Minor Unnecessary Notes: The last word on the cover blurb from Cleese (not present on the edition pictured below) is supposed to be in italics. Un-italicized, it ruins the whole point of using the quote, actually. Also, I’ve preserved the punctuation but belatedly realize that my program is going to auto-switch some of it from the UK to the US ... forgot to add a “intentional non-US punctuation” subroutine (along with twelve thousand other things). Chor. Tull.
Thursday, November 12th 1970: Shooting at a pet shop in the Caledonian Road [ ... ] In the pet shop there is scarcely room to move, but the angel fish and the guppies and the parrots and the kittens and the guinea pigs seem to be unconcerned by the barrage of light – and the continuous discordant voices. The shop is still open as we rehearse. One poor customer is afraid to come in, and stands at the door, asking rather nervously for two pounds of Fido. ‘Two pounds of Fido,’ the cry goes up, and the message is passed by raucous shouts to the lady proprietor. ‘That’s 15/-,’ she says. ’15/-,’ everyone starts to shout. We’re finished by 5.30. Outside the shop is a little boy whose father, he tells us, is coming out of the nick soon.
’What’ll you do when he comes out?’
’I hate him.’
’Why do you hate him?’
’He’s a ponce.’
All this cheerfully, as if discussing what kind of fish fingers he likes best. [pg 43]
Thursday, August 5th 1971, Southwold: At the same time, in London, Richard Neville (footnote: The editor of Oz magazine asked for teenage schoolkids to put together an edition. The 'schoolkids’ produced an issue which put Neville and others in the dock at the Old Bailey, accused of corrupting morals and intending to ‘arouse and implant in the minds of those young people lustful and perverted desires’. His long hair was ordered to be forcibly cut) was being sentenced to fifteen months’ imprisonment for publishing the Schoolkids issue of Oz. I can’t help feeling that he would have appreciated this countryside for the same reasons that I do – and yet the only way society has of dealing with his imagination and intelligence is put him away for over a year. [pg 62]
Friday, December 31st 1971: The split between John and Eric and the rest of us has grown a little recently. It doesn’t prevent us all from sharing – and enjoying sharing – most of our attitudes, except for attitudes to work. It’s the usual story – John and Eric see Monty Python as a means to an end – money to buy freedom from work. Terry J is completely the opposite and feels that Python is an end in itself – i.e. work which he enjoys doing and which keeps him from the dangerous world of leisure. In between are Graham and myself. [pg 65]
Wednesday, March 15th 1972: [ ... ] The filming went smoothly, as it has done all this week. John C hasn’t been with us, as he dislikes filming so much that he had a special three-day limit written into his contract. [pg 74]
Friday September 27th 1974: Disadvantages of being dressed as a [policeman] were that, as I waited for the cue for action, I would be approached by Americans asking where they could find a restaurant where they wouldn’t need to wear a tie and harassed motorists asking me where the GLC licensing department was. One old lady approached me, stared hard at my false moustache and said, ‘What are you?? Real or a fake?’
’Have a guess,’ I said.
