06 August 2009

My Apologies Unca' Stevie

I've been reading a long time. According to my mother, I began reading independently when I was around 3 and after that never wanted her (or anybody) to read to me again. I wanted to read it myself.

Fast forward seven or so years and, courtesy of my best friend and her older brother, I'd already read the Lord of The Rings trilogy (a couple of times). Fantasy and Sci-Fi ruled my reading life.

I was a member of the Science-Fiction Book Club (think Book-of-the-Month but only featuring sci-fi and fantasy). I read the biggies, the not-so-biggies and everything in between: Tolkien, Roger Zelazny, Terry Brooks, Piers Anthony, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffrey, Bradbury. I subscribed to "The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction" and thoroughly read each digest-sized issue; devouring everything cover to cover.

Horror is a sub-genre of sci-fi and fantasy, so it was somewhat natural for me to branch off into horror fiction. I can't remember when I first started reading Stephen King's novels and short stories. I must have been around 14 or so. But I know I've read and reread many of his works (Cujo, Christine and Night Shift stand out in my mind. But I've never been able to finish 'Salem's Lot. It's just too scary.). The bulk of my teen years my home life was a horror show so reading about a possessed car or a crazed dog was a nice escape.

Once I reached my 20's, though, I left off reading Mr. King. There was no specific reason I stopped. I just did. Maybe it was because he was a very popular writer (has been for well over 30 years now - there's a very good reason for that) and I was all about not reading "popular" fiction. I moved on to other writers (Neil Gaiman, in particular) and horror lost its luster for me after my dad died.

I haven't read any of Stephen King's work in well over 20 years.

Recently though I downloaded King's non-fiction work, On Writing, to my Kindle (one of the most awesome birthday gifts I've received). I had forgotten what a true master craftsman Stephen King is. Boy howdy, he knows his stuff. His writing is clear, simple yet still elegant, spot-on brilliant. That's what had hooked me as a kid: not so much the horror, but his style (that and I loved that the most mundane thing in the world could become completely terrifying). On Writing is an amazing how-to. I'm about half-way through and have highlighted several passages that I will use with my students this year. It's a must read for any one who enjoys writing.

Stephen King also writes regularly for "Entertainment Weekly" (one of the many mags I subscribe to). His writing is as clean and crisp as ever in his editorials, reinforcing his status as one of this country's most gifted writers. He's smart, honest, unmuddied. He's Unca' Stevie to his readers.

Including this one.

And Unca' Stevie? I'm sorry for not reading the Dark Tower books. Or Misery. Or The Stand. Or the myriad of other stories you've published over the past two decades. I'll make up for it. I promise.

05 August 2009


This is exactly the way Flynn's saying "sorry" these days, though she's not anywhere near as evil as Gilly, the amazing Kristen Wiig's SNL character.

I love my little girl.

03 August 2009

Lazy. Hazy. You Know The Rest

As Quigs, Loosey, and Harley so gently reminded me on Saturday, I haven't posted in quite a while. I've had ideas for posts floating around in my mind, then they'd get jumbled up with ideas for my upcoming classes and when I'd sit down to write I'd just get tired and/or frustrated and I'd just play a round of Bejeweled instead. I haven't really been even reading any blogs or leaving any comments. I've been AWOL.

Excuses, excuses.

So this is what I've been up to: teaching my son to ride a two-wheeled bike (took him a couple of hours to get the hang of it and we've been going for a lot of bike rides), spending time at the pool (when it's warm enough to go), putting together a professional wardrobe for myself (no easy feat), squeezing in a workout when I can, writing up a syllabus and reading list for my future students, general hausfrauery, AND planning and executing two birthday parties for my daughter, who recently turned 6.

Yes, two parties; one so she could get together with her school friends and one with family and family friends. You'd think that since Pokemon are still very popular there'd be Pokemon party stuff all over this town. Not so. I could not find one single iota of Pokemon merchandise (other than toys & playing cards). So I made my own invites, which after I'd totally MacGyvered a stack of invitations, friends who are scrapbookers said "Why didn't you call me? I have a circle cutter."

The parties went off without a hitch. Flynn is very happy to be six. She's starting to lose her babyness and when I look at her sometimes I'm momentarily breathless; she's growing up so fast, my baby girl, my second child. First grade looms ahead and she's excited.

I've also been settling into my 40th year and celebrated that simple fact last Sat. with friends and family. I hadn't had a birthday party in a decade, but after this last one I realized it's something I should do every year. Cupcakes from I Dream In Sugar were amazing; gorgeous to the eyes and on the tongue. Frank and my sister were responsible for all the planning (well, mostly Katy) and it was superb. But the best part was seeing friends I had not seen in a long time. One of my dearest friends from college drove over from Springfield and a few folks drove down from Chicagoland (one of whom is expecting twins in January). I just wish there would've been more time to talk with every one.

You know me and music. Of course I've been scouting out new tunes. Love Amazon's deal of the day for downloading mp3 files.

Ben Lee is one of my new favorites. "I Love Pop Music" is off his new album, The Rebirth of Venus. It's a fun, melodic poke in the side of popular music and those who make it.

I can't make any promises, but I will try to get back in the swing of things and write a little more often.