Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A(nother) Look at Some Vintage Magazines

A few weeks back, I published a post that delved into a slew of old Cinefantastique back issues I'd obtained, most of which had fun Stephen King content in them.  At that time, I was still waiting on a few other issues to arrive in the mail, and so I threatened promised to write a sequel to that post in the not-too-distant future.

Well, the not-too-distant future has arrived.  We still don't have flying cars, and the zombie apocalypse still hasn't broken out.  But by gum, I got those other issues of Cinefantastique in the mail, so at least some prophesied events have come to pass.

In addition to the Cinefantastiques, I also scooped up some other goodies, so we'll have a look at them as well.

Let's start off salaciously, with this:




Speaking of recent posts, I also put up a review of the short story "Night Surf" not long ago, and in the course of writing that, I obtained a copy of this 1974 issue of Cavalier, which contained the first professional publication of the story.  (It had also appeared in a 1969 issue of Ubris, a student publication at the University of Maine.)  I was curious to see how different the 1974 version of the story was from the 1978 version that appeared in Night Shift (King's first short-story collection), and I was shocked to find a copy of the magazine on Amazon for only about $10!

So needless to say, I snapped that sucker up right quick.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Bryant Has Issues #45

Today's post is going to be a challenge.  A couple of weeks ago, I saw the new Muppets movie, Muppets Most Wanted, which is awesome.  One of its best elements is the songs by Brett McKenzie; I got the soundtrack a few days ago and have been listening to it ever since.  Hence, I've got about six songs vying for attention in that place where things get stuck in your brain.  So if I start typing out lyrics and don't notice that I've done it, don't be too surprised.  I'll fight it, but I've only got so much fight in me.

We begin with some Joe Hill:




Gotta love that cover.

The rest of the issue ain't so bad, either.  If you saw or heard any interviews with Joe Hill around the time of NOS4A2's release, then odds are good that you heard him talk about what fun it is at Christmasland, where the kids get to do charming things like play a game of Scissors For The Drifter.

Well, in Wraith #5, you'll finally get your chance to see what a game of Scissors For The Drifter consists of.  Turns out, it's pretty much exactly what you'd expect.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

This Isn't Over By a Long Shot: A Review of "Carrie" (2013) on Blu-ray

The recent remake of Carrie has been out on DVD and Blu-ray and various download platforms since January 14, which means that I'm way behind in getting a review out.  Hey, look, it is what it is.

Don't take my two-months' silence for disinterest, however; as you might recall from my review of the movie from last October's theatrical release, I am a fan of the movie.  I had problems with it on its initial release, but they did not prohibit my enjoyment.

Returning to the film in preparation for this review, I re-watched the movie four times: once the old-fashioned Blu-ray way; once with director Kimberley Peirce's commentary track; once on my laptop, via the DVD Sony included with the Blu-ray package (for screencapping purposes, and with the sound muted -- I listened to scores from original-series Star Trek episodes during this process, and there were times when the music fit the imagery almost perfectly . . . and times when it really, really didn't fit it at all); and then again with the commentary track for note-taking purposes.

Any good movie -- and a great many bad ones, too -- will offer up its secrets in layers, so that if you revisit it, you will find yourself noticing new things each time.  Sometimes this causes you to appreciate a movie more, and sometimes less; but generally speaking, you will find yourself refining your opinions, for better or worse.

Or, at least, you will if you happen to be a blogger named Bryant Burnette who writes The Truth Inside The Lie.  Others' mileage may vary, I suppose; but this is my experience, and it holds true.

For example, it holds very much true as regards Kimberly Peirce's version of Carrie, which I've now seen (one way or another) six times.  Let's cut to the chase: yes, I still like it.  Yes, I also still have problems with it.  BUT . . . I have fewer problems with it, and the aspects that I liked initially seem even stronger to me now.  So, all in all, my already-positive opinion of the film has become even more positive, albeit still tinged with a slight bit of "why'd-they-do-that" negativity.

