Monday, December 04, 2006

Dear Johnny Marks

Dear Mr. Marks,

Let's assume for a moment that I grant your initial premise, and that I admit that I know (or know of, as you seem to mean) Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, as well as Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen.

If I can then truthfully answer "no" to the question you pose, is it logical to assert as you have that this Rudolph is "the most famous" reindeer?

The others you present as a given. Of course you know them. Everybody knows them. You aren't denying this. It's the very first thing you say, in clear and unambiguous terms.

But do I recall this other one? The very question suggests the possibility that I might not. In fact, the entirety of your song after posing the question seems predicated on the listener having no recollection of this particular reindeer or the details of his life, else the singer would simply be rehashing a story familiar both to himself and his audience.

Are you simply trying to create buzz about this Rudolph character? Are you, perhaps, his publicist? Is it not possible that he is, at best, the ninth most famous reindeer, assuming that no others of his species have attained fame greater than or equal to either Rudolph or the eight reindeer mentioned previously? You provide no criteria for measuring reindeer fame other than name recognition, and it seems clear that he fails to achieve "most famous" status by this measure.

In an instance where the initial premise is not granted (i.e., the listener is unaware of the initial eight reindeer you name), does it not then fall to the person performing your song to provide some background data, perhaps biographical information or anecdotes which illustrate the characters and qualities of the reindeer? Where is this additional data? You included neither footnotes nor endnotes, and your bibliography is also missing.

I would recommend you delete this opening section entirely, if only because it is terribly unwise to begin a song about a single character with a recitation of eight other, possibly unrelated characters. Are they the bullies mentioned in your second verse? You never specify.

And who is this Santa person who mysteriously appears in what I can only assume (although the structure is never repeated) is the chorus? Is that his first name, his surname, or some sort of nickname? Is he some sort of communal task-master? All you divulge is that he is in possession of a sleigh, and has somewhere to be on the night in question.

From there you skip some crucial plot elements. One assumes that Rudolph indeed accepts the question posed by Santa. And then you leapfrog your story again, concluding that Rudolph will "go down in history" for some reason, even though you haven't told us why this might be true, or even where the sleigh was headed.

This is all without even addressing a central flaw in your tale. You tell us that Rudolph's nose is red, and then provide additional detail indicating that it "glows." Assuming that the night is perilously foggy (which you seem to be indicating) putting Rudolph at the front of the sleigh could only hope to provide enough luminescence for someone very close to the light source to be able to see at all through the fog. The nose, as you say, glows. You have given no indication that it shines or functions in a manner similar to the headlights on an automobile. Is Rudolph himself supposed to be guiding the sleigh through the darkness or is Santa? Santa would be too far from the light source, and Rudolph too close. If you put a light four inches in front of your eyes in the dark, all you can see is the light itself.

Since the Santa character never reappears, and there are no details of the sleigh ride itself, it is possible that Rudolph has purposefully led Santa to his demise in the dark, and the other reindeer reward him because they no longer have to work. But it seems your aim was to write a song for children, and this subject matter is a little dark, especially as you haven't established the Santa character as evil. He appears only once, and from all the information we are given, may never have even received a response to his request for Rudolph to guide the sleigh. The fact that he phrases his need as a question seems to deny the argument that he is the villain of the piece, and yet I have already established that the light from the nose could not possibly have been adequate to guide either Rudolph or Santa on a sleigh ride of any distance.

It is also worth noting that a sleigh is a hopelessly outdated mode of transportation. Modern children will likely not know what this is.

At present I can find no place for your song. The tune itself is acceptable, but only by a very slim margin. It is awfully short to have three distinct melody lines. And your narrative is quite obviously a shambles. Should you retool it to rectify some of the egregious errors discussed, I would be happy to take another look at your work.

Sincerely,

The Moon Topples

11 comments:

CC2383 said...

Nice. Can we steal Christmas already? I'm available to get started anytime. If I am forced to go to go shopping again in the next 20 days I'm going to freak out.

Julia Buckley said...

Yeah, I heard Rudolf is going to be in the next series of Celebrity Big Brother over here.

ian said...

This week on MTV: Celebrity Deathmatch. Rudolph vs. Mr. Ed. It should be a kickin' fight.

He Who Does Not Subscribe said...

Very funny stuff, Boomer, very funny indeed.

(Though you write a rejection letter very well, so well that it makes one think . . .)

I know this post directs fun at the song, but please don't touch the film -- it is a classic. Such incredible characters. Sam the Snowman, Hermey, Yukon Cornelius, The Head Elf, Charlie in the Box, the Gun That Shoots . . . Jelly, and of course, the lovely Clarice.

The Moon Topples said...

cc: look for an update on the plot to steal Xmas in the next couple of days.

Julia: They're gonna have to be careful: he swears like a sailor.

Ian: My money'd be on Rudolph. Illuminated nose beats plain ol' ability to talk anyday.

HWDNS: So, you've heard this song as well? And you say there's a film? Hmmm. Go and make Rich do his "Charley-in-a-box." Definitely worth it.

zorak163 said...

This is the best thing I've read in some time - as always, an enjoyable read - thanks, Maht!

The Moon Topples said...

Thank you, Zorak. You're impossibly kind.

He Who Does Not Subscribe said...

So I asked Richie to do his "Charlie-in-a-box" and then we ended up doing every conceivable character from the film -- it was hilarious and pathetic.

This is a great post. Have I said that before? Worthy of some kind of citation, some Blog of the Day Award, if it only existed.

The Moon Topples said...

Blog of the Day. Psshaw!

Anonymous said...

"Why am I such a misfit? I am not just a nit-wit. Just because my nose glows, seems I don't fit in."

zorak163 said...

Check out the following link -
http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/167677,CST-NWS-rein11.article

Sounds like Rudolph might be famous for something totally different now...