Thousands of years after Homer first made reference to the Trojan horse in a short passage of The Odyssey, an Italian archaeologist now claims that the mythical wooden creation was actually a boat, according to reports appearing this month in Italian media. Francesco Tiboni, a naval archaeologist at the University of Marseille, published an article in Archaeologia Viva claiming that the story of the Trojan Horse was nothing more than a mistranslation of one key word in Homer.
A few months’ time will mark the 25th anniversary of the end of one of my favorite childhood TV series, Count Duckula, which ran on ITV and Nickelodeon from 1989 to 1993. The Cosgrove Hall production was a spinoff of the popular Danger Mouse series, but for me it was the funnier and more informative series. It was my first exposure to British humor, and also to many of the tropes of imperialist science fiction, fantasy, and Gothic horror, setting the stage for many of my later interests. It also featured a magnificent art style that was also highly influential on my own art style
Weekend Roundup: Tom DeLonge Rakes in Cash, "Curse of Oak Island" Rakes in Viewers, and a Russian Man Claims a Mars-Sphinx Link
Regular readers will remember that last month ufologist and fading rock musician Tom DeLonge launched a public benefit corporation to promote science fiction movies and what he describes as high-speed time travel transportation systems. Oh, and something about UFO disclosure, but not really, except when it is. As part of the launch of To the Stars… Academy of Arts and Science, or TTS-AAS, in its official and illogical abbreviation, the company offered shares of stock to the public.
Is it possible that I am running out of things to write about? It seems that this has been a particularly slow week for bad claims about history, and I am inclined to think that the collapse of the media’s interest in fringe history is to blame. Over the past couple of years, the number of cable shows focusing on fringe history (broadly defined) has declined markedly. Where once they filled several hours per day several days per week, to the point that one weekend there were nonstop fringe shows on some cable channel or another, now there are only a few, led by Ancient Aliens, a show that stopped being about history when it decided to become a spiritual movement and a lifestyle brand. Even written fringe is in decline. Nephilim theorists like L. A. Marzulli have devolved into pro-Trump pundits, and even the clickbait sites are reduced to recycling recycled content.
This week the Screen Junkies team returned from a month of crisis following sexual harassment allegations against Andy Signore, and they released a parody trailer for Stranger Things. In the trailer, the overriding argument is that the show is basically nostalgia porn, a program hand-crafted for 40-somethings to relive their childhood. It’s funny, as they say, because it’s true.
Yes, The Curse of Oak Island returned last night, but as it has dragged on, the program has become a reality show more than a documentary series, and the deaths of two cast members make it much less fun to criticize the increasingly rickety program. When and if they uncover anything worth mentioning, I might return to talking about it.
The Daily Mail ran another of its stupid clickbait articles, and it has earned quite a bit of play across the fringe internet for reasons that baffle me. The new article implies, without bothering to explain, that the city of Nan Madol, in the South Pacific, had something to do with the lost continent of Atlantis. The news peg is that the Science Channel took some satellite images of the city, which the internet quickly misunderstood as meaning that Nan Madol had been “newly” discovered. This, in turn, prompted the Daily Mail to write about the online speculation as though it had substance.
Longtime ancient astronaut theorist Erich von Däniken has a new book out this week called The Gods Never Left Us. However, it is being published by New Page Books, which has banned me from receiving review copies, so I am not able to review the book yet. I would be willing to bet, however, that I could completely make up a review based on von Däniken’s past work and no one would ever notice the difference. At the rate he churns them out, there can’t really be that much original material in any given book. This is especially likely since his next new book, Impossible Truths, is due out in January. The only thing special about The Gods Never Left Us is that it is being marketed as a direct sequel to Chariots of the Gods. And here, silly me, I thought his previous three dozen books on the same theme were sequels. The book description is unintentionally hilarious: “Can’t they leave us alone? And what makes it so difficult for us to acknowledge the existence of these extraterrestrials? That is what this book deals with.” Yes, why can’t they seem to leave poor old von Däniken alone? After all, he’s only gotten 34 volumes out of the “mystery.”
When I reviewed the new book Twilight of Empire by Greg King and Penny Wilson, about the suicide of Austria’s Crown Prince Rudolf in 1889, I mentioned that the conspiracy they suggest that Rudolf endorsed to bifurcate the Austro-Hungarian Empire and seize control of Hungary for himself would have required a much longer discussion than I gave it in my review to do the claim justice. While I don’t have any intention of writing a dissertation on it, I thought that it might be a good idea to take a look at the evidence for the conspiracy to see how it developed from a strange and biased source.
I have been steadfastly ignoring the news reports promoting the Rev. Barry Downing’s new book about UFOs in the Bible, but the number of them is getting ridiculous. The capper came when Mysterious Universe’s Paul Seaburn promoted the book as though it were a fresh and exciting take on the ancient alien claim. This is silly for a number of reasons, not just because Downing appeared on Ancient Aliens years ago to deliver the same message, but because his current book is a virtual rewrite of his first book on the subject, published in 1968! The claims are mostly the same, and they weren’t original then either.
There are times when I just don’t have the energy to seek out crazy stuff to write about. Sometimes I have to let the crazy come to me. Today’s subject is brief but interesting. It’s a graphic representation of a secret base located inside the Great Pyramid, and it comes to us courtesy of David S. Anderson (@DSAArchaeology) who posted it to his Twitter feed yesterday. Take a look:
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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