Queen: Mercury Rising: Predating the Movie

 DATELINE: Long Live the Champion!

Champion Real Mercury!

From 2011, a biographical documentary on Freddie Mercury may well have been the instrument to inspire the movie story of his life called Bohemian Rhapsody.

In advertisements and descriptions, Mercury has been called one of the most beloved entertainers of the 20th century:  we presume that puts him in the esteemed company of Sophie Tucker, Judy Garland, and Lassie.

We love dramatizations of the basic facts elicited in this life-story of a musical icon.

What the Zanzibar native named Farrouk really transcended was the crossover of glam-rock and Bowie with some kind of sports anthem creator. He was his most important self-made titan/champion with an overbite.

Yes, let’s face it, Queen and Mercury created a couple of songs that have lived as the victory songs for every winning sports teams—and probably shall continue so for decades ahead.

That’s no mean feat.

Mercury as not Freddie, but a self-creation of the Raj and Brit music waves of the 1960s and 1970s. He certainly helped to establish MTV and music videos—and they gave him fame.

His coming-out at the time of Studio 54 meant he was in the forerunning of gay icons, and among the victims of a generation who died in the early horror of HIV infection. He was carefree and did not flinch from his lifestyle, even if it might kill him.

The movie with Rami Malek could not have found a better embodiment of Mercury than the wide-eyed actor. And, we will examine that film in due time. In the meantime, if you need a more objective look at his life, we recommend Mercury Rising, the story of Queen by those who were closest.

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Oak Island: Paper Chase #13

DATELINE: Parchment & Pigment

Dem bones Human Bonehead?

No, Professor Kingsfield is not lecturing this week, but the “Paper Chase” is definitely on as the 13th episode of season six.

Instead of Kingsfield, here is another dry academic, Randall Sullivan who has written a tie-in book about Oak Island the highly rated, History channel, cable series. He is allowed to shill his research on the show and is praised to high heaven for the Laginas.

No one claims the Laginas are silent partners, but pushing the book is lucrative (out of stock on Amazon), and published by Atlantic Press, no slouches.

Cheapskate Sullivan brings two copies of the book to the crew at Oak Island, letting partner Craig Tester sit there with egg on his face.

As for the findings of the week, big news includes a cement wall in Smith’s Cove, another piece of a dead man’s bone (likely one of Captain Kidd’s dead men not telling tales) from the bore hole, and parchment with red pigment on it. If Shakespeare’s original manuscripts are down there, they are soggy remnants of treasure.

On the positive side, 95-year old Dan Blankenship makes an appearance—and Alex Lagina has been reduced to chauffeuring author Sullivan around.

When Dan Henskee finds the bone fragment, credit is given to Jack Begley instead. Oh, well, being old is not always a good thing for original searchers like Henskee.

We still await carbon dating (suggested by Dan Blankenship) on parchment, wood from Smith’s Cove and other expert analysis of tokens and iron arrow shafts. Francis Bacon seems to be emerging as the culprit, over Templars. With a record number of episodes ordered for the season, we probably can wait a few more weeks for results.

 

 

 

 

David: Overexposed Masterpiece

DATELINE: For All the Marbles

David

 Michelangelo’s Boy!

The Private Life of a Masterpiece is a documentary narrated by the late Tim Piggott-Smith a decade ago.

You might not realize what a controversial and interesting history and life that block of marble chiseled by Michelangelo has had over centuries.

Years before the great Renaissance upstart put his talent to the statue, a couple of artists tried and failed to carve out an iconic image. They failed, mainly because the superior marble was only two feet thick in places. It was meant to be one piece, a marvel in itself, and nearly impossible.

David is the height of three men and weighs about the poundage of two dozen. Indeed, David is the real Goliath. He was originally meant to be posed atop a church in Florence, but he was hijacked for political reasons to face the threat of the Medici family, looking southward on palazzo level. After all, he was a killer.

As a result, David has suffered, and his face seems to mirror that. He has been stoned, broken, allowed to be covered in mold, and has lost some detail.

Yet, he remains more than ever the commercial icon of the 20th century, more popular today than ever before: he is the epitome of modern man. From the get-go, he has been a role model and object of love; nearly half of Florentines in the 16th century were likely bisexual men. They adored him.

