Archive for October 27, 2007

Blogslinging bump in the road

October 27, 2007

I am traveling this weekend and may or may not have Internet access, so there may or may not be a gap in my Dark Tower blogging. Whenever I have net access again I’ll add in those entries, then pretend they were always there, revised-Gunslinger-style.

The Blogslinger: Blogging The Dark Tower, October 2007–Day 26

October 26, 2007

Read: The Gunslinger (revised)–“The Way Station”

Maybe I just needed to vent. Maybe I’m less tired and grumpy, I don’t know. I’m a lot less irritated with the revisions made in this chapter, that much I can tell you. I think many of the changes are still on the obnoxious side–more overt references to the events of Wizard and Glass‘ flashback, more “hey here are some references to NYC that Roland doesn’t understand, because Jake comes from New York in the modern day, get it?”, and for some reason more references to poop, which is something this chapter has in common with the previous one. What I’m guessing the most pivotal change will be is the insertion of a warning about “the taheen”–a man with the head of a bird; a reference Roland spotting one as he chased the man in black had been inserted into “The Gunslinger” as well–into the prophecy of the speaking-demon in the way station’s cellar. Considering how crucial the other two sentences the demon uttered (“Go slow past the Drawers, gunslinger” and “While you travel with the boy, the man in black travels with your soul in his pocket”) have been, this’ll probably be big too. It also happens to describe the creature that appears in the delightfully, mysteriously incongruous man-vs.-monster logo for The Stand.

One revision cleared up a major plot point: Marten is Farson, the Good Man. I actually had to go back and check this against the original version to make sure this wasn’t another brand-new element. After all, this means that all four big bads–Farson, Marten, Walter, and Flagg–are the same being. But sure enough, the original has Roland musing on the love triangle formed between his dad, his mom, and Marten, “known in some quarters as the good man.” But as King mentioned in his foreword to the revised edition, the original passage that led up to this revelation used Farson as the name of the town the Good Man’s saboteur Hax was going to poison, not the name of the Good Man himself. Changing the sentence to read “Marten–known in some quarters as Farson, the good man” brings it all home to those of us with cloudy memories. And now I find myself a lot more open to the idea that Flagg, Marten, and Walter are all the same dude, since there’s no longer the mystery of what their real relationship to Farson is–I probably should have remembered that passage during my read through the subsequent three books, but yep, all four are one and the same. Throw in the Ageless Stranger and you’ve got five. But what about the crimson king, and the Beast that rules the Tower? They seem to be references to Flamartersonger’s boss. (Apologies to those Wes Anderson phone commercials.)

I’m still confused, but at least I’m a bit less infuriated.

Quote of the day

October 26, 2007

So to me, the exciting thing is watching trajectories of all these media crossing, and watching them all go their merry ways is very, very interesting. I feel like we’ve only begun. I’m thinking about the way books are published now and the way they were 20 years ago when I first came in. The way that comics are held now, the regard with which comics are held. How much of cinema–commercial cinema–is dependent upon our comics. That astonishes me. There was a time when you couldn’t get a comic book on a screen for neither love nor money. Now, it seems like something that’s had a two-issue run is legitimate fodder for somebody somewhere. So I think we’ve got a lot of very interesting collisions coming, and I’m glad to be sitting at the crossroads as the various media race towards the same spot, each from a different direction.

Clive Barker, in part four of his interview with N’Gai Croal at Newsweek‘s video game blog, Level Up.

This is what it’s like when worlds collide.

Go read what he has to say about The Sopranos and Melville, too.

We gonna miss Bacardi like it’s his birthday

October 25, 2007

If you can remember when the comics blogosphere consisted of about dozen people, this will come as a blow: David Allen “Johnny Bacardi” Jones has decided to close down his long-running (five years!) blog. Johnny had a well-defined, intelligent viewpoint about comics and he intelligently articulated it for a long, long time. I’ll miss him, especially now that I’m getting back involved in comicsblogging. Fortunately he’ll still be keeping up Elton John blog, where he’s writing about every song in John’s 1966-1979 catalog one post at a time, which is the kind of fabulous idea only good bloggers would come up with in the first place.

