Sunday, October 8, 2017

Rating Stephen King's Bibliography

I gave this a shot once before. [1]  But I'm giving it another go.  Albeit in a shorter per item format that's different from my usual set-up.

I'm going to have short, one or two line reviews of everything thing the King has ever done.  Adding new things as I read them.

As previously noted elsewhere, I started working my way through King's canon late in 2016.

1974

Carrie: Telekinetic girl gets teased until she snaps and runs rampant.  Simply amazing.  To think this is a first book makes it even more so.  It's tense in all the right places. Read this one multiple times.

Carrie: A

1975

Salem's Lot: Vampires invade small town.  Things go poorly for the town.  Great ensemble cast.  Fantastic writing really fleshing out the town.  Classic vampire story from classic King.

Salem's Lot: A

1977

The Shining: Alcoholic plus family locked for winter in haunted hotel in the mountains.  Creepy as all get out.  Alcoholic changes which side he's on.  Danny in the playground is downright terrifying.

The Shining: A

Rage: The first Bachman book.  Insane teenager takes high school hostage.  Lots of explaining.  Sort of a Catcher in the Rye but Holden goes off the deep end.  Not so great.

Rage: C+ [2]

1978

The Stand: Plague kills most of world.  Good and evil battle it out using the people left alive.  Really long, but worth it.  The beginning is amazing.  The end is amazing.  Some of the middle's a bit long.

The Stand: A-

Night Shift: King's first collection of short stories.  Some of them are insanely good.  A few not so much.  Highlights: Last Rung on the Ladder, Man Who Loved Flowers, One For the Road, etc, etc.

Night Shift: B+

1979

The Long Walk: Second Bachman Book.  Kids walk in a competition where stopping means death.  Twisted and yet believable.  You'd think it would plod along, but it avoids that pretty well.

The Long Walk: A

The Dead Zone: Smith can see future.  Reluctantly uses power to save lives and stop killer. Realizes he's got to stop a megalomaniacal politician from destroying world, but at what cost?

The Dead Zone: A

1980

Firestarter: Test experiments on Mom and Dad lead to girl who can start fires.  Government agency tries to capture and control her.  Not too smart.  Starts to drag in the motives.  A sentimental favorite.

Firestarter: B-

1981

Roadwork: Bachman number 3.  Man despairs over progress.  Ruins his own life to spite the world.  Takes about as long to read this as it would to pave a road.  Spend your time on the road.

Roadwork: F

Cujo: Series of bad choices and dumb luck allows a rabid Saint Bernard to trap a woman and child in a broken car.  Also somehow a commentary on women who feel/are trapped in their lives.

Cujo: B+

Danse Macabre: Non-fiction. King's commentary on horror in movies, radio, books and the like.  I really need to read the updated version.  Good insight from someone who knows the field well.

Danse Macabre: B

1982

The Running Man: Bachman number 4.  Man living in dystopia signs up for game show where he is hunted.  Great idea.  Well done in parts.  The ending isn't great.  The hero isn't so heroic.

The Running Man: B-

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger: Roland begins his journey to stop the Man in Black.  More like a series of vignettes than a continuous story.  Didn't really like the first time I read it.  I was wrong.

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger: A-

Different Seasons: Four novellas in one book.  They are:

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption: Innocent man ends up in prison.  Survives until he can escape.  Amazing.  'nuff said.

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption: A+

Apt Pupil: Boy discovers Nazi lives nearby.  Forces Nazi to tell tales. Both become twisted by it.  My memory of this was worse than the read.  Well written, but not something I will seek out again.

Apt Pupil: B-

The Body: The novel that inspire the movie Stand By Me.  Boys set out to see a dead body.  Their experiences along the way shape them more than they could have expected.

The Body: A-

The Breathing Method: Tales told in a gentlemen's club about a woman who gives birth even though she's essentially dead.  More of a long short story, but well worth the read.

