Changing The Dark Tower – Part I – The First Three Books

When I first read Stephen King’s opus, The Dark Tower, I was much younger and eating through books like gravy and mozzarella covered curly fries while drunk in a diner. I was not yet a writer so my opinions on storytelling was much different.

As I am going through them again I am noticing their flaws. I still cherish this story but some of King’s decisions are strange and I think part of the problem is how long it took to finish the seven original novels.

Granted, this is just my opinion. I am sure some people believe the story is perfectly fine as it is. I am also sure, having done writing myself, that Stephen King is not lying when he talks about how difficult it is channeling Roland’s story and how the story wrote itself when he can.

Still, here’s what I would change going in chronological order of the books starting with books 1-3.

The Gunslinger

– Let’s start with the problem of Marten Broadcloak / Walter Padick / Randall Flagg. I like the idea of Randall Flagg being a cross-dimensional villain in Stephen King’s books but all the names and different identities are excessive. Marten Broadcloak is Randall Flagg is the Man in Black that flees across the desert. No Walter O’Dim, Walter Padick, and all the other names he goes by. It’s just too much.

– Plant more seeds for the Crimson King here. He’s mentioned once by a throwaway character in this book and then we never hear his name again until book four and only on some graffiti.

– All the information doesn’t have to be given at once but more insight into what Roland intends to do when he gets to the top of The Dark Tower should be foreshadowed here.

The Drawing of the Three

– If Nineteen is going to be a reoccurring theme, then start with it here.

– Give the readers hints that Marten (no longer Walter) is not really dead.

The Drawing of the Three / The Waste Lands

– The Drawing of the Three is by far the best book of The Dark Tower series but the best ending for this book is the part one of The Waste Lands. Jake Chambers should have been drawn to Mid-World in the second book. The reunion scene between Jake and Roland was the catharsis readers needed for all that tension in book two.

– Plus, now we learn the Ka-Tet will be following the path of the beam in book two rather than waiting until book three.

The Waste Lands

– With the drawing of Jake in book two where it belongs book three can end where it should, with the beginning of book four and the end of Blaine the Mono.

– Without the drawing of Jake in this book the story is kind of lacking. What it needs is more development of the overall plot. Like in the last book let’s get a glimpse of Marten’s / Randall’s point of view.

– It takes way too long to get to the plot of Susannah’s pregnancy, and not only diminishes this conflict but Mordred as a villain overall. Let’s start addressing it here.

– As early as River Crossing or somehow in the city of Lud let’s have the group find out there is something wrong with the beams rather than later on in the series. It’ll make the journey to the tower more urgent.

– Even more nineteen, that way close readers will start to see the patterns but casual readers will still be surprised in book five.

– With what horrors Roland and his Ka-Tet see in the waste lands, let’s acknowledge that they’re probably from the Prim, the primordial chaos where demons in Roland’s world comes from.

You can navigate to the other parts from here:

Changing to The Dark Tower – Part I – The First Three Books

Changing to The Dark Tower – Part II – Wizard & Glass

Changing The Dark Tower – Part III – Wolves of the Calla

Changing the Dark Tower – Part IV – The Song of Susannah

Changing The Dark Tower – Part V – The Final Book & Mordred: All Hyper, No Substance

 

How Green Lantern Rebirth Changed My Twenties

Back in 2004, freshman year of Suffolk County Community College, I was in a hip-hop group with my three closest friends. Then in November of that year, they kicked me out and would not hang out with me anymore.

It was deeply upsetting at the time, and pretty traumatizing. In hindsight, if it had continued I probably would have quit eventually. I didn’t enjoy the recording process nor did I have any focus for editing or making beats. The part I enjoyed the most was the writing. I had notebooks full of songs that I never recorded or performed but still continued to write new ones. The other part I loved was performing, it was thrilling. The amount of adrenaline you get from performing on a stage even though they were in high school talent show and a music showcase of all the school’s bands the adrenaline you get from it was crazy.

So my bridges burned with my former friends making music, writing music (and writing in general), and listening to the same music I had before left a bad taste in my mouth. I asked myself who was I before music? Well, before I discovered music at fourteen I was deep into video games. I started playing my GameCube heavily. Then I retreated further back remember this little comic book shop my mom used to take me to where I bought Spider-Man, Green Lantern, and The Simpsons comics.

