Tag Archives: Balladeer’s Blog

MARIE LORDS: 1861

marie lordsWith the Frontierado holiday coming up on Friday August 6th it’s time for another seasonal blog post. Marie Lords is still remembered for her 1861 quote “A cowgirl gets up early in the morning, decides what she wants to do, and does it.”

With increasing numbers of “menfolk” going off to serve in the Civil War that was raging, plenty of other women gained experience working as cowgirls like Marie had been doing.

From cowgirl to entertainer, Marie Lords’ life deserved a lot more attention than it has gotten. Continue reading

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MWINDO – EPIC MYTH OF AFRICA

Balladeer’s Blog’s examination of an epic myth of the Nyanga people of Africa.

PART ONE

MwindoMwindo is yet another semi-divine hero from global mythology. This epic will explore his unusual birth, his heroic deeds and victories over various monsters and hostile gods.

Many of the myths from Africa survived mostly in oral form until comparatively recent decades, so there are even more variations of African epics than readers may be used to. To cite just one example: Mwindo himself is usually referred to by the epithet Kabutwa-kenda, “the little one just born yet walking”. However there are a few versions of the myth in which Mwindo and Kabutwa-kenda are TWO SEPARATE FIGURES and are half-brothers.

masc graveyard smallerIn the versions where they are two separate entities Mwindo is a villainous figure while Kabutwa-kenda is the main hero of the epic. Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog will be reminded of the Navajo twin gods Nayanazgeni and Thobadzistsini. Nayanazgeni was usually the hero of the epic about the defeat of the evil gods called the Anaye but in the Apache version of the myth his brother Thobadzistsini is the hero and Nayanazgeni is reduced to being a comic relief coward. 

To stay in the area of comparative mythology for a moment Mwindo also shares qualities with the Sumerian demigod Gilgamesh. Like Gilgamesh, Mwindo goes from being brashly overconfident about his own supernatural powers to becoming a more humble hero and more capable ruler as the tale goes on.

The Mwindo Epic begins in the village of Tubondo, surrounded by raphia trees and located on a high hill. The founder and Chief of the village was named Shemwindo and he had seven wives because the Nyanga considered seven to be the number of perfection. Nyanga villages had seven separate kinship halls even if there were not seven separate kinship groups in the village. This was done out of deference to the sheer perfection of the number seven.  Continue reading

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THE APACHE KID

The annual Frontierado holiday arrives Friday, August 6th this year, so here is another seasonal post. As always, Frontierado is about the myth of the old west, not the grinding reality.

apache kidTHE APACHE KID – Born as Haskay-bay-nay-ntayl in the early 1860s this Apache legend and future outlaw leader was captured and enslaved by the Yuma Indians as a child. Freed by the U.S. Army the little boy became a street orphan/ camp mascot in army camps. Since his name was such a handful he was nicknamed the Apache Kid early on.

In 1881 former Union General Al Sieber was recruited by General George Crook to become his Head of Scouts. The Apache Kid enlisted that same year as one of the United States Army Indian Scouts whose tracking expertise was needed against their fellow Apaches who were actively fighting the army. Sieber grew to consider the Kid his finest Native American scout and by most accounts “practically adopted” the Apache Kid.

(Another figure who served as a scout under Al Sieber was Tom Horn, the future gunslinger and hired killer.)

apache kid wanted posterThe Apache Kid, who became a Sergeant by July of 1882, served under Sieber and General Crook during the Apache Wars, participating in the Battle of Cibecue Creek (August 1881), the Geronimo Campaigns/ War (1882-1886) and the Crawford Affair of 1886 which nearly started a second war between the U.S. and Mexico. American and Mexican troops inflicted a few fatalities on each other while hunting for Geronimo. Continue reading

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JOKER: THE 1919 PULP HERO

jokerTHE JOKER – Time to examine another neglected Pulp Hero in the tradition of Balladeer’s Blog’s looks at the Moon Man, Silver John, the Nyctalope, G-8 & His Battle Aces and Northwest Smith. This time it’s the Joker, but not THAT one. Before the comic book villain and even before Conrad Veidt’s turn as Gwynplaine in The Man Who Laughs (1926), came the 1919 Pulp Magazine figure called the Joker.

NOTE: Sometimes people mistakenly think Pulp Magazines were the same as comic books, only earlier. However, the Pulps were TEXT STORIES, not sequential art like comic books. The Pulps did have colorful, striking covers like later comic books would have and sometimes a few illustrations in the stories but the Pulps were a much higher level of storytelling.

