June 28, 2011
The Votoader returns. This farmer with a frog affair comes from the insert that accompanies the Folkways record, Speech After Removal of the Larynx, released in 1964 and acquired, finally, at Academy Records in 2011. I traded a bunch of disco 12s for a recording of people trying to communicate without vocal chords, with the help of Western Electric, their stomachs, a parabuccal reservoir of air stored between the cheek and gum, and frogs. That’s my Friday night.
The cover art, drawn by Jaap Groendal, “symbolizes a man without a larynx and a violin with broken strings.”
But the photo. The frog appears to flying, not unlike the frog those bored murderers strapped to a skyrocket in The Tree of Life. But alas, no. It’s just an inset of a frog that appears to be in the air (where our voices originate, incidentally.)
I was similarly deceived by the scissors in the picture of Frankenstein’s monster below. As a child I always assumed the giant scissors were flying towards Karloff’s (Glenn Strange’s?) forehead, aiming for a flattop trim.* Upon reading Frankenstein, I was discouraged to find no flying scissors. No monster getting his lugs lowered. A closer look revealed that the scissors were attached to the facade of a barber shop. Not one to let reality get the best of my day, I imagined the scissors—after a visit with Jack Parsons at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena—could drag the building towards the monster’s bangs. This is what happens when a child gets left alone with Denis Gifford’s Pictorial History of Horror Films: giant scissors drag barbershops into outer space.
As for the frog caption: The farmer “caused it to croak by stroking it with his tongue…so the story goos.”** I believe the goos wasn’t a misprint but perhaps a gross suggestion. Maybe if the farmer kisses the frog it’ll turn into Prince’s original demo of “Joy In Repetition,” which is just plain sick.
*You are now listening to “Set It Off” by Big Daddy Kane: “Smooth Father, give ‘em a flat-top trim.”
**I don’t have time to watch The Wicker Man again, but I believe there’s a scene where a kid sticks a frog in his mouth.