Hunting for Zodiac Killer: History (s1) for Openers

DATELINE: Armchair Detectives

 zodiac killer Purported Zodiac Killer

Whether you’re hunting for Hitler or cursing Oak Island, you know you must have clicked onto the streaming History channel.

Their first season of Hunt for the Zodiac Killer delivers exactly what you come to expect from the cable TV’s pop history purveyors. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you like your reality stars always self-congratulating each other for their brilliant detective skills.

If The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer sounds like one of those fake news documentaries, you probably would be right. Yet, it is a cold case and being insoluable should not mean it is not ripe for re-examination.

Fifty years after the legendary1960s serial murderer unofficially killed 37 innocent people and left a calling card of cryptological taunts with a unbreakable code, the network has assembled a reality show with a formula that can’t miss entertaining fans of psycho monsters running amok.

These researchers give Zodiac his due—and find even more victims to offer History Channel and history buffs.

When you put two retired homicide detectives in the field doing legwork like Sam spade and Philip Marlowe, then match them with a couple of cryptographical scientists and nerds with computers, you stir deliberately.

You have suddenly a fascinating show.

The gum shoes and the nerds play ping-pong with the clues. We keep telling ourselves that a supercomputer that has been programmed to think and act like a serial killer is not a good idea.

We keep wondering when the computer will turn into the Forbin Project supercomputer  or HAL from 2001. Then again, the Zodiac maniac seems even brighter than Carmel, the computerized serial killer finder.

Before you know it, you may be hooked on the revelations. Several police departments refused to cooperate, at their own peril. They look like impediments to the crime solving.

By turning the zodiac killer into a mad genius, the show has a winning formula – and a frightening one.

 

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Belichick’s Holiday TV Special Again This Year!

DATELINE:  God Bless Those Steelers Too

merry

Back like the Macy Parade or Peewee Herman for another holiday special, Bill Belichick will host the grandest Xmas party on the streaming web, as in previous jolly seasons.

Unfortunately, only those with access to the DarkNet will be able to download this journey to the dark-side of Christmas in Pittsburgh.

Past holiday specials have been about as much fun as watching Marley’s Ghost drag his chains.

However, Belichick’s Army of Zombie Fans cannot get enough of the best coach in the history of football singing his favorite Xmas carols, including “God Rest Ye Merry Steelers,”  and “Juggled Balls” with Gronk and Cooks.

This year will be even more special than his many past holiday treats.

Tom Brady will be on board for a stocking-stuffer not to be missed. He is expected to reveal that, as he grows younger every day, he has a portrait of Belichick in his attic that grows more sour-looking and ugly with age. You will enjoy it when he presents Belichick with a gift of a “Sock Slider,” for oldsters who need help putting on their shoes.

And you thought that was happening every game on the sidelines!

Another highlight of this year’s holiday show will be when Gronk puts Coach Belichick on his back and they run around the endzone, doing a turkey trot to celebrate the winning touchdown.

It has been a long hard audition this season to find whether the elves, Amendola and Edelman, will double as Tiny Tim. Giving them a hard run for the job is Matthew Slater who has been practicing his “God bless us everyone” ad nauseum.

Another annual moment of levity shall be when owner Mr. Robert Kraft opens his gifts to discover a lifetime supply of dress shirts with different color collars to go with his only white blouse. Some think Roger Goodell will re-gift Kraft with a draft pick.

Guest appearances by Roger Goodell and Jerry Jones are expected as players will try to dunk them into a big watertank by tossing footballs at them from a kneeling position.

President Trump will lie about producing the show and tweet that he was going to be extra special guest of the year, but turned them down. He will then fire Tom Brady.

Marshawn Lynch is expected to spoil the big holiday eggnog when he does a Mexican hat-dance with Belichick, and it brings a thunderstorm over Mexico City.

NFL Network, Roku, Apple TV, and Brit Box are clamoring for exclusive rights to show this annual extravaganza of joy and end-zone celebrations.

Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime, annual tradition (again).

 

Among the Missing on Oak Island

 DATELINE:  Treasure Near?

Oak Island treasure?

