Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: stephen king

An Unexpected Classic Vampire Novel Has Been Discovered!

Sometimes you just uncover the best things when you allow the world to influence you, like a classic vampire novel just in time for Halloween!

Crazy thing. I went into this book not expecting much, just felt like I had to read it because I bought it and it was sitting on the shelf taunting me. “Chicken…you just don’t want to read me because I’m fat and you think I’ll ruin your number of books read this month statistics!” And then I swear it heaved a sigh and cried a bit each time I thumbed through the books on the shelf.

classic vampire novel

Besides, it was October and everyone else on Instagram was reading scary books so why not join in?!

I was a big Stephen King fan in high school, but the stories fell out of favor once I was out of school, then working and then raising kids. A few years ago, I stumbled across 11.22.63 one day and we watched the hell out of it. When I realized it was Stephen King book, I immediately bought it and started reading in the hopes of getting more story because I was a little confused. That’s when my Stephen King marathon began.

Sidenote: I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, these new limited series shows based on books (what we oldies used to call a mini-series) are awesome. So much better than traditional movies based on books because there’s so much more time to tell the whole story and all it’s threads, and better than the old “made for tv” mini-series because they put more money into them.

Reading the book after I’d seen the show wasn’t that helpful in this instance because in eight hours, they had no reason to skip parts of the story for time. This was one of the first books that I got because of a limited series show, and I’ve learned not to do it anymore. It’s a waste of (nearly 12 hours of reading) time and ($8 to $30 depending on the format) money for a story if you’ve seen the show already.

But…there are perfectly legit reasons to put in the effort to read and see both. The Stand was an example of that. I liked the new movie, loved reading the book and comparing how they presented the characters and story, and enjoyed seeing a bit of the old version as well. Besides, you do what makes you happy, you know? You don’t need a reason!

‘Salem’s Lot though…wow.

I knew nothing of this book when I bought it. I was just adding one more Stephen King Book to my TBR shelf. I heard it was a classic, so it jumped into my cart. I am slightly disappointed that I didn’t splurge for a better copy, though. This one is a Pocket Books edition: a small and cheap paperback, not for keeping on your library shelf. Once again…if I could turn back time…(sings her best Cher impersonation).

You guys…I didn’t know it was a classic vampire novel! Yes…even with the cover I have…it’s sad.

What?! I know! You know I LOVE vampire stories! And this one did not disappoint in any way. I’m sorry IT, but you need to move over. ‘Salem’s Lot is now my very favorite Stephen King book, possibly my favorite vampire story, but I haven’t re-read Bram Stoker’s in a long time (scribbles down note to do so soon).

It’s simply a classic thriller with twists that make it impossible to put down. I recently read that there is a new movie of it coming out in 2022, so I’m looking forward to seeing THAT. Maybe I’ll even go search out the 1979 mini-series for comparison. I watched the trailer for it online and tried hard not to giggle at it but…so cheesy!

Oh! One more thing! I’m still using Bookly for tracking my reading and it came up with this sweet little graphic when I clicked “finished” yesterday. I’m geeking out so hard over this app!

Have you read it? What did you think? Let me know in the comments. I’m dying to hear your thoughts! Pop back to my first post about the classic vampire novel, ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King: New Read, to read more of my thoughts on this book.

Hunger or Want: Achieving Maturity

“They have never known hunger or want, the people of this country. It has been two generations since they knew anything close to it, and even then it was like a voice in a distant room. They think they have known sadness, but their sadness is that of a child who has spilled his ice cream on the grass at a birthday party. There is no…how is the English?…attenuation in them. They spill each other’s blood with great vigor.”

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My first thoughts last year when I heard the government was shutting everything down due to Covid-19, was, “But I we have plans to go to Disneyland again next week, dammit!”

When schools shut down, I scoffed. I have no kids school age kids, and even if I did, I’m a stay-at-home mom. Kids at home means nothing to me. It only meant that my school employed friends didn’t have to work but still got paid.

