Balladeer’s Blog as usual will be marking the USA’s upcoming birthday with a series of holiday-themed posts. Since we get overexposed to the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775 and the actual signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 I will instead stay true to my blog’s theme and focus on the action in between April 19th, 1775 and early July 1776.
May 10th, 1775 – The British Fort Ticonderoga in New York is seized in what would today be called a Special Forces raid by Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys, who beat other American forces to the valuable military prize. Allen and his men had the advantage of being an organized body under arms for quite a long time because they were originally formed to fight for the independence of what is now the state of Vermont (“Green Mountain”).
They had been an active guerilla force fighting for Vermont’s right to be an independent entity rather than part of the Hampshire Grants being fought over by New York and New Hampshire. Their secret headquarters was the Catamount Tavern which is why the University of Vermont’s sports teams are called the Catamounts.
May 12th, 1775 – Crown Point, NY is taken by American forces in another Continue reading
With the Memorial Day holiday weekend coming up what could be more appropriate than to examine a few of the forgotten conflicts from America’s past? The soldiers who fell in those wars are no less dead just because they served in actions that are neglected in the history books and/or were never formally declared by Congress. (details, details)
And in keeping with my blog’s overall theme I won’t be bringing any of that weak Korean War, World War One or War of 1812 crap. When Balladeer says forgotten I mean forgotten with a capital (or at least italicized) “F”. As forgotten as The Montefuscos and Hizzoner. As forgotten as a Polish memoir or a promise from a presidential candidate.
4. THE FORGOTTEN YEAR OF THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR (1781 – 1782) – My fellow Revolutionary War geeks and I are forever rolling our eyes at documentaries that act like Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown marked the end of that conflict. True, it was the last MAJOR battle of the war, but there were 13 more months of open bloodshed and another year after that before the peace treaty was signed.
October 1781 to November 1782 saw General “Mad” Anthony Wayne’s campaign to fully recover Georgia from British Loyalists and Continue reading
THIS WEEK THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON KICKS OFF IN THE DIVISIONS COVERED BY BALLADEER’S BLOG!
Teams like the Hutchinson Blue Dragons (helmet at left), the Jamestown College Jimmies, the William Penn University Statesmen and the Eastern Arizona College Gila Monsters will all begin their season on various days throughout the coming week!
Not only that but the CC Fighting Saints, ranked Number 1 in Balladeer’s Blog’s NAIA College Football Rankings, will kickoff this Friday the 24th at the 23rd- ranked MSU-Northern Lights. The Pima Aztecs travel to face the Phoenix College Bears on Thursday night and the Continue reading
SARUTAHIKO – The god who guards the floating bridge between the Earth and the heavenly realm of the gods, Takamagahara (“High Plain of Heaven”). He is depicted as a giant wielding the jeweled spear that once belonged to his father Izanagi and which Izanagi used to stir the primordial broth on Earth as he and his wife Izanami were preparing to begin creation.
Sarutahiko is considered the god of pathways and crossroads, both real and symbolic. He took his sentry duties so seriously that he once even tried to bar the way of the god Ninigi and his retinue when he was Continue reading
Computer image reconstruction of what Buckshot Bryant’s mysterious visitors may have looked like … if filmed by a urinal cake
At last the day is here! All through the year we waited and now the celebrating begins in earnest! Frontierado, the greatest holiday this side of Life Day for Wookies, has galloped into town and bellied up to the bar for a drink and a hot meal.
Special greetings from me, the Blackwater Kid, to Amarillo Rose, Dusty Murtaugh, Doc Albany and her husband Casino Bill Kost, Cyclone Rachel, Buckshot Bryant, Lady London, Cactus Cathy, Kid Equus and Doc Robyn, plus the M.I.A Six-Gun Sara!
There are even more people celebrating Frontierado with us this year than last year, but various obligations have prevented me from writing official Sagas for all of them.
This holiday is being observed in the USA, New Zealand, the UK and Australia just like last year, but this year we add Canada, Germany and Japan to the list of nations that have Continue reading
FRONTIERADO IS THIS FRIDAY, AUGUST THIRD!
