9th Annual Rainier Independent Film Festival shines in Ashford, if only to small crowds

by Bruce A. Smith

The 9th Annual Rainier Independent Film Festival was held last weekend in the mountain town of Ashford, WA, and it was a strange mix of industry insiders, local artsy-types, and thirty-eight films – many of them weird, flawed, or fascinating.

 As “independent” films, they are generally not the kind of movie usually shown in a multiplex, and this lack of popular appeal limits the reach of the festival. As a result, the crowds were thin.

 But those in attendance were treated to a bevy of meaningful films even if viewers had to wade through a bunch of clunkers. Most of the films shown were short fiction or documentary types, and about a dozen of so feature-length movies averaging about 90 minutes in length, which were also the most appealing.

 The Friday night opener, Booze, Boys and Brownies was the quintessential “Indie” charmer, and later was voted the Audience’s Choice Award.

Profoundly lacking a narrative arc that would have had a beginning, middle and an end – with a resulting dramatic pay-off in the last scene – BB&B was instead a solid stitch work of beautifully crafted vignettes portraying a young woman’s pursuit of a movie career in Los Angeles.

 It’s a tough slog, and the heroine Viviane, played by Veronica Mannion, also finds that she has to sort through her feelings towards a slew of handsome lads, who are also dealing with their own turbulent desires for love, glory and commercial success.

 Basically, it’s a tangled mess, and everyone lubricates the friction of their lives with vodka and pastries. Hence, the title.

 Mannion, who also wrote the screenplay, produced the movie, and directed the shoot, is clearly a genius. Her acting is wonderful, and she brings a sonic touch that is sublime; and BB&B is sprinkled with musical interludes that are short and sweet, like miniature droplets of Rodgers and Hammerstein.

 In addition, the acting is tight and dynamic throughout, and the scenes are sharply crafted, even if they don’t build into a coherent momentum. In a sense, BB&B is a collection of twenty or so excellent mini-films, and one day we will see Mannion accept an Oscar for her work in a town she calls “Hell-A.”

 But until then she needs a top-notch mentor and a seasoned writer to shape her obvious talents.

 Sadly, the magic that was present in BB&B was missing in most of the short films presented at the festival, most of which lasted between 10-15 minutes.

 However, there were a couple of exceptions. One was a five- minute gem titled Nature, which spoofed Big Pharma ads, and showed the benefits of the outdoors as a remedy to life’s ills.

 “Ask your doctor if Nature is right for you,” is the tag line from Nature that continues to ring in my head and put a smile on my face.

 Another piece that also deserves attention is Mei-Mei. This is a thirty-minute film narrative by Dmae Roberts, which portrays the life of her mother, a Taiwanese immigrant who survived WWII. Their story has been featured on NPR.

 The feature films were uneven in quality, with one, Land of Leopold, being a real stinker. But most of the films I viewed, even if “not great,” were satisfying because they looked at themes not usually explored in commercial films, such as Wildlife and its approach to incest.

 Another stellar film was Imperial Dreams, the tale of a young African-American man released from prison who returns home to Watts with a profound determination to transform his life. Even though his frustrations are many, and his angry and discouragement real, the film is a touching look at one man’s journey to creating something greater in life.

 Imperial Dreams received the “Best Film Award” for the festival. Not only was this accolade richly deserved, film lovers will surely see this movie on a screen somewhere in the near future.

 Perhaps the most interesting part of RIFF was meeting the people who made the films. This festival is exceptional for creating an environment where actors, producers, film buffs and average Joes can mingle easily with each other and talk movies.

Thus, the highlight for me was spending half the weekend trading insights with film professionals, such as producers Luke Taylor of Buffalo 8 Productions in Hollywood, and the LA-based John Adams of The Adams Family Productions, along with the aforementioned Veronica Mannion. We talked animatedly on the nitty-gritty of making a movie with very little money.

 Adams’ worthy effort, The Shoot, was filmed for 30K, while Mannion said her Booze, Boys and Brownies was made for 20K!

 Yet Taylor was courageous enough to tell me how his company attempted to fix the 250K Leopold with voice-overs when the initial shooting showed the movie to be woefully deficient.

 “We knew right away that it had a lot of missing story points,” Taylor acknowledged. Following, we talked at great length on how to make a movie “less sucky” and still stay on budget.

 Money is the essential ingredient in independent film productions, and everyone had compelling stories on how they saved money and cut corners. Money determines how big a movie can be made, and everything – the script, locations, and the plot – must conform to those limitations. Simply, a film producer can not squeeze War and Peace into a fifteen minute film.

 “Keep it simple,” is the primary approach, and John Adams’s company employees his family’s two daughters, Zelda and LuLu, as interchangeable actresses, camera operators and technical assistants, with mom Toby Poser rounding out the roster. In fact, John and Toby handled the leading roles in The Shoot while their kids filmed them.

 Zelda, at 11 years old, was in attendance and captivated those who spoke with her. Effervescent and ever-present, Zelda talked easily about her life in films, and described how she and her family travel about the United States – exploring the country and making movies. The Adams’ also attend a number of film gatherings as a way of marketing their movies, and Zelda called RIFF her favorite festival.

 When she’s not making movies, Zelda enjoys playing soccer, and also, playing the drums in a band Kids Kalifornia, with her father.

 In contrast, Luke Taylor characterized Cannes as “chaotic and crazy” and Sun Valley as “cool” for their networking opportunities, but he called RIFF “serene.”

 The ambience of RIFF also added to the ease of schmoozing with the guests. Most of the films were held at the Lions Hall in Ashford, and the Lady Lions hosted a bar that served wine and beer at fair prices, while delicious food was generally available through the auspices of John and Tammy Bratholm of Eatonville.

 Adding heft to the conversation, film impresario Warren Etheridge of Seattle mc’d the questions and answer periods that followed every movie.

 Etheridge also hosted in own workshop, titled: “Don’t Shoot the Messenger.”

 As in years past, the Rainier Impendent Film Festival was hosted by its founders, Win and Sarah Whittaker. They also entertained the audience with the story of how they met – she was a camera operator and Assistant Director of Photography on a film shoot in Utah while Win was also the First Assistant Director overall.

“It was a hot day and Win had just come back from climbing Mt. McKinley,” Sarah told me. “All the men had their shirts off, and I said to my girlfriend, who’s that guy over there, the first A.D….”


