By rights, this is the Last Blog before Mother’s Day. By rights, some sweet little encomium in honor of the cosmic bedrock that is motherhood should go right here. Hallmark insists. But frankly, Gleaners, I’ve been overwhelmed since April by an overabundance of mothering in the popular outlets.
After a decade of writing in the ‘60s, a mop-haired group of gangly young men seeking to overthrow the conventions of their times strode into pop culture and caused a commotion. No…not the Beatles. We’re speaking of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. And just like the Day-Glo-hued paisley prints that currently speckle this year's sales racks in trendy boutiques, these surrealistic comedy writers re-entered the public noodle with "Spam-a-Lot," which premiered on Broadway in 2005.
|Fully geared up: John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Eric Idle|
Revivalized, Monty Python resurfaced in countless print and media tributes. There were simpler presentations of their most popular skits and songs, like the paperback Monty Python Live!: The Never-Before-Told Story of Six-and-A-Half Men and a Girl, On the Road! (2009), compiled by the Pythons and friends. At the other extreme, virtual dissertations issued forth, epitomized if not trumped by Luke Dempsey’s 880-page opus with “all the bits”: Monty Python’s Flying Circus: Complete and Annotated--All the Bits (2012). It's such a chunky hardcover that a fan called it ‘a dangerous batch of reading,’ but it cannot be faulted for lacking any bits or bobs of Python lore. Did you know, for example, that the merciless chubby foot in Gilliam's animations is excerpted from a Bronzino cupid?Are we really to believe, though, that John Cleese’s real name is “Jack Cheese”?
More than just an exemplary doorstop, All the Bits has got to be the final word on Python’s output, since it purportedly includes every single skit or song or argument or gaffe from the group’s 45 BBC episodes between 1969 and 1974, material from all their live tours, and biographies on each participant. Between each dose of sarcasm, the annotations actually add fabulous explanations for the more obtuse Anglicizations, revealing the logic behind British japery and some Python origin and creation myths. This tour-de-force in 60s-style book design (think Peter Max, psychedelic) includes more than 2,000 photographs, and many Terry Gilliam animation panels. As Eric Idle blurbs, it's “Ideal for people who can’t read,” or “can be used to make a small bungalow sleeping eight,” and made Goethe quip, “I wish I’d stayed alive long enough to write this kind of stuff.”
|The Yorksh'a men in their Wellies and befuddlement: check out the annotations to learn about such Pythonesque archetypes.|
|Classic Python balletics from the Minister of Silly Walks|
Doesn’t everyone need a really good, stupid laugh these days? Even mummies?
|Mugging before the Hollywood Bowl show in the 70s: Palin, Jones, Idle, Chapman (1941-1989), Gilliam, Cleese|