Why You Need To Watch Apocalypse Now, Er, Now

(Empire Online)

Most people have vivid moments of cultural consumption in their teenage years – an hour watching some movie or hearing some band for the first time – that shake your brainbox upside down and change the world forever. Mine was reading Kerouac’s On The Road, listening to Harvest by Neil Young and even more memorably, watching Apocalypse Now! with my dad.

I was fourteen, sitting on our living room floor, when a denim-clad rockabilly film critic with a greased up duck’s arse hairdo (that’s an actual haircut, and the critic was Mark Kermode, and he still has that haircut) came on the telly, looked at the camera, and said, “You’re about to watch the most indulgent, extravagant and exciting film ever made.”

I put down my Gameboy.

The ominous shimmering opening of The Doors “The End” faded up through our wood-paneled television as a ceiling fan swooshed over Martin Sheen’s harrowing face – woosh woosh WoooOOOOSH – suddenly the ceiling fan was a Chinook helicopter blade whirring ominously over swathes of pristine Vietnamese jungle.

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At this moment my dad shuffled in his reclining chair, looked a bit excited, and said, “Oh, you should watch this, watch the beginning, then watch it all.”

Seemed like a logical progression for movie watching. But why was Dad so roused? The last time he had been excited about a film on TV was when Channel Four showed Showgirls.

I dragged my arse over the shagpile carpet towards the TV and stared. Jim Morrison screamed, “Mother I Want To Rape You!!!” as the pristine jungle erupted in a fiery napalm hell. I could almost smell the gasoline. I was scared of this movie. 

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The next two hours were the greatest movie watching experience of my life.

Here are some of the reasons why it’s insane that you haven’t seen this movie yet. I mean really, it’s right there on your big shiny smart tv. It’s like two fat thumb clicks away. Turn the lights down and turn it up (actually finish this article first).

The production of Apocalypse Now was more than making a movie, it was literal war. Francis Ford Coppola hired the Philippines army helicopter pilots to shoot the famous Valkyrie beach attack, as they were embroiled in a real civil war a hundred miles away. They would often have to stop shooting so the pilots could fly south to actually engage some insurgents.

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Laurence Fishburne played seventeen-year-old Clean when he was only fourteen because he was just that good, which is weird as these days thirty-year-olds play seventeen-year-olds.

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Marlon Brando demanded a million dollars, shaved his head and made up all his lines for his iconic role as Colonel Kurtz. He’s on-another-planet mesmerizing, muttering about snails crawling along razorblades and “making a friend of horror.” Sometimes I have nightmares about Marlon and his shiny blood-splattered dome lying next to me in bed whispering…

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There’s a scene before Martin Sheen gets his mission where he smashes a glass mirror with his fist, drunk and half naked in a Saigon hotel room. That’s a real mirror, Sheen was really drunk and that’s his real blood. Sheen later had a breakdown and heart attack on set.

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It’s cool. I mean it’s maybe the coolest movie ever made. You can be cool too, by watching it. When I was young I smoked cigarettes because I was cool. There are a lot of cigarettes smoked in Apocalypse Now, and the power of suggestion was strong in me. When I was 18 I got the opportunity to see it in 35mm on the big screen, I went to Leicester Square with my mate Tom to watch the premier of the new Director’s Cut. It’s nearly four hours long. This version included playbunnies making out in crashed helicopters, a bizarre colonial french family and even more surfing. When we stepped out into Leicester Square, our minds blown, Tom lit me a Lucky Strike. “This is the best cigarette you’ll ever smoke.” he said. He was right.

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The film also led to the greatest movie documentary ever made, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, in which Eleanor Coppola documents her husband’s descent into movie making hell.

There are so many other reasons to watch Apocalypse Now and I’d happily tell you them all, but for now take my dad’s sage advice: watch it, watch the beginning, then watch it all. You won’t regret it. 

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Father Figures: From Preemie to M.D.

“I remember when our little Kirsten was born early.

