Roberta “Bobbi” Andersen is a poet and novelist living on a wide tract of land in rural Massachusetts. She’s got an aging dog named Peter, and apparently only one friend, another poet by the name of James “Gard” Gardener. She lives the typical life of a poet, which, shit, this isn’t going to be very interesting. Oh wait, she’s just unearthed something way out in her backyard!
Pat: We were robbed of the eventually realization that this metal thing she’s found is a motherfucking UFO.
Andrea: Until the buried saucer of menstrual blood rears it’s ugly head.
Pat: I mean, since we already knew going into this book that it’s about a flying saucer.
Andrea: I kind of envy her solitary life in the woods. It sounds pretty peaceful. Even though I wouldn’t really like it.
Pat: “It sounds pretty peaceful, except for the humongous flying saucer buried in the woods. And the anti-aging effect it has. And that it makes her dog evil.”
Andrea: I don’t own a dog, so I’m solid.
Pat: This metal object vibrates under her hand, and she loses time trying to dig up some of it. Then she recalls how she banged Gardener and he gave her an orgasm. Her only orgasm!
This is basically Susan from Salem’s Lot all over again.
She’s got gray-blue eyes, by the way, so take a drink.
Every girl has gray-blue eyes in King’s books.
Andrea: She seems less prudish than Susan. Susan was the one who douched when she had sexy thoughts, right?
Pat: I don’t remember. In the words of Jay, there is only one bitch. One bitch with many faces.
Why do you think she’s less prudish? Because she’s a POET? Because she banged another POET? Some of the most prudish people I know are poets.
Andrea: Mostly just cause she’s not douching if she has an impure thought, which makes her less prudish IN COMPARISON.
Pat: Who the fuck douches anyway? In this day and age?
Andrea: No one. It’s bad for vaginas.
Pat: Give the readers your usual spiel. DO IT.
Andrea: IT UPSETS. THE NATURAL FLORA. OF THE VAGINA.
WHICH IS SELF-CLEANING. LIKE AN OVEN.
BUT WITHOUT PIZZA IN IT.
Pat: Which I’ve always said is the one thing vaginas lack.
Andrea: Yeah, you’re right.
Pat: This Uncle Frank of Bobbi’s that keeps getting mentioned… you don’t think…?
Andrea: I have no clue what you’re getting at so I guess not.
Pat: Can’t think of anyone named Frank we should be concerned about?
Andrea: OHHHHH SHIT.
NOT FRANK DODD
Pat: I mean, it probably isn’t.
Andrea: The awesome thing is that neither of us have read this before, so it’s a surprise.
Pat: No surprise here. I was aware that it was boring.
Andrea: Is this the first one we’re reading for the first time together?
Pat: Uh… no? I don’t know. I’d never read Roadwork before.
Andrea: Me either.
Pat: So there goes that.
Bobbi’s period arrives early, which is weird because she’s in her forties and her uterus should be dead or dying by now. Also, her dog is acting a fuckin’ fool. She returns to the dig site and continues. This thing in the ground is huge as all get-out. Peter the dog is not happy. Nor are the woodland creatures dying for no reason in the general area of the thing, which Bobbi has decided to admit she totally thinks is a FLYING FUCKING SAUCER.
Pat: I mean, really? That’s your first thought, Bobbi?
Andrea: She’s in her 30s. I remember that specifically because she said something about being 38, and I was like, THAT’S IT HOLY SHIT I AM OLD ALSO.
Pat: I think this book may be an allegory about technology and not about alcoholism. But like super fucking garbled, analogy-wise.
Andrea: If it’s an allegory about technology, then it’s hitting us on the damn head pretty hard.
Pat: She’s resistant to word processors, but she’s drawn to this fucking space ship, it makes her dog hate the UNTOUCHED, UNGLOWING other animals.
Pat: TECHNOLOGY: IT’S A SLIPPERY SLOPE. TM 1986 SK.
Andrea: Maybe don’t live in the woods and have no contact with anyone except some smarmy poet you used to bang.
Pat: Do we even get a reason why the fuck she lives there? Besides being willed the house or whatever happened? Is this that Thoreau/Emerson bug that sometimes surfaces in writers?
Andrea: There is some noise about having a sister who is annoying and domineering, but that alone doesn’t seem like a reason to shun the world.
Pat: Poets are fucking obnoxious and intolerable.
So she’s conflicted about this UFO, she goes over all the explained sightings in history, blah blah blah, has those inner voices telling her to knock it the fuck off with the digging, but she continues the hell on with her heavy flow.
Andrea: Hasn’t this chick ever heard of tampons?
Pat: She’s like exclusively a pad woman, yes?
Andrea: Yes. I have to chalk this up to SK not knowing what tampons are, and that no woman uses pads.
Pat: How the fuck do you know what bitches be using in the 80s?
You had no flow until Pearl Jam’s Ten came out.
Andrea: I guess they probably were.
Pat: So clearly this fucking thing is giving off some sort of radiation, right?
Pat: Which ought to tie in nicely with the stories about Gardener and the protesting of nuclear plants later.
UGH. Vestigial hippies.
Andrea: This really just dragged. I am not into it so far.
So Peter and Bobbi are off to the vet. The vet’s like, “Okay, whatever,” and then Peter flips out and all the dogs in the office get angry, and it’s some sort of thing. Later on, there’s a storm, and Peter is fucking freaked the hell out. But so is Bobbi, because her fucking dog’s shitty cataracted eye is GLOWING GREEN.
Pat: Oh shit, just like the miniseries! Green lights everywhere!
Andrea: Have you seen the miniseries?
Pat: Bits and pieces.
Andrea: Also, the animal thing is stolen directly from The Omen. That part when they are at the safari and all the jungle animals start freaking the fuck out.
Pat: I don’t think “glowing eyes in animals” is particularly novel.
Andrea: No, all the animals barking and freaking out.
Pat: Nor is “animals freaking out en masse.”
Against her better (?) judgment, Bobbi goes back to digging after the storm, and discovers that she automatically and without knowing it packed a whole thing of maxi pads for the expedition.
Pat: See also: whut?
Andrea: HUH? Okay, I don’t care how roughing it you are, who the hell wants to change pads in the woods. I hope a bear eats her.
Pat: She’s under the mystical influence of the ship, dumb-dumb. Also, the bears being attracted to menstruating women thing is apparently not true.
Much to my chagrin. That was like my number one factual hoot.
Andrea: I doubt the ship was sending her brain waves about her flow.
Pat: No, but it was preparing her so she wouldn’t abandon the dig to change pads.
What’s supposed to be fucking sentient here? The ship? Because if it’s the aliens inside it, then why the fuck are they stuck in the ground? Surely they have the technological capability to blast their way out.
Andrea: I don’t know yet. I don’t think we’re far enough in to tell.
Pat: Well, it’s one or the goddamn other, isn’t it? I think they must be dead. But then what is the intelligence at work here? Lingering brain juice energy from their ET brains?
Andrea: I feel that I do not have the details needed to speculate, but I think it’s some kind of energy. Not necessarily sentient.
Pat: GREEN energy. So maybe it’s good for the planet.
Andrea: Good for the planet, but bad for Bobbi and her undies.
Pat: “The Dig, Continued”?
Andrea: I don’t know. I hate this book so much. I want it to die in a rain of Bobbi’s period blood.
Pat: That is fucking metal, dude.
Andrea: Oh, you didn’t know? I’m metal now. Metal chicks really like watching 16 and pregnant.
Pat: So yeah, Bobbi’s out digging the fuck around, and then we move onto James “Gard” Gardener, not to be confused with Action News anchor Jim Gardener.
Andrea: I hate this guy. Man what a smarmy ho. No redeeming qualities.
HEY I’M A DRUNK POET I SUCK
Pat: I was just about to suggest we get the Tommyknockers miniseries and edit it so that every time some GRAND REVELATION happens, the Action News theme song kicks in.
Is our blog getting too provincial?
So, Gardener Takes A Fall, a chapter in which we finally meet the only man to bring Bobbi Anderson to climax, a poet who is sort of but not really a recovering alcoholic who once blacked out and shot his wife, who did not die, although his career as a professor of poetry did. Which means he is broke like all poets. He has enlisted in the Poetry Caravan, an absolutely improbable roving troupe of poets who are paid to perform their banal poems to crowds of academics and sodomites, probably. Ol’ Gard hates the lady who runs the Caravan almost as much as he hates nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants, which are both his bête noirs AND his best bet for a metaphor for alcoholism.
Andrea: I’m sorry, but I didn’t buy the uptight bitch who ran the poetry thing
If he was as awesome a writer as he was supposed to be wouldn’t, she have been kissing his feet?
Pat: What I didn’t buy is that she’s the ONLY one, when in fact most poets are uptight bitches. Even the guys.
I think she enjoys watching someone more talented than her fail at life.
Andrea: I guess I don’t know that many poets. Do people even strive to be poets anymore? It seems kinda passé.
Pat: Are you nuts? There are are more of them than ever.
Andrea: I guess none of them live in South Jersey.
Pat: The only fun part about this chapter is the persistent references to other King works. Gard wakes up from a bender in Arcadia Beach, near the Alahambra and Speedy Parker’s amusement park, and Jack Sawyer helps him pick up his poetry notebooks.
Andrea: I don’t even know if I would call that fun.
Pat: We also learn that one of the nuclear disasters that has Gard all riled up about nuclear power happened at Seabrook, which I think is the place Jack and Ed (?) referred to in The Talisman when they talked about that “Seabrook Island stuff.”
There also seems to be the implication that Arrowhead is a nuclear plant, too?
Andrea: Oh yeah, that part was pretty cool. If only because The Mist remains badass as hell.
Pat: Even though it clearly was not in The Mist.
Andrea: The Arrowhead Project? Yes, that’s what caused the mist.
Pat: Yeah, but he calls it the “Arrowhead installation.” And is referring to it like it, too, was a nuclear power plant.
Andrea: So, that doesn’t mean they are not related??
Pat: I think we’re in an adjacent universe here. Arrowhead is a nuclear power plant, and Jack Sawyer’s mother died in a car crash.
Andrea: Does Jim have any redeeming qualities?
Pat: I would say that Gard’s only bad quality is his weird nuke obsession. Otherwise, I kind of liked him.
Andrea: The weird nuke obsession is my favorite thing about him.
Pat: Kudos to King for hanging a lampshade on the nuke metaphors and all, but points taken for doing it this way: “It was symbolic, yeah, okay, you didn’t have to be Freud to figure that what he was really protesting was the reactor in his own heart.”
Pat: I don’t think you even need to be Freud’s cleaning lady to pick up that heavy rock.
Andrea: AUDIBLE GROAN
FROM THE REACTOR IN MY HEART
Pat: I mean, so Gardener just falls off the wagon, gets into a huge fight with a guy he calls Ted The Power Man, and maybe punches a guy he calls Arglebargle.
Andrea: That was pretty epic. He’s like all screaming at Ted’s wife about dead babies and she’s like, “Oh shit, you knew about this?” Instead of being in solidarity with him and saying, “This guy cray.”
I also like that he beat someone with an umbrella. So there’s that.
Pat: I don’t understand why James’s ardent offense at nuclear power was met with such retarded obliviousness. Like, sure, Ted was wrong and probably a Nuclear Power Man, but everyone else should have had Gard’s back.
Andrea: Well, yeah. I mean, if there is a subculture that’s more ephemeral and crunchy than fucking POETS, I don’t even know what it is. I guess they knew that the nuke money was funding their party and whatnot?
Pat: Maybe this was a hot and intransigent topic back then. But nuclear power is so clearly dangerous now, and everyone’s money is in everyone’s pockets to such a degree that it lacks any ooomph whatsoever.
Which I guess is why there’s the umbrella beating.
Andrea: All of this seems kind of beside the point though, since this book is OMG SO BORING.
Pat: It’s also… I mean, we spent a while building up that there is a fucking SPACE SHIP buried underneath Bobbi’s property, and then we take this sabbatical to the drunken world of Jim Gardener.
I mean, I get it. We need to establish a character that will potentially break Bobbi out of her loopiness, and he should probably be able to go OH HEY THAT’S TOTALLY RADIATION THERE.
