Stephen King Marathon: “Gerald’s Game” (Book)

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While I still haven’t gathered up the courage to watch the Netflix movie of “Gerald’s Game” (as I said last blog, I’m a bit squeamish), I did start reading the book while we were holed up inside during Hurricane Irma. It took me a little longer than I would’ve liked to finish it, but this makes the second of King’s books I’ve read from start to finish. Yes, I know, I’m way behind, but I’ve found it easier and less time-consuming to watch adaptations of his work. I’ll be getting into more of those this month, as well as that Netflix movie at some point. For now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what this story’s about.

Jessie Burlingame and her husband Gerald go to their isolated cabin to spend some quality time together both in and out of the bedroom. While Jessie has gotten sick of bondage, she allows Gerald to handcuff her to their bed. However, Gerald soon starts taking his game too far and Jessie’s discomfort escalates into hitting him. This causes him to suffer a heart attack and die when he falls off the bed head-first. Now alone and utterly helpless, Jessie must find a way to escape her predicament. But she’ll also have to contend with some obnoxious voices in her head as well as a hungry dog in the meantime.

So, as you can tell, the story is actually pretty “normal.” It didn’t strike me as a Stephen King story at first because when I think of him, I tend to think of his more supernatural tales. That being said, it was a bit hard to get into. I know King loves to add a lot of detail in his descriptions, and the book overall is well-written. But the subject matter was pretty disturbing at times and I kinda felt the story was a bit padded. To me, what this story boils down to is a woman trapped on a bed dealing with her own trauma. It sounds like material that would make a solid short story, but here I just felt like the book was a little too long for its own good.

That’s not to say the very few characters in it are bad. Gerald isn’t around for long, but a lot of his character is developed through Jessie reflecting on their marriage. I thought Jessie herself was fine, even if there were times I got slightly annoyed with her. Part of this was through the voices in her head. Yes, this is one of the weirder and psychological aspects in the book. The voices are meant to reflect people she knew in her life, and they can occasionally be obnoxious. I still liked the idea and thought King executed it well. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the gore aspect, it was to be expected in a story involving a dead guy. I was a little surprised that the aforementioned dog was given a full backstory, though it did add another side to those parts of the story besides Jessie’s.

I won’t go into spoilers, but the most disturbing parts of the book (again, besides the gore) had to do with both trauma that Jessie deals with and the “twist” ending of the book. The trauma was disturbing because it felt like something that could occur in real life. While the twist could arguably be realistic as well, it was such an over the top amount of disturbing that it didn’t work as well for me. I generally didn’t like the twist anyway, as it felt like King was hinting at supernatural stuff that didn’t seem necessary to the story. It just felt tacked on and made the book feel all the more padded.

Overall, “Gerald’s Game” is a gruesome story that probably could’ve been edited down just a tad more. Despite that, the lead character was well-written, the situation and induced trauma/gore were horrifying, and, for better or for worse, the description were richly detailed. If you’re looking for a more “realistic” King story similar to something like “Misery”, give this one a read.

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Stephen King Marathon: “It” (2017)

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I didn’t want to wait a whole week to blog, but since it’s now October, welcome to another themed month! A lot has happened in the past couple weeks. My parents came to visit and had a great vacation to boot, my fiance and I finally got married and had a nice, simple ceremony befitting of us, and we also saw the new “It” movie in theater! Since we have our honeymoon planned for the 18th and will be enjoying some early Halloween fun in Disneyland, I decided this blog will be updated at least two to three times a week. And since I want to break away from anthologies this year, I’m going to dedicate this month to Stephen King. So, with that, let’s check out this remake.

Before I sum up the story, I’ll let it be known that I haven’t watched the 90’s mini-series in its entirety nor have I read the 1000+ page book. That being said, the story is split up between this movie and its eventual sequel. This half focuses on a group of children from Derry, Maine, who call themselves The Loser’s Club and their terrifying encounters with an evil creature of unknown origin. This thing takes on different forms to feed off the children’s fears to turn each of them into a tasty meal, although its primary form is of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. The kids must band together to ward off and hopefully destroy it before it tries to kill them all.

I really enjoyed this version of the story. While it remains to be seen if the sequel will be remotely as good, this movie was a great starting point. I especially liked the performances for leader Bill and lovestruck Ben, though all the kids were well-acted. I thought it was a smart idea from the get-go to focus on this side of the story, not just for length but also to get you on these kid’s sides. I also really enjoyed Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise/It, and his version definitely stands apart from Tim Curry’s in the mini-series. That’s not to say Curry’s was bad, but it was clearly more campy and silly. This Pennywise constantly did things that freaked out both myself and my husband, and it doesn’t pull any punches in how it scares the kids. I liked the realistic, non-It problems each kid faces as many times they felt even creepier than the Pennywise scenes (for example, Beverly and her touchy-feely dad). I also preferred this movie’s way of showing how Pennywise influences the townspeople to make them basically ignore the bad things going on. There was one scene in particular with a subtle moment alluding to this that my husband and I absolutely loved.

