Like all battleships that venture into the Bermuda triangle looking for the President of the United States, the heroes of Bermuda Tentacles have a worm scientist on board. This is useful when the convoy of ships are beset by giant worms reaching out of the water to menace them.

I’m making it sound an awful lot better than it is.

Admiral Linda Hamilton asks Dr. Worm Science Guy Played by Jamie Kennedy: “Do they seem hostile?”

He replies: “I don’t know…they’re worms. (dramatic pause) They do seem angry.”

Huh.

In addition to the questions I was forming about that scientific assessment of the situation, I wondered why a movie called Bermuda Tentacles would be about worms.

Later, I sort of got my answer, but by that point I was of the opinion: “Worms. Tentacles. Who the hell cares?”

Linda Hamilton makes a commanding Admiral, but each of her scenes ended with her looking like she was going to angrily turn her agent into a chew toy as soon as the camera stopped rolling. And well she should, this movie was more crap than craptacular.

Bermuda Tentacles

updated 2:30 p.m. EST with two more links at the end of the post.

I was on campus until rather late last night and didn’t get a chance to update the list of articles critiquing and opposing the National Geographic Channel’s Nazi War Diggers, a proposed 4 part series which appeared to portray archaeology as treasure hunting and showed human remains being excavated in a grotesquely cavalier manner.

My previous link round-up posts are here: Nazi War Diggers: Part II and here: Nazi War Diggers: Part I.

There are some excellent articles that I’ll link to at the end of this post, but I’m going to start with the good news Tom Mashberg reported in the New York Times: “National Geographic Channel Pulls ‘Nazi War Diggers’ Series.”

It should be noted that the show does not appear to have officially been cancelled – it has been “postponed indefinitely,” which can mean a lot of things in the world of broadcast media and video on demand.

Still, it’s a positive sign and one that the National Geographic Channel should be given credit for, particularly in light of how firmly they seemed to be digging their heels in as recently as Friday.

I want to highlight a few sections of the article since it may be behind a paywall for some readers.

First, it’s important to note that the National Geographic Society did listen to the archaeologists affiliated with the society and acknowledged their concerns:

National Geographic Channel said Monday that it would “indefinitely” pull a planned television series on unearthing Nazi war graves after days of blistering criticism from archeologists and others who said the show handled the dead with macabre disrespect.

The channel said that after “consulting with colleagues” at the National Geographic Society, it would not broadcast the series, “Nazi War Diggers,” in May as scheduled “while questions raised in recent days regarding accusations about the program can be properly reviewed.” The show was to have been broadcast globally except in the United States.

Additionally, this section explaining that the Latvian War Museum opposed the show is important because inaccurate rumors about their involvement could have serious consequences for them in the future:

The channel said in its Friday statement that the Latvian government had approved the team’s work, which took place on Latvian and Polish soil. But the critics contacted the Latvian War Museum, which said in a statement that it had opposed the show.

National Geographic also said that none of the items dug up during filming would be sold but instead would be donated to war museums. The critics however found a posting on a military collectors’ online forum in which Mr. Gottlieb described locating a Latvian war helmet in June and preparing it for sale.

On to the links I intended to post yesterday, which raise many relevant questions and concerns and explain why NatGeo TV’s defensive arguments on Friday were so problematic.

I think these are vital reads regardless of the fate of the show because they get to a lot of larger issues that archaeologists, public historians, curators, and others face on a regular basis, particularly in the age of Infotainment and manufactured television “reality.”

Sam Hardy at Conflict Antiquities: ‘No trouble with customs.’ Perhaps trouble with repeatedly written confessions?

Alison Atkin at Deathsplanation: “On the Importance of Context.”

updates:
Andy Brockman at Heritage Daily: Springtime for Hitler and “Nazi War [Death Porn] Diggers”

Additionally, this letter from the Presidents of a number of major anthropological and archaeological professional organizations has been added to the American Anthropological Association site:

The Society for American Archaeology (SAA), the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA), the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), the American Anthropological Association (AAA), the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA), and the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) wish
to express our deep disappointment and grave concern about the upcoming National Geographic Channel
International’s (NGCI’s) show, Nazi War Diggers. Together, SAA, SHA, AIA, AAA, EAA, and EASA
represent more than 10,000 professional archaeologists and more than 600,000 individuals interested in
archaeology. Our members live and work in all parts of the world, including the areas ravaged by World
War II.

