Monday, February 23, 2009

New Father's Survival Kit #8: A DVD of Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler

Now, I, the Unit Parental, am a fan of the director Darren Aronofsky. On the plus side, he is making films like no one else on planet earth... His films are always interesting and thought-provoking. However, I'm not a blindly loyal fan. I can see his film making blemishes. For example, on the less-than-plus side, he tends to clobber you, his audience, over the head with his THEMES. It is like, either he thinks we are idiots, or he is so insecure about 100% of his audience getting it, and thus, he errs on the side of a good ol' 2X4, like the legendary Hacksaw Jim Duggan.

Let's look at one example from his oeuvre:

Okay, what a weighty title. Whoa. Something not so good is going to happen here. And lo and behold, Darren gives us a holy trinity of addicts: Jared "Indie film hunk" Leto, Jennifer "Look into My Eyes" Connelly, and Ellen Burstyn. Leto and Connelly are the most attractive and hip heroin addicts you will ever meet. Ellen, meanwhile, is addicted to prescription drugs... to uppers. Darren draws the parallels so clearly, that he succeeds, as always, to clobber us over the head with his moral: AREN'T WE ALL JUST A NATION OF ADDICTS...

I mean, yes, we are. Yes, Darren, you are right. I mean, dear reader, be honest with yourself: Just count the number of family members you have who are on some kind of CURE FOR SADNESS... It's alarming, is it not? The numbers are enough to make you wonder what's wrong with the family members who are still, in this state of the economy, of the nation, still experiencing life au naturel. (I, the Unit Parental, wish I could take some kind of drug to quiet the voices... but I'm afraid it would get in the way of my clear-seeing blogging. Drugs would dilute my message...)

...But even though Darren has a point, having a point is no excuse for inelegant film making, is it? No, it fucking is not. That's all I'm saying.

He's just a broken down piece of meat, and he doesn't want her to hate him.

And now, let's look at his latest film, THE WRESTLER.

Here, too, Darren wields his cat-o-nine tails with something less than subtlety, imprinting on your flesh, and on the flesh of Mickey "Career Comeback from the Dead" Rourke, what the moral of the story is: That we as a society have a voyeuristic and exploitative relationship to sex and violence. That we are sadistic and cruel and that we, perhaps like all societies (maybe it's just human nature, from the Ancient Romans and before...), are little better than screaming, braying animals who love to take part in ritualistic killings. Randy the Ram is a modern day gladiator if you will.

Taking this critical approach, we can argue that our sacrificial lambs here are: Marisa "I'm now into being naked" Tomei, the stripper with a genuine heart, at least; and Mickey Rourke. The latter is our Christ figure, of course... How do we know this? Well, we know it because Director Aronofksy TELLS us so. At one point in the movie, in the strip club, Randy the Ram links himself with Jesus, in dialogue, for Chrissake! I mean, talk about clumsy storytelling. I mean, could Director Aronofsky have spoon fed us his Jesus and Mary Magdelene analogy any more obviously? I'm gagging here... The tale of the tape: We, as a corrupt, foaming-at-the-mouth society, love to see Randy the Ram take punishment, be it from staple guns or 2X4's... (I have it from a source who worked on the film, btw, that Rourke did his own stunts, including having staples REALLY stapled into his bod'... The thespian...)

I could go on critiquing Director Aronofsky, whose films I actually like (to clarify). But I won't.

I will, however, give Rourke props. He was the bleeding, steroid-stressed heart of this movie. This movie would have been a lesser thing, I'm sure, without him. I felt for him. I was rooting for him. I wanted him to come back all the way from the dead... He made me care about Randy the Ram like the washed-up fuck up was some good friend from high school who had fallen on tough times.

But to my point! What does all this Film Criticism 101 pretentiousness have to do with Life Force Suckers and new Brooklyn Dads?

The point: Get yourself this movie on DVD, and watch it at least once a week. Or at least watch the scenes between Evan Rachel Wood and Mickey Rourke, that whole father/daughter drama. Because that is the kind of relationship you will have with your kid if you FUCK IT ALL UP. If you let your Life Force Sucker/s down now and damage their little souls, your children will cut you off, even if you have money.

Do you want to be forever trying to bridge the gap that you, errant father, created when you did whatever fuck-up thing you did early on in his or her childhood? Do you want to be going to some thrift store hoping to buy some present that will salve the hurt, because you kept going to bars and hooking up with New Jersey floozies and missing your Life Force Sucker's birthdays! Like Randy the Ram...

So there you have it folks--keep a copy of this movie, this not-so-subtle cautionary tale of men in tights, close by. Swear by it, and most importantly, live by it! Do not be Randy the Ram!

