Four Times the Minions were Really Involved in Historical Events


The Minions are cute. They’re adorable. They’re evil. Well, maybe not exactly evil, but through their stupidity and drive to serve the world’s most powerful master, they usually end up not working for someone you’d invite to Thanksgiving (except the first guy on the list). As seen in the Minions movie last summer, they have been around forever. They first sought to serve a gigantic T-Rex, the world’s biggest and baddest dinosaur since no humans were around. They ended up accidentally killing him by pushing him into a volcano. Then came Count Dracula, who by all accounts, they served well. Unfortunately, when it came time to celebrating the Count’s 357th birthday, they killed him too by allowing sunlight into his castle. Lastly, they ended up in Napoleon’s Army during his ill-fated invasion of Russia. Napoleon’s fate was left up in the air, but it didn’t look good: totally by accident they kind of blew up the general with a cannon.

The Minions then wandered throughout history searching for their next “Big Boss”. After struggling, next thing you know, they end up in the 1960’s. First in New York, then in England. But what happened in the meantime? What mischief, destruction, and evil-doing were the Minions up to between the Napoleonic Wars and the 1960’s? They’re not exactly the best workers because their stupidity and absent-mindedness almost always leads to the death of their boss or some kind of massive catastrophe for whoever they are serving (and no, I checked; they never worked for the US Government). After doing some serious research and digging, I have uncovered four other instances of them popping up throughout history. So, peel back a banana, relax, and enjoy.

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“Halloween Twenty-Fifteen”: A Review of “Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies” (2012)

36b22cd14c7b3438a250fefdfc3eeed1Made during the turn-Lincoln-into-anything-you-want phase that was popular for about fifteen minutes back in 2012, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies is a typical Asylum film destined for endless showings on the Scy-Fy Channel, meaning yes, it is a bad movie—a very bad movie. With a title as such, let’s not even pretend this film ever had a chance of being good, or be pretentious enough to actually sit down and take it seriously. Even with me being highly defensive of how the Civil War is portrayed on film, all I can do here is laugh and grunt “Oh my God” every other scene or two. Putting aside the fact that Bill Oberst Jr., who plays Abraham Lincoln, is an acquaintance of mine, he actually does a great job here, considering what he has to work with. He takes his role seriously amidst the chaos of a zombie apocalypse set in 1863, where both Union and Confederate soldiers are coming back to life.

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Yes, “Ancient Aliens” Did Just Have an Episode on the Civil War


I bet you missed it, didn’t you? How lucky you are. As I sit down to write this, I am indeed still wondering if fortune smiled down upon me whilst I was looking through the channels for programs to DVR and saw an Ancient Aliens episode flip across the scene, and somewhere, my brain caught the words “Civil War”. Ha! I thought. It must have just been something else. That is how my eyes saw it. As I continued to scan, I decided to go back, and sure enough there was the episode from this latest season titled, “Aliens and the Civil War”. I gasped. I laughed. Then, I cried. I decided to save it for a later date so I could sit there, laptop in hand, and devote my entire attention to a minute-by-minute blog of what was going on during the show. It was in 2011 when I took this same approach, after stumbling on “Aliens and the Old West”. It was this episode which tried to argue that Harrison Ford’s newly released Cowboys and Aliens might be more fact than fiction. If you think that previous post and this one coming up now are all part of some gigantic, three-weeks-late, history-nut April Fool’s Day joke, you are wrong. These episodes really did air. You can catch them on re-runs.

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Historical Inaccuracy in the Preview of “Texas Rising”

When the History Channel comes out with a preview of their next production, I no longer get excited. Instead, I cringe. When I heard that they would be releasing a Texas and Alamo themed mini-series this May, my heart almost stopped, because of the soft spot I have for the Alamo story and how I knew it would be butchered by this studio. Boasting a cast consisting of Bill Paxton, Brendan Fraser, Ray Liotta, Rob Morrow, and Kris Kristofferson, and directed by Roland Joffe, Texas Rising does not look as bad as I expected, but much worse. The series will cover the Texas Revolution and the formation and early years of the Texas Rangers. The Alamo siege and battle appears to only be slightly larger than a footnote, merely setting up the story, which is fine. However, in just a few fleeting glimpses of such scenes in the film, I am already mightily concerned about the historical accuracy of this production. After all, this was the network that gave us a documentary on Gettysburg and still managed to get things wrong, and in some cases, blatantly fabricate or exaggerate certain information. Now, we get to a project that contains creative license, and oh my, might as well come to expect a flying saucer to land in the Alamo’s courtyard.


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“Turn” and Character Assassination: Meet the Real John Simcoe


As elaborated on in my review of the premiere episode of Turn this morning, the British army is not exactly portrayed in a positive light. Though there needs to be an antagonist in the series, I believe the production went too far in trying to vilify the British, and one character in particular, Lieutenant John Simcoe. This man was the main villain in the opening episode, seen as bloodthirsty, threatening, and adulterous; someone who will try to get whatever he wants by any means necessary. In reality, there did exist a John Graves Simcoe, however, he was radically different, and almost the antithesis of what was presented on AMC Sunday night. The term used to classify taking a real person in history and then having their portrayal starkly inaccurate is called “character assassination”. We see it all the time in films, when dramatic license is taken to show a character in a certain light to fit the plot, or, quite frankly, to make it easier for the writer. The fact is, the real John Simcoe was a man so distinguished that he would eventually become the Lt. Governor of Upper Canada, someone responsible for the establishment of courts, trial by jury, and most importantly, leading an abolitionist movement that sought to banish slavery from Canada. This is a far cry from the wigged buffoon presented in Turn, who has murderous revenge on his mind when dealing with the main character.

