The Mist: Episode 1 Recap and Review

First dates.

Aren’t they so grand?

Having to make small talk, and having to somewhat hide your “true self,” at least for…oh say…30 minutes of the date…

You know, like your obsession with a certain famous author, known in some circles as The Master

Well, the above describes how my first date with my now husband went.

It was a little awkward, having to make small talk.

And I did succeed in hiding my obsession with Stephen King for approximately 30 minutes (I think am being a little generous probably, but my memory eludes me on how quickly that topic came up.)

I am lucky girl, I have been married for nearly nine years to my understanding, awesome husband.  No more first date awkwardness.

I can be without my makeup and covered in dog hair and it’s okay.

Oh, and I no longer have to hide my Stephen King obsession.  In fact, he enables it…yay me!

However, I did have a first date of sorts this weekend…

No, I didn’t hang out with Raylan Givens or Jax Teller.  Or Aragorn.

I confess to spending a lot of time with my fictional boyfriends (my marriage is open like that) but that was not the case this weekend.

However, the subject of Stephen King did come up.

In fact, you could say that The Master was the subject of the date…gasp!

In other words, I watched the series pilot of the show The Mist.

And it was a little awkward.

A little uncomfortable at times.

Things felt a little forced and unnatural.

But, I still had fun, so it was not all bad.  Far from it, in fact.

And the pilot tried, it really did.  I see enough potential in it that I am willing to go out on another date, just to see where things go.

After all, without first dates, there would never be second dates.  Or third dates…

Or nine years and counting marriages…

Yeah, you get the point.

So, without further ado…

Let us review and dissect the pilot episode of The Mist.

And, as always:

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The Great Race: My Review of The Running Man

Lately, the world has been a bit topsy-turvy.

Maybe I am looking at it through a looking glass

Or did Barry Allen make an ill-advised trip, and travel back in time, so now that we have a paradox on our hands, so to speak?

(Not to be confused with our beloved Earth 2, where science accelerates at a rapid rate, and villains are the mayors of cities and heroes are well…kinda douchebags, actually.)

Maybe I traveled into an alternate reality, where Superman is the adopted son of undocumented migrant workers, and has a really, really close relationship with Zod, and Batman is literally backwards, and kind of sucks…

Well, actually no.

Not that I am knocking on any of the above, and wouldn’t be open to a little possible experimentation…

Although I could argue that Barry Allen and his ill-advised time travel has had some kind of effect on my reality…

After all, the Cubs are World Series champions!

And we may not have Leonard Snart as mayor, but hey, we have a Cheeto for president! So maybe that time travel did do something!

Now, if only it had won me the lottery…

Or at least given me cool super powers!

Okay, back on topic…

I have actually traveled to alternate reality, even though that trip to Earth 2 is still on my bucket list.

In other words, I have read a book written by that Bachman fella…

Well, I am really not sure if those guys are one in the same, even if that whole story about death from cancer of the pseudonym is slightly suspicious…

Hey, you never know.  If young boys and and middle-aged priests can “die” in one world, and be re-born into another (cooler) world, maybe writers can be stricken with cancer of the pseudonym, and end up being re-born on the Sons of Anarchy level of the Tower, where the writer in question takes a grisly sort of janitorial type of job, collecting macabre souvenirs as a form of payment…

Okay, again back on topic.

So, I read a Stephen King book.

Yeah, water is wet, the sun rises in the east, and Cheetos make terrible leaders of the free world…

So what else is new?

Well, this book is actually new, at least somewhat.

As most of us probably know, early in his career, The King of Horror decided that he would like to write non-horror stories, every now and again.

While King has actually written some fantastic books that can be classified as not horror (The Talisman, 11/22/63, Different Seasons and The Eyes of the Dragon all readily come to mind), early on his career, he was bound by some silly rules about how many books he could publish in a year.

Somebody thought that there was such a thing as too many Stephen King books!  And they thought I was the crazy one!

So King did what any sensible King of Horror would do.  He created a pseudonym.

As far as I know, this pseudonym did not come to life and murder people, forcing a flock of birds to be called, so they could carry him off, kicking and screaming.

(However, if he is employed by the friendly folks known as SAMCRO, all bets are off, as you gotta do what you gotta do to survive over there in the charming town of Charming, California.)

King named this pseudonym Richard Bachman.  And for a while, that Bachman fella did pretty well for himself.

He wasn’t a horror writer, per se.  No, Bachman explored the darkness of human nature.  Man’s inhumanity to man, in other words.

He wrote of violence at school, corporate greed and of a dystopian government, that might actually not be fiction at this point.

And Bachman also wrote of our obsession with television, and our need to be constantly entertained, even at the expense of the feelings (and maybe even lives) of our fellow man.

In other words, I am currently reading The Running Man.

Dicky Bachman has come out to play.

So let’s indulge him, as we read and dissect The Running Man.

And, as always:

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It’s All a Wheel: My Review of Doctor Sleep

Sometimes, you just need a break from the horror of it all…

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)

 

Yes, it’s that season again…

No, not Halloween.  Something far more frightening…

In other words, the 2016 Presidential Election is upon us.

You know, that time of year when admitting you are from ‘Murica is…well…probably something you want to gloss over, and talk about something a little less awkward, such as…well, anything really.

Like books.

Like books that are horror stories.

Like books that are horror stories written by…

Simpsons SK

I’ll take Stephen King for $19, Alex!

Yep, you guessed it.  And if you didn’t, well remember which blog this is next time, maybe you will have better luck!

So, I needed an escape.  Something to help me cope with the daily horror that manifests itself as a talking Cheeto.

And what better way to do that than to read a Stephen King book?

That will calm me right down, I think.

After all, reading about people with PSI abilities and weird cults that kidnap kids with PSI abilities is good for the nerves, right?

In other words, I chose the book Doctor Sleep for this month’s read and review.

Hmmm, I wonder if I can write in Rose the Hat to make America…ummm…steamy again?

Um, yeah…

But Doctor Sleep is one of my favorite King books.  It is a follow up book to The Shining, which I consider to be the gold standard for King (hey, even The Master needs goals to live up to, right?)

Like most of King’s work, Doctor Sleep is much more than “just” (haha, right) a follow to an iconic horror story which turned the horror genre and even popular culture on its head (redrum, anyone?)

It is a book that has a lot to say about addiction, overcoming childhood trauma and how family can be a huge downfall, or our greatest hope.

And it also doesn’t hurt that the book has a pretty kick ass female character, if I do say so myself (no bias here at all, really.)

So, with all that being said, here is my recap and review of Doctor Sleep.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

Doctor Sleep begins where the novel The Shining ended.  Danny Torrance has survived the horrific events that occurred at The Overlook Hotel, and has moved to the southern United States with his mother, Wendy.

However, Danny is still troubled by the spirits that haunted him during his stay at The Overlook Hotel.  One night, when he awakens to use the bathroom, he encounters the ghost of Mrs. Massey, the woman who died in room 217 of The Overlook Hotel.

After Danny encounters the spirit of Mrs. Massey, he regresses and refuses to get out of bed or eat.  His mother even sees evidence of the spirit in the bathroom, and becomes worried and frightened for Danny.

Wendy is unable to comfort Danny, so she contacts Dick Hallorann, the only other person who survived the events that occurred at The Overlook Hotel.  Dick agrees to talk to Danny, to see if he can help Danny.

Dick arrives at the Torrance home, and speaks to Danny.  He tells Danny the story of his sexually abusive grandfather.  After Dick’s grandfather passed away, Dick was still haunted by the old man’s ghost.  Dick’s grandmother, who also possessed the same PSI abilities that Dick possessed, taught him to keep the spirit of the old man at bay, so that he was no longer haunted by the ghost.

Dick then tells Danny that his memories of the hotel are actually causing the spirits to manifest themselves.  He gives Danny a keepsake box, and tells Danny to make a keepsake box in his mind, to trap the ghosts so they do not continue to bother him.  Danny follows Dick’s instructions, and finds that they are effective.

They story then switches to the perspective of a woman named Andi.  Andi was molested by her father as a little girl, until she attacked and killed him in self defense.  Andi convinces men to take her to the movies.  The men try to have sex with Andi, but Andi has the ability to hypnotize people and send them into a deep sleep.  Andy hypnotizes the men, and then robs them of their cash and any valuables.

One day, Andi catches the eye of a group of people who also possess unusual abilities.  This group of people seems almost immortal, even though they appear to be normal on the outside.  They are led by a woman named Rose, who is also known as Rose the Hat, due to her tendency to wear a top hat.

Rose the Hat and her friends confront, and coerce her into joining them, telling Andi that once she survives what they call “the turning,” that she may also become immortal, and join them in their travels across the country.

Andi reluctantly agrees to attempt the ritual.  Somehow, she survives, and becomes a part of the group.  The group calls itself The True Knot.

The book then introduces the reader again to Danny, now an adult in his early twenties.  Danny has become an alcoholic who also experiments with drugs.  Danny has a tendency to also get into fights while he is drinking, as he is unable to control his temper.

One morning, Danny finds himself in the apartment of a strange woman.  He slowly pieces together the events of the night before, and realizes that his drinking has possibly gotten him into trouble, once again.

Danny realizes that the woman has a child by the name of Tommy.  Tommy is about 18 months old and has been left in the apartment while the woman went out drinking with Danny.  The woman, whose name is Deenie, is also addicted to cocaine, and convinced Danny to buy some for her.  The little boy tries to grab the cocaine, calling it candy, but Danny puts him in bed with his mother, and leaves the apartment.

Danny leaves town, and heads for the northeastern United States.  He continues to drink, and periodically thinks of Tommy, feeling some guilt for leaving him in those surroundings.

Over the years, Danny drifts across the country.  He continues to drink, and works in nursing homes when he can find work.  However, due to his alcoholism, he does not stay in any one place for very long.

One day, Danny arrives in a town called Frazier, in New Hampshire.  For some reason the town catches his eyes.  Danny also sees his childhood friend Tony for the first time in many years, and Tony also compels him to stay in Frazier.

Danny meets a man name Billy Freeman, and the two hit it off immediately.  Danny is then able to secure short-term employment as a sort of maintenance man, and contemplates applying for work at the local hospice.

One night, Danny dreams of Deenie, the woman he met a years ago at a bar.  Deenie appears to be dead, and warns him to stay away from the woman in the hat.  When he awakens, Danny finds her son Tommy in his bed, dead but asking for candy.  When he awakens again, Danny realizes that Tommy has died, most likely due to abuse and possibly neglect.

The next morning, Danny craves a drink, but does not give in to the craving.  Danny goes about his day, forgetting the dreams that he had the night before.  However, Danny again experiences troubling dreams later that night.  Danny again struggles with the urge to drink, but Billy Freeman finds him, and tells him that he has other options.

Danny begins to attend Alcoholics Anonymous and finds a sponsor.  Danny quits drinking and finds steady employment, making a life for himself.

In the meantime, a child named Abra Stone is born to a couple by the name of David and Lucy Stone.  Almost right away, Abra’s parents and great-grandmother (Conchetta) notice that Abra is unusual.  For example, Abra’s parents, when Abra is still an infant, have a dream of Abra covered in blood and holding a sign with numbers in the dream.  The next morning, Abra is taken to the hospital because she will not stop crying.  There is no medical reason found for Abra’s behavior.  However, this incident takes place on the morning of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.  The numbers seen by Abra’s parents in their dreams were the flight numbers of the planes that were attacked.

One day, Danny speaks to one of the members of his Alcoholics Anonymous group.  The man is John Dalton, who is also a pediatrician.  John has lost a watch that was gift from his wife and is upset.  Danny is able to use his “shining” ability to tell John that he left the watch in restroom at work.  John is able to find the watch the next day, and is grateful for Danny’s help.

John Dalton also happens to be Abra Stone’s pediatrician.  At the request of Abra’s parents, John attends Abra’s third birthday party, so that he can observe her in her home for any unusual occurrences.

Shortly before Abra’s third birthday party, Danny receives a message written on the blackboard of the room he rents.  The message simply says “Hello.”  Danny has been receiving some telepathic communications, and conjectures that the message is from Abra.

At the birthday party, John Dalton gets his wish: he observes some unusual occurrences that can only be attributed to Abra.  Abra’s doctor, parents and great grandmother find various utensils hanging from the ceiling by their own accord.  When this is pointed out to Abra, the utensils drop to the ground, seemingly proving that she is responsible for the occurrence.

The Stone family speaks to Dr. Dalton, who tells them that Abra is likely blessed (or maybe cursed) with PSI abilities, but that they need to love her and continue to raise her as a normal child.

The years pass, and one night Danny receives at phone call.  He is informed that one of patients in the hospice that he works at is getting ready to pass away.  The woman making the phone call knows that the patient is getting ready to die because the cat that was adopted by the hospice, Azriel (or Azzie) has made an appearance in his room.  Azzie is able to detect when death is near, and therefore alerts the staff and Danny.  Danny is called in because he is able to use his abilities to make the transition from life to death a little less frightening for the patients.

After Danny helps the latest patient pass peacefully over to the other side, he senses a presence in the room that he believes to be Abra.  In her bed at her home, Abra also senses Danny’s presence.

In the meantime, The True Knot runs into trouble, as they are running low on the essence of psychic children, which is what keeps them immortal.  They find a young boy in a small town, and partake of his essence, which helps them, at least temporarily.

Abra, who is now 10 years old, dreams of The True Knot kidnapping and torturing the young boy.  She describes the dream to her mother, who is disturbed.  Abra also talks about her friend “Tony,” along with Tony’s dad (aka Danny), telling her mother that Danny works in a hospice and is assisted by cat named Azzie.

The True Knot then realize that Abra can sense them, and that Abra is a powerful psychic.  They realize that Abra will provide them with plenty of essence, which will keep them alive for years to come, but that they must wait for her abilities to mature in order to get the full benefit.

Again, Danny senses Abra’s presence in his apartment.  This time, he sends her a message.  Abra receives this and tells her mother that Tony’s dad spoke to her.  Lucy is a little troubled, but decides to let it go, as Abra seems happy.

Shortly after sending the message to Abra, Danny sees his friend Billy Freeman.  Immediately, Danny senses that something is horribly wrong with Billy and convinces him to see a doctor.  Danny’s intuitions were correct, as Billy is suffering from an aneurysm that would have killed him, if left untreated.  Billy is grateful from Danny’s help, but Danny reminds Billy that it was he who helped him many years ago, when he arrived in Frazier.

Later that evening, Danny is overcome by the urge to drink.  He calls his friend John Dalton, and the urge passes.  When Danny arrives at his home, he finds a message on his chalkboard from Abra, but does not hear from Abra for another two years.

Two years later, Abra’s great grandmother, Conchetta, suffers a broken hip.  Conchetta is also diagnosed with cancer, and is given only months to live.  This causes Abra and her family to shuffle back and forth between their residence in Frazier, and the hospital in Boston, where Conchetta is staying.

One day, Abra comes home and picks up the mail.  She finds a circular with pictures of missing children, and realizes that one of the pictures is of the boy she dreamed about two years earlier.  This frightens Abra, and she struggles on whether or not to take any action.

Abra’s abilities then allow her to project herself into the mind of Rose the Hat.  However, this connection is brief, as Rose resists her presence, forcing Abra back to her surroundings.

Rose discusses Abra with the fellow members of The True Knot, and tells them that they must capture Abra, as she could provide them with eternal life.  Rose schemes on how to capture Abra, and plans to use drugs to subdue her.  Rose also makes an appearance at Abra’s window, frightening Abra, and causing her to call out to Tony for help.

Danny receives Abra’s psychic beacon, and the signal is so powerful that it renders him momentarily unconscious.  When Danny arrives at his home, he finds Abra’s email address written on his chalkboard.  Danny sends Abra an email, and makes arrangements to meet with her, so that he can find out what is wrong.

Abra and Danny finally meet outside the town library, and Abra tells Danny what has been happening with Rose the Hat, and what The True Knot did to the young boy.  Danny tells Abra to be careful, as Rose the Hat will be looking for her, and that he will be back in touch.

That night, a patient at the hospice where Danny is employed passes away.  Before she dies, the woman tells him to wait, and Danny obliges her.

After a few minutes, the dead woman begins to talk.  Danny realizes that he is actually speaking to his childhood friend Dick Hallorann, who has been dead for several years.  Hallorann gives Danny information in regards to The True Knot, but it is cryptic.  Hallorann tells Danny to refer to his childhood, and that the members of The True Knot will need to eat their own poison.  The ghost also tells Danny to talk his friends who understand what he really is.  After dispersing the information, the ghost leaves the body of the old woman, and Danny must figure out how to keep Abra safe.

Danny speaks to his friends Billy and John, and tells them what is happening to Abra.  John agrees to travel with Danny to Iowa, so that they can find the baseball mitt of the missing boy and confirm Abra’s story.

Things go from bad to worse with The True Knot, as it is discovered that one of their members, known as Grampa Flick, appears to be dying.  Rose does not understand how this is happening, and demands that the group’s “physician,” attempt to examine him.

Rose also tries to enter the mind of Abra.  However, Abra is prepared, and is able to resist Rose, even causing her physical pain.  This angers Rose, who realizes that Abra will be difficult to subdue, and will need to be drugged.

Danny travels to Iowa with John.  During the trip, Danny also tells John of the winter he spent at the Overlook Hotel and the traumatic experiences he endured.  John is skeptical, but becomes less so when he and Danny are able to locate the body of this missing boy and his baseball glove, per Abra’s instructions.  They return to New Hampshire with the baseball glove, in the hopes that Abra will be able to use the baseball glove to obtain more information in regards to The True Knot.

The True is able to narrow down Abra’s identity, and begins to close in on her.  Grampa Flick has died, and the cause of his death is discovered:  he has somehow contracted measles.  This is likely due to ingesting the essence of the young boy, who may have contracted the disease before his death.  Several other members of the group also become ill with measles.  This raises the stakes for the group, as they believe that ingesting Abra’s essence may provide some sort of immunity against the disease.

Danny and John return from Iowa.  Danny informs Abra that her parents need to be informed about what has been going on.  Danny and John arrive at Abra’s house and are greeted by her father, Dave.  Dave is not happy, but hears the story out.  Danny and John then give Abra the baseball glove, to find out if she can obtain any information from it.

After Abra touches the baseball glove, she obtains some information in regards to The True Knot.  The most important piece of information is the location of their base of operations.  Not surprisingly, The True Knot’s base of operations is located in Sidewinder, Colorado, on the grounds that once housed The Overlook Hotel.  Danny, John and Abra then come up with a plan to try to stop The True Knot before they are able to kidnap Abra.

The next day, Danny, John and Dave picnic at one of the town’s tourist attractions.  Abra astral projects herself info Danny, so that The True Knot will believe she is on a picnic with her father, instead of at school or at a friend’s house.  Abra’s father tells some family stories during this outing.  One of these stories is in regards to Lucy’s mother, or Abra’s grandmother.  Lucy was conceived out of wedlock, and her father’s identity was unknown.  Lucy’s mother died when Lucy was an infant, and Lucy was raised by her grandmother, Conchetta.

Later that evening, Abra stays at a friend’s house.  However, she decides that she is safe from The True Knot, as she believes they have fallen into the trap that Danny set for them.  Abra then decides to head home.

Several members of The True Knot arrive at the picnic grounds.  Danny, John and Dave are prepared, and shoot them.  However, one member, known as Crow Daddy, manages to escape the gunfight, and heads straight for Abra.

Crow Daddy finds Billy Freeman and overpowers Billy.  Crow Daddy then kidnaps Abra, using powerful drugs to sedate her.  When Abra awakens, Crow Daddy threatens Billy’s life, telling Abra that he will be killed unless she obeys him.

Danny, John and Dave quickly realize that Abra has been kidnapped, after Danny loses his telepathic connection to her.  However, Danny has a revelation, when he understands more of what the ghost of Dick Hallorann was trying to tell him.

Danny then astral projects himself into Abra’s body.  By doing this, he is able to fight Crow Daddy, and Crow Daddy is killed.  Danny then has Billy drive to a nearby hotel, so that he and Abra can get some rest before returning Abra to her parents.

The group then heads to the hospital, where Conchetta is living out her last days.  They tell Lucy what happened, and Lucy panics.  However, Dave is able to calm her down, reminding her that Danny is there to help.

Danny visits with Conchetta, who is dying.  He offers some words of comfort, and the two also exchange something else that is not specified.

After the visit with Conchetta, Danny speaks to Lucy and Dave.  He tells them that he has realized that he is actually Lucy’s half-brother and Abra’s uncle, due to an affair his father Jack had with one of his students.  After getting a good look at Danny, Lucy understands that he is telling the truth, even though she is still very worried about her daughter.

In the meantime, Rose the Hat and the rest of The True Knot make plans to locate Abra and kidnap her again.  The situation becomes more urgent, as more of the members either begin to sicken or die, or leave the group.

At the request of Danny, Abra places a call to Rose the Hat and taunts her.  Abra also requests to meet Rose in person, at her home base in Sidewinder, CO.  This riles up Rose even more, and she agrees to meet with Abra, telling her that she will seek revenge for the death of her friends.

The next day, Abra is reunited with her parents.  Abra and her family return to New Hampshire, while Danny heads to Colorado with Billy to confront Rose the Hat and the rest of The True Knot.  Danny feels ill during the trip, but he is determined to stop The True Knot.

Once again, Abra phones Rose the Hat, taunting her, and setting up a meeting time at the home base in Sidewinder.  She is able to astral project himself into Danny’s mind, tricking Rose into thinking that she is in Colorado, instead of in her home in New Hampshire.

Billy and Danny arrive at the site of where The Overlook Hotel used to stand.  The site is now a campground.  Abra is also with them, but in spirit, as she has used her talent for astral projection to trick The True Knot.

Danny is confronted by Rose the Hat and the remaining members of The True Knot almost immediately.  However, Danny is prepared and attacks them.  For the past few days, Danny has been carrying the essence of Abra’s great-grandmother.  He unleashes this essence upon The True Knot.  Since the old woman had been dying of cancer, the members of The True Knot are sickened almost immediately when they inhale her essence.

Rose then tricks Danny into thinking that Abra is Rose, and Danny begins to choke Abra.  He realizes his mistake, and vows not to repeat the mistakes of his father.  He and Abra then return to the corporeal world, promising to win the fight against Rose.

Ghosts are literally unleashed from Danny’s mind, as he unlocks his memories of his stay at The Overlook Hotel.  The remaining members of The True Knot are also attacked, leaving Danny the resources to focus on Rose the Hat.

Rose the Hat is then pushed from the balcony, and killed.  Danny sets fire to Rose’s top hat, destroying it.  As Danny and Billy leave the campground, Danny catches a glimpse of the ghost of his father, Jack.  Danny leaves the campground, bidding his father goodbye.

