Archive for stephen king

Pearce Family Holiday Drawings: Halloween 2016

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2016 by Christopher Pearce


Every year, I do a Halloween drawing of my family on social media. This year, I took a page from one of my favorite Stephen King books (‘Salem’s Lot is definitely in my Top Three). I was a little dubious about this being THE Halloween drawing, since it doesn’t directly connect to the season, but whatever!

You can see the rest of the holiday drawings over the year here.

Chalkboard Drawings: The “Halloween Countdown, Part IV″ edition

Posted in chalkboard drawings with tags , , , , , on October 27, 2013 by Christopher Pearce

I draw a picture of myself on my classroom’s chalkboard everyday. I collect those pictures as camera phone photos and post them on Sundays. See the rest here.




We’re kind of running through a grab-bag of leftover monsters this week. Pennywise the Clown is an interesting one that kind of lives on through re-runs of the IT miniseries on the SyFy Channel… which is strange because, while it was pretty good for its’ time, the actual movie doesn’t hold up too well.

The Gillman from The Creature from the Black Lagoon and King Kong are two of my favorites but they’ve never screamed “Halloween” to me, Kong especially. Still, since they are technically in that genre, they make the cut.


I was just a little lazy on Friday.

odds and ends: data, cujo, cabin

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

We are in that weird twilight period between holidays, where it’s hard to start anything new and in-depth with my classes because of external forces. Besides only having seven (SEVEN) school days until Thanksgiving break, there are other things going on at my school. We are being asked to administer benchmark assessments next week in our classrooms. In effect, I won’t be teaching for three days next week because I’ll be a standardized test proctor. It’s all in the name of student data!


As a fan of Stephen King, I’ve been enjoying James Smythe’s think pieces on the author’s ouvere for The Guardian. Smythe is reading King’s novels in order of their publication and providing his running commentary on the themes and ideas engaged within each one. I don’t know if there’s a lot of new ground being covered here (his latest look at Cujo doesn’t provide any deep insight on the parallels between the novel and King’s admitted addictions during its’ creation) but sometimes it’s good to read a smart person discoursing intelligently on a topic you are likewise interested in reading about.


Staying on the horror kick, Ellen and I got around to seeing The Cabin in the Woods a few weekends back.

Folks who read Odds and Ends regularly know my lovely wife is a recent convert to the works of Joss Whedon… but she’s not much of a horror movie fan. I thought this one would be a tough sell for her but we popped it in the DVD player and ended up having a hell of a good time with the flick. It’s a bit more “meta” than I like my horror but since the Scream franchise got rolling, it’s hard not to insert some commentary within the structure of these kinds of films.

It’s an enjoyable movie in some respects in the same ways people enjoyed Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. When you watch Dr. Strangelove, a part of you is actively rooting for that bomb to be dropped on the Soviets. In that same way, a lot of me was rooting for Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins’ characters to get their job done. It’s a sly comment on our own roles as horror movie fans, watching the latest slasher flick and getting excited for the monster to attack the virginal prom queen.

Anyway, good movie, I recommend it.

odds and ends: new fall tv season, roadwork

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

The new fall TV season is here and… yeah, whatever. I’ve fallen out of watching television in a big bad way in the last few years. My favorites are either criminally underwatched (Parks and Recreation) or getting a little long in the tooth (How I Met Your Mother, PLEASE let this be the last season). Most of the new offerings from the networks aren’t filling me with excitement, but I’ve sampled a couple.

Partners (CBS): A lousy show with gags that feel like they were pulled from a 1995 Joke Book. Still… despite its’ lousiness, I think the show will be a success. Quality has never been a requirement for a CBS sitcom and Partners is a very familiar riff on stuff that’s been done a thousand times before. I won’t watch it again, but I expect it will have a decent run.

The Mindy Project (FOX): As weird as it sounds, I was looking forward to Mindy Kaling’s solo series this year for a simple reason: Kaling, for her last three years on The Office, has insisted on writing that show’s holiday episodes. I find that fact very telling; the type of TV she enjoys creating would likely be the type of show I’d be interested in watching. I know it’s a silly reason to give The Mindy Project a shot… but there it is.

The pilot of The Mindy Project was WAAAAAY too busy for me. Just… stuff going on left, right and center. The main character is revealed in a flashback, she’s in jail, she goes on a date, she does surgery, she has office banter… it’s a ridiculous amount of stuff to cram into one episode. I think the show has some potential and the scenes where the actors are given a moment to breathe show promise. I’m going to keep watching.