The Breathing Method: A

Creepshow: Comic book of the movie by the same name.  Juvenile and campy, but not in a good way.

Creepshow: D

1983

Christine: Boy loves car.  Boy loves girl.  Car comes alive.  Lots of people die.  But it takes a long [reading] time to travel the distance and the journey's kind of boring at times.

Christine: C+

Pet Semetary: Indian burial ground brings things back from the dead.  Doesn't work great with the cat.  What could go wrong if we do it to the toddler?  Lots.  A few dead spots but overall great.

Pet Semetary: A-

Cycle of the Werewolf: Quick story told over the course of 12 monthly installments about a werewolf coming to town.  Too short to have bad parts.  Good enough you wish there was more.

Cycle of the Werewolf: B-

1984

The Talisman (Co-wrote with Peter Straub): Boy travels the country to save his mother and a world connected to our own.  Evil twins in both worlds try to stop him.  Co-written with Peter Straub.

The Talisman: A-

Thinner: Bachman book 5. Gypsy curses fat man to slowly wither away to nothing.  Can he resolve things before he fades away?  The ending seams cheap after the journey.

Thinner: A

1985

The Bachman Books: A collection of the first four Bachman books.  Look above for their individual grades.

2017

Sleeping Beauties (Co-wrote with Owen King): The women are all falling asleep and not waking up.  The men are left to their own devices.  Testosterone takes charge.  Not a horror book.  Wants to be more of an adventure story combined with a  psychological look at the nature of the sexes.  Mostly succeeds.

Sleeping Beauties: B-


[1] - You can read my attempts HERE, HERE and HERE.  Better efforts are done by the Loser's Club.

[2] - I don't hate this as much as some.  I think if you read it with the mindset that a lot of what Charlie thinks he's seeing on the faces or in the minds of others is just as much a creation of his derangement as his actions and reasons for what he's doing, the book is pretty good.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Loser's Club

The Loser's Club:

My three favorite authors in no specific order are: Dick Francis, Nick Hornby and Stephen King [1]  I own everything that they've ever written. [2] Moreover, I've read all of it too. [3]  That isn't really saying much for Hornby, he's not written that much.  Francis has written tons [4] but they are light, quick and enjoyable reads that you can finish in a day or two.  But this post isn't about them, it's about King (sort of).

King has written a TON of books. [5] And no they are not all "horror" novels. [6] A few are light and quick.  A few are dense and long.  Most live somewhere in between.  About a year ago or so [7] I decided to reread all of my King books in the order that they were written. [8]  I was also going to post about it on the way.  You can read the initial post here.  And here are my posts on Carrie and Salem's Lot.

It was at that point that my dedication to posting sort of died. [9]

But it is not where my reading stopped.  Currently I just finished Thinner and am taking a break before I read Skeleton Crew to read Sleeping Beauties. [10]

I know you dedicated readers of this blog [11] were real sorry that happened.  But have no fear!  Enter The Loser's Club: A Stephen King Podcast by Consequence of Sound.

Like some sort of divine serendipity, this podcast began in January of this year.  Filling the immense void left by my failings.  In essence it is a podcast doing what I set out to do, but doing it much, much better than I ever could. They started at Carrie and have been working their way forward.  There 33rd episode just reviewed The Running Man.  And in a near future episode they will get to the Gunslinger.

The basic layout of the podcast changed a bit since the beginning, but here is how it currently works.  There is an episode every Friday, but the format alternates between two types.  Every other week there is an in depth discussion, review and analysis of a Stephen King work.  And on the in between weeks there is a look at what is going on in the real world as it relates to King.

The King centered episodes usually involve talking about King's tweets, news about upcoming movies, books, TV shows and the like that are King related and sometimes answering questions from listeners. [12]  Book episodes have segments on how the novel was written, looking at specific characters, discussing the gory bits, discussing the salacious bits [13], looking at how this novel fits in and connects to the greater King Universe and reviewing any adaptations of the work. [14]

If that sounds like a lot for one podcast.  It is.  But it is awesome.