Two years later, Danny attends an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and celebrates the fact that he is 15 years sober.  Danny also confesses what happened at Deenie’s apartment all those years ago, and what happened with her son, Tommy.  His fellow addicts are not surprised, and are almost indifferent to his story.  However, Danny feels redeemed, and knows he is on the true path to recovery.

A few days later, Danny attends a birthday party for Abra.  At the request of Abra’s parents, Danny speaks to Abra alone.  It turns out that Abra has attended a party and had her first sip of alcohol.  Later, she got into an argument with her mother and broke several plates in a fit of rage.

Danny tells Abra of his own grandfather and father, and how alcohol ruined their lives.  Danny also talks of his own struggles with his alcohol and his temper.  Danny reminds Abra that she must control her own temper, so that she can stay out of trouble and not go down the path that he walked.  Danny then receives a phone call from his employer in regards to a dying patient, and cuts the evening short.

The dying patient is a man named Fred Carling.  Fred had previously been employed by the hospice where Danny is currently employed.  Fred was also a bully and disliked by many of the other employees, including Danny.  That night, Fred was the victim of a terrible car accident, and it has become clear that he will not live.

However, Danny puts his feelings aside, and visits Fred.  Danny realizes that life is truly a wheel, and brings the man comfort as he dies and passes to the other side.


My Thoughts

Doctor Sleep.  The book with so much beauty.

And I am not just saying that because Danny apparently resembles my man Jax Teller, either!

SONS OF ANARCHY: 203: L-R: Charie Hunnam and Maggie Siff on SONS OF ANARCHY airing Tuesday, Sept. 22'rd, 10 pm e/p on FX. CR: Prashant Gupta / FX

(Although, really, that doesn’t hurt.  Doesn’t hurt in the slightest.)

Cleaner 3

Doctor Sleep is billed as a sequel to The Shining.  And in a way, it is (more on that later.)

But to think of it Doctor Sleep as only as a sequel to The Shining (which is one of my favorite King books ever and likely my favorite ghost story ever) is limiting.

For one, I don’t think of this book as a direct sequel to The Shining.  I find it better to think of it as a follow up.

Sure, we have some of the same themes, which include addiction, life after death and people who don’t quite fit the fold.

However, I find Doctor Sleep to actually be pretty different from The Shining.  And this is a good thing, as anyone who has ever heard my rant about sequels will tell you.

Let’s admit it: sequels sucks!  Carrie 2 anyone?  Or how about Pet Sematary 2?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

But, you have Phantasm 2, which expands on the original story.  And the Star Wars movies, which build on the first movie to make a complete story, and stand on their own as well.

phantasm-2-8

And now we have Doctor Sleep.  It also builds on the original story of Danny Torrance, and is a stand alone book.  This is a good thing, as we are staying out of the ridiculous sequel territory, which seems to plague the horror genre in particular.

However, I can’t help comparing and contrasting both books.  So, let’s get it out of our system…

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The Shining is one of the most frightening books ever written.  The ghost of Mrs. Massey.  The clocks with blood in them (still thinking about that weeks after the fact, thanks Stephen King!  And let me thank Obama for good measure!)

Now, Doctor Sleep does have its scary moments.  Dick Hallorann’s story about his grandfather and the old pedophile’s ghost (yeah, there I said it) is great nightmare material.  And of course, the resurgence of Mrs. Massey (and her “leavings”.  If that didn’t make you want to throw up in your mouth, then you are not human) and Horace Dewent added some creepiness as well.

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(Oh, and that top hat.  Is there anything creepier than a top hat drifting in the wind?  I mean besides a red baseball cap worn by a loudmouth, racist Cheeto?)

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But, due to the tone and the messages, I consider Doctor Sleep to be more dark fantasy than horror.  In fact, with the children in danger and the seemingly oblivious adults, Doctor Sleep is closer to The Talisman, or even The Eyes of the Dragon, than anything else.

Even the “villains” in Doctor Sleep (Rose the Hat, Barry the Chink, Diesel Doug, etc) remind me more of villains in a children’s fantasy novel than anything.  Not that there is anything wrong with this.  In fact, given what King was trying to accomplish (again, more on that later), I actually think that this works very well.

In fact, Abra herself reminds me of someone in a young adult novel.  Katnis Everdeen, perhaps?  Or maybe Pippi Longstocking?

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Abra is what I wished I was when I was her age:  courageous, confident, smart and just kicks ass overall.  In fact, she may be a little overconfident (and loves Game of Thrones, woot), but I don’t care.  I loved how she was willing to take on Rose the Hat, taking pleasure in the fact that she hurt Rose.  Talk about taking names and kicking ass!

However, this is a King book.  So there is much more to Abra than meets the eye.  The scene at the end, when Danny tells the stories of his father and grandfather, and Abra’s reaction, is proof of that.  Like Danny, Abra is flawed.  And will probably struggle with alcoholism.  But like Danny, she has hope.  And she will (hopefully) rise above her struggles and do good in the world.  And that is just one thing that makes her one of King’s best female characters to date.  Maybe, if we are lucky, we will one day get a story on grown-up Abra too.

Okay, time to talk about the elephant in the room…

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Well, actually not really.  Or at least a very cute elephant?

That’s right, I am talking about Danny Torrance, all growed up!

In case you can’t tell, Danny is one of my book boos.  I may be happily married, but I think there is a clause in my wedding vows that allows for book and TV boos.  So, relax, I am legal, folks!

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Like King, I would wonder about Danny off and on.  How did he fare after escaping The Overlook?  What kind of man did he grow up to be?  Did he have kids?  God forbid, did he follow in his father’s footsteps?

Not well, awesome, no, and yes and no would be the answers to the above.

And, in all seriousness, what did we expect?

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Cynical, I know.  I was actually reminded of the essay Lime Twigs and Treachery, written by Henry Miller.  I read this waaayyyy back in high school (over 20 years for you nosy folks) and it has always stuck with me.

I had actually forgotten about that essay.  Then I read Doctor Sleep.  And remembered it again.

The basic gist of that essay was that the sins of the father get passed down to the children.  And that we will never be able to escape those sins, which may include abuse.  And alcoholism.  And addiction.

And that is exactly what happened to Danny:  the sins of the father were passed down right to him.  On a silver platter, in fact.

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And what did we expect to happen?

Danny lived through the experience at The Overlook, yes.  But he lost his father, who he loved very much, despite of (or maybe because of) his faults.

He was forced to grow up, and quickly.  He learned some lessons that many people I know in their 30’s still have not learned.

His family unit dissolved.  His mother never fully recovered, either physically or emotionally, as she never remarried.

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So is it any surprise that Danny started drinking in high school?

Is it any surprise that he continued to drink, even when it was obvious that it was destroying his life?

Even as he clearly alienated people?  I don’t think Danny was single because he was ugly.  Rather, he was single because of his demanding mistress:  the booze.

I think that my favorite part of Doctor Sleep is not the part about the monsters, and revisiting Sidewinder (although those parts were certainly no slouch.)

My favorite part of Doctor Sleep was Danny’s journey.

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I loved the fact that the story picked up right after The Shining, showing us that things were not all right with Danny.

I loved the fact that Dick Hallorann was a constant presence in the story, even after he died.

But most of all, I loved the story of Danny’s struggles and his recovery.

One think that King is good at (and believe me, that is a long list) is writing real characters and real situations.  He is able to juxtapose the horror/fantasy element with the reality element (which has included job loss, addiction, bullying, hate crimes and many other familiar situations) and make his story that much more plausible.

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He did that in The Shining, and that is perhaps his most memorable moment.  Who can’t relate to Jack Torrance his struggles to provide for his family and achieve some sort of success somewhere, whether it be with writing, teaching or being the caretaker at a remote hotel?

And King also did it with Danny.  Addiction is a real issue.  Many people struggle with that.  So is childhood trauma and abuse.  Many have also struggled with that.

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King created another “Everyman” in Danny Torrance as well, in detailing his struggles with addiction, and his gradual recovery.  And that is just one of the reasons why calling Sai King “The Master” is not hyperbole.

The answer to the last question, if Danny grew up to be like his father, is yes and no.

Danny did grow up to become an alcoholic.

Danny also became someone with anger issues.

So that’s the yes part.

However, we cannot ignore the no part.  The no part is what makes Doctor Sleep so beautiful.

I love The Shining, but I consider it to be one of the bleakest books I have ever read.  Danny does escape the hotel, but at a huge cost, as his family unit is forever shattered.  Indeed, The Shining is a tragedy, along with a horror story.

Doctor Sleep is the opposite of The Shining.  It offers hope.  And I don’t know about you, but I think we could all use some hope right about now.

When I read Doctor Sleep, I look at it as a kind of redemption.  A cycle is broken.

It is true that Danny followed in his father’s footsteps (see above.)

However, Danny succeeds where his father had failed.

For one thing, he does not succumb to his alcoholism.  He recognizes the problem and seeks treatment for it.  This allows him to be able to hold down a job and maintain a stable home for himself, which is another thing that his father could not do.

Like his father, Danny had his demons.  He literally has his demons, as they escape from The Overlook and follow him into his new life.  Danny is also able to overcome those, unlike his father.

And because Danny is able to conquer his alcoholism and his demons, he is able to step up for Abra and be the man that his father could not be.

It is true that Abra is kidnapped, but Danny and the other adults do most of the dirty work to defeat The True Knot.  This allows Abra to maintain a little more of her innocence, as she can trust that the adults in her life will do the right thing.

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I also loved how Danny was able to use the ghosts of his past to defeat The True Knot.  Finally, the demons are unleashed.  The suffering is not in vain.

In fact, there is something empowering about being able to take something has caused you so much pain, and using it to do good.

We all have our demons.  Sometimes, we suppress them.  But the most courageous of us face those demons, rising above them, finally breaking the cycle.


Well, that’s it for Doctor Sleep!  Join me next month as we take a look at the state of current affairs in these parts, as we read and dissect Needful Things!

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

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Doctor Sleep is another King book set squarely in the King universe.  Here are some of the connections to other King books that I found:

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-The most obvious connection is to The Shining.  The Shining details the time that Danny and his family spent at the haunted Overlook Hotel, and of Danny’s experiences at the hotel.

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-Danny makes the statement “that there are other worlds than these.”  This is similar to a statement uttered by Jake Chambers in The Gunslinger, the first book in The Dark Tower series.

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-The town of Castle Rock is mentioned.  Castle Rock is the setting for several King novels and short stories, including The Body, Needful Things, Cujo, The Dark Half and The Dead Zone.

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-Jerusalem’s Lot is also mentioned.  The town of Jerusalem’s Lot is the setting for the book ‘Salem’s Lot, along with the short stories Jerusalem’s Lot and One for the Road.

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-Abra’s favorite boy band is ‘Round Here.  This band figures into the Mercedes trilogy, which includes Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers and End of Watch.

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-Abra is one of a long line of King characters blessed (or perhaps cursed) with psionic abilities.  These characters include Carrie White, Jake Chambers, Ted Brautigan, Kira DeVore, Tyler Marshall, the Breakers (featured in The Dark Tower series) and several others.

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-Abra’s “ghostie people” bear some resemblance to the vagrant dead featured in The Wolves of the Calla, The Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower.

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-The name Charlie Manx is mentioned.  Charlie Manx is the villain in the book NOS4A2, written Joe Hill, the son of Stephen King.

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-Mention is made of Dick Hallorann in the novel It, as Dick saved the life of Wil Hanlon, who would later go to father a boy named Mike Hanlon, a member of the Losers Club.

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-The number 19 is mentioned.  This number is of particular importance in the last three books of The Dark Tower series.

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Catching Up With Travelin’ Jack: My Review of Black House

Throughout our lives, we meet people.

This seems to be especially true in childhood.  After all, we go to school.  And we play sports, go to camp, etc.  And live in a neighborhood, surrounded by other people, many of whom are families with children.

It’s easy to meet other people when you are a child.  In fact, you meet people, and they come in and out of your life.  Sometimes, it’s the ones who are in your life for the shortest amount of time who have the most impact.  I met so many people at all those nerdy summer camp programs that I attended who were the greatest, but I only had the privilege to know them for all of two weeks, at the most.  Those two weeks seemed like a lifetime to me, but a lifetime that flew by too quickly.

Sometimes, I think about those people I met in childhood, especially the ones who I only knew for such a short period of time.  And I wonder what happened to them, and what kind of adults they turned out to be.  Hopefully, the awesome children turned out to be even more awesome adults.  I would like to believe that, any way.

One of my favorite characters from any Stephen King novel (yeah, you knew where this was going, don’t act surprised) is Jack Sawyer.

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I first met Jack Sawyer when I read The Talisman.  And I loved him.  He was the coolest, even at the tender age of 12.  And was more bad ass than people three times his age.  I would want Jack in my corner any day of the week.

However, like the cool people I met at summer camp, Jack exited my life too quickly.  And I wondered what had become of him.  What kind of person had he grown up to be?  Hopefully, he was even more awesome.

Well, The Master and his cohort, Peter Straub, grew curious about Jack as well.  And they decided to answer this question with a follow up to The Talisman:  Black House.

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Now, Black House may be a follow up to The Talisman, but make no mistake about it, it is so much more than a “sequel” (really, the word sequel has four letters in it, I am sure) to The Talisman.

Black House adds to the story of Jack Sawyer and to the mythos of that awesome place known as “The Territories,” although it brings up A LOT more questions than it answers (more on that later.)

Not surprisingly, Black House is also connected to The Dark Tower series, as do most of King’s books.  But, like Insomnia, Black House could almost be considered to be another Dark Tower book, without the words “Dark Tower” anywhere in the title or description of the book.

Plus, Black House is just plain scary!  Some of the things that happen in Black House are just entirely too plausible, and no one does “real life” horror better than Sai King, in my opinion.

So sit down, put your seat belts on, and join me, as I light out for The Territories once again, as I recap and review Black House.

And, as always:

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Synopsis

The book begins with an introduction to a town by the name of French Landing, Wisconsin.  We realize very quickly that something out of the ordinary has been occurring in French Landing, as three children have been murdered by a serial killer calling himself The Fisherman.  The residents of French Landing are frightened, and the police department is coming under scrutiny, as the murders are unsolved.

We are then introduced to several characters.  The first is an old man named Charles “Burny” Burnside.  Burnside is a resident of a facility named Maxton Eldercare, as he supposedly suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s Disease, although Burnside sometimes seems to experience extended bouts of lucidity.  Burnside is a ward of the state, as he claims to have no surviving family and no memory of his past.  Maxton Eldercare is run by a man named Chipper Maxton.  Chipper is a corrupt man, stealing from the residents of the facility, including Burnside.

Dale Gilbertson is another character we are introduced to.  Dale is the Chief of Police in French Landing, and is being heavily scrutinized due to the unsolved murders committed by The Fisherman.  Dale understands that he is out of his depth, and has requested help from a friend of his, Jack Sawyer.  Jack first met Dale four years prior, when he collaborated with Jack to solve a series of unsolved murders in California, which turned out to have a connection to French Landing.  Jack has refused to help, much to Dale’s frustration, as Jack is now retired from police work.

We are also introduced to Fred Marshall, father to Tyler Marshall and husband to Judy Marshall.  Tyler is a seemingly ordinary child, enjoying his summer vacation.  Judy, however, is not ordinary, as she slowly seems to be losing her grip on reality.  Fred is concerned, but pushes aside his worry for his wife, as he does not think that her problems are that serious.

Finally, we are introduced to Jack Sawyer.  When Jack collaborated with his friend Dale, he fell in love with French Landing, and later purchased a home that had once been owned by Dale’s family.  Eventually, Jack moved into the home, but spends most of his time in isolation, despite Dale’s attempts to get to know his friend better.

The book also introduces us to a man named Henry Leyden.  Henry works as a DJ with multiple on-air personas.  Henry is the uncle to Dale Gilbert and a friend of Jack Sawyer.  Henry is also blind, but his other senses are acute, to compensate for the blindness.

Lately, strange things have been happening to Jack.  A robin’s egg mysteriously appears in his refrigerator, and he also sees robin feathers around his house.  Jack begins to question his grip on reality, especially when he tries to call his mother, who has been dead for several years.

One morning, Jack picks Henry up from work.  While driving and listening to one of Henry’s CD’s, they see a group of boys.  One of the boys makes an obscene gesture to Henry and Jack, expressing his feelings on the music.  Another young boy seems to approve of the music.  Henry also tries to persuade Jack to assist Dale with the investigation of the child murders, but again, Jack declines, reminding Henry that he is retired.  Henry also says that he has experienced some odd occurrences lately:  he thinks that he has heard his deceased wife walking around the house.  Jack drops Henry off at his home, and dismisses the occurrences as a manifestation of Henry’s grief.

Later that day, Tyler Marshall is riding his bike with his friends.  He falls behind his friends, who abandon him.  Just outside the Maxton Eldercare Facility, Tyler encounters a talking crow that calls itself “Gorg.”  Tyler is entranced by the bird, and moves closer to it.  This allows Charles Burnside, who has momentarily regained his senses, to abduct Tyler.  Tyler’s friends notice that he is lost and that his bicycle has been abandoned, but decide not to say anything, as they fear they will be implicated in his abduction.

In the meantime, Judy Marshall, Tyler’s mother, continues to lose her grip on reality.  Judy then receives a mysterious package at her door.  When she opens the package, she finds a note stating that her son’s kidney has been eaten, along with human organs of some kind.  Judy becomes hysterical, and a neighbor calls her husband Fred at work.

Fred returns home, and finds that Judy has seemingly gone mad, destroying Tyler’s bedroom on her rampage.  Fred is finally able to calm Judy down, and begins to worry that Tyler is indeed missing, as Judy has said.  The local police also find Tyler’s bicycle, and Dale Gilbert worries that The Fisherman has claimed another victim.

Fred awakens from an afternoon nap to find his wife choking on scraps of paper.  Fred is able to rescue Judy from choking, but Tyler still has not returned home.  This prompts Fred to call the police, and find out that Tyler’s bike was found abandoned in front of the nursing home.

That afternoon, Henry Leyden does a DJ gig at Maxton Eldercare Facility.  He takes notice of Charles Burnside, who behaves unpleasantly, and seems to babble some nonsensical words.

That evening, Henry persuades Jack to speak to Fred in regards to the Fisherman’s possible involvement in the disappearance of Tyler.  Jack and reluctantly agrees to assist in the investigation, and to also speak to Judy, who has been institutionalized.  Jack also questions Tyler’s friends, and finds out that they abandoned Tyler and noticed that he had left his bicycle by the nursing home, but did not actually witness the abduction.  One of Tyler’s friends also tells Jack that he saw black crow feathers by the nursing home.

Jack also has a strange dream that night.  In the dream, he encounters Speedy Parker, someone he knew as a child.  Speedy commands Jack to assist in the investigation, as an entity called The Crimson King has kidnapped Tyler, because Tyler is a Breaker, with the ability to help The Crimson King commit a terrible deed.

The following morning, Jack awakens and finds a mysterious package on his front porch.  The package contains a sneaker, which also contains the severed foot of a child.  Jack realizes that this is probably from one of the victims of The Fisherman.  This causes Jack to remember an incidence from his childhood that he had tried to forget.

Jack then “flips” to another world, one he knows as The Territories, from his childhood.  This world is a fantastical version of ours, and Jack’s memories continue to awaken.  While in this alternate world, Jack discover’s Tyler’s baseball cap, and realizes that Tyler is probably still alive, and that The Fisherman wanted Jack to find the cap.

When he returns to his own world, Jack finds a note on the mysterious package, advising him to try a place called Ed’s Eats and Dogs.  Jack calls Henry and tells him about the package and the note, and Henry agrees to take Jack to Ed’s Eats and Dogs, which was a food stand that is now closed.

The French Landing Police Department also receives a call from someone identifying himself as The Fisherman that morning.  The caller instructs the police to also go to Ed’s Eats and Dogs, and Dale Gilbertson and his officers proceed to do just that.

Jack receives a call on his cell phone from Dale, and learns that Dale is also headed to the abandoned food stand.  They meet at the food stand, and Jack shows Dale the package sent to him by The Fisherman, and Dale tells Jack about the phone call from The Fisherman.

In the meantime, the officer who received the call from The Fisherman tells his wife, who tells her friends about the call.  Soon, several people in town find out about the call.  One of these people is Beezer St. Pierre.  Beezer is part of a motorcycle club in town known as The Thunder Five, and is also the father to Amy St. Pierre, one of the victims of The Fisherman.  Soon, Beezer and his friends Mouse, Doc, Sonny and Kaiser Bill also head to the abandoned eatery.

Wendell Green, a reporter for the local newspaper, also heads to the eatery, in the hopes that he will find his next story.

At the investigation scene, chaos erupt, mostly due to Wendell Green’s attempt to distract Jack and the police.  Beezer and his friends assist Jack and the police in dispersing the crowd, but the state police also arrive at the scene, and tell Dale that he can no longer work the Fisherman case.

That afternoon, Jack and Fred visit Judy in the mental hospital.  Jack is struck by how beautiful Judy is.  Judy also knows of the alternate reality Jack calls The Territories, and says that she is able to communicate with a woman who lives in that reality.  Judy also tells Jack that The Fisherman has stashed Tyler in that reality, and that Tyler is in grave danger, but still alive, and that Jack is the only one who can rescue him.  On the way home, Jack shows Fred the baseball cap that he found in The Territories, and confirms that it belongs to Tyler.  Jack also promises to do whatever he can to rescue Tyler.

That night, an ominous fog covers the town of French Landing.  Charles Burnside escapes the Maxton Eldercare Facility, and sneaks into the boarding house next door.  He breaks into the room of a man named George Potter, and plants several pictures of the Fisherman’s victims in the closet.  The pictures are discovered by another resident of the boarding house, and a call is placed to the local police.

Jack, Dale, Wendell and Beezer all find out about the pictures in George Potter’s room, and all head to the police station.  Dale places Potter under arrest, and books him in a holding cell.

In the meantime, the mysterious crow visits Tansy Freeneau, the mother to Irma Freeneau, one of the victims of The Fisherman.  The crow somehow can speak, and tells Tansy about George Potter’s arrest.  Tansy rounds up a group of locals from a bar, and all head to the police station.

When Jack arrives at the police station, he receives a call from Speedy, someone he knew as a child.  Speedy tells Jack that an angry mob is headed to the police station, and that Jack needs to meet him in the men’s bathroom.

Shortly after the angry mob arrives, Jack steps out into the parking lot.  He is holding a bouquet of flowers and allows Tansy to smell the flowers.  The smell of the flowers calms Tansy, along with most of the crowd.  Jack calls for someone to take Tansy home, and the crowd dissipates.

