Road to Gandolfo6. THE ROAD TO GANDOLFO (1975)

TIME PERIOD: 1970s, Post-Watergate

I have a feeling many Ludlum fans will be ticked off that I ranked this novel – for which Robert used the pseudonym Michael Shepherd – above the seventh novel on my countdown.  

HERO: Sam Devereaux, a handsome and brilliant lawyer who works for the United States Army and has risen to the rank of Major. Sam hates Army life and can’t wait to get out.

In his final days before leaving the service he becomes drawn into the schemes of General “Mac” Hawkins, who establishes grounds for continuing to extort cooperation from Sam even after his return to civilian life.  

Road to Gandolfo 2VILLAIN: General MacKenzie Hawkins, living legend and a cross between George Patton and Peter Falk’s manipulative CIA agent in the original version of The In-Laws.

During World War Two, the 19 year old Hawkins was a decorated hero of the Battle of the Bulge and an instant folk hero. After the war Mac went to West Point, where he became an all-star Running Back for the football team.

During the Korean War, Hawkins moved up in the ranks and – shrewdly reading the emerging geo-political landscape – pursued his further career in the Far East. A General by the time America became involved in the Vietnam War, MacKenzie eventually gravitated to covert operations, specifically Black Ops.

Road to Gandolfo 3Exiled to a diplomatic post over his tendency to make waves the General’s hard-drinking Bad Boy behavior caused an international incident between the U.S. and China.

When Major Sam Devereaux’s combination of legal brilliance and street-savvy saves Hawkins from hard time at Leavenworth the General coldly and calculatingly makes Sam an unwilling accomplice in his plot TO KIDNAP THE POPE FOR FOUR HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS IN RANSOM. Continue reading


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Blinn College buccaneersDOWN GOES NUMBER THREE – The 14th ranked BLINN COLLEGE BUCCANEERS welcomed the number 3 team in the nation – the TRINITY VALLEY COLLEGE CARDINALS – on Saturday. The Buccaneers and Cardinals were tied 14-14 in the 1st Quarter but Blinn College grabbed a 24-17 lead by Halftime. A 24-24 tie to end the 3rd Quarter ultimately became a 31-27 triumph for the Buccaneers, who are still unbeaten for 2017. 

Butler (KS) GrizzliesAND NUMBER FOUR COMES TUMBLING AFTER – The BUTLER (KS) GRIZZLIES battled the 4th ranked IOWA WESTERN COLLEGE REIVERS. A 14-0 1st Quarter lead for the Grizzlies was cut to a mere 14-13 edge by the break. Butler College made it a 21-13 game in the 3rd Quarter, with the Reivers scoring a Touchdown in the 4th but missing the 2-point conversion attempt. The Grizzlies won it 21-19. 

Hutchinson Blue DragonsHUTCH EDGES THE DEFENDING CHAMPS – The storied HUTCHINSON COLLEGE BLUE DRAGONS took it on the road against the Defending National Champions – the number 11 GARDEN CITY COLLEGE BRONCBUSTERS. The opening Quarter ended in a 7-7 tie with the Blue Dragons on top 14-7 at Halftime. Hutchinson College led the Broncbusters 28-21 to start the 4th Quarter and from there held on for a 31-28 road upset. Continue reading

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Laura Palmer wrapped in plasticIt’s been just over two weeks since the finale of the 18 episode run of new Twin Peaks chapters on cable. Like many other fans I’m still digesting some of those new episodes in light of the gloriously dark and nightmarish conclusion, so this particular blog post applies ONLY to the original Twin Peaks television series, the 1992 film Fire Walk With Me and its deleted scenes from The Missing Pieces.

Here at Balladeer’s Blog I’m often surprised at the way so many detractors still try to insist that the show and the movie made no sense. And bear in mind I am NOT referring to the various theories over particular symbolism or the lengthy debates to be had over the ethical and philosophical implications of the storyline.

No, I’m referring to the way some people dismiss the entire project as if it’s a bunch of weirdness with no discernible plot or storyline. There IS SO a (very) easily discernible plot and storyline. And I’ll say again I’m NOT talking about deeper meanings which no two people may ever agree upon, but the basic tale. Continue reading

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Bernie SandersOn Meet The Press on Sunday, Senator Bernie Sanders – the candidate from whom Hillary “No Billionaire Left Behind” Clinton stole the Democrat presidential nomination last year – once again stated the obvious: The current model of the Democratic Party obviously is not working.”

No kidding, Bernie! That’s why you and President Trump were the only possibilities for change last year. You were technically an Independent, not a Democrat and President Trump wasn’t really a Republican. (Just ask Republican trash like Kevin Williamson and other Stuffy White Males at National Review.)

Bernie further stated: “Republicans control the House, the Senate; they control the White House, they control two-thirds of the governors’ offices throughout this country.”    

Mascot with demo and repub heads(NOTE FROM BALLADEER: That’s because Democrats have become such irrational and hate-filled fascists. They literally try to destroy people simply for expressing disagreement with them. Nobody likes the Republicans, those political seats are unearned and are about people despising Democrats, not liking Republican garbage like Paul Ryan . The Democrats need to get rid of the clueless Left-Wing Archie Bunkers who have driven so many of us away from the party.) 

