KingMidget's Ramblings

Pull up a chair. Let's talk.

More Finished Business

It’s getting boring, but yes, this is about Stephen King’s The Dark Tower.

The series was the beginning of the end of my fandom of Mr. King.  A couple of months ago, with the impending release of a movie based on the series, I decided to try the story again.  It didn’t go well.

But I was still intrigued by the movie.  Maybe, just maybe, it might be good.  The Queen Midget will be off visiting one of the little princes in a week or so.  I told her I was going to see two movies while she was gone.  Movies she wouldn’t necessarily want to see.  Dunkirk and The Dark Tower.

Now, I’ve read my first review of the movie.

I think I’ll skip it and just see Dunkirk.  First of all — it was a thing I wondered — how do you condense a seven book series into a movie.  I thought the movie would likely be a little long.  Maybe 2 1/2 hours.  At least.  Nawp.  95 minutes.  First sign of a major problem.

Second, Roland of Gilead in King’s story is clearly a white man.  In the movie, he’s black. Not a huge deal, but … why?

Second, the review makes clear that the main characters of the books are condensed into only a few in the movie, and many events in the books are condensed and modified as well.  On some level, that’s to be expected.  But from the review it sounds like the movie has modified the tale so much that it really isn’t The Dark Tower as King envisioned it in his epic that took over 30 years to write.  And that’s a shame.

No matter how disgusted I am by how the tale ended, there are still fundamental parts of it that shouldn’t be condensed and ignored and disappeared in the course of turning the thing into a movie.  The reality is that nobody should have tried to make the thing into a movie because it is so voluminous and full of characters, events, and … well, so much.  To do the story justice really requires a number of movies.  One movie trying to tell this story will utterly fail.

On to Dunkirk I go.

Finishing Business

I wrote here about how I had decided to … well, slog through Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.  That was two months and ten days ago.  Today, I finally finished … the slog.  And slog it was.  Particularly with the final book in the seven book series.

As I wrote back then, King has acknowledged that the first book in the series is “out of sync” with the end of the series.  I think this is what bothers me the most about the whole enterprise.

So, before I go further, as I’ve done with each chapter in my report on Dark Tower, read no further if you don’t want any spoilers.  If you don’t want any idea of how the thing progresses and ends.  Leave now.

LEAVE

NOW

LEAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As I made my way through books six and seven in the series, my memory was refreshed about an element of the series I had forgotten.  It wasn’t just that Roland, the last gunslinger got to the Dark Tower, only to find out that he would simply have to start over.  In other words, there was no real end to this slog through seven books.  The joke at the end, as Roland finally reaches the top level of the Dark Tower is that he will wake with his memory erased, but with one imperative.  To find the Dark Tower.  Again.  As he has done repeatedly through the cycle of time and worlds.

What I re-discovered in this reading is that King makes himself the center of the story as it winds towards the end.

There was this thing I started noticing as I read King stories over the years.  Every once in awhile, you’d find a sly reference in one story to a character or an event from another story.  As though, somehow the worlds of King’s stories were connected in some way.  I thought it was an intriguing idea and played well to me as a fan of his writing — to see those connections and references to prior stories.

What he does with The Dark Tower series is attempt to slam all of it, everything he has written, every character, every event, every location somehow into one world.  And the reality is, it’s the world that exists in his brain, within his storytelling.  On some level, I get it.  On another level, I don’t.

Besides cribbing from his own stories, as he winds through The Dark Tower, he also cribs from many others — the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Wizard of Oz, and who knows what else that I didn’t even recognize.  He even steals from the tragedy of 9/11.

But let me go back to that whole the beginning is “out of sync” with the ending concept. The first book, The Gunslinger, promised me something as a reader.  It was, to me at least, a clean story.  Almost pure.  I was first exposed to it when a portion of it showed up in one of King’s short story collections, and then when I found a copy of the book — with a longer version.  He wrote it back in 1970.  The final two books in the series were published in 2004.  All those years later, the story goes in a direction that clearly was never contemplated when he first wrote The Gunslinger.  King even alludes to this when he inserts himself into the story in book six.

What I want is the story promised in that first book.  What I got instead is a thing that became as bloated as King’s ego.  There’s just so much wrong with how this story winds towards its end.  First, book seven very possibly is the worst book I’ve read in a long time.  Second, there are continuity problems.  An example — Roland, the last gunslinger, loses several fingers on his right hand in book two.  Until then he was an ambidextrous gunslinger, unleashing bullets from guns held by both hands.  But once he loses those fingers on his right hand, he can only shoot with his left.  Which makes one wonder why, in book seven, when he pulled his gun and approached a dangerous situation, he rested the gun in the hollow of his right shoulder.

There are other problems like this.

And did I mention how he steals all sorts of ideas from other stories?

Third, what I think the first book promised and what King intended all of those years ago was to write an epic tale of good versus evil.  Kind of like Lord of the Rings.  What he wrote instead was a seven book tale covering thousands of pages filled with symbolism — obvious, contrived, obtuse, and confused — that reflects that fiction is just a figment of the author’s imagination.  Well guess what?  We already know that!

