Death on 8 Legs

 DATELINE: Ouch!

A documentary on scorpions is not for the faint of heart.

With 1500 different species, these venomous biters are among the most feared insects—and not just by humans. They are prolific in desert, jungle, dry and wet country. Scorpions: Death on Eight Legsis how disaster strikes in small ways.

Though they can kill a horse in five minutes with a bite, they only have enough venom to last one bite every two weeks or so. You could luck out.

Unwary mammals who are nocturnal can find themselves bitten. Little mice might run, but cardiac arrest will soon stop them in their tracks.

These creatures are, we learned, photophobic: the vampires of the insect world. They must hide, not from heat, but from radiation in sunlight. Shade, caves, old shoes, anything that can give them refuge will be sought—and makes your old boot something to be shaken before inserting foot.

Scorpions are cannibalistic; they will suck the life out of anything, including their family members. Their natural enemies are hedgehogs (who chew with care) and the ever-threatening praying mantis.

The documentary is narrated by a Brit named Stephen Martin with funeral irony and understatement. And, one of the highlights is a fight between a yellow scorpion and a black one in Africa. Their armor makes a fight to death not an easy kill, and they seem particularly incensed by their own kind.

One re-enactment is showing how Bedouin campers are potential victims. Cutting open the bite may help bleed out, but not often enough. Sweating profusely, foaming at the mouth, and great discomfort usually precede your nervous system shutting down and your heart going into arrest.

Sex for scorpions is a 400-million-year dance in which a truce is called for perhaps a few hours. Babies are protected and stay on mother’s back for several weeks before going off into the darkness.

We are glad we don’t usually see any scorpions.

 

 

 

 

Patriots Receive Their Come-Uppance!

DATELINE: The Empire Collapses 

 

Many Patriot haters have waited 20 years for the moment. The parallel in history may be the Fall of the Roman Empire: the barbarians are at the gate, and Belichick and Brady are fleeing the chaos.

The Mighty Patriots have struck out.
There is no joy in Mudville or Foxboro. The Pats have lost their bye week—and probably their souls.
If anyone is stunned by the Dolphins beating the Pats, you have not been paying attention. For weeks now Tom Brady has been playing like a man who will be at quarterback until he is 50—in the sandlot league.
Bill Belichick is like one of the Magnificent Ambersons: he is receiving his come-uppance.His vaunted defense looked like Swiss cheese and most of his players will leave in free agency. Even Brady is expected to go out with a bang elsewhere.
History runs in cycles, and the Patriots have been top dog for a couple of decades, but now they are heading back to the rubbish pile years of the 1970s. They may spend the next two decades as outliers in the AFC.
We expect that Josh McDaniels and Julian Edelman will jump ship. Already the Florida authorities are emboldened to file new felony charges against owner Robert Kraft for human trafficking, however preposterous that seems.
Now they will feel Miami is on a roll.
On the eve of an ice storm in New England, the New England Pats may be entering a new Ice Age. The berg has hit their flank—and the unsinkable franchise has sprung a leak.
About 20 members of the team are ready for free agency—and don’t let the door hit your rear on the way out.
Don’t cry for the Patriots, Argentina. Tom will be playing there next season.

Brady Leaves New England with No Sentiment

DATELINE:  Finger of Choice?

In case you were wondering about Tom Brady leaving his “home” of 20 years, he told us: “I’m not the nostalgic type.” Goodbye, Gillette. And rotsa ruck.

The sound you heard is Jim Morrison singing “This is the End,” from a vandalized cemetery in Paris. The cacophony of noise is the Flying Elvis fallen from Graceland.

Tom Brady is gone.

We keep wondering how Boston sports media can twist this heartless slam into something not negative. We know fans are imbeciles and won’t see the insult, but you do have to recognize that the media birds eat the crumbs left by the management of the Patriots and the NFL.  Bill Belichick has won: he will unload Brady and Krafty will let him. That kiss on the cheek is right out of the Judas Iscariot playbook.

