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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Important Lesson in Creativity from Sesame Street

   
Author Topic: Important Lesson in Creativity from Sesame Street
Christine
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I was just watching this skit with my son...it's a classic so maybe you saw it. Don Music is trying to compose a song on the piano but can't quite get it right...

Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow and everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to....

What rhymes with snow?

Kermit the Frog comes on and asks what lambs do...they baa and run so he says ok...

Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow and everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to run.

But run doesn't rhyme with snow!

Mary had a little lamb its fleece was yellow as the sun and everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to run.

But lambs don't have yellow fleece!

Mary had a little canary, it was yellow as the sun and everywhere that Mary went the canary was sure to run.

But canaries don't run, they fly!

Mary had a little canary, it was bluer tham the sky and everywhere that Mary went the canary was sure to fly.

But canaries aren't blue!

Give Mary a bicycle...it cna be any color you want?

Oh, I like that...I like red for bicycles

Mary had a bycicle, it was painted red as fire and whenever Mary wanted a ride, it always had a flat tire.

he decides it's brilliant and they all start to sing!

*************

I love it because to me it shows just how creativity is supposed to work -- you start with something and then you begin to tweak it here and there, nothing is sacred and there is no "supposed to" involved. As I sit down to do my edits for my first soon-to-be-published novel, I realized that the "nothing is sacred" lesson is particularly apt. If something doesn't work I can change it and the story will be better for it.

[This message has been edited by Christine (edited July 26, 2006).]


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Ipana
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*Giggles hysterically* But Bicycles don't have fleece!! *Runs away*
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benskia
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It might also show that listening too much to critiques can alter your story from what you intended into something quite different.
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Survivor
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Yeah, that red fleece on the bicycle thing...creepy any way you explain it.
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Christine
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They did not put fleece on the bicycle -- that was me copying and pasting and trying to write a post with a baby tugging at my knee. I fixed that.

benskia: Who said that what an author originally "intended" is any more sacred than any other measure of what something "should" be? What an author "intended" may or may not be what a reader (or listener of a song or viewer of a paiting) experiences anyway.


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Aust Alien
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quote:
Who said that what an author originally "intended" is any more sacred than any other measure of what something "should" be? What an author "intended" may or may not be what a reader (or listener of a song or viewer of a paiting) experiences anyway.

True enough, but no good if you intended a political satire about religious oppression in Ireland(Mary had a Little Lamb) and end up with a cute ditty about a bicycle.

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Christine
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Why not? Why was your intent to write about Irish religion so sacred? Can't you write about Irish religion some other time? Maybe this story was meant to be about Britich rock stars.

Let me add that the puppet in question was not being critiqued, he started out by banging his head on the piano, used kermit as a sounding board, and ended up singing with a chorus of puppets. I'd say he was happy with the bicycle. If he weren't happy with the bicycle, *then* it would have been no good, but since he was, why on Earth did the song have to be abour Mary's lamb or Irish religion or anything else?

When you try to force a story to be something that isn't working, you too may end up beating your head against a piano. If the story about Ireland is in your heart then don't worry -- it will end up randomly coming out of a story you intended to be about wer-wolves at some later time...unlesss, of course, you try to force ThAT story to be about wer-wolves.


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EricJamesStone
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I remember a similar one from years ago, in which "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" morphs into:

Whistle, whistle, little bird.
Isn't eating crumbs absurd?
Try a ham and cheese on rye
And a piece of cherry pie.
If those crumbs are all you want
Don't come in my restaurant.


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EricJamesStone
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Here's a link to a transcript:
http://www.lookingforlyrics.com/lyricid/43490

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wetwilly
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Can I ask the stupid question? Can someone explain how "Mary had a little lamb?" Is about religion in Ireland to me? I just don't get it. I'm guessing Mary must be Bloody Mary the Queen, who was definitely oppressive with religion (to say the least), but my mind isn't making the next logical jump here.
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Survivor
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If we see Mary and the lamb as representing the Virgin Mary and Christ, then the doctrinal implications are heavily Catholic (because of the rather more central role of Mary's love as key to Intercession) rather than Protestant (including Anglicanism).

It has to be said that there is little evidence that Sarah Hale, the known author, intended it as a meditation on Irish Catholicism. On the other hand, it is certainly true that the doctrinal reading makes a lot of sense.

I'll also say that Christine's explanation of how the red fleece came about is not as creepy as any of the ways I was trying to explain it


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Aust Alien
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As Survivor says. In the days when you got your head chopped off for critisizing the govt everything was done thru imagery. Mary symbolised Catholics (to other Catholics as for Catholics she represents the supreme example of a person).
In the old days, Catholics were barred from going to school in Britain. Supposedly the story originated when someone in an influential family (who?) brought a friend to school who was Catholic. Scandal ensued. But like Survivor also says: where's the evidence for this. It's what people have been saying. Maybe Sarah Hale wrote it as a nice ditty and quickly it was taken up a satire.