Ben and Kate (FOX): What The Mindy Project got wrong, Ben and Kate got right. The show paces itself and feels lived-in. The titular relationship between a wayward older brother and a responsible younger sister has a quality about it that makes the viewer feel like there’s backstory here to be explored. The concept isn’t so overwrought that it takes 22 minutes to explain. I could see good things from this show and I’m interested in continuing to watch.

It’s sort of ironic however: though I genuinely think Ben and Kate is the best of these new sitcoms… I also think it stands the least chance of being a success. It doesn’t have a great timeslot to support it, it doesn’t have the “WOW” factor that The Mindy Project has. I hope I’m wrong and that it gets a chance to do some episodes; I’d watch them.

I haven’t sampled many dramas this season but I have the first two episodes of NBC’s Revolution saved on my laptop- maybe I can get to them this weekend.


Finally finished It this week and the book… man, I’ve changed a lot since I read that book as a 7th grader. What once seemed well thought-out and majestic now just feels awkward and strange. The best parts about the book on this revisit were Stephen King’s world building. As a kid, I never appreciated how fully realized the town of Derry was. King bends over backwards to give the place a history and a presence many fictional towns do not possess. I was impressed by that.

Also on the King front, I’ve been listening to Roadwork, one of his earlier novels written under the nom de plume Richard Bachman.

It’s a sour little novel about a guy whose world is turned upside down when the laws of eminent domain lead an interstate to being built through both his home and his place of work. As a character piece Roadwork is a decent thing – Bart Dawes’ slow descent into madness/victimization of circumstance is rolled out in a way where the reader remains sympathetic with him, all the way to the end. King/Bachaman does some artful things where the reasons for Dawes “insanity” aren’t always spelled out, but can be deduced through context.

It doesn’t change my feelings about the book, however. You spend half your time genuinely wishing Bart would just go to a fucking therapist and get over it… and the other half of the novel, you’re dealing with ridiculous things like King’s use of an underground mafia character named Sal Magliori. The Magliori sections of the book are just so tone deaf and silly it’s hard to get past them. I can’t recommend the book but I guess it’s an interesting stop-gap on King’s early years. It’s a little on the nose that at one point Dawes describes himself (I’m paraphrasing here) as a character in a bad writer’s book. At this point in King’s career… Dawes is exactly that.

odds and ends: scooby doo, it

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , on September 14, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

A quick word of thanks to all of you who’ve been so kind in the past two weeks toward my wife Ellen and I. Ellen’s father Ken passed away last week; while his passing was not unexpected, it’s never easy to lose a parent. Ken lived a long, eventful life and although I met him in his “twilight” years, I’ll always remember him as being an affable man who resisted the tempting urge to beat me up when he found out I had gotten his youngest daughter pregnant.

I missed a BIG chunk of school because of the funeral arrangements – three days, plus one extra day of already scheduled professional development. It’s the second longest stretch of time I’ve ever been out of the classroom during the school year and certainly having it happen so close to the beginning of the first quarter will end up being something of a challenge as we go forward.


Well, it finally happened – my boys have discovered Scooby Doo.

I am AMAZED at the longevity Scooby Doo enjoys, especially in light of the fact that almost nobody my age remembers The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, the show from which all the characters on Scooby Doo, Where Are You? are lifted.

I myself was a huge fan of Shaggy, Velma, and company when I was a kid. I have vivid memories of my father egging me on into loud paroxysms of annoyance when he’d come home and tell me he thought Scooby Doo, in his words, “stinks.” How I would howl in protest… but time has once again proven my father to be correct. Scooby Doo does kind of stink.

Of course, it has charm! The character designs remain top shelf and some of the voice work is spot-on. I’m just shocked at how… similar every episode of Scooby Doo is from one another. I remember them being quite distinct from one another in my mind’s eye, but watching two or three episodes just reaffirms the sameness that pervades most of the episodes.

Also, has there ever been an episode of Scooby Doo in ANY of its’ dozens of incarnations where the writers actually play fair with the mystery element of the show? I know most children at home aren’t aspiring sleuths, but most of the solutions to the mysteries in the episodes we’ve watched make no good sense. I’d love to watch a Scooby Doo series where the writers paid more careful attention to the mystery parts of the series. Maybe that version of the show exists somewhere! Let me know if it does; I’d eagerly watch that with Elliot and Henry on a weekday afternoon.


