THE DEAD PARROT SKETCH

29 06 2009

From

MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS

c. 1970

Thanks to David Brown, www.davidpbrown.co.uk

A customer enters a pet shop.

Customer: ‘Ello, I wish to register a complaint.

(The owner does not respond.)

C: ‘Ello, Miss?

Owner: What do you mean “miss”?

C: I’m sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!

O: We’re closin’ for lunch.

C: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this parrot what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.

O: Oh yes, the, uh, the Norwegian Blue…What’s,uh…What’s wrong with it?

C: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad. ‘E’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it!

O: No, no, ‘e’s uh,…he’s resting.

C: Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.

O: No no he’s not dead, he’s, he’s restin’! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn’it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

C: The plumage don’t enter into it. It’s stone dead.

O: Nononono, no, no! ‘E’s resting!

C: All right then, if he’s restin’, I’ll wake him up!

(shouting at the cage)

‘Ello, Mister Polly Parrot! I’ve got a lovely fresh cuttle fish for you if you show…(owner hits the cage)

O: There, he moved!

C: No, he didn’t, that was you hitting the cage!

O: I never!!

C: Yes, you did!

O: I never, never did anything…

C: (yelling and hitting the cage repeatedly) ‘ELLO POLLY!!!!!

Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o’clock alarm call!

(Takes parrot out of the cage and thumps its head on the counter. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.)

C: Now that’s what I call a dead parrot.

O: No, no…..No, ‘e’s stunned!

C: STUNNED?!?

O: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin’ up! Norwegian Blues stun easily, major.

C: Um…now look…now look, mate, I’ve definitely ‘ad enough of this. That parrot is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not ‘alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein’ tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.

O: Well, he’s…he’s, ah…probably pining for the fjords.

C: PININ’ for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got ‘im home?

O: The Norwegian Blue prefers kippin’ on it’s back! Remarkable bird, id’nit, squire? Lovely plumage!

C: Look, I took the liberty of examining that parrot when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there.

(pause)

O: Well, o’course it was nailed there! If I hadn’t nailed that bird down, it would have nuzzled up to those bars, bent ’em apart with its beak, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee!

C: “VOOM”?!? Mate, this bird wouldn’t “voom” if you put four million volts through it! ‘E’s bleedin’ demised!

O: No no! ‘E’s pining!

C: ‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker!

‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies!

‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig!

‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!!

THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

(pause)

O: Well, I’d better replace it, then.

(he takes a quick peek behind the counter)

O: Sorry squire, I’ve had a look ’round the back of the shop, and uh, we’re right out of parrots.

C: I see. I see, I get the picture.

O: I got a slug.

(pause)

C: (sweet as sugar) Pray, does it talk?

O: Nnnnot really.

C: WELL IT’S HARDLY A BLOODY REPLACEMENT, IS IT?!!???!!?

O: Look, if you go to my brother’s pet shop in Bolton, he’ll replace the parrot for you.

C: Bolton, eh? Very well.

The customer leaves.

The customer enters the same pet shop. The owner is putting on a false moustache.

C: This is Bolton, is it?

O: (with a fake mustache) No, it’s Ipswitch.

C: (looking at the camera) That’s inter-city rail for you.

The customer goes to the train station.

He addresses a man standing behind a desk marked “Complaints”.

C: I wish to complain, British-Railways Person.

Attendant: I DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS JOB, YOU KNOW!!!

C: I beg your pardon…?

A: I’m a qualified brain surgeon! I only do this job because I like being my own boss!

C: Excuse me, this is irrelevant, isn’t it?

A: Yeah, well it’s not easy to pad these python files out to 200 lines, you know.

C: Well, I wish to complain. I got on the Bolton train and found myself deposited here in Ipswitch.

A: No, this is Bolton.

C: (to the camera) The pet shop man’s brother was lying!!

A: Can’t blame British Rail for that.

C: In that case, I shall return to the pet shop!

He does.

C: I understand this IS Bolton.

O: (still with the fake mustache) Yes?

C: You told me it was Ipswitch!

O: …It was a pun.

C: (pause) A PUN?!?

O: No, no…not a pun…What’s that thing that spells the same backwards as forwards?

C: (Long pause) A palindrome…?

O: Yeah, that’s it!

C: It’s not a palindrome! The palindrome of “Bolton” would be “Notlob”!! It don’t work!!

O: Well, what do you want?

C: I’m not prepared to pursue my line of inquiry any longer as I think this is getting too silly!

Sergeant-Major: Quite agree, quite agree, too silly, far too silly…





IS THERE ANY ABUSE OF AUTHORITY JUDGE THOMAS WILL OBJECT TO?

28 06 2009

Note his dissent in this case:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/26/us/politics/26scotus.html?_r=1&hp





THANK GOD!

