Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Picking back up that thread of Chitty Chitty and the Toymaker, I actually saw Benny Hill in person once. Around '90 or '91 I was in Florida for Spring Break with my pals Chuck and Tim, bumbling around Daytona. Plenty of wacky antics everywhere and that cursed C + C Music Factory song blaring out of van-sized speakers all over the beach. We saw an outdoor arena where something was being filmed and walked over to that, to find out it was the Hawaiian Tropic competion, a kind of Miss Universe event that doesn't bother with extraneous talents nor care how the contestants would better the world. The panel of judges was introduced, and one was the white-haired Hill-- in many ways, the most appropriate choice for a judge. Later I saw him walking around the patio of a hotel, and I wish I'd said hi. I could have told him how much the kids in my sixth grade classes enjoyed slapping each other on the heads as he always did to Little Jackie on his show. Hill died the next year.
Speaking of those beauty contests and the supermodels that come from them (except for the serious ones, who've already dropped out of school at 16)... someone always does the nice thing of asking what they'd have been if not a model, as if they ever had a whole option. It seems like the most common answer is always "Marine Biologist."
At that point I always wish the interviewer would ask "Really? Would your focus be on rehabilitating coral reefs? Or making strides in Kelp Farming? Plankton growth? Study Starfish regeneration?" But no, the issue is never pressed because you're not supposed to make beautiful people look bad, and everybody knows the answer would be "I want to play with Dolphins, like at Seaworld!" That's what they think marine biologists do, work in a really cool giant aquarium and swim with dolphins all day. Then head home to their cool condos, which will be on the intra-coastal waterway so they can jetski to and from work. Or if the jetski breaks down, they can check out a dolphin for the night and ride it home. That's what they think. Maybe this notion of marine biology was created by shows on Discovery Channel and of course, SeaWorld itself, and I admit I thought the same things as a child. Of course, I thought there'd be more danger involved, because I'd seen The Day of the Dolphin starring George C. Scott. So there's always danger that the government might swipe your dolphins and use them to put bombs on the bottom of boats, you gotta keep on top of that. Interesting fact: Buck Henry was the writer of that movie. I don't know how to tie all that together except to note that Buck and Benny both worked in comedy.