America, sometime in the early 1990s. Or maybe it’s the 1980s. It depends on which version of the book you read. Whenever it is, it’s the last days of human civilization as we know it, because The Goddamn Government has been storing Totally Unacceptably Murderous Diseases because there’s just no way any would ever get out. So: one gets out. The Superflu—or Captain Trips, if you prefer—travels from a military installation in the desert, through Arlene, Texas, and spreads through the entire country and, presumably, the entire world. The population is decimated in a matter of weeks, leaving a handful of survivors—a relative “handful,” anyway—to pick sides in a final battle between good and evil. Or, more appropriately, between sweet old black women and hippies in Canadian tuxedos.
In the Beginning
Andrea: So. He dedicates the book to Tabby: “This dark chest of wonders.” If you are a writer do you think you have to dedicate every book to your spouse?
Pat: Do you think Tabitha King has a “dark chest of wonders”?
Andrea: I don’t know if that would even be a good thing or a bad thing.
Pat: And does that refer to the up-top or the down-low?
How many of the books we’ve read has he dedicated to Stabitha?
Andrea: The down-low. As in Pandora’s box. OH SNAP. I don’t know.
Some were to his kids I think.
Pat: Must be Joe King. FYI, that’s my running gag for this blog. Joe King used instead of joking.
Andrea: I know. It sucks. Creepy Uncle Stevie alert: The preface says “I think we can talk better…in the dark.”
Pat: You know, he’s got campfire story-voice.
Andrea: He sure does. Then he uses the line “It goes somewhere but it ain’t, you know, boss”
Pat: Like your Cub Scout leader, with the light dancing over his grizzled beard, one hand in his pants, one hand in yours.
Andrea: You mean like YOUR Cub Scout leader
Pat: My Cub Scout leader barely had all of his fingers, on account of the Korea.
Andrea: He also notes in the preface that he wishes Springsteen coulda played Larry Underwood.
Pat: Springsteen would have been Glen Bateman’s age in 1990. Larry Underwood is in his late twenties, for God’s sake.
Andrea: Maybe that’s why it didn’t come to pass.
Andrea: Yeah, but a young sexy 41. Anything else about the preface?
Pat: Well, 45 by the time the series was made.
Andrea: If you live in NJ you have to let your wife sleep with Bruce. State law.
Everything Everywhere Ends
Pat: PART ONE SUMMARIZED: EVERYONE DIES.
Andrea: Which, incidentally, was my favorite part of the book.
Pat: Everyone dying?
Andrea: Yes. Remember the “no big loss” part or whatever? When he lists a bunch of people who
died after the actual flu?
Pat: Irma or Erma. That was the best part of the book.
Andrea: She was the gossipy one, right? She is in EVERY one of his damn stories.
Pat: She was the prudish one who was afeard of being raped and shot the drunk hippie. Well, tried to shoot him and died when the gun blew up in her hand.
Andrea: Oh right. She never had sex ever. Bummer.
Pat: I was talking more about the entire world dying. The act of apocalypse.
Andrea: What about the little boy whose whole family died and then he fell in a pit? I cried. I was bothered by Baby LaVon, not only by her stupid name but by the fact that they call her an infant and also say that she is 3 years old.
Pat: Who was Baby LaVon again?
Andrea: The guy at the very beginning who tries to escape with his family. One of his kids. Along with Sally and Charlie. They end up dead.
Pat: That chapter was the motherfucking final scene of Six Feet Under. Might as well have had Claire driving through the book TOWARDS DESTINY AND THE FUTURE.
And a dubious career afterwards.
Andrea: Everything. Everyone. Ends. The whole “No Great Loss” chapter begs the question: is SK a misanthrope?
Pat: No, I don’t think he is. I think he’s a humanist who has doubts about humankind, but if you’ll notice, he’s never ended the world lock, stock and barrel.
The Act Of Apocalypse
Pat: So, the question is: do you buy it?
Andrea: The whole book?
Pat: That the government created a Superflu and it got out?
Andrea: Yes. Totally buy that part.
Pat: Through what Larry Underwood correctly calls “pure human fuckery.”
Andrea: Do not buy the whole good vs. evil part. That everyone is either good or evil, on one side or the other. So, Walking Dead totally stole the idea of going to the CDC from this book, right?
Pat: I think that’s like saying a movie got the idea for shooting someone from Fistful Of Dollars. If there’s a gun in something, it has to be fired. That was one of Anton Chekhov’s rules. If there’s a plague, people are going to think of going to CDC headquarters. Especially if the story is set close to Atlanta.
I just don’t think it’s very likely that many people know about the Stovington installation of the CDC. Everyone knows about the one in Atlanta.
Andrea: Totally agreed. But, Harold was a supergenius, right?
Pat: He was a nerd. It’s different.
Andrea: Did you totally picture Harold as [redacted name of nerd from high school]?
Pat: No, I picture him as fucking Parker Lewis, who I’m told can’t lose.
I picture everyone as the people in the miniseries. It is awful.
Andrea: Glad I didn’t watch it yet. Should I start watching it now so we can discuss that too?
Pat: Go for it. But be warned: you will fucking hate it.
The parts with the military taking over are probably the best pre-end times parts. The men turning on each other in the radio station, the scene outside of that college. The parts which—in the miniseries are boring and star a very severe-looking Ed Harris—deal with those in charge covering everything up. Including the weird act of having operatives in London and China introduce Superflu to the population? Here’s the thing, though: what is the scale of immunity? 1%? 10%?
Andrea: I don’t know. Did they address that?
Pat: Never. You can only guess from the pre-plague population of America and the general number of survivors that end up in Boulder and Vegas. And here’s the other thing: we can assume that all of Asia, Africa, and Europe meet similar ends, but what about places like Japan, Australia?
Andrea: Which would mean estimating the math of it. You mean how were population dense and not so population dense places affected?
Pat: No, remote places, islands. If Australia issued travel restrictions and sealed itself off, the Superflu would never have made it there. Same with Japan, although people could get from mainland China to Japan fairly easily on their own steam.
Andrea: That’s true. But would they have had time to do so before it spread?
That would have had to be a really rapid quarantine
Pat: And the other thing is, they never address whether or not the Superflu would disappear with the last infected person dying.
Andrea: They don’t know, because they aren’t sure if babies are immune. Which they don’t find out until Fran’s baby is born near the end of the book
Pat: So you have places like Perth, which are fuckoff distant, that could ride it out, leaving non-immune people alive. I don’t know. The picture of the world is somewhat incomplete, which I guess was the point, but why is it just Americans? There are no Mexicans dreaming of Mother Abagail? Canadians? Red Chinese?
Andrea: Apparently not. Mother Abigail doesn’t care about Mexicans.
Maybe they had their own magical black woman. Madre Abigail.
Pat: It’s Abagail. Because, like “bobwire” and “hawk,” Stephen King doesn’t know how to spell. I mean, I guess the bobwire gets a pass because it’s part of Stu Redman’s accent. Still.
Pat: FYI, I did the math. Glen Bateman guesses that there will be ten thousand in the Boulder Free Zone by spring. By anyone’s estimates, there are more people in Las Vegas than Boulder. So, provisionally, we can say that there are probably around twenty-five thousand people left in the continental United States out of roughly 250 million. Given that? The Superflu would have killed 99.99% of the population
Andrea: Wow. What are the chances of the population even being able to come back from that.
