Monday, January 30, 2012

Dan Rather's "Fib"

Reporter Dan Rather, who was in Dallas, was able to see the Zapruder footage and later narrated the film to CBS national television coverage, claiming that he saw President John F. Kennedy's head "went forward with considerable violence."

Rather failed to mention the actual backward motion made famous in the Oliver Stone movie, JFK.

Rather's omission seemed to confirm that the single shooter theory with just Oswald firing from the rear.

When the Zapruder film initially became became public (in part due to Freddie Prinze's assistance to Geraldo Rivera in securing a copy to screen first), Dan Rather was forced to apologize, saying it was "an honest error."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Blue Balls Fall as Fortean Dies

A long and true friend has died. Lou Farish of Arkansas, whom I corresponded with for years, said to me in the 1960s, "You write very good letters. You should write articles."

So I did.

I directly link that one kind statement from Lou as the spark to my formal writing to share my thoughts, resulting in getting published, via articles, books, blogs, and more.

When letters were the welcome gifts of friendship and exchange that came in my mailbox on a daily basis, I would look forward to the long communiques from Lou, filled with his thoughts, links, news clippings, and insights.

Some people may call Lou Farish a ufologist. But when I recall Lou, I think of fish rains, frog falls, and all types of Forteana.  He would share the best tidbits with me in the 1960s-1970s. I shall always remember Lou as a Fortean, an archivist, a correspondent, and a good friend. Lou was interested in historical cases, and made a speciality of researching the 1890s airship cases. He took over the UFO Newsclipping Service, which also carried Forteana and Cryptozoology articles, from Rod Dyke, keeping in touch with his friends for years via that invaluable resource.

With the separate deaths last July 2011 of archivists Hilary Evans and Bill Corliss, then Bob Girard of Arcturus Books dying in August 2011, it does feel like Lou Farish's departuare signals another great passing of an incredible generations of old guard researchers who all were basically historical Forteana collectors.

The reports of Lou's death coming via that new instant communication tool, emails, informed me of the specific details of his passing.

My old co-author friend, Jerry Clark, like me, was an early 1960s' correspondent of Lou's. Jerry wrote about Lou: "We shared many interests, including pre-1947 ufology and Forteana. Some of the first 1897 clips I ever saw came from him, culled from newspapers in his native Arkansas. He was a wonderfully courteous, soft-spoken, friendly individual -- really, a gentleman of the old school. He was always a presence in my life and in the larger world of ufology. I was quite fond of him, and his passing, though not unexpected, saddens me."

Lou Farish had been suffering with cancer for some months, and was placed in hospice care last September 2011. He passed away on Thursday, January 26, 2012, at 4:55 pm, surrounded by friends, wrote another friend of Lou's, Jerry Blackburn. Blackburn, in his remembrance of Lou, shared this: "Since Lou did not have a wife, children or siblings, he left his estate, including 80 acres of land, to a trust to be used to encourage UFO research and education through awards, fellowships and mini-grants over the next several years."

Perhaps it is only a coincidence, but on Thursday afternoon, in Dorset, United Kingdom, a fall of mysterious small blue spheres from the sky occurred. About a dozen of the 3 cm round balls showered into Steve Hornsby's garden. (Thanks to Greg Taylor's Daily Grail Twitter feed, yet another form of communication hardly imagined in the 1960s, I was alerted to this strange Fortean fall happening so temporally close, a few hours, before Farish's death.)

Lou's memorial service will be held on Saturday, February 4th, at the Harris Funeral Home, 118 S. Moose Street, Morrilton, Arkansas. Harris Funeral Home published this official obituary:
Lucius O. Farish, age 74, of Plumerville, died January 26, 2012 at the River Chase Rehabilitation and Care Center in Morrilton, AR. He was born April 27, 1937 in Plumerville, AR, and was preceded in death by his parents, Claude D. Farish and Ruby Harris Farish Hubbard. Lou was known and respected for his intelligence and integrity by friends in Arkansas and around the world. He retired from both the U. S. Postal Service and the Arkansas National Guard with twenty years of service. He was an avid reader, and early in life developed a curiosity about UFOs and other unexplained phenomena. For almost twenty years, he edited the UFO Newsclipping Service, a monthly compilation of the best newspaper articles about UFOs from around the world. Also for twenty years he directed the Ozark UFO Conference, held each April in Eureka Springs, AR, drawing several hundred attendees annually to hear leading UFO researchers from the United States and other countries. A memorial service will be held at the Harris Funeral Home in Morrilton at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 4, with Rev. Don Erwin officiating. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, P. O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123, or to the charity of one's choice.

