Sunday, December 13, 2015

I've Made Some Things For You: A Review of "The Bazaar of Bad Dreams"

It's Wednesday, November 4, 2015 as I write this.  A new King book -- The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, natch -- came out yesterday.  My copies (I bought two, one to take notes in) came in the mail yesterday, and I did a strange thing: I didn't start reading it.
Long story short: I had a few projects I wanted to finish up because I knew that if I dove immediately into a new King collection, I'd put them off and possibly never get them done.  
Projects are now finished, however, and I'm typing these words in preparation for sitting down and getting to work reading.  I'm not planning to do what I normally do, which is to read it in a mere day or two.  Since this is a collection of stories (the vast majority of which I've already read via their original appearances), I figure on taking it slower.
Plus...?  A new James Bond movie comes out this week.  I'll be seeing it tonight, which means that I've got to get to work on my review of it for You Only Blog Twice.  The plan there is to watch it three or four times: at least once for enjoyment, and at least as-many-more-as-I-can-squeeze-in for note-taking purposes (no, I won't be taking notes right there in the theatre; that would be lame).  Do the math on that and you'll see that that is going to consume a goodish portion of the next week.  
That doesn't leave all that much time for reading, so this post is going to take a bit of a backburner.
I know what you're thinking: this sonofabitch who writes a Stephen King blog is shoving Stephen King over the side of the boat in favor of James Bond!  Traitor!!!
It isn't so, folks, cry your pardon.
The fact is, I have read the majority of The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.  So while it's exciting to have it in hand and to integrate it onto my shelf, it's a very different thing than if a new King novel had come out.  "And," you ask, "if it had...?"
Man, that's a tough call.  My King fandom is probably superior to my Bond fandom, but my Bond fandom is much older.  Still, if I have to choose, I choose King.
But I'd still give preference to the new Bond movie.  Here's why: seeing it on the best possible screen is important to me.  It's going to be playing in IMAX near me, so I will be watching it on that screen every time I watch it.  And that's a thing with an expiration-date on it: it will only be there for two weeks, until the new Hunger Games movie comes out.  A new King novel, on the other hand, will be in hardback forever, and my armchair and reading lamp will be in the same place.  My cats are still going to want to get in my lap in a few days.  King can wait, because the experience will be the same, whereas the experience of Spectre will be different in a couple of weeks.  Not hugely; but enough to make a difference to me.
Now, here's a question: what if it was a new Dark Tower novel?
In that case, I think my brain would probably explode, negating the need for a choice of any kind.
In any case, it's irrelevant.  The format of The Bazaar of Bad Dreams means that I can go ahead and start reading, and take it a story at a time.  If 007 muscles Uncle Steve out of the way for a day or two, well, I'll pick back up with a new story once that has passed.  Simple!  No fuss, no muss.
My plan, then, is to write this review piecemeal, story by story as I progress.  It won't be super-intensive, and there won't be spoilers, so it ought to be quite easy to write.  Hell, I've already written about most of these stories anyways, so it's possible that I'll mostly be comparing this read to the first one to see how my opinions have or haven't changed.
I love it when King gives us an introduction or an afterword to his books, and he's typically in fine form when it comes to doing so for his short-story or novella collections.
This one is no different.  "I've made some things for you," he says at the beginning, by way of creating the atmosphere of a midnight street-vendor hawking his lovingly-handmade wares.  It's a lovely device that (A) immediately turns me into a fan of this collections's title whereas I'd only been so-so on it before; and (B) reminds me of the beginning of Aladdin.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Truth Inside The Lie votes "NO"