Johnny’s departure, hinging as it does on his impression that blogospheric tastemakers had him on the pay-no-mind list, also brings up the kind of “why blog? and for whom?” issues that are worth airing from time to time. I can tell you that getting away from comicsblogging and shifting gears to horror was probably a great thing for me to do. The horror blogosphere isn’t nearly as concerned with industry punditry or advocacy as the comics blogosphere is; for one thing, in horror media like film, television, and prose, the lines of demarcation between fan, critic, and creator are a lot firmer than they are in the still comparatively romper-room industry of comics, so you’re operating at a remove from the business end of things and therefore feel like you have less clout, so who cares? It’s just people talking. There also tends to be less snark involved–I don’t know what it is about funnybooks that makes people come out swinging, but I noticed that my own dick-o-meter started edging up the second I started blogging about comics again a few weeks ago and it takes some doing to force it back down. All this makes horrorblogging an enterprise that feels much less dependent on the approval or opprobrium of others for its survival, which is a feeling that carries back over into other kinds of blogging you do, which is why I’d keep this thing up regardless of how much feedback I got or didn’t get.

Anyway. Go tell Johnny goodbye. Goodbye Johnny!

The Blogslinger: Blogging The Dark Tower, October 2007–Day 25

October 25, 2007

Read: The Gunslinger (revised)–“The Gunslinger”

A fifth of the way through this dopey vanity project of King’s and I’m already tired of it. I don’t know how else to characterize this revision but “vanity project”; it doesn’t give me any choice. It’s the work of a guy convinced he knows better than the author he once was–if he could just expand this one sentence into three, if he could just take that amorphous sense of mystery and load it with clues, then it’ll be a better book, right?

Good golly miss Molly, wrong.

Case in point: The first section of The Gunslinger‘s first chapter, also called “The Gunslinger,” was in its original form maybe the best pure prose King ever set to paper. Ruthless, relentless, economical, terse, mysterious, haunting. Minimal distractions of mythos or invented patois, but still enough to hint at deep waters beneath the still surface. So when I started rereading it in this revised format, I gave it a straight read through, then went back and flipped between the two versions every paragraph. The still, Sergio Leone opening has ballooned. It’s been made flabby and flaccid with extra conjunctions, extra sentences, extra paragraphs. It’s like watching someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder try to comb his hair, incapable of leaving well enough alone.

Like the rest of “The Gunslinger,” it’s also laden with forced references to events from the other books in the series, those already published and those yet to be, as if King’s internal editor had stepped aside and his internal Dark Tower Concordance publisher burst forth to say “Hey, didja know about the Manni cult? Or that we call Jesus ‘the Man Jesus’? Or that the north star is Old Mother? Or that Roland had a horn once? And that that’s REALLY important? Or that he went to this place called Mejis and his girlfriend was burned to death and a guy named Eldred Jonas led a bunch of guys called the Big Coffin Hunters and there was a Charyou Tree ceremony and livestock grow mutated and autumn is called Reap and thankee-sai and kennit and crimson king and Sheemie had a mule and the beam and LaMerk machinery and Jericho Hill and long days and pleasant nights and blah blah blah blah blah blah…” Exhausting. King has noted his detractors’ diagnosis of his condition as “diarrhea of the typewriter.” Now I understand what they mean. Look, all of these things are not equally important. They’re definitely not as important as telling a good story in an artful fashion. They leave you swiveling your head in all directions instead of staring straight across the desert with the gunslinger. We had four fucking books to learn all that shit and did just fine, thanks. The conviction that it’s all SO IMPORTANT that it just HAS to be in the FIRST CHAPTER of the FIRST BOOK? Vanity.

See, it’s not just his typewriter that has the green apple splatters; if it were, that might be forgivable. (Might–watching what he did to this chapter even from a purely stylistic perspective isn’t pretty.) It’s his imagination, an imagination that had conjured up an epic that was already pretty damn engaging, for crying (your pardon) out loud. Now you find that some of the most fundamental things you thought you knew about it are wrong, and that there are whole new things you need to learn and fit into what you already had internalized about it. Out of nowhere comes the number 19, and with it a new subplot in which the man in black (now outed as Walter from the get-go, and how the hell does that make sense?) uses it as a “don’t think about a blue polar bear”-type mental trap to goad the gunslinger’s lady friend Allie into unlocking the secrets of the afterlife and driving herself insane. Try to imagine if The Illuminatus! Trilogy had been more than half-completed and published before Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea went back and inserted the number 23 into the first part, then re-released it. Equally fundamental, I’m half-guessing half-sure, is this “Resumption” business that’s tagged onto the beginning of the book, and that dizzy sense Roland gets that the world momentarily blinked out of reality. If it was so vital to the entire enterprise, why wasn’t it there when Steve King As The Apotheosis Of All 19-Year-Olds wrote this fucking thing years ago? And since it wasn’t, may I submit that it shouldn’t have been jammed in there years later by the director of Maximum Overdrive?

Here, though, because I’m a fair guy, is the one part of the revisions I really liked. Not because of what it imports for the story, because like I said I think it’s cheating, but because it’s well-written and creepy. It’s the man in black Walter O’Dim’s farewell note to Allie.


You want to know about Death. I left him a word. That word is NINETEEN. If you say it to him his mind will be opened. He will tell you what lies beyond. He will tell you what he saw.

The word is NINETEEN.

Knowing will drive you mad.

But sooner or later you will ask.

You won’t be able to help yourself.

Have a nice day! 🙂

Walter O’Dim

P.S. The word is NINETEEN.

You will try to forget but sooner or later it will come out of your mouth like vomit.


“Sooner or later it will come out of your mouth like vomit.” That’s beautiful. I wish King had learned his own lesson.

Quote of the day

October 25, 2007

Eli Roth might get his rocks off from literally torturing the audience but his chickenshit exploitation schlock knows not of such savagery.

Rob Humanick, unfavorably comparing Roth’s work to Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead. Once again, this is an unfair and inaccurate characterization of Hostel, and not just because it misuses the word “literally.” Here’s why it’s wrong. (Hostel: Part II I’ll give him.)

I Am Another Good Trailer

October 24, 2007

Here is the official official second trailer for I Am Legend. (The one I put up before is apparently the international trailer.) I like this one even better. If Will Smith spends this entire movie playing off only himself and his dog, thus forcing him to tone down the “oh HELL naw” posing, this could be a pretty fantastic little survival-horror movie. (Alright, maybe not “little.” But I think Dawn of the Dead and 28 Weeks Later and even Spielberg’s War of the Worlds proved that bigger can be better.)

(Via IGN, via BD.)

Quote of the day

October 24, 2007

I think something is going to give very soon. I mean, when Fangoria, which is a magazine I’ve loved for many years now, on the cover–maybe in relation to “Hostel 2,” and I’m not sure–has the headline, “Has Horror Gone Too Far?” From Fangoria magazine? I mean this is–hello. This is outrageous, an outrageous thing for Fangoria to be asking. But I believe it’s asking for a legitimate reason because what I’m gonna call horror porn, which is what I think some of these torture pictures are, the “Hostels” for instance…And “Saw.” This is stuff which presents–you’re there to see one thing and one thing only, just as you are when you see a porn movie. Don’t tell me you’re there for the story, mate, ’cause I ain’t believing you. [Laughs.] My point is that the “Hostel” stories don’t begin until somebody has already been caught and tied up or whatever else. In even the Camp Crystal Lake adventures [the “Friday the 13th” movies], there was an element of excitement as to, is she gonna get away? Are they going out to the same woods to make love as the two who proceeded them? There was that tension. There’s something about the “Hostel” movies–I’ve only seen the first one, though I’ve seen it two or three times partly because I admired Roth from “Cabin Fever”–that I thought “Boy, is this a cynical exercise or is this somebody being very smart, or both? Or is it something where he’s just decided that this is the best way to scare people?”…And I found that I wasn’t scared so much, just slightly disgusted at myself. Now, that’s just me. Everybody makes their own judgments. But I think eventually people are going to say there just isn’t enough to hold me for 90 minutes to watch this. There isn’t enough humanity in it. Do you know what I mean?

–My hero Clive Barker, characterizing Hostel in a way that I don’t think is at all fair, in the latest installment of a truly epic interview with N’Gai Croal of Newsweek‘s video game blog Level Up. As you might have guessed from the venue it focuses primarily on Barker’s new game Jericho and his ongoing debate over the artistic merits of video games with Roger Ebert, but from there it branches out into pretty much every conceivable place it could go. It’s a must-read conversation with a guy who’s not just one of the best horror artists around, but also one of its best thinkers.

Part one

Part two

Part three

And there’s at least one more part in the offing, apparently.

(Via Ken Bromberg.)