She surveyed my loose moustache and pinned-up hair for a moment; ‘You’re real.’ [pg 189]
Thursday, February 20th 1975: Another Python meeting. [ ... ] A selection of letters are read out to the assembled gathering. From CBC Canada – ‘We would like the Python group to contribute up to ten minutes of material for a special programme on European Unity. The group can decide --’ the reading was interrupted here by farting noises and thumbs-down signs. [pg 208]
Sunday, March 9th 1975, New York: [ ... ] Over to Channel 13, which is in a small, cramped, but friendly basement a couple of blocks from the UN and on the edge of the East River. In the studio is a small presentation area, in which sits Gene Shalit, a genial Harpo-Marx sort of character. [ ... ] Gene Shalit’s children are there (his daughter, who can’t have been more than fifteen, leaned conspiratorially towards me and whispered softly, ‘You know, Python and grass go very well together’) [ ... ] [pg 216]
Thursday, March 13th 1975, Philadelphia: Left Philly at 3:45 with fond memories. Arrived in Washington about 5:00. We have a sumptuous suite in the Watergate Complex, overlooking the Potomac. (A dirty river, a lady reporter told me – especially where it flows past the Pentagon, where it is full of used prophylactics.) I go around stuffing my case full of anything marked ‘Watergate’ – soap, writing paper, even, to Graham’s irritation, the room service menu. [pg 220]
Sunday, March 16th 1975, Navarro Hotel, New York: Ron Devillier picked us up at 12.00 and took us for a drive round Dallas. Devillier, clearly no lover of the downtown area – though he lives in Dallas – shows us the Kennedy Memorial, which it took eight years to put up. He says that now it is hard to imagine how much people in Dallas hated President Kennedy and all he stood for. After his assassination, classes of schoolkids cheered and a teacher who tried to give her class a day off in Kennedy’s memory was fired. [pg 222]
Tuesday, November 25th 1975: Terry comes up after lunch and we go over to Studio 99 in Swiss Cottage to look at the cassette recordings of Python’s first ABC compilation. A very cool American voice – the kind we would only use as a send up – announces, quite seriously, that ‘The Wide World of Entertainment presents the Monty Python Show’. It started well, with ‘The World’s Most Awful Family’, which works a treat after the smooth and glossy ABC packaging of the show, but then the cuts begin. The cat-in-the-wall bell push (a big laugh in the studio) is cut, the man pouring blood all over the doctors is cut after the opening lines – before the point of the sketch has even begun. In the ‘Montgolfier Brothers’ the words ‘naughty bits’ are bleeped out!! In fact any reference to bodily function, any slightly risqué word, anything, as Douglas Adams put it, ‘to do with life’, was single-mindedly expunged. The cuts which to me seemed the most remarkable were in the ‘Neutron’ sketch, when I played the US Bombing Commander who had personal odour problems. The character was in, but every appearance was topped and tailed to avoid all reference to his bodily hygiene. As that was the only original and Pythonesque twist to the character, he just came out as a below-average imitation of George C. Scott. [pg 267]
Tuesday, February 8th 1977: Finished, at last, a six-month-old pile of fan letters. Mostly from Japan, beautifully written, generally on very delicate paper, and nearly always beginning ‘I am a schoolgirl of 14’, as if to add a frisson of danger for the reader. The language is fine too. Python is translated as ‘Gay Boys’ Dragon Show’ on Japanese TV, and one of the letter eulogises ‘Upper Class Twit of the Year,’ but calls it, splendidly ‘The Aristocratic Deciding Foolish No. 1 Guy’. American letters, too, but coarser and more violent generally, shouting at me off the page. [pg 362]
Wednesday, January 18th 1978, Barbados: [Sir Ronald Tree]’s finest work, apart from hosting Winston [Churchill], Eden, General Sikorski and others, was to exert as much pressure as he could to bring America into the war. He tells in his book of meeting leading American businessmen who, in 1941, were predicting a defeat for England – and the Chairman of Sears Roebuck at the time told him it would be a good thing anyway, Britain had become degenerate and Europe badly needed German leadership. [pg 433]
The writers sensed and appreciated this and went off to rewrite, while myself, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray – grim-faced and unshaven – and Garrett Morris – the neat, chirpy black member of the cast – began first rehearsal for our Chilites dance routine. Sometimes I find it hard to figure out quite how Lorne’s mind works. He loves the Chilites’ song ‘Have You Seen Her’ – a hit of eight years ago – and wants to see it on the show. However, since that time two of the Chilites have been imprisoned and one is dead. Lorne still has the lead singer – Eugene Record – and hopes that the rest of us, in Afro wigs, will be able to recreate the Chilites behind him. I’m sceptical, dear diary. [pg 456]
2008jan06. Went to the traditional Xmas tree burn this year on Ocean Beach. Pouring, sleeting rain. People had to scramble down a three or four foot mini-cliff of wet sand to get to the staging area. There was only about 20 feet of beach to work with, the water was totally aggro and foamy. The trees were lit. The crowds moved in. The rain shifted into fifth gear. At some point, the soaking rain, the ocean bearing down to the left, a huge fire in front of me, a sandy cliff to the right, and the crowd with a drum point
drum point a drum circle consisting of one drummer.
to the rear caused something in me to go “ding!” and I got the hell out of there. Getting back up the sand cliff in the rain was an audacious exercise requiring reserves of manly man-strength and I’m sure everyone else was unable to do so and the tide carried them out to sea, the end.
