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.

 

Proof is Out There, Way Out

DATELINE:  Faster than a speeding bullet…

A new history show is mercifully short, only thirty minutes in an age when an hour or more is standard.

The Proof is Out There has a host, a former journalist named Tony Harris, who introduces videos of strange phenomena—and throws it to the various science experts in fields of computers, meteorology, audio, and so forth. They are to determine if the video submitted, and often viral on the Internet, is fake stuff.

On the night we caught it, the show seemed to focus on ball lightning, mysterious orbs (only outdoors), and strange horn-like, prolonged sound recorded in someone’s backyard.

One scientist sees bird wings flapping as a big ball of light comes out of a cloud. It is going like a jet, and we see nothing remotely like wings. Of course, we were not hired as a consultant.

You will hear terms like glitch in the matrix, and the parallax effect. It may be more like the B.S. Effect.

Of course, we hear all the theories—from apocalyptic Biblical evidence to foo fighters or government technology.

The proof may be in the pudding, but it seems never to be in these videos. One is called “doctored,” but most are simply inexplicable. They seem better suited for William Shatner’s kookoo bird show, UnXplained.  So, you watch and you consider, but don’t expect proof. It ain’t here.

We suspect this series won’t be out there for long.

Oh, Mummy! Daddy Shatner Tells All

Missing Booth Mummy, 1920s

DATELINE:  UnXplained Makes Dead Speak Again

 

After several dull weeks, the series UnXplained  now gives Shatner some outrageous narration—and he delivers as only he can. From his opening warning that the show will depict mummification and viewers are advised to be ready for the horror.

Mr. Shatner is never more amusing than when he must play archly ironic. Discussing bringing the dead back to life seems to energize him.

This wild episode casts a wide net. It begins with the most famous ancient mummy, King Tut, found in 1922 by Howard Carter, recapping that legend. It shifts to the self-mummification practice in Japan several hundred years ago when living Buddhist monks slowly poisoned themselves, in a drying out process, to become mummies.

Shatner’s onerous tones warn us several times about “disturbing imagery,” but it is likely the enhanced, colorized photos of the alleged mummy of John Wilkes Booth that might be rather startling.

Recounting the tale of how Booth escaped, and how he was mummified by arsenic by a local undertaker, his body was taken by Finis L. Bates, now called a carnival barker, who showed the body at the St. Louis World’s Fair. After that, it was displayed for twenty years before disappearing.

Other notable mummies are not to be outdone. Take Bernadette, born in 1844, who saw the Virgin Mary 18 times before she died. Once dug up, she was perfectly preserved to become a saint. However, they had to coat her body with wax and put her in a hermetically sealed glass coffin.

The same for Lenin is explored. He is systematically “recharged” every few years by scientists who make him look younger for public display.

Shatner takes some pleasure in explaining about cryogenics, or freezing dead remains for later reanimation. He also notes that an Egyptian mummy recently had its voice box enhanced to create his “voice” 3000 years after the fact.

All in all, this remains one of the most death-defying of all shows in the UnXplained series.

 

 

 

One Step Beyond’s Spooky Storyline

Stepping Out

 DATELINE: First Season Titanic Show

On the 62ndanniversary of the show called One Step Beyond, just after watching the last 2020 documentary on Titanic, we tuned into the seond episode of the series that predated Twilight Zone.

Of course, One Step Beyond  based its episodes on real historical events, like the Titanic disaster.  Rod Serling used fictional stories about a far-out dimension in time and space.

John Newland was your host and also the director of the episode, a rather low-budget black and white show with some stock footage from the 1953 movie about Titanic.

In this show, Newland begins with showing an unknown book in the library from 1889, which he keeps to himself, but will reveal at the end of the half-hour.

The main story is about a newly-wed Grace who dreams she will drown. Then, her bridegroom husband arranges a honeymoon on Titanic.

End of suspense. Yet, the story also threw in a couple of other precognitive incidents: a passenger who has free-floating anxiety about the ship—and in Canada, a minister who changes the church service choir song to one about a sinking ship.

These incidents were actually in the minor key of paranormal, but perhaps others were not so well-known. The real author W.T. Stead also wrote a story about a luxury ship that hit an iceberg. But, Stead on on board. The 1889 novel, Futility, was the second prediction novel.

