Thursday, July 30, 2015

It's Been a Grim Few Days

Friends, it's been a grim few days. Let's smile a little.

This always makes me smile. Enjoy.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Stephen King Movies Ranked

Photo Credit Michael Tackett/CBS
Because why not?

I grabbed most of this list from the Wikipedia article "List of adaptations of works by Stephen King."
I've removed the TV series and TV episodes. Movies, both theatrical and TV, are included, and I've decided miniseries count as super-long TV movies. Leaving off miniseries would leave off things like It, which is, y'know, iconic at this point, if only for Tim Curry as Pennywise.

My ranking of "best movies" may differ from yours. This is arranged somewhat by technical quality and somewhat by level of enjoyment. I'm able to forgive some flaws--technical, story, effects--if there are good performances.

I divided my list into categories:

The Great - movies that are classics or should be classics.
The Good - movies that I feel hold up pretty well (although from about Firestarter on, the films become less "really good" and more "okay").
The Dumb But Fun - movies that I can't really make the argument are good, but are certainly fun to watch in different way--stupid plot, overacting, cheesy effects, or just sheer lunacy.
The Bad - it should go without saying that this is the dreck.
The Unseen - movies that I haven't seen yet for whatever reason.

Without further ado.

The Great

1. The Shining (1980)
2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
3. Misery (1990)
4. The Dead Zone (1983)
5. The Mist (2007)
6. Hearts in Atlantis (2001) (based on the novella Low Men In Yellow Coats from 1999)
7. Carrie (1976)
8. 1408 (2007)
9. Stand By Me (1986) (based on the novella The Body from 1982)
10. The Green Mile (1999)

The Good

11. The Dark Half (1993)
12. Cujo (1983)
13. Pet Sematary (1989)
14. Secret Window (2004) (based on the novella Secret Window, Secret Garden from 1990)
15. Creepshow (1982)
16. Christine (1983)
17. Salem's Lot (1979)
18. Storm of the Century (1999)
19. Rose Red (2002)
20. It (1990)
21. Children of the Corn (1984)
22. Carrie (2013)
23. Thinner (1996)
24. Desperation (2006)
25. Firestarter (1984)
26. The Stand (1994)
27. The Shining (1997)
28. Needful Things (1993)
29. Bag of Bones (2011)
30. Creepshow 2 (1987)

The Dumb but Fun

31. Silver Bullet (1985) (based on the novella Cycle of the Werewolf from 1983)
32. Maximum Overdrive (1986) (based on the short story "Trucks" from 1973)
33. The Mangler (1995)
34. The Running Man (1987)
35. The Tommyknockers (1993)
36. The Langoliers (1995)
37. Sometimes They Come Back (1991)
38. Quicksilver Highway (1997)

The Bad

There's really no point to ranking these because they're all pretty bad to atrocious.
  • Dreamcatcher (2003)
  • The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer (2003)
  • Pet Sematary Two (1992)
  • Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (1993)
  • Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)
  • Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996)
  • Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998)
  • Children of the Corn 666: Isaac's Return (1999) 
  • The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)
  • Carrie (2002)
  • Salem's Lot (2004)
  • Sometimes They Come Back...Again (1996)
  • Riding the Bullet (2004)
  • The Lawnmower Man (1992)*
  • The Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996)*
*These two are of particular note because, as bad as some adaptations of King's work have been, The Lawnmower Man was so bad, and so far removed from the story King wrote, he actually successfully sued to have his name removed from the movie. The sequel isn't even listed on the "adaptations of Stephen King" article on Wikipedia--the rationale for which appears to be that the sequel wasn't based on any Stephen King story, which would be fine, except for all of the Children of the Corn sequels and the Sometimes They Come Back sequels.

You probably noticed that none of the miniseries made it into the "great" category. That's for a number of reasons. Even the best miniseries were constrained by what could be shown on television, which often meant cheap effects, weaker scares, and sometimes some pretty hammy acting. And because these miniseries were much longer, often to stay truer to the actual plot of the book, the pacing is a bit all over the place even in the best ones.

