Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 80

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 80

…Billy Graham bends the President Truman’s ear…

“Mr. President, we are approaching a slippery slope, a scenario in which religion is being pushed aside in favor of a godless society.” Billy Graham could not be more sincere.

“The Founding Fathers designed the Constitution around religious freedom, how can that be threatened?” wonders the leader of the Free World.

“There is spiritual warfare going on, Sir. Satan continues to exert his corruptive influence at every turn of man’s development and if he can assure his deceptions about evolution rule the day in America’s classrooms, God will essentially being shunted into an inconsequential corner, at least where the greater populous is concerned.”

Graham frames the danger with a story, “You are familiar with the analogy of the frog and the pot of boiling water, well the heat is being turned up on our people and they are ignorant of any danger. Before they know it, they will believe his pack of lies.”

“The devil you say? Like a rebellious child, he opposes God’s authority.”

“Yes the Devil and his minions. It seems to me that he is using the nation’s collective exhale from the horrors of the last war to swoop in and erode our moral fabric. And do not think for a moment that you aren’t a prime target for his misdeeds Mr. Truman. You are the leader of the free world, a world free to worship the God who created us in His own image. This nation looks to you for direction; an ethical President makes for a moral country.”

“And I thought Hiroshima had consequences,” Truman has quietly shouldered tremendous burdens in his service to the United States of America while not getting the credit for it. His dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur in the Korean Theater has people calling for his head, never mind all the other good stuff. “I had a discussion with my spy guy, Director Hillenkoetter, about the Libby Affair and he tells me they have an embedded agent, code name “Rogue”, deep inside the organization responsible and are in the process of penetrating the core leadership.”

An important ally has taken this matter to heart.

“Other than CIA involvement, I must leave a portion of this battle to those best equipped, like you and the Catholic Church. For my part, I will use my weekly radio address to reinforce the importance of God’s role in shaping the country and its policies… remind the people about why we fought for our independence… I might even use that ‘frog in a pot’ story, if you don’t mind.”

“The frog will never jump into already boiling water,” Graham underlines the punch line.

Harry Truman suggests, “That would be the President’s job.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 74

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 79

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 79

…The President’s Preacher…

As it turns out, The Libby Affair gets its own formal designation and has attracted the attention of those usually interested in only the biggest fish. Likely precipitated by the Italian Consulate and Ambassador to the United States Alberto Tarchiani, through Ambassador to Italy James Clement Dunn and up the food chain, the disappearance of Willard Libby, the death of the Pope’s brother and whispers of conspiracies all are attracting the eye of the White House. President Truman, already a lightning rod for controversy, has taken notice because of the “Preacher to Presidents” Billy Graham’s close involvement to the facts surrounding the Libby Affair.

In the course of their weekly devotional time, Graham points to the ethereal nature of the causes behind the affair and its evangelic tie-in, “I have had considerable dealings with all those involved in the mostly private investigation, no direct governmental concern, and I believe there are global consequences afoot.”

“Our Ambassador to Italy tells me of a recent visit by the Pope’s brother and his recent suspicious death. What details do you have to share with me,” Harry Truman needs an accurate assessment from a reliable source to know how to proceed.

“I would not be speaking out of class if I told you that I personally took interest in the meeting in Chicago, the one of which you refer to. Willard Libby was seeking the opinions of the Christian community about his very refined topic of the actual age of the Universe and our, I mean The Vatican and my, biblical interpretation. Considering all of our differences in doctrine, the single greatest area of agreement lay in the creation of mankind. We both laid out very similar views of creation’s timeline.”

“Why has this turned into a hornet’s nest Reverend Graham? Right now the free world is in a tug-of-war over the 38th Parallel and yet here I sit here with you like we are debating the merits of Sunday school.”

“Mr. President, we are approaching a slippery slope, a scenario in which religion is being pushed aside in favor of a godless society.”

“The Founding Fathers designed the Constitution around religious freedom, how can that be threatened?”

