Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Under the Tome

Under the Dome
Stephen King

The entire town of Chester's Mill, Maine, is suddenly and inexplicably encased in an invisible, indestructible dome one bright, beautiful October day. Will the residents get out? Will life Under the Dome be bearable? How long will supplies hold out? 

The story, as with all King works, is good. Well-crafted, well-researched, with painstaking attention to detail and foreshadowing. Anyone who's ever read a King novel will know what to expect, and you won't be disappointed. The cast of thousands, the gory descriptions of accidents, the eternal play of good v. evil. Yadda yadda, you know what you're getting. 

But I found the ending if not completely unsatisfying (coughTheDarkTowercough) then very - light, for want of a better word. I slogged through over a thousand pages of iffy character development (The bad guy is fat!) and rolling plot to get to a scant 15 or 20 pages of resolution. It was pat; it was convenient; it had all the hallmarks of a King lampmonster. Honestly, I carried around five pounds of book for three weeks for that? Really?

Because my time could have been more poorly spent, Under the Dome gets 3 out of 5 bacon strips. Yes, it was good; yes, I was engaged. But I could have pulled something hefting this tome around, and I don't believe for a second he needed every single word he shoved into it. Maybe it's because I'm a different generation of novelist, but there were extraneous words. Many extraneous words. I also think King is falling back on stereotypes as he gets older - seriously, the bad guy being fat was written as an honest-to-God piece of characterization. And other bad guys were stupid. And one was bad because he had a brain tumor. The good guy was in the Army, and had a secret. The good woman was a reporter who said things that definitely didn't sound Republican (because all Republicans are...what? Ignorant racists?). I guess I just like my people to be people, not walking collections of stereotypes, tropes, and tics.  

I think I'll stick to rereading the classics from now on. There's nothing like a little Tommyknockers or Carrie to make a King fan - and nothing like Cell or Under the Dome to unmake one. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two New Subies: A Story of Colorado

Two shiny new Subaru Outbacks rolled off the assembly line and onto a lot in the Denver Metro area. They sat patiently, waiting for the perfect owners to find them. The kind of owners who would plaster them with "Coexist" and "Obama '12" bumper stickers; the kind who would drive not a whit over 35 mph and would eventually convert them to bio-diesel or hybrid fuel. Oh, for the day when that would happen! How marvelous life would be!

But as is so often the case in life, their dreams came only sort of true. They were bought by the right sort of people (a grey-ponytailed professor of Keynesian economics and a working mom who made her kids only organic food and never visited McDonald's). They were plastered with the right sort of stickers ("Support Public Education!" "Feed The Poor!" "Coexist"). They went to the right sort of places (Democratic political rallies; global warming seminars; Ann Coulter eggings).

Of course, there were always those days when SuperMom was in kind of a hurry, and would push her poor little Subie to ridiculous, mind-numbing speeds of 45 MPH - or higher! And sometimes, Grey Ponytail would be angry about what those Bush-loving, Limbaugh-listening wingnuts were trying to do to the country, and he'd yell at other motorists, occasionally even blowing the horn!

The Subies bore this unbecoming, un-Coloradan behavior with grace. What else were they to do? Yes, of course it was dangerous to go so fast. Dangerous to be so angry. But they were only cars: they couldn't force their owners to be anything they weren't. If they thought about it, all the organic grocery stores and farmers' markets and rallies really made up for it.

Until that day, that fateful, horrible day, when SuperMom was in a hurry, and Grey Ponytail was angry, and they found themselves on the same road at the same time, hurtling toward disaster.

Grey Ponytail listened to Air America and smacked his steering wheel and ranted about tax cuts as the sun slanted in through his passenger-side windows. He was on his way to the Aurora arts district on this fine, lovely morning, planning to swing by the Fox theatre and buy his season tickets. Very important to support the arts, you know. He observed the de facto speed limit, and kept himself even a little under. No one needed to go faster than 30 MPH, really. Everyone should leave enough time to get where they needed to go at that speed, and if they didn't, they should suffer the consequences of being late.

SuperMom was late to drop of kid 1 at daycare, and kid 2 at the public school across town - you know, the better public school. Thank God Colorado was an open-enrollment state: she might have had to pay for private school! Sure, she could afford it - why else would she work? - but then she wouldn't be able to tell everyone how committed to state-funded schooling she was. Her friends wouldn't approve.

She sped along, easily outmaneuvering the other traffic, until she hit Havana north of First Avenue. The street was down to two lanes in each direction. In front of her, a low-rider doing 32. To her right, another Outback doing 30. She didn't want to anger the low-rider - who needs to get shot at 8 in the morning? But she couldn't quite get around the other Subie, either. She waited, getting as close to the low-rider bumper as she dared, until she could cut off the other Outback, and then made the lane change.

10 seconds...20...30! Yes! She was in the clear, she'd made the change! Just another couple of feet over the line, and -


Grey Ponytail had taken this moment to speed up to 32, not wanting to allow a gap in the traffic pack. That wasn't the Colorado way. He slammed into SuperMom's bumper.

And that was how both little Subies - put upon, maltreated, abused - ended up on the back of a tow truck I saw the other day.

Or at least, that's how it happened in my mind.

Friday, October 1, 2010

You've Got To Be Shitting Me

This is ridiculous.

Let's go through it again, shall we? Food has no moral value. Food is not a drug. Food is not addictive. Food is food. Eat a hamburger, don't, but for fuck's sweet sake, shut up about what other people are eating.

The only way to eliminate fat kids is to - well, eliminate them. Last time somebody tried to eliminate a whole class of people, it didn't end up so well, did it?