Oak Island, Another Week, Another Snail’s Pace

DATELINE: Getting Hands Dirty?

heartthrob alex lagina Alex Goes to Library.

We have come to realize that producers of The Curse of Oak Island will never cut to the chase.  They cut all right: after digging in mud, the treasure hunters suddenly have clean hands and clean clothes every time.

Alex Lagina never dirties his hands. He went to the library this week.

As for the chase, it has something to do with following a snail at his own self-contained pace.  And, the latest episode of the series, now in its sixth year, and tenth episode, indicated to us that it is written by the same formula that gave us As the World Turns, or Another World.

We have a soap opera here that meanders and takes a spurt of action, digests it for weeks, and then crawls onward.

On top of that, we realized again how much you have to trust the insights of the “heroes,” in this case, the Lagina Brothers. They are reasonable if not plodding. This week another “new” worker found a stone with hieroglyphs on it that the team has apparently not noticed after walking past it for years.

Call in the radar people who shoot it with red laser lights and will get back to us.

It may mean that you can add the Vikings to the Knights Templar and the Romans, to the original Captain Kidd, as visitors to Oak Island. We aren’t sure if the place was sort of a historical bank vault where you might come to make a deposit or take out a loan.

In any respect, we have noticed this season that there are dozens of background workers milling about, and huge areas of excavation. Please don’t keep selling us that this is a “mom and pop” friendly treasure hunt.

We are feeling the signs that the summer is almost over on Oak Island, and the kids will have to go back to school soon. Nephew Peter is already gone. Alex Lagina is here for a couple of weekends, and the show is likely to hang us up to dry for another season.

We see new structures in the mud at Smith’s Cove, but we remain the only one with clean hands.

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Mr. Stalin, You Have a Lovely Daughter!

DATELINE: Defector by Heart

 

svetlana Alleluyeva to You!

The only daughter of Soviet mass murderer and megalomaniac, Josef Stalin, is subject of a fascinating Australian documentary, called forthrightly Stalin’s Daughter.

Being the object of a doting father who is a psychopath could prove daunting to most people. Maybe Svetlana was different.

Stalin extended his ruthless exercise of murder to those in the closest orbit personally. His second wife was Lenin’s secretary, which made her attractive for many reasons, but her independence irritated the Red Despot.

Though Svetlana’s mother gave him two children, a son and daughter, she was quickly alienated from her husband and found dead of a gunshot wound to the head. The official cause of death was appendicitis. Svetlana learned of this by translating an English magazine as a young girl.

She was thought to be a princess, but not as spoiled as Vasily, her brother. As a girl, Svetlana was faced with a father who disapproved of her boyfriends: they ended up in gulags, if not with their families executed.

She was a prisoner of the Soviet state, never having true freedom. When her father died, she took her mother’s name Svetlana Alleluyeva. It wasn’t enough to escape the stigma.

In the 1960s, she married a non-Russian and took his ashes back to his home country: India. There in 1967, she went to the American embassy and defected. The CIA vouched for her.

Thus began true American celebrity. First, no one believed who she was—and then she spoke English fluently and wrote a best-seller that made her millions.  A media darling throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, she became increasingly erratic, like her father.

Her sad story ended with poverty, a nursing home in America, and a forgotten end in 2011. Who knew?

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Death Masks of Jesus Overlapped?

 DATELINE: Trio of Relics

jesus Unnerving image of three faces!

We weren’t sure what to make of this Italian documentary from 2013. Is it pious drivel? Archeological truth? Or mere balderdash?

Searching for the Face of Jesus was not what we expected.

Instead of a history lesson on the artful depictions of the man from Nazareth and how his consistent image developed, we had a focus on three relics, one of which we knew almost nothing about.

The Shroud of Turin is best known of all: subject to many investigations, debunking, carbon dating controversy, etc.

The burial face cloth in Spain, merely a blood-caked faceless cloth that was wrapped around a dead man’s head is a relic with some historical evidence going way back. Indeed, a cloth was used as a wrap to transport the crucified man to his tomb.