She was right around 5 pounds and her little lungs weren’t quite up to the task of being called into service ahead of schedule. I remember the absolute joy of seeing her for the first time, quickly followed by the anguish of having her whisked away from us. I had no idea what the next few months would bring: victories that brought tears of joy followed by setbacks that made me scream “why?”

Emergency flights to Vancouver.
The unbearable heartache of being sent home for Christmas without being able to bring her with us.
The helpless feeling knowing that I had to put all of my hopes and dreams in the doctors hands.

I remember the pain of watching her in a little oxygen chamber, unable to hold her, unable to make it all better.

As a parent it feels like your only job is to make your baby safe, and here I stood on the very first day, the very first shift of my new task and I couldn’t do it. I was helpless. I was failing at the only job that mattered at that point.

But it turns out I wasn’t failing. Just staying strong and believing that everything would be alright was its own victory.

The job description had temporarily changed for a while is all. And when that little ray of sunshine does break free of the clouds she will shine brighter than you ever imagined possible.

My daughter, who was born 8 weeks premature, is now in her 4th year of med school and will be a doctor in six months.”

– Marty Anderson

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com

Sean Lennon Shares Photo of His Dad on Their Birthday

Sharing a birthday with someone else in your family isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. But sharing a birthday with your dad can be pretty cool, especially when he was one of the most famous musicians of all time.

Legendary Beatle John Lennon was born on October 9, 1940. His son Sean was born on the same day 35 years later. Sean was only five years old when his father was tragically murdered outside the Dakota Hotel in Manhattan.

Sean celebrated his 43rd birthday and what would have been his dad’s 78th birthday, by posting a picture of the two of them on Instagram.


View this post on Instagram


Happy Bday To Us…

A post shared by Sean Ono Lennon (@sean_ono_lennon) on

The photo shows John holding his young son while he blows out the candles on a birthday cake. Sean, a musician himself, captioned the photo, “Happy birthday to us…” and it has received over 42,000 likes and more than 2,000 comments on Instagram.

Sean is no stranger to Instagram sensations. A few months ago he posted a picture of himself and another Beatle’s progeny, James McCartney, son of Paul. Is there a better way to pay homage to the Lennon/McCartney songwriting duo than this?

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sean Ono Lennon (@sean_ono_lennon) on

That selfie, featuring the two Beatles’ sons looking very much like their dads (and James holding a guitar) got more than 50,000 likes from Beatles fans all over the world. Hopefully next time Sean posts with his friend James, it’s a video of them playing together.

Might I suggest something from Sgt. Pepper’s?

Dad Finds Mold in Capri Sun Drink Pouch

(Facebook/Cameron Hardwick)

Everyone knows the worst part about Capri Suns is the years of medical school you have to endure just to have the training required to correctly insert the straw without destroying it or destroying the pouch.

But it turns out there’s a bigger concern, and thanks to one vigilant dad, parents everywhere now know to look out for it.

Cameron Hardwick, a dad in Indiana, was preparing a pouch of Capri Sun for one of his kids, as a treat for eating a good dinner. But as he was opening the juice, he noticed something strange. He posted a video showcasing what he found, on his Facebook page.

The caption to the video reads:

*Public Service Announcement!** Friends & family please read & share! So tonight after dinner our oldest asked for some “juice” (Capri Sun) as a treat for eating good, I grabbed one out of the refrigerator and notice something odd about it… it seems low in content, I take a closer look at the packaging and don’t notice a hole or anything. So I shake it up some, only to find an unknown substance floating around in the package. To say we are irate would be an understatement… we don’t give these to our children often but will NEVER again! #SERIOUSLY #CapriSun

To their credit, Capri Sun responded quickly to Cameron’s concerns, posting a response on Facebook.

“Thanks again, Cameron, for bringing this to our attention and sharing more information with others. Although it’s rare, it is possible for mold to grow inside containers of preservative-free juice drinks if the pouch is punctured in any way on its journey from our facilities to your home. We understand it’s unpleasant, but the mold is naturally-occurring, just like if you left an apple on your counter for too long and mold begins to grow.”