The comics I read as a kid, as far as superheroes were concerned, were weird. Superman had a weird mullet, Spider-Man was a clone and Green Lantern had gone insane and replaced by another Green Lantern. When I walked into that same comic book store I had as a kid not knowing what I’d find what I found was the second issue of a comic called Green Lantern Rebirth by Geoff Johns. I held up and asked the guy behind the counter what this it was.

“Oh, they’re bringing back Hal Jordan from the dead and making him Green Lantern again,” he said. He offered me a deal for the first and second issue together and told me comic books came out on Wednesdays. I would buy comics there regularly for the next six years.

Hal Jordan (43)

I became entrenched in comic books and video games to fill the void listening to hip-hop and writing it had left. Comic books though reignited my love for reading that would spread to novels when my girlfriend at the time brought me to a Barnes & Noble. Before this I had only been to Border’s Book, and not in years. Last time I had been there it was not in good condition. This was two stories of book paradise, one with a graphic novel section that was lacking. Instead I picked up this beautiful leather bound copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams  I had seen at one of her friends house and The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King.

The more I read novels, the more I could see the weaknesses in comic book stories. Reading more novels led to more interest in literature. This led to me majoring in English which forced writing upon me. When I briefly dropped out in 2011 and into a deep depression it was writing that got me out of it and brought the love back I had for it back to the forefront of my brain.

All because I picked up Green Lantern Rebirth. 

GL-rebirth-cv

Childhood Memories of Sports – I

In my family from a very young age I was taught what teams to root for.

They rooted for the Yankees, the Knicks, the Giants and the Rangers. Both sides too, surprisingly. I had Yankee hats, t-shirts with Knicks logos, Rangers hoodies, and even a Giants Starter jacket. Remember Starter jackets?

It was a hand me down, that I remember, but I thought that Giants Starter jacket was so cool and so comfortable. I remember all the kids telling me the Giants were terrible but it didn’t matter to me. My whole family loved them so I tried to love them even though I didn’t watch a single game. Then in what I think was 4th grade I got out of my mom’s car and walked up to the elementary school around the block wearing my Giant’s starter jacket. As a walker, instead of someone who rode the bus, you would usually arrive early enough that they wouldn’t let you in right away. Some people that I knew were waiting outside when I walked up and everything was normal until one of them pointed out that a worm was coming out of the large front pocket was the staple of those jackets. I don’t know where it came from, how it got there, or why I didn’t notice it before but I didn’t live it down from those guys for a good two months or so which is forever in kids-making-fun-of-you time. Never wore that jacket again.

A more positive memory of sports was Super Bowl XXXII, the Green Bay Packers versus the Denver Broncos. My father and I were going over my uncle’s house for a Super Bowl party. My dad asked me if I wanted to enter the pool, and this was at a time when what little money I had in my kids wallet was few and far between and quite frankly going to more important things like Nintendo 64 games. I was mainly going to see my cousin and watch the halftime show on MTV which was one of the first episodes of Celebrity Deathmatch before it became a regular series. Still, my father was encouraging it and I wanted to be a part of the whole football crowd. Unexpectedly, I was the one who won the pool and I barely watched the game. I had no idea how the pool worked or why I really won it. My dad had just put me in and now I had enough money for about three new N64 games and maybe even a controller.

Lastly, a nice experience followed by a traumatic one all focused around my eyesight. It isn’t that I have no depth perception but very little. So little that trying to catch, hit, and throw a moving ball for me as a kid was next to impossible. In 3rd grade all the guys stopped playing childish things and instead decided to play football. The lead kid who basically ran the football games didn’t make fun of me per se but told me straight to my face that he didn’t want me to play because I was bad at sports. So I didn’t, and was pretty much the only one. I just wandered the old playground where nobody played before. I don’t remember being upset because he was right, I was bad at sports but also I didn’t want to play football either. No, I remember being bored. If I had been then like I am now I would of been reading and writing. Possibly even asking my 3rd grade teacher if I could go to the library.

Instead what happened was I had a friend in the class who taught me how to catch despite my vision and showed my new found skills in front of the lead kid. If he wasn’t impressed he was surprised and allowed me to play. I wasn’t really ever thrown the ball but I still was one of the tallest kids at the time so I played decent defense. Best of all that kid, who I thought hated me, was extremely nice to me ever since even saying hello to me in highschool long after we didn’t really know each other anymore with a warm greeting.

