Emperor Penguin references


"...Let's raise a glass of milk to the end of another day
and to the kiss that's still intangible
The kids are alright just unmanageable
They won't do a damn thing that you say."

"...You'd be tossed up or washed up
the narrator relates
In a spartan Antarctican walk for many days
Meet with Emperor Penguin devotion to the egg
and their women are swimming from half an ocean away."

A song for and about women; the work they do, the trouble we men give them, and their roles as sisters, mothers and matriarch's which we all sometimes take for granted. Emperor Penguins are one of the few species on Earth which exist in nature's version of a matrilineal society.

After laying their eggs, the female Emperor's leave the care of their offspring to the men of the flock. As the women depart to hunt and scrounge for food, often on incredibly arduous excursions, they leave their communities behind for more than two months. The male Emperor's group together and incubate the eggs without any food or sustenance whatsoever. The Emperor Penguins have developed a method of shared heat distribution which entails forming a huge huddle and rotating members of the community into the centre where the temperature is warmest. Devotion to the egg is the dominate aspect of the Emperor's lives. A great part of their lives is spent either seeking nourishment or caring for their unborn.  

When the women return from their journey's, they bring with them all that is required for their families to survive. In cases where the mother does not return, her mate and children simply waste away. The song reminds us that without the necessary, expected and unsung duties of women; Emperor Penguins would simply cease to exist.

The song seems to relate, using the 'narrator' as a direct antagonist, that if cocky and dismissive men attempted to accomplish the emotional and physical duties required of women in our society (often dismissed as "women's work") they'd be left laying like a male Penguin attempting a circum-polar trip only a female could complete. 

"...We have another caller with a bachelors degree, talkin' alien invasion is the only chance for unity."

A few people, Hip Head Thomas being the most recent, have emailed claiming this is a reference to Art Bell's old late night radio show "Coast to Coast." Bell would listen to callers as they explained their conspiracy theories or indulged in discussions of the paranormal and unexplained. I would listen to it sometimes driving at night between Ottawa and Toronto, it was creepy at times and ridiculous at others. I'm not convinced that's specifically what Gord is referencing here, but a few of you hear that, so here it is as an honourable mention.