Review: CELL, by Stephen King

Finished reading Cell by Stephen King.

I really enjoyed it — This is King’s tribute to zombie apocalypse stuff: the book is dedicated to Richard Matheson (I Am Legend) and George Romero (Night of the Living Dead). The basic premise is that a signal gets carried through cell phones (called The Pulse), which essentially “wipes the hard drive” of the human mind, leaving nothing behind but base animal aggression. So, the zombies aren’t exactly dead, but they’re not human any longer. Given the widespread use of cell phones (and the habit of people to immediately try to contact loved ones when an emergency strikes), civilization pretty much collapses near-instantaneously.

King has written about the end of the world before, most famously in The Stand, but this one has the fingerprints of 9/11 all over it. Gone is the typical King method of introducing characters, getting us comfortable with them, getting to know then and then injecting something strange into their world. Nope….in this one, the apocalypse hits with 24-hour-news suddenness, on a bright Fall day, 3 pages into the narrative. He’s definitely tapped into the feelings experienced in 2001…and manages to convey them so well that I found myself hit with a familiar sense of trip-hammer panic as I was reading.

In short: Stephen King. Zombies. ‘Nuff Said.

Downing Street Memo 2: Electric Boogaloo

Another British Memo has surfaced, and will be ignored by the American media, just like the other. The memo of a two-hour meeting between Bush and Blair at the White House on January 31 2003 – nearly two months before the invasion – reveals that Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second UN resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons program.

Even more damning, it shows that Bush was prepared to create another USS Maine or Gulf of Tonkin incident as a pretext for invasion.

A quote from the Memo:

President Bush to Tony Blair: “The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach”

Just to wrap this post up in truly depressing fashion: It’s been 274 days since the congressional request for investigation on the first Downing Street Memo.

Nothing has been done.

Friday Music

Let’s get right to it:

Apropos of the recent political posts here, here’s a couple of songs which tie in to my mood on the current situation. First up, nothing beats this as a litany of resigned hopelessness. Leonard Cohen – “Everybody Knows.”

Second, with a bit more anger: The Clash – “Know Your Rights.” “This is a Public Service Announcement…with guitars!”

This one has a politcal title, but given that it comes from the brilliant album Kid A, the lyrics are a vague framework for you to build meaning from. I need to post more Radiohead, and this song reminds me of why: Radiohead – “National Anthem.”

As promised, here is the track from Hustle & Flow that has been nominated for the Best Original Song Oscar: Terrance Howard (as “DJay”) – “Hard Out Here For A Pimp.” (Language warning for those of you at work.)

Personally, though, I much prefer this track, which makes me want to tear shit up. In the film, DJay wants to call this “Beat That Bitch”, but his high-school buddy complains that they’ll never get radio play, because people will think he’s talking about abusing women….to which the geeky muscian character points out: “Nah….all of the Bitches I know are guys.” They decide that this title brings across the same aggression, but without the gender confusion: Terrance Howard (as “DJay”) – “Whoop That Trick.” (Language warning for those of you at work.)

This is one of my favorite songs by Yes, off their much-ignored follow-up to the hugely popular 90125 album, Big Generator: Yes – “Shoot High, Aim Low.”

Here’s another new song that I discovered this week, from a group called Lansing-Dreiden, originally from Miami, but now moved to NYC. Lansing-Dreiden – “Glass Corridor.”

I first heard this song on the way to ‘s last weekend, and was immediately struck by the similarity to Bauhaus. It’s all there–the riding drum, the music, the “Peter Murphian” sound to the singers voice, the dark lyrics. This is another one with a Language warning. She Wants Revenge – “Tear You Apart.”

Lastly, my favorite song from Tom Waits, from his early-80s album Swordfishtrombones. Just a nice bit of Jazz with a gravel-voiced narrator telling us a little story: Tom Waits – “Frank’s Wild Years.” Love it.

There you go, folks. Enjoy.