Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Robbie Hart

No matter how many times I watch The Wedding Singer, the character Robbie Hart always does something in the film that makes me think hard about true love. This time around, since I saw it a few weeks ago, it was all about the little things. Today, I’d like to talk about Robbie Hart and about what makes him so unique that I would include him in my Wednesday Warriors series.

Adam Sandler as Robbie Hart in The Wedding Singer
Adam Sandler as Robbie Hart in The Wedding Singer

You know you’re in trouble when you look through your movie collection and all you can find is an Adam Sandler movie. In truth, that’s a good thing, since trouble means laughing through it even after multiple viewings haven’t diminished the impact of the content. The film The Wedding Singer is like that. Filled with inside jokes and funny transitions, the flick comes with two admirable stars whose chemistry flows from the screen.

Robbie Hart (Adam Sandler) is a wedding singer who loses his fiancée at the altar. The no-show devastates him enough to cause him to have a meltdown of sorts. During this time, Julia Sullivan (Drew Barrymore), the new employee at the wedding hall he plays at, and his future romantic interest, promises to hire Hart’s band as the band who should play for her own wedding. As the story progresses, the two discover that their friendship is more than what they expect and confront their feelings for each other in one of the most sentimental and funniest movie endings.

What makes Robbie a unique character to admire is the way he handles life. Other than his fiancée dumping him, he doesn’t allow life to dictate the way he lives. He’s a wedding singer—how cool is that? Every weekend is party time. Additionally, given he lives in a small town where he grew up, he has decided to live his life where his kids can grow up safe and secure away from the big city madness that grips all twentysomethings like him.

Drew Barrymore as Julia
Drew Barrymore as Julia

He doesn’t make a lot of money. So what? He may not have the best of opportunities to move forward with his life. So what? He’s happy. That’s what counts. He realizes that, and anyone around him knows he’s the relaxed type who enjoys his time with friends and family. That counts for something, doesn’t it?

Regarding his relaxed attitude—nothing really bothers Robbie. One of his older students could pour two meatballs with sauce in his hands, but rather than get annoyed, he runs with it and is grateful for the thought. His best friend Julia has that same relaxed attitude. She doesn’t have a problem with Robbie’s wedding singer status, his small-town dreams and his penchant for laughing at the weirdest of things. She loves him just the same.

Which brings me to Robbie’s best character attribute. With him, it’s the little things:

I wanna make you smile whenever you’re sad
Carry you around when your arthritis is bad
All I wanna do is grow old with you.
I’ll get your medicine when your tummy aches
Build you a fire if the furnace breaks
Oh, it could be so nice, growin’ old with you.
I’ll miss you, kiss you, give you my coat when you are cold.
Need you, feed you, I’ll even let you hold the remote control.
So let me do the dishes in the kitchen sink
Put you to bed when you’ve had too much to drink.
Oh, I could be the man to grow old with you.
I wanna grow old with you.

If anything, Robbie Hart has heart. And in a world where things sometimes move too fast, Robbie is a welcome relief to de-stress and look at life through a different pair of eyes.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
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RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

What do you think of Robbie Hart. Have you seen The Wedding Singer?

Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Brian O’Conner

Turbo-charged, Nitro-boosted Brian O’Conner—the cop with the metal—exceeds all limits this week on Wednesday Warriors.

Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner
Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner

The Fast and the Furious movie franchise may not win awards, but what it lacks in praises by the academy it more than makes up in heart-pounding, adrenalin-soaked, action-packed racing sequences. The photography is a blur, the editing is jarring, and the shear thrill of its biting score burns tread marks around the competition of wannabe imposters.

Inspired by article focusing on street racing in the 2000s, The Fast and the Furious torched the box office, raking in $207 Million on a production budget of $38 Million. It shot to #1 throughout North America in 2,628 theaters on opening weekend. Even then, the film had the markings of a juggernaut series few would reminisce in disputing.

Among the players stands Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), a bulk of a man tearing like thunder on four wheels. A hijacker. A family man. He’s the guy who the cops have been wanting to jail for a long time. Next, Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriquez), the strong one. She’s Dominic’s girl. She has earned a god-like status among her admiring peers as a crazed driver that no one ought to mess with.

Brian O’Conner
Brian O’Conner

Then, there’s Brian (Paul Walker), the cop. The guy sent in to bring Dominic to justice.

