Thursday, July 30, 2015

"The Ogopogo Monster" Season 2 Episode 8

The episode "The Ogopogo Monster" first aired on January 28, 1978 . It was written by Nicholas Webster and written and produced by  Nicholas Webster and Dyann Rivkin.

With all of these episodes I try to not search on the internet for any information about the topic or te particular episode of the show I'm about to watch. I want to approach each episode with only whatever information I have in my head. So when I saw this title, I wasn't completely sure what it referred to. I think I remember hearing that there might be a lake monster much like the Loch Ness Monster in Florida, and this might be what the Ogopogo Monster is? Other than that, I have no information or preconceived notions. I never heard much about this Florida monster, so I don't even know how legitimate it is?

We start off with a harrowing scene reenacted on Lake Okanagan in British Columbia, CA. In July of 1977 Erin Neely was water skiing and took a spill. Apparently she was attached by a strange creature. Neely was rescued and lived to tell the tale.

Neely described the creature as being a huge serpent-like monster. As it turns out, there have been others who have witnessed a monster in this lake. I guess the Florida connection is out the window? (Note: I googled "Florida lake monster" after watching this episode and I discovered what I was thinking of was the "Okeechobee Monster")

For those few people who have never heard of the Loch Ness Monster, Nimoy takes a few moments to give a brief overview. Apparently both lakes have many similarities, including lying on the same line of latitude. Nimoy wonders how it is possible for a creature to exist in this lake unknown to science.

He points out how scientists discovered the coelacanth 40 years earlier. Not only was it thought to be long since extinct, but it turned out to be much larger than previously thought.

(Okanagan Lake)

 Nimoy tells us about the Okanagan people who lived in the area for centuries. They have their own legends about the lake and it includes stories of a large creature who lives in the lake. We are taken to a tribal ceremony around a fire and one of the members tells about the legends. He explains that it is a serpent and that no one would attempt to cross the lake without making an offering to the serpent. Bad things often happened to those who did not appease the hungry monster.

Next we are taken to the Kelowna Museum and introduced to its curator, Ursula Sertes. The museum features various artifacts from the history of the Okangan people. Sertes has studies the culture for many years. She describes the legend of the lake monster and explains that it was called "Ogopogo" by the Okanagan people. Nimoy talks to a local nature writer who tells about talking to local people and hearing this name "Ogopogo". She was surprised to find they believed in the creature and had many stories to tell that they claimed to be truthful about the sea snake. Next we meet a couple who witnessed the creature in the lake. Harry and Betty Stanes have spent a good deal of time on the lake. They tell a frightening story of an encounter with the monster. They describe the creature as being very large, and had fins on top. They were concerned it would tip the boat. Jeffrey Sherwin also tells a story of an encounter fishing on a boat and seeing two humps sticking out of the water. He watched it for a full three minutes. He believes it was Ogopogo. Ed Fletcher and his daughter Jill also report seeing the creature. All descriptions seem to indicate a very big snake-like creature. The Fletchers were the ones from the start of the episode who were driving their boat when Erin Neely had her encounter. Ed has pictures and this is the best one!

Nimoy claims this is not a wave and no other explanation exists for what it is. Maybe that's true, but it doesn't look like a sea serpent to me. Because of these photos, the "In Search Of... " camera team is going to explore below the lake's surface. Local divers are accompanying the camera team. We are cautioned that because the lake is so large, the chances of getting an image of something are slim. This feels like they don't end up seeing anything and want to make sure we understand it doesn't mean the monster doesn't exist. They decide to look in the area where Erin Neely reported her encounter. They find nothing, but decide to announce a meeting to hear about local encounters and advertise the meeting in the local press. They were amazed at the number of people who showed up.

They take a few minutes to let us hear some sighting stories from the locals. The people all seem believable and seem to have been spooked by what they saw. They also all seem to have seen a large snake-like creature. Its also clear to me these people are well aware of the Ogopogo legends. Sometimes you see what you want to see? Nimoy hints at this by pointing out how the shimmering on the lake can be deceptive at times. But not everyone in the area believes in Ogopogo! Someone tied together 3 tires and set them a float on the lake. No surprise, they looked like 3 humps of a sea serpent. For a moment, the camera team thought they were seeing the monster. I'm sure they were pretty upset when they saw it was a hoax!

