Author Archives: Brian G Ross

Night Shift #15 – I Know What You Need…

Word count – 8,200 words

For the most part, I Know What You Need plays like a very creepy stalker story – the kind of thing that is a lot more prevalent now than it was when this was written in the early 1970s.

This mostly works, but the tale loses a little of its flavour for me in the final act, when King decides to throw some pseudo-voodoo in there to make sense of the narrative. I get it, but it just feels like he put a bow on the story when there really was no need.

I would have preferred that the story dissolved without a firm resolution, but it’s a minor quibble in an otherwise very good short piece that sits along with the best in the anthology thus far.

Recommended

It’s Not Always About Race…

Earlier this week, Stephen King sent out the following tweet:

Diversity in entertainment – be it sexual, religious, racial, gender identity, or other – is a hot topic, and potentially a minefield of political correctness and sensitivities. It’s not really a ring I want to throw my hat into, but here goes anyway…

This King tweet wasn’t just a random admission to get a reaction. For context, King is on the judging committee for the Academy Awards, and has a voice in several categories. This is in response to there being only one nominee of colour for acting at the 2020 ceremony, to be hosted next month.

I don’t think King has anything to apologise for, but he has since walked back his tweet due to the resultant backlash he received. I thought it was fairly obvious what he was saying.

If I watch one hundred movies and pick the best ten performances from them, there’s a chance all of those actors will be white. Similarly, there’s a chance they will all be black. There’s also the chance that they will all worship the same God, or that they are all homosexual. Does it matter?

I don’t want to put words into King’s mouth, but as soon as I read his comment I knew he was talking about ability and skill, and that there was no underlying subtext about trying to keep ethnic minorities down. Frankly, I’m disappointed that he got so much heat about it.

All right, sure, the number of black actors and actresses getting (or even being offered) these roles is lower, so a great white role is quite simply easier to find. That’s not racist or discriminatory – it’s just a fact. I’m not a studio head offering actors these roles and similarly, I’m not taking them away either. I don’t think it’s fair for people operating under the rules of the game to be blamed for the sins of those running it.

In most cases, the person who gives the best audition should get the role, and there’s nothing else to be considered. I say most cases because obviously a movie about – for example – the 1936 Olympics, should not have Adolf Hitler played by a black guy any more than a white guy should be playing Jesse Owens.

But where colour is unimportant to the plot or the characters – and that is most things – the best actor should get the part.

Maybe that’s an oversimplification, and I really should be more cynical, but it’s also just common sense, right?

National Apricot Day…


Today is National Apricot Day, which is when the Americans (because who else really?) celebrate their collective love for the apricot, one of the most overlooked of fruits.

Full disclosure here – I have never eaten an apricot. I’ve had apricot purée, and the odd piece of dried apricot, but I’ve never consumed an entire fruit. And I’m sure I’m not alone.


Because let’s not pretend here – the apricot is probably a third or fourth tier fruit at best.

At the top of the tree you have the apple, the banana, and probably the orange. Just below that comes the pear, the grape, and the strawberry. Maybe you could throw raspberries in there too.

But after that you get into things like tangerines, plums, peaches, nectarines and melons… amongst others. Somewhere below that you’ll find the apricot, treading water with the kiwi fruit and the pineapple, and the reason it’s a bargain basement fruit is that nobody eats them. People will jump in the car just to pick up half a dozen Golden Delicious, but nobody is taking a trip to their local greengrocer because they forgot to put apricots on the weekly shopping list.
So, eat up, and enjoy!

Night Shift #14 – Quitters Inc…

619i-4slsfl645695221..jpgWord count – 6,600 words

Quitters Inc tells the familiar tale of one man’s desire to stop smoking, and the lengths he goes to in order to do just that. On the recommendation of a friend he speaks to a very shady man who promises he can ensure he never smokes again, although his methods are a little… questionable, to say the least.

There is a campy quality here which is a little reminiscent in execution to The Ledge, from earlier in the anthology, which is certainly not a bad thing, although this has not been afforded quite the same level of skill and care.

Quitters Inc has a good story at its core, and although it is not as polished as some of the other entries in Night Shift there is enough good stuff in here to be counted as one of the better entries in the collection.

Recommended ⇑

Running Like God…

…well after eight hours and far too much coffee for a comfortable sleep, I split last night’s poker tournament three ways for a very healthy profit.

Admittedly, I got my fair share of luck along the way, but that’s the nature of the beast. I’ll debate anyone who tries to deny the skill that is clearly involved in the game, and required to progress, but I’ll never dispute that you need a bit of good fortune too.

Anyway, work tomorrow, so that may be my casino adventures for 2020!

When the Chips Are Down…

I used to play a lot of poker, and I do mean a lot. Back in 2015 and 2016 I played cash poker every weekend, almost without fail, and most of the other nights I’d be sitting playing a tournament. This went on for many months.

I was pretty good too, relatively speaking. I made money most weeks, and when the end of the year rolled around I was up by thousands of pounds.

I’m not saying it to boast – I very much doubt I could have maintained it as a career path – but more to compare and contrast it to right now. I’m off work tomorrow so I decided to take the opportunity and play a tournament.

It’s my first time for a long while behind the baize, and I’m probably doing all right… considering. I’ve reached the first break, so that’s something. But these are shark-infested waters, and I feel like they are hungry and I have forgotten how to swim.

What I’ve Done This Week #52…

Well, I promised three short stories by Christmas Day but only managed to deliver one by the end of the year. I finished Last Chance Lagoon just in time to close out the year on a high note.

I think it was always going to be the one I finished first, but at 1400 words it’s a little longer than I had originally expected. It’s good – I like it – and I did enjoy presenting it to my captive audience, who seemed quite taken by being the star of the show.

This is my final post of the year, but I have big ideas for 2020. There are many things I want to accomplish in the next twelve months and beyond, and I’m going to get on them right away.

Happy New Year, folks!