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The idea behind this blog is to share my opinions about Post-Apocalyptic Literature, Films and Ephemera as well as my random nattering on a regular basis.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Road in Review (+ birthday fun)

I turned 37 November 28th. I think most of my family knows about (and understands) my love of all things apocalyptic. My gift list was as follows (and also would work as a Christmas List):

levi's 34/32

Movie tickets


The Terminator (Special Edition)
Terminator 2 - Judgment Day (Extreme DVD)
Terminator 3 - Rise of the Machines (2-Disc Widescreen Edition)


Another Place to Die by Sam North
Bar None by Tim Lebbon
Chronicles of the Apocalypse: Species (Chronicles of the Apocalypse) (Chronicles of the Apocalypse) Michael McBride
One by Conrad Williams
The Afterblight Chronicles: Operation Motherland Scott Andrews
Hunger by Michael Grant
Malice by Chris Wooding

I think most would agree that most of those things are PA in nature. I got the jeans, the book by Tim Lebbon, the third book in the second Emberverse Series 'The Sword of the Lady' and my bother in law Matt my homebrewin' partner got me a gift certificate to Steinbart's ahhh more 2 Row for me. Also I had been putting the hard sell on my wife Millie. The film adaptation of The Road came out on November 25th. I was so excited. Then came the news that it would only be shown in 31 cities nationwide.

I wasn't too worried. It had been filmed in Oregon so I was pretty sure that chances were fairly high that one of the 31 would be Portland. So good news/bad news. The Road was definitely going to be in Portland is of course the good news. The bad news is that I am extremely bad at navigating cities of any size at all. My upper limit seems to be Salem. More bad news: my birthday always falls at Thanksgiving time (I'm a Valentines Baby ... do the math) so that weekend is always set aside for family gathering so it took more than the normal amount of wheedling to get her to drive me.

She is indeed one of a kind. As soon as I asked her if she would like to go see The Road with me (bunch of 'hint, hint' and eyebrow waggling thrown in for good measure) the first thing she asked me was 'Is this one of those movies where everyone dies?' The most amazing thing is that when I told her 'Why yes, yes it is, but don't worry the director decided not to include the baby cannibalism scene after all' she still agreed to take me. Sweet lady huh?

The movie was of course playing in only one theater but it was at least close by. I, thinking it would be popular because I'm a bit self-centered and think everyone should like the things I like, went onto fandango sure that if I didn't purchase tickets way in advance I'd be assed out. So I ended up going to the 12:15 showing. The plan being that we could go to Todai and have their lunch buffet.

Also wanting to beat the hordes of people who would want to see the show we showed up about a half hour early. We had the glory of being the first people in the theater so had our choice of any seat. We chose the top row right in the middle (done of course so we don't get kicked in the back by mouth breathers). Then we proceeded to watch the place fill up and the show sell out. I bet more people would have been able to see it but the show was in a tiny shoebox theater.

The book was bleak and grey. That is the best description of it. The world was grey. It also seems to be told in a series of anecdotes that are loosely connected. The story has parts that happen in the present, parts in the distant past as well as parts that are in the recent past. It is hard to tell what is what. The movie was the exact same way. If anything the movie is more bleak and more grey than the book. It also had the same sort of disjointed feeling of the book too. As the movie progressed further the whole world contracts until it's just the father, the boy, and the road.

It ran for 112 minutes. The description of 'a father, a son and the road' may seem a bit boring to some. It was fantastic. The best review came from my wife as we were leaving 'huh, that wasn't nearly as boring as I thought it would be. It didn't seem like it was almost 2 hours long.' That is a close second to the large biker type sitting next to me. 'I rather enjoyed the ending. A great upbeat holiday film (hints of sarcasm on that last bit).'

Two parts were better in the movie than they were in the book. The first, the scene with the coke can was great. The man finds the can in a mostly destroyed building and gives it to the boy. He opens it and takes a sip. 'It's fizzy' he says. (Chuckles from the audience). The boy was great in this scene. It completely looked like he had never drank from a can and this was the first time. Great scene and more emotional than the book, for me anyhow. The second was at the end. In the book it didn't seem as ominous as did in the movie. I knew how it ended and everything but it still had me guessing.

The movie reminded me of The Bicycle Thief. This movie as well is about the relationship of a boy and his father and about how he would do nearly anything to keep his son healthy and feed. Ultimately The Bicycle Thief ends on a pretty down note. The man doesn't get his bike back and since it's a 'No Bike, No Work' deal he ends up with no job. It's not too much of a stretch then to say 'No Work, No Food'. Even the movie poster looks similar. Also a big thank you to Gavin, looks like that 'Form and Meaning in Film' class paid off again.

