October , 2002
King's latest, 'From a Buick 8,' is
another twisted tale of genius
By Ricky Lax
For The Daily
After a half-dozen. phone calls, Stephen King's publi-
cist's assistant all but laughed at the idea of an inter-
view. "This isn't an interview thing," she said, and it
wasn't. Last Saturday, Stephen King came to Borders at
Arborland to autograph 250 copies of his new book,
"From a Buick 8."
"Buick 8" is about a 1954 Buick adopted by the Penn-
sylvania State Police after it was left at the scene of a
strange person disappearance. Unlike others, this Buick
has no antenna for the radio, uneven portholes and an
abnormally large steering wheel. It also vomits purple
bats and eats people alive.
The police declare the odd Buick, "fucked to the sky,"
and eventually, after realizing the "Buick" is no Buick
at-all, sayv"we saw it as a Buick because we had to see
it as something."
King's book tour drove an old midnight blue Buick,
similar to the one in the book, from "Good Morning
America" to the Arborland parking lot. A General
Motors show vehicle worker, who asked to remain
anonymous, said the car was not King's, but "a private
owner's." He also swore, "The car is jinxed."
"On the way to New York to do "The Today Show"
the passenger door opened up on it's own in transit," he
added. "The battery blew up the first day we had it."
"Today we unloaded it and it started leaking anti-
freeze." Jinx, but nowhere near people-eating.
King describes the story as "a meditation on the
essentially indecipherable quality of life's events, and
how impossible it is to find a coherent meaning in
them." Readers hoping for a clear explanation of the
Buick's powers or reason for its existence will be disap-
pointed, as King's character Ned Wilcox was. Ned's
Father passed away a year before the story begins, and
"Buick 8" is a collection of narratives, told to Ned by a
group of his father's officer-buddies. "You have to stop
waiting for the punchline," they tell him.
The officers share increasingly mysterious stories
about Ned's father's growing obsession with the Buick 8
and its many manifestations.
To nail the dialect, which he did, King visited many
real Pennsylvania State Police barracks. Many of the
characters in the book are fictionalized versions of the
men and women he met.
Though the book is over 350 pages long, it has a short
story feel to it. The plot is simple and the message is
clear: A lot of stuff is weird, deal with it.
Stephen King has written more than 40 books, includ-
ing a four-part series of novels, a six-part serial novel
and many short stories. He is the best-selling author in
the world. His books and books on tape consume about
20 feet of shelf space at the Borders on State Street. The
world has gone King-crazy, everyone except University
Medical School Research Investigator Steven King.
Others with similar sentiments can be found at
www.beingstephenking.com, a website about "Who we
are, and our favorite stories about being Stephen King."
Unlike many on the website, the Arborland Borders
was packed with King fans, many of whom had no tick-
et. Janet, whose husband read 26 of King's books, but
had no ticket, said she drove 96 miles so her husband
could "follow him around and take some snapshots."
Janet and her husband never got to meet King.
Many people at Arborland claimed to have read all or
almost all of King's books.
Another fan, Alan from Howell, a man prompting
much conversation among the Borders staff, held a
photo above a stack of books to face King for over 20
minutes/ "I had a photo of his house," he said. "I fig-
ured if I could draw attention to myself, he would give
us an autograph." Instead, Alan got a police assisted
escort out of the store. Alan was bitter. "Half the people
are gonna' sell those books on eBay."
When this attempt failed, King gave in to his adoring
fans. Kelly, who works at the State Street Borders, said,
"He's so nice. There was this list of rules, no photos, no
personalization ... he's chatting people up and every-
thing." Photos were taken and books were personalized.
When asked, "Is there anything you would like to say
to the students at the University," King shook his head
no and pausing for a moment, he said, "Party on."
Courtesy of Nintendo
Play the game, love the game.
.Crossig' ojkrs a reshing change
By Daniel Yowell
Daily Arts Writer
I J s
It's highly unlikely that living in a town inhabited by
super-deformed, talking animals is an idea that appeals to
most video gamers: But Nintendo's "Animal Crossing" lets
players do exactly that, while proving itself to be one of the
most innovative and addictive games in recent memory.
"Animal Crossing" blends characteristics of "Harvest
Moon" and "The Sims," then adds some item-retrieving
elements of the "Zelda" series for good measure. The
object is, basically, just to get by. Performing odd jobs for
cash, making friends, writing letters, fishing, decorating
your house and donating rare specimens to
the local museum are just a few of the things "
that are available to do.
One characteristic that makes "Animal 7C
Crossing" stand out is its use of the Game-
Cube's internal clock. The game runs in real AN
time, meaning that whenever you play - be CRO
it night or day, spring, autumn or winter - For Ga
the game's environment will reflect it. Things F
will change in your town, even when you're Nin
not there, and the fact that some special
events (like a concert by a guitar-playing Dalmatian) only
occur at certain times on certain dates, you might find your-
self clearing off your calendar to be sure that you can partic-
ipate. Pathetic? Yes, but definitely a testament to Nintendo's
ability to create a hugely addictive game.
Another of the numerous innovations is the ability for
players to visit their friends' towns. Since each town's geo-
graphic layout and residents are randomly generated from
hundreds of possibilities, no two towns are the same. Plus,
visiting a friend's town is a great opportunity to get items or
pull pranks. You can even find items from other towns that
aren't available in yours, and some of your animal buddies
might move to another town while you visit and vice versa.
On the technological side, "Animal Crossing" is the first
This capability makes the replay value of
"Animal Crossing" even greater.
Although "Animal Crossing" showcases
some interesting technical innovations, it is
missing one thing: a keyboard. While it isn't
a nightmare, typing with the controller can
be overly time-consuming and annoying.
Even if not included with the game, the
availability of a separate keyboard accessory
would have been nice. Still, not too much
complaining can be done since Nintendo
game to make liberal use of the connectivity between Nin-
tendo's GameCube (GC) and Game Boy Advance (GBA)
systems. Using the link cable to connect a GBA to the GC
allows for the use of a special, portable version of the pat-
tern design tool, which allows players to customize their
clothes and more. Connecting the GBA also unlocks a trop-
ical island off the coast of your town that you can travel to.
Old school Nintendo classics like "Excitebike" can be
found and played in "Animal Crossing," but with a GBA,
you can also download games and take them on the go. Fur-
thermore, Nintendo's new "e-Reader" accessory for the
GBA will allow players to add upgrades like new items and
characters to their town, much like a patch for a PC game.
does package a free memory card with the game. It's a
blessing that Nintendo had the foresight to do this since
one town takes up 59 blocks of storage space (up to four
players can live in one town).
This is a game that becomes a part of your life like no
other. There is always something new to look forward to,
and time is constantly chugging along. "Animal Crossing"
is all about exploration and experimentation instead of
"beating the game," because it never actually ends.
Although "Animal Crossing" is probably not the kind of
game that players are likely to binge on for seven straight
hours at axtime, it is definitely one that will get played
almost daily for, conceivably, years - a claim that cannot
be made for most games.