And, the third item struck us as the most peculiar of all: the Sacred Face made by Veronica. It is the most legendary of the relics, and the oddest of all. Purportedly, a woman ran up to the living Jesus on the way to his death and wiped his face with a thin silk cloth. A double image transferred to both sides of the small towel.

How on earth did wide-open brown eyes transfer to the cloth?

The documentary then does something most unusual. It overlays the three face images by means of computer effects.

There are 140 points of match. The three faces are of the same man.

The film fails to tell us that blood tests on two of the cloths indicated a rare AB negative blood type. The Veronica image is not miraculous, merely creepy. The eyes of the man are staring through the mists of time. How that transferred is inexplicable.

The climax of the documentary is the overlay of the Shroud face with the faceless bloody cloth—and the eye-opening man on his way to death.

As pay-offs go, this one knocked our agnostic heart for a loop.

Big Papillon

DATELINE: Renewed Classic

Rami & Charlie.

Perhaps every 50 years or so, a movie needs to be re-made.

This gives a new generation of actors a chance at grand roles, and an audience unfamiliar with the original to see a version that is in tune with the times that half-a-century causes.

Take Papillon, the Devil’s Island classic tale that starred Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman so many years ago. Those who remember will tell you how great they were.  Those who see Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) and Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) in the recent version will not understand how these two could be surpassed.

Yes, this remake is brilliantly done: in ways that the other never touched:  such as the motif of bowels as hiding places. Money pellets are within the mess of diarrhea to be searched. This film is brutal in its sadism and disgusting conditions, perhaps even more appalling than the original.

Henry Charriere’s true story of a man battling the odds of prison condemnation is always a good yarn of hope and hopeless. Director Michael Noer manages to convey the power of a literary classic.

We particularly liked the sequence when the warden has a showing of 1933 King Kong while the repugnant, fat turnkey is in dalliance with a young whelp while Papillon plans his escape.

There is a chemistry between Malek and Hunnam that transcends the original pairing of actors who were stars for more distinctive, discrete audiences. These new young stars have rapport and remain in tune as their relationship blossoms. In a scene Malek plays a mime who performs for Hunnam in a Paris dream sequence.

Hunnam notes it is too soon for a “proposal” in one scene, but the fearless director makes his song of bonds between oddball men quite effective.

Wyatt Earp: Brave, Courageous, and Bold?

DATELINE:  American Experience PBS

Not the Real Earp

The American Experience TV series on PBS did not delve into the hundreds of film portrayals of Wyatt Earp during their hour-long documentary. That might have extended the show to two hours. It is simply the life of Wyatt Earp.

There are no clips from the TV series, or the John Ford movies. The OK Corral stuff is covered, probably because it could not be avoided. It’s given no emblematic quality, nor meaningful symbolism, other than as a chaotic gunfight.

You might be more surprised at how often his name was misspelled over the years in print.

The biography features many, many photographs, many of which may never have been seen by fans of the Western hero.

He was one of those legends who walks on both sides of the law, and it may be hard to excuse his vindictive streak. He went after enemies with obsession.

Ultimately living until 1929 in Los Angeles, he wanted a movie to exculpate his reputation. These would arrive in spades, but only after he died a disappointed old man.

The final decades of his life were spent in endless travel—from Alaska to the middle-America, where he tried his hand at running saloons. That was not far from his youthful endeavors, when he was bouncer at a series of brothels and took up with an endless supply of prostitutes.

Handsome, taciturn, and a loner, he invariably had fallings-out with family, brothers, and even Doc Holliday. He was a hard man, exactly what you might expect from the epitome of a Western hero.

The documentary is not moving, nor special, with the usual

Handy Guide to Space Probes

 DATELINE:  Curiosity Merges with Probability

pluto Plutonian Shores?

If you are interested in seeing all the photos from landings on planets in this solar system, or just the close-up flybys of moons of Jupiter, Saturn, etc., you will find that Curiosity Stream offering a big treat: Space Probes.

Their little miniseries is a mere six episodes, averaging around 20 to 25 minutes each. It offers an intriguing history of space exploration for sixty years by means of probe missions.

All the photos of planets and moons are handily together under the umbrellas of their locations:  the inner hellish planets, the red rovers, giants and their moons, as well as Pluto.

