Teaser Tuesday: Monty Python’s Flying Circus Complete and Annotated – All the Bits

Wow. It’s been a looong time since I posted about what I’m reading. I blame reading student reports and exams 😂 Continue reading “Teaser Tuesday: Monty Python’s Flying Circus Complete and Annotated – All the Bits”

Saturday Morning Coffee

The calendar might say its fall, but fall is rapidly changing to winter. Come inside and have a seat. The coffee’s just about done. Continue reading “Saturday Morning Coffee”

Twenty Questions on my Thirtieth Birthday

Yesterday was December 21, the shortest day of the year.

Today is December 22, and the days lengthen.

The ancients called this day Sol Invictus, or “The Unconquered Sun”.

Also on this day, I was born.

Birthday Time 2015

Every year since I moved from Pennsylvania, Mom calls me at 7:15 in the morning on my birthday because that’s when I was born.

This year was no exception, and it was wonderful.

I was going to make a pun about being the Unconquered Son, but some might view that as borderline heresy/blasphemy.

However, I’m ready for those people. Thanks to Monty Python, I always expect the Spanish Inquisition.

Monty Python Spanish Inquisition Quote

Anyway, now that my mother is officially “old” according to her, I thought I’d do a little self-examination and answer twenty questions about myself.

1. What are some nicknames you’ve acquired over the years?

JP, James, General, PJ

Please note that my listing of these names should not be construed as a blanket invitation to use these names.

Never, ever, under any circumstances should the names “JP” or “PJ” be used.

I will rise from the dead and haunt you, exacting my revenge until the end of your days. And then I’ll continue my persecution in the afterlife.

Just don’t do it.

Only one person in the world may call me “James”; I’ll simply correct the rest of you.

Anyone and everyone may call me “General” but I’ll probably question why you’re calling me that as the nickname was given by a certain group of friends in college.

2. What are you favorite colors?

My favorite colors are black and green.

For those who say black is not a color, we should talk sometime.

3. Do you have a favorite bird and/or animal?

I like the pre-feathered velociraptors, wolves (but not as much as when I was in high school), and cats – yes, Smokey has converted me from a dog person to a cat person.

4. Is there a creature that intrigues you, but also freaks you out a little?

Spiders, and let’s leave it at that.

5. How old do you really feel?

I’ve often been told I’m an old man trapped in a young man’s body, so I can honestly say my age is growing into my attitude (or something like that).

Mr Tom and I think alike on many things, and he’s 97.

My father-in-law and I also enjoy many of the same things, and he’s in his mid-50s.

Have I answered the question? I really can’t tell.

6. Do you have a song you struggle to admit you love?

No, I’m very honest about the music I love, hate, or love to hate.

7. Are there any film(s) you’ve seen more than 10 times?

The Godfather Trilogy

They’re all good; I don’t care about public opinion regarding Part III.

Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park: The Lost World, and Jurassic Park III

Again, I like them all.

A Christmas Story

The Hogfather

I’m certain there’s more, but I feel these are probably the important ones.

8. Is there a planet and/or star system you feel resonates with you?

Pluto and Betelgeuse

9. Is there a food and/or beverage you just can’t stand?

shrimp, Brussels sprouts, iced coffee (coffee over ice; I like other cold, coffee-based drinks just fine)

10. What personal trait(s) you can only apologize for?

My inability to read social cues.

11. Personal traits you will never apologize for?

I feel this question is best answered with a picture:

Birthday Shirt 2015

I received this shirt as a birthday present from a friend who also shares a December 22nd birthday.

We know the struggle, and the struggle is real.

12. Say you were in a position of power; what one thing would you remove from society?

What position of power are we talking about, exactly?

I’ll assume President of the United States (since that’s (a) the country in which I live and (b) the position that would allow me to affect societal change in some way).

Oh, I can only remove one thing?

That’s tough . . . how about . . .

ignorant voting.

Good thing you didn’t ask me how.

13. Now, what one thing would you add to society?

Fully-funded libraries

14. Country you’d like to visit before you kick the bucket?

Deutschland (aka Germany)

15. What one thing would you like to learn to do even if you think it’s impossible?

Draw; right now, my stick figures have advanced-stage leprosy.

16. What word(s) do you say far too often?

As a teacher, I find myself saying “focus” all too often.

Outside the classroom, I probably say “Well, actually” far too much.

17. Is there a sound you really like?

Coffee brewing

18. What number(s) do you feel connected to?


19. What super-power would you like to have?

I’d like to be able to read minds when I choose to.

