Archive for the ‘books’ Category

A Song Of Ice and Fire and Television

Never underestimate the power of television: It’s amazing to see the sales and popularity of the A Song Of Ice and Fire books shoot up to the stratosphere following the HBO excellent adaptation of Game Of Thrones, the first book in the series, leaving all long-time fans in a “told you so!” mode. I wonder if the new readers are genre fans or just book fans. It seems to me ASOIAF has broken through the genre stereotype and has become so mainstream it’s a little annoying. It causes my geeky snobbishness to emerge (“Oh, NOW you like fantasy!).

But it’s just me being snarky. I’m hardly a long-time fan myself. I only started reading the series a few years ago following constant recommendations. Just to put things is perspective, Game Of Thrones was published waaay back in 1996. But once I started, I never looked back. These books are immensely compelling, and hard-core fantasy elements like spells and magical creatures – the elements that make the genre seem silly in the eyes of most readers (and often justifiably so) – are very minor and subtle here. They seem to be a a part of the ancient history of the world rather than its present, which actually make them even more awesome and “magical”.

I remember going through the same process with Watchmen, the groundbreaking Graphic novel by Alan Moore. I read it years ago, and was well-aware of its high-status in the world of comic book fandom. But only when the movie came out a couple of years ago did you start seeing people reading Watchmen on the subway in such quantities you’d think you’re in Tokyo and not in Toronto.

I cannot say I’m not happy to see other people getting exposed to the books I love, people who would probably never have read them otherwise. I see old women reading Game Of Thrones, for crying out loud. Usually you would see them holding a Daniel Steele book or somethin’. But no, they read Game Of Thrones, with all the sex and brutal violence. I would be honest, I’d say it makes you feel a little less special about yourself, but also a little less geeky. Now, says the Ego, you have to go and find other obscure book to love and cherish to help you feel special! until, that is, they make a movie or a TV show out of it too. The supremacy feelings that make your inner geek all warm and fuzzy inside were apparent as book readers watched in cruel joy as watchers of the TV series, new to the world of ASOIAF, were shocked again and again by the twists in the plot.

But enough with all the labels (although it’s fun. If we lived in a world where everybody likes everything else that everybody likes, how boring would that be?)

So A Song of Ice and Fire went mainstream. It was considered a high point in the genre for years, but if you didn’t read SF and/or Fantasy, you probably weren’t aware of that. To be honest, it makes sense ASOIAF has been “liberated” by TV. The books may not be great literature (how many books are?), but they’re certainly great entertainment. Martin is an accomplished screenwriter as well, and his chapters in ASOIAF read like TV episodes. Short and sweet, full of twists and turns, and usually ending with a cliffhangers. The very definition of a page-turner which usually applies to thrillers and not 1000 pages long fantasy novels… It’s a very easy read on the one hand, but also very demanding – trying to keep up with all the names of people and places, but it’s well worth it.

Book 5 is out today after a looong wait. Welcome to Westeros, everybody.

Free Your Mind

Recently I came across a very interesting and profound book called The Power Of Now. It was written by a man named Ekhart Tolle and its basic premise lies in its straight-to-the-point title. If we seek peace, we must live in the present.

Many of the ideas I’ll be throwing out here are derived from this book, (which is highly recommended – the author, unlike other spiritual teachers, had an intense personal experience that is the beginning of a journey which led to this book), but also from my own experiences. One important thing to note is that I am far from mastering what I am about to describe – years of egoic pre-conditioning and mind chatter are hard to dissolve in a day – but just being aware of the possibility is a big step in the right direction.

I had my own personal wake-up call in the winter of 2008. Long story short, I had anxiety attacks. Scary stuff. After a few trips to the ER I was referred to a neurologist. She performed a neurological examination, then proceeded to pick up the phone and register me – without even asking, thank god – to something called the Mindfullness Stress Reduction Program.

