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May 05

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Sick and Laughing

Oliver ReedI swear I am getting worse. In addition, I think I’m taking too much cold medicine. The combination of the nighttime cold & flu and the cough medicine has made it so I can’t quite walk straight. Nonetheless, the cough goes on and the nose drips like the bathroom faucet. In order to get though this, I’m watching comedy. And generally, I’ve found them very funny. So in what follows, keep in mind what Jim Hogshire wrote about taking a cup of Robitussin. “At four o’clock in the morning I woke up suddenly and remembered that I had to go to Kinko’s copy shop and that I had to shave off about a week’s worth of stubble from my face. These ideas were very clear to me. That may seem normal, but the fact was that I had a reptilian brain. My whole way of thinking and perceiving had changed. I had full control over my motor functions, but I felt ungainly. I was detached from my body, as if I were on laughing gas.” He continued, “While I was shaving I ‘thought’ that for all I knew I was hacking my face to pieces. Since I didn’t see any blood or feel any pain I didn’t worry about it. Had I looked down and seen that I had grown another limb, I wouldn’t have been surprised at all; I would have just used it.” That’s about right.

Yesterday, I watched a stand-up special of Todd Glass. He is what I have come to think of as an “angry comedian.” He’s mad about the way life is. In general, these are not my favorite comics. But there is something so sweet about him that it is almost impossible not to love him. And he gets wonderfully sidetracked. Here he is going three stories deep without even trying:

Then I watched Galaxy Quest. This film has a special place in my heart. As you probably know, the film is a parody of Star Trek and its fan phenomenon. At one point, in the early days of the internet, if you searched for my name, it would take you to the Star Trek FAQ. Apparently, I had helped out the writers of it, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what I did. And yes, I have been to a Star Trek convention: twice. I would normally not have done such a thing, but my first wife was way into the show. Really. I’m not just saying that to avoid looking bad. And I can prove it: I have gone to comic book conventions all by myself. So there you go.

As a result of this, I think Galaxy Quest is hilarious. And even though I had seen it before, I laughed a great deal. Afterwards, I looked the movie up on Wikipedia. It included quotes from people who have been in the series. Now I’m mostly only interested in the original series. The later series are not as playful. So I was naturally pulled to a quote from William Shatner, “I thought it was very funny, and I thought the audience that they portrayed was totally real, but the actors that they were pretending to be were totally unrecognizable. Certainly I don’t know what Tim Allen was doing. He seemed to be the head of a group of actors, and for the life of me I was trying to understand who he was imitating.” You gotta love that guy!

Finally, I put on the 1973 version of The Three Musketeers. I had remembered liking the film when I was a kid. And I suspect that at the time, it was really funny. But I found all the pratfalls forced and rarely funny. In particular, Raquel Welch plays an accident prone wench, but because of the way it is directed, it just doesn’t work for me. It is all too much in long shot. I suspect that it would work a lot better on the big screen. Regardless, it is hard not to love Oliver Reed as Athos. What’s more, I learned that he was banned from the state of Georgia because of his drunken escapades. My hero!

Anyway, that’s my life. I feel marginally better, but my cough is worse than ever. Time for more medicine.

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2 comments

  1. JMF

    Cough syrup. Yum. I used to suck down the stuff on purpose in military school. Officers could tell a drunk a mile away, but you could stand at attention for an hour tripping balls and they never guessed. The guy standing at attention across the hall made getting busted a little easier; he made a bong for his shop project. Dude was from Hopkins, MN, and I remember thinking, "hey, that’s where MST3K comes from, they turn out some warped minds there . . ."

    Of course the best was acid from chemistry students at the Naval Academy, but that wasn’t easy to come by. They gave us free cough syrup, in little promotional mini-kits with razors and rubbers. I’d trade away my rubbers (I had no illusions) for the cough syrup, and away we go. Usually, when fried to the gills on cough syrup, I’d imagine computers were on the verge of eating away humanity’s souls. If I’d invested a few thousand on that drug-addled vision I’d be rich today.

    Tried the stuff a few times after military school; not as good. For one thing, the hangover lasts several days; for another, when you’re not standing at attention for hours while repressed gay men feel your face up to check how closely you shaved, the rather paranoid high isn’t as pleasant.

    Wouldn’t mind another shot at that Naval Academy LSD before I die, however . . .

    On a non-dextromethorphan-related note, I watched "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" last night. It was pretty simple but great actors can add a lot of complexity to a story. I had to look in the credits who played Bill Nighy’s shrewish wife, Penelop Wilton, and I was pleased as punch to re-read your review this morning and see you’d mentioned her. That’s a tough role to pull off, the person who’s awful because something is very broken inside. Pretty much everyone in the cast is masterful at suggesting a lot more going on underneath their surface. (The aging rake stood out, too, and of course Wilkinson/Dench/Smith add layers to performances while they’re sleeping, I suspect.)

    One caveat: it should have been a six-hour BBC miniseries and not a movie. The characters’ transitions happen too quickly. (The hotel owner’s mom accepting his girlfriend once he stands up for her just comes out of nowhere!) A longer format could have made more room for the Indian characters, whose stories seem just as convoluted and full of regret as the Marigold residents. (A speech by Wilkinson’s long-lost love would have been good.)

    I think I avoided watching it because I generally don’t enjoy those "old people are sexy too" movies (we’re not sexy; doesn’t mean we’re not horny) and I had a bad taste in my mouth from "Slumdog Millionaire" (which I know was probably well-intentioned, but it felt exploitative to me.) "Best Exotic" didn’t make India a feel-good story and didn’t try to have old people breakdancing to show that they’re cool, too. Maybe my favorite moment was Wilton and Nighy stuck in traffic and her imploring, "you’ll run after me and catch me at the airport. But please don’t."

    Good stuff. Keep blowing out them boogers; for some reason the body thinks that’s a wise idea and it’s generally worth paying attention to.

  2. admin

    @JMF – You’re right, it could have been six hours. I think I wrote about how I wanted it to go on and on. I thought one thing that was done very well was making the Indians’ story just as important. One thing: in a BBC show, they would not have had all the beautiful shots. It was a really lovely film.

    I suspect that the scene you mentioned is the reason that Penelope Wilton took the role. She is a great actor and she works a lot. She has a good sized part in [i]Downton Abbey[/i] as a middle class woman battling it out with the aristocracy.

    I have only seen the beginning of [i]Slumdog Millionaire[/i]. It looked really good, but at the time, I just couldn’t face it. Maybe I will check again. I really liked the young actor who is in both films.

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