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Balladeer’s Blog previously examined my picks for The Top Seven Robert Ludlum Novels. Here’s a look at the novel that would have been in 8th place if I had done his Top Eight. FOR THE TOP SEVEN CLICK HERE 

parsifal mosaic8. THE PARSIFAL MOSAIC (1982)

TIME PERIOD: Early 1980s

Chronologically, this novel was the last Ludlum work that I really enjoyed. I found the Bourne sequels silly and most of his other subsequent works to just be tiresome rehashings of the stories he had written from 1971 to 1982.

As it is, The Parsifal Mosaic itself reuses plenty of elements from other, better Ludlum books but has just enough new touches for it to be a worthwhile read.   

HERO: American Michael Havelock, a Czech-born Intelligence Officer. Havelock’s father was retaliated against by the Nazis in the Lidice reprisal killings, just like Stefan Varak’s character in The Chancellor Manuscript. Also like Varak, Michael Havelock was just a little boy when the Lidice slaughter occurred and he spent weeks on the run in the nearby forests scavenging food and killing Nazi soldiers when he could.

And like Varak, Havelock’s father was targeted because he did covert work for the Allies, so when little Michael was brought in from the cold he was placed with well-to-do British and American families to complete his schooling all the way up through college.

parsifal mosaic 2The now-adult Havelock saw the clear similarities between Nazi and Soviet totalitarianism and in order to oppose the Communists he gravitated to Intelligence work. Michael’s mentor and fellow Czech-American (more on him shortly) had brought him into the State Department, just like Robert Winthrop had brought Brandon Scofield into the State Department in The Matarese Circle

Also like Scofield, Havelock transferred to Ludlum’s fictional Consular Operations, the State Department’s covert arm. From The Matarese Circle we readers know that “Cons Op” as it’s called specializes in defections and in running escape routes from the Iron Curtain countries.

A very high-level defector with a secret agenda outside the typical Cold War machinations will loom large in the unfolding plot.

VILLAIN: An elusive figure or organization code-named PARSIFAL from Wagner’s opera about the Knight named Parsifal (Percival to the English). Parsifal’s conspiracy at first seems limited to fairly minor yet perplexing espionage activities but when all put together the title mosaic reveals a pattern that may trigger an all-out nuclear war pitting the United States, China and the Soviet Union against each other. Continue reading


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Yes, it’s that time again! The Master’s Review is running their Winter Short Story Contest and the deadline is January 31st. 

The Winter Short Story Award, a prize that recognizes the best fiction from today’s emerging writers, closes in less than a month. The winning story will be judged by Aimee Bender and awarded $3000 and publication online. All winning stories and any notable honorable mentions will receive agency review. Continue reading

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Mascot new lookJanuary 8th is the combined marking of Elvis Presley’s birthday and the Battle of New Orleans, in which General Andrew Jackson and French Pirate Jean Lafitte defeated the British in the final battle of the War of 1812.

In the past Balladeer’s Blog has observed this date with looks at the musical Rock ‘N’ Roll vs The Red Coats and with an article on the whole Orion/Elvis situation. This time I’m taking a quick look at some early Elvis movies.

love me tenderLOVE ME TENDER (1956) – Elvis was the latest reason that the saga of the Reno Gang/ Reno Brothers got distorted on the big screen. The need to turn the Reno story into a vehicle for Elvis Presley made this attempt the most unintentionally funny of them all.

Favorite Part: A scene between Elvis, playing Clint Reno, and Richard Egan, playing Vance Reno. Despite the fact that the long-missing Vance was given up for dead and Elvis married his mourning girlfriend in the meantime the Side-Burned One actually asks “What’s troublin’ you, Vance?”  That question has been a catch-phrase for me ever since I first saw this flick on late-night tv.

Favorite Weirdass Song: Let Me  Continue reading

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Per the Glitternight Index:

college of idaho coyoteNAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) Division Two – 1. COLLEGE OF IDAHO COYOTES     ###     2. OKLAHOMA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY EAGLES    ###     3. SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE MOUNDBUILDERS     ###     4. MORNINGSIDE COLLEGE MUSTANGS     ###     5. MOUNT VERNON NAZARENE UNIVERSITY COUGARS     ###     

Southeastern University Fire NEW6. SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY FIRE     ###      7. INDIANA TECH WARRIORS (Should be the Hoplites)      ###     8. INDIANA EAST UNIVERSITY RED WOLVES     ###     9. COLLEGE OF THE OZARKS BOBCATS     ###      10. WARNER UNIVERSITY ROYALS     ###      Continue reading

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gentleman jekyll and driver hydeGENTLEMAN JEKYLL AND DRIVER HYDE (1950) – Educational short films are often hilarious snapshots of their era. Driver’s Ed shorts are especially vulnerable to seeming outdated given how quickly car designs can change in certain decades.

This particular item is Canadian-made, proving that the Badfilm aesthetic is unfazed by international borders. (Yet Time Zones fill it with a vague sense of unease. Go figure.)

At any rate Gentleman Jekyll and Driver Hyde obviously takes its cue from Stevenson’s story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. A pair of Canadian furniture movers – one tall and heavy, the other short and slender – bicker like a comedy team while discussing statistics which indicated that in 1950 a Canadian had a better chance of getting killed in a car accident than in a war.

Which I find to be a silly statistic. If it’s peacetime you probably have a better chance of dying from a piano dropping on your head than from a war. Wouldn’t it have been more ominous to say a person had a better chance of dying in a car accident than from heart disease or whatever physical ailment that a 1950 stat would indicate?

After some horrifically strained jokes “Laurel and Hardy, Eh” get to the meat of the matter: The way perfectly polite people can turn into figurative monsters when they get behind the wheel of a car. A kind, considerate man who just interacted with our two leads literally turns into a B-Movie monster thanks to editing and cheap makeup as he drives off.      Continue reading

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Hourman 2For this superhero-crazed world it’s the very first superhero team in history: the Justice Society of America. FOR PART ONE CLICK  HERE 

I will review the original issue and then detail how I would “script-doctor” the story for modern audiences.

all star 13ALL STAR COMICS #13 (October 1942)




Synopsis: Der Fuhrer and the Japanese Emperor are discussing their outrage over the defeats their forces have suffered at the hands of the Justice Society of America. Grasping at straws the Axis leaders okay the plan of Gootsden, a German rocket scientist. (And since this was written in 1942 it’s interesting to note that there was at least pop culture speculation about a German rocket program that early.)

flashGraf Gootsden has Nazi agents gas/ suffocate (the comic book says both at different times) the Justice Society members in their headquarters, then immediately shoot them into space. The spacecraft used to exile the JSA from Earth range from conventional rockets to flying saucer-type vessels, another interesting touch.

The Justice Society members battle hostile aliens and/ or monsters on all the planets of our solar system then manage to make their way back to Earth in Gootsden’s ships. Next they round up his ring of agents in the U.S. 

How I Would Revise It:     Continue reading

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Balladeer’s Blog’s recurring item Give Them A Shoutout Before They’re Dead returns with this look at the Stray Cats song Look At That Cadillac


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