Sunday Mornings, the New Ten-Dollar Bill, and Rocky Balboa

Nappoholics Anonymous is a weekly column featuring twelve random thoughts by actor Tony Nappo. Some are funny, some are poignant, some bother him, and some make him weep from sadness while others make him weep for joy. Here are his thoughts: unfiltered, uncensored, and only occasionally unsafe for work.

1. Sunday Morning Conversation:

Me- What do you wanna do today?

Ella- Nothing.

Me- We can’t do nothing.

Ella- Why not?

Me- I can’t just let you sit around on the couch all day watching TV and looking at your phone.

Ella- Why not?

Me- Because that would make me a shitty father.

Ella- Not to me. *

*I literally saw her speak an emoji.

2. Well, that whole universe delivering me into the arms of the right person thing last week wasn’t nearly as accurate as I had hoped. So if anyone is in the market for a divorced, recovering drug addict, who wears a partial plate, lives in his friend’s basement, and turns fifty-one on Friday—have at me!!!

3. Guest Post of the Week

4. A child was murdered by her father on her eleventh birthday and people were bitching openly about their sleep being interrupted by an Amber Alert that may have saved her life. This is part of the reason that Doug Ford can continue to cut much-needed social programs and get away with it. Too many people have just seemed to stop giving a shit about anybody but themselves.

Riya Rajkumar was her name and I would have happily given up sleep for a year to have saved her life.

5. Top Five Global Warming Pop Bands/Performers from the 70s

5. Meltin’ John
4. Al Greenhouse
3. Pink Flood
2. Fed Me Mercury
1. Earth, Wind, and Fucked

6. Cock Block of the Week

7. The first time I saw the new Canadian ten dollar bill was on Tuesday and it made me proud to live in a country that has put civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond on it. But then I started thinking about all those poor racist/conservative folks out there who want to make Canada great again and felt badly that they might legitimately be upset being exposed to these things on a daily basis. So, as a public service, I have thought of a practical solution. All of you proud racists who need a way to get rid of these offensive notes can send them to Intermission care of my name, Tony Nappo, and I will be sure to dispose of them for you.

You’re welcome.

8. Saw The Hate U Give with Ella this past weekend and can’t recommend it highly enough as a film for parents to watch with their teenagers. It’s a powerful film about a complex social issue. And it really deserves to be seen. No jokes here. No swearing. Just spreading the word.

9. An artist always needs a place to house their truths about the way they see and experience life. A creative spirit needs a place to express itself. Whatever form it may come in. I always admire actors who find places to create outside of our specific discipline, as we generally have so little control over when we are and aren’t working. Even the busiest actors can go long periods without working, but they still need to put that creative energy somewhere.

I am lucky enough to have this column to try to express my thoughts and feelings with, some weeks more successfully than others. Some actors sing. Some dance. Some teach. Some become playwrights or directors. Some cook. Some take photographs. Some bake. Some sculpt. Some needlepoint . . . you get the fucking point. And some paint beautiful pictures. This painting was made by one of the all time great Canadian actors and a man I am lucky enough to call a friend, Peter MacNeill. I don’t believe it has a title. So I am naming it The Painting Tony Nappo Used in His Column Without Asking Permission.

10. Classic Me

11. Comeback of the Week, If Not the Century

12. There is a single shot towards the end of the film Creed II, after Rocky Balboa says to Adonis Creed, “It’s your time now,” which is and will always be one of a handful of moments in cinematic history that I won’t ever forget. As I watched that moment for the first time this past weekend, I realized, this might actually be the end of Rocky Balboa. Then, it all came flooding back to me: seeing the original Rocky with my dad at the Golden Mile cinema in Scarborough on my eighth birthday. Starting boxing classes a week or two later, eventually having about thirty-five fights and winning the Ontario Championship and the Golden Gloves in my weight class two times each. Seeing the next five Rocky films (none of which compare in any way to the original), watching the series turn from a Best Picture at the Oscars to a cartoon soap opera and ultimately to have its humanity and dignity restored to it in the sixth installment. And, then, finally my excitement and anticipation when Creed came along and gave the series a rebirth, a new champion, and an extension of life.

The way many people get excited about a new Star Wars film is how I felt every time Rocky Balboa was about to hit the screen in a new chapter. I turn fifty-one on Friday and I still get shivers when I think about the first time l saw those giant white block letters crawl across the screen and heard the trumpets blaring signifying the beginning of it all.

It has spanned forty-three years of my life. And in some ways, I am always that eight year old boy when I watch that first film (which I have easily done a hundred times): full of hopes and dreams of becoming a champion, not specifically as a boxer but in life. Because I too started with nothing and don’t think people took me very seriously or believed in me in the beginning and I allowed myself to see myself the way that they did. I wasn’t special. I wasn’t gifted. I didn’t want to stand out. I wanted to fit in. To blend.

But as time went on I found my Mickey Goldmill(s). The mentors who helped shape me with their experience and their example: Nick Campbell, Eric Peterson, David Fox, Ron White, Richard Rose, Tony Nardi, Alan Peterson, Peter MacNeill, Kim Coates, Richard Fitzpatrick, Les Carlson, Paul Thompson, Jerry Franken, Ken Gass, Tom McCamus, Tom Rooney, Enrico Colantoni, Anthony LaPaglia, and the list goes on and on. I have listed only men intentionally. I will save women for another entry one day that makes a different point. And only white men because those are the men that happened to be there. Men who took the time to share their knowledge and work with me who saw something in me and believed in me and helped me take my game up every time I went into the metaphorical ring.

In the moment in the film that I described, it occurred to me for the first time ever that the series itself is now is going to outlive the character of Rocky himself. And that cracked my heart wide open. Because Rocky Balboa, a fictional character, has always been very real to me and always been someone who I could go back and spend time with just by popping in a DVD or doing a quick search on my television. And, yes, I will still be able to do that after he is gone but it won’t be the same. When Rocky dies, a part of me will die. I will mourn him. And so I wept. I wept for all that that first film has given to me. And for the many victories and defeats that I have seen in my own life. And for the end. For his end. And my end. And for the soul crushing, depressing reality that everything ends and there is not a damned thing I can do to stop that.

And maybe I wept because in movies things aren’t ever supposed to end. But, then again, Rocky was never just a movie to me. And it never will be.


Written By

Tony is Italian, he’s from Scarborough, he’s an actor, he’s a father, he’s a really good house painter, and he doesn’t believe that most things matter, ultimately, at all.