Who is Frank Dux – the main character from the movie Bloodsport?

In the mid-1980s, screenwriter Sheldon Lettich, who was gaining increasing fame in the profession, was introduced by his friend Richard Bender to a certain Frank Dux, a martial arts instructor who told him some interesting stories. One of them was his participation in a secret tournament called Kumite organised every five years by the International Fighting Arts Association (IFAA). The story was also confirmed by Bender. To back up his words, Dux showed a paper from the trade magazine Black Belt. The newspaper pointed out at the beginning that it had only been able to verify some of the facts, but there were enough of them to consider the story worthy of publication. According to Dux, the secret tournament involves fighters from all over the world, fighting in a full-contact format. Each fighter fought 20 bouts a day – 10 in the morning and 10 in the afternoon. This was made possible by the relatively fast fights, which were expected to last an average of 30 seconds. The fights took place three at a time (thanks to weight class divisions), right up to the final. The difficulty level increased. At first, the fights were carried out on a large mat, then on a smaller one, and finally, on the last day, on the roof of a building. The defeated opponent had to leave the tournament the same day. The competition lasted three days and determined the ultimate winner – the best fighter in the world. This tournament was won by Frank Dux.

Dux claims that he owes both the invitation and victory in the tournament to his master, Senzo Tanaka. It was he who was said to have trained Dux in the martial art known as Koga Yamabushi Ninjutsu from childhood. Tanaka himself was to win a Kumite tournament in his youth. To be admitted to the Kumite, one had to be a member of the IFAA, and the organization’s envoys would test the prospective fighter’s skills before sending an invitation. For an article in Black Belt, Dux posed with a large trophy received for his victory and boasted of having acquired a ritual sword. He also told Lettich about his experiences in Vietnam, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor, and mentioned his work for the CIA. Sheldon was not interested in Dux’s war experiences, as he himself was a Vietnam War veteran, but he was very interested in the story of the secret tournament. He wrote a script based on it, which was bought out by Cannon Films, the legendary b-grade action film studio. The film was an incredible success, earning $65 million worldwide on a microscopic budget of 2.3 million, and made van Damme an action movie star. However, the success caught the attention of many. The words “the movie was based on true events” and Frank’s impressive record shown at the end of the movie were of particular interest to viewers.

Now let’s check Frank’s claims.

Kumite

Kumite is a secret martial arts tournament held every five years. The only people who confirm its existence are Frank himself and those around him. The aforementioned Richard Bender, who not only confirmed Dux’s claims but even claimed to have seen the tournament with his own eyes, later recanted everything. According to his words, Frank was supposed to have persuaded him to lie. It is also hard to find any trace of the IFAA organization that Frank refers to. In his words, the organization is not secret but “does not seek publicity.” Anyway, in the 1980s, the organization was supposed to have been disbanded. Interestingly, a journalistic investigation revealed that such an organization had actually been registered in the states for some time and its official address was… Frank Dux’s home address. The man himself explained that his victory in the tournament was intended to show the IFAA’s management the prowess of the Americans and that Dux was thus to be appointed the organization’s unofficial spokesman in order to recruit more fighters from the United States. Another inaccuracy is the organization’s websites with that name. One is poorly made. The other website is a little better, under which we can find information about the organization, its history and members. The problem is that the gallery mostly hangs pictures of Frank and another very famous martial arts “expert” – Count Dante. More on him later.

Kumite Rules

According to an article in Black Belt magazine, each athlete had 10 fights in the morning and 10 in the afternoon. This means that there must have been at least 20 other fighters in addition to Dux. However, the same article also mentions a weight division, so the number must have at least doubled, if not tripled. An additional rule was that the defeated player had to leave the tournament grounds, the same day. Therefore, if on the second day, a fighter was fighting 20 fights again, there had to be even more competitors. How many are we talking about? 100, 200? In addition, there are the team members (coaches, medics) and the audience. Then there was the technical staff – the fights were to be recorded by 16 special cameras, which had to be operated by specialists in such matters. From a logistical point of view, this is a very big event. All the things involved, such as accommodation, catering, put into question the secrecy of such a tournament. Finally, we come to the financial side. It would have to cost a fortune to organize such an event. Where would an organization unknown to anyone get the funds to do this? Dux claims to have been misunderstood. There were to be 20 competitors and they were to fight each other one by one. That is, each fighter had to face the 19 remaining opponents. This explanation makes the case look even more absurd. Leaving aside even the bizarre structure of such a tournament (how do fighters get eliminated?) there remains the question of knockouts. Frank claims to have knocked out 56 opponents in a row in one tournament. How could he have done that if he was winning the tournament after beating the other 19? Well, unless his opponents didn’t care about such trifles as losing consciousness, they just got up and kept fighting. Given that the same people also fought each other (each had 10 fights in the morning and 10 in the evening), this meant that the average fighter was knocked out several times a day(!). Who would want to watch a fight with a frazzled person on the verge of falling into a coma?