Lou Farish, left, in November 2011, in hospice care, being visited by his good friend Jerry Blackburn. Photo: Jerry Blackburn. Used with permission.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Interestingly, the new series Touch (from Heroes creator Tim Kring) screened their pilot on January 25, 2012. It happened to be the same day that Boing Boing, coincidentally, also decided to publish my essay, "23 + 5: Robert Anton Wilson Again."

As I wrote, "The 23s, 33s, and yes, 11s, heighten our awareness of the twilight language surrounding us."

Touch goes there too.

Touch is an American procedural and science fiction television series written and created by Tim Kring and starring Kiefer Sutherland. Fox officially picked up the series for a 13-episode season in September 2011. The series premiere is scheduled for Monday, March 19, 2012, Kiefer Sutherland's old 24 spot, with a preview on January 25, 2012.
Here are the characters, and their plot lines, thusfar:
Kiefer Sutherland as Martin Bohm – a former journalist and luggage handler whose wife was killed in the September 11 attacks.
David Mazouz as Jacob "Jake" Bohm – a mute boy who is obsessed with numbers and can predict future events. Mazouz will also serve as the narrator of the series.
Danny Glover as Professor Arthur DeWitt – an expert on children who possess special gifts when it comes to numbers.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Clea Hopkins – a social worker who is sent to do an evaluation of the Bohms’ living situation.
Roxana Brusso as Sheri – a former biker and the director of the facility that Jake attends.
Karen David as Kayla Graham – a woman who works at a call center and whose dream is to become a singer.

Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland), is a widower and single father who is haunted by an inability to connect to his emotionally challenged 11-year-old son Jake (David Mazouz). But when Martin discovers that Jake can predict events before they happen, everything changes.

Will it be worth watching to see how the notion that "connecting the dots" can have favorable outcomes? The challenge is, can a form of narrative visual fiction about numbers and the twilight language be created for television, similar to the movies Knowing and The Number 23, without episodes ending in constant disasters? That is, something with a bit more humanity beyond Numb3rs.

"What Touch is trying to sell viewers, in the words of Kring, is 'social benefit storytelling.' Now, that’s different. What he means is that Touch will mostly (but not always) be infused with hope — that the interconnectivity of people in the universe can be used for good, that it can produce positive results (as the pilot clearly proves through a series of international, interconnected storylines set off by Jake’s numbers)," wrote Tim Goodman in The Hollywood Reporter.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Giglio: Costa Concordia-Titanic Link

Off the Island of Giglio, on Friday, January 13, 2012, the cruise liner Costa Concordia ran aground just off the shore. Most of the more than 4,200 passengers and crew were rescued and taken to the island, as well as to the mainland. At least 11 people died and 64 were injured, with 22 or more still missing.

In this blog's previous posting, several links were noted between the Costa Concordia's sinking of 2012, and the Titanic sinking of 1912.

A new item discovered links to the name Giglio and deserves to be unfolded in this examination here.
Isola del Giglio or Giglio Island is an island and Italian comune situated in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the coast of Tuscany, part of the Province of Grosseto. The island is one of seven that form the Tuscan Archipelago. Giglio means "lily" in Italian, and though the name would appear consistent with the insignia of Medici Florence, it derives from Aegilium, "Goat Island," a Latin transliteration of the Greek word for "little goat" (Aigýllion).
The name Giglio has a direct and significance connection to the Titanic, which is visibly and historically right in front of our eyes, literally, as played out in the reality and fictionalized versions of that disaster.

In chronicles of the 1912 tragedy, it is generally agreed that the most famous victim of the sinking of the Titanic was Benjamin Guggenheim (1865-1912). Benjamin Guggenheim, who lived in New York City and kept an apartment in Paris, was the fifth of seven sons of the wealthy mining magnate Meyer Guggenheim (1828–1905) and Barbara Myers (1834–1900). 

