Raw, Raving Review: 50 Shades of Grey

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I read 50 Shades of Grey several months ago.  And I did not read it, because I’m a pervert (though I do not disclaim being a pervert — LOL!).  I actually read it, because everywhere I looked and listened, I could not seem to get away from that very intrusive title…that title that seemed to somehow find its way into conversations and discussions.

The story was a huge hit, and no one could dispute that.  The author of this mega literary hit, E.L. James, no doubt, knocked the ball out of the park!  She achieved the very same literary success that I am currently trying to achieve.  So I wanted to know how she did it.

First, I researched the title.  I found out, strangely enough, that the original story was written as fan fiction for the movie Twilight.  And if you watch the movie and / or read the book, you can clearly see some interesting parallels between certain characters in both stories.  Okay, so the writer created an X-rated version of Twilight, and the snowball rolled downhill from there, getting bigger and bigger, until it hit the reading public, leaving all of us feeling all but cold, wet, and shivering…probably more like hot, wet, and sticky!

Next came the hard part, reading the novel without getting a boner or two.  Geez!  This was the first full-length erotic writing I ever brought myself to finish.  Sure, there was enough filth in that novel to possibly make even Paris Hilton blush.  And God forbid the person who suggested the book to anyone in their Sunday school class (if lightning didn’t come down and strike the person then and there, turning them into Sunday lunch!).

But the story, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, is very alluring.  A huge reason for this is because of James’s ability to craft such wonderful characters, whether from her own imagination or just mimicking certain characters from the Twilight story.  We have Anastasia Steele, a love-starved virgin; who meets a mega billionaire, Christian Grey, who is normally very stand-offish to most individuals he meets.  But somehow, he finds himself drawn to her and pursues her relentlessly.  He draws her into an extremely lustful existence, but she finds herself wanting more and more from him.  He seems to hint that he can give her more, so long as she is willing to give in to his wild and extreme lifestyle of kinkiness so bizarre that he has her sign a non-disclosure agreement to not reveal anything about it.

Yes, 50 Shades is a love story that has no love shared between the characters, at least not mutually anyway.

I’ve probably already revealed too much about the story already for those who have not yet read the book and may or may not have been planning to do so.  So I will go ahead and conclude this review.

My wife and I just recently went to see the movie for our 14th Anniversary.  I have to say that the movie was laughable when compared to the book.  Not because of any particular actor or director’s ability to perform their craft with the utmost precision (Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson did an amazing job of acting out the characters of Anastasia and Christian respectively!); but mainly because of the fact that there were so many deeds and misdeeds left out of the movie that had blatantly stood up between the pages of the book like an Irish hard-on in the middle of an English church sermon!  It is clear that the makers of this film wanted to maintain an R-rating.  In order to make this film exactly as it was in the book would create another type of movie altogether…a porno film!

I personally liked the film better than the book due to my Christian sensibilities (though I’m sure some of you are questioning that sensibility being that I read the book in the first place, knowing that it was extremely erotic!).  If I felt as though I needed a bath after watching the film, then I certainly would have needed to be carbonized like Han Solo after reading the book!  I strictly read the book as homework to see how the writer had managed to become so successful with it.  I learned she did it through witty characterization and through lavish use of sexual content.  After all, sex sells in today’s entertainment industry, be it movies or reading!

I’ve even decided to seriously consider using erotic scenes in An Interstate Ghost Story: The Girl on the Highway, the novel I am currently writing.  But it was written in honor of the American state trooper.  So I will only do so if it can be done in a manner that does not cheapen the honor offered them by this novel’s writing and publication.  If I DO decide to do so, it will only be in a couple or a few scenes.

But — back to finishing my review!  I give the novel 3.5 out of 5 stars, and the film 4.  Fifty Shades of Grey is more or less the love story that never was.  I’ve heard that the next two novels have possibly different outcomes.  But these are not my types of books to read as I prefer action and horror over romance and eroticism.

Raw Raving Review: Assassin’s Creed Black Flag

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I haven’t yet finished this video game, but Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag is an amazing adventure for geeks like me who appreciate it when video game developers do their homework on historical data.
Personally, I have always been intrigued and fascinated enough by pirate lore to read up anything I can as the opportunities arise. And most of what I’ve seen in this game’s mechanics seem very accurate to most of what I’ve read.
Perhaps the only thing that I have seen in this game that seems different about Blackbeard is that he actually put beads of gunpowder in his beard just before a battle.  He would then ignite them causing a bunch of sparks that would not only distract his opponents but would ultimately terrify them, possibly giving us a very early example of psychological warfare. In the game, the sparks were attached to some kind of harness he wore under his hat. But all this is forgivable being that it still indicates his ability to put fear into his enemies.
I think that the game does a good job of its portrayal of the legendary pirate.  I thoroughly enjoyed fighting alongside him during boarding actions at sea.
As is the case with most of the Assassin’s
Creed games, this game is rich on story and additional historical details. It is also very loyal to the legend of what it really must have been like to be a pirate during the Golden Age of Piracy.
I give this game 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Pranks of Errol Flynn!

