Subliminal Techniques Media Uses to Manipulate Your Thoughts

In the late 1970s, during university journalism classes, I first studied how movies, television, news and politics purposefully used manipulation techniques to control our thoughts.

It was then that I realized I was one of millions of moviegoers who unknowingly sensed the power of sublimation.

When director William Friedkin’s The Exorcist opened in 1973, it quickly became one of the most critically acclaimed and financially successful horror films of all time.

Local newscasts reported viewers fainting, vomiting, and fleeing the theater, shaken by the film’s explicit depiction of a young girl named Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) possessed by demons and exhibiting blasphemous behavior.

But what we didn’t know was just how unsettled we became because of Friedkin’s insertion into the film surreptitiously—a frightening, subliminal image that was funneled straight into the audience’s subconscious.

Unbeknownst to us, there was a white-faced demon briefly flashed onscreen at 45 minutes and one second into the film.

At one hour, 43 minutes, and 13 seconds in, there is another 1/8 of a second flashes cuts in:

The micro shots were part of Friedkin’s strategy to unnerve moviegoers using both visuals and sounds that he felt stood the best chance of creating an uneasy atmosphere. The face was intended to represent one of the demons inhabiting Regan. Here is another:

The subliminal techniques worked. As of September 2022, the movie has garnered $441,306,145 in worldwide earnings.

The idea for manipulating the masses came from print media. In this day of internet advertising, propaganda and politics, “social influencers” are called in to impact purchases, choices and cultural norms. Let’s look at celebrity influencers of yesteryear:


Advertisers and bloggers know that most people will not spend much time looking at print advertisements or reading long articles. That’s where pictures and images come in.

WHISKEY A LA MODE

Here is a classic example of how hidden (subliminal) ideas, imagery, and words can be placed in print advertisements without immediate detection.


On average, people look at a print ad for no more than two seconds.  In the following case the advertiser had two seconds in which to convey a message.


With this in mind, look closely at this advertisement and see if you notice anything interesting:

This is not a photograph of a glass of whiskey, this is a piece of artwork.



Take a look at this area of the print advertisement.  Do you see the image of a dead wasp?

Here is a comparison of the image of the dead wasp with a darkened image of the dead wasp:

Below is a comparison of the image of the dead wasp with a picture of a wasp:

Notice that the colors black and yellow are prominent in this advertisement, the same colors of a wasp.


There are three subliminal images of birds in this advertisement.


BIRD #1:
Above the image of the dead wasp is another image.  Do you see the image of a vulture above the dead wasp?

This image is a cartoon rendition of a vulture.  The vulture is hovering over the image of the dead wasp:

Here is a comparison of the image of the vulture with both another cartoon rendition and a photograph of a vulture:

BIRD #2:
Take a look at this section of the print advertisement.  Do you see the image of a dead white bird?

Here is a comparison of the image of the dead white bird next to a picture of a white bird:

BIRD #3:
Take a look at this section of the print advertisement.  Do you see the image of a Red-tailed Hawk?

Here is a comparison of the image of the Red-tailed Hawk’s head with a picture of a Red-tailed Hawk’s head.

The image of the Red-tailed Hawk looks like it is about to take flight due to the positioning of the wings:

COLOR PSYCHOLOGY
There are three predominant colors in this advertisement:  yellow, black, and gold.
As mentioned previously, the colors yellow and black relate to the colors of a wasp.


Gold is another color of this advertisement which is the color of the whiskey in the glass.


To an addicted heavy consumer of alcohol, whiskey is as good as gold.


SUBJECTIVE ANALYSIS
Subliminal images of a wasp and birds in this Calvert whiskey ad have been revealed.


Through subliminal imagery and symbolic meanings, it appears that this ad is portraying an addicted heavy drinker’s life coming to an end.


🔹It is important to understand that the subconscious mind operates with symbols, pictures and images.

🔹They convey far more information than words. They reach us on an intuitive level. We understand images by making associations with them.


WASP SYMBOLISM:
In this advertisement, the wasp is a symbol of whiskey because both the wasp and the whiskey are known for their ability to sting.

🔹This stinging of the alcohol can cause some rawness and discomfort in the short-term, and in the long-term it may have other consequences. 


🔹A wasp can sting multiple times without harm to itself.   Wasps do not die after stinging their victims.


🔹Since the wasp in this advertisement is dead, it has lost it’s power to sting.


🔹The whiskey (wasp) loses it’s power to sting after an addicted heavy consumer of alcohol dies.


VULTURE SYMBOLISM:
In the ad above, the image of a vulture–a universal symbol of death–is hovering over the dead wasp.

🔹Death is inevitably approaching any heavy drinker.


WHITE DEAD BIRD SYMBOLISM:
According to a Germanic superstition, the “omen most often associated with death was a white dove that would appear on the windowsill or in the room of the terminally ill and forewarn the family of the impending death.” 

🔹Although a white dove has been a symbol of peace and hope for thousands of years, in this advertisement the dead bird represents the situation where the addicted heavy drinker has lost peace and hope as the end of his life draws near.


HAWK SYMBOLISM:
In this advertisement, the hawk is at the top of the glass of whiskey and is poised to take flight.  The hawk’s back is towards the dead white bird, the vulture, and the dead wasp.


