Tag Archives: Canada

Book Review: That Fine Summer by Ella Manuel

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That Fine Summer, by Ella Manuel, is a short children’s book set in Fox Cove, Newfoundland. Never heard of Newfoundland? I am not terribly surprised; The Rock, as her people call her, is not the most popular tourist destination in the world.

Newfoundland was discovered by Norsemen and colonized by them at the turn of the Dark Ages, if my memory serves me correctly. But it was not until after Christopher Columbus discovered America that a more permanent colony was set up. Over time English, Scottish, and Irish settlers came to Newfoundland to make their living on the bountiful cod, as well as the natural wealth of the rugged island itself. By the twentieth century, Newfoundland was its own island nation. I do not know the year, but Canada eventually annexed the island through Confederation.

I believe That Fine Summer is set before Confederation, back when Newfoundland was an independent country. In this short novel, Mahala “Malie” Jacobs marches out to her Grandfather’s house in a right fury. When asked what the matter is, she tells him that her mother has made her wear a new dress and a new set of shoes first thing in the morning.

Mahala is a tomboy who likes to go fishing and sailing, things she can only really do with her Grandfather. Her mother, her grandfather’s only child, wants Mahala to act and dress like a proper lady. The only things the two agree on are that they love each other, they love Grandfather, and they are ardent piano players.

That evening, Mahala’s mother springs another unwelcome surprise on her daughter. She tells Malie that they are going to St. John’s, the capitol city of Newfoundland, for the summer.

Malie is thunderstruck. She does not want to go to the city. She wants to stay in Fox Cove with her grandfather, fishing, exploring the beaches, and just having fun in her own native place. She has had it all planned out for the last few months.

This leads to an explosive family argument, and Malie goes to the person who understands her best to solve the dilemma: Grandfather. Grandfather talks to Mahala’s mother and convinces her to let Malie stay with him throughout the summer… That fine summer.

I’ll not spoil the rest of the book for you, readers. It is a sweet little story, with lots of local color and language. If you do not understand the Newfoundland slang, the BREAKWATER edition has a short glossary of Newfoundland expressions included in it. But between the jigs and the reels, the story should be easy for children to read and understand.

Have fun fishing for this book and learning about The Rock, readers!

Image result for That Fine Summer by Ella Manuel

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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

Storm Hawks, a TV Series

From left to right: Junko, Finn, Radarr, Aerrow, Piper, and Stork.

Storm Hawks was a television show made and produced in Canada. The brainchild of Asaph Fipke, the owner and head honcho of the company called Nerd Corps (which he created), is the producer of this series. Storm Hawks was made for children. The age range was seven on up, from what I recall.

Storm Hawks was to cartoons what The Librarians is to adult TV. It swaggered through each and every episode. Rarely did you see a “serious” show in the Storm Hawks series. Tropes and normal ploys were turned on their heads, while ideas this blogger had long ago thought of were suddenly played out for all to see. It really was a fun series, which unfortunately was killed after two seasons.

Storm Hawks takes place on Atmos, the “world of a thousand mountaintop Terras.” In the story, Terras are high spires of rock with arable land on top. The actual surface of Atmos is covered with magma and inhabited largely by huge Lava Worms. These creatures love magma and will happily take a bite out of whatever flies too close to the surface. This is probably the reason why the people of the Atmos refer to the surface as “The Wastelands.”

Humans inhabit the Atmos alongside several different species. There are the Wallops, Rhinoceroid strongmen (and women); the Merbians, froglike humanoids who are, as a general rule, morose and pessimistic. The Blizzarians are a rabbitlike species who speak with thick Canadian accents. There are also phoenixes, humanoid lizards, and several other species I cannot think of off the top of my head at the moment which also inhabit the Atmos.

One of these races which you do not want to run into is the Raptors. Predators, the Raptors live on Terra Bogaton. Vicious and cruel, most of the Raptors we see have not got enough brains to fill a saltshaker. But the leader of the Raptors and ruler of Terra Bogaton is no ordinary lizard. This leader, Repton, has his stupid moments. But more often than not, he is as dangerous as you could wish.

