Sunday, December 24, 2017

Digging for an Oak Island interview

... and like so many seekers in the past, I thus far have hit nothing.

But I completely understand given how the current season of The Curse of Oak Island has gone so far. The season opened with the tragic news that Craig Tester's teenage son Drake passed away. Rick Lagina was diagnosed with Lyme's disease. And the Money Pit appears to have been found. Lots to digest. Lots more to come.

I sent this interview request to Rick and Marty immediately after the season premiere, as I originally planned to, with very mixed feelings. I am a parent. I cried when we all learned about Drake's death. Yet, the Fellowship (as Marty calls them) was on the Island continuing the hunt, and what I was watching had actually happened many months earlier. Still, I almost didn't send it. I received a reply back stating the request was forwarded to the History Chanel. And that's where is stands and will likely continue to stand. But! You never know. So here's the interview I imagines before the start of the season. As you can imagine, I would make changes if a chance to secure the interview happened. read and enjoy the interview which one day will happen!

Hello Rick and Marty, 

First off, my family sends its condolences to the Tester family. I drafted this interview request prior to Tuesday’s premiere and the episode brought my wife and I to tears. We had no idea about Drake. I am a Dad and I cannot imagine what Craig is going through. We wish the Tester family and you all strength and peace. If there is anything we can do let us know. 

My name is Sam Girdich. I am a writer, blogger, history & science buff, and co-founder of the sequential art/graphic novel project Strongarm Labs. I would like to interview you for my blog.

I understand your time is valuable, so my interview format is quick and easy. I pose three questions, and then perhaps one or two short follow-up questions if your replies lend to them. And that’s it. I do not edit your replies. Not a word is touched. Plus, I will send you a full copy of the interview before posting it so you see exactly what the readers will see, as you have the final word to publish it or not. My goal simply is to have fun and provide an avenue for myself and others to learn something new.
I invite you to visit my blog (Lab Work) to review my work and Facebook page. In fact, I interviewed Robert Clotworthy, your show’s narrator, earlier this year. Find that interview here. I want you to know you can be comfortable having your names on my sites.

Here’s what I have for your interview intro and your questions:

One more attempt. Just one more push. What if it takes just one more try…and we don’t take it. If there is a stronger motivation behind the efforts of brothers Rick and Marty Lagina, then I can’t figure it out. They were children in the late 1960’s when an article in Reader’s Digest on Oak Island, its treasure seekers, and the Money Pit staked a claim on the young Michigan natives. Decades later they made the leap from daydreams to binding contracts by joining the business entity that controlled most of the island, thereby becoming the modern faces of the Island’s mystery. What have they found? What are they hoping to find? Is there anything to actually discover? Watch The Curse of Oak Island on The History Channel to find out. 

Sitting off the Eastern coast of Canada is a dollop of land called Oak Island. While many aspects of its recent past are known, such as who owned land where and when from the early 1800’s forward, the activities on the island even until relatively recent times is quite another story. For example, Google alone yields over 900,000 hits for “Oak Island Nova Scotia”. I gave up keeping track of the all the different versions of how the treasure hunt began and what it could be! Like the idea of Spanish treasure? The island has hints of that. Like the idea of Templar treasure or the Holy Grail? The island has hints of that. Like the idea of a conspiracy to hide the truth of who really wrote the works of William Shakespeare? The island has hints of that. Like the idea nothing of value is there? The island has hints of that, too. You simply have to know how to look for the signs. It is like a Stanley Kubrick film in that way; it is what it is at face value until you poke a little. Except, of course, that even Kubrick films have an ending. There comes a time to leave the theatre, ticket in butter stained hand as proof for all the world to see. Oak Island, however, is like a Kubrick film where you suddenly find yourself driving home emptyhanded wondering what happened and what you missed. Come back, calls the island. I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for next time. Therein lies part of the undying interest in the place. It is part Rorschach test, part Clickbait.

