Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Grumpus

In my last post, Rising Moon, I inserted a link to so that listeners could hear a song in its entirety, as opposed to the 30-second snippet provided by other websites.  While embedding this link, I foundered: pathways which initially had worked to play the song stopped working, alternate pathways would compensate but then they stopped working; also, an intrusive and confounding Pop-Up Blocker Detected window kept opening.  It later turned out this window was easy to use and I needn't have been put off by it, but I've a shallow learning curve in technical matters.  (2016 Update: I have subsequently replaced the Rhapsody widget with a succession of embedded music players, the current one being PodSnack.)

Amidst my confusion I had a memory from childhood –– of a board game on which I would be traveling a path toward some goal, following random directions from a set of cards.  There were bad guys in this game whose purpose was to delay my progress.  The chief bad guy was named Grumpus; or something like that, I couldn't remember.

I also couldn't remember the board game's name though I did recall it was one of those Snakes and Ladders games in which you are similarly on a path ... only to be dropped or ascended into another level where things might or might not go well –– like the vicissitudes of air, sea, or land travel.

Anyway, I began to experience the website as a board game, with the role of Grumpus played by the Pop-Up Blocker Detected window.  Curious about my childhood memory, I quizzed friends and family regarding memories of children's board games and Grumpus.  Happily for me, people responded and I learned some things.

I thanked my helpers, and what follows is an excerpt from my thank-you letter to one of those helpers, my sister.  It reveals partial answers:

     Dear ----, I believe the board game in question was 
     Uncle Wiggily.  It had two bad guys, The Skeezicks 
     and (the one that really troubled me) The Bad 
     Pipsisewah –– a horned rhino-like beast which in 
     some editions of the game presented inexplicably
     as a large red squid.  (What, one wonders, was The 
     Good Pipsisewah?)  Now the Uncle Wiggily book
     also had a character named Bazumpus, although I 
     don't remember its nature or intentions.
     Anyhow, I believe I conflated The Bad Pipsisewah
     with Bazumpus and came out (strangely) with Grumpus.
     It's also possible I did nothing of the sort.

     Your inclusion into this mix of Dad's
     "Oh, don't be such a grumpus"
     complicates things with psycho-
     dynamic possibilities.  Dad was from
     Tennessee, of course, where perhaps
     they say things like that.  So the roots
     of my confusion may lie variously in
     board games, literature, family 
     relations, or Tennessee.

UNCLE WIGGLY (1954 Edition)
I believe I am only at the dawn of understanding here, but perhaps in time clarity may come.  One thing to add, though, before closing.  The destination in the game, the place at the end of the trail where we wind up, that place is Dr. Possum's House.  This is something we can all think about.

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