Like any great work of art, he is subject to interpretation on many levels with each passing era. Surprisingly, he was not appreciated by Victorians unless he was covered with a fig leaf. Yep, they had one ready-made for coverups when required.

Entertaining and educational, this is a one-hour history that you may watch with never-averted eyes.

 

Secrets of the Red Planet

DATELINE: Lies, Rover Photos, & Statistics

Face on Mars  Face on Mars: Don’t Trust NASA!

We give you a real twist on the usual Mars ancient civilization fake documentaries! This is a Russian production, with English subtitles. It drives the less discerning to the remote control off-button. Too much information, and words too.

This is not your usual streaming ancient space civilization films. Secrets of the Red Planet actually has substance.

As you might expect, its science is a cut above what Americans can handle. What’s more difficult for the poorly educated, the subtitles are fast-moving, requiring a level of attention you might find missing in a typical reality TV audience.

The film is short and fascinating, perhaps one of the most sledge-hammer attacks on NASA that we can recall. The Russians pull no punches: they believe that the American space program is pulling a fast one—on the world. Coverup is a term not big enough for the Russian experts.

The contention is that NASA actually puts a red hue on all the Mars rover photos to obfuscate the images. On top of that, the American agency withdraws any picture that seems to spark interest. The Russians contend that NASA is hiding the archeological roots of another civilization, perhaps a Martian world from a billion years ago.

The science may be out there, but it seems on terra firma. One Russian scientist explains his theory on an asteroid about 50 miles in diameter nearly breaking Mars apart when it hit, causing a crater that caused the evaporation of Martian oceans and decimation of any life there.

It certainly makes us pause when they talk about these Near Earth travelers that pass us regularly.

You may have to watch this little film twice, but you won’t find such amazing documented pictures and science explanation of the American Mars program anywhere else.

Seeing American scientists translated into Russian, with English subtitles seems redundant, but the American academics used as the spine of this documentary lend credence. This showcase of brilliance is not from your usual cast of fake experts, or discredited journalists. Your Ancient Aliens talking heads are not here.

Highly recommended for discerning minds and thinking brains.

Hello, Carol Channing! Goodbye, Dolly!

DATELINE: Showy Biz

Cleopatra, Dolly, Becket  Cleopatra, Dolly, Becket.

Larger than Life is the subtitle of a look at the life of the grand star, Carol Channing.  Having recently died, we were drawn to this streaming video of her life; she was active at 90 and participated in sharing memories and activities when this documentary was made.

Channing seems to have been born big. Like a generation of vaudeville to TV stars, she had a personality that overwhelmed everything—and she was so kind and generous that she became a titan of beloved show biz.

From her days at Bennington College in the 1930s, she was no dumb blonde, but played one on stage constantly. Judy Holliday owed her persona to Carol who was a hit on stage and TV, but never in movies.

It seems the big screen could not contain her. It is reminiscent of Jimmy Durante, who also was too big for the film roles.

She knew everyone—and literally everyone who was someone came backstage to meet her in Hello Dolly—from Al Pacino to Elizabeth Taylor (pictured with Richard Burton).

She was a mimic, a raconteur, and comedian. She could sing “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” with originality because she made the song famous on stage in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes—but the movie was always with someone else (Streisand, Monroe, etc.).

As a walking hyperbole, she was subject to female impersonation by drag queens. Once, with Rich Little, she was approached by a man who marveled at the best impersonation of Channing he had ever seen. He asked what he did in real life: never one to miss a beat, Carol said: “I’m a truck driver from Toledo, Ohio.”

Her first movie costar was Clint Eastwood! It was his first movie too, and they had a love scene which they rehearsed endlessly but was so bad that it ended up on the editing room floor.

This amazing documentary is filled with show biz nuggets and stunning old TV and stage clips. She missed one half of one stage performance in her entire life. Astounding lady.

Unsealed Alien Files

DATELINE: More of the Same?

greenie Little Greenewalde Man?

Well, we found the popcorn version of Ancient Aliens. You have to love a documentary that is listed under science fiction! There are a plethora of these series, all covering the same close encounters and conspiracies developing for over the centuries. This is the ultimate in false names: These are alleged government files that have been released to be public. So much for truth in advertising.

