James Woods is like a force of nature. When he’s on the screen he virtually blows away most of the people with whom he shares that screen. His staggering versatility also marks him as one of the few true actors in the industry. Here are some of the movies which harnessed Hurricane Woods:
Role: Max Renn, cable television entrepreneur
Comment: Sorry to start with such an obvious choice but I’m amazed that there are still people out there who haven’t seen this movie. David Cronenberg’s patented body horror and other surreal visuals needed a thespian who wouldn’t fade into the woodwork among them. Woods as the intense, sleazy Max Renn fit the bill perfectly.
James proved you don’t need to be twitchy and leering to portray a character who is virtually amoral in his pursuit of money, kinky thrills, Deborah Harry … and the ultimate underground broadcast called Videodrome. Anticipating the Deep Web, there was this magnificent film about how – before the internet came along – it was cable television that was considered a doorway to the forbidden and the depraved.
A cable titillation peddler tries to locate and strike a broadcast deal with a seeming Snuff Show called Videodrome. The sinister parties behind the pirate broadcast are the ultimate villains for the time period, and Cronenberg’s treatment of them shows that SUBTLETY can be more effective than hammering your audience over the head. LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH! Continue reading
With President’s Day coming here’s a look at some of the people who proved pivotal to the administrations of the Presidents of the United States. Many of those Secretaries may not be household names here in the 21st Century but they would definitely stand out on any staff. Here is an examination of sixteen such figures in chronological order.
Figures like James G Blaine, William Seward, and Henry Kissinger are so well-known that they are not included on this list.
1. TIMOTHY PICKERING (1795-1800)
Served under: Presidents George Washington and John Adams
Noted for: Conspiring with Alexander Hamilton to undermine some of the policies of the Washington and Adams administrations. When Adams discovered this he ordered Pickering to resign, but Pickering refused, forcing Adams to fire him. Pickering remains the only Secretary of State to officially be fired by the President.
2. HENRY CLAY (1825-1829)
Served under: President John Quincy Adams
Noted for: Fighting a duel with Senator John Randolph, one of Clay’s critics who felt he had struck a “corrupt bargain” with Adams to get this prized cabinet position. Also for completing the first commerce treaties between the young United States and the various nations in Scandinavia and Latin America.
3. JOHN FORSYTH (1834-1841)
Served under: Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren
Noted for: Obtaining long-disputed reparations from France for U.S. commercial losses suffered during the Napoleonic Wars. Also for threatening to resign early in Van Buren’s administration before his relationship with the new president improved. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s previous lists of failed predictions from psychics, religious figures and even scientists have been big hits. Here’s another list looking at such failed predictions, made in 1975.
*** By 1980 doctors will be able to grow new hearts and livers for human beings and after 2 or 3 years insert them into the patient’s anatomy to replace the failing organs.
*** In “the near future” cloning might be used to develop a superspecies of human beings.
*** By 2018 hurricanes will be controllable and used as weapons in warfare. Continue reading
If I ever formed a rock band of my own I would, needless to say, base the name on something from Bad Movie Lore. Something like Renegade Belgian Cardinals – based on a line of dialogue from the Serial-Killer Priest flick The Confessional.
Putting that aside here’s a quick Balladeer’s Blog list of Oddly-Named Bands of the Past. It’s strictly for people who sometimes wake up at 3am and wonder if Gene was only pretending to love Jezebel.
THE TRASH CAN SINATRAS
When you hear the name Sinatra you immediately think of … Scotland? Well, no you don’t, but that’s where this band hailed from.
Used in a Sentence: “The Trash Can Sinatras is a hell of a mean-spirited way of referring to Nancy and Tina!”
For decades this band was known as THE influence in Belgian Industrial Rock, complete with all the massive cultural firepower that implies. (Oh, sure, Balladeer, pick on the Belgians!) Continue reading
Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are used to my posts about spectacularly failed predictions. Many of this blog post’s batch of predictions from 1975 came with no set date so they may possibly still come true.
Dates are provided when they were included.
*** In 1984 a succession of sudden surprise nuclear explosions will strike an American city. The Nuclear Uses Technology Reaction Analysis Team (NUTRAT, and how appropriate is THAT acronym?) will investigate and declare China to be the culprit.
*** In Phase Two of Bundy’s bizarre, yet apparently sincere prediction, the U.S. would have retaliated by nuking a large city in China.
*** Next Bundy predicted that China would assume that the Soviet Union was behind America’s blaming of them for the initial nuclear explosions and would in turn nuke a large Russian city. All of this reads like something from a satirical tale like Dr Strangelove but was meant seriously.
*** It would turn out that terrorists from two totalitarian countries hostile to the U.S. were really the forces behind the original attack.
