9/11 The Things They Left Behind

Stephen King's short story, "The Things They Left Behind", recounts a young man who escapes the terror attacks on September 11.  He is plagued by survivor's guilt.  Things come to a head when objects that once belonged to people in the towers begin to appear in his apartment!  Creepy?  Indeed.  But also wonderful.

9/11, Our Choices, and Making a Stand

I really enjoyed Julie Davis' insightful article at Patheos titled "9/11, Our Choices, and Making a Stand."  She graciously gave me permission to repost it here.  Note her insights on The Stand and faith. 

9/11, Our Choices, and Making a Stand
by Julie Davis

Two days after 9/11, my father-in-law had a massive stroke. My husband and I drove from Dallas to the hospital in Houston. Largely in shock between the double burden of terrorist attacks and personal tragedy, we were nevertheless stirred with pride at the many flags and hand-made signs we saw along the road. Tears sprang to my eyes when we passed a battered pick-up truck complete with obligatory shotgun rack and "We are all New Yorkers today" written on the rear window.

My husband said, "Those terrorists don't know what they have done. This guy would've spit on a New Yorker last week. And now he'd fight for them."

We were lucky. We didn't know anyone, then, who had died or been in the attacks. But we still suffered with the rest of the nation. It changed us as a people and as individuals.

It taught me a big lesson in forgiveness; as I expressed my forceful wish to see the people behind this attack "killed," a gentle friend from our parish looked at me with a troubled face. "I don't know," she said slowly. "But that doesn't seem right either."

I was taken aback and began to pray, even as I expressed anger. Gradually, the anger faded and the ability to forgive crept in.

Ten years later, I mourn the 9/11 attacks as much as ever. Easy tears still spring to my eyes when I look over the old pictures, video footage, and exchange "what I was doing when I heard" stories with others.

I also think about the opportunity that we had to go forward as a people united—to bring something good out of the evil. We are more divided than ever, and ruder than ever. We squabble and complain about the red states, the blue states, the liberals, the conservatives, the Muslims, the Catholics, and on and on it goes.

Some of this is basic human nature, as old as the stories in Genesis, of brother striking brother. It seems to me, though, that some of it is Evil pushing its way into the world, and we are failing to push back for the common good. We listen to the siren call of "my way," which goes hand in hand with pride.
As always, when it comes to thinking things through, I find that others have pondered the matter so much more thoroughly than I could. Recently I picked up one of my favorite "good versus evil" books and found the words defining my thoughts.

It is said that the two great human sins are pride and hate. Are they? I elect to think of them as the two great virtues. To give away pride and hate is to say you will change for the good of the world. To vent them is more noble; that is to say the world must change for the good of you. I am on a great adventure. (Harold Emery Lauder, in Stephen King's The Stand)
Twenty-three years before 9/11, Stephen King published one of his best-known and best-loved books, The Stand. It tells a tale of the United States, laid to waste when a biological weapons-grade virus inadvertently gets loose. As survivors roam the post-apocalyptic ruins, they begin to have dreams about an incredibly old holy woman, named Mother Abigail, or of a supernatural entity—Randall Flagg—who is her opponent.

Following their dreams, two communities begin to form—Mother Abigail's in Boulder and Flagg's in Las Vegas—and the stage is set for a final "stand" between Evil and God.

King has expressed frustration that so many fans call The Stand their favorite work, even though he has written scores of books since its publication.

Well, it's a heck of a book for one thing, so it's no wonder people love it. And although this is a horror novel, it is very translatable to our own lives. We no longer worry about bio-terrorism the way we did back then, but we can still relate to the scenario King paints.

In The Stand, King holds up the mirror to us. God and evil are present, of course, but they work through men, as ever, and we recognize ourselves in the pages.

Harold Emery Lauder was the quintessential misunderstood nerd, picked on in school, crossed in love, and finding power in hatred. His note could have been written by any of the terrorists who flew those planes into the World Trade Center. I imagine that, like Harold, their betrayal of innocents was the culmination of a long trail of choosing their own desires first. King shows us enough of Harold's choices—sometimes made despite the screaming of his own instincts—so that we can see a little of him in every selfish choice we make.

Harold's end is not a good one, and it is made pitiful by the fact that he is tossed aside like a worn out doll when evil is done using him for its own purposes. We cannot hold onto our anger at him because he has been misled so completely. In a similar way, when I think of those terrorists and their deliberate evil, I have a bit of that pity for them as well.

Once they were somebody's babies. I don't know what led them astray, but I lament the loss of the people they could have been.

