Friday, December 08, 2006

Feast of Saint Woody

It is a season of holiness, my Comedist brothers and sisters. Not only did we just see the birthday of Steven Wright (wrighteously celebrated by good brother Phil at Philosophical Bits), but we have also just seen the passing of the anniversary of the birth of his holiness, Woody Allen.

I was in high school, when the Charles theater in Baltimore had a Saturday night Woody Allen triple feature. A temptation one dare not waste, I invited a young woman to the showing, a beautiful, tall, blonde shiksa upon whom I had the sort of soul-rendering crush reserved for only those who would have no clue what to do if the object of their affection returned the gaze. She said "yes," but would have to meet me at the theater. We agreed on a time and I nervously drove down the winding roads of Mount Washington, through Roland Park, around Hopkins, and down Saint Paul.

There are three types of waiting. There is anticipatory waiting where you are hyper-alert to all faces and motion within one's range of vision. You worry about the sweat you feel welling beneath your arms as you scan every direction thinking that the split second you checked to your right, she may have been approaching from left. Then there is contingent waiting where you are not sure that the act of waiting itself is sufficient to guarantee that it is merely a matter of time until you are rewarded. You wait, just in case, concerned, thinking about the multi-faceted nature of reality and how many things could have happened while you've been waiting, knowing that it is impossible to know which -- if any -- are the real reason you are still waiting. Then there is the sort of waiting reserved for the guy at the top of the mountain who can only put his rock down on top of the boulder that Sisyphus is trying to rest at the top of the hill. You wait against hope, your only power residing in your ability to refuse to resign yourself to reason.

And so there I was, a geeky little Jewish kid with glasses sitting in the back row accompanied only by my raisinets. I watched Manhattan, Annie Hall, and Stardust Memories. It was, perhaps, my first religious experience.

I close with the line most befitting a Comedist sermon comes from Stardust Memories,

Sandy Bates: But shouldn't I stop making movies and do something that counts, like-like helping blind people or becoming a missionary or something?

Martian: Let me tell you, you're not the missionary type. You'd never last. And-and
incidentally, you're also not Superman; you're a comedian. You want to do mankind a real service? Tell funnier jokes.

What are your favorite Woody Allen lines? Some of mine:

"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work, I want to achieve it through not dying.

"The last time I was inside of a woman was when I visited the Statue of Liberty."

"To you I'm an atheist; to God, I'm the Loyal Opposition."

"I'd call him a sadistic, hippophilic necrophile, but that would be beating a dead horse."

"So now you're picking on my hobbies."

"Nietzsche says that we will live the same life, over and over again. God - I'll have to sit through the Ice Capades again."

Happy birthday, Woody Allen.