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“The Dark Tower” or What To Do After “Harry Potter”

So, the final book of Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling has been released. Yes, I have it. No, I haven’t begun to read it yet but if it is as wonderful as the past 6 books, I know I won’t be disappointed.
There is another series circulating in town by a present day author that hasn’t made as much of a bang as the Potter series, yet it is equally as good, if not better. I’m talking about Stephen King’s Dark Tower series which, ironically, is also made up of seven volumes.
I’ve read quite a few of Stephen King’s books. I’ve read “The Stand”, “Jerusalem’s Lot”, “Hearts of Atlantis”, “The Regulators”, and some of the Bachman books, like “Thinner”, the latter of which were rejected by booksellers until they realized that Richard Bachman was Stephen King. Names sell books.
There is a book out now called “Crooked Little Vein” by Warren Ellis, who is well-known for his excellent graphic novels, published under the Harper-Collins imprint. I skimmed it, being an Ellis fan through his graphic novels, and the only disappointment I found was that my own novel Tales of the Troll: Junkies, Angels & Demons, hasn’t found a publisher yet and it is just as good as Ellis’s book. Of course, I’ve only sent it out to two places, which I won’t name, so maybe it is just sour grapes but people who have read it love it. Every chapter except for about five out of thirty-two chapters has been published somewhere and I’ve made a few chapbooks of it a number of times and sold out every time. Anyway, back to the main topic.
Two of my favorite Stephen King novels were “The Stand”, and “Hearts of Atlantis”. I love the “low-men”. Sorry, you won’t find any spoilers here.
I blew off The Dark Tower series for a number of reasons. One being, Mr. King wrote the first four and then stopped working on the series, except for in his head. It was close to ten years before he decided to take book 5, The Wolves of the Calla, out of his head. Within the next three years he wrote book 6, The Song of Susannah, and completed the series with book 7, appropriately called The Dark Tower.
Then, in 2006, Marvel Comics started putting out a portion of The Dark Tower in comic book form. Besides reading regular literature, I also read comics. I read hungrily. I am a word junkie, which beats being a heroin junkie, which I was for over three decades. I never stopped reading or writing; I just lost everything I wrote, except for a book of poetry I wrote in prison called Poison Pen, which I released as a chapbook, made 500 copies and sold them all.
But before I picked up the opiates, my drug of choice was fantasy. I day-dreamed in school, in the playground and at home. I finished Moby Dick by the time I was 8 years old. Truth to tell, it took me close to four months to read, but hey, I was just a kid.
Some of my heroes growing up were Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, and Philip K. Dick. There were plenty of others. On the darker side was Junkie by William Lee or, as we later found out, William S. Burroughs, who became infamous because of his book called The Naked Lunch. I think his best two books were “Junkie” and “Queer”. There are those who might disagree, but so what!
But, back to The Dark Tower by Marvel Comics. I read the first three installments; there were seven called The Gunslinger Born, and said to myself, “hmm, this is pretty good. I think I’ll give the books a chance. Peter David, who graphically wrote them — Thank you. And I started the first of the 7, called “The Gunslinger.”
Now, Stephen King, sometime during the period between books 4 and 5, like I said — about ten years — had a lot to think about. When he almost got killed by a Plymouth van in the late 90’s, his thinking changed. I know this for a fact because getting whacked by a pick-up truck, which I wrote about in a short story called “Getting Fixed In South Carolina”, in 1991, did the same for me. Yes, my story got published and a jazz group called The Jeff Robinson Trio made a Spoken Word cd about it that got written up by The Boston Globe. We only had the cash to make a few thousand, but, “Cry your pardon”, it did sell out and the story was published in a few places, just no place really big.
Bam, it changed my life. I stopped using heroin for the first time and went into recovery. But back to the main story, which is Stephen King and The Dark Tower.
Stephen King went back to The Dark Tower. He did some re-writing of the first four books and he worked diligently, totally inspired and gifted by the Muse like never before. You can tell whether you have the re-write of the first four because each of the new ones begin with a preface called “On Being Nineteen.” If you have one of the first four of The Dark Tower Series and it doesn’t have “On Being Nineteen” in the beginning “I cry your pardon”, you don’t have the finished product in your hands.
Now — I don’t know yet how “Harry Potter” will end up yet because I haven’t read the final book yet. I also don’t know how The Dark Tower series will finish because I’ve only read the first 5 books of the series of 7.
“The Dark Tower” series is good, really good. Did you ever read a book and hope it will never end because it was so good? If you have, then you know what I’m talking about. I don’t want “Harry Potter” to end, but, even more so, I don’t want “The Dark Tower” series to end.
“The Dark Tower” series is by far, in my not-always-so-humble-opinion, the best series of books that Stephen King has ever written. Jack Spicer, who is a great poet, once said that “Writers are the dictation machines of the Gods.”
Well the Gods were sitting on Stephen King’s shoulders, creeping in his ears, spinning around in his fantastical mind, which I wouldn’t want to get lost in, when he wrote “The Dark Tower” series. If you’ve read anything by Stephen King and liked it, if you blow off “The Dark Tower” series because it looks too long, you are doing yourself a major disservice.
The truth, and I “cry your pardon if you deny this and have forgotten the face of your fathers”, is that “The Dark Tower” series is too short. But so is life. Now if you’re just nineteen, then you have no idea how short life is, unless you are in Iraq, but, in the preface to “The Gunslinger”, which is the first of the 7, and in the next 3 books in “The Dark Tower” series, Stephen King, will tell you about “The Bad Patrol Boy” and how He’s gunning for you and you don’t even have a clue yet.
But that’s all I should say. Just walk into a book store; I like the Harvard Book Store on 1256 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, and look for a copy of “The Dark Tower” series, any-one of the first four, and read the preface. It’s called, and I know I’m repeating myself, “On Being Nineteen”, and then you might have some idea on how good “The Dark Tower” series is. Please, and “I cry your pardon”, begin with book one called “The Gunslinger.”
You’ll also want to look over your shoulder and have one hand on your gun. “He’s coming for you.” Whatever you do, read Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. Now that you’ve finished “Harry Potter”, you owe it to yourself to have another adventure, ya might say equally as good. Me, I think it is better. It’s the best writing Stephen King has ever done and it is probably the series which will follow him beyond the grave.
But what do I know? I’m just 61 years old and never thought I’d see that day.
One important fact. “The Dark Tower” series is not for children. It’s for people who were 8 year old when the first “Harry Potter” book came out. Do the math, then read this unbelievable series.

