Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Rocky Balboa

Rocky Balboa is one of the most recognizable movie characters in cinema history. Released in 1976, the movie Rocky pits Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), the reigning boxing champ, with an unknown contender for a title shot at the World Heavyweight Championship of the World. The film also made a star out of Sylvester Stallone and propelled his career to new heights.

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa
Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa

Today’s Wednesday Warriors series looks at Rocky Balboa, his trials, his successes and his life lessons.

If anyone were to describe Rocky, the first thing to pop out of anyone’s mouth would be, “Yo, Adrian.” But there is more to the character Rocky than the punchy delivery of lines and his often-slurred speech. Rocky is a symbol of perseverance. No matter how bad things get, he always seems to have that extra ounce of energy tucked away to use at the last moment when all things appear hopeless. It’s that will to never surrender that makes Rocky all the more imitable. His slight slowness does not deter him to see what’s in front of him. He knows the stakes to his battles. He knows the risk he takes every time he walks into that ring.

His record speaks for itself:

Apollo Creed—defeated.
Clubber Lang—defeated.
Ivan Drago—defeated.
Tommy Gunn—defeated.
Mason Dixon—defeated.

That list does not include the myriad of other contenders vying to overthrow him as the World Heavyweight champ, which he has also defeated.

Mickey (Burgess Meredith), his no-nonsense trainer believes in the clichéd school of hard knocks. To press Rocky for speed, he releases a chicken in an alley and tells Rocky to go fetch. Naturally, Rocky feels like a Kentucky Fried Idiot when he can’t catch it. Yet, he finds the time to laugh and carry on when he traps the quick-footed poultry in his grasp to raise it in the air in victory.

The other aspect in Rocky’s life is Adrian (Talia Shire). She’s the ugly duckling no one wants. He sees something in her no one else had seen. He sees her inner beauty. He sees her tender heart. And he see her strong and sensible mindset that keeps him anchored in reality. Their story is a familiar one. He visits her at the pet shop where she works, tells a few jokes and they go out for the first time skating. He walks her home. They become a couple.

Adrian is the only one who can give Rocky the reason to keep fighting. Without her, he’s nothing. She gives him the will to press harder than before. And with her help, he’s able to conquer his deepest fears.

Most of all, Rocky represents an unwavering belief in fighting for what’s right. In every fight, he sets his mind at winning. On the other hand, his opponent represents oppression. If anything, Rocky will do everything in his power to fight oppression. Have a look at Rocky IV. The film seeps in opposing countries working together to come to an amicable resolution.

Overall, Rocky may be the butt of jokes for reviewers, but he has proven no matter how powerful the competition, he manages to fight and win—even if the audience expects otherwise.

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

Have you watched any of the Rocky movies? What do you think of the character?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Rain

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always loved the rain. The pitter-patter of the water on the ground. The smell of it in the summer just as it starts to thunder. I’m in awe to think after all this time the rain still excites me. That’s why I’d like to dedicate this Freedom Friday post to my favorite weather—the rain.

Overcast day at Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia
Overcast day at Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

One of my fondest memories of the rain takes me back to when I was fourteen. As a teenager growing up in the late seventies, early eighties, I enjoyed my place in high school as a student council representative, a wresting athlete, and a music fan. In my world, the biggest band on the face of the earth was Led Zeppelin. They were gods to me. The album Led Zeppelin III featured a song called Gallows Pole. Every time I hear it today, it brings me back to the instant I sat in my room for the first time listening to it. How can I forget that hot summer afternoon? The rain began to pound outside my windowsill. The thunder rumbled the sky. And here I was, listening to this song that starts off quiet but ends in a good ol’ fashioned, down home, country jamboree. I still get shivers whenever I listen to it today.

At that age, I also had my first job working at the city library. They hired me as a page. I never really knew what that meant. It wasn’t until I got older that someone told me a page is a gofer. Go for the books. Go for the librarian. Well, you get the picture. I spent most of the time putting books away. I digress. Late one fall evening, as I sat in my usual spot near the window sorting my books, the rain began. I stopped my sorting and just sat there watching. The traffic lights made a reflection on the street as they changed from green to yellow to red. People scattered to the nearest store looking for shelter. Where I sat, it was a carpeted bay window. I remember how peaceful it was to look at the water coming down in the middle of the street.

The Empire Strikes Back movie poster
The Empire Strikes Back movie poster

Seems I’m remembering a lot from those days. The major movies to hit the theaters were Rocky II, The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Saturday Night Fever. Not necessarily in that order. Saturday Night Fever especially gives me pause. When it came out, the guys who I’ve known most of my junior high year, the cool guys, all of a sudden liked disco. I almost choked on my saliva writing that. Yeah, it devastated me. Hard core Zeppelin followers turned from the fold to worship a dance craze where guys pointed their fingers in the air like they just didn’t care. Someone turn me into a zombie so I can go back in time and eat their brains.

You know what, though? The rain is good.

One fateful afternoon, when I worked for the school newspaper, I covered our junior high dance. The disco traitors, I mean kids, came in full force. They sported their polyester shirts and slacks, pointed black shoes, and their array of gold jewelry, enough to weigh down and beach a whale. You know what’s coming. As the kids trickled in, the sky turned angry and the water began to fall. Hard. Those kids arriving, being cool and all, dashed from their parents’ car thinking, it’s only a little rain. A few seconds is all it took. The finely greased hair turned to mush. The polyester shirts and slacks retained every ounce of water drank. And the kids? The kids were dancing to Disco Inferno, tossing water everywhere doing the John Travolta moves.

I love the rain.

What about you? Do you like the rain? Do you enjoy listening to the wonderful sound of water hitting the rooftop on a cold, blustery night?