From the Dog Star Omnibus Vault

I've been going a little cross-eyed at the number of posts I have in draft mode, some begun as long ago as 2014, some begun much more recently than that but equally far from the finish line. If I was a tad less OCD - i.e. if I could just leave them there in a state of incompletion until the spirit moved me to finish them - that'd be fine. Alas, I'm not, and each day a post sits there unfinished drags at me like one of those flotation barrels from Jaws

Maybe not so dramatic as that, but I've been wanting to dive back into the Springsteen blogs Bryant Burnette and I have been doing and figured I'd move a little faster if I clear the decks. They're all worthy of more love and attention or analysis than I can presently bring to the table.

Here's a glimpse of the Blogs That Might Have Been. Fire up the Ur-Kindle and search appropriately, friends and neighbors!


First up: the last two John Romita Jr. in the dot-dot-dot posts I had planned: his work in the 2010s and his work on Spider-Man. 

I was enjoying the JRJR-through-the-decades project, but all I have (digitally) of the man's work from the present decade is Kick-Ass. Certainly a series worth looking at, but I don't have any of his Superman or - the above screencaps notwithstanding - his Batman to go with it. Seemed like a lot to skip and still call an "...in the 2010s" post. As for his Spider-Man stuff, I honestly hadn't realized there was quite so much of it: 90-plus issues across three different series (not including the 80s stuff already blogged up). A better blogger than me will have to take that one on; I suspect there's a lot of gold in them hills.

The last Let's Rap About Cap post I put up here was in February 2017. I had planned to do two more (one for the DeMatteis /Zeck run, and one for Mark Gruenwald's Commission saga), but regrettably, the trail went cold. It was fun while it lasted. Let this not be a metaphor for America itself.

I've had a couple of posts on Walt Simonson's Thor in queue for a couple of years now, and while it's clear I'm not going to finish them anytime soon, I'm sure I'll still get to them, as I usually read Simonson's Thor run once a decade or so and I'm due. I had a notion of starting a series of posts on Kirby's Fourth World with an overview of Simonson's Orion, though, and that's looking like it's not going to happen. Too bad because it's probably the best - and apologies to all Kirby purists - of all the takes on the New Gods.

Impossible for me to make my case in the space allotted, hence the initial desire to do so in a series of blogs about it.
Don't take my word for it, of course - line 'em all up an read them yourselves. There's a lot of great Fourth World stuff out there.

And while it's taking me forever to get back to Twilight Zone Tuesday and continue my year-by-year exploration of the Gold Key comics, I still very much intend to.


This whole series of posts grew out of the groceries routine I had during the first year of my eldest child's life. I thought it would be amusing to qualify that with some details, but after I typed it all out, guess what? It wasn't! So, we'll just leave it there. I still plan on putting up the occasional FNFN, but I've been stuck on this one forever and it's time to move on. Film in question:

Worth seeing? You bet, it's a stone-cold classic. And really, maybe that's the part that trips me up. What can I add to the discussion, really? Just screencaps and the occasional personal ancedote. Which is more than fine by me - that might even be on my gravestone - but I hadn't watched it that way originally. A Friday Night Film Noir is a whole different approach than a Scenic Route post. I'd have to go back in and re-do it - not just re-watch it but re-do it, i.e. shitcan what I already did, since it was notes for a FNFN post, and spend about twice the duration of the film pausing every so often to get and crop my screencaps. Oh, to have a bullpen of interns or ghost writers! Or the proverbial robot body. Or clones. Maybe someday someone will re-do the movie Multiplicity but make it about a guy who just wants to get to all the blogs he wants to do.

And speaking of!


There are some novel/film combos I've had on this list that I keep meaning to get to, and I fully plan to. But I've been tinkering with these two - 


- for months and months and just cannot seem to crack the code, as it were. Instead I've added more and more to them and now have way too much but still not enough. I mean take a look at this Island in the Sun folder:

Each of those folders has sub-folders in it, and each individual folder represents two-to-five-paragraphs apiece. Who do I think I'm fooling over here? That ain't a blog, it's a damn semester. Is this some kind of fake online university? It sure the crap is not. 

