One Fictional Night

Bill Russell Joins Ali & Brown 3 Years Later

 DATELINE: One Night in Miami

Upon hearing that a storyline made into a one-set play and thence a movie concerned a one-night meeting of Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown, all black men in the early 1960s on the cusp of change in civil rights for oppressed people, it’s hard to believe. It sounds like a fantasy of historical fiction.

Yet, it really happened.

The opening of the movie is not part of the original play and historical theories, though based on fact. The director Regina King had to open it up with white actors.

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had his bugs planted to listen in on a hotel room chat among these men in February of 1964.  It’s hard to believe they even knew each other or would have anything to say to the other. Yet, they did.

In fact, Muhammad Ali (not yet Cassius X) was a close friend of Sam Cooke. They truly hit it off:  an intellectual who read avidly like Cooke would seem to be swayed by the egotistic charm of Clay, but they had a kind of fame and cultural tie.

The training camp of Ali, he would attract the attention of Malcolm X and/or football star Jim Brown. Yet, it did, but the movie broadens the tale to include white hangers-on like Johnny Carson

Would a gospel Christian like Cooke even speak to a Muslim? Well, Cooke had been called the devil for singing pop tunes, and it would not be a big reach to be condemned for cavorting with a Muslim.

Would men whose personal ego and self-absorption in their careers be even remotely interested in anything larger? Well, segregation and racism would be a factor.

We suspect that Hoover had a detailed transcript of the discussion these men held: whatever fanciful chat that derives from the play/movie.  Two would be dead within a year, and one would become a political controversy. Was Hoover’s unseen hand involved? This story doesn’t say.

The film blatantly ignores Jim Brown’s assault history on women, which could also be a Hoover set-up, but this is not explored.

Only Brown still lives, having gone into movies (Ali later followed).  We suspect Cooke would have been a bigger star than all of them had he not been murdered (assassinated for black power over-reach?).

The movie is akin to a stereotype acting job, broad as a Marx brothers farce anchored in political doom. It’s ironic and iconic, but we’d rather see J. Edgar Hoover’s actual transcript of the night they all met.

On Jan. 22, Sam Cooke would have celebrated his 90thbirthday.

Classic Celebrity Commercials

Hi-yo, Pizza Roll!

DATELINE: Olde TV Bad Habit 

Back in 2013 there was another compilation of “hucksters,” from advertisements and commercials on TV in the mid to late 1950s. It seems a bit unfair to call these old stars “hucksters,” as appearing at the end of their series or show (often in character) to sell a product was just a means of enhancing their income.

This delightful collection is a bit tiresome. Who wants to sit through one hour of commercials, even in fun?

A couple of points are particularly distressing. Most of the commercials were done in black and white, and most of them actually run for a full sixty seconds, which is maddening in our attention deficit age.

In particular, Steve Allen takes a Polaroid photo of Lou Costello and we actually wait while Steve talks for sixty seconds for him to show us the newly developed photo.

Yet, the compilation also features some fun moments and images we’ve never seen:  John Wayne sells Christmas Seals on set, and his director really is Wild Bill Wellman!

We were thrilled to hear the William Tell Overture selling some Jeno pizza rolls—and at the end of the commercial, in color no less, Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels show up in costume as the Lone Ranger and Tonto.

One funny bit features a color King Kong climbing off the Empire State building and driving off down the avenue in his king-size car. He puts his little blonde companion in the passenger seat.

Almost as stunning is to see Marilyn Monroe in full throttle, selling gasoline.

A montage of TV western stars of the era each smokes a different cigarette. We almost want to cry out to stop, please!

Leo G. Carroll as Topper smokes too, as do his ghosts, Anne Jeffreys and Robert Sterling as Marian and George Kirby.

We also see James Arness smoking away with Today Show host Jack Lescoulie! We had not seen him in fifty years.

Quite a collection.

 

 

 

 

Oak Island More Interesting Than Ever

Bootie of Columbus?

 DATELINE:  1492 Across the Ocean Blue

 As we dig deeper into the eighth season, the missing members of the show have returned: Alex Lagina and his cousin Peter are back searching through spoils piles.