Jack questions George Potter, and determines that George is not guilty.  George states that he was a contractor many years ago, and engaged in some shady dealings.  One of the people George engaged in deals with was someone named Carl, who now happens to be living in French Landing.  George thinks that the man now goes by the name Charles Burnside, and that the man had a house built in French Landing many years ago.  George does not know where the house is located, but tells Jack of many strange things that happened while the house was being built, such as the workers being injured and even losing their shadows.  Jack determines that this man is most certainly The Fisherman, but is unable to obtain any more information from either George or Dale Gilbertson.

The next morning, Jack checks on Tansy Freeneau, who appears to succumbing to madness, even though the flowers from The Territories that Jack had given her the night before seem to have a calming effect on her. Jack finds out from Tansy that she received a visit from Gorg, and Tansy tells Jack that Gorg is actually a raven from another world. Jack then goes to a local bar called The Sand Bar, where he had promised to meet Beezer and the rest of The Thunder Five.  While Jack is waiting for Beezer and his friends, he notices that the movie playing on the television is one that had starred his deceased mother.

When the bikers arrive at the bar, Jack asks them if they know anything about a mysterious house in French Landing.  One of the bikers, Mouse, recognizes the house, and tells Jack that it even has a name:  Black House.  Mouse also tells Jack and his friends that he and a girlfriend, Nancy, were actually in the vicinity of the house a few years prior, having accidentally discovered it on a bike ride.  Right away, Mouse realized that something was not right, and managed to escape with Nancy.  Mouse survived the experience, but Nancy was not so lucky.  Soon after, Nancy becomes extremely ill and tragically dies from her illness.  Jack warns Beezer to not get too close to the house, but to check it out, and that they will meet up again later.

Beezer and the rest of the bikers set off that afternoon to find Black House.  Finally, they are able to find it, and right away, things begin to go wrong.  They notice a change in the air, which seems to become poisonous.  They also encounter a creature that appears to be a dog, but attacks the bikers.  All of the men suffer from headaches and vomiting, and experience unpleasant memories from their past.   They are finally able to escape the dog and Black House, but Mouse is bitten by the dog, and Doc (Beezer’s right hand man) notices that the wound is severe and unlike an ordinary dog bite.

In the meantime, Jack heads to the mental hospital to visit Judy Marshall.  Jack realizes that Judy’s counterpart in The Territories, her Twinner, has been trying to communicate with her, and her Twinner’s attempts have become more urgent, due to the situation with The Fisherman.  Jack also suspects that The Fisherman has a Territories Twinner, and that creature is probably holding Tyler Marshall hostage.  Jack also finds out that The Fisherman has sent a tape of himself tormenting Judy to Judy at the hospital, which has caused Judy to regress to her previous state.

When he arrives at the hospital, Jack encounters Wendell Green, who has tracked him down.  Wendell tries to sabotage Jack’s attempts to visit Judy, but Judy’s doctor agrees to allow Jack to see Judy, for a short time.

Jack speaks to Judy, and she tells him that he must travel to The Territories to save Tyler.  Jack does just that, arriving at The Territories once again.  When he arrives in the other world, Jack finds himself in the company of Judy’s Territories Twinner:  a woman named Sophie.  Almost instantly, Jack falls in love with Sophie.

Wendell Green has also traveled to The Territories with Jack, as he was spying on Jack and Judy at the mental hospital.  Wendell is shell-shocked, and unable to comprehend just what has happened to him.

Shortly after his arrive to The Territories, Jack encounters an old friend:  Parkus, the man who is responsible for law and order in The Territories.  Parkus is the Twinner to Jack’s friend Speedy.  Parkus tells Jack that Tyler is still alive and Jack may be able to still rescue him, but that there are much bigger issues at hand.  Parkus then tells Jack and Sophie that the entity known as the Crimson King has gathered a group of children with psionic abilities that he calls Breakers.  The Breakers have been assembled to help destroy The Dark Tower, which is the nexus of all existence. Parkus tells Jack that The Fisherman does not have a Territories Twinner.  Rather, The Fisherman is possessed by a being from another world, which allows him to commit his horrific acts.  The being is a creature known as Mr. Munshun, or sometimes Mr. Monday.  Mr. Munshun allows Charles Burnside to murder all of the children he wants, but if the children possess psionic abilities, they are to be turned over to Mr. Munshun and The Crimson King at once.  Tyler is special, as he has the ability to become the most power of all Breakers.

Parkus tells Jack that he must find out the exact identity of The Fisherman, so that he can get to Mr. Munshun and rescue Tyler Marshall, as well as foil the plans of the Crimson King.  However, Jack still does not know just who The Fisherman is in his world.  Parkus also tells Jack that he will need to use Black House to enter the world of Mr. Munshun, as Mr. Munshun does not reside in The Territories.

Jack then travels back to his own world, taking Wendell Green with him.  Jack heads out of the hospital and receives a panicked call from Beezer.  Beezer tells Jack that Mouse is dying, and that Jack needs to come quickly.

When Jack arrives at Beezer’s house, he sees something horrific happening to Mouse.  Mouse is literally being eaten alive by the poison he received when the dog creature bit him at Black House.  Mouse is mostly delirious, but he tells Jack to meet Beezer and the others at noon the next day, so that they can head to Black House to rescue Tyler and defeat Mr. Munshun.  Mouse also gives Jack a spell of sorts:  the word “d’yamba.”  Mouse tells Jack that he will need this word in the near future.  Shortly after imparting this information, Mouse passes away.

In the meantime, Henry Leyden is at his home, listening to the tape of The Fisherman’s voice.  Henry also believes that he can smell the perfume of his late wife, and thinks he is losing his mind.  However, Henry recognizes the voice of Charles Burnside from the tape, as he also heard Burnside’s voice from his gig at the nursing home.  Henry also realizes that Burnside is in his house and using the scent of his wife’s perfume to trick Henry.

Henry attempts to defend himself against Burnside, but is stabbed by Burnside with a pair of garden shears.  Henry realizes that he will bleed to death, so he makes a recording for Jack, revealing the identity of The Fisherman, and the fact that The Fisherman lives in the nursing home.  Shortly after finishing the recording, Henry signs off, saying goodbye to Jack, and dies.

Jack heads home after paying respect to Mouse.  Amazingly, Jack is surrounded by a swarm of bees.  The bees appear to offer comfort and do not sting Jack.  Jack then decides that he will open to Henry, and tell Henry the story of his past journey to The Territories when he was a child.

Jack arrives at Henry’s house and realizes almost right away that something is amiss.  He discovers Henry’s body and hears Henry’s last recording that identifies The Fisherman.  Shocked and saddened, Jack calls the local police, and then travels to The Territories once again, seeking comfort.

Charles Burnside returns to the nursing home.  He has been injured in the confrontation with Henry, but still alive.  Burnside is confronted by one of the nurses on duty in regards to his whereabouts.  He uses the garden shears to kill her, and makes an attempt to escape back to Black House.  However, he is also confronted by Chipper Maxton, who has learned of his true identity.  Burnside also kills Maxton with the gardening shears, and returns to Black House, with the assistance of the entity known as Mr. Munshun.

After Burnside arrives at Black House, he arouses Tyler Marshall from a dream, and takes Tyler into another world.  He places a sort of “hat” on Tyler that dulls Tyler’s thinking, and tells Tyler that he is taking him to the Crimson King, who has a job waiting for Tyler.

The next day, Jack meets Dale, Doc and Beezer at The Sand Bar.  He is able to summon the cloud of bees again, much to the astonishment of his friends.  Jack utters the word “d’yamba” over a bottle of honey, and has his friends dab a bit of the honey underneath their noses, in the hopes that the belief in the honey will protect them from the ill effects of Black House.

In the meantime, Burnside and Tyler arrive at their final destination, where they see many children with special talents being forced to perform the work of the Crimson King.  Burnside attempts to shackle Tyler, but Tyler strikes back and disembowels Burnside, which kills the old man.

Before Jack and his friends leave for Black House, they encounter Fred Marshall outside of the bar.  Fred has received a package addressed to Tyler, from George Rathbun (one of the radio personalities of the deceased Henry Leyden) containing a bat signed by a Milwaukee Brewers player.  All of the men then sense that Tyler has killed Burnside, which offers them hope that their mission may succeed.

When Jack and his friend arrive at Black House, they encounter the swarm of bees that surrounded Jack earlier.  Jack sees the crow, Gorg, and shoots him. Once inside the house, they encounter some frightening illusions, as the house tries to keep them from tracking down Tyler Marshall.

While Jack and his friends are searching for Tyler, Tyler manages to free himself from the shackles by obtaining the key.  However, once he frees himself, he is then captured by the being Mr. Mushun.

However, as Munshun attempts to take Tyler to the Crimson King, he encounters Jack and his friends, who are ready to fight.  Jack attacks Munshun with the bat sent to Tyler’s father, and is finally able to kill the evil creature.

Jack tells Tyler that he must rescue the other children before he can return to his family.  Tyler argues that he cannot, and Jack argues otherwise.  The cap that Burnside had placed on Tyler’s head then falls off, and the full extent of Tyler’s powers are unleashed.  Tyler then uses those powers to destroy the machines that have imprisoned the other children, and the other children are freed as well.

Jack, Tyler, Dale, Beezer and Doc then return to their world, along with the rest of the children freed by Tyler.  Black House has now lost its magic and is an ordinary house.  The dog that had attacked Mouse is also destroyed.

Some weeks later, Jack, Doc, Beezer and Dale prepare to attend a ceremony so they can be recognized for their bravery by the town of French Landing.  They have concocted a cover story that leaves out the visit to the other world, and implicates Henry Leyden as the one who identified The Fisherman and led Jack and his friends to him.  The government is also dealing with the other children who were rescued, and the origins of most of these children remain a mystery.  Black House has also been destroyed, thanks to the efforts of Beezer and Jack.

Jack and his friends enter the stage and face the crowd, which begins to wildly applaud.  In that crowd is Jack’s old friend, Speedy Parker.  However, a woman named Wanda Kinderling is also part of the crowd.  Wanda is the wife of the man who Jack helped Dale imprison for murder several years ago.  Wanda is angry, as she believes her husband was wrongfully imprisoned.  Tragically, Wanda acts on that anger, shooting Jack.  Speedy is unable to stop her, and Wanda shoots Jack in the chest and throat.  After she shoots Jack, Wanda is almost immediately attacked by Doc.

Speedy then grabs Jack and carries him in his arms to The Territories.  He tells Sophie that Jack will survive his injuries, thanks to his encounter with The Talisman as a child, but that Jack must remain in The Territories, as a return to his own world will likely kill him.  Jack continues to remain in a coma for several days.

Several days later, Jack awakens, with Sophie by his side, who welcomes him to his new life in The Territories.


My Thoughts

And there are so many of them, in regards to Black House.  But I will try to condense myself (hey, don’t laugh too hard, now.)

First of all, the men.  There are some fine men in this book…and I am not even talking about the main character, Jack Sawyer (although be prepared for more in depth discussion of him in a bit.  Don’t worry, I have not forgotten.  Far from it, in fact.)

There is a little something for everyone, in terms of men in this book.

First of all, Henry Leyden.  He is blind, but anyone who has sex with Henry is not having pity sex with him…no sir (or m’am, if you please.)

He’s a DJ, and he knows his music.  Check.

Despite the fact that he is blind, Henry has an incredible sense of style.  Just thinking about the suits that he was described as wearing…whoa!  What is it about well-dressed guys that makes you want to tear those same clothes off?

And Henry has the x-factor too.  Just something about his friendship with Jack sent shivers down my spine.  Henry never pressured Jack to take down those walls, but chiseled away patiently.  And that made my heart melt.

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My heart also broke wide open, when Henry died.  I have read this book a few times, but each time I find myself, hoping against hope, that things will be different this time.  Of course, they never are.  And my heart breaks wide open yet again.

Beezer St. Pierre.

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Yes, I know that guy is not Beezer.  But I don’t think I am that far off, am I?

Anyone who lives in a place known as “Nailhouse Row” (can you get any cooler than that?) is already hot by association.

And let’s just admint:  Beezer is a bad ass.  A fucking bad ass, as a matter of fact.  In fact, he wouldn’t be that out of place in a certain club known as SAMCRO.  Not out of place at all, as a matter of fact.

Beezer is also smart.  Smart is always hot.  The fact that he was reading William Blake…swoon!  And that his house was overflowing with books?  Woo, I am feeling a little flushed right now…

I could also feel empathy for Beezer, given what happened to his daughter.  I never pitied him, like I pitied Tansy Freeneau.  But I could emphasize with him, as his daughter was brutalized by The Fisherman.  And I could understand why Beezer and his friends felt the need to police the police, so to speak.  Poor man was going through an unimaginable pain, it’s a wonder that he didn’t break down doors at the police station.

And we have Jack Sawyer.

As all both  of my faithful readers know, I have book boyfriends.  Like Aragorn.  And Jon Snow.  I am such as sucker for fictional men that I can never, ever have an actual relationship with (don’t worry, my marriage is open in regards to this…heehee!)

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One of my favorite book boyfriends is Jack Sawyer.  It feels weird saying that, since he was 12 when I first met, and I was in my twenties, but it’s ok, I am reading Black House and Jacky is all growed up!

I think the reason why I love Jack so much is because I identify with him.  King writes about people who don’t quite fit in and who often live on the fringes of society, and are maybe even marginalized by everyone else.  I am pretty isolated (even though I do have a few good friends and an understanding husband), I live on the fringe (although that is my choice and I spent my life being marginalized.  I was the odd kid, and childhood and adolescence were a social disaster for me.  And until recently, adulthood was a social disaster for me.

At the beginning of the book, Jack is a lonely man.  Jack probably does not realize this, but the reader certainly does.  Jack is unmarried (criminal!) and has retired from the police force at the impossibly young age of 31.  Jack has no surviving family members. and no close friends.  When people do try to reach out to Jack (like Dale), the walls go up, and Jack pushes people away.

However, Jack slowly emerges from his shell as the book progresses.  And it is quite a beautiful thing to watch.  Jack had been living in a sort of fog and has not been truly engaged with anyone or anything.  It takes a series of gruesome child murders, along a ghost from Jack’s childhood in order for that fog to lift. But it’s worth the wait, because Jack Sawyer reminds me of a rose:  it may be a little shy to open up and finally bloom, but when the flower does bloom, it is beautiful beyond words.

Rose

I consider Black House to be one of King’s most frightening books ever written.  Normally, when people think of scary Stephen  King books, works such as The Shining, ‘Salem’s Lot, It and Pet Sematary come to mind.  When you mention a scary Stephen King book, the one co-written by Peter Straub that is the follow up to the epic fantasy otherwise known as The  Talisman that could almost be considered another Dark Tower book does not come to mind.  However, it should, since Black House is an extremely creepy read, and should be recognized as such.

First of all, the book deals with child murders.  King is known for writing about “real-life horrors,” and unfortunately, children being killed fall into that category.  In fact, the events in Black House are tragically plausible: children go missing and are murdered on an almost daily basis in this country.  I have stated in the past that Charles Burnside is one of King’s worst human (or is it best) monsters, and I stand by that statement.  Burnside was based on Albert Fish, who (at least to me) was one of the worst real-life monsters that has ever existed throughout history.  Anyone who can do what Fish (and Burnside) did to children…well, Hell would be too good for that person, actually.  I would hope that there was some place even worse than Hell for someone like that, where he would be made to suffer just as his victims did.

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Often, King books, there is what I call “buried treasure,” or something that really does not have much to do with the story being told, but is something that just takes the story from good to fucking epic (the history of Derry in It being a great example, among countless others.)  In Black House, it is the bit about borders, and how borders seem invite bad things in.  I loved the story told by Sonny about Harko, Illinois, and the border town of Harko, where one of his friends murdered the other with no provocation and ended up in the mental asylum…it had a kind of EC Horror Comics feel to it…I loved it!

Black House also has a scary non-human bad guy:  Mr. Munshun.

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Or is it Humpty Dumpty on a bad day?  Dammit, I knew Humpty wasn’t who he seemed to be!  And I always had an uneasy feeling about him, anyway…I can see why they knocked him off that wall!

The descriptions of Munshun are just so unsettling (I think King also compared him to Humpty Dumpty.)  The teeth, the orange hair, how Tyler Marshall could fee his presence when he was shackled.  My heart raced as Tyler struggled to beat the clock, and I jumped up and down when Munshun was finally disposed of.  Pennywise, Randall Flagg, Kurt Barlow are all frightening, but Munshun has also earned his spot on the list of Stephen King monsters…he needs to be in the discussion a lot more!

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There is also Black House itself.  A house that literally eats people?  And has a hell hound for a watch dog?  To boot, the bite of that “dog” is much, much worse than its bite.  The description of what happened to Mouse (seriously, vomit that comes alive…I can’t even) is just seriously…well…disgusting…even for the likes of writers like King and Straub.  Did they have a sleepover where they spent the night trying to see who could gross the other out, and then decide to include those details in Black House?  Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Stephen King

As I have stated before, Black House is also a bit frustrating.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but still.

I found the ending to be very open-ended.  Jack is shot, and transported back to The Territories.  Speedy then hints about the business with The Tower (goosebumps) not being finished yet.  Ooooh, a sequel!

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A sequel that we have been waiting about 15 years for.  King and Straub have both stated that there should be a third book, but we have yet to see it.  I have faith that we will one day, but even I am not THAT patient.  C’mon, don’t tease me like this, Uncle Stevie!

I just have to know what happens to my friend Jack Sawyer.  Did he somehow help Roland and his friends in their quest (again)?  Or is it some other adventure, where Jack meets even more interesting folks in The Territories?  What of Jack and Sophie?  I know that Sophie stated she was barren, but I would so love a Jack Junior!

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Such questions…such torture…

But hopefully, we end the torture soon, and The Master graces us with the answers to those questions!


Well, that’s it for Black House.  Join me next month for an out of this world experience, as we review and dissect Dreamcatcher!

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

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Connections

Like all King books, Black House is a part of the Stephen King Universe, and is particularly connected to the world of the Dark Tower series.  Here are some of the connections I found:

-The most obvious connection is to The Talisman, as Black House is a follow up novel to The Talisman.  Several characters from The Talisman are referenced, including Lily Sawyer, Morgan Sloat, Wolf and Sunlight Gardner.

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Black House could also be considered another Dark Tower novel, as part of the book takes places in the same world inhabited by Roland Deschain and his friends.  Roland Deschain is specifically mentioned, along with the fact that Roland is training Eddie, Susannah and Jake to be gunslingers.  The Crimson King, who is also a character in the series, is  referenced as well.

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Ted Brautigan is mentioned in Black House.  Ted Brautigan is a character in the novella Low Men in Yellow Coats, which is part of the collection Hearts in Atlantis, and is also a character who appears in the final Dark Tower novel.

Ted Brautigan 1

-Black House and the town of French Landing are mentioned by Randall Flagg in the final Dark Tower novel.

-The house named Rose Red is mentioned.  Rose Red is the haunted house featured in the movie of the same name.

-Parkus owns a two-headed parrot.  This is similar to a parrot owned by Randall Flagg in the book The Eyes of the Dragon.

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-Blaine the Monorail, along with Patricia the Monorail, are referenced in Black House.  Blaine the Monorail is a character in The Wastelands and Wizard and Glass.

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-The phrase “Light out for the Territories” is used.  This phrase is also used in several other King novels, including The Talisman, The Wastelands and Lisey’s Story.

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-Mention is made of Legion.  Legion is also referenced in It, The Gunslinger and The Stand.

Black House features people with psionic abilities, or Breakers.  People with these gifts are featured in several King stories, including Everything’s Eventual, The Wolves of the Calla, The Shining, Dr. Sleep, The Song of Susannah and Carrie.

Dinky

-The being known as the Crimson King is referenced several times in Black House.  The Crimson King is also the antagonist in the novel Insomnia.

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The Final Concert: My Review of End of Watch

So, the month of June is upon us.

And we all know what that means…

Yes, it’s my birthday month.  Yes, I really will be 38 years old (ugh.)  And yes, I accept donations of any kind.  I prefer cash, but checks are ok too…haha!

But, that’s not actually why this month is special (even if my birthday is pretty special…duh.)

No, the month of June is special because of Stephen King.

Stephen King

(Don’t forget, it is this blog, after all.  The Master trumps everything, even the birthday month of yours truly.)

And it’s not because of the book The Dark Half, which could be construed to be a book written about Thad Beaumont, the ultimate Gemini…but I digress.

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June is special, or has been special the past couple of years, because The Master has been releasing his Mercedes trilogy books the first week of June.

The fact that he releases these books right before my birthday (back to that again, yes) is a nice courtesy, don’t you think?

And June of 2016 is extra special, because we have the release of End of Watch, the third and final (maybe) book of this series.

So finally, we find out what will happen to good old Bill Hodges, along with his friends Jerome and Holly.

Finally, Hodges gets to square off one more time against his nemesis, Brady.  And quite possibly put this obsession to bed, one way or another.

So, without further ado, here is my recap and review of End of Watch.

As always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The book begins with a flashback to the Mercedes Massacre, which had occurred in 2009.  The flashback is told from the perspective of Rob and Jason, two paramedics who are called to the scene after a then unknown killer uses a stolen Mercedes as a weapon to kill and injure several people at a job fair.  One of the victims is Martine Stover, who is unconscious when Rob and Jason arrive at the scene.  Rob and Jason manage to save Martine from death, but it appears that Martine’s injuries have made her a quadriplegic.  Rob and Jason are saddened by the deaths and injuries, and hope that the perpetrator faces justice.

The book then flashes forward to January 2016.  Bill Hodges is awaiting an appointment with his doctor, when he receives a call from his soon to be retired former partner, Pete Huntley.  Huntley tells Hodges about his final case, which looks to be a murder-suicide.  One of the victims is Martine Stover, who was rendered a quadriplegic after the Mercedes Massacare.  Huntley tells Hodges that Martine appears to have been murdered by her mother, and that her mother then committed suicide.

Hodges picks up Holly Gibney, the woman who is his partner in the private investigation firm that he started after his retirement.  He then meets with Huntley and his partner, Izzy, at the crime scene.  It is confirmed that Martine’s mother used oxycontin and vodka to kill her daughter and herself.  Hodges thinks there is nothing special about the case, but Huntley believes otherwise.

Huntley tells of another murder-suicide that occurred the previous year.  Keith Frias and Krista Countryman were also victims of the Mercedes Massacre.  The two had met in a therapy group, and had planned to get married.  However, they committed suicide by overdosing on pills one day, and died in each other’s arms.  Holly notices a mysterious letter Z in the bathtub where Martine died.  Hodges and Holly are reminded of Brady Hartsfield, the man responsible for the Mercedes Massacre.  Hartsfield was stopped by Holly and Hodges, but not before he was able to manipulate several people into committing suicide.  One of these victims was Olivia Trelawney, Holly’s cousin and the owner of the Mercedes used in the murders.  Hartsfield was able to steal the vehicle and use it to murder several people, and was also able to manipulate Olivia into committing suicide.

