The First Cookie: My Review of Carrie

There is just something about a new year.

I know that the calendar is simply a human construct, and really pretty meaningless, maybe even random, if you really think about it.

But I still love the concept of a new year.

It reminds me of when I buy new art supplies, for example.  I know that I have bought most of this stuff before, and I am just recharging my already ample supply (luckily, my husband is understanding, although he would not agree that it’s not hoarding if it’s art supplies.)

But still, every time I hoard buy new art supplies, I get that feeling of new possibilities.  No limits.  And I can start anew.

And that is how I feel about 2017.

Especially after the horror movie otherwise known as 2016, that will probably be struck from the history books.

BOCA RATON, FL - MARCH 13: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a thumbs up during his campaign rally at the Sunset Cove Amphitheater on March 13, 2016 in Boca Raton, Florida. Mr. Trump continues to campaign before the March 15th Florida primary. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Seriously, those school kids in the future will likely have some gap in their books (or whatever will pass for books in 2297) that covers 2015, 2017, 2018 and so forth.

But yet there will be a gap, in that 2016 will be skipped over.  And I am sure that the parents (or robot nannies) of the future will have fun trying to explain that one.

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In other words, 2016 was pretty scary.  I mean, who wrote 2016…Stephen King or somebody?

Oh, speaking of which…

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In case you forgot which blog you were reading…

Yes, we are starting out 2017 with a review of a Stephen King book…who knew?!

And for this month’s review, we are going back in time…

All the way back to the beginning, in fact.

Now, I know that King started off his writing career at a fairly young age, and spent years trying to get his work published.

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In other words, I am sure there are lots of early works by The Master somewhere out there, for our reading pleasure.

But, for the purposes of this humble lil ole blog, we are going to focus on The Master’s first published book (and also the first of his books to be turned into a movie, which is still a classic.)

So, we are going to be reading and dissecting the novel Carrie.

The book with the infamous shower scene.

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The book that makes you want to get a T-shirt that says “I survived my high school prom and all I got was this bloody T-shirt!”

(See what I did there?)

Carrie was the first published book by Stephen King.

It set the precedent for horror and also for book-to-screen adaptations.

It’s iconic.

Even non-King fans (gasp) can probably recite lines from the movie, and probably even know that is based on a Stephen King book.

Carrie is a huge part of popular culture.  And there is a reason for that:  it discusses themes that everyone can relate to, including puberty, bullying, parental abuse and a few others.

So, strap in, Constant Constant Reader, and get ready for the wild ride otherwise known as Carrie!

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The book begins with an account of stones mysteriously falling from the sky, in the proximity of a house that a woman named Margaret White lives in, along with her toddler daughter Carrietta White.  No one is ever able to explain why the stones fell from the sky, although people do not seem to be surprised that such an odd phenomena would occur in the vicinity of that particular house.

The story then jumps forward several years.  Carrie White is now a teenager attending Ewen High School in Chamberlain, Maine.  Carrie does not fit in at her high school and is bullied mercilessly by her peers.

The bullying reaches a peak one morning, when Carrie begins her first menstrual period at the age of nearly 17.  Carrie does not understand what is happening to her and thinks that she is bleeding to death in the showers of the gym at her school.

Almost at once, the other girls begin to torment Carrie, throwing tampons and menstrual pads at her, demanding that she “plug it up.”  Susan Snell, who generally does not bully other students, participates in tormenting Carrie, although Sue realizes that Carrie may not actually understand what is happening to her and that Carrie may also be genuinely terrified.

We then learn the story of Carrie’s birth.  Her mother, Margaret White, was in denial that she was pregnant, as her religion proclaims that any sexual intercourse is a sin.  Margaret gives birth to Carrie at home, with no medical assistance.  Margaret was alone, because Carrie’s father had passed away several months earlier.

Ms. Dejardin, Carrie’s physical education teacher, puts a stop to the attack.  She does not punish Sue and the other girls right away, but dismisses them so that she can help Carrie.

Ms. Desjardin then escorts Carrie to the principal’s office.  She tries to explain menstruation to Carrie, but Carrie is too upset to listen.  The principal, Mr. Morton, then dismisses Carrie for the day, after Ms. Desjardin gives him an explanation of what happened.  Ms. Desjardin also states that she will punish those responsible for the incident, and Mr. Morton allows the punishment to be her own.

Carrie walks home from school, upset about the treatment she has endured from her classmates over the years.  Carrie is also aware that she is different because she has the ability to move objects with her mind.  This was demonstrated earlier when she forced a light bulb to explode and an ash tray to fall off Mr. Morton’s desk.  Carrie is able to knock a child off his bicycle when he torments her as she as walking home, and realizes that she may be able to control this gift, with practice.

We then read the account of the incident from Carrie’s childhood when the stones fell from the sky.  The incident is told from the perspective of Carrie’s former neighbor, who is being interviewed for a publication.

Carrie arrives home that morning, and finds the sanitary napkins her mother has hidden in the house.  She is no longer frightened, as she realized that menstruation is a normal part of growing up, although she is embarrassed, as she previously thought that sanitary napkins were used to remove lipstick.  Carrie also desires to break free of her mother’s constricting religious beliefs, and to fit in with her peers.

However, Carrie is also angry, and breaks a mirror in an expression of her anger.

The story then switches to the perspective of Sue Snell.  Sue is dating a boy named Tommy Ross, who is the most popular boy in school.  The two have recently become lovers, and Sue begins to contemplate a future with Tommy and realizes that she has fallen in love with him.  That night, when the two are on a date, Sue confesses what happened that morning in the shower to Tommy, as she is upset with herself.  Tommy listens to Sue and suggests that Sue apologize to Carrie for her part in the incident.  However, Sue is unable to come up with a solution to her problem, and still feels badly for what happened.