Today, the name "Guggenheim" is well-known due to the art museum named after Benjamin's brother, Solomon R. Guggenheim (1861-1949), and the art collection donated to it by Benjamin's daughter, Marguerite "Peggy" Guggenheim (1898–1979). The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, founded in New York City, was designed by Frank Lloyd WrightThe building has become a cultural icon and can be seen widely throughout popular culture. It is featured in Matthew Barney's The Cremaster CycleBye Bye BirdieMen in BlackWhen in RomeDowntown 81Ugly Betty and prominently in The International, where a major shootout occurs in the museum. In fact, a life-size replica of the museum was built for The International's scene.
Benjamin Guggenheim's valet was named Victor Giglio (1888-1912), and therein the name game linking the Titanic and the Costa Concordia comes clearly into focus.

Guggenheim (pictured) boarded the RMS Titanic and was accompanied by his mistress, a French singer named Madame Léontine Aubart (1887–1964); his valet, Giglio; his chauffeur, René Pernot (1872–1912); and Madame Aubart's maid, Emma Sägesser (1887–1964). His ticket was number 17593 and cost £79 4s (other sources give the price as £56 18s 7d). He and Giglio occupied stateroom cabin B82 while Aubart and Sägesser occupied cabin B35. Pernot occupied an unknown cabin in second class.

Madame Aubart

Guggenheim and Giglio slept through the Titanic's encounter with the iceberg only to be awakened just after midnight ship's time by Aubart and Sägesser, who had felt the collision.

Sägesser later quoted Giglio as saying, "Never mind, icebergs! What is an iceberg?"

Guggenheim was persuaded to awaken and dress; Bedroom Steward Henry Samuel Etches helped him on with a lifebelt and a heavy sweater before sending him, Giglio, and the two ladies up to the Boat Deck.

As Aubart and Sägesser reluctantly entered Lifeboat No. 9, Guggenheim spoke to the maid in German, saying, "We will soon see each other again! It's just a repair. Tomorrow the Titanic will go on again."

Realizing that the situation was much more serious than he had implied, as well as realizing he was not going to be rescued, he then returned to his cabin with Giglio and the two men changed into evening wear. The two were seen heading into the Grand staircase closing the door behind them. He was heard to remark, "We've dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen."

He also gave a survivor a message saying, "Tell my wife, if it should happen that my secretary and I both go down, tell her I played the game out straight to the end. No woman shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward." 
Titanic's actual Grand Staircase, above.
Guggenheim and Giglio were last seen seated in deck chairs in the Staircase sipping brandy and smoking cigars. Both men went down with the ship. Their bodies, if recovered, were never identified. Guggenheim's chauffeur, René Pernot, was also lost in the disaster.
Chris Cragnotti's role of Victor Giglio in Titanic was uncredited. 
The actor Michael Ensign plays Guggenheim and Chris Cragnotti plays Giglio in 1997's Titanic; they are shown drinking brandies, seated in chairs on the Grand Staircase as the flooding consumes the ship. Guggenheim and often Giglio are depicted in films about the Titanic in grand style, going down with the ship. 
What do we know about the real-life Giglio? The notes on victim Victor Giglio at the Encyclopedia Titanica give the known summary:
Mr Victor Gaeton A. Giglio was born in Toxteth Park, Liverpool, England in 1888/89. He was probably of Italian extraction. Giglio was valet to Mr Benjamin Guggenheim they embarked the Titanic at Cherbourg (ticket number17593). Mr Guggenheim and Mr Giglio occupied cabin B-84. Mr Guggenheim's French chauffeur Mr Rene Pernot travelled second class. Shortly before the Titanic went down Giglio returned to his room and changed into his finest evening wear, his master, Mr Guggenheim did likewise. Mr Giglio, Mr Pernot and Mr Guggenheim were all lost in the sinking.
The Guggenheim family believed he was an Egyptian.
The assistant steward in the first cabin of the Titanic, James Etches, directly recounted to the Guggenheim family Benjamin Guggenheim's and Victor Giglio's last moment (see here). Etches thought Giglio was Armenian.

