Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Skeleton in Armor by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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The Skeleton in Armor

“Speak! speak! thou fearful guest!

Who, with thy hollow breast

Still in rude armor drest,

      Comest to daunt me!

Wrapt not in Eastern balms,

But with thy fleshless palms

Stretched, as if asking alms,

      Why dost thou haunt me?”

Then, from those cavernous eyes

Pale flashes seemed to rise,

As when the Northern skies

      Gleam in December;

And, like the water’s flow

Under December’s snow,

Came a dull voice of woe

      From the heart’s chamber.

“I was a Viking old!

My deeds, though manifold,

No Skald in song has told,

      No Saga taught thee!

Take heed, that in thy verse

Thou dost the tale rehearse,

Else dread a dead man’s curse;

      For this I sought thee.

“Far in the Northern Land,

By the wild Baltic’s strand,

I, with my childish hand,

      Tamed the gerfalcon;

And, with my skates fast-bound,

Skimmed the half-frozen Sound,

That the poor whimpering hound

      Trembled to walk on.

“Oft to his frozen lair

Tracked I the grisly bear,

While from my path the hare

      Fled like a shadow;

Oft through the forest dark

Followed the were-wolf’s bark,

Until the soaring lark

      Sang from the meadow.

“But when I older grew,

Joining a corsair’s crew,

O’er the dark sea I flew

      With the marauders.

Wild was the life we led;

Many the souls that sped,

Many the hearts that bled,

      By our stern orders.

“Many a wassail-bout

Wore the long Winter out;

Often our midnight shout

      Set the cocks crowing,

As we the Berserk’s tale

Measured in cups of ale,

Draining the oaken pail,

      Filled to o’erflowing.

“Once as I told in glee

Tales of the stormy sea,

Soft eyes did gaze on me,

      Burning yet tender;

And as the white stars shine

On the dark Norway pine,

On that dark heart of mine

      Fell their soft splendor.

“I wooed the blue-eyed maid,

Yielding, yet half afraid,

And in the forest’s shade

      Our vows were plighted.

Under its loosened vest

Fluttered her little breast,

Like birds within their nest

      By the hawk frighted.

“Bright in her father’s hall

Shields gleamed upon the wall,

Loud sang the minstrels all,

      Chanting his glory;

When of old Hildebrand

I asked his daughter’s hand,

Mute did the minstrels stand

      To hear my story.

“While the brown ale he quaffed,

Loud then the champion laughed,

And as the wind-gusts waft

      The sea-foam brightly,

So the loud laugh of scorn,

Out of those lips unshorn,

From the deep drinking-horn

      Blew the foam lightly.

“She was a Prince’s child,

I but a Viking wild,

And though she blushed and smiled,

      I was discarded!

Should not the dove so white

Follow the sea-mew’s flight,

Why did they leave that night

      Her nest unguarded?

“Scarce had I put to sea,

Bearing the maid with me,

Fairest of all was she

      Among the Norsemen!

When on the white sea-strand,

Waving his armed hand,

Saw we old Hildebrand,

      With twenty horsemen.

“Then launched they to the blast,

Bent like a reed each mast,

Yet we were gaining fast,

      When the wind failed us;

And with a sudden flaw

Came round the gusty Skaw,

So that our foe we saw

      Laugh as he hailed us.

“And as to catch the gale

Round veered the flapping sail,

‘Death!’ was the helmsman’s hail,

      ‘Death without quarter!’

Mid-ships with iron keel

Struck we her ribs of steel;

Down her black hulk did reel

      Through the black water!

“As with his wings aslant,

Sails the fierce cormorant,

Seeking some rocky haunt,

      With his prey laden, —

So toward the open main,

Beating to sea again,

Through the wild hurricane,

      Bore I the maiden.

“Three weeks we westward bore,

And when the storm was o’er,

Cloud-like we saw the shore

      Stretching to leeward;

There for my lady’s bower

Built I the lofty tower,

Which, to this very hour,

   Stands looking seaward.