Andrea: Hi, my name is Gard, and I’m a drunk Gieger counter. Sup fools?
Pat: Then he blacks out for a whole week and wakes up in the prelude to The Talisman.
That’s pretty much all that happens. He also has this feeling that something is seriously wrong with Bobbi, and sort of SHINES some information about what’s going on.
Andrea: Yeah. And then he gets there, and Bobbi is looking all cancer-ridden, which was actually kind of an interesting way of showing her deterioration since we are “away” from her at that point.
Pat: So tommknockers are real mythical figures who liked to collapse mineshafts.
Andrea: Yeah. Do you think that we would like this book more if it was about a childhood myth we were actually aware of?
Maybe not. I was not aware of Shankill Butchers and that’s still one of the best Decemberists songs
Pat: Pet Sematary would seem to indicate the answer is no, because we didn’t know about the Wangdidlion before that.
Pat: Wow, I can’t believe I came that close.
Andrea: I did actually, from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
Pat: You are a fucking LIAR.
Andrea: YES I DID. WHY WOULD I LIE ABOUT THAT.
Pat: Okay, maybe not, I cannot find a point where we discussed origins.
So I am reading this book ever so fucking slowly.
Andrea: I have noticed.
Pat: It’s not even that the book sucks. It doesn’t even have enough force to suck.
Andrea: Yeah. It’s boring.
Let’s bang it out so we can get to the next thing. Which has to be less boring? Right?
Pat: Next up is Dark Half, speaking of people getting beaten with umbrellas.
Andrea: That was an umbrella used as a substitute for a prosthetic arm.
Pat: FUCKIN’ JIM GARDENER AND HIS GODDAMN SKIING FLASHBACKS.
Andrea: OH GOD YEAH.
WHO EVEN CAREDS ABOUT YOUR STUPID LEG. GAWD.
Pat: Here’s how I’d describe it:
Once upon a time, a young James “Gard” Gardener, 17, was about to get into a young girl’s pants. He was close, at least. Then he beefed it on a ski trip. It’s a boring flashback that teaches us nothing, so it’s a really good look that it will never come up again. Except it will, as garbled dream garbage.
Andrea: He’s like the worst character in any SK book. Ever.
Pat: No one is named Annmarie. And if they are, they don’t spell it the fuck like that.
Pat: Is this all a CLEVER PLOY by SK to distract us from the fact that Gard is hitching a ride to Bobbi’s place in the Mystery Machine?
Andrea: Say what now?
Pat: The hippies that give him a ride in their van, then pass around a hat to give him some cash. And they leave him crying in the rain at their kindness.
Andrea: THEY LITERALLY. PASSED. A HAT.
And they let him keep the hat, right?
Pat: Dude, I don’t even know.
Andrea: Who has a spare hat just laying around?
Pat: I was imagining a top hat.
Andrea: UGH WHY.
Pat: So he would’ve looked like a depressed, shoeless clown.
Whose makeup has all run off in the rain.
Which would be symbolic of his Something.
Andrea: I was imagining that gross beret that Rob used to wear.
Pat: This is before he gets a ride from New England Trucker Stereotype Old Boy, who famously says, “Shoot a pickle” instead of “You’re welcome.”
AKA Andrea’s favorite characters always.
Andrea: I guess. This one didn’t really make an impression. None of these characters do. Usually SK’s characters have an indelible quality, but these all seem really flat.
Pat: Not even lazy, it’s just… yeah, I guess “flat” is the best word.
Andrea: Like, Bobbi keeps referring to her sister who is apparently a demon from hell, but I don’t even be caring.
Pat: This is about as good a time as any to bring up the fact that this is just the laziest book ever. There’s nothing exciting about the writing itself, so much so that it makes a SPACESHIP BURIED IN THE EARTH unexciting.
Andrea: It SUCCCCCCKS.
Pat: Look, don’t expect me to give a shit about a sister figure who is dastardly when I’ve read fucking Pet Sematary. She ain’t no fucking Zelda.
Andrea: Yeah. This is the one he doesn’t remember cause he was too coked up, right? As he mentioned in On Writing?
Pat: You said the other day that it was Cujo he woke up to having written after a coke binge.
Andrea: Maybe that’s it. I can’t remember.
Pat: You are a super helpful partner.
Andrea: STUFFFFFF ITTTTT.
Gard makes it to the Anderson homestead, which we are reminded yet again, for no real reason, is still known in town as the Garrick House. He receives a brief transmission on the metal plate in his head, which is something that’s happened before and will TOTALLY NOT BE USEFUL AT ANY FUTURE TIME IN THIS BOOK. NO WAY.
Andrea: I hate his metal plate and his face.
Pat: You haven’t even seen his face. I guess Gard is Jimmy Smits, whose face I always sort of hated.
Andrea: Oh really? He was awesome on Sons of Anarchy.
Pat: He was brilliant in West Wing, too. But something about his career during my formative years made me dislike him.
Using my usual rubric, I would say that Jimmy Smits is the Bill Pullman to Lou Diamond Philips’ Bill Pullman.
Andrea: I don’t know the difference between Bill Pullman and Bill Paxton. Which one was on Big Love?
Pullman is the better actor without the goofy fucking face full of stupid.
Andrea: What was he in?
Pat: Paxton: Twister. Pullman: Independence Day.
Andrea: The new Godzilla movie looks kinda badass!
Pat: It’s going to kick ass, but that is Bryan Cranston, not Bill Pullman
Andrea: I know.
Pat: In that case, I would do it this way: if Pullman was Solid Snake, and Paxton was Liquid Snake, Bryan Cranston would be Big Boss. And you would be confused.
Andrea: I am totally confused.
ANYFUCK, Gard gets to Bobbi’s house, and she looks like—in King’s words—Karen Carpenter in the throes of anorexia nervosa, the day before she died. She just goes the fuck to sleep, right after telling him not to call anybody or their friendship is over. While she sleeps, the following things happen: Gard has a drink, “dreams” that Bobbi wakes up, shoots green light out of her eye sockets and cures his sore throat, and he discovers a high school science fair’s worth of weirdass gadgets all around the house.
Pat: It sounds like she has everything ever advertised in the back of Boys’ Life laying around her house.
Andrea: Did you ever hear the Sonic Youth song about Karen Carpenter?
“And remember, you used to tell me, mom… I looked so underfed.”
Pat: No, and no one cares.
Andrea: YES, because it’s really creepy.
Pat: Zero fucks given.
Andrea: How much time elapsed between the time we last saw Bobbi and the time when Jim arrives at her estate?
Pat: Err… three months, right? Because that’s how he gauges how long she’s had to write a 400-page novel. Possibly three weeks, although, no, not possible. Maybe they talked on the phone?
Andrea: It’s not really clear, because this book is sloppy as fuck.
Pat: I don’t think it’s sloppiness; it’s just totally unmemorable, even just after you’ve read it.
Andrea: This is like, the valley in between the SK peaks.
Pat: So he finds a bunch of D-cell batteries in egg crates all over the place. One is running the hot water heater in the basement, and there’s a sun-light like inside it, protected by a force field.
Then there’s… there’s other stuff. Mostly boring. Apparently her tractor has been retrofitted to include a gear position for levitation.
Andrea: So the aliens or whatever are making her do this, but no real explanation as to why. Nor as to why she is skeletal now.
Pat: Because she hasn’t eaten, dumb-dumb.
That’s the explanation for her gauntness. Not eating. And extreme physical labor. Not sure how you missed that.
Andrea: I didn’t miss it, I just wasn’t sure if there was also an aliens-sucking-the-life-force-out-of-her aspect that was not adequately explained
Pat: I don’t goddamn think so, but I also don’t goddamn know.
So she has a levitating tractor now. At least so far, that’s the implication.
Andrea: Which like, why? I don’t even know.
LEVITATING TRACTOR CORE
Pat: To lift the fucking thing out of the earth? To lift huge amounts of dirt and move it quickly? Maybe it gives the driver an erection?
Andrea: I GUESS WE’LL FIND OUT.
Pat: Also, there is a completed manuscript on her desk, and it’s the best thing Gard has ever read by her.
Andrea: I hope we aren’t gonna get more book-within-a-book.
Because I just can’t.
Pat: I was worried about that when we got the title of Buffalo Soldiers and the first paragraph. But Lo, it was not to be. Praise King.
Andrea: I just genuflected.
Bobbi wakes up and wants some breakfast before she tells her story. Clearly, she’s lost her mind because she brushes her teeth like RIGHT BEFORE she eats. Fucking gross, Bobbi. She regales Gard with the story of the Spaceship I Found In My Backyard, and the story of the D-cell battery gadgets littered around the house. Her typewriter now just plugs into her subconscious and writes books. Wheeeeee! Oh, also, Peter the Dog is dead. One wonders about the implications for Bobbi! There is no mention of alien-augment vibrators.
Andrea: The implications aren’t good, that’s for sure. It seems like there are some pretty glaring parallels here about slavery to technology. And death.
Pat: Well, yeah. I just can’t figure out how it bears out allegorically.
Is technology just technology? Or is it technology and drugs are technology?
Andrea: Or is technology an allegory for drugs, and he really doesn’t care about technology?
Pat: This is Stephen King we’re talking about. Of course he’s also talking about technology. This is “Word Processor Of The Gods.” As “Trucks” is to Christine.
Andrea: In the 80s though? What, was he like listening to too many Quiet Riot tapes?
Pat: …what the fuck does that mean?
Andrea: I don’t even know.
Pat: Quiet Riot?
Andrea: I DON’T KNOW OKAY. IT JUST CAME TO ME.
Pat: What does “Cum On Feel The Noize” have to do with technology?
Also, of course the 80s. That’s when computers started to appear everywhere.
Andrea: The cassette tapes are the technology part.
Pat: Do you look over the things you type before you hit enter?
Pat: So the typewriter works by reading the subconscious mind, but Bobbi can also use it like a one-way telegraph. Also, she can sort of read minds, although not totally Gard’s mind because he is DEEP? Or maybe it’s the metal plate thing? Like tin foil hats? Which will probably also come into play later, because whatever.
Andrea: I just ccan’t even muster any interest in this book.
Like at all.
IT’S SO BAD.
Pat: “Your Tommyknockers came from space.” That sounds like the weirdest UPS tracking report of all time.
Andrea: Tommyknockers is not a very scary boogeyman name.
Pat: I mean, Wendigo sounds like a takeout-only Wendy’s spinoff.
Wait… is Tommyknockers just Christine with a UFO instead of a car?
And without compelling characters?
Or good writing?
Or my ability to give a single holy shit?
Andrea: Maybe? Please expound.
The car made Arnie do things like the spaceship is using Bobbi?
I hate the name Bobbi, by the by. Having to type it offends me.
Pat: Yeah, to its own ends.
Bobbi is the worst name in a litany of awful names King has dreamed up. Well, not dreamed up.
Andrea: WTF is wrong with Roberta? I mean, if she HAS to be called something dumb.
Pat: Maybe it’s important that we know without question that these are the whitest people alive.
Andrea: No, because then they would be named “Jaxon,” which is a name I just read.
Andrea: I listened to Rumours like four times today. That’s pretty white.
Pat: That’s modern day whiteness. So white it comes with the British spelling.
Andrea: Rumours was out when this book came out.
Pat: Much like the blues, it has taken white people a long time to appropriate the practice of using weird, made-up names from black people.
Andrea: Oh you mean “Jaxon.” It’s more the KRE8TIV spelling, not the totally made-up-ness. The worst thing ever is a name that is a word but the word is misspelled. Like Kadence
Pat: Yeah, just like the blues, even this we can’t get right.
Pat: Alison is super against girls named Allison.
Andrea: Yeah, I prefer the one-L spelling. My cousin Alison named her daughter Adison. There are so many levels on which I find that offensive.
Pat: She maintains that it would be “ALL-i-son” instead of “AL-i-son”
Andrea: She’s right.
Pat: Isn’t Addison spelled with two Ds?
Andrea: I don’t know. It’s dumb either way.
Pat: This is what happened at the end of Carlin’s career. When there was nothing worthwhile to talk about, he resorted to making fun of stupid white people’s kid’s names.
Tommyknockers has had the same effect on us that Carlin’s wife dying had on him.