Pat: Which, given the world’s population, leaves a surprisingly large number of people alive. Around 50 million.
Andrea: So approximately how many of those in the U.S. assuming it is distributed evenly?
Pat: about 10 million of them would be in India alone. Well, .01% of 250 million is 25,000. My math is probably all fucked up. Here’s the actual figure: 99.4% of the population is not immune to Captain Trips
Andrea: Here’s the thing: all those numbers are so large that they are incomprehensible to me, so this means nothing.
Pat: FUN FACT: There were 248,709,873 people in the United States in 1990!
PURSUANT FACT: The Superflu would have left nearly 15 million alive!
There would be nearly 49 million left in Mexico and 16.5 in Canada.
Leaving a grand total of 316,718,387.34 people who were immune to the virus.
That should be a graspable number to you, since it’s the population of the United States right now. So, not really the end of the world.
The Pre-History Of The Beginning Of The End
Pat: I think, just maybe, there is too much backstory.
Andrea: Meaning you might have been more satisfied with the original edited version? What do you think could have gone? Personally, the whole Nick Andros/Tom Cullen thing bored me.
Pat: There was very little about the Frannie/Jess thing I cared for. The old-timer, good-ol’-boy horseshit in Arlene, too. Larry’s was mostly worth it because he undergoes a change throughout the book, which the rest of the characters do not. But even that could have lost some pages. Although, as always, the “he wasn’t sure about hygiene, but he sure knew oral” part would have to stay.
Andrea: I like the Frannie/Jess thing. Although her not liking him all of the sudden seemed kind of abrupt I thought.
Pat: It has no bearing on almost anything. It sort of sets up Frannie’s character, but it could’ve been done without so much hemming and hawing. I liked the fight between her and the mother where the father got involved.
Andrea: It is another classic Stephen King shrew mother example.
Pat: I would have gotten rid of Harold if he wasn’t integral to the story. Glen Bateman? That’s my dude right there.
Andrea: I found him to be annoying. He was the one with Kojak, right?
Pat: Yeah. Watch the mini-series. He’s played by the guy from My Favorite Martian, Mr. Hand from Fast Times, and he’s affable as shit.
Andrea: So is that the one character the miniseries did not ruin for you?
Pat: Him and Stu. I actually didn’t mind most of Nick Andros’s story, except for the Tom Cullen part. It’s probably just a personal thing, but I think it’s a grave sin to start the story before anything happens.
Andrea: Speaking of Fran. Something that totally rang true: going to the health center in college and saying you have cramps so they prescribe the pill.
You might as well just say “gimme the pill, I’m gonna fuck.”
Pat: Wait, what happened to our discussion of how goddamn boring it was to sit around and jaw with Stu and the boys in Arnette?
Andrea: Oh. It was really boring. Fuck Texas.
Pat: This book should’ve started on about page 250
Andrea: I liked the backstory. I forgot why Fran hated Jess but in my notes it says that he smacked her in the face. So now I know.
Pat: Also, he was wishy-washy and ineffectual.
Andrea: Right. “A boy and man fighting for control of the same face.”
Pat: Molly Ringwald portraying Frannie was a crime.
Andrea: What was your beef with it? Who would you pick instead?
Pat: In the version I’m casting in my head, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who would probably not take the role because I just made a rhyme out of her name accidentally.
Andrea: I like her. Who was Norm again?
Pat: Who the fuck is Norm?
Andrea: I don’t know. My notes from Chapter 3 say “Norm Burett. He considered tucking his shirt in but decided the president wouldn’t be stopping by.”
Pat: One of the guys from Arnette. OVER IT.
Andrea: Larry Underwood: NY had all the charm of a dead whore.
Pat: I hate early Larry Underwood because it seems like Stephen King didn’t even like writing him. Not until his mother died, at least.
Andrea: I liked him. I mean, I enjoyed reading him. I didn’t like him as a person.
I don’t remember anything about Frannie’s brother dying, and yet here it is in my notes.
Pat: Frannie had a brother? OH THE YOUNGER ONE. Yeah, whatever. The you-forgot-you-still-had-family-that-was-alive thing is tired.
Andrea: Agreed. BUT—was it tired when this came out?
Pat: I don’t know, I can’t imagine he invented such a trope.
Andrea: Another thing I wasn’t sure if believable: That Fran could hear Harold’s typewriter from 1.5 miles away
Pat: Yeah. No earthly fucking way.
Unless it was powered by tommyknockers.
Andrea: For some reason the whole thing with Lloyd trying to eat his cellmate made me laugh, maybe cause he was picturing his arm as a burger.
Pat: A KFC drumstick, according to Flagg.
Andrea: I really like chapter 8 in which he tracks people’s paths in spreading the virus.
Pat: That and the post-plague deaths are the best chapters
Andrea: Agreed. Just like the devil town chapters in Salem’s Lot are the best
Pat: Although, in true King style, the later chapters have some sexy punch to them, complete with dubiously sexy buttons at the end.
Andrea: When he talks about everyone’s dirty secrets. King is really just great at the little vignettes
Pat: He’d probably make a great short story writer, that guy.
Pat: I’ll be honest, I couldn’t get a handle on several tertiary characters: Larry’s mom, the guy who tried to kill Stu (Denninger?), the entire town of Arnette, the stupid Campions, and, especially in the beginning, Harold, who sucked dick on all cylinders.
Andrea: Okay, so can Nick Andros hear or not? Does he lip-read? What’s the deal? is he deaf or mute or deafmute?
Pat: Are you fucking serious? Did you read the book? He tells about nine people that he reads lips. In the first twelve pages.
Andrea: I don’t remember if that question is answered later but it is in my notes from chapter 9. SO NOW I KNOW
Pat: JESUS CHRIST IT IS MADE VERY CLEAR
Are you just reading things from your notes that are questions that GET ANSWERED IN THE BOOK?
Andrea: Okay well maybe I check myself later!
Pat: THERE IS NO NEED TO CHECK
Andrea: ANYWAY SORRY I ASKED NOW
Pat: I am here to tell you: Nick Andros is a deaf-mute. That’s why he claps his hands over his ears, mouth, and head. And! tells everyone he is deaf-mute. And can read lips.
Andrea: okay WELL AT FIRST THEY JUST SAY MUTE SO I GET CONFUSED
Pat: Did you think he was pulling people’s words out of the ether? Through telepathy? THIS IS FUCKING MADNESS. AT FIRST?
AT FIRST HE IS GETTING BEAT UP AND CAN’T HEAR ANYTHING.
Andrea: Okay. Can we move on?
Pat: You totally just skimmed the beginning of the book, didn’t you
Andrea: I DID NOT omg you are the worst
Pat: You totally did! You are the Harold Lauder of partners
Andrea: So, something I quoted from the first Larry Underwood chapters: “unsettling Oriental blandness.” Don’t know who he was talking about though
Pat: You take the worst goddamn notes
Andrea: and of course, “you ain’t no nice guy”
Pat: That might as well have been the title of the book SINCE NO ONE TAKES A STAND UNTIL FUCKING PAGE NINE HUNDRED AND CHANGE.
Andrea: And Larry is thinking about how since the world is ended there aren’t going to be any more Freddy Krueger movies
Pat: Did you know? The Monster Shouter is played in the movie by Kareem Abdul-Jabar.
Andrea: I did know that. But I keep picturing Shaq
Pat: Did you know? Fran’s dad is played by the chief in Scrubs?
Andrea: For real? Did you know I hate Scrubs?
Pat: Did you know? Ed Harris is a big bag of tools? What’s the other one?
Andrea: Frannie’s mother says that she rutted with a boy like a bitch in heat
Pat: Deninger is played by a guy who is in everything from the 90s and who is lame.
Andrea: In chapter 12, I noted “There is an awful lot of slapping in this book.”
Pat: In relation to Larry? Did you know? CDC guy Dr. Denninger is played by the father from Alf?
Andrea: No, in relation to Fran’s mom slapping her
and probably larry and jess too
Pat: Be very glad that the character The Rat Man is an invention of the miniseries.
Andrea: I have no idea who that is
Pat: You will understand why when you see it because he is awful and dumb.
Andrea: There is a Children of the Corn shoutout while Stu is in quarantine: “red eyes in the corn”
Pat: That’s true. I was wondering if Mother Abagail would say something about He Who Walks Behind The Rows. Or whatever.
Andrea: I really enjoyed the Trashcan Man’s back story. Except that nothing the kids did to him seemed that bad?
Pat: He was a disturbed kid in the first place. And bullying and teasing are infinitely more affecting when you’re a kid. Just imagine!
Andrea: Oh yeah, he got shock treatments too. I guess that would do it.
Andrea: He compares running up the aisle of a church spraying gasoline to a groom squirting semen for the first time. Snort.
Pat: Trashcan Man actually ended up way more interesting than the miniseries led me to believe. Harold Lauder as well. Nadine treble.
Love In The Time Of Superflu
Pat: Everyone in Stephen King’s books are either fucking or violently prude.
Andrea: Isn’t everyone in life like that as well?
Pat: I suspect Stephen King has a notebook, and when he gets to a sex scene, he opens the notebook, runs his finger down a few pages and says, “Nope, never had anyone jack another character off while a gun was halfway up his pooper. Let’s DO THIS.”
Andrea: I remember being seriously disturbed by that scene when I read it when I was younger. Especially about his silky canary yellow briefs.
Pat: It’s tame compared to that Poppy Z. Bullshit you loved
Andrea: So, Stu was married for 9 months and his wife had cancer and he is quiet and mysterious. Parallels to guy from Salem’s Lot whose wife was killed on the motorcycle? Stephen K. Loves some dead wives.
Pat: Dead wives are pretty go-to for establishing a troubled backstory and developing character.
Andrea: From the random notes that mean nothing to me file: “speculation: poison burger”
Pat: Hell, Larry has two dead wives of a sort.
Andrea: Also, from the gross file “long and ropy splatters of mucus”. Next chapter is “great with oral.”
Pat: “He didn’t know about hygiene, but she sure knew oral.”
Andrea: Yes. I wrote that down. “Gobbled like a Perdue drumstick.” Do we really just like all the dirty parts?
Pat: Every time I read something about fellatio in a Stephen King book, I hear Leland Gaunt yelling, “Fe-LLATE me!”
A STORE OPENED IN HADDONFIELD CALLED NEEDFUL THINGS
Pat: SHUT YOUR MOUTH
Andrea: Yes, seriously. I need to go in there.
White People Are Evil, Black People Take Sweet BMs
Andrea: Here’s something–apparently Randall Flagg was responsible for the Patty Hearst thing?
Pat: Well, it stands to reason that he was responsible for most of the shitty things that happened in the country.
Andrea: Are Randall Flagg and Satan the same person? Discuss
Pat: No, not any more than Mother Abagail is God. As far as I’m concerned, that’s not even debatable
Andrea: In that they are both abstract representations of good and evil
Pat: They’re both pretty non-abstract! Mother Abagail is about as real as they come. They just both share a connection to a higher power.
Andrea: And is that higher power god/satan?
Pat: No, it’s the Fonz
Andrea: I hate you so much right now.
Pat: I couldn’t decide if Mother Abagail was too on-the-nose SUBQUESTION: Is Mother Abagail just a female Super-Dick Hallorann?
Andrea: She is another of King’s Magical Negroes, for sure.
Pat: The MKNs? The men of black fled across the desert, and the inkslinger followed.
Pat: Here’s a thought. Now that I have about ten Dickens novels under my belt, I think about Stephen King’s huge picaresque novels differently. For example, A Tale of Two Cities, which could be the subtitle of The Stand, features a bunch of characters, not many of whom are worth the time except for one profligate barrister named Sydney Carton. That book, I firmly believe, should have just been centered around Carton because he’s the only character with a real soul, who goes through a change, who goes on a journey. He’s the only one with an actual character arc. I kind of feel that way about The Stand
Andrea: Re: Which character? Stu? Or Larry?
Pat: Larry Underwood is the only character. Stu is the same person, except for a new-found aptitude for leadership. Frannie? Completely the same. Tom Cullen? M-O-O-N, that spells duh. There is no character that has any kind of evolution in the book. Except Larry and Joe. Nadine degrades wildly, Harold goes asshole tits up, sure, but you can hang your hat on those kinds of evolution if there’s no redemption or change for the good.
Andrea: I get the feeling Nadine was just in there so SK can describe lots of depraved sex acts
Pat: WHAT IS IT WITH UNCLE STEVE AND EVERYONE ALWAYS FUCKING, ALL THE TIME, FOREVER?
Andrea: Maybe Tabitha doesn’t put out?
Pat: Sponge-glove handjobs and guns up the butt, blowjobs in exchange for Sandy Koufax rookie cards, werewolves giving little boys anal? The man is sick.
Nadine was necessary. She walked a very thin line, and it was hard to not want her to fall on the eastern side.
Andrea: She was gross Laura San Giacomo in the movie
Pat: Very gross. Interesting that she jumps in the movie. It’s better that Flagg threw her
The News At Never
Pat: Dear Stephen King. No one makes any sort of stand until book three. You are a doofus.
Andrea: I thought it was interesting how the news was trying to cover up that anything was going wrong, but they also had no baseball scores or weather.
You’d think they could fake that shit.
Pat: You mean the military was covering up through the news? What was the word? The news was being “handled.”
Andrea: Then they start talking about all the different dead people–the man and woman who fucked and then shot each other, the guy found with soup on his face.
Pat: Remember when our blog devolved into you simply reading things from your notebook without any context?
Andrea: Okay sorry! What do you want to delve into?
Remember when we both read the book at the same time?
Pat: Where does book one end?
I can’t remember the thing that is at the end of it
Andrea: I don’t know. I will tell you when I get there.
Pat: So we’re still in book one?
Andrea: One part I really liked is when Frannie is all half asleep and she sees them executing people on TV but she thinks it’s a dream or a weird game show or something.
Pat: Who sees that and thinks it’s a fucking weird game show? It was like some sort of cross between Malcolm X and Harrison Bergeron
Andrea: Anyone who is in shock in a surreal nightmare situation, I guess. A large black man in a mask pulling people’s drivers licenses out of a lottery machine. So weird.
Pat: I call bullshit.
Andrea: On which part?
Pat: On Frannie thinking it was a TV show
The End Of The World, And Other Business
Andrea: Okay another part that stuck out in my mind: The dead animals at Central Park Zoo. It reminded me of the rumors that Michael Jackson let all the animals at Neverland starve.
