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Test Pattern: Gnip Gnop to giraffes

Plus: TV deaths, happy llamas, Winnie Cooper and math. By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

Five-link Friday: Gnip Gnop to giraffes

Another Friday, another five random links. It's funny, some readers write in to say that they love the five-link Fridays, and others can't stand it, exactly because of the randomness and the short takes on each link. What's that they say about not being able to please all of the people all of the time?

• You gnipped when you should have gnopped! If that sounds vaguely familiar to you, you might like to know that has been released for a whole new generation. Never heard of it? Try spelling the name backwards.

• USA Today's Whitney Matheson has compiled a list of the . I have to say I'm in agreement with Lt. Col Henry Blake on "M*A*S*H." I remember hearing that Gary Burghoff and the cast didn't know what was going to happen, and that their reactions were captured live. I can still hear the break in Burghoff-as-Radar's voice as he announced that the plane was "shot down...over the Sea of Japan...there were no survivors."

• This is either the greatest use of the Web ever or the stupidest, but I confess I can't get it out of my head: "Here's a llama, there's a llama, and another little llama, fuzzy llama, funny llama, llama, llama, duck." (Duck?) Warning: Video and sound may launch when you first go to the page, so be prepared.

• Danica McKellar is best remembered for playing cutie Winnie Cooper, Kevin Arnold's childhood love on "The Wonder Years." But acting is far from the only thing she does: She's a hardcore mathematician, and even co-authored research proving a new math theorem. From , you can read through math questions submitted to her by readers, and then her answers. Not being a math whiz, I got lost somewhere around the phrase "equivalent fractions," but I'm still impressed.

Reader-submitted link: "If you like the , check out the . Going to the zoo and feeding the giraffes by hand is much more relaxing but this is the next best thing."    —Pam
[Editor's Note: Giraffe Cam is truly awesome. Once I tuned in to see no giraffes, but now I just tuned in again to see five. Very cool!]

• Sept. 8, 2005 | 6 a.m. PT

Remembering Gilligan, more reader mail

I worried that I might be coming to the Gilligan topic too late, since Bob Denver's death was reported on a day I was out sick, but readers still do want to talk about both Denver and his famous alter ego, Gilligan. Here are some of your thoughts, on Denver and on other topics.

To jump directly to a mail topic, click here:--Gilligan remembered--Corded phones and 110 film--Soothing Web sites--Who does the voice of Ranch Tooth?

Gilligan remembered (from this discussion)“I always thought Gilligan was a first name too, until the TVGuide article, which a friend of mine had told me about. I call my dog Gilligan all the time because he gets his leash wrapped around himself when he plays with anything and has a real talent for the complexity of the tangle.”    --Lisa

“I think we have a little bit of Gilligan in each one of us. His cheery, ever-hopeful disposition and lack of cynicism is something we can all learn from.”    --Carolyn

“I cried when I found out Bob Denver died. You are right, wasn’t he perennially 20? I had my own Gilligan. My Dad. My dad died last year at this time. … I wrote his eulogy and it was about his hat. My dad looked very similar to Gilligan. He was truly a great man. My dad was perennially 20 also, and it seemed to catch me by surprise that he was Bob Denver was 70. … don’t we all know a Gilligan who will always be perpetually 20 something.”    --Jacqueline

“It wasn’t so bad growing up with the last name Gilligan. You do get tired of hearing the jokes.”    --Janet

“From Bob Denver himself at his personal Web site,, the character was .”   --Anonymous[Editor’s Note: Yep, the link makes mention of the fact that Denver always believed Willy was his character’s first name, but others still disagree.]

“Two names.. first name Gilbert last night Ligan became ‘Gilligan’.”   --Mike

The not-so-long ago (from this discussion)“I remember corded phones!  We had a party line - this was a phone line that was shared by two or more different households.  When you picked up the phone (and we only had one), you had to listen to make sure the neighbors were not using the line!  Our phone number started with letters, AM5 was our prefix, later changed to 255.”    --Kathy

“I’m an electrician and I go into people’s homes daily, the corded phone is alive and well,  From what I have seen 95% of the homes still have one. In my home we have 3 still + 3 cordless. it’s easier to answer the phone for my teenage kids because they lost the cordless phone and scream for us to answer the phone because they can’t find it.”    --Chuck

“In your list of “remember when?” and the infamous test pattern, remember when TVs did not broadcast 24 hours a day, they actually ‘went off the air’. My mom always talks about the car bed she used for my sisters and I, and how it was never strapped down, just sat on the bench of the back seat of the car.”    --Nancy

“My husband and I love entertaining our kids with stories about my own father’s “remote control” for the tv, back before there were even corded remotes. He’d just look at me or one of my sisters and say, “Get up and change the channel.” And we did.”    --Betty

