Tag Archives: blogging

FOOL KILLER FIFTY-SIX: MAY 1912

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT IN THE 1850s, CLICK HERE 

fool killer picPART 56 – Some of the Fool Killer’s targets in the May of 1912 edition of James Larkin Pearson’s version: 

*** Columnist Al Fairbrother, who wrote so many columns pandering to different groups of readers that he would often get caught having published hard-hitting editorials on both sides of a particular issue. The latest instance that irked Pearson and his Fool Killer was a pair of columns Fairbrother wrote, one bashing Theodore Roosevelt for thinking about running for president again and one praising him for it.

*** The Meat Trust, for, as usual “somehow” (wink) obtaining favorable court rulings okaying its dilution of beef products with unlabeled amounts of dog-meat and horse-meat.

*** The latest inane fashion fad: women’s hats with batteries in them to supply power to electric lights which decorated said hats. 

*** The Taft Administration and other federal bodies responsible for trying every trick in the book to harass The Appeal To Reason, a Girard, KS newspaper which courageously took on Big Business and Wall Street. The paper was always being dragged into court over the slightest pretext with even the post office being used to harass it and its subscribers (like the way the Biden Administration is trying to wipe out dissenting opinions by tagging them as “domestic terrorism”). Continue reading

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REMARKABLE EXPERIENCES IN ANOTHER WORLD (1899): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

pharaoh's brokerPHARAOH’S BROKER: BEING THE VERY REMARKABLE EXPERIENCES IN ANOTHER WORLD OF ISIDOR WERNER WRITTEN BY HIMSELF (1899) – Written by Elmer Dwiggins under the name Ellsworth Douglass. For obvious reasons I shortened the title for the blog post headline.

Isidor Werner is a successful wheeling and dealing speculator on the grain market in Chicago. His old teacher from Heidelberg, Professor Anderwelt, comes to him seeking financial backing for an antigravity device he is working on. In exchange for 90% of the profits from the device (seems reasonable), Werner agrees.

Anderwelt uses the funding not only on the antigravity technology but for the construction of a spaceship. The professor convinces his former student Isidor to ride along with him on a trip to Mars. Continue reading

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NAIA SEMIFINAL RESULTS

The Covid-delayed college football postseason in the NAIA continues.

Northwestern College Red RaidersFIRST SEMIFINAL – The NORTHWESTERN (IA) COLLEGE RED RAIDERS took down the two-time defending national champions, the MORNINGSIDE COLLEGE MUSTANGS. The Red Raiders visited the champs and spent most of the game chasing them. A 14-9 1st Quarter edge for the Mustangs became 27-23 by Halftime. The 3rd Quarter ended with Morningside College on top 34-29 but in the 4th Northwestern College roared back to win the game 44-41. Continue reading

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FAWCETT SUPERHEROES

For this weekend’s light-hearted look at vintage superheroes Balladeer’s Blog will examine the characters of Fawcett Comics. They were another company whose heroes wound up absorbed into the DC black hole and mangled to fit in the new continuity of whatever “Crisis” DC is up to these days.  

mr scarletMISTER SCARLET

Secret Identity: Brian Butler

First Appearance: Wow Comics #1 (December 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1948.

Origin: District Attorney Brian Butler grew disillusioned with how many criminals could slip through loopholes in the legal system. To fight crime more efficiently he donned a costume and took to the nighttime streets as Mister Scarlet.

Powers: Mister Scarlet could fly, was an expert at unarmed combat and was as agile as an acrobat. He also used a ray-gun which shot non-fatal energy blasts. Comically enough, no explanation was ever provided for this hero’s ability to fly or how he got his ray-gun.

Comment: This Fawcett hero had a very imaginative Rogues Gallery of supervillains, many of whom would periodically team up against him as the Death Battalion. Brian Butler’s secretary Cherry Wade knew about his dual identity. Mister Scarlet joined the superhero fad for endangering youngsters by taking on a costumed teen sidekick called Pinky.

mary marvelMARY MARVEL

Secret Identity: Mary Bromfield (really Batson)

First Appearance: Captain Marvel Adventures #18 (December 1942) Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1954.

Origin: One day Mary Bromfield learned that her wealthy parents weren’t her real parents. She had been adopted and separated from her twin brother Billy Batson. When she and Billy were reunited, she learned that, like him, if she said S.H.A.Z.A.M. she would transform into a superhero like him per the same magic spell.

Powers: Mary Marvel had massive super-strength, super-speed and could fly. She had a large degree of invulnerability and advanced intelligence.

