Category: Pop Culture

Gut Reaction Review – The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole

The Wind Through the KeyholeLast night I finished the final (maybe?) entry in Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” series entitled, “The Wind Through The Keyhole” (TWTTK). TWTTK is the 8th book in the series and takes place between the fourth and fifth books, however, it does not need to be read in the correct order. If you have finished the series, you can jump right into this book.

As a Dark Tower book, it’s kind of a let down. But as a Stephen King book, it’s quite good. To my first point, I was extremely excited to read another tale with Roland’s full ka-tet. Susannah, Jake, Eddie, and Oy are some of my favorite characters ever and while King has, through comics and short story collections, continued to expand the Dark Tower story, the rest of his group have only been in the core novels. Unfortunately, they are barely in this novel due to how it is structured. This goes to my second point. TWTTK is a great Stephen King book because it is a series of short stories, and King’s books of short stories are outstanding.

The spoiler-free synopsis is that while traveling between the events of Book 4 and Book 5, Roland and his ka-tet encounter a starkblast, which is best described as a cold-weather hurricane. While riding out the starkblast in safety, Roland tells his ka-tet a tale of when he hid from a starkblast when he was a younger gunslinger. When he encounters a starkblast in that tale, we get to learn of a different starkblast tale that Roland told the boy he was with at the time of that starkblast. It is here that we get to TWTTK’s central story of Tim Ross and his journey to save a loved one. Tim Ross’ short story is very good and could easily have been a stand-alone short story in one of King’s collections. Wrapping it in a Dark Tower book is an unnecessary, but still welcome, little treat.

Even if you are not a fan of the Dark Tower series (shame on you), there is a lot to love in “The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole”. The harrowing tale of a young boy on a quest to save someone very dear to him is an incredible short story and a modern day version of a classic fairy tale (but with some adult themes) in it’s own right. This is not a stereotypical book from “horror master” Stephen King, but it’s not a stereotypical Dark Tower book from him either. The bottom line is that it’s a great fantasy novel that can be appreciated by someone who is not Dark Tower-obsessed like I am.

Ackbar Would Not Be Alarmed Over This

I’m a geek. Probably no surprise there. As such, I know Admiral Ackbar’s famous line from “Return of the Jedi”. He screams, “It’s a trap!” as he realizes the Rebel fleet has been set up. Ackbar and his unforgettable line have become quite the phenomenon, spawning an Internet meme, T-shirts, and who knows what else? Despite this, I haven’t had too many opportunities in my own life to utter the phrase and earn some geek cred. It just doesn’t have the day-to-day potential as “That’s what she said.”

A few days ago I was playing Scrabble online with my wife and noticed I could spell the word “Trap” by placing 3 letters down on the board. Even though I was alone, I was not about to let this moment pass me by. I decided that I would speak one word of Admiral Ackbar’s catchphrase as I played each tile. Each word I would say more emphatically so that I was practically yelling the word “Trap” as I played the final tile. Never mind that I was alone and this was all going to happen in my head. It was still very proud of the geek moment I was going to partake in. I started playing tiles…

IT’S!

A!

TR…

Tarp? It’s a tarp?

A mild little instance of dyslexia combined with my excitement to get this geek moment at any cost resulted in my mind seeing a word that wasn’t quite there. It’s a tarp? Who would yell “It’s a tarp”? Certainly not Admiral Ackbar. Certainly not anyone at all. I can see why you’d yell about a trap. A trap could be rather scary. But a tarp? That thing’s not scary at all.

That’s what she said.

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I Perform This Way

Weird Al’s wonderful Lady Gaga parody… which was “rejected” by Lady Gaga.
Check out the full story, in Al’s own words, right here.

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From: The Conchords

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The Doctor Is In

Even though I’m watching the episodes at what can only be described as a snail’s pace, I am completely, head-over-heels in love with “Doctor Who”.

For those of you not in the know, DW is a British television show that expertly mixes science fiction and humor.  It’s been around a long, long time, originally hitting the airwaves in 1963 for an amazing 26 years.  After a 16 year break the show was relaunched in 2005, reintroducing everything for a new generation of fans (like me!), while still continuing the mythology that has been building for almost 50 years.  This is perfectly acceptable, due to the show being science fiction and The Doctor being able to “regenerate” into a new body; convenient when it’s time for a new actor to step into those large shoes.

The show is a huge success in the UK and has been gaining popularity here in the U.S. over the past few years.  If you like humor, sci-fi, British accents, time travel, or crazy villains and monsters, I can’t recommend this show enough.  Check it out.  The first four seasons of the “reboot” are available for streaming on Netflix and the most recent fifth season is available via disc.

Yes, I know this post is nothing more than my own personal commercial for “Doctor Who” and not something original or creative.  While not necessarily the best way to introduce new readers to this blog and my mind, its a little indicative of what will be happening here.  I will from time to time recommend something that I think is simply amazing.  And I can’t think of any better way to describe “Doctor Who” than “simply amazing”.