When entertainment venues closed, I began to get worried. Living in Southern California, most of my friends work at various entertainment jobs. They were out of work for some time, and those jobs (since they aren’t government funded) didn’t keep paying.

And then the shelves at the grocery store became sparse, but there was food available, just not the food I went there looking for. My choices were somewhat limited and it bothered me.

That quote from ‘Salem’s Lot, when Barlow meets Corey on the road, reminded me of this.

Here we are, now three generations removed from the last World War. And he’s correct. Even then it was “like a voice in a distant room.” While we sent people into battle and our supplies at home began to be scarce and rationed, the actual fighting was in other countries. Our homes were not being bombed, our cities we not being invaded. We were not being rounded up and put on trains.

But I don’t think we, as a nation, are any different than any other. We are simply surrounded by different circumstances. Our young and resource rich nation, like few others, sits physically apart from others that might do battle with us. We have not had the experience that other nations have.

An uncertain future lies ahead of us, as it always has. What will North America look like when it has been populated and divided up for a thousand years as Western Europe has? What will it look like when it has been worked over for thousands of years as the rest of the world has? Will we divide up into smaller countries and fight amongst ourselves?

He said, “There is no attenuation in them.”

Attenuate: To make slender, fine, or small. To reduce in force, value, amount, or degree; weaken. To lessen the density of.

The United States has had nothing to attenuate it. In the grand scheme of things, as a nation, we are young and strong and virulent. Compared to the Western Old-World, we are children and children need time and experience to grow into maturity. It cannot be forced or coerced. It will happen in time.

Children raised in abundance and freedom are full of themselves for a time, but as they experience the world at their own pace, they mature naturally into generous, kind, and helpful adults. And so will Americans. Growing pains suck. We can’t sit and admonish and belittle each other, tearing each other apart at every turn, while we go through the maturation process. Like laying into a child for crying about spilled ice cream, it only makes it worse for everyone.

Choose love and patience with each other and wait on the natural process of maturing. It’ll come.

I believe this may be my new favorite Stephen King novel. Want to read more about it? Jump back to my first post, “‘Salem’s Lot: New Read” to join me!

The Stand by Stephen King: New Read

Seems appropriate, doesn’t it? “The Stand” by Stephen King is a re-read, but I don’t remember any of it other than “virus kills the world” and the feeling of “Wow! That was epic!” I read it back in high school (31 years ago), so don’t hold it against me that I can’t remember the book. Statute of limitations, man!

The Stand

Why didn’t I go get the book when our pandemic started 18 months ago, when someone mentioned that the whole thing seemed like the plot of a Stephen King novel? I guess I had other things to worry about and a long list of other books to read. Besides, I don’t think I really needed the imagination boost at the time.

So why pick it up now? Because the universe has brought it to me in the strangest of ways. A few weeks ago, we were looking for a new show to watch in the evenings and a friend recommended “Yellowstone.” For some reason, we thought it was on Paramount + and started the subscription, found that it wasn’t, but other interesting shows were, so we kept it. Then there was The Stand. I said, “Oh shit! I loved that book in high school. Don’t remember what it was about much other that virus kills the world.” We binged watched it and loved it.

I told my brother about it over the phone, and he said the 90’s one was WAY better, that he hated Whoopi Goldberg, but watched some of it anyway and it sucked. I thought, “If this one sucked and I liked it, I’m going to LOVE the old one!” Crazy thing but, I didn’t. I thought it was terrible. Maybe it’s a case of “the first one version you see of something is the one you love”?

Watching the old version, I thought, “I should read the book and see what’s different.” I ordered “The Stand – The Complete and Uncut Edition” used on Thriftbooks and I dove in as soon as it arrived. I don’t know what it is about Stephen King books, but I completely lose track of time when I’m reading them. The trouble is that I don’t read very fast, more like the pace of reading aloud in my head, and this 1164 page will take me well over 38 hours to read (there goes my book count on Goodreads). I’m a few chapters in and the difference is fascinating.

