Have a Happy Old Christmas Day, readers! 😀
Have a Happy Old Christmas Day, readers! 😀
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Immensity, cloister’d in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-beloved imprisonment.
There he hath made himself to his intent
Weak enough, now into our world to come.
But O! for thee, for Him, hath th’ inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from th’ orient,
Stars, and wise men will travel to prevent
The effects of Herod’s jealous general doom.
See’st thou, my soul, with thy faith’s eye, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.
“May the Father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way, everlastingly happy.” – George Washington, Letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, 1790
‘Tis an old message, readers, but it still rings true. Have a Happy Christmas Eve and a Merry Christmas!
“God rest ye, merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay….”
The Mithril Guardian
Song to Our Mother
At the foot of the hill
Where the roses bloomed
I contemplate the Virgin
Who captured my heart.
Mother mine of Guadalupe
Mother mine, all love,
We beg thee to give us
Thy benediction and peace.
No other nation on earth
Has been so blessed by God
For that the Indians of Mexico
Carry thee in their hearts.
The name that brings us joy,
May it be ever on our lips
With great devotion.
Mayest thou be praised in heaven
Sweet Virgin Mother of God
And on earth beloved
From end to end of our land.
On Tepeyac she appeared
Like a divine Star
She is there to be our light
To protect and guide us.
Glory to the Immortal Princess
Who freed us from great evil
And to make us happy
She crushed the serpent.
The name that brings us solace
It’s the name of my mother,
Of my mother and of God’s.
A sword of silver cuts the fields asunder—
A silver sword to-night, a lake in June—
And plains of snow reflect, the maples under,
The silver arrows of a wintry moon.
The trees are white with moonlight and with ice-pearls;
The trees are white, like ghosts we see in dreams;
The air is still: there are no moaning wind-whirls;
And one sees silence in the quivering beams.
December night, December night, how warming
Is all thy coldness to the Christian soul:
Thy very peace at each true heart is storming
In potent waves of love that surging roll.
December night, December night, how glowing
Thy frozen rains upon our warm hearts lie:
Our God upon this vigil is bestowing
A thousand graces from the silver sky.
O moon, O symbol of our Lady’s whiteness;
O snow, O symbol of our Lady’s heart;
O night, chaste night, bejewelled with argent brightness,
How sweet, how bright, how loving, kind thou art.
O miracle: to-morrow and to-morrow,
In tender reverence shall no praise abate;
For from all seasons shall we new jewels borrow
To deck the Mother born Immaculate.
Well, I am batting a thousand this year, aren’t I? I missed posting this past weekend, readers. In the immortal words of Charlie Brown: “AUUGH!!!” (Cue head banging on the desk in self-frustration.) Sigh….
Yes, Life happened last week, and that was why there was no post. I do apologize, readers. This is not something the Mithril Guardian does on purpose. Sometimes life just…. Happens.
But we are here now, so let us make the best of it. Today’s topic is the film Gifted. Starring Chris Evans in the lead role of Frank Adler, the story follows Frank as he raises his young niece, Mary. Mary is a girl with a high IQ; she is already a math genius, despite her young age. After her mother – Frank’s sister – committed suicide, he took her away from her grandmother to raise her as a normal girl. Having done his best to homeschool her up to this point, Frank has decided it is time for Mary to go to public school in order to socialize and make friends her own age.
Unfortunately for him, Mary does not want to go. As she later admits, she finds most children her age boring; they do not have enough accumulated life experience to make them seem interesting to her. But her uncle insists and so, reluctantly, she gets on the bus and goes to school.
To say it is a rough first day is an understatement. Mary makes all kinds of impressions on the other kids, her teacher, and the principal. The teacher is impressed, the kids snicker, and the principal calls Frank after his niece uses some strong language she should know better than to say. He comes to pick Mary up, then scolds her not only for mouthing off to the principle, but for showing the teacher what she can do. When said teacher – Bonnie Stevenson – comes out to suggest that Mary may be gifted, he does his best to throw the woman off track.
