Wednesday, November 20, 2019

A Review of Richard Chizmar's ''Gwendy's Magic Feather''

On the docket for today: the Stephen King storytelling universe expands by way of a Castle Rock book written not by King himself, but by a duly-licensed compatriot.
  
  

 

Way back in 2012, I fretted about the possibility of something like this.  Thus spake 2012 Bryant:

Once -- and let me be clear: I hope this doesn't happen for another thirty years, but it WILL happen eventually -- Stephen King reaches the clearing at the end of the path, there is almost certainly going to be interest in continuing his legacy in some way.  Some smart-aleck is going to want to write more Dark Tower novels, or a sequel to The Stand, or another Jack Sawyer adventure.  Under certain circumstances, I'd be okay with that: if it was Joe Hill or Owen King, for example, or Peter Straub, or even Scott Snyder.  Someone who had an actual connection to King.  I'd still be dubious, but I'd at least be interested to see what they did with the material.  And even if the writer is unconnected to King, but still a genuine talent, I'd try my best to give it a fair shot.
But what if it's just some Joe Blow type, some mook with good intentions but an insufficient talent level?  Would I be okay with it then?  Probably not.
The thing is, I don't know exactly why any of this should bother me.  If the worst-case scenario happens, and Stephen King were to die five years from now and somehow Stephenie Meyer were to get ahold of the rights to The Dark Tower and then rewrite the whole series, it would undoubtedly suck ... but so what?  It would infuriate me, but should it?  After all, nobody would be forcing me to read it, and it's not like my copies of the real books would disappear.
I had to think about all of this for a while before I finally figured it out: it makes me mad because I know that WHATEVER it ended up being, I'd still read it!  It's not that I wouldn't want to: I would want to not want to, but I'd still, despite my own potential distaste for it, read it.  I've got DVD copies of Creepshow III and The Mangler Reborn to prove it, sadly.


It seemed like a thing that was bound to happen, and while Gwendy's Magic Feather isn't fully that, it's close enough that I kind of feel the winds beginning already to blow in the direction about which I was pre-grousing in 2012.  Hulu's Castle Rock series is a major step in that direction already (and not one which pleases me), but at least that's film.  Prose is something else entirely.


There are, arguably, two extant novels that already fit the bill somewhat: The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer and The Journals of Eleanor Druse.  Those companions books to (respectively) Rose Red and Kingdom Hospital were (ghost-)written by Riddley Pearson and Richard Dooling, but Pearson's book was marketed in a way that made people think it might have been penned by King.  It wasn't, but it sold well enough that clearly plenty of folks were either fooled or willing to take the plunge based merely on the association.  And both, frankly, are good books in their own right; so really, what's the problem?
  
As it relates to Gwendy's Magic Feather, I suppose I'd conclude that there mostly isn't one.  After all, I think a strong argument could be made that in its final form, Gwendy's Button Box is slightly more a Chizmar book than a King book.  I didn't feel that way in my initial review of it in 2017, but King's foreword to the sequel seems to hint in that direction.  Even if it isn't, Chizmar's involvement should not be minimized; many King fans (and I've been guilty of this in my time) see his name and then let their eyes go blurry to anyone else's involvement, but that's a disservice to his co-author.  That being the case, why shouldn't Chizmar write a second Gwendy Peterson story if he's inclined to do so (and if King approves)?  No reason for him not to, so I'm kind of having a not-quite-appropriate conversation here; it's a shoe worth keeping an eye on, but it doesn't really fit Gwendy's Magic Feather.
 
Mark my words, though: we may yet have to contend -- be it decades from now or mere years -- with sanctioned sequels to books that were entirely King's.  Will someone give us the story of what Charlie McGee has been up to all these years?  Will Pennywise return to haunt Derry yet again?  Will we find out what's transpired in the world of The Stand?  Will fucking Cujo have puppies with Christine or some bullshit like that?  Don't rule it out.  I'll say again what I said in 2012: in the right hands, maybe there's some merit to a few of those ideas.  I can't, and don't, rule it out.