🔹Hawk symbolism is also associated with death, for the birds often act as the bearers of souls heavenward.

🔹The hawk’s swiftness of darting down and grasping its weakened prey also serves as a symbol of death, injustice, and violence.

Now here is what the advertisers knew about the demographics of their consumers at the time:


🔹The top 5% of drinkers of alcohol accounted for 42% of the United States total alcohol consumption. 


🔹About 17.6 million Americans abused or were dependent on alcohol. 


🔹In the United States, excessive alcohol use accounted for an estimated average of 80,000 deaths annually. 

On a global scale, the “harmful use of alcohol results in approximately 2.5 million deaths each year. 

THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION

Think about how much information and statistics advertisers, propagandists, and social engineers had back then.

Now considering the enormous amount of spying via internet, cellphones, financial records, purchasing habits and locations you frequent, just how much more accessible are your customs, patterns and obsessions? How can these be used to not only track your existence, but manipulate your life?

Thank you for reading Part 2 of our Social Enginnering Manipulation series.

Read Part 1 Here

Part 3 Coming Soon

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Texas Hill Country is Becoming a Mecca for Movie Making

With the help of the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program (TMIIIP), the Lone Star State initiative  is designed to build the state and local economies through the moving image industry and create jobs in Texas communities.

BOERNE

Just 30-minutes northwest of San Antonio International Airport is the beautiful Texas Hill Country, Boerne, Texas, where I raised my family.

It has been discovered by Hollywood for years as the city offers a picturesque vintage backdrop featuring turn-of-the-century architecture nestled in its thriving business district filled with modern boutiques, breweries, and restaurants that are ready to serve.

Their bustling downtown, the Hill Country Mile, is a colorful canvas of quaint shops flanked by winding pedestrian paths and parks situated along the gorgeous Cibolo Creek. At its heart, Boerne is anchored by a 170-year-old traditional Main Plaza, complete with a historic gazebo and surrounded by heritage Oaks.

Boerne is one of now over 150 communities across the state in the Film Friendly Texas program, including the neighboring cities of Kerrville, Fredericksburg, Blanco, Bandera, and San Antonio.  

The Film Friendly Texas program provides ongoing training and guidance on media industry standards and best practices to help communities accommodate media production for film and TV. Film Friendly Certified Communities are trained to match local businesses with production-related needs and services while creating jobs for Texas-based crew members and residents.

Some notable productions filmed in Boerne over the years, including 1973’s The Sugarland Express starring Goldie Hawn; 1997’s The Newton Boys, starring Matthew McConaughey and Ethan Hawke; and 1999’s All the Pretty Horses, starring Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz.

Just minutes west of Boerne on Highway 46 is Enchanted Springs Ranch.

Enchanted Springs Ranch began as a Hollywood movie set in 2001 and has been a preferred filming location for over 20 years. The ranch features a large-scale Old West town that is perfect for filming movies, commercials, TV shows and music videos. The ranch is listed as an approved filming venue with the San Antonio Film Commission and works closely with the Austin Film Commission.

Texas-based TV travel programs like The Daytripper and YOLO TX have also filmed in and around Boerne.

SAN MARCOS

In the summer of 2022, San Marcos–home to Texas State University–announced the construction of a $267 million, 820,000-square-foot TV, film and virtual production studio.

City officials billed it as a studio set to bring in more than 1,400 industry jobs to the community.

“The multiuse project, located at the entrance of the La Cima master-planned community, will also feature modern lifestyle and collaborative workplace amenities, headlined by post-production facilities, a 50-seat screening theater and a full-service restaurant and coffee shop,” Hill Country Group said. “Twenty-five acres will be reserved for vendor and commercial space built to serve both the studio and surrounding community.”

MOVIES FILMED IN HILL COUNTRY

Some movies made in the Texas Hill Country region include (note movies I have appeared in are designated with “*” symbol):

Lonesome Dove

The Alamo

The Getaway

7 Days in Utopia

Boyhood

Time Trap

Miss Congeniality

Selena

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

STRINGS*

Piranha*

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Attack on Terror: FBI vs. Klu Klux Klan*

Race With the Devil

Viva Max!

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

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Texas Drug Store Cowboys Celebrating 50 Years as Dancehall & Venue Legends

50th Anniversary will be on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022 at John T. Floores Country Store & Dance Hall in Helotes, Texas. 3-7 p.m.

Admired by fiercely loyal fans, The Drugstore Cowboys have brought their electric energy to venues throughout the US and Europe.

The south side of San Antonio, in the neighborhoods surrounding McCollum and Harlandale high schools, are the childhood homes of many notable people in Country, Funk, Soul and Tejano Music.

Legendary Country Music DJ Hall of Famer and everybody’s “Cousin” Jerry King went to Harlandale in the 1960s. I can remember when King, along with other DJs and musicians, played with the likes of Willie Nelson and George Jones at a charity basketball matchup at the McCollum gym in the late 1960s.

During the 1972-73 school year Nashville recording artist Johnny Bush played on stage at the McCollum Auditorium. Country.