I like Idris Elba.  I really do.  I haven't seen most of his most noted roles, such as The Wire or Luther.  But he was great in the things I've seen him in.
He's not Roland Deschain, guys.  He just isn't.  And yet, Hollywood is apparently thinking about it.
Here's my problem with that: Roland's race is actually rather important to the story of The Dark Tower, and there are three reasons for that (at minimum):
  • He's intended to be visually reminiscent of old-Hollywood cowboy gunfighters in general, and of Clint Eastwood specifically.  Last time I checked, Eastwood was as white as it gets.
  • He's intended to be a Twinner for Stephen King himself in some ways.  Last time I checked, King was as white as it gets.
  • The racial component of Roland's (and, to a lesser extent, Eddie's) initial-stages relationship with Detta/Odetta/Susannah would be changed utterly by making Roland a dark-skinned man.
There are arguments to be made as to how you could easily alter all of those things and still have the result be a good piece of cinematic art.  For example, you could cast both Roland and Eddie with black actors, cast Susannah as a white woman, and have Detta call them both . . . well, you know what she'd call them.
But that doesn't really have the same meaning, does it?  Susannah being a crippled but privileged young white woman in the sixties just doesn't carry the same weight.  Will she go out to colored-only roadhouses and pick up black dudes and cocktease them in the parking lot?  Not quite the same thing.
Similarly, it's not the same casting a black man as a cowboy archetype.  I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's the difference between Clint Eastwood and Cleavon Little, but the fact is that a dark-skinned man in this role is going to elicit a different emotion when he strolls into Tull and everyone looks at him funny.  Unless they are all dark-skinned, too; which would be an elegant and interesting solution to the matter.
Elba would also be ill-suited to play an American West avatar; not that that is an absolute must, because there is room to argue that the High Speech of Gilead could sound like just about anything.  I was fine with Javier Bardem as Roland for that reason (and also for the fact that he looks like he could walk into a room and kill everyone in it without blinking, a quality Elba also possesses to some degree).  But if they're casting Elba, they're going to have him do an American accent, and his Southern accent in Prometheus was horrendously awful.  Good performance; terrible accent.
All of this makes me think that fidelity to the source material is almost certainly the last thing on the mind of the people making this film.  If you're confused -- or disdainful -- of the impact Roland's skin tone has on the subthemes of the movie, then you're not concerned with the books themselves, I'd imagine.  You're not interested in intricacies.  You're intrigued by the dozens of articles you read -- or that your intern read and told you about -- covering the buzz surrounding the idea of Elba playing James Bond.  You're seeing dollar signs; you're seeing people clapping you on the back for the diversity of your casting.
You're not seeing The Dark Tower.
Now, all that said, I'm a great believer in diversity when it comes to movies and television shows.  And -- as I've been arguing at least as far back as 2011 -- when the race of a character doesn't have any impact on the story, I think the movie producer who isn't actively pushing for diversity is making a woeful mistake in 2015.  Same goes for gender and sexual-orientation concerns.  So, for example, you couldn't -- and shouldn't -- get away with making a lily-white version of The Stand in 2015.  And that's fine, because I'd argue that the majority of those characters can be white, black, brown, red, yellow, or just about any other color.  A few, not so much; but mostly, it's irrelevant.
I don't think the same is true of Roland, or Eddie, or Jake, or Susannah.  Other characters, sure.  For example, good lord but Elba would make for a hell of a Father Callahan.  You might want to consider changing him into a former Baptist minister instead of a former Catholic priest, granted; but otherwise, he'd own the hell out of that role.  He'd be a beyond-awesome Cort.  He'd be a beyond-awesome Eldred Jonas, or (if you were okay with this causing changes to the themes of the hypothetical film version of Hearts In Atlantis) Ted Brautigan, or the Tick-Tock Man.  What a Gasher he would be!  I'd buy him as Walter, too.