“The buck stops here” is a phrase that was popularized by U.S. President Harry S. Truman, who kept a sign with that phrase on his desk in the Oval Office The phrase refers to the fact that the President has to make the decisions and accept the ultimate responsibility for those decisions. Truman received the sign as a gift from a prison warden who was also an avid poker player. It is also the motto of the U.S. Naval Aircraft Carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75).


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 74

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 78

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 78

…no phone calls, telegrams, letters, walks along the Midway Plaissance or sit-down Chinese food…

“I hate to be the one to tell you Willard, but you are dead… sorry.” Constance delivers news few dead people ever hear.

“When is the funeral, I’d love to see who shows up.”

“I love that angle. Who could resist eavesdropping on a steady stream of science-types, speculating on what you were working on at the time of your death and about what a good guy you were?”

“Or listen to the whispers from the folks who only pretended to like you,” Libby is aware of the petty jealous nature of scientific research.

“I don’t want to burst your bubble, but the rest of the world knows you as merely missing. World Agnostica-001Your death, as an unidentified indigent in Elgin, is for the benefit of Wolfgram and the other Mastadon creepy creeps,” Constance clarifies. “Oh and by-the-by, it appears that misspelled Mastadon is a just a cheesy front for a more globally active organization named WORLD AGNOSTICA UNLIMITED.

Indubitably! Our ambassador to the U.N. warned me at Tolentine about some nefarious society with bad intent, so that doesn’t surprise me,” the former basket-case concludes. “So what am I supposed to do with myself while my friend Martin and his beautiful sidekicks are out defending Creation’s honor?”

Lay low, that’s all we ask. Your input is critical to our ultimate success, with your informational conference (in the future) as the dangling carrot for your cooperation, so no phone calls, telegrams, letters, walks along the Midway Plaissance or sit-down Chinese food. Martin will be your guardian and will help you from behind the scenes. He will be your mouthpiece, right Marty?”

“He hates being called Marty.”

“This is the real Willard Libby is, that proves it!” Fanny refers to how Eddie D. gets under Martin’s skin with that flippant nickname. “The hospital nicknamed you, Whacked-out Willy.”

Ouch!

From the mouth of babes…


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 73

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 77

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 77

I hate to be the one to tell you Willard, but you are dead… sorry

Tolentine

Tolentine Seminary

“There are diverse forces at work here and it is becoming larger than the people involved, I’m talking a monumental struggle,” Constance tells Libby something he already knows.

“That is exactly what Billy Graham told me at Tolentine. I would have never thought in, excuse me, “a million years” that a simple deductive scientific fact would cause such a commotion.”

Speaking of the Tolentine Summit, Constance has a sad update, “I must tell you something troubling Will, but Ernesto Pacelli was found hanged in Rome.”

“That is too bad, he was such a nice fellow, sure was protective of the Catholic Doctrine.”

“He was the Pope’s brother,” Constance interjects.

“You don’t say? He never let on to his lofty lineage. Modesty is in such short supply.” Willard Libby’s clarity has been miraculously restored, no visible signs of the trauma he had endured for weeks. He now must face a world that has given him a different role. “So you tell me I am dead.”

“We had to protect you while we sorted through some things and death seemed to be the best solution at the time, faked of course. WhenFM dumped you at Elgin State Hospital, they mysteriously tried to give you a chance to survive, when they had earlier done things to you that would make that result difficult. Dr. Steinberg agreed to go along with our plan,” Constance lays the groundwork for what is to come. “Had they killed you outright, which by not finishing you off demonstrates flawed logic, your carbon dating stuff may never have made it out from behind your Hemingway collection? The only other people who agree with your findings would have trouble defending their opinions; who listens to ‘religious zealots’ anyway?”

Sad but true.  Good news muddied by overenthusiastic do-gooders.

“I hate to be the one to tell you Willard, but you are dead… sorry.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 73

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 76

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 76

…“What is the date Martin?” asks the man who has been frozen in time…

“I don’t know how much you’ve understood about our conversations, but you are supposed to be dead, that is what Mastadon and most of Chicago is lead to believe, the rest of the world that cares thinks you are still missing. Either way we must keep you under wraps until we can know how to proceed from this point forward.”

FOREVER MASTADON — what a group of nuts that is!”