They even sent someone to his house to investigate the pouch.

Capri Sun has long been aware of the possibility of mold in their drink, and they address the issue on their website via a FAQ:

“Will the mold make my child sick?”
“The mold is naturally-occurring, and we understand your concerns. That’s why we created our clear bottom pouches so you can check for mold before enjoying your Capri Sun, while still remaining committed to keeping our drinks free of artificial preservatives.”

Dad Invents Genius Way to Make Gamer Kids Exercise

(YouTube/Jeremy Fielding)

Every parent struggles with getting their kids to turn off the TV or put down the iPad and get some exercise. As technology becomes more and more accessible, and more and more essential, it’s not easy to make that happen.

One ingenious dad found a brilliant way to force his video game loving kids to get the exercise.

Jeremy Fielding is a talented dad of three who shares videos of the engineering projects on his YouTube channel.

His about section describes it this way: “I am fascinated with all things mechanical. Thus many of my projects and videos have a mechanical engineering theme.”

One of those videos features five different things you can make with treadmill parts, including a generator he made from a rowing machine. He got the machine of Craigslist and whatever he paid for it was more than worth it. Because he turned it into a powerful parenting hack.

What does the generator do? It powers his sons’ video games.

The batteries run down in less than a minute, so he and his kids trade-off to ensure there’s enough juice to make their games go. The bottom line? They can’t play unless they pedal and pull. Genius!

Now if they want to play their precious video games, they can, but they can’t do it without getting the exercise they need.

Game over! Dad win!

Before and After Photos of Dad as Son Attempts Game Winning Field Goal


When you’re a sports fan, it can sometimes be hard to watch the big moments, for fear that something will go wrong. And few situations are as fraught as a game-winning field goal kick.

Now imagine you’re watching your team line up for such a kick, only your son is the kicker. Would you be able to watch?

One dad was faced with just that scenario, and a pair of photos posted on Twitter make it clear that his nerves got the best of him!

Last weekend, college football featured an exciting match-up between the Missouri Tigers and the South Carolina Gamecocks. The game was beset by all sorts of issues, from a downpour that made things a lot more difficult for both teams, to lightning strikes that caused two separate delays.

Eventually, the game came down to some last second heroics. South Carolina was down by one, 35-34, when kicker Parker White came out to attempt a game-winning 33-yard field goal. The fans were tense, but they had nothing on Parker’s Dad, who was in the stands in his #43 P. White South Carolina game jersey.

Fellow Gamecock fan and twitter user @jmhellman1395 happened to be seated next to Mr. White, and captured the nervous dad’s pre- and post-kick emotions.

In the before photo, Mr. White is past the point of being on the edge of his seat. He’s down on his knees, perhaps praying, maybe he’s biting his nails? Definitely not quite looking as his son’s team snapped the ball.


And when you see the after photo, you don’t need to be told what happened, because Parker’s dad’s happiness, and the high-five he exchanges with another fan makes it clear that Parker game through and gave South Carolina a 37-35 victory.


And you think you have a hard time watching your team play a close game. You’ve got nothing on the father of a field goal kicker!

The Best Comments of the Week 10/14


Every week we pan for comedy gold in the the comments section of our Facebook posts. If your comment cracks us up (or warms our hearts) we’ll showcase it here!

Here’s this week’s roundup of the Best Comments of the Week:

1. Fender Bender

2. Checks and Balances

3. Pushing All Your Buttons

4. The Ants Go Marching

5. Don’t Blink

6. Inked & Irked

7. Another Slice Please!

8. Protect Your Boys

9. The Name Game

9. Great White Betty

10. Let’s Stop Talking About It

Check out the previous edition of our The Best Comments of the Week here.

