Monday, July 30, 2012

So, About This Prequel-to-The-Shining Thingy...

Back in February, I wrote a bit of a rant about the Before Watchmen comics that DC is putting out.  These (as you might theoretically not know) are prequels to Watchmen, a twelve-part comic series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons that is so much a classic that Time named it one of the hundred greatest English-language novels of the century.  Not graphic novels; novels of any type.

That's part of the reason why it's galling that DC would move forward with prequels against Moore's wishes.  It's also galling to me that I've been buying the damned things.  Truth is, they're fairly good, when compared to other current comics; compared to Watchmen, they are lacking in literally every way, but that's no surprise.
 
In that post, I asserted that part of the reason I was bothered by the DC-versus-Alan Moore brouhaha was that I knew it was only a matter of time before similar things started happening to Stephen King; and I knew that given my track record of buying such things, I'd shell out for these ripoffs, no matter what they were, or how bad, or how offensive.

But fuck, world, I figured you'd at least wait until King was dead!  But no, apparently, Warner Bros. has begun "quiet" discussions on the subject of milking a prequel out of the Stanley Kubrick version of The Shining.

Allow me to respond with some appropriate nerd-rage:




Now, if you know me, I betcha right about now you're thinking "Man, that Bryant Burnette sure is a hypocritical sumbitch."

Well, allow me to retort.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

News from the Kingdom: July 27, 2012

I've been slacking on this column the last three weeks, mostly because ... well, there hasn't been a whole heck of a lot of Stephen King news lately.
 
That changed somewhat this week, though, so let's dive in and see what's worth seein'.
 
Before we do, can I point something out?  This stuff




is delicious.  Delicious, I say!  And no, this is not an awkwardly-placed bit of product placement (although, hey, advertisers, I'd be totally willing to do that sort of thing, so if you've got dollars, I've got sense!); instead, it's just an opportunity for me to point out something weird I noticed about myself today.  Namely, that while I loathe and will not drink orange juice with pulp in it, I will consume gallons upon gallons of lemonade that is simply crawling with pulp.
 
What's that little character inconsistency all about?!?  It makes no sense at all, so why am I like that?
 
Beats me; random crazy, I suppose.  Moving along...
 
The most important bit of King-flavored news for the week is undoubtedly the announcement of "A Face in the Crowd," a new story co-written by King with Stewart O'Nan.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

10 Celebrities Who Probably Aren't Randall Flagg, BUT...

I'm guessing that Randall Flagg doesn't exist. I mean, he's a fictional character and all, so it seems unlikely.

However, in the event that the superflu breaks out tomorrow, here are ten celebrities we need to immediately start keeping an eye on:


Rafael Furcal

Likelihood:  3/10  (Flagg probably wouldn't be a baseball player.  Too apple-pie for him.)



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #12

Something seems ... different.  Hold on a second, let me figure out what's going on.  Be right back...




I think there's something weird at the top of the page somewhere.  Not sure yet.  Hmm; lemme have another look.




Hey, wait a minute!  This is a new blog!  Hey, asshole!  What have you done with Ramblings Of A Honk Mahfah?!?
  
Settle down, there, Logan; we've just moved into a new house and rebranded a bit.  Ain't no government conspiracy or nothin'.
 
*****
 
Yes, folks, it's true: I have retired good old "Honk Mahfah," and opened shop under a new roof.  A casual perusal will make it evident that in so doing, I ported over the vast majority of my posts from Ramblings, gussied up the language a bit in a few places, and otherwise have decided to just carry on.  I thought briefly about just starting over from scratch with a brand-new blog, but that seemed like a silly solution; far superior to just change some titles and move everything worth moving to a new URL.
 
And here we are.  I may write a post soon concerning the reasons -- all of them boring as hell even to myself -- why I felt a need for change, but one thing hasn't change: my slavish desire to write about the comic books I'm buying.  This column was once titled "The Heroic Honk Mahfah!" and is now titled "Bryant Has Issues" (an almost unbelievably dorky title, but one I like for no apparent reason).
 
The title may have changed, but I can assure you: it's the same old bullshit that it always was.
 
Let's see if we can find some corn in it, eh?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Dark Knight (Hopefully) Endures

You don't come to this blog for keen social commentary, I'm guessing, and that's not the content I aspire to provide, anyways.  I'll let other people argue about whether the Aurora, Colorado incident is a call for stricter gun legislation, or proof of the necessity for the continued right to bear arms.  I've got my thoughts on the subject, but they are murky and somewhat contradictory, and this isn't the place for me to expound on them.

This IS the place -- if such a place exists at all -- for me to expound on the reasons why I think we shouldn't allow this crime to damage the reputation of one of our most well-known fictional characters, Batman.  That probably seems like a trivial thing to worry about, in the light of the people who were murdered, those who were injured, and those who have been psychologically traumatized by the acts of a madman.