Then 4th grade happened, which was probably the worst grade for me in elementary school. I had the meanest teacher and it took me forever to make any friends  in the class. In gym every year when it got warm we played softball and I dreaded it because I struck out every time and couldn’t catch. This year though we had a new boys gym teacher and he was not satisfied with me striking out. He would not let me leave the batter’s mound until I hit that ball. I begged him after ten swings to just let me be out, after fifteen swings the other kids were getting tired of waiting to hit the ball, after twenty hits he finally let me go to the end of the batter’s line. I dreaded gym after that, crying at night when I knew a gym day was coming up, faking a stomach virus so I wouldn’t have to go. The teacher tried teaching me how to swing with more technique but he didn’t seem to understand that I was swinging where I thought the ball was, not where the ball actually is. Next time, same thing to both the scorn of the other kids and myself but this time I actually hit the ball after ten swings. It was a soft hit and I was caught out pretty quickly but I still did it. I’d eventually get my revenge during kickball when the gym teacher pitched the ball. I kicked it with all my might, not worrying where I was aiming it. My gym teacher’s privates never saw it coming and everyone had a good laugh.

That same year my closest friend in the class and I were the kind of friends who rough housed, push each other, play hit each other and the like. One day in gym when we were going to play dodgeball he took it too far. The gym teacher was in the back room getting out the dodgeballs while my friend I were leaning against the gym wall. Continuing our rough housing he grabbed me by the hand and swung me into the gym wall. It honestly didn’t hurt that bad but my mouth slammed first breaking one of my big front teeth in the process. The gym teacher came back, I told him what happened and I was sent to the nurses office where my mother would soon be called. I remember going back to lunch to wait for when my mom would arrive and the kid being on the verge of tears, apologizing profusely. I really wasn’t mad at him, it was an accident and I was glad he had not gotten in trouble. Meanwhile both that gym teacher and the principal were scarred out of their wits they were going to get sued. I remember telling my mom to do it, because I didn’t know better and so I’d have some money. We didn’t.

If you had an Imagination, Music Videos were always disappointing.

A little over a decade ago, before the rise of YouTube, music videos and MTV were on a slow spiral downward out of relevancy in the music industry. Artists were still making them, record labels were still paying for them and MTV was trying to make programing that could collect nielsen ratings from them. Total Request Live was not the hit show it once was post-Carson Daly, if you can believe it, and pirating music wasn’t going away anytime soon.

Now, music videos aren’t what they once were. Shows like Making the Video were a big deal, videos were often how artists premiered the song entirely, and those premieres felt like big events for the said artists following. Today, music videos are just part of millions of videos on YouTube. Some get a high number of views but it isn’t the same. If you missed the premiere of a music video you couldn’t just type the song into Google and watch it again, you had to wait for it be shown on one of the music channels again.

This may sound like I’m mourning the music video but in fact I rather disliked them. I’m not sure if other people listen to music this way, but when I hear a song I imagine the story behind it. Not what the songs mean but literally a story behind like a movie in my head. I once heard the song Australia by The Shin and had to immediately outline an entire science fiction novel (which I’ve never written.) The story I hear when I listen to a song doesn’t have the band posing while they play into a camera, no budget restrictions and no director deciding what his vision for the video is. My imagination has no limitations while music videos have nothing but limitations.

I guess dislike is a strong word in this case, because for the most part I don’t think about them and honestly don’t even search them out. If it’s the only way for me to hear a new song from a band I like thanks to YouTube I can just like on another tab in Chrome while it plays. It was only in my twenties that I thought about the limitations of video versus my imagination mostly from exploring the adaptation of books but I was teenager when I discovered my disappointment with music videos.

I can recall exactly where I was and what video it was. I was over my former best friend’s house and we were watching MTV waiting for the world premiere of Eminem’s Stan. I remember thinking, I’ve listened to this song at least fifty times. This is not how I imagined it at all. What were they thinking?

I didn’t understand budgets, productions, or the fact that unless you framed around programing there was no way for music videos to make any money because it didn’t count towards nielsen ratings. No nielsen ratings means no advertising means no money means Real World / Road Rules Challenge marathon.

I think part of the reason I loved underground hip-hop so much was because they couldn’t afford music videos so the picture playing in my head was never tainted by bad acting, no money, and poor decisions.

There’s only one music video that matches the story in my head, and I think part of the reason is that the video is so ingrained in pop culture that you can’t help but think of it.

That video is of course Michael Jackson’s Thriller