American Gods: Season 1, Episode 8 Recap and Review

Unfortunately, good things have to end.  They can never last forever.

Good meals, good vacations, good sex…

And good television shows end as well.  Well, at least for the season.

This weekend, I experienced one of these endings.  Actually, I experienced an ending to a few of the above mentioned things, although only one of them is a relevant blog topic.

In other words, I watched the last episode of the season for American Gods last night.

Yep, sniff, gulp.  The last episode.

Now, I may get to experience a *good meal* or two between now and next spring, but I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that I will probably not see a new episode of American Gods for almost another full year.

But, I feel an empty spot in my heart already.  There is now a free hour on Sundays that I will have to fill with something else.

Whatever that something else, it won’t be American Gods.  And that is a weird feeling, almost like I am missing a tooth or something, like my favorite technical douche…

But, even though it was the last episode, it was still a blast.  I mean, go big or go home, right?  Well, American Gods chose the former.  And it did the “going big” part really well.

The season finale, titled Come to Jesus, was everything a season finale should be:  it advanced the story arc, introduced potential future story arcs, introduced new characters and ended on a bit of a cliffhanger.

Perfect, in other words, just like most of the rest of the season.

So, come join me one last time (at least until next spring), as we review and dissect Come to Jesus.

And, as always:

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American Gods: Season 1, Episode 7 Recap and Review

Often, you think that you know someone, and know that person very well, indeed.

That is one thing that I have discovered in being with the same person for over 10 years now:  I think I know him, but then I learn something new about him, such as the fact that he is not in fact allergic to reading and is capable of reading a book every now and again…who knew?

It is the same when watching a television show.  You think you know a particular character and then wham…he surprises you, and you see him in a whole new light.

This can even be true after only, say…seven episodes of said TV show.

I mean, you think you know your really tall, loud and foul mouthed, drunk leprechauns who are obsessed with their gold coins.

But then, you watch the seventh episode.

And you see your leprechaun in a new light.

(And no, I am not seeing light because the leprechaun has a new, shiny gold coin.)

The leprechaun in question is still really tall, loud and foul mouthed.  And I don’t think he will quit drinking any time soon.

But now the leprechaun has a new, softer side.  Dare I say, a more human side?  That makes him actually…someone to relate to?

So, in case you are confused, I am talking about the second to last (sniff, boo) episode of season 1 of the show American Gods.

It was an unexpected episode, in many ways, letting us get to know someone, who, up until this point, had been somewhat of a minor character, although his dialog (the phrase “dead wife” still makes me giggle) had been pretty spectacular.

But, after this episode, the leprechaun in question (aka Mad Sweeney) has become a pretty significant part of the story.  And now I love him even more.

So, let us begin with the recap and review of season 1, episode 7 of American Gods, titled A Prayer for Mad Sweeney.

And, as always:

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American Gods: Episode 6 Recap and Review

A leprechaun, genie and zombie walk into a bar…

Nope, this is not the opening line to some really lame joke told by your Trump loving uncle at that family Thanksgiving dinner you go to every year, whether you want to attend or not.

(Actually, I am giving too much credit to the Trump loving uncle, as I am sure he would be using terms way more offensive than genie, zombie or leprechaun.  Or he is just not literate enough to even come up with those terms, actually.  But I digress.)

No, the above actually just happened, on television at any rate.  And I got to watch it happen!

Yes, I am referring to the sixth episode of the awesomeness known as American Gods.

Although let me update that description a bit:

A really tall guy calling himself a leprechaun, although he is not exactly one, a gay Muslim smitten with his jinn lover and an asshole dead wife walk into bar…

Okay, that is much better!

And really, Mad Sweeney, the dead wife and the guy who had sex with a jinn and got a new life really did get together, and somehow ended up going on a road trip together, and they stopped at a bar that has brought really bad…luck…

(Well, someone had to say it!)

And you thought your family vacations were crazy!

Well, let’s tune into some craziness now, as in the crazy good show known as American Gods.

In other words, time to dissect and review episode 6, titled A Murder of Gods.