After the Dune debacle of this past summer, I thought it might be time to retreat into some comfort reading for awhile. I chose It by Stephen King. I’m a fan of King’s work and I remember loving It when I read it in seventh grade.

King’s always copped to being more of a writer of “the moment” than he would like and for sure, a lot of his books provide a window into what was going on in America during whatever time his novel was written. Sometimes this serves his books well- ‘Salem’s Lot holds up remarkably well as years go on in its’ portrayal of a small town disintegrating in the face of forces it can barely comprehend. That idea works great in the 1970’s, ’80’s, ’90’s, and today.

It, however… It doesn’t seem to have aged well so far. The book seems to have “everything and the kitchen sink” thrown in and while that can be interesting to read, It never seems to focus very hard on anything in particular. That’s a flaw.

I’m interested as to what it’s going to be like to read the ending of It again as an adult. I don’t want to spoil what happens in the book, but suffice to say… King writes a REALLY strange ending for his youthful protagonists in 1957. He devises a means by which the group of seven pre-teens can keep their bond intact after facing the titular monster of the novel… and it’s downright strange. As a seventh grader, that weird ending sort of washed over me; today I’m curious to see what my reaction will be.

odds and ends: the stand, the strand, and other stuff

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but I’m horrible about promoting myself. I’m going to be teaching a class about drawing comics for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders on Saturday, August 11th at Pop Revolution Gallery and Framing. The class is going to involve lessons on designing characters, brainstorming ideas, and drawing finished comics. Check out the website!



I’m still enjoying it, but it’s been years since I’ve hit upon a novel where, no matter how much I read, there still seems to be 200 pages left to go.

I suppose part of my slow-going stems from trying to read Dune while visiting the beach with my family. With two young children, you get to read about a paragraph and a half before you have to look up and tell the younger one to stop eating sand, or the older one not to feed the younger one sand, no matter how much the younger one says that he likes it.

Ellen’s been reading The Stand for the first time and I’m sort of jealous of her. I’ve been trying to get her to read the book for years; it’s one of my favorites and I’ve probably read it about 10 times. Through a series of goofy circumstances I detailed here, she started the book while we were down the shore. I’m a little jealous of her getting to read a book I’ve read so many times with new eyes!


Ellen and I also managed to see both of the big superhero movies to come out in the last month. We took in The Amazing Spider-Man while we were down the shore and saw The Dark Knight Rises last weekend.

Comparing the two flicks doesn’t really do either justice; they’re both aiming for different targets and the methods and means by which they hit those marks will obviously not be the same. That being said, I felt the same way about both movies. They were good but flawed. Just thought I’d mention.


One more book thing, and then I’m done. While in New York City, I visited my favorite bookstore, The Strand. I was a bit disappointed with what I found- somewhere between my yearly visits, The Strand has changed from a pure used book store to a true book store. You can pick up brand new books for full price! Heresy! The best part about going to The Strand as a teenager was buying books dirt cheap! I guess I can’t fault the place for wanting to make a buck, but it seems a little sad to me.

The Strand does still have the used books you understand, they’ve just scaled back quite a bit. I managed to find one out of print comic collection for which I’ve been searching for what seems like years.

Published in 2000, A DC Universe Christmas collects many of DC Comics’ most famous Yuletide stories. You all know I’m a big fan of Christmas comics, so when I heard this existed, I immediately started scouring used book stores and comic conventions to no joy. My favorite Superman/Christmas story is not collected here, but there are many other great stories to enjoy, including an early Frank Miller take on Batman and a weird Legion of Super-Heroes tale where the LoSH try to hunt down the star that hung over Bethlehem on the First Christmas!

Like I said, it’s out of print and I had a hard time running it down… but if you have the means and the interest, it’s a nice package.

odds and ends

Posted in odds and ends, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 11, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

I have to admit, this “light week” has been good for my soul. I’ve been doing a lot more goofing around in my sketchbook and started to get a headway on some summer comics. Teaching comics will resume next week, but I’m fairly certain it will be the last run of them for the 2011-2012 school year. God willing, I’ll use the summer to recharge and start them back up again in September.


