Monday, March 30, 2020

Musings and Miscellany


Byter Graham E, aka Mr Trivia, Mr T and lately Mr No-Trivia, sent me an email in response to yesterday’s musing where I queried the media not having given the COVID-19 pandemic a catchy name. I used as an example Captain Trips, the superflu that kills nearly everyone in the world in Stephen King’s novel The Stand. I also said that the reason why it is called Captain Trips is never disclosed. 

Graham’s email: 
Hi Mr O, 

Further to you bytes today re Captain Trips……. 

The name Captain Trips was used as a nickname for a hippie character in Stephen King's miniseries Golden Years, also it was a nickname for American musician Jerry Garcia (1942–1995) and Alfred Matthew Hubbard (1901–1982), a proponent for the drug LSD, who worked at various times for the Canadian Special Services, the United States Justice Department, the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Office of Strategic Services. 

The Stand: Captain Trips is a five-issue comic book miniseries, the first of a six part Marvel Comics series called The Stan, adapted from Stephen King's novel of the same name. 

Stephen King wrote about the origins of The Stand in his 1981 book Danse Macabre, citing one source as the Patty Hearst case. His original idea was to create a novel about the episode because "it seemed that only a novel might really succeed in explaining all the contradictions". While struggling with the plot lines he read a news story about the Dugway sheep incident, (aka the Skull Valley sheep kill) in 1968 when 6,400 sheep were killed by a US Army chemical and biological warfare program test at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. This reminded him of the plot in George R Stewart's novel Earth Abides, which describes the odyssey of one of the last human survivors after the population is nearly annihilated by a plague. King also states that The Stand was planned as an epic The Lord of the Rings–type story in a contemporary American setting. 


Mr G 
Thanks, Graham 

Spoilers ahead 

I used to be a Stephen King fan.  

At the end of The Stand, the book’s villain Randall Flagg reappears at another location and presumably the entire battle begins anew. The same happened at the end of his book Needful Things. It pissed me off enough to cause me to write to him to tell him that both endings sucked, that having stayed with him through 800-odd pages of good v evil etc in The Stand, the whole thing simply starts again in a new location and that he now he did iut again in Needful Things. I to;ld him that it was asclumsy and amateurish a literary device as a school child writing “It was only a dream.

He never wrote back to me. 

Films about pandemics that you might want to watch wild self-isolating ; 


The Seventh Seal (1957) 

Set during the Black Death plague of the 1300s, the film centres on a knight who encounters the Angel of Death, and the game of chess they play for his soul. Stars Max von Sydow, who died only a short time ago. The scene in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey where they are playing against the Angel of Death is a reference to this film, only they are playing Battleships. BTW, Bill and Ted 3 is being made. 


The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (1988) 

Men seeking relief from the Black Death, guided by a boy's vision, dig a tunnel from 14th century England to emerge in 20th century New Zealand. A quirky movie that is well worth watching. 


The Omega Man (1971) 

Lone survivor, doctor Robert Neville, struggles to create a cure for the plague that wiped out most of the human race while fighting The Family, a savage luddite death cult formed by the zombie-like infected to erase the past. Stars Charlton Heston, prompting the female love interest, Rosalind Cash, to state that she was uneasy before her love scene with Charlton Heston, saying "It feels strange to screw Moses." 


I Am Legend (2007) 

A remake of The Omega Man, starring Will Smith. Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York City struggles to find a cure. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage, Michael Douglas, Mel Gibson, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Ted Levine were all considered to star over the years this movie was in development.  Can you imagine it . . . the last man on Earth says "I'll be back."


The Andromeda Strain (1971) 

A team of top scientists desperately work in a secret, state-of-the-art laboratory to discover what has killed the citizens of a small town and learn how this deadly contagion can be stopped, after the return to Earth of a satellite. The scientists methodically study the alien life form unaware that it has already mutated and presents a far greater danger in the lab, which is equipped with a nuclear self-destruct device should it manage to escape. 


Outbreak (1995) 

Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo and Morgan Freeman star in this tale of Army doctors struggling to find a cure for a deadly virus spreading throughout a California town that was brought to America by an African monkey. 4/10 entertainment value 


12 Monkeys (1995) 

A sci-fi classic starring Bruce Willis as a time traveler sent back to the 1990s to identify the origin of a global pandemic that nearly wiped out humanity. Also has Brad Pitt. Not exactly a feel good movie, but there is a lesson in DIY dentistry shown. 


28 Days Later (2002) 

Good Brit film about the breakdown of society following the accidental release of a highly contagious virus. Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary. Followed in 2007 by a sequel, 28 Weeks Later, with talk of a further sequel 28 Months Later. 


World War Z (2013) 

Post apocalypse zombie film with incredible special effects. The US pronounces it “Zee”, hence “World War Z” as an allusion to World War Three. We here in Oz pronounce it as “Zed. It doesn’t have the same ring to it . . . World War Zed. 


Not a pandemic movie but a good one to watch whilst the world goes to hell . .

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012) 

An asteroid named "Matilda" is on a collision course towards Earth and in three weeks the world will come to an absolute end. One man decides to spend his time searching for his long lost love from high school during the coming catastrophe. 


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