Nimoy gives acknowledgement to the power of deception and illusion, but he claims there are too many unanswered questions to dismiss Ogopogo completely. Next we are taken to a scientist at an aquarium who is talking with Ed Fletcher about the features he saw on the creature. Nimoy compares some of these features to known sea animals like eels and fish. The camera team decides to try and dive again, but in a different location. Once again, the team comes up empty. They have held the best evidence of Ogopogo until near the end of the episode. We are shown what is known as the "Folden film". Grainy, blurry, and just typical 70's quality, the film is indeed the best evidence I've seen. However, its hard to really see what is happening in the film. It could be a large serpent, or it could be something else entirely different (like tires). Next we meet Dr. Willard Bascom who speculates on the kind of conditions necessary for a creature like that to develop. He is skeptical that an animal that large could exist in a lake like Okanagan.

"Whether the creature is something known or unknown, its difficult to ignore these pictures and the large number of sightings of a creature scientists cannot explain. What it is we still don't know. Perhaps someday a scientific expedition will tell us? In the meantime, the Folden film provides us with the most conclusive evidence that something very large lives in Lake Okanagan."

I'm not buying it one bit. There are legends and the people who see things are influenced by the stories. A grainy film in the 70's might have been creepy, but that stuff doesn't cut it anymore. Where are the modern images of this monster? Garbage I say! I didn't think this was particularly interesting. I wasn't insulted like I was with a few episodes, but this just felt tired and lazy. I hope they find a way to turn things around!

You can watch this episode "The Ogopogo Monster" below.

Friday, July 3, 2015

"Hurricanes" Season 2 Episode 7

The episode "Hurricanes" first aired on January 26, 1978 . It was written and produced by Alex Pomasanoff.

Hurricanes? Really? What is there to search for with hurricanes? I don't understand the direction this show is taking in season two, and I certainly don't remember seeing some of these episodes. I can see why they didn't make it into syndication.

Nimoy shows us some satellite footage of a hurricane from space and tells us they are the most violent and frightening of all of nature's storms. This is followed by archival footage of hurricanes and their impact. Nimoy explains how the Natives of the Carribbean worshipped a powerful sky God known as Huracan. This is where the name Hurricane comes from. Nimoy takes us to August 4, 1969 and shows us footage of turbulence spotted by an orbiting satellite. He explains how the warm sea created the hurricane that became known as Camille. It was one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the United States.

We are next taken into the seat with meteorologists attempting to fly in the hurricane's eye and study it. He talks about how they take measurements and gather data. Yawn!

Nimoy emphasizes the unpredictability of hurricanes and how wide warnings went before Camille hit. We hear about evacuation procedures and the preparation for the hurricane. Clearly we are seeing a play by play of the devastation of Hurricane Camille. Nimoy makes the point that those who waited to escape, pay the price. Wind velocity hit 200 mph and so devastation was rampant.

I've learned much about hurricanes over the years and this episode is boring me to tears. Im not even sure I can finish watching.

Miraculously, we are told, some survive the hurricane. The coast is in shambles, but the storm eventually comes to an end. 200,000 are homeless and 250 dead. We get to see some footage from survivors talking about the destruction of the hurricane.

This is followed by interviews with several others who discuss what they lost and how bad it was. Surely tragic, but I don't see the connection to this show. Nimoy tells us Camille was the worst to hist the US, obviously this is before Hurricane Andrew or Hurricane Katrina. Maybe this is why I just don't find it interesting?

Next we hear about a devastating but smaller Hurricane that hit Florida in 1965. Once again, tragedy. I just don't find it compelling as "In Search Of... " something mysterious. Nimoy talks about new technology that us being used and how we have learned more about hurricanes in recent years.

Some discussion of weathermen in Miami who keep an eye on places likely to develop into hurricanes as an early warning system.

I'm slogging through this episode, its just not interesting. We are introduced to Dr. Neil Frank who is in charge of Hurricane research. He talks about how much we have learned in recent years.

Nimoy talks about the danger of living in Miami in terms of hurricane threat. Frank is right on when he says in 1978 that Florida is due to get hit. He tells us the last big one to hit Miami was in 1926. Well since this program aired, 4 hurricanes hit Miami including the famous Hurricane Andrew.

Nimoy spends some time discussing how a big hurricane could devastate Miami.

You can watch this episode "Hurricanes" below. In light of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, its a little disconcerting to hear Dr. Frank explain how people living on the coast have not learned their lessons and are doomed as a result.

"Today we still know very little about how hurricanes begin and exactly what forces determine their paths. For now, at least, threatened by their fury we should heed the warnings of the past."

This was a bad episode. It was dated, uninteresting, and added no new information to the understanding of hurricanes. I mean what was the point of this episode? It really was a waste of time.

If you really think you want to try and watch it, you can watch "Hurricanes" below. Trust me, you're better off avoiding it!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Michael Rockefeller" Season 2 Episode 6

The episode "Michael Rockefeller" first aired on January 21, 1978 . The narration was written and produced by Alex Pomasanoff.

