Can Carrie hold her own against Spidey?


Since the new Spiderman musical has recently dropped in on the world (in the case of one actor, literally dropped in!), suspicion has begun to mount that Spiderman might actually upset Carrie's place as worst musical ever. Gosh golly, it seems someone needs to defend Carrie's position.
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Charles Rosenay writes on examiner.com: Could the new Spiderman musical overtake the "Carrie" musical as Broadway's all-time flops? Our reviews of "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark" last week received a lot of attention, but not as much as the show itself when one its actors plunged 30 feet from the set and was hurt during a recent performance.
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The Sunday New York Post did an article on the biggest stage flops through the years, and voted 1988's "Carrie" as the all-time biggest Broadway bust ever. Playing only five shows, it lost 7 million dollars. The Spider Man musical reportedly costs 65 million! We'd rather see a revised, improved version of the new show than to see it get squashed (bad spider pun).
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While Spiderman might rival Carrie, I don't think the spiderman will ever be redone in drag. How bad was Carrie on stage?
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How bad was Carrie, really? Rosenay suggests to his readers that maybe Carrie wasn't that bad. Did anyone actually see it? Or does it just have a bad rap? In search of an answer, I found Mike Flemming's article at deadline. Flemming gave Carrie the musical this rining endorsement, "Because Carrie was that big a flop, historic, losing $8 million. As a cub reporter at New York Newsday assigned to cover Broadway opening nights, I went to the 1988 opening of Carrie expecting big things because the Stephen King book is such a chilling coming of age tale and the movie wasn't bad, either. The musical started out OK and, at intermission, I chatted up King, who was encouraged. But then we returned to our seats, the curtain rose, and the bad kids launched into Out For Blood. Meant to be a showstopper, the number cemented Carrie's rep as one of the worst ever musicals. Reviewers were merciless, and the musical closed after just 21 performances. Changing that second act opener seems a no-brainer." http://www.deadline.com/tag/carrie-musical/
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EW: King 10 Best Books I Read In 2010

Stephen King's article, "10 Best Books I Read in 2010" is posted at EW. Some of these are previews, since they haven't been published yet! Check out the link, King gives typical chatty explanations for his choices.
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Note the title is simply the 10 Best books I read in 2010. . . not 10 NEW books I read! Some of these are not brand sankin' new titles. I didn't know King liked John Irving.
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Included on King's list are:
10. City of Thieves, David Benioff
9. The Help, Kathryn Stocket
8. Swamplandia!, Karen Russell
7. Blood’s a Rover, James Ellroy
6. Matterhorn, Karl Marlantes
5. Last Night in Twisted River, John Irving
4. Savages, Don Winslow
3. I’d Know You Anywhere, Laura Lippman
2. Freedom, Jonathan Franzen
1. . . . about this title, King writes: "To my mind, there have been two great American novels in the past 50 years. Catch-22 is one; this is the other."
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http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20326356_20449677,00.html

POLL RESULTS: FUll Dark No Stars

Question: "Your Favorite Full Dark Story"
5 -- 1922
10 -- Big Driver
5 -- Fair Extension
7 -- A Good Marriage (my vote goes with this one!)

Total voted: 27

Cemetery Dance Offers A Dark Christmas

Picture: Sharon, holding Full Dark NO Stars.
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My wife greeted me with a very happy smile when I got home. The Cemetery Dance special edition of Full dark, No Stars had arrived. Merry Christmas!
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This is a great book! I don't know if CD has anymore available, but it is well worth the cover price, and will probably actually increase in value. (I actually have no idea if it will increase in value, okay! So if you're just looking to make a buck, I guess you should invest in gold.)
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What I like:
  • The book is large, but not cumbersome.
  • It is tightly bound. I know that sounds small, but it is irritating to buy books that can't be read. This has very sturdy binding.
  • The cover is different, and much better I think, than the Scribner edition. The front shows a man looking in a shop window, the back shows the same image but from a darker point of view. I'm actually still trying to figure the cover out!
  • The book comes with a equally nice and sturdy slipcase. Something that is very appreciated, since these are often "extras."
  • The book is illustrated in both pencil and color throughout. The drawings are directly connected to the text, and truly capture the heart of each story. I particularly like the rats. Very nice!
  • Newspaper clips in the text are double columned, making it feel more "newspaperish."
  • Sub-chapters and breaks are printed in red, which looks very nice. The color red is used throughout, with black text. In fact, there is a red line at the bottom of each page, below which is the page number -- meaning every single page has color of some kind.

Well done, Cemetery Dance! I wish CD had been given the project of producing the complete version of The Stand. I know, there's a leather bound one out there... but who has two grand in loose change? CD gives us really nice collectors books at a price taht doesn't rob our children's college fund.

The Problem With Writing


I really enjoyed King's afterword to Full Dark No Stars. He was unapologetic about offering such dark stories. The reader might have found them hard to read in places, he informs us that he found them hard to write in places.
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The problem with writing, King suggests, is honesty. Bad writing is dishonest writing. Characters don't do what people would really do. More than that, the characters don't talk the way people really talk. King feels he has pretty realistically shown people for who they are. Even if it caused the stories to be darker, he feels they are honest stories, and thus it is good writing.
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I read a lot of Stephen King, and he is usually pretty faithful to the truth as he would see it. That is, there might be times that I feel his characters mimic the people in his own circles more than people in the real world; but that is rare and the attempt at brutal honesty is always appreciated.
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Do Demons Cuss?
King's honest writing style is all the more appreciated as I dig through a very popular Christian novel. The plot is great; and the characters... well, not so great. Because they don't talk the way people talk. You can't put that in a "Christian" novel. The result is a drop of dishonesty. For those who might argue with me on this point, I would ask if you can really take us into a nest of demons, drop in to their conversation and discover... wha-la! Demons don't cuss! That is like headline news stuff. Demons don't use foul language at all. Of course, in this book, neither do the humans. The result: The characters, while enjoyable, come out seeming a little cardboard.
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This is true of a lot of writing aimed at certain groups. When someone writes to a chosen audience instead of simply letting the story tell itself and then find its audience -- the result is censorship. The author cuts out the stuff that he knows his/her audience won't like! Would demons curse? I think they would. Would Christians buy the book?
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By Richard Laymon -- Not Really
This is a struggle in my own writing. I have a perfectly good novel that my family likes a lot. I've written and rewritten it. But it's not what I want to write. I found great freedom recently when I finally decided to gut out a novel that had been on my mind for years. This thing dogs me. But it's bad! Really bad. I tried to write it clean -- no cussing, no bad stuff. But the result is obvious to me, and thus would be obvious to anyone reading; it is dishonest.
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Know how I found freedom in writing? It's as simple as this: I wrote my story title, and then under it wrote "By Richard Laymon." Ha! Richard Laymon is about the nastiest writer I've encountered. In fact, I don't know if he's really an honest writer so much as a shock-jock! Some of that stuff in a Laymon book is just disgusting. But by putting Laymon's name at the top of my story, I felt free to let story tell itself, without my editorial comments.
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Loyalty:
I suspect the reason so many people are very loyal to Stephen King is not because every book is truly a masterpiece, but because each one is at least honest. And when King lets the story take control, no one -- not even the writer -- knows what will happen.
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King has told us about times stories took a different turn than he expected. Paul Sheldon turned out stronger than King thought he was. If Paul had been a puppet in King's hands, he would have died in the clutches of Annie Wilkes. In his original plan for The Shining, everyone died! King said there was blood everywhere. But that's not really the direction the story dictated, and thus King in the end was honest to the story, not his own vision of it. This might be why he is so offended when others take his story (The Shining) and play with it. Imagine King saying, "Hey, I didn't play with this stuff! I was a simple scribe. Don't you get dishonest with my material." (But I'm putting words in his mouth, so forgive me if that seems dishonest, eh!)
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Bachman
I wonder if the reason King felt such freedom as Richard Bachman is because he had become. . . Stephen King. He was expected to write a certain way, aim at a certain audience, and do certain things. But as Bachman, he didn't have to play nice.

