Tag Archives: singing

Lights, Camera – ABBA!

Yes, I saw the film Mamma Mia! No, that is not where I first heard ABBA. Did you know ABBA was offered about a billion dollars to go on tour again, but they all turned the offer down? Talk about class!

Want to know something else interesting? Not one member of ABBA could speak English when they were originally performing. They memorized and sang the words for their songs, but they did not actually understand English. You would never know that when you heard them perform, though! 🙂

Okay, history lesson over. Go have fun thanking ABBA for the music!

The Mithril Guardian

 

Dancing Queen

 

Knowing Me, Knowing You

 

Take A Chance on Me

 

Mamma Mia

 

Lay All Your Love (On Me)

 

Super Trooper

 

I Have a Dream

 

S. O. S.

 

Fernando

 

Voulez-Vous

 

One of Us

 

The Name of the Game

 

Thank You for the Music

 

Waterloo

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Spotlight: Sing – Gunter

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You can tell that I really enjoyed Illumination Entertainment’s Sing, can’t you, readers?

In all honesty, when I first saw the trailers, I did not think I would like the film. But then I began to take an interest in the trailers and found myself getting more and more curious about the story. Finally, I had the desire to watch the movie, and I convinced some friends to view it with me after it came out on DVD.

My post Sing: Of Hope and Optimism, covers my opinion of the show’s plot. In this Spotlight! post, I want to focus on one of the best characters in the film. And no, he is not my favorite; that honor lands squarely on Rosita’s shoulders. Even during the trailers, she was the one I “connected” with on sight.

Gunter is a European pig who somehow came to live in the city that is home to the other characters in Sing. Judging by his name, he is either from one of the Scandinavian countries or he is German. He has an accent that sounds like it is from that region. He also likes to wear sparkly body suits for some reason – probably because he has no qualms about showing off his “major piggy power” to the world whether they like it or not.

Anyway, after we watched the film, my friends and I fell to discussing it. Eventually we asked each other who were our favorite characters. In the process, we all discovered that we liked Gunter – even when some of us were sure at the start of the film that we would hate him.

I got to thinking about this a little while ago. Though my friends and each had a different favorite character in the film, we also had a lot of affection for Gunter. I wondered why this would be and came up with a possible answer some time ago.

Gunter is a hopeful pig, as I said in Sing: Of Hope and Optimism. Anyone who tells you that hope is not an attractive virtue has to be lying through their teeth. The reason that I say this is because I think that this quality of Gunter’s is one of the reasons that my friends and I like him so much.

As I said in the previous post, Gunter never loses hope. Now hope is not some ethereal, blithe belief that sunshine and rainbows will follow you everywhere you go. It is not a flimsy outlook that makes you go around smiling like the Joker every minute of every day. As I said before, real hope is the desire for some good you do not have but which you want to obtain, and which you are willing to stay the course to achieve.

Things happen in Sing that make Gunter sad, that make his face fall. But the key thing here is that he does not let these things keep him down. He can handle disappointment just as well as he can handle success; one will make him sad while the other will make him happy. But the fact is that failing or having a streak of bad luck is not going to break his spirit – and that is an amazingly great characteristic to have, readers.

This is the other thing that is so wonderful about Gunter. He has a palpable zest for life. From his enthusiastic dance moves to his belting out the lyrics as he sings to the energetic encouragement he offers his fellow competitors/performers, Gunter exhibits a contagious joi de vive that cannot help but bring a smile to the viewer’s face. He does not enter the competition for the money as much as he does for the fun. With the exceptions of Mike and, to a lesser extent, Ash and Johnny, none of the other performers audition to win the prize, either. It might have caught their eye initially, but for the most part they came to the theater to do something they enjoy.

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And boy, does Gunter enjoy performing!

Gunter also shows a sense of empathy and kindness in the movie, such as when he helps Rosita comfort Ash after her boyfriend dumps her. He does it again when Rosita succumbs to her self-doubt and leaves in the middle of rehearsal. He is, in many ways, the perfect counterpoint to Rosita, who has become so accustomed to being in the background that she stresses out about finally entering the spotlight. Not one to be part of the stage scenery, Gunter does his best to encourage Rosita to come out of her shell and strut her stuff. Thanks to Mike, his first attempts do not work very well, but Rosita later shows an appreciation for his efforts after she returns to the stage.

