Category Archives: Self-Referential

self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing, self-explanatory, self, self, self, …

The Super Bowl Memoirs Of DrHGuy

As it turns out, DrHGuy is, at best, a fair weather football fan so ferreting out the top three Super Bowl memories is fairly easy.

Super Bowl Memory #3: The First Super Bowl

A high school buddy and I spent an hour or two of January 15 1967 in my 1957 Chevy, listening to the first Super Bowl1 – then known as “The NFL-AFL World Championship Game”2 – between the Green Bay Packers (NFL) and the Kansas City Chiefs (AFL). While the Chiefs had a geographical call on our cheering interests, the Kansas City Chiefs being the closest thing Diamond, Missouri had to a local team, we were both self-styled realists who knew the Chiefs didn’t have a prayer against the legendary Packers.

Super Bowl Memory #2: Maui Super Bowl

Because we habitually departed Chicago for Maui during the last days of January and the first part of February, the Super Bowl occasionally took place during our vacation. I recall watching, with 150 to 200 other guys, the 49ers win a Super Bowl (XVI? XIX?) on a large screen TV – located in a resort’s windowless sports bar. The Hawaiian start time was late morning. Julie opted to spend that time on Kaanapali Beach.

Super Bowl Memory #1: The Greatest Super Bowl Of All Time

The Greatest Super Bowl Of All Time is, of course, was Super Bowl XX when Ditka and Da Bears beat up the Patriots. Yep, anyone could tell that team was going nowhere.

On the other hand, The 1985 Bears performed The Super Bowl Shuffle – and you can’t take that away from me.

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  1. Super Bowl I was televised on both CBS and NBC. I don’t recall why we chose to listen to it on the radio rather than watch it on TV []
  2. The NFL-AFL World Championship Game was officially renamed the Super Bowl in 1969. []

Graham Chapman And The Parrot Are Dead – A Eulogy To Die For

Heck of a Guy Eulogy Research Lives On

As I noted in yesterday’s post, He Was One Heck Of A Guy – The Eulogy, my personal participation in the preparation of my eulogy appears necessary if the desired high-quality, fulsomely overblown, raucous yet cockle-warming send-off is to be assured.

Currently, that effort focuses on a search for emulation-worthy eulogies that could provide inspiration for my own effort – or, failing that, substantial chunks of prose that could be lifted directly into my personal panegyric.

Today’s post showcases an outstanding specimen of the genre, the brilliant tour de force given by John Cleese at the memorial service for his Monty Python colleague, Graham Chapman.

Left to Right: Graham Chapman, John Cleese With Dead Parrot

Graham Chapman’s Memorial Service

Graham Chapman, comedian, actor, writer, physician, and one of the six members of the Monty Python crew died October 4, 1989.1

His memorial service was held on the evening of December 6 1989 in the Great Hall at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. John Cleese delivered the eulogy. Afterward, Cleese joined Gilliam, Jones, and Palin along with Chapman’s other friends as Idle led them in a rendition of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from the film Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

Graham Chapman’s Memorial Service was filmed and produced by Mark Chapman for the BBC Omnibus presentation of Life of Python, 1989, and dedicated in his memory.

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Graham Chapman’s Memorial Speech
Delivered by John Cleese

Graham Chapman, co-author of the ‘Parrot Sketch,’2 is no more.

He has ceased to be, bereft of life, he rests in peace, he has kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last, and gone to meet the Great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky, and I guess that we’re all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, such capability and kindness, of such intelligence should now be so suddenly spirited away at the age of only forty-eight, before he’d achieved many of the things of which he was capable, and before he’d had enough fun.

Well, I feel that I should say, “Nonsense. Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard! I hope he fries.”

