Hrtsa has another record out from Constellation. This band is the brainchild of Michael Moya. Moya writes some really fantastic melodies with interesting and unusual instrumentation. The first song contains a pump organ, I believe (the liner notes don’t go into any detail). And throughout the album, whether the songs are long or short, either the guitar lines are great or the different instruments creates atmospheric swells that are really something.
My only problem with this record is the singing. There is occasional singing. On my first listen, I thought the voice was a woman with a deep husky voice like Carla Bozulich or Marianne Faithfull. On the second listen I realized the voice is probably that of Moya, making it a reedy tenor voice. At times he sounds a bit like Gordan Gano from the Violent Femmes. The problem is that his voice doesn’t really have the power to pull of the songs. The voice often gets lost in the mix or just distracts from the instruments. This disparity is heightened even more because there are a number of fantastic instrumentals on the disc.
I certainly enjoyed the disc, I just would have preferred no words or a more interesting singer.
[READ: October 2, 2008] “Mimsy Were the Borogoves”
Sarah and I watched The Last Mimzy a few weeks ago. I didn’t know it was based on a short story. I also had never heard of the author. Well, it turns out that the author is a pseudonym of Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, two other authors I also hadn’t heard of. This edition of the story comes in a book attributed to Henry Kuttner (originally published as The Best of Henry Kuttner, but released now as The Last Mimzy). Phew.
So, where was I?
Well, if I didn’t know that the story was the basis for the movie, I never would have guessed. The only thing relating to the story is that two kids find a box full of inexplicable toys which behave in a manner that is unlike anything on earth.
The movie sticks primarily with the kids, showing them learning their new toys. It ultimately shows the little girl (who is about 5) communicating with the stuffed “rabbit” doll that came in the box. The movie then proceeds to have all manner of interstellar communication that results in a fantastic CGI display of kids floating in the air. (I simplify…the movie was actually pretty cool).
Some differences between the story and the movie:
The book is set in the 1940s (understandably the movie was updated to the 21st century).
In the book, the girl is only 2. There is no communication with any doll. There is a doll, but it is not a rabbit, it is an anatomically correct (for a different species) “person”.
The boy’s name is Scott in the book, but Noah in the movie. Why change that, especially if they left the girl’s name, Emma.
The movie enlists the help of the boy’s science teacher. He oversees Noah drawing an exact copy of a rare and complex mandala, and he speaks to Noah’s dad about how he could have known it. This character is not in the book, nor are mandalas.
In the movie, the rabbit, Mimzy, is sent back to the future safely. This is not in the book.
The story begins like a typical science-fiction story: an alien named Unthahorsten, existing one million years in the future, is creating a time machine. He creates the box, throws some of his kids’ toys into it and whisks it to Earth. When nothing seems to happen he sends another one.
Scott, playing hooky in 1940′s Earth, finds the time machine and all of the alien toys within. He brings them home and starts playing with them. When his parents see the toys they look at them curiously, but immediately give up. The toys defy any earthly logic.
Their father calls in a child psychologist friend who declares that the children are being taught to think in a non-Earthly fashion. For instance, their abacus-like puzzle actually has a part that is invisible to adults. It defies dimensional common sense, and so adults cannot see it. This is why in the book Emma is only 2, because her mind is more open to different ways of thought.
The book also spends a great deal of time talking about child psychology. About how children think differently than adults, how they have their own language, how they can imagine things that adults never could. They don’t think better than adults, just differently. Unless thinking like this about children was novel in the 1940s, and maybe it was, there are just too many paragraphs explaining this way of understanding children.
Overall, the story is pretty neat. It really bears no resemblance to the movie, aside from the idea kernel. And that’s okay. The multidimensional way of thinking was pretty cool, as was the very detached voice describing something so spectacular. It was surprising how often the story veered away from science fiction into pop psychology. But it was a bit lame that we never get to see Unthahorsten again.
The thing that is very confusing about the movie is that the title is pretty much overlooked. The title comes from Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” which is actually pretty central to the book. If you recall, the alien created two time machines. The second one was found by Alice Liddell, the Alice of Through the Looking Glass. She tells her “Uncle Charles” the poem of “Jabberwocky” (which she learned from her time machine). He says that he will copy it exactly as she tells it to him (and the rest is history). This poem is basically the cipher for the missing key to a time-space equation. Scott and Emma learn this poem and use it to break the code. Alice is mentioned in the movie, so it does tie in, but the explicitness of Jabberwocky is never included.
The story sort of makes me want to read more by him/them, but since the book is overdue, I won’t be reading any more at this time.