Monday, August 29, 2016

Phantom Clowns in Greenville: Four Sightings

This is a sketch of one of the Phantom Clowns of Greenville by artist Andy Finkle. As fate would have it, Finkle lives a mere 15 minutes from the location of the eyewitness accounts. Spooky gets spookier when it is close to home! (Art courtesy of Andy Finkle ©2016.)


In 1981, I coined the phrase "Phantom Clowns" to describe the brightly colored costumed individuals, seemingly escapees from a circus, wearing exaggerated makeup and driving vans, who attempted to kidnap children. I first devoted an article about Phantom Clowns in Fate Magazine, during the early 1980s, and then expanded my thoughts on these reports in 1983's first edition of Mysterious America.

The 1983 edition of Mysterious America was published by Faber & Faber.

In that book, I detail the United States of America's wave of shadowy 1981 sightings of clowns in vans who appeared to have tried to kidnap children, from Boston to Kansas City. It was years after I wrote about Phantom Clowns that Stephen King's IT was published, putting to rest that King's novel inspired the original Phantom Clown accounts.

The chicken and the egg. King's Pennywise in IT came after I coined 
the phrase "Phantom Clowns" based on the 1981 wave.

The encounters began in May of 1981, in Boston, Brookline, and other Massachusetts communities. By the end of the month, the local newspapers in Kansas City were publishing warnings about "Killer Clowns," said to be after children at bus stops there.

I coined the term "Phantom Clowns" to describe them because they were (are) seen but never caught.

Sightings would come and go, and Phantom Clown encounters would continue. There has been a long history of Phantom Clown sightings since then, but 2008 seems significant because it was period of presidential campaigning.

In 2008 reports coming from Chicago were tied to a Wicker Park, which has a symbolic name linked to New York City's Son of Sam killings of 1976-1977. In letters to the media, the "Son of Sam" serial killer signed himself as "The Wicked King Wicker" and allegedly shoot a Wicker Street German shepherd.

In the October 2008 Illinois incidents, a man wearing clown make-up and a wig was using balloons in an attempt to lure children into his vehicle on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. Police issued an alert about a week after a man with a similar description was spotted on the West Side. No one was every apprehended.

During the election year of 2012, the clown phenomenon revealed itself via the Joker copycats. On July 20, 2012, the Dark Knight Shooting: 12 Dead, 58 Injured occurred. It happened in Colorado, at Aurora, forever broadcasting "Red Dawn" into our awareness. Theater goer killer James Holmes had a Bane mouth mask that covered a Joker facial makeup underneath.
Even a James Holmes/Aurora Joker mask was marketed for Halloween 2012, briefly. It was seen to be in bad taste, but in many ways, it was a clown mask.

Fast forward to 2016, and here we are in another presidential election year.  The times have not been lost on a bit of online humor appearing in this year.

And now new Phantom Clown reports are in evidence.

But it wasn't a Phantom Clown (yet) that started appearing in Green Bay, Wisconsin, early in August. A mysterious clown that seemingly came out of someone’s warped sense of humor was spotted in Green Bay, according to photographs making the rounds of the social media. A Facebook page called “Gags – The Green Bay Clown” claimed the first sighting happened August 1, 2016, at 2:00 a.m. (h/t New Day).

More recently the media headlines out of South Carolina tell of "clowns trying to lure kids into the woods."

The actual woods, allegedly, according to CNN.

“There [have] been several [conversations] and a lot of complaints to the office regarding a clown or a person dressed in clown clothing talking to children or trying to lure children into the woods,” read a letter sent by the property management company which owns the Fleetwood Manor apartments in Greenville, South Carolina.