And the reason I think I should say this is, he would never forgive me if I didn’t, if I threw away this opportunity to shock you all on his behalf. Anything for him but mindless good taste. I could hear him whispering in my ear last night as I was writing this:

“Alright, Cleese, you’re very proud of being the first person to ever say ‘shit’ on television. If this service is really for me, just for starters, I want you to be the first person ever at a British memorial service to say ‘fuck!'”

You see, the trouble is, I can’t. If he were here with me now I would probably have the courage, because he always emboldened me. But the truth is, I lack his balls, his splendid defiance. And so I’ll have to content myself instead with saying ‘Betty Mardsen…’3

But bolder and less inhibited spirits than me follow today. Jones and Idle, Gilliam and Palin. Heaven knows what the next hour will bring in Graham’s name. Trousers dropping, blasphemers on pogo sticks, spectacular displays of high-speed farting, synchronised incest. One of the four is planning to stuff a dead ocelot and a 1922 Remington typewriter up his own arse to the sound of the second movement of Elgar’s cello concerto. And that’s in the first half.

Because you see, Gray would have wanted it this way. Really. Anything for him but mindless good taste. And that’s what I’ll always remember about him—apart, of course, from his Olympian extravagance. He was the prince of bad taste. He loved to shock. In fact, Gray, more than anyone I knew, embodied and symbolised all that was most offensive and juvenile in Monty Python. And his delight in shocking people led him on to greater and greater feats. I like to think of him as the pioneering beacon that beat the path along which fainter spirits could follow.

Some memories. I remember writing the undertaker speech with him, and him suggesting the punch line, ‘All right, we’ll eat her, but if you feel bad about it afterwards, we’ll dig a grave and you can throw up into it.’ I remember discovering in 1969, when we wrote every day at the flat where Connie Booth and I lived, that he’d recently discovered the game of printing four-letter words on neat little squares of paper, and then quietly placing them at strategic points around our flat, forcing Connie and me into frantic last minute paper chases whenever we were expecting important guests.

I remember him at BBC parties crawling around on all fours, rubbing himself affectionately against the legs of gray-suited executives, and delicately nibbling the more appetizing female calves. Mrs. Eric Morecambe remembers that too.

I remember his being invited to speak at the Oxford union, and entering the chamber dressed as a carrot—a full length orange tapering costume with a large, bright green sprig as a hat—-and then, when his turn came to speak, refusing to do so. He just stood there, literally speechless, for twenty minutes, smiling beatifically. The only time in world history that a totally silent man has succeeded in inciting a riot.

I remember Graham receiving a Sun newspaper TV award from Reggie Maudling. Who else! And taking the trophy falling to the ground and crawling all the way back to his table, screaming loudly, as loudly as he could. And if you remember Gray, that was very loud indeed.

It is magnificent, isn’t it? You see, the thing about shock… is not that it upsets some people, I think; I think that it gives others a momentary joy of liberation, as we realised in that instant that the social rules that constrict our lives so terribly are not actually very important.

Well, Gray can’t do that for us anymore. He’s gone. He is an ex-Chapman. All we have of him now is our memories. But it will be some time before they fade.

Coming Attractions: Still more eulogies, including at least one for a fictional character.

  1. Chapman’s death occurred one day before the 20th anniversary of the first broadcast of Flying Circus; Terry Jones called it “the worst case of party-pooping in all history.” After Chapman’s death, speculation of a Python revival inevitably faded, with Idle saying, “we would only do a reunion if Chapman came back from the dead. So we’re negotiating with his agent.” (From Wikipedia) []
  2. Cleese and Chapman co-wrote many classic Python sketches, including the “Dead Parrot Sketch.” In the original version, written mostly by Cleese, the frustrated customer was trying to return a faulty toaster to a shop. Chapman came up with the idea that returning a dead parrot to a pet shop might make a more interesting subject than a toaster. (From Wikipedia) []
  3. During his ‘drinking days’, Chapman jokingly referred to himself as the British actress Betty Marsden, possibly because of Marsden’s oft-quoted desire to die with a glass of gin in her hand. (From Wikipedia) Chapman would sporadically shout odd words, exclamations, and noises with no apparent connection to any ongoing conversations or events; one favorite, frequently invoked phrase was “Betty Marsden.” (From Graham Chapman) []

He Was One Heck Of A Guy – The Eulogy

DrHGuy Memorial Service Walk-through: Act II, Scene 12, Alternative B

Being Really Prepared

I’ve been considering eulogies lately. I hasten to interject that this is not a subtle signal that my demise is fast approaching. On the other hand, I do have some concerns that, should my friends await my last breath before preparing their tributes or, worse yet, attempt a genuinely extemporaneous last salute, the results will be suboptimal.

While Duke of Derm and Lord of Leisure, for example, are fine buddies, the veritable iodine-added salt of the earth, and precisely the sort of fellows one wants covering ones back, they do not, I’m sorry to report, have the comic chops for the kind of performance that – well, that I deserve.

I am, consequently, faced with two alternatives:

1. Making new friends with a flair for public speaking, compositional skills, and a sense of humor resonant with my own.

2. Preparing a script and stage directions for my eulogy myself, after which my acquaintances can audition for roles in that one and only performance of what should be, as far as I’m concerned, the greatest show on earth, based on stand-up comedy style, acting technique, stagecraft, theatric range, and the likelihood of not only outliving me but also maintaining the physical and cognitive capacities necessary to assure that the show will, indeed, go on.1

It will surprise no one who knows me to learn that I have chosen the latter course of action. 2

The Research

As a result of this process, I’ve come to realize that the time and labors required to live an altruistic, productive life of the sort that offers eulogizers a treasury of good deeds, accomplishments, and evidence of service to humanity from which to choose, can be put to more efficacious use assimilating memorial performances already proven successful in uplifting the spirits of the audience and enhancing the reputation of the deceased. Many of these speeches suggest goals reached and obstacles overcome which can be advantageously attributed to the individual memorialized without the messy inconvenience of him or her actually executing these acts.

I’ve begun the research and will close today’s post with a few excerpts from selected eulogies, not all of which are suitably laudatory for our purposes but all of which are certainly striking.

New York Fire Department Captain James Gormley on Captain Francis Callahan, killed at the World Trade Center:

Some people equate camaraderie with being jovial. It is anything but. Camaraderie is sharing hardship. It is shouts and commands, bruises and cuts. It’s a sore back and lungs that burn from exertion. It’s heat on your neck and a pit in your stomach. It’s a grimy handshake and a hug on wet shoulders when we’re safe. It’s not being asleep when it’s your turn at watch. It is trust, it is respect, it is acting honorably.3


Rev. Howard Moody on Lenny Bruce:

There are three characteristics of his that I especially want to recall: his destructiveness, his unbearable moralism, and his unstinting pigheadedness.4


Robert Hunter on Jerry Garcia, his longtime songwriting partner:

Without your melody and taste
to lend an attitude of grace
a lyric is an orphan thing,
a hive with neither honey’s taste
nor power to truly sting.5


Robert F. Kennedy on Martin Luther King Jr., given impromptu during a campaign stop in racially charged Indianapolis:

What we need in the United States is not hatred, what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.6


Dan Aykroyd on John Belushi:

What we are talking about here is a good man and a bad boy.7


Jacques Pépin on Julia Child:

She was the original antisnob, enjoying a glass of Gallo burgundy as well as a glass of Lafite. She loved iceberg lettuce.8


Rev. Louis Saunders on Lee Harvey Oswald:

Mrs. Oswald tells me her son Lee Harvey was a good boy and that and that she loved him. And today, Lord, we commit his spirit to your divine care.9


Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison on President James Polk:

The death of the late Ex-President of the United States is announced to have taken place last Friday night, near Nashville, Tennessee. His complaint was chronic diarrhea. The transition from Presidential chair to the grave has been swift and startling. Neither humanity, nor justice, nor liberty has any cause to deplore the event. He probably died an unrepentant man-stealer. His administration has been a curse to the country, which will extend to the latest posterity.10


