Skip to main content

Michael Palin Diaries 1969-1979, The Python Years

I've been a long time fan of legendary comedy team, Monty Python, having been introduced to them via their movies (as their famous TV Series was a bit before my time). Having seen all their movies from And Now For Something Completely Different to Monty Python's Meaning of Life a chance to go behind the scenes of these and other projects is one good reason to read Diaries 1969-1979, The Python Years by Michael Palin

However Michael's Diaries are more than just Monty Python and give great insight into the life and times of one of the world's most acclaimed, yet understated, comedy writers and performers. It also touches on many of the side projects that the various Python members worked on during the same period including Michael's Ripping Yarns TV series, John Cleese and Faulty Towers, Terry Gilliam's movies Jabberwocky, Brazil and Time Bandits, Eric Idle's movie The Ruttles and more.

Along the way Michael name drops some of the world's biggest celebrities who became friends including the late Beatle, George Harison, and the late Rolling Stone, Keith Moon.

There's also some insight into the behind the scenes workings of the iconic US, TV show Saturday Night Live which Michael was invited to host three times during this particular decade.

Something Python is known for is never crediting who wrote what on their various projects. Preferring to maintain that, regardless of individual contributions, the final project is the sum total of input from everyone. Michael's diaries break the silence in this regard crediting where the initial idea for many well known Python ideas began.

For example, even though these diaries only catch the very beginnings of Monty Pythons Meaning of Life, the World War II scene, where a unit of soldiers present their commanding officer with a clock was originally conceived by Terry Jones.

The diaries are a big read and, whilst Michael's writing style is easy and fluent, occasionally I found myself powering through entries about Michael's daily life in anticipation of more inside information about the two major movies of the period Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Monty Python's Life of Brian.

It's so rare that you get to discover how a movie was made right from the very germ of an idea that will eventually become the script. I found this aspect of the diaries fascinating - particularly with Life of Brian which began as a Life of Christ movie (and could've subjected the Pythons to far more controversy than they eventually got when Brian was released).

The contrast between writing Holy Grail and Brian was also interesting. Where Grail was written mostly on British soil, the team, with more money available, decided they needed to travel to the tropics to write Brian (oh to be able to travel anywhere just to provide the best writing environment).

For me I would've liked more behind the scenes description of key Python, creative meetings but that really isn't the kind of thing you get from a diary. Diaries are more about highlights and moments that stood out from the rest of the day. In Michael's diaries you get that in spades. Each entry is fairly short and covers that which most remained in Michael's thoughts when it came time to write the diary.

Also disappointing was, as you would expect, the diaries have no real ending. We get a taste of the early stages of Monty Python's Meaning of Life and Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits and then nothing. The diary just stops at the end of 1979. Presumably leaving the way open for Michael's diaries from 1980 onwards to be published in a future tome. I think I was hoping for some closing remarks from Michael. Perhaps a reflection on these first ten years. How his thoughts on Python's future then, compare with what actually transpired.

I hope Michael will publish future diaries. Not just to feed my interest in Python but because Michael's ambition to travel is already taking shape during the Python years. I'm sure his journey from Python to Travel documentary maker is every bit as interesting, all the while, his path has kept crossing with former Pythons on various projects.

For anyone who's a Michael Palin or a Monty Python fan this will be an interesting read. For those of you trying to make a career out of writing this may well be a burst of inspiration too.

Diaries 1969-1979, The Python Years by Michael Palin - Available from Amazon

Comments

  1. Thank you for giving me a review of a book in my possession which I have YET read!! Carl bought it for me I think last Christmas! Looks like your copy is the soft back, but mine is the hard back with dust cover, whch I think sold for nearly $50!

    Did you purchase that copy yourself, as I expect it was much cheaper in soft back? I shall be reading my copy when I finally get to it! I must give it priority over the dozens of other books waiting for me to read! I have enough to see me out of this world!

    I am in the stage of just having bought a set of four upright storage cubes in white laminate same as my bookcase to house all my spare books under the coffee table and the ones overflowing in the front of the bookcase! It's to go behind the door next to said bookcase!

    Just have to get onto Carl 'help' put it together, as it doesn't look as simple as I first thought! I already had to ask him to bring it home for me as the flat pack was too heavy. Got it in the sale at Crazy Clark's in Gozzy for $30. He said to ask if I needed any help with it, but he'll end up doing it - I'll just hand the 20-odd screws to him that come with it!

    Pleased to read what the book was like though. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. My copy was a birthday present (and yes it's the softback version). This isn't the kind of book I'd buy but it's the kind of book I'd like to have bought for me (lucky that). I guess you'd describe it as a 'luxury' book. Something you'd buy to spoil yourself.

    It seemed to take me forever to read this but it's still a good read. You'd probably like it for the fact that Michael's based in the U.K. and gives a few notes about other well known comedians like the Two Ronnies, Spike Milligan and others.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

* Thanks to constant spam comments by a Casino Marketing Moron who won't get the message that spam comments WILL be deleted ALL comments will be moderated and only cool, on topic comments will be approved.

Comments not directly related to the post will be deleted. This includes spammy generic comments with links to websites not related to the post.

Buy Gifts and Apparel featuring art by TET.