So, let’s start with what is generally agreed upon as the timeline of the mystery as graciously found here: (Enjoy this timeline and virtual tour. Rick and Marty’s partnership -along with a few other backers- with the work and lifetime experiences of Dan and Dave Blankenship formed Oak Island Tours in 2007. Oh yes, YOU can go there.) 1795 is the year thought of as the starting point of our tale. While I want to be as specific as possible, we honestly have little information on what actually happened in what I think would have been the Summer or Fall of that year. Three men of undetermined age named McInnis, Vaughn Jr, and Smith rowed to Oak Island. Some accounts say they saw lights on the island and went to investigate like Scooby Do-esque meddling kids. While there they discovered an odd, round depression in the ground located beneath the remains of a tackle or pulley. Thinking perhaps something was lowered into the ground they started digging only to find a barrier of logs. They removed the barrier and dug deeper only to strike another. And then another. Word eventually spread of their discovery and a mystery was born. But how? you may ask. Keep digging and mystery solved! You would think so, but no. Various parties took ownership of the land and the Money Pit over the years and dig deeper they did. Tantalizing clues were found, such as a stone tablet with coded writing. Yet in true Oak Island fashion, as greater progress was made the tunnel suddenly flooded with sea water from what might have been a trap. Thus, began a cat and mouse game with the island which crept across its surface and continues to this day. The story is much more detailed than this summary, remember. Men have died in the quest for the assumed treasure. Odd circumstances abound and I don’t say that lightly. Just ask a young Franklin D. Roosevelt what he thought of Oak Island. Oh yeah, that’s him on Oak Island. Time for YOUR research to begin.  

So here we are in current year. The History Channel has premiering the fifth season of its reality series The Curse of Oak Island chronicling the most recent attempts to crack a mystery which refuses cracking. Cutting edge technology, blood, sweat, and millions of dollars have yielded only more hair pulling questions. Table scraps, some might say. Tastes of something but nothing concrete like the aforementioned movie ticket. Will this season be the final season in the true and real sense? Is the treasure tangible or will the curtain be pulled back to reveal only the imagination of the human mind? Honestly, I cannot wait to find out. An answer is a treasure in and of itself.
Let’s begin our own dig.


1. Regarding Dan Blankenship and Fred Nolan. These men, and their families to be fair, poured their lives into the uncovering the past of Oak Island. The scope of their work cannot be understated. Is there a lesson or example to take away from their efforts, and if so what is it?

      2. There is a line of thought called the Law of Unintended Consequences. It is a warning against the unanticipated results of actions. Have you ever considered the ramifications of solving Oak Island? Is there a downside or a theory you’ve heard you hope is NOT the answer?
3. You were inspired by an article. Kids today have several seasons of television plus the well of the internet to draw from. What examples might you have set for future generations of mystery seekers and delvers into the past?

Many thanks to Rick and Marty. Life is busy and complex enough without added mysteries to wrestle with. And while you dive into rabbit hole of oak Island, perhaps vino will grant you much needed insight. Visit their vineyard and select a bottle to match your taste. For as Martin Luther said, “He who loves not wine, women and song remains a fool his whole life long.”

And that’s it!
Like I said, fun and quick. I will draft the summary based on your answers to place a nice bow on the package. Thank you again for your time. I have enjoyed your work much more than I can express.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
Have a great night.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Frosty the Snow Golem

 That's a +5 Pipe! Use Burning Hands! USE BURNING HANDS!

Man, I loved the Burning Hands spell. Meme from Yours Truly.
He was a golem. You know he was a golem. Thank God the kids didn't put the hat on a pile of rocks, or an old car, or a scarecrow. I suspect the story would have had a very different ending...

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Voyager 1 fires thrusters silent since Jimmy Carter was President

Copyright NASA

November 4th, 1980. Ronald Reagan defeats incumbent Jimmy Carter to become the 40th President of the United States

November 8th, 1980. Voyager 1 fires its trajectory correction maneuver thrusters (a secondary system called TCM's for short) to tweak its Saturn pass-by after launching on September 5, 1977.

