Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Miscellaneous Thoughts Regarding Recent Stories About UFOs and Congress

Photo credit: ennyman
I was talking with a friend who told me about the recent congressional hearings regarding UFOs. He seemed surprised I did not know about it. I replied that there is a lot happening in the world, so no one can't follow everything.

Then he began pressing me to say where I stand regarding the existence of UFOs in general and whether I believe they come from outer space.

The topic interests me, and I know people who have personally had inexplicable experiences, sightings that can't be reasonably explained, but I've tended to remain noncommittal. Alas. The notion is intriguing but I honestly don't yet know where I stand.

My position on a lot of things is to remain neutral until I can either wholly accept it or whole-heartedly reject it. In other words, until that time I am leaving it on the shelf titled "I'm not really sure."

There are plenty of issues sitting dormant on that shelf. Until I find time to investigate an issue in greater depth, I just let sleeping dogs lie.

Here are a couple stories about what happened in Congress. Stick around to read my follow up thoughts below.

Congress implies UFOs have non-human origins. (The Hill)

"In Congress, where legislation is drafted, debated and enacted, clear and concise definitions are of paramount importance. As military aircrews increasingly encounter unidentified flying objects (UFOs), lawmakers recently made several striking revisions to the definition of “UFO.” Key among them: The explosive implication that some UFOs have non-human origins."

Congress Admits UFOs Not ‘Man-Made,’ Says ‘Threats’ Increasing ‘Exponentially’ (

"The new budget for America’s intelligence services directs the Pentagon to focus its UFO investigation on those objects that it can't identify."

Congress sounds really concerned about unidentified aerial phenomenon

Many UFO sightings remain 'nonattributed' to human technology, according to a Senate report. (Popular Science)
"Over the past few years, Congress has slowly admitted that it is just as confused as the rest of us about the numerous unidentified aerial phenomenon (UAP) incidents reported by reliable US military and government personnel."

* * * 

Now it may be true that there are aliens studying life on earth, but if we chose to rule that out, what are people seeing and experiencing?

My wife's uncle was an architect who designed cockpits on top secret aircraft projects for the government. One such project was the Harrier jet, which ascends vertically before zooming off. As you can imagine, this works well when you have no runway or very limited space to take off. 

He told me that when they were testing the Harrier, especially at night, every time it was flown there were phone calls from people who claimed they has seen a UFO.  The Defense Department denied these reports, 

Am I saying that all these sightings have a natural rather than supernatural explanation? Not necessarily. 

* * * 

The conversation with my friend took an interesting and unusual turn. You know the expression life imitates art? Here's an interesting "What if?"  Do you remember the H.G Wells story War of the Worlds? (Orson Welles re-enacted it on the radio and terrified a lot of people on the East Coast. Tom Cruise was also in a film version more recently.)

"Do you remember how the Martians were defeated?" he asked. 

"Yes," I said. "It was a virus." 

So, what if the U.S. and China were working together to develop a virus that would spread quickly and easily to be used against an invading alien army? What if this virus accidentally escaped and killed millions worldwide unintentionally? But what if an alien assault like War of the Worlds actually happened in our lifetimes and this virus wiped out every alien that left its spacecraft? Would Fauci became the Time magazine Man of the Year for saving mankind?

Oh well, just noodling the implications of this breaking UFO news. Is this a setup for another Wag the Dog scenario? What are your thoughts? Are UFOs alien spacecraft from other planets or galaxies? I'd love to hear your comments.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Renovation of the Alhambra and Other Stories

In June I was approached by Bob Boone, publisher of the Reader, a weekly alternative to the Duluth News Tribune, to do a story about the Alhambra, a forgotten theater that he discovered when he purchased the Interior Tomato building adjacent to the West Theater. My working title for the piece was Bob Boone Shares His Vision for the Alhambra. 

It's actually quite a story. The piece was finally published in August and it began like this:

The Vision for the Alhambra

One of the most exciting West Duluth developments in recent years has been the appearance of a number of classy new establishments. The Boreal House is two years old, Zenith Bookstore five this week. Jade Fountain, also new, has been a welcome addition to the neighborhood where Wussow’s Concert Cafe has served as an anchor for the past two decades.

