Monday, March 2, 2015

Tod Browning's Dracula

Film scholar Gary D. Rhodes has just published a revelatory new book entitled TOD BROWNING'S DRACULA.  An excerpt of this book first appeared in James Clatterbaugh's consistently insightful magazine Monsters from the Vault #29 under the title "The Curious Undead Life of Tod Browning's Dracula."  Much of what impressed me about that original article applies to Rhodes' book-length version as well.  Though I've read a great many volumes concerning cinematic history, this is by far my favorite.  For a variety of improbable reasons, Tod Browning's Dracula has become one of the most misunderstood and underappreciated films produced in that seminal decade of the 1930s.  Though the film's influence is vast and undeniable, in recent years critics have used up countless reams of paper and hundreds of thousands of words in an attempt to prove that the film is an artistic failure on all fronts.  Since the beginning of the 1990s, there has been a trend among professional cinema scholars, as well as among amateur film buffs, to prove that George Melford's Spanish version of Dracula (produced at Universal Studios concurrently with Browning's film) is a superior adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic supernatural novel.  In fact, this was one of the core points of David Skal's 1990 book Hollywood Gothic.  Skal insists that Melford's Dracula is far more experimental cinematically than Browning's version, which is often accused of being far too stagebound and theatrical for its own good.  An example that Skal often uses to back up this viewpoint is the claim that Melford's film utilizes the moving camera far more than Browning's version; however, this and other overused examples are, more often than not, based on blatant misperceptions or outright falsehoods.  Rhodes' new book leaves no room for doubt in this regard.

Back in 2011, when I was about a quarter of the way through Rhodes' original article, I recall the following thought suddenly popping into my head:  "I've been waiting twenty years for someone to write an article like this."  Why twenty years?  At the time of the article's release, it had been about two decades since the publication of Hollywood Gothic.  Though I appreciate Skal's unique approach to film history (and I love his follow-up book, The Monster Show, even more), I suspect his stance regarding the Melford Dracula was born more out of narrative necessity than out of genuine conviction.  The idea of a lost classic emerging out of the shadow of its far more famous counterpart is a romantic notion and makes for a wonderful story arc too perfect for a genuine fabulist to resist.  Also, the Melford Dracula wasn't readily available at the time of the book's initial publication, so if you were a casual reader and not a film scholar, you had to take Skal's word for it.  I did so at the time, as did many of Skal's readers.  In the years since, however, I've grown more and more perplexed over the unthinking hostility directed toward Browning's Dracula.  I've always found the film effectively eerie, not just in its first reel, but throughout its entire seventy-five minutes.  It took Rhodes to point out, at long last, that those elements of Browning's film habitually accused of being far too stagebound are, in fact, some of the film's most effective scenes.  After all, the haunting images created in one's imagination when hearing Renfield (memorably portrayed by Dwight Frye) hiss out the words, "Rats... rats... thousands of them... millions of them," is far more disturbing than merely showing such an image through the use of base special effects.  

In Tod Browning's Dracula, Rhodes demonstrates that his conclusions are not in any way subjective; they're a product of pure mathematics, e.g., a matter of simply counting how many shots in the Browning film utilize a moving camera as opposed to the Melford version.  He then very effectively underscores how much more artistically--from a thematic point of view--Browning employs the moving camera as opposed to Melford.  
 
Simply put, devoid of any hyperbole whatsoever, Rhodes' new book is a game changer.  Tod Browning's Dracula is a prime example of excellent film scholarship because it's about far more than just comparing and contrasting two black and white films from the 1930s; at its core, the book is about perceptual psychology, and the fact that human beings (if told something often enough and with great conviction) tend to believe unfounded claims without first examining their veracity themselves.  Pretty soon an unsupported rumor becomes a possibility, and a possibility becomes a fact, and a fact becomes common knowledge.  Rhodes' book upends all the rumors and what-ifs and chimerical half-truths, and successfully shines the light of genuine scholarship on the facts underlying the lies that have shrouded this historically important film for the past several decades.

I urge you to purchase Rhodes' book as soon as possible, and this can be done by clicking right HERE.


 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Tactics for Pushing Back Against Organized Government Stalking and Mass Surveillance

My latest book, CHAMELEO, focuses on a controversial phenomenon that has come to be known as "gangstalking."  An excellent website called Fightgangstalking.com offers a plethora of perceptive insights into "gangstalking," a term that is often misinterpreted by those who are not aware of its true implications.  This peculiar form of government-sponsored vigilantism (yes, I'm well aware that "government-sponsored vigilantism" is a seemingly paradoxical phrase, but it's a suitable characterization nonetheless) would, perhaps, be more appropriately described as "Organized Government Stalking and Mass Surveillance."  Though this might indeed be a mouthful, the fact is that it's a far more accurate description.  I would like to highlight some of the best push-back tactics proposed by Fightgangstalking.com:

"Targets of organized stalking must wage a two-front war: we must act locally to expose the harassment to neighbors and others, and we must expose what is happening on a national level as well. Both objectives are critical […]."