On a short list of End-of-Empire reads for me, and the movie's pretty great, as well.
The film adds the nice touch of beginning and ending on the image of Harry Bellafonte's character walking on his own into the unknown future.

As for The Long Goodbye, the novel and the film are very different animals. Equally fascinating in their own ways, but very different animals. Hardcore fans of the book seem to dislike Altman's American New Wave update on it, and non-Chandler fans seem to prefer the film. I love both, but I will say, I've never understood why Altman didn't just call his film something else altogether. It's different enough to just be a homage/ update of the novel without it explicitly being called it. If that were the case, though, we might not have gotten the theme song, which plays throughout the movie but scored differently each time. (A rarity in cinema, if not unique to The Long Goodbye.)

"She opened a mouth like a firebucket and laughed. That terminated my interest in her. I couldn't hear the laugh but the hole in her face when she unzippered her teeth was all I needed." 

"The name's Chick Agostino. I guess you'll know me."
"Like a dirty newspaper. Remind me not to step on your face."


Have you noticed how many blogs out there start as one thing and then slowly morph into random film reviews? Mine will likely suffer the same fate. (Better that than political rants, I guess.) Before we get there, here are two that got away from me. First up:


I've always had a soft spot for anything that uses the trappings of "trash" culture to make a serious academic point, or - even more - when I suspect it happens accidentally. This is probably the case with Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman. I don't suspect its creators purposefully set out to create such a fruitful object of meditation for subsequent generations of film connoisseurs and scholars. I've read such varied interpretations of it over the years, most of them under a feminist-theory umbrella, which makes the most sense, but also more than a few Marxist deconstructionist stuff. I was trying to find one of the latter - about how the film is an examination of what happens to "appetite" in a capitalist system - that I read years ago, but no luck.

There's definitely something more than meets the eye going on here.
Almost David Lynchian in some scenes.
A cuckolded woman driven mad by the knowledge of her husband's infidelity.
The authorities are no help - hell, they're protecting the philandering sonuvabitch.
Attempts to dialogue result in nothing.
"I'll help you get undressed and take your pill."
Let me step out of the way (mostly) and let the screencaps tell you the rest.
Literally holding a baby doll meant to be her husband in this scene. Cheesy fx shortcut for a pause-button-less generation, or cheeky Freudian reference, take your pick they both work.
Reconciled... in death.

All of the above plus about a hundred other redundant screencaps were meant to be corralled into something resembling a sensible overview, but again I felt like I was recreating the wheel. Plus it's all probably perfectly self-evident upon viewing. Still - what a fun flick. Right up there with other meta-narrative gold of its era like Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Creature from the Black Lagoon or  Star Trek's "The Man Trap". 

And I screencapped Bulworth a while back but haven't found anything to do with it.

"The populace is unaroused."
Subtle placement of janitorial station.

It's filled with caustic swipes, such as when the insurance man leaves out one door and the Senator's paid assassin comes in the other.

Good movie, though. A little awkward in spots but maybe even Beatty's best work. Call me crazy.


"One of the more curious after-effects of Prince's death is that I finally got into ZZ Top. Let me unpack that a little..." So began a blog from 2016 about:

The Prince/ZZ Top segue was on account of an interview Billy Gibbons gave after Prince died where he relayed some of his conversations with the Purple One about guitar tone and technique. They were mutual fans of one another and shared one other thing in common: mad respect from all their professional contemporaries and critics for how they play their instrument but not always popularly recognized as the brilliant guitar players they are. Or in Prince's case, were, I guess. RIP, you purple SOB. 

