1.28.2013

King's Highway pt. 68: 11/22/63

11/22/63 is the tale of one Roy Winston, a successful real estate agent, who comes into possession of new evidence in the assassination of President Kennedy. The FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the Cubans, and the Russians all vie for control of this evidence, and Roy is thrown into a world of…

…What’s that? That’s not what the book is about?

Right you are, of course. The above description is for 11/22/1963: New Evidence by Roy Widing. I mistakenly read about half of this on the Kindle before realizing my mistake. In my defense, the Kindle came to me pre-loaded as a gift, but I somehow convinced myself the different-author's name on the menu screen was either a glitch or referred to something else, the way an iTunes or Windows Media menu selection will sometimes list the publisher/ author and not the artist in the artist-column. 

I'd like to think I'd have realized the mistake sooner had I had to take the physical book off the shelf every morning, but, as you Kindle readers out there know, once you move past the menu page, each power-on/power-off takes you to the last page you read. Unless you make a point to go back to the menu page, in other words, you can miss the author's name once and never see it again, if you're just charging through the text. As I was. 

First World Problems, as the kids say today... or, perhaps just a McSpace-Cadet Problem. As the percentage-completed bar moved along the bottom of the screen, I started wondering both when the time travel was going to come into play and how the hell I was getting through it so fast. Also, why characters were speaking in such un-King ways. (Lots of characters spending half a page hanging up a phone, i.e. “Anything else?” “No. I'll speak to you soon. Good. Goodbye. Goodbye. And speaking aloud, i.e. “The first thing I have to do is call a lawyer, Roy said aloud.) Not to mention the general And now I'm attacked by the Russians! sort of stuff. Nothing against Mr. Widing's style or story - it's fine for what it is, it's just not King. The tone really struck me as “off,” while reading. Well, no wonder!

I'll get to the King novel momentarily, I just wanted to say I am in no way trashing Widing's book. He didn't, after all, set out to write a Stephen King book, so my reaction going through it proceeded from false premises.  If you like JFK-fiction/ordinary-guys-caught-in-spy-suspense sort of stuff, it's a fine read. I admire the self-publishers of the world and wish him and the book all success.

With no further ado, then...


THE PLOT: Jake Epping, a recently-divorced Lisbon Falls, ME schoolteacher who is “not a crying man,” is recruited by Al, the proprietor of a local diner that has a portal to the past in its stockroom, to travel back in time and assassinate Lee Harvey Oswald. Al has taken extensive notes on Oswald's life and fervently believes preventing the JFK assassination will save hundreds of thousands of lives and change the world for the better. Jake accepts and as “George Amberson,” steps into the past (the time portal opening always onto the same day in 1958) armed only with Al's Oswald notes, a suitcase filled with silver-certificate dollars, and a list of sports-winners from '58 to '63. 


Shades of Biff Tannen from Back to the Future II, that last part.
Before I go any further: I managed (as my Roy-Widing misadventures illustrate) to steer clear of almost all spoilers for this book, so let me say: if you have any inkling to read this book, please read no further. I won't be offended, and if you're anything like me, you'll enjoy discovering how the story unfolds for yourself.  It's a great book, and not knowing how things turned out kept me reading at a feverish pace. I'd hate to dilute the same experience for you, but there's little point in my discussing it here without revealing key twists and turns.

Still with me? On with the show, then: Jake (as George Amberson) ends up in Jodie, TX, where he keeps eyes on Oswald in Ft. Worth while teaching first part-time then full-time at the high school. He ends up making friends and falling in love. (I'm skipping a lot of the sub-plots, here, not because I didn't like them - I actually loved them and think they're the heart of the novel - but just to keep it moving) 

The past is obdurate,” Jake notes throughout, and it seeks to protect the universe from unraveling by throwing everything it can in Jake's way. 
He succeeds, nevertheless, at his mission...
but at great cost. Sadie (the woman he meets, with whom he falls in love, and who ends up a full partner in his mission) is killed, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. Each trip to the past creates a new “harmonic chime” that didn't exist before. The more pronounced the chime/ changed event, the stronger the repercussion. By saving Kennedy, he discovers upon returning to the present, he's doomed the world to dissolution. Earthquakes, nuclear fallout, political chaos: the world, like a pane of glass beset by a thousand powerful tuning forks struck at once, is shattering. All of the positive changes he and Al hoped would result from saving Kennedy do not come to pass. Bombay never became Mumbai. What it became was radioactive ash in a cancer-wind.