But I worry.  I worry a lot.  And frankly, by being given the honor of working with Castle Rock as a setting in the Gwendy's books, Richard Chizmar is now somebody a King fan like me has to keep an eye on.  If an expansion of King's literary universe of the sort I hypothesized about in the above paragraph were to begin taking shape in the near future, Chizmar would surely be a prime candidate for joining that work crew.
  
To me, that makes it valid to view Gwendy's Magic Feather at least partially through a lens that I would not otherwise use: namely, I feel invited to look at the book not as a Richard Chizmar book, but as a would-be Stephen King book.

So, how is Gwendy's Magic Feather?  (Spoilers lie ahead; I didn't feel like withholding them this time, so you've been warned.)
  
It's mediocre.  More on that in a bit.  But first, let's talk about how short it is.  At 333 pages, it clocks in at a much more fulsome length than Button Box.  However, a good portion of the book consists of blank pages.  The way the book is laid out, chapters only begin on the right-hand side.  So if a chapter ends on, say, page 265, 266 will be a blank page and 267 is where the next chapter will start.  The book contains an astonishing 72 chapters; you can do the math on that yourself, but suffice it to say that most chapters are only two to three pages in length.  Some are a mere page, and most -- all? -- of those are a single paragraph, so those pages are really quarter pages.
  
Does this matter?  Man, a book's length doesn't matter to me much a bit, no.  However, brief chapters begin to irk me pretty badly after a while; they result in a constant start-and-stop rhythm that produces a feel of shallowness, as though very little of consequence is being said.  An argument could be made that this approach actually heightens sudden and unexpected action when such moments occur; but for me, the primary result is that it feels as if the author couldn't be bothered to sit at the keyboard for more than half an hour at a time, so didn't.  That's almost certainly a false perception on my part, and I know that; but it IS my perception, just the same, and so when I realized that the entire book was going to read in the way, I kind of lost a lot of my interest.  Which, to be truthful, was only moderate to begin with.
  
Anyways, because I'm a weirdo, I decided to make a tally of how much dead space there is in this book.  Yes, I actually counted.  There are (once the foreword begins on page 7)  a whopping forty-five blank pages strewn throughout the book.  Those are just the blanks; if you add up the cumulative dead space that appears at the beginnings of each chapter (pretty close to half a page for each) and at the ends, you might arrive at something around an additional 65.5 pages of blank white space.  That's the total I came up with, and I was being relatively conservative in my estimates.  In other words, we're talking something approaching a third of the book.  A third, y'all.
  
Don't misunderstand me; I'm not trying to advance any sort of conspiracy theory or whatever.  The price for the book is $25, same as Gwendy's Button Box (which didn't quite hit 175 pages [and which had similarly short chapters]).  I'm not accusing anyone of inflating the book's length, either for monetary gain or for any other reason.  I'm just pointing out facts.  Speaking of which, I will point out that of the 146 pages that Elevation numbers, I counted three of them as being blank; so there's a comparison for you.
  
And again, I'm not accusing anyone of anything.  I am, however, suggesting that the steady accumulation of blank white space, which I seemingly encountered on every second or third page-turn, helped to reinforce my essential feeling about the novel: that it is shallow and unmemorable.  King's own work has rarely struck me in that way.  It does happen (the aforementioned Elevation, for one example, the Bill Hodges trilogy for another, and much -- though not all -- of The Institute for another), though, and when it does it makes me return to an analogy King has used to describe his own creative process.  He's likened it to excavation: he thinks of story ideas as fossils which must be uncovered, painstakingly and with little to no advance knowledge of what shape the fossil might take, including its size.  What readers perceive as depth in King's work, I think, is evidence of his thoroughness in his excavations.
  
Using the same analogy, something like End of Watch or even The Institute feels like a fossil that was only partially removed from the Earth, and was probably not removed in its entirety; there was perhaps more there to get, but King didn't quite manage to get it.  Gwendy's Magic Feather, then, feels like a case of finding one rib and maybe a tooth or two and calling it quits.  And if those hundredish pages of blank white space pad the book out to a third more than its actual length, well, I'm not point-blank saying that that is an attempt to make the book seem more substantial than it is; but I am point-blank saying that it compounds (if only for me) the problem of a book which seems awfully insubstantial.
  
Part of the problem is that Gwendy herself is as bland a heroine as any I know of.  I actually found her blandness to be somewhat charming in Gwendy's Button Box; she is, generally-speaking, just a good person all around.  That's why Richard Farris gives her the box in the first place; he reckons it'll be safe with her.  Spoiler alert: the only thing that happens in the sequel is that R.F. needs to hide the box out again for a while, so he gives it to Gwendy, who puts it to no particularly poor use once again.  Not that I want her to.  It's just ... is this really a compelling story?  A woman is given a powerful box which can do major things, and she uses it to save her mother from cancer, a deed which doesn't seem to cause any problems.  In fact, the box also helps her turn into Johnny Smith for a while so that Gwendy can help solve some murders.  Because this is Castle Rock, so of course.
  
In the end, R.F. shows up again, spouts some cryptic stuff, tells Gwendy she's been a good girl again, and fucks off.  He's the same as he was in the first book: nothing whatever like Randall Flagg, which makes the decision to hint that he IS Randall Flagg very strange indeed.  My official assumption is that the "Richard Farris" thing was wholly Richard Chizmar's idea; I cannot otherwise account for how unlike Flagg this R.F. seems.
  
The novel begins in Washington, D.C., in December 1999.  We find out that Gwendy became a bestselling author who then became a documentary filmmaker (and Oscar-winner) who then became an activist and politician who THEN got elected to the House of Representatives.  She's young, beautiful, progressive, and so virtuous that she may as well be a Disney princess.  In other words, she's a liberal man's jerkoff material.  I take no issue with this; others will roll their eyes so hard that they appear to be in a slot machine.  There's not much in the way of politics in the book, just a mild thing here or there designed to tell one what Gwendy's aims are; I think the main reason Chizmar went that route with her is to make the case that Gwendy could, if she so chose, wreak political havoc by using the button box -- but since she is virtuous, she chooses not to.  Did she have to be a politician for this to be the case?  Nope.  Sure didn't.  But hey, fine by me.  (Weird decision to make it Castle Rock canon that Bill Clinton was defeated and kept from a second term, though.  Somebody named Hamlin -- not Harry -- was elected in his place.  I'm thinking this must contradict something in King's own work somewhere; surely Clinton's second term is mentioned in one of Steve's books or stories, right?)
  
Chizmar gets some mild juice out of setting part of the action -- such as it is -- around the impending Y2K thing.  No, it does not actually happen in this book.  A big part of the climax (such as IT is) occurs on New Year's Eve, but no, Y2K does not actually rear its head.  Which, given the Clinton-to-Hamlin change, struck me as a strange and false note; why signal that we're in an alternative universe and then imply that a major (non-)event is on the way but then NOT pull the trigger on providing further alternatives to real events?  If there was a fossil to be dug up there, it's still in the ground.
 
I'm being more negative than I intended, but I suppose that's my genuine reaction making itself known.  I zipped through the book in a couple of sittings -- not quite four hours all in all, I think (I didn't time myself or nothin') -- and found myself moderately involved in it at times.  The sheer amount of blank space/pages got on my nerves, as did the brevity of the chapters, but otherwise it was a painless read.  Do I feel, based on this, that Chizmar would be a good candidate to literarily cosplay as Stephen King in the future?
  
Absolutely not.  And if he does, I hope he'll bring a better set of digging tools with him than he did this time.
  