The series had spooky little riff that came up on the sound-track at suitable moments, which may be the most memorable aspect of the show.

 

 

 

 

Another Day on Oak Island, Season 8

Swamp Thing

 DATELINE: When Nothing is Big 

Let’s cut to the chase and to what you really want to hear: No, no Erin Helton this week. Sorry, folks, though her mapping notions were verified again. That’s your Curse of Oak Island.

In the immortal, if not repetitive words of Robert Clothworthy, your narrator, another day begins on Oak Island with the usual suspects.  Dr. Ian Spooner and Rick Lagina are back at the swamp where Spooner directs the digging by backhoe by Billy to uncover a flat area road. We are puzzled by this as there seems to be nothing flat: three levels of stone placed deliberately.

The upshot is they need artifacts to date the construction timetable.

Gary Drayton is pivotal again, finding something called a plumb bob, which is an ancient tool to make sure you are digging level.

The biggest news comes via Craig Tester, not on the island this year, as Covid keeps him in Michigan, but through Zoom, he appears with news about the Serpent Mound.

The archaeologist Dr. Aaron  and his blond assistant Miriam are back at the table to hear that the nails and coal found at the mound are now carbon-dated to around 1350. That’s Templar time, folks.

More and more items are coming up with that date, indicating Oak Island was busy around the time the Templars were being hunted down.

The consensus came out that this was highly significant because it seems to outdo the Viking visitors with a mysterious purpose for work on Oak Island. Do we dare think Ark of the Convenant?

It’s a week when the smallest detail may be the biggest of the show’s history.

Feeding the Birdies

Bye, bye, Birdie?

 DATELINE: Keep Your Eye on the Birdie

Not quite having devolved into the state of Nikola Tesla feeding pigeons in Central Park, we have nonetheless taken a turn toward pity toward fellow creatures.

With the overnight ice storm, the ground is a white frozen tundra and the little chickadees and finches in the backyard seem forlorn. They hop in and stand there as if frozen to the ground.

So, we went out to spread good cheer and a little birdseed.

What then transpired from the vantage of the patio window was Nature’s call in spades. It was an all-you-can-eat bonanza in town. It was also the only eatery open. So, the birds descended like Hitchcock nightmare.

It was like McDonald’s drive-thru with crash cars. IN an expanse, the birds came crashing down on top of the previous eater, knocking him away. So much for good manners. It was also eat and run.

The chickadees seemed to take one seed and fly up to the tree to eat in peace. They returned a few seconds later to repeat the ritual dining.

A little flinch stayed and gobbled up all he could as fast as he could. These are notorious sloppy eaters. If you drop a seed, the next bird quickly devours it. Table scraps are at a premium. The birds clocked in every three seconds.

We found they went for the large black seeds first. They disdained the small white seeds, and only when the first choice was gone did they partake of the left-overs.

We had our culinary lesson of the year. Birds do not keep social distance when it comes to a food fight.

Tesla was on to something by watching this sideshow.

Bogged Down on Oak Island

Erin Helton

DATELINE: Erin Goes Wild

We haven’t seen quite a powerful reaction to a new member of the cast as has been given to Erin Helton, the new resident cartographer. Curse of Oak Island has a new big star.

Somebody has noticed, as she now makes a weekly appearance, and this time she was right at the top of the show with her theories being encouraged and appreciated by the Laginas—not your usual first reaction from them. Marty flatters her for having one of the “best minds.” Wow.

Some have asked if she is Rick’s new girlfriend, which is fairly amusing. Erin is young enough to be his daughter and smart enough to see what she’d be getting. In fact, ciphers are here specialty. She tells us that Zena’s Templar map has shown exactly where the treasure vault is.

More and more dating on the island discoveries is going deeper into the past. Seven weeks after finding that Chinese coin, they bring is a numismatist who tells them it is over 1000 years old. Speculation centers on that it was a lucky coin until someone lost it. But when were lucky coins popular, and where did you keep them? We doubt that Knights Templar had wallets or pockets.

Gary Drayton is still the best worker on the show—taking Peter Fornetti out and finding a wharf pin that he estimates is older than 1700 era.

Dr. Eric Taylor is now the on-site archaeologist and works on the Serpent Mound, putting it again, at least 1000 years ago. It is now becoming evident that Templar, or even pre-Templar treasure was placed on Oak Island.

