Archive for April, 2011

They Live” … again?

According to an interview in Salon, “Rowdy” Roddie Piper has been approached by producers seeking to make a remake of “They Live”.

There’s been talk about a remake of “They Live.” Have the potential producers been in touch with you?

Yep. We’re going to have lunch after this trip to Denver.

They Live” worked so well because of the underlying satirical political message: one wonders if the same message would be repeated?

Post-Hypnotic Suggestion’ — “The Two Ronnies”

The Two Ronnies” was a British comedy team of Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett. Their BBC program of the same name involved a variety of different comedy modes, including sketches, monologues, serials and the show closer, a parody of news programs. Short jokes (Ronnie Corbet was significantly shorter than his partner) were also a stock component of their repertoire.

Ronnie B: And now a sketch about an enormous embarrassment at a small, intimate party. Ronnie Corbett will play the small, intimate party.
Ronnie C: And Ronnie Barker will play the enormous embarrassment.

Their most impressive production was “The Picnic”, a half-hour show, the day in the life of a minor noble family and their servants, which had no dialog just sight and sound gags. The series is available in DVD only in Region 2 PAL formats.

⇒ Continue reading “Post-Hypnotic Suggestion’ — “The Two Ronnies””

RIP Elisabeth Slayden

The BBC has announced that Elisabeth Slayden, who played Sarah Jane Smith, one of the Doctor’s longest-running companions on the British series Doctor Who and its spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures, died on April 19th. She was 63.

Commentary: Sarah Jane Smith was not the first Companion I saw, but she was by far the most memorable one of my early Doctor Who experiences. Cheekily impersonating her scientist aunt to infiltrate UNIT, she quickly became a part of the team and a constant companion to the mysterious Doctor for three and a half seasons. It was that longevity that resulted in another record: Sarah Jane Smith was probably the most hypnotized, mesmerized and mind controlled Companion, to the point she was tremendously annoyed at it.

I must be mad. I’m sick of being cold and wet and hypnotised left, right and centre. I’m sick of being shot at, savaged by bug eyed monsters, never knowing if I’m coming or going… or been… I want a bath, I want my hair washed, I just want to feel human again… and, boy, am I sick of that sonic screwdriver. I’m going to pack my goodies and I’m going home…”

The episodes of hypnotic interest are:


The “Bridey Murphy” phenomenon

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History: It all started with a simple phone call and it ended with a world-wide phenomenon.

Morey Bernstein was the third-generation owner of a hardware distribution company in Denver. One evening in 1951, while working on a publicity campaign, he received a phone call. The caller introduced himself, said that he was stranded at the Denver Airport and said that his uncle said to call Morey if he needed anything. Morey recognized the name the caller mentioned, one of his best customers: all thoughts of the campaign were put aside as Morey drove out to the airport to pick up his guest.

At a loss as to what to do with him, Morey remembered a party that evening and decided to escort his guest there. At the party, his guest mentioned that he was a college student studying psychology and especially hypnosis. He proceeded to demonstrate to his unbelieving audience on a volunteer with excellent results: for instance, the woman volunteer, at the end of the demonstration, was profoundly surprised to discover her stocking in her hand and not on her foot. To say that Morey was fascinated with this demonstration of hypnosis was putting it mildly: he quickly obtained and read every book on the subject he could find and practiced on his friends and neighbors.

One of the volunteers was a neighbor woman named Virginia Tighe (in the book, she is named Ruth Simmons.) During one of his practice sessions,Virginia spontaneously began talking about a past-life experience as a woman named Bridey Murphy. Bridey was an Irish woman born around 1796, living in Cork, Ireland. He would record several sessions of Virginia recounting her past life and would then collate and publish them in a book he named “The Search for Bridey Murphy”, as well as later releasing a record of one of his sessions.

The book was a sensation. It was a massive best-seller, the popularity of which put the subjects of hypnosis, past-life regressions and reincarnation into or back into the public consciousness. As with Coué in the 1920’s, the Bridey Murphy story made the public aware of hypnosis again. Television having a limited reach at the time, hypnosis was largely confined to stage shows and movies that at the time were largely comedies or mysteries, nothing that would connect hypnosis to the average American. In addition, the subject of past-life regression was largely unknown and reincarnation was known in some small way to the general public, but it was a foreign subject, something associated with Eastern religions and philosophies. To have it all happen to a middle-class American woman was something unprecedented, and that connection to the average American opened up each concept to the public. As a result, there was a markedly increased interest in both hypnosis and reincarnation: reincarnation parties (not only “come as you were” costume parties but group inductions and past life regressions) became the latest fad, and movies involving hypnosis and reincarnation like “The She-Creature” (1956) and The Undead (1957) and books about reincarnation such as “The Search for the Girl With Blue Eyes” (1968) by Jess Stearn soon appeared, which also played on that interest.


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The book was turned into a movie, starring Teresa Wright and Louis Hayward. It was largely a documentary-style recounting of the story of how Morey became interested in hypnosis, jumping almost immediately then to his sessions with Virginia combined with re-enactments of her past-life regression story. (What I find amusing is the stereotypical “swinging watch” motif in the poster and cover artwork for the movie.)

But once the book was published, people starting checking into the story of Bridey Murphy and finding some glaring discrepancies in Virginia’s recounts of her past-life. There are a number of questions about the existence of a person named Bridey Murphy and of the flaws in what Virginia recounted about Bridey and her life and time period.

  • There is no record of any person named Bridey Murphy of that time period: although records are incomplete for that era, as the wife of a lawyer, she would be expected to have a will, which would have been recorded. Nor was there any notice of her death (in 1864) in the (more complete) newspapers of the time.
  • Far too many of the details of her past life she recounted don’t match up with recorded history: items she described were not introduced into Ireland until much later, customs she described were not followed by Irish culture, places she named and described did not exist at that time, and people she named (whose existence can be verified) could not be found. Others that were described were found, but they also were only in existence much later than the period of Bridey Murphy.
  • Too many of the pronunciations, language, foods and idioms she used do not date from that period or Irish culture in general: in fact, many appear to be either Americanisms or adaptations over time from the original.
  • Too many coincidences exist between the mundane life of Virginia and the past-life of Bridey: for instance, Virginia’s husband’s middle name is Brian, as is Bridey’s, and Virginia knew an Irish woman named Bridie Murphy Corkell as a child.
  • Many of the references that can be confirmed are geographical, which changed little in the years between the time of Bridey and the present, and so are unusable as evidence when the possibility of contemporary cultural contamination is present.

As for Morey, he abandoned hypnosis after this and returned to business, although he continued to express his belief in Bridey Murphy. But there is no doubting the impact of that one phone call and what happened thereafter on the public. Hypnosis came back into the public eye and never really left, even though the prejudices and misconceptions remained (and remain in large part even to this day.)

Commentary: Unfortunately, any current attempt at any kind of objective exploration of the particular subject has been lost in time. Investigations at the time as to the reality of the Bridey Murphy story have uncovered a number of holes and anachronisms in the story, and claims and counter-claims and debunking and counter-debunking has continued ever since.

As for my opinion, I take the Occam’s Razor approach and assign it to stories Virginia heard from her neighbor and from her own Irish parents (with whom she lived for the first three years of her life.)

Recommendation: For its historical value alone, the book is recommended.

Additional Material:

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A Milestone (of sorts)

Or perhaps a millstone of sorts: it can be a little of both.

I just passed getting my 2,000th spam comment. Not exactly sure what that means, but I’m sure other blogs have equally as annoying spam, if not even more of it. I guess having an obscure blogging topic can be a blessing at times.

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