*****

It occurs to me belatedly that I didn't touch much upon the titular feather.  The fact that I forgot it should tell you how important it is to the story.  Hint: not very.  It's a "magic" feather that we learn about Gwendy having bought from an older kid years ago in exchange for a sack of quarters.  Allegedly, she always believed thereafter that it was a magic feather, just because the kid said it was.  The idea, I think, is that Gwendy's belief stems from her purity, and that her goodness -- made important by way of her continued ability to spurn the less-savory uses of the button box -- in turn stems from that belief.  So the book, then, is ostensibly a celebration of Gwendy's belief (i.e., her faith), which is what powers her goodness.
  
My knee-jerk reaction is to be snarky about this, but I'll take some inspiration from Gwendy herself and tamp that down.  Thing is, though, I just don't think Chizmar does much with Gwendy's goodness.  She's kind of a saint.  Okay.  So what?  We need more saints in the real world, so I guess if maybe Gwendy inspires somebody to not be a dick (if only during a single paragraph) in a blog post, then she could theoretically inspire something more.  Couldn't a more compelling story have accompanied it, though?  Is what I'm saying.
  
Maybe I'm just missing something.  If so, you are cordially invited to point it out to me in the comments.

33 comments:

  1. (1) "...so really, what's the problem?"

    I think the answer can be summed up in five simple words: "This is not Stark Trek". I happen to believe that statement is true. The question is precisely why is it true? Here is where I think the Fossil analogy can be useful once more.

    Using "Trek" as a control example, let's take the case of Roddenberry, the first guy to start that whole particular excavation. First he uncovers a vague sort of outline of an entire story skeleton. The best description he can give to it is "Wagon Train to the Stars". Still, he's by no means a lazy digger. He's not content to rest it there. Instead, he keeps digging with a patient yet methodical dedication.

    Eventually, Roddenberry discovers that what seemed like a single skeleton is really an entire rich field of fossils. Some of the specimens that begin to emerge as he continues his excavation even reveal their own names in time, such as Kirk, Spock, McCoy, etc. It takes a while, but eventually Roddenberry is able to enlist the help of other diggers who are willing to treat the fossils with as much respect as they deserve. It may not always be a good excavation, yet it's clear enough that the dedication on display means the bones are all in good hands.

    In comparison, when we come to items like "Discovery" is where I'd argue the analogy doesn't so much break down, so much as change its nature. If "Trek" and most of its off-shoots can be considered genuine fossils, then I'd argue the reason "Discovery" just seems so off is because what if it's not a Fossil at all? What if it's a counterfeit? The simplest explanation for why anyone would want to concoct such a phony could be down to a question of a kind of laziness and lack of dedication that Roddenberry and the others never had. I think that might be the real reason for legit concerns over how King's legacy will be treated. Too many non-committal hired hands with their eyes on easy money, rather than telling a good story.

    (2) I just know I wish all those sequel ideas (Cujo puppies et al) didn't sound so less implausible than they once were.

    (3) This is gonna sound strange. Have you noticed how the type of Gwendy character keeps popping up in all kinds of media lately? You call her a liberal wet dream. However the character I'm thinking across less as a liberal and more like a one-dimensional parody of the word or idea.

    The real strange part is how I keep seeing a lot of disparate writers and artists re-using this type or trope with increasing frequency. I'm just left wondering how the hell that can be?

    ChrisC

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    1. (1) I'm always happy to slag "Discovery" off a bit. Unfortunately, I'd have to say that the problem of false-fossildom in Trek began decades before that show rolled around. Looking at you, DS9. (Although really, later seasons of TNG had occasional issues, as did the feature films, even some of the ones made while Roddenberry was still alive.)

      "I think that might be the real reason for legit concerns over how King's legacy will be treated. Too many non-committal hired hands with their eyes on easy money, rather than telling a good story." -- Yes, absolutely. And sadly, King himself has been a poor steward of his legacy in that way already. There's simply no other explanation for "Castle Rock." Which, granted, isn't a book. But still, the fact that people think that what's happening on that show somehow counts as "Stephen King" (and people do) spells trouble on the horizon, so far as I'm concerned. In the case of Richard Chizmar, though, I think he at least cares; he's got his heart in the right place. Those turd-whirlers over at Hulu, I'm less convinced.