Now every Terra (except Bogaton and one other place) has a Sky Knight squadron protecting it. Since the surface is so deadly, the peoples of the Atmos cannot travel from Terra to Terra by land. They have to make the trips by air. They do this in ships which are powered by crystals native to the Atmos. Those who own or fly such ships from Terra to Terra are mostly legitimate businessmen. Because the sky is the only way to travel, almost all of the Atmos’ cultures respect/revere the sky.

A Sky Knight, who is usually the designated leader of a squadron, is called by this name because of his mode of transportation. Though each squadron generally has some sort of carrier as a mobile home/forward operating base, those things are a little heavy for dog-fighting. Ship-to-ship battles do abound within the series, but Sky Knights and their squadrons need to be able to get up close and personal with their enemies.

Thus Sky Knights and their teams use sky rides to get around when they have to leave the carrier. Sky rides can be motorcycles, scooters, or even buggies which have an alternate mode that allows them to fly. Motorcycle sky rides typically transform into biplanes, with their pilots sitting astride the motorcycle-type fuselage. Scooters are usually equipped with a helicopter rotor, and so they are known as heli-scooters. The one buggie in the series has a similar set up, but that machine is known as a Stork-mobile.

I will explain that later. I promise.

Anyway the sky rides, like the airships and carriers, are crystal powered. There are different kinds of crystals, and they each produce different effects. Crystals which are not used to power the ships or other technology are embedded in the weapons of the Atmosians. To name a few of these crystals: there are wind stones, which generate high winds; velocity crystals, which make sky rides or other flying vehicles go supersonic; there are slime crystals, which produce slime, and leechers steal power from other crystals, exploding once they have reached their capacity. While anyone can use a weapon powered by a crystal, only a Crystal Mage, someone who has closely studied the properties of the many different crystals on the Atmos, can use the rocks as weapons in themselves.

There is just more one factor to cover before we get to the series’ protagonists, and that is the major antagonists of the show. These are the Cyclonians. A villainous people, the Cyclonians are humans whose Empire is based out of the storm-tossed, dark, barren Terra Cyclonia. Their emblem is a hunched vulture, so you can guess how nice this bunch is. Luckily, most of the Cyclonian “Talons” have less brains – and less courage – than Imperial Stormtroopers. They are usually easy to defeat, and the entertainment value in that trouncing is almost always high!

The original Storm Hawks were a Sky Knight squadron sworn to protect all the free Terras on the Atmos. They had no home Terra, like the Absolute Zeroes (the Blizzarian squadron), or the Red Eagles (guardians of Terra Atmosia), and they were definitely nothing like the Rex Guardians (a stuck-up squadron from Terra Rex).

The previous leader of the old Storm Hawks, Lightning Strike, decided to rid the Atmos of the threat of Terra Cyclonia once and for all. Uniting the kingdoms and their Sky Knight squadrons, he and his Storm Hawks led a huge assault on Cyclonia to free the races of the Atmos at last.

But Lightning Strike was betrayed and presumably killed by his own wingman. This man then destroyed the rest of the squadron and became the Cyclonian Empire’s champion. Henceforward, this traitor was known as the Dark Ace.

The rest of the assault fell apart after the defeat of the Storm Hawks, and all hope was lost… Until the new squadron was formed.

The new Storm Hawks squadron consists of six main characters: Aerrow, Piper, Finn, Junko, Stork, and Radarr. They plan to fulfill the dream of Lightning Strike and his team by defeating the Cyclonian Empire once and for all. There is just one slight snag for most people about this…

Four of the six new Storm Hawks are fourteen year olds!!!