Across the street the historic West Theater has also contributed to the magic of this neighborhood’s re-emergence. And when Reader publisher Bob Boone completes his current reconstruction project there will be yet another lost historic theater next to the West: The Alhambra.


* * * 

Re-creating the original sculpted design features.
It's hard to say what I found most interesting about this story. In part it's a story about serendipity. In part, it's a story about Duluth's lost history. What especially interested me was its tie to the Alhambra in Spain. Even if only in name only, there's something exotic about this famous landmark in Andalusia, the region where Cervantes' Don Quixote dreamed his own impossible dreams.

I attempted to suggest a parallel between Bob Boone and the famous knight of old. I didn't want to push it too far, lest someone believe Mr. Boone was similarly "tilting at windmills." Nevertheless, there's something to be said for dreamers. 

* * * 
For what it's worth, the Reader archives many of the stories written by its writers. If interested you can walk back in time and read some of my previous contributions to this local rag. For a little over three years I covered "the arts beat" and became quite immersed in the local art scene.   You can read find some of the interviews I did along with a few other stories here.

Meantime, if you are a writer, write on.

Photo top right courtesy Kathryn A Martin Library, Archives & Special Collections

Sunday, August 28, 2022

James Dean's Bit Part in the Fifties Cast a Long Shadow, But What If....?

From the book James Dean: 50 Years Ago
Because Buddy Holly performed one of his last concerts here in Duluth, leaving lasting impression on the young Robert Zimmerman who was there that night, I've numerous times been asked, "Would Buddy Holly have stayed famous and influential had he lived?"

It's one of the age old questions people ask when famous people die young. "What if..." What if Marilyn Monroe had lived? What if JFK had lived? And today's theme: What if James Dean had lived?

* * * 

Earlier this year I picked out David Halberstam's The Fifties for my summer read because I was born in the early Fifties and believed it would help me understand myself. Though I've always believed it was the Sixties that shaped my life trajectory, one cannot escape recognizing how the outlines of our Sixties lives emerged from what came before. 

Interestingly, the ones who were most shaped by the Fifties were the kids born in the early Forties, like Bob Dylan. There's no question James Dean had been an influence on Dylan. Coming of age in Hibbing, Bobby Zimmerman's uncles owned the theaters there and much has been made of Bobby Z having spent hours at the Lybba and other theaters in town. We not only see references to films in his songs but also see his interest in the medium of film itself. (eg. Renaldo & Clara, Masked and Anonymous, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.)

As for James Dean himself, Bob Dylan once visited James Dean's hometown after a concert in Indianapolis, much like Dylan fans make a trek to Duluth and Hibbing to see the homes and points of interest where young Dylan grew up.

So we come to the question that is now on the table. What kind of career would James Dean have had had he lived? Here's some of what Halberstam wrote. In a chapter that focuses on three influential "bad boys" of the Fifties, he begins with Brando and Elvis.

Marlon Brando and Elvis Presley were only the first of the new rebels from the world of entertainment and art. Soon to come were many others. If there was a common thread, it was that they all projected the image of being misunderstood, more often than not by their parents' generation, if not their own parents themselves. There was little overt political content in their rebellion; their public personae and the characters they played were not fighting against the sinister injustices of the McCarthy era or racial injustice. Only Brando came close to politics when he confronted the mob in On the Waterfront.

According to Halberstam, the third bad boy James Dean was not the caliber of actor that Brando was. 

Dean's life and his art were inseparable. Unlike Brando, who had considerable professional training and considerable range, Dean basically played himself, but brilliantly. Sullen and sulky, he was still worthy of redemption if only the properly tender girlfriend could be found to mother him. Either he got a part right instinctively, (Elia) Kazan believed, or he didn't get it at all. At a certain point the only way to get him to improve his performance was to get him liquored up.

A little further Halberstam makes this observation about Dean's career.