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The Mariner’s Revenge Song

We are two mariners
Our ships’ sole survivors
In this belly of a whale

Its ribs are ceiling beams
Its guts are carpeting
I guess we have some time to kill

You may not remember me
I was a child of three
And you, a lad of eighteen

But I remember you
And I will relate to you
How our histories interweave

At the time you were
A rake and a roustabout
Spending all your money
On the whores and hounds
Oh Ohhhhh

You had a charming air
All cheap and debonair
My widowed mother found so sweet

And so she took you in
Her sheets still warm with him
Now filled with filth and foul disease

As time wore on you proved
A debt-ridden drunken mess
Leaving my mother
A poor consumptive wretch
Oh Ohhhhh

And then you disappeared
Your gambling arrears
The only thing you left behind

And then the magistrate
Reclaimed our small estate
And my poor mother lost her mind

Then one day in spring
My dear sweet mother died
But before she did
I took her hand as she dying cried:
Oh Ohhhhh

“Find him, bind him
Tie him to a pole and break
His fingers to splinters
Drag him to a hole until he
Wakes up naked
Clawing at the ceiling
Of his grave”

It took me fifteen years
To swallow all my tears
Among the urchins in the street

Until a priory
Took pity and hired me
To keep their vestry nice and neat

But never once in the employ
Of these holy men
Did I ever once turn my mind
From the thought of revenge
Oh Ohhhhh

One night I overheard
The Prior exchanging words
With a penitent whaler from the sea

The captain of his ship
Who matched you toe to tip
Was known for wanton cruelty

The following day I shipped to sea
With a privateer
And in the whistle of the wind
I could almost hear
Oh Ohhhhh

“Find him, bind him
Tie him to a pole and break
His fingers to splinters
Drag him to a hole until he
Wakes up naked
Clawing at the ceiling
Of his grave

“There is one thing I must say to you
As you sail across the sea
Always, your mother will watch over you
As you avenge this wicked deed”

And then that fateful night
We had you in our sight
After twenty months at sea

Your starboard flank abeam
I was getting my muskets clean
When came this rumbling from beneath

The ocean shook, the sky went black
And the captain quailed
And before us grew the angry jaws
Of a giant whale
Oh Ohhhhh

Don’t know how I survived
The crew all was chewed alive
I must have slipped between his teeth

But, O! What providence!
What divine intelligence!
That you should survive
As well as me

It gives my heart great joy
To see your eyes fill with fear
So lean in close and I will whisper
The last words you’ll hear
Oh Ohhhhh

– – –
By The Decemberists

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Remains

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNtORr6RsJ4&fs=1&hl=en_US]

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This is SO Me

Click to enbiggen.

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Prince Convinced Me Not To Buy His Music

Prince, the artist formerly relevant, says the internet is dead. He’s quoted saying, “Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.”

To feed the idiot pony, his new album is named 20TEN.

He also has songs called 1999 and 7, which both have lyrics loaded with numbers. So, let’s do the math (pun) on this.

Filling your head with numbers is not good for you. Prince fills our head with numbers. Hence, Prince is not good for you. You won’t buy Prince’s new album if you know what’s good for you, which we now know thanks to Prince.

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Observe and Report – A Comedy That Lost It’s Identity

I recently watched “Observe and Report”, the other mall cop movie that came out last year, this one starring Seth Rogen.  I had heard bad things about the movie, but I enjoy goofy comedy and I like Seth Rogen.  With low expectations, I thought I would enjoy the movie.  Not quite, but kind of.

Most of the bad things I had heard about the movie centered on it’s ending and how dark and out of place it is.  Seth Rogen and the writer/director were quick to defend the movie, stating that the ending makes more sense if people had realized that “Observe and Report” is a dark comedy and not a silly comedy like Rogen’s other films.  After now having seen the movie, I can’t say that I agree with them.  “Observe and Report” is a silly comedy that has a lead character that should be in a dark comedy.

Honestly, Seth Rogen’s character is straight out of a dark comedy.  He’s tortured and tragic, barely coping with bi-polar disorder, an alcoholic mother, and a father that left before he was born.  Yes, he occasionally does something silly, reminiscent of the characters in his other movies, but in the end he is playing a deeply troubled and struggling individual.

Where everything falls apart is the characters around Seth Rogen.  They are all crazy silly just like the supporting cast in all of his other movies.  The other security guards that he manages are all incompetent fools.  The woman he likes is a stereotypical, airhead blonde.  The real cops are always pulling pranks on him.  The mall patrons are nutty.  There’s an over-the-top homosexual character.  His mother, while very alcoholic, is a very comedic alcoholic.  The greatly tragic character that Seth Rogen is playing is almost completely lost and buried beneath a supporting cast that is straight out of “Knocked Up” or “Superbad”.

I think that is why the shocking, dark ending is so shocking.  It’s a dark comedy that is not dark at all.  When it finally takes on that dark tone, it’s out of place.  And then it doesn’t even stay in that dark place.  In a matter of minutes, the supporting cast shows up, acts wacky, and the moment is lost.  I can see how this uncomfortable ending, combined with a Seth Rogen comedy that isn’t nearly as funny as other Seth Rogen comedies, had most viewers disappointed.

Sadly, I think the writer had a great concept in his mind when he started writing it.  Seth’s character is complex and tragic and would have made a much better story if it wasn’t for all the zany antics going on around him.  I hope the suits in Hollywood give him another chance to write and direct a movie.  I think he could put together a fine goofball comedy or dark comedy, just not a fine goofball, dark comedy.

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