Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bonus Post: The Notebook Reloaded

Hello, Readers.  Happy Notebook anniversary.  Thanks to Lincee at, you have a bonus post from both of us this week, albeit a partially recycled one.  

Ten years.  Yes.  It’s been ten years since Ryan went from a Gosling to a full-blown Goose.  It’s hard for me to believe that the pinnacle of chick movies, The Notebook, is ten years old.  It’s even harder for me to believe that I’m sitting here in my precious free time writing about it.


In my experience women fall into three categories when it comes to this movie.  They are as follows:

1.              The Notebook is the most romantic story ever.  I cry sweet yet sad tears of joy each time I see Noah and Allie's undying love (notwithstanding the fact that she cheats on her doting fiancé).

2.              Ryan Gosling is hot and I’ve seen the movie but don’t really care for it.  (This is the minority view)

3.              I haven’t seen The Notebook because I’ve been busy practicing my softball skills . . . with my girlfriend. 

As with any Nicholas Sparks’ story, it’s horribly sappy, marginally believable, and features a female lead perfect for Rachel McAdams.  There are lots of water-based metaphors and a pathological devotion to the premise that there's truly only one man for every woman; particularly women who look like Rachel McAdams.

Incidentally, Mrs. Some Guy looks  a bit like Rachel McAdams.  Maybe I'm into this movie more than I'd like to admit.  Annnyyyhooo. . .    

Back to the movie.  

After a long run around Town Lake (now Lady Bird Lake) one innocuous 2011 afternoon I sat drinking water in my house flipping aimlessly around the channels.  I’m not the kind of guy who sits and watches Sportscenter for an entire weekend, so the boredom brought on by the realization that I pay $200.00 per month for 1800 channels of nothing was beginning to migrate toward anger.  Lo and behold, I happened upon the beginning scene of The Notebook. Admittedly curious, I hit the record button and decided to watch it. 

After watching it from start to finish. I called up my good friend and, unbeknownst to me at the time, dyed-in-the-wool Notebook believer, Lincee Ray.

LR:  What are you doing?

DP:  I’m going to write a review of The Notebook.

LR:  ……

DP:  I said, I’m going to write a review of The Notebook.

And that’s now it started.  Below is a redacted portion of my April 2011 post entitled I Drink from the Holy Grail.  Click on over to Lincee’s rebuttal after you get done with my review.  Enjoy.   

(Insert blurry fade out and weird flashback music)

The Notebook Reloaded

Ideas juggling, I finished my run and came home to enjoy a cool shower and a giant glass of water. I read a little, opened some mail, checked some things online, and turned on the television. Flipping around, I eventually noticed the title of a movie I had heard a lot about but had never seen.

My inspiration peaked and I knew I had the subject of my next blog. Yes, Readers, I had come full circle from down in the dumps to up in the clouds and I decided right then and there to watch from start to finish with an open mind the Holy Grail of all chick movies. I would review The Notebook.

Disclaimer: Look, I realize that it’s my job here to keep you entertained. Sometimes that involves blatant pandering to the audience and sometimes it involves me just saying “f*ck it” and writing what I want. I realize that the movie is one that evokes a lot of emotions in women. In fact, after tipping my hand and telling a couple of my female friends about my intent to write about it this week, one of them actually became visibly annoyed at the fact that I might attempt to slaughter the movie, which in her mind anyway, would lead to the utter destruction of true love itself. If you’re in the same camp, never fear, I’m certain Lincee Ray at will resurrect whatever I tear down.

For those of you who have never seen the 2004 movie—I’m probably speaking to my male readers here—it’s a story set in the 1940’s that focuses around a lumber yard worker named Noah Calhoun and a jobless rich girl named Allie Hamilton. The narration takes place in the present day at an old folks home where an old man reads the love story to a forgetful old woman. We soon learn that the old folks are, in fact, Noah and Allie in the waning years of their lives.

Noah reads to Allie in hopes that her dementia will subside long enough for a moment of clarity so he can have her again, if not for just a few minutes. The entire thing is based on the book by Nicholas Sparks. Normally, I prefer a book over a movie, but I didn’t read it in this case. I have no opinion on what type of writer he is, nor do I care for purposes of this post. This one is about the movie.

