Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"The Heroic Honk Mahfah!" Retitled!!!!! Internet Agog!!!!!

Howdy, y'all.

Well, as promised, I've started blogging over at the new site.  My first post just went up.  It's a comic column, and since I've retired my "Honk Mahfah" persona, that means the former title for my comics-roundup posts needed a retitling.

So, "The Heroic Honk Mahfah!" shall now and forever more be known as "Bryant Has Issues."  This is simultaneously lame AND accurate, but it makes me chuckles, and frankly, it's my own chuckles I'm in this gig for, so mission accomplished.

Do us a favor and stop by and have a look?  And while you're there, I'd be more than happy to field any comments you might have about the new blog's title, design, and so forth.  I feel pretty good about it, but if you'd like to slap me around a bit and call me various insulting names, I can take the punishment.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you over at the new place soon.  We've got carpet and indoor plumbing and everything!

Monday, July 23, 2012

There Are Other Blogs Than These

It's a good news/bad news type of day here at Ramblings Of A Honk Mahfah.
First, the bad news: I am bringing this blog to an end.
The good news...?  Well, I'm going to give you several moments to recover your composure, marked by a series of photos illustrating how my cats took the news.

Duncan Idaho wept silently

Action Jackson fainted

When he regained consciousness, Action Jackson consoled Duncan Idaho

Action Jackson tried bargaining, which didn't work

Action Jackson tried threatening, which also didn't work

Scarlett Johansson tried pleading

Juanita Sheridan staged an Occupy PC protest; (heh-heh, I use my laptop for blogging, dumbass!)

Don King only wanted to know what was for dinner

Boy, cats is stuipid.
The good news is this: I'm simply relocating to a new blog, under a new title.  It's called The Truth Inside The Lie.  Sounds like a conspiracy-theory site, but it's actually a reference to one of King's better bits of wisdom, which hails from the dedication page in It.  Paraphrased a bit, it reads "Fiction is the truth inside the lie."  That quotation has stuck with me for over twenty years now, and when I was mentally casting around for a title for the new version of my blog, that came to mind quickly.
Feel free to go check it out.  There's nothing there yet, but eventually, I'm going to import some of my posts from this blog (and from at least one other) over there, and in most respects it will be the same type thing as what I'm doing now.
So, you may be asking, why the change?

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."


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 existed whole novels by Stephen King that practically nobody had 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 motherfucking things he has ever seen.

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

Friday, July 6, 2012


Let's talk canon.
Properly speaking, when it comes to literature or the arts, "canon" refers to a body of individual works which have been verified, or commonly accepted, as the works of a specific author. In other words, Stephen King's canon consists of all works -- written and otherwise -- which are known to be the direct product of his own craft, either solo or in collaboration with someone else.

If you're talking canon within certain subsets of popular culture, the word "canon" often takes on different meanings, especially when applied to a multimedia storytelling franchise that lacks a singular author.  Example: Star TrekStar Trek exists primarily as a group of television series and feature films, but there have also been a near-avalanche of original novels, comic books, semi-official fan films, and the like over the decades.  In that case, determining what is and isn't canon means deciding, essentially, which stories count and which do not.

Those are treacherous waters, and if you don't believe me, all you need to do is buy a ticket to a sci-fi convention, find a room where people are talking about Star Trek or Doctor Who or superhero comics, and then start asking random people what they don't count as canon.  Before long, you'll be into nerd-dom so deep that you may never find your way out again.  So on second thought, maybe you should just take my word for it and skip the cons.  Unless you enjoy that type of thing, in which case, maybe I'll see you there.

 You've probably already figured out for yourself the fact that with the work of a single author, the canon issue becomes vastly less complicated than it is with a franchise property.  However, don't be fooled: there are still grey areas, and there are still questions to be answered before figuring out what does and what does not belong when it comes to the canon of Stephen King.

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.

Let's not worry about grape soda right now, though.  Let's worry about the episode of Mad Men I just watched: Roger took acid, Peggy gave a stranger a handjob in a movie theatre, and Don thought Megan had been killed.  It was awesome.  Let's worry about Stephen King movies.

