January 21st, 2008

krazy koati

It's as easy as peeling a banana

Sigh ... some more sad news from the pop cultural world. The first to reach me was the death of Allan Melvin, a name I'm not sure I would have recognized before learning of his death, but one of his characters was certainly in my mind: he provided the voice for Magilla Gorilla. I don't want to make it sound like every Hanna-Barbera cartoon ever was deeply important to my personality, but Magilla was one that I liked early and watched devotedly. He just had a splendidly simple and possibility-rich premise: Magilla for sale in the Peebles Pet Store, but the market for home gorillas is terribly flat, and Mister Peebles has a pretty generous return policy. I suppose the city insists on it given the number of times Magilla accidentally required the intervention of fire, police, and National Guard units.

This was one of those cartoons that stuck in my forming brain in a way that, say, Breezley and Sneezley never would. First, I was bothered by the idea of putting up for sale a person who was at least as competent as anyone else in the world just because he happened to be a gorilla. Second, and this may shock anyone who's seen typical Hanna-Barbera productions, the various portrayals of the Peebles Pet Store were not always consistent between shots. I spent a lot of time trying to reconcile the different layouts of the store from different angles and if you think I have matured enough to not waste my time on such things anymore, well, I once left a Trek forum forever (so far) because of an argument in which I advanced the opinion that by the time of The Next Generation ocean-going ships would certainly use force fields and antigravity.

The other sad news is of Suzanne Pleshette, who had the unenviable task of being a wife funny enough to stay on-screen with Bob Newhart and did it pretty near perfectly. Watching The Bob Newhart Show today reveals for me a tension I hadn't noticed before -- not to mention a remarkable number of times that Doctor Bob Hartley was just a jerk -- but, boy, she hit the right comic moments perfectly. It's a shame to lose her, but I suppose she can't stay around forever.

Trivia: Ginger ale is 92 percent water. Raw cabbage is 92.4 percent water. Source: The New York Public Library Desk Reference Set, Editorial Directors Paul Fargis, Sheree Bykofsky.

Currently Reading: Nightworld, David Bischoff.