To save the world, therefore, he must travel again to the past, which acts as a “re-set.” He does so, and the timeline is restored. Jake, now no longer “an un-crying man,” travels to Texas to see Sadie on her 80th birthday, and he asks her to dance.


Dancing is a major theme of this book. Which, given the other themes of the book, brought to mind the Nataraja, i.e. Shiva's dancing form. For a quick summary, see here. 

 

Time travel is theoretically possible in the realm of quantum physics, and as noted QP author Fritjof Capra in his fascinating book The Tao of Physics (which I read on one horrendous bus journey from Georgia to Ohio several years ago) “every subatomic particle not only performs an energy dance, but also is an energy dance; a pulsating process of creation and destruction…without end…For the modern physicists, then Shiva's dance is the dance of subatomic matter. As in Hindu mythology, it is a continual dance of creation and destruction involving the whole cosmos; the basis of all existence and of all natural phenomena. Someone more learned in Hinduism should dissect the book from this angle; I imagine it would be quite illuminating.
THE ASSASSINATION

Who killed Kennedy? Can't you see that it was not me? I wasn't here in 1963!” - Boat Chips, Richard Nixon? (1999)

When it comes to the Kennedy assassination, you're talking to a guy who has a postcard from Dealey Plaza tacked to his cubicle wall at work. * You're talking to a guy who watched all nine hours of Evidence of Revision. You're talking to a guy who watched an entire three-hour lecture by Jim Marrs author of Crossfire: the Plot that Killed Kennedy filmed from one static angle off-stage, which is like watching a Powerpoint presentation from the hall, or something. All of which, so far as knowing anything about “what really happened,” means nothing, just that it's been a hobby of sorts for years. More than a hobby: the 60s assassinations in general - from JFK's to RFK's to Malcolm X's to the tens of thousands of the Phoenix Program, (these days they call it “the disposition matrix”) as detailed in Alan Moore's and Bill Sienkiewicz's Brought to Light (aka The Secret Team) or Bill Moyers Secret Government - are essential American history and a pivotal foundation of my political worldview.

* Certainly not because of any ghoulish anti-Kennedy stance or anything, just have been fascinated by the various conspiracy theories ever since I saw JFK in 1991.

So, you'd figure I'd blow my top at all of the above being dismissed out-of-hand by King in this story. Nah, Oswald acted alone; if you think differently, you wear a tinfoil hat is more or less his position in the afterword. (Amusing, too, since he admits his wife believes there was a conspiracy; I hope she slapped him upside the head for that one.) But, you'd figure wrong. I mean, if the Warren Commission is a work of fiction, a) I'm hardly a man in the know; I'm just some guy, b) King is free to think anything he damn well pleases, naturally, and c) well, 11/22/63 purports to be nothing but a work of fiction, so, what difference does it make? My only concern reading this was if the story worked, not whether or not King's position on the Kennedy assassination dovetails with my own. 

Sure it would have been a blast for such a high-profile author as King go even deeper into the shadowy world of George DeMohrenshildt...
or his intriguing connections to George Bush, Sr. and what he might know/ have known. (And no, I won't link to any sites; I'm probably on enough lists already, thank you very much) But is it necessary to do so to tell the story he wants to tell here? I don't think so.
This isn't really a novel about the Kennedy assassination. I mean, it is, certainly, but it's less about who really killed him and more about our interaction with the past, nostalgia vs. reality, and the dance of spacetime. Not to mention just the idea of time travel itself. As such, it has more in common with Hot Tub Time Machine than it does with something like Don DeLillo's Libra.

Quite a different take on Oswald in this one.
But, before moving on, I will go on record as saying Occam's Razor i.e. that famous axiom that states “All things being equal, the simplest explanation is probably correct,” something with which I nine times out of ten agree and that King quotes a few times as rationale for his approach, is not the most apt axiom to keep in mind when thinking about JFK/ Oswald. 

The problem is precisely the “all things being equal” part of that equation. If only they were/ had been! 
TIME TRAVEL

I couldn't help but think of “City on the Edge of Forever” a few times while reading this story. 