In this program I first became aware of the basic concept of Mindfullness, which is just another word to describe the act of “being in the moment”. It can be done through formal meditation, but also during ordinary activities such as taking a shower, walking, listening to music, swimming, washing the dishes. Anything really. As long as your mind is not busy with constant thoughts, with mental noise, you’re doing it right. When we are busy with constant thoughts, we usually think about past and future. Past memories are fine, but the dysfunction sets in when we replay events from the past and find ourselves in it, identifying with it, letting it inform our present, usually in a negative way. We create a pre-conditioning which inhibits us and prevents us from tapping into the power of the present moment – from experiencing it fully and seeing it clearly for what it is. As far as future goes, we usually fantasize/worry about it. This is also irrelevant to the present moment, and creates anxiety.
A healthy use of past and future is when it is done for practical purposes: If we need to be somewhere tomorrow morning, we might need to think about setting the alarm clock. Or, let’s say a week ago we forgot to set the clock, so we might think about the past in practical terms: “A week ago I forgot to set the clock. I better not forget this time”.

One way to visualize this is to imagine a large room in our heads. Now, this room is pretty cluttered. There’s junk everywhere. Old stuff, from the past. Let’s call them “Old Magaiznes”. And then there’s those still empty, “plastic receptacles”, that for our purpose will represent the future. Other than those, there are the “pain-bodies”. Negative emotions stored in our bodies and in our psyche. Emotions we failed to face in the Now, i.e, in real time, and ever since then we’ve been harboring them inside, letting them fester. Let’s say the “pain-bodies” are represented by a green, icky mold covering the walls and the floor. Usually we don’t pay attention to it, because the clutter in the room obscures it from us. But once in a while, something happens in the outside world which triggers it, and then, the mold crawls out among the old magazines and empty receptacles and demands notice. It wants to take over the room. Sometimes it succeeds and covers everything. That means we get deeply depressed, agitated, sad, angry, afraid, jealous. You get the picture. Then this matter subsides, and the mold retreats, letting the magazines and the receptacles fill the room again.

Our real self has nothing to do with mind and constant thoughts – it is the room without all the clutter, or actually, the room with neat shelves which contains jars where we store practical, useful mind-objects. That way we can use the mind without it using us. If we could just do it, if we could get rid of all the mental and emotional excess and just see the room as it is, in its natural state, the way it was supposed to be, we would be free of negativity and fear, and we will know peace and joy. We will know what it truly means to be alive. No pre-conditions. No judgments. Just Being.

The best way to even having a small chance of achieving this state of higher consciousness is, apparently, to live in the present as much as possible. To be attentive and alert, to accept it, to yield to it. To respond rather than react. To leave all drama and conflict behind – especially conflict with ourselves, which is the most destructive – and is the catalyst for most external conflicts.

There’s nothing new in The Power of Now. The same fundamental truths were part of ancient eastern wisdom (the Tau is another word for Being), and were preached by Jesus and Buddha. It is the same spiritual principal that exists throughout human history.
These are all different words to describe the same thing. We cannot grasp it mentally, and we mustn’t attach too much importance to words. Words are just signposts to show the way. But in the end, this state of consciousness can be only felt, not understood and labeled mentally. I mean, it can, but then you’ll be missing the whole point.
I had a glimpse of this state of connectedness to the state of Being/Presence back when I was in New York. It was one of the most profound moments of my life. That is why I know it exists. That is why I know there is more than mental noise in the human experience.

