Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Of Mork, Men, Marx, Mirth, Murder, Music, and Me

•I wasn’t a big fan of the Tourette’s-like humor of Robin Williams, nor Robert Altman’s oddly joyless Popeye film, but I must still admit that (as Franklin Harris has noted) few human beings could transform themselves so convincingly into one of my favorite cartoon characters as to make this scene possible. Williams’ talent and energy were obvious.

•I think the very earliest Fleischer Popeye cartoons are more fun, though -- with this monstrously un-p.c. one a favorite. Popeye is sometimes credited as an early (pre-Superman) superhero to boot, along with the likes of 1903’s counter-revolutionary aristocrat, the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Scarlet Pimpernel, arguably the first modern superhero, was created by a conservative female, it’s worth noting. History is more complex than the political spectrum and academic denunciations of Superman as patriarchal.

•If Williams were still alive, he might have approved of something going on onstage in NYC that I (and a lovely Popeye fan named Jackie) plan to check out on Friday -- something you, too, might want to catch while you can: a short-run performance of the one Marx Brothers play that was never turned into a film, I’ll Say She Is! I hope it will be the closest thing I’ve experienced to seeing a new Marx Brothers film since seeing the highly accurate (and funny) 90s homage Brain Donors with John Turturro (as ballet-ruining mischief-maker Roland T. Flakfizer).

•I, by contrast, am simply honored to be in the company of the other comedic political commentators gathered by Tom Brennan on August 9 for his latest Electoral Dysfunction show at People’s Improv (not to be confused with the People’s Cube).

I think one of the most important lessons learned may be that Robert A. George, if pressed about his immigration status, is still cagey about whether he comes from a place called Trinidad or a place called Tobago, but ultimately I want all borders and nations eliminated, so we’ll let it slide.

•Williams’ death isn’t the only one this week reminding us of the 1980s, since James Brady passed away, his death ruled a homicide all these years later, stemming from his injuries during the attempted assassination of Reagan. To compensate for that traumatic memory -- while remaining thematically relevant -- here’s an unjustly forgotten New Wave song by weapony-sounding band Armoury Show (“Castles in Spain”) plus a song about creepy woman-obsessed stalker guys: what may be my favorite Siouxsie song, with only one Banshee joining her, the Creatures’ “Standing There.”

•And while you have the Reagan assassination attempt on the brain, why not read (or reread) my time-travel sci-fi story about that unfortunate incident, “No Future,” on the rich and ever-growing libertarian pop culture site Liberty Island

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