Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Funnies: Perfection Versus Having Fun, From Jeremy Irons to Johnny Pugh ...

All roads lead to sawdust circles: Maybe Paul Binder has it right, that the "circle" existed in ancient times, around which the earliest entertainments were staged. Opera, I think, being one. Thence came, ions later, horse riders, acrobats, clowns, Peterson peanuts ... Film actor Jeremy Irons, talking up a movie, The Borgias, he's made for HBO, revealing that he set out, first to try circus and carnival work, but was put off by the "small" (read cramped and crummy) quarters. He thought, "I'm too middle class for that." So he took up theatre then film ... You'd be surprised how many theatrical figures either started out under big or little tops, or are related to others. One was Burt Lancaster ...

So, what's funny, anyway? Irons, who as I recall had one huge hit in Reversal of Fortune and then perhaps suffered an early reversal of early fortune, talks about striving for actorly perfection in his first flicks. He grew out of that impossible dream, and now grants that having fun is perhaps equally as important, which places us back inside the sawdust circle, watching on grainy video the Fredonias (sent to me in the DVD goodies from Ken Dodd). As I watched this likable family of risley artists from long ago, I viewed their less than perfect landings with reformed respect, credit a minor Epiphany: Drum roll! Lurking in the background of my nagging mind were contrasting images of abstract perfection at Cirque du Soleil, images of robotically perfect practitioners behind thick masks. Because the Fredonias seemed a little more believably human, I found myself enjoying what they had to offer a little more. "Perfection," says Irons, "you can't seek it because it doesn't exist." He came to embrace a more practical and less consuming goal: "Try and make it fun for everyone."

Ronald Reagan's everlasting press agent, egghead columnist George Will, having fun dissing "celebrity economist" John Kenneth Galbrath on the latter's assertion that all it takes is corporate money and the public will buy whatever the money points to: As, for example, cites Will, "In 1958, Ford put all its marketing muscle behind the Edsel." HaHa! I remember that weirdly stillborn curiosity. I saw very few on the streets of Santa Rosa. The thing looked like the 1920s trying to be the 1930s.

Did you know that the majority of Americans, as recently as forty years ago, did not fly in airplanes? News to me. I, a long ago-er, still fret even the mere idea of going up there in space. Back and forth to China came, at no extra charge, with nail-biting turbulence. Believe me here: While I was trying to watch West Side Story on the tiny screen to escape my fears, during the jets and the sharks rumble, I was so afraid they might make the shaking even worse, that I turned off the damn movie! " ... If Kodak is on the ropes," asks columnist Jane Glenn Haas, "What's left?" Well, let's see -- how about ketchup bottles, pit bulls, PBS rock and roll breaks ... ?

Marriage may be on the ropes, too: It's getting closer to a sad selfish irrelevance: Here's news from wacked-out London making fun of modern reasons pushing for no-fault-divorce laws, which the Brits do not enjoy. There's the wife refusing to dress in a Klingon costume and speak to her spouse in Klingon. [what is a Klington? Sounds funny] Another couple hissing it out in divorce court over the husband accusing his wife of "spitefully tampering with the TV antenna and throwing away his cold cuts." Well, at least, she didn't threaten to buy a second-hand Edsel and force hubby to ride inside it with her ...

A man and his circus: Here's a no-fault guy still having fun fronting his own show, Cole Bros. Circus of Stars, Johnny Pugh. Another spring, another season. The thriving octogenarian looks high on life, ready to tackle another tour, whatever comes his way. "It's like running a dream," he told the Willmington Star News, who reported his age at 73. Congrats, Johnny, you deserve your own grand reversal of fortune!

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