On the drive back to the office, Holly voices her suspicions to Hodges.  She tells him that she investigated the upstairs room to the house, and discovered a computer.  The computer contained no indication that either Martine or her mother had ever researched suicide.  Holly also finds a Zappit, which is an electronic device used for playing games.  She and Hodges both feel that this is odd, as neither woman was an expert on gadgets.  Holly says that she will be tracking down Nancy Alderson, the housekeeper employed by Martine Stover and her mother, in the hopes that the housekeeper can shed some light on the mystery.

Hodges is able to speak to Nancy Alderson, the housekeeper for Martine and her mother.  Nancy is extremely surprised by the deaths of Martine and her mother, telling Hodges that Martine had accepted her condition, and that she also got along well with her mother.  Nancy also sheds light on the mystery of the Zappit, telling Hodges that the gadget was a gift for filling out a questionnaire.  It is also revealed that a mysterious man in a parka had been seen around the house, and that he would look into the windows of the house.

Holly and Hodges have lunch that day.  Hodges points out that the Zappit is actually an outdated piece of technology, and that Martine may have fallen victim to a scam.  Hodges also checks out the house across the street from Martine Stover, and discovers the casings to a pair of binoculars, indicating that someone may have been watching Martine and her mother.  Hodges also finds a letter Z carved into the wall of the garage.  Someone driving down the street in a Chevrolet Malibu is also spying on Hodges, but Hodges is distracted by a terrible pain in his knee and his stomach, and is reminded of his doctor’s appointment that he has rescheduled for the next day.

That night, Hodges speaks to Holly and schedules a meeting with her and Huntley, before his doctor’s appointment.  Hodges’ health also appears to worsen, as he vomits blood later that night.  Hodges becomes extremely worried about his future.

Meanwhile, something strange occurs at the hospital where Brady Hartsfield is a patient.  Brady is thought to be comatose, but speaks to Nurse Valdez, badly startling her.

Earlier that day, a nurse named Ruth Scapelli had paid a visit to Brady Hartsfield.  Nurse Scapelli had expressed her disdain for Brady by twisting his nipples, as she believed that Brady had given her an obscene gesture earlier.  Nurse Scapelli is paid a visit that night by Dr. Barbineau, Brady’s doctor.  Barbineau tells Nurse Scapelli that he knows of her earlier actions, and that she will face consequences for them.  After Dr. Barbineau leaves, Nurse Scapelli receives a visit from what appears to be Brady Hartsfield.  Brady appears to flicker in and out of existence, but starts to convince Nurse Scapelli that she is worthless, and that no one will help her now that she caught breaking the rules.

Later that night, Hodges is unable to sleep, so he gets up and turns on his computer.  He discovers he has a message on program called Debbie’s Blue Umbrella, which is the program that he had used to talk to Brady Hartsfield.  The message is from someone named Z-Boy, and simply states;  He’s not done with you yet.

Hodges and Holly meet with Huntley and Izzy the next morning.  The meeting does not go well, as Izzy is upset that Holly took the Zappit from the scene, possibly compromising evidence.  Huntley and Izzy also feel that the investigation should be closed as a murder suicide.  This upsets Holly, but Hodges comforts her, telling her that they are done with the case yet, as he hurries to his doctor appointment.

At his doctor appointment, Hodges receives some terrible news:  he has been diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer, and learns that he may only live for another year.  His doctor urges him to see a specialist right away, but Hodges declines, saying that he needs to think things through first.

The body of Ruth Scapelli is discovered later that day.  Nurse Scapelli’s daughter had contacted the police earlier, after receiving a strange email from her mother.  The cause appears to be suicide, but there is a letter Z written in blood on the floor.

We also learn that Brady Hartsfield has been given experimental drugs by Dr. Babineau, in the hopes that Brady will regain consciousness at some point.  Dr. Babineau does not have much hope for his patient, and eventually stops giving him the medication, as it appears that Brady is still in a vegetative state.

However, Brady has regained some form of consciousness, and is aware of the actions of the doctors and nurses in his hospital room.  Brady has also gained some form of telekinesis, as he is able to move objects without touching them.

One day, Brady discovers another PSI ability:  he has the ability to switch consciences with other people.  In other words, he can momentarily take over the minds of other people, in certain instances.  Brady realizes that he needs to practice using his new abilities, and alerts the doctors and nurses that his head hurts, along with asking for his mother.

After Hodges discovers the message on his computer, he returns to work and hides his cancer diagnosis from Holly.  Hodges and Holly discuss Brady Hartsfield.  Hodges believes that Brady is not actually unconscious, and may have somehow convinced a nurse to commit suicide.  Hodges decides that he will pay another visit to Brady, and Holly urges him to be careful, as she believes that Brady may now be gifted with PSI abilities.

While Hodges riding the bus to the hospital where Brady is a patient, he is preoccupied with thoughts of his health, and does not notice the Chevrolet Malibu, or the old man in a parka who appears to be watching him.

Holly suspects that Hodges is not telling the truth about his health, and sneaks a peek at his computer files while he is gone.  She finds out that he has terminal cancer, and becomes very upset.

Hodges also receives a call from his former partner Huntley, who informs him that the Zappit may have a virus on it, as it is not functional, and there is no way that Martine Stover or her mother could have used it.  Huntley also tells Hodges to stop badgering him and his partner Izzy, as his input is no longer wanted.

While Hodges is on his way to the hospital, his neighbor, 16 year old Barbara Robinson (sister of Jerome) has made her way into a dangerous part of town.  Barbara is African American, but feels she has very little understanding of her culture, due to her family’s relative wealth and success.  Barbara is also in possession of a Zappit device.  The apparition of a young man appears in a store window, and convinces Barbara to commit suicide.  Barbara steps in front of a bus, ready to do just that.

Back at the hospital, Dr. Babineau, who is actually under the control of Brady, informs Brady that Hodges has figured out what he is doing.  Brady becomes furious, but is still trying to convince Barbara Robinson to commit suicide, as she is associated with Hodges.

Barbara’s attempt at suicide is interrupted by the arrival of a young man who takes her Zappit.  Barbara becomes furious and tries to get the gadget back from him.  Barbara grabs her device back, and runs right into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

Brady orders Dr. Babineau to keep Hodges out of his room, as he is flushed and does not actually appear comatose.  Dr. Babineau agrees to do what he can.

In the meantime, Tanya Robinson, Barbara’s mother, receives a call from the police, letting her know that something has happened to her daughter.

When Hodges arrives at the hospital, he is refused visitation of Brady, by Dr. Babineau.  Hodges brides an intern to take a message to Nurse Norma Wilmer, who has helped him the past.

Jerome Robinson, who is in Arizona volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, receives a call from Holly, who tearfully informs him of Hodges’ cancer diagnosis.  Jerome also receives a call from his mother, who tells him that something has happened to his sister Barbara.

Hodges meets with Nurse Wilmer, and agrees to meet her for a drink.  Hodges then receives a call from Tanya Robinson, and rushes back to the hospital.

At the hospital, Hodges finds that Barbara has a broken leg, but is not otherwise severely injured.  She also tells Bill that the young man pushed her out of the way of the oncoming vehicle, preventing a much worse injury, maybe even saving her life.  Hodges makes contact with the police station where the young man is being held, so that he may question him about the incident.

Hodges receives a call from Holly, who is upset and confesses to her snooping regarding his health.  Holly picks up Hodges, and together they head to the police station to talk to the young man who may have saved Barbara Robinson’s life.

Holly and Hodges learn the name of the young man who was responsible for saving Barbara’s life:  Dereece Neville.  Dereece is also a star athlete and a good student, and will likely go to college on a scholarship.  The police have told him that he is free to leave, but he has elected to stay at the police station until he finds out that Barbara is all right.

When Hodges speaks to Dereece, he confirms that Barbara was carrying a Zappit device.  Dereece though that Barbara was under the influence of some substance, but tells Hodges that Barbara appeared to return to her normal self once the Zappit device was taken away from her.

Later on, Hodges meets Nurse Wilmer for a drink.  The nurse agrees to see if she can find Brady’s so-called visitor list for Hodges, and tells Hodges that she thinks that Dr. Babineau may be experimenting on Brady.  She also confesses that she and some of the other nurses believe that Brady can move objects with his mind.

Holly visits Barbara at the hospital.  Barbara confesses to Holly that she has been feeling depressed, as she has experienced harassment at school and other places due to the fact that she is African American.  She also tells Holly that a strange man gave her the Zappit for filling out a questionnaire.  Barbara tells Holly that she has heard of the voice of a young, who convinced her to commit suicide.  Barbara also tells Holly that one of her friends may also have a Zappit, which could be dangerous.

At the hospital, Brady switches consciousness with one of the orderlies, named Brooks.  It appears that Brady is using Brooks’ body to hand out Zappits and spy on Hodges.

We also learn how Brady used the Zappit device to control the body and mind of others.  Once Brady discovered his ability to take over the minds of certain other people, he also discovered a game on the Zappit that had an hypnotic effect on certain people.  Brady was able to use this device to take over the body of Brooks and Dr. Babineau, along with other people.

Brady takes over the body of Brooks, and shows up on the doorstep of Dr. Babineau.  He attacks the doctor’s wife, and takes over Babineau’s body, which is younger and stronger than Brooks’ body.

Hodges visits Dinah Scott, one of Barbara’s friends, who also owns a Zappit device.  Hodges learns that Dinah obtained the device as a consolation prize for a missed concert.  The concert was cancelled due to Brady Hartsfield attempting to set off a bomb.  Brady was stopped by Holly, Jerome and Hodges.  Hodges takes the device from Dinah, so that he can possibly use it to track down more clues.  Hodges brings up the fishing game (the game that is being used by Brady to hypnotize people) and confirms that it does indeed have a hypnotic effect.

We also learn that Brady has bribed a woman named Freddi, one of his former coworkers, to accept questionable packages at a condo that has been set up for this purpose.  Freddi begins to suspect that Dr. Babineau is actually her former coworker.  Brady has Freddi execute a computer program that he needs for his future plans.  When he determines that the computer program works, Brady attacks Freddi so that she will remain quiet.

That night, Hodges receives a call from Holly.  Sunrise Solutions, the company that was giving away the Zappit, was not actually a sponsor of the cancelled concert.  Holly also advises to see Barbara, as Barbara is still suffering the effects of Brady’s invasion of her mind.  Hodges also receives a call from Huntley, telling him that Nurse Scapelli, Brady’s nurse who committed suicide the day before, also owned a Zappit.  Huntley also tells Hodges that Martine Stover’s mother had purchased a computer for her daughter, which is not the act of someone planning to commit a murder-suicide.

In the meantime, Brady has completely abandoned his own body and taken oven Dr. Babineau’s mind.  He heads back to Dr. Babineau’s house and speaks to Brooks, telling Brooks that he murdered Babineau’s wife.  Brooks is upset, but Brady tells him that he was hypnotized and unable to help himself.

Freddi regains consciousness.  It turns out that she is not dead, as her pack of cigarettes protected her from Brady’s bullet.  Freddi is hesitant to call 911, she is involved in some illegal activities.  She wants to leave town, but is afraid that Brady will track her down.

Early the next morning, Hodges receives a call from Huntley informing him that Brady has died.  The cause appears to be a suicide, via an overdose of prescription medication.  However, both Hodges and Holly are skeptical that this is the last of Brady Hartsfield.

Hodges places a call to the bankruptcy trustee who had represented Sunrise Solutions.  The attorney tells Bill that he received a call from someone calling himself Myron Zakim, who had bought several Zappit units when the companies assets were liquidated.  Hodges also speaks to Nurse Wilmer, who is skeptical that Brady committed suicide, and tells Hodges that besides himself, the only other person to ever visit Brady was an unrelated woman.

Holly returns to the office with Jerome, and she and Hodges bring Jerome up to speed on what has been going on.  Holly conducts some research, and finds out that there has been some concern over the fishing game on the Zappit, which seems to have a hypnotic effect on some people.

Hodges then receives a call from Huntley, informing him of the murder of Dr. Babineau’s wife.  Huntley also tells Hodges that Brooks has confessed to the murder, and appears to be under the influence of someone or something.  Huntley confirms that the pills found in Brady’s mouth were not ones that he was prescribed, and that there are questions as to how he was able to obtain them.

While inspecting the Zappit, Jerome falls under a trance, and tells Holly and Hodges that he is viewing his own funeral, which is beautiful.

We learn that Brady is using his newfound abilities, along with the program created by Freddi, in order to induce mass suicide.  He tries to invade the mind of a young woman named Ellen, but she is unsuccessful in her suicide attempt, which frustrates Brady.

Holly is able to bring Jerome out of his trance state.  Hodges deduces that Brady is behind it somehow, and that he distributed the devices to the young girls who attended the concert as a form of revenge.  Holly also discovers that there is a new program on the devices that has just become active, and it appears to be a program that encourages people to commit suicide.  Hodges then attempts to trace the source of the program, so that it can be destroyed.

Brady reminisces about how he came to control Dr. Babineau, by blackmailing him (after he had taken over Brooks’ consciousness) in regards to the experimental drugs that were being given to Brady.  Brady uses Dr. Babineau’s body, along with his money, to carry out his plan to induce mass suicide.

Freddi attempts to crash Brady’s mass suicide program but is unsuccessful.  Brady figures out that she is still alive, and becomes furious.

Hodges, Holly and Jerome connect Freddi to Brady, as they spoke to her when they were previously investigating the Mercedes Massacre.  They track Freddi to her apartment, where she is packing her bags, in an attempt to leave town. Jerome discovers the device that is sending the signals to the Zappit devices that Brady purchased, and destroys the device.  Freddi also tells Hodges and his friends that Brady is not dead, and they learn the story of how Freddi came to be involved with Brady and his plan.

In the meantime, a young gay man commits suicide in front of his father, while he is under the influence of Brady Hartsfield.

Holly begs Hodges to shut down the suicide website that has now infected several Zappit devices.  Hodges places some phone calls to the police department, and finds out that Huntley has officially retired from his duties as a police officer.  Hodges is only able to speak to Izzy, who reluctantly agrees to help.  Hodges deduces that Dr. Babineau/Brady may have headed to Dr. Babineau’s vacation home, and makes plans to head there too.

An overweight young woman commits suicide by overdosing on pills, while she is under the influence of Brady.

Hodges and Holly head to Babineau’s cabin, leaving Jerome behind, as they do not want him to be involved in what could potentially be a messy situation.  Hodges and Holly learn of three more suicides that Brady likely had a hand in.

Holly and Hodges arrive on the property and are almost immediately accosted by Brady.  Brady forces Hodges to play the fishing game on the Zappit, telling him that if he scores a certain number of points, he will allow Holly to live.  As Hodges plays the game, he feels Brady invading his mind.

Hodges fights Brady, hitting his face with a ceramic pen holder.  Brady then fires his gun, and shoots Hodges in the shoulder.  Holly regains consciousness, and begins shooting at Brady with her gun.  However, she is unable to get a clear shot, and Brady gets away from her.

However, Brady is not able to run far, as Jerome comes to the resuce in a Sno-Cat.  He tells Holly and Hodges that Barbara told him to come help them, as she thought Brady would kill them.  Jerome runs over Brady with the vehicle, but that does not kill him.  Brady begs for mercy, and Jerome shoots him.  Hodges receives a text message from his daughter wishing him a happy birthday, and passes out.

A few days later, Hodges, Holly, Huntley, Barbara and Jerome celebrate Hodges birthday at the hospital.  Huntley tells of several more suicides and suicide attempts that have occurred due to Brady’s program, but thinks that the situation will be under control soon.  Hodges has begun his cancer treatments, although the prognosis is not good.  However, his friends still have hope for him.

Eight months later, Hodges loses his battle with cancer.  A funeral is held.  Hodges’ company was left to Holly, who hires Huntley so that the detective work can continue.  Jerome and Holly decide to attend a movie, and leave an empty seat between them, so that they may remember their friend.


My Thoughts

Oh, so much to say, and so few words to say it in, unless I want the word count to be sky high in this post…the struggle is real, yo!

In the past, I have thought of the books in the Mercedes trilogy as Bachman books.

As we all know, Bachman faked his death from cancer of the pseudonym, and really works as a guy who drives a funny looking motorcycle and helps out Jax and his friends on the Sons of Anarchy level of the Tower.  Oh, and he likes to take macabre souvenirs…

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And I still think of these books as Bachman books, make no mistake about it.

However, End of Watch had much more of a Stephen King flavor, if you will.

For one thing, there was the supernatural element.

Typically, most of Bachman’s work does not contain anything supernatural. Books like Rage, Roadwork, The Long Walk and so forth are about human fuckery, as opposed to haunted hotels, sewer dwelling clowns, evil shop owners and the long list of other supernatural pests that haunt the King universe.  Human fuckery does play a part in most if not all of King’s work, but there is usually a supernatural backdrop.  Not so in the Bachman universe, as most of his stories can be considered “real world” stories.

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End of Watch still had a “Bachman flavor.”  In other words, we had the real world:  a murderer at large, who posed a threat to a lot of people.

However, enter the supernatural.  The murderer (Brady) now possesses supernatural powers, which make him even harder to stop.  And no, this is not King taking the easy way out, and writing what he knows.  The fact that Brady acquired PSI abilities made the story that much more interesting, and provided that much more suspense, as Hodges and everyone else needed to figure out what was going on in order to put a stop to Brady.

In other words, we have King doing what he does best:  writing a damn good story that we don’t want to put down, until we finish it.

For the record, I should stop being surprised by Sai King.  He may write about the supernatural or the fantastic, but he constantly weaves “real world” issues into his stories, even if they are horror stories.  In The Drawing of the Three, we get a discussion on mental illness, along with racism.  In Insomnia, we discuss aging and how our society treats it (not kindly, for the most part.)  In Misery, we glimpse how fiction can have a huge impact on the reader, and the writer as well.  A novel like The Gunslinger could be considered a good metaphor for addiction.  I could go on.  And on…

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End of Watch is no different.  I was pleasantly surprised at the glimpse I got into Barbara Robinson’s life.  Barbara may have looked like she had everything under control, and had everything a person (or a teenage girl, at any rate.)  But appearances are deceiving, and Barbara is no different.  I understand the pain of not having a peer group quite well, as I don’t find too many other nerds I can relate to (although the internet is wonderful.)  Now, this is not the same a Barbara’s pain, as she is the only African American in her school.  But my heart broke for her when she described how she was treated when she went out on a date with a white boy, and I understood the feeling of disconnect quite well.  Often, we don’t really know what a person may be going through at any one moment, and that someone can appear outwardly happy, but that person is really experiencing a great deal of pain inside.  And this is probably the case more often than not.

King’s description of Barbara Robinson and her inner battles was probably not “necessary” to the story, but it sure did add a great deal of depth to the story.  And that is why King is The Master.

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And we have the character of Holly, who has turned out to be one of King’s most fascinating characters, in this little old blogger’s humble opinion.

With Holly, King has created a strong female character.  And one who we can relate too, as Holly is not perfect.  I would guess that Holly is somewhere on the autism spectrum, given her quirks.  Holly has also suffered her share mental health issues, as she candidly talks about her suicide attempts.

I love how Holly, over the three books, has broken free from her prison.  In Mr. Mercedes, she is almost a minor character, at least at first.  However, she becomes a major player in the chase for Brady, and saves the day at the end, by hitting him on the end.  This allows Holly to stand up to her non-supportive family, and start living life on her terms.

In Finders Keepers, Holly continues to be an integral part of Hodge’s team and life.  She uses her smarts and computer skills to help track down the bad guys, and also keeps Hodges at least somewhat grounded, as she looks after him, in almost the same way that spouse would.

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And in End of Watch, Holly continues to shine.  She talks to Barbara after her suicide attempt, and is the only able to get Barbara to open up (this really was one of the most beautiful moments in the book.)  She fights Brady again.  And she will be responsible for the continuation of Hodges’ legacy, as she the business has been left in her (more than) capable hands after his death.

Will Holly continue to be a presence in the Stephen King universe?  Hopefully, us Constant Readers will be so lucky as to catch another glimpse of her.  But only time will tell.

Then, there is the ending, along with the build-up to said ending.

So let’s talk about that.

Now, when I first heard the title of the final novel in the Mercedes trilogy (which I had to look up the meaning of…gotta love Google!), I cautioned myself not to take anything too literally.

“End of watch” is police-speak for the death of an officer, but this is Stephen King.  He is always full of surprises, right?  The title could mean anything, so don’t read too much into it, right?

Well, sometimes we need to take things literally.  The title to the final book in this trilogy is meant to be taken literally: it is the end of watch for our beloved Bill Hodges.

I was somewhat reminded of this season of Arrow, in fact.  At the beginning of the season, Damian Darhk tells Lance that he will kill his daughter if Lance does not comply.

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And the show teased a funeral of a major character, from the first episode of the season.

But I told myself not to take things too literally.  After all, anything could happen, right?

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Well, it turned out that Darhk’s threat could in fact be taken at face value.  Laurel Lance, aka the Black Canary, was killed, and Damian Darhk was in fact responsible for her death.  In other words, he carried through on his threat.

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And Stephen King also carried through on his threat, with the death of Hodges.  Seriously, the man likes to kill off main characters.  Maybe the tears of his readers provide seasoning for his food?  Well, I guess that’s one way of making sure that chicken turns out right…kill off a major character, and use the tears from your readers as seasoning.  Works every time!

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The second I found out that Hodges had pancreatic cancer (and you know you had to read up until that point to find out what was the matter with him, because, like Holly, you didn’t buy the whole ulcer theory), it felt like I found out that a friend or family member had terminal cancer.

Because that is what Stephen King characters do:  they become friends, or maybe even family.  And finding out that your friend or family member has terminal cancer is hard.  In fact, my heart felt heavy the day I finished reading that part of the book.  And I thought to myself that maybe the title can be taken literally, even though I still held on to a thin thread of hope that somehow Hodges would conquer his cancer.

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Finding out that Hodges had cancer also made the story that much more tense and suspenseful.  I knew that Hodges was ill, but I still wanted him to have the satisfaction of defeating Brady.  Ka is a wheel, as some other King character stated.  It started out with Brady, and it ended with Brady.  And if anyone deserved some closure, it would be Hodges.

I also feared that Hodges would die in his attempt to take down Brady.  And that ending would not have worked for, as that would have meant that Brady would have still won, even if Brady himself died.

But my man did not let me down.  Even while in the grip of terminal cancer, Hodges (and his friends) still managed to kick some major ass.  So Hodges won, and Brady lost.

The last chapter in the book made my eyes just a little bit leaky (seriously, what is wrong with my plumbing these days?)