Pat: I actually didn’t even blink at that. It seemed farcical
Andrea: how so?
Pat: It’s weird enough that there are animals in Central Park. That they’re dead or dying didn’t affect me at all. Plus, the Monster Shouter is way more attention-drawing. Also, crazy old women who want to fire guns and fuck strangers.
Andrea: That’s true. She clearly had borderline personality disorder
Pat: Or post-traumatic shock
Andrea: Here is a line that I thought sucked: “corpses strewn about like prizes in some ghastly treasure hunt”
PRIZES IN A TREASURE HUNT WOULD BE HIDDEN
Pat: Well, I don’t know, maybe he meant stumbling on a corpse everywhere you went. “Cresting a hill, whoa, almost tripped on a dead monster shouter.”
Andrea: Did we already discuss the lemon yellow bikini briefs?
Pat: I don’t even remember them
Andrea: The hippie who is doing acid and runs into Randall Flagg
Kit Bradenton. Pretty sure the only point of that chapter was to accentuate Randall Flagg’s sexy-evil
Pat: I have no recollection of that. The name sounds familiar
Andrea: The number one part of the book that stuck with me and gave me nightmares the first time I read it: Lloyd being trapped in prison and remembering his pet rabbit that starved to death.
Pat: Wait, what was the banana hammock?
Andrea: Randall Flagg jerked the dude off, and he was wearing a literal banana hammock
Pat: How do I not remember that!?
Andrea: I have no idea but it is chapter 31 so you should go reread it. He takes acid I think, and then Flagg visits him
Pat: How in the fuck did I miss that!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
Andrea: I have no idea!! Were you on acid?
Pat: Jesus. The good ol’ stroke brain. The pet rabbit thing was weird because of the Grapes Of Wrath overtones.
Andrea: I know. And because of the Tom Cullen Grapes of Wrath overtones
Pat: It’s like SK took that guy (what the fuck is his name?) and split him into Tom Cullen and Lloyd.
GOD DAMN YOU.
Pat: You beat me to it.
Andrea: I WIN, JERK.
Andrea: Here is a line I thought was provocative, re: NYC: “All the people who had died quietly in their apartments and tenements were now rotting in ovens.”
Pat: That’s one thing that never really came across in the book. How bad New York would have smelled with a few million dead bodies lying around in the summer heat.
Andrea: Well, I mean I think he tried to express that with that line. How about the man who got hung with the looter sign around his neck? I found that kind of unbelievable. Because by the time conditions degenerated enough for looting, who would care?
Pat: Because there would necessarily be people so out of their mind from the shock of society collapsed that they’d stand their ground where they could and protect what’s theirs. It’s the logical complement to looter mentality.
Andrea: Most chilling scene in the book I think? Larry and Rita going through the Lincoln Tunnel. And my favorite line in the book, from when Larry gets to the end of the Lincoln Tunnel: “NJ never smelled so good.” I want it on a t-shirt.
Pat: I could dig that man
Here’s the question: why didn’t they just take a fucking bridge?
Or a motherfucking boat
Andrea: I don’t know. Was that addressed?
Pat: It was addressed by them being too lazy to go up to the GW Bridge.
Pat: The book made me think a lot about strategies for an apocalypse like this, including where the best place to go would be. Because it sure as hell wouldn’t be fucking Boulder.
Andrea: So where do you think the best place would be?
Andrea: No. Too moist, all the bodies would be rotting
Pat: However, I have reservations about staring the wrong way out to sea for the rest of my life.
Pat: It doesn’t matter. You can’t fucking hunker down in a place that is averse to human life. No hurricane or tornado alleys. No places with motherfucking 14 feet of snow. No fault lines. No swamps.
Andrea: So. Flagg tries to tempt Nick with hearing when his bullet-wounded leg is infected but it doesn’t work because he sees visions of mother Abigail instead.
Pat: That certainly is a thing that happened.
Andrea: So why didn’t that happen to Lloyd? Because Mother Abigail didn’t want him on the good side?
Andrea: GOD STEPHEN KING IS A TERRIBLE SPELLER
Pat: The same reason Nadine didn’t dream of her. They weren’t meant for the good team
Andrea: For some reason that part reminded me of that part in Nightmare on Elm Street 5 when Freddy turns that kid’s hearing aids up really loud and his head explodes
Pat: Well, he does blow Andros up eventually
Andrea: True. Next chapter, Larry finds Rita dead in the tent. I don’t feel like it is that shitty that he is relieved. Clearly she couldn’t hang. Apocalypse is not for everyone.
Pat: She should’ve died about thirty times before that. Larry probably already had an inkling of what Nadine told him later on, that in a world so full of the dead, taking a life was the gravest of sins. And he felt like it was his fault.
Andrea: True. But he doesn’t feel that guilty, since he runs away without burying her. Contrasted to Fran, who struggles all day to bury her father–while pregnant
Interestingly enough, the trope of decent people burying their own is used in The Walking Dead as well.
Pat: I believe it’s used everywhere, since forever, during journey stories. See also: Oregon Trail. You have typhoid. You are now dead.
Andrea: He. You have snakebite. You are dead
Pat: See also: hunting for food, finding random food and medicine en route.
Don’t see also, so much: oxen. I have to say that I did not care a whole goddamn lot about the parts involving Flagg becoming aware of his Flaggness.
Andrea: Me either.BORING
Pat: We do get a view into Las Vegas, but for the most part, those parts with him doing whatnot are the only actual time we spend with Flagg until Dayna meets him towards the end. King could have kept him mysterious if he left those parts out, although that would have made Lloyd’s predicament in jail harder to solve.
Andrea: True, but I think we could have kept the jail parts and still had him more mysterious. The backstory made him seem kinda weenie.
Pat: It made him seem like a hippie protester, honestly. Although nothing could make him seem more ineffectual than his portrayal in the movie.
Men Being Men In The End
Andrea: What did you think of the Harold/Stu man to man talk?
Pat: When they first meet up?
Andrea: Yeah. And Stu says he is not gonna steal Fran away which he of course does. Insomuch as you believe in the concept that a woman can be “stolen” which I don’t.
Pat: I think it was great. Especially now that I’m Stu’s age and hate dudes Harold’s age
Andrea: Snort. It was kinda patronizing but Harold is a dick, so
Pat: He wasn’t really given a choice
Andrea: Who wasn’t? Harold?
Pat: Stu. Harold was about to either shoot him or run off.
Andrea: That’s true
Pat: I don’t know why everyone needed to go check out the CDC after Stu said everyone was dead.
Andrea: Me either
Pat: Later, people go to Hemingford Home because they just want to, even though a good number of them know that the first group has moved on, some of whom even know they moved on to Boulder!
Andrea: That made no sense either.
Andrea: The first thing to happen in book two is the disastrous introduction of Tom Cullen
Pat: Here’s what I have to say about Tom Cullen: the retards are God’s chosen people in King a lot?
Andrea: My notes say: M-O-O-N, that spells stupid. Which basically sums up my feelings about that whole thing.
Pat: I do think it was interesting to have a guy who couldn’t read paired up with a guy who can’t speak. But it was also kind of frustrating.
Andrea: Yes. Because pages were spent on their dumb hand signals.
Anyway, Tom was clearly an early prototype for John Coffey
Pat: John Coffey wasn’t retarded!
