Middelboe Chronicles, Part 40: Ummemo the Echo

Another South African tale of a garden paradise for animals: Ummemo the Echo (“Animated Tales of the World,” 2004):

There are two ways of understanding this story. One is that the animals have mistaken a mindless natural phenomenon for a person. The other is that the animals have correctly identified as a person what we have mistaken for a mindless natural phenomenon. That Ummemo behaves just as we should expect her to behave if she is the mindless natural phenomenon we take her for does not, of course, settle the question, since the animals are just as ready with explanations as we are, and being talking animals in a fairy-story, they have more credibility than would a real-life person propounding a similar theory about an echo – since once we have bought into the talking animals, our grounds for resisting the sentient echo become weaker.

Part of the charm of the story is that it does not force upon us one interpretation over the other, thus allowing us a double pleasure – the pleasure of taking the animals’ story as correct and so playing along with the enchantment, and the pleasure of seeing through the animals’ story by picking up on the hints that would support the scientific explanation.


SciFi SongFest, Songs 105-106

Und man siehet die im Lichte; die im Dunkeln sieht man nicht ….

105. Devo, “Beautiful World” (1981):

106. Leslie Fish, “Bring It Down” (1989):


Middelboe Chronicles, Part 39: How Tortoise Won Respect

In yesterday’s Podna and Podni, a garden paradise for animals was disrupted by a greedy rajah. In today’s How Tortoise Won Respect (“Animated Tales of the World,” 2002), from South Africa, a garden paradise for animals is disrupted by a greedy … rock?


SciFi SongFest, Songs 102-104

Three cheery visions of the future:

102. Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi” (1970):

103. C. W. McCall, “There Won’t Be No Country Music” (1976):

104. Afrika Bambaataa and Time Zone (with John Lydon a.k.a. Johnny Rotten), “World Destruction” (1984):


SciFi SongFest, Songs 100-101

As an appropriate homage to Bowie’s Man Who Fell to Earth – two songs about an alien trapped on earth:

100. Pixies, “Motorway to Roswell” (1991):

101. GWAR, “Lust in Space” (2009):

“Lust in Space” is not about lust (except in the Augustinian sense of overweening desire for something other than God) and does not take place in space (except in the sense of spatial extension). Discuss.


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