Review of "The Empress" (Netflix)
In Europe, this was the season of Sisi. In an odd coincidence, a number of major media projects focusing on Elizabeth, Empress of Austria debuted within months of one another on the Continent, including two television series, a movie, and (in the coming weeks) a novel. Over on this side of the Atlantic, only one has seen widespread distribution, Netflix’s German biographical series The Empress, perhaps the loosest and most upbeat of the set. When I saw this listed on Netflix, I was rather intrigued; regular readers will recall that Habsburg history is one of my great interests, and rarely does it receive the kind of lush dramatic treatment that Netflix usually reserves for British royalty. Continued in my Substack newsletter.
This week did not run according to plan. My hot water heater broke down, and my internet service went out for half a day, so I did not manage to produce the blog posts I intended to write this week. But I did manage to get one thing written. In one of the biographies/memoirs about James Dean, there was a passing reference to a stage show that purported to call up James Dean’s ghost. I found a 1957 advertisement for this show, and it is so much weirder and more Gothically bizarre than the brief reference deigned to indicate. Take a look at this:
Read my full article about this oddity in my Substack newsletter.
How Antigravity Built the Pyramids: The Mysterious Technology of Ancient Superstructures
Nick Redfern | New Page | Sept. 2022 | 241 pp. | ISBN: 978-1-63748-002-1 | $19.95
It’s telling that Nick Redfern starts his book purportedly covering supposed sonic levitation used to build the Egyptian pyramids not with the original medieval Arabic legend of self-moving stones but with ancient astronaut theorist Peter Kolosimo’s reference to it decades ago, in Timeless Earth (1964): “According to an Arab legend, the Egyptians used scrolls of papyrus with magic words written on them, on which blocks for the pyramids came flying through the air!” Redfern frames his story around Kolosimo’s speculative revision of Arab lore and Bruce Cathie’s strange ideas about levitation and antigravity (derived from his own UFO encounter and reluctance to believe lazy humans would drag big stones) rather than the actual primary sources that previous generations of kooks built upon, often secondhand, from still other summaries.
Given my particular interest in conspiracy theories and the supernatural, I naturally have been fascinated by the various conspiracy theories that swirled around James Dean, who is the subject of the book I have been writing. One of these conspiracies alleged that Warner Bros. intentionally fabricated an urban legend that Dean had not died in the Sept. 1955 crash that killed him but instead lived on disfigured in some secret sanitarium. For nearly seven decades, writers have shrugged and passed it off as another tabloid craze. The claim of Dean’s continued life is, of course, false, and likely originated as a spontaneously generated bit teenager mythology, but it turns out there is a compelling story about how and why the media got hold of these rumors.
Read the full story of the publicity campaign that fed conspiracy and supernatural legends in my Substack newsletter.
Lue Elizondo Pens Angry Op-Ed Blasting Ufology and Blaming Cultish Ufologists for Waning Government UFO Interest
In an op-ed for Chris Sharp’s UFO website Liberation Times, erstwhile Pentagon UFO gadfly Lue Elizondo called for an end to ufology as currently practiced and its replacement with a science-based investigation of aerial anomalies. Elizondo, who has been a regular on the UFO podcast circuit and will headline the Awakening Expo 2023 (“Ufology Evolved,” reads its tagline), claims that ufology culture needs to die. “In the death of UFOlogy I want a NEW type of UFOlogy, a better UFOlogy, an invigorated rebirth, like a powerful phoenix rising from the ashes,” he wrote (capitalization as in original).
Chris Mellon attended a conference on UFOs in Barcelona, and while there he gave an interview to a Spanish newspaper in which he made some of his most explicit and revealing comments about his belief in space aliens to date. The former Defense Department official and onetime lobbyist has been one of the driving forces behind the effort to convince Congress to create a new UFO office. He recently began admitting that his lifelong interest in science fiction and space aliens led him to believe UFOs are alien ships, and now he rather absurdly asserts that not only are these aliens visiting Earth but that “hundreds” of people have seen them land and even communicated with the creatures.
Kit Green Contradicts Garry Nolan, Says No Evidence of Alien-Induced Brain Damage
In his recent appearance on Tucker Carlson Today, immunologist and government UFO advisor Garry Nolan claimed to have evidence that government employees, including military members, who encountered UFOs experienced brain damage and that some died following exposure to flying saucers. Nolan had studied the health records of hundreds of government employees at the invitation of Christopher "Kit" Green, a former CIA employee who studied "weird" topics in the 1970s and 1980s alongside his close friends, paranormal researchers Jacques Vallée and Hal Puthoff. Vallée documented some of their involvements in his diaries, published as Forbidden Science.
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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