How can one describe Brian without spoiling the story? He loves the thrill of the chase. He loves speed. Give him a choice between sitting in a sandwich shop ordering tuna and cranking the juice on his NOS (Nitrous Oxcide Systems) tank—he’ll choose street racing any day of the week. He is not a cop who goes by the book.

Torn by his allegiance to the police force and his newfound friendship with Dominic, Brian searches for a way to breach the boundary between duty and honor. Falling for Dominic’s beautiful sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) was not in the plan. Yet, neither was burning dust in one high-speed contest after another.

Eventually, Brian questions his abilities and weighs the consequences against losing the one thing that drives him. Respect.

[Author’s note: The first time watching The Fast and the Furious I remember how actor Paul Walker seemed like the everyman. His boyish grin and stellar gaze certainly captured the attention. When I heard of his passing on November 30, 2013, I didn’t know what to think. I was still recovering from the shock. I eventually learned Walker was the passenger that fateful day of the accident that had taken his life. Reports stated he died instantly. I still can’t believe he’s no longer with us.]

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Have you seen any of The Fast and the Furious movies? What did you think of Brian?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Friends, Love and Other Things

I had a Freedom Friday post dedicated to Black Friday scheduled for today, but I felt the need to push it forward a week so I could write about something else that’s been on my mind. [Update: Pushed the Black Friday post to next year.]

Friends forever.
Friends forever.

I recently visited the blog and Twitter feed of a longtime author friend of mine. In the interest of respecting their privacy, I’ll use they and them as a means of address. About this friend, I’m overjoyed to have learned they’re in good health again. They were going through a rough time last year—hospital, surgeries, going to sleep and not knowing if they’d wake up. Yet, despite the chaos, they pulled through. Today, they are healthy, exercising, eating right, and have a renewed sense of accomplishment and productivity. I admire their will to live and their ability to bounce back from such a devastating blow. To me, they are the truer hero than the fictional characters I write about on an ongoing basis.

Cancer is an insidious disease. It tears apart families and destroys lives. I hate it and wish medical research would hurry up and find a cure. Regarding this author friend of mine, their family is no stranger to the dreaded disease. And, from what I’ve pieced together, it seems to have resurfaced. I’m not sure what I can say here: I hope for the best? get well soon? No matter what I say, it never seems enough. The words sound fake, and I wish I could do more.

I guess the only sincere thing I can say is that my thoughts are with you.

Anyway, I have a few things I would like to briefly touch on for the remainder of this post.

First, Aristotle once said this about friendship:

“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”

I can’t say how beautiful a statement that is. It captures the essence of two people bonded to one another by a single heart. Oh, how devastating it would be if one-half was no longer there. Holidays wouldn’t be the same. Birthdays wouldn’t be the same. And the other half wouldn’t be the same.

Second, friendship and love are siblings:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

“Love never ends.”

Oh, to love and be loved in return.

Finally, the “other things” portion. As the end of the year approaches, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for coming to my site and offering support.

At the risk of sounding preachy, can I be so bold as to ask something of you?

Appreciate those around you. Never let them go. When they’re no longer there, it’ll be too late to say I love you. Be kind to one another and give to those in need. And—live to make every breath count.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Do you have friends you’re cheering for during their trials?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Alice Dainard

If the name Elle Fanning sounds familiar then you wouldn’t be the only one wondering the same thing. Yes, Dakota Fanning is her big sister. And, yes, much like her big sister, Elle is landing huge roles in top box office titles. You might recognize her as the girl who plays Sleeping Beauty in the movie Maleficent. In 2011, however, a movie hit the big screen that somewhat came and went without much fanfare. That movie was Super 8.

Elle Fanning as Alice Dainard
Elle Fanning as Alice Dainard

For today’s Women Who Wow Wednesday, I would like to talk about Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning), the love interest to a young makeup artist Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney). In the movie Super 8, directed by J.J. Abrams, Alice becomes an actress in an amateur zombie movie shot by a group of friends from school.

More as an homage to the Steven Spielberg movies of the Seventies and early Eighties, J.J. Abrams captures the essence of the era by propelling the audience to a small Ohio town where a group of teenagers want to find out the truth behind the eerie events taking place all around them.

The tough, levelheaded Alice is one of those teenagers. With a dark past casting a large shadow over her friendship with Joe, she manages to befriend him, even if their families’ history together contains a tragic event to overcome.