      (2) I know, right? I'm going to go to the "Castle Rock" well again. (That show has overtaken "Discovery" as my go-to complaint lately. So be it!) The most recent episode included a 400th-anniversary parade for the town. One of the cars rolling down the street? You guessed it. Christine. Black-tinted windows and everything. Ugh.

      (3) Nah, that doesn't sound strange at all. I'm sure many examples could be cited. I'm not enough of an expert to cite many, or do much speculating and/or analysis as to the origins. The first other potential example that *does* come to mind is Rey in the new Star Wars trilogy. And I think Rey is awesome, so for me she is a win in a way Gwendy never even approaches being. Now, if this were a movie and Gwendy were being played by an actor as good as Daisy Ridley, maybe I'd feel differently.

      Another example might be Michael Burnham on the aforementioned "Discovery." I wouldn't put her on the list, though; I don't think she's a particularly well-written character, but the writers *have* tried to give her plenty of flaws and quirks. Not successfully -- she's scarcely the same character from one week to the next -- but they've tried.

      "I'm just left wondering how the hell that can be?" -- Liberal agenda, of course. He said, sarcastically but also aware that it's at least partially true. And why not? Why should liberals not have an agenda? In the case of this particular book, the agenda might have been something like: find some blandly virtuous male character from some fantasy/sci-fi novel of yore, and come up with a female equivalent. If we've got to have shite characters, why can't they be girls every so often? Mission accomplished! I see no philosophical problem there; just an artistic one.

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    2. (1) I think what's likeliest to happen is that some fans will find themselves having to pick up a metaphoical marker and cross out which creative efforts can or cannot be considered canon.

      In a sense this is nothing new. It happens even now. If there's any appreciable difference then in its in whether or not this up to now private practice becomes something of a public function in fandom circles. It will be interesting to see this practice can develop on such a collective level, or what it could mean for the creative arts going forward.

      ChrisC

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    3. As you say, it's nothing new. Readers of ongoing comics, for example, have had to deal with it for a long time. Thing is, that medium traditionally had its fandom based around the characters, not the writers/artists (many of whom were anonymous when the characters debuted). What I'm speculating about is somewhat different, since it's based around a single creator.

      I'm sure there are extant examples of even that, though. The first one that comes to mind is Alfred Hitchcock, who sort of became a brand name moreso than a director (thanks to his television shows, magazines, and story anthologies, most of which really had nothing to do with him in a direct sense). In his particular case, though, I think each passing year returns him more to the status of a singular artist; the tv shows and other things are growing obscure at a much steadier pace than the most notable of his films.

      So maybe that's the long-run outlook for King, too...? Then again, maybe not. I think the ubiquity of the movies and television shows will muddy those waters quite a bit, especially for people who aren't familiar with the books.

      In a broader sense...? Man, beats me. My best guess is that the fracturing of pop culture which has happened over the past few decades will continue exponentially. So my outlook is kind of grim, I guess.

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  2. Mr. Burnette:

    I may be cynical, but I see most of these things as just a money-grab riding on the King name.

    I think it would be a more "pure" project, if it was written by one of his sons, as you mention. Maybe even written by an amateur King scholar and blogger. Your thoughts?

    Ray

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    1. I'm sure there's a decent amount of money to be made from riding on King's coattails, as it were. Whether this particular book is guilty of that, I'm unsure. I get the sense that Chizmar's heart is in the right place, so if I had to guess, I'd guess in that direction.

