Time to Take up the Right Fight

Again, folks are outraged.  And the outrage is for a good reason.

In fact, ESPN’s Keith Olberman had a passionate rant session about it.

And I agree with his outrage.  I applaud him, in fact.  And I consider him to be on “the side of The White,” or perhaps one of the Jedi Knights.

Jedi 1

Keith Olbermann is actually someone I have come to admire greatly in the past several months.  He works for ESPN and may be “just a sports guy” to some, but to me he is much more than that.  He is smart, and he cares about society.  And not afraid to speak his mind on tough subjects, such as the Tamir Rice shooting.

keith-olbermann

 

Last week, Olbermann made an impassioned speech about Jameis Winston and Floyd Mayweather.  Jameis Winston is a soon to be NFL quarterback who may be chosen in the first round of the 2015 draft.  Mayweather is a boxer who will be participating in yet another televised match this weekend, where the prices of the tickets were ungodly, and the price of watching the pay per view is also ungodly.  A much anticipated match, in other words.

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Jameis Winston was accused of sexual assault in 2012, when he attended Florida State University.  Winston was also the quarterback for the Florida State Seminoles, and was a Heisman trophy winner as a freshman.  Both the college and local law enforcement “investigated” the accusation, and no charges were filed, despite some compelling evidence that indicated otherwise.

Jameis Winston

Floyd Mayweather is also no stranger to troubles with the law.  Mayweather has been accused of domestic violence multiple times, and unlike Winston, the charges have stuck.  Mayweather has been prosecuted several times, and has served some form of punishment several times.  In other words, like a certain pseudonym come to life in a book by my favorite writer, he is “not a nice guy.”

George Stark

And Ser Olbermann is outraged.  As he should be.  As we all should.  Clearly, we live in a society that does not value the safety of women and children, and does not treat domestic violence and sexual assault with the gravity that both of those topics deserve.

In fact, Olbermann is calling for a boycott of the fight and NFL draft…

And let me stop you right there. Ser Olbermann.

You are noble and your intentions are good.  And I admire that.  I will always admire that.

knight

But let me make one thing clear.

Boycotting the NFL draft and the upcoming fight will NOT do a FUCKING thing to address this problem.  Not a FUCKING thing.

We talk about the problem the NFL and the sports world in general has with domestic violence and sexual assault.  And this is true, even outside of Winston and Mayweather.  More than a few athletes have had brushes (or worse) with the law in regards to these issues.

But really, its not the sports world that has a problem with domestic violence and sexual assault.

Our society has a problem with domestic violence and sexual assault.  A big problem with domestic violence and sexual assault.

Consider this.  Most victims of rape and sexual assault do not report the attack, out of fear that they will not be believed and/or that the perpetrators will actually receive any form of meaningful punishment.  And the statistics will back that up.

Consider this.  Domestic violence is also a crime that is under-reported.  I am a survivor of domestic violence from my first marriage.  I never called the police on my ex husband.  Never.  What was going to happen if I called the police?  He gets thrown in jail for maybe a few hours and is bailed out?  Then he comes back, and maybe hurts me even worse?  Possibly even killing me?  Again, this is the likely scenario, and the statistics will back me up once again.

People often believe that perpetrators such as Ray Rice, Floyd Mayweather and even Jameis Winston are not punished due to their money and fame.  This is true to an extent, but does not tell the whole story.  Men who are not rich and famous (like my ex husband) do not face very much in the way of punishment, either.  Our justice is system is harsher on people who smoke marijuana or fail to pay their traffic fines (see John Oliver’s brilliant rant on that subject here).  In short, someone is more likely to get the attention of our judicial system if he/she runs a stop sign and then can’t pay the ticket, as opposed to either raping or beating up a woman.

Running a stop sign

And this is where the outrage must go, Ser Olbermann.  Boycotting the NFL draft and an overpriced boxing match may be noble in theory, but does not address the real problem.

The real problem is our judicial system.  Our judicial system simply does not value the health and safety of women.  Many states may brag how tough they are they are on domestic violence, but this is lip service for the most part.  If this was actually true, women would not be murdered by their intimate partners at such a high rate.  And women’s shelters would not be at maximum capacity, since their services are so badly needed.

And our society.  I remained silent on my own experience for far too long.  For one, it is difficult to talk about and still extremely painful.  And one of the reasons it is so difficult to talk about is because of the judgement.  Yes, judgement.  I was the one who was choked, received black eyes and endured all sorts of horrible things, but I was afraid of judgement.  Judgement for marrying my ex in the first place.  Judgement for not leaving.  Judgement for staying far too long, as if I was the one who had something wrong with me, even though I wasn’t the one trying to choke another human being and then blaming that human being for my actions.  And the judgement is ever present.  Women who work in what we consider to be “low life” professions, such as strippers and even prostitutes, experience rape and sexual assault at an alarmingly high rate.  And yet, these incidents are under-reported even more than by women who do not work in these industries.  And again, the reason is judgement.  Women who work in these types of professions (rightfully) fear judgement, as society has instilled in them that they deserve what happens to them, as it is a punishment for being employed in a “bad” job, and that women employed in these professions are not worthy of even being treated like human beings in the first place.  Or if alcohol was involved in any way.  Or drugs.  Even if the guy pays for the date and the woman doesn’t “put out.”  Our society is very quick to judge women’s sexual behavior, and if the behavior is not up to code, then the woman is deserving of any punishment she receives, including rape and any other form of violence that men care to throw at her.

Like I said, Keith Olbermann is awesome and always will be.  But Ser Olbermann, re-direct your anger.  You are right to be angry.  You are even right to be angry at the sports world, for it does far too little to address this problem.  But a boycott of one fight and one NFL draft is not the answer to this problem.  In fact, I don’t know what the answer to this problem is.  But perhaps if everyone, including Keith Olbermann, could direct their anger towards society and our judicial system, maybe one day we will not even need to have this conversation of whether or not to boycott sporting events.  Maybe the perpetrators will be ones who fear judgement, not the victims.  And maybe myself and the other survivors will be in a little less pain, because society will final recognize that the perpetrators are the ones who need to be punished and actually fear that punishment, instead of the survivors, who have already endured enough horror and fear.  Just maybe, this will happen one day.

 

 

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Man Crush Monday 4/27/15

Good morning everyone, and I hope your Monday is not too,..well…Monday-ish, for lack of a better word!  As we all know, Mondays belong in the same category as internet trolls!

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Wait, sorry Monday…I think you may be a little prettier than at least some of these trolls I have run across recently!

But don’t worry, its all good!

You guessed it, that’s right…the time has come…

…for this week’s version of Man Crush Monday!

Man Crush Monday 1

And I can tell you that the subject of this week’s Man Crush Monday is not a troll!  Far from it, in fact!

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Sometimes, life just hands you lemons.  And sometimes, those lemons are just so…lemon-y!  Is it possible to be too lemon-y to even make lemonade?  I believe that it can be.  Maybe it doesn’t happen often, but sometimes you are just better chucking those damn lemons at someone’s head, and just going straight for the vodka and not watering it down.  For watering down can make it worse (this applies to both alcohol and life, actually).

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Well, maybe its not that bad.  But sometimes it sure feels like it!

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And I am sure the characters in Stephen King’s The Stand really didn’t feel much like lemonade.  After all, not even the best lemonade can cure a super flu virus that is 99.99% contagious and kills its victims within days.  And most victims are not even thinking about lemonade, especially towards the end!

Captain Trips

And I don’t think lemons would actually help very much against this guy either, no matter how hard you threw them!

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Pretty stubborn guy from what I understand…he can’t really leave anyone alone, not even friendly neighborhood gunslingers!

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When things get bad, sometimes we just need someone who will just tell us that everything will be ok..

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Ok, kidding…maybe…

But, speaking of characters, The Stand has a few of those.  A lot of those actually.  The book is a giant ensemble of characters.  And they are fascinating.  Even the bad guys are awesome!

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And oh boy, the guys in The Stand…definitely worth crushing on!

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Sometimes, leaders come from unlikely places.  And are unlikely people as well…

Which leads me to the topic of this week’s Man Crush Monday post…

Ladies, I give you Stu Redman!

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Look up strong, silent type in any dictionary, and you will find Stu’s picture.  Well, at least you would if Stephen King nerds like me ran the world!

Stu never wanted to lead anyone.  And like I said, he took strong, silent type to a new level.

So, of course Stu becomes a leader in a world that had been ravaged by Captain Trips, aka a flu virus that does not respond to lemonade or anything else, for that matter.  And his presence was comforting, even if he wasn’t necessarily one to tell that everything would be ok when you wanted to hear it (I wonder if he may have had more than a little gunslinger in him.  I wonder that a lot, actually).   In other words, Stu was never one to water down anything…and that is a seriously sexy quality to me! And he took on responsibility for a baby that was not his in the biological sense when he fell in love with the pregnant survivor…how much sexier can a guy get???

So time for us to drool over Stu Redman, subject of this week’s Man Crush Monday!


 

Name:  Stuart “Stu” Redman.  also answers to “East Texas.”

Profession:  Was laid off from a calculator plant in his previous life.  Occasionally worked at gas station, where he claimed to meet some interesting characters.  Was offered position in law enforcement after the apocalypse struck, but ended up resigning from that job.

Jim-Morrison-Quotes-3

Relationship status:  Widowed and stayed as single as they come until a very special lady came into his life.  See paragraph on why he is so sexy.

Friends:  Glen Bateman.  See section on nickname.

Mother Abagail.  Even leaders (especially when they don’t really want to be leaders) need a leader in their lives.

Larry Underwood.  As previously stated, some people don’t want to be leaders.  Misery loves company, in other words.

Ralph Brenter.  See above.

Tom Cullen.  M O O N spells unwitting rescuer.

Kojak.  Dogs really can be your best friend.

Enemies:  Even the sexiest of the sexy have enemies, so here are some of Stu’s:

Randall Flagg.  Although don’t hold that against poor Stu, as Flagg is disliked by almost everyone and everything.  And don’t get me started on Flagg’s luck with women and his unborn children.  In fact, you could say having sex with Flagg will drain the life right out of you.  And say goodbye to your hair coloring!

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Harold Lauder.  Life can kind of suck for guys who have spent their lives lusting after a lady, only to realize that said lady would not choose them even if they were literally the last man on Earth.

Harold Lauder


 

So here you have it, ladies…Stu Redman!  Mmmm, mmm you are welcome, but lust after him at your own risk, as he is in a relationship with a lady who is definitely the jealous type!  Oh, and his lady probably needs him around any way, as someone has to help re-populate the planet!  But like they say, it never hurts to look!

