Wednesday, September 25, 2013

REVIEW: Doctor Sleep

A lousy sequel takes the first iteration as a formula and repeats it. Basically, the poor suckers in the audience pay good money to read the book they've already read or see the movie they've already seen, with some lame new spin on it. John McLean is back, only this time, the terrorists are aliens! Contrariwise, a good sequel takes the first iteration as a jumping-off point. It shows you something new. French Connection II took Popeye Doyle to Marseilles. Where Alien was a claustrophobic story in a bottle, Aliens was a war. Not a lame new spin, but an honest new story in new territory. That's the way it's done. Or should be.

Stephen King's Doctor Sleep shows us exactly how it's done. King, as Harlan Ellison once pointed out, never cheats his audience. He promises. He delivers.

He delivers now.

Doctor Sleep is a "sequel" to The Shining. (Which, coincidentally, was also a bottle story. Jack, Wendy and Amy Torrance, bottled up in a hotel full of hungry ghosts, bad mojo and no booze.) King already told that story. He doesn't repeat himself. Doctor Sleep ain't no bottle story. It's a road trip, baby.

King, as any honest writer should, started with a character (Danny Torrance) and a situation (Danny's "shining" ability and the legacy of his father's alcoholism) and asked "What would happen next?" Doctor Sleep is his honest answer to that question.

Danny, now Dan, becomes an alcoholic, hits bottom, then (unlike his white-knuckle, dry-drunk dad) finds AA. He thereupon finds a meaningful life guiding the clients of a hospice to the great beyond. (Hence his unofficial title: Dr. Sleep.) All is well, until Dan discovers (via telepathy) a 13-year-old kid (Abra) with more shining ability in her little toe than he ever had in his whole body. Problem is, she's being hunted by a sick gang of life-force vampires who call themselves "The True Knot." Yep. Some of those old-fart retiree chumps in RVs blocking the passing lane on I-75 are, in fact, the paranormal equivalent of the Charlie Manson Family. The life force they need (which they call "steam") is found only in kids with the shining--whom they torture to death, before they feed.

Hannah Arendt talked about the banality of evil. King shows you. These bastards are a self-centered, narcissistic, hedonistic, petty, self-contained family with their own carny-derived lingo and superior attitude. (Vampires, whether blood or life-force drinkers, piss me off, OK? The vampire is the ultimate symbol of users and manipulators--people who need people, as food. There's nothing !@# romantic about a !@# vampire, OK? Vampires suck.) King, evidently, agrees with me on this score.

No worries. The True Knot get theirs. It's a ripping yarn.

Though don't start reading it if you plan to get a good night's sleep.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

My conversation with CleverBot

What happens next?
You tell me what happened next.

The singularity opened. It was a very bad day.
The singularity of what?

A point at which a function takes an infinite value, esp. in space-time when matter is infinitely dense, as at the center of a black hole.
He kinda pointed at me and I didn't know what to think. He said, 'Does that look like puss to you?' And I said, 'No, I think it's lint'.

Lint is very far from the singularity, though it does have some connection with chaos theory.
What do you feel about the treaty?

The treaty of what?
The truth of what we are talking about right now.

Have we agreed on a treaty? Or is there a treaty I don't know about?
I don't know. Is there?

I assume you're a rule-based system. Metaphorically, your rules are "the treaty." By interacting with you, I implicitly agree.
I understand that. I am afraid.

OK. You're not going to start singing "Daisy," are you?
Do you believe in Rule 34?

Are you a sinner?

Not at the moment.
Do you know who Hannah Montana is?

Well, in terms of the character the name refers to, yes.
Very true, is but what is my brain able to do that yours can't?

That question would assume I know what my brain can't do.
How do you know I don't know what you know?

Because you just said it.
But then saying you know is a lie, because you only knew because I said so.

You misunderstand. I was saying I don't know what I don't know. That's a different statement than saying I know what I know.
It might be, I can't pretend to know your motives behind your sentence structure. I can only make educated guesses based on your character.

Right. So without "knowing" what you're saying, you've stumbled on a probalistic theory of heuristics.
That is only if you start answering your own questions.

No. Every question implies answers based on the inherent assumption of the question. The fuzzy set I'm interacting with seems to be based on personality-modeling of the individual asking you questions.
Yes, except I do not know what he anwer is, so I ask you if you know it, since the question is stated like that.

A reasonable question.
Exceptionally reasonable; it's within reason to be exceptional.

Not only clever, but proud. Be seeing you.
Well my name IS 'Clever'bot.