That evening, Carrie faces the wrath of her mother, Margaret.  Margaret believes that her daughter has sinned because she is now menstruating, and forces Carrie into a small closet to pray for forgiveness.  Margaret also strikes her daughter.  However, Carrie pushes back, threatening to make the stones come again if Margaret does not stop the abuse.

The next week, Ms. Desjardin confronts the students responsible for the attack on Carrie.  Sue Snell is among these students, and accepts responsibility for her part in the incident.  However, Chris Hargensen, one of the other responsible students and a school bully, refuses to accept the punishment, and tries to convince Sue and the others to walk out in protest of Ms. Desjardin and her punishment.  Sue refuses, and Chris’ refusal results in a suspension and refusal of her prom tickets.

Chris’ father also refuses to accept his daughter’s punishment and attempts to bully the school administrators into reversing the punishment so that Chris can attend prom.  The administration, however, stands up to him, and he backs down after he learns what his daughter did to Carrie.

Sue is also forced into a confrontation with Chris, as Chris is angry that Sue did not stand with her in protest of Ms. Desjardin’s punishment.  However, Sue tells Chris that she accepts responsibility for her actions.  Chris counters, telling Sue that she is a hypocrite and only accepting the punishment so that her prom ticket will not be refused.  Sue realizes her hypocrisy, and wonders how to counter it.

Sue continues to feel remorse for her responsibility on the attack on Carrie, and finally has an idea of how to atone.  Sue convinces Tommy Ross, her boyfriend, to ask Carrie to the prom.  Sue is convinced that if Carrie attends prom, she may finally be able to fit in with her peers.  Tommy is reluctant, but finally agrees to Sue’s request.  After he agrees, he tells Sue that he loves her.

Tommy approaches Carrie one day between classes, and invites her to the prom.  Carrie is skeptical, but is finally convinced and agrees to attend the prom with Tommy.  After speaking with Carrie, Tommy realizes that she is far from repulsive.

Carrie decides to use her talent for sewing to make her own prom dress.  Carrie also develops her other talent, known as telekinesis, and is able to move larger objects using her mind.  She informs Margaret that Tommy has invited her to prom and that she has accepted the invitation.  Margaret is furious and attempts to forbid Carrie from attending.  Carrie fights back, using her newfound powers, and wins the battle.  Carrie emphasizes her desire to fit in with her peers, much to the shock of Margaret.

Word spreads that Sue will not be attending prom and that Tommy will instead be taking Carrie to the prom.  It also becomes evident that Chris Hargensen is planning something, although no one is sure what she is planning.

Billy Nolan, Chris’ boyfriend, breaks into a farm one night.  Billy and his friends kill a couple of pigs, and drain the bodies of blood, taking buckets of blood with him when he leaves the farm.

Carrie sews her dress and begins to get ready to attend her senior prom.  Margaret again fights with her, attempting to persuade Carrie not to attend, but once again, Carrie uses her powers to stand up to her mother.  Carrie also tells her mother that she loves her after the confrontation.

Tommy arrives to pick up Carrie, who is extremely nervous, and has even considered not attending the prom.  However, Carrie is pleasantly surprised even from the beginning of the evening, as her classmates and her date treat her with respect.  The girls are impressed with her dress, and surprised by her talent for sewing.  Carrie is further surprised to learn that she and Tommy have been nominated for Prom King and Queen.

While Carrie is attending the prom, her mother Margaret comes to the decision to kill her daughter when she comes home later that night.  Margaret has noticed Carrie’s talent for moving objects with her mind from the time when Carrie was baby, and believes that Carrie’s gift is a sin.  Margaret contemplated sacrificing her daughter many years ago, but did not.  This time, however, she is determined to carry out her plan.

Chris and Billy also carry out their plans to play a prank on Carrie that evening.  They sneak into the high school, where Billy has hidden buckets of the pig’s blood in the rafter.  They plan to dump the blood on Carrie if she is crowned Prom Queen.

Carrie and Tommy are then nominated as Prom Queen and King.  They are crowned onstage.  However, when Carrie and Tommy enter the stage to accept their nominations, Chris pulls the strings, and Tommy and Carrie are doused with the pig’s blood.  One of the buckets hits Tommy on the head, and he is rendered unconscious.  The impact is so severe that Tommy dies in less than an hour.

The audience is first shocked, and then begins to laugh at Carrie, who is also in shock.  Carrie escapes from the gymnasium, but uses her powers to unleash the sprinkler system.  This causes an electrical fire, and students and teachers frantically attempt to escape from the school, which is now engulfed in flames.

Carrie wanders the town, in a state of madness.  She begins to cause more destruction, using her powers to wreak havoc in the town of Chamberlain, Maine.

Eventually, while the town of Chamberlain burns to the ground, Carrie returns to her home.  She is met by her mother, Margaret, who is armed with a butcher knife.  Margaret then stabs Carrie, believing that she is committing an act mercy in ending her daughter’s life.

However, Carrie is not killed by her mother, as she envisions her mother’s heart coming to a stop.  Margaret then dies after her heart comes to a complete stop.

Word of what has happened in Chamberlain reaches Billy and Chris, and they head back into town.  However, they also run into Carrie, who takes revenge on them by using her powers to overturn their vehicle.  Carrie is hit by the vehicle, and Billy and Chris are killed almost instantly.