Andrea: It is pretty life-ruining.
My coworker just had a girl named Wren. Another one had a “Joss Norah.”
Pat: JOSS NORAH?
Andrea: Not even lyin’.
Pat: First of all, if Joss is anything, it’s a man’s name. So sayeth Joss Whedon.
Andrea: IT’S NOTHING. EXCEPT: YOU NAMED YOUR KID AFTER TWO SINGERS THAT ARE WHATEVER.
Pat: I think Joss is actually a thing.
Andrea: IT’S A DUMB THING. Name your kid Jocelyn if you must.
Avery’s little boyfriend in preschool is named Roman.
Pat: Roman is okay. It’s just outdated.
Andrea: Her previous little boyfriend was named Dexter Bell-Schmeely.
Pat: Nope. Not possible.
Andrea: Yes. Or as I like to call him, Dexter Bell-Smelly.
Pat: So it never occurred to his hyphenated parents that kids would call him Smelly Belly?
Andrea: I GUESS NOT.
Pat: Which: apparently 5 year olds are more clever than you.
Joss is an old German name meaning “I’m German.” Jocelyn is the Anglicized version, and was originally a dude’s name, much like Evelyn.
Andrea: And Stephanie, apparently.
Pat: This is so much more fun than discussing Tommyknockers. I’m going to leave it in as a protest until Stephen King takes the book out of publication.
HOW DID THIS COME OUT OF HIS HEAD THIS SOON AFTER IT?
Andrea: OR MISERY FOR THAT MATTER. OH HEY I JUST KNOCCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK, LEMME JUST POOP ON A REAM OF BOND AND CALL IT A BOOK.
Pat: It would probably help to know when every book was written, not just when it was published.
Andrea: The magician kid part disturbed the hell out of me.
Pat: This is the stuff you usually just gobble up. But I was like, I BET SHE’S GONNA HATE THIS BECAUSE IT’S THE FARTYKNOCKERS.
Andrea: I did like it! But it was disturbing.
Pat: You love learning about the lives of little town peoples. I don’t know why you aren’t living in some small burg in New England, Mrs. Carmodying it up.
Andrea: I sort of am. I mean, my street is very small towny.
Pat: Are you the local busybody of Everytown Terrace?
Andrea: I only have Tim to gossip to, and he is not good at gossiping.
Pat: You have to have a knitting circle or some shit.
Andrea: No. Not in my neighborhood
The closest thing would probably be my mom group
This one dumb lady posted a picture of her kid’s face all grunty from pooping, with the caption “guess what he’s doing?”
What in the actual fuck
Pat: You’re like a year away from running bake sales and helping the library sort out its card catalogue.
Pat: Which is probably still on index cards. You probably tell kids about the Dewey Decimal system all the goddamn time.
Andrea: I DON’ T even know where you are going with this.
Pat: I’ve already gone.
And where I was was the future.
A place where you have a bejeweled glasses-holding necklace.
What are those things called?
Andrea: Um, lanyard?
Pat: That ain’t no fucking lanyard.
Andrea: YES OMG.
Pat: Oh wow. They totally are.
When you saw that book two was “Tales Of Haven,” did you think, “Oh, at least Bobbi and Gard were starting to bore Stephen King too”?
Andrea: Yeah, I mean, and at first I rolled my eyes because it was all boring history. Until you get to the fake preacher that banged everyone.
Pat: And gave Haven its name.
Andrea: And birthed a crapload of blue-eyed babies.
Pat: Although you kind of get this overall feeling that Haven is just a cut-rate Derry, in every possible way. Sure, an evangelical preacher swept through town and galvanized the population, then impregnated like nine young women, but when you’re twenty miles down the Penobscot from Derry, a year or so of a sexy preacher is whatever.
Andrea: It’s totally a cut-rate Derry. They even mention that the loggers spend their paychecks in the “big city” of Derry.
Pat: If you’ll notice, one of the quotes before book two begins is from “It Came Out Of The Sky.” Which, did Stephen King figure out that It came from the sky all because he was listening to “It Came Out Of The Sky”?
Andrea: I don’t even know that song.
Pat: He probably just made it up.
So Haven used to be called Montville Plantation. Then it was called Coodersville. Commence snickering.
Andrea: And then they named it after a guy who got killed in the war.
Pat: You don’t get a chuckle out of “Coodersville”?
Andrea: No, because I’m a grown-ass woman.
Buttsville would make me laugh, though.
Pat: The town is also briefly called Ilium, which is a town in New York in a bunch of Vonnegut books.
“Came a fast-talking revival preacher who for some reason bypassed Derry…” Yeah, wonder why even a fake preacher would just cross Derry off his list.
Andrea: I don’t know why he didn’t just make this happen in Derry.
Haven is easily his most shakily mythologized fake town
Pat: When, precisely, would Derry have had the time to have a huge flying saucer buried underneath it for 5 million years?
Andrea: Oh god, anytime? I don’t know?
Pat: Also, when would the whole town have had time to be possessed by a SECOND extraterrestrial force? After it had been destroyed in 1985?
Andrea: UGH I DONT EVEN KNOW OKAY.
Pat: I KNOW YOU DON’T KNOW THAT’S WHY I BE ASKING.
Andrea: OK THEN.
LET’S TALK ABOUT HILLY.
Pat: We have to talk about Becka Paulson first.
And why King chose to write it “‘Becka,” as though anyone does that.
Andrea: OH YEAH.
‘Becka Paulson has three problems. Number one, that apostrophe in her name. Number two, the 3D picture of Jesus over her television has started talking to her. Number three, one of the things Jesus has told her is that her husband is banging the mail sorting lady at the post office.
Andrea: I felt kinda bad for ‘Becka, but it was also funny that she was like, “Yeah, I don’t really wanna be banging him anyway.”
Pat: Do you think mail-sorting would indicate some kind of sexual proficiency? Like, the act would make you better at handjobs or something?
Andrea: I don’t even know, but I hated that they were banging on the catalogs. I don’t want spooge and sweat on my catalogs.
Pat: Your reaction was, “Don’t fuck on MY mail”?
Andrea: YES. What, like you’re just blasé about people fucking on your mail?
Pat: I live in this century. All my mail just goes straight into the trash anyway.
Andrea: So probably the most chilling thing that Jesus told ‘Becka that one dude was the guy who “accidentally” shot his dad while hunting.
Pat: “Moss.” The guy’s name was MOSS.
And his daddy used to lube up with LARD and sodomize him and his brother. Which King tells us is happening in a quaint New England town by calling it “buggery.”
Andrea: “Not me tonight please Daddy.”
Pat: I’m not sure why ””””’Becka wasn’t suspicious that Jesus sounded like a fucking yahoo. The real Jesus wouldn’t complain that the TV signal tickled his feet.
Andrea: She was a little suspicious at first, but she didn’t seem like the brightest bulb in the drawer.
Pat: No bulb in a drawer is bright.
Ol’ Joe Paulson is such a paint-by-numbers bad-guy husband. And he’s not even that BAD.
Andrea: He just wants to bang a hot mail lady and see what it’s like to shoot off between her tits.
Pat: Like, his Hussy invents some D-cell battery shit to sort mail automatically, so they can have more time to fuck by the Plain Dealer stacks, and he’s like, “Not bad. For a woman.” And her response is just, “Now we can do it even longer.”
Andrea: But then he’s like, oh wait, better not say that out loud if I want to get my knob slobbed.
Pat: Do we even get ages on these people, except for the reefer smokers and the lesbians? Because the Paulsons could goddamn be our age.
Andrea: No, they were mid-40s because the mail hussy was six years older and was around 50.
Pat: Oh good god. And she still calls sex “it”?
Andrea: That’s so gross. She is a very trim, shapely 50, though.
So, long story short, Becka““““` hooks up some D-cells to the TV and fries her husband. Then she regrets it and touches him and gets fried too. Great story, Stevie.
Pat: “It had been her all along, her, her, her, and she was murdering her husband.”
Andrea: His eyeballs pop. That was my main takeaway.
Pat: And the TV broadcasts things from around town.
Andrea: That was pretty cool. I’d watch that shit
Pat: Of course you would, you yenta.
Hillman “Hilly” Brown has been a restless kid his whole life. One time, he disappeared from a hospital like he was in a Mike Birbiglia story and was found sleeping with big rats in the basement. His parents think he’s fucking whack-a-doo, but it turns out Hilly is a really smart kid with a super unfortunate name. He’s got a brother he loves, who idolizes him, and a penchant for running through hobbies like Mike Hanlon runs through hoodrats. When the spaceship is unearthed, he’s at the end of his illustrious magic career, but he gets the idea to start BUILDING great tricks, which, surprising NO ONE AT ALL, involve a lot of D-cell batteries.
Andrea: Uggggghhhh the feeling in the pit of my stomach when David is begging him not to disappear him. And then he doesn’t come back.
Pat: Were you thinking what I was thinking?
Andrea: I don’t know….
Pat: Come on, Hilly puts his little brother into a disappearing machine… I expected him to come back, but…
…maybe a bit whiter of hair…
Andrea: OH MAN.
Pat: …possibly screaming bloody murder…
Andrea: I did think of that, especially when he says that he doesn’t even know where the things go when they are disappeared.
Pat: Ev Hillman returns later, so you better explain Hilly and Hillman’s relationship and whatnot.
Andrea: Ev Hillman is the grandfather of Hilly.
Pat: You sucking at explaining Ev Hillman. I’m giving you a chance to get in on the summary business, trick.
Andrea: Well I need preparation, I can’t just bang it out at a moment’s notice.
Pat: It’s been a DAY NOW.
Ev Hillman is the grandfather and he’s kind of a stooge. Maybe because he got buggered so much. For example, he just sponges off his son and wife all the time and he’s really annoying
Pat: Did I miss that? Is that really a thing? He got buggered?
Pat: Fuck me, I’m getting tommyknockered.
Andrea: Is this not the same kid who is the younger brother of the guy who shot the dad for buggery?
Pat: Uh… I don’t think so? I think I would remember a dude named Moss Hillman.
Andrea: Are they not both named Ev? The younger brother was named Ev.
Pat: No. Moss Harlingen. Brother of Em Harlingen.
Pat: Jesus fucking Christ, Hallowell.
Andrea: I thought he got buggered.
Pat: You think everyone gets buggered.
How much lard do you imagine there is in Haven, anyway?
Andrea: Hilly’s dad buys the magic set as a gift from the grandpa, and it is the star gift.
Pat: STAR GIFT.
Then Hilly builds a disappearing machine for his new show, and…
Andrea: HE DISAPPEARS HIS FUCKING BROTHER.
Even though the kid is weeping.
Pat: And then loses it on his grandpa.
Andrea: Who just kind of wanders away cause he sucks so bad.
Pat: Well, he’s fucking heartbroken by it. Imagine you get a gift for your grandson that just lights him up, and then a year later, it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to him. And he TELLS you.
Andrea: The creepiest part about this scene was everyone in the audience just being so zoned out.
Pat: They’re zonked out because they think it’s just some simple trick, and he’s doing it over and over again. So fair play to them.
Also, as we learn from the Ruth Causland chapters, they probably all knew what was about to happen, because David Brown, Brother Of Hilly, was not BECOMING.
Andrea: I thought that it was purposeful because the spaceship was making them that way. So that then he would get agitated and disappear David, even though he knew he shouldn’t.
Pat: Lest you forget, Hilly is under the influence of the TKs himself.
Pat: Who would win in a fight? The Tommyknockers or the Langoliers?
Andrea: The Tommyknockers, probably? I don’t know that I am intimate enough with either to make this judgment.
Pat: Dude, the Langoliers EAT WORLDS.
Andrea: Okay, so then obviously they win.
Pat: Except the Tommyknockers would never be in yesterday, so they would never meet the Langoliers. Unlike lazy children, who the Langoliers always get.
Andrea: You brain wastes a lot of energy on dumb match-ups.
Pat: When David doesn’t come back, and Hilly is offering to give him “all the GI Joes,” man…
Andrea: Oh god. My heart.
Pat: “All the G.I. Joes! Forever and ever!”
It should be mentioned, lest our readers not get the point because we elided over it: Hilly is the best older brother ever, and loves his little brother as much as his little brother idolizes and loves him.
