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Sat Sep 18 19:01:21 PDT 2010

For Lake Superior and all of its sailors
The nibiinaabewag dirged as their master prepared
To drown more and so increase their numbers.
With a load of iron ore - 26,000 tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That big ship was famed and a prize of be claimed
By the manitou's gales striking early.
Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
The ship left fully loaded for Cleveland
And later that night when the ships bell rang
It was Mishibizhiw's winds they were feeling.
A hero of fame Suicide Squid by code name
Was recovering in those same waters
Dr Calamari's defeat had left him quite weak
But the Cabaret's fall was well savoured.
The dire songs of merfolk and the rise of the storm
Caught the Ten Limbed Avengers attention
But the nibiinaabewag shoals weren't his overall foes
There'd be a god to raise waves quite so threatening.
With the weather set in things looked mighty grim
A wounded hero and a dark god to be confronted
For it was false, what they say, that they could've made Whitefish Bay
If they'd just fled with all engines full running.
The horned panther god rose up from the lake bed
And sent his minions to capture the hero
Fighting past slave manitou circled 'round ship and crew
Squiddy climbed aboard and spoke to the captain.
Athwart pitch, roll and yaw the Squid stood straight and tall
And from the main deck called out a challenge
The lives of the crew and of the ship's cat too
With the symbolic chess match spoke of in legend.
Mishibizhiw agreed and then set the game's stage
With a localised field of clear water
In the eye of the storm the freighter sat calm
A stable place to game with black and white pebbles.
As the battle played long the spirits saw none
Of the slow crawl of the Edmund Fitzgerald
With her engines on low and with movement so slow
And the storm wall hiding the approach of the shoreline.
To Mishibizhiw's dismay the Squid won the game
And in his arrogance reneged on his promise
The storm wall closed in and tossed the ship once again
While the nibiinaabewag howled with their blood thirst.
At this prearranged point the great engines where gunned
And the ship made a dash for safe harbour
While the Squid did his bit and crash tackled midship
Mishibizhiw to keep him distracted.
They fell over the side as the freighter rolled wild
With the merfolk further churning the waters
The ship limped into shore and although damaged some more
No loss of life was thereafter reported.
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy.
When ask the new dead: 'To whom do gods bow their head?'
The answer is short and quite simple
Suicide Squid, they do say, won that right on that day
When he rescued the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Author's notes:
     Written for the 16th High Concept Challenge: The Epic Poem.
     There are a number of background details for this one.
     Technically this isn't a poem, it's a filk.  I'm lousy at poetry, 
mainly because I'm too unskilled (either from laziness or innate 
inability, take your pick) to easily decipher metre.  So instead of 
creating something from scratch, I took an existing song whose beat I 
was already familiar with and changed some of the wording.  That said, 
I was pleasantly surprised to discover some of the cheats that 
Lightfoot made with his own rhymes, since it makes me feel less guilty 
about my own crappy scansion.
     The name 'The Rescue Of The Edmund Fitzgerald' comes from a throw-
away line in the Champions RPG supplement _Millennium City_ about pop 
culture songs featuring superheroes.
     Until I began researching for this story I had been unaware that 
the Edmund Fitzgerald had been accompanied by a second freighter, the 
Arthur M. Anderson, of which the original Lightfoot song makes no direct 
mention.  This story compounds the situation, since the shape of the 
narrative not only doesn't refer to the Anderson but actively infers 
that the Fitzgerald was alone.
     The Chippewa mythology as used here has been bent, folded, spindled 
and mutilated almost as much as Gordon Lightfoot's song lyrics.  
Mishibizhiw is indeed an ill-regarded manitou who lives underwater and 
causes drownings, but I included powers to cause storms and early 
winters that make him more like the winter spirit Gaabiboonikaan.  The 
Nibiinaabewag and niibinaabekwewag ('watermen' and 'waterwomen') are 
merfolk, but I decided that the ones that Mishibizhiw would use are 
creepy undead/demonic versions that he creates from the bodies of his 
victims after he's eaten their souls.
     Suicide Squid...  You know, there was a time when I wouldn't have 
felt the need to explain Suicide Squid on a rec.arts.comics.* newsgroup. 
But it was twenty years ago, and the Squiddy awards haven't been held 
since 2005...
     Back in 1991 someone posted a question to rec.arts.comics.misc 
asking about events in the then-current _Suicide Squad_ comic - but 
mistyped it as 'Suicide Squid'.  Whereupon other posters ran with the 
joke and began to explain in great detail what was happening in the 
totally imaginary Suicide Squid comic.  The Ten Tentacled Avenger Of The 
Deep went on to become the mascot of rec.arts.comics.misc, and had their 
annual awards (The Squiddies) named after him.  Ty Templeton did the 
artwork for the t-shirts.
     Within the Looniverse, the Legion of Net.Heroes member Squid Boy 
was the sidekick of Suicide Squid, and is a long time member of the team 
that started out as the Secret Dvanders and later became Dvandom Force 
(in the _Constellation_ and _Dvandom Force_ series).  When Squid Boy 
died (the second time), Suicide Squid sacrificed his existence in the 
Looniverse to bring Squid Boy back to life (_Constellation_ #29 [cover 
date June 1994), and Squid Boy subsequently took the code name of 
Squidman.  Since Suicide Squid can't manifest in the Looniverse anymore, 
his subsequent LNH appearances have either been off-dimension (as in 
_Limp-Asparagus Lad_ #49-50) or in the past (as this story is).
     And on a personal note: I have often wondered why more Suicide Squid 
stories (whether tied to LNH continuity or free from any continuity) 
weren't posted to alt.comics.lnh and rec.arts.comics.creative during his 
heyday in the 1990s.  Just one of those things, I guess.
Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at     saxonbrenton at
"These 'no-nonsense' solutions of yours just don't hold water in a complex
world of jet-powered apes and time-travel." - Superman, JLA Classified #3  

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