Whoa, what just happened there...?  I feel like I was talking and got interrupted somehow.

Let's move past it and find out what my pick for Worst Stephen King Movie ever is.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

That Road Must Go Somewhere: A Review of "Heart-Shaped Box"

I've been campaigning -- proselytizing, even -- for the works of Joe Hill ever since I started reading them last year.  Nobody'll ever get elected to anything with ME as their campaign manager, but since I'm an unpaid intern, I just do what I can.

Well, I lost control of that metaphor pretty quickly, so let's knock the bullshit off and get down to business.

This is a great novel.  Not a surprise; everything I've read by Hill has been great, and this novel -- his first -- did not disappoint.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Guided Tour of King's Canon, 2012 Edition

Having recently updated a post in which I ranked King's books from worst to best, I decided it might be time to update another one of my favorite posts.

I made some changes to the format this time around, mainly because it occurred to me that a few of King's movies belonged on this list.  I'm referring to the movies he wrote that were original productions, and whereas a few of those -- Creepshow, Silver Bullet, and Storm of the Century -- were represented already thanks to tie-in books, I felt like certain other works (such as Golden Years and Sleepwalkers) were substantial enough that they belong on this list.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Dark Tower: A Suggested Reading Order for the (Extended) Series

The Wind Through the Keyhole is a mere two weeks away, and with it I'm sure there will come a renewed interest in the overall Dark Tower series.

Prompted partly by that, and partly by a conversation I had on Facebook, I decided to take a stab at creating a Suggested-By-Honk-Mahfah list of what order the Dark Tower books ought to be read in.  In order to do that, I first had to figure out which books belong on the list and which don't.  It might seem at first glance that that list would be cut-and-dried, but remember, there are several books outside of the series that are rather essential to the overall tale.  I always wondered, for example, how anyone who read Book VII without the benefit of having read Insomnia managed to have any grasp at all on what was going on with Patrick Danville.  But apparently, people did.

In any case, I've taken a stab at crafting a list of what any true Dark Tower fan needs to read in order to get the full benefit of the series, along with some justifications of why I've placed them in the order I've placed them in.

Let's get started. #1 seems obvious.

#1 -- The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger (2004 revised edition)

I mean, really, where would you start other than at the beginning?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

An Interview with David Squyres of Talk Stephen King

Since I started my blog a year or so ago, I've made several good new Internet friends, one of whom is David Squyres, the author of the Talk Stephen King blog.  Talk Stephen King is unquestionably one of the toppest of the top-notch Stephen King sites on the net; David gets news nobody else -- even the mighty Lilja's Library -- seems to get.

He's also just sort of a cool dude in general.  He was having an off day late last year, and decided to potentially wreck his fine blog by running an interview with me, a known goofball.  And then, he ran a part two!

I figured it had to be worthwhile to try and figure out what might be going on in the mind of someone who would willingly allow me to run my mouth on his website, and so I decided to interview David.

Surprisingly, he agreed!

Bryant Burnette:  One does not start, and then maintain, a blog focused on a single subject without being a massive fan of that subject.  With that in mind, do you remember the moment when you crossed the line from being a casual Stephen King fan into being a massive Stephen King fan?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Worst to Best: Stephen King Books [Revised 2012 Edition]

Last November, I posted the original version of this list, which was a lot of fun for me to write.  Well, a mere four months later, King's list of books has already grown by two (11/22/63 and The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole), and that got me to thinking about where I might rank those new novels.

In order to find out, I decided to just sit down and do it.  I find that my opinions are constantly in flux, and so it might be a good idea to update and revise the list once a year or so.  This time 'round, I've eliminated several titles from the list altogether (Stephen King Goes to the Movies, for example, which was -- thanks to its near-complete irrelevance as a collection of previously collected stories -- our previous holder of "bottom of the list" honors).  As a result, I think what we've got here is a better, more focused list, one that is a truer representation of how I feel King's books rank from bottom to top.

You are forgiven if your giveashit tank has run completely dry; I know this is a nerdy pursuit, and I'm okay with the idea that nobody cares about it but me.  Despite that, comments are welcome!

So, without further preamble or goofery, let's find out what is at the bottom of the heap: