Tuesday, 24 August 2010

On Frogs

A quick note about those real heroes of the fairy tale and light fantasy genres. That's right, I'm talking about frogs. And also toads, of course, but since QI informs me that there are no definitive differences between the two, I'll stick with frogs for the moment. Some thoughts, then:

  1. It's amazing how many people get turned into frogs in these things. Princes, princesses, passing traffic police (see Tom Holt's Grailblazers for that one). You'd think that there wouldn't be room for them all. I've done it too, in a couple of short stories (one of which laboured briefly under the title of Antiques Toad Show) and in a novel that shall not be named (because it's not my name on the front).
  2. More than that, what's with all the plagues of frogs? Again, Holt does it (in Djinn Rummy, where it turns out that their tendency to sit around doing nothing isn't helpful), while Pratchett goes for a plague of frog in Pyramids (I believe the relevent line goes "but it was quite a big one, and it got into the air conditioning vents and kept everyone awake for weeks"). Frogs are not a plague. Frogs are cute.
  3. Ribbet, Rivet, Ribbit or Croak? I happen to know (QI again) that the way we think frogs sound is down to the frogs around Hollywood sounding that way. Even so, I can labour for anything up to minutes over the thought of how I should have my frogs say things. As someone whose cat briefly went through a phase of bringing in live frogs, I can tell you that a frightened frog actually sounds more like someone chainsawing a pig in half.
  4. Where exactly are you supposed to get hold of a princess? Even in a constitutional monarchy like the UK, people react quite badly if you start grabbing passing royals and thrusting amphibians at them. In a republic, presumably things are that much more difficult.
  5. Why do people get turned into frogs? Why not fiddler crabs? Why not lemmings? Why not insurance salesmen (surely a worse fate by far, and you're rather less likely to get kissed)
  6. Finally, anyone wanting more on frogs should consider becoming a frogologist. What's a frogologist? I suggest you look up the Brian Patton poem of the same name.


Theresa Milstein said...

I haven't given it much thought until now. Why are there so many frogs depicted negatively in stories? Even the Passover story has frogs as part of the plagues (with locusts and death of the firstborn). Apparently, they're more badass than we realized.

Indigo said...

Perhaps we're all a secret amphibian race...

In any case this post left me with a smile. (Hugs)Indigo

Tessa Conte said...

LOL that's great.

Poor misunderstood underappreciated froggies.

Also, frogs around here "quack". So do ducks.

And how do you know what a pig being chainsawed in half sounds like???

February Grace said...

What a great post.

Now I'm thinking of Daffy Duck, "I'm a Fiddler Crab, why don't you shoot me? It's Fiddler Crab season!"

I personally go with "ribbit..."

...and also I am thinking of the scene from the Emperor's New Groove where one of the palace guards says to Ezma, "I've been changed into a cow, can I go home?"

"You're excused," she replies, then turns to the rest of the squad who have been transformed into other animals: turtles, and the like..."Anyone else?"

"No," they reply in unison, "we're good."


Jodie said...

I'd like to know why so many people get turned into frogs rather than anything else, there's bound to be some deep, dark reason embedded in fairytales.