Thank You Very Much, YouTube
I think I was in the fourth grade when I got the best Christmas present ever. It was a plastic magenta Made-in-China radio. The only station it could pick up was the 80’s music station for disgruntled Gen-Xers, but man, I loved that thing.
It was 1997 and I was getting my musical education to the likes of Duran Duran and the B52’s. Remember, kids, we are living in a material world. Some of them want to hurt you, some of them want to get hurt by you. Nothing changes on New Year’s Day. And then there was that one song where the chorus kept going, “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.”
Whenever that song came on the radio, I would rush over and try to puzzle out what the lyrics meant. This was before the days when if you wanted a song, you could just go on the Internet and buy it. A megabyte was a lot of memory. As far as I could tell from repeated listenings, the song told the tragic story of Kilroy, who everybody thought was a robot. But why? And what was Mr. Roboto? The scientist who cyborgified Kilroy to save his life? And why did Kilroy keep saying “I am the maldrin man?” Was a maldrin some sort of automaton?
Oh, but the plight of poor Kilroy bugged me. Years passed, the memory faded, but I never really got over it. I think Kilroy is part of the reason I remain obsessed with robots and androids to this very day. That and an early brush with Isaac Asmiov.
But in the meanwhile, as I went about graduating from high school and then college, somebody invented this thing called YouTube. And Wikipedia. The other day, I idly searched for “domo arigato Mr. roboto.” Oh! The song was called “Mr. Roboto” and it was by a band called Styx. It was released in 1983 on an album with the same name. And Kilroy was a human. Who disguised himself as a robot to escape from prison. Modern Internet, thank you. You have just laid so many childhood worries to rest.
Now I just have to go figure out what happened to poor Major Tom.