2008jan06. Assorted email.
Just wanted to let you know that when I was in high school, my boyfriend used Peacock condoms. They didn’t come in a tin box, and I am not sure how many were in the package, but they were not individually wrapped. I never got pregnant, nor did he pass along any diseases, so I guess they worked just fine.
I am not sure where he bought them ... somewhere in Hesston Kansas. I graduated in 1984.
Hi, I stumbled across your ‘truck
soccer’ website while searching for
Nikko Scorpion and Black Foot RC cars and was wondering if you were still
playing soccer with them, or may be interested in selling off the ‘fleet’
Please let me know either way.
The soccer games, they are all finished. I gave my truck to a friend’s kid, and he gave his to his other kid, and I think they raced them around a bit and that’s the end of that.
Do you know if trader joe’s make sure that their imported fish products,
like tilapia from China, come from a safe source. Or do they just jump on
the cheapest merchandise they can find? Hoping you might have some info ...
I think they are life-like intricately-constructed painted lead replicas.
You’ve forgotten the all-important dimension of water chestnuts in otherwise pleasantly squishy noodle and tofu dishes, which is clearly a TOTAL BETRAYAL of the idea of food being edible.
Fortunately, you have this ally to keep that particular flame of outrage alive.
Thank you. I like water chestnuts, but in dishes that are closer in texture. I can’t recall eating chestnuts in a noodle dish, but I’m sure it was like the climactic table-overturning-scene in Duran Duran’s breakthrough video, “Hungry Like the Wolf (Implied Sexual Reference Mix).”
You haven’t tried the India relish at Trader Joe’s?! It’s awesome on Stacy’s pita chips (I buy at Costco) or even tacos or a tuna sandwich. Turmeric is in there with tomato, like an Indian salsa. Try it!
I have to ease into it. Get familiar with it. I don’t just go and buy a new product at the supermarket. That’s too forward.
Hi i would like to call you guys for something can u give me your guys phone number with area code? thanx!
This makes perfect sense.
Hey, I am moving from hollywood, CA to brooklyn, NY in Feb. I don’t have too many things, no furniture, etc ... just boxes, mostly:
pictures, books, a guitar, amp, 2 speakers, a keyboard (about 3 ft long) a small drum machine, shoes, a cd player, some cd’s, a typewriter (very heavy) amd thats about it.
i have boxes alreadt for thwe musical equipment.
i want to know an estimate, or the best way to do this?
I can do that drive ... that would be the cost of gas both ways plus $200. $250. It would cost you less when I drive back because the truck will be empty. So that’s a bonus right there.
2008jan07. Sibel is finally talking. “Immediately after 911, the FBI arrested a bunch of people suspected of being involved with the attacks – including four associates of key targets of FBI’s counterintelligence operations. Sibel heard the targets tell Marc Grossman: ’We need to get them out of the US because we can’t afford for them to spill the beans.’ Grossman duly facilitated their release from jail and the suspects immediately left the country without further investigation or interrogation. Let me repeat that for emphasis: The #3 guy at the State Dept facilitated the immediate release of 911 suspects at the request of targets of the FBI’s investigation.”