Trophy

Frank posed for a magazine with a large trophy as a prize for winning Kumite tournament. However, journalists discovered that the trophy had been ordered by Frank himself from a specialist souvenir and trophy shop. This shop is located just a few miles from where Dux lives. An invoice issued in the name of the “winner” was also revealed. The person concerned denied everything, claiming that anyone with access to a photocopier could have fabricated such a document.

Even more interesting is the case of ritual bushido sword that Frank received for winning the tournament. Dux claimed that with its help he had ransomed kidnapped orphans from the pirates. According to his version, while in the Bahamas, he stumbled upon the trail of a pirate shaykh trafficking children. Frank allegedly ransomed one of the orphans, giving up his sword in return.

Military service

No military documents confirm Frank’s presence abroad in the United States. Dux served in the military, but was never on any missions. A framed newspaper article praising his heroic service can be found in Dux’s apartment, but this newspaper does not have an article with such content in its archives. An investigation by an LA Times journalist revealed that Dux was only injured once during his military service – when he fell off a truck while painting it. Even more interesting is the story behind the Medal of Honor, the US military’s highest decoration. Dux was never able to present it, but as proof he would show friends a photo of him posing with a completely different medal. In 1998, the book Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History was published by B.G. Burkett, in which he focuses on imposters claiming military credit. Its author, exercising his right of access to public information, was able to gain insight into Frank’s file. It showed that Dux had never been to Vietnam and that he was not on the list of elite Medal of Honor winners. Frank responded by stating that his career in the CIA was classified and that an ordinary person, exercising his right to public information, was unable to obtain the relevant documents. The whole affair ended up in a lawsuit, which Frank brought against not the publisher of the book, but the trade magazine Soldier of Fortune. Why them? Because the magazine had published a review of Burkett’s book, praising it, and some reflections on the likelihood of Frank’s military career. Dux lost the trial.

One other unexplained issue is the duration of Frank’s service. According to Dux’s documents, he enlisted in the army in 1975 at the age of 18, while US troops had already withdrawn from Vietnam in 1972. Frank countered by claiming that he had performed some intelligence-related missions, although not in Vietnam but somewhere in the local area (the exact location cannot be given for reasons of official secrecy) and not during the war but after it ended. Dux’s unit mate does not recall him receiving any medals, as he had nothing to show for it. The medals were also alluded to by screenwriter Lettich, who confronted Dux with the facts, to which he denied mentioning any medal. Finally, it is worth noting that Dux’s official military papers mention mythomania.

 

CIA career

Dux claims to have completed covert missions for the CIA between 1981 and 1987 under Director William Casey. He described these events in detail in his 1996 memoir The Secret Man: An American Warrior’s Uncensored Story (in the same book, Dux is credited with launching the MMA). Dux claims he was brought into the agency because Casey (CIA director) suspected a mole in it. Below is a direct quote from the interview with Dux.

The agency did and still does have counterespionage operatives – but Casey didn’t know exactly who he could trust. And when you’re dealing with problems at this level, and working within normal channels, information frequently leaks to the press or becomes public knowledge. Casey wanted to avoid that at all costs. In situations where things got really dirty and nasty, my job was to seek the truth. Once I discovered it I had authority to dispense justice as I saw fit. I was essentially acting as judge, jury and executioner.

 

Master Senzo Tanaka

Dux claims that he was taught to fight by Japanese master Senzo “Tiger” Tanaka. However, there has never been any Japanese associated with ninjitsu in the United States by that name. Nor are there any historical records of the Tanaka clan. Neither are any martial arts people familiar with him, including one of America’s most famous ninjitsu experts, Stephen K. Hayes.

Dux countered the allegations by claiming that his master was dead, but he was unable to provide the location of a grave, nor did he know anything about the Tanaka family’s subsequent fate. The persistent journalist searched the official death records for the period given by Frank and could not find even one person in California with that name who died during the period mentioned. Confronted once again, Dux said that Tanaka was not a real name, but a nickname, and that he would not give his real name. However, the journalist admitted that he had come across a lead. He told Frank that he had only found one person with the name Tiger Tanaka. It turned out that he was referring to the character Tiger Tanaka from the film “You Only Live Twice” Frank’s response to this was that his master had probably met Ian Fleming (the creator of the Bond character) and that’s where he got the idea for the name of the head of Japanese intelligence.

Senzo Tanaka in You Only Live Twice

In 2017, a new twist to the story came to light. Frank Dux found evidence of Senzo Tanaka’s existence. He found not only a death certificate, but also a document issued to immigrants coming to the United States. Unfortunately, we won’t find out much from these documents, as they don’t show any other data, so a person who could have lived anywhere in the United States is involved. Well, and it doesn’t explain why Frank didn’t know anything about his master or his family living with him.

Process with JCVD

In 1998, Frank Dux sued JCVD. It was about an unrealized joint project called Kumite. The two men had been friends since Bloodsport, and Dux had even dated the Belgian star’s sister-in-law. In the first half of the 1990s, Dux and van Damme worked together on a script for a movie called Kumite. Unfortunately, the company producing this film, went bust. Van Damme abandoned the project and began filming his directorial debut, The Quest. Dux decided that The Quest was a mere reworking of their joint project and demanded a fee and inclusion in the credits. The case went to court. Dux claimed that he had a verbal agreement, with JCVD. Their conversation on the subject was supposed to have been secretly recorded on a cassette tape, unfortunately the recording was destroyed in the earthquake. However, the defence called Dux’s neighbor as a witness, who testified that Frank’s house suffered no damage during the aforementioned earthquake. Dux lost the trial.

Count Dante

After the success of Enter the Dragon, martial arts schools sprang up like mushrooms in the 1970s. By the 1980s, the market was already saturated. Some “masters,” in order to attract more customers to their schools, tweaked their resumes a bit. Such a person was a certain Count Dante, calling himself, “the most dangerous man on earth.” It was he who invented the Dim-Mak (the touch of death – i.e. killing an opponent with one blow), later copied by Frank. Dante also published a comic strip showcasing his adventures and extraordinary skills. Like Frank, he created among his friends a lot of legends about himself. This brought him great fame and clients. By creating fictional stories about himself, Dux probably wanted to replicate Dante’s success. His links to Count Dante, for example, can be seen from the above-mentioned photos on the IFAA website, and from certain recurring terms thrown around by both men (Dim-Mak, Black Dragon Society, etc.).

 

Sources:

https://archive.org/details/soldieroffortunemagazine/Soldier%20of%20Fortune%20%5B1996%2708%5D/page/n38/mode/1up

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1988-05-01-me-3111-story.html

https://allthatsinteresting.com/frank-dux

https://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/bloodsport.php

Lies, Litigation, And Jean-Claude Van Damme: An Exploration Into The Reality Behind ‘Bloodsport’

http://martial-arts-network.com/q&a5.htm

http://www.ifaausa.com/

 

Why are there small rubber hairs on tires?

Some people wonder why there are tiny rubber hairs on new tires. Do they have anything to do with grip? Water drainage? Or are they related to snow? None of these things – these hairs have no use and are a side effect of production.

Tyre is made of layers of different materials, overlapped during the manufacturing process. At the very end, it is covered with rubber. At this point, the tyre is still completely smooth. At this stage of production, it is merely a mould from which the desired tread shape is extruded. For this purpose, a tyre goes into a special press. The walls of press are hot and cause the rubber to melt. At the same time, the machine pushes the tyre from the inside to mould it into the desired pattern. There are tiny holes in the walls of machine through which air trapped between the tyre and the walls of press escapes. As a result of pressure, after all the air has escaped, some rubber enters the holes and forms rubber hairs. These hairs are not removed, as they pose no risk to the use of tyres. In case of more expensive tyres, the manufacturing process is slightly different and uses more advanced equipment, so that the hairs do not form at all.

Sources:

https://www.tyrepower.com.au/news/what-are-the-little-rubber-hairs-on-tyres

Why do new tires have rubber hair on them?

https://www.toyotires.com.au/news/why-do-my-tyres-have-hairs

Why Stephen King wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman?

In 1977, Stephen King’s career flourished. His first three books, Carrie, Salem’s Lot and The Shining, had become worldwide bestsellers, and the author was already creating another blockbuster – over a thousand pages of The Stand. In addition, he had a drawer full of previously unpublished novels. With a frantic pace of creation (the author supported himself with stimulants), the writer had more material than he could publish. In those days, most publishers were limited to one book a year by a given author. The idea was not to over-saturate the market, which could negatively affect sales. To get around the restriction, King came up with the idea of publishing his old works under a pen name.

The birth of Richard Bachman

The first was the novel Getting It On. King chose the nickname Guy Pillsbury for it – after his grandfather on his mother’s side. Unfortunately, it turned out that some employees of the publishing house associated facts. This meant that this nickname would quickly become an open secret. King withdrew the manuscript and changed the title to Rage. It remained to come up with a new nickname. When the publisher called about it, King had no idea, so he started looking around the room. The music of the band Bachman Turner Overdrive was playing from the stereo and a Richard Stark novel was lying on the desk. King quickly combined the two names and thus Richard Bachman was born.

