Monday, January 26, 2009


I can’t believe the extremes of the material I watched on the treadmill over the weekend. I’ve gone from the veddy, veddy highbrow British dialogue of Wendy Hiller in Masterpiece Theater to the Wisconsin-nasal fumbling of Chris Farley reading off the teleprompter on Saturday Night Live.

Over the course of my weekend treadmill sessions, I watched a three-episode Masterpiece Theater production called All Passion Spent, the story of an 85-year-old Englishwoman who becomes widowed when her foreign-service husband of 60 plus years dies. She had given up her own dreams as a young woman to be a good and faithful wife to his dreams and ambitions. So when he dies, she decides she wants to politely ignore the advice from her 50ish/60ish children and live her own life.

“When can one please oneself if not in old age?” she asks her friend, in her well-modulated British accent. She was an 85-year-old rebel, but she was always very proper in her rebellion.

Then I played an old video entitled “The Best of Chris Farley,” which featured his Saturday Night Live skits from 1990 to 1995. The man was crazy and his characters were even crazier. Remember Matt Foley, the motivational speaker who lived in a van down by the river? Or “The Chris Farley Show” where he’d interview people like Paul McCartney and nervously ask irrelevant questions like, “What brand of socks do you wear?” Or the Chippendale dancer tryouts he did with Patrick Swayze? But my very favorite of all was when he and Adam Sandler (who looks like he’s about 12 years old in the video) did their “Lunchlady” song—“Sloppy joe, slop-sloppy joe.” I was just exhausted watching the man, and it had nothing to do with the treadmill.

So my eclectic taste—or complete lack of taste—has led to kind of a schizophrenic weekend of subtle British dialogue, crude slapstick humor, the very proper world of English aristocracy, and the antics of a manic comedian who finally died of a lethal cocaine/speedball/arteriosclerosis combination. I think I’d better start walking outside again before these people start taking over my head.

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