These things all add to Gunter’s natural sense of fun, which makes him such a happy performer. He does not care if people think he looks silly or stupid or like a dancing bowl of Jell-O. He is going to have his fun, and people can either have fun with him or laugh at him. He will shake off the mockery and laugh with those who laugh with him.

All these qualities come together to make Gunter a likeable character who could qualify as the bonding, emotional heart of the cast. At first he seems unimportant, but by the end of the movie, you wonder how any of the characters would get along without him.

He is one of the big selling points in Sing for this reason, and this is why I would say he is probably my second or third favorite character in the film. In a world where hope, fun, joy, and simple kindness are mocked and derided, it is nice to have a character that possesses all these traits and does not give a fig whether or not others care for these things or him. We need more Gunters in the world, readers. They make it a better place by far.

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Brave-ly Done (More Disney Music)

Every child is influenced by the entertainment they are shown. I am fortunate in that I saw many Disney movies as a child. I do not like every Disney movie out there, but most of them are hard to dislike. After all, Walt Disney was not in the habit of writing trash. He was one of those rare entertainers who earned money as a reward for telling a good story, not telling any old story just to make a dollar. *Sigh.* We could use a few more storytellers like that these days!

Anyway, readers, here are some more Disney songs which I would like to share with you. I hope you enjoy them! After all, it’s…

“A Whole New World!”

The Mithril Guardian

Brave

Touch the Sky

Aladdin

Arabian Nights

One Jump Ahead

Friend Like Me

Prince Ali

A Whole New World

 

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

I’m Wishing

A Smile and a Song

Whistle While You Work

Heigh-Ho!

Scrub in the Tub

The Dance in the Dwarfs’ Cottage

 

Robin Hood

Ooo De Lally

Love Goes On

A Pox on that Phony King of England

Not In Nottingham

 

 

The Jungle Book

Elephant Patrol

Bare Necessities

I Want to Be Like You

That’s What Friends Are For

 

Mulan

You’ll Bring Honor to Us All

Reflection

I’ll Make a Man Out of You

A Girl Worth Fighting For

True to Your Heart

 

 

The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride

We Are One

Upendi

Not One of Us

Love Will Find A Way

 

(I know it’s not technically a Disney movie, but they are the ones who translated it into English, so….)

The Secret World of Arietty

 I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman

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   I Hear America Singing

by Walt Whitman

    I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe
and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off
work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deck-
hand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing
as he stands,
The woodcutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morn-
ing, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work,
or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young
fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

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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Words

Words.  They are such simple little things.  They are as common as sunshine, rain, and breathing.

Words.  We forget what they mean because we use them so often.  Glibly, idly, sharply, softly, happily, or angrily, most everyone uses words to communicate.  But do we really think about the words we use?  Do we ever pause to consider if the word that leaps immediately to mind in a conversation is the word we want to convey our idea as exactly as possible to another person?  I try to do that, but I do not always succeed.

I have favorite words.  I guess everyone has a favorite word or two.  The words I favor are words I enjoy pondering occasionally.  And the list of favorites grows all the time.  But today I thought I would list only a few of them, in the interest of sharing them without overwhelming everyone with reams and reams of those simple little things we call “words.”

 1. “Star”

Star is a small word.  Rhymes with “far.”  Maybe that is why I like it so much.  It makes me think of possibilities, of that something that is just out there, waiting to be seen, experienced – it reminds me that it is just over there.  Just out there…

 2. “Lady

I have always liked this word.  It sparkles, sort of like a star would.  I think I have liked it since I saw Lady and the Tramp.  A little, two syllable word that rolls off the tongue.  It is a small word, but it can often convey a wealth of respect.