So: super extra sad 5000!
Andrea: Yeah. It is pretty much the most awful thing. I can’t even imagine.
Especially when we get to that part later when Ruth sees David on the street, and she can tell he knows he is doomed.
BENT AND JINGLES, OR: I GUESS THIS CHAPTER IS NECESSARY, BUT ONLY INSOMUCH AS IT GIVES US THAT USUAL KING TRICK OF SAYING WHAT’S HAPPENED TO SOMEBODY FIRST, THEN GIVING THE ENTIRE BACK STORY.
Pat: PART ONE: IN WHICH ANDREA STARTS SINGING THE LYRICS TO DOLL PARTS.
Pat: Because of all the doll parts in the explosion?
Andrea: OH YEAH.
Pat: Do you think you’ve gotten dumber over the years?
Andrea: Yeah. Absolutely.
Pat: This chapter is largely useless.
Ruth Causland, Haven’s constable, has been blown up in an explosion that shot the town hall steeple off like a rocket. Nobody was at all hurt except her and her creepy-ass collection of dolls, which we will learn about later. Her late husband was a state trooper, so she is double-beloved in the town, even though everyone is a-tommyknockin’ now. Bent and Jingles are state troopers investigating the explosion and its intense oddness, and it occurs to them that Haven seems just a little fucking goofy these days. There’s a lot of throwing up over Ruth’s dead body, which they identify by the hand wearing her husband’s wedding ring, and as they’re leaving the town to maybe get more people involved in investigating El Weirdness, they’re stopped by what might be an alien-influenced rail gun energy canon thing.
Pat: Or something?
My summary was almost longer than the chapter itself. Though not nearly as boring.
Andrea: It definitely drug out.
Pat: The only cool thing is that everyone in town just takes a nap just before Ruth explodes. Like cows before rain.
Andrea: Is my assumption correct that the Tommyknockers need to get rid of her because she’s too strong?
Pat: Because she’s not becoming, yes. Just like David Brown.
Andrea: THE ME THAT YOU KNOW IS NOW MADE UP OF WIRES
AND EVEN WHEN I’M RIGHT WITH YOU I’M SO FAR AWAY
Pat: Is this some Hole bullshit?
LIKE YOU DID NOT LISTEN TO THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL.
Pat: I really didn’t.
Andrea: Oh. There is a song called “The Becoming.” That’s all.
Pat: I’m not sure anyone cares. This may be less cared about than Tommyknockers, the book so bad people are actually turning off our blog.
THEY’RE SWITCHING CHANNELS.
Andrea: I don’t know if anyone is even on our channel to begin with.
Pat: Nothing to add about Bent and Jingles, the state trooper team that sounds like a gay bar in New Hope?
Andrea: Not really? They left no impression on me whatsoever.
I mean, Jingles? Are you fucking with us, SK?
Pat: That’s worse than BENT?
Andrea: Kinda, yeah. In that Bent could actually be a last name.
A terrible one, but still.
Pat: I’m not going to look it up on Facebook, but no.
Anyway: huge alien gun. Finally. Finally a huge alien gun.
Did we entirely skip through the end of the last book?
I feel like we never discussed Bobbi telling Gard about everything.
Andrea: We did, briefly.
I don’t remember what his reaction was, though.
Pat: Even the part about Gard becoming the Uberlord of the Earth, keeping everyone in line with alien tech?
Andrea: Nope, that we definitely didn’t discuss. Nor that Bobbi is reading Gard’s mind.
Pat: She isn’t reading his mind, dumb-dumb.
She can’t. Because of the metal plate. CALLED IT.
THIS BOOK SUCKS MY BIG BALLS.
Can I make a prediction?
Pat: This will only be trumped by Roadwork in the WORST BOOK EVER department?
Andrea: Gard saves the day, because the Tommyknockers can’t get him because of the metal plate, and that’s why they kept harping on the ski accident.
Pat: Yeah, I already said that.
Congratulations on making a prediction that I already made.
I could’ve predicted you’d do that.
Andrea: I predict you poop too much.
Pat: Hello, pot? This is the kettle. You poop too much.
Okay, so back to GARDENER DECIDES: AN ABC AFTER SCHOOL SPECIAL.
Bobbi and Gard go out for a little walkabout to see the spaceship. Like you do. It’s totally a spaceship. Bobbi is lying to Gard about all kinds of stuff, hoping that the ship will TOUCH Gardener when Gardener TOUCHES it. This does not happen because Gard has a metal plate in his head, which works the way a tinfoil hat does (???). We did not see this coming. Bad news: the old Radio Broadcasting problem is back in Gard’s head. This will probably be how the Tommyknockers fight back against him? Emboldened by the prospect of fixing the world from atop his Spacey Chariot, Gard decides to opt-in for universal healthcare.
Pat: “This ship has been here for at least fifty million years… the glacier broke around it.” Excuse me, Ms. Anderson, but what about your expertise in poetry and western novels told you that?
Andrea: Seriously. I don’t even know about this lady. Is she the least compelling protagonist of all time?
Pat: Well, to be fair, we haven’t had a female protagonist since Carrie at this point. He’s out of practice, and his main but not principal female leads have all been essentially the same woman.
Pat: This is Carrie if Carrie had no real personality.
Also, did we mention: AGAIN WITH THE PERIODS?
Andrea: LOL all the tampons and pad sold out.
Pat: Not sure why King doesn’t have all the dudes shooting off in their dreams.
Andrea: Yeah, that seems to be specific to the postal dude.
Pat: It took me until the second time he mentions it, but I like the idea of the “Dallas police” as a catch-all for corrupt, evil government agencies.
And I bet Tim does too.
Andrea: I’m sure he does
Basically, Gardener has to decide whether he believes that the controlling effect of the saucer is more important than the fact that the government would just cover up the saucer, its ability to give free power to the world, and then plant him and Bobbi in the ground to kill the story.
Pat: I mean… I guess this is all valid in the 80s, before the internet, but come on, just take a couple of pictures and send them to the Boston Globe and New York Times.
Andrea: Right. And this is a difficult decision because he’s a total dumb putz.
Pat: I don’t think the government could cover this up if he was smart about it.
Andrea: But he isn’t. As per usual.
Pat: Is… is the government sobriety, and the Tommyknockers are drugs and alcohol?
Andrea: Maybe? The Tommyknockers destroy everything you love?
Pat: “Hey, let me just keep on keepin’ on with the booze and coke, because otherwise the government is going to take away my novels.”
Andrea: This was written during the prime “Just Say No” Nancy Reagan era, so it’s possible.
Pat: I have about zero belief that King would let Nancy Reagan’s drug crusade seep into his writing. Just on principle.
Andrea: Except as a metaphor for government control of personal freedom?
Pat: Nancy Reagan did not have any actual governmental power.
Andrea: No, but she did shape policy, and the “war on drugs” was not solely a Nancy Reagan thing, but she brought it into the popular narrative.
Pat: This book is so fucking maddening. Halfway through, you’re like, uh, wait a minute, this is regular-old Stephen King. Who the fuck was running the first book?
Andrea: The book commits the cardinal sin of boredom.
Pat: Like, hello, why didn’t you introduce us to Ruth and Ev from the get-go? They are clearly the heart and soul of the story. Not fucking Bobbi Goddamn Anderson or James “Not Your Local News Anchor” Gardener.
Pat: I mean, yeah, okay, Gard is obviously going to be crucial to ending this whole thing. And his relationship with Bobbi and her position as head Tommyknocker Receiver are also crucial. But some editor should have looked at this and gone, “Hey… Stevie… you are doing this completely fucking wrong. All these short stories in book two? They should be dispersed through the Bobbi and Gard storylines in book one. Come on dude, I know this isn’t your first fucking novel.”
Andrea: I kinda doubt King really had to cowtow to an editor by this point in his career.
Pat: WHAT IF IT’S INTENTIONAL. WHAT IF BOOK ONE IS TOMMYKNOCKER STEVIE, AND BOOK TWO IS HUMAN STEVIE, CALLING OUT TO US FOR HELP LIKE THE COLLECTIVE REMAINING HUMANITY OF HAVEN COALESCING INTO RUTH’S DOLLS?
OR MAYBE HE WROTE ONE ON COKE AND ONE DRUNK. What am I, a scholar?
Andrea: Perhaps. I mean, he was probably coked up and drunk together, yes?
Pat: One’s usually maintenance for the other.
You can stay drunk and awake longer on coke. You can mellow out your coke high by getting drunk. But your teeth fall out and you start building weird things with D-cell batteries.
Andrea: I don’t wanna snort anything. I like weed. The end.
Pat: Weed is for boring people who want to be more boring.
Andrea: THANKS JERKY.
Pat: YOU ARE OLD.
Hello, and welcome to Book II of The Tommyknockers. Congratulations! You’re one-third done this piece of shit! Now that you’ve gotten used to Roberta “Bobbi” Anderson and James Eric “Gard” Gardener, how about a whole town’s worth of new characters to have to care about? Fantastic!
Andrea: This book really did pick up steam after we got rid of those two honkies.
Pat: My thoughts reading this were as follows:
1. Andrea loves this town gossip detail shit.
Andrea: I do. It is my favorite of all things.
Pat: 2. Andrea hates this fucking book.
3. This book now has her favorite thing.
Therefore: WILL ANDREA HATE IT?
Andrea: I did start to like the book more in this section. So you know me pretty well.
Pat: I was honestly unsure. I figured this would be the one that broke the streak. But it really does get better for readers.
Andrea: Nah, I like it. I mean, by the standards of this book up until that point, it was like an oasis in the desert.
Pat: Although, as you know, I do not give a fuck about the reams of town history.
Dear Stephen King, it is enough to know the town is called Haven. It is immaterial to me WHY and HOW it got that name.
Andrea: I thought it was pertinent that it changed names so many times. It suggested a namby-pambiness among the townsfolk that may have made them ripe for alien invasion.
Pat: I think he left it in because one of the family names is “Cooder.”
Haven was once “Cooderville.” Sounds like a leper colony for vaginas.
The important thing here, in “The Town,” is that an evangelical preacher showed up with his fire and brimstone, got them to change the name of the town to Haven, and apparently had a bunch of sex parties?
Pat: Like, protestant sex parties? That sounds like the least fun kind of sex party.
Andrea: I wasn’t really clear if he had sex parties or if he just banged everyone, but then they all start having dark-haired, blue-eyed babies. Nevermind that ALL babies are born with those weird blue-grey eyes.
Pat: I think it was sex parties. When they have that final blow-out (heh), it’s sort of implied that this wasn’t the first time a revival had ended in sodomy.
Andrea: Apparently, it wasn’t sodomy if all those babies resulted.
Or at least not strictly sodomy.
Pat: Never go A to V.
Andrea: Well duh. It’s self-cleaning, but it’s not that good.
Pat: The phrasing is “the largest ‘love-offering’ of his stay.” That certainly sounds like one in a series. “Three of Preacher Colson’s conquests were virgins before the invasion of the Pentecostal pecker.”
We move on to ‘Becka Paulson, a religious woman with no concept of when apostrophes are or aren’t appropriate in a name. (Spoiler alert: NEVER.) As the town starts to become telepathic, her 3D painting of Jesus starts telling her all of the dark dirty secrets of the other townsfolk, which includes his husband banging the mail-sorter at the post office.
Pat: Do mail sorters give better handjobs, I wonder?
Andrea: We talked a bunch about this already. It was awesome.
Pat: She’s your typical King femme. Except for once she’s not the main character. Usually the sex fiends are main characters.
Andrea: Wait, who else is a lady sex fiend?
Pat: No, they’re usually fine, upstanding women who turn into Mata Hari in bed. Sue from Salem’s Lot, uh… Leigh from Christine.
Andrea: That’s it. For every Leigh, there’s a Carrie or Annie.
Pat: FAIR ENOUGH.
Andrea: You are being unusually generous today.
Pat: Anyway, the Tommyknockers instruct ‘Becka in how to supe up her television so that it electrocutes her cheatin’ man. And he gets electrocuted. And she grabs onto him out of reflexive guilt and gets zapped too. The end.
Andrea: I don’t know if there is a worse name in the world than Becka
Pat: This is about the point where I started wondering if you were going to hate this section.
