Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hey George, just what is a Horse Child Breakfast?

The classic soaring movie The Sun Ship Game is finally out on DVD and my copy arrived from Tom Knauff’s Knauff & Grove Soaring Supplies. This is a great movie about gliding – not a documentary, but a feature film by Robert Drew, made in the 1970s, of the comps in the runup to 1969 Nationals in Marfa Texas, including footage of that competition. The film focuses on two quite different competitors, George Moffat and Gleb Derujinsky and has some lovely footage of flying, as well as briefings etc at the comps. Some highlights for me include:

  • Gleb smoking in the cockpit of his glider during a race (and checking he has his cigarettes with him before launch)
  • George Moffat lengthening the wingspan of his glider by sawing the wingtips off with a handheld saw!
  • Several landouts and crashes where pieces of gliders (particularly canopies) fly everywhere – attitudes to safety were chillingly different back then
  • Plenty of footage of beautiful old gliders, including Libelles, fast becoming my favourite type

The title of this post refers to a typically late-sixties impenetrable and vaguely creepy poem by Richard Brautigan called Horse Child Breakfast, which George Moffat (English lecturer) reads to a class at the beginning of the film. The poem, if you want to check it out, along with others by Brautigan, can be found here: - if you work out what a Horse Child Breakfast is, let me know.

Anyway, I’m glad I have a copy to replace the bad version I had downloaded from the net and I look forward to watching it (though I doubt whether my wife will be able to stay awake during it – she fell asleep in the first 10 minutes when I played it before).


Michael Reid said...


I a huge fan of The Sun Ship Game, I have a copy from the internet like you mentioned but I can't wait to get the DVD. I love the moment when Gleb is saying that he dumped it in from 500' because it wasn't worth the points to push and George steps in with the comment that he lost the nationals by 5 points - it's at that point that George won and Gleb lost. Amazing to catch that moment.

If you have a moment stop by my soaring blog and let me know what you think!


smith said...

Hi Michael, thanks for the comment. i just picked up a copy of another classic gliding film "Zulu Romeo Good Start" here in Oz.

Tony said...

Great movie, i try to watch it about once a month. One of my favorite parts is the guy before they launch for the last task.

"You ask yourself, why did I accept? I don't want to go..."

It's like he's crying out for help and doesnt realize that he doesn't HAVE to go if he doesn't want to.

RC Soarer said...

Just saw The Sunship Game for the first time. It inspired me to do a little research about Richard Brautigan who wrote the Horse Child Breakfast. Brautigan was part of the 60s California "counterculture." He was the product of a broken home and raised in abject poverty. His mother was apparnetly promiscuous and irresponsible. He also suffered from mental illness and eventually committed suicide at age 49.

His work tends to be short in length and lacking in real substance. It also tends to be sexually explicit and graphic. Horse Child Breakfast was first published in 1968 making it new when Moffat read it to his students. Looking at Brautigan's other works from the same time frame such as "The Beautiful Poem" "Discovery" and "I've Never Had It Done So Gently Before" (and many others like those) it seems pretty obvious that "Horse Child" is a reference to a young woman who prefers to make love "on top" so to speak (think of riding a horse) while "Breakfast" just refers to morning sex.

There is really nothing very profound in any of Brautigan's work and Horse Child Breakfast is no exception.

smith said...

Thanks for the info RCSoarer.