The Search for Mr. Muggs

#Childhood

Mon, Dec 14th, 1998 06:00 by Jester ARTICLE

The other day I was feeling pretty down and I decided to do something childish to cheer myself up. I do that from time to time. Once during my high school days, I went back to my old neighborhood—the apartment building I resided in when I was attended Grade 1 at Saint Gerard’s Elementary School. I did the whole tour—my old building, my old school, and I even treated myself to a Cherry Blossom—a confectionery I was addicted to when I was young.

So I saw where I used to have crab-apple fights. Where I used to toboggan. The parking garage where the local future Metal Shop Kids lit an old van wreck on fire. From this trip, I learned two things—Saint Gerard’s hasn’t changed a bit. In fact, I think the Metal Shops kids are still in enrolled there. It must be really weird having to teach 1st graders who shave and have a parole officer.

I also learned that the building I lived in when I was really young is a real fucking dump. We’re not talking ghetto here, but it was pretty brutal. I once tore my finger on some exposed metalwork in the stairwell wall (I still have the scar), and although the metalwork is done, I think the bloodstain is still there.

I never noticed what a dump it was until now. When you’re that young, you don’t notice shit that’s around you as much. You haven’t been exposed to the wide world of shit, so you didn’t always recognize it for what it is. Your shit detector doesn’t kick in until about your early teens.

Anyway, recently I got the urge to revisit my childhood again. I didn’t want to go back to the old ’hood, but I did have a taste for looking up an old childhood buddy.

Mr. Muggs.

For those of you who don’t know, and I suspect there are many, Mr. Muggs was the hero of a series of children’s books specifically designed for young grades. Mr. Muggs was a big friendly-looking white and grey sheepdog, who was owned by a little boy—my memory is shaky here—I think his name might have been Henry. Whoever he was, he and Mr. Muggs would go around having various adventures.

We started early with Mr. Muggs stories—one of the few brilliant ideas I’ve encountered in my education. As you progressed through the grades, they gradually increased the sophistication of the books. They gradually raised the bar of the reading ability necessary to appreciate the books, but since it was your ol buddy the Muggster, that’s exactly what you did. Like most kids my age, I loved Mr. Muggs.

I moved just after 1st grade ended, and went to a school where they didn’t teach the gospel according to Mr. Muggs. I was crushed. Looking back, I think this was the first signpost that indicated that life was really going to suck sometimes.

Nearly 20 years later, here I am trying to look up my old friend. I can’t very well go marching back into St. Gerard’s and demand to see these old books, they’d think I was some pedophile and lock me up. Besides, they probably don’t use them anymore (Mr. Muggs books, not pedophiles). Gotta keep up with the late 90s. And since rampant consumerism has forced children to grow up faster, they’re probably reading Georgy’s First Foreskin Piercing or something like that now.

Fortunately, I have an Internet connection, and if you have an Internet connection, you have access to the largest collection of the most useless information. If someone actually took the time to make a page dedicated to that old show Tales Of the Gold Monkey (http://members.aol.com/pma082267/goldmonkey/board.html—oh, an AOL user too.), then surely someone, somewhere, has posted information about Mr. Muggs. So I went to the search engines and began my quest. This is a record of what I found.

My search was somewhat disappointing.

[Pixie Dust Productions
Gallery of Dolls Click on Thumbnails to view full size pictures
Swizzle An Elf For Al
http://www.pixiedust.com/gallery.html]

Pixie Dust Productions sounds awfully poofy. Nonetheless, sometimes children’s books and entertainment companies are given very sugary names, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

It turns out that it’s a gallery of those weird ceramic figures that deranged old ladies and Martha Stewart types break out around Christmas. They have elves, fairies, Father Christmas, etc. Muggs is the name of one them, described as an "8 inch elfin boy with red hair and a poseable body dressed in black and white with sculpted shoes." Despite clothing that would get him beaten up on the playground, Muggs looks distinctly evil. I think it’s the eyes. Remember visiting relatives when you were a kid and sleeping in an adult’s room? You know how they always had some knickknack strategically placed in the room that completely freaked you out? This is just such a figure. Put this in a room over night with a four year-old and he’d be screaming it was trying to eat him in the morning. Not an auspicious start to my quest.

[GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: Trainer Talk
http://www.nba.com/warriors/00556938.html]

Intriguing...Mr. Muggs in the NBA? He seemed a little short for the NBA, but who knows?

"Q: Hi Tom! I’m writing because I was wondering what the status is on Muggsy Bogues. I read that he recently tore his hamstring. How long do you think it will be until Warrior fans get to see Muggs back in the lineup?"

Aha. This page is a Q&A forum for Tom Abdenour, the trainer of the Golden State Warriors. Since Muggs is the last name in question, and Muggsy Bogues has "Muggs" in his first name, obviously he is not the sheepdog I’m looking for. In fact, I suspect he isn’t a sheepdog at all.

Mr. Abdenour answers with a basic status report of the injury. I would have answers thusly.

A: Thank you for you inquiry about Muggsy Bogues. You will not, however, be seeing him in the lineup any time soon. The NBA is on strike. Not every player has a running shoe named after him, so the player’s union is demanding justice. On the plus side, that hamstring is unlikely to suffer any further strain in a picket line.

