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  The Chatter Box : The Series
A couple of fans across the pond. by Wendago on 6 May 2003 5:38pm
When Dean Riesner was 4 years old he slapped “Uncle Charlie” a number of times in the silent film, “The Pilgrim”. Years later he’d become a writer by penning “The Fighting 69th”, “Dirty Harry” and “High Plains Drifter”, among others. Born in 1918, I didn’t meet the old fart until ’96. We became close friends, well as close as two curmudgeons separated by a 50-year gulf can be – and overlooking the fact that he kept hitting on my wife.

It became something of a tradition for Dean to spend Christmas morning with us. A big country breakfast and presents under the tree. For Christmas of 2001 he gave me tattered copies of “80 Days”, “Pole to Pole” and “Full Circle” as well as perhaps the ugliest sweater ever knitted. I was too embarrassed to wear the sweater and too stupid to read the books. Later that summer he made a passing comment that if he had it all to do over again he’d have traveled more, then he mentioned the books. I, of course, pretended I had read them. He said that was good because his eyes being what they were he could no longer read the small print.

So I crawled home feeling deservedly scummy and broke the pages of “80 Days”. I was hooked immediately. Shortly after I started work on his 2002 Christmas present – the books transcribed into a 36-font format (I’m aware I was breaking certain copyright laws but I found the danger exhilarating).

A month or so later on the morning of August 18th Dean Riesner passed away in his sleep at the age of 83. He was found sprawled across his bed with a peaceful look and wearing nothing but a pair of leopard print briefs -- which tells you the old guy knew a thing or two about sexy. He was a wonderful friend and mentor. And having just completed my journey through the Sahara I regret never thanking Dean for introducing me to the world of Palin’s travels.

So to Michael Palin and all those who have helped to make his many journeys possible, thank you.


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