This is the first of two posts I am going to do about the movie.  More on that second one later; let's get the first written before we worry about the second, and the first is going to consist mostly of me rambling my way through the various thoughts I've accumulated during the course of my recent rewatches.  We'll be illustrating the review with copious screencaps, too, so if my words bore you, there'll at least be some pretty pictures to look at.




I wouldn't necessarily count that image as one of them, though.  I continue to be unimpressed by the way the movie was marketed, especially the "YOU WILL KNOW HER NAME" tagline.  I mean, is the lack of familiarity with the name "Carrie White" an issue in any way?  Not really, not in-story or in our own world, where we've been hearing the name for forty years now.  It's a tagline that means nothing, says nothing, and gained the movie's box-office nothing.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bryant Has Issues #44

Going on two months since the last Bryant Has Issues.  Perhaps I should have a standardized spiel about how the delay was unintended, so forth, etc., that I can just copy-n-paste into the beginning of each one of these things going forward.

To tell the truth, though, I've been waiting on purpose.  For what?

For this:




As you might recall, when last we spoke of Joe Hill NOS4A2 spinoff Wraith, the carload of merry convicts was arriving at Christmasland.  We deeply suspected that nothing good would happen to them once they arrived, and the cover to issue #4 is a strong indication that our suspicions were well-founded.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pardon My French (and German)

No, not because of all the profanities I use.  Sorry bout 'em, though, I guess.

Instead, this:




Quoi?!?

For those of you who have not heard about it already, this is the "cover" of an upcoming French e-book by Stephen King.  "Sale Gosse" is a short story -- English translation, "Bad Little Kid" -- that King is publishing exclusively in France and Germany, as a means of saying thanks to his European fans, who greeted him with great warmth on his recent overseas book tour for Doctor Sleep.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Review of "Under the Dome" Season 1 on Blu-ray

Well, here's a post that's officially months overdue.

The first season of Under the Dome was released on Blu-ray and DVD way back on November 5.  Remember, remember, the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason plot; I mainly remember the fifth of November as when this Blu-ray set was bought.

Well, now that that silliness is out of the way, let me tell you that I had not intended to allow the better part of four months slip by before posting a review of the set.  However, I didn't want to toss a review out merely for the sake of having one out; it made more sense to me to sit down and actually watch the discs, and base my review around whether my opinions of the season changed from the mostly-negative place where they ended up when last summer's run of episodes concluded.

The problem with that was that I didn't have much desire to actually sit and watch the episodes.  I've been watching other things: the final two seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise, for example, plus some Disney Blu-rays I got myself for Christmas.  Oh, let's be clear: I had time to rewatch Under the Dome.  I just didn't want to rewatch Under the Dome.

Hence, no review until now.

But I was finally able to motivate myself to tackle it, and so I plowed through the thing over the course of about a week, taking it chunks one disc at a time.

And guess what?

I still have all the same problems I had with it last summer.  But, that said, I did find myself engaged by it sporadically, and I'd be a liar if I didn't admit to getting at least enough enjoyment out of the rewatch to make it worth my time to have done so.

Before we proceed, here are a few photos of my Amazon-exclusive set, the one what come with the snow globe:


Here's an our-of-focus scan of the top of the box that housed the whole set.  It's out of focus because it's juuuuuuuust too wide to fit on my scanner's glass surface; so it's poised a few millimeters (or maybe less) above it.

Here's the "back," which is actually one of the side panels.

Uh-oh.  When you have to include instructions for how to get to the discs, maybe you've overcomplicated things a bit.

Here's an iPad photo.  You'd think it'd've turned out better.  But no; it really didn't.

If you look carefully and ignore how out of focus this photo is, you can sort of see Barbie's bloody handprint.

The halved cow was a nice touch.

