taylor, but the real delight here is young Octavian. He reportedly slept with Julius too in order to be adopted as a nephew.  As a 19-year old rival to Antony, Richard Dempsey is the golden-haired boy.

Octavian outmaneuvers Cleopatra militarily, but her symbolic death by snake bite left Augustus Octavian the one with the punctured ego.

This is an off-beat historical documentary that will tantalize all the fake news you learned from Hollywood Cleopatras.

 

 

 

 

 

Oak Island Die Hard and Dye Harder

DATELINE: Approach/Avoidance

95-years Amazing Dan Blankenship!

We are at episode 15 of the sixth season with the Curse of Oak Island, and we are still going strong. Each season is longer, and our patience is growing thinner.

Shake, rattle, and rolling, the Money Pit sink hole will be stabilized, presumably, and filled in to be able to continue boring down.

However, this week’s big info is that lidar off Oak Island may have discovered some entrances or openings under the ocean. The gang, including Alex Lagina and mysteriously returned Peter Fornetti, join Marty to hear the findings. That thread was quickly dropped to begin another dye job.

Several years ago, the brainstorm was to use green dye to see if there were drains leading to the treasure vault. Green did not mix well with water, making it impossible to see.

This time the hunters will use red dye (not sure if it’s #2, or the blend often used in Rick Lagina’s hair).

Incompetence was again blamed on the island curse when hoses tangled as water was sent into bore holes with the red dye.

To everyone’s pleasant surprise, 95-year old Dan Blankenship drove up in his golf cart to take a look at the activity. When he tried this stuff, he did it on a shoestring (figuratively). Now there are drones that has to amaze him as fly-over inspections monitor the island for red dye.

However, it is old Gary Drayton who spots a rusty color water appearing out of nowhere. Marty Lagina wants to be the kibosh, but chemical testing of the colored water indicates the dye has seeped to Smith’s Cove, proving there is a drain system to booby trap the treasure vault.

Small victories set up the final few weeks of season six.

 

Leaving Neverland & Leaving Innocence Behind

DATELINE: To Bury Jackson

monster

Blog readers, media sycophants, gossip-mongers, and fake news purveyors, listen up:  we buried Michael Jackson years ago with ignominy and pathos. He was a bizarre freak that entertained us for a generation.

Now we learn that the evil of his ways still lives in a documentary produced by HBO called Leaving Neverland. Two young men now claim they were raped daily by Mr. Jackson as pre-adolescent boys.

The good music and fun videos of Michael Jackson are now a quaint recollection in the archives of music history. Perhaps it is time to bury Michael Jackson in a mausoleum of mudslinging.

A steady stream of accusers continues to tell us Michael Jackson was a perverted soul who preyed on children. If true, this was a hideous crime, and Michael Jackson died prematurely and under shameful and ugly circumstances. If you believe that punishment befits a crime, you may want more.

Today we have profiteers of media making money off another cash cow, and we have victims of crimes trying to rest their souls through revenge. And we think that is honorable and necessary for our culture and our souls.

All victims deserve honor and peace to live free of the horrible past. If shouting from Internet and cable rooftops about the dishonorable acts of music man helps, then we surely will hear more allegations and dark secrets.

The good of Michael Jackson has been buried with his Elephant Man bones.

And documentarians insist that we must pay attention and hear their cries because they are honorable defenders of victims. And, the family of the accused can go to court and sue them for $100million for slander.

 

We were fans who paid Michael Jackson a grand amount of money that he used to construct a Neverland, secure and secretive, a façade to hide whatever he wanted.

He deserved privacy for all he gave, said many.

Yet, victims continue to come forward now, using a platform by documentary filmmakers, the new yellow journalists. And, they tell us Michael Jackson was a monster.

When we watched him cavort and moonwalk, did we think he was evil? Were we all so naïve and must we still ignore the truth?

Do we still cry “fake news” every day at what the media and documentarians give us?

