“Baby On Board” signs are bullshit

You know the things I’m talking about, right? Well, maybe I’m being a bit ignorant as I don’t actually know how popular these stupid things are outside of the UK. So…example time!

baby-on-board-mobile

So what is the purpose of these must-have accessories? Well, there IS one legitimate reason: so that emergency services can identify which vehicles in a pile-up may contain occupants unable to extract themselves. Thing is though, I think we can safely discount this sensible reason since a) how many parents remove the signs when their kid isn’t in the car? and b) I would be willing to bet real, folding money that 99% of drivers displaying these yellow diamonds don’t buy them for that reason. So that leaves us with two species of “Baby On Board” adopters.

The first are those annoying parents or self-centred stay-at-home moms who have had a child and act like they are the most important person in the world. Possibly while bombing around town in monstrous, luxury SUV’s (such as the Audi SQ7 or BMW X6) that they can’t even park let alone pilot through traffic. Abominable, over-powered vehicles that were bought for them by their building contractor partner who is, incidentally, a hulking 7ft brick shithouse channelling the essence of Phil Mitchell. They absolutely NEED that much steel and autonomous technology around them to protect them and their little darling while they apply lipstick at a red light or check Facebook to see how Chardonnay’s big night out with the girls went.

To them, the “Baby On Board” signs are just a fashion accessory, something to tell the world that THEY are a mommy.

The second sort are the people who put such signs up in their rear window to discourage dangerous drivers and this specifically is where I have a problem because why should you be driving dangerously around ANY vehicle? Now I do understand that as a parent, your child’s safety is of upmost importance and that – as a consequence – the reckless road manners of others might suddenly be magnified in your mind’s eye.

But still…it’s like have a special exemption from shit drivers when nobody should have to deal with them or the potential consequences. It sends out a message that tailgating or savage overtakes shouldn’t be totally condemned, just put on hold if there’s a “Baby On Board” sign in front. If some chav scutter loses control of his Impreza at 60mph+ in a residential area and kills a random bloke in another car then it’s a tragedy but hey…as long as he was behaving himself around cars with “Baby On Board” signs…

I just think it’s bullshit.

Car Talk: The 2019 Toyota Supra is just a fake

Is that a harsh statement to make? A blunt assessment perhaps? Well I don’t particularly care. Remember which blog you’re reading here. After all, I am petrolhead amongst other things and a big lover of Japanese metal at that. The A80 (1993-2002) Supra from Toyota is the car I’ve always lusted for the most but good luck acquiring a nice condition manual car here in the UK without some good money in the bank. I’m not the only lover of Toyota’s winged beast either and fans have been eagerly anticipating the A90 follow-up for eons. We’ve had to make do with countless rumours, concepts and prototypes in the meantime, none of which ever amounted to anything concrete.

Until now.

Except…the car is just a fucking BMW with a Toyota shell on top of it. Now I’m not knocking BMW as they make some fantastic cars and you’d better believe that several have made it onto my wishlist over the years. You will be getting a well-engineered product for sure but it’s not Japanese, not a Toyota and certainly not a real Supra.

It’s like an attractive German lady wearing a kimono and playing at being Japanese. The European facial features and German accent are impossible to conceal however.

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[image: carmagazine.co.uk]
The Supra exists on a BMW platform. It has a BMW interior with that instantly recognisable steering wheel shape/design and large tablet-like screen. Even the HUD and menus look the same as you’d find on a BMW’s. The biggest sin is reserved for the engine bay however as Toyota have again borrowed from BMW, using their 2.0 turbo’d four cylinder or a turbo’d 3.0 straight-six. There’s no manual ‘box option either. The BEST part? Probably the Supra badge on the rump that uses the same font as its predecessor’s. That’s a pretty crappy realisation.

It’s a Supra in name only as far as I’m concerned. A generation of car lovers has grown up on the likes of Gran Turismo and The Fast and the Furious, eagerly awaiting the day when Toyota release a new Supra for their generation to buy and enjoy. This is, in my opinion, a sorry excuse for a final product but it’s not really Toyota’s fault.