Aerrow, the last descendent (somehow) of Lightning Strike, has become the youngest Sky Knight in history. Aerrow is the leader of his ragtag squadron by mutual consent and the fact that he is their Sky Knight. Aerrow is neither wealthy nor well known, being an orphan since before the series began. So he and his team are using the patched-up, old equipment of the original Storm Hawks. As you may have guessed, this means the team’s tech is almost always on the verge of falling apart. Not an episode goes by where they do not have to repair something as they do battle with the Cyclonians or with their other enemies.

Every Sky Knight has a unique maneuver they can pull off using the crystals in their weapons. During the stress of his first engagement, Aerrow discovers his particular maneuver is the Lightning Claw – an apt trick for the heir to Lightning Strike. Genial and fun-loving, Aerrow is also fierce, brave, and thinks fast on his feet. He does not run from a fight except to save others. He is determined to finish what Lightning Strike started; he wants to take down Terra Cyclonia. An ambitious plan – but that is also in keeping with Aerrow’s daring spirit.

Aerrow’s second-in-command is Piper. The navigator and tactician for the squadron, she is also their Crystal Mage. Self-taught, Piper is a fourteen-year old orphan, just like Aerrow. She is a skilled fighter, and her ability with crystals is only half of what makes her dangerous. Piper thinks on her feet, and when she cannot grab a crystal to dissolve her problems, she will use whatever she can get her hands on. Her one weakness is her resolution to make the “absolutely perfect plan.” This often puts Piper at odds with the next member of the team…

Finn, the Storm Hawks’ sharpshooter, is fourteen years old and an orphan, just like Aerrow and Piper. Finn does not practice hand-to-hand combat as often as Aerrow and Piper do, nor is he as well versed in the lore of the Atmos as they are. While Piper is arguably the member of the team who is an expert on almost everything known about the Atmos, Aerrow is no slouch in the reading department. In contrast, Finn most certainly is, and this is what irritates Piper.

Plus, Finn believes he is a chick magnet and irresistible to the ladies. For the most part, this is his own fantasy; in a few places the girls do just adore him. But the rest of the time, they ignore him. This is another source of Piper’s perpetual exasperation with him.

These character flaws aside, Finn is an excellent shot. He does miss his target from time to time, but for the most part he is a fair sharpshooter. He might be better if he practiced a little more – but that will not be happening any time soon, I think.

Finn’s best friend and the next member of the team is the Wallop Junko. Fourteen years of age, Junko is different from the others in that he does have a family. But they do not see eye-to-eye, in part because Junko is not your typical Wallop. Wallops tend to be something like Klingons: they respect and respond only to displays of strength. Even their women can knock down buildings when they have a mind to do so. They tend to yell a lot and have violent tempers.

Junko is not like that at all. Soft-spoken, able to Zen out, and very friendly, Junko’s behavior usually borders on childish. He also tends to apologize after punching someone. The mechanic and “heavy ballistics” guy on the team, Junko maintains all the sky rides and the Storm Hawks’ carrier. He is not particularly intelligent; a lot of phrases, nuances, and sarcastic comments tend to fly right over his head. A gentle giant, Junko loves his friends to bits and would do anything for them – even the eternally annoying Finn.

Stork is the next member of the team. A froglike Merb, Stork is almost never happy. Eighteen years old, he is already a professional pessimist and doomsayer. To give you an idea of his character, his catchphrase is, “We’re doomed.” Every chance he gets, Stork predicts death, despair, horrors, monsters, plagues, destruction, death – wait, did I say that already? He is obsessively paranoid as well, and quite possibly a hypochondriac in the bargain.

The Condor

Stork pilots the squadron’s carrier, the Condor. Absolutely in love with the vessel, Stork rarely leaves the ship’s bridge. He fusses about the paint getting scratched and, if you value your life, do not ever do serious damage to the Condor. Prone to flight rather than fight, Stork will turn into a raving lunatic and attack anyone who does great harm to “his” precious ship.

His paranoia means that Stork has a number of booby traps set up throughout the Condor, and he is adding to them daily. He also has a large cache of gadgets and gizmos stored away for the inevitable apocalypse, as well as maps of and books about the most dangerous places on the Atmos. Stork’s sky ride, the Stork-mobile, is the one sky ride based on a buggy. It is outfitted with everything from unbreakable tires to an ejector seat, and the only vehicle of its kind in the skies.