“There lived we many years;

Time dried the maiden’s tears;

She had forgot her fears,

      She was a mother;

Death closed her mild blue eyes,

Under that tower she lies;

Ne’er shall the sun arise

      On such another!

“Still grew my bosom then,

Still as a stagnant fen!

Hateful to me were men,

      The sunlight hateful!

In the vast forest here,

Clad in my warlike gear,

Fell I upon my spear,

      Oh, death was grateful!

“Thus, seamed with many scars,

Bursting these prison bars,

Up to its native stars

      My soul ascended!

There from the flowing bowl

Deep drinks the warrior’s soul,

Skoal! to the Northland! skoal!”

      Thus the tale ended.

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Book Review: A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck

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A Long Way from Chicago was a gift I received years ago.  Sadly, though, I did not get around to reading it for some time.  But when I did I learned just what I had been missing.

The novel revolves around Joey Dowdel and the adventures he and his sister Mary Alice have as they are growing up.  Every August during the Great Depression the two are sent down south to stay with their grandmother in her small Illinois town.  They call her Grandma; the neighbors call her Mrs. Dowdel.  We readers know her as Grandma Dowdel.

Grandma Dowdel is as big as a barge and as odd as only an old lady who has lived by her wits and her will can be.  On their first visit, Joey and his sister learn that Grandma likes her privacy.  She does not want any snoopy neighbors poking their noses into her business, period.  So when a fancy-shmancy reporter comes to town to do a story on the recently deceased “Shotgun” Cheatham’s life history, Grandma decides to send the man packing.  But she does it in the most unexpected way possible:  she hosts Cheatham’s remains in her house, sitting up with the dead until he can be buried!

If you think that is a recipe for fun, wait until next summer, when Grandma teaches the Cowgill brothers not to go around blowing up mailboxes and privies – especially if it is her mailbox!  The year after that, she takes her grandchildren on a crime spree in order to feed the hungry – and put the town sheriff in his place.  😉

The high jinks only get higher as the summers pass.  Despite the Depression, Grandma finds plenty of ways not only to keep her grandchildren busy, but to maintain the rhythm and security of the town she says she “couldn’t give two hoots about.”  Joey and Mary Alice – along with the reader – never know what is going to happen next.

And that is just the way Grandma Dowdel likes it.

A Long Way from Chicago is a rip-roaring good book.  It is full of laughs.  Rereading it again a little while ago, I was surprised at how much I had forgotten.  I was equally surprised at how much the book made me laugh!

There are two sequels to this book, possibly three, and they are as hilarious as this one – maybe even more so.  Richard Peck’s series is classic, readers; this blogger recommends it highly.  And since I happen to “give two hoots” about you, I suggest that you grab a copy of A Long Way from Chicago and start reading!

See you around!

The Mithril Guardian

One Life: A Human’s a Human, No Matter How Small

Mockingjay

I think that Peeta was onto something about us destroying one another and letting some decent species take over. Because something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children’s lives to settle its differences. – Katniss Everdeen in Mockingjay (Emphasis added)

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This week there have been and are going to be several marches for life protesting legalized abortion across the United States. If you are pro-choice and believe abortion is okay, you should remember something very important: you were once a twenty week old “lump of cells” in your mother’s body, too.

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We all were. We were all three day old cells carried by our mothers’; we were all eight month old unborn babies – except for those of us who were born premature. Then we were brought into the world even earlier. And you know what? We all – eventually – looked like this when we were born, premature or otherwise: healthy infants.

Image result for babies Did you ever think about babies who were born premature, readers? They were born before they were, as the cliché goes, “viable outside of the womb.” But are we going to argue that these premature infants are not human beings? If so, we are lying to ourselves.

This means that the argument that the “fetus” to be aborted is just an unfeeling lump of cells at these stages is very unscientific. Premature babies are not unfeeling lumps of cells, are they? They can cry and move, make faces, and need their diapers changed just like healthy babies born nine months after conception.