Who Will Play Roland Deschain

Here's an interesting article on who might play the Gunslinger in the upcoming Ron Howard adaptation. They offer the following suggestions: Daniel Craig, Hugh Jackman, Jon Hamm and Viggo Mortensen.
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http://www.newkerala.com/news/world/fullnews-107896.html

LA Times: Tower Obsession Infects Ron Howard



Check out this LA times story by Geoff Boucher about Ron Howard and the Dark Tower. Here's a couple of quotes, but the full story is worth the read.
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“I really can’t stop thinking about it,” Howard said while shaking his head. “We’ve been meeting and talking and I’ve been reading and researching and just kind of living with it. I’ve been constantly going through stuff and I’ve just been re-listening to it [on audio books] on my iPod and we’ve been sending e-mails back and forth, ‘What about this approach? What do you think of this idea?’ We’re finding the shape of it. We’re moving quickly now, as quickly as we can, and I feel challenged in the most exciting ways.”
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Boucher quotes Howard: “Filmically, there are tones in this that I have never used before, tones of fantasy menace and elements of horror and real fear. And there’s the burden, on the characters, of this journey that is really palpable. That’s what we need to get on the screen. I think there’s something about [the Frank Darabont films] ‘Green Mile’ or a ‘Shawshank Redemption,’ the complexity and the ballast of them, those are two [of the Stephen King adaptations] where you do get the horror and suspense that’s there on the page. We’re charging ourselves with the responsibility of getting a real understanding of the material and utilizing many of the best aspects of the books and graphic novels.”
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The article is pretty long, and absolutely fantastic. Check it out here:
http://herocomplex.latimes.com/2010/12/17/the-dark-tower-ron-howards-plans-and-passion-for-stephen-king-epic/
image credit: http://trinity-typhoon.deviantart.com/art/The-Dark-Tower-114957103

Full Dark Journal 5: A Good Marriage


I am sure there are spoilers here. I try not to give too much away... but I also think you should not read reviews and essays on books if you haven't read them. If you need a review to tell you to go read this book, then I'll put it right here at the beginning. . . go read this book. There. Now we shall proceed.
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A Good Marriage is a good story.
This is my favorite novella of the four in Full Dark No Stars. I found it genuinely scary. The story often moved in directions I did not expect.
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Darcy Anderson is in a genuine predicament. King masterfully explains why she chooses not to call the police. Not so much an issue of her love for her husband, but her own need for stability. But justice ultimately trumps her own needs.
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Edgar's Ghost
King cites Edgar Allan Poe's short story (weren't they all short?) "The Cask of Amontillado." That's cool, since 1922 had hints of the Tell Tale Heart. In Poe's 1846 story, The Cask of Amontillado, Montresor uses wine to trap his "friend." Montresor literally builds a wall, while Darcy walls her victim in by incapacitating him. In each case, the victim is betrayed by someone they trust.
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Mirrors and Coins:
Both mirrors and coin collecting play important minor chords in this novella. They not only move the plot, but are the kind of details that enrich the story as a whole.
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BTK:
The story is based on BTK . The documentary BTK Killer Next Door starts with this intro: "Known to his neighbors as a Boy Scout leader, a church goer, a family man. . . but a murderer?" That is exactly the angle King takes.
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Blading and pudgy, Bob Anderson even looks like Dennis Raider. Also, Like Raider, Anderson managed to stop for a period of time.
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King picks up on a serial killers inability to feel guilt over their crimes. "Hollow" is how Darcy describes it. He is just a hollow, empty shell of a man. Anderson claims that two men live inside him. After observation, that is not Darcy's conclusion. In essence, she decides that the good man doesn't really exist. It's not Jekyll and Hyde -- it's just Hyde.
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The mystery of marriage was explored more tenderly in Lisey's Story.
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Killers Among Us:
How can serial killers move among us seemingly unknown? I told this before, but it bears repeating. My Grandfather was a pastor. His church had a photo director. One morning I flipped through the photo directory and I stopped on the picture of Bill Suff. He was a serial killer in Riverside and Lake Elsinore, California. He also sang in the choir at Grandpa's church!
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Serial Killers and Stephen King:
My list will be no where near complete, but here is a list of Serial Killers in Stephen King's fiction. Please add to my list in the comments section, and I'll update this post. I'm not counting monsters as serial Killers (ie: Pennywise, Christine, Flagg) or animals (Cujo).
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Under The Dome, Junior Renny
IT, Henry Bowers
The Dark Half, George Stark
Gerald's Game, Raymond Andrew Joubert (The Space Cowboy)
The Dark Tower, The Pusher
The Green Mile, William Wharton ?
Big Driver, Big Driver and Little Driver
A Good Marriage, Bob Anderson
Frank Dodd, The Dead Zone (thanks Eva)
"Springheel Jack" - Strawberry Spring (Night Shift) (Thanks Eva)
The Man Who Loved Flowers (Night Shift) (thanks Eva.)
Lloyd Henreid and Andrew "Poke" Freeman - The Stand (Thanks Eva)
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Wikipedia says this about Annie Wilkes in a discussion about "angel's of mercy": "The character Annie Wilkes in the Stephen King novel Misery seems to be a serial killer of this type." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel_of_Mercy_(serial_killer)
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In IT, King showed a serial killer in league with the devil. Henry Bowers works under the influence of Pennywise. However in more recent works, King appears to be showing us the evil comes from within. It is not so much the work of the devil, as it is the heart itself. This was true of Big Driver, Junior Renny and Bob Anderson.
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However, in IT the serial killer was best portrayed by Pennywise himself. The monster was based on John Wayne Gacey
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Hell:
Holt Ramsey, a retired detective mentions that Anderson is now being punished in hell "according to the Old Testament." That struck me as a strange comment. I know, Ramsey is a detective, not a theologian. But it implies that Hell is an Old Testament doctrine as opposed to a New Testament teaching. However, hell in the Old Testament is simply Sheol, the shadowy underworld of the dead. It is simply not a developed doctrine. Hell is actually a New Testament teaching. It is particularly advanced by: Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), 1 Peter, Jude and The Revelation.
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Uplifting:
I found this to be the most enjoyable of all of the novella's. It was, frankly, uplifting. An encouragement to peer in at Darcy as she deepens in her convictions and carries out revenge. It is a redemptive novel, from Darcy's end. She is able not only to rise above the monster within (the monster is passivity), but also able to crush the monster who lives with her.
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If 1922 and Fair Extension were truly FULL DARK with not even a hint of STARS, I would have to say that we at least get moonlight in A Good Marriage and Big Driver.
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Link: Video of King Chat