Only a truly “enlightened” man/woman can get rid of all the clutter in the room. Most of us can’t do it, at least for now. But there is a way to maybe make it easier. Let’s imagine we can project a duplicate of ourselves into this room. It will look like us, but it will shine with white light, or blue light, or whatever light you wish. And this conscious personification of us will stand guard in the room, and watch and observe. And whenever our mind starts getting really entangled with all the riveting drama in those old magazines from the past, our little luminous angel in the corner will first cough politely, and if that doesn’t help, if our stalwart reader is still with his nose deep in the magazines, the luminous figure might say: “Hey, you. Yes, I’m talking to you. I see you there, sitting there, indulging in the past. You can go ahead and knock yourself out, but just know that you’re not allowed to be in this room anymore by yourself, I will always be here, watching you”. The idea is that the minute the pre-occupied past-reader hears the voice and sees the presence, it will wake up from its trance and vanish from the room, back to the present moment which is taking place right here, right now, outside of the room, outside of the head.
The same principal can be applied to thoughts about the future. Whenever our smarmy little ego is not happy with the present and sneaks out into the room to fill those receptacles with fine scenarios/fantasies/wishful thinking, all kinds of chocolates that are insubstantial because they are just a projection and can melt and transform in any moment, or if he’s just staring at those receptacles, worried what to fill them with, the guardian will be there, watching him, jerking him back to the present.
And perhaps more importantly, whenever the mold, or the pain-body, begins to crawl again all over the room to make us miserable, we will let it crawl but we will watch it. We will not leave the room unobserved. We will watch the mold crawl and say: “I see you. I feel you. I acknowledge you, but I will not let you take over my mind and my body and my behavior and my identity.” We accept the pain instead of resisting it. It is not for the faint of heart, but if you can master it, if you can face deep-seated pain, especially when triggered violently, you have transcended and escaped the vicious cycle of emotional pain.

All our pain and suffering stems from neediness. I want. I need. If I’ll have this or that or this person, then I will be happy. But those are powerful illusions, because all you need, all you desire, well, you already have it. And the rest is just a game. Life is a stage, and we’re all actors. The secret is to actually experience it. Consider: when you don’t identify mentally with anything, when there are no attachments. When there are no attachments borne out of need, how much more simple and easy life would be.
But then, where would the ego be without the drama?

The answer is that it wouldn’t be. Just Imagine. A world without ego. No wars. No violence. No destruction of nature. Just us, Human Beings, not separate of the world and the universe but a part of it, connected to it, feeling the pulse of the cosmos inside us.

Once you are aware of this principal, you start noticing it around you where you didn’t see it before. I am currently reading a book called The History of Western Philosophy and find that many philosophers of ancient times incorporated these ideas into their teaching. You also begin seeing it in art, in certain movies (I hope to have a post soon about movies which include these ideas), and elsewhere.
If you want to have a perfect example of stillness in the present, all you need to do is watch animals. Animals always live in the Now. I actually recognized it in my (then) cat a few years ago, although I couldn’t really explain why I envied her so much. Or why I felt at this moment to in tune with her, and why all I wanted to do is pick her up and hug her. It was because she showed me presence, while I was sitting there, sulking, she showed me the way out.

And if I can turn mushy for a second, this is actually what Love is. “What the world needs now is love sweet love”. Remember that song? Truer words were never spoken. This is not the “love” that is created by the ego: a love that can turn into hate and jealousy and despair and un-love when things aren’t going right or when we feel threatened. This is the true love that has no opposite. To know that we are not adrift in an uncaring universe, but a part of it, a part of the same energy source that created everything around us, plants and animals and even rocks. Yes, one of the best ways to experience this state to some degree is to go out to nature, with no distractions (leave the i-pod at home), and just pay attention.

And by the way, the person writing this words is a great cynic who used to stay far away from anything that smacked of “universal love”. I just came to a point in my life where I recognized the truth in it.

Bring back the DVD Movie Guide

The DVD Movie Guide is/was a fat book full of short film reviews, with ratings which range from Turkey (really really bad) to five stars. The formal purpose of the book was to help in the decision which movies to rent or buy, but it also served as an indispensable pool of film knowledge, especially thanks to its director/cast indexes, where you could look up who did what and with whom. This was especially helpful in the pre-Internet age, and here lies the rub.

After 22 years the DMG’s publisher, Random House, decided to discontinue the book, citing the internet as the main reason for that. The logic behind it was that since we can find all film information on the net, nobody needs this book anymore. Right?

Wrong.

The DMG was a special book. I’ve been buying and reading it since 1993, when it was still called Video Movie guide. What made the DMG great wasn’t the indexes – those did lose their relevance in the age of IMDB, although it’s still fun to check them out just sitting on a couch with the book at hand, and I still do it from time to time with my old copies – No, the reason was pretty simple: The reviews.