Not only are several of the plot points similar, it also involves the sacrifice of the main character's one-true-love upon the altar of changing the future for the better.
Star Trek has given us more mechanics of time travel stories than any sci-fi franchise this side of Doctor Who. Interestingly enough, Roddenberry's enduring idea for a Trek movie was to have Kirk, Spock and the gang travel back to 1963 and stop the Kennedy assassination. Apparently, the Paramount folks stopped taking his calls on the subject, after a certain point.
One of the most intriguing time travel tales of the last few years is this Spanish film, Los Cronocrimenes. Just wanted to mention one of them; there are, of course, hundreds.
It's easy to see why time travel stories have such a hold on our dreaming unconscious. The tug of What if...? is powerful, probably as powerful as the suspicion that if we could go back and change something, we'd somehow make things worse, no matter how carefully we plan things out.

All right, one last Trek reference, damn it. (Tapestry, ST: TNG, s6, e15)
As an entry in the time travel fiction genre, 11/22/63 is as solid as they come. It evokes both the pleasure (real soft drinks, Elm trees, trust and politeness as something to be expected...) and the poison (...so long as you're Caucasian, that is; sexual repression, etc.) of the late fifties and early sixties. As a love story, it touches your heart; the end has real pathos, and the epilogue, Citizen of the Century” (suggested, according to King, by his son Joe Hill) is as moving as anything King has ever written. As an engaging narrative, for me, it's first-rate. Some reviews I read suggest too much time is spent fleshing out Jake/ George's time in the past. We see him putting on school plays and touching kids' lives and placing bets and buying spy equipment, etc. With all due respect, these readers are mistaken. Not only are these plot points pretty-unsubtle-manifestations of the themes and motifs of the larger story (all the world's to me a stage and we are merely players, as someone (ahem) once said) they also play to King's greatest strength as a storyteller: his abiding interest in people over plot, of taking his time and letting the reader settle into a setting, of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. 

One quick thing - in the days following Jake/George's saving Kennedy, an earthquake hits Los Angeles, killing thousands. My first thought was to wonder what Hollywood/ baseball luminaries would've been among the victims and whether or not King looked through such a list to make sure no one was taken out whose absence would cause problems for the plot. I then went cross-eyed... Time travel is hard, man. 
SOME GREAT QUOTES IN THIS ONE

Too many to include but here are a few:

Moxie, that weirdest of sodas.
Living in the past was a little like living underwater and breathing through a tube.”

Explanations are such cheap poetry.”

“'Yeah, but what if you went back and killed your own grandfather?'
(Al) stared at me, baffled. 'Why the fuck would you do that?'”

Stupidity is one of the two things we see most clearly in retrospect. The other is missed chances.”

“Humans were built to look back; that's why we have that swivel joint in our necks” 

And has King ever so poetically and comprehensively summarized the theme of one of his works as he does with the following?

“...for a moment, everything was clear, and when that happens, you see that the world is barely there at all. Don't we all secretly know this? it's a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dreamclock chiming beneath a mystery glass we call life. Behind it? Below it and around it? Chaos, storms, men with hammers, men with knives, men with guns. Women who mistrust what they cannot dominate and belittle what they cannot understand. A universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted stage where mortals dance in defiance of the dark.” 


DARK TOWER CONNECTIONS?

- Upon returning to the present, Jake sees a Takuru Spirit, a car familiar to any Dark Tower readers. (He does not, unless I missed it, see any evidence of Nozz-a-La soda.)

- The chimes throughout and the “thinnie” of the time portal reminded me of Todash. 

- Naturally, Vermont Yankee (a nuclear power plant) exploded on June 19th, 1999. 

- I couldn't help but wonder if the ending of Ur, where the Low Men visit Wesley Smith, confiscate his Ur-Kindle and scold him for interfering with the timestream, came to mind while plotting/ writing this one. It almost works as an alternative-ending to 11/22/63, one which would place it more conspicuously in the Dark Tower verse. Just a thought/ speculation, certainly not something I felt was missing or anything.

For more on the Dark Tower connections, check out this interesting discussion over at The Truth Inside the Lie. 

THE YELLOW CARD MAN


Outside of the portal in Al's diner, we meet the Yellow Card Man, so called for the color of the card tucked into the band of his hat. We learn at novel's end that this character is a guard (of sorts) to the portal, but proximity to the harmonic-strings-in-flux scrambles his brains. As Jake returns to the past, the color of the card changes, first from yellow to red...