The last member of the Storm Hawks is Radarr. No one is really sure just what Radarr is. Voiced by Asaph Fipke himself, Radarr cannot speak English. Instead, he chirps, growls, snarls, shrieks – and, very rarely, screams. Radarr does NOT appreciate being called a pet. He prefers the term “mission specialist,” and has seemingly been Aerrow’s companion for as long as the young Sky Knight can remember.

Radarr has to communicate with the team through charades, hand gestures, mimicry, and action. The Storm Hawks understand him most of the time, but occasionally they misunderstand or misinterpret what he is trying to convey altogether. No one knows how old Radarr is or where he came from. He once wanted to go to the Terra of Big Bananas for vacation, but was outvoted by the rest of the team. Later, someone referred to him as a Sky Monkey, but this might merely have been meant as an insult to him (indirectly) and Aerrow (directly).

Radarr is, in fact, a true mission specialist. His combat capabilities are excellent and his ability to think tactically is higher than that exhibited by any other animal shown in the series. Although he looks like an animal, it is quite possible that he is as intelligent as any human, Wallop, Merb, et al on the Atmos. He is also a capable mechanic, able to make repairs to Aerrow’s sky ride midflight and even rebuild an entire vehicle from a rusted hunk he found in the jungle.

Radarr spends most of his time as Aerrow’s copilot. He fills the role for Aerrow that the Dark Ace once held for Lightning Strike. When Aerrow jumps off of his sky ride to get into close combat with the Dark Ace or another opponent, Radarr will fly the machine until Aerrow is ready to hop back on. He has proven he cares to some degree about the rest of his teammates, but Radarr certainly loves Aerrow the most out of all of them.   It is not quite a pet/owner relationship; theirs seems to be more like a brotherly bond, as weird as that may sound to some.

Good grief, I have practically spoiled the series for you by now, readers! There is nothing left for you to do other than look it up yourselves! Sadly, as I said before, Storm Hawks was canceled after its second season. Though Mr. Fipke expressed a desire to continue the series, either through animated movies or even comic books, he does not appear to have had any real luck on that front so far. This is a real shame since the series was a lot of fun.

Which you will discover if you look it up! And remember – !

            “For us, the sky is never the limit!”

The Mithril Guardian

Funny (and Fun) Songs

I cannot seem to tell a joke – even when I am repeating one, I can end up with crickets chirping in the background!   As they say, if you have to explain it, it is not a joke.

But I still have a sense of humor (thank God!), and I enjoy a good laugh. These are some of the songs that make me laugh, giggle, and smile. Hopefully, readers, they can do the same for you!

Good listening!

The Mithril Guardian

Sittin’ Up With the Dead

Weird Al Yankovic: The Saga Begins

Can You Picture That? 

Mahna Mahna

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Chattanooga Choo Choo

Wake Up, Little Susie

The Frigate That Flies

Splish-Splash (I Was Taking a Bath)

Word Crimes

One-Eyed, One-Horned Flyin’ Purple People Eater

Fat

American Pie

Eat It

King of Spain by Moxy Fruvous

 

The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late

The ‘Vette (Comedy Skit by Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers)

Spotlight: Transformers – Optimus Prime

The Original Optimus Prime

The Original Optimus Prime

A friend of mine is very into the Transformers franchise. I would be remiss if I did not admit that part of this fascination is my fault; I was – and remain – a fan of the Transformers mythos myself. I have not abandoned the franchise, though I must admit, I think my enthusiasm for it has cooled a fair bit. The writers for Transformers, whether they are working on the TV shows or its other media, seem to be writing things higgledy-piggledy these days. It makes the stories somewhat confusing.

Anyway, my friend’s favorite Transformer is the Autobot leader, Optimus Prime. (This post is written about that character in part to please my friend.) I can relate to my friend’s love of the Autobot leader, in a small way. He was never my favorite Autobot, but I could not imagine any other leader for the Autobots than him.