No word on why they were absent for two weeks. But immediately Alex finds a piece of leather in the shape of a boot heel. Prominent suddenly is the newest member of searching, Michael John, a black man, as the show finally accedes to some racial balance after being all-white for eight years.

The last veteran is also present, Dan Henskee. And, a sop if thrown to the late Dan Blankenship who taught the searchers that you can dunk a piece of wood in a tub of water. If it sinks, it is exceedingly old. If it floats, it’s newer. We surely miss Dan.

Gary Drayton is also again the man of great knowledge and discovery. He gives a yo-ho when he finds a thick piece of glass and tells it is a rum bottle from the late 1600s. He is seldom wrong.

Drs. Spooner and Brousseau are again called in to give opinions—and the dating of items, nails, spikes, odd latches, seem to grew more distant in the past. It seems major work by large work crews occurred hundreds of years previously—and largely done in secret.

We are talking about depositers of treasure, not seekers.

There is almost immediate testing and evaluation of the heel leather. It belonged to a richly booted person, likely not a worker. And, shockingly, it could be from the 1492 era.

One of them jokes they found a boot that Columbus wore.

Pascali: No Man an Island

Dance & Kingsley Top of Acting Game!

 DATELINE:   Extraordinary Movie

Over 30 years ago, we missed Pascali’s Island, one of those “think piece” movies that have already become an extinct movie genre. It was too good for Masterpiece Theatre in 1988, and it is too smart for audiences today.

It’s a spy story set in the Ottoman Empire of 1908 where a lowly informer, Pascali (Ben Kingsley), toils without much appreciation, stuck in a backwater.  Into the mix comes a British archaeologist Bowles (Charles Dance) who immediately charms artist Lydia (Helen Mirren). You won’t trust any of them from the earliest moments.

Mirren was not yet big enough to have her name over the film title, but this is a 3 character drama of high order. Performances are stunning, and direction from James Dearden is top-drawer, and you won’t find a more spectacular setting or production.

It’s apparent that a minor functionary spy is in over his head when it comes to stolen antiquities. He knows he is caught in the middle of intrigue with a Pasha who will execute and ask questions later.

The Greeks are ready to overthrow the Sultan and a bloodbath of revolution is ahead for Pascali, though he won’t accept this fate.

Kingsley is marvelous as the man with nightmares, and spying that borders on voyeurism as he watches Dance and Mirren cavort naked. His own peccadilloes entail the Turkish bath boy who resembles, not accidentally, the 2000 year old bronze boy they dig up and plan to steal.

Kingsley is a tortured soul as Pascali works against himself and ultimately must find meaning in meaningless acts of violence. This is a brilliant film, worth waiting thirty years to see. Alas, there will likely be few more in this genre.

The days of moral turpitude being punished may be over in movies, and in life. This movie hales poetic justice .

 

 

 

Lucy & Desi: Together Again

Home Movie

DATELINE: Being the Ricardos 

  With the recent controversy over the casting of a new biographical movie about Lucy and Desi, it seemed like a good time to reconsider daughter Lucie Arnaz’s 1993 documentary about her parents, Lucy & Desi: A Home Movie.

Lucie Arnaz is defending the casting of Nicole Kidman as Lucy and Javier Bardem as Desi. Indeed, we think it is most interesting to see them play the real people during one dramatic week that the couple played the Ricardos.

They are not remaking I Love Lucy.

Back in 1993, Lucie Arnaz directed and produced, interviewed people, collected film clips, and put together a fairly honest and direct look at her famous parents, warts and all. She never received the full commendation she deserved. As she said, her mother was a “pack-rat” and kept all kinds of home movies that Lucie never saw. They were from the decade before the TV show and before the kids arrived.

What can you say about two people who were always “on.” They were the epitome of show biz, but alas, when home, their love story didn’t have a script they could embrace.

Lucy was the Queen of Comedy and pratfall on screen, and she loved being a performer and working. Off-screen she might have given Mommie Dearest, Joan Crawford,  a run for the roses.