And, as always:

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American Gods: Season 1, Episode 5 Recap and Review

In every relationship, there comes a crossroads of sorts.

I call it the “for keeps” moment.

In other words, you decide if the relationship is something that is permanent, or just a temporary fling.

And that moment is something easily recognized, by most us.

It could be a look.

Or a piece of jewelry.

Or a Batsy reference…

(In case you forgot what blog this is.)

And this weekend, it happened to me.

I have entered into a permanent relationship.

It is for keeps.

I am no longer a free woman…

Well, at least on Sundays!

In other words, I consummated my relationship with American Gods this Sunday.

(I am allowed to date outside my marriage, as long as it is a TV show, DC character or movie.  What can I say, my husband is cool!)

The acting, writing and dialog in this episode made me fall head over heels.  And I want to solidify my commitment to this beautiful show, gorgeous on both the inside and outside.

So, American Gods, let me pop the question…

Will you…

Allow me to dissect and review you?  Forever and ever?

Til death (or cancellation, shudder) do us part?

I’m gonna take that as a yes…

So, I am down on one knee, and present you my recap and review of episode 5, titled Lemon Scented You.

And, as always:

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American Gods: Episode 3 Recap and Review

So, Sunday finally came.

I had been waiting all week.

Finally, it was time to plunk myself in front of the altar, er television.

And worship…

Well, actually no.

Still a bit early for that particular Sunday service, as much I want to watch my Colts again.

Luckily, I have something else to worship in the meantime.

That’s right, I am talking about the divine new show on Starz network, aka American Gods.

After all, NFL season is only for 6 months of the year, and between February and August, the only offering we get is the draft.

So I need something to tide me over.

Luckily, American Gods allows me to continue worshiping at the altar, even though it is not football season.

And once again, this week’s episode provided plenty of reasons to worship at the altar on a Sunday afternoon.

Almost made me forget about the NFL season being still so far away.  Almost.

So join me, as I review and dissect episode 3, titled Head Full of Snow.

And, as always:

 

 

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American Gods: Episode 2 Recap and Review

The history of America is a complex one.

People came from all over the world.

And contrary to popular Ben Carson opinion, many of these people did not come to America on their own accord.

In fact, violence and bloodshed are a large part of our history, for better or for worse.

This country was also built on the backs of vulnerable people, including women, children and slaves from Africa who were kidnapped and brought over to this country, in the name of making this country wealthy and powerful.

And of course, elements of all of these different cultures are now part of American culture.

We eat pasta.  That is Italian.

Some of us listen to jazz music.  Jazz music is something that can be traced back to African culture, and was brought over to this country by the non-immigrant folks, aka slaves.

Even if you watch a movie such The Avengers, there are references to Norse mythology, as characters such as Thor, Loki and Odin are based on gods from Norse mythology. In other words, Hulk’s “friend from work” is actually an immortal Norse god.  That must make for some interesting office dynamics!

But, back to my point.

This country owes a large debt to immigrants, along with African American slaves.

Chances are, something that catches your fancy can be traced back to an immigrant or possibly an African slave.

In fact, someone wrote an entire book about this phenomenon.

The name of the book is American Gods.

At it’s core, American Gods is a dark fantasy that gives us an interpretation of religion along the lines of “it’s real if you believe.”

American Gods also serves us to remind us how important immigration and slavery are to this country, and the large debt that this country owes to both.

Now, American Gods has been translated to the screen, so these ideas have come to life.  And what a glorious trip it has been, even though only two episodes have aired, so far.

So, here is the recap and review of the second episode, titled The Secret of  Spoons.

And, as always:

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American Gods: Season 1, Episode 1 Recap and Review

So, last night I had an OMG moment.

And thank god I had that too.

For the love of god, it was good!

And I can’t wait to experience it again, godspeed!

Ok, enough with the un-godly horrible jokes…

Oh, oops…

Well, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am referring to the series premiere of American Gods, Starz network’s latest offering that is based on a book of the same name, written by the illustrious Neil Gaiman.

