Monthly Archives: October 2016

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Constantin Brancusi’s The Newborn

Image result for constantin brancusi the newborn

This sculpture is called The Newborn.  I think this is a replica of the original, which is bronze, but perhaps Mr. Brancusi made some copies.  I do not think he did, but I am far from an expert on art – of any kind!

A friend found a book called The Quiet Eye: A Way of Looking At Pictures by Sylvia Shaw Judson, a Quaker.  I thought it was a sweet picture, and was quite happy when I learned the artist was Romanian by birth.  Two of my followers are Romanian, and I am always happy to learn something new about their country.  My friend knows this, and suggested I put the sculpture on my blog.  She thought the sculpture resembled a “Babe in swaddling clothes,” and I like her interpretation of the sculpture best.  It is an inviting piece of artwork. 

Catch ya later!

The Mithril Guardian

Some More Favorite Animated Intro Themes

Well, here we are again, readers. An omnivorous story absorber, I will read or watch whatever manages to meet my standards or catch my fancy. Sometimes it may take a while for me to find it, but eventually I stumble across it.

Or it stumbles across me!

Pleasant listening!

The Mithril Guardian

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003)

Zoids: New Century Zero

(Yes, I know, this is not an animated TV show. But it is for kids, so that is why it is here.)

Wishbone

Gargoyles

X-Men (1990s)

Spider-Man (1990s)

Pryde of the X-Men

Storm Hawks

Max Steel (2013)

G. I. Joe: Renegades

Transformers (Original Theme)

Zoids: Chaotic Century

Book Review: Hondo by Louis L’Amour

Hondo Lane.

What a name that is. Some never heard it. Some heard it too late. Those who heard it received it second hand, or they were not on the wrong end of his gun. If they were there, and somehow survived, it was because he saw fit to spare them.

A tall, lean, wide-shouldered man with a hard-boned face was Hondo Lane. There was no softness in him, yet also no cruelty. At heart, a kind man, with gentleness in him that was hidden and well-protected. To show kindness and compassion at the wrong moment in his time could lead to a quick end.

And Hondo Lane is not interested in dying soon.

But at the beginning of his story, that seems hard to avoid. A couple of young Apaches shot his horse out from under him, thinking to make a quick kill. They end up dead alongside the horse – but a man without a horse in the desert is a man who will not live long.

Then Hondo comes upon a little ranch house in a nearby valley. In the house are Angie Lowe and her son, Johnny. They are situated smack dab in Apache territory, and currently the Apaches are not happy. They are on the war trail.

This is why Hondo lost his horse and was almost killed. The treaty made with the Apaches has been broken, and now they want the white man to pay. So the U.S. Army has moved in to take care of the trouble. Hondo is carrying dispatches for the Army, since he is a scout for them, and he needs to get them to the nearest fort as soon as possible. To do that, he needs a horse.

Angie Lowe has two horses to choose from, and she allows Hondo to pick out and borrow one. But she dismisses Hondo’s warnings about the Indians. Angie tells him that the Apaches have always gotten along well with them, and that her husband will be back soon.

Hondo, however, has read the spoor around her land. Not only are the Apaches running around the place on their way to war, the hoof prints from her husband’s horse are old. He has been gone a long time, long enough for the ranch he has not been taking care of to fall into further disrepair.

To pay for his meal, bed, and horse, Hondo sharpens the family’s axe and chops wood for them. He also re-shoes the plough horses, whose hooves have grown over the old shoes. He tells Angie again that she would be safer coming with him out of Indian Territory than staying in it, even if the land is hers through inheritance from her father. He also tells her that she is an “almighty poor liar,” and he knows her husband is not present or coming back any time soon.

Angie is most upset by this. Her husband, who was raised with her on the ranch, is actually a bum. The guy works little on maintaining the ranch and goes on “trips” to the fort and nearby towns. There he gambles, drinks, and pays attention to the saloon girls. Meanwhile, Angie is left to mind the ranch and raise Johnny. She cannot handle the ranch alone, but she loves it and it is hers. So she is determined to take care of it to the best of her ability.