But, I didn't get to it fast enough, and my musical "buzz" moved elsewhere. (To Sade and Robert Cray blogs, specifically.) ZZ Top still very much rocks. There was a stretch last year where this outro to "Backdoor Love Affair" was in my head all the time, and I just found myself randomly nod-and-squinting along to it on the bus or elsewhere. Great soundtrack music for walking around. As is "Sharp Dressed Man," which is one of those things that is used in so many things from commercials to punchlines in Reality TV or elsewhere to perhaps fool you into forgetting how utterly, perfectly cool it is.

You could say the same thing for Robert Palmer, specifically his work with The Power Station (1985) through the same year's Riptide and Heavy Nova (1988). I've been listening to a whole hell of a lot of this the past few months. That whole Power Station album (best known for "Some Like It Hot") is a hot air balloon rising and falling through a neon landscape of cocaine and Miami Vice, while Riptide is just so cool: whether it's the dreamy disorientation of the title track or "Get It Through Your Heart," the every-montage-you-ever-saw-awesomeness of "Hyperactive",  the ultimate revenge/ expression of the Seinfeld bass-line approach to life on songs like "Trick Bag" or "Discipline of Love," the unexpectedly-metal swagger of "Flesh Wound," or the album's big hits - and 80s classics in general - "Addicted to Love" and "I Didn't Mean To Turn You On."

The video for "Addicted to Love," featuring Robert and stoic Nagel-esque girls lip-synching in front of a fake backdrop, was instantly iconic.
The motif re-appeared in the video for "I Didn't Mean To Turn You On."

The success of Riptide and especially the music videos meant a repeat of it all for the lead-off single for Heavy Nova. It's a bigger production - twice the girls, twice the dancing - but a much crasser effort. While Robert is clearly taking the piss out of the persona in the above videos, "Simply Irresistible" drops the irony altogether and synchronizes bumping and grinding intercut with close-ups of the girls pantomiming sex. Rather tame compared to these days - or even those days really - but I declined to screencap it. It's basically a Viagra commercial. I have a soft spot (no pun intended) for the Pepsi commercial, though.

Heavy Nova is, like Riptide, remembered for these videos than as an album. Which is too bad, since (again like Riptide) it's an eclectic and spirited collection of tunes. RIP, Mr. Palmer. Noblemania has a three-part interview with the girls of some of the above videos here.


"'Yeep!' A small brightly colored shape darted out from behind Lord Leighton's desk. It was Cheeky, the "feathered one" from the Dimension of the Crimson River. He was about the size and the shape of a monkey but covered head-to-foot with bright blue and green feathers instead of fur.

"He was also telepathic."

Ah, Richard Blade and his bangtastic adventures in Dimension X. I had aspirations at one point to do a three-part series on Blade's adventures, all to fulfill a joke with a dead man that he never even heard. I still love the idea (described here) but the actual reading is a bit of a slog. Not quite rinse-wash-repeat, more like rinse- become-palace-sex-slave-to-overthrow-kingdom-cuff-the-underling-then-bang-high-priestess-and-whomever-else- repeat. In theory, entertaining; in the reading, not so much. 

This is very much not the case with:

One of the most entertaining books I've ever read. (The cover notwithstanding.) Judging solely on the reactions from people when I say things like this, I'd have to list Garrison Keillor way up there on my list of guilty pleasures, right up there with Jimmy Buffett's Don't Stop the Carnival. (What? It's freakin' great, ya jerks, leave me alone.)

"It was a good place to grow up, Lake Wobegon. Kids migrated around town as free as birds and did their stuff (...) You were free, but you knew how to behave. You didn't smart off to your elders, and if a lady you didn't know came by and told you to blow your nose, you blew it. (...) Your parents did not read books about parenting, and when they gathered with other adults, they didn't talk about schools or about prevailing theories of child development. They did not weave their lives around you. They had their own lives which were mysterious to you."