 Desi was a talented man of show biz, and even more talented with business acumen, but never came out of the shadows. He loved Lucy too much. Their cultural differences, cute and remarkable, were also their downfall.

Desi’s Latino view of philandering infuriated Lucille Ball, but he was the love of her life. When two titans fall in love and clash, you have a big production called DesiLu, and you have shambles that make for great theater.

The home movies their daughter puts together are stunning and insightful. We suspect the movie docudrama of their lives by Aaron Sorkin will be even more stunning with brilliant actors playing the first great TV stars. We are, of course, most interested in who will play Fred and Ethel in Being the Ricardos. No word yet.

 

 

 

 

Geopolitical Prejudice of COVID

Not for You, Buddy!

 DATELINE:  Wrong State of Being

When your doctor’s office tries to tell you to register for the coronavirus vaccine and realizes they made a mistake, you may be generous enough to overlook it.

In matters of life and death, however, overlooking an attempt to kill you makes you a candidate for the Congress. Every state in New England has a different way to deal with administering the COVID vaccine to senior citizens.

If you live on the border of a state, like New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and your doctor is in the other state, you are likely about to be victimized by ludicrous geopolitical medicine.

Hospitals have put profit over patients. Several doctors at the nearby clinic have quit in disgust over political football with patient lives.

Yes, in New Hampshire Senior Citizens can now register to receive the vaccine. If you live one mile from the border in Massachusetts, you may not be vaccinated until this summer at earliest.

If you are 65 in Massachusetts, you are a dead man walking, but you can walk to the clinic in New Hampshire for your shot. In some states, you can go for an injection and find out they don’t have any vaccine.

And, in incompetent Mass., you may notice that one hospital unplugged the freezer this week, spoiling almost 2000 doses of the vaccine. If your name was on the vial, you are a dead man walking.

If your doctor’s office thinks you are in New Hampshire, you are given a green light to receive the vaccine—until they realize you live in the wrong neighborhood. Talk about a new version of red-lining.

So, a nation divided along lines of COVID treatment is not a unified country. When your neighbor may be protected and you are not, despite being old and having a pre-existing condition, there may not be enough vaccine for you in any respect. Good luck, pal.

 Well, they say it’s only temporary. You will eventually be a recipient of the vaccine. The race unfortunately is between you and infection.  You are now Seabiscuit.

Alas, you may be a dead horse when the injection arrives.

Shatner Looks for Atlantis

Edgar Cayce

 DATELINE: Visionary and Cautionary Tales 

 Every other weekUnXplained gives us chopped liver, but in between we have some gemstones and meaty insights. Will William Shatner’s search for Atlantis, the Lost Continent, fall into the good group, or the stinkeroo group?

Shatner is in fine fettle for the opening, always a good sign as he laces his intro with skepticism. And, the episode starts off with Plato’s “metaphor” that one expert notes has a kernel of historical truth. Well, not usually in poetry, but so much for the experts.

The real fad of Atlantis arose out of the 1880s when Jules Verne science fiction was at its height, and a book about an antediluvian world caught the public fancy. A philosophic allegory became a visionary and cautionary tale.

Reputable archaeologists indicate that many clues from Plato indicate that the word “island” has been misinterpreted: it means peninsula, and that leads them to the coast of Spain and Portugal where layers of methane indicate many dead bodies deep under ground.

However, Edgar Cayce had a different take: his visions indicated that Atlantis was located in the Caribbean and has since become the many disjointed islands. He thought it was destroyed by self-used crystal death rays. It sounds like Tesla lived there.

There is also a consideration that the Atlanteans were hybrid extra-terrestrials with both paranormal skills and technological genius.

Shatner saves his best wild attitude for the final push: that Atlantis was a community of space aliens. But, the final note is that Walt Disney planned EPCOT as a concentric utopian Atlantis.

Lauren Boebert: Nutcase in Congress

Packing Heat is Not Hot

DATELINE: Not Annie Oakley

Treason by any other name is a crime for more than a few enablers of riotous sedition koo-koo birds. Rep. Boebert claims she only gave tours to her “family,” when all tours were banned. It seems her family is an off-shoot of the Manson Family. Her tours included would-be rioters whom she still shields.

