Castle Rock: Season 2, Episode 6 Recap and Review

Well, it is that time of year.

The time of year when Halloween is officially in the rear view mirror, but not so far behind that putting up your Christmas tree should really be outlawed by the Geneva Convention, in a just and fair world.

The time of year when your football team decides to lose to the football equivalent of House of Hufflepuff

In other words, it is the time of year for all that is spooky and scary.

Now, I admit that I am a wimp when it comes to scary stuff.

I mean, I cover my eyes at it, especially when my house’s quarterback throws an interception in a pocket so clean he could have ordered pizza and taken an Instagram selfie, when playing against the Hufflepuffs.

But, being scared is fun.

So I continue to do things like watch Colts football.

And read books written by that guy who is known for writing scary books.

And oh yeah…

Watch shows like Castle Rock.

I need shows like Castle Rock, in fact.

I mean, I have to balance out the horror of Colts football with something, right?

The latest of episode of Castle Rock, titled The Mother, served that purpose nicely.

Once again, episode 6 was tense, scary and an emotional roller coaster as well.

A nice counter to watching my house lose to those Hufflepuffs.

So, let’s dive into the recap and review of episode 6.

And, as always:

Continue reading

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.

DV_To_Getty_3297927_0.jpg

 

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.

 

 

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.

DT movie 3

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?

troll 1
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.

pennywise

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

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…

011_sam_beckett-359x194

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.

snowden-john-oliver-2

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.

bob dylan 1

 

 

 

 

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.

stock-vector-dog-poop-sign-124818916

 

 

 

They can’t fucking leave well enough alone, can they?

Oh, fucking joy.

So fucking glad to know to you know you guys are still proliferating.

I was getting pretty fucking worried there for a minute.  I actually thought you fuckers may be going extinct…*gasp.*

Well, I was fucking wrong.  Unlike the dodo bird, you fuckers are alive and well…oh, how I fucking rejoice!

dodo

Just when we thought the internet trolls were on the verge of disappearance, we have been proved fucking wrong!

The trolls are back, and boy are they fucking busy!

troll 1

And in fucking rare form this time!

Fuck yeah, now the trolls are attacking 13 year old girls!

mone-davis-1024

Why the fuck should you attack people of nearly legal age, when there are 13 year old girls just ripe for the picking?

Yeah, this chic is a fucking bad ass.  And she’s fucking black.  Because, you know…she’s fucking black!  Obviously, that means she has no fucking feelings, and is also fucking code for really being fucking 30 years old, instead of fucking 13!

I mean, after all, a fucking 13 year old black girl who has accomplished so much in her fucking (so far) short life is a real fucking threat!  A fucking 70 mph fastball, at age 13?  Oh, no…a fucking young woman of color who is on her way to doing fucking great things with her life!  Obviously, the only way to neutralize her is to attack her sexuality!  She has to fucking learn, right?  You are just fucking setting her up for the harsh realities, right?  Attacking women (of color or otherwise) is perfectly fucking acceptable!

After all, attacking women by using their sexuality against them is not fucking new!  And its not like women are subject to more fucking harassment throughout their lives that men will (probably) be ever subjected to.  No fucking double standards, no fucking double standards at all!

Oh, and you had your position on the baseball team taken away by the college you attend…what the fuck?  What were they thinking?  Who doesn’t want a troll to represent them?

Fat-Green-Troll

Luckily for you, Ms. Davis is a pretty classy young lady (here is the definition of classy, since I just want to make sure that you have it on hand, for future Twitter trolling purposes).  She actually wants your college to give you back your position on the baseball team, and she has offered you full fucking forgiveness!

After all, someone has to show some class here, and why not the fucking victim?  Its not like she probably won’t spend the rest of her life dealing with this kind of harassment, simply due to her color and gender! No way will she have to work at least three times as hard as you to fucking prove herself, even though she shouldn’t have to!  As the fucking song goes, she has been “sentenced to a life of ease”, being a woman, and a woman of color on top of that!

So good job, trolls!  You have fucking triumphed again!  You fucking insulted an awesome, accomplished young woman, and are probably going to come out smelling like fucking roses!  You will be surviving to continue to fucking do what you do best:  harass the fuck out of defenseless people, and put them on the fucking defensive as well!

smelling like roses

I know I will fucking sleep better at night, with the knowledge that you guys will survive yet another fucking day!

internet-troll 3

 

My Sneakers

Many years ago, I read a short story by Stephen King in his collection Nightmares and Dreamscapes.  The story was titled “Sneakers.”  In this story, the main character, John Tell (or Tell), encounters a bathroom stall with a pair of sneakers behind it.  Not so unusual at first, but unusual is common place in a Stephen King story.  Tell quickly realizes that the sneakers actually belong to a ghost, as they have flies swarming around them.  Tell finally finds the courage to open the bathroom stall, and speaks to the unfortunate owner of the sneakers.  The ghost tells him that he was a former cocaine dealer to rich clientele, which included Tell’s boss.  Tell’s boss brutally murdered the cocaine dealer and never saw justice.  The ghost is finally able to move on to whatever may lie ahead, because someone finally heard his story.

Sneakers 1

 

For some reason, this story has always stuck with me.  It is a great metaphor:  who doesn’t have a pair of sneakers, hiding behind a bathroom stall, with flies buzzing around them, causing others who walk by to want to run away and not ever, ever open that door?

In other words, don’t we all have a story about ourselves that may cause others to run (maybe even run screaming) and hide (so we believe) but a story that should be told regardless, so that we are free to finally be ourselves, and be accepted by those who matter the most?

Well, I know I have a story (or three, but I will stick to the one for today).  This is not something that is well known about me, but it sure defined my life for a long period.

I got married when I was way too young (age 22).  And I  got married way too quickly (after 5 months).  And after 5 months, you don’t really know a person.  No, you really don’t know that person at all.

The first 5 years were rocky, but I stood by my ex.  I firmly believed that things would work out.  And we appeared to be on the right path.  My ex finally graduated from college and got his first “real job.”  Things started to look up.  Way up, in fact.

However, things started to look way down again.  In October of 2005, my ex was fired from his job.  This was someone who went into a funk if he thought someone criticized the color of his shirt.  So losing his job nearly put him out of his mind.  And then the lies began.

Roland 1

His time spent on the computer became almost astronomical.  He said he was for his job search.  Naively, I believed him.  Even though he became furtive and angry when I was anywhere near the computer, I believed him.  Or perhaps I chose to become a human ostrich, and bury my head in the sand.

denial

Until I got a phone call at work the week after Thanksgiving.  This phone call would change my life forever.

My ex proceeded to inform me that he had been arrested.  I was in total shock.  But that was just the beginning.

My ex had not just been arrested.  He was ARRESTED.  And by ARRESTED, I mean he was arrested for one of the worst crimes someone can commit.

My ex was arrested for a sex crime.  Even worse, he was arrested for a sex crime against a minor.  A minor.  Someone the law considers a child, who is unable to consent to anything, and must be protected against those who would take advantage of a child’s naivete.  People like my ex.

So could it get any worse?  Surely, it couldn’t get any worse?

I have learned not to ask the above question.  Because sometimes, you don’t want that answer.  But I got that answer anyway.

My ex was arrested in an undercover police sting, in the style of the show To Catch a Predator.  He believed he was speaking to a 14 year old girl named Ashley.  He was buying a teddy bear and candy for someone who was in ninth grade (or so he though).

But Ashley was not real.  Ashley was actually an undercover police officer.  Grants had been issued by the state of South Carolina to set up a program to catch people who felt the need to solicit minors.  People like my ex.  My ex was the first person caught using grant money for this program.

And it became big news.  There were cameras in the courtroom.  Those cameras were not there for the run of the mill assaults, DUI’s and other “petty” crimes that were typical in that court room.  They were there for my ex.  And by extension, for me, as I had promised to stand by my ex, for better or for worse.