Y’see, the market has changed since the 90’s and early 2000’s. Estate cars, saloons, coupes and sports cars have all been killed off by the rampant SUV disease. All that consumers appear to aspire to these days are big, blobby, artless crossovers that foster a superiority complex with their jacked-up driving positions. Ugly, nondescript boxes that all look the same (regardless of manufacturer) and are leased on popular PCP finance deals. Add to this the growing number of drivers that have no interest in cars and treat them as mere appliances and you hardly have an ideal environment for sports cars.

You can’t blame Toyota for supplying what people are buying. It’s business after all. So it’s a miracle that the 2019 Supra exists at all and if it wasn’t down to Toyota president, Akio Toyoda and his love for sports cars, then nobody else would have forced the project through to production. The cost was grave though and meant that money needed to be saved hence the collaboration with BMW and use of their engines. Even so, the Supra is still unlikely to turn a profit for the company (from what I’ve read at least).

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Welcome to the new BMW Z4…sorry, I meant SUPRA. [image: carmagazine.co.uk]
So we have to be thankful that we are even at this stage then. But who is going to buy it? Show-offs and trendy types possibly or buyers who genuinely don’t realise that they are buying a BMW Z4 in drag. Not everybody looks into these things after all and your local Toyota dealer is unlikely to tell you that it’s a BMW you’re buying. Many will doubtlessly buy it for the name or to be different to the M-car crowd which is irony on a gourmet scale.

I can’t see true JDM diehards salivating over this though because there’s no way you can drive this thing and continue to profess a love for Japanese cars. Go back to the 90’s and if you were to choose something from Toyota’s sports car range – be it the Supra, Celica or MR2 – then you KNEW that you were buying a car that was designed and engineered by Toyota with a Toyota-built engine under the bonnet. You could legitimately pin your colours to a flag. If the A90 Supra at least had a 3JZ engine and a bespoke interior then we’d be talking.

In summary, it’s good to see the Supra name back again and the BMW DNA means that buyers WILL get a good car. I have no doubt that it will drive well and perform stonkingly too. To deny this would be pretty moronic. However, if you want an authentic Japanese designed and built sportscar that does the legacy of the country’s 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s output proud then this isn’t it. The sad truth is that we may NEVER see such a thing again if boring shit like the Qashqai and CH-R continue to bring home the bacon.

 

Book Talk: Gwendy’s Button Box (Stephen King/Richard Chizmar, 2017)

SKGW-1This is a book that I’m honestly struggling to write anything about, possibly because I reached the end and thought “Is that it?”. Yes, it was one of those sorts of books with an anti-climactic conclusion and no clear answer as to what the whole point was. It’s also very short and can easily be finished in a single sitting thanks to the brief chapters and ‘easy reading’ style . Gwendy’s Button Box is a straight-to-the-point novella that doesn’t labour on exhaustive detail or in-depth character exploration.

So far you will certainly be forgiven for getting the impression that I didn’t like this book but that’s not entirely fair. Gwendy’s Button Box was enjoyable and had the familiar, welcoming King ‘feel’ that I – as somebody who has read almost everything by the author – immediately appreciated. It just felt bare-bones and more like a short story from one of his many compilations rather than something that warranted a standalone book. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that many short stories by Stephen King are arguably more rewarding to read than Gwendy’s Button Box.

But let me try to explain.

Gwendy Peterson is an average, unremarkable twelve year-old girl. She wears glasses and is teased at school for her chubbiness so she spends the summer of 1974 running up Castle Rock’s “Suicide Stairs”, a set of rusted, zig-zagging steps that lead up the cliffside to Castle View park, in order to lose some pounds in readiness for life at middle school. One day she meets the mysterious Richard Farris, a suited man with an eerie MIB vibe who gives her a “button box”. Against all instincts, she accepts the box. This box dispenses small chocolates which suppress her appetite and help her lose weight whilst also seemingly improving life around her in general. It also dispenses mint, uncirculated silver dollars.

The box also has different coloured buttons on the top. Farris informs Gwendy that these buttons have immense power and represent the different continents of the world. Pushing them, it is implied, could destroy entire continents in an instant. The red button however is different.