Rage was published in 1977. It was followed by the publication of: The Long Walk in 1979, Roadwork in 1981 and The Running Man in 1982. Although reviews were good, sales were low compared to books published under King’s name. Bachman was also not inundated with hundreds of fan letters. However, King liked the whole situation. He was amused by the compliments paid by the same critics who considered him a poor writer.

Thinner

In 1984, Bachman published his fifth novel, titled Thinner. It was King’s first novel written as a contemporary. Bachman’s previous novels were old King drafts lingering in a drawer from his college days. This made them different in style and subject matter. Thinner resembled King’s other books and was a typical horror story for the author. As if that were not enough, King made several allusions to himself in the book, which also could not fail to catch the attention of readers. One of them was a bookseller from Washington, D.C., Stephen Brown. Brown had already noticed some similarities in the previous ones, but Thinner was so close to King’s style that the bookseller decided to conduct his own investigation. It led him to the Library of Congress, where he found the ultimate proof. The copyright of Bachman’s novel was registered to Kirby McCauley – King’s agent. However, it turned out that Bachman’s first novel, Rage, was registered to King himself.

Brown wrote McCauley a letter detailing the result of his investigation. To his surprise, in response he got a call from Stephen King, who admitted the mystification and offered Brown an exclusive interview. The writer wasn’t entirely happy with the discovery of his secret, as he intended to write under a nickname for a long time to come, but in the face of unmasking and growing suspicion, he decided to end the masquerade. The author also revealed another secret. The photo appearing on the back cover depicted Richard Manuel – a friend of McCauley. Manuel was chosen because he lived in the provinces, so there was less chance that someone would recognize him on the street.

The Dark Half

The creators of movie The Running Man, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, benefited the most from the whole affair, as they managed to buy the copyright to a book by one of the most widely read writers for a penny. King also took advantage of the situation, writing the novel The Dark Half in 1989. It tells the story of a writer who creates under a nickname. When the writer reveals his secret to the world, his “dark half” comes to life and starts murdering people around him. The novel lived to see a movie adaptation and a game with the same title.

Despite the mystery’s revelation, Bachman published two more novels. In 1996, a novel titled Desperation was published under King’s name, and a novel titled The Regulators was published under Bachman’s nickname. The books told different stories, but featured the same characters. Another easter egg were the books’ covers, which when pressed together, formed a single unit. As Bachman was already officially dead at the time, the preface stated that this was a posthumously found novel. Bachman’s most recent novel is Blaze, published in 2007.

Bachman’s novels are regularly reissued, but with the notation “Stephen King’s literary nickname,” or “The Bachman books.” The only book that King does not want to reissue is Rage. However, the reason is not the low literary value, but the subject matter. The book is about a school shooting, so King is afraid of negative connotations with real events of this type.

The last time King used his pseudonym was during his appearance in the series Sons of Anarchy. In it, the author plays a grim mortician who disposes of corpses for criminal groups. The character’s name is actually Bachman.

Why don’t we use water-fuelled cars?

It is estimated that as much as 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. We have a gigantic, almost infinite supply of this resource at our disposal. Taking into account that we are likely to exhaust our fossil fuel reserves later this century, wouldn’t it be worth looking at water as a potential energy source? If only water could be used as a fuel, we would gain energy security. Some people even claim to already have such technology and own a water-powered car. So why aren’t water-powered vehicles in mass production? Inventors claim that their efforts are being bombarded by energy corporations that do not want to lose their monopoly on supplying humanity with fuel. The truth, unfortunately, is quite different.

Water-powered cars are a pipe dream. Of course, this is not nonsense completely made up, as energy can be obtained from water and used to propel a vehicle. Unfortunately, there is a long way from theory to practice.

Electrolysis of water

A water molecule contains one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms, connected to each other by chemical bonds. Of course, water alone cannot be “burned” in any way, but it can be separated into oxygen and hydrogen. Yet accomplishing this is surprisingly simple. To build a car powered by water it is enough to install a simple electrolytic cell under the hood of the vehicle. Our car only needs to supply electricity to the system, which will initiate the electrolysis of water into a gaseous mixture of hydrogen and oxygen, often referred to as HHO or oxyhydrogen. This will produce a fuel that can be used to power a car. As you can see, it is simple to perform water electrolysis from the video below.

Thus, powering a car with water is extremely simple. So why hasn’t the world been dominated by water-powered cars? The answer is very simple – in order to convert water into fuel, we need to use as much energy as we get from electrolysis. And this is under ideal conditions. You still have to deduct heat losses in the engine, alternator and electrolyzer. To sum up, by converting water into fuel, we lose more energy than we gain.

