Tag Archives: Myths and Folktales

FOOL KILLER FORTY-SEVEN: JUNE 1911

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer timelessPART FORTY-SEVEN – Among the Fool Killer’s targets in the June of 1911 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s publication:

*** “The Four Hundred,” the contemporary term used for the moneyed and privileged of New York City. (Coined by Ward McAllister) Pearson and his version of the Fool Killer detested them and viewed them the same way we of today view the corrupt Democrat and Republican career politicians plus the corporate and Silicon Valley robber barons.  

*** Dancing schools. As I often point out, Pearson’s Fool Killer had qualities that would annoy BOTH the political left AND the political right of today. Many right-wingers would disapprove of their hostility toward the robber barons, while many left-wingers would disapprove of the strange religious zeal which lay behind Pearson’s hostility toward dancing and dancing schools, which he found “sinful.”

*** Husbands who did nothing but drink booze, play cards, smoke, swear and chew tobacco. Drowning was his preferred method of killing such men.

*** High Society women of New York, for their latest folly. It had become (very briefly) fashionable to walk the streets with a small calf (yes, a small calf) on a leash instead of the fru-fru poodles they had been walking with til the present. Today on Social Media we see that there are still imbeciles who will do ANYTHING just because they’re told other people are doing it.

*** Frederick Forest Berry, for authoring The Torch of Reason, because of the way Berry used reason to criticize religion and belief in God.

*** Danville, VA Police Chief R.E. Morris, who, after serving for 6 years, turned out to really be an escaped fugitive named Edgar Stribling (Pearson accidentally spelled it “Stripling”), a convicted murderer who had been on the run for 13 years. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY-SIX: MAY 1911

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer picPART FORTY-SIX – Items of note in the May of 1911 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s version of The Fool-Killer:

*** Pearson’s Fool Killer figure targeted money-obsessed clergymen and pretended they wanted a new version of the Ten Commandments emphasizing profits.

*** The Fool Killer targeted the way so many corrupt millionaires were suddenly overcome with “medical ailments” when they were being investigated or after getting sentenced to prison time. 

*** In another of the surreal satirical bits which Pearson was writing more frequently, this month he had the Fool Killer encounter a medical abomination called the Composite Man. The Fool Killer visited the Rockefeller Institute in New York (called the Rocky D Oilyfeller Institute in Pearson’s odd stylistic blend of Frank Baum and Walt Kelly with Bullwinkle & Rocky).

              The reason for the visit? Our title character wanted to check in on the latest work on medical transplants. The doctors at the institute surgically removed the lone healthy body part on a variety of their most far-gone patients and sewed them all into a lone figure called the Composite Man and the Pieced-Up Man interchangeably.

              The Composite Man had the head of a preacher, the chest of a drummer, the heart of a lawyer, the stomach and bowels of a farmer, the left arm of a blacksmith, the right arm of an editor, one leg of a dude and the other leg came from a tramp. The competing portions of the Composite Man’s anatomy not only prevented him from accomplishing any one undertaking but resulted in him breaking into his component parts and dying within one day of his release. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY-FIVE: MARCH 1911

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE 

Fool Killer HorsleyPART FORTY-FIVE – Of interest to me in the March of 1911 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s version of the Fool Killer:

*** A derogatory reference to a fool as “whiffledick.” Obviously that would not carry the exact same meaning back in 1911 as it does today, but it caught my eye. The target of the insult and the exact context cannot be determined from the copy of the issue I had access to because of too much fading.

*** The Fool Killer targeted an Illinois farmer named Reedy (no first name given) for authoring a study he performed which – Reedy claimed – proved that cows need music to improve milk production. Reedy had Oscar H. Bollman (We needed HIS last name?) install a Mason & Hamlin piano in the barn where Reedy had a professional piano player perform for the cows during milking time. Reedy claimed his 19 cows were producing more milk than any 30 cows. Celebrity singers were already lining up to sing to Reedy’s cows. I’m not kidding.

*** Bloated rich pigs who bought miles of land that they wouldn’t need. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY-FOUR: FEBRUARY 1911

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer timelessPART FORTY-FOUR: Among the Fool Killer’s targets in the February of 1911 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s publication:

*** Religious leaders who were more into money than anything else. As Pearson and his version of the Fool Killer pointed out: “When the dollar rules the pulpit, the Devil rules the pew.”

*** The frivolous fashionistas who decreed that men’s coats and vests must now be “corset-cut” and their pants be more form-fitting. (Remember, they also targeted the way fashion trends arbitrarily changed women’s clothing, too.)

*** Sir Oliver Lodge, a famous spiritualist of the time who warned that the walls between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead were “wearing thin in places.” Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY-THREE: JANUARY 1911

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer garbPART FORTY-THREE: The targets of James Larkin Pearson’s version of the Fool Killer in the January of 1911 issue:

*** The Government Printing Office, for its extravagant waste, which is STILL infamous.

*** Jackleg lawyers who gave the rest of the profession a bad name. Pearson depicted them as lecherous villains trying to ravish the blind female embodiment of Justice.

*** Horace Fletcher once again. Fletcher’s “health plan” which consisted of thoroughly chewing one’s food was still a popular fad.

*** People who were throwing themselves into the craze to own and pilot airplanes as they were coming into wider use. Many of these unskilled wannabes wound up just getting themselves killed in spectacular accidents. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY TWO: DECEMBER 1910

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer timelessPART FORTY-TWO – The targets of James Larkin Pearson and his Fool Killer in the December 1910 issue:

*** Women who chewed snuff, whom they called “Snuffragettes.” As more proof that it’s tough to categorize Pearson, he always praised and defended actual Suffragettes. Yet he condemned women who wore pants and chewed snuff.   

