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08 June 2005

Footnote re Aministia International, "Brazil," & Tom Stoppard


Okay, this is where we came in.

Many years ago, they threw a huge concert to raise money for Amnesty International in London, maybe at the Albert Hall. (I was there for a concert by the folksinger/composer Richard Thompson. Fans of Richard Thompson call themselves Dickheads. Bob is a Dickhead. And an asshat.)

The list of world-famous musicians and entertainers was huge and stellar. But the central core were most or all of the members of Monty Python's Flying Circus, and they performed all the most beloved old Python sketches, including The Dead Parrot, and The Cheese Shop. (In the former, an angry customer brings his Dead Parrot back to the Pet Shop, where he had just bought it the day before. I think he wants to exchange it for a Parrot which is Not Dead.) They also sang the wonderful song of the Canadian lumberjack:

1. I'm a lumberjack
And I'm O.K.
I sleep all night
And I work all day.

CHORUS OF MOUNTIES:
He's a lumberjack
And he's O.K.
He sleeps all night
And he works all day.

2. I cut down trees
I eat my lunch
I go to the lavatory
On Wednesday I go shopping
And have buttered scones for tea.

MOUNTIES:
He cuts down trees
He eats his lunch
He goes to the lavatory
On Wednesday he goes shopping
And has buttered scones for tea.

He's a lumberjack
And he's O.K.
He sleeps at night
And he works all day.

3. I cut down trees
I skip and jump
I like to press wild flowers
I put on women's clothing
And hang around in bars.

MOUNTIES:

He cuts down trees
He skips and jumps
He likes to press wild flowers
He puts on women's clothing
And hangs around in bars.........?

He's a lumberjack
And he's O.K.
He sleeps all night
And he works all day.

4. I cut down trees
I wear high heels
Suspenders and a bra
I wish I'd been a girlie
Just like my dear Pappa.

MOUNTIES:
He cuts down trees
He wears high heels
(spoken rather than sung)
Suspenders... and a bra?????????
That's shocking, etc.
That's rude... tuttut... tut tut...

Okay okay ... well of course they recorded the concert, and you can watch it on the DVD. I think George Harrison plays wonderful music too ... but here's the most important thing:

The name of this concert for Amnesty International was:

THE SECRET POLICEMAN'S BALL

And then they threw another concert the next year, and called it:

THE SECRET POLICEMAN'S OTHER BALL

Of course we all know that a "ball" is a fancy dance party for rich people. That's the only meaning for "ball." It doesn't mean anything else. Stop looking for another hidden meaning or entendre or dirty vulgar pun. Stop. Stop. Please make it stop.

If you saw the strangest movie ever made, "Brazil," directed by former Python cartoonist, the American-born Terry Gilliam (and co-written by playwright Tom Stoppard), you can see that these very odd British comedians have always been very seriously concerned with liberty and freedom and human rights, and freeing political prisoners. In UK, they seem to have adopted Amnesty Internation as their favorite cause, or Amnesty International seems to have adopted Monty Python as their favorite lunatics. If you need to adopt lunatics, these are the very finest lunatics. I think most of them went to Oxford. (I prefer Cambridge.)

"Brazil" has absolutely nothing to do with Brazil. Rent the DVD. Watch it tonight. There will be an essay test Monday. This will go on your Permanent Record.

From Wikipidia:

[Tom] Stoppard was born Tomás Straussler in Zlín, Czechoslovakia, into a Jewish family. To avoid persecution likely to end in death, the Strausslers fled Czechoslovakia to Singapore with other Jewish doctors on March 15, 1939, the day the Nazis invaded. He received an English education in India, to which his family had fled to avoid the Japanese invasion of Singapore. His father was killed during this exodus, and his mother married a British army major named Kenneth Stoppard, who gave the boy his English surname. The family eventually moved to England in 1946.

6 Comments:

Blogger Joana said...

The Monty Pythons! I adore them! I do I do! (ask §J§).

12:16  
Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Is there a way to make an Internet (free) transAtlantic phone call and we can both sing "The Lumberjack Song"? You have to be the Mountie (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Canada certainly does have Mountettes/Mounteusses now!), because only a man can sing the other part, because only a man can put on women's clothing and hang around in bars.

15:03  
Blogger Joana said...

Sure! Just install SKYPE, the most wonderful software ever, no ads and annoying pop-ups, perfect sound and free :)

16:46  
Blogger Joana said...

I also adore Anne Bancroft, we will miss her, but I bet she is traveling on the Zeta Beam :)

16:49  
Blogger Joana said...

Lots of Monty Python in mp3 (including the LUMBERJACK SONG).
http://mwscomp.com/sound.html

17:09  
Blogger §J§ said...

bOb,

BEWarE

tHeT ruTH IS pOst EDoN yOur PreviO us PoS T...
pRe p ARe YOUR

selF...

23:22  

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