Monthly Archives: November 2014

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer

As I attempt to shake off my tryptophan induced coma, I am pleasantly surprised to see the new trailer for Star Wars:  The Force Awakens.  No Jar Jar.  No Ewoks.  No podracing.  Nothing that appears to be cute, cuddly, and/or adorable.  We won’t know until we see it but it is starting to look like it might be the Star Wars movie we all wanted to see:

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend…and if you are shopping on Black Friday, May the Deals be With You!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ve racked my brains and I can’t think of a good example of a work of Thanksgiving literature – not a book, a short story, a poem, nothing.  Someone mention one in the comment section and tell me I’m wrong.  I love Thanksgiving, but while Christmas has inspired a slew of tales about people either saving, learning the meaning of, or trying to get home in time for Christmas, there just aren’t as many tales about Thanksgiving.

After all, what would be the characters’ motivation?

CHARACTER 1:  We have to get home in time for Thanksgiving!

CHARACTER 2:  Why?  Will the world come to an end?

CHARACTER 1:  No!  But we’ll eat late!

So rather than wow you with Thanksgiving literature, I’ve decided to share some of the things I’m thankful this year.  I began this blog in March and started blogging semi-regularly in August.  Since then:

  • Several fellow WordPressers have subscribed.  (You should too if you haven’t already.
  • Over 1700 Twits have followed me on Twitter.  (And why haven’t you yet?  @bookshelfbattle
  • I’ve been inspired by NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) to jot down twenty-thousand words.  I won’t make the 50,000 goal, but that’s 20,000 more words than I had.
  • I haven’t done as many book reviews as I’d hoped (yes, I know, THIS IS A BOOK REVIEW BLOG)  but I’ve inspired to read more books than I usually did pre-blog.
  • I’ve almost written 100 posts.  Anyone with ideas for the 100th post feel free to share.

So ultimately, Bookshelf Battlers, I’m thankful for all of you.  Keep following, re-tweeting, and giving me those sweet, sweet web hits.  Click on this site, then don’t be stingy with those clicks, click a few more times.  I’m looking forward to a 2015 full of booktastic good cheer and many more literary discussions of a booktacular nature.

And I promise – I’ll do an actual book review.  (Fingers crossed behind back).

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Movie Review – The Hunger Games Series Thus Far

Happy Sunday Bookshelf Battlers!  May the bookshelves be ever in your favor…

The Bookshelf Battler (that’s me, I’m just an important person who refers to himself in the third person) saw the latest installment of the blockbuster book based movie franchise, The Hunger Games:  Mockingjay:  Part 1 in an early Thursday night showing.  The place was packed.  People love these movies.

For those unfamiliar with the books and/or movies (I don’t know, maybe you’ve been too busy coal mining in District 12 to follow pop culture), the series takes place in the  chaotic future land of Panem,  where the the snobby rich evildoers who run “the Capitol” bask in luxurious lifestyles built on the backs of the poor laborers who toil away in the Districts.  No, it was not written by Occupy Wall Street.  The story  follows Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence in the role that made her career, as she battles the Capitol’s leader, the sinister President Snow (played by Donald Sutherland.  Yes, he’s still alive).

The series begins with the original Hunger Games in which the Capitol revels in watching an annual extreme reality TV show competition – i.e. The Hunger Games.   Every year, all the districts are required to cough up one young male and one young female to compete in a free-for-all, fight to the last person standing competition.

Here is a parody of my conversation with the world when I saw the first film in 2012:

WORLD:  Oh wow!  The Hunger Games is so awesome!  Go Katniss!  Wooo!  Yeah!

ME:  Umm…wait a minute.  Am I the only one who is disturbed by the fact that this is a movie about children murdering other children?

WORLD:  Wow!  Katniss has a burning fire dress!  What a great movie!  Woohoo!

ME:  How did  this even get published?  Did somebody just walk into a publisher’s office and say, “Yeah, hey listen, check it out, I’ve got this great idea for a novel.  It’s the future.  All these kids are thrown into a dome full of guns, machetes, and weapons and they are forced to shoot each other and hack each other to pieces.”

WORLD:  Woohoo!  Great movie!