Giglio? Was he Italian, Egyptian, Armenian? The origins of the name, nevertheless, appear to be Italian.

Should we be surprised the Costa Concordia shipwrecked at Giglio Island?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Titanic Tragedy: Costa Concordia

The ship that sank 100 years ago, on April 15th, was named RMS Titanic. But it had several nicknames: The Unsinkable Ship, The Last Word in Luxury, The Millionaire’s Special, The Wonder Ship, and The Ship of Dreams. It is doubtful we will see any ships with those kinds of nicknames ever again.

In the next few months, I thought, various essays would begin to appear about the Titanic.

Therefore, it was a surprise to receive a "breaking news" email from a friend about the events of last Friday the 13th, hinting at a new Titanic mess.

Brad Steiger is a well-known author of Fortean and related books. I wrote a "Foreword" to his reprinted edition of Strange Guests (NY: Anomalist Books, 2006), and recently have assisted with a bit of data in his and his wife Sherry's forthcoming updated edition of Conspiracies and Secret Societies.
I had been too busy to watch most of the news last week. But then something in the background was alerting me to be aware. News was beginning to tell of a cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, having hit rocks Friday night just off Italy's western coast. As I was just beginning to hear about the wreck, my buddy Brad sent this along: "Our daughter Kari's husband, Daniele, is a ranking officer in the carabineri, the Italian military police. For the last several years he has commanded a patrol boat. In the note [below] from Kari, who teaches English in Italy, she points out that the patrol boat in this news photo of the capsized cruise happens to be Daniele's."
6:50pm Jan 14
Last night at about 11:15, Daniele was awakened for an emergency. A cruise ship was in distress near the the Island of Giglio, about 2 hours from here. He was sleeping as they were scheduled for a normal night shift starting at 3am. They had no information, so I was was online and getting info off news reports before they arrived on scene. As you can see, the ship is totally on its side. The little boat happens to be Daniele's. They were finally relieved late this afternoon, so they could eat and sleep. Almost everyone is accounted for, but a couple hours ago, two more people were found on board the ship, still alive.
I began looking at photos being sent from the site of the wreck, and quickly saw this one (below), also apparently showing Steiger's son-in-law's boat.

It was one of those "small world" moments that drew me into this story more deeply. After all, this was not your ordinary story, as passengers were beginning to describe a chaotic and surreal scene as they rushed to evacuate the Costa Concordia (= "Coast Concord"). And now I was getting word that the degrees of separation from this awful scene were hardly a world away.

I was immediately reminded of how shocked I also once was to discover that another Fortean friend, author (of over 100 books) and correspondent Daniel Cohen was tragically tied to the Lockerbie tragedy. His daughter Theodora was a passenger on Pan Am Flight 103, and Daniel and his wife Susan would become major spoke people on behalf of the families of the 270 victims of that Lockerbie terrorism attack.

Irony? Coincidence? Fortean? "A passenger has revealed that the Celine Dion song 'My Heart Will Go On,' made famous by the 1997 film Titanic, was playing in one of the ill-fated cruise ship's restaurants at the very moment the [Costa Concordia's] hull was ripped open," wrote the Huffington Post. (The ear witnesses were said to be two Swiss brothers, Yannic and Keven Sgaga.)

Andrew W. Griffin has covered much of the comparative ground between the Titanic and the Costa Concordia at his insightful blog posting, "A night to remember in a year we'll never forget."

His comparison photos are worthy of reproducing to entice you to go read what he has to say:
An image of the Costa Concordia starting to sink off the Italian island of Giglio. 
Red Dirt Report/Gawker.

A rendering of the Titanic [the movie version?] as it sinks bow-first into the 
North Atlantic on April 14-15, 1912. Red Dirt Report/Dimensions Guide.