Down on Harding Blvd., a talented local newspaper country music and entertainment writer, John Goodspeed, served as an early inspiration for me.

The late Emilio Navaira, from the McCollum Class of 1980, was a Mexican-American musician who performed country and Tejano music nationally. His classmate from the year ahead of him, Yolanda Saldívar, is the convicted murderer of Latin music superstar Selena, and is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison.

Especially in the late 70s and early 80s many of us would go watch Horizon perform. Southsiders Charlie, John, and Geoff Boggess joined classmate Freddy Carrillo and others (T-Bo Gonzalez, Bill Dudley, Larry Scott and Sahara Greer come to mind) and actually opened for the Commodores. The story goes they were offered to go on the road with Cool and the Gang but turned them down.

Through the years, southsider singers and musicians continued to play venues and dances as far away as Europe, on television and especially throughout the Lone Star State.

Some of the more enduring included Rex Allen McNeil, Walter “Tooter” Ripps, Ray Morris, Randy Potts, Lonnie Castleman, John Marsh, Leonard Wong, and the rockers, The Toman Brothers, Randy and Russell—and who could forget R

1972

In the fall of 1972, 17-year-old McCollum senior Dub Robinson had organized a country trio and began playing around a little bit. He went to go see Willie Nelson at the John T. Floore Country Store northwest of San Antonio in the foothills of the Hill Country town of Helotes.

Johnny Bush, Paul English, Willie Nelson

Nelson was to perform as a trio with drummer Paul English and Bee Spears on bass. The steel player didn’t show.

“I watched Willie play that gut string guitar and it didn’t lose anything,” Robinson remembers. Since age 12, Robinson had played professionally across South Texas, but on this night he was particularly inspired.

He called his drummer, Robert “Cotton” Payne, and his bassist, Tommy McKay the next day and proclaimed that if they could be a hundredth as good as Nelson was, they might have a chance.

They knew their taste in music was a blend of country, rock, and blues. McKay suggested the perfect name for their new band. It described the kind of “cowboy” who didn’t want to get his boots dirty.

I’ve followed Dub and other fellow McCollum Cowboys classmates over the years. He continues to be a favorite.

At a ten year class reunion in 1983 at the downtown El Tropicano Hotel Ballroom, Dub and his band honored his classmates as we danced in memories of “old times.” I was particularly honored. I knew the band was good, but when I was called over during a break, he asked me what Elvis song I was going to sing later that evening.

I suggested “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hearbreak Hotel,” and “Hound Dog.”

He grinned, and with guitar in hand, said, “Okay. Let me hear you sing them.”

1983 McCollum 10 Yr Reunion. Dub (guitar) was the ultra-professional. What an honor for me.

I only had to belt out a sentence or a few words of each. He immediately knew what key and chords to play.

Later, when some of our classmates were literally pulling my pants off while singing, I looked back at Dub. He was grinning big time. He and his band never missed a lick. I tried my best not to also. It remains a fun and wonderful memory in my heart.

In 2011, while interviewing George Strait and Ray Benson at a fundraiser for wounded veterans at Tapatio Springs outside of Boerne, Texas, Strait said something that reminded me of Dub.

“When everyone thinks of Asleep at the Wheel, they think of Ray.”

That’s exactly how I feel about the Drug Store Cowboys. When I think of them, I think of Dub Robinson.

The Drugstore Cowboys with Gary Stewart: Dub Robinson (left), Stewart, Randy Toman and Robert "Cotton" Payne.
Dub Robinson on the left.

Dub just announced the band will be celebrating their 50th anniversary with a new CD. What are his thoughts?

In his own creative words, the songwriter, musician and singer posted:

Originally, McKay lasted about a year and a half and Randy Toman, (who now performs with his brother Russell), became the bassist for 13 years.

They became the touring band for country stars Gary Stewart and Stoney Edwards. The Drugstore Cowboys also backed Johnny Rodriguez, Freddy Fender, Johnny Bush and Gene Watson.

Other artists they shared the stage with or even backed up include Nelson, Merle Haggard, Mel Tillis, Frenchy Burke, Greg Allman, David Allen Cole, Charlie Daniels, the Mavericks, Jerry Jeff Walker, and even Asleep At The Wheel.

“They joined Stewart, who was known for such hits as “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles),” when his backing band could not make a gig at the old Kicker’s Palace,” Goodspeed once reported. “The owner told Stewart they knew all his songs and he gave them a try. Stewart hired them and they toured coast to coast. Robinson quit after four years.”

“I didn’t want to be somebody’s backup band the rest of my life,” he said. “I’m a songwriter first and wanted to do my own thing.”

In 50 years, at least that many musicians have played in The Drugstore Cowboys.

Some of the members went on to play for the Bellamy Brothers, Janie Fricke, Bill Anderson, and Judas Priest.

“I believe it’s all about the song. It’s a lot of work running a band, but I do it just to play my music the way I want to hear it,” Dub said.

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Politics, Entertainment & History: Can You Identify Them by Their Mugshots?

Can you identify these historic, political and entertainment figures by their arrested mugshots and photographs?

Answers at the bottom.

