Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Wrestler

My mother disapproved of children watching pro wrestling (or wrasslin' as it was called) on television and would issue occasional prohibitions. These were the days when consistency between parents was less the norm than it's supposed to be today. My father would watch it with me.

An improbable collection of heroes, baddies and loudmouths, tough little midgets, with a high degree of sanctioned audience participation from loutish spectators (think Stand Firm in Faith - plus maybe tight black shorts - yeah, that's it SF and tight shorts).

It had some innocence about it in the early days. It became a very different exercise in the 1980's as it followed the money and the natural inclination for things to become extreme and overblown. But that was later. Gene Kiniski was a gentleman and a bit of a national treasure in his time. While wrestling heroes and baddies were supposed to be flat characters, Kiniski would generally break the mode. As Peter Gzowski says in one interview: "you know you'd do a lot better if you could get the twinkle out of your eye"

A case could be made for forbidding my twelve year old stepson from watching it these days. The nature of the beast is very different. It's not a good bout unless there's blood. It verges on the pornographic.

It was my day off on Monday and I went to see The Wrestler. It is a very good film though not, perhaps, for the faint hearted. It recounts the story of an aging pro-wrestler coming to terms with the end of his career and a heart condition - the result of a hard and lonely life. He attempts to initiate a relationship with a stripper-with-a-heart-of-gold and to re-establish a relationship with his estranged child. He tries for a comeback with predictable results.

There are some similarities to the film Raging Bull where the flat character reveals some of his inner nature as history takes its inexoarable course.

As good as the movie is, however, it's no Raging Bull.

The lead actor, Mickey Rourke, is fantastic. His onscreen role mirrors elements of his own personal life. This is a comeback for him as well, having blotted his copybook a decade or so ago and returned unsuccessfully to boxing. For him at this juncture to be playing a role where he's likely to be nominated, at least, for an Oscar is quite remarkable.

The soundtrack is wonderful although I just wish I could listen to it in a Plymouth Duster travelling on a highway at a reasonable speed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Rev'd Joseph Lowery, a United Methodist Minister, was one of the real stars of the inauguration today in Washington. The video of the benediction he gave at the end of the inauguration has just become available.

Pete Seeger was there at the Lincoln Memorial with Bruce Springsteen. I must confess that I didn't know Seeger was still alive.

Stand by me

My friend John who's the priest at Emmanuel Church in Geneva sent this to me. It's more than just an exercise in 'good studio mixing'. I don't hear from John often enough. When he does get in touch he usually comes bearing some good tidbit or other.

Caption Competition

Down at La Parroquia San Cristobal in Panama
, Padre Mickey proves that clergy don't get older they just get better by managing to keep his place in the service book while dangling a baby by one leg. This (by his own admission less than stellar 'hand off') does remove the need to wipe the baby's head following baptism since all the water stays conveniently at the head end and keeps the baptismal dress dry for the family photos after the service.