"Targeted individuals need to exploit asymmetrical warfare principles. As much as possible, we should employ tactics which are unpredictable, creative, cheap, simple and bold. The worst thing a victim of organized stalking could do would be to adopt a cautious defensive posture […]."

"We need to change the whole game and play it on our terms. Give the perps and their handlers some reasons to be uncomfortable. The way to throw a wrench into the Stasi machine is to expose its crimes to the public, and doing that sometimes requires stepping outside your comfort zone a bit […]."

"[C]ivil disobedience is a well-established, respected, and morally legitimate way to protest injustices. For targets of criminal harassment by corrupt members of law enforcement agencies and security contractors, it is even more than that; it is a necessary form of self-defense […]."

"Gang stalking perps (including corrupt members of local law enforcement agencies) will not want to attract attention to their gang stalking crimes by doing battle with you in a public way, so they have to be very reserved in their efforts to suppress your exposure of what is happening. You should exploit that […]."

"If you can afford to buy counter-surveillance and security equipment (cameras, alarm systems, locks, safes, firearms, bug detectors, signal jammers, etc.), you should do so […]."

***


"Based on my own experience and accounts of other targeted individuals, perps don’t like being photographed when they’re stalking you. Some will be more bothered by it more than others, but none of them will want you to do it.
"With the variety of digital cameras available (cell phones, spy cameras, etc.), you can take photos and videos either overtly or covertly. Both have advantages. If you are trying to annoy the perps, taking their photo in an obvious way, might be a good method. On the other hand, if you’re trying to document their actions, a covert spy-camera approach might be better.
"Of course, it’s unlikely that your photos and videos will have much legal significance. Perps are told to avoid doing and saying things that could be incriminating. They are normally following very specific directions from their handlers – for example, they are told to make a comment which is not explicitly threatening or slanderous, but which makes reference to something they know about you from conducting illegal surveillance.
"I encourage stalking victims to post the clearest photos of the perps online. Try to get good close-up clear shots of their faces […].
"Don’t post photos in a way that could be considered libelous. For example, don’t write a caption which says 'These are my stalkers.' Instead, say something like 'Here are some people I have seen near my residence, where I’m being gang stalked. Maybe one of these people witnessed something that could be helpful.'"
***
"Harassment by noise is one of the most common tactics of gang stalkers. Now it’s your turn to exploit noise: buy an air-horn. They’re cheap (they start at about $15). If you live near a store that sells boating supplies, you can get one there. Otherwise you can order one online.
"Carry it with you if you’re encountering perps on the street in your neighborhood. Use it like a rape whistle. The next time someone makes some creepy comment, take it out and blast it for a few seconds. You should probably use some ear plugs though; air-horns are loud.
"Just smile at the perp while you’re doing it. If anyone asks, tell them the truth: you’re being gang-stalked. Simple as that. If the perp asks you what you’re doing, say 'Stop gang-stalking me.' Of course, you should say it in a friendly voice and smile while saying it. You might have to speak loudly though; his ears might be ringing.
"It’s possible that someone could complain that you’re disturbing the peace, but it’s very unlikely that local cops (who will know about gang stalking) will want to make an issue of it.
"By the way, this isn’t just a theoretical tactic; I tested it."
***
"Since harassment by noise is one of the major tactics of gang stalkers, you might want to purchase a pair of noise-cancelling headphones ($80 to $400).
"If you cannot afford them, you might want to buy some disposable ear plugs. They will also be handy if you decide to use the air-horn tactic described above."
***
"Exploit this common valuable advice of anonymous origin:
'Smile. It makes people wonder what you’re up to.'
"Every time you see someone who could even possibly be a member of the local gang stalking goon squad, you should greet him or her with a big grin. Every time. Stare right at the idiot and smile.
"Even better is to combine this with the tactic explained previously – 'Use scripted responses' – by initiating a fake cell phone conversation as a pretense for mocking the perp with crude insults.
"But you should always smile at the perp. Although the 'street-level' stalkers are generally the stupidest of the various minions, even they are smart enough to understand that the goal of their efforts is to emotionally destroy their target.
"Make it clear to them that they are failures."
***
"Distributing pamphlets to criticize stupidity and corruption is a deep tradition which includes legendary thinkers and activists such as Thomas Paine and Lysander Spooner.
"Even after the advent of television and the Internet, pamphlets remain a powerful communication weapon to expose crimes and idiocy […]."
"Distributing flyers in your neighborhood is one of the most powerful tactics to make life difficult for the corrupt former and current members of the law enforcement industry who perpetrate gang stalking.
"You will accomplish multiple objectives by distributing flyers: (a) your neighbors will have some clue about what is happening – which could force the local street-level perpetrators to limit their harassment somewhat, (b) the local police will be forced to contend with some inconvenient questions from citizens about what is happening, (c) the (non-cowardly) members of the news media might investigate and report on it, and (d) such reporting could create pressure for members of Congress to acknowledge the reality of organized stalking – and perhaps initiate an investigation – as was done by the U.S. Senate’s Church Committee during the 1970s regarding the FBI’s infamous Cointelpro operations and the CIA’s Project MK Ultra.
"In 2009 Frank L. Raffaele, a resident of Verona, New Jersey was targeted by gang stalkers, and he responded by distributing flyers about the harassment to neighbors and businesses. The flyers generated enough discussion and inquiries that the local police were forced to address the issue, and it became the subject of an article in the local newspaper.
"If you can afford the postage, mail your flyers.

