Author Archive | Roderick

Middelboe Chronicles, Part 42: Crossing the Snow

Another tale of talking animals: Crossing the Snow (“Animated Tales of the World,” 2004), from Japan. This story is interesting in the way it sets up our expectations for one kind of story and then ends up giving us a very different kind. I can sympathise both with those who find the twist a welcome message of trust and tolerance, and those who find it frustrating and insipid. What produces a better ethical and political message is not always the same thing as what produces a better aesthetic frisson.

SciFi SongFest, Songs 109-112

Four songs about longing to be abducted by aliens:

109. The Byrds, “Mr. Spaceman” (1966):

110. Styx, “Come Sail Away” (1977):

111. Radiohead, “Subterranean Homesick Alien” (1997):

112. Katy Perry & Kanye West, “E.T.” (2010):

SciFi SongFest, Songs 107-108:

There’s gonna be a lotta people, yeah
and they’ll be living on the moon ….
are you wondering who? …
it just might be you ….

My mama told me I should never venture into space
but I did, I did, I did ….

107. Sesame Street, “Someday, Little Children” (words & music by Jeff Moss; vocals by Susan a.k.a. Loretta Long; 1970):

108. The Imagined Village, “Space Girl” (2010):

One of my favourites:

Another version:

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):

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