One of the things that sometimes bugs me about podcasts and TV/radio discussion/interview shows is that you know that you only have a set amount of time.  You know the show is limited to 30 minutes or an hour and you really want to hear person X talk about whatever it is the interview is about.  But then things get off on a tangent and while the tangent might be super interesting.  This is what's going on in my world:

Host: I'd really like to talk some more about that great new [THING] you have out.  But first, didn't I hear somewhere that you got a new puppy?
Guest: Yeah.  She's great.  She's a mix of a . . . .
Me: There's only five minutes left!  Stop talking about the puppy!  Talk about the [THING]!  AAAARRRGGGHHH!!! [15]

The point is you do not have to worry about that with this podcast.  If they want to go off on a tangent and talk about puppies.  Have no fear, there is still plenty of time to get back to King.   Plenty of time. Seriously.  Their current record is the second episode on The Stand [16] which is nearly four hours long.  And it was all worth it.

I hope they never change.

There are six or so different hosts, but in the current set-up only three or four at a time are on any one episode. I could spend time talking about each, but if you are wondering what kind of people spend hours talking about Stephen King and if you've bothered to read this far into this post and are still interested, the answer is that they are just like you and me. [17]

So far my only real concern with the podcast is the fear that they will quit making it before they get to the end. [18]

To sum up:

If you like Stephen King.
If you REALLY LIKE Stephen King.
And listening to people talk about his work sounds interesting to you.
You are doing yourself a disservice if you don't start listening to this podcast immediately.

It's great.

The end.

The Loser's Club: A+ [19]

Sweater nubbins.

[1] - There are days when I should really say four favorites and add Michael Chabon to that list, but this evidently isn't one of those days.
[2] - With a couple very esoteric exceptions.
[3] - With a couple of rare exceptions.
[4] - For the record I am including the books by Felix Francis in this grouping.
[5] - The Interwebs says 56 novels, six nonfiction books and several short story collections that contain most of his over 200 published short stories.  And when I say Interwebs, I mean Wikipedia.
[6] - Saying Stephen King is a horror writer is like saying Michael Chrichton is a dinosaur writer.  Except that sounds stupid.  But you get the idea.
[7] - I don't really remember and I don't care to figure it out, just accept that it was late in 2016.
[8] - Don't judge.
[9] - And when I say "sort of", I don't mean sort of at all.  I mean it died.  Shriveled up and faded away like Tad Trenton and no movie adaptation is going to save it.  (There's a King reference for all the real fans.)
[10] - For the record, I'm not just reading King.
[11] - Consisting of my wife and some blogbot in Russia evidently.
[12] - With other random tidbits thrown in for goodness.
[13] - Pound Cake!
[14] - Plus more random goodness.
[15] - Okay maybe I've over dramatized that, but you get the idea.
[16] - To further prove the point, they spent four episodes on just The Stand.  It was great.
[17] - Complete nerds.
[18] - Should that day come, it will be a sad sad day in my life.
[19] - Honestly, I actually get excited every time I realize it is Friday and there's a new episode out.  (Don't judge.) (Also 19.)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Arby's Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

Arby's Buffalo Chicken Sandwich: 

Arby's has a buffalo chicken sandwich and I have a quest to find the best spicy chicken sandwich in the world. [1]  Thus there was nothing I could do except head out to the land of America's Roast Beef [2] and not order roast beef.

When I was young, McDonald's had a McChicken Sandwich that I loved. [3]  This was before they offered Chicken McNuggets. [4]  The patty on the sandwich was coated in the same goodness that the McNugget would later get.  In fact if you took the McNugget that is generally round shaped [5] and increased its size and thickness proportionately until it was bun sized you would pretty much have it exactly.  You had to be very careful when you ate it because if it had just come out of the fryer [6] you were very likely to burn the ever-lovin' out of your tongue or to scald off the roof of your mouth. [7]

Though Arby's chicken sandwiches [8] as shown on the posters in the store look all bumpy and textured so as to make you think they might have actually come straight off some chicken's breast, the one I got was as flat as a pancake and bore a more than striking resemblance to that old McChicken patty.

