This morning I made a stop at Union Station here in Utica, a lovely old time station with marble columns and such. I was looking around, my eyes filled with wonder, and then I spied an abandoned paperback novel on a bench. It had been well read. The pages were spread hopelessly open like an accordion. The front and back covers had folds and tears. So fascinating. And, as any sane person would, I sat down and began reading it.
The book was written by Edgar Ratcliffe Barrows whose biography on the inside cover just says, "After being seriously wounded in World War II, Edgar Ratcliffe Barrows wrote this book." There is no more detail than that. Interesting. The book was titled Lord of the Tarzans. Fascinating.
The story opens with some tribal war in Africa (a continent). This is set back in time hundreds of years. The war is wiping out the armies of both sides until a man swings in on a vine, a white man in a loincloth making this bellowing sound. He lands between the armies and begins attacking both sides at the same time. While this is happening, an army of animals storms out of the jungle and joins him. The white man in the loincloth turns, and with a big smirk says, "I love colonialism and white savior literature." I have to admit, that part weirded me out.
Whatever that was all about, it beats me because after that we are in the 19th century and men with helmets are firing cannons towards a jungle settlement while talking in a British accent. The leader, a man named Mr. White, is surprised when a member of the tribe they are firing cannons on jumps out of a tree and puts a spear through the back of his head. Mr. White falls onto the ground, presumed dead, as the tribal army rushes out of the jungle and wipes out the apparently leaderless British army. Wow. What a scene.
The action moves to London where the commanders of the British Army are dumbstruck by this setback in Africa. They are puzzling and puzzling until a General Palpatine arrives for the meeting and offers a solution. He is a young general, so the older generals are kind of mean to him, but they are out of options and General Palpatine is offering to lead a new British Army in Africa to reclaim the colony they lost when Mr. White's troops were wiped out by the tribal army. The other generals figure, "Why not let him take a shot. We don't have any other options." So, they assemble a new army, a bigger army with General Palpatine leading it.
At that point I marked my place in the book and shuffled on out of Union Station. I felt like a glass of wine, so I hoofed it over to The Mohawk Valley Winery where I ordered a glass of mango wine and sat down with my book (which I had claimed under the Bill of Rights, section 27, line 8, the Right to Claim Abandoned Property).
General Palpatine arrives in Africa with his army of specially trained soldiers. I don't know when this special training happened, it isn't explained. It just says "General Palpatine's special training created an army tailored to his purposes," so I don't know what to think about that. I can say for certain it is never explained at any point in this book, and I have to take off points for that. It just seems a little too "magical" if you know what I mean, and I think you do. Have you ever have a sexually aggressive ninety-year-old man drink cognac out of your navel?
This special army, which wears white armor and helmets, is armed with flamethrowers and General Palpatine says in a crackling voice, "Burn it down. Burn it ALL down!" and begins laughing maniacally as his soldiers use the flamethrowers to set the jungle on fire while General Palpatine walks through the fire unharmed. So, he apparently has some kind of eerie powers. The army advances, in search of the village of the tribe that killed the last army to go adventuring in this place.
A tribal army is coming at them, upset about all the burning and so forth, and General Palpatine waves his hand around and they all collapse on the ground, writhing around in agony as General Palpatine tells his solders, "Put them in irons. We can sell them to the slave traders. That will give us the money we need to bribe potential informants. The Americans will pay top dollar for this bunch." He then begins doing the maniacal laugh again. Very upsetting scene.
Some slave traders show up and pay them for the tribal warriors and then they are off again. They approach the village of the tribe that killed the other army. All is very quiet there. It is too quiet, if you know what it mean. It is one of those deals. You know something is up. And then Mr. White appears out of the shadows. He has a massive scar in the back of his head, but he is alive and no longer wearing the British army uniform. He is dressed as one of the tribe.
Mr. White is alone. He begins walking towards General Palpatine and his army with his hands above his head. It appears he is looking to surrender, but then he gives a little smirk and the jungle comes to life. Dozens of white guys wearing just loincloths come swinging out of the jungle on vines, followed by a thundering herd of various jungle animals. They are bearing down on General Palpatine's army. After a massive battle that takes place over 130 pages of the book, Mr. White's side wins. They examine all the dead special soldiers. No one can find General Palpatine. It appears he has escaped. And then we hear maniacal laughter coming out of the jungle. Then there is a rumbling, a flash of thunder, and then a huge rainstorm happens.
At this point I was approached by the management of the winery. As you know, I never wear underwear and I generally wear extremely thin material pants. They are so thin that in certain lighting and from certain angles it looks like I am not wearing pants at all, because if strong light is behind them it shines right through and you can see all of me. I didn't get into it with him, deciding to make a better choice and not choose violence, and instead apologized for the offense and left the wine bar. My friend Trixie Horn was getting off work at the ice cream stand that is open in January at the Unica Zoo, and she wanted to meet me. I decided to oblige and went to the lending library to meet her. There I was stopped at the front desk. Apparently the library is like the movies. You can't bring your own books into the library. You are only allowed to read the books in the library. So, I asked the lady at the desk if they had the book I was reading, Lord of the Tarzans. She checked on her computer and told me they did have it, so I handed her my copy, which she promised to give back to me on the way out, and I went off to find their copy of the book so I could continue reading.