I first got to know Optimus, really and truly, through the Japanese series Transformers: Armada. It came out around 2001, having been translated into English in Canada, much as the Zoids series were. Though Transformers is an American story idea, it is very popular in Japan as well. The Japanese have created at least four TV series for the franchise (that I know of).

The voice actor for Optimus Prime in the Armada series was Gary Chalk. A Canadian actor, Mr. Chalk’s voice was the one that I thought fit Optimus best. Since hearing Peter Cullen voice the character again, Mr. Chalk has slipped into second place.

I bring up Mr. Chalk because, as I said, he was the Optimus I knew and loved for – ooh, goodness, eight or so years. He voiced Optimus over three TV series that I watched almost regularly when they came out: Transformers: Armada, Transformers: Energon, and Transformers: Cybertron. (I lost interest in Energon after one episode, and so I stopped watching it. Armada and Cybertron I watched from beginning to end.)

Voices are something which has always enthralled me. I can remember, when I was five years old, listening to people on TV, on the radio, or in the room just because I liked the sound of their voices. The words blurred together and became meaningless as I simply sat and listened to the tone and resonance of their voices.

In the case of Mr. Chalk’s performance as Optimus Prime, his calm, gentle, fatherly manner in Armada struck me deeply. I came to regard him rather like I regarded Professor X of the X-Men. But my affection for Optimus was and is much deeper and warmer than it has been or ever will be for the Prof. (Sorry, Charles.)

That brings me to the point of this post. I do not know how others view Optimus Prime, but he seems to have the same sort of publicity problem these days that Cap does. Once, he had no such trouble at all, but I will mention that in a bit.

Since the 1984 series, Optimus Prime has transformed into a red, white, and blue truck. The truck model has varied – he was Freightliner in the original series, but over the years he has also transformed into firetrucks, Peterbuilts, and now a Western Star with six outrageous smoke stacks in Transformers: Age of Extinction. But his paint scheme has never shifted from his original red, white, and blue – even when the red dominates the other two colors.

This tells me that Optimus was conceived as a ra-ra America kind of character. To some degree, the writers have left him that way. His paint scheme is still red, white, and blue, after all. The only other character in a modern franchise that wears the same colors and is as popular is Captain America. Just like Cap, Optimus values friends, freedom, and fidelity above all else. He is a kind, compassionate leader who respects life. And not just Cybertronian life; Optimus has always taken special interest in and care of the humans who interact with the Autobots and Decepticons in the franchise serials.

Peter Cullen, the voice actor for Optimus Prime in the original series as well as the new shows Transformers Prime, Transformers: Robots in Disguise, and Transformers: Rescue Bots likes to tell the story of how he became Optimus Prime. Mr. Cullen says he based Optimus’ voice after the voice of his older brother, a veteran U.S. Marine captain who served in Vietnam.

The day that Mr. Cullen was to audition for the part of Optimus Prime, he spoke to his older brother, Larry. When Larry was told his younger brother was going to voice a truck, both Larry and Peter Cullen got a laugh out of it. Mr. Cullen has since admitted that at the time they “had no idea” what they were in for. After having their good laugh, Captain Cullen sobered and asked his brother to portray the character not as a typical shouting Hollywood hero, but as someone “strong enough to be gentle.”

His older brother’s request stayed with Mr. Cullen, and when he read over the script for the first episode of Transformers, he said it was like hearing Larry Cullen speak. So he imitated his brother’s voice, adding a dash of John Wayne just to make it interesting, and Optimus Prime rolled into the hearts of viewers everywhere. Children all over the U.S. wrote letters to Optimus Prime and sent them to the studio, which for some bizarre reason never passed the notes on to Mr. Cullen.

My point in bringing this up, readers, is the request Peter Cullen’s brother made of him: “Be strong enough to be gentle.”