 

If anyone is missing around Episode 6 during this new season of Curse of Oak Island, we would become alarmed. You might not see your “favorite” treasure hunters. This week we looked in vain for Dan Blankenship, Alex Lagina, and even Gary Drayton, our Australian metal detective. They are not present.

We did not expect to find the leader of the show, Rick Lagina, calling in sick. Described as a man who had not visited a doctor in 50 years, he came down with some mysterious illness. Heaven forefend that it reminded us of the Curse of King Tut taking down Lord Carnarvon.

Marty Lagina was suitably distraught that his brother did not show up at the dig site for an important event. It appeared he was suffering egregiously from headache and a variety of issues, related to a bull’s eye rash on his back.

You guessed it: the outdoorsman who spends most of his time traipsing through the Nova Scotian woods on Oak Island seemed to be bitten by a lyme disease tick.

Under medication and forbidden to expose himself to sunlight, he was notably absent. However, he returned under medication to reveal the first step of testing to odd objects located at 165 feet into the latest dig spot:  they have found human bone that belonged to two, count’em, two different people.

As one bone still had skin and hair attached, it is hoped that DNA will reveal a great deal about who and when.

Additional instruments from another scientist indicated that they were near some strange place where book parchment, yes, old leather, like on a Shakespearean manuscript has been located.

 

 

 

 

Galapagos Affair: 1930s Murder Mystery

DATELINE:  Add a Fake Baroness to a Gilligan’s Island Scenario

 Galapagos Affair

Dora & Dr. Ritter, suspects or victims?

When the film uses the tag: “Darwin meets Hitchcock…,” we are totally hooked instantly. Yes, this is a true 1930s murder mystery that would shock Hercule Poirot and confound Sherlock Holmes.

In 1929, Floreanana, Galapagos, was an uninhabited island where B. Traven, Greta Garbo, and J.D. Salinger would have been happy. A German doctor, Friedrich Ritter and his lover Dore Strauch settled there 60 miles from another human being. This is what Herman Melville called the Enchanted Islands, but where ancient tortoises put a curse on visitors.

Within a few years the island was colonized by a middle-class German family named Wittner—and then a colorful woman who called herself a Baroness Eloise von Wagner with her “two husbands.” She claimed imperiously that she planned to build a hotel on the island for American millionaires—which did not go over well with the other four adult residents. No one owned any of it, but the territorial governor gave the Baroness miles of prime land for her project.

When these people took up life in the Edenic locale, they went slightly mad (or likely were already). This documentary uses extraordinary footage—and the brilliant voice-over of Cate Blanchett—to show how the alleged Baroness chose to become queen of her domain, to the point of killing anyone who trespassed on her personal paradise.

She even made a ridiculous movie on location in 1934, which gives this documentary some wildly odd footage of all involved.

With the unwieldy title of The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden, you have a startling and hypnotic documentary about lunacy in the world that Charles Darwin found a pristine lab of genetic development.

Newspaper headlines and docu-footage make this film a marvel of truth and sensational history. Who killed whom?  Everyone has a theory, but the Baroness and one husband disappeared, another husband met a foul end, and Dr. Ritter seems to have been poisoned.

Within a few years the original group was cut down by 2/3 by suspicious deaths. Who done it?  We defy you to figure it out from this marvelous documentary.

What Gives on Oak Island?

 DATELINE: Yo-ho-ho and a Bottle of Rum

avast there, matey! 

Actor Robert Newton as Your Standard Pirate in Treasure Island

Curse of Oak Island began to tantalize in strange and mysterious ways in the fifth episode of the fifth season.

If something has to give eventually, and secrets are the least valuable something buried by someone, we are about to have an epiphany this season.

Our favorite Australian metal seeker used one of his most powerful tools to uncover a 17th century spike on an odd stretch of beach on the island: the consensus concluded that it was used on a wharf or docking platform on the clear stretch of shore. By whom and why, we do not yet know.

Though hampered by dangerous equipment failure previously, the new safety measures allowed resumption of deep digging. White-gloved in a library dig, Alex Lagina and Charles Barkhouse dug into historical documents that indicated a different direction of the early tunnel system—which caused modifications in the dredging scheme.

The upshot of the search on this week’s show was that something significant was coming up from depths unheard of in previous searches.