As Roland?  I can't get there.  I'm a great believer in the idea that no one race is better than another; and I'm a great believer in the idea that eventually, our species can get to a place in ourselves when we no longer see racial differences.  But that time has not yet come, and pretending that it has won't get us there.  So in some instances, I think you can change a character's race and have there be no impact on the story as a result; in others, I don't think you can.  Not for now.  Someday is not here yet.
And hey, while I'm at it, sure, why not, I'll go ahead and be that guy: you never hear these arguments going any direction but one.  Nobody is out there demanding that there be a Murder, She Wrote remake starring Hugh Laurie as Jesse Fletcher; nobody is out there demanding that we redo In the Heat of the Night with Jennifer Lopez in the Sidney Poitier role.  Nobody is calling for a Hawaiian Doctor Who.  I've heard about a gajillion people ask this, but if James Bond is destined to be played by a black man, why isn't Shaft destined to be played by a white man?  I have yet to hear anyone actually answer that in a satisfactory way, except to say that Shaft's race is important whereas Bond's isn't.  
This ignores the fact that Bond's race is actually immensely important; he was a wish-fulfillment stand-in for his creator, author Ian Fleming, whose race was assuredly important to his own life.  That, my friends, means that if you don't have Bond be a white dude, you're failing to ground the character in Fleming.  So be it; but I think that's the wrong move, just as I think it would be a mistake to fail to ground John Shaft in Ernest Tidyman.  I'd be just as opposed to seeing a white Shaft as I am to seeing a black 007.  Put a good enough actor in the role, and I'll grit my teeth and go with it; but there will be teeth gritted.
Ultimately, my problem with this movement is that it's focused (without anyone admitting that this is the case) on stamping out Whitey.  And hey, I get it: Whitey sucks.  Historically, he has sucked ass.  This is not lost on me; after all, I am of the clan Whitey, so I have seen some of that from the inside.   (Similarly, I am of the clan Male Oppressor, and I know what sort of bullshit we've been perpetrating on you ladies for eons.  Sorry about that.) 
But here's the deal: why would you want to kill Whitey and then wear all his old shirts and all his old underwear?  Why would you want to drive his old station wagon and live in his old house?  I'd think it would be more satisfying by far to get my own house, my own car, my own clothes, and then drive my awesome self past old sourpuss Whitey every day and flip him the bird while laughing about how awesome my life was.  Even if my life wasn't that awesome, that's how I'd want to play it; if I can't have an awesome life, I'd at least want Whitey to think I did.
I think there needs to be less focus on co-opting white characters for non-white actors than on commissioning stories told by non-white (and non-male) (and non-straight) storytellers.  It's the story, guys, not he who tells it.  Except that's kind of bullshit, isn't it?  Because to a large degree, I think the two things are one and the same.  
Let's start looking not for the black Roland, but for the black Stephen King.  I don't want to read or see a gay Spider-Man; I want to know what the gay Stan Lee would be like.  Where's my Muslim equivalent of Larry McMurtry?  Find me a Native American Tolkien, or a Japanese Gene Roddenberry, or an Indian Jim Henson.  
Don't take the short road, guys.  If you want actual diversity as opposed to a diversity mirage, you do it through the stories, not through the pictures between the pages.
All that said, if Big Dris ends up playing Roland, I'll go see it, and I'll try to do so with an open mind.  Give me Jennifer Lawrence as Susannah and Grumpy Cat as Oy, and maybe it'll be a classic.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Considering H.P. Lovecraft, Part 3