Can’t spell a lick, but they sure are potent,” Constance comments.

Spell Check 1951

“We found a scrap of paper with mastadon scribbled on it by you, but could not make the connection until recently.”

“What is the date Martin?” asks the man who has been frozen in time.

“January 4th. Do I need to add the year?”

“It should be 1951 by now, if it is not, I’ve lost more time than I realized.” He reflects on the passing of days, when they all run together. “How about that Wolfgram character, there is something greasy about him?”

Constance Caraway-001“No sign of him yet. He has left a trail, but that’s a story for another time.” Connie is happy to see the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. “By the way, my name is Constance Caraway and your escort is my partner Fanny Renwick.”

“I hired them after you went missing; the CPD (Chicago Police), DuPage County and Argonne security were no help whatsoever,” Martin explains

“I detect a bit of a southern accent, Miss Caraway is it?”

“Florida, Leon County.”

“Tallahassee I would guess?”

“Precisely Will, you may not remember but they were the investigators who fingered James East, the double agent at Argonne.”

“Splendid! The Manhattan Project was going too fast for its own good; I only knew half of the people involved in it.”

“We, Fanny and I are committed to see this thing through Mr. Libby. There are diverse forces at work here and it is becoming larger than the people involved, I’m talking a monumental struggle.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 72

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 75

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 75

…you are supposed to be dead, that is what Mastadon and most of Chicago is lead to believe…

“He wanted to come, seemed to recognize his surroundings, he pointed the way,” Fanny explains her actions.

Once inside the door, Libby just about leapt from his seat screaming and pointing at the wall of books, “Bell, bell!”

“That is what Doctor Steinberg told me he was saying…. Bell, do you mean one of these?”

“Bell!”

Constance goes to the wall, while Martin tries to cajole his friend. Alexander Graham Bell is there, as is the Liberty Bell, no bell peppers, but she makes her way to the Hemingway collection, pulling out For Whom the Bell Tolls, thereby exposing a legal sized manila folder to the light of day. Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises must also come away in order to get the bulky unlabeled envelope out.

Martin sees what she is doing and gallops to her side. Fanny tries to calm the frantic Libby, but cannot, as he leaves the wheelchair on his own, though his atrophied leg muscles fail to hold his weight. Bedlam has broken out with no notice.

“My paper…!” Willard Libby beckons like a shepherd finding that one stray sheep.

“Willard, are you… do you… I mean is that really you, back with us?” Martin is beside himself.

All he can do is cry tears of joy from the kneeling position, holding his face in his hands.

“It must be like coming back from the dead,” Constance is thrilled.

“How about being buried alive?” captive Libby adds to the subject himself. “I was screaming out to you at Steinberg’s House of Pain.”

“I don’t know how much you’ve understood about our conversations, but you are supposed to be dead, that is what Mastadon and most of Chicago is lead to believe, the rest of the world that cares thinks you are still missing. Either way we must keep you under wraps until we can know how to proceed from this point forward.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 71

“Jaws” Confidential – WIF @ The Movies

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Surprising Facts

About the Movie

“Jaws”

Jaws is often called the original summer blockbuster, so before the next glut of CGI-laden superhero movies fills screens worldwide, why not read a few lesser known facts about the OG blockbuster that set the precedent that allows them to exist? Starting with…

10. Jaws was a PG Release

Jaws is a film that contains a scene of a man being brutally eaten alive by a shark while screaming (fun fact: the actor supposedly broke his leg during that scene so the screams of pain you hear are real), people having the limbs shorn off, and the most iconic jump scare in cinema history. On top of this, the film also involves scenes involving drinking, smoking, swearing, and at least one instance of a shark eating a chubby kid on a raft. Amazingly, censors of the time saw all this and thought to themselves, yeah, this seems suitable for kids.”

Because yeah, Jaws was a PG rated movie, meaning anyone could go watch this thing so long as they had parental supervision, even if they were still at risk of pooping their pants literally instead of metaphorically. Think about that the next time you go watch an Avengers movie and realize it’s a PG-13 because Sam Jackson says the F-word.

