Winter has been particularly harsh to my studio time, but these have been keeping me warm, so to speak.
You know, there are certain days, and I’ll just take this past Valentine’s Day as my not-so-everyday example, when the most romantic thing your mother and I might say to each other is, “Hey, does it smell like poop in here?”
But the other day you beat us to the punch line.
When your mother insisted that the cat took his revenge in the corner of our bedroom carpet after we had just come home from a small weekend getaway the other night, it was a rare occasion when I had to disagree.
“No,” I thought to myself (yet somehow failed to articulate verbally), “it smells more like human urine, only… if it had somehow been burnt into microscopic vapors by a popcorn machine.” How my subconscious knew that sensory experience is far beyond me, and I’m glad my mind wasn’t asked to take it any further, because when your mother recalled to me the story of how you took absolute pleasure in relieving yourself into our oscillating heater fan just before we left on our trip, it instantly made perfect sense to the two of us.
“Oh, that heater’s going out in the breezeway tonight.”
Thanks for the a-ha moment kiddo.
I’ve written before about my pathological inability to turn away from any channel playing Rocky movies on TV. I’m not sure if it’s the connection to Philadelphia, a city geographically close enough to call home, or some complex set of neural pathways that somehow carved its way though my brain chemistry at an impressionable age. Aside from owning the Rocky III soundtrack, I think I actually saw the movie in the theaters at least three times as a boy.
Now that I think about it, there was this guy in my neighborhood growing up who I think must have been training for the military or something. Anyway, I’d see him jogging down a steep hill, which was in full sight of my bedroom window. Sensing that he’d need a bit of motivation on the way back up, I made a regular practice of racing to the speakers connected to my hand-me-down stereo system, placing them into my open window, and blasting The Eye of the Tiger with as much force as 1982’s vinyl technology could muster. Then, as he made his way past my house, I’d whip up as deeply as a could with my pre-pubescent voice a heart-fealt, “Yo, Rock!”
Even then, at the age of eight, I knew this bit of ridiculous theater was really for myself and not so much for the benefit of my strange neighbor, whose real name by the way was definitely not Rocky. I don’t think I even knew what his real name was, or if he had any Italian in his blood, or any interest in boxing, but he looked close enough in size and stature to be somebody I could look up to. To me, watching him jog everyday, he was a man with a vision. And he had a plan to accomplish that vision. He was somebody who accepted that it took a lot of hard work to accomplish whatever goal was in his head–be it joining the Marines, winning the heart of some girlfriend, or intentionally making the neighborhood aware that an eight year old boy has absolutely no concept of self-restraint or natural humility.
It may sound corny, but the capture and realization of seemingly unattainable goals is exactly what the character of Rocky Balboa has always embodied for me–a potential to accomplish one’s dreams through nothing other than pure self-determination and hard work. That’s the formula that made Rocky successful the first time around. And that’s the formula that makes it successful for this, the sixth and final time.
And I think I’ll just leave it at that. Rather than get into every detail of what I did and didn’t like about Rocky Balboa, which I honestly believe is every bit as effective as the first one, I’ll simply relay what one of my more skeptical friends had to say to me as we walked out of the theater.
“Wow, that was really good. I didn’t realize I needed that.”
“What’s that? Closure?”
“Yeah. You hit it. Closure.”
Guess what. When an iconic character like Rocky Balboa taps into the human condition of fighting for our dreams and makes us believe in the seemingly impossible–when he decides to leave the ring for good, we all need a little closure.
See ya, Rock.
- The Dobleman – True story. When I went to see Rocky Balboa, I was listening to an interview with the guitarist from Kasabian. The moment I pulled into the theater parking lot, he started an acoustic version of this song by saying, “This one’s for Rocky Balboa.” Still can’t figure it out, though.
- Rocky: The Musical – It came to me in a dream one night. Also a true story.
This finishes out the first figure drawing studio I’ve taken in a long, long time. Too long, actually. More to follow soon.