Macabre Media: John Barleycorn by Steve Winwood & Stephen King’s ancestry.

NOW:

Here it is, the first of September, the end of Labor day weekend. There will still be hot summery days, and thunderstorms, but harvest season has come. In that spirit, I’d like to share a harvest song:

Here are the traditional lyrics of this British folk song which pre-dates the 17th century:

There were three men coming out of the west
their fortunes for to try
and these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn should die.
They ploughed him in
they harrowed him in
threw clods all over his head.
And these three men they swore and vowed:
John Barleycorn was dead.

They let him lie for a very long time
till rain from heaven did fall.
And little Sir John sprung up his head
and so amazed them all.
They let him stand till midsummer’s day
he looked both pale and wan.
And little Sir John’s grown a long long beard
and so became a man.

They hired men with the scythes so sharp
to cut him off at knee.
They rolled him and tied him ’round the waist
and served him barbarously.
Then they sent men with pitchforks strong
to pierce him through the heart.
And the loader served him worse than that
for he’s bound him to a cart.

They hired men with crab-tree sticks
to cut him skin from bone
the miller served him worse than that
and ground him between two stones.
And little Sir John and the dark brown bowl
and he’s brandy in the glass
and little Sir John and the dark brown bowl
grew the strongest man at last.

& LATER:

Stephen King will be featured on PBS’s celebrity ancestry research show, Finding Your Roots.  His episode – the first of the season – is In Search of Our Fathers, and it will air Tuesday, September 23rd at 8/7c.

As usual, I’ll give you a heads-up a little closer to the broadcast on my Twitter / Facebook / G+ feed.


The 10 best not-horror, not-scary books by Stephen King. (Plus two you should read even though they are scary.)

Against all odds, several of my regular readers are NOT horror fans. (And I live with another horror avoider too.) I think it’s a shame that these folks have been deprived of the experience of reading Stephen (the) King  just because of his scary reputation for writing only in the horror genre.

For my contribution to this week’s fourth (and final?) King’s March link-up (a Stephen King-themed blog hop) I’ve decided to reach out to such people with a list of 10 great reads for fans of good writing, as long as it’s not considered to be in the horror genre. These books will neither gross anyone out, nor cause nightmares (probably.)

The author here is Stephen King, though, so be prepared for the stories to bring up some strong emotions. The surprise – for non-King readers – will be that those emotions may include wonder, amusement, tenderness, admiration, hope, nostalgia, awe, wistfulness, and joy.

10 not-horror, not-scary books by Stephen King

The Green Mile

They call death row at Cold Mountain Penitentiary “The Green Mile.” John Coffey, sentenced to die for the rape and murder of two young girls, is the latest addition to the Mile. Paul Edgecomb, the ward superintendent, discovers that there is more to John Coffey than meets the eye, for this friendly giant has the power to heal.

Dolores Claiborne

Suspected of killing Vera Donovan, her wealthy employer, Dolores Claiborne tells police the story of her life, harkening back to her disintegrating marriage and the suspicious death of her violent husband, Joe St. George, thirty years earlier. Dolores also tells of Vera’s physical and mental decline and of her loyalty to an employer who has become emotionally demanding in recent years.

Joyland

After realizing his romantic life is not going in the direction he’d hoped, Devin Jones decides to take a summer job at an amusement park. There he makes friends with Tom Kennedy and Erin Cook, also summer hires at Joyland, which years before had been the scene of the murder of a young woman named Linda Gray whose ghost is said to be seen at the Horror House. He also befriends a young boy, named Mike Ross and his mother, Annie. Their lives all become entwined when Devin decides to investigate the mystery of Linda Gray’s unsolved murder by the “Carny Killer.”

11/22/63

Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

The Colorado Kid

Vince Teague and Dave Bowie are the sole operators of The Weekly Islander, a small Maine newspaper.  Stephanie McCann has been working for them as an intern.   When Stephanie asks if they’ve ever come across a real unexplained mystery in the fifty years they’d been publishing the paper, they tell her the story of The Colorado Kid.

