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The Parting Glass


Guest finnie12, moira

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Guest finnie12, moira

The world becomes a more pallid, and sober, place with the news of the death of actor Richard Harris on Friday. The obituary writers may tsk, tsk over the lack of discipline and supposed unrealized brilliance, but the energies devoted to "the good life" may also have helped to make legends out of such accomplished carousers as Harris, John Barrymore, Errol Flynn and others. Most of today's crop of thespians may seem bland by comparison, even if they do live longer, less gaudy, and more ordered, successful, (whatever that is), professional and personal lives. Few people would want to live with such a character, but if you were given the opportunity, are there any legendary revelers of the silver screen and stage whose company you would enjoy for an evening in a tavern of your choice? Here's a chance to let your imagination out to play, without risking a hangover in the morning or a blot on your reputation...

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Guest Cat, Maggie the

Feh! Puritans! Y'know, there was a while there, in the mid-'80s, when it seemed like everyahemlarge-livin' Brit actor dropped dead as soon as he quit drinking, as though they'd drunk so much for so long their bodies needed it. I was terribly worried to hear that Peter O'Toole was cleaning up his act, but he seems to have survived it OK, thank goodness. It's funny: I've read two analyses of Buster Keaton's career, one by a Mitford sister in her book, To Wit, all about the genius of his comedy, and one by Alice Miller, author of The Gifted Child, about how his comedy was all based in hs past as an abused child. Specifically, they both refer to an early Vaudeville routine he did with his parents, with him as a mop, his parents picking him up by his ankles and using his thick hair as the mophead. Mitford calls it high hilarity; Miller calls it abuse. While I think the lifting of taboos on substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental illness is a positive move for society, it can get carried away to the point of pathologizing The Human Condition. The idea that Barrymore or Burton would have been more brilliant if they'd been broccoli-eating teetolalers is absurd. Whatever pain and insecurity they were self-medicating, whatever ferocious energies of the heart they were harboring were played out for all to see, for us all to borrow from in our own little acts of bravado. I'd be proud to raise a glass with all the aforementioned gentlemen, as well as Oliver Reed and the whole Rat Packa whole different brand of souse. (Y'know, they say Dean Martin was never as thought as you drunk he was.) Everything in moderationincluding moderation.

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Guest son, jery

gimme another drink, Johnny boy. That's John Barrymore. He became a nasty drunk, I hear, in his very last years. But until then, he was rumored to be magic. If you watch "Grand Hotel," and especially, "Dinner at Eight," though, you can see the beginning of the end. His face looks pasty and swollen, despite all the make-up and careful lighting. But--I'd give anything to have had the Barrymore's incredible patriarch--Maurice Barrymore--as my drinking buddy. This is a guy so ravishing and magical--I'm going by his photographs--that it's no wonder the guys and the gals were crazy about him at the turn of the century.

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