“One item I haven’t seen listed is Gas Wars.  When competing service stations, or gas stations in modern parlance, would competitively drop the price on each other.  The last one I experienced of note was in Del Rio, TX in 1973 where I paid 11 cents a  gallon for regular, standard price was 39 cents.  In 1988 a station in Bismarck, ND attempted to start one and had their front window shot out by a competitor.  Ah, The times they are a changing.”     --Larry

“At 35 I kind of miss hearing the National Anthem and watching the thunderbirds fly over a super imposed flag at the end of the night when the local station would sign off. Peaceful bliss instead of info-mercials. Ahh those were the days. If you wanted to stay up late you were forced to listen to the radio, or gasp read.”   --Doug

“Remembering the not-so-long ago Single use flash bulbs and 110 size film.”    --Scott[Editor’s Note: Or film at all, what with digital cameras everywhere. I remember switching to APS so I could get the cool little contact sheet that showed you a whole roll of pictures at once.]

Soothing links (original links here)“Thanks so much for the link to the PandaCam.. It’s been up on my computer since Friday, and has really helped soothe the horrible images on the news and internet this past week.”    --Wendy

“I agree about escaping to the wonder of nature (Panda Cam) to get away from the horror of Nartural Disasters. I have a doe with twin fawns outside my back door that I watch in mornings and at dusk. To see those spotted beauties nursing while the vigilant mother watches over them—it takes my breath away every time!”    --M

“Awwww....The JCB Song and video is really, really sweet. Thanks for sharing that link!”    --Karen

Who does the voice of Ranch Tooth?“Could you please tell me who does the voice of the irritating Ranch Tooth? I must admit as much as I hate the commercial you don’t forget what the product is that is being advertised. So, I guess Wendy’s got their money’s worth for the ad.”   --Sharon[Editor’s Note: Does anyone know who voices Ranch Tooth? Sounds like Adam Carolla to me, but I can’t be sure.]

Gilligan’s name game

I was out sick yesterday when the news came through that . My first startled thought: When did Bob Denver get to be 70? Isn't he perennially 22, or 17, or 24? Youth just seemed to cling to him as much as his most famous roles, as Maynard G. Krebs, as the mighty sailin' man from "Gilligan's Island," or even as the goofy Junior from (He pushed the LAUNCH button instead of LUNCH -- why would a rocket even have a LUNCH button? Never mind...)

By all accounts, Denver was as kind a man in real life as Gilligan appeared to be on the Island, and his loss is a sad one. It also reminded me of the infamous Gilligan name controversy, simply: Was Gilligan the little buddy's first or last name?

I always assumed it was his first name, since it was all he was ever called. You might expect the Skipper to boss his first mate around by his last name, if not his rank, but would the other islanders, especially Mary Ann and Ginger, really call him by his last name?

Actor Bob Denver star of television series Gilligan's Island dies
Actor Bob Denver, who portrayed character Gilligan in the comedy series \"Gilligan's Island\", is seen in this undated publicity photograph from the series. Denver has died at Wake Forest University Baptist Hospital in North Carolina, according to agent Mike Eisenstadt in a statement issued September 6, 2005. He was 70. NO SALES NO ARCHIVES REUTERS/Reuters Files/HandoutX80001

As always, the best place to turn for this kind of information is, which explores the rumor that Gilligan did have a first name, . TV Guide reported that as fact back in 1993, and plenty of folks have picked it up (also note that the Skipper has a name too, and it's Jonas Grumby, a funny but somehow fitting moniker for Alan Hale's character).

Snopes' summary of the whole situation is worth a read if you're any sort of "Gilligan" fan. We learn that early writings sketched in a fitting past for Gilligan, as an ex-Navy cook who knew nothing about the sea, yet managed to convince the Skipper to hire him. That explains a lot, actually. And at one point, Sherwood "See? I didn't JUST do 'The Brady Bunch' " Schwartz supposedly said that only the Howells were referred to by their last names, meaning that "Gilligan" was indeed a first name. But what about Willy? Snopes' Barbara and David Mikkelson finally kind of throw up their hands and announce "Pick your favorite explanation and run with it."

Here's mine: Gilligan was his first name, and more importantly, it was his only name. Like Cher, or Madonna, or Prince (all of whom took first names as their stage names), he was one of those characters who could transcend the modern custom of filling in two lines on any registration form. While something about Willy, the cuteness of the "y" ending, perhaps, fits him, "Gilligan" alone fits him better. I've known of people with "Gilligan" as a last name, and they've got enough trouble getting through life, what with all the "little buddy" jokes. I have yet, however, to meet anyone else with "Gilligan" as a first name. It's fitting that the little red-shirted goofball is the only one I know. That's my explanation, and I'm sticking to it.