*** The U.S. would pay reparations to China. Ten million people would have died in the three destroyed cities. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog has previously examined failed predictions on the part of “psychics,” religious figures and more. This time around here is a list of failed predictions from another belief system with its own form of apocalyptic eschatology.
*** By the year 2000 New York City will be completely submerged by rising sea levels. The sources of that prediction are legion.
*** By the year 2020 there will be no more snow on Mount Kilimanjaro because of climate change. That was from Al Gore’s Reefer Madness-style Dire Warning flick An Inconvenient Truth plus the Vancouver Sun and others.
*** In 2004 the Guardian predicted that nuclear and conventional wars would break out by 2020 because of scarce resources. They also predicted that multiple European cities would be under water by 2020.
*** In 2009, authorities from the U.S. Geological Survey predicted that by 2020 Montana’s Glacier National Park would have no more glaciers. Last year a scramble began to push that date further ahead since obviously 2020 was going to come and go without that prediction coming true. Continue reading
Filed under humor, opinion
With so many divisions of college football not playing any games this fall, Balladeer’s Blog’s readers have been asking for at least SOME kind of additional pigskin content. In that spirit here’s a look at some of the coolest football helmets from now-defunct college programs.
Enjoy this latest Top 20 List For 2020:
CANISIUS COLLEGE GOLDEN GRIFFINS
Division: NCAA Div 1
Dropped Football: 2002
Comment: “Oh, those Golden Griffins/ Oh, those Golden Griffins” … Remember the Golden Grahams commercial? Oh, forget it.
CAL STATE-NORTHRIDGE MATADORS
Division: NCAA Div 1
Dropped Football: 2001
Comment: The name Matadors is cool if you remind yourself that no bulls were killed during any of this team’s football games.
UNIVERSITY OF EVANSVILLE PURPLE ACES
Division: NCAA Div 1
Dropped Football: 1997
Comment: Purple helmets never fail to catch the eye and there’s a certain Riverboat Gambler feel to the name Purple Aces. Continue reading
Yes, it’s another Top 20 for 2020 list! And it’s another one about failed predictions, this time from alleged psychics of long, long ago instead of the recent past. As always these bogus predictions are fun from a Flash Fiction angle.
MALACHY O’MORGAIN (1094-1148)
*** The reign of the final Pope ever will come to a close in 2013. Since that is obviously wrong, these other predictions about O’Morgain’s Final Popes are wrong as well.
*** Before 2013 a Pope who was born in a Middle Eastern country will witness massive persecutions of Christians during his reign and will ultimately fall victim to the persecutors himself.
*** The final Pope to call himself Leo will oversee a period in which all of humanity unites under Christianity.
*** Petrus Romanus, Peter of Rome, will be the very last Pope. He will preside over the destruction of Rome and the end of the world in 2013.
URSULA SONTHIEL (1488-1561)
*** A Muslim leader with a ferocious army will conquer all of Europe before finally taking England itself.
*** A Holy War to retake England will break out with the United States and Russia fighting on the side of Christianity. Much of England will be laid waste.
COINNEACH ODHAR (1630-1685)
*** A submarine in Holy Loch will unleash a missile powerful enough to destroy all of Scotland. Continue reading
Filed under humor, Mythology
Balladeer’s Blog’s theme of Top Twenty lists for 2020 continues. With Memorial Day coming up in a few weeks let’s take a look at some servicemembers who died in assorted neglected Cold War hostilities.
APRIL 8th, 1950 – A U.S. Navy Privateer Electronic Intelligence aircraft was shot down by Soviet Union fighter planes over the Baltic Sea. All 10 crew members were either killed or captured by the Soviets with no further information ever becoming available.
NOVEMBER 6th, 1951 – A U.S. Navy Neptune patrol aircraft was fired upon by Soviet fighters off the coast of Siberia. The plane disappeared along with all 10 crew members.
JUNE 13th, 1952 – A U.S. Air Force Superfortress on a reconnaissance mission was reportedly attacked by Soviet fighters over the Sea of Japan and disappeared without a trace along with all 12 crew members.
OCTOBER 7th, 1952 – Another U.S. Air Force Superfortress encountered Soviet fighters off the coast of Japan and was presumed to have been shot down with 8 crewmen losing their lives.
NOVEMBER 29th, 1952 – A U.S. cargo plane was shot down over northeast China. Two crewmen died in the crash and were buried near the craft. The surviving pair – John Downey and Richard Fectau – were captured and imprisoned. Fectau was not returned to the U.S. until 1971 and Downey in 1973.
JANUARY 18th, 1953 – A U.S. Navy Neptune plane was shot down by Chinese anti-aircraft guns over the Formosa Strait off Swatow, China. It ditched, with 2 crew members presumed captured by the Chinese and 5 presumed dead. A U.S. Coast Guard “flying boat” crashed during the search for the downed crew, leaving 4 more men dead. Continue reading