At twenty weeks, one of the favored stages for an abortion, the baby has a head, arms, legs, and can make facial expressions, not to mention move around. A woman can hear and feel the baby hiccup sometimes at that point, too. Three days after conception, a heartbeat can be detected from that single cell which will grow into a baby.

To say this argument over abortion is about a woman’s right to control her body is silly. Yes, a woman has a right to control her own body. But does she have the right to control the body of the person she is carrying? Has no one stopped to ask that question?

Why is a baby that is wanted, or “planned,” referred to as a baby while in the womb, but a baby that is unwanted or “unplanned” is spoken of as a “lump of cells” or “tissue”? If the latter is true, then there should be no joy for a couple when the pregnancy test comes back positive and no sorrow when a woman suffers a miscarriage.

Yet this is what happens. Why the societal dichotomy?

Maybe you should ask yourself this very important question, too, readers: What if my mother had aborted me?

You would not be here to read this if that were the case. You would either be zapped out of existence, dissected in utero, or “harvested” and your body parts sold to the highest bidder. What if your mother had decided to abort you? Do you want to help abortionists do that to the next Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King Jr., or John F. Kennedy? Do you want to continue to support infanticide?

Think about it, readers. Think about it harder than you have ever thought about anything else in your life. This is not a battle with a fence to sit on. This is a battle between life and death. Which do you choose?

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Captain America: Civil War – The Honorable Mentions

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I do not know which Marvel movies I will be watching before Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel appear in theaters, readers. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 looks promising, as does the Black Panther film. The third installment in Thor’s trilogy is still up for debate; on the one hand, it would be good to watch it. On the other… maybe the TV would be a better place to see it.

The jury is still out on Ant-Man and the Wasp, and I am definitely NOT wasting money or time on ANY Captain Marvel film. If she is in the Avengers films, I will have to deal with it; but I am NOT spending money to see her in her own movie. She is not worth it. If any of the others pop up in her film, I will find Internet videos of their cameos. That is all, folks.

Anyway, until the next Avengers film, there will be something of a dearth of Marvel posts here at Thoughts on the Edge of Forever. And since several characters appeared in Civil War but had no real time to grow in personality, I decided to skip full-blown character posts for them and do quick outlines of their parts instead.

So, without further ado, here are Captain America: Civil War’s honorable mentions:

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Peggy Carter

Technically, Peggy never appeared onscreen during the film. We did not even get any flashback scenes with her.

Nevertheless, she still had a presence in the movie. Her death is the severance of Cap’s last tie with the past. Bucky ties him to a different part of his history; he is part of his roots, the family he grew up with. In some ways, it is not very surprising that he lived to the present day to become Steve’s buddy again.

Peggy was different. She was Cap’s final link to his old dreams. She was the woman of his old imaginings, his old love. While she lived he could not and would never love anyone else. It was utterly impossible. Now that she has moved on, though, he has to find a new dream. This brings us to…

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Sharon Carter

Peggy’s niece and the former SHIELD agent tasked with guarding Cap when he lived in D.C. and worked for Fury during Winter Soldier. It was obvious even when she was pretending to be a stranger that Sharon liked Steve. It was just as clear that she was not going to get between him and her aunt.

It was hinted in Winter Soldier that Steve felt drawn to her, too. Though Peggy is gone as of Civil War, she did not leave Steve alone. She left someone for him to love: Sharon.

Sharon lives up to the part throughout the movie, backing Steve up almost the same way Peggy once did. Though not expected to avoid a man’s line of work just because she is a woman, Sharon does enter her relationship with Cap here under serious strain. Her superiors expect her full and complete loyalty to their agendas, no questions asked.

But, apart from her budding love for Steve, Sharon has a mind and moral compass of her own, as well as the will to use and follow both. This makes her bend and eventually break the rules when Steve and the rest of Team Cap need help. This is a woman to watch out for in the future, readers. She is going places!