Sue Snell is wandering the streets of Chamberlain.  She appears to have some sort of telepathic connection with Carrie and knows that Carrie has killed her mother.  She also realizes that Tommy and most of her friends have been killed.

Finally, Sue finds Carrie and realizes that Carrie dying.  She still shares a telepathic bond with Carrie, although the bond is weakening because Carrie is dying.  Carrie is convinced that Sue tricked her and is responsible for the events that occurred that night.  However, Carrie probes Sue’s mind, and realizes that Sue bore no ill will towards her and only wanted to help her.

Carrie traps Sue in her mind as she is dying, so Sue also experiences Carrie’s death.  Finally, Sue escapes Carrie’s clutches, and realizes that she has gotten her menstrual period, which had been a week late.

At least 409 people have died due to the destruction of the high school and the surrounding town.  An autopsy of Carrie White has revealed unusual formations in her brain, and the governor appoints a committee to study the tragedy.

Sue Snell survives the devastation and writes a book about the events.

The town of Chamberlain effectively becomes a ghost town, as people begin to leave.  More bodies are discovered, and the funeral business becomes the most active business in Chamberlain.

Some years into the future, a woman writes a letter to her sister.  The letter describes an incident with the woman’s infant daughter, who apparently has the ability to move objects with her mind.  However, the woman does not fear her daughter, but reveres her instead, believing that the little girl will accomplish great things in the future.


My Thoughts

Well, you know what they say…

Big things come in small packages.

Yes, this cliche may be overused, but I cannot think of a better description of the book Carrie.

It may not be a big book, but it packs a big wallop.

Carrie is King’s first published work.  King has compared it to a cookie baked by a 6 year old:  you can tell it’s a cookie, and it has some nice flavorings, but that cookie is misshapen, burnt on the bottom, etc.

Well, that cookie is some mighty fine eating, and an appetizer for great things to come!

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There are so many great things about this little book that it is hard to know where to start our discussion.

First of all, all Carrie has some great villains.  And no, the title character is not one of them, although we will discuss her in a bit as well.

No, the villains in this story are Carrie’s mother and her classmates, which mainly include Chris Hargensen.

As I have stated before, one of King’s major strengths as a writer is his ability to write about “real life.”

Making the statement that King writes horror is a severe underestimation of King’s work, almost like making the statement that Aaron Rodgers plays football.

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In other words, there is so much more to King (as there is to Aaron Rodgers, as the Dallas Cowboys found out this weekend.)

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King writes horror stories, but when you strip away the horror, his stories are about people.

And one of the things that people do is not be nice to each other.

You know, like sheltering your kid her whole life, locking her up in a prayer closet when she does normal kid things and oh, not telling her about the “birds and the bees?”

Margaret White is one of King’s best human villains.

When one says the name Stephen King to most people, they may think of Pennywise the Clown, a girl who can start fires or maybe of the title character of the book we are discussing, who “lost” it and destroyed her high school.

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Most people are not going to think of religious fanaticism and how dangerous that fanaticism can be be to an impressionable teenager who only wants what most teenager want, i.e. to fit in with her peers somehow, and to not be the butt of EVER SINGLE horrible practical joke every bully somewhere has dreamed up.

What is great (or is it horrible?) about the character of Margaret White is that she is so plausible.

Margaret White exists in this world today.

Any time I read an article about some kid dying because the parents refused medical treatment for religious reasons, or some adult that escaped a household run by religious fanatics who insisted on homeschooling their children and not allowing their children to date before marriage, I think of Margaret White.

Granted, the outcome in Carrie may be a bit extreme, as most kids don’t kill their abusive parents and many are able to flee those conditions and eventually make better lives for themselves.

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But Margaret White still exists.  And she is dangerous, as most people do not recognize the actions of the Margaret Whites in our world for what they are:  child abuse.

Child abuse does not always mean that a parent hits his/her and leaves bruises (although Margaret was guilty of this, and this is still tragically all too common.)

Instead, child abuse can be more insidious, as when the parent controls all actions of the child, and does not allow opposing viewpoints in the child’s life.

Child abuse can also consist of a parent forcing their viewpoints on their child, and punishing the child for daring to have an opposing viewpoint (the prayer closet in action.)

The book Carrie also has another villain, besides Margaret White.

Or should I say, a set of villains?

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In case I am not being clear, I am referring to Chris Hargensen, along with the other sickening half of the dynamic duo…

Yes, Chris is some sort of demented Batman, and that would make Billy some kind of creepy, greasy Robin, I suppose.

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When I read about the bullying experienced by Carrie, and the actions (and lack of actions) by her classmates, I was reminded of one of my favorite books as a child.

This would be the book Blubber, by Judy Blume.

Judy Blume is similar to King, in that she writes “real life.”

In fact, most of my sex education was derived from her books (talking to you, Forever, and Are You There God?  Its Me, Margaret.)

Along with educating me about my anatomy, Ms. Blume also discussed bullying at length in almost all of her books.

However, Blubber was a book devoted to the subject of bullying.

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In this book, children gang up on a particular classmate, bullying her ostensibly due to her weight (the title is the cruel nickname they have come up with for this child, in fact), although the real reasons may be a little deeper.

However, Blubber is not told from the perspective of the bully.  Nor is it told from the perspective of the victim.

Rather, it is told from the perspective of a bystander, Jill.  Throughout the book, we watch Jill evolve, from a fellow bully to a victim to finally someone who becomes enlightened and a more compassionate person.