27 06 2009

(and I don’t even believe in Him)

Supreme Court Lets Stand a Central Provision of the Voting Rights Act:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/us/23scotus.html?ref=us

As someone who lives in the South and was brought up here, I can assure you that without the Voting Rights Act, the states down here would be back to poll taxes (You had to pay a substantial tax just to vote!) and open harassment of Blacks at the polls so quickly  even fast-talking Yankees would be amazed.

I grew up in the South when segregation was the law in all Southern states. I know how routine, heartless, and nearly universal racism was in Southern Whites. You don’t change a whole culture in one generation.

Even if racism is in retreat in the minds of some white people in the South, our legislators routinely provide the “lowest common denominator” of  political representation. If they were freed of the restraints of the Voting Rights Acts, those legislators would not hesitate to play to the worst instincts of the yahoo element of our Southern White folk, as they did for 100 years before the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965.





CONTACT SENATOR LANDRIEU PLEASE

24 06 2009

Here’s a quote about the upcoming health care fight from economist Paul Krugman’s New York Times column for Monday, 6/22/09:

“The real risk is that health care reform will be undermined by “centrist” Democratic senators who either prevent the passage of a bill or insist on watering down key elements of reform. I use scare quotes around “centrist,” by the way, because if the center means the position held by most Americans, the self-proclaimed centrists are in fact way out in right field.

What the balking Democrats seem most determined to do is to kill the public option, either by eliminating it or by carrying out a bait-and-switch, replacing a true public option with something meaningless. For the record, neither regional health cooperatives nor state-level public plans, both of which have been proposed as alternatives, would have the financial stability and bargaining power needed to bring down health care costs.

Whatever may be motivating these Democrats, they don’t seem able to explain their reasons in public.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/22/opinion/22krugman.html

Mr. Krugman is referring to the element of the proposed new insurance-based national health care plan that would establish a public insurer for people to go to when they couldn’t get, or afford, private health insurance. Without the necessity of throwing off a constant stream of profit to shareholders, the public insurer could presumably provide cheaper and better insurance than the private health insurance companies we’ve all learned to know and hate.

The competition thus provided might even cause private insurers to cut their rates!

But the good old “Blue Dog” democrats, among them my own state’s Senator Mary Landrieu, are trying to kill this eminently reasonable provision.

Without the public insurer, the new health care plan will just be a windfall for doctors and private health insurers, since the former could bill as optimistically as they do now, and the latter would have to be given subsidies to make their profit-hungry insurance products affordable to the poor and lower middle class persons that the government is trying to extend coverage to. And so overall medical costs would continue to grow fast, just as they do now.

If you are a fellow Louisianian, or even just a concerned person anywhere, you might want to read up on this subject. Here’s an interesting set of poll results to start with:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/health/policy/21poll.html?fta=y

And then perhaps you would contact Senator Landrieu about her pro-insurance-companies position through this url:

http://landrieu.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm





CUBICLE HELL

20 06 2009

Friday Night I Wrote This:

“As I left work (the last worker to leave, by chance), on my way to the door I passed through the gray and disorderly space left behind by people who do boring and/or irritating things for most of the hours and days of their lives. I felt great pity for us all. Cubicle dwellers are the modern equivalent of the millworkers who sweated their lives away for peanuts a hundred years ago.

I’ll never understand how they stand it. I’ll never understand why they don’t rebel, like the more educated portion of the people of Iran are doing now. Working Americans live in “the richest country on earth” (as our media propagandizers never tire of telling us), and these same workers watch on their TVs every night those Americans not incarcerated like them fling money around like water for fun, and destroy peoples’ lives in the process. They accept it all.

I guess the Poor have always done this. My fellow Poor, modern American variety, are kind and friendly to each other as they serve out their life sentences in their little gray cubicles. Maybe they make a statement of a kind by doing that.

But I think it’s more likely that “the most social animals on earth” (as I have heard humans called), simply accept whatever pecking order they live in as natural, without ever thinking about it. They only rebel when society become so oppressive that they can’t kid themselves any more that its structure is fair.”

On Saturday, I Think I Know

How They Stand It:

1. Most go home to families, unlike me, and forget the day’s work as soon as they enter their front doors. During the day, when they’re stuck at work, the knowledge that they have no choice but to go on enduring the boredom and irritation if they and their loved ones are to survive economically keeps them numbed.

2. Many never saw any other way of life growing up, so they never question their working conditions at all.

3. A lot never question the standard American ideology: The USA is “The Greatest Country on Earth.” And we alone have “Freedom”, and “the American Dream.” Moreover, the USA is totally a meritocracy, so we all have the “Opportunity to Get Ahead” and realize that dream.

a. So those whose jobs offer good prospects of advancement know that they are on the right track in doing their boring work, and they buckle down!

b. Ditto those whose bosses have DECEIVED them into thinking that their jobs have good prospects of advancement.

c. And the rest have to conclude, if they’re still sitting in little cells shuffling papers, then it must be their own fault, and they should just shut up and endure it.