EW has posted video of King's question and answer session about Full Dark No Stars. I think the most interesting thing King said was that he has written a script for A Good Marriage.
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http://shelf-life.ew.com/2010/12/17/stephen-king-full-dark-no-stars-exclusive/

A Different Take On Maximum Overdrive

I like Maximum Overdrive... a lot. I also liked Aaron Tellock's take on the upcoming remakes of Firestarter and Maximum Overdrive.
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His assessment of Max. Overdrive: "Maximum Overdrive” drew some initial attention because Stephen King was directing the flick, poor acting and some comically horrific kill scenes put a quick taint on the film’s success."
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And now for the part I really like. . . Tellock says: "My DVD recommendation for today is “Maximum Overdrive” (1986). A story of a group of people who try to survive when machines start to come alive and become homicidal as told by one of the masters of horror himself, Mr. Stephen King. It’s kind of like “Transformers” without having to put up with Megan Fox. Enjoy."
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transformers without Megan Fox. NICE!
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http://www.examiner.com/horror-movies-in-milwaukee/king-remakes-include-firestarter-and-maximum-overdrive

Full Dark Journal 4: Big Driver

Picture credit: Jill Bauman, http://www.cemeterydance.com/sh/king05.html
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There are probably spoilers ahead. If you don't like that, give the Library Police a call.
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I just finished Big Driver. It was hard going for a short little while there. Wow, I'm glad I hung in there. I like this novella a lot!
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Listening to the Stephen King chat helped relate to this story better. A woman asked King how he was able to connect so well with women. His answer was simply that it's part of the art of writing (my words). The difficulties for me had been with his female character.
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Tess' reasoning at several points still troubles me. Sorry to mention this. But I was not really convinced on her reason for not calling the police. And, her note to herself, "Don't get caught" . . . but she didn't really carry out much of a plan. She followed an emotion, but didn't execute a flawless play. Instead, she plans backward. that is, she carries out an idea, then figures out how to cover her tracks.
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While the story is dark, the ending is fantastic. King masterfully pulled the strands together. It is dark, but perhaps not as dark as some of the other novella's contained in FDNS.
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Cultural References:
It is also worth mentioning that the novella is chalk full of cultural references. Books, movies and even Diet Coke. The Jodie Foster film The Brave One really takes center stage. But those passing references always bring a King film home. The Sound of Music is also mentioned, as is Walmart, Lay-Z-Boy, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Doritos, (I know, this is really deep stuff here).
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Mirrors:
Both Big Driver and A Good Marriage make use of mirrors in a minor way. In Big Driver, Tess looks herself in the mirror after a shower and gets a glimpse of her own rage. In A Good Marriage, the bathroom mirror is again discussed. This time, from a woman's point of view, wondering why the mirror is aimed at the toilet. Who wants to see themselves, no matter how pretty they are, sitting on the potty? The mention of mirrors is interesting because both stories feature women.
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I don't know exactly who Tess is modeled after; but I keep picturing her as a Patricia Cornwell. She is a writer, who has written a series of mystery novels featuring a female protagonist. Okay, probably not. Old women like to read Tess' work, so I suspect she's more likely a type of Mary Higgins Clark.
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Chatting:
Everything talks in this book. It rattled me for a while. However, someone pointed out that this is better executed in print than audio. I have to agree. First, the novella is very focused. When going for a tight frame, dialogue of some kind is needed to break up the story and expand the characters thoughts. Things need to be worked out, and the objects and corpses give Tess something to work them out with. Actually, it's what the dead people started talking that I felt much better about this whole world of chatty objects.

2003 NPR Interview With King


This is from November 19, 2003. King was the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from National Book Foundation. I always enjoy interviews with King because he is very energetic; and not in that awkward Tom Cruise way! No jumping on the sofa with Opera, King is always laser tight on subject and very personable.
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Here is the article that accompanied the interview:
Critics have rarely embraced Stephen King as a serious writer. But the prolific novelist, best known for his horror stories, is about to enter some serious company. The National Book Foundation is honoring the best-selling author with a lifetime achievement award whose previous recipients have included Arthur Miller, Eudora Welty and John Updike. King discusses the award and his writing with NPR's Susan Stamberg.
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Beginning with 1974's Carrie, King has published 40 books and more than 200 short stories. The author of The Shining, Pet Sematary, The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption resents being pegged in one genre.
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"It's always made me uneasy to be called a horror writer or a suspense writer," King tells Stamberg on Morning Edition. "They're hooks to hang your hat on and I reject them. I've never denied that I was a horror writer, but I've never introduced myself as that either. I see myself as Stephen King. I'm an American novelist, and that's it."
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By the way, I was interviewed once by NPR. Well, actually, I just barely got a single quote in. http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=1510901&m=1512465

DEADLINE: Ron Howard On 'The Dark Tower'

Deadline ran an article today titled: "Ron Howard On The dark Tower." Mike Fleming shared this about a recent conversation with Howard: ""It is going well, and it has been incredibly stimulating to work on. -- It's dense, a great author's life work is not to be taken lightly. It has been utterly fascinating to explore it, and we are having great creative conversations. I've begun tossing and turning at 3 in the morning over it, so that's a good sign."
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http://www.deadline.com/2010/12/ron-howard-on-the-dark-tower/

Firestarter Remake and more


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File this under "here we go again." I saw today at Liljas Library that there are plans to remake Maximum Overdrive.
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I also spotted this headline at variety.com, "U, De Laurentiis to reignite 'Fire starter'." Great.
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Here's a snippet from the variety article:
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'Firestarter' has a great mythology and with Martha and Lorenzo's vision we believe the franchise can be extended in a new and exciting direction," said Debbie Liebling, U's prexy of production.
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De Laurentiis Co. has a slew of projects in various stages of development, including a reboot of the cult classic "Barbarella," a remake of another King adaptation, "Maximum Overdrive" and a new spin on 1980s TV actioner "MacGyver."
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Smith is now working on the "Firestarter" script. U hopes to get the pic into production next year, but has yet to take the project out to directors.
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Besides the 1984 pic, cabler Syfy fielded a telepic in 2002 dubbed "Firestarter 2: Rekindled."
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I just can't wait.
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Actually, could someone make remakes we actually want. Maybe a mini-series of Needful Things, or a remake of Dolores Claiborne? Or how about someone make one of the novels that's still quietly waiting some screen time -- Lisey's Story, UTD, Cell (please!), From A Buick 8, Bag of Bones?

