Happy Birthday, Mom!

My mother has said to me time-and-again that everyone has their own story – everyone has their own narrative specific to them and their journey. As she is about many things, she is right about this. Today is my mother’s birthday and I hope that she understands the story she’s writing through.

The Mater has spent the majority of her professional life animating Small Church Communities in the Denver area and nationally. Though it has always been fulfilling to her, the work hasn’t always been easy but she remains dedicated to it. An acknowledged expert in the field, mom has written books, served on national boards, consulted with parishes across the country and brought people closer to God and to one another through her work. That’s a pretty significant chapter.

She is a wonderful friend and amazing support to the people in her life. She is a note writer – cards and thank you letters and short missives – and she maintains connections with people easily and readily. She is still in regular correspondence with a former neighbor who moved away over 30 years ago. Her friendship connects with scenes in many others’ stories.

The Mater was a terrific daughter to her very own Pater and Mater and, and loved and cared for my grandmother until the day Grandma died. This part of her story fills more than one chapter.

Growing up, I learned what it means to be in a strong marriage in the lab that was my parents’ house. My parents lived one of the best love stories I’ve ever witnessed and it’s clearly not over, even though Dad is no longer with us. This story doesn’t ever end.

She has three children. She has three children-in-law. She has seven grandchildren. She tries to get us all together as often as she can. I would guess she would call her role as “Mom” the most significant one of her life. As a mother, Mom has shown us, over-and-over, what unconditional love really is. She is interested in whatever my sisters and I are interested in. She wants to know about our lives and our days and our spouses and our work. Her grandchildren love her and she listens to their stories and asks them questions and is often bemused by what they are doing and what they have to say. The Mater would tell you that there is nothing more important in her life than family. This is how she lives.

So, Happy Birthday, Mom. Take some time out today to think about and enjoy your own story. Those of us who are characters in it certainly do!

family

The family circa 1980-Something.

 

Mom and me 2

Me and Mom… I think we’ve both had better looks.

 

Mom CUA

Me and The Mater in one of my college dorm rooms.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Family

The Stand – A Book Review

The_Stand_Uncut

Photo from amazon.com.

Stephen King’s The Stand is an expansive work. In character, plot and theme, King’s novel asks very big questions about the nature of good and evil, how people relate to one another, how societies rise and fall and how meaning is found in life. The Stand is characterized as a “horror” novel and King himself is often brushed off as a writer of terrible tales and schlock literature. Perhaps, at points in his career, this has been true. When King was cranking out a novel each October, the quality was not always wonderful. I suspect King would admit this himself.

But, in recent years, as King has allowed himself to publish when he’s ready, not when the publisher is, the work has been outstanding. One of my favorite novels of the last decade is his 11/22/63. You can read my review HERE. And, though it’s a great book, excerpts from it are probably are not going to appear in any anthologies in the future. It’s a good read. Not a literary one.

The Stand is literary. Excerpts from The Stand certainly will be anthologized. The book is that good.

Anyone who dismisses The Stand simply as horror or a thriller is utterly missing the point.

I understand King took years to compose this novel. I have heard he started it and abandoned it multiple times. I know he intended it to be a great statement of himself as an author.

The Stand is the best of his work and it proves him a wonderful author of American novels. At his best, he’s up there with his contemporaries: John Irving, Pat Conroy, Toni Morrison and Phillip Roth.

The Stand is King at his very, very best.

Ambitious and sprawling, The Stand rises above every single convention it embraces.

Is it horror? There are certainly elements of horror from gruesome violence described in graphic detail to impossible magic done at impossible times to malevolent forces ranging across the country.

Is it a thriller? King creates amazing set pieces – creative and compelling – that keep the reader excited and engaged. One’s heart does, indeed, race at certain points during the narrative. It’s powerful stuff King is packing, powerful and thrilling.

Is it post-apocalyptic? With the entire country (and the entire world?) ravaged by an Army-created plague and population reduced by over 99%, it is very much a story of the end of the world.

But The Stand is so much more than these parts.

Though the plot actually takes just over three months to run its course, the breadth of the book feels much longer. King introduces character-after-character who capture and hold a reader’s attention completely. Interwoven in the plot, each character has enough “screen time” to make an impression and to add to the complex narrative that The Stand is. Literally,there are over a hundred characters in the book, ranging from major to minor, each of whom is utilized by King to advance the central theme of the novel: There is good. There is evil. People have a choice of which to follow.