For today's post, I'm going to do several things.  First, I'd like to make a bunch of lists.  We all love making lists, right?  Right!  Well, why wouldn't we?  Specifically, the lists I'd like to make are these:
  • a chronological-by-composition list of all of H.P. Lovecraft's fiction, which would be the contents of a hypothetical edition of The Complete Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft from Truth Inside The Lie Press (minus the nonextant stories, of course)
  • a hypothetical table-of-contents for another Truth Inside The Lie press bestseller, the hypothetical The Essential Works of H.P. Lovecraft (which, you will note, contains some poetry and nonfiction)
  • a list of Stephen King stories that are directly Lovecraftian
Did I just make a list of lists?  Yes I did.
The second part of the agenda will be to simply have a look at a small library of Lovecraft-centric books, most of which I purchased during the course of the last few months, while I was in the thick of exploring Lovecraft's work.  In writing my first two Considering Lovecraft posts, I found it necessary to do a bit of research on the stories, and that process inevitably brought books to my attention; in many cases, I simply couldn't resist the lure to buy them.  I've read none of them yet, but I thought they were all worth showing you; that way, in case you get bitten by the Lovecraft bug, you'll at least have some info at your hands about what's out there.
My plan is to read all of these books eventually.  That ought to go without saying, but around these parts it's by no means uncommon to buy a book purely out of the desire to have it.  In a perfect world, I'd read every book; but this is an imperfect world in which there's only so much reading time to go around.  And the urge to get back to reading (and blogging about) Stephen King's books and stories is mounting daily; it won't be put off, nor should it.  Still, I'd like to intersperse my King explorations with delvings into these various Lovecraft books.  I think what I'll do each time I tackle one is come back to this post and edit it with whatever reviews and reactions seem appropriate.  I'll add a comment in the comments section each time, so if you are interested enough in all this to actually want to keep up with it, check the box that will allow you to be informed when new comments are published.
Alright, so let's get started on the list-making.  First up, I'd like to present a list of Lovecraft's fiction in chronological order by composition.  A few notes about that: (1) I'm doing it because it might be useful to somebody (me, for example); (2) it isn't as straightforward a task as it might seem, and in places where I'm straying into controversy I will explain myself as needed; and (3) due to how non-straightforward a task it is, it's entirely possible I will get something wrong, in which case I would appreciate you correcting me in the comments.
Much of the specific information will have been obtained from The H.P. Lovecraft Archive, an indispensable website that you are heartily encouraged to visit.  
In the cases where I have attributed multiple authors, I am listing them as I believe they ought to be listed.  I am following my gut and listing the authors in the order of what I perceive to be the order of contribution.  If I feel the story is primarily Lovecraft, his name comes first; if I feel he had a lesser hand, his name comes second.  In some cases, I may have listed works without his name at all; those stories will have explanatory notes.  

Monday, November 2, 2015

Considering H.P. Lovecraft, Part 2

For this post, I want to explore five trade paperbacks (all from Del Rey) which more or less round out our look at Lovecraft's prose fiction.  Three of these are composed almost entirely of the same stories we covered in Part 1 of this series, but I thought the collections were worth mentioning all the same, if only because they represent a good way to track down most of Lovecraft's stories.  If you're looking to get into his work, you could do a lot worse than snap up these volumes.

I enjoyed reading that Knickerbocker Classics edition of The Complete Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, but it's 1100 pages long, which means that it's pretty dang heavy.  One night, I had a cat in my lap while reading it, and I dozed off for a few seconds.  I worried that the book might split my poor kitty's skull open if it slipped out of my hands when I nodded off.  I'd like for my reading not to risk feline fatalities, so I suspect that future re-explorations of Lovecraft will almost certainly come via the paperbacks on today's agenda.

If my first indirect exposure to H.P. Lovecraft was via Stephen King's Night Shift and its tales "Graveyard Shift" and "Jerusalem's Lot" (as I think likely) then my first direct exposure to his work was via this collection:
I hate to immediately sidestep talking about that collection directly, but I am going to sidestep it nevertheless in favor of exploring some of personal memories and recollections.  Much of it will have nothing to do with H.P. Lovecraft's work in a literal sense; it'll be me-centric, and while I do believe there's some applicability to an exploration of Lovecraft's work, that might be mere justification on my part.

Either way, I'm going to make it super-duper easy for you to skip right over all that stuff,.  See the gnarly cover art above?  That's the work of Michael Whelan, whom Dark Tower fans will know as the artist for books one and seven of that series.  Below, I've posted better versions of the two paintings which comprise his art for this Lovecraft collection, and they will serve as signposts marking our re-emergence from St. Self-Indulgenceberg.  So alls you've got to do is scroll down a bit, and you'll have vaulted right over my meanderings.