"Send them to residences, businesses, and schools in your neighborhood as well as to local officials.
"I recommend that you send your flyers anonymously. You are not legally required by the U.S. post office to include a return address on your envelopes. You also do not need to address the envelopes to the residents by name; you can simply address them to 'Resident.'
If you do want to address flyers to your neighbors by their names, you can go to a website such as 
WhitePages to find the name(s) for each address. Just click on the 'Reverse Address' search tab.
"Be as discrete as possible when mailing the flyers. Ideally, have a friend or relative do it so it will be more difficult for the perpetrators to intercept and disrupt the mailing (for example, if they have an accomplice at the post office). It is unlikely that they would interfere with such a mailing though, as it would be a serious violation of federal law […].
If you cannot afford the postage to mail your flyers, you should distribute them by going door-to-door. You do not need to speak with residents directly; just leave your flyers where they will be seen. This tactic is completely legal by the way. If it is legal for the KKK to leave flyers on peoples cars, doorsteps, and front yards (and apparently it is), then it is legal for you to do so.
"One of the few restrictions is that you are not allowed to place flyers inside mailboxes – or even touch mailboxes."
***
"Distributing flyers and business cards – as discussed above – are powerful tactics for calling attention to the criminals who are stalking you. However, the exposure they create is temporary. A sign posted inside a window of your residence can be left in place for a longer period.
"Depending on the proximity of pedestrians and neighbors to your window (and the severity of the harassment), you might want to start with something small – such as one of the flyers or business cards. If needed, you can post a sign of whatever size needed for visibility.
"This can create a real problem for the criminal perps who are stalking you. Anyone whose curiosity is piqued by such signs can visit this website and learn all about the nature of the illegal harassment.
"A reader of this website who adopted this tactic sent this photograph of a banner which has been prominently displayed for the neighbors to consider.
"Another excellent way to exploit this tactic is to place a sign inside the window of your vehicle – or to order a custom bumper sticker from any of the countless websites which perform that service."
***
"Scrawl chalk messages about gang stalking on the sidewalk near your residence.
"Compared with paint graffiti, messages in chalk are far less likely to lead to any legal troubles. Be creative with the placement, size, colors, and wording of your messages. Be sure to include the term 'gang stalking' or 'gang stalkers.'
"If you know that the residence next-door is being used by perpetrators, you can write 'Gang Stalking Perps' on the sidewalk in front of the residence, with an arrow pointing to the residence.
"As with flyers and banners, the ideal message is 'FightGangStalking.com' so you can convey exactly what is happening. At least a few of your neighbors will probably visit the website to find out what is going on.
"Anyone participating in gang stalking will not want to attract attention to his crimes by making a big public issue about your sidewalk artwork. The same is true of the police […].
"If a neighbor who is not a gang stalker asks what you’re doing, just tell him or her the truth and let the chips fall where they may. You’re not the one engaged in the criminal felony of stalking."
***
"Order a self-inking stamp with a message suited to exposing gang stalking. I would humbly suggest that you include the name of this website in the message – since it is both a statement and an instruction for where to go for more information.
"Red ink and bold lettering would be appropriate.
"Such stamps are cheap. They are also small and light-weight, so they are easy to carry with you – for example at your job if you are being mobbed by co-workers, or at a local business if you are being harassed there.
"I’m guessing that gang stalking perps would not be pleased if the stamp mark began showing up on documents, phone books, invoices, letters, memos, booklets, restaurant menus, office football pool spreadsheets, etc.
"You can also stamp your message on adhesive notes — which can be posted almost anywhere.
***
"Members of Congress rarely act upon an issue simply out of a desire to stop an injustice. Instead, they mostly take actions in response to pressure. Since victims of organized stalking are a non-powerful minority of the electorate, their rights are not likely to be viewed as important even if stalking crimes are brought to the attention of legislators. Consequently, this tactic is only one element of a larger strategy.
"[S]ending letters to your representatives in Congress calling for an investigation into domestic counterintelligence crimes is a smart thing to do, and it requires very little time and effort. You should send your letter (or email) to the member of the House of Representatives who represents your congressional district, and to both of your state’s senators […].
"Consider writing your letter in the form of a question rather than an assertion. Although you are in a position to be certain of the reality of gang stalking, the person to whom you are writing does not have such first-hand experience, and cannot know whether your claims are credible. So instead of saying 'this is happening and you should look into it,' it might be more productive to ask whether the person you are writing to has any knowledge of the media reports about what appear to be domestic counterintelligence operations, and suggesting that an investigation is in order."
***
"Call a radio talk show which is covering an issue that is even remotely related to gang stalking (government surveillance, law enforcement, etc.), and mention that many news reports suggest that there seems to be a current version of Cointelpro going on which borrows heavily from the tactics of communist East Germany’s Stasi.
"Cite some of the news reports listed in the What is 'Gang Stalking?' page of this website. Ask the host or guest if he or she agrees that it might be a good idea for the U.S. Senate to hold another version of the Church Committee investigations – as was done in the 1970s […].
"A large audience could hear about gang stalking for the first time and that would be a great achievement. It would be a lot easier than trying to persuade some program manager to schedule a show on the subject."
***
"Anyone targeted by organized stalking should consider trying to exploit his or her rights under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain information about what is happening […].
FOIA requests can be used to (possibly) find information about your personal situation – for example, whether you are under investigation or on a watch list. It can also (possibly) be used to find information about organized stalking generally."
_______________________________________________________________________
FFightgangstalking.com's unexpurgated list of push-back tactics can be found by clicking right HERE.  If you believe you're being gangstalked, I encourage you to study this list in detail.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