The first thing I noticed about the ’94 version of the movie, other than the old “made for tv” miniseries feeling, was that everyone in that movie was white. No surprise really because everyone in the book was white (so far). I’ve only gotten into the book as far as I got into the ’94 miniseries, Larry Underwood goes to his mom in New York and Nick Andros is at the jail with the guys that beat him up.

We started talking about this immediately, given the social climate of our own time. The new movie has a “multicultural” cast and not in a bad way. What’s a bad way? When you notice it. You know the difference. There’s a feel you get when the cast is just a little TOO diverse, you know. I can’t put my finger on that just yet.

The talk we had was over why the cast would be so different. I think it has less to do with racism and a lot more to do with marketing. The ’94 version was on live TV at certain time of day. It was made for the widest market at that timeslot, middle class white people watching tv for an hour or so after dinner and before bed. You want to identify with what you’re watching on tv. You want the characters and situations to reflect your version of the world. The producers want you to watch because they get paid by advertisers for your eyeballs. Makes sense.

Today things are different. Anyone of any social class can be watching at any time, so now they want to make shows that reflect a more diverse population so that more of us will watch it. It’s not nefarious, it’s marketing. I found the pronounced difference fascinating.

I don’t know yet which movie version follows the book more closely. So far, they both seem fairly accurate. The Stand was written in 1978 and set in the early 90’s, so the ’94 version may have been more accurate because of that. The 2020 version would have to be made more modern to make it feel like our time and not some past event.

Here’s something crazy I learned while doing a little research about the new movie. The had just finished the major filming in March 2020. Geez! Can you imagine? I just finished making a movie about a manmade virus that escapes and kills the world…switches on the news…oh shit…

Read more at Book vs Movie: Final Thoughts on The Stand

Bad TV. Great Book. Surprise!

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How many times have you read a book and then found out it would be a movie or tv series? Just about everyone that reads has had that experience and it’s rarely positive, right? We automatically anticipate that the movie will not measure up, even though we secretly hope that it will. How can it? Not only can a book’s several plot lines and depth of characters not easily be condensed into two or three hours, but we each conjure up our own visions of those characters and scenes that just don’t seem to compare when presented to us in visual form from someone else’s imagination.

Long, complicated books are being turned into some pretty decent limited series programs on things like Netflix and Amazon though. I’ve seeen several amazing shows that follow a book or series of books very closely and I’ve loved them. I do wish some of the historical fiction they are creating right now would focus more on the historical aspects and less of the sensationalism of graphic sex and violence, but I digress.

A few years ago, we started watching “Under the Dome” in the evenings and were sucked into the story. It’s an intriguing idea. A whole town cut off from the rest of the world by an invisible dome, like a giant glass jar was dropped over the top of it. What would happen? What would the world outside do? What would the trapped people do? And where in the world did it come from? This was why I kept watching, only to be completely disappointed by the end of the series, prompting the whole family to look around in disappointment when we realized it was over. It was like they only half tried to make a story.

And then I found out that it was based on a book by Stephen King, one of my very favorite authors. I hadn’t read anything new from him since I was in college. Was he really writing books this bad? Or did the tv producers ruin it? I couldn’t imagine a famous author letting someone do that to his story? Crazy part…I was so disappointed in the show that I just forgot all about it.

Fast forward a few years later and I’m at Barnes & Noble looking for fiction and I stumble across “Under the Dome” by Stephen King. It’s a fat book, of course! On the front cover was the review, “Seven words: The best yet from the best ever. – Lee Child.” Not from what I saw on TV! Well, I love him, so I gave him a chance to redeem himself.

While not the best book I’ve read by King, I still enjoyed the story very much. It was classic. Several storylines, several characters going through a bunch of typical things, with clues to the bigger story all along the way, leading to the thing that ties it all together. I loved it. At the end of each hour of reading, I could feel the air getting more and more stale, the slow building urgency of the whole town and every resident’s different reaction to the event. How in the world does he do that?!