The Eyes of the Dragon

Once upon a time, in the Kingdom of Delain, King Roland is murdered and his son and heir, Peter, is framed for the crime. Peter and his loyal friends must battle an evil wizard and Peter’s usurper brother, Thomas, for the throne. Imprisoned in a tower, Peter conceives an escape plan that will take him years to execute before taking on Flagg, the powerful sorcerer who has masterminded this coup.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

Nine-year-old Trisha McFarland strays from the path while she and her recently divorced mother and brother take a hike along a branch of the Appalachian Trail. Lost for days, wandering farther and farther astray, Trisha has only her portable radio for comfort. A huge fan of Tom Gordon, a Boston Red Sox relief pitcher, she listens to baseball games and fantasizes that her hero will save her. Nature isn’t her only adversary, though – something dangerous may be tracking Trisha through the dark woods.

Firestarter

The Department of Scientific Intelligence (aka “The Shop”) never anticipated that two participants in their research program would marry and have a child. Charlie McGee inherited pyrokinetic powers from her parents, who had been given a low-grade hallucinogen called “Lot Six” while at college. Now the government is trying to capture young Charlie and harness her powerful firestarting skills as a weapon.

Different Seasons (four novellas in one volume)

IF you read only ‘Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption’ and ‘The Body’.

I’ll skip the synopses here, because we pretty much all know the basic stories, thanks to the movies Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption.

On Writing

On Writing is both a textbook for writers and a memoir of Stephen’s life and will, thus, appeal even to those who are not aspiring writers. If you’ve always wondered what led Steve to become a writer and how he came to be the success he is today, this will answer those questions.

 

ALL THAT SAID, FANS OF GREAT STORIES – HORROR OR NOT – MUST READ IT AND THE STAND, EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE SCARY.

 

scary horror stephen king it

A promise made twenty-eight years ago calls seven adults to reunite in Derry, Maine, where as teenagers they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Unsure that their Losers Club had vanquished the creature all those years ago, the seven had vowed to return to Derry if IT should ever reappear. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that summer return as they prepare to do battle with the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers once more.

scary horror stephen king the stand

One man escapes from a biological weapon facility after an accident, carrying with him the deadly virus known as Captain Tripps, a rapidly mutating flu that – in the ensuing weeks – wipes out most of the world’s population. In the aftermath, survivors choose between following an elderly black woman to Boulder or the dark man, Randall Flagg, who has set up his command post in Las Vegas. The two factions prepare for a confrontation between the forces of good and evil.

NOTE: All the synopses and book jacket images above were obtained directly from stephenking.com.

*****

ON THE TOPIC OF THIS BLOG HOP / LINKY:

I’ve really learned a lot from participating in this blog hop / linky, and I feel like I understand how such things work MUCH better now.

KingsMarch_zps31f8f79e

Click the pic to go to this week’s link up.

Wensend &  Fourth Street Review (the hosts of this linky) have each posted summaries and links to the week-3 posts, and the final linky sign-up gadget.

Just click either of those links you just saw to see what other bloggers have been writing about recently. (Interestingly, some of the participants are not horror fan and do not enjoy a scary read. I did not expect that when I signed up, but it’s been interesting how they handle the Stephen King theme.)

My own previous entries include:

The wisdom of Stephen King: best quotes from Constant Writer.

Stephen King, everywhere I look.

Reading Stephen King in March & figuring out how blog hops / linkies work.

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wrimoprog 04/02/2014:  6 + 4 = 10/182


The wisdom of Stephen King: best quotes from Constant Writer.

For this week’s King’s March, I decided to share my favorite quotes from my favorite author. As long as I was at it, I turned some of them into a sort of quiz. I also created a list at a site where your can up-vote your favorite or add one that I missed. You’ll find all that below. Before we go there, though, I want to do a quick update on my experiment with this linky / bloghop.

KingsMarch_zps31f8f79e

BLOG HOPS / LINKIES

For those of you following along, this post is part of an experiment intended to help me learn about and understand blog hops, aka linkies. I revealed my confusion about the practice in the first post in the series. Now I’m starting to get it … and I am pleased. If you have a look at the comments thread on my second King-themed post, you’ll see that the hosts of this King’s March linky are keeping track of the participants’ entries on their blogs. (In the comments to my post there are two “pingback” notifications, which lead back to where they’ve mentioned my blog, as well as those of the other participants.)