But most of what upsets her is that she likes Hondo. She likes him very, very much. Of course, being married to another man, for better or worse, that kind of puts a damper on things for her and Hondo.

The story spins its way out from here, readers, and this is as much of the trail as I am going to guide you on. From here on, you will have to saddle, bridle, and rope this book yourselves. If you do all that, then you may do to ride the river with. If you have already crossed this and other trails of Louis L’Amour’s, then I salute you and am happy to ride in your company.

Hondo was Louis L’Amour’s first full-length publication. Before Hondo was published, Mr. L’Amour had only produced short stories for various magazines. Hondo was his breakout novel. After it hit the market, he had no need to look back. He was off to the races, and he kept going till the end of his days.

John Wayne was in a film based on Hondo. The film goes by the same name as the book. It is a good film – a great one, I think. And before some of you say that it is just a “cowboy movie,” let me step in here and make something clear. A “cowboy” is someone who “punches cows.” He manages another man’s herd for him, whether it is cattle or horses. He helps with the branding, driving, and protecting of the herd from outside attackers.

Hondo is not a cowboy. He is a scout for the Army. So when John Wayne played Hondo Lane in the film Hondo, he played a U.S. Army scout. There is plenty of daylight between the two positions, as much as there is between a military sniper and a beat cop. Do not ever go mixing the two up – especially around me.

You get that story straight, and you’ll do to ride the river with.

See ya around, readers!

The Mithril Guardian

Book Review: Madeleine Takes Command by Ethel C. Brill

Image result for Madeleine Takes Command by Ethel C. BrillOn October 22, 1692, a military seigneury (fort) in New France (now Canada), was put under siege by a large band of Iroquois Indians.  This seigneury was the property of one Sieur François Jarret de Verchéres.  However, the Sieur de Verchéres was not within the stockade when the attack occurred.  Neither was his wife, Madame de Verchéres.  His oldest son was killed in battle a year before.  The oldest of his remaining children was the only commander the fort had.

That child was fourteen year old Marie Madeleine Jarret de Verchéres.

It is hard to find a great deal of information about Madeleine de Verchéres these days.  You will find a few paragraphs on different websites which will tell you that Madeleine directed the defense of her family’s fort for a whole week until reinforcements came from Montreal.  If you are lucky the articles will mention that her younger brothers, twelve year old Louis and ten year old Alexandre, were in the fort with her.

But to really become immersed in the story, there is only one source I know of to which I can direct you:  Madeleine Takes Command, by Ethel C. Brill.

Written in 1946, Mrs. Brill’s book must at some time have gone out of print.  Today one can acquire a good copy of the novel through Bethlehem Books; a company which reprints children’s fiction that otherwise would be lost to us.  Officially, the book is for ages ten and up.  But a real reader will snatch up any sheaves bound in almost any cover; so the book is really “for kids from one to ninety-two.”

I was young when I was first handed Madeleine Takes Command.  But even now I remember how I felt while reading the book.  History came alive through the pages.  I saw the stockade, smelled the bread baking, and heard the birds singing.  I saw the savage Iroquois prowling about the fort out of shooting range, heard the cannon in the fort roar.  I watched the St. Lawrence course past the stockade and saw the leaves on the trees turn from green to autumnal gold.

Oh, plenty of things flew over my head, it is true.  The French words were always a big barrier; I never did learn to pronounce some of them properly. Never having a head for furniture, some of the fixtures mentioned in the novel baffled me.  I even had trouble understanding just what moccasins were!  With nothing to reference them to, my picture of such things was incomplete or vague.

But I could not misunderstand Madeleine’s courage and integrity in the face of terrible danger.  Her willingness to protect not only her family’s fort and those within, but the other seigneuries along the St. Lawrence, was equally relatable.

