Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Part-Time Job In A Grocery Store

Much has been said about Mickey Rourke's comeback in The Wrestler, and I don't disagree. Sometimes you meet your material -- hell, I've been waiting for Hollywood to stop putting out bullshit happy endings that any dullard can feel good about or on the other side, movies so strange and slow that you feel obligated to tell everyone how great they are because you endured two or more hours of hell. Not so with The Wrestler. The world of professional wrestling is portrayed with excruciating detail, a world I remember very well from my childhood when my great grandmother used to wake me up in the middle of the night to watch fights warning me not to tell my mother. I loved sitting on the couch with her, the bad guys, the good guys, the really tight tights, the crazy stage make-up. What wasn't to love?

The Wrestler is about pretense, about how your fake name and fake life(whether it be for wrestling or stripping -- a part played by the always excellent Marissa Tomei) becomes a deep part of you. In Rourke's case, he loathes his real name (Robin) and finds it on his name-tag at his part-time job in a grocery store much to his horror; in Tomei's case, she desperately tries to escape her stripper name and cling to her identity as Pam, a mother of a young son. Both are slaves to the trappings of their professions; both have sold parts of their soul to endure in a harsh world. I enjoy fantasy as much as the next person -- truth be told, reading Playboy (don't ask), opiates, and doing the rosary got me through my first two nights out of the hospital where I couldn't sleep or stave off the pain. But underneath every fantasy, there's the marks where the costumes once were. In this movie, they have been in place so long that there are scars of all sorts, the marking of better days. Things don't get easier, just harder to deny.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I always knew I'd accomplish something very special - like robbing a bank perhaps." Mickey Rourke

Cocktail Hour
Drinking story suggestion: Check out Jim's latest short story win, a 2nd place finish for a short story called "If You'd Only Pay Attention." You can access the following link for a visual representation of the story: http://jrthumbprints.blogspot.com/2009/01/if-youd-only-pay-attention.html. Congratulations, Jim!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!


Scott said...


The Wrestler sounds like a great movie. I'll have to check it out.

Nice pic of you and Baby Grouchie on the couch. :) Hope you're having a good week so far. Take care!

Cheri said...

I think I might need to rent that this weekend. Thats a great review- you sold me on it!

Dave Kowalczyk said...

Now here's the cynically jaunty Michelle that keeps us middle-aged cranks coming back for more!

Lana Gramlich said...

I agree with you. I've been having a particularly difficult time myself since Jan. 1st. I've had dissociative amnesia for many years (a defense tactic my brain felt necessary to sustain what sanity I had left as a child.) Lately some of those old memories have been breaking through. The pain's just as fresh as if these things had happened this morning. To tear off the costume, it seems, is to rend my very soul to shreds.
I thought I'd been doing okay & (relatively speaking,) I had been--so long as I didn't so much as glance into the abyss. Now the abyss is starting to yawn under me & I don't know where things go from here. I just know that I could do without the freaking pain.

jodi said...

Dear Michelleabella, Didn't Grouchie stand by you in your hour(s)? I have loved Mickey Rourke since "Barfly". Can't wait to see the new movie. xo P.S. Lana! How awful. Look into the light. xo

Charles Gramlich said...

That is one movie I think I'd like to see.

Anonymous said...

Although the writer of these words would probably pride herself on her broadmindedness. her lack of common prejudice, there are nevertheless several non-trivial assumptions that betray, or are themselves, profound prejudices. First is the assumption that there is something wrong, humiliating, even dishonorable about low-paid, unskilled labor (though by low-paid in the modern context, be it remembered, we do not mean starvation wages). I am no economist, but the demand that cheap labor become expensive labor without any improvement in its quality or output, in order to gratify the natural desire of the unskilled for a higher standard of living, or at any rate level of consumption, irrespective of its effect on the rest of the economy, does not seem to me to be a recipe for long-term prosperity.
Second is the disdain for supermarket shelf-stacking as an activity. Does the author, I wonder, ever shop in a supermarket? Would she prefer that supermarket shelves remain unstacked and all the goods piled in a great heap, for shoppers to clamber over as rubbish tips in the Third World are clambered over by the very poor, seeking what is valuable or desirable among the dross? It is true, of course, that stacking supermarket shelves is not the most intellectually demanding of jobs, but it is perfectly respectable, honest, and socially useful. So long as supermarket shelves must be stacked--until they disappear from the face of the earth or can be stacked in a fully automated way--there must be supermarket shelf stackers. Snobbish disdain for such menial but productive activities could scarely be more clearly implied by the writer above; and it is precisely this didain, rather than anything intrinsic in the task, that renders it humiliating.
And finally, the author makes it clear that, in her opinion, once a person is a supermarket shelf-stacker, he or she is always a supermarket shelf-stacker. It is like the mark of Cain, ineradicable. This is not so, either in theory or in practice.--Theodore Dalrymple

Anonymous said...

Our whole store is going to see "The Wrestler"!!!!--Mr. Whipple and Artie the bagger

Anonymous said...

WE helps with the buggiess''parking lots!!!!!!--Short bus and Special

the walking man said...

"Anthony (A.M.) Daniels (born 1949) is a British writer and retired physician (prison doctor and psychiatrist), who generally uses the pen name Theodore Dalrymple. He has also used three other pen names.[1] Before his retirement in 2005 he worked as a doctor and psychiatrist in a hospital and nearby prison in a slum area in Birmingham. His philosophical position is "compassionate conservative".[2] He is a critic of liberal thinking and utopian thinking in general."

Whether anonymous was actually Daniels or simply breaching the COPYRIGHTED name of Theodore Dalrymple...in Detroit we have a saying for them who would speak before they understand what is being dialoged..."fuck you idiot".

I think it best to go ahead and look at the source of the suffering, let it bleed and acquire the scars. Scars after all are the sign that healing has commenced and is well on the way to being done.

So tell me kiddo what wrassler did you root for? The Iron Sheik? Bobo Brazil?

the walking man said...

Oh by the by the above reference information was taken from Wikipedia.

JR's Thumbprints said...

You've hit the mark on this one. "Things don't get easier, just harder to deny." Every year I tell myself: That's it, I'm going to find work outside the prison system, and every year I find myself more and more entrenched in the job I have.

Thanks for the shout out, Michelle.

Anonymous said...

Marisa Tomei(along with Joe Pesci)is unforgetable in her breakthrough role as the squeeze of a small-time, hard-driving attorney played by Pesci in the Oscar winning "My Cousin Vinny."--Oscar Winner

chris said...

Anonymous,what a politically correct speaking ass you are, or have made of yourself here.

Please be so kind as to pass the Grey pupon. You found this writing to be offensive ? Oh well.

You sound like the strung out, doped up,educated person who could never make it out of the grocery store. I think you have a hard time udjusting to real life and can't handle the pressures that it may bring. Just work honestly no matter what you do,that is all that matters.

But I dare say you would more than likely blame someone else for your mistakes and not be held accountable in any way. Most of us like what she writes and usually how she write it.

Anonymous said...

Grey Poupon is available in aisle five, sir.--Mr. Whipple and Artie the bagger

DZ said...

I stumbled across this blog while trying to find the name of the grocery store in The Wrestler for a song I'm writing. What a great movie. There are so many fantastic contrasts and parallels throughout.

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