News reports have been specific about the details of the encounters. Greenville County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Master Deputy Drew Pinciaro told BuzzFeed News that deputies received a call complaining about clowns being spotted in the woods behind the apartments on August 20, 2016. The caller did not want to leave their name, he said.
But one woman did file a report with the sheriff’s office on Aug. 21 [2016], explaining that two days earlier her son told her he had “seen clowns in the woods whispering and making strange noises,” read an incident report sent to BuzzFeed News with the woman’s name redacted.
The woman then went to investigate herself and “observed several clowns in the woods flashing green laser lights [who] then ran away into the woods.”
Donna and James Arnold, residents of Fleetwood Manor said it was their two sons, aged 10 and 13, who were involved. The kids said, "Mama, there’s clowns out there in the woods and they’re trying to get us to come out there. Some had chains, some had knives, and some were holding out money, saying, ‘Come here, we’ve got candy for you.'"

But the parents report their sons wouldn’t go.

"I thought my child was seeing things," resident Donna Arnold told CNN affiliate WHNS. "And then the next day I had about 30 kids come up to me and say, 'Did you see the clown in the woods?'"

This story is far from over.


Right I was. 

Monday night, August 29, 2016, deputies in South Carolina increased patrols after getting new reports of people dressed as clowns trying to lure children into the woods.

At 8:20 pm on August 29th, a family from Emerald Commons apartments, living about 20 minutes from the first site of the initial reports, said a child saw a man wearing a clown mask in woods near the complex. Deputies said there was a third report of someone dressed as a clown about 10:00 p.m. at Shemwood Apartments. A 12-year-old told deputies that two clowns were in the backyard area, according to the Associated Press.


Greenville Police received a call from a concerned parent at 3:40 p.m. Wednesday, August 31, 2016, about another clown sighting. Source.

The caller said their daughter was walking home from Hughes Academy when she saw a clown in the woods.

They said it happened between Pleasant Valley and Hughes Middle School.

Police said they searched the area and didn’t find anything. They say they are stepping up patrols.

This is the fourth sighting.

Many, many people contacted me with news of this newest Phantom Clown story. Thanks especially to Andy Finkle, Robin Swope, SJ Riedhead, Enki King, Burt Gummerfan, Ben Redford, Charles Crowley (h/t on reminding about Wicker Park), and everyone I forgot.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Fayette Factor: New Mystery Felid Sightings

The Fayette Factor is alive and well on the cryptozoological front. The Summer of 2016 in the USA has experienced an intriguing run of Giant Snake reports (Wessie in Maine), animal attacks, and more.

La Fayette, Walker County, Georgia, of course, receives its name from the Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834) and inherits all the "little enchantments" due it from that moniker.

This summer a series of mystery cat encounters have visited themselves upon La Fayette, Georgia. Above is the North LaFayette Elementary School, where the felid was seen.

[Small town, small county newspapers tend to not archive their content. Therefore, large parts of the sighting data is archived here for research purposes.]

The July 2016 article places this newest Georgia cryptid sighting in La Fayette.
Wildlife official investigating possible mountain lion sightings in LaFayette
Posted on Jul 27, 2016
by Josh O'Bryant
A LaFayette school teacher on Tuesday [July 26, 2016] told police he saw two large mountain lions off the city’s four-lane bypass.
According to police reports, high school teacher Cody Lee said he spotted the mountain lions near the intersection of Warthen Street, Round Pond Road and the bypass (U.S. Highway 27 Business) about 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26.
Lee said he was stopped at the red light on Round Pond Road when he saw them emerge from the woods and cross Warthen Street to another patch of woods from Oak Park subdivision toward North LaFayette Elementary. At this point, he said, he recognized they were mountain lions because they had long thick tails that arched upward. He said the animals then crossed Warthen and reentered the woods, heading north.
Lee posted about it on his Facebook page...Police searched the area and plan to place trail cameras in the area.
Since the news broke about a mountain lion sighting in the Dogwood Circle subdivision, several residents have contacted the Messenger reporting seeing mountain lions recently and in the past.
Lee said he was taking food to his mother when the incident occurred.
Lee said he called animal control, which took the call very seriously.
He said the situation was frightening as the two animals were heading toward the playground where his daughter goes to school.
The sighting lasted 3-4 seconds, he said.
“They were moving pretty good, right into the woods,” he said.
Lee said he initially thought the animals were deer, then maybe two dogs, but they were rather large with long thick tails.
Lee said it happened so fast, he did not have time to reach for his phone to take a picture and he probably would not have thought to call animal control about the situation if he had not been seeing he reports of mountain lions in the area.