The way it’s done – or at least the way these two bloggers do it – is to create a weekly post which summarizes the blogs created in honor of the linky in the previous week. They also put up a new linky widget where participants can add another link, to another post. That’s the best way for non-participants to gain easy access to all the themed posts … go to the scheduled update post at the host blog or blogs, and browse the links and / or take a peek at the linky itself to see what’s going up throughout the week. In this case, the update post goes up on Saturdays. (It’s not very different from my #NetNet posts, now that I think about it.)

Here are the links to last Saturday’s summary posts at Forth Street Review and at Wensend. If you go there, you’ll see the link to my post from last week among the others. If you click the “Mister Linky You’re Next” icon, you’ll see a list of what’s going up this week, including this post.

Pretty cool.

BACK TO STEPHEN KING

I’m obsessed with my fiction writing lately, and I’m STILL working on Christine. I wanted to contribute something fun to the hop this week though, so I’ve spent some hours hunting down my favorite Stephen King quotes. I’m cool with the time investment, because *I* am his number one fan.

Can you place the quote in the right book?
(Highlight the space between the parentheses to check your answers.)

1. “I am your number one fan.”
(Misery)

2. “The soil of a man’s heart is stonier; a man grows what he can and tends it.”
(Pet Sematary)

3. “Get busy living or get busy dying…..there ain’t nothing in between.”
(Different Seasons)

4. “It’s a Dance. And sometimes they turn the lights off in this ballroom.
But we’ll dance anyway, you and I. Even in the Dark. Especially in the Dark.
May I have the pleasure?”
(Danse Macabre)

5. “He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.”
(   It      )

6. “Anything with the power to make you laugh over thirty years later isn’t a waste of time. I think something like that is very close to immortality.”
(Hearts in Atlantis)

7. “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12 – Jesus, did you?”
(The Body aka Stand By Me)

8. “Calling it a simple schoolgirl crush was like saying a Rolls-Royce was a vehicle with four wheels, something like a hay-wagon. She did not giggle wildly and blush when she saw him, nor did she chalk his name on trees or write it on the walls of the Kissing Bridge. She simply lived with his face in her heart all the time, a kind of sweet, hurtful ache. She would have died for him.”
(It              )

9. “Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman’s got to hold on to.”
(Dolores Claiborne)

10. “The thing under my bed waiting to grab my ankle isn’t real. I know that, and I also know that if I’m careful to keep my foot under the covers, it will never be able to grab my ankle.”
(Night Shift)

11. “God grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the tenacity to change what I may, and the good luck not to fuck up too often.”
(‘Salem’s Lot)

12. “True sorrow is as rare as true love.”
(Carrie)

13. “The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there… and still on your feet.”
(The Stand)

14. “In small towns people scent the wind with noses of uncommon keenness.”
(The Stand)

15. “God is cruel. Sometimes he makes you live.”
(Desperation)

16, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
(The Shining- thanks, Mark!)

HOW MANY DID YOU GET RIGHT?

*****

It’s like he’s talking straight to me.

Sometimes, I think I over-identify with King. Maybe we all do, and maybe that’s what makes him such a devastatingly effective author. It’s like he just “gets it” in a way that many others don’t.

I’m bipolar, so these resonate:

“I think that we’re all mentally ill. Those of us outside the asylums only hide it a little better – and maybe not all that much better after all.”

“There’s no bitch on earth like a mother frightened for her kids.”

“When his life was ruined, his family killed, his farm destroyed, Job knelt down on the ground and yelled up to the heavens, ‘Why god? Why me?’ and the thundering voice of God answered, ‘There’s just something about you that pisses me off.”

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”

I’m a horror writer, so these resonate:

“I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.”

“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. When you find something at which you have talent, you do that thing (what ever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes pop out of your head.”

“I never saw any of my dad’s stories. My mother said he had piles and piles of manuscripts.”

*****

So, what are your favorites?

Some of you may remember my Ranker list, Classic Trick or Treat Loot. Creating that and watching it take off as people shared their opinions was fun. I wanted to do the same thing with these Stephen King quotes, but it turns out Ranker makes terrible quote lists … ugly, just ugly. I found another ranking site called The Top Tens, which does a better job of displaying sentences in a pleasing way. Pop over and check it out. You can up-vote your favorite quote, add one I forgot, or even re-rank the whole set in a list of your own.

stephen king quotes

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wrimoprog 03/27/2014:  41 + 30 = 71/80