This is a quick story, but one that’s weird enough to warrant a few minutes of laughter before Ancient Aliens returns this evening to educate us about how aliens stage-managed the Civil War as part of their master plan for America. Last month, some in the UFO community began to claim that ancient astronauts carved a profile of the Roman god Mercury into the surface of the planet Mars. Scott Waring of the pareidolia-infused UFO Sightings Daily blog posted a NASA Mars Global Surveyor image later picked up by the content-recycling Inquisitr website that he believes shows Mercury carved into the Martian surface.
First, some good news: Apparently, after more than two weeks, Weebly has fixed the blog comments problem! Now, on to our topic for today...
The national and international media are the easiest to access and the easiest to study. When the New York Times runs a story about Atlantis, for example, those of us who observe fringe history see and share it. But it becomes easy to forget that the major national and international media are only a fraction of the media that the average American sees and consumes. Especially here in the United States, local media does as much to shape the way people think about fringe topics than national outlets. One’s local newspaper and local TV newscast are, according to surveys, perceived as more trustworthy than national outlets.
As someone who produces a blog post every day, I can sympathize with the difficulty of finding new material to write about. But it seems that fringe science writer Nick Redfern’s writer’s block is getting the better of him. His recent articles at Mysterious Universe have become increasingly pointless exercises in rehashing and recycling. But yesterday’s article on horror movies and Bigfoot has to be one of Redfern’s most ridiculous pieces yet. And to top it off, it made me feel old not long before my upcoming birthday. The Descent (2005), a film about a group of young women attacked by humanoid creatures while spelunking, is now an old movie from another time? Where do the decades go?
Return of the Red-Headed Cone-Heads: A Review of "Elongated Skulls of Peru and Bolivia" by Brien Foerster
Today I’d like to start with a look at fringe history tour guide Brien Foerster’s new self-published book, Elongated Skulls of Peru and Bolivia: The Path of Viracocha (2015), released on March 19. I am reading the book as an epub file on Adobe Digital Editions, and I will do my best, but in places the pictures cover parts of the text and it’s a bit hard to follow some of the text because there are no paragraph breaks or indenting to separate paragraphs. The writing is also terribly dull, as Foerster attempts to ape academic writing by referring to himself in the third person (“the author”) and presenting his text in pseudo-academic prose.
Surprising News about the Solutrean Hypothesis Should Give Fringe History Believers Pause (But Likely Won't)
Racists around the country will have some explaining to do after news reports confirmed what many have suspected for many years now, that the Solutrean people of Europe did not possess white skin. Worse, the evidence for the Solutrean hypothesis, regardless of who the Solutreans were, received a serious blow last week. Special thanks go to Andy White and Terry the Censor for linking me to the article’s I’m discussing today.
Note: This post has been updated with additional information.
Did a UFO buzz the Frankish army in 827 CE? It’s doubtful. This is a weird game of telephone that grows progressively more ridiculous as authors repeat each other’s mistakes and make new mistakes as well. Once again misunderstanding Latin seems to be the culprit in generating a UFO sighting that didn’t happen. To understand how this came about, we need to start at the beginning of the story, with an anonymous Latin text called the Vita Hludowici Pii (Life of Louis the Pious), whose author is known only as “the Astronomer.” Composed around 835 CE, the text is a biography of Louis (Ludwig) the Pious (778-840), the son and successor of Charlemagne. The author is known as the Astronomer because he casts himself as a diviner of the heavens, reading the history of the Frankish kingdom through signs seen in the sky. Many candidates have been proposed for his identity, but none is widely accepted.
Against my better judgment I watched Syfy’s new Greek mythology drama Olympus, despite its bad reviews, and I was prepared for the worst. I was surprised, perhaps due to my low expectations, that it wasn’t as godawful as I had expected. Its story, while clunky, was serviceable enough, though played far too straight-faced seriously for the campiness of the material. The program has not yet made a case for why it should exist, though, since we’ve seen all of the elements that comprise it on other shows: Atlantis, Legend of the Seeker, Beast Master, and other fantasy fare of the last two decades. Its biggest failing is its visual effects. The whole show seems to be shot on green screen, and the digital backgrounds range from unconvincing to painfully fake. For a program that takes its visual cues so heavily from Immortals, it might have benefited from adopting some of that movie’s stylization to give the show visual flair. If, after all, you can’t afford real sets and are using shitty digital backgrounds, it can’t possibly cost that much more to Photoshop some stylish ones, perhaps taking inspiration from black and red figure Greek vases to turn the unreality of digital backdrops into an advantage. Embrace the fake! Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was stylized as can be, but it used that to create an unreal Art Deco style. In short, Olympus really ought to look better than it does, even on a budget.
It should probably not come as news that the latest book examining the legend of Atlantis contains no roadmap to the lost city, and no new evidence for its existence. However, the destination is not always as important as the journey, and the trip to Atlantis can be fun and fascinating in its own right. Mark Adams is a New York Times bestselling author whose previous travel book, Turn Right at Machu Picchu (unread by me), earned praise for its light tone and entertaining examination of the history of Peru’s most famous tourist attraction. His new book is called Meet Me in Atlantis: My Obsessive Quest to Find the Sunken City, and it pulls something of a bait and switch on the reader, though not without reason. While the book’s title suggests that it’s about his search for Atlantis, this isn’t really the case at all. At its core, it’s a book about the people who devote their lives to finding—and failing to find—Plato’s city.
As most readers know, I love Greek mythology, even if its adaptations in other media have tended toward the disappointing. I had high hopes for the BBC’s Atlantis, but despite strong initial ratings, the show’s creative direction faltered as it strived and failed to emulate Game of Thrones in intrigue and Immortals in visual panache. The BBC canceled the show back in January (though its last seven episodes will air, beginning next week). I learned today that Syfy is trying the same thing with its derivative Olympus, a show that earned (negative) comparison to Game of Thrones but seems, based on trailers and reviews, to be the second coming of Atlantis, with worse actors and a smaller budget. The new show even reuses the some of the same mythological figures, including King Minos, Princess Ariadne, and Medea, who appeared in the BBC version; and it takes for its theme the plot of Immortals and Wrath of the Titans, which involved ending the reign of the Greek gods in favor of human self-empowerment. I’m trying to decide whether to give the show a try simply because I’m interested in how Greek myths are represented on TV, but I am extremely wary of the negative buzz and the frankly chintzy special effects. Syfy declined to provide a press kit or publicity materials for the show to TV critics, which is a bad sign.
As most of you probably know, the comments section is still messed up. I’ve been working with Tech Support on it, but Weebly is blaming me for the problem, telling me that they wouldn’t do any more to try to fix it because I changed the color of the header of the website from the original template color of chartreuse to lime green. This meant that I had “custom code” that could be affecting the blog, which is an unrelated plugin, through some sort of magic powers they didn’t explain. There is no custom coding; I uploaded a new color file—months before the problem started! I didn’t change any of the code for the site. So, after explaining this, they “escalated” the issue to their top tech person, who promptly did nothing and never responded. So that’s where I am with this right now.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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