Elle Fanning in Super 8
Elle Fanning in Super 8

The friendship eventually comes in handy when one evening a train derailment nearly kills the kids at the station they were using to film their latest scene for their new zombie movie. The event sparks the kids to pull together, as the event entails more than simply running away. In Alice’s case, since she’s the catalyst to the group’s curiosity, drive and action, she leads them to question the origin of the crash.

After the film’s first fifteen minutes unfolds, Alice displays the kind of courage only a true hero could possess. She presses everyone to think through the problems at hand and not jump to any conclusions before coming up with a solution. The train derailment was just the beginning.

But there’s also that soft, delicate side to Alice. In a scene reminiscent of many contemporary young adult romances of today, Joe preps Alice with zombie makeup, then watches her come to life as she lurches forward toward him with a blank stare and sullen eyes. Of course, Joe doesn’t move, but instead stands there with the curiosity of a squirrel wondering what will happen next.

In the end, there’s more to the movie Super 8 than anyone can imagine. Upon multiple viewings, countless Spielberg references surface to keep the viewer busy for a long time. In Alice’s case, she’s the perfect amalgam of a female hero and a vulnerable victim. Make no mistake, though, the vulnerable victim role doesn’t last long.

She’s too busy saving the world.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Have you seen Super 8? What did you like about Alice Dainard?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Maleficent

Once upon a time, there was darkness throughout the land. The light did not comprehend it nor did it exist in the midst thereof. For within that darkness lived bitterness and anger, which swallowed goodness, and brought with it fear to those who desired peace. Out of true love’s kiss came the darkness.

Angelina Jolie is Maleficent
Angelina Jolie is Maleficent

As part of this month’s tribute to women who rock Horror, included in today’s Women Who Wow Wednesday is Angelina Jolie’s timeless Maleficent.

*** May contain spoilers. Skip to the last paragraph for the summary. ***

True love’s kiss can usher a new dawn or can destroy a land.

Protector of the Moors is Maleficent, one of the greatest fairies ever to live. She swoops and soars across her domain, giving aid to those in need during a time when the light ruled the Moors.

When she was a girl, she meets Stefan, a young farm boy who wanders on the Moors to steal treasure. An embarrassing confession later, Stefan and Maleficent grow in friendship. After a time, Stefan once again steals something belonging to Maleficent, but it happens with true love’s kiss.

As the years pass and as Stefan draws closer to greed, lust and envy, Maleficent protects the land from evil invaders who want to pillage it. She confronts the human king who wants the Moors all to himself, banishes him and hails victorious over the evil tyrant. However, it does not discourage the wicked king from enacting an edict to charge any member of his court to bring back Maleficent to the castle—dead. In exchange they will receive the kingdom as a reward.

Stefan appears again to Maleficent. All the years of loneliness that had passed between them seems as yesterday to the couple, as they share a tender moment. Once Maleficent rises from a deep sleep, Stefan is gone, as are her wings. Stefan becomes king.

Maleficent's Angelina Jolie
Maleficent’s Angelina Jolie

In the wake of her loss, Maleficent falls into darkness. Her power increases, and the seed of resentment captures her heart, left empty by the betrayal of her only love, Stefan. All the fairies bow to their new queen.

Then, King Stefan has a daughter. Maleficent, being cordial, invites herself to the christening where she bestows a gift to the princess—a curse. The little girl would grow to be sixteen at which time she will prick her finger on a spindle and fall into a deep, deep sleep, forever to remain but for true love’s kiss.

Without a doubt, Angelina Jolie is Maleficent. Beyond the incredible effects that renders her the awesome power she possesses, her subtle pose, smile and glint in her eyes conveys more than volumes of exposition. And in some respects, it makes us believe the darkness is good.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

What did you think of Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of Maleficent?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Sue Charlton

As a travel reporter who seeks interesting stories from the far reaches of the globe, Sue Charlton visits Australia to discover the biggest story of her career. But far better than the research for her job, she finds something else she didn’t expect. Love does appear in the strangest of places.

Crocodile Dundee's Sue
Crocodile Dundee’s Sue

Today’s Women Who Wow Wednesday celebrates the striking Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski) from the 1986 film Crocodile Dundee. Starring Paul Hogan in the title role, he is a character right out of a comic book. He can hypnotize a bull with the shake of a hand. He can kill a crocodile using only a knife. And he can tell the time simply by looking at the sun in the sky. Okay, maybe that last one isn’t so true, but he’s a rough-and-tumble character with the ability to save those who need saving.