Andrea: Nah, I liked it.
Pat: Even up to this stupid point?
Andrea: Yeah. I didn’t mind this part. What was your beef?
Pat: That it’s boring and dumb, and SK just wanted to do a running gag about a talking 3D Jesus with a street-talkin’ tongue.
Andrea: Nah, I loved when Jesus was tellin’ all the secrets.
Pat: You’re such a rube.
Then we meet Hilly Brown, who sounds like a town of pile of poop but is in fact just an awkward, super smart kid who likes to do magic. But he kind of sucks at it, at least until the Tommyknockers help him built a goddamn teleporter, which he uses to zoom his kid brother to Altair-4. No one’s really that impressed.
Pat: Poor Hilly.
Andrea: We def talked at length already about the magic stuff.
Pat: You def eat shit.
Right, this is where you confused Ev Hillman, Hilly’s poppop, with the Moss dude who got buggered by his father, who larded up his dick before aforementioned buggery.
Do not bugger your children people. How hard is this.
Pat: That brings us up to Ruth.
Ruth McCausland is basically Frances McDormand in Fargo, but without the dumb accent. She’s Haven’s town constable, and a lady the whole town loves. Her stupid husband died—he was a state trooper—and people love her even more. Except the Tommyknockers don’t like her, so it is bad juju all around.
Andrea: Ruth is a saint in saint’s clothing
All the “we all love you Ruth” mind reading stuff was pretty effing creepy
Pat: She is so pure that the becoming is only affecting her physically.
Andrea: Is that the true reason? That she is pure of soul? I don’t remember that being explicitly stated, but it was definitely implied.
Pat: But she’s got no metal in her head. Which, man, was I glad of that, because how many people in one podunk town could possibly have metal in their heads? You’d think the 80s were the decade of metal plates.
Andrea: It’s just the two, right? I mean, that still seems like a lot.
Pat: Three, if you count Anne.
Andrea: Yeah, that whole dental thing was weird as hell.
Pat: Well, okay, this is what I took from the whole talking dolls thing: the voices speaking to Ruth at that point WEREN’T the voices she or anyone normally heard. They were the voices of the townsfolk’s remaining humanity.
Andrea: Plus, she had the presence of mind that she knew something weird was up.
Pat: That’s what I said. When I said it was only affecting her physically.
Andrea: Right. Then everyone gets creepier and creepier.
It’s an interesting twist that the sanest lady in town collects creepy dolls. Usually that’s in line with being a cat lady as a sign of whackdoodle.
Pat: We learn that her and Husband Ralph were pretty sweet hearts, and that one time a dog bit her, and she rolled on that motherfucker.
Andrea: She does not suffer white trash gladly.
My favorite part about her was about the rumors about the dude fucking his daughter, and she drives that shit right out of town.
Pat: Fucking mad daughters, in fact.
Andrea: Oh right. Again with the buggery of kids and such. Is there a reason there is so much incest in this damn town? Does all the grossity make it a good foothold for aliens?
Pat: This wasn’t the daughter fucking.
This was the stepfather beating the shit out of the kids.
Get it together, Andrea.
Andrea: Oh, right. So who was the daughter fucking?
Pat: Morris Jurgenstenerinhausen’s dad.
Andrea: Oh right. Again: wtf people?
Pat: Instead of just being all, “These are not real people. See also: Martian mind-controlling spaceships,” I will ask you if you think that the influence of the Tommyknockers on the town of Haven constitutes an improvement over the regular human condition, where beating children and raping children and fucking mail sorters et al happens on the regular, and if the trade-off of having tentacular genitalia and rotting teeth and telepathy is really that much worse.
Inquiring James Gardeners want to know.
Andrea: Yeah, not really. I mean, at this point we don’t really know exactly what they are going to do as Tommyknockers. And besides Anne, the people who are turned into human juice factories are innocent (Ev) and an innocent dog.
Pat: I assumed they were going to knock Tommies.
Andrea: Technologically, they are entering the future.
BUT AT WHAT PRICE DEN DEN DEN.
Pat: Don’t jump the juice factory gun just because I mentioned the Cthulhu cunts.
Andrea: What the heck is a Cthulhu cunt?
Pat: You read up to the part where Gard bangs BECOMING BOBBI, and she has tentacles for labia, right?
Andrea: NO. How did he even keep it up after that?
Pat: You’ve never watched hentai, have you.
Andrea: I know of it, and thus, have no reason to watch.
Pat: “She really was the person who came closest to being the heart of the town…” And then starts the long metaphor of the town trying to get rid of Ruth, thus, symbolically, destroying their own heart, which is a symbol for their humanity, if you did not know.
Did you know?
Did you pick up on that subtle, nuanced writing?
Andrea: I DID.
Ruth notices people’s teeth are falling out, and she’s having headaches, and the Paulsons’ house burns down with Jesus trapped inside it, and David Brown gets shunted to Altair-4, and her mail stops arriving except for bills and shit, and she’s picking up telepathic thoughts that are either A. “We all love you Ruth!” or B. “TRICKASS BITCH YOU BEST BE STEPPIN’.”
Andrea: Somehow, this translates to Ruth blowing up the clock tower in order to call attention to what’s going on in Haven?
Pat: What do you mean “somehow”?
Andrea: I was not totally clear on her motivation.
Pat: So you missed the many parts where it was explained that she was hoping to get the attention of neighboring, unaffected towns, since she couldn’t get word out herself convincingly?
Andrea: No, I knew. It just seemed like a radical step.
Pat: She couldn’t use her phone!
Andrea: Send out some flyers, Ruth. Jeez.
Pat: Through the mail that’s being sorted by Tommyknocker machines?
Andrea: WHATEVER. So. The clock tower scene. Tge bats. The ripping of heads and wings off bats. Jesus Mary and Joseph.
Pat: Do you even know how time works?
We’re not there yet.
We’re not even close.
Andrea: I DO WUT I WANT
Pat: Not on my watch, fucker.
Andrea: THEN YOU tell me what’s next.
Pat: Well, there’s this fucking section, right? In the middle of the first Ruth chapter, that has nothing to goddamn do with Ruth. About crazy shit people are building in Haven that don’t really have any use for the coming of the Tommyknockers.
Andrea: Do you think they are driven to build all this shit as like, practice? Stretching their brains for the true purpose?
Pat: Nope. I think besides the specific machines used towards whatever is going to happen with the ship, it was just a side effect. Like the dude who came up with a new way to MATH while driving near Haven.
Andrea: Oh yeah, and that teenage girl who suddenly built the best photo studio in the university and was a master photog all the sudden.
Pat: And I think it’s all there for a purpose. To bury the story about Mabel Noyes’ matter collapser. Which, if it ain’t going to be that, it’s gonna be something else that Gard ends up using to get rid of the spaceship.
Andrea: Oooh, good catch.
Pat: You know what Chekhov always said: if there’s a matter collapser in act two, it has to be fired in act three.
Andrea: It also sets up the thing about them projecting a new clock tower later.
Pat: It’s just, come on, King, you can’t just put a completely unrelated section into this chapter about Ruth. Might as well have fleshed it right the fuck out, made it a pissant chapter of its own, like Bent and Squiggles in the aftermath of the clock tower.
Andrea: Right. It’s a little sloppy.
Ruth is getting the idea to send a message to the outside world that’ll bring attention down on Haven. It isn’t her first or favorite idea, but it’ll do, since the little fake classroom that her husband built to house her doll collection is now some sort of animatronic hellscape, where Suzy Shitbag and Carla Queeftown have all become plastic vessels for the last vestiges of the town’s human thought. Also, they’re changing the writing on the blackboard.
Pat: DAVID BROWN IS ON ALTAIR-4.
Andrea: Which kind of leads me to believe that the town’s human thoughts are benevolent and want David to be found.
Pat: KIND OF? They’re clearly benevolent. There’s no room for gray here. The Tommyknockers have to be evil, the humans have to be good. To show that, even with our sometimes shitty tendencies, it’s better to be human than Tommyknock’d.
Andrea: Lots of humans in the town are evil.
Pat: Reread what I said.
Andrea: Those two statements you wrote contradict each other. Buggering your kids is evil. It goes beyond “shitty tendencies.”
Pat: No, you are just stupid.
Andrea: Good one.
Pat: WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF HUMANITY, there’s good and evil.
WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE GALAXY, there’s good and evil.
Andrea: Okay, so you are talking about humanity as a whole, not humanity in Haven. Which, as we have discussed, is skewed just a little to the evil side.
Pat: At that SCALE, the Tommyknockers are bad, and Humanity is good.
Andrea: Okay, agreed.
Pat: It’s simplified at that level because fuck it, you don’t want people to be ambivalent about the Tommyknockers in this book. Who the fuck would you root for? Gard shot his motherfuckin’ wife, and he’s a suicidal drunk, etc. But that’s better than a Tommyknocker president.
Andrea: Agreed, which is also why the Tommyknockers are so gross looking. There is no question
Pat: I honestly think that’s just a function of other-ness. And horror.
Andrea: And that it’s fun to write about tentacle pussies.
Pat: Not to make them more evil. It’s a way of eternalizing the internal changes! Also, to make the idea of BECOMING scarier.
What if everyone in town had just started getting vaguely better looking? And then more and more, until everyone was a wildly more attractive version of themselves?
Andrea: Then that would be even scarier, because they could accomplish more because people would think they were just normal.
Pat: I’m just saying, the opposite would’ve been cool too. Although if that had been his initial idea, you know King would’ve just ratcheted it up and up until everyone’s features smoothed out completely, and they were just feature-less, big-eyed aliens.
Andrea: The idea that their skin is thinning out is soooo gross.
Pat: Oh, right after the dolls tell her to send a signal to the outside world, she passes out, and then there are TERRIBLE THUNDERSTORMS. Take a drink.
Andrea: Are we drinking every time there are storms in this book or any SK book?
Pat: When IMPORTANT EVENTS are coupled with SEVERE WEATHER, you take a motherfucking drink. If for no other reason than that it is super hokey and trite.
Andrea: Indeed. It freaks me out how people pass out in this book and then like, hours and hours pass. And then some teeth fall out.
NEVER SLEEP AGAIN.
Pat: They lose teeth while they’re awake too, you jackass.
So: Ruth uses her TOMMYKNOCKERNESS to turn her dolls into Duracell collapsing molecular bombs. Like you do.
Pat: I think the lesson here, kids, is that—MUCH LIKE NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY—the same thing that helps us can be used to hurt us. You’ve got plentiful electricity, but then again, you’ve got nuclear bombs. You’ve got a town of people who can get your ship out of the mud, but you’ve also now got weapons that can destroy your ship.
Andrea: And Jim Gardner will always be there to save the day by beating someone with an umbrella.
Pat: I don’t think that’s part of it.
Andrea: Can we talk about the friggin’ bats now?
Pat: You don’t want to talk about Ruth trying to escape the town?
Andrea: No, I do. This reminded me of Under The Dome.
For all intents and purposes, Ruth just bounces back when she reaches the town line.
Pat: That is totally a note he jotted down while he was writing this, and he didn’t do anything with it for twenty years.
Andrea: And then he wrote Under The Dome, and then he was like, “Oh shit, The Simpsons did it.”
Pat: Meanwhile, Hilly is in the hospital with fucking Jaunt coma or something.
Andrea: And Ev keeps visiting him and he is slipping further away. It’s heartbreaking.
Pat: And Ruth has some sort of sound-triggered trigger on her DOLLBOMBS. And she sticks ’em in a bell. Which is known for making sounds.
Andrea: OH! And then Hilly’s parents come to the hospital just once because the social worker makes them, but they are so weird and detached that they are never ever summoned back.
Pat: All right. Go for the bats.
Andrea: THE FUCKING BATS DUDE.
RUTH GOES INTO THE CLOCK TOWER AND THESE BATS START RIPPING HER FACE OFF. SHE JUST GRABS THEM AND RIPS IN HALF. AND BLOOD SHOOTS OUT. THEIR WINGS ARE DESCRIBED AS FIBROUS. IT’S SO GROSS.
Pat: Great, thank you for that.
Andrea: Also, I think all this happened already at the end Graveyard Shift, except they were giant rat-bats.