PS: Click here to find out why Barker is wrong about Hostel.

The Blogslinger: Blogging The Dark Tower, October 2007–Day 24

October 24, 2007

Read: The Gunslinger (revised)–Introduction; Foreword

The new Introduction to this revised version of Book One is harmless enough. I’m glad he decided to finish the series and sorry it took a near-fatal car accident to make it happen. I’m glad he was once young dumb and full of the desire to mash up The Lord of the Rings and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Foreword is where things get fishy. Here King explains why he’s revising The Gunslinger, and now it sounds worse to me than just a cheat–it sounds like a bad idea. He’s not revising this like he did The Stand, to add in material that was cut for logistical reasons. As I already knew, he’s revising it to bring it in line with the later volumes. In cases like the one he cites, where the name “Farson” is changed from referring to a town to referring to a guy, I’m fine with that. Like I’ve said before, even Tolkien had to rewrite the Ring chapters from The Hobbit. But if he’s adding 35 pages of story, he’s doing a lot more than that–he’s shoe-horning things in that weren’t there at all before, in erroneous form or otherwise. It’s already apparent that there’s now going to be a bunch of numerological stuff regarding the number 19, which irritates me because by this point he’d written and released four books, more than half the series, without so much as a peep about it. I’ve had certain information revealed to me regarding changes King makes in this revision to the way Roland’s quest progresses, which also seems like a pretty major overhaul. And surely (ha, I say this like I haven’t already flipped to the end to see what’s going on) there will be significant alterations to the man in black’s words and actions, to make his triune nature as Flagg/Walter/Marten more apparent when it wasn’t even conceived of as such when the book was first written. Put it all together and it feels like a cheat; at the very least it totally shifts the ground beneath long-time readers’ feet as they try to get a handle on what’s going on in the series.

But worst of all, he’s not just revising for information; he’s revising for style! He can explain it however he wants, but apparently he’s made the book’s prose sound more like something he’d write today. I’m sure even bigger King fans than myself would agree that’s not necessarily a good thing, especially when that original style, so different from anything else King had ever written, was what made the first version of The Gunslinger such a stand-out.

Sigh. Time to take my medicine, I guess.


October 24, 2007

For me, looking at this photo is like getting socked in the gut by my comics-reading past.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

That’s Nick Bertozzi, Tom Devlin, Brian Ralph, Megan Kelso, Jordan Crane, and Paul Lyons, on their signing tour with the still incredible anthology Non #5. My copy, signed by all six, plus David Choe, Greg Cook, Dave Kiersh, James Kochalka, and Paul Pope, was the final brick in the edifice that built me up into a comics reader. (The others were The Dark Knight Returns in sixth grade, The Maxx and Sin City in high school, The Acme Novelty Library and Savage Dragon in college, and New X-Men and The Last Lonely Saturday in 2001.)

I think everyone in that picture is younger then than I am now.

(Via the must-read New Bodega blog.)

Quote of the day

October 23, 2007

Back when Freddy vs. Jason came out, there was talk that Dimension was toying with the idea of a Pinhead vs. Michael Myers movie. What happened with that?

I had talked to Clive about it. My understanding was that Clive was going to write it and John Carpenter was going to direct it. It was the late [producer] Moustapha Akkad who decided he didn’t want the movie to be made. But it would’ve been interesting to find out how that would’ve worked. Pinhead likes a good conversation—and that’s a bit of a problem when it comes to Michael [laughs].

Doug “Pinhead” Bradley, interviewed at

I did not know that!

Read the interview for Bradley’s thoughts on all things Hellraiser, from the comics to the upcoming remake. (Via Bloody Disgusting.)

Burning down the trailer park

October 23, 2007

The first official, you won’t get arrested for showing it to children trailer for Rambo (that’s what it’s called now).

The second official trailer for The Mist.

The second official trailer for I Am Legend.

I actually think the I Am Legend trailer is the best of the three.

All via AICN.