POLITICS & HISTORY

Politics, News and History: John Hinkley, Shepherd Smith, Bill Gates, John Edwards, Bernard Madoff, Lee Harvey Oswald, Rod Blagojevich, Rosa Parks, Billy Carter, Roger Clinton, James Earl Ray, Jack Ruby, Charles Manson

Entertainment: Harvey Weinstein, Jane Fonda, O.J. Simpson, Nick Nolte, Heather Locklear, Jussie Smollett, Paul Reubens

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

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SPORTS & MUSIC: Do You Recognize Who They Are by Their Mugshots?

Can you identify these famous sports and music celebrities by their arrested mugshots?

Answers at the bottom.

SPORTS

MUSIC

SPORTS: Tiger Woods, Tony Manziel, Jason Kidd, O.J. Simpson

MUSIC: David Cassidy, Michael Jackson, Phil Spector, Phil Spector, Justin Bieber, Jerry Lee Lewis, Glen Campbell, Hank Williams, Jr. Frank Sinatra

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

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Hollywood Actor James Woods’ Wisdom to Upset Communists

Actor James Woods is one of the few Hollywood actors brave and tough enough to pull no punches while standing up to liberal socialists. He tells it like it actually is. God Bless America. Amen.

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Where Did ‘He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother’ Come From?

During World War II (1945), a Japanese boy stood in front of a funeral pyre and waited his turn to cremate his little dead brother.

The person who took the photograph said, in an interview, that the boy was biting his lips so hard to keep from crying that blood was dripping from the corner of his mouth.

It was then that the guard asked him for the body and said, “Give me the load you are carrying on your back.” And the boy answered:

“He ain’t heavy, he is my brother”. He handed over the body, turned around, and left…

In Japan, even today, this image is used as a symbol of strength.

In college during the mid 1970s, I had the opportunity to meet and interview some music entertainers of the times. As the Fine Arts Editor for the Southwest Texas State (now Texas State) University Star, it helped me go backstage for artists like Freddy Mercury and Queen, Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Alvin Lee with Ten Years After, and more.

One of my classmates was a young fellow who would sit out in the hall before a business class trying to catch up because he had been out singing late into the night before. You may have heard of him–George Strait.

A special moment was meeting Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina backstage before their San Antonio Municipal Auditorium (now the expanded Tobin Center) concert. I secured autographs, asked a few questions and was allowed to watch their sound check.

From the side of the stage they sat on stools, side-by-side, singing to an empty auditorium that would soon be filled to the brim.

The song was “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” I had heard the recordings by The Hollies and Neil Diamond, but this one time “personal” performance remains in my heart and memories to this day.

It was written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell. They only met three times to collaborate before Russell died of lymphoma.

A guy name Reginald played piano on The Hollies’ version which was released in 1970. It was a worldwide hit. You likely know the piano player by another name–Elton John.

The title actually didn’t come from the Japanese picture shown above. It came from the motto for Boys Town, a community formed in 1917 by a Catholic priest named Father Edward Flanagan.

Located in Omaha, Nebraska, it was a place where troubled or homeless boys could come for help. In 1941, Father Flanagan was looking at a magazine called The Messenger when he came across a drawing of a boy carrying a younger boy on his back, with the caption, “He ain’t heavy Mr., he’s my brother.”

Today, there is a statue with that phrase that serves as the symbol for Boys Town.

In 1938, actor Spencer Tracey portrayed Father Flanagan in the movie Boys Town, which also starred Mickey Rooney. In 1941, they made a sequel called Men Of Boys Town, where they used the phrase “He ain’t heavy, Father, he’s my brother” for the first time in a movie.

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3 Thoughts on Amber Heard’s Reaction to the Johnny Depp Case

In September 2008, I attended the first ever performance of magician Criss Angel at his new residency show–Criss Angel BeLIEve–at the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Our tickets were complementary (I was writing a review for AXS Entertainment’s blog which featured such reporting at the time), and our seats were center, on the back row of the front section.

I felt a bit sorry for the magician, because despite his good intentions for a “new” type of theater experience, there were several mishaps in queuing, lighting, music and even props.

Early in the production, Angel, trapped in a white straitjacket and spinning, suddenly disappeared as the theater went totally dark.

Music and sound effects stirred a puzzled and startling response of gasps in the audience. Spotlights suddenly appeared, shining on a point right above our heads.

Criss Angel was dropped out of the ceiling hanging by his bound ankles, struggling to escape the tightly strapped straitjacket. Just as he was a mere six feet over our heads, more overhead house lights were turned on to the delight of everyone while he “escaped” the confines of the jacket.

As everyone applauded, still hanging upside down, Angel was slowly lowered to a blonde lady right next to me. She stood up and he embraced her.

They kissed. We clapped.

As they reeled him back up through the trapped door in the ceiling, I leaned over and said to the woman, “Wow, how did you get so lucky to get that seat? I’m glad it wasn’t me seated there.”

“Oh, it is he that is the lucky one,” she replied.

After he returned back to the stage he took a moment to thank us for attending that night’s performance and being patient with the “mixups” of a new show and early jitters of the crew.

“I would also like to acknowledge and thank my girlfriend who you just saw me kiss while I was hanging upside down like Spiderman,” he pointed back to the blonde sitting on my left. “Miss Amber Heard, ladies and gentlemen.”