It took a while to find my place in the book again (since it was a different copy and wasn't bookmarked in the place I had bookmarked the other one). Now, the problem is, if I don't finish Lord of the Tarzans at the library, and I continue with the copy I found and seized under the Constitution, my bookmark will be in the wrong place. It will be back again where I was before I traded my book in at the lending library. I went back to the librarian with my concerns, and she suggested that I apply for a library card so I could take out their copy and continue from there.
As I was filling out the paperwork, I realized that would leave me with two copies of Lord of the Tarzans after I left the lending library. This was obviously unacceptable. So, I finished filling out the paperwork, using the false name "John Smith" and raised my concerns with the librarian. She told me that I would have to return the library's copy, as that is the deal with lending libraries. It works just like the lending library at the Straight White Men's Cultural Center. That seemed okay, so I went back in search of the library's copy of Lord of the Tarzans by following the directions the librarian gave me.
I found it just as Trixie arrived and found me. She jumped up on me in her leotard (she seems to wear the same one every day) and began rubbing my bald head with her sticky hands again saying, "I've missed you, sexy Behr."
After informing her that I was on a mission to read and review Lord of the Tarzans, she asked if we could go to the children's room and if I could read it to her there while she played with the toys. I found this acceptable, if a bit weird.
Once again, I am aware the the optics of whatever is going on between Trixie, who is twenty-two and therefore legal, and myself, who is going to turn 90 this year. I know this looks very bad and possibly disgusts you, but I cannot control how she feels about me. So, please, leave your judgments at home and straighten out your own house before you get all up in my shit.
Once I found my place again in the book, and we arrived in the children's room where Trixie got stuck inside a little kid sized plastic slide, I went back to reading. This time I read aloud so Trixie could hear.
There is this thunderstorm in the jungle and a deluge of rain. Mr. White and his Tarzans are forced to seek shelter. They go to this big hut where this tribal chief is really angry about his warriors being taken to be sold as slaves. Mr. White and the Tarzans share his anger, but it isn't quite as intense because the tribal chief is breaking things and talking about raising an army to wipe out the fort where the slave traders are and free his people. Mr. White tells him, "We share the same goals." They drink some beer from a barrel the tribal chief got somewhere and make plans for their raid on the slave trader port.
In between the tribal chief's hut and the slave trader fort is where General Palpatine is. He had built a secret underground base staffed by soldiers in crisp uniforms with two lightning bolts as a special insignia on their collars. This is his new army that he is preparing, and this army appears to have weapons that are too advanced for the 19th century. This is some kind of evil coming into play and we, as the readers, feel very nervous about what might transpire with this army having advanced weapons, mid-20th century rifles against muskets and spears. Houston, we have a problem. For some reason, this army is also speaking German, which I caught onto because I was raised in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. As such, the language and uniforms of these new soldiers was familiar to me.
We then find out that General Palpatine also has a nuclear submarine in his underground base, which is nowhere near the water or any major rivers. This seems like a plot hole to me, especially since the submarine never comes into play later on. I guess it was landlocked.
Led by Mr. White, the Tarzans are moving through the jungle silently. They are using stealth, and therefore they have stealthy movements as they swing from vine to vine. They get halfway to the fort when General Palpatine appears, his army behind him. Mr. White is concerned. He steps forward and says, "How did you..." and trails off. He is baffled by what he is seeing.
"Time and space meaning nothing to me! Kneel before Zod!"
Mr. White is truly confused and at this point, General Palpatine steps back and lets his army do the talking. They begin firing their 20th century rifles at the 19th century Tarzans, who are getting killed left and right. But then, there is a rumble in the jungle as all the animals come to crash the party. They are stomped by elephants, torn apart by lions, and so forth. Even the giraffes do a thing or two.
At the end of the battle, one of the remaining Tarzans tells Mr. White, "Sometimes a sacrifice is necessary for you to know who your true friends are." Mr. White agrees and they asemble the team of Tarzans and get back on the road to the fort. Once again, no one can find General Palpatine's body. He has escaped once again.
With the Tarzans on the move, we cut to General Palpatine. Once again, he has assembled an army. This time he is pulling them out of the mud, and they aren't human. They are twisted, horrible creatures, and as General Palpatine says, "Soon we will destroy the world of men," his gross army starts chanting "Manflesh!" He leads this army to the fort where the slave traders are and they rally to his side after they see that the Tarzans are coming. Some guys we are led to understand are dealing in conflict diamonds hear the horns from the fort calling for reinforcements and they rally to support General Palpatine. All of these forces come together at the fort, seeking to defend it against the Tarzans.
The Tarzans see they are overmatched, especially with the fort having fortifications and cannons. So, Mr. White goes to a nearby mountain where there is a cave. He goes in there and meets the ghosts of all these dead Tarzans. And he convinces them to help out and they are these ghosts who can't be killed and they overwhelm the fort and the living Tarzans attack, free the slaves, and continue the attack with the freed slaves fighting alongside them (they are VERY upset). They are victorious, but lose a lot of Tarzans in the process. Mr. White frees the ghost Tarzans from their "shame" (which is never explained - we have no idea what they are ashamed about), and that is where it ends, except then we see General Palpatine on a mountain laughing maniacally. That is where the book ends and says "The End."
This book had a lot of exciting action but honestly, in the modern parlance, what the fuck?
I give it 2.0 stars.