An investigation will likely lead to her expulsion from Congress.

This woman is packing heat. She refuses to give up her concealed pistol, hidden either in her bra strap or pocketbook. We haven’t heard of a search yet as she dodges the metal detectors. Broebart insists that her gun will protect her if deranged Biden supporters storm the Capitol.

Don’t confuse her with another female sharp-shooter who finds her company among Cowboys for Trump. No, this is the GOP grandstander who is accused of giving reconnaissance tours to the potential rioters. Yes, she told them where the key offices can be found.

Next day, sure as shooting, the insurgents went looking for Speaker Pelosi. Her hidden location was not kept secret for long, as Boebert tweeted out to protesting and murderous Trump thugs that she was on the move. 

She spells her name differently every time we type it. Broebart, Brobert, Broebert, Broebart, alias is a good way to get elected on write-in ballots.

You guessed it:  Broebart kept them informed on Pelosi’s whereabouts in case the necktie party turned into a moveable feast.

She doesn’t like being called an accessory to murder. Yeah, it doesn’t sound like voters will go for it as a campaign slogan.

Who is this frosh representative with all the aplomb of a Middle Eastern terrorist?  It’s Lauren Boebart who matches up on any website looking for partners for Benedict Arnold.

Is there a congressional committee on expulsion by firing squad?

 

 

 

Book Review:  Edison Versus Tesla

Mr. Not-Nice Guy

DATELINE:  Pro-Edison, Anti-Tesla

The co-author of this work is William Birnes whom you may remember as the older member of the UFO Hunters TV series a few years back.

Now he has put his name on a work that describes itself in subtitle as the “Battle” over their last invention. Whatever this book presents, the real Edison was not a nice person. You will not know that from this book.

How about a little truth in advertising? Or at least in titles?  There is no battle,  and it isn’t really Tesla’s last invention.  So, what have we got here?

The book is a hagiography to Edison, and sells Tesla a bit short, noting he feared having people aware of his paranormal and clairvoyant abilities. Edison privately believed that Tesla had found a radio frequency that transmitted ethereal voices.

Tesla undercut this by claiming he was receiving signals from Mars—or some inter-dimensional location.

Edison did not believe in spiritualism, rapping poltergeists or any of that stuff:  he did believe that electrons lived forever.

If Tesla could do it, Edison wanted to create a receiver for electrons and conscious energy. He wanted to measure unusual messages. He did believe that memory survived death—and that traumatic memory might be quite strong. The inventor wanted a device to increase the volume of sound waves.

Their vocabulary has been updated: Tesla likely knew of EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) and Edison was into quantum entanglements.

The book could have been a pamphlet, but does contain nuggets that are fascinating. Edison awoke on his death bed from a deep coma to tell people he saw an afterlife, and promptly died.

 

 

 

 

Oak Island Teases Again

Ersatz Gold

DATELINE:  Missing in Action 

If there is any major development in the 11thepisode of the season, it is that there is a reference to the likely deterioration of weather ahead. Yes, another season os summery digging is about over. The Curse of Oak Island may be one for the books.

What has emerged in the recent episode is a continued absence of major figures. There has been another week with no direct appearance of Marty and Alex Lagina, nor Peter Fornetti. It is about the length of time for a quarantine. They’d never tell you that detail.

 

The two doctors, Ian Spooner and Aaron Taylor, have taken up major roles as advisors again this week.

Most of the on-site work has been hosted by Rick Lagina and the supporting workers. Marty shows up in a later filmed narrative analysis.

A growing chorus of responders keep asking us about Dave Blankenship, but he is gone for good, bought out by the Laginas and sent packing.  Nor is cartographer Erin Helton mentioned this week.

We spend much time again in the boring down to 180 feet where splinters of wood should not be. There is talk (again) of being near the money pit, with Money Bags 1 and 2 giving approval to dig.

Gary Drayton again is central to the discoveries of the week: a mysterious gold colored knob from a chest of drawers. Gary contends it belonged to a ship’s captain, and there is nothing to disprove his usual insight.