Hydrogen cars

As of now, there is no method to obtain more energy from electrolysis of water, and it doesn’t look like it will happen in the future. However, it is surprising to see cars on the road that operate on the exact opposite principle. Instead of breaking water into molecules, hydrogen cars use a reaction to bind hydrogen and oxygen into water molecules, during which electricity is generated. This process is much more energy efficient and could be the automotive future. Such cars are relatively expensive for the moment and have some drawbacks, but in the future the technology should make it possible to reduce the cost of producing them.

What is Chekhov’s gun?

Chekhov’s rifle, also known as Chekhov’s gun, is a compositional principle invented by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. Chekhov is widely regarded as one of the great masters of Russian literature. The principle reads:

One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn’t going to go off. It’s wrong to make promises you don’t mean to keep.

In practice, the idea is that the filmmaker should not focus the reader’s or viewer’s attention on things that have no meaning later on. Suppose we are watching a movie. The first scene shows the main character training at the gym. He is pushing a lot of weight, boxing and running on a treadmill. The scene tells us a lot about the character. He takes care of his physical condition, is very strong and knows how to fight. If we are dealing with action cinema, this scene is significant, as it makes clear about the main character’s skills. But what if we are dealing with a courtroom drama, during which the character does not use physical strength? The scene becomes completely unnecessary. This is what Chekhov’s gun principle is all about. A screenwriter shouldn’t focus on things that aren’t important, but on things that bring something to the work.

Anton Chekhov (Wikimedia commons)

We can find examples of Chekhov’s gun in almost every movie. Tradition of the series about the adventures of James Bond is a scene in which the main character receives some gadget, which later helps him get out of trouble. In the movies about the adventures of Harry Potter the wizard, in almost every scene the character learns some spell that will be used in a dramatic moment. Unfortunately, this principle also has a drawback. If used in an unskillful way, it can make the movie predictable. In the film “Prometheus,” when we as the viewer are introduced to the surgical chamber, we can immediately guess that it will be used to remove an alien. Once this happens we do not feel any tension or surprise. For this reason, the filmmakers try to camouflage Chekhov’s gun.

NOTES. Below are spoilers from the TV series Breaking Bad and the movie Jaws

The following scene from the TV series Breaking Bad is an example. In it, a resigned character is playing with a gun. In the background we see a seemingly insignificant plant. However, as it turns out later, it was this plant (Lily of the Valley) that was used by the main character to poison one of the secondary characters, which launched a whole series of tragic events.

Another good example comes from Steven Spielberg’s film Jaws. When the character played by Roy Scheider causes an oxygen cylinder to fall out, he gets a rebuke from his colleague:

“Damn it, Martin! This is compressed air! You screw around with these tanks, and they’re gonna blow up!”

The scene looks natural, and it’s hard for the viewer to guess at this point that the scene with the cylinder was no accident.

Sometimes the rule is broken deliberately. An example is the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” where the main character is confronted with a well-trained opponent armed with a powerful sword. After the demonstration of the opponent’s skills, the viewer expects a spectacular fight scene. Meanwhile…

 

Is RRR Based on true story?

Are the characters shown in the RRR movie real? Yes, but most of their on-screen adventures are fiction. The authors loosely mixed some facts, from the revolutionaries’ lives with conjecture and a healthy dose of horse imagination. Well, I guess we don’t have to explain to anyone that no one threw tigers at British soldiers.

Alluri Sitarama Raju

Alluri Seetharama Raju was born in 1897 (according to other sources in 1898). As a young man, he traveled around the country. After dropping out of college, he became interested in religion. Raju began practicing sannyasa, which means giving up materialistic desires and devoting to spiritual meditation. During his travels, he witnessed many atrocities committed by the British. He also became acquainted with the revolutionary movement. Eventually settled in the Visakhapatnam region where he lived among the Manyam tribes. His natural charisma caused him to quickly gain fame and respect. As Raju was an extremely religious person, people began to believe that he possessed superhuman powers and was some sort of messiah. Some of these myths were probably created by Raju himself.

For the tribes under him, the biggest problem was the British jungle regulations. The tribes practiced a technique called podu. Tribe would select an area of jungle, then burn it for farmland. This type of land was fertile and yielded a lot of crops. This disturbed the English, as they preferred to use the wood to build railroads and ships. Public discontent with the harsh regulations led to the Manyama Rebellion (also known as the Rampa Rebellion) in 1922, led by Raju.

 

Raju’s tactics were based on guerrilla warfare. The leader trained people in fighting techniques with white weapons (bows, spears) and developed methods of simple communication (whistles, beating drums). He and his trained troop ransacked police stations, seizing weapons and ammunition from them. In the movie, a reference to these events is the plan to give every Indian a gun. With each attack, his fame and number of followers grew. The rebel was becoming a folk hero. The British couldn’t catch him because they didn’t know the area, and local residents refused to cooperate. The manhunt lasted two years. On May 7, 1924, Raju was caught and executed by firing squad.