Under the premise of the show (and book), gods are real.  They are real because we worship them, although their powers are declining because we have moved away from religion, and towards our modern “gods,” aka media, technology and the stock market.

The old gods are gearing up for a battle with th newe gods, so that the old gods may show the young whippersnappers who is really in charge.

And woe to any innocent bystander who gets caught up in this battle…

Especially if said bystander goes by the name Shadow Moon

At its core, American Gods is a fantasy, somewhat similar to The Lord of the Rings, but set in modern times and familiar places, with a main character who symbolizes the melting pot that is America.

American Gods can also be seen as a sort of allegory for how immigration has shaped this country, as the immigrants not only brought their foods and languages to this country, but also their religion and beliefs.

In other words, their gods.

So, without further ado, here is the recap and review of the first episode of the first season of American Gods, titled The Bone Orchard.

Oh, as always:

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The X Files Renewal: Episode 5 Recap and Review

Sometimes, you just feel like this:

Hurr

Like after talking to your ex-husband for any length of time, for example.

Or maybe watching the oxymoron known as MTV.  Well, an oxymoron if you are like me and remember just exactly what the M stood for (hint:  it wasn’t teenagers getting knocked up).

straight outta tp

Or it could be as recently as last night, when you plopped down on the couch, after a long, thrilling day at work in the tax resolution industry (trust me, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds), ready to watch your favorite duo tackle whatever the monster of the week is this week, along with the added humor, a few well-placed Easter eggs and so forth.

Well, when I tuned into The X Files this week, I did not get what I expected.  Instead, the offering was a little different this week.  Not that this is bad, but it was similar to trying a new food, and that food is so new that you have to come up with names for the new flavors that you experienced.  Sometimes, there is no name for those new flavors, and you are just at a loss for words.

So, I got introduced to a new flavor last night.  And I am not sure how to feel about that.  With that being said, here is my recap and review of Babylon, the fifth episode in The X Files renewal.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler

 


Synopsis

The episode begins with a young Muslim man named Shiraz, who lives in Texas, saying a prayer.  The young man eats a snack and leaves his house, heading to an undisclosed location. Shiraz then pulls into a motel parking lot, where he is greeted by other young, Muslim men.  The men then head to an art gallery, and it becomes clear that they are “suicide bombers.”  They are successful in their mission and bomb the art gallery, presumably causing the deaths of themselves and several patrons.

We are then introduced to agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who are discussing some cases of unexplained phenomena in Mulder’s office.  They are interrupted by a visit from special agents Miller and Einstein, who are assigned to investigate the bombing of the art gallery.  Agent Miller wants to speak to Mulder, as Shiraz is now in a vegetative state and near death, and he has heard that Mulder may be able to communicate with the man, due to Mulder’s experience in dealing with the paranormal. Miller and Einstein feel that Shiraz and his friends did not act alone, and may be part of a larger terrorist group. Mulder tells him that he does not, and Miller hands him his business card, telling Mulder to call him if has any leads, while expressing an admiration for Mulder’s work.  Agent Einstein is skeptical, attempting to debunk her partner’s “wild” theories.

While at the airport, Agent Einstein receives a call from Mulder.  Mulder tells her that he thinks that he may have a way to communicate with Shiraz, but does not want to involve Scully, who is still grieving the death of her mother.  It turns out that Mulder wants Einstein to administer him “magic mushrooms.” so that he may try to communicate with Shiraz on a different plane of existence.  Einstein is initially skeptical, but later agrees to the experiment.

In the meantime, Agent Scully contacts Agent Miller, telling him that she also wants to try to communicate with Shiraz.  However, Scully wants to use science to possibly elicit yes/no responses from Shiraz, using an electro-encephalogram.  Scully meets Miller at Shiraz’s hospital room.  She and Miller run into several road-blocks, including a Homeland Security team that tries to take the case from them, and a racist, paranoid nurse who attempts to speed up Shiraz’s death. They are unsuccessful in communicating with Shiraz, but are at least able to protect him from the racist nurse.

