Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snow White and the seven dwarfs

The re-release of Walt Disney's “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” on DVD (and first time on Blu-Ray) this month has served to reconfirm what many have said already - this is one of the best movies ever made. The film is every bit as moving and entertaining as it was when it debuted in the late 1930s. If you haven't seen it yet. . .it just means that you're very frugal. :) As far as I know the film has never been shown on television, so you won't find it on Disney channel or TCM or AMC or pay-per-view or anything like that. Your options are to see it in the theater or to buy the home video versions. I missed the first DVD release of Snow White, as did many other people, which quickly drove the price of the DVD up higher than most of us would like to pay for it. Thankfully, this re-release brings the film classic back down to fit our budgets. (It can be frustrating to not be able to buy a particular film just because they've decided to release it again five years from now.)

The quality of the DVD itself is excellent. It's hard to believe, but you really can't see too many flaws in the picture or hear too many flaws in the audio. It's as if the film were made this year. The only giveaway technically is that it remains in its standard “square” format that it was first shown in. Such was not always the case. When I first saw Snow White in the theater in 1987, they “cropped” the square so that we got a “widescreen” version of Snow White. This wasn't that bad to watch - everything important was in the picture. But time has brought out the “purist” in me that says, “we want to see it the way it was originally seen.” If that's the case for you too, please buy this DVD. (Look for the RKO logo at the end!)

I have to talk about the music. This is one of the best film soundtracks of them all. It not only matches the action and mood of the movie, it is beautiful. You could listen to the soundtrack by itself and enjoy it. If you're a casual fan, the official CD soundtrack will be fine. But if you're a nut like me (and who isn't?), you should also try to get the original LP or cassette of the soundtrack that was produced before CDs came out. Although there is less music, the recording contains slightly different music cues than can be found in the CD soundtrack. The violins before “Someday my prince will come” are heard without the dialogue, and the beautiful conclusion is presented with a different choral arrangement that is more faithful to the film version (but interestingly, still not the same!)

Prior to seeing the movie, we had seen “Snow White Live” broadcast on cable TV. It was a stage version of “Snow White” put on at Radio City Music Hall, and it was pretty terrific in its own right. It contained the best of the movie while adding a few new plot items here and there. Some of those plot points included the prince's search for Snow White and the Dwarfs ringing the bells at Snow White's wedding. And the cast was excellent. Even those who had to wear masks shone on stage. It's a real treat that has not been released on video in decades! The time has come, Disney! Don't make us wait another 20 years!

Sometime in late 1983 (I think), my dad, brother and I went to a drive-in theater to see “Return of the Jedi.” “Snow White” was playing at the same theater on a different screen. A couple of times during the movie, I would turn around and watch scenes from “Snow White.” It's kind of neat now to realize that two of my favorite films were playing at the same time in the same theater, and I sort of got to see a bit of both of them at the same time!

My brother and I were lucky enough to meet Snow White in person. It's one of my earliest memories. It was at Disneyland, and she said, “What a brave boy!” as I walked up to shake her hand. Dopey was with her, and we have photos. A very cool kid moment. It's actually pretty rare to see the dwarfs in the park these days. I got to shake hands with Grumpy once during the parade. That's the last time I recall seeing him in the park.

It's kind of difficult to believe today, but in its day, “Snow White” was likely the scariest film of its time. (I've heard it said that it would have been “PG” if there had been a ratings system at the time.) That scary aspect seems to run completely apart from the “cuteness” of the film, yet it is obviously an important element. The queen turns herself ugly so that she can become beautiful. Its lesson is that true ugliness is not physical, but spiritual. When the queen becomes a witch, it is frightening, but you later realize that this is who she truly was all along. When she cries out, “now I'll be the fairest in the land!” you can't help but realize how blind she is. Her obsession with beauty has only brought out ugliness. And as for that “cuteness”- it continues today in so many things that Disney is doing. Walt once said something like, “It may be corny, but I like corn.” And apparently many others do, too.

It's also frightening to realize that if “Snow White” had failed, as many people at the time said it would, we would not have the Disney company today – that's how much money had to be invested in it. But thankfully Walt knew his stuff, and the film basically became a cornerstone for all of the Disney movies and an inspiration for so many other films at the time, most notably “Wizard of Oz”, “Gulliver's Travels” and “The Blue Bird” with Shirley Temple. Both “Wizard” and “Gulliver's Travels” have some excellent songs, too.