The movie begins with a soft music and some guy rowing on a lake at sunrise while some old broad looks knowingly out the window as if she was trying to remember where she’d seen geese before. I was already bored stiff.

The guy from the Rockford Files comes into her room at the old folks’ home and offers to read to her but the cranky old lady refuses. Frankly, I would have wished her a good day, told her to enjoy her applesauce and water from a plastic cup and bendy straw and left to go play shuffle board on the quad in hopes of hooking up with a lucent sixty-something for one last roll in the hay.

Regardless, Jim Rockford ignores her bitching and begins to read to her about a guy named Noah and a girl named Allie as we flash back to the early ‘40’s before Pearl Harbor was bombed.

Noah is played by Ryan Gosling. He’s basically a blonde version of Keanu Reeves when it comes to his range as an actor. He’s wooden, expressionless, and boring. However, he dresses like Brad Pitt, apparently works in a lumberyard, and immediately wants to have sex with Allie when he sees her. The guy who plays “E” on Entourage is his best buddy and despite also dressing like Brad Pitt, he’s basically “E” in The Notebook. He tells Noah that Allie and her hoity toity friends are out of his league.

Allie is played by Rachel McAdams who—with the exception of that horrible psycho on a plane movie—plays the same character in every movie, including Wedding Crashers. She’s pretty, virginal but not innocent, and was properly cast. They could have picked someone with bigger cans, but hey, she’ll do. Allie is happy, on summer vacation in Seabrook, South Carolina, and free of responsibility. Ignoring the fact that rich, spoiled girls can never be made whole by the man they marry, Noah decides to c*ck block her date and ask her out.

Noah butts into Allie’s date and Allie’s date sits there like a pansy in a flowerbed despite his date being openly hit on by Noah. Perhaps her date was bored with him as well. At any rate, Noah climbs the Ferris wheel where Allie and her date are riding and proceeds to hang from the ride one handed until she agrees to go out with him.

Whatever. If I had been Allie’s date Noah would have been forced to swallow his Brad Pitt hat long before the stunt on the Ferris wheel. Also, if Allie had agreed to go on a date with him while I was shelling out cash for carnival rides and Ferris wheels, she would have been walking her romantic ass all the way home. Romantic moment or not, dance with the one who brought you, Allie. Trolling for men while you’re on a date is not cool; especially in front of your date.

In a very Danny and Sandy-esque fashion, Noah and Allie proceed to gallivant around Seabrook for the entire summer. Despite having a back breaking job in the lumber yard and apparently no money, Noah manages to find time for daytime walks, bike rides, and picnics as he and Allie play a perpetual game of grabass until we learn from Jim Rockford that they fell madly in love. The old lady remains cranky but interested. She bitches some more at James Garner as the stereotypical overweight black nurse enters to give him his medicine before he continues reading. He should have reminded her that Silence is Golden. Either that or he could have reminded her that Duct Tape is Silver. She finally shuts up, preferring golden silence to silver duct tape and he continues reading.

We meet Noah’s affable father played by Sam Shepard, a real life Pulitzer Prize winner, and he makes Allie some pancakes while recounting embarrassing stories about Noah’s speech problem. At least we had a frame of reference for his lack of personality, I thought.

Eventually, Allie’s rich parents come from Atlanta to retrieve their daughter and discover that she’s dating some poor lumberyard worker who dresses like Brad Pitt and acts like Keanu Reeves. Dad and his weird mustache don’t care too much but her domineering, judgey mother does and she and Noah’s plans at happiness are destined to be thwarted.

We later learn that mom fell in love with some guy from the lumber yard but married dad because—all things considered—he was a nice enough guy in spite of his weird mustache and was dripping with cash. Frankly, that scenario was the most believable in the movie. I found her hatred of Noah and her assertion of him as “trash” to be inconsistent with her character. She fell in love with a poor lumber yard guy and ditched the guy for cash; a move she apparently made peace with but regretted for a lifetime. Calling Noah “trash” diminishes the validity of that relationship and her belief in the true love that this whole thing is supposed to be about—in my mind anyway. Allie has family money and is free to pursue her heart. I have no idea why her mother wouldn’t support that. Perhaps it’s because the book was written by a man. It seems that the father should have been the one with the problem and not the mother. Annnyyyyhoooo . . .