Rich Tillman at the memorial service for his older brother, NFL player turned war hero Pat Tillman, immediately swearing into the microphone said he hadn’t written anything, he said and with asked mourners to hold their spiritual bromides:

Pat isn’t with God. He’s fucking dead. He wasn’t religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he’s fucking dead.11


From The London Times on French philosopher Jacques Derrida, the founder of Deconstruction Movement, a central tenet of which is that “there is nothing outside the text:”

Is Derrida dead? A conceptual foundation for the deconstruction of mortality

Can there be any certainty in the death of Jacques Derrida ? The obituarists’ objective attempts to place his life in a finite context are, necessarily, subject to epistemic relativism, the idea that all such scientific theories are mere “narrations” or social constructions. Surely, a postmodernist deconstruction of their import would inevitably question the foundational conceptual categories of prior science — among them, Derrida’s own existence — which become problematised and relativised. This conceptual revolution has profound implications for the content of future postmodern and liberatory science of mortality. Is God dead?

It was, perhaps, Alan D. Sokal who most heuristically challenged the dogma imposed by the long post-Enlightenment hegemony over the Western intellectual outlook in his brilliant exegesis of Derridian principles Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity. Dr Sokal’s inclusive review of the literature (see especially Hamill, Graham. The epistemology of expurgation: Bacon and The Masculine Birth of Time. In Queering the Renaissance, pp. 236-252. And also Doyle, Richard. Dislocating knowledge, thinking out of joint: Rhizomatics and the importance of being multiple), and his eerily exact summary of the complementarity principle (Instead of a simple “either/or” structure, deconstruction attempts to elaborate a discourse that says neither “either/or” nor “both/and” nor even “neither/nor” while at the same time not abandoning these logics either) make his reading of Derrida irrefutable. We know only two things. We do not know. And M Derrida is in no position to enlighten us.12


Coming Attractions: Even better eulogies to follow soon.

  1. That still leaves finding singer-dancers for the chorus line, composing the music, sketching out the choreography, arranging for soloists, … , but one thing at a time. []
  2. I had, in truth, rejected the first option by the time I finished “Marking new friends.” []
  3. Excerpted from A Wonderful Life: 50 Eulogies to Lift the Spirit by Cyrus Copeland []
  4. Ibid []
  5. Ibid []
  6. Ibid []
  7. Ibid []
  8. Ibid []
  9. Ibid []
  10. From The Liberator, June 22, 1849 []
  11. American Tragedy by Mike Fish. []
  12. The London Times Oct 11, 2004 []

The Other Photos From The Thanksgiving 2007 Trip

While I’ve already posted all the photos of the specimens in my Mother’s collections1 from our visit to her home this past Thanksgiving, there are a few other pictures of people that I’m posting as an indulgence to the nostalgia rampant at the end of the year.

This photo of Mom was taken at Thanksgiving.

On the wall of the basement, I found this blurry picture of Julie’s parents (on left), my parents (on right), and Julie2 and me (in center) at our wedding.

And this even blurrier photo, also from the wedding, of Julie, her daughter, and me.

In this shot, my brother, Bobby Lynn,3 is on the left and I’m on the right. In the center section, Bobby Lynn is on the left and I’m on the right.

  1. To read about and view my mother’s impressive collection of doodads, antiques, gadgets, widgets, junk, tchotchkes, collectibles, oddities, curios, odds, ends, and much, much more, see Mom’s Collectibles []
  2. Julie Showalter was my much-beloved, fiercely smart, wickedly sexy wife and prize-winning writer, who died in 1999 from cancer diagnosed the week of our wedding nearly 20 years earlier. There are many other posts about her and her writing in this blog. For information, see Julie Showalter FAQ []
  3. Bobby Lynn, two years younger than I, died at 16 of Hodgkin’s. []

A Christmas Intervention

Well, it seems somehow inappropriate to designate a power cord going kerflooey a “Christmas Miracle.”

