Monday, June 30, 2008

The Trip and Fall Club?

I was at dinner tonight at Town Hall and the topic of the trip-and-fall came up. Les, the owner of the Cafe Royale (a really nice little bar on Post & Leavenworth) relayed a story about a sort of unofficial club that existed in the 60's -- the trip and fall club. Apparently, as a member, whenever you saw someone fall down in a public setting, it became incumbent upon you to fall as well -- of course it was unclear whether the original faller was a member, or simply a balance-challenge member of the public.

I love this idea. It reminds me of Improv Everywhere, except without the clique-ish formality -- the only requirement of membership is a lack of embarrasment. Note that a quick google search reveals nothing whatsoever about the truthiness of the story.

So I tried to re-start the trip-and-fall club by myself, in the semi-fancy restaurant. I may have ruined a very nice pair of slacks, but I did get a big laugh from a cute girl on my second fall.

Monday, August 07, 2006

This American Life

There's an awesome line in this episode of This American Life about someone splatting into a dresser. It's also great to hear Ira Glass seriously crack up.

This American Life: Fiasco!"

Ladies and Gentlemen

Mr. Matthew Sewell mysteriously recalls his childhood:

(11:55:19) BenDistasteful: oh also
(11:55:21) BenDistasteful:
(11:55:33) BenDistasteful: I started a blog devoted to my love of people falling down
(11:57:06) Matthew Sewell: wow.
(11:57:16) Matthew Sewell: I don't know what to say about that.
(11:58:21) BenDistasteful: I need to post up the kurt vonnegut excerpt where he talks about people falling
(11:58:24) BenDistasteful: i think it's in timequake
(11:58:31) BenDistasteful: some of the best falling literature ever
(11:58:37) Matthew Sewell: lol
(11:58:57) Matthew Sewell: is this a fetish thing, or merely an interest?
(11:59:01) BenDistasteful: well
(11:59:06) BenDistasteful: hard to say
(11:59:14) BenDistasteful: at one point it was merely an interest
(11:59:21) BenDistasteful: it may be turning into a minor obsession
(11:59:32) BenDistasteful: but I'm still a few steps shy of fetish
(11:59:35) BenDistasteful: got any stories?
(11:59:45) Matthew Sewell: yeah...
(12:00:23) Matthew Sewell: when my sister was about 2 years old, she was jumping repeatedly off the dresser and onto the bed...
(12:00:36) Matthew Sewell: we told her not to do this because she could get hurt.
(12:00:46) Matthew Sewell: ...eventually...
(12:01:23) Matthew Sewell: she missed the bed and landed squarely in the pocket between the bed and the wall...
(12:02:00) Matthew Sewell: what was funny about this was that for a brief moment...she seemed to have disappeared into some other dimension...
(12:02:33) Matthew Sewell: as she didn't impact either the bed or the wall but cleared both by...
(12:02:44) Matthew Sewell: about a cm.
(12:02:56) BenDistasteful: what did it sound like?
(12:03:16) Matthew Sewell: took her a few seconds to react by crying...delayed reaction.
(12:03:31) Matthew Sewell: it was just a thump....then nothing for like 5 sec.
(12:03:35) BenDistasteful: lol
(12:05:19) BenDistasteful: ok, anything else to add before I post it?
(12:05:52) Matthew Sewell: Maybe just that there was no real lasting her brain still works pretty well.
(12:08:24) Matthew Sewell: Now she's a mathematician at lawrence livermore.

Thoughts on submissions

I begged someone to let me photograph the bruise she incurred while at a bachelorette party. I think I must have sounded rather skeevy, and she was rather demure about the whole thing.

Out drinking that night, I spoke to three people who had recently tripped and fallen in ways that could have made for interesting posts. There was the frat-boy-looking guy who crushed his ankle playing basketball. The incredibly odd cab driver to claimed to have broken his ankle in Paris, only then to feel objectified by being used as a, er, sex object by the woman he was visiting.

These stories are nice, but I can't find the hook in any of them, even if the bruise was probably the most impressive thing I've seen all year.

The problem is that the moment of the fall, for the person falling, becomes tangled, confused; nothing makes sense. The humor is lost in the happening - the first twinge of impending fall, the uncertainty and confusion, the final acceptance that the fall is coming - better get ready. There's just too much stuff to process and do while falling to truly get a good grasp of what can make the trip-and-fall bit so thrilling to an onlooker.

So send stories of other people tripping and falling! Someone once said: "Man must dance on his sorrow, and create beauty" And it's like that, except well, you're dancing on someone else's.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

It's not nice.

I've tripped and fallen in numerous ways, but it's never as gloriously comical when it happens to you. Also, I tend to hurt myself a lot. So I'll tell the funniest story of falling I've ever seen.

I was visiting John Wells in North Carolina. John is a fantastic musician, like an idiot-savant of the guitar, except he's not really an idiot. He had recently moved to Asheville to start a family, and since there's not really much to do in the town, hip as it is, we were somewhere outside of Asheville at a community music festival.

The bands were finishing, they were bad and bluesy. The stage was on a school soccer field, large, grassy. The beer was gone. Cigarettes were being smoked. The scene is set.

Enter a small girl, no older that 8. She is wearing a white flower print cotton dress, sandals, pretty blonde hair. She is holding a leash that is connected to a very large black labradour, nearly her height. They are playing. The leash is of the extend-o variety, essentially a hand-held clothesline that retracts automatically, and extends out to fifty feet or so to give the dog decent rein while letting the owner control just how long they want the leash to be.

The dog and the girl were both running at top speed. My memory gets fuzzy as to what the dog was after. Or, for that matter, what the girl was after. What did happen was that at some point in time their paths diverged. The girl did not notice, and the girl and the dog were now running in opposite directions across the field. The leash reaches forty feet.

Time slows. This is a common thread in stories about people falling down, and normally time will slow for the airborne victim, but in this case perhaps it slowed for the watchers, too. It becomes an arc, an orbit. The leash will run out soon enough, we all know this, but let's just sit and savor this moment, this sunny day on a grassy field with friends.

The leash runs out.

The girl is suddenly airborne, taken completely by surprise as the full force of a hundred pound of dog yanks her arms. Her feet come fully out from under herself, and she is horizontal, facing downward in a superman-like position. She thumps satisfyingly face-first into the ground, having let go of the leash sometime mid-air.

She does not seem to be hurt. John has taken to loud, obvious guffawing. I am stifling my laughter, attempting politeness in the face of one of the best things I've ever seen. She looks up from the ground, and says in what sounded like a british accent (but could have been just a proper little girl voice):

"It's not nice to laugh at people when they fall."

John, and I, and hopefully you, gentle reader, must disagree.