Just read (and watched): 'The Shining' by Stephen King

Just read (and watched): 'The Shining' by Stephen King

Continuing my crawl through Stephen King's works, I've just read The Shining, and semi-accidentally watched Stanley Kubrick's film based on it for the first time as well. Knowing it is widely considered to be one of King's most popular books, and knowing there was a classic film accompaniment, this is one of the novels that I was most excited to read during the early parts of my foray into King's bibliography. 

The Shining (1977) is Stephen King's third novel (following Carrie and 'Salem's Lot, both of which I read in 2016), and it seems pretty agreed-upon that it's scarier than either of those first two books. One of the reasons I wanted to start reading King is that I had never really been scared in a horror or terror type of way while reading a book before; there were tense or psychologically thrilling moments in plenty of books I'd read in the past, of course, but I was pretty interested to see how scared I could get while turning pages. Turns out, you can get decently scared if the writing's done right.

King builds a base level of innate tension and fear in The Shining via early character development and narrative descriptions of The Overlook Hotel, which serves as the story's primary setting and a character in itself. The novel focuses on the Torrance family: parents Jack and Wendy and their gifted son, Danny. Jack has a recent alcoholic past, though he's currently sober, and he was fired from his teaching job at a Vermont prep school after he assaulted a student there. Jack's alcoholism makes for a poor cocktail with his short temper -- we get harrowing accounts of how he accidentally broke his son's arm while drunk, when Danny was only a toddler, and of his assault on a high school student who he'd caught slashing his tires in the school parking lot after a fair amount of shared animosity between the two. Jack is described as "seeing red" in these moments, and it seems plausible that his temper could snap with enough build-up, even if alcohol weren't involved.

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Year-end 2017 stuff: 'Baby Driver,' 'Baywatch' and fun at the dang movies

Year-end 2017 stuff: 'Baby Driver,' 'Baywatch' and fun at the dang movies

Gaining an Alamo Drafthouse in downtown Brooklyn made going to the movies a lot more enjoyable this year. I've always liked going to the movies, but the Alamo won me over instantly for a few reasons:

  • The screen looks better and the sound is louder and more impressive than at most of the Regal / AMC locations that are conveniently located in the parts of the city I frequent.
  • Seats as comfortable or more comfortable than even the fancy new recliner chairs at a lot of those other franchises -- the Alamo seats don't recline but are generally comfy leather chairs.
  • There's beer there and the service system is great, with really nice waiters and waitresses.
  • Most importantly, I think the Alamo is the quietest theater I've ever been to -- they tell you not to talk or text, threaten to kick you out if you do, and it actually works. The end result is less groups of teenagers and more singles / couples / small groups who want to see their movie without a bunch of noise. We went to see The Last Jedi at a non-Alamo location and the entire movie was loud as heck with people talking, clapping, etc. The Alamo really spoiled us to the point where I didn't think clapping as A Thing people did anymore.

So since that Alamo Drafthouse opened, I've only seen like two showings of any movies at other theaters. It's been great. 

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Mike Mitchell's 'Star Wars' portraits turned into background images

Mike Mitchell's 'Star Wars' portraits turned into background images

I haven't posted in a while -- been a little busy with some wedding planning and some work things. But since last week was May 4 and all of my social media feeds were ablaze with Star Wars appreciation, I took some time to turn a few of my favorite Mike Mitchell portraits into backgrounds on my desktop. Which, side note: All of the Mitchell portraits are amazing and while you may be currently kicking yourself for missing all of them and not having $300 to blow on eBay right now, rest assured they'll (probably) make more. Sign up for the Mondo newsletter if you want to find out when they're released.

Anyway, that Instagram post got enough likes, and enough people asked about the backgrounds, that I decided to turn the rest of Mitchell's portraits into desktop backgrounds as well. Then I made backgrounds sized for iPhone 7 screens and iPhone 7 Plus screens to boot. Here are all of those for download.

I will note that I'm not the best at Photoshop, and I didn't dedicate too much time to any single one of these. If you notice anything odd, feel free to let me know and I'll update the image in Dropbox.

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My 'Star Wars' Funko POP! Collection

My 'Star Wars' Funko POP! Collection

Soon after watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December, I got the semi-nostalgic itch to buy toys of my new favorite characters. I had action figures from the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy when I was young, and I had a desire to find some cool collectibles of Rey, Finn, Poe, BB-8 and Kylo Ren at the very least. 

It didn't take too much searching to decide that Funko's POP! bobbleheads were the coolest Star Wars toys on the market, for my money. These POP! collectibles are super popular and I already had a couple of them, so I immediately went ahead and bought the aforementioned characters as well as Captain Phasma, Chewie, and some retailer-specific exclusives of Rey and Finn. I was luckily to get in on the first wave of availability for these characters; not too long after the movie came out in theaters, it became really difficult to find Rey anywhere. 

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Movie rec: 'Chef'

Movie rec: 'Chef'

Katie and I watched Chef over the weekend, and it was the most enjoyable film I've watched in a while. It's a feel-good story, doesn't take itself too seriously, pretty consistently funny, and there are many scenes devoted to watching people cook very delicious-looking food. You will have three primary urges while watching it: You'll want to make a grilled cheese, and when you make it it'll disappoint you, then you'll want to book a plane ticket to New Orleans, then you'll want to go outside and find a place that serves Cuban sandwiches.

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The Incomparable's 'Star Wars' Saga

The Incomparable's 'Star Wars' Saga

Over the past several weeks, I've managed to sneak in listens to old episodes of The Incomparable amongst my regular podcast listening. There's been a reason for my foray into significantly old episodes (two of these date back more than four years) -- Snell & Co. have done a two-part episode for every single Star Wars film to date. They've been a wonderful listen as I continue to await my first showing of The Force Awakens

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