There were some pretty fantastic parts of the movie that were only fantastic because it was filmed in Oregon and because of the mix of people in the theater. The movie is about the journey of a man and his son to the beach. I hope that doesn't spoil anything, it's in the previews and all. Anyhow at the end of the journey they make it to a pretty prominent Oregon Coast landmark the wreck of The Peter Iredale. Pretty sweet to see it and have it fit in so nicely. It's in Ft. Steven's Sate Park.

I also saw pretty good shot of the Broadway Bridge. Great to see a city I'm familiar with all done up PA.

The last nifty thing was only nifty if you happened to be in the 12:15 showing on November 28th. The theater asks over and over to turn your cell phones off and not to text. There is always some jackhole who leaves it on and it rings. That's what happened. But it was awesome! It rang at the part where the father and the boy are sleeping in a car and the father hears a noise and wakes him up. If you were in the theater you were greeted with the ringing phone and the father jerking awake and angrily waving the gun around. So funny. I asked my wife about it and she almost thought it was part of the movie ... but wait it's been many years since the end of the world and no way are there still-working cell phones. Hilarious. I would normally be pissed off but I just couldn't be. So great.

Since the movie started at 12:15 and Todai closed for lunch 3:00, we thought we would have plenty of time to get our glut on. The movie was nearly two hours long and when we got to the restaurant it was 25 minutes until closing. So we still strapped the ol' feedbag on but we had to eat fast.

That as well is a good recommendation. We had no idea how long the movie was until we got to the restaurant and they were closing in 25 minutes. The movie would have been worth missing lunch. Also Todai gives you a free meal on your birthday so what the hell right?

Finally this random musing on a random message board about the looming release of The Road:

'The book is brilliant and I could definitely see Mortensen as the father, as long as they keep it bleak. No action hero nonsense or cutey kid stuff.' Don't worry Random Message Board Poster, the movie is exactly what you want it to be.

** UPDATE: My lovely wife read this posting and gave a bit of crap about spelling, repeated words, and run ons. I think I fixed most of them. Sheesh .... **

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dark Advent at the Half-way point

Dark Advent has a cover that belongs on a totally different book. What book that is I don't know for sure. Perhaps one that is a great deal cheesier, but I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is my second run through the book and so far Dark Advent is much closer to the story line of The Stand then Swan Song is. I'm about a quarter finished and the grade school children wading in the cave of demonic lava has yet to materialize. I'm still holding out hope for the red faced demon on the front however. A couple characters are contenders.

I scanned the inside so others might revel in the glory, but the in-law's dial- up is not doing it. I had always suspected it and now I'm sure: dial-up does indeed suck. I'll post it a bit later. It is quite the sight to behold.

This book is very close to The Stand. I loved The Stand and as I mentioned before I lost count of the number of times I have read it. But I cannot be the only person who wonders what Flagg was doing all the time. I know I always wondered what sort of evil shenanigans he was up to. Him and all his friends. The answer lays within the covers of Dark Advent. A school kid revenge by dragging. Random rape and murder is what they would've been up to if Mr. King hadn't pulled the punch. A Flagg-centric version of The Stand would be pretty sweet, Dark Advent will have to do for now though. I hope even greater horrors are awaiting me. I read it so long ago I don't remember what exactly is in store.

*update* Here's the inside cover. Brian Hodge credits it with higher book sales. I bet he's right.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

... and then on to Dark Advent

Finished The Stand yesterday at my sub-job. Being a substitute teacher may be a soul killing job but at least if I choose wisely I can spend the day with my nose in a book and be paid $153 a day to do it. I feel that's a pretty fair trade off. And let me tell you yesterday was quite the day. The first four periods of the day I was supposed to have the lil' bastards read chapter 7 and 8 from Night by Elie Wiesel. Since the kids were reading for the first four periods then I could too. I had indeed chosen wisely. And as it happened the first class was rather fun. The kids were a bit chatty but for the most part they just read the book. I had to shush them a couple times but no biggy. Towards the end one of the class one of the students remarked 'This must be the worst class you've had, huh?' I looked at him for a second and it dawns on me. He is being serious. 'No', I tell him 'This is far from the worst class ever.' He asks me to tell the story. I think about it for a minute and then say 'If you guys keep reading silently (so I can continue to read) I will tell you the tale of my worst day ever, the last five minutes of class.'

They all settled in to read. And I regaled them with the fine anecdote of a profoundly bad day. Seventh grade science. Dissection. Sheep eyeballs. A class who hadn't done many dissections. A recipe for disaster? Yes, quite. Started off ok. Then the resident dillhole decides to make fake puking noises. This makes some of the seventh grade girls actually throw up. Gets worse. The same dillhole decides for no reason and completely unprompted that it would be a fantastic idea to LICK one of the years-old-formaldehyde-soaked eyeballs. It turned out poorly for him and the rest of the class when he began projectile vomiting. Now that, friends and neighbors is what you'd call a truly horrific day.