In football, of course, a yellow is a warning; a red is hit the showers.
... and then from red to black, when Jake discovers the Yellow Card Man dead on his second-to-last trip to the past. Jake speculates that the color represents the state of harmony (or disharmony) of the guardian's mind vis-a-vis the correct timestream.

I'd very much like to read this story of the same name by Paolo Bacigalupi. I imagine some fun parallels to 11/22/63 await discovery therein, but I could be wrong. Either way, (chime).

DERRY


From Kev’s review:

“Most interesting for readers – aside from running into some favorite (and least favorite) characters from It – is witnessing Derry from an adult perspective in 1958. While It never glossed over the dangers of its child characters, readers experience their adventures through the mostly na├»ve eyes of children and, later, through the sheen of nostalgia. An adult from 2011 (and, maybe more importantly, an outsider), Jake Epping quite adeptly senses the past Derry as a Bad Place, as tinctured with bad feelings and intent as The Overlook in The Shining, the Marsten House in ’Salem’s Lot, or the eponymous Black House. In this way, 11/22/63 becomes a more vital continuation of It than either Insomnia (set in Derry and featuring an older Mike Hanlon) or Dreamcatcher (featuring the ominous graffito PENNYWISE LIVES.)”


Interesting. Though, I must confess, I didn't see Bev's and Ritchie's appearance as adding all that much to the plot, here. It is perhaps the only section I'd cut. It doesn't ruin anything, just doesn't add much, for me.

Great book. One of the King's best, to be sure.

28 comments:

  1. My God will I not miss Blogger's haphazard, never-the-same-thing-twice, completely-nonsensical approach to formatting. Trying to fix it is always such a headache. My apologies if any of the above looks off; I gave up after awhile. Trying to get these things to look the way they do when I type them up in Word is a recipe for madness.

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    1. Yeah, I tried to cut-n-paste from Word into Blogger once. It went ... poorly. The formatting really is maddening.

      This post doesn't look too shabby, though. It just looks like a post on Blogger!

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  2. Thoughts:

    (1) "Roy Widing" would be an outstanding name for an adult-film actor.

    (2) Biff Tannen! My lord, how did I forget that the betting-on-sports-games gambit was Biff Tannen's?!? Hard to begrudge King using it, though, because really, it's just common sense that that's what you'd do. And he very successfully illustrates the downsides of making it actually work.

    (3) The Nataraja angle is fascinating. I've got zero familiarity with Hinduism, so I'd never even heard of this particular deity. However, doesn't the old saying about the universe being turtles all the way down come from Hindu philosophy, also? Is our boy Steve a secret Hindu? Pretty cool.

    (4) King's stance on the issue of Oswald having acted alone perplexed me at first, but eventually made sense, once he'd explained it. This is the world's best-known purveyor of fear in fictional form, right? Well, in a sense, an assassination like the Kennedy assassination is so horrific that it becomes comforting in a strange way to think that it must have been the result of a mass conspiracy. As King says, the thought that one man acting alone could cause that much social disruption is TRULY horrific. So it makes sense for King to have come to that conclusion. And it's a sensible conclusion, too. In my heart, though, I have a hard time buying into it: I think ole Lee had some assistance, somewhere, somehow.

    (5) Love the Edith Keeler art!

    (6) I think time-travel stories fascinate us partially because we are all very much used to traveling through time. We accomplish it via dreaming on a regular basis. Many of us do, at least. So while it's obviously a stretch in realistic terms, in emotional terms it's highly familiar. This is especially true in terms of films and comics, where the emphasis is on the visual.

    (7) I really want to try a Moxie now. I've never seen one for sale 'round these parts, though.

    (8) In regards to "Ur," you're onto something about those stories being related, in the tonal and stylistic sense. I'm reminded of how Pixar uses their short films as a means of testing concepts and artistic approaches that they are considering using for a feature film. I think it might just be possible that "Ur" -- consciously or not -- was precisely that sort of trial balloon for "11/22/63."

    Great review, Bryan!

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    1. Happy you enjoyed, sir. (Also glad to see the post doesn't look all that bad. When I first published it, good God, several hundred spaces I did not put in were strewn throughout and all of my quotation marks looked wonky. I almost erased the entire post several time just trying to change ONE of them.)