Pat: The clock tower explodes. King had been watching Back To The Future, it seems.
Andrea: Please describe to our readers, as I have not seen this “future” movie you speak of.
Andrea: I HAVE NOT SEEN BACK TO THE FUTURE.
YEAH THAT’S RIGHT.
Pat: Okay, I’ll explain.
Andrea is a fucking goon, who was incapable of keeping up with her own cultural zeitgeist at the relatively fucking easy age of 7.
Andrea: True fact: I was not allowed to watch PG movies, so by the time I was allowed, this shit was old hat. Also, I don’t really like things with time machines. See also: deserts, space.
Pat: Bitch, like you’ve ever seen a movie with a time machine.
Andrea: YEAH I DON’T WANT TO.
Pat: So you can’t say you don’t like them. Unless you want to be like me, always saying I hate stuff I’ve never tried.
Andrea: Yeah, except for this to be like you, I’d have to pretend you never told me about Back To The Future in two years.
See also: the Replacements.
Pat: Okay, onto the next chapter: Andrea Eats All The Shit.
So everyone in town lies down, which isn’t what we thought it was when it was mentioned before?
Andrea: We talked about how they all went to sleep, yeah.
Pat: It’s because, uh… man, I forgot. It was implied that the town’s remaining human collective mind made it so that Ruth couldn’t be stopped?
Andrea: I think so. It was all kinda foggy to be honest. But in the end it didn’t work anyway, right? So their laying down was all for naught
Pat: What do you mean? It totally worked. She blew the fucking clock tower so to hell that it was felt towns away.
Andrea: In the short term, yeah, but it didn’t stop the becoming.
Pat: It wasn’t supposed to. It was supposed to bring attention to the town.
Andrea: FOR THE PURPOSE OF STOPPING THE BECOMING.
So she won the battle, but lost the war.
Pat: Listen, we haven’t finished the book. And among other things, the clock tower blowing the fuck up is part of the reason there’s some interest in Haven.
Andrea: OKAY SO YES. In the short term, it worked.
Pat: IN THE LONG TERM TOO.
Andrea: But then they make a projection of the tower to fool everyone, which is pretty fucking ingenious.
Pat: Eh. The fact that they had so much trouble doing it with ADVANCED ALIEN TECHNOLOGY, and I could literally do it with about five minutes of Photoshop and a projector really makes it unimpressive.
Andrea: I would like to see you do that. Make it happen, Hipp. Don’t let your mouth write a check your ass can’t cash.
Pat: Thanks for that Dazed And Confused quote.
I don’t have the resources, but yes, there are plenty of people who could do that will far less trouble with far less advanced technology than these space aliens had.
Andrea: In 1987? I am not one of those people
Andrea: So I am still impressed by their trickery. Suck my dickery.
Pat: That it is the year 1987 is IRRELEVANT.
Andrea: YOU JUST SAID YOU COULD DO IT WITH PHOTOSHOP.
THERE IS NO PHOTOSHOP IN 1987.
Pat: This FLYING SAUCER that can create CLEAN ABUNDANT POWER OUT OF DURACELL BATTERIES and LEVITATION DEVICES and TELEPORTATION DEVICES has been buried for MILLIONS OF YEARS.
You are missing the point.
Andrea: I REMAIN IMPRESSED OKAY.
IT’S A GOOD IDEA.
Pat: You’re telling me that between 1987 and 2014, human technology has outpaced Tommyknocker technology as far as imaging goes?
That’s all it took? 17 years?
Andrea: I LOVE THE TOMMYKNOCKERS
Pat: Wait, you what?
I, for one, welcome our new Tommyknocker overlords.
Pat: And there’s our Simpsons reference. *Take a drink.*
Andrea: I think it’s interesting how they already have an urban legendy song about them. À la Frank Dodd and Freddy Krueger. And then they turn out to not be ghosty serial killers, but aliens.
Pat: It isn’t even about them. It’s about mine demons. Who collapse mineshafts.
Completely unrelated to the aliens.
Andrea: And yet the name remains
Pat: …the aliens were named for the song. Not vice versa.
Andrea: Let’s move on.
Pat: That’s about as close as you get to admitting you’re wrong.
Gard sees the clock tower rocket into the air. And he starts thinking, hell, maybe changing the world into gross alien vaginas wouldn’t be great. And Bobbi’s like, guh?
Andrea: I slept through this part because Gard and Bobbi bore the shit out of me.
Pat: At one point, King says that “Gardener’s lie was an indication of [his having received Ruth’s message].” But we’re never told what the lie was. Possibly later?
Andrea: I have no idea.
Pat: Anyway, the last word we really get on Ruth McCausland is this: “Voices or no voices, the lady died sane.”
Andrea: Which is a comfort considering she is the best/possibly only good character in the book besides Ev. Out of the adults, I mean. And we know how he ends up.
Pat: Not ENTIRELY. There’s… there’s still hope. We’ll get to that.
Tell people about Beach Jernigan and Dick Allison, because I don’t give a shit.
Beach Jernigan is like the gross cook from You Can’t Do That on Television. He runs a luncheonette, dismantles the Earthquake machine built by one of the Becoming. And dies. Dick Allison was the fire chief, but they have their own chapter together for some reason. Beach has lung cancer but never goes back to the hospital because he can still eat and like a bear—lo and behold, the becoming has cured him!
After the explosion there’s a telepathic town meeting where people are like, oh shit, everyone heard the explosion, let’s project a fake tower. Dick Allison, the fire chief, is all telling people that called, no, it was just a little bang, no worries, dog. He freaks the fuck out, breaks his own fingers, and then fixes it with six Midol. Then, we have the arrival of Bent and Jingles.
Pat: The process of getting the projection up and running was boring as fuuuuccck.
Andrea: Yeah, no shit. It was like the Tommyknocker version of a crap-ass SK action scene.
Pat: And then after that one trick finishes hand-Photoshopping the right time onto the clock—which, how the fuck do they know what time people will be looking at it?—she’s like, “There’s one more thing we have to do.”
“I need doing.”
Like, what? Uncle Stevie? What are you doing?
Andrea: Oh yeah! Everyone gets really horny as Tommyknockers. She just spreads her legs right open.
Pat: They really DON’T. Which is why this is totally weird. And also weird later when Bobbi tentacle-fucks Gard.
Andrea: Explain. If they are not horny, then why do they need “doing.”
Pat: You said “everyone.” That was one chick who said she needing “doing.”
Andrea: Yeah, and the diner guy says he can fuck like a bear. And the postman and his mistress are humping like I don’t know what.
Pat: That’s two.
Andrea: Well, that is several times that it was brought up, which makes it a thing.
Pat: And those two were banging before.
Andrea: Yeah, but not with the virility of after THE BECOMING.
Pat: THEY BE COMING.
Andrea: OH SHIT IT’S AS CLOSE AS YOU COME TO ADMITTING YOU’RE WRONG.
Pat: …I wasn’t wrong. You mentioned four, two of whom were fucking beforehand.
Andrea: LOTS OF PEPOLE WHO ARE BECOMING WANT TO FUCK LIKE BEASTS.
Ev Hillman is up in Bangor or Derry or somesuch with his grandson Hilly, who is catatonic. He speaks to a reporter and ends up sounding like a kook, ends up talking to Butch “Monster” Dugan the state trooper, and goes from kooky to apparently sane. The two hatch a plan to sneak into Haven unnoticed while the town is busy with Ruth’s funeral.
Andrea: Butch is waaaaaay reluctant about this plan.
Pat: There is—surprise!—a long and ultimately pointless spate of stories about shit that’s gone awry in the woods near the spaceship.
You probably loved that shit.
Andrea: Um, it was kinda boring.
Pat: Long story short: people’s teeth fall out. See also: most of IT.
I liked me some Butch versus Ev action. But I didn’t think Butch would bite at all.
Ev spills the beans to Butch Dugan, noted friend of Ruth McCausland and her deceased husband. Fun fact: Dugan was in love with Ruth and wanted to marry/bang her, which is honestly the best way to feel about a person. He thinks Ev is out of his lobster-pickin’ mind, but he agrees to forego Ruth’s funeral and accompany the old poop to Haven for a little investigatin’.
Pat: Additional fun fact: the book is actually kind of good at this point.
Andrea: Yeah, it’s not bad. It’s still like a C.
Pat: But it’s like that bit of Bobbi that sometimes shines through the Tommyknockerness. There he is! There’s the old Stevie!
Andrea: It’s super fleeting.
Pat: I think it remains at an admirable level, especially relative to the shitbird first book.
Pat: Book one, you dodo.
So all these outsiders are in town and they start getting sick. they’re eating Beach’s eggs and their damn teeth are falling out.
Pat: I don’t particularly understand the air component of the Tommyknocker ship. What the fuck is it doing to the air? Cooking it?
Andrea: One thing about this book, even though it’s not the greatest, is the visceral grossness. Also, being pregnant, I connect with the idea of feeling gross/off in a way you can’t quite identify.
Pat: Is there radiation blowing off the thing? That isn’t how radiation works—that’s how fallout works. Oh, it’s totally fucking gross.
Teeth falling out is like #1 on Grosstown’s Grossest Grosses Of All Grossness.
All of these fucking people coming down are mostly State Troopers. This is fuckin’ DEFCON 1 for the T’knockas. There is much about the bells of the church and the apparent drawn-on quality of the town hall’s clock hands. Ev Hillman and Butch Dugan are circling around the town from downwind, equipped with breathing equipment, which absolutely would not protect them from radiation. As they reach the town limits, they acquire telepathy, and Hillman starts thinking about some French chick he banged back in Olden Times.
Pat: First thing: I do not actually know which is the worst DEFCON status to be at, 1 or 5. Presume I meant the worst.
Second thing: I will call them T’knockas for all time.
Andrea: I keep thinking that means Tittyknockas.
Pat: Third thing: “Her thighs had been white, her cunt so tight.”
Andrea: So Ev and Dugan are kinda just hanging out, waiting for something to happen, and Ev is like “I don’t know what I’m waiting for, dog, but I’ll know when I see it,” and Dugan rightfully wants to murder him.
Pat: That is absolutely useless as far as summaries go.
Andrea: Their convo gets all “Alice in Wonderlandy” and they are like, dazed and talking in circles around each other.
Pat: The thing is that, during the eulogy from the reverend, the town starts to sense the presence of interlopers that are NOT there for the funeral. I.E. Hillman & Dugan, Private Detectives.
Andrea: Right. Everyone eats gross sounding sandwiches at the wake, and Ev and Dugan are referred to as “nosey-parkers.”
Pat: And Gard is fucked to the tits on booze and Valium.
Andrea: So then they figure out that Ev is the interloper since he is the only other person in town with metal in his head.
Pat: I’m getting tired of all these people with metal in their heads. It’s not common enough to be this common.
Andrea: Yeah, for real. Ev somehow knew that they should bring oxygen in case Dugan gets sick, which he does.
Pat: He didn’t know, he suspected. They get to the ship, it’s crazy, they want to take a picture, the posse arrives, and Ev erases Beach Jernigan from existence with a FLARE GUN.
Andrea: Leading to Ev vs. Bobbi in hand-to-hand combat, one of the famous SK unfollowable action scenes.
Pat: It was fairly clear: shit went down. They don’t want to shoot Dugan because he’s a trooper. Ev is badass.
Andrea: So by the time Ruth gets buried, most of the outsiders have already peaced out. And the TKnockas are rushing to get Bobbi to the shed before she dies.
Pat: Right, because she was shot. That’s worth mentioning.
Andrea: File it under “things went down.”
Pat: Yeah, but that’s a specific thing that went down.
They capture the dudes and toss Ev in the goddamn Shed, which CANNOT be good. How much do we know about the Shed at this point? Besides it being a shed and all.
Andrea: It’s a magic shed of healing for the Tommyknockers and a horrible shed of death for non-Tommyknockers.
Pat: I mean, yeah, but Gard knows at this point that there’s a group of Shed People who hang out in the Shed, and I think he at least suspects that they’re the most BECOMING of the T’knockas. The Alphaknockers.
Although, in this instance, Gard is not told that Bobbi’s in there. Just that she has sunstroke and had to go to the hospital. Because, you know, they don’t have alien technology that can cure sunstrokes.