"Life is complicated, so think small. You can't live life in raging torrents, you have to take it one day at a time, and if you need drama, read Dickens. (...) The urge to be top dog is a bad urge. Inevitable tragedy. A sensible person seeks to be at peace, to read books, know the neighbors, take walks, enjoy his portion, live to be eighty, and wind up fat and happy. (...) Nobody is meant to be a star. Charisma is pure fiction, and so is brilliance. It's dummies who sit on the dais, and it's the smart people who sit in the dark near the exits. That is the Lake Wobegon way of life."

This excerpt kind of makes it sound like an extension of Keillor's "News from Lake Wobegon" segments, late of Prairie Home Companion. But it's actually an insightful take-down of the ascendancy (and blind spots) of politically correct culture in public radio and higher education. So insightful, in fact, that I think he spent the next twenty years apologizing for it in the circles Keillor ran. For that alone, it deserves a Pultizer. But beyond that, it's just a very well-written, poignant, and accessible story.

Unfortunately, it seems beyond my ability to corral into a post. I had dog-eared something like 50 pages on my last read; that's what is called "dog-earing yourself into a corner," kimosabe. Ain't no way I can sit here and transcribe all the quotes I want to. Too bad - go to Goodreads or search "Wobegon Boy quotes" and you get maybe 5% of the quotable material. This blog could've done a public service! Maybe it still will. First order of business when I get the robot body/ support-staff. (Well, first-ish.)

And finally:


"Can you hold him?"
"Ain't much left to hold, he's deader than armadillo shit."

I mentioned wanting to watch some of Quarry, the recently-cancelled Cinemax series starring Logan Marshall-Green based on the Max Allan Collins series in my recent remarks on Quarry's Climax. I decided to watch the episode Collins himself wrote:

s1, e6

I do want to go back and watch the episodes in the proper order, but I felt the author's take on his own material would be an interesting entry-point. Whether or not it turns out to be I guess I'll find out, but as for the episode itself, it's terrific. Quarry - in the midst of his particular domestic problems with a dynamite supporting cast - takes a contract from the Broker on Eugene Linwood. Linwood was arrested in a previous episode for taking a black student off a bus on its way to a desegregated school and beating him to death. While Linwood travels around town with ease, glad-handing the locals at bars and diners, the black part of town is put on lockdown.

Quarry tracks Linwood to a schoolbus yard, where he intends to place a bomb on one of the buses, beats him to death, then blows up the bomb himself.
When he reports in to the Broker, we learn it was the Broker himself who ordered the hit.

As is the fashion of these days, Quarry is long-form storytelling, so there's way more to the above going on in "His Deeds Were Scattered." But as I can't speak to it credibly, I didn't feel comfortable reviewing that part of it. Hence its appearance here instead of in a post of its own.

Whence the episode title.
A great-looking series.



  1. 1.

    "If I was a tad less OCD".

    Put her...Well, OK, maybe not put her there, but it's refreshing to meet a fellow sufferer online.

    2. "Better that than political rants, I guess."

    ..........I got a new conspiracy theorist for you.

    That sentence is best read to mentally prefacing it with the image of Boris Karoll's Grinch having an "awful idea", but I digress.

    I ran across this guy's blog maybe a month or so ago and, well how's this for a sample:


    Salt mileage may vary, yet if nothing else, you can't call it uninteresting.


    It's been a genuine while since I saw "50 Ft. Woman as an eleven to twelve year old. Maybe the age explains why I came away underwhelmed. This is the first time I've actually seen it from another angle. I'll have to hunt that film down again. Would greatly look forward to seeing that film as part of a full post.

    Right now it's enough fun to imagine what kind of Star Wars film David Lynch might have turned out, like if he were given cart-blanch to do what he wanted with the characters.


    1. 1. I've never been officially diagnosed or anything, but yeah: some things I just can't leave alone or get past. I'm a lot better than I used to be.