Comparatively, it is trivial.  But there is a reason why we, as a people, pay money and spend time to engage with fictional characters.  Doing so helps to satisfy a deep need within ourselves, and also within the collective psyche of our culture.  We should not, and must not, lose sight of that fact.




There is obviously still quite a lot that we don't know about the motivations of James Holmes.  Some reports have insisted that the gunman was dressed as Bane, the villain in the new film; others have said that Holmes had his hair painted red in an apparent imitation of The Joker, but those reports appear to be sheer speculation (and also seem to ignore the fact that The Joker typically sports green hair).

Friday, July 13, 2012

Other Worlds Than These: A Review of "Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished" Revised and Expanded Edition (by Rocky Wood)

I may have mentioned this elsewhere at some point, but it bears repeating: I am a big fan of the book Stephen King: The Art of Darkness.  I bought that biography/compendium/critical analysis (written by Douglas E. Winter) in paperback in, oh, 1990 or so, when my then-newfound Kingmania had reached its apex.  And I tore through that sucker just as greedily as I had torn through most of the books written by King himself.

There are a lot of captivating ideas in that book, but here are two sentences that really captivated me:

"During his sophomore year" [of college] "he completed another novel, Sword in the Darkness.  Heavily indebted to the 'Harrison High' novels of sometime horror novelist John Farris" [...] "this lengthy tale of a race riot at an urban high school was rejected an even dozen times on Publishers' Row."

WHA...?!?

You mean (I thought incredulously) there is a Stephen King novel that NEVER EVEN GOT PUBLISHED?!?  HOW CAN THAT BE?!?

Then, a few pages later, Winter drops the bombshell that there was a second such unpublished novel, Blaze.  It didn't take a whole hell of a lot to blow my sixteen-year-old mind, and this double-barrel blast of info certainly did the trick.
  
Not too much longer after that, I read George Beahm's excellent book The Stephen King Companion, and holy fuckin' shit, THAT book had plot summaries for both Blaze and Sword in the Darkness.  PLUS info about yet another unpublished novel, The Aftermath!

Well, ever since those long-gone days of yesteryear, I have been greatly intrigued by the idea that somewhere out there, in boxes in a library, there exist whole novels by Stephen King that practically nobody has ever read.  I have always felt a curious mixture of elation and frustration over that fact: frustration for the obvious reason that I would probably never get to read those books, and elation because ... well, it's hard to put the reason for the elation into words.  The closest I can come to it is to compare it to the idea that there will be certain birthday presents we will almost certainly never get to unwrap; yeah, it sucks because we'll never know what's inside, but on the other hand, it means there will always be birthday presents with our name on them.

Most of you probably think that's a crazy way of thinking, but I'd bet at least a few of you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Anyways, let's fast forward to 1998, when Stephen J. Spignesi released an entire book devoted to the subject of obscure King works.  Titled The Lost Work of Stephen King, this tome detailed all sort of King works that many fans had never heard of, including not merely those famously unpublished novels, but also published works that were not widely available, but which could be tracked down, if one were inclined to devote the resources to do so.  It was a great resource for King fans who wanted to dig a little bit deeper than the bibliography listed inside the front jackets of some of the books.

Then, in 2005, along came Rocky Wood's Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished.  It immediately became the definitive work on the subject, and has remained so ever since.

You may be wondering why I felt it necessary to deliver such a lengthy lead-in.  I'll tell you why: because, as someone who has now been a Stephen King fan -- and a devoted one, at that -- for over half of his life, a book like this one is an absolute treasure trove.  I feel sometimes as though blogging about my love for King's work (and for some of the side-roads it has taken me down) is a way of time-traveling and having conversations with myself: it's the next-best-thing to having 2012 Bryant and 1990 Bryant in a room together, chatting.  The two of us are having that conversation right now; we have it every time I pick up a book like Uncollected, Unpublished, and let me tell you: 1990 Bryant thinks Rocky Wood's book is one of the best things he has ever seen.

2012 Bryant thinks it's pretty nifty, too.  Let him tell you why.





Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Review of "In the Tall Grass" Part 2 of 2 (by Stephen King and Joe Hill)

hor-ror (hôr’Ər, hor’-), n1. an overwhelming and painful feeling caused by something frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting; a shuddering fear  2. anything that causes such a feeling  3. such a feeling as a quality or condition  4. a strong aversion; abhorrence  5. something considered to be in bad or poor taste

I felt the need to consult a dictionary and confirm my suspicion that part two of "In the Tall Grass" qualified as horror.

Boy, does it.




Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Review of "The Running Man" (audiobook, narrated by Kevin Kenerly)

I'm a big fan of audiobooks, although that fact might have been obscured somewhat by some of the actual content I've posted on this blog.  For example, I'm on the record in numerous places championing the fact (and it IS a fact) that reading and listening are not the same thing.

