Tag Archives: Balladeer’s Blog

FOOL KILLER FORTY-FOUR: FEBRUARY 1911

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer timelessPART FORTY-FOUR: Among the Fool Killer’s targets in the February of 1911 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s publication:

*** Religious leaders who were more into money than anything else. As Pearson and his version of the Fool Killer pointed out: “When the dollar rules the pulpit, the Devil rules the pew.”

*** The frivolous fashionistas who decreed that men’s coats and vests must now be “corset-cut” and their pants be more form-fitting. (Remember, they also targeted the way fashion trends arbitrarily changed women’s clothing, too.)

*** Sir Oliver Lodge, a famous spiritualist of the time who warned that the walls between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead were “wearing thin in places.” Continue reading

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MARTIN HEWITT (1971) RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

Rivals of Sherlock Holmes bestFor Balladeer’s Blog’s review of the first episode of this 1971-1973 series about non-Holmes detectives of the Victorian and Edwardian Ages click HERE   

*** This review will cover the three Martin Hewitt mysteries that were dramatized in the first season of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes.

Martin HewittEpisode: THE AFFAIR OF THE TORTOISE (November 22nd, 1971)

Detective: Martin Hewitt, created by Arthur Morrison. The first Martin Hewitt story was published in 1894.

Review: Martin Hewitt was created by the same author who created Horace Dorrington, covered in a previous review of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. Unlike Dorrington, Hewitt is honest and looks out for his clients’ interests more than his own. Unfortunately, as portrayed by Peter Barkworth, he’s also more than a little bland.

Well, “bland” might be uncharitable. “Professional” may be more fitting. Barkworth’s Hewitt is serene and reassuring, putting his clients at ease no matter what crisis they’re going through. 

Martin Hewitt with InspectorIn The Affair of the Tortoise Martin Hewitt is hired by Miss Chapman (Cyd Hayman), a former governess that he has just located so she could receive an inheritance from a distant relative. Miss Chapman wants Hewitt to clear one of her neighbors, Goujon (Timothy Bateson), of murder charges. 

Goujon is suspected of killing Rameau (Stefan Kalifa), a rowdy, hard-partying Haitian official residing in London. The drunken Rameau often played practical jokes on Goujon and recently went too far, causing the death of the Frenchman’s pet tortoise. Continue reading

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THE SPEEDY JOURNEY (1744) ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

The Air Ship departs the Earth as Fama and the Astral Body look on.

The Air Ship departs the Earth as Fama and the Astral Body look on.

THE SPEEDY JOURNEY (1744) by Eberhard Christian Kindermann. This work of proto-science fiction begins with the fictitious discovery of a moon orbiting the planet Mars over a century before Phobos and Deimos were observed in real life. From there it features a journey through space to reach this celestial body.  

The Speedy Journey represents an odd but entertaining fusion of scientific speculation and elements of Christian beliefs. Fama (“Fame”), an actual angel from Heaven heralds the discovery of the fictitious moon of Mars and even sings the public praises of the team of scientists who set out to explore the satellite. In the peculiar fictional world presented by Kindermann in this book the general public takes in stride these visitations from angels who serve as virtual P.R. flacks for men of science.   Continue reading

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SUPERHERO PANTHEON OF FOX FEATURES SYNDICATE

Superheroes continue to dominate pop culture right now and Balladeer’s Blog’s readers let me hear it when I go too long without a superhero blog post. Here is my look at the Fox Features Syndicate heroes from the Golden Age.

Dynamo Fox Features picDYNAMO

Secret Identity: Jim Andrews, electrical scientist

First Appearance: Science Comics #1 (February 1940)

Origin: Jim Andrews risked his life to contain a potentially deadly accident at the electrical lab where he worked, inadvertently gaining superpowers from the incident. He donned a costume and fought the forces of evil as Dynamo.

Powers: Dynamo could use his electrical powers to shoot electric rays from his hands, to fly, to surround himself with a force field and to magnify his own strength.

Comment: In his very first appearance this hero went by the nom de guerre Electro, but in his remaining 24 adventures called himself Dynamo instead. 

Black Lion picBLACK LION

Secret Identity: George Davis, big-game hunter

First Appearance: Wonderworld Comics #21 (January 1941)

Origin: George Davis’ career as a big-game hunter had brought him wealth and fame. Having met all the challenges of hunting members of the animal kingdom he decided to go after the most dangerous game of all: human criminals. To that end he donned a costume and took on supervillains and Nazi agents.