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Civil War Film Updates: “Copperhead” Blu-Ray Coming April 15; “To Appomattox” on the Way?


It has been a quiet last few months for me, but finally, thanks to recent history related media projects, including AMC’s Turn, I have found some things to write about:

  • It seems like forever, but Ron Maxwell’s Copperhead is finally getting released on Blu-Ray and DVD, next week, April 15. While the film did not do as well in theaters as I had hoped, this project will likely be an immense home video success, much like Gettysburg and Gods and Generals both were. Given the outstanding cinematography, I am expecting a great HD transfer that will be a feast for the eyes. Also, it is worthy to note that because the film garnered a PG-13 rating (and in my view, probably could have gotten just PG), the hope we can have is that this film will make its way into schools for use as an educational tool. The running time, family themes, and accessibility to people of all ages definitely makes this something that can be shown in a variety of settings, from trying to teach life on the homefront to middle schoolers, all the way up to high school and college with its dialogue about politics, anti-war sentiment, and states’ rights.

Gettysburg Journal 2013: A Little Investigating into the Death of Jennie Wade


Though never carved in stone, there are many people, History Channel included, who are of the opinion that the bullet that killed Jennie Wade (the only civilian to suffer such a fate during the three-day battle of Gettysburg) was fired from the attic window of the Farnsworth House, now operating as a small hotel and restaurant. While the house was indeed a hotbed of sharpshooter activity during the fighting that dragged in through the town, a little observation along with some common sense pretty much eliminates any possibility of this assertion being true. Though I have been to Gettysburg about ten times, I never actually bothered to follow the path between the two houses. While driving it by car today, I am of the very strong opinion that it would have been physically impossible for the bullet to have traveled such a route, this taking into account the modern structures that are scattered along the way, and what would have been there at the time of the battle. I am beginning to think that Earl Warren started this rumor, because the journey rivals that of the Magic Bullet Theory that his commission purported killed JFK. I have reached this conclusion even after considering that the shot was “spent”, meaning unintentional or possibly a ricochet.

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Gettysburg Journal 2013: A Ghost Story from the Soldier’s National Museum


“I bet you’re inundated with people asking about that Gettysburg episode from Haunted History, aren’t you?”, I asked the lady working in the Ghostly Images section of the Soldier’s National Museum, since the building, an old orphanage, was featured prominently in the episode. “Oh, yes!” was her response. The lady who was there today was named Karen, and we chatted for about fifteen minutes about the history of the building, as well as her own personal experiences. I’m sure she gets asked a lot, but I told her that I work at a haunted museum myself back in New Jersey, not to seem like just another one of those “tourists”. Anyway, she told me of a few occasions where the wind chimes and pendulums for sale there would swing on their own, with no one walking nearby, nor a blast of air hitting them. In one instance, two of them hit each other so hard that they got locked together. While this was interesting, it was what she showed me next that was even better, something that was not featured on the Haunted History episode, even though it was very relevant to what they were talking about. Perhaps, you could say, this is even an online exclusive.

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Another Trip to Gettysburg Next Week


What would summer be without a vacation to my favorite battlefield? This summer has absolutely flown by. I don’t think I have ever been busier, working hockey camps at two locations as well as managing a few websites and social media/publicity for different businesses and projects, and then of course, working at the museum. For this reason, I have not had much time to write, but I hope to crank out a few pieces next week from Gettysburg. Since I have been there so many times, I am eager to try something new. While I have denounced some of the commercialized ghost tours in the past, there is a ghost hunt program run out of the historic Farnsworth House that seems rather intriguing, one where they actually give you equipment and let you investigate the basement of the house as well as lead you to a part of the battlefield. The price for this is very fair (I’m a pretty good judge considering all the hunts/tours I have given or overseen myself here in New Jersey), so my father and I will definitely be giving it a try (I promise to write about my experiences, if there are any!). He is looking forward to getting away too, because he had surgery last month, making this not exactly the greatest summer on record. But he is doing well now, and the two of us will be taking the trip out there.

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“Haunted History” Gettysburg Episode Surprisingly Does Not Disappoint

One of the locations featured in the "Ghosts of Gettysburg" episode Friday night.
One of the locations featured in the “Ghosts of Gettysburg” episode Friday night.

As the readers of this blog will note, I am the first person to admit when I am wrong, and sometimes, I do it happily. Such is the case upon viewing the first two episodes of H2’s Haunted History, a series, so far, which has avoided all of the hokeyness and nonsensical over-exaggeration that plagues current ghost shows. I was fully expecting this to be the case, since that is the direction television has taken. I knew the series would take us to historic places, but I figured that would be the extent of the “history”. Instead, aside from a much-needed modernization of special effects and camerawork, this series is modeling the original in that it actually combines a decent amount of historical background information intermixed with ghost stories, all while shying away from those hilarious and obviously staged “ghost hunts”, put on for the camera crew. While I must say that the first episode, dealing with ghosts surrounding the various locations of Charles Manson and his murders, suffered from a lack of direction and identity (it did not know what it wanted to be: a ghost show or a documentary on the Manson Murders; sometimes I thought it had too much information, and not enough ghost stories), this episode on Gettysburg hopefully brought the series into its own, setting the stage for what is to come. Below is my breakdown:

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