Full Dark Reader Appalled!


Steve Duin of The Oregonian offers a not so flattering review of Full Dark No Stars. In fact, he titled the short review, "No light, no warmth in King's repellent quartet of novellas ." After saying some kind things about Different Seasons (and not mentioning Four Past Midnight), Duin then launches into his problems with Full Dark No Stars. Namely, the stories are too dark for him. But he can't say he wasn't warned! The name of the book is, after all, "FALL dark NO stars." Duin concludes by quoting King and then offering his own comment thusly, "I want to provoke an emotional, even visceral, reaction in my readers." Mission accomplished, boss. Reader appalled."
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I might ask a question at this point: Why is Full Dark No Stars getting such a visceral response from some readers and reviewers? Frankly, because they've forgotten what a monster Stephen King can be.
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We Like The Dark Side!
Time has caused reviewers and readers alike to expect every novel to be a Green Mile or The Body. But every now and then, that guy who gave us Christine, Carrie, Salem's Lot, The Shining and Cujo pops his head out and says boo. I like it! I like it a lot.
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Is it possible we've forgotten what we originally liked about King? I can only speak for me, but I love his fearlessness in writing. He's not afraid to gross out, or go super dark.
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The Dark Makes The Light Brighter
King is not afraid to kill off main characters (sorry Nick), or bring a long story to a totally depressing ending. Now, because his stories are unpredictable, the result is real joy at the end of a good novel. When a writer always follows the same pattern, the joyful end isn't really so wonderful. But when you're not sure what you're going to get -- coal in your stocking, or a X-Box, the X-Box is all the better!
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Does anyone remember some dark moments from the past King gave us? How about... Needful things, two women cut each other up right on main street. It was sweet! Cujo was full of nastiness. I really liked the crucifixions in The Stand and the bathtub scene in The Shining.
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Now think about this: When you read King, you're always a little tense. Why? because you know he'll go THERE. So when we read Gerald's Game, what makes it scary when Jessie is in the room tied up with the killer there, you don't know what Mr. King will do. Or when Paul Sheldon is locked up in a house with Annie Wilkes, you really don't know what will happen. Because our mutual friend is known to slaughter his main characters. You're in suspense all the more!

Talent Can be Hard Work

Dan Di Sciullo at Sports Network has an interesting introduction to his article on Sidney Crosby. I'll post the section on King... but the whole article is worth taking a peak at.
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Stephen King is best known for scaring the living daylights out of the reading public with his tales of horror and suspense, and with novels like "The Shining" and "Pet Sematary" to his credit, it's a well-deserved reputation.
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But the world-famous Maine resident has a lesser-know knack for letting nuggets of wisdom slip through in the nearly 40 years since his first novel "Carrie" was released back in 1973.

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My favorite piece of sage King advice goes like this,
"Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."
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I'm not sure if Sidney Crosby has ever actually read those words, but the sentiment is obviously something the Pittsburgh Penguins superstar could get behind.

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Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/12/09/2692535/the-never-ending-ascent-of-sidney.html#ixzz17gUjoJ7u

Notes and Quotes From Live Chat

Here are my quick notes from the Stephen King webcast. These are notes only... many of them only half quotes at that. There were some really great discussion questions. In particular, I liked his explanation of the cover of Full Dark No Stars and the answer to the question, which story would he film? Turns out, he's already written a screen play for A Good Marriage. Anyway, here's my notes. . .
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About 1984: "I think reading should be a hot experience."
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About Big Driver, does he take back roads? "No! That's my wife." (Reference Mrs. Todd's Shortcut.) "that's my wife who is always looking for a way to shave a few minutes off point A to point B." (He said it usually takes her a lot longer)
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Fair Extension: Why did Streeter not feel guilty? "In my mind a lot of times we have deep seated envy that we never really express in our daily lives. We have friend where there is an under current of jealousy." "I started to wonder what it would be like if the devil was actually a fair trader."
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Which story is your favorite? "They're all my children. There are things about them all that I like. It's like when someone asks, which of your kids do you love best?"
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What is the inspiration for the title? "We had the book. We had four stories. At least two other books like this have long stories, Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight. They're orphan stories. The stories in Full Dark No Stars, there is no magazine that will print stories this length. 75k words is the top end. These are too short to be novels. The four stories together needed a title. They asked me for one." . . . "I wanted to have some kind of a theme that would go with the motif that would go with something to be read after dark."
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In 1922, Rats play a strong role. Why rats? "Because rats are nasty. Rats are scary. I write about things that scare me the most. When people ask me what scares you, they expect some big answer like death or no afterlife (or there is an afterlife). What scares me is what scares most people. Waking up and finding your bed is full of spiders."
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How can he so skillfully understand women characters? "I was raised by my mom. I married a woman who has five sisters. They're all strong personalities. I have assistance who run my life at the office. Really, I think that for a writer the act of imagination has to do with a number of things. One is the ability to put on the dress if your a man, or put on pants if you are a woman. I read something in my first year of college, Love and Death in the American novel. It said American writers don't understand women. Writers from Hemingway to Falkner don't deal well with women. Women are either zeros or destroyers. I thought to myself if I ever make my living doing this, I will do better at that. I have characters who are pretty dark as females (Annie Wilkes). I try across the board to treat women fairly, with as much texture as possible."
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Is there any significance to the photo on the front? "We had to have a cover. They asked me if I had any ideas? So many of the stories are so dark. at least two stories deal with women in terrible circumstances. the image that came to my mind was a woman with her head down, holding her head. What I saw isn't exactly the cover. It doesn't look like any of the other covers." he says the pose he wanted, the art director said looked like an Excedrin headache!
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Who are your favorite childhood authors? "I think the good stories tend to stay around." (There was a lot here that I missed. . .)
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Any outlet for creativity besides writing? "I play guitar. I have a couple of fast cars. Harley Davidson. I like that. I did have an accident a few years ago. I was just walking. if I'd been on the motor cycle, I'd been okay! Took a motorcycle across Australia a few years ago."
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Did you plan to connect your books? "The way I look at it, most of these books, I think of these as people who exist in a certain universe. I put this to work in the Dark Tower where they are connected. I like the idea of characters coming back. I like the idea where there is a world out there where Danny Torrance and Charlie McGee could get married. They would have totally wonderful children. I like the idea of going back and visiting those people again. I guess they are connected!"
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Which was the most fun to write? "I'd say Christine! The car that runs on its own. It was a hoot when I got the idea. I had an old car. I thought, wouldn't it be cool of the odometer ran backwards. and as it went, the car healed itself. Know what, I like most of them. I mostly have a good time. It's amazing I get paid to do this, because I have a blast."
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What story would you adapt? "I've written a screen play for Good Marriage."
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What still thrills you when you read a book? Do you analyze them like in High school? "Mostly just enjoy the story. I saw something just last night from the guy who wrote the Hero's Journey, he said when you sit in one place and the reading is good you're in a state of low rapture. i think there's truth to that."
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Do you feel short stories are becoming a lost art? "To some degree. They're harder to sell. There is a view from a lot of authors that the novel is the holy grail. I understand from readers that short fiction can be difficult. Once you get involved you want to be involved for a long time. If I were teaching I would say the one insensible book of short stories is would be please be quiet."
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Is it true you write 8 hours a day? "I'd shoot myself! I write about three hours a day."
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How has rock music influenced your writing? "I listen to a lot of metal, thrash. I like everything! Disco is fine with me. I can hear the sound of people shooting themselves in the head when I say that." he says he likes the beat that drives rock music.
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Translating King into Italian