      On the subject of how King works/ that Pixar connection, I've speculated since reading On Writing and learning how he'll write something, put it aside and work on something else, then come back to edit it, that someone could really tie his work together pretty thoroughly by establishing a firm what-was-written-when chronology. Such chronologies exist already, of course, but I'd be curious... If you read everything in the order not on when it was published, but when it was written/ edited, what parallels would you discover? Just a thought.

      Speaking of On Writing, I noticed several books in the recommended reading section at the back of it that led me to believe he's at least familiar with some basic Hindu mythology. (Of course in this glorious internet age, it's even more possible, and given his transcription of that Hindu tale at the end of 'Nightmares and Dreamscapes,' it seems his basic interest in fables, mythology, fairy tales, etc. would expose him to a wide variety.) I wonder how much (if any) effect that's had on his creative process. Could be just one of those Todash coincidences!

      Agreed on Oswald/ fear'n'horror/ and time travel, most definitely.

      Roy Widing! Yeah, someone in the Adult Film industry needs to copyright that right quick.

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  3. I went through a phase about 20 years ago where I read everything I could find on the Kennedy assassination. I read books that proved conclusively that the Chicago mob did it. I read books that proved conclusively the New Orleans mob did it. I read books that showed the CIA did it with the complicity of the Secret Service. Who knows. . .

    The George H.W. Bush link is interesting. Also remember that Richard Nixon left Dallas that morning before Kennedy arrived. Nixon was a private sector lawyer who was in Dallas on business for Pepsico which was his largest client.

    The arrest of the three "homeless" men is interesting because they would later be arrested inside the DNC offices in the Watergate.

    One writer postulated that the same forces that killed Kennedy brought down Nixon. They were both powerful chief executives who tried to reign in or harness the nation's intelligence gathering apparatus and many of the players in both sets of events are the same.

    All that aside, I thought 11/22/63 was a top notch effort. Had King got bogged down in the various conspiracy theories, it would have taken away from the novel.

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    1. Agreed 1000%. I'm glad King went the way he did. I knew going into this one that I wasn't going to pick it apart for conspiracy stuff or my own ideas, I just wanted it to hold together as its own thing/ hold my interest and attention. I was skeptical at first but found myself hundreds of pages in before I knew it.

      Good point about the homeless people and their subsequent arrest record! I, personally, do not doubt for a minute that the same forces that killed Kennedy brought down Nixon.

      I think (don't quote me) that the only people who ever answered "No comment" to the perennial "where were you when JFK was shot?" question were George, Sr. and Tricky Dick. A dubious distinction, to say the least...! Nixon's affiliation with PepsiCo (particularly their Laotian plant) is fascinating reading.

      I remember hearing once that at the moment Kennedy was shot, Nixon's plane was touching down at Idlewild Airport. Which of course is called Kennedy Airport, now. Suggestive of nothing except, perhaps, that the past harmonizes.

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    2. Not true about Nixon. Nixon wrote about learning of the assassination of Kennedy while at work in his New York law office.

      It's well known to biographers of both men that they were close, personal friends. Nixon did not have a lot of friends, but Jack Kennedy was one of them. The pair came into Congress together in 1946 and traveled across the country and back, sharing a train berth, whilst conducting town hall debates over the Taft-Hartley Act. Kennedy contributed heavily to Nixon's run for the California Senate seat as well.

      I'm confident that most historians would dismiss any notion of Nixon involvement in the Kennedy assassination. There are enough historians out there that hate Nixon. So, if there were a hint of evidence, some historian would have written a book.

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    3. I wouldn't necessarily place too much stock in the veracity of anything Nixon wrote. But that's just me.

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    4. I am as seriously dedicated to the study of American history (particularly the presidency) as I am to reading horror.

      Of all the presidents, none has dedicated as much time and effort to the written word as Richard Nixon. His books were a major factor in his rehabilitation from a disgraced president to an elder statesman. Reading Nixon has helped me develop a greater understanding of America and American politics through the Cold War. The dude was smart. Only Clinton and Wilson rival him among the presidents for sheer intellect.

      I am old enough to remember Watergate (although I was too young to understand it at the time). I have read more than 20 books on the subject and its mysteries are as murky as those of the Kennedy assassination. It's not as cut and dried as mainstream history would have us believe.