(read the rest of the letter here).

Yesterday, I posted about a new NatGeo TV show, Nazi War Diggers. The list of blog posts and open letters criticizing the show continues to grow.

Alison Atkin (Deathsplanation, doctoral researcher at The University of Sheffield Department of Archaeology) “Dear National Geographic Channel UK.” This post also contains a pdf of the letter the National Geographic Channel has sent out in response to the outcry.

Dr. Donna Yates (research fellow on the University of Glasgow’s Trafficking Culture project): “Nazi War Diggers: Looting war graves on TV.”

Paul Mullens (Archaeology and Material Culture, Chair of the Anthropology Department at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis): “The Peep Show of Death: Televising Human Remains.”

Even as the National Geographic Channel scrambles to argue that everything will be fine once we see the context of the clip, they fail to acknowledge a key issue. As Mullens writes:

Shows that tear bottles and bullets out of archaeological context violate archaeological ethics because they make no effort to systematically interpret the material record and they quite often recover things simply for commercial benefit. Reducing human bodies to the same status as bottles to be trafficked online has consequential methodological, ethical, and moral implications alike.

Tom Mashberg’s New York Times article, “TV Series is criticized in handling of deceased,” will hopefully reach an audience beyond the bio/archaeology community. The National Geographic Channel is quoted in the article:

“Part of it is our fault because we released a clip completely out of context that was not representative of the show,” he said. “But I hope people will withhold judgment until the show starts.”

This raised many an eyebrow on twitter. The clip, which shows a group of men cavalierly scraping dirt away from human remains and prying a broken femur out of the ground in a manner that no amount of context will make acceptable. The article concludes:

One of the two metal-detecting specialists on the show, Kris Rodgers, said on Twitter that he agreed the show had been promoted with “a very bad clip.” In response to the outcry, however, he added: “Trust me. It was done properly.”

No. It clearly wasn’t.

Additionally, Archaeosoup has a special episode about the show. Although NatGeo TV has taken down the clip, you can see it in this episode.


Oh! Bodies and Academia is also collecting up links about the show: “Grave Robbing” on TV?”

That title sounds like the lead-in to a post about craptacular SyFy movies. Or maybe a political post about the rhetoric around the NeoLiberal military-industrial complex. Sadly, it’s about neither of those things. Nazi War Diggers is an upcoming 4-part series on National Geographic International. TV Wise announced it will begin airing on May 13th.


Nazi War Diggers, National Geographic Channel
Photo posted on Nazi War Diggers show site

NatGeoTV, which is owned by FOX and promoted as a partnership with the National Geographic Society, already airs an ethically-challenged show called Diggers. Despite critiques by professional associations such as the Society for American Archaeology, the show continues to air and is now in its third season.

The clip posted yesterday on the Nazi War Diggers website showed these self-professed metal detector enthusiasts digging up human remains from an unmarked Latvian grave. The clip has since been removed but the page remains and the publicity photos were still online as of this afternoon.

I’ve been rounding up blog posts about the show.

Bioarchaeologist Kristina Killgrove (Powered by Osteons blog): “Who needs an osteologist, volume 11.”

John R. Roby (Digs and Docs): “We don’t need a TV show about looting Nazi battlefields.”

Archaeologist Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues blog): “National Geographic use metal detectors, find new low.”

Conflict Antiquities: “urgent ethical and legal questions for National Geographic, ClearStory and their Nazi War Diggers.”

Alison Atkin of Deathsplanation summed up my feelings with an animated gif: “Nazi War Diggers.”

Archaeologist and TV producer Annelise Baer (Archaeologist for Hire blog): “Let’s talk more about Nazi War Diggers.”

I’ll add posts as I run across them.

Added March 28, 2014: Nazi War Diggers, part II.

Last night on Project Runway: Under the Gunn, the challenge was to design a collection inspired by the slave/buddy cop adventure-love story disaster epic, Pompeii.

Seriously.

One team chose to design a resort collection, because nothing says “high end resort lifestyle” like a slave fighting a volcano to save the woman he loves.

I guess.

I spent most of the episode laying on the living room floor yelling, “What’s happening????” like the teenager in the 3rd Act of Poltergeist.

Dominque Dunne, Poltergeist(1982)

Dominique Dunne, Poltergeist(1982).