“Whatever you want and you will want it, the owner of the box always does. It’s normal. Wanting to know things and do things is what the human race is all about. Exploration, Gwendy! Both the disease and the cure!”

Then there is the black button, described by Farris as “Everything”. We assume that this final button is a way to annihilate all of existence. Eagle-eyed or long-time readers of King’s books will recognise the “R.F.” initials of Farris’ name and link him to Randall Flagg, a recurring, name-changing entity of evil from the Stephen King “universe” so it’s obvious that the box is probably bad news in some capacity.

From there on, the book follows Gwendy through her teenage years and into her early twenties. Eating the chocolates appears to improve her life no end. She loses weight and blossoms into a beauty, gains popularity at school, earns high grades and experiences all manner of success. her life turns out to be perfect. Well, mostly.

Gwendy becomes extremely protective and obsessive with the box and keeping it secreted from her parents, ditto for the growing mound of extremely valuable Morgan silver dollars which would doubtlessly raise questions given their rarity and market price. Gwendy also becomes acutely aware of the massive responsibility that owning a box with such power brings. The responsibility to ensure that nobody else finds it, presses a button and wipes out an entire segment of the earth for example. Gwendy also becomes a stranger to her old friends once newfound popularity gives her new ones, gaining a sense of selfish entitlement along the way that sees her forgetting where she came from before the box’s magical gifts.

It’s a great premise for a story but it doesn’t ever become much more than that. The book speeds through the years, only stopping to linger on important, noteworthy events. It almost feels like a full-fat novel with everything bar the main plot points cut out and thrown away. Gwendy is a likeable character but nobody else in her life gets any real development and exist purely as unexplored support acts. The book also finishes on a flat note with a conclusion that is unexpected but only because it is so tame and lacking in an anticipated plot twist or explanation.

Farris, it seems, lives to give the box to random people and see what they do with the power. He tells Gwendy that the bad things that happened while it was in her possession weren’t really her fault and that many, many bad things have actually been averted by somebody else (with less morals and self-control) not having it in their grasp. But that’s it. There’s a distinct lack of overall payoff and the book feels as if it is a basic outline ripe for expansion or even a mere preview of something bigger. It’s almost like watching a strip-tease video and having the video cut out before the underwear is discarded.

What there is here is good – make no mistake about it – but if you have consumed all of Stephen King’s previous works then you may well find yourself frustrated and disappointed that Gwendy’s Button Box couldn’t have been more fleshed-out and gripping. Certainly, you couldn’t be blamed for deciding that it should have been part of the next short story compilation. This book left me wanting once I’d finished it and I’m still not really sure what to think about it. If you’re a King fan then I’d still recommend it but I’d also have to recommend restrained expectations.

Suppressing our emotions = bad

So: this whole Liam Neeson thing that caused a major media shitstorm. It got me thinking about us and our society here in the West; about how our culture has developed to encourage the suppression of our true thoughts and feelings. After all, if you admit to an irrational thought-train that pulled into the station in response to a painful personal scenario (like Neeson did) then you are immediately torn into by social media and the militant SJW factions that have been waiting for the next major celebrity to slip up. It is my opinion that we should be able to discuss our darker thoughts openly providing that we haven’t actually acted upon them of course.

Now, I don’t want to go on about this Liam Neeson thing too much because the story is really only a springboard for this topic but I will quickly re-cap it for the three people that missed it the other week as some context is usually helpful. The short of it is that somebody close to Neeson was raped by a black man “years ago” (no actual specific date/year given) and the movie star admitted to walking the streets for a week, hoping that a black man would randomly start some trouble with him so that he could kill them.

“God forbid you’ve ever had a member of your family hurt under criminal conditions. I’ll tell you a story. This is true.”

“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way but my immediate reaction was… I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person.”

“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody – I’m ashamed to say that – and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some [uses air quotes with fingers] ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.”

“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that. And I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid.”

“It’s awful. But I did learn a lesson from it.”

I’m not going to dissect this too much though because the interview has already been analaysed to death. Also, I’m not here to look at the racial side of Neeson’s comments. What I WILL say is that he was crazy to expect he could admit this stuff and not invite a turbo-charged media storm. It’s – sadly – the age we live in and one seemingly innocent admission could sink a career.