When I was reading Carrie, I was struck by the similarity between Chris Hargensen and the bullies in the book Blubber, along with the similarity between Sue Snell and the Jill character in Blubber.

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Like the bully in Blubber, Chris is charismatic.  At the beginning, Chris able to get others to do her bidding.

This includes her not very bright, but very cruel boyfriend, Billy Nolan.

In fact, unlike Chris, Billy does not care very much about Carrie White.  He just wants to dump a bucket of pig’s blood on someone, for the thrill of it.  Interestingly, Billy also seems to be the only one who understands that criminal charges would be brought against him and Chris if they were caught.

However, throughout the novel, Chris’ “friends” begin to turn away from her.

One of these friends is Sue.  Much like the Jill character in Blubber, Sue goes along with the crowd at first.

She wants to be accepted and does not want to “rock the boat.”

However, much like Jill in the book Blubber, Sue begins to evolve.

She does not want to miss her prom, but realizes the effect that the bullying has had on Carrie White.

As the events of the story unfold, Sue begins to evolve.

She realizes that there is more to life than high school, her friends and even Tommy, her boyfriend.

Sue is able to put herself into the shoes of Carrie, and realizes what a horrible time that Carrie has had throughout her life.

This prompts her to “loan” Tommy to Carrie for an evening, so that Carrie may have a few hours of happiness.

And when things go horribly wrong, Sue begins to feel a sense of responsibility.

Sue also reminds us that Carrie was a person, with real thoughts and feelings.

Carrie also seeks out Sue, as her life is ending, and realizes that Sue is not to blame for what happened.

In fact, it seems if Sue is able to offer Carrie one of the few bits of compassion that Carrie has ever received in her life, which eases Carrie’s suffering just a little as she dies.

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And last but not least, let’s talk about the title character herself, Carrie.

Now, I know that Carrie is not a terribly long book, and there is not a lot of room to get to know characters on an in-depth basis.

However, King does a good job with the character development in this book.  In fact, he does more than good, considering the length of the book.

In the past, people have indicated a dislike for Carrie as a person.  Or they simply pity her.  Even King has indicated that Carrie is not really a likable character.

However, I respectfully disagree with The Master on that (gasp.)

Maybe it’s because I was bullied as a child.  Or maybe it’s because I survived an abusive marriage.

But I find the character of Carrie White to be fascinating, and to me, she is one of King’s more interesting characters.

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Throughout much of the book, we see Carrie through the eyes of Carrie herself.  And the picture is not flattering, as it would appear that she is overweight and suffering from acne.

However, I was struck when I read the part where Tommy asks her to the prom, and notices that she was “far from repulsive” but this was “the first time he had really looked.”

So was Carrie just invisible when she was not being bullied?  I tend to believe this, because I spent most of my childhood being bullied and trying to remain invisible so I would not be bullied.  In fact, when my ex boyfriend told me that the guys at our college thought that I had the best legs on campus, I was struck speechless.  Really, I don’t think that I even knew that I had legs, much less legs that others may consider to be attractive.

But that’s how it is when you try to remain invisible:  you lose sight of yourself, and become invisible to even your own eyes, so you don’t see what others may marvel over.

Throughout the book, Carrie does begin to emerge from her shell.  And I began to like that girl on her own merits, much like Tommy Ross.

For starters, I thought Carrie to be a strong woman.

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She survived bullying and abuse (from both her peers and her mother) for years, and basically did not flinch.  In fact, she tried to take some of the bullying with good humor, even though she (understandably) lost her sense of humor pretty quickly.

To top it off, Carrie did not have a support system at home.  Most of us who are bullied have family and friends outside of school, so that we have something worth living for.  Carrie did not, although she had a mother who considered anything that may bring her daughter happiness to be a sin.

So anyone who can survive as long as Carrie did under those circumstances is somebody to be admired, not pitied.  And I like strong people, as well as admire them.  I like people who somehow find a way to push through it, even when the circumstances are not good.

“Hurt people hurt people.”

This is a quote from Laverne Cox, in regards to bullying and harassment.  And it applies so well to this book.

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Carrie was definitely one of the hurt people.

Her bullies could not even allow her a few moments of happiness, when she was invited to prom by the most popular boy in school and then crowned Prom Queen.  At that point, even some of her classmates, like Tommy, had begun to like Carrie on her own merits.

But then a horrible prank was played on her, and as they say, the rest was history.

And my question is:  why wouldn’t Carrie “snap” after enduring that kind of prank?

In fact, why wouldn’t anyone “snap” after enduring that kind of prank?

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Throughout the book, the scientific articles are focused on the telekinesis aspect.  Should something be done to prevent children from being born with this ability?  Can we isolate this gene that is responsible for “Typhoid Mary’s?”  Should we test children for “TK ability,” as we test them for tuberculosis?  And so forth.

But never once is the most important question asked:  What causes people to lash out, as Carrie did?

Personally, I was amazed that Carrie did not lash out sooner, due to the abuse that she endured.

Throughout the book, Carrie is not portrayed as someone prone to violence.

She may have fantasies in regards to revenge on her tormentors, but that would be perfectly normal, in my book.

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But constant bullying changes people.  I am living proof of that.  My childhood ought to be behind me, but it isn’t.

I spent my life being told I was not good enough.  So I married an abusive man, because I didn’t think I deserved any better.  In other words, I internalized that message.

I still have difficulty making friends.  Bullying causes major trust issues, so it is hard to open to people so that they can really get to know you.

So it is no wonder that Carrie used her powers to destroy her school and her town, along with killing her mother.

