Monday, December 30, 2019

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Rainbow Connection (Lyric Analysis)

One of my favorite songs ever is "Rainbow Connection" written by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher. It was written for 1979's The Muppet Movie. Since then it has been covered by a number of artists. My favorite group to sing this song was the Carpenters. But despite who you may find singing it, it is the amazing lyrics which really sell it for me. I want to take a moment to examine them. Let's have a look.

Why are there so many
Songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side
Rainbows are visions
They're only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide
So we've been told and some chose to
Believe it
But I know they're wrong wait and see

Someday we'll find it
The Rainbow Connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me

I am pretty sure there is an Oz reference happening here. Although rainbows have been used in fairy lore since... forever basically. And even though I do not know a whole lot of rainbow songs, I am sure there are plenty.

The song poignantly asks the question of why rainbows are even interesting at all. After all, they are just illusions. They are not actually there. Why would humans even care about something that isn't there. People have always noticed illusions and seen more than is really there. Fata Morgana is a good example of this.

Fata Morgana is an illusion that tricks the mind into thinking an island is forming off the coast. There is not really any land out there, but the mind says otherwise. In ancient times, people thought this to be a forbidden fairy land they were seeing. With rainbows, we have thought similar things. Where does it end? What exists at the end of it? Is it another land or some sort of treasure. The human imagination is a crazy thing sometimes.

This part of the song out rightly points out that the rainbow is an illusion, but then suggests that there may be more to is based on what the imagination of humans have concocted. There's nothing wrong with this. It's just how we work.

The short chorus of the first selection, which is repeated a couple more times, shows that the singer wants to prove that there is a truth to all this, and that the truth is profound in its effect on the world around us. Let's have a look at the next stanza:

Who said that every wish
Would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that
And someone believed it
And look what it's done so far
What's so amazing
That keeps us star gazing
What so we think we might see

Someday we'll find it
That Rainbow Connection
The lovers the dreamers and me

Once again, the writing of this song is questioning everything the song is about. Who came up with all this? Who started this whole thing called "imagination"? Somebody thought of it and another believed it. And what has it done so far? It's called progress!

I often bring up the Star Trek phenomenon. The old "flip-style" communicators inspired our flip phones. And later on, our smart phones greatly resembled the LCARS touch screens from The Next Generation. Popular fiction breeds new ideas and ultimately advances the world around us in a forward motion.

Also, the very object of looking up at the stars causes us to wonder what is out there. That leads to actual space programs. But before we have a space program, we make movies about alien worlds and the aliens that live there. The aliens may not even be true, but we are so driven to find out that progress occurs anyways. Imagination breeds fiction, and fiction breeds reality. It all comes true eventually.

Last stanza:

Have you been fast asleep
And have you heard voices,
I've heard them calling my name,
Is this the sweet sound that calls
The young sailors,
The voice might be one and the same.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it
It's something that i'm supposed to be,

Someday we'll find it
The rainbow connection...
The lovers, the dreamers and me

This part always strikes me as a little spooky, but it isn't really as spooky as it feels. It seems like there is a voice out there that is calling us sometimes, but it isn't so much a spirit as it is a drive within all of us to be more than we started off as. Imagination is a driving force for us to explore, create, and add to this world. We can either accept it or ignore it. We are here to do stuff. That's all there is to it.

The Carpenters version of this song had two extra lines which take place right before the last stanza. Here they are:

All of us under its spell
We know that it's probably magic

Well, yes. It is magic. It is the magic of imagination. The idea that unworldly concepts can lead to new creations is magic in motion. We are not supposed to ignore this. It's who we are. If you throw that away, then you are a pointless person. Imagine, use your talents, and add to this world. Never take away from it. That is the meaning of life.

While you are here have a listen to the Carpenter's version of "Rainbow Connection."

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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Imagine a Pagan Christmas

Imagine a world that has just barely survived extinction. The world was nearly drowned in a Great Flood, and only a handful of people survived it.

Imagine a man dressed in red who has proclaimed himself the moral leader of the world. You know him as Nimrod. Nimrod promises you great things for a price. You must only follow the orders that he gives you.

