Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Weird Habit No.1--I Read the Parody First

Patry Francis, of simply wait, tagged me with the five "weird habits" meme. I pretty much asked for it. I'll start with the one I mentioned in my earlier post--I tend to read the parody before the real thing. This probably comes from finding a copy of Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary as a child. I now appreciate Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," but I got Bierce's version first:

The cur foretells the knell of parting day;
The loafing herd winds slowly o'er the lea;
The wise man homewards plods; I only stay
To fiddle-faddle in a minor key.

And like a lot of baby-boomer kids, I subscribed to MAD. Rarely did I see any of the movies it parodied, but in most cases, the parody not only pointed out the flaws, but pretty much explained the film.

Jay Ward and Bill Scott gave me Bullwinkle, Fractured Fairy Tales, Tom Slick, and Super Chicken. I'm afraid I saw a lot of the fractured tales before knowing the originals. The same people (I think) produced a show called "Fractured Flickers," which took old silent films, cut them up, and added narration. Hans Conreid was host. Before I saw the classic Lon Chaney "Hunchback of Notre Dame," I saw the fractured version, in which Chaney is the head cheerleader for Stanford University. (At the end, he transfers to Notre Dame).

In 1969, while staying in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while my mother did research for Paul Engle, who was writing a book on American women, I discovered the Harvard Lampoon. The issue that summer was a parody of LIFE Magazine, which proclaimed "The End of the World." And there were advertisements for the next issue: "Tolkien Will Never Be the Same." Of course, I had to get Bored of the Rings. The book is as much a satire of America in the late 1960s as it is a parody of Tolkien's trilogy. I finally did read Lord of the Rings--some 30 years after reading the adventures of Frito Bugger, Goodgulf the Wizard, and Stomper (later known as Arrowshirt of Arrowroot).

And I have yet to see "Shakespeare in Love." "George Lucas in Love," I've seen.


Peter said...

And I can still hear the theme music for Bullwinkle, Fractured Fairy Tales, Tom Slick (Tom Slick! Do - do - do - do - do - do - do - do) and Super Chicken. Speaking of parodies, how about Wally Cox's Underdog?

steve said...

And I even have an Underdog T-shirt. How could I have forgotten Stan Freberg? "Turn off the bubble machine!"