Daily Archives: January 10, 2015

Nicholas Sparks Divorce

The Master of the Romance Novel is getting a divorce.  Naturally, the Twittasphere is aghast, with tasteless comments about the irony of a romance writer’s marriage falling apart.  Hell, even this jerk face felt the need to say something snarky:

Personally, I say we give the guy a break.  I hate to break it to people, but here goes:

Authors make up stuff for a living.

The real world is never as perfect as the fantasy worlds that an author can create.  In a make believe world, dudes climb up the sides of Ferris Wheels to impress their lady loves.  In the real world, yours truly would not climb up the side of a Ferris Wheel, even if the trifecta of Scarlett Johannson, Charlize Theron, and Katy Perry where waiting for me.  I’d totally climb a Merry-Go-Round for them but a Ferris Wheel?  Fahgeddabout it.

In fact, here’s an early draft of The Notebook where I was originally considered for Gosling’s part:

RACHEL MCADAMS:  Climb up this Ferris Wheel to see me, my love!

ME:  Um, no thank you.

RACHEL MCADAMS:  But it will be a great expression of your love for me!

ME:  That looks pretty high.  I can love you just as well from down here.

RACHEL MCADAMS:  If I hook up with another man, will you pine half your life away for me until I see your picture in the newspaper and find you again?

ME:  Um…Jesus, that sounds like a lot of work.  No, no, probably not.  You’re cool and all, but you know…other fish in the sea and everything.

See?  Real life is never as good as the fantasy that an author can create.  And we WANT those authors to create fantasy worlds to distract us from the drab realties of the world.

So before people gang up on Sparks, consider the following:

1)  George Lucas is not really a Jedi.

2)  Stephanie Meyer and Anne Rice are not vampires.

3)  John Grisham has never been an attorney in the wrong place at the wrong time who accidentally discovers the wrong file and now all the bad guys are chasing him.

4)  Michael Crichton never made a dinosaur.

5)  Shakespeare was never the Prince of Denmark.

6)  Suzanne Collins never fought in a futuristic, no-holds barred kid vs. kid reality show.

7)  Hugh Howey doesn’t live in an underground silo.

8) Steven King never went insane while working as the Winter caretaker of a haunted inn.

9) Charles Dickens was never visited by three Christmas ghosts.

10)  Pierce Brown has never lived on Mars.

11)  James Patterson has never been an African American Detective

12)  George RR Martin is not a knight in an enchanted land of magic and wonder

13)  Orson Scott Card has never fought an intergalactic race of bug aliens

14)  Thomas Harris is not a cannibal

15)  Ray Bradbury was not a Martian.

So honestly, folks – if writers have to limit their writing to things they have done, then we won’t have much to read, will we?

Sure, there’s plenty of irony and room to make jokes, but when I see the comments people are making like “I can’t trust his romance novels again” etc. – I mean, come on…the guy just lost his marriage, people, you don’t need to attack his career too.

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Rocky Balboa and Rambo 5 – Attack on Nursing Home Delta

Readers, I’ll let you in on a secret.  Hell, there’s only like three of you reading, so it will still remain a secret after I’ve told you.

The Bookshelf Battler is a fan of the Rocky movies.

In particular – Rocky 1-IV, and VI.  I like to pretend V doesn’t exist.  If you’re not an Ancient Roman, I’m trying to tell you I like Rocky 1-4, not 5, and 6.

Six had the potential to be very bad.  It was released in 2006 as Rocky Balboa and even then, Stallone was past his prime.

But to his credit, Stallone didn’t do what many aging stars have done – demand that the audience turn a blind eye and see him like he’s some kind of young superstar, like he was in his glory days.  He wrote his age into the plot.  In the film, Rocky is old, down on his luck.  Adrian’s deceased, he’s lost all his money, his grown-up son hates him, and he runs a lame restaurant that people go to just to listen to him stop by their tables to tell a few boxing stories.

After a computer simulation pits him against a popular fighter, a match is arranged for them to go head to head and the measure of Rocky’s victory is laid out – to be considered a success, he doesn’t have to win.  He isn’t expected to win at all.  He just has to survive for awhile in the ring.  Essentially, by fighting the fight and not dropping dead, Rocky wins.

The movie brings the franchise around full circle, to the initial movie where Rocky did not win the fight against Apollo Creed, but actually found success just by going toe to toe with him in the ring when everyone thought the nobody would pretty much be murdered instantly by the famous fighter.

In my opinion, when Rocky gave his infamous speech to his son, he defined the entire series:

Rocky Balboa’s Inspirational Speech to His Son

“You ain’t gonna believe this, but you used to fit right here. (Shows palm of his hand). I’d hold you up to say to your mother, ‘This kid’s gonna be the best kid in the world. This kid’s gonna be somebody better than anybody I ever knew.’ And you grew up good and wonderful. It was great just watchin’ you, every day was like a privilege. Then the time come for you to be your own man and take on the world, and you did. But somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good. And when things got hard, you started lookin’ for something to blame, like a big shadow.

