19May '11

Hugh Laurie, Buckaroo Banzai and the Art of Being Awesome


Right now, I’m listening to Hugh Laurie‘s  surprising blues album, “Let them Talk” and apart from enjoying it like a half-empty bottle of my favourite single malt, it’s making me think of Buckaroo Banzai.

Huh? Do wot? Buckaroo Banzai is one of those “so terrible it’s great” films from the eighties… about a race-car-driving particle physicist gunslinger who happens to be a rock star.  And a brain surgeon.

It’s utterly ridiculous and hasn’t aged well at all.  With dialogue like, “Buckaroo, the White House wants to know if everything is OK with the alien space craft from Planet 10, or should we just go ahead and destroy Russia?“, it was crazy when I was nine and it’s even worse now that I’m thirty-five (thirty-six next month, natch).


But it’s the impact that this film had on me when I was nine that matters, because here’s what it taught me: you can do anything.  It said, “don’t let the world put you in just one box.”  It said, “You like flower-arranging and skydiving? Fine!”  It taught me, “You don’t have to be just an X, Y or Z – you can be all three!”  I learned, “You can be utterly awesome!”


Buckaroo with his entourage – each one a multidisciplinary paragon of awesomeness in their own right


Buckaroo Banzai was a hero, and a fictional one at that; his awesomeness is just words in a script (though some of those were pretty great, as these quotes show).  And I know it’s unrealistic to reach the highest level in as many fields as he did – isn’t it? How about Brian May, PhD – the Queen of Astrophysics  ? How about Tony Robinson, the Baldrick who makes archaeology cool ?  Or any of these amazing Polymaths  ?

Hugh Laurie’s a great actor who represented Great Britain in a world rowing championship, dated Emma Thompson , is an OBE and now has a truly outstanding blues album.


   “Sometimes you need to believe you’re ‘Einstein, James Bond and Batman, all rolled into one’ .”

Take this with a pinch of salt – it’s a self-affirmation from a man who oscillates between awesomeness and uselessness – but it’s true, from a certain point of view.  When you’ve spent as long as I have believing the Bad Things about yourself… sometimes you need to believe you’re “Einstein, James Bond and Batman all rolled into one”… so:

Matt Saunders is a harmonica-playing world-class sysadmin and poet, who knows Latin, Greek and French; a theologian rugby hero awesome Dad of four, who married his first love, and knew he would the day he saw her;  an unforgotten teacher, conference speaker; a genuine Geek-of-all-Trades who learns calculus for fun and eats programming languages for breakfast; who stayed at his post in a hopeless church planting situation for six years; a man who’s beating obesity, battling inferiority, holding out for destiny.

I’m awesome, and so are you – and the Best is Yet to Come.



One comment

  1. My favorite quote from the bunch is: “Nothing is ever what it seems but everything is exactly what it is.” – B. Banzai
    How true it is. Another way to say this is, “Reality Check!” 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *