… that our neckties were only an inch wide.
AND WE WERE THANKFUL FOR WHAT WE HAD.
[Thanks to Carrie Schor and Ahmad Butt (pictured) for the photo (Longwood High School, circa 1989?).]
I might just post a picture of Randall Flagg every time a friend tells me that they are either reading or rereading Stephen King’s “The Stand.” (This one’s for you, Tim Gatto.)
He really is the greatest villain of all time, beating out even Heath Ledger’s Joker, Hannibal Lecter, Two Face, Nina Meyers, Felix Cortez, and the Hunter Rose incarnation of Grendel. (I’m talking about Flagg, here — not Tim.)
We know that Tim is REreading the tome (he got the extended version, good on him), because he actually read the book before I did. As far back as 1989 or so, Tim and I scribbled quotes from the novel on our textbooks at Longwood High School.
Tim even quizzed me once in the cafeteria to test my reading retention. I passed with flying colors:
“What’s the dog’s name?”
“Kojak. Formerly Big Steve.”
(Do you remember that conversation in the lunchroom, Buddy?) 😀 Whatever. It was more fun than the SAT equivalent.
Anyway, I myself have been stricken with the urge over the past year or so to revisit King’s “IT.” I don’t know why. I’m not afraid of clowns — at all. Clowns are probably the only popular horror archetype whose asses I think I could actually kick (clowns and sparkly vampires, that is). Clowns aren’t scary … they’re really more … punchable. Or … y’know — NOT bulletproof. Also mimes. All human beings, save the full sociopaths, have an active moral center in their brains, and I know that we all privately harbor the truth there that mimes DESERVE to die. (You call yourselves ENTERTAINERS?! F***ing SAY something!! Hello!! Goodbye!! Shakespeare’s sonnets!! The Gettysburg Address!! For God’s sake, just STOP!!)
But I can’t get to “IT” just yet, because my pile of loaned or gift books is high. There are Toby Barlow’s “Sharp Teeth” and King’s “Cycle of the Werewolf,” lent to me by Super Smart Art Girl. Then there are a few books that Crunchy Girl gave me, about … spellcasting? Or something? (Is she technically a Wiccan? We don’t know, because she equivocates on a lot of things.)
Anyway, Tim, safe journey. And because we know the kind of guy you are, we know you’re headed to Nebraska and not Las Vegas (or CIBOLA).
Happy National Poetry Month — this is the poem that I believe I liked best from among those I was taught at Longwood High School.
While everybody else loves its closing lines, my favorite line is the one about the falcon.
Eagle-eyed horror fans might also recognize this as the poem recited by the doomed general in Stephen King’s “The Stand” — both the book and television miniseries adaptation (though King has the character mispronounce the name as “YEETS”).
Thanks to Poem of the Week for the text: http://www.potw.org/archive/potw351.html
THE SECOND COMING
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?