As referenced in the instructions, you take the top of the globe off to get to the discs, which are housed in the chamber beneath.  Since I plan on actually playing them on occasion -- or at least wish to have them readily available should the desire to play one of them strikes me -- I took them out, put them in individual sleeves, and do not plan to ever put them back inside the globe.  If the regular Blu-ray set ever goes on deep discount, I might actually spend a few bucks on it just to have a more shelf-ready version; at that point in time, I'll put the discs back in their original housing.  Am I lame for thinking about doing that?  Answer: yes.  Yes I am.

Was this snow-globe set worth the money I spent on it?  Eh . . . arguably not.  The globe is a bit of a disappointment, and I really wish they hadn't decided to house the discs beneath/within it.  The thing to do would have been to have the standard Blu-ray set be inside the package, and for the snow globe to simply be a snow globe.  And maybe look more like an actual snow globe.  Just sayin'.  As is, the set presents significant problems for the collector in terms of where to place it on one's shelf.  I've got all my King DVDs and Blu-rays on their own shelf, and this set really doesn't fit anywhere with them.  Is that a problem?  No, not really.  But it is a minor annoyance, and I expect things that I spend $90 on perhaps NOT be describable as "minor annoyances."

But so be it.  Let's move along and not worry about it.

This review is not going to tackle the episodes one-by-one.  I did that last summer, and for those of you who may have missed those reviews, I'll now favor you with episode-by-episode links:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Nobody Should Think About Winter In August: A Review of "Night Surf"

Originally published in the Spring 1969 edition of Ubris, the University of Maine literary magazine, "Night Surf" is best-known to King fans as the short story in Night Shift that serves as a bit of a spin-off to The Stand.  The story seems to take place in the same universe as that epic novel, and tells the tale of a small group of people who are trying to continue their lucky streak of avoiding Captain Trips.


image stolen from: http://www.akyle.f2s.com/images/ubris_4.jpg


Viewing it only as an overture to The Stand is selling "Night Surf" . . . wait, wait, hold on a second.

Fair warning: I seem to be determined to type "Night Shift" instead of "Night Surf"; I've corrected myself three times now, and suspect that eventually I'm going to make the mistake and fail to notice/correct it.  So when and if that happens, my apologies; I do know the difference between the two, but my fingers apparently can't keep the difference in mind tonight.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Look at Some Vintage Issues of Cinefantastique

If you are a child of the American eighties like me, and if you are also (like me) obsessed with sci-fi/fantasy movies and television and whatnot, then odds are good that you are familiar with the magazine Cinefantastique.
  
In the actual decade of the eighties, I myself was always more of a Starlog kid. In fact, I don't recall ever buying an issue of Cinefantastique until 1990, when an issue devoted to Star Trek caught my eye.  I bought the issue, and then bought the mag on a regular basis for the next few years, until my magazine-buying phase sort of died out in general.

Among the highlights of the Cinefantastique collection I built was a trio of issues that had cover stories devoted to Stephen King: on the movie version of Misery, and then the television versions of The Stand and The Shining.

Sadly, those three -- along with a later issue devoted to Babylon 5 -- were the only copies that survived my move from one apartment to another in 2003.  That was a hellish move, beset with all sorts of personal strife and such, and there were numerous boxes of things that accidentally got thrown away rather than moved.  I didn't realize this until I finished unpacking several days later, at which point in time, it was too late to do anything about.  Luckily, my Stephen King collection was 100% intact, which explains how I still have those three issues.  (As for the Babylon 5, issue, I have no idea how that one survived -- every single one of my Starlogs was lost, as were all of my Star Trek magazines and comics, as well as most of the novels, and all my Premieres, most of my Entertainment Weeklys, et cetera.  Ugh . . . just thinking about it makes me ill.)

Jump-cut about a decade into the future, and I found myself looking at the Misery issue.  As I am wont to do, I began getting nostalgic about all those old magazines that I lost, and so I determined that I'd start trying to reacquire them.  In the process of doing so, it made sense to also go back and start getting older issues from before the time I began collecting the magazine.