I did find some things to nitpick, however. There were a couple times that the CGI on Pennywise was a bit silly and obvious, and the now infamous dancing scene was more funny than creepy. I could easily see why some people didn’t enjoy some of the horror, as there were a few straight up jumpscares. They didn’t bother me as much, but I could see how others would take issue with them. I also found it weird that we’re meant to semi-sympathize with Henry Bowers, the main bully in the movie. I didn’t entirely buy it, although I did feel he was fleshed out far better than the mini-series version.

Honestly, I had a good time with “It” and I’m excited for the sequel to come out in 2019. The acting is spot-on from both the child and adult actors, Pennywise/It is scarier than ever, and the movie had some cool set pieces for the scares and the big, climatic ending. And, thankfully, the gore is limited so even squeamish people like me could sit through it fairly easily (barring one scene that I had to turn away from). If you’ve read the book or seen the mini-series and didn’t like either, it’s highly unlikely this version will change your mind. But if you’re interested in a good horror movie for this spooky month, I encourage you to give it a watch (especially while it’s still in theaters). Stay tuned for more Stephen King blogs!

Marriage Updates and More!

So, due to last week being busier than I anticipated, I didn’t make a blog post. Needless to say, the internet service at my fiance’s house was spotty after Hurricane Irma. Luckily, we didn’t suffer any major damage and no injuries, so I survived my first hurricane pretty easily.

I also wanted to take time to blog now because the rest of this week is going to be even more hectic. Tomorrow, September 22nd, I’ll be getting married! We’re going to a courthouse for a brief ceremony surrounded by friends and family (I was never one to have a big “dream” wedding), and then heading off to a nice restaurant to say our vows and enjoy a tasty dinner. Hopefully we’ll all have room for some wedding cake afterwards, and then we’ll be going off by ourselves to stay overnight at a hotel for some alone time. We then plan to spend Saturday celebrating our post-wedding with our circle of friends since a couple of them are unable to come tomorrow, and Sunday will continue our trend of taking my parents out somewhere cool for their vacation.

I’ll probably write a more detailed blog about these events next week, and as far as my green card goes, we’ve gotten a consultation appointment set up on October 4th. However, I’d like to mention that from here on out, I can’t guarantee I’ll have a blog up every week like I’ve usually tried to do. I’m thinking of doing my usual horror-themed string of blogs for October, though, so we’ll see if I can pull that off. I just read Stephen King’s “Gerald’s Game” and am thinking about seeing the Netflix movie, plus my fiance and I saw the “It” remake yesterday, so maybe I’ll make some of my entries about his work. We’ll see when the time comes, as we’ll be taking our honeymoon to California midway through the month as well.

I’m just so happy to finally be at this point in both our relationship and the visa process. This is basically the endgame to what we started back in November last year, and I’m relieved we had a smooth ride getting to it (hurricane notwithstanding). Until next week!

Welcome to Miami!

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After making it through immigration and a long, long layover at the Toronto Pearson Airport last Saturday, I’ve been relaxing and enjoying my time with my fiance in Miami. It hasn’t been without its downsides, however, as we’ve been bracing ourselves to either hunker down or evacuate in the wake of Hurricane Irma. We’ve both had to get used to knowing that I won’t be leaving after a short period of time, but we’re more than happy about that. My parents are also doing well in spite of missing me, and I know it’ll be hard on all of us once they leave after their 10-day vacation starting at the end of next week.

As far as Saturday, immigration went pretty smoothly in Toronto with me only spending less than an hour between it and customs. On my Miami flight, we did run into a moment of scariness when we attempted to land. Because of an error made by the air traffic controller, we came close to running into another plane who was also trying to land. Thankfully, our captain slammed on the pedal (I don’t know plane terminology that well) and got us out of there to loop around and try landing again. After the day I’d had, I was just eager to be on the ground and was even happier when I saw my fiance and future mother-in-law waiting for me. I didn’t even run into any issues with the two large suitcases I’d brought, so the rest of the night was a breeze.

Yesterday, we finally went to a courthouse in Coral Gables to obtain our marriage license. Even though we won’t be using it for a couple weeks yet, I’m glad we got around to it this quickly (partly because of the storm). I’m still eager to jump into my green card process as soon as possible, and we’ve got a fun Californian honeymoon planned in mid-October as well. And while our wedding won’t be all that big or fancy or traditional, we’re just relieved to have made it to this point. Neither of us have wanted a ginormous ceremony anyway, so a private, civil ceremony is perfect for us.

Of course, before we can make further plans, we have to deal with this hurricane. So, depending on circumstances (loss of power and such), I may not have a blog up until later next week. For now, we’ve got the house prepared in case we stay, and we have a solid idea about what to take if we head north. I’m not as nervous as I thought I’d be, but hopefully we’ll get through it unscathed regardless. Until next time!

The Big Move

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Tomorrow, September 2nd, is the day I’ll be leaving Canada to get married to and live with my fiance in Miami.  After all the stress of sorting out my things and taking care of important matters, I’m more excited than ever to be there. I can’t even say I’ll be too sad to leave, especially since I’ll still get to see my parents when they come down in two weeks for our wedding.

I guess at this point I just feel…relieved. I’m relieved to finally be getting out of their house and away from the small town I grew up near. I’m relieved that I didn’t have to worry about taking ALL of my stuff this first time because there’s a lot I’ll still need to bring once we have our own place. That will come in due time, but at least I can focus for now on the necessities. I’m relieved that this whole process has been smooth sailing and will hopefully continue to be that way when I apply for a green card. And, of course, I’m relieved that after all these years of dating and later being engaged, my fiance and I will finally be husband and wife.

Of course, I’ll miss the family and friends I have in Canada. But as I’ve pointed out to each and every one of them, I will be back for visits. We still want to throw a big party with everyone once I’m able to get the time and legal allowance to travel. And while I’m sure I won’t be able to come every year, I think it’ll make me appreciate things a lot more. Not necessarily my family or friends, because I already appreciate them, but my town. I’ve gradually felt stuck here and have wanted nothing more than to go somewhere new. Now that that will be a reality, I think my attitude towards it will change.

It’s weird to think that this is essentially a new chapter in my life. Besides college, it’s easily the biggest change to happen to me. But I’m glad the day is finally here. I’m excited for the new opportunities and plenty of fun things to do that Miami can provide me. And even though I’m not remotely pleased about the political climate down there, I’ll get by. At the end of the day, I’m going not just for myself but for the future I’ll have with my fiance. So, the next time you see a blog from me, I’ll be in the United States. Until then!

My Thoughts on Marvel’s “The Defenders” (Spoiler-Free)

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I would’ve gotten to this a lot quicker than having finished it now, but I spent the last couple weeks marathoning “Star vs. The Forces of Evil”. Regardless, I knew going in that I was bound to like “The Defenders” solely based on my experiences with the other Netflix shows. I still consider the first season of “Daredevil” to be my bar for quality, but I found season 2 to be too cluttered. “Jessica Jones” had some pacing issues but was overall enjoyable, while “Luke Cage” had a strong first half before nosediving into a slightly disappointing second half. And, of course, “Iron Fist” is still my weakest choice of the bunch, even though I liked aspects of it. That all said, I was excited to see these four “heroes” come together for the first time and interact with each other. Did the show meet my expectations? Well, yes and no.

Plotwise, there’s not much I can talk about without getting into spoilers. Needless to say, Matt Murdoch, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Danny Rand, and many of their respective supporting characters meet and end up having to deal with the powerful adversary known as The Hand and its leaders. I’ve been pretty iffy about The Hand since their introduction in the second season of “Daredevil” and subsequent return in “Iron Fist.” As neat as the concept of mystical, nearly immortal ninjas are, I’ve found these shows tend to make them come off as uninteresting at times. Here, though, I really seeing the organization’s leaders come together and the head baddie, played expertly by Sigourney Weaver, was a bit of an enigma at first. I don’t think I can say she’s the best bad guy out of the Netflix MCU, but she wasn’t bad either.

Of course, the biggest draw of the show was seeing the inevitable team-up happen, and thankfully not one of them felt out of character to me. However, I did feel the eight episode restriction was both a help and a hindrance. It felt like more interactions could have taken place, and it may have also helped the plot feel a tad tighter (though the pacing was pretty good for the most part). I also felt that, since the showrunners here were also the ones who helmed “Daredevil,” that Matt and Elektra got a bit of preferential treatment. That’s not to say the others didn’t get to shine, but it clearly felt like they wanted to set up the next season of “Daredevil” in depth. Despite that, I liked what direction they took them in for the most part. I was very happy to see Jessica and Luke again, and their interactions with each other as well as Jessica’s with Matt and Luke’s with Danny were a joy to watch. I can’t wait for their shows to return to see what they get up to.

Speaking of Danny, though… Okay, I do feel he fared better here than in his own show, but it’s clear to me that Danny is still the weak link in terms of being interesting when compared to the other three. I can’t help comparing him to Oliver Queen from when I used to watch “Arrow,” and I feel bad because I do still like Danny’s rare moments of optimism. However, I adored his budding friendship with Luke and he actually gets some action scenes in this that show off his abilities well. I know I mentioned enjoying the drunken master fight in “Iron Fist,” but these fights were a lot more fast-paced (more on that later, though) and felt far more suited to his fighting style. The reoccurring set piece that is the hallway fight was a huge highlight of the season for me for this reason. I’m hopeful that the second season of “Iron Fist” takes some inspiration from this and ups the ante.

But now we come to the things I nitpicked or at the very least was disappointed by. While it didn’t bug me too much, they made the creative decision to have nearly every scene include colored lighting or some similar kind of aesthetic to match each character’s color scheme (red for Matt, blue for Jessica, yellow for Luke, and green for Danny). It was more distracting than anything. The action scenes, while mostly good, were sometimes edited in a way that made them hard to follow. One that took place at the beginning of the season and another towards the end come to mind. I also wasn’t sure how I felt about how Matt and Elektra ended up by the end of the season. With Matt, I could see his plan from a mile away, but Elektra was a bigger source of contention for me as she kinda takes the spotlight away from The Hand. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Elektra in “Daredevil,” so that did irk me. In regards to The Hand themselves, I felt like the final “battle” with them was a little anti-climatic. I’m hopeful we at least haven’t seen the last of the leaders, but time will tell if they pop up again. Finally, as much as I enjoyed the lack of filler thanks to the shorter season, I would’ve liked at least an episode that gave some of the supporting characters more to do. Foggy, Karen, Claire, Colleen, and Misty all get something to do, though more so Claire and Colleen, but poor Trish and Malcolm are sidelined through the majority of the season. I would’ve liked more interactions between all of them as well, if only for the potential conversations that could come from it.

Overall, while “The Defenders” didn’t quite reach the heights of that first “Daredevil” season for me, it was an entertaining watch. It was fun to see the four interact and they played off each other far better than I expected. I’m also glad the creators revealed more about The Hand’s operations, and for me this appearance actually got me to care even a little about what they were doing. However, after two shows featuring them this year, I’ll be more than happy to leave them behind for a while. And now that “The Defenders” is over, I’ll be looking forward to the new series with The Punisher that apparently comes out this year.

 

One More Flea Market Visit

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It’s become a thing as my time living in Canada winds down before I move to the States, but I’ve been trying to enjoy the little things that I won’t get to do once I leave. One of those things is our town’s yearly flea market, and while the weather could have been a little better, I tried to make the most of it.

As part of our usual tradition, I went with my dad after having spent the early afternoon at my job. We managed to go when it wasn’t raining and quickly set things off right by grabbing our favorite treat – some chocolate/vanilla twist ice cream from an ice cream van called Meg’s. The next two hours after that were spent traversing the huge baseball field filled with tables and tents of various goods. My dad surprised me this year by buying quite a few things, such as earrings for my mom (she prefers to avoid the flea market), a couple brand new shovels and chainsaw chains.

As for me, I normally don’t buy many things on account of there being tons of things to pick from and me only having so much money to spend. This time was no different, but I was also taking into consideration the fact that I didn’t want to move even more stuff than I already have to. Thankfully, my fiance had given me the suggestion to look for the Super Nintendo game “Zombies Ate My Neighbors.” He’s always wanted to play it since he discovered its existence and it’s something we can play together to boot. I got super lucky and managed to find just TWO copies of the game in the whole market. I ended up buying one for $65 and I still don’t care if that’s too much for it or not. I’m just proud I found it since you never know just what you’ll find in that place. I also picked up my usual helping of flavored cotton candy (this time was chocolate – pretty good!) and the next season of “The Simpsons” that my fiance and I have to watch. All in all, I spent about $80, but it was more than worth it.

Finally, before we left the market about three and a half hours later, we had our yearly meal of curly fries with a couple cans of Pepsi to wash them down. My dad also tried out a buffalo burger (verdict: good), and right around the time we were about to finish, the rain started up again. We were both prepared as I had a coat with a hood on and my dad was wearing his cap, but we were still quick to duck inside the local rink to check out more merch and avoid the rain. All in all, we zoomed through the flea market pretty quick. The threat of bad weather played a minor part in that, but we still had a lot of fun and even saw/talked to a few people we knew from town.

I’m going to miss going every year. If my fiance and I manage to come up next year, we might be able to arrange it, but if not I’m hopeful that I’ll get to go back at least in a couple years. I know he’d also love that seeing as he really enjoyed when I took him there in 2014. I’m glad I got to treat this as a little send-off for the last of my summer traditions.