RIFF, 2015, Veronica Mannion and Alan Geiser

Veronica Mannion and Alan Kaiser, stars of Booze, Boys and Brownies at RIFF


RIFF, Adams, John and Zelda, 2015

Zelda Adams and her father, John, at RIFF


RIFF, Win Whittaker, 2015

Win Whittaker, co-founder of RIFF


© 2015

Bruce A. Smith

All Rights Reserved

Posted in Ashford, Culture, Entertainment, Events, Mount Rainier, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

9th Annual Rainier Independent Film Festival coming to Ashford

Editor’s Note:

 The 9th Annual Rainier Independent Film Festival will be held next weekend, May 15-17, in various locations in Ashford, WA, and it’s a stellar undertaking. Besides the excellent films, the great number of film folk milling about for questions and answers is a special treat. The Mountain News covered the festival a few years ago, and learned how professional and entertaining this film fete truly is, so, we’ll be back again this year.

In the meantime, here is the official announcement from Andrea Edmondson, the festival’s assistant director:


 ASHFORD, WA – Rainier Independent Film Festival (May 15-17) announces its official line-up, including over 38 dynamic films spanning a variety of genres and topics.

 In its 9th year, the Rainier Independent Film Festival is dedicated to providing a venue for independent filmmakers to have their films screened in the tranquil area surrounding Mount Rainier. Mixing films, workshops and the laid-back setting of the area, this festival is unique as a opportunity to meet and mingle with film industry people outside of the hustle and bustle typically associated with the business.

Located in the shadow of Mount Rainier, the Ashford Valley provides the perfect setting for this festival. Our screening venues include the Mt. Rainier Lions Theater and the Cine-Yurt at Wellspring. All projection is shown in the latest digital technology.

Complete with international, national, and regional film selections the festival is a unique experience.

RIFF organizers are welcoming several filmmakers to the festival, including two returning veteran filmmakers from RIFF.

“The Shoot” is the third film the Adams Family has had at RIFF, and two years ago their film “Knuckle Jack” won Best Audience Award.

John and LuLu Adams will be in attendance for “The Shoot,” which screens on Saturday night at 7PM.

This year’s opening night film, “Booze, Boys, and Brownies” written, directed and performed in by Veronica Mannion is a lively, modern musical that takes a humorous look at a young actresses foes and follies as she tries to make her way through a busy but entertaining life. Veronica will be in attendance for a post-film discussion following the 7:00 pm screening on Friday, May 15th, at the Ashford Lions Theater.

 Other films with filmmakers in attendance include the closing night films, “Wildlike” and “Land of Leopold.”

Among the documentaries playing at RIFF this year is the much talked about -and award winning environmental film – “Growing Local,” which plays at noon on Saturday.

This is the fifth year that RIFF has combined efforts with the guest curator, Warren Etheredge, and look for Warren’s films on Saturday, May 16th, at the Mt. Rainier Lions Theater from 1 pm -5 pm, and on Sunday from 2 pm – 4 pm.

In addition, Etheredge will lead a workshop on Sunday, May 17 at 12 pm at the Mt. Rainier Lions Theater in Ashford, titled, “Don’t Shoot The Messenger.”

With a wealth of knowledge and an entertaining presenter Warren will examine cinematography – what works, what doesn’t, and why. As a result, his workshops are always a favorite part of the festival.

Rounding out the festival weekend will be the closing night films “Wildlike” at 4 pm, followed by “Land of Leopold” at 6 pm. Both of these films will have filmmakers in attendance.

Festival Awards will be presented following the closing night screening, including Best Student Film, Best Short Documentary, Best Full Length Documentary, Best Narrative Short, Best Feature, and Audience Favorite.

For more information and the full festival schedule visit http://www.RainierFilmFest.com. For movie or workshop tickets go online to (www.RainierFilmFest.com) or in person at the Whittaker’s Motel in Ashford.


Thank you to our sponsors:

Rainier Mountaineering, Inc., The Warren Report, Reel NW KCTS 9, Audio Visual Factory Productions,The Harmon Brewery & Eatery, Mt. Rainier Visitor Association, Guest Services, Inc

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eatonville Family Agency launches outreach programs

Editor’s Note:

The Mountain News-WA has received a message from the Eatonville Family Agency revealing its many programs and its need for food, service, and financial donations.

Here is the newsletter from the new director of the EFA, Alana Smith, announcing the outreach, and it includes many creative and innovative fundraising opportunities, such as Puerto Vallarta’s pledge to share a portion of profits on Wednesdays in May.


The Eatonville Family Agency is the major hunger-relief organization of Eatonville and southeast Pierce County, serving 580 square miles.

Thanks to the money and in-kind donations, 90 cents of every dollar we receive goes directly to help our clients and support our food distribution programs. There are numerous assistance programs and ways to get help from hunger at the Food Bank, Backpack program and the Senior Meal lunch. We provide assistance with utility bills, medical sign ups, health care, clothing, rent, food stamp programs, DSHS services, Domestic Violence, foot care, ARRP driving classes and many other resources. We also enjoy the weekly senior activities such as Bingo, Cribbage and Pinochle games, woodcarving, and the popular Knit and Knot classes.

All of these programs come with a price: picking up bread from our grocery program, sorting and organizing food, writing grants, and managing the mountain of paper work that comes along with federal dollars are tasks we can no longer support by ourselves. We need your help.

Though the Eatonville Family Agency has been in the business of poverty reduction since 1983, what it took to help people out of poverty in the past simply will not work today. Here at the Agency we have begun to focus on building partnerships, facilitating linkages with the private sector, educating, and encouraging innovation that improve the lives of the poor. We are looking for powerful new tools and opportunities to address poverty.

During the month of May you will see an overwhelming response to a call for a needed fundraising campaign by our board members; you can help fight hunger in our community by making a contribution. While this upcoming project may be a fundraising launch, it is just as important to continue these efforts throughout the year.

I have seen a wave of compassion from our community members, churches and businesses since I started as Director here a little over a month ago – neighbors and friends reaching out to help one another. I see ordinary people become heroes through extraordinary and selfless actions day after day.

We need to empower our people so that they can take more responsibility for their own lives, and in turn help others. We have here in Eatonville a spirit of community – a sense that we are all in this together – working to make the” American way of life” real for everyone.