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And that’s it for this week’s Man Crush Monday.  Tune in next week and join me in lusting after more unavailable guys that we don’t have a chance with, aka the sexiest men from fiction!

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Since Everyone is Entitled to my Opinion 2.0

Well, it looks like this is my week for giving opinions.

I treated everyone to mine a couple of days ago, in regards the proposed Dark Tower movie.  And that was fun.  Speculation always is always fun.  Casting threads are too.  And I can never have enough conversation about Stephen King and his magnum opus.

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But life isn’t always fun.  And I think we all know that.  Sometimes, you need to cast aside the fun and be serious, at least for a minute.

Like this post today.

There will be no casting threads.  No speculation.  And I don’t even think this post will be especially nerdy.

So you have been warned.  Feel free to skip over to any of the other posts, if they are more likely to suit your fancy.  For today’s post will have a bit different of a flavor, and may not be to everyone’s taste.

Yesterday, it was announced that former Carolina Panthers‘ defensive end (who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys) Greg Hardy will be suspended for 10 games during the 2015 NFL season for his role in a domestic dispute that allegedly turned violent.  Hardy was accused of assaulting the woman and threatening to kill her.  The criminal charges against Hardy were dropped and the case was settled in a civil court.  The NFL determined that Hardy was guilty of violating its personal conduct policy, and doled out what Commissioner Roger Goodell determined to be an appropriate punishment.  In this case, it was suspension without pay from 10 regular season games.

Greg Hardy

There is also the more notorious case of Ray Rice, former player for the Baltimore Ravens.  Ray Rice and his now wife Janay Rice were the subjects of the famous video footage that was leaked last year, where Rice could be seen beating his then fiancee unconscious in a hotel elevator, and then dragging her body across the hotel hallway.  Rice was originally suspended for only two games, but the release of the video and the ensuing public outcry changed that punishment to indefinite suspension, and Rice was also released by his team, the Baltimore Ravens.

Ray Rice

Many would agree that the punishment is an appropriate one for Greg Hardy (Mike Golic certainly does).  In fact, I would like to think that most would agree with this statement.

But once again, the aforementioned trolls have come out of hiding.  But really, is that too surprising?

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And the trolls always have an opinion.  And they also seem to think everyone is entitled to that opinion, and they are not shy about voicing that opinion.

Well, trolls, you know what you need to do?

That’s right…SHUT THE FUCK UP!

And I would tell you where you can stick that opinion.  Let me give you a hint:  sunlight does not make its way there.  Enough said.

Greg Hardy strangled his girlfriend.  That’s right:  strangled.  Have you ever been strangled before?

Well, I have.  I am a survivor of domestic violence.  I was married for nearly seven years to someone who abused me, both emotionally and physically.

For seven years, I lived in terror.  I walked on eggshells constantly, never knowing what may set him off.

And no, my ex did not come with a sign saying “I beat up women for fun.”  My ex came across as a nice guy, but as someone who had a hard time in life, and just needed some understanding.  I would provide him that understanding, and be able to fix him.

Roland 1

But boy was I ever wrong.  My ex was not the man I thought he was.  Scratch that, I know men (my father, husband, brother and various male friends.  Even my two neutered male dogs).  My ex is not in that category.  He may rank a little above a cockroach (I hate those fuckers) but my two neutered male dogs know way more about manhood than my ex ever will.

giant cockroach

So I lived with the abuse, hoping it would go away.  And really, I was just afraid for seven years.  But like a blind person who does not know he/she is blind because he/she has always been blind, I never knew I was afraid.  I accepted it, just a the blind person accepts his/her lack of sight, because there is no other choice.

And I accepted a lot.

I accepted being strangled to the point where I had to fight for air, and where my lungs just wouldn’t function.

I accepted my hair being pulled so hard that my scalp bled.

I accepted the black eyes and the bruises.  I accepted having to lie about those on a regular basis, even though I really don’t think anyone else I knew accepted those lies.

I accepted being beaten in a hotel room, where I was pinned in a corner and used as a human punching bag.  And I accepted the cuts, scratches and bruises on my face and other parts of my body.  After all, if I had not aggravated him, I would not have been put in that position.

And I accepted being a shell of my former self.  Even when you don’t know you are afraid, the fear will still whittle you down to almost nothing, until you look in the mirror, and are unable to recognize that husk staring back at you.

Luckily, I am a survivor.  It has been nearly eight years.  I am married to a wonderful man and I would not trade our relationship for the world, even though we have had our ups and downs.  My life is (usually) pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

But my ex (unlike Greg Hardy and Ray Rice) never faced any consequences for his actions.  No jail time.  No monetary punishment of any kind.  His parents never even held him accountable, and chose to blame almost anything and everything else on his behavior, including me.  So he was able to just walk away.  Nothing happened to him.

However, I was not able to just walk away.  If only.

There were the trust issues.  My poor husband.  I really am married to a saint.  What I put him through, because it took me so long to be able to trust him completely and actually feel safe.  When you know nothing but fear and the fear disappears, you have no idea of what to do with yourself.  So you will try to re-create that fear, in order to bring back what you know.

And the nightmares.  Oftentimes, victims of domestic abuse also suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Nightmares are a part of that.  I know that I got out, and luckily got out alive.  But sometimes, after I fall asleep, I forget that fact.  And I would take dreams about an evil clown over dreams of living with my ex any day.

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And the humiliation.  One of the worst parts.  How much time do I spend beating myself for making the mistake that I did?  And how long did I hide this part of my past from nearly everyone that I knew, fearing judgement?  I heard some awful things said about Janay Rice for staying:  that she was a gold digger, why couldn’t she just leave, etc.  But its not that easy.  The Twitter conversations #whyIstayed and #whyIleft shed a little light on this subject, but those who have not experienced what myself, Janay Rice and countless other women have experienced simply fail to understand that it really is not that easy.  I can’t speak for Janay Rice, but I did at one point love my ex husband, and wanted to try to save my marriage.  And I was also afraid, and had every right to be afraid, as women are more likely to be killed by their partners when they attempt to leave, not when they stay in that hell.

So listen up, trolls.  Mike Golic is right.  This punishment for Greg Hardy is fitting.  This punishment is completely appropriate.  This punishment is not about Roger Goodell being on a power trip.

This punishment is actually about the NFL doing what is right.  Our judicial system does NOT do what is right when it comes to cases of domestic violence.  Otherwise, far fewer women would be killed by their partners, as the system would not allow abusers to walk away so easily.  And restraining orders would actually be more than a piece of paper that abusers could walk right through.

Greg Hardy (and Ray Rice) have made millions.  Both will likely continue to make millions, as they play a sport that rewards handsomely, and often turns a blind eye to people’s pasts.  They will likely not have to worry about food, shelter and other basic (and not so basic) necessities for the rest of their lives.

But myself and other survivors of domestic abuse will likely not have it so easy.  And I know I am lucky.  I have a great support system of family and friends.  I have a job and a way to support myself.  And I am resilient.  I have been resilient all my life.  I am able to bounce back, even though it hasn’t been easy.  But I will still be living with the effects of the abuse.  They may now be scars instead of open wounds, but scar tissue is still sensitive if its touched just right.  And its not easy knowing that ex (and other abusers) will never face any kind of consequences, as we live in a society that has so little regard for survivors of physical, sexual and emotional abuse.  Perhaps this will change some day, but change is never fast, and often comes too late.

So trolls, stop being a Greg Hardy apologist.  He has been suspended for 10 games.  Big deal.  He will never be living in fear.  He will never face judgement for being a victim.  Greg Hardy will not have to live with the effects of domestic violence for the rest of his life, like I will.

So, if we have to punish someone like Greg Hardy by suspending him for 10 regular season NFL games, and hitting his pocketbook a little bit, then so be it.  The damage done to his pocketbook is far less than damage he caused to his ex girlfriend, as she will likely be dealing with its after-effects for a long, long time.  The damage done to Greg Hardy’s pocketbook is not nearly enough punishment, but if that punishment can bring some kind of solace to his victim, myself and anyone else who has suffered at the hands of someone like Greg Hardy, then that punishment needs to stand.  Sometimes in life, we are stuck taking the consolation prize.  And the consolation prize is almost always better than nothing.

Fat-Green-Troll

Since Everyone is Entitled to my Opinion

So it happened again.

It sure did.

About two weeks ago, the internet broke.  Yep, it broke.  AGAIN.  Really, the internet can be fragile sometimes.  Although luckily, I think it responds to duck tape.  And maybe even Krazy Glue.

Urusla

Usually, anything that breaks the internet is not something I care much about.  I’m just not that much into Miley Cyrus and her twerking.  Or Kim K butt pics.  Or what color that dress really is…its just ugly, period!

ugly dress

But this time, I cared.  It may be one the few rare times during the long period I have graced this planet with my existence (37 years in June, actually) but I found myself actually caring about what broke the internet.  And I may have actually contributed to the breakage, although I think my contribution amounted to no more than a virtual greenstick fracture.

greenstick fracture

As we all know, I am obsessed with Stephen King.  I have read nearly all of his books.  In particular, I am obsessed with The Dark Tower series.

Yes, obsessed.  And I mean OBSESSED as opposed to obsessed.  I am a member of multiple Facebook fan pages for Stephen King and The Dark Tower series.  I am even an admin for two of these pages (could we really get any nerdier?  Wait, that is a rhetorical question, not a challenge!)  I have made so many new friends through these pages, and even had the opportunity to interview Mr. King’s right hand lady of The Dark Tower series.  I constantly draw and create other forms of artwork inspired by The Dark Tower series.

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Oh, and I created this blog, which has a few entries on King and his works.

So, its safe to say I am a Constant Reader or CR for short (which I will call myself from now on, since that sounds a little nicer than COFG, which stands for Crazy Obsessed Fan Girl).

So, I am passionate about The Dark Tower series.  Very few works have touched me in the manner that this series has, and it will remain my favorite fantasy series of all time.  It is powerful, and simply inspiring.

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And like all other fans, I can’t get enough.  I read the comics inspired by the series.  And I read books about the series, such as The Road to the Dark Tower, The Dark Tower Companion and Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: The Complete  Concordance (both volumes!) written by Bev Vincent and Robin Furth, respectively.  And any time a new King books is released, I have my hands on it and my nose buried in it, looking for any connection, no matter how remote, to what King has called his magnum opus.

Bev Vincent 1

But there is one thing I have not had the pleasure (?) of being able to do.  Batman fans have had it.  The Lord of the Rings fans have had it too.  Even Twilight (*shudder*) fans have had it.