Mulder has finally convinced Einstein to administer the “magic mushrooms” and experiences a series of vivid hallucinations, which include encounters with his boss, Walter Skinner, and the deceased Lone Gunmen.  The hallucination concludes with an encounter with Shiraz, who whispers a few words into Mulder’s ear.  However, Mulder does not understand the words, because they are spoken in Arabic.  Mulder awakens at the hospital and is chastised by both Skinner and Einstein.  He also learns that the pills he ingested were not actual hallucinogens, but were placebos instead.

Mulder, Scully, Einstein and Miller re-convene in Shiraz’s hospital room and provide each other with a recap of what has happened so far.  A woman then enters the room and Mulder recognizes her from his hallucination:  she is Shiraz’s mother, and wishes to visit her dying son.

Upon seeing Shiraz’s mother, Mulder then remembers the words that Shiraz uttered to him in his vision.  Miller, who has spent some time in Iraq, is able to translate these words as “Babylon Hotel.”  This turns out to the name of an actual hotel.  The FBI raids this hotel, finding the group of terrorists that Shiraz was a part of, and makes several arrests, preventing another large-scale terrorist act.

At the end of the episode, Agent Einstein has loosened up a bit, and is more willing to entertain the possibility of the paranormal.  Scully visits Mulder at his house, and the two walk hand-in-hand on his property, discussing what religion means to various people, and just what God is, if He even exists.  Mulder looks up at the sky, and hears the sound of trumpets.


My Thoughts

Hurr?

As I said before, I am not sure how to feel about this episode.  Yes, there was good in it (it’s The X Files, how can it not be good?)  But there was also some parts that just baffled me.  I feel like I have a jig saw puzzle, and the finished product should look awesome, but I failed it putting the pieces together correctly, so now it just looks like a jumbled mess…

However, let’s talk about what I did like about this episode, as I actually found a found things to like.  One of those things that I liked was the humor.  This episode had a quite a bit of that, and it was much needed.  For example, Scully’s answer to the knock on the door:  No one here but the FBI’s most unwanted!  And telling Mulder that she was waiting 23 years to say that.  And also telling Mulder that it felt awesome to finally say that…loved it!

And speaking of humor, let’s talk about Mulder in this episode for a minute…

X Files Babylon 5

Mulder is quite the trip (see what I did there), to say the least, and especially in this episode.  And he would appear to have some interesting musical tastes as well.

X Files Babylon 8

I was kind of expecting Mulder to boot, scoot and boogie, actually.  Oh the 90’s, in your ridiculous, mullet haircut, so bad it’s good catchy country music tunes and fashions that were the thing back in the day but now we would not be caught leaving the house in that get-up unless it’s Halloween, right along with your ridiculous country line dancing…oh, those were the days!

Mulder’s niacin induced trip was certainly the high point of the episode.  Really, I may have to pay a visit to my neighborhood dealer er GNC and see if someone can hook me up, although I do have one small request:  Tim McGraw or Garth Brooks, please…nothing wrong with Billy Ray or Trace Adkins, however my tastes in country music tend to be a little less achy breaky and badonkadonk, and more in low places.  And if I can dance half as well as Mulder did, then that will be some good niacin right there!

I also have to give more props:

X Files Babylon 4

Yep, more Easter eggs…one of my favorites of the season, as a matter of fact!

easter eggs 1

Well, we have talked about the good of this episode.  Now let’s get to the ugly, or confusing at the very least.

Now, anyone not living under a rock (and probably those living under a rock too, Wifi is everywhere now, it seems) has heard about the so-called War on Terror.  Yes, terrorism: The Word of Today, much like communism was The Word of Today when my parents were young pups.

Naturally, terrorism and terrorists have made their way into pop culture.  After all, we have shows like The West Wing and Homeland.  And often, we can just turn on the local news, and get our fill of terrorism, in the form of a school shooting or attack on unsuspecting people who were out to enjoy themselves in some public place.  In other words, there is no escaping The Word of Today, either via the news, social media or unfortunately, live and in person.