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[image: CNN.com]
And this is the point of this post. There are many with a neutral stance on this story who are saying that Liam Neeson should have just not said anything. As I mentioned just above, I can see why this line of thinking comes about but all it encourages is a suppression of our thoughts, feelings and emotions. What Neeson admits to is some pretty heavy shit and while I could never support what he did, I can still understand to an extent. Clearly the crime affected him deeply and sometimes, these things give birth to wholly irrational thoughts and mental states that seem insane when looking back on them with the benefit of time’s passage. At the time however, the irrational nature of these emotions is very difficult to see if it’s you in the eye of the storm.

Unfortunately, our society has grown highly competent at playing Judge/Jury/Executioner and so if you are considering letting some shit out that has been weighing your mind down then it will take some huge balls to do so. After all, rather than take a balanced approach and attempt to disagree but also understand, it’s much more fashionable to loudly condemn a person for their perceived sins. It’s even easier to do this if the confessor in question wants to open up about anything relating to race or sex. Finally, if you are a celebrity or somebody of high profile, then expect the brain-dead social media sheep to jump on the bandwagon and bleet their rage. Not necessarily because they give a shit but because it makes them look fashionable to be commenting on a high profile news story and be seen to be appalled by something, anything. It’s easy to condemn from that safe spot behind your screen isn’t it? I guarantee that at least 90% of people wouldn’t even bother getting involved if social media was non-existent and doing something about something meant getting off their arses to join physical protest marches.

Hypocrisy rears its diseased head at this point because we are constantly being told that it’s “good to talk” and to be open but it seems that this only stands if the nature of your problems or innermost thoughts is acceptable by the standards of the mindless Twitter mobs, the easily offended and “Won’t somebody think of the children?!?” brigade. Anything remotely controversial or worrying means that you ARE a racist or that you ARE a sexual predator/rapist. As I touched on at the very start of this post, there is a clear divide between having bad thoughts and actually doing something about them. I am in no way excusing those who have followed through on them because it means that somebody else has been hurt or had their life destroyed as a result and the offender needs taking out of society and either punishing or rehabilitating.

But how many of these crimes could have been prevented if society was more open about discussing our more unpleasant thoughts? I ask because it’s basic knowledge that suppressing emotions or hiding certain things only makes them grow stronger over time, perhaps to the point where they warp minds and the owners lose control. We’ve all heard the one about the shy, innocent girl actually being the filthiest of the lot due to suppressed sexuality or having to “watch out for the quiet ones”.

I’m not saying that there is complete, consistent truth in those random examples but one thing I DO know is that nobody is black or white. We are all both. Yin and Yang. Light and Dark. Good and Bad. To try and completely suppress the unsavoury and socially unacceptable segments of our psyche and become modern day saints in the process is a foolish and impossible task. That’s why I believe it is important to talk if it will help ‘release’ some of the bad thoughts but we must be comfortable in opening up without being sent to the figurative gallows. We must also learn to understand and accept that we all have a darkness within and that acknowledging its existence and being comfortable with it could well be one of the best ways of controlling it.

I often like to return to this fantastic quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

“Where the light is brightest, the shadows are deepest”

At the end of the day, I can’t take the self-righteous whiter-than-white do-gooders seriously when they scream about people being wrong or the devil incarnate for simply having human thoughts. Irrational and unpleasant, yes but human all the same. We evolve over thousands and millions of years so to expect society to shed its primal, territorial instincts so quickly (in relative terms) with no margin for slip-ups is ludicrous. The fact that we are as civilised and morally conscious as we are NOW is a small miracle in itself and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

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Even this White Knight chess piece casts a shadow…[image: Tiptopprops.com]

The self-righteous and uber-SJWs amongst us try to be as white and morally superior as possible but the stronger their light becomes, the longer the shadows grow. It’s why those crusading for “good” causes have been known to employ suspect tactics in order to get what they want. On a more basic level, these people are no different or better than the average man or woman and will be harbouring the same dark thoughts or desires behind closed doors, even if only in small, harmless quantities. You can’t have Good without Bad due to the nature of a small thing called Balance. The best we can strive for is to be as Good as possible and keep the dark in check while acknowledging that it is there.

