Saturday, May 16, 2020

Laus Deo Indeed: DEW'ing the Deadly Mantis Fan Dance While Capping w/o Aircraft Warning Lights Plus Other Saturday Night MeTV Viewing

Home tonight watching the MeTV Super Sci Fi Saturday Night line up. The Svengoolie-hosted monster movie earlier was the very enjoyable 1957 film The Deadly Mantis.

Svengoolie gets in a few hilarious songs during one of the humorous interludes. I love Svengoolie and his routines.

I wrote about it the last time two times that Svengoolie featured it to include on May 17, 2014 (that is, one day short of six years ago) and again about 2-1/2 years ago on November 2, 2017.

The movie contains references to the old Distant Early Warning ("DEW") Line -- yes, dew line, way up there in the Canadian Arctic, so that it should have really been the PERMAFROST Line -- and the old Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), which seems to have been rolled up into what is now NORAD. Now, with ongoing rapid climate change in the Arctic / subarctic, it would be the MELTING-TO-DEW Line.

OK, enough of that.

What's interesting about the movie is there is no big, long period of doubt and denial that this monster praying mantis exists once William Hopper's character argues convincingly that it must exist. Secondly, the U.S. military and government are shown in only a positive light. That would not be the case in later years.

I'll just quote the first two paragraphs of The Keeper of All Knowledge's movie article (minus the inline links and superscripted links to endnotes):

"The Deadly Mantis" is a 1957 American science-fiction monster film produced by William Alland for Universal-International. The film was directed by Nathan Juran from a screenplay by Martin Berkeley based on a story by producer William Alland. The Deadly Mantis stars Craig Stevens, William Hopper, Alix Talton and Pat Conway.

In the South Seas, a volcano explodes, eventually causing North Pole icebergs to shift. Below the melting polar ice caps, a 200-foot-long praying mantis, trapped in the ice for millions of years, begins to stir. Soon after, the military personnel at Red Eagle One, a military station in northern Canada that monitors information gathered from the Distant Early Warning Line, realize that the men at one of their outposts are not responding to calls. Commanding officer Col. Joe Parkman (Craig Stevens) flies there to investigate, and finds the post destroyed, its men gone, and giant slashes left in the snow outside.

Just FYI, the opening involves something about the Weddell Sea, which I wouldn't refer to as the tropical-sounding "South Seas."

Good morning, Ms. Mantis. You're looking bright-eyed today.


The monster praying mantis makes its way down the U.S. East Coast. The creature can fly at 250-mph and easily reach thousands of feet in altitude. And its wings flap so rapidly as to to create a deafening buzzing drone -- which, if near the ground, creates a sort of hurricane force fanning action.

Hi, I'm Air Deadly Mantis. Fly me.


The creature makes it way toward Washington, D.C., before turning back northeast and meeting its demise in New York City. On its trip to D.C., following a bit of mayhem in and around Laurel, Maryland on a densely foggy night to include overturning a bus, it swoops past the nighttime illuminated dome of the U.S. Capitol.

It then lands on the upper portion of the Washington Monument, shaking it violently, and crawls all the way to the top.

My hunch is that a create that huge and weighing hundreds of tons by plowing into what is just a free-standing masonry structure would destroy it.

The screenshot image to the left and directly below of the Washington Monument are not entirely accurate -- the pyramidal head isn't sufficiently elongated and the observation deck windows don't look quite right.

That aside, the images suggest what the Washington Monument did NOT have at the time -- namely, the four pairs of aircraft navigation warning lights that today at the 516-foot level of the structure's (elongated) pyramidion head.

And, yes, indeed, as explained in this June 2004 report (see the timeline section), the holes (sockets) for those lights were installed (cut into the structure) in 1958, the year after this movie came out. The movie also actually captures the batteries of old-style floodlights illuminating the structure at the time -- and, again referring to the June 2004 report -- this is correct as t hey were installed in 1931 with an initial nighttime illumination on Armistice Day 1931. (See pages B-52 and B-55 of the report.)

Above: Close up image of the top of the Washington Monument (east side, I think) on September 28, 2011 as dare-deviling, carefully-harnessed engineers inspect the exterior of the structure in the wake of the August 23, 2011 earthquake; source here.

You can see the observation deck window pair and the pair of aircraft navigation warning lights above them. Again, I think this is the east side judging by the shadow being cast by the one guy.

The aluminum capstone as seen in 1999.

Residing inside the lighting rods, the aluminum capstone is weathered, worn, and singed by more than one lightning strike. The multiple inscriptions are are barely legible but the east side one contains the immortal phrase "Laus Deo."

And, yes, the phrase Laus Deo is STILL THERE and, no, it HASN'T BEEN REMOVED, so please, Forever Self-Martyring Catholics and Christianists, get off the social media perpetual-motion garbage truck and into reality. If you can.

That same timeline indicates that in March 1931, there was an initial attempt to use one of each of the four pairs of windows as a location for a warning navigation light, but they weren't well received by pilots, who suggested instead the floodlights approach.

Sorry, wrong movie.


Lastly, for a number of years prior to Feb 1995, these red warning lights used to subtly wink out of phase, at which point some stupid synchronizing switch was flipped that month. By early August 2015, LEDs with their instantaneous blinking (since they lack an incandescent filament) appeared to have been installed -- as I wrote then in this entry.

As for the rest of the MeTV Saturday night-to-wee-hours Sunday morning line up we have the following:

Star Trek: TOS episode: "Elaan of Troyius" (not a favorite but French - Vietnamese actress France Nuyen is an interesting person).

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode: "Happy Birthday, Buck" (I'd like to know if Gil Gerard has any relationship with his son, actor Gib Gerard, who was raised by his mom (Gerard's ex-wife), Connie Sellecca, and second husband John Tesh).

The Invaders episode: "The Betrayed" (always a bizarre show) ... Lost in Space episode: "Space Circus" ... Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea episode "No Way Out" ... Land of the Giants episode: "Rescue"

I usually go to bed by that point and miss The Time Tunnel, another Irwin Allen specialty.

OK, that's all for this entry. I'm going to post another one a bit later containing a personal and brief weather update. It was originally part of this entry, but I broke it off into a separate one.


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