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She had nothing left to live for, as Tommy was killed by the falling buckets.  And no friends, as everyone laughed at her when she was hurt.  And her mother was the cause of this humiliation, as she failed to educate her daughter in regards to her own body.

So it seems to me that telekinesis is not the problem.

Rather, the problem is man’s inhumanity to man.

The telekinesis is a distraction.

We don’t need to worry about testing kids for TK or isolating any type of gene.

Rather, we need to test kids for bullying tendencies, along with testing parents for abuse tendencies.

Until we recognize bullying and abuse for what they are, hurt people will just continue to hurt people.

And the legacy of the Carrie Whites of the world will continue to live on, with horrific consequences.

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Well, that’s it for that tiny package known as Carrie…what a start to the new year!

Join me next month for the read and review of the greatest love story of all time between a boy and his car, aka the novel Christine!

Although we may make a slight detour into the world of Joe Hill again…I hear Christmasland is lovely at this time of year!

Tune in next month…

Same bat time, same bat channel!

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Connections

Even though Carrie is the first published Stephen King novel, it connects to his other works, just like nearly every other King novel.  Here are some of the connections I found:

-The events in Carrie are referenced by a character in the novel The Dead Zone, and mention is made of a movie based on those events.

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-Carrie’s telekinetic abilities are similar to abilities possessed by several other King characters, including Ted Brautigan in Low Men in Yellow Coats (part of the collection Hearts in Atlantis), Kira DeVore (Bag of Bones), Jake Chambers (The Dark Tower series), Danny Torrance (Doctor Sleep and The Shining), Abra Stone (Doctor Sleep), Tyler Marshall (Black House) and several others.

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-In the King universe, Breakers are people who possess psychic abilities and are recruited by the Crimson King and his Low Men (Hearts in Atlantis, Black House and The Dark Tower series) to destroy The Dark Tower, the nexus of all existence.  If Carrie had lived, it seems she most certainly would have caught the eye of The Crimson King and his Low Men.

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-Religious mania is a running theme in King’s work.  Margaret White is similar to several other religious maniacs, including Sylvia Pittson (The Gunslinger, Wizard and Glass) and Mrs. Carmody (The Mist, part of the collection Skeleton Crew.)

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-In The Dark Tower, Susannah mentions getting her first menstrual period, and her experience is similar to that of Carrie’s, as she is also abused in the same manner.

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-Margaret White is employed by Blue Ribbon Laundry.  This establishment is featured in the short story The Mangler (part of the collection Night Shift) and in the novel Roadwork, which was originally published as a Richard Bachman novel.

The X Files Renewal: Episode 2 Recap and Review

Sometimes, you just need to get back to basics.

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Well, not that kind of basic.  To each his own, but I think pumpkin spice lattes are basically disgusting!

No, I mean to kick it old school…

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Yes, I am that old that I can remember when those phones were considered to be cutting edge technology.  Nice thing was, you couldn’t crack the screen.  Although they were kind of limited, in that you couldn’t take those cute selfies with them.  Nor could you download endless kitty pics with those…

No, I am talking about getting back to what works.  What’s familiar.  Sure, there may be new twists on it (even most dinosaurs have smart phones in this day and age), but it is still recognizable for what it is:  old skool.

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And that is exactly what were treated to with the second episode of The X Files Renewal, titled Founder’s Mutation.  Sure, Scully may have cracked wise about our dependency on Google (guilty as charged, doc!) and Mulder may have updated his cell phone just a bit. And Scully’s wardrobe may have been missing the shoulder pads that screamed 1995 and proud.  But really, those details were the only ones that reminded me that it was not, in fact, 1995 (I did get a few flashbacks, though.  I confess:  my criminal record is not completely clean.  I must admit, I have committed more than a few crimes against fashion.  Ah, well.  the 1990’s happened to the best of us).

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In other words, I got to travel back to the 1990’s.  And I didn’t even have to subject myself to ESPN footage of the Dallas Cowboys to do it!  And it was grand!

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So, without further ado, here is my recap and review of Founder’s Mutation, the second episode of The X Files Renewal.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The episode begins with a scientist named Dr. Sanjay, who works for a man named Augustus Goldman, entering his place of employment.  Dr. Sanjay attends a morning meeting and begins to suffer from extreme auditory distress.  He also sees a large flock of birds outside the window.  Sanjay them locks himself in a server room, where he downloads files on to a portable drive.  However, the sounds become so unbearable that Sanja scrawls something on his palm, and commits suicide by stabbing himself with a letter opener, as his horrified colleagues look on.

Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully then arrive at the scene.  Scully debunks the incident as a psychotic break, and questions why the agents have been called to investigate it.  Mulder wants to examine the hard drive, but is told by a man who presumable works for the Department of Defense that the property contains classified information that the agents cannot access.  However, Mulder takes Sanjay’s cell phone, and schedules a meeting with a man named Gupta, in the hopes that he can learn what led Sanjay to commit suicide.

Mulder meets with Gupta.  Gupta mistakenly believes that Mulder wants to pay him for sex.  Mulder learns that Sanjay was homosexual, but lived his life in the closet.  Mulder also learns from Gupta that Sanjay seemed distressed, and stated that his “children” were dying, even though he was a single man with no biological children.

The agents then investigate Sanjay’s apartment.  There, they find pictures of children with terrible genetic mutations.  Mulder also hears the same piercing sound that Sanjay heard before his death.