All props to you, Stephen King, and may you live long and well. I wonder if the guy on death row ever got to finish the series. Mr. King, you know what I’m talking about. And, The Old Woman, may the miracle take place for her.

And you — Read this, slow down and enjoy it. It goes faster than you think.

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For Sarah Hannah

A Sea of Candles
by Marc D. Goldfinger
for Sarah Hannah
“You lived somewhere for very long.
But the avenues by which you
could recall it
Have been closed for new construction.”–Sarah Hannah

When I hosted at the Tapestry of
Voices, Sarah was the opening
act. I didn’t have a clue

her candle was close to
being snuffed by her own
hand. The room was filled,

some seats by her students,
always a positive statement
about a teacher when those

who sit at your feet as you
speak attend a non-mandatory
event. I didn’t have a clue,

not even when her eyes met
mine how close she was to
the edge, but then I’m a counselor.

Some of her thesis focused
on Sylvia Plath when she
studied at Columbia U.,

later to teach at Wesleyan
besides playing guitar in
a heavy metal band. Heavy

metal guitar strings wrapped
around her ankles, verses of
poetry filling her throat, an

“obscure road winds me
sinister” she said, “Gas lamps
flicker” as they did on the

street where Sylvia Plath
died. Jack Spicer, according
to his own words, was killed

by his vocabulary, Sarah Hannah
was cut to pieces by her verse,
burned to beautiful dripped wax

by her own candle, a sea of candles,
a poet adrift, a light lifted by the
waves, then washed under whitecaps

on the evening of a salty wind.
A poet adrift, the fire hidden
by the mirror in her eyes.