9. It Originally Starred Dwarf Stuntmen

The undeniable star of Jaws is the shark, a role that was variously played by a notoriously unreliable mechanical shark (which we’ll get to in a moment) and several real sharks filmed by the crew. The problem was that the shark, who we’ll just call Jaws even though he had a name (which we’ll also get to), is supposed to be a shark of exceptional size, which kind of created a problem when the crew went to film some real Great Whites and realized they’d look noticeably smaller than their robo-shark. An ingenious solution was found in the form of several midget stuntmen.

The idea was to dress these stuntmen up in the same diving suits as the regular cast and film them next to some average-sized Great Whites, creating a forced perspective that made the sharks look super-huge and buff. To complete the illusion, the production team even built a smaller version of the shark cage seen at the end of the movie that the stuntmen were supposed to float around in. This cage wasn’t built as sturdily as an actual shark cage and as a result, before one of the stuntmen could climb inside it, a Great White tore it to pieces. This led to a total rewrite to ensure…

8. Hooper Survived Because Footage of the Cage Being Destroyed was Too Good Not to Use

The footage of a shark tearing apart the shark cage at the climax of the movie was 100% real and was so good Spielberg insisted that it had to go into the movie. The problem was that the original script called for Hooper to be inside the cage at the time, and for him to be killed in the ensuing attack, just like in the book. Another problem was that after seeing a shark tear apart a shark-proof cage none of the stuntmen would get back into the water.

Not wanting to lose the footage, a hasty rewrite was made to show that Hooper survived by swimming to the bottom of the ocean and hiding from the shark. This change also allowed the editors to use footage of the shark attacking from below (where it’s most obvious nobody is in the cage), framing it as if it’s from Hooper’s point of view as he cowered from the shark in a steadily growing cloud of his own urine.

7. Spielberg Laughed When He First Heard the Theme

John Williams’ theme for Jaws is one of the most iconic in all of cinema. Countless articles and academic papers have been written exploring the deceptive depth of the theme and how it affects those who hear it on an almost primal level. Though considered an integral part of the film’s success today, Spielberg was apparently not all that impressed with the theme when he first heard it, he laughed out loud when Williams played it for him.

You see, Spielberg had assumed that the film’s score would be more akin to that of a swashbuckling pirate movie and thought Williams’ minimalist take on the theme was too Spartan. However, Spielberg deferred to Williams’ judgement for final decision, apparently quipping “okay, let’s give it a shot” when Williams insisted the theme would work. We’re assuming Spielberg has never since question Williams’ judgement after the success of Jaws.

6. The Shark Sank the First Time it was Put Into the Water

As noted previously, the robo-shark used for many of the close-ups in the movie was unreliable to an almost comical degree. This is no better summed up than by what the shark did the very first time it was lowered into the water: it sank like a depressed brick of lead with concrete shoes. Apparently it hadn’t occurred to anybody to check if the shark floated while making it.

Along with sinking, the shark often malfunctioned and would sometimes simply stop working for no reason at all. This not only caused the movie to fall 100 days behind schedule, but also meant that half the shots of the movie involving the shark didn’t have the shark in frame.

Curiously, it’s been noted that the fact Spielberg had to film around the fact the shark wasn’t there most of the time, instead having to suggest its presence, made the movie better. Which kind of makes sense. The reason Jaws is such a scary movie is because there’s a constant threat that the shark could appear at any moment and chow down on your butt. If the shark had been on screen for 50% of the movie like Spielberg had originally planned, its few sporadic appearances would have had less impact. So yeah, when you watch Jaws and find yourself feeling on edge throughout the entire film, that wouldn’t be the case if the shark had actually worked and you could have seen how crappy it actually looked most of the time.

5. The Shark’s Name was Bruce

 The shark in Jaws is always referred to as either, simply, “the shark” or else Jaws, which is weird since throughout filming his name was Bruce. The name is supposedly a name coined by the the production crew as a nod to Spielberg’s lawyer Bruce Raynor who, like the shark, was a bit temperamental.

Spielberg himself wasn’t personally a fan of the name since, unlike the mechanical shark, his lawyer sometimes actually worked. So instead, he came up with an altogether more apt nickname considering the numerous mechanical faults the shark suffered throughout production:  The Great White Turd.