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    5. I'm sure you're right and that Watergate wasn't as cut and dried as mainstream history would have us believe. I imagine the same could (and should) be said for twentieth century American history in general. I prefer Carroll Quigley's and Gore Vidal's take on "the American century," not to mention Howard Zinn's and Alfred McCoy's. Not that I take them all as gospel, just saying - I don't know if they'd be considered "mainstream" or not.

      I'm not knocking your interests, credentials, etc. of course. We just may have different historical perspectives. I'm definitely not a fan of Clinton or Wilson, either - Wilson MOST especially.

      For me, the political awakening moment of my own youth was Iran/Contra. I was glued to that on tv and have been tracking down further info on ever since.

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  4. As I've said elsewhere, I'm personally convinced that, way deep down where the alligator lives, King still believes there was a conspiracy, and the only reason he says otherwise has to do with distrust of his more radical earlier self. My thinking of this stems from two sources,page 743 of the mass market paperback edition of the final DT volume, and the image of King I got from Tony Magistrale's Landscape of Fear, to which King personally endorsed as "A great read, insightful and intelligent," adding, "Tony has helped me improve my reputation from ink-stained wretch popular novelist to ink-stained wretch popular novelist with occasional flashes of muddy insight."

    The contents of Magistrale's book are interesting in that they reveal a lot of King's thinking to be more in line with say, a campus hippie circa 68. Also bear in mind the book was published in 1988, so it's interesting to seethe eighties version of King endorse views which I wonder how his current self would react. Nonetheless, i maintain he hasn't changed that much, even on JFK

    However, that wasn't written to provoke argument, I'm not even asking for agreement. It's just two cents worth of mind farts. What is cool though is this final easter egg, featuring the current proprietor of the Assassination Museum (i.e. Book Depositroy). This is a guy King had to have met while researching the novel, and I know for a fact King did a reading there as part of a publicity tour (I checked the Depository website here: http://www.jfk.org/).

    The easter egg though is a different interview with the proprietor where he shares his veiw of JFK and...well just watch (he can be seen at about the 5:15 minute mark). Again, not to invite argument or like that, this is just too cool to me personally.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPi6RsWcAwU

    Be seeing you.

    ChrisC

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    1. Pretty cool stuff. I only watched that one segment, but I'm going to mark the rest for later perusal.

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    2. Nice link, Chris, thanks. (Check out that obit list at 1:25! Chilling.) That ep is better than most. I'm not anti-Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Venture, just sometimes he annoys me.

      Did you see the HAARP one? That one kind of bugged me. I've been reading Nick Begich for years and have been fascinated with Tesla-stuff for even longer. That one episode made people like me seem like nutjobs. ha - which, admittedly, is probably not that hard to do, but still, it irked me.

      Incidentally, Bryan Cranston was in a great X-Files ep that was the first thing I ever saw to ever mention HAARP or Project Wayfarer. I can never think of him without thinking of them. Associative memories are powerful.

      As of this writing, I'm "only" 38, so the "Where were you when..." question re: JFK doesn't quite apply to me, but I remember exactly where I was when I first heard about HAARP, at least! Nov. 15, 1998, parents' basement. :-) Seems appropriate.

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    3. That's an excellent episode. "Drive," I believe. If I'm not mistaken, that was where Vince Gilligan first worked with Bryan Cranston. Speaking of which, if you've never watched "Breaking Bad," it is superb.

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    4. Eff yeah on Breaking Bad. Mad Men / Breaking Bad/ The Wire/ BSG = 21st century at its finest. (well, tv-wise.)

      "Drive" is indeed a great ep. Cranston (for those of you who haven't seen it) plays an anti-semitic backwater bastard, yet you still sympathize with him, partly due to Cranston's performance, partly due to said-backwater-bastard's-being-an-unwitting-guinea-pig-for-nefarious-(and needless to say un-waivered) ONI experimentation. Mulder, of course, gets in the thick of it.

      One of my top 5 X-Files.

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  5. Waitasecond...Moxie is still being made? [Cue the Jeopardy theme or the Syncopated Clock] Yep. I just checked. Apparently available regionally, so I'll have to wait until it's available via their website.

    That pressing issue aside, this is a particularly good post. It's clear you like this book.

    You and I have discussed time travel in Star Trek, and I have expressed my...distaste for how much it's been overused in that franchise. As a trope or sub-genre of its own, though, I dig time travel and alternate history stories a lot. This sounds like a good addition to the sub-genre.