From the library last week, I picked up The Wind through the Keyhole, Stephen King’s latest foray into his Dark Tower series of novels.

Although the seven book series ended in 2004, King decided to go back and insert this short story between the fourth and fifth entries. I’m not finished with the book yet; I usually wait until I’ve completely read a book before I go on the Internet and comment about it. I’m still not going to comment much on the story, which is slight but enjoyable, an untold tale of Roland when he was a young man which wraps around a fairytale like story.

I just wanted to mention how distinctly weird this book makes me feel. It’s so strange to be revisiting these characters again, especially Roland’s ka-tet (consisting of Jake, Eddie, Susannah, and Oy). The Dark Tower series ends those characters’ stories on a pretty definitive note and I had made my peace with not seeing them appear again. To have some new material where I get to spend a little more time in Mid-World is brilliant… but like I said, it makes feel sort of… strange.

Luckily “strange” is probably an emotion King would welcome.


As a fan of the first series, I’m completely happy that PBS is currently airing Season Two of BBC’s Sherlock, the modern updating of the classic detective series.

The three episodes PBS is airing this month have long since premiered over in Britain and most people I know with interest in the show torrented and watched these episodes months ago.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode, a riff on A Scandal in Bohemia which (like the original text) features Irene Adler, the only woman to ever best Sherlock Holmes. I expect I will enjoy the next two episodes as well… however, I wanted to bring up Sherlock for an entirely different reason.

I mentioned how much I liked the first season of Sherlock in February of 2011. For some reason or another, that post generates a TREMENDOUS amount of traffic for this blog. There are no revelatory experiences related, it’s not an amazing piece of writing… but still, people are CONSTANTLY stumbling on the blog by doing a search for “BBC Sherlock” or “Benedict Cumberbatch” or whatever.

It’s an anomaly I’ve always been curious about. Perhaps it will be replicated here?

2011-2012 school year: what the kids are readin’

Posted in 2011-2012 school year with tags , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

I did one of these comics a few years ago. I always meant to make them a regular thing, but haven’t ever had the chance. Funnily enough, if you look at that strip, you’ll see some similar panel compositions!

odds and ends

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

Ah, Black Friday. Some folks look forward to it even more than Thanksgiving. As I’ve mentioned before, being wretchedly poor severely curtails both a person’s ability and interest to stand in line for five hours to buy a $200 dollar laptop computer or whatever. I’ve never been big on venturing out on Black Friday until we moved to Ohio and I started frequenting Half-Price Books. Since then, I’ve been in regular attendance at their Black Friday sale wherein the first 100 shoppers receive a $5 dollar gift card. Book lovers aren’t like people looking for a good value on flat screen televisions; you’re not apt to be trampled to death by someone who’s looking for paperbacks.

That being said, there is ONE non-literary Black Friday deal I would consider pursuing. Target seems to have excellent deals on DVDs throughout Friday and according to many advertisements, it looks as if they will have every season of Gilmore Girls on sale for $8 bucks today.

I am a great fan of Gilmore Girls and yes, I am in possession of a Y chromosome. An ex-girlfriend of mine started me on watching GG during my college years; I expected the show to be a candy-colored nightmare based on the premise (They’re mother and daughter… and they’re BEST FRIENDS!). Imagine my surprise to discover the incredible depth of character that series’ creator Amy Sherman-Palladino infused in Gilmore Girls. Further, GG was often laugh-out-loud hilarious, with mile a minute dialogue that put one in mind of the screwball comedies of the 1940’s.

I’m looking to pick up Season Five of Gilmore Girls; I already have Seasons 3 and 4. S.5 is, from what I gather, a controversial season. Fans were (rightfully) invested in the relationship between Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) and knocked for a loop when S.5 diverged from the usual happy pattern to find the mother/daughter at loggerheads for much of the season. Fans were upset, but I could never figure out the reason why, as the Lorelai/Rory split allowed room for Lorelai’s budding romance with curmudgeonly diner owner Luke Danes to blossom.

God, I sound like such a weeny in the above paragraph! Look, trust me- it’s a good show. I’m not anxious to fight the legions of deal-lust-crazy shoppers to snag a set, but if I was going to venture out to a big box store on Black Friday, I might be tempted.


I’m in the thick of Stephen King‘s newest novel, 11/23/63 right now and I’m enjoying it immensely.

11/23/63’s high concept (time traveling man goes back to prevent the assassination of J.F.K.) is fun, but I’m far more interested in the subtext of the novel. It shares quite a bit in common with my other two favorite novels of 2011, 2030 by Albert Brooks and Ready Player One by Ernie Cline.

In all three of these novels, there is a pervasive feeling of hopelessness for the future and wistfulness for the past. Both Cline and Brooks’ books are set in the bloated future of the United States of America, where problems are intractable and conflict is inevitable. King’s novel takes place in the past, but the main characters machinations intend to change the course of history in a way such that America will not end up in this sorry state. All three books convey a sense of defeatism for the United States and its’ position on the world stage.  King, Brooks, and Cline seem to be of the same mind: America’s best years have passed her by and the next century is set to be uncomfortable and ugly.

Although two of the three novels end in an ultimately hopeful fashion (I’m not yet finished with 11/23/63), I found it interesting this message was baked into the core concepts of these books. They’re not deep ruminations on the state of world affairs; they’re ultimately light entertainment. Still, I can’t help but wonder… did every generation feel this hopeless and bleak about the future? I honestly don’t think they did, but I miss optimism in my fantasy literature. Perhaps I am simply reading the wrong books.


One more thing: As with last year, Thrift Store Finds are going on hiatus for the next few weeks. Replacing it will be the Christmas Comics Cavalcade!

Tomorrow and every Saturday leading up to Christmas, I’ll take a look at some holiday themed comic books. I really enjoyed writing those posts last year and I thought I’d make it a yearly thing!

odds and ends

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , on September 23, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

I must be honest and tell you folks this has not been the most illuminating week of teaching I’ve ever executed. I spent three of the last five work days administering a standardized test… and the last two days were my classes playing catch up. I don’t hold out great hope for next week either, which features a day given to taking the 9th grade for hearing and vision screenings, to say nothing of the craziness of Homecoming. Hopefully I can squeeze in a lesson or two at some point before October.


I thought this was interesting. FOX is trying to figure out a way to make an all Simpsons cable channel, somewhere down the line.

I don’t know if something like this is likely, or just an idea that FOX executives are kicking around. I will say it make me think about the current state of Simpsons syndication, which absolutely annoys the hell out of me. I don’t know what the syndication package looks like when it’s offered around, but there are over 400 episodes of The Simpsons right now. That’s more than enough to air one Simpsons episode a night for a year and never have any repeats. Yet, for some reason, our local FOX affiliate seems dedicated to airing only episodes from the last two or three seasons.

I understand the reasons why this might be done… the older episodes probably don’t look as good on HD TVs, they’ve already been aired a million times, DVD sales and whatnot… I get all that. Still, it seems like SUCH a wasted opportunity… especially going into October. At this point, you could air almost a full MONTH of Treehouse of Horror episodes for Halloween!


I was excited to read that Hard Case Crime, the beautifully presented crime paperback series, will be returning to stores this week with four new books. HCC’s book designs are top shelf, featuring  all the hyperbolic copy and lurid artwork that defined the genre for many years.

Although crime fiction has gone somewhat upscale, these books are fondly fashioned to resemble the genre’s paperback heyday. I was a little concerned when I began to see some of the Hard Case paperbacks show up remaindered in our local Big Lots, but it looks as though this was just a temporary setback on the part of publisher Charles Ardai.

I am guessing the most popular (or at least, the most well known) Hard Case Crime paperback was a one-off that Stephen King did called The Colorado Kid.

I wasn’t a tremendous fan of that book, but Hard Case has gone out of its’ way to publish a ton of new authors as well as some genuine classics from Donald E. Westlake, Lawrence Block, and Mickey Spillaine. If I had to pick a favorite book out of the series though… if I had to pick just one of these for you to sample… I would choose The Last Quarry by Max Allan Collins.

Quarry (the protagonist’s nom de plume) is sort of a blue collar hitman. Collins fashions him as a no-nonsense guy who just wants to do his job and get paid… and in The Last Quarry, he doesn’t even really want to do that. He’s semi-retired. I imagine that the Quarry series found some new life through Hard Case Crime; Collins had penned several stories featuring the character over the years, but did several full-length books through HCC with the character, working backwards from The Last Quarry to The First Quarry onto Quarry in the Middle… and now HCC’s releasing Quarry’s Ex this month!

Worth reading. They’re great, trashy fun.