Bernie expressed even more sentiments frequently voiced here at Balladeer’s Blog, like:   Continue reading

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Williamson Trade HelmetMECHANICS MAKE IT TWO IN A ROW – In the USCAA (United States Collegiate Athletic Association) the WILLIAMSON COLLEGE OF THE TRADES MECHANICS followed up last week’s tight victory with a blowout win this week. Yesterday the Mechanics battled the GATTACA COLLEGE NEW JERSEYANS and parlayed a 39-0 Halftime lead into a 45-20 triumph.  

Lyon College ScotsSIXTY-ONE – The NAIA’s (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) LYON COLLEGE SCOTS were on the road against the TRINITY BIBLE COLLEGE LIONS from the NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association). The Scots achieved defensive perfection while piling on the points for a SIXTY-ONE to NOTHING massacre of the Lions.   

Ottawa (KS) BravesTRIPLE OVERTIME – The game between the OTTAWA UNIVERSITY BRAVES and their hosts the FRIENDS UNIVERSITY FALCONS was the Marathon Game of the Day on Saturday. Regulation ended in a 21-21 tie, sending the game into Overtime. Things were still deadlocked after 1 OT session and again after the 2nd OT. It took Triple Overtime before the Braves at last emerged with a 34-28 victory. Continue reading

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Yes, Seattle’s DEMOCRAT Mayor Ed Murray has resigned over a FIFTH allegation of child sexual abuse. As always, America’s Democrat media found an Anti-Trump angle to use in their headlines, since Ed Murray was a frequent critic of President Trump.

For starters, in typical fashion the Mayor’s political party is not mentioned in many stories. Here in the U.S. it has been a joke for a long time that if no party is mentioned in reports of a political scandal it automatically means it’s a Democrat. (And remember, my family and I USED TO BE Democrats for several generations but that party has become such trash it has driven us away.)

The Democrats in the media are not only omitting ED MURRAY’S political party whenever possible they are leaving out the word CHILD in their mention of sex abuse. (Even the Democrats’ NPR) This invites readers to think it’s just sex-hating rubes attacking a politician for having a sex life.  

Mascot with demo and repub headsMost disgusting of all, many headlines provide ED MURRAY with political cover by making the story about Donald Trump, Jr slamming ED MURRAY over the CHILD SEX ABUSE allegations. Yep. To the Democrats in the media the REAL story is that Donald Trump, Jr made a condemnatory tweet, NOT the fact that a Mayor of a major city had to resign over a FIFTH CHILD SEX ABUSE allegation.

Using the Trump name as a person knocking ED MURRAY is a “dog whistle” (to use one of the Democrats’ favorite clichés) to Democrat zombies: If a Trump is against the Mayor, then you political robots called Democrats know you are supposed to support the Mayor.

People who work in the American media are even lower than American career politicians. I’d write more but here is a nice collection of other people’s takes on the situation:

Donald Trump Jr. has used the resignation of Seattle’s mayor over sex abuse allegations to bash the Democrats

— Newsweek (@Newsweek) September 16, 2017


It’s the time-honored MSM approach after a controversy surrounds Democrat or Democrats:

Never fails.



SERIOUSLY!? Chris Cillizza serves up ‘media bias in 1 tweet’ with takes on Ted Cruz and Seattle mayor

The post ‘Twisted’: Newsweek makes resignation of Seattle’s Dem mayor all about… Donald Trump Jr.? appeared first on



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Robert LudlumBalladeer’s Blog takes a look at the espionage novels of the late Robert Ludlum. I know it’s odd for me to write about a figure as popular as Ludlum but I’m addressing ONLY his novels in terms of my rankings. Even the novels he wrote under other names.

People who know this fun author strictly from the Jason Bourne movies may not be familiar with these works because they are very different in tone and approach from the Matt Damon flicks.

Gemini Contenders7. THE GEMINI CONTENDERS (1976) 

TIME PERIOD: World War Two era through the early 1970s.

I’m sure many Ludlumites will be furious that I have this novel in last place. They’ll likely be even angrier when they see which novel I ranked above it in 6th place.   

HERO: WORLD WAR TWO PORTION – Vittorio Fontini-Cristi, the good-timing playboy scion of the moneyed and blue blooded Fontini-Cristi family in Italy. Vittorio’s father opposed Benito Mussolini so the dictator liquidated the family and confiscated their estate.

Gemini Contenders 2Vittorio was the sole survivor of the family. Sobered up into a more serious worldview over the massacre of his loved ones, Vittorio became a deep cover intelligence agent sabotaging Mussolini’s war effort. His twin sons are the major characters of the 1970s portion.   

VILLAIN: WORLD WAR TWO PORTION – Cardinal Donatti, a religious zealot determined to find and destroy certain ancient documents that were entrusted to the Fontini-Cristi Dynasty.

Those documents, if made public, would supposedly shock the Christian, Jewish and Muslim worlds into potential chaos. If they fall into the wrong hands they could supposedly be used to blackmail the Vatican and other Christian power centers. Continue reading


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