I come into this episode looking forward to it as I know absolutely nothing about Michael Rockefeller! I even resisted the urge to Google his name when I saw the upcoming episode title.

We begin with some footage of the Asmat people of New Guinea. These mysterious people drew the attention of Michael Rockefeller who was the son of New York Governor and recent (at the time of airing in 1978) Vice President of the United States, Nelson Rockefeller.

Queue the stock footage of primitive people dancing and singing. Nimoy implies their lives are filled with violence and superstition. We learn that Michael Rockefeller was intrigued by these people and traveled to New Guinea to study them in 1961.

Nimoy gives us some background on Michael. He graduated from Harvard with Honors. We are told he loved traveled and people. Just six months after graduation he signed on to an archaeological expediton to New Guinea to study a tribe known as the "Dani".

Nimoy explains that for 6 months Rockefeller enjoyed his work and learning about the Dani. He served as photographer documenting their research visually. When this work ended, he was drawn to another part of New Guinea even less well known and a people known as the Asmat. These people lived as they had for centuries with "Stone Age" technology and little contact from others.

Rockefeller kept a journal and wrote about how the Asmat region fascinated him. He was intrigued by the simple way of life that had remained unchanged for centuries. Michael carefully documented Asmat life and they include a few of his shots like this one.

Its clear that he admired and respected the people from these photos. Asmat culture depends almost completely on trees for everything, and believe they are descended from trees. They believe that spirits reside in trees. We see some footage of the Asmat harvest a mangrove tree and how they rub mud on it to cleanse of evil spirits. This is followed by intricate carving. Some time is spent telling about the Asmat culture and how the carving plays a role in their beliefs. We hear more from Rockefeller's journal and how deeply interested he was in these carvings. He actually began collecting some for himself. For weeks Rockefeller traveled in the region often with missionaries or other anthropologists. Over time, he amassed many carvings and dreamed of an exhibit of the art.

Rockefeller and Dutch anthropologist Rene Wassing were together on a trip to get carvings that Rockefeller had already bartered for. He had been warned of dangerous currents that arrive suddenly. Apparently his boat capsized and the natives swam for help while he and Wassing clung all night to the boat. Fearing the Natives weren't coming back, Rockefeller swam for help himself. The Natives made it to a village and the Dutch Government launched a rescue mission. Nimoy makes the point that the area was littered with dangerous animals. Miraculously, they found Wassing and the capsized boat after a day of searching.

Wassing explained how Rockefeller had swam to shore. Now the search intensified for him. It took three days for news to reach Governor Rockefeller. The Governor traveled to New Guinea, and the news was not good. They could find no sign of Michael Rockefeller. After several days, one of the gasoline cans Rockefeller had used to help him float was found. It offered a faint glimmer of hope. The largest manhunt in the history of New Guinea was on. It took two months for the search to conclude. The Governor returned home heartbroken by the idea that Michael was most likely dead.

Within weeks rumors grew that perhaps Michael was still alive in the jungle. Seven years after his disappearance a man named Milt Machlin launched an investigation into the disappearance.

He was a writer and magazine editor. He claimed he was visited by a secretive man named "Donohue" in 1968. He told Machlin he had seen and talked with Michael Rockefeller on a tiny island in New Guinea. Machlin followed Donahue's information. According to Donahue, Rockefeller had been picked up b y a war party and taken over 1,000 miles to the Trobriand Islands. Apparently Machlin himself became intrigued and interested in the Natives of New Guinea. He spoke with a local Chief who gave him direction to the island where supposedly Rockefeller had been seen. It was a long journey, but Machlin eventually found the island which he described as "paradise". But the island was eerie, not many signs of any life. Machlin spotted a make shift shelter on the island that had been abandoned. Machlin was discouraged and gave up his search. The fate of Rockefeller was still a mystery, but was this Donahue figure lying? Machlin traced down endless leads over two months. He finally met a Dutch missionary who claimed that he heard Rockefeller had been captured and killed by Natives. Father Cornelius Van Kessel mentioned a War Chief of the Asmat called Ajam. The current Chief of the Asmat was interviewed by "In Search Of... " as he remembered Rockefeller.

He talked about the search, and how so many helicopters and white people frightened them. He also mentioned how rival villages had blamed his death on the Asmat. He says if his people had killed him, he would know. He claims they did not kill him. The cameras then show us how the Asmat still live a primitive lifestyle. They show us how violence and superstition still persist. I think Nimoy is trying to imply that it is plausible that they may have killed Rockefeller. This discussed with a background of footage of dancing and singing. Nimoy quotes admiration for the Asmat people from Rockefeller's journal. This is followed by footage from Nelson Rockefeller at a press conference talking about his son and his life.

