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Posts Tagged ‘Monty Python

“Punning is a talent which no man affects to despise but he that is without it”*…

 

The English language is almost nightmarishly expansive, and yet there is no good way to respond when someone drops a bad pun in casual conversation.

“Stop” seems ideal, but it’s too late—they already did it. If your esophagus cooperates, you can mimic a human chuckle, or you can just steamroll through, ignoring the elephant now parked in your conversational foyer. Either way, having to deal at all with the demand that wordplay be acknowledged is probably the reason so many people think they hate puns.

Those people are wrong…

More on this variety of not-merely-meretricious merriment at : “If You Think You Hate Puns, You’re Wrong.”

* Jonathan Swift

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As we ponder Alfred Hitchcock’s assertion that “puns are the highest form of literature,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that Monty Python was formed.  Graham Chapman was trained and educated to be a physician, but that career trajectory was never meant to be.  John Cleese was writing for TV personality David Frost and actor/comedian Marty Feldman at the time, when he recruited Chapman as a writing partner and “sounding board”.  BBC offered the pair a show of their own in 1969, when Cleese reached out to former How To Irritate People writing partner Michael Palin, to join the team.  Palin invited his own writing partner Terry Jones and colleague Eric Idle over from rival ITV, who in turn wanted American-born Terry Gilliam for his animations.

The Pythons considered several names for their new program, including “Owl Stretching Time”, “The Toad Elevating Moment”, “Vaseline Review” and “A Horse, a Spoon and a Bucket.”  “Flying Circus” had come up as well.  The name stuck when BBC revealed that they had already printed flyers, and weren’t about to go back to the printer.

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Written by LW

May 11, 2018 at 1:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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“The child’s laughter is pure until he first laughs at a clown”*…

 

Catering to bikers, truckers, and other long haul travelers that find themselves off the beaten path, the Clown Motel is the final port of call before the yet another stretch of unbroken Nevada desert. It must be this location’s oasis-like location that has kept the establishment in business for so long, as the ever-watchful eyes of the ubiquitous clown figurines seem to serve more as a warning than a draw. From the moment travelers enter the adjoining offices they are greeted by a life-size clown figure sitting in a chair, cradling smaller figurines like familiars. In fact the entire office is covered in shelves and bookcases full of clown dolls, statues, and accouterment of every stripe. Stuffed animals, porcelain statues, wall hangings, and more make up the mirthful menagerie, staring down at guests from every angle.

Leaving the office with key in hand, visitors might also notice an arch just feet away heralding the “Tonopah Cemetery.” Just beyond the gate is a century-old miner’s graveyard made up of a gaggle of wood and stone markers. The very Platonic ideal of a haunted cemetery…

For those unafflicted by coulrophobia, “Clown Motel.”

* Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus

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As we pop on our red noses, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that the BBC premiered a new comedy sketch show– then improbably, now legendarily– entitled Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

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Written by LW

October 5, 2016 at 1:01 am

“The greater part of the world’s troubles are due to questions of grammar”*…

 

POLICE CHIEF
Strunk! White! Get your asses in here!

STRUNK and WHITE enter, shooting sidelong glances at each other. Before they can sit, the COMMISSIONER flings a newspaper at them; WHITE clumsily catches it.

POLICE CHIEF
Look at this disaster!

WHITE (reading the headlines)
“Police Not Effective as Campus Stalked by Crossword Killer, Student Body in Terror.” Oh, Christ, what a mess.

STRUNK
Indeed.

POLICE CHIEF
You’re damn right it is! I just got off the phone with the mayor, and let me tell you, she is not happy!

STRUNK
I can see why. An evasive denial rather than a definite assertion, the passive voice — haven’t the copy writers even taken basic composition? And that gruesome phrase, “student body”! My god! “Studentry” is a much more elegant term! Or simply “students.”

More at “Scenes From Our Unproduced Screenplay: ‘Strunk & White: Grammar Police’.”

* Michel de Montaigne

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As we ponder our parsing, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that the BBC premiered a new comedy sketch show– then improbably, now legendarily– entitled Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

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Written by LW

October 5, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Know what I mean?”*…

 

John Cleese playing an arrogant newsreader being beastly about a French trade union leader on screen. Unrelated Victorian erotica in the background and a booming voice-over self-importantly announcing the name of the show. It’s pure Monty Python — except it isn’t. This surreal scenario, in which the “French” Marty Feldman comes out of the screen to interact with a now surreally masked Cleese, is from the final episode of At Last the 1948 Show. Brits loved this satirical half-hour of sketches that preceded Monty Python’s Flying Circus by a year, and were largely written by the legendary duo — Cleese and his college mate Graham Chapman — who would go on to be one of the principal writing partnerships behind the Pythons.

What’s special about this last-ever episode is that, like the very first, it’s been lost for nearly 40 years…

Read the whole of this happy tale– and see both of the newly-recovered episodes– at “The Early Days of Monty Python.”