I think that this is why I have always had a particular fondness for Optimus Prime. Even when Gary Chalk was voicing Optimus, the character did not lack for gentleness in his speech. Or at least, he did not in Transformers: Armada. In the latter two series, Energon and Cybertron, Mr. Chalk stopped imitating Mr. Cullen after a point. He did not lose much of the gentleness in his voice, but his characterization of Optimus became more… in tune with popular attitudes. This is something Mr. Cullen prefers to avoid when voicing Optimus Prime. I do not know why Mr. Chalk began reading his lines this way; I simply know that his voice changed over the years. Not by much, but it did.

It is this strength, this firm but gentle quality which Optimus Prime has that I remember and love most. This is the reason I have never lost my particular love for the character, though I have lost my patience with his, ummm…..handlers. (Mr. Cullen has never been among those, thankfully.) When asked to voice Optimus in comedy skits, he has declined, stating he has too much respect for the character to treat him so trivially. It is too bad other, similar characters do not have performers who treat them so!!!

Optimus’ character is rooted in “Peace through strength.” He is a kind character who maintains his dignity in everything he does. Optimus Prime is not only strong enough to fight Megatron and the Decepticons; he is strong enough to be gentle to those weaker than himself, whether they are humans or Autobots.

This is not quite the post I hoped it would be, readers. I seem to have a great deal of trouble describing Optimus, much as some people have a hard time discussing Captain America. It is perhaps because they are so alike; there is never a doubt where Cap stands on an issue. Just as you never have to guess where Optimus will be standing in an argument – at the head of his Autobots.

I still regard Optimus the same way I did as a child. He is a father-type character, one whose strength of arms is equaled only by the strength in his spark. There is really nothing more to say.

Autobots, roll out!

The Mithril Guardian

Transformers Prime

Marie Madeleine Jarret de Verchères – The Canadian Girl Who Saved a Fort

220px-Vercheres

Marie Madeleine Jarret de Verchères is a heroine of Canada whose mighty deeds have been largely forgotten over time. The daughter of French aristocrats who had settled in Verchères (now part of Quebec, Canada), Madeleine grew up in a fort along the St. Lawrence River.

In October of 1692, Madeleine and her younger brothers, Louis and Alexander, were at the Verchères fort. Their father was away from the fort and their mother had just gone to Quebec on business, taking her younger children with her. Most of the men in the fort were out working in the fields, and many of the fort’s soldiers were standing guard over them. The fierce Iroquois, a tribe of Native Americans who hated the French, had been attacking French settlements during this time and it was unwise for settlers to go outside their colonies alone or without arms.

October 22, 1692, began calmly and quietly, as had the day before. But it was not to remain quiet. Midmorning had barely arrived when a large band of Iroquois braves suddenly attacked the fort. Most of the male settlers were killed where they worked in the fields, and the guards died similarly. As the oldest member of the Verchères family present in the fort, Madeleine assumed command of the people there. She closed the fort’s gates and told her younger brothers and an old soldier, who had remained inside the fort due to his age, to take up arms and prepare to defend the settlement.

Rushing to the blockhouse powder room to get a gun, Madeleine found that there were two other soldiers, whose duties had kept them in the fort, in the powder room already. To her horror and disgust, she learned that at least one of the soldiers was preparing to blow up the powder room in order to destroy the fort. This was to prevent the Iroquois from getting inside the colony, where they would kill them and the remaining settlers – almost all of whom were women with infants and young children.

Madeleine gave the two soldiers a furious scolding, reprimanding them harshly for their cowardice in despairing of their situation. She ordered the two out of the blockhouse, then got the gun and powder she had come for and left. She directed the defense of the fort, her only forces being her two brothers, the old soldier, and a few other able settlers. The little group stood off the Iroquois until help arrived from Montreal a week after the siege began.

Some reports and retellings of Madeleine de Verchères’ story say that she did not sleep for the first two days of the siege. They also say that she went about her warrior’s duties with a pleasant smile and attitude to keep up the courage of the other women in the fort, who were not only afraid for their lives and the lives of their children but were also grieving for their husbands and sons who had been slain in the fields by the Iroquois.

At the time of the attack Madeleine de Verchères was fourteen years old.

Madeleine de Verchères fades from history after this event. Little is known about the rest of her life other than the facts that she was awarded a pension by the French crown for her heroism and that she married a man named Pierre Thomas Tarieu de la Pérade in 1706. It is said that Madeleine again showed her strength of character by saving her husband’s life in 1722 when he was assaulted by an Indian. It appears that her marriage remained childless.

She died August 8, 1747, and a statue of her stands in Verchères, the only reminder of the fourteen year old colonial girl who led the defense of her family’s settlement – and won.

May she never be forgotten!

Until next time!

The Mithril Guardian

References:

Encyclopedia Americana: Vol. 28, 2002, page 16.

Madeleine Takes Command by Ethel C. Brill.

The Girl Who Saved a Fort

220px-Vercheres

Marie Madeleine Jarret de Verchères is a heroine of Canada whose mighty deeds have been largely forgotten over time. The daughter of French aristocrats who had settled in Verchères (now part of Quebec, Canada), Madeleine grew up in a fort along the St. Lawrence River.

In October of 1692, Madeleine and her younger brothers, Louis and Alexander, were at the Verchères fort. Their father was away from the fort and their mother had just gone to Quebec on business, taking her younger children with her. Most of the men in the fort were out working in the fields, and many of the fort’s soldiers were standing guard over them. The fierce Iroquois, a tribe of Native Americans who hated the French, had been attacking French settlements during this time and it was unwise for settlers to go outside their colonies alone or without arms.

October 22, 1692, began calmly and quietly, as had the day before. But it was not to remain quiet. Midmorning had barely arrived when a large band of Iroquois braves suddenly attacked the fort. Most of the male settlers were killed where they worked in the fields, and the guards died similarly. As the oldest member of the Verchères family present in the fort, Madeleine assumed command of the people there. She closed the fort’s gates and told her younger brothers and an old soldier, who had remained inside the fort due to his age, to take up arms and prepare to defend the settlement.

Rushing to the blockhouse powder room to get a gun, Madeleine found that there were two other soldiers, whose duties had kept them in the fort, in the powder room already. To her horror and disgust, she learned that at least one of the soldiers was preparing to blow up the powder room in order to destroy the fort. This was to prevent the Iroquois from getting inside the colony, where they would kill them and the remaining settlers – almost all of whom were women with infants and young children.

Madeleine gave the two soldiers a furious scolding, reprimanding them harshly for their cowardice in despairing of their situation. She ordered the two out of the blockhouse, then got the gun and powder she had come for and left. She directed the defense of the fort, her only forces being her two brothers, the old soldier, and a few other able settlers. The little group stood off the Iroquois until help arrived from Montreal a week after the siege began.

Some reports and retellings of Madeleine de Verchères’ story say that she did not sleep for the first two days of the siege. They also say that she went about her warrior’s duties with a pleasant smile and attitude to keep up the courage of the other women in the fort, who were not only afraid for their lives and the lives of their children but were also grieving for their husbands and sons who had been slain in the fields by the Iroquois.

At the time of the attack Madeleine de Verchères was fourteen years old.

Madeleine de Verchères fades from history after this event. Little is known about the rest of her life other than the facts that she was awarded a pension by the French crown for her heroism and that she married a man named Pierre Thomas Tarieu de la Pérade in 1706. It is said that Madeleine again showed her strength of character by saving her husband’s life in 1722 when he was assaulted by an Indian. It appears that her marriage remained childless.

She died August 8, 1747, and a statue of her stands in Verchères, the only reminder of the fourteen year old colonial girl who led the defense of her family’s settlement – and won.

May she never be forgotten!

Until next time!

The Mithril Guardian

References:

Encyclopedia Americana: Vol. 28, 2002, page 16.

Madeleine Takes Command by Ethel C. Brill.