This blog is officially "retired," but my other blog,
"The Lair of the Silver Fox," is still open for business!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Does Sarah Palin Shoot Flying Reindeer?

[No, don't worry, this is not about Sarah Palin! But it is almost/kinda/sorta an accidental follow-up to my recent post about research on the internet.]

"You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid and Richard M. Nixon..."

Or however that goes...

Of course, I'm talking about "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

A Christmas Classic, right? Sure it is. And that's whether you're referring to the song, or the 1964 Rankin/Bass TV show, or... well... anything else concerning Rudolph.

But one thing about it always bothered me. (And when I say "always," I really mean "whenever I bothered to think about it." I don't mean it kept me up at night, 365 days a year.)

"But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?"

Well! I knew that the song pre-dated the TV show by about a zillion years -- okay, okay, more like fifteen -- but how could Rudolph be called "the most famous reindeer of all" in the very song that introduced him, I wondered?!?

That is, assuming that Rudolph was introduced in that song... and not before...

Which I didn't dare assume...

(Gotta love the internet... ! Google to the rescue!)

Huh. Guess what I learned? (And you may already know this, but I didn't, and it's my blog, so... ) He wasn't introduced in the song. He was created about ten years earlier, by a wage-slave who worked for Montgomery Ward. This guy, Robert L. May, was asked to come up with a Christmas story, and that's how Rudolph was "born."

I'm making a long story short, believe it or not. The whole story may be found here.

The best part of the story, in my not-so-humble opinion, is that seven years after creating Rudolph as what would now be called a "work for hire," the debt-ridden May -- whose wife had been dying from cancer at the time of Rudolph's creation, leaving him with tons of medical bills -- "approached Sewell Avery, President of Montgomery Ward and asked for the rights to publish the story commercially."

I know what you're probably thinking: "Yeah, right. Avery probably rattled off that era's equivalent of 'Sucks to be you!' and threw him out of his office!"

Nope! Avery signed the copyright to the character over to May!

Merry Christmas, indeed.

(And it's a damned good thing that May wasn't working in the comic book field, innit?)

So. I was wrong. First time that's ever happened.

Well, second, maybe...

Anyway, by the time Johhny Marks (May's brother-in-law, as it turned out) wrote the song and got Gene Autry to sing it, Montgomery Ward had already distributed about 6 million booklets. So Rudolph could very well lay claim to being "the most famous reindeer of all."

But something about that blasted song still bothers me:

"But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?"

It's still a dumb question, but for another reason, unrelated to the origin of the character.

It starts by assuming that you know Dasher, Dancer, and the other six, and then asks if you recall the most famous one?

Well, duh! Wouldn't you?!?

That's like saying, "Okay, you know about Franklin Pierce, Martin Van Buren, and Millard Fillmore... but do you recall George Washington?"

Who the hell wouldn't?

Sure, it's a silly little quibble with a time-honored song...


I'll bet you're going to think of it every time you hear "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" from now on, eh?

And if so? Then my job is done.

So there.

Thanks for your time... and Happy Krimble.


  1. Hooray, I'm first on here.

    Have a great Christmas. Not read your post yet, so I hope it dosen't say you hate Christmas because of the mess that tinsel creates.

    I'm hoping to return on a full time basis after the new year.

    Hurrah!! And things.

  2. Merry Christmas to you, too, Jayne! And Adam! (And no, even Mr. RantZ doesn't hate Christmas.) Hope you both get everything you want. (And by the way, if you have a chance, scroll down to my December 13th post.)

  3. Merry Christmas, Silver fox!I enjoyed this one, and I'm so glad it wasn't about the Alaskan Barbie doll!I didn't get the Canadian blog, tho!Maybe we can share a bottle of infrastructure sometime soon?

  4. Damn, but have you *heard* about the great tragedy in the North??? I'll send you the image (can't put them in comments, I assume, and I can't find a link to a page with this terrible news)

  5. Thanks for giving me tomorrow's post! Merry Christmas!

  6. David,
    I know that you know Dasher and Dancer, and most of the other reindeers, But...Are you aware of the little-known, mean-spirited reindeer, Olive? She's mentioned in the Rudolph song but no one I know remembers her.
    "Olive, the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names...."

  7. Saul,

    I know Olive!

    Such a horrible nasty bully!

    I think Sarah shot her. I was proud she was a woman and a mother that day. The rest of the time I just wish she had a sex change.

  8. As far as insipid Christmas songs go, I'll have to go with the so-called traditional hymn "I Saw Three Ships".

    Think about this.

    You have 3 ships come sailing in on Christmas Day. I assume this is meant to be the modern day, at least the day the song was written, which was likely Victorian era.

    On the ships were the Virgin Mary and Christ. Okay then. Why do they need a boat? Considering how they've apppeared in visions and apparitions I don't think they need to take water transport.

    And is this Christ the Adult or the so-called "Baby Jesus"?

    And if that's the case, what the hell are the other 2 ships for?!

    And then they sail off to Bethlehem! Okay, this makes no sense.


    Who Wrote this?!


    Clicking on this link will tell you more than anyone will ever need to know about "I Saw Three Ships," including info about the "legend about sailing into landlocked Bethlehem."

    But if you have the tune fresh in your mind, here's my own re-written version, for today's troubled times:

    I heard that Santa got drunk today.
    The bankers repossessed his sleigh,
    The INS took the elves away,
    And they're having reindeer for breakfast!

  10. Cousin Saul, you do realize your little pun is the basis for both a book and then an animated special loosely based on that book.


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