Metallica Drummer Reveals How Cool His Dad Is for 90th Birthday


“Happy Birthday Dad. Happy Birthday Molly [Torben’s longtime partner]! And congrats on the big week with the release of not one, but two books, the opening of the Art exhibition and the completion of the latest movie… so fuckin’ inspiring on every level possible!

“And what may be the biggest accomplishment of all, the whole gang being in Copenhagen for four days without a single ‘Hurra, hurra etc’ song per your request!

Make sure to scroll through his second post because it includes 10 awesome photos of Lars and his dad through the ages.

“Since we are Danish and the Danes take their ’round’ birthdays very fuckin’ next-level serious, here is some additional shouting out to my beyond inspirational Dad on his 90th for your viewing pleasure!! Far forhelvede, you’re the coolest of the cool.. do NOT delete that!”

I’m not crying… you’re crying.

Torben has always been a supporter of his son and his music career, but many don’t realize his own amazing story.

Born on October 4, 1928 in Copenhagen, Torben Ulrich was the son of professional tennis player Einer Ulrich.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Torben became a tennis pro himself. He played more than 100 Davis Cup matches for Denmark and, in 1977, right before turning 49, he became the oldest Davis Cup player in history.

Danish tennis player Torben Ulrich at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, London, 24th June 1970. (Photo by William Lovelace/Daily Express/Getty Images)

He wasn’t just an athlete, however. During his years playing professional tennis, Torben also worked as a writer, musician, filmmaker, painter, actor, and director.

The “do NOT delete that” message at the end of Lars’ post is in reference to a line Torben is known for saying in the Metallica documentary, “Some Kind of Monster.” Lars mentions about that moment:

“Metallica fans know that he’s been a fairly large presence in and out of Metallica’s history for 35 years. There’s a famous clip in ‘Some Kind of Monster’ – a scene where he comes to listen to some of the stuff we were working on [for 2003’s ‘St. Anger’] – he’s standing over the mixing desk and he doesn’t look too pleased.

“And I ask him, ‘What do you think of this music?’ There’s a long, long, long pause, and he goes, ‘I would delete that.’ [Laughs] A lot of Metallica fans know him by association, so it’s very cool.”

Such camaraderie between a famous father-son duo is something rarely seen these days, but it’s like a breath of fresh air when it is.

Happy Birthday, Torben!


Dad Puts an End to Backseat Brawls With Genius New Product [VIDEO]


Apparently, there’s something about the backseat of a car that incites road rage in kids. Leave them back there long enough and it will eventually turn into a scene from Enter the Dragon (albeit a version where Bruce Lee just slaps a lot and whines that the bad guys are touching him again).

Sadly, kids quickly realize the “I’ll turn this car around!” threat is an empty one. And handheld devices are only effective for short periods until WW3 eventually erupts.

After almost getting in an accident while breaking up a fight from the driver’s seat – one dad finally came up with a solution. Mark Abay, a Sydney-based father of two, created a genius device called ‘Backseat Carma.’ It’s so wonderfully simple, you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself.

“Every time we got in the car with our kids, they’d fight – it happened time and again which was leading to high-stress levels and distracted driving,” he told Daily Mail.

“Nothing was available on the market, so out of sheer necessity I invented a solution for parents who know the pain and dangers of kids fighting during car journeys.”

Backseat Carma is a large, padded divider that’s secured via seat belt into the middle seat. Not only does it prevent them from touching, the height of the product ensures they can’t even make faces at each other.

In other words, divide and conquer.

(Mark Abay)

The product is constructed out of PI foam—similar to the fabric used in mattresses—and eco-friendly PU leather.

You can pre-order one now for $119, which may seem a but steep for a simple divider, but Abay says the few who have gotten their hands on one early are already raving about it.

‘Most users say peaceful and safe driving is actually worth more than $119 to them. Aside from the high-quality materials used, the real worth is in the problem it solves,’ Mr. Abay said.

And because kids are kids, Backseat Carma is also wipeable and splash-proof, but it still isn’t whine-proof. Looks like we’ll have to wait until Backseat Carma 2.0 for that desirable feature.