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Many of those in today’s generation have never heard of Errol Flynn simply because they do not have nor have ever had an appreciation of the truest film classics made back in the Golden Age of movie making!  But those who do are almost certain to have heard of him.  They will likely know that he was the first — and in my humble opinion GREATEST — Robin Hood on film as well as perhaps the greatest on-screen Swashbuckler.

But his truest fans know that he acted most — if not all — of his own stunts and was actually a true-life adventurer (with experience battling head-hunters [not the corporate type who try to find people for jobs!] and actually took a spear through one of his ankles!) prior to taking up the acting mantle.  But even more amusing, most have probably never known that in addition to women, food, and drink, one of his favorite pastimes was playing pranks and enjoying a good laugh with his most cherished friends!

So, here, I have detailed some of his most legendary pranks which may or may not be true (but most likely are!).

  1. Duck, Duck, Goose!  The earliest prank that he played as a child may or may not have been as much a prank as it was a strange fascination with the digestive system of a goose.  But Errol Flynn described it in his autobiography, My Wicked, Wicked Ways.  His father was a professor while they were living in Tasmania as Errol was but a lad.  While the old man was away, Errol decided to tie one end of an extremely long string to a piece of bread and feed it to one of several geese.  Knowing that the bread would come back out the other end relatively quickly, he waited for the string to reveal itself.  So — yet again — he tied another piece of bread to the same end and fed it to another goose.  After retrieving the end once more, he kept repeating this sequence until he had several geese on one string and eventually tied the two ends together finishing up with a literal ring of living geese flapping around quite crazily.  He wrote that his dad was so pissed when he got home that he smacked the boy on the head with his umbrella calling him something like a “little devil”.
  2. Corrupting the Children!     Errol was close friends with Lou Costello (one half of the ever-so-famous comedy acting duo Abbott and Costello).  The chubby comedian was famous for his generous nature toward the community which included letting children come to his home and watch cartoon footage on a film projector.  However, he got in a little bit of trouble with some parents after the witty Errol Flynn replaced one of the reels with stag footage!
  3. Weekend at Bernies?  One rumored prank of Errol’s involved a dead party guest at poolside at Flynn’s lavish mansion.  Apparently, the actor made his rounds and came to what appeared to be a drunk, passed out guest.  But when the late actor shrugged him, checked his pulse, and discovered he was dead, the Aussie actor decided to have a little fun with the body prior to calling the authorities.  When a swarm of gorgeous women came up, throwing themselves at him, he asked them for a favor in “cheering up one of his drunk buddies”.  They naturally obliged but eventually evacuated the premises scarred for life after having chummed up so closely to a corpse.
  4. Bottoming Bette!  Also detailed in his autobiography was a prank he played on Bette Davis that was immortalized in a movie they did together called The Private Lives of Elisabeth and Essex.  It all started when the actress, known for being very snobbish, uppity, and demanding, struck Errol several times with a hand loaded down with costume jewelry in a scene that called for her to do so.  Apparently, the director, Michael Curtiz, wasn’t convinced or maybe just enjoyed watching the surely actor getting his ass handed to him by the petite legendary actress.  But after several takes, he had finally called for a break.  During this break, Flynn went to her dressing room and suggested that she feign the strike, not really hitting him, but doing so at a convincing angle for the cameras.  Supposedly, the actress replied to him, telling him that she was a professional actress and she would do it “her” way.  Flynn departed angrily and commenced to becoming nauseated in his upset state.  Decisively, he stormed back to her dressing room and threatened that if she hit him again he would pretty much turn her into her own red carpet.  When it was time to redo the scene the actress did as Flynn had suggested and the director had been fully satisfied with it and decided to keep the scene.  The prank he played on her did not come until they shot the ending sequence, which was only supposed to show the two of them together in a happy moment.  But Errol Flynn overrode the script by raising his massive hand in the air and bringing it down hard and quick on Bette’s million-dollar ass!  The impact was so great that it lifted her off the ground!  The director, to Bette Davis’s dismay, also decided to keep that scene the way it was.  So when you watch the end of the film, you can see that vengeful prank in all its full glory!

Certainly, there were many more of these pranks.  But these were certainly the most legendary, with one possible exception…one where Errol Flynn himself was the hapless victim.

Errol Flynn had been mentored by the late, great John Barrymore.  And it only stands to reason that he was deeply saddened by the elder actor’s passing.  Several of his buddies decided to acquire the famous actor’s body for perhaps the greatest prank played in Hollywood, if not the sickest.  They set up the actor’s body in Flynn’s study prior to his coming back home after a long night of drinking.  Unfortunately, Flynn was traumatized upon his arrival, even though the prank was highly successfully played out.