Yellow Blog, Up High in Banana Tree

I love the beautiful world at night.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Big Bird, full of longing.

"You should get this for your son," said the little girl. I'd zoned out for a moment at the thrift store, bouncing Beanie (then about five months old) to the contemporary Christian music. His head bobbed up and down as he peered out of the sling.

"Huh? Uh, yeah, sure..." I said, taking the wind-up musical Big Bird from the girl, who smiled broadly. What else could I do? She handed it to me with such authority. "Thanks!"

I wound it up and played the music. I didn't know the tune, but it was hauntingly pretty, and the quality of the sound was less electronic and whiny than most little musical toys I'd found. And Big Bird played peek-a-boo (stiffly). Rock!

When our then-roomate's mom identified the tune, she expressed surprise. "Why, that's 'Yellow Bird' by Harry Belafonte! I haven't heard that song in years. What a strange, sad song for a kid's toy to play."

The singer wants to fly away as that unidentified yellow bird can. Here are the lyrics, as Chris Isaac sings them:

But the original Harry Belafonte version, is, of course, also great.

One of the motivatations to go birding is to experience flight vicariously. I feel this especially when watching the powerful wingbeats of raptors, or the enthused bouncing joy of a flock of flying chickadees....and maybe not so much while watching, say, diving ducks, who can barely get enough lift to fly at all. Diving ducks fly like I run on a treadmill: flapflapflapflapflap. They look frantic and tired. So, no vicarious diving duck flights for me.

If you want to grok bird fascination and the desire to fly, "Birdy" by William Wharton is a great book about a boy trying to become a bird:

He eventually succeeds, after a fashion, but at great mental cost.

The movie based on the book is not as marvelous. It lacks the more spiritual elements of the book, and misses a lot of the bird biology (how do you put more than a little ornithology in a movie?), and is...grrrr...set during the wrong war, which presents some problems. Young Nick Cage and Matthew Modine are both kind of cute, though.

However, if you look at the film without comparing it constantly to the book, it's not bad. Cinema has its limitations; you can't have the main character narrating the whole time in order to know what's going on. Well, you SHOULDN'T have the main character narrating too much. (Witness the non-director's cut of "Bladerunner". Ugh.)

At any rate, "Birdy" has a damn cool soundtrack by Peter Gabriel.

To sum up (I must go change a poopy diaper), here's why my blog is entitled "Yellow Blog", though it is, in fact, green:

Big Bird wants to fly, sometimes. Me, too! Me, too!


  • At 2:25 PM, Blogger Khavren said…

    That sort of sensation is why I'd like to try gliding or even hang gliding someday. Not sure about parachuting tho.

  • At 10:44 AM, Blogger Kate said…

    Hey, M won't post a comment on my blog and get into this argument with me, so here -- I'm going to try and antagonize him into delurking:

    M says that the voice-over narration in the theatrical release of "Bladerunner" is appropriate and good given the film's noir aspirations. I say Harrison Ford sounds flat and bored. M also says that the voice-over in David Lynch's "Dune" is just peachy. I say M is wrong, wrong, wrong!

    "But really," Eemie slyly pointed out after overhearing our argument, "do you think ALL voice-over narration in movies is bad? How about in "Apocalypse Now"?"

    Uhhhhhh...dammit!...hush, Eemie, you're confusing me!

  • At 1:26 PM, Blogger Rob said…

    As a side note regarding Ford's narration for "Blade Runner": Ford himself admitted in one of his rare interviews that he gave the voiceover six different readings. According to Ford, no version came out sounding right and that the narration didn't work simply because the film wasn't meant to have one.

  • At 9:20 AM, Blogger Khavren said…

    I've watched bladerunner both ways, and it's good both ways. the narration gave it more of a feel of reading an old school Noir novel, like mike hammer or others of that ilk. But it also distractes from the breathtaking visuals, I notice without it the architechture, the urban decay, the mix of cultures. I think it might be interesting to have the narration version strictly for background, doing something else while it plays and just sometimes getting snippets of the visuals to go with it.

  • At 7:39 PM, Anonymous Montana Mom said…

    I'm reading your blog each morning like a daily bible chapter. WHOA!!!
    What have I said?

  • At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Someone just gave my son this exact same Big Bird that they had purchased at a thrift store. Been going crazy trying to figure out what the song is - thanks for the post!!!


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