So of course, The X Files had to say something about this.  Although what was the show trying to say about terrorism?  Was it really trying to say anything about it?  Insert the confusion right here.

At the start of the episode, we have the guy who obviously practices Islam saying a prayer and then heading out.  He gets harassed by the locals and meets up with his friends.  And I was thinking, please don’t be a terrorist, please don’t be a terrorist, please don’t be a terrorist.  Well, those hopes were dashed about 30 seconds later when an art gallery (of all places) is targeted for attack.  In fact, I actually felt like I watching something on Fox News.  That feeling was heightened when the racist nurse tries to kill Shiraz but is deterred by Agent Einstein.  And the look on Agent Einstein’s face when she has to listen to the nurse…yes, most people who do not watch Fox News probably get that look on their faces when they are stuck listening to that nonsense for more than all of five seconds.  So glad Fox network recognizes that fact and was able to bring it to our attention!

I felt that this episode could have made a statement about terrorism (like the Muslims didn’t do it, it was actually the town locals who harassed Shiraz and framed the Muslims, maybe), but really, no statement was made.  We did hear a tired cliche:  basically, the Muslims are at it, and we better thank our lucky stars that we have the heroes in the FBI protecting us (although Mulder and Scully are still my heroes and I love them immensely).  In other words, a bit of lazy storytelling that even The X Files is prone to at times.

And we have Agents Miller and Einstein.

X Files Baylon 3 X Files Babylon 6

So just what am I supposed to do with these guys?  Hope that Mulder and Scully pass the torch on to a new generation?  Be proud of Mulder and Scully for giving birth to such great spiritual children?  Maybe hope for a new TV show called Trading Partners, where FBI agents trade partners for a day and gain great insight about themselves, and maybe end up with an amazing home makeover in the process?  So yeah, insert more confusion right here as well.

X Files Babylon 9

And the ending to this one.  It is interesting, I will give you that.  Again, is the torch being passed on to Miller and Einstein, where they will investigate cases “outside the norm” and earn the ridicule of their colleagues?  Or will they just be assigned to that boring terrorism task force?

And is the ‘ship back?  Mulder and Scully HELD HANDS!  *swoon*  They walked hand in hand across Mulder’s property and had an intimate conversation about religion, the meaning of life and all that jazz.  But Mulder hears trumpets…what does that mean?  Is it just after effects of some especially potent niacin?  Or is something more sinister in store?  Or does it just mean that even the higher powers think the ‘ship is meant to be?

X Files Babylon 2


Well, that’s it for Babylon.  It definitely was not Home Again, or the masterpiece known as Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster, but, for better or for worse, it is now part of the canon.  And a certainly memorable part, at that.  Join me next week for the recap and review of the renewal finale, My Struggle II.

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

batman and robin

 

Kisses in the Dark: My Review of Morality

SK short story

Sometimes, a good story can horrify without any hints of anything remotely supernatural.  After all, man is a wolf to his fellow man (and woman).  Anyone who watches the evening news will realize this almost immediately.

Pennywise 5

And anyone who reads a Stephen King book.  The Master is known for his monsters.  Pennywise the Clown, Randall Flagg, and Tak are all scary, but they are not human.  Henry Bowers, Norman Daniels, Eldred Jonas and Charles Burnside are also scary, but they are not supernatural creatures, but are “human”, at least in appearance.  And often, the “human monsters” make for the more intriguing story line.  When I read a book like It, Pennywise the Clown has the ability to scare me into a change of pants, no doubt.  But that book, along with most other King books, is also filled with intriguing “human monsters”, most of which make a clown living in the sewers seem like small potatoes by comparison.  And that is some good writing right there!

stephen-king-cover-ftr

And once again, in his collection Bazaar of Bad Dreams, King has created a story, Morality, where humans are pitted against their fellow humans, with nary a supernatural creature in sight.  And this story is guaranteed to be as unsettling as King’s tales of clowns that live in sewers.  Perhaps more so.

Here is my recap and review of Morality.