      An amateur King scholar and blogger, eh? Hey, that's me! I've only ever dabbled at fiction writing, and that not in a long time. MY heart would be in the right place for sure, but the talent isn't there; not even close. I don't even make the grade as a critic most of the time. (Which is fine; I'm less interested in being a semi-objective critic than I am in analyzing my own responses to these works. I'm not sure what you call that, but I'd settle for being good at whatever it is.)

      Owen and Joe would be great stewards of their father's work, I think. But they're both so talented in their own right that I don't particularly want or need them to play around in his universe. They're more than capable of creating their own, and that's sufficient for me.

      We'll see!

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    2. You were just the guy I had in mind. Just remember to hang on to the movie rights when you're finished.
      - Ray

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    3. I think those will by definition belong to the King estate -- so I'll have to negotiate for a big front-end deal instead, I guess.

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  3. Well, this sounds eminently skippable for me. Thank you for jumping on this grenade for me/ all of us.

    Regarding the empty-pages/ page count thing: I always wonder about that stuff myself. Is there some threshhold they're trying to reach? I know these decisions come down to measuring the space they have on the shelf, etc. I'd love to know all such ins and outs about how decisions are made.

    My friend's friend recently got a book published (Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore) and it's getting some good press, so that's cool for him. It wasn't really my cup of tea as a book, but what was interesting the many twists and turns and rewrites it took from when I first heard about it as just an anecdote my buddy gave me about his friend who finished his first novel and was shopping it around, to the rewrites where they essentially paid him via an advance (and a book deal for a 2nd book: no small prize in this age of one-and-done book deals) to write something wholly different, resembling the finished, published form. My impression wasn't that they were trying to get closer to the vision of the book or publish the best book they can: it was they had the shelf space and marketing for it. I thought that was interesting. Anyway! I doubt this relates much to the empty pages/ book count thing, but it's just another aspect of publishing that mystifies me. It used to be about something completely different, and then the industry changed it into these other concerns, and now the industry is much diminished but still making perplexing outthink-the-audience sort of decisions.

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    1. The grenade didn't sting all that much. Felt like a meaty hiccup.

      That anecdote about your friend's friend's novel bums me out. I mean, good for him for getting his shoe in the doorway; I'm guessing he's okay with the compromises, relatively speaking. Still, that he would be asked to make them is a real bummer. I guess it makes sense that a diminished industry would be more restrictive and domineering, rather than less; but if that's how things are happening for most new authors, then surely publishing as we know it must be on life support.

      Fuck, I'm turning into a bitter old man in real time right here on this blog, ain't I? Well, I guess it's inevitable. May as well lean into it.

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  4. Sorry to get off topic again. Though it could be argued there is a sense in which the latest blog article I've done:

    https://www.scriblerusinkspot.com/2019/11/kipling-sahib-india-and-making-of.html

    :is kind of related to an author you've already talked about. Just you've done a read through of H.P. Lovecraft, I've found myself engrossed in the work of Rudyard Kipling. He relates to HPL in the sense that both force readers and critics to wrap their minds around the concept of a talented imagination existing in a personality that is not always, let's say, a paragon of virtue, at least where questions of racism are concerned.

    What got me into Kipling was a YouTube vid that serves as a close look at the actual Jungle "Books" as compared with their film adaptation. It was sort of like a gateway drug, in a sense. It re-introduced me to a secondary world I'd been aware ever since I was kid, yet it'd never been something I paid much attention to until I watched that lit crit video. So if the question is what made me want to devote any time and effort to a guy like Kipling, well, here's the answer:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3F3RnQsCBg

    ChrisC

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    1. Stephen King wrote the beginning of "Misery" while sitting at the desk at which Kipling died.

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    2. Somehow, I that totally managed to slip my mind. I personally just chalk it up to the power of good storytelling. Apparently, when it's done right (or decent enough), it can make you forget all about details like that.

      ChrisC

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  5. I face palmed at this:
    "In fact, the box also helps her turn into Johnny Smith for a while so that Gwendy can help solve some murders."
    eh nope.
    -mikeC

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    1. Nope indeed. That said, it plays a bit better in the novel than it does in a review; it's not AS lame as I made it sound. It's not too great, either, though.

