Sometimes I think that the only way to get through life is with a revolving sequence of Monty Python sketches.

Because really, half the time the world seems to be governed by this kind of logic:

Brian: Excuse me. Are you the Judean People’s Front?
Reg: Fuck off! We’re the People’s Front of Judea.

And what does the New Year bring? Change? Growth? Resolutions people abandon in February?


This holiday season, it seems to be big on engagements. Couples all around me are getting engaged, and I find it both very happy and also a little sad, considering my boyfriend and I haven’t really been speaking to each other for 2 days after an argument over a ceiling light in the bedroom.

So I don’t think I will be getting married in 2011. Which is fine. I will, however, be giving birth to a thesis – and it’s already about half-written.

And in an important way, this means more to me than a ring!

I also think that I’ve finally – finally – figured out what I would like to do with my professional life. Therefore, I am christening 2011 as the year of the career, in which  I will not worry about what is happening to me romantically.





It is my firm belief that one should watch assorted Monty Python on a regulated basis, because it makes you think about the important things in life.

Or at the very least, its well-crafted British humour (note the spelling) may lead you to wonder about poignant, worldly intellectual issues. Or at least ponder its funnies.

Take, for example, a scene from The Holy Grail, in which the knights are attempting to decipher an inscription that will lead them to the grail:

Brother Maynard: "It reads: ‘Here may be found the last words of Joseph of Arimathea. He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the Holy Grail in the Castle of A-a-a-a-a-gh…"

King Arthur: "What?"
Maynard: "The Castle of A-a-a-a-a-gh."
Bedevere: "What is that?"
Maynard: "He must’ve died while carving it."
Lancelot: "Oh, come on."
Maynard: "Well, that’s what it says."
King Arthur: "Look, if he was dying, he wouldn’t bother to carve ‘A-a-a-a-gh.’ He’d just say it."
Maynard: "That’s what’s carved in the rock."
Galahad: "Perhaps he was dictating."


And this made me think of all the times throughout history when spelling, grammar, and authorial intent has gone flying out the window, often spectacularly.

Sometimes, it’s a simple matter of translation:imageMmmm, tasty.

Or maybe, a word is left out:

image I don’t see this ending well…

Perhaps, a well-intended handwritten sign:image

Or even “intellectuals” asleep on the jobimage

The word ‘phusei’ was spelled with an ‘S’ rather than the Greek letter sigma, which looks similar to a capital ‘E.’ Whoops!




And then we go back in time, and see odd junk like this, where even the chisel doesn’t make excuses for the illegible mess.

(But, then again, even the Romans F’ed up – and we know they were the shit. )


Or maybe some careless craftsman broke it, and left it there to puzzle future scholars, and to inspire countless future theses and dissertations.

  And for that reason, I offer my thanks to humanity, for keeping the wonder/frustration/scholarship/face-palming alive since the B.C’s.


“And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.”

“He must be a king.
He hasn’t got shit all over him.”


That is all.

Happy April 1st, everyone! As per the relative randomness popping up on the internet, I’m officially declaring it Monty Python Day. Please enjoy the random-intelligent-nonsense that is the Life of Brian.

(If my Latin class was like this, I might have memorized my declensions earlier…)


What’s this thing? "ROMANES EUNT DOMUS"? "People called Romans they go the house?"
It… it says "Romans go home".
No it doesn’t. What’s Latin for "Roman"?

Brian hesitates

Come on, come on!
(uncertain) "ROMANUS".
Goes like?
Vocative plural of "-ANUS" is?
(takes paintbrush from Brian and paints over) "RO-MA-NI". "EUNT"? What is "EUNT"?
Conjugate the verb "to go"!
"IRE"; "EO", "IS", "IT", "IMUS", "ITIS", "EUNT".
So "EUNT" is …?
Third person plural present indicative, "they go".
But "Romans, go home!" is an order, so you must use the …?

He lifts Brian by his short hairs

The … imperative.
Which is?
Um, oh, oh, "I", "I"!
How many Romans? (pulls harder)
Plural, plural! "ITE".

Centurion strikes over "EUNT" and paints "ITE" on the wall

"I-TE". "DOMUS"? Nominative? "Go home", this is motion towards, isn’t it, boy?
(very anxious) Dative?

Centurion draws his sword and holds it to Brian’s throat

Ahh! No, ablative, ablative, sir. No, the, accusative, accusative, ah, DOMUM, sir.
Except that "DOMUS" takes the …?
… the locative, sir!
Which is?
(satisfied) "DOMUM"…

He strikes out "DOMUS" and writes "DOMUM"

…"-MUM". Understand?
Yes sir.
Now write it down a hundred times.
Yes sir, thank you sir, hail Caesar, sir.
(saluting) Hail Caesar. If it’s not done by sunrise, I’ll cut your balls off.
(very relieved) Oh thank you sir, thank you sir, hail Caesar and everything, sir!

Now for [something completely different!] those of you who are not of a “delicate” constitution:

Today I would like to remind you of a classic example of British humor, which I personally feel kicks the proverbial ass of American humor. I’ve decided to add my little comments in brackets, because, well, it’s my blog and I’d like to prove just how clever Monty Python writing actually is. Clever, well-researched writing – what a concept…

1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Who goes there?
King Arthur: It is I, Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon, from the castle of Camelot. King of the Britons, defeater of the Saxons, Sovereign of all England!
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Pull the other one! [Maybe if he wasn’t riding a coconut it would be more convincing]
King Arthur: I am, and this is my trusty servant Patsy. [FYI, Patsy is both masculine and feminine , it comes from Martha (what?!) and Patrick, which means “nobleman.” Ironic, no?] We have ridden the length and breadth [Old English for width] of the land in search of knights who will join me in my court at Camelot. I must speak with your lord and master.
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: What? Ridden on a horse?
King Arthur: Yes!
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: You’re using coconuts!
King Arthur: What?
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: You’ve got two empty halves of coconut and you’re bangin’ ’em together.
King Arthur: So? We have ridden since the snows of winter covered this land, through the kingdom of Mercia, [Mercia was one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy, that was centered on the River Trent in the region now known as the English Midlands} through…
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Where’d you get the coconuts?
King Arthur: We found them.
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Found them? In Mercia? The coconut’s tropical!
King Arthur: What do you mean?
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Well, this is a temperate zone
King Arthur: The swallow may fly south with the sun or the house martin [A migratory passerine bird]  or the plover may seek warmer climes in winter, yet these are not strangers to our land?
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?
King Arthur: Not at all. They could be carried.
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: What? A swallow carrying a coconut?
King Arthur: It could grip it by the husk!
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: It’s not a question of where he grips it! It’s a simple question of weight ratios! A five ounce bird could not carry a one pound coconut.
King Arthur: Well, it doesn’t matter. Will you go and tell your master that Arthur from the Court of Camelot is here?
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Listen. In order to maintain air-speed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings forty-three times every second, right?
King Arthur: Please!
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Am I right? [Yes.]

Ah, the classic combination of silliness, science, and Arthurian literature. Heaven.


P.S. Don’t google “coconuts” or “swallows.” Bad things happen.