The Unseen
  • 1985 Cat's Eye
  • 1987 A Return to Salem's Lot
  • 1990 Graveyard Shift
  • 1991 Golden Years
  • 1992 Sleepwalkers
  • 1995 Dolores Claiborne
  • 1997 Trucks
  • 1997 The Night Flier
  • 1998 Apt Pupil
  • 2001 Children of the Corn: Revelation
  • 2001 The Mangler 2
  • 2002 Firestarter 2: Rekindled
  • 2005 The Mangler Reborn
  • 2007 Creepshow III (Unofficial sequel to the 1987 film. King wasn't involved.)
  • 2007 No Smoking (Indian film) (based on the short story Quitters Inc.)
  • 2009 Dolan's Cadillac
  • 2009 Children of the Corn
  • 2011 Children of the Corn: Genesis (sequel to the 2001 film)
  • 2014 Big Driver
  • 2014 A Good Marriage (based on the 2010 novella. Screenplay by Stephen King)
  • 2014 Mercy (based on the short story "Gramma" from King's 1985 collection Skeleton Crew)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Yet Another Shooting in the US
Oh look. Another one.

It's a frustrating and repulsive reality that, when discussing shootings with my friends, we often have to ask each other "which one?" for clarification. That's fucked up. But that's the reality we live in.

There's this fucked up cycle in the US. Every shooting follows the same pattern. Everyone is always outraged at the shooting. Then when someone tries to talk about introducing new gun laws or revamping our old ones, someone else gets pissed off that "responsible gun owners" are getting punished. Someone else throws out mental illness like a shiny ball to distract from the gun issue for a while. Eventually all the in-fighting peters out, we go back to our lives of talking about Ariana Grande licking a goddamned donut, and then another shooting happens and the same bullshit loops on into infinity.

Other first world countries don't have this problem. But we refuse to see that.

We love to cast judgement on other countries for their radical, violent offenders, but we refuse to see the same problems in our own country.

We have a gun culture problem. And yet, I can't help feeling pessimistic about the whole ordeal. Not just heartbroken that yet more people have died. Heartbroken that more people have died and we refused to do ANYTHING to stop it. Again. But after 20 children are murdered while they're at school, what hope do I have that any other new shooting is going to change it? When 20 kids children die and nothing changes, what other atrocity can happen that could possibly push the needle any further? At this point, each shooting is just one more statistic to add to the column.

I'm sorry if I'm coming across negative and pissing in your Cheerios. I'm just so tired of having the same conversations and watching the same things happen.
I have no desire to debate anybody this time. If you suddenly get a rageboner about my pissing on your gun rights, go wank it somewhere else, okay? I'm out of spoons for this one.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Jeb Bush Says Americans Should Work Longer Hours to Fix Economy

Some rights reserved by World Affairs Council of Philadelphia
Jeb Bush did an interview a few days ago in which he argued that Americans need to work more hours for the country's economy to improve. From ABC News, quoting him, emphasis mine:
“My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That's the only way we're going to get out of this rut that we're in.”
Less than half of Americans report working 40 hours a week. Half or more report working 50 hours a week. The weekly work hours for the average American is 46.7 hours per week. If people are already working MORE than full time, and many poor Americans are working extra jobs, how can working class Americans possibly do more to pull the country out of a rut?

I get that people don't want to unfairly tax the rich. Some people feel that rich people earned that money, and that it would be unfair to take that money away from them to help lazy people that aren't willing to work.

But that's not going on here. What we have here are politicians keeping wages low then demanding Americans work longer hours to pick up the slack. The brunt of this country's well-being is being heaped on the backs of those with the least amount of money. 

If kept up for inflation, minimum wage should be around $22 per hour. It's currently $7.25 per hour. According to this map, there is not a state in the country that someone can live by themselves and rent a 2-bedroom apartment on that wage.

Americans are not a lazy people, in spite of the stereotypes. We work harder than any other industrialized country, but appear to be reaping fewer of the rewards. 1% of the nation's people are taking in 25% of the nation's income. And yet...working class Americans are expected to work more hours?

Historically, in situations where so much of the wealth is held by so few people, the situation does not end well for those among the "haves."

It's hilarious that the Jebster says Americans need to work MORE to keep the country afloat while he makes more for one speech than I made at my job in a year.

This is why, when I hear "fiscal conservatives" talk about personal responsibility, I want to tear my hair out.