I'd like to hope that people are beginning to realize what the first audience for “Snow White” realized back in 1937 or so. This film isn't just another cartoon. This film isn't just for kids, and in some cases can be too scary for kids. This film is a work of art. This film moves the heart. This film is more entertaining than most films with “real people.” This film breaks rules. This film creates rules. This film rules.


THE TERRIBLE FOE: You would think that losing some relatives to cancer would make me realize how devastatingly common it is. The news that Andrew Lloyd Webber has prostrate cancer is worrisome to say the least, knowing that many have not survived it. Thankfully it is in its early stages, and can hopefully be treated with success. Our prayers and good wishes go out to him.

THE STARS ALLIGN: When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with the Hollywood sign, we find that there is a date which stands out among sitcom fans everywhere. October 18 is the birthday of Erin Moran (Joanie of “Happy Days”), Pam Dawber (of “Mork & Mindy”) and Dawn Wells (Mary Ann of “Gilligan's Island”). I consider this too much to be a coincidence. I suggest we name October 18 as “cute sitcom girl day.” It may not become a national holiday, but it would give us a good excuse to watch “Mork & Mindy” again. For more on Gilligan's Island, enjoy my post here:

And in a post such as this, I would be amiss not to note that “Joanie” on Happy Days played “Snow White” in a Halloween-themed episode. And what a startling coincidence, but this week is Halloween as well! For us grown-ups without kids, the holiday can be more of a pain than anything else. But I still try to find the fun in it with the help of my friends – and a few pieces of extra candy here and there. You know, there's always a bit extra left over. . .especially if I happen to accidentally go out and forget about passing it out on the 31st. . .you never know. I'm a busy guy. Things happen. You know, I've often wondered. . .how many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop? Perhaps this year, I will finally find out. (“The answer my friend, is blowin' in the wind. . .”)

Friday, October 23, 2009

The muppets are real; Soupy Sales

The muppets are real. They said so on TV.

On Wednesday evening, the show “Dinner Impossible” on Food Network featured not only host chef Robert Irvine trying to cook dinner for over 200 people in eight hours, but Maria, Elmo and Cookie Monster from “Sesame Street.” At the beginning of the show, a disclaimer came up over a black screen. It read, “What you are about to see is real.” Well, among the things we saw were Elmo and Cookie Monster. If what we are about to see is real, then that means that Elmo and Cookie Monster are real. QED. For that matter, it also means that Sesame Street is real, and Maria is real (she didn’t go by Sonia Manzano, but by Maria! So Maria is real!) The alternative is that the disclaimer is lying to us, which would be pretty horrible, and would mean that the network could be sued. I suggest they come up with a new disclaimer. “Most of what you are about to see is real.” Or how about “The food is real, real good.” Or maybe the best of all, “You folks need a real life.”


MESSY SITUATION: When I heard the news this morning that Soupy Sales had sailed to a better place, I immediately thought of Fred Hembeck, the biggest Soupy fan I know. He’s already shared some of his thoughts on his “Fred Sez” posting for this morning. Check it out:

It wasn't necessarily Soupy's material that sparkled but the absolutely joyful--and infectious--manner in which he delivered it. THAT was his particular brand of genius. After all, if Soupy himself was having so much fun, how could we viewers help but not join in?

You'll be sorely missed, funny guy.

Check out more in Fred’s blog in my links section.

Soupy was before my time, so I have more memories of folks like Fred Rogers. And here’s where things get a bit messy- messy as in pies in the face and slapstick.

In several interviews, Fred Rogers stated that one of the reasons he got into children’s television was that he hated the children’s television shows that were on the air. He (as far as I know) never named any of those shows, but he described them as having “pies in the face and slapstick.” Now from what clips I have seen from the Soupy Sales show, if I had to describe it in a few words. . .yep, pies in the face and slapstick. Fred Rogers believed that children’s shows could be - and should be - much more than that. So he created one of the greatest children’s shows of all time.

