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November 11, 2004

In honor of Arafat's death

In honor of Arafat's death, and especially because we've spent the past week listening to arguments about whether or not he was dead, I'm going to quote all or part of three things it reminded me of. (Scroll down for James Joyce's Ulysses and Get Smart -- when was the last time you saw those mentioned in the same sentence?)

First, and possibly the most obvious, it's time for the dead parrot sketch from Monty Python:

A customer enters a pet shop.

Customer: 'Ello, I wish to register a complaint.

(The owner does not respond.)

Customer: 'Ello, Miss?

Owner: What do you mean "miss"?

Customer: I'm sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!

Owner: We're closin' for lunch.

Customer: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this parrot what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.

Owner: Oh yes, the, uh, the Norwegian Blue...What's,uh...What's wrong with it?

Customer: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's dead, that's what's wrong with it!

Owner: No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting.

Customer: Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.

Owner: No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

Customer: The plumage don't enter into it. It's stone dead.

Owner: Nononono, no, no! 'E's resting!

Customer: All right then, if he's restin', I'll wake him up! (shouting at the cage) 'Ello, Mister Polly Parrot! I've got a lovely fresh cuttle fish for you if you show...(owner hits the cage)

Owner: There, he moved!

Customer: No, he didn't, that was you hitting the cage!

Owner: I never!!

Customer: Yes, you did!
It goes on from there. One more excerpt:
Customer: look, mate, I've definitely 'ad enough of this. That parrot is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not 'alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein' tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.

Owner: Well, he's...he's, ah...probably pining for the fjords.

Customer: PININ' for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got 'im home?

Owner: The Norwegian Blue prefers kippin' on it's back! Remarkable bird, id'nit, squire? Lovely plumage!

Customer: Look, I took the liberty of examining that parrot when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there.
Second, for the more literary, here's some James Joyce. In the twelfth chapter of Ulysses, a few hours after Paddy Dignam's funeral, a fellow named Alf walks into the pub and is greeted:
--How's Willy Murray those times, Alf?

--I don't know, says Alf I saw him just now in Capel street with Paddy Dignam. Only I was running after that ....

--You what? says Joe, throwing down the letters. With who?

--With Dignam, says Alf.

--Is it Paddy? says Joe.

--Yes, says Alf. Why?

--Don't you know he's dead? says Joe.

--Paddy Dignam dead! says Alf.

--Ay, says Joe.

--Sure I'm after seeing him not five minutes ago, says Alf, as plain as a pikestaff.

--Who's dead? says Bob Doran.

--You saw his ghost then, says Joe, God between us and harm.

--What? says Alf. Good Christ, only five .... What? ... And Willy Murray with him, the two of them there near whatdoyoucallhim's .... What? Dignam dead?

--What about Dignam? says Bob Doran. Who's talking about ...?

--Dead! says Alf. He's no more dead than you are.

--Maybe so, says Joe. They took the liberty of burying him this morning anyhow.
Third, and last, one of my favorite scenes from Get Smart, a two-part episode called "Ship of Spies." Max and 99 are on a ship investigating the stolen plans for a nuclear amphibian submarine. In one of the cabins, they discover a body on the floor with a knife sticking out of its back.

Max: 99, look!

99: Max, whoever did this hit me and left the cabin just after we arrived. I heard a clip-clop go down the hallway.

Max: Do you think he's dead?

99: Yes. What do you think?

Max: Yes.

Body: No!

Max: Well, that's two for and one against.

99: He's alive!

Max: (turning body) Who are you?

Body: Inspector Sahokian, Armenian Branch, International Control.

Max: Who did this?

Inspector: Cannot give you his . . . how do you say?

Max: Name.

Inspector: Identity.

Max: We better get him a doctor.

Inspector: No time. Must talk before I . . . before I . . . how do you say?

Max: Die.

Inspector: Succumb. The man who did this . . . who . . . how do you say?

Max: Stabbed you.

Inspector: Attacked me. He . . . he . . . knew I had uncovered . . . how do you say?

Max: Information.

Inspector: Evidence.

99: But . . .

Inspector: Please. No buts. The plans, they are not plans. They are . . . (he collapses)

99: Max! He's . . .

Max: Dead.

Inspector: (turns head slightly) Deceased. (collapses again)