Monthly Archives: September 2013

All Bad Things Must Come to an End…

I suppose I would be remiss if I didn’t write at least something about the end of “Breaking Bad” last night. I had tried to watch the opening episode when it first aired, and just couldn’t get into it. A man running around the desert in his tighty whities? Come on. A couple years later, at the urging of friends and other folks online whose opinions I respect, I tried again. Once I got through that first episode, I was hooked, and from there I stripped the rest of the series, watching the final two seasons as they aired.

The show ended last night, and mighty props go to creator Vince Gilligan and his staff of writers for molding an ending that was precise and complete in tying up loose ends and completing the story begun five seasons ago. Justice is served in an anti-hero kinda way, good and evil balanced, and in a way, the good guys win and the bad guys pay. Brilliance.

Comparatively, it doesn’t let the viewers decide as “The Sopranos” did, and it didn’t do what “Dexter” did much to the sour reprisal of fans. It’s ironic that when “Dexter” ended last week, it was almost at the same point as “Breaking Bad” was last week. Maybe “Dexter” just needed one more episode? In my opinion however, if that last scene with Dexter alive had been cut, that ending would have pleased me. Dexter alive ruins the symmetry. And getting back on subject, symmetry is what “Breaking Bad” was all about.

I was really pleased with the ending. If you want to hear more about the show, my friend and podcast partner Ray Cornwall did a pre-finale episode about “Breaking Bad” last week. You can hear it here.

French Fry Diary 524: Keg & Kitchen

The Writer’s Chatroom Presents C. Hope Clark

C. Hope Clark is founder of FundsforWriters, a well-known writer’s reference for grants, contests, markets, publishers and agents for the serious writer. The website and newsletters have existed for fourteen years, and been recognized by Writer’s Digest Magazine in its 101 Best Websites for Writers for thirteen of those years. 42,000 writers receive her newsletters each week.

She’s published in Writer’s Digest, Writer’s Market, Guide to Literary Agents, The Writer, as well as multiple trades, glossy mags and numerous Chicken Soup books. She’s been interviewed often by both writing and business websites, and speaks to writing conferences throughout the United States. Her book, The Shy Writer: An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success, continues to sell steadily.

She is also author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series. Lowcountry Bribe is the first in the series published by Bell Bridge Books. The mysteries describe federally employed Carolina Slade’s sleuthing abilities throughout rural, rarely seen South Carolina settings, facing crimes not found in your typical mystery. Her follow-up, Tidewater Murder, is now available too, and absolutely rocks. The third book in the series will be released in 2014.

Read more about Hope and Carolina Slade at here website.

I will be interviewing Hope and moderating the chat, as I have for over a decade now, tomorrow night (September 29, 2013) at 7 PM EST. Just go to The Writer’s Chatroom and click on “Enter Chatroom,” no password is needed. Hope to see you all tonight night!

French Fry Diary 523: Burger King Satisfries

Planes

Planes ~ I was hesitant to jump back into the ‘World of Cars,’ because of the revelation I made while watching Cars 2, you know, that the ‘World of Cars’ is actually occurring in the aftermath of Stephen King’s short story “Trucks.” I know, scared the crap outta me too. But The Bride wanted to see it, so I went along.

This one is similar to Cars 2, in that it’s about racing, and in this case, planes. Dusty Clodhopper – voiced by Dane Cook, who is much less annoying when all you hear is scripted and you don’t have to see him – is a small town cropduster who wants to be a racing plane in the big leagues and enters a race around the world. Underdog makes good, that kind of thing.

We have seen this before. Good voice cast, lots of clichés with fresh takes, and jokes for the kids and the adults, Planes is a good hour and a half of harmless entertainment. There’s nothing really new, nothing to make us go wow, or how did they do that? A good Pixar flick, originally made for direct-to-DVD, so to do so well in theaters, it must have something. Enjoyable.

French Fry Diary 522: The British Chip Shop 2013

The Great Gatsby 2013

The Great Gatsby ~ Every time I think of this Baz Luhrman flick, I can’t help thinking about the “Entourage” fictional version Gatsby. Maybe if I keep thinking that, I can also manifest another fake movie from the show, Aquaman, ’cause that one I really want to see.

At first, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to see this new version of Gatsby. I remember vaguely reading it as a teenager, and then being made to read it in college. I remember watching a TV version as an ABC movie of the week back in the seventies and being bored to tears.