The DVD Movie Guide was always a no-nonsense, down to earth, film review book, with honest, insightful and sometimes damn funny – reviews. While other film reference tomes of its kind, most famous being the Leonard Maltin guide, mainly review films from a critical, even snobbish point of view, what made the DMG special was it being a movie review book by moviegoers for moviegoers. By saying that I don’t mean that the reviews were written lazily or information was partial and wrong, I’m saying the entire approach in reviewing films was that all films no matter their genre, no matter who made them, no matter their subject matter, all deserved a fair chance. What made this book close to my heart was the almost perfect synch it had with my taste. I rarely go wrong by watching a film recommended by this book. that’s not to say that it was always prefect (you can’t honestly except a 100 percent anywhere in life). Few films which received five starts weren’t that perfect in my eyes, and  some films which got two starts deserved better, I thought (that’s where the “guilty pleasure” discussion comes in. On the other hand, a turkey is almost always a turkey). But for the most part I almost always agreed with their reviews.

There are so many movies out there, so when you find a reliable film guide you should hold on to it and treasure it. It becomes your best friend. It helps you separate the good from the bad and it helps you save time. And one more thing, perhaps the most important: What the DMG or any self-respecting film guide does best is not to tell you Casablanca is good and Ishtar is bad. You knew that already. What it needs to do is help you DISCOVER those films you never heard of or thought they were lousy just because of  prejudice or because you didn’t like the poster or the trailer. Not too long ago I persuaded friends to watch the wonderful Hot Fuzz. They weren’t too enthusiastic about it at the beginning. They never heard of the film before and the DVD art looked tacky. They thought it’s just a moronic comedy. Instead they discovered a clever, hilarious spoof of American action films and British rural mysteries. And that’s what DMG has done for me time and time again. Helped me discover those gems that I never heard of or didn’t much care for.

The DMG was edited and partially written by Mick Martin and Marsha Porter. They were assisted by a hardy group of film reviewers. (just like the Maltin guide. Although his face is on the cover, he cannot review everything by himself ). So it’s amazing that DMG managed to stay so consistent over the years. That’s what I call great editing, and the kudos here go to Mick and Marsha.

I had a short e-mail correspondence with Mick Martin where he explained to me what happened. DMG was discontinued on September 2006, right around the time when the last edition was published. He and Marsha tried their best to find another publisher but to no avail. DMG has its fans. People want it back. The decision to cancel it, while Maltin’s and other yearly review books keep being published is a real shame.

They’ve cancelled the best film reference book out there.

I don’t know if there was decline in sales. I don’t know if it’s for other reasons. I just know that the reason Random House gave Mick Martin was “because you can get it for free on the Internet”. I’m a heavy Internet user. I spend a lot of hours on-line, whether it’s at work or at home, and unless you’re a webmaster and that’s your job, I don’t think anyone ruins his posture in front of a computer more than I do. And if I’m ready to keep buying the DMG than I can’t imagine anyone else not doing the same thing.

“You can’t stop progress”, someone might say. “Books are a way of the past”, someone else might add. Well, screw that. (Yeah, I’m talking to you, Kindle).

DMG writers used to do something unique (at least as far as I know): Although it was extremely rare, from time to time they used to change a movie’s rating, their reasons being because times change, points of view change, or maybe a “movie just caught us on a bad day”. It’s a remarkably humble statement for a “critical” reference book.

Too bad Random House won’t do the same for them.

Any other publisher out there? Come on, people.

We’ll give you five stars,

Express yourself

For me, writing is hard. Everything about it is hard. From forming ideas, to formulating plot and characters, to actually sit down and write. It’s 90 percent torture and 10 percent joy. It’s joyous when it’s flowing, when the story seems to actually write itself. But that is so rare. Usually I have to hammer at it and write with fits and starts. I can’t remember when was the last time I actually wrote continuously for 3 or 4 hours.

Sitting in front of a blank screen and trying to find the first words is a very stressing experience.