The circumstances of his father’s death, his career in the police, and his grand plan for revenge are the work of fiction.

Komaram Bheem

Komaram Bheem was born in 1900 in the southern Indian village of Sankepalli. The area was the seat of an independent state of Muslim Nizams. The Nizams recognized British sovereignty in exchange for retaining power. Although they were subject to the British, their area retained partial autonomy. Muslim superiors enforced discipline in extremely cruel ways. A minor infraction was punishable by amputation of a limb and death for opposition. This is how Bheem’s father died.

In his youth, Bheem killed a tax collector terrorizing the village. This forced him to escape to Ćandrapur, where he took refuge with a publisher distributing anti-British press. Working at the publishing house was a substitute for education. Bheem learned to read and write English, Hindi and Urdu, as well as learned the basics of law. When his employer was arrested, Bheem fled to Assam, where he worked on a plantation. There he was arrested for participating in a protest.

 

After escaping from prison (after only four days), Bheem returned to his hometown. He became the village supervisor’s right-hand man. Using his knowledge of languages, he helped in legal disputes. This brought him local fame. At the same time he got married. After some time, he and his wife returned to the Gond tribe (from which he originated) to cultivate the land. There, the situation from his childhood repeated. The Nizams tried to force him to leave the inhabited land, arguing that it belonged to the state. At first Bheem tried to lodge complaints, directly with the Nizam (the region’s ruler), but when these went unanswered, he organized a militia and began a guerrilla war that lasted 12 years. His main demand was to recognize the lands of the Gond tribe as an area independent of the Nizam. His troops were extremely difficult to track, as Bheem was supported by the leaders of at least a dozen local tribes. Eventually, the Nizams hired a paid informant. The result was an ambush prepared in September 1940. Although Bheem’s men were armed only with primitive white weapons (javelins, bows, axes), Bheem refused to surrender and fell in the battle. In the movie, a reference is made in the scene of the death of Raju’s father. The legend claims that the enemies shot at his body until it turned into a shapeless mass, as they feared that Bheem, with the help of sorcery, would return from the afterlife.

Did Bheem and Raju ever meet?

Their paths probably never crossed. By the time Bheem was working on the plantation, the Raju rebellion was already underway, so Bheem must have heard of him, but the chances that they had at least brief contact are very small. It is also known that Bheem was motivated to revolt by the legend of another revolutionary, Ramji Gond.

 

Are there any other movies about Bheem and Raju?

Both characters in the movie have been portrayed before.

In 1974, the movie “Alluri Seetarama Raju” was released.

In 1990, a work dedicated to Bheem was filmed, entitled “Komaram Bheem.”

Sources:

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/national/alluri-sitarama-raju-a-jungle-warrior-who-kindled-the-spirit-of-freedom-among-the-tribals/article65595197.ece

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komaram_Bheem

Komaram Bheem Wiki, Age, Death, Wife, Family, Biography & More

Who is Alan Smithee?

Several “talented” artists may contend for the title of the worst-ever filmmaker. There is Uwe Boll, an expert in failed adaptations of video game franchises, Ed Wood, a 1960s classic, and a self-taught amateur Tommy Wiseau, to name just a few. However, in terms of completed works, there is no match for a Hollywood legend – Alan Smithee. He made more than 60 very bad movies in his career. Who is this genius of bad taste?

Enormously powerful forces clash while making a movie. Theoretically, the director has the dominant power on the set, however in practice, s/he is subjected to the studio and producers. Film studios frequently try to influence directors to force a completely adverse vision of the movie. The director tries to make a gloomy work, whereas the studio wants the movie to receive a rating making it suitable for all ages. The director seeks flamboyance, but the producer wants to economize. Needless to say, some capricious actors may ruin the movie production. The director does his (or her) best to reconcile their vision with the requirements of others, however, sometimes even the best efforts are futile and the completed work has nothing to do with the planned movie. This is when Alan Smithee comes into play.

Death of a Gunfighter

Before 1968 the regulations of the Directors Guild of America did not make it possible to use pseudonyms. The aim was to protect directors against producers, who could blackmail this way the subordinates they find problematic. “If you don’t make the movie the way we want it, you’re out of the credits.” The situation changed in 1969, when the movie Death of a Gunfighter, directed by Robert Totten, was made. While the movie was being shot, the actor Richard Widmark forced an engagement of a new director – Don Siegel. Siegel spent 10 days on the set, whereas Totten as many as 25. Siegel concluded, then, that Totten should be credited as the director, however, the latter declined. The two men lodged a complaint with the Directors Guild, and the members of the board dealing with the dispute decided the movie does not represent the vision of either of the directors. For this reason, the solution of the Guild was to credit the movie to a fictional director, Alan Smith. However, when it turned out several directors bear this name, it was changed to Smithee. This is how a scapegoat was created, who was to take the responsibility for the movies whose authors did not want to recognize as theirs.