GoT meme

Yes, that’s right.  The Dark Tower has never been made into a movie.  Not even an animated one (we will talk more about that later, as a matter of fact).  So many King books have been adapted into films (with varying degrees of success).  But not The Dark Tower.  This short film is the closest thing we have is this adaptation, which is actually a pleasure to watch and totally worth the few minutes of your time that it will take.  But, again, that is closest thing we had for a screen adaptation of The Dark Tower series.

Until now.

Sony Pictures has announced that it has acquired the rights to The Dark Tower series, aka Stephen King’s magnum opus, which spans eight full length books so far, along with a couple of related short stories.

Cue the loud crashes and squealing right about here.  That would be the sound of the internet breaking.

And the reactions have been interesting, to say the least.  Many are excited.  For years, fans have been strung along with the promise of a movie, but that promise has never been delivered.  The last bit of news we received on a potential Dark Tower movie was in July of 2011, when it was announce that Universal Pictures had scrapped the plans for the movie, although director Ron Howard assured fans that he was still attached and this movie would be made one day.

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And of course, the naysayers.  Saying it can’t be done, despite the success of franchises such as The Hunger Games and The Lord of the Rings.  However, my personal favorite is the fan who says that no Dark Tower movie should ever, EVER be made, as that will ruin the books!  Apparently, I am clueless, because a bad movie adaptation (Running Man and Lawnmower Man, we are talking about you, cough, cough) somehow changes the source material, making all of us unable to ever read said source material ever again, because, well, film adaptations are just magical like that and have the ability to somehow magically re-write books, DAMMIT!

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So, everyone has an opinion.  Including me.  And now I have this blog that I created just for the express purpose of having super nerdy discussions, so let’s have one in regards to this controversial topic that has caused so many heated discussions in internet land, perhaps being responsible for many a virtual earthquake (or perhaps a Beam-quake, in this case).

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Can this even be done?  Can such a complex story be translated on to the screen, and make a good movie?  More importantly, should it even be done?  After all, we will always have the books!

One of my favorite fantasy series as a child (before I was lured into the world of Roland Deschain and his friends) was The Lord of the Rings trilogy, along with The Hobbit.  I read these books many times, and watched the animated version of The Hobbit more than a few times.  And I pined for live action movies, figuring they would never happen in my lifetime.

Then I hit my 20’s.  I picked up some magazine one day, and lo behold, saw an article stating that all three books in said trilogy would be movies.  Live action movies.  So I marked my calendar.  I was so excited.  And I was right to be excited.  All three movies lived up to my expectations.  I especially enjoyed Lord of the RingsThe Two Towers…I mean, Ents!  Ents fighting!  It was bad ass!  One of the most iconic scenes in the books had been given justice.  And I sighed in nerdy ecstasy…

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My point is that The Dark Tower is not the only complex fantasy series in existence.  And complex fantasy series (see above paragraph) can successfully be made into good or even great motion pictures.  Our technology has advanced even more since the release of The Lord of the Rings movies, and anyone who makes movies can do astounding things in regards to special effects.  And the stigma of movies being too long (longer than 100 minutes) is slowly starting to fade…just look at the success of The Hunger Games:  Mockingjay Part I, which clocks in at well over two hours.  If it is done well (and I believe a director like Ron Howard is perfectly capable of this), people don’t care about the length, and will not be intimidated at the thought of sitting in a theater for over two hours.  Some movies are just that good.

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And let me reiterate:  to me, nothing will ever top a book.  If I am given the choice, I will almost always choose the book (see the paragraph above the cute kitty meme).  But I still want a Dark Tower movie.  Think of it like this:  I may like steak, and it will always be my favorite, but there is no reason why I can’t have fish or seafood for dinner some nights.  After all, I can’t just subsist on steak, and I need some variety in my diet.  In other words, I need movies every now and then, along with books.  And I want to see my favorite characters come alive, and have them move me onscreen like they do on the page.  I want to see the fantastical landscapes I have been imagining in my head all these years.  I want to see what special effects can do to a story.

Most importantly, I want to be able to share the experience of The Dark Tower.  My husband is awesome and wonderful and the best husband in the world, but he is not a reader.  I have been talking about this series from almost day one (this statement should bring any single person new hope.  If a nerd like me can find someone, there really is someone out there for everyone).  But he watches movies.  And many others are the same way.  So if this movie can turn more people on the awesomeness otherwise known as The Dark Tower series, then I fully support it.  The fact that a Dark Tower movie may make my conversations at parties more relevant and less boring is just an added bonus.


 

Who should be cast?  The only person who can play Roland is Clint Eastwood!  Even King himself has said this!

First of all, much respect to Clint Eastwood.  If I wore a hat, I would take it off to the man.  He deserves every single accolade that he has received.  The man is an icon, pure and simple.

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But, he is in his 70’s.  He may be an icon, but he is still an old icon.  And King did base the character of Roland and the entire setting of the series off of characters played by Eastwood, and also off of the spaghetti westerns he grew up watching as a child.  However, this does not mean that Eastwood should play Roland.  Plenty of actors would be able to bring the grittiness that is needed to pull off a character like our friendly neighborhood gunslinger.

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Likes Timothy Olyphant.  I could readily envision him as a cold blooded man who will do whatever it takes to reach his tower.  The fact that Olyphant already plays a cowboy (or a cowboy-like character) on a popular TV series is just an added bonus.

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Or Hugh Jackman.  Jackman has proven acting chops, and also seems to be able to bring that grittiness needed for Roland.  And he is also pretty easy on the eyes.  Speaking of eyes, I am aware that Roland’s are blue and neither one of the actors I have mentioned so far have blue eyes.  However, that is why contact lenses were invented.

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Ok, I am done talking about Roland.  I love Roland to death, but I also love a lot of the characters that many would be considered “minor” in the series, although they all play a huge role.  So I happen to think the casting of these characters is almost as important as Roland.

Nort

Like Nort.  Nort is the best undead junkie in literature, and I would love to see him cast properly, and for someone to really put his heart and soul into this character and bring him to life on the big screen.

Someone like Kurt Sutter, possibly.  Nort is a creepy, frightening guy, and Kurt Sutter has proven experience in the creepy and frightening department via his character Otto on Sons of Anarchy.  So it is no stretch (at least for me) to imagine Sutter cast as an undead junkie.

Otto

 

Jack Mort aka The Pusher is another iconic, although relatively minor, character in this series.  And I hope that he is cast properly.  My pick for Jack Mort is Tom Arnold.  Again, I am basing this on a performance from the show Sons of Anarchy (yeah, I’m a little obsessed, I admit it).  Arnold’s character Georgie Caruso was sleazy, conniving and even pyscho at times, which makes him perfect for the role of Jack Mort, another sleazy, conniving psychopath.

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And now, let’s talk again about main characters.  More specifically, the role of Susannah Dean (along with Detta Walker and Odetta Holmes, for that matter).  Susannah is a main character and plays a huge role in the series.  And she is a woman who is also African-American.  The tides are slowly turning, but the roles for women, let alone women of color, are still limited.  This is especially true in the fantasy and sci fi genre.  I love that King chose to make this character a woman of color, and it is VERY important to  me that she be cast properly.  Hollywood has a chance to help someone shatter some more glass ceilings and break some more ground.  Lupita Nyong’o is my choice for Susannah.  Her acting chops are proven, and I believe she could pull the role of Susannah, who is an extremely complex character (she suffers from mental illness and was also involved in the civil rights movement in 1960’s New York).  She is also beautiful and charismatic.  Perfect, in other words.

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What about Oy?  And Jake?  Won’t he age out?  And the flashbacks?  How can we possibly handle those?

CGI.  There, I said it…shudder.  While I believe that CGI is overused much of the time (Jupiter Ascending…cough, cough…ahem), I think it is the perfect answer for the question on how to bring Oy to life on the big screen.  And likely the only way to bring Oy to life on the big screen.  We may still need to cast a voice actor for Oy (he is a talking critter, after all) but CGI will actually provide most of the solutions and create a convincing character.

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If you have made it this in reading this post, then congrats.  Also see the paragraph above the awesome Game of Thrones meme.  More specifically, the line about animation.

That’s right, animation.  I believe that animation could be a viable medium for bringing The Dark Tower series to life.

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Ok, clean up the coffee or other beverage of your favorite choice that you may have spit all over your keyboard after reading the above paragraph, and let’s talk about why animation is in fact a viable to choice to bring Stephen King’s magnum opus to life.

Animation actually solves a couple of problems.  First of all, Jake Chambers is 11 years old when the series starts, and it seems he remains 11 years old for the remainder of the series.  The movies (as we all know there will need to be multiple movies in order for this to work) will probably take at least a couple of years to  film, even if they are filmed simultaneously in the same manner as The Lord of the Rings.  This presents a problem, as most 11 year old children grow and change rapidly (damn pesky puberty).  So it is possible that the actor who plays Jake could age out of the role.  However, if the series is animated, that problem is solved.  Animation would allow Jake to remain 11 throughout the story, keeping that particular part of the story intact.

Jake Chambers

The Dark Tower series also contains a ton of flashbacks.  Wizard and Glass is one long flashback.  Much of The Gunslinger also consists of flashbacks.  While flashbacks are awesome in books, they can be problematic in live action movies.  However, flashbacks can actually blend in very well in animated movies.  Animation may even be the preferred method of medium to tell certain back stories (such as Roland’s time in Meijis) or to possibly even bring to life the Dark Tower comics.  After all, bringing more Dark Tower related material into existence cannot possibly be a bad thing.

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My opinion.  There you have it.  Whether you wanted it or not, I have brought it to you via this blog post.  And please, keep in mind that opinions are like assholes:  we all have them.  And I am entitled to mine, just like everyone else (to theirs as well as mine).  And I am greatly looking forward to see what, if any, of my ramblings on this post come to fruition over the next several months or years.  I am hopeful that this endeavor will be successful, but to quote many a wise person before me:  Only time will tell.  In the meantime, stay tuned for more news and posts regarding this endeavor.

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Top 10 non-horror Stephen King books

So let me paraphrase a conversation I had on Facebook recently.  COFG is me (Crazy Obsessed Fan Girl).  FOAF is the friend of a friend with whom I had this rather interesting conversation.

FOAF:  I don’t like Stephen King, his books are too scary!

FOAF:  I love The Shawshank Redemption, that is one of my favorite movies!

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COFG:  Stephen King wrote the story The Shawshank Redemption is based on.  Contrary to popular belief, the man known for shit weasels and scary clowns is an excellent writer.