This streaming Amazon series, called Unsealed (no colon) Alien Files, which had four seasons, has three available on Prime. The second season is missing as it seems to have been one-hour in length, or under some other title. The gems of outrage are about 20 minutes. Season 2 may have morphed into Hangar One something or other.

Some people hate these teasers as sensation-seeking missiles.

So, this little series manages to cram as much info as one of the ponderous two-hour Ancient Aliens into a much shorter timeframe.  And, many of your favorite Aliens figures drop by to lend their expertise here—from Nick Pope, David Childress, Linda Moulton Howe, and others who seem to have sent their outtakes along. You may find the same UFO stock footage used in every episode.

These mini-briefs are folkloric in subject, hitting on everything from aliens on the Moon and Mars, to US presidents and their encounters. Most are cram packed with info and photos that you might wait to see elsewhere.

Many UFOlogists disparaged this little series, but we know when we have fallen into a money pit and don’t need any boring shafts.

John Greenewalde is the main host, someone whose claim to fame in the 20-teens was to form something called the Black Vault. The show insists that all these documents are now unsealed. Hardly, but who’s quibbling?

The narrator here is John B. Wells whose voice is a couple of octaves lower and more funeral than Robert Clotworthy over on Ancient Aliens and Curse of Oak Island. His assorted mispronunciations are to be counted and catalogued.

Discovering Bigfoot: Standing Off

DATELINE: Devotee Snares Academic

meldrum Dr. Jeff Meldrum.

We are all for intriguing documentaries about conspiracy theory and crypto-zoology.  And, we love it when our favorite academics, like Ph.D., Dr. Jeff Meldrum of Idaho, decides to partake of the antics.

In this case, the highly respected scientist and expert on Sasquatch seems to have been roped into Todd Standing’s self-promotion, self-directed, vanity project.

Standing may not have much academic standing, but that does not let him think any the less of himself. Indeed, we admire his courage to spend time out in the Northwest wilderness and be harassed by mysterious howling creatures in the night.

He stands alone in the dark whilst rocks are hurled at him and nine-foot tall things that go bump in the night threaten to bump into him. What courage!

He has even photographed these figures up close, and it is pretty amazing stuff. No wonder a bigwig like Doc Meldrum was drawn in. Alas, he must listen to the prattle and pushy stream of verbiage from his host. Standing cannot stand still, nor keep quiet.

He presses again and again to have his obsession validated.

We admire Meldrum’s self-control in face of the director’s out of control energy. Everything is kept in check by some of the strange videos presented. Watching apples disappear in the dark by unknown hands hardly proves it was Bigfoot.

There are also the large structures created by some force with superhuman strength. Whether these are signposts, religious totems, or warnings from Bigfoot, director Standing has the answer. Don’t contradict him.

We think this is a sincere effort to prove something is out there, and it is not extra-terrestrials.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power

DATELINE: Classic Bad Leaders

olivier Olivier as Trump?

Leave it to Curiosity Streaming to come up with a documentary on tyrannical leaders as delineated by the Bard. In this curt show of 35 minutes, the complexities of Shakespeare are also explained simply by down-to-earth experts, including Stephen Greenblatt (who wrote the scholarly book on which this is based).

You have here a film that exposes the foibles of criminal leaders in historical terms without ever mentioning the name of the “bloody dog” Trump. It’s called Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power.

Instead, there is a smorgasbord of scenes from Macbeth, Richard III, King Lear, including clips of a delicious Laurence Olivier as the evil king Richard, looking more like Vlad the Impaler than Donald Trump.

What do the experts uncover? Well, these Shakespearean monsters are all inveterate liars. They can’t help themselves. And, each one has a problem with women with power, from motherhood to wives. Heaven forbid a woman wants political influence. These bad guys are cursed with a childish sense of self-deception.

It only grows worse:  you will find they are delusional and humored by aides surrounding them for their own reasons. It is likely those aides will be betrayed, as the monster tyrant sees loyalty as a one-way street. He will send loyal workers to the tower in an instant.

The tyrant also uses and abuses children to his own political gains: tormenting them, killing them, locking them up, separating them from family and protectors.

Imagine, not once does the show mention the President of the United States in 2019. It does end with one of the great characters celebrating the death of the “bloody dog,” after his tumultuous reign. We should be so lucky.