It does not work. The next day, instead of the regular first grade math assignment, Bonnie gives Mary an algebra test. While it is more challenging than the first grade test, the girl finishes it in record time. She also comes to respect her first grade teacher, setting up a strong rapport between the two.
Sadly, Bonnie’s attempt to teach/entertain Mary does not go unnoticed. Neither does the girl’s ferocious defense of a boy in her class, who is bullied on the bus on the way to school. This incident leads to Frank landing in the principal’s office. The woman in charge of the school, smelling prestige and profit, offers him a scholarship for Mary due to her gifted intellect. Frank tells her in no uncertain terms that he is not interested.
But that does not stop the principal. She puts in a few calls and, a couple of days later, Frank’s mother appears on his doorstep.
Although he loves her, Frank also resents his mother for several reasons, not least the fact that she insists on taking Mary away from him. Evelyn Adler is a gifted mathematician in her own right, but she is nowhere near as good as Mary. Nor is she as good as Mary’s mother and Frank’s younger sister, Diane.
When Diane proved capable of solving math problems faster than her mother, Evelyn dedicated her daughter’s life to the subject. She had tried the same thing with her husband and Frank, but neither man had the talent to the same degree Diane did. Having lived her entire life isolated from the outside world so she could focus on math, it is not too surprising that Diane would get desperate enough to go out with any man who would take her, resulting in Mary’s birth.
It is also no surprise that she ended up taking her own life when Mary was six months old.
Evelyn asks politely for Frank to hand Mary over to her so the girl can complete Diane’s work. When her son refuses, she drags him to court, pulling open old wounds for both of them. Having never taken legal guardianship of his niece, Frank is skating on thin ice, while his mother refuses to admit that she had anything to do with her daughter’s suicide.
I do not want to spoil the finale for the film, readers, so that is all I will say about the plot. Aside from Chris Evans, there are a couple of other familiar faces in the cast, including John M. Jackson, whom fans of JAG will recognize as Admiral A.J. Chegwidden. It was quite a surprise to see him here, since it is not easy for this blogger to keep up with all the JAG alumni as they continue on in there career. The only one I have been able to follow with a smattering of regularity is Catherine Bell, since her Good Witch film series keeps her in the spotlight.
Gifted is a great movie showing a father doing everything he can to protect his daughter. Though Frank is not her biological father and does worry he is not taking care of her properly, he truly loves Mary and wants what is best for her. Even when he makes mistakes he does so because he is desperate not to ruin his adopted daughter’s life. And when he realizes those mistakes, he takes quick action to repair the damage he has caused.
The film also takes an unflinching, very realistic look at the foster care system, custody battles, and the sad treatment of far too many “gifted” youths in modern society. Evelyn’s single-minded desire is to achieve fame by solving a supposedly insoluble mathematical equation. She killed her daughter in an attempt to do it and has no qualms about repeating the process with her granddaughter, whom she did not want in the first place. As fictional villains go, I would have to say she beats everyone but Maleficent and Thanos hollow. This woman is nasty.
And what makes her such a strong villain is that she does not seem nasty. She doesn’t yell, scream, or holler. In fact, she apologizes to Frank multiple times, stating, “I don’t want to hurt you.” But in truth she has no problem hurting him, any more than she had an issue with wounding her husband, her granddaughter, and especially her own daughter.
Talk about a piece of work, readers.
If you have not seen Gifted, I strongly recommend that you view it at the earliest opportunity. The movie does not have a lot of action, but it still left me close to tears by the time the credits rolled. Avengers: Endgame did not wear me out the way that Gifted did. This story is intense – as intense as the love of a father for his daughter.
But you do not need to take my word for it. Check out the movie and see for yourself. And pack a box of tissues, just in case. I wish I had done that when I settled down to watch the film first.
Until next time,
The Mithril Guardian
As promised, here is the next post on the original Thundercats! I know it is overdue, but this has been a wild and wacky year for everyone. There were days when this blogger just could not find the time or the energy to write, which meant the posts she was supposed to write got shoved onto the back-burner.