Friday night, my trusty laptop flashed a signal that its battery was low. That was puzzling given that it was plugged in at the time. But I’ve made far too many calls to tech support1 not know the routine. After making sure the outlet was hot, I unplugged and re-plugged my power cord which did cause a different signal to appear on the laptop’s screen, “Power cord not recognized.”

On close inspection, I found this:

The photo looks directly into the end of the cable that plugs into the laptop. It looks kind of like the inside of a bell with the clapper removed, doesn’t it? In this case, the absent element is not a clapper but a single strand of wire that once arose from the center of the cable and inserted into a matching channel in the laptop. No center wire, no connection.

The adapter and power cord should, however, make a fine ornament for the tree.

The laptop put out of commission is, of course, my only computer that can hook up with a decently fast broadband connection. And, no one who has worked with computers or any other machine more than twice will be surprised to learn that, even with me agreeing to pay the ransom demanded for expedited delivery, the earliest a replacement adapter and cable can be shipped is Monday.

The Bad News

The bad news is that I can’t work on any of the 33,297 tasks on my list that require a broadband connection.

The Good News

The good news is that I can’t work on any of the 33,297 tasks on my list that require a broadband connection.

Consequently, I’ve spent time emailing folks who may well have been in the process of having me declared legally dead, having not heard from me in many months, I’ve read a few chapters of a book I purchased when it was first published but hadn’t yet opened, although the movie based on it has come and gone. I called my mother.

I even gazed upon the winter wonderland that surrounds us and snapped a photo or two.2

Being forced to enjoy a weekend during the holidays is a trial, but I’m determined to be brave about it.

  1. I’ll explain for the young’uns – there once was a time when computer users could telephone an actual person in tech support to deal with your machine’s problems rather than emailing a description of the difficulty and receiving 8 days later, with luck, a generic responses cut and pasted by a software problem that clearly does not understand English. Of course, the tech support person you contacted in that golden age might or might not have a clue about whatever was wrong, but still, … []
  2. I have many other shots that are fascinating – if you’ve ever wondered how photos of a winter landscape would look if they were taken by a camera set in a mode called “Underwater.” Lord of Leisure has his favorite photo techniques; I have mine. []

Hooray, Hurrah, Mizzou, Mizzou

Missouri Is #1 In College Football

Say It Loud, Say It Proud, But For God’s Sake Say It NOW

After this past weekend’s 36-28 victory over Kansas University,1 The University of Missouri Tigers, unranked in the preseason polls, are now #1 in the Bowl Championship Series, #1 in The Associated Press Writers’ Poll, and #2 behind West Virginia in the USA Today/Coaches Poll.

This dizzy ascension of my medical school alma mater to the top of the computer-calculated BCS heap is sufficiently atypical to cause me to (1) acknowledge that a college football season is under way and (2) abandon my steadfastly maintained strategy of climbing on the bandwagon of any sports team2 only after it has crossed the finish line.3

It’s been a long time since Missouri has been #1 in its conference, let alone the country, and who knows when it will happen again – or how long it will last?

There’s a whole lot of gloating to catch up on while the gloatin’s good.

The Kansas City Star summarizes Mizzou’s situation succinctly:

It has been 47 years — the final week of the Big Eight Conference season in 1960 — since a Missouri football team has been ranked No. 1.

To keep that ranking, Missouri has to beat Oklahoma — No. 9 in the BCS — on Saturday night in the Big 12 Conference championship game in San Antonio.

That will guarantee the Tigers a berth in the BCS National Championship game in New Orleans in January. Then all the Tigers would have to do is beat an opponent that right now is likely to be West Virginia.