Schedule of Fundraising Events in Eatonville:

1. Now through May 6, purchase unique custom jewelry that you design yourself as a special keepsake from Origami Owl, and a portion of the proceeds go to the EFA. Shop on-line at http://jernigan.origamiowl.com/ and enter jewelry bar code: 68090

2. Enjoy the Taco Bar at Puerto Vallarta Restaurant from 4-7pm, Wednesdays: May 6, 13 & 20, and a portion of the proceeds go to the EFA.

3. Stop by Arrow Lumber from 11:00am-2:00pm, Saturday, May 9, for a community BBQ with delicious Double T hotdogs! Donations will be accepted for lunch and a portion of Arrow Lumber sales that day will be donated to the EFA.

4. EFA Open House at the Community Center, Friday, May 15, 11am-2pm. See our great work in action and learn more about what we offer to our community. Light refreshments and tours will be provided.

5. Neighborhood Fund-Raising Challenge, Saturday May 16. Rally your neighborhood to try and out raise the other neighborhoods in Eatonville! Flyers will be distributed in various neighborhoods around town announcing the event in advance. Designated volunteers will go house to house on the 16th to collect donations. Neighborhood donations will be tallied and a winner will get bragging rights with an announcement on Facebook!

6. Get a pedicure between 12:00pm-5:00pm at the All About You Salon, Monday May 18, and all proceeds go to the EFA.

7. Mountain Physical Therapy, Wednesday, May 20, will be hosting a coffee and bake sale beginning at 9am and going until supplies run out! Purchase delicious baked goods and locally roasted coffee with all proceeds going to the EFA.

8. Join the Aid the Agency 5K Fun Run/Walk & 1K on Saturday, May 30. Kids Dash on the beautiful Bud Blancher Trail. Registration is $25 in advance, $35 day of for the 5K and $15/$25 for the 1K kids dash. Shirts will be guaranteed for those registering by May 15th. Register today at https://www.databarevents.com/aidtheagency5k

9. All month long – Order a personalized wall sign from ME Blocks (available at https://www.facebook.com/pages/ME-Blocks/148231812008501) and all proceeds go to the EFA.

10. All month long – Purchase a coffee card at the Gypsy Wagon Espresso stand for only $10 and proceeds go to the EFA.

11. All month long – Purchase the coffee and donut special at Cottage Bakery and a portion of the proceeds will go to the EFA.

12. All month long – Round up your purchase and donate your change at Kirk’s Pharmacy.

13. All month long – Round up your check and/or make a donation at Bruno’s Restaurant. Bruno’s will match up to $1000 of all round-ups and donations made in the month of May!

14. All month long – Make a donation at Key Bank.

15. All month long – Make a donation directly to the EFA On-Line at http://www.eatonvillefamilyagency.com, in person at 305 West Center Street or mail to PO Box 1764 Eatonville, WA 98328

Watch our website and Facebook page for more activities and events to be added! We thank you for your support and for helping us to continue to care for our great community.

Alana, EFC, 3. 25. 15, 2015-02-27 17.04.22

EFA Director, Alana Smith

Posted in Business, Eatonville News, Health, Self Reliance | 1 Comment

DB Cooper cyber sleuths adopt the Mountain News as a chat room

Editor’s Note:

Life at the Mountain News is becoming downright spicy. Daily, new characters from the cyber section of Cooper World are appearing here to pontificate, trash talk, or otherwise rub elbows with fellow aficionados of the Hunt for DB Cooper.

Currently, the group seems to be congregating at the commentary section of the Cooper story I posted several weeks ago announcing the publication of my book on the hijacking: DB Cooper and the FBI – A Case Study of America’s Only Unsolved Skyjacking.”


The impetus for this immigration seems to be the closure of their old haunt at the DropZone forum on DB Cooper for reasons that are not clear, nor public. Regardless, many new folks are finding a home at the Mountain News.

Welcome, one and all. Of course we do have standards of conduct, such as no threatening behavior, foul language, or obvious symptoms of mental illness – in which case we will make a referral to the appropriate medical provider.

Readers of the Mountain News who never visited the DropZone, or DZ as its denizens prefer to call it, should know it is often a strange place, but fascinating. Hence, I am posting an overview of the DropZone from my book, and the related phenomena of the role chat rooms and Internet sleuthing have played in the DB Cooper investigation.

Simply, without the DZ, my book would have been much different.

The overview of the DZ contains a glossary of the primary voices in Cooper World who speak on the case. This section will expand, as I am learning that increasing numbers of video blog sites are digging into Norjak. As a result, the number of players here is likely to grow.

In the meantime, here is a synopsis of what our new readers are “bringing to the table.”


DB Cooper and the FBI – A Case Study of America’s Only Unsolved Skyjacking

Open-Source Sleuthing –

The DZ, Mountain News, Sluggo and the DB Cooper Forum


 Open-sourced sleuthing, where forensic information is freely shared on the Internet, is a radically new development in investigative journalism. We reporters relish these new forms of chat rooms and websites, as they allow us to bypass the usual constrictions imposed by law enforcement and corporate sources.

More than information is exchanged, however. Contacts are made and friendships formed, which in turn build impromptu sleuthing teams. Galen Cook is my most significant partner, but I also joined forces with many of the folks I have meet on the Internet, such as Meyer Louie who joined me in a search for the Amboy chute.

But since it’s open-sourced anyone can show up, including people you wouldn’t want to rub elbows with under more customary circumstances.

The Drop Zone, or more simply “the DZ,” had been one of the best online sites for sharing information about DB Cooper.


Over the years, the DZ has been the key place to exchange facts and float theories on Norjak. I’ve learned plenty on the DZ and it is a classic example of open-sourced sleuthing at work – the good, bad and ugly of it all. Some days are filled with gemstones of information; others are bland exchanges of Cooper World gossip.

But the worst days are gruesome, and the DZ can resemble a “Biker Bar” in cyber space. During these sordid moments it’s not for the timid or thin-skinned. Not only are treasured beliefs fiercely defended, but the character assassinations can be vicious.

Yet, for those who can tolerate the cruelty or side-step it, the DZ has been a place to educate oneself about Norjak. Scientist, researchers, authors, arm-chair gadflies, and even Ckret, the aforementioned FBI agent Larry Carr, have posted at the DZ since its inception in 2007.

