Tag Archives: stephen king

Music on Mondays (3-27-17)—Yertle the Turtle in Pet Sematary

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Bookless, I am.

My life is in turmoil when I don’t have a book of fiction to read. Such is the case today because I finished my book (Golden Lion by Wilbur Smith) Saturday night but the public library is not open on Sundays. Just a few more hours….

So I went looking for songs about, or inspired by, books for today Music on Mondays post. Here are five I found:

“1984” by David Bowie was inspired by George Orwell’s book with the same title. David Bowie was intending to do a 1984 musical but the project was killed when Orwell’s widow objected. Other tracks on Bowie’s 1974 album, Diamond Dogs, feature other Orwell references, including the song titles “Big Brother” and “We Are The Dead,” Winston Smith’s final words before being captured by the thought police in the book.

I never read J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings so I never completely understood “Ramble On” from Led Zeppelin’s 1969 album, Led Zeppelin II:

Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor
I met a girl so fair
But Gollum, and the evil one crept up
And slipped away with her.

I’m completely unfamiliar with “that book by Nabokov” (Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita) that inspired The Police in 1980:

Young teacher the subject of schoolgirl fantasy
This girl is half his age
He starts to shake and cough
Just like the old man in that book by Nabokov.”

I don’t really like the Red Hot Chili Peppers but I did understand “Yertle the Turtle” from their 1985 album Freaky Styley as soon as I saw the title because I am quite familiar with Dr. Suess.

I’m Yertle the Turtle
The things I now rule
I’m king of a cow
I’m king of a mule

“Pet Sematary” by The Ramones, from their 1989 album Brain Drain, was written for the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, Pet Sematary, still one of my favorite books by King.

Molars and fangs
the clicking of bones
Spirits moaning among the tombstones.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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My favorite novels from 55+ years of reading

I livew in my own little world

The first school I attended was Lake View Elementary School in Brigham City, Utah (picture below, ca. 2011, from Google Street View).

Lake View Elementary School, Brigham City UT

The school library was separated into grade sections. I had read the complete Grade 1 section by Christmas of my first year and had to get the Principal’s approval to start reading the Grade 2 section. By the end of Grade 3, I had read the complete collection in the school library, except for the encyclopedias and atlases.

San Diego TrolleyPart of my reading success was my reading speed. The other part was my willingness to read anywhere, and that I still do. I have reading material with me whenever and wherever I go. Waiting on car maintenance at the shop? I read. Standing in line at the post office or grocery store? I read. Sitting in the doctor or dentist’s office? I read. Riding the Trolley? I read.

Time and Again by Jack FinneyCurrently, I am reading Time and Again, a 1970 work by Jack Finney about time travel. Being quite an interesting book with an interesting premise and plot, it is a good read, but my senior English teacher in high school would be appalled by his love of the dangling participle. (Oh, how I had fun writing that sentence….)

I chose it because of Stephen King’s recommendation on the last page of his book, 11/22/63, which now ranks as my favorite Stephen King book of all time.

At the request of an unknown person from a craiglist advertisement, here is a list of my favorite novels, books that I specifically remember from my life of reading, in alphabetical order:

  • 11/22/63 by Stephen KingAny book by Stephen King (or Richard Bachman). Stephen King has never failed to immerse me in his writing, to take me to other places, to make me think about the known and unknown, to wonder. The books that particularly stand out for me are 11/22/63, The Dark Tower series, The Stand, and Under the Dome.
  • The Box-Car Children by Gertrude C. Warner. When I read this at the age of 9, I already had it in my mind that my mom and stepdad didn’t love me. I could identify with these orphans.
  • Charlotte's Web by E. B. WhiteCharlotte’s Web by E. B. White. This book taught me an appreciation  for all life, regardless of how small (and some might say, “icky”) it might be. As my wise old grandmother told me when I was reading this book: “All life has a right to live.” To this day, when I find a spider visiting me inside, I capture it in a cup and simply move it outside so it can go on living, perhaps even becoming part of the food chain for life that is bigger than it.
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. This is the only book that I have read multiple times—1973 as a high school senior, 1984 (to see how close Orwell came), and in 2013 after watching “The Hunger Games.”
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I wanted my own secret garden, a place where I could go to get away from the bullies at school and parents who did not love me. This book was the start of my lifelong interest in gardening, an interest that continued to develop under the tutelage of my wise old grandmother after she adopted me.
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I did not read this book until 1995 after I had left Texas and moved to California. I was in the process of changing my life, and this book helped me change my perspective and understanding of the many different people around me.

As an aside, I do believe I’m back!

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Classic literature


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Atomic bomb NagasakiI got a laugh out of that idiot the other day who thought the world should ban making fun of Muhammad. I find it unbelievable that adults, even so-called leaders of their countries, don’t have more important things to do. I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that one of these theocratic nations will be the one to start World War III, the end of humanity, the destruction of the Earth. Probably one from the Middle East, but a Republican-controlled United States is also a distinct possibility.

Now let us move on…….to “Banned Books Week.” That’s this week just in case you haven’t been paying attention. Yep. Here in our own United States of America, people want to ban books, of all things. Wouldn’t banning something like, say, divorce be more for the public good?

Interestingly, the desire to ban books is greatest in the Southern and Midwestern States. Care to guess which States are the most religious? Ah-ha! You’ve been paying attention!

Banned Books Week is the last week in September each year; someone explain to me why Banned Books Week this year is September 30 through October 6. That week has only one day in it from September, and who starts a week on Sunday anyway?

The first Banned Books Week was held in 1982, and the Week is sponsored each year by the American Library Association (ALA). Over the years, more than 11,000 books have been challenged, a term to indicate that someone wanted to ban a book from a school or library. In 2011, there were 326 challenges, but those are only the ones that were reported to the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom,, which estimates that as many as 75% of challenges go unreported. Challenges are based on everything from insensitivity (!), religious viewpoint (!!), offensive language, violence, and sexual explicitness and can be as simple as a religious mom walking into a library and asking a librarian to remove a book from the library.

The Top 10 most challenged books last year were these:

  1. “ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r” (series) by Lauren Myracle
  2. “The Color of Earth” (series) by Kim Dong Hwa
  3. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins“The Hunger Games” (trilogy) by Suzanne Collins
  4. “My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy” by Dori Hillestad Butler
  5. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie
  6. “Alice” (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  7. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley
  8. “What My Mother Doesn’t Know” by Sonya Sones
  9. “Gossip Girl” (series) by Cecily Von Ziegesar
  10. “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

I have not read any of those so I cannot speak to whether or not they should be banned. Well, actually, yes I can. They should NOT be banned! And for the record, I did see the movies “Brave New World” and “To Kill A Mockingbird.” They were excellent!

Many of the books that are challenged are considered “classics,” with “Brave New World” and “To Kill A Mockingbird” fitting in that category. Here are some other classics that are regularly challenged:

  1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
  3. “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck
  4. “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck
  5. “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker
  6. “Ulysses” by James Joyce
  7. “The Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
  8. “Animal Farm” by George Orwell
  9. “1984” by George Orwell
  10. “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway
  11. “A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway
  12. “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote

Except for “The Color Purple,” all of those were on my high school and college required reading lists. Should I admit that I have not read a single one? I did read the Cliff Notes, though. (Like if you know what Cliff Notes are……..lol). I was too busy reading horror and science fiction to both with classics.

My list of the greatest classics, in alphabetical order by title:

  1. Carrie, by Stephen King“Carrie,” by Stephen King
  2. “Cell,” by Stephen King
  3. “Christine,” by Stephen King
  4. “Cujo,” by Stephen King
  5. “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger,” by Stephen King
  6. “The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three,” by Stephen King
  7. “The Dark Tower III: The Wastelands,” by Stephen King
  8. “The Dark Tower IV: Wizards and Glass,” by Stephen King
  9. “The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla,” by Stephen King
  10. “The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah,” by Stephen King
  11. “The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower,” by Stephen King
  12. “Dolores Claiborne,” by Stephen King
  13. “Dreamcatcher,” by Stephen King
  14. Firestarter, by Stephen King“Firestarter,” by Stephen King
  15. “From a Buick 8,” by Stephen King
  16. “It,” by Stephen King
  17. “Misery,” by Stephen King
  18. “Needful Things,” by Stephen King
  19. “Pet Sematary,” by Stephen King
  20. “Salem’s Lot,” by Stephen King
  21. “The Dead Zone,” by Stephen King
  22. “Rose Madder,” by Stephen King
  23. “The Running Man,” by Stephen King
  24. “The Shining,” by Stephen King
  25. “The Stand,” by Stephen King
  26. “The Talisman,” by Stephen King
  27. “Thinner,” by Stephen King
  28. “The Tommyknockers,” by Stephen King
  29. “Under the Dome,” by Stephen King

I expect to add “11/22/63,” by Stephen King, to that list by the end of the year.

Happy reading!

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Santa Catalina Island

Interesting…. but what is it?

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Picture of the moment


I found this over on Santa Catalina Island back in March. I found it interesting — kind of Stephen Kingish — but have absolutely no Earthly clue what it is. Maybe it’s not of this Earth? Did I disturb the spirits?

Santa Catalina Island


Santa Catalina Island


Santa Catalina Island


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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County? I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor with Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re just looking for a home inspector,
I can highly recommend Russel Ray; that’s me!Real Estate Solutions