 

Synopsis

The story centers around Chad and Nora, a couple living in New York City.  Chad works as a substitute teacher while he attempts to write his first book.  Nora works as an in-home nurse to a man known as Reverend George Winston, or “Winnie.”  Winnie has suffered stroke and needs constant, round-the-clock care.  Chad and Nora’s financial situation is precarious, as they often struggle to make ends meet and are also seriously in debt to several credit card companies.

Nora has let her employer know of her financial situation, and comes home one night to tell Chad that Winnie has a proposal for her:  Nora will commit an act of transgression, and if she can give evidence to Winnie that this act has been performed, she will receive at least $200,000.  We are not told what the act is, but it is clear that she struggles with the decision, as does Chad.  Winnie tells Nora that no matter what happens, there will be no hard feelings and he will give her an excellent reference.  Winnie also tells Nora that he wishes to commit sin because he has (in his own mind) lived a life of virtue and is curious about what it is like to commit sin.  We also learn that Winnie is extremely rich, as he has inherited wealth from his father.

Nora continues to struggle with decision, as does Chad.  Chad tells Nora that his book may help them out of their financial struggles, but there is no guarantee.  Nora does not like the decision, but decides that she will commit the act of sin for Winnie.  She tells Winnie of this, but is not happy.  Nora worries about the legal implications, but Winnie says that she would likely only receive probation if caught.

Chad obtains a video camera to record evidence of the sin, and Nora dyes her hair so that she will not be caught.  They go to a park in the city, and Chad records Nora committing the sin.  Nora hops into a cab, per their pre-arranged plans, and meets Chad at their apartment once the deed is committed.

We learn that the sin Winnie wanted Nora to commit was to punch as child in the face.  And Nora has committed that sin, which Chad has record of because he has recorded it on the video camera.  Almost immediately, Chad and Nora make love.  Nora demands that Chad hit her in the mouth while they make love, and becomes aroused by the act of violence.

Nora gives the video tape to Winnie, and immediately receives the money from him.  She also immediately resigns from the position, and takes another job as a nurse to a woman in her building.  Chad is also able to cut back on his hours as a substitute teacher, and begins to work on finishing his book.  Nora also receives a visit from a police officer, but it is in regards to an overdue library book, not the incident that was filmed for Winnie.

Chad and Nora’s love life begins to take on a violent twist, as Nora becomes aroused when Chad hits her.  They also prepare to move to Vermont, and are able to purchase a house with the proceeds from the act of sin.  Nora is also unfaithful to Chad, sleeping with the police officer who had paid her the visit in regards to the overdue library book.

The marriage of Chad and Nora begins to dissolve, even after the couple moves to Vermont.  Nora also finds out that Winnie has passed away.  Nora believes that Winnie actually committed suicide, even though the autopsy states that he suffered from kidney failure.  Nora also worries about the video and whether or not she will be incriminated in the act.

Nora also receives a postcard after she and Chad move to Vermont.  The postcard is from Winnie and dated the day before his death.  Chad’s book is published, but Nora mocks him, and Chad punches her in the face.  The couple soon divorce, and Chad returns to New York.  He does not ask Nora for any of her money in the divorce settlement.

The following summer Nora finds a full-time job at the local hospital and takes up gardening as a hobby.  She finds a book titled “The Basis of Morality”, which is a book she had seen in Winnie’s study when she was employed by him.  Nora spends the summer reading the book cover to cover, but finds no new useful information.


Dear Sai King,

What the actual fuck?  What the fucking fuck?

Morality has to be one of the most fucked up pieces of writing I have ever read.  And I have been reading you for over 25 years now!

Keep up the good fucking work, sir!

Sincerely,

Your (delighted) Constant Reader .

ermahgerd 1

Seriously, I just do not have words for this story…

Again, this story got to me, and there were no supernatural elements at all.