The 1919 Joker was created by Hugh Kahler, who the year before had created the White Rook, another hero/ villain of the Pulps. In some ways the Joker was a rehash of Kahler’s own White Rook crossed with Guy Boothby’s Simon Carne/ Klimo crime figure from 1897. Continue reading

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ASK BALLADEER: KANG THE CONQUEROR AND IMMORTUS

kang picIn the past handful of days Balladeer’s Blog’s 2017 blog posts examining the Marvel Comics villain Kang the Conqueror and some of his other selves like Immortus and Rama Tut have been getting incredible amounts of hits. I looked into it and it turns out that when the latest Marvel streaming miniseries, Loki, ended, the cliffhanger involved Kang and Immortus at Immortus’ castle in Limbo, the realm outside the time stream.

immI thought that people were just going to my 2017 blog posts because they had no idea who Kang and Immortus are. Instead, I started getting comments from readers expressing thanks for the clarity of the “Timey-Wimey” nature of Kang’s labyrinthine saga. They said that the people writing the Loki miniseries plopped everything into the far later stages of the Kang/ Immortus stories, bypassing the earlier tales that would help people understand it.

So, in the style of an FAQ, here are the links to my articles which let people in on the Kang storyline from the beginning, through his eventual metamorphosis into Immortus by way of Rama Tut II, the Scarlet Centurion and others. Think of Kang’s various selves like you’d think of the Doctor’s various regenerations on Doctor Who to simplify it. Anyway, here are the links for my reviews of early Kang stories up through the Celestial Madonna Saga. (And with The Eternals movie coming, Marvel may well work the Celestials into their movie universe, too.)

Originally, Immortus wasn’t overseeing a “Sacred” Timeline as much as he was making sure events played out properly to bring on the Celestial Madonna.

kang bid tomorrowONE: BID TOMORROW GOODBYE – Kang wants the Celestial Madonna (Mantis, who started out as an Avenger in the 1970s) and reveals she has been the reason he frequently targeted the 20th Century. Agatha Harkness guest-stars, from the years when she was the Scarlet Witch’s mentor. CLICK HERE.

TWO: A BLAST FROM THE PAST – The actual, REAL death of an Avenger as the team tries to stop Kang from obtaining the Celestial Madonna, whose offspring would grant Kang control of all time and space. CLICK HERE

THREE: THE REALITY PROBLEM – The funeral for that first Avenger to be killed in action, plus further investigation into Mantis’ mysterious past to learn how she became destined to be the Celestial Madonna. CLICK HERE. Continue reading

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ANCIENT GREEK COMEDIES: LYSIPPUS

Balladeer’s Blog has examined nearly three dozen ancient Greek comedies so far in terms of their continuing relevance over 2,400 years later. Here’s another post in which I will focus on one of the ancient Greek comedians whose entire corpus is very, very fragmentary, touching briefly on all of their known works. For background info on ancient Greek comedy plus my previous reviews click here: https://glitternight.com/ancient-greek-comedies/ 

masc graveyard smallerLYSIPPUS – This writer of Attic Old Comedy redefines the expression “fragmentary” because even less is known about his life than about shadowy figures like Susarion and Epicharmus. Lysippus came in 1st place with an unknown comedy at a Dionysia around 440 BCE. Fragmentary evidence survives from just three of his comedies out of an unknown total body of work so this will be my shortest blog post on ancient Greek comedy. 

We’ll start with my favorite random quote from Lysippus’ fragments. It displays his pride in Athens and reflects the city-state’s status as the combined New York, Rome and Tokyo of its era:  “If you have never come to Athens you are a fool. If you have come to Athens and not been captivated by her charms you are  ignorant. If you have been captivated by the charms of Athens and ever left her you are but a beast.” 

I. BACCHAE – Not to be confused with the various tragedies of the same title or the comedy by Diocles. Too little survives to tell if the play presented a comedic version of the tragic events depicted in other works titled Bacchae. The parabasis included the type of segment that would later be frequently repeated in Attic Old Comedy as Lysippus took shots at his competitors.

That segment featured joking insults that break the fourth wall and promise the audience that the comedy wouldn’t just rework the same tired jokes like the works of Lysippus’ comic rivals supposedly did. An idiomatic expression the playwright used referred to the ancient practice of fumigating old and used clothing with sulphur and then passing it off as new. 
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DALLAS STOUDENMIRE: GUNSLINGER

The annual Frontierado Holiday is coming up on Friday, August 6th. As always, Frontierado is about the myths of the old west, not the grinding reality. Here is another often-overlooked gunslinger. 

dallas stoudenmireDALLAS STOUDENMIRE – Dallas was this figure’s real first name, and it was ideal for an old west legend, just like Sam Sixkiller had an ideal surname and John X Beidler had an ideal nickname in “X”, from his middle initial. His life was filled with whiskey, cigars, women and opium, all garnished with the smell of gunpowder. 

Stoudenmire was born on December 11th, 1845 in Aberfoil, AL.   

With the Civil War raging, 1862 and 1863 saw Dallas repeatedly trying to enlist by lying about his age only to be found out within months and discharged. Finally, on March 8th, 1864 Stoudenmire enlisted at legal age and served until the end of the war.

Immediately after war’s end, Dallas moved to Texas with his brother Abednego and his sister-in-law. While Abednego and his spouse settled in Colorado County, Dallas traveled to Mexico like many other former Confederate soldiers and served in the army fighting to keep the country’s Emperor Maximilian on his throne. Among the other southerners putting their military experience to use in Mexico was future gunslinger Ben Thompson aka Texas Ben aka Texas Thompson.

dallas stoudenmire 2After Maximilian fell and was executed in June of 1867 Stoudenmire returned to Texas and farmed with his brother in Columbus in Colorado County.