His career was short. There were only three films before he met his death in a car accident. The end came at the height of his fame and in the very same year of his stunning debut in East of Eden. That early death ensured him a place in the pantheon of artists who lived fast and died young. His poster would grace the bedroom walls of future generations of young would-be rebels. Dick Schickel noted the advantages of dying young (Dean) and the disadvantages of not (Brando): "There is much to be said for dying young in circumstances melodramatically appropriate to your public image. There is very little to be said for living long and burying that image in silence. They're like fighters on their way up. It's a life or death struggle for them and they give their utmost to the role. This quality disappears later," he once said. "They become civilized and normal."

In another place Halberstam details the challenge Kazan had to deal with and the games the two men--Kazan and Dean--played before the latter would win his opportunity.

A friend told Kazan about Dean, whom he remembered from the Actors Studio as sullen and not very productive. At their first meeting Kazan, wanting to provoke Dean, deliberately kept him waiting; when he finally arrived, Kazan found Dean slouched down in his seat--rude, disrespectful, and shabbily dressed. The two of them were engaging in a certain kind of theatrical gamesmanship, Kazan decided. They did not talk much. Conversation was not James Dean's strong suit, particularly with someone so powerful in the theater and whose good opinion he so desperately wanted. Dean offered Kazan a ride on his motorbike, and off they went. "He was showing off," Kazan later wrote, "a country boy not impressed with big city traffic."

Fortunately for Dean, his act worked. To Kazan, who bore his own resentments against his father, Dean was Cal Trask. "There was no point in trying to cast it better or nicer. Jimmy was it. He had a grudge against all fathers. He was vengeful; he had a sense of alone-ness and of being persecuted. And he was uncommonly suspicious."

The impression one gets is that James Dean was not really a character actor, he was simply himself. If this were the case, the future he never had would require some maturing and more honing of his craft. He certainly made a splash, but how much of this was due to Kazan's skills handling the churlish Dean? 

Photo credits: All the images on this page were from this book which I picked up at a library sale early this summer. 

Saturday, August 27, 2022

David Blackmon Explains How Our Current Energy Crisis Was Created

This is the beginning of an article titled An Entirely Government-Made Energy Crisis.

Make no mistake about this: The world does not currently face any real shortage of crude oil. There is no real shortage of natural gas. And certainly, there is not remotely any real shortage of coal, for goodness’ sake. By the same token, the uranium required to supply nuclear power to societies in need of zero carbon emission energy all over the world exists in overwhelmingly plentiful reserves.

Yet, there is no question that the world today is in the midst of a serious energy crisis, one that grows increasingly severe by the day. Why is that? The answer is obvious: Government policies designed to restrict the production and distribution of these plentiful energy mineral resources, policies that have emanated most prominently from the governments in the Western world that dominate the discussions held and agreements entered into at the global climate conferences that serve as gathering spots for huge fleets of carbon-spewing private jets and massive yachts in places like Paris and Glasgow each year.

                                                                        --David Blackmon

Read the rest of David Blackmon's article here:

One key takeaway from this article is Blackmon's statement, "We have the wrong class of people making these vitally important energy policy decisions for the rest of us."

This statement brought to mind an observation made by local school board watchdog and writer Loren Martell. Martell has been a thorn in the side of previous school board administrations because of the detailed sleuthing he's done in the past regarding a controversial Red Plan that was pushed through a couple decades ago. The decision to adopt the $100 million-plus Red Plan was voted on by a school board with many members having never made a financial decision bigger than buying a house. Martell was treated like a boy crying wolf for the fun of getting a reaction. His well-founded concerns were dismissed as alarmist and disregarded. 

So it is that any criticism of Green Plans is considered ignorant. What's disturbing is that real science has been co-opted by Machiavellian power politics. Today, "Trust the science" only means, "Trust our interpretation of what the science is saying." I fear that on this and a number of other fronts the worst is yet to come.

Related Links
You can follow David Blackmon at his substack Energy Transition Absurdities

Joe Heffernan on Nuclear Energy
Meredith Angwin's Shorting the Grid
Seven Quotes About Stupity

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Nevada Bob In Nashville Recording His Sixth Album

Nevada Bob Gordon has been in Nashville this week recording his 6th album with Charlie McCoy. Here are some photos, courtesy Gary Firstenberg.