"Before Michael Rockefeller traveled to New Guinea he spoke of doing something romantic and adventurous at a time when frontiers, in a real sense of the word, were disappearing. Today his tragic loss is underscored by the accelerating demise of the Asmat people and their culture."

I like this episode a lot. It wasn't really creepy, but since I knew nothing about it I found it very interesting. I'm not sure what to make of this Milt Machlin or this guy  "Donahue", but I was very interested in Rockefeller and sad that he disappeared. I decided to do a little outside research after watching. According to the book Rocky Goes West by Paul Toohey, Rockefeller's mother hired a private investigator to go back to New Guinea. Supposedly he found the skulls of the only three white men ever killed by the tribe and brought them back to show the family. If it was proven one was Rockefeller or not, the family has never commented. There was another book just published in 2014, Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art by Carl Hoffman. According to Hoffman, he talked with Asmat people who say Rockefeller was killed in retaliation for an incident in 1958 in which Asmat men were killed in a confrontation with Dutch travelers. As unsatisfying as this is, it may prove to be the final word on Michael Rockefeller. Good episode on an interesting topic!

You can watch this episode "Michael Rockefeller" below.

"Astrology" Season 2 Episode 5

The episode "Astrology" first aired on January 12, 1978 . It was written and produced by Peter Rosten.

This is going to be a tough one. I come into this episode with a definite bias against astrology. I give no credibility whatsoever to when someone was born, or the alignments of planets and stars and these effects on human behavior. The moon's gravitational pull may have a bit of an impact on liquid in the brain, but that's as far as I go. So I will be interested to see what they do and if they can convince me to have a more open mind on this topic.

The episode starts on a positive note for me as Nimoy gives information about the increase in crime, fires, freak accidents, and reports of mental illness during periods when the moon is full. But I suspect he is trying to bring us into the more unusual theories slowly.

But Nimoy is not going slowly, he hits us with a strange young woman who babbles on in a way that causes me to laugh out loud.
"I'm an Aries, I have a Libra rising, my Venus is in Pisces, my moon is in cancer. Uh, I know an awful lot about it because every man that I like I be sure and check out what his sign is first before I get, you know, too involved." This is exactly the stereotype I am biased against! We hear from a few other folks who are obsessed with their horoscopes and what everyone's sign is. Nimoy reveals he is an Aries with Scorpio rising. He makes the point that most do know their sign, and that's as far as it goes.

Nimoy defines Astrology for us as the forecasting of events on Earth based on the movements of the stars, planets, and other objects in space. He gets into some history and explains that its likely Astrology started with early humans who noticed their fortunes with hunting and growing crops were different depending on the alignment of objects in the night sky. We learn that the formal study of Astrology began in Mesopotamia at least 3000 years before Christ. From there it spread and influenced the creation of the calendar based on 12 units. The Ancient Egyptians incorporated their observations of the night sky into the construction of the pyramids.

Nimoy points out that at one time, astronomers and astrologers were one in the same. We learn about the work of Ptolemy and how his work dominated the study for many years. Nimoy goes on to explain that the Meji were astrologers and started them on their journey to witness the birth of Christ. After the death of Christ, many Christians condemned astrology as Pagan. They are definitely spending some time here implying a legitimacy to astrology that has been lost over time, perhaps, without good reason. We are introduced to Dr. George O. Abell an astronomer from UCLA. Abell disputes the legitimacy of astrology and implies that they are absolutely crazy!

He does focus on the more ludicrous claims of astrology to ridicule all of astrology. He ends by claiming that the Nazis believed in astrology. Nimoy tells us about how Hitler, Goebbels and others relied on astrology to guide their strategy. When the war went badly, many of these astrologers were sent to concentration camps. We hear about Hitler's personal astrologer, Karl Krafft, who died on his way to Buchenwald. Louis de Wohl was another astrologer who escaped form the Nazis and worked for Britain as the war came to an end. He served Britain's strategists for the remainder of the war, and predicted dozens of strategies employed by Germany. He also saw danger signs ahead for FDR a few months before he died. Seems like he got a little lucky.

Nimoy goes on to claim that many astrologers have made predictions that have come true over the years. Apparently someone whose sign is Aquarius is unpredictable and prone to surprises. We are told if you are with an Aquarius, you don't know what will happen next! Then we meet a Cancer, and are told that they tend to be emotional and extremely loyal. Next a Leo, who are the "showmen". they are extroverts. Apparently the most feared sign is Scorpio. They are envious, tense, and passionate. We hear about Dr. Hans Eyesink from London University who attempted to disprove astrology by proving that these personality traits are false. He used a computer and questionnaires to analyze data. Much to his astonishment, he wasn't able to disprove it. He also found a correlation between extroversion and one's sign.