For seven whole days Madeleine, her younger brothers, the family manservant, and two militiamen held the fort.  Because the militiamen had retreated to the blockhouse to blow up the fort at the first sign of attack, Madeleine never assigned them to guard duty on the fort’s bastions at night.  Only she, Louis, Alexandre, and the manservant stood vigil during darkness; during the day, they rotated with the militiamen.  It was the only sleep they received.

At the end of the week relief came from Montreal.  Madeleine surrendered her command to the leader of the force sent to rescue the stockade, and after this she fades from history.  But in a small park in Verchéres, Quebec, you will find a bronze statue.  It is of a girl wearing a simple dress, a captain’s hat, and moccasins.  She is facing the St. Lawrence River and holding a musket, which is pointed at the distant ground.  A sentry from a bygone day, she watches the river.  Her stance is proud, courageous.  It is daring.

It is Madeleine de Verchéres.

I suppose the story of Madeleine de Verchéres is a bit awkward for some to hear today.  Madeleine never traded in her skirt for a set of britches; she defended the fort in her everyday dress.  The only differences in her outward appearance were the musket she carried and the captain’s hat she snatched on her way out of the blockhouse – not to mention a cloak to keep her warm at night or during a storm.  Otherwise, she looked like what she was: a fourteen year old girl of the nobility of New France – which, in Old France, would probably not have been considered especially noble.

Also, there is the matter of the Iroquois attack itself.  While the French were not always kind to the Indians, for the most part they did more good than harm.  The French did not intentionally spread disease among the Indians, as the British preferred to do.  They intermarried with the Indians freely, seeing no distinction between a full-blooded Indian, a full-blooded Frenchman, and a man of French/Indian heritage.  Contrast this with the English, who called the children of Indians and whites “halfbreeds” or “breeds” for short.  Also, the French government coexisted with the Indians, never forcing their way into any tribal territory but proclaiming it the Indians’ own land.  The States do not have such a good initial track record, sadly.

All this, however, has been forgotten.  If it was not overwritten two centuries ago by British bias, it has been buried by the current intolerances of a New Age.  We are so quick to forget in this generation, and that will be our undoing if we are not careful.

So on this day, the first day of the siege which Madeleine and her little band withstood, I recommend to you the book which I know and love so well.  Madeleine Takes Command tells the story of Canada’s forgotten heroine, one who can be an inspiration to girls everywhere…if they are introduced to her.  I promise you that the book is worth the read and will make a great gift for any young girl you know.

Au revoir, mes amis!

The Mithril Guardian

Favorite Artist: Phil Collins

Phil Collins is an artist I have listened to for years. I really enjoy his music. Below you will find the songs he did that I like most. Hope you find some favorites!

Enjoy!

The Mithril Guardian

Driving the Last Spike

Illegal Alien

Sussudio

Against All Odds

You Can’t Hurry Love

Take Me Home

Something Happened on the Way to Heaven

Two Hearts

Who Said I Would

Don’t Lose My Number

Another Day in Paradise

The Hound of Heaven

Image result for the hound of heaven

THE HOUND OF HEAVEN

Francis Thompson

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

   I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

   Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears

I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

             Up vistaed hopes I sped;

             And shot, precipitated,

Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,

   From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

             But with unhurrying chase,

             And unperturbèd pace,

     Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,

             They beat—and a Voice beat

             More instant than the Feet—

     ‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me’.

             I pleaded, outlaw-wise,

By many a hearted casement, curtained red,

   Trellised with intertwining charities;

(For, though I knew His love Who followed,

             Yet was I sore adread

Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside.)

But, if one little casement parted wide,

   The gust of His approach would clash it to:

   Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.

Across the margent of the world I fled,

   And troubled the gold gateway of the stars,

   Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars;

             Fretted to dulcet jars

And silvern chatter the pale ports o’ the moon.

I said to Dawn: Be sudden—to Eve: Be soon;

   With thy young skiey blossom heap me over

             From this tremendous Lover—

Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!