None of this “read everyone’s mind all the time so the world never shuts up and I go crazy from all the inaudible noise” mess. I want to be able to turn it on/off, too.

This would solve that “social cues” problem I mentioned earlier.

20. Name one book/text you would recommend to your peers:

I’m going to name two, because it’s my birthday.

Dante’s Divine Comedy

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


Something else you want me to answer or know more about?

Let me know in the comments!


Have a suggestion for a poem, photograph, or future post?

Drop a note in the prompt box!

Don’t forget to follow me on:

Facebook – where I share news stories, articles from other blogs, and various and sundry miscellany that happens to catch my eye. It’s stuff you won’t see here! Well, mostly.

Instagram – where I show you my Life in Motion and share quotes and such. The widget only shows my last three photographs – don’t you want to see them all?

Twitter – where you can see my thoughts in 140 characters or less. Also, funny retweets.

Renovation: Grail Edition

Fame came too quickly. I had only been semi-seriously blogging for two months when I got the email:

Hiya Jay,

Dust off the welcome mat and get ready to welcome some new readers — we’ve picked your post ( https://runninginmyhead.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/16-life-lessons-from-monty-python-and-the-holy-grail/ ) to feature on Freshly Pressed on WordPress.com!

We found your post very funny – it had a nice, well paced buildup of detail which can be appreciated by Monty Python fans and non-fans alike. We thought it was a great read and think the rest of the community will agree — we’re really looking forward to the discussion that comes out of it, and are glad we can give it (and you) some more exposure.

–          Ben Huberman

Indeed, I received a lot of exposure, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I had followers and readers, even a few I actually connected with, but I had nothing to say. My featured post was a listicle like those found on Cracked or Buzzfeed (two of my guilty pleasures), but it wasn’t really me.

You see, I hadn’t found my voice. In fact, I’m still finding it. Looking back, my post might be funny, but it’s not mine. Not really. It’s time that changed.

So I edited and included more pictures. I used my voice. I claimed it as my own.

Go and tell your master that we have been charged by God with a sacred quest. If he will give us food and shelter for the night, he can join us in our quest for the Holy Grail.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
To Camelot!


Please note that this post is several pages in length. Scroll past the media buttons and keep reading!

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16 Life Lessons from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
To Camelot!

Friday’s inclement weather put a damper on my running plans. Normally I enjoy running in the rain, but when thunder and lightning are involved – or when the Weather Channel warns of high winds with the possibility of hail and tornadoes – I stay inside. My all-time favorite rainy day movie is Monty Python and the Holy Grail. On today’s run, I pondered the life lessons contained in that classic work of comedic gold.

16. Approach unfamiliar animals with caution.

I worked in an animal shelter for six years; I know the benefits of warning people about strange dogs and cats. Trust me, rabies shots hurt less as a preventative than as a cure. However, many of us fail to impart the dangers of biting moose and rabbits with vicious streaks a mile wide. But mommy, they look so cuddly…

15. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

We all know what they say about assume, so let’s not judge people (and things) quickly. We may miss out on some surprising experiences. After all, llamas prove excellent producers/directors, a hamster and a man smelling of elderberries produced King Arthur, and Tim – a man severely hindered by his name – achieved greatness as an enchanter.  So go out and try something new, like iced coffee mixed with Dr. Pepper.

14. Choose your occupation wisely.

As an educator, I often challenge my students to meet their full potential. Parents want their children to succeed. The American government emphasizes good grades and “My Citizens are Honor Students” bumper stickers. Whatever the case, society measures success by our jobs.  If you value safety and boredom (but not job security), then write subtitles. After all, English majors have to do something. On the other hand, historians live in constant peril. Not something you’d normally associate with dusty books and lecture halls, but that’s life for you.

13. Make do with what you have.

During the Great Depression there was a saying: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” We see the same attitude today; if you don’t believe me, just check out Pinterest. Without Monty Python and the Holy Grail, we might never know coconuts are an acceptable substitute for horses, that some people use the plague as an excuse to get rid of unwanted relatives, and that the French use body odor as a defensive weapon. And all this time we thought they were just unhygienic . . .

12. Government doesn’t always make sense.

Historically, leaders gain power through one of three ways: they’re born to the right family, they take power by force, or they’re elected. Once they have power, leaders spend most of their time trying to keep it. Leaders can either distract their subjects by declaring wars on other countries or by causing their subject to fight amongst themselves over trivial things like speed limits and healthcare. Wherever you happen to fall on the political spectrum, I think we can agree that “strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.”

But it might be better than the Electoral College...
But it might be better than the Electoral College…

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