Let me tell you something you already know.The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!

Now if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth! But you gotta be willing to take the hits. And not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!

I’m always gonna love you no matter what. No matter what happens. You’re my son and you’re my blood. You’re the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, you ain’t gonna have a life.”

Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa (2006)

Let me just repeat one part:

“You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

In other words, getting knocked down is inevitable.  It is going to happen.  You can’t feel bad that it happened.  You can’t say, “Woe is me, if only I was like one of those lucky people who didn’t get knocked down.”  This is just what life does.  You didn’t fail when you got knocked down.  You failed when you stayed down.

I remember sitting in the movie theater, listening to an old Sylvester Stallone say those words, and they made me feel inspired to take on the world.  And, sadly, there have been many times when I’ve ignored Rocky’s advice.  Life would toss a right-hook to my face, send me straight to floor, and I’d say, “Hmmm, what a nice, comfy floor!  I think I’ll stay here for awhile!”

But aside from that, at my lowest moments, I would not turn to a classic poet, or a Rhodes Scholar, or a Nobel Laureate.  I’d click on YouTube and find the clip of Rocky giving his son that speech.  And it would leave me feeling inspired.

The success of Rocky Balboa allowed Stallone to bring back Rambo.  More or less, he followed the same formula.  Don’t portray Rambo as an old man pretending to be a youthful tough guy.  Present him as an old man, hiding out in the jungle, trying to get away from his past.  I can’t say it inspired me to the extent Rocky Balboa did, but it was an acceptable film.

Then came The Expendables.  Again, the same formula – old timers playing old timers.  People who criticized it didn’t get the point.  It wasn’t made for them.  It was made for 1980’s era action flick fanboys like yours truly.  High action.  Low plot.  That’s how we liked our action when Reagan was in the White House.

But I have to say, the recent Expendables 3 didn’t do much for me, and I fear another Rambo installment might be pushing it when it comes to cashing in on the audience’s good will.  Stallone can only go to the, “OK I’ll admit I’m old” well so many times.  Every time he trots out one of our favorite characters, he runs the risk of overextending beloved franchises.  The idea that Rocky is going to star in Creed, a film about Apollo Creed’s son as a boxer, worries me as well.

Oh well.  At least I’ll have Rocky 6 and Rambo 2.

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Movie Review – Taken 3 (2015)

WARNING:  I don’t know who you are.  Actually, I do.  You’re one of the three people who read my blog.  If you are looking for ransom, I don’t have any money.  But what I do have are a very particular set of SPOILERS, spoilers I have acquired over a two hour period spent watching a movie you haven’t seen yet.  Spoilers that can ruin your movie going experience.  If you click this post off now, that will be the end of it. But if you don’t, I will spoil this movie for you.

Actually, is it even possible for this movie franchise to have a spoiler?  By now, you know off the bat someone is getting taken.

I enjoyed the original Taken movie.  I thought it was very original.  I was surprised that Neeson, a traditional dramatic actor, was able to morph into an action star.  The concept was original – the bad guys picked the wrong guy to mess with.

Seriously – have you ever just been walking around, minding your own business, someone insults you, you let it it go and walk right by, because you’re a normal law-abiding citizen, but secretly you hope that said rude person will be rude to the wrong person and said person will kick their ass?

What?  No?  That’s just me?  OK, well I guess that’s why I thoroughly enjoyed the original Taken then.  It was enjoyable to watch the fallout that occurred when the bad guys inadvertently incurred the wrath of Neeson’s character, a highly trained badass ex-CIA agent.

Taken 2?  Well, they flipped it around a little bit.  Neeson and his ex-wife get taken, and then their daughter has to help them escape.

Hollywood could have stopped there but recently we’ve received Taken 3 – The Search for More Cash.

Caveat – as action films go, it was pretty decent, and frankly, above average for what is usually released in January.  January tends to be the month where Hollywood releases the films that are real stinkers.  I can’t say this movie stinks, it just does in comparison to the original.

Because seriously – how many times can someone in this guy’s life be taken???

One note – Neeson’s character’s current husband is changed over to a) be played by a different character and b) be the bad guy.  I’m not a fan of it when Hollywood does rewrites like that in the hopes that no one will notice.

Here’s what the pitch meeting was like:

PRODUCER 1:  We’re going to rewrite the character of Stuart the current husband to be the bad guy.

PRODUCER 2:  That’s fine.  That’s something that only a lame, obscure book blogger with 3 followers would notice.

All in all – not the best of the series, but better than usual for what you get in the first month of the year.

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