Josh O'Bryant ran an update recently, on August 5, 2016..

A state wildlife official is continuing the investigation into possible mountain lion sightings in LaFayette.
Josh Aldridge, a wildlife technician with the Department of Natural Resources, met with North LaFayette Elementary School principal Sandra Morrison early Thursday morning, Aug. 4, at the school.
Early Wednesday morning, Aug. 4, [2016] Morrison reported seeing a wild animal she believed to be a mountain lion walking in front of the school, in the vehicle lane where students are dropped off and picked up.
Morrison told police the animal was a yellowish-tan color and bigger than a house cat, but smaller than a German shepherd and described the tail of the animal to be as long as her forearm.
Aldridge said he investigated the area Thursday morning, but the ground was too dry to find any evidence of a paw print.
“We are trying to stay on top of this,” Aldridge said. “We are working on trying to figure this out. We would love to give a definitive answer, but cannot at this time.”
Aldridge said he believes Morrison did in fact see something, but isn’t convinced it was a mountain lion based on the description she gave.
There was no surveillance footage available, as the cameras at the school were not fixed on the car lane where Morrison spotted the animal.
Aldridge said this could be a case of mistaken identity, as these sightings occur throughout the United States. But that doesn’t mean DNR isn’t taking the matter seriously, he said.
Aldridge also investigated the area where LaFayette High School teacher Cody Lee said he spotted two mountain lions at Warthen Street in LaFayette .
Lee said he spotted the mountain lions near the intersection of Warthen Street, Round Pond Road and the bypass (U.S. Highway 27 Business) about 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26.
Aldridge said he was unable to find any solid paw prints around the area of Lee’s sighting as well due to the dry conditions of the ground.
Aldridge said DNR has received various trail camera pictures of what people feel might be the elusive animal, but none of the photographs are tangible enough evidence to determine if it is in fact a mountain lion rather than a large cat or a bobcat.
Morrison told Aldridge she is using this incident to educate the students at North LaFayette Elementary on wildlife and how to approach wildlife in general, including domesticated animals as well.
Aldridge does not discount what Morrison or Lee witnessed, but isn’t 100 percent certain on what the two educators saw.
DNR regional supervisor and game manager Chuck Waters said DNR is taking the matter seriously and working with local law enforcement, especially LaFayette police Capt. Stacey Meeks, on any and all reported sightings.
Waters said DNR is in regular contact with Meeks, who is keeping DNR informed of each sighting reported to law enforcement.
Later on Thursday, August 6, 2016, the animal was spotted again, out a window of the same school. A teacher says she and at least one student saw a big cat on the school grounds Thursday, heading down Indiana Street.
Thanks to Paul Cropper of Australia for alerting us to this bit of name-creature news. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Smiley Face: Bosnia

Seen in Portland, Maine. August 19, 2016. Man on the street, from Bosnia, with Smiley shirt on.

Photography by Loren Coleman.

Tom Mellett adds:

Your focus on the Smiley Face deserves a look at the history of its creation.

Harvey Ross Ball (July 10, 1921 – April 12, 2001) was an American commercial artist. He is recognized as the earliest known designer of the smiley, which became an enduring and notable international icon.

After World War II, Ball worked for a local advertising firm until he started his own business, Harvey Ball Advertising, in 1959. He designed the smiley in 1963.
[ . . . ]
The State Mutual Life Assurance Company of Worcester, Massachusetts (now known as Hanover Insurance) had purchased Guarantee Mutual Company of Ohio. The merger resulted in low employee morale. In an attempt to solve this, Ball was employed in 1963 as a freelance artist, to come up with an image to increase morale. What he created was a smiley face, with one eye bigger than the other. In less than ten minutes, Harvey Ball came up with the simple yet world-changing smiley face. The simplicity of the image brought smiles to the faces of the executives, who paid him $45 for his creation.