[Linda My Snazzy List of Links
This page has been visited times. ALOHA Fy fan vikken tr?kig sajda jag har gjort!! Jag vill ha egna bilder p? min sida t
http://members.tripod.com/~Kelli_Sk8/blackmilk.html]

I don’t know what this is, but the counter indicated that I was visitor #1. Hey, do I get some kind of prize? It just seems to be a list of various Internet handles and a handful of links that don’t work. The name "Muggs" is sandwiched between "Mr.Mosstone" and "Nada Surf ." Some of the handles indicate ravers and abbreviate the word "skate" to "sk8." So I didn’t find my childhood buddy, but if anyone is in the market for misspelled handles and nauseating Internet shortform, have a I got a link for you.

[The Karaoke Store & More - The Where To Sing Page
http://www.karaokestore.com/venues.htm]

Here I found a listing of places that have karaoke in the Norteastern corner of the United States. Curiously enough, the page is labeled "The Best Places To Sing Karaoke" and not "Places to Avoid Like a Speed Trap."

There is a place known as "Muggs Pub" in Suffern, New York. If it has a karaoke bar, there’s an i missing between the r and the n. I really hope Mr. Muggs didn’t end up there. The thought of him presiding over a bunch of drunken Islander fans standing shakily on stage and singing "Margaritaville" makes me sink into a deep depression.

"Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame, and I know it’s my own damn fault."

[http://us.imdb.com/Tsearch?title=mr+muggs&type=substring &from_year=1890&to_year=2005&sort=smart&tv=both&x=14&y=5]

The IMDB is an excellent resource for movie lovers. Seeing this link to Mr. Muggs lead to it, I wondered if Mr. Muggs went Hollywood.

Looks like Mr. Muggs was a character in a series of movies that began in the early 1940s, well before the reign of my Muggsy. The first to mention the character directly was Mr. Muggs Steps Out (1943). Curiously enough, despite being the title character, Muggs is billed 7th (and Muggs is his first name, not his last— Ethelbert Aloysius "Muggs" McGinnis). He’s played by Leo Gorcey, who seems to have made a career of about 87 movies playing just two characters almost exclusively. Muggs is one, Slip Mahoney is the other. Interestingly enough, his final movie, release after his death (The Phynx, 1970) list Leo Gorcey is in the credits as "Himself." Must have been a tough role to slip into after all that time.

[WashingtonPost.com: The Cult Controversy
PEOPLE’S TEMPLE Jim Jones, People’s Temple leader, and his wife, Marceline. UPI photo MORE ABOUT PEOPLE’S TEMPLE Survivor: ’They Started
With the Babies’ The Final ...
29% Date: 29 Jul 1998, Size 13.0K,
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/cult/people/people4.htm]

This link didn’t work, and that drive me crazy. God in Heaven, please tell me that Mr. Muggs isn’t connected with some suicide cult. That’s like learning the one cool teacher in school embezzled millions from the school board and fled the country...wait, actually, that would be pretty cool. Okay, it’s like learning the one cool teacher in school became a vice principle and lost all sense of humor (a requirement of the position).

Picture this: a child growing up watching Peewee’s Playhouse. Twenty years later, he thinks fondly about his youth and the shows he used to watch on Saturday morning. From him, the represent a time of joy, imagination, and innocence. He recalls that the show was suddenly canceled, and wonders why. Then he’s told "Because Peewee was caught jerking off in a porno theater." What was that? That was the sound of a treasured childhood illusion shattering, thank you very much. Associating Mr. Muggs with a death cult does exactly the same thing for me. So I gotta know—what the hell was the link?

[ << | One B.A.D. Rap World | >>
http://www.galactica.it/101/black/rap/groupe/index_m.htm]

This turned out to be a page listing rap performers. They all had names that were misspelled, like "Mystikal" or had an incoherent and somewhat repetitive moniker such as "Missy Missdemeanor Elliott." Could Mr. Muggs have left children’s literature to become a gangsta rapper?

Yo ho, call me Muggs
get down and i call off my thuggs
it’s lyrical, and a miracle
you gonna get rich
if you be my bitch
show me the honey,
I show you the money
they say its crimes
when I lay down the rhymes
coz they say a brother like me gotta do the time

Somehow I couldn’t picture the beloved sheepdog of my youth singing that. Or wearing baggy pants, surrounded by a pile of money and women in swimsuits and high heels with a scowl like he’s constipated, which seems to be all that’s required to be a rapper these days (That, or sample someone else’s song.). It’s true. I think rappers are trying to look like they have an attitude, but to me it looks like they’re feeling the itch of some embarrassing ailment below the belt. I know it’s not nice to speak ill of the dead, but whenever I see pictures of Notorious B.I.G. the scowl on his face makes me want to recommend something that clears up hemorrhoids.

It turns out that it wasn’t my Mr. Muggs on listed on this page. As near as I can tell, "Muggs" was the stage name of a rapper who had been with several different groups. I knew Mr. Muggs couldn’t have gone in for this sort of thing. The Mr. Muggs books were far better written.

TO BE CONTINUED?

I tried Lycos, Infoseek, and Yahoo, but no luck. As you can tell, all I found was a lot of useless information. Curiously enough, none of the engines in went through turned up a sex link, which is odd, because sometimes the Internet seems to consist 90% of porn. You could do a search for window caulking and turn up a sex link ("These are images I found on alt.sex.sheep.n.chickens.window.caulking...").

Now I know somewhere someone is obsessively looking for an 8 inch elfin boy with red hair and a poseable body dressed in black and white with sculpted shoes, so I hope they read this and realize their quest. I guess I have one more micro-obsession to add to my own list though. Anyone who remembers Mr. Muggs, and/or knows where I can find him, please contact me using the forums below.

[Update: Mister Mugs Has Been Found]

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