I think the problem is that Soupy’s show was more geared toward “entertainment” than children. It was passed off as "kids’ TV" not so much because it was for kids, but because it was silly and seen as "harmless". It’s understandable that someone seeing this would see a big void in kids’ TV and try to fill it with stuff that actually helped kids. Soupy Sales' goals were different from Fred Rogers' goals. Likewise, his show was different. I’m sure Soupy and company (and his viewers) had a lot of fun. But if we’ve learned anything from children’s TV in the past 40 years (hint hint), it is that children learn things from television, and any programming for kids needs to take that into consideration. Soupy was likely a great talent, but I fear that if he were around today, they’d have to put him at late night on “Cartoon Network,” as he would be performing material that we would recognize as being unfit for young kids. It would likely still be a fun show. But it wouldn't be the same.

COMING SOON: Someday her prince will come.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Carrie and the captain

If you’ve been keeping up with the Neighborhood Archive blog (and please do if you’re a Mister Rogers fan), you’ve seen some pictures from when Fred Rogers visited Captain Kangaroo (The Captain also visited Mr. Rogers on his show). Not to be outdone, I wanted to put up an image from when Carrie Fisher visited the Captain, taken I believe from the same book (“Good Morning Captain”) that the Fred Rogers pictures were taken from. Speaking of Captain Kangaroo, I’ve been disappointed to realize that virtually NO episodes from the classic show are available to buy, rent or trade. Nobody seems to have any extra episodes of Captain Kangaroo. There are probably more episodes of “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” currently available than “Captain Kangaroo.” It’s sad because it is such a historic show- almost everyone who knows anything about TV history has heard the name “Captain Kangaroo.” But if you’re looking for examples of his work, they haven’t been seen in years. This is one classic show I definitely wish we could see more of. Blu-ray release! Blu-ray release! If by any chance you have rare episodes of Captain Kangaroo, please let me know! We might be able to work out a video trade. You can contact me on my YouTube channel (in the links) or through my face book page. Search for “Steve Sesameguy.”


THE RETURN OF MUSIC STORES: A new music store has opened in the Ontario Mills Mall. Called “,” it is obviously linked in with the Web site and owned by the company that owned Warehouse music, which has now since gone away. If you remember what it was like shopping for used music and DVDs at Warehouse, then you know what it’s like shopping for used music and DVDs at Secondspin. Even the price tags still look the same! Anyway, I see this store opening as a good thing. Even if most of the music is used, the fact that there’s a store there at all points to a desire to keep physical music stores around for a while. The store seems to be relatively successful as well, with several people almost always browsing the racks of Cds. It’s a nice change of pace that I hope will continue. You can see what the new store looks like here:

BAD VIBRATIONS?: And speaking of music, you may have heard that Brian Wilson will be completing a few unfinished compositions by George Gershwin. I heard “Smile” for the first time this year and enjoyed it a lot (classic Beach Boys fans, get it!). But despite Wilson’s talent, not everyone is pleased at the idea of him going Gershwin. Lee Hartsfeld from MY(P)WHAE blog has voiced concerns over this situation, pointing out that it seems to be more money-driven than artistically inspired. Plus, of course, there’s the fear that “Rhapsody in Blue” and “Good Vibrations” just aren’t going to mix. I definitely understand the money-driven angle as well. You have to wonder which is more important these days. . .product or publicity. So there’s definitely mixed feelings about all this. My attitude, though, is inspired by Fred Rogers - wait and see. It might work, it might not. Admittedly, Brian has big shoes to fill - but that doesn’t mean he can’t do it. He’s got talent, and perhaps this is a chance for him to shine. Again, we’ll see. But be sure to read Lee’s take on the situation at his blog post here:
“Is Wilson's talent comparable to Gershwin's? No, not remotely. Wilson made some fabulous Top 40 singles that I love (and will always love) but every time he's tried to move "beyond" the pop song format, the results have been mediocre to unfortunate.”


ON YOUTUBE: TILL I HEAR YOU SING (ONCE MORE): And speaking of “Wait and see,” we won’t have too much more of a wait to see the sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera.” It’s a production which is unfortunately upsetting many fans who think that Webber should leave well enough alone. Admittedly, I don’t see much of a need for the sequel either. . .unless it’s really good, which it might be! I think “wait and see” should definitely set the tone for this one as well. Incidentally, I’ve been good and put off listening to the reading of “Phantom of Manhattan” so far, but that may change next year, when “Love Never Dies” debuts in England, then later that year on Broadway! I did, however, listen to the first song released from the soundtrack. Titled “Till I hear you sing (once more),” it’s a great tune which hopefully is just one of many from the show. It’s in my favorites folder on myYouTube page. Check out my links section to find it.