Popular posts from this blog

How to Transfer Any Line Art to Your Griptape - Easy Skateboard Griptape Art Tutorial

Dog Star Griptape Art by TET Griptape art is once again gaining popularity amongst modern skateboarders. For those of us who have tried to create our own griptape art, using paint pens, you'll know reproducing your design onto the grip, without making any mistakes is incredibly challenging. Mostly because you just have to go for it and draw the design freehand, with paint pens, directly onto the griptape. You can make the odd mistake here or there but if you get the proportions of the design completely wrong, it can be very difficult to fix. Often you just have to live with the mistake. To address the problem I've come up with an easy way anyone can transfer a line art design to their griptape, removing almost all the anxiety of getting the proportions wrong. In fact, you could do this with any line art design, even if you have no drawing skill at all. Watch the video below to see my technique in action and/or skip past the video where I highlight the basic steps to get your de

Skateboard Trick Tips: Two Ways to Ollie North (Ollie One foot)

You have to be quick to see my Ollie Norths! Ollie One Foots, otherwise known as the Ollie North, is one of those skateboard tricks you learn and then tend not to do very much as more interesting trick challenges grab your attention. However it does look really cool if you learn how to kick your front foot well past the nose of your skateboard. Still shot from Braille Skateboarding's Ollie North tutorial. I was inspired to make my video below, showing two different techniques to achieve a successful Ollie One Foot, when I not only saw that Braille Skateboarding's Tutorial used a different method to the one I had learned but also, when I looked at various other video tutorials, I discovered yet another technique, with no one using the method I had originally learned. Braille's method is to simply Ollie and drag your front foot past the front of your board. The second method I came across in several video tutorials is to Ollie, drag your front foot and tap your

Review: Beware the Batman - Animated TV Series

I first wrote about the 26 part TV series, Beware the Batman in my Animation and Video blog when the initial trailer was released back in June of 2013. At the time I was underwhelmed with the shows CGI and almost immaculate Gotham City streets. For some reason the show was only ever aired at odd times on late night TV here in Australia, which seems to have been it's fate for the second half of the series in the USA too. As a result I only ever caught two or three episodes before the show disappeared. Apparently being declared a financial failure by Cartoon Network .

A.I. Can Now Create Art Based Upon Text Prompts - DALL-E 2 and CrAIyon (Formerly DALL-E Mini)

"a painting of a fox sitting in a field at sunrise in the style of Claude Monet” Image by DALL-E 2, OpenAI.com One thing people have often said is that machines will never replace creative artists because they lack the imagination and emotion required to create anything meaningful. A.I. technology is now good enough to work as writing assistants, including sites like Jasper and Rytr , where you simply tell the A.I. what you want to write about and it'll produce a complete article on that subject. The article may not be perfect but it can sure save you a lot of time. DALL-E 2: Realistic images and art from a description in natural language. With the release of DALL-E 2 there is now an A.I. that can produce realistic (or artistically styled) images based entirely on text prompts in seconds. We're not just talking about collaging a few images together here either. DALL-E 2 can create images where everything looks fairly seamless and purposefully included. Rather than me try

Book Review: Skateboarding Made Simple Vol. 1 by Aaron Kyro

It's been almost a year since I last wrote about my not so successful attempts at getting back to something that resembles my peak skateboarding abilities of the mid 1990's. I can say I've improved a bit but my confidence level is still pretty low. However my confidence has started to improve since I purchased Skateboarding Made Simple Vol 1: Master the basics of Skateboarding by Aaron Kyro.

Checking in on Tesla's Optimus Robot - Managing Expectations

Last year Elon Musk announced at the first Tesla AI day the Tesla Bot, which has since been renamed the Tesla Optimus, that is basically a general purpose humanoid robot assistant with human like appearance and proportions. Elon expected they would have a working prototype by the end of 2022. While very little has been released about the project since, in June Elon took to Twitter to announce that they would delay this year's Tesla AI day until September 30 in anticipation of having a working prototype of the robot by that time. Elon Musk announces the Tesla Bot at the 2021 Tesla AI day. When I initially wrote about the Tesla Bot I noted that both Boston Dynamics and Disney Imagineering are developing robot technologies that demonstrate a streamlined, humanoid robot like Optimus is certainly possible. However with precious few details, and the occasional appearance of static, concept manikins of Tesla Optimus bots at places like the Cyber Rodeo Gigafactory Austin, Texas  (see vi

Pizza Monkey Lifeline Skateboard: Unboxing, Setting Up, and First Impressions - BoardPusher Square Nose Deck Review

TET with a brand new Pizza Monkey Lifeline Skateboard from BoardPusher. The day finally arrived where I could unbox my Pizza Monkey Lifeline, Square Nose, Skateboard deck from BoardPusher.  If you're new to TET.Life , this skateboard deck features my reworked #DesignALifeline Competition entry that I submitted to Revive Skateboards. While it didn't win their competition I still love the design, which makes even more sense as a Pizza Lifeline (we've all needed one of those at one time or another) than a Revive Lifeline. Pizza Monkey Lifeline , Square Nose, BoardPusher Skateboard Deck The Pizza Monkey Lifeline is currently available to buy in my etouristSkateboards BoardPusher store on several different board shapes including your standard popsicle, longboards, cruisers, and the all new square nose shape. In the video below you can watch me unbox and set up my new deck, going through the details of the various components and why I chose them. I also talk a little bit about