He later discovers a large post buried in the swamp with two massive spikes. It is a dock for a major ship.

In your usual disappointing news, the serpent mound is dismissed finally as a rubble field. Yet, the night’s show has been eventful and interesting.

Sam Cooke: Legend

Ali Sings with Sam!

 DATELINE:   MLK Day Special  

Putting over a song like Sinatra or Crosby was no mean feat for a young black singer in the 1950s. Graduating from gospel and soul music to mainstream, Sam Cooke wanted to be a crossover between white and black, between teeny-bopper and adult performances.

Had he lived a few more years, he would have left the concert trail for the world of movies. By 1964 he would have been a giant in music and film. Instead, he wound up a victim of violence.

The documentary Legend  will amaze you. Jeffrey Wright narrates the film.

His music was emboldened by personality and charm. He wrote his own tunes, from “You Send Me,” to “Chain Gang,” or “Wonderful World,” he was astounding in his ability to put over a song with nuance and flash. He wanted to own his own record company, publish his own music. It was unheard of in segregated 1950s Nashville music. He was a pioneer in equality for audiences with their stars.  He was an avid reader and intellectual, a well-rounded personable extrovert.

You might think the segregated audiences of the South were over, but the true Civil Rights movement was only starting to become a norm when Cooke was making inroads. He was gone before Martin Luther King, Jr., made Cooke’s dream a reality.

The biographical documentary features a few rare performances of Sam in the 1950s, but glosses over some other great songs with a teasing snippet. We would be thrilled to hear a potpourri of his TV show performances on Dick Clark, Ed Sullivan, and other variety shows.

Though his friendship with Aretha is known here, it is his connection to Muhammad Ali (singing together) that astounds. He said he should have written “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and came up with a Civil Rights song, “A Change is Gonna Come,” but he would not live to see it.

Sam’s death remains to this day an unfathomable act.

Many, including Elvis, believed he was murdered because he was becoming another Civil Right icon, like Malcolm X or Martin Luther King. Other movie stories have also raised this issue.

 

UnXplained Tackles Endangered Monuments

 DATELINE:  America’s Monuments Features Trump

By sheer coincidence, after an attack on the great monument of the Washington, now under National Guard protection and fencing, UnXplained  has an interesting take on the locations. Included in this potpourri is, naturally, the U.S. Capitol Building.

The Capitol was designed to be the Temple of Democracy and has 600 rooms, far more than a mob can circumnavigate without help. It is a special place with a space alien goddess, an Iriquois, on top of the dome. She may not be related to the Qanon Shaman who attacked the Capitol, claiming too to be a space alien ET.

Shatner laconically tells us of the crypt in the basement and the ascendant painting on Washington on the inner dome. It becomes all the more appalling to think Trump rioters crashed and vandalized this magnificent structure.

The show also deals with the Washington Monument, recently renovated against terrorists!  The show is downright sentient.

Another sequence deals with Mt. Rushmore and its white supremacist connections, built on sacred Native land. But the true piece de resistance belong to treasonous Trump himself who shows up in a sequence to discuss the Empire State Building.

You got it: the guy who turned in his New York citizenship to move to Florida and has denigrated American monuments (except Rushmore where he thinks he ought to be) is cited as an expert. Yikes.

The episode ends with the near catastrophic Golden Gate overload of 1987.

If irony and shock is your thing, this episode of UnXplained is both shocking and ironic.

 

 Out, Out, Damned Spot! Trump Cut!

Trump Cut Out of Movie

DATELINE: Fans Direct Home Alone Cut

You know Donald Trump’s legacy is in trouble when his innocuous scene in Home Alone 2 is now under editorial attack. You can yell, “Cut” or “Hang Mike Pence,” but Trump is about to be given the digital age’s equivalent of Marie Antoinette’s fate.

Called Lost in New York, the sequel to the beloved movie that launched Macauley Culkin now will cast fate to the wind and Trump to the dust bin.

Off with his head is now a movie production shot heard round the world. Donald Trump is being digitally removed from a scene of several seconds as he gives Macauley Culkin direction to the hotel lobby.

Culkin has given his imprimatur to the action.