Andrea: No, but he was a dim bulb.
Pat: Also, Tom Cullen wasn’t black, possessed of super powers, or in need of a night light.
Andrea: I said prototype
Pat: I don’t think there’s a damn thing prototypy about him!
Andrea: WELL THEN WE AGREE TO DISAGREE. Then Nick and Tom meet Julie Lawry who proceeds to “undulate against Nick in an obscene parody of grief.”
Pat: Right, and Nick bangs her in a drugstore. Nick Andros: fucking survivors in drugstores. FTW
Andrea: She claims to have slept with the bassist from Dokken—wonder who this was in the earlier release of the book?
Andrea: So Nick bangs her and then runs her off AS IF she’s not gonna come back and ruin their lives later
Pat: He didn’t really have a choice. What’s he going to do, be beholden to a girl who basically proximity fucked him and is mean and douchey?
Andrea: True. I just thought it was kind of a weak narrative set up.
Pat: Also, she had to go to Las Vegas or else the rest of her part in the story wouldn’t have happened.
Pat: Do you think Stephen King wishes he had waited ten years to write The Stand? There’s so much more technology to lose just a decade after it’s set.
Andrea: I think if he wished that he would just come out with another revised version! Because he’s SK and can do what he wants.
Pat: This is revised?
Andrea: YES OMG
Pat: Besides the “complete and uncut” stuff? He released a more dated version at first?
Andrea: The novel was originally published in 1978 and was later re-released in 1990 as The Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition; King restored some text originally cut for brevity, added and revised sections, changed the setting of the story from 1980 (which in turn was changed to 1985 for the original paperback release in 1980) to 1990, and updated a few pop culture references accordingly.
Pat: What the fuuuuuuck
Andrea: How did you not know this?? What did you think I was talking about when I said the Dokken thing a few minutes ago?
Pat: I don’t know, why do you ever talk about Dokken?
Andrea: This is probably the first time in history I have ever talked about Dokken, unless in the context of Nightmare On Elm Street 3 for which they wrote the theme song “Dream Warriors.”
Pat: Why would I think he did such an extensive revision on an already-released publication? I can understand adding stuff back in, but to rewrite it for a different time is weird. And George Lucas-y.
Andrea: That’s why I said he clearly does what he wants, so if he had regrets he would just revise again.
Pat: I kind of would have preferred a 1980-set Stand.
Andrea: We could read that one too, I don’t even know if it is still in print though.
Andrea: Okay. So, the weird little Joe kid with Nadine was annoying. He was basically a plot device to be like, “Oh, see? Larry’s not so bad after all even though he sucks.” And as a barometer to Nadine’s descent into evil.
Pat: You have no sense of father-son dynamics. If it was a female Larry and a female Joe, you’d be like, “HOW DOES SK WRITE SUCH PERFECTLY ACCURATE RELATIONSHIPS LOL?”
Andrea: snort. Well, how would I? I have no brothers. and no sons.
Pat: Whose fault is that?
Andrea: How did you feel about OMG WE ARE ALL HAVING THE SAME DREAMS LOLZ
Pat: Well, how would you have done it? They were all having the same dreams, and they wouldn’t have known that at first.
Andrea: I thought it was fine. Except when someone said “is someone using a ray on us?”
Pat: You are so particular about your kitsch.
Andrea: How so?
Pat: You would like a more suited-to-your-sensibilities bit of goofiness like that. Same level of goofiness.
Andrea: Probably. Isn’t everyone like that though?
Pat: I have no recollection of a single black person in The Stand
Andrea: Me either. Except Mother A. of course!
Pat: OH TRUE. Should we read anything into the fact that the avatar of good is a jolly old black woman and the avatar of evil is a white ex-hippie?
Andrea: She can’t be jolly cause she isn’t fat, for one thing.
Pat: Have you ever met a Southern black woman? They’re all the ever-glowing salt of the earth. I know she’s not Southern, but still. Nebraska might as well be the South.
Andrea: I haven’t. But I know that fat = jolly. How else are you gonna rest your head on her bosom?
Pat: I don’t know if we needed the whole Mother Abagail backstory. It was interesting, I just don’t think it was at all important.
Andrea: You are a backstory hater.
Pat: I am a backstory hater when it’s done for no substantive reason.
Andrea: I mean, the book was over 1,000 pages. There was a lot of stuff that was interesting but not necessarily important.
Pat: It didn’t even illuminate her character!
Andrea: What about when she thanks God for the poop she just had?
Pat: That was awesome, and I knew you’d like it. Her “BM.”
Andrea: I noted “her thoughts on birth control pills,” but I didn’t say what those thoughts are and now I can’t remember!
Pat: SEARCH IT IN GOOGLE BOOKS.
Pat: I am very, very glad that SK chose to get a little selective about portraying everyone’s journey eventually. I don’t need to know every step everyone took along the way.
Andrea: True, but sometimes i got confused when he only mentioned someone a couple times. ALSO, when you have nothing else to say about something, you say something noncommittal like POSSIBLY or MAYBE in all caps, then change the subject. FYI
Pat: Roadblock Rape Circus: thoughts?
Andrea: It seemed pretty realistic; as in, I’m not surprised that something like that would happen, although the thing with giving them meds and everything seemed pretty well thought out.
Pat: Are you insinuating that that’s Stephen King’s post-apocalyptic dream?
Andrea: No, I am saying that I don’t know if a band of thugs like that would be that organized.
Pat: I kind of accepted the goings-on of the zoo like, you know, that’s what happens in the end times?
Andrea: So gross that they refer to it as “the zoo.”
Pat: Criminal genius is a tricky thing. The Trashcan Man could tell you as much.
Andrea: What about Mark and Peron? What kind of idiots try to have a baby during apocalypse? WHEN THERE ARE NO DOCTORS OMG
Pat: They were following dreams all the way to a magical black lady. They probably thought it was okay and also important to continue propagating the species. What about dead appendix guy? “Thanks for telling me he’s been dead for ten minutes!”
Andrea: Who was dead appendix guy?
Pat: The guy who Stu tried to operate on like he was a Toyota Corolla.
Andrea: Oh right. I feel like the best course of action in the apocalypse is to take zero responsibility for things like surgery.
Pat: Just let the dude die?
Andrea: NO, JUST LET SOMEONE ELSE DO IT. I meant the best course for me and my mental health.
Pat: THERE WAS NO ONE ELSE. It was Stu, Harold, Frannie, Peron, and Glen.
Andrea: Fran’s “Things to Remember” were lame-o for the most part
Pat: Who else would have done it? Kojak? I thought they were sweet.
Andrea: That’s cause you are a sappy doofus.
Andrea: Totally grossed out by creepy Harold spying on Fran and Stu having sex.
Pat: Harold Lauder: making even masturbation seem disgusting since 1990.
Andrea: I was really annoyed by “you believe that happy crappy?”
Pat: Oh, but sodomy by gun barrel was a-ok?
Andrea: I didn’t say I LOVED that!
Pat: I don’t know how to feel about that whole part
Andrea: The Kid says he misses The Playboy Channel. Is that even still a channel? That seems almost quaint now.
Pat: No one watches actual manufactured porn anymore. I don’t know if I was more disturbed by the Kid forcing Trash to give him a handjob at gunpoint or that he was obsessed with Coors.
Andrea: I felt really bad for Lucy Swann. How shitty must it be to be with someone and know they are in love with someone else?
Pat: It didn’t seem like Larry was in love with Nadine. He was transfixed by her, which I took as part of his emerging penchant for leading and taking care of people. He could have saved her, in the end, and on some level, maybe he knew that and it made him obsessed to a certain degree.
Andrea: Right, but Lucy still got the shaft.
Andrea: He totally had “love the one you’re with” syndrome.
Pat: I liked Lucy, although she wasn’t very fleshed-out until the incident where Nadine comes to claim Larry. I also like Patty Kroger, simply because King said she was young and gorgeous.
Andrea: You are so shallow. Who was Patty Kroger?
Pat: The youngest of the zoo.
Andrea: Oh, right. Not much happened with her right?
Pat: Nothing at all, really. You mean in the story or in the butt?
The End Of The End, The Beginning Of The Middle Of The Part After The End
Andrea: Apparently I took no notes about the arrival at Mother Abigail’s. Please fill in my missing parts.
Pat: That’s what she said. Well, everyone gets to Nebraska. Mother Abagail is mighty glad to meet everyone.
Andrea: She makes a lot of food, right? I like food in literature.
Pat: People enjoy home cooking and probably a nice BM that they can thank God for later on the toilet.
Pat: Food she almost gotten eaten by weasels for.
Andrea: see also: PLOP
Pat: Explain to me how weasels are at all scary
Andrea: They are snake-shaped and have sharp teeth! Hello! Snake-shaped with little gross claw feet like a hamster. Here is the thing: Almost anything is scary in large numbers. I wouldn’t want to be swarmed by 50 babies.
Pat: Maybe to a 108 year old woman. But I could kick an awful lot of weasels. Or babies.
Pat: SK does a pretty good job of not letting the fact that Nick is deaf and mute slow up the conversations.
Pat: The conversation about what the dreams mean and what they’re supposed to do that he, Ralph, and Ma Abagail have.
Andrea: I have no recollection of that.
Pat: At Hemingford Home? Nick tells her he doesn’t believe in God, and she just smiles and says, “That’s okay! He believes in you, Nick!”
Andrea: Oh, right. Barf.
Andrea: The government. Speaking of smug: Stu et al. They were so goody two shoes!
Pat: How so?
Andrea: Do you know what goody-two-shoes means? Cause that was them.
Pat: I don’t see how they were being smug.
Andrea: I was just transitioning. I don’t think they were smug.
Pat: CAN WE STICK TO ACTUAL OPINIONS WE HAVE?
Andrea: But they had like no flaws!
Pat: No flaws? They were planning on railroading their ad hoc committee into the permanent committee.
Andrea: That’s true. Didn’t they actually end up doing that? And isn’t that kind of a SMUG move?
Pat: I don’t see it as being self-satisfied. Just self-serving. I cried at a few things in the big meeting. I feel like that’s not impressive, though, given my track record.
Andrea: Such as?
Pat: You know, the national anthem, people saying things.
Andrea: You are a weepy Wendy.
Pat: I AM A MODERN MAN.
Andrea: SINGLE SUCCESSFUL GUY.
Andrea: I liked the image of money blowing in the streets cause it doesn’t matter anymore.
Pat: You would. Money don’t even matter! Get yourself some Gucci!
Andrea: I liked when he compared Boulder to the smell of the monkey house at the zoo, like when you are in there awhile you don’t notice it.
Pat: Dead monkeys. It would have to be a pretty low-level smell to be able to get used to it.
Andrea: Let me guess: you cried when Stu got a standing ovation at the town hall meeting
Pat: You go to hell. I WAS WEEPING FOR OUR LOST DEMOCRACY.
Andrea: Harold practicing smiling in the mirror is super creepy
Pat: What, and reading Frannie’s diary and rubbing one out wasn’t?
Andrea: I didn’t say that was ONLY creepy thing he did. But I feel like a lot of dudes would do that given the chance. LOL at Frannie figuring out Harold read her diary with a chocolate thumbprint. What is this, the Hardy Boys?
Pat: But that’s how people find things. Clues are real.
Andrea: Here is a question I asked myself. Is Flagg omniscient? It seemed like sometimes it was implied that he is, but then he would have known about them sending spies.
Pat: He did know. He’s as omniscient as Mother Abagail. He can see things through animals, but I don’t think he can just see everything. I think he gets senses, like Mother. But keep in mind: Flagg is just a dude. That walks.
Andrea: Behind the rows.
Andrea: I think we’re up to where Mother Abagail wanders off. Which, I forget why she wandered off?
Pat: Because she had committed the sin of pride.
Andrea: Because she was so proud of how well she was taking care of everyone, right?
Pat: I think it was because she had assumed that she was infallible and making all the right choices because God was on her side.
Andrea: Right. So then the men go out to search for her. And Howard plans to kill Stu while they are out searching but he doesn’t have the balls.
Pat: He doesn’t have the opportunity, more like. He was going to kill Stu, but then Ralph came back, and Harold was going to kill him too, except that, what Nick was with him?
Andrea: Yeah, you’re right. Then Kafka catches up with them when they go out for a second search party, and he’s been attacked by wolves. WHAT THE HELL?
Pat: Lord Jesus.
Andrea: I am just gonna call him KAFKA from now on.
Pat: Yes, those things all are true.
Andrea: I found this whole part of the story kind of boring.
Something in that same chapter made me afraid to go in the basement. Apparently it was Nadine reminiscing about using a Ouija board.
Pat: I don’t think he ever says outright that it’s a Ouija board. To be honest, the way Flagg talked through whatever is was was fucking creepy. I LOVE TO LOVE NADINE.
Andrea: I know. I think that was what scared me.
Pat: I LOVE TO SHOW HER MY PEEN.
Andrea: I was home alone, and I had to go in the basement to put clothes in the dryer. And I don’t know if you have been in my basement but it is totally Blair Witch Project.
Pat: I have. It isn’t that scary.
Andrea: You are so wrong right now.
Pat: I’ve been down there, SON.
Andrea: This ends with me daring you to sleep in my basement, and a ghost eating you. FYI
Pat: I ain’t sleeping in no crappy basement.
Andrea: CAUSE YOU ARE SCARED. So then they start trying to take census and they form the burial committee. And Harold thinks maybe the free zone dudes are not so bad after all, but then he gets home and Nadine is ready to bang him so he decides Flagg is the way to go.
Pat: Nothing about the Nadine/Harold sodomy fest was particularly sexy. Dude dies without every putting his P in a VaG.
Andrea: That is cause all I could think about was Harold’s pimples. GROSS.
Pat: I thought his acne cleared up by then?
Andrea: Who cares. It was not cleared in my memory.
The End Of The Middle Of The Part After The End, Or: The Beginning Of The End Of The Book, Which Is Also The Beginning Of The New Beginning
Andrea: So then Mother Abagail comes back, and Nick gets killed by the explosion.
Pat: What happens is, Old Mother Hubbard says, “HEY, WHITE GUYS, I’M BACK. BUT I’MA GONNA DIE, AND YOU ARE GONNA TRAVEL TO VEGAS. ON FOOT.” Then she hands them a bushel of apples and asks how, in fact, do they like them.
Pat: I mean, that is essentially what happens. We didn’t talk about the explosion.
Andrea: I know.