Here is an interview with Wu Ming 1 who translated Full Dark No Stars into Italian. Wu Ming is a collective group of translators.
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Asked what is the most challenging part of translating King, Ming has a list! Turns out, King is pretty difficult to translate. "he's very fond of puns," Ming 1 laments. "neologisms, idioms, local slang and so on. He plays with all the singularities of the English language, precisely the stuff that can't be translated in any way!"
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Another great question was, "How does King's work compare to Italian horror novels?" I'll let you check out the answer.
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Lawsuit: "You Stole My Story"

The Hollywood Reporter says that Stephen King is being sued for copyright infringement. Rod Marquardt claims that Duma Key has major portions lifted from his book Kellers Den. Of course a jury trial is demanded. It seems each novel King produces, there is someone nearby to say it was their idea. "Hey, I know where Stephen King gets his ideas... from me!"
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Here's the heart of the legal complaint:
“Duma Key” contains original creative copyrightable elements, derived from Plaintiff’s copyrighted original literary work “Keller’s Den”, throughout the course of the literary work created by Defendant Stephen King." And, "Defendant Steven King’s 2008 novel entitled “Duma Key” is substantially similar to Plaintiff Rod Marquardt’s original literary work “Keller’s Den in the following ways, but not limited to, plot, plot devices, structure, sequence of events, setting, characters, characterizations, character function and relationships."
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The List:
After this explanation of the complaint in legalese, a chart cuts to the heart of the complaint. This is where you're left thinking, "That's it? Really?" The list is pretty long, but I'll post some of my favorites:
  • "Both main characters use a psychiatrist to help them cope with tragedies." Wow.
  • "Both novels cite “earthbound”
  • "The first mention of a specific color while painting or drawing is yellow (Keller’s Den used Indian Yellow, page 213 – Duma Key used Venus Yellow, pages 43, 57, 58)."
  • "Both novels use the word “cavalry” as being rescued from the intruder when someone else shows up."
  • Get this. . . "Both novels reference an evening breeze through a back door just before someone is killed" The complaint then states, "an amazing sequence of chance."
  • "An asylum is references in both novels."
  • "In both novels rain cascades, pelts or beats against windows and lightening illuminates both houses during a storm and during the storm, a painting was significant."
  • You'll like this, "Both main characters had liquor cabinets but seldom drank hard."
  • Wait, we're not done. Get this, "Both novels reference ancient weaponry."
  • "An old black and white photo of ancestors is referenced..." I guess King should have referenced an old color photo.

What's funny is when the complaint announces that passages read exactly the same. Then the passages are lined up one after the other (Kellers Den and Duma Key.) Result... they're completely different!

The complaint goes on and on and on. To believe it, you would have to beleive King read Kellers Den, then decided to rewrite the whole thing. a feat possibly more difficult than just writing your own novel!

Hey, did I ever mention that I wrote a novel in High School called "Silent Parameter." It was about a city that is cut off from the rest of the world by a strange mist? Kind of a mix between Under The Dome and The Mist, right? Only, I wrote my 400 pages in 1991. It wasn't very good (come on, I was in High School). But my point is that there will be lots of similarities in any persons work with other peoples writing. Why? Because there's so many of us!

By the way, the complaint misspells Stephen Kings name multiple times, identifying him in the text as "Steven King."
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Names:
It gets better yet! Note this, "Both novels use the following similar or identically named characters..." Now, if both novels have people named Monica Hinkson, there might be some raised eyebrows.
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Here are the names King is accused to have copied: "Jones" "Jack" "John" "Tina" "Richard" "Jimmy" "Smith" The complaint explainst hat Keller’s Den has Steve Smith while Duma Key has Sandy Smith. So King stole the name Smith. Smooth!
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Also the name: "Frank" and get this from the complaint, "Keller’s Den has Keller (throughout). Duma Key has Garrison Keilor, the poet." But Garrison Keilor is a real person! If Keilor is too close to Keller, shouldn't they be suing him and not King?
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Here's another great line, "Keller’s Den has Billy (pages 129, 130, 131, 132, 144). Duma Key has Bill (page 395)." Get it! Billy and Bill.
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So what's wanted? The complaint says, "Rod Marquardt is entitled to actual damages including all profits reaped by the Defendants as a result of their infringement pursuant to the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §504."
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You can read the complaint yourself here: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/12/07/StephenKing.pdf
And the Hollywood reporter article here: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/blogs/thr-esq/hollywood-docket-stephen-king-accused-57100?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+thr%2Fbusiness+%28The+Hollywood+Reporter+-+Business%29

Mark Twain's New Bestseller


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Stephen King's new book has hit the bestseller list. But he has some stiff competition; Mark Twain! Yes, I do know Mark Twain is dead. So is Samuel Clemens. But he has a new books out, and you might have trouble getting your grubby hands on it.
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Julie Bosman at the New York Times writes, "The first print run of “Autobiography” was for 50,000 copies. Thomson-Shore, a small printer in Michigan that is producing the books, has been working overtime and is now producing 30,000 copies a week. To speed up delivery, the printer found bigger-than-usual trucks to carry books to warehouses in Richmond, Calif., and Ewing, N.J. — the trucks carry 10,000 copies instead of the usual 7,000." http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/20/books/20twain.html
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No, the new Twain book does not give us even further adventures of Tom and Huck. No more stories of Yankees and King Aurthur. It is his auto biography -- published a century after his death.
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Larry Rohter at the New York Times wrote, "Whether anguishing over American military interventions abroad or delivering jabs at Wall Street tycoons, this Twain is strikingly contemporary." http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/10/books/10twain.html
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Why wait a hundred years to write your autobiography? Because Twain wanted to speak freely. The Daily Home gives this explanation, "The strict instruction that these texts remain unpublished for 100 years meant that when they came out, he would be "dead, and unaware, and indifferent" and therefore free to speak his "whole frank mind." http://www.dailyhome.com/view/full_story/10551453/article-Mark-Twain-s-new-bestseller?instance=home_opinion
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King And Twain
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Obviously Twain has had a huge impact on the work of Stephen King. In particular, The Talisman comes to mind. (Hello, Jack Sawyer!) More than just making connections between the two via King's work, they also share a lack of excitement about adverbs. I know that will stir your heart! Also, both are frequent visitors to the banned books list.
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Note this question from The Daily Home, "Who else among current authors could hope to accomplish such a feat? Could any living author be on the bestseller list in 2110? John Grisham? Stephen King? Dennis Lahane? Bob Woodward? Twain relished his celebrity and confidently ensured its longevity by dictating the publication year of his autobiography. Who among today’s celebrities will still elicit the interest of the masses when a century has passed?"
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Will Stephen King be read a hundred years from now? I think he will. Not as much because of his story content, but because of his stories settings. that is, King will be read for the portrait of America from the 1970's to the present that his novels give us. He skillfully weaves culture and story together, giving the future a time casual while at the same time unfolding a great tale.

