Tag Archives: conspiracy theories


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


Filed under Mythology



It’s Battle of New Orleans Day AND Elvis Presley’s birthday! In the past I’ve posted my review of Change of Habit, the Elvis movie with him as a doctor, Mary Tyler Moore as a nun and Ed Asner as a cop. I’ve also posted about the musical in which Elvis IS Andrew Jackson – Rock ‘N’ Roll vs the Redcoats. (With an Ann-Margret drag queen as pirate Jean Lafitte. )

This time around I’ll dredge up the often-neglected Orion business from decades ago. It was a fun bit of nonsense that only the most far-gone Elvis Conspiracy Theorists take seriously. As always I consider conspiracy theories, put-ons, hoaxes and ARG’s to be modern variations of myth and folklore.

Yes, Elvis died in 1977. That’s not the point. The point is the way the whole Orion/ Jimmy Ellis/ Elvis Conspiracy rabbit hole deserves to be studied forever because of the way fiction and reality seemingly influenced each other to the point where they became almost inseparable.

Orion 2


If you’re new to these events get ready for the Elvis Presley equivalent of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds radio broadcast. And let me make it clear I’m not accusing anyone of anything. I have no idea what anyone’s motives were regarding any aspect of the following.

I’ll present the tale in the style of the fictional Carl Kolchak – as “items” in a list:

ITEM: Elvis Presley died in August of 1977, yet in the years that followed an ever-increasing body of folklore and myth would develop regarding the late rock star supposedly faking his own death. His motives varied according to the theory.

ITEM: For a time Elvis sightings seemed to outnumber sightings of Bigfoot, UFOs and the Loch Ness Monster combined.

ITEM: The novel Orion was published. Conspiracy lovers often cite either 1977, 1978 or 1979 as the year of publication, so you can see how deep some of the rabbit holes run.

ITEM: Orion featured a very Elvis-like young man from the American south who becomes a sensation as a rock singer. In the end the character Orion is so weary of the stresses of stardom that he fakes his own death to get away from it all.

Orion RebornITEM: Claims are made that enigmatic power players managed to get the novel removed from bookstores. The claims are sometimes accompanied by insinuations that this was done because the book might have struck too close to reality with its “fake death” ending.   

ITEM: A masked singer – who looks like a standard Elvis  impersonator except for the mask – appears and calls himself Orion. He begins releasing albums and performing in public. This Orion’s first album, tantalizingly titled Reborn, is released in 1978. Continue reading


Filed under Mythology, Neglected History, opinion


Toynbee TileHere at Balladeer’s Blog I enjoy treating conspiracy theories as a form of modern-day mythology. Just like mythology and religious beliefs conspiracy theories are irrational explanations for occurrences or situations that have much more rational explanations. Here’s one of my all-time favorite neglected conspiracy kook bits.

THE DEAD CAN BE RESURRECTED ON PLANET JUPITER – The enigmatic Toynbee Tiles are the major source for the enjoyable canon behind this notion. At some point in the 1980s odd tiles laid into the asphalt of actual streets and roadways were being found, bearing some variation on the following message: “TOYNBEE IDEA/ IN MOVIE 2001/ RESURRECT DEAD/ ON PLANET JUPITER.” Continue reading


Filed under Mythology, Uncategorized


mascot chair and bottle picHere at Balladeer’s Blog I enjoy treating conspiracy theories as a form of modern-day mythology. Just like mythology and religions conspiracy theories are irrational explanations for occurrences or situations that have much more rational explanations. And since I REALLY love obscure items that have dropped off the radar to a certain degree here’s a look at a few conspiracy kook ideas that were so crazy it’s almost a shame to see them not being discussed as much anymore.  

Adam WeishauptADAM WEISHAUPT: THE MAN ON THE ONE DOLLAR BILL – Even though Illuminati conspiracies have gone through the roof in recent decades this particular little nugget has gotten neglected. When the first meeting of Weishaupt’s Illuminati was held on May 1st, 1776 the nutcase theory goes that the conspirators had already laid out their plans to have two future superpowers, the United States, declare its independence that year AND for May 1st (the future May Day) to be the big annual holiday for the other one, the eventual Soviet Union. Continue reading


Filed under Milestones In Stupidity


"Why, yes I DID just drive here in a convertible with the top down. How did you guess?"

“Why, yes I DID just drive here in a convertible with the top down. How did you guess?”


Filed under humor


 It’s no secret that American Liberals and Conservatives are all equally fanatical. That fanaticism has helped fuel conspiracy kooks from both sides. Just as there are Conservative nuts who think Obama is a Muslim sleeper agent there are Liberal nuts who spout equally insane conspiracy theories about George W Bush. And, in fact, about his whole family. Since I’ll be examining conspiracy theory as mythology in the near future the hilariously paranoid myths about the Bush family seemed a good place to start! But first some context for the title of this piece. 

There’s an entire sub-genre of cheap exploitation films that use the word “madness” in their title. Reefer Madness and Sex Madness are two of the most famous and dealt with alleged hysteria over marijuana and promiscuity, respectively. These films are watched today mostly for their camp value as the audience chuckles at what they view as the paranoia of the filmmakers. So I figured Bush Madness was the perfect title to Continue reading