The use of the smiley face became part of the company's friendship campaign whereby State Mutual handed out 100 smiley pins to employees. The aim was to get employees to smile while using the phone and doing other tasks. The buttons became popular, with orders being taken in lots of 10,000. More than 50 million smiley face buttons had been sold by 1971, and the smiley has been described as an international icon.

Ball never applied for a trademark or copyright of the smiley and earned just $45 for his work (US $315 in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars). State Mutual, similarly, did not make any money from the design. Ball's son, Charles, is reported to have said his father never regretted not registering the copyright. Telegram & Gazette reported Charles Ball as saying "he was not a money-driven guy, he used to say, 'Hey, I can only eat one steak at a time, drive one car at a time.'"


I should note the connection with the Watchmen face

On July 18, 1998, around the 35th anniversary of the design's inception, Ball appeared at That's Entertainment to meet fans and sign smiley pins and art. At this appearance Ball was shown copies of the graphic novel Watchmen issue #1, which featured a notorious image of a smiley face with a splatter of blood across it. Store Manager Ken Carson was quoted as saying Ball seemed amused to see it on the cover.

For more, see here.

And here.

As well as here and here.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Adam Walsh Effect: 2016

The summer of 2016 must cause us to revisit the Adam Walsh Effect. 

Adam Walsh

Who was Adam Walsh? He was the son of John Walsh, best known for his successful series, America's Most Wanted (Fox, 1988-2012) and currently Hunted with John Walsh (CNN, 2014-Present). John Walsh was propelled into crime-fighting after the murder and beheading of Adam Walsh.

Adam John Walsh (November 14, 1974 – July 27, 1981) was a six-year-old American boy who was abducted from a Sears department store at the Hollywood Mall in Hollywood, Florida, on July 27, 1981. His severed head was found a little over two weeks later, on August 10, 1981, in a drainage canal off of the Florida Turnpike.

During the 16 days he was missing, Adam Walsh's photograph, especially one of him as a tiny baseball player, was all over the media.

It became a memorable image, haunting parents for years to come.

Indeed, many point to the Adam Walsh beheading and chilling nature of the post-traumatic stress caused in repeated viewings of the photograph of Adam as leading directly into the era of the helicopter parents.

One mother, who identifies herself as "Marianne" wrote about the "Adam Walsh Effect" in 2013, as she struggled with letting her three sons get their pictures taken with their Little League teams:
As someone who grew up in the wake of the 1981 kidnapping and murder of little Adam, the image of the sweet little boy smiling from beneath his too-big baseball hat has haunted me for 30 years. This baseball picture was widely circulated throughout the media at the time of the kidnapping, and for many mothers, it served as a reminder to hold tightly to their kids and trust nobody.
As a mother now, I have forced myself to shake off some of my Adam Walsh fears. I realized that I needed to allow my boys to use public restrooms without screaming "EVERYTHING OKAY IN THERE?" every 10 seconds. I needed to learn to let them cross the street without my all-clear. I needed to fight the urge to homeschool them whenever I read a story of a shooting or child predator.
I started relying on statistical data and odds relative to stranger abductions in this quest. For the first time ever, I have consciously suppressed my helicopter tendencies. Most days, it is physically painful, but I am determined to ease up or I know my children will end up fleeing to Alaska to escape me.
I must say, though, this thing would be a whole lot easier if our last name wasn't Walsh. Source.
[As an onomatological aside, Walsh is a common Irish surname, meaning "Briton" or "foreigner," literally "Welshman," taken to Ireland by British (Welsh, Cornish and Cumbrian) soldiers during and after the Norman invasion of Ireland.]

During the summer of 2016, the Adam Walsh Effect - down to the similar photos and decapitations - are part of the news of some days.

After I posted this blog essay, I became aware that Time Magazine just published an article, "The U.S. Is Still Dealing With the Murder of Adam Walsh" on the 35th anniversary of the discovery of Adam's head, August 10, 2016. (August 10th popped up again this year as a focus date; see below.)