The Blogslinger: Blogging The Dark Tower, October 2007–Day 23

October 23, 2007

Read: Wizard and Glass–the rest of “Come, Reap”; “All God’s Chillun Got Shoes”; Afterword

Raced through the rest of the book yesterday and already the details are fading into the recesses of memory. I sure did enjoy it, though. When it finally came, the gunslingers’ massacre of Jonas, Latigo, their men and the traitorous townies was every bit as bloody, relentless, shrewd, and cathartic as I’d hoped. The fun thing about Roland and his pals–and to his credit King only hits this on the nose very rarely, preferring to leave it to the reader to realize–is that they’re pretty fucking horrifying. Between the three of them they killed upwards of 200 people, right? And none of them are older than high-school sophomores, if that. In another world they could be Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

Well, that’s probably an exaggeration. With the exception of Roland, who’s repeatedly characterized as tinged with madness, there’s no evidence that these kids would have ever gone bad, or at least “gone bad on their own” if you’re not feeling charitable toward their gunslinger training. It was that training and the accumulated weight of “a hundred generations of gunslinger blood” that brought out the killers in them. It occurs to me that one of the under-reported themes in King’s work is the mettle of children–their ability to be pretty hardcore if called upon. In the Dark Tower alone you’ve seen this so far in Roland, Alain, Cuthbert, Susan, Sheemie, and Jake. Hand in hand with this is his belief that children can be cruel, a theme that echoes everywhere from the group of Little Coffin Hunters who kill and mutilate the stray dogs of Hambry to “The Children of the Corn” (a story referenced in Wizard and Glass–thematically in the blood-madness of the townsfolk on Reaping Day and explicitly in the afterword). I guess if you acknowledge the latter trait, which anyone who’s been a kid probably would, you have to give some credit to the former.

Post-flashback the book took some wild twists and turns. I’m surprised at how little I was jarred by the sudden reliance on The Wizard of Oz–it’s such a random direction to go in after hundreds of pages of a junior-varsity Fistful of Dollars on supernatural steroids, and yet it worked. Perhaps because it centered on Flagg, whose demented, pop-culture-riffing sense of humor would lend itself quite naturally to trying to scare his enemies with the Wicked Witch and the flying monkeys and the twister and the Great and Terrible Oz and all that. Or maybe it’s just that the series itself lurches so dramatically from one style to another between books, and sometimes within books, that one more crazy jump is barely noticeable. Start on an evil supercomputer monorail, wander through The Stand in an alternate universe, flash back to the Wild Wild West for three quarters of the book, return to the present in the Emerald City, then have one last flashback-slash-Hamlet-riff before calling it a day? Sure, why not?

The Flagg situation, of course, is now more confusing than ever. So he’s not just Walter–he’s also Marten? I guess he’s also a balls-out fantastic shapeshifter or master of disguise, because Roland had contact with all three incarnations of this character and never made the connection. Still hasn’t, in fact, at least as far as King lets us know–he never says “Flagg, Marten, Walter–they’re all one and the same” or anything like that. (I wouldn’t be surprised to be informed of this in the Argument for the next book, though.) All my questions about yesterday’s “Flagg = Walter” revelation go double for “Flagg = Marten.”

Finally, we’ve got another Afterword, and with it we get another batch of information yet to be revealed by the story itself. Father Callahan from ‘Salem’s Lot is apparently going to show up? Or did he already show up and I just didn’t recognize him? And the main character from Insomnia, which I haven’t read, is also going to put in an appearance? Or was King saying that Dark Tower elements showed up in Insomnia rather than the other way around?

Maybe I’ll get some answers to these meta-questions in the revised edition of The Gunslinger, which I’ll be tackling next. As best I can tell–and I’ve gotten conflicting information from literally everyone who’s coached me on this–Book One received its revisions (the only book of the series to get anything other than a new introduction) between the releases of Book Four and Book Five, in preparation for that final stretch. My guess is that it’ll be a lot more Flaggish, and have some more of the now-familiar details about the political situation in In-World and Mid-World thrown in. And there will probably be a bunch of groundwork laid for the final three novels in ways I won’t pick up on yet, other than by noticing that they’re different from the original version. At any rate I’m looking forward to returning to the purest articulation of the Gunslinger and his world and seeing if it feels any different knowing what I now know.

Quote of the day

October 22, 2007

A final statement? It sounds grim. I donate my final statement to all the deaf and mute.