At nearly 200 feet, pieces of pottery or porcelain was found. Though they joked it was a smashed teapot, the fact puzzled archeologist Niven who placed it, off-hand, in late 1700s—somewhat before the earliest treasure hunts.

Further compounding the importance of discoveries, pieces of something dense was located: presumed to be human bone at 165 feet. It is a rather deep plot for a burial. If you consider the old myths of putting a dead man with a buried treasure, you may have an imaginative conclusion that defies fanciful.

Can it be that our long, impatient process may yield something to sate greed and curiosity both?

Okay, we are more hooked than ever on our vicarious, armchair treasure hunt.

 

 

 

Old Applegate’s Treasure & Two Brothers

DATELINE:  Oak Island Inspiration?

 best boys

Tommy Kirk & Tim Considine as Hardy Boys

With The Curse of Oak Island not far from our thoughts, we certainly never expected a 60-year old TV series from Walt Disney to rival the Lagina Brothers. However, there is much parallel in the boys’ adventure notion of the Hardy brothers inspiring the Lagina boys.

The long-forgotten show is The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure, which had been serialized into ten-minute chunks on the old Mickey Mouse Club show.

We can certainly tell you that there is far more action on the old TV show as the young Hardy Boy detectives use their skills to locate a lost pirate treasure on the old Applegate estate.

The 3000 gold dubloons and pieces of 8 are mentioned as being worth thousands (in 1956 dollars), but today they would be worth a History channel bonanza.

The Hardy boys do the Laginas one better by bringing in a girl detective to liven up the action. The Laginas have no women in their war room powwows, but Frank and Joe Hardy have Iola. True enough, Joe throttles her now and then and is somewhat short-tempered and abusive, but it was a different time.

All the kid protagonists do battle with some interesting adult characters: standouts include Florenz Ames as the irascible and slightly nuts Silas Applegate, Robert Foulk as the handyman, and Arthur Shields (Barry Fitzgerald’s brother no less) as the mysterious villain interloper.

Only old Dan Blankenship trumps them all on Oak Island.

Auntie Gertrude Hardy is there, stalwart and obtuse, to take on anyone who crosses her boys. She even takes on her brother, Fenton, the Hardy boys’ father.

You could not ask for a more charming TV show about treasure hunting and boyhood adventure.

 

 

 

Directed by John Ford, Updated

DATELINE:  America’s Master Director

Johns Wayne & Ford

Johns Wayne & Ford

A documentary on the career of American film master John Ford really came about shortly before he died in 1971. A few years ago, Turner Classic Movies produced an update with newer interviews to go along with the original insights into Hollywood contrarian Ford.

This is one of those documentaries that will send you scurrying to watch the classics of the past: Directed by John Ford.

The result is to bring back Peter Bogdanovich decades later, with other modern masters like Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorcese, and Steven Spielberg, noting the importance of Ford to history.

The original narrator was Orson Welles—and his voiceovers continue with some amusing anecdotes added by Bogdanovich.

The heart of the film is always the clips of an endless 140-movie filmography of sheer brilliance, legendarily American.

We could fill the page with notable titles to remind you of what you have missed or should see again. If John Wayne, James Stewart, and Henry Fonda, are not enough, you might also ask Maureen O’Hara, another staple of his movie stock company of actors.

Use of musical motifs transcend his films whether set in Ireland or the Old West. His panoramas and vistas show invariably minor characters against the progression of history. And, Ford covered it all: from Revolutionary War, Old West, to World War II, as settings.

His films have composition that give peace and still-life of painting with deep emotional wallops. Color movies only gave his canvas more depth, but black and white looks documentarian.

Spielberg, among others, give more than cursory interviews. You have here insights into what challenge there was working with a genius of the first order: the belligerent, irascible curmudgeon who was John Ford.

New Book of Movie & TV Reviews

 “A compendium of enormous balderdash and overwrought and underthought insights!”

Mal Tempo, Long Time Ago book consultant

                                                    kindleredcarpet

If you enjoy Ossurworld’s movie and television reviews, with their unique and odd insights into what’s really happening in your favorite movies, then you are in luck! 