Not since Kevin Spacey was edited out of a finished and unreleased movie two years ago have we seen such a use of movie-making techniques. Spacey was sliced and diced out of the movie for his sexual peccadilloes. Trump now shares an infamy with sex abusers (though that is another story).

Not safe for children may be the new mantra when parents want to show Home Alone 2 to their kids: you better make sure that liars, provocateurs, and sedition-guilty insurgents are out of the picture.

An adult Culkin not only supports the move, but is prepared to replace Trump as the man in the lobby. So, an adult version of himself addresses the child, which is fairly funny and poetic justice. It’s also a little creepy.

Trump may suffer more inglorious fates in the years ahead, but like Benedict Arnold and Aaron Burr, he has reached a new low in American movie history.

 

Deeply Boring on Oak Island

1st Appearance of Dr. Christa This Season

DATELINE: Boring Deeper

One friend who tunes into Curse of Oak Island  on a now-and-then basis claims that she never knows it’s a new episode. It seems every week they find an old coin and are boring into the ground looking for a new entrance to the Money Pit.

We’re glad she didn’t tune in to this show tonight. It’s more déjà vu than we can handle.

The eighth show of the eighth season is notable for who’s not there. Marty Lagina is on Zoom and not even on the island, and his son Alex doesn’t show up until he fills an empty seat in the final sequence. Peter Fornetti is nowhere. You won’t find Dr. Erin Helton either.

However, a couple of notable faces do come on board. First, making his initial island appearance is Mr. Moneybags, Craig Tester. He is the bank of Oak Island, and then at the end of the show, we have our first appearance of one of our perennial favorites, Dr. Christa Brousseau. We add Drs. Spooner and Aaron Taylor to the mix.

She has the most intriguing info of all:  she notes that two rose-head nails from different locations, one in the newly discovered serpent mound and another from a tunnel are the same, made at the same time. That connects the dots.

Once again, Gary Drayton is also on site as they uncover some kind of road out of the swamp, leading up to the pit areas. He finds another coin, likely from the late 1600s.

There are no additional confirmations of Templar work at the serpent mound from 1400, which is the most exciting part of this season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump’s Alamo Visit

Cheaters United

 DATELINE: Taking Belichick Down with Him

All metaphors are imperfect, and nothing could be more imperfect than the notion of Trump at the Alamo. It’s the ultimate union of insanity and patriotism.

The fighters who died to the death at the Alamo wanted to have a separate country in Texas. They were the original Republicans.

In movies and TV, you saw John Wayne and Fess Parker play their careers to the hilt of martyrdom on the screen. And, now the disgraced POTUS who instigated sedition and high crimes on a level with Aaron Burr wants to play himself as the end closes in.

He makes it worse for his supporters when he decides to give the Ultimate New England Patriot, Bill Belichick, a gift for his support; the Medal of Freedom as one of his last disgusting acts. It’s typical for a man who started his political rise by bashing Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers and ends with the symbol of a wall against Mexico at the bastion where Mexican soldiers  killed Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie.

Belichick intends to visit the White House as the Congress votes a second impeachment of Trump. Who is the mad man here? We count Belichick among the NFL cheaters with Spygates 1 & 2 and Trump with Impeachment 1 & 2.

And, now, the Patriots should fire Belichick, sacrifice to the cause of a coup d’etat,the supporter of Trump and coach of historical arrogance and now hostage to his own hubris.

Losing the season, losing Tom Brady, and losing his mind, Bill Belichick now will regain infamy by going to the White House and accepting honor from a man who has made honor a badge to kill legislators at the U.S. Capitol, and claim he was a victim of voters.

If the owners of the Patriots do not fire Bill Belichick for this egregious act, then we have the demise of a franchise, self-perpetuated by the Kraft family (Trumpists too and big lonely New England supporters of the American Hitler) in the most of antithetical states standing against Trump: New England went overwhelmingly for anybody but Trump.

We are watching the spectacle of the last gasp of a political movement and the gasping greed of a sports dynasty. America never had it so wrong and may be sinking into its own miasma of Nazism, white supremacy, and stupidity.