Removing Another Satiric Barb

DATELINE: Un-wigged!

 Scalp Problem?

We see that a TV graphic headline has been called “racist,” and we thought how terrible. Then, we saw what the offensive words were: They alluded to the Atlanta/Boston/Milwaukee Braves and the situation of losing a playoff berth. Now, we have for some time thought that naming teams after Native Americans—or, as racists call them, Indians, whether they are from Washington, D.C., Cleveland, or Boston (where the Braves originated) is dicey.

We were never sure what Indians they referred to in Boston. It could be that Braves are simply people with courage, though young Native American warriors were called Braves. It was sort of like ‘grunts” or “GIs” in another framework.

So, Indian and Redskin are harder to justify. If this seems like a hairy tale, you will be forewarned to avoid head-hunters.

Back to the point of the racist claim: it struck us as a play on humor and defeat. It is known that some brutal Indian raids resulted in “scalping” of victims. This was not necessarily an action limited to Native Americans but was a kind of trophy hunting.

To say the Braves were “scalped” seems rather oxymoronic. Who did the scalping? People who sell tickets to games outside a venue?

We seem to have entered a world in which words have either lost their meaning or have become metaphoric bonfires of the vanities.

If this full lobotomy assault continues on satiric wordsmiths, we shall soon be de-fanged, de-clawed, and shorn of our satirizing locks. In a crew cut mode, we may not again use Scalpicine on our collective itchy head. Sign language could also be offensive to Native Americans, to which we raise a well-placed finger in response.

World’s “Best” Commercials?

DATELINE: From Wine to Cigarettes

‘Swedish’ lady sells coffee!

We now interrupt your viewing pleasure for a word from many, many sponsors from the alleged Golden Age of Advertising. For you more historically-minded, but young readers, that’s apparently the 1960s when this documentary collection of old black and white commercials dominated the airwaves.

The World’s Best Commercials is a misnomer at best. It was surely the Era of Advertising.

Your favorite TV show or movie was at the mercy of two or three minutes of sales pitches with a curve ball—or maybe that’s a screwball.

Yes, you may have the mad impulse to turn the channel, but you are facing 90 minutes of unrelenting, idiotic, culturally-altering advertisements, often lasting a minute in length. You will see rare cigarette and wine commercials, complete with marching cigarettes (after all, LS/MFT).

Attention spans were greater back then, or sponsors fewer.

In any respect, you will shock your sensibilities to learn about the Swing-Ding in which kids give themselves a self-propelled concussion with a tie-on toy. You wil meet again the “Swedish” Mrs. Olson who hucksters Folger’s coffee. You will learn that Miami is a hotspot as America’s Riviera.

And, without any organizing principle, or narrator, you simply sit back and are hit repeatedly with an endless barrage of products, many that are now gone (we think) or evolved into something else. We saw Baggies in three sizes. They were all the suburban rage back then, when you could pour silver dollars into them—and they would not rip or shred.

Several times we were moved to get up and go to the bathroom.

This compendium has nothing to do with quality, but likely what was readily available to the producers of this collection. Were we the only masochists who would force this stuff upon ourselves? If you are a student of sociology, marketing, or sociological marketing history, this film will thrill you.

This stuff is campy and may have even been humorous in its day.

You clearly see what was on the minds of the people controlling the purse-strings in those days:  suburban Mom. Kids, husbands, pets, all were at her whim to purchase or allow such items into the home. If you want to know who the big powers of the era were, this little ad ditties will tell you.

Pay TV reportedly was to end this blight on America’s vast wasteland of free TV.

Halston: Fashionista with Un-Common Touch

DATELINE: Clothes Make the Woman

 Halston, Taylor, Minelli at Studio 54!

Fashion designer extraordinaire, Halston was part of a generation that self-immolated by 1990. Most of them were gone: trend-setting, pop culture icons:  notably Halston (he only needed one name, like Liberace). A fascinating documentary aptly named Halstontells the tale.

The 1950s gave young talents like Halston and Warhol a youthful connection to fame, but it was by the 1960s they took charge of their lives. Halston was a gypsy of America, living in no true fixed abode. So, he was likely to be self-made.