Everyone else, thanks for sticking with me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Worst to Best: Stephen King Movie Posters

A commenter suggested this idea a while back, and it seemed like something that would make for a good Halloween post.  So here's your treat; it's moderately better than pennies or travel-sized toothpaste.  And it's even a few days early!
A few ground-rules: first of all, I'm only counting theatrically-released movies.  Television productions might well have promotional posters and artwork that is worth considering, but -- unless there is a persuasive reason to do so (for example, in the event of an international theatrical release) -- generally-speaking, they won't be considered here.
Second, my selection process on each movie's poster(s) needs to be talked about.  What I'm striving for is to only rank the posters that were released at the time of the film's initial release.  If there were more than one of those, and if it strikes my fancy to do so, I might end up ranking multiple posters from a single film.  (I did in one case, and didn't in another; we'll talk more about those choices when we get to them.)
What I will not be ranking is re-release posters, fan-made posters, or home-video marketing poster.  Unless I do so accidentally, which is always possible.  I will strive to use American-release posters, because I am an American and that's just how I roll; but if a foreign-release poster strikes my fancy, it might find its way into the mix.
Finally, let's be clear about something: I am not an expert when it comes to this sort of stuff, which means that I will be finding only what I can find by Googling and Wikipedia-ing and IMDb-ing it.  I make no pretensions toward this being a complete list of King-movie posters, so if and when I forget something major, don't hold it against me.
Sound good?  Okay!  Let's get to gettin'...

Honorable Mention -- Room 237 (2012) 

I've relegated this one to honorable-mention status for two reasons:

#1, since it draws its visual and design elements from another movie, I didn't feel like it was entirely right to count it here.

#2, I'm not positive this is an actual release poster and not a fan-designed poster.  I think it's legit, but to be honest, there are a lot of different designs, and I'm not sure which ones count and which ones don't.  It seemed easiest to just fling it into an Honorable Mention spot and call it a day.

#42 -- Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (1993)


Yes, it's true; Children of the Corn II was released theatrically.  Barely.  But we'll count it, if only so as to enable me to have a Children of the Corn movie in the final spot.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Considering H.P. Lovecraft, Part 1

I can't recall exactly when it was that I first encountered H.P. Lovecraft.  Deduction tells me that I almost certainly heard of him first by way of Stephen King, and it may have been in a piece of nonfiction.  Possibly Danse Macabre, or some introduction; I also have a dim memory of one of his characters (Ben Mears?) mentioning Lovecraft as though his were a name anyone ought to know.

It is a near-certainty that I read several of King's most Lovecraftian short stories prior to reading a single word by Lovecraft himself: "Graveyard Shift," "Jerusalem's Lot," "Crouch End," The Mist, and so forth.  Did I sense that they were homages?  Probably not, although I do distinctly recall understanding that "Jerusalem's Lot" was consciously written in a different style; I don't think I consciously understood it, though, if you can dig that.  I intuited it, is what I mean to say.

Eventually, I was moved to purchase a collection of Lovecraft's stories; specifically, Del Rey's The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre.  Whether this was expressly because of the mention(s) in King's work is an issue that is lost to me; I assume it probably was, based on nothing more than the time period at which I bought the book (early nineties).  But it may have been just as likely that I saw the cover and bought it because I thought it was cool.  And I was right; it was very cool.  I didn't read it for years, though; the early 2000s, to be specific.  But I'm not going to talk about that any further just now; that'll come during part two.  And yes, I'll show you the cover then.

For now, let's fast-forward somewhat.  A few years ago, circa March of 2012, I became a big fan of writer Alan Moore.  I'd known about him for years, and had read a number of his more prominent works (Watchmen, From Hell, V For Vendetta).  I'd long harbored a desire to read him a bit more fully, and one day I was in my local comics shop looking around when a new work by him caught my eye: it was called Neonomicon, and it was obviously something to do with Lovecraft.

I'd reread The Best of H.P. Lovecraft earlier that year for the third or fourth time, and had enjoyed it immensely; it had not gotten out of my head fully as yet.  And since Alan Moore was already there in a semi-permanent way, there was no going back from seeing this paperback: I bought it, I read it, I was pleasantly horrified by it, and I soon thereafter began buying everything by Moore that I could get my hands on.  I also began reading quite a lot that I found via other means; you're a grown-up with the Internet, so you probably know about that.  I bought quite a lot, though, and have been expanding that collection ever since.  Why, just today, I got this in the mail; I was astonished to recently find that it had never sold out, so I got 'em one step closer.

Longtime readers of this blog know that I'm big-time into Moore's work.  For a while, I was writing a regular comic-book-reviews column, and I briefly talked about Neonomicon during the very first one of those posts.  As I recall, it was that book that made we want to write the column in the first place.

Cut to 2015.  I'm not working on my blog as often as I'd like to, for a multitude of reasons.  Because of that, the comics column -- Bryant Has Issues, it was "winningly" named -- has fallen into a coma so deep that John Smith would feel sorry for it. It's been over a year since the last issue, and since then, a new monthly Alan Moore mini-series has begun appearing.  It's called Providence, and it is a twelve-issue sojourn into the world of H.P. Lovecraft.  There has been stuff in it so good that it has actively angered me not to be writing Bryant Has Issues any longer.

When news of the series was announced, I felt as though the time had come for me to explore Lovecraft's work a bit more fully.  I suspected it would enhance my enjoyment of Providence considerably; and thus far, I've been entirely correct about that.  So as to aid that in happening, I bought this:

That, friends, is an 1100-page book from Knickerbocker Classics.  List price is a mere $35, and you can almost certainly find a new copy for considerably less.  I did; I bought it last year, and began reading it.  Initially, I made only very slow progress; maybe a story per week, despite the early stories in the book being mostly very short indeed.

Friday, September 11, 2015

We Are No Longer Under the Dome

At least one commenter has expressed disappointment that I was not reviewing each episode of Under the Dome during its third season.  I'm disappointed, too; but the move to Thursdays made it nearly impossible for me to do so in a timely fashion (unless I'm on vacation, I work every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night), so I decided to just opt out.
I have been watching, though, and I thought it would be worth logging on tonight and dashing off a few brief words about the season in whole now that it has finished.
Spoilers ahead, so beware.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Worst to Best: James Bond Movies

What, you might ask, does James Bond have to do with Stephen King?
Answer: virtually nothing.  One of the main characters in The Langoliers might fairly be said to be a sort-of Bond-like figure, I suppose; plus, Pierce Brosnan starred in both The Lawnmower Man and Bag of Bones.  But that's about it.
Nope, this post is just 'cause, y'all; just 'cause.

Let's talk fandom for a moment.  Despite the hiatus The Truth Inside The Lie has (mostly) been on this year, y'all know me; know how I roll when it comes to Stephen King.  New book?  I'm there first day.  New short story?  I'm buyin' that magazine posthaste.  I watch all the movies, I read all the comics, I do my best to watch all the interviews and lectures.  In short: I'm a fan, and there's no need to prove it to anyone.

But while my King fandom is certainly my most voluminous fandom, it is by no means my oldest one.  That distinction goes either to Star Trek or to James Bond, and the reason why I included the "or" is because I literally can't remember which one I encountered and fell in love with first.  If one of Silva's goons had a gun to my head and insisted that I pick one, I'd say it was Bond that came first; but to be honest, I just don't know.

What I do know is that my love for both predates my love of Stephen King by at least ten years, and maybe close to a dozen.  This is not to say that I love either more than I love King; it's just to say that they come first if only in a chronological sense.

