And now for something completely different… I was reading a Vox article this week about the influence of Turner Classic Movies in terms of promoting classic film in an age when the recent-release bias of streaming services have made some of the greatest movies of all time practically invisible to anyone under 30. In it, Todd VanDerWerff quotes David Bordwell quoting Roger Ebert to the effect that when today’s film scholars came of age, Casablanca was a newer movie than the Godfather is to young adults today. The former film was 25 in the middle 1960s, while today the Godfather is about to turn 45. I was thinking about that when I watched Warner Bros. new direct-to-video movie Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, based on the 1966-1968 Batman television series. When I first watched Batman in syndicated reruns as a little kid, it was only 20 years old. That’s hard enough to believe, but it’s horrifying to realize than in just a couple of months Buffy the Vampire Slayer will be as old as Batman was then. Time comes for us all in the end.
Critics are really excited about the new season of Black Mirror, a show whose first two seasons I only occasionally sampled. But on the strength of the reviews I watched one of the new episodes yesterday, which TV Insider critic Matt Roush identified as the best of six-episode anthology: “Playtest.” It was, critics said, the closest that the series comes to pure and traditional horror, which happens to be one of my fields of expertise. I wrote the book on it, after all. The episode tells the story of an American tourist named Cooper (Wyatt Russell) who takes part in a video game company’s beta test of a neural implant that creates an augmented reality horror video game experience. If you haven’t seen the episode, you should probably stop reading because to criticize it is to give away part of the “twist” at the end.
It’s always nice to know that I’ve made a difference in the world. I got confirmation yesterday from an author that New Page Books / Career Press will not send me review copies of any release—even at the author’s request—because they don’t like my reviews. Since their books tend to get few or no reviews, one might think that they would take the view that any publicity is good publicity, especially if they could then use my criticism to market their volumes as the books that “skeptics” don’t want you to read. But instead, they have taken the line that I am an enemy, which probably speaks more about their mentality—and their understanding of how crappy the books they publish must be—than it does me. But so long as they continue to publish new books by former Nazi party leader Frank Joseph (as they will do again next week—with the endorsement of Brad Steiger!), it is impossible for them to argue the moral high ground.
A while back I discussed the “Ancient School” project that ancient astronaut theorist Jason Martell launched and promoted on Ancient Aliens. He had hoped it would become a non-accredited lecture series that would see users paying Martell $17 per month for access to speeches from ancient astronaut theorists in a “live” online classroom setting. It appears that the plan was a failure, and “Ancient School” has been reduced to a self-published DVD series, which from the highly limited information that Martell makes available seems appears to feature primarily Martell himself.
History Channel Launches "Ancient Aliens" Companion Volume and Coloring Book; Plus: An Ancient Alien Coin?
Note: This post has been updated to include the solution to the alien coin mystery.
Regular readers will remember that last year the History Channel (or as it now bills itself “HISTORY™ network”) put out a children’s book to teach tweens about the ancient astronaut theory. This year, they’ve set their sights slightly higher. In partnership with HarperCollins, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., History is launching a companion book to the TV series Ancient Aliens, along with an adult coloring book of the same. The two volumes are scheduled for publication next month, in time for the lucrative holiday buying season.
Over on Ancient Origins, we find that David Naef, who wrote an earlier article about the “mysteries” of Mount Shasta, has a new article in which he relates a 1916 account of giants. The story comes from Lucy Thompson, a Native American who in 1916 published a book called To the American Indian: Reminiscences of a Yurok Woman. Naef selectively quotes part of Thompson’s account, eliding uncomfortable details that point toward a polemical purpose behind her story.
It’s a bit long, but it’s worth looking at Thompson’s account in full:
Last October I wrote about a depressing survey from Chapman University which found that 1 in 5 Americans—20.3%--professed to believe in ancient astronauts. A couple of regular readers let me know that this year Chapman University repeated the survey, and the results were even worse. According to the annual survey’s new results, fully 1 in 4 Americans, an astonishing 27%, believe that aliens visited the Earth in the past. Even more disturbing, 39.6%--more than one in three—believe that Atlantis or another advanced prehistoric lost civilization once existed. (The survey did not ask about Atlantis last year.) Similarly, 42.6% of respondents believe that the U.S. government is covering up knowledge of alien encounters, and a full third think that elites are plotting a single world government.
PZ Myers is (humorously) “blaming” me for introducing him via Twitter this past week to the angry pseudohistory of the white supremacists who believe that a lost white race of Solutreans were destroyed by Native Americans in a “white genocide” in North America at the end of the last Ice Age. It doesn’t get much more disgusting than that, but I’ve learned that there is always a claim that is worse.
This week the BBC announced that it would screen a new documentary next week that will allege that the famous terra cotta warriors found in the tomb of China’s first emperor were the work of ancient Greek artisans who traveled to China in the wake of Alexander’s conquests. Alexander’s armies reached as far as India before his death in 323 BCE, and a Hellenistic Greek-Indian kingdom existed in what is now Afghanistan down to perhaps as late as the first century CE. The terra cotta warriors were sculpted in the years leading up to Qin Shi Huang’s death in 206 BCE.
Friday Follies: Trump's "Dark Conspiracy," Plus: Thomas Mills Claims Hopi Built Pyramids; Also: Time Travel Shows
Yesterday Donald Trump delivered a fiery speech in which he blamed his current scandals on a “dark conspiracy” fomented by “international banks” working in conjunction with “elites” in order to undermine the will of the American people. Given that Trump is tied to New World Order conspiracy theorist Steve Bannon, his campaign CEO, and Info Wars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, it seems quite probably that these “international banks” are a reference to the international bankers routinely blamed for attempting to create a one-world genocidal government in conspiracy literature. These bankers are typically described as identical with or stooges for space aliens, Reptilians, Freemasons, and above all, Jews. Indeed, among the so-called “alt-right,” white nationalists seized on this phrase and began posting online conspiracy theories about how the Jews are behind Trump’s scandals.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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