Monthly Archives: December 2012

CAROL-A-THON 2012: CHRISTMAS IS COMIN’ UPTOWN (1979)

Christmas is Comin UptownThe 1979 Broadway musical Christmas Is Comin’ Uptown is one of the versions of A Christmas Carol that often get pigeon-holed as “African American versions” but, along with John Grin’s Christmas and Ms Scrooge this tuneful adaptation transcends race and celebrates the universality of the Carol’s message. The musical continues to tour the USA to this very day and a television broadcast of a few scenes and songs from the work aired when I was a teenager and was already obsessed with variations of the story.

Gregory Hines played Scrooge in the original Broadway cast. The Scrooge in this adaptation was an inner- city slumlord about to foreclose on an apartment house, a church and a youth center. He gets the usual visits from his deceased partner and the three Christmas Ghosts and is a changed man. The urban setting is Continue reading

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COOL FOOTBALL HELMET: BACONE COLLEGE

Bacone WarriorsBACONE COLLEGE WARRIORS

Location: Muskogee, OK

Division: NAIA

Conference Affiliation: Central States

Comment: Even if you’re not an Okee from Muskogee you’ve got to love these thoroughly intimidating helmets! Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are familiar with the tendency of the Bacone Warriors to Continue reading

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END OF THE WORLD MYTHS: THE MILLERITES

William MillerSince last December Balladeer’s Blog has been featuring some of the crackpot end of the world scares of the past in honor of the latest big-time fraud, the December 21st, 2012 “Mayan Apocalypse”. Since this is the Big Day here’s a look at how persistently foolish human beings are when it comes to end of the world hysteria. The Millerites stand as an all-time tribute to the way large numbers of people can be persuaded to believe ANYTHING and keep on believing it no matter how many times it’s proven false.

WILLIAM MILLER was the most famous and tenacious “Prophet of Doom” from the 1800’s and his thousands of followers were Continue reading

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CHRISTMAS CAROL-A-THON 2012: SPAIN’S 1947 FILM VERSION

Leyenda de NavidadWelcome to another installment of Balladeer’s Blog’s annual orgy of versions of A Christmas Carol. This version was produced in Spain in 1947 (and was remade for Spanish television in 1966 ) and the Spanish language title is Leyenda de Navidad ( Legend of Christmas, of course). The film was written and directed by Manuel Tamayo (who wrote the screenplay for the 1955 feature Tarde de Toros) This is a wonderful version for several reasons, not the least of which would be its well-done (for the time period) sets of 1843 London.

We’ll take the differences and similarities to other versions in order – 1. Scrooge has several people working for him for some reason, not just Bob Cratchit and NONE of them get Christmas Day off from this Scrooge  …

2.  Marley’s Ghost steps out of a life-sized portrait of the man that adorns the wall above a fireplace, and returns to that portrait after his standard warning about the 3 Ghosts …

3. Transportation through time with Continue reading

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BALLADEER’S BOWL 3: NAIA FOOTBALL CHAMPS VS THE NCAA CHAMPS

Marian U Knights helmetMount Union Purple RaidersBalladeer’s Blog regularly chronicles the intense gridiron rivalry between the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) and the NCAA Division 3. Each year I allow my readers to vote in Balladeer’s Bowl about who would win if the NAIA champions played D3’s title winners. This year that means the MARIAN UNIVERSITY KNIGHTS from the NAIA and the MOUNT UNION PURPLE RAIDERS from D3. Will it be 3 victories in a row for the NAIA team? As always, to avoid multiple votes by the same people you can cast your vote by emailing me at Continue reading

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CHRISTMAS CAROL-A-THON 2012: THE 1923 SILENT MOVIE VERSION

A Christmas Carol (1923)

A Christmas Carol (1923)

Balladeer’s Blog resumes its annual orgy of reviews of the various versions of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1923) – Not only am I an enthusiastic fan of this Dickens story but I’m also a lover of silent movies. There were plenty of adaptations of A Christmas Carol in the silent era but this one has got to be the most disappointing. By the 1920’s the art of silent filmmaking was at its creative peak with many of the masterpieces of the pre-sound era premiering during the decade. This British film adaptation is an undeniable bomb which sucks the soul out of of the story as effectively as the 1910 Edison Company version. 

At least the 1910 version had the excuse of coming out when silent movies were still finding their way creatively, but this 1923 Hi-Mark production is an embarrassment and a definite step backward in the storytelling technique of silent films. This film was screened only at museums in England for several decades before finally being released on home video in 2007. The lack of exposure built up a certain mystique around this movie and its British pedigree enhanced the feelings of anticipation surrounding its release.

Watching the film quickly disillusions anyone expecting the usual 1920’s silent movie magic. There are Continue reading

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2012 COLLEGE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONS

The college football season in the divisions covered by Balladeer’s Blog has come to a close. Here’s one final round of congratulations to the champions of those six divisions.

Marian U Knights helmetNAIA

(National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics)

Champions: MARIAN UNIVERSITY KNIGHTS

Runners-up: Morningside College Mustangs

2011 Champions – St Xavier University Cougars

Greenville College PanthersNCCAA

(National Christian College Athletic Association)

Champions: GREENVILLE COLLEGE PANTHERS

Runners-up: Northwestern (MN) College Eagles

2011 Champions – Campbellsville University Tigers

Valdosta_StNCAA Division 2

(National Collegiate Athletic Association)

Champions: VALDOSTA STATE UNIVERSITY BLAZERS

Runners-up: Continue reading

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