Somewhere behind the counter they must have a vat of buffalo sauce and when you order the sandwich they much drop your selection in said vat and let it swim around for a minute or two. Which is just a really wordy way of saying that the patty on my sandwich was drenched and dripping in buffalo sauce.  Something, that when I initially saw it, I thought was a good thing.

The bun was different than Arby's usual bun, but if there was a taste difference to it, I couldn't tell you about it. [9]  There was also the obligatory smattering of shredded lettuce and some kind of white sauce.  The website says it is: "Parmesan Peppercorn Ranch Sauce".  I do remember there being one bite where for the briefest of moments I tasted something other than buffalo sauce, but the memory, like the flavor, is fleeting.

Honestly the whole thing tasted just fine.  It wasn't that spicy, but if you like buffalo sauce [10] this sandwich has it in spades.  Which is really where the problem lies.

My original intention was to eat the sandwich as I drove to my next destination.  I had purchased my food inside [11] and I'd opened the carton on my lap in preparation of heading on.  I was preparing to take my first bite before putting the car in reverse when the literal slipperiness of the situation became evident.

Remember, we have a flat as a pancake chicken patty slathered in an ocean of buffalo sauce with only a few shreds of lettuce and tiny dollop of white sauce to slow it down. [12]

In one bite my hand's (both of 'em) were covered in sauce.  That's because you have to use both hands to keep the patty from escaping the bun.  Take one hand off to get a napkin and that sucker is out of there like a greased pig flinging lettuce shreds as it moves. [13]

When I finished, there was enough sauce in the carton that I could have covered my potato cakes in them as well. [14]  It took two napkins and two baby wipes to get my hands close to clean.

This is not a sandwich to be eaten in a moving vehicle.

In the end it's too messy and not spicy enough for me to ever care to order it again.  [15]

Arby's Buffalo Chicken Sandwich: B-

[1] - You can read about it here.
[2] - Yes, Sir!
[3] - Yes, I know that they still have a McChicken sandwich, but the thing has gone through so many incarnations and reinventions that they are probably on the McChicken Mark XXII at this point.
[4] - There's a story that goes with this, but while this is the place, this isn't the time.
[5] - You were aware that all McNuggets come in one of three shapes weren't you?
[6] - Oh yes, it was cooked in the same grease as the french fries.  I told you it was good, didn't I?
[7] - You might be wondering what all this has to do with Arby's.  I'll get there.  I promise.
[8] - See, told you I'd get there.
[9] -  A lake of buffalo sauce defeats the subtle nuances of bread variations.
[10] - And if you don't, then why in the world did you order this sandwich?
[11] - The line at the drive through was ridiculously long.  Also the planet appreciates it when you turn the car off instead of idling.
[12] - I've never seen a buffalo sauce Slip 'n Slide, but I'm pretty sure I know exactly what it would look like.
[13] - This analogy has gotten a bit weird.
[14] - If I hadn't already eaten them first.  What? Did you think I was a savage?
[15] - Chick-Fil-A's Spicy Chicken Sandwich still reigns supreme.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Maple Bacon Pop-Tarts

Frosted Maple Bacon Pop-Tarts:

Several months ago I happened to be surfing around the Interwebs and I came across a page talking about the next year's upcoming new Pop-Tart flavors.  Though I haven't mentioned it much, I eat quite a lot of Pop-Tarts [1]   Needless to say, I was quite excited.

Amongst the new flavors was the subject of this blog: Frosted Maple Bacon Pop-Tarts.

I was immediately both completely intrigued and terrified.   This had the potential to be something mind-blowingly delicious or completely disgusting.