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King T’Chaka

Although he dies not long after his introduction, T’Chaka has a major impact on the story. Without him we would not have T’Challa, and the Black Panther would not have appeared in the film at all.

The saddest thing about T’Chaka’s appearance in Civil War, aside from his death, is his apparent belief that the Avengers do not care about the people they work to protect. Somehow he fails to differentiate between unfortunate losses in battle and willful negligence. One can only wonder if this is part of the reason he points out his son’s distaste for politics.

Politics are an unfortunate necessity, which T’Chaka recognizes. But it is quite possible he thought they were really the only recourse needed, and we are all better off without militaries or police forces. Such dreams are fantasies that can never come to pass until the end of time; evil, as Zemo and the Avengers’ other enemies demonstrate, is a very real and palpable force in the world. This means that the response to it has to be just as real, just as swift, and just as physical.

Unfortunately, that also means a lot of innocent people are inevitably going to get caught in the crossfire. It is undeniably awful, but it is the biggest and most inescapable fact of life. Evil consistently rationalizes its actions, and therefore so do its servants. Only the truth can counteract a lie. And so, just as evil uses physical force and weapons, so must good counterattack. Sadly, T’Chaka did not seem to learn that lesson before his unfortunate death in Vienna.

The good news is that his son did learn this lesson.

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Spider-Man/Peter Parker

Yes, here is our traitorous Webslinger. Third time is in fact the charm, and Marvel finally got a film version of their popular Wall-crawler right. Tom Holland’s version of Peter Parker may not have the looks, but he has the wisecracks down pat.

I still remember the first time I saw Tobey MacGuire’s Spider-Man trilogy. His performance was good, and he looked the part, but for the life of me I will never understand why the writers for his films had him fighting in silence. Spider-Man’s trademark battle repartee is absent from the first three Spider-Man movies, and it is one of my major beefs with them.

Andrew Garfield did not have the looks, but he had the snappy patter, so I actually enjoyed the first Amazing Spider-Man film (the only one of the two I have seen). I was not particularly happy that Marvel was pulling a DC Comics trick by trying to restart a series they had already brought to the silver screen. I have to admit, however, that it was fun to see Garfield’s Spidey give his foes a proper tongue-lashing.

Tom Holland has the part well in hand, and he is definitely able to throw out the zingers. From his “Don’t tell Aunt May,” to his shouted “You have the right to remain silent!”, he shows he has the fast mouth necessary to play the teenage superhero.

I am not that interested in the new Spider-Man films, truthfully, though they are probably going to be fun. If I see them, it will probably be on DVD long after they have come out in theaters.

As for Spidey’s part in Civil War, it is fairly obvious: the boy idolizes the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist Tony Stark. So when Iron Man swoops in to ask for help bringing down the rogue Avengers, Parker cannot turn him away. Once he figures out he was used, though, Tony is going to lose another player. Ouch.

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Ant-Man/Scott Lang

Scott’s part in the film is small, but hardly insignificant. Like Spidey, he is called in by Team Cap because they need an edge against Team Iron. The main difference here is that Scott is not a starry-eyed kid. He is thrilled to be working with Captain America – very thrilled indeed – but that does not mean he is being taken for a ride like Parker has been. One, Steve does not pull the wool over other people’s eyes. Period. It is dishonest and wrong, and Cap does not do that, as he pointed out when he told Widow “I’m always honest” in Winter Soldier.

Two, Steve tells Scott up front that they are breaking the law on this mission. If he joins up with them, he will be labeled a criminal and hunted down along with them. It is a “speak now or forever hold your peace” speech. If Scott wants to jump ship, he can. Steve will not force him to join their team. Tony did not give Peter that option; it was a “you’re coming with me, or I tell your aunt about your secret” moment. There was no “opt-out clause” in their discussion.