2008jan07. I was gassing up with gasoline via a gas pump into the vehicle’s gas hole when an older woman half-approached me and asked what time it was. Since I was just approached by a man asking for change, and since gas stations in general (and this particular gas station) are magnets for the beggars with the begging, I remained wary. “Noon,” I guesstimated. She’s still looking at me. Is this the hand out part? She’s kind of far away, traffic is a bit loud. “NOON,” I helpfully enunciate. I’m all about the helping. Nothing. “Twelve O’Clock.” “Twelve.” She’s still shaking her head. “I’m sorry,” she says. “Eleven plus one?” Brain futz, I meant to say “ten plus two.” I’m about to do hand signals when she wanders to the nearby bus stop. Then I remember my brand new semi-irritating cellphone. I turn it on, and walk over to her – we wait while it “boots up” (zzzzz) and then annoyingly activates the vibrator (oh thanks, I didn’t realize I had turned it on). Finally the home screen is shown, time in the lower-left corner. I point. 11:58. “Thank you,” she says, and goes back to examining bus schedules. This also reminds me that I still hate that tepid “home” screen I can’t change (cannot wait until we’re all using Linux phones with voipy mesh net netting mesh). For some of the countries I travelled to, I only knew “hello,” “thank you,” and “touch my bottom please,” so I know how that goes ... but I had my camera with me, so I always had access to the time. Remember when we lugged around cameras that wouldn’t tell us the time? Hahahahahahahahhchrist.
2008jan16. Reuters: Clowns universally disliked by children. This is obvious, of course, but why are there clowns? At all? How does McDonald’s work? Kids must be engaged in a weird eat-or-flight dichotomy ... “wanna eat, clown’s gonna get me ... ” Clowns: if you are a clown, I will afford you no respect. I don’t care if you are an ironic clown, an unfortunately high demographic in the bay area. This is my Message to the Clowns.
There was no one at the guard station that flanked the entrance to the emir’s gardens, a weekend retreat for Kuwait’s ruling family. [ ... ] Presently, I saw a man-size break in the wall and moved toward it through the swirling, granular darkness. The inferno beyond lit the break with a shifting, red-orange light, and I could feel the heat on my face like a bad sunburn. Everything that wasn’t burning was black: the earth, the familiar shapes of the trees, the animal carcasses that littered the place. This was ground zero for the largest man-made environmental disaster in history. It was a perfect vision of hell. I moved through the break in the wall and stopped. The next step would put me in the burning lake, which was throwing up the thickest, grainiest smoke I had yet encountered. It blinded me and made my eyes water. Despite the bandanna I wore over my nose and mouth, I found myself choking, and then I was coughing in fits that bent me over at the waist. [pg 9]
The Marquesas have never attracted tourists, a fact that has attracted artists. Robert Louis Stevenson and Herman Melville both spent time on the northern island of Nuku Hiva. The Belgian-born songwriter Jacques Brel died on Hiva Oa. In 1900 the French artist Paul Gauguin came to Atuona, on Hiva Oa, looking for inspiration in “unspoiled savagery.” There was some tension between the artist and the local bishop regarding Gauguin’s relations with various island women. Gauguin nailed obscene pictures to his door and called his place the House of Pleasure, using a word that, in French, has a sexual connotation. There were legal problems fueled by the bishop’s rage. Gauguin died in 1903, and he is buried in a small graveyard above Atuona. His grave is neatly tended and much photographed. The bishop is buried there as well. You have to clear away the weeds to see his stone. [pg 45]
The next morning, at breakfast, I asked the mayor’s wife what she had said to the old man. “Parachute,” she told me. Just the thought of it got her giggling, and her husband had to tell me the story. About thirty years ago, he said, the man with the bad legs lost his grip and fell, but not before tearing off a palm frond, which he tried to use as a parachute. The man had broken both his legs. The mayor, his wife, and their three sons and two daughters were rocking back and forth with laughter. Now, the mayor said, hardly able to continue, whenever anyone saw the fellow limping along a path, they thought of the failed green parachute. It was a joke that had kept everyone in Puamau laughing for thirty years. [pg 46]
On certain lakes, hundreds of fishing shacks are set out side by side, in a kind of town grid, and a mayor is elected. Other men may be engaged in more distracting activities. It is said that an incredibly hardy band of hookers work the frozen ice cities. [pg 161]
