Tag Archives: Balladeer’s Blog

THE NYCTALOPE: NEGLECTED PULP HERO

nyctalope-1Balladeer’s Blog examines another Pulp Hero who doesn’t get as much love as he deserves. Science Fiction pioneer Jean de la Hire from France created the Nyctalope (“Nightwalker”) in 1908 but since many of de la Hire’s works were not translated into English for decades this fascinating cyborg Pulp Hero and proto-superhero languished in obscurity.

nyctalope-2This French figure survived a violent incident with the help of scientists who “had the technology” to give him yellow bionic eyes which could see in the dark and for long distances. In addition his saviors replaced his damaged heart with a cybernetic one, endowing him with superhuman stamina since that artificial organ slowed the buildup of lactic acid in his system. 

The Nyctalope’s serialized adventures were collected into novel form after each story ended.

man-who-could-live-underwaterTHE MAN WHO COULD LIVE UNDERWATER (1908) In the story which introduced the Nyctalope he was a supporting character to one of Jean de la Hire’s other Pulp Heroes, in this case Severac. That hero invented and captained the Torpedo, a super-scientific submarine that would make Captain Nemo AND Mighty Jack green with envy.

The Nyctalope helped Severac battle a mad scientist named Oxus and his associates Fulbert the monk and Balsan the surgeon. The villains had created a hybrid shark-man called the Ichtaner, meant to be the start of an amphibious army. Needless to say our heroes emerged triumphant and the Ichtaner was returned to normal.

In this debut appearance the Nyctalope’s secret identity was given as Jean de Sainte Clair, but de la Hire would absent-mindedly alternate between that and Leo Saint-Clair in future adventures before finally settling on the latter name.

(NOTE: Various fan-created histories of the Nyctalope resolve the difference by claiming that Jean de Sainte Clair was the father of Leo Saint-Clair. As fun as those fan works are they are not official. I am dealing with the Nyctalope as the original stories presented him.)      

nyctalope-on-marsTHE MYSTERY OF THE FIFTEEN (1911) aka THE NYCTALOPE ON MARS – Oxus the Mad returned as a villain in this first solo adventure of the Nyctalope. Oxus (renamed Arkhus in some later translations) was the leader of a group called The Fifteen – a secret organization of megalomaniacal madmen.

The Fifteen had formed an alliance with a race on Mars, and through that alliance they had access to interplanetary spacecraft and additional advanced technology. Oxus, Koynos and their co-conspirators were spiriting women away to the Red Planet, planning on cross-breeding Martians and humans to create an unstoppable warrior race in order to conquer both worlds. Continue reading

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KIKOMIHCI: MUSCOGEE CREEK GOD

human chartKIKOMIHCI – The god who created human beings and animal life after the supreme deity Ibofanaga was finished creating the Earth, the heavens and the underground world. Kikomihci animated people and other animals with their “ghosts” which could leave their bodies at night in dreams and wander around, returning to their host body by morning to avoid causing illness.

Ibofanaga was solely responsible for the actual “souls” of the beings Kikomihci created. Like the Inuit and other peoples the Muscogee Creek distinguished between an animating force and an actual “eternal” soul.

Kikomihci created humans in the underground world and it was from there that the ancient Creek people eventually emerged from caves near what we call the Rocky Mountains. The Muscogee called those mountains “the spine of the world”  (although in some versions it is instead the Appalachian Mountains that are given that designation). The realm of the gods was on the other side of those mountains. Continue reading

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MARIKAS (421 B.C.) – ANCIENT GREEK COMEDY

EupolisBalladeer’s Blog presents another look at an ancient Greek Comedy. This time around it’s one written by Eupolis who – along with Aristophanes and Cratinus – was one of the Big Three of Attic Old Comedy.

MARIKAS (c 421 B.C.) – This was the second comedy to emerge in the new subgenre of Attic Old Comedy called “the Demagogue Comedy”. Aristophanes led the way a few years earlier with The Knights, his comedy attacking the politician Cleon. The play Marikas finds Eupolis attacking the demagogue Hyperbolus, whose reputation for character assassination by way of overstatement lives on in our language by way of the word “hyperbole”.  

