Friday, May 25, 2012

A few things

I don't have TV, watch some Netflix over a Roku box (mostly British shows), and have never been a fan of the noise and glitz of American Idol.  Back when I did have TV, I sometimes watched the tryouts but I never had any interest for the actual competition segments, probably saw a half hour cumulative.  Not much.

Today I stumbled on some clips of the guy who won, who I instantly shrugged off as "Meh" and another guy we'll never hear from again, but also from the runner up, Jessica Sanchez.  First I watched her sing "I Will Always Love You" and then "(And I Am Telling You) I'm Not Going"--no, I'm not validating that title, but you know the song--and I had tears rolling down my cheeks.  From both songs.  And I'm too old to do that.  Holy crap.  She can sing too low and be kind of dull, but looking at more clips, she can take Adele to the mat and in a higher key she can rule the world if she wants to.  Man.

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I want to read Stephen King's latest, the time traveling book to the JFK assassination, but I'm scared.  I used to have a friend who was a big reader and he always said, "I don't read Stephen King."  All in all, not a bad attitude.  But I used to want to understand Stephen King, not only because of his enormous success, but because every now and then he'd crack off a "'Salem's Lot" or "Misery."  Apparently he can't quite remember writing those, and perhaps that's his secret.

But what I figured kills him most for me is something he seems to be frequently praised for: his use of common expressions.  His fans say they add great realism to his characters, especially the young ones.  I find them jarring and manipulative.  For instance, when we were kids and one of us would use the phrase "pinch a loaf," we'd all laugh and think it funny in a really stupid kind of way.  King takes these "I'm rubber and you're glue" idioms and has his characters use them seriously.  No, they're jokes, dude.  Unless, I don't know, maybe you've never heard them before.

In the sublime movie version of "The Shawshank Redemption," the audience groaned when I saw the "pinch a loaf" scene in the theater not once but twice.  Those things were never intended to be said by real characters as though they actually spoke those way.  It's like no one ever filled King in on the joke.

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On a curmudgeonly note, I just saw "Shutter Island" on Netflix.  Not a Dennis Lehane fan, read two of his books and they were flawed enough (meaning they had a few too many points that took me out of the stories) so that I wouldn't read him again, but I tried the movie because Charlie Stella makes fun of an island off the coast of New Hampshire called Star Island, a place he is entombed regularly as part of his MFA program.

Never been a DiCaprio fan, for many of the same reasons I'm not a Johnny Depp fan.  Unless you're playing Captain Jack Sparrow, stop with all the up and down facial twitches.  It's like "How to Overact Using Just Your Facial Muscles."  There's probably a joke in there about "scene chewing" but I'm not up to it.  In any case, in both actors I see flashes but many more of off-Broadway wait tables during the day obviousness in their performances.

Until this one, that is.  DiCaprio kicked butt and his twitchy face was more or less perfectly kept within character.  The movie was solid and entertaining but I was looking hard for the double twist at the end.  If you give me the twist in the last half hour, I want one more at the close to turn the denouement upside down.  Didn't happen, so it's a good but not more than that movie.

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