November 11, 2010

Veteran's Discounts and Under the Dome

There are so many embarrassing Veterans Day discounts today. Have you seen any? I saw "10% off earrings for all our servicepeople!" and "Veterans: show ID and get $5 off oil change!" *WINCE* It would be far better to have NO discount. "Thanks for risking your life in other countries far away from your families! Here, have a free value-size fries (when you pay full price for the burger and drink) (must show military ID)!"


I finished all 1,000 pages of Under the Dome, and I am ready to report:

1. It felt like a recipe: one part apocalyptic scenario, one part bad cops, one part crazy religion, one part descending into madness, one part power corrupts, one part supernatural, one part social/environmental lecture. I've read a lot of Stephen King books, so it's not really HIS fault I kept recognizing his recurring themes.

2. It didn't seem real. It felt like he was saying, "Okay, now I guess we should have a supermarket riot," "Okay, now there should be a nasty murder," "Okay, now there should be the discovery of something gross," and bringing people out of their houses to participate. I felt like most of the characters were in their houses in a state of suspended animation, waiting for him to need them for a scene. Why weren't more of them hanging around at the edge of the dome? Why didn't we hear more about the agitation of the family members stuck outside? Why didn't people make arrangements for their dog before killing themselves? Why DIDN'T people buy up everything at the supermarket, considering that's what they do if even HEAVY RAIN is in the forecast? And you know, if you (the author) keep having to have people shake their heads in astonishment at how FAST everything happened, then maybe that is a clue that it IS IN FACT happening too fast.

3. He needs help naming his characters. Their names often don't fit their ages, and it happens often enough to be confusing. In fiction, names can be a valuable way to help the reader keep track of who's who. And it's nice to give the characters names that are different enough from each other that the reader doesn't get the characters confused. Oh, sure, I know that in real life there can be a girl in her twenties named Barbara and co-workers named Bill Borfen and Bob Biffan, but in FICTION we can CHOOSE the names, so LET'S DO A CAREFUL JOB SHALL WE?

4. The only part of the ending that was a surprise to me was in the afterword where he thanks his editor. His EDITOR. I mean, I knew he MUST have one but there are so many jokes about him NOT having one, I guess I just thought....and besides, if I were extremely successful I would not want much editing, either. And gosh, would you want the job of telling an internationally-bestselling author that if his character said "clustermug" ONE MORE TIME you were QUITTING?

5. I read it, all the way through, and enjoyed reading it. It wasn't my favorite, but it was a good book if you like Stephen King books, which I often do.

21 comments:

Jess said...

As far as number three is concerned, that's how I felt about the Dragon Tattoo series. Must EVERYONE'S last name start with B? Considering that we refer to all of them by their last names? There are TWENTY-FIVE OTHER LETTERS TO CHOOSE FROM. I was especially annoyed when I got to the second and third books and he kept introducing MORE, BRAND NEW characters whose last names started with B. I was SO CONFUSED. Blomkvist, Berger, and Bjurman were bad enough, but by the time we got to Bublanski and Bjork I was ready to stop reading because I couldn't keep everybody straight.

Becky said...

AHH! I just about had a nervous breakdown (exaggeration) because YOU said Clustermug. Ugh. I was so sick of those phrases by the end.
Also, I agree about the name thing (in both Under the Dome and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). Too many similar names!
Other than that, though, I enjoyed both books.

rockygrace said...

I hear you on the "clustermug"! When I was reading it, I kept going, "who SAYS that?"

What did you think about what the Dome actually was? Some people hated it, but I thought it was pretty cool. Like a Twilight Zone episode.

Pigeon said...

I actually liked the book. But, embarrassing confession, and I don't know why I thought this, but I thought the heroine (newspaper editor woman, I forget her name--Barbara?) was like, 70.(Aren't most feisty newspaper editors who inherit a small town newspaper from their father usually old spinsters? That's not a stock character?)

Except she was about 45ish, I guess. The love scene at the end stopped me in my tracks. I had to go back to the beginning of the book and say, how old is this woman really if she's canoodling a 35 yr old man? And it turned out she was merely a cougar, not an elderly woman. Oops.

But other than that, I liked it.

Slim said...

We observed Veteran's Day by taking candy to a dentist who was collecting for Halloween Candy for Soldiers, and I got lectured my kids on the importance of doing something nice for the troops, and then I thought, "Because nothing says 'We appreciate the magnitude of your sacrifice' like five pounds of fun-size Snickers?" Go, me.

Anonymous said...

I lectured. Not "I got lectured."

Swistle said...

Rockygrace- I thought it was a pretty good explanation, though a little bit like, "Oh, I know! It can be MAGIC!!" And a little preachy. I agree: exactly like Twilight Zone!

Swistle said...

Pigeon- Yes, it was Julia, and me too. I was picturing Julia Sugarbaker in her later years. And then I thought it was dumb to give the lead male a girl name (Barbara/Barbie), and also I pictured him being OLDER than he was, so ACK.

Stimey said...

I tend to enjoy all of Stephen King's books, but I agree with you that they are very flawed. There is a lot of stuff in there that makes me think, "Oh, right, Stephen King." instead of letting me forget that I'm reading a book.

Leeann said...