Comment: In Mary’s case S.H.A.Z.A.M. stood for the grace of Selena, the strength of Hippolyta, the skill of Ariadne, the speed of Zephyrus, the beauty of Aurora and the wisdom of Minerva. Her arch-enemy was Georgia Sivana, the mad scientist daughter of Captain Marvel’s archenemy Doctor Sivana. Continue reading

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CAMERONE DAY: THE 158th ANNIVERSARY

French Foreign Legion flagCAMERONE DAY – A month ago Balladeer’s Blog examined the 1895 collection of short stories Garrison Tales From Tonquin (Tonkin), written by American James O’Neill. The tales were fictionalized accounts of his experiences in the French Foreign Legion in the 1880s and 1890s in Algeria and Vietnam. O’Neill’s insights into the French occupation of Vietnam during and after the Sino-French War were astonishingly ahead of their time.

Today’s blog post is nowhere near as profound or steeped in existentialism as Garrison Tales From Tonquin, but I couldn’t help but reflect on it since the yearly anniversary of the Battle of Camerone in Mexico has been THE major event on the French Foreign Legion’s calendar since 1863. It is often viewed as the battle that helped cement the Legion in the imaginations of people around the world in the 19th Century, and no doubt its legend was well known to James O’Neill by the time he enlisted in the fighting outfit in the 1880s. 

White Kepis of the French Foreign LegionTHE BATTLE OF CAMERONE (Camaron in Spanish) – Getting back to the topic of this blog post, it’s sort of the French Foreign Legion’s central Alamo event. And I say central because many of the most famous battles of the Legion are like a long series of Alamos. Camerone set the standard, though. As usual, the Legion’s cause was not a virtuous one by our standards. The execrable Napoleon the Third was using the FFL and other French forces to try to prop up his Austrian ally Maximilian, the so-called “Emperor of Mexico.”

The Mexicans wanted the foreign-imposed emperor out and ultimately prevailed in 1867, but on April 30th, 1863 a mere 65 members of the French Foreign Legion held off what ultimately grew to a force of THREE THOUSAND, THREE HUNDRED (3,300) Mexican soldiers. Continue reading

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AGON: ATOMIC DRAGON (1964-1968)

agon atomic dragonAGON: ATOMIC DRAGON, also called Phantom Monster Agon and Giant Phantom Monster Agon, is an overlooked miniseries from Japanese television. It was produced in 1964 but due to legal action over the monster’s similarity to Godzilla its creator’s old Toho contract was invoked to prevent the miniseries from being televised until 1968. This black & white miniseries ran just four half-hour episodes and aired on four consecutive nights, from January 2nd – 5th, 1968.

THE STORY: On a night when a typhoon is lashing Japan, a truck transporting uranium is blown off a cliffside road and into the sea. The uranium is devoured by a VERY Godzilla-looking monster called Agon after the supposed Jurassic Period dinosaur it resembles.

agon faceWhen an irritating reporter named Goro Sumoto aka “the Suppon” arrives to report on the police and the Atomic Energy Authorities scouring the beach for the lost uranium, Agon rises up from the sea in the exact same “bubbling waters first” technique favored by Godzilla. Goro photographs Agon, who vogues for a while, then submerges again. The reporter also meets Monta, the obligatory wise-ass little kid character so common to kaiju stories.

The atomic scientist Dr Ukyo, his female assistant Satsuki and Police Detective Yamato consult with Goro, and the good doctor theorizes that Agon has been in suspended animation since the Jurassic Period and that atomic bombs mutated him, making him hungry for the uranium which fell into the sea, waking him. Continue reading

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THE SCARLET PLAGUE (1912): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

scarlet plagueTHE SCARLET PLAGUE (1912) – Written by THE Jack London. Years ago Balladeer’s Blog reviewed London’s mad scientist horror tale A Thousand Deaths, now I’ll examine The Scarlet Plague, London’s post-apocalypse plague story set in the year 2073.

              Jack London opens up this novella with a grim look at what life is like in the aftermath of the Scarlet Plague which swept the planet in the year 2013. Many recent reviews of this book focus purely on the disease angle because of the world’s ongoing Covid experience, but I think they overlook a lot of London’s political and class commentary. 

I’ll take a look at the way in which London presented the pre-plague America of 2013 as a dystopia even before the first victim of the Scarlet Plague passed away. The elderly survivor recounting the tale to his grandchildren in 2073 doesn’t describe it that way because he was in a privileged class as an “educator”.

scarlet plague 2James Howard Smith is that elderly survivor in a world returned largely to hunting and gathering. He is cared for by his three grandsons, Edwin and two others whose absurd names probably contribute to keeping The Scarlet Plague so underappreciated – Hoo-Hoo and Harelip. (?) They get by as well as they can in northern California, raising dogs to help them herd the goats that they raise for meat and milk, and relying on the ocean for much of the rest of their food supply. Primitive weapons like bows and arrows are all they have on hand to use against wild bears and other menaces. Continue reading

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BAKARIDJAN KONE: AN AFRICAN EPIC MYTH

Balladeer’s Blog resumes its blog posts about neglected mythological epics from around the world. This particular epic comes from the Bambara people of the Kingdom of Segu in what is now Mali.