The Victory Song Celebration

Most schools have one or two fight songs. When I was enrolled in The University of Missouri Marcus Welby Tech back in the 1970s, Mizzou seemed to have dozens of fight songs. The count may be in the three figures by now.

Regardless, this quaintly ferocious refrain is The Mizzou Fight Song. Prepare to be moved.

Fight Tigers

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Hit it, Hooray, Hurrah,
Mizzou, Mizzou,
Hooray, Hurrah,
Mizzou, Mizzou,
Hooray, Hurrah,
And a “Bully” for Ol’ Mizzou,
Rah, Rah, Rah, Rah,
Mizzou-rah, Mizzou-rah, Mizzou-rah,

Fight Tigers Factoid #1: This is only nominally a song. It is actually a cadence spliced between “Every True Son” and “Fight Tigers,” two of the many songs officially listed as the Mizzou Fight Song.

Fight Tigers Factoid #2
: 97.7% of those who join in singing/chanting “Fight Tigers,” know the words to only the first five lines. Beginning with the words, “And a ‘Bully’ for Ol’ Mizzou,” those folks substitute random nonsense syllables for the actual lyrics. Mizzou tradition holds that this is an acceptable alternative to the version as originally written as long as those nonsense syllables are vocalized at maximum volume.

Audience Participation

OK, play “Fight Tigers” once more and sing along this time. Making it through those first 5 lines after imbibing any liquor costing less than $1.65 per gallon, one or more pitchers of beer, or, at least in the 70s, a six pack of fruit coolers, not only qualifies you as an honorary Missouri Football Tigers fan but also as a medical practitioner licensed to perform surgeries and psychotherapy throughout Kansas.

Go Tigers

  1. Kansas plays the deservedly loathed villain to Missouri’s hero in the ongoing morality play that is the intensely competitive Missouri-Kansas rivalry; it is also the school my first wife attended []
  2. The obvious exception is college basketball which transcends the concept of “sport” to take its place in the metaphysical realm. It is, by he way, only 112 days until the March 18, 2008 start of the 2008 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. []
  3. From Blog Reports On Crystal Lake Rowing Event Not Part Of Gay Games: I am, like most bloggers as far as I can tell, not only a fair weather fan but a fair weather fan who also demands a bit of glitz or at least a comfortably appointed bandwagon onto which to climb. … For that matter, bandwagons themselves must meet certain criteria. My official declaration that I was a Chicago White Sox fan, for example, became effective midnight 26 October 2005, just after they won the World Series. Many practical and fiscal compensations accrued from my precise timing in acquiring citizenship in ChiSox Nation. The savings in time, fuel, and parking fees alone garnered from my decision not to drive to games that season is impressive; add to that the hours and dollars I would have otherwise spent if I actually attended any games, and the totals approach remarkable levels. I am likewise confident that my intellectual and neurological states were protected from the damage that would have necessarily been inflicted if I had read beyond the headlines of the sports pages or listened to the sports broadcasts featuring wincingly painful puns (”Soxtober” and “Battle of the Soxes” come to mind); player by player and community characteristic by community characteristic comparisons of the White Sox, their then current opponent, and, of course, the Cubs; extensive classical, revisionist, and deconstructionalist takes on the Black Sox; and yet more examinations of the “Curse Of The [fill in the blank]” phenomenon in baseball. The primary advantage of deferred fandom is, of course, psychological. I simply bypassed the angst of the championship race as well as the bitterness of the late season slump and, without even pausing to pass Go, proceeded to the post-victory celebration and gloating. As one who was first seduced and then heartbroken by the late 1970’s-early 1980’s versions of Ray Meyer’s DePaul Blue Demons as they transformed from the NCAA Tournament’s Cinderella Team into the ugly stepsister, I can testify that the “Destiny” in “Team of Destiny” is not inevitably a felicitous state. In any case, given the pace of baseball, it certainly seems safe to climb on the bandwagon once it has crossed the finish line. []