Since I would probably call myself a bigger Stephen King fan than I am a fan of anything else, it made sense to begin by tracking down the other King-related cover issues.  From there, I did a little research and found out what issues contained King-related articles, and started working on those as well.  While I did this, I also picked up a few issues that had promising cover stories about other things I am passionate about (or, in some cases, that were too cheap to pass up).  I've even picked up a few Starlogs, though only a few.

Here's the upshot: I figured it would be fun to write a (probably very lengthy) post about it, replete with images and fun quotes and the like.  Some of this will not be King-specific, but much of it will, and anyways, I think it'll be fun.  So let's get to it, starting with:


 
 
The superb cover art here is courtesy of Roger Stine, and boy, I'd love to own a poster-size version of that.  I mean, it's horrifying (the image of Carrie drenched in blood is one that I saw as a child, and was kinda wrecked by), but I love it.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Review of "Wolverton Station" [by Joe Hill]

This isn't a recession, you know.  This is reality.  You people are finding out the actual worth of the things you make: your sneakers, your software, your coffee, your myths.  You people are finding out now what it's like when you push too far into the deep, dark woods.

About a month ago, Amazon released a new e-book from Joe Hill, a short story called "Wolverton Station."  It isn't, technically-speaking, actually a new story; it made a prior appearance in a magazine in 2011, just so's you know.  
  
For whatever reason, it took me until now to make time to actually sit down at the computer and read it (I don't have a Kindle, so have to use the Kindle PC app, like a savage).  But having read it finally, I am here to give you a quick thumbs-up/thumbs-down.




Thumbs most definitely up.

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Review of "xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths"

Over the holidays, I acquired a copy of the new anthology xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths, which I purchased for two reasons: "The Status of Myth" by Kelly Braffet and Owen King, and "Lost Lake" by Emma Straub and Peter Straub.

Now, I need to confess something.  I may have mentioned it before at some point; apologies if you've already heard it, but it's an important point for me to make up front.  Or at least, it seems important to me, so let's roll with it.

The point is this: I am terrible at reading anthologies.  I don't buy a huge number of them.  In fact, I tend only to buy them if one of my favorite authors has a story in it.  And then, I am awful -- just absolutely awful, ya ken -- about ignoring all the other stories and only reading the ones written by authors I already like and read regularly.  This always makes me feel like a dick.  Always, always, always.  Not only because it feels -- and is -- insulting to the authors whose work I'm skipping out on, but also because you've got to figure that I'm missing out on some stories I'd like, maybe even love.

The real problem is one of time: I just don't have as much of it as I wish I had.  Who does?  Nobody I know.  But because of that, it has caused me to become extremely selective in terms of my reading habits over the last decade or so.  That bums me out.  In a perfect world, I'd read everything, by everyone.  This isn't that world, though, so I find myself severely behind the times when it comes to reading.  The same thing is beginning to happen with movies, and happened long ago with music and television.  The sad fact is that the older I get, the less I'm able to be a generalist; I'm forced into being a specialist when it comes to my hobbies.

It bums me out, but what can a body do?

A body can do this: resolve to, at the very least, put an end to the trend of only reading one or two stories out of anthologies I purchase.  From now on, if I buy one, I'm reading the whole thing.

I started that resolution with xo Orpheus.  How'd it work out?

Pretty dang good.  Read on for details.




The concept of the anthology is based on the idea that humanity has entered an Age of Anthropocene, an epoch in which humanity has had an unprecedented effect on its environments.  Not necessarily a good one; not entirely a bad one, either, though.  Anyways, the upshot of it, according to editor Kate Bernheimer in her introduction, is that in a great many ways, WE are now the gods.  If we are having that huge a hand in our own development, what does "myth" mean?  Surely it can't mean the same thing it meant even a few hundred years ago.  Right?