The worse thing the sheep did, Alejandra said, they did on hot days like this. (It was about 70 degrees.) The brainless beasts would wander down to the lake, where, for whatever reason, they would hurl themselves into the cool water and sink like so many stones. Then you’d have to stand on a rock and stare into twenty feet of clear, cold water to see the sheep on the bottom, white or black against green mossy rocks, held down by all that waterlogged wool. [pg 220]
Above, the night sky was clear and black, full of luminous and unfamiliar stars. At this altitude, the stars did not twinkle. They were great globules of light, and their colors were brilliant: white, blue white, red, green, gold ... [pg 223]
Happily, the producers of the American TV show That’s Incredible! paid the club eighteen thousand dollars to attempt a bungee-cord jump off the world’s highest bridge, the 1,260-foot-high Royal Gorge Bridge spanning the Arkansas River just outside Canon City, Colorado. It was an entirely successful endeavor. “If there is any terror that unites us,” Kirke said of the members of the Dangerous Sports Club, “it’s the terror of having to take a conventional job.” [pg 359]
Kirke flew four and a half hours at two thousand feet [in an ultralight over the English Channel], landed in a field, and almost immediately heard the far-off sounds of police sirens, coming closer. A woman in a nearby farmhouse motioned to him: hurry, hurry. Kirke packed up his gear, and the woman guided him to a hidden attic room. “As it happened,” Kirke explained to me, “during the Second World War, when France was occupied, this courageous woman had hidden downed British pilots in that very room. She had a certificate of appreciation from the Dutch and British governments.” Kirke had hid out for a day, savoring the romance of the situation, then escaped. [pg 361]
A ball seventy feet in diameter contains about two tons of air. The rogue melon rolled into a cement light post twenty-five feet high and “mashed it.” It finally came to rest against an electric pylon, toppled it slightly, and effectively blacked out the town of Telford for some time. [pg 362]
Kirke rigged a chair and had himself catapulted over a 650-foot-cliff in Ireland. He took ten Gs, did not pass out, went from zero to six in a second and a half, and managed to deploy his parachute with, oh, dozens of feet to spare. This stunt was for a Japanese television program, and Kirke was touched that some of the female production assistants had burst into grateful tears when they saw him land safely. Usually, he gets arrested. [pg 363]
2008jan17. Grabbed on to the tail end of a high-speed car chase today. Sitting at a traffic light, everyone’s stopped because we hear sirens ... but then nothing. So the light cycles, and it’s just about to turn green for me ... and this little red car comes shooting out of nowhere, blows the red, and disappears. Then six cop cars, then green for me, so I figured hey, why not hand it to me on a silver platter ringed by inward-pointing arrows captioned “THIS.” The driver was a crafty one, sticking to smoother service drives – do cops tally up all the lights you blow? – and hit one that ended up in a residential neighborhood with a lot of hills and side streets. I figured okay, I’m not going to get messed up in that, it had real Blues Brothers potential, so I turned around ... and then They drove right past me. You know. One black car, two black suits, two pairs of large black wire-frame sunglasses. They’re zipping along toward Potential Police Pile Up ... so I turned around again ... but then this little shithole Ford Half-Festiva backs into the service drive and starts slowly shuddering along the way. “I need CLOSURE you crap!” Unnamed investigative service car crested a distant hill.
Greetings, New Owner! I thought I should tell you that Jeni and I decided to reduce my age quite a bit, so we have changed my birth year. Please inform Vital Records Dept. Then call me.
Hinda! Omigod! It’s been so long since I’ve heard from you! But now, it’s even less! Hahahaha chortle chortle. But Hind ... Hindee ... Hindu. You know what lying about your birth year is, don’t you? It’s a lie. It makes you ... a liar. One who is lying. I have taken lysergic acid. But you? Lied. Lien. Who are you fooling with your age-based lies? Who is it? Who amongst us? It is you, that’s who. You have made the greatest lie of all. We all lie to ourselves in some capacity; I for example am licking the walls right now because I think I’m a jaguar. But my self-deception is pharmaceutically-based. Yours? You have no such excuse. Stop hurting yourself, Hinnie. Stop hurting the ones you love. That means me. Your lies are killing me. Your constant lying is taking a toll on your circle of friends. Are they talking behind your back about you? It is a riddle for you to consider, my petty self-deluded age-shaver.
2008jan28. The Atlantic: The Autumn of the Multitaskers. Summary: multitasking is making us dumb. The article unfortunately has the old saw about how much multitasking “has cost us in lost productivity in one big crushing imposing dollar figure” and boy whooooooooosh am I sick of that metric like ten years already. God, if only we didn’t multitask, think of how much more paper could be shuffled. The head spins like a big ole’ spinning thing. Okay, that’s about it, I just need you to sign here. And here. Also: here.
2008jan28. Excerpts from Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park.”
I will drink the wine while it is warm
and never let you catch me looking at the sun
I will take my life into my hands
and I will use it
I will win the worship in their eyes
and I will lose it
That song just keeps on giving, each unfortunate time I’m exposed to it.
Sandy Thompson: When “gonzo” first happened, Hunter’s first reaction to it was terrible guilt – just terrible. They didn’t get it. But he could also see that here was an avenue; people seemed to really like this, and they were going to pay him for it. He thought it was gibberish. It was past deadline, and the editors of Scanlan’s were trying to get the Kentucky Derby piece from him and he said, “I can’t send it to you; it’s gibberish.” They said, “Send it anyway.” It wasn’t up to his standard, but finally he sent it. And what do you know – they called and they said it was great. Hunter knew it wasn’t; it was outbursts of greatness and wildness. But it wasn’t a final draft by a long, long shot. He did not feel good about that. [pg 125]
Charles Perry: [ ... ] We passed around the manuscript ["Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"] to the editors, and it took us a day to read it and observe it. I remember someone saying that the day after you read it, life just seemed incredibly dramatic, like you never knew when a pack of pythons might come attack you from around the corner. [pg 133]
Tim Cahill: Hunter imitators were all over the place. All these writers were writing this gibberish, but they lost sight of one of Hunter’s saving graces, which was that he was hilarious. He couldn’t have been effective without his humor. But there were dozens of Hunter imitators who all thought that they should be published. [pg 140]
Tim Crouse: [ ... ] Watching him, I began to realize that he was trying to bypass learned attitudes, received ideas, clichés of every kind, and tap into something that had more to do with his unconscious, his intuitive take on things. He wanted to get the sentence out before any preconception could corrupt it. One of Hunter’s methods of composition was to write a bunch of ledes and then somehow fit them together. By lede, I mean the opening portion of a story, which is ordinarily designed to pack more of a virtuosic wallop than the sections that follow. Early on, I remember, Hunter showed me a stack of ledes he’d accumulated, as if he were fanning a whole deck of aces. On a tight deadline, my job would sometimes be to stitch together the lede-like chunks that Hunter had generated. Ideally, the story would function like an internal-combustion engine, with a constant flow of explosions of more or less equal intensity all the way through. [pg 157]
Pat Caddell: [ ... ] That evening – or morning – ended with Hunter driving to Bethesda Naval Hospital, where Nixon was being treated for viral pneumonia, and walking up to the front desk with his fairly official-looking kit bag with him and saying to the receptionist, “I’m Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, here to treat the president.” [pg 172]
Margot Kidder: Tom and I went over to meet Hunter at his hotel in Miami, where he was supposed to be writing a piece about the  Super Bowl. He’d set up his mojo machine on a table, but of course he hadn’t written the article. So he said, “You – get under the table.” So we got under the table and pulled the plug in and out of this thing while Hunter fed pages that he’d just typed a bunch a random letters on, and then he got on the phone to Jann saying, “I don’t know what’s the matter with the goddamn machine you sent me – it’s not working. I’m trying to get the pages through.” And I remember thinking, “Holy mackerel – here’s a live one.” [pg 178]
Paul Scanlon: [ ... ] We were sitting at Jerry’s bar, and I had the termerity to lecture Hunter, saying it was time to maybe take some time off, drop the Raoul Duke persona, lay off the drugs and the booze a little bit, and get back to being the guy who wrote Hell’s Angels. And he stared at me while he reached into his safari jacket and pulled out a tab of blotter acid. He looked me in the eye, put it in his mouth, and started chewing. [pg 179]