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pony expressBalladeer’s Blog always marks the holiday called Frontierado, which is observed every year on the firstrichardson, fry, cliff brothers charlie and gus Friday in August. This year that will be August 5th. Frontierado is about the myth of the old west, not the grinding reality.

A topic I haven’t covered in the past is the legendary Pony Express, which operated from April 3rd, 1860 to October 26th, 1861. Prior to the spread of telegraph wires all the way across the continent, the Pony Express was the fastest way of getting messages – and mail – from Missouri to California and vice versa.

Their riders, officially titled Expressmen, faced perils from nature, bandits and hostile Native Americans depending on circumstances at any given moment. Everything boiled down to speed, so to save on weight on the horses Expressmen were only permitted to carry one pistol after a few riders were caught carrying two pistols and a rifle or more.

richardson and fryI will cover many of the other riders as we get closer to the actual date of Frontierado, but for today here is a brief look at the first Pony Express riders to depart from Saint Joseph, MO headed west and from Sacramento, CA headed east. There is still some dispute about which men officially count as the first riders, with two men put forth for both routes.

WEST FROM ST. JOSEPH – The first potential riders from St. Joseph, MO were, alphabetically, Johnny Fry and “Sailor Billy” Richardson. After ceremonial speeches by politicians and businessmen, a cannon shot inaugurated the first ride westward around 7:15PM on April 3rd, 1860. 

johnny fryJOHNNY FRY was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky in 1840 (exact date unknown) and in 1857 his family moved to Missouri. After the firing of the cannon, whoever the first rider was, Fry or Richardson, they galloped to the ferry Denver waiting at the landing on Jules Street. The Denver carried the rider across the Missouri River to Elwood, KS where that first ride resumed. Continue reading




ed mcmahon and afpHere at Balladeer’s Blog I enjoy writing about all aspects of mythology and folklore and the way that a popular misconception can be spread. Once again the false claim that Ed McMahon (above) was affiliated with Publishers Clearing House instead of American Family Publishers is making the rounds. Every few years this story resurfaces and is often cited as an example of the Mandela Effect.

If you need a refresher on the Mandela Effect, it refers to the way that information can become jumbled in the public consciousness, resulting in a mass sharing of false memories. This name for the phenomenon comes from a 2009 story about the large numbers of people who incorrectly believed that Nelson Mandela had died in prison in the 1980s.

In large measure that misconception has been attributed to the fact that in 1987 Denzel Washington starred in the movie Cry Freedom, a film based on the real-life Steve Biko. Washington portrayed Biko, a black anti-Apartheid activist in South Africa, just like Nelson Mandela had been. Biko, like Mandela, was imprisoned for his activities, but Biko – unlike Mandela – died in prison in 1977. Continue reading


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captain-gardinerCAPTAIN GARDINER OF THE INTERNATIONAL POLICE (1916) – Robert Allen Dodd wrote this story over one hundred years ago under the name Robert Allen. Narration informs us that the story is set 60 years after the conclusion of the then-raging World War. Since we know it ended in 1918 we can look forward to visiting the “far-off future” of 1978.

A multi-national entity called the International Federation is one of the major world powers along with the Chinese-Japanese Alliance and the Muslim Confederation. The International Police have been the Federation’s military and intelligence service but after decades of peace there is emerging pressure to disband the I.P. Amid the ongoing political and bureaucratic wrangling over that prospect our hero Captain Gardiner and his colleague Major Wilkie undertake a dangerous mission. Continue reading

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I’ve gotten e-mails asking that I review this movie but I already did in 2010. It’s been on my Bad Movie page here: https://glitternight.com/bad-movies/

If Footmen Tire youIF FOOTMEN TIRE YOU, WHAT WILL HORSES DO? (1971) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following.    

No, it’s not about Quentin Tarantino and pre-Castro Havana nightclubs (Thank you, I’m here all week!) it’s really a Cold War-era warning about what would happen if Communists took over the United States. It’s from Ron Ormond, best known for the bad movie classic Mesa Of Lost Women before he found religion and hooked up with the Reverend Estus W Pirkle for films like this one.

If Footmen Tire you 2Pirkle serves as the narrator of this quirky little mess, ranting on and on in his over-the-top way about how the USA has turned away from the Bible and will suffer the consequences. He’s like a combination of Criswell in Plan 9 From Outer Space and the sermonizing narrator from Blood Freak (qv).

In one of his enjoyably bizarre tangents before he gets to the Soviet conquest of America he also speaks out on the “evils” of dancing, which he calls ”The front door to adultery! What starts on the dance floor is expected to be finished later.” He even says dancing is “as immoral as it has always been”. Continue reading


Filed under Bad and weird movies


For Part One of these Iron Man 1970s classics click HERE.

im 72IRON MAN Vol 1 #71 (November 1974)

Title: Tooth and Yellow Claw

Villains: Black Lama and the Yellow Claw

Synopsis: This issue picks up right where the previous one left off. With Ultimo defeated, Iron Man flies toward the Mandarin’s former castle, now occupied by the Yellow Claw, who is exulting over having killed the Mandarin through trickery last time around. 

NOTE: Naturally the Mandarin is not really dead and in 1977 will return in time for Iron Man # 95-100.

robert downey jr iron manThe Yellow Claw seized the Mandarin’s castle and killed his rival supervillain as the opening battles in the War of the Supervillains which has been set in motion by Iron Man’s old foe the Black Lama. The latter villain is offering his Golden Globe of Power as the world-conquering prize to whichever Marvel supervillain wins this deadly war.   

