Jack once said: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” t is possible that Jack came up with his admonition about the proper use of a club after hearing the nursery rhyme about Little Bunny Foo Foo. If you haven’t read “Call of the Wild” in the last 40 years, read it again. Excellent book filled with Alaskan gold rushers, city slickers falling into crevasses, mean dogs and wolves. Discover what Buck the Dog has been doing since 8th grade. Rumor has it that in the most recent edition Buck set sail on the Pequod with Ismael to chase Moby Dick. Maybe this time the whale will lose. Captain Ahab might win with the help of Buck.
Now to refresh your recollection of Bunny Foo Foo. “Little Bunny Foo Foo/ Hopping through the forest/ Scooping up the field mice/ And bopping them on the head/ And down came the Good Fairy and said: / Little Bunny Foo Foo/ I don’t want to see you/ Scooping up the field mice/ And bopping them on the head/.” The Good Fairy then threatens to turn Bunny Foo Foo into a Goon. Undeterred, Bunny Foo Foo continues mice head-bopping behavior.
What are we to make of this situation? A homicidal rabbit armed with Jack London’s club engaged in the serial killing of rodents. Why does the rabbit take this hideous action? What did the mice do to warrant such vengeance? Who appointed the Good Fairy as judge, jury and executioner of Ms. Foo? Why did generations of adults recite this murderous ode into the innocent ears of pre-school children? Ms. Foo gets her just comeuppance when she is transmogrified into a Goon. Given the choice between being a cute little homicidal bunny or a creepy goon, clearly the Good Fairy has imposed harsh punishment on Ms. Foo. This leads to the question of what is a Goon? Read on, MacDuff.
Take Jack London’s club and head down another road less taken. Ride on Mr. Peabody’s Way Back Machine into the land of 1950’s cartoons. “Popeye” was the first cartoon character to take on the Goons. Attend to what Mr. Google has to say about Goons. Unsurprisingly, Goons live on an uncharted isle called Goon Island. The Goons originated on the moon but somehow came to Earth. The details of how they got here remain murky. Goons are tall, somewhat human in appearance, and have well developed chests like steroidal NFL players. Their arms and legs are quite thin. They have bald heads and fur covering their naughty bits. The Head Goon is a female named Alice who fought Popeye. Being a gentleman, Popeye stopped fighting her once he discovered Alice was female. It is lost in the mists of time whether Little Bunny Foo Foo and Alice the Goon are the same being.
While pondering ancient cartoons let us consider a few more classics. The first cartoon I can recall was “Crusader Rabbit” and his pal, Rags the Tiger. Crusader wore a suit of armor and fought Dudley Nightshade and his evil helper Bilious Green. If you can personally remember Crusader Rabbit, then you probably should not drive at night. Another classic cartoon was Tom Terrific who appeared on the “Captain Kangaroo” show. Tom wore a funnel hat on his head. His faithful but dumb companion was Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog. The animation was primitive but Tom made up for it by fighting Crabby Appleton and singing a really fine theme song. “I’m Tom Terrific/ Greatest hero ever/ Terrific is the name for me/ Because I’m so clever/ … When there is trouble/ I’m there on the double/ From Atlantic to Pacific they know Tom Terrific/” This ear worm song will stick in the head of someone out there. You can thank me later.
“Winky Dink” was an interactive cartoon. You sent off for a piece of plastic to stick to the TV screen and some magic crayons to write on it. When Mr. Dink came to a place he needed a ladder, you drew the ladder on the screen and he would climb up your ladder. Many kids got into trouble by drawing directly on the TV without the plastic cover. I deny doing this.
Undoubtably, the creepiest cartoon of that period was “Clutch Cargo,” his boy side kick Spinner, and his dachshund Paddlefoot. Clutch was a pilot who fought a lot of pirates. The weird thing about Clutch was the cheapness of the animation. Most of the time the background didn’t move. When Clutch and the other characters talked, the animators just inserted real human mouths into the face of the characters. The moving lips in frozen faces was disturbing but not in a good way. Even Paddlefoot the dog had a human mouth.
So, what have we learned today? Sadly, almost nothing. All this blot on world literature has produced is the regret of having wasted a few moments of your lives reliving useless information from decades ago.
However, if you can now recite the “Ballad of Bunny Foo Foo” or sing the “Tom Terrific” song to irritate your significant other, then perhaps it is not a total loss. Blame Jack London. Or you can blame it on the Bossa Nova. Just don’t put the blame on Mame.