FOAF: (Silence on her end.  Obviously, her mind was blown.  Does not compute.  Programming must be re-adjusted).

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Well, like I said, it was paraphrased.  Although you would be surprised how many people need to re-adjust their programming when they learn that scary dude wrote a story that was turned into a movie that received Oscar nods.,.gasp!  Oh, the horror (pun intended).

Stephen King

Which leads me to this blog post.

Yes, Stephen King writes scary stories.  Who hasn’t had a nightmare (or five) about an evil clown who emerges from the sewers and kills kids?  Who doesn’t scream when watching a movie like Pet Sematary, which is also probably the scariest book in existence on this planet?

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And all of the above is correct.  Stephen King can scare you to where you just might need a change of pants.  And oh boy, is he good at it!

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But…wait for it…Stephen King is also a great writer.  And I am completely leaving anything about horror off that last sentence.

Yes, Stephen King can write scary stories.  But he writes good stories.  Great stories, actually.  Really, really great stories, as a matter of fact.

And no, they are not scary stories.  Even in his “scary” stories, King is able to include universal themes.  For example, the theme of family is huge in The Shining.  And bullying is also a huge theme in stories such as Dreamcatcher and It.

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And in his “non-scary” stories, King often writes about frightening situations.  For example, domestic abuse is prevalent in stories such as Rose Madder and Dolores Claiborne.  Domestic violence is a situation that many people can identify with, and characters such as Norman Daniels are terrifying because they are so plausible.

To sum it up, King is a great writer.  However, he is somewhat stigmatized, because of the “horror” label.  And no one is more aware of it than the master himself, as he has been typecast for nearly 40 years.  However, this has not stopped him from churning out some amazing novels that cannot be categorized as horror.  And anyone who takes the time to read these works is in for a treat.  As these works are simply great writing, with the ability to grip the reader, and keep him/her trapped in the pages of the book until the last word.  And that is exactly what a good writer should do:  make the reader not want to put down that book.

So, without further ado, here are my top “non-horror” Stephen King books, for the the non-horror fans in our lives.

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10)  Lisey’s Story

Marriage is something that everyone is familiar with (especially me, since I’m on my second trip to the rodeo).  And almost everyone agrees that when you marry someone, you don’t really know them, even if the marriage lasts a good number of years.  Even when you live with someone day in and day out, there is still a secret side (or maybe more than one secret side) of that person.  And sometimes the secrets are harmless (like my book boyfriends I spend hours obsessing over).  Or sometimes the secrets are not so harmless.

Yes, those not so harmless secrets.  You know, when your spouse has the ability to travel to another dimension, and then heal himself but has to be careful not to attract the attention of a creature he calls “the Long Boy” since that creature is hungry for yummy things called human beings.

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That kind of secret does suck, and it is actually what the title character from Lisey’s Story encounters.  Upon the death of her husband Scott Landon, who was an accomplished writer during his lifetime, Lisey Landon begins to learn (or rather, have her memory jogged) as to what kind of man her husband really was.  And she also has an adventure in the alternate dimension mentioned above (complete with an encounter or two with a scary monster), so that she can set her life and memory of her husband right.  Yes, there is a monster or two (although the human monster is one of the scariest), but this book deals more with marriage and what we may keep from our spouses (harmless or not).  The book also deals with the still somewhat taboo subject of mental illness, which is a prevalent theme in this society, and manages to treat this sensitive subject with compassion.  Lisey’s Story may have a couple of monsters, but the themes are themes that resonate with everyone, and the book makes an enjoyable read for almost anyone.

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9)  Dolores Claiborne

So let’s talk about human monsters again.

“Lupus est homo homini.”  Man is a wolf to man.  In other words, let’s talk about man’s inhumanity to man.  Or technically, with this entry, man (and society’s) horrible treatment of women.

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Dolores Claiborne is disturbing.  Yet there are no monsters, at least of the supernatural variety.  The monsters in this one are all human.

The title character marries a man, thinking she will get to live happily ever after.  However, her life becomes anything but happy.  Dolores’ husband Joe begins to abuse her not long after he and Dolores marry.  Dolores takes matters into her own hands, as local law enforcement is proven to be useless (and is shown to be just that throughout the rest of the book).  Dolores does not endure any more abuse by Joe, but what follows is much, much worse.  Joe begins to turns his attentions on their daughter Selena, and begins sexually abusing Selena.  Again, local law enforcement (and society, for that matter), show their true colors, as no one is one the side of Dolores and her children.  Feeling desperate, Dolores seeks out advice from her employer, and decides that “an accident can be a woman’s best friend.”  She pushes Joe down a well, and convinces local authorities that is is an accident.  She is believed, but the incident comes back to haunt her upon the death of her employer, Vera.  The book is a recounting of what led Dolores to her actions, and of the terrible gender inequality that existed (and still exists in our society today) in 1960’s Maine island communities.

When I started reading Dolores Claiborne, I wondered why she did it.  About a third of the way through the book, I wondered why she didn’t do away with Joe much sooner than she did.  And I rooted for her.  I rooted for her to be able to take some control of her life, as no one, including her husband or even our society, was willing to let her have any control of anything in life, including the well-being of her children.  And Dolores was able to take a stand, and came out the winner.  And I like it when the good guys  girls win.

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8)  Rose Madder

Human monsters.  Yes, more human monsters.  In case you didn’t notice, this is a huge theme in this blog post and in King’s works.  In the book Rose Madder, once again, the biggest monster is completely human, and is someone you are supposed to trust.

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Norman Daniels is a cop.  And he is a very good good cop.  However, Norman is also a corrupt cop who has literally gotten away with murder.  Oh, and he beats his wife.  Real peach of a guy, huh?

Fortunately, Norma’s wife Rosie does not think her husband is a peach.  She endures terrible abuse from him for nearly 14 years.  King’s description of the abuse is quite graphic (Norman even sodomizes his wife with a tennis racket).  Rosie finally finds the courage to leave her husband, catch a Greyhound bus and start over in another city nearly 800 miles away from her home.  Rosie is helped along the way by the kindness of strangers and receives much needed support from a local women’s shelter.  She even meets and falls in love with a new man, and finds an interesting painting to hang in her new apartment.  However, Rosie’s past catches up with her, as Norman leaves behind a trail of bodies in his attempt to track down his estranged wife.  The new painting literally provides a means of escape for Rosie, as it leads her into another world (along with Norman) and Norman is finally given his just desserts.

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It is true that there is a supernatural element to Rose Madder.  However, most of the book takes place in a setting that almost everyone is familiar with (suburban America) and the characters (abusive men and abused women) are also sadly familiar.  Norman Daniels is a corrupt cop and an abusive husband.  He is one of the most believable characters ever written by King.  Watch your local or even national news, and a Norman Daniels is bound to surface.

The fact that Rose Madder partially takes place in the world of our friendly neighborhood gunslinger is just an added bonus to a fantastic story.

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7)  Hearts in Atlantis

The horrors of war are also something we are all familiar with, including Stephen King.  King brilliantly addresses this topic in his collections of novellas titled Hearts in Atlantis.  Although King made many allusions in prior works to his feelings on the Viet Nam War, he addresses the subject head on in the collection Hearts in Atlantis.  The result is an insightful analysis on the experience of coming in age during one of the most tumultuous times in American history.

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Hearts in Atlantis consists of two novellas and three short stories.  The first of these is titled Low Men in Yellow Coats, and is the only story that really contains any hint of the supernatural.  While the Viet Nam War is not directly referenced in this work, the protagonist Bobby Garfield learns a lesson about taking a stand against evil when his friend and elderly neighbor is pursued by sinister creatures that are clearly not of this world.  Bobby’s actions and stances on this will color his life for years to come, and serve as foreshadowing as to how some of his peers will take a stance against the conflict in Viet Nam.  The title story tells of a college student who nearly flunks out of college due to excessive amounts of time spent playing a card game.  However, the stakes of failure are very high, as anyone who fails out of college at the beginning of the Viet Nam War risks being sent overseas to fight a war in a country that most can barely pronounce or spell.  While struggling with his studies, Pete also struggles (in much the same manner as Bobby Garfield) with his stance on what is happening overseas.  Like Bobby, Pete also makes a stance that will forever change his life.  Blind Willie and Why We’re in Vietnam take place some years after the Viet Nam War is over, and are told from the prospective of those who served during that time.  The collection ends with the short story Heavenly Shades of Night are Falling, where we meet an adult Bobby Garfield who finally receives some closure in regards to the events during his childhood that have troubled him for so many years.

While many younger readers may find some of the stories in Hearts in Atlantis a bit dated, the themes (war, bullying, tolerance and taking a stance) are themes that anyone of any age should identify with, making the stories ones that will always be relevant and therefore timeless.

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6)  Different Seasons

As I stated before, Stephen King has struggled with typecasting.  However, the publication of the book Different Seasons put at least some of those criticisms to rest.  Different Seasons consists of three novellas, and the last work could be probably be considered a short story.  All four stories contain themes that we all familiar with:  injustice, bullying, parents’ relationships with their children, people who are not who they seem to be, etc.  In other words, they are stories of the human condition.

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The first story, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, tells the story of a man who is wrongfully imprisoned for killing him wife, and his struggles inside a system that seeks to keep him oppressed.  The story is told from the perspective of another prisoner, and reminds the reader time and time again that we must never give up hope. The second story, Apt Pupil, tells of a former Nazi war criminal who moves to suburban America and lives under an assumed name.  The man develops an unhealthy relationship with the boy next door, and his past comes back to haunt him and change his young neighbor in a way that is not for the better.  The third story, The Body, is the tale of four childhood friends and the last adventure that they have together before adulthood conspires to lead them on different paths.  The final story, The Breathing Method, tells of a young mother who gives birth out of wedlock in turn of the century America, and just how far she will go to deliver her baby safely, even when society and another unfortunate turn of events try to tell her otherwise.

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Humanity can be scary sometimes.  Oftentimes, humans, whether they are a former Nazi war criminal, a corrupt prison warden or even the innocent boy next door, are the scariest creatures on this planet.  But sometimes humans can be wonderful as well, and make marks on our lives that we will never forget.  Different Seasons does a wonderful job illustrating both sides of humanity and is just a fascinating study into what makes our species tick.

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5)  Eyes of the Dragon

When you think of kid friendly writers, Stephen King does not usually come to mind.  And rightfully so, as much of King’s work would be deemed “inappropriate” at best, and maybe “will traumatize one for life” at worst (as we can all see how reading King at age 12 made me the well-adjusted adult I am today…ha).  However, the book Eyes of the Dragon could be probably be an exception to that statement (if we leave out the parts about flaccid penises…yikes, awkward much?)

It said that King wanted to write a book that his daughter Naomi would want be allowed  to read.  So he wrote Eyes of the Dragon.  In many ways, Eyes of the Dragon is similar to the fairy tales that we all grew reading (or maybe our parents read them to us).  There are princes in a faraway kingdom.  The princes become orphaned and one becomes wrongfully imprisoned, but pulls off a daring escape plan using his mother’s childhood dollhouse, of all things.  And there is even an evil wizard thrown in the mix.  However, Eyes of the Dragon also has a decidedly darker tone than some of the fairy tales that I grew up with.  The protagonist does escape, but his captor never faces punishment.  And it could also be argued that the younger brother of the protagonist, who was also responsible for the imprisonment of his older brother, has not really become any wiser for all the troubles he has been through.

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Even though it is dark (this is a Stephen King book after all), Eyes of the Dragon is an unusual but fun departure from King’s normal work into a peculiar type of dark fantasy.  And like the fairy tales I remember from my youth, it does teach a few lessons that anyone of any age could stand to hear.

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4)  The Dead Zone

Its an age old question:  do we have the ability to see the future, and possible try to change it?  More importantly, should we have that ability?  This is a question that is explored in depth in the book The Dead Zone.

The Dead Zone is actually a scary book.  But again, there are no monsters, except for a couple of the human ones.  The Dead Zone is also a tragic book.  The protagonist, Johnny Smith (how can a name be more Every Man than Johnny Smith?) falls into a coma after a horrible car accident.  Johnny stays in the coma for nearly five years.  In the meantime, his world moves on without him.  This includes the woman he loves, who marries another.  Johnny wakes up from his coma, and discovers that he has the somewhat limited ability to see future events.  Sometimes this is a good thing, as it saves people’s lives and helps catch serial killers.  However, more often than not, Johnny’s unwanted gift brings unintended consequences and isolates him from his fellow man.  When Johnny discovers that a popular politician will one day become president and start World War III, he embarks on a quixotic quest to try and stop the man.  Again, Johnny finds himself isolated from his few remaining friends and family members.  Johnny is ultimately successful in his quest to stop the politician, but the success comes at a huge personal cost for Johnny and his loved ones.

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In The Dead Zone, King once again embarks upon a study in the human condition.  The ultimate result is tragedy, but the book is one of his most thought provoking reads of all time.

3)  Insomnia

It may be odd to think of horror and fantasy (in the style of Lord of the Rings) as being two sides of the same coin, but oftentimes these two categories blur, and it can get hard to distinguish one from the other.  The book Insomnia definitely falls into the category of dark fantasy and has therefore earned its place on this list.

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Insomnia follows the adventures of Ralph Roberts, a widower in his late 60’s.  Ralph has become inflicted with insomnia and is unable to sleep at night.  He then begins seeing some strange sights in his hometown of Derry, Maine. Ralph also discovers that his neighbor Lois has also become inflicted with insomnia and is seeing the same strange sights that he is.  The two discover that they are actually pawns in a game of sorts, and that the stakes are very, very high, and losing the game could spell disaster for not just them, but all of existence.  The story switches from fantasy (alternate dimensions) to reality throughout the book, and also gives the viewpoint of the world from senior citizens, who are often invisible at best, or treated as sub-humans at worst.  Ralph and Lois manage to save the day, but like many “saves” in a Stephen King book, it comes at a huge personal cost to Ralph and Lois some years later.  We also see Ralph and Lois fall in love during their ordeal, which is one of the most endearing love stories in any book, let alone a Stephen King book.

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Insomnia does a wonderful job playing up the darker aspects of the fantasy genre (The characters Atropos and The Crimson King are a great example of this) and also manages to treat the subject of aging in our youth obsessed society with sensitivity and even a little bit of humor.

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2)  The Talisman

Stephen King is often criticized for not being “literary” enough.  This may be because he sells so many books.  Or it may be the subject matter that he addresses in his books.  However, these critics fail to realize that Charles Dickens was a best-selling author in his lifetime.  Or that both Dickens and Mark Twain also took on social issues in their works, and that both authors’ works had some degree of darkness.  And both Twain and Dickens are taught in high schools and colleges across the world today.  Someday, Stephen King will be held in the same regard, and his work will be seen as “literature” and become part of standard college reading lists.  When that is the case, college professors would do well to include the next entry on this list:  The Talisman.

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Much like Insomnia, The Talisman can be categorized as dark fantasy.  It is the story of Jack Sawyer, who embarks on a trip across the United States in order to obtain a magical object referred to as The Talisman, in order to save his mother from dying of cancer.  Jack learns (or rather, has his memory jogged) that he has the ability to travel to an alternate reality that he calls The Territories.  Magic is commonplace in The Territories, but The Territories also come with their own dangers, as monsters and evil rulers are encountered at almost every turn.  Jack also has to deal with evil men who conspire against him in the “real” world, but has friends who guide him on his journey.  These friends include a werewolf and a wise old man named Speedy Parker, who is much more than what he seems.  In the true spirit of any fantasy/adventure story, Jack is ultimately successful in his quest, and is able to defeat his enemies and save his mother’s life.

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Much like the works of Twain, Dickens and even Robert Lewis Stevenson, The Talisman is a story of fantastical high adventure.  And much like the works of Charles Dickens and others, it explores controversial subjects, which include sexual and physical abuse of children, crime and punishment in our society and just how far someone will go to save the life of a loved one.  In other words, The Talisman may look like a children’s story, but like Speedy Parker, it is much more that what it seems.

And now, for our number entry on this list…

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I bring you…

1) 11/22/63

As stated before, Stephen King came of age during one of the most tumultuous eras in our country’s history.  Not only did King attend college during the height of the Viet Nam War, he was also just entering adulthood upon the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  Like most of his generation, this impacted King, and likely even affected his writing.  King alluded to this event many times (Wolves of the Calla and The Drawing of the Three contain a few references to Kennedy) but never addressed the subject head-on.  That is, until he wrote the number one entry on this list: 11/22/63.

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11/22/63 tells the story of Jake Epping, who lives in present day Maine.  Jake has an academic idea of John F. Kennedy, but has never really given the subject much thought.  However, Jake begins to give the subject much more thought when his friend Al reveals to him that there is a portal in the local diner owned by Al that allows one to travel back in time into 1958.  One can travel back and forth between time periods, and return to the present with only two minutes passing.  It is also revealed that traveling back to the present may “un-do” changes in the past.  Al persuades Jake to travel back in time and prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy and possible change history for the better.  Jake becomes convinced of this and travels back in time to do just that.  Jake takes up residence in 1958, and makes new friends.  He also falls in love with a woman named Sadie, and actually begins to re-think his quest.  He realizes that the past is stubborn and does not want to be changed, but still continues on his quest.  Jake is ultimately successful in preventing the assassination, but at the cost of Sadie’s life.  Jake travels back to 2011 but barely recognizes his present, as the prevention of the assassination has indeed led to drastic changes in history that are not for the better.  Jake travels back to the portal and re-enters the present, therefore restoring the timeline.  This also restores the life of Sadie.  Jake realizes his presence in the past can only lead to disaster, and chooses not to travel back in time and pursue Sadie.  The book ends with Jake encountering an elderly lady who can only be Sadie, and sharing one last dance with her.

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11/22/63 is an epic story.  The story is equal parts historical fiction and a suspense thriller.  It also contains one of the best cases of a “doomed love” affair, as the romance between Jake and Sadie so sadly demonstrates.  The book is rich in detail with what life was really like in late 1950’s America, as many perceive that to be a simpler time period.  However, there is an incident where Jake encounters a sign for the “colored” restroom, and follows the sign.  The sign leads a tangle of grass and brier patches, providing Jake (and the reader) with a reality check as to what life was really like during that time period.  King provides a fascinating character study of Lee Harvey Oswald, who, to most people, is just a historical figure.  However, King manages to make him a little more human and even somewhat sympathetic, even though his actions are still ultimately evil.  In short, 11/22/63 is complex and rich book, that deals with major events in history (JFK, Viet Nam War, etc), while providing a human perspective on what many (especially younger readers like myself) view in an academic manner.  11/22/63 truly makes history come alive and actually become relevant.

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King has stated that 11/22/63 was the book that he always wanted to write about Viet Nam, JFK, etc.  However, this is Stephen King.  He always has a trick up his sleeve.  And the trick in 11/22/63 is a great one:  Jake encounters none other than Richie Tozier and Beverly Marsh, shortly after the Losers Club’s first confrontation with Pennywise the Clown.  And King is correct:  11/22/63 is the book about JFK, Viet Nam, etc that needed to be written.  But the fact that he was able to incorporate the evil clown from a novel that has inspired so many nightmares in what many would consider to be a historical (not horror) novel  is just further testament to the true genius that is Stephen King.

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So there it is.  The top 10 non-horror novels written by Stephen King.  So for the non-horror fan in your life, maybe one (or five) of these would make a great stocking stuffer!  Or if you have not read these, self present giving is always allowed!  And the only scary thing about these is that maybe you will just get hooked and be unable to stop reading!  But sometimes being scared is a good thing…happy reading, all!

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Man Crush Monday for 4/13/15

Good morning everyone, and I hope you all are doing well on this day known as Monday, aka Saturday and Sunday’s spinster sister that can’t get a date no matter how hard she tries!

But there is one great thing about Monday…

Yep, you guessed it:  its time for Man Crush Monday, in the extremely nerdy style that is this blog!

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Speaking of nerdy, it was not easy growing up nerdy.  Especially in small town Indiana.

Yep, you guessed.  Like every other nerd out there, I experienced quite my fair share of bullying growing up.  And being smarter than most of my teachers…well, lets just say this could leave trouble.  Big trouble, at times.

Loser

So, I spent a lot of time fending off trouble.  And I was a loner too.  Something about being smart does not usually lead to friendships and instantaneous popularity.

But that was not actually all bad for me.  I had my imagination, which was (and still is) better company that most all  people.  And I had my animal friends.  The animal friends were also better company that most all people.

And books.  Of course.  Always the books.  I spent copious amounts of time at the library, reading anything and everything I could get my hands on.  Getting an adult library card was way more exciting than finally turning 21.

And of course, Stephen King.  He was a big part of my time spent at the library.  I feverishly read almost anything I could find that he had written, and it seemed that I flew through a book a week.  I could not get enough of the man and his books.

When I was 12, my addiction to King started when I saw the TV mini series It.  I was scared to death of Pennywise when I watched Tim Curry’s performance (which is still classic).  I then figured out that this was based on a book, and I bought a copy.  And so it started.

pennywise

I read It in less than a week.  All 1000+ pages of it.  And I loved it.  It was scary and suspenseful.  The characters were realistic.  I loved the history King gave of Derry, and was pretty disappointed to find out Derry wasn’t real.  And the setting in the 1950’s resonated with me, it made my parents’ talk of their childhood resonate with me a little more.

Losers club 1

And, there was The Losers Club.  I loved that all the bullied kids in one town formed a club, and stood together to face both the human and non-human monsters in their lives.  And the friendship that they formed was so endearing.  I could tell just from King’s words how much the Losers really loved each other.  I imagined myself as one of them (which was not far off, as Beverly Marsh is a fellow ginger of above average height) and hanging out in their underground clubhouse.  I imagined myself going to library with Ben and checking out books.  Or listening to Bill read one of his stories.  The Losers were probably the coolest people I knew from my childhood.  And they still are.

Beverly

I also love to laugh.  And so did the Losers.  And most of the laughter was provide by…

None other than the subject of this week’s Man Crush Monday…Richie Tozier!

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Yes, it is safe to say I developed a bit of a crush on Richie (although Ben and Bill had special places in my heart as well).  But there is just something about a guy that can make me laugh.  What can I say, laughter is sexy?

And Richie was smart.  And compassionate.  And he was brave, willing to do anything for his friends to help beat Pennywise.  The whole package, in other words.

So without further ado, I give you Richie “Records” Tozier!

Richie Tozier


Name:  Richard Tozier.  Known as Richie, or sometimes affectionately called Trashmouth.

Profession:  Radio DJ and comedian.  Known for being create characters out of thin air, such as The Irish Cop and Bufford Kissdrivel.  He also does voices for these characters, bringing them to life.  This is a craft he has been honing annoying everyone around him to death  since childhood.

Known associates:  The Losers Club.  Seven is a lucky number, after all.

The Turtle, although this particular “reptile” is a bit useless times and can’t always help.

Maturin 1

Has also been known to associate with a certain mysterious time traveler.

Hobbies;  Laughter, of course!  He also enjoys giving his friends a hard time, especially poor Stan the Man, whom he picks on for being Jewish.  Also thinks rock and roll is okey-dokey.

Can also do the “lindy hop.”  See section on friends.

Enemies:  Pennywise the Dancing Clown.  Obviously.  Although, to be fair, Pennywise does not really make friends with anyone he meets.

Henry “Banana Heels” Bowers.  See section on bullying.

Henry Bowers

Nearly every adult he encountered during childhood.  See nickname.  Although a certain Irish cop is more of a frenemy than anything else.

Weapon of choice:  Sneezing powder.  Somehow, this is a preferred weapon of choice against certain shape-shifting werewolf creatures that wear Derry High School letter jackets.

Richie 3


 

Here you go ladies…Richie Tozier!  Beep beep er you are welcome!  He loves music, and plays allllll the hits!  Is up for almost anything on a date, except going to a Chinese restaurant and being served fortune cookies!  He also does not enjoy anything related to Paul Bunyan AT ALL!

Paul Bunyan

That’s it for this week’s Man Crush Monday.  Tune in next week as we talk some more about our feelings for fictional men!

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Oh Boy…

Lately, in our house, we have resorted to watching the show Last Week Tonight Show every chance we get.  Which is probably not so unusual, as its a pretty funny show, and John Oliver just kills it.

John Oliver guest hosting The Daily Show.

What is unusual (maybe) is that we are calling it “the news.”  Yes, a comedy show (well, it tells us that is a comedy show but I wonder sometimes) is being referred to as “the news.”

I mean, why would I get my news from a comedian, when we have good old trusty Fox News, with its blonde bimbos bombshells reading off what could only be considered hate speech?  Or MSNBC, who actually interrupts their newscasts to inform us that The Biebs has been arrested?  Isn’t that breaking news???

megyn-kelly-fox-news

Obviously, hate speech is not my thing.  And since I am about 20 years too old to consider the Biebs to be breaking news, I have to resort to watching Last Week Tonight…darn the luck!

And Sunday night’s episode…like a certain time traveling scientist, all I can say is oh boy…

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Oh boy…

Oh boy…things have gotten out of control in our country.

Oh boy…the NSA

Oh boy…our country and our lack of understanding…

Oh boy…the fact that the word “dick” needs to be said countless times to have an intelligent discussion about the Patriot Act

And maybe I just need to add another oh boy for posterity, so oh boy (again).

This interview between Edward Snowden and John Oliver was pretty good.

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And it was frightening, as well.

It is frightening that the NSA takes the time to (potentially) spy on people who are (probably) not terrorists.

It is also frightening that so many people (as evidenced by John Oliver’s street interviews) are not familiar with Edward Snowden and the exact ramifications of the Patriot Act.  And no, this is not to be confused with WikiLeaks (although I have to give that lady an A for effort, she really tried).

It is frightening that Oliver had to bring up “dick pics.”  Bring up “dick pics”, and you get people’s attention…who knew?

Mention The Patriot Act, and most people shrug it off.  But mention the government being able to access any “dick pics” that some naughty person may have stored on his/her smart phone…then we get a reaction other than a shrug!  Then we get people talking!

And I am not sure whether to laugh or cry.

Maybe I should laugh.  I mean, dick pics will always be funny, right?  Hey, penises are just pretty hilarious, period.

Or should I cry?

Cry at the fact that we live in a country where everyone is a terrorist until proven otherwise.  Guilty until proven innocent, in other words.

Cry at the fact that keeping a society safe means violating the fundamental rights of its citizens, especially its most vulnerable ones (aka ones that are not rich and/or corporations).

Cry at the fact that this has become so common place that people shrug it off in a random street interview with a comedian, until the term “dick pics” is brought into the conversation?

Or maybe I should I should cry at the fact that we are wasting so many resources to spy on people who are not terrorists, and neglecting those same citizens?

We have veterans who are homeless and committing suicide.

veteran 1

We have roads that are deteriorating at an alarming rate, and we are doing nothing about it.  John Oliver eloquently reminds us of that here.

Many families have trouble putting food on the table.  This is not due to a lack of food (we have more than enough to go around) but due to greed, plain and simple.

I could go on and on.  We are wasting resources to violate our constitutional rights, and the fact that these resources are not devoted to what really matters (and being able to feed our kids and take care of our veterans are things that really matter to me) also hurts us.  So its a double whammy.

Whammy_by_tpirman1982

Personally, I don’t feel threatened by “terrorism.”  This is just another boogeyman created by the government, to detract away from the real issues (those mentioned above, and many more).  This has been done time and time again.  How else this country be able to go to senseless wars so much?  Distracting the population is a useful tool at times.

What I do feel threatened by is the thought of a veteran not having the resources he/she needs to get the proper help, so that he/she can take care of themselves and their families.

I feel threatened by the fact that resources become more and more scarce.  Anyone who is able to work should be able to find a full time job to take care of his/her household.  No child should have to go hungry because food is somehow considered a “privilege.”

And I am all for national security. Tragedies like 9/11 should never happen again.  And I believe that the measures we have taken at airports and so forth will prevent a tragedy like that from happening again.

What I don’t believe is the need for the government to have access to my personal information, like the picture on my phone (naughty or otherwise).  The government having access to my info, whether it be my cute kitty and puppy pics (insert awww right here, I have so many of those), pics of Charleston sunsets (which are completely gorgeous) or naughty pics (I will leave that one alone, actually), does not keep myself or anyone else in this country safe.  Nor will it prevent a terrorist from attempting to blow up a building, opening fire at some large public event or any other horrible act a person may be contemplating at any time.  The only thing that is accomplished by the government being able to spy on its (mostly) innocent citizens is mistrust.  Or total complacency.  Neither of which are what we want.

Roland 1

 

So yes, this episode of Last Week Tonight made me feel like crying (although there was plenty of laughter.  I mean penises.  Penises will always be funny and that is a fact!).

But the Patriot Act and its implications are no laughing matter.  Our constitutional rights are not “dick pics”, they are part of what is supposed to make this country great.  And taking care of our citizens, especially the vulnerable ones, is no laughing matter either, and I take that quite seriously.

So we need to wake up, and start having some discussions.  Maybe we don’t need to talk about “dick pics”, but we need to start talking.  Period.

Or, we end up like this (in the immortal words of the great poet Robert Zimmerman):

Oh, but you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now’s the time for your tears.

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Man Crush Monday for 4/6/15

Good morning, everyone and I hope you had a great Easter weekend, and managed to keep that bunny creature at bay!

scary Easter bunny

But the holiday is over, and back to work for me…that can only mean one thing.

Yep, its Monday.  And its now time for Man Crush Monday, since we have to find something to keep the day that is otherwise known as the weekend’s ugly sister bearable!

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So, I know its probably bad for me, but I kind of like guys that are a little bit troubled.  Not a bad boy per se, but ones that come with a little baggage.

I don’t know, maybe its because I have so much baggage, maybe I am looking for someone to complement the set of bags I have been carrying for so long.

Someone like this guy…

Jax 1

Yes, my name is Leah and I have spent the past three weeks or so watching Sons of Anarchy.  No make, that binge-watching Sons of Anarchy.  Well, actually, shamelessly binge-watching Sons of Anarchy to the complete neglect of almost everything else one may do on a Sunday afternoon (just kidding on that last part…maybe).  In fact, my obsession with the show is kind of reminding me of this guy’s obsession…

Roland and David

Yes, it is that bad.  And no, I will not seek help.  Never.

But it is ok, as Sons of Anarchy has caught a lot of people’s attention.

SOA

Including this guy’s attention!  Yep, good old Uncle Stevie is also apparently another fanatic and neglects everything to watch this fantastic show!

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Well, probably not really…I don’t think he has been neglecting writing books, since he has written a few since the show has aired.

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Although Mr. King did find time to guest star in a episode as a character named Bachman (I see what you did there, Kurt Sutter) aka The Cleaner.  And no, he wasn’t cleaning meteor shit!

Jordy Verrill

 

And Kurt Sutter (it seems) has even given Mr. King a nod, by titling an episode “Gilead.”  I am sure Roland would actually have respect for Jax and his band ka-tet of gunslingers, although I don’t think there would be any kind of collaboration (thankfully).

Roland 1

 

And like almost any part of popular culture, Sons of Anarchy has made its way into the Stephen King universe.

In fact, its linked to none other than the subject of today’s Man Crush Monday!

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Yes, I present to you…Danny Torrance!

Oh yes, the redrum kid from The Shining is this week’s Man Crush Monday subject.  Of course, in the book Dr. Sleep, Danny is no longer a child.  And apparently, he grew up to look like Jax Teller from Sons of Anarchy…who’d have thunk it?

redrum

And Danny is troubled.  Maybe not to the degree of Jax Teller, but he is troubled.  Seems an alcoholic dad and spending a winter in a really scary, haunted hotel will do that to a guy!

the-overlook-hotel

 

So, here you go ladies, I give you Danny Torrence…you are welcome!


 

Full name:  Daniel Anthony Torrance.  Is also know as “Dr. Sleep.”  Prefers to be called Dan by family and friends.

Profession:  Official title is orderly.  However, his true occupation involves helping people make a journey of sorts.  And if you have to hire him to help you make this journey, you are in a bad way!

Family:  Wendy Torrance (d) Mother.

Jack Torrance (d) Father.  Unfortunate things happen when one doesn’t check the pressure on the boilers in hotels, especially when said hotel is haunted.

Dick Halloran (d)  Is not technically family, but is one of the few that never truly abandoned our troubled friend, even in death.

Friends:  Alcoholics Anonymous community.  Yes, we said he was troubled.  See section on father.

Azzie:  Every doc needs an assistant, and sometimes these assistants are of the feline variety.  However, if this particular assistant comes calling on you…well, just see the last sentence in the “Profession” section of this bio!

Tony:  Our friends from childhood are never far from us, and Tony is a great example of this.  And sometimes, these friends will pass their love to the next generation.

Abra Stone:  Sometimes, friends become your family…literally.

Enemies: He does not have enemies to the extent of someone like Jax Teller, but Dan Torrance does have a few enemies.

Rose the Hat:  Death is scary.  Death is not fun.  But why deal with death when you can suck the life force out of kids who have more than enough of it to go around?  In other words, kids who shine!  Apparently, evil, haunted hotels are not the only entities who demand loads of psychic energy.  Quasi immortal women who travel the country in RV’s with their friends whipping boys and girls  are also apparently in the market for this commodity.  In fact, this group’s need for this particular kind of energy literally makes the members sick.

Woman in Room 237:  See above section on Tony.  Sometimes, our childhood ghosts never leave us, and remain alive and well.  And sometimes, you just need to box all that stuff up and store it some place where it is not in the way.

Rose the Hat


So there you have it, folks…Dan Torrence, all growed up!  Red rum is a thing of the past, but that’s what happens when you stop drinking and finally confront those awful demons.  Dan is single as they come, and would probably be a pretty cool date.  However, I don’t think he would be too crazy about camping, especially if you insist on a RV!

Tune in next week for more Man Crush Monday, where we pine over more unavailable (but yummy) men!

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What Happens When You Frost a Dog Turd

My home state of Indiana has passed a new bill, all in the name of religious freedom.

You may have heard of it, actually.  People are talking about it, for some reason.

Even some famous writer guy is talking about it.  Not quite sure I remember the name, though.

And some people think that it just means you don’t have to make a cake for someone just because you don’t like their lifestyle choices.

chocolate cake

What a bummer…I mean, to deprive someone of cake?  Cake is always so delicious fire and brimstone is not a good flavor for cake, why would we want to deprive someone of it, even if they do stuff behind closed doors that you don’t agree with really none of your fucking business?

Oh, religious freedom…right.  Because, somehow, if you are a business owner, servicing people who do things on THEIR OWN PERSONAL TIME that you don’t do and don’t agree with inhibits your religious freedom.

So, why should you sell them a cake?  And according to this law, you don’t have to.  Yay for freedom!

And we keep coming back to cake.  As awesome as cake is, why should it get to have all the fun with this new law?

Everyone and everything should get to benefit from this new law!  And lets not leave out any religions…heck, lets make sure that atheism, the cult of the spaghetti monster, the cult of Cthulhu, devil worshippers, etc get their rights too…I mean, freedom, right?  RIGHT???

Cthulhu_Poster_1_by_Agersomnia

I work in the tax resolution industry and I represent clients before the IRS.  I am agnostic and generally do not agree with most of the tenets of Christianity.  So let me benefit from this new law…why should I have to prepare tax returns for a Christian?  I mean, I don’t agree with the idea that you have to attend church every Sunday and participate in all these rituals to be considered a good person.  No one is forcing me to attend or participate, but I DON’T AGREE WITH IT AND SHOULD NOT HAVE TO PREPARE THAT TAX RETURN BECAUSE I DON’T AGREE WITH IT, DAMMIT!!!

Or wait, I am an EMT.  I also worship Satan in my spare time (Lucifer is charismatic, what else can I say?)  Someone who is a Christian needs life saving services.  But…they are wearing a cross around their neck!  And that offends my Satanist sensibilities…why do Christians need to flaunt it so much?  Ew, no one want to see that…quit doing that stuff in public already!  Furthermore, I am not going to provide that Christian with any kind of medical service, even CPR!  That cross just grosses me out too much to do my job, so screw giving that filthy Christian any kind of life saving services!

devil

 

So are you disturbed yet?

Or maybe you are outraged?  Really angry?

Or are you frightened?  Scared to death?  I mean, being denied medical services is pretty scary, right?  What human being in their right mind would do that?

Well, good!  Being disturbed, angry, frightened and scared to death is how you should feel!

Imagine how the LGBT community feels right now.  I bet every one of them is outraged, frightened and perhaps scared to death right now.

Someone could deny them needed services, like having their tax returns prepared.  All because the tax preparer now has freedom to practice their religion, and discrimination is part of that freedom, according to laws like these.

Or maybe it will cross over from the annoying (being denied tax preparation services) into deadly. That’s right, deadly.  Denying life saving CPR to someone because of their sexual orientation is deadly, in my book.  And while someone may be able to go to another bakery for their wedding cake, another tax preparation firm, etc (often this is the argument), when can someone find another hospital when they have been in a deadly car wreck or house fire and need life saving services?  Yeah, not really an option, is it?  So lets throw out the “go somewhere else” argument out the window right now, because that argument is as dead as a door nail.

This law is way beyond not wanting to bake a cake for a couple.  Or serve them a pizza for that matter.  And I am sure most members of the LGBT community realize this, and they are right to be frightened at the implications.  For the implications are frightening.  No one, of any race, creed, color, religious affiliation or sexual orientation should have to fear that they or a member of their families should be denied any kind of service, vital or otherwise.

Our country was founded on freedom.  Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to bear arms, etc.

And I believe our founding fathers had a multitude of other freedoms in mind when the Constitution was written.  Freedom for all people (including the LGBT community) to be able to be themselves.  Freedom to do whatever you want in your house, behind closed doors with two (or however many) consenting adults.

But freedom does not include discrimination.  Practicing your religion how you see fit does not mean that you can deny services to anyone (essential or otherwise).  Unlike many other parts of the world, we are incredibly privileged to be able to practice our religion and not (literally) lose our heads.  This is not so in many other parts of the world.  And I bet that if you asked anyone who has actually been persecuted for their religious beliefs, that he/she would not list being able to discriminate against others as part of the privileges in a truly free society.  I would imagine keeping one’s head would be on the list instead.

Queen of Hearts

 

To paraphrase that writer guy again, dog turds are dog turds.  We don’t need them to have our freedom in this country.  Moreover, we do not need to frost the dog turds.  Dog turds, frosted or not, are not necessary in a country with as many privileges as we are afforded in this one.  And states like Indiana would do well to remember that fact.

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How I spent my vacation: My review of Wind Through the Keyhole

Ah, vacation.  Nothing like a vacation when you have been busting your hump during tax season, and dealing with every single question that seems to come out of the woodwork between January 5th and April 15th…well, maybe this is just me!

vacation 1

Well, everyone deserves a vacation.  Especially our favorite ka-tet.  Roland, Eddie, Jake, Susannah and Oy did also bust their humps, after all.  Maybe taking on an insane talking monorail, fighting off killer lobsters and birthing people from the real world to Mid-World isn’t quite as stressful as tax season, but all that is still taxing (see what I did there) and these guys need a break just as much as the rest of us do!

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And the tet did indeed receive a break.  The weather may not have been so great, but they were treated to story time by none other than their friendly neighborhood gunslinger!  And the reader also got a bit of a break from that pesky Tower thingy that Stephen King has been torturing us with for so long, and was treated to a little more insight into Roland’s mysterious world, although the questions still remain.

Roland 1

So let’s all take a break, and venture into my review of The Wind Through the Keyhole.


Synopsis

The Wind Through the Keyhole picks up shortly after the events at the end of Wizard and Glass.  Roland and his friends are continuing with their journey, but run into some trouble in the form of what Roland refers to as a “starkblast” (severe windstorm).  The tet is able to find shelter, however, and settles into their shelter for a few days.  The storm causes Roland to recall an incident from his early manhood, along with a story that his mother used to tell him at bedtime, titled “The Wind Through the Keyhole.”  Roland is convinced by his friends to tell both stories, and happily obliges.

starkblast 1

The incident from Roland’s boyhood takes places about two years after the events in Meijis, and the death of Roland’s mother is still fresh on his mind.  Roland’s father calls upon Roland and his friend Jamie DeCurry one day to assist him with a matter in one of the surrounding towns.  It appears that a creature known as the Skin-Man is terrorizing the town.  The creature is human, but is a shapeshifter, and may or may not realize what it has done.  Roland and Jamie take a train to the town, but it is derailed and they finish the journey on horseback.  On the way to the town, Roland and Jamie encounter the convent of women who had sheltered his mother, Gabrielle, after her affair with Marten Broadcloak.  He learns that one of the women was attacked by the Skin-Man and survived, but is horribly disfigured.

Jamie De Curry

Once Roland and Jamie arrive in the town, they team with local law enforcement to investigate the mysterious deaths.  The Skin-Man has attacked a farm and killed nearly every inhabitant of that farm.  However, there is one survivor, a boy of about 11 years old named Bill Streeter.  Roland hypnotizes Bill Streeter, and learns that Bill has seen the Skin-Man in his human form, but only his feet.  Bill tells Roland that the Skin-Man has an unusual tattoo.  Roland and Jamie determine that the Skin-Man is likely one of the local salt miners and is also able to ride a horse.  Roland puts Bill in one of the cells in the local jail (for Bill’s protection), and begins the process of rounding up all the salt miners in town who may have the identifying tattoo.  Roland and Jamie plan to bring the suspects to the local jail, in the hopes that Bill may be able to identify the Skin-Man.

