Sunday, July 26, 2009


A good weekend spent mostly hanging out with Paul, which I mention mostly for one reason: As we tooled down SE 14th (which, due its abundance of used car lots, fast food joints and quickie motels, is by far the most endearingly tawdry major thoroughfare in Des Moines, and thus an entirely appropriate setting for anything involving Sylvester Stallone), we suddenly and inexplicably started singing Eye Of The Tiger. Actually, Paul started it, but he didn't know any of the words beyond the first line of the chorus, so I chimed in with the one additional line I actually know, and we just winged it for the rest.

I asked him if he'd ever seen any Rocky movies and he said no, and I pretty much decided, Well, that's it. Sure, he's not my kid, but there's no way any boy should enter his teen years without having seen Rocky. Well, okay, Paul's not even ten yet, but that's not important right now: The point is, Rocky is common currency among guys. You can't have not seen it--that's like saying you hate America.

And of course, you can't just see the first one and be done with it. Even aside from the fact that Eye Of The Tiger doesn't even get played until the third entry in the series--that alone makes it essential viewing for those with a taste for cinematic red meat--you have to at least sit through Rocky IV because at some point in life, someone you know (another guy, obviously) will quote that stupid speech our hero makes after he clobbers that Russian guy, and it will be important to know what the hell he's talking about.

I would have just sat him down and forced him to watch my copy, except I don't own any of the Rocky movies. (I don't own any Stallone movies, which is kind of surprising, since I can easily imagine myself enjoying regular hyper-ironic viewings of Over The Top.) Owning them is kind of redundant, since they play endlessly on cable, and they're exactly the kind of movie that actually benefits from frequent commercial breaks. (They provide regular opportunities to grab more beer and scrounge up additional snacks. Also, they allow regular respite from the punishing stupidity of too much Stallone-authored dialogue.) But since the time I spend with Paul isn't actually coordinated according to basic cable movie schedules, I'll probably wind up renting or buying the stupid things. For a hardcore cineaste, that will be kind of like buying porn--I'll need to pick up copies of Two Or Three Things I Know About Her and Last Year At Marienbad and throw Rocky in the middle, hoping no one will notice.

And what if I go through all that trouble, and Paul fails to be properly swayed by the macho poetry of Sylvester Stallone? Or worse, what if he really likes it? Rocky is just a gateway drug; soon, the poor kid could be needing some Rambo.