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Blackwater, A Private Army

In today’s world, warriors have a place to go.  Blackwater.  One person owns it.  His name is Erik Prince and he is a “radical right-wing Christian mega-millionaire.

When L. Paul Bremer, who was Bush’s brainchild in Iraq until some time in 2004, was traveling around Baghdad he was protected by warriors from Blackwater.

These warriors are unhindered by laws.  A decree called Order 17 protects them from prosecution for war crimes.  Heck, it protects them from prosecution, period.  They can literally do anything.

The American press calls them “civilian contractors” which makes them seem like benign workers, but that is far from the case.  Erik Prince himself, when asked about his private army defined it like this — “When you ship overnight, do you use the postal service or do you use Fedex?  Our corporate goal is to do for the national security apparatus what Fedex did to the postal service.”

When Blackwater searches for mercenaries, they do not discriminate.  If you’re a warrior, someone who can kill excellently, efficiently and without a qualm, it doesn’t matter whether you’re black, white, oriental or Martian.  It doesn’t matter what country you come from.  The only thing that matters is your loyalty to your command.

Blackwater may be the most powerful army in the world; they don’t wear uniforms that make them stand out and they get the job done here in the U.S. and overseas, wherever they are needed.

The owner of Blackwater donates only to the Republican Party and knows what he wants.  The question is — does he want what is best for our country — or the world for that matter.

What would it take to have a military coup in the United States?  In any case, we might not need one; it could already be happening.  Who does George W. Bush work for?

Prince says his forces are “accountable to our country.”  Just what does that mean?

United States Representative Dennis Kucinich said, and I quote, “These private contractors can get away with murder . . . they do not appear to be subject to any laws at all and so therefore they have more of a license to be able to take the law into their own hands.”

Blackwater says they can do anything.  They claim to be part of the U.S. Total Force and also claim immunity from civilian litigation in the United States.

The only thing I like about them is their name.  Blackwater.  It doesn’t sound like anything I’d want to drink.

In May of 2004, Blackwater opened a new division, called Greystone Limited and registered it as a “tax-exempt” corporate entity.  Some of the countries recruits have come from are: the Philippines, Chile, Nepal, Columbia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, and Peru, all countries which have questionable human rights records.

Forget Iraq for a moment.  When Katrina hit New Orleans, Blackwater picked up some contracts to work there — about $243,000 a day’s worth.

“Unlike police officers, they are not trained in protecting constitutional rights,” says CCR’s Michael Ratner.  He also says, “These kind of paramilitary groups bring to mind Nazi Party brownshirts, functioning as an extrajudicial enforcement mechanism that can and does operate outside the law.  The use of these paramilitary groups is an extremely dangerous threat to our rights.”

I want to close this column with the fact that over 1,000 journalists have died covering local stories in their home countries over the past ten years.

Since 2000 the toll has increased.  147 killed in 2005.  In 2006, a record 168 journalists have been assassinated.

“The figures show that killing a journalist is virtually risk-free.  Nine out of ten murderers in the past decade have never been prosecuted,” according to Richard Sambrook, the chairman of the special inquiry and global news director for the BBC world.

Two years ago the institute decided to create a central authority for keeping track of assassinations of journalists.

Just recently, a Russian reporter covering a political hotball story was warned off.  In the beginning of this month Ivan Safronov, the journalist covering a story about Russia’s plans to sell top-shelf missiles to Syria and Iran, “fell” to his death from his apartment building from a stairwell window between the fourth and fifth floors.

I find it constantly amazing what humans are capable of.  When I was a little boy playing hide and seek in the woods with some friends.  Suddenly, three teenagers appeared and grabbed me.  They were much bigger than us; I imagine we were about 8 and they were about 14 years old, and the two boys I was with became frightened and ran away.

