Last look at The Love Boat

For those who don’t know a thing about it, the original Love Boat was a very successful comedy/romantic TV series that lasted an astonishing 10 years from 1977 to 1987.

The ship you see in the credits above, the actual “Love Boat” of the title, was at the time called The Pacific Princess and later was known as the MS Pacific.

The passage of time has not been kind for the ship.  As beautiful as she may look in those opening credits (this is assuming you enjoy looking at cruise ships), the fact is that the more modern cruise ships with their voluminous amenities and much, much bigger size (which equals more passengers which in turn equals more profits) have rendered the poor Pacific Princess an unprofitable relic.

The Pacific Princess is now docked at a Turkish scrapyard and taking on water.  It is listing to its side and waiting to be torn apart.

For those curious to see what this once majestic ship looks like today and before she’s gone forever, click here:

To whet your appetite, here’s the first of the many photographs from both outside and inside the ship presented on the above website:

In August of 2013, one of the world’s most cherished cruise ships barely limped into a Turkish scrapyard after developing a leak and taking on a severe list while under tow from Genoa, Italy.

I don’t quite know why, but seeing this ship lying in such a state of disrepair makes me sad.  While I was never a terribly big fan of The Love Boat (and haven’t seen so much as a minute of the Robert Urich starring The Love Boat The Next Wave), I can’t deny having seen some of the original show and finding it, at the time, entertaining.

Ah well, time moves on and as for Pacific Princess, may she rest in peace.

Movie lists!!!

First up, 10 Great Movies That Flopped:

This list involves movies that when they were originally released were box office flops yet over time became known as great films.  Some might surprise you (Citizen Kane, It’s A Wonderful Life) while you may recall others which had not such great box office results.

The inclusion of Joe Versus The Volcano, however, is a real head-scratcher for me.  I know the film didn’t do all that well at the box office, but is it considered a great film today?  Is it even remembered today?

Of the films listed, the one I find most curious is Blade Runner.  I was around when the film was initially released and recall the less than sterling box office results…along with (if memory serves) muted and unenthusiastic reviews.  The big, BIG box-office champ that summer of 1982 season was Steven Spielberg’s E. T. the Extra Terrestrial.  That movie essentially was the king of that summer season, yet I can’t help but think that today the film doesn’t hold up quiet as well as some other classic Spielberg films (Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, etc).  As one critic said in looking back, perhaps that year people wanted to see something bright and cheerful rather than dark and dour.

The second list involves Good (or Great) Movies with Terrible Endings:

I agree with some of their choices while a few others were films that couldn’t be saved, IMHO, almost from the get-go.

Their choice of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, however, was a curious one.  I’ve stated before that The Birds was one of those films I didn’t like all that much until I finally realized what exactly Mr. Hitchcock was doing: Making his version of those then very popular “mutated monsters on the loose” films.  In his case, he took all the cliches in those films, which often involved the scariest looking creatures -usually insects- that grow to superhuman size and terrorize the populace only to be stopped by either the intrepid scientist, the rock hard military/adventure type, and the romantic interest (or a combination of all three), and invert the cliches completely.

Instead of a mutated extra large scary looking creature/insect, he took a creature NO ONE thinks is terrifying and is present almost everywhere: The common bird.  No mutations, no extra size, just your common bird.  In swarms.  There is no scientist to explain the bizarre behavior.  The rock hard military/adventure type cannot stop their rampage.  And the romantic interest ultimately is shocked into a near coma-state.

And then, most sinister of all, (SPOILERS!!!) the birds simply let the leads go at the end.  Why?  Because they won.  The birds had conquered all (certainly the small city and, implied in this, the world itself), and they viewed the few survivors as no longer a threat to them.

The ending was incredibly appropriate and made total sense.

Switching gears a little here: Mission: Impossible, the first of the Tom Cruise MI films, had a golden opportunity to create an ending that didn’t crap on the original TV series.  As those who saw the film may recall, Tom Cruise is Ethan Hunt, an MI agent who survives a catastrophic mission wherein all his teammates were betrayed and killed.  The betrayer, it turns out, is none other than (SPOILERS!!!!) Jim Phelps, the character who was the lead in the TV show that spawned the movie.  This is not unlike doing a Star Trek film where it is revealed after a while that Jim Kirk or Spock were, in reality, “bad guys”.

But at the very end of the film, when Phelps is dispatched and Ethan is on a flight and receives his first briefing as the leader of the MI task force, I thought the tape recording he was listening to would refer to him as “Mister Phelps”, revealing that name is in actuality a code name for any leader of the IMF group.  Thus, the TV show’s Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) and the movie’s evil Jim Phelps (Jon Voight) could be revealed as separate people…and the Ethan Hunt character is, in the end, renamed “Jim Phelps” and continues from there.