Scott appreciates that, and so responds with an honest answer: “Yeah, well what else is new?” Typical modern San Francisco native, he did not pay as much attention to Clint’s and Sam’s explanations about what exactly the team was getting into as he should have. But even when more details emerge – such as the fact that going against the law means they will be fighting the other Avengers – he sticks to his word. He has brain and heart, but the latter is the deciding factor, as we saw in Ant-Man. He will do to ride the river with – especially if he learns to control that running mouth of his!

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Aunt May Parker

Last but not least we have Marisa Tomei’s version of Aunt May Parker. I do not care that they got her to play Aunt May; my problem is that the Russos wondered why Aunt May was always portrayed as an old lady if she was the sister of Peter Parker’s mother.

Uhhh…. Maybe because she was not his mother’s sister but his mother’s aunt, making her his great-aunt? At least, that was the impression I was left with all the years that I watched the various Spider-Man television shows. I never thought May was his mother’s sister; I thought she was his maternal great-aunt.

But heck, what do I know? Spider-Man has been on the farthest orbit ring of my Marvel fandom for years now. I have not researched him in – wow, a really long time.

Regardless of the minutiae, Tomei put in a wonderful performance. She has the protective, tough New York aunt act down, and no doubt she will deliver again in the following Spider-Man films. Whether she will remain as oblivious to Parker’s “secret” powers as she once did, I cannot say. Aunt May was never a dummy, but Spidey managed to fib his way out of explaining whatever he was up to in the original stories. With Marvel’s recent rewrites to the previous histories, however, who can say what they will do next? If they were not so busy destroying all the good in their comics, I might be excited about it.

As it is, I have my trepidations – at least with regard to the rest of the Avengers. By this point, Spidey has been revamped so many times that anything new they do with him will hardly be shocking. I would prefer, though, that we skip his replacement by Miles Morales in the film universe. If they do it in the movies, I will be mad.

Well, this concludes the Honorable Mentions post, readers. It is not as comprehensive as I had hoped it would be, but these characters could not get all-inclusive parts in such a stuffed film. I have done the best I can with what I have, so this will have to do.

Until next time!

The Mithril Guardian

 

Book Review: Star Trek: The Great Starship Race by Diane Carey

The Great Starship Race

Well, I did not begin posting about Star Trek fiction as soon as I had hoped.  But better late than never, right?

Today’s focus is Star Trek: The Great Starship Race by Diane Carey.  If you were to type the title of the book into the search engine of my blog, you would come up with several quotes from the novel posted here.  Not nearly so many as you would get if you typed in The Cherokee Trail, but you would get a good number nonetheless.

The Great Starship Race takes place in the Original Star Trek series timeline.  It focuses primarily on Kirk and his point of view, with occasional shifts to McCoy’s perspective.

But The Great Starship Race actually begins from the viewpoint of Valdus, a Subcenturion on the Romulan ship Scorah.  The Scorah and its supporting Swarm are out patrolling a sector of Romulan space when they stumble across an old spaceship with barely any warp capabilities.  Picking up the ship, they find five aliens aboard, aliens sent on a mission of exploration from their homeworld in the hopes of finding other life in the galaxy.

The aliens are friendly.  They fall all over the Romulans, they are so happy to learn they are not the only intelligent beings in the galaxy.  But when the Romulan commander tries to get them to reveal their planet’s location, things fall apart.  Somehow, someway, the nervous fright of the five aliens aboard the ship drives all the Romulans into murderous rages.  They kill each other and destroy the Scorah

All of them die except for one:  Valdus.  He is the only one to escape the conflagration, the only one to come back to sanity.  He is therefore the only one to realize how dangerous these aliens are to the Romulan people.

Fast-forward eighty-six years.  The Federation ship U.S.S. Hood, under the command of Captain Kenneth Dodge, made contact twelve years earlier with the people of Gullrey.  Now, twelve years later, the Rey are about to be accepted into the Federation.  And they are so happy about it that they are throwing a party, which will hopefully become an annual event:  the first Great Starship Race.

Among the competitors are four Starfleet ships – including Captain James T. Kirk’s U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701.