Noah takes Ali to a dilapidated plantation home called Windsor Mansion and exposes her to the dangers of unstable ceilings and flammable, brittle wood. He tells her of his dream of restoring the place if only he had the money to do it. Then they stand across from each other and undress before “E” sounds the alarm that Allie’s parents are back in town. Dude. He put up with bike rides, picnics, and flowers all summer and didn’t get any? I began to see why this movie was so sad.

Noah and Allie eventually fight and regretfully break up before her parents haul her spoiled, rich ass back to her mansion in Atlanta. Noah broods a bunch and eventually enlists in the army after hearing about the Pearl Harbor attack. How romantic. 

Despite undoubtedly being stripped of all his belongings and identity and being shipped off to basic training until eventually ending up on a packed warship and traveling overseas to be placed in the gun sights of angry Aryans vying for world domination and watching “E” from Entourage die on the battlefield, Noah manages to write (and mail) Allie one pristinely penned love letter per day for 365 days. After no response for a year, his pen gives up—but alas, his heart does not. Come on. I laughed to myself at the thought of Noah having the wrong zip code or house number. We eventually learn that her lumber yard-whoring mother has been intercepting all of them.

While Noah is dodging shrapnel, killing Germans, and watching his best friend die, Alli poontangs around the Atlanta social scene with Lon Hammond, a rich guy she met while pretending to volunteer at some place for wounded soldiers. She loves Noah so much that—get this--she boozes it up with the rich folks at fancy galas and eventually gets engaged to Lon Hammond and his money. True love, my ass.

Noah returns home to Atlanta and sees Alli poontanging around with an engagement ring on her finger. Heartbroken, he returns to Seabrook where his dad fortuitously tells him that he’s sold his house so that Noah can buy and renovate the Windsor Mansion. His dad kicks the bucket unexplainably and Noah miraculously and singlehandedly renovates the entire plantation into a perfectly finished and manicured piece of artwork in less time than it takes him to grow a beard and appear Amish despite having limited funds and a new war-widowed girlfriend who undoubtedly insisted on picking out the colors for the walls, drapery, and all of the bedding.

All by himself? Hell, the guy didn’t even ask a contractor for a rough estimate. I asked a guy for a rough estimate once. He kicked me in the balls and then quoted me the price. I’ll be here all week, folks.

Noah even manages to include a furniture shop for himself and a painting studio for Allie complete with the symbolic blank canvas awaiting her return. I assumed the canvas symbolized Gosling’s absence of depth rather than Noah’s undying desire for a blank future with Allie.

While getting her ass kissed in her wedding dress, Allie sees Noah’s picture in the paper next to his high dollar house and faints because she believes he is now Amish. She bathes in her veil and eventually meets her rich, understanding, good looking, tolerant, well-mannered, doting, successful, non-possessive, supportive, giant ring-buying, sensitive fiancé at his office where he happily takes a few moments away from earning a living so she can have the finest things to which she’s become accustomed in order tell him that she’s going to Seabrook to poontang around there for a bit. Incredibly, the guy agrees. Bull. Sh*t.

Allie fills the car her fiancé bought her with gas purchased by money he gave her and heads to Seabrook in search of Noah. She arrives at the new house and after faking like she’s not there to sleep with him she and Noah have a rekindling of sorts as he respectfully recognizes her pending nuptials and opts for a friendship instead. Sparing her the details of his arduous battlefield missive writing, he instead throws her in a rowboat and takes her to see a flock of digitally created geese in a swamp and pretends like they are romantic symbols of their love rather than the angry, noisy, disease carrying fowl that they really are. Allie sits there in her sun dress in amazement as Noah overcomes his sore, pre-arthritic joints and his post traumatic stress disorder so he can transport her spoiled ungrateful ass across the lake. Meanwhile, her fiancé continues to work in anticipation of a family with Allie.

On the way back to the perfectly renovated mansion Noah confesses that he is not, in fact, Amish even though he dresses like he is, wears a beard like an Amish person, and builds wooden furniture. He tells Allie that he’s dedicated his every waking moment since that day on the Ferris wheel to her happiness, even at the cost of his own. As it begins to pour Allie has the balls to drop a “why didn’t you write me” and Noah eventually realizes that he should have used FedEx with a signature requirement rather then relying upon regular mail.