With the Frontierado holiday almost upon us what better time to examine 3 more figures who helped make the American west wild?
3. LOTTIE DENO – Equally comfortable dealing faro, playing poker or shooting a pistol Charlotte “Lottie” Deno was one of the most famous female gamblers of the old west, along with Poker Alice. Lottie didn’t engage in nearly as many gunfights as Poker Alice did, but she didn’t have to, since she was very skilled at maneuvering lovesick men into doing some of her killing for her. Even her no-good husband Johnny Golden was bumped off by two of Lottie’s male conquests.
Lottie, who said she learned card-playing from her father, was a former southern belle who came west after the Confederacy fell. She spent three years in San Antonio dealing faro and playing poker in, among other places, the iconic vaudeville saloon of Jack Harris, where Texas Ben Thompson and King Fisher were killed the same night in 1884. Fellow gambler Frank Thurmond began a romance with Lottie but when he Continue reading
Frontierado is this Friday, August 3rd! Just 2 shopping days left!
ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is, to me, the definitive Spaghetti Western. This movie incorporates all of the best elements of Italo-westerns and has the additional advantages of actual artistic merit and some location filming in the real American West. One of the most distracting elements of many Spaghetti oaters is the fact that the films were mostly shot in Spain’s Jarama Valley, which is great for a Spanish Civil War buff like myself, but that valley doesn’t really resemble the American west that the stories are set in.
Sergio Leone got to shoot some scenes for this flick in Monument Valley and such authentic scenery definitely helps in a film that exploits visuals to a degree unseen since the age of silent movies. This is undeniably an action film, but Leone and his co-writers on the script ( Bernardo Bertollucci and Dario Argento. I’m serious!) intentionally used the framework of an archetypal western plot about the railroad, land-grabbing and westward expansion, yet made it all seem fresh.
I often jokingly call this movie Evil Is A Man Named Frank, because, in a masterpiece of reverse-casting Leone put Henry Fonda himself in the role of the conscienceless, sadistic and predatory Frank, the lead villain. Watching the black-clad Frank calmly blow away a defenseless child early in the film lets the Continue reading
SILVERADO (1985) – I’ve never made any secret about how Silverado is, to me, the official movie of this holiday. The film has all the high spirits and family appeal of Star Wars plus the well-choreographed action scenes of Raiders of the Lost Ark. On top of that Silverado features all the highly stylized gunplay of the best Spaghetti Westerns but NOT the mud, blood, sweat and brutality of that genre. This movie is pure escapism and features the kind of preternaturally accurate gunslingers that I jokingly describe as “Jedi Knights in the Olllld West”.
These guys (as well as most of the villains) can literally shoot the needles off a cactus, simultaneously draw and shoot with pin-point accuracy and can just “sense” when some low-down hombre might be pulling a gun on them, even with their back turned and from half a room away.
Scott Glenn and Kevin Costner portray brothers Emmet and Jake, Danny Glover portrays their African-American friend Mal, and Kevin Kline has the most layered role as the gambler/gunfighter called Paden. In the Continue reading
The Frontierado holiday is coming up fast – on Friday, August 3rd, in fact, so the frequency of my Frontierado posts is going to increase. Today we’ll revisit the rules of Frontierado Poker for newbies to the holiday.
Here are the rules for Frontierado Poker, the game that is strictly my own invention to go along with my holiday Frontierado.
1. Remove all face cards from the deck. The game is played with a 40-card deck.
2. Every player Continue reading
We all know that in real life the celebrated “heroes” of the old west were a pack of corrupt and/or outrightly criminal thugs who would have had a pretty redneckish worldview. And let’s face it, by our standards their personal hygiene habits would have been pretty disgusting. But since the Frontierado holiday is all about celebrating the myth of the West and not the grinding reality of it here’s my list of the Top Four Westerns Based On Real-Life Figures. Coming up with lists like this is one of the perks of being the international commissioner of Frontierado (along with the seven-figure income and a staff of three hundred people).
1. BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969) – Redford and Newman set the standard for the “buddy western” with this magnificent movie. Newman once described this flick by saying “It’s a Continue reading