I couldn't wait to try them.

Fast forward through the holiday season [2] and into the new year and much to my joy and chagrin there they were on the shelf at my local Publix.  I immediately snatched up a box with glee.

When I showed them to the Pook, she declared without hesitation that it sounded disgusting and that she would not be trying them.  The Bear and the Bean both declined any future tastings as well.

At this point my expectations were running a bit high.  I wanted this to either be the most amazing or most disgusting thing I'd eaten in forever. [3]

If they were going to be good, I imagined them tasting mostly like maple candy.  A strong, sweet syrupy taste that would be delightful and in the background, not too strong, but strong enough not to be missed, would be a smoky bacon flavor.

If they were going to be bad, it would make me want to vomit.

Either way would have been fine with me.

A few days later on Monday morning, I was driving to work with the package on the seat beside me ready to be consumed. [4]

The minute you open a pack your immediate area is completely filled with the overpowering smell of maple.  Okay, to be more specific I should say the overpowering smell of fake maple scent.  But it smelled good!  My stomach growled in excitement.  My brain gave up its last reservation and got on board.

I pulled a tart from the pouch and took a bite.

Sadly the strong fake maple scent is as close to anything maple that these breakfast treats [5] have to offer.

It's hard to say exacctly what they taste like.  They're a bit like a cookie, but not really a sweet cookie.  Nevertheless they also taste a bit like sugar, but not that sugary.  Sort of cake-y but not.  They're kind of like those cookies your grandmother used to give you that when you were done eating left you thinking, "Why did I bother?"

Which is to say that the initial flavor of the Maple Bacon Pop-Tarts didn't offend me, but they didn't excite me either.  The first flavor was completely and totally, 'meh'.

But then once you've swallowed and the food is out of your mouth, the second wave of FAKE BACON FLAVOR comes crashing onto your pallet. [6]

Imagine a bottle of stale Bacos.

Now imagine it being worse than that.

Now take it two steps further.

You're just about there.

The first problem here is that this is not a flavor that goes with breakfast.

The second problem is that it tastes bad.

Okay.  You're right.  The first problem is the bad taste.  It's all moot from there.

And then after a few seconds, that flavor is gone too and you're left with an empty mouth, an empty heart and most of the rest of a Maple Bacon Pop-Tart to choke down.

After a few more experimental nibbles, I discovered that if you just ate the thing continuously without stop, you never give the FAKE BACON FLAVOR a chance to come crashing down on you.  That is, until you finish the pop-tart and then all of it comes hammering on your brain in an ultra-concentrated wave of BAD.

Deciding only half a breakfast was better than continuing on, I declined to eat the second tart in the pouch.

A few days later I gave away the rest of the box to a bunch of teenagers.  They mostly agreed with me.

Maple Bacon Pop-Tarts: D+

[1] - Don't judge me.
[2] - Gingerbread Pop-Tarts ftw
[3] - Possibly since those Mussels.
[4] - I had to wait for Monday.  Saturdays and Sundays are reserved for cereal!
[5] - Maybe calling it a "treat" is going a bit too far.
[6] - The ALL CAPS is intentional.  Because that's how this flavor is.  It's in all-caps as it demands your attention.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Holiday Police Blotter

Holiday Police Blotter:

 “Dispatch this Delta 25.  I’m at the scene now.”

“Roger, Delta 25.  What’s the situation?”

“It looks like an 11-81.  Nothing too serious.  The vehicle collided with a snow drift and got upsot.”

“Come again, Delta 25.  Did you say ‘upsot’?”

“That’s correct dispatch.”

“Do you need an ambulance?”

“It doesn’t appear so.  The passenger, one Fannie Bright, reports minor injuries.  The driver appears unhurt.  I suspect intoxication is the cause.”

“Did you administer a field sobriety test?”