He was ambitious and flamboyant, ready to take his energy and ideas into all kinds of creative realms. He was the pioneer who made Europe take note of American fashion, though he was later given rivals like Perry Ellis and Calvin Klein.

Halston tried to stay ahead of the curve, branching out into aesthetics like perfume with bottles as arty as popular. He melded movies and fashion together, finding that his association with people like Liza Minelli and Elizabeth Taylor were ways to grow socially and artfully.

It started to go wrong when he splurged into Studio 54 with Warhol, Capote, and the raft of disco dollies. It was, some said, the beginning of a dissolution.

The documentary never says much about his aging, but it’s there: clearly losing youth to something harder. He became as hard as his looks, or perhaps his looks took on his personality: moody, bossy, self-centered.  It wasn’t pretty, when he started to be less pretty.

Others thought his greed was the deciding factor that led to his destruction: he sold out to J.C. Penney, going from class to mass appeal. It alienated his well-to-do friends and undermined his name. He actually sold his own name, and lost control of it.

The end featured more intrigue that Ancient Rome, as he was pushed out (literally locked out) of his own empire by locksmiths and Playtex bra people who bought his name. A few thought it was drugs that did him in, if not promiscuity.

It was the 1980s and the deadly virus that swept through art circles in theatre, fashion, music, especially in New York, took him too. Andy Warhol once said that he’d want Halston and Elizabeth Taylor as his chums because they were so nice.

This celebrity name-dropping documentary may stir memories in a generation grown old. Halston was loved by many people who felt he epitomized tragedy by the end.

 

 

 

 

Astrology Over Astronomy for Ancient Aliens

DATELINE: Return to Oak Island

   Crossover Taylor!

It’s Labor Day weekend, and Ancient Aliens is about to wrap Season 14 with its 13thepisode on how a “Constellation Code,” may prove that aliens gave secret information to humans through messages in the stars. This also is another misleading episode, differing from  the one advertised for showing all week.

For several weeks Ancient Aliens has engaged in some bait-and-switch tactics when it comes to keeping the contents of the new release private. Again this week, the episode is not what they claimed it would be:  why? The series may be more secretive than the National Security Council of the Trump Administration.

Well, if Ancient Alien theorists are to be believed, our academic intelligentsia is about as dumb as the rocks they cannot turn over. Though many scientists debunk the fortune-telling that comes from reading the stars to predict the future, Ancient Aliens revels in it.

Now, they say the mirror effect that puts star constellations as part petroglyph buildings and monuments is proof that aliens gave early culture a heads up about who they were and where they came from: two places seem to be the most frequently copied on earth as ground-level star maps—and these could be the origins of alien life that seeded earth.

They even trot out Travis Taylor’s visit earlier this year to Oak Island (featuring the Lagina brothers) where he showed how the island is actually a place with key stones aligned that are stars in the heavens. What does it all mean? Why is this evident? He has no idea.

Robert Clotworthy’s voice-over is on familiar ground this week. He almost seems to be doing a promo for the upcoming season of Curse of Oak Island.

Giorgio visits Italy to look at monuments that again seem to indicate constellations in the night sky. The only reason for this, the theorists insist, is to show that ancient people knew their gods were actually space creatures. They even go one step beyond this twilight zone to say 90% of people know their zodiac sign, more proof that the message “we are not alone” is writ big in the sky.

Time to Cancel the Trump Show!

DATELINE:  Limited Series Ratings Down

Donald Trump once infamously said that he wanted each day of his presidency to be like a TV series episode. The Trump Show is not Another World, or even As the World Turns. It is stomach-turning overkill.

What fat old soap star failed to understand, among a million misunderstood points, is that even a soap opera is only on for five days per week, and it usually moves at a snail’s pace. The main characters may not appear every day. Trump violated his own comprehension of what his White House should be.

Even Dallas or Dynasty was on only for twenty weeks of the year—and then took a hiatus. It built toward a stunning climax. It did not try to create a climax each day. That is bad plotting, as Casca and Cassius might tell Brutus.

It certainly is what any decent soap writer would tell the notorious bed bug hotelier.

Trump’s show has no co-stars and no one receives a good bit of dialogue. Woe to them who ad lib, because they will find themselves out of the series post haste. Just ask Mattis, Scaramucci, Spicer, and Sessions. 

