Borrowed Words…

library_pataskala_026On a whim, I joined the library last week. Or, perhaps more accurately, I rejoined the library.

A long time ago I was banned from the library. I had my card stripped and my picture was put up in all the local branches, advising the librarians that I was not to be allowed within ten feet of a book. I’m not sure when the ban was lifted, but the council lost about two decades worth of my business.

The library is a strange place, and sadly somewhat of an anachronism in 2019. People don’t read anymore – certainly not the way that they used to. Okay, they still read in the same way, but… well, you know what I mean. It’s just not cool these days. Everyone has a laptop or a phone or a tablet to steal their attention, and even if they do feel the itch to read, those tools will scratch that itch too.

But now I can go back to the way it was meant to be – reading old, coffee-stained, dog-eared paperbacks, with pages folded down and notes written in the margins.

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Night Shift #1 – Jerusalem’s Lot…

619i-4slsfl645695221..jpgWord count – 12,900

Jerusalem’s Lot is the fairly lengthy short story that kicks off Stephen King’s first collection of short stories, Night Shift, and I’ll say it right now – it’s not one of his best.

It’s designed as a prequel to his second novel, ‘Salem’s Lot, which I barely remember reading all those years ago, but as such this piece suffers because I can’t help but feel as though I’m not getting the whole story here. It’s like going to a restaurant, having a starter, and then walking out before the main course arrives.

Having said that, if ‘Salem’s Lot was written in the same manner as this (and it isn’t), I’d probably not want the entire meal anyway, because Jerusalem’s Lot is told in an epistolary format (as a series of letters). This certainly can be interesting and suspenseful if done correctly and in the right hands, and if King had more experience under his belt when he wrote it, this would have been a lot better, but as it is, this story drags, making you feel every word written on the page.

If you’re coming to this collection looking for King’s strengths, you best dig a little deeper into the book, because you won’t find it here.

Not Recommended ⇓

 

12 Years in the Making…

Recently I got my first speeding ticket. Ever. I was doing forty in a thirty, so we’re not talking Fast and Furious levels of acceleration here, but still: rules are rules. It was my fault – no excuses – I’m just disappointed I got one after so long on the right side of the law.

I was caught on a road that I travel along fairly regularly, and I know where all the cameras are. I must have been distracted. So my momentary lack of concentration has cost me £100 and three points on my licence.

Hopefully traffic violations are not like buses, otherwise I’ll expect another in pretty short order.

Fatal Extraction, Part IV…

So, with the socket from the first extraction healed over nicely (well, as nicely as a hole in your mouth can heal) I went back to the surgery for my hygienist appointment a few weeks later.

The girl with the tools started on the top row as she said they were the worst affected by plaque. I couldn’t disagree. Once she got started it took a while and it was quite painful, but I just let her do her thing and didn’t argue as it was entirely my fault I was in this position in the first place.

Now, it was my understanding that all my teeth would be cleaned in this thirty minute block set aside for me. After all, I had paid £55 for the privilege. It never crossed my mind that this valet service would take place over two sessions. I thought that telling me to make another appointment was just a wee bit on the cheeky side, but I wasn’t in any position to say otherwise.

So there I was a few days later, getting my bottom row of teeth cleaned, but another £55 lighter. Admittedly, at the end of it all, my teeth did look a hell of a lot better than they had going in, but this was beginning to feel like being held up at gunpoint.

But there was only one more step to go – the second and last extraction – and then I’d have the perfect smile they promised me.

It was a promise, right?

… to be concluded…

The Short(er) Works of Stephen King…

In an effort to write good short stories I’m going to look towards one of the masters, Stephen King – a guy who has written a fair number of them.

Over the coming months I will be reading and offering my opinion about every short story King has had published in the six collections that are out there: Night Shift (1978), Skeleton Crew (1985), Nightmares & Dreamscapes (1993), Everything’s Eventual (2002), Just After Sunset (2008), and The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2015).

That’s over 100 stories – some of which I have either forgotten since I came across them many years ago, or not read in the first place. I know not all of them will be good, but I’m sure every one will give me something to say.

… and hopefully I can get it done before he comes out with another anthology.

What I’ve Done This Week #33…

I have never really had a writing routine. It’s just not the kind of thing I have ever been able to pigeon-hole into a specific window. It’s a good idea, and certainly I’d like to be able to frame my writing in that manner – for consistency, if nothing else – but I have always taken a more adhoc approach to my words.

I think my early resolution for 2020 is to manufacture some time when I can actually sit down and do my stuff regularly, because at the moment I’m all over the place and nothing is really getting done. Definitely not as much as there should be.

When I do write, it’s often pretty good, but I’m just not happy with the volume of the output.

And that has to change.

Potted Film Review: Skyscraper (2018)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Hanskyscraper-poster-600x9502100222201.jpg

What’s it all about?
The Rock is Will, an FBI operative who loses his leg below the knee and has a prosthetic attachment for the remainder of the movie. A decade later and he is a security consultant for the world’s taest skyscraper, which is in Hong Kong.

A group of terrorists break in to the building and start a fire in order to take control of the situation, but as luck would have it, Will’s children are now stranded and it is up to him to save the day and take down the bad guys…

…which he does about an hour later courtesy of a lot of not-so-special effects, some awful stunt work, and one particularly ludicrous moment where my suspension of disbelief was taken beyond breaking point. Yes, you can see it in that poster.

Watching it with the kids…
Yeah, go on. This is family friendly entertainment… although I use that term loosely.

Verdict…
I went in to this one with high hopes. The Rock is a very charismatic performer, so at least it has him going for it, right? Well… no. This is very much in the mould of Die Hard, although I feel dirty even making that comparison because Skyscraper has none of the action, stunts, heart, soul, humour, or pathos of that classic. It’s a one-legged imitation.

It pains me to say so, but this is a poor Dwayne Johnson movie, and one I will never go back to.

Not Recommended