August 10th, 2009


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Party at the Leopard Colony

While some Ozian animals have chosen to enter polite society, others prefer to remain in the wild, where they seem to be largely outside Ozma's jurisdiction. One such habitat for wild animals is the Forest of Gugu in the Gillikin Country, home to every kind of animal from monkeys and wolves to elephants and walruses. Keeping these animals in line is the work of their ruler, a yellow leopard named Gugu. He is advised by his three counselors, the bear Bru, the gray ape Rango, and the unicorn Loo. These animals are known to be the wisest and most feared in the forest, although what we see of Loo in The Magic of Oz actually shows him acting rather foolish. Magic is the only canonical Oz book to feature King Gugu and his counselors, whom Ruggedo and Kiki Aru attempt to recruit in an attempt to conquer Oz. At one point in the book, Kiki transforms Gugu into a fat Gillikin woman, as shown here.

Yeah, I know a Gillikin woman should be wearing purple instead of red, but tell that to the person who colored these pictures. Anyway, moving into apocryphal territory, Eric Shanower wrote and illustrated a short story called "Gugu and the Kalidahs," with the leopard king facing down a renegade Kalidah named Bladgaar. (And if you don't know what a Kalidah is, check out the post I intend to write tomorrow.)

While the names of Bru and Rango are plays on the words "bruin" and "orangutan," it seems probable that Gugu's is simply a name L. Frank Baum made up. I mean, he'd already had an Ugu a few books earlier, and it definitely fits his tendency to use the "oo" sound quite frequently. I did, however, recently learn the interesting historical tidbit that there was a seventh century BC King of Lydia (in modern-day Turkey) named Gugu, although he was more commonly known by his Greek name of Gyges. Some scholars think he might be the Gog mentioned in the Bible. There's also an actress named Gugu Mbatha-Raw, but her IMDB page says that her first name is actually short for Gugulethu, which in Zulu means "our pride." Besides, she was born in 1983, and so obviously had no bearing on Baum's choice of name for his leopard monarch. {g}

I couldn't find a picture of Gugu online, and I don't have a scanner right now, so you'll just have to settle for this generic picture of a leopard. John R. Neill actually draws Gugu without spots (although that might have been just to save time) and with a crown tied to his head with string.

Incidentally, Glinda and her companions travel through the Great Gillikin Forest in Glinda, but it's not stated whether or not this is the same as the Forest of Gugu. James E. Haff and Dick Martin's map shows it as a different place, and Hugh Pendexter's books give it its own king, an elephant named Magnus.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Taxes

The Bullshit! episode on organic food still isn't up On Demand for some reason, so bethje and I haven't seen it yet. We have, however, watched the ones on lie detectors and taxes. I already knew that polygraph tests didn't really work (I'm sure they'd register pretty much everything I said as a lie, since I tend to be nervous), but I hadn't really thought about what their real purpose is. According to the show, it's simply to get a confession out of someone by convincing them that their lies can be detected, even though they really can't.

The tax episode wasn't as good, and I guess I'm somewhat biased on the subject, but there have been other Bullshit! episodes that I thought were well done even if I didn't totally agree with the conclusions (the smoking ban and gun ones, for instance). This one didn't seem to have much in the way of hard facts, aside from a few numbers. I suppose I'm fine with the general point that people need to speak up when they have problems with the government, rather than fearing reprisal. I don't think, however, that the tax system is the main concern in this respect. I won't deny that it has its problems, but there are much worse abuses of power occurring in our government than the complexity of income tax. And I didn't buy their argument that there was a time in our nation when anyone who didn't willfully break laws didn't have to fear the government. That honestly strikes me as the same kind of Golden Age thinking that they've criticized in other episodes. As long as there are people and power, there are going to be people abusing power. That's one reason why I'm in favor of added accountability in...well, most things. It seems kind of contradictory to me to oppose the IRS for their strong-arm tactics AND favor deregulation of businesses, yet plenty of people do. But that's another subject, isn't it?