Maybe Sarah Hale intended it to be something nice and simple, but she took Christines advice, listened to her critiquers and came up with something deeper.


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Aust Alien
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quote:
When you try to force a story to be something that isn't working, you too may end up beating your head against a piano. If the story about Ireland is in your heart then don't worry -- it will end up randomly coming out of a story you intended to be about wer-wolves at some later time...unlesss, of course, you try to force ThAT story to be about wer-wolves.

True. Plus then you have two stories. The one about the nice red bicycle - it wasn't working as a satire anyway - and a future one about Ireland (or whatever you're passionate about) that our puppet in question now knows - thanks to Kermit the critter - not to try to express through a fleece-and-school song. :-)

[This message has been edited by Aust Alien (edited July 27, 2006).]


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Aust Alien
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And now I'll learn to do the smilies properly.
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Survivor
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Anytime you want to know how something is done, you can click on the links to the left of the text input box. You can also click on the edit tab for any member's post. It won't let you submit any edits without the right password, but it will show you the exact form of any UBB codes used in that post.
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TMan1969
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I still watch Sesame Street - with my littlest one and Blue's Clues, Timothy Goes to School...George Shrinks...but Sesame Street is my fav.

I love Grover "Hey everybody!"
Cookie Monster and Oscar, the monsters who sing, "Mnah, mnah, manh do-do, do-do-do..


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trousercuit
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Manah Manah

My kids love this one.


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Robert Nowall
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On Sara Hale...I was under the impression she was from somewhere in New England in the early 1800s. Where I got that impression, I can't remember---I may be mistaken here. But it would probably exclude "a meditation on Irish Catholicism" as an interpretation.

On "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and numerous possible interpretrations. As is occasionally said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar...and sometimes a lamb is just a lamb.


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Survivor
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In fairness, Sarah Hale did claim that a young minister composed at least part of the poem (and told her the story on which the poem is based). So it isn't as though there is zero possibility that the text has a theological meaning.
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trousercuit
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quote:
On "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and numerous possible interpretrations. As is occasionally said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar...and sometimes a lamb is just a lamb.

And sometimes a lamb is really a cigar.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.


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Corky
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Ever heard of "No Irish Need Apply" which was anti-Irish, anti-Catholic, and fully American.

It isn't outside of the realm of possibilities that "Mary Had a Little Lamb" could be written by someone from New England and at the same time be about Irish Catholicism.

If they wouldn't let Irish Catholics work in parts of America, why would they let them go to school?


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Aust Alien
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Wikipedia seems to agree with Robert on the origins of this. But either way, I know from personal family history similar to what Corky describes but much more recently in Australia, that this poem was definitely refered to in terms of fighting anti-Catholic prejudices.

It has also been adopted in parts of the US where prayers and bibles are being banned from government schools.


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Robert Nowall
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For the sake of clarity in the argument...

quote:
Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow;

And everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day, which was against the rule;

It made the children laugh and play, to see a lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned it out, but still it lingered near,

And waited patiently about till Mary did appear.

"Why does the lamb love Mary so?" the eager children cry;

"Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know" the teacher did reply.



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Survivor
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Anyway, you can see how the poem can be seen as a description of the Immaculate Conception (in which Mary has some unique quality that is necessary to the Incarnation), along with a reference to Christ's ministry and execution. His first appearance to Mary is noted, and Mary's centrality to Intercession is again emphasized.

Like I said, Sarah Hale didn't claim that it had anything to do with Catholics. However, she certainly did claim that a minister had been the source of the story and the first few stanzas. And Catholics have long noted the theological reading. That has contributed substantially to the popularity of this particular nursery rhyme over the years.


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MaryRobinette
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Would you believe that as many times as people have recited this rhyme to me, I have never ever heard the very last verse? I thought it stopped with "It made the children laugh and play, to see a lamb at school."
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trousercuit
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So which is the correct meaning? The one many Catholics infer, or the literal one on the page?
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Corky
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As Humpty Dumpty once said, it means what we decide it should mean.

And as someone once told Isaac Asimov, the author of a work does not have the final say on what the work means. Everyone who reads the work can have it mean whatever it means to them, and that can be different from what every other reader who reads the work has it mean to them.

Writing may not be collaborative, but reading certainly is.


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Robert Nowall
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I can't say I ever heard there was a Catholic interpretation of the poem / song...I have heard the story of joint authorship...I recall some scholarly commentary that said it showed signs of being written by two people.
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