But we are here now, so let’s celebrate! Today’s subject is Jaga the Wise, the mentor and surrogate father figure for Lion-O, the young Lord of the Thundercats. The court adviser and magician, Jaga was the only person outside of the royal family who could wield the Eye of Thundera and the Sword of Omens’ full power. It is never explained why this is so, but given how much magic he possessed, it does make some sense.
Of course, it is just as possible that Jaga was somehow related to the royal family. Though he is supposed to be based on the jaguar, to this blogger’s eye, Jaga has always had a more leonine appearance. Since he and the other Thundercats were of the nobility, and nobility regularly intermarries with royalty, this writer’s theory might have some weight. What makes her theory somewhat more plausible is when one considers the 2011 series, where Lion-O’s ancestor Leo was in love with a female panther. Thus intermarriage among the various upper echelons of Thunderan society only makes sense, from both a historical and a narrative position.
Regardless of how he was able to wield the Sword of Omens so effectively, the fact is that Jaga could do it. Even so, we only saw him wield the Sword in flashback; during the first episode – “Exodus” – Jaga has no visible weapon. We never see him physically engage with the Mutants, but since he was running around the ship, it seems safe to assume he did some fighting. He was certainly impressed that a twelve-year-old Lion-O could use the Sword after almost dropping it some minutes before vessel was attacked.
As the royal magician, it appears that Jaga was acting as regent for Lion-O when the final Thunderian refugee fleet fled the dying planet. He was the unquestioned commander of the flagship and he is the one who told the rest of the fleet to use evasive maneuvers. The fact that Panthro, Cheetara, and Tygra all answered to him without question only supports this idea.
Unfortunately, Jaga’s efforts to protect the Thunderian remnant traveling with Lion-O’s ship are not successful. As far as viewers can tell, the entire convoy is wiped out in a few minutes by the Mutants, who then board the lead vessel in an attempt to steal the Sword of Omens. They are repelled, of course, but they do enough damage that even Panthro cannot repair the ship to the point it can limp to the Thundercats’ original destination.
Neither can he make the ship do more than sputter in the direction of Third Earth. Jaga then demonstrates his wisdom by ordering the rest of the crew into the suspension capsules, so that they may live until they reach Third Earth. Due to his advanced years and the fact that the capsules only slow the aging process, not stop it, even if he were to use one himself Jaga will die by the time the ship lands. He says his good-byes to the rest of the crew, including a poignant farewell to his young king, then takes the helm as the others settle into hibernation.
Since this was the 1980s, the decade of Star Wars. While I do not have a problem with the Obi-Wan Kenobi effect per se, the fact that the writers made it so obvious for Jaga in “Exodus” does kind of tweak my desire for a more…original exit. That being said, it is not a bad send off for him, and it makes his subsequent ability to offer ghostly guidance more believable than it might be otherwise.
From this point on, Jaga only shows up as a spirit who winks in and out of view when he needs to impart moral advice to the young king. It is hard to tell if Lion-O is the only one who can see Jaga when he drops in, or if the other Thundercats can see him as well. Captain Shiner does not see him during the episode where the heroes first encounter the mercenary captain and Willa, leader of the Warrior Maidens, also does not seem to perceive Jaga’s ghost when she and Lion-O first meet. Though perhaps she did see him, and she just didn’t want to interrupt him. She never says anything that would let us make a definitive judgement either way, so that is left to conjecture.
After Lion-O “grows up” following the Anointment Trials, Jaga imparts moral advice a little less frequently than he used to. From that point onward he operates in the manner of a good court advisor and fatherly ghost, bringing Lion-O news of danger he would normally learn about too late to defend against. Though the young king and his former regent are temporarily reunited when Lion-O must rescue his mentor from a spirit dungeon, they never come into actual contact again during the rest of the series.