4. Spielberg Spent $3,000 of His Own Money for “One More Scream”

Jaws, hands down, contains one of the single greatest jump scares in cinema history. We’re of course talking about when Hooper finds Ben Gardner’s boat, and a big rubber head comes flying out of a shark shaped hole in the hull. That scene wasn’t in the original cut of the movie and was only added after Spielberg watched the audience reaction to the reveal of the shark at the film’s climax (the bit immediately prior to the “we’re gonna need a bigger boat” line), and realized the reaction wasn’t as intense as he’d hoped.

So Spielberg went back to the studio and asked for $3,000 to film another scene with a bigger jump scare and promptly got told not to do one. To be fair to the production company the film was 100 days behind schedule and over budget, so they were within their right to say no, but luckily for us, Spielberg didn’t take no for an answer.

With the studio refusing to pony up the cash, Spielberg decided to film the scene in someone’s pool using his own money. To make the water look more like the kind of place you’d find a sunken boat, Spielberg had the pool filled with milk powder and then put a big tarp over the top to limit the amount of light that got through to the bottom. Admittedly greedy for “one more scream” the director then instructed the sound engineers to make the jump scare happen before the music reached it’s natural crescendo, to make everyone poop their pants the first time they saw it.

3. It Had one of the Widest Releases of Any Film Ever

Jaws was, as noted, one of the first, if not the first, major summer blockbusters. In fact, prior to the release of Jaws and then

Star Wars a few years later, the summer was considered a low period for cinema since it was believed nobody would waste a ball-sweltering summer’s day sitting in a cool, air conditioned cinema. Oh, how wrong they were.

Upon release, Jaws set numerous records for having such a wide release, opening in some 400 cinemas on its first day. But here’s the really crazy part: Jaws was such a massive phenomenon that the number of cinemas screening it across the US more than doubled over the course of two months. This was unheard of back then and rarely, if ever, happens today since most films make the bulk of their money in the opening weekend. It’s a testament then to the sheer inertia of Jaws that after two months at the cinema, demand was still so high 500 more theatres decided to screen it, too.

2. It Kinda Ruined Sharks (and Beaches) for Everyone

As noted in the previous entry, releasing a film during the summer season used to be considered box office suicide since it was believed everyone would be too busy having fun at the beach. Jaws changed all that and during the summer of 1975 beach attendance fell nationwide.

The drop in beach attendance was credited to both the success of the film, which saw millions of Americans flock to cinemas, as well as the fact it kind of made it scary to go into the water. Speaking of which, the film is still criticized today for painting an unnecessarily harsh and objectively incorrect picture of sharks, which hardly ever attack humans. However, the success of Jaws saw shark attacks not only being reported upon more often (creating the false impression that they were more common than they actually are) but also a more negative perception of the animal, which led to many of them being killed for no real reason. All of which kind of leaves a sour taste in our mouths, so let’s end on something a little lighter, specifically that…

1. Michael Caine Loved the 4th Movie

To date Jaws has made more money and has a higher Rotten Tomatoes score than all three of its sequels combined. The fourth film in particular has an impressive 0% rating on the website, and is largely considered to be the biggest cinematic turd since the one Jeff Goldblum finds in Jurassic Park.

According to critics the film has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and is more painful to sit through than a prostate exam from a pirate with hand tremors. One person who disagress is Michael Caine, who has said of the film: I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”

Along with being paid a pretty penny for starring in the film, Caine has praised the fact that it features a realistic romance between two middle aged people (something that’s rarely seen in cinema) and enjoyed that he basically got a free trip to the Bahamas. In case you’re thinking that Caine is only positive about the film because he got a free vacation out of it, starring in the film caused him to miss the 1987 Oscars. And it’s important to note, he actually won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor that year, for the film Hannah and Her Sisters. In other words, Michael Caine had so much fun pretending to fight a giant, fake shark in a terrible Jaws sequel he didn’t mind not collecting the most prestigious award for acting in person.


“Jaws” Confidential

– WIF @ The Movies