Captain Kirk is looking forward to the race on several levels.  Races are part of sailing history, so as a historian he is naturally happy to be participating in a race, the way that the sailing captains of the past once did.  On another level, he is looking forward to showing off his ship – his “favorite girl.”  And how can participating in a race not be fun?

He finds the answer to that question soon enough, when they are on their way to Starbase 16.  The starting line of the race, Starbase 16 sends a frantic call to the Enterprise about a Romulan heavy cruiser which has crossed the Neutral Zone.  It is headed for the base and transmitting interstellar truce.

What, you ask, is the Romulans’ reason for violating the Neutral Zone between Federation and Romulan space?  Oh, nothing really important – they just want to join the race.

If it were not such a dangerous situation, Kirk would laugh about it.  But a Romulan heavy cruiser in Federation space, whatever their proclaimed reason for entering, is no laughing matter.  He finds it even less funny when he meets the commander of the Red Talon:  Valdus.

And Valdus is none too happy when he sees Kirk.  Loathing using view screens for first meetings, Valdus sees something in Kirk’s eyes that disturbs him.  He knows Kirk is not a man who will give up, and that could be a problem.

As for Kirk, he can tell by looking at Valdus that the Romulan is not here to just run a race.  He knew that before he saw him, but seeing him convinces Kirk that there is something else to Valdus’ desire to join the contest, some dangerous ulterior motive.  And it has something to do with the Rey, whose planet is the finish line of the competition…

That is all I am telling you, readers.  The Great Starship Race is a really good piece of Star Trek fiction.  I think that it was one of the first Star Trek novels which I read.  The entire Enterprise Seven is present and accounted for, though Chekov gets short shrift in the dialogue and action departments.  Still, he is there.  That is what counts.

I do not know if Diane Carey wrote any more Star Trek fiction.  I think she did.  Either way, The Great Starship Race is a Star Trek story which I highly recommend to you.  So warp on over to the nearest library and see if they have a copy!  If they do not, then you should request it.  This is a story that ought to be on at least one set of library shelves!

Later,

The Mithril Guardian

The Battle of the Kegs

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Battle of the Kegs

by Francis Hopkinson

Gallants attend, and hear a friend,
Trill forth harmonious ditty;
Strange things I’ll tell,
Which late befell, In Philadelphia City.
‘Twas early day, as poets say,
Just when the sun was rising,
A soldier stood on a log of wood,
And saw a site surprising.

As in a maze, he stood to gaze,
The truth can’t be denied, sir
He spied a score – of kegs, or more,
Come floating down the tide, sir.
A sailor too, in jerkin blue,
The strange appearance viewing,
First damned his eyes, in great surprise,
Then said, “Some mischief’s brewing.”

“These kegs now hold the rebels bold,
Pack’d up like pickled herring:
And they’re come down to attack the town,
In this new way of ferrying.”
The soldier flew, the sailor too,
And, scared almost to death, sir,
Wore out their shoes, to spread the news,
And ran til out of breath, sir.

Now up and down throughout the town,
Most frantic scenes were acted:
And some ran here, and some ran there
Like men almost distracted,
Some fire cried, which some denied,
But said the earth had quaked;
And girls and boys, with hideous noise
Ran through the town half-naked.

Sir William he, snug as a flea,
Lay all this time a-snoring,
Nor dreamed of harm, as he lay warm,
In bed with Mrs. Loring.
Now in a fright he starts upright,
Awaked by such a clatter;
He rubs his eyes and boldly cries,
“For God’s sake what’s the matter?”

At his bedside, he then espied,
Sir Erskine in command, sir,
Upon one foot he had one boot,
And t’other in his hand, sir.
“Arise! Arise!” Sir Erskine cries;
“The rebels – more’s the pity –
Without a boat, are all on float,
And ranged before the city.”

The motley crews, in vessels new,
With Satan for their guide, sir,
Packed up in bags or wooden kegs,
Come driving down the tide, sir.
Therefore prepare for bloody war;
These kegs must all be routed;
Or surely we despised shall be,
And British courage doubted.