* Eric Idle, in the third Monty Python’s Flying Circus episode, “How to Recognise Different Types of Trees From Quite a Long Way Away”

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As we agree that “it’s funny, isn’t it? How your best friend can just blow up like that?”, we might send birthday greetings to two Tommys– Tommy Kirk and Tommy Rettig– whose young lives were spent with dogs; both were born on this date in 1941.

Having appeared as one of the Hardy Boys in a serial that ran on the (original) Mickey Mouse Club, Tommy Kirk got his big break when he was cast in the juvenile lead in Old Yellar.  He went on to star in a number of successful Disney pictures (e,g,, The Shaggy Dog and The Misadventures of Merlin Jones), and then in a number of “beach party” flicks. By the mid-70s, Kirk had developed, then beaten a drug problem, and dropped out of acting.  While he occasionally appears on screen (Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold. 2006), he has primarily been engaged in building and running a carpet-cleaning business in the San Fernando Valley.

Though he had previously appeared in 18 films (including your correspondent’s beloved The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, written by Dr. Seuss), Tommy Rettig is surely best remembered as “Jeff Miller”– Lassie‘s boy.  Rettig too had a brush with drugs, but pulled out of it to become a very successful software engineer/database programmer (he was an early employee of Ashton-Tate).

Tommy Kirk and Yellar

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Tommy Rettig and Lassie

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Written by LW

December 10, 2014 at 1:01 am

Yes, but what *is* “a ball”?…

Coming to a stadium in North London this Sunday [2010]: a tribute/replay of Monty Python’s “The Philosophers’ Football Match,” featuring Socrates Wanderers vs. Nietzsche Albion, all in support of the Philosophy Shop’s “Four Rs” campaign (a movement to get “reasoning” added to “reading, writing. and ‘rithmetic”).  Great cause; great fun.

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As we hear “Frege” and “Kant” exclaimed in response to a Yellow Card (…at least, that’s what it sounded like), we might recall that it was on this date in 1925 that John T. Scopes was served the warrant that led to his being the defendant in Scopes vs. The State of Tennessee (aka “the Scopes Monkey Trial”).

Tennessee had responded to the urgings of William Bell Riley, head of the World’s Christian Fundamentals Association, and passed a law prohibiting the teaching of evolution– the Butler Act; in response, The American Civil Liberties Union offered to defend anyone accused of violating the Act.  George Rappleyea, who managed several local mines, convinced a group of businessmen in Dayton, Tennessee, a town of 1,756, that the controversy of such a trial would give Dayton some much needed publicity. With their agreement, he called in his friend, the 24-year-old Scopes, who taught High School biology in the local school– and who agreed to be the test case.

The rest is celebrity-filled history, and star-studded drama.

Scopes in 1925

Your correspondent is a few too many time zones away to allow for timely posting of a new missives; so this is a note from a Cinco de Mayo past; regular service should resume tomorrow… Meantime, Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

G Whiz…

In Rio, at the 2016 Olympics, the same jump will get an athlete >1 cm higher than that jump at the London Olympics in 2012…

From the ever-illuminating xkcd.

As we rethink our choice of venue, we might wish a humorously absurd Happy Birthday to Terry Jones, author, screenwriter, director, actor, television host– and most famously, founding member of Monty Python.  He was born on this date in 1942.  Among his many awards, “9622 Terryjones,” an asteroid in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, was named in his honor.

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Yes, but what *is* “a ball”?…

Sticking with yesterday’s focus on sports…

Coming to a stadium in North London this Sunday: a tribute/replay of Monty Python’s “The Philosophers’ Football Match,” featuring Socrates Wanderers vs. Nietzsche Albion, all in support of the Philosophy Shop’s “Four Rs” campaign (a movement to get “reasoning” added to “reading, writing. and ‘rithmetic”).  Great cause; great fun.

As we hear “Frege” and “Kant” exclaimed in response to a Yellow Card (…at least, that’s what it sounded like), we might recall that it was on this date in 1925 that John T. Scopes was served the warrant that led to his being the defendant in Scopes vs. The State of Tennessee (aka “the Scopes Monkey Trial”).

Tennessee had responded to the urgings of William Bell Riley, head of the World’s Christian Fundamentals Association, and passed a law prohibiting the teaching of evolution– the Butler Act; in response, The American Civil Liberties Union offered to defend anyone accused of violating the Act.  George Rappleyea, who managed several local mines, convinced a group of businessmen in Dayton, Tennessee, a town of 1,756, that the controversy of such a trial would give Dayton some much needed publicity. With their agreement, he called in his friend, the 24-year-old Scopes, who taught High School biology in the local school– and who agreed to be the test case.

The rest is celebrity-filled history, and star-studded drama.

Scopes in 1925

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

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