 

Ironically, the movie received critical acclaim. Even Roger Ebert, a famous film critic, was enthusiastic. Death of a Gunfighter proved to be one of the best-rated movies of 1969. Following the precedent, several directors requested the Guild to remove their names from the credits. Alan Smithee became an industry standard soon. Directors of dozens of movies used the name.

Marketing specialists try to conceal the name of an inconvenient director since it is a harbinger of a lame movie

Although Smithee was supposed to be an industry secret, it soon became an elephant in the room. “An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn” was made in 1997. The movie is about the director named Alan Smithee, who is so dissatisfied with the work that he decides to renounce it, however, the only solution the Guild offers him is his own name. The movie was directed by Arthur Hiller. What is really ironic is the fact that as a result of the studio’s pressure Hiller denounced the movie and the film about Alan Smithee was credited with the name of a fictional director. The confusion surrounding the film caused the name Smithee to become mainstream. For this reason, the Guild gave up its use. Since then the directors have been choosing a pseudonym to be used in the movie. The Supernova director, Walter Hill, chose to be Thomas Lee, and Accidental Love director, David O. Russell, left the product credited to Stephen Greene.

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Films_credited_to_Alan_Smithee

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2000-jan-15-ca-54271-story.html

https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/death-of-a-gunfighter-1969

https://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/alan-smithee.htm

George Stinney – the youngest person sentenced to the electric chair

George Junius Stinney, Jr. was a 14-year-old African American boy living in Alcolu, Clarendon County, South Carolina. Alcolu was a tiny town divided by the railroad tracks that ran through it. The tracks were an informal border – whites lived on one side and blacks on the other.

On March 22, 1944, two white girls – 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and 8-year-old Mary Emma Thames – left on bicycles to look for flowers. On the way, they met George Stinney and his sister Aime. The girls asked their siblings if they knew where to pick flowers. That was the last time they were seen. When the girls did not return home for the night, a search operation was organized and their bodies were found. Both victims had their heads smashed. Shortly after the bodies were found, George and his 17-year-old brother Johnny were arrested as suspects in their murders. After some time, Johnny was released, but George was detained for further questioning. During the interrogation, George confessed to the murder. The crime was alleged to have been committed on a sexual basis.

Mary Emma Thames, left, Betty June Binnicker, right

As news of the teenage killer spread through the town, George’s father was fired from his job and the whole family was evicted. They couldn’t stay anyway because they were threatened with lynching. The trial took place on April 24 and lasted only two hours. The jury had no doubt about the defendant’s guilt and returned 10 minutes later with the verdict. George was found guilty, and the jury recommended the most severe penalty. Since South Carolina law at the time considered persons over the age of 14 to be adults, Stinney was sentenced to death. An appeal was not filed because the family did not have the money to pay for legal services.

George’s family tried to publicize the case. They also asked the governor to halt the execution. To no avail. On June 16, 1944, less than three months after the crime, George Stinney was executed in the electric chair. Because Stinney was only 150 centimeters tall and 40 kilos in weight, the chair was too big and the electrode would fall off his head. To seat him properly, a Bible was placed on the seat (other sources cite a telephone book).

Given the evidence gathered, the case seems to be nothing short of a lynching in the majesty of the law. No statement signed by Stinney exists. George was interviewed by several white officers in a locked room without his parents or an attorney present. There is also no witness to the alleged confession other than the police officers. There was not even a single piece of physical evidence to link Stinney to the murders. George’s siblings provided him with an alibi. The public defender’s attorney did not object, even when the police witnesses told conflicting versions of the boy’s alleged confession to the alleged act. No trial transcript was produced. The jury was composed exclusively of white citizens. Blacks were not allowed into court at all. Even the governor was prejudiced, as indicated by his response to the pardon request, in which he wrote back that George had raped an older girl and then tried to repeat the act, but the body was too cold. However, it is unclear where the governor got this information, as the autopsy report indicated that no rape occurred.

Even after all these years, the case still evokes emotions. In 2004, a local historian obtained documents proving the boy’s innocence. On their basis, a new trial was held in 2014, in which the previous one was overturned. Formally George Stinney is now innocent, which unfortunately is little consolation for his family. The family of the victims, on the other hand, is very unhappy with the reversal of the verdict and believes that George is guilty. Besides, they are not the only ones. A former elementary school teacher (African American) stated that George often got into fights and once even injured a schoolmate with a knife. A woman (white) who lived in the neighborhood recalled that George was a local bully and once threatened to kill her and her friend.

Three films have been made about the Stinney case: Carolina Skeletons (1991), 83 Days (2018) and The Current: The Story of George Stinney (2017). There was also an opera production titled simply Stinney in 2015. However, the most famous film based on the infamous killing is The Green Mile, in which a giant with the mind of a child is convicted for the murder of two girls.