Allie then makes the conscious decision to cheat on her rich, understanding, good looking, tolerant, well-mannered, doting, successful, non-possessive, supportive, giant ring-buying, sensitive fiancé and ends up getting slammed against an antique cupboard while ripping off Noah’s wet, Amish clothes and throwing them on the newly finished wood floor where they undoubtedly soaked into the finish and ruined that section of the wood before Noah ravishes her in the same bed that he ravished the war widow in the day before. Details.

I’m certain that while Allie was painting topless in the studio Noah built her with nothing more than his bare hands and the labor of his undying love Noah was downstairs the following morning sanding the water damage out of the floor in order restain and reseal it. Eventually, her mother and her fiancé figure it out and we avoid the messy conversation about betrayal, dishonesty, infidelity, and self-centeredness that was appropriate. Instead, we get a watered down version of her rich, understanding, good looking, tolerant, well-mannered, doting, successful, non-possessive, supportive, giant ring-buying, and sensitive fiancé actually being—well, understanding, tolerant, non-possessive, supportive, and sensitive about it all.

We cut back to the modern day where we see that James Garner has suffered a series of heart attacks while Allie has drifted aimlessly in and out of interest in the story. We get a glimpse of their children and grand children as the old Noah tells them that he’s not leaving Allie alone. Eventually, she recognizes him for a couple of minutes and they share a dance before she freaks out and has to be sedated. He ends up sneaking into her hospital room and lying in bed with her and, after they agree that their love and conquer all, they die side by side holding hands and are discovered by the stereotypical overweight black nurse the following morning.

It’s at this point in the movie that we’re all supposed to have a tear in our eye and a tissue in our hand reveling in the presence of true, undying love. That’s not what ran through the cynical, macho, uncompromisingly male side of my brain. Basically, The Notebook is Forrest Gump except it’s not funny and Noah is not mentally challenged—arguably. 

The point of The Notebook is that no matter how much you love a woman she will inevitably go crazy and drive you to an early death. The entire movie is about a spoiled little rich girl who always got her way.  

Picture this movie:

A poor, attractive, hard working girl from a single parent home with no money ventures out to the state fair where she meets the man of her dreams who is from a well-to-do family vacationing for the summer on the rich side of her town. They fall madly in love and spend a summer sharing the simple things that make life worth living. Eventually, the man’s parents send him away from the town and the woman is heartbroken. She spends hours upon hours writing letters in hopes of his return. She pines for him relentlessly seeking solace in no one and dedicating her entire existence to the hope of his return.

He goes to school, lives the fast life and beds dozens of women while living off his family money. He eventually falls in love with another woman with family money who supports him and buys him everything he wants. He accepts her affection and proposes a marriage of convenience only to return to town years later and pray on the affections of the dedicated woman. He lies to his friends and family and moves into the woman’s house where she has kept a room for him despite his lack of contact. He cheats on his fiancé and eventually calls of the wedding so he can be with the other woman.

Not the same movie, is it?

Double Standard. If a woman does this it’s considered “romance” or “undying love.” If a man does the same thing, he’s a cheater and a louse. It’s along the same lines as when a group of women leave their children and their husbands at home in order to get together to drink pinot grigio and pick out sex toys at a friend’s house. Can you imagine having a husband come home and announce that he was leaving for the evening to hang out with his buddies and use some of the family money to buy a couple of sex toys? I suppose that’s just the way the non-renovated plantation crumbles.

I’ll reluctantly admit that I found the movie both interesting and thought provoking. I really did. Yes, it was sappy, unrealistic from a practical point of view, cheesy at times, and very chick oriented. However, the larger picture is that true love never dies and that every woman wants to feel as loved and secure as Allie ultimately ended up feeling—everything else be damned.

I get that and I’d venture a guess that most men would too if forced to admit it. As the lonely war widow told Noah, “a woman knows when a man looks into her eyes and sees someone else.” The same is true for a man. And as the old Noah said to his children, “that's my sweetheart in there. Wherever she is, that's where my home is.” That, too, is the truth. The entire movie reminded me of an old Vern Gosdin song titled Chiseled in Stone. That song takes two and a half minutes, not two and a half hours. Download it and listen. Let me know what you think.