And over the next few days, I got a taste of “worse.”  The newspaper in our town had picked up the story, along with all the local news channels.  I was humiliated, and also frightened.  Going out in public became a dreaded experience.  Even returning to work was difficult.  I know that most only felt sympathy for me, but I was still humiliated.  I had been cheated on in the worst way possible.  I felt dirty and ashamed.  I was also basically issued a gag order and was unable to really speak to anyone about my pain, as that may damage his upcoming trial.

Bart

I had become the dirty pair of sneakers behind the bathroom stall.  People walked by, too nervous to open the stall.  I began to feel invisible, almost like a ghost, unable to speak to anyone and have my story finally validated.

Shark 1

To make a long story short, the next several months were among the hardest and most painful that I had ever experienced in my life.  I had no one to vent to, other than my ex and his family (in retrospect, I was the minnow in the shark pool).  I stood by ex and tried to forgive him.  He went to trial, and because of rich parents who could afford the premier attorney in town, he was only given 5 years of probation, but was forced to register as a sex offender (that’s one public profile that no one wants to have).

Seven months after the trial, I finally found the courage to leave my ex.  I also finally found the courage to begin to tell my story and no longer hide what I had experienced.

People were finally able to open the bathroom stall.  And the ghost behind that stall was no longer silent.  Her story could finally be told.  Her sneakers were no longer filthy, with guilt and shame buzzing around them, like flies around a dead body.

Finally, the sneakers were clean.  And their owner was finally able walk out of the stall.  And she did walk out of the stall.  And then she began to run.  Because when someone is finally free after being trapped in a dirty bathroom stall for so long, she is unable to contain her joy, and is eager to run towards whatever may lie ahead.

Good-Running-Form

Celebrating my Independence Day

So, it is now March, according to the calendar.

And I am thinking of Independence Day.

Yes, Independence Day.  In March.  March, when its cold and rainy, and we are nowhere close to being able to have a cookout, or go to the beach or even wear flip flops without freezing our feet off.

So why am I thinking about Independence Day?  Isn’t that on July 4th, when its summer in our country and we get to watch the pretty fireworks light up the sky?

Well, that’s the Independence Day recognized nationally and commemorated to recognize the birth of the United States as a country.  And its a great holiday, ensuring that winter doesn’t get to have all the holiday fun.

cookout

While our country celebrates its Independence Day in July, I celebrate mine in March.  Mine may not be a holiday, and it may be too cold to have a cookout, watch fireworks or do anything even remotely associated with summertime but this day will always stand out on my calendar, if no one else’s.

For somewhere around the date of March 5th, 2007, I finally gained my independence.  For nearly seven years, I was trapped in a living hell of a marriage.  Things were done that I will not speak of, not even from the relative anonymity of this blog and my computer.  I married someone with the idea of being loved and honored, per the vows that I took at that courthouse.  However, my marriage was far from anything even remotely resembling words like “love”, “honor” and “in sickness and in health.”  Instead, I lived in a nightmare for seven years, either feeling desperately trapped, or denying that I was feeling desperately trapped.  I became a shell of the smart, sassy and fierce woman that I was.  Instead, I was dulled down, much like the embers of a fire when it dies:  still smoldering, but lacking any real flame.  Occasionally, the fire would reignite, but not for long, since not upsetting the management had become my main goal in most of those seven years.

But out of the blue, my ex husband did me the only favor he ever did for me:  he cheated on me.  And he didn’t even try to hide it.  I did not consider it a favor or a blessing at the time.  Rather, I was humiliated.  He had cheated on me.  Who gets cheated on? Obviously, people who aren’t good enough, right?  So if I wasn’t good enough for him, obviously I was broken.  And good enough for no one else, either.