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/12/18/the-rush-job-conviction-of-14-year-old-george-stinney-exonerated-70-years-after-execution/

https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2014/mar/22/george-stinney-execution-verdict-innocent

https://files.deathpenaltyinfo.org/legacy/documents/State%20v.%20Stinney,%20Brief%20of%20Amicus%20Curiae%20CRRJ.pdf

Why are Kinder Surprise illegal in the US?

Many people are unaware of the consequences of trying to bring popular Kinder Surprise into the United States. In addition to having the egg itself confiscated, tourists can expect a hefty fine of several to several thousand dollars. Why has one of the largest countries in the world issued a crusade against chocolate eggs?

Sulfanilamide Elixir

The United States law called the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act prohibits the marketing of food products that contain a hidden inedible product. This means that a wedding cake with a plastic figurine standing on top is acceptable, but a cake with a hidden surprise that you have to get to by cutting out pieces of it is not. However, the bill was in response not to plastic toys hidden in cakes but to a tragedy that occurred in 1937 when more than 100 people died as a result of mass poisoning from a poorly prepared drug. In 1937, a product called Sulfanilamide Elixir was introduced to pharmacies. Diethylene glycol, a substance now used in antifreeze, among others, was used to dilute the substance. Glycol is toxic to the body. Unfortunately, drugs and food products were not subjected to as rigorous testing as they are today, because there were only laws prohibiting the use of drugs in their manufacture. Unaware of the toxicity of this substance, a chemist mixed an antibiotic with glycol and flavored it with raspberry juice. As a result of consumption of the preparation in 15 states at least 100 people died, including children. This caused a huge public outcry. The owner of the company added fuel to the fire by stating that he was not responsible for the deaths because he did not know about the product’s toxicity. The chemist responsible for the formula committed suicide.

Bottles of elixir sulfanilamide (Wikimedia commons)

In response to these events, the U.S. Senate passed a law that imposed a host of obligations on manufacturers of drugs, cosmetics and food products. The law is still in effect today. No one knew at the time that it would threaten the tiny toys hidden in chocolate eggs in the future.

Nestle Magic

Why isn’t anyone trying to change in terms of the unfortunate eggs? This is where the free market comes into play. In 1997, Nestle tried to launch a product in the US that was their answer to Kinder surprise egg. The product was called Nestle Magic and was a chocolate ball with a Disney toy hidden inside. Nestle armed with lawyers tried to challenge the position of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the representatives of which believed that the toy was unsafe. Nestle began lobbying the Senate to change the controversial law. However, it turned out that their competitor, Mars, was doing the same thing, only against them. Mars initially denied any involvement in the case, but it later emerged that the company was funding the case against Nestle. Successfully. Nestle lost. And because there is a law of precedent in the U.S., any company trying to introduce a similar product stands to lose in advance.

Kinder didn’t give up trying to bring eggs to the US market and thus Kinder Joy was created. This is an attempt to get around the act by selling an egg consisting of two halves. One half of the egg is filled chocolate and the other half hides a surprise toy. At the moment, it is the closest substitute for the iconic eggs in the US market.

Kinder joy ad (Source: Kinder.com)

Sources:

https://www.kinder.com/us/en/kinder-joy

https://www.fda.gov/files/about%20fda/published/The-Sulfanilamide-Disaster.pdf

 

Can humans eat grass?

Let us assume that we are a victim of some disaster and we have run out of food supplies. Can we eat grass to survive? In theory, yes – grass is non-toxic and edible. Unfortunately, in practice, eating grass will do us more harm than good.

There are two problems with eating grass. The first is that human stomachs are not adapted to digest raw leaves and grass. As a result, if we eat grass, we won’t absorb any nutrients from it, but only irritate the stomach, which can lead to problems such as dehydration caused by diarrhea. Raw grass can also be a source of germs, which will make our situation even worse. Finally, we may also pick some other plant along with the grass, which may even be poisonous. Animals, such as cows, can eat grass because they have stomachs with four chambers.

The second problem with eating grass is chewing it. Raw grass contains a lot of silica, which abrades the teeth. In animals adapted to eating grass, teeth grow slowly all the time, renewing the worn surface. For us, the dental clinic will be of necessity.

To get the most out of the nutrients in grass, it would have to be cooked. However, this actually is pointless. If we are not in a crisis, we have no need to eat grass, and if we are (e.g. if we have lost our way), we are unlikely to have a pot with us. Well, and even if we did, in the best case we would get a decoction resembling tea and its nutrients would be minimal.

 

Sources:

Foraging Survival Foods

Can You Eat Grass to Survive? What Does It Taste Like?

 

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