Red Carpet Tickets: Movie & TV Reviews collects the best of the blog reports in one place for easy access and reading.

The books is available for smarter readers, both in e-book and print formats, from Amazon.

If you want the perfect time-killer, Red Carpet Tickets is your ticket to ride. 

Ossurworld’s blogs on movies (& TV streams) select only films that you can and should devote time to watching. Bad films are rarely considered for examination. Bloated budgets, ridiculous acting, and skimpy budgets, will not hurt a film’s chances if something intelligent is presented. Ossurworld will let you know.

You can find Ossurworld’s new book online by simply clicking on this blue highlight!

Red Carpet Tickets: Movie & TV Reviews.  (This blog is a self-serving, commercial, and otherwise blatant attempt to win your appreciation of our mini-labors of Hercules.)

Matt Lauer: Latest Sexual Outlaw

DATELINE: Boys will be Dogs

Lauer Rabbit Lauer, Lauer, Pants on Fire

Whatever are we to make of NBC firing Matt Lauer for his sexual peccadillo?

We may start to see “Wanted” posters in the Post Office that depict men who are dogs. Come to think of it: most Post Offices already carry pictures of President Trump, the Commander-in-Chief of P***y Grabbers.

Lauer’s crime is singular. Only one accuser has come forward.  We now wonder about all those women co-anchors that Lauer had fired for being difficult.

However, he has gone where others like Moore, Trump, and John Conyers, survived with multiple allegations. Last count had Judge Moore up to 8, Trump up to 13, and Bill Cosby in the stratosphere.

What surprises us is that we always thought of Lauer as rather neutered, like one of the boy-band types like Menudo, for pre-pubescent girls.

If you had asked us to put money down on the chances of Lauer going sex mad, we’d have cruised down the gay side to say he’d be caught with a boy.

It just goes to show that we don’t know who or what we have invited into our living rooms through cable TV. We know the FCC airwaves are polluted and the GOP wants to keep it that way.

Lately we hear that Trump now thinks the tape on which he sexually attacked women’s genitals in his heart is a fake. Tell that to Billy Green Bush who was fired over the contretemps that catapulted Trump into the presidency. Or President Bush, #1, who has two charges against him lately.

Politics makes for strange bedfellows: and most of those are women voters who have no problems with being enticing and seductive. Of course, when Angela Lansbury laments women bringing on their own fate, she is pilloried. Make no accommodations for anyone over 90.

We have pointed out that, once you begin to shoot dogs with fleas, you will have a genocide on your hands.

 

 

Running in Place at Oak Island, Again, During Season 5

 DATELINE:  Oak Island Without Pity is the Pits

Wayne Herschel map Author Wayne Herschel’s map

Episode 4 of the fifth season of The Curse of Oak Island covered a two-week lull in treasure hunting.

This development came about after one of the power hoses, dredging at 200 feet exploded, injuring one of the drill company employees. It gave the Lagina brothers a chance to insist that safety comes before treasure.

Almost simultaneously, the metal detector expert, Gary Drayton, out looking for objects with the younger generation of searchers, came across a boy’s cap gun from the 1950s.

Not much detective work was needed to come to the conclusion that only one child was on the desolate island during that era. His name was Ricky Restall, younger son of one of the casualties of the hunt.

In 1965, modern searching came to an ugly conclusion with the death of four men: Robert Restall and his teenage son, and two others who tried to rescue them. The cause of death was asphyxiation from gases seeping from their shafts into the so-called Money Pit.

Though doubtful that the booby traps on Oak Island would include sophisticated gas leaks, we are not so sure it was not part of the grand scheme to keep the treasure, or whatever is down there, from being excavated.

Decades later, the younger son Richard Restall returned to the Island, as much for cleansing his spirit of the horrors as any other reason. He was rewarded with a reunion with his lost childhood toy gun.

The episode held us in place while awaiting with less and less patience for something to happen in terms of uncovering the mystery. If anything seemed settled, it was that the Island was not exactly friendly, or willing to share its mystery.

After hundreds of years of frustrating searches, this is not news. Perhaps the personification of Oak Island’s resistance, near stubbornness, convinces us that some larger force is indeed at work in Nova Scotia’s strange island.