CHAMELEO on STRANGE ALPHABETS

Craig L. Gidney (author of such books as SEA, SWALLOW ME & OTHER STORIES, BEREFT, and SKIN DEEP MAGIC) has just reviewed CHAMELEO for his blog, STRANGE ALPHABETS.  You can read the entire review by clicking HERE.

Friday, February 27, 2015

A Holiday Recipe Like No Other

The good folks over at OR Books--in conjunction with several of the world's most famous chefs--have prepared the following recipe for your upcoming holiday needs.  Yes, indeed, I'm told by my relatives in the "Old Country" that these are the perfect fixin's for any traditional St. Patrick's Day lunch... or dinner... or breakfast....

A holiday recipe like no other …
Chameleo: A Strange but True Story of Invisible Spies, Heroin Addiction, and Homeland Security by Robert Guffey
Pre-order now and get 15% off!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lo, the Integratron!

Here's an excerpt from Jennifer McCartney's 2-20-15 Atlantic article entitled "A Time Machine in the Mojave Desert":

"The sign said, 'Dedicated to Research in Life Extension.' George Van Tassel, an aviator and UFOlogist, put it outside a structure he described as 'a time machine for basic research on rejuvenation, anti-gravity, and time travel' in the Mojave Desert in the early 1950s.

"In fact, the story of George Van Tassel’s Integratron, as the machine is known, is so outlandish, so otherworldly, and so enchanting—encompassing UFOs, electromagnetism, Nikola Tesla, Howard Hughes, Moses, and an alleged German spy—that it’s little wonder the site continues to attract tourists, artists, reporters, drifters, and spiritual pilgrims more than 60 years after Van Tassel began to build what would become his life’s work.

"The white wood-domed structure sits four stories high and 55 feet in diameter, just off Twentynine Palms Highway in Landers, California, about an hour north of Palm Springs. According to Van Tassel, the site was determined by its relationship to the Great Pyramids in Giza as well as its proximity to magnetic vortices. It is a 16-sided metal-free building constructed using a technique called joinery—no nails or screws were used in an attempt to avoid interference with the conductive properties of the machine. Inside, the acoustically perfect sanctuary made of Douglas fir rises three stories high and features sweeping views of the desert from its 16 small windows. The Integratron remains open to visitors today, although it’s no longer outfitted for the purpose of time travel—the machinery is, mysteriously, long gone.