“No, but witnesses report the vehicle was moving at a high rate of speed.  Several described it as ‘dashing’.  They also report the driver as laughing the entire time.”

“Roger, Delta 25.  What’s your recommendation?”

“I’m going to bring the driver in.  The passenger will need a taxi.  Also, we may want animal services to look at the horse.  It seems a bit thin to me.  Possible abuse and mistreatment.”

“I’m sorry.  Did you say, horse?”

“Roger, dispatch.”

----------

“911.  Please state your emergency.”

“There are people here trying to rob me.”

“Ma’am, are there intruders in your house right now?”

“No, not in my house.  They are on my front lawn.”

“How many people is it?”

“About eight.”

“You say these people tried to rob you?”

“Yes.  They keep yelling at me and demanding that I give them things.”

“What sorts of things are they demanding?”

“Food mostly.  Something made with figs, I think.”

“Did you tell them to leave?”

“Yes, several times.  But they insist they won’t leave until I get them what they want.”

“Okay, ma’am.  Sit tight.  An officer will be with you shortly.”

-----------

“Unit 5, this is Walter.  I’m at the intersection of fourth and main.  Are you in the area?”

“Roger that, Walter.  I’m a few blocks away on the square.  How can I help you?”

“I’m going to need help apprehending a suspect and a vehicle to transport him once he’s in custody.” 

“Are we gonna need additional back-up?”

“I don’t think so.  So far he seems harmless.  Mostly just disturbing the peace and public indecency.  Also jaywalking.”

“Jaywalking?”

“Roger.  I’m actually on traffic detail.  This character came running through here like he’s got a death wish.  I hollered for him to stop, but he ignored me and ran into traffic.  He’s lucky he didn’t get hit.”

“Can’t you just ticket him and send him on his way?”

“Don’t forget about the public indecency.  He’s actually naked.”

“Did you say naked?  As in no clothing?”

“I guess he’s not technically 100% naked.  He’s wearing what looks like an old top hat.  Also, though it isn’t actually clothing, he’s carrying a broom stick.”

“Did you try to apprehend him?”

“Yes.  He’s rather fast.  He keeps slipping by me yelling, ‘catch me if you can’.”

“Okay, I’m in route.  Just out of curiosity, what color is this guy?”

“Oh, he’s white.  Real pale.  I think he probably avoids the sun.”

-----------

"Hi.  I’m Officer Brynner.  How can I help you?"

"I need to get a restraining order.  Is this where I do that?"

"Yes, Ma’am.  Sit here and let me get some information from you.  What’s the name of the person you need to get the restraining order against?"

"Honestly, I’m not sure.  He goes by Nick, but he seems to go by a lot of different names.  I think Nick is short for Nicholas but he’s not from around here.  It might actually be Niklaus or something like that."

"That’s all you have?  No last name?"

"Sorry."

"Niklaus, sounds Russian or Slavic.  Is that where he’s from?"

"I don’t know.  He doesn’t look like a foreigner.  But I think I remember someone saying something about him coming from somewhere up north."

"That’s not really a lot to go on.  But we’ll come back to that later.  Let’s focus on why you need the restraining order.  What’s happened?"

"Well, honestly he’s been stalking me."

"That’s pretty serious.  Tell me some of the details."

"He says that he’s watching me all the time.  When I’m sleeping.  When I’m awake.  Frankly, it’s kind of creepy."

"Is he in your house?  Or are there cameras?"

"I don’t think he’s in my house.  Though he does seem to be able to get into and out of places with ease.  Doesn’t matter if the doors are locked or not.  I don’t know how he does it.  Maybe it’s magic."

"So you’re saying he’s some kind of burglar?  Has he threatened you?"

"Not directly.  He keeps saying he’s judging me.  If I don’t live up to his standards there’s going to be consequences."

"How long has this been going on?"

"Oh for years.  Since I was a kid."

"For years!? Why have you waited so long to come forward?"