–Alexander Pichushkin on the end of his trial, as quoted in “Trial wraps up for chessboard serial killings; Russian confessed to murdering 63; said his goal was to mark all 64 squares,” AP,

Since self-aggrandizement and casual disregard for the truth are characteristics boasted both by the killer and the Russian government and law enforcement agencies who captured him, there’s undoubtedly a tall-tale element to this case. But the macabre particulars of Pichushkin’s story–he lived with his mother; he kept track of his victims by numbering the squares on a chessboard; he may have been trying to out-kill Andrei Chikatilo; he used Russia’s national vice, vodka, as both bait and weapon–make it too good to fact-check.

The Blogslinger: Blogging The Dark Tower, October 2007–Day 22

October 22, 2007

Read: Wizard and Glass–“Come, Reap” chapters 1-5

Jeez, this is one long-ass flashback, isn’t it? I dared a peak at the back-cover blurb (something I basically never do with a book I already know I want to read until after I finish it–who needs informed expectations?) and discovered that the book is essentially touted as being one giant “remember when” story. So again we have a pretty radical break with the format of the preceding volumes.

I’m still enthralled by this story, incidentally. It’s not just King’s “period” work in the series is superior to his standard modern-day mode, though it is. And it’s not just the mounting suspense leading toward the final confrontation, though that’s a hoot. It’s little details that don’t appear to have much payoff, thrown in there just because it makes things a bit richer–Eldred Jonas and Coral Thorin’s mutually fulfilling sex life, for example. I’m not sure why that’s in there, except to make the book’s heavy and one of its supporting characters more fun to read about.

But there were several momentous revelations in this section that probably trump all the fun little touches:

1) Roland, Cuthbert, and Alain all survive whatever battle is to come. We find this out in one of those throwaway glimpses at the future of which King (and Tolkien) is evidently fond:

By the time the following year’s Huntress [Moon] came around, all three of them would be confirmed smokers, tanned young men with most of the boyhood slapped out of their eyes.

So unless they spend another year in Hambry–which, judging by how many pages remain in this flashback section according to the table of contents, is a non-trivial possibility now that I think of it–they live to fight another day. I was actually pretty happy to read this because I enjoy knowing the good guys will win, though a similar throwaway bit about how the young gunslingers would rue Roland’s decision not to kill Rhea the witch and have done with it indicates that there’s some bad stuff heading their way even though they survive. There’s no guarantee Susan will, that’s for sure, and I’m guessing she doesn’t.

2) The Wizard’s Glass is an object of Ring of Power/PalantĂ­r-level magic and addictiveness. I enjoyed how this sort of slowly worked its way into the story–brief unexplained joking references made to the Wizard’s Rainbow by the boys–before we get the flashback-within-a-flashback where Roland’s dad explains to them what these 13 magic crystal balls are and advises them to be on the lookout for the pink-colored one because it’s believed John Farson has ahold of it. It’s a hell of a coincidence that they happen to stumble across this very object in their backwater hideaway, but I guess that’s ka. Ka, destiny, fate, and magic are wonderful cheats for writers, you know.

3) Um, Walter is Flagg? Walter is Flagg! Admission: I had this revelation, which would have had me totally flipping my shit and probably actually waking my sleeping wife up this time around, spoiled for me by the dopey Wikipedia entry for Eyes of the Dragon, goddammit. I tried to convince myself it was a mistake, but I wasn’t good enough at that to un-spoil myself. Oh well, it’s still pretty fucking rad. But it begs quite a few questions: Walter/Flagg gives everyone who meets him, including cold-blooded killers, a serious case of the heebie-jeebies–so how come he fit right in as a “loyal” member of Roland’s dad’s retinue? Why pick a name that doesn’t have the traditional “R.F.” initials–is it just because King thought of Walter before Flagg and was stuck with the moniker? Did Flagg also have a non-R.F. name at some point during his career in the world of The Eyes of the Dragon or am I misremembering? Why does Walter speak in modern-day Flaggisms to Jonas (and presumably everyone else he deals with on Farson’s behalf) yet in the more archaic mode of Mid-World and In-World when he and Roland meet in The Gunslinger? Is that the part of The Gunslinger that gets the most heavily revised, in order to make Walter mesh with Flagg as we know him? Earlier “Argument” sections have called Walter a servant to the “even more powerful sorcerer” Marten–is he really Marten’s servant, and is Marten really more powerful, or is that deliberate misinformation, or did King just not know where he was going with all this yet, or what? Roland once recalled seeing Flagg–as Flagg, not as Walter, presumably–turn some dude into a dog while being chased through Mid-World by Dennis and Thomas from The Eyes of the Dragon–how did he not put two and two together? Does this, and Flagg’s ability to dupe Roland and his dad, have to do with his previously undisclosed power to appear as completely different people depending on who’s looking at him? When Walter warned Roland about the Ageless Stranger, he was really warning Roland about himself? Whose bones were those on the ground after Roland woke up from his long vision if not Walter/Flagg’s? Yes, questions, questions, questions, flooding into the mind of the concerned young person today.