MaliTHE BAKARIDJAN KONE EPIC – Djeli, the poet-historians of the Bambara people for over 300 years, would often recite, chant and sing this epic myth while playing their stringed instruments called ngoni.

A. The future father of Bakaridjan Kone is a noble-born farmer in Disoro Nko. He grows tired of his agrarian lifestyle and his wives. (“Segu City’s where he’d rather be/ He gets allergic smelling hay” Had to be said.) Hearing that Da Monzon, the great ruler of the Kingdom of Segu, knows how to create gold, the disenchanted farmer goes to Segu City and becomes part of the court of Da Monzon, only to learn the gold story is not true.

A ngoni instrument

A ngoni

B. Kumba, one of the errant farmer’s wives, gives birth to a boy. His deadbeat dad refuses to be present for the naming ceremony but hints around to Da Monzon that maybe he should provide him with a gift to celebrate the birth. Da Monzon is disgusted with the man for abandoning his wives and not being present for said naming ceremony.

              Instead, the king sends cowries to the wives so they can perform a proper ceremony, at which he wants the baby to be named Bakaridjan Kone. As the provider of the boy’s name, Da Monzon has made himself the child’s adopted father.

C. Years go by, and, royal politics being what they are no matter the culture or time period, Da Monzon begins to worry that he may get killed and/or overthrown before any of his sons are old enough to take over as king. His morike (oracle or diviner) tells him that no full-grown man poses a threat, but there is a boy-child who would one day be able to seize the throne. The morike advises Da Monzon to find a boy who is tough enough to not cry out when his foot is pierced by the king’s spear. THAT is the boy who might overthrow the king. Continue reading

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS: QUARTERFINAL RESULTS

For newbies, the many reschedulings over Covid from last fall meant that the NAIA college football playoffs didn’t get started until last weekend. Yesterday was Round Two.

Northwestern College Red RaidersFIRST QUARTERFINAL – The NORTHWESTERN (IA) COLLEGE RED RAIDERS traveled to face the GRAND VIEW UNIVERSITY VIKINGS (should be the Zebras). A 7-0 1st Quarter lead for the Vikings became a 14-7 advantage by Halftime. The 3rd Quarter ended with the Red Raiders on top by a score of 17-14, then both teams notched 10 more points in the 4th as Northwestern College won the game 27-24.

Morningside MustangsSECOND QUARTERFINAL – This game pitted the 2-time defending National Champions – the MORNINGSIDE COLLEGE MUSTANGS – against the visiting BAKER UNIVERSITY WILDCATS. The Wildcats were as tough as ever, leading the Mustangs 14-9 in the opening Quarter and holding a 21-9 lead at the Half. After the break Morningside College came stampeding back, going up 24-21 in the 3rd Quarter, then winning out by a comfortable final count of 45-29. Continue reading

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THE SHIELD: HIS FIRST TWENTY STORIES

Balladeer’s Blog’s readers have made it clear they love these light-hearted superhero posts on weekends, so here we go with the first twenty stories of the MLJ character the Shield. 

ShieldTHE SHIELD

Secret Identity: Doctor Joe Higgins, a chemist.

Origin: On his deathbed Joe’s father Tom revealed to him the secret of a chemical formula he had been working on. That formula could bestow superpowers on a normal human being. As Joe grew older he got his PhD in chemistry, finished his father’s formula and used it on himself, gaining superpowers. He devised a special costume and fought the forces of evil as the Shield, a super-powered operative of the FBI. 

First Appearance: Pep Comics #1 (January 1940). His final Golden Age appearance came in late 1945. 

shield picPowers: The chemical formula that the Shield rubbed onto his skin followed by bombardment with flouroscopic rays endowed him with massive super-strength plus invulnerability and the ability to leap enormous distances. His name came from an acronym for the areas of the human anatomy affected by his chemical formula: S – Sacrum H – Heart I – Innervation E – Eyes L – Lungs D – Derma. The Shield also wore an indestructible costume which encased his torso like a shield.

Comment: The Shield was America’s first star-spangled superhero, beating Captain America into print by more than a year. He eventually had a youthful sidekick called Dusty and a private detective sweetheart named Betty Warren. His archenemy was the Vulture. His adventures continued until December of 1945. Only J Edgar Hoover knew the Shield’s secret identity. Yes, J Edgar Hoover was the head of the FBI, proving that even back then the FBI was a crooked and politically corrupt organization.

pep 1PEP COMICS #1 (January 1940)

Title: The Shield, G-Man Extraordinary

Villains: A Stokian spy ring

Synopsis: The Shield is given his first assignment. He must destroy a spy ring from the fictional nation of Stokia after the ring blows up a munitions factory, sabotages commercial shipping and assassinates U.S. military personnel. Our hero defeats all of the villains and survives their explosion of the Hotel Braganza. 

NOTE: This is the first time readers see the Shield attach wires from his earpieces to telephone wires so that his enhanced hearing can “bug” the room of his targets. Continue reading

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