Bart

But, as the great Garth Brooks has said, thank God for unanswered prayers.  Being cheated on may have been humiliating and left me questioning my self worth (which had been pretty low for the past seven years anyway), but it also pushed me to leave.  And the leaving wasn’t so easy.  In fact, it was often a fight.  My ex realized who now had the power before I even realized that fact myself.  And it wasn’t him.  He had spent seven years in the driver’s seat, both literally and figuratively (as I did not obtain my driver’s license until I was 28).  But I finally got back a little of my old self.  The old self who fought and scrapped, and did not stand for any kind of injustice.  And it only took a little bit.  I used that little bit to finally break away from what had become my prison.

Finally, I was free.  I was able to secure my own apartment.  I crammed all of the important belongings into my little car and moved into that apartment as soon as I was able.  And being free was wonderful.  I no longer had to fear another human.  I could walk my normal walk, since I didn’t have to walk on eggshells any longer.

In other words, I had hope again.  And as a certain famous character in one of the greatest movies of all time said:  “Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.  And no good thing ever dies.”

Andy Dufresne 1

And on that day in early March, I was given a gift.  The best gift I have ever received: hope.  Andy Dufresne was right, hope is the best of things.  And he was right about another thing:  good things do not die.  Maybe sometimes we lose them for awhile, like I did.  But no good thing ever truly dies.  I learned that lesson in that day in early March of 2007.  And it was a lesson that I desperately needed to learn.

Andy Dufresne 2

So, happy Independence Day everyone!  I know mine will be a happy one too!

fireworks 2

 

 

Survival of the Fittest

Well, global warming is an issue.  We should all know that by now.  And it is causing the disappearance of too many of the species that inhabit our planet.  And this disappearance is occurring at an alarming rate…

global warming

But rest assured, I know of at least one species that is safe.  And it will probably survive long past any nuclear holocaust and will be around even after our world “moves on.”

mushroom cloud

Nope, sorry cockroach…its not you, as frighteningly durable as you are!  Although this particular species manages to even make you look like a beauty pageant contestant, although you will probably still be Miss Congeniality, even next to this species!

giant cockroachmiss congeniality

Why yes, I am talking about…

drum-roll-please

None other than…da dum…the internet troll!

Fat-Green-Troll

Yup, step up and take a bow, internet troll!  You have once again proven that you will not go extinct any time soon…woohoo, how awesome!

And congratulations on coming up with remarks about someone’s daughter that were sooooo rude and explicit that they would probably make a sailor blush…hey, survival of the fittest, right?

evolution

Curt Schilling having the nerve to say you need jail time?  Pish posh, what does he know?  You need to make your presence known, dammit, to continue to ensure survival and if the best way is to make remarks about rape, bloody underwear and other things that are just too disgusting to  mention on even this blog, so be it!  Again, survival of the fittest!  The species must proliferate!  Darwin said so!

Who cares if people kill themselves because they are being bullied?  Who cares if people have relationships, jobs and so forth that can be affected due to internet harassment?  And who really gives a crap if people may have information online that they expect to remain private, but you revealed that information when it wasn’t yours to share to begin with?  After all, they are just feelings, right?  And what kind of reasonable person expects themselves and their families to be safe online, just like how reasonable people expect themselves to safe walking down the street in broad daylight?  What’s more important, people’s safety and overall well being, or your need to ensure that you survive?  Even if someone feels that they have to do something drastic, like take his/her own life, or even just throw themselves on their bed in tears, due to your ugly actions, its all good!  You are surviving and thriving…we all need fuel, and you can’t help if hate just happens to be your fuel!

Oh, damn…a couple of you actually lost your jobs?  And oh no, now you have to explain to your family (and I will leave off friends, studs like you living in your mom’s basement are too cool for friends, obviously) why you lost your job…oh, the humanity!  Its unfair, you were just doing what you needed to do to survive, and the nerve of your job to actually discipline you…what do they know?  Obviously, the law doesn’t care and you have the right to exercise your first amendment rights and that right is more important than someone else’s right to safety and privacy…right?  You should be able to say whatever you want without impunity…after all…’Murica!