Lyrics to some of the songs Bob is recording this week.
Getting down to business.
Octogenarians Charlie McCoy and Nevada Bob.

Charlie McCoy's harmonica kit, Nevada Bob's memoir.
Nevada Bob and Charlie McCoy talkin' shop.

To purchase 50 Years with the Wrong Woman, ask your favorite
local bookstore to carry it or visit THIS PAGE @

The book is available in both paperback and eBook, 
and will soon be available as an audioBook.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Learn Something New Every Day: Plum Island and the James Webb Telescope

Learn Something New Every Day Dept.

Here are two items that crossed my path this week. The first is about a tiny island three miles long and a mile wide at its widest point. Like Bigfoot mysteries, it's generated its own share of buzz. The second story is as big as our universe... It appears that the James Webb Telescope has put a nail in the coffin of the Big Bang Theory. To me, that is a "Wow" level news story. Here are links.

1. How much do you know about Plum Island
This tiny little island off the coast of Long Island has a long and storied history. It's also a focal point for conspiracy theorists, in large part because of secrecy surrounding some of its activities.

2. Big Bang Theory: R.I.P.
Science is in the business of questioning everything. Honest skepticism is healthy, so it is not surprising that there have been critics of the Big Bang Theory. Now, however, a stream of images has been flowing in from the James Webb Space Telescope with evidence that is most unsettling to scientists who believed the Big Bang Theory was settled. Interesting stories are now emerging as regards the implications of what these new images are tell us. 

Here's one that asks "Does the James Webb Space Telescope Show that the Big Bang Didn't Happen?"
Here's another titled, The Big Bang Theory Debunked

But the one you will want to most explore is the Webb Telescope website itself, with images like you've never seen and explanations of what we're seeing projected.

A star in formation!

Photos courtesy NASA and STScl

Monday, August 22, 2022

The "Orson Welles In Hollywood" Maze

Here's a maze that reflects the career of Orson Welles who once described his passage through Hollywood like this: "I started at the top and ended up at the bottom." His first picture in Hollywood was Citizen Kane in which he wrote, directed and starred in this epic film. By the end of his storied career he was doing television commercials, endorsing products for pay. Alas.

Here are hotlinks to a pair of blog posts I've written about The Third Man, a film in which he famously played a part. When I looked back through my archives just now I noticed that I'd begun several blog posts about other films featuring Welles including Compulsion, Touch of Evil, The Eyes of Orson Welles and F is for Fake

1. A Film Noir Favorite: The Third Man

2. Graham Greene's The Third Man Continues to Satisfy

Here is a link to the Orson Welles Wikipedia page

If you're interested in having your own career mapped out in the form of a maze (with ups, downs, dead ends and expanding horizons) send me an email and I'll see what we can work out.

Keep on keepin' on.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Flashback Friday: Charlie McCoy Talks About His Charmed Career In Nashville

Charlie McCoy
Originally published 21 June 2021

What do "Desolation Row", Blonde On Blonde, John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline and Dylan's Self Portrait have in common? Charlie McCoy helped each of these come to fruition as a session musician in the Sixties. 

What do Elvis Presley, Simon & Garfunkel, Perry Como, Roy Orbison, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Ringo Starr, Tanya Tucker, Nancy Sinatra, Gordon Lightfoot, Manhattan Transfer , Jerry Lee Lewis, Waylon Jennings, Chet Atkins, Ray Stevens and many others have in common? Charlie McCoy played harmonica on one or more of their recordings.   

He's also played bass with Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Bobby Goldsboro, Charlie Rich and others.... and guitar work with many more, not to mention many other instruments with countless others. And most remarkably, he's still working in the music business, now more than 60 years.

In addition to all this session work with other artists, Charlie McCoy has recorded dozens of albums of his own -- 44 or 45 in all -- including his 1972 Grammy winner The Real McCoy. A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, his resume includes an 18 year stint as Music Director for the syndicated TV show "Hee Haw".