The Time article noted:
“[The Adam Walsh case] created a nation of petrified kids and paranoid parents,” says Richard Moran, criminologist at Mount Holyoke College. “Kids used to be able to go out and organize a stickball game, and now all playdates and the social lives of children are arranged and controlled by the parents.”
Even despite the decline in actual abductions, Moran says, “the fear still lingers today.”

Lane Graves

You know the story of little Lane Graves and the Disney alligator(s), from a previous posting here. His picture was one of the first kids this summer you may have seen a great deal of, via the media.

Some of the Lane Graves images had a Adam Walsh reflective aura.

An alligator snatched the 2-year-old boy and dragged him under water in the Seven Seas Lagoon on the evening of June 14, 2016, between 9 and 9:15 p.m. at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Bay Lake, Florida. His father Matt desperately tried to rescue him, but was reportedly attacked by a second alligator and forced to flee. His mother, Melissa witnessed the attack as well and tried to save him too. Lane's four-year-old sister was standing there as well and saw the tragic event take place. The Orange County Sheriff's office and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission conducted a search and recovery effort to locate the boy's body, which was recovered on June 15, 2016, at approximately 1:45 p.m.

His body, which was intact, was found about 10-15 yards away from the location of the attack. It is believed that he was drowned by the alligator, which was 4-7 feet long. It took authorities about 17 hours to find and recover the body.

Some of the media montages were ill-conceived and in bad taste.

Brodie Copeland

On Bastille Day, July 14, 2016, a truck rammed through a crowd in Nice, France. The first two Americans identified as having died in that attack were a father and son from Lakeway, Texas.

Sean Copeland, 51, and his 11-year-old son Brodie were among the more than 80 people killed when the truck zig-zagged through a screaming crowd for more than a mile along the Promenade des Anglais.

The first picture shown of Brodie was of him in his Little League outfit. 

Caleb Schwab

Then the boy with a bat returned in a big way when on August 7, 2016, Caleb Schwab, the 10-year-old son of Kansas state representative Scott Schwab, died riding when he was thrown from the Verrückt. Schwab was decapitated. He was one of three passengers on a raft with two women, one of whom suffered a broken jaw, and the other a broken bone in her face requiring stitches in her eye. The park was closed for two days following the incident, pending inspection results that took place during the time. The park reopened on August 10 but the ride itself has been shut down indefinitely (at least for the rest of the season), pending further investigation. (Graphic details of Caleb's death were carried by some media.)

The Schwab family lives in Olathe, Kansas. 

Olathe was one of the towns attacked by William "Bloody Bill" Anderson's and William Quantrill's raids in "Bleeding Kansas." Anderson "is known to have personally executed several people during William Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence, Kansas, and his unit’s savage tactics reportedly included cutting off enemies’ ears, decapitation and scalping." Source.

The first published photograph of Caleb Schwab showed him in his Little League outfit, baseball bat in the resting position, a la' Adam Walsh.

In an unfortunate photo montage, a news picture shows Caleb Schwab's headshot floating above the waterslide ride that resulted in decapitating him. Unconsciously, other media outlets did the same thing.

Caleb Schwab was the son of a state representative in Kansas. He was decapitated on a water slide. The name of the slide caught Andrew B's attention: "The Guinness World Records has certified the ride called Verruckt — or German for 'insane' — as the tallest in the world." Source.

Declan McClain

Declan McClain, 3, of Jeanette, Pennsylvania, fell from a 78-year-old wooden roller coaster at Idlewild Park and SoakZone at about 1:00 PM, on Thursday afternoon, August 11, 2016.

The McClain incident was the fourth amusement park accident in five days when a boy apparently fell out of roller coaster in Pennsylvania.
In the other recent accidents around the country, one child has been killed, another suffered a brain injury and at least two others were hospitalized.
Idlewild and SoakZone spokesman Jeff Croushore provided few details regarding the accident, but he said it happened on the Rollo Coaster, an old-style wooden ride, about midway to the finish, CNN-affiliate WTAE reported.