COMING SOON: One song, I have but one song, one song, only for you. . .

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher is currently starring in a one-woman show on Broadway. Titled “Wishful Drinking,” Carrie basically gives a summary of her life story, which is not too difficult when you consider that her life story is already pretty much open for the world to see. She has literally grown up in the spotlight, and has found success both as an actress and author. In honor of Carrie’s show, and in celebration of her birthday this month, this would be a good time to talk about my undying love for. . .I mean, my deep feelings for. . .I mean, my former relationship with. . .I mean, my deep respect for. . .Folks, it’s not easy to describe the importance of Carrie Fisher to me. But I’ll try.

Like almost everyone else in the galaxy, I first learned of Carrie as Princess Leia from “Star Wars.” I was very young at the time, and she was one of many grown-up ladies that I liked. Especially in the trash compactor scene, when she raised her leg up against the wall. . .arrgh. Ahem. Anyway, I only got to see Carrie in the Star Wars movies, so while I admired her, I seldom got to see her on screen, and our “relationship” waned.

In 1983, just before “Return of the Jedi” debuted, our local newspaper ran some photos from the movie. One of them featured Leia wearing. . .practically nothing. It was my first encounter with Leia in the metal bikini. Then another magazine printed another metal bikini shot. Then another, and another, and slowly my collection was growing. . .heeheeheehee. . . Then there was that Rolling Stone cover. . .damn it, Dad, why don’t you buy THAT one? And then there was the Marvel comics adaptation of the film, which featured a scene of Leia trying to escape from her captor, straining her gorgeous. . .I’m going to stop here in the hopes that you know where this is heading. Incidentally, did you ever consider that the little boys who were six and seven when “Star Wars” came out were entering their teens when “Jedi” debuted. . .and subjected to the metal bikini? Coincidence? A master plan by George Lucas to keep “Star Wars” imprinted in the minds of its young audience? An interesting point that should be pondered at some other time.

Then People magazine had a cover story on Carrie, and included some photos of her hanging around her Hollywood home. Now here’s the most important part of this post. As I read the interviews with Carrie, I felt that she seemed like a fun person. Then I realized that I liked Carrie herself, and I liked the idea of just being her friend. This is important. Prior to this, many of the female movie and TV stars that I liked were liked for the wrong (but natural) reasons. But with Carrie, I didn’t dream of a “one-night stand.” I dreamt of a friendship. I realized that I liked her not only for her beauty, but for who she seemed to be. It was, in a sense, the first “mature” relationship with an adult woman that I ever had (or wanted to have, I know, bear with me). That was an important step. I was slowly growing up and understanding that natural attraction is only part of the picture.

In late 1984, Carrie starred in Faire Tale Theatre as "Thumbelina." And dang, she was cute. I liked that show a lot, although it was embarrassing to try to record it. Remember, there’s only one VCR in the house, and I have to beg to get permission to use it. But I remember watching it in the wee hours of the morning, and enjoying seeing Carrie as a “Disney Princess.” This was one of those times when you wished you could enter the TV picture.

For a kid who didn’t have any friends, my imaginary friendship with Carrie was something quite wonderful. It gives a guy a lot of courage when he’s always surrounded by a sexy slave girl. Well, she wasn’t always a slave girl. She usually just dressed that way for my rock band. I was lead vocal and occasionally guitar, Leia was backup vocal and occasionally guitar, and Ernie was on the drums. Bert would sometimes play backup guitar as well. Courteney Cox or Justine Bateman would occasionally take Leia’s place when she was busy. Oh, it was heaven, man. You should have heard us. I’ll have to make that compilation CD one of these days.

Prior to this, I had written a comic book story featuring Leia. It was quite a feat for me to draw a story with Leia in the bikini. It was a big leap for my cartoon stories, as this was the first “sexy” element I had ever drawn in them. It was (and is) embarrassing, and not very sexy as far as the art is concerned! But my “imaginary world” of comics now included an element of sexuality that wasn’t there before.