* * *

I was introduced to Charlie McCoy by means of Nevada Bob Gordon who last year recorded his album Long Train to Nowhere in Nashville with Charlie as one of the session musicians. When I learned earlier this year that Nevada Bob was returning to Nashville to record a fifth album, I asked if he would again be working with Charlie McCoy. He said yes, so I asked for a favor. 

One of my favorite Bob Dylan books is Daryl Sanders' That Thin Wild Mercury Sound, which I read twice this past year. This book is rich with detail about nearly every aspect of the making of Blonde On Blonde. I would suggest that Sanders' book was the trigger that made me want to reach out to McCoy if he were accessible.

The interview, a mid-day phone conversation, took place on June 14 at 1:00 p.m. McCoy set the time and I privately created a loose agenda. After a brief greeting he set the tone with these opening lines: "I’ve been blessed. I’ve met great people. I still have my health, am still working until the man in the mirror says it’s time."

Nevada Bob @ the Burger Bar
Bristol, Tennessee
Charlie McCoy was born in Oak Hill, West Virginia. "The New River Gorge is there," he said, following up with, "Hank Williams died here." 

(EdNote: Photographer Gary Firstenberg and Nevada Bob have been taking a road trip through country and blues history these past few weeks. This photo of Bob Gordon was taken Thursday at the Burger Bar in Bristol, TN where Hank Williams's driver bought a burger. Hank Williams refused the food but continued popping pain pills in the back seat of his Cadillac. Williams died an hour later at Oak Hill up the road.)

I turned the conversation to Daryl Sanders' book.

“Daryl worked hard on that book,” McCoy said. "When it came to the making of Blonde On Blonde Bob didn’t know what to expect.” With John Wesley Harding Dylan “was more confident and ready. The session times were very efficient. The entire album was cut in nine and a half hours."

We turned our conversation to some of Charlie's career highlights and whom he considered some of the best people to work with. Elvis was mentioned first in conjunction with what he labeled the "Memphis Marathon." 

Charlie McCoy, 2021
"We recorded five albums in one week. Mostly movie soundtracks. Every song was his choice," McCoy said. "Normally he had a regular group that played with him. Unfortunately, the movie company changed the schedule and the regulars were booked on other projects," he explained. "Me, Kenny Buttrey and Pig Robbins got the call. We went in not knowing what to expect."

"What was Elvis like?" I asked.

"When Elvis entered a room, he commanded attention. He had a 'presence'... The first thing he did, he walked to each of the musicians and shook hands. 'Thank you for helping me,' he'd say."

McCoy said that Elvis considered the studio his safe place. Outside on the street he was too harried and harassed by fans.

The conversation shifted to McCoy's life in music. “I’m way overeducated musically for this music. I went to the best music school in Florida," he said. 

His life philosophy could be summed up with these words of wisdom: “Apply what you know to the problem at hand.”

We returned to the work he did with Dylan. I mentioned that I was surprised at how stripped down the John Wesley Harding album was. "Very stripped down," he said. "It took only 9 ½ hours to record that album. Dylan was a lot more laid back."  


McCoy in Normandie, France, 1990.
"Who were the most interesting people whom you worked with?" I asked.

After some thought Charlie replied…. "The Statler Brothers… more goofing off and more great work. Some, like Marie Osmond, never said a word.  Some really didn’t need a producer. Johnny Cash was totally in charge. Paul Simon was another who was totally in charge. When you look back at his career, he was right."

* * *

“A great musician got his break to Nashville.”-- Charlie McCoy on Dylan 

The story of "Desolation Row" begins with Bob Johnston. I’d always believed Bob Dylan came to Nashville because of  Charlie McCoy’s involvement in the making of "Desolation Row." But McCoy deflected any efforts to credit him for Dylan’s choosing to record in Nashville. "Bob Johnston made that happen," he said.

McCoy provided a little background saying Johnston’s career began as a writer, writing songs for Elvis movies. He pitched some songs to Columbia and he was asked “Did you produce these?” Johnston replied yes, having produced “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte” which had been nominated for an Academy Award. Columbia asked him to come to New York. Shortly after his arrival someone said, “Come over to Studio B. I’d like you to meet someone.” It was Bob Dylan.