The Great Gatsby is a lot of tell vs. show, along with subtext and metaphor that if you don’t get, your English teacher or professor will have a seizure. It’s also full of unlikable characters. It serves its purpose, like say Catcher in the Rye, don’t get me wrong, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Then there’s the problem of the director. Baz Luhrman, for me, is a creator of extremes. I think his Romeo + Juliet is a work of brilliance, yet his critically acclaimed Moulin Rouge! revels in the mud of my bottom five. I hated it. And because of it, I approach any further Luhrman work with contempt, derision, and caution. The Great Gatsby, seemingly in a similar vein to those two previously mentioned films, is definitely no exception.

I did not hate this version of Gatsby, but I didn’t love it either. It falls somewhere around my impression of the 1970s one, less than impressed, and bored. The leads are strong and perfect had this been in hands of any other director. Luhrman resorts to camera tricks, fast motion, modern music, and even 3-D trickery, and all any of it does is sour and dilute the classic story. Don’t waste your time, unless you’re a fan or morbidly curious.

Random Tater Pic of the Day #115

Re-Reading The Shining

I am reading “The Shining” again for the first time in thirty-five, thirty-six years. Amazing how far author Stephen King has come, and so odd to see simple wording and point of view errors he would never make today. It is also something to marvel to read a simpler King, but also what may be a more sinister King.

Back in 1977, I started reading the big hardcover version of “The Shining” first, which my mom had borrowed from my book enabling big sister. It seemed like a historical romance from that cover, almost giving off a “Dallas,” “Dynasty” or sweeping John Michener vibe. There was the big hotel on the front (and back) cover looking almost similar to Tara from Gone with the Wind, painted images of the man, the woman, and the child, and the hedge animals. My sister needed her copy back, so then I bought the paperback at the local grocery store. That was a gray book with a blank boy’s face on it, and that’s the copy I still have today.

I remember plowing through it rather quickly, on the front porch swing during the days, and in bed before sleep, which defiantly came. This was King’s third book, chronologically at least, and I’m pretty sure I knew he was something special even then, that he was subversively teaching me writing skills and techniques. All that and he was a joy to read.

And what attracted me most of all, was that he wrote about writers. There’s the interviewer in “Carrie,” Ben Mears in “‘Salem’s Lot,” and now Jack Torrence. I could relate, and now I was hooked for a lifetime. Both my own and King’s, as writers would continue as protagonists and even antagonists for dozens of novels to follow, notably the nebulously aligned Harold Lauder in my favorite King novel, “The Stand.”

The young Stephen King plays fast and loose with perspective and point of view I’ve noticed. As an editor (and yes, I know how presumptuous this is), there are more than a few things I would have corrected in the book regarding POV. Let’s just say, he did get better. Much better, or at least as good as one of the best selling novelists of our era can be.

Young Danny’s perspective and understanding of things is a puzzle of complexity. Does he know and understand because of his psychic abilities? Or does he for the sake of storytelling? King walks a very fine line here, most times opting for the latter, and weaving a tighter more terrifying tale for the reader.

There is one difference I noticed in my Nook copy of “The Shining” however. The word REDRUM written in a graphic in my original paperback copy of the book, but not in my Nook copy. It was missed. Back in the day, tricks like that, raised and/or cut out covers, or the multiplying flies above chapters in “The Amityville Horror,” made books in the late 1970s a little bit more special.

There is also the matter of Jack Torrence’s alcoholism. At the time “The Shining” was released the public was unaware of King’s own struggles with old devil drink. This fact in retrospect lends a frightening realism to what was already horrific in the book. We knew King was a teacher, spent time in Colorado, but now, we can’t help but wonder… was he abusive as well? Dare I ask – did he harm his wife and family? Just how autobiographical is “The Shining”?

King has always made the distinction with Stanley Kubrick ‘s film version, that he had written a book about a haunted house, but the director made a movie about domestic violence. What if he protest-eth too much? What if King insisted on that because Kubrick hit too close to home? My intent is not to make accusations, mind you, but to report the extra dimension facts about the author’s life bring to the work. It certainly made some of it uncomfortable to read.

The sequel to “The Shining” has been a rumor that has floated around for years. It became just a little bit more real when Kung finally gave it a name, “Doctor Sleep.” When he wrote it and announced a release date, then things got hot. “Doctor Sleep” is scheduled for release today, and there’s also a preview at the end of my Nook copy of “The Shining” as well.

French Fry Diary 521: The New New Burger King French Fries