To this day, I don’t know if Heard was his actual girlfriend, because we thought he was dating Holly Madison at the time. But it’s Vegas. Who knows? What happens there is not the same as in Hollywood!

BACK TO THE FUTURE

Jump to 2022. I happily quit watching television—especially the news—years ago and have not been too much engaged with the entertainment world since.

Having a nice breakfast conversation at the ‘Table of Knowledge’ in one of my favorite Texas Hill Country restaurants one morning, a veteran police officer, the now retired Jim Harvey, mentioned he wanted to get home in time to watch the continuing saga of the Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard Trial.

He briefed the diners and morning coffee drinkers about the latest drama of the televised proceedings. It was intriguing, but I elected to wait until after it was basically over to watch some video of the court antics. 

All I knew about Heard was that I sat next to her for 90 minutes at the Criss Angel show while the magician was on record as dating Holly Madison in those days. The only other thing I was familar about Heard was that she was born and raised in “The San Francisco of Texas,” the Keep it Weird city of Austin. This explained, for me at least, some of her antics I witnessed on the video clips of the trial.

Following her loss in court, this was Heard’s official released statement:

Based on what I saw and heard, here are a few things to think about regarding her statement:

🔹The ‘mountain of evidence’ she presented was actually what helped her lose. She very clearly lied about several things and refused to take responsibility for any of the wrong she had done.

🔹This verdict could have set back the clock for women at least as much as the Hollywood starlets who participated in the #MeToo movement one moment, then followed by publically attacking Jeffrey Epstein accusers the next. Heard lying about abuse and trying to profit from it may have implications for years to come. People will find it harder to take someone at their word without thinking back to this trial. Will they wonder if the person is being truthful or making it up to hurt someone that they are mad at?

🔹Her and her attorneys trying to make this out to be a freedom of speech case is pathetic. Nobody took away her rights. The 1st amendment isn’t there for people to use it to lie and try to ruin people with false accusations. That’s why there are laws against that sort of thing.

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FBI Laboratory Publishes Results of Their Major Handwriting Analysis Study

As a licensed private investigator in Texas many moons ago, I studied Graphology and examined documents for various crime cases and court proceedings. Today, I retain an interest in this forensic activity and it’s a fun hobby and exercise at parties and get togethers with friends.

Recently I learned of a five year study performed by researchers evaluating many examiners, most of them government employees, where they undertook 100 handwriting comparisons using digital images of such writing produced by 230 people.

Of the 100 tasks:

🔹44 were comparison of documents handwritten by the same person

🔹56 were comparison of documents written by two individuals.

🔹Unknown to the participants, a tenth of the comparison sets were repeats of sets they had already seen—a way to test how consistent each participant was over time.

The FBI’s Laboratory Division, in conjunction with Noblis, Inc., recently published their scientific research paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences about the accuracy and reliability of forensic handwriting comparison.

The paper, “Accuracy and Reliability of Forensic Handwriting Comparisons,” summarizes the results of the five-year project.

The FBI Laboratory undertook this research to provide estimates of error rates—how often document examiners make correct writership decisions—as well as how often an examiner reaches the same conclusion when seeing the same documents again, and how often other examiners reach the same conclusions.

This study was the largest of its kind, involving examiners from U.S. and international crime laboratories and private practice. Collectively, these examiners made more than 7,000 document comparisons and provided information with which to correlate results to levels of education and experience, along with other metadata.

Examiners in the FBI study expressed their conclusions in the form of five ratings: definitive that the same writer had or had not written the compared samples, probable that the same writer had or had not written them, or no conclusion.

Features of interest included letter spacing, how letters connect, and the drop or rise of “legs” below or above a letter, such as the tail of a small letter “g” or the upsweep of a small letter “d.”

Overall, in 3.1 percent of cases, examiners incorrectly concluded that the same writer had composed the comparison samples. Different writers who were twins tripped the examiners up more often, leading to a false-positive rate of 8.7 percent. The false-negative rate of samples that were incorrectly attributed to two different writers was even lower, at 1.1 percent.

The study is part of a portfolio of research projects conducted by the FBI Laboratory to evaluate the accuracy, repeatability, and reproducibility of pattern evidence examiner decisions.

It was modeled after a highly acclaimed 2011 FBI Laboratory study about the accuracy and reliability of fingerprint examiner decisions, which is widely regarded within the forensic community as a gold standard in pattern evidence study design. That research project formed the basic design for this study and resulted in more than 15 scientific publications to date.

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

My First Big Interview Was With Elvis Presley

In the early spring of 1976, my Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State) journalism professor Jeff Henderson, asked his class on the second floor of Old Main to write down the names of two people we would like to interview if we could. 

When he called on me to reveal my answers, embarrassingly, I said “Elvis Presley and Clint Eastwood.”

Spontaneously, my classmates laughed. Their answers were reasonable…and safe: the police chief, fire marshal, county commissioner, etc. But Jeff held his hand up and looked me seriously straight in the eyes and asked, “Why don’t you?”

WHY DON’T YOU?

