Has it really been nine days? Did y’all miss me? I really should be working tonight, I still have a ton of stuff to do, but I don’t feel like it, so to all of my various “Bosses” and you know who you are, I am taking the night off. The last few weeks have been rough and the nights that I am not working (which are not many), I have chosen not to be in front of a computer at all. I have even gotten to the point where I won’t even turn on the Xbox. Instead, in the time when my wife and children are asleep and I am not working, I have opted to catch up on some reading and movies.
I am almost done with Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub. When I am done with this book, I don’t have any ideas on what I want to read next. I am certainly open to any suggestions, my bookshelves are void of books that I haven’t read. I have a $200 gift card burning a hole in my wallet and I am really considering purchasing the bound editions of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Graphic novels.
I have strayed a little from my reading plan in the last eight months. My plan for the past seven or eight years has been to alternate between reading recent publications and classics. The reason I do this is so that I can catch up on the hundreds of classics that I have not yet read that I have always wanted to, but at the same time, try to keep current with new releases. The last few books I have read have all been recent publications and now I feel like I have to spend the next few months reading some classics achieve that balance again.
As for movies, I have seen some pretty good ones lately, good but disturbing. I recently watched The Machinist starring Christian Bale. This is a story about a man that has not slept in a year and his entire life deteriorates into paranoia and hallucinations. Christian Bale has proven himself several times playing men that have gone over the edge (American Psycho, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight), even his first big role as James Graham in The Empire of the Sun was about a boy pushed to the extreme while trying to survive Japanese occupation in World War II.
I have always been a sucker for movies and books that document someone’s decent into madness and The Machinist did not disappoint. I think I like them so much because I mentally note all of the tell-tale signs so that I can recognize them as they happen to me. Insomnia – check, talking to myself – check, copy of Catcher in the Rye - check, extreme weight loss – damn it, got to get a little crazier for that one.
Netflix finally fixed the streaming version of Dolan’s Cadillac so that the sound actually played with the video and I was able to watch that one night. This was a pretty good portrayal of the Stephen King short story of the same name. It starred Christian Slater as a crime boss that dealt in human trafficking and Wes Bentley, who I haven’t seen since his role as the crazy videographer kid in American Beauty. The movie fell way short of accurately depicting the illegal sex trafficking underworld. I don’t have experience or first hand knowledge of this, but after having seen Trade with Kevin Kline, Dolan’s Cadillac almost makes this subject seem like a laughable experience. (Note: Trade is an excellent movie, but it is gruesome and disturbing and I would not recommend it unless you are prepared for the subject matter. This isn’t a movie you walk away feeling good about.)
My wife and I got a chance to watch The Lovely Bones together a few weekends ago. We both enjoyed it, but I think the spirit world/heaven scenes detracted from the story. I felt like they went to a lot of expense to draw this afterlife world, but they really didn’t accomplish anything with it. This a story about the murder of a teenage girl, butterflies and rainbows and flowers are not what I was expecting.
On the flip side, the kids and I watched Where the Wild Things Are. I loved this book since I was in first grade, I vividly remember sitting Indian style (yes, it is Indian style, not criss-cross applesauce or cross legged or tailor fashion) in the library (they were libraries back then, not '”media centers”) of Lincoln Elementary School and watching the librarian read us the story in almost a whisper as she flipped through the pages. That story and those images made a big impression on me and looking back on it 28 years later, I realize now how much I could relate to Max and his overactive imagination.
When the movie started, I was expecting the warm and slightly scary story of my childhood, and didn’t expect it to be as dark and depressing as it was. I almost turned it off, thinking that it was a little too intense for the boys. But they seemed to enjoy it and I asked them several times throughout the movie if they were scared by it. They, of course, said no. But now that they have watched it, and have those towering, carnivorous monsters in the backs of their minds, I have a little more leverage when they are behaving poorly. I can always tell them I know where the wild things are and I can send them there. They might declare themselves king, but they might get eaten too.