Well, that was underwhelming. I went into the last episode of the first season of Penny Dreadful expecting S01E08 to live up to its grandiose title, “Grand Guignol.” Surely, if you are going to name your episode after Paris’s bloodiest spectacle and set a good chunk of the action in a theater there should be more to it than what we got. I expected to see the monsters descend on a stage show (I’d have picked the Walpurgisnacht scene from Faust, personally) during the production, the confused audience only gradually realizing that the vampires and undead and what-have-you weren’t part of the show, until finally all ended in an orgy of violence and blood. Perhaps my expectations are too high.
I’m taking Sunday off, so today’s post is going up a few hours early. I have two topics: a surprising admission from the self-described hoaxer of the Narragansett Rune Stone and Dr. Greg Little’s unusual attack on me for attempting to investigate stories of giant skeletons.
We’ve entered the third week of Ancient Aliens Special Edition, the all-rerun episodes compiled from bits and pieces of earlier outings. This episode, S06E22, is called “Mysterious Devices” and covers what the show claims is anomalous high technology from ancient times. For them, the Nazis are also ancient, but that is par for the course.
Today I have a special treat to share. Archaeologist Ken Feder, the author of the Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology, has just returned from a trip to New Mexico and has generously given me permission to share some of his photographs from his trip. He visited the Los Lunas Decalogue Stone, and the photos he took make a strong case that the supposedly ancient Hebrew inscription is actually much more recent.
I have two topics to discuss today: First, a story is making the rounds about a man who was allegedly the first Soviet ancient astronaut theorist. The second is the upcoming MUFON UFO Symposium and its claims about the media.
UFO Author Kevin D. Randle Says "America Unearthed" Makes Him Think the Smithsonian Is Suppressing Truth
America Unearthed strikes again! Prolific UFO author Dr. Kevin D. Randle, a retired U.S. Army veteran and Ph.D., watched his first ever episode of America Unearthed last week and became convinced as a result that the Smithsonian Institution is conspiring to suppress the real history of America. Although this conspiracy theory emerged only in 1993 as a result of David Childress’s misunderstandings and uncritical mystery-mongering, it is now a touchstone of fringe history conspiracy culture. The idea keeps reproducing as one uncritical conspiracy theorist after the next picks it up from earlier conspiracy works.
Representatives of a Hawaiian separatist movement plan to dedicate a UFO landing pad on the big island of Hawaii on Friday in a traditional Hawaiian ceremony that they say will connect them to ancient astronauts from outer space. A declaration passed May 28 by the “reinstated Hawaiian Kingdom” proclaimed that the Hawaiian people came to earth from the Pleiades, and it invited the ancient astronauts to establish diplomatic relations with the Kingdom.
Last night was the penultimate episode of Penny Dreadful, S01E07 “Possession,” and viewers well-read in the horror genre will recognize this episode as an unusual combination of Reagan’s exorcism from The Exorcist and the vigil Lucy Westenra’s suitors hold over her as she succumbs to vampirism in Dracula. While superficially the two scenes that inspired this episode would seem to be vastly different, they share much in common. Penny Dreadful, as is its wont, failed to really build on its predecessors so much as reduce them to the least common denominator. It was an effective, tense, and watchable hour, but one that did not strive to be more than that.
This isn’t the most dramatic or bizarre bit of ancient astronaut malfeasance ever; in fact, it isn’t entirely Erich von Däniken’s fault. But it is interesting nonetheless as an example of the sort of slipshod scholarship and lack of care that went into the supposedly “revolutionary” works of fringe history. It’s the story of publishers, mostly, and the games they play with their authors and their audiences. The story begins with an odd and unusual passage in Chariots of the Gods, which supposedly presents a nuclear bombing recorded in the Mahabharata.
This week Ancient Aliens presents another compilation of clips from past episodes. Ancient Aliens S06E21 Special Edition: “Mysterious Structures” offers a worst-of grouping of wild claims about such ancient sites as Easter Island, Baalbek, and Puma Punku, repeating claims that were already being repeated halfway through the series’ pilot episode. The bottom line: They can’t believe ancient people were able to work with stone, or move stone, being so primitive and stupid. The only thing keeping this fresh is that the two most overexposed structures—Stonehenge and the Pyramids—are left out, presumably for future re-use.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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