Monday, February 9, 2009

New Father's Survival Kit #7: Snip Snip

So, having a Life Force Sucker has been hell on your marriage, hell on your self-esteem, hell on the carefree, self-centered Brooklyn life you had built for yourself. Ditto goes for your Mrs. Unit Parental. But alas, at some point shortly after the Life Force Sucker's second birthday, the CALL OF THE WILD will ring out loudly in your Mrs. Unit Parental's soul.

And thus, therefore, ergo, she will, after spending two years fawning over the little one, and neglecting you... she will suddenly give you come-hither eyes again.

Yes, she will want another Life Force Sucker. She will want a sequel. And oddly, so might you, my fellow Brooklyn daddy (how do you think we became TOP ROACH on planet earth?...). Hence, I suggest a preemptive strike against this all-too-human desire to have more kids ... Hence, I suggest a secret vasectomy. No one has to know except your physician. Sure, after a few anguished months pass, you will be forced to take that little test entailing a private room and the specimen cup. But the results really will only go to you. You can tell Mrs. Unit Parental all is A-Okay.

This may sound deceptive and dastardly. But really, what choice do you have!!!??? Otherwise, suffer the fate of one of my neighborhood friends, Ahab (name changed). Ahab is your typical Brooklynite; he came from elsewhere; he has gentrified our fine neighborhood with his post-grad'umacated presence. You can find him on any given Sunday, going to our local Anarchist cafe, with his two kids. He has the older one in a stroller, and the younger one strapped to him like a bandoleer. Look at his stooped and defeated gait. Look at the sheer and utter hopelessness that pervades his countenance. He is, in common parlance, a total freakin' GONNER.

For months he has been volunteering to write me a guest blog post that "will destroy the myths about having more than one kid." For example, he has told me that the biggest myth about having multiple offspring is the belief that "the kids will watch each other." But really, he says, a three year old can barely be trusted to watch his or her own bladder! How is he/she going to take care of a younger sibling. He also brings up the very good point that, once you have more than one kid, you are basically switching defenses--from zone to man-to-man. And with two kids, you can no longer "take shifts." One parent cannot cover for the other if, for example, one falls ill, or sustains some kind of injury. You have to, in other words, play hurt...

I was so looking forward to Ahab's guest blog. But get this: the poor soul doesn't have time to write it. Because if one child is a vortex of TIME, two is a super mega colossal black hole of time and energy.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here, suckas.

So what I'm saying is, snip snip.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

New Father's Survival Kit #6: A Nazgul Army

Yes, young father, you need a ringwraith army of your own, a la Lord of the Rings fame.

Why oh why could you possibly need a Nazgul Army of your own? Simply put, these soul-sucking dreadnoughts of evil are the only beings powerful enough to actually deal with all the Gandalf's in your life.

You know them, these Gandalf's. At certain points in your life, you have been surrounded by them...

Perhaps you first encountered one on some beach in Bali, when you were over there after college "discovering yourself." And one muggy afternoon on the beach, as you were putting the moves on some tattooed marijuana-besotted beauty from Italy, there he appeared, silhouetted blindingly by the Southeast Asian sun. There he was, cutting in on your Eurotrash action.

F'ing Gandalf. With his flowing technicolor robes, the white ponytail, the white goat-tee, the frickin' silver toe ring he got in Deli. This dude was, inevitably, from some rosy part of the West Coast. He was, also, full of shit and, predictably, full of himself. Perhaps he made his money on some lucky investment; perhaps he got in early on Microsoft stock; more likely, he inherited it. And well, there he was now, ruining your party.

Emaciated, a dope-addict, a yoga fanatic, with a grizzled white mane, he has spent his empty childless life watching sunsets and doing fuck-all. And now, he was going to regal you with his life story. For the next nine hours on that beach, he would also tell you how the world would be running much better if only he, Gandalf, were made benevolent emperor of ALL. But alas, here he is on the beach, toes in the sand, renting some shack for $.50 a day because material things aren't important to him anyway.

Go to any Third World beach where the hashish is cheap, from Goa to Ko Pha Ng, and you'll find these self-righteous shit-for-brains Gandalfs. These big-talkers of NOTHINGNESS. These experts on following every whim of their infantile souls.


You might, dear reader, not even have to travel far and wide to run into a Gandalf. You might even be related to one. Perhaps your uncle is a ne'erdowell never-married-nobody perpetual adolescence kind of guy. And now, because his life has revealed itself to be an empty and shallow pool, he talks your ear off whenever he sees you... He complains about all his free time, about how he's got no one to spend his millions on, about how he's sick and tired of taking vacation after sunny vacation with his on-again off-again physical trainer girlfriend.

Why is life so empty?

And you sit there during Thanksgiving dinner, biting your tongue and not saying, Your life is empty because you CHOSE to make it empty, because an empty life is an uncomplicated life for the three most important people in your life: YOU, YOU, and YOU! ...

So you see, young father, you need a ringwraith army, to chase away these knuckleheaded Gandalf's, these aging preening queen-men of perpetual childhoodocity!

Gandalf welcoming committee