NOS4A2 — Cannonball Read

A few weeks ago I made a post on Facebook asking for recommendations for really scary books. I wanted to be scared. I wanted that uncomfortable, creeped-out feeling. I wanted to have trouble sleeping because my mind wouldn’t let go of something I read.

Several people recommended NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. I checked out the book. I noticed it had a lot of high star ratings on Amazon and Goodreads. I figured I’d give it a shot.

I seldom regret spending money on books, but I regret that I didn’t check to see if this was available as a Prime Loan. It takes half the book (literally the first 50% of the book, according to Kindle) for anything to happen. At the start it feels more like a collection of short stories that are (seemingly) unconnected; we always seem to find the character doing something like staring out the window or riding a bike, waiting for something to happen and remembering things. There’s a lot of scenes like “It had been unbearably hot and thundery the day the nail gun went off (that was how he thought of it — not as the day he shot his father but as the day the gun went off).” That feels an awful lot like “telling” instead of “showing” and it seems to happen a lot.

The sly references to Stephen King’s works was cute at first, but got annoying as they went on. It’s “The Shining” and “Christine” and “Firestarter” and “The Talisman” and “It” and a few others mixed in. As a result, it’s predictable. There’s a few really, genuinely likable characters. Don’t get attached to them. There’s a dog. Bye-bye doggie. It’s really hard to be scared by a book when you can see everything coming from miles away. “Hey, we’re going to tell you about thirty times that this stuff is explosive, right. Oh, and by the way, HERE’S A SCENE THAT REVOLVES AROUND A LIGHTER. REMEMBER THIS LIGHTER AND THE EXPLOSIVE STUFF, OK?”

Call me crazy, but I like my foreshadowing to be a little more subtle. I want to feel rewarded for guessing right.

Lastly, and this is really stupid, I couldn’t stop picturing Monty Burns as Charlie Manx, which completely eliminated anything scary or creepy that might have remained.

burns
“In spite of his large skull, his features were weasel-like and crowded close together in the center of his face. He had a sunken chin and an overbite, which gave him a very dim, almost feeble look.” (p159)

Phoneless

My cellphone died earlier this week. The port in the phone has been going for about a month. Stunts had to be performed to get the phone to charge. Positioning it just so. Angling it just so. Weighting or bending it in just the right position. Eventually nothing worked. I’ve not had a phone this whole weekend and it’s been weird. I didn’t realize how much I’d come to rely on it until I didn’t have it.

It’s my source of music and news and the time. It has a slide-out keyboard. It’s my little buddy and my best friend. I even named it Jeeves because it always had the answers and advice I needed (and would sometimes get rid of the yellow tweed jacket before I even asked). And now it’s gone.

The replacement comes Tuesday or Wednesday. I don’t know if I can last that long.

I do have to commend Verizon Wireless for their customer service. I went into the store, they took my name and description of the problem right away. I waited a little bit until someone was available. He looked at my account history, added the warranty coverage to my account so I would be able to exchange the phone, and then put in the request for the replacement. So easy. I was worried they would try to upsell me even though I’ve got a year before I can replace my phone (I’ll probably switch to the “upgrade anytime” plan when my contract is up. That didn’t exist when I got my phone). I was expecting things like “Well if you upgrade early, we can knock a few percent off the cost so it won’t be full price” but instead I got “add the warranty for $3.00 a month and get your phone replaced free.”

Deal. Solid.

I Swear

I don’t curse a lot. That probably surprises some people, but it’s true. I do enjoy the word “shit” and I’m always going to admit that “bastard” is my favorite curse word. I don’t even consider “damn” to be much of a swear but I still don’t use it much. No reason. I just have other ways to express myself. And even though I’m 42 and I’m pretty sure my mom knows my vocabulary skills, I still have trouble swearing in front of my mom.

I’ll write ‘em, though. I’ll write all the words. And when I write them I write them out in all their four-letter glory, because damn it (see what I did there?) if I’m going to use it, I’m going to own it.

I really don’t understand. If someone might be offended by the word “shit” how is “sh!t” any better? Replacing one letter with a symbol doesn’t change the meaning. It doesn’t nullify it for the people who don’t like swearing — not really. It’s a false sense of security. It’s silly. It’s the written equivalent of saying something potentially offensive in a whisper. You know what I’m talking about. I think everyone has that not-quite-racist relative or coworker who is genuinely nice but can’t stop saying things like “I met the new neighbor. He’s black!”

My point is (and I do have one) that it irritates me when people censor words online. “What sort of sh*t is this?” If you don’t want the word spelled out on your website find another word. It’s not like people can’t guess what “f*ck” is supposed to mean in a sentence like “it is cold as f*ck today”. If it’s cold as fuck, say so. If it’s a goddamned shitstorm of snow out there, go with it. But if you can’t, then don’t. “It’s incredibly cold” and “there’s a huge amount of snow falling and blowing around out there” works. Still gets the point across and people won’t notice that you didn’t go with the cussing.

Own your language or find another way. Seriously, one of the many things my mom taught me is that people won’t notice if you don’t curse. And Stephen Fry taught me that there’s nothing wrong with swearing.

I think we can all agree there are some words that are offensive and slurs and really don’t need to be written or said, and reducing them to things like “the n-word” don’t really make it any better. You still know what’s being said. Dancing around it doesn’t change the meaning or the intention.

If you’re someone who’d rather not see swearing online, there are ways to censor things. Like add-ons for Firefox and Chrome. That’s probably your best option, because not everyone is going to be offended by the same words and it’s still shit, no matter which letter you replace with a little smiley face.

More About Them Kittens

Charlotte is doing a lot better. She’s not perfect yet, but her symptoms have been reduced. She’s getting braver and stronger and a tiny bit bigger. She’s still about half the size of Owen, but she’s starting to look more catlike than kittenish. She loves to snuggle and she’s not one to put up with anyone’s nonsense.

Charlotte was the first one to come downstairs. She likes to slip between the banister bars onto the back of the sofa. Owen still doesn’t like to be downstairs, but he’s gotten to be very close to Luke, and we’re hoping that Luke will encourage him.

Owen has been a bonus. I hadn’t been planning to keep him, but decided it would be good for Charlotte. It has been. They’re still the best of friends, sleeping together, grooming each other, and sharing the same food bowl (getting them to eat from different bowls has not been successful so far).

They’re growing up great. I totally lucked out with these two.

If you’re interested in following the adventures of former Savage Cat John, he’s at
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My Mother: My Enabler

So I’ve wanted a digital SLR for a while. A good one. I like taking pictures. I always have. I’m not particularly good at it, but I like doing it, and my theory was that I could get a good camera and learn. And then my mom went out and bought me a fantastic camera. Guess it’s time to learn.

The thing is, this camera makes it easy. Seriously, out of the box I’m taking pictures that are so much better than anything I’ve been doing before.

You can see them all on Flickr or if you want to see just the ones I like best, they’re on Tumblr

Hold Me Accountable

I signed up to do a “Half Cannonball” this year. “A what” you may be asking yourself. You can read the full details about it here. Read the nifty FAQ. Sign up to participate.

Like I said, I’m doing a half-cannonball. Twenty-six books in a year. That’s not difficult for me. I read 52 books (so far) this year. The hard part is that I’m supposed to review them. That’s what’s difficult for me. I can read ‘em but I can’t always talk about them. That’s why I opted for a half instead of a whole. And there’s a very good chance I might even only make it to a quarter-cannonball.

So people… remind me. Ask me about the reviews. Encourage me. Don’t let me flake out on this like I do so many other projects.

Esophagitis!

The muscle that separates Charlotte’s esophagus and stomach is weak, so acid washes back up where it shouldn’t be. She’s coming home on antibiotics and with some anti-nausea meds, and some additional meds to soothe her sore throat.

She’ll probably be on meds her whole life, but that’s nothing new for me. Gizmo, Saam, and Robin were all on a daily dose of things. And have I mentioned that Charlotte reminds me of Gizmo? Because she does. Like, a lot.

I am SO relieved and really appreciate everyone’s good thoughts today. Rationally I know that good thoughts didn’t “save” her, but knowing so many people cared and worried made ME feel better.

You folks are awesome.

Worry

Charlotte is at the vet today. Her issues with reflux and vomiting aren’t getting better. She’s going to be sedated and they’re going to do a thorough exam and an endoscopy.

I’m terrified.

I trust the vet doing this. I trust her and the entire staff of Eastern Animal Hospital so much that I know Charlotte is in good hands but she’s so small and there is something wrong with her.

I really want it to be something easy. Something fixable. Something where they will call me tonight and say “she’s resting and will be ready to go home tonight”. Or tomorrow.

The important thing is that she comes home.

She’s only three months old and I already love this cat an unbelievable amount.

December

It’s December. John Kitten went home with a friend of mine. I’ve known Bean online for years but this was the first time meeting in person. Bean and John will do well together. Once John learns that not everything is a toy for his amusement, at least.

Charlotte is still much too small. She has yet another appointment on the 13th and we’ll see. I would like to think she’s finally gotten past the two pound mark. She feels less frail and I’m more aware of her when she stands on me.

We also kept Owen. Finding a home for him was getting tricky and as time went on it was really apparent that he and Charlotte were bonding. They groom each other and Charlotte likes to snuggle with him when she’s not feeling good. Because she’s so small it’ll be a while before she’s allowed to hang out with the big critters downstairs, so if Owen is with her she won’t feel so alone.

Introductions to Luke have gone… interestingly. Luke is alternately interested and irritated. I think he’s intrigued by the idea of having playmates, but he’s so much larger than they are I think he’s a little weirded out by how small they are. Charlotte and Owen don’t seem to have any problem with him. Even when he growls or swats they don’t seem to fear him. Which means either he’s only growling/swatting in a “I’m the dominant cat around here” nonthreatening way, or that the kittens are too stupid to recognize a threat. Luke’s attention seems to be drifting toward “playful” so maybe things will be OK.

Cardiff is thrilled by them. The worry there is that he’ll accidentally hurt them by vigorously bouncing on them out of joy.