I’m not the first person to think this, and there have been others who noted that maybe the whole “James Bond” ID should/could also be viewed as a “code name”, thus allowing for so many difference actors to play the character.

Not a bad idea, either.  At least in my humble opinion!

Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight”

If you haven’t heard/read about it, director/writer Quentin Tarantino’s next film was supposed to be The Hateful Eight.  I heard it was going to be a western with a cast that features more mature/elderly actors and there were those that speculated this might be a film on par, thematically, with The Wild Bunch.

Whether this was the case or not, the film’s first draft script was leaked and Mr. Tarantino’s reaction was, to me, quite understandable: He was pissed.

He released a stinging statement to the media noting The Hateful Eight movie was shelved and the script might be released as a novel.  He went further, stating the first draft script was in the hands of only three actors…and he suspected one of their agents/agencies were the source of the leak.

Today, news comes that Mr. Tarantino is suing Gawker for posting links to the leaked script:

I can’t blame him.

I’ve talked before about my curiosity about the effects of the internet and the changes it has made to the economy, whether for good or bad.

There was a time when there were Music stores.  At first, they sold record albums.  Then 8-track and cassettes.  Then came CDs.  With the advent of the MP3 file, however, the entire music selling industry was uprooted.  Suddenly, it was easy to download -legally or illegally- music online.  So easy, in fact, that if you were interested in, say, the music of Artist X, in a matter of minutes you could have every one of their albums (legally or illegally) along with as many bootlegs (illegally) as you wanted/cared for.

In one moment, music stores were a thing of the past.

I recall many years ago (1986 or 1987) going to see a movie and noting a life sized cardboard cutout promoting the upcoming Robocop movie.  Back in those pre-internet days, I had no idea such a film was in the works, much less on the verge of being released.

The cutout, frankly, looked absolutely ridiculous to my eyes.  “A cop that’s a robot?” I said in disbelief.  “How stupid!”

And yet, when the film was released a month or so later (again, I had NO IDEA AT ALL what the film was about other than this poster/cutout) there were some very good reviews for it and I was curious.

I went to see the film and, again, without knowing all that much about it, was blown away.

Today and thanks to the internet, we already know just about everything we need to about the Robocop remake.  Who stars in it, an idea of what the tone of the film is, even how it differs from the original.  I suspect there are many who have already made up their minds about whether they care to see this remake.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

I suppose on the one hand its good to have an idea of what you’re in for should you choose to go see the film.  On the other hand…where is the surprise?

And what happens if you’re someone like Mr. Tarantino, and you’re working hard on something only to see it prematurely released to the public without your consent?

Currently, I’m working very hard on finishing up the fifth novel in my Corrosive Knights series.  The work has been grueling but I’m getting close to the end.  Frankly, I don’t know how I’d react if the current draft of the book were somehow released to the public.

Would I give up on the book and move on to another project?

I suppose so.

But the heartbreak of what would amount to wasting all that time working on something only to have it stripped from you…that would be a very hard thing to get over.

26 Hilariously Inaccurate Predictions About the Future

Taken from -where else?-

The very first one had me in stitches…

If you liked that, you should find the rest of the list very entertaining.  In case you’re not yet sold, here’s one more, #15:

If you’re at all like me, I think you’ll want to check out the rest.

How the Internet solved a 20 year mystery…

Found this article by Alex Goldman over at Slate magazine and it involves the above, a mystery “code” written by a “non-communicative” grandmother on index cards shortly before she passed away.

The mystery of what the Grandmother wrote on these index cards lasted 20 years…and was solved in a matter of 14 minutes after a relative posted a query asking for help figuring this out on Metafiler!

Read the whole thing here:

The Metafiler link, which shows the very quick process of solving this mystery, is presented below:

A fascinating story, and I’m glad the family has closure on what their relative was trying to “say”.

Ghost ship filled with cannibal rats…

…on its way to the UK?!

That alone could be one of the most eye-catching headlines written this year!

As for the story itself, it concerns the possibility of an abandoned (ie, ghost) ship floating out at sea and lost which may be headed in the general vicinity of the UK.  As for the cannibal rats, the theory is that the ship probably has rats on board and since they don’t have food, the only way to survive is, you guessed it, by eating each other.

The most interesting thing about the article, to me, was this line:

(Ghost ships are) just the term used for ships with no living crew aboard, and according to Quartz, they’re not that rare — sailors have spotted at least seven such ships in the past 15 years.