Copyright NASA
November 28th, 2017. NASA attempts to fire up the TCM's after 37 years of silence only to learn THEY WORK! After BILLIONS of miles in space exposed to dust and radiation and solar winds THEY WORKED! I'm lucky if my riding lawn mower starts on the first try after a single winter. And that's after a three-hour prep.

Here's some of NASA's press release. Click >>  Voyager  << for the full piece.

"On Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, Voyager engineers fired up the four TCM thrusters for the first time in 37 years and tested their ability to orient the spacecraft using 10-millisecond pulses. The team waited eagerly as the test results traveled through space, taking 19 hours and 35 minutes to reach an antenna in Goldstone, California, that is part of NASA's Deep Space Network.

Lo and behold, on Wednesday, Nov. 29, they learned the TCM thrusters worked perfectly -- and just as well as the attitude control thrusters.

"The Voyager team got more excited each time with each milestone in the thruster test. The mood was one of relief, joy and incredulity after witnessing these well-rested thrusters pick up the baton as if no time had passed at all," said Barber, a JPL propulsion engineer."

NASA is trying to extend the work life Voyager 1 by a few more years. Adjusting the orientation of the probe -via the thrusters- will bring its antenna dish back into proper alignment with Earth to improve the probe's data stream. FROM 13 BILLION MILES AWAY. I LOVES ME THE CAPS LOCK KEY! For the full mission history visit NASA's Voyager 1 Mission Page.

Keep this in mind, this probe and its sister Voyager 2 were launched in September 1977 using late 60's/early 1970's tech. The people who made these had 8-track players in their cars, wore bell bottoms, and still managed to hit multiple targets over 746 million miles away (1.2 billion km) away. For my younger readers, let me put September 1977 into historical/pop culture perspective.

By September:

* Star Wars is six months old.* Apple as a corporate entity is ten months old.
* Jimmy Carter has been President for ten months.
* Tandy's TRS-80 home computer hits the market that same month.

That same year:

* January's television viewers tuned into a new mini-series on ABC called Roots.
* March saw humans finally realizing Uranus has rings.
* April's music scene sported the debut album of a group called The Clash.
* May saw the opening of both Chuck E. Cheese and Space Mountain.
* July saw a twenty-five-hour long power outage in New York City. That did not end well.
* August saw the Space Shuttle Enterprise make its test flight, SETI picks up the "Wow!" signal, and Elvis dies, er, fakes his own death.
* September saw the drafting of the Interpol copyright warning we see at the beginning of movies.
* October sees the effective wiping out of smallpox.
* December saw the first children's cable channel called The Pinwheel Network. You know it today as Nickelodeon.

The Walkman and Pac-Man? About two-years down the road in the future. You get the idea.

Let's take a little tour thanks to the Voyager, and by extension all the men and women who made it possible.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Nightmare Before Christmas on Broadway?

copyright Disney
The Nightmare Before Christmas might not sit with Rudolph on the top of Holiday Special Mountain, but based upon a 92% favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes and its ever present presence on Hot Topic shelves it is not far behind.

Tim Burton penned the original poem that grew into the 1993 Bass-Rankin inspired stop-motion classic, with fellow artisan Henry Selick as director. Burton has said the seed of the tale came from watching how marketing for Halloween and Christmas has increasingly collided with each other despite their two month separation. With striking visuals, a solid script well voice acted, awesome music and...what am I doing?! This is a movie whose title gets 15.9 million hits on Google. It has been made into video games. It has been translated into at least a dozen languages. Disney transforms its Haunted Mansion attractions into Halloween Town every year! Is there anyone reading this post who DOESN'T know of this film?

Okay, if you haven't then watch the original trailer and accompanying song to decide if this tale of 'being true to yourself' might worth your time. Both clips copyright Disney and so on and so forth.