4. Some like the work! (I even like a small part of mine.)

5. Some are not smart enough to do any better-paid work, and they know it.

6. A lot know that they are smarter than their work, but also know that for various other, apparently-unchangeable reasons they CAN’T do any better-paid work.

a. Of these, a minority (unlike me) are temperamentally able to accept and live with perpetual boredom and wasted brain power in return for economic survival.

b. And the rest aren’t, so they suffer each and every day of their working lives.

7. And some, of course, are simply people born with a sunny temperament who are not bothered by much of anything.

My personal problem is that I belong in the 6b group.

The problem of America, IMHO, lies in groups 2 and 3. In their thoroughly-propagandized heads, they are still living under the ancient “root hog or die” economic regime that now prevails only in underdeveloped countries.

These group 2 and 3 folks, who I think make up the majority of us, do as they’ve been taught to do in order to live in a world of perpetual scarcity. They ignore the vast sums generated by this society and then squandered on unneeded military junk, and they also dutifully refrain from envying or coveting the vast wealth of their betters.

No “spread the wealth” for them!

So, for a lot of us, no hope of escape from drudgery either.





MORE INSIGHT!

18 06 2009

Another terrific insight from that fascinating discussion of Asian-Caucasian dating:

http://letters.salon.com/books/review/2009/06/16/east_west_sex/view/index14.html?show=all

“People in America, and women in particular, are socialized to feel an intense lack of self-regard and self-respect (you’ll often see the term “self-esteem” as well, but that one has become loaded). This takes the joy out of nearly every aspect of life. It also tends to make people angry, and blind to why they are so angry. When angry, they lash out, usually against whomever happens to be handy. When they lash out from a deep inner sense of inferiority, it is almost impossible to have warm, trusting, and intensely intimate relationships with them. Everyone ends up frustrated.

Why are they socialized this way? You can consult Karl Marx, you can consult David Riesman. This makes people SPEND MONEY. Of course, spending money and more money, and still not getting what you need, introduces yet more tension and dissatisfaction into an already volatile relationship. This also makes people easy to manipulate in certain other predictable ways that are very important to the socio-economic and political elites — particularly at work and in the voting booth.

This is hard to solve, because it’s unrecognized by those who suffer from it the most, and they will deny it’s true. Usually those will be angry denials. (The real tipoff comes when a women who has been trained to hate herself meets up with a woman who is self-possessed and openly displays it. Watch the sparks fly.)

Anyone who has lived for any substantial length of time outside of the English-speaking world knows exactly what I’m talking about. The systematic undermining of women’s sense of self hasn’t made the same strides elsewhere.”





BE A MAN!

16 06 2009

Here’s a very intelligent discussion of why many Caucasian men are primarily interested in Asian women:

http://letters.salon.com/books/review/2009/06/16/east_west_sex/view/index8.html?show=all

Buried in the middle of that discussion  — which is fascinating in itself — is this jewel of a comment:

“Speaking as a white female who has always been attracted to sexy East Asian men, I have a few thoughts about this dynamic.

Generally speaking, women always have a lower social status in their own society than men. As a result, within their cultures, women are much more oppressed than men — but paradoxically, if they should venture outside their culture, they may have a lot more freedom to experiment than men from their society would.

For example: in Western societies, men are esteemed above women, and this situation penalizes women in many ways with one huge exception: as children, girls who are “tomboys” are tolerated, encouraged and admired (for “aspiring” above their lowly female status), while boys who are “sissies” are despised, rejected and often brutalized (for disrespecting the Sacred Masculine and transgressively choosing a lower status). Hence, girls have much more freedom to explore their personalities as they grow up. Boys are mostly condemned to force themselves into a narrow box of “Not-Feminine” qualities; if they are gentle, or artistic, or intellectual, or pretty much anything that’s not loud, coarse, violent, aggressive and dominating, they are branded as “faggots,” irrespective of their sexual orientation.

In East Asian societies, women’s lower and men’s higher status is even more exaggerated than in the West. As a result, Asian women may have quite a bit more freedom to explore the world outside their culture of origin, and unsurprisingly, many Asian women have enjoyed exploring Western men and have found beloved partners from foreign cultures. Asian men, on the other hand, are often paralyzed by the expectations of their families to the point where, no matter how attracted they might be to a woman from a different culture, it is simply unimaginable to become involved.”

….

(In other words, “Yes Virginia, it is possible to be a male heterosexual and yet be gentle, sensitive, artistic, imaginative, creative, and not interested in football.”)

Set in boldface in the quoted  language is nothing less the story of my childhood and youth. I never heard anyone else describe it ’til now. But for some time I’ve known that the deviation from the norm (of East Texas) described in the quote was a large source of the ostracism I received as a child. For a long time I’ve also understood that that deviation was normal, etc.  Still, to hear, at last,  someone else state a truth that one has unearthed all on one’s own somehow makes its truth more substantial.

As I get older I am repeatedly amazed that I understand and can articulate truths about society and myself, that, if I had been able to understand them at 20, would have changed my life infinitely for the better.