If the villain wins in an episode, Trump must put on a superhero outfit and damn the Kryptonite of collusion.

Even the good wife (or wives as it were) must be a Stepford robot, unable to speak out that she never met people he says she adores. And, most of the women are like J.R. Ewing castoffs: blondes who don’t cut it more than a guest episode or two.

You might yearn for the episode that asks who shot J.R.? You won’t find it in the Trump teleplay. He’s the one who can go out on Fifth Avenue and shoot someone (likely a black Baltimorian) and get away with murder.

He can lock up children like Richard III and not ask for a horse to help him get away. 

We do expect the forces of the empire to all turn against him in the final page of this bad show—much like they did to Laurence Olivier when he played that Son of York: chopped liver would be too good for Trump.

Free Agency Strikes America!

DATELINE:  No Free Lunch Anywhere?

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This week we heard a comment that we stopped writing about sports because of “free agency.”  Well, no, not exactly, though it is an appalling condition in society in general.

You have to understand that lack of loyalty and love of money is rampant across America, not just in basketball where Avery Bradley has signed up to re-join Rajon Rondo, and Kyrie Irving left the place he swore he would stay in front of a million fans.

We have seen “free agency” at work everywhere. If there had been DNA tests thirty years ago, we would have exercised free agency and gone to Harvard University to work as a professor: we have learned we are a descendant of Miles Standish and Massasoit (for whom Massachusetts was named). If we knew we had more Native American in us than Elizabeth Warren, we might even be running for President today.

We have seen free agency in the legal profession. The same lawyers who work for Donald Trump also work for Jeffrey Epstein. You go from billionaire to billionaire. Is it more money? Better opportunity? More challenges? It is not loyalty to a brand.

You might switch banks for better interest rates, or switch social media to be with different influencers.

In recent years we have experienced our primary care doctor whom we loved, move to the Sun Belt, where she said in her letter of departure to patients, there were “more opportunities.” To what? Cure cancer? Lower blood pressure? Deal with fewer insurance forms?

This year our dentist, who had a beautiful office and seemed happy, left for “more opportunities.”  That likely means “more cavities to fill,” or “fewer teeth to pull,” or just where weather allows for fewer snow days.

Free agency is everywhere in society today, and it simply means people can go where they want, for whatever dumb reason strikes their limited fancy. We have an endemic pandemic epidemic of movers and shakers in sports, law, medicine, education, and politics.

Heaven help our society. We need a new prayer, and it must be time to move on from the Lord’s Prayer. Hell, no, I won’t go.

Mystery Files Presents 13 Cases

DATELINE:  Fake Controversies

mystery files

Well, prepare yourself for undercooked conspiracy theories and the usual suspects. It’s called without much originality, Mystery Files.

Amazon Prime gives us a British series from 2010 with thirteen traditional topics and claims they will solve the mystery behind the story.

We are inclined to give 30 minutes to a documentary series about the usual suspects. We also decided to sample the half-dozen topics for which we have an interest and have done some study. A few of them are actually people on whom we have written a book or two.

Mystery Files looks at Jack the Ripper, Leonardo da Vinci, Billy the Kid, Rasputin, Abe Lincoln, and the Romanovs, and the Man in the iron mask not necessarily in that order. We picked the names randomly to see what problem they intended to solve. We suspected that we would have the pedestrian, traditional mystery, but the series went out of its way to try to debunk something not often considered. The others we did not sample included Cleopatra, King Arthur, Nostradamus, and Joan of Arc.

Though the Leonardo show claimed it would look at his works like Mona Lisa, it actually tried to illustrate that Leonardo’s scientific reputation is largely based on plagiarized ideas from other seers of future technology.

They were going to identify the real Jack the Ripper, hinting that it was not one of the usual candidates, and they wanted to point out that Billy the Kid was not the violent serial killer dime novels claimed. (Yeah, he murdered only 4 people.) And, Rasputin may have been murdered, not by Russian nobles worried about the Czar, but by British secret service agents.

A double episode also looked at what happened to Anastasia and her sisters.

The findings all had a distinct British connection: even the Billy the Kid episode focused on his English friend John Tunstall and that the Kid was hell-bent on vindicating his murdered benefactor (avoiding the sticky issue of their consenting adulthood).