*** Fire and brimstone preachers, whose brand of religion they called “cheap.”

*** Horace Fletcher, “The Great Masticator,” who was famous for insisting people should chew their food until it was liquefied before swallowing it. He claimed that even MILK should be “chewed” around in the mouth to ensure it was properly mixed with saliva before swallowing it. Fletcher insisted this would maximize the nutritional benefits.

*** Spiritualists who claimed that former president Theodore Roosevelt was being controlled from beyond the grave by Abraham Lincoln, Julius Caesar and Napoleon.

*** Youngsters who smoked cigarettes. 

*** Silk-hatted tycoons who looked down their noses at farmers. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY-ONE: NOVEMBER 1910

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer timelessPART FORTY-ONE – Lore: This month a Rodman Gun was added to the Fool Killer’s growing arsenal of weapons.

Targets in the November of 1910 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s Fool-Killer:

*** People engaged in the literal buying and selling of votes in the midterm elections.

*** German scientists at Nuremberg (which in 1910 had none of the associations we make with it today) who announced successful tests with a remote-controlled ship. A small, crewless boat had been controlled wirelessly from up to 18 miles away. Even firing and reloading weaponry had been set up mechanically. The tests were set to move on to larger ships next.

*** The “Ass-ociated Press” as Pearson and his Fool Killer always called it, for the way it was overhyping the birth of a calf to Official White House Cow Pauline Wayne.  Continue reading

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SEASONAL MYTHS WHICH HAVE THE SAME THEME

Persephone and pomegranateThis is a good time to examine some of the ancient myths about winter and the coming of spring.

The celebration of those myths plus the fact that many of those myths centered around dead and resurrected deities necessitated Christianity’s attempt to superimpose its OWN dead and resurrected deity over top of those older stories. Hence the celebration of Easter in springtime. (And it’s not just Christianity that behaved that way – other religions also would superimpose their own celebrations over top of those held in honor of the previously dominant gods in their region. I’ll cover the behavior of those other belief systems – especially Islam and the Incan faith – another time.)

Not all seasonal myths conformed to the following pattern. I’m limiting this list to the ones that did.

PERSEPHONE

Pantheon: Greek (The Romans called her Proserpine)

The Tale: Persephone was the beautiful daughter of the goddess Demeter (Ceres to the Romans). Persephone caught the eye of Hades, the god who ruled over the realm of the dead. Overcome with lust Hades (Pluto to the Romans) emerged from his subterranean domain and stole Persephone away to his realm to become his Queen.

The Savior: Demeter went searching for her daughter throughout the world, often assuming the form of a mortal woman. Her search wore on and on with no results, causing Demeter to fall more and more deeply into despair. Because she was the goddess of nature that despair manifested itself in colder weather, in the leaves falling off the trees, other vegetation dying and some animals hibernating or migrating to flee the cold.  Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY: OCTOBER 1910

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer 1910-1929PART FORTY: The October of 1910 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s Fool-Killer. LORE CHANGE – For the first time the Fool Killer is depicted using a Bomb of Truth against his targets, making these explosives the latest addition to his arsenal of weapons. Even today we often use the figurative expression “Truth Bombs.”

Best imagery invoked by Pearson and his Fool Killer this month: Congress as a collection of corrupt fools safely fighting the citizenry from behind high walls made of piles of taxpayer money. Some things never change. 

Targets for this issue:

*** People who were hurriedly exploiting the still-new invention the airplane for wartime uses.

*** Those members of the wig industry who were harvesting most of the hair for their wigs from the heads of corpses.

Fool Killer pic*** John J Astor and his wife, who were going through an ugly and costly public divorce.

*** “Doctor” George W Carey, who was pushing the theory that the Sun was “the father” of all the planets in our solar system except for the Earth, which was “the mother” of those planets. Carey further stated that the South Pole was the womb of the Earth and that sunlight hitting the region eventually impregnated the Earth, which gave birth via Antarctica.

              George also explained that the Moon was the Sun and Earth’s youngest child and that if the true South Pole was ever reached an umbilical cord running all the way up to the Moon would be discovered.

              If that’s not enough “science” for you, Carey stated that the umbilical cord would detach from Antarctica around the year 1945, following which the Earth would get pregnant again by the Sun and give birth to another celestial body as a child. Any questions? Continue reading

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MERINA MYTHS: TOMPONDRANO

Tompondrano

The French who first came into contact with the people of Madagascar mistook Tompondrano for Leviathan from Christian mythology.

TOMPONDRANO – “Lord of the waters.” The supreme snake deity in Merina mythology. Not only were all other serpents subordinate to Tompondrano but he often acted as an ambassador between snakes and human beings, negotiating the end to conflicts between the two groups. 

A major myth about this deity includes its role in advising the Vazimba how to use sacrifices to appease gods and demons. The Vazimba were little people who were previously the dominant race of Madagascar. They are similar to the Menehune in Hawaiian myths and to “little people” who figure into mythology and folklore from around the world.  

One day a Vazimba boy was playing with a seven-headed serpent monster. That serpent decided to keep him and make him live with him under the water. The Vazimba prayed to Tompondrano to save him. Tompondrano advised the Vazimba boy to be patient, then sent the Kingfisher bird to the Vazimba’s parents with word that sacrificing a chicken and a sheep to the seven- headed serpent would appease it and get it to release their son. Continue reading

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