The bad behaviors displayed at the DZ clearly indicate that the case has affected people psychologically – a dynamic I call the Cooper Vortex – the pull of emotions so powerful they unleash a self-righteousness indignation that makes smart people do very foolish things.

With all the name-calling and trash talking the DZ requires the services of a moderator, a fellow named “Quade.” He admonishes the worst perpetrators of ungentlemanly conduct; some take the hint and quiet themselves. Others don’t and get banned from further postings.

Yet, the DZ can also be as warm as the TV neighborhood tavern in “Friends.” I have luxuriated on the DZ – reading someone’s post about a charming Cooper World encounter, or tangential wafting about women. These moments make the DZ feel down-right cozy.

I cherish some of my friendships formed at the DZ. Others I simply endure.

Hundreds of people around the world read the DZ daily, with about a dozen individuals posting frequently. Many more simply come and go after delivering a pet theory or asking a burning question. Since its beginnings, over 40,000 commentaries have accumulated on 2,000 pages of text.

The most noted contributor to the DZ has been FBI Special Agent Larry Carr, using the moniker “Ckret.” I have corroborated more details on Cooper from Carr’s postings at the DZ than I have from talking to Larry directly. As a result, the DropZone has been a vital place for me.

But since the DZ is so personality-driven, I think it may be useful to illumine some of the characters:

Besides Larry, Jo Weber is arguably the most dynamic figure on the DZ. She is certainly the most prolific poster, championing the Cooper-ship of her deceased husband, Duane Weber, whom she says confessed to being the skyjacker in 1995. Jo posts thousands of words every day and has something to say on just about every aspect – and every persona – in Norjak.

Some visitors to the DZ dismiss Jo as a crank but she has deep knowledge of the case, and possesses a deep appreciation of issues that might be affecting the Cooper investigation, such as MKULTRA, the notorious CIA-run mind control project that ran concurrently with the Norjak investigation.

One of those who have slogged through Jo’s DZ rants is the aforementioned Georger, a smart guy who often gets cranky himself.

Besides being a professor at a mid-western university, Georger has unusual ties to Norjak that are both familial and professional. Occasionally, Georger makes reference to his FBI connections on the DZ, which seem to be substantive if not fully revealed in their exact nature.

Norjak researcher and DZ poster, Galen, has a wonderful description of Georger:

 “He likes to cast himself as a ‘backdoor observer’ of the case, but he knows far more than he leads others to believe. G’s knowledge of the case is vast. Yet, he remains a silent player in the investigation and prefers, it seems, to engage others in the boisterous ‘DropZone’ site, where he can be as nasty as he is allowed to be.”

 Perhaps the King of Attitude is Snowmman, certainly one of the smartest guys at the DZ and is the undisputed expert on all things cyber. Snow summed-up his knowledge this way: “You have to remember, Bruce, I read the entire Internet every night.”

Somedays, it seems as if Snowmman has.

Snowmman has been an invaluable aid in discovering contact information on many individuals associated with the case. Without Snow my research on Sheridan Peterson, Ted Braden, or Special Agent Dorwin Schreuder would be greatly curtailed or non-existent.

However, because of his unrepentant surliness Snowmman has been banned for life from the DZ starting in 2011.

The regal voice of sanity at the DZ haws been an attorney from the Bay Area named Mark Metzler, who sports the moniker, “377,” the signage for his favorite Boeing aircraft. 377 is an avid sky diver and a dogged Norjak researcher. His findings on the use of the 727 as a jump platform is singular, as is his analysis of NB-8 parachutes and the optimum method of exiting a 727 at 200 mph.

377 is also a buddy of Snowmman, and together they form a solid team of Cooper sleuths. I am blessed that at least one of them is a gentleman.

Sluggo Monster, aka Wayne Walker, is acknowledged as one of the most authoritative voices on Norjak, and has followed the case since 1971. He is the creator of one of the foremost Internet depositories for facts on the DB Cooper case – “Sluggo’s Northwest 305”Hijacking Research Site.”

http://n467us.com/index.htm .

Many of the photographs found in the Photo Gallery come from his website.

Jerry Thomas (JT) was one of those DZ contributors who “comes and goes,” which wasn’t a problem for those of us who appreciate grammar and spelling. In his defense, JT says he hasn’t figured out how to use his spell checker. Regardless, Jerry is one of the leading antagonists in the war of words with Jo Weber.

Nevertheless, Jerry is a long-time student of the case and is a beloved side-kick to Ralph Himmelsbach.

Besides Himmelsbach, JT also enjoys an elevated relationship with others in the FBI and has access to SA Curtis Eng.

JT also serves on the CS, and is featured in Geoffrey Gray’s book, Skyjack- The Hunt for DB Cooper.

Since 2010, one of the voices heard most often at the DZ is author Robert Blevins. Robert champions Kenny Christiansen as Cooper, which is the sole focus of his book, Into the Blast – The True Story of DB Cooper. Through his pronouncements on the DZ Robert has also found a way to infuriate just about everyone at the forum and in the larger Norjak investigation. Nevertheless, he attends the annual Cooper Daze festival in Ariel and reports his findings on the DZ, including his video accounts of the Cooper phenomena.

Smokin99 is also a solid researcher who has helped me locate individuals via back-door genealogical channels, such as Lee Dormuth.

Similarly, EVicki has also provided vital assistance, especially in helping me connect with Special Agent Nick O’Hara and passenger Bill Mitchell.

In addition, Vicki has touched me with her heartfelt efforts to learn the truth of her father, Mel Wilson, a Cooper suspect and convicted felon who disappeared from her life in the autumn of 1971.

Another woman posting on the DZ was Amazon. She is an exceptionally accomplished skydiver and offers fact-based commentaries on Cooper’s jump. Miss Amazona has no patience whatsoever with the forum’s fools, and I think she would smile to know that I call her, privately, One Tough Broad.

Another formidable lassie is Orange1, whose insistence on sound discussion emanates from her home in South Africa. Orange is also fiercely protective of Tina Mucklow, challenging my efforts to make contact with this witness like a mother bear defending her cub.

Bob Sailshaw is a newcomer to the DZ, only posting in 2011 after reading about my Cooper investigations in the Mountain News. Sail has a unique position in the Norjak story – he may have lived with DB Cooper, having rented a room to prime suspect, Sheridan Peterson in 1961.

