September 07, 2005

Life imitates Leacock

Over the past few days, I have been reading the first installment in my September reading project: Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, by the renowned Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock.

On Monday, this news photo was released, of Sean Penn's "rescue" effort in New Orleans:

[Sean Penn bails out his boat]

The situation is that Penn, wanting to do something to help people still stranded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, took a little boat (along with his photographer and an entourage, of course) into the city. Unfortunately, he forgot to plug a hole in the boat, and it started to sink, making it necessary to bail with a goofy plastic cup - and ultimately to row when the motor failed to start. Oops.

It so happens, coincidentally, that the same day I read this, I had just finished reading the third chapter of Sunshine Sketches, "The Marine Excursions of the Knights of Pythias." Basic story: Half the town of Mariposa, the setting of Leacock's stories, is on an excursion around the lake on an old steamship, which starts taking on water and sinking until it is grounded on the bottom of the shallow lake. Many of the town's residents mount a heroic rescue effort, but in inadequate and leaky vessels, making it necessary for the rescuers to be rescued by the stranded excursioners when they reach the steamship.

So reading of Penn's misfortune, of course I laughed and laughed and laughed. Good humour is never better appreciated than against a backdrop of reality - or, as Homer Simpson says, "It's funny 'cause it's true."