"I was afraid.  He’s warned me in the past about complaining or crying out.  If I do he’ll come back to town."

"So he’s not in town now?  Do you know where we can locate this man?"

"No.  But I do know that he’s coming back to town sometime in the early winter."

"If you can’t give us a name, perhaps you can give us a physical description or work with a sketch artist."

"Actually, I’ve never seen him."

"Ma’am, I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but are you sure this person is real?"

"Oh definitely, my parents told me he was."

---------------

“Unit 12, this is Central.  Do you copy? Over.”

.  .  .

“Unit 12, are you there? Over.”

.  .  .

“Unit 12?”

“This is Unit 12.  Sorry, it’s hard to hear over all the noise here.

“Are you at the site of the Motel 6 disturbance?”

“I am at the location, but it’s not actually at the Motel 6.  It’s located by the barn behind it.”

“Roger that.  What’s your status.  How can we help you?”

“There’s quite a crowd gathered.  I’m going to need back up.”

“Additional units will be dispatched.  Do you need a paddy wagon?”

“I’m not sure at this point.  There are quite a few people here, but it’s relatively peaceful.  Mostly I need help just sorting out what’s going on.”

“Roger that Unit 12.  How big of a crowd are we talking?”

“I’d guess it to be over 200.”

“Come again.  Did you say over 200?”

“That’s right.  Of course that’s not counting all of the animals.”

“How many animals? Do you need animal control?”

“Quite a few actually.  Though I think most of the sheep came with the shepherds.”

“Unit 12 are you saying that in addition to a flock of sheep there are more animals?”

“Central, that’s correct.  There are some goats.  Some horses.  A couple cows in the barn.  I haven’t counted them, but I can hear them lowing.  There are some donkeys, including one with unusually long ears.  There’s quite a few smaller things as well: some mice, some birds up in the rafters . . . an owl I think, a badger, rabbits, other field animals, a few cats and dogs and the like, maybe even a fox.  And there are also the camels.”

“Was that camels?”

“Yes, I think they were brought here by the three foreign guys.”

“Foreign guys?  Do you need a translator?”

“Probably, but I don’t know what language they speak.  They seem to have come from far away and based on the gold and spices they are carrying they seem rather wealthy.  Also, I don’t know why, but I’d characterize them as wise.”

“Six shepherds and three foreign men are quite a long way from over 200.”

“There’s also the little girl with the rose and the little boy playing the drums.”

“It’s the middle of the night, are their parents there, Unit 12?”

“I don’t think so.  We probably need child services as well.  Also an ambulance.”

“Is one of the children hurt?”

“No, there’s a newborn that needs to be taken in and checked out.”

“An unattended newborn?”

“Sorry, no the mother is here.  We’ll need a bus for her as well.  Based upon the conversation and what I saw in the straw, I think she just gave birth.  It’s a bit of a mess in there. So, a hazardous materials clean up team isn’t out of the question. There’s also an adult male.  But there seems to be some confusion over whether or not he’s the father.  ”

“I make that a total of 15 people.  Who else is there?”

“Well, there are a whole lot of other people singing.”

“Come again, Unit 12. How many?”

“I’m not sure.  Lot’s.  I’d call it a host really.  They’re hard to count.  As I said they are all singing and milling about.  It almost looks like they’re flying at times.  I think they’re excited about the baby.  Also there may be an aerial unit in the area already.  Anyway, something is in the sky shining a spotlight on us.  It’s adding to the confusion.  Honestly I’m not sure but I think I saw three ships, a submarine and a baseball team as well.”

“Unit 12, you understand there are no harbors in the city?”

“Yeah. Okay. I must be mistaken on that one.


“Okay Unit 12.  Dispatching to your location: additional units for crowd control, animal control, child services, a translator and a protocol officer for the foreign dignitaries, an ambulance for newborn and mother, a hazardous materials cleanup team and just to be safe the fire department, a paddy wagon and a field psychiatrist too.  Will that cover it?”