The next day, Mulder and Scully meet with their boss, Walter Skinner.  Skinner tells them that all files having to do with Dr. Sanjay are classified and off limits.  However, Mulder has made copies so that he can continue to investigate Sanjay’s death anyway.  Scully also performs an autopsy on Sanjay, discovering that the area where the scientist stabbed himself when he committed suicide is actually the area of the brain that processes auditory information.  Scully also notices that Sanjay has written the words “Founder’s Mutation” on his palm before his death.

Scully also reviews the surveillance footage from the day of Sanjay’s death, looking for clues.  Mulder confesses that he has heard sounds that no one else seems to be able to detect, which worries Scully.

Mulder and Scully discover that Dr. Augustus Goldman is a donor to the hospital where Scully is employed, and Scully arranges a meeting with him.  When they visit the hospital, Mulder and Scully also meet a frightened, pregnant young woman who tells them that Dr. Goldman wants to take her baby and perform experiments on it.  The young woman scurries away, however, when she sees the hospital staff members coming her way.

As they leave the hospital, Mulder theorizes that Goldman is involved in The Project and using unborn fetuses on eugenics experiments.  This leads Scully and Mulder to discuss their son, William.  Scully has a daydream where she and William experience a normal childhood, but the normal childhood is interrupted when it is discovered that William is actually a mutant.

Mulder and Scully pay a visit to Dr. Goldman’s clinic.  The clinic houses several, parent-less children who suffer from horrible genetic mutations.  Dr Goldman is defensive, and tells the agents that he is working in the interests of the children.  The agents also notice that the clinic houses a girl named Molly, who does not seem to suffer from any visible mutations. Mulder does some of his own research, and finds out that Mr. Goldman’s wife has been committed to a mental hospital for killing their unborn second child.  Scully and Mulder also find out that the frightened young woman from the hospital has died in a suspicious hit and run accident, and that her unborn fetus is missing.

The agents visit Mrs. Goldman, who tells them of her husband’s experiments on unborn children.  She tells of an incident involving her daughter, Molly, who fell in a pool but did not drown because she appeared to have the ability to breathe underwater.  Mrs. Goldman also tells Mulder and Scully that her second child, a son, is not dead.  She claims to have attempted to escape from her husband and his experiments, and given birth to her son after a nearly fatal car accident.  However, she does not know the whereabouts of her son.

Scully reviews the surveillance footage and deduces that the janitor seen in the footage is actually the son of Mr. and Mrs. and Goldman.  The agents pay a visit to the boy, named Kyle Gilliam, and his adoptive mother.  Kyle’s mother is protective at first and does not want to disclose any information to Mulder and Scully.  Mulder begins to hear the noises again, and notices that birds are gather in large groups on the lawn.  Scully finds Kyle in the barn, and points a gun at him, telling him to desist.  Kyle obeys, and agrees to go with the agents to see Dr. Goldman.  Kyle tells Mulder and Scully that he never meant to use his abilities to hurt anyone and that he is actually looking for his sister.

Mulder and Scully arrive with Kyle at Dr. Goldman’s clinic.  Dr. Goldman takes a sample of Kyle’s blood, and Kyle inquires about his sister.  Dr. Goldman brings out a young girl, but Kyle sees through the ruse and knows that the young girl is not his sister.  Kyle then finds Molly, and it becomes evident that Molly possesses telekinetic abilities.  The two free Molly from her confines, and attack their father, Dr. Goldman, causing him to suffer from a massive hemorrhage.  Kyle and Molly then escape from the clinic, and quickly disappear.

The episode ends with Mulder also daydreaming about his son William, the son who he claimed that he did not think about earlier in the episode.  Mulder also daydreams about a normal childhood for William, but that childhood is again interrupted by the fear that William suffers from some kind of mutation.


My Thoughts

Well, this episode made me shiver…

And not just because I am married to the Penguin who insists on keeping our house at temperatures that have earned it the nickname “Arctic Zone.”

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No, this was a good shiver.  A happy shiver…

THE X-FILES: L-R: David Duchovny, guest star Dough Savant and guest star Jonathan Whitesell in the "Founder's Mutation season premiere, part two, episode of THE X-FILES airing Monday, Jan. 25 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ed Araquel/FOX

This episode was nostalgic.  I felt like I had come back to Grandma’s house for dinner after being away many years, and that she had remembered exactly what I like and how I like it.  And she was there to greet me with a big hug.

And this episode was chock-full of what I liked.  Grandma Chris Carter certainly has a good memory!

We had one of my favorite dishes, aka Mulder.  Mulder with his sense of humor that is so dry that it makes the Sahara Desert seem like Lake Michigan.  Mulder and his wild theories that refuse to be tamed by the rational mind known as Scully.  Mulder minus the scruff of the opening episode, even (don’t worry Mulder, I would still love you even if that beard grew out to ZZ Top length).

THE X-FILES: L-R: David Duchovny and Mitch Pileggi. The next mind-bending chapter of THE X-FILES debuts with a special two-night event beginning Sunday, Jan. 24 (10:00-11:00 PM ET/7:00-8:00 PM PT), following the NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, and continuing with its time period premiere on Monday, Jan. 25 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT). ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ed Araquel/FOX

And Scully performing an autopsy on her subject, and speaking her medical terms….talk about some shiver material right there!  Pure nostalgia at its finest!

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We were even treated to a dose of Skinner, telling Mulder and Scully that there was no way they would have access to any relevant info they would need to move forward an inch in this case, and oh by the way you did have the presence of mind to make copies of those top secret files, right, Mulder?  In other words, Skinner’s way of saying, “Oh, you kids!  Here’s the keys to my car, and try not to wake me up when you get back in, ok?”

