I hope you will forgive me if this episode’s review is a bit shorter than some of my earlier efforts. I injured my wrist today when I slipped on some ice and fell while trying to clear some snow. I’m trying not to aggravate it too much with excessive typing.
Yesterday Andy White offered a thoughtful blog post on the reasoning behind the search for giants among creationists. White discovered that creationists subscribe to a theology of degeneration, whereby God’s perfect creation is gradually winding down, leading to smaller and weaker creatures over time. As a result, for the Bible to be literally true, it would require that ancient animals and people be larger than those alive today, for they were closer to the perfection of the original creation, before original sin. Thus, the search for “giants.”
Last night’s episode of Expedition Unknown focused on the Amber Room, a lost treasure of Baroque art most closely associated today with Tsarist Russia. The room, clad entirely in amber, gold, and precious gems, was created in Prussia from Frederick I in the 1700s and later given by Frederick William I to the Russian Tsar Peter the Great as a token of the alliance between their two countries. The chamber was modified down to 1755, and in its final form stood in the Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg until the Nazis looted it during World War II. Host Josh Gates traveled to Russia and to Germany in search of the expensive and missing room, which vanished during the war years.
Are you looking for a sure-fire investment opportunity backed by the world’s only inexhaustible resource, stupidity? If you have money to throw away—well, you should give it to me—but if you aren’t willing to do that, you now have a new option for disposing of unwanted cash. It turns out that you can soon buy stock in Bigfoot! Or, rather, a company that wants you to pay them to search for Bigfoot. According to the Wall Street Journal, Carmine “Tom” Biscardi is looking to raise $3 million by selling shares in Bigfoot Project Investments, Inc. to help fund more than $100,000 per year in Bigfoot expeditions for raw material for associated media products.
Here’s another of those weird sidelights that form part of the tapestry of fringe history. Today’s example comes from Charles Fort’s Book of the Damned (1919) where the unsystematic compiler of the strange recorded the following paragraph based on a passage from the journal Records of the Past that he had chanced upon:
In the Middle Ages the Navigatio of St. Brendan was a popular legend about the Irish monk’s alleged voyage among many islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Like many such legends, some people took it way more seriously than the original author, who was undoubtedly aware that the story is a collection of myth and fiction. That hasn’t stopped people from looking for one of the islands seen by St. Brendan down to the present, particularly the mist-shrouded island where, in later legend, Brendan and his crew claimed to have spent fifteen days. The latest person to have announced the “discovery” of St. Brendan’s Island is the author of the Journal of the Bizarre blog, who feels that Google Earth has revealed the legendary island.
As you know, Monday is my busiest work day of the week, so I will be keeping today’s blog post short. Since I am also on the hook for page proofs, I have even less time than usual. But I did want to point out that Scott Wolter posted his thoughts about Bigfoot over on his blog, and they are mildly revealing: Wolter doesn’t believe in Bigfoot and didn’t want to do an episode about the creature. The producers reminded him that he is contractually obligated to do what they tell him, and he came around once they explained that he’d receive a free vacation to Nepal on the History Channel/H2’s dime.
On Friday I received the page proofs for my newest book, Foundations of Atlantis, Ancient Astronauts and Other Alternative Pasts, my collection of primary source texts used by fringe historians to support everything from the ancient astronaut theory to hyperdiffusionism. Each entry in the book contains a header with data about the text—its source citation, its original language, etc. Each concludes with the translation’s original publication information and my commentary on the text. To be entirely honest, I’m not sure what I think of the page proofs. I had hoped that the publisher would have used typography to clearly distinguish between the body text and the header and commentary. Instead, it’s all the same typeface and the same size, and they cut out even the skipped space between sections that I had in my manuscript. While the result isn’t exactly unclear, it’s not as visually clear as I would have liked. It’s the fault of eBooks. Because eBooks can’t do complex formatting, publishers are increasingly unwilling to have two separate formats for the print and electronic edition. As a result, the printed book is more or less the eBook on paper, and I think something is lost when the art of information design has to submit imperatives of eBooks.
The History Channel unexpectedly made tonight’s episode of America Unearthed, S03E11 “Tracking Bigfoot,” available for viewing on its website this morning in advance of its airing on H2 tonight at 9 PM ET. I have therefore taken advantage of the online viewing opportunity to produce an early review of this evening’s episode.
Indiana Jones is the patron saint of cable TV history hosts. His grizzled ghost influences the clothes they wear, their stylish stubble, and the very aesthetics of their programs. Expedition Unknown is no exception, and while host Josh Gates is too goofy to be Indiana Jones, that doesn’t stop the Travel Channel from using Raiders of the Lost Ark as a template. Or, rather, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, since this episode is actually titled “Temple of Doom.”