   I tempted all His servitors, but to find

My own betrayal in their constancy,

In faith to Him their fickleness to me,

   Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.

To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;

   Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.

          But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,

     The long savannahs of the blue;

            Or, whether, Thunder-driven,

          They clanged his chariot ‘thwart a heaven,

Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their feet:—

   Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.

             Still with unhurrying chase,

             And unperturbed pace,

      Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,

             Came on the following Feet,

             And a Voice above their beat—

‘Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.’

I sought no more after that which I strayed

          In face of man or maid;

But still within the little children’s eyes

          Seems something, something that replies,

They at least are for me, surely for me!

I turned me to them very wistfully;

But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair

         With dawning answers there,

Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.

Come then, ye other children, Nature’s—share

With me’ (said I) ‘your delicate fellowship;

          Let me greet you lip to lip,

          Let me twine with you caresses,

              Wantoning

          With our Lady-Mother’s vagrant tresses,

             Banqueting

          With her in her wind-walled palace,

          Underneath her azured dais,

          Quaffing, as your taintless way is,

             From a chalice

Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring.’

             So it was done:

I in their delicate fellowship was one—

Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies.

          I knew all the swift importings

          On the wilful face of skies;

           I knew how the clouds arise

          Spumèd of the wild sea-snortings;

             All that’s born or dies

          Rose and drooped with; made them shapers

Of mine own moods, or wailful divine;

          With them joyed and was bereaven.

          I was heavy with the even,

          When she lit her glimmering tapers

          Round the day’s dead sanctities.

          I laughed in the morning’s eyes.

I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,

          Heaven and I wept together,

And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine:

Against the red throb of its sunset-heart

          I laid my own to beat,

          And share commingling heat;

But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.

In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek.

For ah! we know not what each other says,

          These things and I; in sound I speak—

Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.

Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;

          Let her, if she would owe me,

Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me

          The breasts o’ her tenderness:

Never did any milk of hers once bless

             My thirsting mouth.

             Nigh and nigh draws the chase,

             With unperturbed pace,

Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;

             And past those noisèd Feet

             A voice comes yet more fleet—

‘Lo! naught contents thee, who content’st not Me.’

Naked I wait Thy love’s uplifted stroke!

My harness piece by piece Thou has hewn from me,

             And smitten me to my knee;

          I am defenceless utterly.

          I slept, methinks, and woke,

And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.

In the rash lustihead of my young powers,

          I shook the pillaring hours

And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,

I stand amidst the dust o’ the mounded years—


My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.

My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,

Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.

          Yea, faileth now even dream

The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;

Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist

I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,

Are yielding; cords of all too weak account

For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.

          Ah! is Thy love indeed

A weed, albeit an amarinthine weed,

Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?

          Ah! must—

Designer infinite!—

Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?

My freshness spent its wavering shower i’ the dust;

And now my heart is as a broken fount,

Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever

          From the dank thoughts that shiver

Upon the sighful branches of my mind.

          Such is; what is to be?

The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?

I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;

Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds

From the hid battlements of Eternity;

Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then

Round the half-glimpsed turrets slowly wash again.

          But not ere him who summoneth

          I first have seen, enwound

With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;

His name I know and what his trumpet saith.

Whether man’s heart or life it be which yields

          Thee harvest, must Thy harvest-fields

          Be dunged with rotten death?

             Now of that long pursuit

             Comes on at hand the bruit;

          That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:

          ‘And is thy earth so marred,

          Shattered in shard on shard?

          Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!

          ‘Strange, piteous, futile thing!

Wherefore should any set thee love apart?

Seeing none but I makes much of naught’ (He said),

‘And human love needs human meriting:

          How hast thou merited—
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?

          Alack, thou knowest not

How little worthy of any love thou art!

Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,

          Save Me, save only Me?

All which I took from thee I did but take,

          Not for thy harms,

But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.

          All which thy child’s mistake

Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:

          Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’

   Halts by me that footfall:

   Is my gloom, after all,

Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?

   ‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,

   I am He Whom thou seekest!

Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.’