The X-Files (Fox) season 9 Shown: Mitch Pileggi (as Assistant Director Walter Skinner)

The story line to Founder’s Mutation was pure 1995.  Classic.  It contained everything that made the series work in 1990’s, but still somehow stayed relevant to 2016.

One of the things that this episode contained was gore.  True, this is a network television show, but the ick factor in this episode was surprisingly high for prime time.  The episode even opened up with the ick factor…how do you get ickier than a close-up of a bloodshot eyeball?  Well, have your guy commit suicide in a gruesome manner about 30 seconds after showing the close-up of the bloodshot eyeball.   After all, you gotta set the tone, right?  And set it early on, too.

THE X-FILES: L-R: David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in the "Founder's Mutation season premiere, part two, episode of THE X-FILES airing Monday, Jan. 25 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ed Araquel/FOX

This episode not only contained ick and gore.  It also contained just overall freakish-ness.  For example, the kids. The X Files is no stranger to freaky kids.  Even Mulder and Scully conceived one (more on this in a minute).  But these kids…wow!  I felt a mixture of horror and sadness when I saw them, and I even felt some pity.  They reminded me a bit of Frankenstein’s monster:  they did not ask to be put on this Earth, but have to cope with their afflictions, and learn to survive in a world that is not ready for them, and likely never will be.

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I also loved the nod that this episode gave to old school horror.

For example, the birds that appeared when those super-sonic noises were made…

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Well, they were also positively Hitchockian…I am sure the man would have been proud!

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And kids with paranormal powers.  Nope, definitely something I have not seen before…

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But, as always, The X Files managed to throw us a curve ball, with this episode.

And that curve ball happens to go by the name of William.

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Well, I don’t want to think that he looks like that, actually.  After all, someone related to Mulder is still going to be ultra-cute, right?  Even if he does have that pesky alien DNA…

The discussion of William was a curve ball indeed, and a touching curve ball at that.  If you didn’t tear up at least a little at those daydreams (before alien William interrupted, at least), that  you have ice instead of blood running in your veins.  And you probably kick puppies, too!

Scully and William 1

And how could you not melt, when Mulder, aka Mr. I Don’t Give a Crap Oh Wait I Really Do You Can Totally See Through My Hardened Exterior, had his little daydream sequence, where he snuggled on the couch with William (who adorably mispronounced the word “monolith,” aww) and gave him a kiss on the cheek.  And built a model rocket with his son.  It was enough to melt even those of us living in the Arctic Zone, I tell you!

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Of course, I am sure this will make a nice arc into William’s story, and what exactly has happened to him over the years (I hope, at any rate), along with adding another layer of complexity to Mulder and Scully’s characters and their relationship.  So bravo, Mr. Carter!  You grossed me out a bit, but you also made me tear up!  But then again, you are the genius!

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So that’s it for Founder’s Mutation!  Join me next week for the recap and dissection of the third episode of The X Files Renewal, Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster

Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

batman and robin

 

Since Everyone is Entitled to my Opinion 2.0

Well, it looks like this is my week for giving opinions.

I treated everyone to mine a couple of days ago, in regards the proposed Dark Tower movie.  And that was fun.  Speculation always is always fun.  Casting threads are too.  And I can never have enough conversation about Stephen King and his magnum opus.

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But life isn’t always fun.  And I think we all know that.  Sometimes, you need to cast aside the fun and be serious, at least for a minute.

Like this post today.

There will be no casting threads.  No speculation.  And I don’t even think this post will be especially nerdy.

So you have been warned.  Feel free to skip over to any of the other posts, if they are more likely to suit your fancy.  For today’s post will have a bit different of a flavor, and may not be to everyone’s taste.

Yesterday, it was announced that former Carolina Panthers‘ defensive end (who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys) Greg Hardy will be suspended for 10 games during the 2015 NFL season for his role in a domestic dispute that allegedly turned violent.  Hardy was accused of assaulting the woman and threatening to kill her.  The criminal charges against Hardy were dropped and the case was settled in a civil court.  The NFL determined that Hardy was guilty of violating its personal conduct policy, and doled out what Commissioner Roger Goodell determined to be an appropriate punishment.  In this case, it was suspension without pay from 10 regular season games.

Greg Hardy

There is also the more notorious case of Ray Rice, former player for the Baltimore Ravens.  Ray Rice and his now wife Janay Rice were the subjects of the famous video footage that was leaked last year, where Rice could be seen beating his then fiancee unconscious in a hotel elevator, and then dragging her body across the hotel hallway.  Rice was originally suspended for only two games, but the release of the video and the ensuing public outcry changed that punishment to indefinite suspension, and Rice was also released by his team, the Baltimore Ravens.

Ray Rice

Many would agree that the punishment is an appropriate one for Greg Hardy (Mike Golic certainly does).  In fact, I would like to think that most would agree with this statement.

But once again, the aforementioned trolls have come out of hiding.  But really, is that too surprising?

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And the trolls always have an opinion.  And they also seem to think everyone is entitled to that opinion, and they are not shy about voicing that opinion.

Well, trolls, you know what you need to do?

That’s right…SHUT THE FUCK UP!

And I would tell you where you can stick that opinion.  Let me give you a hint:  sunlight does not make its way there.  Enough said.

Greg Hardy strangled his girlfriend.  That’s right:  strangled.  Have you ever been strangled before?

Well, I have.  I am a survivor of domestic violence.  I was married for nearly seven years to someone who abused me, both emotionally and physically.

For seven years, I lived in terror.  I walked on eggshells constantly, never knowing what may set him off.