At the Del Mar Fair, somebody included an autographed photo of Carrie in their “Star Wars” collection. I was jealous! I wrote a fan letter to Carrie asking for an autograph- one of the first fan letters I ever wrote. A few weeks later, I received an autographed photo of Carrie myself. I immediately put it in a frame. It is one of my treasures to this day.

After “Jedi,” Carrie continued to act, appearing in many more films, most of which sucked. There’s no nice way to say it! There are notable exceptions (including a TV movie called "Liberty" that I‘d love to see again), but for the most part, Carrie’s films left a lot to be desired. It was hard being a Carrie fan, because you had to sit through so much garbage in order to see her.

In the summer of 1988, an auction fundraiser was scheduled to be held at Sea World in San Diego. Among the stars doing the auctioning would be Carrie Fisher. On the day it was to be held, I made an incredible announcement. I was going to try to attend! Then my brother said he was going to go with me! I called to reserve our places, and we drove down to Sea World. It was our first trip to Sea World without our parents. It was fun, but crowded. We saw Shamu and some other shows, waited in line for an hour to eat, etc. I had assumed that the auction would be held in a large stadium-like area at the Southeast corner of the park. But we later figured out that it would be held in a much smaller building near the center of the park.

After a few opening performances, the auction began. We saw Terri Garr and Dana Delaney and. . .there she was in person, Carrie Fisher! Be still my heart! I took several photos, most of which came out too shaky! Then the auction ended, and my brother and I did something amazing. We got up and walked up to the stage just as Carrie Fisher was walking off. There she was, right in front of me. I tried to say, “It’s an honor,” but it came out more like, “ahhhhhhhh. . .” I shook her hand. Her hand was small, and her skin was soft. She gave me her autograph, and handed the paper to my brother. We walked away from the stage and drove home. I was happy, but tired. My parents told us that evening that they had been worried sick about us. This, you see, was our first “big trip” somewhere without them. Carrie did not smile at me, nor run off with me at the sight of my handsome face. But I understood that this was too much to hope for, and I was not disappointed with our brief encounter. Once again, Carrie Fisher was helping me grow up.

Years later, Carrie would conquer the literary world with her first novel, “Postcards from the edge”, which featured an attractive photo of Carrie in the paperback edition, which is somewhere around here. . .anyway. It was loosely based on her life, which again has been covered by the media literally since the day she was born. The daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Carrie has endured the trials of being famous as well as the triumphs. She has abused drugs, and in some ways they have sadly abused her. She is bipolar, and goes through strenuous therapy to control it.

Carrie knows everybody in Hollywood. Seriously. You could probably meet just about every star you ever wanted to meet if you knew Carrie Fisher. One of my goals is to get invited to one of Carrie Fisher’s parties. It would be a star-studded event. I would probably be kicked out for asking for too many autographs.

Who do I like more- Carrie or Leia? Actually, I don’t like either of them “more”, because I don’t literally know either of them. The “Carrie” I have in my mind’s eye is different from either Leia or the literal Carrie. It is an ideal of the person who looks like Carrie that I would like to have as a friend. It is a dream.

I care very much for Carrie, and although any “romantic dreams” are pretty much history, the affection and happiness that she radiates still shines. I still would be happy just being a friend. That can’t happen, of course, but as far as imaginary friendships go, I’m thankful she is one of mine. I’m also thankful I had a very, very, very small moment with her in person. She likely doesn’t remember (especially after all that shock therapy). But she has had a role in my life that is almost as important as any of the real friends I have. At a time when nobody in the real world gave a damn about me, she did, if only in my dreams. Someday, I think we’re all going to understand that imaginary love is far better than no love at all. And Leia and Carrie makes a great imaginary lover.

I can see me now, sitting near the stage in the audience of her Broadway show. She looks down and sees me there. “Hi, Steve!” she says. “Hi, Carrie!” I reply. She turns to the crowd and introduces me as an old friend. Polite applause echoes through the theater. She urges me to stand. I do, and the light applause lasts a bit longer. I bow to the crowd and take my seat. The show continues. Later, after the show is over, I meet her backstage and we talk a bit. Then we hug and I go home. And I feel in my heart that I’m a lucky man for having a famous friend who cares about me. In real life, I won’t be able to attend the show, and Carrie doesn’t care about me this way. But it’s interesting. In my heart, I still feel that I’m a lucky man for having a famous friend who cares about me.