With the recent landing of a new rover on Mars—and on January 1st of another New Explorer flyby of a planetoid beyond Pluto, you may want to catch up on the variety and development of the science.

Mostly this is a NASA show (and we are irked by how many nowadays fail to realize that NASA is an all-cap acronym).

Only the episode on Venus really give any credit to the Russians and their dogged and intrepid series of landers on the Venutian surface. They even sent a balloon to sail around the atmosphere.

Yet, it is the cute Mars rovers, gradually increasing in size and sophistication that are truly anthropomorphic.

We were fascinated with the landing on Titan with its lakes of methane and pictures. And, the geysers of the Jovian moons with their frozen oceans is always a treat.

So, we commend Space Probes from Curiosity Stream for making it possible to have a capsulated series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scanning the Great Pyramid

DATELINE: Don’t Scan Zowie Hotass!

 Zowie Hotass

Here’s a documentary that you won’t see on Ancient Aliens.

Scanning the Pyramids is actually a misnomer about Khufu’s Great Pyramid. Oh, they do a quick test on the bent pyramid, but the real focus is on the extraordinary discoveries they make. This is a joint expedition with scientists from France, Japan, and Egypt.

Using new technology, they want to break ground without moving a stone. Yep, they can look inside the pyramid with something called muon scans. These little items come cascading in from space in a straight line, meaning they can photograph them on plates.

This new x-ray system should tell scientists whether there are more chambers inside the Great Pyramid.

The more sensation-seeking fans of ancient astronauts and genius architects in ancient Egypt will not be happy. Indeed, our favorite media hog and Egyptian Antiquities Queen of the Nile, Zahi Hawass, aka Zowie Hotass, shows up with an entourage, sputtering his disdain for science over Egyptology.

Nothing receives a green light in his dark vision. He thinks small pebbles may be inside the new pyramid void.

Unfortunately, Hawass Hotass is a political kingpin or is that pharaoh-pinhead? He is the stamp of approval scientists must face down.

He is, shall we say, skeptical of the findings, or even of the methodology.

The Japanese physicist who pioneers muongraphics looks like a teenager, which doesn’t help. However, all three countries confirm their findings that about 2/3 up the north side, where you see a pyramid notch, there may be another great chamber. It takes two years for this research to reach fruition, but it is worth it.

No one knows what may be inside the newly discovered great void, or even what shape it takes, but it is the first major discovery in 1000 years at the Great Pyramid. It is compelling evidence and fascinating science, unless you happen to believe in the Flat Earth like Hawass.

God, Man, & Drunks @ Yale

 DATELINE: Patriotic Republicans in Youth

 march of time news

The cold-heart of the GOP and National Review founder was author of a conservative book that became a bible of sorts. William F. Buckley, Jr., went to Yale, just like Brett Kavanagh, though a generation earlier.

It would appear that Yale prepared young Republicans by having them indulge in binge drinking to the point of belligerence. It may be why so many of these young political hacks went into politics, via public service.

Law seemed a good choice after a privileged life of undergraduate misfeasance. Having taught at a college of privileged young and rich for many years, we saw first-hand the problems they swept under the rug.

Now they are a middle-aged generation of deadbeats who have either run their family business into the ground or become high -ranking members of our American government.

They thought nothing of using women as sex toys, passed around their social circles. We could tell hair-raising stories of their violence and anti-intellectualism at Yale or other standby private colleges for the privileged few.

Let’s all stand for the National Anthem, deadbeats. Why, isn’t that friend in a bar fight with Kavanagh the man who ran for governor of Oregon in 2010 as a Republican? He doesn’t remember much from his drunken undergraduate days either. Chris Dudley is a patriot, even with a drunken violent past he shared with Kavanagh.

Nor does he want to talk to the FBI. If they don’t remember their blotto nights out, we doubt they learned much in the classroom except how to cheat their way through. You might say Kavanagh and Dudley minored in AA and Gamblers Anonymous, while charter members of the college Republicans.

Pardon us for our cynicism. We watched this generation of low-life (as their President might say) up close and know of what we observed.

Fabergé: a World Unto Itself

DATELINE: Walking on Egg Shells

easter egg

If you want to see one of the most sumptuous and stunning documentaries made, take a peek at Fabergé: A Life of Its Own.