The royal band now ready stand,
All ranged in dread array, sir,
With stomach stout to see it out,
And make a bloody day, sir.
The cannons roar, from shore to shore,
The small arms make a rattle:
Since wars began I’m sure no man,
E’er saw so strange a battle.

The fish below swam to and fro,
Attacked form every quarter;
Why sure, thought they, the devil’s to pay,
‘Mongst folk above the water.
These kegs ’tis said, tho’ strongly made,
Of rebel staves and hoops, sir,
Could not oppose their powerful foes,
The conquering British troops, sir.

From morn to night, these men of might
Displayed amazing courage;
And when the sun was fairly down,
Retired to sup their porridge:
An hundred men with each a pen,
Or more upon my word, sir,
It is most true, should be too few,
Their valor to record sir.

Such feats did they perform that day
Upon these wicked kegs, sir,
That years to come, if they get home,
They’ll make their boasts and brags, sir.

Spotlight: Zoids – The Gustav

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Welcome back to the wonderful world of Zi, readers! This Spotlight! post is focused once again on a zoid from that magnificent planet in the far reaches of the Milky Way Galaxy. This zoid, however, is not used in combat – unless combat is offered to its pilot. It is a transport zoid.

This is the Gustav. Before we go any further, you pronounce it ‘Gus-tav,’ not ‘Goos-tav.’ The latter is how you enunciate the Scandinavian name, but it is NOT how you say the name of this zoid!!!

Another way to remember the difference is, “Must have Gustav.” Must – Gust. Have – Tav. Get it? Great!

All right, now to the zoid’s specs! The first Gustav of any import was the one Van Flyheight’s friend Moonbay piloted throughout Zoids: Chaotic Century. The zoid is based on a snail and so it is not very fast, especially when it is hauling trailers. I have never seen a Gustav hauling more than two trailers; it appears that two is the limit.

You can carry almost anything on the trailer(s), from another zoid to a container full of ammunition. The armor on the Gustav is what weighs the transport down. While it protects the zoid and the pilot against most missiles and ammunition, the fact is that it weighs several tons! This is the factor which lowers the zoid’s speed the most. The trailers and their cargo add to the weight.

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These are the features which relegate the Gustav to transport status and which make it a less-than-optimal combat zoid. Nevertheless, the zoid can enter battle zones. The pilot just has to know what the zoid can and cannot handle as well as think quickly in a combat or high-adrenaline situation. Moonbay was capable of all of this and then some. That girl, as Irvine was wont to say, could “take care of herself in dangerous situations.” Sometimes it seemed that “dangerous situations” were where she functioned best!

That green antenna which you see projecting from behind the cockpit of the zoid is a sensor array. It allows the Gustav to scan the surrounding area, projecting what it sees to the cockpit. If this antenna is shot off, then the pilot for the Gustav loses scanning and visual capabilities throughout much of the cockpit.

The antennae extending from the non-existent mouth of the Gustav are said in one profile to be mine detectors. I never saw them used as such in Chaotic Century or any following series, but the name makes sense. When Moonbay lost her primary antenna in one episode, she still had partially functioning scanners in her cockpit. So it seems reasonable to conclude that these other antennae serve as some sort of sensory units for the zoid, mine detecting being one of the purposes which they can be tuned to perform.

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Moonbay’s Gustav also came equipped with a hidden double barrel cannon, positioned below the antenna and above the cockpit. The rounds were not high yield and would not do much damage to bigger, predator-based zoids. But anything the size of the Gustav that was also lightly armored would not fare well against this intrepid little cannon. It was hidden behind one of the green “joints” keeping the Gustav’s “shell” together, and Moonbay did not use it all the time. But when she used it, she made her shots count!

Unlike most other zoids, the Gustav does not make sounds like a real animal. This is doubtless because snails in real life do not make any noise. They simply slide along the ground. The most noise I recall hearing from a Gustav was the whirring of its wheels.