True, I write in this Weblog. I write in this Weblog much more than I write screenplays or stories. It’s easier to write in a blog. First of all, it’s not a story. You don’t have to think about plot turns, dialogue or characters. It’s a much more intuitive, flowing form of writing. The second reason is that I’m much more motivated to write here because, as a friend of mine mentioned, it’s the instant gratification of seeing your work published, pure and simple. You write something, hit “submit”, and it’s out there, for all the world to see. A miracle of modern technology.

So why is it so hard for me to write fiction? When I look at my body of work over the years, I get depressed. I first began setting pen to paper about 20 years ago and been at it continuously in one form or another ever since, and what I got to show for it is three short decent stories, one feature screenplay, and a couple of other screenplays in varying lengths, from 5 pages to 45 pages.

this is not meant as another self-depreciating rant like I’m “fond” of doing, but as a clear view of the facts. In 20 years, I have produced very few completed works of written fiction. Sure, I wrote dozens of short stories in my youth, but they were easier to write because I couldn’t care less about characters or sensible plots. I just wrote them intuitively, applying things I learned from reading other people’s stories. Sadly, all those stories were thrown away over the years and so I can’t really look at them today and see what they were really like. I suspect they were crap, but it could be that some of them held good nuggets of ideas or even just characters that I could’ve used today. And so I have many, many beginnings of stories just laying around in my computer, begging me to complete them, but I have no idea how.

So why is it so hard for me? As I see it, a writer is someone who sits down and write. All the time. And not come up with a script every five years. I now read George R R Martin’s amazing Song of Ice and Fire series and I marvel: How does he do it? each book is a tremendously detailed and flowing and riveting and highly readable tome of 800 pages or more, obviously the product of an incredible effort behind the scenes, of planning and then planning some more. The guy must have 50 drawers full of background and research material.

And this is what separates the professional from the amateurs. The level of commitment. You have to be committed for it with every fiber of your being. You have to skip on television, movies and even eating. You have to skip on being with people. you have to sacrifice your social life. In order to be a prolific writer, you have to cope with the loneliness of the writer. Sitting in a room for hours and typing away.

Just look at Stephen King, who has written more than 50 books in 30 years. His memoir, On Writing, is highly recommended for every aspiring writer. King’s methods may not suit everyone, but he has some very good points to make about the craft.

I find it hard to mold ideas into a narrative. I lack the patience and the peace of mind. I’m too restless. That’s why most of my work is short. Short stories, short screenplays. The idea of writing a feature, not to mention a book, intimidates me. When I see a book written by some model about her life I get envious. Even people who don’t consider themselves as writers manage to finish a book and get it out there. That’s a great accomplishment in my… hmm… book.

Because I’m a guy who thinks too much as it is, and sits alone at his house too much as it is, the notion of making this life style into a profession intimidates me in some way. That’s why I love to direct and create a visual story with other people – collaborate – then sitting alone at home and write. I write the scripts, because if I want to make a film, nobody is going to write the story for me, unless I purchase the rights for written works which is out of my budget right now.

There is one clear resemblance between writing posts on the weblog and writing stories. I write them only when I have something to say. The most underwhelming experience a writer can have is the feeling that he has nothing to say. That there’s no issue or theme or a facet of the world or the human condition that motivates him to sit on his ass and start working. Crafting a story is work. Writing in a blog is a hobby, unless you do it professionally. It helps you flex your writing muscles and communicate ideas in another form, but for me, at least, it is no substitute for fiction writing.

Coming up with ideas is easy. Ideas are dime a dozen. But it takes commitment and passion to actually sit down and do something with them, and doing that can be torture. Procrastination can be an art form for a writer. I also don’t believe in writer’s block anymore (at least for the most part. I do acknowledge that sometime a writer just hits a creative block and is unable to continue, but that usually happens in the process of a work, not when you first sit down to begin).
Also, an idea that comes up in King’s book as well in other professional writers’ musings can basically be summed up like this: “Fuck inspiration”.