 

Oak Island: Curtains to Curses

DATELINE:  Weekly Update #3

Rick lagina

Time for Just for Men?

As season five progresses, the series Curse of Oak Island seems in jeopardy.

From the off-season storms that decimated roads and other parts of the island, to the tragic death of the 17-year old son of Craig Tester we have had already sufficient warnings and dire omens.

The latest episode begins optimistically enough with the discovery of coins from the 1600s in a pile of dirt uncovered 60 years ago and never searched with a metal detector. We almost feel that the show will conclude successfully this season.

However, the good news became muted when the Canadian government sent a “cease and desist” letter to the Lagina operation, claiming they were vandalizing cultural artifacts after five years of digging.

After 400 years of hunters and hiders tunneling and bulldozing, and ravaging the little Nova Scotian island, this johnny-come-lately interference from some nitwit cultural ministry of do-gooders seems a day late and a dollar short.

In order to assuage the governmental cretins, the Lagina brothers agreed to hiring an archeologist to oversee their work. He promptly stops their digging when they overturn tree stumps and find indications of an old settlement.

We thought the troglodytes of do-good deeds only hid in the bowels of the US government, but the virus has spread to Canada’s guts for real adventure.

Rick Lagina seems crest-fallen. He might have to take that job with Just for Men for Beards. His jet-black hair mismatches his white beard—and he could make a fortune coloring both for an endorsement contract. He can draw on a big gay market, based on the number of people who ask us to find out if he’s gay.

Our other solution is far simpler. We suggest that Rick Lagina sacrifice himself by jumping head first into the Money Pit. This will end the curse instantly by giving the Island its seventh victim and reveal the treasure instantly—in our humble opinion.

 

 

James Baldwin: Nobody’s Negro

DATELINE:  A World Unchanged in 40 Years

 

James Baldwin.jpeg

I Am Not Your Negro is a striking documentary, based on an unfinished manuscript author James Baldwin was writing about Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Medgar Evers, all his friends who were murdered. Yes, he was bitter.

Baldwin never finished his book, but the documentary gives its due to the lives of these men and Lorraine Hansberry too, a tragic loss of a black author to cancer.

Baldwin was articulate, passionate, sensitive, and gentle. That the FBI designated him as dangerous may be more indicative of the racism of the era. He interacted with the most famous and infamous of the black movement of the 1960s, though he was on the periphery of politics.

His insights into what ails America stands as true today as it did when he was dismissed as too radical 40 years ago. He saw America through its movie-history lens—and found that white people (whom he liked and admired) were basically morally apathetic, which was a step away from being a moral monster.

The film’s voice is Samuel L. Jackson, reading Baldwin’s words, but there is also a stunning collection of rare historical TV clips. You see Baldwin on a panel with Marlon Brando, Joseph Mankiewicz, Charlton Heston, Harry Belafonte, and Sidney Poitier, discussing black rights. Amazing stuff.

How much would Baldwin be shocked by the insignificant changes in society since his early death in 1979? He scoffed at the notion of a black president, predicted by Robert Kennedy in 1965, in the dim future of 40 years, as being an insult.

Baldwin wanted white America to face its own black people whom he felt they never truly saw: even today, one study proved that racism lives in wedding photos. The number of white brides who had black people in their wedding party was miniscule.

We think James Baldwin would have snickered at such results, then cried.

Dangerous & Repressive Pakistan

DATELINE:  Gay as a Misnomer

Mawaan

Charming, affable, and entertaining Mawaan is a British citizen of Pakistani descent who decides to go back to his native land to see what it would be like to live there as a gay man. The documentary is chilling.

Twenty years ago, a Pakistani student told us that there was no gay life in Pakistan. If the religious fanatics learned of your sexuality, they would come in the night to murder you. End of story. No one would care.

Now years later, Mawaan’s visit basically discovers not much has changed. The British performer bravely takes in two of the biggest cities on his research: Lahore and Karachi where gay people live in abject terror that they could be discovered and stoned to death, blown up, or simply brutalized.

Mawaan spent two weeks there—and probably learned more than he cared to know. In the rural areas where he did not go, the worst extremists may reside and terrorize anyone with sexual behavior that diverts from traditional culture.