This means, obviously, that despite being based on the snail the Gustav does not slide like one. It is instead propelled by two large wheels under both sides of its shell, with two or perhaps four smaller wheels beneath the cockpit. In spite of its low speed, the Gustav can be relatively quick in tight spaces. Moonbay, a former professional racer, was able to coax quite a bit of nimbleness out of her Gustav when fighting within tight quarters.

The cockpit for the Gustav is beneath the orange canopy you see on its head. It can seat up to six people, maybe eight in a pinch. The rear seat is a bench seat; the forward seats are bucket seats. The controls for the Gustav can be moved from one of these seats to the next via a track system in the “dashboard” of the cockpit. This means that the pilot of the Gustav need not remain confined to one particular seat. In fact, there seems to be no law confining a Gustav pilot to the left or right front seat. Moonbay is seen in either of the front bucket seats of the Gustav during Chaotic Century’s run. She prefers neither the left nor the right seat to the other, switching between the two for no apparent reason every episode or so.

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Gustav cockpits are not reinforced, as the rest of the zoid is. Why I cannot say; I only know that one well-placed shot – especially from a high-yield round at a rather short distance – will put a hole in the cockpit or obliterate it altogether. This is something Gustav pilots have to keep in mind, though even then it is not always possible to avoid getting hit.

Most Gustavs have armor that is painted grey/silver. The colors of their cockpits are not always the standard orange; Gustav cockpits within all the Zoids’ television series have been orange, green, and blue. Other colors are likely available as well.

The one Gustav we saw which had a unique armor paint scheme was Moonbay’s. This Gustav was fuchsia, a flamboyant color which grabbed the eye and made the transport stand out from the crowd. Moonbay was like that, too. The zoid’s coloration was just another way that she made people sit up and notice her.

Moonbay’s Gustav retained this color until the second half of Chaotic Century, when she used her zoid to protect Van’s damaged Blade Liger. This resulted in an armor patch for the Gustav which was painted white. To those accustomed to the previous color of the armor, the contrast seemed a bit blinding.

Why did Moonbay leave the patch white instead of having it repainted? It was never brought up in the series, but perhaps it was something she considered a badge of honor. She may have kept the patch white the same way a warrior bears an old scar. Having defended Van when he was down, she might have decided that the difference in color could stand as a testament to the strength of their friendship.

Or maybe she just could not afford to get the patch painted. Knowing Moonbay, though, I seriously doubt that theory. She is an expert at making money, by hook or by crook. It is impossible to believe she could not find a way to acquire enough money to paint the patch.

While it is not confirmed, a Gustav that appears to be Moonbay’s – white patch and all – is noticeable within the background of one of the last New Century Zero episodes. It is a brief glimpse which is never explained, but it is nice to think that some heir of Moonbay’s has kept the zoid down through the centuries.

This is not the only time a Zoids’ series has given a direct nod to a previous one; Fuzors and Genesis have zoids from both Chaotic Century and New Century Zero in them. But there is never an explanation of how they come into the series, nor is there a mention of who their previous pilots were. The palpable closeness between Chaotic Century and New Century Zero, however, makes it easy to think how and why Moonbay’s Gustav ended up in Bit’s era. No other hints are truly necessary.

Before signing off, readers, I would like to present you with one last tidbit related to the Gustav. Moonbay liked to sing during Chaotic Century, regardless of the fact that she never could sing on-key. It was often implied that her singing irritated her traveling companions to no end. But I found that her voice tends to grow on you after a while. Though she always sang slightly off-key, I find myself belting out the lines of her song every now and again.

Below is a video of Moonbay’s full-length debut as a singer. Here she is singing her own song – “I Am a Transporter of the Wasteland” – as she pilots the Gustav in the episode Jump, Zeke! :

I hope you liked it at least a little, readers. For myself, I enjoy hearing and singing this song, since it makes me feel like a “transporter of the wild wasteland” myself!

See you on the battlefield!

The Mithril Guardian

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