According to Leaving Neverland, Jackson seduced young boys with money and attention, using his child-like personality as camouflage for something unspeakable.

The accusations cannot be proved or disproved, but we all once loved his music and entertainment, not without cause.

History may yet rob Michael Jackson of whatever vestige of good his music gave us.

It appears now that he was a brutish beast, not Peter Pan. We have lost any reason to defend him.

Now we should pause because our memories are back in 1980s music videos with Jackson dancing Thriller. It now appears that playing a zombie of horror was only half the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Madonna & W./E. Against Us!

DATELINE: Material Girl Directs!

Andrea Riseborough Andrea Riseborough as Duchess of Windsor!

If you are looking for Madonna in her 2011 movie W./E., you won’t see her. She was behind the camera, directing it.

The film is everything you might expect—and is also totally unexpected. It may seem like Downton Abbey in Material Girl terms, but it is really a solid case of Woody Allen’s Play It Again Sam meeting Henry James and The Aspern Papers.

Two women named Wallis, 70 years apart, have what appears to be a paranormal encounter.  They are unsympathetic protagonists, but what the world hates, Madonna loves.

Back in 2011, the movie was widely castigated by critics as an overreach and under-achievement. Those tuning in to see the iconic woman will see only her stand-ins: the two Wallys.

Now with a few years passed, we can see W./E. as something far more interesting and poorly judged by audiences and the anti-Madonna contingent. The film is beautifully constructed and under-appreciated.

A modern 1998 woman is obsessed with Wallis Simpson and her husband, the one-time King of England.

Here the legendary singer stretched her wings to make a film about a woman researching the legendary love affair of the exiled Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Wallis advises her modern counterpart, as both women are rapacious and obsessive.

Madonna seems intent on showing the Duchess of Windsor sacrificed far more than her husband.

In Madonna’s hands, this tale becomes a curious parallel to the Henry James story called The Aspern Papers. The conceit is that Wallis Simpson has left some letters that explain the affair in more comprehensive terms of the 21st century. It seems the King may not have given up the throne for the woman he loved exactly as advertised. He made his wife a glamorous prisoner.

Madonna’s modern woman is flawed greatly, intense and refusing to be denied: much like the Duchess of Windsor and the Madonna of music.

Intriguing Abbie Cornish is the modern Wally, and Andrea Riseborough is the brilliant version of the Duchess Wally. This is a fascinating film on many levels. You need to re-discover it.

Project Blue Book Plays Games

 DATELINE:  Bye-bye Birdie

Dead Birds  It’s raining dead birds!

Episode called “War Games” reportedly occurred during the Korean War when United States soldiers in a training mission claimed to be attacked by UFO lights. They suffered trauma, both physical and mental.

This is the premise of episode eight of the miniseries Project Blue Book. Where this is headed remains as mysterious as the weekly lights in the sky.

Of course, our intrepid and at-odds duo of oddball detective investigators are called in by their general bosses to solve the mystery. Captain Quinn and Professor Hynek continue to bicker over everything.

Neal McDonough as the house villain is given a bit more to do this time around, demanding that his investigators come up with answers and how to kill these threats to America. The men behind Project Blue Book cover ups even discuss the nuclear option.

One deranged soldier eschews protocol with the general officers, but he is cracking up and heating up. He seems to blow out the light bulbs above and heat the cup of coffee he holds. Yup, those aliens seem to be here.

Mike Malarkey has taken to barking orders at his professorial nemesis Aiden Gillen, who continues to ignore him. Their routine seems to have a begrudging respect, but who can really say?

The Hitchcock Birds seem to dominate this episode when the two men encounter flocks of starlings that do somersaults in midair where the platoon was attacked. Then, abruptly, in a “rain” of terror, dead birds pelt the two researchers.

We immediately thought of the CIA experiments with LSD on unsuspecting soldiers during the 1950s. Though this is never mentioned, it fits the final conclusion of our intrepid heroes.