Well, there it is: My take on The Notebook. I hope you enjoyed it. Until next week, take care of yourselves and remind someone that you love them. In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be growing a beard and remodeling my mansion singlehandedly. 

That was my 2011 post.  

You know, upon reflection the more I think about it, the more I think I just might be inextricably linked to this damn movie.  Check out the dude Mrs. Some Guy and I saw in Napa Valley last year.  I think Noah Calhoun was following us.  

Oh. My. God.  I'm James Marsden. 


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Andi Episode 5: Merci Bull Sh*t

Hello, Readers.  Yea, I know.  Another broken promise.  Ironically, the reason I break this promise is so I can keep all of the other ones ahead of it.  You know, the ones that pay the bills.  Believe me, if this little project paid the bills, I'd write every day.  Justice never sleeps, folks, and lately neither have I.

As long as I'm airing my bad news, let me share some other bad news.  I watched last night's episode but--for the first time in the history of the blog--got so bored with the show, I stopped taking notes.  That left me a bit despondent realizing that I'm tasked with the duty of entertaining you but I've now embraced the fact that I'm unencumbered by convention.  In short, I'm going to wing it this week and I'm excited about where it will take me.

But first, a couple of housekeeping items.

First, I'm sure all of you fans are painfully aware that the 10th anniversary of the release of The Notebook is upon us.  Nicholas Sparks is the J.K. Rowling of chick books and--unfortunately for every straight man in America--he shows no signs of slowing down.  


For those of you who have been with Lincee and me for a while now, you'll recall that I wrote a post about The Notebook from a guy's perspective in 2011.  That post constitutes the one time in our entire friendship when Lincee has been mad at me.  Rather than lash out, she wrote a point-by-point response to my attack of the Holy Grail that is The Notebook.  In honor of the anniversary, we're going to link to those posts on Sunday, the big 10th anniversary.  Revisit and enjoy.  We look forward to another vigorous debate.

Second, check this out.

She's got a memoir.  You know, like Churchill and Nabokov.  

Good for her for cashing in.  I'm a capitalist and I don't blame her for taking it where she can get it.  That is, after all, the same situation she put herself in with Ben, isn't it?  If nothing else, she's consistent.  Hell, if I had sex with Ben Flanjik I'd want to parlay that into some quick coin as well.  She's a published author and I'm not.  Justice might not sleep but it apparently takes a nap every now and then.    

Enjoy your filthy money, Courtney.  You earned it.  With all that new cash you'll have no problem stocking up on cranberry juice and AZO Standard.

Incidentally, I love the fact that 90% of you get that joke, the other 10% are Googling it, and all 100% of you are wondering how in the hell I know that.  Annnnyyyyhoooo . . . 

As for the last three shows, where do I begin?  

How about here?  Andi sucks.  

Look, I know there are a lot of you who have commented that she's "real" and "down to earth" and one of you even commented that she's the "most stunning bachelorette of all time."  Let's not get carried away.  She's marginally attractive at best.  

Also, I realize the female psyche is not as attuned to recognizing the characteristics of a ball buster, but trust me, Andi is a ball buster.  Her "would you tell me if I was your wife," comment is a more subtle example but if there's any doubt just go back to her post Fantasy Suite rant about Juan Pablo last season.  

I'd point to her "career" choice as another example of her domineering personality, but she's apparently quit her job and moved to L.A. full time based upon an article I saw on TMZ yesterday.  So much for saving the streets of Atlanta.  She's a lawyer like Ali worked for Facebook or Ashely was a dentist.  Maybe Jake Pavelka can fly her home from L.A. to visit her . . . oh wait. . . .  

Again, I can't blame her for taking the opportunity but I do blame her for not just calling it what it is.  This is yet another example of my long time assertion that Wes Hayden is the only person to ever go on this show and tell the truth.  Irony is pretty ironic sometimes.  

Group Dates.  Who made the executive decision that every group date this season has to be a humiliating, degrading exercise?  Strippers, karaoke, and mimes all in a public place?  Frankly, I can't blame Nick for feeling a little self conscious on the mime date.  What a beating that was.  They might as well have dressed them like German soldiers and had them march down the Champ-Elysees based on the reaction they got from the locals.  

