Monday, 20 July 2009

The Monty Python Quiz is Over!

by Matthew Glenn "Don't-Sleep-In-The-Subway-Darling" Ward

Newcastle University Union Amp, 1995

It was billed as the Mythical Monty Python Quiz and it was almost mythical, seeing it was advertised in mid-semester one and did not materialise til the first week in August; but when the contest was announced, many many Python freaks felt their hearts flutter the same way as when they had their first kiss, or the first time they heard Graham Chapman go "squawk! squark! squawk!"

On Tuesday August lst at 12:30 pm, the stage was setup in the Tanner Bar to test four teams, in two heats, on their knowledge of Monty Python.

Team # 1 included a female! - The first one competing since the famed finals of the 1920s; and there sang the man in the green greatcoat. The other team consisted of four perfect strangers who were not in charge of the Gestapo at all, but were ex-members of the now-defunct Dead Parrot's Society, and called themselves the Ex-Parrots: they included the Reverend Arthur Belling who fancied himself (and thought he could even answer a few questions!)

The questions ranged from the Ex-Parrots' fave Circus to Grail and back again. At first, Team #1 was ahead but the Parrots put the pedal down and surged through to kill them stone dead. Heat 2 had last year's viktors from NUSA playing the 4 Bruces. The NUSA team was handicapped by a hat with hands on it, and a Brian who only realised the Monty Python Quiz was a quiz about Monty Python at the last minute. It was cruel to watch - so much so that the Ex-Parrots allowed one of their own to join the team (not that he did much good! - he was forced to the sin-bin which was the Rudolf Nureyev Silly Walk around Godfrey's Bar!) To put it simply, Sir Bruce of Verbatim was too good, channelling Chapman himself and sending a chill down the back of Terry Jones picking tomatoes in his southern England garden. Result: Bruces by a lot!

The following week the Ex-Parrots were VERY ready: they had their sacred t-shirts on, ancient
Groucho Marx glasses on, the dead parrot cage hanging from the mike and glasses of refreshment: trouble is they left their brains on the operating table (doctor! doctor!). Sean had instituted the comfy chair! Anyone doubting the word of Sean would be placed in the chair, and we never doubted his wrath, verily (even Beowulf screamed). The Bruces had changed their titles: and Ewen McTegal left his kilt in the highlands to lead his team.

In the opening minutes, Ewen was put in the comfy chair for backchatting Sean and all cheered just cos he deserved it:) The Bruces were lost without him and Vanilla's crew romped into a quiet lead. After Ewen came back, Sean took the cocky move of placing a woman with child in the comfy chair, saying she deserved to be made an example of (and they say power doesn't corrupt).

Vanilla himself was brave enough to test the famed Seanian angst by 'complimenting' the quizmaster's handling of the contest, and Vanilla was sent to the chair, much to the anger of the huge crowd in the Bar of the Beast!

The scores were neck and neck most of the way, and Sean made the most of the physical challenges, with Ewen capturing beautifully the gallop of King Arthur; and the Bruces won the Fish-Slapping Dance only cos one guy fell off the stage before the event could begin. Dame-Fortuna was most surely with the Bruces that day!

In the end Sean ran out of questions, and the draw was broken when the Bruces in their wisdom answered a question about the Knights of Ni! Result: Bruces by a question: they took a book of Python songs as their reward, and the Ex-Parrots fought to the death over a video they already had. But there were no real winners or losers - comedy and cliché won the day.

© Matthew Ward, 1995

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Published - Famous Album Covers - 010709

Famous Album Covers, run by Jeff Crouch, published this pic and story about a fake band. Enjoy...

'Let It K.G. Be' - LENIN & McCARTHY

(1932) Phonograph Recording.

Take one conservative US senator who hates communism with a passion. Give him an acoustic guitar. Then give that senator access to the tomb of Russia's greatest communist. Put a harmonica in that communist's mouth and pay a Moscow baker to push up and down on his stomach. The result is the now long forgotten duo who influenced every folk star, from Joan Baez to Simon and Garfunkel.

The senator was Joe McCarthy; the communist was, of course, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, famously known as Lenin.

So why would an American who hated Reds with such a passion play music with a long dead communist? Well, this could be speculation but some pundits have theorized that Joe and Lenin went to university together. St. Petersburg State Polytechnical University to be precise. They were roomates and started their duo with Joe on guitar and Lenin on harmonica. Sounds feasible, doesn't it? Well it is true.

Lenin of course died in 1924 and this broke up the act. Joe was distraught that his college buddy was gone, telling a journalist, "Yeah, it's a drag." But McCarthy had other plans, to continue the partnership. The result became Lenin & McCarthy's greatest album, 'Let It K.G. Be'.

Highlights include: My Mule She Won't Move, Heave Ho, Stalin the Man of Steal, Middle of Nowhere Blues, Salt Mines, and I Wish I Was Back In Ole Kentucky. The song old folk remember most is one that Paul McCartney would adapt in 1970. The song was called 'Go Back'. Here is a snippet of that song with Joe McCarthy on guitar, Lenin on blues harp with a little bit of help from Sergei the baker operating Lenin's stomach bellows.

'Go Back' by Lenin & McCarthy (mp3)

McCarthy of course went on to cause panic in the arts world of the 1950s with his anti-American witch trials turning friend against friend. Funny that all along, Senator Joe was just one fun loving pinko.

Ebay had a copy of this album last year. It's worth a cool thousand now if you can get it.

- Matthew Ward, reporting

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Back in Blogger Again

I can't believe it's been 2 years since I opened this Blogger account. Time flies. But I will be adding to it more regularly. Stay tuned.