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Stephen’s Sanctuary: January 2024

Hey friends! 

There’s a new spot over here on the blog. Step right up. Come on in. 

It’s a new year – yes, it is! This time of year can feel a little strange and discombobulating. I hope wherever you are, you are staying away from this season’s plethora of sicknesses and enjoying some things that help alleviate some stress and get your year off to a solid start. I’m not quite sure what this year will have in store for me, but here are some things that kept me good company in 2023. 
  • The Stephen King Project.
As this past October approached, it dawned on me that although I had seen a handful, there were a lot of Stephen King works adapted for TV and film that I had never seen. I thought that this would be a fun, appropriate project for the month. Well, there are a TON of those adaptations and nobody with any kind of sane schedule could watch even 75% of them in four weeks. So it lasted a little longer than the month of October. Obviously, there are varying levels of quality, but even the adaptations that didn’t quite work became fun to watch and rank alongside the others. I don’t have any great epiphanies here about King’s work or how it’s been adapted. My favorite is still The Shining. (Sorry, fellow Stephen, I know you’re not a big fan.) My least favorite? Well, let’s not be negative in the sanctuary here right off the bat. I’ll just say that you don’t have to go out of your way to see Desperation or the new version of Firestarter. On a more positive tip: I’m not sure Dolores Claiborne, the original Pet Sematary or The Dead Zone get enough love. This whole thing was similar to how I spent time in the early days of the pandemic. There was so much time, so I started binging shows with more seasons than I’d usually be willing to dive into; or going through a filmmaker’s filmography. It’s just a fun and interesting way to consume these things and give it some structure, so you’re not browsing on streaming services for an hour each night with your downtime. 
This podcast has been around since 2017, but I found myself returning to it again this year. Are you a huge fan of country music? Do you have little interest in country music outside of the few songs you like by [name here]? If your answer to either of these questions is yes, then you should check out this podcast. Tyler Mahan Coe is great at navigating through the history of the genre and the fascinating humans who have been a part of it. The other wonderful thing is that the pod has its own companion blog, with transcripts of the episodes, sources cited, and links to the songs and YouTube videos referenced. So if you prefer to read an article and have the songs he’s talking about at your fingertips, instead of listening to the podcast while driving – you have that option. And before you know it, you’re looking up performances from old morning shows and planning to make a trip to Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace. 
  • Jelly Belly Red Licorice Scottie Dogs
Yes, this is a very specific item to bring up and yes, I’m serious. They are delicious. They make a trip to the movies better. If you have a dentist appointment coming up, you might want to hold off on this. But if you have a sweet tooth like me, these little dogs are almost an anti-anxiety supplement. Red Vines and Twizzlers have their own thing. The licorice scottie dogs just have a different texture and taste. I was going to close this segment with something like; “They truly are the best in show” and thought better of it. But now I’ve included that tidbit and now we’re both embarrassed for me. Just go grab yourself a treat that you enjoy as much as I enjoy these little dogs. 
I hope you find some fun projects, distractions, rabbitholes and treats to help get you through the start of this year. 
Peace, love, empathy,