Following a plague of “Super Flu,” American society begins to reform in Boulder, Colorado and in Las Vegas, Nevada. Care to guess which city is the locus of Evil and which is the locus of Good? The survivors of the plague are draw by their dreams either to Mother Abigail in Boulder or Randal Flagg (“The Dark Man” or “The Walkin’ Dude”). In Vegas, there is law and order and electricity all directed by an iron fist. In Boulder, there is a community trying to give its citizenry a voice. Clumsily. Inevitably, the two will clash, one looking to overcome the other.

It is in this conflict that King underscores the themes of the book for Randal Flagg’s minions are very clear about what they will do. Evil exists to wipe out Good. In Boulder, Mother Abigail’s followers are much less sure of their approach. Should they hope for the best? Should they confront Flagg? Should they send spies or emissaries?  Should they leave well enough alone.

Evil knows its course whereas Good seems unable to find its path until it engages in a series of moral compromises that leaves it wondering if it’s any better than the evil it opposes.

It’s a thought-provoking conundrum that King brings to life against the backdrop of a modern-day re-telling of the Book of Revelations. The central trick of the novel is that King populates both cities with every-person characters with whom the reader can identify and for whom the reader can feel sympathy. Good people do bad things. Bad people do good things. Their motivations are the framework around which King constructs the novel.

I read the abridged edition over 20 year ago and returned to the story two months back, unabridged version on tap. I don’t remember enough of the first published version of the work to compare the two, but I can say that the expanded edition seemed rich and full and did not drag at all. Each scene and each character felt a necessary edition to the plot. It’s long, but I love long books. I love to spend time with intriguing characters and get invested in them.

The Stand asks for an investment. The pay off is worth it.

If you’ve avoided Stephen King but have wondered what all the fuss is about, give The Stand a try. Select either the abridged or the unabridged version. You won’t be disappointed.

And, sometime soon, a review of It is in order!

The Stand receives FIVE BOULDER SUNRISES out of a possible five.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

And There Came 40 (??!!??) Superhero Movies Between Today and 2020? What?

Uh, what? Is this too much of a good thing?

I mean, for me, the answer is obviously “no,” but 40 superhero movies?  That’s a lot. If there are some box office failures in here, and there are sure to be, this slate will be pruned. But, wow! Bring ‘em on!

Graphic from comicsalliance.com

Graphic from comicsalliance.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Comic Books, Movies

And There Came An Avengers: Age Of Ultron Trailer!

Age of Ultron

Well, that was unexpected! Planning to release the teaser for the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron during an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel Films, perhaps in an attempt to undercut all of the leaked trailers that popped up online yesterday (or, more likely, part of a viral master plan), shared the teaser themselves yesterday.

YOU MUST watch it!

If you really want to nerd out and go in-depth, read comicbookmovie.com’s breakdown of the trailer HERE.

And, if you’re not satisfied still, you can see over 50 high-resolution screen captures from the teaser HERE. These are also from comicbookmovie.com.

Oh, and they missed a few things in their breakdown. Look HERE for rampant speculation about the movie!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Comic Books, Movies, Superheroes

Prayers and Celebration Today

A few weeks back, I wrote about Mr. Jim Skerl, a teacher from Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland who was bravely facing the end of his life.

Today, Jim passed away. You can read about his passing HERE.

As you go into prayer today, please think of Jim Skerl.

"Empty Tomb" relief by John Marr from www.johnmarr.com.

“Empty Tomb” relief by John Marr from http://www.johnmarr.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Prayer, Religion

Morning Habits Of Happy People

I consider myself a morning person. I don’t need a lot of sleep. I like to get up early. I like to exercise in the dark.

As it turns out, according to lifehack.com, I am doing a few things right. I am doing a few things that make me a more happy person.

Lifehack’s list of the 10 Morning Habits of Happy People can be read HERE.

I am going to try to incorporate more of these suggestions!

Leave a comment

Filed under Anecdote

Action Comics #1 … Incredible Video Of A 3.2 Million Dollar Comic Book!

Action Comics #1 marked the first appearance of Superman. It may not have ushered in the superhero era of comics (I, for one, contend that it did), but it certainly started what is called The Golden Age of Comics.

When previously undiscovered copies of this comic book are surfaced, it’s actually news. Truly. As this comic came out in 1938, finding copies is uncommon. Finding one in great condition is almost impossible.

That’s what makes a recent discovery of it so amazing.

A story you MUST read HERE, details the circumstances in which one of the most highly preserved copies of the comic was discovered (and sold for $3.2 million). What makes this post from kottke.org so special is that it includes video of the comic. It looks like someone picked it up off a newsstand. Yesterday.

So cool… I wish I could find one!

Action_Comics_1

Leave a comment

Filed under Comic Books, Superheroes