What's On King's Boob-Tube


So what does Stephen king like to watch? Well, he told us recently in an EW post.
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10. Morning Joe
9. Boardwalk Empire
8. SpongeBob SquarePants – “always witty and often fall-on-the-floor hilarious”
7. Sons of Anarchy
6. Dexter
5. Damages
4. The Event
3. Breaking Bad
2. The Walking Dead – “21st-century rarity, appointment TV”
1. Friday Night Lights – “a lot of love and honesty has gone into FNL and it shows every week.”
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Wait. . . where is Big Bang Theory? Simpsons? Oh well, I take great pleasure simply in #8 on his list!

LINK: Photo's Of King Signing Full Dark No Stars


You'll really like this post from Emmanuel Manetakis at Very Fine Books. He had the opportunity to be at the Full Dark No Stars book signing, and posted some great pictures.

Full Dark Journal 3: Big Driver Mid-Read Confusion



STOP
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If you haven't read Big Driver, don't read this. This is not a synopsis, but I will discuss things in the book that will spoil it for you if you haven't read. If you have read the story, press on!
.You know, don't you. . . the stand was the greatest novel ever written.
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Some Mid-Read Confusion. . .
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I've been listening to Big Driver. It's an interesting listen, because the reader is very naturally charming. But the story is very dark.
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I am finding this to be a difficult read. Namely because Tess constantly makes decisions that seem unreasonable. They're not what... anyone... would do in that situation. But more than that, she makes conclusions that don't make sense. and then, her irrational hunches turn out to be spot on. It's like that Mel Gibson movie -- what if sometimes the crazy peopl are right?
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Tess is a difficult character to identify with. Mainly because of her very strange decision making process. But she is also difficult because she talks to things, and hears them answer. I have not read the ending yet, but I'm starting to wonder if all this is taking place in her head. She talks to Tom (a GPS) and her cat. And both talk back!
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Another difficult thing for this story is the believability of the "bad guys." Why would a Liberian feed her rapist / serial killer son fresh victims? And why would she choose a popular author? Don't serial killers usually choose people who are easily overlooked? Prostitutes, homeless people and so on.
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I didn't understand the process by which Tess came to the conclusion that the Librarian was feeding her son victims (other than her giving Tess directions).
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Every story has to deal with the: "Why not just go to the police?" I just saw that on a TCM documentary. The idea here is that Tess will not go to the police because she doesn't want her reputation to be tarnished. So instead... she opts for a very nasty revenge.
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Am I the only one scratching my head here? I love King's writing, and plotting. . . but sometimes I'm left a little confused. How did we get here? How was that conclusion drawn?

Maine Writers Database

Maine Government News has an article titled, "Maine State Library Introduces the Maine Writers Database."
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reads in full as follows:
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December 3, 2010
Maine State Library
Dean Corner
Director, Reader and Information Services207-287-5604
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The Maine State Library is pleased to introduce a searchable database of over 500 Main writers who lived from the 18th century to the present. Most people know that Stephen King and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow are Maine writers. Both were born in Maine and both were educated in Maine. Their works, from Under the Dome to Evangeline take place in Maine.
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What else defines a Maine writer? Who should be counted? “We spread our net as widely as possible” reports Peggy O’Kane, Coordinator of Reference and Research. “The State Library has always collected the books of authors who live in Maine or who have strong connections to the state.”
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Information on writers can be searched by browsing an A to Z list, by keyword, genre, or time period or a combination. “This is still a work in progress and people are invited to submit names of writers we’ve missed or to provide corrections to the information we’ve listed.”
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http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=Portal+News&id=159900&v=article-2008

Under The Dome nominated Black Quill Award


DARK GENRE NOVEL OF THE YEAR:
(Novel-length work of horror, suspense, or thriller from a mainstream publisher; awarded to the author)
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A Dark Matter by Peter Straub (Doubleday)
Kraken by China MiƩville (Del Rey)
Sparrow Rock by Nate Kenyon (Leisure / Bad Moon Books)
The Caretaker of Lorne Field by David Zeltserman (Overlook Hardcover)
The Passage by Justin Cronin (Ballantine)
Under The Dome (Stephen King)
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By the way, it's nice to see King and Cronin's work side by side. What I've read of The Passage was absolutely awesome!
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Portsmouth Book signing


As scheduled, King appeared Thursday at RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth to sign copies of Full Dark, No Stars. Seacoastonline.com says there were a few hundred fans who waited in line to meet King.
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Seacoastonline describes the atmostphere, saying: "Access to King was tightly controlled, with employees at the front door and down a side alley directing those who bought a copy of the book and signed up in advance into the store. It made for an efficient, quick-moving line, and store owner Tom Holbrook said staff members checked the names of attendees against their list. That left plenty of gawkers by the storefront window who were attracted by the lines before spotting King."
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King did the signing at the RiverRun Bookstore to show his support for "independent" bookstores.
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King Gives American Vampire BITE

San Francisco Chronicle has posted an article by Associated Press writer, Matt Moore. The article is titled "Stephen King helps give 'American Vampire' bite."
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Moore writes, "unlike the wave of pop culture vampires in recent years - grounded, lovelorn, conflicted - Sweet is shiftless, selfish, utterly without redemption and pure evil.
King wouldn't have it any other way. Sweet, he said in an interview, is the "anti-'Twilight' vampire, the anti-Edward," a "dissolute Kurt Cobain" with a mean streak a mile wide and a sweet tooth for hard candy to match."

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Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/12/02/DDBL1GFRTJ.DTL#ixzz172dNEMWF

Haven Foundation: 2010 auction


This is from the Haven Foundation:
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Looking for something unique for the holidays? How about an original signed piece of art based on The Dark Tower?
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Now being auctioned through eBay's Mission Fish with proceeds to benefit The Haven Foundation is this signed original artwork by Maine artist Glenn Chadbourne. This pen and ink drawing is inspired by Stephen King's The Dark Tower saga. It has been professionally framed with conservation quality materials. The piece including frame measures 13-1/4" x 15-1/2".
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Chadbourne has also illustrated the limited editionsof Secretary of Dreams Volumes 1 and 2 and The Colorado Kid.
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The Haven Foundation:
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The Haven Foundation is a national, nonprofit organization making grants to freelance writers and artists experiencing career-threatening illness, accident, natural disaster or other emergency or personal catastrophe. http://www.thehavenfdn.org/
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Backstory: Carrie


I like AMC's "Backstory." Here are my notes on the 2005 "Carrie Backstory" episode.
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1. The documentary makes the point that Carrie is about revenge. I never thought about that! Of course, revenge is on my mind as I read Full Dark No Stars.

