April 19th, 2005

In my high school years, I developed a penchant for frogs. It began when I was in sophomore year biology. We had to dissect frogs, of course, and that meant killing them. Being young of years and tender of heart, I found this objectionable, although my deference to my teachers was stronger than my feelings for the frogs. Hence I went along, but felt a need to make a symbolic protest. So on the Day of Death, I showed up in class wearing a badly made button that said, "Killing a Frog is Like Killing a Friend". These were the days before political protest was acceptable in high schools; the teacher confiscated my button. Mrs. Isto, I think that was her name. I liked her even after she took my button.
The next developments came in my freshman year in college. I recall drawing a crude poster that showed a really poorly-drawn frog with the caption, "You can’t win ’em all". The frog said "Croak!". I thought it was funny.
Later that year, a girl I knew named Leslie Snider made me a stuffed frog. Thus was born Frogger-Rogger:

I took an immediate liking to Frogger, and took him everywhere I went. He rode with me on my motorcycle and every night I snuggled up with Frogger. I created a much better poster which has partially survived the ravages of time:

Many of my friends caught the Frogger bug. One made him an orange flight suit to match the orange flight suit that I wore when riding my motorcycle. Another made a little bag in which to carry Frogger. I made a teeny-tiny driver’s license to put into the pocket of his flight suit:

We developed a number of great Frogger games. There was Frog Dive-Bomber. In this game, a large group of us would go to the stairwell of a high building and position ourselves with one person on each flight of stairs. The topmost person would carefully position Frogger in the exact center of the gap in the center of the stairs, then cry "Frogs Away!" and drop Frogger. The goal was to drop Frogger so precisely that he would plummet to the very bottom of the stairwell, but nobody ever achieved it; his shape introduced some aerodynamic instabilities which invariably brought him into contact with the guard rails:

Another game we played was "ParaFrog". I made a lavender parachute for Frogger and we would drop him off of high buildings. During one of our early nocturnal experiments, I was waiting on the ground while my friends on the roof of a six-story dorm prepped Frogger for the jump . A co-ed came along as I was shouting up to them "Is it time yet?" She stopped and watched as they called down "Not yet!" As I stared up eagerly she inquired as to the nature of our doings. I replied, "Oh, he’s going to throw a frog off the roof." She went berserk, screaming at me about my cruelty and insensitivity. I cut her off with the reply, "Don’t worry, he’s got a parachute!" Just then, the guys on top shouted "Frogonimo!" and the girl screamed. A few seconds later, Frogger came floating down. Without saying a word, she got on her bicycle and rode off.

Frogger has continued to accompany to many places; I have pictures of Frogger in Rome, Paris, London, Sydney, and all manner of other locations.

Added August 13th, 2010: Some photos of Frogger in various places

While I was in grad school, we grad students were required to attend the weekly colloquia, in which dull professors from distant universities came to bore us with their dull research. The University of Missouri couldn’t attract top-name researchers, so we had to settle for third-string guys. We grad students resented this waste of our time, but it was required, so we showed up and tried to make the best of it. One day, there seemed to be some sort of delay, and the host professor seemed to be stalling things. My suspicions aroused, I saw a photographer at the top of the lecture hall setting up a camera. This struck me as an ideal opportunity for a little mischief, so I perched Frogger on my shoulder facing the camera.

A month or so later, I received an angry call to report to the office of one of the professors. He had a freshly-opened box on his desk, and I could see it was full of the new departmental brochures, used to attract grad students and present the department in its best light. Right there on the back cover of the brochure was this photo, with Frogger taking up as much visual space as our guest lecturer. He slapped the brochure down on the desk and demanded to know what he was going to do with 1,000 freshly printed brochures with this photo on them. It took a herculean effort on my part to suppress a wicked grin. “Gosh, I didn’t realize what was going on then”, I pled. He grumbled and I high-tailed it out of there.

Frogger and I in Sydney, Australia. I lectured in the Opera House down there but failed to take the opportunity to sing a little ditty during my lecture, thus depriving me of the right to claim that I have sung at the Sydney Opera House. I shall never forgive myself.

Frogger on the “Four Musicians of Bremen” Germany

Frogger at the Acropolis. Just after I took this shot, I was approached by a guard, who told that it was illegal to take photographs like this and she might have to confiscate my camera. I was genuinely confused and asked what made my photograph illegal. She said it was insulting to the heritage of the Greek people. I didn’t argue, I just asked her if it was OK to take pictures of dogs at the Parthenon. She said it was. “But not frogs?” I asked. “What about cats? Is it legal to take pictures of cats?” Yes, it was, she replied. “But not frogs?” I asked. At this point she said “Don’t take any more pictures like that!” and stomped off. 

Frogger in Barcelona