Powers: The Black Lion was at the peak of human condition and had the agility of an Olympic gymnast. He was also an expert at unarmed combat and could outfight multiple opponents at once. His totem animal the lion gave him superhuman healing ability. Continue reading

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TWIN PEAKS IN POLAND? THE MAGICAL WORLD OF ANIA

Magical World of Ania picBalladeer’s Blog’s love of quality horror ARGs (Alternate Reality Games) has been well established. In the past I’ve examined productions like Local 58, Claridryl and Jack Torrance (NOT the character from The Shining.)

This time around I’m taking a look at what I call Poland’s answer to Twin PeaksMAGICZNY SWIAT ANI or MAGICAL WORLD OF ANIA. Like Local 58, this ARG is still going, so if you’re interested in pitting your wits against the producer’s, the various mysteries remain unresolved as of this writing.

NOTE: BE SURE TO USE THE CLOSED CAPTIONING FOR TRANSLATION FROM THE POLISH LANGUAGE.

Magical World of Ania pic 2The eerie storyline revolves around the disappearance of a beautiful young Polish woman named Ania Slowinska and the dark, seemingly supernatural forces behind it. As the tale unfolds it becomes apparent other women have fallen victim to the same forces, with one having had all her teeth removed after being murdered.

Among the many suspects and supporting characters in the drama are Ania’s mother Kristina, who seems to be morbidly enjoying the attention her daughter’s disappearance has brought her. Others include Ania’s birth-father – whom she never knew – plus her step-father, an infatuated stalker, a jealous female friend and a faith healer with a very strange band of disciples.

Magical World of Ania pic 3Organs and limbs seem to be stolen for transplant use and replaced with porcelain or papier mache substitutes. This practice extends even to the heads of the victims … sometimes while they’re still alive. Obviously this is for adults only.  Continue reading

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MEDALS OF HONOR FOR THE 1871 KOREAN EXPEDITION

Medal of HonorHAPPY MEMORIAL DAY! As always Balladeer’s Blog marks the event with a few looks at neglected conflicts from America’s past. The servicemen who fought in those actions are just as deserving of being memorialized as those who fought in more familiar wars.  

KOREAN EXPEDITION OF 1871 – A Diplomatic Mission was sent to Korea that year, with the time period’s usual military escort of war ships on such ventures. The U.S. expedition was snubbed on the diplomatic side and then Korean shore batteries opened fire upon the military escort. The Americans launched reprisal raids for a few days then departed, leaving U.S. – Korean relations somewhat cold for years afterward. Medal of Honor Winners:

William F LukesWILLIAM F LUKES

Navy Rank: Landsman 

Citation: June 9th – 10th, 1871 – During the assault on the Han River Forts on Ganghwa Island, Lukes came to the assistance of injured Lieutenant Hugh McKee. The Landsman fought his way through heavy resistance to the fallen McKee’s location and refused to abandon his comrade.

Through swordplay, bayonet charges and hand-to-hand combat William received a severe sword cut to the head, a wound which would cause him to suffer convulsions for the rest of his life from the brain damage. When American reinforcements arrived they found the unconscious Lukes had suffered 18 bayonet wounds in the fighting.   

JOHN ANDREWS Continue reading

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CARNACKI (1971) RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

For Balladeer’s Blog’s review of the first episode of this 1971-1973 series about non-Holmes detectives of the Victorian and Edwardian Ages click HERE   

Horse of the InvisibleEpisode: THE HORSE OF THE INVISIBLE (October 18th, 1971)

Detective: Thomas Carnacki, created by William Hope Hodgson. The first Carnacki story was published in 1910.

Review: Thomas Carnacki was an Edwardian detective who investigated the paranormal in 9 stories written by William Hope Hodgson, famous for the horror tale The House on the Borderlands. The fun of the Carnacki mysteries came from the way that sometimes the supernatural elements were being faked by human malefactors. The hero would solve the case either way.

In a fortuitous bit of casting which helps make this episode timeless, Donald Pleasence starred as Thomas Carnacki. Pleasence’s role of Doctor Loomis in the Halloween series of slasher films makes him a familiar face even to viewers unfamiliar with his loooong body of work.

CarnackiGiven that this program is titled The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes the best way to describe The Ghost of the Invisible would be as a hybrid of The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Speckled Band crossed with the John Silence series of occult mysteries.

Renowned “Ghost Detective” Thomas Carnacki is hired by the patriarch of the Hisgins family to safeguard his soon-to-be-wed daughter Mary from a spectre which has haunted the family for centuries. That spectre is the titular horse, a ghostly mare which has murdered the first-born child of each successive lord of Hisgins Hall … when that first-born child has been female. Continue reading

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