And because of that, those fandoms of mine helped me develop my sense of how to watch/read/interpret stories.  I became the sort of Stephen King fan I am in some degree because of the way I developed as a fan of both Bond and Trek.  In all three cases, I quickly became less than content to restrict myself merely to the primary form of those stories: I was not content only to view James Bond movies, and turned to the novels to supplement my enjoyment; the same goes for Star Trek; and in the case of Stephen King, the opposite was true.

The Truth Inside The Lie is, for me, an exploration of the reasons why: why am I a Stephen King fan?  What does it say about me?  Why did I become a massive King fan as opposed to a massive Tom Clancy fan?  I read both in high school; so why did one stick, and not the other?

Ultimately, it's a simple pursuit: who am I?  Why do I enjoy the things I enjoy?  Where did I come from, and where am I going?

So that's why talking about James Bond on this particular Stephen King blog is permissible.  In order to examine those "why"s, Bond has to be in the conversation somewhere.

If you are still reading and have not given yourself a cerebral hemorrhage through the viciousness of your rolling eyes, know ye one and all that I won't be doing much more fancy talk of that nature during this post.  I suspect I'll be talking about a lot of explosions, breasts, and theme songs instead, possibly sometimes all at once.

Let's get started by briefly considering the movie that gets my vote for the absolute worst James Bond movie of them all:
#25 -- Never Say Never Again (1983)


Purists will point out that Never Say Never Again is not a "real" James Bond movie, and from a certain point of view, they are right.  The film was not produced by the same production family that made the other Bond films, starting with Sean Connery in Dr. No and going up to this year's upcoming Spectre with Daniel Craig.

How, then, does Never Say Never Again exist?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Worst to Best: Stephen King First-Edition Mass-Market Cover Art

A reader suggested this topic as good fodder for a post a while back, and I agreed that it sounded like a worthy use of my time.  Now, finally, I'm actually getting it done!
A word about the format: my goal here is simply to rank the cover art for the books.  A moment's consideration will reveal the fact that nearly every title King has published -- and he's published a lot -- has been published in multiple editions.  In some cases, there may be well over a dozen editions in America alone.  It would be a fool's errand to try to rank all of those editions; I don't even have the energy (or the interest) to attempt to catalog them all, much less then figure out how to rank them.  I'm not saying it can't be done; but I'm saying it won't be done by me.  Ever.
So, here is my criteria: for each book, I will be considering whatever was the mass-market American first edition, be it hardback or paperback.  No limited editions will be considered; no British editions will be considered; no second editions will be considered.  Hopefully, no errors will be made regarding any of this, but if errors end up being made, I apologize for them in advance.
I also apologize in advance for the certain-to-occur poor choices on my part, and also for the incredible lack of scientific method which will be evinced.  You are welcoem to point them all out in the comments!
Without further ado, let's begin with the worst, which is unquestionably:

#74 -- Just After Sunset

For once, the shitty focus of this image is not the fault of my subpar scanner.
The jacket design here is courtesy of Rex Bonomelli, who seems to have felt that it was a good idea to make potential purchasers think their eyesight might finally have begun to fail.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Review of George Beahm's "The Stephen King Story"