Waiting for inspiration to grab hold of you can be a long wait indeed. In order to write you have to make yourself write, adopt a writing routine and have self-discipline, traits that I’m not capable of achieving right now, apparently. You need to work hard and not wait for inspiration. When it arrives, it arrives. IF it arrives at all.

And the most important question of all: Are you really a writer if you’re suffering most of the time? There’s this romantic notion of the suffering writer which may or may not be true, but many successful writers admit that they just do it because they love every minute of it. So I guess it shouldn’t be that torturous.

I know that today I write much better than I did 20 years ago. Practice always makes perfect. But it’s still not enough, I feel. That’s a big question that I sometime ask myself: If you only wrote one piece during your entire life, but it was a masterpiece, are you considered a writer? I think so, but I think you can only be considered an author or a screenwriter if you actually have the body of work to show for it.

With the advent of the Internet, writing has become more widespread than it ever been. Everybody blogs, writes reviews, writes articles. Everybody’s commenting on everything. On Amazon, you have comments for the reviews. Soon we’ll have comments for the comments for the reviews. It’s a lot of clutter and noise, but I also find it fascinating. Are we better people because we all write now? Human beings need outlets to deal with urges. If those are not dealt with through creativity, they can explode in negative ways such as violence and anger.

My answer will have to be no. The violence and anger is seen clearly all over the Internet, so the fact that you’re writing a comment instead of punching the guy doesn’t make you a better human being. Everybody’s a big hero behind the mask of anonymity the Internet provides. Everybody’s a writer in some form or another. Illiteracy is an unheard of notion in the Western world, but I don’t think it makes us better human beings.

Hey, that could be an idea for a story.

The King and I

I love the books of Stephen King.

Maybe that’s not the most original literary or cultural statement out there, because, I mean, the guy has a lot of fans, and I’m sure it would’ve been much more impressive if I came here and told you that my favorite author is some unknown genius that I’ve discovered long ago and he’s my fun little secret. Well, that’s not the case here.

Because there’s no denying one simple fact: During the last 30 years, King has published 51 novels and short story collections, and I’ve read 26 of them. Now, that’s roughly half, and I’m sure there are far greater King afficionados out there than me, but the fact is that there is no other single writer of whom I’ve read so many books.

It took me some time to start reading King. As a kid, I was too frightened by his gruesome reputation, I guess… :-), but I think it was sometime in the early nineties when I picked up my first King, Gerald’s Game, one of his lesser known works but one of his most terrifying ones, and I was hooked ever since. To this day I think that Gerald’s Game is one of his best.
The Stand is an epic tale about the end of the world as we know it (Cell, one of his latest novels, a brilliant refelection on our cell-phone addicted society, reminds that classic in more ways than one). The Shining is a frightening piece about descent into madness, and It is a masterpiece about the pains and joys of childhood, with a shivers inducing twist.

Many have already said this before, but I feel I can’t write about King without saying that myself: The genius of this author is in his ability to weave the supernatural and the horrific into an everyday reality we all know and are able to identify. His stories do not take place in dark, grimy, cob webbed castles or in hunted forests, but in broad day light, usually in picturesqe American towns.
The real horror lies in the psyche, in the stuff men are able to do and dream of, in parallel realities just beyond our doorstep.
In his magnum opus,The Dark Tower, King plays the parallel reality idea to the hilt, along with countless influences ranging from Sergio Leone’s westerns to The Lord of The Rings books. It tells of a parallel world which at some point coalesces with our own and sends our heroes into an enormous quest.

The Dark Tower is super cool because it inhabits not only its own storyworld, but also many of King’s other stories, which, if you’re an avid King fan, makes for a lot of fun reading.
This series has its upside and downside. It is filled with amazing imagination and harrowing scenes (It is more Fantasy than Horror, but why pigeonhole it?), but it was not envisioned as a seven book series from the outset, meaning King basically made it all up as he went along – and sometimes it shows – But still, The Dark Tower is a wonder to behold. I wish I could make-up-as-I-go-along a story like this. 