“Look, Jack. You just came back from winning Investigative Reporter of the Year Award out of every university in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Association,” he smirked, then grinned. “So, my question to you is—why don’t you?”

I thought of scores of reasons why I couldn’t. Jeff’s question would have profound impact the rest of my life. So, why don’t I? Within eight months, I interviewed both Presley and Eastwood.

I traveled to Memphis during Spring Break with one mission in mind: To do the impossible by interviewing Elvis.

Just a few days after my arrival, staying at a nearby (from Graceland) Howard Johnson’s, I was called in by a local radio station to be interviewed myself because there was much buzz (was that even a word, other than the sound a bee makes, in ’76?) about Elvis.

It was recently announced he’d be performing in his hometown later that summer. Months away and thousands of fans had been camped out for two days in line to buy tickets.

The day before, I drove by the Mid-South Colosseum and was astonished. People were in tents, sleeping bags, lawn chairs and on blankets waiting. Although it was hot and humid, they were happy.

Through the years I’ve found dedicated Elvis fans to be among the happiest people on the planet. Their camaraderie expands beyond man-made limiting boundaries such as race, politics, religion and sex. Generally, they’re united.

Two nights before, I gained quick notoriety among Memphis fans for gaining the “impossible dream.” I scored an interview with Elvis Presley!

As a young journalism student from then Southwest Texas State, I did my homework. The stars were aligned:

🔹Local fans were not swarming around Graceland,

🔹It was a time sandwiched between Elvis’ mother Gladys’ birthday week (reasoned he may leave to visit her gravesite) and Mother’s Day. Yes, it was a long shot, but I was giving it all I could.

🔹With donuts, coffee and burgers from the Hickory Log cafe, I befriended Elvis’ cousin Harold Loyd and other Graceland gate security guards at night…and Uncle Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge and others during the day in between naps (Elvis was a night owl, so I had to be).

Harold Loyd

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🔹The big card up my sleeve was the ace in the hole: I was President of the Texas Chapter of the official Elvis Presley Graceland Fan Club.

Invited to the radio station because of the spike in interest of the upcoming concerts and me landing the interview, the DJ began asking questions in rapid fire.

I answered them as fast as he spit them out, but when he paused for a commercial break, I defaulted to my normal mode of operation–to engage in conversation rather than his Q&A approach.

Elvis’ Bicentennial Harley.

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He started taking live listener calls. It was compelling enough that he kept me on air for over an hour.

I was psyched, of course, but somehow all this excitement calmed my youthful ego. I was very thankful for meeting Elvis, but especially grateful for his kindness. When you hear or read how nice he was to fans, believe me, it was very genuine kindness.

Shaking the hand of the man my parents, my sister Bobbi and I would see on the giant screens of the Trail or Mission Drive-In theaters, watch on TV, or read about in magazines and newspapers, was a surreal and humbling experience.

Meeting Elvis taught me much, including the value of doing homework, being prepared, investigation and a more engaging approach to interviewing.

Most of all, it taught me to never let self-imposed obstacles get in the way of my dreams.

Photos of Dodie and me taken at Graceland, SUN Studio, on June 24, 25 2020.

The following August, I was able to meet Elvis briefly backstage at Hemisfair Arena in San Antonio to present him some official honorary documents from the City, Bexar County and a Texas-shaped award from fans across the state.

Two of my favorite journalism classmates under Jeff Henderson, Janis Johnson and Vicky Highsaw, joined me on the front row center section for the Elvis concert.

Photos taken from front row, center at Elvis Presley’s August 18, 1976 concert.

Thanks for supporting independent true journalism with a small tip. Dodie & Jack

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

‘Lady Lawman’ Movie: The Good, Bad and Ugly

We love and miss Westerns, so we invited friends to watch “Lady Lawman,” a fictitious movie based on the first real female marshal, Francis Miller, of the Indian Territory in the 1890s.

Jake Jecmenek, a friend from high school, was kind enough to give me a DVD of the movie he co-produced and starred in, which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

To provide a fair review, I combined the ratings of all six of us, so as not to skew the results. (Dodie has known Jake since at least the 8th grade and we are both fond of him).

SEE LADY LAWMAN PREVIEW HERE

We had popcorn and tasty beverages for our guests to enjoy as we prepared to project the film outdoors like an old fashioned drive-in theater. The DVD cover and packaging is beautiful, but the first hint something might be amiss was when one of them read the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) movie description:

“A women (yes, plural instead of ‘woman’) is offered a job and because the Shieriff (yes, misspelled, rather than ‘Sheriff’) is short handed to a woman (yes, ‘short handed to a woman‘) whom lost her recent husband (instead of an older spouse?) to the same gang of outlaws as the tracker (so the tracker was in a gang of outlaws?).

Brett William Mauser is the executive producer, writer, director, editor and, among other responsibilities, an actor in the movie.

Here is the good, bad and the ugly with our ratings of Lady Lawman:

THE GOOD

The best acting into this 95 minute movie was by Ryan Jasso (Francis Miller) and Jake Jecmenek (Buck Johnson) who played the prime characters.

Other notable actors included Ernest Martinez (ditch the whiskey bottle in every other scene – you’re better than that), Carlos Leos and Kody Nace.

