Sunday, October 22, 2017

Yanks Lose ALCS, 3 Games to 2

Photos: Jose Altuve's Gem Mint 10 rookie card, from my collection.

Yanks lose 4-0 and go home as the Houston Astros move on to the World Series. So despite Judge's 50+ homers, a high-powered offense, and getting past the heavily-favored Indians, the Yanks go home. What. A Damn. Shame.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

Photo: from its Goodreads page

More a morality tale / fairy tale than novel (or novella), and a lot more Chizmar than King, but still an okay read that goes by fast. Since it's more of a fairy story, the characterizations are purposely light, the action is more to learn from than to entertain, and it's all supposed to be a slight breeze. To expect more is to be disappointed.

The ending didn't work for me, as it's more explanation than resolution. Richard Farris (AKA, Randall Flagg) will disappoint, as he seems like someone kinder than we know him to be. Here, he's more like the old man from Hearts in Atlantis than the badass from The Stand and The Dark Tower. He should've been called someone else here, with different initials. He's really a different character. In this way, he's more of a disappointment than is the talky, explanatory ending itself, but the book is so slight that you really won't mind. Like all morality tales, the ending is explained too much and is too completely wrapped up. I would've rather had something extra left over to think about, but that won't happen here. Is it more Gwendy, the box, or just life itself? You'll be told, which is a bummer. Should've been left more open-ended.

And, lastly, you won't see anything Dark Tower-ish here. Mr. R.F. and the box are just extras stepping out. You won't be able to place them within the Dark Tower's milieu, so don't try. There's no leftover strand, or beam, and those worlds don't influence this one in this book. If you want a standalone book that has tendrils and whispers of The Dark Tower, check out King's The Wind Through the Keyhole, which was quite a bit better, and released to very little fanfare. That one is a Dark Tower rejected section or chapter if I've ever seen one.

So you'll have to take this book on its own purposely slight merits, and judge them by those. I think it's pretty clear to see where King starts off and Chizmar takes over. This would've been darker, more ponderous and a lot less slight if King had written a bigger chunk of it. My guess is that King started it, maybe the first two or three chapters, and included the kite scene and maybe a hat scene or two, but let Chizmar take it. My guess is he figured The Wind Through the Keyhole was one Dark Tower standalone enough, and he didn't need another one. I'm guessing Chizmar stayed as far away from The Tower as he could. Perhaps he was asked to.

This one was more of a curiousity for me. I don't consider it part of the King canon and I won't be buying one for my entire First Edition Stephen King book collection. My copy was from the library, where it will return tomorrow. So if you want a quick little book / morality tale that's maybe 20% King, max, give this one a shot. It's not bad, but it's not King. If you have other King books that you need to get to, you're probably better off doing that.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

Photo: Hardcover book from its Goodreads page.

Very long fantasy / morality tale, mostly well-written, with a little more craft than usual, which I don't mean in a bad way. The story pace and structure is similar to Under the Dome, as it's more of a series of things that are happening between lots of different characters, most of them not fantastic or scary. As in both long books, there is an underlying mystery behind them (Why is the dome happening? Is it a test? Why are the cocoons happening? Are they a test?) that probably won't surprise you when it concludes, but the reading pleasure is watching it get there.

I wasn't particularly swayed by the sudden change of heart of the other major character, if you will, who is the foil/antagonist to the Clint, the prison psychiatrist. It ends the way it does, and that's fine, but this guy's primary character trait just sort of dissipates. It didn't ruin anything for me, but it didn't jettison me towards the ending, either. Which is fine.

The characters are well drawn and fleshed out, though you wouldn't know one of them was a minority if the book didn't flat out tell you. That may be part of the point of the book, or it may be a fault in character development. You'll be the judge. You'll also have to judge about Evie's character, which is largely and purposely kept in the dark. The authors don't supply too many answers about her, except that she is maybe The Day the Earth Stood Still for the menfolk, I guess.

The premise will keep you thinking the most, I suppose. It's an interesting premise that nonetheless has many flaws. It's very heavy on the idea that most men suck for many reasons, and that women are primarily their victims. You won't get any argument from me on either point, except to say that I have known my share of unthinking and unfeeling women as well, though of course they by and large do not cause as much danger and damage towards men as men have towards women. (Though I'm thinking right now of a couple who were up there, almost manly in their destructiveness.)

I'm not sure it's helpful to broadly generalize like this, though of course there's no argument about the fact that, overall, generally, men have treated women like garbage since the first caveman struck a cavewoman over the head with his club and thought that was love. It wasn't, and it isn't, and men have been pretty stupid about it ever since. But, again, I know plenty of women who have been stupid about love, too, amongst them the women who defend men who are stupid about love. We could go back and forth on this forever, which is the problem with overreaching generalizations. It's not helpful to talk overall, generally, about anything. Every man is not an asshole just like not every woman is a victim. More men, of course, are violent assholes than are women, and more women, of course, are victims of violent assholes than are men.

But it's probably less productive to grossly generalize. It's maybe more productive to single out the assholes amongst the men, rather than insist that all men are assholes. We're not all Harvey Weinstein or O.J. or even much less examples of them. There are some very, very good guys out there who have always treated women well. Probably it's better to single out the major and the minor assholes out there and then simply stay away from them, or give them treatment, etc. This book never presents that as an option, as it paints a broad stroke over all the guys, including the two main characters, who could not be more different in temperament, but who are both painted the same colors anyway.

The book does end on a realistically melancholic note, as things fall apart because the center could not hold for anyone. You may wonder at the ending, and if the decision made at the end would really be made. That'll have to be up to you, as well. Until then you've got a fantasy / morality tale, with a very large dose of Walking Dead as the prison was under siege. In the end, this one is good, not great, not especially memorable outside of its premise, and a quick read despite its large size.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Blade Runner 2049

See this movie, which I saw today. (At noon, cuz I'm cheap. I mean, frugal.) It's a visually stunning, tense, exciting, thought-provoking masterpiece. It's long, almost 3 hours, but it's worth every second. Seeing the original couldn't hurt, but probably isn't essential. Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford are excellent, but maybe the best performances are by the love-longing ladies, especially Ana de Armas, D's lady hologram friend. A must-see if you like movies, especially ones visually mesmerizing. Despite the almost 3-hour length, I'll see this one again.

Monday, October 2, 2017


Prayers?!? God wants you to enact gun control laws. You want signs? How about Sandy Hook and Vegas?