Yes, it will definitely be a sad world if you guys somehow stop proliferating.  Why do we want this world to be a nice place, after all?  Why would we want everyone, no matter their race, creed, religion, etc, to feel like they have a safe place to express themselves, if they so desire?  Obviously, there is such a thing as too safe, and no civilized society should be that!  So keep on doing what you’re doing, internet trolls…obviously, the world isn’t cruel enough to even the most vulnerable and disenfranchised, and we need you guys around to ensure that it is!

internet-troll 3

 

7 Reasons Why I Love Stephen King

Pfffft (blows proverbial raspberry)…like I really need any rationale as to why I read Stephen King.  His books are awesome.  His storytelling is just unbelievably good.  He is easily the most recognized writer of all time and will probably go down in history as one of America’s best loved writers.  Timeless, in other words.

Blowing-Raspberries

However, there are several things that stand out about Stephen King and are unique to Stephen King.  These are attributes that not many other writers possess, and are elements that contribute to his timelessness.

Stephen King

Without further ado, here are my top 7 reasons as to why I read Stephen King.

7)  His books are scary

Captain Obvious strikes again!  The face of modern horror writes really scary books?  Who knew???

All kidding aside, when I was 10 years old a camp counselor started telling us naive and impressionable 10-12 year old kids (I really need to write a blog post sometime about the awesome role models I had growing up) about a clown that lived in the sewer and could only be seen by kids.  And this clown was not nice.  He killed kids too.  Of course, my naive and impressionable 10 year old self took this literally and spent the better part of that summer being very frightened of drains and anything plumbing related.  Two years later, I learned of a network television mini series featuring none other than a clown who lived in a sewer and killed kids.  Naturally, I just had to watch this on TV (my parents were really thrilled) with my brother and some other friends.  Of course, I am referring to the 1990 TV mini series It.  But even as a twelve year old (although I was a little beyond my years), I felt that the mini series, while scary for a 12 year old, was missing something.  So I immediately picked up the book of the same name.  I read it in under a week, and my life was changed irrevocably.  So began my love of Stephen King.

After I read It, I almost immediately picked up Pet SemetarySalem’s Lot and The Shining.  And I spent a good part of those late elementary/middle school years years being terrified.  I just have no words to describe my first reading of The Shining.  I was terrified for poor Danny Torrance.  I never looked at fire hoses the same way again.  I read Pet Semetary and felt the immediate need to keep my cats really, really close (luckily not too much blood was drawn).  And the idea of hunting down vampires per Salem’s Lot gave me quite the adrenaline rush.

salem's lot

People like to be scared in some way.  And I think this applies to most people.  Some people satisfy this need by riding roller coasters.  Some take flying lessons.  And then you have me.  I satisfy that need by reading books about killer clowns who live in sewers, haunted hotels and rabid St. Bernard dogs.

pennywise

6)  His take on faith, religion and humanity in general

Yes, reading King is a religious experience.  As if you didn’t know that already!

But seriously, much of King’s work is littered with religious themes.  The Stand, which is one of his best loved books, is a modern take on The Book of Revelations.  It could be argued that Harold Lauder is the group’s Judas Iscariot, as even the fate he suffers is similar.  David Carver in Desperation could argued to be a child version of Job in the Old Testament, as he endures horrible suffering and his faith in God is tested repeatedly.  John Coffey in Green Mile is blessed (or arguably cursed) with healing powers similar to Jesus Himself.  And this is barely scratching the surface, as there are many more biblical themes that crop up in King’s work.

King also shows the negative side of religion and zealousness in his work.  And this topic is visited with a vengeance.  A prime example is Margaret White, mother to Carrie White in the novel Carrie.  Margaret is such a fanatic that even mainstream churches have rejected her.  She essentially makes up her own religion and forces her daughter into a restrictive lifestyle that ultimately becomes the demise of the both of them.