Recent Incidents:

Recent accidents of amusement park rides have been summarized by CNN (with dates added by me to clarify the chronology):

The Pennsylvania amusement ride accident comes after several others across the nation.
A 10-year-old boy died on a water slide at the Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City, Kansas, on Sunday, August 7, 2016.
Two riders were injured when a launch cable detached at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, that same day, August 7, 2016.
Three children fell from a Ferris wheel at a Tennessee county fair on Monday, August 8, 2016, critically injuring two of them.
On Thursday, a 6-year-old girl remained in critical condition with a brain injury and a 16-year-old girl had been upgraded to stable condition.

Other Incidents:

A soldier who lost both legs serving in Iraq fell to his death from a roller coaster in upstate New York in 2011. Sgt. James Hackemer, 29, was riding the Ride of Steel roller coaster at Darien Lake Theme Park Resort when he plummeted about 200 feet to the ground. Hackemer's remains were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. 

A teen was decapitated by the Batman roller coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia in 2008. He was struck by a train after he scaled two fences around the ride to retrieve his lost hat. 

Kaitlyn Lasitter lost both feet when a free-fall thrill ride malfunctioned at the Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom Amusement Park in Louisville in 2007. A cord wrapped around the then-13-year-old's feet and severed them at the ankles on the Superman Tower of Power. 

A group of high-schoolers' pre-graduation outing turned into a nightmare when a water slide collapsed at Waterworld California in 1997. The accident injured at least 30 people and killed a teenage girl. The girl's family settled a lawsuit against Waterworld USA and its parent company Premier Parks Inc. for $1.7 million three years later, according to the Los Angeles Times
James A. Young II, a 45-year-old special-education teacher, lost his cell phone and wallet when riding a roller coaster at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, in 2015. When Young jumped over a fence into the restricted area under the roller coaster to look for his belongings, he was hit and killed by a coaster train. 

In 2013, Rosy Esparza was thrown out of her seat on the Texas Giant roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas and died from multiple injuries. Her family filed a civil wrongful-death lawsuit accusing Six Flags of negligence. The ride was closed for nearly two months and reopened in September 2013 with improved safety measures.

The Adam Walsh Effect: 2016 Edition

In a year that is rapidly becoming filled with terrorist attacks, mass shootings, and violent incidents, it remains to be seen what impact this new wave of publishing young boys' photographs who died tragically will have. The public's attention is being overwhelmed with dreadful news, and the overall ripple repercussions of the Adam Walsh Effect revisited are unknown.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Who Watches The Suicide Squad?

We are all living the graphic novel someone else wrote for us.

If you've seen Suicide Squad, you will notice there is a giant smiley face poster in the film that stares at Will Smith's character as he stares at a child's coat (that he, no doubt, imagines for his daughter -- produced by Watchmen's director. (The scene with the Flash, btw, was actually directed by the Watchmen's director, so it does get complex on the inside of this movie.)

I saw the movie on Sunday, and I thought it was entertaining, funny, had good character development, and much better than the Marvel vs DC infighting would have you believe.

What are the Watchmen watching? What are we watching? Who is watching Suicide Squad?

National Review published a thoughtful analysis of the movie in their piece, "The Modern Allegories of Suicide Squad The Squad's All Here " on August 5, 2015. I will quote from the examination, but you can find the entire article by clicking on the link directly above.
Cynicism and redemption in the comic-book wars. Think metaphorically. The war between fans of DC Comics and Marvel Comics is almost as vicious as that between Republicans and Democrats. The current controversy over Suicide Squad — Marvel kids are going on the Internet to attack any proposed DC narrative, with the intention of dooming its box-office prospects — makes a useful analogy to the fracas in our political arena.....