Macklemore's Meltdown and Marquel's Double Standard.  There are few things more annoying to me than the inevitable Alpha Male, macho d*ck measuring contest featured on every season of this show accompanied by the vapid assertions of what it means to "be a man." 

All of these guys primp and self-maintain more than most women I know.  Look, I don't want to perpetuate a stereotype but there's a reason stereotypes exist.  There are certain things that make men men rather than caricatures of men.  Google 80's hair bands and tell me I'm wrong.      

Cody, who heretofore seemed like a nice enough guy, albeit, as cheesy as a French cheese factory, got all macho on Nick last night about--well, I'm not really sure what about.  The best part of that entire exchange is how calm Nick remained and how the pheromone filled Cody seemed confused that his chest beating act didn't phase the intellectually superior Nick.  

You could almost see him thinking "this usually works" as he was acting like a bi-pedal hominid.  I would have voted for orangutan based upon his color.  I was waiting for him to throw his own feces at Nick in an attempt to establish dominance.  

You can take the meathead out of the gym but you can't take the gym out of the meathead.  Stick to mime puns, Cody.  They suit you better.  Orange is as orange does.  Oh, and he still looks like Macklemore on steroids.  

J.J. is apparently an Instigator-preneur as well as a Pantsapreneur.  For the second week in a row his Jake Johansen-esque self has stirred up false drama as he sat on the sidelines and watched it unfold.  

This week he accused Andrew of sort of maybe possibly but not for certain referring to Marquel as a "blackie" in the first rose ceremony.  Why he waited a month to reveal that is suspicious at best and about as transparent as Andi's physical infatuation with Josh at worst.  

As apparently hurtful as that was to Marquel, wasn't this the same guy that brought a black and white cookie to the first cocktail party and made it a point to ask Andi if she preferred the black icing?  As arrogant as Andrew comes across, I have to side with him on this one.  I'll give Marquel credit for letting him answer the allegation but the entire thing was as staged and poorly executed as Andi's disastrous rose ceremony hairdo.  

Marquel was one of the good guys this season and I have to agree that she made a mistake in letting him go.  Wanna bet he's the next Bachelor?  We'll see.  

Josh M.  Look, this is going to be a controversial statement for some of you, but hear me out.  Josh is a weasel.  He's clearly in love with himself and that whole "I'm so smitten I just can't speak" act has been wearing on me worse than Cody's haircut all season.  

In classic twenty-something female fashion, Andi is ignoring all of the warning signs.  She's infatuated and that's a dangerous place to be with a dude like that.  He's in my Top 2 but he'll dump her before she dumps him.  If I'm wrong, I'll fly to Atlanta on my dime and mime an apology to his face.  Then again, "Josh" has the same vowel sound as "Chach."  Memo to Andi, if you "can't seem to get a read" on a guy, you already have.  Caveat Emptor.    

On a positive note, she can add "Former" to her job title now.  At least they have one thing in common.  

Final 5---My prediction anyway.  Nick, Josh, Brian, Marcus, Chris. She pretty much cleaned house last night with respect to the alleged drama causers showing that she's not F-ing around when it comes to that type of nonsense.  All it's going to take is either a slip of the tongue or a rat in the bunch to reveal J.J. as the source of the drama and she'll figure out that Cody's orange tint and bleach blonde Macklemore cut simply won't cut it at the Dorfman household 'round Christmas time.  

Bachelor in Paradise.  Speaking of throwing feces, we all know this is a consolidated, filthier version of Bachelor Pad.  Frankly, that's all I know about it and I plan to keep it that way.  If I had to guess, that guy who "surprised" us in Episode 1 will be there as will chronic attention seekers like Michelle Money and her ilk.  Marquel is an obvious choice too.  

No, I'm not watching it and no I won't blog about it.  My sanity is important to me and I plan to hang on to it as long as I can.  If I want to watch a bunch of idiots run around aimlessly in search of something elusive that none of them will ever find I'll turn on Finding Bigfoot.  

Come to think of it, those 4 have a better chance of tackling that thing in the woods than the BIP cast has of finding true love.  

Short and sweet, but more thought provoking than usual this week, I hope.  My "real" life is busy right now.  Hopefully, it will slow down a bit before the big finale.  I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.  In the meantime, if you need me, I'll be writing my memoir.  DP