According to our small six-person audience, among the good features of the movie were:

🔹How a momentous pocket watch was weaved into the story.

🔹Dodie and her girlfriends all “liked the beautiful horses.”

🔹Everyone agreed the background music helped the movie.

🔹”My favorite were the gag shots in the Bonus Features” of the DVD, one said. “Especially when it showed someone actually wearing stiched-in red letters– ‘FLASH’–on black jockey underwear, the obvious rage in 1890s fashion I suppose.”

🔹”The acting and horses saved the movie,” Dodie exclaimed.

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THE BAD

Mauser may be an improved movie maker since his western, Bass Reeves. It was the only movie I reviewed of his, way back in 2010.

In Bass Reeves, a film about the first Black U.S. deputy marshal, there were some good performances by actors James A. House and Craig Rainey, but audience members were distracted by things like 1970s style paneling and plastic light switches on interior walls during the times of the Old West.

In his latest offering, Mauser releases what could have been a more pleasing movie without two primary familiar disturbances:

1. lack of authenticity.

2. long drawn out dialogue that was sometimes difficult to understand.

🔹Practically every actor sported brand new cowboy hats, bejeweled with Route 66 type trading post or Buckee’s style ornaments and headbands. 1890s? No way.

🔹It’s significant enough as major diversions–as are the shiny new saddles on every horse; pristine and more modern day style shirts, jackets and attire–or replicas–on some of them.

Online ratings: 3 out of 5 stars, Amazon and 4.5 out of 10 on IMDb.

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🔹An asphalt road in front of a seamless metal-roofed house with a concrete sidewalk during the 1890s was way out of the time period. People notice that Brett!

(Asphalt first appeared in North America in the 1870s in Virginia and was used for the centennial of 1876 on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. It took years for cars and buggies to be driven on asphalt roads in Oklahoma or Texas.)

He could work his way towards something more exceptional if he would not still be making the same mistakes. You can’t blame it on budget restraints. Used and authentic can cost less! At the very least, change the camera angles to hide these errors.

Everyone in our small focus group agreed and used descriptives like “annoying,” “obvious,” “blaring” and–

🔹”I couldn’t concentrate, especially when the shine from Wal-Mart stainless bowls were laid out on the table.”

🔹”I couldn’t concentrate on the acting because the clothes looked like they came from Sears, K-Mart or Wal-Mart,” a husband and wife team explained as I took their notes.

🔹”This is a cowboy movie,” she said. “One guy looked like a Low Rider who should be driving a jumping ’65 Chevy.”

🔹”And what about so many of them wearing new outfitter clothes, complete with matching bandanas?” another asked. “I’m sorry, this would have been a fairly decent movie for theater release if they would get help with the dialogue writing, costuming and location help.”

🔹”Look, I enjoy westerns and watch the Western Channel all the time,” said a veteran cowboy western fan. “After awhile, I just tried to ignore all this, and tell myself ‘hey, give them a break, it’s independent greenhorn tenderfoot hour,’ and then was able to enjoy it better. It’s not High Noon or The Searchers after all. It’s some good people making a movie with what they’ve got. I’d give them at least a B for effort. For dialogue, not so much.”

🔹”I did the same,” the second man said. “Maybe it’s because we live around and raise horses, livestock, and goats, that I was being hard on them, but a movie shouldn’t have to make me give excuses for it. I did enjoy it alright, but it took some effort.”

Amazon ratings

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🔹”The rain scenes at night on the closeups looked like the drops were coming down superimposed on the screen,” he continued. “I wanted to concentrate on the struggle, but by this late in the movie I was trained to look at mistakes.”

THE UGLY

🔹”It seems like they went overboard with all the shooting and killing,” our first lady friend said. “The pocket watch part was good, but I kept wondering if they even had musical watches that played Fleur-de-lis in the 1800s. It’s not hard to think that way with so many other noticeable such instances.”

“Since it is in Bonus Feature we can laugh and be forgiving, but those red stiched lettering “FLASH” in the black underwear band was bad, but funny as hell,” her husband noted.

REVIEW RATINGS

By Jack Dennis

In a quirky sort of way, after the movie was over, guests had left and with alone time to reflect, I actually enjoyed Lady Lawman in a campy, nonsensical sort of fashion.

It reminded me of the same illogical, but fun emotions I experienced when my neighborhood pals and I would take the bus downtown to the (now defunct) Texas Theater in San Antonio to watch old 1950s Ed Wood horror and sci-fi movies. The props were ludicrous and the actors (an old Bela Lugosi, Doris Fuller, Vampirella and Tor Johnson) were baffling strange–only Lady Lawman had far, far better acting.

Mauser seems to be sticking to his formula, making independent low budget movies the best he can with what resources he has. Personally, I think he’s better than this. If he would accept writing, continuity and professional costuming help, rather than attempt to tackle as much of it as he can by himself, he could churn out some better products. He has some of the talent and much experience around him, but perhaps this is his comfortable niche.

Effort, B+

Acting, B overall.