....Suicide Squad (its members risk death on an unpromising mission) can be feared, admired, and rooted for — but only in juvenile terms. Those are the terms that rule contemporary Hollywood, just as they define the schoolyard bullying of contemporary political discourse. A lack of moral precept distinguishes Suicide Squad from previous depictions of patriotism and heroism. These comic-book characters emphasize snarky egotism (“political prisoner” Smith and “jail-bait” Robbie show the most swagger and sass). But the Marvel kids aren’t railing against DC because Suicide Squad gets the genre wrong; they object to the opposition’s very existence — and to its ideology. Yes, even comic-book franchises promote ideology. This may come as a shock to consumers still stuck on the idea that Hollywood wants to entertain more than indoctrinate. Even normally sophisticated folks who are unschooled in recognizing hegemony or realizing how the culture system functions today prove susceptible to the lure of apparently innocuous entertainment. They hold onto adolescent consumerist gullibility, and this is the ideology that Suicide Squad’s producer, Zack Snyder, is up against. Snyder, who directed the reboots Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman, confounds comic-book fans with his voluptuous, dramatic visual style, which is so unlike Marvel’s trashy, violent sarcasm. He’s a fantasist, but he’s also a moralist, and this comes through in Suicide Squad, produced by Snyder but directed by David Ayer. Ayer’s social sensibility (seen in Brad Pitt’s World War II movie, Fury, and in End of Watch, a rare cop movie with a credible sense of ethnic camaraderie) is compatible with Snyder’s. They both approach a childish genre like adults — and that’s what annoys the Marvel kids, whose bad rap on Suicide Squad has already gone viral. If DC is the conservative comic-book universe to Marvel’s pseudo-progressivism, it couldn’t be more unpopular among kids who enjoyed the ludicrous platitudes of Avengers: Age of Ultron....

...Snyder...inserts the Smiley Face motif from his Watchmen film as a comment on comic anarchy (the perversion of noir). Plus, when June Moone is transformed into the Enchantress and turns her brother into a superfiend, it resembles the sibling tragedy in Snyder’s superb production 300: Rise of an Empire. Snyder and Ayer are like presidential and vice-presidential candidates attempting to synthesize popular sentiment with their own feeling for aesthetic reform. Their message seems deliberately misunderstood by those who favor conventional Hollywood formula.

Surely, it’s a joke to complain that one superhero sci-fi fantasy plot makes less sense than another. (Or that Leto’s wily Joker is not as repugnant as Heath Ledger’s. Blessedly, the Joker has less screen time, less validation.)...

....the Squad, facing supernatural evil, gets gung-ho and promises, “We’re gonna be a chapter in the Bible! Everybody will know what we do!” Snyder and Ayer pursue an interest in redemption and sacrifice using the comic-book and blockbuster genres that have replaced the universality of the Bible and classical texts. More is at stake in Suicide Squad than comic-book fun. Think metaphorically again, and see that Suicide Squad entangles post-Vietnam and post-9/11 notions about heroism and citizenship....Suicide Squad is The Dirty Dozen for millennial viewers (and voters), who think their patriotic moral conflict is new. 

Armond White, a film critic who writes about movies for National Review Online, received the American Book Awards’ Anti-Censorship Award in 2014. He is the author of The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook the World and the forthcoming What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about the Movies.

Thanks Steve L.

See also other important material, here, here, and here.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Joan of Arc, Heath Ledger, and Snoop Dogg

Thirteen people died in a fire late Friday [August 5, 2016] night in northern France when fire broke out in a bar full of patrons celebrating someone's birthday, according to reports. The fire was started by an accidental explosion in a bar known as Au Cuba Libre in the town of Rouen in Normandy.

The number of dead climbed to 13 on early Saturday, according to Paris-Normandie, a local news website.

At least six people were wounded, according to reports.

The bar was full of young people celebrating someone's birthday, officials said. (We are waiting for the release of the victims' names and will update this info.)