McCoy only briefly commented on the making of Desolation Row. “Eleven minutes of acoustic guitar. The whole time I kept thinking, 'What would Grady Martin do?'” 

(Martin, for those unfamiliar, was a veteran session guitarist on Nashville’s A-Team who played on hits such as Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and Marty Robbins’ “El Paso.”)

Charlie McCoy (L) with Nevada Bob
I asked McCoy what’s been happening today in Nashville. “There are so many fine studio musicians here now. I don’t care that I’m not working with mainstream artists now. Still having fun. We did a whole album with a fellow in Germany. Another with an artist from the Czech Republic."

He wasn’t afraid to make a few critical remarks about today’s music. “What troubles me is that the Internet allows anything of the poorest quality to get made. I want to hear people with a pulse and talent.”

In a wry curmudgeonly manner he took a poke at rap. “Rap music? I don’t use those two words in the same sentence.”

Another change in Nashville is this. “Construction is out of control. The side effect is traffic.” One reason for this growth, he said, was that there’s no state income tax.

McCoy moved to Nashville in 1960. 61 years later and he’s still at it. When we did this interview he was getting ready to fly to  Provence, France to do session work with the #2 recording artist in France, Eddy Mitchell. 

The catalyst for this blog post: Nevada Bob Gordon (Long Train to Nowhere) is flying to Nashville this weekend to record his sixth album with Charlie McCoy. You can learn more about Nevada Bob here.

Related Links

That Thin Wild Mercury Sound by Daryl Sanders Turns Readers into Blonde On Blonde Insiders

Gary Firstenberg: Nevada Bob Gordon at the Burger Bar and Charlie McCoy with Nevada Bob
Roland Godefroy: Charlie McCoy in Normandie, France. Creative Commons.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Memory Lane: The Greatest Ballplayers of All Time Faced Off in the Dream World Series


When I was in high school in the late 1960s, there was an incredible radio production called the Dream World Series. It was a virtual world series in which the greatest American League and National League all stars faced off in a best of seven competition, re-enacted as if it were really happening.

I listened to every game, which was broadcast complete with crowd noise, the crack of the bats and great announcers calling the game. I kept scorecards, cheered for the American League throughout--I was a Ty Cobb fan, plus there were so many other greats--and never missed an inning.

WHAT I'M BUMMED ABOUT is that I can't find this epic event online. I have done periodic searches, and always come up empty.

I can't recall who won the series, but I do remember it went to seven games. I also remember that Ty Cobb may have been ejected from one of the games for his aggressive manner of playing.

Does anyone out there remember this historic event? If it is online anywhere, can you send me the link? ennyman3 AT   I would love to re-live that memory.

The baseball cards here are from my Hall of Fame collection. For some reason they don't have the value old Topps cards have. If you are a collector I have a number of very interesting items, like the programs from two All Star Games in Cleveland (1954 and 1963). 

Now that we live in the amazing digital age, someone will assemble a Dream World Series that is video. It would be an epic undertaking, but... wow. You can imagine it... "Here's Mariano Rivera coming in to relieve Cy Young as 8-time batting champion Honus Wagner steps up to the plate, runners on first and third. Wagner flexes, digs in and gets set. The windup... and the pitch.... strike one."

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

The Eagle Has Landed: A Movie Review

I'm grateful to have grown up in a home where my parents were readers. It seems like my father was always reading something, and from time to time he'd tell me about an author or book that he thought I' like. 
One of the books my dad suggested was Jack Higgins' The Eagle Has Landed. When I read it, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

No, it's not a book about the Apollo mission to the moon. Rather, it is a novel about an incident that could have occurred during World War II, an attempt to kidnap Winston Churchill. Intense, gripping and vivid, the author masterfully crafts a tale that can leave you sitting at the edge of your seat. I couldn't put it down.

The final payoff is the lingering question: did this really happen? Published in 1975, it became an instant bestseller. By 1976 it had already been translated to film featuring Michael Caine, Robert Duvall and Donald Sutherland in starring roles. As of 2010 the book had sold 50 million copies worldwide, no small feat. 