Don’t worry. I won’t give away the ending! Let’s just say that it seems to me that the TV show wasn’t even trying to portray the big picture, the “lesson” we are supposed to learn from all this. It was a huge let down. And I’m not sure how anyone could have liked that show at all, unless just going through the motions of life, not trying to figure out the whys and hows is how they live their life and like to watch the same on TV. I know. It’s harsh. But damn. Really? Did anyone that wrote the show read the book? Or did they get the Cliff’s Notes version and go from there?

A classic example of “the book is better” and these days there really is no excuse for that other than laziness, in my oh so humble opinion. If you watched the TV show and want answers to all your questions, read the book. They’re in there. And it’s worth your time!

It’s Friday, my Friends!

There was no Friday post last week! Guess why?

It wasn’t because it was a holiday the night before…or wait…maybe it was. July 3rd and 4th were pretty darn fun in all the best kinds of ways: food, friends, good times. On Friday morning, I wasn’t sure if all the fun caught up to me or I had caught a virus. It could very well be that I caught a virus because the fun caught up to me. I woke up with a terrible sore throat and a fever and spent the next three days in bed reading a book. Oh! Poor me! If it weren’t for the worst sore throat and ear infection ever, I would have called it a “retreat.” Thanks to our fabulous urgent care and the miracle of antibiotics, I was still exhausted but up and at ‘em again on Monday! I’ll still have a sexy gravely voice for a week, but I’ll take it! The upside is that I finished three-quarters of “Under the Dome” over the weekend!

While I was laying in bed…dying…I considered getting up and writing my Friday post, but then thought better of it. I’ll just catch up later, I thought. I’ll be better tomorrow. And then suddenly it was Tuesday.

So here I am. You can’t catch up with life anyway, you can only pick up where you are!

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope your weekend is filled with adventure…even if you’re watching it on Netflix!

Thing I learned: There are amazingly interesting people on the internet! I joined a new Facebook group this week and have been devouring all its content for days. The people! Wow! So many interesting points of view, so many ideas, so much love and interest in being kind and supportive. It’s kinda hard not to invite them all over for coffee! I hear so much negativity about people on the internet, and I do understand it, but I have a feeling we’ve all been adjusting to the new medium and we’ll come out the other side a bit scarred from battle but wiser for the wear.

Thing I’m reading: “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters” by Tom Nichols. Ok. First of all, just the title of this book irritates me. And then when I started to read it, I started to better understand the idea of term “triggered.” Which made me want to read it more! He has some seriously great points to make and I’m understanding something about myself that I don’t like. I’m one of those “don’t tell me what to do” people and sometimes it’s not good for me or the people around me. One thing I started to think while reading it is that specialization is a good thing for society. I agree that division of labor makes everyone’s lives easier. We can’t all be experts at everything! But what do we do when lose trust in just about everyone around us? I’m hoping he has some answers to that by the end of this book!

Thing I heard: A new friend introduced me to a new bluegrass band, and while I’ve never been a big fan of the genre, this was interesting enough for me to listen to a whole album, “Yoder Mountain String Band.” Lucky for me, I have Amazon Music, so I downloaded a couple albums and have been snacking on their tunes as I drive the desert roads.

Thing I want to do: Focus! Oh, lord, please help me focus! Ever since I got back from our vacation, I feel like I’m in a million places at once; like a kid in a candy store, rushing from one bin to the next, shoving every piece into my mouth, my pockets, my bag, and running out before someone tells me no! What am I going to do about it? No idea. A friend shared a picture on Facebook yesterday that I was totally going to post myself and now I can’t because it will look like I’m just copying him! But I digress, again. The picture was simple, “Temporarily Closed for Spiritual Maintenance.” That’s what I need to do, close. I need to shut down social media, turn off my phone, and do some serious re-focusing. But then again, do I really need to? Maybe next week! At the moment, I’m having to much fun to change anything.