If you want proof of that, here some is, excerpted from the nerd debate David at Talk Stephen King hosted:

There is more -- a LOT more, in fact -- to reading than the simple receipt of a story. Depending on one's personal opinions, the story may or may not be the most important element in reading, but whether it is or whether it isn't, it is certainly not the ONLY element. The visual arrangement of those words is also important, and can carry meanings which cannot be replicated aurally. This is especially true in the case of poetry, in which -- and this is also true of prose, but is ESPECIALLY true of poetry -- every punctuation mark, every line break, every juxtaposition of one letter with another can hold a world of meaning. Listening to poetry can sometimes rob one of those meanings, and while it may add elements -- via the emotions of the reader, or subtle vocal shadings -- it cannot replicate the visual impact of lines such as these:

I was ten years old
                           when Father, glistening,
                                                              slipped beneath the waters
and drowned.

That's a crap poem that I made up in ten seconds, but the offset of the final line carries a meaning. Someone reading it aloud would almost certainly pause for several seconds before delivering it, but that is not how I intended it to be read: you will note that I did not include a comma. Instead, I intend one to read it straight through, and to allow the empty page space to be something one has no choice but to ignore as though it wasn't there at all ... even though we know it very definitely IS there.

I stand by those sentiments 100%, but just in case it's never been made clear, let me try to do so now: I love audiobooks.  I am prone to disappointment in them (I so disliked Craig Wasson's narration of 11/22/63 that I never could force myself to write a review of the audiobook), but when one clicks with me, it clicks big-time.  Which brings us to:




Monday, July 9, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #10 (Inluding a Special Bonus Review of "The Amazing Spider-Man")

You know what I've never understood about comics?  How come an issue that comes out in June 2012 is called the "August 2012" issue?  What's up with that?

Well, I've got a whole slew of incorrectly-dated comics to review for you this time, and there's no reason to not dive right in.




Series artist Rafael Albuquerque returns after a two-issue absence, and Pearl -- who is probably my favorite character in American Vampire -- returns for the first time since #18 last "October."  That's a slight lie, since Pearl showed up at the tail end of #27 last month; but for all intents and purposes, Pearl has been missing from the story for quite a while now.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

News from the Kingdom: July 7, 2012

There isn't a huge amount of Stephen King news that's broken since the last time I wrote one of these columns, but do you honestly think that's going to keep me from writing something?

Nah.




Let's start with what is, theoretically, the coolest news I'll be discussing tonight: the fact that Stephen King has been invited to become a voting AMPAS member.  That's right, the director of Maximum Overdrive may now be able to vote for the Oscars.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Worst to Best: Stephen King Movies

I love making worst-to-best lists.  Sometimes I think that I ought to find new things to be interested in, just so I could make a list devoted to deciding what was the crappiest example of it.  Then I think that would be silly, and don't do it, but I reserve the right to change my mind at a moment's notice.  So if you someday see my name on a blog somewhere listing off the entire history of grape soda, from the worst example to the best, don't be surprised.



stolen from http://sodas.findthebest.com/l/84/Grapico

For the record, I am not insinuating that Grapico is the worst grape soda.  What foolishness THAT would be.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Movie Review: "Ghost Story" (1981)

Having recently reviewed Peter Straub's Ghost Story, it seems only fair that I do what I typically do, which is have a look at the movie version.  And I'm nothing if not fair.  Please do not take this as an indication that I would be happy to receive a jury summons, though; I ain't got time for that sort of thing.

No, instead (apparently), I need that oh-so-valuable time for thoroughly mediocre movies, such as The Amazing Spider-Man (which I finished watching about an hour ago and am still bitter about; maybe you'll hear more about that in the next installment of Bryant Has Issues later this week [that, friends, is what we call a "guarantease"]).

You can add Ghost Story to that list, too, because while I probably -- probably, mind you -- wouldn't go so far as to say it's a bad movie, the absolute best I would be willing to say is that it is mediocre.





The screenplay is by Lawrence D. Cohen, whose name is probably familiar to many Stephen King fans, seeing as how he also wrote the adaptations of Carrie, It, The Tommyknockers, and "The End of the Whole Mess" (the latter an episode of Nightmares & Dreamscapes).  None of those -- with the possible exception of Carrie -- is particularly great as an adaptation, although I'd argue that Cohen did a better job with Ghost Story.  Truthfully, a screenwriter adapting Straub's novel has a job I do not envy; it's such a dense, layered beast that trying to stuff it all into two hours is a task akin to trying to stuff a cat into a Coke can.  Cohen did a good job with this, all things considered.  He made a good choice, I think, in changing the Don Wanderley character from Edward's nephew into his son, and I also think he made a good choice in moving the elder Wanderley into the narrative.  I'd also argue that he was on solid ground in his choices to eliminate the characters of Lewis Benedikt and Peter Barnes; I like both in the novel, but did not miss them at all here.