Prince Yousoupoof had an Oxford friend who worked for British intelligence and used the Czar’s relation as an excuse to stop Rasputin from convincing the Czar from brokering peace with Germany (to the detriment of England).

And, they wanted to prove that Abe Lincoln used mercury-laced pills to control his chronic depression and was poisoning himself. As for the Voltaire story, there seemed to be a prisoner in a velvet mask, not an iron one, in their assessment.

For the most part, their plans are grandiose, and not fully proven in half-an-hour, or worse they back down from the outrageous claims in nearly every case.

Yet, we give them credit for cram packing the episodes and trying to give us a different perspective.

Titanic Leap from Shelf

 DATELINE: Shocked in the Library!

leap from Titanic   Side by Side on Shelf: DVD titled Last Mysteries of the Titanic, next to photo or Richard White in Titanic’s Reading Room.

Oh, poltergeist generally are puckish spirits who have a tendency to throw items or create havoc with a brazen sense of humor.

We have posted a video on YouTube that shows a DVD named Last Mysteries of the Titanic, sitting next to a photo of Richard White in the First Class Reading Room of the Titanic, that took on a life of its own—and jumped from the shelf leaving me speechless.

Maybe the headline for YouTube should be “Ghost Throws Book at Writer.” My spirit guardian Richard and I would receive more hits, searches, and bingo moments.

In my Titanic Memorial Library, where my roommate spirit Richard spends some time, several psychics have noted that he always has a playful sense of fun.

The library is a commemoration to him, as he lived here once long ago, and then he died on Titanic, celebrating his college graduation on a maiden voyage of a luxury ship.

Earlier my security camera had mysteriously fallen down from its perch in the library where it had been completely secured with duct tape. It provides a late-night glimpse into the space where orbs, noises, and things that go bump tend to congregate. No one really wants to be there after dark.

However, around 8pm, still with dusk at hand, the camera had fallen onto a cushion on a chair. It could be re-secured before total blackness fell. Yet, later in the early morning hours, the camera fell again. I was not going in there at that hour.

Having an early morning cup of coffee to bolster the latest visit around 6:30am, we headed over there to restore the camera and face it directly at the floor-to-ceiling shelving of books and videotapes.

Once there, we accomplished our mission and stated aloud to the spirits present that we would check on the other memorabilia and souvenirs to see if they had fallen too.

Walking to the books, we were ginger in our steps, keeping an eye out for oddities. Upon looking at the books, we were startled when one of the DVDs came off the shelf just as we asked, “Has anything else fallen?”

You can see the incident caught on camera here.  It is posted on YouTube.

The movie in question on the shelf was a documentary on Titanic, of course. What else would jump off the shelf like a passenger trying to disembark a sinking ship?

As you can see from the footage captured, your host was clearly startled. It must have amused Richard and the other resident ghosts of the library.

It’s just another day at home when your housemates are spirits from another era.

Hold the Dark, Pass the Baloney

DATELINE: Not a Howl to be Had!

Wright is wrong

Wright is wrong.

When this movie starts with an unlikely quote from poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, we know we have gone to where over-education lives. We just didn’t know that was in the Alaskan wilderness.

Hold the Dark is a 2018 production that wants to be Stanley Kubrick’s ponderous return to the screen. Unfortunately, Kubrick is dead and this weird paranormal, abnormal plot tosses a bone to the wild wolves who’d be at home at the Overlook Hotel or Nosferatu’s Castle.

Yup, paranormal wolves are taking children in the woods, like some kind of bad fairy tale of yore. So, the mother of one victim calls in Jeffrey Wright as an expert on wolves out of their element (fresh out of Westworld) to help her post-traumatic soldier/husband Alexander Skarsgaard (fresh out of True Blood).

The monsters here aren’t exactly werewolves, but there is some inexplicable and illogical secret about the people living up in Alaska. No one is called Palin. It never is revealed what is happening, but it’s hardly worth the effort to figure it out.

Good luck with this colossal waste of time.

Everything is extreme in the movie, including pointless tedium: especially shining Nature and the weather, whether it’s Iraqi desert storms or Alaskan blizzards. We are not where metaphor blows mildly.

There is a police massacre that defies any purpose, except blood-letting by a minor character who holds them at bay. It is ridiculous, hardly mysterious. It’s offensive to make vets mass murderers.

