Category Archives: Updates

August You Choose Topic: The ‘Real Indiana Jones’

Hey all, the You Choose episode for August will be a choice from one of the following.

 The newspapers tell me Indy is turning 40 this year – Raiders of the Lost Ark of course released in 1981. My understanding is, while Spielberg and Lucas have spoken at length on the fictional influences on the character (everything from Charlton Heston in The Secret of the Incas, to early Scrooge McDuck.. in both cases check out that hat and jacket!), it’s always been assumed several real life adventurers were also in the mix. 

Sooner or later I’m bound to write on Percy Fawcett and his Lost city of Z, so I’m taking him out of contention… Roy Chapman Andrews, Hiram Bingham III, Carl Akeley? etc I don’t know. Maybe we’ll get to those guys if Tales runs long enough… In a couple of decades maybe? 

Ok, Carl Akeley in less than a paragraph. Akeley was the taxidermist who stuffed Jumbo the elephant, after Jumbo was killed by a train. He went on safari with Teddy Roosevelt; and once choked an attacking leopard to death with his bare hands – not getting at all wounded in the exchange (see picture).. A lot of the ‘real life Indy’s’, I think, could be similarly covered… Most of them are interesting, but few of them have ever struck me as being as interesting as a Henry Morton Stanley, Richard Francis Burton or even a Mungo Park. 

Some characters however, seem very worthy of this own short Tale.

One – Frederick Russell Burnham. 

 Not only did he literally teach Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, a thing or two, and serve as an inspiration for H.Rider Haggard’s Allan Quartermain, he got into a load of scrapes across the globe. Burnham was involved in the Pleasant Valley War (a Wild West feud mentioned briefly in the post on Tom Horn), and the Apache Wars before moving to South Africa where he… well, vote to find out. 

Two – Giovanni Batista Belzoni.

An Italian giant, and one time circus strongman with a formal education in civil engineering – Belzoni made one hell of a grave robber. Among the items he stole away with is that famous 7 tonne bust of Ramesses II everyone has probably seen at some time or other. He had many adventures in Egypt, before travelling to West Africa… Want to know more? Vote Belzoni.  

Voting Closes midday NZ time 21st June 2021.

Update: My upcoming ‘Today in History’ project

Hi all just a quick update.

First, apologies ahead of time – this week’s blog + podcast post on rocket pioneer and occultist Jack Parsons may run a little late. It ran longer than expected and will be a two parter. Part one is written up. The podcast episode is recorded and waiting for second pass editing tonight.
All going well I’ll release both on Wednesday… otherwise it’ll be a Thursday release?

Second, I’ve been thinking about doing a series of one minute ‘Today in History’ videos on YouTube. My plan is to do three or four month’s worth on my next break from the blog (in 6 weeks’ time) with a new video for every day of the year.

Check out the ‘pilot’ below. Please leave me some feedback on the video – Simone

You Decide – Lucan v Boggs

Hey all – from the next season of Tales of History and Imagination (both the blog and podcast) I’m bringing in a semi- regular ‘You Decide’ episode where you – the reader, or listener – get to choose the subject of the Tale.

I’ll be completing, then advertising the Patreon – and when the Patreon reaches a tipping point these will become ‘Patreon Decides’. Until then everyone gets a vote.

The first You Decide will be released 2nd June 2021. The theme, mysterious disappearances. The two choices

Lord Lucan – a British peer who disappeared 7th November 1974 – having attempted to kill his estranged wife… and succeeded in killing the children’s nanny, Sandra Rivett. Rumours persist to this day as to the whereabouts of the murderous peer.

or

Hale Boggs – The House majority leader, and representative for Louisiana’s 2nd district who mysteriously vanished with Alaskan congressman Nick Begich – while aboard a small plane. Did someone want the men dead, and how much bother would they go to, to ensure Boggs and Begich never made it back alive?

Voting starts now (below), and will run till midday May 1st. Please check out the YouTube video I made for the vote also. – Lucan v Boggs, who do YOU choose?