YAY VAL: Speaking of special girls, my friend Val became a mom this past week. She is a co-worker who appeared in my music video for “There is a light that never goes out.” Congratulations Val and family, and enjoy your complementary time off!


ON YOUTUBE: THE IMAGINARY HELICOPTER RIDE (AUDIO ONLY): Among my rare treasures is an audio recording of the famous “imaginary helicopter ride” with Maria and Bert from Sesame Street. You remember it, don’t you. DON’T YOU? Hmm. Well, even if you don’t, if you’re a fan of classic Sesame Street, you’ll enjoy listening to this. It captures some of the fun that the actors had together in the “good old days” on the show. It’s been posted by Johnnytbird and can be found in my favorites folder on my YouTube page.

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Loch Ness Monster

Since I was but a wee laddie who liked dinosaurs, I’ve been a fan of the Loch Ness Monster. I’ve sometimes found myself jealous of a gentleman who parked his RV at the edge of the loch and has devoted his life to trying to spot the monster. What a cool life. I don’t think he’s had much success yet, but talk about relaxing. Living at the edge of the water, watching the waves all day. I’ve been watching those waves via documentary for years. The child in me loves the idea that there might actually be something there. And why not? Any monster hunter can give you a list of reasons why it might be possible, despite all the supposed evidence that it isn’t possible. This is a good point. If you REALLY want to believe in something, you can almost always find proof for it. You can believe in Santa Claus if you REALLY want to. In fact, I’ve never been able to have anyone prove that Santa doesn’t exist! Unlikely, perhaps. But that doesn’t mean he’s not there! It’s the same with Nessie, Bigfoot and so many other things.

There was a recent documentary on Discovery channel (that I missed most of, darn it) about the monster which kind of demonstrates the problem. They were trying to figure out exactly what Nessie might be, and they came up with a theory: Nessie is a large sea turtle that has evolved a long neck. Okay. . .but sea turtles lay their eggs on land. So, they theorized that Nessie had also evolved the ability to lay its eggs in the water. Okay. . .but that would mean a breeding population of monsters in the loch. So, they theorized that Nessie also had the ability to lay pre-fertilized eggs, the way that Komodo dragon recently did. Hmmm. Even for evolution, this is a hell of a lot to ask. It’s stuff like this that makes you realize that evolution involves faith as well. This is one of many theories about Nessie that just doesn’t seem to hold water.

Here’s a theory you may not have heard before: Nessie is actually an orm. Of course, how obvious! Eh. . .what’s an orm? An orm is “simply a giant version of the common garden slug, an ancestor of the squid and octopus. A type of ‘Tullimonstrum gregarium, a creature with a shape of a submarine, with a broad tail.’ ” This was the theory of Ted Holiday, who studied the Loch for a time in the 1960s. Pictures of what the prehistoric orm may have looked like do indeed resemble Plesiosaurs. Why haven’t you heard of this theory before? Probably because later in life, Holiday began to believe that Nessie was actually a kind of paranormal vision rather than a real creature. So in a sense, he destroyed his own theory with another one that was probably a lot more crazy.

It’s important to note that Nessie was really made popular by newspapers in Britain. They’re the ones who published the earliest photos of Nessie, including the famous “Surgeon’s Photo,” seen above, which has now been pretty much proven as a fake. That fake photo was used as “proof positive” for many years. I recall one Nessie book going into great detail about how the waves seemed to indicate a large body underneath, and perhaps even another creature underneath. But the guy who helped prove that photo as a fake claims to have actually seen the monster himself. The mystery isn’t over.

If there’s a single spokesman for Loch Ness, it’s probably Adrian Shine. A John Muir look-alike, Shine came to the Loch to find Nessie, and instead found something just as beautiful- the Loch itself. He is an expert on the lake and is often interviewed by people looking for Nessie. Shine is the guy in the old Toyota commercial where a computer-animated Nessie attacks a Toyota truck, and the truck lives to tell the tale. Shine doesn’t believe in Nessie, but during “Operation Deep Scan,” a project he helped create, some unusual sonar readings were taken of moving objects deep within the Loch. But as he said they likely weren’t Plesiosaurs.

