"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."


Glenn Reynolds:

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."

I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Time Traveler's Great-Grandfather

"I'm sort of amazed you haven't commented on this yet."

Charlie Chaplin's 1928 film "The Circus," was recently released on DVD. Where most DVD "extra features" consist of scenes that truly ought to have been deleted, and commentary of interest largely to relatives of the commentator, extra material related to a film made 80 years ago can't help but be interesting. In this case, that includes:
'Chaplin Today: The Circus,' documentary by Francois Ede, Deleted 10-minute sequence 'October 7-13, 1926,' Outtakes from a week of shooting Three home movies from the archives of Lord Louis Mountbatten 'The Hollywood Premiere (1928),' Reportage on the L.A. premiere 'Camera A, Camera B,' shots made simultaneously from the two cameras used 3-D Test footage by Roland Totheroh Excerpts from 'Circus Day' with Jackie Coogan -- an adaptation of a favorite children's book Photo gallery, film posters, trailers, interactive menus, and scene access.
One viewer of this extra material was a fellow named George Clarke, who is described as an "independent Irish documentary filmmaker." [We suspect this means he doesn't actually work a lot.] In looking at some of the footage, he thought he saw something odd: a random passerby, walking down the street, adopting the rather distinctive posture of . . . a person talking on a cell phone. So Clarke put together his own short documentary, so you can see for yourself:

I think this is fascinating. No matter how many times I've viewed the film: A. It looks like she's talking on a cell phone; and B. I can't figure out what else she could be doing. Put it this way: if you didn't know the pictures were 80 years old, you'd not think twice about it -- she's obviously talking on a cell phone.

Other explanations suggest the use of a primitive two-way radio (apparently tested for the first time that same year), or a hearing aid. A little bit of online research -- which I leave you to do for yourself -- shows these to be impossibilities. She's not adjusting her hair or a pair of glasses, and she's not purposely obscuring her face.  Her hand remains more or less in this odd position for quite a long time.

Of course, she's not actually using a cell phone. There are no other cell phones in 1928, even if she brought one with her from the future, so there's no one to talk to.  And do you really think we'll still be using hand-held communication devices once there's time travel?  The idea that she IS from the future, and just casually communicating with fellow travelers as she walks down the street is equally absurd. Why do so in plain view, using an instrument that those near her would find odd and inexplicable?  Moreover, given the size of movie cameras and associated equipment at the time, it's simply impossible that she doesn't know she's being filmed.

We suggest that the mysterious woman is holding nothing, and is purposely adopting a posture entirely meaningless in 1928; a posture which would remain unusual and unrecognizable until at least a half-century later. It's a clue. It's a message. And, of course, it's a joke.

But it would explain the plain envelope I received about 10 years ago, inside of which was an old photograph and a short note reading: "Be sure not to lose this picture, Great-great-grandfather, because before long, you're going to find it very, very funny. It's a photograph taken of me in 1928 or, put another way, 137 years after my birth in 2075.  Have fun with it!  Maria."  This is a copy of the photograph.

That's what I think.


Comments on "The Time Traveler's Great-Grandfather"


Anonymous Uncle M said ... (4:54 PM) : 

Well, here's another clue for you all, the walrus was Paul ...


Anonymous Uncle M said ... (5:40 PM) : 

Who's to say the scene was actually filmed in 1928? Ever seen Alien Autopsy? http://www.moviefone.com/movie/alien-autopsy-fact-or-fiction/1135575/main


post a comment