This review does make the movie sound great, in a not-great way: NPR: “Pompeii: In Ancient Rome, A Hot 3-D Mess.”

The whole episode of Project Runway: Under the Gunn is currently available for streaming at lifetime.com – Episode 6: Pompeii Team Challenge.

It was not great, in a not-great way.

Stephen Colbert (Comedy Central, 2014)

Years ago, I ran into Stephen Colbert on campus. We chatted for several minutes before I realized he wasn’t a coworker, but was instead a magical television friend. That was back in ye olde days when Colbert was a correspondent for The Daily Show.

(He was exiting the men’s room in our department, in that context, he was familiar but in the wrong context).

Little did I know that one day he’d be the First Lady of France!

On The Colbert Report last night, Colbert explained that he was French President François Hollande’s date for the White House State Dinner Tuesday night.



Colbert Report: White House State Dinner

Later in the episode, Colbert presented “Because Shep” – a Fun Sized serving of inspire lunacy in which Shep reviewed the State Dinner menu with viewers. If you don’t watch Fox regularly, you may not realize that the foods the Obamas eat are elitist and foreign, not at all like the (exact same foods) that Conservative leaders serve at formal dinners. There’s usually a lot of implied classism, with a crunchy undertone of bigotry, but today Shep turned the Fox Bumpkin routine up to 11 with truly divine results.

Enjoy!



Colbert Report: Because Shep

Remember people, Smith is rumored to the smart one up there on Bullshit Mountain.

________
Image: Stephen Colbert (Comedy Central, 2014)

On Saturday night, things were wild here. Husband had a gig and I read about Godzilla until my brain was full.

Then, it was time for the television.

At MAPACA, one of the my co-panelists presented an interesting paper on the Paranormal Activity movies, so they were on my mind.

I really enjoyed the first 2 movies. (I didn’t hate the 3rd and 4th, I just didn’t like them as much as the first ones). Still, I like the way each film in the franchise plays with narrative tropes and comments on the social and technical aspects of image production. manipulation of the gaze, spaces of resistance, power, and other popular culture studies stuff.

Movies 3 & 4 are available on Netflix and thus were easily and immediately available to me.

Most importantly, movies 3 and 4 are spooky but not super-scary.

Unless you’re home alone.

And by “you,” I mean “me.”

One time I scared myself witless after watching an episode of Supernatural that I’d seen at least half a dozen times.

To be fair, I also scared myself witless once watching the Dick Van Dyke Show.

True story.

But back to Saturday…

I chose Paranormal Activity 4, which was more entertaining than I remembered but, as I also remembered, not particularly scary.

Later that night, just as we were falling asleep, there was a loud, strange sound that seemed to emanate from the living room.

It only happened once, so we’ve decided to believe it was some air in the pipes.

(We aren’t concerned about the sounds on the roof. They aren’t in the attic, and even if they were, we know those are just squirrels. Or demons. Or demon squirrels).

We’d never set up video surveillance a la Paranormal Activity. Not because of the potential for disappearing and leaving behind mysterious footage, but because of the potential for disappearing and leaving behind evidence of early morning conversations like the one that happened this morning when my alarm went off.

Instead of hitting snooze, I yelled at it like a petulant teenager. “Shut UP, Godzilla!”

Disdain dripping from his voice, Husband replied, “It’s NOT Godzilla. It’s CHEWBACCA!”

Then I hit the snooze and we both went back to sleep.

He’s right, of course. It’s Chewbacca. It’s always Chewbacca.

I don’t even have a Godzilla alarm. That would be ridiculous.

While I was finishing this post, Husband and I watched that Dick Van Dyke Show episode, “A Ghost of A. Chantz,” on Netflix.

It’s still creepy and fun.

You know, it’s probably technically the first found-footage type horror movie/tv show. Huh.

Here, I found it for you on YouTube!

The Dick Van Dyke Show: “A Ghost of A. Chantz”

I haven’t had time to read any reviews for the new Friday night TV show, Dracula, so I kept forgetting to look forward to its debut. I haven’t noticed much publicity for the show and Husband doesn’t think he’d have been aware of it at all if I hadn’t Tivo’d it.

In this respect, and so many more, this show has lived down to our every expectation.

There aren’t any spoilers here, because nothing happened in the pilot episode.

Nothing.