When Mawaan visits an imam, who is learned and civilized, he visibly flinches at the revelation that the young visitor is gay. His best advice is to leave the country, not an option for most gay Pakistanis.

Indeed, gay life exists, as it has for centuries, in secret. The designation MSM (Men Sleeping with Men) actually accounts for many because poor men cannot afford prostitutes and Muslim women are above sexuality. They end up sleeping with each other.

It is not a pretty picture with secret chambers in the darkest ghettos where such life takes place.

Gay parties are held in secret—and HIV health centers exist in fear that someone could throw a bomb at them at any time. We remained in awe at the courage of Mawaan to visit places in the most dangerous cities in the world.

This little documentary provides  extraordinary insight into repression and cruelty that still spawns hope in so many desperate people. Mawan is to be commended for uncovering the truth and showing the world the harsh life of gay people in Pakistan.

 

CGI Removes Kevin Spacey from Upcoming Movie

DATELINE:  All the $ in the World

 oops, not so fast     (Remove the name please.)

Ridley Scott has announced he will replace Kevin Spacey as J. Paul Getty in his already filmed movie, All the Money in the World.  Its trailers already released with Spacey will be revised.

This is a new wrinkle: replacing an actor in a film without bringing in the rest of the cast, re-shooting dozens of set scenes, or otherwise delaying the project much.

Through the miracle of computer generated effects, the face of Christopher Plummer will be overlaid atop Kevin Spacey, creating an entirely new character’s image in scenes the rest of the cast never filmed. Their reactions in the script will be to the original actor, now erased.

The notion that actors and their roles are now subject to recasting at any point may change the direction that films take. Imagine: you can take an older film and remove a bad performance with another actor’s impersonation.

Spacey has been deleted because of his detriment to box office, no other motive can be found. To insure the movie will not be judged on the foibles of Spacey, someone else—namely older and safer Plummer will suffice.

We doubt that Spacey will replace himself with another face in his TV movie Gore, now shelved.

No matter that this bit of casting likely improves the entire film because Plummer will play the grandfatherly Getty, a billionaire cheapskate who didn’t want to pay the ransom for his kidnapped grandson.

Through the magic of computer effects, we can see a plethora of bad actors taken out of the role after working and being paid. If the director finds his original choice was not so good, he may re-cast with impunity.

Directors may now take advantage of some hot young star and replace the original with a new face for reasons of finance, politics, or just box office.

We expect to see the resurrection of James Dean or Marilyn Monroe in a new move when their heads are placed onto other bodies. It’s around the corner, movie fans.

Curse of Oak Island: Season 5, Starting Gun

DATELINE: On the Money

oak island

Our cruel skepticism has been dumped on its head into the Nova Scotian Bay of Fundy. The Curse of Oak Island is back–and better than ever.

As Season Five opens with the death of young Drake Tester, off Oak Island of some unfair seizure, the pall of mortality hangs on everyone—from 94-year-old Dan Blankenship to the younger generation of treasure hunters. Young men of good character are not supposed to die before old, cynical adventurers.

Yet, this season on the show, there is finally something tangible and within grasp. We are still left with anguish over the enterprise that boasted a seventh person had to die to solve Oak Island’s mystery. The Lagina brothers never expected the youngest of their treasure hunters would be the one.

In the meantime, safety went to the forefront with the notion of sending a diver down 170 feet into a small shaft. With the bends and hypothermia likely dangers, the diver nearly exceeded his safety limits. It made for dramatic reality television, but also made obvious how the obsession for treasure is dangerous.

Metallurgist Gary Drayton, Australian expert, found another artifact that could be as much as 400 years old on an island no inhabited back then—making this season compelling television viewing.

The two-hour premiere seemed to be the most professional in the history of the search. This gives the quest some highly charged foreshadows.  However, at the end of the night, as it has for all their efforts, technology fails for reasons unknown. Call it a curse.

Whatever Oak Island is hiding, it has a deep and abiding reluctance to reveal itself to the nosy eyes of the camera—or to the adventuresome spirit of a team of adult “boys” as they call themselves.

We won’t miss an episode.