      2. What do you make of all this stuff? It really seems to me two things are going on: 1) Russia is engaging in the campaigns against the West (the US in particular) that it always does, has, and always will. and 2) Trump's election literally broke his opponents' brains, and since they all run the newspapers and think-tank groups and all go to the same schools and all think, act, and write exactly the same way at the same time (go figure), there's been this coordinate Russia-did-it! narrative. Mainly to save their own jobs. The media-academe establishment was beyond 100% convinced Trump was going to lose, and they staked not only their reputations on it but the livelihood of their entire apparatus. (Think of how foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation evaporated after the loss; that's big in other parts of the world. It was a huge loss of face.) And the "Russia Did It!" narrative was born. I read the other day (I think at The Intercept, hardly a pro-Trump publication) that the WaPo has had to run a correction on something like 95% of its Russia/Trump articles since the election. Trump broke these people's brains but good.

      Still, only a fool would trust or turn his back on the Crazy Ivans!

      3) It's one of those movies that is adaptable to many a theory. Like "The Edge:" the bear can be anything the viewer wants it to be in that movie; the script is 100% malleable for any narrative interpretation. I love when that happens.

    2. 1. For me, it's more of the classic unwanted thoughts complex. Is Polar Bear Syndrome another word for it?

      2. When it comes to the whole Russian angle, I'll admit, I can't help but wonder if there's sort of a there there. If it were ever possible for this whole narrative to be established as fact, then holy - freakin' - crap.

      If they could pull it off, then it would have to amount to the most incredible conspiracy against the U.S. since Benedict Arnold.

      The irony is, even if it were true, it would still come off as a kind of poorly told joke. It all sounds like being forced to live a bad novel, something even Tom Clancy would claim is beneath him. Whatever the truth is, I'd still have to go with Gary Goldman in "Leon: The Professional":

      I haven't got TIIIMMMME for this Mickey Mouse Bull$^#%!

      3. I've got to look up "Edge" film, then.


    3. Oh yeah, definitely check out "The Edge!" I love that friggin' movie.

    4. I'm reluctant to wade far into the Russia issue, which may indeed actually be more of an America issue.

      But my suspicion is, IF the Russians did anything -- and for my own part, I believe they probably did -- to us, I'm sure we've done something equally invasive and horrible to them, probably more than once.

      Bottom line is this: no matter what the truth -- "truth" -- is, it's bad. If Russia did it, that's bad. If Russia did it and a segment of our population helped, that's bad. If Russia didn't do it, and we elected Lord Fuckface all on our own, that's bad. If we elected Lord Fuckface all on our own and the media or whoever purposely concocted a story about Russia to make themselves feel better, that's bad. If they didn't purposely concoct it but instead have actually kind of hallucinated it, that's bad.

      There is no good here. None whatsoever.

    5. A history of America muckracking in elections around the world or - more specifically - doing exactly what it looks like the only thing Russia actually did (i.e. "RUSSIA DID IT!" turns out to be "Russia paid for some ads on facebook." Okay.) is out there - multiple histories. I don't have a rec for ya, though!

      Hell, in the 90s, there was an awful lot of shady dealings with the newly "democratic" Russia. I think I read about some of them in Michael Ruppert's CROSSING THE RUBICON, but it's a drop in the bucket.

      One doesn't have to go full-on Alan-Moore's-THE-SECRET-HISTORY to get an idea of what I'm talking about.

      Of course, compared to the commies, that was just par for the course.

      Anyway, no one's perfect. But, yeah: that whole class of Ivy League grads who comprise the media-academe buffer zone, instead of all getting collectively fired, have just been acting out since Nov 2016. It's like Trump's twitter account, by multiplied by a clone factory of Rachel Maddows.

      Great times! I got defriended by yet another reactionary yesterday. "I DON'T CONSORT WITH PEEEEEEDOPHILES AND NAZIS!"

      In the great words of Phil Connors from Punxsatowny, "Morons - your bus is leaving!" Good riddance, ya jerkwagons.

  2. (1) "It was fun while it lasted. Let this not be a metaphor for America itself." -- *shudder* But also, RIP "Let's Rap About Cap"! That's one's a bummer for sure.

