Try to match the following movie lines to the titles of the clips below.
“This is my round!”
“Help me…Help me!”
“I have seen things…”
“I eat Green Berets for breakfast, and right now I’m very hungry.”
“There can be only one.”
If you were able to match the lines above to the video titles below, then you are most likely a male who spent his adolescent years in the 1980’s renting video cassettes from the video store at the corner. You know the place. The one that kept all the porno tapes in the smaller second room with saloon doors.
I posted these videos not only a response to Valentine’s Day, but because these movies, the dialogue and action within, played an important role in my formative years. Which makes me quite worried, in fact.
I personally believe this scene launched Paul McCrane‘s career and helped him land the dramatic role as Robert Romano in the acclaimed television series ER. Still gives me the shivers watching it.
A friend and I could act this scene out from memory. Once we used kitchen knives and ended up at the Thornhill Walk-in clinic with sliced thumb. His, not mine. You have to love the cartoon effects at the end. Very much a la Heavy Metal.
Who has time to talk like this in a fight? You have to love Arnold for inspiring such long-winded trash-talk prevalent in much of the 80’s and early 90’s action films. It really brings me back, though. I can still hear my mother’s complaint: “It’s nothing but glorified violence!”
If real boxing was like this, heck, if the UFC was really like this, I would do very little else in my free time but watch it. Furthermore, if any fight, physical or verbal, had such musical accompaniment, life would be a lot more interesting.
To be honest, I didn’t see this movie until college. However, I decided to put this in the number one slot because of the great acting done by young Rutger Hauer, one of the most underrated action stars of the 1980’s. And as well for Harrison Ford, who plays the Hardboiled detective in this sci-fi film noir. For those who haven’t seen the movie, Hauer is a rogue cyborg back on Earth to find a way to lengthen his lifespan beyond six years. Ford has been sent to hunt him and his cohorts down. I have to say, the scene is quite touching. Though we could do without the dove.
This is not one of those bitter, sour grapes, woe-is-the single-me, anti-Valentine rants that peppers the blogosphere this time of year. I am a happily married man who just simply doesn’t understand all the fuss. My attitude towards Valentine’s Day is ambivalent at best. And YES, my wife really feels the same way. I checked. Today for instance, there will be no night at the opera, no candlelight dinner at Luigi’s, no stroll through the park where I will buy a rose from a rose-seller and offer it to her between my teeth. At the very most, we will walk down to The Nutty Chocolatier where I will watch patiently as Lisa nibbles at pieces of Lindt. And then we’ll cap the night off by cooking dinner and watching an episode of Battlestar Galactica (something she had no interest in at all, until the Sylon got pregnant). With the exception of the chocolate, this is pretty much what we do on a daily and weekly basis: dinner and TV and long walks together. (Sunday brunches too, Lisa wanted me to add this).
The seven years I have been with her, our relationship to me has been similar to the mindset we have when we travel together: lost in our own little world, and forced, when necessity demands, to search the local newspaper stands for the date. We’ve never been good at setting our relationship to any particular calendar.
Ok. The singles right now are thinking I am just being plain smug, and the married folks with kids are probably thinking I am being naive. Just wait until you have children! I can hear them say. But it’s really not that complicated or time consuming. Kallen Kitty sang about it more than fifty years ago:
Blow me a kiss from across the room
Say I look nice when I’m not
Touch my hair as you pass my chair
Little things mean a lot.
Not that I want my wife to touch my hair or blow me a kiss, but you get the idea. As cheesy as the lyrics sound, a little something every day is simpler than haggling with a babysitter and waiting in long line-ups for roses and pasta on one night a year.
The problem is we’ve been trained. Christmas is a time we set aside to be generous with our wealth and goodwill, and Valentine’s is a day designated for us to be generous with our love and affection. The first outcome to this is that most of us use these holidays as ways of making up for the all the chances we missed to treat each other well. The second outcome is, as a result, we will spend the rest of the year catching up with our visa bills.
Christian holidays are a blend of ancient ones. Elements of Valentine ’s Day had their origins in a Greco-Roman February holiday called Lupercalia. During this festival young men would run around the city (naked, some believe) whipping people with strips of goat skin. The act was said to perform two functions: to ward off evil and to increase the fertility of those struck. I don’t think you can get any less subtle.
These dutiful and pragmatic holidays seem to be the reverse of the celebratory and romantic ones we have today. And perhaps this is where the problem lies. We’ve condensed all the fun into selected days of the year. What we need instead is a return to more perfunctory holiday festivities. Never mind the lovey-dub and good cheer, on Christmas we’d simply burn a tree or something to ensure that the days start getting longer, and on Valentines, well, we’d give each other a slap on the back and try and make babies.
Perhaps by setting aside days in the calendar to be dutiful and pragmatic, the fun and good feelings would spread through the rest of the days of the year. I might be wrong, but as usual, I highly doubt it.
It’s a cappuccino and buttered croissant
at 30,000 feet; filet mignon and a dry merlot
among Antarctic ice-bergs; a bowl of ice-cream
in one hand and the fingers of the other
pressing against a blizzard at 40 below. It’s a sweet spot
between comfort and death, the sun
on a soap bubble, the creak
of a swing over a river: the daring
to have your bones scattered like silverware
across ocean floors, a comet’s tale
among ceiling stars, and you
stretching to the tender verge
of a kite drawn into evening, the string
in your back humming in the abyss.
As appeared in the The 2009 Art Bards collection, The Art Bar Poetry Series, Toronto.