Hard not to love a King scholar named "beam."
This book was published in 1991, and 1991 just so happened to be smack-dab in the early years of my Stephen King fandom.  I'd become a huge King fan in 1990, and had promptly purchased and read every book of King's that I could get my hands on.
I've said version of this elsewhere, and I apologize if you've heard it from me before, but it bears repeating: in 1991, there was no such thing as the Internet.  Not for people like me, at least.  Those of you who weren't around back then might have a hard time wrapping your mind around this idea, but take it from who knows: you couldn't just Google things; you couldn't fall down the rabbit hole of Wikipedia, or a Wiki devoted to your favorite subject; there were no fan blogs designed to put information about (insert obsession here) into the world.
That shit didn't exist, y'all.  That lack meant that one could be a major fan of some author or band or film director or whatever/whoever, and not know all that there was to know about that topic.  Information was sometimes very hard to come by; maybe magazines like Starlog or Fangoria would fill in some of your gaps, or maybe you'd go to a con and learn some things from panelists.  Or maybe not.  Maybe -- maybe -- you were stuck with whatever you were stuck with.
In my case, as it pertains to Stephen King fandom, I was mostly stuck with what I was stuck with: namely, King's books.  Not a bad thing to be stuck with!  But I wanted to know more, and a few books about King came along to help fill in those blanks.  Douglas E. Winter's Stephen King: The Art of Darkness was (I think) the first, but I found a copy of George Beahm's book The Stephen King Companion not long after.  I read that sucker probably half a dozen times.
At some point in 1991, I stumbled across Beahm's then-new book, The Stephen King Story, and I bought it and devoured it.  I reread it recently, and while it no longer contains the thrill of discovery that it possessed for me in 1991, it still entertained me and provided me with a satisfying narrative of the progression of the first couple of decades of King's career.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What's going on with "Cell"?

Hello, all!
I'm breaking the hiatus briefly to toss up a post about something which came to mind tonight.  
Say, uh . . . does anybody remember that time John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson starred in a movie version of Cell?  Filming has been finished for quite some time now, so wouldn't you figure that there'd be, like, a release date or something?
This is similar to what happened last year with both Horns and Mercy, which sat around for months waiting on somebody to actually distribute them.  Neither movie was all that good (the former is okay enough to be worth a look, whereas the latter is doo-doo), which leads me to my fear: Cell must not be too good, either.
Maybe I'll end up being wrong, but I doubt it.  If you've got a zombie movie with two major stars in it, you don't just sit on that sucker; you put it into theatres.
Unless it's crap, in which case you sit on it until you can figure out a way to minimize your loss.
So, my guess...?  We've got yet another crapola-fest on our hands.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Review of "Not Since Carrie: 40 Years of Broadway Musical Flops"

Hands up if you read while you're on the toilet...
I mean, honestly, what else are you going to do?  Sit there and think about politics?  Have imaginary conversations in your head between Sean Connery's James Bond and Roger Moore's James Bond?  Play Tetris?
No, of course you read.
For me, choosing a poop-time book is a matter of finding something that I can typically read in chunks that are either as small or as large as they need to be, which means that it can't be something too engrossing, lest it cause me to want to stay there longer than I actually need to be there.  But it also needs to be a book which, if the visit turns out to be relatively quick, can be easily put aside without leaving me with the sense that I've abandoned something.
Which brings me to this:
By the way, no; I'm not back.  Not really-for-real back, at least.  That'll happen eventually -- and the sooner the better -- but for now, work is still demanding too much of my mental energy for me to use my downtime to do anything but mindlessly veg out.  So it's been a lot of sorting digital comic books while listening to Burt Bacharach for me lately; not a bad use of time, that, but not conducive to blogging.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Meet Your New Pennywise

As per Variety, the title role in the upcoming remake of It has finally been cast:
That's Will Poulter, a 22-year-old British actor who has been doing VERY strong work for nearly a decade in movies ranging from Son of Rambow to We're the Millers to Voyage of the Dawn Treader to (I assume) the upcoming The Revenant, in which he is the fourth lead behind people like Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Monday, March 2, 2015

New Story Out Now -- "A Death"

Howdy, y'all.
The blog is still on hiatus, but I am taking an ever-so-brief break to bring to your attention "A Death."  "A Death," evidently, is a brand-new short story which appear in the March 9 issue of The New Yorker.
However, it's available online for free right now:

There is also a brief interview with King about the story:

I had not heard of this at all until it popped up in my Google Alerts email.  And so, of course, I pass the knowledge on to you.  Do with it as you will!
See you soon, I hope!