"The story of Van Tassel’s time-travel dome begins under a rock—yes, an actual rock—where he lived. It was here, a few miles from Landers, that the inventor established an airport which he ran for 29 years on land leased from the U.S. government. It’s also where he incorporated a science philosophy organization called The Ministry of Universal Wisdom, one of many UFO cults that sprouted up in California shortly after the 1947 Roswell incident that brought UFO culture into the mainstream.

"The most infamous of these groups is probably Heaven’s Gate—whose members committed suicide in order to ascend to a spaceship following the Hale-Bopp comet—but there’s also Scientology (founded in 1952), the Universal Articulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science (1954), and the Aetherius Society (1955). The organizations held in common the belief that communication with extraterrestrials was possible and that by channeling their messages (many aliens, believers said, were concerned with the earthlings' attempts to develop a hydrogen bomb) the contactee could ultimately help save mankind. 'The UFO culture of the 1950s arose after the end of WWII, and rockets, nuclear weapons, and new aircraft were being designed and built based on war effort innovation,' notes Bernard Bates, a professor of astronomy at the University of Puget Sound. 'People were afraid death could come out of the sky... and they were seeing all sorts of natural and human made phenomena which they didn’t understand.' It was during this era of increasing distrust among Americans of the U.S. government, the beginnings of the Cold War, with the possibility of nuclear weapons looming and the new-age movement in California blossoming, that Van Tassel rose to local, then national prominence as a charming, well-spoken UFO expert. Much of his notoriety was a result of the annual Giant Rock Interplanetary Spacecraft Convention, which he hosted for more than 20 years.

"Seven stories high and many thousands of tons, Giant Rock dominates the desert landscape and became a local landmark due to its size. It was underneath the boulder that a German immigrant named Frank Critzer carved out a 400-square-foot house for himself where Van Tassel would visit him occasionally. The story goes that Critzer also installed a radio antennae on top of the rock and came under suspicion by the authorities for being a German spy shortly after WWII. Accounts vary, but a tear gas canister from a botched FBI raid is said to have somehow ignited Critzer’s store of dynamite and blown him to bits. Van Tassel moved in shortly thereafter with his wife. And on August 24, 1953, it was here that Van Tassel received his instructions regarding what would become his 'tabernacle'—the Integratron."

The entirety of McCartney's article, well worth reading, can be found by clicking HERE.

What follows are some photos of my own pilgrimage to George Van Tassel's Integratron--as well as to nearby Giant Rock--just this past October.  I made this journey in the company of my good friend Eric Williams and inventor Richard Schowengerdt (whose explosive theories are featured prominently in my new book, CHAMELEO).  If you're a UFO enthusiast living in Southern California, you shouldn't hesitate to make this trip.  Upon approaching the remote destination after hours of driving, you can only stare in awe as the blazing white dome of the Integratron emerges out of the barren, Ralph-Steadmanesque desert landscape like a mythical fortress from a fractured fairy tale.  This is a quite a surreal experience, to say the least.  You can't help but feel the the 1950s UFO energy rising from the desert floor in tangible waves of 100% pure FORTEAN HEAT!  













Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Charles Fort's Lost Notes

Here's some exciting new for Charles Fort mavens!  What follows is an excerpt from a recent post on Chris Chaos' All Things Weird blog:

"According to Above Top Secret (http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread1037963/pg1), 60,000 plus notes from Charles Fort's writings based on the weird and odd will soon be available to the public. These notes were written in the 1920's and 30's on a variety of paper sources and should prove a difficult task to transcribe. John H. Reed, M.D. of the World Institute for Scientific Exploration (WISE: http://wisewiki.org/ ) acquired them from a house in Connecticut as the new owners were going to throw them out, not aware of their significance."

To see the entire post (dated 2-17-15), click HERE.

Monday, February 23, 2015

John A. Keel's The Invisible Diet

Any day on which I learn about the release of a John Keel book I've never heard of before is a very good day indeed!  Click HERE to order New Saucerian Books' most recent publication, The Invisible Diet by the late journalist, John A. Keel (author of one my favorite Fortean books of all time, The Mothman Prophecies).  According to the publisher, The Invisible Diet is a "suppressed classic" in which Keel "shares classified health secrets rumored to have been developed by either the CIA or NSA, specifically for their agents in the field.  In these pages, Keel provides forbidden advice on how to:  lose weight unnoticed; quit smoking; say goodbye to your dentist and doctor; improve cognitive ability and focus; grow spiritually; have more sex; and generally avoid surveillance."

The Keel-centric website, John Keel:  Not an Authority on Anything, provides further information about the pedigree of this lost Keel volume right HERE.