Sail was visited by the FBI in their 1971 sweep, and the encounter simmered for decades until Sail’s retirement a few years ago. One evening during an idle moment perusing the Internet, Sail Googled Petey’s name and soon found us.

Robert99, MrShutter, Farflung, Hangdiver, SafecrackingPlF, and Meyer Louie and many others have all been informative and reasonable. Sadly, Meyer lost his cool one night and got kicked-out in 2012. Same, too, for Galen back in 2009.

The tensions on the DZ swelled to epic proportions in 2014, emanating especially from Jo and Blevins. In response, many Cooper sleuths broke away from the DZ and formed a new website, the DB Cooper Forum.


The forum is ably moderated by the abovementioned Mr. Shutter, and features many subsections that make it a handy tool to explore different aspects of Norjak.

Most of my in-depth Cooper material I publish at the Mountain News-WA, and I link it to the DZ and the DB Cooper Forum.


The difference between this book and the Mountain News is that the MN contains all the original stuff in its basic form – the interviews, speculations, and insights offered by the dozens of people involved in the investigation.

Author Geoffrey Gray never posts on any of the above sites. Instead, he maintains his own website “Hunt for DB Cooper:” Besides supporting his book, Skyjack – The Hunt for DB Cooper, it also offers a calendar of events and blog-like postings that are original and fresh, even if they sound wildly outlandish occasionally.




Posted in Culture, DB Cooper, Entertainment | 2 Comments

Mt Rainier free this weekend – with two feet of new snow at Paradise!

Special to the Mountain News-WA

The National Park Service has sent the folowing press release to the Mountain News, announcing the waiver of entrance fees for this weekend in celebration of National Park Week.




This Saturday and Sunday, April 18-19, visitors to Mount Rainier National Park will be able to visit the park for free. Fees will be waived at all national park areas throughout the weekend as the kickoff to National Park Week, which is April 20-24.

 Visitors to Mount Rainier will find that winter is still very present in the Paradise area with over 5 feet of snow remaining on the ground. The area has received close to 2 feet of snow in the past several days, but the forecast is for improving weather.

 The Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center will be open on the weekend offering exhibits, food, visitor information and a bookstore/gift shop. In addition, the National Park Inn at Longmire is open daily and offers lodging, food, ski rental and gifts.

 Beginning April 20, the gate between Longmire and Paradise will remain open 24-hours a day. State Routes 410 and 123 are open on the east side of the park. Stevens Canyon Road remains closed due to a rock/mud slide. Contractors will be working on removal in the near future. The White River Road to White River Campground is projected to open May 1. Visitors are required to carry tire chains in their vehicles when traveling in the park until May 1.

 Spring is a great time to enjoy the park. Lower elevation trails are snow free, but snowshoeing and cross country skiing can still be enjoyed in the Paradise area.



 Mount Rainier National Park joins the national Find Your Park Movement with parks, programs and partners across the country to encourage everyone to find their park and share their stories online at FindYourPark.com. Launched last week by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation, Find Your Park is a public awareness and education campaign celebrating the milestone centennial anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016 and setting the stage for its second century of service.

 Find Your Park invites the public to see that a national park can be more than a place — it can be a feeling, a state of mind, or a sense of American pride. Beyond vast landscapes, the campaign highlights historical, urban, and cultural parks, as well as the National Park Service programs that protect, preserve and share nature, culture, and history in communities nationwide.

 “Find Your Park” is also the theme for this year’s National Park Week, April 18 – 26.

 Mount Rainier Superintendent says: “Find Your Park not only applies to the national parks, but to all public parks, lands and spaces as well. Find a place you love to be inspired, and enjoy during National Park Week, and every week!”

 Visit http://www.NationalParkWeek.org to learn more about how you can join parks, programs, and partners in celebrating National Park Week across the country.

 Join the Mount Rainier community on Facebook http://facebook.com/MountRainierNPS – find out breaking news and road status updates through Mount Rainier’s Twitter feed http://twitter.com/MountRainierNPS – explore the park and behind-the-scenes operations with our videos on YouTube http://youtube.com/MountRainierNPS and share your own photos of Mount Rainier with other visitors in the Mount Rainier Flickr group http://flickr.com/groups/MountRainierNPS.


Posted in Ashford, Eatonville News, Environment, Mount Rainier | 2 Comments

Remote Viewing – a new forensic tool in the Search for DB Cooper


 By Bruce A. Smith

The DB Cooper skyjacking is a stunning true-crime mystery – one of the top whodunits of American lore.

The case is unsolved for decades, but now new investigatory techniques are being used, such as DNA testing, but the most exciting – and controversial – is the use of remote viewing, most commonly known as ESP.

But first, the background of the case and why it has been so difficult to solve using traditional means:

In 1971, a man known as DB Cooper hijacked a Northwest Orient airliner and after exchanging the passengers for $200,000, he parachuted into the night skies north of Portland, Oregon. He has never been seen since.

Additionally, we don’t know who Cooper was or if he survived, and nothing has ever been found of the skyjacking—no parachutes, no body or clothes, nor any of the money except for $5,800 that a kid found eight years later buried on a Columbia River beach.

Adding to the intrigue, no one knows how the money got there or when.

The DB Cooper case remains the only unsolved skyjacking in the history of the United States – and the Big Question these days is, why.

The case has become resurgent in recent years as new technology is added to the hunt, and besides DNA testing, the power of the Internet, where citizen sleuths have unprecedented access to information, is also changing the investigatory landscape. These private eyes have revealed that the FBI has bungled its Cooper investigation.

In response, the FBI has grown exceptionally tight-lipped.

Fortunately, a truly dynamic forensic tool has entered the Norjak case, a process called “remote viewing,” which some might call it psychic sleuthing or Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP).

This process might be able to bypass the informational restrictions from the FBI, or even reveal if a cover-up at work. Imagine talking to DB Cooper, or viewing the events of the skyjacking directly via enhanced conscious awareness!

Despite the controversial nature of these techniques, the scientific legitimacy of remote viewing is substantive. Dr. Hal Putoff of the Stanford Research Institute organized the first large-scale investigation of ESP, and eventually his research attracted the interest of the CIA.

By the 1980s, the agency had placed Puthoff in charge of their remote viewing research, and several years later that effort coalesced into the US Army’s Stargate Program.