I had hope that Hodges could beat cancer as well, but deep down, I knew that hope was futile.  But still, there was that tiny glimmer.

So I was saddened at the end, although not too surprised.  Hodges passed on to the clearing at the end of the path.

Holly and Jerome did something beautiful to remember their friend, by placing a popcorn box in an empty seat at the movie theater.

In other words, they saved him a seat.  And that’s what you always do for your friends, as they will always be there, right by your side.  In life and death.

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So this concludes The Mercedes trilogy.  To paraphrase a certain famous King character, ka is a wheel that comes back to where it started.  And that was the case for William Kermit Hodges.  He came back to where he started.  And he ended it in grand fashion.  A true gunslinger, right to the end.

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RIP, Hodges.  You will live in my memory forever.

That’s the great thing about Stephen King characters.  Somewhere out there, there is a Constant Reader discovering his characters for the first time.  And since they are always being discovered, they can never die.

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Join me next week as I review and dissect the underrated gem otherwise known as The Dark Half.

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

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Connections

Just for fun, here are some of the connections to King’s other work that I found in End of Watch:

-Brady’s hospital room is room 217.  Room 217 is a room that has significance in the novel The Shining.

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-Brady awakens from his coma with PSI abilities.  This is similar to what happens to Johnny Smith in the book The Dead Zone.

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-There is a character named Brooks in the novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, which is a part of the collection Different Seasons.

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-Brady’s abilities are similar to the abilities of several other characters, including Carrie White, from the novel Carrie.

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-A pink Zappit device is mentioned.  In the short story UR (part of the collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams), there is a pink Kindle device that is able to access stories and books from alternate realities, along with newspaper articles from the future.

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-The song Don’t Fear the Reaper, by Blue Oyster Cult, is mentioned.  This song is also mentioned in the book The Stand.

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Penny Dreadful: Season 3, Episode 3 Recap and Review

Sometimes, I think that I have become a bit too desensitized.

All these years of reading The Master, watching horror movies, spending some quality time with the merc with the mouth (such a good cure for blah-ness, by the way) and basically being incapable of watching or reading something that does not make me its emotional bitch (thanks, Kurt Sutter and Sons of Anarchy) have left me a bit…apathetic, to say the least.

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Nothing can surprise me, horrify me or gross me out (so I think, at least.)

But I think I have found a cure for my ailment…

You guessed it:  watch an episode or two of Penny Dreadful, as if you couldn’t figure that out!

Finally, I have found something that can manage to surprise me every now and again.

And this week’s episode was no different.  And I learned quite a bit, actually…

Like that a threesome involving Dorian and Lilly will be interesting, to say the least.

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And that if you are a character on this show, and don’t have an alter ego of some type, well you probably won’t survive in this particular universe.

So, let’s get to it, and review and recap this week’s episode of Penny Dreadful, already!

Oh, as always:

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Synopsis

The episode opens with Ethan having a vision of Kaetenay, who is covered in blood.  Ethan awakens in a stable with Hecate, who tells him that she wants him to realize his true werewolf self.

Lilly has tea with Justine, and they watch the police use brutality against suffragette protesters.  Lilly tells Justine that their approach will be different, they will move silently and accumulate power before striking.

Lilly and Justine then return to Dorian’s mansion, where they show Justine her tormentor, who had purchased her to be his whore when she was 12 years old.  They tell Justine that she has choices, and list the man’s crimes against her.  Justine then slits his throat, and has a threesome with Lilly and Dorian.  All three bathe themselves in the man’s blood.

Caliban returns to London.  He sees Vanessa with Dr. Sweet, and smiles, as he is happy that Vanessa seems to have found happiness.  Caliban’s memories of his previous life are also slowly returning, and he remembers that he had a wife and son.  Caliban tracks down his family, who have been forced to move into run-down housing.  His son also appears to be quite ill, but still insists on learning to read and write.  Caliban robs a man of his watch, and leaves the watch for his son’s mother, so that she may sell it.

In America, Ethan and Hecate steal horses so that they may travel across the desert.  In the meantime, Ethan is still being hunted by Inspector Rusk, who now suspects that Ethan has an accomplice.  Rusk also warns the American authorities that occult forces are involved, and it is dangerous not to believe in the occult.  Ethan and Hecate are nearly accosted by the authorities, but manage to escape on their stolen horses.

Vanessa speaks to Dr. Seward and is distraught that the doctor does not fully believe her story.  Vanessa then touches Dr. Seward’s wrist, giving the doctor details about her past, which startles Dr. Seward.

Vanessa also accepts a date with Dr. Sweet, and the two attend a carnival.  Dr. Sweet persuades Vanessa to go into the house of mirrors, although she is reluctant.  Vanessa agrees, and all is well at first.  However, Vanessa encounters one of Dracula’s familiars, who recites morbid nursery rhymes, and tells her that they have met before, when Vanessa was institutionalized.  Vanessa becomes badly frightened, and ends her date with Dr. Sweet, telling him to stay away from her.

Dr. Sweet becomes angry at his familiar for revealing himself to Vanessa too soon, and tells the creature that he wants Vanessa to become completely vulnerable to him.  Dr. Sweet then sets the rest of his vampire familiars on the creature as punishment.

Malcolm and Kaetenay travel across the American Southwest by train, in the hopes of saving Ethan.  Kaetenay tells Malcolm that a great disaster will occur if they do not get to Ethan in time, and that if Ethan can’t be saved, then they must kill him.  Malcolm and Kaetenay then find evidence of the massacre at the saloon, and Kaetenay tells Malcolm that Ethan has an accomplice in Hecate, which makes the situation even more dangerous.

Vanessa returns to Dr. Seward, and demands that she be hypnotized, as she believes that she was tortured when she institutionalized.  Dr. Seward reluctantly agrees to the request, warning Vanessa that some memories are better left as un-recovered.  Dr. Seward then hypnotizes Vanessa, bringing her back to her time in the institution.  Vanessa is then taken back to her time in the institution, where she was locked in a padded room.  An orderly then enters the room, and is revealed to be none other than Caliban, in human form.


My Thoughts

I watch this show on Monday, most of the time.  At the advanced age of nearly 38, 10 PM on Sunday is too late to stay up.

In other words, Tuesday through Sunday are my antsy days, since I have to wait the next episode, which is an unfortunate side effect of actually watching a current show, instead of waiting the five or six seasons until said show is nearly done, and then spending a shameless number of hours binge watching said show…sniff…boohoo…

I constantly think about Penny Dreadful.  This is actually not anything new, but my thoughts seem to a little more intense this season.  And for good reason, since it seems we get a twist in every episode (more on this later.)

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One thing I loved about this particular episode was…you guessed…more of my friend, Caliban, aka the poetry quoting monster!

Caliban has always been a fascinating character to me.  Actually, he won me over completely last season, when he quoted William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence.  Oh, that beautiful monster!

Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 7). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_307_1030

In all seriousness, I was glad that we got more of Caliban in this episode.  The theme of the episode was duality (even the title, Good and Evil Braided Be…shiver) and if anyone knows about dual natures, it is surely Caliban.  Out of all the characters, Caliban is the most knowledgeable, even over Dr. Jekyll.  After all, he has literally lived two lives!

I have never given much thought to Frankenstein’s monster, before this show.  I pitied him, because he did not ask to be created, but was an experiment at the whim of his creator.  I never thought of who he may have been before his corpse was dug up and revived.

Well, until this season of Penny Dreadful, actually.

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So, it appears that The Creature had a life (see what I did there) before he became The Creature.  And by all counts, it was not a happy life.

However, it was still his life, and my heart broke wide open while watching this episode.  Obviously, Caliban loved his son very much, along with his wife.  And now, his memories are starting to come back, and we see that he is something other than a gruesome resurrected corpse (although I knew that all along, anyone who can quote William Blake like that has at least a little humanity.)  He was, and still is, a man who loved.  And I think that his character arc will be fascinating:  will he try to reconcile with his family?  And if he does, how will that go (probably not well, given the fact that this is the Penny Dreadful universe, but still)?  Are we in for more heartbreak?  I think the answer is a resounding yes on that part.

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So, more about Caliban later, when we talk about the ending, obviously.

Again, I want to talk about the visual component of this show.

As always, it was excellent!

I wasn’t too sure about having part of the story take place in America, at first.

But, as usual, my doubts have been proven wrong.

The shots in the desert are quickly shaping up to be one of my favorite parts of this season.

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I am loving seeing Ethan in the desert.  There is just something ominous and foreboding about all that open space.  Maybe it’s because it plays on our fear of the unknown.  It is (or was) unknown territory, and there is always a great of that.  Whatever the case, the show has captured that aspect perfectly.

I also loved the scene in the house of mirrors.  I always hated those as a child, and when watching this week’s episode, I remembered why.

I definitely understood Vanessa’s reluctance to enter that particular attraction.  There is just something about seeing multiple, sometimes distorted, reflections of yourself that is unsettling.  This particular scene brought me back to my childhood, and bonded me to Vanessa even more, as we both also share a hatred of dolls.

Of course, I never encountered a vampire in any of the fun houses I went in as a child.  Poor Vanessa!  And that has to be one of the creepiest things I have ever seen: a bunch of distorted fun house mirrors, along with a vampire reciting a gory little nursery rhyme of some kind, while dropping a huge bombshell on Vanessa…eeek!

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And then the effect was compounded, when the vampire scampered away, but scampered BACKWARDS.  Yes, backwards…why is that so creepy?  I think maybe it is so creepy because vampires are corrupt creatures and are evil.  Evil is the opposite of good, so it would make sense that evil creatures are the reverse of us, and would therefore do everything backwards, including scampering away into the night.  Creepy stuff, regardless.

Christian Carmargo as Dr. Sweet and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 2). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_302_5122

So, we are back to Caliban again.  Let’s talk about this week’s ending.

Really, who on this show doesn’t have a secret identity or past of some kind?

Dr. Sweet is Dracula.  That has been established.

We have Dr. Jekyll.  Need I say more on that?

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(Side note:  with the way this is going, my identity as the Green Arrow is going to get leaked soon…oh, oops.  Hope my secret is safe with both all of you readers).

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Ethan is a werewolf, and we are (hopefully) going to find out just what he did in his previous life.

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And now, we have Caliban.

As I stated before, Caliban is someone who has actually lived two lives.  In the first one, he was apparently a regular dude, with a wife and family.  And now he is resurrected Creature, trying to recover his memories.

Well, he is recovering his memories pretty slowly.  We know that he remembers his wife and kid, but the memories of what he did for a living are taking their sweet time resurfacing.

And his previous occupation has suddenly become much more than a footnote, as he was apparently an orderly at a mental institution.  And not just any mental institution, either.

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Caliban was an orderly at the mental institution that housed Vanessa for a time.  This time appears to be significantly important to Vanessa and the mythos of the series.  In other words, Caliban is no longer an interesting side story.  No, he is now directly tied to the “main” story, and probably in a really important way.

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Something tells me that Caliban played a huge part in Vanessa’s time at the mental institution.  We know that she encountered vampires there, along with other supernatural creatures.

Now, Caliban is a part of this.  And it is likely that he was a part of those encounters.  Did this have something to do with his death?  It is quite possible.  Did this have something to do with Victor obtaining his corpse for his experiment?  Also quite possible.  Did Caliban possibly agree to the experiment before his death?  Again, quite possible.  And I can’t wait to find out where the show takes this.


Well, that’s it for Good and Evil Braided Be.  Join me next week for the review and dissection of the fourth episode of the season, titled Another Demon.

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

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Sleepless in Derry: My Review of Insomnia

Heroes.

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We all have them.  Every single one of us. And if you don’t, you are either lying, or you don’t have blood in your veins and are fueled by ice water instead.

For me, my favorite kind of hero is someone who is not perfect.  Someone with flaws.  Someone with warts.  Someone who may question his/her actions, and who possibly even regrets some of those actions.

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In other words, someone who is human, and not necessarily endowed with any supernatural or other special abilities.

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The best kind of heroes are ones who we can relate too.  After all, life is hardly ever black and white.  Rather, life is gray, and an infinite number of shades at that.  In other words, sometimes what’s right and what’s wrong is not clear-cut.  Often, decisions are made, and second-guessed for many, many years after the fact, even when the consequences have long passed.

Of course, I had many heroes growing up.  And I have a few now.  Batman was one of the early ones.  And then I met Aragorn.  Currently, Oliver Queen is my “show boo,” as Jax Teller is dead to me and Raylan Givens has ridden off into the sunset.

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All are good men.  And all struggle with decisions they have made, even if they believed the decision was for the greater good.  The very definition of a hero in other words.

However, none of these guys come close to my number one childhood hero.  He was a man who often had a lot at thrown at him, but he always stepped up to the plate.  He tried to do what he believed was right, and make the world a little bit better of a place when he could.  He was a human with no special abilities, other than the ability to make me feel loved and protected at all times.

In other words, I am talking about my grandfather.  I was lucky enough to have one set of living grandparents throughout most of my childhood.  My grandparents lived two hours away from us, so I spent a lot of time there as a child.  Most of my best childhood memories involve my grandparents in some fashion.  My grandfather taught me how to fish.  He supported my love of astronomy by getting me a telescope when I was thirteen.  In fact, he supported every one of my obsessions, even though he did not necessarily understand all of them.  One of the few people who loved me unconditionally was my grandfather, and I will never forget that.

Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away nearly 14 years ago.  So all I am left with is memories, and a few faded photographs.  And being able to talk to my grandfather one last time is something that I would seriously consider sacrificing at least one limb for.

But, at least I have my memories.  And my photographs.

And Stephen King.

Stephen King mit Katze "Clovis", tierischer Held des Films "Schlafwandler". Der Meister des Horrors wird am Sonntag (21.09.1997) 50 Jahre. Mit 50 hat er mehr als 30 Romane veröffentlicht, ein Sachbuch, fünf Geschichtensammlungen und neun Drehbücher. dpa (zu dpa-Korr vom 17.09.1997) nur s/w

Yes, don’t forget which blog you are reading!

So, along with writing books I can’t put down, making great characters (who tend to get killed off more times than I care to count) and just generally being awesome, Stephen King is also able to bring my grandfather to life?  Makes perfect sense, right?

Well, yes.  It actually does make sense, and sense goes by the name of Ralph Roberts.

In case you are completely confused at this point, I am talking about King’s book Insomnia, and the primary character in that book, Ralph Roberts.

Ralph Roberts is a bad ass.  He fights supernatural beings and hardly breaks a sweat.  He also stands up to men who beat their wives, choosing to fight for what is right, rather than ignore the serious issue of domestic abuse, which seems to be the socially acceptable thing to do.  Ralph is also a loving, caring man, willing to (literally) risk his life to save the lives of other.

In other words, in Ralph Roberts I have found my grandfather’s literary Twinner, if you will.

The fact that Ralph Roberts is a man nearing 70 who ought to be one step away from the old folks’ home (well, according to our society, at any rate) is merely a minor technicality.

King often writes about the disenfranchised.  And the elderly are just that:  they are forgotten.  Or ignored.  Or even abused and taken advantage of.  To paraphrase a quote from of the characters in Insomnia, growing old is not a job for sissies.

atropos

Insomnia has long been a favorite King work of mine.  Since I am one of the disenfranchised (nerds usually are), I enjoy reading about my own kind, and seeing them kick some major ass.  And Insomnia gives me that in spades:  the disenfranchised kicking some major ass.

And it is the next best thing to spending time with my grandfather.  If I can’t hang out with my grandfather, at least I can visit with his literary Twinner.

So, without any further ado, here is my recap and review of Insomnia.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The book begins by introducing us to an elderly man named Ralph Roberts, who lives in Derry, Maine, with his wife Carolyn.  Ralph has just found out that Carolyn has an inoperable brain tumor and has only months to live.  Ralph is saddened by this, and takes to taking long walks around Derry in order to take his mind off of Carolyn’s health issues.

On one of these walks, Ralph encounters his neighbor, Ed Deepneau, who is involved in a minor car accident.  However, Ed is not acting like himself, and becomes extremely aggressive towards the other driver.  To compound things, a friend of Ralph’s, Dorrance Marstellar, also arrives at the scene and begins making cryptic statements.  Ed becomes convinced that the other driver is hiding the bodies of dead babies beneath the tarp in his truck.

Despite the chaos, Ralph is able to calm his neighbor down, and the other driver tells him that he is transporting fertilizer, not dead infants.  Ed and the other driver decide to work it out among themselves, and Ralph returns home.  When Ralph returns home, he nearly forgets about the incident, as Carolyn has suffered a seizure and is rushed to the hospital.  Once again, Ralph is reminded that Carolyn does not have much time left, and wishes that things were different.

Several months later, Carolyn passes away.  Shortly after the death of his wife, Ralph begins to suffer from insomnia.  However, the kind of insomnia that Ralph suffers from is a bit unusual, in that he suffers from “premature waking”, rather than being a slow sleeper,  In other words, Ralph awakens a bit earlier each day.  At first he dismisses this as a consequence of growing older, but soon his problem becomes so severe that he grows more and more worried.

Ralph tries several home remedies for his insomnia, but none seem to work.  He makes an appointment with his doctor, Dr. Litchfield, but cancels the appointment, as he does not trust Litchfield, as Litchfield misdiagnosed Carolyn’s brain tumors as migraine headaches.  Ralph also notices that Derry has become polarized over a woman named Susan Day, a well-known writer and women’s right activist.  Susan Day is someone who believes that women should have the right to be able have an abortion if necessary, among other things.  Many in Derry are opposed to her politics, but several people are also petitioning her to come speak in Derry.

One afternoon, after yet another sleepless night, Ralph makes a trip to the grocery store.  While he is there, he is greeted by the sight of Helen Deepneau, the wife of his neighbor Ed Deepneau.  Helen Deepneau has been badly beaten by Ed, and has staggered into the grocery store with her infant daughter, Natalie.  Ralph’s tenant Bill McGovern is also at the store, and helps Ralph with Helen.  Ralph quickly decides to call the police, even though Helen begs him not to do so.  Helen tells Bill and Ralph that Ed beat her because she signed a petition requesting that Susan Day speak in Derry.  Ralph becomes angry over Ed’s treatment of Helen, and decides to confront Ed.

When Ralph confronts Ed, he realizes that his friend is now mad.  Ed makes biblical references, and speaks of a being he calls the Crimson King.  Ralph’s confrontation with Ed, however, is interrupted by the arrival of the police, who arrest Ed on charges of domestic abuse.  Ralph speaks to John Leydecker, one of the arresting officers, and learns that Ed will probably be out on bail that night, but in order to be granted bail, Ed will have to agree not to contact Helen.

That night, Ralph tries to relax but is unable to do so.  He attempts to contact Helen at the hospital, but learns that she has banned herself from receiving any visitors.  However, Ralph receives a call from Helen later that night, who thanks him for his intervention.  Helen also tells Ralph that she and Natalie will be staying in a halfway house for victims of domestic abuse, and tells Ralph that she will be in touch.

The months go by, and Ralph continues to experience the insomnia.  He continues to awaken earlier each day, and becomes frustrated.  Ralph tries several home remedies, to no avail.  Ralph also receives a letter from Helen.  Helen tells Ralph in her letter that she is OK, but will be out of touch for a little while as she adjusts to her new life.  Helen also tells Ralph that she plans on divorcing Ed, as he is not the man she though she knew.

One day, Ralph receives news from his tenant Bill McGovern and Lois Chasse (a friend who lives on the same street), that Ed has been arrested.  Ralph promises to watch the afternoon news with them, but makes a detour to the neighborhood pharmacy.  There, he meets a pharmacist named Joe Wyzer. who also suffers from insomnia.  Ralph agrees to meet Joe for a cup of coffee to discuss the insomnia and possible solutions for it.

Ralph and Joe meet for coffee, and discuss Ralph’s problems.  Joe tells Ralph not to worry too much, as he is still basically healthy.  However, while speaking with Joe, Ralph notices that he can see “auras” emanating from the people around him, including Joe.  This worries Ralph, but he tries to dismiss as a trick of his mind, possibly due to the insomnia.  Before Ralph leaves. Joe gives him a card with a name and number for an acupuncturist and makes Ralph an appointment for the near feature.  Joe also gives Ralph his own phone number and tells Ralph to call him if he feels that he needs help.

Later on, Ralph meets Bill and Lois at Lois’ house to watch the afternoon news.  They confirm that Ed has been arrested, and Ralph becomes worried.  Ed has been the frontman for a pro-life group that is protesting the possible future presence of activist Susan Day in Derry.  He tells Lois and Bill about the incident with Ed the previous summer, and they encourage him to relay this information to Officer Leydecker.  Ralph does just that, but is still worried, as he thinks Ed has gone insane.

That night, Ralph receives a threatening phone call from Ed.  Ralph is frightened, but holds his own, and tells Ed that he will not be threatened by him. Ed terminates the call, as Ralph’s reaction was not expected.

The weeks continue to pass by.  Ralph still suffers from insomnia, but looks forward to the appointment with the acupuncturist.  He also receives a letter from Helen, telling him that she has found employment and will be in touch with him again soon.

After he receives the letter from Helen, Ralph wanders to a nearby park and chats with Bill.  As he is talking to Bill, Ralph notices that he can pick up the thoughts of nearby people.  In particular, he notices a little boy named Patrick, who is accompanied by his mother.  Ralph is able to pick up, from the mother’s thoughts, that she and Patrick are trying to avoid Patrick’s father, who has been drinking and can be abusive when drunk.  At that point, Ralph almost tells  Bill about the auras he sees, but thinks the better of it, as he decides he cannot trust Bill with that information.

One morning, Ralph receives a surprise visit from Helen and baby Natalie.  Helen’s friend Gretchen is also in attendance.  While he is speaking to Gretchen and Helen, Ralph realizes that he still see the auras, and that Natalie can also see them.  The three discuss how dangerous Ed has become, especially with his growing involvement in a pro-life group that continues to protest the presence of Susan Day in Derry.  Before she leaves, Helen gives Ralph a can of mace, telling him to use it to protect himself if necessary.

A few days later, Ralph returns home from an errand to find Dorrance Marstellar waiting for him at his doorstep.  Dorrance again speaks cryptically to Ralph, telling him to cancel his appointment with the acupuncturist, and also gives Ralph a book of poetry.  Ralph becomes irritated, wondering why he should cancel an appointment that was so difficult to schedule in the first place.  Ralph also notices that the front door is open, and thinks that Bill has been careless about locking the door again.

The next day, Ralph visits the library to further research insomnia.  However, his research is interrupted when a man named Charlie Pickering attacks him with a knife.  Ralph recognizes Pickering as an associate of Ed Deepneau’s and a pro-life activist.  Ralph is able to counter the attack with the can of mace which somehow happens to have been in his coat pocket.