 

 

 

Oak Island: Paydirt Hit on Season 6

DATELINE: Sky Above, Mud Below

drayton cap

Can it be that after six years of toil and faithful viewing, we are coming into something big?

One of the most guarded shows and secrets is the work being done on Curse of Oak Island. If they had found the Holy Grail, you won’t learn about it until they air the episode.

At long last, we feel as if there is something meaningful opening up on all fronts.

Our favorite British Bobby Dazzler, Gary Drayton, the man with his metal detectors, was in on all the action again this week. A couple of young scientists were trying to read any inscriptions off a stone thought to be an original clue. They told us the obvious and awaited more instructions. The show never gives you more than a dollop if they can stall for another few weeks.

On nearby Apple Island, recommended for exploration by Dr. Travis Taylor, though you can see the Smith Cove metal barriers from its shores, was never visited by the Lagina brothers. Without permission to dig, Drayton’s metal detector teases us with strange emissions—but no payoff.

The big news drew the entire cast to the site of a mysterious new discovery—a wood beam wall ten feet underground. It appears to be original work—by whom and when still unclear.

It is a new archeological discovery that could predate even Columbus. Drayton immediately stepped in to announce there were no nails used in its construction.

However, when all the bigwigs of the show come out for the dig, you know something is happening there, Mr. Jones.

We feel like we are on the verge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

U

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.

Oak Island Progress Report, Season 6

DATELINE: Episode 8, Unearthed

cpt kidd gold filling Captain Kidd’s Gold Filling?

With another episode in the sixth season of Curse of Oak Island, it is unquiet on every front. There appeared to be much progress made after so many years of tedium.

However, the onerous tones of narrator Robert Clotworthy appear to have amped up: reminding us more cynically that the entire premise of the show is that someone else, a seventh victim, must die soon. Forget that a teenage son of one investor has already passed away and this season an old woman researcher died and left her materials to Rick.

The unseemly curse of death is an appalling and fearful assertion, akin to something Trump might say to keep the government closed. We almost expect one of these weeks to have a group vote, in the style of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” to occur and to witness someone being stoned to death by the rest of the fed-up community.

In short, you know there was progress this week because the big guns (the old guys with the money) took center stage again, pushing out the next generation. No, teenie-bopper Peter Fonetti and heart-throb Alex Lagina were not to be seen; they are usually billed as “producers” of the series, a real laugh riot notion. The youngest stud on the block is Jack Begley, a tireless worker of every grunt duty.

The Lagina Brothers took center stage. If there is to be a discovery, even the affable Gary Drayton must accede to their primogeniture, but he has his own website. Dave Blankenship has been rendered redundant, even as comic relief.

Oh, there seems to be something with Roman numerals emerging from the muck at Smith Cove as Dan Blankenship said 50 years ago. Yes, there is some kind of light laser ready to read the mysterious and long-missing “90 foot stone.”

And Laird Nivens has secured permits from the Canadian government with alacrity after years of stalling on most other points. Big money talks big.

But, please, we feel like we are living paycheck to paycheck on Oak Island, despite finding someone’s gold filling this week.

Whether we can live with all this progress or be shot down sometime before the latest season ends, only the Laginas can tell: there is tighter security about their findings of the summer of 2018 than you find at the Mexican border.

Which reminds us, all these interlopers are violating the borders of Nova Scotia. They have been for a thousand years.

 

Sad Hill Unearthed! Fake Cemetery

 DATELINE:  Restoring the Un-Dead to Fake Life

sad hill trio Famous Trio at Sad Hill!

In Burgos, Spain, an amateur group of archeologists located the place where the climax of the movie The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly was filmed in 1966.

You have to love the spaghetti western (and it is hilarious horse opera with Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef, and Clint Eastwood). Its climactic graveyard shootout is magnificent film-making—and its restored grandeur is stunning.

It is called Sad Hill Cemetery (not real), except as reel film history.

The responsible men are descended from locals who worked as extras in the movie, and they find the place is magical. It had been lost and buried under six inches of dirt. They dug up to find the circular stone center. Around it were mounds where the fake graves once stood with crosses.

It took much work, and many volunteers. They sold gravesites, with your name painted on a wooden cross, to finance the excavations.