Between 1870 and 1874 Dallas wandered, working as a wheelwright and other odd jobs when on the Texas side of the border, but engaging in still-mysterious activities during periodic trips to Mexico. Some legends claim Stoudenmire was part of a rustling gang during those outings, while others have him contending with rival fortune hunters in searching for Emperor Maximilian’s lost gold

On January 17th, 1874 this figure enlisted as a Sergeant in the Texas Rangers – Company A under Captain J.R. Waller. That company’s jurisdiction ranged from western Erath County north to Stevens County and southwest to Brown County. Continue reading

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RYAN DRAKE NOVELS BY WILL JORDAN

Will Jordan

WILL JORDAN

As far as Balladeer’s Blog is concerned, the search for a successor to Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy may be over. Author Will Jordan from Scotland isn’t even out of his thirties yet and, if you’ll recall, Ludlum didn’t pen his first novel until he was in his forties. If Jordan continues to master his craft – and if he stays in the espionage genre – he could well become one of the giants of spy fiction.

Will has worked as an extra in assorted movies & television shows, often in action or military stories. He went through boot camp and weapons training as part of that process. Jordan also reviews movies and television as the Critical Drinker, the most notorious “sustained role-playing” film critic since Mr Plinkett. Will’s hilarious but insightful reviews can be found at his YT channel HERE

redemptionREDEMPTION (2012) – The novel that introduced Will Jordan’s character Ryan Drake, a former British soldier now working for the CIA. Drake leads the elite Shepherd Team, which tracks down missing agents whether they’ve disappeared willingly or unwillingly.

In this debut adventure our hero frees a woman codenamed Maras and returns her to the U.S. only to wind up going on the run with her as assorted hostile forces emerge to prevent what she knows from ever being revealed. Ryan and Maras must dodge friend and foe alike as they piece together the ongoing conspiracy. Continue reading

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QUEEN KITTY LEROY: GAMBLER/ GUNSLINGER

Kitty LeRoy

Queen Kitty

QUEEN KITTY – The Frontierado holiday is coming up on Friday, August 6th. As always, the holiday is about the myth of the old west, not the grinding reality. Balladeer’s Blog’s looks at the legends surrounding neglected gunslingers of the time period are popular posts at this time of year. 

Kitty LeRoy was also known as Kitty the Schemer, Dancing Kitty, the Female Arsenal and much later as Deadwood Kitty. Queen Kitty is the most appropriate nickname in part because of her last name but mostly because she was variously known as “the Queen of the Hoofers”, “the Dancing Queen”, “the Queen of the Barbary Coast” and “the Queen of the Faro Tables”.

Kitty was born in 1850 and by the age of 10 was earning money for her family as a professional dancer and novelty act in her home state of Michigan. By 14 she was performing exclusively at adult venues and had added trick shooting to her repertoire. Her most famous shooting trick at this time was shooting apples off the heads of volunteers. At age 15 Queen Kitty was performing in New Orleans and married her first husband – the only man in the city brave enough to let Kitty shoot apples off his head while she was riding around him at a full gallop.

Mascot and guitar

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LeRoy loved flirting and sleeping around, however, and this led to the breakup of her first marriage within a year. By 1870 Queen Kitty had married a second time, to a man named Donnaly, with whom she had a daughter. The Queen had gravitated more and more to the Faro tables, making a killing as a celebrity dealer.

With Dallas as a home base Kitty and her husband would travel throughout Texas with LeRoy earning money dancing and dealing Faro. Kitty also earned a name for being able to handle any violence that came her way from sore losers and was involved in multiple gunfights and knife fights in dangerous saloons. Continue reading

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THREE BIZARRELY WATCHABLE MOVIES

Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog know how much I love bad and weird movies. Here are three out of the way films that are not good by any stretch of the imagination but which have a certain something that makes them bizarrely watchable.

darker than amberDARKER THAN AMBER (1970) – Rod Taylor IS, for some reason, an Australian version of John D MacDonald’s detective Travis McGee. William “Big Bill” Smith plays the outrageously bleached-blonde villain Terry Bartlett and Theodore Bikel portrays McGee’s friend and idea man Meyer. McGee saves a woman (Suzy Kendall) from being forcibly drowned by her criminal associates only to see her get bumped off by them anyway.

              Taylor’s odd “Crocodile” McGee runs a con to bring down the dead woman’s murderers. The novel’s Alabama Tiger, a millionaire who runs a non-stop party on his houseboat, became the Alabama Tigress in this movie and is played by THE Jane Russell. Robert Clouse of Enter the Dragon fame directed, with the highlight of this cult film being the supposedly real fight (in parts) between William Smith and Rod Taylor. Most video versions edit out much of this awkward battle but the unedited brawl can be viewed on YT. Continue reading

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