As with most ancient Greek comedies Marikas has survived only in fragmentary form. Those fragments, along with contemporary references in surviving works, provide what is known about the play. Marikas, the title character, was used by Eupolis to represent the politician Hyperbolus the same way Aristophanes had used the Paphlagonian to represent Cleon in The Knights.

The ancient Greek comedies made a point of breaking the fourth wall on a regular basis (despite the way so many people have convinced themselves that that is a “postmodern” development) and Marikas opened up with a character assuring the audience that the play they were about to see was NOT just a rehashing of The Knights. Continue reading

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PRESIDENTIAL ACTION AND HORROR FILMS

George WashingtonGEORGE WASHINGTON BATTLES THE BERSERKERS – During the brutal winter at Valley Forge General George Washington must contend with more than just the elements and the distant British army. The Hessian troops the Redcoats have imported from the German- speaking world have unleashed a master plan to overrun the Continental Army once and for all.

Their ranks boast a dabbler in Nordic magic and he’s concocted a mushroom-heavy formula to transform all the Hessians into furious berserkers like those of the Viking age! George is having none of it of course, and plans to turn the Pennsylvania snow red with the blood of these latter-day berserkers of the ancient Germanic god Woden.

All this plus a gay love affair between Washington and Alexander Hamilton just to guarantee lots of free publicity! 

John AdamsJOHN ADAMS: WITCHSLAYER – Remember the tale of young John Adams defending a 1700s Wiccan priestess when he was a lawyer? This movie would proceed from the notion that the young witch went on to involve Adams in a battle royal with an evil coven of dark witches who were giving paganism a bad name!

Using an aresenal of mystic weapons provided by the priestess he defended John goes on to lay the thirteen witches and warlocks of the dark coven in their graves! Throw in an Continue reading

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BAYBAYAN: EPIC MYTH OF THE PHILIPPINES

Philippines Map 3Here’s another piece in the tradition of Balladeer’s Blog’s guides to my examinations of the epic myths about Nayanazgeni, the Navajo War God and Pele & Hi’iaka, the Hawaiian volcano goddess and her sister.

I. PART ONE – After Baybayan’s miraculous birth and rapid growth the demigod travels the Philippines performing miracles and gathering a huge band of followers around him. Soon, the day of apocalyptic danger arrives. CLICK HERE   

II. PART TWO – As Baybayan performs a multitude of wedding ceremonies for his disciples all the merriment ends with the arrival of the gigantic, world-destroying monster called the Makadingding. CLICK HERE   Continue reading

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL: BALLADEER’S BLOG’S RANKINGS

BlUE DRAGONSBIGGGGGGGGGNJCAA Division One 

1. HUTCHINSON COLLEGE BLUE DRAGONS    ###     2. SOUTH PLAINS COLLEGE TEXANS    ###     3. MOBERLY AREA COLLEGE GREYHOUNDS    ###     4. WALTERS STATE SENATORS    ###     5. MCLENNAN COLLEGE HIGHLANDERS    ###    

Gillette College Pronghorns6. GILLETTE COLLEGE PRONGHORNS    ###     7. LAMAR COLLEGE RUNNIN’ LOPES    ###     8. GULF COAST STATE COMMODORES    ###     9. CAPE FEAR COLLEGE SEA DEVILS    ###     10. SALT LAKE CITY COLLEGE BRUINS (Defending Champions)    ###     Continue reading

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EUGENE CERNAN, RIP

Eugene Cernan, our last lunar explorer, passed away. Here is a recap of that final Apollo Mission to the moon, Apollo 17. 

Apollo 17 patchAPOLLO 17 – Overall Commander: Eugene A Cernan

Command Module America Pilot: Ronald E Evans

Lunar Module Challenger Pilot: Harrison H Schmitt

This final manned expedition to the moon was launched on December 7th, 1972 at 12:33am. This was the only after-dark launch of the Apollo Program. On December 11th at 12:20pm the Challenger set down in the Littrow Valley of the Taurus Mountain region of the moon.

The Mission: Apollo 17 broke several records set by previous Apollo missions. Those records included the longest manned lunar landing flight, the most and longest extra-vehicular activities on the moon and the largest haul of lunar materials – 243 pounds. Continue reading

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