After he is attacked, Ralph speaks to Officer Leydecker.  Ralph is shaken, but recounts the events to Leydecker.  Leydecker drives Ralph home, and tells him that Ed Deepneau probably will not be implicated in the attack, even though he likely orchestrated it.

When Ralph returns home, he realizes that Dorrance was the one who walked into his apartment, and placed the can of mace in his coat pocket.  Ralph wonders what is going on that is so important, and cancels his appointment with the acupuncturist.

That night, Ralph has strange dreams involving his wife Carolyn, who issues him cryptic warnings.  When Ralph awakens, he happens to glance out the window and sees a very strange sight:  two men, who look like small, bald doctors, are headed into the house of May Locher, another one of Ralph’s neighbors.  Ralph also notices that the men have unusual auras, and that they also have scissors.  Thinking that his neighbor is being robbed, Ralph calls the police but does not identify himself.  When the authorities arrive, it becomes clear that Ms. Locher has actually passed away, and her remains are removed from the house.

The next morning, Ralph gives his formal statement to Officer Leydecker over the incident involving Charlie Pickering.  Ralph also confirms that May Locher did indeed pass away, and begins to question his sanity.

Ralph decides that he will try to tell his friend Bill McGovern about his experiences, and decides to take a walk in his neighborhood before doing so.  When he takes his walk, he sees the auras again, and is dazzled by the beauty of it all.  However, Ralph also sees an unpleasant sight:  another bald doctor.  This one appears more sinister than the other two and frightens Ralph.  Ralph also realizes that the creature has Bill’s missing Panama hat.  Before Ralph can act, the auras and the mysterious creature vanish.  After his walk, Ralph tells Bill about his experiences.  Bill  is dismissive and tells Ralph to see his doctor.  This angers Ralph, and he argues with Bill.  Ralph leaves after arguing with Bill, and walks to the park in the neighborhood where the senior citizens gather.

At the park, Ralph speaks to some of his friends.  People are arguing over the upcoming appearance of Susan Day.  Ralph also finds out that another friend of his is in the hospital, and may succumb to cancer.  Ralph deduces that Ed Deepneau may be taking lessons on flying an airplane, and decides to head to the police station to relay this news to Officer Leydecker.

On his way to the police station, Ralph notices that the neighborhood stray dog, known as Rosalie, is behaving strangely.  Immediately, Ralph connects this with his recent bizarre experiences, and decides to see if he can make the auras appear at will.  Ralph is successful, and is able to see the auras, along with the third, sinister bald doctor.  The creature is calling to Rosalie, but Ralph calls the dog to him instead.  Ralph then confronts the creature and fights it, and it becomes angered, but runs off, threatening Ralph before it disappears.

However, before Ralph can make his way to the police station, he is distracted by the site of Lois Chasse, who is sitting on a park bench and is visibly upset.  In fact, Lois is crying.  Ralph speaks to Lois, in order to comfort her and find out why she is upset.

When he speaks to Lois, Ralph finds out that she has also been suffering from insomnia, and has spoken to her doctor, Dr. Litchfield about it.  However, Dr. Litchfield violated his doctor-patient privilege and told Lois’ son and daughter-in-law about her problems.  That morning, Lois received a visit from her son and daughter-in-law, who tried to convince her to give up her autonomy and move into a nursing home.  The pair of diamond earrings that Lois’ son gave her has also gone missing, lending more credence to the theory that Lois has developed dementia.

Ralph is able to determine a few things after he speaks to Lois.  The first is that he has fallen in love with Lois.  The second is that Lois is also able to see the auras, just like he can.  The third is that Lois’ daughter-in-law has stolen her earrings, in an effort to make Lois look like senile old woman who needs to be in a nursing home.

The conversation is interrupted by the appearance of the creature that Ralph saw earlier, along with Rosalie, the neighborhood stray dog.  This time, Ralph is  also able to make Lois see it, along with the auras.  Ralph and Lois try to fight the creature, but it attacks Rosalie.  However, it does not hurt Rosalie, at least physically.  Instead, the creature snips Rosalie’s “balloon string”, or the lifeline that leads to her aura.  The color of Rosalie’s aura changes to black, and Ralph is able to intuit that Rosalie will probably die soon.

Lois invites Ralph to her house for lunch, so that they can talk about what has been happening to them.  Before he leaves with Lois, Ralph realizes that the creature they saw earlier also has Lois’ diamond earrings, along with Bill’s hat, and becomes frightened.  However, Ralph chooses to keep this information to himself for the time being.

Ralph then tells Lois everything that has happened to him, starting with his encounter with Ed two summers ago.  Lois believes every word, but is not sure what any of it means.  Ralph is also not sure what any of it means, and again becomes frightened, as it seems forces that he does not comprehend are at work.  Ralph and Lois then agree to meet up later that night, and Lois leaves town for a few hours for her weekly card game with her friends.

When Ralph returns home, he finds a note from Bill apologizing for his earlier actions.  He also receives a call from Officer Leydecker.  Leydecker tells Ralph that Charlie Pickering has somehow bonded out of jail, and that Ed Deepneau was the one who bonded him out.

That afternoon, Ralph awaits Lois.  He see the auras, and realizes that he has been “stealing” energy from other’s people’s auras, which explains why people think that he looks younger.  Ralph worries that he has been hurting people by doing this.

When Lois returns from her card game, she tells Ralph that she was able to use her friends’ auras to win the card game.  Lois is also “stealing” from other peoples’ auras, as she also appears younger.

Ralph and Lois’ conversation is interrupted by a car crash.  When Ralph looks outside, he sees that the neighborhood stray dog, Rosalie, has been fatally hit by a car driven by his pharmacist, Joe Wyzer.  The creature that cut Rosalie’s life force appears to torment Lois and Ralph, and also steals Joe’s comb.  Ralph realizes that he must get that comb back, along with Lois’ earrings.

Ralph also realizes that he needs to pay a visit to his friend Jimmy at Derry Home Hospital, and heads to the hospital with Lois.  A woman at the front desk tries to Ralph a hard time about visiting his friend, but he is able to use his new-found telepathic powers to convince her to allow him to visit his friend.

After they enter the intensive care ward where Ralph’s friend is residing, Ralph and Lois are then able to travel to a different level of reality.  They are able to see those around them, but those people cannot see them.  One of the people they see happens to be Bill, whose aura is now completely black.  Lois becomes distressed, but Ralph realizes that nothing can be done for Bill, who will likely die soon.

Ralph and Lois enter Ralph’s friend’s Jimmy’s hospital room, and meet the two “bald doctors” that Ralph had previously see outside May Locher’s house.  The entities state that they have no name, but tell Ralph and Lois to refer to them as “Clotho” and “Lachesis”, after the Fates in Greek mythology.  The two entities also tell him that the third entity that Ralph had previously encountered can be referred to as “Atropos.”

As he speaks to these entities, Ralph becomes more and more angered, due to the chaos that their interference has caused in his life.  However, Cloth and Lachesis tell him that his anger is not justified.  Ralph and Lois watch as the two entities sever the “balloon string”, or life force of Jimmy, who passes on to the afterlife.  After Jimmy passes away, his room begins to fill up with people, and Clotho and Lachesis bid Ralph and Lois to come with them, as there is much to be discussed.

Clotho and Lachesis explain to Ralph and Lois that they are agents of the Purpose, while Atropos is an agent of the Random.  Clotho and Lachesis sever the life forces of people who have been selected to die at a specific time, while Atropos is responsible for those whose time of death is not specific (such as victims of car crashes, fires, etc).  The two entities also inform Ralph and Lois that Bill has now passed away.  This angers Ralph, as he sees the entities’ interference as being responsible for Bill’s death.  He believes that by angering Atropos, Clotho and Lachesis have caused Atropos to target Bill.  Ralph then threatens to walk out on the two entities, as he feels that he has been manipulated.

However, Lois convinces Ralph to hear Clotho and Lachesis out.  Ralph and Lois learn that Atropos has severed the life force of Ed Deepneau.  Ed Deepneau was unmarked:  in other words, Ed served neither the Random or the Purpose, and the fact that Ed has lived so long after his life force was severed means that he is important in some way.  Ed Deepneau is planning to kill the 2000+ people, and only Ralph and Lois have the power to stop them.  Ralph also learns that his and Lois’ auras were altered, which resulted in the insomnia and new found powers, and that his preordained destiny has been changed.

After they return to their own reality, Ralph and Lois set about the task of attempting to prevent Ed Deepneau from committing mass murder.  First, they find out the location of the women’s shelter, using their new found telepathic powers, so that they may speak to Helen Deepneau and her friend Gretchen Tillbury.  Ralph also realizes that the scarf worn by Ed Deepneau contains the Japanese symbol for “kamikaze” or “suicide pilot,” and becomes frightened again.

Ralph and Lois make a brief stop to eat, and then head to the women’s shelter.  When they arrive, they see a large black cloud, or “death bag” surrounding the shelter, and realize that the people there are in danger.  The suspicion is confirmed when they hear Officer Leydecker shouting at Charlie Pickering to surrender, as Pickering has set fire to the shelter and killed several people.  Ralph and Lois use their powers to enter the shelter and lead the women who are trapped there to safety.  Helen Deepneau and her daughter Natalie are among the women trapped in the shelter.  The little boy, Patrick, who Ralph saw at the park a few months prior, is also among the people trapped in the shelter, along with his mother.  Ralph also uses his powers to render Charlie Pickering into a human vegetable, as Lois begs Ralph not to kill Pickering.  Ralph tries to convince Helen to stop the rally at the civic center that night, but she will hear none of it.

As Ralph and Lois leave the shelter, they encounter Doris Marstellar.  Doris leads them to a vehicle, which happens to be driven by Joe Wyzer, who Dorrance has apparently recruited to help him.  Joe drives Ralph and Lois to the civic center, where he drops them off.  Dorrance tells Ralph and Lois that they are involved in something a lot bigger than themselves, and that higher forces are watching them, marking their progress.

At the civic center, a large crowd of women, along with members of the media, is beginning to gather.  However, the “death bag” still surrounds the area, reminding Ralph and Lois what will happen if their mission fails.  Ralph uses his powers to find the trail of Atropos while Lois distracts the people around them.  After he finds the trail of Atropos, Ralph and Lois head to his lair.

Finally, Ralph and Lois find Atropos’ lair, which happens to be the trunk of a dead oak tree.  They descend into the creature’s lair, and immediately notice the large collection of odds and ends that Atropos has accumulated over the years.  One of them is Joe Wyzer’s comb, which Ralph immediately pockets.    However, he still cannot find Lois’ earrings.  As Ralph and Lois make their way through the lair of Atropos, they notice that he has accumulated a large pile of cash, which provides the explanation as to how Ed Deepneau has obtained his money.  They also notice a large “death bag”, or pulsating black cloud.  This cloud contains more items, but these items belong to people who are still living.  One of the items is Helen Deepneau’s sneaker, which Lois ties to her wrist before moving on.

Ralph is also able to slice open the “death bag.”  When he does so, he also finds Ed Deepneau’s wedding ring, and notices that when he removes it, another “copy” of the ring appears in its place.  However, there is only one “real” ring, and Ralph and Lois take that as well.

On the way out of the lair, Ralph and Lois have a confrontation with Atropos, who is not pleased that they have taken Ed’s ring.  Both Ralph and Lois also notice that the creature is wearing Lois’ earrings.  Ralph battles the creature, and is able to take Ed’s ring, along with extracting a promise from Atropos that he will leave Ralph and Lois alone and not interfere in their quest to stop Ed Deepneau from committing mass murder.  However, Atropos shows Ralph a vision of something happening to someone he cares about in the future, which causes great concern for Ralph.

After Ralph and Lois return to their own level of reality, Ralph summons Clotho and Lachesis.  Ralph confronts these two entities, as he feels that they have not been truthful with them.  This assumption turns out to be correct, and Ralph extracts the true nature of his and Lois’ quest from Clotho and Lachesis:  they actually must save a little boy, who will grow up to do something very important.  The little boy is Patrick Danville, and is actually the same little boy Ralph saw at the park and in the basement of the burning women’s shelter.  However, Ralph refuses to help Clotho and Lachesis, unless they will spare the life of someone else who is also important to Ralph.  After some arguing, Clotho and Lachesis finally agree to the deal, and a cut is made on Ralph’s arm.

While Ralph is making the deal with Clotho and Lachesis, Lois is visited by an entity that she describes as “the green man.”  The entity returns Lois’ earrings to her, and Lois gives those to Ralph.  Ralph then prepares to continue on his mission to stop Ed Deepeneau.

Ralph is able to teleport himself to the plane that Ed Deepneau is flying.  However, as he is trying to stop Ed Deepneau, Ralph sees someone that he thinks to be his deceased mother.  But this is not his mother and is actually the entity known as the Crimson King, and the entity forces Ralph to come to his “court,” where he warns Ralph about his “meddling.”  Ralph surprises the Crimson King by stabbing him with Lois’ earrings, and is able to defeat the entity.

Ralph then drops back down to his own level of reality, and distracts Ed Deepneau.  Ralph is able to divert the plane away from the civic center.  Susan Day is decapitated, and several others are killed, but not as many are killed due to Ralph’s actions.  The life of Patrick Danville is also saved, and the Universe breathes a sigh of relief.  Lois reels Ralph into the same level of reality as Clotho and Lachesis, and his life is also saved.

Clotho and Lachesis bid Ralph and Lois goodbye.  Ralph again reminds them of their promise, and the two entities reluctantly agree.

The insomnia is no longer an issue for Ralph and Lois after their adventure, and their lives return to normal.  They get married, and move into Lois’ house, and their lives are more or less happy.  The memories of the incident also begin to fade, and Ralph and Lois no longer remember just what it was that they did, even though they know it was important.

Helen and Natalie Deepneau also lead happy lives after the incident at the civic center.  Helen receives a windfall from Ed’s life insurance policy, and buys a house in Ralph and Lois’ neighborhood.  Ralph and Lois spend much time with Natalie and Helen, and Natalie becomes a grandchild of sorts to them.  Ralph and Lois also adopt a dog, who they name Rosalie.

For the next several years, Ralph and Lois are relatively happy.  However, the insomnia returns to Ralph, and he begins to see the auras again.  Ralph also remembers the promise that he made, and understands that his days are now numbered.

One day, Ralph decides he wants to go for a walk.  However, he knows that something is about to happen to Natalie Deepneau, and that he will die saving her.  Ralph finally confesses what is happening to Lois, and she becomes upset and tries to stop him.  However, Ralph will have none of that, and Lois gives in, and accompanies Ralph on his final journey.

Ralph and Lois then encounter Natalie in front of Ed and Helen’s old house, along with their dog Rosalie.  Ralph’s abilities have returned and he also sees Atropos, who is trying to distract Rosalie to get Natalie’s attention.  This works, and Rosalie runs out into the street.  Natalie runs after the dog and is caught in the path of an oncoming vehicle.  Ralph then throws himself between Natalie and the vehicle, taking the hit that was intended for Natalie, saving her life.

The accident proves fatal for Ralph, and he passes away, with Lois at his side.  Before he makes his final journey, he sees Clotho and Lachesis and his memories of them are awakened.  Clotho and Lachesis also provide some comfort to Lois, as she watches her husband pass on.


 

My Thoughts

Move over, Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris 1

There is another bad ass in town, and his name is Ralph Roberts.

Chuck Norris may not need to turn on the shower because he makes the shower head cry, but Ralph Roberts battled the Crimson King.  And won.

So Ralph wins, as I have yet to hear of Chuck Norris kicking the ass of the Crimson King.  Although I am sure that battle would be epic…swoon…

CK 2

However, as epic as Ralph’s confrontation with the King of Big Bads in all of literature (or at least in the Stephen King universe) was, I think my personal favorite Ralph Roberts moment was when he confronted…wait for it…Ed Deepneau!

Yes, the confrontations with Atropos and the Crimson King were awesome.  Ass kickingly awesome, as a matter of fact.  But I will always remember my man Ralph Roberts for his confrontation with the milquetoast man down the street.

Although Ed Deepneau was not really a milquetoast, as we Constant Readers know.  Far from it, in fact.

But let’s get right down to it:  Ed may have had his life force cut “prematurely” and been under the influence of Atropos and The Crimson King.  And yes, Ed could not have controlled a lot of what happened.  But “a lot of” does not mean “all of.”  As Clotho and Lachesis reminded us, Ralph and Lois had choices.  And so did Ed.

And one of those choices that Ed made was to beat his wife, probably even while she was pregnant.  Somehow, I don’t think that the Crimson King or Atropos had much to do with those choices.

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Ralph also made a choice:  he made the choice to confront Ed, and call him out for beating Helen an inch within her life.  Everyone else had the “deer in headlights” look, but the 70 year man who was only getting a couple of hours of sleep at night became the decisive one.  In fact, the 70 year man who was only getting a couple of hours of sleep at night became the knight in shining armor that day.

And I love Ralph for that.  As a survivor of domestic abuse, I often felt invisible, along with ashamed and broken.  I looked for my knight for a long time, but he never came.  That is proof that we need more of Ralph Roberts in the world:  people who are not afraid to do what is right, despite what the rest of society may think.  People who care about what happens to the little people.  The fall of the sparrow, in other words.

There are so many things about Ralph that are swoon-worthy.  In fact, Ralph Roberts is now one of my “book boos.”

A seventy year old man makes me swoon.  There, I said it.  And I am not ashamed.

In fact, I am proud to call Ralph one of my “book boos.”  Not only did the man save the world (or all of the worlds in all of the universes), he sacrificed his own life, so that Natalie could live, and so that Natalie’s mother would not have to deal with what would have been the extremely painful loss of her only child.  And any man who has those kind of thoughts is a man worthy of being called my “book boo.”

There is the ending to Insomnia.  It gets me.  Every.  Single.  Time.

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With most other writers and most books, it would have ended when Ralph and Lois saved the lives of all those people at the civic center.  The easy thing to do would have been to would be to let Ralph and Lois walk into the sunset, have their “happily ever after.”  And that still would have made for an all-right book.

But we are not reading something by most other writers.  We are reading something written by The Master.  And this ending proves why he has earned the right to be called “The Master.”

In reality, there are hardly any “happily ever afters.”  Instead, tragedy can strike, and sometimes out of nowhere.  Good people are taken from us much too soon, and sometimes, trade-offs have to be made.

One of King’s strengths as a writer is that he is able to juxtapose the realistic with the fantastic.  He does this by creating characters, places and situations that we can all identify with.  Even in a novel like Insomnia, which is actually a dark fantasy.

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And this book is taken to the next level by the description of the last few years of Ralph’s life.  We get to experience the joy and love that Ralph experiences, and we are lulled into a sense of security, and expect a happy ending.

But life is hardly ever fair, and tragedy is always just around the corner.  Many of King’s works, such as Bag of Bones, The Shining and Duma Key, remind of us this.  Insomnia is no different, driving home the point that everything, even an innocent child’s life, comes at a price.  And that price must always be paid, no matter how much that payment hurts.

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Another thing I love about Insomnia is the fact that King gave us another Dark Tower novel.  Now, it may not have Dark Tower anywhere in the title, but that is just a minor technicality, right?

In other words, I consider Insomnia to be the ninth Dark Tower novel that King always wanted to write, even before he was finished with the Dark Tower series.

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Funny how a series can be that awesome, where it inspires its ninth book, when only four of the eight books of the actual series were published at the time.  But such is the scope of the series like this one.  King has said that the Dark Tower series is all encompassing, and Insomnia is a perfect example of that.

I have read this book many times, but every time I read the part about Patrick Danville drawing a picture Roland and telling his mother that Roland is a king too, I shiver.  Literal goose flesh breaks out on my arms.  Roland turning in his blankets under the “alien constellations”.  There is just something about that is mind-blowing to me.  Two old people who should have been ready for the old folks home (at least according to our society) are busy kicking ass, and that ass kicking had a direct effect on Roland Deschain, another ass kicker who Chuck Norris bows down to (or should, anyway.)  Actually, mind blowing does not do that feeling I get justice, so universe blowing, perhaps?

The Crimson King is the ultimate Big Bad in the Stephen King universe, and is ultimately responsible for all of the bad things that occur there (after all, even Randall Flagg has to answer to someone.)  He is mentioned in several works, such as Black House and The Dark Tower series, and ultimately shows up in the last book to do battle with Roland the gunslinger.

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I did enjoy the Crimson King’s appearance in the Dark Tower series, but I think that my favorite representation of the Crimson King is the representation in Insomnia.

The Crimson King is an evil being.  We saw a bit of this in the Dark Tower series, but he also seemed to be a stupid being, which diminished the evil part.  However, in Insomnia, the Crimson King was vicious and evil.  The way he tried to trick Ralph, by pretending to be Ralph’s dead mother…shudder.  And speaking of shudder:  that memory of the catfish that attacked Ralph when he was child and the egg sac that thing contained…eek!  Insomnia is not what I consider to be a scary story by any means (I categorize it as fantasy or maybe even dark fantasy) but that memory reminded me that I was in fact reading something written by the modern day Boogeyman.  And King comes by that title honestly.  Who else could horrify me in a story that is a modern day Lord of the Rings?  The Master, that’s who!


Well, that’s it for Insomnia.  Join me next month as I review the case of life imitating art?  Or is it art imitating life?  In other words, I will be reviewing and dissecting The Dead Zone!

And speaking of the apple not falling far from the tree…

That’s right, Joe Hill, aka The Master 2.0, will also have a book coming out next month…woohoo!  So next month will be busy, as I will be reviewing The Fireman as well!

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

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Connections

As always, all of King’s works are inter-connected.  And much of the fun (at least for me) in reading a King book lies in finding those connections.  Insomnia does not disappoint in that regard.  Here are some of the connections I found:

Insomnia takes place in the town of Derry, Maine.  Derry is the setting for several other King works, including It, Dreamcatcher and Bag of Bones.

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-Mike Hanlon is a minor character in Insomnia.  Mike is one of the members of The Losers Club, a group who banded together as children and later reunited as adults to defeat Pennywise the Clown, in the novel It.

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-Ralph makes reference to the flood that occurred in 1986.  Of course, this was when the Losers Club faced Pennywise the Clown in the novel It for the second time, defeating the monster for the final time.

-Ralph Roberts also makes an appearance in the book Bag of Bones, where he briefly speaks to Mike Noonan.

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-Patrick Danville is a major player in the final Dark Tower book, where he helps Roland defeat the Crimson King.

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-Dorrance Marstellar is referenced by Jamie Morton in the novel Revival.

-Susan Day is mentioned in the book Rose Madder.

Rose Madder 1

-“Ka” (loosely defined to mean destiny) is mentioned several times in Insomnia.  Ka is also a phrase commonly used in the Dark Tower series.

-Patrick Danville is a talented artist, much like Edgar Freemantle in the book Duma Key.