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  6. "Sometimes I worry about you Bevvy, sometimes I worry a lot."

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  7. It came to my attention today that there is a "forthcoming" limited edition of this book. (That's Cemetery Dance language for "We'll publish it in 2022, if we remember it.) $75, with art by Francois Vaillancourt. BUT ... it contains "an exclusive bonus from Stephen King that won't appear in any other editions!"

    There can be zero doubt that this is being done so that the rabidest of King fans will shell out that money. And normally, I'm at least tempted to be one of those folks. In this particular case, though, I think it's awfully fucking tacky to not at least say what the "exclusive bonus from Stephen King" actually is. A fake signature, perhaps? An extra sentence which was omitted from the introduction? Whatever it is, it must be awfully underwhelming for it not to even be explicated in the sales pitch.

    Pass.

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    1. Well, I don't blame you for wanting to cross this one off the list.

      As an alternative, let it be known that I have not, repeat, NOT, written in the strictest sense a James Bond related post. However, Sean Connery does figure in there somewhere, so, for what it's worth:

      https://www.scriblerusinkspot.com/2019/12/the-man-who-would-be-king.html

      ChrisC

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    2. It's worth plenty! Although I have to confess: I've never seen that movie. Been aware of it for years and always kind of wanted to; just never have.

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    3. Shhhhh don't say anything bad about CD dude, their fans will come after you with pitchforks and torches...btw 2022 is quite optimistic.
      -mikeC

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    4. Sadly, it is optimistic, isn't it?

      Do they have a rabid and unreasonable fan base? I guess they might. Well, if they don't like people complaining about some of their business practices, I reckon they can pass their time sitting around waiting on books they ordered five years ago to show up; that ought to occupy 'em.

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  8. I just thought of something. Why not have listen to John Williams Home Alone score?

    It could be just a quick thing for the holiday, or something like that?

    I dunno, just an idea.

    ChrisC

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    1. I always listen to that, and the score to the sequel, a few times this time of the year. Good stuff.

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    2. What I meant to say was, why not do something like a quickie blog review of the soundtrack?

      John Williams' music has been covered here once before. Why not zoom in on his most famous Holiday score?

      ChrisC

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    3. Ah, okay, gotcha. That'd be fun, but I don't know what I could possibly find to say on a track-by-track basis. So that idea will probably have to remain merely that.

      I *would* like to someday do a favorite-Christmas-songs post. Maybe in 2020!

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    4. Have you seen the doc on obscure Christmas songs and their collectors?
      https://jinglebellrocks.com/
      I liked it a lot. The Nat King Cole song is very sad. Maybe sadder then Ringing the Bells for Jim....maybe.
      It's on Hulu. Worth checking out!
      -mikeC

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  9. Okay, so, I found out about this theater parody of "Peter Pan" that can best be described as "in the Monty Python" tradition. It's not as out there as debating the merits of an Ex-Parrot, however I found there was an element of to the writing that I don't think gets enough appreciation these days.

    I'd call it fun. If I had any real complaints, then it would revolve around the actor playing Captain Hook. My complaint can best bummed up as follows: "That man is not John Cleese! Why on Earth is the Minister of Silly Walks not taking a role that is so fundamentally tailor-made for him!?

    Still, I'd call it worth a look:

    https://www.scriblerusinkspot.com/2019/12/peter-pan-goes-wrong-2013.html

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  10. For once it's not my own horn I'm tooting. Instead it's just a shout out for Bmolo. A bit of an End of Year post. Also, how do you encourage a Red Sonja post without giving the wrong idea? Just a question.

    http://mcmolo.blogspot.com/2019/12/the-blogs-left-behind.html

    ChrisC

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    1. "Encouraging" a "post," eh? I see what you did there.

      I'm way behind on blog reading -- just finished a 66-hour work week, so not much time left over.

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