Hey Swistle,

I'm currently reading Half Baked (just past the part where the boy twin is no longer..) and you know what I keep thinking? I keep thinking how much this author reminds me of you! In the way she states things, or thinks about things, or reacts to things. Even in the way she writes! Lots of similarities.

So far I'm liking it a lot but I'm kind of reading between my fingers because I am fearing more sad things coming.

Maggie said...

thank you for this review! I am on page 200 and considering whether to keep on reading. I loved SK back in the days of Salem's Lot and Carrie. Even enjoyed The Stand and It, but recently stopped reading due to a combination of a lack of time and his books becoming more like gory porn than actually scary. After the good reviews I slogged through Lisey's Story and was pissed because it was fine, but not scary and the damned too frequently repeated phrases made me want to tear my hair out. Upon consideration, I think I may not finish Under the Dome - too many other books to read and too little time.

Rebecca said...

I think that I understand your point about Veteran's Day discounts. You think that it is just paying lip-service to our Servicemembers. I respect that point of view and cannot argue that a lot of lip-service is, indeed, paid, especially by people who have no interest in doing anything personally to help our troops. (I don't just mean that not everyone wants to serve. I mean that lots of people have problems making concrete sacrifices for our Servicemembers, such as paying additional taxes that would provide housing to homeless veterans, or rehabilitative services to a veteran who has lost the use of his or her limbs, or help veterans find jobs after their military service.)

But, as a former Soldier myself, and as a wife of a current Soldier, I have to say that I think it is nice that lots of places offer discounts to Veterans on Veteran's Day. Some even do it all year long, like Lowe's and Home Depot. It is nice to have people recognize individual contributions to our country as a whole, and this is a way that a large, corporate entity can do so in a concrete way.

I know from talking to former Soldiers (especially Vietnam-era), that at best they felt invisible within our society and at worst they felt ostracized. It is nice to see that some steps have been made--even by large corporations--to prevent that from happening again.

Suzanne said...

As a lifelong military dependent (first my dad, now my husband) I can tell you those stupid discounts are not only petty and insulting, almost NO ONE ever gets them. Because it's just sort of...demoralizing to ask for your free french fries or whatever, when the person taking your money doesn't actually give a crap about your service.

Swistle said...

Rebecca- It's that it seems like it's such a small amount, it's almost a slap more than a pat. Wow, $5 off an oil change, for serving your country? That seems like it's saying that's what the service is worth.

Rebecca said...

I understand what you mean, just as I understand what Suzanne means. I do not dispute that there is lip-service paid to honoring our service-members. That said, it is nice to see that there is some recognition, even if it is imperfectly done.

I guess I tend to ascribe positive intent to those who are making any kind of effort at recognition, which I see the personnel who run these companies doing, even if the person at the counter who actually provides the service is dismissive. I mean, hey, $5 is $5, and the company has to make some determination of what they can offer. I don't figure they could offer a free oil change to every veteran, even if they wanted to do so. They have a profit margin to consider, too. But the fact that they offer something at all is a nice gesture.

Also, the offers that I have seen are well-meaning. For example, a very nice restaurant (McCormick and Schmick) offers a free entree to veterans on Veteran's Day. Both my husband and I are veterans--he got out and is now serving again--and look forward to going each year. It is one of the nicest meals we have during the year, and it means something special to us that it is offered. Now, this is a bit different than the example you gave, because this is clearly a situation where the company consciously decides to give up their profit and take a loss. But I don't begrudge a company who determines that they cannot do that and instead offers a discount.

As I said, I do understand what you meant. I was just offering an alternative interpretation. :)

Misty said...

See, I was thinking how nice it was that in my part of the world, there were so many restaurants offering FREE meals to servicefolks on Veteran's Day. Wow's Cafe and Wingery and Applebee's. And I couldn't remember that ever happening before, so I thought it was some sort of social awakening or something. But 10% off of earrings is pretty sad.

And I don't read King. I am a scaredy-britches.

Swistle said...

Misty- Agree! Free meal is very good. 15% off an oil change is a routine coupon anyone could use.

Jessa (bipolararmywife) said...

We are active duty and here you don't even have to show military ID. Anyone with short cropped hair is assumed. LOL We love getting the discount. Maybe it is what the general public could get, maybe it's only pennies on the dollar, but it is still a nice gesture. :) I actually went to some 'steak house' kind of place with my aunt/uncle/cousins and we asked if they had a military discount. Uncle is retired.. So, the guy said no, but went and asked management anyway...we got $40 off our bill, the guy got a $60 tip.

Swistle said...

Jessa- Ooo, I do think a small discount that was ALWAYS available to veterans would be as good as a one-day large discount. That is, if veterans/military can ALWAYS get $5 off an oil change or 10% off jewelry, that's awesome; it's only when it's "On the one day of the year when we celebrate veterans, we'd like to thank you by giving you a 10% discount on costume jewelry!!!" that it seems insulting.

Val said...

Mike bought me that book for Christmas a couple years ago. I agree with "I've read a lot of Stephen King books, so it's not really HIS fault I kept recognizing his recurring themes." I liked King's Bag of Bones and remember that something about it felt different to me from his other books, but I'm not remembering now what it was about it that felt that way. Those were the last two of his I've read. And Duma Key? I like him. Have you read his On Writing? It's a generous book.

Val said...

Those last few sentences are garbled. Duma Key, or whatever the title was, was one of the last three books of his I've read, I meant.