King directly juxtaposes a rock star, Larry Underwood, against Harold.
"You ain't no nice guy!" she cried at him as he went into the living room. "I only went with you because I thought you were a nice guy" . . . A memory circuit clicked open and he heard Wayne Stuckey saying, There's something in you that's like biting on tinfoil. ~ The Stand
After the plague, Larry is haunted by those words, "you ain't no nice guy"—they jump to mind whenever he contemplates a selfish or cowardly act. Ultimately, he actually becomes a "nice guy" by consistently choosing the nobler act, if only to prove those words wrong.

Larry is no different than you or me, or anyone who can see themselves with a modicum of self awareness. None of us are "nice guys" deep down because we are all stained with Original Sin. And we know it.

We have help, though, that Stephen King didn't give Larry Underwood. We have the grace of Christ, the sacrament of reconciliation, and our faith to strengthen us. Like Larry, though, we have to keep picking ourselves up and trying again. We must practice until we are more perfectly "nice guys."

9/11 has presented us with a chance to practice forgiveness over and over again. We're all in this together and lifting our thoughts (or hands) in hatred belittles us and our targets. We are Christ’s followers, charged to see Him in everyone they meet. We all have the same choice. Do we embrace Harold's way, or Larry's?
There's always a choice. That's God's way, always will be. Your will is still free. Do as you will. There's no set of leg-irons on you. But . . . this is what God wants of you. ~ Mother Abigail, The Stand

Julie Davis blogs at Happy Catholic and discusses both books and movies at A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast. Her new book is Happy Catholic, published by Servant Publishing.

VIDEO: The National Medal Of Arts Awarded To Stephen King

President Obama awarded Stephen King the National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony today.  

news.mpbn.net cites president Obama saying, "Without them there would be no edible schoolyard, no ... really scary things like 'Carrie' and 'Misery.

The article also stated:
The official citation, read by the president's military aide, cited King as one of the most popular authors of our time and praised his work, saying he has both delighted and terrified audiences around the world. 
Which is pretty close to the White House statement:
"Stephen King for his contributions as an author. One of the most popular and prolific writers of our time, Mr. King combines his remarkable storytelling with his sharp analysis of human nature. For decades, his works of horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy have terrified and delighted audiences around the world."

Stephen King Jeopardy Round


I enjoyed Sandra Harris' review of the 2013 Carrie.  She kindly allowed me to repost her review here.  Check out Sandra's blog, it's full of some great movie reviews.

reposted with permission:  


This is the reworking of Brian De Palma’s classic 1976 film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, CARRIE. The book was Stephen King’s first major success and some people still regard it as one of his best works, along with THE SHINING, PET SEMATARY, SALEM’S LOT, IT, MISERY and CHRISTINE.

Sissy Spacek was unforgettable and perfectly cast in the original film as the lonely, socially awkward Carrie White, whose single mom Margaret is a religious fanatic with violent tendencies and mental problems that have clearly gone untreated for some time.

While Sissy Spacek is a hard act to follow, newcomer to the role Chloë Grace Moretz certainly gives it her best shot. She’s a beautiful young woman with a fabulous head of strawberry blonde hair and I actually think she does a good enough job in the remake, which seems to be a straightforward take-for-take reimagining of the original movie.

Julianne Moore plays Mommie Dearest this time around. As I’m a big fan of hers, I actually prefer her to Piper Laurie. It’s nothing personal, I just love Julianne Moore, that’s all. She’s gorgeous and I loved her in such films as HANNIBAL, THE END OF THE AFFAIR and JURASSIC PARK 2- THE LOST WORLD.

She really works the role of the self-harming Margaret White. It’s horrible to watch her banging her head off the wall, hitting herself in the face and stabbing herself in the leg with scissors. The two leads also really look like mother and daughter, which certainly helps.

What I don’t like about the remake is the fact that it’s inevitably set in a much more modern and technologically-advanced world than the one in which Stephen King initially wrote it, but that’s not the film’s fault. It’s now the era of boring old cellphones, so the remake is full of the bloody things.

The famous scene in which an hysterical Carrie gets her first period in the school showers after gym class is actually filmed by the little bitches in her class on their cellphones and uploaded to the Internet. They all think that Carrie’s ignorance of what’s happening to her body is a big hilarious joke and they can’t wait to share that joke with the rest of the world.

They don’t know, of course, that they’re sealing their ultimate, terrible fate with every act of nastiness they commit against the telekinetic Carrie, who has the power to move people and objects with the force of her mind. Her powers have been considerably ramped up for this remake. Books and knives and all sorts of households objects spend half the film flying around the place.

Carrie can fly now too, a little bit, and she has the ability to fling her crazy mom through the air and slam her into the wall or into the dreaded ‘prayer-closet,’ the one with all the Jesus statues and pictures, etc. Carrie’s extra powers are accompanied by a lot of arm-waving, finger-pointing and mad facial expressions as little Chloë hams it up big-time in an effort to do the job well. She ends up looking a bit like Kate Bush in one of her early videos, but she still gets the job done, I think.

The ‘bucket of pig’s blood at the prom’ scene lacks a little of the sheer power (there’s that word again!) of the same scene in the first movie, and I prefer the original Tommy Ross and Billy Nolan to the chinless wonders (sorry, guys!) playing the parts this time around. The teacher, Miss Desjardins, is maybe slightly less effective than the teacher in the first film and, overall, I think I prefer the film when it’s set in the ‘Seventies. It has a grittier, more authentic feel to it, somehow.

Still, if a remake was unavoidable and seemingly it was, haha, I think that this is a perfectly decent effort. It does everything the first film does, just with a different cast and a more contemporary feel. Of course there’s a loss of atmosphere and it’s not as frightening, but I’m happy with the two female leads and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them take on these two iconic roles. I don’t know what more you can ask for, really.

* * * * * * * * * *


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.

Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.

She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man.

reposted from: 

SYFY Contest -- GAME ON!

Let's have some fun!

We all know Haven is a quirky place to live.  I'm not even sure I'd want to visit!  Season 5 has just come out on DVD -- and guess what, I have two prize copies ready to send to you; maybe.

Now for the contest:
David Letterman style, send me your top five (or you can do 10) reasons you would -- or wouldn't -- want to live in Haven.

email me your list at: davidattalkstephenking@yahoo.com

CONTEST: September 7-16
PRIZE: Copy of Haven Season 5
RULES: Email davidattallkstephenking@yahoo.com a list of at least five reasons you would or would not want to live in heaven.

In the town of Haven, ME, residents are cursed with superhuman afflictions known as "The Troubles." Audrey Parker and her friends try to help the "Troubled" while uncovering deeper mysteries.

 In Season Five our heroes struggle to keep the towns secrets under wraps becomes even more difficult when Haven is visited by a whip smart CDC doctor, who comes to believe that there may be an underlying genetic marker to the troubles, and possibly a cure. But there may be more to her agenda in Haven than first meets the eye.

How Uncle Huey Got Religion

I just released my first novel, How Uncle Huey Got Religion.

OH!  This isn't very Stephen Kingish.  Gripe if you want.  Really love griping.  Yes!  You should!  Someone should post, "What's this have to do with Stephen King?"  It makes my day when we get to complain.

Someone contacted me in early August to ask where I had gone.  Was Talk Stephen King still on my radar?  Yep.  Where I went -- I was finishing my  novel and then doing the intense back and forth with the editor.

Some personal notes about Huey:

I've been writing How Uncle Huey Got Religion since I was in college.  I think I've written the book at least 3-4 times, start to finish.  And it changed a lot.  When I started writing this time, I knew it had the flow I wanted.  And, I certainly knew where I was driving the thing.

I'm actually a pretty fast writer.  I have a box full of novels I've written.  So why Huey?  It seems this was the story I felt I needed to tell, even when it was more difficult for me.  Huey was a tough nut because it's historical fiction.  Writing about life in North Carolina, 1938 was more challenging than writing up a horror story set in. . . hell.

By the way, yes I did write a story about a guy racing through hell, diving down bottomless pits and avoiding pits of fire.  But, my wife convinced me to stick with Huey.  I think she was concerned that I would arrive on judgment day and God would hold up my book on hell and go, "Not funny."  I told her I would write under another name.  She just gave me this look -- stick with Huey.  I'm glad I did.

I'm much more drawn to dark stories.  The story about the house that burns down -- and then is back the next day, but burned and blackened.  The story about the ordinary guy who wakes up strapped in the electric chair.  . . . my loved ones think I'm messed up.  I think some of us are helped by exploring the darkness, following through on an idea.

So Huey was not an easy thing for me to write.  I stuck with it, and decided to go ahead and put down money to have it edited.  And that was an issue.  I was not thrilled with the number of mistakes I found in previous self published books.  I was paying an editor real money, and the work came back nice and clean.  But friends would point out big mistakes.  I felt like I was caught going to school in my undies.