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-Atropos was in possession of a sneaker owned by Gage Creed.  Gage Creed was the son of Louis Creed, both characters from the novel Pet Sematary.

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Keeping it in the Family: My Review of Home

Ah, taboos…

You, the things that “polite” people don’t talk about?

Although the concept of manners does not seem to stop folks like George RR Martin, Stephen King or Clive Barker.  But then again, the rules of earthlings do not apply if you are a god!

Sutter and Martin

And what better way to talk about taboos than to watch an episode (or 20) of The X Files?

Kids today will never know the struggle.  Today, we have Game of Thrones, Sons of Anarchy, American Horror Story, etc.  In other words, shows that push the envelope.  Shows that “go there”.  Or, at least in the case of a certain unnamed show that features a couple of sexy ass bikers, trigger some angry letters from pissed off parents over a “sex montage”

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But I grew up in the 90’s.  It was considered edgy when Jessie OD’d on caffeine pills in Saved by the Bell, for pity’s sake! So if I wanted edgy, I was relegated to sneaking R-rated movies from the video store…this was one of the few instances where early-ish puberty was actually a good thing, since 12 year old me actually did look 17.

saved by the bell

But then, we had The X Files.  And dinner table conversations became interesting, to say the least (at least at my family’s house, which is why I love my family.  Taboo? What’s that)

Every week, it seemed like The X Files “would go there.”  Circus freaks.  Guys that ate human livers.  Cannibals that were ground up and fed to their chickens.  Major-ish characters being killed off…the list goes on and on.

However, no episode of The X Files had ever managed to earn a “viewer discretion” warning.  Chris Carter decided that he could not have this, and brainstormed, until he came up with an episode that would earn that warning…it was a personal milestone!

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And that personal milestone  episode was titled Home.  Home contained lots of familiar elements:  murder, a creepy small town, adorable yet kinda dopey local authorities, along with plenty of blood and gore.  However, Home also addressed one of the biggest taboos of all (well, except for Jamie and Cersei):  incest.  And the products of incest, aka the children born of such unions.  And Chris Carter and the rest of the team were cheering somewhere, because they finally produced something that actually had to come with a warning label, and is rarely even shown in syndication today.  Meeting personal goals is a good thing!

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With that being said, here is my recap and review of the nasty little piece of work, otherwise known as Home.

Oh, as always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The episode begins with a woman giving birth to a deformed baby.  The baby is then buried by three deformed men, in the middle of a rain storm.  The name of the town that these events occur in is Home, Pennsylvania.

Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are sent to the town of Home, PA, to investigate the death of the baby, at the request of the local authorities, who are not equipped to deal with a murder in the normally peaceful town.  The corpse of the baby is discovered by some local kids during a baseball game.

Agent Scully performs an autopsy on the deceased infant.  She discovers that the baby was born with multiple birth defects, but its lungs contained dirt, meaning that the baby was buried alive.  Mulder and Scully speak to Sheriff Andy Taylor about the baby and potential suspects for the murder, and notice that that they are being observed by the people in the house across from the baseball field.  Sheriff Taylor tells Mulder and Scully that the house belongs to the Peacock family, who have lived there since the Civil War.  The house has no running water or electricity, and the Peacock family is self-sustaining, growing their own food and raising animals for slaughter.  The parents of the Peacock family were said to have perished in a car accident a few years prior, leaving only the three sons as survivors.  It is also implied that the family practices incest.

Scully suspects that the deceased baby is actually a member of the Peacock family, and that the men (as there are no known living female Peacock family members) may have kidnapped and raped a woman.  Mulder and Scully investigate the house, and find blood, along with a rusty pair of scissors.  At the request of Mulder and Scully, Sheriff Taylor prepares arrest warrants for the remaining three members of the Peacock family.

That night, Sheriff Taylor is uneasy, and is awakened by car pulling up in the driveway, with loud music playing.  Unable to get to his revolver, Taylor grabs a baseball bat, but is overcome by the three Peacock brothers, who beat the sheriff and his wife to death.

The next morning, Scully and Mulder meet Deputy Paster at Taylor’s house.  The deputy suggests that he and the agents ambush the Peacock house, as he is saddened and angered at the savage death of Sheriff Taylor.  Scully deduces that someone must have told the Peacock brothers about the warrants, as the warrants were issued by telephone and the conversation over the warrants was probably overheard by someone in the house.  Scully also receives the genetic test results from the FBI’s lab, and thinks that a mistake was made, as the tests show an extreme genetic imbalance that she does not believe can be possible.  The results also indicate that both parents were members of the Peacock family, which Scully believes to be a mistake, as she thinks there are no surviving female members of the Peacock family.

Mulder, Scully and Deputy Paster descend upon the Peacock house.  The deputy dons a bullet-proof vest and enters the house, only to be decapitated by one of the many booby traps.  Mulder and Scully distract the brothers by releasing their livestock, and then sneak into the house, weary of the multiple booby traps.

When they enter the house, Mulder and Scully encounter the Peacocks mother.  She is living underneath one of the beds, and is missing both arms, both legs and most of her teeth.  However, she is coherent enough to indicate that she is not being held against her will, and that she believes her sons to be in the right, despite the fact that they have murdered two people.

The Peacock brothers realize that they have been tricked and rush into the house, attacking Mulder and Scully.  After a struggle, the agents are able to kill two of the brothers.  However, they then realize that the oldest brother, Edmund, has escaped with the Peacock mother.  Mulder and Scully then issue an arrest warrant for Edmund Peacock, and block the roads out of town, in the hopes that he cannot escape and will be caught to face justice.

At the end of the episode, Edmund Peacock is seen driving a stolen vehicle, with his mother in the trunk.  His mother tells him that they must find a new home, so that they can start a new family.


My Thoughts

Home is tasteless.  And disgusting.  And just plain nasty.

In other words, I love it.  One of my favorite episodes of The X Files, in fact.

First of all, let’s talk about the gore.  Gore is not necessarily taboo, but this was a cable show from 90’s.  See the above post about Jessie and the caffeine pills.

So, yes, I was pretty impressed with the gore, after I decided to take a trip down memory lane and watch this episode again.  Some of it may seem tame by today’s standards, when shows like Sons of Anarchy depict people being burned alive and Jax going crazy with his metal pipe, like it’s going out of style.  But I think that the killing of the sheriff and his wife would be unsettling even today, as the manner was so brutal.  That scene made me a little jumpy…I know I won’t forget to lock my door any time soon!

The booby traps set by those Peacock boys were ingenious, to say the least.  They say everyone has a talent.  That must mean everyone, even genetic mutant freaks:  their talent is setting booby traps to kill unsuspecting law enforcement officials.

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Another thing I love about this episode is that it is chock-full of “Mulder-isms.”  You know, the silly little one liners, delivered in Duchovny’s usual dry manner, the manner that only he can pull off?  Telling Scully that the Mulder family passes the “genetic muster.”  Changing his mind about moving to the country, since he can’t watch the Knicks game.  This is one of the few episodes of this show that I actually find frightening, and Mulder’s humor lightened things up just a little bit.

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Ok, let’s get to the good part…

Yes, the taboos…

And there were so many of them…let me count the ways…

First of all, infanticide.  That is a subject that makes people pretty uncomfortable, and for good reason.  What person who has a beating heart would not be uncomfortable with the death of a baby?  Especially the deliberate murder of a baby, even if the said baby is deformed beyond belief and probably doesn’t have much of a chance anyway (see post about the genetic tests run by Scully, which seem to come back with results pretty quickly, even for TV time).  Seeing a baby die, much less murdered, is pretty awful.  And the way that they evidence was disposed of was pretty callous:  the corpse was buried in a field and then found by kids, of all people.  And the corpse was not implied, the producers actually showed a good bit of it.  In other words, definitely not your typical 90’s TV fare, or even TV fare of today…but you knew that!

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And we have…

drum-roll-please

Yes, the incest!  You know that’s what you want to talk about here!

There are not too many taboos in modern society.  Our culture has loosened up, at least somewhat.  But incest remains a taboo to this day, and likely will remain a taboo for a long, long time.  And for good reason:  human beings are not meant to procreate with other human beings who are closely related to them.  Apparently, there is this whole thing about a gene pool and yada, yada, yada.  So most “civilized” societies have done everything they can to make incest unappealing:

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Granted, he looks harmless, but I would say this guy is pretty unappealing.  Or maybe appealing in an extremely douchey kind of way.  I must say, purple is his color, though!

All kidding aide, incest makes people uncomfortable, even though it was actually practiced for centuries, and still is practiced in many parts of the world today.  But somewhere along the way (well, probably when folks figured out that when they went outside the family, they were less likely to pass down pesky conditions such as hemophilia), incest became something outside of the norm, and we were taught to fear it.  In other words, something that is feared that much becomes great fodder for horror movies…

And a certain TV show centering around a couple of hot FBI agents.

The X Files just reinforced our fears of incest.  Would you want to meet these guys in a dark ally?

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These guys had no morals.  None at all.  They murdered people.  They dropped trou on command for mommy dearest, in the name of continuing the family tree (well, I think that tree would not actually be a tree, more like a circle, but you get my point).  They were implied to be “not all there”, but were actually pretty cunning for “not all there” (see the post about talent and ingenious booby traps).  In other words, they personified the incest taboo, reinforcing the fact that we are now “civilized” and have discontinued the practice, if we are smart.

And if you were looking for the ending of this particular episode to help settle your nerves, well then, I have some bad news for you…

The X Files has its share of ambiguous endings (Chinga, cough, cough), but the ending to Home is just downright unnerving.  For one thing, the body count.  I know The X Files is scary, but some truly innocent lives were lost:  a baby, a sheriff and his wife and a deputy.  And these people were all murdered in pretty horrible ways:  being buried alive, beaten to death and decapitated by a booby trap.  Sure, Mulder and Scully lived to fight another day, but I got no sense of victory  from this episode…

Which brings me to my next point…

The bad guys won!  Sure, two of the three Peacock brothers were taken down by Mulder and Scully (barely) but the family still survived, since the third brother managed to escape, along with mommy dearest (they probably discovered the joys of car sex too).  So now they are able to keep it in the family, and produce more monsters somewhere else.  And if anyone else tries to bring them to justice for their crimes, he/she will probably have a fate similar to that of Sheriff Taylor.  And that is a comforting thought (sarcasm font activated for your reading pleasure).

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Well, that’s it for it my thoughts on the family friendly episode otherwise known as Home.  Join me next week as I run away to join the circus.  Well, not really but I am doing the next best thing:  watching and reviewing Humbug!

Tune in next week:  same Bat time, same Bat channel!

batman and robin

All Dolled Up: My Review of Chinga

Oh, Friday nights in high school…

Those were the days, I tell ya…

So fun and carefree!

I got hang out with possessed dolls and try to solve cases which clearly involved alien abduction.  I encountered a few circus freaks, too…

And my partners were just so hot, too…

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We even encountered kinky stuff, like Amish-like people who were able to make people super horny, and even some incest…ewww!

Well, this wasn’t what I actually did on Friday nights when I was in high school…don’t I wish!

Instead, I did what every other kid with a ridiculously full social calendar did:  I watched The X Files.  In fact, I was an X Phile…

And if that is not the coolest fandom name ever, then we are done and we are not friends!

But, I digress.  The X Files may have started out as one of those “cult” shows (but not like a regular cult, it was a cool cult), but it soon became huge.  And people started wanting a piece of the action.  In fact, many famous people either got their start on the show, or simply made guest appearances.

Or in one case, received credit as a guest writer…

Stephen King

Yes, The Master is credited with an episode of The X Files…is there anything he can’t do (wait, more on that later, actually)?

Stephen King and Chris Carter decided to have a baby together  write an episode of The X Files together, and that baby  that episode is known as Chinga.  Chinga is set in a small town in Maine (really, I know) and tells of a mysterious doll that seems to be causing the deaths of people in the town.  Well, at least that was my memory of it, any way.

And I love Stephen King (Captain Obvious strikes again) and I love The X Files.  Even better, The X Files will be renewed again in January 2016, for a paltry six episodes (although I will take what I can get).  But I got to feeling nostalgic, and wanted to jog my memory a bit.  In other words, I wanted to take a trip down memory lane, and watch some of these old monster of the week episodes that I have not been able to forget.

Luckily, we have Netflix, which is either my greatest blessing, or the bane of my existence (anyone who has “binge-watched” something Sons of Anarchy  to the point where he/she neglects everything, like housework and showering, will catch my drift).  So I loaded up the Netflix, employed my trusty friend Google, and…

Side note:  Typing in The X Files into the Netflix search box yields some rather…interesting…results.  And this is the kind of interesting that involves naked women and floppy dildos.  Must have been Netflix evil twin Sexflix at work…

But anyway, I found several seasons of the show, including the specific episode I was was looking for.  And I settled on my couch, with my blankie and kitty, and took a stroll down memory lane.

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So, without any further ado…here is my recap and review of Chinga!


 

Synopsis

The episode begins with a mother and daughter making a trip to the grocery store.  We are told that the events take place in a small town in Maine.  The little girl has a doll, which she appears attached to.  And the mother appears nervous, but makes her way into the store.  The doll speaks, saying it wants to play.  Suddenly, the people in the grocery store begin to scratch their own eyes and make themselves bleed.  They appear to be controlled by something else.  The mother sees an image of a dead man reflected in the glass, and hurriedly exits the store.  In the meantime, the local butcher stabs himself in the eye.   The wound proves fatal, and the local authorities are called.  Before he dies, the butcher sees what appears to be the shadow of an over-sized doll.

Agent Dana Scully is shown exiting her car in the same small town, presumably to pick up supplies.  She receives a call from her partner Agent Fox Mulder on her cell phone, but hangs up on him, telling him that she is on vacation and will not be distracted by “shop talk.”  However, Scully sees the scene unfolding at the local  store, and offers her help to the local authorities.

Scully reviews the footage of the incident at the grocery store with the police chief, John Bonsaint.  She also confers with Mulder, who thinks the incident may actually be witchcraft in some form.  However, Scully notices that woman and little girl, Melissa and Polly Turner, are unaffected by the incident and suggests that the authorities question them.

The sheriff’s deputy, Buddy Riggs, tells Melissa that the authorities may question her and tries to help her.  He buys Polly an ice cream sundae, and tries to convince Melissa to leave town.  Melissa is reluctant, and tells Buddy that she has seen images of violent deaths, including that of her husband, before they occur.  While the adults are talking, Polly asks for more cherries on her sundae.  The ice cream parlor employee tells Polly that she will need to pay for the cherries, which upsets Polly.  The doll again talks, saying it wants to play.  The employees hair becomes caught in one of the machines, and she is nearly decapitated until Buddy rescues her.  Buddy hands Melissa the keys to a remote cabin, and again advises her to leave town.

While reviewing the surveillance footage with the local police, Scully learns that the ancestors of Melissa Turner were accused of witchcraft.  Scully and the local authories visit Ms. Froehlich, the owner of a local daycare formerly attended by Polly Turner.  Ms. Froehlich also accuses Melissa Turner of witchcraft and is not cooperative with the authorities.  Scully speaks to a man who was the partner of Melissa’s deceased husband, a local fisherman.  The man tells Scully that the death of Melissa’s husband may have been a bit unusual, but is convinced that what he saw was a trick of the light.  Scully learns that Melissa’s husband had found the doll in one of his fishing traps, and gave it to Polly as a birthday present.  Scully and the local authorities also drop by Melissa’s house, but find no one home.

Melissa and Polly make their way to the cabin.  They encounter a park ranger, which makes Melissa nervous.  Polly demands to go home, and the doll speaks again.  Melissa sees a vision of a dead Ms. Froehlich, and immediately turns the car around and heads back home.  In the meantime, Ms. Froehlich has killed herself in a gruesome, using pieces of broken records to cut herself.  She has also seen what appears to be the shadow of a large doll before her death.

Melissa and Polly return home, and Polly becomes demanding, making Melissa nervous.  Buddy also visits, and chastises Melissa for returning, and also telling her that she nearly ran over the park ranger.  Melissa sees a vision of a dead Buddy, and the doll forces him to bludgeon himself to death.  Melissa then sees a dead version of herself, and attempts to burn down the house.  However, the doll extinguishes the matches and she is unsuccessful.

Scully and the sheriff return to Melissa’s house and attempt to enter.  The sheriff finally breaks down the door, and they enter and find Melissa involuntarily bludgeoning herself with a hammer.  In an act of quick thinking, Scully seizes the doll from Polly and puts in the microwave, burning it.  This act seems to break the spell, and Melissa does not kill herself.

Scully returns to work, and finds Mulder in his office.  He tells he was productive while she was gone, but it is clear that he missed her.  In the meantime, another fisherman finds the Chinga doll, who is burnt almost beyond recognition but still turns up in a trap.


 

My Thoughts

So…

Let me clear the air…

And I will just come out and say it…

Chinga is just…bad.  There, I said it.  And let me allow a moment for the collective fandom to beat me with the virtual wet noodle.

Whew, ok now that you’re done beating me with that wet noodle (geez, you can go a little easier next time), let’s talk about this episode, and what worked, and what didn’t.

Now, I love The X Files.  I love Christ Carter.  And I LUUUVVVV Stephen King!  So X Files + Stephen King = one blissed out nerd, right?

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Well, not for this nerd.  There are some things I just love…

Like chocolate chip cookies.  Macaroni and cheese.  But a chocolate chip cookie macaroni and cheese casserole?

No, I think I will pass.  Love those two things, but if you put them together, who can swallow that concoction?

And to me, this episode was a concoction that I just couldn’t swallow.  In other words, we put chocolate chip cookies and macaroni and cheese together, and just got something weird and kind of gross too.

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Normally, weird and gross are good, especially when associated with The X Files and Stephen King.  But Chinga was not the good kind weird or gross.  No, it was weird.  And gross, too.

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First of all, the acting.  And I am not talking about the acting of the front runners, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny.  They were…well, they were Mulder and Scully.  And I can’t really fault them for that.  But they stuck out like sore thumbs in the weird conglomeration of Chris Carter and Stephen King.  And I am not sure that Mulder and Scully belong in the King Universe, as awesome as they are.

The townspeople, in terms of acting, were uneven at best.  The woman who played Melissa sounded like she was reading lines from a cue card, and throwing in some occasional tears, to induce sympathy (note:  didn’t work, better luck next time, perhaps).  The rest of the townspeople were just flat at worst, caricatures at best (especially that scene where the sheriff orders a lobster in the restaurant and tries to convince Scully to try the delicacy…really?!)

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Which brings me to my next point.  In any Stephen King book, the town is just a much a developed character, if not more of a developed character, than the people in the story.  ‘Salem’s Lot, It, Needful Things and several other books immediately come to mind.  However, the town in Chinga does not have the personality of any of King’s other towns.  So Chinga is missing one of the great things about King:  a small town with its own personality and dark secrets.

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Ok, the rant is over for now.  Believe it or not, I did like something about this episode.

Someone, actually…

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Yes, Scully was favorite part of this episode!

Now, I may refer to Mulder as one of my show boos, which he is (sorry Raylan and Jax, hope you don’t get too jealous).  But I think my favorite part of The X Files was (and still is) Scully.  She made science cool.  She was a bad ass who chased down bad guys (and girls) in her heels, and there was rarely a hair out of place.  And a fellow soul eater…er…red head.  She gave hope to me, and if I can ever be half as cool as Scully, I will consider my life to be an unparalleled success.

And this episode was heavy on the Scully.  As stated before, I love Mulder.  But seeing him get hung up on (gotta love those 90’s cell phones, yo) and rebuffed for the umpteenth time was priceless.  Usually, Mulder is spot on, but for this episode, he was an epic fail, which was hilarious!

Who saved the day in this episode, you ask?  Why, Scully of course!  Even though the method was a little lame (the microwave?  Really?  Is this a doll or gremlin?), Scully was the one to defeat the bad guy er doll, and presumably, have everyone live happily ever after (although the vague ending may bring questions to that scenario).  And Scully showed us all just how much of a rock star she really is.

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Now, I may have said that Chinga was bad, which it is.  But bad can also be good.  Like Batman.  And sex.  So Chinga falls into the category of things, like sex and Batman, that are so awesome that even when they are bad they are still good.  And there is nothing wrong in indulging in good bad.  In fact, it even warms the soul.

Join me next week when I review and dissect Home, the episode so terrifying that (supposedly) no network will air it any more…tune in next week:  same bat time, same bat channel!

batman and robin

Picture This: My Review of Duma Key

Art is life.

Life is art.

Art imitates life.

Life imitates art.

Art…well…

Anyone who knows me knows that art is extremely important to me.  It is one of my favorite forms of expression.  I am always drawing, painting, woodburning, glass etching…

So I guess I am a little obsessed…this guy might understand something about that…

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But art has kept me.  Kept me from losing my mind when my ex had legal troubles of the worst kind, and that was all he would talk about, day in and day out.  Kept me from feeling completely worthless after I finally left my ex (yes, the same one), and going out of my mind with loneliness.  Recently, I had to euthanize my poor 15 year old dog Igloo, who had been my best friend for about the same length of time.  This was one of the most agonizing decisions that I had to make, and I questioned it constantly, never sure that I was doing the right thing, even though I saw the gratitude in her eyes at the very end.  The next night, I finished a woodburning piece with the phrase “Stand and be true” included on it.  The irony was not lost on me, reminding me once again that coincidence had been cancelled.  The tears came, but it was cathartic and I needed it.  Once again, art healed me when I was at my most broken.

critters 1 007

So, art has kept me.  Kept me in the land of the living when it seemed nothing else would.  And I imagine that is true for most creative people.  We may appear to be escaping, but really, we do it so that we can stay engaged with “the real world.”  And art, of any kind (literature, paintings, comic books, you name it), is just one of the few things that makes “the real world” just a little less cold.

And one those things that makes our world a little less could is…wait for it…

Yes, a Stephen King book!

Stephen King

Don’t be surprised, it is this blog, after all.

The art of Stephen King has been making my world brighter for the past 25 years, and I imagine that he has been brightening the worlds of many, many other folks as well.  He is an artist, and much needed warmth in our world.

I am also sure that, like most other artists, King needs his art to stay engaged, especially after the horrific accident that nearly claimed his life.  I would like to think that thoughts of writing more books and finishing his magnum opus helped to keep him engaged with “the real world”, and provided a source of healing for him when he needed it the most.

Enter the novel, Duma Key.  On one hand, it is a ghost story…Perse on her ghost ship…shudder.  But on the other hand, Duma Key is about art, and the healing qualities that art can have on the human spirit.  Once again, King has taken the ghost story, and elevated it so that it is no longer a ghost story, but something far more than the tale of a haunted island.  But then again, we are talking about The Master, after all!

Without further ado, here is my recap and review of Duma Key.