Little Richard- the architect of Rock & Roll – bonus tale

Just a quick note ahead of this blog post. I did have a plan next week Thursday to drop another Tale of Rock & Imagination bonus piece – a piece I’ve got sketched out but will hold off on for another week. I was also planning another episode of this Rock & Imaginaton series for a few weeks’ time and calling it something like ‘Sex & Religion’ or something similar. In it I wanted to discuss people like Big Mama Thornton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Johnnie Ray…. maybe Jackie Shane? and in it share a story of a Sister Rosetta gig in Macon Georgia – some time in 1946 or 47 where she invited some 14 year old kid up on stage with her to play a few songs – and how this young, flamboyant kid was dynamite and would go on to revolutionize popular music. Seeing that kid has just passed this does seem timely. Apologies dear readers I’m pasting my Facebook post up here today, unvarnished as it is. RIP Little Richard.

Sad news this morning to read ‘the architect of rock and roll’ Little Richard has passed on. Musically, over the space of a little over two years he turned out several of the greatest rock songs ever. As a person I think it has to be said this vibrant, larger than life personality lived a life often darkened by the caprices of his strict pentecostal upbringing, and his thuggish church deacon father who never accepted his bissexual, non-binary child. This caused Richard to vacillate between his true, authentic self, and the man his God, or his father, or the congregation demanded of him.

There was Little Richard, the flamboyant, iron lunged piano thumper – came up through the carnival circuit opening for snake oil salesmen, then on to a drag revue before being discovered by Specialty records. Androgynous, flashy, overtly sexual. A preacher of the gospel of free love, good times and hedonism. The kind of guy who would write a song about having sex in an alley with a drag queen (Long Tall Sally) and just smile to himself knowingly when stuffy old Pat Boone stole his song……

Then there was Richard Wayne Penniman, deeply religious and terrified he was going to hell – aboard a ferry in Australia in October 1957. The Russians had just launched Sputnik days earlier, he had just endured an extremely turbulent flight to Aussie. Sputnik had been playing on his mind all night and he had been having nightmares of apocalyptic fireballs, hellfire and thunder. This Richard stood at the edge of the boat throwing $100,000 worth of jewellery overboard and proclaiming as soon as this tour was over he was done with rock and roll, boyfriends and partying – he would go on for some time to become a preacher.

I love Richard’s music, feel a little sad to think of the turmoil he must have gone through in life. No doubt will be playing some Little Richard around the house today.

…. What I wish the 15th March 2019 was remembered for…

Hey folks just a quick note from my desk at my day job. To those pouring scorn on the kids today:

February 1 1960, four black teens took it upon themselves to sit down in whites only seats, at a lunch counter in a Woolworths in North Carolina. These four young men, Ezell Blair jr, Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil and David Richmond refused to be moved and were arrested for their civil disobedience. Within days 300 black students sat at the same counter, refusing to move, and within weeks this scene played out in 50 American cities. This WAS an important step leading towards the Civil Rights act of 1964.

Likewise, the Soweto Uprising of June 16, 1976, became an important step towards the abolition of apartheid in South Africa – Thousands of protesters took to the streets in protest of being forced to speak Afrikaans in the schools. Police sparked international outrage when they shot into the crowds, an image of a young boy, Hector Pieterson’s body being carried away the final straw for many businesses – who started to boycott the country after this.

Never forget, days after the Berlin wall came down in 1989 Czechoslovakia demanded their independence from the USSR. Who instigated this movement, which culminated with 500,000 citizens out on the streets of Prague to demand their independence? The kids.

From campus protests to black lives matter, from Tiananmen square to Iran in 1999 the kids have been showing us adults what standing up for your rights looks like. Today in New Zealand, as around the world lately, they are standing up for Mother Earth. My message to other oldies like myself, never underestimate what the kids can accomplish.. and to the kids thank you for stepping up on an issue of existential proportions, if we want an Earth, and continued life then someone needs to step up. I for one am glad it’s you, past experience has shown you guys have made all the difference.