Several of the early Stargate “RV’ers,” as they are called, have written extensively about their work, especially David Morehouse in Psychic Warrior, and Joe McMoneagle in Mind Trek: Exploring Consciousness, Time and Space Through Remote Viewing.

Additionally, I have spent over twenty years studying the methodology of remote viewing at Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment (RSE), in Yelm, Washington, and what I learned there I have encompassed with my undergraduate studies in biology and my current research on the New Physics.

The New Physics is an expanding field of study that explores how consciousness influences physical reality. In effect, the New Physics asks, how do your thoughts effect your life?

This research suggests that thoughts interact with physical reality in a dynamic manner, even changing it materially, and this science is the underpinning of remote viewing.

Further, our thoughts can transcend the usual boundaries of time and space, so a successful remote viewer would be able to re-visit November 24, 1971 and observe Norjak unfolding in person.

Here is my understanding of how this radical science works:

The customary five senses of perception, sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste, involve the higher brain functions of the neocortex, frontal lobes and the complex part of the brain known as the cerebrum.

However, recent neuro-physiological research indicates that there is another part of the brain that is much different, and its capacities are very unusual. This section is deep within the center of the brain and is called the limbic system. It is filled with glands and tissues that specialize in emotions and feelings.

Further, the limbic system also has the capacity for a deeper level of perception – one that is often characterized as psychic awareness. As a result, it is hypothesized that the limbic system gives us to access expanded realms of consciousness.

But what exactly is consciousness, and how can the limbic system overcome the barriers of time and space? That in turn begs the question: what exactly is time and space?

Einstein’s Theory of Special relativity shows us that time and space are not static or concrete. Time changes as one moves differently through space, and the 2014 movie “Interstellar” portrays the phenomena exquisitely.

Further, PBS’ Dr. Brian Greene offered simple and concrete examples of how time changes relative to movement through space in a recent Town Hall meeting in Seattle.

Greene said that if two people had absolutely synchronized watches and sat together on a couch watching TV, when one of them went over the television set and changed the dial and returned, their watch would read a different time than the person still sitting.

Greene said the concept has been proven many times by flying clocks around the world non-stop. When they get back to their airport of origin, the clocks aboard the aircraft read differently than those at their home base. Similarly, the clocks on the International Space Station have to be re-calibrated periodically to get back into synch with their earth-surface bases.

As for consciousness, it seems to be a vast awareness that spreads beyond what we usually consider to be time and space, even if those concepts are mutable.

Specifically, as I understand Ramtha the Enlightened One, thoughts are created by consciousness interacting in our brain. Similarly, mind, and a concept Ramtha calls “deeper mind” seem to be various levels of consciousness. Further, all of reality actually exists in a kind of eternal, endless “Now.”

With that model it is possible to envision moving through the Eternal Now via consciousness; in particular, being in another time and space through focused thought.

In essence, we shift our conscious awareness and relocate to a different position within the Eternal Now. Thus, with a precise, focused change of consciousness we could travel back to the night of the skyjacking and visit Flight 305 for ourselves.

I have attempted to do just that, and then aided by a hypnotherapist named Gloria Peach.

I have also contacted RV’ers Morehouse and McMoneagle and asked them if their programs investigated Norjak, or if they would like to join my efforts. Unfortunately, they have not replied. I have also been unsuccessful in enlisting other professional remote viewers to joint this effort.

I leave it to you to judge the validity of my experiences. To me they are earnest, initial steps in penetrating the veils that surround Norjak.

Additionally, I am ever-mindful that the Stargate guys considered their best work to be only 20% accurate. I suppose the big question is: how does one know which remote views fall into the 20%. As a result, I consider all of my experiences as possibilities and use them as a place from which to conduct more conventional investigatory efforts.

In March 2010, I began my remote viewing sessions. Despite its fancy name, my sessions would appear to most folks as a typical meditation routine –I sat crossed legged in a comfortable position, closed my eyes, and breathed slowly and deeply.

As I entered my meditative trance, I envisioned Flight 305 flying through the clouds. I felt excited. Soon, I saw the red tail of a Northwest Orient 727 in my mind’s eye.

Next, I heard the roar of the engines, and then the smell of jet fuel. At that point I focused on the sketch of DB Cooper’s face, and I felt myself inside the cabin of Flight 305. I was immediately enveloped into an environment that I can only describe as a “70’s vibe.” Specifically, I looked around and saw men with long side burns and 1970s dress – polyester clothing and bell-bottomed trousers. Oddly, I felt oppressed by these sensations and began getting nauseous.

To counter that experience I re-focused on DB Cooper’s face. I sensed him sitting next to Tina and I tried to envision what they were doing and saying, but little came from it. I kept trying to drill into the focus but I only got more nauseous. After a couple more attempts I stopped. I was surprised how difficult the experience was and how awful I felt.

I ended the meditation. However, I needed several more time than usual to come back to my normal state of mind, or even open my eyes. When I did, I got dizzy if I moved too quickly.

Later, I found it very difficult to write any notes. At best, I scribbled cursory notes before the memory faded, somewhat like recording a dream.

I repeated these meditative efforts for several more days, through March 2010, but received little new information. Oddly, to this day I can re-visit these “in-flight” scenes easily, but I can’t get any more detail. It always makes me nauseous, too.

As a result, in subsequent meditative sessions I shifted my focus slightly. In my mind I merely focused on the sketch of DB Cooper. Within a few moments I saw a face. Then I asked questions, and the first was obvious: “Who are you?”

“I am Charles!…Bar…ka…ley…clay,” I heard the face say, pronouncing his first name quite loudly. But his last name was garbled to me, and I heard variations of Bar-Clay, Bark-Lee and Berkley. I wondered if I was superimposing my memory of the famous basketball player over what I was receiving through my limbic system.

This confusion persisted, but I returned to the meditation several times over the next few days. Finally I heard him say, “Barclay, like the bank in Great Britain.”

Clear, I proceeded and asked, “Where are you?”

Spontaneously, in a little squeaky voice like a child, I heard, “I’m in heaven.”

A couple weeks later I re-visited Charles. He confirmed he was Charles Barclay and was now out of his body and in a place he called heaven. I continued with my questions.

“Where did you land?”

“In a field,” he replied.

I saw an image of a flat, open terrain with a small stand of older saplings thick along the perimeter to the east. I heard road noises nearby. The scene felt rural, but not wilderness. Seeking more detail I asked again.