Picture of the week:

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This was unexpected! I’ve been trying to post one picture on Instagram every day. Why? No idea. It just seemed like fun. So, the sun was starting to go down and I hadn’t taken a good one that day and I went out into the yard looking for a subject. My yard is a wealth of photo subjects!

Right outside was a birdhouse my Mom and brought over years ago. I had stuck it up in the crook of a Joshua Tree. I seriously doubt any respectable bird would ever make his home there, but it looks pretty sitting there. It’s above my head, but I didn’t bother to get a step and try to take a good picture. I just lifted my phone over my head, pointed it in the approximate angle of the front door, and snapped. I came inside (out of this blasted heat) and posted it on IG. Done!

Here’s the funny part. A few minutes later, a friend commented “Inhabited! Excellent!” What was she talking about? I opened the picture and zoomed to find…a lizard staring out the front door! What?! Another friend said I should call it a “Beardie House.” It was hilarious and adorable!

There has to be some philosophical thing to learn here. Right? We really don’t know what we’re doing when we do it most times. We just point and shoot and share…who knows what magic we’ll find! But what if I hadn’t decided to post a picture a day? Or what if I was just decided, eh…who cares…I’ll skip it today?

Bird Box – Book Review!

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The first most terrifying book I ever read was Stephen King’s IT. My heart sped the entire time, culminating in the most horrifying “boss fight” I had ever read, before I even knew what a boss fight was. (for those older or non-gaming readers, a boss fight is the big battle at the end of a video game level.) When the mini-series came out (for those younger folks, that’s what we used to have before “Netflix Original Series”), I was so excited to get to see that same level of horror on the screen with actors I loved. Tim Curry, people! You couldn’t ask for a better Pennywise.

I have no idea why, but scary books and movies were my favorite “comfort food” growing up.

And then I saw the movie.

It wasn’t that the movie was bad. It was just that, for some reason this book just couldn’t translate onto the screen for everyone the same way Kujo could. The point of the whole book was that the monster was specific to you. It was what horrified you the most. Your own personal nightmare. To see it on the screen was a letdown. That was someone else’s nightmare. Watching it felt like waking up from a horrible dream and explaining it to your brother. “Then a spider chased me with a balloon and grandma laughed. It was just horrible, this feeling of dread…” He’s laughing his ass off and you realize while you’re speaking that there was nothing inherently scary about the dream. Not that I’ve ever had that happen. I just imagine that’s what it would be like. Really.

The movie was such a letdown from the book that when they made the new movie, I didn’t bother to watch it. We’re talking about a 27-year letdown here. I hold a grudge when it comes to this kind of thing. Seriously.

Bird Box is the same kind of book. It. Is. Terrifying.

While searching for a new show to watch on Netflix recently, we watched the trailer. It looked awesome. You didn’t see any monsters, just the woman, blindfolded and wondering what was out there. My husband and sons are not into scary movies, but I was so intrigued by what kind of a nightmare it would be. Maybe I could watch it during the day while they are at work, I thought.

Then I found the BOOK! Oh. My. Gourd. This will be epic. I threw it onto my pile on my way to the register, even though I had already picked up my quota.

IT made my heart race. Bird Box made me stop breathing. I’m sitting there on the couch with the book up to my spectacled face, holding my breath. Every few pages I’d suddenly remember to breathe, sucking in lungs full of air. I felt like I was there, blindfolded and feeling my way. It was horrible.

And I loved every minute of it! I still haven’t seen the show. I doubt it could be as good as the book. It’s the same kind of thing as IT. To see the monster would ruin it. The only way they could make the tv show would be to have the scenes go black whenever people put their blindfolds on. It would make for a pretty boring visual experience.

Books aren’t visual experiences. They’re all in your head. That’s what makes them amazing!

If you like horror, you will LOVE this book.

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