In a departure from my usual practice of providing you with a soundtrack for a room or area in the Maze, this month’s playlist is dedicated to the Guide.
“Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones
“Pleased to meet you/ Hope you guess my name/ But what’s puzzling you/ Is the nature of my game.” I could pretty much stop here, right? Trying to work out the identity of the Guide is one of the more absorbing puzzles that MAZE has to offer. Right from the get-go the Guide himself sets up the mystery: “Preoccupied with their own thoughts, impatient, like so many children, they didn’t see who I really was.” From there the question is implied again and again throughout the book as the Guide drops hints about his past and makes oblique comments about his own appearance, and a torn sign in the Trap has a hole where his name should be: who is the Guide?
“Who Are You?” by The Who
If only we had a microscopic hair sample, or a smear of spittle, or a blurry still from a security video that we could blow up with impossibly good resolution…!
“Strange Animal,” by Gowan
Well, we now know for certain, of course, that the Guide is the Minotaur, as most MAZE fanatics have long suspected. It was fun to toss around other candidates like Minos or Theseus or the Devil, but nobody else fit all the clues so well. (More on that in future posts.) The Guide is winking very broadly when he says, “… in a very real way we are all of us animals, at least in part.” I mean, who else is this clue going to be referencing? Mr Tumnus?
“Liar, Liar,” by the Castaways
One of the more interesting bits of information that we got from an Ask Manson was that the Guide’s statements are never completely truthful. It was difficult to pick a song about lies because there are so many good ones out there – Fleetwood Mac’s “Little Lies,” or the Knickerbockers’ “Lies,” for example – but in the end, I had to go with this one. The schoolyard chant of “liar, liar, pants on fire” seems a suitable response to the Guide’s condescending attitude towards his visitors, whom he often refers to as children although they seem not to be – and even though he more often seems like the childish one, with his little tantrums and snits.
“Follow Me,” by Uncle Kracker
Sometimes in making these playlists I learn something new about a familiar song. For example, I had no idea that this song, which seems to be a sweet and simple love song if you’re not paying attention, is actually about an arrogant jerk who likes to sleep with married women. Huh. Also, “Uncle Kracker”?! On the subject of sex, that’s something that is largely absent from MAZE. The Minotaur has been used as a metaphor for animalistic or violent male lust (see, e.g., Picasso’s Minotaur prints), but aside from a bit of mild flirtation with the Thoughtful One in Room 19, this Minotaur is really more interested in insulting and confusing his guests, with the goal of trapping them forever in Room 24, than in having sex with them. Or in eating them, for that matter! Which has always bothered me a little. Eternal entrapment seems a strangely bloodless end for a famously voracious monster to arrange for his victims…
“Lead Me On” by Teena Marie
Gotta be honest, including this track is pure self-indulgence. Ah, those pre-teen memories of listening to the Top Gun soundtrack over and over while fantasizing about Iceman. (Yes, pillow-kissing may have been involved.) On a related tangent: didja ever hear about that time when someone was plastering Val Kilmer’s face and name all over Toronto?
“Your Daddy Don’t Know” by Toronto
“… What your mama’s gonna do tonight!” Speaking of Toronto, here’s some CanCon and a shout-out to the Guide’s family. Neither of the Minotaur’s two daddies, Minos and the white bull, knew what his mama, Queen Pasiphaë, was going to do that night when she got up to her ill-fated shenanigans. I blame you, Daedalus! When a cursed woman asks you to build her a cow costume so she can fuck a bull, YOU SAY NO.
“Centuries” Fall Out Boy
In Room 16, an ancient-looking stone chamber, the Guide muses that he is reminded of his old neighbours, whose descendants “are still telling stories about me and my family to their children,” a notoriety that he calls “immortality of a sort.” In a similar spirit, this anthem blusters, “Some legends are told/ Some turn to dust or to gold/ But you will remember me / Remember me for centuries.” It is a very silly song with a very silly video but I enjoy them both quite a lot.
“Minotaur’s Song” Incredible String Band
The Incredible String Band is a Scottish psychedelic folk group, and this is their Minotaur song, which includes such magnificent lines as: “I can’t dream well because of my horns” and “His habits are predicta-bull / Aggressively relia-bull bull bull…”
“Mini Mini Taur Taur” Tobuscus
If you listen to this, it will become an earworm that will torment you for the rest of your life, especially when you are trying to work or sleep. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
“Myth Me” Chilly Gonzales
“Are you still with me? / You’re gonna myth me…” We close on a wistful note with a lisping pun. The Guide puts up a good front, but perhaps all that sneering pride is just to hide the terrible loneliness of an eternity in the Maze with only occasional doomed visitors, an elusive man in formalwear, and a bunch of birds for company.