For those who are familiar with the movie, have you ever thought about a live action version? I know that might sound like a stretch because I know it never crossed my mind.

Good for you, Han. Disney owns you too, ya nerf herder.

But! If The Evil Dead, Spider Man, Monty Python (Spamalot), Heathers, Lestat, The Adams Family, and Carrie can make the awkward, sometimes painful leap to the stage than why not a work already filled with spectacle and music? Why not, indeed. And it might look something like this....

Granted this is a concept piece, but I think you can see it has legs. Matthew Patrick Davis stars as Jack Skellingon with Nicole Hawkyard* as the all too briefly seen Sally. The video comes from Matthew's YouTube channel which states he and Nicole developed the production as fans to the original. Not everyone I've shown this too liked it, but most did. Those who didn't largely stated there was no need to present the source material differently. I get it that. I do. It wasn't the performance, it was that it was being performed differently. Fair enough. I have my own favorites I never want touched, as you probably do. On the other hand I say, "Well Done!" The creators took source material they liked and tried to manifest it well. Jack doesn't look like the "I like turtles" meme kid. I respect that.

Good for you, Cap. Disney owns... oh, you get the idea.
Back to the point: Watch the video with an open mind and try to appreciate the work and its spirit.  Can't ask anything more of you than that, gentle reader.

Be seeing you.


*Matthew and Nicole have IMDB pages highlighting some of their work if you want to see what else they've done.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Rest Stop - Horror flash fiction

I freely admit my vision was rounded by fatigue and my thinking muddled with the distance I had traveled that night, but there are things under heaven and earth whose form and being can cut to the soul of a man despite, or perhaps because of, his clouded perceptions. I steered my vehicle into the rest stop seeking respite from the road and to flex my aching limbs when my dimmed senses told me mine was the only car present. A not-so-uncommon occurrence, as any practiced traveler of rural New York byways will confess, but for some reason there was an odd discomfort at this discovery. I brought my vehicle to a stop and proceeded to exit. No sooner had I opened my door when the uneasiness suddenly increased. (With hindsight, I now place the strange discomfort in the realm of an ancient danger sense; a forgotten attribute from a time when man was vulnerable to threats beyond those of tooth and claw.) I wish I could blame my not fleeing on a tired mind, but honesty compels me to confess my pride would not allow me to act like a frightened child in a dark hallway. And so, I stepped out. The lights struck me first. They seemed to be casting only half their potential, but the shadows around me were full and sharp. Even the size of the restrooms seemed diminished somehow. It was as if the light was passing through something foreign it was unaccustomed to.

This is stupid, I chided myself. Stop it!

However, when the sound of the passing traffic fell upon my ears for the first time after taking several steps I felt real fear. The noise should have seemed only a few dozen yards away. Instead is sounded miles in the distance. I was instantly seized with a horrid sense of isolation. Not merely of being alone, but of being beyond reach. 

Run! Flee! Flew through my mind as impulses without words. I stepped back toward my vehicle when motion caught my eye. I looked around never halting my retreat, frantic to find the unseen source, but saw nothing. Only when I felt the cool comfort of ordinary metal behind me did I turn. And thus, nearly died. For when I turned I met the gaze of a creature perched upon the roof of my car! Its dark thick-ridged body moved with small ripples from under what I think was skin. The worst of it was not the three legs it squatted upon, nor even the two-clawed pseudopodia that darted and swayed toward my face. 

It was its eyes.

They shone with a dull bluish glow. They were almost square and set far apart as the singular feature of its broad, rounded head. They were fixed. They were intelligent. They saw me

I screamed a guttural terror so great it felt my head would not contain it. The creature watched unmoved for an eternal instant before suddenly flowing up into the air without any visible means. As my eyes followed the apparition upwards a second sight sent me reeling. Indeed, it was this subsequent image that filled me as I sped away forever from that cursed spot, for when my thoughts are not staring into those glowing eyes they are fixed upon a night sky with two moons.