We are seldom prepared for art for art’s sake nowadays. However, the makers of this little film show as much love for beauty as did the original Imperial Russian craftsmen who made the notable eggs for the Tsar.

We haven’t seen such colors since MGM’s heyday of technicolor masterpieces, and the strains of Russian music from Stravinsky, Rimsky-Korsakoff, and Tchaikovsky, are more than suitable to the images of the Easter eggs made for the Tsarina and Dowager from the 1880s to 1914.

The obtuseness of the suffering of the people led to a Revolution that ended the dynasty of Nicholas and Alexandra but began an Easter egg hunt that is worth a cool $30m each.

Each egg (about five to ten inches tall) contained a surprise inside: usually a miniature bouquet of jewel encrusted flowers, tiny family portraits, or a model ship. We’ve heard of ships in a bottle, but never saw one in an egg.

Only 50 Imperial eggs were made–and finding them is more difficult than finding the Easter Bunny.

One of the last eggs was made to resemble and ice-encrusted ball with spring flowers within. Stunning.

Carl Fabergé luckily escaped the Revolution’s executions, but the Tsar did not. Fleeing royalty later sold their jewels for food and refuge. Only with the American marketers did the name of the great artist-jeweler become associated with Brut cologne for men, or even bug killer spray.

The Fabergé name is today being restored to dignity and jewelry.

You cannot miss the staggering aesthetics of this film, narrated by Samuel West. It is as rich as a pastry tray of goodies.

Children of Giant: Mexican POV in Marfa

DATELINE: Unavoidable James Dean Strikes Again

Children of Giant Children of Giant!

If you know anything about our Hollywood history books on the story behind making movies, you know that we would be hot on the trail of George Stevens’ 1955 classic epic Giant. 

Made On location in Marfa, Texas, with Elizabeth Taylor as an early feminist in 1920s Texas, and Rock Hudson as the laconic cowpoke who owned Reata, a cattle ranch, you are overwhelmed with James Dean who stood out on the landscape,

However much the director wants to make this a movie about the Mexican discrimination in Texas, James Dean is there to steal the movie. He dominates everything in the fascinating film called Children of Giant.

Actor Earl Holliman is still around to give his perspective, and Jane Withers appears to have declined to participate.

Director Stevens’s son, notable Hollywood producer George Stevens, Jr., offers many insights. They say little about Dean.

It was the film James Dean died making. It was a Western that showed the yellow rose of Texas was a yellow streak of Jim Crow laws against Mexicans. The children loved him, and they saw him as someone special and caring.

Today Marfa’s racism almost seems quaint, next to the horrors being inflicted on Mexicans under Trump.

New York historical novelist Edna Ferber was spot on depicting wild cat billionaire Glenn McCarthy (aka Jett Rink in the movie and book). James Dean’s makeup and style mimics McCarthy in his late middle-age.

Dean is remembered fondly by the Mexican children and adults whom he befriended in Marfa, Texas. Indeed, if you are looking for stories about Dean’s public urination in front of town onlookers, or even the tale of Dean going after director Stevens in a fight over his performance, you will find only slight nods in that direction.

Yet, as a social history document about a social history movie, you could not find a more spot-on documentary. It features townsfolk giving their insights and sharing their unusual photos.

It is nirvana for a movie maven who delights in the behind-the-scenes activity. This little PBS documentary packs a wallop and a message from the children of Marfa in 1955. Unfortunately, James Dean is still the big draw. George Stevens and Edna Ferber could not avoid him then or now.

 Dr. William Russo wrote The Next James Dean, which is available as an ebook and print work on Amazon.

 

Tab Departs

DATELINE:  Our Loss

Untitled Tab & Divine!

Bashing Tab Hunter was a media entertainment form since he first came to Hollywood in the early 1950s as a pretty boy.  Most critics held the opinion he must be a vapid blond male equivalent of Marilyn.

Yet, Tab stuck around for decades, playing everything from beach boys when he was too old for that, to athletes, soldiers, and assorted heroes. He dressed up whatever story he acted in.

Now at 86, looking 60, he suddenly and unexpectedly expired on us. It comes when he was about to oversee a new movie docudrama of his life. Well-known gay actor Zachary Quinto has decided to produce a movie about Tab and his torrid, secret affair with Anthony Perkins in the 1950s and 1960s. The new movie is to be based on Tab’s autobiography of a few years ago, entitled Tab Hunter Confidential.

Yes, that Damn Yankee killer met the Psycho Bates off screen for a closeted love affair.

We always enjoyed Tab and look forward to this new movie of his life. However, we can also turn back to five films today’s young film aficionados may not know or appreciate.

One of his early successes, or weird films, was Track of the Cat, directed by Wildman William Wellman. He played callow younger brother to dangerous Robert Mitchum in a movie that played on Technicolor downgraded to black clothes on a white snowfall.

Not long after he appeared with John Wayne and Lana Turner in The Sea Chase in 1955. Audiences loathed a film in which Duke Wayne played a German naval officer. Looking perfect as the Aryan in the cast, he managed to come off as a good actor next to Wayne’s deplorable performance.

Tab came into his own as the young version of Joe Hardy, who makes a deal with the devil to beat the Damn Yankees in baseball for one season. He was stunning and the boy that Lola wanted. The director mistreated him and almost sabotaged his performance.

Soon, Tab wanted to prove his worth and did a film called They Came to Cordura. He was the villain, opposite Gary Cooper and Rita Hayworth. It was a shocking turn of events—but not well received by Hollywood which would soon return him to surfing movies and light comedy.

His rediscovery in the 1980s cast him in wild comedies like Polyester and Lust in the Dust, a parody Western, both films in which his romantic interest was zaftig Divine, cross-dressing delight.

Not Tab’s full oeuvre, it is enough to give you a sense of his career.

Off the Wardenclyffe: Tesla Files 1.3

 DATELINE: Bell Tolls for Tesla

Stapleton Stapleton 

The Tesla Files continued to impress with the latest episode in the series.

Several investigations followed the pattern Tesla took after he returned from Colorado in 1900. At this point he went to the New Yorker Hotel as his new headquarters. An interesting trip three floors below street level revealed a major tunnel system.

The hotel also had its own power source, which likely convinced Tesla that his experiments might be better served by the proximity to a major city. Around this time, he also made a deal with J.P. Morgan that floundered and caused the tycoon to lead a movement to discredit Tesla and his inventions.

It was out on Long Island that he used much of the funding from Morgan before it ran out. Here he built a tower for communications or power, no one knows which, and perhaps too an elaborate tunnel system, over 100 feet below the surface and extending out to the ocean.

The show cannot investigate the shut-down lab because of deadly mold, but they can send in a drone, giving insights into the workplace of Tesla.

Also intriguing is the parallel to the German World War II “Bell,” which might have been a time machine or anti-gravity device. The footprint of Tesla’s tower on Long Island matches exactly the footprint shape of the Nazi experiments in Poland.

Our journalistic investigator, Jayson Stapleton, with tattoos and a down-payment/goatee (known as an imperial in some circles) has become a man quite sure of himself. Having both a goatee and down-payment is sort of like wearing a belt with suspenders.

Who said TV wasn’t educational?

 

 

 

 

 

Ancient Aliens: 13.4, Paint It Black

 DATELINE: Holes in the Plot

kaku Kaku Bird!

The latest fascinating episode in the series of Ancient Aliens theorizes that black holes, not gravitational ones, are all around the Earth as electro-magnetic portals.

The episode is entitled “Earth’s Black Holes,” and it hints that we may have had secret openings to pass through time and space right here on this planet, both on land and under sea.

Vortexes may be at the center of the dimension-shift, as in the Bermuda Triangle.

Heaven knows what can come and go through these doors to somewhere. Though the episode did not suggest paranormal, they were about two steps away.

Regular David Childress went on a re-enacting plane trip with a man who claims in 1970 he entered one of these electrical storm tunnels and was accelerated 2000 miles per hour in his little airplane to his destination. They hit turbulence, but don’t re-stage a trip through the Bermuda Triangle.

Dozens of black hole portals can be found, according to Ancient Alien theorists, all along the southern hemisphere and in certain countries. They even suggest that Moses was taken away for forty days atop Mount Sinai.

More recently, a young man from Deerfield, Mass., was gone for fourteen months—and returned with amnesia from his disappearing act.

We particularly enjoyed seeing one of our favorites, Dr. Michio Kaku, the notable scientist, joining the usual birds of a feather to offer his insights. He has legit and real credentials but noted that the line between science fiction and science fact may be thinner than you’d expect.

The latest season has had some boffo episodes, and this one joins the list.

 

Science of Fasting? Forget Your Hunger Pangs

DATELINE: No Longo for Religious Fanatics

Dr. Valter Longo

A documentary from France delineates the heresy of American diet. Its title is rather bland: The Science of Fasting.

Doctors and researchers in the vanguard of American medicine have subscribed to a panacea that is as old as Yogi and prophets living in the Judean desert for forty days of deprivation. Stop eating, and you will force your body to cleanse itself and re-set all thermostats.

Twenty years ago, while playing chess online with a Russian med student, he told us to stop eating to regain health—and we laughed at the madness of the notion. Today, we are not laughing.

Yes, according to revolutionary science, the cure for diabetes and cancer may well be fasting: not eating your vegetables or nuts or anything else, for that matter.

The short documentary reveals that the old Soviet Union doctors in the 1970s stumbled upon the notion of deprivation from food as actually making the body stronger. They began clinics that featured the appalling notion of going without food (but plenty of water) for two weeks. It was done under close medical supervision. Don’t try this at home.

Apparently, burning up all your glucose in 24 hours leads to your body eating its own lipids (fat). People on fasting actually became stronger and had better attitudes:  survival has its benefits.

Most of the Russian studies have not yet been translated to English—and Big Pharma is in no hurry to cure patients and take them off medications.

At least one Italo-American researcher, Dr. Valter Longo, has found there are improvements in patients who undergo chemotherapy if they fast, in cycles, for several days prior to treatment.

Our own physician contends that fasting for two days per week over a month or so will cure diabetes. We are yearning to try it.

This film looked at patients in Russia, Germany, and now in the United States. If we can lock our refrigerator doors, we may find the secret gateway to health and longevity.

This film may be from starvation, but it’s one of the most revolutionary we have seen in years. We have hungered for a cure-all.

Titanic Anniversary & Ominous Day

DATELINE:  Ghosts on Mill Circle

Richard Frazar White and his father, Percival, aboard the Titanic.

 

Each year on this date, we visit the grave of Richard Frazar White who died on the Titanic. His father was with him, but his body was never recovered. It is the 106th year since the ship sank into the cold Atlantic.

Richard lived here at Mill Circle. His family owned our home and, in all likelihood, he spent some time here. The caretaker had an apartment in what is now the library. We have hung Richard’s portrait there and placed it near a model of the Titanic.

This year, unlike others, began ominously. A large crash against the picture window overlooking a patio caused some concern. We found a robin, dazed, breathing hard, that after half-an-hour staggered away. We could not see the second bird, dead, that had also crashed into the window.

This is not a commonplace event.

You see our house is haunted by the spirit of Richard White. Oh, yes, psychics have come here to tell us.

We went out to buy flowers for a gravesite visit, but never made it. The car’s systems went a little crazy: the wiper warning light went on, as did the steering wheel light, and the oil light, and the brake light. Perhaps we should not go to the cemetery this year. Was it a sign? A message?

Our Haitian health aide was alarmed enough to suggest we light a white candle and fill a clear glass with cold, cold water to be placed near the table where the birds came at the window.

Following instructions, we found that somehow after an hour the candle had been blown out: perhaps some never felt draft from some odd corner of the house.

Our Haitian friend mentioned that there was one Haitian on the Titanic who also died on this date so many years ago. He was an engineer, the only person of color among the passengers, Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche.

This information also rattled us a bit more.

So, we wait before removing the dead bird, starting the car again, or anticipating another bird crash into the window.

It’s just another day at our haunted house.

Dr. William Russo has written Tales of a Titanic Family about the background story to the two victims of the White family. It is available on amazon.com in paperback and ebook format.