    (2) "This whole series of posts grew out of the groceries routine I had during the first year of my eldest child's life. I thought it would be amusing to qualify that with some details, but after I typed it all out, guess what? It wasn't!" -- Don't you hate it when stuff like that makes sense in your head but no place else?

    (3) There's a long goodbye, and it happens every day when some passerby invites your eye to come her way. Even as you smile a quick hello, you let her go; you let the moment fly. Too late, you turn your head; you know you've said the long goodbye.

    (4) I love the glimpse at the folders full of screencaps. I've got a few of those my own self!

    (5) "Better that than political rants, I guess." -- If I were wearing a beret, I'd insist that all art is political and that therefore a film-review blog was by definition a series of political rants.

    (6) "or - even more - when I suspect it happens accidentally" -- Yes, yes, and yes. Does such an animal exist in 2017? It must, but I'm not sure I would actually believe it unless it were held directly in front of my face. (By the way, I've never seen "50-Foot Woman." Seems like a major mistake, looking at this set of 'caps.)

    (7) I only saw "Bulworth" the once, but -- excepting the agreed-upon bits that make one cringe -- I thought it was fantastic. If Beatty's ever been better, I've never seen it. (I'm no expert on Beatty, though, to be fair.)

    (8) Apart from a few singles, I know very little about either ZZ Top or Robert Palmer. I suspect investigation would yield rewards.

    (9) "He was about the size and the shape of a monkey but covered head-to-foot with bright blue and green feathers instead of fur. He was also telepathic." -- Well, if that doesn't delight ya, then you're undelightable, from where I'm sitting.

    (10) There can't be a huge number of people who share both Keillor and Buffet as guilty pleasures. I'm a big fan of the buffalo wings at Margaritaville, though, I'll say that much.

    (11) Man, you've seriously got me intrigued by this "Quarry" business.

    (12) Well, these all sound like posts I'd have enjoyed reading, but I certainly understand the clearing-the-decks maneuver when it comes to blogging. And how!

    1. (1) I wish I'd finished the LRAC posts back when the iron was hot. That's the whole problem with these labor-intensive projects. If you don't power through when you've got the momentum, then it just seems crazy months down the road once the momentum is gone. "You want me to do what, now, with my night off?" says Lazy Un-Momentum Brain. "How are we going to watch PACIFIC HEIGHTS?"

      (4) I bet!

      (8) I wish I'd written down my top 10 ZZ Top albums. In the top were ELIMINATOR and TEJAS, definitely. Fun band, great guitarin'.

      (10) Buffett in general I'm kinda meh on. But DON'T STOP THE CARNIVAL (based on a novel by Herman Wouk, which I read as a result of loving the Buffett CD) is great. I was working at a coffee shop in Dayton, Ohio when I discovered that all of my friends wouldn't even listen to it. I think they ended up putting G Love and Special Sauce on instead. I still have all those friends, but I bring this afternoon up to them a lot when they ask me why I don't trust them about some new band or singer. Because you blew it, Kowalsky!!

      (11) I do want to read all the Quarry books, but I think I might gave MAC's Nathan Heller series a whirl first.

      Well, whenever I finish FLOATING DRAGON, that is. Knocking out 10-12 pages a day (vs. my old 50-60!) it's slowgoing. But a good read. I had to chuckle as (on pg. 115 or something) he adds a few more psychic children characters into the already-considerably-packed mix. I bet he'd been having out with his buddy Steve before he wrote that chapter!

    2. (8) I stumbled quite by accident upon a four volume digital best of Palmer Collection on YouTube.


      All things considered, it's pretty rad.

      (10) My parents, somehow, got me interested in Keillor when I was just in freakin' kindergarten, believe it or not.

      Then again, they also managed to make me into a 7 year old Woody Allen fan. Go figure. I think it might have been a recitation Keillor did of "Casey at the Bat" that got me hooked. I'd seen an old Disney cartoon of the poem, but couldn't remember the details, so Keillor came in handy. After a while, I got into him for his own sake.