Iron Man bursts through one of the castle walls, suprising the Yellow Claw. The Claw sics one of his biological constructs – a mutated “blob”-like creature – on our hero. After Tony defeats the cyborg creature, the Yellow Claw unleashes a swarm of his robots on Iron Man, robots which explode upon being defeated. Tony overcomes them, too, and survives a death-trap they maneuver him into. Continue reading

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Providence Christian College Sea Beggars



Location: Pasadena, CA Continue reading


Filed under Cool names and cool logos


Balladeer’s Blog examines yet another ancient Greek comedy which has survived only in fragmentary form.

Theater of Dionysus

The Ruins of the Theater of Dionysus in Athens.

COTTABUS PLAYERS (c 420s B.C.) – This comedy was written by Ameipsias, whose career as an Athenian comic poet ran from approximately the 420s B.C. to the 390s B.C. In the Dionysia Festival of 423 B.C. he won 2nd Place for his comedy Connus and in 414 B.C’s Dionysia he won 1st place for The Revelers. Ameipsias also won 1st place at a Lenaea Festival but the year and title of his entry are not known.

Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog will remember that Cottabus was a party game in ancient Athens and had two variations. The “lesser” variation involved the hard-drinking guests (and virtually ALL guests at ancient Athenian parties were hard-drinking) throwing the wine-lees at the bottoms of their cups at a plate balanced on a pole, with the winner being the one who knocked the plate off the pole.

masc chair and bottleThe “greater” variation, to the proud, sea-faring Athenians, who “ruled the waves” long before Britons came along, involved throwing their wine-lees at plates floating in a pool, with the winner being the one who sank each plate. This small-scale equivalent of naval warfare was, according to Athenaeus, the more prestigious version and was characteristic of a more “high-end” party.

The all-important Chorus of this comedy by Ameipsias was presumably a set of rowdy, drunken Cottabus players. Let’s take a look at what can be gleaned from the surviving fragments:

** The comedy’s characters were SO drunk (“How drunk were they?”) they were using their projectile vomiting instead of wine-lees to sink the floating plates.      Continue reading

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Edison's Conquest of Mars 2

From 1898 it’s Garrett P Serviss’ work of science fiction.

PART ONE – After the Martian invaders from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds and Serviss’ own Fighters From Mars died from exposure to Earth germs, astronomers around the world realized the ordeal wasn’t over yet. All indications were that the Martians were readying another fleet of spaceships to attack the Earth. CLICK HERE   

PART TWO – Thomas Alva Edison reverse-engineered the Martian space craft. The nations of the Earth then banded together to build an entire fleet of similar vessels and take the war to the Red Planet. President McKinley, Queen Victoria, Kaiser Wilhelm and other heads of state from around the world attend the global summit. CLICK HERE   

PART THREE – After a monumental effort the Earth has a space-fleet of its own, equipped with Edison’s Disintegrator Rays as weaponry. With Edison commanding the flagship and with military men and scientific geniuses from around the world as an officer corps the Earth Fleet departs the Earth. CLICK HERE    Continue reading


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Here at Balladeer’s Blog I review a lot of very obscure movies. This is a look at some of the films I have thus far not been able to find. Any help anyone could offer would be appreciated.

michel auder cleopatraMICHEL AUDER’S CLEOPATRA (1970) – It’s weirdness squared in this overlooked flick which Michel Auders directed utilizing assorted Andy Warhol menagerie figures in the cast. Auder himself played Caesar, with modern-day Rome as the seat of his empire. Viva portrayed Cleopatra with her domain of Egypt being set in the modern-day state of New York with snowmobiles as horses. Yes, it’s one of THOSE kinds of films.

The cast members improvised their way through the storyline, so I will say again “Yes, it’s one of THOSE kinds of films”. Among the cast were Nico, Ultra Violet, Ondine, Louis Waldon and Taylor Mead. Keep your eyes peeled for the one and only Christopher Walken.      Continue reading


Filed under Bad and weird movies


Balladeer's Blog

Balladeer’s Blog

Balladeer’s Blog’s examinations of pantheons of deities outside of the frequently-covered Greco-Roman, Egyptian and Norse have been very popular and well-received. To make sure all mythology buffs who visit here are aware of how many belief systems I’ve looked at here’s a convenient overview.


Sampling of Deities: Shiramba the vegetation god, Hashinau-Uk the goddess of the hunt, Okikurmi the culture god and monster-slayer, Wakka-Ush the water goddess and Kando-Koro the sky god and ruler of the land of the gods.

Top Deity on List: Fuchi the fire goddess. 

Comment: This is one of the most popular of the out of the way pantheons I’ve covered.

FULL LIST CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2014/11/20/the-top-gods-in-ainu-mythology/

Tupari live near the Rio BrancoTUPARI

Sampling of Deities: Mulher the Earth goddess, Arkoanyo the bird god, Karam the sun goddess, Valedjad the storm god and Aunyaina the wild boar god.

Top Deity on List: Patobkia, the god who rules over the afterlife and the series of trials each soul undergoes.

Comment: With only thousands of the Tupari people left this is a sadly neglected pantheon of deities.

FULL LIST CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2013/04/02/the-top-ten-deities-in-tupari-mythology/ Continue reading


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