Pet Semetary is another book rife with religious themes.  However, there are dark twists.  It could be argued that Louis Creed is a modern version of Icarus.  Instead of being shown how to fly so that he can escape from Crete, Louis is shown an ancient burial ground that is cursed by the Wendigo and has magical powers.  This burial ground is meant to teach his daughter a lesson about life and death when the family pet is hit by a truck.  And this is accomplished.  However, when his son is tragically killed on the same highway, Louis goes (understandably) mad and is inflicted with the worst kind of hubris and attempts to use the burial ground in a way that it was never intended for.  Like Icarus, he soars too high and the consequences are beyond horrific, cursing his entire family for eternity.

While King writes about humans inflicting awful deeds on each other, he also has a softer side.  And this softer side shows up in almost all of his works, even the most terrifying ones.  A prime example of this is Dreamcatcher.  Dreamcatcher is a novel about aliens invading our planet and is most famous for “shit weasels.”  However, this novel also deals with friendship and bravery.  The four main characters in the book are credited with an act of extreme bravery when they were children.  The four boys rescued another boy, who was afflicted with Down’s Syndrome, from the local bullies.  They then take this boy under their wing and a lifelong friendship results.  The friendship between the children is something beautiful in a book that is otherwise filled with graphic imagery violence.  The description of the friendship reminds us not of man’s inhumanity to man, but that sometimes we can come through for each other when it counts the most.

byrus

 

5) He is a feminist

Stephen King is a feminist.  Yes, the man who is famous for the term “shit weasels” and who writes about clowns in sewers is a feminist.

Ok, have you cleaned up the coffee you spit out all over your keyboard when you read the above sentence?  Great, now let’s discuss why the world’s most renowned horror writer is a feminist.

We can argue that in some of King’s earlier work, female characters were not his strong point.  Frannie Goldsmith from The Stand immediately comes to mind.  The female characters in Salem’s Lot were weak as well, as their primary purpose seemed to be love interests for the heroes who then succumb to the vampires.  However, King makes up for that by writing characters such as Donna Trenton and Wendy Torrance.  Both of these women were well fleshed out.  King showed us what made them tick.  Both women were also heroic and would do whatever it took to save their children, even when they had to face down rabid St. Bernard dogs and a haunted hotel, respectively.

In the 1990’s, King published a trio of books that would remove any doubts on his stance on feminism.  These books were Delores Claiborne, Rose Madder and Gerald’s Game.  All three featured strong female lead characters.  All three took a stance on how women in our culture are treated and that we need to admire those that take a stance against this treatment (Delores Claiborne and Rosie McClendon immediately come to mind).  While these books may not have produced the numbers that his previous work did, they are to be commended for the messages that they send.

rose madder

It contains a scene that is hotly debated, at least in internet land.  And this scene further solidifies King’s brand of feminism.  Towards the end of the book, The Losers Club becomes lost in the sewers beneath Derry.  The Losers Club consists of one female, Beverly Marsh.  Beverly is tough and able to hang with the guys but has endured abuse at the hands of her father.  That particular summer, the abuse took a sexual turn, which culminated in Beverley’s father accusing her of not being “intact” aka a virgin.  He then wants to examine her, which really means he intends to molest her, but Beverly escapes him and is forced down to the sewers with the rest of the gang.  She and the Losers best Pennywise, and then attempt to escape the sewers.  But they become lost quickly and their bond begins to fall apart.  However, Beverly takes the lead and prevents this from happening.  The reason why it is controversial is because she then proceeds to make love to all six of the boys.  King also describes her having an orgasm, once the initial discomfort has passed.  Some see this as a gang rape or some kind of child exploitation.  I see this as feminism at its finest.  Beverly has been told sex is dirty.  She has been told her worth as a person hinges on her virginity.  However, Beverly defies society and most importantly her abusive father. She then takes charge of her sexuality and her pleasure, not the mention the fact that this act brings the group back together again so they can find their way out of the sewers.  And to me, that’s what feminism is all about;  a young woman defying cultural norms, owning her sexuality and saving the day to boot.

Beverly

 

4)  Stephen King is not afraid to take stances on social issues

In the beginning of the book It, a young, childlike gay man is targeted for violence because of his sexual preferences.  He is then murdered by Pennywise the clown.  While we can argue that the humans who attacked him were not ultimately responsible for his death, there is no denying that if he was not targeted due to his sexuality, his life may have been spared.  This is an act that we would now recognize as a hate crime, and the young men may face stricter punishment and there would be likely be more outrage.  However, this book was written in 1985.  This is long before the term “hate crime” was coined.  This is long before most people would experience outrage over the fact that someone was attacked solely to due to his sexual preference.  The “blame the victim” mentality was rampant.  By including this particular scene in a book that most would not think of when they think of literature that preaches messages of tolerance and acceptance, King’s message comes through loud and clear:  as a society, we need to do a better job of accepting and appreciating everyone for who they are, even if we do not fully understand who they are.  King was, and continues to be, light years ahead of his time.

3)  Stephen King also has a wicked sense of humor 

Stephen King, my curse word vocabulary owes you a large debt.  If it weren’t for Stephen King, how would I have terms like “bitch kitty, “fuckaroo” and “shit weasel” in my lexicon?  I have been using these terms for years now and they still delight me.  The fact that my social calendar is strangely empty is pure coincidence, I tell you…

But seriously (you see what I did there?), I don’t think “sense of humor” is what necessarily comes to mind when one brings up the name Stephen King.  After all, his books are scewwwy, right?  Full of blood and guts and everything that’s well…gross.

However, the sense of humor pops up almost everywhere in his work.  It even pops up in the Dark Tower series, which is considered to be King’s magnum opus.  In The Drawing of the Three, Roland the Gunslinger brings a woman named Odetta Holmes to Midworld.  Odetta is well spoken and educated and also mild mannered.  However, Odetta hosts another personality by the name of Detta Walker.  Detta Walker is mean and crass.  In other words, Odetta’s opposite.  Detta Walker is also a complete caricature.  Her vocabulary contains terms such as “honk mafa” (figure that one out, if you can).  She also refers to Roland as “grey meat” and is absurdly paranoid that Roland, Eddie Dean and every other white male has an agenda to poison her.  While the subject matter is serious (we are talking about mental illness after all), the absurdities that come out of Detta’s mouth are great for a belly laugh.  They also add dimension to the story and all of the characters.  There is just something to be said for well placed humor when you are probably going to be either sleeping with the lights on because of a scary scene, or be crying your eyes out because your favorite character just got killed off.

Check out more evidence of King’s sense of humor right here.

stephen-king-cover-ftr

2) His work is inter-connected

Its no secret that every single one of King’s books are connected to The Dark Tower series, which is considered to be his magnum opus.  However, many still fail to realize that all of Stephen King’s books are inter-connected.  All of them.  Every single one.  That’s right.  That means that the fan girl from hell who hobbles her favorite writer can be connected to Roland and his ka tet.  Now, the concept of a writer creating an entire universe is not a new one.  In fact, Marvel has been hinting that everyone in their universe, from Captain America to that funny looking raccoon featured in Guardians of the Galaxy, are all connected to each other and we are to expect a cosmic, epic showdown one of these days.  But no one, at least in my opinion, has done it quite as well as Stephen King.  Every time I read a new work I find a connection.  Then I re-read and find some more.  And his son Joe Hill has even been invited to the party, as some of Hill’s work is directly connected to Dad’s, and vice versa.  I feel like when I find these connections, I belong to some kind of exclusive (and extremely nerdy) club…good stuff!

rocket-raccoon

One of my favorite examples of a Stephen King Easter egg lies in 11/22/63.  11/22/63 is the book that King wanted to write for so long on Vietnam and the era of the 1960’s, which had a huge effect on him personally and also as a writer.  And 11/22/63 succeeds in making a statement about Vietnam and an era that many readers experienced personally.  In 11/22/63, Jake Epping, the main character, travels back in time to attempt to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  Jake lives in Maine, and the journey takes him to Derry.  This is not really a surprise, since Derry is a major hot spot in the King universe.  What did surprise me is that Jake runs into some very familiar faces.  These familiar faces are none other than Beverly Marsh and Richie Tozier from It!  We learn that when Jack encounters Beverly and Ritchie, the events in It had transpired a few months prior to that encounter and that Beverly and Richie are still trying to process the situation.  Jake also gets a very bad feeling about Derry, and it would seem that he even encounters Pennywise, or at least the essence of Pennywise.  The fact that King has included a connection to It in one of his books is not very surprising at all.  What is surprising is that he included this reference to a killer clown who lives in the sewers in a book that is a book about time travel and examines the impact of the Kennedy assassination on not just his generation, but every generation thereafter.  And the inclusion is seamless.  In other words, its mastery.  Pure mastery and nothing else.

Stephen-King-Flowchart-FINAL-1

 

Time for the drum roll…the number 1 reason why I read King is…

drum-roll-please

1)  All of his books contain elements of reality 

I read to escape reality.  I like being able to escape into another world for awhile and forget my problems for a bit.  Reading is almost like a drug for me, that way.

But I am listing the fact that King’s books contain elements of reality as my number reason for reading him…what gives?

I will tell you what gives.  I identify with his characters and the situations they face.  Of course, I don’t face rabid St. Bernard dogs, clowns in sewers or haunted hotels (outside my dreams, at any rate). But I have faced a crazy, controlling abusive ex husband.  I have been the victim of bullying, both in childhood and adulthood.  I see intolerance towards other’s differences on a regular basis. I faced unemployment and the fear of losing everything I have ever worked for. I even have my own obsessions, just like Roland the Gunslinger, although mine tend towards the Indianapolis Colts and the latest piece of artwork I am working on.  These are all situations that King’s characters have faced.  Just like me and millions of others.  And I like to think the fact that I identify so well with these characters and situations helps me cope with my own problems.  Or at the very least, it takes a little off the edge of my own pain, making it easier to bear.

One of my favorite examples of how King uses elements of realism effectively is his book The Shining.  The book (and Kubrick movie of the same name) is famous for a haunted hotel that traps a family for a winter.  Ask most people what they associate with The Shining, and the blood spilling from the walls immediately comes to mind.  Or perhaps the term “redrum.”  Or maybe the ghost of an old, lustful lady.  But The Shining is really about family.  And it is about wanting to provide for yourself and your family.  Jack Torrance is a good man in the beginning of the book.  He is just trying to do what’s best for his family, and desperately does everything he can to provide for his wife and son.  He loves his son Danny and also his wife Wendy.  He is also battling his demons, as he is an alcoholic with a temper that tends to get out of control and hurt the ones he loves the most.  And throughout the book, Jack really is a good man for the most part.  However, his demons overtake him and he sacrifices himself for his family, so that they may still have a good life.  The Shining is a very scary book.  There is no mistaking that.  However, The Shining is also a tragedy.  The family dissolves and will never be whole again.  Throughout the book, we witness the dissolution of the family, and we grieve with Wendy and Danny.  And the fact that this situation is so real and is something that can be experienced by any one of us, adds to the terror of the novel.  Our rational mind knows that hotels are not haunted.  Hedge animals do not attack us.  Ghosts do not come out of bathtubs.  Fire hoses present no menace.  But King skillfully weaves realistic elements that we all can identify with.  So, if we are smart, we take a closer look at that fire hose.  We give a wide berth to those hedge animals.  And if a hotel caretaker makes mention of a tragedy occurring in a certain room, we refuse to stay in that room.  After all, it could happen to anyone of us.  And if we are smart, our self preservation instinct kicks in, so we look over our shoulders and pull up the blankets a little closer, to try to keep the monsters at bay.

Shiningnovel

There you have it.  These are my top seven reason for reading Stephen King, although I am sure I missed a few.  However, I retract my earlier statement about not needing any rationale to read Stephen King.  There is one very good reason to read Stephen King:  you have never read his work before and your life is therefore tragically empty and devoid of meaning.  So that means it is time to remedy that situation and pick up a King book (or five) and get cracking!  Happy reading, everyone!

RoaldDahl