Tom Mellet shared the following:
This explosion at the Cuba Libre bar in Rouen, France is quite sympropinquitous because its location is exactly 4.00 miles NNW of the Church of Saint Etienne du Rouvray where the Catholic priest was murdered at Mass 10 days ago.
Both the church and the bar are very close to the left bank of the Seine River which really snakes through that area of France.
The name of the bar Le Cuba Libre is not a political sentiment, but rather the name of a drink, the one that we in the USA call a “Rum and Coke.” It was invented in 1901 in Havana by American sailors during the Spanish-American War
The bar was located on Avenue Jacques Cartier, named for the great 16th C French explorer who claimed what is now Canada for France.
The 13 fatalities were all young people between the ages of 18 and 25 who were celebrating a Reunion-themed birthday party in the basement.
Joan of Arc was executed in Rouen in 1431. (h/t to Andrew B.)

A new update on the cause of the fire and more from Tom Mellet:
There was no explosion. Birthday candles on a cake started the fire.
Report from a French official:

 . . . the fire was completely accidental. There was no explosion . . . Candles on a birthday cake started the fire after the person who carried it tripped on the stairs leading to the basement” . . . sound-insulating material on the basement's walls quickly ignited and party guests had no time to escape from the basement.
All 13 fatalities were young people between the ages of 18 and 25. They probably all died from smoke inhalation, not burns, as did a 19 year old woman named Joan on May 30, 1431 at a location in Rouen across the Seine River exactly one-half mile!!! north of the Cuba Libre bar at a place called Vieux Marché (the Old Marketplace). 
This proximity is such a tight sympropinquity that I will now measure distance in yards, not miles.

From the Cuba Libre bar, walk 220 yards North on Jacques Cartier Ave. to arrive at the left bank of the Seine River where you cross the Joan of Arc Bridge for 150 yards to reach the right bank where the name becomes Joan of Arc Street. Proceed 500 yards north, make a left on Rue Rollon for 220 yards and you arrive at the spot of Le bûcher the stake where Joan met her fate.

Eyewitnesses described the scene of the execution by burning on 30 May 1431. Tied to a tall pillar at the Vieux-Marché in Rouen, she asked two of the clergy, Fr Martin Ladvenu and Fr Isambart de la Pierre, to hold a crucifix before her. An English soldier also constructed a small cross that she put in the front of her dress. After she died, the English raked back the coals to expose her charred body so that no one could claim she had escaped alive. They then burned the body twice more, to reduce it to ashes and prevent any collection of relics, and cast her remains into the Seine River. The executioner, Geoffroy Thérage, later stated that he "greatly feared to be damned.” Source.
Where have we seen a “tall pillar” before? And in relation to the French? Yes, the tall red pole pictured on Loren's post here from July 17 that represents the discovery by the French explorers in 1699 which gave the name to the capital city of Louisiana: Baton Rouge.

Au Cuba Libre is close to a bakery, as we can see in one of the photographs from the incident. (h/t JP)

Rouen (Latin: Rotomagus) is a city on the River Seine in the north of France. It is the capital of the region of Normandy. Formerly one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe, Rouen was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandyduring the Middle Ages. It was one of the capitals of the Anglo-Norman dynasties, which ruled both England and large parts of modern France from the 11th to the 15th centuries.

In the 2001 movie A Knight's Tale, the protagonist William Thatcher (played by Heath Ledger) poses as a noble and competes in his first jousting tournament at Rouen.

On the Facebook page, The Kitchen Sync, Eddie Lin wrote:

David Patrick and I were discussing Leto and LEDGEr / joker earlier...
"The incident in Camden on Friday night sent fans over the LEDGE"
I was writing 'Hanging over the LEDGE' comparing Leto Joker's tattoo and Bale's Machinist drawing - the Hangman

Camden's Ledge

Snoop Dog, a/k/a Snoop Lion was born Cordozar Calvin Broadus, Jr.

At least 42 people were injured when a fence collapsed during rapper Snoop Dogg’s concert in New Jersey Friday night, authorities said.

The incident in Camden on Friday night (August 5, 2016) sent fans over the ledge at the outdoor BB&T Pavilion around 10:25 p.m. ET, fire officials said.

Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa were performing at the time.

Joan of Arc fought under a flag with a lion on it; Heath was in a 1997 tv series Roar; Snoop now goes by Snoop Lion (after Lion of Judah). ~ Johnny Walsh