ME:  I mean, isn’t this pretty much the The Running Man with kids?

WORLD:  Running what?  Shut up!  We’re trying to watch the movie!  Katniss is going to unleash a bunch of futuristic killer bees on some kids!

ME: The Running Man.  It was a very violent 1980’s movie starring Arnold Schwarzennegger and Jesse Ventura.  It was a futuristic game show where convicted criminals were forced to do battle.  Arnold was wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and he had to battle his way out of an obstacle course filled with all kinds of evil psychopaths.  It’s like somebody went to Hollywood and said, “Let’s make The Running Man but with kids!”

WORLD:  Shut up.  Those guys were governors.  They weren’t in any movies.

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But I suppose once you get around the Lord of the Flies-esque nature of the Hunger Games, it isn’t that bad a series.  I noticed that in the sequel, Catching Fire, there is another Hunger Games battle royale in which grown up adult winners of the past games come back to compete.  I hope this means someone, somewhere said, “Hey wait a minute, let’s cool it on the child vs. child killing competitions.”

Eventually, as the series moves along, it becomes less about the competition and more about Katniss becoming a revolutionary freedom fighter, working to take down President Snow’s corrupt government.  In other words, it starts to become a sci-fi action fantasy and that’s a direction that’s easier to get behind.

In Mockingjay: Part I we finally see Katniss come into her own as a symbol of hope for the anti-Capitol uprising.  Lots of action, special effects, and so on.  Overall, it’s a great series of books and despite my above criticisms (what work is without flaws?) I still find them shelf-worthy.

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Frozen NaNoWriMo

I edited my work last night.  Stop judging me.  I realized I had made an error that if left unfixed it would have been pointless to press forward.

“That’s what everybody does!  Just write anyway!”

I know.  But the error was such that anything written beyond said error would have become meaningless jibber jabber.

“It all starts out as meaningless jibber jabber!”

I know.

Anyway, here are my tweets of the NanoWriMo Edition of “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?”

And here is “Let it Go” – NanoWriMo Edition:

I know.  I know.  I’ve spent the past year wishing these songs would go away and now I’ve made a small contribution towards keeping them going.  I am a hypocrite.

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Quick Note on Mockingjay Part I

Doo dee doo doo.

Sorry, that’s how the Mockingjay call translates into the written word.  Best I can do.

Just back from an early Thursday night showing of The Hunger Games:  Mockingjay Part 1.  As expected, it did not disappoint.  I’ll be back later this weekend to review the movies made thus far from the popular book series.

In the meantime:

1)  Enjoy the Hunger Games header.

2) Check out this article on CNN about people being getting in trouble in Thailand for doing the Mockingjay salute.  Katniss inspires freedom lovers in real life!

3)  Few things illustrate the precious yet frail state of life more than seeing Phillip Seymour Hoffman on the big screen yet knowing that he passed away earlier this year.  Damn you, heroin!

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The Walking Dead 11/16/14

GRR!  ARGH!  SPOILERS AHEAD!  BRAINS!

It was an all Daryl and Carol episode tonight on The Walking Dead.  The Bookshelf Battler’s Observations:

1)  A lot of flashbacks and shifts around in time.  A bit confusing but I figured it out.

2)  That van never would have landed like that but I’m glad Daryl and Carol are ok.

3)  Did the hospital people hit Carol on purpose?  Did she get hit on purpose to find Beth?

4)  Why were all those zombies just hanging out in sleeping bags?

5)  These people have been walking around for years.  Why haven’t they made it out of Georgia yet?

Did you watch tonight’s episode?  Do you have any random comments or questions?  Feel free to share!

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National Novel Writing Month – or #NanoWriMo

Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month?

If you’ve never heard of it, the two-cent summary is that it is a challenge to write a novel of at least 50,000 words by the end of November.  It doesn’t have to be a good one.  The end result does not even have to make sense.  Don’t bother editing.  Participants will be quick to remind you to write first, edit later.

Write first, edit later?  Seriously?  “That novel will be a bunch of garbledeegook!” you might say.  And you would not be wrong for saying that.  The thing to remember about NanoWriMo is – every novel starts out as a pile of garbledeegook.

