Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ha Ha Ha

I'm a cheap laugh, as easily delighted by a good turn of phrase that lends itself to ripe imagery as something that brings forth humorous associations.

My brother was quite a fan of Robertson Davies writing way back when. Having similar tastes in literature, I highly valued N's opinions and vowed to dig into Davies' works but I've not been able to pull away from books on: Chinese medicine, dreams, anatomy, physiology, psychology, pathology, spirituality, shamanism etc; that is until this spring when I decided it was time to rectify the situation.

I have finally rewarded myself with "time out" for fiction and Davies' works are calling me perhaps because Robert Moss referred to Davies in his blog. Davies had said that the snowball incident in FIFTH BUSINESS that sets the story in motion was inspired by a dream and the novel is filled with: myth, magic, synchronicity, Jung and life in a small Ontario town; very appropriate reading for this Canadian dreamworker.

I began my reading reward with FIFTH BUSINESS the first book in the Deptford Trilogy which I found in the used bookstore on the corner. "Oh, you'll really enjoy this. He's such an entertaining writer, and so funny. You'll want to pick up the other two; you'll want to read them all" the shopkeeper said as she flipped through the book to find the price noted the inside the cover.

Later that afternoon I dug into the book, finding it fascinating and a compelling read but this was what really won me over... Dunstan Ramsay, at the age of 13, finds himself working as an under-librarian at his local library. Having much time on his hands he spends it perusing the odd materials in the acquisitions room. One of these is a medical text book with..."a portrait of a man with lavish hair and whiskers but no nose, which made me a lifelong enemy of syphilis."

OMG, I couldn't stop laughing. I could so relate. How much time have I spent going over just such material (not just as a reader but during my time as paste up artist for a medical text book publisher) being alternately fascinated and repelled by the text and the photos which illustrate all manner of pathology? With that phrase he won me over.

It still cracks me up and is now one of my all time favourite lines.

Another great line comes from Bill Bryson's IN A SUNBURNED COUNTRY when speaking of Australian prime minister Harold Hold's unfortunate demise (He was swept away into the sea and was barely missed as, being the resilient people that they are, Aussies took it in a "no worries" fashion. ) Bryson says that Hold took "the swim that needs no towel." Ha, ha...

Sick, I know.

On a slightly different, decidedly less literary vein, the last thing that cracked me up was a description of the 2004 Canadian movie, GERALDINE'S FORTUNE; "A local woman is randomly chosen to appear in a popular Canadian game show...". A fantasy to be sure; I was in stitches. This line triggered childhood memories of Canadian game shows and I can assure you that there was never such a thing as a popular Canadian game show.

While south of the boarder Americans were playing lively, wildly stupid, yet immensely rewarding, games often involving personal embarrassment we Canadians had the likes of FRONT PAGE CHALLENGE in which a panel of dour, ancient journalists tried to figure out what news story the hidden game challenger was related to and PARTY GAME* involving 3 Canadian "celebrities" (no such thing at that time in my neck of the woods, unless you were a hockey player) acting as the home team plus 2 other guest celebrities and a contestant as the challengers in a charades style affair.

There must have been more game shows but they were not nearly as memorable as the prizes associated with Canadian game shows. Unlike our American neighbours we had no appliances, cars, nor beautiful models waving their hands over these gleaming beauties. No curtain was drawn or floor spun to reveal what stood behind the dividing wall. We had no trips abroad; to a flea bitten motel on the Lakeshore strip in Toronto for a weekend, maybe, where, I imagined, you could have the opportunity to be personally introduced to young Dunstan's lifelong enemy. But, most common was a set of Blue Mountain pottery or 10 square feet of beige broadloom carpeting, undramatically displayed via a shot of a poster. So when I read, "...sparking a frenzy in her town" in the promo I just about fell off my chair.

* The one great thing about THE PARTY GAME was the brilliant, versatile Billy Van. As a result of his participation in that gig he landed the lead role, AND played a bazillion other characters, in THE HILARIOUS HOUSE OF FRIGHTENSTEIN a truly quirky, campy and funny Canadian TV kids' show whose 130 episodes were made in 1971. It was popular with teens and university students, after all Vincent Price, a true American celebrity was on a Canadian show; how cool was that!

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