So next time somebody “does a Neeson” and comes out with something outrageous, stop and take a moment before reacting. I’m not telling you to agree with their admission or to let it slide without challenge or scrutiny but at least try to understand and ask yourself if you have been in their situation yourself. Can you actually relate? Are you qualified to judge their state of mind without the relevant experience? Most importantly, did the person in question actually act on their irrational thoughts?

What I’m saying is, don’t preach tolerance and freedom of speech if you aren’t prepared to tolerate other people’s thoughts or allow them to be honest.

Book Talk: Fire And Blood (George R.R. Martin, 2018)

F&B-1If you’re a huge fan of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (more universally known as just ‘A Game of Thrones’ these days thanks to the runaway success of the TV series which uses the title of the first book in the series) as I am then you will probably be resigned to the fact that Martin is probably never going to finish the series. Has he lost control of the plot and characters or is it a simple creative block of sorts? It’s a debate for a different time but what I do know is that I can’t have been the only one who saw the mammoth 700-page Fire And Blood on store shelves and thought “so he hasn’t finished The Winds of Winter but he had time to bash this out?”

Sadly, it’s easier to sum up a reaction with a meme these days so here’s one for the internet generation that more or less reflects my reaction to the release of Fire And Blood:

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I haven’t read any reviews or taken a look at other people’s opinions on this book but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a general feeling of deflation amongst the Ice and Fire devout; downright fury, even (though, as a card-carrying bookish nerd, I feel obligated to point out that we are – fortunately – probably not able to turn that fury into a credible form of anger).  I reckon there are even those who see Fire And Blood as an elaborate form of trolling…

Martin: “Guess what, loyal fans? New book releasing soon!”

Fans: “Ohmygod! It’s The Winds of Winter!” *throws panties at the stage etc.*

Martin: “Actually…no. It’s a partial – PARTIAL – history of Westeros. Suckers!”

Anyway, enough of the memes and silliness. This is me reviewing the book as an Ice and Fire fan and without any prior knowledge of what other people are saying. And you know what? I think it’s great.

Fire And Blood is a richly-detailed recounting of Westeros’ history beginning with the reign of Aegon the Conqueror and concluding with the regency of Aegon III. That might not sound like a lot but five other Targaryen kings sat the Iron Throne in between the first and third Aegons plus a Queen and a few short-lived pretenders. That’s a lot of history to get through.

Obviously – this being a factual (of sorts) retelling of a hundred and thirty-something year’s worth of events – it doesn’t read the same way as a typical ‘thrones book. There’s no character perspectives for example and therefore no way of knowing the innermost thoughts and motivations of the characters. Instead, the book is presented more like a history lesson and you are guided through the years of politics, intrigue, wars and betrayals in exhaustive detail. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the book must be boring in that case though because it really isn’t. As I said, it doesn’t read like one of the regular books but the same level of detail and explicit information is still correct and present. It’s unmistakably a George R.R. Martin work and returning to the land of Westeros with its familiar houses, regions and customs is like coming home after a long, shitty day at work and snuggling up on the sofa with your significant other.

It’s also nice to be ‘in the moment’ and discover the history of these ancient Kings and legendary characters that were only previously mentioned as long-deceased artifacts of the past in the main books and the ‘present’ timeline. Now we can find out about their personalities and motivations.

The best part of reading this book was that despite the shift in style, it didn’t take long to become a page-turner. It’s a historical text but given that this is the first real in-depth exploration of Westeros and it’s Targaryen years, you still don’t know exactly how everything moves from point A to point B. In other words, Fire And Blood still has the ability to shock albeit not with quite the same savagery as the main books. Characters that you have been reading about for many chapters can suddenly get killed off via treacherous murder, illness or random accidents just as in the main books. The trade-off is of course the fact that you don’t get quite as invested in the characters (especially knowing that they will ALL die at some point given that this is history) but even so, I still found myself with a few favourites that I really didn’t want to lose to villainy.

