Drunken Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon

I hated having to go to work. I had a discussion about Richard Pryor with two of my co-workers. The air conditioning was on inside, and I walked out into a hot afternoon on my way back home. I looked for a movie to see after work. I decided on the documentary about National Lampoon magazine, called “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon.” I saw a lot of footage with John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and Gilda Radner that I had never seen before. I had also forgotten about the National Lampoon radio show. There was no stopping some of these people with talent and motivation. I guess I have to give someone like Chevy Chase more credit because it looked like what he was doing wasn’t easy. The high school yearbook parody was something that I remember from years ago. My brother somehow got a copy. I learned a few things I didn’t know before about John Hughes. I don’t think I knew before who Doug Kenney was. The task of keeping together a humor magazine for longer than two or three years must be a difficult task. It seemed that a big theme of the film was the cost of success. It resulted in change that some people didn’t want to see. Success for National Lampoon meant that people left the magazine. The turning point was the beginning of Saturday Night Live, which drained the National Lampoon of its talent. I thought of Charles Foster Kane luring the writers away from the rival newspaper. People like Chevy Chase, Judd Apatow, Tim Matheson, Kevin Bacon, and Beverly D’Angelo were interviewed for the film. Apatow talked about discovering the magazine in his youth and seeing a sense of humor that matched his. Chevy Chase seemed more like a real human being than he’s been for a long time. There are definite limitations to making a documentary about a magazine. You just can’t recreate the experience of reading it month after month. It’s a shame that two key people, Doug Kenney and John Hughes, couldn’t be in the film. The changes with the magazine made me think of Rolling Stone magazine’s move from San Francisco to New York. Some of this movie deals with the making of “Animal House.” The concept was too wild to be set in high school, so it was changed to college. The huge success of the movie led to more people leaving the magazine. They were getting big offers to come to Hollywood just because they were associated with the magazine. I guess the high school movie that the public would get would actually be “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” four years later. While the 1980s was going on, I didn’t notice what was happening to National Lampoon magazine. In 1986, they stopped publishing it monthly. I read that 1974 was their peak year, and their best-selling issue was the October 1974 “Pubescence” issue. The last issue was November 1998. The National Lampoon Radio Hour ran from November 17, 1973 to December 28, 1974. A lot of people think of “Caddyshack” as a comedy classic, but it fell short of “Animal House” at the box office, sending Kenney into a depression. A fake Volkswagen ad featuring Ted Kennedy caused trouble for the magazine. The film came to a sad end. Is there a documentary about Mad magazine out there? I still see the magazine in my neighborhood library, but I never read it. Its golden age was long ago, along with Rolling Stone and National Lampoon. The soundtrack has some good songs on it, like David Bowie’s “The Jean Genie” and “Changes,” and The Raspberries’ “Go All the Way.” This movie didn’t change my life, but I was glad that I saw it. I laughed out loud a few times. I learned some things I didn’t know before, which altered my perception of my past, at least a little bit. I’m hesitant to see “Pan” or “Hotel Transylvania 2.” Before the movie, we did see a trailer for “All Things Must Pass,” a documentary about Tower Records. They went from a billion dollars in sales in 1999 to bankruptcy in 2006. It’s hard to think that a documentary about a record store could be very good, but perhaps I’ll give it a try. I walked over to Dollar Tree to buy drinking water and frozen lemonade. I went to Bongo Burger for a hamburger. I watched the third episode of The Partridge Family, which was originally aired 45 years ago. John Lennon could have been watching it on his 30th birthday. It looked like Laurie was eating a hot dog in one shot. The episode had Ray Bolger as Shirley’s father. I also saw episode 51, which had the family driving to Sacramento and encountering Edgar Buchanan. It looked like Laurie ate a cookie in this one, or at least took a bite out of a cookie. Since it was John Lennon’s 75th birthday, I took some CDs off my shelves and listened to them. I had to listen to “In My Life,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Across the Universe,” and “Imagine.” I watched the sports highlights for the baseball results. The Blue Jays got themselves into big trouble by losing their second game at home. I was not surprised that the Cardinals and the Royals won their games. Could we be seeing a rematch of the 1985 World Series? I wasn’t completely shocked that the Mets managed to beat the Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw pitching. I saw James Corden as a guest on the Stephen Colbert show. A Columbo episode called “Troubled Waters” came on at 12:30, and I watched some of it. Robert Vaughn wore gloves. Patrick Macnee was in it, and so was Dean Stockwell. An Avengers episode called “The Girl from Auntie” was on at the same time. Before I went to sleep, I watched the NUMB3RS episode “Scan Man,” which was originally aired on Halloween night of 2008. I kept thinking that it was a shame that Megan had left the show. The Scan Man was reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman in “Rain Man.” He was able to do the thing with instantly counting paper clips. I am afraid that my apartment is getting to look like his. Emerson the Scan Man was using a parcel service to store all his stuff. He needed seven crackers with cheese and olives. He didn’t like keys. I thought about what my students must be thinking of me. At least a few of them must have something positive to say about me. “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” was on one channel. I wondered where the opening scenes were filmed. I don’t remember ever seeing it before. Ricardo Montalban was in the cast. I was glad that I didn’t stay up to watch it. Some of the people who died on October 10 include Ralph Richardson (1983), Orson Welles (1985), Yul Brynner (1995), Teresa Graves (2002), Christopher Reeve (2004), Solomon Burke (2010), and Joan Sutherland (2010). Today is a birthday for Tanya Tucker (57), David Lee Roth (60), and Ben Vereen (69). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for October 10, the Supremes made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1965. In 1977, Steve Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith were injured in Philadelphia when a fan threw an M-80 onstage. In 1979, the Bette Midler film “The Rose” had its premiere in Los Angeles. In 1980, “Private Benjamin,” starring Goldie Hawn, was released.

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