Imagine Nimrod as a very notable person who rides about the earth on a deer. He smiles a lot and makes great promises that cause you to feel very warm inside.

Imagine going out and cutting down a tree. You put the tree inside your house and set candles upon it. Nimrod has asked that you do this for him. This is the moral and right thing to do, so you do it to please him. Nimrod always rewards those who please him.

Imagine the magic of that beautiful morning. Presents are all about the tree. Things you wanted dearly are there for you to take. You did a good thing making the tree offering to Nimrod.

Imagine the family who did not perform the ceremony correctly. Not enough candles... the wrong tree... Perhaps they did not do it at all. The shame! Did they not wish to give glory to the one who promised them such wonderful things?

Imagine the moment when a large and nasty horned beast makes its way into this family's home. He is the satyr prince. You know him as Baphomet. To his victims, he is the Krampus. The Krampus is here to take what his master Nimrod was rejected.

Imagine this large creature picking up your first born child and putting him into a sack. He may take more than one of your children if he feels like it. He then leaves with them, and you never get to see them again.

Imagine the things that the Krampus will do to your children. Or maybe you shouldn't. It may be better to forget those things. It may be best to only imagine nice and happy things. Go cut down the right tree. Put up the proper amount of candles, and set them right. Sing out songs of joy to the deer-riding Nimrod. Do these things for the sake of your future children, because the children you lost are never coming back.

Imagine if all these things were true today... and be very happy... that they aren't.

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Monday, December 23, 2019

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Fear the Woodsman

When you sit down and read a Grimm, Andersen, or Perrault fairy tail, you are probably reading something that has been passed down from person to person for many generations until it ultimately took the form of the story you are presently reading. In ancient times, people saw things that they had difficulty explaining. Even if they did understand it, the later generations would not identify with it in the same way. Tales often originated from strange stories of humans encountering otherworldly beings. There is a stroke of truth still hidden in them which is why we find them so endearing.

As these stories continued to persist, they were often filtered through the cultural political correctness of the day and also softened for children. I have many times rejected the Woodsman character from Little Red Riding-Hood for his contrived entry as a means to keep children from getting upset. He was never there in the older versions and does not need to be there now. Little Red dies. She always dies. There was never a chance of rescue after being masticated by the Big Bad Wolf.

Although it may have come earlier, I am more familiar with the Woodsman's entry in the Grimm version. It really doesn't belong there. It defeats the purpose of the tale by adding a random encounter with a hero who isn't even introduced until that point. The original story is more about prevention. The Woodsman turns the story into the act of hoping for blind luck. You can still entertain the Wolf, because there is a chance you'll make it. This is ridiculous.

Fiction is always at its best when it is completely honest with both itself and its audience. When you alter a story to make certain audiences more comfortable, it turns it into something trivial. You can get about the same entertainment by just downing a sedative and going to sleep. These works of fiction ignore the actual dangers of the world and focus on silly things that don't matter.

Fiction was never meant to have an agenda. It was meant to tell entertaining stories. If the stories are honest in their portrayal, it provides insight. People learn about themselves and the world around them from that inspiration. They can even add to it. If the story forces a narrative based on an agenda, it always shows. People know when it's happening and will either out rightly reject it... or just accept it along with a very mediocre and pointless view of the world around them.

The Woodsman's only purpose is to make a very clear evil... unclear. He comes in and blurs reality so that nothing is certain. And once nothing is certain, you may be opening your mind to a forced narrative. In reality, the Woodsman is merely a tool for evil people trying to change reality and make it far more uninteresting. It promotes cynicism. And once the Woodsman has you in his grasp, he will be more than happy to feed you to his pet Wolf.

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"Got a light?"

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Fairy Tale Spotlight: The Mad Scientist

I have seen a number of movies and TV shows which dealt with these crazy scientists who throw rules and regulations to the wind and strike out in the name of scientific progression! These men do so with little regard for the lives of others and break every rules of civility in order to get the job done. What can I say... I love 'em.

The most common of these scenarios has the scientist moving to his own island or some out of the way place where nobody ever wants to go. It can even be an old house that most people consider haunted. But deep inside lurks his dark secrets (usually behind a secret wall panel or something).

The concept of the mad scientist is that he has been shunned by the scientific community for simply not regulating his ideas enough. Whenever he gets a theory, he immediately wants to test it out. If someone gets hurt in the process, he sees them as a martyr for the scientific cause. Ultimately it's this behavior that gets him shunned, but that isn't enough to stop him from doing his work.

Whenever I see movies of this nature, I usually find myself siding with the scientist. I actually want him to succeed. The world might even be better for it. But these movies often pitch them as the villain and insert a hero to take him down before he causes more trouble. I always get just a little upset when he ultimately falls to his own hideous creations.

Even in my most favorite movie of all time, The Black Hole, Reinhardt had genuinely proven himself to be a genius and an innovator. And there is even a vague possibility that he could have made the trip through the Black Hole if not thwarted by the protagonists.

Easily, none of these men are particularly good people. In fact, they are outright evil. But God doesn't look down on people for simply being evil. He only despises the lukewarm. At the very least, these men gave it their all. And I still can't help but root for them in every movie I encounter them.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Fairy Tale Spotlight: The Sword and the Dragon

I recently watched a rather charming fairy tale film called The Sword and the Dragon. It is a 1963 American dub of a 1859 Russian film called Ilya Muromets. The American dub does not stray too far away from the Russian script and I found this story to be a lot of fun.

The story is loosely based off of a Russian epic poem about a brave and blustery man named Ilya Muromets. He wields a magic sword and goes about performing good deeds and saving innocents.  He is a very loud and proud sort of fellow who always says what's on his mind. This is probably the main reason the movie is so much fun. Just to hear him yell out insults and carry on in his bold way is a joy to behold.

There were a lot of wonderful fairy tale tropes in the film. The sword he used actually belonged to another hero named Svyatogor who had lived such a good life that he was allowed to die upon his horse and never fall to the ground. He was turned to stone to remain a monument of himself for eternity. How awesome is that?

There is also a wind demon known as Nightingale the Robber who was a lot of fun. Ilya had to best him early on in the film. The movie did a good job showing how evil and powerful this creature was. And they are correct in referring to him as a demon.

There is also a three-headed dragon... which I am sure they did their very best to animate. God bless them. It was the 50's and it was the Soviet Union. It was still cool though. I mean, they got it to breath fire and everything.

The main antagonist of the film is a Tugar named Kalin. Ilyad spends a good portion of the film dealing with him, but this is where things get a bit weird. Dealing with the demon was very quick and satisfying. But when dealing with the Tugars, Ilyad seems intent on employing some really complicated plans with many steps to them when it seems it would be easier to just fight him. Must be a Russian thing.

Either way, it was a lot of fun to watch. It is always neat to look into fairy tales from countries that don't normally get exhibited. Fairy tales comes from every single area of the world. There's a lot of them out there, and we can learn from all of them.

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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Fairy Tale Spotlight: The Mouse, The Bird, and the Sausage

I almost decided not to post this story here. I read it about four times and a few times in part. I'm still a little perplexed by it. I think that some old fairy tales can sometimes have character changes or plot tweaks as it gets lost in the whirlpool known as oral tradition. But wow. I don't even know what to say about this story.

Anyways, here it is. Maybe you can make something of it. I present to you the fairy tale known as The Mouse, The Bird, and the Sausage:

A mouse, a bird, and a sausage all lived together in a beautiful cottage in the woods. Each housemate had a specific job—the bird flew out into the forest to collect wood, the mouse carried water and lit the fireplace, and the sausage cooked dinner. Working together like this, they were able to lead a comfortable, if weird, life.

One day, while collecting wood in the forest, the bird met an old friend who ridiculed the bird for working so hard while the sausage and the mouse got to stay at home all day doing nothing. He argued that all the mouse had to do was put the fire on and that the sausage only had to sit at the stove all day until the porridge was ready. The bird agreed. Instead of going out to work the next day, he told his friends that he didn’t want to be their slave anymore and that if they wanted any wood they would have to go out themselves to get it.

The mouse and sausage were surprised, but agreed to try swapping jobs, with the sausage going into the forest to collect wood. However, the sausage did not return the next day and the bird had to go out and look for him. Soon, he came across a dog carrying the sausage in his mouth. The bird begged him to let the sausage go, but the dog refused, claiming that the sausage had been carrying forged papers and killing it instead. To make matters worse, the bird returned home to find that in trying to cook the mouse had jumped into the pot and boiled to death. Enraged, the bird threw the wood all about the house, causing the building to catch fire. Trying to put the blaze out, the bird somehow managed to knock himself down a well, where he drowned.

The End.


The point of it is probably to convey the problems when one in a group gets lazy, forcing the others to take on more work. And that is well represented by the comical chaos that ensues in the story. And to be honest, I can understand a mouse and a bird working together... but what the heck is with the sausage?

Anyways, that's all I got. I hope you enjoyed the insanity. RIP, little mouse.

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Monday, December 9, 2019

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Is Oz Real?

I often make references to the realities of old fairy tales and try to find their basis in ancient lore. I look at fairies and attempt to determine their origins as real and solid creatures who existed in our past. So most of the research material are taken from European fairy tales or the Bible.

L. Frank Baum's Oz is often considered a truly American fairy tail. It isn't the first, but it was the one that got the most popular. In many ways, it surpassed even the European tales. This was mainly because Oz, in reality, belonged to us. They were our tales, and we were to cherish them as a personal matter.

Especially after the 1939 film, Oz became a great source of imagination for both children and adults. And if you were to read the books, it wouldn't stop there. There is a lot to genuinely love about the Oz stories. Even to this day, the books are adapted to movies and children's cartoons. It probably will go on forever.

But Oz is not ancient. It only came into existence in the year of 1900. Before that year, nobody--and I mean NOBODY--knew anything about Oz. So how can Oz be based on anything real if it so obviously came after all the stories that were the cornerstones of the worldwide fairy lore? Heck, it was even written after the Grimm stories, which can technically still be considered modern in the grand scheme of things.

My personal opinion on the realities of Oz is that the actual country of Oz does not exist in the same way that it is depicted in the books. But there is a lot mentioned in his books that seem to ring true. Fairies are represented very well, in fact. They seem to exist on a slightly elevated mental plane than the human characters do. They do things based on their nature, which is correct.

His understanding of good and evil is also very well delivered. I am reminded of his villain Ugu the Shoemaker who committed evil acts purely because he believed anyone else would have done do if given the power he had. And that latter example makes sense when you consider what opportunists fairy people tend to be.

Good characters such as Glinda act appropriately like angels. They serve the other faeries and the humans for their own protection. The princess Ozma, being a young fairy girl, exhibits the childlike whimsy of a pixie while still being somewhat sociopathic in the way she deals with ruling her nation. Everything is very well created and told.

If Baum suffers on any one thing, he sometimes go a little overboard on how magic works. He makes it a little bit overpowered to the point that, if anyone uses it, it tends to just cause chaos. At least he follows through with it! But some aspects of the way he does magic is still relevant to how real magic works, so I think his heart was in the right place.

All in all, I think Oz is not a real place, but the concept of it is surprisingly plausible as a fairy world. It is conceivable that a number of the fairy characters found in Oz could have real life counterparts. Baum was a student of Grimm and Andersen, so he likely wanted to make his own worlds in a way that made sense to him. And if we can take anything front this, L. Frank Baum really did give America its very own beloved fairy tale... and God bless him for it.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Fairy Tale Spotlight: God the Son

Always the third one to mention, as far as my normal brain processes will allow, the Son of God is ultimately the one we truly need to look to when things come down to it. The other two are important, and we should recognize them and their respective personalities. But who is Jesus?

Jesus is probably the manliness man you will ever know. He inherited the strength of will of his Father and the compassion of the Holy Spirit and became something that we just don't see enough of in this age: Stoicism. Jesus was the very definition of a stoic. It shows in everything he said and did.

Jesus was also a very independent person. All the choices in the world belonged to him, and there was one point where he could have done anything at all--even become a very evil man. Very few people in history have been given that opportunity: the absolute ability to choose. And what did he choose? He chose us.

Some might say that it wasn't a very good choice. By choosing us, he allowed himself to be killed by the same people who would give him anything he wanted. But then, he was fine with that. In quiet repose, he made his decision and accepted the consequences. And what makes this even stranger... is that he actually wanted to do the opposite.

It all comes down to the part of the story where he was tempted in the wilderness. He was tempted. There is no mistaking that language. Jesus wanted to sate his own desires. He wanted to give everything up to be happy. Jesus was a man who liked all the same things most hedonists and pagans did. They were tempting and lovely to think about. But like I said... he had a choice... and what he chose was to give that same choice to every human on the planet.

Jesus is the way. It was his way to choose, and so the same choice falls upon us. There was no need for the ways of the Old Testament anymore. There was no need for the temple after the curtain was ripped. All that was left were human beings... with a choice--follow the ways of an independent and stoic man, or just continue in the way it had always been: following a crowd, searching for your own happiness at the expense of others, ultimately just conforming to the great nothing that has been the human race.

And to think all you had to do was just try something a little different.

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Monday, December 2, 2019

Fairy Tale Spotlight: God the Holy Spirit

Have you ever met someone that simply can't figure anything out? You try and try to teach them stuff, even simple things, but they can't seem to grasp the concepts? Yet for some reason they seem to take to their own things with perfection? Additionally have you met someone with an iron clad routine and a resolve to match it? Someone who lives in a fixed manner and shall likely never break from it for the whole of his life on this planet?

Ladies and gentleman, I want you to gaze and behold the absolute nature of the Holy Spirit. I use the word "absolute" because it is sadly the person's go-word for everything he is and shall ever embrace. And I know what you may be wondering... are any of us absolute? No, we are not. Humans are not intended to be absolute. We were fashioned after the Father who seems to be a raging, dancing loony bird. We are creatures of whimsy and silliness. We are not absolute. But the Holy Spirit, this mysterious Mr. Nobody, is.

In many ways, the Holy Spirit has the biggest stick-in-the-butt personality of anyone you will ever meet. He will bend neither to the right nor the left. He is who he is and he is absolute in his nature. In his purest form, he does not even acknowledge his own existence. And best of all, now that he can thanks to the Father, he doesn't like anything about you.

And that is probably the most bitter pill to swallow. We, as humans, are very social, friendly, huggy sorts of people at our best. But sadly, if you thought the Holy Spirit is going to like you for it, understand that he has already formed an opinion of you en mass. He doesn't like you. He will never like you. Nothing you can ever do will convince him. He is a man that prefers his own council, and you are not invited into it.

But fear not. There is a silver lining to this dark cloud. For despite the near inability to relate to the Holy Spirit's shortcomings, it must be said that he is the very breath and life of the concepts known as freedom, justice, friendship, and compassion. You have these things because of him. And that's good, right? You should be thankful, right? Free will is great, right?! From our perspective, we relish these things. But what about the Holy Spirit? What about his perspective?

In actually, the Holy Spirit is the friend and companion to the Father, entirely against his will. His own obsessive compulsion to freedom and friendship locks him into the Father's agenda. But creepily, it is his compulsion to compassion and justice which leads him to want to murder every one of us... for our own good.

Don't get me wrong, there are some of us who deserve it. But... to him... we are all either suffering or horrible... and deserve to be snuffed out or damned. But the Father has politely requested that he does not do this, for he wishes to sort them out in his own way, but there will come a day where the suffering will end... and the damned will be punished... and all will be done to sate the anger of the Holy Spirit... who never really wanted to be a part of this at all.

In truth, he just wanted to be left alone... sleeping under that bridge in an unknown country... and on some days, when the urge would suite him, he would dance about in the warm snow.

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