For good measure, Erin Helton puts in a second appearance by telephone later in the show. That’s the power of stardom.

 

Autopsy on Andy Warhol

No House Calls Please: Dr. Hunter

DATELINE:  Squeamish Forensic Show

Dr. Michael Hunter, host of the Reelz network series called Autopsy, is said to be a leading forensic pathologist in a major American city. It’s unnamed to protect the innocent.

In his series, you must come to trust his judgment and theories, as he either confirms or adds to the official closing on the lives of famous singers, celebrities, or people in the news. We thought to look at his outlier, Andy Warhol, surely a famous figure, but one highly misunderstood and often dismissed.

Since Warhol died in 1987, at age 58, there are only a few first-person friends who agree to be interviewed for their insights. These include a biographer, a fellow photographer of lesser note, and Warhol’s two nephews. They are all highly devoted and deeply mournful over his loss, even decades later.

The case of Andy Warhol starts in youth, as Hunter points out that he had rheumatic fever as a child and watched his parents succumb to hospital ineffective treatment. It made him cautious of hospitalization, and finally terrified of even driving past one.

Andy never took recreational drugs, which seems a surprise to Hunter, but he leaps on two points. Warhol took one diet pill every day and was hooked on painkillers like Demerol (and for good reason).

Despite his suffering and weird social life, Warhol was a hard-working and productive artist whose playful media image made him seem slightly ridiculous.

Hunter does describe the horrific attack by nutcase Valerie Solanis who shot Warhol multiple times in 1968 and left him a pitiful shell. He had incisive hernias and had to wear a girdle to hold in his intestines for 20 years. Adhesions and scars gave him intestinal pain, and he never wanted to see his naked body, riddled with scars.

What Hunter fails to note is that Warhol’s would-be killer was a free woman after 3 years in a mental hospital. He was terrified she would return and finish the job. He used body doubles (also apparently unknown to Hunter) and photos may be of a double, not Andy. He also used assumed names and avoided public appearances where Solanis might find him.

He refused gall bladder surgery for years, and finally relented. It went well, but the patient still died mysteriously. Warhol’s death is inexplicable even by modern pathology, and you may feel Andy’s pain. He did not deserve the horrid fate he suffered.

Roswell, Part Three, End All

Marcel’s Wreckage from UFO

DATELINE: New Info on Roswell

The results of History’s Greatest Mysteries  may be the least disappointing of a well-produced series. You can’t have a steal of home base on every episode, but the show has taken the safe road nearly every time.

The Roswell investigation has uncovered some disturbing testimony that contradicts government coverups of 70 years, now by grandchildren of the original witnesses. If you add new technology into the mix as a means of corroborating, you have a new case.

If there is anything to be claimed, it is that your U.S. government cannot be trusted.

Researcher Ben Smith starts with a 1981 taped interview with a college journalist who became Dr. Linda Corley who managed to extract more info from Major Jesse Marcel:  the marks were written on a block of wood (or something like wood) in a Tyrolean Note form of ancient writing.

When apprised of this, he backed off: someone came and threatened him from an unknown agency. Men in black?

His notebook was written by a colleague who had a home-made code, nearly impossible to break. Marcel did begin to reveal more and more as the 1980s came, shortly before his death. He may even have kept some artifacts to prove his case, but they are now “lost.”

Another officer not interviewed previously told his relatives that he was in charge of destroying files. He may have written the memo book. His name was Patrick Saunders, and now another name is added to the registry of fame.

If you want that smoking gun, it isn’t here. Nothing is definitive, but everything is suggestive. Key information is being withheld, but we do hear that U.S. military radar used some kind of ray to shoot down UFOs, about six in a year in New Mexico in the late 1940s. So, the flying saucers were not smashed up because of bad drivers.

We could only think of Nikola Tesla and his death ray.

 

Part Two on History’s Roswell

DATELINE: More Roswell Insights

History’s Greatest Mysteries starts off the second of three episodes with a bang:  the journal of Maj. Jesse Marcel was written by someone else, likely one of the fellow officers at the base where he found the UFO (or weather balloon) wreckage.

The researcher for this miniseries seems to be hot on the trail of something, and Laurence Fishburne intones that we are in “uncharted territory.”

