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BALLADEER’S BLOG’S PRESEASON RANKINGS FOR NAIA FOOTBALL

The 2022 College Football season kicks off on August 25th for the divisions covered here at Balladeer’s Blog. Here are my preseason rankings for the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics).

Morningside Mustangs*** 1. MORNINGSIDE COLLEGE MUSTANGS (Defending National Champions)    ###     2. NORTHWESTERN (IA) COLLEGE RED RAIDERS    ###      3. GRAND VIEW UNIVERSITY VIKINGS    ###     4. MARIAN UNIVERSITY KNIGHTS    ###     

Southwestern College Moundbuilders NEW5. SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE MOUNDBUILDERS    ###     6. LINDSEY WILSON COLLEGE BLUE RAIDERS    ###     7. CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY (MI) CARDINALS    ###    8. KEISER UNIVERSITY SEAHAWKS    ###      Continue reading

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IT, THE LIVING COLOSSUS: MARVEL KAIJU

Okay, this Saturday’s light-hearted, escapist superhero blog post will take a look at Marvel Comics’ neglected figure It, the Living Colossus.

it 1TALES OF SUSPENSE Vol 1 #14 (February 1961)

Title: I Created the Colossus

Villains: The Kigor, an alien

NOTE: It the Living Colossus was created by Stan Lee, his brother Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby

Synopsis: We are introduced to Boris Petrovsky in the Soviet Union. He is a dissident artist whose brother Ivan, a Party official, had Boris canceled for his pro-freedom views. Ivan also had his brother detained for “reeducation” and was forcing him to create a huge statue glorifying the Soviet Union to show that he had abandoned his insurrectionist beliefs.

Defiant to the last, Boris instead used the months-long period to craft a menacing, horrifying face on the mammoth statue to show how he REALLY perceived the communist government. Shortly before Ivan was due to arrive to inspect the finished statue a spaceship crash-landed near Moscow.

living colossusThe sole occupant of the alien vessel was a member of the Kigor race, large crab-like creatures of great intelligence who walked erect. Outnumbered on a hostile planet, the Kigor used its alien technology/ powers to transfer its mind into the enormous statue to try surviving.

Whether via technology or radiation treatments or some other method, the Kigor made the statue capable of movement as though it was a living being who had skin and muscles made of other-worldly stone. It’s a comic book, just go with it.

Ivan Petrovsky arrived to see the statue moving around on its own and called in the military. The statue, soon labeled It, the Living Colossus in languages around the world, fought back against the army, tanks and aircraft. It rampaged through Moscow like a kaiju monster stomping Tokyo. Continue reading

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BUCKSKIN FRANK: HAPPY FRONTIERADO 2022

arizona desert

HAPPY FRONTIERADO! The first Friday of every August marks this holiday devoted to the myth of the old west rather than the grinding reality. For some of us the celebration kicks off Thursday night, for others they wait until the actual day of Frontierado to hold their festivities. Enjoy your buffalo steaks, rattlesnake fried rice, corn on the cob, tumbleweed pizza, cactus salad and more today and tonight, and enjoy the leftovers on Saturday and Sunday.

buckskin frankBUCKSKIN FRANK LESLIE – Franklyn Leslie, full name Nashville Franklyn Leslie, was better known as Buckskin Frank. “Nashville” was, he claimed, his actual first name, NOT a nickname.

Buckskin Frank Leslie had no connection to the popular 1800s magazine of that name, but that’s one of the few questions that can be answered about this gunslinger. Which side of the Civil War did he serve on? He claimed both at various times.

Was he pro or anti-Clanton Faction during the gang war in Tombstone, Arizona? He claimed to be a Lone Wolf, and news accounts of the time do feature him in conflict with figures from both sides. He definitely killed Billy Claiborne and MAY have killed Johnny Ringo. Even his own death is shrouded in mystery.

Nashville Franklyn Leslie was born March 18th, 1842 in Texas. Virtually nothing is known about his early life and at different times he claimed to have served on each side of the Civil War. Why he left Texas is not known, either. By some accounts it was because of a family conflict but by others it was to flee a criminal past, possibly under the surname Korrigan or Corrigan.

buckskin frank drawingDocumentation starts to show up regarding Buckskin Frank on July 11th, 1869 when he arrived in San Francisco via the steamship Portland according to the passenger information published by the Daily Alta California.

After working as a bartender in San Francisco and possibly other California cities Leslie worked for Wells Fargo and similar outfits for a few years as a gunslinging guard before becoming an army scout under various commanders including Custer. He dabbled in law enforcement as a Deputy Sheriff and may or may not have met Wild Bill Hickok during the early 1870s, depending on which source you go by. Continue reading

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PONY BOB: PONY EXPRESS RIDER

The Frontierado holiday, on August 5th this year, is hurtling toward us. Balladeer’s Blog will squeeze in a few more seasonal posts for this year’s celebrations. Frontierado is about the myth of the old west, not the grinding reality.

pony bobPONY BOB – Robert Haslam, better known as Pony Bob, holds multiple records set in the Pony Express during its year and a half history, including the longest individual round-trip ride – 380 miles – when one of his relay riders was put out of action during the Paiute War in 1860.

Pony Bob was born in England in January, 1840 and in his teens moved to the United States. For a few years Haslam worked around Salt Lake City, Utah, doing ranch work and serving as a mounted government messenger before joining in the construction work on the Pony Express stations. When the Express launched in April of 1860, he was among the earliest Expressmen, the official title of the Pony Express riders.

Haslam’s route in Nevada was from Friday’s Station to Buckland Station near Fort Churchill. Among Pony Bob’s experiences during the Paiute War –
Continue reading

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THE RAINBOW OF ADAMANT (1897) ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

rainbow at niagara fallsTHE RAINBOW OF ADAMANT (1897) – Written by Charles Kelsey Gaines, this short story is an excellent example of how slowly word of scientific discoveries was spread in the 19th Century compared to our lightning-fast communications of today. The Rainbow of Adamant was written during the period when most of the world was still going by assumptions and theories about helium.

That element had been officially detected in 1868 and subsequently confirmed but its exact properties were unknown for decades. In 1895 a trio of scientists – Per Teodor Cleve, Nils Abraham Langlet and Sir William Ramsay – found helium emanating from “cleveite” (now known as a variety of uraninite) and documented its properties.

As word of the trio’s work was slowly disseminating among the rest of the scientific community and the general public, the April 1897 issue of The Pocket Magazine published Charles Kelsey Gaines’ short story The Rainbow of Adamant. That tale, reviewed below, presented a much more fanciful and exciting version of helium’s properties. Continue reading

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MOST LAUGHABLY WEIRD SPAGHETTI WESTERNS

mascot cowboy smallerWith Frontierado rapidly approaching on August 5th – or for those of us who kick things off the night before – August 4th – let’s take a look at some of the most obscure but laughably weird Italian westerns. And what better way to start that list than with one of the countless Spaghetti Westerns with phony Django titles?

Franco Nero starred as the original Django but sadly had just a cameo in the 2012 reboot. The original movie was a monumental success everywhere in the world except the U.S. back in 1966. There was only one other “official” Django movie (also starring Nero) but there were literally nearly a hundred false Django movies featuring different actors in the lead role (my favorite being Terence Hill) or that just plain retitled and redubbed other Italian westerns to make them seem like Django movies.

django kill1. DJANGO KILL (1967) – Originally titled If You Live, Shoot!, this was one of the many Eurowesterns to be re-released to theaters years later as a phony Django movie just so it could clean up on the guaranteed cash cow of the Django name.

In this one our pseudo-Django finds himself involved with a kidnapped teen boy, the gay outlaws who have kidnapped and raped him (seriously), and their Wild West castle (?) where they torture their victims medieval-style, including roasting them on spits. Pseudo-Django shoots gold bullets in this flick and greedy townspeople rip open the corpses of the gunmen who fall to him just to get at the precious metal.

Even worse is the scene where the gold-hungry townspeople rip open the wounds of people who were just injured by the gold bullets, adding wince-inducing screams to the tableau. For my review of the original 1966 Django movie click HERE. Continue reading

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POSSE (1993)

 Frontierado is coming up on Friday, August 5th!

POSSE is a terrific western about a gang of African American  gunfighters (plus the goofiest  Baldwin brother) involved in an action-packed epic journey across the American west. The Frontierado holiday is the perfect time of year to hunker down with this film while drinking a Cactus Jack or a Deuces Wild or two. I’ll review the recipes for those mixed drinks in a few days, but for now we’ll focus on this movie on our countdown.

Posse stars Mario Van Peebles, who also directed, as Jesse Lee, the brooding, revenge-driven hero of the saga. He and all but one member of his gang, our titular posse, are soldiers fighting in Cuba during the Spanish-American War in 1898. A dangerous assault they carry out turns out to be Continue reading

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DOC SAMSON: NEGLECTED MARVEL HERO

doc samsonFor this Saturday’s light-hearted and escapist superhero post, here’s a look at the gamma-powered Doc Samson, a potentially great character that Marvel Comics never quite managed correctly. 