Oh, and don’t forget:

Homer spoiler


 

Synopsis

At the beginning of Duma Key, we are introduced to a man named Edgar Freemantle, or Eddie.  Edgar is a seemingly ordinary man:  he is married, owns a successful construction company and is the loving father to two children, Ilse and Melinda.  However, all of that changes when Edgar is in a near fatal accident on a job site, when his truck collides with a crane.  As a result of that accident, Edgar loses his right arm.  He also suffers severe brain damage, and his personality undergoes a drastic change for a time.  Edgar is unable to control his anger after the accident and stabs his wife Pam with a plastic butter knife, and also tries to choke her.  Edgar also has trouble with language, and is unable to find the right word for common objects and even the people he loves.  This contributes to his anger problems, but Edgar undergoes much therapy and slowly begins to recover.  However, Edgar’s marriage never recovers from the fallout of the accident, and Pam files for divorce shortly afterwards.  Edgar is devastated, but understands how Pam feels and does not contest the divorce.  Edgar also begins seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Kamen, who gives him a doll to use as a punching bag for his rages.  Edgar names the doll Reba, and becomes attached to her.  Dr. Kamen suggests that Edgar consider a geographic change. Edgar agrees, and decides to temporarily re-locate to Florida from his Minnesota home, and picks a house on the island of Duma Key, located off the coast of Florida.  Dr. Kamen also suggests that Edgar take up a hobby to keep his mind off of his injuries and other problems.  Edgar remembers that he used to enjoy drawing, and packs his art supplies when he moves.  Money is no object, as the success of Edgar’s construction company will allow him to live out the rest of his life in comfort.

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We are also introduced to a small girl who seems to have suffered a similar injury to Edgar’s, but the events are indicated to have taken place many years ago.

Edgar arrives on the island of Duma Key and is introduced to Jack Cantori, a college student who will be driving Edgar to places he needs to go, and also assisting him with duties such as grocery shopping.  Edgar immediately likes Jack and is glad to have his assistance.  Edgar also falls in love with his rental house on first sight.  The house is nicknamed “Big Pink”, and Edgar finds immediate peace in his surroundings.

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Edgar continues to convalesce at Big Pink and Duma Key.  He also continues to hone his drawing skills, sometimes adding in a surreal element to his work.  Many people, including his psychiatrist, Dr. Kamen, tell Edgar that he has a real talent and should consider a second career in the arts.  Edgar walks on the beach, which helps him with his mobility and makes him less dependent on pain killers.  On the beach, he sees a middle aged man and elderly woman, and the man waves at Edgar every time he sees them.  Edgar also finds out the his daughter Ilse has a new boyfriend, and is somehow able to draw a picture of the young man, even though he has never seen him.  Edgar  finds out that Ilse is engaged, through his clairvoyant visions.

Ilse visits Edgar shortly after Christmas, and the two take a drive on the island to the lone other house on the island.  However, this drive does not go well.  Ilse becomes violently ill and Edgar’s missing limb begins to madly itch.  Edgar is able to drive his daughter back to the house so that she can recover.  While Ilse is resting, Edgar is overcome with an urge to draw, and draws a picture of what appears to be his anger doll Reba surrounded by an ocean of tennis balls.  Ilse is impressed with the drawing, so Edgar gives it to her, naming it The End of the Game. Edgar receives a call from the owner of the other house on the island, an elderly woman named Elizabeth Eastlake.  Elizabeth is kind and cordial to Edgar, but warns him that Duma Key is a dangerous place for daughters, and to immediately send Ilse away from the island. Ilse also confirms that she is indeed engaged to her new boyfriend, and Edgar experiences a sense of dread, and thinks that Ilse is moving too fast in her relationship.  Ilse also convinces Edgar to invest in some paints and canvases, which he does after dropping her off at the airport so that she can return to college.

After Ilse leaves, Edgar continues to hone his craft, becoming better and better at painting.  He also researches limb loss and “phantom limb syndrome”, and finds out that there are others who have experienced strange happenings after the loss of a limb.  Edgar asks Pam for a pair of her old gardening gloves, telling her that he wishes to include those in one of his paintings.  However, he is really trying to find out if Pam is dating another man by using his clairvoyant abilities.  Edgar continues his walks on the beach, and the middle aged man tells him to come join him and the elderly woman when Edgar is able.

We also learn more about the young girl who suffered a head injury years ago.  The young girl has also developed the ability to produce extraordinary drawings that sometimes predict events that the little girl could have no knowledge of.

Edgar decides he wants to use Pam’s gloves to try paint his ex-wife.  He almost talks himself out of the attempt, but falls down on the floor.  However, when he falls, he is able to touch the floor and save himself with his missing right hand.  Edgar then appears to become possessed, and produces a painting of ex-wife.  The painting reveals that Pam has had a relationship with a man in California who lives in her parents’ neighborhood.  Edgar also learns that Pam has had an affair with his friend and accountant, Tom Riley.  Edgar is upset by this vision, but tries to forget about it and move on.  He titles the painting “Friends With Benefits.”

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Edgar finally makes the acquaintance of the middle-aged man that he has seen while walking on the beach.  The man is named Jerome Wireman, but tells Edgar that most people call him “Wireman.”  In talking with Wireman, Edgar learns more about the island and its peculiar history.  Wireman tells him that his employer, Elizabeth Eastlake, owns the house Edgar is renting and a few other properties.  Wireman also informs Edgar that his rental house has been occupied by several artists, the most notable name being Salvador Dali.  Wireman invites Edgar to come visit him at Elizabeth’s Eastlake’s home, and Edgar agrees to take him up on the offer sometime.

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When Edgar returns home, he receives news that a local art dealer wishes to look at his paintings, which makes him nervous.  However, Edgar does not cancel the appointment, as he has promised his daughter that he would meet with the art dealer.  Edgar also sees a vision of his friend, Tom Riley.  Tom appears to be dead, and Edgar thinks that he will commit suicide.  Edgar is unable to reach Tom, but is able to reach Wireman.  Edgar tells Wireman that he needs to talk, and Wireman invites him for a visit the next day.

Edgar visits Wireman and tells him of all the strange happenings since he moved to the island, including his vision of Tom Riley.  Wireman tells Edgar that he must talk to Pam about Tom Riley, even though the conversation may be uncomfortable and that Pam may not believe his story.  Edgar also meets Elizabeth Eastlake, who immediately knows that Edgar is an artist, and shows him a sketch that Salvador Dali had given her when he stayed in the house.  We also learn that Elizabeth has Alzheimer’s disease, and is not always of clear mind.  Before he leaves, Edgar reads to Elizabeth from a book of poetry, as she enjoys being read to.

Per his promise to Wireman, Edgar contacts Pam in regards to Tom Riley.  Pam is upset, but when the phone call ends Edgar is certain that she will act in regards to Tom.

There is a storm that night, and Edgar produces another painting that is of seashells on the beach, but also contains roses.  Edgar also has a vision of Wireman, and realizes that Wireman attempted suicide in the past but was not successful.

Jack, Wireman and Edgar head to the local gallery so that an art dealer can look at Edgar’s paintings.  The meeting is a success, and patrons offer to buy Edgar’s work on the spot.  Edgar also catches the attention of a local art critic named Mary Ire.  Jack, Wireman and Edgar go out to a nice restaurant to celebrate.  On the way home from the restaurant, Wireman suffers a seizure, and Edgar becomes worried.  However, Wireman brushes off Edgar’s concerns, and refuses to speak of his past.  Edgar also receives another message from Elizabeth Eastlake on his answer machine that night, again warning him that the island is not a safe place for his daughter.

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The days pass, and Edgar continues to work on his painting.  He receives a call one day from Pam, who has confronted Tom Riley in regards to his intent to commit suicide.  Pam is angry with Edgar, and does not believe that he has clairvoyant powers.  Edgar tries to convince Pam otherwise, but she will not listen to him.

One afternoon, Edgar agrees to watch Elizabeth because Wireman is busy.  He discovers photos and information in regards to the Eastlake family.  He is also able to draw a picture that shows details of Pam’s life, such as her new television and her new cat.  Edgar relays this information to Pam, but she is still angry and accuses him of spying on her.

Edgar receives a frantic call from Wireman one afternoon.  Wireman has lost the vision in his left eye, and Edgar rushes him to the doctor.  The doctor tries to keep Wireman in the hospital, but Wireman refuses, as he knows his condition is deteriorating.  Wireman tells Edgar about the accident that caused his problems:  he attempted to commit suicide after the death of his wife and daughter, but was unsuccessful, as the bullet was deflected by an apple on his kitchen table.  However, the bullet lodged in his brain, causing his current problems.  Edgar and Wireman also hear of a man named George “Candy” Brown on the news.  Candy Brown was caught abducting a little girl on a mall video camera, and later murders the little girl.  Both men are horrified by the story.

That night, Edgar returns home and tries to sleep.  He is awakened in the middle of the night by the itching on his missing right arm.  Edgar then paints a picture of Candy Brown and the little girl he murdered.  After he is finished, Edgar returns to sleep, the itching in his missing arm gone.  The next morning, Edgar receives a call from Wireman.  Candy Brown passed away his sleep in his jail cell.  The official cause of death is sleep apnea.  Edgar again looks at his painting of Candy Brown, and notices that he painted the accused murder with no mouth or nose.

Edgar realizes that his paintings can alter reality, and that he may be able to help Wireman.  He takes one of the x-rays of Wireman’s brain that shows the bullet that has been lodged in his head for so many years.  He paints a picture of Wireman’s brain minus the bullet, and receives a call from Wireman that his headaches, which he had suffered from ever since his suicide attempt, have disappeared.  However, Wireman still does not have full vision in his left eye.

Realizing that there is more work that needs to be done, Edgar begins to paint Wireman’s portrait.  He also accepts the offer from the local art gallery, and makes plans to invite people, including Pam and his daughters, to his first show.  Edgar begins a series of paintings that he titles “Girl on Ship.”  He realizes that the “girl” is actually his daughter Ilse.  As he paints the ships, he begins to see lettering, namely a P, E and R.  Edgar wonders what the lettering spells, and is determined to find out what these letters will spell out.

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One night, Edgar continues working on Wireman’s portrait. He paints in a frenzy, and has another vision after he is done painting for the night.  He sees two little girls, whom he recognizes as the ghosts of Elizabeth’s deceased twin sisters.  Edgar faints.  When he awakens, he receives a telephone call from Wireman, who tells Edgar that his vision has been restored.

Edgar makes his opening speech to introduce his artwork.  He is nervous at the beginning, but discovers that Dr. Kamen, his psychiatrist from Minnesota, is in the audience.  The speech is a success, and people are demanding that he sell his paintings.  Edgar catches the attention of Mary Ire, a local art critic.  Edgar meets with Ms. Ire, and learns that Elizabeth Eastlake may have also been an artist as a child.

Finally, it is the night of Edgar’s show.  Edgar has made sure that his close friends and family will be attending, but not staying on the island of Duma Key.  Per Elizabeth Eastlake, Edgar also instructs the art gallery to sell his “Girl In a Ship” paintings to separate buyers.

Edgar’s show is a huge success.  He is able to sell all of all paintings, bringing in nearly half a million dollars.  Edgar’s ex-wife, daughters, psychiatrist, Wireman, Jack and even Elizabeth Eastlake attend the show.  However, tragedy strikes when Elizabeth is stricken with a seizure that night. She warns Edgar of a being she calls Perse, and says that “she must be drowned in fresh water.”  Elizabeth also tells Edgar that there is a red picnic basket that he must find. Elizabeth is rushed to the hospital, but passes away that night.

Wireman shows Edgar an article published in the 1930’s in regards to Elizabeth.  The article confirms that Elizabeth was an artist, but gave it up when she was just a four year old child.  Elizabeth also suffered a brain injury similar to Edgar’s, and her artistic ability emerged shortly after her injury.

Edgar returns to his hotel, and seeks momentary comfort in the arms of Pam.  The next morning, Edgar also speaks to Ilse, who tells him that her boyfriend has cheated on her.  Edgar has a heart-to-heart with Ilse, and tells her not to rush things with her boyfriend.  He then sees his friends and family off, and returns to his hotel room.  Edgar receives a message from Wireman telling him that something odd has happened on the island and that he must return right away.

When Edgar returns to his home, he discovers that it is in a shambles.  He also discovers that Jack and Wireman have located the red picnic basket.  The picnic basket contains drawings and paintings that were the work of a young Elizabeth Eastlake.  Edgar realizes that he must find out her story, and that he must use his own artistic ability to do so.  Wireman agrees, but says he will check on Edgar to make sure that nothing happens to him.

Edgar begins to flesh out Elizabeth’s story through a series of drawings.  Her story is familiar and also tragic:  the being known as Perse used Elizabeth’s gifts for her own evil purposes.  When Elizabeth tried to stop her, Perse punished horribly, by murdering her sisters.  Edgar, however, is still unable to come up with a way to stop Perse.  When he returns to the downstairs part of his house, he sees the ship that carries Perse coming towards his house.  Edgar also encounters the ghost of a young man who is intent on harming him.  However, Wireman steps in just in time to save Edgar.

Jack, Wireman and Edgar convene, and Edgar relays what happened to them.  Edgar realizes that the ghost he saw was the fiancee of Elizabeth’s older sister, who was also likely a victim of Perse.  He also receives a call from Tom Riley.  Tom tells Edgar that he is dead, and intends to take Pam with him.  Edgar panics, and calls Pam.  Pam confirms that Tom has committed suicide.  Edgar tells her that she must warn anyone who has purchased his paintings, as Perse’s influence extends far.  Later, Edgar finds out that Dr. Kamen has died from a heart attack after purchasing one of Edgar’s paintings.  Pam assures Edgar that neither she nor their daughters have any of his paintings, but Edgar is still uneasy.

Edgar realizes that he must try to destroy Perse before she can do any more damage, and makes plans with Jack and Wireman to do just that, by the light of day.

Unable to sleep, Edgar awakens and remembers that he gave the drawing titled “Hello” to his daughter Ilse.  He calls Ilse, who has been under the spell of Perse.  Ilse believes Edgar to be dead.  Edgar reassures her that he is still alive, and tells her to burn the drawing.  Ilse complies, and Edgar goes back to sleep, believing his daughter to be safe.

The next morning, Edgar receives a frantic phone call from Pam.  Pam tells him that Ilse is now dead.  It turns out that Ilse has been murdered by Mary Ire, who later commits suicide.  Mary drowned Ilse in the bathtub before killing herself.  Edgar is grief-stricken, but still determined to defeat Perse.

Jack, Edgar and Wireman head to Elizabeth’s childhood home.  They encounter a few tricks, including a lawn jockey that appears to come to life, but are not fooled.  Underneath the stairs of the old mansion, Edgar finds Noveen, Elizabeth’s favorite childhood doll.  Jack is able to use his gift of ventriloquism to have the doll speak, and the doll speaks, even though it is actually the ghost of Nan Melda, Elizabeth’s childhood Nanny.  Nan Melda tells them that Edgar must paint, which he does.  Edgar spends hours in a painting frenzy.  The pictures reveal what happened to Elizabeth and her family, and how to defeat Perse.  Perse can only be defeated by drowning the doll that contains her essence in fresh water.  That doll is located in a cistern under the house.

The three men locate the pool, and Edgar locates the doll that represents Perse.  After a struggle, he is able to trap her into a flashlight so that she can be contained.   The three then head back to the house that Wireman shared with Elizabeth.  Edgar insists on heading back to Big Pink.  When he arrives, he encounters what appears to be his dead daughter, Ilse.  However, this is one final trick of Perse’s, and Edgar is able to resist, and defeats the entity one last time.

Some time later, Wireman travels to Minnesota to meet up with Edgar.  It is also revealed that Jack is currently attending college and has moved some miles from Duma Key.  Edgar and Wireman head out to a lake in Minnesota, which happens to be quite deep.  There, they drown the flashlight containing the essence of Perse, so that the creature is unable to do any further damage.  Wireman tells Edgar that he is heading to Mexico, where he plans on opening a resort.  He invites Edgar to join him.  However, Edgar never joins Wireman, as Wireman dies of a heart two months later.

Edgar travels to Duma Key, with the intent on creating one final piece of artwork.  And he paints one last picture:  a picture of a storm destroying the island.  After the painting is completed, the wind begins to blow.

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My Thoughts

Well, they say that the third time is the charm…

And I do believe that the nebulous group known as “they” may actually be correct, at least in regards to Duma Key.

See, this is the third read of Duma Key.  And it has taken me three times to finally appreciate it and love it…

I know, bad me!

breaking bad

And there is much to love and appreciate, in regards to this fine book!

First of all, Wireman…

I know he is probably a little old for someone who just turned 21 for the fifth time this year, but boy, does this nerdy blogger have quite the crush on him!

I can just hear him speaking Spanish to me…swoon…

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Yes, he reminds of Nero from one of my (and The Master’s) all time favorite TV shows…what can I say?

Oh, and the reference to “water brothers” and Stranger in a Strange Land…that made me want to give him a wet, sloppy kiss that Duncan the pup at arms would envy!

And speaking of great characters, let’s not forget the main one, aka Edgar Freemantle.

I love Wireman, but I think I may have found another spirit animal in Eddie.

Obviously, the art.  I may work in the exciting industry of tax resolution and rock to the beat of IRS hold muzak, but I do consider myself to be an artist.  I even try my hand occasionally at the works of The Master…

Duma key acrylic

While I may not (thankfully) have had a traumatic brain injury, I feel a kinship with Edgar.  Like me, he used his art to draw himself back into the world, in a manner of speaking.  Like me, he often does not feel like he is complete, unless he is working on a piece of artwork.  And art really does draw some of us back into the “real” world.  Most artists, if their capacity to create more art is taken away from them, would probably wither like a flower that lacks sunshine and water.  I can relate when Edgar describes his need to paint as an “itch”;  often, I feel that itch myself.  And if I ignore it too long, it becomes unbearable and has to be let out, in the form of a painting, drawing or possibly a woodburning.  And it must be let out, for the sake of myself and anyone who is stuck caring for me and loving me.

And again, I have to give a shout out to Sai King for his treatment of mental illness in Duma Key.  King has dealt with this topic in a few of his other books, including Lisey’s Story, The Dark Tower series, Dreamcatcher and several others.  As always, King deals with the topic in a sensitive, thoughtful way and does not disappoint.  Wireman, Edgar and Elizabeth all suffer from various mental illnesses, including aphasia, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.  However, King is able to make these characters much more than their illnesses, and yet still make them sympathetic because of their various illnesses.  He does a fantastic job with Elizabeth in particular, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.  My grandmother has suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for nearly four years now, so I am familiar with the lows of this condition.  There is nothing more heart-breaking that someone who has known you for your whole life being terrified of you because she thinks you are a complete stranger, and having to lie to that woman and telling her that yes, Grandpa is just in the next room and he will be back soon.  But the disease also has highs:  like Elizabeth, my grandmother is occasionally able to remember the past in perfect clarity, bringing back hope, at least momentarily.  And to paraphrase a certain writer, hope is a good thing, and also the best of things.

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While I think that Perse is a terrifying King villain, I consider this book to be more tragic than scary.  Again, that is the power of Stephen King:  he can scare you into a change of pants, and he can also make you reach for the tissue box in almost the very same breath.

For example, there is the scene that depicts the final confrontation with Perse, who comes to Edgar under the guise of his now deceased daughter, Ilse.  Yes, the scene was spooky.  The description of the apparition as a sandstorm did make me shiver.  But it also made me feel sad, seeing how tempted Edgar was by Perse, at the chance to see his daughter one last time. And then he literally watches his deceased daughter turn to dust. So Sai King creeped me out, and then gave me a case of the feelsies a few minutes later…yes, he is that talented!

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I think that Duma Key must King’s most tragic book, or at least in the top five.  So.  Many.  Feelsies.

For example, Wireman.  Yes, we are back on that subject again.  But Wireman is one of King’s most tragic characters, along with being one of my book boyfriends.  He loses his wife and child literally moments apart from each other, attempts to commit suicide but is saved by an apple and then begins to lose his vision.  He also loses his one remaining family member when Elizabeth Eastlake passes away.  However, Edgar cures him of his blindness.  But he still passes away from a heart attack while dickering over tomatoes in Mexico…greedy old ka, as a certain character from  a certain other King series would say.

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And the ending to this one.  King has had some interesting endings in his books (Under the Dome, The Stand, 11/22/63 and The Dark Tower series all come to mind, for various reasons).  But I think that the ending to Duma Key is probably his saddest.  Yes, the evil is technically defeated, after Perse is drowned in fresh water.  But did anyone really win?  Elizabeth did not, she was Perse’s last victim.  Wireman did not, he may have been cured of his blindness, but he died after escaping Duma Key and trying to make a life for himself.  Edgar was perhaps the biggest loser of all:  he lost his marriage, his daughter and his new-found calling as an artist.  He also lost Wiremen, who could be considered the last of his remaining family. So it turns out that Edgar has only one choice:  return to where it all started, and destroy it, no matter the cost.  And at that point Edgar has nothing to lose, as everything has been taken from him.  And he does just that:  destroys Duma Key, and ultimately puts his hobby to good use so that no one else will be subject to the suffering.

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Any kind of creative process, whether it be writing a novel, painting on a blank canvass, composing a song or any other piece of art, often requires an enormous sacrifice.  The artist gives a piece of himself or herself, so that something new is born.  And often, demons are roused during this process, and must be faced.  So the creative process can be a battle.  Duma Key symbolizes this perfectly, reminding us of the pain, and also utter joy, that is the creative process.

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Connections:

Just for the fun of it, here are some of the connections to King’s other work that I found in Duma Key:

-Edgar’s abilities are strikingly similar to Patrick Danville’s abilities, another King character who is also an artist.  Patrick Danville is a character in the novels Insomnia and The Dark Tower, and he also has the ability to alter reality through his art.

Insomnia 4

The number 19 makes an appearance in Duma Key.  Edgar’s email address ends with the number 19, and the room number to Pam’s hotel room is 847 (the digits add up to 19).  The number 19 plays a huge role for Roland and his friends in the last three books of The Dark Tower series.

The-dark-tower-19

-Edgar shares the same last name as Abagail Freemantle, who is a main character in the novel The Stand.  The two also seem to share similar clairvoyant abilities.

Mother Abigail

-The house that Edgar lives in when he relocates to Duma Key is described as being pink in color.  In the novel Wizard and Glass, there is an object known as Maerlyn’s Grapefruit that is also pink in color, and whoever looks into that object gains clairvoyant abilities that are similar to the ones Edgar gains after he moves to Duma Key.

Maerlyn's rainbow

-Ilse tells Edgar that Perse talks to her through the drain in the kitchen sink.  This is similar to how Pennywise the Clown communicates to his intended victims in the novel It, and may suggest that Perse and Pennywise are the same type of creature.

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