A few survivors of the movie:  film editor and composer Ennio Morricone gave interviews. The film documentary is enhanced with behind-the-scenes photos—and movie clips. Old interviews with Sergio Leone are also a treat.

It was backbreaking work to restore the concentric circles of Leone’s visionary shootout scene among the crosses, row on row.

When finished, the magic returned. A large crowd showed up in the rural area where an orchestra played the film score, the archeologists re-enacted the shootout. It went on for ten to fifteen minutes in the film, and Clint even sent a recorded thank you message to the assembled crowd.

restored reel cemetery Restored at Last!

If you love this classic Western, you need this companion piece to history, myth, and movie magic.

 

Ancient Aliens Bring Captain Kirk Aboard

DATELINE: Von Daniken Beamed UP 13.14

shat Shat Upon Sagan!

It was inevitable. As 2019 starts a new special, Ancient Aliens Season 13, episode 14, brings in the most ancient astronaut of TV fame: there is William Shatner giving advice to Giorgio and the crew.

You have to love it. This is a special edition for sure. Cross-pollination is one of History Channel’s favorite Venerable Bede compliments. There is no one from outer space more ancient than Shatner. Where has he been for a 100 other episodes?

The reason for his appearance is to honor Erich Von Daniken. In 1976 Shatner made a movie called Mysteries of the Gods, which adapted more or less from one of Daniken’s books. Hence, the honor from History Channel. Clips of young Shatner appear, but no mention comes of Leonard Nimoy’s series In Search of…, which History is also remaking with the new Spock, Zachary Quinto.

The two-hour special is meant to be homage to Von Daniken’s amazing career since the 1960s when he burst onto the scene with his outlandish theories. We read Chariots of the Gods in 1968, before most the guests on this special were born.

We recall being surprised and more than a little confused as to why no one else had seen what the author revealed. It was mind-boggling, but then again so was 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Now, he has more credibility than Carl Sagan. Indeed, the special has a clip of Sagan looking pathetic, attacking the notion of Ancient Aliens. Today, if the astronomer were still alive, he’d be ripe to serve as Trump’s Acting Ambassador to Mars.

The show manages to catalogue all the movies, TV shows, and other documentaries that had direct influence from Von Daniken: they also admit that Arthur Clarke and Stanley Kubrick slightly preceded him.

Von Daniken reveals his Jesuit education that influenced him, and he also discusses how his background in hotel management ruined him with academics and their Ph.D.-union card prejudice.

As one with a doctorate, we feel as do some NASA people and Dr. Travis Taylor, that lack of degree means nothing when it comes to creative minds.

This latest entry seems a premature obit for Erich Von Daniken, or eulogy in anticipation. It does not detract from his remarkable veracity.

Aliens & Astronauts, or Something Like That

DATELINE: Old Horizons

moonshot

A streaming Amazon documentary of sorts has two titles: good luck in figuring out which is the right one. Aliens and Astronauts: UFOs on the Moon is one choice, and the other is Alien Origins: UFOs on the Moon.

If this strikes you as a good emblematic statement about the film’s contents, you are on the money, unlike its producer, director, writer, and narrator who are all one person, named J. Michael Long.

Long is an expert director on Bigfoot and space aliens. Lately he has even branched out to Elephants & Donkeys, on the political crisis in America. Alas, he speaks like a non-native, mispronouncing dozens of words (even simple ones). It also adds to the aura of inauthenticity.

We’d be the last ones to call a documentary fake news, but we think the “fictional hypothesis” of the Moon being hollow is hardly fiction.

What do you call people who eat this up? Moonstruck or Lunatics?

The film tries every angle to convince us the Moon is hollow. It even begs the question of the question, which is penurious.

Nicely developed with good visuals, the film does raise the legit question of why we haven’t returned to the Moon in 40 years: someone doesn’t want us there? Hmm, yes, if the Moon is an artificial satellite brought here from another galaxy to help colonize the planet with Atlantis residents.

Oh, it all ties together. Director Long even suggests the Moon has only been out there for 11,000 years, which means the Sphinx may be older than the Moon. There must not have been much night-time construction, without moonlight. Long tells us in long-hand that the Moon is older than the Earth, by quite a bit, having machinery inside that brought it here.

Long is short on logic but heavy on repetition. Conspiracy theory addicts will find this stuff is catnip. Meow.