Monday, August 06, 2001

Michael Palin

I promised that I wouldn't rant on personal matters, seeing how a lot of personal friends and relatives have access to the journal here. So I won't complain about my mom. Nuff said. So there.

I have decided instead to write about Michael Palin.

I love Michael Palin. Apologies to Douglas ... I confessed my love for Palin to my husband and he shrugged. I guess he sees my infatuation as no threat to our marriage. Good thing too.

Now, if you aren't sure who Mr. M. E. Palin of North London, England is, you're a hermit living up a mountain and you don't know WHAT to do with those mossy bits on your rocks there. And you'll never go back to public relations.

Michael Palin is one of the founding Monty Python members, and happens to be my favorite Python. They're all very very good. Cleese has his Ministry of Silly Walks, and was a stupendous gumby. Idle did the best television interviewers and a very good lady and hermit. Chapman always played a funny army colonel. Jones had the best legs for an old lady pepper pot... but Palin was the lumberjack. And he's okay.

Over the past several years, he's taken to being a world traveler and adventurer of sorts, signed on by the BBC, he has gone on several different journeys, most notably around the world in 80 days (following the Verne novel's path as traveled by Mr. Fogg as closely as possible), through all the places Ernest Hemingway wrote about, full circle round the globe through South America and beyond... and from the North Pole to the South Pole. And the BBC did these ever so interesting documentaries through his eyes. I bought two of the books before I went on vacation. The ones I got were "Around the World in 80 Days" and "Pole to Pole," and I also picked up his novel called "Hemingway's Chair" and am enjoying it thus far.

And I love Michael Palin. Even though he is 3 years younger than my dad, he seems a world away from anyone who is about to hit his 60s (born in 1943... according to his bios...) and I feel like he is still about 35.

Now, I fell in love with Michael Palin when I was about 10 or 11, watching MPFC on PBS in NY back in the day. I loved his bright brown eyes, his spectacularly stupid hair, his thin lips and almost impish twinkle. I loved when he talked about the history of the nude in his bed, I mean ART, Bum OOOOH what a give away! And this love grew through high school and college, as he was a stuttering homicidal barber, a lumberjack, a game show host, a gumby... and I recall spending time with Bonnie in college reciting entire skits and laughing our asses off, doing our best ridiculous Brit accents, and just enjoying it all ever so.

i think michael palin has lovely eyes.

So as he's grown up, he's evolved as we all do. He's made movies. A couple are better than others, and now he's this older gent who still has the wild spirit and the curious and youthful eye, and he goes off (ta ta!) in search of adventure with a hoard of BBC staff and friends to tape his travels, and he comments and lives a fascinating life.

What I enjoyed most about the books I read (there are more which I need to get, like "Full Circle" and "Hemingway's Adventures..." which weren't at the bookstore when I went shopping) is his uncanny talent of being so in the moment and child like, even in the face of danger. The inate curiousity that causes schoolboys to ask "why is this" and "how does that happen," and the sudden surprise at certain realizations which come out during his writing make me smile.

I'll never get to travel to the Far East or Africa, but Michael Palin has done it in a way that I find so refreshing. His irritation with the stuckup tourists who moan and complain about things, and his desire to meet the common man make him seem so real to me, like a friend. I have a similar attitude... I don't want to be surrounded by home when I'm away... an African Adventure shouldn't have bits and pieces of Boston strewn about it to make me feel more comfortable. So many people in western culture are afraid to throw the trappings away and just be where they are. He had days on a dhow to hang out with arab seamen, with the crews of many boats and trains, and he never pooh-poohed the experience as not up to snuff. He strikes me as educated and willing to become more educated. And I like that in a friend, in a writer, in a fellow westerner.

It is the kind of spirit I want to instill in my kids. To not fear the unknown place or person, that adventure can be found by being friendly to someone in the classroom that doesn't look the same as we do. I think that the kids get it.

Anyway, this is the summer of Palin, and if he ever wanted to come follow the trail of the revolution in the Boston area, he's welcome to stay at the Way Out Inn. I'd gladly host him and an entire BBC crew. I'll even buy brown sauce for them for their breakfast sausages.

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