2. Budget: $1.8 million.

3. The auditions were held with George Lucas, who was casting for Star Wars.

4. Amy Irving's (Sue Snell) mother also played her screen mom.

5. Sissy Spacek had also worked as a set dresser on De Palma's 1974 horror film Phantom of the Paradise.

6. March 1, 1976 filming began.

7. The most anxiety was over the opening sequence because of the nudity in the locker room / shower.

8. To keep herself seeming an outcast, Spacek kept to herself and did not mingle a lot with the other "high spirited" cast. Interesting, they note how Spacek is the opposite in personality of Carrie.

9. Betty Buckley and Amy Irving car pooled together.

10. John Travolta was a rising star on Welcome Back Kotter.

11. Piper Laurie hadn't been on screen in 15 years! She was last seen in 1961's The Hustler. Spacek says that it was "fun" to do battle with Laurie!

13. The most difficult scene was the prom night.

14. The pigs blood Carrie is supposed to be covered in was Karo syrup with red vegetable die. When it dried, Spacek says it got sticky.

15. While they were filming, no decision had been made as to how the film should end.

16. Sissy Spacek insisted on not letting a stand in film the grave scene.

17. Carrie came to screens on November 17, 1976. Headlines include: "Carrie is Scary." "Carrie in 438 Houses Grosses $7,927,795."

18. Sissy Spacek got her first Oscar nomination as best actress, 1976. Piper Laurie also nominated for best supporting actress. It was the first time two women had gotten Oscar nominations for a horror film.
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Two Notable Quotes:
Screen writer Lawrence D. Cohen, "It was a Cinderella story with a vengeance. It was high school on acid."
Amy Irving, "We all wanted the job. We all wanted to play princess Lea."

December 8 Live Chat With King


Hey, this is pretty cool! From King's website:
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Stephen will be participating in a live UStream chat on December 8th at 7:00pm Est. See below for the latest details.
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A Conversation with Stephen King7:00 PM - 8:00 PM ETJoin bestselling author Stephen King in a live chat about his new book, FULL DARK, NO STARS. Tune in Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 - 7pm EST/4pm PST. RSVP to the event and join it live here: http://www.ustream.tv/simonandschuster

In Honor Of Cyber Monday



Happy Cyber Monday!
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It's no secret that Stephen King is generally a little hesitant when it comes to technology. So here's a few mentions of King's work that include technology either gone awry or just flat out used for evil.
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Cell
Trucks
The Mist
Firestarter
Maximum Overdrive
The Tommyknockers
Song Of Susannah
Wolves Of The Calla
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The Stand
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On a similar note, the book "The Science of Stephen King" looks interesting.
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By the way, if you haven't purchased Full Dark No Stars YET, then cyber Monday is a great day to get to it!
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. . . gotta go, my cell phone is ringing.

Stephen King Christmas ?


A question for all you constant readers: Can you think of christmas scenes in Stephen King books? At the moment, I can't think of much! Here's what I've got, though:
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Christine takes place largely during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Denny's dad has a hobby of building old fashioned toys and giving them away.
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That's it! So help me out here.

King Dickens


Here is an interesting (if not old) discussion board on the topic of Stephen King and Charles Dickens. As noted many times before, this is a subject I find fascinating! In particular, the discussion board is looking at how they are treated in film.
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King House Christmas Ornament


How would you feel to see your house hanging on the Christmas tree? Well, someone has made Stephen King's House a Christmas Ornament!
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Worth Point has this note with the item, "It was issued by Bryant's Gift Gallery (no longer in business) as a Bangor Centennial Commemorative ornament celebrating Bangor local historic landmarks, including 47 West Broadway, which is Stephen and Tabitha King's house. The ornament measures 3" tall and is laser-cut metal and is three-dimensional - the detail is just stunning! The bottom is marked 47 West Broadway Bangor, Maine 1854-1856."
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http://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/stephen-king-house-bangor-maine-christmas-ornament

King's Favorite 2010 Movies




Michael Lee at examiner.com has an article on King's favorite films of the year. Lee writes, "although some of his choices may be questionable, it is certainly a fun thing to read."
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So here is the list:
10. Green Zone
9. Jackass 3D
8. Monsters
7. Splice
6. Kick-Ass
5. Takers
4. The Social Network
3. Inception
2. The Town
1. Let Me In
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Lee also notes, "Perhaps the most interesting choice, Takers, King had this to say, This satisfyingly complex cops-’n'-robbers movie features great performances … and the armored-car heist is the best action sequence I’ve seen this year. So there you have it, Stephen King’s top ten films of 2010. What are your top ten films of this year?
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Hey, I didn't see any of these movies! Which only means I didn't get out much this year. Of course, I'm going to the movies today to see tangled. That's what happens when you have little kids.
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More Nods From THE SIMPSONS

Stephen King and the Simpsons have a special relationship. The other night I was watching an episode in which Bart's girlfriend for the episode was reading a vampire romance novel. Of course, Bart had to explain that vamps are supposed to be scary. Wonder where he learned that, eh!
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Now I know some of you will say, "Get real, the writers of the Simpsons are not watching Stephen King that closely." Well, I would simply ask -- did you see last nights episode of the Simpsons? Did you? Did you? DID YOU?!
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The Fool Monty:
Episode 503
11/21/2010


So, I don't have the attention span to recap an entire ADHD Simpson's episode; but bottom line -- Mr. Burns loses his memory and the town tortures him in a variety of ways. When he gets his memory back, he decides to punish Springfield. His plan is sweet revenge, Stephen King style. Literally!
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Mr. Burns, "Taking an idea I got from a Stephen King book, I'm going to cover this town with a dome!" Burns holds up a copy of Under The Dome. Burns laughs -- Mahahahah. Trailing his helicopter is a fleet of government choppers towing a huge dome with birds nesting on the top.
Lenny, "It's been done."
Mr. Burns, "Really? You don't say." To Smithers, "Did you know about this?"
Smithers nods.
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I am not going to explain all the reasons this is funny; if you don't get it, just resign yourself to a lifetime of confusion as a cultural underling.