They also have to make “friends” with those athletes who hate their guts to make it seem like it’s all a fun game. It isn’t. You hear it more nowadays: it’s a business.

And with that, Tom Brady basically told New England fans to go and shove it. He never was a Bostonian or a New Englander: this was the place he worked, and now that he may not work here any longer, he’s headed for a better place.

May he rest in peaceful retirement.

But we think he is returning to the circus of the West Coast where Hollywood is a leap-frog away—and his model wife can bask in the limelight with her billion dollars. He may finally earn enough in the next three or four years to buy the franchise of his dreams.

Tom Brady has no love for the Patriots anymore: the affair is over, and you likely can blame Belichick for making it a most unpleasant few years. Those six Super Bowl rings were never meant for New England. They are worn on his fingers—not yours.

He is leaving you only one finger. Pick-six indeed.

Pride Goes Before the NBA Tacko Fall

DATELINE: Fall in Love?

 Tacko!

The NBA and even Coach Brad Stevens of the Celtics are horrified. Tacko Fall, who has played eleven garbage time minutes, is #6 in All-Star Voting, just barely behind his teammate, the talented and star-like Jayson Tatum.

Fall has risen quickly because he is 7’ 6” tall and has sparked delirium whenever he steps out in public.

When you lead the Boston Pops on its holiday musical concert for Christmas, you are heading in the direction of taking the place of Gronk in the hearts of Boston sports fans.

Let’s face it: Gronk has left a void in the sports world with his retirement.

There is a vacancy for sure. But, we were not counting on Tacko is taking the entire nation by storm.

There are unhappy NBA folks because the popular vote is like voting for President of the United States. There is an electoral college to counterbalance the inane and insane fan support for players.

There goes the fan respect of the NBA who charges people large prices for attending a game, but allows people to vote endlessly and often for their favorite players. So, someone has uncovered the flaw in the system.

Now embarrassed by their mal-constructed voting for all-stars, there is is not much they can do with public opinion saying they want Tacko at the All-Star game to see a human freak in the flesh.

Heaven help us if Tacko starts spiking the basketball. He simply reaches up to swat away any ball heading for a swish.

Boston Celtics Dynamic Duo

DATELINE: Young Guns

The Boston Celtics have a problem: it is a nickname to be applied to their young tandem 30-points each in a game stars. We haven’t felt a giddy issue in the Celtic world since we heard Larry Bird isn’t walking through that door.

The Celtics are no longer looking to trade one or both: you can tell that from the new public relations spots in Boston that urge fans to vote them as teammates to the All-Star squad.

The big problem is their nickname: for past vainglorious stars like Bird and McHale or Russell and Heinsohn, nicknames were superfluous. But social media and youth must be served. Young fans want to label their new generation of superstars for the upcoming decade.

Originally Jalen Brown wanted to call themselves 7-11. Open all night, or something, but Jayson immediately changed his number from 11  to 0.  Such are the results of testosterone and competition.

Jayson once said he would be Brown’s trainer for free if he no longer had an NBA career. His pay: a room in Jalen’s big house, which appalled Jalen.

Scary Terry Rozier thought they were simply two annoying youngsters.

They are not your average Batman and Robin.

To their teammates, they are simply JT and JB. And, they are a new version of Bird and McHale, who also never had nicknames, and also had a rather contentious intra-team rivalry: their mutual glue was Danny Ainge, which may be the same factor today.

When McHale scored 50 points one night, Bird said in laconic fashion, “It’s not enough,” and promptly went out and scored  more points a week later, leaving McHale with a record setting for one week.

Some contend they have never seen Jayson pass the ball to Jalen. Perhaps that’s strictly a metaphor. They are two of the most unassuming, quiet, soft-spoken types you would ever meet. They are not flashy or overwhelming in any public way.

It’s difficult to come up with resonating naicknames for two who speak softly and carryi big balls.

We don’t like Triple Double 0-7, and we don’t like Green Jays.

They seem to accept Kid ‘n Play as something workable. They are too accommodating. We still don’t know who’s the kid sidekick.

