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SUPER PRESIDENT’S FIRST CARTOON

Mascot new lookUsually on President’s Day Weekend Balladeer’s Blog reruns my review of the hilariously bad and weird 1960s superhero cartoon Super President.

For a change of pace I won’t repost that old review but will instead provide a look at the very first episode depicting President Norcross’ heroic antics as Super President. 

IF YOU DO WANT TO READ MY REVIEW OF THE SHOW CLICK HERE

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U.S. PRESIDENTS FROM EISENHOWER TO TRUMP

It’s Presidents Day Weekend! Here are some takes on the more recent presidents.  

EisenhowerDWIGHT EISENHOWER

Character Type: Well-meaning but befuddled sitcom grandfather.

Military Service: World War One and World War Two

Motto: “FOOORE!” (Remember,  the traditional cry as you’re teeing off in golf? Oh, never mind!)

Nickname: Uncle Milty

Pro: Knew enough to distrust Richard Nixon long before it became the national pasttime. 

Con: Was the first president to pronounce nuclear as “nucular”.

john f kennedyJOHN F KENNEDY

Character Type: Rich playboy who disdained both Liberals and Conservatives and played by his own rules.

Military Service: World War Two

Motto: “Thank God for television!”

Nickname: FDR  

Pro: The man was shrewd enough to distrust both liberals and conservatives equally. I can’t praise that attitude highly enough given our present circumstances. 

Con: Continue reading

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Filed under humor, LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES, Neglected History, Presidential Rap Sheets

ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND HARRY FLASHMAN

abraham-lincoln-pictureBalladeer’s Blog’s recent look at my Top Five Harry Flashman Novels was a hit. Combine that with the upcoming Presidents Day Holiday on Monday and let’s take a look at one of the other Flashman novels for future president Abe Lincoln’s interactions with George MacDonald Fraser’s infamous antihero Harry Flashman.

In 1971’s Flash for Freedom, set in the second half of 1848 and early 1849, one of the historical figures that Harry encounters is the young Abraham Lincoln when Abe was just a Congressman. Flashman himself – like Lincoln – has not yet achieved the fame that will be his in later life.

Alan Bates -better Flashman than MalcolmThe pair first meet in the fall of 1848 in Washington, DC, when Harry – a Cavalry Captain in Queen Victoria’s army – is trying, Bret Maverick-style, to pass himself off as a Royal Navy Lieutenant named Beauchamp Comber. (Don’t ask.) Abe senses something off about the scurvy Brit and uses seeming politeness mixed with alarming insinuations to set Flashman on edge, terrified that he’ll be exposed.

The author George MacDonald Fraser handles this section very cleverly as Lincoln comes across like a homespun Sherlock Holmes, chewing up Harry’s lies and spitting them out on the b.s. pile. Harry/ Beauchamp counters with an observation that Abe isn’t entirely on the level, either, masking his obviously calculating nature behind a facade of folksiness.

The two part on reasonably friendly terms, but Lincoln smilingly makes it clear that he knows Flashman/  Comber is conning everyone about being a naval officer. However, Abe also makes it clear that whatever the rascal is up to it doesn’t seem to pose any harm to him, so he shrugs it off and goes on his merry way. 

The second meeting between the future President and the future Sir Harry comes in the very early months of 1849 in the novel’s thrilling finale. A convoluted set of circumstances have led to Lincoln being at just the right place at just the right time to face down a pack of Fugitive Slave Hunters in order to save Harry and a female slave that Flashman is smuggling to freedom in Canada. 

The next day a bedridden Harry is recovering from wounds received during this adventure. He’s staying at the home of an acquaintance of Lincoln, and Abe has been visiting the ailing Englishman, sitting in a bedside chair. They’ve had a lengthy conversation during which Lincoln has made it clear that he now knows who Harry really is and Flashman asks why Abe continues to cover for him.

By way of an answer Lincoln muses aloud about the various newsworthy escapades that “Beauchamp Comber” has been having as a reluctant agent of the Underground Railroad. He also recaps the number of former slaves that Flashman has incidentally helped recently during his usual selfish pursuits. We join the narrative as Abe sums up:

“I don’t pretend to know why you’ve done these things and I don’t think I want to know. It’s enough for me to know that you HAVE done them, and that none of those unfortunates will ever wear chains again.”   

I started to make with the kind of simperingly compassionate noises that I thought would appeal to a man like Lincoln but he stopped me short with a raised hand and a wry smile before saying “Save it for the Recording Angel, Captain Flashman. I have a feeling you’ll need it on that day.” Continue reading

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THE DOOM OF LONDON (1892): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Doom of LondonTHE DOOM OF LONDON (1892) – Written by Robert Barr. In the “far future” of the mid-Twentieth Century the narrator of this tale looks back at the catastrophe that hit London in the 1890s.

The premise is that our narrator is outraged by a piece written by a Professor Mowberry in which the professor ventures the opinion that the destruction of London was an overall beneficial event. His reasoning is that it got rid of millions of unnecessary people. Pretty callous attitude, unless you’re talking about getting rid of the Kardashians.

At any rate we readers are informed that in the mid-Twentieth Century fog has been completely done away with (?), preventing what happened to London in the 1890s from ever happening again. It turns out that what started out seeming to be nothing but the usual London fog was actually deadly gases unleashed from deep in the Earth by careless mining. Continue reading

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VALENTINE’S DAY SHOUTOUT TO FORMER PRESIDENT MCKINLEY AND HIS WIFE IDA

MckinleysSince today is Valentine’s Day AND we have Presidents Day coming up here’s a brief shoutout to the often neglected love story about President William McKinley and his wife Ida Saxton McKinley. The McKinley years were far enough away that there is a certain sincerity to their relationship that could never be trusted in these days of endless media overload. 

Years before they were President and First Lady the McKinleys lost both their daughters in tragic circumstances. Ida was never the same and became epileptic plus showed signs of other disorders. As president, William happily restructured the usual social agenda for First Ladies to accommodate Ida’s special circumstances.

Ida was permitted to sit rather than stand for the endless receiving lines that STILL take up too much time in the world of politics. McKinley’s administration had Vice President Hobart’s wife tend to many of the strenuous hostessing activities that First Ladies usually have to endure.

Perhaps most touchingly, President McKinley had Ida sit right next to him at formal meals rather than at the opposite end of the table, as was the usual custom. He did this so that when Ida had one of her epileptic seizures at the table he could place a napkin over her face to prevent guests from noticing. Although personally, I’ve always been convinced that the guests were just pretending not to notice. But that’s just me. 

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Filed under Neglected History

BILLY JOEL: STILETTO

Another installment of Give Them A Shoutout Before They’re Dead with Billy Joel as the subject. Here’s his 1978 anthem to wicked women – Stiletto.

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WAVELENGTH (1983)

WavelengthWAVELENGTH (1983) – This is an unjustly neglected science fiction film that stars Robert Carradine, Cherie Currie and Keenan Wynn in a very unconventional love triangle: both Carradine and Currie are fighting over Wynn. (I’m kidding!)

Robert Carradine plays a moody musician suffering a career lull, Cherie Currie portrays a groupie who becomes a bona fide romantic partner for him and Keenan Wynn barks and snarls in his usual “grouch with a heart of gold” manner. Cherie’s sensitive mind is open to alien brain-waves calling to her from a nearby (seemingly) abandoned government installation. Carradine and his neighbor Wynn help her try to find out what’s going on. Continue reading

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Filed under Bad and weird movies