Stangl

By several indications, it appears social distancing is helping to flatten the curve with the coronavirus. We should all be happy about this, but being socially distant to many may seem like the cure is worse than the disease, which is, of course, totally wrong.

But as we near the first month of many staying at home, it is time to have some talks about how we will be spending the duration.

I imagine during the first 30 days cleaning and organization, two necessary but unpopular tasks, were accomplished. Folks with children at home adjusted to new careers as teachers as well. Couch potatoes spent a lot of time binging shows and playing video games.

With libraries closed, finding new books to read is a bit more of a challenge, but not impossible.

I was thinking about several pandemic themed novels and movies I have enjoyed over the years and thought it might make an enjoyable column.

I’m a science fiction fan, have been one for many, many years, so a pandemic is a popular topic. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, here are some recommendations for pandemic entertainment.

Author Richard Matheson wrote a novel about the last man on earth in 1954. “I Am Legend” follows Robert Neville, the last human on earth. A pandemic causes the rest of the planet to die and return as vampires. The novel has been adapted to movies three times with Vincent Price, Charlton Heston and Will Smith playing Neville. Two of the adaptations had the same name as the novel, Heston’s was called “The Omega Man.”

I’m partial to Chuck Heston as the guy to get us through the vampire apocalypse. As a teenager, the scenes of Heston tearing around a deserted downtown Los Angeles at 60 miles per hour spoke to me, even though I was years away from driving. Heston was the guy who bested the apes in “Planet of the Apes” so it made sense to me that he was the person to emulate during the vampire apocalypse.

I believe all three versions are available to stream online.

When I was considering this column, I thought I would keep with a vampire apocalypse. Vampires are terrifying, but not real. So, I would recommend the excellent trilogy by author Justin Cronin on the topic. “The Passage”, “The Twelve” and “The City of Mirrors” are long and character driven, taking place in multiple timelines. A virus being tested to enhance healing on the military goes terribly wrong, unleashing a strain of vampires on the nation. Amy, a young girl, survives the virus, frozen in time at 15 years old. Immortality was one of the desired effects of the virus. She appears nearly a century later at one of the outposts of humanity. Amy works with the survivors to destroy the original 12 vampires after they discover the vampires created by the 12 die when the vampire who created them is destroyed.

The novels are well written and compelling. There was a television series developed a year or so ago, but it couldn’t capture the magic of the books. In truth, in my opinion, there are few adaptations of books that can recreate novels better than my imagination.

There are other movies and novels dealing with pandemics. I find the more outrageous ones entertaining, because the others are just plain scary.

Here’s to passing some time safely defeating a pandemic from the comfort of your home.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.