The best movies and plays I see are the ones where the story is so good and the acting is so good that I forget I’m watching actors perform.  The same is the case with a book.  The more I forget that I am reading an author’s words, the better the story is.  What King did with The Dark Tower is kill the epic tale he promised with The Gunslinger and replace it with a tale that demands that I wallow in the idea that I was reading his brilliance.

Only it wasn’t brilliant.  The whole thing gets worse and worse as each book bleeds into the next.  It bleeds with his arrogance.  With his ego.  With his inability to tell a story in a manageable number of words and pages if he can stretch it out far beyond the needed length.  It’s just so crappy in the end.

So, yeah, I read it again.  I won’t read it a third time.  Anybody want my copies of the books?

Unfinished Business

I have written several times over the last couple of months about my decision to take a dive back into Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.  The most recent post is here.

I’m just writing now to report that I have entered the seventh and final book of the series and let me just tell you this now.  I am absolutely hating life.  100 pages in and I’m convinced it’s the worst book I’ve ever read.  I want desperately to burn it and move on to the stack of books on my nightstand and the stack of books on my Kindle.  But I’ve come this far.

I’m headed to Vancouver for a much needed vacation this week.  The book will come with me.  I either return with the damn thing finished or I don’t return.  I’ll post one more time about the frickin’ thing and then I’m back to my blogging break.

Which by the way has not spread as much as I’d like.  I’m not blogging.  I’ve slowed down a bit in reading your blogs.  But I’m still monitoring FB all too regularly — and for what, 99% of it is just meaningless stupidity.  I’m working on it, though.  That’s next.

And meanwhile, I made progress on a story and am figuring things out.

Beginning

Another blogger recommended a couple of daily “meditation” books.  They both purport to provide you with 365 thoughts — do the math, that’s one per each day of the year!

I got one of the books today, the other will arrive next week.  So, thought #1 is this…

1                     Beginning

This is the moment of embarking. All auspicious signs are in place.

In the beginning all things are hopeful. We prepare ourselves to start anew. Though we may be intent on the magnificent journey ahead, all things are contained in this first moment: our optimism, our faith, our resolution, our innocence.

In order to start, we must make a decision. This decision is a commitment to daily self-cultivation. We must make a strong connection to our inner selves. Outside matters are superfluous. Alone and naked, we negotiate all of life’s travails. Therefore, we alone must make something of ourselves, transforming ourselves into the instruments for experiencing the deepest spiritual essence of life.

Once we make our decisions, all things will come to us. Auspicious signs are not a superstition, but a confirmation. They are a response. It is said that if one chooses to pray to a rock with enough devotion, even that rock will come alive. In the same way, once we choose to commit ourselves to spiritual practice, even the mountains and valleys will reverberate to the sound of our purpose.

— 365 Tao: Daily Meditations; Ming-Dao Deng

I spare you all of the whys and the wherefores. Regular readers will know that there are many things I’ve struggled with in the five years I’ve been blogging. Just a couple of the whys and the wherefores — it is a distraction from other things, it hasn’t quite turned into what I had hoped it would be. And there are these other things I claim to want to do. Like writing and painting and running and experiencing the world. But every evening and for far too many hours on the weekend, I surf the internet. I read your blogs. I ponder if there is something for me to blog about.

And then I do it all over again.

So, I’ve made a decision. I’m taking a bit of a hiatus. Yes, I’ve said this before, but this time I think it’s for real. I don’t know how long it will be because what really matters is if I make a change in the dynamic of my life and regain some balance and re-engage in a real way with those other things. The things that seem so much harder when lurking on the internet is so much easier and takes such little energy.

It’s not just my blog that I’m going to take a hiatus from. It’s most forms of social media. It’s time to reclaim my life from this thing called the internet and social media and taking the easy way out with my free time.

I’m going to embark. The auspicious signs are in place. Many people who know me in my day-to-day existence believe I’m a pessimist. I am called, somewhat jokingly but still, the Angel of Darkness at work. Others have referred to me as an Eeyore. The truth is, however, that I am an eternal optimist. I began every day with a hope and a belief that something good will come of the day.

And so I am hopeful that … well, I’m going to pray to a rock and see what happens.

See you around. I will be back at that time when I am ready, when I have changed the dynamic. If you want to continue the dialogue we have had between your blog and mine, I would love to hear from you via email because, yes, I can’t completely escape technology and I believe in the power of conversation. Shoot me an email at mpaxson55@gmail.com. Let’s talk.

 

A Worst Song Contest

I’ve posted a lot of Songs For the Day around here over the five years I’ve been hanging out on this blog. But today, as the title suggests, it’s time for something a little different. As I drove home from work today, I went through the pre-programmed stations. I have satellite radio and a car that lets me program either 25 or 30 stations. So, there’s a lot of them.

When I got to the station that features 80s music, I heard a song that prompted this idea. I’ll get to that song in a minute.

What are the criteria for this contest?  I think they are the following:

  1. The song had to be popular in its time.
  2. The song had to be wrong then.
  3. And still wrong now.

So, here’s my nominee. This song was released in January 1985. Both the song and the record it was on went to #1 on the U.S. Billboard charts. I hated it then. I still hate it now. It has absolutely no redeeming quality or value to it.

What song is your nominee?

%d bloggers like this: