Pop Of King (1) – Ready or not, Here I Come – (1 sierpnia 2003)

So here’s what happened, best that I can figure. A couple of months back, the editors at Entertainment Weekly asked me to review ”Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and either liked the review itself or liked the fact that it was written in longhand. (For all I know, they might have thought it would be good to have at least one writer on tap who could turn in copy even after a nuclear pulse wiped out the hard drives on all the laptops.) Whatever the reason, they came back and asked me if I’d like to write a column once a month, a thing I haven’t done since college. I decided I’d like to give it a try.

The question, I guess, is whether or not YOU want to give it a try. Since these columns will deal mostly with popular culture — and what else would a magazine called Entertainment Weekly deal with? — you have a right to know where I stand on that broad and sometimes troubling subject. Full disclosure, right? So this is, more or less, who I am.

MOVIES: Loved ”T3.” Arnold is still the perfect machine. A movie like this has to have at least one line worth quoting, and this one gives new life to an old favorite: ”Talk to the hand.”

Liked ”28 Days Later” but didn’t love it. The bottom line for horror movies doesn’t change from year to year; their job is to scare you silly, and either they do it or they don’t. ”28 Days Later” intrigued me — I’m a sucker for survivors in empty cities, as anyone who’s read ”The Stand” knows — but there was nothing in ”28 Days Later” (as there was in ”The Blair Witch Project”) that came back to haunt me later that evening, after the bedroom light was out.

Disliked ”Anger Management,” another in a long line of dopey, half-awake comedies. Yes, Adam Sandler is a funny man. Yes, Jack Nicholson is a fine actor and a funny man. But you have to earn it every time out, and here are two guys coasting along without a director ballsy enough to tell them it’s time to wake up and earn the paycheck.

Hated ”Antwone Fisher”; ditto ”The Life of David Gale.” Don’t tell me the former is better than the latter, and don’t throw a bunch of sentimental tripe at me and call it social commentary. ”Antwone Fisher” is especially annoying in this regard, a $9 Hallmark card that amounts to ”Roses are red, Violets are blue, Life is tough, But you’ll get through.” I knew that already, thanks, now go away.

POP MUSIC: Well, the fact is, I don’t have much use for pop music, and I refuse to listen to any musical artist who goes by a single name. Beyoncé? Go away. Jewel? Out of my face. Ashanti? Quit it. The only exception to this rule is Eminem. I love Eminem, partly because he’s funny and savage, but also because he still admits that underneath it all, there is a person named Marshall Mathers.

I like AC/DC, Metallica, Steve Earle, and the Dixie Chicks. I like Darryl Worley, although I have no use for his jejune political commentary. No, Darryl, I haven’t forgotten, and I don’t need you to remind me, okay?

Ask me to name the greatest rock & roll song of all time and I have to say it’s a three-way tie between Slobberbone’s ”Gimme Back My Dog,” Count Five’s ”Psychotic Reaction,” and Elvis Costello’s ”(What’s So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” What I’m not interested in is ear candy. There’s a place where you can put that, and it’s not in your ear. I think that stuff should crawl right out of the radio speaker and get in your face. I think it should interrupt your life. Consequently I love the Jayhawks, like the White Stripes, and have no interest whatever in Celine Dion. If you like Celine Dion, you should write or e-mail the editors of this magazine and tell them that on no account should they hire Steve King to write commentaries, because Steve King thinks ”Who Let the Dogs Out” is better than all the songs Ms. Dion has recorded, put together.

BOOKS: I like Donna Tartt, but think ”The Little Friend,” with its crazy Southern gothic overtones, is far better than the measured pretension of ”The Secret History.”

I think Elmore Leonard is the great American writer…but that he was a lot better 10 years ago.

I think that if you haven’t read Stewart O’Nan, Peter Robinson (the Alan Banks mysteries), Peter Abrahams, or the early novels of Dennis Lehane, you have some catching up to do.

I believe that 70 percent of the fiction and nonfiction best-seller lists is dreck, and that ”The Da Vinci Code,” by Dan Brown, stands as a prime example.

I also believe that a book that sells a million copies — as ”The Dogs of Babel,” by Carolyn Parkhurst, may eventually do — is not automatically trash.

Also: These are things I actually care about. Consequently I will not be cute, dismissive, patronizing, or indulgent. I may make you angry — I hope I do make you angry — but I will not waste your time.

So YOU tell ME: Can you live with that?