Anyways, it’s a crackling good yarn. One final observation: I’m keeping my eye on Olive Thorin.

The Blogslinger: Blogging The Dark Tower, October 2007–Day 21

October 21, 2007

Read: Wizard and Glass–the rest of “Susan”

We’ve got ourselves quite the little page-turner here. The return to the fantasy language of Book One has made for the most assured and consistent section of the series since Roland’s journey through the desert and mountains. All the major beats seem to work here.

Roland and company’s three-on-three showdown with the Big Coffin Hunters unfolds at a tense yet almost leisurely pace, just the way you’d imagine these cowboy hardcases would start shit with each other. The time we spend alone with the BCH boys is time well spent, since like Gasher in Book Three they come across less like one-dimensional bad guys and more like people who’ve arrived at their current situation through a lifetime of conscious choices and reactions to circumstance. They’re bad guys you can understand.

Similarly, the mystery of what the heck’s going on in this backwater town–why they’re stockpiling horses and oxen, what they’re doing out at the oil patch, why all the town worthies are behaving so solicitously toward the Affiliation’s representatives–keeps you moving through the pages at a clip. Even when the mystery is “solved,” the secret presence of that magical glass ball at Rhea’s place indicates there’s still more to it.

I was sort of dreading the resolution of Susan’s post-deflowering bewitchment, since I find nothing pleasurable about the inevitable in fiction when that inevitable thing is the result of a ruse, but it wasn’t so bad. I’m sure her hypnotized hair-cutting will come back to haunt her in some terrible way–I’m sure things end badly for everyone involved in this tale but Roland, in fact–but at least she didn’t mutilate her face or genitals or something nasty like that. I’m glad it’s out of the way, too; I figured we’d be waiting to find out what was gonna happen until the end of this flashback.

Then again, I also figured the flashback would end with this section of the book, and now I see that it doesn’t. It looks like there’s significantly more flashback than present-day in this volume. I can live with that.

Oh God! Oh Jesus Christ!

October 21, 2007

Megan Weireter’s review of The Wicker Man at Not Coming to a Theater Near You is easily the best piece of writing on this film that I’ve ever read. The way she elucidates how our sympathies for the two dueling religions slowly reverse, how both are portrayed sympathetically even as their adherents behave abominably, how fair a film it is–simply masterful. Please read it if you care about the movie at all.

The Blogslinger: Blogging The Dark Tower, October 2007–Day 20

October 20, 2007

Read: Wizard and Glass–“Susan” chapters 4 & 5

I’m impressed with how well King’s handling the sudden mushrooming of his cast from a core of four people who are nothing alike, their pet, and the occasional sociopath they have to kill to an entire village-worth of Deadwood refugees speaking in faux-archaic patois. I kept a pretty good handle on who each person was, what they looked like, and what their motivation was in relation to the other characters. And any time it seemed this drama of Mid-World manners might get tedious, King throws in some world-building details about Farson’s forces or the gunslingers’ Arthurian roots, and bam, interesting again.

Still, it feels like we’re killing time before the obviously inevitable bloody showdown between Roland and his buddies and the Big Coffin Hunters, and before whatever nasty post-coital hypnotic suggestion planted in Susan’s head kicks in after she loses her virginity to Roland instead of Mayor Thorin. I mean, these things are clearly going to happen, right? Why dilly-dally?

Finally, King sure is flattering Roland by asserting that when he and the hotsy-totsy Susan meet, it’s she who feels compelled to rub one out while reminiscing about the meeting.

Worst Halloween Ever

October 20, 2007

That’s the subject of this week’s Horror Roundtable. Mine will take you back to those heady mid-’90s.

Get the led out

October 19, 2007

Short of Alyssa Milano’s Teen Steam, this may be the greatest videocassette of all time.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Eat your heart out, Fonda. Linnea Quigley will END you.

(Photo by Theremina. Hat tip: The Missus.)