Monthly Archives: December 2020

“Some places are like people: some shine and some don’t.”

Dick Hallorann lends his grandmother’s words to describe people like himself and Danny Torrance. She called it “Shining.” The Overlook Hotel is one of those places that shines too.

Here are a few random thoughts, sounds, and images from the many lives of The Shining.

Room 217 of the Stanley Hotel

Before there was an Overlook, there was the Stanley Hotel. Stephen King once stayed in the Presidential Suite of the Stanley, where he was visited by bad dreams, hallucinations, and was inspired to sketch out an outline for his best novel.


But The Shining is not just King’s best novel. It also served as the basis for the film of the same name, as written and directed by Stanley Kubrick. Like the hotel, this Stanley would also haunt King as he took his novel and stretched and twisted it into one of the most influential films ever made. So different from the book, King has said that it is Kubrick’s film, not his.

A reviewer calls the film, “a brilliant, ambitious attempt to shoot a horror film without the Gothic trappings of shadows and cobwebs so often associated with the genre.”

One of the most striking things, aside from masterful performances by Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall (heresy!? Yes, I think her performance was nearly as perfect as Nicholson’s – just drawn more from Kubrick’s haranguing rather than her innate talent.) is the spellbinding score and incidental music. From the first intonations of Dies Irae to the frenetic energy of the final chase scene, the music shapes your emotions and pulls you into the haunted world of the Overlook.

Rolling Stone, on the music accompaniment to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining…

“Kubrick and music editor Gordon Stainforth cherry-picked maximally queasy passages from works by a clutch of Eastern European mavericks: “Lontano” by György Ligeti, the Hungarian genius whose music gave 2001: A Space Odyssey its unearthly atmosphere, and even more importantly Krzysztof Penderecki, the Polish radical whose strangulated strings, barbaric brass yawp, clatter-bone rhythms and hissing choruses in “Utrejna,” “De Natura Sonoris,” “The Awakening of Jacob” and more provided the Overlook Hotel and its denizens with an appropriately unhinged environment.”

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To address the differences between the novel and the film, King sought to make a new version of the film that tracked more with the original storyline. In 1997, this version was released as a miniseries staring Steven Weber and Rebecca De Morney as the Torrances and using the Stanley Hotel as the Overlook. This version eschewed the hedge maze that Kubrick had created in place of the technically difficult hedge lions and, most notably stayed faithful to the novel’s end with Jack dying in the fiery explosion sparked by the Overlook’s overpressurized boiler.

A Rogue Trip For Fans Of “The Shining” – Rogue Trip

Three decades after the original novel, King released Doctor Sleep, following the troubled life of Danny in the years after his ordeal at the Overlook. Fans of the Shining particularly enjoyed the last act of Doctor Sleep which brought us back to the remains of the Overlook, a place that exists only in the world of the original Shining film.

Heeeeeeere's Ewan!
Danny Torrance revisiting the Overlook Hotel
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Posted by on December 3, 2020 in Uncategorized


Challenge Trials for COVID Vaccine

Radiolab did a good piece on Challenge trials for the COVID-19 vaccine which you can find here.

Challenge trials are an expedient, but fraught way to generate data on a vaccine’s efficacy quickly. Briefly, they involve taking a (relatively) small group of people, say 100, and dividing them into two groups of 50 each. One group gets the vaccine and the other group gets the placebo. Then, after waiting some period of time for the immune system to generate a protective response, you expose all 100 people to live virus.

This is essentially the same thing as what is done in the more traditional trial, with the exception of directly exposing subjects.

In the end, it’s a simple matter to calculate the efficacy (or not) of the vaccine by comparing the number of people who got sick in each group. If these numbers are equal, the vaccine is ineffective, etc. Even if all 100 people got sick from this challenge, it would still be less than the number of people who got sick (170) during the Pfizer trial that involved 43,000+ total participants (reported here).

Further, a challenge trial can be completed in as little as two months, while more traditional trials are ongoing over two years.

In the Radiolab piece, trial participants were asked why they participated. Answers ranged from appeals to mathematics (one participant said exposure to COVID did not significantly increase his risk of dying in any given year) to a need to make their experience meaningful (if they caught covid in the trial, at least it would provide important evidence toward approving a drug, whereas if they caught it any other time, it would just be a waste.)

However, the one reason I did not hear was one of financial inducement. Although I could not find actual data on this, challenge trials may pay up to $4000 for the 3-6 weeks of legal quarantine. There are a number of issues associated with these payments – the most obvious being that it may induce those without means to participate because they feel the money if too good to pass up. Jennifer Blumenthal-Barby and Peter Ubel write that, in fact, the payment for these trials may not be enough as it fails to meet the proposed minimum living wage of $15/hr.

I recommend that you listen to the Radiolab piece (it’s less than 30 minutes long) and take a look at the Blumenthal-Barby and Ubel, which is an interesting read.

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Posted by on December 3, 2020 in Uncategorized