Pat: In the movie, only Nick dies
Andrea: Who else dies in the book?
Pat: I don’t think anyone else is even injured. I believe a couple people die in the book. Why did Nick even try to diffuse the bomb?
Andrea: Cause he is nice? IDK.
Pat: If he had run like everyone else, one less person would have died!
Andrea: I think King just wanted to make him a tragic character.
Pat: He was already deaf and mute. What could be worse? Dead?
Andrea: Apparently so.
Pat: By the way, Harold being turned to evil? Not a very compelling transition. Someone calls him “Hawk” and he teeters like a douche for barely a second.
Andrea: I know. I hate Harold more than another other character. In any book, ever in life.
Pat: I don’t understand why he’s so angry about it, either. I was eighteen once. Stu wins. So what? Plenty of bitches in the snow.
Andrea: So Brad gets the power back on and then Mother A. calls the committee together in the middle of the night and says they need to go west. And then Fran freaks out and calls her a witch. Which is sort of awesome.
Pat: We didn’t talk about the power going back on.
Andrea: We just did. Brad gets the power back on. OH SNAP.
Pat: And blows half a block up.
Andrea: Right. Apparently thought that was not important because I didn’t write anything down about it at all.
Pat: They make a big deal of it in the movie. The whole turning things off thing. And I don’t think they make any noise about the burial detail.
Andrea: That’s weird because the burial detail really stuck with me and I pretty much don’t remember the explosion at all. My notes for Ch. 60 simply read “They leave.”
Pat: That’s exactly what they do. There’s very little actual standing in this book
Andrea: hardy har har. So Flagg is omniscient, in answer to my earlier stupid question, because he sets out guards to look for the judge and Tom, and he’s gonna send back their heads. Sending an old guy and a functional idiot: awesome or stupid?
Pat: First one is stupid. But they couldn’t have known how Flagg would be able to discover their spies. But sending Tom ended up being the right move.
Andrea: I thought it was funny that the judge got by cause the guard is reading comics. But he ended up doomed anyway.
Pat: And not as… retarded an idea as it might have seemed at first.
Andrea: Oh my god. SO I guess I am in charge of notes and you are in charge of puns?
Pat: Why change a good thing?
Andrea: So Dayna is fucking Lloyd to get info, which is working cause he’s an idiot. And then she gets dragged out of bed by Flagg in the middle of the night. And then that wicked scene where she impales herself on the window glass rather than betray Tom. YIKES. I am not tough or brave.
Pat: Yeah, that was awful. She has the same weapon as the characters in the Assassin’s Creed game. I dug that.
Andrea: What weapon?
Pat: The spring-loaded blade.
Andrea: Yup. I have to get me one of those.
Pat: Also: lesbian? Her send-off was a little weird. Other chick goes with her as far as wherever. But the question I have is: do you really want to travel via motorcycle from Boulder to Las Vegas with your breath smelling of pussy?
Andrea: They might have had a toothbrush. I mean, you would think they packed a toothbrush.
Pat: Probably would help with the border guards.
Andrea: I thought it was a nice touch that most of the people in Vegas were actually nice and normal. It wasn’t a society of monsters.
Pat: That was the whole thesis of the book, though. That people choose to be good or evil, and no matter what they choose, the choice is still there all the time to make again. Also, how the hell could they know that Flagg was the bad guy? They may never have dreamed about Mother Abagail.
Pat: (I guess telephone pole cruxificions would be a good indicator of Flagg’s evilness, actually.) So then Julie Lawry, that ho, runs into Tom Cullen. But no one listens to her, so whatever. Might as well not have happened. Didn’t even add to the suspense.
Andrea: Maybe SK just wanted to sex it up a bit for the movie, so he brought her character back knowing she would be played by someone boobalicious.
Pat: She really wasn’t. She was one of those chicks that is only hot in their time frame, like Elaine in Seinfeld.
Andrea: She is probably supposed to be like 30 right? Cause she seems WAY older. Julie Lawry was played by Shawnee Smith who went on to star in the Saw movies.
Pat: Oh God, was she the protége?
Pat: That’s scarier than any two Saw movies combined.
Andrea: So who made the distinction about who dreamed of who? God? Fate? Random chance?
Pat: You might as well ask me what fucking Maturin eats on the astral plane. Fucking astral spiders, I don’t know. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Flagg and Mother Abagail reached the people whose minds they could touch. They broadcast wide, and the receivers decided what they received.
Andrea: That seems plausible.
Pat: The better question is: where are all the Mexicans and Canadians?
Andrea: Apparently this just spans the United States and not all of North America.
Pat: So what about the other, I don’t know, let’s say 35 million people left in the world?
Andrea: Maybe there was like, a Chinese version of Mother A. and Flagg and so on. A good and evil for every group of people.
Pat: That doesn’t make any goddamn sense.
Andrea: Clearly it doesn’t make sense but what other explanation could there be?
Pat: This was supposed to be Armageddon. The final battle. It’s not an elimination tournament. After The Stand, the Boulder Free Zoners will face off against the Beijing Evil Team for control of the northern Pacific!
Pat: Let me just say that I liked the Judge, but only once he agreed to go. And then was flipping out at birds.
Andrea: When did he flip out at birds? Clearly, we took very different things away from this book.
Pat: Remember? When he was in the hotel room, he had a chance to shoot a bird he was CONVINCED was possessed by Flagg, but he had the safety on and the bird flew off?
Andrea: Oh right!
Pat: And! he totally killed one of the motherfuckers before he died. Annnnd lost most of his skull.
Andrea: Okay, so now finally at long last we are at Harold dying. I kind of even felt a little bad for him when Nadine left him behind.
Pat: Well, first, she stares down the hillside where Harold landed when he flew off his bike. For HOURS.
Andrea: Oh right. What a weirdo.
Pat: Poor Parker Lewis.It’s nice that Harold finally sees the error of his ways. Probably not so nice that people will get to read the lunacy he’s been writing since the plague hit.
I like that he tries to shoot her from where he is, and Flagg gets pissed.
Andrea: So then Nadine gets impregnated by Flagg and goes insane.
Pat: It was kind of fucked up, Flagg making Nadine basically walk a billion miles with no food, and then when she’s super starved and dehydrated and sun-stroked, it’s rape time!
Andrea: It was super fucked up. Which I guess is why she immediately had a total mental breakdown and becomes a weird catatonic sex zombie.
Pat: Now, I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’ve never had a vagina, nor have I ever had a penis inside me. So I will ask you: how horrifying is the image of being penetrated by a cold member?
Andrea: Very horrifying. First of all, it would be cold.
Pat: He was probably hung like a horseman.
Andrea: Are horsemen hung, necessarily?
Pat: It’s a pun about being hung like a horse and the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Please try to keep up.
Andrea: I got it, I just didn’t want it
Pat: I think from here, we have to talk about Trashcan Man losing it (relatively speaking), and then the Four Horsedudes of the Notpocalypse.
Pat: This is around about the time that Trash starts losing it, right? With the incident at Indian Springs?
Andrea: Yup. A few guys make fun of him and he rigs up all the trucks to explode.
Pat: The napalm bombs. The problem is, King didn’t maintain the haunted-by-voices-of-the-past thing enough throughout his story. So it was hard to believe that suddenly, they were back and overpowering his way-more developed obsession with Flagg.