As the weekend went by, other photographs from the wreck of the Costa Concordia appeared that were remarkable to view, especially, as the images naturally reminded many of us of the Titanic.
One of the rocks in the hull.
A longer view of the damaged area.
The location of the disaster.
The stories of panic and less-than-organized efforts from the crew to rescue the passengers have been reinforced with images from cellphones.
The local police and coast guards were the heroes of the day. Meanwhile, the ship's captain allegedly left the ship before all were accounted for.
Some tales were truly scary.
Several passengers recounted how they had been watching a magic show when the ship ran aground, and the magician ran offstage leaving his assistant in a box. Finally, after some frantic moments, she was able to get someone to undo a latch releasing her. Rosalyn Rincon (shown above), from Blackpool, was trapped in the magic box as the Costa Concordia began to sink.
Crew, such as this young woman, were in other parts of the ship, when it went aground. Dancer Rose Metcalf, 22, was one of the last people to leave the Costa Concordia.

Captain Francesco Schettino is under arrest and may face charges that include manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning a ship when passengers were still on board, chief prosecutor Francesco Verusio said. Abandoning ship has a sentence of 12 years in prison for a full conviction in Italy.

Costa is a subsidiary of the American-Israeli company, Carnival Corporation & plc. Its Israeli-born chief executive, Micky Arison, said on Twitter that his thoughts and prayers were with the passengers and crew.

Reports are still giving confusing totals, in terms of the dead and the missing. As of Wednesday, January 18, 2012, the death toll is reported to be at 11, and the number of missing is said to be 22 or 24 or 28, in various accounts. The bodies of five adult passengers — four men and one woman, all wearing lifejackets — were discovered in the wreckage Tuesday, raising the death toll to 11. Italian authorities on Wednesday identified the 24 passengers and four crew still missing, a number that includes the six bodies found since Monday. None of the dead have been identified. The missing included 13 Germans, six Italians, four French, two Americans and one person each from Hungary, India and Peru.
Another Titanic "coincidence" was mentioned in the London Telegraph's article on January 18, 2012:

News about the Titanic theme tune followed the revelation on Tuesday that an Italian grand daughter of a Titanic survivor was on board the Costa Concordia when it capsized.
"It was like reliving history, it was horrible, I was really shocked," said Valentina Capuano, 30, who managed to escape when the giant vessel foundered.
"I am still shaken up and get very upset when I think about what I've been through, I have heart palpitations," said Miss Capuana, who escaped the sinking vessel along with her fiancé, her brother and his girlfriend.
Her grandmother also survived the Titanic disaster but lost her brother....
The Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in 1912.
Valentina Capuano
Capuana's grandmother's brother Giovanni, who had been working as a waiter on the Titanic and hoped to begin a new life in America, was one of the 1,517 people who died in the disaster. In the official list of victims of the sinking of the Titanic, there is a Sig. Giovanni Basilico, 27, waiter, who died, but his body was never recovered. Valentina Capuano mentioned her grandmother's name was Maria. (No "Maria Capuano" or "Maria Basilico" or anyone with the first name "Maria" born in Italy is to be found in the list of survivors. She must have used a different name.)

The first victim of the wreck of the Costa Concordia has been identified as violinist Sándor Fehér, 38, who was among 11 people confirmed dead from the ship that carried 4,200 passengers.

Sándor Fehér
Fehér had helped a number of crying children to put on lifejackets, and he was wearing a lifejacket himself when he apparently went back to his cabin to pack his violin, pianist Jozsef Balog said, according to Laurie Niles at Niles also noted that Fehér came from a musical family -- both his father and grandfather played the violin -- and started playing the violin when he was six years old. He graduated in 1998 from the Franz Lizst Academy in Budapest, where he studied with László Dénes.

In reality in 1912 and as shown in the James Cameron film Titanic, as the great ship sank 100 years ago, the musicians played "Autumn" and died. They were honored for their courage with large funerals (some numbering 40,000 attendees) and memorials.
The difference in death tolls between the two ships is great and this need not be overlooked.  The Titanic’s death toll was 1,517. The Costa Concordia’s death toll, at the time of this writing, is eleven. Relative percentage of Deaths: Titanic 68 percent vs. Costa Concordia .25%, one-quarter of 1 percent.

The Costa Concordia was actually bigger than the TitanicThe Titanic was 882 feet and 8 inches long (268 meters) and had a tonnage of 46,000. The Costa Concordia was larger, with a tonnage of 114,500 and a length of 951 feet and 5 inches (290 m). The width of the Titanic was 92.5 feet (28 m), compared with 118 feet (36 m) for the Costa Concordia.