Stephen King was in Toronto a few days ago as a guest of the Canadian Booksellers Association. The ceremony included some warm words from fellow writers Margaret Atwood and Clive Barker (who went up and spoke with such a husky voice, I wasn’t sure if it’s from cigarretes of if he just screamed all week at someone). Barker told of how Stephen King helped launch his career by calling his first short stories collection “The future of horror”. After that the both of them hugged. It was quite touching.

And then King went up for a one-on-one interview conducted by American writer Chuck Klosterman, which turned out to be poignant, informative and extremely funny. One only have to read a King book to know that the guy has a great sense of humor, but to see him on stage crack jokes is another thing entirely. After the interview was over, King recieved a life-achievment award, said a few words, and then it was over.
Here are some picturs (sorry about the blurriness…)

King gets his award…

…and the speech afterwards

Today King is probably the second most famous writer in the world (after J.K Rowling), and it was amazing to see the crowd’s enthusiasm when King entered the theatre. You could’ve thought we weren’t there to listen to an author speak of his work but to watch a rockstar doing his thing. King himself isn’t very comfortable with all of this, he admited, but he learned to accept it, and even enjoy it.

I think that a big part of Stephen King’s charm is his generosity and down-to-earth attitude. He doesn’t sit in his Ivory tower and looks down upon us mere humans, and he doesn’t carry himself with a dishonest humility. He knows he is good, but he knows that what he does is not some sort of humongous task that isn’t possible for others to tackle, and by that I don’t mean the fame but the success as a writer. One only needs to read his amazingly candid and inspiring work, On Writing – part autobiography (including the tale of his accident from 1999), part an unpretentious and extremely readable guide for the basics of writing fiction – to realize that.

It was really exciting and special to see and hear Stephen King in person. I don’t think even J.K Rolling has that – The ability to charm and entertain an audience to such a degree. In spite of what King says, I think he has some performer genes in him. He’s very good at it.

During the interview, he said that he’s not writing horror, but books. The reason his books are in the Horror section is “they need to be arranged alphabetically somewhere”. I think there is some truth in it, but I also think that Stephen King has managed to tap the the human psyche in a way that few authors – or artists for that matter – has been able to do. His characters, even the minor ones, carry within them a psychological whirlpool of amazing versatility, including pop-references galore. When he’s at his best, Stephen King forces us to peel our eyes, forget about all the bullshit which dominates our world – both our inner world and our outer world – and through his characters, makes us peer into our souls and seek out the truth. And although the truth is sometimes unpleasent and usually scary, it can also be liberating.

Insomnia

There’s a great Stephen King book called Insomnia. It tells of an elderly man who just can’t sleep, and his insomnia gets worse and worse, until he starts seeing all kinds of strange things around him.

I’m a night person.  Always have been. But lately, my sleeping hours have become more and more outrageous. It’s not uncommon for me to go to sleep at 3 am, or even later than that. As a result, I get up late too. The cat is to blame in part, no doubt, because she wakes me up at six so I can let her out. But I can’t help the fact that sometimes I feel like Ralph Roberts from Insomnia, although to be quite frank, with me it’s not exactly insomnia. It’s more like un-tiredness (is that a word?)

Some months ago I used to suffer from real Insomnia. I used to go to bed at around 1 AM and fall asleep at about 3, and the last few months… hell, the last year or so, has been tough. You see, I have a problem. I think too much. I just can’t help it. I’m a fucking mega-thinker. So I used to lie in bed and think, and think, and think… And I tell you, thinking can be tiring and exhusting. But not exhusting enough to lull you to sleep, as it seemed.

So I guess I got tired of lying in bed and thinking. Instead of going to bed at 1 and fall asleep at 3, I go to bed at 3 and that’s that. I’ve become a certifiable night owl. Batman has nothing on me.

I like the night. It’s peaceful. No cars honking, no busses making noise, no people yelling (usually). It’s a great time for reading, writing, watching horror films. The best Radio shows air at night, and the best music too.

Oh, but look at the time. Good night!