I don’t know, man, I don’t know if Gard’s motivation even makes sense at this point. I get that it’s an allegory for drinking, but come on.
Andrea: He doesn’t believe the Tommyknockers, but he’s just like, okay, I’ll just stay here and listen to you guys, since you’re totally innocuous and all.
Pat: It takes more than being drunk and high on Valium to just shrug off a town turning alien, all because you want to dig up a UFO.
Andrea: I don’t get why they don’t just off him anyway, since he’s getting in the way?
Pat: Because Bobbi is the Uberknocker, and she wants Gard around until the end. He’s her brake against the becoming. Although she remarks that he’s “wearing out” around about here.
Pat: Good hustle, Hallowell.
Andrea: UGH WHATEV. I AM MULTITASKING.
Andrea: Why is she the Uberknocker anyway? Is that ever explained? Is it random, or is she chosen for a reason?
Pat: I think it is explained. Let’s see, what was the reason… Oh, right, it’s because SHE FOUND THE SHIP.
Andrea: ARE YOU MOCKING ME?
Pat: When is the answer to that ever “no”?
Andrea: NEVER BECAUSE YOU HAVE A DARK HEART AND A ROTTEN SOUL.
Pat: Neither of those things is even remotely true.
Pat: This chapter is called “A Book Of Days.” It is literally that. How does that make you feel? It starts like right after my birthday. Butch suicides himself.
Andrea: The days are really boring. They are still digging out the damn ship. Jim is helping but he can’t figure out why he doesn’t just kill himself instead.
Pat: Jim is so fucking emo right now I can’t stand it.
Andrea: He’s awful. This book has a real dearth of compelling characters.
Pat: Ev is the best. I dug Dugan.
Andrea: Yeah, but they are only in it for a little while. SK tries to make Gardner and Bobbi carry the book, and they suck so hard.
Pat: At the very least, Gard is finally getting lippy with the T’knockas that are sent out to help him dig while Bobbi’s in the Shed. God, that sounds like a sexual abuse scenario. “In the shed.”
Andrea: He’s gonna fix her little wagon in the shed.
Pat: Don’t steal my catchphrases.
Andrea: IT’S FROM ANOTHER SK BOOK YOU TWAT. THAT MAKES IT A COMMON CATCHPHRASE
Pat: You’re a common catchphrase. Where “catchphrase” equals “whore.”
Pat: You’re a common whore, Andrea.
They’re making progress on the excavation, and T’knockas are dropping like flies from being in proximity to the ship, because they are not as BECAMED as Bobbi. Some dude sends a poker cheater to a place they call Altair-4, which is coincidentally where David Brown wound up.
Pat: Okay, okay. So. Whatever is coming off this fucking UFO is too strong for even people who are BECOMING to handle, right? Except Bobbi. And except Gard.
Pat: What I don’t understand is, if this is an AIRBORNE THING, then WHY THE FUCK DOES HAVING METAL IN YOUR BODY HELP?
Andrea: There is no reason. Cause SK made it up. There is no rhyme or reason for anything in this book of dumb.
Pat: It really does lack the heft of even his flimsiest premise in the past.
Andrea: It would probably be an okay short story.
Pat: Oh my god. That’s it. You’ve explained this book to me. This is a “1408.” A short story that was needlessly expanded and complicated into a full-length novel.
Andrea: “1408” wasn’t a full length novel. It was a short story.
Pat: I know it was as short story, that’s why it’s in quotes and not italics. It was a short story which was turned into a needlessly expanded and complicated movie.
Andrea: Right, agreed.
Pat: Do I have to explain EVERYTHING.
Andrea: WELL IT WASN’T COMPLICATED INTO A FULL LENGTH NOVEL. WHICH IS WHAT YOU FIRST SAID.
Pat: EAT SHIT FOREVER.
Andrea: Perhaps if you were more clear at the outset, you’d have less explaining to do.
Pat: So when the portal to Altair-4 opens, they can hear David Brown calling for Hilly.
Andrea: oh man. That broke my heart. The only reason I finished this book, besides this PROFESSIONAL COMMITMENT OF COURSE, was to find out what happened to David.
Some hobbiest pilot flies near the plane and beefs it. Whoops!
Pat: Meanwhile, in Derry, a kid sees this and says, “Holy jeezum,” just like the Losers.
Andrea: I was pretty disappointed when I was in Maine and no one was talking like an SK character.
Pat: You have to be in specific parts, or run into someone who grew up on the rural side of the line.
Andrea: Gardener is in maximum denial in this section, even writing a dopey poem about his own level of denial.
Pat: I have no recollection of that.
Andrea: “Woke up last night in the guestroom bed/saw the folks going into the Tommyknockers shed. Could have looked in, but I didn’t quite dare/don’t want to know what goes on in there”
Pat: Whatever Gard.
Although I did admire his choice of words when thinking about not having to excavate with dynamite. “They wouldn’t need to waste time digging glory-holes for explosives.”
Andrea: So, the moral of this section is basically, “don’t try to fly over Haven, or your eye will explode, and you will be too panicked to even notice.”
Pat: And that’s when Bobbi returns with a flagellum vagina and fucks Gard.
Andrea: I mean, I sort of appreciate the body-horror, Cronenberg thing he’s getting at here. But it’s just so muddled and incoherent.
Pat: Cronenberg can eat it.
Pat: I don’t get that kind of shit. What was that fucking thing I watched of his? Videodrome? What an awful piece of shit that was.
Andrea: Videodrome rules! OMG. Debbie Harry. James Spader. It’s so good.
Andrea: Watch Rabid. Or The Brood.
Pat: Yeah, no. Not happening.
Andrea: Until you watch them in three years and pretend you invented Cronenberg OH SNAP.
Pat: Oh, yeah, totally, because I will suddenly not be squeamish in three years. I did this about one thing once, and it has become the largest thing you think of when you think about me.
Andrea: Hah! I know, I was just thinking that.
Pat: You are queen of the retards.
Andrea: Clunkiest line in the book: “Sometimes being a telepathic was a pain in the ass.”
Pat: More importantly: Pennywise.
“He thought he saw a clown grinning up at him from an open sewer manhole.”
Let us for a second forget that “sewer manhole” is pretty redundant.
Andrea: Not really. The manhole is the whole that leads to the sewer. It isn’t the sewer itself. That’s the underground part
Pat: So explain to me how “sewer manhole” isn’t redundant if, as you just said, it is what leads to the sewer.
Andrea: sewer : manhole :: door : room.
Pat: Manholes always lead in or out of a sewer.
Andrea: Fuck fuck fuck I hate this converation
Pat: Hence why it is redundant to say “sewer manhole.”
Oh, thanks for pointing that out, Stevie, I thought he might have been the garden manhole.
Andrea: IT’S THE FUCKING SAME AS SAYING LIKE, BASEMENT DOOR. YOU ASSHOLE.
Pat: A door DOES NOT ALWAYS LEAD TO A BASEMENT.
A manhole ALWAYS LEADS TO A SEWER. OR OUT OF ONE.
What are you not comprehending about this?
Andrea: I GET IT OKAY.
Pat: SO JUST ADMIT THAT IT’S REDUNDANT AND YOU JUST WANTED TO ARGUE.
So no thoughts on Pennywise?
Andrea: It was creepy but kinda throwaway. Like, get awesome Pennywise out of this sub-par novel.
Pat: Yeah, but it answers a question we had earlier about worlds. Because it seems a little strange that two massive things would land about 20 miles from each other, both in prehistoric times millions of years ago.
And the argument was, okay, well, probably parallel worlds. Which then this WOULD have to be, though, since Derry still EXISTS. And so does Pennywise.
Andrea: Yes. Also, something we didn’t mention about the pilot—right before his brain explodes, he realizes that he figured out time travel. I wish that concept would have been explored more. It’s like Flowers For Algernon on steroids.
Pat: You know, this whole fucking thing was kind of annoying until later, when they explain more about what the T’knockas were. At this point, it’s just some deus ex.
Andrea: Gardener finally gets his head out of his ass and starts to think about his options, which include, in his mind: leave town, say nothing; leave town blow whistle; blow up spaceship.
Pat: Like he hasn’t already been doing that. But he figures out that that bitch has Peter out in the shed for some fucking reason. So he gets drunk, and the book ends.
Andrea: This is also where we find out that Bobbi is wearing foundation all over her body because HER GODDAMN SKIN IS TRANSPARENT NOW.
Andrea: After they fuck, Bobbi asks Gard to go “just one more mile” with her presumably referring to the ship.
Pat: Yes, yes, that happened. I just closed the book on the second book. Let us not dwell on it.
Andrea: OKAY SO HERE COMES BOBBI’S SISTER AND SHE’S A BITCH ON WHEELS. WHICH WAS AT LEAST HALFWAY ENTERTAINING TO READ ABOUT.
Pat: DISAGREE. It was boring and too late in the book for that much fucking character development!
Andrea: The speech she gave the flight attendant in answer to “how are you?” was epic as fuck.
“A pimpleon the cock of new England.”
I like that they made her vulgar instead of your typical prim and proper snotty bitch.
Pat: It’s just not worth it. This changes nothing about the story, adds nothing to it, just forestalls the denouement.
Andrea: Except it makes me less bored.
Everyone tells Gard that Bobbi’s sister just went away, and then he goes for a walk and finds the sister’s car buried. But the BODY ISN’T THERE. Whatever.
Andrea: But before that, she “masturbated to a grim and cheerless climax with a vibrator the size of one of the mutant carrots in Bobbi’s garden.”
Pat: Which we can all be grateful for, I’m sure.
Andrea: AND, WE LEARN THAT SHE ALSO HAS METAL IN HER HEAD, GODDAMNIT.
Pat: Yeah, everyone does. NO BIGGIE.
Andrea: I don’t even know the point of that since it is used to say she has at least a chance of surviving… but then she doesn’t survive so who even gives fucks?
Pat: I think we’re back in la-la land as far as coherent thought is concerned, Stevie-wise.
Andrea: You’re also skipping the reveal of the true grossness of the becomed Bobbi, probably cause you’re a pussy.
Pat: Uh, I have mentioned her flagellum vagina.
Andrea: She has one fucking massive boob, totally translucent skin, weird organs full of green shit, and a giant vibrating brain.
Pat: I must’ve passed out somewhere around there.
They reach the hatch of the spaceship, finally, and Gard is like LEMME TAKE A LOOKIT THAT SHED. And he does. And it is not your generic Radio Shack. Oh no, sir!
Pat: Tell the nice people about the shed.
Andrea: The fucking shed, man, is filled with people chained up to the wall with their fluids leaking out into a giant compressor type thing
Pat: I thought they were in huge shower enclosures filled with liquid?
Andrea: Something, I don’t know. It’s gross.
Pat: Well, it’s fairly important, because what you said and what I said are nothing alike, and one of us is WRONG.
Andrea: UGH. Why do I feel like we already talked about this part?
Pat: Because you have mental problems owing to the parasite in your uterus.
These huge sealed shower enclosures are filled with all this goopy liquid, and three are filled with Peter the Dog, Annie the Bitch Sister, and Ev the Old Hillman. The empty one, we are meant to understand, is intended for Gard, when he reaches the end of his usefulness.
Andrea: Okay, so, Ev, Peter the Dog, and Anne are basically being used as batteries. They are in shower stalls, but not with water in them, and they have giant fucking cords coming out of foreheads.
Pat: Ev wants Gard to bring David back from the void known as Altair-4. There’s a goddamn computer that they use that still probably isn’t as powerful as my current cell phone.
Andrea: To me, the fact that Bobbi’s beloved dog is being used this way truly signals the end of her humanity.
Pat: Well, we already knew that. The last of it went or is going by now. She said as much before she and Gard tentacle-fucked.
In his head, Ev thinks of Bobbi’s sister as “bitchbitch.”
Andrea: Gardener is like “I dunno what I’m supposed to do with this shit.”
Pat: Gard also discovers the “Yard-Sale Army” of chainsaws on wheels and predatory vacuums.
Andrea: And then he walks off with the padlock to the shed in his pocket like some kind of dumbass.
Pat: “The kid matters or nothing matters”: poignant or fucking cheeseball?