The book also features many excellent, high-quality illustrations by Doug Wheatley. I’m not sure if these have been printed elsewhere in other Ice and Fire spin-offs but in any case, it was nice to finally see a visual interpretation of these Targaryen lords and ladies. As an added bonus, there are dragons too and who doesn’t like those?

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Aegon the Conqueror with the legendary Balerion, The Black Dread.

In conclusion, I genuinely believe that Fire And Blood should only be a disappointment to casual followers of the Ice and Fire saga. Major fans will understandably be disappointed that they are still waiting for The Winds of Winter but they should definitely put aside their disgruntlement at having to see yet another stop-gap book hit the shelves rather than the next ‘proper’ installment. All the rich detail that you’d expect is here and I can honestly say that I couldn’t put the book down once I’d read a few pages. The superb presentation is a welcome bonus and I would definitely welcome the second volume which should take us from Aegon III up to Aerys II.

Just…try and make Volume II one of the stop-gaps AFTER The Winds of Winter please, George?

Movie Talk: Rocky (1976)

Rock1These days, the Rocky name is bigger than the movies themselves and the main character’s transcendence into a pop-culture icon means that even the younger generation know who Rocky Balboa is without necessarily watching any film in the series. Trendy fitness classes work out to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”, tourists make a point of sprinting up the Philadelphia Art Museum steps and there are a galaxy’s worth of training montage parodies. It’s easy then, to forget that the original Rocky is actually a gritty, character-driven story and upon recently re-visiting it, I was struck by just how good the writing for this movie was.

Balboa is a washed-up semi-pro boxer living day-to-day on the rough, run-down streets of Philly. A nice guy with a big heart, he nevertheless failed to work hard enough to reach his potential and earns a living by collecting on debts for a local loan shark and fighting in low-rent boxing matches. It’s easy to pick out parallels between Rocky’s life story and your own if you too are working an unsatisfying day job with an unfulfilled dream gathering dust in the back of your mind. Perhaps not so relatable is what happens next when heavyweight champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) offers a shot at his title to an unranked nobody and sets his sights firmly on Rocky “The Italian Stallion” Balboa. Now Rocky has to train like never before to make up for all of the years of bumming around but not before a scathing reality check from trainer, Mickey (Burgess Meredith), winning the heart of painfully shy pet shop employee, Adrian (Talia Shire) and suffering his friend, Paulie’s (Burt Young) bitter cynicism.

The thing that makes Rocky so great is not the boxing itself but these characters because they are so well written and believable that you can’t help but get invested in them. This is especially true of the supporting characters. Paulie for instance is an eternally angry, grumbling, drink-loving bum and yet you know that – deep down – he is a good guy so you can’t help but like him anyway despite his general scumbaggery and the way he puts his sister, Adrian, down.

Then there is Adrian’s initial stone-walling of Rocky and how she gradually thaws, ever-so-slowly emerging from her shell. The thing that makes Adrian great is that she is attractive but not too attractive and this makes her character so much more believable and endearing than if she had been an obvious stunner or classic, sexy girl-next-door. Adrian only works because she is an average (by Hollywood standards at least) and realistic woman hindered by her shyness. During the course of the movie, she becomes Rocky’s strength and serves as one of the major catalysts for his transformation from a could-have-been into a revitalised man with new purpose. Rocky still wants to go the distance with Creed to prove his to himself that he can do it but from that point on, he is also fighting for Adrian.

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[image: allmovie.com]
Burgess Meredith is superb as Mickey, Rocky’s fierce, no-nonsense trainer who defies his age and stature with the sheer charisma he brings to the role when in full flow. Mickey is as real as Paulie or Adrian though and harbours disappointment in Rocky as well as regret on his part. The two have to repair their relationship and share some difficult home truths. Mickey is angry that Rocky got lazy and squandered his potential. Rocky is angry that Mickey wasn’t there for him in the past.