    The Jim Marrs mention made me go "oh! Oh yeah! That guy!" I've read his Alien Agenda, which was a meticulous examination of the UFO phenomenon (but I believe we've discussed it a long while back). Marrs is quite a character. I've seen some of those lectures/panels/seminars, and a lot of them make me wonder why they couldn't scrape up at least one person who could handle a camera, or had more than one that could be used to cover the talks. A few things he goes on about grate on me, but I always look forward to him showing up on Coast to Coast AM.

    Oh, to go back to Moxie - what a tagline: "If at all particular." It's like even the manufacturer can't muster up a ringing endorsement of his own product. You see that a lot with product ads from the 19th century. This one tickles me more than most. I'll write one: "If your gag reflex is none-too-easily triggered." There you go, Moxie. A new ad campaign. You're welcome; that's my gift to you.

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    1. I like that tagline. Moxie is a weird-tasting concoction to be sure. I've had it a few times.

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    2. I've never had the pleasure of trying Moxie. I always assumed it was long gone.

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  6. Huh, so maybe THAT'S where (Mike) Scully and Cranston came up with Breaking Bad. Maybe not all at once, but over time.

    And now for the ideal 11/22/63 cast (all pending)

    Jake: Thomas Jane

    Oswald: Ideally, Gary Oldman (say what you want about the rest, his was the best performance in Stone's film). Realistically, Doug Hutchison (Percy from Green Mile, Tooms from Files, this guy can definitely play Lone Nut).

    Harry Dunning: I've heard Harry Dean Stanton mention but I don't know.

    Dunning's Dad: William Salder (Jim from the Mist).

    Green Card Man: Aidan Mackey (Adjustment Bureau).

    Deke Jeff Demunn

    Miz Mimi: Frances Sternhagen

    Sadie: This is the one role that I'm open casting about as who I see in my head looks like no one I've seen before.

    George de Mohrenschildt: Anthony Hopkins?

    JFK, RFK, LBJ, Jackie O, Billy James Hargis, Hubert Humphrey and Barry Goldwater: themselves (I.e. all the newsreel footage you can find, especially if that broadcast of Hargis and Walker is real).

    And finally, this last isn't my idea but it's two brilliant to pass up, so thanks to Richardx for this idea.

    Umbrella Man: Stephen King

    Almost forgot:

    Director: Frank Darabont

    ChrisC

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    1. "Umbrella Man: Stephen King"

      Love it. Not bad choices at all, all around.

      How about Al?

      I kept picturing Tom Hanks (well, a younger Tom Hanks) as Jake while reading. He's too old for the part, I guess, now. Too bad.

      Oldman was brilliant as Oswald, undoubtedly.

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    2. Oh yeah, Al. Forgot all about him. For that character though I was thinking of James Cromwell, also from Green Mile plus six degrees of Oliver Stone by way of George Bush the elder.

      ChrisC

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  7. Here is a little piece of trivia about the Kennedy assassination.

    In the opening credits of the first season of Gilligan's Island, as the Minnow is seen sailing out of the marina, you can see a person on her bridge pointing to a distant flag. That flag is at half mast because the sequence was shot just days after the Kennedy assassination. This according to Russell Johnson.

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  8. In an aside, why do you think that King chose the name of Ivy Templeton as the person who lived in the suburban Dallas home before Oswald.

    Templeton was the young girl in the Frank DeFellita novel, Audrey Rose. DeFellita was one of two authors (the other being John Saul) that King ridiculed for writing cheap horror in his book, Danse Macabre.

    Of all of the inquires that have led to hits on my blog, the Ivy Templeton connection to 11/22/63 is the most common.

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    1. Interesting! The Minnow detail, too, thanks for those.

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  9. I'm sure you've all seen the news by now, but this happy bit of news just popped up in my twitter feed:

    http://www.empireonline.com/news/story.asp?NID=42237

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    1. Could be great, but I'm worried by the fact that they are holding out the option of doing more than one season. Seems like a recipe for another "Under the Dome."

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    2. It's a very real danger, to be sure, but I'll keep my fingers improbably crossed that they're committed to telling the story as faithfully as possible and just need 3 or 4 seasons to do it. I'm tempted to re-read it soon and try and figure out where I'd break the story up into seasons.

      Perhaps they'll change everything to the point where it's President Chadbourne's assassination that needs to be prevented... (Though actually, that sounds kinda cool.)

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