 3. “Roustabouts”

This is a fun word.  It reminds me of the German word ‘raus,’ which means ‘out.’  A roustabout is any unskilled or semiskilled laborer.  It also means “one who stirs up trouble,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The term is most often applied to oil field workers.  It is also the common name for circus workers, those who raise the tents and handle the animals and equipment for the performers.  “Roustabouts” makes me think of lots of people jumping into a job and having fun doing it.  It is, as I said, a fun word.

 4. “Silver”

This is a word that ripples like water in moonlight; hearing it said, I could care less about the metal it names.  I have seen so many trinkets in Hollywood movies that I often wonder if real gold or silver would rouse any avaricious urges in me.

Regardless, the word still sings to me as Prince Valiant’s sword did, with the music of a distant, little bell.  I hope it always does.

 5. “Storm”

Fury.  Beauty.  Strength.  Power.  Chaos.  That is what the word “storm” brings to my mind.  I have been witness to a lot of thunderstorms in my lifetime.  Some have been absolutely terrifying experiences.  Others have been passing moments of pure excitement.  Whether I ever see another one or no, “storm” will always bring to me the roiling, tumultuous magnificence of those fierce thunderstorms I have seen.

 6. “Singing”

I enjoy music, as everyone should know by now.  But it is not a particular song I am mentioning here.  No, I am talking about the label we give to words someone’s voice sets to music:  “singing.”  If anything else ever gave me the idea of what having wings would feel like, it would be singing.  Somehow, when words are combined with the proper rhythm, I just want to fly.

Of course, the feeling and the reality hardly complement each other, since I have no wings with which to fly.  But someday I may not have that obstacle.

 7. “Trust”

This word rhymes nicely with ‘rust.’ And oh, how quickly “trust” can “rust” away when it is misused or taken under false pretenses.  I would much rather have trust than all the jewels in Smaug’s stolen hoard.  This one small word, delicate as old metal, is more precious (pardon the pun) than even the brilliant Arkenstone of Erebor to me.  And yet I think you could more easily discover a hundred Arkenstones in a day than you could find simple little “trust” in a lifetime.

 8. “Hope”

“Hope” is a word I was ruminating on almost a year ago now, when I was contemplating what my first blog posts should be about.

“Hope” is a small word, like most of the others I have so far listed.  Say it quickly or carelessly, and its lifespan is as short as frail glass.  Say it carefully and thoughtfully, though, and you may find that it lingers in the air somewhat longer than a snowflake in mid-August.  “Hope” is a small but stubborn word.  It always manages to pop up in a sentence somewhere, “I hope they have the book I want at the library!”; “I hope I win the lottery!”; “I hope it doesn’t rain!”; etc.

It peeks out at us the way that elves peek out at the heroes in fairytales from behind trees.  Elusive, spritely, and full of cheer, it can also be as stubborn as a taut rope.  When all seems bleak, dark, and lost, something keeps us tied tightly to the possibility of tomorrow.  Something small, fragile, but durable as a diamond:  “hope.”

 9. “Life”

The most mysterious small word in the English language – second only to “love” – is, possibly, “life.”  So many people struggle to define this small, four letter, and one syllable word.  Even biologists, those students of “life,” cannot agree on its exact meaning.  What is “life”?

It is a word I taste more than I see or hear it.  It has a dewy, moist taste.  This word settles on my mind, when I sit down and really think about it, like mist settles on my tongue on a foggy day.  Mystifying, yet electrifying, full of risk yet beckoning with promise.  As I think about “life” I suddenly feel as though there are no boundaries in the world.  As if I could just get up and run out the door to the endless horizon and keep going, a la Bilbo Baggins.  But if I ever give myself the chance to answer that seductive urge, I may just leave behind more than my pocket handkerchief!  There are moments when I want to leave behind all necessities and just rush off after that tempting something whispering to me from the distance.  Someday, I might just chase after it.

And then I will completely understand what Louis L’Amour meant when he told his daughter, “Adventure is just a romantic word for trouble.”  J

These are a few of my favorite words, words I enjoy meditating on in quiet moments.  What are the words that you, my readers, enjoy?

Later,

The Mithril Guardian