In order to bring some comfort to Bill Streeter, who is still in shock from the attack and the loss of his father, Roland bunks with him in the jail cell, and tells him the bedtime story told to him by his mother, titled “The Wind Through the Keyhole.”

“The Wind Through the Keyhole” tells the story of young Tim Ross.  Tim Ross lives in a forest, in a land that is probably part of Mid-World.  Tim’s life is ordinary until he is 11 years old, when he loses his father.  He is told by his father’s friend Big Kells that Tim’s father, known as Big Ross, was killed by a dragon.  The death of Big Ross leaves Tim’s mother Nell in dire straights and she is unable to pay her taxes on the land she lives on with her son.

Eyes of the Dragon 1

In a moment of desperation, Nell marries Big Kells.  This proves to be almost an immediate mistake, as Big Kells begins to abuse Tim’s mother.  In the meantime, the Covenant Man, who is the tax collector in Tim’s part of the world, makes a visit to Tim and his family, in an attempt to collect the taxes that are due.  However, the Covenant Man also does more than to attempt to collect taxes.  He shows Tim the true nature of the death of father, and it is revealed that Tim’s father was murdered by Big Kells.  It is also revealed that Big Kells has beaten Tim’s mother so badly that she has lost her vision and also suffered a severe concussion.

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Tim rushes back to his mother, as he fears for her life.  He is also extremely angry at Big Kells, and the village searches for him, so that he can answer for the murder of Tim’s father.  Tim also wants to restore his mother’s vision, and sets off on a quest to attempt that feat.  His school teacher, the Widow Smack, has armed him with a gun, along with a warning about the true nature of the Covenant Man.

WTK 2

Tim wanders deep into the forest.  He is nearly killed by a dragon, but pleads for his life and is granted mercy.  Tim also encounters humanoid creatures that reside in the swamp, and these creature mistake him for a gunslinger and are more than willing to aid him on his quest.  They give him food, and a GPS like device with a strangely human voice that calls itself Daria.  Daria aids Tim on his quest, providing him with directions to his destination.

A few days into his quest, Tim comes across a structure known as as Dogan.  Some wild billy-bumblers warn Tim that he must take shelter, as a starkblast is on the way.

Oy 1

Tim discovers that there is a cage, and locked in that case is an extremely large tyger.  Tim choose not to kill the tyger, and instead seeks shelter with the creature.  There is a magical blanket in the cage with the creature, and this blanket keeps both Tim and his mysterious new friend warm and sheltered from the starkblast.

tyger

The next morning, the tyger urges Tim to place drops of a magic potion in its eyes.  Tim is afraid, but complies with the request.  The tyger then transforms into a human man who is obviously a magician.  In fact, the tyger is actually none other than perhaps the most famous magician of all time:  Maerlyn.

Maerlyn's rainbow

Maerlyn tells Tim that a creature called the Red King had imprisoned him in a moment of vulnerability.  Maerlyn gives Tim the rest of the magic potion, and tells him to use it to restore his mother’s site.  He also tells Tim to wear his father’s coin around his neck, in remembrance of his father, but to give his mother his father’s ax.  Tim is then transported home via the magical blanket.

magic carpet

Tim rushes into his house.  The Widow Smack is asleep  and his mother is also resting in her bed.  There is no sign of Big Kells.  Tim restores his mother’s site.  He takes another look at the Widow Smack, and is horrified to discover she is actually dead.

Big Kells then attacks Tim from behind, nearly killing him.  However, Tim had followed Maerlyn’s instructions to the letter, and gave his mother his father’s ax.  Tim’s mother attacks Big Kells with ax and kills him, saving the life of her son.  Tim and his mother live out the rest of their days in relative peace, although Tim becomes a gunslinger and has a few adventures.

Roland then finishes telling his story to Bill Streeter.  Bill is comforted a little, so Roland takes him to a local bar to identify the Skin-Man who killed his father.  Bill identifies the man by his tattoo and the scar that runs through the tattoo.  The man then changes to a snake and kills the mine foreman, but Roland puts a bullet through the creature’s skull.

Roland and Jamie are heralded as heroes, and the town celebrates. Roland and Jamie head back to Gilead, and drop Bill off at the women’s convent.  Roland is given a letter from his mother.  He learns that his mother knew that she would die at the hands of her son, but that she still went back to their home to see him one last time.  His mother also lets Roland know in the letter that she forgives him for his crime.  Roland then forgives his mother for her adultery, and forgives himself for killing her.

Gabrielle 1

Roland finishes the tale, and the storm passes.  Roland, Eddie, Jake, Susannah and Oy then continue along the Path of the Beam in their quest to seek the Dark Tower.

the dark tower cover_0


 

My Thoughts

The Wind Through the Keyhole is quite different in tone that the rest of the Dark Tower series, and even from most of King’s other work.  However, these differences are what makes it unique, and they are  why I love it.

As a child, I was a huge fan of fairy tales.   I remember that my parents had several large books of fairy tales which they read to me (probably repeatedly, but I am sure I wasn’t counting).  When I grew old enough to read on my own, I re-read those stories again, and checked out countless books on fairy tales, fables and myths from the library.  These type of stories hold a treasured place in my heart, and you can bet if I reproduce my spawn my own children will be huge fairy tale geeks as well.

fairytale_landscape_by_reinmar84-d6uaii7

So imagine my surprise (although King really should not surprise at this point, since he has proven himself the master of surprise) that my favorite writer, who is billed as a “horror writer” to boot, took the time to indulge me and write me a fairy tale.  But that is exactly what Wind Through the Keyhole is:  a fairy tale.  There is a magician.  In fact, two magicians:  The Covenant Man and good old Maerlyn.  There is adventure.  The adventure is even in a forest.  And King even included an evil stepparent, since what fairy tale would be complete without an evil stepparent?  Just like all of his other work, it is tied into that awesome universe he has spent nearly 40 years creating.  Even evil stepparents have their place among master gunslingers in the Stephen King universe.

Wind Through the Keyhole is also fascinating in that it provides us with a glimpse into the world of Roland, and teases us a little more about just what kind of a world Roland comes from, and how close it is to our own world.  The Coventry Man even references our world, and makes mention of a vehicle called a Dodge Dart.  The device Tim uses as guide on his journey seems to be somewhat similar to the app known as Siri, that many people rely upon when they feel the need to ask a question to their smartphones.  Even Maerlyn is a familiar figure, as almost everyone knows the legend of King Arthur and his magician Merlin.

Merlin 1

Another thing I remember about fairy tales is that most of them contained some kind of life lesson at some point in the story (be nice to your sisters or you will get your eyes pecked out per Cinderella, beauty is in the eye of the beholder per Beauty and the Beast, etc).  And Wind Through the Keyhole also delivered on this premise.  And the lesson wasn’t gory, no one got their eyes pecked out, nor was it preachy.  The lesson was forgiveness.  And forgiveness is a beautiful thing when it is sincere.  But forgiveness is also a difficult thing, especially when we need to forgive ourselves.  At the beginning of the story, Roland is still grieving the death of his mother, and blames himself.  He is unable to let go of the guilt.  It takes a letter from essentially beyond the grave in order for Roland to finally move past his guilt.  Once Roland realizes that his mother knew what was in store for her, but lets her love for her son win out in the end, he is finally able to move on.  And Gabrielle’s act of forgiveness for her what she knows her son will do to her is simply beautiful.  Somehow, in a what is almost a children’s story, King was able to sneak in a lesson that all children (and most adults, for that matter) would benefit from:  forgiveness is a beautiful and needed act.

Forgive


 

So here you have it:  my recap of my, er the vacation of our favorite ka-tet!  But like all good things, vacations must come to an end.  I am back to work, and so are they.  Join me next week as my next review throws them to the wolves…The Wolves of the Calla, that is!

Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

batman and robin


 

Time for connections fun!  Here are some of the connections to King’s other work that I found in The Wind Through the Keyhole:

-The connection that stands out the most is the character the Covenant Man.  This character can be none other than Randall Flagg in some form.  Flagg is perhaps King’s most ubiquitous villain, and the fact that he shows up in a “fairy tale” is just further proof of that.  Flagg is featured in Eyes of the Dragon, The Stand and a few other King works.  Obviously, Flagg is a timeless source of pestilence in the King universe.

the stand

-A being called the Red King is also mentioned.  This being is probably the Crimson King, who is another ubiquitous villain in the King universe.  The Crimson makes an appearance in the novel Insomnia, and it is implied that he is responsible for many of the evil deeds that are committed in the King universe.

The_Crimson_King_by_Verin88

-The Widow Smack’s first name is Ardelia.  Ardelia is also the name of the creature who torments the protagonists in the short story The Library Policeman, which is part of the collection of Four Past Midnight.  This creature is similar to Widow Smack, in that it attempts to “teach” children by telling them awful versions of their favorite fairy tales.  The Widow Smack is also a teacher, but a kind one.  Also, like Ardelia Lortz, she seems to possess some magic powers, but again, she uses her powers for good and not harm.

The_Library_Policeman_by_TheHouseOfIdeas

-The mine foreman states there appeared to be a part in the salt mine that was infested by some of otherwordly, supernatural presence, and it was responsible for turning one of his men into a shape-shifter.  This brings to mind Tak, the villain in the books Desperation and The Regulators.  Tak was an entity originally discovered in the mines of the Southwest, and was able to possess people’s bodies and force them to commit acts that they normally would not commit.  Tak had many powers, and one of them may have been the ability to shape shift.

Tak_Likes_TV_by_bluefreak

 

-The phrase “There’s no place like home” is uttered.  Of course, this is from the movie The Wizard of Oz, which was heavily referenced in the book Wizard and Glass.

wizard of oz 1

-The character Maerlyn is a major character in The Wind Through the Keyhole.  Maerlyn has been alluded to in previous books in the Dark Tower series, but not much was known about him.  It was even implied that Randall Flagg and Maerlyn were one in the same, although King has now shown us otherwise.  Maerlyn is the creator of the Wizard’s Rainbow mentioned in Wizard and Glass, and may not necessarily be on the side of the good.  However, in Wind Through the Keyhole, Maerlyn was shown to have a vulnerable side (the Red King imprisons him while he is drunk).  Maerlyn also helped Tim and saved his life via the advice he gave.  In other words, he did not seem to be an evil being and actually appeared to be a benevolent one.  It is difficult to tell where Maerlyn belongs in the grand scheme of the Stephen King universe and just exactly what he is fighting for.

Merlin