Sue, on the other hand, is a city girl who is quite helpless in the Aussie bush. Her idea of roughing it has more to do with finding a place to wash her clothes than beating a crock senseless over the head with her weapon of choice. What makes her unique is her ability to capture the heart of Dundee with very little effort on her part.

In a moment of good-natured competition, she sets out on her own in the outback to prove she doesn’t need his saving arms. What could have been a disaster turns into an opportunity where they both become close friends. Their mutual respect for one another’s capabilities proves there’s a hero in everyone.

Linda Kozlowski and Paul Hogan
Linda Kozlowski and Paul Hogan

In the wild, Dundee reigns as the ultimate survivalist, yet in New York City, he doesn’t know what to do with himself. This is where Sue shines by walking him through the urban life. Even when he doesn’t know what a bidet is, she doesn’t look down on him. Her way of teaching is nudging him along so he can learn at his own pace. Eventually he figures out the ins and outs of a bidet—so to speak.

While Dundee loses himself in the journey of a foreign land, he also loses his heart to the beautiful and enchanting reporter he met in the Australian wilderness. If only life were as simple as sweeping her off her feet. It’s not, and in a rush to reconcile his feelings, he decides to leave America.

The story could very well end there. But it doesn’t. Like a well-used cliché, it’s just the beginning. As with all good things that grow from the smallest of seeds, so is Sue’s affection toward the man who once saved her life. She, too, realizes her life will never be the same again without Dundee. He’s showed her more than anything she could have learned on her own, and because of it, is grateful for his friendship.

Sue Charlton, Women Who Wow Wednesday’s best friend.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

Have you seen Crocodile Dundee? What do you think of Sue Charlton?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Beatrice “Tris” Prior

You have a choice. Go with blood or with destiny. Some may call it destiny, at least. Truth is the test will tell you where you belong. For Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) who grew up as part of the Abnegation faction, she felt it in her heart where she belonged. Like all things, though, things get complicated when others get involved.

Shailene Woodley is Beatrice "Tris" Prior
Shailene Woodley is Beatrice “Tris” Prior

Today I am proud to include Beatrice “Tris” Prior in my Women Who Wow Wednesday series. Spoilers may lie therein. Jump to the last paragraph if you do not want to know anything else about either the book or the movie Divergent.

Other than Shakespeare, who has provided me countless hours of entertainment, I haven’t really gushed about any other author on my site. Veronica Roth has proven to be the exception. With thirteen years of writing experience, the 25-year-old, who penned the Divergent series, has won my admiration. Her former blog reads like a fairytale/journal. Among her tidbits of life’s episodes, you can also read how Divergent progressed from its story’s infancy to becoming a worldwide blockbuster movie.

The story centers on a futuristic Chicago divided by five factions: Amity, Candor, Abnegation, Erudite and Dauntless. The factions represent traits, respectively: peacefulness, honesty, selflessness, intelligence and bravery. Every year, sixteen-year-olds undergo a test to determine which of the five factions they belong. However, the ultimate decision rests with them. In Beatrice’s case, she has traits suited from more than one faction. In other words, she’s divergent.

In the Choosing Ceremony, instead of selecting Abnegation, her home faction, Beatrice chooses Dauntless. The Dauntless creed is never to give up—no matter what.

Shailene Woodley as Beatrice "Tris" Prior
Shailene Woodley as Beatrice “Tris” Prior

As part of her entry into the faction, Beatrice and the other initiates have to take a leap of faith from a tall building into a dark pit without knowing if they’d survive the fall. Not one to skirt around a challenge, Beatrice goes first. Her willingness to conquer her fears gains her a friend in Four (Theo James), the faction’s chiseled leader. Asked of her name, Beatrice simply says, Tris.

From that moment forward, Tris has to overcome a series of training exercises primed to show who will make the Dauntless cut. Beaten, scarred and exhausted, Tris resolves never to give up. In her enthusiasm to succeed, Tris wins an ally with Dauntless’ leader, Four. He notices her determination and quietly counsels her. Their friendship grows to become the catalyst for future victories on the battlefield.

In Tris, Veronica Roth has written a character unwavering in her principles and solid in her integrity. I’m eagerly anticipating to read this series and to watch the next movie, Insurgent.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

Have you seen Divergent? What did you think of the main character Tris?