The Summer(s) of Stephen King [Remote Control Freak]

When I was 18, I moved to a new city. After finding a job, the next thing I did was get a library card. That summer I made it a point to read every single Stephen King book on the shelves (that I hadn’t already read). It took me about a year, but I managed to do it, so you might say that I take Stephen King pretty seriously. We won’t talk about how that next summer he got hit by a truck and lost all ability to write a good story. We won’t talk about that. I guess we’ll have to because Under the Dome is one such story. It’s only fair to mention that if you haven’t read a Stephen King novel, but have watched the movies based on them – cut the guy a break. His stories do not always translate well to screen. I was going to say they rarely have, but then I remember Carrie, Misery, The Running Man, The Green Mile, Stand By Me, The Shining, and my all time favorite, The Shawshank Redemption. So ok, a good percentage of his books make good movies. Hell, even the miniseries IT was fantastic for a miniseries in the 90’s. And it’s a cult freaking classic. But let’s not forget the absolute failures. Sleepwalkers, Maximum Overdrive, The Langoliers, Tommyknockers (which is my all time favorite of his novels). Damn this guy is rich. Ok so some of his books translate well and some don’t. Maybe the reason certain stories work is because they are based in character. They look more at the people in the stories and their individual motivations from within – rather than crazy supernatural happenings that either can’t be explained, or are just plain weird. The Shining and Carrie are examples of a little of both at play, but we all were far more fascinated with the people than whatever was driving them crazy. Admit it. When you get into “other realm” territory on a grand scale, it always works so much better in our own imagination than it does on screen. At least when it comes to the crazy stuff Mr. King comes up with. Under the Dome falls more into the category of the former. It is very character focused, though not yet character driven. So far it falls victim to the one thing that Stephen King miniseries (and sometimes movies) usually fail from. Too much story to work into a short amount of time. There are so many different back stories and focal characters that it’s hard to care about any one of them at this point. Or sometimes to even know or realize how they all come together. Mix that with the dozens of suspicious things they were all up to – and it’s just too much story to shove into an hour long episode and still drive the plot forward. Perhaps that’s a matter of direction, or screenwriting, or poor vision of the overall work. I don’t know because I never read the book. There became a serious lack in quality writing since his brain injury back in 1999. I’ll give props to the guy, he just keeps going and going – but I think that’s more because he’s a writer and he can’t not write or he won’t know who he is anymore. And people will continue to buy his books because he’s Stephen King. I won’t because I can’t suffer through another one of them in a hopeful attempt that one might actually be good. No offense Steve, love ya. Not that reading the book in any way influences the watching of the show. If anything, it’s better to have not read it because it’s going to veer off course from the original framework at some point if it hasn’t already. Look at Dexter and True Blood. It will have to in order to maintain...

UNDER THE DOME mini-review and SHINING sequel trailer [Procrastinate on This!]...

Did anyone else watch UNDER THE DOME last night? What did you think? I tried and failed to read the book, so I was just happy it didn’t take 100+ pages of discovering the dome from multiple viewpoints just to get started. Overall, I enjoyed it, appreciated the diverse cast, and look forward to seeing how it unfolds as a one-off summer series. Plus, one of my favorite comic book writers, Brian K. Vaughn, (SAGA, Y: THE LAST MAN) wrote the teleplay, so I’m definitely in it for the long haul. If you have an Amazon Prime account, you can watch the current episode for free, starting this Friday, June 24th, and every Friday after that. Nice. Meanwhile, here’s the book trailer for DOCTOR SLEEP, the sequel to THE SHINING, which debuted during last night’s live episode....

Read to Me [Tall Drink of Nerd – Book Week]

My parents read books to me. They were pretty busy people, Dad was a farmer and ranch hand, working up to 22 hours a day, 7 days a week. Mom had five kids to care for out in the middle of the country, but they read to me. Since I was the fifth of those five kids, and a late surprise at that, I’m pretty sure my brothers and sisters read to me as well. It’s time to thank them all for giving me a love of story that has lasted my entire life. I don’t remember much about the first few years, but there is a tale my Mom likes to share of how I sat at my second birthday party and “read” The House that Jack Built. Because I had carried it everywhere with me and insisted that my family read it to me so many times, I had memorized the words and when to turn the pages. That might be a bit of a stretch of my Mother’s pride in an exaggeration, but I like that the legend has floated through my life with me, as a part of my origin myth as a reader. Most of my reading was unsupervised after the age of seven. I remember discovering Salem’s Lot when I was in the 4th grade. While it totally freaked me out and made me terrified of the dark forever (yes, still to this day) I got hooked on Stephen King. I read a lot of the classics too, but lost myself in the worlds that the horror master created. Until my early 20’s I bought every book he wrote on the day it was released. Around that time, I discovered Clive Barker. Clive’s work came to me the way...

Movie Night, Sharing the Familiar [Secret Life of an Expat]

Last night I forced M to watch Stand by Me. I say forced because, it was already 10 pm, and we’d just watched Pirates of the Caribbean, At World’s End, full of squid-faced special effects and swashbucklery. But after that I wanted something, I don’t know, familiar? If I had been in the states, I would have been happy to turn on the TV and sit through a rerun of Law and Order, but in France, I went to my pile of DVDs from the library. Knowing nothing about the film but what he read on the DVD jacket (1959, four boys go on a camping trip to find a dead body in the woods), M wrinkled his nose and said “Okay, but don’t be mad if I fall asleep.” I said we only had to watch half of it, I was just craving something familiar. Stand by Me, directed by Rob Reiner, tells the tale of four, twelve year old, small town boys who walk 20 miles on train tracks to see the body of a dead boy in the woods. It came to theaters when I was twelve years old myself. It was especially popular among twelve year old girls for its casting: Will Wheaton as the thoughtful future writer boy, River Phoenix as the misunderstood hoodlum with a heart of gold, Corey Feldman as the war obsessed son of a crazy WWII vet and Jerry O’Connell as the wimpy, fat kid who knows the location of the dead body. A young, hot, Keifer Sutherland is their nemesis, and Richard Dreyfuss’s gravelly voice narrates the thing. The issues these boys were struggling with were far beyond anything I would ever know, but I still cried with them, and there is enough suspense...