Stephen King's Pet Sematary (1985)

First of all, I identified with Chad and Nora.  I have said it before, and I will say it again:  Stephen King is a master at including elements of reality in all of his stories, both supernatural and “real.”  Chad and Nora’s situation is something I identify with.  I have lost my job, my husband has lost his job, and yet we still had bills to pay.  When money gets tight, things get scary really quickly.  Almost as scary as a Stephen King book…

Another thing about this story.  The bad guys…

As in, I really don’t think there was one.  I can’t call Nora and Chad “bad”.  Sure, they engaged in doing something that was pretty bad (slapping a kid is not cool, even if it’s one of Bebe’s offspring), but they didn’t kill anybody.  I would not say there were any lasting effects on the victim.  The ones who were actually hurt the most (other than the kid and his mom), were actually Chad and Nora.  After that incident, their lives took a downward turn and they did NOT get a happy ending (in typical King fashion).

And I don’t even think that I can call Winnie a bad guy either.  It appeared that he had spent much of life his life trying to do good deeds. He used his money for humanitarian causes as well.  I think that he was perhaps a bit jaded, or maybe even a bit naive, but he did not strike me as “bad”, either.  And it appeared that he suffered after the incident as well, as he committed suicide.

As stated before, this story did not have a happy ending.  But I still thought that the ending was great.  It was realistic ending.  Pretty much everything I expected happened:  Nora got the money, she and Chad moved and she and Chad divorced.  So it was a little predictable, but I enjoyed it.  I was also not surprised that Nora developed the odd “fetish” that she did.  Again, I enjoy the realism in King’s stories, and this one delivered on that front.

I also liked that Nora read a book that had actually been a part of Winnie’s collection on the subject of morality, but was not able to find any satisfying answers in it.  After all, is life ever really that simple?  Like Nora, even if you can write a book on a particular subject, does that really mean that the book will contain all the answers that you seek?  But reality is never that cut and dried anyway, as much as we wish it was.

 

 

 

Kisses In The Dark: My Review of Afterlife

SK short story

 

This is a place where eternally
Fire is applied to the body
Teeth are extruded and bones are ground
And baked into cakes which are passed around

Hell, Squirrel Nut Zippers

Naturally, humankind is curious about death.  After all, it is the final frontier.  And it is one that we may never fully conquer.  After all, we can return from outer space with our observations.  Death, not so much.

And death is something that is of much interest to Stephen King.  For one thing, he is a horror writer, and it’s pretty hard to write a horror story without at least one death (and perhaps someone becoming Undead, a ghost or something else unsettling, but I digress).

Cleaner 3

The Master is not young either (although he is still young at heart, I am sure.  Killing off beloved main characters strengthens the soul, I hear).  King has also had his near brushes with death, in his battle with addiction, and also his near deadly vehicle several years ago.  In other words, death is no stranger to my favorite writer.

And this has become evident in King’s works, especially the later ones.  Death has been explored in previous works, such as that nasty piece of work otherwise known as Pet Sematary.  However, as King ages, he seems to almost explore the topic with a vengeance in novels such as Dr. Sleep and Revival, both of which discuss death, but contain strikingly different views on the subject.

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Now, we have the short story “Afterlife“, from the collection Bazaar of Bad Dreams.  And it is just one more interesting take on the final frontier of death.

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So here is my recap and review of this little gem, “Afterlife.”


 

Synopsis

Afterlife centers around a man named Bill Andrews.  Bill is a middle aged man dying of colon cancer.  As Bill crosses over from life to death, he sees a bright white light, and assumes that he is headed to the afterlife.

However, Bill does not end up in the traditional Heaven or Hell.  Bill ends up in a hallway, and his body appears to be in perfect health, with no signs of the cancer that killed him.  Bill also sees photographs of various, familiar people from the year of 1956, the year he was born.  These people range from old girlfriends to neighbors, and one of the people is Ronald Reagan.

Bill sees a door with the name of Isaac Harris on it, and walks through the door.  He meets a man wearing baggy, high-waisted pants held up by suspenders.  According to the calendar on the wall, the year is 1911.

Bill introduces himself to the man, who tells Bill that he has been there before.  Bill asks if he is really dead, and if he is being reincarnated.  Mr. Harris tells him that he is not, and that Bill has asked this question before.