I don’t know where this would have gone but they beat and tortured me for over an hour and suddenly I broke away and ran out of the woods.  I was running down the street, literally afraid for my life with them hot on my trail when my father came up.  My friends had gone to my house and told my parents.

He grabbed two of them and knocked their heads together.  Nothing like this had ever happened to me and I remember asking, “Why did they do this?  This is as crazy as war.”

I am still asking “Why do we do this?  Are we a crazed species?  Shouldn’t we know better by now?  We are so intelligent.  How can we be so stupid??”

War will be the end of us.  While we fight and ignore global warming and the spread of different types of pollution in our world, the Earth is becoming diseased.

Soon, all there will be left is Blackwater, Blackwater, Blackwater, but none to drink.

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The Weston Priory

The Weston Priory is a monastery in Weston, Vermont and the Brothers there are wonderful. My wife and I just spent a few days, not staying at the priory itself, but at an inn, the Weston Inn (a beautiful friendly place) and went to the priory for Eucharist and prayer.

Nowadays, it seems as if the “in” phrase is “What would Jesus do?”

According to the Brothers, they ask, “What did Jesus do?”

You can find the answer if you look hard enough. I’m not really one of those extremely religious freaks but I think the above is truly the question.

Not really far from the above subject, of all the 21 richest nations in the world, the United States and Great Britain ranked last on child welfare. The Netherlands, followed by Sweden, Denmark, and Finland were at the top of the ratings.

Now, far from what we were just talking about, a squid which was 39 feet long was just pulled out of the Antarctic waters. It died, natch. If you made calimari rings out of the squid, they would be the size of tractor tires.

Dinner anyone?

This type of squid is called the Colassal Squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) and descend to 6,500 feet in the ocean. I wonder how many are left.

800 gorillas, 6,000,000,000 humans.

Countdown to destruction.

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About The Last Post

I guess they protect their bloggers by not putting in the e-mail address.

That’s all folks.

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Healthcare in the U.S. and George’s War

This is going to be quick folks and it’s a no-brainer.

George W. has bankrupted various corporations and it looks as if the United States will add to his list if he gets his way.

Not only that but a lot of our innocent men will die in a war that was unnecessary and started under false pretenses.

He wants to pour money into our defense budget and zap our people’s medical and food wellbeing at the same time. He likes to cut taxes to the rich and put the burden on the poor.

He proposes a 4.1% increase in defense and a 5% decrease in education. Our schools are suffering enough. You see students all over the country begging in a plethora of ways to fund programs that benefit them.

You also see a constant increase in body bags coming home and we’re paying good tax money to kill our own men and other innocents abroad.

George is proposing an 8% decrease in Home Security. Thank God he’s proposing a 13.3% increase to help war veterans. More and more shattered men and women are coming home from the war zones than ever before.

You know, this is a war that should never have taken place. Not only is Iraq in worse shape than ever before, which destabilizes the entire MidEast, but this is a real budget-buster and there’s no good way out. I saw it coming. I hoped against hope that it wouldn’t happen, but it did.

The world’s war machine eats more of humanities resources than we can afford. Not only do we endanger other species all over the world with our careless abuse of the environment, but our own species is in danger of being decimated or worse.

Clean water is vanishing, the ocean’s are being fished out, our tropical forests are being destroyed.

The United States is like Rome, falling into disrepair. George W. Bush, the Romneys and their ilk have more money than most of us can conceive. They don’t need Social Security but most of us do.

Back when I was young, teenagers didn’t come into school with automatic weapons and take out their classmates and I don’t mean to dinner. Maybe a fistfight here and there; every once in a while someone would pull a knife. Things have changed.

Well, that’s my rant for today. Go out and do something good for somebody today, flash a smile, drop a dollar into a homeless man or woman’s hand, donate to your favorite charity and if you don’t have a favorite charity, start one.

Pray for peace, then get busy working for it.

That’s your money the government is spending. Tell them what you want done with it. Say something before it’s too late.

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