Almost as strong as the Hulk, possessed of an MD and a PhD, this guy should have been placed in the Defenders the minute they stopped having the Hulk as a regular team member. Say, around Defenders #103 (January 1982). 

hulk 141INCREDIBLE HULK Vol 1 #141 (July 1971)

Title: His Name is … Samson

Comment: General Thunderbolt Ross is desperate to cure his daughter Betty from her current state of being trapped in an immobile glass form. (Betty wound up like that after a blood transfusion from the supervillain the Sandman 3 issues earlier.)

General Ross has called in the brilliant Doctor Leonard Samson (formerly Leonard Skivorski, Jr), as yet non-superpowered. Dr. Samson devises technology which can convert a certain type of gamma radiation into a cure for Betty, but the Hulk must be captured to obtain that radiation. 

Samson is a psychiatrist on top of being a physicist, and he uses a psychiatric approach to revert the cornered Hulk back into Bruce Banner temporarily. Leonard explains his plans to cure Betty of her glass state AND cure Bruce of being the Hulk, and Banner agrees to cooperate.

doc samson and girderIn a laboratory, Dr. Samson triggers the restrained Bruce Banner’s transformation into the Hulk, and uses his Cathexis Ray Generator to drain all of that gamma energy from him, curing Bruce of being the Hulk permanently. Next, Samson uses a tiny fraction of the stored gamma energy to turn Betty Ross back into her normal human state.  

After a few days of caring for both Bruce and Betty as his patients, Leonard uses the leftover gamma radiation in the Cathexis Ray Generator to turn himself into the super-powered Doc Samson. By controlling the radiation, Leonard kept his human form and intelligence, unlike Bruce when he became the Hulk. As a side-effect his hair grows long and green. Continue reading

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DANITES: THE GUNSLINGING “KNIGHTS” OF THE OLD WEST

FRONTIERADO IS COMING UP ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 5th!

Berenger Avenging AngelThe Frontierado Holiday is about the myth of the Old West, not the grinding reality. The Danites – the gunslinging Knights of the Mormon faith – are an underutilized and underappreciated element of Old West fiction.

The opportunities for action presented to a Danite could start as early as the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri. After that there’s the Illinois Mormon War in the 1840s which ended in the Siege of Nauvoo.

Following that conflict the Mormon Exodus to the West began, with “Deseret” (later called Utah) as the ultimate destination. Danites – like Christian Knights of long ago protecting Pilgrims headed for their “Holy Land” – safeguarded Mormon travelers from attacks by hooded anti-Mormon gangs, from armed outlaws and from various Native American tribes along the way.  

Berenger Avenging Angel 2In Deseret itself there were conflicts with Mexican raiders after the end of America’s war with Mexico (1846-1848). Danites would also be called upon to battle various Native American tribes in Deseret, in the role of oppressors rather than oppressed much of the time.

They would also fight Navajo armies to stop them from seizing Paiute Indians as slaves. (The anti-slavery aspect of Mormonism is often overlooked.) Plus the Danites faced the task of driving off armed bands of prospectors wanting the gold and other precious metals of the area.

There was also the Utah War with the Mormons fighting the United States Army from May 1857-July 1858. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER 63: APRIL 1913

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 

1913 man63. Some of the Fool Killer’s targets in the April of 1913 edition of James Larkin Pearson’s Fool-Killer:

*** Historians who sensationalized war and newspaper publishers who sensationalized crime. 

*** The late tycoon J.P. Morgan, who had recently passed away. Pearson and his Fool-Killer tried being a bit respectful of the dead but ultimately hurled snark, observing “… the times and conditions that produced him will produce others like him, and the heel of the oppressor will continue to grind the necks of the poor.” 

              fool killer miniThose were the days when not even the elected officials owned by wealthy families like the Morgans accumulated anywhere near as much money as those who owned them. Think of today’s abusive and repulsive families like the Bidens, Cheneys, Pelosis, Bushes, Clintons, Romneys and so many others from both political parties who have COMBINED obscene wealth with political influence to be sold. They plunder the public treasury while making shady money on the side and breaking laws that the rest of us are expected to abide by.

sunglasses 1913*** Forever chaotic Mexico. The Revolution of 1910 led to the final downfall of decades-long dictator Porfirio Diaz in 1911. Diaz’s reform replacement, Francisco Madero, was overthrown and arrested by Victoriano Huerta, who had just had Madero killed in 1913. The Fool-Killer bitingly observed “They sure don’t waste any time in Mexico deliberating over what to do with their ex-presidents.” Continue reading

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