The movie slowly builds up to the big finale and Rocky’s showdown with Apollo Creed, a battle that is extremely well choreographed to resemble a real boxing match. Creed is a formidable opponent: proven and with an abundance of self-confident swagger. Yet, he never crosses the line into villain territory and even though you root for Rocky the entire time, it isn’t due to any resentment for Creed or his character – something which can’t be said for Rocky’s later opponents in the sequels. The fight is genuinely gripping (even on a repeat viewing) and the blows explosive, packing plenty of punch (pun fully intended). Bill Conti’s score should never be discounted as one of the major elements that makes Rocky such a memorable movie and there are some truly epic, rousing pieces reserved for the finale that rival anything by the likes of John Williams.

The finest piece of writing is saved for the very end however because against all silver screen tradition, the unlikely underdog actually loses to a judge’s decision after fifteen gruelling rounds. The thing is though, you know that the real winner is Rocky and Creed’s celebrations being swallowed up by a crowd that belongs to the ‘nobody’ confirms that. Rocky came from the streets of a decaying neighbourhood and went the full distance with the world heavyweight champion without being knocked out. Creed won but Rocky’s victory means more. It’s a very clever bit of writing that has stood the test of time.

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[image: IMDB.com]
Ultimately, Rocky is one of the true greats and so much more than the blockbuster action image it has garnered over the years. In fact, I would argue that Rocky is almost the complete opposite with the action coming at the end and the first three quarters being about establishing these believable characters and going on a journey with them. If you do want to look at Rocky with a view to analysing the entertainment factor first and foremost however, then it’s impossible to ignore the genuinely motivational elements. From the famous training montage – that sees Rocky wake up and really work for something he believes in – to the film’s underlying message about giving it your all in order to go for something no matter the odds, it’s a movie that can encourage you off your backside to chase your potential.

If you haven’t yet watched Rocky or were put off by preconceptions based on it being a Stallone movie or a boxing/sport movie, then I highly recommend laying those reservations aside and giving it a shot. If you have seen it before then definitely watch it again. If you’re only going to watch one film in the series then the original is by far the most essential with Rocky II a close second (but not entirely necessary given the powerful conclusion to the original). The sequels gradually descended into ‘popcorn’ territory and stopped being so intelligent. They are still enjoyable though and come with their own life messages but I’ll be looking at the follow-ups in a separate article.

[On a personal side-note, I really enjoyed the grainy, interference-laced picture on this DVD copy I have. It added to the gritty setting and imagery of urban decay in a way that I can’t imagine a super cleaned-up HD copy managing. Obviously I’ve not watched a Blu Ray version or anything like that so I can’t comment.]

Brexiteers don’t understand Gibraltar

The latest Brexit-related stink bomb has been dropped and this time it concerns the overseas British territory of Gibraltar which has been described as a “colony” in a piece of EU legislation concering the travel rights of UK citizens post-Brexit. Gibraltar is a complex and long-running item of heated dispute between the UK and Spain, the latter believing that sovereignty rightfully belongs to them (Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in 1713). Back here, the British government hasn’t taken kindly to the “colony” designation or Spain’s refusal to agree to the footnote in the legislation being removed/changed.

I’m not here to debate the issue of Gibraltar though because it’s a big debate that I’m not fully clued-up on and I’m honestly not informed enough to be hurling ignorant opinions about. Plus, as a British man, I’m probably likely to be biased on the matter.

What I AM here to showcase is this terrible hack-job of a digital poster that one of the various Brexit-backing online organisations has produced to be shared on social media for the purpose of sticking it to Brussels for their brazen use of the term “colony”.

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I’m not even going to comment on the huge message dominating the image because there’s nothing actually wrong with it. What I DO find utterly daft however is that “Leave Means Leave” logo up in the top-right…

…because it’s a little bit massively ludicrously ironic given that 96% of Gibraltarian’s voted to remain in the European Union at the referendum!

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Evidently, the research team for the Leave Means Leave campaign didn’t do a very thorough job on this one. Should I be surprised though? Absolutely not.

You see, these guys didn’t do even the most basic bit of research because they were too busy jumping for joy at being handed another piece of anti-EU ammo to fire back at the evil empire that are now attacking the sacred frontier of Gibraltar. These people don’t give a fuck about the people of Gibraltar or what they want. All they were concerned about was using this latest tit-for-tat news item as a fresh piece of anti-EU propaganda to whip up more Brexit support over social media.

Fucking embarassing.