So I asked my followers on Twitter for some subjects to write about, knowing full well that left to my own devices, I’ll likely just yammer on about railway stations, Transformers or Red Dwarf.
Some of the replies that interest me… First, local absolutely-not-a-cult-member-honest-guv, Dani…
And Mike’s excellent suggestion, cos I like crisps…
Excellently named John Hoare chipped in with…
Si Bromley further elaborated on the above Tweet with the following…
It all get a bit more video-gamey with Dan…
Liam Shalloo exposed his fanboyisms with…
And then a Python-esque entry from Geoff…
So, what to do, what to do…
Python of course had already brought up the fact that African swallows are non migratory in the original dialogue from Monthy Python And The Holy Grail…
Guard: Where’d you get the coconuts?
King Arthur: We found them.
Guard: Found them? In Mercia?! The coconut’s tropical!
King King Arthur: I’m not not interested!
[A second guard approaches the parapet]
Guard 2: It could be carried by an African swallow!
Guard 1: Oh yeah. An African swallow, maybe — but not a European swallow, that’s my point.
Guard 2: Oh yeah, I agree with that.
King Arthur: [exasperated] Will you ask your master if he wants to join my court at Camelot?!
Guard 1: But, of course, African swallows are non-migratory.
Guard 2: Oh, yeah.
[Arthur begins to depart]
Guard 1: …So they couldn’t bring a coconut back anyway.
That neatly put paid to anything else interesting I could write about African swallows, although I was amazed (well, intrigued) to find out that British swallows do migrate to South Africa – although I still doubt any swallow would have the endurance to carry a coconut to Britain no matter where it flies from. Also, it appears that the African swallow features the greatest diversity among the different types of swallow, and I also liked the fact that swallows are seen as a good omen by sailors, as they are land-based birds and sightings usually mean that the shore is near. I did start to wonder if there was any sort of swallow-based cult (he says, fully acknowledging that THAT will be a tricky one to run a Google search on), but I don’t think there is one.
I don’t intend to start one either.
Miriam-Webster partly defines a cult as
a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book) criticising how the media promotes the cult of celebrity; especially: such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad
b: the object of such devotion
c: a usually small group of people characterised by such devotion ‘the singer’s cult of fans’ or ‘The film has a cult following’.
I wasn’t feeling particularly inclined to write about the negative connotations about cults, but that did get me wondering about “the cult of sit-com”. According to Wikipedia (I know, I know…) the ratings for Ellen DeGeneres first starring sit-com, Ellen, started out at around 21 million viewers before tailing off to around 12 million viewers. Even at that lower ebb in 1998, the ratings are still four times higher than Ellen’s modern day talk show – which sort of disqualifies her sitcom as being a cult hit. I was surprised to find that the first season of the show was originally titled These Friends Of Mine, but this was changed to avoid confusion with Friends. In fact, it seems that a lot of the cast changes and re-tool of the show after the first season was to further remove similarities to Friends (and possible Seinfeld). I found an excellent little piece about this here: http://ijparnham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/ellen-these-friends-of-mine.html
Finding and reading that little article was almost as satisfying as that first cheesy fragrance you inhale upon ripping open a fresh, foil packet of Quavers – a feeling not unlike the fascination that consumed me upon finding out that the popular (and-certainly-NOT-just-a-cult-smash) video-game franchise Assassin’s Creed was spun-off from the old Prince of Persia games!
I remember playing the first Prince of Persia game in my youth, and marvelling at the pace and animation in the game. As that franchise developed onto the next generation of games consoles, a sequel to Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was planned for the XBox 360 – centering the action instead on an assassin instead of a prince, the title was slowly reworked, piecing mythology together from the Knights Templar and other bits of history until it became an all new property – Assassin’s Creed. The Assassin’s series was critically acclaimed, and spanned several consoles, going on to become one of the highest selling video-game franchises of all time. There is of course an Assassin’s Creed film in existence starring Michael Fassbender – and weirdly, a Prince of Persia film too, starring Jake Gyllenhal.
I was immensely disappointed to find out that Creed was a movie spin-off of the Rocky franchise, and not an Assassin’s Creed film. Maybe they’ll do a crossover. Or not. But speaking of crossovers… Boxing is, of course, closely related to wrestling. Wrestling in some form has been around for thousands of years, but during the early 20th century it found prominence in country fairs in the United States. It has been an Olympic event since 1904, and the first organised championships were arranged in New York in the late 1880’s. The travelling circuses of North America were, at the same time, undergoing a revolution. Headed by the infamous P.T.Barnum, the circus lifestyle and variety of performance acts underwent a resurgence in popularity, and it was no surprise that wrestling acts would perform as part of that movement. Barnum’s pioneering approach of appealing to an audience’s more macabre and curious side was evident with his creation of the worlds first ‘freak show’, featuring more outlandish acts that audiences had at that time not been used to witnessing. The world of wrestling would of course adopt a lot of the bombast of the early circuses and freak shows, with the wrestling shows themselves out-performing circuses hugely by the end of the 20th century. Which neatly segues us onto the final topic, courtesy of Emily…
… god damn it.