Take any classic novel, film, TV episode, whatever.  They all started out in the brain of a writer and said writer had to mix the thoughts around in his brain for awhile before he got things right.  Consider these recently discovered entries from Shakespeare’s personal notebook:

DAY 1 – The title of my next play?  Romeo and Hildegard!  Two lovers who meet, fall in love, enjoy a delightful wedding ceremony, and take part in many years of bliss all the while their respective familes go out of their way to display their acceptance of the situation.

DAY 2 – What was I thinking who would pay 2 shillings to watch such tripe!  I must think of a way to liven things up!

DAY 3 – Romeo and Hildegard?  Hildegard?  Really?  I have to think of a new name for the female lead.  Jessica? Janet?

DAY 4 – Romeo and Juliet!  They meet!  They fall in love!  Their families despise one another and they send Romeo and Juliet a sternly worded letter that they disapprove of their union!  The End!

DAY 5 – Rubbish, Shakespeare.  Rubbish.  Quit writing and get a job at your father’s used horse dealership while you still can.

DAY 6 – Romeo and Juliet!  Their families are the Montagues and the Capulets and they have a longstanding feud!  Perhaps representatives of the respective families engage in quarrelsome activities that doom the lovers’ union!

DAY 7 – Mercutio gets run over by a horse.  No, he gets brained with a frying pan.  No!  Stabbed by Tybalt!  And his dying words are, “I am very offended to have been stabbed!”

DAY 8 – No, he says, “A Plague on both your houses!”  Yes, thus illustrating how petty feuds often pull unsuspecting bystanders into the fray.

DAY 9 – Romeo and Juliet run away from Verona.  They live till a ripe old age and have many babies.

DAY 10 – No, we must have a sad ending.  Romeo and Juliet attempt to sneak out of Verona.  However, the city is protected by a mighty dragon who eats Romeo.  Distressed, Juliet’s rage gives her magical powers that she uses to burn Verona to the ground.

DAY 11 – Preposterous!  Wait, I’ve got it!  Juliet attempts to get away from her family by taking a drug that makes her look dead but actually only causes her to go into a deep sleep for 2 days.  She sends a message to Romeo to meet her at the tomb.  Romeo fails to receive the message due to the incompetence of the Verona Postal Service.

DAY 12 – Romeo meets her at the tomb.  The drug has turned Juliet into a zombie.  She feasts on Romeo’s brains.

DAY 13 – Juliet wakes up.  Romeo is overjoyed.  They run away, live a long, happy life and have many babies.

DAY 14 – Not sad enough.  At the end of their long happy life together, an underlying residual effect of the drug turns Juliet into a zombie.  Now Romeo has his brains eaten.

DAY 15 – That’s too outlandish.  Romeo gets to the tomb.  Paris is there.  He thinks Juliet is dead and mourns her.  Romeo makes a move to stab Paris.  Paris, positioned just in front of Juliet, dodges to one side to avoid the oncoming sword.  At that moment, Juliet sits up, stretches and yawns and says, “Oh wow, I can’t believe I slept that long!  Oh hey Romeo!  ACK!  Why did you stab me?”

DAY 16 – Romeo then stabs himself because he is distraught over stabbing Juliet by accident.

DAY 17 – OK I like the idea that the lovers kill themselves at the end, but this part where Romeo stabs Juliet by accident is ridiculous.

DAY 18 – Alright, check this out.  Juliet is sleeping in her tomb.  Romeo goes to see her, unaware that she is sleeping, he thinks she is actually dead.  He confronts Paris, kills him, then distraught over Juliet’s apparent death, drinks poison.  Juliet wakes up, sees Romeo dead, gets so upset that she stabs herself with a dagger.  Cut.  Print.

DAY 19 – It still needs a little flourish at the end.  Howsabout this?  The Prince and represenatives of the families come to the tomb, see all the bodies, and says, “You know guys, this is some ridiculous bullshit.  Y’all f’d up royally with this one.”  The End.

DAY 20 – I’ve got it!  The Prince says, “For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”  Done!  Time for chili cheese fries!”

Yes, readers.  Those are the exact, unaltered entries in Shakespeare’s personal notebook.  I am surprised as you are that they had chili cheese fries in his day.

