Lucifer – New Series with Tom Ellis

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A new series has popped up on Fox and it’s grabbed my attention. What if the devil got bored with ruling the Underworld, took a vacation, appeared in Los Angeles and set up shop as a club owner? And what if Lucifer got paired up with a detective that both baffled and intrigued him? What if he wanted to solve crimes, not to bring peace to the victim, but to make sure justice was served on the guilty? And what if some of his methods were a touch on the unorthodox side?

Well, that’s what we’re looking at. And the ironic thing is, the devil is quite honest about who and what he is. He introduces himself as Lucifer Morningstar, a God given name (wink wink), says he immortal, claims to have a way with people so they tell him their deepest, darkest secrets, and makes plenty of references to "you humans", "wrong deity", and "our father". But no one seems to pick up on these clues and just thinks he’s a little quirky. He’s gone a little Hollywood apparently.

I think the show is off to a fine start with Tom Ellis playing a mischievous, but not evil little devil, who is out to have a good time and is doing his best to stave off boredom. Since he still has his powers, why not punish the guilty and enjoy a bit of wine, women and song.

Of course, there has to be a few wrinkles. You don’t just get to take a vacation from the Underworld and he’s reminded that his presence is requested before things get out of hand. Additionally, he’s taken a bit of a shine to the detective that seems resistant to his charms. And dare we say, he might be developing some feelings or at least compassion for these human creatures and may be starting to enjoy his time down here on earth.

Let’s not forget, Lucifer is also seeing a psychologist to work out a few existential problems.

If you’re in the mood, Lucifer is making an appearance on Monday’s.

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Ghost Adventures – Black Dahlia House – S12E01

image To kick off the new season, Zak and the gang delve into the mystery of the Black Dahlia and head to the location where the murder of Elizabeth Short may have taken place. They’re at the home of George Hodel, suspected murderer of Elizabeth and a doctor who may be linked to other murders.

As a quick recap, Elizabeth Short was murdered, disfigured and then displayed as a public spectacle. There was no true motivation for the murder with no one actually charged for the crime. There were many suspects, Hodel being one of them, but he was never officially charged as he fled the country. Technically, the murder is unsolved although his son Steven Hodel, a police officer, is firmly convinced his father committed the murder of Short as well as other women. He has written books on the subject and currently owns the property believed to be the murder site.

To get a little background, the team visits a couple of locations Elizabeth Short visited in her final days. They visit with Kim Cooper who has researched the Black Dahlia and now gives tours. She takes them to the Figueroa Hotel where she stayed as well as the bus station where some of her personal belongings, including many letters she never posted were kept. These are mentioned as some of the last places Elizabeth was seen.

After literally soaking up some of the energy of the area, they head back to the Hodel house to conduct a seance with Patti Negri and Fauna Hodel. It’s a bit odd that Zak is fine with a seance but it so against the Ouija board. But during the event, Zak asks questions, holds up pictures of George Hodel and has Billy work the computer to try and record responses.

During their conversation the word "malicious" comes up several times as well as the word "penny" which they assume to be the name of someone, perhaps a victim. Amidst the feelings of dark energy, Zak sees a ball of light moving around. Billy also claims to not feel well.

With the seance done, they head down to the basement where a lot of bad energy has been felt. Zak gets quite a scare when he hears a voice in his ear. They also have Billy go down to the basement wearing just an IR camera. This means he’s not looking through the lens and will have to feel his way around. Things turn a bit ugly as he becomes full of aggression and throws some violent outbursts at the George Hodel. A bit out of character for Billy.

The final part of the investigation is to head upstairs to the bathroom area where it is believed  Elizabeth was not only murdered, but dismembered. Her body was actually severed in half and this could be where it happened.

Using the modified Kinect camera, Zak believes he sees someone moving, possibly working on a body and then moving to a sink to wash it’s hands. He feels they are seeing George Hodel carrying out his deeds on another victim.

Unfortunately, they don’t make contact with Elizabeth, nor is there evidence to suggest the energy of George Hodel is within the house. As mentioned, he fled the country, possibly Asia, but his whereabouts is unknown. Interestingly, if you look up George Hodel, some have tried to link him to the Torso Murders and as well as the Zodiac killings. Those might be a bit of a stretch, but George got a pretty nasty reputation if he’s being linked to these other crimes.