Andrea: Agreed. I think that is part of the story being too sprawling with way too many characters. Which I guess is why an abridged version was a good idea to start with.
Pat: It’s basically A Tale Of Two Cities. Except not.
Andrea: So then Tom leaves town on his bike, which I for one found comical.
Pat: And he finally, actually spells moon.
The End Of The Beginning Of The New Beginning, Or: Everyone Is Walking, Still Nobody Making Any Sort Of Stand
Pat: So everyone leaves!
Andrea: Yes! and they find Harold’s bloated corpse
Pat: And they walk, and it’s basically a diet reality show.
Andrea: And then Stu falls and breaks his ankle and they leave him behind, and Larry doesn’t want to because then he wouldn’t be no nice guy.
Pat: Well, they just assume he’ll die down there. Which makes no sense, because they all assume they’re going to die in Vegas. Instead! Kojak brings him food? I mean, what?
Andrea: Yes. I found this ridic. Is Kojak sent by the ghost of Mother A.? Discuss.
Pat: Did you buy Kojak traveling from New England to Colorado?
Andrea: Not really, no!
Pat: During every discussion we have, you always put forward one idea that makes me want to murder you for crimes against humanity.
Andrea: And this is the one this time?
Pat: Yes. You want to know why?
Pat: Because if Kojak follows Glen from New England, why would he need the ghost of a Magical Negro to send him after Glen a second time?
Andrea: IDK. But, not only does he bring him a rabbit to eat, he brings him firewood.
Pat: Magical Dogs, like we haven’t seen those in King novels.
Andrea: Magical everything. SK should wear a wizard hat.
Pat: He doesn’t!?
Andrea: Well, I can’t say for a fact that he doesn’t
Pat: So the three keep moving! And they are getting thinner. Walking makes you thin!
Andrea: Yes. And then they get there. And are put in cages to be drawn and quartered. Whoa dude!
Pat: Well, first, they go to jail. And Glen Bateman trash talks Flagg into a puddle of poop.
Andrea: Right. I thought it was kind of ingenious that SK has them being framed for Trashy’s misdeeds.
Pat: Is that what happens?
Andrea: Yes, that’s what happens. Then the guy Whitney stands up for them and he gets set on fire
Pat: Well, sort of. He gets kilt by a weird light of some sort that apparently lingers for a million years. But before that, Trash finds himself a nuke.How? We don’t know. We’re told that he just has a “nose” for munitions. So the Devil is talking to Flagg, God is talking to Mother Abagail. Who the fuck is talking to Trash?
Andrea: And then he just drives up to the public drawn and quartering with it. Like it ain’t no thing.
Pat: I’m for real: who is telling him where stuff is?
Andrea: It has to be Flagg. Right? Cause he is doing evil, not good.
Pat: I kind of didn’t think it would be Flagg. Otherwise he would have known about Trash bringing the nuke.
Andrea: True. But we already know that he doesn’t know everything. Maybe he planted the seed of evil but didn’t know that he followed through?
Pat: Also, Flagg can’t control Trash. He’s the only variable in the entire book, basically. It seems more like Flagg needs Trash because Flagg doesn’t know the things Trash does.
Andrea: Do you think that is intentional or sloppiness on King’s part?
Pat: No, I think Trash is supposed to be his own kind of weird mystic.
Andrea: It was awesome that he was all falling apart from the radiation poisoning.
Pat: He’s the instrument of God winning, so he must have been tipped off to all the munitions by God.
Andrea: Let’s agree that that’s true.
So Flagg is destroyed.
Pat: Yes, and the sad part about it is that Trash doesn’t even get to see the big fire.
Andrea: That is sad. So then we flash back to Stu, who writes a letter for Fran and gives it to Kojak. The Magic Dog™.
Pat: He is Still Alive!
Andrea: Kojak drags him to the top of the landfill, where Tom Cullen finds him, and then Magic Deaf Nick comes to Tom in his dreams and tells him how to cure the infection. Can you imagine being all infected-legged and being dragged around by a dog?
Pat: He wasn’t being dragged around by a dog. He was in a makeshift Adult Bjorn. On Tom’s back.
Andrea: No, I mean when Kojak drags him up the hill. Apparently I was overwhelmed by the ending. All I wrote was “Fran and Stu reunite. The baby is recovering.”
Pat: She’s about ten years younger than Stu?
Andrea: I SAID I AM NOT DOING THE MATH. Don’t force me to do the math.
Pat: 100 months = 8 1/3 years.
Andrea: You are such a jerk
The End That Comes After The Climax, From Beginning To End
Pat: You realize, of course, that Tom and Stu getting back to Boulder takes longer than it does to walk to Las Vegas and kill Flagg.
Pat: My point is that the climax was a premature ejaculation, followed by King leaning over our bodies and catching his breath for four hours.
Andrea: It was okay. Not the momentous epic that I imagined it was. But I hadn’t read it since I was probably like 15.
Pat: Wait! What about Larry’s twins?
Andrea: I have no idea what you are even talking about.
Pat: Lucy is pregnant with twins when Stu gets back.
Andrea: Oh, right. How do they know it is twins with no modern medicine or ultrasound or anything?
Pat: Who says they don’t have ultrasound?
Andrea: OKAY SO maybe they do.
Pat: You think there isn’t a hospital in Boulder?
Andrea: I guess.
Pat: Anyway, then Frannie wants to go back east. GO BACK EAST?!
Andrea: Right? And they are thinking about it.
Pat: There’s fucking no one OUT THERE.
Andrea: People start moving all over, which I found sad. Stick together, free zone!
Pat: The problem is that they picked a dumb fucking place to move in the first place. Boulder? The fucking Rockies? If they had picked something like Portland, then okay!
Andrea: Portland is rainy as hell, it would have been full of rotting bodies.
Pat: It’s a relatively temperate climate. NOT IN A FUCKING MOUNTAIN RANGE.
Or in New England, where a Nor’easter would facefuck a post-apocalyptic society.
Thoughts On The End Of The New Beginning And The Start Of A Newer Beginning That Will, In All Likelihood, Also End Someday, Or: The Actual End
Andrea: So, this is the first time you read it, right? Was it better than you thought or worse?
Pat: It was better than the fucking movie
Andrea: That so does not answer my question.
Pat: My final thoughts are that it could have used some editing.
Andrea: Which it did receive.
Pat: Right. So my final thoughts are, “Okay then!”
I liked every character in the book more than the miniseries led me to believe I would.
Andrea: I just read something about how the only reason Stephen King agreed to have it edited was because Doubleday couldn’t bind a book that large at that time.
Andrea: So it would have had to come out in 2 volumes.
Andrea: Where does it rank for you among the books we’ve read so far.
Pat: I would say that Salem’s Lot was better.
Andrea: The book was good! I mean, as with any epic with a zillion characters, some sections are more interesting than others.
Pat: The Shining was worse. Carrie was worse.
Andrea: For real? I would say Carrie first, then The Shining, then this and Salem’s Lot tied. We are not even addressing Night Shift or Rage though.
Maybe short stories and/or Bachman books have separate rankings.
Pat: In ascending order: Carrie, The Shining, Rage, The Stand, Salem’s Lot .
The Stand was pretty much what I expected. I mean, I read a few hundred pages before, and I’ve seen the miniseries, and I’ve read over forty King novels. Not much chance of catching me by surprise, Stevie!