The real issue of this episode is the “Memo” held by Gen. Ramey after a press conference with the weather balloon. Whose signature is on the telegram? They hint it could be J. Edgar Hoover and his code name “Temple.”

Whatever, they bring in microscopic and electronic microscopes to read the memo.

Of course, these shows have attention deficit issues and are back at Roswell, visiting the “Impact Site.”  Here is where witnesses saw little men wandering and others dead in a craft about the size of a Volkswagen bus about 40 miles north of Roswell.

Marcel’s journal is brought to a York, PA, professor of math who is a cryptologist. One look at the journal and he sees a cipher with “biliterate code.” That’s using cap letters in mid-printed word.

Ben Smith, main researcher, also consults a body language expert to show Marcel interviews from years ago. She seems to think he believes what he says.

The sheriff’s elderly daughter reports with a broken heart that what the Roswell officer saw and the pressure the government put on him drove him to lose his mind within a few years. He claimed to have seen the alien bodies.

The final five minutes seem a rush to bring together all the expert points—but fear not. There is another episode coming. History Channel is truly investing in this historical issue, making a miniseries within the miniseries. 

 

Oak Island: Mountain or Ant Hill

Key to what?

 DATELINE: Too Much Unexplained

Every episode of Curse of Oak Island  begins with the onerous tones of Robert Clotwothy announcing it’s “the start of another day,” on Oak Island. It’s beginning to sound like “Once upon a time….”

But this show has our usual workers up early and doing their jobs: Peter Fornetti is the digger with Gary Drayton’s metal detecting. He always finds something interesting, and a trail of ox shoes from 1700 may be indicating a path to glory.

Diving is one of the big tasks this week, looking at some unusual features outside the swamp area. We always enjoy seeing the younger generation take charge—and this time, it is Alex Lagina, Peter Fornetti, and Jack Begley who go off with experienced diver Tony Sampson.

Another new research assistant, named Noah Currie, shows up without much fanfare or explanation with Gary Drayton. In one sequence Drayton finds what appears to be a giant, ancient key. Not much is made of this unusual finding.

The locate some wild metal detections, but are not allowed to dig to learn what it is. These restrictions tend to make the entire operation futile and senseless. The young researchers fail to make any point about some electromagnetic interference with their communication system.

Marty Lagina thinks putting fins on Gary Drayton might give better results.

The oddest thing of the episode was the discovery of the molehill:  there is a serpent mound on the island, a long twisty arrangement of stones and earth. Experts come by to contribute to the mystery, noting some serpent mounds can be 2000 years old and are ceremonial.

We wait till the re-appearance of Erin the cartographer next week.

Ancient Aliens Take on Noah & the Great Flood

Ganymede: Boy-napped!

 DATELINE: They’re No Angels!

You can call this week Land of the Giants, Part 2. After looking at the Big Deal of Big Men around Campus, we turn now to a Biblical evidence of angels and cutting problems down to size.

Ancient Aliens love a tall tale. This week we continue to rattle off pie in the sky.

The theory is that Noah was a giant albino, genetically engineered to save mankind from a group of unpleasant giant aliens. And, for good measure, those angels were actually physical beings working as messengers.

So, we have Enoch and some of the first alien abduction stories. This includes Zeus boy-napping Ganymede with a giant eagle for more than prurient reasons. It was truly abduction with an abusive angle.

These are dangerous texts not meant for everyone’s eyes. So, the Hebrew and Christian Bibles were much smaller than the Book of Giants that predates Genesis. It seems those Big Boys weren’t playing nice, being cannibals of human flesh. Noah had to rid the world of these pests.

And, Noah had help: 200 Watchers, who were angels with clipped wings. They were using misunderstood technology to ferry around the world. The Great Flood is more likely to be indicated by geological evidence.

If you’re wondering why there was a Great Flood after the Great Pyramid, you have to look for solar flares that melted the ice caps and flooded the world. This burnt layer is 50 feet deep all around the world, proving the theory, say the alien theorists.

Enoch took off with his alien buds, but announced he’d return eventually.

 

 

 

Roswell & History Channel

Jesse Marcel 1947, 1980.

 DATELINE: New Evidence Forthcoming?

With its Cadillac history investigation series with Laurence Fishburne, we had little hope for more than another cover-up with their new program. All the past shows have ignored and distorted enough evidence to support traditional and conventional theories that we don’t expect much.