That’s not to say Hold the Dark is a bad movie. It’s simply pointless. We just wonder why anyone gave this a green-light. Who exactly is the audience? We mean, besides the film production company’s relatives and creditors.

If you are willing to stick with this movie for its two hours and a couple of minutes, you will know the filmmakers loved it. They dote on every image as if the calling up the spirit of David Lynch’s cutting room floor sweepings.

Set-ups and simile details are not exactly a marvel, more like a tad overwrought, but atmosphere is art for its own sake. Hold on. The dark is always with us, and we are left in it.

 

 

Dressmaker, Murderer, and Arsonist?

DATELINE:  Dunga-Hill Something, Australia

audrey winslet As Tilly Dunnage

When you have an Australian comedy-murder mystery-revenge story called The Dressmaker, you may begin like a house afire. Sadly, it ends the same way literally, which is not so hot.

Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth are both highly watchable in the lead roles, and extremely attractive.

Though when Tilly (Winslet) arrives in 1951 back to her childhood home looking like a Parisian model, her opening statement indicates that she is out for revenge. Alas, that doesn’t really transpire until almost the end of the movie. Mostly she torments the rugby teams.

We never saw Audrey Hepburn play an arsonist/murderer.

Kate Winslet looks stunning coming off a bus in the middle of the outback, looking like the Paris runway was down the street. The film echoes many 1950s movies, like the Audrey Hepburn vehicles where she wore the best Dior.

The film is highly entertaining for the first 90 minutes, then sinks by its own dead weight. And we do mean dead.

The Dressmaker comes with her Singer sewing machine and starts to make gorgeous gowns and day wear. We did wonder where all that material came from. Why quibble?

With stylish clothing worn by the women cast in stunning transformation, it is reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn’s appearance in Sabrina. Indeed, the film is a throwback to 1950, when the characters even go see Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard.

Of course, the rub is that the dressmaker has amnesia when it comes to having murdered a childhood playmate. The police sergeant is a cross-dressing friend, thank heavens.

Did Winslet‘s character kill a young boy? With the cast of characters being strangely off- putting, you will be intrigued. For a while.

The movie devolves into soapy opera in the final 30 minutes. There are so many deaths you need a scorecard to figure out who’s killing whom and why.

However, the early visuals are so striking and unforgettable, you almost forgive the bad ending.

 

Two Godfathers in Righteous Kill

DATELINE:  Pacino & De Niro as Cop Team

two godfathers

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro have made several movies together. We were surprised by the 2008 entry called Righteous Kill from 2008. When this is all we will ever receive from the two legends in tandem, we take it gladly ten years later.

You have a special treat with this movie. The two legendary actors play New York detective partners. They must’ve flipped a coin to see who got which role. We suspect they have equal numbers of scenes, but play off each other quite well. Nothing less could be expected.

Their Lieutenant played by Brian Dennehy, notes that they must have about 120 years experience between them. Yes, they seem a little long in the tooth and beyond retirement age. This is especially noticeable in De Niro’s love scenes to a girl more than half his age.

Their foil cop detectives are played by John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg, more age-appropriate detectives. They play mincemeat for laughs to the stars. Pacino calls them gay Starsky and Hutch.

There are many 60s and 70s references in this movie, like it should’ve been made 25 years earlier.

However, the stars will not disappoint their fans. Short of them playing mobsters, these roles are the best they probably could find in a script together.

The mystery about the serial killer may easily be figured out,  But the fun is watching Pacino and De Niro act up a storm.

Righteous kill pushes all the right buttons. It is formulaic, yes, but De Niro and Pacino transcend.

To prove we watched every minute including the credits, we can tell you that Pacino and De Niro each has a hairdresser; each has his own make up artist; each needs a personal Stand-in, and each has a personal driver, But Pacino has two personal assistants to De Niro’s one.

The movie is a game of one upsmanship.

 

 

 

 

Safe & Secure NFL Players

 DATELINE: Crime Watch, NFL-Style

Zo mark

Community policing is alive and well in Frostbite Falls, at the Super Bowl.

Rest easy, you Patriots and Eagles, in the sanctity of your locker rooms.

Your NFL security is at work—unlike last year when someone in the fake media had the temerity to take Tom Brady’s blouse when he stripped down.