Seven “ghost ships” spotted in the past 15 years?  That means we’ve got roughly one popping up every couple of years.  That is quite intriguing.

Why is it so hard to write an ending?

Are you a writer?  If so and when writing, do you have a problem coming up with good endings to your works?  Then check this article by Charlie Jane Anders (and her advice for those dealing with this problem) at

I suspect almost all fiction writers have areas in this profession that give them difficulties.  I can honestly say that finding a “good” ending to my stories is not one of those problems.  In fact, it has been my experience that story endings and beginnings are often quite easy once I get my story idea (that’s a whole other ball of wax!) and the difficulties for me lie in cleverly/originally creating the bridge between these two.

Sometimes this “bridge” may amount to no more than a few chapters or sequences.  The beginning of my works, like most others, introduce characters and the situation(s) they face.  Often there are several characters running around doing their individual thing(s) and, eventually, these individuals get together to face the story’s main “problem”.  It is in getting the characters together in that already mentioned logical, clever, and hopefully original manner where I have my greatest difficulties.

As far as story endings, I can’t recall ever having a really big problem in coming up with one.  Not to brag, but for me endings tend to come easy.  For example, I already have the concluding story of the Corrosive Knights saga pretty much completely written up, though in a rough draft form.  Once I finish the fifth book in this series I plan to polish off that rough draft and finish it..

When will this final, concluding book in the Corrosive Knights saga be released?  Probably not for quite a while.  I simply wanted to get it done and have it ready for the day I finally reach the point where it should be released!

If you’re like me and coming up with story endings is not a problem, then perhaps you suffer from this, which author Mark Evanier posted on his blog and noted was no problem to him:

The writer Dorothy Parker famously said, “I hate writing. I love having written.” I’ve never felt that way, nor do I understand why anyone who did would become a writer and stay a writer.

If you’re curious, the rest of Mr. Evanier’s brief blog entry can be found here:

Ms. Parker’s statement about “hating writing and love having written” is something I can completely understand.  Mr. Evanier has noted he has no problems sitting before a computer typing away for hours at a time, but to me this is often a very difficult process.

My difficulty lies in what I wrote above, bridging the gap between story beginnings and endings.  This “in between” stuff is what always takes a lot of time and considerable concentration/work for me to get “just right”.

When I’m working, I find it near impossible to  sit before the computer and type for many hours at a time.  Usually, my process goes like this: I type as many as one to four pages or sometimes as little as one paragraph or line before having to pause and think think think about what I’ve just written and if it works and whether it fits with what I want to accomplish.  At this same moment I think about whether what I just wrote or am about to write advances the story in clever/interesting ways.

For the fifth book in the Corrosive Knights saga, there were entire sections I wrote and subsequently trashed and completely re-wrote because they didn’t work for me.  Some were too “convenient” in getting the characters from point A to B.  Some were clunky.  Some introduced new characters I didn’t care about and didn’t feel added anything to the story itself.

The middle part of my stories are like very thick oil paintings.  You add layers and layers of “paint” to your work, sometimes burying sections/parts you did completely.  It is at this time I become my own worst critic and strive to do better with each word I add.

And it can be absolutely, positively, maddening.

But that’s not to say its always like that.  Some days are better than others and sometimes things “flow” and I make a lot of progress.

When all that work and frustration is done and I hold my latest book in my hand and look at my shelf and see all the other books I’ve written and know deep in my heart I’ve created the absolute best work I could…it makes me feel incredibly proud.

I hate writing -at least some times- but boy oh boy do I love having written.

Corrosive Knights 1/21/14 Update

Each day brings me closer and closer to finishing the fifth book in my Corrosive Knights saga.  As of yesterday, 1/20/14, I finished the edits on the fifth draft of this fifth novel in the series, printed it up, and as of today I’m onto the sixth draft.

Corrosive MACN & Coming Soon

How many more drafts will this novel take?  That’s the question, isn’t it?

At this point, I’m comfortable in saying the book may require no more than between two and four drafts.  The later number may sound scary considering the time it takes me to do each new draft, but most of the major plot issues/contradictions/rewrites have been resolved, leaving behind smaller plot points or descriptions which I’ll address now.  I’m on the verge of moving from reworking things to simply tidying up.  Or, as the late Elmore Leonard so appropriately stated, giving readers the stuff they want to read and getting rid of the stuff they don’t.

It’s a lot of work but trust me, its going to be good.