      (11) Just tell me this, how many times have you wondered if Straub is piling on for the sake of...well I don't know what, he just really seems o want to pile on in that book.


    3. Man you aren't kidding re: piling on. He has a weird habit of introducing a new character, with loads of backstory and supplemental characters, who ends their section by asking about still another character, which the next section begins anew.

      It's kind of irritating, to be honest, at least for my reading palate. It kind of feels like he's just, well, like you say, piling on for the sake of it.

      But, I am still in the very-much-enjoying-it phase, I just want to make sure he's got everything he needs in place and doesn't keep starting the story all over again in the next 100 pages.

      GRRM is the worst for this. There's worldbuilding and then there's fear-of-commitment/solipsism. Of course, he's got more immediate problems than that (and here's plug for the SOUTH PARK Black Friday/ Game of Thrones mash-up.)

    4. Speaking of fear of creative commitment, I think the same could be said for J.M. Barrie.

      I had a chance to read a book called "50 years of Peter Pan" over the course of the summer, and I was struck by the fact that Barrie never seemed capable of getting the story into any finished form.

      Then there is the fact that a reading of both play and the novel version of the play forced me to conclude that considering Disney' and Spielberg's version of the character as canon is probably for the best.

      Yes, I'm the original creator's version the Pan Myth is sub-par in relation to the two most famous adaptations. At least the "Thrones" have signaled they know where they are going with the material (I hope?).

      I can't say I mind "Dragon", though, all that much, though a case could be made that "FD" and "Shadowland" vie for the least restrained novels of what could be labeled Strabu's Glory Period.



    5. Have you read any of his recent work, Chris? Any thoughts? I'm kinda thin on Straub - have only read Ghost Story and (so far) half of FD. I've got to hand it to FD, though: it's a lot of fun. Can't believe this was never made into a movie (or better yet, a miniseries.)

    6. When it comes to Straub, I'm still playing catch-up. The latest work of his that I've read is "A Dark Matter", published in 2008. So who knows what he's up to now.

      "ADM" is pretty good, in some ways, its a welcome return to his more classic style of storytelling. This time, he seems to be doing a riff on the "Rashamon" trope.

      I haven't finished it yet, but it looks promising. As for the rest, I'm familiar withe Straub's work only through Bill Sheehan's "At the Foot of the Story Tree".

      Sheehan gives a synopsis of everything up to a late 90s work, "Mr. X". I can't say I know how well even an informed synopsis can convey the full scope of the work (though curiously, Bev Vincent's "Road to the Dark Tower" somehow seems more epic than the all the actual Tower books in my mind), however, based on Sheehan's description of the plot's for "Koko", "The Throat", etc., I get the sense that Straub is trying to hard.

      He seems obsessed with not getting stuck repeating himself, all while maintaining as high a standard of literary quality as he possibly can.

      To be fair, these far from undesirable goals. Indeed, it's very easy, sometimes, to wish that more artists would apply, or at least find some way to hold to such integrity.

      The problem with Straub is, this fixation seems to cause him to slip up, and over-indulge where a much more basic workman's approach would do better for any story idea he has. This is a shame, as lately I've come to think that Horror, out of all the other genres, has the most potential (when executed well) to make audiences elevate their expectations. Straub's trouble is that he can't trust to the story to know what it's doing, hence the feeling that he's too much the puppeteer in his later works, although the outline of "The Hellfire Club" sounds kind of interesting.

      Incidentally, Neil Gaiman published a book called "Anansi Boys" that makes me wonder if he and Straub were inspired by the same archetype. The difference is, Gaiman told his story with a surer hand, or at least that's how it seems to me at the moment.


    7. Thank you for that detailed overview! I really look forward to digging into these.

  3. Replies
    1. This blog was the first thing I thought of when I saw that news.