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To Be Taken by Takei

DATELINE: Across Culture and Sexual Stereotypes

George pulls an Errol Flynn Moment on Star Trek!

You have known him as the original Sulu on Star Trek since 1966. George Takei is as familiar as an old shoe. His autobio- documentary is To Be Takei.

Yet, his life is both moving and horrifying. As a child he was sent to several Japanese camps in Arkansas because his family was deemed disloyal and dangerous. He was subjected to an American concentration camp—and though embittered, never let it ruin his life.

Howard Stern’s radio program gave him a voice outside his acting—and made him an activist in the gay rights scene. He was in the closet until 2005 when he charged out and married his 20-year companion Brad Altman.

The little bio is filled with clips of his performances—from Twilight Zone to Rodan (voice-over) to costarring with John Wayne in The Green Berets. His family supported his acting career, but felt he would be typecast and given limited roles. He appears to have transcended the Asian stereotype while becoming the new Franklin Pangborn.

There are surprises, of course: Leonard Nimoy genuinely liked and respected him—and the animosity between Takei and Shatner is beyond uncomfortable. We don’t know what put these two into feud mode, but there it is in this film at every turn.

If the life-story tends to focus considerably on his life partner, it is understandable—as they fought for gay marriage in California. They ran into hostile people like Schwarzenegger, but George also won over Ronald Reagan to win restitution for the Japanese Americans who suffered in camps during World War II.

His busy life continues with no end in sight. To be Takei is to be a show biz dynamo/dreidel. He continues to spin and provide everyone with a big charge.

 

 

 

 

Armstrong: Your Perfect All-American Boy

DATELINE: Perfect Choice

  First Man!

Why watch a docudrama about the life of Neil Armstrong? You can see his home movies and watch him in newsreel footage. The extraordinary documentary called Armstrong presents a most intriguing man you never knew.

In fact, no one seemed to know him. He was quiet as a church-mouse, reclusive amid a social world of military and popular science.  His friends (so labeled) said he was silent and to himself, meaning they did not know him. They knew only that he was a top-notch aviator, smart and talented.

His siblings could tease him about reading an aeronautics, and he’d smile in response. If anything will strike you about how handsome he was, it is that he was also so young-looking, even at 40 when he went to the Moon.

You will also know that Neil Armstrong would never participate in any fraud or coverup. He was mid-Western American honest, like Abe Lincoln. He went to the Moon—and you better believe it.

Harrison Ford, no less, speaks the words of Neil. It is a perfect choice, as we hear from Armstrong’s fellow astronauts. Of all, Frank Borman clearly is the one who likes him and admires him most. Even Neil’s youngest son notes his father was “not verbose.”

No, Buzz Aldrin declined to participate in this documentary.

He was a Korean War hero who saw death up close and remained shaken and stoic to the world. This was a remarkable man. He dismissed comparisons to Columbus with humor: he did not want to end up someplace other than his destrination, as happened to Columbjus.

In one home movie he gives a book by willy Ley to his young son for Christmas. How amusing, as Ley was a friend of Jan Merlin (my frequent coauthor) and cience advisor to  the 1950s science fiction show, Tom Corbett. Ah, connections, third degree.

 

 

 

 

 

Paint Whose Wagon?

DATELINE: Don’t Fence Clint In!

  A couple of song and dance men?

Back in 1969, Clint Eastwood had just returned from his stint on the spaghetti western circuit. He wanted to break molds—and went on Mr. Ed,then made a musical Western. It’s not easy to turn Clint into Tab.

Paint Your Wagonhad credentials to stagger into a gold-digging mode. Josh Logan directed another 1951 classical musical from Broadway. Paddy Cheyevsky (urban TV legend) wrote the screenplay—another unlikely figure out West.

The only true singer in the cast allegedly was Harve Presnell who stops the movie with his stunning rendition of “They Call the Wind Maria.”  Even Logan in his inepti director style could not screw that up.

As far as Clint singing, we had forgotten that in 1962, on the heels of every TV and movie actor with heart-throb fan clubs made a musical album:  as we recall, Sal Mineo, Richard Chamberlain, Tab Hunter, and even Clint Eastwood sang.

The big difference was that Clint’s album of country-western tunes was actually a hit. You need to hear his version of “Don’t Fence Me in.”

Lee Marvin also sings in the style of Rex Harrison—and he is witty and delightful. He also dances cheek-to-cheek with Ray Walston, which certainly puts Fred and Ginger to the test.

The film is an all-male homoerotic gold rush until Jean Seberg shows up: beautiful and damaged. We cannot imagine what off-screen between-takes conversations went on during this production.

There are enough offensive ethnic stereotypes to make this film about as incorrect as any Western of the 1960s. And, in a true 1960s mode, the film is nearly three hours long—really.

If you like surprises and changes of pace, you cannot go wrong with this Western that seems to be the exclamation point and end punctuation to the era of Hollywood westerns.

 

 

 

 

Big Dig and Little Dig on Oak Island

DATELINE: Waiting for Results Again

  Teammates!

Shaft #9 was originally dug in 1865 as a means to divert flood tunnel booby traps. It is a big job requiring the big man Billy. This lost shaft was given up when the group only decades after finding the Money Pit ran out of money. So, we have additional and new background on Curse of Oak Island.

It’s hard to believe they only now mention “The Highlands,” after five years of episodes.

This episode provides contrasts with the smaller discoveries of Gary Drayton, teamed with Peter Fornetti and Alex Lagina.  Fornetti is no longer the callow teenager of five years ago and now provides muscle for Gary Drayton’s searches. He is working on piles of dirt that render iron work from Spanish galleons that may have been laden with the treasure of the Aztecs.

Though Marty Lagina once disparaged the notion of Montezuma’s gold bags, he is enthralled when journalist D’Arcy O’Connor tells him the same thing. He adds that the Spanish lost about 200 ships going back and forth with gold spoils. Some may have gone sideways to Oak Island to hide their stolen loot.

Gary Drayton, meanwhile, has found a cribbing spike, greatly corroded. He and Alex take it to Carmen Legge, the latest expert to become a big man on the side of the search. He dates the find as 1600s.

The other big project is setting off 18,000 dynamite charges to map the underground, down to levels of 300 feet. The tease is that results won’t show for several weeks.

Interestingly, Marty Lagina was mostly absent from this episode, showing up on Skype mostly, which hints that he is busy working on the sister series of Civil War Gold.The team of Gary and Alex likely will show up on that one too.

One Last Addendum for Quinto’s Season

DATELINE:  Voice-over Satire? 

 …of a Big Paycheck!

 

Sometimes you see or hear celebrities in the least expected places—or exactly where you thought you would hear one.

While watching the Celtics play a game on the local sports channel, we thought we saw a commercial for the Quinto series In Search of…

Apparently we were ignorant of the fact that Zachary Quinto is a frequent endorser of products, often in voice-over. However, we think he has not done such an overt parody of his own TV host persona.

Yes, those dulcet tones were talking over the image of an asteroid heading to Earth. Quinto spoke with his deadpan authority about how the world likely was to end around 2023 with doomsday because of an asteroid. Only a week earlier he had hosted the final season episode about the subject.

However, as we watched an asteroid hurtling toward the planet, Quinto reveals that we can buy furniture –all interest free until 2023 or the rest of our lives!

Stunning.

Apparently you can watch sports events not only to see your favorites sitting in the stands, or courtside (Gronk was there enjoying the game, and not dancing with the Celtics cheerleaders).

Watch and listen carefully for what you may hear and see.

 

  

 

 

Captain Kidd Returns to Upstage A&C

DATELINE: Unexpected Slapstick

  Laughton & Costello!

Almost ten years after his low-budget pirate on the bounding sea as Captain Kidd and 20 years after Bligh’s Mutiny on the Bounty, Charles Laughton jumped at the chance to reprise Captain Kidd. He had also the opportunity to reprise Henry VIII in a movie with Bette Davis as his daughter, Queen Elizabeth. They famously greeted each other as “Father,” and “Daughter,” off screen too.

Now, the irascible Laughton would poke fun at himself and his performance as Captain Kidd confronting scene-stealer emeritus Lou Costello. Perhaps that was the true challenge for Laughton and his Oscar-level talent. He was about to show he could play vaudeville with the best of them.

Abbott & Costello Meet Captain Kidd was another in a long series of features in which the comic duo came across monsters of cinema, historical figures, and pratfalls of comedy.

Dignity knows nothing of being a performer with an audience eating out of their backhand of talent. Laughton was a comedian at heart and could steal a scene before Costello could roll an eye.

We were surprised at how many pratfalls Lou Costello gave. Any barrel he hid within was blown up. The big surprise was Laughton: he took the falls without a stuntman. Chairs were pulled out from under him and he plopped onto the floor, and he fell face first into sand in another. It was noteworthy.

If ever there was something unseemly, it was that this comic version of 1953 was in Technicolor, which was never the case for the earlier Laughton masterpieces. If there was a silver lining on the silver screen of the 1950s, it was that garish color fit the bill. There were plenty of explosions among the song and dance routines.

If ever there was a chance to make a side-trip to Oak Island and bury a treasure, this little pirate satire gave us a vision of outright lunacy. A map in the opening credits could be Oak Island.

You start off with a musical introduction to Laughton as the crew sings and dances on their ship, and Kidd sneers at the mention of women. Yup, Laughton had to love this.

We were mostly appalled.

 

 

 

 

 

Waiters & Other High-Flying Panic Attacks

DATELINE: NBA Twits

 File Under Inept Waiters!

Now and then we follow NBA nitwits on and off the court. We seldom follow Miami Heat anywhere, but when Dion Waiters criticized coach Spoelstra and ingested designer drugs making for a panic attack whilst flying with the team, we took notice.

He’s coming to Boston to play after a suspension worth a couple of million bucks. Maybe he can earn the money back by waiting on tables and receiving tips.  We offer our tip right here.

Dion sang an apology to teammates and coaching brain-trust that sounds all the world like a statement from his agent/attorney axis. After all, fines and suspension took money and food out of their wallets and open mouths.

We know from the spellcheck that Dion Waiters never wrote that apology. Some low-paid minion earned his keep.

No one wants to provide real details about imbeciles, lest they be accused of discriminating against drug users and people with bad judgment. We are fearless in that regard.

When we meet a body walking through the rye, we know it’s a kind of Scottish whiskey on his breath.

We doubt that Waiters would be a winner on a team that contained players Bron, Wade, and Bosh. When you put a fly in the oinment, you mainly change the chemistry.

The rain in Spain does not always fall on the plain, no matter what apology/tune Dion sings, and we think as an ordinary waiter Waiters would spill our wry rye all over our spellcheck. Especially at 37,000 feet above the court at American Airlines Arena. It’s no slam dunk from outside the arc/ark.

Oak Island Treasure Map Revealed!

DATELINE:  Cartography Lunacy

 Skull Island

                             

Templar Island                                   Oak Island

Can it be possible that Abbott and Costello found the treasures of Oak Island with Charles Laughton?

In 1952’s silly trifle about Captain Kidd, the Oscar-winning actor (Laughton, not Costello) owns an island where he has buried treasure and loot, though it is not stated whether the Ark of the Covenant, Spanish dubloons, or Montezuma’s coffin, are among the pickings.

We feel like the Money Pit is within reach!

For reasons beyond ridiculous, Lou Costello manages to confiscate the map and then must be abducted to lead the way to the treasure on the island.

Only a funny thing happened on the way to Skull Island…no, it did not belong to King Kong. It was, in fact, a copy of the notorious Templar map of 1398 that happens to resemble the actual island off Nova Scotia.