Andrea: Cheeseball to the max even in my hormonal state, though I will say that at this point in the book, I was prepared to lose my shit if David was not saved.
Pat: Gardener doesn’t even REALLY seem to buy that himself. At least later on. He’s like, oh well, whatever. I guess I’ll save the kid on my way to saving the universe.
Andrea: I mean, I guess this is kind of realistic in that he is bumbling and dumb and not all heroic, but it’s also really boring to read. “Gard wandered around the house, got drunk, napped a little, wondered what to do.” Ad infinitum.
Gard is almost caught escaping the shed, and then we’re treated to the return of John Leandro, who is still on the trail of the Haven scoop and, for some reason, has this whole thing about microbes that his mother instilled in him. He’s figured out that people are getting sick going through Haven, and that family members have fallen out of touch with their relatives outside of Haven. He gets a breather thingie, just like Ev and Butch, and learns that everyone is getting nosebleeds when they get anywhere near Haven.
Pat: Whoop-de-do on this whole section. Why do we need Leandro? Motherfucker has no impact on the story.
Andrea: I forgot who he was until right now. I know that “SK needs an editor” is a well-worn trope but… he needed a fucking editor on this.
Pat: If anyone had edited this book, it would’ve been a novella. Shit, he should’ve gone the Bradbury route and made it a collection of interrelated short stories with Bobbi and Gard as the framing device. It’s already nearly that.
Andrea: Also, we get it. People figure out math and then their fucking noses bleed. We don’t need it again with Leandro.
Into the ship we go with Bobbi and Gard, all done up with scuba gear so the stale air of the ship doesn’t snuff them the fuck out. Their ladder rungs are weird, and we discover it’s because the real Tommyknockers are lizardy bipeds with single super-claws on their feet. Two important things are revealed: firstly, that the Tommyknockers seem to have crashed because they were fighting in the bridge of the ship; secondly, that they used their own kind as batteries, just like in the shed!
Andrea: I think one of the problems with this book is that he tries to do this tender thing with Bobbi and Gard, but since there is virtually no compelling character development, it’s hard to care that she turns into this creepshow.
Pat: I guess it’s kind of cool that this super-advanced civilization was still petty and vindictive, to the point of killing each other over some dumb squabble.
But as far as UFO interior reveals go, I wasn’t very excited or entranced.
Andrea: NO. Especially since he builds up to it for pages where they are just standing around.
Pat: “Oh, hello guys. I’m a UFO. Come on in. Tour starts at half-past never.”
Meanwhile, Leandro has made it to the town line. That’s when a semi-sentient Coke machine attacks him, making a fair case for the notion that soda can kill you.
Andrea: OMFG. I don’t know if the coke machine thing was genius or what.
Pat: “In a second or two the door of that thing will open and O.J. Simpson is going to come flying out.” Oh Stevie. If you only knew.
Pat: Maybe King knew even then, that’s why he put the idea of a killer inside of a killer Coke machine into Leandro’s head.
Andrea: I was pretty much the dumbest thing in a book ever.
AND IT KILLS TWICE.
Back at the ranch, Bobbi and Gard are holding palaver, which is to say that she’s forcing him to take a whole bunch of Valium and booze to his dome, because his usefulness has run out. Of course, in true Bond villain style, she lays everything out for him first: the Tommyknockers don’t call themselves Tommyknockers, and they don’t damn well come from Altair-4 and would really like it if people stopped putting that hyphen there because, I mean, wtf guys? We are made to understand that the Tommyknockers just kind of intuit technology and how to create it, but they’d don’t comprehend what’s going on or why they’re creating things—they just do it.
Pat: They are basically the scientists behind Jurassic Park.
Andrea: Shut up with Jurassic Park you massive nerdbone.
Pat: There is a totally unnecessary conversation about teleportation “wavelengths” that I could’ve easily lived without. Not that there’s much in this book I couldn’t live without.
Andrea: Plus the whole dumb “there aren’t any nouns for some things” talk. Well, yes, there are actually. There are nouns for everything.
Pat: The T’knockas are, essentially, the kind of people who invent the things you can only buy from infomercials.
Andrea: Blah blah, Andy Torgeson, blah blah, forest fire.
Pat: Oh right. That’s a thing too.
At long last, people start getting hip to the happenings in Haven. A forest fire has broken out, and firefighters can’t get close without their engines exploding and people suffocating on things.
Andrea: Notable: the wind blows and a bunch of people keel over in the next town. That was kinda cool.
Andrea: “The Coke machine, stupid but reliable, moved in again.”
IT COMES AMBLING OUT OF THE BRUSH AT THE SIDE OF THE ROAD.
Pat: Yeah, this was almost my dream of the Mangler showing up at that dude’s door and knocking come true.
Andrea: LOLZ I forgot about that.
Pat: “John Leandro died. The scoop did not.”
Relax, Howard Beale.
Pat: In the midst of the whole firefighter confusion, the Shop comes up, they of the infamous Lot 6 or whatever it was in Firestarter. Take a drink!
Andrea: A CIA and FBI agent shoot each other for some reason.
Pat: Pretty much figures that this book would be directly tied to Chief Shitbird from Firestarter.
Andrea: Bobbi dies, and Gardner is trying to barf up all the Valium he took.
Pat: Whoa, relax a second.
Andrea: Oh god, I am trying to bang this out in the next three minutes.
Pat: There’s that Lester guy who likes chasing fires, and he’s murdered by a lethal toy wagon. Which has to be the first time that’s happened in literary history.
Andrea: And last, hopefully.
Pat: I’m glad someone FINALLY triumphed over the Coke machines. It wouldn’t have done to leave that narrative thread unpulled.
Andrea: Can I just say the most important thing? Which is DAVID AND HILLY TOGETHER AGAIN.
Pat: NOT YET, BUTTHOLE.
Andrea: EVEN THOUGH THEY NOW HAVE NO PARENTS OR GRANDPARENTS.
OOPS. ENJOY FOSTER CARE.
Gard tries to smoke Bobbi with Ev’s old-ass gun, but it misfires, which isn’t great when you’re dueling with someone who’s armed with a photon pistol. So he does what anyone would do in an old western and shoves the table at her. To make a short story shorter: she ends up on fire. And dead. First: on fire. Then: dead.
Pat: And surprising no one: King describes her burning torso as turning to “tallow.” So take another drink.
Andrea: Is that a thing he says a lot?
Pat: No, I put it into the drinking game because he NEVER says it.
Fucking everything that burns in a King story and shouldn’t runs like tallow, turns to tallow, tallow-izes, tallowatifies, etc.
Andrea: I associate tallow with Sleepover, the Christopher Pike book where some girl burns to death at a sleepover.
SPOILER ALERT: SHE’S ALIVE AND HAUNTS EVERYONE.
Pat: If she’s alive, she’s not haunting anyone. She’s just annoying. When living people “haunt” things, it’s just called “being annoying.”
Andrea: She’s pretending to be a ghost though. ANYWAY.
Pat: “The scream suddenly became a loud buzz in Gardener’s head. He knew he was listening to the mental sound of a mortal disconnect.”
I like that phrase. But. BUT. Even the good phrases in this book, I’m still all, “Meh.”
Andrea: I am so bored that filling out my health insurance forms is more riveting than talking about this book.
Everyone in town hears Bobbi’s screams. Wheeeeeee. Haven gives chase, and Gardener heads to the shed, where he finds a spinning umbrella thing that lays down Martian napalm or some shit. This is pretty much how you start forest fires, kids! Gardener does some data entry in the hopes of saving David Brown, but we won’t know if it worked until later, and Gard himself will never know! Why? Because he’s going to die soon? Sorry, can’t remember anymore.
Andrea: Let’s talk about the data entry. Because this was so dumb.
Pat: Let’s just fucking get to the goddamn point here.
Andrea: He’s just like, typing words. What the fuck even.
Pat: He crosses the Altair-4 file with the David Brown file.
Andrea: It’s like SK’s kid had a speak-and-spell, and he was like, oh, good idea.
Pat: It makes sense, you big bozo. Do you not understand the essence of the Tommyknockers?
Andrea: Not if I can help it.
Pat: They think of things and then create them. They let things exist on whatever terms they need to. Altair-4 isn’t the name of where David Brown is, but because that’s how it was referred to from the get-go, they all accepted it. Just like they accepted being “Tommyknockers,” even though that’s not what they are.
The name does not matter—the meaning matters. So Gard could’ve crossed “Bozo’s Storage & Butt-Plug Cleaning Service” with “Ev Hillman’s Sperm’s Sperm’s Second Sperm,” and the computer still would’ve plucked David Brown out of Altair-4.
Andrea: Thank god. I cannot even think about this poor kid out there in subspace.
Pat: Let’s just fucking get to the goddamn point here.
Gardener reaches the ship, turns the key, and flies away. Also, he dies smiling, because he’s Fought The Good Fight and Died For His Principles and Oh Cool, First Human To Ever Die On A Spaceship.
Pat: The end.
Andrea: I THINK THIS IS AT THE BOTTOM FOR ME.
Pat: You don’t want to talk about the epilogue, so your pregnant ass can get another cry in?
Andrea: I mean I think I covered it. Right?
Pat: David appears in Hilly’s hospital room, Hilly wakes up and all the GI Joes are given to David.
Andrea: <3 Andrea: But no parents. And Ev didn’t live to see it.
Pat: Uh, all the GI Joes and none of the parents? Sounds win-win to me.
Ultimately, this was a really good book that was executed poorly and edited probably not at all.
Andrea: So, a really bad book.
Pat: I really think if it had been done like Illustrated Man, I would’ve loved it. It had so many good ideas, so much potential baked into it.
Andrea: I swear this is the one he says in On Writing that he doesn’t remember writing.
Pat: Book 1 is the main problem. Book 1 should’ve been chapters 1 and 2, and then we go into crazy Haven town “becoming.” The book is riddled with potential from book 2 on.
Andrea: I think things that “riddle” other things are usually bad things. Like, you don’t get riddled with joy.
Pat: Yeah, the potential makes the book even more excruciating. Hence “riddled.”
Andrea: Where do you rank it?
Pat: I am going to put it…. between Running Man and Cycle. You?
Pat: Below ROADWORK??? There goes one of our two agreements.
Andrea: I think it’s a better book., but ultimately more of a slog because it’s so goddamn long. Roadwork only ruined my life for a couple days.
Pat: That is not the rubric we’re using, goddamn it.
Andrea: OH A RUBRIC? WE’RE USING A RUBRIC NOW?
Pat: Otherwise you could put Breathing Method way higher because it only ruined an afternoon. Cycle Of The Werewolf probably only ruined an HOUR, and you’ve got it JUST ABOVE ROADWORK.
Andrea: It’s part of my evaluation, not the whole.
Overall, I hated this book the most, for the longest time.
Pat: You did not hate it more than Roadwork.
Roadwork is the ultimate shitbird, flying into your windows.
Andrea: OMG YOU ARE EVEN MICROMANAGING MY RANKINGS, YOU LITTLE BITCH.
Pat: Fine, but after Dark Half, when you’ve calmed down, I’m asking you again which was worse. It now says “The Tommyknockers (tentative)” at the bottom of your rankings.
Andrea: NO. Strike the “tentative.” You are not the boss of my rankings.
Pat: We’re revisiting this after Dark Half.
Andrea: I hope you get Tommyknocker’d before then.
| 1. IT
2. Carrie &
3. The Shining &
The Stand &
4. The Long Walk &
Apt Pupil &
5. Rage &
6. ‘Salem’s Lot
7. Firestarter &
The Gunslinger &
The Body &
Drawing Of The Three
8. The Dead Zone &
The Breathing Method &
Eyes Of The Dragon
9. Running Man
10. Cycle Of The Werewolf
12. Tommyknockers (not really, though)
| 1. IT
3. The Long Walk
4. The Mist
6. Pet Sematary
7. The Stand
8. The Talisman
9. Apt Pupil
11. Drawing Of The Three
13. The Gunslinger
14. ‘Salem’s Lot
15. Eyes Of The Dragon
16. The Shining
17. The Dead Zone
21. The Body
23. The Running Man
25. Cycle Of The Werewolf
26. The Breathing Method