And no, my ex did not come with a sign saying “I beat up women for fun.”  My ex came across as a nice guy, but as someone who had a hard time in life, and just needed some understanding.  I would provide him that understanding, and be able to fix him.

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But boy was I ever wrong.  My ex was not the man I thought he was.  Scratch that, I know men (my father, husband, brother and various male friends.  Even my two neutered male dogs).  My ex is not in that category.  He may rank a little above a cockroach (I hate those fuckers) but my two neutered male dogs know way more about manhood than my ex ever will.

giant cockroach

So I lived with the abuse, hoping it would go away.  And really, I was just afraid for seven years.  But like a blind person who does not know he/she is blind because he/she has always been blind, I never knew I was afraid.  I accepted it, just a the blind person accepts his/her lack of sight, because there is no other choice.

And I accepted a lot.

I accepted being strangled to the point where I had to fight for air, and where my lungs just wouldn’t function.

I accepted my hair being pulled so hard that my scalp bled.

I accepted the black eyes and the bruises.  I accepted having to lie about those on a regular basis, even though I really don’t think anyone else I knew accepted those lies.

I accepted being beaten in a hotel room, where I was pinned in a corner and used as a human punching bag.  And I accepted the cuts, scratches and bruises on my face and other parts of my body.  After all, if I had not aggravated him, I would not have been put in that position.

And I accepted being a shell of my former self.  Even when you don’t know you are afraid, the fear will still whittle you down to almost nothing, until you look in the mirror, and are unable to recognize that husk staring back at you.

Luckily, I am a survivor.  It has been nearly eight years.  I am married to a wonderful man and I would not trade our relationship for the world, even though we have had our ups and downs.  My life is (usually) pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

But my ex (unlike Greg Hardy and Ray Rice) never faced any consequences for his actions.  No jail time.  No monetary punishment of any kind.  His parents never even held him accountable, and chose to blame almost anything and everything else on his behavior, including me.  So he was able to just walk away.  Nothing happened to him.

However, I was not able to just walk away.  If only.

There were the trust issues.  My poor husband.  I really am married to a saint.  What I put him through, because it took me so long to be able to trust him completely and actually feel safe.  When you know nothing but fear and the fear disappears, you have no idea of what to do with yourself.  So you will try to re-create that fear, in order to bring back what you know.

And the nightmares.  Oftentimes, victims of domestic abuse also suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Nightmares are a part of that.  I know that I got out, and luckily got out alive.  But sometimes, after I fall asleep, I forget that fact.  And I would take dreams about an evil clown over dreams of living with my ex any day.

pennywise

And the humiliation.  One of the worst parts.  How much time do I spend beating myself for making the mistake that I did?  And how long did I hide this part of my past from nearly everyone that I knew, fearing judgement?  I heard some awful things said about Janay Rice for staying:  that she was a gold digger, why couldn’t she just leave, etc.  But its not that easy.  The Twitter conversations #whyIstayed and #whyIleft shed a little light on this subject, but those who have not experienced what myself, Janay Rice and countless other women have experienced simply fail to understand that it really is not that easy.  I can’t speak for Janay Rice, but I did at one point love my ex husband, and wanted to try to save my marriage.  And I was also afraid, and had every right to be afraid, as women are more likely to be killed by their partners when they attempt to leave, not when they stay in that hell.

So listen up, trolls.  Mike Golic is right.  This punishment for Greg Hardy is fitting.  This punishment is completely appropriate.  This punishment is not about Roger Goodell being on a power trip.

This punishment is actually about the NFL doing what is right.  Our judicial system does NOT do what is right when it comes to cases of domestic violence.  Otherwise, far fewer women would be killed by their partners, as the system would not allow abusers to walk away so easily.  And restraining orders would actually be more than a piece of paper that abusers could walk right through.

Greg Hardy (and Ray Rice) have made millions.  Both will likely continue to make millions, as they play a sport that rewards handsomely, and often turns a blind eye to people’s pasts.  They will likely not have to worry about food, shelter and other basic (and not so basic) necessities for the rest of their lives.

But myself and other survivors of domestic abuse will likely not have it so easy.  And I know I am lucky.  I have a great support system of family and friends.  I have a job and a way to support myself.  And I am resilient.  I have been resilient all my life.  I am able to bounce back, even though it hasn’t been easy.  But I will still be living with the effects of the abuse.  They may now be scars instead of open wounds, but scar tissue is still sensitive if its touched just right.  And its not easy knowing that ex (and other abusers) will never face any kind of consequences, as we live in a society that has so little regard for survivors of physical, sexual and emotional abuse.  Perhaps this will change some day, but change is never fast, and often comes too late.

So trolls, stop being a Greg Hardy apologist.  He has been suspended for 10 games.  Big deal.  He will never be living in fear.  He will never face judgement for being a victim.  Greg Hardy will not have to live with the effects of domestic violence for the rest of his life, like I will.

So, if we have to punish someone like Greg Hardy by suspending him for 10 regular season NFL games, and hitting his pocketbook a little bit, then so be it.  The damage done to his pocketbook is far less than damage he caused to his ex girlfriend, as she will likely be dealing with its after-effects for a long, long time.  The damage done to Greg Hardy’s pocketbook is not nearly enough punishment, but if that punishment can bring some kind of solace to his victim, myself and anyone else who has suffered at the hands of someone like Greg Hardy, then that punishment needs to stand.  Sometimes in life, we are stuck taking the consolation prize.  And the consolation prize is almost always better than nothing.

Fat-Green-Troll