I will have to say there were several embarrassingly comical pieces to this investigation. Again, the fact Zak is on board with a seance, but says a piece of cardboard known as the Ouija is a portal to the demonic is annoying. And at that same seance, Patti acts like she’s drunk out of her gourd and Billy has taken up the mantle of saying he feels dark energy and is going to throw up. Not to mention his little outburst down in the basement. Zak says that was caused by Billy touching the (tainted) ground. Pretty hard to buy into that. Sorry, but that felt staged. And finally, Zak coming unglued because of a voice in his ear? Come on, how many times have we seen this now? They all seem to be playing into the "dark energy" pretty handily these days.

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Expedition Unknown – Kalahari Desert Lost City – S02E13

imageFor this episode, Josh is pulling out all the stops to look for the Lost City of the Kalahari. At first glance, this comes across as a laughable story told by Guillermo Farini, a circus performer and showman. While out on the plains of Africa, he came across a city buried in the sand. To prove his claim, he brings back sketches, pictures and stories, but the map is geographically incorrect, Farini is known for exaggerating the truth and giving it a bit of flair and he has no real evidence to show the city. His claim is largely dismissed and even though others have gone out into the desert to search for the city, nothing has been found.

Josh starts his trek by sailing into Cape Town, South Africa. He visits the National Library of South Africa where he talks with Michael Main to get more information. Farini was a showman, prone to oversell the truth, but he was by no means an idiot. In fact, according to Main, the parachute and the folding theater seat can be attributed to Farini.

Farini was a high wire performer and while looking for bigger and better acts for the circus, he hears about the Pygmies of South Africa and feels it’s the next big thing. He heads off with his son to locate them. In the library, Josh is able to see the book Farini published of his travels, photos he brought back, sketches and even the transcript of the lecture he gave to the Royal Geographical Society. It claims to be a 1000 mile journey that took Farini all the way to what is now Botswana.

With a clear reference point, Josh gets his hands on a sweet truck, tricked out with goodies such as stove, shower, refrigerator and sleeping accommodations and sets out to meet Adam Cruise. Adam has been on the trail of Farini for some time and not only believes the lost city is real, but that people are looking in the wrong place.

Josh first heads to Upington, to visit the archives. This is a location Farini was known to be in and they can confirm some of the landmarks from the photos. Their goal is to follow in his footsteps and confirm the places he actually documented.

Josh is able to find newspaper articles from the day which say very little about the discovery of a lost city. After being in the desert for 8 months, Farini glosses over these details as though they will come later once he’s had time to get his story straight. A story he was planning to publish on his own.

At this point, the story seems a little far fetched. They have dodgy source material, almost no details about the discovery from the man himself and it all stems from the word of a man who has made a living from his gift of exaggeration. But undaunted, they press on because Adam has an idea.

As they move away from the city they begin to see some landmarks referenced in Farini’s journals. He speaks of the crumbled wall of a city and low and behold, Adam and Josh find what looks to be a match. However, up close, it’s jujst rocks in the desert. But they both agree, that from a distance, they look to be man made and match Farini’s description. This tells them they’re in the right area where Farini would have been traveling.

With this in mind, Adam explains that he doesn’t believe Farini went as far into the desert as he claimed. The calculations don’t add up for him to travel that distance in the amount of time mentioned and with the supplies in tow. Adam believes they need to look much closer to the starting point and only slightly into the interior of the Kalahari.

It sounds perfectly reasonable and they are soon able to locate a couple of other landmarks from the pictures taken on the journey. Since Adam believes this is the area they need to search, he’s made arrangements with a crew to use radar to take aerial scans. Josh and one pilot go up in a gyro copter looking for the landmarks Farini described. Adam and the pilot will follow in the plane and scan the respective areas.

They find a crescent shaped area and what appear to be man made structures. They mark the areas and investigate on foot. The main landmark was a waterfall and they find one which matches the photos. The head in and find what is essentially an oasis. This would be an ideal location for a settlement.

Without much trouble, they find the crescent shaped walls and a hut or other small enclosure. Regardless of their intent, these clearly aren’t natural and are part of some settlement. The aerial scans showed a more defined settlement close to their location, so hoping to meet some settlers they head in that direction. Out of nowhere, as is the way of these things, they meet two men traveling back to their village. Josh and Adam ask about other structures in the area and are taken to see the remnants of a road or at the very least, a pathway. Again, more man made features.

Adam also realizes the trees in the area match those in Farini’s photographs. They bring one out to compare and it’s the same kind of tree, with the same kind of background and the same kind of features. From all the signs, they are in the same place the picture was taken. And at this point, Josh asks if there is any other evidence of an old town. Sure enough, Lionel points them toward stone etchings depicting the animals of the area and turn out to be around 1000 years old.

It’s pretty clear they’re in what used to be an ancient settlement, inhabited by hunters who had the basics to build structures. It’s a pretty reasonable conclusion this is the Lost City and while Farini was prone to exaggeration and boasted of traveling much further than he did, it seems clear he did indeed find a lost city in the Kalahari. So even though Farini comes across as Mr. Crazy Pants, he was telling the truth the whole time.

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Expedition Unknown – The African Gold Hoard – S02E12

imageFor our next exciting adventure we’re off to Africa in search of gold. Josh is on the trail of gold coins that were buried at the behest of Paul Kruger when he fears the loot will fall into the hands of the invading British. To secure the wealth of his fledgling republic, Kruger stashes the coins on a train wherein the gold and all records of it are lost. But there are a few new leads and several new groups out looking for the gold which could be worth nearly a billion dollars in today’s money.

Paul Kruger was the president of a small republic in the very early 1900s. His group had found a wealth of gold in Africa and had been using it to mint coins. Trouble erupted in the area which ultimately lead to the Boer’s War. Sensing trouble and not wanting to lose his newly minted wealth, the coins are loaded on a train so that Kruger and the lootcan exit the country. They leave Pretoria by train and head for Machadodorp. That was the last time the gold was scene. Kruger leaves the country, but he never meets up with his gold reserves.

The first order of business is to follow the money. Josh follows the route to the last place the gold was scene. The landscape and the train station have changed to the point where Josh heads to the old track and tunnel to have a look around. Pretty much a den of junk with no significant signs the gold would be hidden inside. A vagrant, yes, gold, no.

With the end of the line being the real end of the line, Josh heads to the mint to see how the coin would have been made as well as get some insight about a recently authenticated coin. Turns out Kruger stamped his own money with his own image and it had some exacting details. The coin will have a specific weight and gold content. Any coin they find will have to match in order to be authentic.

Josh then heads out to meet another treasure who has chosen to investigate a cave system where he’s found Kruger era artifacts and weapons. There is some evidence to suggest the gold was hidden within the caves, so Josh suits up to get down and dirty. Dirty indeed as he slugs his way through all sorts of much and narrow spaces. With nothing more than a face full of mud, and perhaps an old coin, Josh makes a layover in an impressive safari hotel.

After a cold beverage and a good night’s sleep, Josh meets up with some hunters who found an authentic Kruger gold coin. They are searching across the plains of the Kruger National Park, a nearly 8000 square mile reserve. But you can’t just go walking in and digging holes, you need to ask permission. With that, he’s off to meet the tribal chief. After a brief talk and Josh getting a tribal spear to protect himself with, he’s back on the road and heading deeper into the park.

Not only does Josh meet the treasure hunters, but their armed and military trained entourage. This is no joke, these guys have a heavily armed anti-poaching force coming along for the ride and they armed with enough weapons to make you pucker. Their goal is to stop poachers who still slaughter rhinos for their horns. Not to mention protecting the team from wandering animals. Although, I’m quite convinced they won’t shoot the animals.

During the evening, the hunters launch an aerial drone with sensitive cameras to locate metal objects heated by the sun. The military team is also at the ready as this is a prime time for poaching. While there are some noises to be heard under the cover of darkness, everything goes without incident, which is good, because Josh will spending the night out there.

In the morning, the team goes to each GPS marked location to see what the drone spotted. They pull out a horseshoe, part of a bridle and even an old pistol. They collect quite a few relics from what they believe to be a British used during the Boer War. Not quite the pot of gold they’re looking for, but great museum pieces and proof they’re looking in the right place.

Is the gold going to be found on plains of the Kruger National Park? Or is it hidden in a cave? Did it still exist at all? It certainly did at one point, there is no doubt about that, but considering the lack of details and the area they need to look in, it seems an almost impossile task to find it. But the lure is millions, possibly billions, so you know they are going to keep at it. And perhaps, if it keeps people out in the plains and thwarts the efforts of poachers, then the hunt won’t be in vain.

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