This show makes Dr. Who seem like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

(Husband just pointed out to me that Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is actually known as the Wind in the Willows to people who were not raised by wolves and/or Disney. And also that I must be thinking of the ride, because the movie Wind in the Willows is rather slow moving).

Not the point.

There is no point – not to my story, not to this show.

As soon as you accept that, you will enjoy Dracula. It’ll be on for at least 5 more weeks while they burn off the investment, so go ahead, don’t be afraid to commit to at least a fling.

With its elaborate sets and drawn-out scenes of minimalistic yet overwrought dialogue, punctuated by lengthy, action-less sequences where the actors may actually just be reading a dictionary to one another, Dracula is like a 1960s House of Hammer summer-stock performance of Dark Shadows.

Sample scene:

“Insatiable. I-N-S-A-T-I-A-B-L-E.”

“Unquenchable. U-N-Q-U-E-N-C-H-A-B-L-E.”

Okay. They weren’t really spelling the words after they said them, but it would have livened things up just a scosche if they had.

The original Dark Shadows was a terrible high-camp show that ran from 1966-1971. Each revival since has been met with teeth-gnashing and displays of nostalgia and expressions of a woefully misguided belief that the show was even remotely “good.”

Who knows, perhaps Dracula will be able to leverage its flagrant disdain for quality into an equally long run!

The characters all look alike, which is a problem because we can’t figure out who anyone is or which side they’re on. Maybe there aren’t any sides.

I have no idea.

I’m pretty sure that Dracula, now calling himself Grayson, has been resurrected in 1896 and is pretending to be a rich American inventor.

And he’s out for revenge. Or he’s passionate about patent law. Or his pants are too tight.

I really have no idea.

Husband says Dracula/Grayson is definitely out for revenge. He hopes Dracula/Grayson will attend Revenge Academy, like Emily Thorne apparently did before taking revenge on characters named Grayson on the show Revenge.

Maybe there’ll be a cross-over story arc! Revenge has gotten incredibly tedious, so that would be pretty great.

Dracula and a major character who looks just like many of the other characters who may or may not be main characters are having a dramatic conversation. We can’t remember who this guy is or what his name is, so Husband is referring to him as “Beardy” because he has a beard. We missed most of the scene because we were debating whether he was the character who’d had his throat ripped out in an earlier scene or if he just looked like him.

In closing, this is a bland show. It’s like low-sodium saltines. But with the application of just a tiny bit of emoting and Acting, it could be like low-sodium saltines with Nutella on top.

Maybe. I don’t know. Much like the pilot of Dracula, this post has run out of steam and is just staring longingly into the camera, sighing at irregular intervals.

Hey, here’s a funny video Husband showed me. Pumpkin Spice: Official Movie Trailer.




I’ll have to add that to the round-up of links mocking the consumerist compulsion for everything to be pumpkin or pumpkin-adjacent from September to December.

Which reminds me that I still haven’t read Cindy Ott’s Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon.

“It’s a vegetable that represents this idyllic farm life, and the best sort of moral virtue. And Americans have become attached to that,” [Ott] says.

And though pumpkin beers and pumpkin breads have been produced since colonial times, Ott says that they weren’t always the specialty foods that they are today. “Pumpkin beer was used when there was no barley. [If] there was no wheat for bread, they used pumpkin [for] bread,” she says. “Pumpkin was considered food of desperate [times].”

The rehab of pumpkin’s popularity began when 19th century Americans began to move away from rural life and into the city, Ott says. “People became stressed about… moving into the office and off the farms, and [the pumpkin] starts to appear in poems and in paintings,” she says. “We’re celebrating the nostalgia for this old fashioned, rural way of life, that no one ever really wanted to stay on, but everyone’s always been romantic about.”

The rest of that NPR story from 2012 about pumpkin-nostalgia gone wild is here.

My trolls are making me tired so I’ve closed comments for now.

I actually did this a week ago, after I deleted most of the brawl on the Tomorrow People post because it was getting into territory that was both morally and legally murky. Plus the pseudoscience was causing me pain.

I left the first few comments, because that’s the kind of quality nonsense that makes life worth living.

Not really, but they weren’t abusive, so I left them.

Plus, when the radioactive children of California rise up and destroy us all, we can look back at that post and those comments with regret and remorse that we didn’t act to save humanity from our Kaiju-kid overlords when we had the chance.

The first time you hear Blitzer refer to these mutant children as “Kaiju-kids” you just remember that you heard it from me first!