Friday, August 20, 2004

Don’t mess with the monkey

There is something about a mechanical monkey with cymbals that both cracks me up and kind of disturbs me. This monkey sits above my computer screen and glares at me. I found him on sale at an antique mall. Even with batteries, he doesn’t play the cymbals anymore, unless you manually push on his head. Unfortunately, over the years one too many people have pushed on his head and the fake fur on his forehead has slipped a bit, giving him this kind of demented look of someone who has had a lobotomy.

And why do I keep a demented, non-functional mechanical monkey sitting above my computer screen? Heck if I know. He kind of grows on you.

I tried finding out the history of my mechanical monkey on Google. You can find out an amazing amount of minutia on the Web. I half way expected to find a or the unofficial mechanical-monkey-playing-the-cymbals Web site, but nope. Not this time. There were tons of pages about mechanical monkeys. I did find out that my monkey (well, one like him anyway) was featured in a bad 1984 scary picture called “The Devil’s Gift.” It was about a little boy who receives a mechanical, cymbal-playing monkey as a gift (nice thing to give a little kid). Every time the monkey plays the cymbals, someone dies. It was rumored that the movie was loosely based on a Stephan King short story with the same plot. And we all know how well Stephan King stories do when they are turned into movies. Yes, the movie bombed and was re-cut into a 1996 movie about Merlin’s Toy Shop. I gather that, too, bombed and is probably out there somewhere on DVD. But the bottom line is I’m not the only one who thinks the mechanical monkey is kind of demonic looking (not unlike the people who write reviews at

My search for the monkey’s history did trigger a memory of seeing one on television way back in the days of black-and-white TVs (yes, I’m that old). I think it was on a rerun of an old Ernie Kovak show (and no, I’m not old enough to have seen the original). They used to do this disturbing skit with what was called, the Nairobi Trio. Actors dressed as monkeys would play this song and one of them would always use the other one’s head as a drum. And somewhere in there I think was my mechanical monkey banging his cymbals and grinning his obscene little grimace.

So, there you have it. From somewhere in my subconscious mind, a memory from early television, surfaced when I walked through the antique mall and saw my mechanical monkey. And now he sits watching me, frozen in time.

But on this blog, he will bang his cymbals forever every time the pages is refreshed and never have to worry about dead batteries again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My grandfather had one of those monkeys when I was growing up.When we would visit he would turn it on and dance around clapping his hands.I was on here looking to see if I could find one.Take care of yours.As you notice the covering is commonly rotting.I still have my Grandpa's but the pants have rotted away.