Having said all that, how could such a great story and star-laden film have been such a dud? 

First, the story. The film's tagline is "In 1943 sixteen German paratroopers landed in England. In three days they nearly won the War." 

With the war not going Hitler's way, a high ranking officer--Heinrich Himmler-- believes that a bold, outrageous action like kidnapping Churchill would give the Nazis a bargaining chip. Another officer is asked to do a feasibility study, which is intended to show how ridiculous the idea is. But, surprise! The Germans have someone planted on the North coast of the British Isles and it just so happens that an intercepted communique reveals that Churchill is actually going to be there for a brief period of time.

The Germans then drew up a plan to bring an elite team that can parachute in at night (it seemed to me that they were brought in by submarine in the book, though I may be mistaken) and move in to the town in British uniforms. 

The problem with the film--not the book--is that some of the acting is sappy. Donald Sutherland is a bit of a goofball, as he can sometimes be, which in this case seems more distraction from the mission rather than amplification of its seriousness. When the fighting breaks out later in the film there are some other absurd antics that also detract from the overall plausibility of the film version of this story. 

EdNote: There was nothing silly or out of character in the novel, so I'm sure Jack Higgins, the author, must have cringed when the film hit cinemas.

In reading the reviews at I was surprised at how many people thought it was a great film. One reviewer called it "pitch perfect novel adaptation." He must have been on crack. The film falls so far short of the novel that it can't help but disappoint anyone who has read the original source. (IMHO)

I like the review titled The Eagle hasn't landed as well as it should. I liked the title of another's review: The Eagle Has Crashed.

It's disappointing when a director takes a great story and plays it in the wrong key. Brian De Palma did that with Bonfire of the Vanities, and John Sturges does that here.

I give the book five stars, the film two.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Six Articles about the CIA's Overthrow of a Democratically Elected President in Guatemala 1954

The 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état, code-named Operation PBSuccess, was a covert operation by the CIA that deposed the democratically elected Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz.  

A Chiquita PR Campaign was Powerful Enough to Topple the Guatemalan Government
Chiquita’s brand image comes across as fun and playful, but the company has some dark history. 

The (Literally) Unbelievable Story of the Original Fake News Network
Once upon a time in Guatemala, the CIA hired a cocky American actor and two radio DJs to launch a revolution and oust a president. Their playbook is being used against the U.S. right now.
[EdNote: This is a Wag the Dog story. Reality is stranger than fiction.*

Blood For Bananas: United Fruit's Central American Empire
A politician named Jacobo Arbenz was elected president in Guatemala, one of the Central American countries occupied by United Fruit. Arbenz was a strict nationalist, and all he wanted was for his people to stop suffering in poverty. One of the most prominent issues in Guatemala, at the time, was scarcity of land. When United Fruit invaded Guatemala, they bought out many of the local farmers to acquire land for their plantations. This did not leave room for the peasants, who relied on farming as the sole source of their income. 

1954 Coup: Destroying Democracy
In 1954, the CIA overthrew the democratically elected government of Guatemala, violently reversing the progressive policies of the civilian governments. This coup was undertaken at the behest of the United Fruit Company, and it ushered in a thirty-six-year civil war that claimed the lives of approximately 200,000 civilians.

Propaganda Revisited 
In 1928 Edward Bernays, in a book titled Propaganda, argued that propaganda was a good thing, a useful tool for the ruling elite because the masses needed to be moved. They were sheep too dumb to know what was best for them without guidance. The government and the media should work together to create an appetite for the right goods, services, leaders.  

CIA and Assassinations: The Guatemala 1954 Documents
In 1997 the CIA de-classified 1400 of the 100,000 documents related to the Guatemala destabilization program.
* * * * *
The proper way to do a mashup like this is to add value through interpreting what it means or making comments regarding these things. What is unfortunate is that the more one learns about our clandestine activities, especially the abuse of power demonstrated in this chronicle of manipulation and subversion, the more challenging it is to trust our nation's leadership. Sadly, Guatemala was not an isolated event.

*This is why a wise man once said "Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see."

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