Copyright SBaumann 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Zooey vs Darius

A Very She & Him Christmas (2011) vs Darius Rucker: Home For The Holidays [1] (2014):

I acquired both of these albums very recently [2] and I guess in the interest of full disclosure I should reveal that I haven't actually finished listening to the Darius Rucker CD yet. [3]

A Very She & Him Christmas is what some might call minimalist.  There's Zooey Deschanel and there's Matt Ward and there are the smallest number of instruments possible on every song.  The instruments are played softly, the songs are sung low and the whole thing proceeds at a pace that would make a turtle say, "Dude, that's kind of slow." [4]

Nevertheless the CD is very enjoyable.  Again, if you are looking for something to sing or dance to at your Christmas get together this is not the disc for you.  However if you want something to play in the background while you're wrapping presents or having a romantic date during the holiday season you need look no further.

Some of the reviews I read online said that they found Zooey's singing flat, emotionless or just plain bad.  But I suspect those people were missing the point.  She isn't trying to set new holiday cheer world records, nor is she trying to out sing previous performers or the instruments.  The entire thing is meant to be slow, low and dreamy.

One song of note is their version of Baby It's Cold Outside.  In an interesting twist, they switched the roles and she sings part usually sung by the guy.  It worked well for me.  The Pook said she liked it better than most other versions of the song. [5]

A Very Hootie Christmas is exactly what you expect it to be.  It's Hootie.  He's singing your favorite Christmas songs [6] in a way that sounds exactly like Hootie singing Christmas songs.  He's got that resonant deep voice.  The music is grand and full.  This is exactly the CD you want playing in the background at a Christmas party.  It's great.

A Very She & Him Christmas (2011):  B+

Darius Rucker: Home For the Holidays [1] (2014): A


[1] - A.K.A. - A Very Hootie Christmas
[2] - "Acquired" meaning bought on Amazon and "recently" meaning yesterday.
[3] - Of course that isn't going to stop me from grading it.
[4] - What?  Everyone knows turtles are kind of hip in an old school way and say things like "dude" all the time.
[5] - But then again the Pook hates that song.  She calls it the "date rape song".
[6] - Including Baby It's Cold Outside.  Sorry Pook.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Serendipity

Serendipity (2001):

Serendipity: a fortunate coincidence.

Serendipity: a movie starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale.

The premise of this movie is a little far fetched, but intentionally so.  Two people meet by accident, spend a few hours together and then part to go back to their individual lives.  But because they feel like there might be more to this meeting than it seems and at the same time don't want to read too much into what might really be nothing, they leave it in fate's hands.  She writes her name and number in a book and sells the book to a used bookstore.  He writes his name and number on the back of a five dollar bill, which then gets spent on a pack of mints.  If they were meant to be together, the book will find its way back to him and the fiver will end up back with her.

The movie continues with an unforgettable series of almost connections and near misses between the two. So much so that in another movie you would be hard pressed to accept them.  But since the premise of this movie is that fate might just be tinkering in people's lives, in this case it works wonderfully.

Call me a hopeless romantic, but there is something compelling and wonderful about the whole thing.  Fate, karma, destiny, whatever you want to call it, keeping these two people circling around each other but never meeting until the time is perfect, until it is the right time for them to find each other.

I'm not sure that I necessarily believe that it works out that way every time for everyone.  I suspect there are plenty of people in the world that would be a perfectly good match for any given person.  But at the same time, while that may be true, maybe there is that someone out there that is the perfect match for each of us and if we would just sit still long enough and pay attention to what's happening maybe our paths will come together at the exact right moment.

For instance, maybe that moment is in an otherwise 'meh' class you take while getting your masters and suddenly a little voice in your ear whispers, "That girl sitting in front of you.  You're gonna marry her."  But you've got to be paying enough attention to hear it.

Add in Jeremy Piven and you've got a fantastic movie.

Serendipity: A