Keep Walking


Jonathan Comey at SouthCoastTODAY.com has a first person article abotu walking. His introduction is a lot of fun for Constant Readers. I'll quote the King portions and let you check out the whole article. It's worth the read.
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One of my favorite Stephen King pieces is "The Long Walk," one of his first, a near-future novella about a group of 100 boys who try to outlast each other in a walk from Maine to points unknown.
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The winner gets untold riches, the losers get shot. Like I said, it's a Stephen King thing.
What I liked best about the book was the way King described the feeling of walking — the sensations in your body, the feel of the outdoors, the intrusion of the elements, the inner monologue.
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I'm in the middle of my own version of a long walk, one that provides its own story arc every time I strap on my sub-elite sneakers and head out into my neighborhood to put one foot in front of the other.
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The story starts with me deciding that being 40 years old and overweight is not a good idea, and goes through a few notable twists and turns that are far from their conclusion. One of these plot sidebars is me, walking, every day now for two months, around my neighborhood.
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The Wordslinger: Full Dark Review


I was trolling over at Andy Williamson's website, The Wordslinger. He's got some great Stephen King posts, and had a review of Full Dark No Stars that I really liked. Hey, anyone who got hooked on Stephen King via The Stand and The Shining has got my ear -- because that's pretty close to the path I took. Notice his mention of King as our "modern day Dickens." Yes!
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The review is reprinted in full with permission below. Check out Williamson's new book, and his website.
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The Wordslinger gives Full Dark No Stars a hefty A-.
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The Wordslinger Review:

Hello boys and girls. It’s time for another book review, and today’s book is by our favorite boogeyman, Stephen King. So grab some marshmallows, pull up a log, hunker up here by the campfire, and let’s begin, shall we?
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While I do not claim to be Stephen King’s “number one fan” (such an oogy title can only place one in a cockadoodie category of lying old dirty birdies), I DO fully admit to being somewhat obsessed with the man’s voluminous (to put it mildly) oeuvre. This has basically been true since I was a teenager and read, back to back, The Shining and The Stand. Since then, I have pretty much read ALL the King I could get my hands on, quite often on the first day a new novel is released. His new book is no exception.


While King has referred to himself as “America’s schlockmeister,” he is infinitely more than that. With over 60 books published over the course of the last 36 years – bestsellers all – the man is a publishing phenomenon unto himself. Many readers understandably focus on the horrific themes in his stories rather than their humanity, but I would argue that said humanity is what makes his work so truly frightening. Such emotional involvement makes his tales infinitely scarier than they would be without it. He is, unquestionably, our modern-day Dickens.
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If King’s last book, Under the Dome, was a welcome return to the loooong form he honed with epic favorites like The Stand and IT, his latest, Full Dark, No Stars, is a return to the short form. These are not short stories – as previously collected in 1978’s Night Shift, 1985’s Skeleton Crew, 1993’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes, 2002’s Everything’s Eventual, and 2008's Just After Sunset. This collection of four novellas round out a trilogy which began with 1982’s Different Seasons (the collection that begat such film classics as The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me) and 1990’s Four Past Midnight. While this collection is not as good as the former, it is better than the latter. It is also the darkest work Uncle Stevie has published in awhile. Not quite as dark as if his alter ego Richard Bachman’s name was on the cover, but still quite black. And bleak. Hence the title.
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And yet, even these bloody (and bloody good) stories each have a moral center. In fact, the quartet of morality tales presented here plumb the depths of human psychology in ways heretofore … unplumbed. “I believe there is another man inside every man, a stranger …” King writes. “How many unsuspected selves could a person have, hiding deep inside?” That question forms the core of this collection, and asks that we as readers attempt to answer it. “What would I do in a similar circumstance?”
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The first story, 1922, tells of a farmer who not only murders his shrewish wife, but enlists the help of his son to do the dirty deed – the method may seem “dirt cheap,” but there is, of course, a high price to pay down the road. Even if it is just madness. And rats. Lots of rats. Yes, homage is being paid here to Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart and The Cask of Amontillado, but when the teller is this talented, one cannot help but be grippingly entertained.
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Big Driver concerns a female mystery writer who, while driving home from a book signing, is raped and left for dead. While that unsavory event does make one cringe, there is still humanity to the prose. We are not made to identify with the perpetrator, but rather the victim. When she, Tessa, recovers, she must decide whether or not to call the police, or take matters into her own hands. That she picks the latter is not surprising – this is, after all, written by America’s schlockmeister. Nor is it surprising that Tessa’s revenge is as carefully plotted as one of her mystery novels. What is surprising is the emotional resonance such a dark tale imbues. Then again, this is our favorite Uncle Stevie telling the tale. Maybe it’s not so surprising after all.
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The shortest story here, A Fair Extension, regards a dying man who makes a deal with the devil for more life. The catch is, he must pick someone else to be the recipient of his cancerous bad fortune – someone he hates. This story reads, of course, like a Twilight Zone episode penned by Richard Matheson (never a bad thing), but the ending is way too abrupt and left me wanting.
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The final tale, A Good Marriage, regards a woman who discovers that her loving husband of over a quarter century has been keeping secrets, dark secrets, very dark secrets – he may, in fact, be a serial killer. The tale also posits that perhaps it really is impossible to fully know another person, even a spouse, and how scary is that?
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King himself has been married to his wife Tabitha for almost 40 years – lest one think after reading these tales that he has it out for his own marital partner. In fact, he dedicates this book: For Tabby, Still.
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At 63 years of age, King probably has more books behind him than ahead. But if Full Dark, No Stars is any indication, the man still knows not only how to how to get under our skin, but to make us grateful for such an invasion. If only by making us confront our own inner stranger.
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Full Dark, No Stars may be unabashed pulp fiction, but it is also psychologically rich. It may at times be gruesome, but it is also emotionally rewarding. Then again, I’ve come to expect nothing less from Uncle Stevie.
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So, there it is, boys and girls. Time to head back to your cabins with your reading materials. You should each have a copy of Full Dark, No Stars, and a flashlight with which to read it under the covers – which is somehow apt. Just don’t let your counselors catch you. And if they do catch you, perhaps this book will give you some creative ideas on how to deal with such meddlesome creatures. MWHAHAHAHAHA!!
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http://www.thewordslinger.com/index.php
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BROODING by Andy Williamson
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Check out Andy Williamson's novel, Brooding. This looks like a healthy mix of all out horror and spiritual warfare. I'll tell ya what, nothing is scarier than demons!
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The website describes the book, "Nicholas Goodfellow is not the Devil, but he knows him."
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When the high-ranking, aristocratic demon first spies his new mission - a five-year-old orphan named Tyler Davis - he is insulted. But when he sees that his former friend General Valiant, one of Heaven's mightiest warriors, has been charged with the boy's keep, he knows that something is afoot.
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Tyler knows nothing of these spiritual beings. As the tenderhearted lad grows up under the twisted rule of his dictatorial grandmother - experiencing physical, emotional, and religious abuse - he runs away at the age of sixteen, collapses on the highway, and is adopted by a benevolent gang of Colorado bikers known as The Brood.
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Within this family, made up of wounded souls like himself, Tyler first begins to trust, falls in love, and learns some very effective ways of shutting out the past. But running from demons, psychological or otherwise, is a tricky business - sooner or later they must be faced. As Tyler does so, he becomes aware of the spiritual battle going on around him - a bloody war for his soul which will leave none of The Brood unchanged.
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This very human story is about forgiveness, redemption, letting go of the past, and how God can offer beauty for ashes to the most brokenhearted soul.
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It is a story for the walking wounded. It is a story for us all.