“Can you tell me where you landed exactly? What state or area?”

I heard no reply, so I offered a prompt. “Washington or Oregon?”

Again, I received no response, but the visualization of the field came back into my mind. After a long pause, I received a thought from Charles.

“I’m protecting someone who is still alive,” I heard him say, and I sensed the person he was shielding was a woman.

I thought of the relationship between Clara and DB Cooper, as described in Max Gunther’s novel, DB Cooper – What Really Happened.

In this book a character known as Clara was house-sitting a cabin in the Cooper’s LZ and met the skyjacker in the woods shortly after he landed. He had a sprained ankle and Clara took him home to nurse his injury. Eventually they fell in love and moved to New York, spending the ransom money after laundering it in Atlantic City casinos.

Although I maintained my focus on the face of DB Cooper, no other information came forward. I felt like I was interviewing a very reluctant witness, and I wondered how reliable any of this was.

Several months later, a hypnotherapist named Gloria Peach volunteered to me search for DB Cooper. I heartedly agreed.

Over the next few weeks we had six sessions. Gloria put me into a trance-like state reminiscent to my solo work, and then used guided-imagery techniques to lead me through successive levels of consciousness. Eventually, I was able to interact with DB Cooper and others in the case, such as Tina Mucklow and Ted Braden.

Our first session was September 19, 2011. Gloria guided me back to the plane in flight, and I found it very helpful to have a guide.

Here is my report:

“The smoke – UG! – the cigarette smoke.”

I lingered and observed the cabin, especially Cooper and Tina. I saw that Tina was in control of the situation even though Cooper had the bomb on his lap. She looked and acted confident, smooth but not flirty. She appeared to be emotionally neutral.

Gloria put me a little deeper into trance:

“I can’t get a good read on his face,” I wrote later in my notes. “He’s leaning into her. Tina jokes with Cooper, they light cigarettes. She is comfortable. He seems comfortable, or ‘not tense.’ He’s tall and lean.”

I asked Cooper why he hijacked the plane.

“Airline safety improved didn’t it!” he said emphatically, following the line that is espoused by Bob Knoss.

I asked about the hijacking and got the following tidbits:

I was told Cooper boarded in Pittsburgh and got off in Chicago, but this was not the actual itinerary of Flight 305.

I asked him his name again, and I was surprised when he said “Richard.” I have no idea what happened to the Charles Barclay persona.

Cooper, or “Richard,” confirmed that the hijacking was a quasi-military operation, with a “General Sherman” in charge.

“He was a major at the time,” Richard told me.

Richard told me about his upbringing and background. He said that his father was in WW II as an intelligence officer, a “General Brack” or “Brock.” Again, it came across garbled.

However, no family was involved in the skyjacking, but Richard was “part of a team.”

Richard said that he had died in 1986 and that he was in heaven. I asked him to describe it.

“You can say that I’m on a cloud,” he said, smirking and chuckling.

My second session with Gloria occurred a week later. I was able to go more deeply into “absolute elsewhere,” as Ramtha describes the experience, and covered a range of topics pertaining to Norjak. First, I visited Ralph Himmelsbach.

I saw a basement filled with lots of file cabinets. It was dark, and file cabinets surrounded a conference table. I opened a cabinet drawer and was surprised to see it was mostly empty. The files themselves were skinny.

Not much in here, I told myself.

Gloria told me to “see something new,” and I left Himmelsbach. Within moments I encountered a dark haired woman who told me her name was Doris.

She was an older woman and seemed like she was a WAC in WW II, or she looked like a picture of a WAC pilot – short curled hair, styled. But I knew she was something else.

“Are you a flight attendant?” I asked.

“Yes,” she answered. I heard her last name as “Berdanke,” or Bern-Danks.”

She said she knew DB Cooper from the composite drawings, and she was part of 305’s originating crew from Washington, DC. Doris told me she had served Cooper drinks as they flew into Chicago from Pittsburgh, and said the skyjacker had a bag in the overhead compartment. She said she remembered Cooper getting off in Chicago, and has never told anyone this information. She said she was never questioned by the FBI.

Gloria told me to move on. I encountered DB Cooper, who again called himself “Richard.” I looked him in the eye.

“Can I talk with you?” I asked.

Richard didn’t answer; then he shrugged.

“Why?” I asked. The following is what I received:

“It was a job. It was an operation. Our identities were totally protected. We never talked about it. We never talk about jobs. To talk is like deciding not to breathe – it’s just not done. It’s not a problem. I don’t need to talk and never have. It’s how things are, in my world. Lots of us are like this. Keeping quiet is part of the job, part of who we are. It’s like looking in a mirror and seeing that we are physically fit – that our workouts keep our bodies in tip-top shape. Our training is top-notch, too. Keeping your mouth shut and not needing to talk, is all part of the conditioning, the make-up of who we are. Nobody is flabby and gabby. Nobody. Nobody ever talks about any job. Nobody would think to do that. If they did, they’d never be here.”

I asked Richard where “here” is. He launched into another soliloquy on his professional life. He told me his “world” is an isolated, hidden one, cloaked by the rural geography of military bases and veiled by the culture of military life. He said he has “minimal interaction with the world,” meaning life outside the military. He continued and said the military world is so separate from the civilian world that it’s easy to stay silent.

“No one ever asks, so no one ever has to say anything,” he told me.

“Why?” I ask.

“It’s a warrior’s code,” he tells me. “It’s what we do. Why did I do it? (the skyjacking). Because that’s what we do, that’s what I do. I had a job to do and I did it. It’s like counting coup. Am I prepared enough? Is my gear good enough? Is my team organized and smart enough? Am I tough enough? It’s a personal challenge.

“You (reporters) will never find us,” he added. “The only way is to do what you’re doing now (remote viewing).” He continued:

“It was a military job. We eat the FBI’s lunch. They’ll never know. It was an operation. Purpose? I don’t know. Could have been a lot of reasons – test the SAGE radar? Improve airlines safety? Check out the radios? Test law enforcement on the ground? Who knows? It could have been a lot of reasons depending on who was involved. It’s a game, a test of one’s skills. It’s all a game – our dreams, our jobs, whatever we do.

Richard continued and told me he has no particular pride in being DB Cooper.

“Why did you pick the name, Dan Cooper?” I asked.