Harris refreshes himself on Bill’s background, reminding Bill that he was investment banker in life with a wife and two children.  Harris says that he means to get organized, but no one has sent him any help.  He also tells Bill that he receives all of his communications via a tube that runs on compressed air.  Harris gives some information on his background to Bill: in life, he owned a shirtwaist factory that caught on fire.  Harris and his partner were responsible for the deaths of 146 women, as they trapped the women in the factory while it was on fire, in order to punish them for various transgressions.  Harris and his partner were tried for manslaughter and acquitted.  Harris tells Bill how sorry he is for the deaths, but Bill tells him he needs to take responsibility for his actions.

Bill then asks Harris what his options are.  Harris tells him that if he leaves through the left door, he gets live his life over again.  If Bill leaves through the right door, he winks out of existence.  Bill contemplates his options, wondering if he could change aspects of life, such as an accident that hurt his brother and a questionable night with a drunk girl in a fraternity house.  He also wonders if he can beat his cancer, by requesting a colonoscopy earlier and perhaps prolonging his life.

Harris tells Bill that there are no second chances.  If he chooses the door on the left, he will be reborn with no memories, and his life will play out in the same manner as it has many, many times before, even though he may be struck with a sense of deja vu, as he has actually experienced these events before.  Harris recommends that Bill take the door on the right and save himself the trouble.  Bill wonders what the point of living life is, when there is no possibility of improvement, but receives no answer.  Harris tells Bill that all human souls are born knowing the secrets of the universe, but that upon birth, an angel touches the baby’s philtrum, taking away that knowledge.

Bill chooses the door on the left, vowing that he will hold on to at least one piece of knowledge so that his life will be different this time.  He is then re-born as a baby to a mother who thinks that he is not just a new life, but a universe of possibilities.


 

My Thoughts

So.

Wow…

Again, you got to me, Uncle Stevie.  So, again, good job!

I have mentioned that I have rainbow days sometimes, where I laugh and cry on the same day.

Well, “Afterlife” is a rainbow short story.  On one hand, I rejoiced.  We are not winked out of existence if we don’t want to be!

But, like Bill, I wondered what the point was, if it was just going to turn out the same as it did the time before that (and before that, and before that…well you get the picture).  So then I wanted to cry.  But it’s ok, I like rainbows!

And again, Uncle Stevie’s sense of humor came through on this story.  I was amused by it.  I was amused by the fact that Isaac Harris kept getting Bill’s name wrong, kind of like the people you may see at your company Christmas party that you have to make nice with, even though you don’t really interact with them very much, and they see so many people that they can’t keep the name straight either.  I was amused by the fact that purgatory seems to be in a nondescript office building, where I am sure the temperature is either as hot as the pits of Mordor, or sub Arctic.  After all, we are talking about purgatory here.

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Oh, I would be remiss to say I was not amused by the picture of Ronald Reagan on the wall.  Although I thought we were talking about purgatory, not Hell, Sai King!

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I did find certain concepts of this story fascinating.  To me, this story said that we choose our own fates, because we choose to be re-born, even though we have no memory of our previous cycle.  Humans are futile, yet hopeful creatures in that regard.

I also find it fascinating that we make the same mistakes over and over again, but yet we are powerless to stop, as we choose to be reborn.  So I keep marrying my ex husband over and over again…what a horrific thought, I am sure it would be make a good Stephen King book or something!  But then again, reliving the good moments is not a bad thing.  Not a bad thing at all.  To think, I have met my current husband countless times and kissed him for the first time countless times…what a sweet thought!

Of course, my mind went here after I read this story:

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Which makes sense, if you think about it.

Like this guy, we are all doomed to repeat our quest, over and over again.  We will never see any redemption.  If we don’t forget the Horn on this trip, we will forget something else.  No matter how small the detail that we forgot this time, nothing will ever make difference.  But like Roland, we never give up hope, and we vow to ourselves that this time it will be different, and we will do the impossible: achieve redemption.

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