Dr. Eyesink explains his process and how surprising it was to him. Nimoy points out how astrology has commercial applications such as predicting stock market trends. He also mentions examples of some folks who have used astrology to predict weather patterns, much like the Farmer's Almanac. More information about how astrology effects short wave radio signals and other electrical signals on the Earth. All of this was used to make long term predictions about weather. More information about the full moon- more babies are born during a full moon, and surgeries are more likely to go bad during a full moon. An ambulance driver is interviewed and he explains how he noticed an increase in unusual cases during a full moon.

Nimoy refers to this phenomenon as "lunacy" and points out the connection to "lunar" in reference to the moon. Apparently the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter has occurred every 20 years since 1840. Nimoy points out the Presidents who were elected when this happened ending up dying in office. The most recent being John Kennedy. What he doesn't know is that the next time it happens, Reagan is elected, and though he was shot he did not die in office. Neither did Bush who was elected in 2000. So much for this theory. But he can't let of this quickly. He tells us of astrologers who attempted to warn President Kennedy that his life was in danger. He cites one somewhat vague warning published in October of 1963.

"I had a brief telephone conversation with Sidney Omar and I took some notes on what he told me. He asked me my birthdate, and I told him it was March 26, 1931. He said, 'you've spent a year of searching and disillusionment' and said that 'you tend to become immersed in a mood.' That's probably true. He told me I have a powerful personality which tends to make people afraid of me although I'm actually quite vulnerable. That's flattering. Finally, he said, 'Think mentally of one question.' I thought, what's next? And he said, 'Let go, it's finished. You're riding a losing proposition. Take a cold plunge into the future. Let go of the security of the past.' Thank you very much Sidney, I'll keep it in mind. Time will tell." He doesn't seem convinced and neither am I! A perfectly vague statement that can be interpreted to relate to almost anyone.

Not a great episode, it was pretty boring. There is something to the science of the stars and planets impacting the way people think and weather patterns. Beyond that, I see no evidence and a lot of wishful thinking. I was not impressed and saw nothing to change my mind about astrology. Boo! I sure hope they find some better topics for future episodes!

You can watch this episode "Astrology" below.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

"Mayan Mysteries" Season 2 Episode 4

The episode "Mayan Mysteries" first aired on January 7, 1978 . It was written and produced by Terry A. Landau.

This episode starts off with some interesting claims about the Mayans. According to Nimoy their teeth do not decay, their hearts beat only about 50 beats a minute and their skulls are unlike any other humans. Is this legitimate? I looked around the web and couldn't find anywhere else where these caims had been made.

Why did their civilization flourish and then disappear? I have been long intrigued by Mayan culture. I even got to see some Mayan ruins myself in 2012. Nimoy takes us to the Biblical story of Genesis and how that story tells of the creation of life on Earth.

In a weird 70's type of vibe we see a baby growing. Then we have a reenactment of early humans who lived simply. Nimoy points out how civilization developed slowly in most cases. He is setting us up to understand that the Mayans were different. These folks built elaborate ceremonial complexes much earlier than any other civilization. Scholar and Poet "Alurista" believes the Mayans were special.

Alurista claims the Mayans were studying astronomy, mathematics, and alchemy. Although he doesn't offer a lot of proof of this, he does show they knew what day of the week a day would fall on millions of years into the future. Nimoy tells us of Giles Healey who made an interesting discovery in 1947. Healey stumbled onto Bonampak, ancient Mayan murals that proved to be a gold mine of information. These amazing murals showed Mayan ceremonial life.

These murals tell of a grand processional and music as part of an elaborate ceremony. The murals show a raid, prisoners, and human sacrifice. The commanding figure is the priest who is preoccupied with studying the stars. They believed that history repeats itself, and so recording the past was key to understanding the future. They even knew about the wheel, but made no practical use of it.

They built elaborate roads that connected cities. One such road ends at Uxmal. Nimoy contends it can be seen as a colossal monument to the snake. Back to Alurista who gets very spiritual with us. He talks about how nothing moves in a straight line and related things. He says this is why they worshipped the snake. The snake God was named Kulkulkan and the Maya believed he was a white skinned and bearded deity. According to folklore, he was the one who provided the Mayans with advanced understandings of math and astronomy. At Chichen Itza, the Mayan priests read the future in the patterns of the stars as learned from Kulkulkan.