Richard laughed loudly. “I liked the name,” he said, and laughed again. “But it got changed right away! DB Cooper – who the fuck is that? Unless others changed the name on purpose.”

Richard then appeared very somber and serious, even a little anxious.

Is the game still afoot? I wondered.

I asked Richard if he will re-incarnate. He shrugged.

“I might be an intelligence operative,” he says. I always had a job, always had a pay check – that’s how the world is. If the world doesn’t want you, they don’t pay you.”

Richard told me about his father, again, and said, “military intelligence is a father-son thing. It’s like passing down a trade. You know how it is.” He told me his brother was also in military intelligence.

He said his unit was part of the army, but that his particular outfit was not SOG. “It’s deeper than that,” he said, meaning that it was more covert and hidden. However, he acknowledged that his unit was under the same command as SOG.

I asked Richard how he died. He shrugged. I asked again. He hesitated, but realized I was going to be insistent.

“I was drinking. I got tired of living and died.”

“Can we talk again?” I asked.

“If you can find me,” he said smiling.

My next session with Gloria was special – I visited with Tina Mucklow, the flight attendant who spent five hours with Cooper and is considered the primary witness to the skyjacking.

Actually, I felt I spoke with only a part of Tina, the not-angry-at-Bruce part, since she and her family have been exceptionally frosty to me.

Tina told me first about her life and then the hijacking. She also told me that she feels that she “never really disappeared.”

“People were looking for Tina Mucklow,” she told me, explaining that her main cover was using her ex-husband’s name.

However, to reveal anymore of this session I feel that I must get Tina’s consent.

A few days later I went looking for Ted Braden, the Vietnam Special Operations Group commando touted by many in the Special Forces as DB Cooper. It was a very difficult session, even with Gloria’s help. I felt I went into a very deep trance and was very groggy afterwards. I believe one of the reasons for the difficulty is that I sought more specific information, not just general impressions. I wanted facts that could be verified.

After Glory put me into a trance, I focused on an image of Ted in a Vietnamese field. Here is what I received in response:

Ted said he was dead, having passed away in 2006.

“2007 was a mistake,” he told me, apparently correcting some clerical error that still haunted him. He added that he died of a heart attack.

I asked him if he actually drove a truck in the second half of his life.

“Yeah, I needed a job,” he told me.

Continuing, I asked him if he was DB Cooper, and he denied it. Ted told me that the skyjacker was a covert CIA operative named “John Romano.” Ted also said that he wanted to be part of John’s group but was denied. He also said that John is still alive.

At this point something unusual happened – a silvery hue enveloped the figure I knew to be Ted Braden. He was back-lit, and I saw an opening that appeared to be a staircase.

The aft stairs to a 727? The Stairway to Heaven? I wondered.

Then, the scene shifted back to Vietnam. Ted was on bivouac and seemed aware of how I was communicating with him.

“You would have learned a lot in Vietnam,” he told me. “That’s how we stayed alive there – we had to focus!

After a long hiatus from remote viewing caused by family visits, financial difficulties and my heart attack, I resumed my sessions with Gloria in June 2012. I re-visited DB Cooper, and received my fourth name change.

Now, Cooper said he was “Richard Bengstrom.” However, he did confirm that he died in 1986.

We spoke at length about his team. He called it “The Group.” He said they had all served in covert ops in Vietnam together, and had been stationed at Fort Lewis before deploying.

Richard told me that The Group had three members, and they acted as his ground retrieval team. He identified them as Ralph Munce, a second soldier named Jim – whose last name I never got – and a third trooper, Pete Stupinski.

According to this Richard, Munce found him in a field and took him to the Portland airport, where Richard flew home to Fort Bragg.

Richard said that The Group buried the money and chutes in a field just south of Ariel, near a line of trees. He said that they communicated with radios.

Richard also said that he didn’t know either Sheridan Peterson or Ted Braden. Richard characterized the skyjacking as a “private job done on military time.” He added that most of the preparation for the skyjacking was done as part of their normal covert training in the military.

“The taxpayers paid for it,” he said simply.

After these sessions I decided to stop the remote viewing. Frankly, the information seemed too chaotic for me to corroborate, nor did I have the resources to investigate more fully.

Nevertheless, I needed to start somewhere on this remote viewing business, as it has the potential to circumvent all of the people and events that have thwarted the hunt for DB Cooper.

And I did have a lucid dream that touched upon this work:

I was walking down the aisle of Cooper’s Flight 305 and approached seat 18-E.

“Excuse me, Mr. Cooper,” I said, “my name is Bruce Smith, and I’m a reporter with the Mountain News. Do you mind if I sit down and talk to you about what is going on?”

He looked at me in a non-plussed manner, and nodded to his left, sure, sit down.

He looked me over a bit and eyed my lanyard and credentials, my short hair and polar fleece jacket.

“You’re from the future, aren’t you,” he asked.

“Yes, I am,” I replied.

DB Cooper sat back in his seat and smiled. “Then you’re my ticket out of here.”


Editor’s Note: The above article is an excerpt from my book, DB Cooper and the FBI – A Case Study of America’s Only Unsolved Skyjacking, which is available at Amazon Kindle:


Cover, Amazon, 3. 23. 15, 91TTxL7OO3L._SL1500_ 

© 2015 Bruce A. Smith


(360) 832-6248

The Mountain News-WA

Eatonville, WA


Posted in DB Cooper, Ramtha, Science and Technology, Spirituality, The New Physics | 2 Comments

DB Cooper author gives detailed radio interview of case

By Bruce A. Smith

In the process of searching for a literary agent and publishing house to manage my book, DB Cooper and the FBI – A Case Study of America’s Only Unsolved Skyjacking, I was referred to a radio show host named Danny Schechter.

Schechter is based in New York City, and during one of my family visits Back East, I was invited to be a guest on his show and talk about DB Cooper, and more importantly to discuss what I have learned about the FBI.

Danny and I spoke in September 2013 at the PRN studio in Manhattan. His show is called: “The News Dissector,” and its URL is http://thenewsdissector.podbean.com/.

Sadly, when I was preparing this piece I learned that Danny passed away several weeks ago from pancreatic cancer. He was 72. I feel like I have lost a friend and an ally in the struggle for justice.

Here is the voice transcript of my conversation with Danny discusssing DB Cooper and the FBI:



Posted in DB Cooper, Uncategorized | 3 Comments