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.

source – giphy 

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. 

source – giphy 

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. 

source – giphy 

What Wrestling Taught Me About Being A Daddy, Dad, And Father

Gary Fehler

My boy skipped through the hallway at school the day we signed him up for wrestling. I may have skipped too.

When I was young, my father and I snaked up and down the highways of southern California through Saturday morning sunrises, heading to wrestling tournaments here or there. Just the two of us.

He’d kneel at the mat, take my hands in his, shake my arms to keep me loose, talk me through this or that—conversations I cannot recall but have surely repeated to my sons—and then yell throughout the match, “half nelson,” “drive him,” and “cradle.” He would greet me after the match to congratulate me or wrap his arms around me.

Wrestling highlighted for me the differences between being a daddy, dad, and father. “Daddy” is something a child cries out when it is hurt or scared. Dad is the guy you toss a baseball with. The first two are simple.

Playing the father is alien and unnatural. It’s the thing you do when you’re not quite sure what to do, so you try acting out what a sitcom father or self-help book father or maybe even your own father would do—moments when you’re lacking conviction.

The first time I felt like a father was two weeks after my son was born. We were attempting to get him to sleep in his crib, away from us, which required crying himself to sleep. I remember standing at his door. I stood rigid as he screamed his desperate little warble. Everything inside me—my DNA encoded with generation upon generation of daddies—begged me to tear the door from its hinges, rush to his crib, scoop him up, and tell him he was going to be all right. A synapse fired; a thought followed: He has to face it.

My son’s first wrestling match took place after just two practice nights. He got spun around, wrapped up, and pinned so fast he had no idea where he was.

Since then, he’s gone through ups and downs. He’s placed second at a pair of tournaments. He’s whimpered and cried through matches. He ran off the mat during one match because he had to go to the bathroom—maybe part wanting to give up and part stressing his stomach into knots. He cried to me in the hallway. He didn’t know wrestling was going to be like this. He wanted to quit. He wanted to go home. But he had to face it.

My wife and I talked that night. Seeing her son getting beaten up and in tears had forced tears of her own. She wanted him out.

My kid is a whiz in school. He’s not challenged there. The only opposition he faces outside of wrestling is trying to get out of going to bed. Wrestling challenges, frustrates, and even hurts him physically. But outside our home, outside the wrestling gym, parents are getting divorced, children are getting shot for going to school, kids are calling each other ugly. And one day when we’re not hurrying him to or from practice, he may stop and feel these things.

Part of my job is to protect him, and part of my job is to prepare him. Knowing which and when is the hardest part.

At one tournament, he lost his first match but not by much, and he wrestled hard the whole time. His second opponent was already crying before the match began. I told my son before the match, as I held his hands and shook his arms, that anything could happen, that he could beat this kid if he believed he could. And I told him, “Just this once, I want you to be mean.”

First, he got takedown points. Then he got escape points. He got reversal points and near fall points. He beat him. He felt good. The third and final match, he earned his first pin of the season, halfway through the second round to earn a second-place medal.

That night, I asked him how he’d done it, where he’d found that. He told me he gotten mean.

Sometimes parenting feels like a three-way cage match, pitting daddy, dad, and father against each other—different instincts and impulses. Then again, maybe we need all three.

Old People vs. Technology

(reddit/u/juicyjuan and reddit/u/brisk911)

You can’t blame older people for not understanding modern tech. They simply can’t keep up with how quickly computers progress. Handing them a smartphone is like if someone handed me the controls to an alien UFO; they recognize that it’s amazing, but they’re probably just going to start pressing buttons and accidentally nuke a continent.

Ok, bad analogy. But you get the point.

And as painful as it can be to see them struggle, a small, sadistic part of us finds it entertaining (as long as you aren’t the one trying to help them “find the Google”). So here are some of our favorite old people vs. technology moments from around the internet. Let their confusion be your enjoyment.

A Kindle as a bookmark for another book? So meta.

(reddit/u/repliers_beware)

Those other buttons didn't do anything anyway.

(u/juicyjuan)

When mom is the "horribly inappropriate" one for once.

(reddit/u/JacksonHeightsOwn)

Grandma can't figure out how to change the clock on her phone.

(u/ImRachaelGreep)

Fab dad.

(twitter/tmackisey)

Damn, Grandma Judy.

(reddit/u/Packian)

Nice, 2 for 1!

(reddit/u/shields8)

WILL SOMEONE GIVE THIS MAN SOME DAMN CORN ALREADY?

(reddit/u/cosmosclover)

They're called manners, Benjamin. Maybe you should try them.

(twitter/Push10Ben)

When you're here, you're family... but it doesn't hurt to double check.

(reddit/u/SilverShrimpO)

Here, let me turn up the brightness?

(reddit/u/brisk911)

Father Figures: The DFP

My husband is the DFP, the Designated Fun Parent. This was no surprise to me. If you’ve met both of us, it’s clear he’s the fun one. If you’ve met only me, you hope he’s the fun one.

I don’t mind. Especially since I’ve observed, and sometimes been the focus of, her “play.” It’s aggressive and terrifying. Poor Daddy. But he had it coming. He laid the groundwork when she was an infant by tossing her in the air and blowing raspberries on her belly till she exploded with laughter. When she was a toddler, he was the wielder of “the tickle finger.” And he can sigh and act all put-upon if he wants, but no one made him do funny voices. So if he’s now the go-to parent when she’s looking for someone to do Hattie the Hippo from Doc McStuffins, he’s got only himself to blame.

The Husband disciplines her, sure, but not as much as I do. In fact, here’s a mantra we have her repeat: “Mommy makes the rules!” That’s right. Because as Daddy can tell you, I have more of them, and each one has clauses and sub-clauses, and qualifiers.

Daddy is wrapped around her finger. And though you’d think such a position would occasionally prove restful, it does not. Being the DFP is exhausting. The other night I saw him trailing after her in a defeated slouch, muttering under his breath, “Why is she doing this to me?”

And I smiled because I know it’s because she loves her Daddy.

Too bad her love hurts!

E.R. Catalano
Zoe vs. The Universe

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

How To Get Out Of A Speeding Ticket

(Funny or Die)

Getting out of a speeding ticket is tricky, but not impossible. Whether you’re the guy who always has a believable excuse or just a smooth talker in general, the key is committing to the act. But just how far are you willing to go to get away with it?