Kulkulkan built the temple at Chichen Itza with 364 steps and the top representing the 365th day of the year. Legend has it that Kulkulkan understood the power of the snake. He translated this power into the building of Chichen Itza. Twice a year, on the Fall and Spring Equinox, at 5pm the sunlight reveals a snake slithering down the side of the temple (This video shows the phenomenon at the 2:15 mark). According to legend, Kulkulkan disappeared. They also played the first known team sport in human history with permanent consequences. Winning was rare because of the difficulty of the task. If a team won, the spectators had to give up all possessions to the winners. The losers were put to death. So it was better to end in a draw. Apparently the priests all left the temples mysteriously and the game stopped being played in the same way.

When the Spanish arrived they were mystified by the amazing structures they found and wondered how the people they encountered had accomplished such feats. These conqusitadores were soon followed by missionaries who sought to convert the Mayans to Catholocism. Alurista tells us of how Mayan books and texts were destroyed by the Monks who came to convert the Mayans. The Monks believed the snake cult represented Satan. Much of the Mayan culture was lost with this destruction.

Nimoy tells us of scholar speculation that the Mayan may have been decimated by disease, or perhaps most left due to earthquakes in the area. We are told of the earthquake that hit Guatemala City in 1976 and was one of the worst disasters in the Western Hemisphere.

Nimoy spends some time exploring the possibility of crop failures or other natural disasters as possibly having led to the decline of the Mayan culture. Alurista even goes so far as to suggest that psychic energy played an important role in the Mayan culture, and their inability to continue to control with this energy may have led to their downfall. Alurista contends that the Mayans left the Yucatan peninsula and made their way to Egypt and into the Red Sea where they started another civilization. He even claims that when Christ was crucified, his last words were Mayan and meant, "At last, I sink in the dawn of your presence." This is truly a controversial claim and and he offers no proof.

Little remains of the Ancient Mayan culture and knowledge today. They started their calendar on August 12, 3113 BC and said their time on Earth would last 5,200 years. hey predicted that on December 21, 2012 a cataclysmic earthquake would destroy their civilization. New men of knowledge would then appear to fight the forces of evil.

"If the Mayan men of knowledge were right, in just 35 years we may learn the answers to some of the ancient Mayan mysteries."

Looks like they were wrong. Sure there was a bit of hype among "New Age" thinkers and people into the Ancient Mayans that the end of the world was coming in 2012, but nothing happened.

This was an ok episode. I have long known the Mayan were mysterious and I do find them interesting, but there wasn't much creepiness here. Maybe viewing this before 2012 might have provided a little more creepiness? Also, this Alurista guy seems like a nut to me and provided nothing but wild speculation. The superior knowledge of the Ancient Mayan is truly fascinating and I have to wonder what happened to them, but I don't find it creepy and I suspect they met their end the way many others have. So it was ok, just not the kind of topic I expect to find with this show.

You can watch this episode "Mayan Mysteries" below.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

"Firewalkers" Season 2 Episode 3

The episode "Firewalkers" first aired on January 5, 1978 . It was written and produced by Norma Thorn.

Nimoy dives in with images of fire and hot coals. He tells us that the ancient custom of firewalking persists around the world. But the question of how it is done without causing harm remains. I guess, but is this really such a big mystery worthy of a 22 minute episode? Certainly there are still some unknowns with firewalking here in 2015, but I feel l like this phenomenon is not all that bizarre.

Nimoy gives an elementary school type overview of the positive effects of fire as well as the dangers. It is unknown where it began, but record of it exists in the Bible and in Hindu texts. It is still quite common in the modern world and seems to have one common denominator. The firewalk is only considered successful if the walker emerges unscathed. To prove that fire typically burns easily, Nimoy holds his hand to a flame and explain how easy it is to burn skin.

How do firewalkers expose themselves to these hot coals without burning? Nimoy reminds us some skeptics insist a trick is involved, but he says evidence suggests there may be another explanation. We are introduced to psychologist Sydney Walter who has spent time studying firewalkers in Asia. He believes a type of hypnosis or mediation is key to avoiding the effects of the burning coals. He says they are able to disassociate from what their senses are experiencing.

What follows are some experiments conducted by Walter. This shows people can block pain out of their mind. This is not news and quite well known. As Nimoy asks, however, it may block pain but can it stop blisters and burned skin?

We are now taken to the village of San Pedro Manrique in the Northwestern part of Spain. Each year in June the village has a festival and a firewalk to honor a Saint. Both Christian and pre-Christian symbolism are a part of the festivities around St. John's Day.

Nimoy explains the connection between pagan customs and Christian traditions. A bonfire ushers in the night, followed by enthusiastic crowds. The fire bed is in excess of 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. The first walker is chosen and meets great success.

The Spanish villagers believe it is faith that protects them. What exactly it is, is still unknown and not everyone agrees. Now to India, where Nimoy suggests many believe the answer to how to avoid the burns lies in the "mystical" teaching of the East. Ganja White, who is trained in the teachings of Yoga, discusses how the body can be controlled by the mind. He is known as King of Yogis and has personally walked on fire. He spends a few minutes talking about energy and spirit and some other things that are not easy to follow. He suggests a type of energy serves as an insulator between skin and the colas. Nimoy goes so far to suggest that it can be photographed through a technique called Kirlian Photography.

Ganja White demonstrates how using Yogi techniques, people can do things they thought were impossible. The example is lifting a person with just your fingers. I think physics plays a larger role than mysticism, but they believe. Now on to to Indonesia where Nimoy draws comprsions  to the Hindu faith. The firewalking in Indonesia is very similar to what one sees in India. We are shown a Shaman entering into a trance.

We are shown the whole ceremony which includes lots of sinigng, dancing, and chanting. In the end, the Shaman walks through the fire unscathed. It is believed that this act purifies the village.

Now we meet Dr. Gerald Flagan (?) (can't tell what the last name is). He is a well known San Francisco surgeon who traveled to the South Pacific and participated in a firewalking ceremony. He seems to believe that parapsychology is a big part of the firewalking success. He tells us his background in science made him skeptical and a good judge of what was happening. He talks about the eloquence of the performance and how the mood seemed to have an effect on his mind and body. He went from being skeptical to being confident that he coud do it. He says that while walking on the coals he felt intense heat from his knees up, but cold from his knees to his feet. He is now a firm believer that firewalking is real and something paranormal is involved.

"According to legend, firewalking was practiced even more extensively than it is today. But no legend reveals the answer to the ultimate mystery. How and when did this bizarre custom begin? What could have compelled so many people at such far reaches of the world to pit themselves against one of nature's most awesome and terrifying elements? Although a definitive answer may never be found, there is a startling piece of evidence that points to a radical new explanation." All of a sudden, my curiosity is provoked! It turns out that those areas where firewalking is popular tend to correspond to volcanic activity. Perhaps people were trapped by lava and those who survived found a way to cross the lava safely and they attached some religious significance and divine providence to it? Its an interesting theory and it makes a lot of sense!

This episode was ok. Not as bad as the last one, but it wasn;t creepy at all and not even all that much of a mystery. I like the big reveal of the possible connection to volcanoes to explain the rise of firewalking, but that feels like interesting historical analysis and not really a creepy mystery.

You can watch this episode "Firewalkers" below.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

"The Man Who Would Not Die" Season 2 Episode 2

The episode "The Man Who Would Not Die" first aired on December 31, 1977 . It was written and produced by Nicholas Webster.

Just as the season premiere was on Christmas Eve, I find it interesting that the follow up was on New Year's Eve! People sitting around the old TV watching this over College Football or heading out to ring in the New Year? You don't see too many new episodes air of anything air on New Year's Eve anymore.

Nimoy plunges into France in the 1760's. He describes a man on the run who appeared 40, but many claimed he was at least 150 years old! The Count of St. Germain was considered to be a genius by many. Why was he also known as the man who would not die?

I like this so far. I have never heard of this guy, and I'm a sucker for anything historical. There is something creepy about these reenactments from the 1760's done in the 1970's. Nimoy tells us how the Court of Versailles in 1757 was still a court of splendor and traditional royal ideas and fashions. Nimoy references memoirs written by St. Germain that tells us he was a great violinist able to play from memory.


(an engraving of the Count of St. Germain)
 Apparently even King Louis XV liked the Count! We see sort of a modern reality TV type segment where an actor portraying Louis talks to the camera in a bad French accent about how much he liked the Count. Thumbs down on this piece! Please don't tell me this is where the show is headed!!

Louis explains that the Count once removed a flaw from one of his diamonds, increasing its wealth. He also taught Louis chemistry. St. Germain claimed that he learned to remove flaws from diamonds and turn metal into gold on a trip to India.

Nimoy tells us the Count never confirmed nor denied any of the rumors about him. He spoke at least a dozen languages and when asked how old he was he evaded an answer as if he enjoyed the mystery. Apparently St. Germain may have been born in Transylvania. Evidence suggests that St. Germain's father was Prince Francis Rakoczi and that he may have sent St. Germain to Florence under the protection of the Medici family. This would explain his extraordinary education and appreciation of art. The descriptions of St. Germain show his charisma and charm. He supposedly had a relationship with Louis' own mistress Madame Pompadour. Now the cheesy reality style actor playing Pompadour speaks to the camera. She raves about his charm and all the languages he could speak. She always says some of her elderly friends at court knew him for fifty years and yet he never seemed to age. She giggles at the thought he may have had a magic elixir of life.

The famous charmer of ladies, Casanova, speaks to the camera next. In a bad Italian accent he questions the Count's legitimacy and accuses him of lying. Clearly he saw him as a rival. Casanova implies that it is easy to amuse ladies. Casanova claims he has never seen him any food. Nimoy tells us he was known to eat very small meals.

French philosopher Voltaire was an admirer of of the Count. Voltaire tells us in a breathy French accent that the Count's knowledge of history is so detailed that you would believe he lived through the events himself. Louis also is amazed at how much St. Germain knew and in such amazing detail. Louis tells us he trusted him to send him on secret mission to England. Once discovered, Louis had to disavow any knowledge he had sent him and instead ordered him arrested. These cheesy talks into the camera are starting to ruin this for me.

Louis' foreign minister went after St. Germain and ordered him shot as an English spy. He further circulated rumors around Europe of all sorts. Not the least of which was that he was Portuguese and of questionable parentage. St. Germain was able to escape to London without being caught. However the rumors followed him. He eventually made his way to Russia and joined a conspiracy to overthrow Tsar Peter in 1762. He won favor from Catherine the Great thanks to his battlefield strategy. Most of his activities were shrouded in mystery, but he did create secret societies connected to the occult and predicted the collapse of the French Monarchy.He wrote a book titled "The Most Holy Trinosophia" considered to be a classic and a blend of modern and ancient languages.

We are told that the Count spent the final years of his life in Germany practicing alchemy and meeting with various secret societies. His last known confidant was Prince Charles.

In 1784 the Count lay mortally ill in the Castle of Prince Charles. Lucky us, Prince Charles is available for an interview! Charles tells us that St. Germain confided in him that Prince Francis of Transylvania was indeed his father. He also mentions the Medici family. Charles gushes about how great he was. Surprisingly, Prince Charles didn't attend the funeral and his burial was not recorded.

Nimoy tells us that sightings of the Count were reported after his supposed death, even into the 19th century. He then tells us there have been eve more recent sightings!

We are now introduced to Elizabeth Claire Prophet who is not an actress, she is alive in 1977. She believes the Count speaks through her to the world. She says a bunch of strange things very calmly. She claims he was a priest at ancient Atlantis. She seems confident of her knowledge.

She believes that St. Germain has appeared on Earth at key times in human history. She talks about his presence at the death of Christ, King Arthur, etc. I find her completely unbelievable, annoying in her sing-songy voice, and just plain weird. She talks about how he was known as the wonderman of Europe for 200 years and how wonderful he was. His main mission was to warn the Monarchs of Europe of the coming fall of most of their reigns.

Now we meet a historian and professor of European history with a different opinion from Prophet. Big surprise! He thinks St. Germain was similar to Casanova and other adventurers in the 18th century. He was looking to make money form the gullible.

Back to Prophet who seems to have been talking the whole time we were away and is still talking. She claims St. Germain gave a speech inspiring the delegates in Philadelphia to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Now a chorus of strange people singing about St. Germain. In Pasadena at her church, Prophet leads her congregation in this song. She allows the camera to show her claiming the spirit of St. Germain is flowing through her. she speaks in an odd voice and is so unbelievable it makes one laugh out loud. She and her congregation chant "Hail St. Germain" over and over again. Wow is this cheesy!!

"Evidence recently discovered in the library of the British Museum indicates that St. Germain might well have been the lost third son of Prince Francis Rakoczi, born in Transylvania in 1694. If he died in Germany in 1784 he lived 90 years. The average life expectancy in the 18th century was 35 years. 50 was a ripe old age. 90 was forever." Nimoy doesn't even seem to buy the mystery of St. Germain himself.

Boo for this episode! Not very good at all. It started out ok with the history and the story I had never heard of. But the poor production quality of the actors speaking into the camera really ruined for it me. Throw in the strange and laughable Elizabeth Claire Prophet and this episode was a waste of my time. I hope they do a much better job in the future with the production and avoid actors pretending like they are on a reality TV show. Remember what I said in the beginning about a first run episode being shown on New Year's Eve feeling odd? Maybe we now know why! The episode was made and they knew it was a dud so show it on New Year's Eve and maybe no one will see it! Just skip this one.

You can watch this episode "The Man Who Would Not Die" below,  but I wouldn't recommend it.