In many ways, the 2011 series did Jaga more favors than it did other Thundercats. He even had his position in the court firmly established this time around; the ambiguity around his original position is dispatched by the simple statement that he is the head of the clerics and, therefore, advisor to the Lord of the Thundercats. His super speed is a little hard for this writer to buy, but considering the writers nailed two out of three points, that qualifies as a minor annoyance that can be rectified with little trouble.
What has always been more annoying about the 2011 Jaga, for me, is the caste of clerics themselves. It is never stated just what their function in Thunderan society is. Are they religious clerics? Considering how Cheetara and, later, Wilykit offer moral guidance to Lion-O and the others, that seems to be the entire point of their existence. But we do not see them officiate a religious ceremony or attend to any other duty except to protect (or try to protect) the royal family.
If they were meant to be warrior or magician clerics, then that would have been a nice tidbit to learn. And it would not have taken the writers more than a couple of lines of dialogue or a few background scenes to clear that up. As it is, the most we see the clerics do is try to fight Mumm-Ra, only to die en masse in one enormous explosion. And why are they all blindingly fast, when there is only one Cheetah among them (that we can confirm, anyway)? In the original series, only Cheetahs could move with the speed the clerics demonstrate. So why do all the clerics, who are not of the same subspecies as Cheetara? If the answer is “magic,” that would have been nice to know while the series was on the air! Ugh….
Putting Jaga in charge of a group of warrior magician monks/nuns is not a bad idea. Not telling us what these magician monks/nuns are supposed to do, how they wield their magic (Cheetara specifically says some of Jaga’s magic flows through her – what?), and how they are all as fast as the speediest cat in the land IS bad. It leaves the entire system feeling slipshod and tacked on; if they had taken the time to explain what the heck the clerics were for and how they operated, it might have worked. As it is, to this blogger, it just felt like unnecessary baggage.
So while I can say that I liked the 2011 version of Jaga, I cannot say I enjoyed the manner in which they fit him into the universe. And that is not counting how they made him a ghost advisor to the young Lord of the Thundercats. Trapping his soul in a magic lamp to torture him into giving up information is not kosher, guys. Having the Lizards or the other Mutants kill him while Mumm-Ra gloats, only to be shocked when the Thunderan mage fades away – that would have worked much, much better.
But beggars can’t be choosers, right? Two out of three is not bad at all. For the most part, 2011 Jaga is a nice homage to the original 1980s character, and the writers deserve praise for that. He’s not perfect, but hey, neither is anyone else.
With luck, I will see you next week with a film review, readers. Until then: “Thunder…Thunder….
The Mithril Guardian
Below are just some of the anime themes I have heard. Zoids, of course, is at the top of the list because it is my favorite anime ever. If an anime cannot at least reach the level of New Century Zero, then this writer is not going to consider it great. Good, yes, but cream of the crop? That is something which the writers and animators have to work for.
Admittedly, this writer has yet to check out Dr. Stone and Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. But the intros for these anime have impressed her enough that she is going to view them. She gave up on Fairy Tail; it just didn’t grab her, though the first intro theme still makes her happy.
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is a solid winner, though it doesn’t rate too high on the list of best anime ever. At one season plus a movie (really three episodes strung together), it does not have a lot of room to reach its full potential. Hopefully more than the movie Battle of Unato is in the future for this series; then it might reach greater heights. But for now it is a solid, watchable anime – despite the zombies. 😛
And yes, Zoids: Chaotic Century’s English and Japanese intros are here. They both earned this spot because they are just that good. The original intro for Zoids: Genesis is here because while I don’t like the series, the theme song is darn catchy. I couldn’t get it out of my head for a long, long time. Now you won’t be able to, either. 😉
Have fun with the music, readers!
‘Til next time,
The Mithril Guardian
Zoids: Chaotic Century (Wild Flowers)
Zoids: Chaotic Century (English Dub)
Zoids: New Century Zero (English Dub)
Kabaneri no Koutetsujou (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress)
Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs
Keep an eye out for low-flying witches, readers! And may black cats only bring you good luck tonight!