Fast & Furious 6 (2013) a (mildly) belated review

Until very recently, I was never a big fan of the Fast & Furious movies.  The first movie was essentially a car-centric remake of Point Break with the late Paul Walker in the Keanu Reeves role and Vin Diesel playing the Patrick Swayze part.

I think I saw one other Fast & Furious film from that point on, 2 Fast 2 Furious (didn’t think all that much of it) and pretty much skipped the others until catching Fast & Furious 5, the film that obviously preceded this one.

F&F 5 proved highly entertaining even if not pushing the limits of the believable.  The interactions between the characters and the element of “the heist” proved an interesting mix and I found the film very entertaining.  When Fast & Furious 6 came out last summer, I was eager to see it but, as with many films I hope to see, would have to wait for the video release.  In the meantime, the film did gangbusters at the box office and appeared to further solidify the series as a great action/adventure saga.

Would I find this sixth film as entertaining as the fifth?

Sadly, no.

Right off the bat, I know I’m swimming against the tide here (Rotten Tomatoes has the film scoring a genuinely impressive 70% positive among critics and an even more impressive -if not outright stunning– 84% positive among audiences), but F&F 6 left me cold.

I think a big part of the reason is because I enjoyed the fifth film as much as I did and was hoping the people working on this one would give us another pretty well written bit of entertainment.  In this case, though, the story is super sloppy with only one admittedly really creative element: The F&F group goes up against their dopplegangers, another group of racing hellions who are stealing high tech military equipment.

Unfortunately, that element is mentioned and ultimately never really dealt with to any great degree.  Like the heroes, the villain(s) of the piece are woefully underwritten, including one that is meant as a “surprise” yet whose revelation of such (I don’t want to get into spoilers) truly comes out of left field and makes not a lick of sense after what’s come before.  Anyway, the villains “look” like the F&F group and do F&F type crimes but that’s about as far as the similarities go.  Their target is a component of something that should have been called the “MacGuffin“, the last piece of a greater computer whole that does something really, really bad.  Truly, I can’t even recall what the heck the bad thing was.

The gang is brought back together by Federal Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson looking really scary pumped up…seriously, I’m worried about him.  Being that muscular can’t be good for you, can it?) to take on this gang of mysterious and super-efficient thieves with one wrinkle already alluded to in the previous movie: The bad guys somehow have the character of Lefty (Michelle Rodriguez) in their group.  This is significant as Lefty, Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) girlfriend, was thought dead.

The mission, thus, has two goals: Stop the bad guys before they get the last component to their MacGuffin and get Lefty back to the fold.

What follows, naturally, is plenty of gravity defying stunts and action.  But the action sequences this time around veer into the truly absurd.  At one point Hobbs jumps out of a very fast moving car onto another that is at least two stories below him.  Hobbs does this successfully without so much as suffering one broken bone.

Later in the film, Toretto one-ups Hobbs by slamming his car against a bridge railing, flying at least a zillion feet through the air, catching someone else flying through the air in the other direction and smashing against a car which apparently amounts to falling into a bundle of extra-fluffy pillows.  The person Toretto saves asks him afterwards something to the effect of “How did you know that car would be there to break our fall”?

Imagine that…in this alternate F&F universe a metal and glass car can actually break your fall!

And don’t even get me started about the Runway-That-Never-Ends.

Some time ago a Hollywood figure (sadly, I don’t remember who) said that when making an action film which features considerable stunt work, one should go about 30% over what can be done in “real life”.  In other words, your stunts should amaze the audience yet make them think they could/might happen in real life.  With F&F 6, the “unbelievable” factor was pushed to 500% (Or, in Spinal Tap lingo, waaaay past 11) and that proved tough for me to swallow.

In the end, I found F&F 6 a disappointment because a) the script simply wasn’t as engaging as the fifth movie’s and b) the overblown stunts proved too difficult to swallow.

There was, of course, one other element that may well have affected the overall experience, and that was the presence of Paul Walker.

As everyone who is a fan of the films knows by now, Mr. Walker died in a tragic car accident recently (He was on break from filming this movie’s sequel, Fast & Furious 7).  I suspect seeing F&F 6 in theaters and before Mr. Walker’s death is probably a very different experience from seeing it after, which is of course how I saw it.

Those “unbelievable” stunts that bothered me so may well have been even more unbelievable when in the back of my mind I knew what happened to Mr. Walker.  Perhaps if I had seen the film before his tragic accident, my negative reaction might have been lessened.

We’ll never know.

But as it stands, F&F 6 proved a disappointment and, despite glowing reviews from others, I cannot recommend this film.  A pass.