Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dear Johnny Marks (repost)

Some holiday fun from last year, while I try to figure out how to write blog posts again...

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.


The Moon Topples


Unknown said...

How could you???

Rudolph is part of our world-wide heritage - the glue that holds Christmas together. Rudolph's story is one that we can all relate to, bullied by his peers, laughed at and called 'poopyhead' or somesuch.
The song is a moral triumph although I will admit that the tune gets on yer nerves by Dec 10th.

Good to see you didn't lose your wits while you were neglecting your blog, MT, even if you did have to find it stored in your archives!!

Anonymous said...

One of my all-time favorites.

Hope you are well, Mr. Moon.

Taffiny said...

Maybe his nose works with the earth's electromagnetic field in some way?
And they just left that out of the song (along with so many other details) because you know, that is quite a mouthfull, to rhyme and time with.
And it might inspire all these children to pester their parents during the commerical break, and all these parents would then be googling for the answer, and then no one would be watching the all important commercials.
But then again they could fix that by adding some clever product placement into the show.

Taffiny said...

Oh maybe you just meant the song. Sorry we just watched the whole thing Monday or Tuesday, so that was on my mind.

basest said...

Dear Moon Topples.
Your response to this struggling songwriter reminds me of a similar situation I encountered when a Holiday novelty song was submitted for my review. This song was about the warm feelings generated by playing drums loudly and incessantly in the proximity of newborn children. I thought the sentiment expressed in the song was good, but felt that the verses were too short and incomplete, and the refrain, simply "pa-rup-pa-pum-pum", would have benefitted from some words in some actual language, as scat seemed inappropriate for a holiday song.

Needless to say, I, too rejected the song, but was less constructive in my response. I have learned a lot from your message. I'm sure this songwriter appreciates the attention you have paid to his work, and will work harder to hone his craft.

Anonymous said...

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Unknown said...

It warms my heart, Crescenet, to see such blatant plugging is still alive and kicking on the net. A good dose of spam is what we all need every now and again to remind us that people really care.
I have already signed up to accelerate my dinheiros because your truth is obvious and you actually made an effort at the end there to make Mr Topples feel like a real friend.
So I thank too and wish you an abundance of bad Christmas songs this season.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Good day, Mr. Grinch Topples,

May I offer you some Southern Comfort Egg Nog?

Merriest of Christmases to you!

Scarlett & V.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Moonie, snap out of it!!

Get your butt in a chair, straighten up and write a crackling, witty, current, revealing post -- one that will make your mother proud. C'mon now!

Taffiny said...

I wish you would do an Ask Moon blog post about what to do when a blogger disappears.

And I don't want for silly advice, like when a blogger disappears, we should go spend time with our families or friends, clean our homes, write and read books, spend time working, take up new athletic activities, and find other hobbies.
No, I don't want to hear any of that. I mean sound advice, useful advice, on how to get said blogger to come back and blog once more.

How? How? How?
How does one accomplish that?

Gayé Terzioglu said...

Greetings o'disappeared one!
I hope all is well in your world. Congratulations on the completion of your play.
Just a little note to say:
Wishing you a Happy Solstice, Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!
If you find the time and desire to do so, write a couple of lines and let us know how you are, please.

Lane Mathias said...

Merry Christmas Mr Moon:-)

Unknown said...

Mr Moon? Are you out there? Have Santa's elves kidnapped you? What's the ransom? Can we afford it if we all club together?

Hope you are well, MT and hope you have a happy and blessed and wonderful Christmas.