Acting, Ryan Jasso and Jecmenek, A-

Production, C+

Writing, C+

Music, B+

Authenticity, C

Total Movie: B-

(Low) 1 to 10 (High) Scale, Five Person Composite

Effort = 8.2

Acting = 6.6

Production = 6.9

Music = 8.6

Authenticity = 5.2

Total Movie = 6.7

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The ‘Hello, My Name is Jose Jiminez’ Eye Opener

When William Szathmary died on June 15, 2017, in Nashville, Tennessee, millions of fans who knew him, did not know him by his birth name.

Eleven years prior to his death, meeting American comedian Bill Dana was a complete surprise, because I had completely forgotten about the entertainer.

Like many baby boomers growing up in the 1960s, Dana would make America laugh with his signature, “Hello, my name is Jose Jiminez” astronaut routine. It was so popular, another celebrity, a country and western singing star, would adapt his own stage introductions with “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash!”

In 2006, I had the pleasure of meeting Buzz Aldrin, Wally Schirra, Gene Krantz, and other space related notables at the St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio, Texas.

Among some of the “celebrities” I talked with were movie and television stars James Drury (The Virginian, Disney’s Toby Tyler), Lana Wood (The Searchers, Peyton Place, Diamonds Are Forever) Clint Howard (Gentle Ben, Apollo 13), and Warren Stevens (Forbidden Planet). It was certainly an unexpected eye opener to spend some time with Bill Dana.

“Okay, José, you’re on your way!”


With those words, radioed to Alan Shepard as he lifted off to become the first American astronaut to fly into space on May 5, 1961, Bill Dana’s role in NASA history was sealed.

Because of his popularity portraying “José Jiménez,” Dana was bestowed the title of being the eighth of the Mercury 7 astronauts.

When he died on that June 15th in 2017, Dana was 92.

“He’ll be missed not only by the astronaut family, but many more around the world,” said Tammy Sudler, president and CEO of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. “Bill Dana was lovingly known as our honorary Mercury 8 astronaut.”

First created in 1959 for “The Steve Allen Show” and later appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” José Jiménez held several positions, including an elevator operator, a bobsled racer, a Navy submariner and a lion tamer, but it was as the shiny-spacesuited, reluctant astronaut that the Bolivian character became famous (Dana was of Hungarian-Jewish ancestry in reality).

“What do you consider the most important thing in rocket travel?” asked Ed Sullivan, playing the straight man during one of Dana’s better-known skits.

“To me the most important thing in the rocket travel is the blast-off,” said Dana.

“The blast-off…” repeated Sullivan.

“I always take a blast before I take off. Otherwise, I would not go near that thing,” Dana quipped as Jiménez.

Dana’s José Jiménez routine was later released on record albums, rising to the Top 20 on the Billboard charts, which drew the attention of the real-life Mercury astronauts.

“The astronauts, especially Shepard, absolutely loved the record, and listened to it in the office after intense training sessions,” author Neal Thompson described in “Light This Candle” (Crown, 2004), his biography of the first astronaut. “Shepard even tape recorded the album and during lulls between training exercises or during test launches at the Cape would play the tapes at full volume near the Mission Control loudspeakers.”

The astronaut and comedian first met at a Cocoa Beach night club, where Shepard — from out in the audience and without the prior knowledge of Dana — took on the role of the straight man, setting up Jiménez’s replies. Soon, fellow astronauts Wally Schirra and Deke Slayton joined in.

Dana, 3rd from left with Mercury astronauts



“The club was roaring as the three astronauts took turns,” wrote Thompson. After the show, Dana hurried to a phone to call his producer in New York.

“‘They know us. They know every word. And they love us,” exclaimed Dana, as described by Thompson.

Shepard and the other astronauts’ fondness for Dana and his character led to José Jiménez becoming the unofficial mascot of the Mercury program.

In addition to inspiring the 1961 launch call between Slayton (in the blockhouse) and Shepard (on top of a Redstone rocket), Dana performed at President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball with Shepard in attendance.

The comedian also inspired a “gotcha” – a practical joke – that Shepard arranged in secret for John Glenn to discover once aboard his Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft. Opening up a pouch while in orbit, Glenn was surprised by a small stuffed mouse floating free, a reference to the “leetle mice” Jiménez would cite as fellow test subjects in his routine.

Sammy Davis, Jr. Meets Archie Bunker

One of the most celebrated televised episodes of the classic and controversial All in the Family aired in 1972. It’s the tale about the time entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. stopped by to visit the Bunkers.

It begins with a briefcase he left in Archie’s cab and ends with the kiss of infamy. Very few people are aware that the writer of this episode was Bill Dana.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS



🔹Born William Szathmary in Quincy, Massachusetts on Oct. 5, 1924, Dana served as a gunner and mortarman in the U.S. Army during World War II.

🔹He began his career in comedy as a page and a writer for other comedians’ stand-up routines.

🔹Dana was also a screenwriter for television and movies, writing the Emmy-Award-winning “All in the Family” episode, “Sammy Davis Visits Archie Bunker” (1972), penning jokes for the “Donny and Marie” show (1977-1978), and co-writing the script for the “Get Smart” film “The Nude Bomb” (1980).

Dana also showed up as José Jiménez in a number of TV cameos, including as part of a 1966 episode of “Batman,” appearing alongside the late Adam West and Burt Ward.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.