The episode, however, has promise—as they have been contacted by the grandchildren of the  first government official to visit the crash site. They have their grandfather’s journal from that era.

Major Jesse Marcel found odd wreckage covering a large desolate area—and for years he stayed quiet when the material he discovered was exchanged for debris from a weather balloon. He was incensed at being so used—and in 1980, shortly before he died, gave an interview to Leonard Nimoy’s In Search of TV series.

The former CIA researcher has to authenticate the journal, which is gibberish (in code?) and in different styles of handwriting (to mask identity?). Or, was there a second writer?

We immediately suspected Marcel’s pre-pubescent son took the journal and was writing in it, innocently and apart from the crash controversy.

However, we first notice that the TV show re-enactor for Major Marcel has the uniform of a corporal. So much for care to accuracy.

The investigation at the site includes drones, radiation measurements, and ground-penetrating radar. Soil samples will date when some heat-related activity occurred in this remote area.

Ben Smith, lead investigator, discovers there is much protection of privacy from children and grandchildren of witnesses. Mac Brazel, the rancher who found the debris, has an elderly grandson who also is reclusive but reveals what he knows.

The journal is genuine, according to the expert, and the second part of this fascinating study is forthcoming. There is only one writer, despite the odd change in handwriting. Everyone suspects it is in code.

 

 

 

 

Black Life, 1950

Legendary Ethel Waters

DATELINE: Guest Writer Today

Back in 1950, the first time I saw a black person I was two-years old. I had never seen any such people of color.

My mother took me one day to Woolworth’s Five and Dime. It was always pleasant because they had a soda fountain, and often we stopped for ice cream.

One day we did not.

As was my habit, I wandered away from mother who was preoccupied at some bin of clothing. As I turned the corner and looked up, there standing at another bin doing her shopping was an elderly black woman, immaculately dressed and even with a hat squarely on her head.

In those days, you dressed up even to go out for a walk.

Of course, she did not notice me, but I screamed in horror and pointed at her with alarm.  I was traumatized and shocked.

Never in my life had I seen such a thing: a human of such color!. My mother ran over and apologized profusely, and the old lady was without reaction. Later I would imagine she had experienced far worse in her long life.

My mother dragged me out of the store, explaining repeatedly that there was nothing wrong with her: the old lady was not ill, nor disfigured. Her skin was a dark color, that’s all. She was born that way. Some people in the world were of different skin color. I am not sure that mollified me.

Later in the week, she sat me before our tiny round-screen TV set (a tiny Zenith model, first on the block) and put on a show called Beulah,which starred the marvelous and legendary singer and actress Ethel Waters .

It was a rarity: TV with black people back then. Beulah was the benevolent and wise housemaid to a family of rich white people. She solved their problems with grace and respect on each episode. It was some kind of fantasy world.

But that was life in 1950. When I thought about today’s human rights movement, Black Lives Matter, the little silly incident came back to my memory.

Roswell UFO Conspiracy Unlocked

Philip Mantle

DATELINE:  Not again?

Good heavens, not another Roswell saucer crash history? This has just been released as an hour-long documentary of 2020. Can there be anything new here? We were held in place because this looked like a high-quality and stylish film, well-produced.

It became somewhat worse after the first half that went over fairly worn ground. It used some interviews with notable people from the case, Dr. Jesse Marcel, Jr. and Frankie Rowe, two young people in 1947 who have since died.

Their participation is noted by main narrator Philip Mantle, a British UFO expert and investigator for 40 years or more. He is straight-forward and pleasant enough. His perspective is the mainstay of the movie.

The worse part becomes the second half that is a new, kind of apology for the alien autopsy movie that has long been debunked as fake.

Ray Santilli, its producer, is an associate of Mantle who seems to think he is Mickey ready to hit a home run for revealing some new info on the 1993 phony and grotesque autopsy on some hideous little person who looks pregnant.

Mantle comes across as a dedicated and sincere researcher who has dedicated his life to solving a mystery and feels that one theory is that there was an original autopsy film from the 1947 era, whether faked by the CIA or real that resembled the fictional recreation done in a style that would never have passed muster in a World War II military.

Something may still be out there that has confused witnesses of the original and the fake that seems like new footage from the original.

This odd film does enough to raise again the ugly specter of the alien autopsy being real, just not the one you’ve seen on TV and Internet.