This year no player will lose his shirt—or pants—before he is ready to surrender them to the Hall of Fame.

The media isn’t the only one with a chip on its shoulder. Now, the NFL is making sure that fake media have been given the chip that is usually associated with your pet. Not under the skin yet.

If a member of the press does not press in or out, the computer will mark them out permanently. Heaven forbid that some careless sports reporter mislays his innocence.

If you lose your chip, you won’t be able to cash in.

Players no longer need fear losing their pants, but their heads and hearts still belong to the media member with the biggest calling card.

It’s a short jump betwixt the shower and the stall and your memorabilia will no longer be available for grabs like some wedding dress at the discount bridal store. The worst that can happen is that someone may sniff your jockstrap, but they will leave it on you (for those who wear undergarments—not many based on our unofficial count).

When you go to the shower, or to visit the winner’s circle, you may rest easy that upon returning, your uniform will be pressed into some branded designer bag, ready to go home, as you are either nursing your wounds, or stuffing your pants with confetti from the winner’s circle.

 

Melania Trump: All Wet Look in Texas Flood

DATELINE: Capri Pants Optional

melania

Mr. Ed knew some thing about lucky shoes. He had four of them, for all kinds of weather.

Melania Trump should take a lesson from the knowledgeable TV star. She has now reached the exalted heights of a talking horse—and her shoes may be most unlucky. The heels were longer than a hummingbird beak.

Choosing to accompany the President on a trip to flood ravaged Houston, Texas, to meet up with Harvey the 50-inch rainfall hurricane, Mrs. Trump wore black stiletto heels on her bare feet. We presumed the open-toed look was to let the water in and out as she stepped into puddles.

No one told her that sunglasses were not needed on a cloudy day. Her bombardier jacket was, however, the right touch—because critics were about to dump on her shoddy shoes. We would be the last person to suggest rubbers for Melania, or even the President, mainly because they usually will be ill-fitting for stilettos.

Holy water, whatever do the Trumps think when they go out to become the first tourists in a natural disaster, the likes of which now rival the Johnstown Flood of the 19th century?

No one expects Melania to need waders as she slogs her way through flooded streets. Indeed, we don’t expect Melania to step over any puddles as she is taking Air Force One, not a puddle-jumper.

We also expect that Mr. Trump will be as gallant as Sir Walter Raleigh who doffed his coat and let the First Lady of England, Queen Elizabeth I, walk across water like she was the anointed apostle of the Church of England. Melania did not wear a crown, only a FLOTUS hat to the flood. No irony intended.

When Mrs. Trump landed in Texas, she skipped trying to look like Jackie Kennedy disembarking with her President. She wore her hair in a pony tail, a la Mr. Ed, and she had exchanged her stiletto heels for a pair of Michael Jordan jumpers for kicks.

No, she did not bring the wet T-shirt this time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Sale Takes Pants (and Shirt) Half Off the Rack

DATELINE: Kindest Cut of All

catwalker

Chisox baseball player Chris Sale has become a folkhero to fashionistas.

Having slashed the uniforms of his team to prevent showing up at the party in ugly pajamas, he has been suspended five games—and faces a likely trade to a winning team.

In a scene reminiscent of Psycho, the starting pitcher slashed prices of clothes by cutting off an arm and a leg. By sabotaging the throwback uniforms, untucked and knee high britches, Sale has sailed into the realm of baseball legend.

We’ve heard of players being cut, but this is the first time a player has cut his team’s shirt. This is no tale out of whole cloth, but it may be a tale of holes in the cloth.

If you don’t like the uniform, a new form of protest is available. You may not be able to bring a gun into the stadium, but no one is stopping you from carrying a butcher’s knife into the locker room.

Tom Brady has been suspended for 25% of the season for knowing about air deflation of balls. He never sliced and diced the team logo.

The price of chopping up pajamas is to be suspended for. Let’s do the quick math. It is more like a suspension for 3% of the season.

We may have noticed that baseball has low overhead. And, Boston is a buyer’s market. Sale may be a cheap commodity to trade for in a bullish market. Red Sox uniforms may be made of sterner stuff.

Chris Sale may be sailing on the open sea before trade deadlines and the SEC gets wind of his tactics.