A good friend of mine, a man who helped me go through college, read one of my books.  He would send me corrections by email.  When he learned I was writing Huey, he let me know he was ready to help.  Turns out, editing was his job.  (I didn't know that.)  Here's what I learned: The editing process is very intense.  I thought writing was hard and editing fun.  That's true.  But editing is also tough stuff.  You have to argue and discuss and think through all kinds of things.

I wrote Mr. Editor one day, "Does the novel work?"
"Does it work?" tough Mr. Editor asked.
"You know, the engine that drives this thing.  The story itself.  Does it work?"
"I don't know.  I'm looking at spelling right now."
A week later.  "Hey, I read the whole thing over.  To answer your question, yes, it works."
Sweat swept from my brow.

How people talk:
I had a lot of fun writing dialogue -- mostly.  I would watch movies from the thirties, just to get an idea of words they used.  I youtubed 1930s North Carolina, to hear people from that era.  Also to note how they dressed.

What was difficult: racism.  Race plays an important role in the book as Huey's church defies some cultural norms of the day.

Stephen King advises a writer to play it straight, even if its costly.  yeah, your mom is gonna read it, but we have to stay true to the characters, King argues.  I think he's right, or his audience.  He can have cussing and racism and people accept that.  But i wasn't comfortable with that.  My own hangup?  Maybe.  Probably.  It meant I cleaned up some of what the KKK group in the book said.  I knew how they would really say it, but I wrote around that.

I asked a friend of mine from the region to give me every bad name for blacks he knew.  I only knew one, the N word.  Oh man!  He came back with a list and gave it to me in person.  I did use some of them, just to convey racism -- but by no means all.  As I stuffed his list into my pocket, my friend said, "Do me a favor, don't get hit by a car with all those words stuffed in your pocket.  They'll think you're some kind of right wing racist."  I pointed out it was his handwriting.

Stephen King rules I did not follow: I did not follow King's "door closed" and "door open" rule while writing.  I brought my wife along on the process.  In fact, a lot of people went with me on the journey, because there was so much to verify and learn.

Rule I did follow: I printed the whole thing up, tried to read as fast as I could, and cut about 30k words out of the story.

I am sure you are now aching to read by novel.  You've been waiting for that link.  Go ahead, buy lots, I've got four girls to send to college.  (and buy my Stpehen King book while you're at it.)

14.95 paperback
3.99 Kindle
0.00 Kindle Unlimited.

Wes Craven 1939 - 2015

This is reposted with permission from one of my favorite blogs, The Girl Who Loves Horror (Thanks Michele!)

The loss of the great Wes Craven has been a terrible blow to the horror community. I know there are dozens of posts like this out there right now, and I know that we have lost so many great people recently, but this has truly saddened me and hurt my heart. Last night I was actually in a really good mood, watching a funny DVD, and enjoying the last few hours of my weekend. Then I absently checked my Facebook feed and was hit with the awful news. I thought it wasn't real at first, but it was: an icon was gone, and the life and career of my favorite horror director was no more.

It was a shock to say the least, because Wes Craven has always been an important part of my horror life. I came to horror a bit later in life than other fans - though I had always watched them as a child - and Scream was an important part of that. Then I saw more of Wes's films and realized just how much I loved not only the things this man has created but the man himself. I didn't talk about him enough when he was around, and I won't make that mistake now.

Wes was a kind, soft-spoken soul with a wonderful sense of humor and an aura of sweetness that you couldn't help but be attracted to. It was hard for me to equate the gentle man I saw behind the scenes with the dark things that came out of his mind on film. But at the same time, that's what I always loved about him. He wasn't afraid to bring real horror to film, and be gritty and raw about it. He also wasn't afraid to have fun with the genre and with himself, and he constantly did new and different things. Even then, you could tell when you were watching a Wes Craven film, as he had a distinct style and voice that I always enjoyed. He was beyond smart, analytical and creative, and his films were about so much more than what was on the surface.

Perhaps it seems weird to people outside the community that we are so affected by this, crying over somebody that we never met. As soon as I got home today, I put on my favorite Wes film, Wes Craven's New Nightmare, and as soon as Wes himself showed up on screen, the tears started coming. Reading all the messages that people have left on various platforms proves just how much he touched the lives of fans with his work and what an influence he has had on so many people around the world. We all experienced his career separately, but at the same time together, having the same feelings and gaining the same reverence each time we enjoyed another one of his films.

Thank you, Wes, for being the man that you were, and for bringing all those amazing characters, stories, and worlds to life. We will never forget you and we will never let your legacy die.

Thanks for the nightmares.

How Scary is IT?