But yesterday was an altogether ok sort of day. The only tiny wrinkle was the third class. They decided Night was a very boring book. (I read it in the eighth grade, it is anything but dull. Stayed with me forever is what it did.) They also wanted to just talk the whole class. They also though I wouldn't do anything. Three randomly assigned detentions later they got the point. After that it was guerrilla warfare. Many kids in the class clearly had read the book Frindle by Andrew Clements. That is another very good book. So is the prank they pull on the teacher. Nicholas Allen reads about the blackbird and how when it chirps it is impossible to tell where it came from. (Doppler Effect I bet). It's true too. It not only works with bird chirps but with loud tongue clicks. So for the last twenty minutes of class I was subjected to loud peeps and clicks and I couldn't be sure who did them. Not the worst thing that can happen. But still annoying. (and also a bit funny).

But the important thing here is that during my tour of hell I was able to finish The Stand and then started Dark Advent by Brian Hodge. I am still only 30 pages into Advent more than 24 hours because well, I spent a good portion of my day punishing my liver.

So a bit about The Stand. I won't talk much about it because I intend (HA) to post about all three books at the same time. This time through I was waiting for the massive trip to Vegas and then the trip back. I remember it being looooong. It was my second favorite portion of the book (the best part is the beginning the filth and chaos). This time it just seemed short. It still has to be the longest dénouement of any book I've read ever. But this time I was able to read it in the time between telling mouth breathers to shut up and read.

Other thing I thought about. Who was the main character? As my college professor friend Gavin Keulks told me in English 101. 'To find the main character ask yourself who changes'. So if I understand it correctly Harold Emery Louder and Larry Underwood share the title. Larry changes from being a real asshole to being an ok guy. Harold Louder changes from being a douche to being an ok guy to being a total asshole. In other words Harold and Larry change places. Just the way I see it.

A side note here. This commitment to read The Stand, Dark Advent and Swan Song is KILLING me. Under the Dome is out. Hard to wait. I guess UTD will wait. Also Advent is great even 30 pages in. Maybe this time the red skinned demon and the flaming grade school children will appear in the book. Or perhaps the cover has nothing to do with the book whatsoever.

More updates as events warrant.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Stand at the half way point ...

I don't even remember how many times I've read this book. It is and remains my very favorite book about the apocalypse. I am at the point however where the book gets a bit less interesting for me. I enjoy the whole 'society breaking down' bit but I find that I liked it best when all the people were by their onesome (Mother Abigail). The book seems to bog down a bit when they begin to get together. I'm at that point now. In my mind I see like the scene from T2 when the T-1000 gets frozen in liquid nitrogen then is shot. The pieces all separate and are far apart. I am at the point in The Stand where all little chunks clump up. The book is still fantastic, I just like it more when they are wandering and scavenging. Also since I've been through the book countless times I know good parts are coming up. They wander and scavenge on the way to Vegas and on the way back too. So I remember that it's worth it. Reading it with 36 year old eyes has been a richer experience then the 20 year old eyes that read it last time.

This trip through the book I've been reading a bit more carefully than I have ever done (I tweeted The Stand for a bit but got bored). I have found WAY more errors than the glaring one I wrote about long ago. It's been more than a year and Mr. King has yet to respond to the open letter. I won't hold my breath. More updates as events warrant.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Hopkins Manuscript by R. C. Sherriff

I finished The Manuscript some time ago. I enjoyed it. It is on of those books that has sat for a bit on 'The Bookshelves of Doom.' With this book however I am not too terribly unhappy at myself for not getting to it sooner. This book was definitely a 'literature' type book. In other words a book for more high brow reading. Still a good book even accounting for all its highfalutin words an' such.

I will try not to spoil anything for those who may want to read it sometime. The basic premise of the book is that the moon is somehow or other getting closer and closer to the Earth and will hit. The reason for the alteration of the moon's orbit is never given so once again I think the crafty 'Alien Space Bats' have been at work. They seem to appear in a lot of sci-fi books.

So the moon hits the earth. I understand that this book is both a satire and also pre-space flight but c'mon! If the moon hits the earth it will do plenty of damage. I'm nearly certain the moon is not mostly hollow and if it was where did all the metal come from?!?

All of that is not the most disturbing part though. I was amazed at how in the face of this global cataclysm the wealthy still treated the poor like garbage. 'Well everyone is dead .. tut tut. By jiggies look a survivor. Oh wait he's a gardener. Let's all not even talk to him.'

All that aside, I did enjoy this book a bunch. I did however enjoy Moonfall by Jack McDevitt better as well as Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Now don't get me wrong here. I did enjoy the Manuscript, it had that special charm only old books can pull off. I simply think the basic plot has been pulled off a bit better in other works.