Some documentaries don’t go far enough. One Nessie documentary points out that the Plesiosaur needs to come up for air to breathe, and since we don’t see it happening more often, this proves that the Loch Ness monster does not exist. Wrong. It proves that the monster may not be a Plesiosaur. You need to be careful about the conclusions that some of these documentaries make. It may not be the final word.

One of my favorite documentary moments features an unusual reaction to seeing the “monster.” One woman, upon seeing the monster in the loch, took out a gun and shot at it! “In a panic, she reached for her gun,” the documentary states. Now unless the monster was heading directly toward you and licking its chops, I don’t see much of a reason to shoot at it! But the next day, she says that they did find a large sturgeon fish washed up on shore that had been shot. This adds to the theory that the “monster” may be nothing but a natural creature, like a large fish or an eel.

One seldom-seen documentary actually featured some folks documenting a Nessie practical joke. They took part of an overturned boat, and swam with it underwater until they got to the center of the Loch, then pushed the boat above the water for a time, making it move through the waters before submerging. Viewers on the shore did indeed consider it a Loch Ness Monster sighting. The documentary pointed out how easy it can be to create a Nessie hoax.

Let’s do our own mini-Nessie investigation. A photo above Loch Ness recently taken from Google Earth revealed an image of something unusual in the Loch. Is it Nessie? Let’s look at the photo:

The first item that we should notice is that this thing is white. I don’t think most monster hunters would describe Nessie as bright white. Most of what I’ve heard indicates that the monster has a dark skin. (Or does it? According to the article on, some people have said that the monster is white. Of course, these are the same folks who began to think that Nessie was a paranormal vision. So let the buyer beware.)

The second item we should notice is that there’s another weird white shape in the water below and to the left of the supposed monster! What is that? Another one? It doesn’t appear to have the shape of the first one. The fact that there are two weird white shapes in the water means that both likely have the same qualities - whether monsters or just reflections. Yet I haven’t heard anyone talk about the other weird shape. That’s probably because it doesn’t look like Nessie. They only want to look at the evidence they want to see.

The third item we should notice is the unusual way of “swimming” that this object has. Assuming it is heading to the Northwest of the photo, and taking into account the Plesiosaur theory, it means that the monster either has his head and neck down underneath the water, or he is swimming butt-first. I vote for butt-first. I think it’s Nessie’s way of saying, “Take that, you stupid people trying to take my picture!”

My beliefs on Nessie? It’s incredibly unlikely that something like a large unknown animal could live in the Loch without having been proven to exist by now. My logic says “no.” But the Loch is a mysterious place. I think there will always be a monster in the Loch, as long as people keep looking for it. If I ever get lucky enough to visit the Loch, I’ll look out over it and enjoy the beauty. I hopefully will have several hours of fun doing that. I likely will not see the monster. But that will not prove to me that he isn’t there.
ABE AU NATUREL: I wasn’t able (and barely willing) to attend the first D23 Expo in Anaheim. As someone put it, it was Disney’s version of the Comic Con. But everything I’ve seen makes it seem like it was a great event for all involved, with cameos by the muppets, Johnny Depp and others. One notable cameo was none other than Abraham Lincoln. Actually, it was the audio-animatronic robot of Lincoln that was used at Disneyland for many years. (And I understand Abe is scheduled to return to the Disneyland opera house very soon. I eagerly await his return.) Unfortunately, Mr. Lincoln did not give his stirring speech. He didn’t even bother to get dressed! Visitors could see the Lincoln figure with all its gears and wires fully exposed to the world. This must have been rather embarrassing for Abe. How would you like to have a bunch of people looking at your gears and wires all day? It also makes me realize that with its Hall of Presidents in Orlando, the Disney company has one of these figures for EVERY U.S. president. Which creates a rather scary picture. Whose gears and wires will we get to see next time? Reagan’s? Taft’s? Both Roosevelts? Both Bushes? We’ve already had “Let it be. . .Naked” by the Beatles. Is it time for “The Hall of Presidents. . .Naked?” “The Pirates of the Caribbean. . .Naked?” Let’s hope not. But you can enjoy some great photos and commentary on the D23 expo by checking out Todd’s fun post here: