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I Am Bad With Carols

You know, seen from a certain point of view, "Do You Hear What I Hear?" is a song about a really weird game of Telephone.

The Night Wind tells the Little Lamb about a star.

The Little Lamb, understandably freaked out by the fact that the sky is talking, runs to the Shepherd Boy going "The sky is talking! It's got a big voice!" (and, based on what I know of sheep, probably also "Will it eat me?!" and "Can I eat it?")

And then it goes off the rails. The Shepherd Boy stomps off to tell the Mighty King (and how well connected is this kid, anyhow? He just shows up at the palace, waves to the guards, walks on in) that there's a child shivering in the cold and we should bring him silver and gold (We? Does this kid have silver and gold on hand, too? Which...might explain the ease of getting an audience, actually...)

At no point does the Shepherd Boy mention that his source of information is a possibly delusional sheep, which, okay, I might not bring that up to begin with, either. But how does the Shepherd Boy know any of this? The Lamb is still back in the field babbling about a voice in the sky talking about stars. Where did the child come from? Did the Shepherd Boy make a detour and find all this out? Why even bring the Lamb into it, in that case? And why is the Mighty King going "Whoa! One of my peasants just waltzed in to tell me about a disadvantaged child? THIS MEANS PEACE AND LIGHT!"

Honestly, if you're that easily impressed, you have to figure that a new faith gets founded in the kingdom practically daily. "Your Majesty, the washerwoman's here and she says there's a fish in the stream with a--" "ALL HAIL DAGON!"

Look, I know it's a Christmas carol, I am just saying that the narrative does not follow logically from the Night Wind talking about stars to the King informing the populace that there's a new religion in town. There are some gaps.

...yes, I am also really, really annoying to sit next to at movies.

This made me laugh so much.

cattitude suggests that the problem is that the person who really runs the place, the Vizier, was away on a holiday, and he normally keeps these people away from the king.

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I would love to sit next to you while we watch a movie. Provided I have already seen the movie and know what happens.

This sort of lateral thinking is why you are such a popular author.

Sounds like a great convention panel idea. Ursula watches a movie, possibly with Seanen, Cat Valente, and MCA Hogarth. Or perhaps with Joel Hodgson of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Either way zippy cups of booze are recommended to minimize spillage of the drinks.

I think we should do an "Ursula goes to the movies" day. We can rent out a theater and everyone would conference call in to your amazing snarky commentary. :3

Why limit ourselves to one theater? Go national or global. Netflix is currently doing a two free week trial period (Is this service available outside the USA?) . Sign up for a free trial, pick a movie and have Ursula live tweet it. You don't have to actually subscribe to twitter to watch someone tweet (as long as you're willing to keep hitting the "refresh" icon on your browser).

Pick a movie, set a start time and get the popcorn/drink ready to go.

Hmm it's one of my three favorite carols and I feel sort of silly that I never truly analyzed the lyrics. Thank you. Now I'm off to analyze the lyrics of the other two.


...and now I won't be able to listen to that again without laughing...

.yes, I am also really, really annoying to sit next to at movies.

I should hope so, some producers/directors/movie companies seem to think that explosions and loud music will spackle over continuity errors/bad science/crappy scripts...

To be fair ... given what a lot of the audience are like, they're easily distracted by explosions and loud music. Which is just as well, because the decent authors cost rather more than the studios are willing to shell out.

I have always thought that the shepherd boy had a rather illogical suggestion for solving the problem of a cold baby. A few years back it occurred to me that that particular mental hangup could be fixed by changing "bring him silver and gold" into "bring him into the fold". We're dealing with a shepherd here, damnit!

I sing it that way all the time now, but it never seems to catch on..

My husband is similarly annoyed and confused by the boy's solution to the cold baby problem. Silver and gold are metal, they don't keep you warm!

Well, I just found out it was written during the Space Race in the 60s if that helps on why they were listening to the sky. But I ALSO want to sit next to you at the movies because snarky commentary is my jam.

I always figured the king switches to "he will bring us goodness and light" as a way of moving the subject away from "let us bring him silver and gold". Who's got silver and gold? The King. So let's just move the focus from what we can take to this child to what the child can bring to us. Safer all around, that way.

Also, we never hear about the Shepherd Boy leaving the Palace, do we?

This was always my assumption as well. Sadly, modern politics bears out this observation:
"We really should consider raising taxes to pay for X, Y and Z."
"Look at the pretty distractions!"

I think this is pretty much the only way to enjoy carols; they are so often delightfully lunatic and they only get better (i.e. stranger) the longer you think about them.

Just don't watch Jurassic Park with a paleontologist. Or Hamlet, for that matter -- my paleontologist friend and I went to see the Branagh version back when it was in the theater, and Mr. Branagh was declaiming the "all occasions" speech in front of a lovely mountain range when my friend leaned over and whispered in my ear, "How'd he get to Norway?"

Also, I shared this post on FB. I hope that's okay. If it's not, I'll take it down.

That's why I can't watch movies about ancient egypt. Studying egyptology totally ruins that for you.
"Those are not real hieroglyphs. They just put pictograms of birds and plants together to look nice!"

See, I don't know this carol, I had to go and google it. There do seem to be a lot of rather large gaps in the narrative. Also, surely a talking sheep is more newsworthy than an impoverished child? I bet in the first draft the Shepherd boy went off to sell the sheep to the mighty kind *for* silver and gold.
But it got lost in translation

I need to send you the Aussie version of some of these carols.... they make much more sense.

Oh, are you referring to "While Shepherds washed their socks by night"? Or something else?

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