Back in the 1950s, long before the Lagina brothers bought the island and made it a hit TV series, it was known as a pirate lair with secrets. Among those interested were President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, swashbuckler Errol Flynn, and cowboy John Wayne. Also interested was Vincent Astor whose father died on the Titanic.

Is this someone’s idea of a joke? It is funny beyond Montezuma’s revenge.

 

Fox Investigates Hen House: Nunes Corruption !

DATELINE: Human Scum Devin Nunes!

With news that Republican House investigator Devin Nunes met with an indicted Ukrainian front man for Trump may not be all that shocking. This is the man who keeps complaining Democrats have been caught trying to locate nude photos of Trump in Moscow with prostitutes. Now, he has been caught with his fingers on the cookies in the jar.

This is the man who showed his true colors when he declined to give a war hero his due by using his title of Lt. Colonel during impeachment hearings last week.

Nunes apparently traveled to Vienna after Democrats won the elections last year for the House of Representatives. He was working on behest of Trump to call on Ukrainians to investigate Mr. Biden.

Now one of the indicted Ukrainians wants to testify that the fox is leading the investigation into the hen house.

You could say Fox News is leading the investigation into the House of Representatives. There may not be much difference.

To call indicted foreign nationals working for Trump and donating to his campaign—could cause Nunes a bit of discomfort. This alleged representative of the people also has hired a Trump aide to be his aide after they went on this fact-finding trip together.

Nunes refuses to discuss, admit, or confirm, any of this, though travel records show that he went to Europe on a secret mission. This man one led the Intelligence Committee which could be the greatest oxymoron of the Trump impeachment.

Trump’s lapdog has growled at every witness during the hearings—making outrageous statements in defense of Trump’s bribery phone call to the President of the Ukraine.

There is no recusal from snakes in the grass. There is no excuse to protect Devin Nunes from himself.

 

Ghost of Bogart

DATELINE: Not Again? 

  Jerry Lacy as Bogey

We went back in our time machine to the time machine of 1972 who brought us back to 1942. It is Play It Again, Sam,which features Humphrey Bogart advising Woody Allen.

No, Sam never appears once yet again, even in the actual film clips from the movie Casablanca. Dooley Wilson seems to be discriminated against. He sings part of “As Time Goes By,” at film’s end.

This astral route brought us face to face with legendary tough-guy star, Humphrey Bogart. He returned in 1972 in the guise of Jerry Lacy, an impersonator who had a decade of roles as the iconic man in trench coat with Borsalino.

Alas, to see Bogart’s best scenes in Casablanca, you had to endure Woody Allen as Allen Felix, movie critic before the Internet and blogs, who adores Bogie and has an apartment decorated like a 1942 teenage boy. Those collectibles are worth big bucks today.

Though Allen wrote and starred in this vehicle, it was directed by Herbert Ross which gives it some grounding as a ghost story.

The appearances of Bogart dispensing advice to nudnik Allen is appalling, as he speaks sexist and violent attitudes that he never expressed in his movies or real life a generation earlier. If you see this film as homage to Bogart’s Rick and his romance with Ilsa, you have been sold a bill of goods by shyster Allen.

The film comes alive when Bogart and/or Lacy appear, and the film goes down the chute when Allen’s nutcase New Yorker takes center screen.

The Sam “again” part has more to do with Allen re-enacting the Rick role with Bergman in a climactic scene. This was before Allen became Bergman (Ingmar, not Ingrid).

Diane Keaton and Tony Roberts take on thankless roles in Allen’s world, which Keaton was able to transcend by slipping over to The Godfather at the same time she did this film. Roberts and Lacy were not as lucky.

Though the Bogey ghost appears with more frequency in the final 30 minutes, it is not enough to save the story from itself.

Whether Bogey conjures his personality as a dream, an hallucination, or the actual spirit of a movie icon, may be in the eyes of the beholder. We like to think Lacy channeled the real star, but taking it in again decades later, we see this is not a ghost, but a frightful excuse for Allen to behave badly and perform even worsely.