Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

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HOW long?

puppetmaker40 got me thinking when she wrote
did you know Monty Python aired 40 years ago? Still a staple of the college experience and still funny. I think I am going to watch the parrot sketch today or maybe just throw on “Monty Python’s Flying Nazgul” for a lark.
I replied
That slightly blows my mind. I can accept that on one level but not quite accept it on another one. I had a similar reaction when I read Michael Palin's companion book for his Around the World in 80 Days and realized he did that 20 years ago. It doesn't feel like there's been enough time since then for there to be 20 years between then and now, but there you go.
"20 years between then and now." Aging means I have thoughts like that now, that I can have thoughts like that.

Wow, I've been a Python fan for a while. 'Cause I've been alive for a while. Obvious, obviously, but bear with me.

Let's see, the evolution of my Python fandom was something like this: in the early 80s I was getting Python-related glimpses, mainly through cable. Probably 1983 was when I saw the giant walking out of the ocean in Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits. That year I also saw a special on movie effects, explaining how they blew up Mr. Creosote in Monty Python's the Meaning of Life. (Also covered in that special: some of the squishier effects from John Carpenter's The Thing.) If I remember correctly, this special with these clips from R-rated movies aired in the day. I still wonder if I should have seen it at that point; I was 9 at the time.

Early in the time I was living in our next house -- it's easy to measure my youth: remembering what houses my Navy family lived in -- I first saw large chunks of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (which, by the way, is NOT NOT NOT titled Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail, and it stuns me how many people got/get it wrong, even before that computer game with that title came out). That would've been late '84 or early '85. It made me laugh. As it had many, many people. The film was about a decade old at that point. A decade now doesn't seem so long. At least a decade in memory.

Some stuff sticks, some doesn't. Around the same time I watched a lot of Godzilla films, and they were fun, but I feel no need to revisit or revel in the imagery again. Haven't felt that way for a long time. But the Python stuff's easy to dredge up.

Back then in the mid-80s I was also growing into my sexuality, and increasingly realizing how pretty girls were, so I was happy to see more of Meaning of Life 'round then. (Topless running! Yeah, that scene.) And the building sailing away in the Gilliam short The Crimson Permanent Assurance made me laugh. And, if I remember correctly, did a double-take. Whoa.

Still, it was a few years before I started watching Monty Python's Flying Circus (first on MTV, which had a small sampling of episodes), but that floated my boat big-time. I probably saw Gilliam's Brazil in 1987, and the movie confused me until the last scene, but it lingered in my head and I kept thinking about it. Finding a remaindered copy of Jack Mathews's The Battle of Brazil, which told about the struggle to get that film released, and which also included the script, solidified at least my Gilliam fandom.

(By the way, to be honest, maybe the first bit of Flying Circus I can remember is Gilliam's animation of the Mona Lisa baring her breasts. Sex sells!)

1987 was when I went to a two-week summer camp: probably too big of a camp for me, with at least dozens of kids, and it was a little overwhelming. I was pretty homesick (and not even completely clear how homesick I was until I got home, but oh yes, my folks knew from my postcards). On the other hand, the Aussie and New Zealand 20-somethings who were working with us at the camp were big Python quoters. I got lots of exposure then. There's that getting-through-your-defenses-by-laughing thing. Happens a lot. More than I think.

Soon after, my junior high/high school friend David Carlton and I bonded over Python, along with Star Trek. We didn't really share music taste -- I had some block about punk and hard rock at the time, like I just didn't get it (though Iron Maiden's mascot Eddie kind of amused me; yeah, guess how David had decorated his room?), while a few years later when I was getting into Danny Elfman, David wasn't impressed except for Nightbreed and bits of Batman -- but we watched and quoted MUCH of that quotable Python stuff. And whoa, is it quotable. Then and now. That stuff was just about 20 years old by then.

By the time The Adventures of Baron Munchausen came out (barely) in 1989, I was solid in my Python fandom and my Gilliam fandom. (I was very lucky that one of the three theaters showing the film in the entire Washington, D.C. area was the theater I usually went to!) And being a fan of this has informed and shaped much of my life since then. And many others'.

Today, someone somewhere is going to see a Python sketch for the first time. (It's probably easier to do that now, thanks to the internet.) And thinking that thought makes me smile. Maybe they won't completely get it, maybe part of it will go over their head, maybe they won't like it at all (I know non-fans), but maybe it'll be the start of that person's appreciation of what those madmen did back then. And that's an opening to another pleasure for someone.

Wow, I could go on. I'll stop before I really go on.

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