OK, so maybe I made this whole thing up.  The point is that sometimes writers get so bogged down in criticizing themselves that they never write anything.  Meanwhile, those who actually begin the writing with lesser ideas in place eventually find a way to rework those ideas and build them into something better.

So to all you NanoWriMo Participants out there, good luck!  And as a shameless plug for this writer’s work:  check out bookshelfbattle.com and follow @bookshelfbattle on twitter!

(C) Bookshelfbattle.com  – All rights reserved

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Les Miserables – #NanoWriMo Edition

Here’s my series of tweets in which I took two songs from the play/movie, Les Miserables and geared them toward #NanoWriMo

Look Down – NanoWriMo Edition

So embarrassing!  One of those tweets has a “You’re” that should be a “Your.”  I wish there was an “edit tweet” function.  Oh well.  Here’s my other twitter-tastic creation:

The Confrontation:  NanoWriMo Edition

Especially creative?  Too much time on my hands?  A little from Column A and Column B?  You be the judge!

Are you participating in NanoWriMo?  Are you at least taking part in the #NanoWriMo discussions?  Follow @bookshelfbattle for more booktabulous fun.

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Happy Veterans Day! (Literary War Quotes)

Happy Veterans Day!

For the past week, I’ve been offering “Literary War Quotes” – quotes from classic pieces of literature, as a tie in to my latest obsession with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.  I’m half-way through the campaign and have just learned that Kevin Spacey’s character is the bad guy.  Who knew?

It is probably about time to conclude this series of posts with this quote:

“You were just babies in the war – like the ones upstairs!  But you’re not going to write it that way, are you?  You’ll pretend that you were men instead of babies and you’ll be played in the movies by Frank Sinatra and John Wayne or some of those other glamorous, war-loving, dirty old men.  And war will look just wonderful, so we’ll have a lot more of them.  And they’ll be fought by babies like the babies upstairs.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

This quote, taken from Vonnegut’s 1969 novel, illustrates an ongoing problem in pop culture – glorification of violence.  In TV, in movies, heck even in video games like the one I’m playing now, war is portrayed as exciting, noble, adventurous and so on.  The heroic parts are played by actors who have never seen war.  And while it is all well and good to portray the heroic and exciting aspects of war, there needs to be balance – the dark side of war needs to be shown as well.

Vonnegut’s point may have made more sense in his day.  In his day, Sinatra or John Wayne would go on screen, do heroic deeds, give patriotic speeches, and then the audience would rarely ever see the blood and guts that occurs during war.  Today, movies have done a complete turnaround and some may argue they show too much.

But overall, wars are usually fought by young people who are just starting out in life and learning about things – this is something we should keep in mind and it can be hard to do when Hollywood often portrays soldiers as battle hardened veterans ready for anything.

This may seem like a silly point to argue but the public can’t be led to think that wars are all flag waving and patriotic adventures, there is a steep price in human suffering that gets paid as well.

That concludes my series of quotes from literature about war.  Sorry if it bummed you out, my intention was more to get people thinking.  At any rate, it is time to move on to more lighthearted topics.

PS – Equally fitting because today is Kurt Vonnegut’s Birthday!  Happy Birthday Kurt!

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The Walking Dead 11/09/14

WARNING:  GRRR!  ARGH!  SPOILERS!! BRAINS!

We didn’t get to see what is going on with Carol at the hospital but a major plot bomb was dropped tonight – we learned that Eugene was in fact, full of crap.  He was a mullet wearing doofus in shorts who claimed to be on a mission to get to Washington, D.C. to use his scientific mind to bring about a cure to the zombie apocalypse.  There was an ongoing question of – is he lying?  Is he for real?  Does he have a zombie cure?  Is he full of crap?

Turns out he was full of crap and ended up getting a severe beat-down by Abraham, so much so that it pretty much looks like he’s dead but we’ll have to find out next week.

We learned more about Abraham’s character – that he lost his family and was about to give it all up when Eugene recruited him for his fake mission (i.e. claiming to be a scientist that needed to get to DC but in reality was just a coward conning people into taking him to DC because he thought that would be the safest location).

It has been a pretty captivating season of The Walking Dead – what thoughts do you have on this zombie-tastic series?

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